Posts Tagged 'sewing'

Wedding dress

Now the big day has come and gone I can post about my wedding dress without worrying about spoiling the surprise for Dan.

Making my own wedding dress was something I was set on from the start. I can sew, so why pay stupid amounts of money for a dress you are only going to wear once. Not to mention that all the dresses in the one bridal shop I cruised through were fugly – every one of them in a ruched/gathered style and in the kind of off-white colour I had previously only experienced adorning the walls of student accommodation. Plus they all cost between three and four figures. While I’m not exactly sure, because my awesome Mum insisted on paying for the fabric, I’m pretty confident that pattern, notions, and fabric for my dress cost less than £100.

The dress is very simple. I opted for this partly because it’s my style, and partly to avoid making things difficult for myself in what were soon to become some very stressful months. The wedding was on grass, which could have been mud had the weather been inclement, so no train. The requirement for simplicity and lack of train meant that I pretty much had the pick of prom dress patterns. I went for a princess-seamed, halterneck style. The pattern was simple enough that it would do for both wedding dress and bridesmaid dress, so the plan was hatched to make identical dresses for me and Frances, but in mirrored colours. For me: white with a blue ribbon; for her: blue with a white ribbon. This tactic had the additional advantage of allowing us to effectively have a practice run of cutting out the bridal dress, in cutting out the bridesmaid dress.

Mum came down to help me with the cutting out and getting me started on the sewing by fitting the bodice for me, I had some fun with time lapse creating a video of us doing that. Once that was done I took the white fabric and she the blue and we got sewing. Mum made all of Frances’s dress and hemmed and finished off mine. She pretty much rocks.

The only hitch in the process, apart from the self-inflicted stress and angst, came early in the project – when out of nowhere a greasy black blob (only a mm or two across) appeared on the bodice fabric. Thankfully it was on the inside and not visible through the fabric, but it certainly put the wind up me.


Cravats are a very wedding-specific thing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone wearing one in real life.

When Dan and I first got engaged and were talking about wedding colours, I happened to be in C&H Fabrics browsing the remnants table and saw a shiny bit of lightweight satin in one of the colours that we had talked about. (That same piece of fabric had its debut on this blog in the Blue Roses post – as a synthetic fabric rose).

I had a Google around for free cravat patterns, but had no luck. Though I did find a random forum post, which I am unable to rediscover for the purposes of linking to, that gave some measurements and instructions from which I could fairly easily devise a pattern.

A cravat is basically a long rectangle of fabric, with a point at one end and pleats in the middle. Out came the greaseproof papaer and the metre long metal ruler. 15 minutes later I had a pattern I was pretty chuffed with. My first one from scratch. I whipped up a quick cravat in a sexy lime green remnant of a similar weight of fabric. Job’s a good ‘un.

Four cravats later, and the total cost to me was 73p per cravat. When I think that Tie Rack sells them for £20 a pop, I can’t help but feel a little smug.

Stuffed baby blocks

Stuffed baby blocks

Originally uploaded by Kat Shann

I know I’m supposed to be getting on with sewing my wedding dress, but I’m easily distracted.
A couple of weekends ago we went to a Welcoming party for Dan’s newest nephew. True to our slightly disorganised form we found ourselves in the week beforehand with no present and no ideas for a present.
One lightbulb moment and a visit to the fabric stash later and I was on my way to making these blocks.
While it looks like it would be a lot of fiddly sewing, they were actually fairly easy. Each face is 7 x 7 cm. I cut four long strips of 9cm wide fabric in the gingham and the turquoise. These I sewed together at the long edges in alternating colours. As you can tell from some basic maths I did the stitching with a 1 cm seam allowance, mostly because the squares on the gingham were 1cm along the side and following the lines made the sewing easier and quicker.
So far so easy, now I had a long strip of fabric that I could take a 9 cm wide slice off of for each block. The next bit was slightly longer winded.
I had 18 white cotton squares that needed painting. I used Dylon iron-to-fix fabric paint, pinned the squares over black on white drawings of the letters, and traced the letters with paint. (On the back of each block is a number between 1 and 9).
Constructing the individual blocks was slightly fiddly, but easy to achieve on the sewing machine. On each block I left one side open, in order to turn the block through and stuff it. This side I sealed up with handstitching.

The blocks were well received, and I now have the task of filling in the rest of Alexander’s name in time for his birthday.


You know what they say about people from Yorkshire – they don’t like to part with their money. The thing I love to hate when it comes to weddings is the cost. It’s the happiest day of your life and everyone is out to make you pay through the nose for it. So a big saving that we could make is on garments. I have a sewing machine and I know how to use it. The DIY approach also means that you get closer to the thing that you want than if you try to find it pre-made. And the participants get to keep the waistcoats afterwards.

