Friday, 29 December 2017

CJ Made 2017 Review

I'm joining Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow with a review of my sewing top five. I have had a pretty prolific year in terms of sewing and managed to make 20 garments for myself, 7 hand-made gifts, 4 re-fashions and many other art and craft projects!

20 Hand-Made Garments
7 Hand-Made Gifts (selfless sewing)

2) My most worn garment during the working week is my Sew Over It Coco Jacket that I finished in January 2017. It is a very versatile jacket that creates a smart silhouette with dresses, skirts and trousers alike.

3) My favourite skirt has to be the By Hand London Charlotte skirt made in a beautiful dark floral linen fabric. I only made it fairly recently but it has had a lot of wears in the past two months.

4) The garment I was most proud of when I finished was the Sew Over It Alex Shirt Dress. Working in a rather slippery viscose was a little tricky so I was really happy how it turned out.

5) My most comfortable (and most economical make at £4) item is my Christine Haynes Emery Dress in a soft polka dot viscose.

Favourite Hand-Made Gifts

As for my selfless sewing its a tie between two items for my favourite hand-made gifts.
Both pieces took a long time to make but in terms of man-hours the most time consuming item was the baby quilt I made for my friend Esther. Using Alison Glass Chroma fabrics it took over 40+ hours to machine patchwork and then hand-quilt.

The most fun hand-made gift to make was the most recent, my friend Mel's hand-embroidered jeans. I spent about 25+ hours hand-embroidering them using a wide variety of hand-stitches.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Festive Foliage

Before it is time to un-decorate the house after the Christmas break I wanted to share with you my festive foliage. I arranged Norway Spruce, Eucalyptus, Thistles, Bamboo and Berries into various vases and decorated them with fairy lights, wooden hearts, felt shapes and a few hand-made decorations.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Hand Embroidered Jeans

Now the Christmas presents have been opened I can share this gift I customised for my friend Mel. When I visited her in August we saw a fab pair of embroidered jeans in a store in San Francisco. It immediately gave me an idea rather than buy them I would embellish an existing pair of jeans that Mel already owned (more eco-friendly too).

Fast forward to November and I rediscovered the jeans and realised I had only a month to decorate them. I immediately created a Pintrest board to research ideas for the embroidery. One of the features of the original jeans Mel liked was the use of existing machine-embroidered patches. I ordered a set of these iron-on patches from Amazon and set about creating designs for the jeans.

I used a range of hand embroidery stitches including; back stitch, chain stitch, seed stitches, satin stitch, hand couching and french knots. The embroidery threads I used are dozens left over from my Textile Degree days over 20 years ago which consisted of DMC, Anchor, Moulin, MTM and Madeira Threads.

I started the design by laying out the iron-on patches grouping them into themes of junk food, fruits, flowers, and then I free-styled the hand-embroidery around the patches.
I thoroughly enjoyed the slow meditative process of creating the designs over the Christmas break. In terms of time I think there is about 25+ hours worth of stitching in the jeans which I sewed in bursts of 2 - 4 hours at a time. Mel really loves them which I am very happy about. Hopefully they will be worn a lot to get maximum enjoyment out of them!

Friday, 15 December 2017

Hand-Embroidered Christmas Decoration

We are nearing peak Christmas spirits at CJ Made HQ this weekend.
I received a lovely hand-made Christmas decoration from my friend Amy in Denmark which prompted me to reciprocate with this bright and cheerful hand-embroidered felt decoration. It took me about an hour to make and you could add embroidery ranging from the most simple stitches to something extremely intricate depending on your sewing skills or time scale.

The design of the decoration was partly inspired by the glorious visual feasts from the Channel 4 show Kirstie's Home-made Christmas. You can not watch these programmes without wanting to bust out your crafting kit!

Onto the making. I cut out two heart shapes in felt and embroidered a green line of chain stitch about 2cm from the edge.

I selected a bright blue for a snowflake design in the centre using back-stitch. Wooden beads were added for extra embellishment.

Scraps of felt were used to pad out the decoration but traditional cushion filling would probably add a little more luxury feel to the decoration. The edges were finished using blanket stitch in a bright yellow all the way around.

I plaited three embroidery threads to make the hanging loop. I knotted each end of the plait and pushed the knots in between the blanket stitch. I secured the loop in place with some regular sewing thread stitching. Colourful ribbon or wire would also work well for a hanging loop.

There you have it. A cute, inexpensive and quick hand-made Christmas decoration!

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Quick DIY Christmas Jumper

Tomorrow a lot of people will be wearing a Christmas jumper to get in the festive spirit and to support the charity Children in Need.
I decided to make a quick DIY jumper with a sweatshirt, a few fabric scraps and some Bondaweb. All you need is a little bit of imagination and an iron. Here is what I managed to create in about half an hour.

Note to self - don't take photos when using the iron or you will scorch your fabric and ironing board! Whoops!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Festive Wreath

I created a festive wreath this evening in a fun 2-hour session. It was such a lovely way to start the week!

Start with a florists oasis ring that has been soaked in water for about 10 minutes prior to use. This helps the foliage stays fresh for longer.

I started with some cheap and cheerful Salal which bulks out the wreath. Working in a clockwise direction trim the stalks on an angle so it can be inserted into the oasis much easier. I also angled the stalks around the wreath.

Next was a bunch of baby blue Eucalyptus which smells amazing. Longer stems can be trimmed down by snipping just after the leaf. Again I worked my way around the wreath adding stems at regular intervals.

The wreath was starting to look quite festive already at this point but it needed another green texture in the form of Norway Spruce (the same type as the Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree). This densely packed pine also has a beautiful scent. To add sections of these into the wreath, pull away the needles at the bottom of your selected branch and trim the stalk at an angle. Insert into the wreath at regular intervals.

A lighter evergreen was introduced in the form of a bright limey-green Conifer which added a little contrast to the blue-greens of the other foliage.

The finishing touches to the wreath added a festive vibe using pine cones, cinnamon sticks, lotus heads and small Christmas baubles. These were all attached by using floristry wire. It takes a little patience to attach the wire to the decorations but once you get the knack it's really fun to play around with the placement of these accent features. There doesn't seem to be any set rules for creating this type of arrangement but it has been often said about flower arranging that using odd numbers of 3, 5 and 7 has visual balance.

Overall, I am very happy with my festive wreath and it wasn't too expensive for a fresh arrangement.
Here are some links if you want to make your own:

Total cost = (approx) £20.00

When you consider the cost of ready-made wreaths in high street shops and florists (£30 - £50) this is a fun and economical way to start the festive season.