First make of 2021

Not only my first make, but also the first #makenine2021 item completed.

So I had decided to make more trousers and improve my skills in this area. I wanted to find some patterns that were slightly more unusual than my usual straight leg jean styles( RTW) or leggings, and bought a a number of patterns in 2020 with the intention of trying some out. All had an unusual twist….

Papercut Patterns Palisade pants with their unusual decorative side pockets.

Papercut Patterns Twist pants with a twisted side seam

and the pattern I chose to make up first , Style Arc Kew woven Pants.


The pattern description is as follows

“This is a designer pant with a slight rounded shaped leg that narrows at the hem opening. The dart and front split at the hemline give this pant a unique look. The back is extremely flattering with a centre leg design line that shapes over the bottom and into a one-piece shaped waistband. Wear this pant casually with sneakers and windcheater or dress it up with heels and a blouse.”

The fabric I chose was low risk due to the unbelievably low price of £3 a metre. Bought online from the Textile Brothers (Facebook shop) I was really pleased when it arrived – it’s lovely and soft with a great drape the fabric has more of a purple in it than this screenshot suggests

I have made up a few Style Arc patterns before. I like their modern stylish look, but the instructions are really sparse. I knew I could find a tutorial on line to help with the fly ( found for some shorts). However this time it was the pockets that had me stumped.

I started with a cotton toile for fitting purposes, but spent most of my time trying to work out how the pockets should be constructed. Despite even contacting Style Arc I don’t think I have got it “right” , and seemed to have a spare pattern piece!

I contacted Style Arc via messenger. They said that the piece in question was useful if youeed to have a pocket bag lining in a lighter fabric. Despite their input I never solved the mystery of the additional pattern piece 5 but I do have a pocket construction that works and seems logical. I will probably never solve the mystery.

I did read up on the pants before cutting and the common comment was that these are short / sit above the ankle. As I intended them for winter wear I lengthened the pattern before cutting out ( note I am only 5’ 2” so I am usually shortening , not lengthening garments – so it is well worth checking this before you wield your scissors).

Other alterations I made were :

I increased he seam allowance slightly in the top leg as they were slightly too baggy for my liking

Before seam adjustments ( red top and guest appearance from Gizmo the cat also showing rear view) . Fit post increasing seams on right hand side

I used bias binding to finish the front slit as suggested by Sewinglikemad having read her review of this pattern on The Fold Line

I omitted the coin pocket

Trying to take photos in the mirror – spin bike on left hand side

The fly has actually gone well on these pants – am I finally getting the hang of sewing flies?????


I topstitched all the seams with a slightly contrasting purple thread (pictures below are closer to the actual fabric colour!)

Belt loops are perhaps not quite as neat as I would like ( I had this problem on the Itch to Stitch shorts I made too). If anyone has any tips or tutorials on this please let me know.

The finished trousers

Front of pants
Back of pants

It’s a shame I can’t go out anywhere to wear my new trousers as we are currently in lockdown, but I think they will fit the requirement of slightly smarter trousers with a difference.

My 100th post summarising 2020 with #2020MakeNine

I have done the Make Nine (#2020makenine ) challenge for the last few years and have never actually completed all nine planned projects. Well this year is no exception, in fact it’s probably the fewest I have ever completed!

Here is what I managed to do

Three of these projects were completed very early in the year and were all taken on holiday to Sri Lanka. The fourth completed project – the corderoy Stacker jacket – was completed in October , and is probably my favourite make of 2020.

So what happened to the other projects? I think Covid probably had an impact. Dress / holiday clothes planned were supplanted by casual shorts for walking during the summer. A lot of time was spent sewing scrubs, masks and hand sanitizer covers. And as always new ideas came up during the year and got ahead of the planned makes in the queue.

So will I still make the unmade options. For the top two in the grid I already have the fabric, so at some point when holidays are back on the agenda I am sure these will get made.

And I would still like a spring weight Helen’s Closet pinafore. And I still want to master making trousers ( Style Arc Kew trousers on the table) so I would like to make the Itch to Stitch stretch jeans ( finally)

Given the low level of projects completed , will I do this again in 2021? Yes! I enjoy planning projects and always find it interesting to compare where my intentions and thoughts were at the beginning of the year with what actually happened. And let’s face it, nothing went to plan in 2020.

The flip side of only completing 4 put of 9 of these projects is that I did make many other things that weren’t plNned – and I don’t just mean face masks,

I have also been keeping a picture record of what I have made in 202o as I go along…..

