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Project: Legend of Zelda Bow Tie

This lovely fabric was bought as a remnant from Ebay absolutely ages ago and was originally intended to cover a lampshade. After much deliberation, swearing and an accident involving glue, I decided that it wasn’t something that I wanted to pursue at the moment – I tend to try and add too many feathers to my bow (is that the phrase – or is it arrows in a quiver?) and felt it better to sideline this for the time being.

So instead I did a really sensible thing and agreed to do something else that I hadn’t done before which was even harder! This all came about after posting the fabric to my Twitter feed and asking for some opinions. Sam the scientist got in touch and asked if I made bow ties…he is quite the bow tie aficionado! I replied that I hadn’t but I would certainly be prepared to have a go if he was willing to let me use him as a guinea pig for what could be a Frankenstein’s monster creation. Deal struck and I went pattern hunting.

Finding a pattern for an old fashioned, hard to tie bow tie was really easy, but finding something concrete for a pre-tied bow tie was a little trickier. In the end, I found that Pinterest and other sewing blogs were really invaluable. I literally read through tons of these and picked out a few bits I liked and mashed them together to create myself a little bow tie set up.

The bow itself was the easiest part of the make. It needed interfacing otherwise it looked very floppy and didn’t hold any sort of shape. The dapper gentleman obviously doesn’t want that (!) so an iron on interfacing was added. Then a rectangle was sewn up and pinched at the centre section in order to get the shape right. I pressed again at this point to really fuse the interfacing and get a crisp shape to hold.

I then sewed a strip of fabric for the neck strap and another for the “knot” of the bow to make it look very authentic. I initially intended to use a Velcro fastener but the anxiety about the fit (especially if the fabric gave a little while wearing) led me to decide that it would be best to order a proper bow tie fastening kit in order to provide neck measurement adjustability and a smart hook fastening. With kids bow ties, Velcro is much preferred as there is no danger of swallowing it or any sort of lethal eye injury from the hook and I wanted this to be a smart and sophisticated piece while having the fun gaming element in the design. Velcro on an adult bow tie just didn’t fit the bill so I ordered a black metal fastener set which was just a couple of pounds from Ebay and arrived within 48 hours.

Now this was the bit that took the time. It was really, REALLY hard to find clear instructions for how to attach the fastenings to the strap so that the darn thing would be adjustable. I must have spent 3 hours JUST on this part of the make. Most instructions gave a sort of verbal diarrhoea of twists and turns and I ended up going back to what I do best which is plain and simple experimenting. There was nothing else for it because I needed to trust my instincts. Mercifully I finally got the hang of it and finished the make just in time. It will now reach Sam the scientist in time for his science conference at Google this coming week.

 

I’m just hoping it sits well when worn and isn’t too ‘forward heavy’. Perhaps the collar of the shirt itself will help with this (having┬ánever worn a bow tie, it was difficult to know if this was the case!).

Lets hope Sam enjoys his piece and can I thank him for his patience with a longer making period than first predicted. It doesn’t do to send out a product you aren’t happy with and so I wanted to take my time to get this one just right. Here are my top 5 tips for a bow tie creation:

  1. Always have a trial run of your make with some old scraps of fabric and not your best and final. This makes experimenting less painful
  2. An extra press of the iron to define the shape of the bow is helpful
  3. Hand sew any tiny areas to avoid a messy result
  4. Have a proper fastening method for adult bow ties – Velcro isn’t going to hold its own on a grown up neck
  5. Make sure there is a plan B, particularly if you have a deadline to work to.

Hope you enjoy the pictures, feel free to comment if you’ve ever made a bow/bow tie and have any top tips of your own!

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Project: Sonic the Hedgehog

I had a bit of a wake up call the other day when I realised that all I ever seem to sew is either Pokemon or Zelda themed. As a bit of a Nintendo collector, I think I’d been a bit self centred in terms of interests! I decided this week to breach the comfort zone and try something Sega; and who better than the beloved Sonic to start with.

Lesson of the week number one: I need to remember that I can’t distinguish tone! Its a sensory processing thing and I have disordered processing so I need to stop trying to “match” colours to what I already have. Luckily my husband is practically a savant when it comes to colour (useful in the print trade!) and is able to determine colour saturation tweaks on a printer to the nearest 5%. He tried very hard to stifle his giggles and then explained where I was going wrong. So off to the shops I went and picked out the proper thread that I needed using the chart. I am usually and Anchor user but decided to give DMC threads a try as the pattern was set up in that way (you can use a converter to switch between brands but I was already flustered!)

I was pleasantly surprised at the quality. There was no fraying and very little knotting or snagging. The colours were vivid and the thread was soft while being strong enough to manage the repetitive action of cross stitching. I learnt the hard way after buying in bulk from Ebay last year, that only the real deal is going to cut this type of sewing. It’s definitely best to buy from somewhere reputable where you can be certain that you aren’t buying 20 skeins of thread that simply falls apart even as you try to thread the needle. As the old adage goes, “if its too good to be true, it probably it”.

