Tuesday, March 25, 2014

By Hand London - Free PDF Sewing Pattern


I know you guys love a freebie pattern and if sewing something fun to wear for Spring is on your radar then look no further than this super cute Polly top at By Hand London.

At this time of year I've taken as much as I can handle of this cat and mouse, is it? isn't it?, Spring vs Winter power struggle we endure here in Canada, and I start looking towards making some new Springy clothes.  Even if I do have to smother them in a snuggly Cashmere sweater, until I'm good and ready to officially come out of Canadian hibernation.

There is still snow on the ground, and Mittens and Scarf are a constant when leaving the house, but I'm daydreaming about sewing things, gulp, without sleeves, and shocked gasp, maybe even showing off my pasty English "Are those white tights you're wearing, no that's my skin!" drumsticks. True story!
Whilst you're checking out By Hand Londons Polly top, look for their Georgia dress, love this and both the variations of straps would work so well for day or night.


Until such times as the temperature is again above 0, I'm going to be working on my refashion pile and maybe even trying out this awesome pattern in a beautiful Silk I've been holding on to.

Who's up for some Spring/Summer refashioning? are you getting excited about Me-Made-May yet?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Handmade with Love

When I found out I was expecting my little lady I had romantic visions of sewing gorgeous little dresses and cutesy outfits, 2 years on and one solitary dress hangs in her wardrobe.

Whilst her closet is lacking, the rest of the room has a heavy helping of handmade loveliness, it literally is my favourite place in the house surrounded by crafted goodies in every corner.

It took me a full 2 years but her crib quilt is finished, pieced during my pregnancy with the help of Mr Ruby Murray and hand quilted in time for her 2nd birthday. Yes I'm late again but at least I'm consistent.


Isn't this fabric gorgeous? originally a thrifted skirt,it inspired the Red and White quilt colour scheme.

The whole quilt in its quilty entirety

To rest her head when she reads her favourite stories she has this colourful mix of me-made, and vintage cushions.

A scrappy string quilted cushion cover that has been loved to frayed pieces.

Gorgeous vintage linen repurposed into a frilly cushion a $5 purchase from my local Farmers market.

A thrifted Granny rose cushion cover takes pride of place.

Filling her room with these special touches feels to me like I'm snuggling with her even when we're away from each other. One of her favourite things to do is work her way around the room pointing and saying "You made that",and my reply is always the same, "Yes, because I love you".


Making handmade items for my children is as much a gift to myself.
 Walking in to both of their rooms I'm surrounded by happy memories, sentimental fabrics, special days out or simply a silly face or cheeky giggle.
I look forward to the raggedy versions sitting on my grandchildrens beds in years to come, that thought totally warms my cockles.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Dolls House Reveal

This project rocked my world, it was so much fun that for a while I'm ashamed to admit, I teetered on the murky edges of crazy Victorian doll house lady. To date I still have 4 others in varying states of repair awaiting loveliness.

Ok so 5 sounds a bit much? but they kept finding me and they were in need of tlc I just couldn't resist, like this gorgeous 1960's style open sided house. Can you believe this was just $1.50? craziness!

One thing that I learnt, is that these miniature bits and bobs may be small but the prices are anything but and since my little lady is somewhat of a Tasmanian Devil, (seriously, her Indian name would be "Raised-by-Wolves")I knew I had to make everything easily replaceable should they be stamped on/swallowed/flushed away! That's where I decided to make as much as I could from items I already have and keep everything else low cost.

Aside from the wood furniture, all flooring and home furnishings were made by me. Original plans to make everything proved way too time consuming, yep the bitter reality sank in that everything would indeed be shoved in baby G's mouth or nostril or a mixed combo of the two.

So here is the starting point, a very blah looking unloved but sturdy Wooden Dolls house, rubber cemented down Carpet sample? check, 80's paint job? check? time to get to work.

Top one is the poor unloved shell pre-makeover.

I played around with the design of the rooms and the style, first opting for something bright and modern. Check out the knitted Ottoman and cushion, knitted using toothpicks (yes I am ridiculous but it was fun) and Embroidery floss.

In the end I decided on a mix of old and new, some gorgeous Vintage fabric and a small remnant of Contact paper gave me some inspiration for colour schemes. Now to start the demolition!

I ripped out the carpet, the single kitchen tile floor and cut new floors to make it easier to change them away from the dollshouse itself.

Would you believe that all the flooring was not only FREE but RECYCLED too? double points!

