The Clemence Skirt

Hooray, I made my first project from Tilly Walnes’s book ‘Love at First Stitch’ – and I love it! I chose the Clemence skirt, mainly because I wanted to use the fabric I bought at the car boot sale a few weeks back for a measly 25p. I kid you not. 1.10 metres, of fabulous quality black cotton. It pays to rummage!6e4f290085082e3372eac19bfcd4a06f^ Obviously not my photo…. Source: http://shop.tillyandthebuttons.com/collections/all/products/love-at-first-stitch

The instructions were AMAZING. So, so clear and easy to follow. I’m DEFINITELY going to make something else out of the book. I love the look of the Lilou dress but maybe I should build up to that like the book suggests…

To begin with, you need to measure yourself and create your pattern – which is basically a few rectangles.

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Easy peasy. Or not. I failed – the finished skirt was a good couple of inches too big for me. ARGHHH!!! Of course, I only realised this once it was 100% finished – zip in, hemmed, final press…! But luckily I have a sister. So instead of taking my careful work apart, I let her try it on for size. And, as if it was meant to be, it fitted! So now I have lost my 25p [plus zip] skirt :( But it’s gone to a good home so it’s not too sad really.

For the purposes of this blog, I did photograph me wearing it – pulling it together at the back! So here it is…

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I hope this has taught me the importance of measuring properly and trying things on before it’s too late. Because I love the skirt! It’s so ‘me’.

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From the beginning, then. As I mentioned, I had just over 1m of fabric to use. I was so lucky here. It was just about right. I had to flip one of the waistband pieces to cut it across the grain (or is it along, not across? Whichever is not normal!!) because I would have run out of fabric for the grain to run along the same way. But it’s fine – the fabric is plain, and besides, one of the pieces is actually a facing so isn’t seen!

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Look at that for a tight fit. I’m not sure what my daughter’s scribbles symbolise. Maybe she was trying to tell me it was the wrong size…

The annoying thing about having to wait until at least 8pm before I’m able to do anything I want to do is that I had to wait until the following evening to start the actual sewing – what a nuisance.
But I got stuck in as soon as I could, and… learnt how to do French seams! I often want to do these – but only think of it once I have started sewing. You need to stitch wrong sides together, so you really need to plan in advance. But because the instructions are to sew French seams, I did it! And they turned out great (even if I do say so myself).

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One of the best things I think I learnt in the making of the Clemence was in the gathering stage. Tilly suggests that you use brightly coloured threads for this step, so they can easily be seen. Well, this is GENIUS. Yes, so obvious, and I feel rather stupid admitting it but this is one of the best tips I’ve learnt recently!! My God, it made the gathering process easier. I would still be sat here now trying to find the threads had I stitched them in black.

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Still, it did take me ages to gather the fabric. There was A LOT of it. But I got there in the end; with only a few threads snapping! Thank goodness The Great British Bake Off was on at the time. Aren’t the gathers so cute!

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Oh, and also, Tilly advises to sew in sections – so there were four sections of gathers to pull, instead of one loooooong strip. I am so thankful that she advised this. I would have just done the whole thing in one go, and got mad at it, trying to gather around a metre of thick-ish fabric! Of course, when I think about it, it makes perfect sense to just section it – but my brain is clearly frazzled by listening to constant babble all day long!

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I love how the skirt poofs out – for want of a better word. It will be a really versatile piece in the wardrobe.

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Unfortunately, the zip is slightly wonky. It’s probably not noticeable when worn, but I think it does veer slightly off centre. One of those annoying things…

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… And the other is that there’s a mark on the waistband that won’t budge. I think I glazed the fabric with the iron? Grrrr….. but do not fear, for I have a plan; I’m going to make a cute bow belt (also from Tilly’s book) to cover it. And you’d never know it’s there. :)

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But overall the pattern and finished skirt I think are fabulous, and I am definitely going to make another :) I’m on the hunt for more bargain fabric…

Beth x

Sharing the Love (Awards and Celebrations)

I think it’s about time I shared the awards that I have been kindly nominated for with you all.

A few weeks ago, Mary @ Dodgy Zebra nominated me for the One Lovely Blog award. Thank you!

