Utensilios

On Monday I was fortunate enough to take a little trip to Berlin for work. While I was there, I decided to see if I could take advantage of the Berlin Hipster Scene and find a fabric store. Boy, did I find one! I stumbled across Frau Tulpe’s – the most wonderful store full of trinkets, goodies and fabrics. There will certainly be more on my adventure and purchases in the coming days, but in the meantime I wanted to show you something that my trip inspired me to whip up pretty much as soon as I stepped off the plane!

I bought this gorgeous fat quarter bundle of geometric prints. I’m really in to geometric stuff at the moment, and in addition to this we’ve just about settled on mustard and grey as the colour scheme for our lounge in our new apartment, so it was a bit like serendipity. The bundle was really reasonably priced and the fabric is fantastic quality. A pleasure to look at and to use – what more could you want?!

Not only does Frau Tulpe’s supply beautiful and unusual fabrics, they also have lots of handmade things on display. They seemed to be particular fans of little fabric baskets (also known as Utensilios). I decided that they could come in pretty handy for storage of all sorts, either in my craft room, or potentially in the living room. I decided that they really couldn’t be too complicated, and as luck would have it I found this YouTube tutorial, which will tell you how to make one in a matter of minutes. The tutorial is a bit twee, but it is incredibly beginner friendly and the steps are clear and concise. I wish I’d thought to make one of these as one of my first projects, I would have been delighted.

You only require two rectangles of fabric (20cm x 40cm) and one rectangle of interfacing (20cm x 40cm) and away you go. I chose to use the contrasting black and white geometric prints, as I think utensilios look coolest with a contrast flap! I am SO delighted with how it turned out – honestly probably a bit too delighted considering it’s just a little basket after all. However it did really work out just how I had imagined it in my head, which doesn’t always happen that way with crafting. It was just such a speedy and satisfying make! My only regret is not thinking to whip a label in to the side seam as I think that would have looked cool, but now I will know for next time!


I am now plotting utensilios in all manner of sizes and designs. I was sat at work today wondering if it would be weird to put one on my desk and put my stationery bits and bobs in it – or could weird become cool?! I am certainly going to make a much larger one to keep fabric scraps in. I think a few people may be receiving these as gifts too!

How about you – have you ever made a utensilio? Am I behind the times in discovering these little gems?!

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A New Quilt

It may have been quiet on the blog recently, but this does not mean I haven’t been sewing! In fact, I have mainly been spending my time on researching a new larger project which I have now set about tackling – a new quilt! I couldn’t help but be inspired by my trip to Quiltmanufaktur a couple of weeks ago and decided to set about a new quilt in a completely different style to what I have done previously. I love to work with pre-cuts, and I particularly love Andrea’s jelly rolls, so I stayed in that direction, but I decided this time to work mainly with white and more muted tones, rather than something super colourful!

I love some of the fabric in these jelly rolls – the prints are absolutely stunning. Some of them have line drawings with a lovely dress making theme, others quotes and writing. It’s one of the things that I love about patchwork is being able to include prints that I really enjoy and the effect of them popping up in little pieces all over the quilt. One of my particular favourites is one of the strips with line drawings of aeroplanes – every now and again a little aeroplane will pop up, but only if you look closely!

In the past I have done some super simple strip piecing, so I thought this time I would like to be a bit more adventurous with my blocks. Most of them have turned out quite well so far – I love the effect! I did have one disaster, which surprisingly I didn’t even notice until the day after. Can you see it?


I’ve realised now where I went wrong … I’d cut my triangles in the wrong direction. After getting the seam ripper out I could salvage half of it at least! The rest I will save for a matching cushion cover made out of all of the left over scraps! Here’s a sneak peek of some of my blocks so far ….

  

As you can tell, I need to work a little on my accuracy. Despite using a quarter inch quilt foot, I still can’t seem to get my blocks completely square every time! I am completely in awe of some of the pictures on Instagram of perfect points and aligned seam lines. I’m not going to get too crazy about it though – I think it adds to the charm!

