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Lace Zips & What to do with them.....

When people see our lace zips, they always love them..... it's hard not to right? They're so pretty!

However we're so often asked, how or what can they be used for?

So with this in mind we thought we put together a quick post with some of our favourite ideas, to help inspire you....

1 - Tea and a Sewing Machine - Purse with Lace Zipper

2. Beautiful Clutch Bag from Wonderful DIY

 

3. Lace Zipper on a top by Sewing Rabbit

4. Lace Zipper Pouch by Fort Worth Fabric Studio

5 - and not to miss our own recent tutorial and free pattern 🙂 - Sew Cherry 2 Lace Zipper Make Up Bag

Hope this helps get your inspired!

Happy 'Lace Zipper' sewing x

 

A Guide to Fabric Patterns - Lets call it a late Valentine's Gift from us to you!

Ever wondered what the difference is between a Pencil Stripe and a Pin Stripe or how a Herringbone compares to a Houndstooth? Well in this week's Poppy Seeds, we sent out a Poppies & Polka Dots Guide to Patterns and we just couldn't resist sharing it here too!

If you're not already signed up to our weekly 'Poppy Seeds' - free weekly tips to help your sewing skills blossom, then be sure to do so here

For now here's our guide, which can be printed off and pinned next to your sewing machine, so you'll never be confused by patterns again!

The Scrappy Project Planner by Lori Holt of Bee in my Bonnet

Having quilted for many years, Lori Holt is a big fan of writing down and keeping track of each quilt that she makes. Luckily for us, this has now resulted in this utterly fabulous 'Scrappy Project Planner' so we can do the same too!
Are you a planner, scheduler or list maker? Do you love making quilts? If any of these ring true with you, then this Scrappy Project Planner will be right up your street and in Lori Holt's own words...."I'm sure you're gonna love it as much as I do!"
 
The project planner has 5 sections, which makes for 'easy peasy quilty organisation'!

You can see from the image of the project pages above that there is plenty of space for keeping a track of supplies, fabrics used and even sketches if you decide to make your own designs for quilts.
The weekly pages allow you to keep a track of your progress on each project, mark in sewing days, retreats, sew alongs and quilt swaps etc.

The tips and organising section includes Lori's 5 Step method to building and using your own scrappy stash, how she uses her leftovers and even how she shops for and stores her fabric (fabulous!).
There's also her 'Shortcut Methods' on piecing several quilty necessities, like flying geese and quarter square triangles.
Plus several handy charts for all different sizes and loads more......it's simply jam-packed with quilty goodness!
 There's also a section for notes and sketching too!
But here's the 'cherry on the cake'. If you were wondering why Lori Holt called this her 'Scrappy Project Planner', then here's why......
Lori loves to sew scrappy and thought this would be the perfect place to share why and how she does it and most importantly how easy it is.

So the last section of this gorgeous planner, includes 6 (whoop, whoop) new quilt patterns from Lori Holt,  all sewn from her scrappy stash bins!
The first quilt is this one below which is called "Happy Trails".

The next is called "Fat Quarter Flirt" and Lori used 30 fat quarters to make it in this twin size and according to her it's very easy to make and check out the gorgeous result!
The next is called "Shortcut Stars" and she designed it using all of the shortcut methods that Lori included in the planner.
Then comes "Patchwork Tulips", which according to Lori was a must to include as she loves making scrappy flower quilts from her stash.
Then there is the 'Scrap Apple' quilt.....Lori Holt's twist on the traditional pineapple quilt. The book explains an easy method for cutting and sewing this fun quilt.
The final one is her scrappy 'Checkerboard' quilt, which uses the simple but always beautiful nine patch. Perfect for using up your leftover scrappy squares.
Check out how beautiful all 6 quilts look together - a feast for the eyes.... so much variety, such beautiful designs and colours and all from left over scraps!
Lets not also forget the other little goodies which Lori Holt has designed to be used with the planners, we also stock the 3 Sew Cute bookmarks that can be used to keep your place....(3 projects at a time!).
Plus a gorgeous book of super cute, super tiny stickers to be used with you planner and help remind you of appointments, takes and special things that you have planned - irresistible.
So who can resist the temptation, I for one need to have these in my life....
Happy Scrappy Sewing everyone x

A gift from us to you - Free Stocking Tutorial with pattern template

stocking-tutorialThe countdown has well and truly begun and we're getting ever so excited by the overwhelming choice of Christmas fabrics available. A really good way to not have to choose between them is to combine contrasting or complimentary patterns and a stocking is a great way to get started. Suitable for all abilities and can be embellished as much or as little as you like. Stockings also make an incredibly thoughtful gift too! If that's not inspired you to become a one person stocking-making factory this Christmas then read on because they really are satisfyingly clever to pull together...

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Without further ado I present you with your Classic Christmas Stocking with Cuff tutorial, courtesy of Louise Ambrosi of Sew Sofia fame.

First things first...

Stocking Pattern Template:

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Stocking Materials:

20 x 23 inch main fabric (this is just over one fat quarter. To make two stockings we used 0.5m of both the Christmas Puddings and Snowflakes and Stars from Festive Friends collection by Dashwood Studio)

20 x 23 inch lining fabric (we used Sunny Kona cotton cotton)

10 x 14.5 inch piece of contrasting fabric for stocking cuff

10 x 3 inch piece of contrasting fabric for hanging loop

16 inches of pompom trim, ribbon or ricrac (optional)

Basic sewing kit

Tailors chalk

Ruler

Iron

Fabric glue (optional for the trim)

Points to note before you start:

Seam allowance, unless otherwise stated: Quarter inch

Finished stocking measures 18 x 7 inches (45cm x 17cm)

RST is right sides together

WST is wrong sides together

SA is seam allowance

Backstitch at the start and finish of any sewing to secure stitching.

