Tag Archives: fabric

Me Made May 2016

30 Apr

In May 2014 I was in awe of all the wonderful Me Made May photos popping up on Instagram, at the time I was very much of the opinion of “wow, I’d love to do that… but I don’t have enough handmade items, or the time to do it!” Then May 2015 came round and I there were lots more lovely handmade and inspiring outfits cropping up. However last year I thought, this time next year, maybe I’d join in…!

The knitters and sewers at Knit In Notts have spoken about it a few times with no real commitment being stated so when I saw that Jem Weston had shared her pledge on Instagram (@jemweston) last week it gave me the kick up the bum to also join in!

This is my pledge – stated over on  “So Zo…What do you know?” blog (the creator of the MMM challenge).

 ‘I, Steph Gibbs (nettynot.wordpress.com @nettynot on Instagram), sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’16. I endeavour to wear a handmade garment, each day for the duration of May 2016, as well as finish some UFO’s!’


I feel I need to remind myself that a challenge, which Me Made May is, should test me, if it’s too easy it’s not a challenge. I do not own enough items to wear a different handmade item every day, however I’m already looking forward to being more creative with my outfits. I intend to include garments that I’ve customised in some way too, as that’s always a useful skill and a nice way to rescue clothing or make then your own. I also hope that this challenge will make me more productive and think about how I’m using my time in the evenings, so I can be more efficient and finish some UFO’s.

I’m going to address a few different areas of my handmade wardrobe for this challenge….

Sewing – I’m going to look at all the handmade garments in my wardrobe, mostly skirts, that just require slight adjustments to make them wearable again.

Knitting – I’m going to wear more of my hand knitted garments, I have several that I don’t make the most of, which is madness when I think about the amount of time spent making them.

Jewellery – Almost all of my jewellery I have made myself (occupational hazard) and have so many necklaces and bracelets, yet I always wear the same few on rotation. So I’m going to wear more of the vast array I have (& maybe cull the items that I’m not going to wear again – it is the right time for a Spring clean after all).

There’s a few specific things that I’d like to do during May and this challenge (I am aware I’m being a little ambitious, but if I commit them to computer screen, they’re more likely to get done) and it’s not as though once May is over I’m not allowed to keep challenging myself, right?!

I have already cut out all the pattern pieces (about 6 months ago) to make the Mimi blouse from Tilly and the Buttons – Love at first stitch book, I have suitable fabric that already washed n ready to go. I intend to complete this by the end of May!

Cross Pockets
I have brought the problematic Cross Pockets Cardigan out of hibernation and ripped it back to the waist ready to re-knit and hopefully fix the issues I had – I want to complete this by the end of May too!

Mini blouse fabric - Nettynot Blog

I stared a dress version of Coco last summer, however when it got to the trying on stage I realised it just wasn’t going to be a flattering fit. Disappointed and slightly annoyed with it, it has sat in a cupboard out of sight ever since. However that’s no reason why I can’t turn it into another Coco top, which again I’d like to achieve before the end of May.

As well as fixing and adjusting any handmade items in my wardrobe that don’t fit I also intend to tackle my pie of broken jewellery/not quite finished jewellery.

I’m not a huge fan of a selfie (also I’m pretty rubbish at photographing myself) however I do endeavour to record at least some of my MMM16 progress over on Instagram (@nettynot) if you’d like to follow.