The plan right now is to make 16 blocks and then finish them with white sashing which should be enough for a large lap quilt. I’d like to back it with one of the prints from the jelly rolls and then a scrappy binding made with leftover jelly roll scraps to finish it off. I’m wondering if by the time I have the top finished, I might brave doing some more adventurous quilting than just straight lines. Towards this endeavour, I have finally purchased an open toe freehand quilting foot and am booked on to a “Basics of Free Hand Quilting” course on April 16th. I am very excited! I had a little practice with my new foot and attempted a quilted pot holder. All I can say is – I am glad I am booked on a course! Think I will be needing some help with that one! Wish me luck!

Crafting with Suede

On Saturday I had a lovely trip to a local independent fabric store in Frankfurt’s Brückenviertel- Die Quiltmanufaktur. What I love about Quiltmanufaktur is that it’s the only fabric shop in Frankfurt that really celebrates the art of crafting, rather than just being a transactional, functional place to buy supplies. It’s run by the lovely Andrea Kollath, who is always on hand to have a chat and share her extensive experience. I love the layout of the shop and all the amazing fabrics which are bang on trend. Andrea also puts together her own jelly roll bundles, which are otherwise practically impossible to come by here in Germany, so there is so much to love. I have to be a bit careful when I go in, as I could always spend a small fortune! However, I do always like to buy something, as I like the idea that I am supporting a local, independent businesswoman with my shopping! This time I came away with this gorgeous French Bulldog fat quarter and a couple of really funky mini jelly rolls!

I have to confess that I didn’t really have a plan for either of these, I just indulged and bought them because I liked them! However, late on Saturday night I had a bit of a crafting itch, and decided to finally use a couple of my velour scraps from one of my EUR 5 leather scrap bags. I loved the colours that came in this particular scrap bag, and decided to make myself a little dual colored zipper pouch. I was thinking hard about which fat quarter to use for the lining, when it suddenly struck me that this would be a great project to use a little bit of my Frenchie fat quarter. Those pooches will make me smile every time I open it!

I have to confess I was a bit nervous about the dual colour approach to this pouch. Although I had success on the last coin purse I made, I had another go with nappa leather last week and tried this dual fabric approach and it did not go well. The seamed leather was just too thick to sew through two layers and it resulted in a snapped needle, angry crunching noises from my machine, and two otherwise nice pieces of leather landing in the bin. I had high hopes this time though, as the suede is much much thinner than the nappa leather, so I thought I would come back for round two!

I’m pretty pleased with the result of this one! The dual fabric worked well and I’m really pleased that the seam is continuous and matches well on both sides. The construction was a bit scary though and I think I need to choose slightly wider pieces for these 6 inch zippers as it was a bit close by the time everything got turned out. Overall, I think it turned out well, but it certainly isn’t a reflection of how the sewing looks underneath the lining! One important thing I learnt is also that suede marks so much more easily than leather, so you need to be careful with the presser foot pressure.


The highlight of this pouch though is totally the lining! I LOVE the pooches inside! I also really like how the combination of the bright blue and black turned out, with a bit of a glamorous gold zipper. The sizing of this purse is slightly odd, as it’s too big really for cards and coins, but too small to be a clutch. To be honest, I didn’t really measure it for anything specific, just made the most of the leather pieces I had and tried not to waste any. I think I will use this to bundle together all those little bits and pieces that always get lost in my handbag – hairpins, lip glosses, nail files, hair bobbles … a sort of small carry pouch with style!

Sew Over It: Knickers!

They say there’s a first time for everything … and this will be the first time I share a picture of my underwear with the world wide web! Although not my usual style, I really wanted to share my knicker making experience! As part of my quest for quick and fun projects, I stumbled across Sew Over It’s PDF knicker pattern and thought I would give it a whirl. I’d seen a few positive stories online of people making their underwear, and had never really thought it was for me, however as my sewing experience has grown, I’ve realised that someone, somewhere sews my underwear, so why shouldn’t it be me?! I taped up my PDF and decided to dive in!

The great thing about knicker-making is it is an awesome stash-buster and great for using up remnants of fabric! For my first pair I decided to use some drapey cotton voile from my stash which had been a bit small to do anything useful with. I paired this with some black knicker elastic.

The key to successful knicker making is stretching your elastic evenly as you apply it to your fabric. I have to confess, I didn’t do myself many favours on my first pair by choosing a really floaty fabric as this seemed to make this much harder! Although totally wearable, one leg hole seems to have turned out a bit smaller than the other. The fabric suggestions in the pattern do suggest a lightweight, drapey fabric, so I thought it would be great, but I’ve since made a cotton pair and they were so much easier! I don’t think I can attribute this solely to the fabric, as I think I needed some practice on the elastic stretching technique, but it certainly didn’t help. I did love the print on my first pair though, so I think I might come back for another go at these!

