Free motion embroidered mistletoe wreath

It's the weekend, and it's already getting far too close to Christmas for my liking.  I have however finally made a start on my Christmas shopping - three presents bought this morning! 

First of all, thank you to everyone who read and replied to my last post.  Although I feel sad for anyone else suffering from depression and anxiety it is good to be reminded that I'm not alone.  I'm pleased to report that having been on medication for a few weeks I am feeling better than I was and I start a CBT course this week which I've been told is very good. 

On to some creative stuff - which we know makes us feel good!   I've had the pleasure of making another project for Fabric HQ for their 12 Makes of Christmas, and this time it's a free motion embroidered mistletoe wreath.  Pop over to the Fabric HQ blog and see how you can make your own. 

Has anyone else started any Christmas sewing or crafting?  Are you planning to?  I'm still debating whether to make my Christmas cards or not, but I suppose if I am going to I really need to get a move on!

When All Is Quiet...

... or Creativity is Good For You!

I've been debating whether to write this post or not... and even now I've written it I'm not sure about it.  I don't want it to come across as all "woe is me" and I'm not the most eloquent of writers, but it's a subject that really interests me, although I'm sure other people have written far more insightfully on it. 

What really prompted me to go ahead and write was one of the daily themes from Bimble + Pimble's #BPsewvember over on Instagram.  I'm taking part (although I've missed a couple of days) and thoroughly enjoying seeing how other people interpret the themes and connecting with new to me Instagrammers and bloggers. 

The theme that prompted my ramblings today was the one entitled "Why Sew?"

I sew for a number of reasons; because I love wearing clothes that no one else has (I've mentioned here several times that I wanted to study fashion design when I left school, but wasn't able to); because I love the creative and intellectual challenges sewing presents and because it helps enormously when things get too much and my head feels like it's about to explode.

Picture credit: @marnie_makes on Instagram
Picture credit: @marnie_makes on Instagram

For the past few months I've been posting here less regularly than usual because although I've still been sewing, I'd been finding it increasingly difficult sometimes to summon up the energy to photograph and write about what I'd been making.  I've felt tired all the time and often can't be bothered to get myself dressed up and find a decent spot for photographs.  It turns out that this isn't just down to me being lazy, but actually due to (thankfully, fairly mild) depression and anxiety. 

I've had depression before, some years ago, and at that time I wasn't sewing or doing any creative hobbies really.  My main source of enjoyment then was reading, but I found it so hard to concentrate on even the simplest book when I was feeling low.  My mind would race all over the place and I wouldn't even take in half of what I was reading.  This time around however, I've found that sewing has helped me stay calm when anxiety and confused thoughts threaten to overwhelm me.   

And there are lots of other people taking part in Bimble + Pimble's Instagram challenge that seem to feel the same way.  People with varying degrees of mental health issues posted variations on my feelings that being creative helps them to stay positive and feel better.  There's something about sewing that means you have to concentrate in a completely different way, focussing purely on what you're doing at the time - or that's the way it works for me anyway.

Sewing also reminds me that I am good at something when my brain is telling me I'm rubbish at everything.   I just wish my sewing machine was quieter so that I could sew when I'm awake at 4am without disturbing my husband!

So what's the purpose of this post?  I suppose it's twofold really; firstly to let you know that even if I'm not here posting I am sewing and I will catch up eventually; and secondly to say that if you're feeling low and as if you're rubbish at everything, you're not (rubbish at everything).  Get a project out and sew, or knit, or whatever takes your fancy - even if it's something really simple - I'm sure it will help. 

By the way, I'm still posting progress shots and completed project photos along with various other rubbish on Instagram, so if you don't already follow me there, come over and see what I'm up to. 

The Vintage Cape of Awesomeness

I'll start off by saying this is a picture heavy post because I'm rather pleased with this project.

Excuse the stupid claw-like hand - no idea what that's about!

The project started with the fabric, some gorgeous wool blend coating fabric from Fabric HQ.   They also have the same fabric in a navy check.  You might know that I teach a few different sewing classes at Fabric HQ so I'm often there, admiring their new arrivals.  This one arrived the other week and Rae asked me if I'd like to make something from it for them to display in the shop.  Of course I said yes, and then set about hunting for a suitable pattern. 

I wanted something quite simple so that I didn't have to do too much pattern matching.  None of the coat or jacket patterns in my stash were quite right, and then I came across this vintage cape pattern. 

I bought it a couple of summers ago at - would you believe - a funny little shop at the Bletchley Park code breakers museum.  They had a small selection of vintage patterns in amongst other antique "junk" and I think it cost me £1.00. 

I wasn't keen on the collar though, so I decided to mash it up with the collar from the Burdastyle Kim coat. 


This meant extending the fronts a little, which I did by tracing the front sections for the cape then laying them over the front sections for the coat and tracing the neckline curve and additional section I needed.  This kept the shoulder seam correct for the cape and gave me a neckline that matched the collar.   I'm really glad I did this, because the collar feels very cosy and luxurious.

I think I spent a whole evening matching the checks and cutting this out, but once I'd done the cutting out things went together pretty quickly.  The cape has princess seams on the front and back, and a long seam over each shoulder and down the side.  The front princess seams are supposed to contain the arm slits, but I moved mine to the side seams.  I tried them in the front seams on my muslin but could barely move my arms.  I knew if the cape was going to be worn at all they'd have to be moved.

I did four bound buttonholes, centring them in the middle of one of the squares created by the checks.  This was a great help in getting them level and the fabric behaved itself beautifully.  I think I must have used a different tutorial to the last time I did bound buttonholes because I found them much easier than previously.

The time I spent matching the checks at the cutting out stage paid off, because look at the pattern matching on the back of the collar!  I'm definitely proud of that.  This was the first time I'd really done any major pattern matching and while it takes time, it's definitely worth putting the effort in at the preparation stage.

I lined the cape with some paisley jacquard lining from a local fabric shop, and flat piped the seam between the facings and the lining with some bias binding.  This could have been slightly neater - it's not all exactly the same width - but I'm pleased with the effect nonetheless.  

I bagged the lining, using the armhole slit on one side to turn the cape the right way out once the two pieces had been joined together.   I then hand sewed the lining to the fashion fabric around the arm slits.

I think the only thing I'd change about this is that I wish I'd added pockets into the front princess seams, but I'm not going to start taking it apart and adding them.

Thank you very much to Rae and Jacqui at Fabric HQ for providing the fabric for this project.  It's currently on display in their shop, but I can't wait for the opportunity to wear it.  The fabric was wonderful to work with and is cosy but not heavy.