Thinking about Christmas update – more etsy fun!

Starting to make Christmas presents for my friends and family has got me thinking about the things i’ve made that might make good presents for other people! I have several boxes of finished projects in my parents’ garage and after posting about Christmas present for people i know last week i’ve been motivated to start putting some of them up on Etsy and Folksy.

I’m starting to realise just how much stuff i have! I’ve got through one box of crocheted bags so far and there’s at least 4 more to go, plus hats, scarves, gloves – you name it, i’ve crocheted it! And then not really known what to do with it and shoved it in a box :( poor little crocheted things! But now they’re getting pulled out and given a chance at being loved.

Here are a few of the ones that have gone up already –

The country / folky style bag

The ‘you are my sunshine’ bag!

The big snuggly ‘sloppy joe’ bag

Another pink pixie bag

And the charmingly unrealistic neon pink toadstool!

There will be many more to come!

I’ve also had some fun today (otherwise known as procrastinating while i should be doing more ‘important’ stuff!) making a little brooch to go with the wavy teal scarf from my last Christmas post

teal shooting starfish!

which is also all set to go on Etsy (as soon as i stop making brooches and start taking photos!) :)


2-Minute T-shirt Upcycle – Sleeve Headband

This is an amazingly easy (and effective!) way to make a headband for taming long or wild hair. My partner is growing his hair long for the first time (nothing to do with my influence, honest! :p) and it’s getting to the point where he finds the bits in his face a bit annoying. I’ve made him a few crocheted headbands, but he finds that they stretch after a few uses and become slightly too loose to feel totally effective. This is an idea suggested by a friend of his and i have seen it on a few acquaintances who have dreadlocks – using the sleeve of an old tshirt as a headband.

It’s incredibly easy to do – just take one old tshirt (this was a freebie from Fresher’s Fair years ago)

Cut off one sleeve, cutting on the sleeve side of the seam-

Now is a good time to try on your new headband. The narrower part with the underarm seam will go at the back, and the hem of the sleeve will be the front edge of the headband. If your tshirt is quite small like mine was, you might need to cut off this hem to allow it to stretch over your head. If you can wear it without cutting the hem off though, this will help to stop it over-stretching and becoming too big to be effective.

My sleeve wouldn’t go over my head with the hem on so it had to go!

You now have the basis for one headband!

Unfortunately the back does have a tendency to flick up! There are two ways to deal with this – you can just chop off the offending bit (best if you want to keep your headband quite plain, this is what i have done for my boyfriends one!)

Which gives you a nice, neat, flat band.

Or (my preferred option obviously) you can do a bit of gathering, a bit of decorating…(here’s one i made earlier)

I just gathered about an inch at the back of the headband (hand-stitched a running stitch then pulled the thread tight to gather and secured it) then sewed on a little circle of denim and a circle of brightly coloured fabric left over from another project to cover the gathering stitch, and added a little pearly button for extra cuteness! The gathering just pulls in the back enough for it not to stick up and look daft :)
So there you have it! One manly black headband for my boyfriend, one cute pink one for me! I have to say it came in very handy last week when i baking for two solid days (i had a cake stall at the wonderful Hushed Puppies mini-festival at the Dog and Partridge in Bolton) and having my hair getting in my face or anywhere near cakes was not a good option!


Thinking About Christmas!

I don’t know about you, but i like to plan ahead. Especially when it comes to Christmas presents! Mostly because i am so naturally disorganised that if i don’t start thinking about it months in advance i am left panicking at the last minute and so end up getting boring/generic gifts for people (not to mention spending loads more money and starting the new year poor – no fun!)

Plus, i love giving gifts and planning what i’m getting people for Christmas is fun :) So i like to write a list at the end of summer of everyone i want to give gifts to, and scribble down any ideas that i have for each person. If i have no idea what to get for someone i can keep my eyes and ears open over the next couple of months and try to find out if there’s anything they want/need. Starting early gives me plenty of time to make gifts if possible, or shop around to find the best version of something if it’s something i need to buy. I also keep my list in mind so that when i come across cool stuff in the shops and think ‘oooh, so and so would like this’, i know i can get it and pop it in the Christmas box!

