Saturday, 30 August 2014

Elephants :: Prints

This months elephants are elephant prints.


1. Lovely colourful image with lovely flower detail in the foreground.
2. Simple monochrome design with foliage
3. The black elephant really stands out but when you look closer you see the other elephants behind it.
4. Another monochrome design this time with a busier background.
5. Another colourful image, this time with green and orange
6. A simple design of the head only in just two colours.
7. The lines in the background really draw your eyes to the elephant
8. Another image using just two colours - white and orange this time with an more embellished elephant
9. A more naive drawing of an elephant, again using just one colour on a white background.

For more images of printed elephants visit my Elephants board on Pinterest.

All links above are to Pinterest as a number of the items pictured are no longer available at their original link.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Inspiration :: Art Nouveau Riga

After dodging the rail showers yesterday, the sun came out in Riga today allowing us to walk round Riga looking at the Art Nouveau decorated buildings.

There were so many motifs of different designs - here are some of my favourites.


Joining up the order I took the pictures in with the walking tour info in the guide book I believe the buildings these motifs were taken from are as follows ...

1. Smilsu iela 8, Riga.
2. Smilsu iela 2, Riga.
3. Elizabetes iela 10b, Riga.
4. Elizabetes iela 10b, Riga
5. Riga Graduate School of Law, Alberta iela 13, Riga.
6. Riga Graduate School of Law, Alberta iela 13, Riga.
7. Alberta iela 4, Riga.
8. Alberta iela 2a, Riga.
9. Riga Graduate School of Law, Alberta iela 13, Riga.

Meanwhile here are some wide angles of the facades of the buildings.


1. I think this might be at Skunu iela 10/12 but can't be sure ...
2. Stockholm School of Economics, Strelnieku iela 4a, Riga.
3. Smilsu iela 8, Riga.
4. Alberta iela 4, Riga.
5. Alberta iela 13, Riga.
6. Alberta iela 2a, Riga.

Not enough Art Nouveau for you? Well here's some more - windows, doors and iron work. My favourite is the dragonfly railing (number 8) this motif may well be making its way into some of my designs soon.


1. Elizabetes iela 10b, Riga.
2. Elizabetes iela 10b, Riga.
3. Alberta iela 4, Riga.
4. Elizabetes iela 10b, Riga.
5. Alberta iela 4, Riga.
6. Elizabetes iela 10b, Riga.
7. Elizabetes iela 10b, Riga.
8. Alberta iela 4, Riga.

9. I think this might be at Skunu iela 10/12 but can't be sure ...


Are there any beautiful buildings out there that you take inspiration from for your designs?

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Tutorial :: Bead loom bracelet

I love working with a bead loom and I'm currently working through some designs and products to add to my shop. In the meantime I thought I'd share a tutorial that I started putting together ages ago for my previous blog but never got round to publishing.

The materials you need are:
A bead loom - you can get one like this from Amazon (not an affiliate link) 
Beads of your choice - I'm using some short bugle beads 
A beading tray - I use a top of something like a tub of Pringles or Bisto
Beading needle, beading thread, scissors, tape measure
The finishing technique I'm using has a bead to fasten the bracelet.


The first step is to cut the warp threads for your loom - these are the ones that go lengthways in your weaving. The length should be the circumference of your wrist plus about 20cm at either end to allow you to secure the bracelet to the loom.

You should cut one more warp thread than you have beads across the width of your bracelet. The bracelet I'm going to make is five beads wide so I cut 6 warp threads.

Knot the warp threads together at both ends and loop the knot over the loom with an even number of threads ether side.


Loop the other end of the warp threads over the other end of the loom. Tighten one end. Then roll any excess length of warp thread round the other roller and tighten.


Use the beading needle to space out the warp threads. You should space out the warp threads to the size of your beads. This may mean leaving a gap in the spacer between threads.


Right, almost done with the set up. Time to add the weft thread which is the one that goes across the warp thread. Simple secure it with a knot to the left hand warp thread. Thread the needle and pass the thread under the warp threads so the needle is on the right hand side.