This piece was made on 16 count white Aida using DMC branded thread and two strands. I want to do a couple more showing Sonics range of movement and expression so I’m not going to frame it just yet as I’m not too sure how I want it to look yet. Any suggestions would be very welcome!

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Pre-Launch Post 4: Working out the finer points

There hasn’t been a blog this week for a couple of reasons but mainly because its been 30+ Celsius all week long. I didn’t fancy adding to the sweat patches by poring over a hot computer and I was too tired and flustered to sew!

 

 

That being said I have had some awesome deliveries this week. The lovely team at Jaycotts sent me these beautiful patterns which I love and can think of so many ways of working with. I may use some of my scrap box to make some mock ups with as I think buying any more new fabrics at the moment wouldn’t be advised. Its a difficult balance to have enough to show what you can do while at the same time not eating every penny of your savings. I don’t know yet what people will and wont like so I’m trying to be sensible with my outlay.

 

 

 

 

 

I also went hunting on Ebay for more remnants which turned up some lovely Zelda and Pokemon fabrics.

I also got a generic ‘gamer’ motif with a game boy style picture but I’m not sold on the fabric it is printed on. Going to have to think carefully about what that will suit. I must also diversify my subject matter a bit. Always far too tempting to buy ‘safe’ fabrics or patterns!

The Aztec style Zelda print will be used to up-cycle a lampshade which is looking good so far and has been quite a discussion point on Twitter this week.

 

I’ve also been ironing out the finer points in the admin department too. Terms and Conditions are now finalised. I’m waiting for the stationary to go to print as my husband hasn’t had a spare moment to set it all up but its not too urgent (yet!). I’ve started building a pricing structure and have considered a few more product lines as well which is good progress. One of the final steps will be formally registering as self-employed after my contract finishes on 21st July. I’ve been doing some fantastic networking with fellow creative minds via the Guild of Makers chat on a Wednesday evening on Twitter using the hashtag #makershour. I’ve had a lot of insight and support from fellow creators (business owner and hobbyist alike) and I’d really recommend that for anyone with a creative mind. Some of the talent out there is staggering and gives me a lot of ambition.

I’ve a very busy few weeks coming up including a church fun day with a Star Wars theme. The costume is nearly finished so I will show you my creation when it is done. We also have multiple weddings, birthdays and summer meet ups to come so a good work-life balance will definitely be essential. Don’t forget that you can now subscribe to the newsletter to get a monthly digest of makes, competitions, coupons and more. I also have my Patreon running now and would love any support there as an ongoing subscription or you can donate a one off gift via the Amazon Wishlist. All this will help me during my start up period where things are going to get legitimately crazy I think! I also need to plan my first live Twitch Creative stream as I can’t wait to get that off the ground. I do need a second camera for that though and some sort of contraption to dangle it from! If only there were more than 24 hours in a day!!

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Project: Zelda ‘Link’ Cushion

Hi there. It is such a hot day here that having an old and hot sewing machine really hasn’t worked to my advantage but I successfully sorted a project out that I’ve been waiting to do for ages. Now that we have moved things about at home and I have more room to get my machine out whenever I want to, it is so much easier to snatch opportunities as they arise.

 

 

My current machine – Bernina Minimatic 870. It’s old and temperamental but we have an understanding!

I ordered a remnant from eBay quite some time ago now that was just screaming to be used. It was a ‘fat quarter’ size but didn’t have very straight cuts so it needed thought as to how best to use the fabric. I decided that as I had some poly-cotton oddments in black and this Zelda fabric, a cushion cover would be a safe bet. I had a spare cushion pad that measured 40 x 40cm which was ideal for the fabric pieces that I had. Plus, I’m ever the one for using every scrap of fabric possible and hate to throw anything away. This size left me a nice simple strip of fabric over from the Zelda fat quarter which I aim to turn in to something new soon (I have a plan but I need a pattern).

 

Peekaboo! The motif is vibrant without being garish.

This project took about 2.5-3 hours as I wasn’t using a pattern (although I had made this type of cover before). The two pieces of 40 x 40cm were the first to be joined (with a standard allowance added when cutting) using a simple black cotton and a running stitch down the bottom of the cover and 1/3 of the way up each side. I then attached the overlap flap to the top of the cover and joined it to the remaining open sides. All visible seams were made neat before the joining process so that where the overlap was looked tidy and crisp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Not a particularly challenging project but I think the pattern looks well centred. The range of colours in the print are going to compliment lots of different existing decors and the design is really pretty without being too feminine.

I realised as I turned the item out that the bottom flap overlapped the top rather than the traditional vice versa. I considered unpicking but actually it looks perfectly fine and there is no sag or puckering as a result. I haven’t added a Velcro fastening because as someone who has animals, a child and cushions with Velcro on…it collects hair, cheerios and fuzzy felts. The cover fits the cushion I have well, however there is a little wiggle room to account for any variation in the chosen filling (Feather cushions tend to make a much plumper cushion for example).

 

Looks gorgeous on my office chair!

 

I will be selling these in the shop either as stock or to order and will be available with or without the cushion filling (useful for those wishing to recycle existing cushion fillings or keep costs down a little). I’d love to hear what you think and what sort of cushion you would order for your own home!