Monday, 30 December 2013

Crafty Christmas Gift Making - Part II

Dolly for my 2½ year old Niece  Neck Pillow for Grandma
LEFT: Doll for my Niece,                              and RIGHT: Neck Pillow for my Grandma

Further to my last post, I managed to squeeze in some more Christmas gift making last week.

Using a second-hand sewing machine I'd purchased back in summer on eBay (which is now permanently housed at my non-sewing Mother-in-Law's house) I was able to knock-up a quick Neck Pillow for my lovely 98 year old Grandma.

The pattern is FREE from Neck Pillow 12/2010 #143

The PDF instructions ask you to draft and draw the pattern yourself following a smaller-scale diagram they provide onto a 5 x 5 cm grid of squares. So... being short on time I totally cheated (LOL!); instead I grabbed a screen-shot  of the grid and pasted it into my 'CorelDRAW X3' software, and then I enlarged it to the correct size and I printed the pattern out over 2-A4 sheets of paper = 5mins work and job done!

It took me around 40mins to make (I omitted to add the piping - saving much time) including time to stuff with the innards of an el-cheapo *pillow I'd bought a few years ago at Tesco (*originally destined to be the stuffing in a Duct-Tape-Dummy which I never got around to making haha!).

I also found time to finish-off the Dolly, plus sew a cute dress + knickers for said doll for my 2½ year old Niece (I've been a v. bad Auntie as Dolly had been sitting in a bag sans coiffure since I first started the project as a 1st birthday pressie - eekk, better late than never I guess!).
Wee Wonderfuls - the Kit, Chloe & Louise Pattern
The pattern I used for the dolls is by Wee Wonderfuls - called the Kit, Chloe & Louise Pattern. The PDF includes full details to make the dolls, clothing and hair.

I bought the wool for the dolls hair back in July 2012 from Ridley Road Market. And, because I was pressed for time and I couldn't for the life of me find the original PDF instructions... I used these great tutorials I found to make the "hair" for the dolly: Waldorf Doll Hair Tutorial and Waldorf doll hair: centre back seam clarified by Meike of Crafty Sheep blog

To make the dress I drafted a pattern using paper wrapped/draped around the doll - following the approximate pattern-shapes found in The Itty Bitty Baby Dress Pattern by Made-by-Rae. And, now I have the pattern pieces I can make more dresses easily in the future! The dress is fully-lined, plus I made dolly some jersey-knickers too (so she's properly attired LOL!).

For the doll's face I embroidered the eyebrows in black thread, and the mouth in red. I used some Dylon pens to create the eyes (pressing them on a hot setting to fix-them).

To view more photos of the doll's construction see this Flickr slide-show below :) :

The 3 Boy's Ties I'd made for Hubby's 9 year old Nephew went down very well. He wore the green-one all day on Boxing day (photographic evidence below - although the happy grin on his face might have more to do with playing all-day on an iPad hehe!).

Boy's Ties - Christmas 2013

And Mum-in-Law and Dad-in-Law loved their Tablet-Pillows too.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Crafty Christmas Gift Making - Part I

UPDATE: Please also see also Crafty Christmas Gift Making - Part II :)

Like last year I've managed to squeeze in a couple of sewn-by-me gifts for family :) 
Boy's Ties - Christmas 2013
Neck-Ties made for Hubby's Nephew
Earlier this year Hubby's 9 year old nephew requested 2 ties (specifically in blue and green), but I couldn't resist adding a third one too in a cool black and white skull-print cotton. I'm sure it'll appeal to a young man very well ;)!

I also made some pillows/cushions for my parents-in-law. They're in 100% cotton and are so they can use them to rest their tablet's on - so your hands 'n' wrists don't get tired. They're great to pop onto your lap on the sofa. You could also use them as a stand for reading books in bed I'd bet and they'd work for iPads or other tablets too of course :) 

I also reckon if these were made in something wipe-able (PVC Oilcoth perhaps?) that they'd make a suitable gift for someone in hospital or a care-home... as they could then be wiped-down with a cloth + anti-bacterial/anti-viral cleaning liquids (as cotton would probably need to go into a washing machine too often to be manageable in hospital etc.)

Tablet Pillow - Christmas 2013
Tablet Cushions made for MIL & FIL
For the ties, I used this fab FREE pattern & tutorial The Totally Terrific Ties Tutorial  from Fishsticks Design Blog . The tie come in 3 different sizes by age-group (v. handy!). I used the 8-14 years old size.

