Friday, 26 December 2014

Christmas Clothes for the Girls

The girls had a couple of days where they were allowed to wear "holiday colours" to school.  After trawling through their wardrobe, I realised that they don't have any clothes in holiday colours.  I decided that the easiest thing would be to make them some 30 Minute Skirts in Christmas colours.

I found some lovely red and white mini polkadot fabric at Spotlight (Plaza Singapura, Orchard Road, Singapore), as well as some white bias tape and wide elastic.  You can read about how these skirts are constructed in my original 30 Minute Skirt tutorial.  They are as easy as the name suggests, and I can easily make one in 30 minutes.

To complete the look, my wonderful Mother-in-law also made the girls some matching fabric headbands.  She used this great tutorial and free pattern from Happy Together:

Happy Together

The finished headbands were a perfect size for Olivia and Samantha.  The girls wouldn't stand still for a photo, so the headband has been kindly modelled by teddy:

The finished skirts and headbands were worn to school a couple of times, and again at home a couple more.

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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Mathilde Version Two

After the success of my first Tilly & The Buttons' Mathilde blouse I was keen to make a new version.  I saw this lovely version made by Jolie of Jolies Bobines:

Mathilde by Jolies Bobines

I checked with Jolie if it was OK to copy her version before I started.  I bought a flocked mini polkadot net and a black crepe fabric from Rolls and Rems in Holloway.  Like Jolie I took 4" of fullness out of the sleeves to make them a slimmer fit.  This was the only change I made to the original pattern.

I made a big mistake was choosing crepe.  I've never sewn with it before and had no idea how difficult it was to sew with.  I chose it because it has a lovely drape.  Unfortunately it is very slippery and keeps moving as you try to sew it.  I had to unpick and resew the tucks on the front to get them neat and even.  It also frays terribly.  Just incase you thought that wasn't bad enough, it was also very bulky and didn't iron well.  It was very hard to achieve a neat seam when there were layers of fabric (particularly around those tucks).

I've also never sewn with a sheer fabric before.  I didn't realise how much hand sewing would be required to get a neat finish.  I hand basted all the sheer seams before sewing them.  I hand sewed flat felled seams on all the sheer seams in the sleeves and shoulders.  I hand sewed the facing and button plackets.  I also completely hand sewed all the bias tape edges on the neckline and sleeve cuffs.  It took HOURS to make this blouse.  Half-way though I was convinced I would hate it, but it worked out really well.

I've already worn this top a couple of times and it looks fabulous.  Unlike Jolie's version, this blouse feels very dressy - perfect for a night out.  I really like the narrower sleeves and would definitely make another blouse using a day-wear fabric.
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Saturday, 20 December 2014

Sewing Disasters - The Dress That Nearly Went in the Bin

Recently I've been experiencing a run of really frustrating sewing.  I'm sure we've all been there.  You see a lovely pattern, and think you'd really like to have a go at making it yourself.  You buy (or draft) a pattern, choose your materials, spend ages carefully sewing your garment, then the big moment arrives. You put it on and … you don't like it, or it doesn't fit.  Aaaargh!

I experienced this recently.  Check out this beautiful dress by Adey at The Sew Convert:

The 3 Red Cats Dress by The Sew Convert

Everything about this is so beautiful.  The simple pattern and the adorable fabric combine to make an elegant, beautiful dress.  I bought my own copy of Rin Gomura-Elkan’s “Easy Japanese Sewing Patterns” for the pattern.

Easy Japanese Sewing Patterns by Rin Gomura-Elkan

I then visited my favourite fabric shop - Desai in Cricklewood Lane, West Hampstead.  I found this really special Liberty Tana Lawn.

I love Liberty Tana Lawn fabrics.  They are so light and beautiful, and the fabric is such lovely quality. The dress was a very easy make.  I did have a little trouble with the cutting out.  I followed the pattern placement guide, but didn't seem to have enough fabric.  I ended up making the bodice back in two sections, and joining them with a centre back seam.  After a bit of messing around with the Japanese instructions, and sending a question to Rin (which she very quickly answered) I managed to sew my dress in one day.  I used french seams and my best, careful sewing.

