Blogger Network #12 – Polka Dot Peter Pan Blouse

simple sew peter pan polka dot blouseTime for March’s Minerva Blogger Network post! In amongst all the wind, rain and snow that have graced the country recently we’ve also been getting a fair few sunny days here in the UK – Spring is definitely coming! In celebration of the Spring, this month’s project is a lightweight, warm-weather blouse – perfect for those first sightings of snowdrops.

The pattern I used for this project is the Simple Sew Peter Pan Collar Blouse. I’ve never used a Simple Sew pattern before but when I noticed that Minerva Crafts had started stocking them I thought it was about time I gave one a try. The pattern itself is printed on sturdy paper (rather like Tilly’s patterns) making it very easy to cut out and work with – which is great for beginners or people who really do want a ‘Simple Sew’.

The blouse is simply made up of a front panel, two back panels and the Peter Pan collar. I do love a good collar, they make even the most basic of outfits look a bit more dressed up. If you’ve never sewn a collar before then you’ll have to trust me on this one, but they really are quite easy to make! Each side of the collar is made up of two pieces of fabric with interfacing in between which you just baste onto the neckline and then, when you attach the bias binding, a finished collar magically appears! It really is a ‘wow, I did that!’ moment.

simple sew peter pan blouse

The fabric I used for my blouse is a black and white polka dot cotton poplin. It’s very soft (and lightweight) making it an ideal choice for a project like this. It’s also very easy to sew with and doesn’t cost the earth! I only used about 1 metre of it for this blouse and then used a very small piece of leftover black cotton for the contrasting collar, plus some white bias binding for the armholes and black binding for the neckline.

simple sew paternThe back of the blouse also features a row of 5 buttons (I used these polka dot buttons). This is perhaps the only part of the project that needs quite a bit of skill! Button holes seem to be a struggle for all seamstresses, but I used my machine and got there in the end. Remember to make your button holes big enough so that your button can fit through it – there’s my tip for that!

What do you think of it overall? I like to wear it tucked into a skirt but I’m sure it’d look just as smart worn on top of a pair of black skinny jeans. Let’s just hope the sunshine sticks around so I can wear it more often!

Stylish Home Sewing – A Book Review!

stylish home sewingTorie Jayne’s Stylish Home Sewing‏ is a gorgeous new sewing book that’s just been released last week. I got sent a copy by the publisher (lucky me!) to review and, to be honest, I’d never actually heard of Torie Jayne before… however, I did a bit of detective work and came across the Torie Jayne website and realised that this book was definitely worth getting my hands on! Here’s the official press release description of the book:

The book features over 35 projects for you to make, to bring some of Torie Jayne’s style to your home. Each chapter is centred on a space in your home. The entrance hall chapter includes useful storage projects, such as square storage boxes made from fabric plus fabric and oilcloth bags. The kitchen chapter includes table linen, a bread basket and utensil holder, while the bedroom chapter features a padded headboard, make-up bag and eye mask. The garden chapter showcases practical projects such as a garden kneeler with carry-handles and a polka-dot tool belt, as well as decorative bench cushions, a child’s play tent and bunting. Each project is in fresh, appealing colours, and reflects Torie’s sewing expertise, as well as her eye for patterns. Beautiful step-by-step artworks and clear instructions make each project easy to complete.

torie jayne stylish sewing 1

torie jayne home sewing 2

I took a few photos of my favourite projects from the book – what do you think? The little peg basket is so adorable and I love the weaved fabric cushion and that fantastic teepee! Can you imagine having one of those for summer?! This book is perfect for gift inspiration – I’ve already noted down a few of the projects that I’d like to make as wedding gifts, birthday presents and in preparation for Christmas. Look at the felt rose garland (below) too – isn’t it great?

rose garland

The instructions in the book are written out in illustrated/written steps like most other craft/sewing books – I actually thought that the layout was very similar to the Liberty Book of Simple Sewing that I got a little while ago. The templates for the projects are printed at the back of the book but you do have to photocopy and enlarge some of them (as with the Liberty book) which does infuriate me a bit! Mainly because I don’t know how to do that…

felt rose broochI’ve not had the time to start on any of the larger projects out the book yet but I did make a little felt rose brooch the other evening – all you need to do is cut out the flower templates in felt and then artfully twist and stitch them into place. Simple but effective, don’t you think?