The box is already accumulating a few bits and pieces – some books and a DVD, some pretty crocheted vines with multicoloured flowers, a couple of pairs of (handmade) gloves, and at least one crocheted scarf. There are more scarves currently underway and a couple of blankets in the offing – big projects that make me very glad i’m starting this early!

Here are some pictures of where i’ve got to so far…

looong green gloves

pretty turquoise ribbony gloves

Apologies for the awful blurry pictures, turns out it’s quite hard to take a photo with one hand while trying to get half your other arm in the shot!

Autumnal colours scarf

The blankets i’m thinking of so far are a granny squares blanket in rich reds, burnt oranges, tan/earth shades and dark brown; this one (or certainly something very similar – i’m not sure if i like the joining of the squares in the pattern and i might give them a thicker cream border which would also make the blanket bigger… decisions decisions!) and probably one of these in matching colours for the same people; and finally one like this which i like very much :)

I also followed a wonderfully simple tutorial (here) to make some pretty little Christmas decorations out of felt. These will probably be little extras to decorate the gift-wrapping for gifts like homemade cake or sweeties.

Some of the wrapping bits i’ve done already are wine bottle gift bags, made from patchworked scraps, old napkins and the remnants of a pashmina from another project…

…and some decorated paper (made from envelopes or shop paper bags decorated with paper scraps) and fabric (again from scraps) gift bags

These weren’t all made in the last few days – some were done just after last Christmas while i was in the holiday mood!

I’ve also been making some pieces to add to my Etsy shop, again thinking along the lines of cute Christmas presents –

These beautifully coloured bags were made from a half-finished knitted jumper i inherited from a friend. I didn’t have enough yarn or knitting expertise to finish the jumper, but desperately wanted to do something with the beautiful fabric she had created. I used the large back piece to make these two bags, and made the straps from the remnants of the jumper yarn braided with some in similar colours from my stash, stitched onto some trim i found in a charity shop. Possibly my favourite thing about these bags is the fastenings! one has a simple loop-and button fastening with a giant heart button, and the other is a dtrawstring fastening with chunky plastic beads including a red star one on each end. Extra cuteness :)

Another bag, this one upcycled from a gorgeous soft but quite thick pashmina and keeping the tassles at the end as part of the bag.

And finally, a long scarf in a fluffy teal yarn with flecks of copper in it which i absolutely LOVE. I made the scarf to test a pattern (made up from pictures of similar scarves – the original idea is definitely not mine though the pattern is)  for making a scarf in similar yarn for a friend’s birthday. It worked really well and i really enjoyed working with the yarn – i used a larger needle than recommended to give it a looser weave, making it more flexible and a bit more lacy. The yarn for my friend’s scarf is a bit finer so it looks even lacier and quite delicate. I hope she likes it! This one will be available shortly on my Etsy shop.

Another super long post! sorry! I’m sure i will be batting on about Christmas rather a lot over the next couple of months so i will leave it there for now, thanks for listening! xx

Pretty Doilies and Upcycled Embroidery Jeans (and top to match)

This is my last pair of ‘crazy pants’ as my boyfriend has taken to calling them. These do not look anywhere near as crazy as the more brightly coloured ones (here and here), though sometimes i think i must be crazy to commit myself to doing this much hand-sewing as it takes forever! Worth it though!

My most recent pair of embellished jeans are inspired by all the lovely vintage style i have seen recently, plus my newfound love of making, and decorating things with, crocheted doilies!

