Handmade wardrobe 2020

My me-made sewing challenge

Hi Guys!

I’m Debbie, Sammy’s assistant and all round crafty person.

I am mummy to my gorgeous little girl Audrey and my two cheeky dogs, my husband let me take over the basement in our new home for all my sewing stuff… so he is the best 😉

Since I can remember I have always been crafting. From making Fimo jewellery as a child, to studying Womenswear at the London College of Fashion (and a fair bit in-between!). My work has appeared in Mollie Makes, Simply Sewing Magazine, Love Quilting as well as the Samantha Claridge Studio blog! I have sold my designs at craft shows across the South East and now am a freelance crafter…a dream come true!

 

I ran design label Duck & Duffel for 5 years (now Hila Studio) and made lots of lovely dresses and prints, designing my own fabric and illustrating. Then life got in the way as it often does and I had to get a day job, but I’m back freelancing now and working with Sammy, happy days!

But, despite having a degree in fashion and more than 20 years dress making expeirence I rarely use my skills to make clothes for myself…crazy huh!

I have just bought a new house with my husband and in an effort to spend less and shop more sustainably I am challenging myself to make myself some clothes this year.

To give you a bit of background…I love shopping, I mean LOVE it, in fact at some stages in my life you could definitely have called it a “problem”. I don’t know whether it was boredom and frustration during my twenties and early thirties when I didn’t work in a creative environment and felt like buying beautifful clothes helped me express my creative side, or, I just love buying pretty things, but I spent a lot of money on clothes and shopped nearly every day, buying things on a whim which ultimately ended up in the charity pile. I was always seeking out the next trend and giving it my spin but never feeling satisfied…I never had anything to wear despite having a wardrobe fit to burst!

As I’ve got older I’ve found my ‘style’ and it’s been this way for a number of years now, I know what works for me and my lifestyle and body shape and I’m keen to make some amazing pieces that I’ll get lots of wear out of and the satisfaction of having crafted them with my own hands.

My aim isn’t to replace everything in my wardrobe with handmade, as I have some amazing garments by indie designers in there, which I will cherish for years to come (that’s you Lucy and Yak and Dreamland Clothing!) But If I feel the urge to shop, instead I’ll think carefully about why I need a certain peice, how it will fit into my wardrobe and if I can make it! If I can’t make it I will aim to thrift it (I’ve just discovered a great charity shop down the road which colour codes and separates it’s clothes into categories…it’s Uh-mazing!). 

I’m going to document my journey on this blog. In the next post I’ll tell you about where I get my inspiration from and how I plan my makes…spolier alert I’ve just got a fresh Dressmaking journal from the Samantha Claridge Studio shop so that is going to be my new sewing best friend! I’ll also talk you through choosig fabric, the tools I use and of course show you what I make.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey and if there are any specific topics you would like me to cover then do leave a comment!

So until next time, here is my me-made rail below. So far it’s got two Indigo dresses on it because I love a smock dress and cute prints!

Gingham (Samantha Claridge Studio -now sold out) But you could also use this plaid

Figo Treehouse Zig Zag 

I promise I’ve only got one more smock dress planned…but that might change 😉

Leave me a comment if you are also going to be making more for yourself this year, I’d love to give you a follow and see what you are making!

Debs x

DIY circle bag

Romy's perfect cross body bag!

 
 
Back in the summer I saw a bag for sale on the high street that I really liked. I prefer to have a handbag with a cross body strap and it has to be big enough to fit all my paraphernalia so I was tempted by this one, but at nearly £40 it was a bit pricey.

 

 

So I left it and thought I’d check if it went in the sale, but within a few weeks I found the Everyday Circular Bag on The Makerist for the grand price of $2 (on sale). 

The pattern is pretty much identical to the high street one, so I snapped it up and set about making my first bag!

I used half a metre of the leatherette fabric in black, and got some lobster clips and a zip from eBay. 

 

 

 

Other notions I needed were a leather needle (I used size 100), a walking foot, heavy duty polyester thread (though I used normal thread in the bobbin to reduce bulk) and some wonder clips to keep the pieces together. You can’t really use pins as the holes will permanently mark the fabric. On one occasion I had forgotten my clips and had to make do with hair clips, though they worked pretty well!

