Inspiration Hunting

Cute Notebooks Make All Ideas Better …

 
While my patterns are winging their way to me, and I am hanging around the postbox like a sad puppy waiting for a bone, I am trying to content myself with gathering inspiration for my three potential new makes! And what better place to gather inspiration than in these cute new Caroline Gardner notebooks that I found?

After the buying and stashing of fabric, the purchase of stationery in the form of pretty notebooks in all shapes and sizes is my primary guilty pleasure. I’m rarely sure what I will put in them when I buy them, but I simply can’t resist! These notebooks however are destined for greatness – they are to be filled with all the glorious sewing and blogging ideas I can muster, ready to be realised at a moment’s notice.

To fill them though – I need ideas! And where do ideas come from?

Here are my go to sources of inspiration when I am stuck in a rut:

Pinterest and Instagram: It has to be said! The beauty of the interweb means there are thousands of ideas available to be pinned for later and retrieved when the mood is right! It’s practically enough to make my notebook redundant … *theatrical gasp*.

Sewing Magazines: As much as I credit the interweb with my being able to learn to sew at all, I still love some paper-bound inspiration! I love the feel of curling up on the couch with a new sewing magazine and opening it up to all the colours, bright pictures and projects to tackle. I always come away with a giant wish list of fabrics and an insatiable itch to stitch! My top picks of the sewing magazines coming to a post soon!

Sewing Books: I’ve mentioned before that I really got my start in sewing through the purchase of a couple of really lovely beginner friendly books. I still return to these to re-make patterns that I love or to re-visit a technique. Sometimes just having a flick through the pictures is enough to kick start the imagination or to remind you of an idea you’ve forgotten!

Blogs: Reading about others’ experiences is an exceptional source of information and a treasure trove of ideas to be mined! It’s great to see how different sewists tackle the same pattern and to understand the process that they went through to reach the finished article. When I’m stuck on fabric choices, notions, colours or a pattern step, Blogs are where I go to first!

The Fabric Store: Although I’m normally a “to-do list” type person with a fairly organised life, sewing is one of the areas where I like to allow myself to run amok! So many of my creations (Vespa Print Cushions for example!) come from seeing a fabric that I love in the fabric store and coming up with creative ways to make use of it!

Spotted Styles: One of the things I love most about sewing is being able to walk down the street, see an outfit you love, and think, “hmmm I could make that top, but with THIS fabric, in THIS colour, with THIS binding” etc …. Once you’ve been sewing for a while, before you know it you’ll be assessing techniques, fabrics and having pattern associations for every cool outfit you see. It’s so good to be able to copy something you like, but be able to do it your way and with a unique twist!

Wardrobe Gaps: Taking a moment to re-assess your wardrobe is a great way of working out what to sew next. That morning when you wake up thinking, “I wish I had a pencil skirt in tweed to wear with a tucked in blouse” normally results in pattern and fabric purchasing and a weekend packed with sewing delight!

Completed Projects: Whenever I complete a project, I immediately start thinking of other things I want to sew. Often it is the same pattern, and I’m thinking, “next time it will be BLUE with contrast lining and additional buttons and I could add a pocket and ooh ….”. I really need to get in the habit of writing those moments down so that I can use them when I re-visit a pattern I’ve made before!

Failed Projects: Believe it or not, a failed project can be just as good a source of inspiration as a successfully completed project. It’s great to take away learning on fabric choices, technique and fitting and think about how you will do better next time. Admittedly, in the moment you might be kicking yourself and thinking, “I am never sewing a (delete as appropriate) dress/with jersey/a button hole/bias binding/facing/pin tuck/quilt/miniature dinosaur again, but after a cuppa and a trip outside, you’ll be bubbling with ideas for how to do it better next time!

So there you have it, my go to places when I’m stumped for an idea of what Amy should make next! Where do you look when you are feeling stumped? Is there a cave of inspiration treasure out there that I have been missing out on? I’d love to know!

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How to Choose a Sewing Machine … The Amy Way

It’s what you make … not what you’ve got 🙂

When I decided that I wanted to start sewing, in a typically Amy fashion, I wanted to start sewing immediately! I was so excited at the prospect of something new to learn, I just wanted to run out, grab a machine and give it a spin. There is so much great advice out there online, and none of it said what I wanted to hear, which was “pick a machine, they’re all just fine, just order one online and go for it!”. Needless to say, I ignored all of the advice available to me, and yet here I am, still happily sewing!

Here are the things I learnt by choosing a sewing machine the “Amy way”:

1) Whichever machine you buy for your first machine, it will be the best decision you could have made, knowing what you knew at the time that you bought it! No regrets!

2) All sewing machines sew … some of them might make learning to sew slightly more seam ripper heavy, but fundamentally, you can sew stuff!

3) You can buy a really cheap machine and still sew some quite cool stuff – you just really need it to have different feet. The real essential – a zipper foot!

4) You don’t absolutely have to test a sewing machine before buying one. If you don’t know anything about sewing with a really nice machine, you won’t know any different!

