Showing posts from 2012

How-Tuesday 18: how to get some sleep

Hi loves

Sorry for the lateness of this post.  Been another busy weekend and no time to pre-write this one.  So here I am with only 30 mins of Tuesday left to go, typing like one of those infinite monkeys on one of their infinite number of typewriters...  Might be Shakespeare, might be sh*te, that's the joy of blog!

But, I'm not going to whinge about my busy life again.  Blah blah, we're all busy, darling!

Instead, what is causing me to lie awake at night recently is ideas for designs.  Now this hasn't happened for YEARS - not since I was learning how to work silver and design jewellery over a decade ago.  Back then, I had a notebook by the bed to get these things down so I could get to sleep.  And the notebook (well, A notebook) has just reappeared and is being filled up slowly with scribbled drawings and text.

These ideas are all around reverse applique designs to embellish existing garments, and mainly around the neckline, mixing woven and jersey (is this even possible?…

How-Tuesday 17: skirtylicious, or how to overcome your fear...


This week I finished an item of clothing for myself!  It's a simple but lovely Amy Butler pattern called Barcelona, which has two a-line skirt options plus something called an 'apron overlay' (which is a bit silly IMHO).  I bought mine from Backstitch but I understand that other online retailers are available...

How-Tuesday 16: how to make your mark

I succumbed last week.  Not only to the evil lurgy, which is even now still with me a bit, hanging about like a bad fridge smell.  But also to the purchase on Amazon of two books which have been in my basket for weeks and weeks.  And weeks.

The first is Veggiestan by Sally Butcher, a wonderful cook book which I know will get used over and over.

The second is Print Workshop by Christine Schmidt, strapline 'hand-printing techniques + truly outstanding projects'.  It does what it says on the tin!

Want to know how to make a repeating graphic pattern using only a string-wrapped block and some fabric paint?  How to cut and wield potato stamps so that the resulting patterns look more Lucienne Day and less 'let loose in a day nursery'? How to make your own silk-screen press from household/high street objects?  How to use ink-jet transfer paper to make quirky and funny cushions? That's a quadruple yes from me!

For someone who enjoys fabric and letterpress as much as I do, t…

How-Tuesday 15: how to take care of yourself

Hi folks

I'm poorly, bleurgh.  I've been bed-bound and browsing for crafty items to nurture me.  If you need some taking care of, you may enjoy:

a hot water bottle cover from a felted charity shop sweater over at Rachael Rabbit or at Made of Cloth

a lovely rice or buckwheat heat pillow with essential oils, that can be frozen or microwaved for therapeutic use, over at Sew Mama Sew

a cozy for my cuppa, at Hazelnut Girl

Sorry for brevity today, am coughing so hard that the laptop keeps slipping...

More soon.

S x

It's raining - glad I stayed in and wore my new PJs nearly all day!

Boo, the Pyjama Party Sew-Along at Karen's house is over. 

But, yay, I have an absolutely gorgeous pair of me-made PJ bottoms to show for it! The weather was minging this weekend and I've come down with some kind of evil chest lurgy, so I wore these A LOT.  As a high point, to celebrate finishing the PJs, I painted my toes in a toning pale turquoise, which was immensely pleasing.

Nicely matching centre seams but I really should have french-seamed them - I think I will go back and overlock.

The finishing touch is a homemade Dark Choc and Black Sesame Seed cookie from a recipe over on Joy the Baker - salt, sweet and droolsomely good.  Along with my current book (The Return by Hakkan Messer - a cracking bit of Nordic noir) and my current fave tipple (Night Nurse, mmmm), me and my jammies are off to bed.

Did you take part in the Sewalong? Have you remembered to post on Karen's blog to be eligible for her giveaway?  You've got til 7am tomorrow... 
Nighty night.

S x

Best of the craftyweb: an interview with Dotty Red

Welcome to the second of my quarterly 'Best of the Craftyweb' posts for 2012.

The very first blog I ever followed was Dotty Red written by the talented Suzie Vallis. Suzie is a busy woman! She's a mother and also runs a small business making the most lovely homewares, bags, decorative items and so on. I figured that you guys, if not already following her blog, would love to know a bit more about her, so here goes:

How Tuesday 14: how to make a robe dress


I've been reading a blog called Ikat Bag for a few months now.  The author is a talented lady, interested as much in sewing as she is in cardboard crafts, which is a new area for me.  She's made some lovely things - go and see the Barbie house she made with and for her girls.  So beautiful.

