Make It: Monkey Pyjama Case

So it turns out pyjama cases might not be a thing most people have heard of, but in my family they were (and are) a thing! My brother had one in the shape of Mr Chatterbox from the Mr Men. For my niece’s second birthday I made her one in the shape of a monkey, her favourite animal. I was going to make this as a downloadable thing but it didn’t work well enough!

Here is the finished case (with thanks to my sister for taking the photo!):

I did a search on pinterest for pictures of monkeys for inspiration and I came across this one! The first thing I did was to try to draw this photo in a way that I would be able to recreate in fabric, and I came up with this:

I then drew it a bit bigger on tracing paper (i.e. greaseproof paper), then traced all the smaller bits of the face onto other pieces so I could cut them all out, I also traced the face shape with the mouth cut out. I added a 1cm seam allowance to all the pieces except the eyes and nose (which don’t have seams).

I bought half a metre of brown cotton fabric from my local shop, which was more than enough for the size I made. I also used some cream jersey (which I used to underline my Sallie Maxi Dress) and some black jersey which I already had in my stash. I was going to use felt but I didn’t have enough cream/white felt for the mouth pieces.

Cut 2 each of the back of the head, and the front of the head (face) with the mouth hole cut out in brown cotton.
Cut 4 ears in brown cotton.
Cut 2 of each of the top lip and bottom lip from the cream jersey (or felt).
Cut 2 outer eyes from cream jersey (or felt).
Cut 2 ear inners from cream jersey (or felt).
Cut 2 pupils from black jersey (or felt).
Cut 2 nostrils from black jersey (or felt).
You will also need a zip for the mouth and some stuffing.
Cut wadding for the back of the head, the front of the head (face), and the ears. I cut 2 pieces for each part that needed stiffening as my wadding was quite thin.

The first thing I made was the mouth. The advantage of using jersey is that it is forgiving if it’s not quite perfect. Also it stretched to accommodate the stuffing.

I was using an invisible zip, but I sewed it with a normal zip foot so I think this would work with a normal zip too. I sewed a top lip piece and a bottom lip piece to the zip, with right sides together so the seams (and stitching) are hidden.

I then lined up the other 2 lip pieces, mostly so I would remember which one was the top lip and which one was the bottom lip.

I then repeated the first step with the other 2 lip pieces, with them right sides together with the other side of the zip. It will mean the zip is sandwiched between the 2 top lips and the 2 bottom lips, with the zipper tape hidden between the 2 layers.

This is what it looks like with just the top lip pieces sewn on both sides. It’s like it would look if you sew a lining to a zip on the inside of a dress, but you’re doing it with a machine.

This is what it looks like with both lips sewn on both sides, though you can obvs only see one side!

And yet another picture with the zip zipped up. I could have moved the top lip slightly to the left in the below photo – the monkey’s jaw is a little wonky!

I then sewed (with a zig zag stitch if you’re using jersey) the 2 top lips together, and the 2 bottom lips together, leaving a gap at one edge for stuffing. You can sew these wrong sides together, because the stitching will later be hidden when you sew the mouth into the mouth hole. The stuff both sides, and stitch up the gaps. And you’ll have something that looks like this:

Now you’ll want to attach the inner ear parts to 2 ears pieces, like below. You will also want to sew on the eyes at this point – I left it to a later step and had to fiddle to get them on without going through both face layers. You’ll want to sew the eyes onto only one face piece so you don’t see the stitching on the inside.

Next was to assemble the ears. You put the 2 brown pieces right sides together,

The the 2 pieces of wadding on the top (it doesn’t matter which brown piece you have on the top, it just matters that the wadding is on the outside of the brown pieces and not in between them). Stitch around the long curved edge, leaving a gap on the inside of the ear so you can turn it the right way around – and this part will be hidden when they’re attached to the head. You’ll need to trim the wadding of the seam allowance to reduce bulk.

Now you need to sandwich the 2 head backs with the wadding, and the 2 faces with the wadding. For these you can sandwich them – brown cotton, wadding, brown cotton – and just stitch around the edge because these edges will be sewing into the seams attaching the back of the head and the face. You’ll not want to stitch around the mouth hole, because the inner piece will be used like a facing to hide the stitching attaching the mouth to the face.

The next couple of steps were quite hard to photograph! Pin the top lip, with right sides together, to the top of the mouth hole. I found it quite hard to stitch all the way to the edges of the zip, so you may find you have to sew it in smaller sections. This is where jersey is your friend by the way! You may need to turn the face inside out, via the mouth hole, to be able to get access to the right bits. You will be able to turn it the right way around using the zip opening, so you can completely seal the mouth into the hole. I found this out the hard way, with some unnecessary unpicking!