Woohoo. Time to add some beads. Thread the required number of beads onto your weft thread - in this case it is five beads.
Push them down the thread to the knot and them push them between the warp threads from underneath so they just peak through.


To secure the beads in place you need to pass the needle over the top of the warp threads. This can be a bit tricky but it is important to take time over otherwise your beading will be loose.


Repeat the previous couple of steps - it's great seeing your length of beadwork grow.


Depending on your length of beadwork you may need to move it along your loom. Just loosen the rollers and turn the beadwork to give you space to continue your work. You should angle your complete beading to one side of the roller so that the pin doesn't pucker the beading. Once you've done this tighten your rollers again to give then tension on the warp threads you need to work.

Another thing to note in this image is that I've changed the weft thread. All you need to do when you've used your weft thread is knot it to a warp thread and attach a new one as in the earlier step.


Right you've beaded to the right length. Time to finish off - first fasten off the weft thread by tying a simple knot to the left hand warp thread.


Loosen the rollers and take your beadwork off the loom. Your beadwork will look something like this - threads everywhere. Now for the boring bit - sewing all those threads into the beading.


Firstly sew in the weft threads. To sew in the threads just pass the threaded needle through the beadwork.


Secure by stopping half way through a row and then knotting on the warp thread before finishing passing the thread through the rest of the row.


Now time to add your fastening. I'm adding a bead an loop fastening. At one end of the beadwork take the two central warp threads and thread your needle. This can be quite tricky with a beading needle - it is sometime easier to pass one thread, then the other through the eye of the needle.

To add this fastening thread on three of the beads from your bracelet then a larger bead then one further smaller bead. 


Pass the needle back through the bead starting with the large bead. Sew in the warp threads to secure the fastening.


Sew in all the other warp threads to finish this end of the bracelet.


OK, now for the other end. Again, pick the central two warp threads and thread the needle. Pick up about three beads then drop one of the threads. Add on some more beads - enough to create a loop large enough for your large bead to pass through, but not so large as the bead will slip through. 


Once you've created the loop with one thread, fasten it off in the beadwork and then pick up the other thread. Pass this through the loop in the opposite direction to the way you worked the previous one - this is to strengthen the loop. Again fasten this into the beadwork.


Sew in all the other warp threads. When you've sewn in the ends you should carefully trim these as close to the beadwork as possible.


And there you go, one beautiful beaded bracelet.



Sunday, 17 August 2014

Inspiration :: Finnish design

If you follow me on Pinterest you would have possibly guessed what my Finnish design inspiration is...
I'm in Helsinki on the first stop of my holiday that will take in Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - I'm not the kind of person who goes on holiday to lie on a beach.

Anyway, I hope to see some things on my trip that will inspire me. On my only previous visit to Helsinki I 'discovered' Marimekko. Discovered in the sense it was new to me, but obviously it's been around for ages.

So here are some of their designs that caught my eye on Pinterest when I searched for 'Marimekko' -don't you just love the bold colours and patterns?


2. Taapeli design, repinned from Marimekko's own Pinterest boards
3. Blue dotty design (can't find the name for this) again taken from Marimekko's Pinterest boards
4. Bright line drawn florals no name attributed, but from Marimekko's Pinterest boards
5. Melooni, repinned from Marimekko's Pinterest boards
6. Classic Unikko poppy I even saw a lady walking round Helsinki wearing a jacket with this print
7. Another variation on the Unikko poppy, I just love the calm colours. Have a look at the 50 years of Unikko pages to see loads of other variations
8. Kultakero love the hills, the trees and the colours in this design
9. Lakia again repinned from Marimekko's boards, this reminds me a bit of some of the lovely Africa textiles I see out and about in and around Peckham

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Tutorial :: Wrapped Bracelets

By the time this is published I will be in the air somewhere over Northern Europe on my way to Helsinki for the first stop in my holiday. Before I left I made these bright and beautiful bracelets - below is a tutorial for how to create them.


