Saturday, 26 October 2013

Whim 13: Shirt!

This is a project I have been meaning to try ever since I watched the shirt challenge on the Great British Sewing Bee last year, and has been spurred on by finding a fantastically detailed book on shirtmaking in a charity shop a few months ago.

I eventually want to make my own pattern and unique and unusual design (as yet undecided) but as I didn't really understand how all of the cuffs and collars worked I thought it best to make one up from a commercial pattern first.

I decided on this Simplicity pattern because it seemed to use the traditional shirt parts that some more simple patterns lacked, and after completing it I am pleased that it has certainly primed me in most of the techniques I will need to make my own shirt design.
I used the gingham because it was very cheap (£3.00 a metre -I love Leicester market!) and I wasn't convinced that the size would be right (according to the size guide my bust fits the size 18  whilst my back is size 10 and hips 12 -after a lot of deliberation I followed the size 14 pattern and it actually fits pretty well!).Perhaps now I know it fits I'll make another out of a more exciting fabric.  

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Christmas tree decorations

I know it's only just October but I have been looking ahead to Christmas for the last few weeks - trying out a selection of felt and fabric tree decorations to see which ones are successful. I photographed them amoungst the holly in my garden to give a winter edge - don't think it worked too well though! My favourites at the moment are the two Xmas trees (white with buttons and lace, and green and red with buttons and embroidery) although I think the snowman could be easily improved with a few adjustments. Which one is your favourite? Comment below! 

Friday, 16 August 2013

Whim 12: Fruit Coasters

A trial here: Fruit coasters (Kiwi, Lemon, Strawberry and Watermelon) 
Varying success here I think, I like various parts of them and think they are pretty cute -but don't think they work well as a set - as the strawberry and watermelon look simpler than the other two. 
They were also very hard to sew - due to a terrible decision of mine to use fleece inside them instead of proper wadding. 
I am now thinking how I can improve them!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Whim 11 - Clamshell bag: 2

Another go at the Clamshell Bag. This time I altered a few things and I am much more pleased with the result. 

I love the mixture of the fabric too - An Amy Butler print and a green tweed-like fabric I saved from an old coat of mine. This picture shows the main fabric of the coat cut open:  

 A pretty good upcycle - even if I do say so myself!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Whim 10: Fabric Challenge 1, part 2 - Clamshell bag

Part 2 of today's fabric challenge completed and here is the result - I'm calling it the "clamshell" bag because it has a puffed circular bottom. This isn't strictly a tutorial post as the tutorial I followed ( is from a Dutch site and as the tutorial is in a PDF I couldn't translate it - I used the couple of pictures available to start me off and then made the rest of the process up.  The pattern was also for a really small childs bag and I wanted this to be bigger so I drafted my own pattern. 
The result is pretty successful although there are several things I will change before I make this again to try  and perfect it:

Body:   I think the sides are a bit wide so I will make it slimmer and slightly longer in the body - and secondly I will make a separate pattern for the front  (the tutorial used the same for front and back) so that I can dip the front edge to make it easier to get things out of the bag and for the flap to close more smoothly.
Button Fastening: Before I made the bag I thought I would have a buttonhole on the flap that went directly onto the main part of the bag. However when I had made the bag up I decided that there was too much space under the flap and to move the button underneath. This meant that I had to sew the button fastening to the already sewn together flap - rather than placing it into the seam (see diagram), leaving me with a small patch inside the flap - this looks ok, but is not ideal. 

Whim 10: Fabric Challenge 1. - Open wide Zippered Pouch (take 2)

Today a fabric challenge - two different items made using the same recycled fabric. The fabric I am using comes from a pair of French Connection trousers I found in a charity shop about 8 years ago. They were 4 sizes too small so I never imagined wearing them- I just fell in love with the fabric. I have never really found a use for them though so today I decided to just go for it. Here is the first item - another zip pouch (see whim 3) as I also wanted to practice making another of these cute little pouches.  

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Whim 9: Sewing Tidy/Case/Roll

Today brings this whim to conclusion, I have been trying to figure it out for a couple of days - It looks simple enough but with quilting, binding, zips and fastenings, it's actually been quite tricky to work out the best order to do things in. I am pretty pleased with the result though. I love some of the fabric - the main pattern on the front is an Amy Butler print that I found recently in a sale and the blue polka dot I printed myself.
The best thing about it is the feel that you get when you hold it - because the inside has been quilted with some condensed wadding to give it weight and depth - unfortunately I can't reproduce that feeling in pictures!
It was quite difficult to decide what pockets and spaces would be needed in the holder, and I looked at various existing designs for some ideas. I'm still not sure if I've got it right - guess I need to test it to be sure!

Whim 8: Scallop Tote Bag

This is actually something I did a few months ago, but I thought it would be nice to post as the tutorial is brilliant and the bag turned out pretty fab. The tutorial can be found here and it's got loads of pictures and a pattern. It was really quite easy and the scallop shape was easier to get right than I thought it would be. The hardest part was choosing the right sequence of fabric.  I decided to go for a blue/green/brown  theme rather than the more multicoloured ones on the tutorial pictures - only because I was using all found/ recycled materials and it can be quite hard to match the tones.

I love the result - the only thing I would change if I did it again would be to finish the edges of the seams fixing the scallops to the bag. Ok, they can't usually be seen, but it wouldn't feel right e.g. giving the bag as a gift, with unfinished edges.

