Tag Archives: Homemade gift

My first commission (sort of!)

A couple of weeks ago, one of my colleagues sidled up to me and asked if I would be able to sew something for a surprise party she was organising to celebrate the CEO working at the company for 20 years. The idea was to do a sort of raffle, but where all the names in the hat are the CEO because every team bought him a silly gift. So they wanted something to keep the gifts in, which is where I come in!

bag-for-work-2I made a sack! Like a Santa’s sack but in company colours instead of Christmas colours. I bought 1.5m of purple fabric from my local shop – it’s quite a sturdy cotton twill. And it matches the branding shade of purple pretty closely. I measured that the sack should be about 70cm x 85cm, with the writing (on the other side of the above photo) taking up 30cm x 50cm. I made a photoshop document of 30cm x 50cm, typed the writing and made it as big (in Tahoma font) as it would go, which was size 180pt.

bag-for-work-5I printed the letters, cut them out then cut 2 of each one out of the white fabric left over from my Quiet Books (1 & 2). I cut them out twice because I was worried a single layer wouldn’t be thick enough, and the letters wouldn’t look totally white. I zigzagged around the edge of each letter to help it not to fray. It took ages! There are 27 letters altogether!

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Another part of the branding/logo for my work is an ear of corn, so I used the leftover fabric from my Mustard Victoria Blazer and Astoria to applique it on. I drew the shape onto paper, then used that as a pattern. Because it’s a knit, I used a straight stitch rather than a zigzag to sew it on.

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I originally wasn’t going to make a gusset, but when I measured the fabric, it was about 30cm too long (folded in half) for the height I roughly wanted. So I measured 25cm from the ‘bottom’ (the fold was down one side), then cut off the 25 cm from both sides. I have one of these left as I only needed one for the gusset. I used my own tutorial from my tote bag post to put the gusset in because I forgot how to do it! And I used all french seams, to make it a bit stronger. I did cut through the fold on the side and sew the seam again, to make it uniform, but if you’re in more of a hurry, you could use the fold as either the bottom or one of the sides.

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The final thing to do was to sew a channel at the top for the drawstring – which is where the extra 5cm from the height comes in. I folded the top down by 1.5cm and stitched it, then folded it by another 3.5cm and stitched it again, as far away from the top of the bag as possible, to leave a channel for the ‘string’. You can leave a gap in this final line of stitching to get the drawstring in, but I decided to unpick the side seam a little (making sure the stitching lines were secured and unlikely to undo), so the drawstring wouldn’t pull the top of the bag inside out.

The CEO really liked the bag, and the fake raffle thing worked really well! Also, we were all convinced he knew about the party but he really didn’t which was pretty cool! I’ve called this my (sort of) first commission because I got the money for the purple fabric back, but I didn’t get paid for my time. I guess because it was for my day job, it was a slightly awkward situation. I did mentally add up how long it took me to make, and it was 9 hours – it took ages to cut out and stitch all the letters! If I was paid minimum wage for those hours, I would have earned ยฃ65 but all I got was the ยฃ8 for the cost of the purple fabric – I didn’t get money back for the fabrics and drawstring I already had in my stash. I did sort of mention that I should charge for my time, but then I chickened out. How do you justify your worth for work done? It’s not like I would do my admin paid work at home in my spare time, but I found it hard to charge for something I do for a hobby.

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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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Make It: Meme Cushion

(*This post contains swearing*)

I love a good internet meme. And this bayeux tapestry one is one of my favourites. I was chatting to my Aunt on the phone a few months ago and I think she might have told me about it – we were talking about other ‘don’t give a fuck’ memes too.

memeWhen she mentioned this meme, I googled it and found someone else had embroidered it on a cushion and thought this was a fantastic idea. I filed it away and planned to make it for my Aunt’s birthday, which is at the end of September. We’ve both had a pretty crappy few months so it seemed even more appropriate by the time I handed it over – a little late, oops!

meme-cushion-1I used the picture at the top as my inspiration and drew a version on paper – an A3 sheet (2 A4 sheets stuck together). I started with the writing – it was quite fun to make sure it didn’t look even or straight! I would not have had the skill to do it neatly! I traced everything onto greaseproof paper, then traced it onto the calico – it’s quite good how you can draw on calico! And because you’re sewing over it, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t all come off.

