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Loving handmade

Apologies for the lack of posts in February – making, doing and organising for the wedding has entirely taken over my life and blogging has somewhat fallen by the wayside… fear not though, I’ll be making up for it in May by telling you about everything I’ve been making for the wedding, including a sewn bridal bag, a personalised guest book, paper table confetti, a sewn bridal wrap decorated with crocheted hearts, a decorated card box and more.

Alongwith wedding crafting, I’ve also been working on (paid!) commissions for Simply Crochet and The Sewing Directory. I’m not quite sure how I’ve squeezed it all in really…anyway, my latest make for The Sewing Directory has been this canvas messenger bag:

Sewn canvas messenger bag

Sewn canvas messenger bag

I really love messenger bags – I feel secure with it worn across the body, I like the way it sits on the hip, and it’s easy to get stuff in and out. They’re the perfect bag for me!

I’ve wanted to try my hand at making one for ages, and then my current messenger bag (the one in this post, here) started fraying so I knew it was time. I pitched it to The Sewing Directory and they said yes, so I got to work and I’m really pleased with the outcome.

It wasn’t easy and took me about a week to make it, while working out the pattern at the same time, and then another week to write out the pattern in detail from my scribbled notes and draw step-by-step diagrams that someone else could follow. But it’s a pattern I’m really proud of. The bag itself has also been getting a lot of attention – people can’t believe it when I say I made it (I always love that).

If you’re interested in making your own messenger bag, pop over to The Sewing Directory for the free instructions. What I don’t mention in the instructions, though, is the extra pocket that I added to make the bag perfect for me! When I travel on the bus, I always worry about losing my bus ticket and try to keep it in the same place every time – but that place is usually inside a pocket that’s inside my zipped-up purse that’s inside my zipped-up bag. It’s a Russian doll effect that makes it tricky to get the ticket out in a hurry if I’m late and the bus is arriving just as I am (yes, that happens more times than I’d like to admit). So I gave my bag a hidden outside pocket along the side – you can see it in this photo if you look for the extra stitching near the orange flower:

Hidden outer pocket

Hidden outer pocket

It was fun trying to line up the pattern on the two pieces of fabric to get that ‘hidden’ effect and I think I did a pretty decent job. I love having a special hidden bus ticket pocket – it’s perfect for me. I also added another little pocket inside for my house key (which I can never find when I need it!). It’s these sorts of little life-improving details that makes me love handmade!

And so onto another made-to-measure treat that I crocheted for Simply Crochet – these men’s colourwork mittens:

Crochet colourwork mittens

Crochet colourwork mittens

These fine mittens are modelled above by my other half (soon to be husband!) who happily got to keep them afterwards. He really did deserve them as well because I made them to fit his hands while we were on holiday in November – he tried them on so many times for me that I think he worked almost as hard as I did to help bring them to life!

I used a simple spike stitch wave pattern to create a manly argyle look (if you squint, you can see it much better!). He loves these mittens (I just checked with him and he does) because they’re soft and warm, they have a subtle pattern and obviously the fit is perfect. He’s worn them much more than the previous rainbow-coloured mitts that I knitted for him about 10 years ago, so I think that’s a success.

If you’re interested in the pattern, it’s in issue 41 of Simply Crochet magazine, which also features the pattern for my rainbow scarf:

Rainbow scarf

Rainbow scarf

I made this one a while back and blogged about it here. It’s one of my favourite ever scarves and I wear it all the time, so it’ll be great to see what creative effects other crocheters can achieve with the pattern.

Right, I’m off back to sewing crocheted flowers onto a crocheted ribbon to decorate the front of my bridal car…

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Posted by on February 29, 2016 in Crochet, Sewing

 

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Fabric flowers

Nowadays, a crafter is rarely just a sewist or a crocheter or a knitter – we may have several creative pursuits that satisfy different aspects of our personality. I love the speed and engineering element of sewing. But I also love the portability and flexibility of crochet. I’m also an enthusiastic knitter, a keen baker, a big fan of patterned paper and origami, a passionate cook, an occasional gardener, a keen puzzler, and much more.

I think it’s natural to feel yourself pulled towards a particular craft and away from others – in the past year, I’ve certainly felt pulled towards crochet and away from sewing. And I missed sewing. So I decided to take action, to give myself more sewing projects by becoming a contributor to The Sewing Directory.

