You’ve got a long way to sew baby! Some glaringly obvious tips for improvement!

Well, as the title suggests, this post is about sewing skills (or lack of) and tips for improvement i.e what would I do better next time!

In preparation for making a quilt for Baxter, I thought, actually make that needed to improve my sewing skills big time! I have previously fiddled about with a sewing machine, and made a few rudimentary items, but having not used a machine in over three years, you could say I’m somewhat rusty. So, in preparation I have been picking some cute little projects that require cutting, piecing, pressing and sewing together.

I started off with a wall hanging inspired by the one in ‘Sew pretty homestyle’ by Tilda.
Generally I’m quite pleased with this, but the measurements are so out, my wall hanging looks lopsided and also a bit crumpled. I cut this by eye…you should see how wonky the insides are.

Project two is a little patchwork pot holder from ‘The impatient patch worker’ by Jayne Emerson. I thought this little project would give me the right kind of practice, putting colours together, cutting blocks and sewing together. It did give me this kind of practice, but highlighted how much I need to improve before considering cutting up the fabric for the quilt. My potholders pattern looks pants (I love that word), it’s much smaller than it should be and it’s crumpled!

The good news, I think I could remedy most of the problems I encountered quite easily.
These are the ‘tips’ – not sure a novice should be giving ‘tips’, but these are the glaringly obvious things I would do differently next time!

1. Colour selection. Project number one was fine, its quite difficult to go wrong with two colours. Project two a partial disaster. My colours all merged into one and some of the patches touched identical patterns (see the red gingham and the pastel green fabric). Next time I would either cut more fabrics to avoid duplication and maybe add an accent colour to add interest.

2. Iron fabric. Crumpled fabric looks rubbish. Nuff said. Must actually wheel out the iron*. Washing the fabric is also recommended by most people (at this stage in my sewing career, I’m far too impatient to wash fabric…so we shall see what happens by ignoring this advice!)

3. Measure! Somebody with eyesight as dodgy as me should not be trusted to cut anything by eye. I’m going to buy a mat and a ruler. Ironing the fabric would probably make things easier too!

4. Cutting equipment. My cutting improved drastically when I bothered to fish out a cutting wheel that I inherited somewhere along the line, scissors took forever to use and made everything wonky! The blades were semi blunt, so I’m going to buy new blades, for super sharp edges.

5. Seam allowance. I was far too generous with the seam allowance, playing it safe and also to make up for the wonky seems. Neater fabric and being braver, would have given my pot holder the chance to be a bit bigger than a postage stamp.

6. Read patterns thoroughly. I spent more time staring at the pretty pictures, hard not to especially the Tilda book, then reading the instructions. The instructions in the Impatient Patchworker were actually some of the clearest I have seen..she says after the horse has left the stable!

*Ironing. Where do I start? That was the question I asked myself 5 years ago, knee deep in laundry waiting to be ironed. Instead of doing what most normal people do, iron it and move on, I buried my laundry under my mattress! Yes, crazy I know, and from that day on I have not ironed a stitch. I could write a whole post on how to get round this…

My adorable boy deciding what mummy should make next.

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Yum yum in my tum…Gluten free Coffee & Walnut Cake

Anybody who knows me well, will tell you that baking cakes are not my strong point. There have been disasters with seemingly simple recipes, cookies that leaked orange juice, sponges so crispy you could file your nails on them and who could forget the “stink” cake, so disgusting, that my colleagues took dares to avoid eating it! That was all until my mum bought me Harry Eastwood’s Fabulous book ‘Red velvet and chocolate heartache’.

On first inspection, I thought hmm lots of pretty cakes, but we won’t be having any of those because A) I can’t bake and B) they all contain gluten. Mr Egg was diagnosed with Coeliacs five years ago and I can’t be trusted with a whole gluten containing cake, so we only have gluten free cakes…I only eat half the cake then! But, the cakes in this book are ALL gluten free! They are made with rice flour and use various vegetables, yes really, and are simply the yummiest cakes around! I think I have so far made at least 10 of the cakes, and not one has let me down, which is pretty amazing for me!

I made the Coffee and Walnut courage cake today as a treat for Mr Egg, he has been studying very hard recently for his accountancy exams, and today was the last of three big exams, so Mr Egg picked his cake last night, and I made it this morning.

I am very pleased with how it turned out, and I also got the chance to display it on my lovely spooky cake stand.

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Saturday night sewing…honestly it beats Margaritas and dancing on bars

Can’t believe I wrote that! Yes, of course Margaritas and dancing on the bar are much more fun (usually), but for those with small people in bed, a husband studying his arse off and no babysitter, one has to make their own fun. Last night instead of watching crap tv on my own and lamenting the days I could make plans more easily, I decided to sew. And I rather liked it.

I made a little heart, which I hand stitched. I haven’t done any sewing in ages, so I thought it would be good practice before attempting to make Baxter a quilt (even though I will be using a sewing machine). I used a sweet stripy green fabric, a piece of cerise ribbon and a little button decoration. The coolest part was my ingenious idea for stuffing the heart (not my face haha), I opened up an old cushion pad that was destined for the bin and used the stuffing from that.

Also thought I would show you my fab Gel Nails that my friend did for me…aren’t they great?!

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