Scrap-busting, free motion(!) bookmark

Last week saw one of my favourite members of staff at my local children’s centre leave for retirement. She was amazing. She was the one who told me about the sewing tutor job, and she was the one who made me a volunteer and let me support staff to run courses – as well as run my own sewing group. I will definitely miss her!

So of course I had to sew her a little something. I was sure that she was going to be bombarded with gifts so I just wanted to make something little that she would actually use.

And I came up with – a bookmark. I know she likes reading, and after all she is retiring so will have plenty of time on her hands to sit out in the sun and read. And she deserves it!

Anyway without further ado, here it is:

Applique, free motion sewing bookmark

This was my first attempt at free motion sewing. It’s a bit odd that I’m giving my first attempt away as a gift; you’d think I’d practice a bit first… but I’m pretty happy with it!

I totally copied the idea from the picture below that I saw on Pinterest. Isn’t the bird adorable?!

[Source: Pinterest… Here’s the link]

My sister gave me a universal free motion foot for my birthday back in February. The only problem was that it came with no instructions. It took me 3 HOURS on a school night (I went to bed at about 1am…) to figure out how to use it. I finally came across this post by Susie D Designs which explains that you put the screw between the two prongs…. ohhhhhh.

free motion foot

Very obvious now I know. I feel pretty dumb actually. Then I struggled with the tension and the foot was so tight against the fabric that I couldn’t move it without tugging! I realised I could lessen the pressure foot tension on my machine, which helped a bit. So I finally got it on the right settings at midnight. I left it exactly as it was and got cracking with the bookmark at a more sociable hour the next day. In fact, it was the same day, but that’s confusing…

I already bondawebbed [if that’s a word] some scraps of fabric to make the bird on to a rectangle of backing fabric the day before. I LOVE bondaweb.

Handmade bookmark

When I say scraps, I mean really do mean scraps… It felt good to use them but it hardly made a dent in my ever-growing scrap bag!


I ironed some heavy interfacing on to the back of the backing fabric, and dove in. I stitched round a few times to create a nice scribbly effect. It’s messy but that’s actually what I like about it.

Handmade bookmark - free motion sewing

The legs were tricky because they were meant to be straight! But I think he looks cute with his wobbly legs!

I also stitched the recipient’s name, ‘Anne’ on the back for that personal touch. I could do with improving my lettering, but at least you can read it!

Handmade bookmark - applique, free motion sewing

I totally guessed the measurements of the bookmark, based on how much of that pink fabric I had in my scrap bag! But I was having a lucky day because it turned out perfect!

Applique, free motion bookmark

I added a bit of ‘Home Sweet Home’ ribbon in between the layers, which I think finishes it off nicely. (The lovely ‘Sewchet’ gave the ribbon to me in my Sewing Santa bundle! Thank you!)

So, right sides together, turn, press, ladder stitch the gap up, and….

Handmade bookmark

Done 🙂

Oh, and, luckily, she seemed to like it!

I actually made another one on Monday for my stepmum – I’ll share it in Sunday Sevens this week – it’s pretty much the same but in different colours! I had fun doing the free motion sewing, once I got to grips with the settings. I should make one for myself as I’m currently using a scrap of blue paper as a bookmark…

Beth x


Pretty In Pink – Travel Sewing Kit

Now that Christmas has been and gone I can finally share some of the presents I made for my family. First up is my sister’s ultra cute sewing kit. She doesn’t sew but just wanted a few things to enable her to do the basics. So I bought her some needles, little scissors, threads and pins (and made a tiny pincushion!) – and made the kit to hold it all in.

sewing kit

I followed the excellent tutorial on the blog of ‘Lots of Pink Here’.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out. It’s functional and pretty! Win-win!

It folds up into a handy A5-ish shape, and has a long tie to fasten it.

sewing kit

I really enjoyed making this, mostly because I have been making a lot of clothing over the past few months; this made a nice change and used some different techniques.