 

 

The bag came together fairly easily, although I did have some head scratching due to some mistakes in the pattern. For example, it asks you to cut 2 gusset pieces, but you actually only need 1. The instructions also refer to a Bag Side piece, but this is called the gusset on the pattern piece, so I was looking around for an extra piece that didn’t exist! There is a video to accompany the instructions which is useful, although it doesn’t show the making of the straps and this is the part I had trouble with, as my pieces seemed to look wider than theirs. I’m still not sure why this was but I muddled through and just trimmed an inch off the strap piece to make it fit the lobster clips.

 

 

 

 

 

The fabric sewed well and looks nice and professional with the topstitching:

 

 

 

 

 

You can lightly press the fabric on the wrong side which helps to remove any creases, but you can’t iron the right side or you’ll have a melty mess. I just finger pressed any folds and topstitched to help them lay flat. The trickiest part was sewing in the side pieces as you have to ease the circle in, but with plenty of clips and patience it worked out in the end.

 

 

 

 

I also decided to hack the pattern a little bit to add an inside pocket for my phone so it’s not rattling around inside. The stitching for this is covered by the outside pocket so doesn’t show:

Overall I’m pleased with my bargain, high street-inspired bag, although in hindsight some interfacing would have helped it to hold its shape, as it’s not quite stiff enough. The instructions bizarrely tell you to topstitch each side piece once inserted, which I did for the first piece, but for the second it’s physically impossible as the zip hole isn’t big enough. Another argument for pattern testing! I might try sticking down the seam allowance inside to help stiffen the shape, but might just have to live with it for this one and remember to interface next time. I also decided to lengthen the strap as it was quite short, but this is personal preference.

This fabric is great for bag making and could be used for other accessories too, like purses, toiletries bags and luggage tags. 

That’s all for now, see you again soon for another project!

Project Tote!

Steph's shopping bag/ project tote!

Autumn is my favourite time of year. It heralds the return of blankets and cosy hoodies, Halloween and of course my annual pilgrimage to Alexandra Palace for the Knitting and Stitching Show. My mother-in-law and I have been going for several years and in the last couple of years we have also been joined by my best friend. It’s become a tradition of ours to wear something handmade to the Show – whether it be a dress, a pin badge or a necklace, so when it was time to choose my latest Design Team Project i knew it had to a new bag to take with me to the show! 

I decided to use the Noodlehead Trail Tote as my base pattern for this bag – its a fabulous pattern on the Robert Kaufman website, and its totally free to download! I had made one of the smaller sized totes so i knew it was a fairly simple pattern but had lots of potential for customisation. I have a lot of projects on the go and I tend to keep each one in a bag to keep all the bits and tools in one place, so i knew that this bag could double up as a brilliant project tote with the addition of one of my favourite things – POCKETS!

The original Noodlehead tote pattern has a small zip pocket included in the pattern but i knew that wasn’t  going to be enough for me (plus i’m not a huge fan of installing that kind of zip), so i did a little modifying and added pockets on the outside of both the front and the back of the bag.

Whilst i was scanning through the Samantha Claridge Studio website the utterly adorable Food Truck cotton range caught my eye, and as soon as i saw there was a donut print i knew i had to use it for my tote! I used both the pink and the blue version of the print and decided to use a little bit of the Sweet Bee blender in mint to break up the pattern a little. I chose a bias binding in the same mint colour too finish it all off. 

For the main part of the bag I used the large Noodlehead pattern piece but made it slightly wider (to accommodate more fabric purchases!). I used the pink Food Truck donut print cotton for the outside, and the blue for the inside and the outer pockets. I attached a band of the Sweet Bee blender at the top and use the bias binding on top of the pockets to give a little colour contrast.

With the addition of the strap my new shopping/project tote bag was ready to go! I can confirm that the inside of the bag holds several fabric purchases and a couple of quilting projects, whilst the outer pockets are super helpful for storing threads, scissors, tape measures and acrylic quilting templates. Unfortunately for my bank account, Samantha Claridge Studio has more super cute Food Truck range prints that are just calling out to be made into totes so there may just be a couple more of this bag pattern on my cutting table very soon.