Looking back over the 2020 makes a couple of things stand out

  1. Nothing in March – lockdown impact?
  2. Very few makes after February are for me . Whilst some of the face masks were, even many of these were made for friends. Indeed of the 65 makes pictured above, only 22 were for me. This isn’t my normal sewing pattern

So onwards to 2021

Satin Christmas Pyjamas

I can write up this now as the present has been opened. My daughter in law had put some satin pyjamas on her Christmas present list – so of course I decided to make rather than buy them.

I needed fabric in gold and silver anyway for a Christmas tree craft project, so bought 3 metres of gold satin fabric from Coalville fabrics. It’s good quality fabric but (I was warned) , it frays. And I had to use an awful lot of tins of tuna, beans, soup etc to stop it moving around during cutting out.Next fine any pyjamas I make will be in a nice easy to handle brushed cotton !

The pyjamas are a combination of 2 patterns. The top is from Lekala patterns, and the trousers were a free pattern from 5 for 4

Unfortunately no fancy piping ( couldn’t face that with all that fraying) but I did manage the monogram on the pocket. Thank goodness the letter N is just 3 straight lines!


I’m not sure how durable these are going to be. The seams tend to pull apart as the fabric frays ( most are overlocked). I did top stitch some key seams to hopefully try to prevent this in wear.

Not my favourite make of 2020, but hopefully they will get some wear.

And in case you are interested here are some of the Christmas tree decorations made for a star themed tree in Our local community

Sewing Weekender Make and Thoughts

FC76DA45-66C1-484C-9479-9C7F8B3F7712I signed up for the on line Sewing Weekender 2020 as soon as it advertised. Although I missed out on getting a ticket last year, I was lucky enough to have attended the weekends in a Cambridge in 2017 and 2018. It was great that Charlotte, Kate and Rachel   Managed to organise an alternative to cheer us all up , and even more amazing that they managed to raise so much money for charity .
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As I didn’t need to travel, had all my sewing room facilities to hand and knew I wouldn’t be heavily distracted by talking to loads of sewists, I did not pre prepare my project as I had in the past. So my first job on Saturday was to prep the pattern and cut out,

I put the You Tube videos up on the TV to listen to and started.
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I had decided to make Kwik Sew 4154. I have been wanting to make a dress with waist ties like these for a while, and this pattern seemed versatile as it can be made in knit or woven fabric.

My chosen fabric was a knit purchased fromThe Fabric Manon Etsy ( I bought a number of pieces of fabric and all were good)
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The pattern specified a back seam zip which I thought may be unnecessary with a knit. So I posted on Instagram to see if anyone else had made the pattern and could confirm this.
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I contuued preparing pattern and started cutting out….and that’s when I got responses on Instagram. As well as general agreement with not needing a zip, I got a response from the always helpful ( and extremely knowledgable) Susan Young. She had made this pattern and was kind enough to share her experience ( and picture to demonstrate. The back of the dress did not fall in a flattering way, but created a humped bunch. She had tried to rectify this by moving the zip to the side, but this had not worked. However she said the skirt was lovely.

And that was when I fell lucky- I had started cutting out, but had only actually cut the skirt!

So rethink…..

I was wearing one of my Moneta dresses ( I have made 3). By the 3rd I had achieved a good fit knit bodice- so I decided to adapt the Moneta bodice to reflect the features I wanted from the Kwik Sew pattern.

I copied the Moneta bodice pattern onto newspaper ( I didn’t have any drafting paper). I then changed the back bodice neckline to create the higher neck line.

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Next I copied the Kwik Sew front neckline to the front bodice piece.

And then widened the waistline of the front bodice ( copying the Kwik Sew pattern) to allow for gathers.

Finally I drafted the back and front neck line facings As used in he Kwik Sew pattern.

I used the Moneta sleeve pattern and also decided to add pockets – because we all love pockets- to the skirt ( again I used the Moneta pockets)

This all took up a considerable amount of time – the whole morning – but it went by very quickly listening to the Videos .
As I went out walking in the afternoon I missed the end of day Zoom

Day 2

…and I actually got some sewing done.
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The  most challenging bit here was how to construct the waistline. I wanted to stabilise it at the back, but the Moneta method of using elastic to gather the skirt ( and thus stabilise to some extent) was not required for a circle skirt.
In the end I created a channel in the back of the bodice and sewed in 1cm wide elastic

Construction  was also different from the Moneta, which joins a completed skirt to a completed bodice. Due to the need to insert the ties into the sides of the dress overlapping the bodice and skirt, the front top and skirt and the back top and skirt had to be joined first before sewing the side seams.

