House plushie

A little while back, I decided I fancied a small sewing challenge. I have some IKEA house print fabric in my stash, left over from a variety of different projects, and I used this as a basic template to make a house plushie.
house fabric template Having selected my favourite house shape, I cut it out (and a matching bag shape from some retro floral sheet). I appliquéd on the window shapes, using a couple of different coloured fabric scraps and the sewing machine.  
house pinned in place

To finish off, I used piece of scrap ribbon as a hanger and sewed the house shapes together, right side together (following the black outline). Make sure there is a little gap to stuff it with! Sew up the gap using ladder stitch.House finishedThis was a fun little project, and you could just as easily use a sharpie or a fabric pen to draw the house outline. It hardly took any time at all to make, so could also be a useful last minute present idea.

1910 Singer sewing machine manual

I have an old Singer machine, which you can read a bit more about here. Well, the other week, I was checking out the Betsy’s Button Shop Facebook page. This is always interesting, as she sells lovely bits and bobs, but the 1910 Singer sewing machine manual caught my eye. I thought it may come in useful for really getting to grips with my machine. singer sewing machine manualIt really is a work of art, the same as the machine. Check out the graphics on this page about how to wind the bobbin.
singer sewing machine bobbin instructionsThe only problem is that it is incredibly fragile, so I’m going to have to be really nice to it to make sure it doesn’t fall apart.

Draw string bag tutorials

I went home to visit my family last weekend, and while I was there I had a bit of a sewing session with my mum. She’s meant to be doing a sewing workshop soon, and felt she needed some prep before she went. We used this old Singer machine, which used to belong to her mum, but she passed it on as she no longer uses it. We had it serviced, and it runs really nicely now.old singer sewing machineMy mum decided she wanted to make a little bag to put the pedal and wires in. So we raided her as yet quite small sewing stash, and used one of the fat quarters I bought her for Christmas! For maximum practice, we also sewed on a pocket decorated with an appliqué owl, and a long hidden pocket inside for scissors. sewing on pocketHere’s the finished item, complete with Bryn the dog. I’ve also found some links to some different types of draw string bags on Pinterest. They all have great instructions, enjoy!completed draw string bagDraw sting bag tutorials

My mum sent me a picture this morning of another bag she’s made, this time with cat appliqués. I think she may be addicted!


The mechanics of sewing

Just a quick post today – I spent my morning having a lesson on how to use my overlocker. I booked it through Sew in Brighton, who do an overlocker day class, but I did mine today on a one to one basis.

I got a Pfaff Hobbylock 794 a while ago off the internet, in a fetching colour combo of brown and cream, for about £30. Yes, I know this is risky and when I got to my session this morning, it wouldn’t start at all! It turned out there was no fuse, but once that was in place and we jigged it round a bit, it ran fine. Apart from the fact that it appears to be stuck on “on” or “off” so can’t currently be controlled by the foot pedal. So it needs a service which I will get done over the next few weeks (if you live in or near Brighton, I recommend Richard Mouland who has previously serviced my sewing machine and got it working again when it broke).

All in all, I think it will make sewing stretch so much easier, and it was by far not as scary as I thought it would be. I’m going to book another session once my Hobbylock is serviced, to learn some more of the ins and outs, and hopefully sew my first stretch tshirt!

All this got me thinking, I really need to get myself a more reliable sewing machine. My machine is very basic, noisy and temperamental. I spend far too long rethreading, sorting tension and tangles out. Does anyone have suggestions of an affordable, reliable machine? I don’t need anything mega fancy – just a workhorse really.

Mini quilt work in progress

I felt inspired the other day to just go mad with fabric and see what happened.  I vaguely had the idea of making a mini quilt as a present, and picked out some fabrics which looked nice together.  patchwork quilt pink

When I had cut them out, I noticed that there were some bits where the fabric was slightly too short, so I patched in some stripes to get the right width.  Now, I am not very good with straight lines and tidiness, so the end result is “deliberately” shabby chic.  I also seem to have swapped the order of the squares around too!spots and flowers patchwork quilt

Once I had done the one side, I was thinking how best to do the back with my random selection of not-quite-big-enough bits of fabric.  So I decided to do another scrappy patchwork quilt. flowers and spots patchwork quilt

This one has a few more stripes in it, as the pieces of fabric got smaller!  As for how to quilt it, I’ve been hand quilting circles.  When it is all finished, I will post more pictures, but I’ve put one on my twitter page already (which got retweeted by @LoveSewingMag)!

