I’m by no means an accomplished sewist, but I am definitely getting more confident. I thought it may be useful to put together a list of projects suitable for very new seamstresses, looking to start their sewing journey.
A great first beginner project is bunting. There is really no end to what style you can do it in, as there are so many combinations of fabric and methods out there to chose from, but basically it is just lots of nice straight lines you need to sew.The method I use to make bunting I got from Sew in Brighton, which I’ve summarised in this post. If you’re looking to get going with sewing, I can recommend booking into a sewing class. They’re a great way to learn the basics away from any distractions. There are classes springing up everywhere, so it is best google away to find one near to you.
I am terrified of zips, and this project changed my mind about them. I used this excellent tutorial from Rachel at Transient Expression to make this Russian doll patterned purse which I use as a make-up bag/pencil case.
Tote bags are really simple and also really useful. I have this book – S.E.W. Sew Everything Workshop which has really clear instructions for all sorts of projects, including a tote bag and a more structured handbag style bag which I made as a present a couple of years ago. There are also TONNES of ideas and tutorials on Pinterest!
I also came up with this tutorial which shows how to make a tote bag with a little pocket inside for you to stuff it up really small and bung it in your handbag. It took a couple of attempts to work out the engineering behind it!While I have made a pair of self drafted PJ bottoms, my plans for this year include making a dress. I have a couple of patterns and fabric all lined up – I just need some time to sit down and do it really. No more excuses!
Another ATC swap from Very Berry Handmade is here. Apparently, this is the biggest ever with over 50 sign ups. I think I’ve taken part in all of them apart from the first one now. The swap is an enjoyable challenge, as you have to think small which is harder than it sounds!I love the sound of the theme, and have a few ideas already.I treated myself to a bag of scraps from Wychbags the other week, and there are some great ATC-sized scraps for me to use. I particularly like the daisy print fabric. It is kind of a thin corduroy, and will be included somewhere in my ATC I’m sure!
I was going through my wardrobe and found a long dress which I’ve had for a couple of years. I bought it because of the lovely fabric. It is a really big, bold African print. However, the dress itself was slightly too short on me to be maxi, and I didn’t really wear it much.So I had a go at shortening it and making it into a skirt, which’ll get much more wear. I’m a big wearer of skirts and dresses at work, as I have major problems finding trousers to fit me. The only trousers which reliably fit me are jeans! One day I will psych myself to make my own trousers 🙂To make my skirt, I cut off the bottom of the dress to make the skirt, added a zip, gathered the top edge of the skirt and fitted it into a waistband with scraps. For the waistband, I used this excellent tutorial from Ditto Fabrics as inspiration. I didn’t follow it to the letter, as I’m hopeless at following directions but it did gave me a good steer.
The top of the dress was all shirred, and I cut it so it is long enough for a separate top, but I haven’t had a chance to hem it yet. I’ll post a picture when it’s done. It’ll make a great sun top though for when it is warmer than zero degrees outside…
I received my ATC on Christmas Eve, and then promptly went on holiday, so I haven’t yet had chance to post it yet. Here it is though, isn’t it cute? It came all the way from a very hot Brazil, and from Bea at Juntando Arte. It’s always nice to have post from far away, so much more exciting than bills. As I display all my ATCs throughout the year, Bea made it wintery but not too Christmasy, so it won’t look out of place when it finally gets warm here. Apparently, Bea used to live in the UK for three years and really loved it here. I must be honest, I love it here too (especially Brighton) but I do wish it was a bit warmer and drier…
There are a few more pictures on Flickr of some of the other swaps. I really like this robin one and this star one.
My friend and I timetabled in a crafting day to make Christmas presents, and I sent her a link to my Pinterest page. I had linked up some ideas based on the original conversations we’d had about what she wanted to make. In the meantime, I’d pinned a Kimono pattern, and she decided she wanted to have a go (I will point out she went on to say she had not sewn since school)!
We used this pattern from By Hand London as a guide – it is very good but we made a couple of minor alterations. We used some peacock chiffon fabric from Fabricland. This terrified me, as I have never sewn such slippy fabric. But this whole experience has weirdly made me less afraid of taking sewing risks. Normally I over-analyse myself out of doing things, as I worry they will not be perfect or too difficult, but my friend just jumped straight in, and had no worries about the potentially nightmare fabric. I really enjoyed showing her how to use the machine and learn to sew. She was also far less critical about my sewing abilities than I am about myself, which boosted my confidence!Anyway, these are the amends we made to the original tutorial. I apologise for the shocking photos, but it has been dark and rainy all day…
- We drew the pattern on pattern paper first, and cut out as suggested in the original tutorial (two sides at once). We used a combination of pins and masking tape to stop the fabric slipping. Once the T shape was cut out, we then unfolded it, and cut out the front neck v, as shown in the picture.
- We used the measurements suggested, but instead of making the bottom part triangular as in the original, we just made it straight.
- We zig zagged all the raw edges, as the fabric was very frayable.
- Because the fabric was so floaty, I made the executive decision to edge the neckline and armholes with bias tape. I thought that would be more stable than normal hemming. Fortunately, I had meters of the stuff in a nice purple colour which matched the fabric really well. We hemmed the bottom normally, as my friend has got some black fringing to finish it off by hand, and I felt really vindicated by my decision as it was a bit of a wibbly hem! The bias armholes have also made everything look a bit more structured.
I have kept the pattern and want to make one of my own now. I have some nice satiny navy and white fabric I got ages ago, which I think will work really well. I would also use either satin or velvet bias tape too (MacCulloch and Wallis have some lovely bias tape to choose from).
I’m taking part in the second Bugs and Fishes Crafty Tutorial Link-up! I took part last year, making a little embroidered felt stocking. This year, I decided on sewing again, but this time using the sewing machine. I chose to use some denim, as I had leftover scraps from some old jeans, and it looks nice and rustic. I was lucky enough to be sent some lovely Christmas ribbons to sample by Fantastic Ribbons, as I am one of their blogging team. The ribbons are lovely twill-style, rustic ribbons which work great with the denim. I have grand Christmas present wrapping plans for the ribbon I have left!
- denim scraps
- Twill-style Christmas ribbon (mine is from the great selection at Fantastic Ribbons)
- sewing machine
- Draw or print out a heart template, and cut out two denim heart.
- Have a play with your sewing machine settings to find a couple of decorative stitches.
- Pin two strips of ribbon across one of your hearts. Using the decorative stitches you chose, stitch decorative rows parallel to the ribbon.
- Fill in the gaps between the ribbon with different types of stitches.
- Sew along the top and bottom edge of each strip of ribbon.
- Pin the two hearts wrong sides together, and sandwich in a loop of ribbon at the top. Sew around, fairly close to the edge. Leave the triangle at the bottom open.
- Stuff your stuffing into the heart, and pin closed. Sew the bottom triangle closed. Trim the edges if needed.
You can find all of the tutorials here at bugs and fishes. There is some lovely, inspiring stuff!
Just a quick post to let you know that Very Berry Handmade has launched a winter sparkle ATC swap today! Spaces are limited to 40, so make sure you sign up quickly. You can sign up by leaving a comment on this post.
This will be my fourth swap, I have a proper little collection now, including this cute knitted one, a daffodil and this needlework one.