Tuesday, 1 September 2015

The Wendy House - official launch today

I am pleased to announce that my sister website The Wendy House is officially launched today.

The Wendy House - for the love of crafting
The Wendy House

To celebrate the launch, we are offering 15% discount on all purchases over £5 and a fantastic giveaway of the ORIGINAL watercolour painting of this picture by our new affiliate designer Ellie Sheffield of Fizzy Fairy Paintings. There is no purchase necessary to enter our prize draw.

Along with our other card making products, you can also purchase the "Impy Butterfly Encounter" on our website as a full A4, high quality print and as a "Quick Card" with matching envelope. While you're in there, why not take a look at all the other wonderful crafting products on offer.

Click below the picture to find out more:

Special Launch Give Away

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Make your own envelopes

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to make your own envelopes.  Not only will you always have the right size envelope for your cards, but you will save money as well. It only takes a few minutes to make an envelope and you will never be caught out without one.
You can buy special envelope making tools, but I think you can make your own very successfully without
You can use any A4 paper from 80gsm copying paper to around 150gsm for a luxury envelope.  That of course will depend on whether the person you are sending to will just rip open the envelope or savour the experience of slowly unwrapping the envelope anticipating the wonderful hand made card that you have presented them with.  The choice is yours.  Most of my recipients are the former I’m afraid. If you are selling your cards you might want to make the envelopes just that little bit special as well.
I will also show you below how to line your envelopes with a contrasting paper or why not download some of The Wendy House backing papers to make them really special.
The tutorial below is for cards up to around 5” x 7”, you might be able to use it for cards slightly bigger, but I find that too fiddly.  For larger cards you will need more than one sheet of paper.

What you need


1 sheet of A4 paper


Narrow double sided sticky tape or tacky glue (not PVA)

The card that you are going to fill the envelope with.



Place your card on top of the A4 sheet and loosely fold the bottom of the sheet up so that the bottom of the sheet is about half an inch (1.5cm) from the top of the card.


Turn the card around and fold up the sides as shown above.  Don’t do this too tight as you need to be able to get the card in and out of the envelope.

Take the card out and sharpen the fold lines.


You don’t need to draw anything on the sheet, I have just drawn on it to make it easier to see the fold lines. The dashed lines are the fold lines.
Cut the paper as shown.  You might like to cut just inside the lines A and B to make a neat finish. Cut a V shape at the sides and at the top of the sheet as illustrated.  These don’t need to be precise but try to make them symmetrical.  If your card is quite small, you may wish to trim the side flaps a little, but leave at least 1/2” (1.5cm).


Place your double sided sticky tape along the lines as shown above, and peel off the backing sheet on the two lower edge ones.
Fold up the bottom and stick together and you are done.

Alternative Options

1.  Line your envelope


Now we can get a bit more interesting and introduce a lining if you wish.  It makes a very nice finish and give a real quality to your cards. 


Place your new envelope on top of a contrasting piece of paper or thin card and draw around it – don’t forget to include the flap at the top.


Cut out the contrasting piece. Cut a little inside the line you have drawn as you will need to fit this inside your envelope.  Snip off about 1/2” (1.5cm) from the bottom edge.
Place the contrasting sheet inside your envelope and attach at the top with some double sided sticky tape.

2.  Use a matching or decorative backing page for your envelope.

Print out your sheet on good quality paper or thin card and then make your envelope from this sheet.  Your cards will have a real luxury feel and will look very expensive, ideal for selling and for those who love to receive something special.



You can either put some double sided sticky tape on the envelope flap or why not use a piece that you have cut off to make a seal.  Simply cut a scrap piece to size and put a row of double sided sticky tape at the top and bottom.  Stick the top to the envelope flap and the bottom one to the body of the envelope, after all presentation is everything. Your friends and customers will love these.

That’s all for now – BBS


Tuesday, 18 August 2015

How to sew a fine hem without a hemming foot

Have you ever wondered how you can achieve a very fine hem on delicate fabrics such as chiffon, georgette and fine satin?  These are all fabrics that beginners dread working with and can even be difficult for the most accomplished sewers.

There is a special sewing machine foot called a “Rolled hem foot” or “Fine rolled hem foot” which can be purchased for your machine to do exactly this job and will create a very narrow hem, especially useful on fine fabrics.

Not only do you have the cost of purchasing the foot (probably around £15), but  unless you are very experienced this is a very tricky thing to master and takes a lot of practice.  It means that you need to cut your fabric within less than a centimetre from your final hem line and it can be very difficult to maintain a correct line, especially if you have to curve it around the fabric grain. If you encounter any problems during the sewing it can leave you with quite a wobbly hem line.

