Thursday, 27 March 2014

Hillary's Craft Competition

I got a new sewing machine about six months ago. It's lovely, and yet I've not spent anywhere near enough time getting to know it. I've been in a bit of a sewing rut. My New Year's resolution was to work through my fabric stash, and so I've been sewing quilt tops like there's no tomorrow and doing little else. I needed something to break me out of my mould and into my new machine.

And along came an email from my lovely friend J at QuiltyKitty. She'd found this brilliant craft competition run by Hillary's . They send you a metre of fabric of your choice (of four patterns) and you make something with it. Blog it, and you could win a big prize. Sold!

I've had a look at some of the other entries (google them if you're interested - search for 'hillary's craft competiton' entries) and they are amazing. So amazing I felt a little embarrassed by my effort. But prizes aside, this was the most fun I've had sewing in a long time. I was challenged to be creative and come up with something original. I used loads of new tricks on my sewing machine. I ended up with three things that I love. How can you go wrong?

If any of you are in a sewing rut, set yourself a challenge. Buy a fat quarter of something and see what, and how much, you can make from it. And go on and drop me a comment and let me know what you made!

Project Number 1: the houndstooth skirt

As soon as I saw my fabric, I knew I wanted a skirt. If this hadn't been a competition, I'd have made a simple pencil skirt with a zip, but given I was drafting my own pattern - and I HATE zips - I decided to take a different approach. The idea for the sailor skirt was born: a straight skirt, a few darts for shaping in the back, and a button panel in the front with contrasting lime green pieces. I tried my hand at piping for the first time, inspired by the episode of the Great British Sewing Bee I'd just seen.

Piping was actually pretty easy. I used a zipper foot and bought cotton bias binding which saved some time. Give it a bash if you haven't already - I was really impressed with how nice and neat it makes things look. I lined the skirt, and used the roll-hem foot on my machine for the lining - another first! Maybe not as easy as the piping, but still quite good.

Blurry self-photo showing the piping, button panel, and mess on my bedroom floor.

Voila! One sailor skirt, no zipper required, easily made with a metre square and fabric left over. So, onto...

Project Number 2: the handbag

I was surfing eBay (dangerous habit) when I saw some green leather handles and thought they would be perfect for using up my extra fabric. Highly recommend this seller, by the way - very fast shipping and I love the handles! I used my leftover green to line it, and basically just cut out one piece for the outside and one for the inside in this shape:

Sew up the sides, leaving an opening in the lining large enough to turn the bag right-side out. Fit the outside inside the lining, right sides together. Sew around the top, then turn it out through the opening you left. Sew that up, and top stitch around the top of the bag. I invested in some magnetic closures (super fun!) and popped one on for a closure. Sewed on the handles and ta-da!

Bag and lining, right sides together, sewn and about to be turned

Turned right-side out and top-stitched

But there was still a bit leftover, and I had a lot of magnetic closures left, so we have...

Project 3: the sunglass case

This was even simpler than the handbag, and yet (because of that?) it's maybe my favourite of the three. It took about five minutes to make and I use it every day. Same process as above: two rectangles of fabric. Sew up the sides, leaving a gap in the lining. Put together, sew up the tops, turn through the lining, sew up the hole, top stitch, magnetic closure, done. Almost as quick as writing that sentence!

Measure to fit your glasses

Lining and outer piece sewn up, not yet joined together

My lovely friend Jon the Photographer came over to take a photo of the finished result, so here I am in my meter of Hillary's fabric. Thank you to the lovely people there who gave me so much fun this month!