Category Archives: Sewing

Quality Street – in costume form

I’ve recently been on the annual work Christmas do with my day-job company. As I was part of the organising committee, I suggested that it be fancy dress, and so we came up with the theme of ‘Christmassy’ – a broad theme that people could do as little or as much with as they wanted. Not one to be normal or predictable, I decided that it would be a brilliant idea to dress as those traditional Christmas treats in the iconic purple tin: Quality Streets!

Quality Streets

I didn’t particularly want to go dressed as the tin (a little unwieldy) or as one particular chocolate (couldn’t decide which one to go as). I spotted these ladies on my Google searchings, dressed for Ladies Day at Ascot with some very impressive hats. Alas, that kind of headgear works well at Ascot, but less so in a restaurant, bar or nightclub!

I’ve been collecting the plastic wrappers from Quality Streets for years, simply because they come in lovely bright colours and have good crafting potential, so I decided to find a purple dress of some description and somehow attach Quality Streets to it. I’d already worked out that using actual chocolates on my dress could a) be messy and b) result in people trying to steal my accessories all evening! So I set my dad to work carving the shapes of the different chocolates out of some crafting foam, which I then wrapped in normal kitchen foil and finished off with the relevant plastic wrapper. They looked very very real!

Having found the perfect dress on eBay, I didn’t want to ruin it by using anything permanent to attach the ‘chocolates’, like a glue gun. I loosely hand-stitched the ‘chocolates’ to the frilly bit of the dress with invisible thread.

Invisible thread Quality Streets on frilly bit of the dress Quality Streets on frilly bit of the dress Dress with Quality StreetsDress in all its glory!

Once the dress was sorted, my thoughts turned to accessories. I had quite a few fake chocolates left over so decided to make a necklace – and what better way to remove all doubt about what I was dressed as than to laser cut the Quality Street logo out of purple and white acrylic, and use it as the centrepiece for the necklace?

Quality Street necklace Quality Street necklace Quality Street necklace

Finally, I decided I needed something to jazz up my hair. I’d had good intentions of dying my hair pinky-purple but ran out of time in the end, so decided to create a sort of headpiece with a plain headband that I had in my crafting stash. I threaded assorted fake chocolates onto three lengths of fairly flexible wire, wrapping the bottom end a couple of times around the headband, and finishing the top of the wire by adding a bead and looping the wire over to stop the chocolates escaping. I’d managed to get hold of a couple of the paper ‘which chocolate is which?’ guides (I’m sure they have a proper name) that can be found inside the tins, and concertina folded them and attached them with some double sided sticky tape on either side of the wires. To help secure everything, and make the headband look a bit more attractive, I stuck more double sided tape on the outside of the headband and wrapped purple ribbon around from end to end. The headpiece was very much admired by my colleagues on the night and it was very comfortable to wear – and very light of course, with the ‘chocolates’ made out of lightweight foam.

Quality Street headpiece Quality Street headpiece Quality Street headpiece

I’d love to hear about your best Christmas do outfits too. Merry Christmas!



Day Twenty Four – 30 Days of Creativity 2012

Today’s theme was ‘coffee’. Not being a coffee drinker myself, this was a bit of a tough one to find inspiration for. In the end I settled on making a felt badge for a friend who’d expressed an interest in having one, and who likes coffee. It was a pretty quick creation, as you can probably tell by the ‘rustic’ look of some of the stitching!

I’d like to make more felt badges, as the material is really easy to work with, and that edging stitch is very satisfying to do.


Day Ten – 30 Days of Creativity 2012

I’ve had to think about this one for about a fortnight before coming up with an idea that I was happy with. The theme was ‘8 bit’, that pixelated style that those of us born in the 70s and 80s are familiar with from computer games, back in the day. I love how this turned out, considering I’ve only done cross-stitch once before – does anyone recognise it?

Now I’m thinking that I could have done the little characters from the game ‘Lemmings’ instead, but I think I’ll save that for a future 30DoC.


Day Four – 30 Days of Creativity 2012

Today’s theme was ‘trousers’…!