To begin with I had to quilt the main pieces. OK, it’s only a bunch of straight lines but I liked sewing them! And I think I did a pretty good job at keeping them straight.

sewing kit

The tutorial calls for bias tape, 2 1/4″ wide. I was feeling lazy so thought I’d cheat and use some ready-made tape. The snag was that it was only 1/2″ wide. Hmm… a slight difference!

bias binding

It was fiddly, but it wasn’t as disastrous as you might think. The result was a cute, neat edge on the pockets. Luckily my slanted stitching is only visible in the photo – not so much in real life!

sewing kit

The sewing kit has two good-sized pockets, a thread holder, a scissor case and a little needle book. The scissor case was probably the most frustrating part; it was a challenge trying to get it straight!

sewing kit

The thread holder is a cute idea. It’s got a teeny bit of Velcro to hold it down, and it can fit three or four spools of thread on it; although to be honest the strip is a tad thick so they don’t slip on very easily!

sewing kit

Once all the bits were sewed on, I just had to trim the edges with bias binding. It suddenly occurred to me that I made too much bias binding when I made my Sorbetto top – out of the same ditsy floral fabric that lines this sewing kit!!

bias binding

So I used that! And there was just about the right amount. I machine-stitched it down on one side then hand-stitched the other, which gave a nice neat finish that I’m pretty proud of. I achieved some good metered corners, too, which was new to me!

mitered corner

And that’s it!

sewing kit

Shame I didn’t take a photo of it all filled up because it was really cute!

As I’m not doing a lot of sewing at the moment due to it being the school holidays, I will share a couple more of the gifts I made for Christmas soon!

Beth x

Christmas Decorations!

My blog feed is jam-packed with Christmassy posts lately so it’s about time I joined in, isn’t it?

So here are my most recent makes – little Christmas trees with cinnamon sticks as their trunks.

Christmas tree decs

Lucie @ Love, Lucie reminded me that I wanted to make some of these after I spotted them in Love Sewing magazine. Hers were so cute I wasn’t sure if mine would could contend with them… But I have to say I’m quite pleased with how they turned out. I envisaged them to be made in either a rustic kind of fabric, or cute Christmassy fabric – but I realised I didn’t even buy any Christmas fabric this year. It’s come around so fast!! So I made do with what I have already. I found the cute greenery fabric in my  stash, and the red was free with Love Sewing magazine (which I had forgotten about!)

I also made another one in a polka dot cotton, but this happened…

christmas tree gone wrong...

Urgh. I just need to unpick that top bit and re-sew, but can I be bothered? Maybe one day…

And I messed up the cutting out of the red patterned fabric (I cut a corner off somehow) so I was down to only one red tree and three green.

christmas trees

I just love the cinnamon sticks used for the trunks. My youngest does too… the jar of them kept her occupied for ages whilst I stitched them in place – she kept taking the lid off and smelling them before offering them to everyone else to smell. Bless her, she’s easily pleased.

cinnamon stick for a trunk : christmas tree decs

I intended to make a garland with them, but because the numbers decreased, and I have three of the same design, I’m just leaving them as hanging decorations. And because I don’t really need three identical trees, I’ve decided to send one to my #sewingsanta recipient, and one to a friend. I’m keeping one green and the only red one for myself 😛

Here they are hung on my tree – next to my cute robin I made last year:



And whilst we’re on the subject of decorations, at the weekend my daughter and I had a productive Hama bead session. You’re never too old for these fiddly yet addictive beads!! I made a Santa and a snowflake, which I’m rather proud of and I won’t mention the fact that I simply copied the designs from the Inspiration book and Pinterest…Oops.

Hama Bead Christmas Decorations

I should have thought about the fact that I was going to hang them before I ironed them because I now can’t thread the string though the holes of the snowflake as they melted shut… You live and learn, I suppose.

