Making a Sharpie teapot is something I’ve wanted to try for ages!
Ever since I saw some beautiful cups somebody very talented had decorated with a blue Sharpie on a link up somewhere.
I opted for a teapot because I drink gallons of the stuff.
The only slight problem was that I can’t really draw! Making things is fine but drawing usually is not. However, I decided to keep it simple and just to see how it turned out.
We decorated the living room a while ago (it’s not quite finished!) and I made some new curtains. I chose the fabric because I loved the flowers, so I decided to do something similar with the teapot. My other source of inspiration was this lovely Orla Kiely decorated bus from The Year of The Bus. I love her designs and, without wanting to copy, I wanted to do something similar.
I drew a design on paper first. As you can see I kept it very simple!
Next I wanted to check how easy it would be to remove the Sharpie ink from the teapot. I used baby wipes as these things remove all sorts of stuff!
Thankfully the baby wipes removed Sharpie ink even after it had dried, so I was free to make plenty of mistakes!
Then all I had to do was draw the design onto the teapot! I started with the flowers, then I did the stems, then the leaves.
I did have to have several goes at it, but I’m pleased with the results!
The last thing to do was to put it in the oven on 200 degrees C for half an hour, then let it cool completely.
I like the black and white but I might colour them in. What do you think?
Here are some tips if you want to try this yourself!
If you have small children, wait until they are asleep. It is very difficult to draw on a teapot while a two year old is climbing all over the table.
Keep a supply of baby wipes to hand.
If you are right handed, start with the design at the top right hand corner and work left to right so you don’t smudge your design.
I found it easiest to draw on the teapot with it on my lap. However this will only work for the first side.
If we ever move house, the house will probably fall down because I suspect it is the books that are holding it up, and
We will not be moving to a boat because the weight of said books will cause the boat to sink.
Here is my shelf of craft books…
And here 5 of my are my favourites!
An Introduction to Crochet Golden Hands
Golden Hands was a series of craft magazines published in the 1970s. My mum had them and probably still does! They were jam packed with crochet, knitting and sewing patterns and craft ideas for doing with kids.
This book was produced by the same people so dates from the same era. The publishing date inside the front cover says 1975, so it’s a quite an old book!
The reason I love this book is because the first half comprises of not only an introduction to the basics, but a catalogue of pretty much all the stitches you could ever need, including Tunisian crochet and Irish crochet. It’s the first book I reach for if I need to know anything crochet related.
I probably won’t ever make anything from the patterns at the back. A skirt made from granny squares, any one? Or how about this fetching cardi for the menfolk in your life?
I do quite like this jumper though. Hmm.
I haven’t included an Amazon link for this one because the book appears to be out of print, but if you happen to see one in a second hand book shop or a charity shop, I would grab it!
Dressmaking The Complete Step By Step Guide
This is another very useful reference book. If there is something I don’t know how to do or I want to check, this is where I go first.
It includes detailed instructions for different kinds of seams, how to sew darts, collars and sleeves, buttons and button holes.
There is a guide to using patterns which also covers taking measurements and altering a pattern. This section also includes a couple of pages on making a toile and how to alter it if it does not fit.
In the second half of the book there are patterns for several skirts, dresses, trousers, tops and jackets and a section on how to customise clothes.
It is a very good guide for a beginner, although the size of the book might be off putting! However the information is all clearly organised and insuch a way that makes sense, and there are a lot of pictures, which is why the book is so huge! It’s also a useful reference guide if you have been sewing for a while.
The patterns section and the section that deals with collars, sleeves and waistbands are worth reading if you are considering making your own clothes from scratch without using a commercial pattern.
Donna Kooler’s 555 Cross Stitch Motifs
Cross stitch is a craft I used to enjoy that I don’t really do any more. I took it up when I was at university as my friend Kirsty liked cross stitch and always had a project on the go!
The book includes patterns for 4 samplers and countless other designs. They are arranged in themes: family, home, children and animals. There are also alphabets.
For each design there is a colour chart for DMC thread and, at the back of the book, a conversion chart if you prefer to use Anchor.
If you wanted to design your own sampler, this book makes it easy to do. Just pick the bits you like! This is in fact what I did, although having the attention span of a gnat, I actually started it about 5 years ago and it’s in my pile of unfinished projects!
Crocheting Easy Blankets, Throws and Wraps
There is no Amazon link for this book!
My husband bought me this one. This is also a nice book for beginners. At the start of the book there are instructions how to make the stitches with lots of pictures.