I’m delighted to say that my first project is now live on the website – in fact, it’s not just one project but five! I put together a tutorial for making five different fabric flowers – you can see it here. There are so many different ways to make flowers out of fabric, it was hard to choose just five! So I took the selfish route and made the ones that I wanted.

As you might know, I’m getting married in April (this year!) so a lot of my making time is now devoted to crafting for the wedding. One of the items I’ve made is a wrap out of ivory chiffon, for me to wear on the day. I’d never sewn with chiffon before and to be honest, I totally ruined the first metre length I bought! It was only £3 per metre though so I just bought another metre. But that left me with a ruined metre, full of puckers and pulls, which I didn’t want to go to waste. So I decided to use it to make a gathered flower, which I’ll use somewhere on the day:

Chiffon flower

Chiffon flower

This became Flower 1 of 5, and I enjoyed the gathering technique so much that I made another one using a patterned green cotton fabric and attached it to a pipe cleaner stem – simple but pretty!

Flower 1 in cotton

Flower 1 in cotton

For Flower 2, I thought I’d try a simple technique that I’d seen around but never tried myself – chain piecing folded triangles of fabric. It worked really well, apart from the hole in the middle which has to be covered up – to make it a little more 3D, I stuffed the flower centre. Then I attached it to a barbecue skewer to form a stem – perfect for a little vase:

Flower 2 in pot

Flower 2 in pot

For Flower 3, I tried a technique that I’d seen during my time on Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine – it’s a clever way of joining a fabric flower shape to a piece of fusible web. The resulting appliqué flower is flat and ready to fuse onto another fabric. I decided to use it to brighten up this dress – remember it from this post?

Flower 3 on dress

Flower 3 on dress

After making this one, I felt confident enough to cut out a flower shape from another fabric and create a ready-to-fuse appliqué flower out of it. This particular flower shape is a little bit odd, but the technique is neat!

Before and after

Appliqué flower: before and after

For Flower 4, I went back to my stash and found some spare organza (also a wedding purchase) – this seemed a good choice for making flowers. This time, I cut the fabric into petals and had a little too much fun using a candle to shape them (I think maybe there’s a pyromaniac lurking in all of us):

Organza flower

Organza flower

And finally, Flower 5 is just a gathered and layered tube, which I’ve done before, but they’re so simple and satisfying to make:

Flower 5 gathered tube

Flower 5 gathered tube

I made these during the dull days of December and they really brightened up the place, without taking up much time. If you’d like to make any of these flowers, just check out my free tutorials on The Sewing Directory – and look out for some more of my free sewing projects on the website soon…

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2016 in Sewing

 

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2015 Review

I’m not usually one for looking back or making resolutions, but it seems to have become a tradition for my blog, so why the heck not…

The past year has been pretty big for me: I fulfilled one of my big dreams of opening an Etsy shop and I’ve even sold some patterns!

My blog has also had some lovely comments, I’ve posted 35 times, and I’ve uploaded over 200 photos. I also started another blog all about vegan food (littlegreenplate.wordpress.com) and I opened a shop on Ravelry dedicated to my crochet and knitting projects (and had a few sales on there as well!).

But looking back, without doubt, my most popular make continues to be this adorable doggy doorstop sewing project – even though he bounded into life in 2012, he’s still my most popular make and I think he’s my favourite, too!

Sewn doggy doorstop – sewing pattern available at www.etsy.com/uk/shop/MakeMeDo

But looking at my new projects for 2015,I think this has been a really productive year, where I’ve designed and made some really good projects that I’m proud to put my name on. So these are some of my most popular projects as well as my personal favourites:

Crochet alphabet – pattern available at www.ravelry.com/stores/becky-skuse-designs

Rainbow scarf

Rainbow scarf

Crochet rainbow scarf – pattern coming soon to Simply Crochet magazine.

Flowery tablet cosy

Flowery tablet cosy

Crochet flower tablet cosy – pattern coming soon to my Etsy and Ravelry shops.

Crochet pinwheels closer

Crochet pinwheels closer

Crochet pinwheels – pattern coming soon to my Etsy and Ravelry shops.