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Once I had sorted all this out in my mind, the dress came together Reasonably quickly.

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Dress in progress

Again I was entertained during the morning by listening to the videos. This time I listened in to the Zoom session, but did not have anywhere enough of a finished garment to share.

The dress – and the videos- were completed in odd moments over the week after the Sewing Weekender . I am very pleased with the results, and very grateful to Susan for her advice.

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and YES the skirt is lovely.
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So finally, what did I think of my Sewing Weekender digital experience?

Well  of course it was very different from a weekend away. There were elements that were “easier” – having all my things to hand, no 2 hour car drive are the major pluses, anyone and everyone could attendBut I did miss the social element. I love chatting to people about what they are wearing, admiring the fabric, guessing the pattern etc etc. The videos were really great in creating an atmosphere / chatty background to help get some way towards this – so well done to everyone who contributed to those. And we did still all get a Goodie Bag ( which I hope will help any shops who have been struggling)

Personally  I would love to see any future digital format include opportunities for small scale meetings ( Zoom rooms) which could be used to meet new people / chat during the day for those of us who don’t have an established network of sewing pals. Maybe themed? Eg  at specific times  #Sewover50 chat room, a room for anyone making jeans / TAB / whatever the latest popular indie pattern is. what do others think?

So, very well done to all for organising this digital get together. You really did a great job of re defining the Sewing Weekender to make the best of current constraints. I hope in the future we will see BOTH experiences again- a summer weekend away maybe and a winter digital weekend? The best of both worlds – a chance to physically meet and immerse if you can but also if you can’t travel or get a ticket the opportunity to be included ( with the addition of winter weather so I don’t mind staying indoors all weekend)

 

 

 

Making Shirts

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I have just finished making my second man’s shirt  – I just never got round to posting the first, so time to rectify , and cover both shirts in one post.
Originally  this was one of those “ challenge myself” projects . A shirt just seemed a really difficult thing to get right but I had seen some beautiful one in blogs ( can’t believe the stunning ones made by malepatternboldness ) and wanted to give it a try.
In order to give me some scope for creativity I decided to make one for my son, not my husband! I felt the former might be a little more adventurous in what he would wear.

I looked at loads of patterns, and came close to buying a few ( still think maybe MimiGStyle  have been a good pick). In the end I bought  Simplicity 1544 because I felt it was traditional enough, but would walk me through some of the little touches of contrast fabric( view A)

My son lives over 300 miles away, and I wanted to make the shirt as a Christmas present so I resorted to using an old Shirt for a size guide. Key thing he said was to make the body fitted / not too loose.

For the first shirt I sourced fabric from the internet – ( Doughtys) a fairly traditional shirting cotton.

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but I paired it with something more flamboyant – an off cut picked up at a swap  , a lovely quality cotton lawn ( I think) with flamingos on it

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Pocket construction

I also took time to read up on and source some interfacing for the collar in order to get a really good crisp collar, I ended up buying this from William Gee on line

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Construction of yoke. Back tab was removed as my son did not like it

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I was pleased with the final result. It’s not perfect . In particular the collar does not sit correctly when buttoned right to the top – but as my son doesn’t wear a tie, this isn’t an issue.

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Son was impressed.
His only comment was that the sleeves were a bit wider than he would ideally like.

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Well the proof of liking was when he handed me some fabric late last year. He and his girlfriend had bought it thinking she might try making him a shirt, but with starting work this never happened .

This is a very different fabric. An interesting colour choice ( not one I would have guessed at for him) and quite heavy. More like a linen than a cotton.( you can see the texture in the photo collage below)

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The  lockdown finally got me started on making the shirt. That and a few subtle hints like “ where is my shirt you said you would make?”

So it was very much a repeat process. I adjusted the width of the shirt body as before using the old shirt as a guide. I reduced the width of the sleeves following comments from the first shirt.

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Same interfacing used in collar .I used standard heavyweight interfacing in other areas.

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Found scrap fabric to use for contrast, but used in slightly fewer places

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All seams are flat felled finish ( as was the first shirt

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The  sleeve placket  – I forgot to take photos of this for the first shirt

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And due to lockdown a rummage through my button box to find buttons – settled on a dark grey which I think works well.