If you are British though, be warned! The stitches are under their American names. I was interested to discover that there was a half double crochet stitch, which I had previously never heard of, then realised it was actually a half treble! There is also a yarn guide and conversion charts.
The projects in the book are lovely and if a full sized blanket is too much, the patterns would be easy enough to adapt to make something smaller.
The variety of stitches, colours and yarns used mean that this book is great as a source of inspiration, even if you don’t want to follow each pattern to the letter.
Christmas Crafting in No Time
One of the reasons I like this book is because I won it! Making magazine have a Monday Makes competition and I won this book with a dress I made.
The crafts included are mostly sewing, paper crafts and baking. The projects are generally not ones I’ve seen replicated elsewhere, although there are some that take a slightly different approach to projects that are already out there. For example, instead of gingerbread houses, there are instructions for making gingerbread Russian domes.
The book is divided into decorations, cards and gift wrap, cooking for Christmas, gifts and table decorations.
My favourite projects include the felt owls, the curled paper star and the embroidered winter throw.
Some of the crafts would be pretty quick to make but some of the others, like the little mice, would probably take quite a lot longer than “no time”!
It’s still a lovely book though!
Here’s a bonus one!
Craft Bomb Your Bike by Shara Ballard
Pedal power is great when you live somewhere as flat as we do!
This book has 20 sewing, knitting and crochet projects for your bike and there is absolutely no day glo lycra in sight. Thank goodness.
Some of the projects are practical, like the bags and the tool roll. Others are just to pretty it up. There are a number of ideas for jazzing up the basket (bunting, hooray!), crocheted flowers to attach to the spokes, and crocheted covers for saddle and helmet.
I just love it all so much I don’t know where to start!
I have been sewing my own clothes since I was 10 years old and I can honestly say that it is a lot of fun! I love walking down the street in something I have made myself, knowing that I could walk past 1000 people and none of them would be wearing the same as me.
When I was a little girl my mum made all our clothes and her mother sewed for a living! So it was my mum who taught me how to sew and I’ve gradually honed my skills as the years have passed (there is still some honing to do! 😉 ).
For people who are beginner sewists it can be so difficult to know where to start that it can be overwhelming. So here are 10 ish questions that you might be considering if you are new to sewing, with answers!
Is it hard?
It’s not! Seriously, the number of people who look amazed when I tell them I made the thing I am wearing myself, it’s crazy! If you can drive a car you can definitely operate a sewing machine. I can’t drive and I can operate a sewing machine!
Having said that, keep it simple at least to start with and try stuff out with cheaper fabric first if you are worried.
If it does go wrong, don’t give up! This is where having an unpicker is handy. Even experienced sewists have to unpick their work sometimes.
What sort of fabric should I use?
The easiest fabric to work with holds its shape well and isn’t too slinky or too stretchy. Cotton and polycotton are good fabrics to use and come in all kinds of colours and prints. They also have the advantage that if you need to unpick a seam, the old seam wont leave marks on the fabric.
Does the brand of thread I use matter?
Lots of people will tell you that Gutermann threads are the best ones to use but they cost a little bit more. I have used cheaper threads from Lidl and Hobbycraft and although they usually do the job, I have had trouble with the thread breaking on occasion.
What kind of sewing machine should I buy?
It’s probably best to avoid the very cheap beginner sewing machines as they are often not great machines and what they can do is very limited.
Equally there is no point in forking out for a massively expensive machine that has a load of features that you probably won’t use.
A decent mid range machine is the way to go. I have a Silver e8000 which according to Husband (who bought it for me!) is the machine they use at colleges. Before that I had a 1970s Singer!
The functions I use the most are straight stitch in various lengths, zigzags, overlocking style edging, button holes and the stitch for knits. I haven’t really used any of the decorative sitiches, although I might if I had girls instead of boys!
What should I make first?
Stick with something simple to start with. A circle or A line skirt would be a good way in. You can find a tutorial for making a circle skirt here!
Which patterns should I use?
Patterns can be unbelievably confusing and being able to make sense of them can be a skill in itself! Although I haven’t used them myself, I have a friend who always says that the Colette patterns are very good and very clear.
The problem I often find with patterns that claim to be easy is that, in my experience, you usually end up with something shapeless!
It’s perfectly possible to make things without using a pattern. You can find plenty of tutorials here on my blog and there are lots elsewhere on the web too.
