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Up-cycle for Winter

Upcycling a Classic Coat

I will show you how to up-cycle and simply sew to get a cosy classic coat, ready for the colder weather.

A coat can be an expensive garment to make, unless you up-cycle one you like the fabric of.

Here is my charity shop bargain, £3 for a wool navy coat, in very good condition.

bargain wool coat

I would love to be able to report that this “before” picture is really an “after weight loss” picture. However, my size has stayed the same but the coat was far too big, several sizes too big.

The material was good quality, a great colour for me, so worth some care and sewing. In fact, as the cost of material rises, I both buy, and advise others to buy, clothes that will provide fabric and haberdashery to use instead of buying new.

You may be interested to see how I up-cycled some denim jeans and some shirts to meke a lined tunic dress

Sometimes a £1 bargain rail charity shop, or car boot sale find will generate fabric, a zip and/or buttons. Extra—large cotton men’s shirts are a favourite up-cycle of mine for patchwork and crafting. It’s worth training your eyes to see pre-worn garments in a new light!

It’s much easier to take fabric away than to increase the size of a bargain!

This wool coat needed taking in by 12 inches, to have a fitted rather than sack like feel. After measuring, the first thing was to cut up the back of the lining to expose the coat’s construction.

Here is the maths:

The 12 inch reduction was then planned and divided:

4 inches by taking in the back seam by 2 inches

5 inches by taking in both side seams by 1.25 inches. (this was continued for the sleeve seams).

2 inches by creating 2 back darts, and 1 inch by moving the button position (the buttons were also replaced)

First some unpicking was needed:
The shoulder pads were removed
Either side of the bottom back and side seams

Either side of the top and bottom sleeve seams (armhole and cuff)

The seams were pinned and the new seam position marked with tailors chalk.

Because wool does not fray, straight stitch on my trusty Bernina
machine was used.

If the fabric had been one to fray, I would have considered using my overlocker (serger), to cut and finish the seam in one action.

After sewing the seams, they were trimmed to the original seam allowance, clipped in to the stich line and then pressed (with a steam iron on wool setting)

The lining was then taken in at the same places, except for the inside back.

The unpicked cuff, armhole and hem were then reattached to the lining, to complete the seam
alterations.

The back darts were positioned, pinned and marked with chalk as shown.

After stitching, these were pressed towards the centre back seam.

The centre back lining cut was then taken in and with right sides together stitched, leaving a portion to allow it to be turned back so the inside main and inside lining seam were together. The gap was slip stitched together to close.

The new buttons were sewn on further in and the original buttons removed. You can up-cycle something from one garment to create further designer items!

To embellish the completed coat, I made a brooch which was attached with a brooch back.

The coat was brushed to remove threads and fluff, and then steamed to remove a stain and refresh both the fabric and lining.

The completed upcycled coat. 12 inches smaller.

up-cycled coat

I would love to hear of your up-cycling, please get in touch, or comment below.

Read more on getting cosy

Lottie Blouse Simple Sewing

In the Pink

I have been getting fine and fancy, well at least in my sewing room, making this Lottie Blouse.

Simple Sew have a great duo pattern pack of pencil skirt and blouse and I chose to get ready for Spring in pink.

Helen Moyes Designs Lottie Blouse & Skirt

Pink has been all over on the catwalks for SS17 which was great for me, as I had got some pink fabrics from my textile art group.

Simple Sew Lottie Blouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you would like to have this on trend Simple Sew pattern please get in touch

You can see my post on the Lottie skirt here

Silky Slippery Fabric

The fabric I used for this Lottie blouse is a lovely comfy, slightly stretchy silk blend. The downside from a sewing point of view is its a very slippery fabric! I won’t repeat my mutterings as I sewed, but will share how I dealt with this issue.

Helen Moyes Designs Lottie Blouse

For cutting out I avoided the use of pins, which can stretch fabric and leave holes in fine fabric, by using my pattern weights. I run workshops on making these or they can be found in my Etsy shop.

