Archives for posts with tag: sewing

Lots of these little purses half-way finished. The cuttings are like confetti, but I’m fighting the urge to throw them in the air. I have enough tidying to do.


Recently, some of my favourite dresses have been falling apart. One sage green and cream floral floaty Topshop dress in particular needs a major revamp. The straps have come adrift more than once and the button loops are coming loose one by one. But I love it! So I decided to completely replace the bodice with an Alabama Chanin style cotton-jersey one (which is mostly just an excuse to do lots of hand stitching). The fabric is from one of the boyfriend’s old t-shirts, which I tea dyed before cutting up. I’m using the “wrong” side as the outside, because the right side was very badly stained in some places.

I don’t quite know how I’m going to attach it to the skirt. I think the ties at the back of the current bodice might become a waist band, and those buttons are definitely getting a home on the new top. One thing I can’t decide on is if to keep some element of the exposed back (currently it has no back, just ties) or to try to get rid of it, potentially losing an inch or two off the skirt (not ideal). Hmm.

After this one, I have a purple-green-grey paisley print cotton dress to tackle, with some rather lovely smocking on the back that needs preserving. After that… well, I’ll find something.

P.S. I have some new products in the works, inspired (in an un-straightforward way) by a collection of antique keys Darren just bought me … which will hopefully available this autumn.

When altering that beautiful vintage Laura Ashley dress, I managed to nick a hole right above the hem. Clever. Luckily, I was cutting inches and inches off this dress so I had plenty of fabric to make repairs. Double-luckily, this was the only repair I had to make. I applied an appliqué patch, lining the floral pattern up carefully and using a complimentary-colour thread. The result when it’s worn is pretty much invisible (even I have to look hard to find it!):

Patches like this are pretty easy but a little fiddly – just take your time and it’ll turn out fine.

I carefully studied the pattern repeat around the hole and found the same section on the cut-off fabric. I cut the piece out in an oval, big enough to cover the hole plus about 1cm extra. I then pinned this in place, lining up the pattern carefully.

Finally I stitched it in place by tucking under a finger’s width of the edge by 5mm, bringing the needle up from the wrong side and making a tiny stitch on the fold. I repeated this all the way around.

If you’re worried about fraying, add an extra patch to the reverse but instead of stitching it in place, use Supermend or Bondaweb to stick it over the hole. Alternatively (or additionally) darn the hole — the darning stitch is simply made up of rows of running stitches across the hole, following the weave of the fabric, to cover the area.

handmade eco-friendly hemp and organic cotton handbagLook! At last! Here it is! The first release of the new collection! This is the Small Adventure bag (£60/$87). Say hello! :)

I should be in bed, but I had to share the news. I’m sure when I look at the listing tomorrow I’ll have to amend it straight away, having unwittingly left out some vital details… but click here to see the Etsy listing anyway! I’m considering listing these on Folksy too, as they will be made to order (they have customisable elements). It might save my UK fans from feeling alienated!

With this collection, I really wanted to push my ethos further. So as usual, I have used my favourite hemp and organic cottons – but now many of these are also fair trade, so they’re ethical too! The shape of the bag itself was designed to waste as little fabric as possible – geometric shapes lend themselves to efficient pattern cutting. Plus it’s durable – not just in a physical sense, but in a design sense too. I can change the lining and the pattern panel to create a whole new look.

At first I was very taken with the idea that the outside of the bag would show glimpses of a more vibrant interior – and I’m really pleased with how that panned out. The teasing glimpse of the pink lining on the seams, and the full reveal of the patterned panel when you open the bag are details that I’m very pleased with. Also… I managed to wrangle a lot of hand stitching into the construction, so I’m a happy Maimy. :)

I hope you like it!

Sadly, I’ve had to move out of the little studio I shared. Hopefully we’ll still be able to meet regularly. So I’m back to working completely from home — since my big room tidy-up, there’s no space there for my old work table. Nor is there space for it anywhere else in the house. This means that when I want to do some serious sewing, I have to take over the kitchen table…

vintage sewing machine, sewing table, eco friendly fabrics

This is my little sewing machine. It’s a 30-year-old Cub 4. Originally it was my Nana’s, then my Mum’s, and now mine. Sometimes it has a hissy fit when I try to do freehand embroidery, but that’s OK. It has a little plaque on in, because it was awarded to my Granddad for 30 years’ service at ICI (he let Nana choose the gift). So it’s pretty precious to me. This was the scene on Tuesday when bag no.2 of the new collection came into being.

organic cottons, spoonflower fabric, hemp linen on a vintage scarf

On the newly stencilled table: vintage scarf (I keep all my fabrics bundled in these), 100% hemp fabric, organic cotton solid and organic cotton sateen printed with my design

Pictures of the new bag will arrive after the next sunny day here in Redcar…

It’s not finished… but it’s already sparked a different idea. Or two.  Helped along by the arrival of some beautiful coloured organic cottons. (More on that later this week.)