A while ago I bought some very cheap bracelets from Primark with the thought of crocheting around them. They've been sitting in my stash for at least 18 months until one day recently I just wanted a little project to do whilst watching some telly. I selected some colourful crochet cotton from my stash - you could also use embroidery floss or thin yarn.

Here's how I made the red one:

All you need is the bracelet you want to wrap, the thread you want to use, a needle and a pair of embroidery scissors.


Tie a knot to secure the thread.


Wrap the thread round making sure that you also wrap round the loose end (hold it on the inside of the bracelet). Its easier to do this if you just cut a length of thread but the difficulty is not knowing how long the thread needs to be. So although it takes a bit longer I pass the spool through the centre of the bracelet on each wrap.


Once you've wrapped the whole bracelet tie a knot to secure the thread. and weave in the ends with the needle - do this on the inside of the bracelet.


For the red bracelet I wrapped it again in a contrasting thread to create a criss cross pattern.


Once again knot the thread to secure and weave in the ends on the inside of the bracelet. Trim all the loose ends.


What about the other designs in the first picture?

  • The yellow and orange bracelet was created by alternate wraps in each colour
  • The green one was created by wrapping portions of the bracelet in each colour - rather than join and sew in the ends each time the colour was changed just carry the thread not in use along on the inside of the bracelet wrapping over for each pass through until you are ready to change colours again.
  • The blue one was created using a different style of bracelet that already had twists in its design. The wrapping here was laid in the twists and used two contrasting colours.

I think they look great together and were a lot simpler to create than crocheting them. I still have a few bracelets left from the pack I bought so do you have any other recommendations for jazzing them up a little?

Friday, 15 August 2014

Finished make :: Cat Tent

Alongside the sewing adventures I've been having I've also had time to finally make a cat tent! 
Inspired by Pinterest my other half happily donated one of his old I ❤ NYC t-shirts and proceeded to watch as I gave myself a blister trying to open up the wire coat hangers for the tent frame.

What I did find with the inspiration pin and others I looked through was that they didn't really give instructions on how to secure the t-shirt to the frame once you'd constructed it. I decided to go with some safety pins along the back to close the opening and some more on the side to keep the arms secure.

Because we know our cat likes to sit on piles of our clothes - I've had to re-wash loads of clean laundry several times because I've carelessly left them somewhere he can snuggle down on - I placed an old unwanted shirt in the bottom of the tent to encourage him in.

Here's the finished tent in use (the one and only time I've seen him use it):



Thursday, 14 August 2014

Finished make :: Lilou dress

My current sewing project is another pattern from Love At First Stitch - this time the Lilou dress.

This is still a bit of work in progress sewing the lining on the bodice. For this pattern I had to make some adaptations for the shoulder to underam length (I'm getting used to this now) this resulted in the scooped back being slightly more scooped than I would like but it still covers my bra so I figure it's OK.

I also had to go with one of the variations covered in the book because I didn't have quite enough fabric to make the proper Lilou pattern with the pleated skirt.

I just need to finish it before the weather takes a turn (although I could wear it with a turtle neck underneath in the winter ...)

The fabric once again is from John Lewis (I had a load of vouchers).


Whilst the lining was some crepe fabric I had in my stash - I had juuuuuust enough to make a lining.


Which is why I had to add a strip of the main fabric to cover the join between the lining and the skirt.


So this is where I've got to in my sewing adventure - any suggestions to what I should try next?

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Finished make :: Burda style top

I bought a copy of Burda Style magazine in May last year when I first thought about making more use of my sewing machine, but it wasn't until last month that I actually tried to make one of the patterns.

I picked a 'easy to sew, with simple features' pattern which I thought was about my level.


I thought rather than buy some woven trimming for the strap details that I would crochet something instead.

I found it quite difficult to sew this top - the instructions were quite basic - probably a bit too basic for someone who is still a bit of a novice. Some of the terms used weren't really explained eg 'edgestitch' - a bit of googling did help though.