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And then shortly after that, Samantha at Strings Attached gave me the Liebster award. Thank you!!

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I’m so sorry I haven’t got around to writing about them. But I’m now [virtually] putting on my best frock and accepting them with tears of joy.

I’m going to merge them together because of course they are similar in nature – they’re kind of getting-to-know-you chain letters in the blogging world (although I hadn’t yet come across the One Lovely Blog chain, it is just like the Versatile Blogger award!)

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Receiving the One Lovely Blog nomination means that I must share seven things about myself. I’ve decided not to do this because a) I shared seven things when I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger award, and b) see below…!

When you’re nominated for the Liebster Award, you answer ten questions posed by the nominator and then nominate ten more small bloggers and ask them ten new questions.

The questions I have answered (below) tell you [more than] seven things about me – therefore linking up the One Lovely Blog award, too.

1. What is your creative process?

I would say that it begins with research. I am a subscriber to Love Sewing magazine, which has some good inspiration in it. I read several blogs, which have certainly opened up my creative world. And I browse Pinterest. I’ll pick something to make, mostly on how straightforward it looks to a) prepare (i.e. printing patterns = urgh) and b) make. I will then make it, and a lot of the time my creative process is completed by writing about it, which is another creative process altogether I guess!

2. What can you absolutely not function without?

Sleep!

3. What is your favorite part of your day and why?

Would it be incredibly selfish of me to say the evening, when the girls are in bed and I get my dose of ‘me time’?!

4. What accomplishment are you most proud of? 

I’ve spoken about this before, and it still stands. Getting through university – pregnant in my first year, had the baby at the end of it, and carried on regardless, without referring any years or modules. That’s kind of two accomplishments rolled into one, if you think about it.

5. What is your favorite book and why?

I don’t think I have a favourite book. There are books I have enjoyed, but I have never chosen a favourite. Sorry!

6. What makes you fangirl?

What is fangirl?! *Goes off to Google….* OK – “a female fan, especially one who is obsessive about comics, film, music, or science fiction.” Hmm…. I really don’t think I’m obsessed with anyone. God, I’m boring.

7. How do you deal with stress?

Sew! I can’t focus on anything else when I’m sewing; I’m in my own bubble and nothing else can bother me. If I can’t sew, I’ll probably go for a walk. Or eat chocolate.

8. What is your favorite food?

Pasta – ideally with a nice creamy sauce. Strangely, I never make it myself with a creamy sauce… but I like to choose that when eating out!

9. Who inspires you?

I think there are a few people. These are the ones who spring to mind. In real life, I would say my grandad. He was always busy, working hard, and I feel like he had a fulfilled life. You don’t get anywhere sitting around doing nothing. And then there are people I don’t know; there’s one who started with very little and has built himself up to an amazing position – Lord Sugar. He shows me that you just need to grab any opportunity you’re given. And then there are people like Tilly Walnes aka Tilly and the Buttons. She was knocked out of the Great British Sewing Bee in the second round (I think?!) but has done so well regardless. Her blog is amazing, and her book equally so.

10. What do you love about yourself?

That’s difficult to answer, but what comes to mind is that I’m quite laidback. Things don’t very easily stress me out.

LOL!

LOL!

I have decided to gratefully accept the One Lovely Blog award but not pass it on – how very selfish of me. But I am passing on the Liebster award instead; I don’t want to bombard everyone with nominations!

So here are my ten questions for my chosen bloggers to answer…

1. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

2. Which movie would you watch over and over?

3. If you could be granted three wishes, what would you wish for?

4. Coffee or tea?

5. What are your pet hates?

6. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be?

7. What’s the story behind your blog name?

8. Do you have any pets?

9. Are you a lark or an night owl?

10. What was your favourite television programme as a child?

Aaaaand the blogs are (in no particular order!):

1. Mary @ Dodgy Zebra

2. Hannah @ QuirkyHannah

3. Rita @ Rita’s Design

4. Natalie @ Threads & Bobbins

5. Sewchet

6. Unlikely Lady of Leisure

7. Rita @ Loose Threads and Fluff

8. Creative Saturdays

9. Abby @ Mummy Doesn’t Bake

10. Sherry @ Sassy Shuga’s Place

Phew… now get clicking!! (The links will open a new window so you won’t lose your place here!)