What skills are useful to know?
Knowing how to attach a waistband is useful and the same technique can be applied to using bias binding to finish armholes, necklines and hems . You can read about attaching a waistband and using bias binding to finish a hem in this circle skirt tutorial, and finishing armholes and a neckline in this dress tutorial.
Being able to sew in a zip is also handy. You can find a tutorial for doing that here.
Knowing how to and where to sew darts can be the difference between making something that fits well and something that just ends up taking up space in your wardrobe.
Why are my stitches are loopy?
Check the tension on your sewing machine. 4 is usally a good number for most fabrics. If it is on 4 and still the stitches are loopy, adjust the tension dial.
If the loops are at the bottom, increase it.
If the loops are at the top, decrease it.
If that does not work, take the bobbin out and give the bobbin area a clean with a dry paint brush, then rethread the machine.
Why does the thing I’ve made not fit?
If you are using a pattern, do not be fooled into thinking that the size guide on the back bears any relation at all to normal dress sizes.
Measure yourself with a tape measure and check your measurements against the sizes on the back of the packet.
Make sure that when you are sewing up, you follow the guidance about how much to allow for the seam allowance.
The surest way to end up with something that fits is to keep trying it on.
If you have already made it and it’s too big, try taking it in. Put the garment on inside out and pin the side seams. If there are darts, you might need to take those in too.
If it is too small, unfortunately that is harder to fix. You might be able to let the seams out and darts if there is enough fabric. If it is still to tight, you might have to consider upcycling it into something else.
The thing I made is shapeless. How do I fix it?
If it is shapeless, it is probably because it doesn’t fit very well. The way to fix this is to try it on inside out and pin the seams so that it is a closer fit. If the seams are fine but it is baggy in other places, try adding some darts. You can read about darts here in this post, A Guide to Pattern Pieces.
If none of that works, you might have to get inventive! A belt? Or maybe you’ll just have to cut your losses and turn it into something else.
You can read about how I turned a shapeless disaster of a dress into a wearable skirt here.
Here’s a bonus one!
Why does the thing I made not hang right?
In order for clothes to hang right, the grain needs to be straight on the up and down lines of the pieces. So is you are cutting out a sleeve, the line running from shoulder to wrist should run parallel with the selvedge (the woven edges on each side of the fabric). With a top or a bodice, the grain should run parallel with the centre line. Skirts are the same, the grain needs to run up and down the centre. If you are cutting out a skirt piece on the fold, the folded edge will usually be on the grain.
And here’s another bonus one!
I want to make my own stuff without using a pattern. Where do I start?
The first thing you will need to do is take your measurements and record them somewhere.
Starting with something simple is a good place to begin, like a circle skirt or a simple top.
Identify clothes in your wardrobe and on the internet that you like. Draw a sketch and try to come up with a plan for how you will make it. Keep it simple and if you are worried, try practising with some cheaper or old fabric first.
When I posted about my Cherry Blossom Dress, a couple of the people who were kind enough to leave me comments said that although they didn’t feel ready to try to make a whole dress, just making a circle skirt might be more achievable.
Circle skirts are fab. They are very easy and quick to make. You could whip one up in an evening no problem! They suit most body shapes and they are lovely and swirly to wear.
I made a circle skirt a couple of years ago and wrote it up but the instructions are not very clear, so here is a proper tutorial!
I recommend working out how much fabric you will need first as they use quite a lot. To make a knee length skirt in UK size 14 – 16, I used 3 m of cotton fabric that was 112 cm wide.
How to Make a Circle Skirt
You will need: a tape measure, pencil and paper, calculator, 2 – 4 m of fabric depending on your dimensions and how long you want the skirt to be, 5 – 6 m bias tape depending on how big your skirt is, a zip (10 – 20 cm is probably fine), a sewing machine and thread.
Calculating the Dimensions of Your Circle Skirt and How Much Fabric You Need
Take your waist measurement and add 10 cm. This is to allow for a 1 cm seam allowance plus a bit extra. Next, measure from your waist to just below your knee (or however long you want your skirt to be).
Now we need to do some maths. If maths is not your thing, don’t panic!
Remember pi from school? The actual number is 3.something. There will be a button on the calculator (there’s probably a calculator on your phone if you don’t have one).
Pi is the magic number that allows you to find the missing information about a circle.
If you know the circumference but not the diameter, divide the circumference by pi.
If you know the diameter but not the circumference, multiply the diameter by pi.