This is what it should look like on the right side with the top lip sewn. (You can see I hadn’t sewn the pupils into the eyes – I thought I could do it without having to change the thread loads of times, but I should have just sucked it up!

This is kind of what it looked like with the bottom lip pinned. I’m not going to lie, it was fiddley and took a few goes to get it right!

Once you’ve wrestled the mouth into the mouth hole, it’s time to assemble the thing! First I handstitched the nose into place – I don’t think you’ll be able to sew it on before everything is assembled on the face.

Then pin the ears on top of the face, with the inner parts face down. You may also want to baste them in place, which I didn’t do, then I turned it the right way around and one of the ears fell off because it wasn’t attached properly. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

If you’re putting hair on your monkey (which I made with pieces of wool which I undid, to make smaller strands) you’ll want to place it a this stage too. The part of the hair that will show is the part on the monkey’s forehead, not the part sticking out the top. I basted these in place. Then you lay the back of the head on top of the face and stitch all the way around. You can, again, turn it the right way around via the zip. Hopefully the ears and hair will all be in place and not falling off! I was going to do french seams, but that felt too fiddley in the end, so I overlocked the seam allowance on the inside to try to neaten it a bit. The last thing to do (which I did really late the night before I was travelling to deliver it so failed to take any photos!) is to hand sew the inside face layer around the edge of the mouth, folding back the seam allowance, just like a facing around a waist seam. I hope this makes sense!

And here is the finished monkey!

I made the mouth with the zip so that it could eat the pyjamas!

And here are the pyjamas inside the monkey’s….head…..

Have you every made a pyjama case? Have you every heard of a pyjama case!? I’m going to make another one for my nephew, who was just 4 (so I’m a terrible aunt and it will be late!), in the shape of a penguin. If anyone has any ideas how I can make it similar in having the pyjamas get in via the beak, do let me know. I’m struggling to think of how to get it to work!

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Make It: Quilted Cushion

Earlier this year I heard about the Secret Valentine’s Exchange organised by Sanae Ishida and Ute and decided to join in because it sounded fun to make a present for a stranger. Of course once I received my name (Sarah of Northfield Primitives) I was terrified that I would make something that she didn’t like. Everyone who signed up had to fill in a questionnaire of tastes, favourite colours and things, and social media handles and online presence to do a bit of good old-fashioned online stalking! One of the ideas is to use things mostly from your stash too, so I dug through my stash to find fabrics I thought she would like.

Sara listed her favourite colours as blue, mustard yellow, earthy browns and reds, and said she likes old and vintage fabrics, bits of old patchwork and lace. Luckily her colour palette is similar to the colours I like. Since she said she liked patchwork, I thought I’d make a patchwork/quilted cushion cover. I sketched some ideas, working on 6×6 squares, halved into triangles.

I settled on the version on the left and coloured it in to work out which fabrics would go where.

Half the fabrics needed 4 triangles and half needed 8, to make it symmetrical. I then made a key of which fabric matched with which colour on my picture. The corner of the paper is missing because this was my pattern piece for the triangles. I drew a 6cm x 6cm square, then drew a diagonal line down the middle. I then added 1cm to each edge for seam allowance. The total size (36cm x 36cm) was based on a cushion pad I already had in my stash.

I then sewed the triangles into squares. Because it’s symmetrical in all 4 corners, there weren’t that many different combinations in the squares.

I then sewed the squared into strips, making sure each square was facing the right way according to my plan. This hurt my brain a little at various points! Having all the strips made meant I could lay it out to look what it was going to look like. At this point I wasn’t sure it was going to work as I felt some of the fabrics didn’t look great together.

As with so many of my non-clothes makes, I used calico for the back of the cushion and also as the backing for the patchwork/quilting bit. I bought some wadding from my local shop (which was the only thing I bought for this make) and sandwiched 2 layers between the calico (which I had cut down to 38cm x 38cm (with 1cm seam allowance) and the patchwork. I kind of made up the stitching lines and used white thread as I couldn’t decide what other colour would go with so many different colours of fabric. In the end the stitching was pretty much all in the seam lines so it wasn’t too obvious on the front.

Here is the quilting pattern I used (from the back of the front of the cushion):

And here’s the finished cushion!

I didn’t use a zip or anything, I just left a gap to get the pad in and hand stitched it closed. I wonder if I could have added another one or 2 layers of wadding to make the cushion more puffy, but it looks okay. I sent a little package of some fat quarters and other bits and pieces which I thought Sarah would like. I was definitely relieved when she said she liked it!