Stocking Instructions:

Print out the PDF stocking pattern pieces at “actual size” use the 1 cm square to check you have printed the correct size. Tape the stocking pieces together by overlapping the pieces as per the diagram on the pattern.

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Lay stocking pattern onto your main fabric, trace and cut then FLIP over the pattern piece to cut out the other side of your stocking. Repeat with the lining fabric so that you have four stocking pieces.

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Hanging loop

Fold the 10 x 3 inch rectangle in half lengthwise and press to make a centre crease. Now fold the two long edges to the centre and press. Fold again to have a 10 x three quarter inch piece with no raw edges showing. Pin and stitch to close the open edge, then stitch along the other long edge. Set aside.

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Sew the Stocking

Pin the main stocking pieces right sides together (RST). Stitch down one long side, slowly follow the curve of the foot and toe, then up the other long side with a quarter inch seam allowance (SA). The top short edge is left open. Cut tiny slits on the curved part of the stocking, turn the stocking right side out and press well.

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Repeat with the two lining pieces, leaving a 6 inch gap on one long edge. When you get to the foot and toe of the stocking, increase the seam allowance to ½ inch. This will prevent a baggy lining inside the stocking later! Trim seam allowance to one eight of an inch and leave the lining stocking wrong side out.

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Sew the Stocking Cuff

Fold the 10 x 14.5 inch piece in half RST matching the shorter edges. Pin the short edges together and stitch, then press open the seam allowance. Turn this tube right side out and press again. Tuck half of the tube inside itself and press again.

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If you are planning to decorate your cuff, this is a good time to do this. I added a cute red pom pom trim to the FOLDED edge of the stocking (the raw edge of the cuff will be disappearing soon!). The pom pom trim is quite elastic and fiddly to pin, so I stuck it in place with a thin strip of fabric glue before sewing it on with a zipper foot, this can also be sewn on by hand but be sure to tuck in the edges that join around the cuff.

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Fold the hanging loop in half to make the short edges meet and pin to the top raw edge of the cuff piece about half an inch in from the side seam and with a quarter SA. Backstitch a few times to secure.

 Add the cuff to the main stocking

Take your finished cuff piece and slip over the top of the main stocking so that the side seams match and pin in place. The hanging loop needs to be pinned down flat on the cuff and on the ‘heel’ side i.e. the opposite side to the toe! Sew all around the top edge with a quarter inch SA.

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Final assembly

Now slip the whole stocking still right side out inside the lining which is wrong side out. Match the side seams, pin in place making sure that the hanging loop is still down between the layers and that the main stocking toe is pushed into the lining toe! Stitch all around at a half inch SA.

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Pull the main stocking through the gap in the lining. Fold and press the seam of the lining gap and stitch closed.

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Tuck the lining into the main stocking, press well and edge stitch the top of the cuff to finish it off. Now all you need to do is get, or make, some stocking fillers!

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Variations:

Personalise your stocking by adding a name or initial with embroidery or applique to the front stocking piece or cuff piece before assembly.

Make a patchwork effect by cutting different fabrics for the toe piece and shaft piece adding half inch to the seam allowance to sew them together.

Add a cute pocket in contrasting fabric to the front of the stocking.

We hope that's got you focused if you were wondering where to start. Happy Christmas Crafting everyone!

Yours, by the fire x

 

Rio Olympics...Union Flag Bunting & Brooch!

Hi, I'm Katy from The Littlest Thistle and I'm here today to help get you in the Olympic spirit in the run up to this year's Games.  I was a team leader of one of the front of house teams at the Commonwealths in Glasgow a couple of years ago, and it's always fun to see the attendees coming out in their team's colours, however big or small, to show their support.  To this end I have a couple of options for you for supporting Team GB.  The first is some flag bunting - string them around your TV, across the room, across the street or even wound about your person, whatever floats your boat!  For those looking for something a little more subtle, I also have a wee badge that you can pin on.

 

To make the union flag bunting:

For a 5-8 flag string you will need:

1 FQ Sevenberry Blue Medium Spot
1 FQ Sevenberry Red Gingham
1 FQ Kona Snow
1 FQ Sevenberry Beige Stripe
1-2 m Royal Blue Striped Bias Binding (the length will be determined by the number of flags and where you wish to string them)

To assemble the bunting:

Print off as many The Littlest Thistle UJ Bunting Foundation Pattern Pieces as you will need for your selected number of flags.

Print out one The Littlest Thistle UJ Bunting Backing Pattern Pieces and use it to cut as many backs as you need for your selected number of flags - note that these will tesselate nicely if you cut each on in the opposite direction to the last, making your fabric go further.

Cut out and piece each section following the numbers and colours marked on the pattern.

Lay the pieced sections out for each flag as per the photo and sew them together with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Lay a backing piece on top of each one of the pieced flags, right sides together, matching all edges and sew around the sides with a 1/4" seam allowance, leaving the top edge open.

Clip the points as per the photo to reduce the bulk when you turn them right sides out.

Gently turn the flags right sides out, using a chopstick or similar to ease the point out, then press.