Totally loving: Bunny Love

Having been sent a link to this project, I think it's amazing.  Please click over and see the work of Sue Bamford at The Eden Project in Cornwall, which coincidentally is not far from where I grew up. 

Great British Sew-Off!

Love Productions, the people behind the 'om-nom-nom' fest that was The Great British Bake-Off last year, are launching a new project: The Great British Sew Off!

Out of the Blue: gifts are go!

Here's the shopper I made for my 'Out of the Blue' gift for The Curiosity Project. Read more about the rules of the game here.

How-Tuesday 13: how to join in

Hi there
I'm not a natural joiner-inner.  I'm always in the kitchen at parties, I only ever got two Brownie badges, I got picked for the school netball team and turned them down - you get the picture.

But a sew-along that you can do in the privacy of your own home, that kind of joining I can handle!

Reverse applique - yay!

Hi there lovelies!

Just wanted to share my latest project with you, because I'm so pleased with how it turned out.  I had been actually dreaming of this since making the Figgy's Tea for Two jersey dress a while back.  It had some great suggestions for embellishment and REVERSE APPLIQUE was one of them.  Lookit, lookit!

How-Tuesday 12: how to make a lined fleecy blanket

hiya, y'right?

Happy Easter, readers.  This weekend went too fast, right? Just zoomed by, and all my plans for a total craft-in did not really come to pass.  Possibly being a bit ambitious, I had planned:

Two bags, one for me and one for Out of the BlueA T-shirt or sweatshirt for Junior with reverse applique detail - more on that laterSome mendingA prototype oilcloth wrap-round bib/cape/cover-up from an existing originalFinishing the Kindle cover commission which has become temporarily derailed by physics (two layers of oilcloth plus one of wool felt equals total rigidity, apparently, who knew...)

Totally loving: the work of Sally Spinks

Hey y'all

My aunt sent me a link to the website of the talented and quirky Sally Spinks.  Amazing stuff.  You NEED one of these toilet roll covers in your life:

See her here.

Great, huh?

S x

Sewn paper

Chin-chin, Joy of Sew types

I've been enjoying noodling about with sewn paper these last few days.  So satisfying.  Nothing I'm ready to share yet but here are some gorgeous things you can see and buy for yourself right now:

How-Tuesday 11 - how to make memories

hello my lovelies

This how-Tuesday is about how I had a sudden and swift connection to myself as a seven-year-old via a box of old craft goodies.

Out of the blue, or random acts of arty kindness

If you're looking for a wondrous 'share the love' guerilla art project, check this baby out:

I'm in - are you?
S x


I am going to make a heretical statement.  I know it's all friends here: you won't report me to the Craftish Inquisition, will you?

How-Tuesday 10: how to make pyjama pants


Hello my old darlings

Last week, me and some chums were discussing the truly MENTAL expense of pyjamas plus the loveliness of material evident in the world that was NOT being used to make them!  Electric pink satin Playboy bunny jamas for a nine-year-old girl, anyone?  For twenty-five whole quid?? No, me neither.

So, this week for How-Tuesday, I thought I'd round up some tutorials for pyjama bottoms for your good selves.  When I get round to making a pair, I'll share this with you.  Hope you'll do the same!

Ethical threads


Browsing the web in my lunch hour, I came across the Offset Warehouse which is an ethical fabric and haberdashery store, as well as a directory and consultancy specialising in sustainable and ethical trade and manufacture.

Keeping this short as I am currently on The Man's time, I found some beautiful things.  Including this:

How-Tuesday 9: how to decide what not to buy

hello loves

Now, anyone who knows me will tell you that I love a bit of shopping. I get all gimlet-eyed and sharp-elbowed at the first whiff of a retail opportunity.  Elevated pulse, dilated pupils, the lot.  So I was REALLY looking forward to a trip to the Stitch & Craft Show 2012 at Olympia.  Shopping AND sewing. Squeak!

'How About Orange' blows my mind again!

Just seen this lovely lovely thing and had to share it with you.  Deep breath.  Look at this amazing modular felt coaster!

How-Tuesday 8: how on earth to fit it all in?!