Did you join in with the Secret Valentine’s Exchange? Or another secret gift exchange? Did you find it nerve-wracking to make something for someone you don’t know?!

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Selfless Sewing: Denim Moss Skirt for my Sister

I finally made the final skirt my sister asked for for Christmas a couple of weeks ago, yay! (Though I’ve got another one yet to blog) I decided to model it myself for some photos before sending it in the post. It is, of course, the Grainline Studio Moss Skirt.

denim-moss-skirt-1I have to say, I’m really quite pleased with this make. I like a simple skirt that has a front, a back and a waistband, but it was nice to make something a bit more complicated. And it has pockets!

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This was my first time sewing a fly, and I have to say it wasn’t as scary or as difficult as I thought it would be! The instructions for this pattern were really clear and easy to follow for the fly front. The only thing I found, though, was that the fly shield on the inside (which covers the zip on the inside) seems to be on backwards as the zig-zagged/ overlocked edge is the edge that shows then the zip is undone and the folded side is hidden, but I feel like it should be the flipped over. I know Jen from Gingerella also found this problem – which made me more convinced it wasn’t my mistake! She talks about it in this video, in case you don’t understand what I’m talking about!

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One of the things I really like about this pattern is the yoke on the back. I decided to use jeans-type top-stitching to make the skirt look like a proper denim skirt, and to show up the design lines that wouldn’t otherwise be obvious, like the yoke.

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I made the skirt in a size 6, and as eagle-eyed readers may spot, it’s a long version but without the band that is on the pattern for the long version. Phoebe didn’t really like the way that looked, so I extended the length of the mini skirt version instead, but 6.25 inches, to make it hit just below the knee.

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I was actually quite sad to have to give this skirt away to be honest, but luckily there was enough left of the denim for me to cut out a version for myself! You can tell I like it, by how many photos I’ve taken! I particularly like it with this striped top which my old boss gave to me! You can’t beat breton-style tops and denim!

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For the topstitching I used gutterman topstitching thread, in that goldy colour which I associate with jeans. I lengthened the stitch length to 4 (instead of my standard 2.5) and used blue thread in the bobbin, as there isn’t much topstitching thread on each roll because it’s so thick. I did have to play around with the tension a bit, because of having 2 different thicknesses of thread.
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If you follow me on instagram, you’ll already have seen that I used a jeans button for the first time on this skirt – sorry for the blurry photo, though! I was a bit scared to put the button on, because you can’t really move them once they’re on! I made the button-hole first and then made sure it all sat flat and straight and then marked where the button should go. And it all worked out okay!

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Here are some closer shots showing the topstitching. There is supposed to be a bar tack at the bottom of the fly shape, which sort of worked, but not really. If anyone has any tips of how to do that, I’m all ears!

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I did double rows of stitching on the centre seams and on the yoke, because it seemed right. Because the waistband is quite narrow, though, I thought one row of stitching would look best. I ummed and ahhed about the hem, and whether to sew it in matching or topstitching thread, and I’m glad I went for topstitching thread as it looks right.

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I used some thinner fabric for the waistband facing and the pocket linings. I think this might be the first time I’ve used contrasting fabric in this way, and I love it! This fabric is actually from a dress which my friend gave me in a big pile of things before I left London. The little dark flowers might look black from afar, but they are actually navy blue, which nicely matches the shade of blue of the denim.

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The pattern is really well drafted, so there’s absolutely no way the pocket linings will poke out to the right side, but it’s nice to get a flash of the lining when you look inside the pockets!

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My sister very obligingly took a photo of herself wearing the skirt – unfortunately it’s kind of teeny! The skirt looks a little big on me, because it’s a size bigger than I will make for myself, but it looks pretty perfect on her! Phew!

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Once I make my own denim version of this, it might become my favourite skirt pattern! Made in a smarter fabric, without the topstitching, and with a normal button, I think it will look smart enough for work.

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Selfless Sewing: 2 Delphines for my sister

As I mentioned in my December planning post, my main task for that month was to make some skirts for my sister as she couldn’t really find any in shops that she liked, but she can’t wear a lot of the trousers she has because of her prosthetic leg. I managed to make 3 in time for Christmas and 2 of those were Tilly and the Buttons Delphines, from her book Love At First Stitch. I’ve made one of these for myself and was glad to have another go at the pattern.

