Neonatal bonding squares – made with fat quarters

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I want to sew, but haven’t got the concentration to make anything. I want to do something with my hands but haven’t got the patience or energy to pay attention to instructions or tricky techniques. Well now I’ve found the perfect remedy!

I saw on Instagram a while back that the charity embrace_esh was appealing for bonding squares, which are used by parents with babies in the neonatal unit at East Surrey Hospital. They are given in pairs; one square is kept by the parents and the other is given to the baby, then after a while they are swapped over so they can get used to each other’s smell, which helps them to bond.

The second best thing about these squares (of course helping families to bond is #1) is that you can use all those fat quarters and remnants you have lying around – they’re only 20cm square so they don’t take much fabric at all.

For my first squares I decided to use these lovely fat quarters  as they had a nice mix of baby-appropriate colours and patterns. They’re a lovely quality cotton so should feel nice against the skin.

The process of making them was really simple:

  1. Cut squares 22x22cm (I used a rotary cutter and quilting ruler as it’s much quicker than scissors). I cut pairs of squares so that the fabrics would match for the parents and baby, but I’m not sure if that’s obligatory.
  2. Right sides together, sew around the edge with a 1cm seam allowance, leaving a gap for turning.
  3. Trim the corners and turn right sides out.
  4. Press and top stitch around the edge.
  5. Send them off to charity and enjoy the warm fuzzy feeling!

 

I will definitely be saving my cotton remnants and fat quarters for more squares as they’re always needed. I don’t know of any other charities collecting bonding squares but you could try getting in touch with your local hospital if you’d like to donate some locally. A word of warning though, these are addictive! They’re the perfect quick sew and a great use of cute fabrics.

For more information on supporting Embrace_esh and the Neonatal Unit at East Surrey Hospital give them a follow on Instagram and visit their Just Giving page

Pink and lilac gingham Seren dress

As soon as I laid eyes on the pink and lilac gingham fabrics that Sammy newly stocked a couple of months ago, I knew I needed a picnic blanket dress of dreams!

Gingham is very much my jam but i’ve always stuck to safe old black and white…a classic. But, these colours filled me with so much joy I quickly snapped up 1.5 metres of each planning some kind of mash up of both colours. This is really great quality cotton, it’s soft and brilliant to work with.

 

 

(I talk about my plans and inspiration in another blog post so I won’t go into too much detail but there were a few pictures on Pinterest that inspired me…  read my gingham plans post here)

I loved the idea of a button down dress that was fitted at the waist and so i thought a Seren Dress (Tilly and the Buttons) hack with tie detail straps would be perfect!

 

Instead of cutting the bodice back and skirt on the fold I cut the pieces individually and stitched them together so the skirt is pink and purple on the back and the front and the top is the same…rather like a battenberg cake!

I used these gorgeous four holed enamel buttons to top off this sugar coated dress! They come in four different sizes and pink or black options…I’ll definitely be using the black ones at the earliest opportunity!

I’m still considering adding some big patch pockets to the skirt front and making a matching bag…better get on that before the summer is gone!

 

Do you love gingham? What would you make with this pretty cotton?
 
Debbie x

Back to school – DIY Project bag tutorial!

I can’t believe we are thinking about back to school already…it’s been such a bizarre year! Back to school may mean the return to school for your kids, you if you are a teacher or nursery carer or just marking the start of the Autumn and a new begininng!

When it comes to Autumn I get excted about the prospect of cosy evenings snuggled up with a hot drink doing some mindful stitching or making some new garments with more of a winter feel.

This year it’s also going to be about getting organised and trying to get back into some sort of routine. 

 

I’ve been scouting Pinterest for a useful bag to store projects or for my daughter to use for school (PE kit etc) and have found some really gorgeous drawstring cotton bags. I’ve adapated the design slightly and come up with a good sized bag perfect for carrying a few craft bits, knittong, make-up, school stuff or just for your wallet keys, face mask etc! It’s an adaptable pattern and could also be used for a lunch bag with some wipe clean fabric.

This works brillaintly in the Rico cotton canvas in Rose   but would also work brilliantly with quilting cotton….a little patchwork one would be fabulous! I’ll definitely be making a few more of these!

You will need:

1/2 metre fabric for lining and main body of bag. I used the same fabric for both but you could make the top drawstring part of the bag from a contrast fabric.

1/4m iron on interfacing (I used a heavy weight one as I wanted a very structured bag but be mindful this created very thick layers to work with whilst sewing!) 

28″ of 25mm webbing or similar

64″ cotton cord

Scissors

Cut the fabric as per the template below and use a 1cm seam allowance unless otherwise instructed…

Step 1.

Pin outer bag fabric with right sides together and stitch along long bottom edge. Press seam open.

