Thursday, March 26, 2015

Scandinavian Heart Decoration Tutorial

Not sure why, but I love, love, love Nordic decor. I come from the southernmost tip of Africa. It's a hot spot. Our temperatures can get above 40'C. South Africa the polar opposite to Scandinavia.
Heart decoration

The Scandinavians make hearts from fabric to decorate their Christmas trees. But these hearts also seem to fit in with country decor and I've seen them on door handles or keys.

I made a basic template for my heart using two glasses. See how in the picture. The template may look big but remember that you will be sewing a seam around the outside which will shrink it substantially. Traditionally these hearts are made from a plain red or white fabric. However gingham and a sweet floral print will look good. I used Shweshwe fabric for an African take on this.

You can recycle fabric off-cuts to create stuffing but stick to white or light colours as darker colours may show through. also cut off-cuts as finely as you can or the stuffing will be lumpy. I used left over ceiling insulation. It's similar in texture to batting used in quilting.

You need: -
a pattern - use a glass, A4 sheet of paper, pencil and a ruler
matching coloured thread
hand sewing needle
sewing machine

You do: -
First make your pattern as per the picture using a glass, paper, pencil and a ruler.
Make your pattern

Pin your pattern to your fabric and cut out your hearts.
Pin pattern to fabric

Cut a piece of ribbon about 15 centimetres long and slip it into your heart as per the picture.
Cut out heart from fabric
Place fabric right sides facing and slip ribbon between heart pieces

Place them right sides facing inward or facing toward each other and pin around the edges.
Sew around edge leaving open a space. trim away excess fabric

Sew around the edges leaving a space to turn the heart inside out.

Trim away the surplus fabric.
Turn inside out and fill with stuffing

Place the stuffing inside the heart.
Hand sew closed

Hand sew the opening closed.

Voila! A heart for your door handle, cupboard door, keys or a Christmas decoration.

Find heaps more ideas in the Greenie Galleries if you scroll back to the beginning.

See you next week.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Easy Shrug + FREE Sewing Pattern

How to sew a shrug

I have a big fat list going on in my head of things I want to make. As I've said before, there are things I am never going to make. Shoes and hats. Nada. But some things are so super easy that I can't NOT make them. Shrugs are bang on trend. They lend themselves to a light summer cover but I've seen heavier woolen winter ones too. It's an alternative to a kimono jacket and even easier to make. The trick is to get the proportions right.
I saw one in a shop and went straight to the fitting room to try it on. I measured it along my body so I could get a sense of the proportions. Came home, measured against my body and wrote the dimensions down on a piece of paper. And promptly threw the paper away without thinking. Duh!
Pin and sew sides leaving space for arms
So I tried to cut it from my head - which was a flop. If I have learned anything about sewing. The proportions have to be right. And fabric choice is EVERYTHING.

My top 10 sewing tips are - here. I got carried away and dished out 10 more tips which you can find - on this link.
Make a hem around the arms
A polycotton, cotton knit or soft drape light weight fabric will work for this top. But a warm jersey should also work well for cooler weather. I'm a size medium or UK dress size 10. This is a loose top so likely fit a few sizes either way.

You need: -
matching colour thread
sewing scissors
sewing pins
Hem around arms and press with an iron
You do: -
Cut the shrug from your fabric using the dimensions from the pattern above. Or make a pattern first and cut from the pattern. I allowed a generous 2 centimetres seam and hem allowance which is included in the above dimensions.
Pin darts and fit shrug to check the fit
Pin the sides leaving open about 17 centimetres on each side for your arms to fit through. Sew and press with an iron.
Press darts
The darts are to create a slight curve on the shoulders. They are not necessary and can be omitted. I placed two darts - one on each side of the centre point of the shrug. My darts are about 8 centimetres long and just over 1 centimetre wide when folded over. You can make your darts wider to create more of a curve. Or add more darts. My suggestion is to pin them first, fit the shrug and see how it fits and then sew them. You always sew darts from the widest part to the narrowest.
Make ties
You can finish by making a hem around the outside - or - and this is another optional bit - you can make ties. Since this is a loose garment I felt it needed ties to hold it closed in front. Cut two long thin strips - about 50 centimetres long and 4 centimetres wide. Fold the strips in half lengthways and press with an iron. Fold the outer bits in like you are making bias binding and press again. Sew flat.
Pin ties in place
Fit your shrug and pin the ties around the bust area. Sew them in place.
Hem the outside of your shrug
Now fold over the outer area and sew a hem. Finish by pressing with an iron. And just like that you have a shrug.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

DIY Bright Coloured Fabric Bag

Fabric Bag FREE sewing pattern and tutorial

This bag does heavy rotation in my life. I've got at least a dozen of them. They are large and roomy so I can pack them full. But they are light so you are not carrying the weight of the bag as well as the contents. And it's washable. What's not to like?

Fabric bag
I've made them in plain colours and funky Stella Jean type prints like this one. Don't you LOVE her designs? She is one of the most exciting designers in quite a while. 

The pattern and sewing instructions are in this post - Slouchy Tote Bag FREE sewing pattern and tutorial. But I show the steps again in this post.

First you need to make a pattern. See below for the pattern dimensions. I use local community newspapers that are routinely dropped in our mail box whether we want them or not. But be aware that the ink can transfer to your cloth.