 

I took extra care with the collar to ensure it buttoned this time

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It was definitely easier making this a second time, even though there was quite a gap between makes.

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The finished shirt

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I have waited to publish this as the shirt was sent to him for his birthday last weekend. So the update is that he wants white buttons – but his girlfriend will go to Abakhans to get some and do the replacement.

I’m still tempted to try a different pattern for a future make. Anyone got any recommendations? It needs to be slim fitted on the body and ideally with a narrow sleeve, suitable for slim late 20s man.

Ogden Cami Batch making

There is little to add to how I make Ogden camis now, or to the fact that this really is a TNT pattern for me – and my most made pattern ever.

Much of this is because my son’s girlfriend loves these tops. After making the first one for her and her comments that she had paid £30 for a very similar one, the requests and makes haven’t ended.

The latest request was for some summery camis. Up until now most that I had made were more winter layering / darker colours. I bought some fabric ready for this in the stitch show in February, and then bought a few extra pieces of fabric on line during lockdown.

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Double gauze light blue

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Textured cotton ( remnant from a me made dress)

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Viscose fabric

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Crinkle viscose fabric

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Viscose fabric

 

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Broderais anglais

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And here is the double gauze one being worn

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Scrubs, but no blogging

I knew I hadn’t written up anything on my blog for a while, and this morning I finally checked to see when the last post was. February – 3 posts just before I went skiing in early March.

There is my dress I made and then wore in Sri Lanka.
And did I mention travel? That’s right – Sri Lanka followed in March with a week skiing in Austria.

Since then the world has changed. At the moment, never mind travelling abroad, I would be happy to go to a local cafe with my friends for tea, scone and chat.

I made a list at the beginning of this ( I love lists) of the things I could do in lockdown. Of course there were lots of sewing projects, catching up on blog posts amongst other things. And despite all the “spare time” very little has been ticked off.

My “new normal” consists of zoom chats with mates, walks / cycle rides and indoor exercise classes ( I was prepared – my son who is a doctor gave his “elderly “ parents a stern talking to about not taking risks a week before lockdown even started. Result was we both suspended gym membership and I ordered a spin bike before lockdown started).

But my wish to sew things for myself completely evaporated. After all, where was I going to wear anything, what was the point?

That’s when I spotted the on line effort to make scrubs for the NHS.

And  that is what I have been doing.

I spotted a weekly post from a doctor at my GP surgery and approached her directly to ask if they needed any scrubs. Not long before scrubs for 5 – 2 sets each- we’re requested. I added to this 2 pairs for my son who is working in a Manchester hospital.

The fabric was ordered ( Cotton and poly cotton)and I waited to see what 50 metres looked like! It didn’t look as much as I thought but was really heavy to drag in

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Next stage was to pretest shrinkage. The poly cotton was fine, but I got about 5% shrinkage with the cotton which posed the challenge of calculating sensible lengths to cut the fabric in to and pre washing it all.

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The pattern I used was a free one from For the Love of Scrubs Facebook page.

I actually mocked up a couple of sizes ( XS and L) to check on myself and my husband before cutting in to the fabric – I had all the measurements of the doctors but of course no opportunity to fit anything. Anyway, this gave me a known size for 2 of the sizes enabling me to “guess” knowledgeably at what to make for who.

I soon gave up on trying to use my cutting table with 6-7 metre fabric lengths and resorted to that old tried and tested method of laying out  and cutting on the floor

After an intense week and a half of sewing ( with breaks for exercise etc of course) I completed 12 tops and 12 trousers and delivered to the local surgery and posted to my son.
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Here is one of the local doctors in her made to easier scrubs

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and here is my son in his

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All are made with a neater V neck rather than a facing ( see You Tube video here)

and with a tie waist ( rather than elasticated) to withstand washing at high temperature.

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It was great to feel I was contributing in some small way.

In the meantime my son has actually been off work with Covid 19. I guess it’s not surprising as he is working in a hospital that has been 50% converted to Covid-19 treatment and had 4 cases on his non Covid ward not long before he became ill. His partner also caught it – and the two consultants  on the same ward. The latter were hospitalised, but I guess the benefits of being young and fit hAve worked in son  and girlfriend’s  favour and both are well. My son is back at work.

