Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Simple Sewn Sketchbooks

This week I was helping an A Level Art student prepare her portfolio for a series of Art Degree interviews and we wondered how to present her collection of over 50+ sketches that were on loose papers. To create a sense of order we curated themes (still life, portrait, architecture) and placed them into a pleasing order. I then taught her how to sew the papers together using a sewing machine to create a series of unique hand-made sketchbooks.

Once we got into the flow we also made these lovely A4 and A5 sketchbooks using lots of left-over marbling from a few weeks ago and piles of loose cartridge paper and sugar paper. It's a great way to quickly create something simple, fun and useful.

Here is a simple step-by-step guide to creating these very pleasing hand-made sketchbooks.

Simple Sewn Sketchbooks

Sewing Machine
Coloured thread of your choice
Selection of cartridge paper
Marbled paper / Good quality wrapping paper / Wallpaper
Scissors / rotary trimmer

1. Select a range of papers and stack in your order of choice with the 'cover' on the top

2. Fold the cover paper in half (or draw a pencil line to indicate the half-way point)

3. Set the stitch length to the longest stitch and sew along the line using the sewing machine

4. Tie the threads at each end or leave loose depending on personal preference and fold the entire collection of paper at the sewn line. Use a heavy set of books / object to weight the paper (if you have a bone-folder for book-making you can use this to create the beautiful creases needed for a perfect job)

5. Now get sketching or note-taking, doodling, organising, creative writing, dream-diary recording, fashion drawing, clothes designing or gifting to a friend!

Tips & Ideas
  • You will need to experiment with the capacity of your sewing machine to figure out how many sheets of paper it will comfortably sew. Most of the sketchbooks above have 10 - 15 sheets of varying weights of paper.
  • Use a denim / large size needle to sew with (or an old needle as it doesn't need to be super sharp)
  • Fold or cut the paper in different ways to make unusual size sketchbooks
  • Try different threads to contrast or compliment your paper selection
  • The pink and red sketchbook in the above photo was sewn at one side only for a different style of sketchbook
  • You could also use lined paper / tracing / tissue / newspaper / magazine pages

Sunday, 18 February 2018

My Secret Valentine Exchange Gift, #2018SVE

This will be my final instalment for the 2018 Secret Valentine Exchange. I received my present on Friday and was very excited to learn my parcel had travelled over the Atlantic ocean from Chicago.

My SVE buddy Celia Perez is a very talented published writer and librarian. Her hand-made gift to me was influenced by reading Richard B Sewall's award winning biography The life of Emily Dickinson. She created some really fun zine-style stickers with Emily's face and fun quotes written underneath.  She asked me to share photos of where Emily ends up when she leaves the house. There is even a hashtag #emilydickinsonleavesthehouse

Other gifts I received were a fab needle-felted heart brooch and a hand-sewn flower badge. As well as some yummy chocolate covered orange and caramel marshmallows and some loose tea leaves! What a fabulous end to the week and a big thanks to Celia for her creativity and to Ute and Sanae for organising another amazing SVE!

Emily D hanging out in East London!

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Sew Over It Zoe Dress

With my sewing machine still in limbo (it's broken but I'm not sure whether to get it fixed or to buy a new one) I decided to attend the Zoe Dress workshop at the Sew Over It store in Clapham. I was very happy that the uber-talented tutor Julie was teaching the class (over the years she has helped me make the SOI Tulip skirt, 2014, 1960's Coat, 2015, Francine Jacket, 2015, and Cigarette Pants, 2016).

Image Source
In the spirit of Kate from Time to Sew I am warming up to #makeyourstash which doesn't officially start until March (read about it here). I raided my stash for a suitable fabric which ideally needs some stretch and I found the last metre of a cotton sateen in a colourful geometric print which I bought from Samuel Taylors in Leeds in 2013. If this looks familiar you may recognise it from my By Hand London Victoria Blazer I made last April.

It took some serious fabric Jenga to squeeze the pieces out of one metre of fabric. I had to omit the grown-on pockets and facings and cut them from some scraps of fabric from the Sew Over It fabric bin and some of my own stash.

During the construction I made good use of the overlocker (not having one of my own) so the insides are nice and neat. As for fitting, I graded from an 8 for the bodice and with the help of Julie graded out on the back seams only to 10 to accommodate my hips and bum. The Zoe dress is a semi-fitted shift dress which offers a lovely fit with princess seams as well as French darts and pockets that are hidden in the front panels.

The finished Zoe Dress

Pockets at the perfect height for stashing secret snacks!
What zip?

I made a slight mistake when sewing the neckline as I used a 1.5cm seam allowance instead of the intended 1cm. I like how it turned out though and didn't want to un-pick and re-sew. The hem was overlocked then stitched in place with a 3cm hem. This version is maybe a little short for workwear (certain constraints due to limited fabric) so I will add another 7/8cm to the length of the dress for my next version which will hit at the knee.

Overall I am super happy with the Zoe dress and I can see another one in the not-too-distant future.

Check out the other blogs at Sum of Their Stories

Saturday, 10 February 2018

#2018 Secret Valentine Exchange Reveal

I can reveal that my 2018 Secret Valentine is Kate who is known as @missfoxlove on Instagram. Kate contacted me yesterday that she succumbed to opening her Secret Valentine gift early so I can safely show you the gifts I made without spoiling the surprize!

As you know from my previous SVE post Kate loves red, pink, blue and silver colours and has a thing for foxes, pineapples, flowers and clouds imagery.
I raided my stash fabrics and found a number of cottons that would be perfect to make a zippered pouch or two in bright pink, a Japanese cherry blossom floral and a Cloud 9 'crane' fabric for the lining. (Yes, I am on a zippered pouch roll right now!)

The first pouch was made using the Noodlehead zippered pouch pattern and the second one was free-styled just as a simple pouch without a gusset. I also included some little gifts of some notebooks, rainbow bobbin cases pack (from Tiger) and some Graze nuts, chocolate and cherries wrapped in cloud wrapping paper!
Prepare for lots of photos!

A big shout out to the gorgeous Sanae and Ute who have organised this fantastic crafty sharing of love around the world! I am looking to #2019SVE already!

Check out lots of other cool crafty blogs at #handmademonday organised by Julia of Sum of their Stories.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Crafty friends are the best friends!

Crafty friends really are the best friends. I can say this with confidence as I received a lovely surprise gift in the mail in early January from the gorgeous and generous Marilla! A while back she wrote a blogpost about hand-printing and the gift she sent me featured in her post. It's a really useful drawstring bag that Marilla has repeat-printed with a navy blue print on a soft denim blue fabric.

To say thank you I sent her this zippered bag I made from stash fabric using a combination of Alison Glass and Cloud 9 cottons and an orange zip. I hope she likes it!

The following gifts I made for my lovely creative friend Charlotte whose birthday it was yesterday. She loves Orla Kiely's aesthetics so when I spotted the leaf print fabric (which has a Kiely-style look) at the Craft Swish last week I knew I could make something nice out of it for her.

The zippered pouch is loosely based on this free pattern from Noodlehead which I learnt how to make at a workshop at the Village Haberdashery last week.

Check out lots of other cool crafty blogs at #handmademonday organised by Julia of Sum of their Stories.