Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Silk purses, sow's ears and lavender bags

It's not often that I make something by hand which might even be good enough to sell. Usually I'm rushing to get something finished because I've promised Prima she can wear it tomorrow, or because I'm sick and tired of yanking jersey through the sewing machine. All too often, the end result is nothing like the one beautifully depicted in the instructions.  This is also partly due to the fact that I am too mean to buy gorgeous fabric and instead try to get the same effect with an old school sweatshirt and a couple of bits of felt. I am always ignoring the fact that you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Perhaps I am learning. Or perhaps it was simply a matter of the right book at the right time. Today's project, which was inspired by 101 Ways to Stitch Craft Create (£10.66, David and Charles), went like a dream. This hardback book features (obviously) 101 quick and easy projects to stitch, sew, knit, bead and fold. While the projects are described in "step to step" terms, the tone is neither patronising nor presumptuous. Each project takes up one page and is accompanied by a photograph of the end result, which makes you really want to try it. Next on my list are the Union Jack card, Quilted oven glove, and Russian doll decorations (don't tell Prima!).

Since I have a large amount of dried lavender from the garden this year, I decided to try the sailing boat lavender bag, but adapted it somewhat. I didn't have any beautiful Tilda red striped fabric or blue polka dot ribbon. Although there is a boat template on the stitchcraftcreate website, which ties in with the book, I opted for a heart-shaped motif made with a piece from a fat quarter I got for my birthday. Yes, a piece of NEW FABRIC! The main fabric would be a scrap of dark denim, and the ribbon came from a boxed bundle of blank cards.

Although I didn't follow the suggested materials to the letter, it was useful to have the instructions as a guide (I nearly sewed the ribbon loop on upside down) and to have the dimensions set out, making the lavender bag neither to fiddly to sew nor pillow-sized. Not including cutting fabric, the first bag took about 40 minutes to make.

Another bonus about the book is that it encourages you to try all sorts of crafts, not just sewing, and the templates provided in the back/ on the website mean that you will get pleasing results even if you aren't a great free-hand drawer. This will make you feel more confident about giving the item as a gift. The projects are all flexible enough for you to adapt them to your own budget or to the materials you have available. I was so pleased with the end result, it was really professional, quick and cheap to make and fabulously lavendery, that I might start a production line. I'm sure I've got an old tea towel I could use...

Fancy making something too? Good range of downloadable patterns here.
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