Bedroom Hardwood looking flooring is actually an old Bamboo blind.
White flooring is made from popsicle sticks, which took me hours, lesson learnt, Bamboo blinds all the way baby! so quick and easy and the indentations from the blind cords made it looks like planks of wood.

Kitchen flooring is real Composite tiles sourced from Freecycle, a sample pack of 2x2 tiles cut down, glued then grouted, so pleased with the finished look of this and the fact that it's not only rainbow but real kitchen tiles made me smile.

The curtain rods were small wooden dowels I had in my stash and worked perfectly with cup hooks to keep them in place. It took my little lady at least an hour to pull the rods out but they were popped back in easily, crisis averted.

After searching in vain for some scalloped wooden trim to add to the sides of the under roof area I ended up using some cereal box card and a Dollar and tracing my own, a couple of licks of pink paint and we were on to a winner.
The vintage looking roof was created using Dollar store drawer liner, I loved how this turned out, and it smelt like Roses the whole time I was papering it. It was pretty lumpy on first application so I sanded it once it had dried and the lumps disappeared and a gorgeous aged, worn in look came about, and all for $3? score!
Ok ready for the Royal tour?

First the Living room, wall colour not yet decided so some colourful accessories brightened up the room,

The Sofa I made from scratch, stitched from real Leather, a block of wood, card and some stuffing, my first try at mini furniture and it's pretty realistic non?
Faux Acrylic Coffee Table is from the base of a Palmolive washing up liquid bottle, Patchwork rug is chopped up from small carpet samples. Ottoman is a mini Playdo tub covered in recycled shoe leather. Table lamp is a dollar store bubble solution bottle, and lamp shade is scrap fabric covered piece of plastic canvas folded and stitched together.

Downstairs bathroom or Kitchen as it will be when we add more furniture to the house. Brings back memories of our Portsmouth Victorian terrace with the (only) Bathroom off the kitchen! 
Furniture is by Hape, the blue backsplash is a scrap of contact paper stuck to a piece of cereal box and the bin is a $1 toy we had kicking around. Check out the wooden duck and the mini towel, and erm if you look really closely, doesn't the shower look like a teeny weeny pair of mens dangly parts? ok just me then?



I added a menu board for when the Kitchen furniture is in place, just some corrugated card covered with painted popsicle sticks and sanded for a rustic look, and the best bit? it is actually a chalk board painted with chalkboard paint, can't find and miniature chalk mind you, but it's the crazy, up all night, should be asleep thought that counts right?!

Moving up the imaginary staircase to the bedrooms, here we arrive in the Master bedroom

Bamboo blind flooring, vintage fabric glued to the walls and a faux chair rail and baseboards/skirting boards were bamboo blind pieces again, such a great source of wood that didn't need staining.

A vintage eyelet doily for a rug, two Hexagonal Brass drawer knobs as bedside tables and some more miniature sewing.

I hated the way that bedding never sat flat when I was little, so I just sewed a tiny pintuck down each side of the bedspread, it did the trick and looks a bit more realistic. The pink cushion is knitted again with Embroidery floss and toothpicks.

The Dresser was given to me and the 'fabric' inside is bias tape or lace seam binding glued and folded around a small piece of cardboard.
Saving the best to last, here is the childrens room. The furniture again is Hape, so cute and fun, every detail is thought of.

The rug is some bakers twine looking cotton yarn I had, I just twisted it around a piece of cereal box card and glued as I went, love the rag rug look it has.

Faux cow hide rug is some minky fabric scrap simply cut in a erm, dead cow shape. Check out the amazing vintage contact paper, I love this design and the fact it has England, Canada, France, Germany and Greece on it and the illustrations are so cute. 

The flooring is popsicle sticks sanded cut and painted once stuck down, long time in the making but I do love how it turned out.

The curtains I made and added ribbon tie backs then draped a small piece of pompom trim over the top.

The whole shebang.
 Soooo still with me? still awake? understand why this project was a year in the making?... and just remember I have FOUR more of the suckers to finish lol.

Coming up? some actual real life not teeny tiny at all Sewing!


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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Part 4 Felty Sweater Blanket Tutorial - Finishing up


Firstly, the irony that I almost did  not finish this 'finishing up' tutorial is not lost on me, I have been umming and ahhing about continuing with the blog after being given a sweet sewing gig that I need so much more time than I have access to. I really do love to blog so I'm toughing it out and will be trying to post once a week to get back in the swing of things. I love you guys for sticking with me when things go quiet xoxo

Moving on,

The series so far;

Pt 1 - Collecting your Sweater stash
Pt 2 - Buying and Felting your sweaters
Pt 3 - Piecing together your Blanket

Finishing your felted sweater Blanket

You arranged your patchwork strips into an arrangement you love and now need to pull this project together into something you want to throw over your chair to show off your handiwork.

