Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Some holiday charity shop finds

I love searching charity shops for any sewing relating finds, but I have come back empty handed from my recent trips to local charity shops. However, my luck changed when I ventured further afield whilst on holiday.

My first finds were a vintage pattern for £1, nearly 5m of black out lining for £5.50 and a scarf for £1.50 which I found whilst spending a few days in the Lake District. I’m not sure of the age of the pattern, but it is certainly pre-1971 as it is priced at 4/-. Although I don’t know if I will make the dress for myself, I love looking at the old instructions and seeing how things have changed.

The scarf design looked familiar (given my slight obsession with Liberty prints) and sure enough, there was a Liberty label on it. Unfortunately the previous owner of the scarf was obviously a smoker and there were no washing instructions on the label. I decided to risk a gentle handwash in cool water with a delicates detergent and looking at the water afterwards, I’m glad I did! I removed most of the water by rolling the scarf in a towel and then line dried it which got rid of the last of any smoky smell.

My second find was one that I thought I had missed. I first spotted this quilt block encyclopaedia for £4.99 in a shop at the end of August. At the time I decided not to get it, but then spent the next few weeks regretting the decision.  Knowing that we would be visiting again in September, I decided to leave it to fate and was delighted to find the book still in the shop on my second visit. I follow various blogs by Barbara Brackman and know that this book is now out of print and not easily available from UK-based sources. The illustrations are hand drawn and it is very much a reference book rather than one with complete quilt patterns, but with some modern technology (such as Touchdraw or Quiltography for the iPad) I’ll be able to try some virtual quilt designs using the blocks.

As I said at the start of this post, I struck lucky with these finds. You definitely need perseverance when hunting for sewing items (or any specific items) in charity shops. When visiting a town, I can easily check out half a dozen charity shops (or more) and come away empty handed, but occasionally I end up being in the right place at the right time.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Review - Seams So Easy Madam Butterfly Wristlet

A few months ago, The Sewing Directory had a competition to win kits from Seams So Easy. I wasn’t a winner, but Seams So Easy were looking for bloggers to review their kits and I was sent the Madam Butterfly Wristlet kit. 

The kit contains everything you need to make the project (with the exception of thread for machine stitching) and the idea is that you customise the item with your own interpretation of their embellishment suggestions.

The supplies in the kit are generous – after covering the butterfly wings with sequins, there were still a few remaining. For the hand stitching on the back panel, I used an irregular running stitch with three strands of embroidery floss rather than the recommended two strands. There are yellow running stitches between the rows of pink and blue, but they are not showing on the photos. I did find it necessary to mark guide lines to keep my stitching straight, though this was not suggested in the instructions. I decided I would prefer a narrower strap so I folded the tape in half and secured with coloured stitching to match the back panel.

Floss supplies, like the sequins, were generous - there was still plenty of floss left over despite my extra stitching on the strap and using three strands not two (there is less yellow floss left as it was also used to sew on the sequins).  I did find that the needles supplied with the kit were not ideal for the embellishments – it would have been easier to thread the floss through the long eye of a crewel needle rather than the round eye of the sharp needle supplied (though a needle threader was also provided) and the needle was too large for many of the beads. 

The embellishing was the main part of this project and I did it over several evenings, but the assembly of the wristlet went together quite quickly and was completed in just one evening. The instructions tell you to embellish the front panel and attach it to the zip and then to embellish the back panel and attach it to the zip. I chose to complete all the hand stitching before starting the machine stitching. For the zip, I added an extra line of top stitching to secure the lining to the zip tape and to stop it getting caught in the teeth. The instructions make no mention of seam allowances and my printed version had no mention of the strap, so a bit of unpicking was required when it came to sewing the bag together, however, details of where to attach the strap are in the online instructions. I added a further customisation by boxing the corners of my pouch (if you wish to do the same, this should be done to the main fabric and lining before turning the bag right sides out).

I enjoyed making this wristlet – I like hand sewing and chose to add lots of embellishments, but the beauty of a kit like this is that you can do as much or as little as you like. As everything needed is in the kit and no other supplies are needed, it would make an ideal present for anyone who has access to a sewing machine.

Disclaimer: I was sent a Madam Butterfly Wristlet kit by Seams So Easy for the purpose of this review. All words and opinions are my own.