I also used a French rule and a rotary wheel cutter (along with a self healing cutting mat) for cutting out as This was much easier than scissors for this fine, slippy fabric.

Avoiding pins – using pattern weights

I did find the fabric layouts a little confusing, and there is only a 60″ wide fabric blouse layplan provided. My fabric was not this wide, so I used 1.9m of 45″ wide fabric, which worked out fine.

I also used a rule, along with carbon paper and a carbon tracing wheel for marking the dart position.

using a carbon tracing wheel for marking the dart position

The darts are the first thing to be sewn. With fine fabric, it is even more important to start the stitching at the narrowest part and not back stitch, but rather to hand tie a knot. This avoids bulky stitching showing on the right side of the blouse.

I also used my new fine Tulip pins. These are extra fine and short – ideal for fine fabrics and applique. I got these from another Yorkshire seamstress, Grace at Beyond Measure

 

 

 

 

 

For fine fabrics, use a finer, new needle. I used a 70 universal needle.

French Seams

Since the fabric frayed a lot and is slightly see through, I chose to use French seams, as all the raw edges of the fabric are enclosed and hidden.

Because this blouse pattern seam allowance is only 1cm, I made sure I cut the blouse on the generous side to allow for the French seams.

I do find it interesting that the French refer to this seam construction as “Coutures anglaises” – English seams!

A French seam is actually two seams, first starting with a 1cm seam allowance wrong fabric sides together, which is then trimmed and enclosed in a second seam right fabric sides together. Here is how you create this seam:

  • Place the wrong fabric sides together, and sew a 1cm seam. Then trim the seam allowance down to 4mm
  • Press this seam allowance to one side
  • Place the right sides of the fabric together and press
  • Now sew along the seamline with a 6mm seam allowance
  • Press this enclosed seam towards the back.

 

Bias Bound Neckline

Once the shoulders are joined with a French seam, the next stage is to bind around the bottom of the neckline on the front piece. This uses a strip of bias binding, cut on the diagonal – to the selvedge of the  fabric. This means the strip is stretchy to work on the curved neckline. I pinned  this on the right side of the neck , sewed, trimmed and then clipped to the stitching line on the curve.

 

Clipping seems scary but the worst thing that can happen is you cut through the stitching and need to re do some stitches!

I then turned the bias strip over to the wrong side and slip stiched  the free, folded edge to the stitch line.

 

The next step I did was to insert the sleeves.

By a row of running stitches between the notches I achieved a slightly gathered sleeve head is. As I wanted a French seam here as well, I did wrong sides together and then created the second seam as above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rolled Hem

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used the rolled hemmer foot on my machine to sew the Lottie blouse hem. This is tricky on slippery fabric. A spray starch can help. There is a helpful video tutorial on using this foot

I ended up with some missed sections despite unpicking and repeating. So I decided to finish with a hand stitched roled hem instead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did catch down the neck tie by hand as well, to hold it folded in place.

Although the Lottie blouse was tricky with the fine slippery fabric, I am really enjoying wearing it as It feels lovely next to my skin.

I have also used some spare to make a top to go under my lacy costume for my dance show

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would love to hear from you. Please comment, or contact me

 

Sew Sheffield – My Sheffield Quilt

My Sew Sheffield Quilt is finished! And it’s ready to cosy up or hygge with, and grace our guest room. Here I share the inspiration and process of making it, with a machine quilt binding tutorial.

A Sheffield Quilt

The Sheffield Quilt was made during a “sew a row round robin quilt challenge” in 2016. Nine others from my quilting group joined the round robin, so we divided into two teams.

In July we each chose our own theme and made our own first row.

What Sheffield means to Us – in Stitch

I decided my theme would be “what Sheffield means to me”.

Sheffield, in South Yorkshire, England, is

  • a major industrial city, historically renouned for it’s steel and cutlery
  • one of the greenest cities in the UK. 61% of Sheffield’s entire area is green space
  • built on seven hills  – or is it eight, there seems to be local controversy!
  • in the valleys of the River Don and its four tributaries, Loxley, Porter Brook, Rivelin and Sheaf.

