Saturday, October 30, 2010


As promised last week, here is the recipe for the aprons.   Please remember, I am not a pattern writer.   I have drawn diagrams to the best of my abilities, and hopefully, as there are a LOT of photo's you will be able to follow along.    The measurements on the chart are a starting point only.   It may be wise to  make a mock up first (top bit only), then you can determine where darts need to go and how big a dart is needed.   I used drill fabric for the black and pink aprons, and the floral apron is a poplin type fabric with a poplin lining.    The drill aprons are finished using a facing, the floral is a full lining.    Use of a lining fabric is recommended if the main fabric is a little thin.  

I purchased  1 1/2 metres of fabric (59 inches) at 112 wide.   This makes an apron 1 metre long (40 inches).  For the lined apron, I also purchased  1.10 metres/43 inches of lining fabric. There were bits left over, but I wanted to make sure I  had enough as I was working the aprons out as I went (and in the case of the floral apron I used all the floral up due to an  "unfortunate incident").   You will also need  3 - 4 metres (final length is personal preference, I like to tie mine around the front) of good quality herringbone tape - 1 inch wide (2.5cm).   Some are better than others, one of the ones I purchased had absolutely no body at all so I ended up making a strap.     Okay, here we go....
 Fold your fabric in half length ways.    I gave mine a light press.   Trim top to give a straight edge.  Measure desired length and cut.   At the top edge, make a mark - 1/2 the width of your above the bust measurement.  (On this sample it was 7 1/2 inches/19cm).   On the outside edge (length) measure down 12 to 14 inches (if you are high waisted 12 inches/30cm will probably do).    Draw a gentle curve between these two points.      The remaining fabric will be for the pocket and the facing.    Keep it folded.
This is the "armhole" for want of a better description.    If you want to vary the neckline with a "sweetheart" shape or any other shape that takes you fancy, you can draw this in and cut out also.

 Next, we have to draw out a facing.    This needs to be drawn on the fold (neck edge).   I used the apron piece I had just cut, as my pattern for this piece.   Trace the design and then across the neck edge, make a mark 3 inches/8cm down.   On the armhole edge, the facing doesn't quite have to be as deep - 2 inches/5cm will be sufficient.    Do place your drawing as close to the top of the fabric as possible to allow the waste to be used for the pocket. 
Use your tape measure to mark a cutting guide.   Here I am marking the facing at two inches and will use these marks as a cutting guide. 
Cut the facing out.   On the wrong side of the apron piece and the facing, mark your dart position.  As a starting point, try the dart at 3 1/2inches/9cm  in from the outside (armhole) edge.   Adjust as necessary.  I drew the straight line (dart centre) 3 inches /7.5cm long and then placed a mark at 1/2inch /1.5cm on either side of this line. I  then drew a line down to the  point - this gives you the centre of the dart and a stitching line. 

 You will notice on the facing for the pink apron, I didn't make the neckline facing  area as deep as I have stated in the above instructions.   This means that the dart point on the facing will not be able to be completed.   This works fine, just draw the lines using an imaginary finishing point and then sew accordingly. 
When pinning the two pieces together, make sure that one dart faces one way, and the other faces in the opposite direction so they butt up to each other nicely.

Sewing order is important in the project, for ease of finishing.    Pin the facing  - neck edge to neck edge - be very careful of the armhole areas as they are now bias edges - so treat them kindly!     Make a mark (or pin) as follows:   Armhole edge - mark at 6/8 inch, from this mark, make another mark at 1 1/4 inches, this is for the tape/strap slot.  Do the same on the other side.   You will now stitch a short seam, leave a gap of 1 1/4 inches, sew to the next mark, stop, leave a gap of 1 1/4 inches and then sew the remaining 6/8 inch measurement.   With the wrong side facing up, lightly press the seam open.     

 You are now going to do a little bit of top stitching around the holes you have just made.  
Now fold back, right sides facing and sew the rest of the facing on to the apron piece.  
If you have done a sweetheart neckline, you will need to clip the curves.   Turn right side out and gently press, making sure to roll the facing slightly to the back to give a neat finish on the front.   Using a small zigzag stitch, neaten the edge of the facing.   REMEMBER   follow the order of stitching, for ease of construction!

Now we will approach the side seams.  These were completed by folding over once and then folding a second time.   I used the glue stick to keep them in place, (pins will be sufficient) and gave a light press.  You can see from the photo that this seam incorporates the facing.  
Next is the hem.    You can see from the photos how this is folded. 
First fold.
 Second fold - nice neat corner.  
Now top stitch  in order - side, bottom, side.   

Now we have to take care of the armhole area.    Press the facing into postion and pin the facing down to stop any puckers.   First top stitch the outside edge.   Use the slits you made on the top edge as your guide.   Sew each of the two outside edges first.       Next, using the quilting guide, you are going to sew the channel for the tape.   To set the guide, line up your needle with the edge of the slit (it doesn't have to be bang on it - to the side slightly is fine) and adjust the guide until it sits on the top stitching line you have just sewn.