Finished crochet popcorn tree

Finished crochet popcorn tree

Crochet popcorn tree – pattern coming soon to my Etsy and Ravelry shops.

Sparkly clutch

Sparkly clutch

Crochet and sewing sparkly purse – pattern coming soon to my Etsy and Ravelry shops.

Little dragon

Little dragon

Crochet dragon – a gift for my sister-in-law.

Crochet All Sorts

Crochet All Sorts

Crochet All Sorts – my first project for Mollie Makes magazine, the pattern is available on my Etsy shop here. I also posted a step-by-step guide to sewing up one of the sweets:

Start sewing up

Start sewing up

At the beginning of 2015, I made some crafty resolutions and I’m glad to say that I’ve achieved some of them. I’d resolved to post more technical guides and while I only posted one (above), I’m considering that a mild success.

I also resolved to post more projects, for free or a fee and I have managed to post various patterns, either for free on this blog, or for sale on my Etsy and Ravelry shops. I’d like to add more though (I’ve got 20 patterns just waiting to be sorted out!) so getting through some of these will be a key crafty resolution for 2016.

I haven’t achieved my final resolution though: to make a crocheted baker boy hat. So I think I’ll make that a rollover resolution for 2016! Is that allowed? Well, if it’s good enough for the lottery…

My final aim for the year involves this little thing in April (my wedding!) that I’m busy making things for…

In the meantime, best wishes to all of you for the year ahead 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2016 in Crochet, Sewing

 

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Make: bunting

A colourful crafted make really can cheer up any space. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this crochet bunting:

Colourful bunting

Colourful bunting

I’ve actually blogged about this bunting before, in this Crafting around the house post in 2013, where I revealed how the bunting was cheering up a somewhat neglected kitchen that’s in desperate need of DIY. Here’s the uncropped view:

Bunting improves the view

Bunting improves the view

We have made a few improvements to the kitchen since then (when we’ve had spare cash), but the colourful bunting is still very much needed to off-set the bare brick and unpainted walls.

So if you have a space that needs cheering up in these times of austerity, dip into your yarn stash and work up my free crochet bunting pattern:

You will need
Any aran or DK yarn (I used Rico Creative Cotton Aran)
A 4mm (US G/6) hook

Measurements
Each triangle measures approx 15x16cm (6×6¼in)

Notes
Pattern uses UK crochet terminology: UK double crochet (dc) is the same as US single crochet (sc)

Bunting triangle
Make as many triangles as you like, in the colours that you like.
Using a 4mm hook, ch27.
Row 1 Dc in second chain from hook (missed ch does not count as st), dc in each chain to end, turn. [26 dc]
Row 2 Ch1 (does not count as st), dc2tog, dc to end, turn. [1 stitch decreased]
Rep Row 2 until 2 sts remain.
Next row Ch1 (does not count as st), dc2tog.
Fasten off and weave in ends.

Bunting string
Using white yarn and a 4mm hook, ch5, ss to first ch (hanging loop formed), ch10, dc into foundation chain of first triangle, *ch10, dc into foundation chain of next triangle, repeat from * until all triangles have been joined, ch15, ss to 5th ch from hook (hanging loop formed).
Fasten off and weave in ends.

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2015 in Crochet

 

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Make: crochet dishcloths

Blogging can sometimes be a lonely business. I quite often feel like I’m talking to myself. Which is fine. I’m happy to listen.

So it’s great when something I’ve made, written about or photographed is noticed and liked by other people. That’s what happened with this image of some simple crochet dishcloths I made:

Crochet dishcloths

Crochet dishcloths

A lot of crocheters like to make dishcloths and these ones are nothing special. But I remember making a special effort to photograph these ones nicely. So it’s great to discover that the image has been re-posted on a few other blogs as well as on Pinterest. It’s very nice.

Anyway, I thought it was about time that I posted the pattern, for anyone interested in making these dishcloths. They’re super-simple and beginner-friendly to make.

Dishcloths

You will need
Any DK-weight yarn (I used Yeoman Soft Cotton DK)
A 3.5mm (US E/4) hook

Measurements
Finished dishcloth measures approx 20cm (8in) square

Notes
Pattern uses UK crochet terminology: UK treble crochet is US double crochet, UK double crochet is US single crochet.