Once I was finished I carefully pressed it, then tried it on and … it looked weird.  Aaargh!  The front bodice seemed too baggy and puffy, the shoulders sat strangely and the skirt wasn't the right length.

I think I just chose the wrong fabric.  It really needs to be made in a very drapey fabric, or it just won't look right.

This dress sat in my cupboard for about six months, while I tried to figure out what to do with it.  It's such lovely (and expensive) fabric, that I didn't want to waste it.  I saw this really sweet dress on Guthrie and Ghani, and thought about about reusing the fabric to make something similar.

Leini Dress by Guthrie & Ghani

In the end I decided to have a go at remaking the bodice using the Sorbetto top by Colette Patterns, and adding a shortened skirt.

Sorbetto Top by Colette Patterns

I've made one Sorbetto top in a very light cotton shirting fabric, and I regularly wear it.  I like the simple silhouette and the comfortable fit.  I began by carefully unpicking the seams.  I unpicked the entire bodice (except that centre back seam) and carefully snipped off the skirt.  I then ironed the pieces and laid out the pattern.  No matter how I placed the bodice pieces, there just wasn't enough length in the fabric to cut the bodice.

After mulling the problem for a couple of days, I decided to patch in a piece of white fabric on the shoulders.  I stupidly added fabric to the front section and the back section, then joined them together.  That seam on the top shoulder looked terrible, so I unpicked the sections again, cut a new piece and sewed it between the front and back bodice pieces.

As an aside, I think I sewed those shoulder pieces in about 8 times.  I kept sewing them in upside down and back-to-front.  It was so immensely frustrating.  If it hadn't been such expensive fabric I think I would have thrown the dress out several times.

Once the bodice was finished I cut about 3" off the waist of the skirt (I hadn't unpicked the side seams or hem of the original skirt) and attached it to the bodice.  I folded the seam allowance over, sewed an elastic casing and inserted the elastic waistband.  The very last step was sewing belt loops on each side of the waistband and adding the sash.

Can you see that big smile on my face?  I LOVE this dress.  It is so pretty and comfortable.  That lovely Tana Lawn fabric by Liberty is absolutely perfect for sticky Singapore heat.  I can't wait to wear it out and about.
read more "Sewing Disasters - The Dress That Nearly Went in the Bin"

More Christmas Crafts - Christmas Bookmarks

Woah … two posts in one day, after a nearly six month break.  What is going on??  I thought I better get this one out quickly, or Christmas will already be gone.

We have been getting into the Christmas spirit with some holiday crafts.  I was asked to come into Olivia's class and run a couple of craft activities.  I needed to come up with activities that were not too messy, could be easily done by a group of nine year olds with varying skill levels, and would produce nice results.  One of the first activities I thought of was the laminated bookmarks created by LiEr of Ikatbag.

Image Source - Ikatbag

I just needed to create some Christmas themed ones.  I'm not very good at drawing so I searched the internet for suitable Christmas images, printed them the right size and traced them.  This is my finished colouring sheet. (As always, I'm happy to email this to anyone who wants it.  Just send me a message.)

Each child coloured in a sheet of bookmarks using felt pens and pencils.

They then cut them out and laminated them.  They turned out beautifully and were a big hit with the class.

If anyone would like a copy of the bookmark PDF, please leave me a message below or email me at randomcraftingadventures [at]

Merry Christmas and happy crafting.
read more "More Christmas Crafts - Christmas Bookmarks"

Friday, 19 December 2014

Origami Christmas Ornament

Hi Friends.  It's been a very long time.  We are now settled into our new house in Singapore, and I'm getting into the groove of school runs, activities, and also making new friends.  It's been a very busy time and I've been seriously neglecting the blog.

I have been pondering a post on organising an international move (or any move for that matter), and it will be appearing at some time in the future.  For now, let me share with you something that has been keeping me busy.