Finally I had better share some photos of the bunting I contributed to and some of you did ask. (You may have read my post about my ‘r’ – as a group of parents we made a string of bunting reading ‘Merry Christmas’ to be hung at my local Children’s Centre.) Well, here it is!

Merry Christmas Bunting Banner

It turned out really well, particularly considering that we all have different levels of sewing skills and we didn’t know what others were doing on theirs; the end result works really well.

Merry Christmas!!

Beth x

‘Tis the Season…

There’s one month to go until Christmas!! Ahhhhhh!!!

So with preparations for Christmas and various other things going on (AKA life), my spare [sewing and blogging] time seems to be decreasing…

I haven’t got any big dressmaking projects on the go; instead I’m doing little bits and pieces and maybe a few Christmas presents. So I don’t have anything extraordinary to blog about – I am going to share something small with you today, and get you all in the Christmas spirit!

A few of us from my local Children’s Centre teamed together to make Christmas bunting spelling ‘Merry Christmas.’ of course I joined in; I was assigned an ‘r’ in ‘Merry’.

Here’s what I came up with:

Christmas Bauble Bunting

Simple maybe, but I like it.

I loooooove buttons, so tried my best to think of an idea based on them! Now, I am kind of wondering if it actually looks like what it’s meant to look like; baubles hanging in a row (?)

Christmas Bauble Bunting

The baubles’ strings were chainstitched, the little bows were just backstitched, and the felt ‘r’ is of course attached with a blanket stitch.

Christmas Bauble Bunting

I enjoyed decorating this little bunting triangle (I didn’t even have to make the actual triangle!); it was nice to sit down and sew by hand. I really should embroider more. That said, I’m not sure I could be bothered to complete a whole row of bunting like this!

Christmas Bauble Bunting

I’m really looking forward to seeing everybody’s triangles hung up together!

Are you inspired?

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!


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?!


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).


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


It’s an Apron for a Bottle!

Random? Yes. Unnecessary? Yes. Cute? Yes. Fun? Yes!

I came across this tutorial for these adorable washing-up-liquid bottle aprons on Pinterest (of course) and immediately pinned, knowing I had to have a go! How cute are they?! (photo pinched from ‘Hostess with The Mostess’)


So, this week, following my Sew Selfless September pledge, I had a go. Here she is! Don’t ask why the top turned out narrower than those in the photo. I guess I was meant to add a seam allowance; there was no mention of this in the tutorial. I think it looks cute regardless.

2014-09-12 23.34.38

It was quite a cool coincidence that my soap bottle is red and white too! (Unusual – normally it’s clear!)

It was really quick and simple to make. It would have been even quicker had I followed the instructions to the tee – but they involved glue, which I consider cheating!

Here’s the link to the tutorial if you fancy making your own. You will need to download the template, which you use to cut two pieces of fabric, and stitch them together. Perhapy add seam allowance if you want them to turn out wider than mine.

2014-09-12 22.18.23

This is the only bit of sewing that the instructions tell you to do… but of course I broke the rules slightly; instead of hot-gluing the ricrac and ribbons on, I hand stitched them. Anyone can glue, right? (Besides, I don’t own a hot glue gun!)

Here’s the ricrac around the bottom, and a bit also along the top (the top is just folded under, and I made sure to stitch right through to the back to secure it in place – whereas the piece around the bottom of the apron is stitched so that it isn’t visible at the back).

2014-09-12 22.58.37

And then once that was in place, I also hand stitched the two pieces of ribbon on:

2014-09-12 23.30.53

I wanted to finish it off with a little bow. I was just tidying up my explosion of ribbons after I’d found my tutorial on how to make the perfect bow, when I spotted a cute glittery gold readymade one sitting there on the table. It was fate.


And just to show it tied at the back… a perfect fit!