Press the bias binding in half, folded edges in, matching long edges.  Sandwich the top raw edges of the flags in between the binding, spreading them evenly along the length, and pin in place.  Zigzag stitch along the length of the binding to hold it all together.

To make the union flag badge:

You will need:

Scraps blue fabric
Scraps red fabric
Scraps white fabric
Scraps for backing
Marking pen(cil) for tracing
Glue pen for basting
Brooch back or safety pin

I used the scraps from making the flag bunting, but this would be a charm square friendly project if you were starting from scratch.

To assemble the badge:

Print off and cut out each of the The Littlest Thistle UJ Badge Pattern Pieces - make special note of what section goes where on the red diagonal pieces as they are not all the same!

Trace the pattern onto your fabric and cut out - I used a pair of small, sharp pointed scissors for this as the pieces were so small.

Starting with the white saltire (the diagonal cross), centre this on the blue background - I do this by folding the background in half in each direction to create a light crease and aligning the corners on the saltire with the fold lines.  Glue baste in place then stitch all the way around using your favourite method for raw edge applique.  I wanted mine to get a little frayed at the edges so I straight stitched a little inside the edges, but you could also do a small zigzag stitch.

Layer up the remaining pieces, stitching each in place as you go, in the following order:

1. White cross
2. Red cross
3. Red diagonals

Place the backing right sides together with the stitched flag, matching all edges.  Leaving a small turning gap at the bottom, sew all the way around with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Clip the corners as per the photos to reduce the bulk when you turn the badge right sides out.

Gently turn through the gaps, using a chopstick or similar to ease the corners out, then press.

Top stitch all the way around the badge, 1/8" from the edge.

Stitch a brooch back to the back of the badge, or use a safety pin to attach it to your clothing.

Wonderland Art Caddy designed and made by Louise Ambrosi, Sew Sofia

ART-CADDY3

Create this fun art caddy with just three fat quarters from the Wonderland collection by Melissa Mortensen for Riley Blake.

The art caddy can hold an A5 size sketch pad or writing paper and 12 felt tip pens/twistable crayons. It’s perfect for travel or taking to restaurants for some quiet entertainment - kids love toting these caddies around and it’s a great way for them to keep their pens tidy too! Once you’ve mastered the basic design, why not add extra pockets on the back or inside and embellish or personalise with the child’s name.

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Finished size: 8inch x 12inch when folded
Seam allowance, unless otherwise stated: 1/4 inch

Materials:

3 coordinating fat quarters; I used:
1 FQ Wonderland main blue (outer fabric)
1 FQ Wonderland labyrinth (coordinating outer fabric)
1 FQ Wonderland white floral (lining fabric)
2inch piece white sew on Velcro
13inch x 18inch wadding/fleece (I used 2oz polyester wadding, you can also use a sew in or fusible fleece.)
0.75m medium iron-on interfacing
6.5inch x 4inch scrap of fleece or wadding
0.5m ricrac or ribbon (optional)
Basic sewing kit

Cutting instructions:

Cut the following from the outer fabric (rabbits)

 
2 rectangles 13inch wide x 10inch high (if using a non directional print cut 1 rectangle 13inch x 18inch)
1 rectangle 8.5inch w x 8inch h for the pad pocket (make sure rabbits run along the width)
1 rectangle 6.5inch x 4inch for the flap. Tip: cut interfacing piece first and position over the outer fabric to centre a rabbit on the flap.

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Cut the following from the coordinating outer fabric (labyrinth)

2 rectangles 16inch x 6inch for the handles
1 rectangle 6.5inch x 4inch for the flap
1 rectangle 13inch x 7.5inch for the pen pockets

Cut the following from lining fabric (white floral)

1 rectangle 13inch x 18inch
1 rectangle 8.5inch x 8inch for the pad pocket

Cut and fuse interfacing to the wrong side of fabrics as follows:

2 rectangles 13inch x 10inch (outer 2 rabbit rectangles)
1 rectangle 13inch x 18inch (lining white floral)
2 rectangles 16inch x 6inch (handles)
1 rectangle 8.5inch x 8inch for the pad pocket (outer)
1 rectangle 13inch x 7.5inch for the pen pockets
1 rectangle 6.5inch x4inch (flap lining)

From the wadding cut 1 rectangle 18inch x 13inch for the caddy body and 1 rectangle 6.5inch x 4inch for the flap.

Here is a rough layout of the art caddy outer and lining in pieces.

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Preparing the pieces:

1. Outer fabric If using directional fabric, place the two 13inch x 9inch rectangles right sides together making sure that the print on both pieces is pointing in the opposite direction. Sew along the long side with a 1/4inch seam allowance. This will be the middle of your caddy. Press open seam allowance and if you’d like you can sew a piece of ric rac above this central seam on the right side. Set aside.

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2. Handles Fold the 16inch x 6inch rectangle in half lengthwise and press to make a centre crease. Open out, then fold each long raw edge in towards the centre and press. Fold again in half and press to make a 16inch x 1.5inch handle with no raw edges showing. Topstitch along each long side of the handle. Repeat with other handle piece and set aside.

 

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3. Flap Fold the lining piece 6.5inch x 4inch and finger press to make a centre crease. Cut a curve on the long raw edge, then place the lining piece onto the outer flap and cut the same curve. Do this to the fleece scrap as well.

If you want to decorate the flap like I did, sew ricrac or ribbon onto the outer flap piece to frame the rabbit.

Take the rough side of the Velcro and centre it horizontally onto the lining flap 1inch up from the raw edge. Pin/hold in place while you sew around the Velcro making sure to backstitch.

