Sunday, 19 October 2014

A new start to sewing...

Let me explain the radio silence - we've moved house! After almost 3 years trying to sell our little city flat we finally did it! I've just spent the last 10 days working a 12 hour day doing DIY, cleaning, painting and decorating (mostly - big shout out to Ross Barber), constructing furniture and eating takeaway  - man does that novelty wear off fast - plus rewarding ourselves with a nightly glass/bottle of celebratory wine to reward a day well spent. I now have the knees and back of a 90 year old and a mild drinking problem. 

During these very intense 10 days I've discovered I can be a serious bitch when tired and hungry :-( although this is apparently remedied quite well with Curly Wurlys (U.S readers if you are not familiar with these please get yourself some imported) and that I have a strange fondness for painting skirting board. Meanwhile my lovely patient other half has morphed into Tool Time Tim (anyone else remember that?).

So its now finally resembling a place to live - and the sewing relevance to all this is... new sewing studio!!

It still has a fair way to go before being completely ready however please expect many home furnishing tutorials over the next month or so - quite selfishly because I really need curtains and blinds - so we'll be doing some of those on the blog here. I thought I might give roman blinds a go and see how that pans out. If anyone has made these and has some tips do let me know! x

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Thursday, 25 September 2014

Printed Patterns - Burdastyle's Tea Dress

Hello all...I do apologise for the lack of posts however life has been a little hectic of late and my sewing room is getting boxed up therefore the actual sewing portion of this blog may have to go on pause for a while.

I can however still cruise for patterns and the latest little lovely I spotted was this Tea Dress on Burdastyle.

Photo from
I love how its got that effortlessly chic look about it - You can't see from the picture but the dress has capped sleeves cut across the shoulder.

Picture from Burdastyle.con
 I have a massive heap of Black Prada fabric just begging to be made into something fabulous (once I have a fully functioning sewing room again) and I think this may be the pattern. (Available from Minerva crafts) The fabric is crepe one side and silky satin on the other, therefore it would be perfect winter attire, as tights would not stick to the satin insides of the dress, and there's no faffing about lining it.

I was also thinking, to make it a little more interesting, reversing the under arm panel - so the dress is matte black with shiny satin panels at the sides.

Burdastyle have a massive catalogue of patterns available and they are all 'Print at Home'. Just download the file and print away! You do have to spend an eternity cutting and pasting it altogether though - this one was about 50 pages!

I also have found Burdastyle patterns to be a little on the large size, even when using the measuring chart properly - this one will probably require a  practise run in some rubbish fabric or muslin cloth in order to get the sizing right before cutting into anything decent.

Has anyone out there much experience of sewing Burda patterns? Would love to hear your opinion and tips! :-)

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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Dinosaur decorations - Scrap Challenge?

Ok so this is not technically a sewing project - but it is crafty so I'm going to broaden the horizons of this blog and add a few generally craft bits here and there. There's been a lack of post as my sewing machine is currently hidden under tons of clutter to be 'sorted out' at some point.

I just thought I would share the art of decoupage or 'decopatch' as the branded products call it. This is basically just gluing...but MAN is it therapeutic. I'm not joking give it a go - its like meditation.

There are tons of decopatch animals and models in our local Jarrolds store in Norwich but you can get them online here and of course on ebay and from other craft retailers.

Essentially you get a paper mache model, a load of different coloured and printed tissue papers and some PVA glue and go for it. Any fool could do this. According to uber-crafty people on pinterest you can even use the technique on furniture and various household objects to jazz them up a bit.

Just tear off scraps of paper (actually you can use scrap fabric for this as well, it does work and gives a different texture) - glue the model, put on the paper, then slap glue all over the paper and the model again so when it dries, the glue dries all clear and shiny.

I chose this rather fetching brontosaurus as I had some weird notion of having as a bit of a centre piece type living room house decoration...and I don't do normal. It is massive - its shown here on my kitchen floor! I would like to tell you that the wine comes with the kit but I'd be lying - but it should. In fact was it the decopatch that was relaxing or the effects of the vino? I chose a green leaf print paper, but ripped up the leaves just made it look like scales which was good.

Here he is! You can't really see in the pic but underneath his belly is light green and scaled 'reptile' print paper.

Have a Google and see what other folks have made - the possibility is endless. Here is one my sis made aswell:

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Sunday, 7 September 2014

Burdastyle - 50 Best Bloggers for Sewing Enthusiasts!


