Friday, 11 April 2014

Decorative Word Throw Pillows

I have a new toy... Tulip 3d fabric paint. It's easy to work with, washable and even iron-able (I checked!) and looks great. So after an experiment or two I thought it would be perfect for some new long pillows in my easy shop. It's also really quite cheap to buy, I got mine for just £1.89 from Tindalls online, and I think it will last for quite a few pillows!

love throw pillow decorative cover

I decided to use the negative space technique, highlighting a word by putting little blobs of the fabric paint all around the letters, so they really pop out at you.
smile cushion cover

Currently available in some lovely pastel colours in my little Etsy shop here: (or click the little E right there ------->>>

decorative white gold pillow coverlemon yellow cushion cover
and lastly... a pledge.
'I, Emily Kate Blake, of sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '14. I endeavour to wear one handmade item each day for the duration of May 2014'
Although I do wear my creations quite often, most are autumn/winter outfits and so I'm going to use MMM14 as an opportunity to get some more summery handmade items in my wardrobe.
So stay tuned in the next couple of months where I will make an effort to post more often (!) and share with you my new handmade items of clothing.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Pencil Skirt/Tunic Dress Tutorial

So this is my first ever sewing tutorial, and as you may already know, I'm still quite a novice so you may have to cut me some slack! I made this dress using one I already own and love. I love the fact it uses two different fabrics, one plain colour jersey, and a cotton print. Although I have no idea what to call it. Is it a shift dress, a pencil skirt dress, a tunic dress? Who knows.

I bought the mustard yellow jersey for an absolute steal (£2 a metre) due to it being bleached by the sun. I was thinking about what to do with it when I had a bit of a brainwave and thought of making this dress with two contrasting colours and fabrics.

Heres what you need:

And of course, a sewing machine, pins and some dressmaking shears.
So, after you've done what you always *ahem* do before starting a project, washed and pressed your fabric, it's time to cut out the pattern pieces.

For the pencil skirt half, use a skirt you already own as a template, you may want to add some extra length at the top, as the skirt will sit high on the waist although there is also a waistband. Use the jersey fabric, ensuring that the stretch is width ways. Fold the fabric to cut 2 pieces at the same time, and add a seam allowance (I used 1/2")

 For the top, as I based the pattern on an existing dress I used this as a template, but you could draft out your own. It's basically a rectangle shape with slightly sloping shoulders and slightly curved armholes. Using the cotton print fabric, add seam allowances all around and cut 2.

Cut out a round neckline, a deeper one for the front piece than the back. Each top piece should be 4 or 5" wider than your skirt including both seam allowances.
We'll work with the top part to begin with. Cut 2 1"strips of fabric on the bias from the same fabric to use as bias binding.

Pin one strip to the front piece, right sides together and sew around the neckline at the 1/2" marking on the sewing machine. Fold the strip over and press into place, then sew around the neckline once more close to the inside strip edge. Do the same on the back piece.

For the armholes I found as they were relatively straight I was able to fold them over to the inside by 1/2", press and then stitch down, close to the raw edge. Do this for each armhole on each top piece, 4 times.

Lastly place the two pieces together right sides together, and pin. Stitch the two together at the shoulder and side seams. Finish the seams by pinking, or serging. Set the top aside.

Pin the two skirt pieces, right sides together and stitch the side seams. Fold over the hem and stitch in place.

Draft out a waistband from the jersey, 2 pieces around 4" in length and the same width as the top of the skirt. Stitch them together at the side seams, making sure they will match up with the skirt seams. Press the seams open. Place the waistband around the outside of the skirt with right sides together, lining up the raw edges at the top, and stitch together with a 1/2" allowance. Trim some of the bulk and press upwards.

Now all that's left is to attach the two sections. Cut a piece of elastic that is the same length around as the waistband of the skirt and measure the half way point with a pin. Turn the top inside out and sew the elastic to the edge with a straight stitch at the 3/8" mark, stretching it to fit the width of the top. Use the halfway point pin to help ensure the elastic is evenly stretched. Now the top should be gathered at the bottom.

 Place the pencil skirt, the right way out, in through the bottom of the top, still inside out. So right sides will be together, and align the raw edges. Pin in place, and sew together by sewing on top of the elastic again, this time without stretching, with a zigzag stitch.

And there you have it, you should have a cute pencil skirt/tunic shift dress.... thing.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Lace Stud Earring Tutorial

I went to a family wedding last weekend, and had decided quite a while back that I was going to make my dress for the occasion. I'd finished it with a couple of weeks to go, so decided to make a little clutch bag too, and then some fabric covered earrings. I drew the line at shoes...
So the post on the full outfit for the pattern review will be next, but for now here is a very simple tutorial for making a cute pair of stud earrings to match any outfit. I used some black lace trim on my dress so decided to use this to make these earrings using the same lace, with a light backing fabric to show the lace pattern through.

Here's everything you need:

The buttons I used were Prym self cover 15mm buttons, which I think are a pretty perfect size, big enough to see the fabric properly but not too big that they look over the top. For the earring posts and backs, I only managed to find a very small set, but I would recommend getting the biggest possible to fit in the button if possible, to help the glue stick.

First, take the buttons and use a pair of pliers, or try with your fingers, to pinch and then lift out the shanks so they look like this:

Draw around a button using a fabric marker onto the plain backing fabric, and then draw a circle 1.5cm bigger all around the button. Cut out the circle and use it to cut another circle from the backing fabric and 2 from the lace fabric.
If you have a button tool you could use it, but otherwise just use your fingers to attach the backing fabric to the buttons by using your nails to push it between the metal teeth. Then do the same with the lace fabric over the top. Press the earring backs on firmly, you'll feel a pop when it's on properly.
All that's left to do is add the strong superglue or alternative to the button back and attach the earring post, holding in place until the glue sets hard.
And there you have it, a simple and quick way to make the perfect earrings to match any outfit!
The buttons I used and earring backs came to about £4.50 ($7.50), and I had enough for 2 pairs of earrings, so a very cost effective option too!