I’m quite excited to see how it all turns out.

DIY pyjama trousers

I am far too pleased with myself today, as I have made my first functional item of clothing!  Well, pyjama trousers anyway.  I used an old sheet, and cut the fabric so I didn’t have to hem the bottom of the legs (lazy me).pyjamas on washing lineThey are not quite perfect (I have high standards!) but I will be building on the experience to make even more exciting things in the future.  I used a couple of Pinterest tutorials, from Gluesticks and My Cotton Creations to help with the engineering of it.  I took pictures throughout the process, but the earlier photos were taken when it was quite dark, so they are not very good quality.  The later ones are much better!  Hopefully the process makes some sense though.


  • Fabric (measure your existing pjs and a bit extra to work out how much fabric you will need)
  • Wide elastic (enough to fit around your waist comfortably)
  • Pattern paper
  • Pins, cotton, fabric scissors
  • A pair of pyjama trousers which fit


  1. Trace around one leg of a pair of pyjama trousers on your pattern paper, and add a seam allowance around the curved leg seam.  Also, don’t forget to add a couple of inches at the waist, to accommodate the waistband.
  2. Fold your fabric, and line straight edge of your pattern against the folded edge.
  3. folded trouser legI took a genius tip from David from the Great British Sewing Bee.  He suggested taping your pattern onto the fabric instead of pinning it.  Pinning seems to be where I panic, and I end up making the fabric slip out of shape.  Taping the pattern and then cutting the fabric made life so much easier – no slipping and it also saved so much time.  I’ll definitely be trying it again.  I used normal masking tape, as it was only on the fabric for a short time, it was fine.masking tape pin
  4. TIP – When you cut your trouser legs, make sure you have a left and a right one, especially if you’re cheating like me and use an existing hemmed edge! trouser legs
  5. With the fabric right side together, pin the inside leg seams and sew to the bottom of the crotch.  Finish with a zig zag stitch to reduce the likelihood of the fabric fraying.
  6. Now for sewing the crotch, I used Gluesticks methodology, which is to keep one of your trouser legs inside out, and then insert the other trouser leg into the first one, so right sides are facing each other.  Gluesticks explains better than me!  Line up the leg seams, and then pin and sew the crotch seams.  I double sewed the crotch to give it a bit more strength.  Zig zag the edges to reduce the likelihood of fraying. pinned pyjama crotch
  7. Once you have finished the crotch seam, put your trousers the right way round.  Try them on, and pin where your waistband needs to be.  Measure out and cut your elastic.
  8. Fold over the fabric for your waistband, and tuck the raw edges under.  Pin in place and then sew.  Make sure the waistband is wide enough to accommodate your elastic. TIP – leave a gap of around 2 inches around one of the seams to insert and pull out your elastic.pyjama waistband
  9. Pull the ends of the elastic out, sew them together and tuck them back into the waistband.  TIP – make sure the elastic has not been twisted in the waistband, and is straight before you sew it together.  Sew the gap in the waistband together. folded pyjama trousers
  10. You could add embellishments if you want, such as a lace or ruffled hem.  My Cotton Creations gives instructions on how to make a nice ruffle edge.  You could also make them Capri length or short length.  Shorts are on my list to try, as I have some pillowcases which would work well!  This idea can be scaled up or down, according to size, just make sure you have enough fabric to hand.  I’d love to hear from you if you try making a pair yourself.

Singer Sewing Machine

I am so, so excited at the moment!  When my parents came down this weekend, they brought a sewing machine with them.  I have only just had chance to sit down, open up the case and see what it was like.  I don’t know what I was expecting but I got this hand crank Singer machine, which explains why it weighs a tonne if nothing else!  I remember using it when I was very little, beyond that I know very little about it. singer machine full view

I’ve just done a quick google of the serial number and found this page on the Singer website.  It seems that the machine was made in 1920. singer serial number

I have had a bit of a play with it and it seems to running smoothly.  I think I’m going to have to find a tutorial somewhere to get my head around how it all works again.  It is so beautiful though, and definitely built to last (note to my current machine which throws regular tantrums when I work it particularly hard)…