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Thank you for visiting my blog and allowing me to share my thoughts and pictures with you. You will find entries on a number of topics, including sewing and cooking and life in general. I have also attempted to create some useful resources in the form of recipes and sewing tutorials.

There will also be occasional guest bloggers.

I look forward to hearing your comments.

Whilst you're here, why not visit my shop which offers unique, handmade (by me) ladies bags & accessories and children's clothing ?  Thank you !

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Category: Tutorials

  1. Dress A Girl Around The World - #stitchingsisters

    Posted on

    There is a wonderful project called "Dress A Girl Around The World" which I became aware of due to the tweets of Louise Horler or @sewscrumptious.

    Louise explains it best in her blog :

    "At the beginning of 2011 an article in a sewing magazine about a charity in America called ‘Dress A Girl Around the World‘ caught my eye. People who could sew were asked to make simple pillowcase dresses which were then delivered to girls living in poverty in the developing world. Girls in countries like Uganda, Rwanda, Haiti and India. The charity felt that every girl should own at least one pretty dress."
    Malawi dresses


    Louise is the central collection point in the UK for the pillowcase dresses and organises distribution to places such as Malawi (pictured above). As you can see one of these little dresses can bring real happiness to a little girl ! The project also encourages sewers to make shorts for little boys.

    The patterns are available through the blog and are easy to follow even for novice sewers. I decided to follow an even simpler pattern which means all you need is two pieces of fabric (or even a pillowcase or tea towels), some ribbon and a basic sewing machine. All you need to be able to do is iron and sew in a straight line. This patterns comes courtesy of Sew like my mom, and is free for personal and charitable use. There is also a pattern utilising an overlocker (serger) which I have been using

    I have now made nine, as once you start it becomes quite addictive !

    Dresses 1 Dresses 2
    A selection of dresses Dresses made out of normal fabric, a sheet and two tea towels

    I have made dresses out of alsorts of fabrics, the only rule is that it musn't be too thick or see through. I have used all new fabric, a bed sheet and tea towels, but you can also upcycle fabric as long as it is in good condition.

    My Twitter friends, on hearing about my progress and seeing pictures of the dresses, soon joined in and we now have a little Twitter posse made up (in no particular order) of @fishtankfairy @thegreedymagpie and @quilterdown, who have each made at least three dresses already. I have asked each of them for some pictures, so will be updating everyone soon with their little works of art. Other Twitterati who are poised to join the #stitchingsisters ( as we have called ourselves ) are @orinocobunting, @MissKazieB and @wigglemoretimer, and more are ready to make a start in the near future. Two of my Facebook friends are also busy stitching.

    So, if you want to join in this good cause then please either get sewing and post pictures of your efforts on Twitter using the hashtag #stitchingsisters, or if you can't sew dig out any fabric, sheets, ribbon, etc. that you might have and give it to someone who can. Maybe this will acually make you pick up a sewing machine for the first time and give it a go. @fishtankfairy is a relative novice to sewing, but found the pattern an easy one to follow, so let her be your inspiration.

    See you on Twitter#stitchingsisters !

  2. Sewing with kids - easy tote bag

    Posted on

    I meant to post this tutorial last year, but for one reason or another never quite got around to it.

    If you are looking for an easy first project for yourself or for a child aged eight or older, then this fully reversible tote bag is ideal. For a complete beginner, the process should take no longer than 1 1/2 hours.

    paige finished tote 600 Here is Paige ( at the time aged nine ) modelling her finished bag, which  she made all by herself with a little help from me.

    You will need :

    2 - 13" x 12" fabric in a heavy weight fabric such as canvas, duck, denim, upholstery etc. If you choose not to use a heavyweight fabric, you will need to use interfacing to strengthen it. We will call this fabric A.

    2 - 13" x 12"  contrasting/matching fabric in any weight, although fabrics which are thicker will be easier to work with. Fabric B.

    1 - children's or small adult's fabric belt.

    Sewing machine, only requirement is that it needs to be able to do straight stitch.



    Matching thread.

    Size 90 sewing needle.

    Instructions :

    Step 1 - cut out required fabric. Supervise a younger child or do it for them.

    Step 2 - cut fabric belt in half, set aside.

    Step 3 (if a beginner sewer - otherwise choose your preferred method) - pin together fabric A rectangles with the right sides ( that is the sides that you later want to see ) together. Using a short stitch of between 2 - 2.2, and a 1cm seam, sew together two shorts edges and one long edge, back stitching at the beginning and end for strength. If your fabric has a uni-directional pattern on it ensure that the patterns will run the right way up on both sides once it is turned right way out ! Leave the finished piece A inside out. Snip off the bottom corners to give a neater finish when you turn it. Press the seams open - I suggest you do this for a younger child rather than letting them do it for themselves.

    Step 4 - repeat step 3 with fabric pieces B, but this time leave a gap in the long edge of about 4 - 5" to allow you to turn the bag later. Turn the bag right side out again.

    paige at work  
    Paige at work  

     Step 5 - centre the cut end of one piece of the belt on the seam of piece A, aligning with the unfinished edge, pin or to make sure it stays in place, stitch into place close to the top of the fabric. Do the same with the other piece on the other seam.

    Step 6 - tuck piece A into piece B and align the seams, ensure that your belt handles are tucked in between the pieces and pointing down. Pin together. Sew fabric tops  A & B together using a short stitch and a 1cm seam allowance. Take it slowly over the bits containing the belt as your sewing machine may otherwise skip stitches. If it does, try using a larger needle or a denim needle.

    Step 7 - using the gap you left in piece B, pull out piece A. Iron both pieces, tucking the edge fabric left in the opening into piece B and pressing into place. Close the opening either by hand using a slip stitch , or use your machine on a short stitch setting and stiching the opening shut very close to the edge. 

    Step 8 - took whichever side you want as the lining into the bag and your bag is finished (unless you want to topstitch it for a really professional finish). Fasten the handles, by using the original belt buckle or fastening. By using a belt the handles are even adjustable without any fancy sewing !

    Step 9 (optional) - topstitch around the top of your bag, using a longer straight stitch quite close to the edge.

    Now you have a bag to be proud of, AND by simply turning it inside out you can have another look if you choose. Paige chose snow leopard print and black, but I think she definitely preferred the leopard side of the bag ! Since completing this bag, Paige has shown it off at school during "show and tell", practiced on her gran's sewing machine, and received a sewing machine for Christmas. She is a very talented girl, so expect to see more of her work in the future. paige finished tote 600 end

    I would like to say a big thanks to Paige for being a willing pupil and model !

    I hope this tutorial inspires you to try your hand at making your own bag, but please only use this pattern for personal, non-commercial, purposes. If referring to this tutorial, please link to this page. Thank you and enjoy :).

    Any questions or comments, please use the comment box.