Wednesday 28 September 2011

From Dress to Bag...

I've signed up for Stashbusting September over at the T-Shirt Diaries. That means no buying sewing supplies for a whole month!!! No fabric shopping... eeeeekkkkk!!!

As well as using fabric from my stash, I decided to upcycle this gorgeous, little dress which no longer fits. Teamed with denim, I think it will make a great little bag. Here's how I did it.

Materials Used:
  • the dress above which is made from stretch material
  • denim offcuts from the bottom of some aprons
  • lining material from my stash
  • button, ric rac and ribbon from my stash

How To:

It was hard to make the first cut. If I made a mistake, I couldn't get the dress back. I took a deep breath and I was away.

  • Cut off the sleeves.
  • Trim below the sleeve line to create a nice line.
  • Cut off the bodice, leaving enough to sew a seam above the frill.

  • Sew denim to both the top of the dress and the bottom
  • Sew side seams.
  • Sew the bottom of the bag.
I know the seams are hidden, but I can't help myself. I have to neaten the edges.

  • Sewing from the outside topstitch all seams where the denim joins the stretch material.
  • Turn the seams towards the denim before topstitching.

At this point I decided the denim at the top was too wide and so I narrowed it. The outside of the bag is done, so now to the lining.

  • Sew the denim to the top of each piece of lining.
  • Topstitch
  • Sew front to back along the side seams.

  • Sew the bottom leaving a gap to turn the bag later.
That's the lining done, now to do the handle/strap. 
  • Cut three strips from each sleeve, making six strips in total. 
  • Pair the strips and join.
  • Cut off excess seam to avoid bulk.
  • Plait the strips.
  • Sew across each end to secure.
Because it's made from stretch material, the strap would be too stretchy, so I backed the plaited strap with a denim handle.
  • Cut a strip of denim.
  • Fold like bias.
  • Topstitch
The plait was too bulky to stitch to the denim. I suppose I could have hand stitched, but it looks and functions OK without. Now to put it all together.
  • Leave the lining right sides together.
  • The outside of the bag should have wrong sides together.
  • Attach the strap to the outside of the bag at the side seams.
  • The plaited side of the strap will be closest to the bag.
  • Place the lining over the outside of the bag, with the strap sandwiched between.
  • Line up the top edges and stitch.
It is VERY bulky sewing over the straps, but my machine handled it.

  • Turn the bag through the gap that is left in the lining.
  • Sew the gap closed.

  • Topstitch along the top of the bag.
  • Make a flower with left over scraps, plus some ric rac and ribbon.
  • Tie a few more scraps to keep the plait and the denim handle together.
There you have it; a dress made into a bag.

I am very pleased with the end result! To top it off, everything was from my stash, so the dollar cost was nothing.

During September, I've also made the following projects using only materials from my stash:

So, did I make it the whole month without buying any fabric? I won a $25 fabric voucher, but I only ordered online two days ago. By the time the fabric arrives from the other side of the world, it will be October. So I figure that doesn't count. However, I must own up, I did purchase fabric to make my Retro Pillow during September. My Retro Pillow, however, isn't counting towards my entry in Stashbusting September, so that should be OK, especially given the amount of fabric I've used from my stash.

I'm glad I signed up for Stashbusting September. It has most definitely made me use what I already have and has stopped me impulse buying fabric. I stopped myself ducking into fabric shops on several occasions. Quite an achievement for me!!!

Pop on over to the T-Shirt Diaries and have a look at the other entries.

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Sunday 25 September 2011

Retro Pillow Finished...

Machine quilting barely visible around flower centre and petals...

Yay!!! I've finished my Retro pillow.

When I signed up for the Retro Pillow Challenge, I had three aims:
  1. build up my sewing skills
  2. meet some new people
  3. have fun
Obvious machine quilting...

Our hosts for the challenge were Keren, from Sew La Vie! and Rikka, from Ricochet and Away! Pop on over to the Retro Pillow Challenge page to meet all the participants.

Machine quilting, machine embroidery, machine appliqué...

For the first time, I tried several new (to me) sewing techniques: hand appliqué, patchwork, machine embroidery and quilting. At the same time I improved my skills with techniques I had used before: machine  appliqué and hand stitching. I tried hand quilting, but with little success. That's a skill to learn on a new project. I love to learn new things and I certainly did that while making my pillow.

Hand stitching on two circles...

Most importantly, I had fun making my Flower Power pillow. I certainly achieved all three aims. To top it off, I'm very happy with how it turned out. Here's my finished pillow, in its new home; our guest room.

Previous Retro Pillow Challenge posts:

Pop on over to see all the pillows entered in the challenge...

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Retro Pillow Challenge_progress

Just a quick post with some pics of my pillow so far. Thanks to both Rikka from Ricochet and Away and to Keren from Sew La Vie for hosting the Retro Pillow Challenge. I'm having a lot of fun and am building up my skills.