A random choice, but I had a project in my recon(structing) basket that would fit the bill perfectly. I went to a pyjama-themed party a while back, and instead of wearing my actual pyjamas (that would be weird), I bought a set of stripy men’s pyjamas and wore the top part back to front as a sort of bustle dress. I used a bit of fabric from one leg to fashion a natty bow for a headband to complete the look:

But what was I to do with the remainder of the pyjama trousers? They weren’t particularly wearable. They’ve been sat in my recon basket for ages now, and today I decided to do a simple makeover on them to make them wearable. This basically involved taking them in at the waist a bit (they’re a men’s L size, and I’m not!), cropping the legs to match the bit I cut off to make the headband, and adding some romantic little bows at the bottom by creating channels to hold ribbon in the fabric. Such an easy thing to do: I just folded the fabric over on the inside of the bottom of the trouser legs, stitched it with enough room to fit the ribbon through, and fed the ribbon through with a safety pin to help me. You don’t even have to sew in a particularly neat way because the stitching is mostly hidden in the gathers:

Close-up on the bow:

Naff ‘before’ pic:

I love adding ribbon or bows to anything, it makes things instantly prettier and more feminine!


Nyanyanyanyanyanyanyan – Button Wednesday

UPDATE: This little creation won a Craftster Best of 2011 Award! So exciting!!

Craftster Best of 2011 Winner
I’m a Craftster Best of 2011 Winner!

Thought I’d share a little something I made a few months back for a button-themed craft swap. It’s based on the ‘Internet famous’ NyanCat.

Is it just me who seems to make all my best stuff for other people??


Self assembly

Recently, I’ve noticed an increase in the number of crafty kits and workshops that are available. I can think of a couple of places off the top of my head whose basic raison d’être is to offer classes and workshops in various craft-related skills (The Make Lounge and The Makery) and several other shops that offer workshops as a sort of extra to help people get to grips with sewing/jewellery making/knitting etc.

I imagine that most of the appeal of going to a workshop, or buying something in kit form, comes down to a) people wanting to try a new skill without having to buy all the materials and equipment, only to find they don’t like it and b) getting that feeling of satisfaction from having made something, without jumping in at the deep end and having to work it all out oneself.

I personally like the idea of little kits. I’ve spotted some great ones on Etsy, including this constellation embroidery kit, a kit containing everything you’d need to cross stitch a rooster, terrarium kits, even an anatomical heart needle felting kit. Buttons and threadI’d like to make some of my own to sell in my Etsy shop, but I’m a bit stuck on what kind of kit to make. What button-related craft would you buy in kit form? I’ve had a few ideas:

– simplified button bracelets (or earrings) in kit form
– ‘pick your own’ laser cut jewellery to assemble yourself
– something to sew together
– button/embroidery kits including a hoop

Any suggestions gratefully received!


Day Twenty Five – 30 Days of Creativity

Two lots of creativity in one day – today was busy!

I headed off to London first thing to see my stitched plant cell in the Stitched Science exhibition at the Science Museum – have to say it was really weird seeing something that I’d created on display in such an amazing place as the Science Museum! Sadly my photos of it in situ didn’t come out very well or I’d have shown you what it looked like in its posh perspex case!

There were several workshops going on at the exhibition, including helping to knit a planet Earth out of plastic bags, making a mini Martian or contributing to a giant knitted Jupiter. I still can’t knit properly so decided to join in a couple of the other non-knitting-related workshops.

First up was making a pompom to add to the rings of Stitched Saturn as part of the Stitched Solar System. I generally struggle with pompoms, maybe it’s my perfectionist streak kicking in but they never look as good as I want them to. Perhaps I just need to make more – they say practise makes perfect after all! Here’s my little pompom complete with googly eyes:


And here he is giving a fellow pompom a funny look for only having one eye:

Pompom giving a weird look

Hopefully Stitch London will post up a pic of the completed Saturn once all the pompoms have been made!

After my pompom-making stint I drifted over to Mr X Stitch’s table to try my hand at cross-stitching an emoticon. I picked the one I use most often and sat there stitching away for a good couple of hours until I’d completed it!

O_o Cross Stitch

Once I’d got the hang of it the stitches flew by and I like to think the back of the stitching is pretty good for a beginner:

O_o Cross Stitch Details

It’s definitely whetted my appetite for cross stitch and perhaps embroidery too, I can cope with those crafts in a way I just can’t where knitting and crochet are concerned! Though I think I will end up dreaming of little Xs tonight…