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Finally there’s another thing I would like to show off… I shared my photo of my sleeveless Lottie Blouse that I made out of an old maxi dress on Love Sewing magazine’s timeline… Then they were impressed by it and shared it, which gave me (or rather, my blouse) an impressive 195 likes. It’s so crazy how ‘likes’ can make you feel. It’s nice to be liked, isn’t it?

Oh and on a similar note – This week I reached 100 followers on this blog. Yay! To have 100 random people out there (actually, I personally know about three of you) who have enjoyed reading my waffle is rather nice!

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So, THANK YOU for reading, liking, and commenting on my little sewing blog – especially if you’ve got all the way down to here!! You’ve made me happy!!

Beth x

A [Viscose!] Sleeveless Lottie Blouse

You might agree with me when I say that shopping online for fabric has its disadvantages. Yes it’s cheap (sometimes), yes it’s convenient, and yes you get a MASSIVE choice of fabulous fabrics. Still, I struggle to choose fabrics for dressmaking. The thing is, I want to touch the fabric; I want to hang it from my hand; I want to see it.

Hence I like to look elsewhere for my dressmaking fabrics. [In case you're wondering why I don't just go to a fabric shop - there isn't one very close to me!]

I rummage through charity shops and car boot sales. The boot sale isn’t very reliable but I did recently score a very nice metre-and-a-bit of black cotton for 25p!! More on that in a later post…

It’s not very often that I come across dressmaking fabrics in their whole form, though. I find that to get a nice dressmaking fabric, I have to think outside the box slightly.

If you’ve read some of my older posts you may know I quite like upcycling fabrics and clothing. Last week I showed you my girls’ dress made from an old duvet cover, and you may have seen some of my garment refashions too.

Well, here’s something new (to me; I’m quite aware I’m not the only one to do this!)

I spotted this large maxi dress at my local car boot sale a few weeks ago – I love wearing blue, and I thought the starry print was cute. It has an excellent drape; it’s really nice and soft. I snapped it up for £1. The thing is, it’s totally not my style. Oh, and it’s four sizes to big for me.P1080265

Of course, I didn’t see it as a dress. It’s fabric!

At first I thought it was a shame that it had a tie around the waist, but it didn’t turn out to be a problem.

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I chopped down the side seams, creating two large-ish pieces. I also salvaged the tie and straps (although of course I have no idea what I’ll use them for!)

I then had a think about what I could turn it into. As I said, the fabric drapes beautifully; it’s soft and slinky. Suddenly I decided on a blouse. I was looking for a pattern, then I remembered the Simple Sew Lottie Blouse. Perfect; I’ve made one before so I know it’s doable, and there’s the option to make a sleeveless one, which I thought would be ideal. Even though the dress was fairly large, there still wasn’t that much fabric once you take into account all the pieces that are needed to construct a garment, including seam allowances. So, a sleeveless Lottie Blouse it was to be!

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You may have seen this photo on my Sunday Sevens round up a couple of weeks ago. I couldn’t wait to get started cutting out so started in the daytime. Always a silly move. Someone likes to clamber all over my nicely laid out fabric and pieces, pointing at the pins and saying “pretty, pretty!”

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Well, this was a challenge. The fabric is 100% viscose. I usually play it very safe with cotton or polycotton. Viscose is a whole new world to me. Surprisingly, I got on OK cutting the fabric. The pieces were accurate enough! That is, until I got to the bias binding. My God, it was stretchy. It was stretchy not on the bias!

I sewed the bias binding to the neckline and it was a mess. I forgot to take a photo in all my disappointment! But trust me, it wasn’t good. The ends of the main fabric were still managing to poke out the bias binding. So it was basically falling off. The fabric frays a lot. So I pulled it off and started again. But this time I made the bias binding an inch wider than the pattern piece. I wasn’t looking forward to cutting and ironing the strip again, but needs must.

So this time, the binding was chunkier so held onto the edge a lot better. Phew.

The next problem that I had to contend with was the fact that I lost some of the edge in the process. So the neckline was rather big and low. It totally gaped. And I don’t do gaping low necklines. So I had to improvise a bit. [I know that the bow does cover it - but still. It was low!]

