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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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Crochet purse

As a multi-craft lover, my favourite projects are ones that bring together different techniques to make something that would never be possible using just one craft. So I was excited to be able to combine crochet and sewing recently, to make this sparkly little purse for Simply Crochet magazine:

Sparkly clutch

Sparkly clutch

One of the most common questions that new crocheters ask me is about how to line their makes with fabric. It’s not hard, it just takes a bit of basic sewing knowledge and practice. So I helped to put together a feature to help explain how to do it for Simply Crochet issue 39, which is on sale now.

After reading the feature, it’s easy to tackle this little purse pattern, which I think would be great for parties over Christmas and New Year:

Party clutch

Party clutch

I used a sparkly black and silver yarn from Marriner (Sparkly DK in Black) and went for an open, lacy scallop effect, which I think is really pretty.

But the sneaky thing about this purse is that I double lined it, so that the red fabric is visible on the outside, but inside there’s a much lighter fabric – I find this is essential to finding the item you want out of your purse, especially in a darkened room:

Inside the purse

Inside the purse

The key to achieving the effect is the zip, which is the dividing line between the two sides of the fabric. I like to sew a zip in place by hand – I just find I get a cleaner finish than doing it on a machine, plus if you have a crochet layer as well then hand sewing is the only way to go.

Sewing a zip in place can be fiddly (especially with a double lining!), but it’s worth it for the professional-looking finish. I’m really pleased with how it turned out and I hope you like it too! 🙂

Attach the zip

Attach the zip

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2015 in Crochet, Sewing

 

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Make: Doggy doorstop

You may have noticed that I’m something of an animal lover. I think many people are, and this might explain why one of my most popular makes has been a doggy doorstop that I made back in 2012.

Doggy doorstop

Doggy doorstop

Well, I’ve finally got round to putting together the pattern, and he’s the main attraction of my new Etsy shop!

The new shop is at www.etsy.com/uk/shop/MakeMeDo

He’s a fairly straightforward make, so I’m surprised that the pattern runs to 21 pages! That includes loads of diagrams and photos though, and the template pieces, and I’ve given all the instructions plenty of space (I hate when patterns are cramped).

This little guy is such a cutie, he’s been holding our kitchen door open for almost three years now and he makes me smile every day…

Dog doorstop in situ

Dog doorstop in situ

 

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2015 in Sewing

 

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Beside the seaside

I’ve been dreaming of being at the seaside recently, making crochet pinwheels and trying to draw different shell shapes. But it’s culminated in sewing this pretty seaside wreath:

Seaside wreath

Seaside wreath

I just used a sewing pattern given to me by a friend some time ago (I’m not even sure where it came from, sorry!) and used two dainty white and blue prints, for a summery feel.

Seaside lifesaver

Seaside lifesaver

I’ve called it my lifesaver because when I made it, I was really struggling to get through the summer. That might sound a bit odd to most people but being a freelancer, I tend to be really busy with work over the summer covering everyone else’s holidays! Making this reminded me of happy days by the seaside and helped me to be patient, waiting for my turn to have a holiday.

I fussy cut the blue segments and tried to make it so that each one would have a different animal motif from the print: a dog, a cat, a butterfly and a chicken. I think this works better on one side than the other and as luck would have it, I’ve taken these photos from the less good side!

The pattern is just segments sewn into a tube, which you stuff and sew the ends together. It was pretty simple and took me one rainy Sunday afternoon while listening to Johnnie Walker’s Sounds of the 70s show of BBC Radio 2 – I find the retro grooves are great for keeping me motivated!

What music do you like to listen to when you’re making? And have you ever made a ‘lifesaver’ to get you through hard times?

Woof woof!

Woof woof!

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2015 in Sewing

 

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Make: Rainy day bag

I made this simple oilcloth shopping bag almost 3 years ago and it’s still going strong, carrying my lunchbox and shopping to and from work every day.

Now you can get the pattern to make your own oilcloth shopping bag by visiting my Etsy shop for MakeMeDo here.

Oilcloth shopping bag

Oilcloth shopping bag

The A4 pdf pattern includes detailed diagrams and text to make it easy for you to make. Designed for confident beginners, the bag involves sewing with oilcloth (which is easier than you might think), topstitching, sewing poppers, making and attaching straps, and slip stitching by hand.

The finished bag measures 28cm wide x 34cm high x 10cm deep, with straps that hang down by 32cm, but you can easily adjust it to make it the size you need.

Shopping bag diagram

Shopping bag diagram

To make the bag, you will also need:
• 58x110cm oilcloth fabric (I used Rose Bouquet by Joel Dewberry)
• 40x60cm lining fabric (I used solid white)
• Two poppers (any size)
• Matching and/or contrasting cotton thread
• Sewing machine
• Hand-sewing needle

Sewing with oilcloth isn’t as tricky as you might think, these are the key points to remember:
• Oilcloth can be slippery, so just take your time.
• To maintain the waterproofing abilities of oilcloth, be careful not to puncture it with pins while you’re working. Try using sewing clips instead. If you do use pins, insert them only within the seam allowance edge so your bag is still waterproof.
• Be careful not to iron the oilcloth directly because this can melt the laminate coating. Instead, place a piece of spare fabric over the oilcloth and then apply the iron, but only briefly.

13 finished bag

Inside finished bag

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2015 in Sewing

 

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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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Simple sewn mats

You might remember that we redecorated our bedroom in July, and I got busy crafting little extras to make it truly ours. Maybe you even remember this photo of our windowsill:

Bedroom temporary plant mat

Bedroom temporary plant mat

Yes, that was a spare oven mitt being used as a plant mat, to protect the wooden windowsill that I’d very carefully painted. Well, I’m happy to tell you that the oven mitt is back in its kitchen drawer, where it should be, because we’ve made a whole windowsill full of pretty, sewn mats:

Six simply sewn windowsill mats

Six simply sewn windowsill mats

The best thing about this sewing project is that all six mats were made by both me and Jonny (the other/better half). We had chosen the fabric together, I’d cut all the pieces and threaded the sewing machine – I was all ready to get started by myself when (as a joke) I asked him whether he might be interested in learning to sew by doing the first (easiest) sewing stage on the mats. To my surprise, he said: “Yeah, I’ll give it a go.” I was surprised and delighted in equal measure!

I think his willingness was, in part, due to a television programme that we’d watched the night before. The BBC do a show called The Great British Sewing Bee, which I really enjoy. Well, they did a series of three charity specials recently, for Children in Need, with celebrities – some of whom were men (some of whom were pretty good). We watched it together and I think seeing other men sewing had made it acceptable for him to do the same.

So I pinned two pieces right sides together and showed him the basics of using the machine, backstitching, sewing in a straight line, turning a corner and leaving a turning gap. And he was really good. He’s not too fond of any task that is “tedious and repetitive”, so his attention span only stretched to doing three mats before he had to have a break. But he came back and sewed the other three. He also helped me turn them all through to the right side and then I just added the wadding and did the topstitching to finish them off. Here’s one a little closer:

Side 1: beige flower fabric

Side 1: beige flower fabric

We made them so that they have a different fabric on each side and each one has a different feel. Sometimes I’m in the mood for the beige side with its delicate little white and blue flowers. Other times, I crave the visual stimulation of the blue side with its geometric patterns:

Side 2: Blue fabric

Side 2: Blue fabric

So far, we’ve got the best of both by having some of the mats on one side and some on the other side. It’s really lovely to have a few different handmade items decorating our new bedroom, but what’s makes these mats even more special is knowing that we made them together. They’re the product of a crafty romance 🙂

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2014 in Sewing

 

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