I started off with a comfortable but plain pair of jeans i think were originally from Matalan, again i’ve had them for a while but rarely wore them as i felt they lacked interest. I also had a much-loved and thoroughly worn out pair of jeans with beautiful machine embroidery of a peacock and flowers, but they had started to disintegrate a bit in some pretty important places (such as, ahem, the crotch seams). That’s what you get when you wear something nearly every day. I just couldn’t bear to let that lovely embroidery go, even though the jeans were now unwearable (i have since done a reasonable job of a kind of reverse-applique patch effort on some large holes in my boyfriend’s jeans, but i felt that because of where the holes were, with all the seams in the way, trying this on mine would just make them too stiff and uncomfortable). So:

Onto the comfy-but-plain jeans that embroidery went! Along with some pretty crocheted doilies too. I cut it out from the old jeans and hand-sewed it very carefully and very thoroughly (to make sure it wouldn’t fray) onto the new ones. I tacked it on before i sewed it properly to make sure it was lying flat (same with the doilies, especially the big ones) and used matching thread so it wouldn’t be too obvious. I also added a little red flower over one of the embroidered ones – i found a little bit of leftover red yarn while i was making the jeans and it decided it wanted to be involved :p) Some of the doilies were made by me – these are the ones in the chunky thread (what i had on hand)

the more delicate ones were given to me by a friend’s grandma, a lovely lady who had crocheted them herself years ago. She can’t crochet any more as her eyesight is not good enough, and she very kindly gave me some of her vintage patterns too. The doilies she gave me are incredibly fine and delicate and must have been very fiddly to do, i am in great admiration of her patience! Especially the one at the top here, look how delicate it is!

I also embellished a lovely strappy top i got from a charity shop to go with my ‘new’ jeans. It was a kind of dark beigey colour when i got it, but i loved the old-fashioned bobbin-lace trim and wooden buttons. in the end i just soaked it in a mixture of household bleach and water for about 4 days until it gave in and went this colour:

Then added some little doilies (some of which had also had to be bleached as they had darkened with age)

So i now have one lovely pale and summery top and some much more interesting jeans! I wear the jeans loads now :) happy days! xx

A Little Less Crazy Pants Refashion

OK, so i was going to post about some things i have made or worn for the first time in the last couple of days, but my camera is out of battery so while it charges i thought i’d add to the story of the Crazy Pants from the last post. I have made another two pairs (so far) of embellished jeans using bits of other, worn-out clothes as the basis for the embellishment. I’ll just talk about the first one here. UPDATE: The other pair are here.

This pair is actually the first set i made:

Back view

These were constructed from a pair of purple baggy pants and a pair of blue baggies in the same lightweight cord fabric. I’ve had both for years and both were my favourite trousers at one time of another, and as such got worn out fairly quickly. Both had already been trimmed at the bottom where the fabric was worn from rubbing on the floor; the blue ones were fastened with press studs i’d added when the zip broke (my sewing skills/patience at that point not extending to zip replacement!) and eventually relegated to messycrafting wear.

The purple ones were worn at the bottom but otherwise not too bad, until the fabric just under one back pocket started to go. I really didn’t fancy the idea of having holes in the bum area! The bottoms of each leg were also getting quite tatty, and to cut/hem them would have made them too short. So i chopped off the bottom portion of the blue baggies- leaving me with perfectly serviceable shorts for indoor crafting and messiness :)

The bottom portions had to be pieced together to fit onto the purple trousers as extensions – since the pants originally had roughly the same width of leg, in order to continue the ‘flare’ of the legs, i had to make the added portion wider by cutting up and piecing the blue fabric,. I also wanted to keep the ankle-level pocket from the blue pants, which was a feature i really loved. Massively impractical since you can’t really keep anything at all heavy in there, but it’s quirky and i like it. I basically just made a tube of blue fabric and kept fiddling with the width until it looked right. It needed a bit of a slant too in order to look flared (this would be much easier with straight pants!)

I sewed it all together and hemmed the bottom of the blue, topstitched the seam where the blue and purple joined to make it stay flat, and went over any raw edges with a zig zag stitch to protect against fraying. I pinned the pocket on where i wanted it to go and just topstitched on top of the original seam (i had just cut it out from the blue pants very close to the seam so it wouldn’t fray, rather than unpicking it all) Sorry i don’t have more pictures of the process, when i get into making something i tend to rush through it to find out if it will work! I need to get better at stopping to take pictures.

The bits of blue that weren’t used up in the actual construction were cut up into hearts of different sizes for the decoration, along with any salvageable bits of purple cut off the bottom. I hand-sewed each heart on with matching thread so it wouldn’t show, then decorated (and reinforced) each one with sparkly embroidery thread.

