Want a fun sewing book with a difference? CHLOE TELLS YOU HOW TO SEW

I have been reviewing practical books for over 25 years and used to review for the magazine Inspirations back in the day. I think it is a pity that books are now sold in the same way as other items, such as clothes and groceries, with a short shelf life. With the Great British Sewing Bee being very much on our minds I think this book deserves a second look, it is fun, practical and original.

Textile artist Chloe Owens http://chloeowens.com/is inspired by all things vintage, and much of her work is made from 1960’s fabrics. She is also a lover of annuals, that she read as a child. Their brightly coloured illustrations, and instructions mixed in with activities, puzzles and games has been a major influence in the design of this book.

Make a headdress – great for a summer festival

Instead of a run of the mill craft book, Chloe has ingeniously made an annual complete with games: follow the thread, strings and needles, lotto.

Cat basket with a difference

 Included are translations of rhyming slang, for example: Bangers- “bangers and mash” (sausages and mashed potato)=cash. As with the best of annuals it has many illustrators, so that each project is almost like a mini book in its own right. Each project starts with a witty heading or a pun, so a reclaimed chair is called ‘The best seat in the house’.

‘She’s a pin board wizard’ pin board is taken from the song of the same name from The Who’s ‘Tommy’ album. Many of the projects are written as if a friend or animal has made them and so they take the comic book form in both layout and story line. The result of all this is a very busy looking, book of fun.

How to re-upholster a sewing box to make a cat bed

I like the way Chloe writes, her instructions are clear and she encourages you to have a go! This is a hip book, full of diverse projects, and lovely photographs by the late Claire Richardson. Projects range from felt biscuits to soft toy animals, a very cute baby dress and some furniture projects and home accessories. Amongst my favourite projects is “A must have for the modern man”, the deluxe felt beard, now with optional moustache. I am not sure if I will be sporting it just yet but when the chilly autumn winds blow you never know.

Make your own winter warmer -a beard

by Chloe Owens  http://chloeowens.com/Published by Cico Books http://www.rylandpeters.com/ourshop/craft at £14.99

Mid Century Cushions

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Make stylish cushions from original 1960’s fabric

You can still purchase pieces of sixties fabric on eBay and very occasionally find them in vintage shops and markets. These cushions were made from one piece of fabric that had four asymmetric circles on it. I decided to cut the fabric into four to make four cushion fronts and make the back of the cushions from plain linen.

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You will need

60’s Fabric for the cushion front

Plain cotton or linen for the cushion back you will need two thirds more than for the front.

Scissors

Tape measure

Needle
Thread

Dressmakers pins

Cushion pad

Interfacing (optional)

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Instructions

  1. Cut your fabric into squares so they are the same dimension as the cushion pad 
plus 2cm seam allowance. If the fabric is flimsy or damaged, back it with 
interfacing.
  2. From the fabric for the cushion back, measure and cut out two pieces, each the 
same width as the fabric front but 2/3rds the length.
  3. Neaten along one width seam of each cushion back by turning under by 5mm 
and under again by the same amount. Sew with a running stitch.
  4. With right sides facing, and overlapping the neatened edges of the cushion 
backs at the centre back, pin the cushion front to the cushion back round the 
edge of the square.
  5. With a running stitch, sew the front to the back of the cushion. Turn the cushion 
through the gap and insert the cushion pad.

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Turn your old blankets into Christmas Stockings

Make these lovely recycled Christmas stockings from an old blanket or jumper and decorate with easy blanket stitch and pom poms

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You will need

  • Old blanket or jumper
  • Scissors
  • Paper and pencil
  • Pins
  • Pinking shears
  • Tapestry needle
  • Caron Simply Soft yarn in Neon Orange, Neon Green, Neon Pink and Burgundy, £4.95 each
  • Cardboard
  1. Draw a boot shape onto paper and cut out. Fold your blanket or jumper in half, then pin on the paper pattern cut out using pinking shears.
  1. Sew the two boot shapes together around the edges, wrong sides together, using blanket stitch – and remember to leave the top unstitched. There are lots of YouTube videos that teach blanket stitch – don’t worry, it’s easy! Sew running stitch around the top of the boot on both sides.
  1. Make a plait from wool and fold it in half to make a hanging loop. Sew onto the top of the boot on the side with the heel. Make the pom poms (use two doughnut shapes of cardboard to do this, exactly like you remember as a kid!) and attach to the stocking with yarn as a final flourish.

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Create your own pillow cases using liberty fabric

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Liberty lawn is soft beautiful fabric, perfect for a place to lay your head. I have chosen very pretty liberty prints from Sew Box an on line fabric supplier. I bought white and light coloured cotton lace from http://www.craftysewer.com I dyed the lace using http://www.dylon.co.uk hand dyes. However if you don’t want to do this, http://www.craftyribbons.com

have Etienne a French cotton deep coloured cotton lace.

You will need

Liberty lawn from http://www.sewbox.co.uk/

I used

LTL03634042A  Danjo

LTL03632019J Betsy Pink

LTL03633037A Margaret Annie

A pillow -case from which to copy the measurements

Lace

Sewing thread

Tape measure

Dress making pins

Instructions

  1. Measure the pillow-case add 1cm seam allowance to each side.
  2. Measure the depth of the flap and add seam allowance to each side.
  3. Cut a front and a back in one fabric and cut a flap in a contrast fabric.
  4. Neaten one long side of the flap by turning under 0.5cm and the same again, sew with a running stitch.
  5. Sew one piece of trim along the neatened edge of the flap. With right sides together, sew the flap onto one narrow side of the back piece of fabric. Press the seam flat.
  6. Turn under and under again one narrow side of the, pillowcase, front fabric. Press, pin and sew on a piece of lace.
  7. With right sides facing, pin the pillow case front to the pillowcase back so that the front opening reaches up to where the flap is. Sew with a running stitch.
  8. Fold the flap over, where you have just sewn so that the front of the flap faces the wrong side of the pillow front. Pin the sides of the flap to the sides of the pillow and sew with a running stitch. Turn through so that the fabric is the correct way round.

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