Dishcloth
Using 3.5mm hook, ch42.
Row 1 Tr in fourth ch from hook and each ch to end, turn. [40 tr]
Row 2 Ch3 (counts as tr), tr in each st to end, turn. [40 tr]
Repeat Row 2 until dishcloth is square (approx 20cm/8in).
Fasten off and weave in ends.

Edging
Join a contrasting shade of yarn using a slip stitch in any stitch of final row.
Round 1 Ch1 (does not count as st), *dc in each st to end, work 3dc in corner st, rotate to work into row ends and work approx 2 dc into the side of each treble stitch, work 3dc in corner st; repeat from * around, dc in each st until you reach the first dc, ss to first dc to join round.
Round 2 Ch1 (does not count as st), *dc in each st around working 3dc in each corner st, ss to first dc to join round.
Fasten off and weave in ends.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2015 in Crochet

 

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Make: Easy bunting

Today’s post is all about brightening up dark hallways, with super-easy tassels, pompoms and fringing – in the shape of this cute bunting I made back in July for Simply Crochet magazine…

Tassel bunting

Tassel bunting

Below is the free pattern to make this bunting – and it only involves the tiniest bit of crocheting so anyone can make it!

The only conditions are:
• Please don’t claim the design as your own.
• Please only make this bunting for your own personal use, NOT to make any money out of it.
• Please let me know if you make the bunting! Thank you 🙂

You will need
DK cotton yarn (or any yarn) in three different colours (I used Rowan Handknit Cotton DK, 100% cotton, 50g/85m, 1 ball of each: Blue John (365), Bee (364), Florence (350), Ecru (251))
A 4mm (US G/6) hook
Spare cardboard
Standard-size fork
One stitch marker
Tapestry needle

Measurements
Bunting string measures approx 2.5m
Tassels measure approx 7cm long, 1.5cm wide
Medium pompoms measure approx 4cm in diameter
Small pompoms measure approx 3cm in diameter
Tiny pompoms measure approx 1.5cm in diameter

Notes
You can adjust the length of the bunting to suit you. Make the tassels, pompoms and fringing in any size you like, and add as many as you like, using any combination of colours. Dig into your stash and see what you can find!

Make the tassels
Cut a piece of cardboard measuring 5cm wide and 7cm long. Make a 1cm cut on one of the short ends of the card.

Tie a knot in one end of your yarn and secure it around the slot. Wrap the yarn around the length of the card to the thickness you require. If you’d like to use more than one colour, knot the yarns together at the base of the card and carry on wrapping around.

Cut a small length of yarn and thread onto a needle. Pass the needle under the yarn wraps at the top of the cardboard and tie the two ends in a knot to secure. Cut through the bottom wraps of the tassel and snip off the starting knot.

Cut another length of yarn and wrap it tightly around the tassel, approx 2cm from the top, to form the head. Thread the yarn end onto a needle and insert it down inside the head wraps. Trim the end to the same length as the tassel. Trim the ends of the tassel to neaten the edges.

Make one tassel in yellow, one in orange and two in blue.

Make the medium pompoms
Draw a ring onto a piece of cardboard, 5cm in diameter, with a hole in the centre that’s 2cm in diameter.

Wind your yarn into tiny balls that are small enough to push through the narrow hole at the centre of your cardboard rings.

Hold the two cardboard rings together and wrap your yarn around them, threading it through the centre and working all around the cardboard until it’s covered by several layers of yarn.

Once the rings are covered, insert a pair of scissors between the two pieces of card and carefully cut the yarn around the edge of the rings. Try to ensure none of the yarn slips out of position as you do this.

Cut a separate length of yarn and knot it tightly around the middle of the bundle of yarn between the two rings. Ease the rings off the pompom and fluff up the yarn. Trim any uneven bits with scissors.

Make one medium pompom in yellow, one in orange and one in blue.
Trim into a spherical shape, approx 4cm in diameter.

Make the small pompoms
Use a standard fork to make the small pompoms. Wrap the yarn around the outer edge of all four prongs of the fork, the prongs should be approx 3cm apart. Then knot a length of yarn around the middle of the wraps. Cut into the loops on both sides and then trim into a spherical shape.
Make two small pompoms in yellow, two in orange and two in blue.
Trim into a spherical shape, approx 3cm in diameter.