5) For the majority of projects you need a straight stitch and a zig zag stitch. Unless you buy a Hello Kitty toy children’s machine, whichever machine you choose, it will do that. (Hell, I may even be doing Hello Kitty a disservice – those machines might do that too!) Do not get distracted by all of the fancy stitches on more expensive models – they are fun but rarely used!

6) Having a machine that happily sews both forwards and backwards will improve your sewing life drastically. This was one of the great failings of my first machine and one of the things I love most about my upgrade. It didn’t stop me sewing though!

7) Know your machine’s limitations and when it will be time for an upgrade. When I started I wasn’t making a lifetime investment, I was testing something out that I thought I might enjoy. When I knew I would enjoy it, and I knew what kind of sewing I enjoyed, THEN I made my lifetime investment!

8) Do your absolute best not to be distracted by pretty coloured casings (I know how hard that can be!). Both my sewing machines have been white and funnily enough it makes no different to the outcome of my sewing projects!

If you are looking for a machine right now, I wish you lots of excitement and fun with your new toy! If you already have a machine, I’d love to hear about how you chose your first!

New Pattern Excitement!

My minimalistic pattern collection …

So … this is my current sewing pattern collection … pretty minimalistic huh? What I love about this collection is it actually contains a good few key pieces, from trousers to tops, to a couple of skirts and jackets. I find Simplicity Patterns really work well for me in terms of sizing and fit, and they can be slightly more generous on the cut than some of the Indie patterns out there which is nice for a fuller figure.

Until now I have been supplementing this collection with some really handy sewing books … Tilly and the Buttons’ Love at First Stitch was the first sewing book that I bought and I loved the fact that it had pattern pieces with achievable projects which made me feel like I could actually do this sewing thing! More on Tilly’s book in a review coming soon …

In addition to the books, as you may have already noticed, I’m also a big fan of the online free pattern. There is so much out there with some great video tutorials and a community of people to help you when you get stuck! It’s almost as if I’d never need to buy a pattern … until today!

Earlier this week I signed up for my first real face to face sewing class (just a teeny bit excited – wheeeee!) and for that class I need to choose a pattern. I’m looking for something challenging enough that I can get the most out of having supervision to hand, but not something so challenging that I feel despondent/can’t get it finished in the 16 hours of class we have.

So I went shopping … for one pattern … and ended up with three! This is partly due to the fact that I made a fantastic discovery! Living in Germany, I’d always been put off by the latest Indie patterns, with the exchange rate being as it is and delivery costs and customs costs all adding up. Today however I discovered UrbanCut Indie Patterns – a great German website stocking ByHandLondon and Sewaholic. I also discovered a German stockist of some of Tilly’s older patterns, as well as separate stockist of Collette patterns.

My three patterns of choice were:

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Moneta by Collette patterns

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 Coco by Tilly and the Buttons

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 and the Charlotte Skirt by ByHandLondon.

I am no closer to choosing which of these I should go with for my sewing class … all I know is that I am super excited to start thinking fabric and notions!

Which pattern do you think I should pick for my sewing course? Have you made, Coco, Moneta or Charlotte and have any hints or tips? I would love to hear from you!

A few of my favourite printable patterns ….

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Hi there!

This will be an ongoing post which I will update regularly with my favourite free printable patterns online – many of which are fantastic for beginner sewists!

You’ll see me mention a few of these in my Blog Posts when I get to making them up!

Many many thanks to the wonderful people who publish these free patterns – I have learnt so much from the very generous online sewing community!

I’d love to hear how you get on making some of these!

Sew Sew Easy Cosmetic Bag: You have got to love Debbi from Sew Sew Easy and her free cosmetic bag pattern and youtube tutorial. This was one of my first makes and I still make it up regularly!

BirchFabrics Elephant Tutorial: Ernest! Oh Ernest the Elephant! This one is a fan’s favourite!

Dave The Dachshund: One of many fantastic free patterns that SewMag has to offer! Definitely worth printing and making up a couple as gifts (or to keep you company while sewing!)

Jelly Roll Jam Quilt: If you’re thinking of dabbling in the world of quilting, the Fat Quarter Shop’s Jelly Roll Jam and Jelly Roll Jam II are a great place to start!

Baby Dino: Kristen’s BabyDino pattern is a simple sew with good results and a super cute gender neutral baby gift!

Sorbetto Top: I am yet to sew Colette Pattern’s new Sorbetto top, but I LOVE the shape and versatility! I can’t wait to sew it up … coming to a Blog Post near you soon!

Polly Top: Thanks ByHandLondon … can’t wait to get this one printed and stitched! So versatile!

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Would you like to know where I found a pattern, what type of fabric I used, or how many cups of tea went in to a make? I’m also happy to discuss any custom orders or projects! Write to me – I’m friendly!