This would be a good way of making jeans longer, for a growing child for example, or simply edging them when they get a bit tattered at the bottom.

You could also make straight jeans into flares or too-small jeans a bit bigger by using the same or contrasting fabric to put an insert down the side, like i did with these:




Jeans Refashion – Making Jeans Bigger or Making Flares

This is a very simple way to add some extra width or interest to a pair of jeans by adding some extra fabric. I used left-over fabric from another project – you could do the same, or use fabric cut from the legs of another pair of jeans – all you need is two long pieces of a width that suits you. You can even do what i did and piece two shorter bits together to make a long bit (on the leg to the right of the picture, there is a slight ridge in the fur about 1/4 way up – that’s where the seam is where i pieced two bits together).

When i first wore these jeans i wore them up at my actual waist, but since my belly button has been pierced i can’t wear a waistband there as it catches (ow!) so i tend to wear things more on my hips, and these are too small to fit there. Not to mention i think i am a little bigger now than when i was 17! They have been sitting sadly in a drawer for years, i couldn’t bear to get rid of them because of all the writing and decoration on them but they just weren’t comfortable enough to wear. I finally got around to making the jeans bigger when i was making a cat costume for a festival out of the pink starry fabric and had a fair bit left over.

If you would like to make something like this, it is very important to choose a fabric that has a similar thickness and weight to your original jeans, especially if you are making flares. If you use a very light fabric then the denim will weigh it down and flop ‘closed’, hiding the insert and spoiling the effect. If all you are going for is a bit of extra waistband this is much less vital, but it will still look better if you have a similar weight of fabric.

To work out how much bigger i wanted my jeans to be i just put them on with them at my hips, and measured the gap between the button and buttonhole – i.e. how much extra fabric i would need to allow them to fasten where i wanted them to sit. I divided this by 2 to give the width of the top of each side strip, and added 2″ to each. This was to account for a 1/2″ seam allowance on each side of the fur, and a 1/2″ seam allowance on each edge of the jeans. If you were using normaly fabric for the insert you could probably get away with having 1/4″ allowances so just adding 1″ to each strip, but fur fabric is evil and can come apart (and shed!) pretty easily, so i like to treat it with caution.

If you were just adding a straight strip to straight jeans, i.e. not making them into flares and just making them bigger, you would just make a strip that is as wide as the width you’ve just worked out, and as long as your jeans plus hemming allowances, about an extra 1″ on each end. If, like i was, you wanted flared inserts, you just need to make a big triangular piece of fabric for each side. The shapes i used looked like long thin symmetrical triangles with the points cut off. I didn’t really measure precisely for the width at the bottom of the triangles, it was more dictated by the amount of fabric i had, but i cut one out then used it as a template for the other. The important thing is for them to be more or less symmetrical.

I cut out the side seam of the original jeans and pinned in my two long triangular shapes of fur fabric (wide end at the bottom – obviously) with right side of fabric together, being careful to include the pocket as it had been in the original jeans construction. I positioned the triangle so that 1″ poked out above the waistband of the jeans and 1″ below the bottom (for later hemming). I sewed the fur fabric in, with a 1/2″ seam allowance. If you were using a simple strip of fabric you would do exactly the same. Then i sewed it again, with about 1/8″ gap between the first and second seam (so a 3/8″ seam allowance). Then i zigzagged the edges. Like i said, i just don’t trust that fur fabric!

Once the triangles were sewn in place, I folded the top and bottom edges over by a half inch, then the other half inch, to form a hem, and sewed it in place. For hemming on jeans like this i tend not to bother unpicking hems to include my new fabric in them, and just fold it over afterwards to hem.

That’s it! nice new comfy pair of jeans that are also super fluffy!