Thanks for reading 🙂


Re-loved Dresses

22 Apr

A couple of years ago, I went with my Mum to a favourite haunt, a large Antique centre near Lancaster. Mostly I swoon over furniture and random bits and bobs of haberdashery and retro crockery, there’s always plenty of new stuff each time I visit! On this occasion I bought two Vivien Smith dresses, (possibly from the early 90’s at a guess). There’s a certain amount of personal nostalgia surrounding these dresses, the designer is not widely known (as a google search proved) but had a few shops near the area I grew up and I have fond memories of my Mum wearing similar dresses  to work when I was growing up.
Vivien Smith Dress - Netttynot BlogI was initially attracted to the fabric and how much there was of it, then my Mum and I shared an “Oh look”, moment when we saw the familiar labels. Then on further inspection I saw they were both the right size-ish and I had actually rather fallen for the lovely neat sewing detail on each one.  However there were no price tags – it’s usually this point where I start to dread the worse. However I took my favourite of the two dresses to the main counter to see if they knew how much it was… they did, it was only £10!!! So a quick dash back for the second dress (also only £10!!!) and I went happily home with both of them, reassuring myself that even if they didn’t fit me I couldn’t have bought that much nice fabric for the same price.
Red Vivien Smith Dress - Nettynot BlogOnce I got them home I tried them on, to be honest I looked like something straight off the set of little house on the Prairie, they were far from flattering, with their large puffy weird length sleeves, high necklines and mid calf length hems. However undeterred I decided with the red dress I might create a pinafore from it, but I don’t think that something I’ll be doing too soon, I’m keeping my eye out for inspiration, as that one will need much more work. With the greeny blue dress (my favourite) I got stuck straight in, made a few simple alterations I took the sleeves off, slimmed them right down reattached them back in place and sewed the cuffs back on. I also chopped a good few inches off the bottom, (some of which made it into my Mum’s quilt). I was pleased with the result, however there was still something not quite right with the fit or style, I’ve tried it on a few times, however I have stalled in my progress and the dress has been hibernating for some time now.
Blue Vivien Smith before and after - nettynot blogWearing the Blue Vivien Smith Dress - Nettynot blogI tried on the bluey green dress on, again, and showed a few friends at our sewing group, after getting over the giggles, they said the collar made it seems quite childish, (I rather like the collar) but I do see what they meant. My Mum thinks I need to raise the waist line slightly; I’m inclined to agree with this, I do have a short torso so regularly have this issue. However I can’t help but feel that in order for me to wear this dress and feel comfortable doing so it might need a bit more modernisation. Something I’ve been considering is cutting a new neckline…. which scares me slightly – what if it all goes horribly wrong.

What would you do, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you’d modernise or adapt the dress without losing the lovely detail.

Thanks for Reading!

A Colourful Birthday

10 Aug

It was inevitable and last week it happened….. I turned 30 – eek!  I had a great time, celebrations made it across 2 weeks – well why not?

30th Birthday Card made by Jem Weston - Nettynot Blog

Given that my small family are spread about the country, I gathered them up for lunch and a potter around Chatsworth gardens on a lovely Sunny Sunday afternoon – the gardens were a colourful delight!

Chatsworth Gardens - Nettynot Blog

I have always wanted to do a Murder Mystery and decided my birthday would be the perfect opportunity. So having looked at several options I decided hosting it at home and getting everyone to dress up from the 80’s would make my day! It did! Everyone made so much effort and I was thrilled. I also rather enjoyed making 80’s decorations and biscuits (yes, they’re rubik’s cube biscuits, and yes, they took ages – but worth it)!

80's Murder Mystery - Nettynot Blog

My wonderful crafty friends got me a fantastic present! They all chipped in and got me a place on the Amy Butler Colour story workshop held at the NEC as the Festival of Quilts was getting set up! It was a great day, I went along with my good friend Jem Weston and had a fun and relaxed day cutting and sticking bits of paper and fabric creating our own unique colour boards. (You can read Jem’s blog post about the workshop here).
  Jem, Amy Butler and I - Nettynot BlogMy Colour Story - Amy Butler - Nettynot Blog

I love Amy Butler’s bright vibrant patterns, so it was fascinating hearing all about her design process and where her colour inspiration comes from and how she creates her own colour collages to inform her new collections. Her latest collection called ‘Glow’ is out in the UK very soon, it was great to get a close up look on the day. My favourite fabric from the collection reminds me a little of the 80’s – in a good way – bright and bold!
Amy Butler - Glow collection - Nettynot Blog

What made my day later in the week was Amy’s Instagram image from our workshop day featuring me and a small section of my collage – slightly over excited – eeep!!!
Amy Butler's Photo CollageYou can follow Amy on Facebook here.

Patchwork Star Cushion

26 May

So this time last year I was starting to think about my entries into the Lunesdale agricultural show, you can see my post about the show here! I was pleased last year to have won 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes for some of my pieces. I also promised last year a post about my first prize winning cushion – an English paper piece patchwork star cushion.

Fabric - nettynot blog

The inspiration for this cushion came from 1 single fat quarter I picked up, quite randomly, at Hopkinson Vintage, Antique and Art Centre in Nottingham. I was drawn to the patterned stripes and at £2 I could hardly leave without it. At the time I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but an idea quickly formed.

I love patchwork that plays with fabric pattern as well as patchwork shapes. Using stripes are one of the most effective ways of adding that extra element.

