A New Pink Top

This pink top has been sitting in my sewing room part made for about two weeks.  I used the upper bodice pattern piece for the sweetheart bodice dress from Yoshiko Tsukiori’s Sweet Dress Book: 23 Stylish Outfits from Six Simple Patterns and my own pattern for the rest which I made from a drape, just as I did for the cream one I made a while ago with the pretty bridal lace section at the top.

I get a lot of comments on this one and have wanted to make another but took my time thinking about which fabric would be best.  I really like it in the cream and was tempted to make one in a similar colour.  I think the pale pink was a good choice, though, as I did not have a pink top.  I have some more fabric to make another one when I can find the time.  It is a pale coffee coloured cotton and a mesh fabric with coffee coloured spots on.

The pink top has turned out better than I thought.  Rashly, I decided to do a hand sewn scallop hem because they’re so delicate and pretty.  It took so long and it doesn’t even show up in the photographs!  I love the pink shell button I chose.  It really needed a more lightweight one so that the delicate chiffon wasn’t weighed down.  But my heart won out and I used the one I liked (again it doesn’t show up in the photographs).  It is a pink disc made from shell with a metal shank which ends in a square of metal in the centre at the front.

 

 

 

 

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Shell Tuck Stitch Hems

Shell tuck stitch hems this week.  The shell tuck stitch makes a really decorative hem.  You could use it on a variety of garments: blouses, baby clothes, lingerie and accessories.  It  is a very versatile stitch and it’s easy to do!  The shell tuck stitch hem can be done on a sewing machine and it can also be done by hand.  The methods are very similar to the rolled hemming techniques from my last hemming post (you could almost imagine I planned that).  There are a few ways of sewing a shell tuck stitch hem by hand but I shall just show you my preferred one which is, I think, the most durable because you secure every third stitch.  Again, as with rolled hems, the shell tuck stitch works best on a finer fabric.

For both of these shell tuck stitch hemming techniques you need to match in your thread to your fabric to make them as inconspicuous as possible,  but I shall be using a contrasting colour so that you can see what I’m doing.

You need the same sewing machine presser foot that you would use for a rolled hem and it is basically the same technique, except that you need to increase the top tension on your machine so that the shells are pulled in tighter and you need to use a blind hem stitch; you might need to use a mirror blind stitch depending on your machine so that the zigzag part goes to the right.  You will probably need to experiment with the correct length and width for your stitch but it should be about 1.5 mm long and between 3.5 and 4.5 mm wide.  The needle needs to miss the actual hem both sides.  So, your straight stitches need to fall in the single layer of fabric to the left of your hem and the zigzag stitch in the middle needs to fall off the right hand side of your hem to pull in the shell shape .  If your machine won’t line up properly (like mine today; annoyingly my old machine does this really well, but this one does not want to play ball) you can sew the hem first with a long stitch then try to align the blind hemming stitch again. Afterwards remove the original hemming stitches.

For the hand version, you need to turn under a very small double fold about 6 mm deep and hold it with your left thumb and working from right to left (apologies if you are left handed).  Secure your thread to the lower edge of your hem and take a very tiny stitch from the fabric below it.  Insert the needle back into the hem in the same place it came out and push it along the fold and back out about half a centimetre along.  Take another tiny stitch from the fabric below, and again insert the needle back into the hem the same place it came out, push it along the fold and out again about half a centimetre along.

This time, taking your needle over the top, insert it into the back of the hem and out through the front, pulling the hem down into a scallop.  Repeat this stitch so that each scallop has two threads pulling the fabric down, and as you tighten it catch the thread with your needle to secure it (this is not the type of hem that you want to unravel).

You have now completed the first scallop or shell and you just need to repeat this all the way around your hem.

The machined version of the shell tuck stitch hem is more subtle but more uniform and very fast.  Obviously it would be better with a matching thread but I still think the stitches would show quite a lot.  But the hand sewn version I love.  I could work on uniformity!  But apart from that I do prefer the result to the machined one and I enjoy hand sewing a hem as well.  Now I just need to think of a project to use it on.

Homemade Food Wrap

More Christmas presents.  This time some safe, re-usable food wrap.  I’m going to be making some round versions to cover food in glass bowls in the fridge and I’m also going to be making some food wrap that can be used to wrap sandwiches.