The first one I made was from some lovely, soft red corduroy from Fabric Land – it’s so soft that it’s called buttersoft! I was worried the skirt might not hold its shape in such a drapey fabric, but it does, which is excellent. I made the skirts in a size 3 and lengthened them by 3 1/4 inches so it would hit just below her knee and cover the place where the prosthetic attaches onto her leg.

phoebes-red-corduroy-delphine-2As well as lengthening them, I sewed the side seams with a 1cm seam allowance instead of a 1.5cm seam allowance as Phoebe’s waist measurement is 28 in which is exactly the finished measurement of the size 3 but I wanted to give her a little ease. You probably don’t know this unless you know someone who has had a leg amputated, but initially, although you get your permanent leg fairly early on, the way it attaches at first is around the waist, so Phoebe’s waist is a little bigger than it otherwise would be. I can always take in the waists if they end up too big once the leg is attached with suction – the reason for this change is that it can take up to 8-9 months for the residual limb to shrink down to its permanent shape and size – there is swelling and fluid retention to being with – and this shrinking happens faster once you have your prosthetic. So there’s a little lesson for you!

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The navy blue drill was also from Fabric Land. It was really hard to photograph, so I apologise for the blurriness of these photos! I think this fabric is a little more on the petrol end of navy blue – I guess navy blue isn’t a colour that’s always just one colour, it’s not black or white! Phoebe’s not so keen on this one, but I think it might be easier to wear it when the weather gets a little warmer as she will hopefully have things that go better with it. Otherwise, it’s not the end of the world! It’s a quick pattern to make.

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The other change I made to the pattern was to use non-invisible zips because my sewing machine will not sew invisible zips. I think the bobbin is out of sync or something because when I put the invisible zip foot on, the needle always jams inside the bobbin case. Grrr. I should get it serviced really….. I can’t remember the last time I sewed a non-invisible zip (I kept persevering with the invisible zips, but sewing them with a normal zip foot) and I’d forgotten you need to sew the bottom part of the seam first and then put in the zip, and not the other way around as with invisible zips. So I had to unpick the first one a couple of times because I twigged!

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When I was home for Christmas, I got Phoebe to model the red skirt. It fitted really well and was the length she was after – win! It looks good with her apt Christmas jumper too! She wore it the whole of Christmas day (after she had opened the present) so hopefully that means it has the seal of approval!

I quite enjoyed doing some selfless sewing – maybe this is the solution for when I feel like I have too many clothes but still want to sew things? I could make clothes for other people!

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Make It: 15 Homemade Christmas Present Ideas

15 Homemade Christmas Present IdeasOn Saturdayย  the boyfriend and I went to see the Christmas lights being turned on in Cirencester and it was really lovely. We all sang a couple of carols then Ben Miller (or Armstrong and Miller fame), who is apparently local pressed the button then there were fireworks on the roof of the local church. It has definitely got me feeling in the festive mood so I thought I’d share my pick of homemade presents I’ve made for various people in the past – I have no ideas of things to make this year, so if anyone has any ideas I’m definitely looking for some inspiration!

(click on the picture for the full post)

One of the most versatile and adaptable presents you could make is a tote bag – you can applique something on it to suit the person you’re making it for. I’ve made them with a car, a strawberry and BBC’s Sherlock on for various people!

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For your tea-loving friend or relative, why not make them a tea-cup candle? You can flavour them with any essential oil – I used chocolate, mmmm.

Do you have a friend who loves lego? If so, you could make them a lego doorstop – there isn’t a huge amount of knitting involved, so you’ve still got time to make this in time for the big day!

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You could make a genuinely one-off present in the form of a scrapbook, as I did for my dad’s 65th birthday.

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For your music-loving friend or relative why not make a vinyl record clock?

For your internet-meme-loving friend or relative you’ve still got just about enough time to embroider a cushion cover ๐Ÿ˜‰

thumbnail_img_1309For your friend or relative who loved cooking and baking you could make them a lovely apron – there are lots of free patterns out there. I used the one from the first Great British Sewing Bee.

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If you have a friend or relative who loves running or exercising, you could make them a useful present in the form of a running armband to hold their phone and keys while they’re out doing their thing.

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For Kids:

If you know a kid who needs entertaining while traveling (or at other times!) why not make the travel match game I made for my friend’s daughter?

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If you know a kid (or have a kid) who would like to learn about growing things, why not make them a felt allotment? (p.s. this is really, honestly, one of my very favourite things I’ve ever made – I was more excited to give it away than I think the recipient was when she opened it!)

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Why not make their favourite book into a cushion cover……..

Sarah-&-Duck-cushion-2or a wall-hanging?

Clothes are sometimes a good option for kiddies (though they will grow out of them in no time at all!) I’ve appliqued babygrows, made dungarees and made the cutest dresses with matching knickers!

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Are you making any homemade presents this year? I’m not sure I’ll have time to be brutally honest, though my sister has asked me to make her some skirts so I think that will count….if I get them made in time?!

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