Category Archives: Sewing

Folded Fabric Christmas Tree

Posted on 29 November, 2015

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I visited the Crafts for Christmas event at the SECC, Glasgow in October.  There were a few representatives from the Scottish Women’s Institute (SWI) on one of the stalls and they were demonstrating how to make these little Christmas Trees using triangles of folded fabric.

I was so impressed with the trees that I decided to try making one myself at home.  I have put together a photo tutorial, so that you can make one for your own home.  It makes a beautiful, hanging fabric decoration for the festive season.

You can find my photo tutorial here.  There is also an option to download a pdf version too.

Layer Cake Sampler QAL – Part One

Posted on 15 April, 2014

Over the last 8 weeks I’ve been sewing blocks as part of the Layer Cake Sampler Quilt-Along (QAL) hosted by Amanda of Material Girl Quilts.  This is the first time that I’ve taken part in a QAL and I’m loving this one so far!  Amanda releases the layout for 2 blocks on a Friday.  There will be 20 blocks in this quilt and so far I’ve made 16 of them.

IMG_0265 blogFor this QAL, I’m using a Sweetwater Pure Layer Cake that I’ve had for about 18 months now.  It’s been patiently waiting for the perfect quilting project to come along and this is most definitely it!  I’m also using Moda Bella Solids fabric in the Moda U Brown colour.  This QAL requires 2 layer cakes (one patterned and one self-coloured), but I bought a couple of metres of the Bella Solids fabric and cut it into 10 inch squares myself.

Each block is made using 2 self-coloured and 2 patterned 10 inch squares.  I’ve changed this slightly and have used my patterned, dark brown squares as self-coloured squares as I didn’t want three chocolate coloured squares in a block.  Each block is started off in exactly the same way by making 16 half square triangles (HST).  Amanda has a very good tutorial on how to do this on her blog.  After making your 16 HST, they are arranged and pieced together to make a 16.5 inch block.  How you arrange these HST determines how your final block will look.  Here’s the blocks that I have made so far:

Block 01 Block 02 Block 03 Block 04 Block 05 Block 06 Block 07 Block 08 Block 09 Block 10 Block 11 Block 12 Block 13 Block 14 Block 15 Block 16

It’s amazing just how different all the blocks look.  There are only 4 more blocks to be made and then comes the fun part . . . piecing them all together with sashing, cornerstones and borders to make a quilt top.  I’ve been putting my blocks together week by week using Photoshop so I can see how my quilt top is coming along.  Here is how it looks so far:

QAL04I’m going to be using some of the teal coloured Sweetwater Pure fabric for my cornerstones and binding, but I still haven’t decided what colour to use for my sashing and borders.  I have both cream and brown coloured Sweetwater Pure fabric, but I’m not sure where to use these colours.  This is how the final quilt would look alternating where I use my cream and brown fabrics:

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I think I like the brown sashing best, but I also like the brown border!!  Or – I could make the sashings and borders all the same colour and my final quilt top would look like this:

FinalQAL4I have another couple of weeks to think about it before I have to decide.  What do you think looks best? xx

Lady Grey

Posted on 25 March, 2014

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This is my recently completed Lady Grey coat from Colette Patterns.

I’ve been making this coat on and off (more off than on) since September 2013 after taking a Tailored Jacket Course at The Stitchery in Glasgow.

The description of this coat from the Colette website describes it as follows:

Short wrap coat with princess seams, perfect for between seasons. Has a very wide collar, 3/4 length sleeves that look wonderful with bracelets or long gloves, and fullness at the hem. Coat is fully lined. Closes with one internal and one external button, and includes wide self-fabric tie belt.

My coat is more of a winter coat as I have used a heavier weight fabric.

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My main coat fabric is a wool/cashmere blend and I’ve lined my coat with a grey coloured china silk.  I bought my fabrics from Mood Fabrics while I was in New York for my 40th Birthday last August.  These were a pretty big purchase for me, and it took a couple of trips before I was brave enough to actually buy the fabrics.  Any excuse to go back, eh?

Now that it’s finished, I absolutely love this coat! It’s just a shame that I didn’t finish it sooner so that I could wear it all winter long.  While at the Tailored Jacket Class, I was taught A LOT of tailoring techniques, and I mean A LOT!!  I did use these techniques when making my jacket, but a few of them I have removed/replaced.  I pad stitched both my lapels, but after a lot of humming and hawing (and weeks of the jacket lying unfinished), I re-cut my lapel pieces and added them to my coat without this pad stitching.  The lapels just didn’t sit properly with the pad stitching, and also I felt that it would look silly if I decided to add a button hole and button onto my lapel pieces later . . . you know, for buttoning up during winter to help keep the cold out.

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A couple of the things I love most about this coat are the princess seams and all the top stitching.  This is the first time I’ve sewn something with princess seams and not only do I love how the seam sits against the body, I just love that name for a seam too!  I love all the detail that the top stitching along my seams gives . . . although my poor wee sewing machine may not agree with me there.

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As you can see from the two photos above, I didn’t put buttons on my coat.  Instead I decided to go for big, stud fastenings as the buttons will never be seen underneath the belt anyway.  You can see my china silk lining in one of those photos too.  I did want to go for a nice bright pink or purple lining, but the girl from Mood advised me that that wasn’t the done thing.