And my next make ? Fabric masks

 

 

 

 

Moneta dress number 3

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The Moneta dress was one of my earlier makes (here) when I restarted Sewing about 5 years ago. I have worn both dresses numerous times as it’s one of those dresses that is so easy to wear. My versions have sleeves, so fit that in between British weather when it’s not quite warm enough for sleeveless.  It’s made up in jersey with an elastic waist – so comfy. The top is fitted but it has a lovely swishy skirt . And of course, it has pockets!

One of these early makes is definitely beginning to show wear . That’s sad as it is a favourite dress, and don’t you find it even harder to admit a me made item is no longer at its best?

But it does provide the opportunity to make another one.

So given I have loved my blue Moneta, it had to be another blue one.

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I was slightly surprised to see that I bought this fabric at the Ally Pally Stitch and Knit Show in 2016 – a definite #offwithherstash.

This also gave me the opportunity to try to rectify some of the issues I have had with previous makes. Both, to varying degrees, stretched out around the neckline when sewing up. And both were slightly wide at the neck too. I dealt with this after the event on the previous dresses by adding darts at the neckline.

 

For my latest version I tackled things differently. Firstly I cut a size smaller at the neckline above the bust. This bought the width of the neckline  and shoulders in slightly.

I then cut a narrow facing in fusible interfacing for the  neckline and applied this before constructing the dress.

The rest of the dress was completed as previously.

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I’m pleased with the result. The neckline has held its shape and there has been no need for darts.

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And here I am wearing it – with an unusual guest appearance by my husband ( he’s usually taking the photos)

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So have  I disposed of my old blue Moneta? What do you think?

Of course not…..maybe when I don’t wear it in the summer???????

 

 

Style Arc Montana Midi dress

This is not my usual choice of pattern. I tend to go for more fitted dress styles. On this occasion however I wanted something loose , comfy and cool to wear in 30+ degrees , with some arm coverage and covering the knees ( more makes for my holiday in Sri Lanka.)

I chose this Style Arc pattern – the Montana midi dress

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and already had this summery cool viscose in my fabric stash.

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It was bought from the Textile Centre in July 2019  for £7.75 for 2 metres

The construction of this dress is pretty simple – no zips, buttons or inset sleeves. Whilst the pattern gives a lined bodice, I also decided to line the skirt as the fabric being light coloured was a little see through without this. My lining is an extremely lightweight viscose that I bought in bulk specifically for this type of project.

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I decided on size  6.  ( 32.3 inch bust) And that’s when my love of slightly more fitted styles kicked back. Yes I know this style is meant to be loose, and the lack of fastenings etc is a big clue for this, but my first try on made me feel like I was being dropped into a sack ( albeit a pretty one). Not wanting to loose the comfort, coolness and ease that I originally wanted, my solution was to seam  in  the bodice from under the arms down to the “ waist” and add ties at the waist. Simple , but effective.

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For me it has given the dress that little bit of extra shaping without compromising the comfort and coolness.

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Here I am off on my tuk tuk tour of Colombo in the finished dress.

5DD6C07D-C25D-4119-9407-AB66049D9E0DIt fulfilled requirements.

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It was cool and comfortable ( temperatures were about 34 degrees that day) whilst still being acceptable for temple visiting .

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And added bonus, there was enough fabric left over to make a top ( Scout Tee )

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Christmas Sewing

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Its not often I sew decorative objects – dressmaking is more my thing – but this Christmas has seen 2 new Christmas decorations sewn in my weekly Cotton Clubs Sewing classes.

The first project was to use free motion machine embroidery . The proposed project was to create a hoop hanging decoration – and this is what the rest of the class did. I however decided to create a coffee table runner for my lounge.

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Work in progress

The design was changed from round to square, and I planned three panels for the runner which would be individually created before being mounted on the runner itself. My room features blue and maroon so these colours were picked up.

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Designs were researched on the web and drafted on pattern tracing paper before being cut into sections and applied to a backing fabric with

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Then the fun bit – the machine embroidery, whilst this had to hold the pieces in place, we were also encouraged not to make it too regular /  appliqué like, and to use it to sketch in elements.

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I think the details on my reindeer and  snowman have probably been the most successful at achieving this

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And just for interest , here is some of the beautiful work of others in my class.

 

The second project was much quicker – many people made multiple  versions. This was a cute little reindeer. The bottom of its legs are weighted with rice so it stands up

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And just to complete my Christmas decorating creativity ,here is the Wreath I made for my door at my local WI’s wreath making session!

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And a somewhat scarey Christmas tree snowman for the local tree competition ( again with my WI).

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And just heard Frosty the snowman got 2nd prize!