I just thought I would do a little post to announce that Sew What Are You Waiting For has been nominated in Burdastyle's Top 50 Best Sewing Blogs!

Burdastyle is a fantastic online sewing community where people can upload their creations, learn new techniques, acquire patterns, share ideas and get help with all things sewing related. This is where I started to learn to sew about 5 years ago...from this website. A few years ago I also featured in their Sewing Handbook


Thank you very much to Burdastyle for adding me to the list I am very grateful.

I am under no illusions of winning anything, its a pleasure just to make the list, however if you did fancy hopping over there and giving me a vote that would be much appreciated! Just follow the links on this post or the icon at top right of the blog. :-) Thank you to those who have, you are all awesome.

If anyone wants to vote or take a look at Burdastyle and how it works - here it is.

See you soon :) xx

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Lined Zip Pouch Tutorial - Make up bag/Headphone holder/Pencil case - Whatever!

Here is a simple little tutorial for making those handy zip pouches that you see all over the show. Use them for anything! I love making these its so quick to do and uses up lots of scrap fabric.

You will need:

  • 2 rectangles outer fabric
  • 2 rectangles lining fabric (I was making a wash bag so used laminated cotton - waterproof plastic coated cotton fabric perfect for the inside of toiletry bags)
  • 1 zip

Step 1 - Cut out your fabric

Decide how big you want your bag and cut 2 outer pieces, 2 lining pieces and if you want it sturdier, iron on some interfacing to the outer fabric. My laminated cotton was sturdy enough so I didn't bother. The zip needs to be the same length as the side of rectangle you want the opening at (if that makes sense).

Step 2 - Attach the zip

Now I apologise for some poor photo instructions here. What you need to do is place the zip across the top of the outer fabric, FACE DOWN. i.e. the zip is upside down on top of your nice outer fabric. Then place the inner fabric on top of this, so the right sides of the fabric are touching each other and the zip is trapped between the two layers across the top edge. Pin it across the top edge of the zipper tape all in place to hold it together.
Can you see the zip trapped?
Pin the 2 layers and zip together - zip sandwich.

 Put the zipper foot on your sewing machine and sew the layers into place close to the zip edge.

sew it all down securely
Once sewn you can fold back the layers so the pretty sides are showing and your zip should be all attached where it should be!

This is what you should now have - hopefully

Repeat on the second side of the zip tape. Remember that the zip should be face down on the outer fabric to get it the right way round.
Second side
Once both sides are sewn on, when you open it out you should have a side of outer fabric and a side of lining fabric attached nicely.
Inside layer
Outer layer with the zip the right side up
Step 3 - Make the pouch

What you now need to do is place the outer fabric pieces right sides together and pin around the edge. Then place the lining pieces right sides together and pin but leaving a small gap (4 inches approx) for turning inside out. A good tip here is to slide your zipper down half way at this point. When you come to turning everything inside out it will be a lot easier to grab hold of that if its fully closed - you'll see what I mean.
Slide the zip halfway
Pin outer fabric right sides together; lining fabric right sides together
Leave a gap at the bottom of the lining half
Now sew all the way around the square. Start at the open edge of the lining gap and go all the way around, passing over the zipper tape on both ends (make sure the open zipper end lines up before you sew over it to ensure the zip is neat when turning inside out) and then end sewing at the other open edge of the lining gap.
All sewn up

Step 4 - Turn inside out (or right way round!)

This may be a bit tricky, but pull the bag through the gap you left in the lining. At this point you need to reach in and fully undo the zip - that is why we left it half open when sewing - so you can grab it. If you didn't you need to grab it through the fabric and coax it open. Keep pulling it all through.

Reach in and undo the zip - start turning inside out
You now have this
Step 5 - Secure the lining and turn inwards

Pin the gap of the lining that now remains. You can hand stitch it neatly so stitching is invisible - or you can just machine a line clear across the bottom. (It is on the inside of your bag after all). I went for the lazy sew straight across it route.

Pin the gap shut and stitch across to secure
Now push your lining into the outer fabric to create your pouch!

All done!
Step 6 - Use it for stuff

New wash bag for overnight stays!
Teeny tiny one for headphones - no more handbag tangle - added tag just in case it went on a keyring
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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Galaxy Print Spoonflower Space Dress!