Here is my tip on how to sew a fine hem without using a hemming foot

I have to admit that it won’t be quite as fine as what can be achieved with a hemming foot, but with a little practice you can achieve a hem that is less than 0.5 cm (or around 1/4 “) and I find that it is much easier to control and you can still get a very professional finish.

So here goes and the secret is to do one thing at a time and be patient.

Firstly turn your hem up (wrong side to wrong side) and press the fabric at the exact hem line you wantFRH1 to create.






You do need to be careful to get your iron to the correct iron setting, I normally use a wool setting but you must do your own testing to your satisfaction, so if you can cut off a small piece first to practice.  I can’t express practice enough in this post as there’s no going back once the hem is cut.

Press the hem carefully and make sure that the fabric is smooth and the press line can be easily seen as you will be using it to guide your stitching.


If you are taking a lot off the hem as I was in this instance, trim off the excess to leave around 2” of fabric as this will make it much easier to handle and give you a bit of fabric to practice on.

If you are hemming a long dress it is often appropriate only to take up the front of the dress so you will have to consider how to join your new hem to the existing hem.


About 3 inches from where the new hem will meet the existing hem, un pick the existing hem line from the trimmed hem to just beyond where the new hem will join and trim the excess.


Now it’s time to start stitching.


If you have a practice piece of fabric, PRACTICE NOW.  You don’t need to use a small stitch, a medium length stitch will do fine, but you do need to get your sewing machine tension right so that it doesn’t pucker and stretch the fabric while you are stitching.

Also at this point I would always use a new sewing machine needle and for fine fabrics like this I recommend a size 70 point needle. 


With the right-side of the fabric uppermost, fold under your excess so that the fold line is approximately a quarter of an inch (0.4cm) from the pressed hem line. I have made it a little bigger in the pictures to make it stand out more.  The smaller you can make this line, the narrower your hem will be. It will depend on your skill, confidence and possibly your machine.

Start from just before where the new hem line will be created and finish just before where the new hem line will finish.

The next stage needs a lot of patience and care as we are about to cut off ALL the excess.


My advice to  you is don’t hurry this part, don’t do it if you have any distractions or it’s the “I’ll just do this and finish for the day” or if you are tired and can’t concentrate. This is where you trim the fabric and this is how I do it. You may with practice find your own method though. TAKE YOUR TIME.

With the right side of the fabric towards your hand, and the turned up hem uppermost, hold the hem in between your fingers and very VERY carefully cut away the excess fabric as close as you can to the stitched line. I use a very small pair of embroidery scissors and literally work one inch at a time. I can’t stress how important it is to take your time to ensure that you only cut off the excess and don’t cut through both layers of fabric.

From the start of trimming and the at the end of the trimming where the existing and new join, trim so that a neat line will form when you turn over the hem again.


Now you will make the final line of stitching.

With the right-side uppermost, fold under your hem using the original pressed hem line as a guide and stitch.  Make sure that your stitch line is close enough to the new hem line to allow smooth stitching and a really neat stitched line,  but far enough away to keep the hem from rolling open.  This is something that you will learn with practice.

At both ends, tease the new hem and existing hem to roll the fabric round and make a neat finish.

Now you can press your hem and you are finished.

Your new hem will show one line of stitching on the right-side and two on the wrong-side.   If you want to, you can now go back and pick out the first line of stitching which you can see from the wrong side. I don’t normally bother unless the fabric is extra fine or you have used a colour that does not match and can be seen from the right side.  It’s up to you.

So my advice is with PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, you can still achieve a very professional finish without a fine rolled hemming foot.

I’m sorry about all the shouty words in capitals, but this is one of the most difficult hems to create and as you trim the fabric to within a quarter of an inch from where you want the hem to be there is no room for error and once you have cut off the fabric excess, or even worse, snipped into the wrong piece of fabric you can’t make the hem longer. I always err on the side of making the hem too long rather than too short, but even then it is very difficult with this hem to just take off a very small amount.


If you have any feedback or comments, please feel free to leave them  below.

Thank you for reading and see you again soon.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

It’s a Cracker!

Christmas starts early with crafters, so to kick off, here’s a free template and instructions for you to make your own Christmas crackers.
Apart from making your own table crackers, these are great as ornaments to brighten up your tree or to use as small gift boxes.  They are also great fun to make and really quick and easy.
Use your favourite background papers or why not pop over to The Wendy House to find some great background prints to use and some pre-printed designs for the Christmas crackers like those shown in the image above.
Download the .pdf template for free – follow the link below

Click here to Download the free template

What you need

Template or pre-printed cracker image
Double sided sticky tape
Paper trimmer (preferred)
Scoring tool – I used an old credit card
Christmas ribbon – about half a meter for each cracker


Print off your cracker or template.
If you are using the template, cut out the template and draw the outline onto your backing card, then come back to this point.
Cut out the design on the cut lines (darker lines).  I prefer to use a paper trimmer on longer lines.
You don’t need to do the diamond shapes at this stage, just the outline.
Using the ruler and scoring tool, score all the fold lines (paler lines) and don’t forget the ones that join up the diamond shapes.