Good news is that there are lots of options for finishing your blanket.

Easiest option

It's not even cheating if you just cut your lose threads and call it a day, Felted sweaters will not unravel providing they were felted enough in the first place. If when you cut the sweater pieces up they didn't run or unravel you are safe with this option.

Sure your seams will show but if you like the look of them go with it, put your feet up under your new blanket and grab a cuppa!

Intermediate Options

I backed my blanket and added batting for extra warmth, here's how.

1. With wrong sides together of your blanket and your backing fabric, stitch around all four sides leaving an opening (unstitched area) of approx 8 inches (depending on your blanket size). Back stitch either side of the opening to make sure the stitches don't pull apart during the next step.

2. Flip the blanket inside out until the right side is showing. If you choose to use batting pop it inside your blanket now, first cutting around the blanket as a template and then trimming as necessary if it doesn't lay flat inside the blanket , 1/4 to 1/2 inch should be enough.

3. Hand stitch the opening closed using a Whip stitch or any small stitches that will not easily be seen.

Note: Adding an additional layer between the batting will require some tying or quilting to secure all the layers together, this can be as simple as tying small knots or making small running stitches at regular intervals. I tied knots every corner of every square in my version.

If your fabric layers are stretching, try lowering your feed dogs or adding sticky tape to the underside of the sewing machine foot to help it move more easily over the fabric. A walking foot may also help if you have one. None of those working for you? Get handstitching, there's no shame in it!

Experienced Options

If you are no stranger to bias tape then finish this sucker off with a contrasting bias tape will really showcase your skills, bear in mind the knit fabric will have some stretch and this may require handstitching throughout.

Extra flourish

Try embroidering around the edges in Blanket stitch in a bright colour to show off your stitches, this is a nice step to take if you hand stitched the blanket together.

Coming up? I step into the world of Miniatures in my all time favourite project to date!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Felty Sweater Blanket Tutorial Part 3 - Piecing Together the Blanket

Remember this tutorial series I started about a Felted sweater blanket? well finally wrapping that baby up this week whilst my lovely Mama is over from Blighty and the kids are swinging off her for a change, oh sweet, sweet freedom!

Series so far
Pt 1 - Collecting your sweater stash
Pt 2 - Buying and Felting your Sweaters

Without further ado let's get cracking with the next instalment.

So you've found your sweaters, felted them and are ready to chop and sew them together into something snuggly warm and well, less like a deformed shrunken sweater.

For a blanket measuring  31 inch x 37 inches      
You will need to cut 80  4.5 inch squares
(no particular reason for this size other than it being a nice size for an armchair)



I've used a Rotary cutter and ruler, and even scissors and a paper template pinned to the sweater and then cut round it, either works fine. Just get stuck into it and remember this is going to leave you covered in fluffy fibres so expect a little mess.

Avoid cuffs, necklines and ribbing, these can be saved for something else crafty and felty.


For my blanket I cut the sweaters into 4.5 inch squares for the larger squares, and because I was left with quite a lot of smaller pieces I decided to make a matching cushion with the smaller 2 inch squares. This was a great way to use up the awkward  pieces left over and reduce my stash even further, win win!


Decide how you want your blanket to look, I opted for a super simple random colour mix and just stitched the squares together in strips then played around on the floor readjusting them until they looked as random as possible. It turns out that quite a bit of work goes into making things appear haphazard, who knew?!


Regular Polyester thread, regular sewing needle stitch length at 2.0 and tension at your regular settings, it really isn't a big deal sewing with wool on your home machine, totally do-able for any basic machine. Just ensure you backstitch at the start and finish of each piece to prevent the stitching coming out before the pieces are sewn together.

Don't sweat it if the pieces are slightly off when you cut them, Wool is your friend and you can just lightly stretch the pieces to match up,  this isn't traditional quilting or patchwork you can totally bend the rules!

To save you some time I would line up your squares into pairs with wrong sides facing then stitch each pair not breaking the thread until you've finished your pile  (the wrong side is fuzzier than the right side but neither is too noticeable should you mix them up.) Once you have your pairs, stitch sets of pairs together and then fours together until you have the length of each piece matching the size you're going for.  I put the whole blanket top together in an evening, blogging about it totally takes longer than making it I promise you it's going to come together super quick!