Well, happy March! This is a month of celebrations for me, starting with me & my boyfriend’s 4th anniversary of togetherness tomorrow. Four years! Then there’s my friend’s birthday, my brother’s, my dad’s… the list actually does go on.

I’ll leave you with this.

Hares have long been thought to behave excitedly in March, which is their mating season. Lewis Carroll is among many who have used that in stories – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

“The March Hare … as this is May, it won’t be raving mad – at least not so mad as it was in March.”

More recently this behaviour has been questioned and it is now thought that hares behave oddly – boxing, jumping etc. – throughout their breeding season, which extends over several months.

Be that as it may; hares, especially March hares, have that reputation, which will surely stay with them.

From Phrases

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have bags full of scraps of fabric that you just can’t bear to throw away – they’re too small to do anything with, but all together they add up to a lot of waste. So what to do with it all?

Well, that’s a question I’m always asking myself, so I was bound to come up with an answer sooner or later. :) So welcome to my Snow Garland tutorial! This charming string of ‘snowflakes’ is great for making your festive décor a little more tactile, whether you’re brilliant at sewing or you’re still finding your way around your machine. Use a mix of satins, linens and other textures for a sumptuous effect. I used my hemp mix corduroy, silk, cotton and linen in mine.

These look great hung in a window (either as a garland or vertically in a group), on a stair rail (if it has space to move, the snowflakes will shiver and twirl as the air moves around them!), tacked onto a boring dress, ;) on a tree, on the table… Make enough to go around a room, or just enough to wrap a present, it’s up to you! What will you do with yours?

Time taken: 30 mins

You will need:

  • Rectangles of scrap fabric in creams & browns (or the colours of your choice)
  • Scrap lace if desired
  • A bonding agent such as Bondaweb or Supermend (both readily available online or in haberdashery/fabric shops)
  • Grease proof paper (if using Supermend)
  • An iron
  • A sewing machine (or needle and thread if you want to stitch it by hand)
  • Fading fabric marker (such as Prym’s Trickmarker)
  • Fabric scissors
  • Template – see step 2 or print & cut out the template at the end of this tutorial


  • I had my sewing machine stitch length set to 2
  • This tutorial is for a string of approximately 1m. Increase number of flakes for longer lengths (about 30 per metre)


Put grease proof paper down to protect your ironing board from the glue

1.a. If using Supermend, lay your rectangles on  a piece of grease proof paper. Sprinkle Supermend over one half (you’re going to fold it so that the short edges meet, making a rough square, rather than lengthways). Fold your rectangles in half, blow away excess glue crystals and cover with another piece of grease proof paper. Iron on a fairly high heat for about a minute. If using delicate or synthetic fabric, lower the heat and extend the time accordingly. Do this with each fabric scrap so that you have around 10 double-sided rectangles. Make sure that your fabric is evenly bonded, as you don’t want it coming apart when you cut into it!

Supermending: lay more grease proof paper over the top to protect your iron!

1.b. If using bondaweb, do the same except instead of sprinkling, cut a piece of bondaweb to the size of  half each scrap and iron in place. Remove the backing paper of the bondaweb, fold the rectangle and iron again. Repeat for each scrap.

Cotton reels, coins or old-fanshioned weigh scale weigths make good templates for your snowflakes

2. Using cotton reels (or something circular of a similar scale) as templates, fill your fabric scraps one one side with circles of different sizes using your fabric marker. Remember you want about 30 pcs. per metre, but you’ll need less circles if you want to use scraps of lace too. Each circle is a snowflake.

Cut pieces of lace, if you want to include them, to the same width as your snowflakes

3. Cut out all of your snowflakes using fabric scissors, trimming off the marker too if you can (but don’t worry too much, it should fade on its own). At this point I like to put all the pieces in a jar or box and shake it to mix them all up, but you can just gather them in a pile if you like!

Sew in a straight line down the centre of each snowflake

4. Sewing time! (If you’re stitching by hand, exchange a machine stitch for a running stitch, making a small knot at the beginning and end of each snowflake. You’ll need to cut a thread  about 120cm for a metre and stitch slowly so that it doesn’t tangle!) Thread your machine with cream (or corresponding) thread. Leave a tail of thread about 10cm long. This will help when you come to hang your garland. Place your first snowflake under the foot, with the needle ready to pierce a few millimetres from the leading edge as shown above. Sew a straight line down the centre, stopping a few mm from the opposite edge.

Pull your snowflake back about a cm

5. Lift the foot and without cutting the thread, pull your first snowflake back away from you by a centimetre or two. You may need to hold this one in place with a finger when you begin to sew the next.

Sew your next snowflake without cutting the thread

6. Place your next snowflake under the foot and sew as before. Continue in the way – sew a snowflake, pull it back, sew the next one (substituting the occasional snowflake for a piece of lace), until you run out of snowflakes or reach the desired length. When removing the final snowflake, remember to leave a tail of thread about 10cm long before you cut.

7. Double knot the tails at either end to secure them, and enjoy! Store them carefully on cards and your snow garlands can bring a touch of tactility to your festive decorations year after year. :)

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