As it happens, I’m really pleased with what I did to pull the neckline up; I think it makes rather a nice feature. I grabbed a bit of elastic and simply threaded it through the neckline, pulling it together. I trimmed the ends and sewed a few stitches to keep it in place.

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Next I had to stitch on more bias binding around the armholes – but it went surprisingly well. I’m glad I switched to the slightly wider tape. It was a lot easier to handle – and I don’t think it looks bad thicker.

Then the next task was the collar that has funny instructions. You need a relatively long strip of fabric for the collar/necktie, but thankfully I was able to piece it together with three pieces – and the join line is hidden in the knot.

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I made up my own way of doing it this time, so that there was no raw edge showing. It’s so much better! As you can see below, the collar does ride up sometimes because the fabric is so lightweight and slippery. So I’m glad that there’s no raw edge to poke out! :)

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If you’re wondering how I did it… I followed the directions to the point where you press the necktie before topstitching the whole thing. Instead of topstitching, I just took the gap that was left for turning, and (with the seam allowances pressed inwards) I pinned and stitched it onto the top of the blouse, enclosing the raw edge – starting and ending at the points where my bias binding around the neckline start/finish.

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Lastly came the hemming stage. I was surprised at how well I handled it. It turned out really straight and even and cute… even though the photo below totally shows the opposite… it’s just how it’s fallen!!

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So there we have it!  An old maxi dress transformed into a cute little top that WILL be worn! It’s so comfortable and lightweight. Shame the weather’s going to turn soon, but it’ll be good under a cardi too! :)

Clothing refashion old maxi to funky new top!

Beth x

Let’s do the Blog Hop!

Hello and welcome to my first ever blog hop post!

Blog Hop

The lovely Teresa @ navybluethreads nominated me for a blog hop, which basically links us all up so that we can get to know each other better.

I really enjoy reading Teresa’s posts; she has an ever-increasing collection of Ginger skirts (Colette Patterns) and it seems she just knocks up clothing in the time it takes me to make a cup of tea!! So if you’ve not come from her blog, hop on over there :)

Before I introduce you to my chosen ‘hoppers’, here’s a bit of info about me and my blog…

Why do I write?

Well, I’ll start at the beginning. I started volunteering for my local newspaper, and the editor suggested everyone blogs. I wasn’t very aware of blogging at that time; I didn’t regularly read any blogs, and my reason for never starting my own was that I didn’t think I knew anything interesting to write about. I enjoy writing – I think I’m better at it than I am at talking. But I think my life is quite ordinary.

At the same time as the editor was suggesting this, I was getting into sewing. I used to dip in and out of sewing (mostly due to having children) but knew I enjoyed it. So, I thought, hmm… I could write about sewing. So I went for it. I discovered that I sew a lot more, and consequently learn a lot more, when I aim to write about it every week. It’s like there’s a deadline looming and I must finish making something. I enjoy sharing what I sew with other like-minded people. Writing my blog gives me something to focus on, and I think it has  definitely helped me improve my sewing abilities. I’m now dressmaking! I have learnt so much by just writing about it – strange when you think about it, really. Writing is helping me learn to sew!

Now, I’m writing this, and it’s going online – but I don’t actually mind too much if nobody is interested in it. I’m not trying to show off – I’m quite aware that I’m no expert (yet!) when it comes to sewing. Blogging is opening up my world. Things like this blog hop create links for me to find other material to read – and it helps me learn. You can never stop learning!

What am currently working on?

At the moment, I’m working on my second Sew Simple Lottie Blouse – a sleeveless version. It’s a challenge as I’m making it out of viscose. If it stops falling apart, I will write a post about it in the near future!

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How does it differ from others of its genre?

When I thought up the idea to write about sewing, I found that there are loaaaaads of sewing blogs out there. A lot of sewers blog about their creations. I like to think that I’m a teeny bit different as I am not only ‘showing off’ my makes; I am writing about the “highs and lows” – i.e. I try to write about the silly mistakes I make. I hope this is a comfort for beginner sewers to read!