Overall, the Torie Jayne Stylish Home Sewing book is definitely one I would’ve picked up had I not been offered a copy. The projects in it are all so adorable and 90% of them are things you’d actually want to make – unlike some other books out there! I can definitely see myself ordering some broderie-anglaise trim and turquoise felt in the near future….

DIY Hexie Patchwork Clock

hexie patchwork clock diyThere’s something about hexagonal patchwork that just looks so beautiful, isn’t there? I’m always being inspired by the hexie projects I see online (take Lucie’s hexie glasses case, Sairer’s patchwork cushion and even my own hexie patchwork knitting bag) so, for my friend’s birthday this month, I chose to put my inspiration to good use and made her this fantastic hexie patchwork clock!

The idea for the clock came from Owen’s Olivia’s blog here but it’s easy enough to freestyle – I downloaded a hexagon template from the internet (these ones are about 3cm big but you can pick whatever scale you want) and then cut out 61 of them from a sheet of paper. Once you’ve done that, you use each hexagon as a template to cut out a piece of fabric – make each fabric hexie about 1cm bigger than the template all the way around. Next, fold the fabric around the paper template and baste it in place.

Making hexie patchwork is quite time consuming as it’s all done by hand, so it requires a fair bit of patience. It’s a great little project to do whilst sitting in front of the TV on an evening though! I found the repetitive motions of cutting and basting quite therapeutic. Once you’ve got all your hexagons done, it’s then time to sew them together – I started at the bottom corner and just built up from there. Remember to use tiny stitches very close to the edge so that they don’t show through too much on the other side!

diy hexie patchwork clock

I embroidered the numbers 12, 3, 6 and 9 around the edges of my patchwork clock face and then carefully attached the whole thing to a piece of thick cardboard that I’d cut to the same shape- double sided tape does the job just fine. And then came the hardest part of all – attaching the clock mechanism! You can get hold of these very easily on the internet (mine was just a few pounds from eBay) but they do require a fair bit of bashing and crying… you poke a hole through the centre of the clock and then push the handles onto the base very hard until they click and sit squarely on your clock. Next, simply pop in a battery and you’re away! Well, I wish it was that easy – my husband had to give me a bit of help because I was about to throw a tantrum, but it’s ok, we fixed it in the end ;)

What do you think? Have you ever tried hexie patchwork before?

I Have A New Blog Design! & Mystery Giveaway!

SSTake a look around! What do you think? Do these new colours make me look good? :) I’ve been wanting a redesign for ages – something to bring my blog from the depths of 2010 where it began right into the modern day of 2015. So do you like it?

I’d like to dedicate this post to my awesome designer-friend Sophie who created my new logo, background, social media icons and everything else fancy you see around here. Sophie’s a brilliant illustrator – you can find out lots more on her Pinterest, in her Etsy shop, Society 6 and Twitter  – and I highly recommend that you get in touch should you want alice in wonderland printyour own logos, prints, cards, cushions or anything else creating! She actually made us this great Alice in Wonderland typography print for our wedding, too :)

In celebration of my super new look I thought I’d host a little mystery giveaway for all of you lovely readers as I really do appreciate the time you take to read what I write and leave such lovely comments! I’ve put together a mystery sewing bundle filled with bits and pieces to add to your stash – you never know, there might be patterns, fabric, buttons or sweets! To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post - I’ll pop your names into a hat on Valentine’s Day (2015) and draw one lucky winner then. Good luck!

Note: this competition is now closed! Thank you so much for all of your entries. The winner, chosen at random, is Hayley who has been contacted for her prize. Well done!

Blogger Network #11 – Valentine’s Day Pompom Heart Bouquet

heart pompom bouquetSo, here comes February, and time for a Valentine’s themed Minerva Crafts project! With Valentine’s Day being just a fortnight away I thought I’d use this month’s post to my advantage. However, now that I have an actual husband, I can’t help but think that this V-Day nonsense is perhaps a bit redundant.. so, rather than make something super smushy and lovey dovey, I’ve gone for a more subtle approach to a Valentine’s craft… a pompom bouquet!

