Monday, 2 November 2015

Fabric Giveaway!!

Izabela Peters is a traditional British homewares company with a passion for textile design.   They have recently decided to make their beautiful fabric designs available to buy in fat quarters so you can make your own creations with them. 

Their fabrics are available in affordable themed fat quarters bundles in 2 different fabric types – a silky soft 100% cotton fabric, and a more structured medium weight linen union material. 

A few of their beautiful bundles are pictured below.  Izabela Peters are giving 2 lucky winners the fabric bundle of their choice. 

Izabela Peters Fabrics - designed and printed in the UK

To Enter

Pop over to the Izabela Peters website and have a look at their fat quarter bundles and comment below to tell me which bundle you’d like to win.  Please also let me know if you would prefer the 100% cotton fabric or the Linen Union, if you don’t specify a preference the 100% cotton will be sent.
Don’t forget to leave a way for me to contact you – an e-mail, Twitter account, link to a contact form on your site etc.  Two winners will be chosen at random and will receive their choice of fabric bundle.

Terms & Conditions

One entry per person, multiple entries will result in disqualification. Please leave a method of contact so we can get your address, we will have to draw another winner if we cannot contact the original winner.  Winners will be chosen using  The prizes can be shipped to an address in the UK or Ireland.  All entries must be received by 6pm on the 10th of November 2015.  

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Why I don't sew for money

Like many of you I sew as a hobby, although I run a sewing related business I don't offer sewing services.  However, there are a lot of people out there who think that because I sew for myself, or make things as gifts that I would be happy to sew for money and make things for them.

One of my recent finishes, my Tula Pink City Sampler quilt

In the beginning it was friends who needed 'little jobs' doing, trousers taken in, straps adjusted, skirt shortened etc.  In their eyes it was a quick and simple job so surely I'd do it for them.

Then as I share more photos of what I've made for myself on social media the bigger requests started coming through.  One job I was asked to do was to sew a bespoke large bag for sports equipment requiring several metres of fabric plus zips, strap, buckles etc the costs would be over £50 before I even picked up a needle. Then I'd have to draft it (I'm not a pattern drafter) and then I'd have to spend several hours making it.  Even if I only charged costs and my time at a basic hourly rate it would be well over £100 and they would think I was ripping them off.  Also the person who asked was an acquaintance that I barely knew and had only spoken to a few times.

Bag I've made recently for a swap

Another person spotted somethings I'd made on social media and asked me to make the same for them. I ended up saying yes, because to be honest I wasn't too sure how to say no without sounding rude.  They were fairly simple items, just a couple hours to make and under £10 of supplies.  The first time I just gave it as a gift, then a few weeks later they asked again so I just charged the cost of the fabric because I felt uncomfortable charging a friend, and the true cost would have been much higher than they expected.  However I didn't want to get into the routine of making things for free on demand either which is why I charged for materials.  I'm not a dressmaker so I don't get my fabric and habby wholesale, when you are paying full retail price for supplies it makes the finished item expensive.

Handbag I made a couple months ago

As soon as I said yes to making the smaller items a strange thing happened... Despite having enjoyed making them for myself I really didn't want to make them.  I kept putting them off and making tons of other things but not the ones they wanted.  The minute someone wants me to make it for them it becomes a chore and then I no longer want to do it.  Sewing to me is fun and relaxing, I can make whatever I want whenever I want.  When I feel that I have to make something it losses all the fun aspects and just becomes another job that I have to do.  It's 4-5 hours of my time that I wanted to spend doing something I wanted, not something I felt like I had to do.

I've been hooked on making these owls lately

The other thing is when you are making for someone else, especially if they have offered to pay, you have to sew to a high standard.  If they are paying for it they expect perfection just as if they bought it in the shop.  My sewing isn't bad but it's in no way perfect and quite often I'll do things the quick and easy way which may not be the neatest, but I'm happy with the finished item so that's all that matters when sewing for myself.

Visible stitches when closing a hole

For example the picture above shows the bottom of one of the owls shown in the picture before.  These are the fabulous Owl You Need Sewing Buddies - free pattern on Craftsy by Shanni Loves.  

If I was making these to sell I would use an invisible ladder stitch to make sure the closure isn't at all visible.  However I'd not great at this stitch and given that the owl sits on it's bottom you don't see the stitching so I do the stitch above to close the gap quickly.   So If I was to make this in exchange for payment I'd have to change the way I sew it.

Owl with top of his wing sticking out

Plus if one of them didn't turn out perfect, just like the owl above who has the top of his wing poking out I'd either have to unpick and do it again or I'd have to remake it.  

Sewing for money, or even just for someone else at no charge makes the sewing process much more stressful for me.  Apart from the fact that I feel like I have to do it within a certain timescale, I feel like I have to do it perfectly, adding to the pressure.