If I made waistcoats and cravats for the key gentlemen (groom, best man, and father-of-the-bride) and asked them to wear their own suits we could save a packet.

I found a simple waistcoat pattern online: McCalls 4321. Dan and I chose the fabric. Apply the one to the other and you get…

They’ve all turned out really well. I’m pretty happy with the three I’ve made so far. And the best part is that I have enough fabric left to make a fourth waistcoat for our newly promoted usher/musicmonger.


Dan recently bought himself a new gadget: an Acer Aspire. As usual I set about making a cover for it. As his first act was to remove the Windows 7 installation that it came with and install the latest Ubuntu netbook image I thought that a design based around the Ubuntu logo would be most appreciated.

Once I had decided to use the Ubuntu logo the inspiration to use one of the outer circles as a fastening was almost instant. A quick trip to C&H for the necessary fabrics and a big orange button and I was ready to go. The cover is a simple lined envelope, with craft vilene, to give structure, and wadding, to cushion the laptop.

On a roll, I used the same method, and some fabrics I had left over from previous projects, to make a similar case for my own laptop.

Project: Birthday Cushion

It was a friend’s birthday on Friday, his 30th, and he’s a guy and hence hard to buy presents for. I was mulling over ideas and thought about making something out of fabric, which is one of my few talents and my current priority hobby.

A quick rummage in the fabric stash and I came up with some heavy red and green cotton. This immediately lead me to the idea of a Welsh flag motif. My friend’s Welsh and something he was miffed about recently was that his bank are no longer going to be providing him with a credit card with the Welsh dragon on, instead he’ll have to make do with a bog-standard one.

So there’s no chance that I could make a Welsh dragon logo on anything smaller than A4 size without it looking rubbish – so the plan was formed: it would have to be a cushion cover. A quick rummage in the airing cupboard came up with an uncovered cushion and I was ready to go.

Cushions are square so cutting the green and white cotton to size was pretty easy. I went for double thickness as the fabrics were slightly to thin for upholstery use. It was the work of moments to whip up the front and two back pieces.

Next – the dragon. That was more of a challenge. I printed out an A4 size outline of the flag dragon and pinned it to a board, I then pinned the fabric over the drawing and traced the dragon with a black fabric marker. I ironed some fuseable interfacing to the back of the dragon and cut him out. This was all the easy bit. Next came the time consuming bit which was to pin and baste the dragon onto the cushion front. Slightly quicker, but still pretty time consuming was the process of machine stitching the dragon to the cushion.

Dragon done I quickly whizzed the cushion front to the cushion backs, turned it right-side out for a final iron, and then marvelled at the fact that it had turned out alright. Check it out:

Dan’s also going with the handmade present theme, and I’ll add a link to his post about his present when he blogs about it.

I’m hoping my friend likes his present, but personally I’m just chuffed that I can go from fabric stash, to idea, to design, execution and completion over two evenings if I put my back into it. This is definitely one of my more successful creative projects of late.

Project: Ragdoll

Today I finished sewing a ragdoll for Dan’s eagerly awaited new niece who is due next week. This is the third such doll I’ve ever made, and I think I’m getting better at it.

It took a couple of days worth of time when added all together, but more like three weeks from the start to the end of the project.

First I cut out the doll’s body pieces from an off-white cotton calico. Then sewed the arms and legs into shape, stuffed and sealed them. The ends of the limbs I sewed into the seams between the two pieces of torso fabric – leaving enough space to turn the doll rightside out and to stuff the body.

When I had a finished body I then started work on the hair and face. The hair is four different coloured wools and the eyes and lips are stitched using embroidery thread. The hair took a while – building up enough layers to cover all of the gaps that showed the doll’s scalp.

The dress was made from some offcuts I had left from making myself a skirt, she’s sewn into it at neck and waist. The shoes are made of some felt that I got in a box of fabric offcuts that I bought from someone at work for £1. They were mostly rubbishy but there’s been a few times when bits have come in handy. The pantalets under the dress are made of white cotton I had left from the lining of a summer dress that I made and they’re finished off with some white ribbon.

In the spirit of ragdolls this one was made mostly from fabric I had laying around. All I bought especially for this project was the wool for the hair and some extra stuffing. I think it turned out OK, but the pattern I work to makes a doll which is a little long in the neck. Also the pattern pieces are getting a little worn around the edges. I think that next time I make a ragdoll I’ll redraw the pattern onto some brown paper and change the shapes a little to make the doll look more like what I want.

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