So, there we have it. My first totally selfless make for Sew Selfless September. I’ve posted this to my sister, purely because I am trying to be totally selfless. It’s a very random gift – there’s no occasion to celebrate. I purposely didn’t write a note explaining what it’s meant to be for. I wonder what she thought it might be…

I’ve already made my second make for SSS, but I’ll blog about it next week. It was also a quick sew and used less than a fat quarter of fabric, so if you’re after inspiration for quick and simple projects, this is the place to be at the moment! Til then, happy sewing everyone!

Beth x

A Bottle Apron!

Taking a Break from Dressmaking

I jumped into dressmaking without much thought. A friend inspired me to make my girls dresses, and then along came Love Sewing magazine with that cute Brigitte dress pattern, so I started making a few things for myself. I really want to make the Simplicity K1609 dress, of which the pattern came free with Sew magazine (yes, I did kind of buy the magazine just for the free patterns!!). I made a toile almost immediately – I wanted a good fit after that Brigitte dress turned out a bit loose at the bust – which went really well and fits perfectly (which is a little annoying). So I just need to get cracking with the real deal – but I can’t choose a fabric! So in the meantime I’m taking a break from dressmaking.

This week I really did venture outside my usual sewing habits. I made a game! A travel noughts and crosses to be exact. The idea is from Sew magazine – the issue with the free pattern.

Travel Noughts & Crosses - Sew Mag 2

Thinking about it, of course most noughts and crosses games are fit for travel in that all you need is a pen and paper… therefore I would like to call my game posh noughts and crosses. It consists of a padded gameboard, which folds up fairly small so will be good for travel.

Noughts & Crosses gameboard

I like how it’s a good size; sometimes you get travel versions of games and they have miniature pieces – I can’t see them lasting very long. These counters are great; they can’t roll around or slip about and they’re easy to hold.

Playing Noughts & Crosses

The making was very straightforward. Literally straightforward. 90% of the sewing was straight lines in straight stitches.

Noughts & Crosses stitching

Making the counters got quite repetitive, and they were the most difficult part of the whole project. The crosses weren’t too bad; although they are fraying already…

Cross piece

…but the noughts were tricky because they required sewing quite tight circles. They turned out OK, though; there’s just one with a little gap where both lines of stitching slipped off the edge. I couldn’t be bothered to fix it!

Nought piece

I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so grateful for the fantastic little needle up/down button on my machine; it got a lot of use during the stitching of those noughts! If you don’t have a machine with this feature – I’m telling you, you NEED one!!

Needle up-down button!

Once the shapes were sewn on, I then had to back them, turn them inside out, press, topstitch… it took forever. I took a photo halfway through the turning stage because I was bored! I do enjoy sewing, but it can get frustrating at times.

Noughts & crosses pieces... halfway through!

This was a great ‘stashbuster’ project. It is nice when you can make something out of what you already have, rather than buy in a couple of meters especially for the project, like I have to for my dressmaking. I used two lovely fabrics from The Makery (one that my mum sent me, which came as part of a free gift from a recent promotion – woohoo!), and I bought the rather suitable ribbon from them when I visited Bath a couple of weeks ago.

I Love Handmade ribbon

I then only needed a small amount of fabric for the counters. The result of using fabrics already in my stash is that the game is rather a mismatch of colours and patterns. I don’t think it’s too dreadful though.

Playing Noughts & Crosses 2

The whole project turned out great; however I did make one stupid mistake, which I didn’t notice until we were playing it! One of the backs of the counters is stitched on the wrong way round! Maybe that was my last one… Whoops. Maybe it’s a lucky one.

Backs of counters

I’m glad I’ve made this because we are going away this weekend – hooray! The idea was to spend a few days in the sun, at the beach… but it looks like the weather is changing and we will have rain!! So my posh noughts and crosses may just get a lot of use over the next few days!

Noughts & Crosses folded

Of course, you don’t need to be travelling to play it… my girls are already enjoying it 🙂

Girls playing Noughts & Crosses

Beth x