Place the outer and lining flap pieces right sides together, then place the fleece scrap on top and clip/pin together. Starting at the top right edge, sew around the flap leaving the top short straight edge open. Trim seam allowance to 1/8inch, turn the flap out and press very carefully on the outer flap – do not get your iron near the Velcro or you will melt it!! Topstitch the flap piece and set aside.

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4. Pad Pocket I decorated the top of the pad pocket with some ricrac. Pin the pad pocket outer and lining pieces 8.5inch x 8inch right sides together making sure that the rabbits are facing up! Starting at the bottom right 8.5inch edge (with the wrong side of the rabbit fabric facing up), sew around the three sides leaving one side open to turn out. Trim seam allowance. Flip the pieces wrong sides together, use a pointy tool or finger to gently poke out the corners and press. Topstitch the top edge only. Set aside.

5. Pen Pockets Turn under one long edge of the pen pocket piece 13inch x 7.5inch by 1/4inch, press and then turn under again by 1/4inch. Topstitch along this long edge only. Turn under the other long edge once only and press.

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Making the art caddy:

6. The pen pockets: Fold the lining piece 18inch x 13inch in half right sides together matching up the shorter edges and press to make a centre crease. Position the pen pocket piece on the right hand side of the lining piece 1inch in from the centre fold, with the topstitched edge on the right and pin in place. Starting from the bottom edge, sew along the two short sides and the long bottom edge.

To make the 12 pen pockets, using tailors chalk and a ruler, mark a 1/2inch line in from both short edges. From the first line mark 11 x 1inch lines.

I find it easier and neater to sew the pockets from the base to the top. Turn the fabric around so that the pen pocket opening is pointing towards you. Starting from the base of the pocket piece, sew along the lines making sure you backstitch at the start and finish of each narrow pen pocket to secure. Test a pen inside the first pocket to make sure it fits neatly. Trim all threads front and back.

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7. The pad pocket – On the opposite side of the lining rectangle, position the pad pocket 2.5inch up from the bottom edge and with raw edges matching. Starting from the right top edge of the pocket, sew along the three side edges to create your pocket making sure to backstitch a few times to secure stitching.

8. Attach flap and handles - centre the flap above the pen pockets, lining side down about 4.5inch from each side and pin or clip in place. Position a handle 1inch to either side of the flap with about 2inch on either side. Baste in place.

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Position the other handle on the pad pocket side of the caddy 2inch in from either side and with raw edges matching. Fold the caddy to check that the handle mirrors the position of the other handle. Baste in place. The lining is done.

9. Final assembly: first you need to mark where the other Velcro tab will go. Place the outer fabric right side down, then the wadding, then the lining on top. Carefully fold the art caddy to close and place the flap over the outer fabric and mark in chalk where the other Velcro tab will go. It should be about 4-4.5inch in from the centre of the caddy and just depends on how thick your wadding is. Taking the outer piece only, sew on the Velcro, remembering to backstitch to secure in place.

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Now for the final sandwich! Place the art caddy lining side up with pad pocket on the left, pen pockets and flap on the right. The flap and handles need to be lying flat inside of the rectangle and could be pinned out of the way. Place the outer fabric right side down on top of the lining making sure that the Velcro tab is on the opposite side to the flap. Place the wadding layer on top and clip all the way around the caddy (you can use pins too but make sure they are facing inwards as we will be sewing on the lining side of the caddy).

Now flip the caddy over so that the pen pockets are on your left, the pad pocket is on your right and make sure that the lining is aligned with the outer fabric and laying perfectly flat. Starting at the top right corner, sew along the short side across the handles, pivot and sew along the long side, then down the other short side with handles and flap. Pivot and sew along the other long side leaving a 6inch gap to turn the caddy. Trim seam allowances and clip corners being careful not to cut into the stitches. Reach into the gap and pull the caddy inside out. Poke the corners out gently and give the caddy a good press making sure to stay clear of the Velcro with your iron! Fold under the open seam, press and pin/clip. Starting about 0.5inch in from the corner with the gap, topstitch all around your caddy taking your time as there are a few layers to get through.

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You are done! Now all you need to do is fill it!

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How to recreate a favourite dress without the pattern!

The lovely Anna who recently joined the Poppies & Polka Dots team is a big fan of dressmaking, so we thought it only right to ask her to share some of her knowledge! Here she walks us through the process of recreating a favourite shop bought dress, fabulous! So over to you Anna.......

Recreate your favourite dress

My daughter is three and so making clothes for her is an absolute joy. Projects are small enough to complete over a weekend and she is beginning to take real pride in selecting her own fabrics and teaming whatever it is that I have lovingly made for her with swimming goggles and a pair of snow boots! Blinding outfit combinations aside, there are some things she always comes back to. One of these is a little cotton wrap-around dress but it was shop bought and therefore I don't have a pattern for it. There's no point buying a similar looking pattern and attempting a recreation for the child that sleeps with one eye open, should anyone try to extrapolate her My Little Pony, and so it started me thinking about just how feasible it is to reproduce firm favourites whilst keeping them intact.

Original

As it turns out if you've ever made a dress before, child's or otherwise, then you'll have the skills required to do this because you'll appreciate the need to construct the bodice pieces and skirt separately before attaching together. Also it's likely that terms such as 'gather' will feel comfortably familiar!

Nonetheless and to be on the safe side, I would estimate this as an intermediate level project.