I was wandering through IKEA's Christmas display, when I spotted this cute little origami star:

Origami Star from IKEA display

When I got home I did a google search and found two terrific tutorials for folding German Paper Stars (also known as Moravian Stars).  There was a really excellent video tutorial by Lorraine Hebler and a photographic tutorial by Origami Resource Centre.  Using both these tutorials I have mastered the German Paper Star.    It's really very easy and makes incredibly cute Christmas ornaments.

With Christmas approaching, I wanted to make a cute (and inexpensive) gift for each of my girls classmates.  I decided to make each classmate a German Paper Star ornament.  The only supplies needed to make the stars were a pack of A3 paper, and some gold string.  I bought both of these from a local stationer for under $10.  I also needed some cellophane bags and some gift labels for packaging.

I started by cutting 1.5cm strips from the long edge of the A3 paper.

Once I had the strips, I randomly selected two colours for each star and started folding.

Slowly I made a pile of stars.

Eventually I had 50 stars.

I used my Cropadile to punch a hole in each star, threaded a gold string through each and knotted the ends.

Each star was packaged into a cellophane bag with a printed gift tag attached.

The girls have told me they were a big hit with their classmates.
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Friday, 8 August 2014

Be Right Back ...

Hi folks.  It's been a long time since I posted anything, and it'll be a few more weeks till I get much time to devote to writing.  We've just enjoyed a glorious three week holiday, and will be moving to Singapore next week.  It's all a bit crazy in our house right now.

I have found some great resources to make moving house a less stressful, and more organised, experience.  I'm looking forward to sharing how it all went once we are settled in our new home.

Have a happy summer (or winter if you're from down south).
read more "Be Right Back ..."

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Freehand Drafting with Chinelo Bally

I was lucky enough this weekend to attend a freehand drafting course run by Chinelo Bally, finalist from The Great British Seeing Bee.

The course was run in East London. We were all asked to bring our own sewing machines and scissors. Coming from the "be prepared" camp, I also packed my measuring tape, drafting ruler, chalk, pins, and snacks.

We started our day  by selecting our fabric. Chinelo had brought a great range of drapey fabric in a variety of patterns. I chose a simple blue geometric print. As the day went on, I got a bit of fabric envy, and wished I'd chosen something a bit more adventurous.

We then moved on to measuring ourselves and deciding if we wanted the skirt to be floor length or shorter, gathered or fitted, and if it should start from waist or under the bust. We then began with folding and cutting the skirt. It was cut on the bias, and involved some tricky fabric handling.  Fortunately Chinelo was on hand to help us.

The next step was to measure and cut the four bodice sections. I nearly messed the whole thing up by getting my maths wrong. 

Once the pieces were cut we moved onto sewing. It was a different experience sewing without a pattern. I wasn't sure how the dress would come together, as we were learning the pattern step-by-step.

The finished dress didn't quite fit. I had made my bodice to short. I unpicked the shoulder seams and inserted a 2" wide section. I ran out of time to finish the hem, but the dress looked pretty good. I plan to make some minor adjustments before I will call it finished. I'm going to take a tiny tuck in the under-bust area of the bodice to reduce the fullness. 

Here is my dress ...

And here I am with our excellent teacher ...

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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Make Your Own - A Dolly Sleeping Bag Tutorial

Several months ago, at the girls' request, I made a sleeping bag for their doll Peanut.  It was not fabulously sewn, was in clashing colours, and was made with supplies I had laying around the house (including a zip that was too short).

The girls have enjoyed it, and it's seen plenty of use.  About a week ago a reader asked me if I would post a tutorial on how to make this sleeping bag.  I figured it was a good opportunity to make it a bit better.


To make this sleeping bag you will need the following supplies:

  1. Bias Tape - I cut 1.5" strips, which gave me 0.75" wide tape.  You'll need enough tape to go around the whole sleeping bag.  This pictures shows 0.5" single fold bias tape, but I decided not to use it as it was too thin.
  2. Zip - minimum 12" zip.  I used  a regular dressmaking zip.
  3. Wadding/batting - two pieces cut to the following measurements 16.5"x11" and 12.5"x11".  I used a high loft batting to give the sleeping bag a nice, puffy look.
  4. Outer fabric - two pieces cut to the following measurements 16.5"x11" and 12.5"x11".  I used a cotton fabric.
  5. Lining fabric - two pieces cut to the following measurements 16.5"x11" and 12.5"x11".  Again, I used a cotton fabric.

