Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Shortcuts To Sewing Forum - The Way Forward?

For some time members of the Shortcuts To Sewing Forum have been experiencing difficulties posting items and logging in. Consequently, activity on the forum has been slowing down and is now almost at a standstill.

As a stopgap, Hazel (also known as Muralou) set up a group on Facebook where members could keep in contact and post pictures of their makes.

The following is a post that I put on the Facebook group, which has also been posted on the forum. I am writing about this here so that members can discuss how they feel about what should happen next with the forum.

If you are a member of the Shortcuts To Sewing Forum, please feel free to share your views in the Comments section below, on what the forum should be or do next. It would be helpful if you could include your Forum Username at the start of your comment so that we can keep track of who is saying what. Could I also request that readers who are not members restrict any comments they wish to make to offering practical advice / information about how to put proposals into effect, please?

Thank you.

This is what I posted earlier:

One problem that has already cropped up with having the Shortcuts to Sewing group on Facebook is that many people do not have (and do not want) Facebook accounts.
Debbie and John have not been able to get the problems sorted on the forum and Debbie has reached the point where she has had enough. (I can't say I blame her. It costs her money for the forum to be administered so she is getting all the hassle and paying for the privilege.
I suggested to Debbie a couple of weeks ago that I thought it might be a good idea for the forum to move to another provider/server/host. She agrees with me.
We need to think about where the forum goes from here.
It was a great idea of Hazel's to start this group - we needed someone to do something. However, I don't think Facebook will be the answer for hosting the forum as it needs to be somewhere that allows us to have different sections.
Obviously, someone or some people, needs or need to do some legwork finding somewhere to set up the forum. We also need to let members on the existing forum know what is happening.
If anyone on here is able to post on the forum at the moment (I can't get logged in wherever I try) it would be really helpful if you could spread the word, please.
We need to discuss what we want regarding the forum. As some people can't get on Facebook, we could use my blog as a place to discuss and leave comments, if that would help 

Can't See The Forest For The Trees.

Simple Christmas tree decorations

I have been fiddling again!

Whilst thinking about all things Christmas I was looking through my file of Christmas-related bits and pieces and found a template of a Christmas tree that I used several years ago. My eye was also caught by a box of Christmas-themed ribbons. "Aha!" thought I, "I could use those things together". And so I did. It may not have been my most successful playtime but, no matter, I enjoyed myself.

I used a rectangle of paper-backed fusible web and ironed lengths of the tartan ribbon onto it. I flipped the whole thing over and, after removing the paper backing, I ironed more lengths of the ribbon at right angles to the first side. When I had done that the whole piece was rather flimsy. Oops! However, it became more stable as it cooled. I used my template to cut out four tree shapes. [You will notice that the trees don't look symmetrical but that is due, in part, to the fact that the pattern on on the ribbon is an asymmetric one.] I then threaded each tree with a length of two strands of red embroidery cotton, ready to hang them somewhere suitable for Christmas.

So there you have another easy, no-sew decoration to make for Christmas using up odds and ends that you have in your craft room!

Your own 'forest' of Christmas trees!

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Something Other Than A Hat Or Scarf

Child's jumper
At last, I have gotten round to knitting something other than hats, scarves or socks! I seem to have spent an awfully long time knitting all of those, using up scraps and odd balls of wool. However, I have now completed a small child's jumper. Phew!

I used Sirdar Denim yarn
The pattern I used was this one from Red Heart. I like the broken rib design on the sleeves. However, I used only one colour and knitted it in Sirdar Denim Tweed double knitting. Unfortunately the yarn is now discontinued. I really liked the feel of the yarn, which is 60% Acrylic, 25% Cotton and 15% Wool. It goes a long way, as well - there are around 170m [186 yards] per 50g ball! This jumper [which I knitted in the smallest size - would fit about age 3-4 years] took just three balls.

Child's sporty jumper
The yarn I used was given to me by Elizabeth. When I began the jumper I wondered if it would fit either of my grandsons, but it doesn't, so it will help to keep a Syrian child warm, instead.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Tutorial for Crazy Patchwork Christmas Tree Hanging

As I have been thinking about Christmassy things recently, I thought I would show you this Crazy Patchwork Christmas Tree again. It was made using using fabric from Abakhan. If you fancy having a go at making one, read on for the tutorial.

Crazy Patchwork Christmas Tree


  • An assortment of Christmas fabric scraps
  • A piece of plain fabric for the bucker [I used green]
  • Plain fabric for base to sew patchwork onto [this could be a piece of old curtain lining or sheeting]
  • 2oz wadding
  • Fabric for backing [I used plain red]
  • Brass ring or ribbon for hanging loop
  • Thread
  • Rotary cutter
  • Self-healing cutting mat
  • Ruler
  • Marker pencil for fabric
  • Scissors
  • Stitch unpicker [I needed mine several times!]