I finally got round to making my space dress! It was made in the same way as this one i.e drawing around a t-shirt dress I already had.

Very happy with how the colours turned out - let's hope they don't fade too much! It was the windiest rainy day ever when the pics were taken!

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Monday, 25 August 2014

Last of the Summer Sewing - Aztec Dress

I found this fantastic stretch cotton sateen in the John Lewis clearance sale - bright Aztec zig zags - for £12 for 2 meters. I had imagined a great summer dress for hot August days - however it took me so long to getting around to finish it that summer has pretty much disappeared - its gone all cold and rainy again!!

I actually managed to squeeze two items from this fabric:

1. Summer Dress

I used the ol' faithful pencil skirt pattern and a self-drafted simple princess seam bodice attached at the waist. The first time I've ever made spaghetti straps as well, man they are not easy. I might do a little tutorial as the technique is quite interesting. Just for a bit of interest made them cross over straps at the back - also stops them slipping off the shoulders. Then put in a thick black metallic zipper down the centre back.

Here it is! (I have just got PicStitch so no doubt will be abusing that facility in future)


2. Pencil skirt
Just another simple skirt with the leftover fabric!
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Friday, 22 August 2014

Sew to Speak

I thought I'd do a quick post today about some sewing terms that may be completely baffling to a total novice that has just started sewing. Obviously this list could go on forever but here's a little glossary for your interest!

Basting - no turkey involved. This is where you temporarily sew something together with massive stitches that can easily be removed later

Bias Binding - 'bias' meaning diagonal to the weave of the fabric. Cutting something on the bias means it will be diagonal to the grain of the fabric and have a slight stretch to it. Bias binding is a huge strip of fabric, cut on the bias, which is folded inwards allowing you to make nice neat edges on garments. The fact it is on the bias means it will go around curves like armholes and necklines. Great for when you want no fuss neat edges with minimal stitching showing or a contrasting colour. You can buy it ready made or make your own. MinervaCrafts sell some great ones - Lycra and stretch binding for jersey dresses etc in crazy colours, satin and plain cotton binding too.
Bias binding
 Dart - In a pattern it looks like a wedge shape. When sewn together it shapes fabric, so flat fabric turns into a curvy shape to fit a human being.

Facing - a piece of fabric, that is identical shape to the main garment used to strengthen a particular area or create a neat edge such as at a neckline or armhole. Its sewn to the fabric, right sides of the fabric facing together and then turned inwards to created a seamless edge. Tilly and the Buttons has a good explanation here.

Interfacing - a material which is either sewn on or ironed onto the wrong side of your fabric to make it thicker or sturdier. You might want to make a purse or bag and need thickness and strength; super heavy interfacing is your friend. You also find it in collars and waistbands.

Muslin/Toile - a mock up of a garment. Like a dress rehearsal for a real bit of clothing except you can tear it apart and refit it as many times as you like in order to get the pattern pieces just right.

Notions - occasionally of grandeur but mainly 'bits and bobs'. It's all your tools and equipment for sewing; seam ripper, buttons, clasps, zips, pins etc....Stuff.

Right side - The correct side of your fabric. The good side. The one you want the world to see.

Seam Ripper -  Essential. A gadget of joy and doom. It can fix your errors and take things apart without damaging them, but it does mean you're having to take things apart. Awkward.
Seam Ripper

Stash - A massive hoard of fabric that you have because, well you needed it, it was pretty, its just nice having it there for 'one day'. Please note that your fabric stash will no doubt get out of hand if you start sewing. Go with it, there are worse addictions in the world. Organise it all you want, it will never be neat.

Wrong side - the other one. The rough unseen side. Not always rough, sometimes very pretty but its glory will be hidden from view for the best part.

UFO - Less other worldly and more annoying. Unfinished Objects. Everything you started and couldn't be arsed to finish. Of course you will finish day.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Reclaimed fabric - Bringing back the bees!

Just a quick post to show you how I altered the pleated skirt used for my previous post and tutorial on how to make a pleated skirt.
I was saving the fabric for something special as I loved the bees, and really should have gone with my gut feeling. It's nice sewing new styles and trying new patterns out - but as far as wearable items go, you need to make what you are going to actually wear! I bet there are many of you out there with a pile of homemade clothes that just don't get worn as they are not really our style.