Sew the two channels.    You can now thread your tape.   Start on the side, come up through the neck slit, go back in through the other neck slit and come out back on the side.    Try the apron on before adding pockets.  Mark where the pockets should be placed.

The pockets are made from the leftovers.    I had enough left to make one piece for the front of the pocket, and joined the two pieces from the armhole scraps for the lining.   The best way to sew these is to leave a gap in the lining pieces and press open the seam.   With right sides together, sew all around the pocket shape in one piece and use the gap in the stitching to turn through.   This makes for a neater edge.  Slip stitch the seam together, press and top stitch the top edge.   Find the centre of your apron and the centre of the pocket, and sew in place.    My pocket is a  rectangle, with a centre seam forming two pockets.


For the fully lined apron, you will need to cut two pieces, one main and one lining fabric.    The darts and neckline will be cut  as above.     Again, mark your darts and pin and check that they fall well.  Adjust if necessary, and make the same adjustments to both pieces.  

Sew darts and press in opposite directions as per the facing style.    When sewing the darts, and to get a good sharp point, try the following - start at the widest part of the dart, with normal stitch length.   As you get closer to the point, start reducing your stitch length until the last 1/4 inch or sew your stitch length is 0.5.  Run off the fabric - don't back stitch, leave a small tail, done!
 There is a slight change of order, when doing the fully lined version of the apron.   Sew the neck edge first, leaving the holes for the tape/strap to feed through.    Press open as before and top stitch.  

Now you are going to carry out the same procedure for the sides, to make a slot for tape/strap.   This time, sew the short line of stitching, leave the same width gap and then stitch for 3 inches down the side of the apron.  This will make your top stitching around the hole easy to manage.    Once this step has been completed, you can sew the armhole seams on both sides.   Go back and finish sewing the side seams, top to bottom.     Leave the hem open.    Turn the apron right sides out. Carefully push corners out (remember to clip).   Press.    As before, top stitch the two armhole seams first, and make the channel.   Sew across the neck edge.  Then sew down the sides, taking care not to sew over the tape slits!!  

Turn up the hem, I folded twice to get a neat edge, and top stitch into place.

 Thread the strap through as before, try on and mark for pockets if desired.     I attached the pocket, sewing through both layers.

I hope the above instructions are clear and easy to follow, any questions, just ask.    I look forward to seeing some aprons in the coming weeks.  

Bye for now.   Sue xxx

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


This week, instead of finishing aprons, I was momentarily sidetracked with making a candle mat.  The embroidery design is for an embroidery machine, but if you haven't got an embroidery machine and you like a bit of applique, this is a simple project you could recreate with a simple triangle shape and a suitable shape for the basket.    If you are using your machine for applique, and it has  a few fancy stitches, you could use these as the swags of tinsel on the tree.  (This design will be posted on Sewforum, shortly).

If you fancy making one of these,  the following are some of the measurements you will need to get started.    It is an idea -  run with it, make it as big or as small as you like, decorate as you wish.     I used some Swarovsky Crystals to finish off the tree baubles. 

For this size mat, you will need 55 cm or 22 inches of  112cm/42in of fabric.  Mine was plain white with self coloured stars.     Cut this in half  - one for the front and one piece for the back.  
Batting/Wadding  55cm/22inches  by  55cm/21inches.   You will also need scraps of fabric for the trees.

I used the front fabric and the wadding first, and quilted using stippling, to stabilise the fabric.  You could also use a grid type of  quilting or a few random lines running up and down and across -  maybe even some fancy stitches if you like.

This will be the base for the applique.

Now you have to draw up your star.    I drew up 5 stars on paper, and moved them around until I was happy with the arrangement (suitably star like).    I pasted them down on to a bigger piece of paper to make my pattern piece.   When pasted, I took a ruler and added a 1/4in seam line all the way around.    Cut the paper pattern out and pin to your fabric.    Now using a method you prefer, transfer the design to the pre-quilted fabric.  DO NOT CUT ANYTHING!

Here are the measurements of my triangle (before seam allowances).

If you are using the embroidery design, print out a template and use to position the Christmas Tree correctly.  I lined the tree base up with the bottom corners of each triangle.    You can of course, position them how you like.
There is a line included in the embroidery that I used to make small adjustments to placement.   I temporarily used the good ole glue stick to tack the paper in place and made adjustments on the machine until happy with the placement.   I let the machine sew a few stitches on this line, stopped it, moved it ahead a few and sewed out a couple more stitches - just to make sure it was all straight.   To remove the paper, just carefully clip the stitches between the paper and the fabric.  If you didn't go mad with the glue stick, it will pull off easily - I used the same template for all five trees.

When everything is in place, do your tack down row of stitching and prepare the fabric for applique - I used vlysofix on the back of my applique pieces.

Sew out all five trees.   The finished top should look like this.   If you want, you could also add something to the centre at this point, perhaps Merry Christmas or Seasons Greetings.
 Now that the front is finished, we have to prepare the backing fabric.    You may choose to do this in another fabric, entirely up to you.    With the right sides together, fold the backing fabric in half.   Now cut in half using scissors.    Sew a seam, joining the two pieces of fabric together leaving an opening in the centre.   This will be for turning.     Make sure you do secure the stitching at each side of the  gap.   Press the seam open.
Using the drawn line as your cutting guide, cut out the star shape now.