1.            With your base fabric and using your ruler on the cutting mat, cut a rectangle – this piece will be used to make the triangle for your tree. The tree can be made to whatever size you wish, although I found it difficult to be sure what the exact finished size would be. My rectangle measured 13” x 11”. The finished patchwork section measured 11.5” x 10”.

2.            To create a triangle, fold the rectangle in half along its longer sides. Place it on your cutting mat with the fold going from top to bottom. Place your ruler on the fabric beginning with its edge at the top of the fabric fold and angled out towards the long cut edge of your base fabric, leaving 0.5” between the ruler and the cut edge of the fabric.

3.            Using your marker pencil, draw a line along the edge of the ruler. This pencil line is a useful indicator when sewing the patchwork to ensure that the entire surface of your tree is covered.

4.            Slide the ruler across the fabric to leave a half inch strip between your drawn line and the edge of the ruler. Using the rotary cutter, cut the fabric. You now have your triangle on which to sew the patchwork.

5.            Open the triangle and lay flat with the pencil line showing. Mark a similar line, half an inch in from the second long side of the triangle.

6.            Using the template attached to these instructions, cut one piece of green fabric, one piece of red fabric and one piece of wadding to make the bucket. The hatched areas are the seam allowances. The cross-hatched areas will be hidden when the tree is completed.

7.            Sandwich the three layers together: wadding at the bottom, then red fabric and topped with green fabric.

8.            Stitch together as shown in the photograph. Trim the bottom edge and bottom corners.

9.            Turn the bucket right sides out.

10.       At this point I decorated my bucket with a pre-programmed decorative holly stitch on my sewing machine.

11.       Begin sewing pieces of Christmas fabric to the base. The method I used was ‘stitch and flip’ – see instructions below.

12.       Take a piece of fabric and place in the middle of the triangle, right side facing up. You may sew this in place if you find it easier, using a fairly long straight stitch on your machine.

13.       Take your second piece of fabric and lay it, face down, with one of its edges along one of the edges of your first piece. Stitch in place using a long straight stitch. You may trim the fabric once it has been attached.

14.       With your third piece of fabric and working around the first piece, attach it along the second edge of the first piece, ensuring no fabric edges are left showing.

Sewing it the wrong way!
        **I made my first mistake here, attaching the wrong side of the third piece of fabric to the edge of the first piece! Hence the need for the stitch unpicker!

 Sewing it correctly this time!

15.       Continue the process of sewing on scraps as shown in the photos, working around your patchwork rather than concentrating on one area. If you are unhappy with how it looks just unpick it and try another piece.

16.       Note: When working towards the top of the tree, I found that I had to unpick and reattach several pieces as I had miscalculated what they would cover. If this happens to you, don’t panic, unpicking does not show on the finished item!

17.       When all pieces have been stitched in place, stitch along all joins using a decorative stitch – I used a zigzag stitch 5mm wide and 3mm long in red thread.

18.       Press the tree and the bucket firmly

19.       Using your patchwork as a template, cut the backing fabric and a piece of wadding.

20.       Pin the three layers of the tree together with the right sides of the fabrics facing each other and the wadding at the bottom.

21.       Insert the bucket between the two right sides of the tree fabric, with [i] the front of the bucket facing the right side of the tree, [ii] the widest end of the bucket [i.e. the top] lined up with the base of the tree, and [iii] the narrowest end [i.e. the bottom] pointing towards the top of the tree. [* The bucket must be inside the sandwich, not on the outside!]
22.       Pin the bucket firmly in place.
The two blue pins inside the
triangle are securing the bucket
23.       If you would like a ribbon hanging loop, insert the ribbon at this stage, between the patchwork and the red fabric, at the point of the tree, pointing down towards the bottom of the tree. [* The loop must be inside the sandwich, not on the outside!]

24.       Pin the ribbon firmly into place.

25.       Stitch the layers together, leaving a gap of about 3” along one of the sides.

26.       Trim the seams and corners.

27.       Turn the tree the right side out, taking care to neaten each of the points. Press.

28.       Neatly slip stitch the gap closed.

29.       If you are using a ring to hang the tree, stitch it firmly into place on the back of the tree, near the top point, making sure that it is not visible from the front.

         At this point I also tied the three layers of the tree together with knots spaced
         evenly, but widely across the back, to keep the tree looking neat.

The finished tree

Template for bucket

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Ooh, la la! Lacy Top Stockings!