Whim 7: Postage Stamp Brooches

so...uh, what more do I need to say? These are felt brooches, hand embroidered and inspired by vintage stamps. Some are more accurate to the originals that others, but all are based on real stamp designs. E.g.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Whim 6 continued: Mr Whiskers and Friends

Following on from my previous posts here is a picture of all of the cat cushions I have made this week -I had quite a lot of felted jumpers and I wanted to experiment with the design. Therefore they have range of colours, eyes and fabric - all I discovered was that there is no right and wrong - I love them all! Each one I make quickly becomes my new favourite!

Whim 6: Mr Whiskers

I've been away at my parents house for a week or so, but that does not mean I have been idle - in fact i've been busier than ever. Here is the first of a few posts to showcase what I've been up to. Meet Mr Whiskers!

He is a very cuddly cat cushion who is made from my stash of old felted wool jumpers that I have collected over the years. This particular wool has felted very well so it is very thick and heavy, which makes Mr Whiskers particularly lovely to hug. He is 100% hand stitched, with a wool blanket stitch around the edge, button eyes and is stuffed with quilt wadding as I had a huge bag left from recent quilting endeavours.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Whim 5: Dumpling Pouch

Another Pouch - getting a bit obsessive now I think! This time I followed a tutorial by Michelles Patterns to make a tiny but super-cute little dumpling pouch using some fantastic Amy Butler fabric that I bought recently in a fabric sale. It was really easy - despite going straight for "the Harder One" as I only had a 12" zip. I would recommend anyone to try this project especially if you have want to use up small pieces of fabric or you want to make something quickly!

Whim 4: Tie Tutorials continued

I have completed my hybrid design and made my Dad his birthday tie. The fabric may look a little garish and old fashioned in the pictures, but actually is lovely and has in it lots of my Dads favourite colours (or at least ones he gravitates towards when choosing clothes - so I hope it will go with at least one of his shirts!)

I was following two tutorials for this (The Purl Bee and Puking Pastilles) but both had positives and negatives about their designs and tutorials so I had to mash them together to get what I wanted. I found that The Purl Bees pattern was too short and skinny (not generally what my Dad goes for) and the Puking Pastilles one didn't fit together properly when sewing the front and the middle pieces. Therefore I decided to use the Purl Bee pattern with some length and width adjustments to make it more traditional and less"skinny".  

I also decided to use the Purl Bees method of just lining the bottom parts of the tie as I found lining the whole lot made it too bulky. Having said that I used a machine to stitch them in place rather than hand sewing as this had turned out ok when making the Puking Pastilles design, and there is already a lot of hand-sewing in this project!

I also used the Puking Pastilles method when sewing my tie together - only folding over one side of the tie and overlapping it with the other side (see hastily drawn picture below!) as I found it easier. 

So, there you have it - the method I propose is a really mixed hybrid of both of these great tutorials- and it seems I am not alone. After completing my tie and looking for the links to the tutorials I have added here I found  this blog (Pins and Bobbins) which makes pretty much the same conclusion and uses the same mixed method - which gives me the feeling that we've both made the right decisions!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Whim 4: Tie Tutorials

A bit of a fist fight here with two competing tutorials. I waned to make a tie for my dads birthday - so consulted the internet for help. These two tutorials (Father's Day Tie at the Purl Bee and 'The Best Men's Tie Pattern' at Puking Pastilles) seem to be the most popular and fully described so I've tried both of them out. I suppose the contest is a tie (pun intended) - there are positives and negatives about both patterns and tutorials so I'm going to try a hybrid for the actual birthday tie.

Whim 3: Open Wide Zippered Pouch

This morning i found this lovely multi-coloured material in the market (which I got for a bargain price due to a it having a slight tear in one of the selvedges) and of course wanted to use it immediately! At the market I also found this chunky zipper for 50p, so decided to combine the two.
As the zip was so big I couldn't trim it down to fit my standard pouch, so thought i'd try this this tutorial by noodlehead as you can use a longer zip and a pull tab (a cute extra touch).  As well as the fabric from the market I also used some denim from an old pair of jeans on the bottom of the exterior, and a green cotton fabric salvaged from an old shirt for the lining. Altogether an incredibly cheap make!

The tutorial turned out to be brilliant, very easy to follow with super clear pictures and each stage explained in detail!
I'm very pleased with the result, especially because I normally have a dilemma about whether to topstitch the top edge or not (as I haven't found a reliable enough method that doesn't mess up the corners of the zip) but here it is simple to topstich after everything is already sewn together which has eliminated that problem. I also love the lovely pull tab on the end of the zipper.  - Will definitely make again! 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Whim 2: A pair of pouches

This is a technique I have been meaning to try out for a while - and what easier way than to make a couple of little pouches/purses/small zipped bags. The technique involves cutting the middle out of the spots on a polka dot fabric, underlying another contrasting coloured fabric (e.g. reverse applique) and sewing around the edges with embroidery thread.

Whim 1: Booglie-Wooglie Piggy

I found this adorable piggy plush on a Korean website (via Pinterest and knew I had to have one! Then, in a stroke of whimsarium luck, a student of mine had some of this pink fleece fabric left-over from a project and i persuaded her to let me have some. And ta-da: a pig was born!

Monday, 15 July 2013

About the whimsarium

I have always had a flighty and spontaneous crafting demeanour. I don't like to plan, I like to cut and sew and get stuck straight in. I hate waiting to find the perfect bit of fabric or going to get the correct piece of equipment from the shops. I want to make it NOW! 
I have tried to beat down this urge over many years - but not anymore! Here is the place for me to revel in my random crafting desires and showcase each one of my 'whims'.