Patchwork - Nettynot Blog
paper pieces patchwork - Nettynot Blog

So that’s the approach I went for, a simple, but effective, star shape created from 6 fabric diamond. I cut all the diamonds out of my fabric so that the more dominant stripe went straight through the centre, so that when they were sewn together each piece would have a stripe going from the centre out to each point of the star. I sewed the diamonds together by hand and positioned them on my plain square of fabric and top stitched around the edge of the star with my machine.

patchwork star - nettynot blog

I then cut some of the stripes out of the fabric and created a boarder around the square of fabric to frame the star (the corners were tricky as I wanted the stripes to form a neat point (some are definitely neater than others). The one below I was particularly chuffed with.  I then sewed more plain  fabric strips around the square to finished the front, I didn’t do anything fancy here, just added straight pieces on to each side, like a log cabin.
Patchwork Corner - Nettynot Blog

Up to this point I had completed the idea I had, I still however had to turn it into an actual cushion. I don’t usually put too much effort into the back of a cushion particularly since it rarely gets seen. My preferred method for all  the cushion I’ve made for myself have been to just have two piece of fabric that over lap on the back, creating a sort of pocket effect to put the cushion in (sometimes I add a popper if it gapes a little). However for the competition piece I decided to put a little more effort in and although I did do my usual over lapping fabric effect I added a decorative strip of fabric to the exposed edge and added 3 self covered buttons and made matching button loops.
Button band detail - Nettynot Blog

I really enjoyed making the cushion and thinking on my feel a little for this project and I was rather pleased with the result. I must admit I was a more than a little surprised, but also thrilled when I won on the day mainly because the other entries were very good, including an lovely layered Chenille cushion which must have taken ages and looked very effective. I can only imagine that it was my attention to detail in the finishing that sealed the win.

Finished Patchwork star cushion - Nettynot Blog

If you like paper piece patchwork but can’t bring yourself to do a whole quilt, a cushion cover or other small project like a tote bag could be the perfect creation for you – why not give it a go!

Now it’s time for me to get thinking about whether to enter another cushion into the show this year. I’m going to go and browse back through my Pinterest board of patchwork and quilt of pieces that I love and have inspired me, you can also check it out here, if you like.

Sewing Coco

7 May

Over the bank holiday I eventually got around to sewing Tilly and the Buttons’ Coco pattern, I only bought the pattern nearly 2 months ago – eek. I’ve been challenging myself with a few different sewing techniques recently, mainly making cushions. However sewing my own clothes is a little different. I am quite happy adjusting the odd item of clothing like turning an old dress into a skirt. But sewing an entire garment I’ve not done since my make a dress in a day workshop last year (the dress has sadly never been worn). The workshop was supposed to kick start my garment sewing, but really it was seeing this simple pattern for something I would actually wear that has got back my sewing mojo!

Coco Sewing Pattern - Nettynot Blog
Sewing Coco

The pattern is very clear and has a top and a dress version – I went for the top on my first attempt. It’s a straight forward and easy pattern, perfect for a beginner or someone like me, new to sewing knit fabric. I bought the pattern as a printable PDF, which comes with black and white printed instructions and a clear way of ensuring the pattern prints to the correct size. My first challenge was finding the right kind of knit fabric, unfortunately all my local fabric stores didn’t stock anything suitable. So I resorted to buying online (which can be a little bit of a gamble not seeing or feeling the fabric first), though thankfully Tilly put together a useful guide and some suggested links to where you could buy the right fabric.

Fabric for Coco - nettynot Blog
I must admit I was quite surprised by the price of a lot of fabrics, once you’d bought 2m and included p+p you’re looking at £30-£35 – ouch! Not having made anything like this before and not knowing whether it would fit or even suit me I wasn’t prepared to pay that much. So a bit further searching was required I came across several blog posts of people who’d recently completed a Coco project and followed several links to where the makers had bought their fabric and eventually stumbled across a cheap and cheerful fabric , I paid £12 for 2m, including p+p from Tissu Fabrics which I was much more comfortable paying for a trail run. I went for something bright and fun and when it arrived it really was bright.

Tilly and the button's Coco blog - Nettynot Blog
I started reading all the information on Tilly’s very useful blog posts, I am much more of a visual person I’d always rather follow photos than text, so the combination of both her written instructions and her blog with loads of photos were brilliant, I just set my laptop up next to my sewing machine – perfect!  The blog posts are very easy to follow and broken down to manageable chunks. I did the majority of the project in one go, last Sunday afternoon, from cutting the fabric and sewing most of it together and finished it off on Monday – I do love a Bank Holiday! This is how I got on…

Adjusting the pattern - Nettynot Blog
Cutting the pattern out – I liked being talked through how to alter the pattern, I am very much smaller on top than round my hips and ended up with a size 3 on top and size 4 on the waist and hips. I also shortened the top by 1 inch from the centre.