The parks, gardens and woodlands made it a wonderful place to grow up. And the rivers were house names at my Junior School.

During the five months of the round robin, I looked forward to seeing how others interpreted the theme. The challenge included piecing, but not quilting, the rows, which were to be between 5 and 9 inches deep.

My Row Design

My Sheffield Quilt row was inspired by growing up and living in Nether Edge and Ecclesall. These leafy suburbs in South Sheffield are on the edge of the beautiful Peak District. So I wanted to include both the city and peaks I love. This combination of a green, culture rich city with easy access to the Derbyshire Peak District makes me love living here. In fact, a third of the city lies within the Peak District national park.

I upcycled some existing patchwork from a worn out skirt, signifying my love of creating with the discarded.

Marvelous out of the discarded

The greens spoke of a lush landscape with varying foliage, and I created a background of hills.

I added a sky-scape for the city of Sheffield, in dark, small floral print fabric. And I used the council logo as a basis for the  design, enlarging it and cutting out the dark fabric (with bondaweb on the reverse) with embroidery scissors. Running stitches in black thread attached this to the patchwork background.

sheffield-logo

City of Sheffield Applique

I added millstones in a textural fabric and the Peak District arched logo in green satin to blend the City with the Peak District.

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Derbyshire Peak District National Park Applique on Quilt

As instructed, in August we each took our first row in a plain cream fabric bag. We were also told to include any fabric we wanted in future rows and a notebook with colour or style preferences, theme etc.

I noted the inspiration for my row in my quilt notebook and added that I was happy if the theme was interpreted in any way, with any technique. Furthermore I wrote: ” a traditional patchwork block may come to mind, or it may be an experience of Sheffield you have which inspires your row design”

The group bag monitor then redistributed the bags so each month we each received a different bag. So during August, September, October and November I received a bag containing an ever increasing number of rows and I made a further row. This year I plan to blog about the other sewing, as each completed quilt is revealed. However, here I will share about my Sheffield quilt.

Second Row

This was the deepest row and ended up at the bottom of the Sheffield Quilt. The team member wrote in the notebook they hoped they weren’t being greedy as they chose five aspects of Sheffield to create:

Henderson’s Relish, because they were born in the previous maternity hospital opposite the factory that made this iconic sauce brand. Made in Sheffield for over 100 years, it’s spicy and fruity and known locally as “Enderson’s”, or simply “Relish”. The comedian Tom Wrigglesworth said that while ‘outsiders’ think Henderson’s Relish is Sheffield’s answer to Worcestershire sauce, Sheffielders think it’s the answer to everything. If you haven’t tried it and you live outside South Yorkshire, you can purchase online.

hendersons_relish

Stanedge Pole, where the quilter used to walk and learned to drive on the road leading to it. Stanedge Pole, also known as Stanage Pole, is a landmark on Hallam Moors close to Stanage Edge in Sheffield 10 (grid reference SK2468784429). On the crest of the moor the carved wooden pole (and it’s replacements) have helped the weary and confused navigate in driving rain or blowing snow from the 1550s.

staedge-pole

Forge Dam Slide, near the cafe and by Ivy Cottage Lane, Sheffield S10, is a long metal slide. As the quilter said in the notebook, “the joys of living somewhere hilly is that you can get long slides”. You can see an image on Trip Advisor.

Cutlery, is what Sheffield used to be well known for, with the first reference to cutlery made in Sheffield in 1297. Now there are only a few small producers, including Ernest Wright & Son (whose stork embroidery scissors I used for the city-scape in row one). You can see sheffield cutlery at the Sheffield cutlery shop.

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Wind, which the quilter remembers blowing the cherry blossom in her parent’s garden. The blossom blowing from the tree reminds me of frequent visits to Sheffield Botanical Gardens, from toddlerhood to the present day.

blossomHelen Moyes Designs Studio

Third Row

Sheffield’s Industry

This row, which is in the middle of my Sheffield Quilt , concentrates on Sheffield’s industry. The quilter shared in the notebook how, like me, when she thinks of Sheffield her first thought is of the hills, and her second is of the rivers which led to industry. The quilter used a background fabric suggesting the contours of the earth and appliqued the Bessemer Convertor, strip mills, steelworks and cooling towers. I hand quilted along the rivers in the top three rows.