IMG_0580I love this big collar, the three quarter length sleeves and the fullness of the coat below the waist.  It is a very flattering shape for me to wear and I wish I had got some photos of me wearing it on its maiden voyage out for dinner last night.

IMG_0570bIf I were to make this coat again (which won’t be anytime soon), I would make my lining slightly longer and I wouldn’t add the pockets.  My pockets are made from the china silk lining fabric and are very delicate.  I won’t be putting my phone or keys in them for fear of tearing the fabric.

In the meantime, I hope to get a little bit more wear from this jacket during the spring months before the weather gets to warm.  Oh, who am I kidding?!  I live in Scotland.  I’ll probably still be wearing this coat mid-summer knowing what our weather is like.

Has it really been a year?

Posted on 15 September, 2013

Hello there. I’m Amanda and I am probably the worst blogger in Blogland.
It’s been almost a year since my last post and so much has happened since then. We’ve moved house again, (we moved house twice in six months last year), my beloved and I got married in October 2012 (our 1st wedding anniversary is approaching fast and I’m eagerly looking for something to make), I now have a beautiful, baby grandson called Harley, I turned 40 (in the most fabulous fashion in the Big Apple) and our wee girl has left home to pursue her dream of becoming a farrier (very emotional time . . . lots of tears . . . thankfully all mine and not hers).

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For our Wedding Day, I knitted my top using Rowan Kidsilk Haze and I also made the lace covered skirt myself too.  The knitting part was easy peasy, but sewing that skirt was more difficult than I had thought it would be.  I had only been sewing for six months when I decided to make a skirt to wear for our wedding, and I underestimated just how complicated pattern reading can be!  Even trying to interpret what size to make was a challenge.  However, I got there in the end and I was delighted with my outfit.

For my 40th birthday last month, hubby flew us off to New York for 2 weeks.  I took thousands of pics and I still haven’t sorted through/photoshopped them all.

Anyway, I’ll go back to the house move part and tell you a bit more about where we are living.  We’re now in Galston, the ‘Historical Heart of Ayrshire’.  Galston means the place of strangers and it comes from the Gaelic word Gall (stranger) and the Anglican word tun (hamlet or enclosure).  Galston’s ‘Historical Heart of Ayrshire’ title comes from its associations with William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and the Campbells of Loudoun and Cessnock.

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This is the road into Galston.  Can you guess which supermarket are building a new store here?  The Balmoral Mill can be found on the road into town.  It may not look like much from the outside, but inside there’s a wonderful shop selling various brands of knitwear and also a Coffee Shop too.

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There has been a knitwear business on the Balmoral Mill site since 1899.  Galston was once a thriving textile town inhabited by handloom weavers, stocking makers and Ayrshire White Needleworkers.  There were four lint mills producing linen yarn for the weavers and there were also two lace and madras factories in the town too.  As well as the textile industries, there was also a thriving mining industry.  The men of the town would ‘go down the pits’, and the women worked in the textile factories.

Loudoun Castle, the family home of the Campbells of Loudoun is on the north side of the town.  The castle was built in 1807 (around an earlier keep dating from the 15th/16th century) and was tragically destroyed by fire in 1941 leaving a roofless walled structure.  Loudoun Castle was once known as the ‘Windsor of Scotland’.  Drafts for The Treaty of Union 1707 were discussed in the gardens (under the Auld Yew Tree) and the Wallace Sword once hung on the castle walls.

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This is all that can be seen of the castle ruins from the main road.  The castle sits in the grounds of the now closed Loudoun Castle Theme Park, and I don’t think the castle is accessible by the public.  I will look into this though, as I would love to take a walk up to the castle ruins.

Barr Castle is another castle in Galston.  Unfortunately no-one knows exactly when it was built, but architecturally it dates back to around the 15th century.  The castle is 3 floors high and is now a museum.  It used to be known as Lockhart’s Tower.  One of the Lockharts from Galston is supposed to have returned the heart of Robert the Bruce to Scotland after it was lost while being carried to the Crusades (this was a dying wish of the King).

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The castle is very prominent on the drive into town and I have to pass it to get to my street.  I still haven’t made it inside yet (it is open by appointment only), as unfortunately I didn’t make it to the Door’s Open Day event last weekend.

Two local legends are associated with this castle.  William Wallace was said to have jumped from a window into the branches of a tree to escape from English soldiers (historians believe it to be an earlier tower as Wallace lived during the 13th century).  Wallace’s men were also supposed to have played a handball game against the walls (again probably an earlier tower) to help them keep fit for battle.  The people of Galston still played this handball game until quite recently and were World Champions at this sport.  It was last recorded being played in 1939 with players using a clenched fist to hit a hard ball off the side wall of Barr Castle.  Other famous people to have visited this castle are George Wishart and John Knox who both preached from within the castle.

And this is where we are living now:

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It’s a wonderful house.  Maybe not as grand as Lainshaw House, but it’s perfect for us.  There’s a little burn along the side of my neighbour’s house and a local walking route goes right past the back garden.  The house has a converted double garage that we all use as a hobby room.  I’ve got all my yarn and fabric in there.  It’s such a great space for sewing as it is so bright and airy (although it doesn’t stop me leaving knitting/crochet/sewing projects lying around the rest of the house).

A week after my last blog post, our landlord decided to sell up and we found out we had to leave Stewarton . . . just 6 days before we were getting married.  We are hoping to stay here a bit longer – but you never know, maybe I’ll have moved house again before I get another blog post done!