Christmas crafting -handmade felt decorations

Back so soon I hear you cry! Well if you don’t know me you won’t understand my love for all things Christmas and when I saw there were festive projects on our upcoming blog themes list I jumped at the chance! 
 
And, once again, I’m not sewing! What’s wrong with me?! Well, it’s actually been quite refreshing getting crafty again with different materials. In my last post I used papers and this time I’ve gone for felt. Sammy has a few different selections of felt packs in different colour-ways and, while I’d have loved to go ‘neon Christmas’ I decided traditional would be better! 

In this pack of 7 sheets, you get two dark greens, one lime green, one mint, two reds (slightly different shades) and a burgundy, all complementary colours, perfect for festive makes. They’re not super thick but that makes them fine for all of the projects I made. And again, I’ve got some tutorials for you to have a go at home.

So let’s start with something simple, a holly decoration. I prepared myself two different sizes of holly template and cut out two of the bigger size in dark green and two smaller in lime green. I cut small red circles for the berrys. I used some matching lime green embroidery floss to sew a line of running stitch down the middle of one large and one small leaf. I then attached them together using red floss and adding the berrys and a hanger. Simple! 
 

Next up is this trio of baubles which I just love! I used the burgundy, rich red and dark green felts and cut out two each of three bauble templates which I drew out myself on some card. Then I took some embroidery floss in greens, reds and gold to sew on simple designs. I put the two layers together and sewed around the outside leaving a small hole to put some stuffing in (if you don’t have stuffing you could cut up some scraps of felt into small pieces or just leave this out entirely) then I closed up the gap. I added a piece of string to hang it and there you have it! 

Now this one is a little more time consuming but, I think, worth the time. Just gather your supplies and sit in front of the telly one evening. I’m not sure what to call this bauble but I was inspired by similar ones I’ve seen on Pinterest. You’ll need 8 circles, I used 4 dark green, 2 lime green and 2 mint along with a needle and thread. I stacked them up and sewed a line down the middle through all layers (this would have been better done on a sewing machine but worked ok by hand). Now sit it in front of you and pick up one left piece and one right. Bring them together and sew at the edge in the centre to connect them, finishing with a knot to secure. Now take the next piece on one side and connect it to one of the pieces you’ve just sewn which is next to it but this time above and below the original knot. As you go around you will alternate between one and two connecting points and your end result should be something like this. It’s not difficult, I promise!
If my instructions are not clear I’m sure a quick search on Pinterest will help you find step-by-step instructions with pictures.

And I don’t know why but I think this one might be my favourite! And it’s super quick, there’s even a time lapse video on my Instagram (@Aliivens) if you fancy checking it out! All you need for this one are a selection of small strips 3cm x 1.5cm and a needle and thread – a great one for using up scrappy bits of felt. Fold a piece of felt in half and put your threaded needle through the centre of the square, pushing it down the thread but not off the end. Repeat this until your heart’s content! But I think I did about 30 pieces, then tied the ends of thread to form a hoop and add a ribbon to hang. Done! You could add a bow or mini bells, whatever you fancy, but I like it simple.

Then, because I had some felt left over (and nobody was stopping me), I made a wreath with some twigs shaped into a small circle and I knotted on strips of felt and matching ribbon from Hobbycraft. Again, you could go crazy with this one, adding sparkly bits, bells, berrys, pom poms etc but I kept it clean. Not a glue stick in sight! How much easier can you get?!

I hope you liked these ideas. I quite like giving people who I wouldn’t buy gifts for a handmade tree ornament with their Christmas cards, it’s just a special little gesture. A few years ago I crocheted quite a few sprouts adorned with googly eyes to give out! But I love these projects and think the rich colours would make them really stand out on a tree. Now I can’t wait to get mine up and decorate it with my new me-mades!
 
Thanks Sammy for the lovely felt. Happy Christmas, everyone! (OK, too early…)

Christmas Crafting! Re-usable gift bags

Easy drawstring gift bag DIY

We are officially on the countdown to Christmas here at Samantha Claridge HQ…we’ve got to have something to look forward to haven’t we! 

What better way to spend our spare time over lockdown than some mindful, relaxing sewing and crafting. I am going to make some handmade gifts this year but we really are keeping gifts to a minimum this Chrimbo, everyone is stretched money wise and over the top consumption and needless spending just doesn’t seem appropriate this year. I’ve been enjoying making my own clothes this year which has lead to me shopping less and really the thought of buying something that I could potentially make just seems unnecessary, how about you? 