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Bessemer Converter Applique

Fourth Row

Five Weirs Walk
Sheffield’s industrial landscape has been changing along the river Don with it’s five weirs since the 1980s. Now it’s a green ribbon of trees known as the Five Weirs Walk. This 8km takes you through the East End of Sheffield, past scenes of Sheffield’s history. There are Victorian buildings and scenes of the city’s industrial heyday: old schools, mills, factories and some contemporary sculptures.

five-weirs-walk

The quilter shares “the leaves represent the regeneration of the industrial sites”.

Sheffield Tinsley Canal
In 1819 the 4 mile Sheffield Tinsley canal was completed between the River Don and a new basin in the centre of Sheffield.

sheffield-tinsley-canalSome trade continued up to the 1970s but then it was neglected. Now the towpath is a walk out of Sheffield for all weathers and seasons, and I have enjoyed a cruise along the canal.

Tinsley Canal Applique

Fifth Row

Millhouses Park
As shared by a reviewer on the park’s facebook page, I’ve been going to this park since the 70s as a child.  A shame the lido went, but the cafe and all the facilities brought about by the friends of Millhouses Park have kept this beautiful space totally user friendly and alive.

millhouses-parkThe park was near Abbeydale Grange, the comprehensive school I atended, and is quite near where I live now. My children were taught to ride a bike without stabilisers on its gentle slopes and I enjoy the cakes at the cafe by the miniature boating lake depicted on the quilt row. I have walked dogs, played tennis and mini golf, and watched my sons play basketball and rugby at this park.

The blocks of the quilt row represent the sports pitches, paths and flower beds.

Millhouses Park Quilt Blocks

I added a “love blooms here” print to widen the row to fit the others and represent family times at Millhouses Park.

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Sashing

The common colours in the five rows for my Sheffield Quilt were grey and green. I chose a fairly dark grey textured “linen print” to divide the rows, highlight them and represent the “steel city”.

Borders

I chose a light grey with cream spots to represent living above “the snow line” in Banner Cross in Ecclesall.

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Batting & Backing

My choice was a bamboo cotton 50/50 blend batting as this is eco friendly and anti bacterial. The makers recommend you hand wash it, so I did this in the bath with soap flakes. I then squeezed and rolled it in a towel to remove some moisture, before drying it flat.

The sashing, border fabrics, and batting for my Sheffield Quilt, were a gift from my son Matthew – from Billow Fabrics. I used a plain grey, soft fabric for the back.

Each month I am inspired by the stitchers at my quilters group. The Totley Brook Quilters are keen sewers and quilters who meet each month to chat and sew. Each session includes “show and tell” and it is amazing to see what has been produced. So this month I was able to show the top of my Sheffield Quilt – pinned and basted, ready to quilt.

helen-moyes-designs-sew-a-row-sheffield-quilt

Quilting

I used a walking foot to do straight quilting rows on my Sheffield Quilt, rolling the quilt to work through the machine.img_8742img_8744

Machine Finished Binding with Mock Piping/Flange

This binding gives a piped look you can completely sew to your quilt with the sewing machine. Use either invisible thread or thread to match the piping in the top of your machine and a thread matching the quilt backing in the bobbin.

Make the Binding

You will need: 1½” strips of your main binding fabric and  1¾” strips of a contrast fabric.

Cut sufficient strips of each of these to go around your quilt plus extra for corners and joining. Prepare the binding by Joining the strips of fabric with a diagonal seam:

  • Place fabric right sides together at right angles
  • Stitch diagonally
  • Trim seam allowance to ¼” and press seam open

Next sew the two colours together along their length using a ¼” seam.

Piecing Mock piping quilt binding

sewing mock piped quilt binding

Press the seam towards the main binding fabric.