I wonder if the title of today's post misled you? My first title for this post was very boring so I opted for something that sounded a little more risqué! Just look at the photograph below and you will see just how naughty I am being today...

Lace-topped Felt Stocking
Hmm. Not very!

Being without a sewing machine and, also, with very little energy, I have been doing a lot of pottering and fiddling, all of which has led to me spending quite some time looking at Christmas tree decorations. This is quite a departure for me as I don't actually 'do' Christmas. Oh, I give presents to my close family [including Little Sis] but that's about all. Sending Christmas cards is very hit and miss - usually miss. I have absolutely no interest in celebrating what, for me, is a very sad anniversary. [Please don't comment below about it being an important religious festival - I'm well aware of that.]

Anyway, all of that aside, I have been thinking about decorations and this idea came to me. I have lots of tiny lengths of lace and thought how pretty they could be at the top of some little stockings, hanging on a Christmas tree.

A hanging stocking
[N.B. Peter does have all his fingers,
they are just folded in this photo!]
I drew a small stocking measuring about 6cm wide by 7cm deep and cut out two of them. I oversewed them together using two strands of red embroidery cotton. Then I wrapped a 7cm length of 1.5cm wide lace around the top and stitched it into place. I decided that I wanted my stocking to hand straight, rather than tilted, so I attached two strands of the embroidery cotton as a loop, about a quarter of the way in from the inside edge of the rim.

Et, voila!

One scrappy felt Christmas stocking
to hang on the tree!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

No-Sew Christmas Napkin Ring

No-Sew Decorative Christmas Napkin Ring


1 x 9” square piece of red felt
1 x 9” square piece of green felt
Paper-cutting scissors
Fabric scissors
Marker pen
Template sheet


Print the template onto card.

Using your paper-cutting scissors, cut out each of the shapes from the card template sheet, including the centre circle on the leaf and petal pieces.

Use paper-cutting scissors to cut out templates

The cut-out templates. Note that the centre
circles have been cut out

Place the spiky leaf shape onto the piece of green felt. Draw around it carefully with the marker pen. Make sure you have marked the centre circle.

Ready to draw around template
Ready to cut out template

Cut the shape, including the centre circle, out of the green felt. 
Cut out the template
**Tip** Cut a rough square out of the felt around the leaf shape as it will make it much easier to cut out the detailed shape.
**Tip** Roughly cut out a square of felt to make
cutting the details easier
Place the green felt leaf shape to one side.
Note the centre circle has been cut out.
Take the sheet of red felt. Place the petal shape at the corner of the sheet and the long shape along the opposite edge of the felt, as shown in the picture. 
Ready to draw the first two shapes
Draw around both shapes with the marker pen, including the centre circle of the petal shape. Move the petal shape along the piece of felt towards the long shape. Place it so that it does not overlap either of the shapes you have already drawn. Draw around the petal shape for a second time, including the centre circle.

Cut the three shapes out of the red felt, remembering also to cut out the centre circle pieces.
**Remember the tip mentioned above.**
The three red pieces have been cut out
Gather your four cut felt shapes.
Long red piece of felt and spiky green piece
Take the long red shape and the green spiky leaf shape as shown in the photograph above.
Pushing and pulling the ball-shaped end through
the centre circle gently
Push one rounded end of the long shape through the centre hole of the spiky leaf shape.
One ball-shaped end has been pushed
through the centre circle
Take one red petal shape.
The first red petal shape is ready
to be attached
Take the rounded end of the long shape that you have already pushed through the centre of the leaf shape and push it through the centre of the red petal shape.
The first ball-shaped end of the band
is going through the centre circle
This is how the ball-shaped end will
Take the other rounded end of the long piece of felt.
The other end of the long red shape
is ready 
Push it through the centre hole of the green leaf shape.
Manoeuvre the felt gently
Then push it through the centre hole of the red petal shape.
It has gone through the centre of the green shape
Take the second red petal shape. Place it on top of the partly constructed napkin ring.
The second red petal shape is ready to
be attached
Push one ball-shaped end of the long shape through the centre hole.

One end has been passed through the
Push the other ball-shaped end of the long shape through the same centre hole.
Both ends are through all layers
Gently neaten the two ball-shaped ends.
Gently neatening the end pieces
Gently move the leaf shape and each of the two petal shapes to make an attractive finished item.
Moving leaves and petals into positions
Your napkin ring is ready for use.
Beautifully arranged leaves and petals
The napkin ring in use

Embellish as desired, for example, do some hand stitching on the petals, stick glitter or beads onto the ball-shaped ends.

An alternative is to use green felt for the band. This picture shows the result of doing so.
Napkin ring using green felt band