Cutting the fabric – I found this quite tricky to handle, especially when it came to finding the centre to fold, however I little time and patients got it sorted and I used a rotary cutter to cut the pieces out, something I’d never done before and it works brilliantly.

Sewing Coco – Again things I’ve never done before, stay stitching and stabilising seams – brilliant!  I found reading through each step before I got started was great, I know that sound like a obvious statement, but I’m quite good at thinking I know what I’m doing and jumping ahead, so I took it slow and steady and followed each step carefully – with great results.

Pressing an arm sleeve - Nettynot Blog
It never occurred to me to use a rolled up towel to press sleeve seams open – genius idea and it worked brilliantly!

Neck hole in Coco - Nettynot Blog
I did worry at one point that my neckline didn’t look right – it didn’t match Tilly’s photo, however I continued on and put it down to my fabric being a little stiff, I needn’t have worried as it was fine in the end.

Coco - pinning in the sleeve - Nettynot Blog
I did find pinning the knit fabric a little tricky and having read the advice on the blog I was quite careful not to force the pins through (I did find giving the pins a little twist helped).

Altering the seem - Nettynot Blog
Adjustments – Once my Coco was in one piece (pinned not sewn yet) I tried it on and found it was a little baggy around the arm pits, so I took the seam in an extra 10mm where the sleeve meets the body on each side and it did the job.

Finished Coco top - Nettynot Blog
Something I found quite tricky was actually the last part, sewing the bottom hem. The blog post said you could use a straight stitch or zig-zag. I started with a straight stitch and found it very awkward, the fabric just wanted to pucker and it did not go well. I ended up un-picking the line of stitching, adding lots more pins, then going for a zig-zag stitch and that sorted it! I was finished!

A little tip: If you intend to make the top version of the Coco in a small size you can easily get away with only 1.5m of fabric. I have over half a meter left, plus excess (which would have been enough for the funnel neck, pockets and cuff), my fabric was 1.5m wide.

I’m very pleased with my finished top, it is overall a little large, including on my shoulders, so I may go down a size for the next one, but the style of the top forgives a little excess fabric. My fabric seems a little stiff and I think that is a result of going for a cheap and cheerful fabric, however I have not been put off and I will wear the top. I do intend to make another and I will be much happier to splash out on nicer fabric, possibly with stripes, I’ll probably go for a dress, with short sleeves – perfect for summer!

Me in my Coco Top - Nettynot Blog
I wrote the above part of my post on Monday while it was all fresh in my mind, butI ran out of time to edit images so I have had to wait until today, my day off, to post it – however it gave me the chance to show off my top at work and knit group yesterday – it went down very well. I also enlisted my friend Lynsey’s help in getting a good photo of me wearing my Coco – Ta dah (I’m generally not photogenic – but I like this shot)!

If you’re thinking about sewing the Coco I would recommend checking out Tilly on Pinterest – she has a board dedicated to Coco, full of other peoples finished projects along with her various Coco creations. There’s some fantastic colour combinations and fabric choices – ooh the inspiration!

Amsterdam Applique Cushion

23 Apr

I have always loved the look of the buildings in Amsterdam, I’ve never been myself, but I have seen images of the iconic buildings along the canals. So when my sister and her boyfriend visited Amsterdam last year, I was very pleased they sent me a postcard of the very same iconic streets.  It also sparked an idea, one that stayed brewing in my mind for a while before I got the chance to give it a go.

Amsterdam Postcard - Cushion Inspiration - Nettynot Blog

My idea was to create an appliqué street design based on the wonderful buildings. The perfect opportunity arrived to put my plan into action when my sister and her boyfriend bought a flat earlier this year, so I set about creating a flat warming gift of a handmade cushion. So with the help of the postcard and a quick google image search I drew out a rough street plan.

Drawing of Amsterdam Building for Cushion - Nettynot Blog
I purposely didn’t want to make it too neat, so I started drawing by hand and then neatened up the edges when I started cutting out the templates. Having only moved into their flat a few months ago they haven’t got around to decorating yet so I decided to select colours that should hopefully go with everything, resulting in a combination of greys and cream, with just a splash of colour.

Amsterdam Buildings cut out - Nettynot Blog
Once I cut my templates out, including all the fiddly windows, I decided the order of the buildings. Then I cut pieces of bondaweb for each building (leaving the windows in and making the bondaweb a little bigger than needed). I ironed the bondaweb onto my selected fabrics and then cut them down to size making the edges nice and neat.  I then traced the windows into position and cut them out with a craft knife, it took a little longer than I anticipated, but was worth it.