I like the 2 different kinds of ‘e’ and the random dots at the ends of some words. Also the ‘v’-shaped u’s. I did make one mistake though – can you spot it? (The a in barren doesn’t have the cross part, it’s just an upside-down ‘v’.) I sewed all the letters with really thick embroidery thread from my local sewing shop, using backstitch so the lines were unbroken.

meme-cushion-5I added a simplified version of the house thing in the photo. This is mostly to fill the space above the men! Again I used backstitch.

The men are maybe my finest hour of embroidery – again it’s a good job this wasn’t meant to look amazing! I decided to put just 3 of the men and not all 4 – I thought 4 might be pushing it! I did the outlines in brown embroidery thread – the kind you get with crossstitch kits. I used 2 strands at a time.

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I bought 4 different colours of thread – gold, red, green and black. I used the grey mixed with the brown for the cape of the dude on the right. I pretty much copied the colours from the picture as best I could. I slightly with I hadn’t done the 2 bright colours on the same guy on the left. But he does have an excellent moustache, so there’s that.

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I just used long stitches to fill in the lines as quickly as possible basically – I don’t know what the stitch is called, though.

meme-cushion-4I asked the advice of my friends when I’ve done all the above about whether to add some soil-type lines and they all agreed yes. And they were definitely right – it looked a bit bare before I added them. This is what it looked like before I sewed the front to the back.

meme-cushion-2I had left the piece of fabric quite big so I had room to change the proportions according to the cushion inner thing. But in the end I made an inner cushion and used toy filling to stuff the cushion. I think I stuffed it a bit full, though, because you can’t really see all of the embroidery unless you squish it a bit.

Here is is all finished!

meme-cushion-8And here is is on my sofa – it took so long to make it look good, it was ridiculous! I’m not great at styling I think – any tips?

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My aunt took this photo of it on her chair and made it look sooooo much better! She’s definitely better at styling!

Meme cushionDo you have a favourite meme? If so, please post it in the comments to give me a giggle ๐Ÿ™‚ Would you be tempted to embroider it on a cushion? It could be a good Christmas present for someone!

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Make It: Another Quiet Book

After the success of my first Quiet Book for my niece, I made another one for my nephew, Teddy. He’s now 3 so the pages I made for him were a bit more advanced than for my niece who only turned 1. The book ended up being a month late for his birthday in May – it just all took so much longer than I thought it would! There are so many fiddley bits and pieces to first of all cut out, then to sew and assemble. Luckily my sister had already started a book for Teddy so she sent me what she had already done, so a couple of pages were basically finished, which was great!

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I used the same dimensions as with the first book – partly because I already had the template cut out and partly because all of the images for inspiration I found on Pinterest would fit nicely into this format.

My nephew LOVES trains. Like really loves them! So I had to include a page with trains on. I tried to think of a way to make it more educational, but I went for just making carriages in different colours which can be taken off and rearranged – not every page has to be educational, it’s also to keep the kid quiet when you need to get on with something else! ๐Ÿ™‚

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I cut out 2 of each colour of train and a million little white rectangles for the windows. I sewed the windows on one of each colour and the velcro on the other of each colour, then I sewed the 2 matching ones together, thus hiding the back of the stitching in between the 2 layers. This was very much like the spots I did for the ladybird on the other book, except I then sewed 2 black wheels onto each train, just sewing them on the top – I did it this way around so the wheels wouldn’t have the coloured stitching attached the 2 trains to each other going across the top. The black engine doesn’t come off and I sewed some strips of grey felt on as tracks.

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This shapes page is one my sister had already started – her shapes are better than the ones I made because they’re stuffed and therefore 3D, which is pretty cool. Also she sewed the shapes on the background to match the coloured shapes to, whereas I drew them on with a biro – in the interests of speed!

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My sister had made a pouch to keep the shapes in, then I sewed it onto a white background piece to match the sizes I was using. This is on the back of the shapes page.

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Phoebe had also made the weaving page, so all I had to do was to sew it onto the background piece of fabric – WIN!

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Teddy can already count to 20, but I only had enough beads for this page to go up to 15 unfortunately. There are various ideas for counting pages – like cupcakes with a different number of sprinkles on or cookies with a different number of chocolate chips on. But I went for the beads/ abacus version, and I think it works okay – this isn’t my favourite page, but it is hopefully functional and useful for him to practice his counting.