Last and final Tutorial coming up on Friday, let's get this blanket finished!

Final instalment here:
Pt 4 - Finishing up your Blanket


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Awesome Handmade Gifts for Hard to Buy for people

Project and photo courtesy of JustJen

I've been spreading myself thin recently, working on the next part of the Felty Sweater Tutorial and sending out some homemade crafty love to friends overseas. The weather here in Edmonton has been crazy up and down with extreme weather warnings, and did you guys know that I still don't drive? yup I schlepp my poor young children about everywhere, on the bus, in -25, snow up to my armpits, so erm yeah I've been busy!

One of the crazy, cute crafts I've been wrapping and sending off was this little sucker, a Knitted Zombie, which got me thinking about those hard to craft for people. Not sure if they appreciate handmade gifts? but you still want to make them something that no one else will have?

Anyone that's anyone knows about, if not avidly watches Walking Dead. Even way back in time, buss pass, wind up computer, no laptop me has even heard of it, nay watched a few episodes, so this Knitted Zombie pattern from JustJen Knits and Stitches will come in handy. Have a good look around this ladies blog, so many cute and fun ideas and lots of great patterns.

I can't show my Zombie because it hasn't been opened yet, but I can confirm that my offering comes complete with a half hanging out bloodshot eye, I even fancied the idea of whipping out my French knitting spool and whizzing up some bloody intenstinal gubbins to have hanging out, but alas my beginner knitting skills could not work out how to add a hole to accomodate said gubbins. Perhaps for the best non?

New to knitting but not sure you can manage this pattern? It's written very simply and is little more than 3 rectangles with minimal shaping, you can totally do it, I only really just started knitting recently and this was a breeze for me.

What crafty projects are you working on for the holidays? I may or may not be stealing ideas :)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Felted Sweater Tutorial Pt 2 - Buying and Felting your Sweaters

So you've been itching to make a recycled sweater blanket, but where do you start? (disclaimer: expect serious puns here people!)

what you've missed -
Pt 1 - Collecting your sweater stash

Getting hold of your clothing to felt.

Free option - Ask family, friends and neighbours if they've recently had a wool washing disaster and offer to take the offending article off their hands, you could even try posting on Freecycle.org, Kijiji or Craigslist. Who hasn't shrunk something by accident.

Charitable spending - Get your thrift on, my recommendation is Salvation Army (Among the highest % of profits go straight to charitable causes in comparison to Goodwill which is minimal)

 Check out your local thrift stores sweater section (then Scarves, Skirts and Dresses too).

Depending on the size of your blanket and the felted size of your garments, 4 or 5 sweaters should be adequate for a nice single sized lap blanket, obv. larger sizes require more wool garments.

Top Tips
  • Check the label for wool content, the higher the better, 75% and up, anything else is unlikely to felt.
  • It Must be Wool, that covers Angora, Cashmere, Mohair, Laine (French for Wool) any of these in a mix are fine too.
  • Be sure to check for moth holes, holding garment up to the light will show any holes.
  • To be extra safe you can throw the wool garments into a Freezer for 3 days to kill (hopefully) any moths. Leaving them out in the daylight will also deter moths.
  • Check for softness, itchy garments produce itchy felt.

Have a ton of felted sweaters already for cutting? ok overachievers, take the day off and see me at the next tutorial. everyone else stay seated.

Getting felt up! - How to felt your Wool clothing

Wool + Heat + Moisture = Felty goodness

Brace yourself for a one step process... throw them in a hot wash with detergent. That's it easy huh?

Let's take a look at them, not sure if they've been felted already? snipping into the seam will let you know, if it unravels, throw it in again with a dryer ball to agitate it. Throwing the wet article in the Dryer can also speed up the process.

Non Felted Cashmere
Felted Wool

Have a close look at the stitching, if you can easily make out the V of the stitching (or other fancy stitches) then you may need to repeat the above process, if the surface looks fluffy and stitches are hard to depict then we're in business people.

A Woolly fact = Since Wool is a protein just like Human hair, washing it in your Shampoo can help to clean it and Conditioner will work as a Fabric softener.


Next up how to Cut and piece together your Felted Sweater pieces in Pt 3.

Next instalments:

Pt 3 - Piecing together your Blanket
Pt 4 - Finishing up your Blanket

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