Step 2.

Press interfacing to wrong side of outer bag fabric. the interfacing is slightly smaller than the main fabric

Step 3.

Once you have ironed on the interfacing, fold this piece in half with right sides together and stitch down each short side.

Step 4.

Now we are going to make some box corners. Pinch the corners making sure the seam line down the side of the bag matches with the fold line along the bottom .

Step 5.

Measure 2″ up from the point and mark a line across the corner. Pin in place and stitch across this line and trim the excess away. Repeat for the side.

Step 6.

That is your outher bag ready for the rest of construction! Give the seams a little press and marvel at those box corners…so very satisfying!

Step 7.

Take your two pieces of webbing and pin to the outer bag 3″ in from each side seam on both the front and the back and stitch in place using a small 0.5cm seam allowance.

Step 8.

Now to prepare the lining. Fold the lining piece in half with right sides together and stitch down each short side, leave a gap of 3″ in one of the side seams, this is where we will turn our bag through later!

Step 9.

Prepare the box corners in the same way you did for the outer bag in steps 4 & 5. You don’t need to turn the lining right side out as it will be attached to the main bag as it is.

Step 10.

To make the top drawstring part of the bag. Fold each piece of bag top fabric in half length ways with wrong sides together and give them a good press with a hot iron

Step 11.

Pin the two top pices together with right sides facing and at each short end mark a 1″ point either side of the centre crease you ironed into the fabric in step 10. This will become the channel for the rope later. Stitch down both sides leaving this 2″ gap open on each end.

Step 12.

Press the seams open and top stitch down each side of the seam you have just sewn, close to the edge, to make a neat opening for the cord to go through.

Step 13.

Fold the channel in half with wrong sides together and the raw edges meeting and press.

Step 14.

Mark a line 1″ from the top fold (where the holes for the cord are) and stitch all the way round, this will be the channel for the cord.

Step 15.

Now we are going to attach the channel we just made to the main bag. With right sides together pin the cord channel to the bag making sure to match the side seams. Stitch al the way around.

Step 16.

Now to add the lining! Pop the bag inside the lining, right sides together and pin the raw edges. stitch all the way around using a 1.5cm seam allowance.

Step 17.

Turn the bag through the hole we left on the lining. Stitch the gap closed. Give it a press and then top stitch all the way around the bag just below the handles to hold the layers neatly together.

Step 18.

Add the cord drawstring by thread through one of the pieces starting at one end (I used a safety pin to help puch it through) then do the same on the other side of the bag and tie both ends in a knot.

There you have it! This is a really great make…we can’t wait to see yours! If you do give this a go make sure to tag us on instagram using #sccrafty

Bottle green bellissima jersey top

Sally's Somerset top and trying a new colour...

 

I don’t know about you guys but I always seem to stick with one colour when it comes to tops, mine seems to be navy but when it came to my next project for Samantha Claridge Studio, I thought I would be a bit daring!

So I chose the delightful Bottle Green Bellissima Jersey with 2 way stretch and it’s so soft with wonderful drape. 

I used my sewing planner to make sure I wrote down what size I made and for future reference so I can remember if I made any adjustments as I do have a terrible memory at times!

With this beautiful fabric being 60” wide I was able to get my top cut out on the double fold to save on how much fabric I used.

As always, I tried my stitch lengths on a scrap bit of my fabric to make sure I got the tension right as nothing worse than popped seams whilst wearing!

This pattern calls for either tape or iron on edge tape  to stabilise the shoulder seams to help them not to stretch out and  the Viliene Seam Tape I’ve used here does the job brilliantly and it’s a steal a £1 for 3m.

The construction of this top was really easy and the instructions were clear. I love using a twin needle to top stitch, it finishes off a garment really nicely.

The only part of the construction that blagged my head was using shirring elastic to gather, which I haven’t done before but again the instructions were clear and was able to do this easily!

Of course my sewing assistant was at hand at times hahaha!

Here is the finished top, modelled by moi in my newly decorated bedroom

The only adjustments I made was to use the ¾ sleeve instead of the full length sleeve as I do have short arms and this fitted perfectly and made a straight size 16.

Happy Sewing!

Sally x

Sally’s Asteria Dress project with peonie print stretch cotton

Hi Everyone! 

Hope you’re all well in the current climate we are all living in, hat a strange place it is isn’t it?

For my next Project for Samantha Claridge Studio I wanted something summery to brighten up my days and when I saw this fabric it fitted the bill perfectly! It’s called Peonie Print Stretch Cotton and it’s a Medium weight cotton fabric with viscose and 3% elastane so it can work with an array of patterns that needs a bit of give from trousers to dresses and anything else you fancy inbetween.

