Creating A Keepsake Cushion

I was very pleased to receive an unusual commission from a family friend recently. She asked me to upcycle her daughter’s old Beavers jumper into a keepsake cushion for her 9th birthday. For those of you outside the UK, Beavers is a mixed national youth organisation for 6-8 year olds (a precursor to Cubs and Scouts, if you will) where kids can get involved in a number of outdoor and creative activities, as well as helping in their community, earning badges and awards as they go. As someone whose old Brownie’s sash was hidden away in a cupboard at my Mum’s house for years on end, I love the idea of J having her achievements and happy memories on display!

Here’s the jumper before I got my crafty hands on it!

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As you can see J earned lots and lots of badges which she is understandably very proud of, so I really wanted to carefully consider their placement on the cushion in order to best show them off!

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I spent a long time in Dunelm-Mill considering which inner cushion would be best and finally settled on a 30cm x 50cm White Piped Cushion Pad for just £6.99. The plush filling seemed to be a really good quality and shouldn’t lose too much shape over time. Perfect!

I then snipped open all of the seams until I was left with a front and back piece, two arm pieces and collar/cuff pieces. I played around with them until I came up with this idea… (the grain of the fabric is portrayed by the arrows).

I liked the way the front design followed the diagonal lines of the arm pieces, and that I was able to incorporate the collar piece in a stylised way. Plus, by rotating the front and back pieces on the back design, I was able to use their hems and save myself a job! Plus, overlapping them by 2.5″ meant I didn’t need to worry about zips or buttons. Unfortunately using all the pieces this way meant I had to remove some badges and resew them on later, but never mind!

After sewing and overlocking all the seams, and hand sewing the badges in place, here it is in all its’ glory!

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Luckily I got to watch J as she opened this present from her Mum and Dad, and I can confidently say she loved it! This was such a fun commission, and a really great idea- one I’ll keep in the memory bank for my own kids one day.

‘Travelling’ back in time, vintage-inspired, upcycled summer dress!

Well it’s been a while since I last did a blogpost but Kids Clothes Week has given me a much needed kick up the sewing derrière! Yay!

This week’s theme is ‘travel’. A brilliant theme with a million possible interpretations. So I decided to interpret it with a dress with the longest title in the history of titles! Admittedly I begun sewing this particular dress a few weeks back and I cast it aside as I became distracted by the wonderful world of Annie Sloan Paint (but that’s another story!).

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A little while ago as I was scrolling endlessly through the treasure trove that is Pinterest, I stumbled across the most incredible 1920’s ‘how to’ sewing guides written by Ruth Wyeth Spears. The one that really caught my eye was this pin-tucked beauty. Ever since I wrote this post, I’ve been desperate to adapt a simple A-Line dress with interesting design details and this seemed like the perfect opportunity! Here are a few images that also inspired me…

Inspiring Vintage Sewing Patterns gathered on Pinterest.

Inspiring Vintage Sewing Patterns gathered on Pinterest.

After much consideration, I decided to go with this pattern from Climbing The Willow. Just like the Izzy Top (which I sew here and here) the pattern is free, and although the instructions aren’t quite as clear, it’s so simple to make it doesn’t matter!

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I wanted to stick with the vintage theme and so I decided it was about time I visited the numerous Boscombe vintage & charity shops which are within walking distance from our flat and have a hunt for some vintage fabric! I found a gorgeous old tablecloth and curtain in a little gem of a shop called The Attic. I even found the sweetest basket filled to the brim of 1940s baby wear. Honestly, it took a lot of willpower not to buy the entire thing! I also stumbled upon incredible bargains in the charity shops- I managed to get two double duvets for £3! I felt so guilty walking away with so much fabric, knowing how much I’d saved, that I had to put a donation into the pot. I decided that the green ditsy floral duvet cover would be perfect for this particular project!

The other element of the dress, the lace, is also vintage. I was kindly given it by a lovely  lacemaker, Gill Bird, who lives in my parents’ village. I’m sure that this was exactly the type of project she hoped for when she donated it to a ‘loving home’!

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Creating the dress itself was really simple. As Ruth suggested way-back-when, I pintucked the fabric first and then laid my pattern over the top and cut it out (making sure to stitch in the seam allowance to hold them all in place before I begun to sew). I then attached the lace with a simple straight stitch, covering the bottoms of the pintucks. Once the side seams were sewn up, I used homemade bias binding to finish the neck and the armholes. I then finished it off by sewing a thin hem around the bottom. And there you go! One ‘travelling’ back in time, vintage-inspired, upcycled summer dress!

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