Ever since Kirstie used a pompom maker on her TV show last year I’ve been longing to give one a try. Personally, I see no problem with the good old circular card method, but I’ve seen so many blogs about them that I felt a little bit left out – but not any more! I may be a bit late to the pompom party but I’ve definitely arrived – in pompom bouquetthe form of a heart-shaped pompom maker. Perfect for a Valentine’s craft!

I chose to make my heart pompoms in a variety of blue yarns – it matches our bedroom just marvellously and is a bit more ‘manly’ (if pompom hearts can ever be called manly!) for my husband. To make them, you simply wrap your yarn around the arms of the pompom maker, close it up, tie another piece of yarn tightly around the middle, cut all the way around the edges and then pull really, really tightly to seal the deal. This sounds like the easiest thing ever but, believe me, you have to go careful otherwise you can get a bit over-excited and end up with tiny bits of cut-up yarn all over the carpet…

heart pompom maker

Anyway, once I’d made a good handful in various shades of blue, grey and cream (I think there’s a topical 50 Shades of Grey/Valentine’s day reference in there somewhere), it was time to make them into a bouquet. To do this I got hold of some wooden skewers and simply poked one into the middle of each pompom. Easy! I also cut some of the skewers to different lengths to give the bouquet a bit of varying height and then popped them into a glass vase on my windowsill.

This is such an easy Valentine’s day craft – great for both kids and grown ups – and I’m sure you could make just the same for Mother’s Day too. Give it a try! <3

Long Sleeve Tilly & the Buttons Coco Top

tilly and the buttons coco topSoooo this is Coco number, what, 5? I can’t believe how much this pattern has featured on my blog over the past few months – it really is such a versatile pattern and sews up in next to no time at all. Plus, it’s perfect for knit fabrics, making it ideal for the cold weather!

Since I’ve already made an Aztec Coco dress, a Christmas Coco dress, a Super Cosy Coco dress and a Striped Coco dress, I thought it was about time I made the top variant – this time with long sleeves, cuffs and roll-down neck. My fabric came from Minerva Crafts and is a navy blue and white double jersey – I think I got it in the sale on their website so they don’t seem to have it in stock any more, but any of the double jersey fabrics they have are perfect for this project (I actually have my eye on this red, white and blue check print!)

tilly and the buttons coco top

Again, I had no problems sewing with this pattern – I’m so familiar with it now I don’t even need the instructions for most of it! If you’re fairly new to sewing then it’s a brilliant ‘my first dressmaking’ project. Don’t be put off by making the collar or cuffs either as they’re surprisingly easy! Going on the picture on the envelope I was expecting a bit of a challenge, but they’re an absolute doddle – probably thanks to Tilly’s very clear and concise instructions. Go on, give it a go if you haven’t already :)

PS – the heart wreath on the door behind me was a wedding gift, handmade by my beautiful friend Marianna <3

Knitted Bow Bunting

knitted bow bunting diyJust a quick knitting project for you today! And also a knitting project that uses up all those scraps of yarn you have lying around from other projects. Yeah, you know the ones. This week I made some bunting out of knitted bows – isn’t it lovely? It looks great hung up in our bedroom – especially since we’ve recently had to sadly pack away all the Christmas-themed garlands…

I found the knitting pattern for the bows over at Wake and Whimsy and they’re super easy to make. Each bow takes about 5-10 minutes from start to finish, especially if you use chunky yarnlike I did for mine. All you need to do is:

  • Cast on 14 stitches (I used 5mm needles).
  • Knit a few rows in garter stitch until you have your desired width (about 8 is enough).
  • Cast off knit-wise.
  • Wrap a length of yarn a few times around the middle of the rectangle you’ve just knitted to create a bow and knot the ends in place.
  • Attach the bows onto a long length of yarn or ribbon and ta-dah!

knitted bow garland

I bet this is easily something you could knock up this weekend, too :) show me if you do!