French chalk and chocolate at the ready? Then here's how I went about it:

1. I started off by ironing the original dress, laying the dress flat and working out how many panels it consisted of. As it turned out the dress was made up of six panels in total: 1 x bodice back piece, 2 x bodice side panels (one reversed), 1 x skirt back panel and 2 x skirt side panels (one reversed). The side seams all lined up. There were also two side straps that were the same length and which held the dress in place when worn and tied in a bow at the back.

Construction

2. Using dressmakers tissue paper I traced around each panel exactly as it appeared and teased out the curves as I went in order to capture bulky areas such as armholes.

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3. Once I had all panels replicated on tissue paper, I re-traced each piece to add a tolerance for how much my daughter had grown and also a 1.5cm seam allowance. This was particularly relevant where the skirt length was concerned.

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4. I then lay each of my pattern pieces out on the table in the order in which they would sit once constructed so as to check that nothing strange had happened (remember that dresses will be gathered and hemmed so there is room for error if these don't sit seamlessly together).

5. Next, I labelled each of my pattern pieces for ease of recreating at a later date.

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6. I took my pattern pieces over to the cutting table and started pinning, ensuring that the fabric was the correct way up and that any pieces that were designed to sit on the fold were indeed on the fold!

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7. Once everything was cut, I started by joining my skirt pieces first at the side seams. Lots of skirts are constructed out of two pieces, a front panel and back panel, but mine was made up of three panels. By the time I had joined up all the panels I was looking at the fabric equivalent of a Viennetta!

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8. I ironed out my side seams and ironed in the hem at the same time. I find it easier to hem while the fabric is on the flat rather than after it's been gathered - you're welcome!

9. Now for the bodice: I attached the two bodice side panels under the arms to the back panel at the side seams, right sides facing. I then attached the shoulder seams and ironed these four seams flat.

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10. I cut two lengths of fabric to roughly match the length of the dress straps. These were twice the width  needed to create the finished straps and I folded them over, right sides facing, and sewed up one side on each to form an inside out tube. *- Tip: If you have enough fabric left, cut a third strap which you can turn in to a scrunchie to match the dress! -*

11. I then turned these right side out using the safety pin method. I ironed these neat and flat.

12. I pinned each strap to the bodice side edges so that the pattern was not right side up while pinned but would be once the strap was secured, hemmed and turned in on itself.

13. The moment of truth!  I attached the bodice to the skirt by gathering the skirt and adjusting the distribution of gather so that the seams of the bodice lined up with the seams of the skirt and pinned in place. I then sewed to finally secure, removed gathering stitch and finished seam with zig zag stitch to prevent fraying.

Gathering

14. I then ironed all the way around the skirt side edge and sides of the bodice and neckline so that the skirt, bodice front and neckline were folded over twice in the same manner as a hem. I stitched carefully in place from bottom of skirt corner around skirt sides, bodice front, neckline and back down the other side. The straps now sat correctly and had been secured as part of this process.

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15. I made some bias binding for the armholes to finish off the bodice. You could also use the same hemming process as the skirt and bodice if preferred.

16. I then made a small slit in the bodice side seam by opening up a few of the side stitches just above where the skirt joined the bodice and reinforced with stitches at the top and bottom of where the strap would sit. This was to feed one of the wrap-around straps through to secure in place when worn.

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And here you have it, the finished article.

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I hope you feel inspired to copy yours or some else's favourite dress without the fear of having to unpick it and thus lose the original garment forever in the process!

The fabric I used was Fablewood Buds & Bloom by Dashwood Studios click here for details

Your Poppies & Polka Dots seamstress in residence,

Anna x

 

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Zipper Purse - Easy Step-by-Step Guide to making your own!

Zipper Purse - FinalPersonally, I think you can never have enough little zipper purses....there's always something you can keep in them and they look so pretty!

Zipper_Purse_Cotton_SteelThis is a perfect beginners sewing project. It doesn't take long to master, doesn't use up much fabric, so if you make any catastrophic mistakes, it won't cost the earth to start again. Plus it shows you how to insert a zip. Something which lots of people try to shy away from, but honestly it isn't that hard at all!

Zipper_Purse_Cotton_Steel_OpeningAnyway, here I've tried to provide all of the instructions that you'll need and include various pictures to help you along the way (sorry, I've tended to jump around with the images that I took, as I was making all three designs at the same time).

I have been itching to use these Cotton + Steel fabrics for months and the Dashwood Twist range works perfectly as a contrasting lining, Hope you like this and find it useful.Zipper_Purse_Cotton_Steel_zipper_tabs

Materials for one:

1 Fat Quarter fabric from Cotton + Steel's Melody Miller fabrics - outer fabric.

1 Fat Quarter fabric from Dashwood Studio Twist collection from Nature Trail by Dashwood Studios - lining fabric.

1/2 m Heavy Fusible Woven Interfacing

1 x 23cm (9in) standard zip in contrasting or matching colour

Basic sewing supplies

Cutting Instructions:

Cut the following pieces from the outer fabric:

2 x pieces (front & back), 27cm x 13cm (10.5in x 5in)

Cut the following pieces from the lining fabric:

2 x pieces (front & back), 27cm x 13cm (10.5in x 5in)

2 x pieces 5cm square (2in square).

Cut the following from the heavy fusible woven interfacing:

2 x pieces (front & back), 27cm x 13cm (10.5in x 5in)

How To Make The Zipper Purse:

1. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing to the back of the 2 outer fabric pieces.