Don't get me wrong I'm happy to sew for friends and family as gifts, for a special occasion, because I want to sew it for them.  But it's being asked to do it when I had no intention of doing so before that point that I find stressful. 

So the next time someone asks me to sew something for them, paid or not I'll be referring them to this blog post!

What about you, are you happy to sew things on demand for friends, family, random acquaintance?

Monday, 14 September 2015

Sew busy!

I hope you all had a great summer, I've been busy sewing lots over the last few weeks.  One of my first projects was to make a new purse, using this fab tutorial from Emily Levey.  I used a bundle of metallic prints from Dear Stella which I got for Christmas.  Unfortunately I realised after that it probably wasn't the best choice, the metallic print starts to wear off after lots of handling which for a purse which will be handled daily is not ideal. But it does look good.

I have to admit I made this purse twice.  The first time I followed the exact pattern but then I struggled when it came to adding the metal snaps. I didn't have a pair of pliers to attach them and couldn't get them through all the layers of fabric without. I then had 2 holes left in the fabric which looked awful when I tried to cover them so I gave up and started again.

I decided to re-make it using magnetic snaps, I added a tab to put one of the snaps on and put the other on the back of the card pocket. I also added a loop for my keys too.  Luckily I was recently sent one of the new Sewing Journals from Sew Crafty Sewing Centre (they are fab, check them out!) so I made a note of the changes I made so I can repeat it again in the future.  Handmade purses all the way from now on!

Next up was a tote bag I made for the Easy Swap on Instagram.  I made an applique tree on one side, and a tree print fabric on the other side.  However when I made it I loved it so much I knew it'd be hard to give away.  So I made myself one too (pictured below).  I didn't do the applique again as that took ages.

My son has been doing well out of my sewing too, I made him Lego curtains to go around the den under his bed.  The curtains that came with the bed were a couple inches too long and that meant we kept standing on them and they ripped.  So I made these ones a couple inches off the floor so that won't happen again.

The fabric was some vintage Lego fabric a friend was selling off because it was a little sun bleached but you can only tell if you look up close.  My son hasn't noticed at all. For £10 I got enough to make 3 curtains to cover 2 sides of the bed (the rest is against the wall). Bargain!

I also had some pirate themed quilt panels that I made a couple years ago intending to make my son a quilt.  I never got around to finishing it and when I bought him a quilt from Lynne at Lily's Quilts he didn't want another because he loves hers so much.  I rather than let them go to waste I had the idea of turning them into a toy storage bag, with a few internal pockets for toys too.  He has tons of toy animals so this will keep some of them tidy at least.

Last and not least I made myself a quilted mat for my sewing machine.  Sometimes when I'm sewing at high speed the sewing machine rattles on the table top so hopefully the mat will reduce the rattle.

So plenty of sewing done this summer, I've cleared a few of my WIPS and a couple of things off my to sew list.  Hopefully I'll manage several more over the next few months.

What have you been sewing this summer, do feel free to post links to pictures or blog posts below so I can take a look.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

1 hour Baskets

I've still been busy working on my Tula Pink Sampler Quilt (It's now ready to quilt) but I need a break from it and wanted something quick and easy to do.   I'd seen lots of people on Instgram making the 1 hour basket so I decided to give it ago and see what all the fuss is about.

It's a free pattern which you can download from Craftsy create by Hearts and Bees (you need to sign up but it doesn't cost anything).  It's a large storage basket made from 2-3 fat quarters.  The first one I made is pictured below, unfortunately as I was cutting the fabric I realised the map fabric for my outer was not quite a full fat quarter so I had to add another fabric in too.

As you can see it fits a ton of fabric in, ideal size for fat quarters.  I used quilting cotton with my first basket (the project recommends home decor weight) and fusible fleece to give it body as suggested in the pattern.  It turned out pretty floppy and struggled to stand up alone when empty.

I had recently been sent some beautiful home decor weight fabrics from Izabela Peters, a UK company who print their own fabrics, so I decided to try them for the next basket.  They were much thicker, I used their fabrics for both the outside and the lining, and used the fusible fleece too.  The basket had more form to it but still wasn't as structured as I wanted, I wanted something that would stand up alone when empty.

Although I filled both these baskets up with fabric and am using them I wanted to have  another go at getting a firmer basket.  I rummaged through my stash and found some super firm sew in interfacing (almost like a sheet of card).  My concern was that it was so thick I wasn't going to be able to turn the basket through at the end, so I left a larger hole at the bottom of the lining (about 6-7 inches) and luckily it turned through ok.  The result was a much firmer basket which stood up perfectly when empty. Once my husband and son spotted the baskets they wanted some too so pictured below are my final 4 that I made using the very firm interfacing.

As they discovered the baskets are not only the perfect size for fat quarters but also for dvds and Xbox games.  I've already had a request from my husband for a few more so I suspect there will be many more in my future!

Have you tried the one hour basket yet?  How did you get on with it?

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