The larger fabric and batting sections are the back of your sleeping bag, and the smaller fabric and batting sections are the front of the sleeping bag.


Start with the smaller pieces of outer fabric, lining fabric and batting.  Pin these pieces to your zip as shown above, with the RS (Right Sides) together.  The spotty fabric is the lining and the striped fabric is the outer fabric.  In the above picture the zip is placed wrong side up, and you are pinning to the right-hand side of the zip tape.  Ensure you align the top of the zip, with the top of the fabric.  Just let the excess zip hang out the bottom.

Sew along the length of the zip to secure the layers together.  Trim as much of the batting as you can from the seam allowance.  This will help give you a flat, even seam when you turn the fabrics out the right way.

Turn the fabrics out the right way, and baste very close to the edge all around the fabric.  If you prefer, you can top stitch the zip.  I just pressed it.  In the above picture the RS (Right Side) is the outer fabric, and the WS (Wrong Side) is the liner fabric.  At this point you should trim any messy bits of fabric and batting around the outside edge.

You will now sew the larger pieces of outer fabric, lining fabric and batting to the other side of the zip.  This time the zip is placed right side up, and the fabric is pinned to the right-hand side of the zip tape.  Your fabrics should be placed right sides together as shown in the picture above (outer fabric on top, lining fabric in the middle and batting at the bottom).  The zip sits between the outer fabric and the lining fabric.  

It is very important that you carefully line up the bottom edges of the fabric so the zip is in the same position on both the front and back of the sleeping bag.  Sew along the whole length of the pinned seam and trim the excess batting from the seam allowance.

Turn the fabrics out the right way, and baste very close to the edge all around the section.  Again, if you prefer, you can top stitch the zip.  I just pressed it.  You now have the main body of the sleeping bag attached to the zip.  The next step is to add the bias tape.

Sew bias tape along the top edge of the smaller section.  I carefully wrapped the end of the bias tape around centre edge (and zip), and sewed it very neatly.  My preferred method for attaching bias tape very neatly, is to machine sew the first edge, then turn the tape over and hand sew the back edge.  I can do bias tape on the machine, but I find I spend more time unpicking it and trying to correct messy sewing.  It's usually much faster if I just do the second seam by hand.

Hand sew a bar tack (or machine sew if you prefer) on the bottom of the zip, just a tiny bit above the bottom edge of the sleeping bag.  Cut off the zip in line with the bottom edge.  You can now fold your sleeping bag with the lining sides facing each other, and baste the two sections together (see picture above). 

Stop and give yourself a pat on the back - you almost have a finished sleeping bag.  I like to unzip and zip it up a few times, just to remind myself how clever I am!  To finish the sleeping bag, we just need to add the bias tape edge.

Start sewing your bias tape edge from the top of the zip on the back section.  Work your way around the sleeping bag using one continuous strip of bias tape.  To do this you will need to make mitred corners.  It's a tiny bit fiddly, but does give a very neat finish.  Again, I machine stitch the front edge, then I fold the tape over, and hand stitch the back edge.  I carefully wrap the bias tape around the zip on that bottom right corner, and sew it securely in place.

If you prefer, you can cut three rounded corners and sew your bias tape around a curved edge at each corner, rather than having those mitred corners shown above.  You'll still need a straight corner on the bottom of the zip.

You are now finished.  Unzip your sleeping bag, pop dolly inside and let her have a nap.

I hope these instructions are clear and useful.  I tried to make this tutorial look a bit more professional, and even went so far as to purchase some yellow card as a neat backdrop, although the picture were taken throughout the day, and the light kept changing and making the pictures look different.  Any feedback or comments are greatly appreciated.

If you have any questions about the method outlined, please let me know.  If anyone does make a dolly sleeping bag, please send me a link or photo.  I'd love to see your makes.
read more "Make Your Own - A Dolly Sleeping Bag Tutorial"