2. Trim each end of your zip, taking a small amount off each end - no more than 1/2cm (1/5in).

3. Take the zip to the machine and roughly sew together the ends of the open side of the zip (it doesn't matter which colour of thread you use as this will not be seen on the finished article. This process will help you later on when sewing the zip onto the fabric.

Cotton + Steel Pencil Case / Make Up case - 54. Take both of the 5cm square (2in sq) pieces of lining fabric to your ironing board and iron in half, then open up and iron each side in approximately 1/2cm (1/5in) - see image below.

Cotton + Steel Pencil Case / Make Up case - 45. Take the first of the two pieces of lining fabric that you have just ironed place one end of the zip into the middle folded material. Line up the folded edges of the fabric with the end of the zipper teeth. Pin in place as per the below picture. Repeat with the second folded lining piece - pinning it to the opposite end of the zip.

Cotton + Steel Pencil Case / Make Up case - 5

6. Take the zip to your sewing machine and using a zipper foot stitch the lining fabric to the zip at both ends - try to sew as close to the edge of the fabric ensuring you sewing both top and bottom fabric edges to the zip - see the image below.

Cotton + Steel Pencil Case / Make Up case - 67. Trim off the excess lining fabric in-line with the edge of the zip. Now your zip is ready to be attached to the fabrics.Cotton + Steel Pencil Case / Make Up case - 78. This is when things become a lot more fun...... take one of the outer fabric pieces and lay it face side up on your work surface. Then take your zip that you've just been working on and place wrong side up (teeth down) onto the face fabric. Then finally you need to place one of the lining pieces that you cut out on top - wrong side up.

The picture below shows the order of fabrics and the way they should face, but you need to get each of the items lining up along the top edge, so they can all be sewn together.Cotton + Steel Pencil Case / Make Up case - 8

9. Pin or clip (I like to use clips at this stage as it is easier to keep the fabrics together and remove the clips as you sew), then take all 3 items to your machine. Don't worry if your zip is slightly shorter in width compared to the lining and outer fabrics - this is what you're aiming for at this stage.

10. Again, using your zipper foot, sew along the top edge of the three layers approximately 1/2cm (1/4in) from the edge attaching all 3 pieces together. When you get towards the end where your zipper pull is, stop sewing, reverse stitch and finish off. Remove the fabric from the machine and then move the zipper pull further up past the part that you've already sewn. Then place your fabric back down at the machine and continue sewing where you left off to the end of the fabric.

Cotton + Steel Pencil Case / Make Up case - 9

11. You've now attached one side of the purse to your zip, you need to attach the second side. Take your 2nd piece of outer fabric and as with step 8, place this fabric right side up. Then take your zip (which now has one side attached - try to ignore that!) and place the zip wrong side up (teeth down), then place the remaining lining piece wrong side up. Line the top edges together and pin or clip in place.Cotton + Steel Pencil Case / Make Up case - 1012. As before, sew all 3 layers together approximately 1/2cm (1/4in) from the edge. When you get to the place where your zipper pull is, reverse and finish then remove the fabrics from your machine. Move the zipper up and out of your way. Then replace the fabrics back down at the machine and continue sewing where your left off. Continue sewing the whole way down the top edge of the fabrics. Exactly as you did with the first side.

Cotton + Steel Pencil Case / Make Up case - 12

13. You've now attached both sides of the case to your zip and can take it to the iron to press it open.Cotton + Steel Pencil Case / Make Up case - 1314. Once you've pressed the pieces open, you now need to take them back to the sewing machine and with your regular foot, top stitch along the length of the zip on both sides approximately 2mm from the edge of the fabric (1/16 or 1/8in).Cotton + Steel Pencil Case / Make Up case - 14Here's a couple of examples of the finished pieces with the top stitch complete.

Cotton + Steel Pencil Case / Make Up case - 14Cotton + Steel Pencil Case / Make Up case - 1515. Now everything is ready to sew together the purse! ***It's really important at this stage, to open your zip half way***.

Then take the bottom edges of the 2 outer fabrics and line the 2 pieces together, Then do the same with the lining pieces.

Next line up the edges of the fabrics at the zip. It is important to fold the zipper fabric that you attached earlier in the process in the direction of the lining fabric. See the picture below which illustrates this, as it's tricky to explain exactly what I mean!

Cotton + Steel Pencil Case / Make Up case - 16Once you have lined up all of the fabrics, pin the fabrics securely at the zipper section and then pin or clip all the way around the item. See image below:

Cotton + Steel Pencil Case / Make Up case - 1716. Now take the purse back to your sewing machine and starting approximately 2/3 of the way along the bottom edge of the lining fabrics, start sewing the 2 fabrics together. Use a 1cm (approx 1/2in)  seam allowance along the bottom edges and 0.5cm (1/4in) allowance along the sides (to minimise the amount of bulk at the zip sections).

Cotton + Steel Pencil Case / Make Up case - 17

17. Each time you reach a corner remember to keep the needle in the fabric, lift your footer to turn the fabric around 90 degrees before placing the footer down again and continuing sewing along the edge. Remember to be very careful when sewing over the zipped sections as you will be going through quite a few layers of fabric at this point. Cotton + Steel Pencil Case / Make Up case - 1818. Once you arrive back on the original long edge of the lining fabric, sew long until you are about 1/3 of the way along that length and finish off. You should now have sewn all the way around the purse, leaving an approximately 6-8cm (2.5in) opening.