Lay the backing fabric, right side up, on to your work surface.    Place the star shape on this fabric - face down.  Try to avoid having the seam line  fall on the points or in the valley, (see the arrow) - make sure the gap you left is in the centre of the star.  Move the star shape until you are happy with the arrangement and then pin into position.  DO NOT CUT ANYTHING.

Using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, sew all the way around, joining the two pieces of fabric.  I find it best to start my seams halfway up (or down) a triangle, not in the corners or on a point.    Now you can cut the star shape out from the backing.    By doing this, you are not working with bias edges that will shift and loose their shape whilst you are working on them.     Trim the points and clip in the valleys ready for turning.
Using that gap you left in the two pieces of fabric, turn the star through, taking great care with the corners so you don't pierce the ends.    By having a seam in the middle of the backing and not on the edge, all your edges will keep straight, and it is then a simple matter of ladder stitching this seam closed.

Work the points and seams with your fingers and then give a good press from the back.   Once everything is in place, you can now top stitch around the edge of the star.
The best way to get a good stitch on the points is to run a thread through the end of each point before sewing.    As you reach the end of the point and turn (remember to use "Needle Down"), you can pull on the thread, to make these points move under the presser foot and not get caught by their bulk.
I had a go at doing a slide show, to show you the finished product.   Here goes nothing.....

And just to finish off for today, how about some sticky buns straight out of the oven.

Bye for now, Sue xxx

Friday, October 22, 2010


Aprons seem to be all the rage at the moment, as long as you are pencil thin and flat chested, they cover what they are supposed to.  Now, I am neither of the above, you try to keep "nice" whilst baking only to discover one of the girls is now covered in flour because she has slipped out from behind the curtain.   So to rid myself of this dilemma, I have been working on these. 

Cupcakes seem to go hand in hand with the apron theme....

or we can go with a little bit of Pink and Poodles .....

The poodles and the Eiffel Tower came from a set called "Ooh La La Applique" that is available from Designs by JuJu.    I used fleece for the poodles.

I have one more apron to go, a little floral number.   When I have worked out the kinks, I will tell you "how to" if you want to make one for yourself.   

Now I have to get on to one of my crabby rants and sink the boots into......


So far this week, I have had to replace the toilet seat on a reasonably expensive suite.   It has been in operation for five, possibly 6 years, the seat split.   Guess what, that style is now obsolete.   I have a new seat, it is not the right seat and it looks wrong - curved seat versus squarer style porcelain.   At this point I am settling for this arrangement, 1. because there is nothing worse than having your thighs pinched in the middle of the night, and 2. because it is better than parking it on cold porcelain.     I have been watching one of the renovation shows on the go at the moment (The Block) and laughed when somebody put in a loo that cost a grand.     How ticked off will the lucky owner be when the seat breaks and a replacement part is unavailable because it is out of fashion.    Thanks Porcher, I won't be buying my next suite from you.

Now I'd like to move on to the next failure, and that is my Sunbeam Pro Stick Mixer.    I have been making smoothies for breakfast and like to use this unit.   That was until yesterday when I suddenly realised that milk was seeping up the rubber seal and  fermenting in the tube - gross.     As it is still under warranty, guess what Mr Sunbeam will be getting back.

And drum roll...........finally (for this week anyway) I'd like to thank Mr Ilve and his team for an expensive and shoddy product.    The piece de resistance today;  when I noticed part of the badging of my oven laying on the floor.   It is only a little thing you say, but surely an oven that is going to be used, a lot,  should have it's badging riveted or screwed on, especially when it is in a prominent place on an oven that gets hot...... and wouldn't you think it would be enamelled, not plastic on what looks like brass, but probably isn't.    How is it attached?  Well, as you can see, this bit isn't, but the brass part is glued by the look of it.  (See how it has dropped).

  This was an expensive piece of equipment and truly, I don't think it lives up to the hype - remember - those model type people covered in food, look of ecstasy on their faces. (Google Ilve and go to their Advertising Page).

Where to start, where to start, lets see:   

*   Even cooking - no need to turn trays - somebody forgot to tell my oven.  
*  Oven that would impress great cooks,  the shelves bend when you put a heavy    casserole  dish on them.
The actual unit spent three weeks on my kitchen bench, when one of the controls burnt out. 
*  The unit had only been installed for 4 months and nobody was available to repair it over the Christmas/January break. 
*  The knobs come loose too easily.
*  As part of the matching set, I have the cook top as well.   Wouldn't you think, in this day and age, that the trivet part of the burners would be made in a metal that could go in the dishwasher, instead of being made of aluminium that is impossible to get clean?   I'm just saying......

If you are doing a kitchen renovation, think carefully.   I can't wait for the next exciting installment with  Ilve.

Ok, now I have this weeks issues off my chest, I will go and sew  something and take calming breaths until something else drops off, blows up or catches fire!

Bye for now, Sue xxx