Make the tiny pompoms
Use a standard fork to make the tiny pompoms. Wrap the yarn around three prongs of the fork, the prongs should be approx 1.5cm apart. Then tie a length of yarn around the middle of the wraps. Cut into the loops on both sides and then trim into a spherical shape. Make four tiny pompoms in yellow, four in orange and four in blue.
Trim into a spherical shape, approx 1.5cm in diameter.

Make the bunting string
Using Ecru and a 4mm hook, make a chain the length that you’d like your bunting to be. Fasten off and weave in ends.Then sew the tassels, medium pompoms and small pompoms in place onto the chain length.

This is what I did: Using Ecru and a 4mm hook, ch6, ss to first ch (to form hanging loop), ch50, join blue tassel in the last chain you made, ch25, join small orange pompom, ch25, join medium yellow pompom, ch25, join small blue pompom, ch25, join orange tassel, ch25, join small yellow pompom, ch25, join medium blue pompom, ch25, join small orange pompom, ch25, join yellow tassel, ch25, join small blue pompom, ch25, join medium orange pompom, ch25, join small yellow pompom, ch25, join blue tassel, ch50, place marker, ch6, ss to marked chain (to form other hanging loop). Remove marker. Fasten off and weave in ends.

Make the fringing
Cut eight lengths of Ecru yarn, approx 13cm long.
Take one length of yarn and fold it in half. Count 8 chains to the right of where you attached the blue tassel.
In the 9th chain, attach the first length of fringing yarn. To do this, insert a 4mm hook into the chain, loop the yarn length over the hook and pull back through the fabric. Pull the yarn through to make a loop next to the hook. Pass the ends of the yarn through this loop. Pull tight to secure.
Attach the remaining 7 lengths of fringing yarn in the next 7 chains.

Repeat this process in each gap between the pompoms and tassels (12 areas of fringing altogether).
Trim any uneven lengths of yarn for a neat finish.

Sew the 12 tiny pompoms to the bunting string, positioning each one at the centre of each fringing area. Attach the tiny yellow pompoms between the blue and orange decorations, the tiny blue pompoms between the yellow and orange decorations, and the tiny orange pompoms between the yellow and blue decorations.

Weave in any remaining ends and hang up.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2015 in Crochet, Other Crafts

 

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Review & resolutions

All in all, it’s been a pretty good year for Make Me Do. Some posts have been surprisingly popular while others have flown under the radar somewhat. I didn’t quite manage my posting once-a-week aim, but 37 posts out of 52 is pretty good.

Since I posted a review of 2013 at the start of last year, I felt like I should stick with tradition and review 2014. From a strictly numbers-based perspective, my most popular posts have been for my peaked baker boy hat patterns, whether that’s sewn like this one

Denim hat © Becky Skuse

Denim hat © Becky Skuse

Or knitted, like this one

Baker boy hat

Baker boy hat

I love the shape and style of these hats and I like the idea that there could be people walking around wearing a hat made from one of my patterns! You can buy both patterns here. I’d really like to make a crochet version of the hat so I think I’ll make that my first crafty resolution of 2015.

One of my favourite makes, personally, in 2014 was this laundry bag, which makes me smile every morning when I wake up…

Laundry bag

Laundry bag

I have the pattern for this bag on my ‘to post’ list so I think I’ll make that my next resolution for 2015, alongwith plenty of other patterns I’ve got ready to post.

Another popular post has been my Doggy doorstop and you can now buy the pattern here

Doggy doorstop

Doggy doorstop

Talking of cute crafty makes, I loved making this crochet amigirumi bear, which I called ‘Cookie’…

Cookie bear waving

Cookie bear waving

Cookie happily sits on a shelf next to me when I’m sat on the sofa in the evenings – he’s no trouble and always has a smile on his face.

Back to the numbers and apparently, the most popular day on my blog in 2014 was in May, when I posted the step-by-step on hairpin crochet

Hairpin Step 11

Hairpin crochet

So in 2015, I’ll try to do a few more technical guides. Any requests?

I think three resolutions is a good start, so here goes for 2015…

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2015 in Crochet, Knitting, Sewing

 

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