The green and blue ties are made from some 'el cheapo polyester lining fabric (lined with some black lining-fabric I had already in my stash). They were super-slippery to work with. I was worried that they'd not have enough body and be too flimsy, so I interlined them with a single layer of Calico (Muslin) cotton. Lots of hand basting was used, and I also overlocked (serged) the long raw-edges of the fabric (as per page 4 of the tutorial) which helped greatly in managing the mega-fraying lining fabric LOL!

NECK-TIES: I made a couple of changes to the construction:-
I shortened the lining fabric-piece by 6mm in length (take out from the centre. Reason: So that the fashion-fabric would wrap a little around to the wrong/inside on the finished tie, therefore the lining would not "peek-out" onto the front.
(2) I added a horizontal loop to the inside-front of the tie (I used some cotton-tape for this, and Fray-Checked the raw edges so it wouldn't unravel in the wash). Reason: To tuck the end of the tie into - so it doesn't swing out and look unslightly when worn. 
(3) I shortened the stitch-length considerable when approaching/turning-around the "points" / "corners" to reinforce them when I turned the fabric right-side-out.
(4) I used 
I used my duck-billed applique scissors to trim and grade the seam allowances on the pointed-ends of the ties to reduce bulk before turning them right-side-out.

The black cotton fabric was way easier to work with - and now that I've gotten the hang of neck-ties Hubby wants one (in the skull print!).

For the iPad / Tablet cushions I made quite a few adaptations to this tutorial: iPad Rest or Stand Tutorial. (found on BettyCrockerAss by Jen Carlton Bailly). 

TABLET-CUSHIONS: Again I made my own tweaks:-
 The original tutorial gives you a cushion approx. 6½" wide. I'd previously made one following the instructions exactly and I felt that the size was a bit too small - so I changed it up to a 10" finished size.
(2) Also, I didn't like the original's way of finishing the raw-edges at the front. I felt that the "lip" effect looked a bit untidy so I changed it. On mine the front-edge is machine-stitched first before turning right-side-out.
(3) I stuffed my cushions with the old poly-stuffing innards from a recycled cushion - as the original asks you to use dry-rice. I didn't use rice because if it gets wet it'll get mouldy (it's a foodstuff afterall!)
(4) I used a cut-up scrap of ironing-board felt/padding to create the "stop"/"lip" stuffing at the front. (The tutorial uses dry-rice again.)

Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Great British Sewing Bee - Christmas Special 2013

Image Source: Love Productions

I've just spent a lovely and very enjoyable hour watching the 2013 The Great British Sewing Bee - Christmas Special and if you missed this programme perhaps you can catch the repeat on BBC 2 at 7pm on Tuesday 17th December 2013 (except for Scotland and Wales). Otherwise I'm sure some enterprising soul will upload it onto YouTube soon.

To quote the production company's website:
"The Great British Sewing Bee returns for a Christmas special. Judges, Savile Row's Patrick Grant and sewing teacher, May Martin are re-united with this year's semi-finalists: Stuart, Sandra, Lauren and 82-year old winner Ann.  Taking inspiration from traditional sewing bees of the past, they pool their experience and talents to make everything from Christmas table linen to presents to tree decorations.
Ann makes a beautiful teddy bear, Stuart fashions a tweed satchel, Sandra creates a gardening belt and Lauren crafts a fabric doll's house."
Image Source: BBC website
The Thrifty Stitcher blog has a great post with useful links and supplies relating to the Christmas special.

So, here's my letter to Father Christmas for this year... 

Dear Father Christmas, 

Please, please, please can we have more lovely
sewing programmes on the telly for next year
and many years to come.

Many thanks Clairex

Friday, 13 December 2013

PRIMA Pattern, December 2013 - Classic Little Black Dress

It's the final issue for this year, and the December 2013 PRIMA Magazine pattern is
still currently available to order by phone until the end of this month.

  PRIMA Magazine - December 2013 - Cover
For December '13, Prima Magazine are offering a classic dress - great for a LBD (Little Black Dress).

Prima Magazine - Pattern, December 2013 (01)

The simple semi-fitted shift dress with a V-neck and three quarter sleeves is a timeless classic. Dress it up or down for any number of occasions Sizes 10 - 20 (UK).

Prima Magazine - Pattern, December 2013 (02)

Prima Magazine - Pattern, December 2013 (03)

See my old post here on tips for ordering their patterns: PRIMA Magazine: How to Order Their Sewing Patterns.