19. Remove the purse from the sewing machine and now start to turn the piece right side out through the opening that you left in the lining.

20. Hurrah - you should now have a lined and zipped purse! At this stage you can use something pointy (I used a knitting needle to help), to push out all of the corners including each end of the zips. Once you've done that, you now have to take the purse back to the sewing machine and sew together the gap in the lining.

Cotton + Steel Pencil Case / Make Up case - 19

21. Now all that remains is to push the lining back into the purse and take it back to the iron to give it a final press.

22. Now sit back and admire your work - a beautifully lined purse with zipper tabs in a contrasting fabric. This can be used as a pencil case, or to keep make-up brushes or make-up for how about a purse for your crochet hooks?

Enjoy!

Zipper_Purse_Cotton_Steel_Opening Zipper_Purse_Cotton_Steel

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Spring & Easter Bunny Bunting - A quick & easy how to....

Spring Bunting - How to make your ownWith Easter just around the corner, I decided it would be nice to make some bunting which we can use for decoration at a kids Easter party we're hosting.

This is a simple and cost effective pattern, which only requires 1/2 metre of the main fabric for the flags, plus half of a fat quarter or whatever scraps you have lying around for the bunny decoration. Plus some some little pom poms and bias binding to hold it all together....

Here's exactly what I used:

1/2 metre -Essex Yarn Dyed Linen - Chambray (currently sold out) but this would look great too Essex Yarn Dyed Linen - Indigo

1 FQ - Sidewalks Small Floral Cream

3 metres - Polka Dot Bias Binding - Yellow

1 metre - Small Pom Pom Trim White

Fusible webbing

Rotary Cutter & cutting Mat

Scissors

Pencil / Pen

Matching thread

Fabric glue

Instructions:

1. Cut out the bunny rabbit stencil - I have attached a pattern below, which you may wish to use. Attach your fusible web to the back of the patterned fabric (using the manufacturers instructions), then draw around the bunny rabbit stencil and cut them out - you will need 9 bunnies for this bunting.

Spring Bunting - Bunny Rabbit - Template

2. Cut your half metre of Essex Yarn Dyed Linen from 50cm to 40cm in length (your fabric piece should now measure 112cm wide by 40cm drop). Next fold the fabric in half along the horizontal, so that it is now 112cm wide by 20cm length (double fabric).

3. Using your ruler and pen/pencil make a mark along the top folded edge of the fabric every 22cm the whole way across the 112cm width until you run out fabric.

4. Do the same along the bottom edge of the fabric, this time make a mark every 11cm.

5. Using your ruler and rotary cutter, start at the top left hand corner of the fabric and diagonally place the ruler from the top corner down to the first mark at the bottom of the fabric (11cm along from the edge) - now cut the fabric on the diagonal. Then starting at the bottom (at the point you have just cut) cut on the diagonal up to the first mark you made at the top of the fabric (22cm along from the left edge). Continue doing this, cutting on the diagonal from bottom to top, until you have cut out 9 triangle flags (still double fabric).

6. Some of the triangles will need to be cut along the top edge where the fold was, to create 2 triangular pieces (see this earlier blog post for more clarification on the cutting process. If needs be.

Bunny Rabbit to be sewn onto flags

7. Once you have all 9 flags cut out (2 pieces of fabric for each) and you have your 9 bunny rabbits in the contrasting fabric, you now need to attach the bunnies to the front of each flag. Follow the manufacturers instructions for the fusible webbing to do this.

8. If you would like to secure your bunnies further, stitch around the edge as I have done in the below image. Don't worry about being too neat around the tail area, as this will be covered with the pom pom tail!

Bunny Attached to fabric

9. Once all 9 bunny rabbits are attached onto the front piece of each flag, we can begin to assemble the bunting itself. Starting with the first flag, take both pieces of fabric (front and back) and turn the fabric right sides together, so you can sew the bunting together inside out. Then starting at the top corner allowing approximately a 1/2cm seam allowance, sew the first side together. Stop sewing approximately 1/2cm from the bottom point, keeping the needle in the fabric, lift your footer and turn the fabric. Now sew along the 2nd side, back to the top of the flag. Leave the top (straight edge) open - do not sew these edges together.

Sew the sides of the bunting flags together

10. Once you have sewn all 9 flags together on the two sides, as shown in the below picture, snip the bottom corner off the fabric, being careful not to cut too close to the stitches.

Snip the bottom corner off each flag

9 Basic Bunting Flag Shapes

11.  Next you need to turn each flag right side out, being sure to poke out the bottom corner (I used a knitting needle to be sure I got some nice pointy corners). Then using your iron, carefully press each flag flat, making sure you get nice crisp straight lines on both sides of the flag.

Turn each flag right side out and press12. Neaten up the top edges of each flag, so you have good, straight line to tuck into your bias tape.

Trim the top edge ensuring a straight finish13. Back to your sewing machine with all 9 flags and the bias binding. Fold the bias tape in half at one end (length ways) and sew together the open sides, staying as close as you can to the open edges. I did this for approximately 20cm - however, depending on what you think you'll need to tie the ends of the bunting to, you might prefer to have longer trims at each end.

Attach the bias tape14. Take the first flag you'd like to sew into place and put the top open edge into the opening of the binding - make sure that the top of the flag is as close to the folded inside edge of the binding as possible. Begin sewing along the open edge of the tape to attach the flag and close up the binding.

Top Tip: I find using quilting clips really help to hold the next flag in place just before it reaches the sewing machine needle. Much easier and quicker than pinning and also means you can be sure the flag is held tightly in the correct place and properly inserted into the binding.