I’ve designed 4 easy tutorials that are Christmas appropriate, but really these would work all year round depending on fabric choice, and are great for using up scraps of fabric. I’ll be popping them on the blog over the next couple of weeks so you’ve got plenty of time to make them before Christmas.

The first project is for reusable drawstring bags which can be made in any size, used year after year, and are much more sustainable for wrapping pressies in! This is a very simple DIY suitable for a beginner..this would also be great to do with kids under supervision.

You can use a festive-themed fabric (as I have done and you can buy it here) or a plain calico or hessian would work really well jazzed up with some pretty ribbon or ric rac…the creative possibilities are endless!

For this project you will need:

Fabric  12″ x 28″ ( I used Jingle polar bears which is now only £2.33 per half metre)

Ribbon or cord for the drawstring approx 26″ long ( I used glitter ribbon)

Scissors

Sewing machine

Step one

Hem the two long edges of the fabric strip. I did this using my overlocker and a narrow 1/4″ hem but if you don’t have an overlocker you could either use a zig zag stitch or simply fold the hem twice, press and stitch. 

Step two

Fold the short end in by 1/4″, press the fold then fold over again by another 1/4″, press then fold down by 1″ and press.

Top stitch close to the edge of the folded hem.

Repeat this process for the other end of the fabric.

This process creates the channels you will thread your ribbon or cord through for the drawstring.

Step three

Fold the fabric in half with right sides together and stitch down the side seams starting below the top channels for the drawstrings you made leaving them open.

Step four

Finally, attach a safety pin to one end of your ribbon or drawstring and thread this through the top channel of your bag and tie in a knot at one end…et Voila!

Over the next couple of weeks, we will share the following tutorials…an easy bottle bag, coin purse, and festive fabric napkins which we hope you will love
Let us know if there are any other DIYs you would like us to feature!

DIY Statement fabric headband

Hairbands and hair accessories are still a huge trend this winter and they are super easy to make with fabric scraps!
In this DIY I will show you a simple way of making a knotted fabric hairband. I used the Ruby Star Society fabric in Spark Mustard  (which is half price in our sale
You could also embellish your hairband with beads or pearls for a fabulous party look and these would also make great stocking fillers!

You will need:

A plain hairband ( I got mine a few years ago from eBay)

A strip of fabric

Glue gun or fabric glue, if you don’t want to use glue you can hand stitch instead.

Basic sewing kit

Lets get started!

Step 1

Cut a rectangle of fabric measuring 21” x 7”. Fold fabric in half right sides together and sew down the long edge leaving a gap of 2” in the middle (to turn through)

Step 2

Press the strip so the seam is in the centre and then sew the short edges

Step 3

Turn through the opening you left when sewing and press

Step 4

Place the hairband in the middle of the fabric strip and tie a knot.

Step 5

Arrange the knot so you are happy with it and that is nice and centred making sure the rest of the fabric reaches the ends of the hairband.

Step 6

Fold in and hot glue the bottom sides down starting one side and folding over the other side.

Let us know if you make this hairband, we love seeing your makes!

How to upcycle fabric scraps into a quilted tote

With sustainability at the forefront of our minds it’s really important to think of ways we can reduce our impact on the environment. Using our fabric offcuts is a small way we can reduce waste and landfill and make something beautiful that we can use for years to come.

As sewists we all have a few (bags of) fabric scraps! 

I’ve been using lots of Ruby Star Society fabrics this year for various projects and collected every little scrap to be used at some point. 

I was going to make a scrappy quilt or cushion cover with all the off cuts, but then I changed my mind and actually a decent sized tote bag would be more…handy!

I cut up all my bits of fabric and just randomly sewed them up just enjoying the process and not really planning how it would look. That’s the thing with scraps they tend to be haphazard!

I used some left over batting from another quilt project and some larger pieces of fabric from my stash for a lining. My pieces ended up measuring approx 14″ x 13″. I used my machine to stitch some quilting lines throughout the bag pieces. I then stitched the sides and bottom on the bag together.

I made box corners on the inside at 2.5″ up from the corner, trimmed them and turned the bag right sides through. At this point you can bind your unfinished edges if your machine can cope with the layers. I finished the top edge of the bag with bias binding which I turned to the inside of the bag and top stitched.

I had some faux leather bag handles in my stash which were just the perfect match and stitched them on with some strong thread.

I love how this bag looks, it will be perfect for popping to the shops or for a sewing project bag and the fabrics are so fun! I can’t imagine throwing away such gorgeous fabrics, my scrap bag is still growing and I may tackle a quilted jacket at some point!