So the information you have is waist measurement and length.
The information you need is the radius of that circle in the middle, because adding that to your desired skirt length will tell you how big a square of fabric you will need.
Take your waist measurement plus the extra 10 cm and divide by pi. That gives you the diameter of the circle in the middle. To find the radius, divide that number in half.
So for my skirt, my waist plus an extra 10 cm is 104 cm and from waist to knee is 60cm.
104 divided by pi = 33
33 divided by 2 = 16
16 + 60 = 76
So I need 4 squares of fabric measuring at least 76 cm x 76 cm.
76 x 4 = 304. So I would need 3.04 m of fabric. I decided not to bother too much about the extra 4 cm and bought 3 m.
You can also use this method to work out how much bias binding you need. To work it out, you will need to multiply the total diameter by pi. So for me, the radius of my circle was 76 cm, so 76 x 2 = 152. 152 x pi = 475 cm. So I need 5 m of bias binding.
The maths is the hardest part, the rest of it is easy now!
Making the Skirt
1. Fold your fabric in 4. If you are using a directional print, you will need to cut where you have folded and decide where the top is on each piece of fabric.
2. From one of the top corners, measure down the side and mark off where your waist will be. This is the radius of the middle circle that you calculated earlier. So I measured down 16 cm. Do the same on the edge the other side of the corner.
3. Now measure down from that same corner to where the hem will be. The number you need is the radius of the whole circle. For me this is 76 cm. Repeat for the other side.
4. Measuring carefully from the corner with a tape measure, mark with pins your waist and your hemline all the way across your fabric. Cut out. You should now have 4 quarter circles with a quarter circle cut out of the top of each piece.
5. Take 2 of your quarter circles. Place right sides together and pin one of the straight sides. Sew, allowing 1 cm for the seam. This should make a semi circle. Repeat for the other 2 quarters.
6. Now take your 2 semi circles and, with the right sides together, pin one of the straight sides. Sew.
7. Put your skirt on and pin the remaining open side. Don’t worry about pinning it all the way down at the moment, just pin it at the waist. Don’t be tempted to make it too tight! Remember you want to be comfortable and being able to breathe is always a bonus. Mark with a pen or some chalk where you have pinned on both sides.
8. Take the skirt off and repin the open side. Sew. You might want to pink the seams at this point, but this is optional! Press the seams open.
9. Find the side where you want to put the zip. Pin it over the seam, making sure that the zip is closed and the slider is just above the top of the skirt. Tack it in place. Sew round the zip. Unpick the part of the seam that is covering the zip.Try the skirt on again to check that it fits!
10. To make the waistband, you will need a strip of fabric the same length as your waist measurement and 10 cm wide. You may need to join more than one strip together to make it long enough.
If your fabric is quite lightweight, you might want to add some fusible interfacing to make it a bit thicker.
Fold it half lengthways and press. Then fold the raw edges inwards and press again.
11. Find the middle of the waistband. On the wrong side of the skirt, pin the raw edge of the waistband to the raw edge of the top of the skirt. It’s best to do this starting in the middle, so align the halfway point of your waistband with the seam opposite the zip. Sew all the way round.
12. Fold the waistband over the top of the skirt and pin. When you get to the zip, fold it over the top of the zip, tucking the raw edges underneath. Top stitch all the way round, keeping close to the bottom edge of the waistband.
Sew the edge of the waistband parallel with the zip.
13.The last thing to do is the hem! As hemming a skirt with such a curve is tricky, I prefer to use bias binding because it is easier and it looks neater.
The easiest thing to do is to leave the bias binding on the roll and unroll it as you go.
Choose a place to start on your skirt. The side is a good place. Unroll a small amount of bias tape and pin one of the edges to the wrong side of the raw edge of the skirt. I didn’t bother pinning all of it, just the start. Tuck the end underneath and start to sew. Sew the bias tape right the way round the bottom of the skirt. When you get back to where you started, keep going for 1 – 2 cm. Cut the tape.
14. Fold the bias tape over the raw edge. Pin in place (although I skipped most the pinning here too!) and top stitch all the way round.Folding the end of the tape over when you started should result in a neat join.
Trim off all the threads and give it one last press.
Making your own clothes without a pattern can be a lot of fun. It always feels amazing to wear something that you have designed yourself and that fits as well as having chosen the fabric and made it up it yourself. This is something I have done a number of times and I have posted about my creations on here!