Emily Kate.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Exciting Announcement!...Part 2.

One of my New Year resolutions this year was to open a new Etsy shop for my cushion/pillow cover creations. And at last... with the help of a lovely friend to actually get some good quality photos... I've done it! There's only a few items in it at the moment, but I'm working on more as we speak, and I've so many more ideas.
My shop is named after my blog, so I can be found over at...

If you're looking at getting some new cushions for your sofa, or would even like a design of your house on one, pop over and have a look at my shop!

I'm going to leave you with a couple of my newest cushions.... a new London cushion, and one of a house I know :)

Emily Kate

Friday, 28 February 2014

Sewing Bee Book Tunic

I've finally got around to finishing the first pattern from the first Great British Sewing Bee today. Which is perhaps good timing actually as the new series started last week, and there's a new book released soon, already added to my birthday list.

So I have to say I found this pattern really quite a pain to begin with. I bought some silk fabric to use, but it was my first time working with silk and I bought a colour I'm not entirely sure I would wear. I'm not even sure I'd wear silk! The first stumbling block I found with the pattern was the zip. I bought a matching colour rather than a contrasting, but when it came to doing a 'revealed' zip, I couldn't quite work out how to do it.  The book gives helpful instructions on how to a lot of things earlier in the book, but this isn't one of them which was quite frustrating! I tried googling it to no avail, so eventually decided to do a normal zip.

The other MAJOR issue I had was with the all in one facing. After I had sewn the neckline, I just couldn't work out how to do the armholes without ending up with the facing/top all twisted, or impossible to turn inside out. I spent ages looking it up everywhere, in my sewing books, online but I still couldn't work out how it was supposed to work. So if you've managed to work out this technique for enclosing all seams on the inside of the facing, please let me know!

After all that, I decided to just start again. I bought a lovely liberty tana lawn from my local fabric shop, and started again, this time using the easier facing method used in another pattern in the book. This time it was much smoother, and I had the tunic finished in a few hours. I used the mid length, long top line on the pattern.

I loved working with the liberty fabric, it was such an easy soft fabric to work with and a gorgeous print. I only needed a metre of fabric, so with the zip it came to £16.25, which is not bad at all really compared to what you might pay for a similar top in a high street shop. This is also really the first item of clothing that I'm really happy with the finish on the inside too, feeling pretty chuffed with myself :)

Emily Kate.


Sunday, 23 February 2014

Lace Collar Jersey Shift Dress

Not another lace themed post?! I hear you scream. Well sort of. I was doing a spot of window shopping soon after New Year when I saw a dress I really liked, a simple 3/4 sleeve jersey dress with a lace crochet collar. I was debating with my inner, stingyier self whether I could afford it, or really needed it, when I thought I could make this. What's more I even had the perfect light jersey knit in my fabric stash.
Now I thought about doing Couple of things I would suggest though, think about the stretch of your fabric when marking the pattern pieces. I used a polyester knit with not much stretch to make a dress, but a very stretchy top to mark out the pattern pieces, resulting in a slightly-tighter-than-intended dress. Especially for Christmas!
shift dress
my own tutorial for this but I just basically used the same one I've used to make other knit shift dresses, from the lovely Merrick at
I also made sure to measure my neckline properly and baste it to test that it would fit over my head, as I've had problems with that before too! I did quite a high neckline so that the collar would look best, and just sewed it on by hand, after I had finished the dress.
The collar I bought from eBay for just a few £'s, from china, I have to say I did feel a little guilty about that, as when I started making my own clothes I was happy to not be supporting the cheap labour clothes trade. Although as you only need 1 metre of fabric which was just £6, this meant the cost for the whole dress was less than £10. Bargain.

I've made several dresses/tops with Peter pan type collars since I started sewing, and this is first one to get a resounding nod and no criticism from my man, so needless to say I'm pretty happy with it!
I love making comfy knit fabric dresses at the moment, they're just perfect for a smart casual work outfit, and for this country where it's only hot enough to be in light summer clothes for one week a year if we're lucky.

Emily Kate
casual knit shift dress

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Lace Decorated Valentines Biscuits

Well, I did tell you I was slightly obsessed with lace at the moment, I just love the intricate patterns. I saw some biscuits with a sort of lace pattern online somewhere ages ago and thought Valentines day would be a perfect time to make some.

Its actually a lot easier than it looks, its just a case of building up a pattern line by line. I used the same simple biscuit recipe I use for my Christmas biscuits.
To ice the biscuits, I used Whitworth royal icing sugar with water to make the icing. I realised if the icing is warm its easier to pour onto the biscuits and spread evenly. Wait until the base icing is completely set and hardened before icing on the lace design.

For the icing on the top, make sure its quite thick, so it won't spread out of the pattern when piped onto the biscuits. I used the disposable plastic icing bags you can buy from most big supermarkets, then you know there's no chance of icing escaping through any unknown holes, and you can choose how thick you want the line to be by cutting the end off.
The best way to do the design is to build it up line by line, I liked the idea I've seen elsewhere of making it look like the pattern is half on the biscuit, half off.

So there we go, wrapped in cellophane and with a ribbon they'd be lovely as a valentine's day gift. I also think they'd make beautiful homemade favours at a wedding... although I'm not sure I'd recommend it for a big one, not exactly quick and easy.

Emily Kate