How do you use your scraps?

Rainbow stripe cotton shirtdress

Alexa's Sew Over It Alex Shirt dress

Hi All! After a bit of a break, I’m back with the Samantha Claridge design team and here to provide you with a very vibrant return.   

This summer I’ve been fully embracing my love of colour and pattern and it’s been great. So for my first project back with the Samantha Claridge design team, I wanted to make something that fit this bill. With this in mind, this rainbow striped cotton basically screamed ‘pick me’ at me!

I have a number of Sew Over It Alex shirts, from their capsule wardrobe e-book, in steady rotation in my wardrobe. I love a shirtdress but the only one of the Alex shirtdresses I made was too big and long and I just didn’t love it and ended up donating it to a friend. I thought that it might be time to revisit it.

This Robert Kaufman cotton is a gorgeous weight and was dreamy to cut out and sew. I had fun playing with the stripes on the yoke and collar. I cut out some sleeves but thought that a dress this bright is really going to be worn mainly in the sunshine so decided against adding them. I think this works really well as a sleeveless dress though.

Embracing the kitch-ness of my outfit, I used these super cute heart buttons. I was a little concerned that due to the unusual shape, they would open unexpectedly but I have had no problems with them.

It’s a shame the weather has taken a decidedly autumnal turn so I’m not sure how much wear I’ll get out of this dress this year. However, if pride festivities return next year, I have my outfit sorted!

Lulu Cardigan by Pattern Scout in leopard print ponte roma

Sally's me made knit cardi

Hey All! Sally here aka The Yorkshire Sewist.

I don’t know about you guys but I lack me made cardigans in my wardrobe and when I came across the Lulu Cardigan by Pattern Scout via my fellow blogger Carol, I had to make it!

I fell in love with the peplum style of this and thought it would make a cute addition to my many dresses.

The Pattern calls for Medium to heavyweight knit fabric, such as double knit, ponte or scuba knit. So I had a look through Sammy’s shop and came across this fabulous Leopard Ponte Roma Jersey MP5125PE (which is unfortunately is out of stock at the moment but others available here) I knew I had to have it!

Now, I’ve not sewn much with jersey and buttonholes, so for a change I went for these beautiful heart shaped snaps that would set this cardigan off a treat.

As with Sammy’s parcels they come beautifully packaged and had all my materials at hand to make a start with my project.

I do quite like taping PDF Patterns together and with this cardi with different cup sizes it was really good to let you know which pages needed to be printed rather than wasting half a tree!

Armed with my Sewing Journal I was able to make sure I noted any adjustments and made sure I cut all out all the required pattern pieces.

According to my measurements I went for Size 12 and D Cup and was taking a risk by not toiling this! I made the usual adjustment by taking 1.5” off the sleeve length.

I used my frixion pen for pattern markings as it is easier to use on jersey fabric.

The pattern asked for a strip of knit interfacing for where the buttonholes/snaps go but I had some Vilene Knit stabiliser tape which was just the right width and used that instead and worked a treat.

This was a really quick sew to say I had to make the peplum and gather with dental floss, it makes gathering so much easier as you set your sewing machine to a wide zig stitch and place the floss in the middle so that the needle on your machine goes either side of it. Make sure you leave an inch or so at the start and end of where you want the gathering stitiching. Then all you do is pull and it just glides! So much easier than using two rows of stitching as I can never gather that way!

But with ‘cheating’ with snaps it made the whole process a lot easier and no getting angry at Mr Singer for not chewing up the fabric, he has a nasty habit of that when it comes to jerseys but this was great to sew with.

Of course no memade garment is complete without adding in a label. I used this one by CraftyPinUp and the gold glitter and black just suits it so well.

Oh aye not forgetting the copious amounts of topstitching involved but it was well worth the effort as the end result just looks so professional. As usual I tested out the stitch length to make sure I had it at the right tension.

So here is my completed Lulu!

Head over to Sammy’s Instagram stories to see the cardi in action!

Happy Sewing!

Sally x

A denim chambray Zadie jumpsuit

Alsion in her zadie jumpsuit in denim chambray from Samantha Claridge Studio

Alison's new favourite pattern!

 
 
 
Well hello there! What a year it’s been so far! Aside from what has dominated the news for the last 6 months (lets not dwell on that) I have decided that 2020 shall be remembered as ‘the year I got on the Zadie bandwagon’!!!
 
