Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Dressmaking on a Budget

With the cost of clothing in supermarkets and some stores so inexpensive these days, and the cost of fabric off the roll going up, it is sometimes difficult to find a reason to make your own clothes. A simple shift dress can often use three metres of fabric, so you can easily be talking well over thirty pounds before you get onto the other items like zips, buttons, interfacing and thread to match. It quickly adds up. 
Children's clothes can be the best place to start as long as you have a child willing to wear your lovingly crafted garment! After seeing it done on the Great British Sewing Bee a while ago, I thought I'd try shirring, which is actually a really easy way to make a dress or top- and it's pretty good fun too!
A dress uses about half a metre and there are some great tutorials out there. I followed the one on the Martha Stewart website which was very easy to follow. 
Another way to keep the costs down is to mix more expensive fabrics with cheaper ones. This gorgeous Michael Miller cotton jersey was about £8 per half metre. 
Combined with some plain cotton jersey fabric which was well under £5 per metre, I made two dresses for the girls:
And a top for myself:

And there's still a bit left over for headbands too!


I got this book recently and I have to say, I totally adore it. It's called 'Feminine Wardrobe' by Jinko Matsumoto. If you check it out on Amazon, all of the garments are shown in the 'look inside'. The layout of the book is a little different to most as the photos are at the front with the instructions at the back. The sizes are pretty small too- I'm classed as XL and I'm a size 12, but as all of the clothes aren't fitted and quite floaty, it wouldn't take much to size them up. 
I have made two things from this book already, but it is worth checking the width of the fabric stated. In several instances its 1.1m, so if, like me your fabric is 1.5m wide, you need less length. It obviously helps bring down costs if you're given the fabric, which in this instance I was:

And this top was make from some cheap chiffon from eBay:
eBay is of course a great source for cheap fabric, although you can be taking a gamble on quality. Also never forget the charity shops for old sheets and duvet covers, and the offcuts bin at the fabric store. 
Happy dressmaking!



Saturday, 6 July 2013

Leappad bag for girls

For her birthday, Willow entered the world of technology with a Leappad 2 but within the first couple of days, when we did manage to prise/bribe/threaten her away from it, it invariably got knocked onto the floor/sat on a few times, giving the husband cause for concern (to put it mildly!)
Ah ha! Time for another bag (any excuse). Willow is obsessive about putting things in bags. Most of the time this drives me mad because it can be things like school shoes or all of the hair bands in the house, but in this instance I can see it working in my favour. 
So, here we have the Leappad handbag, perfect for little girls and pretty simple to whip up too!

This is how I made it. 

1. Draw around the device, then construct your bag shape around it, allowing a bit of extra room and another  centimetre for seam allowance along the sides and bottom. 

Mine measured 23cm along the bottom,  25.5cm high and 27.5cm at its widest point. 
2. Cut your fabric pieces: 2 x outer fabric, 2 x lining, 2 x iron on interfacing, 2 x felt/wadding. 

Iron the interfacing into the outer fabric then baste the felt in place with a long running stitch around all edges and the handle. 
3. Sew outer pieces together, right sides facing along the sides and bottom, using a 1 cm seam allowance. 
4. Box the corners. Do this by pushing your fingers into the corner then pinch them together and match the side and bottom seams together. Turn the bag the right way around. 

Pin in place then sew a line across 1cm down from the point and trim off the excess. 
5. Make a couple of magnetic snap tabs. Cut two pieces of lining fabric that are 12cm x 6 cm and iron interfacing on the back. Fold in half then open out again and mark a central point 1cm up from the fold. 

Fit the snap, then fold the fabric back together and sew up either side. Turn it out and poke out the corners. Stitch across as close to the snap as your machine foot will allow. Sew onto the lining fabric at the bottom of the holes for the handles, pointing down. 
6. Sew the lining pieces together along the sides and bottom and box the corners again. 
7. Drop the lining into the main body of the bag so that the wrong sides are facing and pin together around the top and the handle hole, then stitch all around. 
8. Bias bind the top and handle. There are several different ways to do this. When I'm feeling neat and tidy I will open it out, match up the raw edges and machine sew around, then fold it over and slip stitch on the reverse. In this case I pinned it around the edges: 

and sewed it, then I folded it over and because it was wider on the reverse, I stitched in the ditch on the front side. 

catching the binding tape on the rear as I did so. 

And that's that. I hope those instructions made a vague amount of sense! 

Leappad housed safely inside along with headphones.