I also had to make an adjustment to the pattern (like with the Sorbetto top due to my seemingly odd measurement from the shoulder to underarm) but that adjustment meant that where the strap needed to be secured at the front and back were not longer the same width so I ended up adding a fabric strap that was slimmer at one end than the other and stitching that in place. It's covered by the crochet detail so you can't really see this fix!

When it came to the final stages of adding the crochet detail to the straps I wasn't entirely happy with the crochet that I produced so had another attempt - what you can see in the finished pictures below. I'm not sure I'm still entirely happy but it's something I can easily replace as it is just hand stitched onto fabric straps.

And here's the final top:

And this is the crochet detail on the strap, just a simple fan pattern using some DK yarn.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Finished make :: Sorbetto tops

After making the Clémence skirt I had a break from sewing for a couple of weeks mostly because it took me that long to remember to print the Sorbetto top pattern out (with no scaling).

Judging from some of the pins on Pinterest I'm about 3 years late on the obsession with the Sorbetto top pattern by Colette patterns. But it doesn't matter - it's a great pattern and very easy to sew because the instructions are so clear.

The first one that I made I had to sew a few times because I wanted to add French seams at the shoulders and down the sides. I also had to make a couple of adaptations to make it fit around my breasts and underarm - I ended up adding another small dart to the pattern.

I discovered that my shoulder to underarm measurement is a couple of centimetres less than the standard pattern.

I learned about bias binding and made my own using this tutorial.

The fabric I used was some pre-cut cotton I bought from John Lewis £15 for 1.5 metres, it's about as thick as the cotton poplin that I used for the Clémence skirt.





And I loved the pattern so much I made a second one. This time using some cotton lawn, again from John Lewis costing about £5 per metre.

This time I tried the continuous method for making bias binding tape. This had a few more joins in it but is good if you only have small lengths of fabric left.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Finished make :: Clémence skirt

At the start of this week I posted that one of the reasons I hadn't blogged than much recently was due to catching the sewing bug.

Over the next few posts I'll share my sewing bug creations.

First up the Clémence skirt from Love At First Stitch

I skipped over the first couple of patterns in the book partly because I didn't want to faff about with a pattern. The great thing about this skirt was you created your own pattern.

I loved the photo tutorials and the explanations in the book.

The hardest part was the 'stitch in the ditch' technique to secure the waist band - at this point I wasn't very confident with my sewing machine or rather hadn't found the 'bite point' in the foot peddle to have good control over the speed.

The best thing about this pattern - learning about French seams - what a great idea to hide the raw edges.

The fabric I used was some cotton poplin I bought from John Lewis for about £6 a metre - I love the colour.

The only downside of the fabric was it has a bit of a rustle to it. I only had a standard zip rather than an invisible one so I used that. I even used the zip foot on my machine but found it tough to sew in neatly - I guess some more practice is required.

Here's the finished skirt:


Here you can see my 'stitching in the ditch' or rather you can't because it's so neat (on this bit anyway).


The only downside of this design is that I have curves and the gathering in this skirt seems to sit on my hips and flare out giving me a rather odd silhouette.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Update :: Were you wondering where I've been?

This past month it seems to have been one thing after another that has kept me from crafting / blogging:
1) a really nasty cold that meant I just didn't want to do anything
2) a busy time at my full time job meaning overtime and leading to just wanting to sit on the sofa doing nothing when I got home
3) my boyfriend not heading off to play football twice a week meaning I had to spend time with him rather than on crafting / blogging
4) I've developed a bit of a thing sewing for myself - I've made 1 skirt, 3 tops and I'm currently working on a dress thanks to Love At First Stitch.

And then this weekend with my boyfriend off on his travels meaning I actually have some time & space to do some blogging the internet stopped working. Not the whole internet, obviously, just my internet. Anyway and engineer came today spent a couple of hours replacing cables and I'm back!!!

I hope to spend the rest of this week taking some photos of what I have made so watch this space for more information.