Also, I do the majority of my sewing once my young daughters are tucked up in bed – so I only get a few hours a day. I think this blog proves that if you are a busy mum, you can still have that ‘me time,’ enjoying partaking in a hobby you love. I have made some pretty things for my girls, which I often write about because it’s fun! Perhaps other mums can relate.

And also, I have recently starting taking part in Sundays Sevens, where I write a post on Sundays showing seven photos from my week (clue’s in the name!) This gives you a little insight into my life – I don’t want to be a lifestyle blog, but I like to show that I am a normal person who sews in her spare time! And it’s fun! Which leads me onto my final point, that I must mention, as prompted by Teresa… I like to add a bit of jolliness if possible, by sharing the crazy things I make from time to time (e.g. my totally random washing-up-liquid bottle aprons!) After all… “If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.” ― Robert Frost.

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How does my writing process work?

I like to post once a week – however recently it has been more often as I have taken part in Sunday Sevens, and other bits and bobs sometimes pop up like this blog hop and awards I have been kindly nominated for. My writing process usually goes like this:

  1. I find something I want to sew.
  2. Whilst sewing, I think about whether or not it would be interesting to write about.
  3. If it makes the post, I will take some photos.
  4. I will sometimes begin drafting a post before I’ve finished making the project, if I want to jot down some errors I made or important things to remember.
  5. I then finish writing the rest of the post, and add photos.

I tend not to go over and over a post, because I feel I would be editing it forever and I would do nothing else with my life! I often do not type a whole post in one sitting, though. This is mainly because I just don’t have the time. I will usually write over 1-2 days.

Having said this, I did type this whole post up in one sitting. (However I had to leave it until now to post it to make sure my nominees wanted to take part in the hopping!) That was the most speedy blogging ever in the history of After Dark Sewing! This is because I plonked my little one in front of Cbeebies!!

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Now to pass on the blog hop baton to two bloggers who I am quite a loyal reader of!

Toya @ Made by Toya is also a mother of two and she makes some fantastic clothes for her children. I made my little girls’ dungarees using her pattern. She’s amazing!

Then there’s Becky @ SpringyStitches, who is apparently only a beginner at dressmaking, but her garments are amazing. She inspires me!

Have fun hopping!! :D

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Finally, if you’re new here, thanks for hopping along and getting to the end.

 

Beth x

Party Dress No. 2

I finally got round to making another party dress (by Cottage Mama) to match the one I made my eldest daughter a good couple of months ago!!

My motivation was my taking part in Sew Selfless September. This is my third and final piece of selfless sewing. (Not ever! Just for the challenge!)

*By the way, sorry for bombarding you with photos… I can’t choose the best ones!!*

party dress no. 2

I often make one thing using a pattern, and don’t use it again. This dress taught me that using a pattern again is great – I whizzed through it because of course I knew what I was doing.

If you read my post about my first party dress, you will know that I had some trouble with the alignment of the fairies. I was fussy; I wanted them all to line up. So I had some pieces cut from last time that I could use this time; just trimming the sides a little. That definitely sped up the cutting stage!

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If I’m honest, I think it’s a tad tight around the bust – well, it’s OK for now, but there’s little or no growing room there.

This is probably because I decided to put in normal buttons, after having problems making that blessed rouleau loop that should have been made to make the loop style buttonholes. I even have the fancy turner tool, but it just wasn’t working.

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So of course the bodice back pieces overlap slightly, which is included in the pattern. By this point, I’d already cut the pieces, so I wasn’t going to go back and make it bigger!

Little one needs to stop growing now anyway. She’s supposed to be my baby!

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I really need to learn how to tie a proper, neat bow. Having said that, even if I did have that knowledge, I’m not too sure that she’d stay still for me to do it neatly. I can just about manage a scruffy bow before she wriggles away!

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I just love this pattern. It’s so simple yet so rewarding. It’s such a classic party dress style. I was shopping earlier today and saw dresses similar to this (albeit not in such a cute print!) and thought to myself – do you know what, Beth? You don’t need to waste £15 on one of those, you can make one yourself. As long as you can find the right fabric, you can sew such pretty little girls’ dresses. And it’s such fun too – bonus!

It’s a shame that I’ve used almost all the fairies side of the duvet cover up now, though… I suppose it’s a good job I only have two girls to clothe in matching dresses!