 

Now I did decide to make a tried and tested Hawthorn Dress by Colette Patterns but when Jenifer Lauren Handmade brought out the Asteria Dress it was just destiny. Come on how doesn’t love a vintage inspired dress with pockets!

I’m finally getting on top on my health conditions, even managing to lose some of the medication weight and its finally showing in my makes so I ended up making a size 14 with no adjustments.

The fab thing about this fabric too as its extra wide so I was able to double fold my fabric when it came to cutting out the bodice so I wasn’t wasting any fabric.

Phew, all cut out, it was handy to having my sewing planner to tick off the pieces I cut and made sure I didn’t forget anything!

Now when I start sewing I always need a good cup of coffee to keep me going, this one was a cherry bakewell flavoured coffee

This Dress came together really quickly and love the facing that is used in this pattern as it gets the square neckline down to a T!

Before I stitched in the ditch of my facing to the bodice I put in quite an apt label as I do have a man mog that likes to assist in my sewing adventures… well, sit on everything that I need at the time!

The instructions called for the sleeves to be set in, personally I hate this method so I went against the grain and put them in flat before sewing up the side seams.

Then onto the pockets and skirt pieces and before I knew it I had the dress made! Also remembering to grade my seams down before finishing them which made quite a mess hahaha!

So here is my finished dress and I totally love it! It’s so summery and just the right amount of vintage style yet modern and the waist ties cinch it in really well.

I even managed to get some Alfresco sewing out in the garden which is a bonus! Does anyone else do this?

Happy Sewing!

Sally x 



Meet our #scdesignteam an interview with @Chatterstitch

This week we chat to Carol AKA @chatterstitch about her sewing journey, what inspires her and what her future sewing plans are…

 

In my real life my name is Carol (with no e) as my Dad forgot when he registered me! I’m Mum to two and Grandma to one! I live in the beautiful county of Yorkshire about half an hour from the sea!

When did you start sewing?

 I started Sewing when I was probably about 10! Which is quite a few years ago!

What do you like about sewing?

I love looking at beautiful fabrics then taking them and shaping them into clothes I can wear, every item is unique to me.

What is your favourite ever make?

What-ever I made last! So, at the moment my Summit Pack made from your Figo fabrics!

What inspires your makes?

Fabrics, I see a fabric I love and then have to find the perfect pattern to use it with!

How do you keep track of all your ideas?

I love to use my Sew Crafty Journal!

What are your favourite fabrics to work with?

Natural fabrics, usually with a small discrete pattern or a plain gorgeous colour!

What other sewing bloggers do you follow/ find inspiring?

My daughter (@sewstainability inspires me all the time) particularly around sustainable makes.

Also @sunnydayz06 as she’s an amazing @sewover50 maker and @victorialucerne her images are fab.

Where do you sew?

I’m very lucky to have my very own room to sew in, the good thing is nobody complains if I make a mess and leave it to come back to, I can just sew for 10 minutes if that’s all I’ve got!

What is your favourite sewing tool and why?

I love my Janome machines, I have a complete set Computerised machine, overlocker and coverstitch (all Janome)

What would be your dream project?

A red carpet gown!

What are your sewing plans for this year?

My son is getting married later this year and I’m planning on making my Mother of the Groom outfit this year so watch this space!

Next time we chat with @lastminutelisa!

Planning my pastel gingham dress of dreams!

As soon as Sammy uploaded these new gingham cottons to the shop I was all over them like a rash! I’ve always loved gingham and these pastel colours are so happy, summery and pretty and I want to make all my dresses out of them!

My first instinct was to make a Tilly and the Buttons Seren dress with tie straps and patch pockets using a mixture of these two pastel beauties…and to be honest that’s probably exactly what I will do…but I also started searching Instagram and Pinterest for more inspiration and came across some amazing dresses that would also work brilliantly. So here is my run down of the best gingham styles to replicate this summer…

The dress on the left with it’s square neckline and slit detail sleeves reminded me of the By Hand London Jenna dress. This pattern could easily be hacked to omit the back zip and instead create a full placket at the front and lengthen the skirt.

The middle picture with its shirt style top and tierred skirt could be replicated with the McCall’s M7351 by adding a frill to the front bodice and using four tiers of fabric to create the skirt.

The simple sundress on the far right is a classic way to use gingham and looks so pretty paired with a beaded bag and some strappy sandals. You could get this look using the Avid Seamstress Sundress pattern

I absoloutely love the combination of a few different ginghams to create a fun modern look and will probably make myself a (another) Sew Liberated Hinterland dress or a By Hand London Hannah dress out of gingham for the winter but perhaps in a darker colour.

Whatever style I go for though, I know I’ll have a fun dress, perfect for picnics and sunny days out as gingham never goes out of style!