Hello there

Regular readers will have spotted that there wasn't a How-Tuesday last week.  Sorry chums!  The combination of costumes required for World Book Day and my son's 4th birthday meant that there was just too much work and not enough week!  Here's how it went:

How-Tuesday 7: how to make 5m of bunting in an afternoon

I had a fabulous Sunday afternoon cutting up pieces of cloth from my stash and making them into bunting (see above, mm mmmmm).  Bunting is easy to make and so joyous to see draped about the place; it really embodies the Joy of Sew.  So, let me tell you how we did it, Junior and I:

New in my Etsy store - lovely oilcloth bib

See more in my Etsy store. View, recommend, purchase...
S x

How-Tuesday 6: how to make the crafty person in your life very happy

Chin-chin, Joy of Sewists!

Just wanted a share a mini how-to with you today, only a tiny weeny one because I really really should be sewing.  I promised my mum some curtains weeks ago and they are not really begun yet.  Or completely not begun yet, beyond buying lovely fabric (from the scrummy Prestigious), some lining fabric from Walthamstow market and printing out a tutorial.  I hang my head in shame.

Junior Joy of Sew totally nails her project

My daughter's school likes to set the kids extended 'voluntary' projects, to be done at home or in special school sessions, over a number of weeks.  All a tad stressful really.  This term's project was on portraits and she was exhibiting no interest whatever.  UNTIL... my good chum Lynley sent me a link showing images of sewn portraits in the form of pillows.  Thanks, you lifesaver.

Bunting bonanza

Hi y'all

Supposed to be up early working.  In fact up early blogging.  Naughty!

How-Tuesday 5: how not to look a fool in John Lewis...

Morning fellow sewists!

This week I have mainly been looking a fool in John Lewis.

Junior Joy of Sew gets in on the act

My nine-year old daughter made this little cushion as a welcome gift for her cousin, who was staying with us this half-term.  She chose the checkered fabric, cut it out, chose the thread, embroidered the letters, pinned it and hand-sewed it all by herself.  I only helped with pressing and with trimming the corners.  She is very proud of it and I am of her.
If you have kids, do they enjoy the same crafts as you? Or perhaps you teach children to sew and knit.  I'd love to hear your stories and see the results of their labours. Any suggestions for good future projects?
S x

The joy of make do and mend

Yesterday evening I spent a very satisfying hour or so catching up on my sewing repair jobs. As the machine is a bit under the weather, I decided to see if there were any hand-sewing jobs to be done. Scarily loads, as usual.  And Spinal Tap was on telly, which I practically know off by heart - a perfect sewing companion!

How-Tuesday 4: baby, it's cold outside!

What ho, Joy of Sewers

Yay, it snowed!  At last!  I've been dying to share these lovely tutorials with you for snuggly warming items and now seems the perfect moment.  The fabric de jour is going to be felt, and my fave felt is made from old pure wool sweaters from charity shops which have been home-felted in the machine.  Though this is not always trouble free as regular readers may know...

First up, no-sew (or very little sew, just some fun embellishment) fab fingerless gloves from this lovely tutorial at The Cottage Home

The Little Sewing Machine That Could

I just wanted, in this pre-Valentine season, to write a little bit about my lovely Janome 7025, which I adore and which is currently the third person in my marriage, according to my husband.  It's the John Lewis special version of the 525s, which has won a Which? Best award, y'know.

I just bleddy love it.  

It's a truly excellent mid-range machine and has been so wonderful to use.  However, currently it's making a horrible grinding noise and, despite my having followed helpful Google instructions about cleaning lint out of feed dogs and oiling bobbin holders, I think it needs to go for a proper service and re-tune.  I am sad.

Have you overcome this problem on this or a similar model?  Any suggestions welcome.

S x

How-Tuesday 3: how to save yourself a packet

Morning all!

Today's How-Tuesday is all about how to save yourself a packet on a truly MAHOOSIVE range of fabrics - as long as you live near Walthamstow that is...

Best of the craftyweb: January review

Alright, Joy of Sewers?

I subscribe to a few blogs these days, probably to a few more than I should given how busy I am supposed to be, but there are a few which I return to often. A common theme this New Year has, of course, been new starts and fresh thinking. About changing your outlook to make the most of all the time you have at your disposal. About getting your groove back. Here are a few fab bulletins from the craft frontlines on this theme:

Do you think I could balance a sewing machine on here?

Isn't this a lovely thing?  I found it here.  I want one.  I'm just saying, is all.

How far would you go to fit in your "hobby/wish-it-was-my-real-job" around your busy life?

S x

How-Tuesday 2: wallet totes

Aye-aye shipmates. Yup, it's How-Tuesday - hasn't the week gone fast?