Previous Retro Pillow Challenge posts:
  1. What's in a Name
  2. RPC

Cupcake Dress_Craft Book Month...

Craft Buds is hosting Craft Book Month, so I'm linking up the Cupcake Dress from "Make It Perfect".

I am so pleased I purchased Toni Coward's Make It Perfect book. Of the twenty one projects in the book, there are fifteen that I want to make. That makes it excellent value for money!!!

Cupcake Dress
I've finished the first of these fifteen projects; the Cupcake Dress. As Toni says in the introduction, this is one of the easiest dresses to make. Cut the bottom off a T-shirt, join three contrasting fabrics to make a skirt, gather, add a ribbon, attach to the T-shirt and the dress is finished.

This is the first of many Cupcake Dresses I will be making. As well as looking great, each dress only requires a small amount of each fabric.

The instructions are detailed and easy to understand. Every step needed to finish the garment is included.

The hardest part of the outfit was the flower brooch that I added. (It's not part of the original pattern in the book.) I'm sure there's an easier way to construct it. This is how I did it:
- Draw a flower shape and trace onto paper.
- Cut two flowers from this pattern.
- With right sides together, sew the flowers together, leaving a small opening.
- Turn and slip stitch the opening.
Cabbage Patch Cupcake Dress
- Hand sew a circle in the middle.
- Gather.
- Attach button and sew onto dress.

I just had to make a matching dress and bag for the Cabbage Patch doll. Sorting through the old baby clothes to find a suitable T-shirt was fun. Instead of a flower, the Cabbage Patch dress has a heart. This time I used a Clover Yo Yo maker, which was so much easier!

Given the fact that Cabbage Patch has a matching bag, there will have to be a matching bag for the Cupcake Dress.

I can't decide whether to do the Champion Cargoes or the Sunny Day Shorts next. With Spring fast approaching, perhaps I'll make it the Sunny Day Shorts. Then again, the Picnic in the Park Capelet looks like it would be a lot of fun. I need more hours in the day.

... with matching knickers

Craft Book Month at Craft Buds

Sunday 18 September 2011

RPC and Wrap Around Dress: Addition

I've made a slight alteration to the Mary Go 'Round dress, by adding an extra button. It seemed to need the extra button to make it sit correctly.

After much deliberation and researching, I have finally started my Retro Pillow. There's lots of work ahead for me and still much for me to learn to enable me to finish the pillow. Here's a photo of fabric I'm using as inspiration for my pillow. I forgot to copy the address of the location of the fabric.

I can clearly remember fabric like this from the 70s. In fact, we had curtains that were made from a very similar material. I've chosen a dark navy for the background and will do the flowers in purples and mauves.

When I bought my fabrics, the lady who owns the shop commented on the fact that I was using colours used by the Amish in their quilts. She was extremely helpful in answering my questions on quilting and even talked me out of buying some fabric. I can remember different textured fabrics from the 70s, such as velours and chenille. The shopkeeper felt that for a first time quilting, the chenille would be too difficult. I was impressed that she cared enough to do herself out of a sale.

At the moment, I'm playing with arranging circles and flower shapes on the dark navy fabric. I wonder if what's in my head will translate to the finished pillow....

Saturday 17 September 2011


Spring is the best time of the year for us. The weather is simply perfect outdoors and for me that means gardening. During Summer, we can only garden early in the morning or brave the mosquitoes and garden in the evening. Spring weather enables us to garden all day long, if we so desire.

So, each day I have to make the hard decision; will I garden, sew or both. Yes, I am very lucky to be in such a position.

I like the sentiments expressed on a card I received last week:
Relax and
Enjoy the ride
Try something new
Imagine the possibilities
Remind yourself to play
Expect adventures
Make new plans
Entertain a few wild ideas
Nap without guilt
Take time just for you.

I've only been blogging for one and a half months now and I am enjoying it far more than I initially thought I would. I have discovered so many fabulous blogs with so much information. Almost every day I come across another project to add to my To Do list. This list is growing at a much faster rate than I can keep up with. No matter how much time I have, there is never enough time to do all I want to do.

I've often wondered how people can say they are bored, when there is so much to learn. I aim to always have an ever growing To Do list.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Tohoku Tote Bag...

I'm taking part in UCreate's September Create With Me Project. This month, the project is a the Tohoku Tote bag, by I Am Momma Hear Me Roar.

Cheri gives detailed, easy to follow instructions for the Tohoku Tote. The front panel is pleated first and then cut out. This seems back to front to most patterns, but it works. Mind you, I cut out a rough rectangle first as I was finding the large piece of material quite bulky. I misjudged slightly and my bag ended up about half an inch shorter than intended.

I used a very light fusible interfacing on both the outside and the lining. It gives structure to the finished bag, without being too stiff.

This was my first time using boxed corners. It took me a couple of goes to understand how to do it. Once I understood the concept, it was very easy to do.

