Category Archives: Tutorial

Straw hat to bonnet

A fairly simple one this…  I once went on holiday and bought a straw hat…

Helen in a summer hat

It was ok, but it kept flying off into the wind.  And after that holiday, to be honest, I never wore it again.  Such is the fate of £3 impulse buys from market stalls on sunny days.

But as it happens, I’m now (co-)directing Pirates of Penzance.  And from having been a chorus member in Pirates before, I can testify as to how a simple bonnet can make you feel all Victorian. And a friend (thanks Lauren) suggested adapting straw hats.

So I bent the brim at the back of the hat and sewed it in place, cutting off the excess straw to give room for my head. At the advice of Sophie (thanks Sophs) I sewed ribbon around the brim and left two ends at the bottom to tie it with. And I ended up with this:

Bonnet with green ribbon

And as you can see, it makes one look, er, quite adorable 🙂 Now, does anyone know where I can get at least six more for cheap?

How beautiful!

Helen wearing home-adapted bonnet.


Too, too much fun.

Helen in purple skirt.

It’s Helen again, with another skirt!  So I made some little tutu skirts for work (no pictures, sorry!) and decided they were awesome, and surprisingly quick to make.  You just need netting (one rectangular piece about twice your waist measurement wide, and as long as you like, or two rectangular pieces about your waist measurement wide and as long as you like) and elastic about 5-10mm thick (about your waist measurement).  Sew the short sides of the rectangle(s) together and then fold over the top about 20mm (2cm) and sew about 15mm in so that you make a tube all around the top.  Then cut a small hole where the back will be, and thread the elastic all the way round, gathering as you go, until both ends are sticking out the hole.  You can then tie these so they are nice and snug (you can sew the ends of the elastic too, but make sure you try it on first, because you don’t want it to be too loose).

Netting doesn’t need hemming as it doesn’t fray, but I’d recommend using zig-zag stitch while sewing it as I found my thread kept breaking when I sewed straight!

If you want a skirt that is a bit less revealing (I’d obviouslyrecommend wearing a netting skirt over trousers, leggings or very opaque tights), you can use opaque material underneath.

I decided that I wanted a tutu-style skirt, and because I wanted to just wear it over tights, I made it about 50cm long, and used purple satin-like material to line it. I sewed zigzag stitch on the edges of the satiny material to stop it fraying but I didn’t bother hemming it, I thought it looked all right without! Now I want to make some fairy wings, and go about either granting wishes or causing mischief. Preferably the latter.

Pointless tutorial. Hooded sock gloves.

Guten Tag! Es ist Helen!

Did you know that the German for glove is Handschuh, literally Hand-shoe?

Did you care?

So I couldn’t find my gloves and decided that I wanted to make a funky new pair from stripy socks.

A pair of socks

Aren’t they lovely? And only 99p. Thank goodness for that.

Sock on hand

Put the sock onto your hand, so the elasticated bit is around your wrist. Use the stripes to measure where the fingers will start. In this case, after the second black stripe up.

Ends of sock

So this is the bottom bit of your glove. You can put it on your hand…

End of sock on hand

…But it won’t do you much good as yet. Or later, either, but you might as well continue…

Sew the cut edges of the sock with zigzag stitch on the sewing machine…

Sock-ends on sewing machine.

Except really don’t. It’ll stretch the fabric and won’t be at all attractive, see?

Sock with bad hemming, and hole for thumb.

And of course, cut the hole for the thumb. You can finish this on a sewing machine too, it doesn’t matter ’cause you’ve already ruined it.

Then cut the toe off to serve as a hood, hem it (don’t use the machine, or like me, you’ll end up having to sew a dart in it) and sew it to the back of the glove, like so…

Sock glove with hood.

This means you can have your fingers free, but put it up when cold, like this:

Hood up on the sock glove!

It’s a bit like a convertible, but without the sex appeal. Make sure you have the seam on the toe near your fingernails, not your fingertips, as it’s quite annoying if you get it the wrong way round, especially if you only do this on one glove. Trust me, I should know.

Now finally sew up the finger holes, so that the top open bit of the glove sits snugly (“like a glove”) on your fingers rather than flapping around unattractively. Don’t do this while wearing the glove. I did, but I don’t want to be sued because you unintentionally stabbed yourself. Or intentionally.

Now they may be called "gloves"

Finally, put the hood up.

I sense an obvious flaw here...

And you know, so long as you don’t mind cold thumbs, there you have an attractive pair of hooded sock gloves.

I, luckily, found my old pair of gloves and have been wearing them instead.

Tutorial: Rag Rug Place Mats

Hi, Sophia here. I thought that for my first post I’d like to do a quick tutorial. It’s a very simple idea and great for using up those awkward bits of fabric that are too big to throw away but too wonky to be useful. It is also very cheap to make and reasonably speedy. I give you the rag rug place mat.

A black and multi-coloured striped ragrug placemat.

My first attempt at a rag rug place mat.

You will need:

  • Fabric scraps (I used one leg of an old pair of linen trousers for the base colour and a handful of left over scraps for the stripes).
  • Fine cord for the warp. I used linen twine but you just need something that is reasonably strong and not too thin.
  • A piece of cardboard slightly bigger than the size you want the placemat to be.
  • Scissors – one pair for fabric, one normal pair.
Piece of cardboard with slits cut into opposite edges=low cost loom

Piece of cardboard with slits cut into opposite edges=low cost loom

First, you need to cut your fabric into strips about 1.5cm wide. Snip into the fabric along the grain of the fabric and rip it until one centimetre to the edge. Then, a few centimetresalong, make another slit 1.5cm in the other direction and repeat (the fabric will end up in a sort of zig zag).

Then, you need to prepare your loom. Cut short slits in the cardboard every 2.5cm along two opposite ends. If you really want you can cut out every other strip so that it looks like the crenellations on a castle, but it isn’t necessary. You then wind your warp threads around the ‘finger’ on the end, bring the thread down through the slit, across the cardboard to the opposite edge, around the finger and back up to the original edge and so on and so on.


Cardboard shuttle in use.

Use an excess piece of cardboard to make yourself a rudimentary shuttle. You basically want to cut a giant needle out of stiff cardboard. It’ll be a couple of centimetres wide at its widest point and you’ll need a hole big enough to put your strip of fabric through. Thread a length of fabric onto your shuttle and start weaving over and under the warp threads. When you reach the end of one strip of fabric tie on the next using a figure-of-eight knot.

As you go, use your fingers to push the weft threads down so that they bunch up a little.Keep weaving until the loom is full. Then tie off the warp and weft threads securely. Finally, slip the whole thing off the loom, give the thing a little shake to even out the threads, and admire.