One thing i did add later was a reinforcing strip across the waistband part of the fur fabric. If you use a thick, non-stretchy fabric you would probably not have an issue here, but i found that the fur fabric has some ‘give’ in it that after a couple of wearings made my no-longer-too-small jeans a bit too-big! To be honest this was a bit scrappy as i did it in 5 minutes before i went out because i was determined to wear those jeans (preferably without them falling down) – i just got a scrap of demin from my scrap bag, cut 2 rectangles a bit wider than the waistband and a bit longer than the width of the fur section, folded under all 4 edges and stitched it across the inside of the fur insert. I hope that makes sense, you can probably see better from the photo:

Because i had already worn and stretched the inserts so they were now too big, i had to gather them slightly before sewing the reinforcing strip on, to bring it back to the right size. If you were to reinforce stretchy inserts before wearing this would not be necessary!

This technique is a really useful one, and one i have used a few times – whether to make things fit better, add a bit of interest, even a couple of times to make ‘flares’ for party costumes! It’s very simple and very effective. Win!

Crazy Pants!

This is possibly one of my favourite things i have ever made, mostly because of the bright colours and kitschy design, but also i think because it was such a lot of effort that it would break my heart to now not like it! Or them, rather. This was not so much a refashion as such but an embellishment project, of two pairs of plain capri-length jeans (one i’ve had for years, the other from a charity shop’s £1 bin) with the additionof lots of little stars and hearts cut from…wait for it…old socks! All the socks that had been accumulating in a bag in my sewing room, socks with holes in the heel, or whose partners had been eaten by the washing machine (or whatever happens to those poor socks that don’t come back from laundry :s), but were to pretty to be thrown away just in case they could be useful again.

I know, it does sound a bit crazy. My boyfriend certainly thought so, hence the name Crazy Pants which was his doing. But i think they are beautiful! Or at least a lot of fun :p

here are the original pants:

These i had already started to decorate a couple of years before while on holiday with some hearts cut from tights and stars cut from socks, very carefully hand stitched on. They had survived numerous washes which gave me the confidence to add lots more.

These are the pair from the charity shop. I was very lucky to find them, my size, lovely lightweight and soft black denim, and only £1!

Here are some of the sacrificial socks-

and after being cut up into little star shapes-

I also had some shiny lurex threads i allowed myself to be tempted into buying at last year’s Knit and Stitch show in Harrogate, which i was starting to develop a plan for.  I liked the rows of stitching around the hem of my blue jeans, and the black ones had a similarly wide hem, so basically this was an opportunity to add a bit more sparkle! More on that later…

Anyway, the work itself was SLOW, and LONG and ultimately sometimes a bit DULL.  But i only had to look at what i had done so far to motivate myself to keep going. Here are the blue ones almost halfway done:

I decided on these to stick with what i’d already done, with hearts on the right leg and stars on the left. The above picture is from the back. Here they are finished:

You can see how on each leg the appliqued shapes go in a sort of swirl around from front to back or back to front. On the black ones i followed the same rough pattern, and this time i took the time to draw on with tailor’s chalk the boundaries of the ‘swirls’. I also mixed it up a bit with the hearts and stars, and used slightly more colour variety (added in some more black and whites, and some purple).

I think all the colours really come into their own on the black, maybe more than the blue. i also made use of some of those sparkly threads i showed you earlier…

All around the waistband and fastening (just following the stitching that was already there) and in multicoloured lines around the bottom hem! i did go over the white stitching on the hem of the blule ones too, though the effect is a bit more subtle. If you can call anything about these jeans subtle!

So there you have it! two pairs of completed Crazy Pants. If i were to do this again i’d consider taking them apart at the seam and sewing the bits on by machine. However, i do think hand sewing helps stop the stretchy sock fabric getting distorted (i am not brilliant at sewing stretchy stuff by machine) and it is actually very therapeutic despite my moaning. In fact, i have gone on to make another couple of pairs of Crazy Pants (though none as crazy as these) and done them all by hand, so i can’t be that bothered!

I am thinking of doing a similar thing on a short demin skirt to wear with tights for winter – i still have lots of socks left!

What do you think? Do you share my opinion – that the Crazy Pants are kitsch and lovely? Or are they a bit too Crazy?! Should i bother doing a skirt? xx

ps sorry for the super long post, not too dull i hope!