Internal zippered pocket...
Internal pockets...

I added two large internal pockets, as described in Cheri's pattern. I also added an internal zippered pocket in the middle of the bag. I still have lots to learn about adding zippered pockets. Adding the zip was no problem. Getting the pocket the right size was not so easy. I made mine the width of the bag, but didn't take the gusset (formed by the box pleat), into consideration. Hence, my pocket is a little large. It doesn't matter, as it's on the inside and just makes the pocket larger, but it doesn't sit as well as I'd like.

Next step was the magnetic snap. This was the first time I'd used these snaps. It was so easy.

Much as I like the bow on the original pattern, I omitted it from my bag. I wanted the focus to be on the fabric I had chosen for the bag and I thought the bow would take attention away from the fabric.

All in all, I'm very happy with my new creation; one more thing I can cross of my To Do list...

Sunday 11 September 2011

What's in a name...

I'm taking part in the Retro Pillow Challenge and it's got me thinking. If I'm going to make a Retro pillow, then I'd better know what Retro really means.

  • Wikipedia:  retro generally implies a vintage of at least 15 or 20 years.  The word Retro derives from the Latin Retro, meaning 'backwards' or 'in past times'. 
  • The term retro refers to clothing, style, and design which is outdated. Generally to be considered retro, something must be between 20 and 25 years old. The actual item does not necessarily need to be old, but can be a new item that references styles of the past.
  • : retro means denoting something associated with or revived from the past.

But how far back can Retro go? At some point Retro must change to Antique. Wikipedia defines antique as generally being more than 100 years old. That must make the following three objects almost antique, as they date back to the 1910s. The clock, the dresser and the vase all belonged to Mr TMW's grandmother, who was married in 1911. 

So, my take on Retro; something associated with items from 1911 to 1990. However, further research has led me to believe that the term retro became popular after the war and that it referred to something in the recent past. So perhaps, the 1940s to 1980s is, at this point in time, the more accepted time frame of retro.

OK, so now I have the time frame sorted, what's the difference between old fashioned and retro. To me, the 50s to 80s implies old fashioned. I've lived during those times, so when I see old becoming new again, to me it seems old fashioned; something that is an old fashion. Old fashioned seems to imply not being good.  Retro, however, seems to imply it's old, but OK. You can see, I don't quite have the distinction between the two terms.

Here's some pics of fashion for me during my lifetime:

Gingham was popular in the 50s. I envied the teenagers in their gingham twirl skirts, bobby socks and ever so pointy shoes.

I didn't own jeans until the mid 60s. We wore quite formal clothing even on outings and it was always dresses

Early 60s: here I am with my Paul McCartney pendant. Everything was the Beatles.

70s: Clothing from India was all the rage: cheesecloth and hand embroidery. This Indian cheesecloth dress lasted well into the 80s. It made a perfect maternity dress. We wore long, flowing dresses, but it was also the era of the mini skirt. I couldn't possibly show you just how short they were. That fashion needs to stay in the past, same as bell bottoms. Jeans became a standard piece of clothing. That was when my mother refused to do my ironing any more. "If you must wear jeans, you can iron them yourself."... a fair comment.

The 80s brought fluoro and bright colours!!! I made these two outfits for two of my children. As long as it was bright, it was OK.

Another 80s outfit I made, this time for Mr TMW. Can you believe he wore the top to work one day? He was in a job where most wore a shirt and tie. This definitely needs to remain in the past. One of my sons, however, was glad his father kept the outfit. Here is my son in his father's tracksuit at a back to the 80s party. He wouldn't, however, wear the sheepskin ugg boots that Mr TMW used to wear with this bright outfit.

Some old fashions were fabulous and it's great when they resurface. As is evidenced in a few of the photos above, some need to remain in the past.

What does all this have to do with the Retro Pillow Challenge? During some eras, fashion fabrics were similar to furnishing fabrics; sometimes they were not. Sorting through these photos has brought back memories of furnishings at the same times. I have few recollections of furnishings during the 50s and 60s. The 70s I well remember as we were setting up our own home. Orange, orange and more orange, with yellows and browns in strong geometric shapes. Look here for a photo of an orange seat that I made in the 70s. Lime green was also another favourite. These colours were not, however, reflected in clothes of the time. Because I used orange so much in the 70s, I'm not going to reuse it now. I suppose I had too much of a good thing.

The 70s was also the time of psychedelic colours, very often featuring purples. Shades of purple were featured in clothing and furnishings of the time. When I left home, my sister changed our bedroom to shades of purples and mauves; not quite the colour scheme our mother had in mind.  I wore purple clothing at the time, but didn't own any furnishings with purples, 

SO, my Retro Pillow is going to be made in shades of purple. Because I didn't overdo purples in the past, I am happy to have them in my present. Flower Power was also a big thing in the 70s, so my cushion will be covered in flowers. That's enough reminiscing, it's time to get started....