5cm gaps between each flag15. Continue sewing past the edge of the flag for 5cm and add another flag. Then add another flag into place on the binding. Repeat this process until all of the flags are attached.

Attach all 9 flags in the wayBe sure to sew another 20cm (minimum) of the binding tape together after the last flag has been attached, in order that you have extra on the end to hang the bunting with.

16. Once all of the flags are sewn on and you have sewn together enough binding tape at the end to allow for the bunting to be hung, you have nearly finished your Easter bunting. All you need to do now is attached the bunny tails. Simply cut 9 pom poms from the pom pom trim and using a fabric glue, stick each one in place!Cut pom poms for the tail17. Hang your yummy 'Spring-time Easter Bunting' and admire your work!

Spring Bunny Bunting - Finished product

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'Cro-Pro Emma' & The Spring Tulip Cowl

SPRING-TULIP-COWL-2

I can hardly believe it, but it's been almost a year since we last had the pleasure of welcoming Emma from Steel & Stitch to Poppies & Polka Dots; and what a journey she has been on since then!Emma Friedlander-Collins

We are absolutely delighted that despite her busy schedule, Emma has agreed to design a new crochet pattern for us here at Poppies & Polka Dots and just check out this stunner she's created!

Spring Tulip Cowl - Yarn Pack

 

Given what a cold Spring it's been so far, this pattern is the perfect anecdote to that - cosy and practical, but stylish and very, very pretty.

 

Before we get started with the pattern, I thought it would be fab to find out what Emma's been up to since we last caught up, so here's the latest from Emma:

Just a year ago I began my cro-pro (yep, crochet professional) journey, and what a journey it’s been so far!   My second book ‘Big Hook Crochet’

Emma Friedlander-Collins - Big Hook Crochetwas released in September last year by CICO publisher, and my third is now written and in the process of being printed, due for release in the autumn of this year. I’ve also had the enormous good fortune of being featured in everything from ‘Mollie Makes’ to ‘Woman’s Weekly’, and now contribute regularly to ‘Inside Crochet’ and ‘The Art of Crochet’.

It’s been a real learning curve though, working for yourself, by yourself you have to be everything; marketing, designer, social media guru, writer, finance officer, admin and tea lady. One of the big challenges for me has been finding a way to connect with a community in a meaningful way, don’t get me wrong, crocheting all day and hanging out with wool is great, but it was a shock to the system leaving the day job and all my work pals. Instagram has become a place where I’ve met some amazing people, and not only made friends but now ‘work’ colleagues and business opportunities.   It also forced me to define my aesthetic and has resulted in photography work and a front page feature in The Guardian Online

Crocheting with Colour

I also got myself an adult teaching qualification, and have had the opportunity of running workshops all over the place, from a local school to the British Library.   Teaching has become one of the most rewarding facets of my crochet journey, as well as the hardest, but there’s real joy and satisfaction to be had from sharing a skill.

There is literally not time to mention all other amazing things that have happened, but I find that saying ‘yes’, and reaching out to people without being afraid of the consequences is the only way to keep going forward. Who knows where this journey will go next? I keep thinking that it can’t possibly have anywhere else to go, and then something else pops up and it’s off on another road.

Emma

Steel&Stitch

xxx

Huge thanks to Emma for this wonderful insight into her world of gorgeous crochet loveliness and most importantly for this stunning pattern. So here it is...can you resist it? Not sure I can!

Spring Tulip Cowl - Free Pattern - from Emma Friedlander-Collins - Steel  & Stitch

This sumptuous, tulip inspired cowl is ideal to throw on while the weather is still all nippy round the edges. In lovely, chunky yarn, you’ll have it made in an evening but be wearing it all Spring.

Rowan Big Wool, Super Chunky (100% Merino Wool, 80m per 100g)

A - Reseda(69), B – Pantomime (79) and C- Prize (64)

 10mm hook

Spring Tulip Cowl - Yarn Pack

Notes

Tc2tog – rather than working together 2st’s from the previous row, yarn over and work the first part of a tc st, then in the same st, yarn over and work the first part of another tc, and then use the final yarn over to work them both together.

Abbreviations

htc –half treble crochet

tc - treble crochet

tc2tog – work 2tc st’s together

ch – chain

slst- slip stitch

sk st – skip a stitch

Rnd 1: Using yarn A, ch 44, sl st ends

Rnd 2: ch2, htc in each st, sl st (44)

Rnd 3: Using yarn B, ch2 htc in each st, slst

Rnd 4: Using yarn C, working in back loop only, htc in each st

Rnd 5: Using yarn A, working in back loop only, ch3, *sk st, tc in next st, ch1*, rpt to end, sl st to finish

Rnd 6: Using yarn B, ch3, *tc2tog in top of tc st from prev row, ch1* rpt to end, sl st

Rnd 7: Using yarn C, ch2, *work 2htc’s in chain space from prev row* rpt to end

Rnd 8-11: ch2, htc in each st, sl st

Rnd 12: Using yarn B, working in back loop only, htc in each st

Rnd 13: Using yarn A, working in back loop only, htc in each st, sl st to finish and weave in ends

IMG_5351 Spring Tulip Cowl - with TulipsCrocheted Spring Tulip Cowl - Emma Friedlander-CollinsAll photo credits to Emma Friedlander-Collins - Follow Emma and her stunning photographic Crochet journey on Instagram.