I'm really not a pleated skirt person it turns out - way too girly - it just felt wrong. So out came the seam ripper and and hour later I had reclaimed a meter and a half of bee fabric and a full waist band and zip! Like magic... It took some serious steam ironing to get the creases out but once done I was left with a pre-hemmed large rectangle of fabric.
I love pencil skirts, easy to wear, comfy and don't blow around in a breeze. I used my regular self drafted skirt pattern and cut out pieces from the reclaimed fabric. The length was obviously restricted from the already sewn hem and width of fabric but it seemed fine. Then it was just a case of reattaching the waist band and zip!
Moral of the story, sew for your style if it's one you definitely want to keep!
Before the seam ripping!


Monday, 11 August 2014

How to make an ice pack / heat pack

You may find yourself with loads of scrap fabric. I thought I'd try and find a few ways of putting these to use as its such a shame to waste nice prints!

This tutorial is for a really simple ice pack / heat pack. Great for super hot weather - stick it in the freezer for an hour and you have a refreshing cold pack. Perfect for cold weather - microwave it for 45 seconds and you have a cosy heat pack!

Make these in any size, shape and colour - its really just rice in a bag!

You will need:
  • Rice
  • Fabric
  • Thread
Step 1 - Cutting

Cut out your desired shape. I've gone for a simple square to show you. You could make all kinds of things; flowers, bears, circles, whatever! Just so long as you can cut 2 identical pieces

Step 2 - Pin and sew

Place the fabric pieces together, right sides facing and pin around the edge. You need to leave room for the rice to go in, so leave a couple of inches open along one side. Sew around the edges!

Step 3 - Fill it up

Turn inside out and fill with rice! You want it about 1/2 or 3/4 full of rice so that its bendy and the grains can move around.

Step 4 - Close it up

Fold the opening inwards and stitch down to seal the pack shut. Voila! Finished packs!! Heat or freeze as you like :-)

Happy heating and cooling.... :-)

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Thursday, 7 August 2014

How to make a Kimono Top - Tutorial

There is an abundance of floaty kimono tops available at the moment in all kinds of colours and pretty patterns, but for some reason some seem to be fairly expensive given what they consist of! With a bit of fabric and about 1 hour you can create your own top. Here's how to make them:

You will need:
  • Fabric (anything drapey) 1-2 yards depending on how big you want it
  • Fringe or embellishment
  • Thread
Step 1 - Create a pattern

All you need to do is create a big L-Shape. Measure from the back of your neck out to where you want your sleeve to lie (mine was 25") and decide on your sleeve depth (I went for 12"). The measure down from the back of your neck to the length you want your Kimono (I think this was about 50"). The body width is then a measurement from the back of your neck to shoulder plus 2" (this one worked out at 12" again).

Step 2 - Fold your fabric

Fold your fabric, right sides facing, downwards on to itself. Then fold again creating a quarter of what you started with. It is essential to have the folds in the top left corner!

Step 3 - Cut out

I weighted the fabric down with cans of food! Its super slippery chiffon so needed taming. Pin on your pattern piece so it touches the top left corner then cut it out to create a 2 layered T shape.
Step 4 - Create the front opening

Cutting through a SINGLE layer of the fabric, cut a straight line up the from of the Kimono (you know, they work better when you can get in it). Be careful and don't cut both layers!!
Now you need a neck opening. Measure the width of your neck plus an inch or so and create a slit at the top folded edge.
To shape the front just create a line from the neck edge down to the front opening and cut on both sides.

Step 5 - Sew together

Pin up the open side seams and sew them together. You could be fancy and use french seams so there are no raw edges showing. I just trimmed with pinking sheers as its not that visible anyway. Choose your needle wisely! I used a 60/8 machine needle for delicate thin fabrics so it didn't rip into the chiffon too much.

Step 6 - Hem all around

Hem all the way around the neckline and bottom edge of your Kimono. You could use a rolled hem to keep it lovely and neat. Again I was being a bit lazy and just trimmed and turned up the edges.

Step 7 - Add embellishments

At this point you might decide you are which case enjoy! If you fancy adding anything now is the time. I went for some swingy purple fringe. Just pin this in place to the front of the Kimono and sew it right on there.

Step 8 - Wear that bad boy out and about

Throw it on and go!

Please do share on comments below, Facebook or Twitter if you have a go at this! x  :-)