Not to be put off by my slightly wonky first pair, I came back for round two. Knicker making is really addictive once you get going and they are such a speedy project! I decided to dive in to my fat quarter stash for round two, which is perfect as one pair requires pretty much exactly one fat quarter. Finally, an excuse for me to buy more fat quarters! I’ve been waiting for the right project for this blue floral fat quarter for a while and I decided what better project than to wear those flowers close to me! I paired the blue with some white knicker elastic.

Second time around the results were much better! The fit is great and they are super comfortable!! Using knicker elastic is a bit of a step away from the Sew Over It instructions. I chose this method as I prefer the finish to the satin stitched edges of the fabric as suggested by the original patten. Although the finished make are less frilly than the pattern, I am hoping they will also be more durable and comfortable as a result!

Overall I’m pretty pleased with my final make and I’d encourage anyone out there to give it a go! I’ve already been rummaging through my fabric scraps for knicker sized pieces and have a few more pairs lined up! I’ve also discovered the wonderful world of trims – elastic lace, little bows, buttons and embellishments! It turns out making your own underwear is the ultimate forum for being creative! Have you given it a go? I’d love to hear about your experience!

Seamwork Oslo Cardigan

I’ve been a bit short on time of late which has considerably slowed my sewing (and blogging!) efforts! As a result, I’m particularly drawn to sewing patterns and projects that can be made in an afternoon. They still give me the satisfaction of sewing something and getting my creative juices flowing, without me looking at a work in progress for weeks on end which just makes me feel a bit frustrated!

The patterns from Seamwork Magazine are absolutely perfect for these purposes. You might remember that back at Christmas time I signed up for a subscription. Since buying the subscription, I’ve made two patterns using my credits and I absolutely adore both of them! The patterns are completely true to their word in terms of the time it takes to sew them up and I always find them fashion forward and very wearable! Today I decided to take on the Oslo Cardigan which is actually from the first ever issue of Seamwork. When I saw the modelled version, I instantly fell in love.

The original photo that made me fall in love with Oslo! Photo Credit: Colette Patterns/Seamwork

I didn’t want to venture too far from the styling that Seamwork had done, which I know isn’t really that creative, but I just knew that this cardigan would be so handy in my wardrobe! Interestingly, the sewing gods were smiling down on me and I happened upon this lightly woven ribbed knit in the Karstadt Habadeshery. Not only did it instantly make me think of the Oslo picture I’d seen, but it was really heavily reduced to EUR 3/m, so I had to take the plunge!

I love the texture and softness of this fabric. It was also an absolute pleasure to cut and sew with. I really can’t believe I got it for the price that I did! I actually now have a nice remnant left over which I am thinking of making a cosy infinity scarf out of!

Apart from the horrors of PDF taping, which I did earlier this week in front of the TV, the cutting out of this pattern went relatively smoothly. I cut an L up top and graded to an M on the waist and hips and it seemed to really turn out quite well. I think I benefitted from the fact that it is a slouchy fit anyway, which is also perfect at the moment with my ongoing weight loss project.

To be honest, the most time consuming and difficult part of this project was rethreading my serger in white. I’ve changed threads on Serge now on numerous occasions, and never with any trouble, but for some reason today it was just not happening! I must have spent an hour cursing my machine, before promptly falling back in love with it as it whizzed through these seams in no time and gave such a lovely finish! It looks so professional and solid on the inside, which is great, as I think this one is going to be worn and washed a lot!


I didn’t have any construction issues and the pattern instructions were really clear and easy to follow. I really am realising that I’m starting to benefit from experience now too, as things like putting in sleeves have started to become second nature.

I’m delighted with the finished result. There are so many features that I love on this one – the collar is chunky and cosy and I love the upturned cuffs! I’m planning on wearing this versatile cardigan both on weekends with jeans and sneakers and at work with some smart trousers and heels! For EUR6 and 3 hours (one hour of which involved me swearing at my serger) I think this project will be well worth the investment!

How about you? Have you made anything from Seamwork? Do you have saintly patience for PDFs? Are you and your serger best buds or sworn enemies? I’d love to hear from you!