WARNING: if you are making these during the summer, close your windows and doors prior to melting any beeswax.  Bees are attracted to the smell of beeswax (ask me how I know)!!!  I should have thought about it a bit more as I have looked into keeping bees and have several books on the subject and the thought of getting a free swarm of bees by putting beeswax around the ‘door’ on the beehive has always appealed to me.  A memo to self: think things through.  (Fortunately my hubbie came home for lunch at just the right time to save me.  I know, a bit pathetic and girlie, but there were far more of them than me and maybe bee keeping wouldn’t be the best thing for me, after all.)

So back to the task in hand.  This food wrap is made from safe, natural products.  They can be hand washed in cold water.  All you need to make food wrap is some cotton fabric, some pinking shears, a baking sheet, some grease-proof paper and some beeswax.  I bought my beeswax in a pellet form but if you can only find a block of it, you’ll need to grate it.  You’ll also need access to either an iron or an oven.

So, for the bowl covers you first need a template.  Turn your bowl/ dish that you need a lid for upside down on some paper and draw around it.  Then draw around the whole shape again but at least five centimetres further out.  Cut this template out and pin it (or use weights) to some nice cotton fabric and cut the shape out with pinking shears.  As you can probably tell, I didn’t use a template and had my usual problems with inaccurate measuring and cutting.

Place some grease-proof paper onto a baking sheet and put your fabric on it.  Sprinkle beeswax sparingly onto the fabric.  Then either put another sheet of grease-proof paper on top and iron it or put the baking sheet in the oven at about 110°c for ten minutes or until the beeswax has melted.  If you have any patches without beeswax, just repeat until the fabric is covered.

Once cooled the fabric is pliable but stays put when folded over the top of your container.

The sandwich wraps are made in exactly the same way except that you need to be able to wrap them around a sandwich instead of making them bowl shaped.  I experimented using a piece of paper (and a sandwich) to make sure my fabric would fit around my sandwich leaving no gaps. Amazingly these do not seem to open when you don’t want them to, but to make sure you could put a button and loop on them.

I am secretly very pleased with how these turned out and will be making more for myself and my family.

Mug Rugs

It’s that time of year again when I start to think about making Christmas presents.  I like to be organized.  Last year I wasn’t, as we went to visit our son and my brother in New Zealand for a month and ended up having about two weeks to sort Christmas and, frankly, that’s not for me.

So, I’m starting my first presents today and I’ve decided on some mug rugs or coasters.  I’m not sure where I got the idea from initially but they really appealed to me as they are basically just mini quilts.  I love making quilts and a mug rug miniature version would be far quicker and easier to do.  I’m making my mug rugs smaller than the ones I’ve seen online but bigger than a coaster would normally be – just big enough for a mug of coffee and a biscuit.  These could be made in different sizes and used as place mats and coasters for a dinner table.

First, I cut out  a rectangle of wadding in the size I wanted for the finished mug rugs and two rectangles the same size in cotton fabric for the front and back.  For my applique (you don’t have to put an applique on it) I chose a cupcake and a cup and saucer.  I drew rough templates on paper and then cut the individual pieces out of cotton fabric.

Then I stuck the pieces to my mug rugs’s fronts so that they would stay in place as I sewed.  I used an iron on ‘Bondaweb’ but you could use any temporary fabric adhesive.  My sewing machine has a really good stitch to attach applique which looks like a hand sewn blanket stitch, but today I decided to use a zigzag stitch around the edges of the appliques.

Next, the fun bit; the quilting.  Using a long stitch and my walking foot, I stitched around the edges of the appliques to make them stand out a bit more and then sewed some random, slightly wavy lines.  Much easier than straight, evenly spaced lines and you really can’t go wrong!

For the binding I cut a long strip of fabric about 6 cm wide ( it wasn’t necessary to cut on the bias as the edges of my mug rugs are straight) and folded it in half lengthways and ironed it.  Matching the raw edges, I pinned the folded binding to the edges of each mug rug front and sewed it about 1 cm from the edge.

Lastly, I folded the binding over to the back of the mug rugs and, again, using my walking foot, top stitched around the very edge of the binding being careful not to catch the binding on the front of the mug rugs.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that the binding on these mug rugs is not my finest work (I am usually very fussy with my corners) but I think they’ve turned out quite well.  The first of my Christmas presents finished!