Machine Finished Binding with Mock Piping/Flange

Fold the binding in half lengthwise, so the raw edges are flush. Then press so a strip of the contrast fabric is visible on the right side of the binding.

Helen Moyes Designs Making Machine Finished Binding with Mock Piping/Flange

Now prepare the beginning of the binding strip:

  • Unfold the left edge of the binding, fold the corner in and press.Helen Moyes Designs Making Machine Finished Binding with Mock Piping/Flange
  • Trim the triangle leaving a ¼” seam allowance
  • Refold the strip
    Helen Moyes Designs Making Machine Finished Binding with Mock Piping/Flange

Attach the binding to the quilt

You will first sew the binding to the back of the quilt. Then fold to the front before stitching again. Place the right side of the binding to the wrong side of the quilt, with raw edges along the edge of the quilt. Using a walking foot stitch ¼” from the edge of the quilt.

Helen Moyes Designs Making Machine Finished Binding with Mock Piping/Flange
To turn the corners, stop stitching ¼” before the corner of the quilt. Then remove the quilt from the sewing machine to fold the corner. Fold the binding up so that the diagonal fold points directly into the corner.

Helen Moyes Designs Making Machine Finished Binding with Mock Piping/Flange

Next, fold the binding down again, aligning it with the edge of the quilt.

Helen Moyes Designs Making Machine Finished Binding with Mock Piping/Flange

Continue sewing ¼” from the edge, all round the quilt, folding each corner.
When you reach the start, trim the binding. Then Insert it into the pocket created at the beginning. Pin and stitch in place.

Helen Moyes Designs Making Machine Finished Binding with Mock Piping/Flange

Complete the Binding

  • Fold the binding onto the right side of the quilt so you can now see the narrow piping strip.
  • Pin carefully, being careful the match the corners.
  • Stitch in the ditch on the piping using a thread matching the piping, or invisible thread in the top of your machine and a thread matching the quilt backing in the bobbin.Helen Moyes Designs Making Machine Finished Binding with Mock Piping/Flange
    Helen Moyes Designs Making Machine Finished Binding with Mock Piping/Flange

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You can find a youtube film of this method – Susie’s Magic Binding tutorial

Helen Moyes Designs Machine Sewn Quilt Binding

Sewing my Sheffield Quilt during the Christmas holidays was also a time to catch up with family. So I thought how patchwork and family life are similar and I also about this quote from, The Christmas Quilt (Elm Creek Quilts novel).

the-christmas-quilt

“A family is an act of creation, the piecing together of disparate fragments into one cloth – often harmonious, occasionally clashing and discordant, but sometimes unexpectantly beautiful and strong. Without contrast there is no pattern, and each piece, whether finest silk or faded cotton, will endure if sewn fast to the others with strong seams – bonds of love and loyalty, tradition and faith.”   Jennifer Chiaverini

I would love to hear about your experiences of quilting and/or Sheffield. Please leave a comment below, or contact me

If you would like to know about any future blog posts please click here

 

It’s Cold Outside – Cosy Up or Hygge

As it’s getting colder I would encourage us to cosy up and hygge!

All my household are rather “under the weather” and we have been doing a lot of coughing and sneezing. I bet you’re so glad that germs can’t be transfered through blogs! I have frequently  heard the phrase “it’s the time of the year for colds” and I have needed to remind myself that coughs and colds do seem to be a fact of life and getting frustrated won’t help.

Hygge

It would seem that in clearing our throats we have been making sounds like the the Danish word hygge. Hard to explain and even harder to pronounce, the Danish word ‘hygge‘ (pronounced “hooga” or “heurgha” ) translates roughly to ‘cosiness’.

 

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In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. It’s all about creating feelings of happiness, friendliness and wellbeing within everyday life.

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It’s being hailed as the route to health and happiness. The latest OECD World Happiness Report put Denmark at No 1, Iceland in third, followed by Norway and Finland, way ahead of the UK at 23.