Quite honestly I have a bone to pick with all of you for not convincing me to try this pattern earlier! I truly believe that, along with the Kielo wrap dress, this is a garment that suits everyone. I don’t think I’ve seen a dodgy one yet!
My first go at this pattern was out of a 100% cotton wax print and, of course, it sewed up beautifully. It’s such a comfy jumpsuit that I immediately decided I needed many more in my wardrobe to take me through all seasons! So for my second version I thought the sleeved option in a nice mid-weight chambray in a neutral colour would be wonderful for the Autumn. I was gifted 3m of this beautiful fabric from Samantha Claridge Studio and I knew it was going to be perfect for the job as I’d used it before on the Costa Tote a few posts back. Obviously I washed it at 30 degrees first and gave it a good iron before cutting it out.
 
I started making this a couple of weeks ago on one of the hottest days of the year! I could barely sit at my machine for 10 minutes without breaking into a sweat and forget about getting the iron out! I did what I could in small stints and, fortunately, this is a simple make which comes together very easily. I did make a silly boob early on though as I wasn’t paying much attention to the instructions so attached the pocket without sewing up the bottom of the bag… hey ho, easily fixed! And that will teach me!
 
 
I modified the pattern by tapering the legs as I’m not sure the wide leg style suits me. I did this by using the Made By Jacks Mum Hey Day Dungarees as a guide for the shape of the legs.
 
All in all this project was a pleasure to sew. The fabric is a dream to work with, is so soft and behaves well. It frays a little but I overlocked the edges to tidy them up. The reverse is a lighter shade of blue which looks great when the sleeves/hems are rolled up. I can see me getting a lot of wear out of this and it can be styled up in a few different ways. 
 
Guess what I want to make now… a Zadie dress hack! Have you hacked the Zadie? Let me know!
 
Laters,
Ali x

Autumnal Quincy dress made with Figo Fabrics terrazzo print

Hey folks! Hope things are getting back to some normality; can you believe we are in August already?! So my next project for Samantha Claridge Studio have to had a Autumnal feel to it so of course I went to one of my favourite indie sewing pattern company – Jennifer Lauren Handmade.

Not sure if you have seen my recent makes but I seem to be making is by Jennifer’s gorgeous modern yet vintage vibes so of course I had to stick my current streak.

I had the Quincy Dress in my stash for only a month and when I came across the beautiful Figo Perfect Day Terrazzo in Black and just screamed at me… yes a lot of things just scream at me and that’s how I roll.

Shop Figo fabrics here

So the dress calls for 4 buttons and saw that Sammy stocked the cutest sewing themed buttons, I knew I had to use them.

As usual my DT Project always come well packaged and my Cat had to inspect on what sewing goodies had arrived too.

Upon reading the sizing chart and with my previous few makes I knew the size 14 with D Cup would be ah ok, don’t you just love a Sewing Pattern with separate Cup sizes so no need to do FBA, Yas!

Even with the fabric being 43” wide I was able to get the most out of the fabric with pattern tetris as I like to call it and had enough fabric left over to make myself a matchy matchy mask since this is the new normal.

Know I don’t about you other experienced sewers but sometimes I just need that bit of help of getting my bust darts to be straight so I ended up using my frixiion pen and drawing the lines on for easy and precise sewing.

As always I like to be prepared so I wound my bobbins full and made sure I had the necessary tools at my disposal so no routing through my sewing boxes.

The pattern called for ribbon or bias binding to make the drawstring so with the Bias binding that was delivered I pressed it with an iron so that the long edges met and sewn it along that edge.

As with any project that requires buttonholes, I always do I test on a scrap piece just to make the buttonhole is sewed properly.

I really like the cleanness of the seams on the inside when stitching the yoke and when attaching the front part of the bodice as it nicely hidden away and of course the topstitching too.

Don’t you just love it when you sew in the sleeves that the seams match up perfectly! I tell you for a fact it’s a rarity even with the amount of careful pinning involved it doesn’t always work.

It sews up really quick and before you know it you are onto the buttonholes. I always mark where they need to be and be quite accurate on where the buttonholes are starting too.

Of course you need snacks to keep you going when hand sewing right?

Then before I knew I was sewing the drawstring channel and the hemming the skirt which I finished by using a double fold hem, which is my preferred way of finishing hems as it gives it a little more added weight to the hem to sit right.

 

Here is my newly sewn Quincy whilst out and about and of course with my matchy matchy face mask.

Does anyone else make matching face masks to their makes too?

Happy Sewing!

Sally

 

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