Lining up Fabric Buildings - Nettynot Blog
I had intended to use some of the cut out windows to fill in the windows of the other houses, swapping the colours around, which I did do for a few of the buildings, however I did find trimming down and filling all the windows a little laborious and fiddly. So I changed tack and added plain fabric to the back of some of the houses instead, which made life much easier.

All windows ready - Nettynot Blog
Having lined everything up with the help of my long patchwork ruler I got everything stuck into place with the iron.

Amsterdam cushion - ironed in place - Nettynot Blog
I sewed around the edge of everything with the solid zig-zag. However having chosen mostly thin cotton fabric, the cream fabric was a little thicker and caused a few problems when it came to sewing over the edges, as I stitched over all the vertical lines bits of the fabric started poking out in between the zig-zag stitches – eeeek! It was too late to change anything so I proceeded  armed with a little frustration and determination and stitched over the cream edges again and in some cases a third time as well. I also decided to remove the cream windows I had planned to add to one of the buildings –  I figured it would tie the background colour into the design more, or as my sister later stated it looked like a derelict building – I can live with that.

Amsterdam buliding detail - Nettynot Blog
In the end all the hard work was worth it, this was my first big appliqué project, I learnt a lot, the finished item is not perfect and there’s a few things I would do differently next time, but I am rather happy with it and the reaction when the gift was opened was great. They instantly recognised it as Amsterdam, which I wasn’t sure they would, given my artistic licence with the building designs.

Amsterdam Cushion in it's new home - Nettynot Blog

Quilting an Heirloom

24 Mar

There has been a major project under wraps in my house recently, which for the past few months has absorbed my time and took over the living room. This endeavor is the beginning of the end of a family heirloom.

To put into context I have always been interested in sewing and making things. I have a vague memory of trying to make an outfit for a Barbie with a scrap of fabric and some elastic – it wasn’t terribly successful but it sparked something an interest in sewing and I’ve continued to dabble ever since. Some projects have been successful, others not so – but I’ve learnt a lot along the way.

I have also become a fabric magpie too – I have SO much fabric, it is a little ridiculous, some pieces I’ve bought on a whim because I loved a pattern, other bits were bargains from remnant sales, car boots and vintage fairs. A lot I have acquired over many years, from friends, my Gran and a few select bits from my Mum.

The stars starting to stack up.

The stars starting to stack up.

Amongst the bits I found in my Mum’s stash of fabric was be the beginnings of an English paper piece patchwork item. There were lots of diamond shapes, some already sewn into stars. I first discovered them about 15 years ago rummaging through my mum’s wonderful trunk of crafty items.

Along with the colourful stars were loads of navy ones - I made the assumption they were intended to fill the gaps between the stars and went for it.

Along with the colourful stars were loads of navy ones – I made the assumption they were intended to fill the gaps between the stars and went for it.

Having collected up all the diamonds and stars they sat amongst my collection of fabric with the vague idea of continuing with the stars and turning them into a quilt some day. They stayed in my collection until several years ago, when a few of my knitting friends and I decided to also have regular sewing meet ups. I thought this would give me the perfect opportunity to continue with it.

The coming together of all the diamonds.

The coming together of all the diamonds.

For the past few years I’ve been making slow and steady progress until I decided about a year ago that it’d be a lovely idea to finish the quilt and give it back to my mum as a gift on her 60th Birthday this year, which happened last weekend.

The finished patchwork top - painstakingly all hand sewn - but well worth it - this photo makes be very happy!

The finished patchwork top – painstakingly all hand sewn – but well worth it – this photo makes be very happy!

I have been dying to write a blog post or two about the quilt as I’ve been making it but I also wanted it to be a surprise and my Mum reads my blog (Ello Mum)! So now I can shout all about it! I did underestimate the amount of time that it would take it complete and even thought I have spent almost all my spare time working on it for two months I didn’t complete it in time. However I wrapped it up in its unfinished state and gave to her. It has almost become a trademark of mine to give my family unfinished gift and it did raise a laugh as I announced it wasn’t finished yet.

The home stretch - I just have to finish the actual quilting - which fortunately I am able to do on my sewing machine, then edging.

The home stretch – I just have to finish the actual quilting – which fortunately I am able to do on my sewing machine, then edging.

I think I will enjoy working on it more now, without a looming deadline. It will also give me a chance to improve my quilting skills (I’m not convinced what I’ve done so far it that great). I much prefer the patchwork part of a quilt but I appreciate the overall effect of a finished quilt so I know it will be worth all the effort.


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