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The phrase “go easy on yourself” springs to mind and I often encorage both myself and others to celebrate what you can do rather than worrying about what you can’t do.

Hygge and Nature

Signe Johansen’s new book How To Hygge hails the Nordic people’s love of being in nature as the key to hygge and encourages us to exercise outside. Walking outdoors compared to on a treadmill automatically increases the calorie burn by ten per cent, due to factors such as wind resistance.

Research has found that being in a park or forest environment lowers stress levels, increases energy, boosts self-esteem and makes you less angry.

I have been wrapping up and getting outside as much as possible and have enjoyed some short walking breaks, enjoying the Winter light and then reflecting these in creating with wool.

One of the things I love about living in Sheffield, one of the greenest cities in terms of parks and woodland, is easy access to the Peak District National Park.

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Take a Break

The Danish tradition of daily ‘fika’: a break to sit down, enjoy a hot drink and often a sweet pastry or a cinnamon bun. Taking breaks and having a good work life balance aids prodoctivity as well as . What are your favourite breaks?

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Hygge Food

A ‘Nordic style diet’ of whole-grain products such as Ryvita-style ‘knackebrod’, fish three times a week, root veg, berries, locally sourced fruits such as apples and plums and avoiding sugar-sweetened foods, lowers cholesterol.

I think my Apple fool recipe  and Scalded Flour Pudding recipe are both very hyggelig and  wonderful comfort foods!

Home Coaching Scalded Flour Pudding

The mentality of ‘hygge’ means enjoying the good things in life without feeling guilty, including indulging in the food that makes you happy. Despite this, the proportion of adults in Sweden who are obese is 14 per cent, compared to the UK’s 27 per cent. perhaps it is the ideal of moderation. The Scandinavians firmly believe in ‘lordagsgodis’ – Saturday Sweets.  It’s ingrained in Scandinavians from childhood that you treat yourself on Saturdays. Studies show a treat every now and then can make a person more likely to stick to a diet.

Hygge Together

‘Hyggeligt’ means “pleased to meet you”, and is also used to describe a chance meeting that felt warm and convivial. Spending time with those near to us is also key to our wellbeing. Forget perfectionism and remember the main thing is sharing food, conversation and your lives with people. Don’t just invite over your friends and let them sit there while you slave in the kitchen. A true Hygge host says” YES” when guests offer to help.

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Flames

Candles and natural fires are a key part of this, and are a quick way to feelings of cosiness, and in my experience their gentle light are a great way to disguise dust! Combine with natural scent, such as using coffee beans,  for an even greater cosiness.
You can find some of the scented eco soya wax candles I make using vintage cups in my Etsy shop

candle-with-coffeehelenmoyesdesigns-pouring-wax

Get Crafty

Crafty hobbies such as knitting or sewing are perfect to  help to relax and calm your being, or curl up and read a good book for hygge refreshment.

How about one of my landscape art card making kits, which combines crafting with nature.

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Hyggelit

Good housekeeping give us 11 ideas for a hygge home.

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking who is CEO of The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. Meik says in Denmark  “You hear hygge being talked about all the time – by everyone, no matter who they are. We talk about hygge things coming up that we’re looking forward to; we point out when something hygge is happening right now; then we like to talk about what a great ‘hyggelit’ (hygge-like) time we’ve had afterwards.”

Then the word can be used in many practical but different sentences describing Danish life – as a noun (hygge), an adjective (hyggelig) and a verb (at hygge sig). As in “hygge is important”, “I’m going to make sure my house is hyggely”, and “I’m hyggeling this corner of my house.”

MEIK WIKING jacket.jpg

I’ve mentioned 2 of the 9 books around now with Hygge in the title, but there is one, The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia by Michael Booth,  that feels hygge lightness is too superficial.

However, although maybe hygge is not everything needed for wellbeing, I for one am looking forward to cosy moments. As Kurt Vonnegut once said, “Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things”.

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How do you cope with the cold or darker days blues? I’d love to know your thoughts on the concept of ‘Hygge’
If you were to create a hygee box, what would you put in to it?x