Funky new scissors, meet my old dressmaking shears

Aren't these scissors just gorgeous?!

colorful scissors

Maybe it's only crafters and sewers who get excited about such things, but I saw these scissors in a local supermarket and just grinned insanely. They were a bargain price and I couldn't chose between the two, so I bought both, well you can never have enough!

Despite the price and glitzy design they are actually OK at cutting fabric, no doubt they won't last too long and I'll relegate them to paper-cutting....the fate of all unloved dressmaking scissors. In the meantime have another look and drool......

2 pairs of scissors

But these old badboys are still my favourites. 8 inch stainless steel dressmaking shears. Oh yes, these are not mere scissors, they are shears!

dressmaking shears

I got these second hand about 20 years ago so I think they are at least 30 years old. My lovely dad sharpens them for me, and they can cut through layer's of thick fabric with ease. Leather? Denim?...pah, they laugh in your face!

I also have an assortment of other sharp implements; a couple of pairs of small snipping scissors,  a pair of one-handed thread clippers and a seam ripper (which I've always called a 'quick-unpick' for some reason). Lets just say the seam ripper sees far more action than I'd like....

On my wishlist? Well it's got to be the lovely rotary cutter and mat, I really want one of these but
(1) I'm confused by which one to get, and
(2) They are expensive.
If you have any recommendations for a rotary cutter (or one's to avoid), I'd be very grateful for the advice.
And I'd also like a pair of pinking shears, to me they are the glamorous sister of the humble scissors.

So what type of scissors do you have, and which do you lust over?

Jersey Mini Skirt - My First Clothing Project and Tutorial

 I've overcome my fear of dressmaking, the demons are banished!

Since I started sewing at the beginning of the year I've stuck to craft pressure there, if they look wonky and misshapen then it all adds to the charm.
But wonky and misshapen isn't really the look I'm aiming for when I get dressed...... Enter the easy jersey skirt!

mini skirt

Those of you who just want to look at my legs and/or tiling may want to leave now....for the rest, here's what I did....

Strawberry pin cushion from fabric scraps

I'd rather have a strawberry tart, but failing that, how about a strawberry pin cushion or two?

strawberry pin cushion

This is a very easy project using just fabric scraps. Sewing has made me look at unloved clothes with a new eye, can I do something with that fabric? The red material is from a blouse destined for the charity shop and the green is left over from the grocery bag project.

The strawberries are basically a circle of material cut in half hence a pair (I drew round a side plate), sewn down the straight edge to make an ice-cream cone shape.
Stuff the strawberries with poly wadding, and gather the top edge with a long running stitch. The green leaves on top hide all the gathering.

I originally planned to make a mouse or hedgehog pin cushion, but couldn't bring myself to stick pins in a cute little critter, even a fabric one! Cruelty to fabric strawberries rests much easier on my mind...

Do they count as one of my five-a-day?

Which came first - the fabric or the project?

Which way round do you work? Do you find inspiration from fabric, or do you love a pattern and then hunt down that special material to go with it?

I tend to find a pattern or see a project, decide I want to make it and then buy the fabric. But occasionally I work the other way round especially with donated fabric, they just spark an idea.

Here are some of my recent stashes, and the reasoning behind them.

pieces of fabric

The dark denim was given to me by my mum, and I still haven't got a project for this, any ideas?
The 3 pieces on the right were given to me by a friend and inspired the grocery bags project, as the fabric was very strong and luckily the 3 colours matched perfectly.


Now these 2 fabrics are very heavy oil-cloth/vinyl type pieces, I bought them as remnants for 50p each as they were so cheap, but no idea what to do with them :-) !

curtain fabric

This fabric is actually a pair of curtains from a sale at Argos, and I've got a few ideas in mind for this.

red heart fabric

The red cotton was bought with a specific project in mind, and I'll be showing you this one in a post soon!

fabric pieces

All this fabric was donated to me by my lovely mum, I think I'll make a jacket out of the wool suiting fabric on the left, although some wide legged trousers would be nice too. The 2 gingham fabrics are both stretch cotton so ideal for clothing but I don't have any ideas for these yet. Any thoughts?

That's some of my recent stash, there is more but I'll save those for another post. 

So which way round do you prefer to work, fabric then project, or project then fabric?

Mum's vintage Singer sewing machine is 61 years old!

Singer sewing machines are celebrating their 160th birthday this year, with an invite to trace the history of your Singer sewing machine.

My mum inherited my grandmothers sewing machine and it's still going strong. So I thought I'd trace it's history.

vintage treadle singer sewing machine

It's a treadle machine, which means it's powered by working a footplate rather than electricity. There's definitely a knack to this, I've only ever managed to sew backwards on it........ooops. As well as being environmentally friendly it also gives a good leg work-out, mum's got some shapely calves!