Bag pattern

You need: -
matching colour thread
sewing machine

You do: -
First cut your two matching bag pieces from your fabric. It doesn't look like they will fit together at first but I promise they do.

Cut two matching pattern pieces
Sew halfway along sides starting at the same end as the notches.
Sew half way along from the same end as the notches
Now fold over so the seams lie on top of each other and notches are at each end and not on top of each other in the middle.
Fold over so seams lie on top of each other. Sew from notch to notch
Sew across bottom from one notch to the other.
This is the notch
Fold notch flat and sew across it.
Fold notch flat and sew. Zig-zag if fabric will unravel
You may have to over-lock or zig-zag the seams if your fabric is inclined to fray.
Sew two loose ends together

Now sew two loose ends together which form the top of the bag that fits over your shoulder.

Loose ends sewn together and edges folded over and ironed flat
Fold over and iron edges so they sit flat.

Hem around edges
Make a hem around the edges.
Fold top in half and sew ends together. Fold in half and repeat

Fold top in half and sew the ends together.

Fold in half again. What you are doing is gathering up the voluminous fabric to make it much narrower and create a shoulder strap.

You can see two more versions of this great bag - Grungy tie dye green and Jade green.

Visit the Greenie Galleries at the beginning of this page for lots more FREE sewing patterns and DIY fashion ideas.

See you next week.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

DIY Tassel Key Charm

How to make a key charm

Each time I set foot into the shops and find myself drawn to gorgeous stuff that I desperately want to have that very moment, I have to remind myself that - no I can't buy it. I must first try and DIY it.
Tassel key charm

Sure, there are plenty things I can't actually make. Well I probably could - but I'm not going to try. Boots, hats, watches, fine jewellery and a tailored jacket or pair of jeans spring to mind. But it's possible - and even dead easy - to make a LOT of stuff. The last few seasons have seen loose, light shapes which are super easy to make.

Making your own fashionable items is a big fat green choice. You know YOU made it and not a child in a sweat shop. And it's fun. And better still - you make your clothes and accessories exactly how you would like them. Longer or shorter. Tighter or looser. All in black or made in a vivid lime green. If you prefer florals to stripes or spots, then you make your clothing in florals.

I make a point of trying to re-use or up-cycle first. Check out the Greenie Galleries at the top of this page to see for example - Bracelets made from electric cable and left-over wire. Earrings from food packaging. Jackets from left-over tapestry fabric and even tops from old curtains.

Two great books that spell out the harsh truth of fast fashion are - Over Dressed by Elizabeth L Cline - and - To Die For by Lucy Siegle. Life changing reads.

On to this weeks DIY. I've been wanting to make a tassel key charm. As per usual, it's easy peasy.

You need: -
embroidery thread
business card
2 x O Rings

You do: -
Bend a small loop at the end of your wire so your beads don't fall off. Size not an issue. You decide what looks best.
You need, beads, pliers, embroidery thread, business card, glue and O Rings

It's important to bend any kinks out your wire so your beads can slide on easily. Now add beads to wire. You're looking for something a bit more fun than ho hum beads. Swirly perspex or acetate look good. Tin or metal beads are also nice. Semi precious stones have all sorts of wonderful qualities so maybe think about using them?
Make a loop at end of wire and load beads

Now to make your tassel. Wind your embroidery thread around the narrow side of a business card. The more you wind the fatter your tassel with be. Open an O ring with your pliers and slip it through your tassel. Close it and pull it to the top of the card.
Wind thread around business card then add O Ring to make tassel

Slide thread off business card and immediately tie tightly around top end of thread. Knot well and add a spot of glue to make sure knot is secure.
Tie at top end of tassel tightly. Add a spot of glue to knot

Add tassel to one end of your charm. Add an O ring to the other end of your charm.

More next week. Until then, have a great green week.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Easy Kimono Jacket Tutorial + FREE Sewing Pattern

FREE kimono sewing pattern

My mother made a kimono jacket for me in December. Find that version and the FREE sewing pattern on this link - kimono sewing pattern. She gave me a few lovely pieces of fabric. I was keen to make another kimono jacket with the same pattern.
Kimono jacket

Two things I did different this time were -
  • take a bigger seam allowance which makes it less voluminous
  • make the sleeves shorter

I think I might prefer this to the other version. But that's the great thing about making your own clothes. You make them as YOU want them, not how the stores stock them. I can always take the other jacket in if I want it to fit a bit snugger like this one.

The steps to making this kimono are exactly the same. I took pics so you can see the process again.
Make pattern
First you need to make your pattern
Cut back
Cut the back.
Cut front

Cut the front. You can see I allowed extra fabric at the front opening for the diagonal piece (See left in above photo)
Sew top and sides together

Sew top and sides together.
Fold over fabric and make a narrow hem

Fold over and make a small hem all around the jacket and sleeves.
Fold over and sew again to conceal raw edges

Fold over again so raw edges are enclosed and make another small hem.
The hem at the neck may have to be narrower to prevent puckering

Your hem at the neckline might have to be narrower to prevent puckering.

And that's a fun new kimono in the bag!

See another version of this same pattern - on this link.

For more FREE sewing patterns and heaps more ideas to DIY instead of buying visit the Greenie Galleries at the head of this page.

More from me right here next week.