If you are considering having a go at making your own clothes without using a commercial pattern, it can be tricky knowing what the various pieces are supposed to look like.
Even if you use a pattern, often the shapes of the pieces do not look like how you would expect. Of course you can always find where it is written on the pattern piece, but it’s so much quicker to spot the bit you need and grab it! Also that only works if the piece it is is actually written on; if it is something you traced from a magazine or something a friend has lent you, they might not have written what each bit is.
As knowing what pattern pieces should look like is useful whether you use a commercial pattern or whether you make your own from scratch, here is a little guide!
A Guide to Pattern Pieces
Sleeves are tricky because they look nothing at all like how you would expect.
The top part needs to be curved because it needs to fit into the armhole, which is also curved.
If the sleeve is to be gathered at the top, it will be wider at the centre and the section to be gathered will be marked between two notches.
To get the length of your sleeve right, measure from your shoulder down to your wrist (or wherever you want the sleeve to end). Your sleeve piece should measure the same from the top of the curve down to the straight edge at the bottom, plus a couple of cm extra for the hem and seam allowance.
A tapered piece will give a more fitted sleeve; if it is less tapered the sleeve will be looser. Don’t forget to measure your wrist!
It can be difficult to get things symmetrical, so folding the piece in half and cutting on the fold can make things easier.
Don’t forget to check that the grain of the fabric is running up and down!
This does depend on the kind of skirt you are making, but usually the piece will look something like this. Especially if it is the skirt section of a dress.
The vertical line will usually be cut on the fold. The bottom and top edges will be need to be slightly curved, otherwise you end up with weird points hanging down at the sides. Can you tell I’ve done this?!
Usually there will be either two or four pieces this shape to make the skirt. The degree of the angle of the other side will determine how full the skirt is.
For a more fitted skirt, the line will be more vertical.
Skirts can be made fuller by gathering or pleats. Where these need to go will usually be indicated by notches. However if you have some bulges around the middle that you would rather not draw attention to, making the skirt as full as you can without gathering is the best way to go. The best example of this is the circle skirt. The pattern piece will look like this.
You would need four of these. However it is easy to make a circle skirt without making a paper pattern first.More on this in a week or two!
The shape of the bodice pieces vary according to whether you are making something for a child or an adult.
If you are making a dress for a little girl, the pieces will need to look something like this.
Again, symmetry can be an issue so it is usually best to cut it on the fold.
For an adult, the bodice pieces will usually look like this. Where the darts go may vary.
If you are new to sewing, don’t be scared of darts! They are what will give your dress or top some shape. The best thing to do is pin some old fabric to yourself and work out where the darts need to go.
The front will usually be one piece but occasionally it will be two. There are other ways of making bodices that use four pieces where each piece is shaped to allow for curves. The Sew La Di Da Sweetheart dress that I made last year was like this. It’s probably harder to do yourself though.
The back is usually a similar shape but the neckline comes up higher. Sometimes there will be darts at the bottom but often there will not be.
If you are making a dress or a top (or even if you buy one!) and it’s a bit shapeless, adding darts will often help.
Trousers are also a weird shape.
For loose fitting trousers, you might get away with cutting four bits the same. If you were making pyjamas or trackie style trousers for a child, you could even put the long vertical edge on the fold, then you would only need to cut two pieces.
The problem with cutting them like this is that they will either be baggy at the front or too tight in the seat. Not great if you have to bend over and then you discover that your beautiful handmade trousers have a huge rip in them!
Usually there will be more room at the back to accommodate bottoms and also nappies if you are making trousers for toddlers. These trousers that I made for Boy 4 (using a pattern) have more room in the seat, even though they are loose fitting.
As with sleeves, fitted trousers will taper towards the ankle whereas looser trousers will taper less.
Dresses are often made as a separate skirt and a bodice which are then joined together. It’s easy to mix and match different skirt styles with different bodices, especially once you’ve made a few dresses.
Sometimes you might want the dress back and maybe the front to be one continuous piece, especially if you are making a shift style dress. The easiest way to do this is to pin the bodice section to the fabric then draw the skirt on underneath. This is what I did when I made my cross over dress.
It will probably need darts in the waist area. On a commercial pattern the darts will probably be diamond shaped. However you could just try the dress on inside out and pin it where it needs shaping.
One last tip: the grain, which runs parallel with the selvedge, usually runs up and down. So shoulder to wrist on sleeves, neck to waist on bodices, waist to ankle on trousers.