I got given one of this kind of bag for Christmas by a very sweet work colleague and I LOVE it!  Seems like a perfect idea for a tute, I thought to myself.

Valentine Schmalentine

hi loves

Quite a few of the craft sites I'm keeping tabs on are full of Valentines Day craft projects.  Give what you love - and in my humble opinion it's got to be handmade, either by you or by someone whose work you rate.  As well as the trad hearts and flowers stuff, there is some genuinely funky and beautiful stuff to be had, as well as a growing anti-Valentine movement out there (some of which is a little gothy and hate-filled for my liking, but there are some funny things too).

So hunt out or make something for that special someone (or someones...) which will allow you to express your love for them in an original and beautiful way.  It's not all about the money, money, money.

So, I vote for less of this kind of sub-Clintons tut <shudder>: 

Are sewing parties the new rock and roll?

Some pretty serious sewing went on here, as you can see.

The girls came round yesterday evening with their machines and a few projects in mind.  We cracked open the Mateus and the Maltesers and got our craft on!

As well as laughing, drinking and nattering, we created between us, in the space of about 3 hours:

African Wax Fabric - made to make your mouth water

What ho, JoS chums!

Well, for ages now I have been browsing that interweb they have now to try and purchase some of this amazing fabric.  "Some African what is that now?", I hear you say...  It's vibrant, stiff cotton used extensively to make West African formal outfits.  Go forth and Google it, I say!

There are lots of outlets online but I couldn't choose and I really wanted to see and handle it before I committed myself.  Some of the patterns are so bright and in yer face, that photos really can't do them justice. I havered and dithered.

Then late last week, as I marched back from work through the cold to collect the Little Boy from nursery, I passed a local dry-cleaners and noticed for the first time in the 3 years of passing it that it SOLD WAX FABRIC!  I'd seen that it seemed to specialise in cleaning the amazing formal clothes made from this stuff - they are hung all over the walls of this tiny store - but never before spotted the small stack of neatly-fol…

Happy How-Tuesday: today it's coin purses...

Morning my lovelies

Today I though I'd bring you a lovely tutorial which I found on one of my favourite blogs, How About Orange.

It's for a clever and extremely cute coin purse which is entirely made out of a zip! It requires hand sewing, a long long zip and some mind-bending spatial awareness. This month's edition of Mollie Makes mag has some super-cute ribbon as a freebie, so I may give it a go. If you don't hear from me for a bit, perhaps one of you could pop round and cut me free...

Machine-sewn cards

Evening, Joy of Sewers!

I knocked up these A6 machine-sewn cards using some gorgeous mustard-coloured handmade paper, which my lovely mother-in-law gave me for Christmas, and some purple thread.  Super quick to make - so quick, in fact, that I also had time to write in them and have now written and even posted ALL our Christmas thank yous.  This is a personal best (well, at least since the days of childhood when I was forced on pain of death  - or confiscation of Sindy dolls, much worse - to write them all on Boxing Day, usually while 'Genevieve' was on telly, if memory serves). Anyway, I am VERY pleased with myself.

I'm considering refining these a bit and adding them to my Etsy store.  Do you like them?  How much would you pay for a set of 5 with envelopes? 

Ping me a comment, would you, loves? Mwah!

S x

Dundee ROCKS!

Just found these lovely things on Etsy by a very gifted lady from Dundee called Nikki McWilliams.

Cushions and cakes, what's not to love?  If you're ever wondering what to get me as a gift, look no further...

Find her here:

Laters, my lovelies

S x

Two talented ladies!

Well, I'd like to spread the love today.  A few words about two women of my acquaintance who exhibit admirable craftiness and style: Nikki Simms of Modern Maker and Sara Jackson,  my friend and neighbour, who is not selling her stuff... Yet...  In fact she'll probably come over and beat me up for even MENTIONING it.  Sorry, mate, just had to.

Merchant & Mills, loving your work!

See this AMAZING haberdashery website:

I am in danger of electrocuting myself due to the copious volumes of admiring drool on my keyboard...

S x

Cloth Napkins in a vintage mid century floral fabric - yummy scrummy!

Chin-chin, Joy of Sewers!
Do take a moment to check out the latest product in my Etsy store - only one set of these gorgeous vintage fabric napkins remains.  How perfect for a hostess or house-warming gift, or to grace your own table, you lovely people.

Click here to view the listing in my store.

Dive in, darlings - ooh and happy New Year!
S x