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I will definitely be using this pattern again. I love that it spans all the way up to Age 10. I can see many more party dresses in my girls’ wardrobe in the future… and they’re all handmade :) (Besides gifted ones, of course! We have a lovely family member who often gives the girls beautiful Monsoon dresses – now they’re something to compete with!)

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Oh goodness, if either girl turns out to be a tomboy, I WILL NOT BE HAPPY!!P1080309

Anyway… I’m rather impressed with my topstitching. I don’t know if you can even see it but I’ll tell you – it’s neat! It’s all in the details :)

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Well, that’s all I have to say about this dress really. There were many more highs than lows – no disasters, and I can’t even remember unpicking anything!! The phrase ‘practice makes perfect’ is proven correct once again. Must make more garments with the same pattern!

Beth x

 

Sunday Sevens No. 2

It’s that time of the week again! Here I am to share seven snippets of my week with you.

Monday:

I began cutting my (stretchy) fabric for my second lottie blouse, but I was excited so started doing it when little one was up. That was trying to say the least!

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Tuesday:

My daughter came home from school with these envelopes. I just love her spellings! [I think this was actually Monday but I forgot about Tuesday so I will pretend it was Tuesday...]

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Wednesday:

Photographing my little one’s new dress, which will be blogged about on Tuesday!

sneek peek

Thursday:

A good chunk of my day was spent sitting in a queue at the petrol station. So I made the most of my time and snapped this pic of a massive tanker type vehicle that made me feel small. It only just about fitted under the roof!

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Friday:

My lunchtime… little one eating beans with her hands whilst I get stuck into Tilly’s book. Lovely :)

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Saturday:

My eldest had her first swimming lesson today. This was my view from upstairs… I could just about see them bobbing about in their hats! (For the record, she really enjoyed it once she got over me leaving her with a bunch of people she didn’t know!)

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Sunday:

Migraine. Missed out on the car boot sale! But my lovely daughter cheered me up:

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That’s it; my week wrapped up. I’ll be back on Tuesday to share my final make for Sew Selfless September :)

Til then… You may join Sunday Sevens anytime – I would be interested to have a nosey at your life! Just click the button below:

Grab button for SUNDAY-SEVENS

Beth x

A Rather Boring Men’s Sunglasses Case

A couple of weeks ago I pledged this:

I, Beth, of After Dark Sewing, pledge this Sew Selfless September to sew three items for three different people – one being my partner.

(As part of Sew Selfless September, hosted by the Sometimes Sewist.)

Well, I made my boyfriend something. I still feel a bit selfish, because it was so easy and simple. (The perfect beginner project!)

But I made something nonetheless. And he’s happy with it, so I don’t feel too guilty that I didn’t put in more effort to make something truly fabulous!

Of course if you read the title of this post you will know that it’s a sunglasses case!

Easy Beginner Project - A Sunglasses Case

The reason I say it’s rather boring is because a) it’s a relatively simple design, and b) it’s grey and plain. I’m itching to add some pretty embellishment! But it’s for a man, so…. it’s grey and plain. And woolly!

It is brighter inside, though (and that little tab); it’s spotty :) He’s even got some pink in there!

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To make it, I followed the fabulous tutorial on Create.Craft.Love - however omitted the fusible fleece step because a) I don’t have any, and b) I used a chunky wool suiting fabric, which I think counteracts the need for the fleece (and I was right; it holds up well – hooray!)

This is an ideal project for beginners, because it involves straight stitching, clipping corners, pressing, turning, and a little topstitching. And then very soon you have a little item to be proud of! If you haven’t made a sunglasses case, why not?!

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It turned out the perfect size for a pair of sunglasses – phew! When you’ve started dressmaking, it’s nice to make something simple like this sometimes. It gave me a break from unpicking!

Here’s a peek inside (excuse the loose threads… haha).

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So there you have it.  A quick and easy little project for Sew Selfless September.

I have one more selfless project completed to share with you – but you will have to wait until next week. And don’t worry, this one took longer than five minutes to make!

Til then… happy sewing and enjoy making one of these if you do – we are forecast to have an Indian summer heading our way in October after all!!

Beth x