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This is one of my favourite pages – it’s a piggy bank!!

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I made a bunch of coins with 5, 10 or 15 on then the piggy has a slit in the top to put the coins into. I thought this could also be a help in practicing adding up.

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In the version I saw online they had attached a pencil case on the back, with a hole also cut into it on the side that is closest to the piggy, so the coins go straight into the pencil case. I did buy a pencil case for this purpose, but it was a bit too thick and stiff so I changed my mind and made a pouch, like the one the shapes are kept in (but with the zip near the bottom instead of down the middle). You have to make sure you cut the slit into both backing pieces – each page has 2 white rectangles, so the raw edges are all enclosed and it’s all neat and stronger.

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I really like this page too, and it was quite easy to make – not as many different pieces as some of the other pages. The hardest part was making something for the middle of the clock that would allow the hands to rotate to the right time. I used a pin in the end and folded it back on the back of the white fabric. I sewed a piece of felt into the top of the pin at the back to make sure it didn’t poke through the fabric and poke Teddy in the fingers. Obviously you’ll have to sew the clock face on first, then put the middle part through the 2 hands, then through the page.

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Under the petals around the edge are the minutes, so this page should help a child to learn to tell the time. I feel that the numbers are not my neatest work – I was already taking ages to finish the book so I drew them on with a sharpy, but I think they would look better embroidered on, if you have more time and aren’t in such a hurry as I was.

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I also make a Noughts and Crosses page. Teddy doesn’t totally understand how to play yet – even after he had won, he kept on sticking shapes down until the board was full ๐Ÿ™‚

I made the noughts and the crosses in the same way as the ladybird spots in the other book – cut 2 shapes for each finished shape (and one extra for the pouches), sew velcro on one, then attach the 2 shapes together. I then sewed down the board pieces.

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This weather page is another of my favourites, though the holding pouches for each weather could have been a little bigger to fit the weathers in more comfortably.

I like the temperature gauge – the orange arrow slides up and down a piece of string, so Teddy can decide how warm the day is, then add the weather icon that best fits the day.

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I saw a few different versions of this on Pinterest – some had an umbrella, a sun hat and other props, but I just went for the weather – lightening, snow, cloudy, sunny, partly sunny, rainbow, windy (which is really hard to depict pictorially!), and rainy. Again each one is made of 2 layers, with the velcro sewn on one and then the 2 sewn together – for the ones like snow, lightening and rain, I sewed the lightenings (and raindrops and snowflakes) between the 2 layers. The rainbow was pretty fiddly – I sewed each colour onto a white background.

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This is my 3rd favourite page and after all the clothes were cut out, it wasn’t too fiddly to assemble! This is another one my sister was going to make, but she hadn’t really started it – but she had bought the mini pegs, so I didn’t have to get those and she had made templates for the clothes and washing basket. I’m quite pleased with the washing machine – the door is 2 pieces of felt, with a circle of plastic wallet sandwiched in the middle, to make it look like a proper washing machine door. The rest of it is fairly self-explanatory.

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I like the fact that you can take washing out of the washing basket, put it in the washing machine, then hang it out to dry on the line. Funny how a boring adult chore can be made into a fun game for a kid!

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The last page in the book is one to help a kid learn to tie shoelaces. I can’t really take any credit for this as Phoebe has cut it all out, bought the shoe laces, and bought the eyelets. I did not like attaching these – it took forever, I think because the tools I had were for a slightly different size of eyelet, so I did mash a few. It also seemed to take more force than needed in the many youtube videos I watched to learn how to do it!

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They do look cute though, so I guess it was worth the effort in the end.

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I bound the book in the same way I explained in my post on my first Quiet Book but I think my measurements were a little off as the cover ended up a tiny bit too small to cover all of the pages, but I’m sure Teddy doesn’t mind – I hope he wouldn’t refuse to play with it because it’s not perfect!

So are you tempted to make a Quiet Book for any kiddies in your life? They are a lot of work, but it’s really quite satisfying when it all comes together. And Phoebe sent me a cute little video of Teddy playing with the book so it was definitely worth it when I saw how much he was enjoying playing with it ๐Ÿ™‚
 

 

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