…and I’ll definitely be making myself a matching bag to go with it too!

Do you love gingham or does it give you school summer dress vibes? 

What would you make?

I’ll keep you posted with my make…better get to it before the summer is gone!

Debbie x

New fabrics in stock!

We’ve had some beautiful new fabrics in this week and some old faves re-stocked!

From viscose crepe to on-trend ginghams we have got your summer and Autumn sewing covered!

These fabulous viscose crepes are £8.50 p/m and 140cm wide. They would make a beautiful blouse, dress or jumpsuit. We’ve put together a selection of patterns we think would be perfect for showing off this gorgeous print…

Clockwise from left:

Fibremood –  Norma Blouse

Friday Pattern Company – Adrianna Blouse

Friday Pattern Company – The Hilo Dress

Gingham is huge again this summer. Giving us all the picnic vibes our new pinks and purples in these yummy pastel shades are perfect for girly summer dresses!

From £3.50 per half metre it’s a great fabric to experiment with.

We scoured Pinterest for some gingham inspiration. Mixing and matching scale and colours give a really modern feel to this vintage inspired fabric…

Stripes are always in! We’ve got two new cotton poplins and a re-stock of the linen mix stripes that have been very popular…

Stripes are a great choice for shirts and skirts. playing with stripe directions also gives a modern feel.

Below are a few ideas to get you inspired!

We’ve also had some gorgeous super soft leopard print double gauze in. It has a soft grey/ blue background. Double gauze is very simply, two layers of fine gauze that are woven together at regular intervals with little stab stitches which are undetectable from the right side of the fabric. A fabulous textile for adult and children’s clothes. This is £7.50 per metre and 130cm wide.

Closet Case Patterns – Clare coat

I’ve wanted to make a coat for a while, mostly to challenge myself, but also because I’ve got a couple of coats which have seen better days! But this particular coat has been quite the undertaking – but then I knew it would be and the understanding was that I would take my time with it because there are so many techniques that I hadn’t done before… but more of that later.
 
For my next project for the Samantha Claridge Studio Design Team I wanted to make the Closet Case Patterns Clare Coat since I’d had the pattern hanging around for about six months! I’d also been looking at the fuchsia wool mix coating on the website and thought that the pairing would work beautifully. And, of course, back in December it was the perfect time of year to make a wool coat! I needed 3m of the coating and 2m of a lining and chose a silver polyester lining from the website.
The wool is washable so the first thing I did was put that and the lining in a 30 degree wash. The wool came out totally uncreased but the lining needed a good press and I found throughout the project that the lining creased easily and regularly needed ironing. I was careful not to use too much heat on the wool just in case, which didn’t help with the seams. It also took on an orange tinge when too hot but this faded with cooling.
 
Before I started I did some research on the coat and found a few references to it being tight across the back. The sizing put me in the 14 range but I decided to size up because of these concerns – and I’m glad I did. The size across the hip is fine but the shoulders would have been tight if I wanted to wear a thick jumper underneath.
 
I’m not one to trace the pattern pieces, I just go ahead and cut them out.  And for this project I’m glad I did because there were 9 pieces of main coat to cut out, 6 pieces of lining and 12 pieces of interfacing, 27 in total… phew! That little lot took me long enough, but then I had another hour and a half standing at the ironing board fusing the interfacing to the shell pieces and I am generally NOT a person who irons! Had I not been so excited about my new coat I might have given up at the first hurdle! But on I went since the first few steps were relatively simple and this filled me with confidence. 
 
As I said earlier, there were a few techniques in the construction of this coat that I’d never done before, and this was one of the reasons I wanted to make it, to try and challenge myself. 
Never have I ever…
 
* worked with wool
* made a two piece sleeve
* lined a garment
* used the bagging out technique
 
I must admit, every time I put the coat to one side I found it increasingly hard to come back to. As it got further along I became more and more daunted at the prospect of finishing it. My brain was telling me that the next steps were difficult so I kept putting it off, when in fact all of it was a series of relatively simple tasks, it’s just there was a lot of them! I found the sew along on the Closet Case website really useful, especially in the latter stages. With hindsight I think a tailors ham or clapper might have been useful for the sleeves but I made do. 
 
But finish it, I did! And since the fabric was gifted I kinda had to!!! But I do really love it and the colour… oh boy, all the heart eyes!!! The thing that drew me to the pattern was the collar. It’s a real statement piece and I’m looking forward to wearing it with pride!
 
The giant poppers were from Amazon, 12 for about £5, and are about 1″ in diameter.
 
 
Thank you so, so, sew much to Samantha for agreeing to this project and letting me have this beautiful fabric and the time to do it justice. Everyone should have a coat in this colour – it induces all the happy feels and makes the dreariest of days significantly brighter!