After typing the serial number into Singer's database I was told the machine was made in 1950 and some further digging indicated it had been made at the Clydebank factory in Scotland. These antique machines are built to last, it's had the occasional service and belt change...and still works like a dream after 60 years. It can plough through layers of heavy material and it all folds away into a lovely wooden cabinet.

Mum remembers my grandmother making her school clothes on the machine back in the 1950's, and mum recently made her grandaughter a skirt with it, isn't it amazing that the sewing machine has connected our family across the generations?!

The plastic bag is dead, long live the home-made grocery bag!

Not sure how the rest of the world views plastic carrier bags, but in the UK they're definitely an endangered species.

 I've carried a motley assortment of bag-for-life type carriers for many years but they are still plastic and well...not the most stylish accessory. Although I do get a peverse pleasure out of using the 'wrong' carrier in a supermarket...Asda bag in Tesco's, Tesco's bag in Waitrose (when I've been paid), Sainsbury's bag in Aldi (when I'm broke...) That's just the rebel in me......

But enter the home-made and decidedly more chic grocery bag (shopping bag, it what you will).

My bag started life from as a collection of fabric donated to me by a lovely friend at work. I used the 3 pieces in the bottom right corner for this project.

pieces of fabric

I played around with numbers and sketches, deciding on a 3 tone bag dictated by which pieces of fabric were bigger, The fabric was a heavyweight cotton so I didn't need to line the bag.

And here's the finished bag

I squared the bottom of the bag to make it more stable when packing, and reinforced where the handles join the bag with a box and cross stitching arrangement. The fabric was pre-washed to avoid shrinkage as I want to be able to wash my grocery bags in the future.

I loved my bag so much I made a couple more.

homemade grocery bags

Oooh get me with my matching shopping bags! Soooo much more stylish when one is perusing the aisles of the Marks and Spencers Food Hall, and equally at home buying spuds from t'market!

Arts Festival

This weekend I visited the Chapel Alleton Arts Festival held in North Leeds. The annual festival is held to celebrate local art, craft, poetry, dancing and music. The street outside the pub is closed to traffic and instead hosts stalls, a music stage and people enjoying the vibe. The festival is a real feel-good community event.

Here's a flavour of the weekend



Bootscraper, they describe themselves as a bluegrass punk band. They're not the kind of music I usually listen to, but they really got the crowd going and it's good to expand your horizons!

chapel allerton arts festival

Crowds filling the main street

bugalu foundation

The Bugalu Foundation, a latin jazz funk band, fab. I loved their soundcheck too, not the usual "one, two, testing, testing" ...they used "Get down with the trumpets" !

singer on stage

Sing it loud!

regent pub

Street decoration outside the pub, I've never seen this style of bunting before, apparently it's called Mexican Papel Picado and is made in a cutaway style. A workshop was held before the festival for people to get involved. Ripstop nylon was used here to make the bunting rainproof (altho this year the weather was kind.)

All in all a good time was had by all, and roll on next year's festival!

Sock monkeys inspire me.

As a teenager I made most of my own clothes, from tops to trousers, skirts to jackets, even hats! Yes, ready to wear was more expensive back then, but mainly because I loathed the idea of arriving somewhere wearing the same outfit as someone else, oooh the shame! I wanted my clothes to be individual and the only way to ensure that is to buy couture $$$.........or make it yourself :-).

And then, as so often happens, university, work, family all encroached on my hobby time and sewing became a long forgotten art to me. I occasionally dragged out the machine to patch, alter, make-do and mend but that's not inspiring, it's a chore urgh!

Earlier this year my creative side awoke from its dormant state and my love of sewing was renewed. I'm ashamed to say I seem to have forgotten quite a few of my skills and I'm very rusty, but I'm back in the saddle and here are my first couple of projects. Not exactly clothes, but it's a start.

My first creation started life as a pair of socks

And became a Sock Monkey (many thanks to all the help I received from the MSE crew!).

My niece was very happy to give her a home.
Another quickly followed, complete with accessories, My daughter claimed this one.

sock monkey tutu

So much more enjoyable creating a cute little critter than mending a torn seam. Don'tcha just love sock monkeys? or Socken Monken as they have become known in my house.....

Happy Blogday, welcome to my newborn blog!

Well after much wailing and gnashing of teeth my blog is finally born. Not content to just struggle with the technical aspects of blogging, I decided to struggle with the name of my blog too. Is it just me but isn't that the hardest part?

In the end I decided on Wag Doll, as I'm homely rag-doll kinda gal with a love of all things bling, a la Wag style.

I'm hoping to cover all my dressmaking and sewing adventures, along with random waffle about fashion, clothes, home-style, photography, make-up and whatever else evolves. Let see how it goes eh?!
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