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E-mail: amyjuneburrows@me.com
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Ernest the Elephant

Ernest’s tail is always at a jaunty angle …

Hi there! Meet Ernest …

Ernest is made from the BirchFabrics Free Pattern and Tutorial and he’s a super quick and fun sew! I made Ernest in a couple of hours after work and he makes some nice relaxing sewing where you don’t have to think too hard! This pattern is an excellent pattern for beginners, with really simple to follow instructions, and if you take your time with the finishing you can get a great result! I used a quarter inch patchwork foot on my machine to help with the tiny seams and it really made a difference! I would definitely recommend it!

Look my ears even stand up!

Although I’ve chosen to make Ernest up in a classic grey spot I think he’d also look great in florals, or even patchwork! I’m imagining up a whole family of Ernests which could be made, all with contrast colour ears of course!

Ernest is destined to be a baby gift for a colleague at work … I can’t wait to give him to her! I wonder what will be next on my baby toy list …. a Hippo maybe?!

Have any of you made a Birch Fabrics Henry and Holger set? I would love to see your fabric choices and colour combinations!

Vespas … On Cushions … Why not?

On Saturday I went fabric shopping … with no particular project in mind! First cardinal rule broken right there, but any how! I thought I would have a little peruse and see if I could find any bargains, and find a bargain I did. I don’t think many people would say they went out shopping specifically looking for Vespa photo print fabric, but when you see it, you just can’t say no! 100% cotton and reduced to EUR 7/m – it had to be mine! To top it off, the gentleman behind the till gave me an additional 10% off for my additional enthusiasm, so it was definitely worth it.

Vespas and glamorous Italian women – what could go wrong?

I immediately thought that cushions might be quite a funky project to make with this fabric and on returning home I sized up a pair of sad looking cushions on our sofa for a makeover. Amazingly from 60cm of fabric I had enough to do two cushions with envelope closures and still have enough fabric left over for a wash bag of some sort … (now I just need to find somebody who would like to receive a Vespa print wash bag as a gift!)

Cushion one – slightly regretting the prominent placement of glamorous Italian lady!

So here is the final product …. I’m actually really pleased with how these turned out, even if they might not actually match our current decor and are a bit off the wall! I managed to get the sizing spot on, which is definite progress considering I didn’t have a pattern, take any measurements or follow any instructions. To be honest, I think some of the quality of the finish of these has to be attributed to the fabric. At an original price of a stonking EUR 25/m, you could really tell the difference in the pressing and sewing.

They certainly cheer up our old sofa anyway! And they will definitely be coming to our new home!

A pair of handmade Italian photo print Vespa cushions … not going to find them in Ikea!

What about you? Have you made any ridiculous impulse fabric purchases recently? What did you make out of them?

Behold! Dave the Dachshund is here!

Hi! Meet Dave – trusty sewing companion and latest creation! Initially created to serve as a pin-cushion, Dave has turned out to be too cute to stab pins in to! Now he just rides around in my sewing trolley, looking cool!

Dave was made using SewMag’s free printable floral Dave the Dachshund pattern – believe it or not he is only three pattern pieces and a really quick sew! I came a bit unstuck at first as I hadn’t realized that you need to cut a body+belly piece as well as just a belly piece – so this is second time lucky Dave, with original Dave’s ears! Thank goodness I had some spare fabric! Poor PB was also involved as we both read and re-read the instructions and had a good head scratching moment until all was revealed! Once that happened he came together in a flash – I might even make a few more as gifts!

Just a quick side note – the pattern suggests buttons for his eyes … For some reason all the buttons I had made him look really creepy! So I just stitched these in with embroidery thread – and bonus points, no buttons = child friendly!

Tonight on my sewing list – a stuffed elephant as a baby gift for a work colleague! After that I will slow down on the cuddly toys for a while!

How about you, do you like making toys as gifts? Any recommendations for other great stuffy toy makes?!

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Dave … Standing proud on the couch …

Hello world!

Feeling Crafty in my Flower Crown

Hi there! I’m Amy – budding seamstress-come-crafter of MakeAmyMake! I took up sewing about a year ago whilst on the hunt for a new hobby – “something creative but not fattening” (bye bye macaroon baking!) Considering I was of the firm belief that I would not be a talented sewist, I have made more progress than I could have imagined! I started with trusty Sy the IKEA sewing machine and have since upgraded to Albertina – my Pfaff Ambition Essential. Since starting to sew I have dabbled in clothing, quilting, soft toys and home decor and absolutely love to share my makes! One day I dream of an Etsy store … But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves!

Looking excited to get my upgrade!

In my non- sewing time I work full time for a multi-national organization and live with the ever patient PB in a one bedroom flat in Frankfurt, Germany which is now overflowing with fabric! We are counting down to moving in to our new build project next year – a space with a spare room for me and my creations!

If you are interested in following my progress as I broaden my skills and snip through my fabric stash, as well as getting a round up of some of the coolest free printable patterns on the web, then this is the place for you! You can also follow me on Instagram @amyjune2015 …

Thanks for stopping by – it’s good to have you here!