Fold ALL your scored lines, this makes it much easier to put the cracker together.
Fold under the end of the cracker so that the middle of the diamond shape is on the fold and with your card folded, snip out the diamond shapes and the two end pieces.  This is the easiest way to cut out the diamonds.
Put some double sided sticky tape on the tab ends, don’t forget to put this on the small tabs as well and fold up your cracker to meet the top edge.
Now you have a nice cracker shape and you can now pinch the cracker neck pieces and the cracker shape is done.
Tie a piece of ribbon around both neck pieces and you have your cracker.

Friday, 3 July 2015

How to tie up a lace back on a wedding/bridesmaids dress

You’ve probably tried on many dresses and have decided that a lace-up back dress is just what you have always dreamed of.
You’ve chosen your dress for your special day, and love the feature of the laced back, but has anyone actually spent the time with you advising you on how you can show it off to it’s best?
How to do the lacing is something that I was always being asked when I used to make and alter wedding and bridesmaids dresses. So I thought I’d share with you my advice on how to achieve that stunning professional finish to your special dress.

It is after all, the special feature that you wanted to have so why not show it off to it's best

Above are some of the dresses that I have made with laced up backs to show you exactly what I mean.
The photos below show a zoomed in image of the lacing of the same dresses.
As I’ve recently been asked to make some alterations to some gowns I thought I’d take the opportunity to photograph the technique used above and share it with you. So here’s my free instructions:-
1.  Never try to get the dress on or off with the laces in place, you will never get a really beautiful finish with this as they will get twisted and it’s really difficult to get twists out when the laces are in place.
2  With the dress already on the bride or bridesmaid, thread the lace through the top holes on each side, passing the lace from under the loop and through the loop. Unless the lace you are using is a piece of ribbon, it is likely that there will be a stitched seam to one side.  Make sure that this seam is to the bottom edge of your lace. Then check that you have almost exactly the same length of lace on each side.
3.  Take one side of the lace, it doesn’t matter, left or right but be consistent with your start point.  This demonstration starts with the right side lace.  Bring the lace across the top of the top loop on the right and under and out of the second loop on the left so that you have both lace ends on one side (the left).
4.  Now take the top lace on the left-hand side and pass it over the top left loop and under and out of the second loop on the right side. Then taking the same lace pass it over the top of the same loop and then under and out of the third loop on the left-hand side. In effect you are going across and back with the same lace.  Make sure that you straighten and twists at this stage as it’s much more difficult to get them out later. After this stage you will have both lace ends to the same side.
5.  Repeat point 4, building up the lacing until you get to the bottom loop.

6.  Once all the loops have been filled, you can now go back and tighten up the lacing. Remember that if you can, you should leave a “V” shape in the back, obviously how wide or narrow the “V” shape is will depend on the fitting of the dress.  If the dress meets in the middle then I would suggest that you think about getting the dress taken in at the sides so that you can show the “V” off to it’s best.  I have altered many wedding gowns so that the “V” is wider, after all, it’s the very attractive, shape slimming  “V” at the back that makes so many brides choose a gown with a lace-up back.
7.  Finish off the lacing with a neat bow and leave the lace tails hanging.  You might wish to tuck-in the ends, in which case, don’t tie a bow but tie a loose knot so that you don’t get any bulk under the dress.  My own personal opinion is to tie a bow and leave the tails hanging.
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will do my best to help.

Coming soon:-

How to make a fine rolled hem without a hemming foot.

How to shorten a dress with an attached lining.

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Saturday, 2 May 2015

Which type of sewing machine to choose?

Before reading further, please understand that this is my opinion alone and I have based my choice of machine on my own selection criteria.
However you may be looking for a sewing machine and wondering what all the different types are and what the advantages and disadvantages are.
I have put together my own views but before making your choice, you may want to do some more research and decide what your own selection criteria is. 
I take no responsibility for your own choice.
The images used are for illustration only and are not machines that have been reviewed.

My Decison

I already had a wonderful Husqvarna Designer 1 embroidery and sewing machine which was getting a bit old and a replacement would cost around £4,000.  Just to update it from floppy disc to USB input would cost over £300.  This machine did almost everything that you could think of, from full embroidery to putting the presser foot down automatically when you depressed the pedal and tie off the thread at the end of stitching.
However I had a special project in mind which involved a lot of leather sewing and I didn’t want to risk putting too much strain on the Designer 1. So I started looking for another machine to do the “donkey” work.
My quest was to find a machine that:-
1.  would last a long time (Longevity).
2.  would do heavy work (Durability).
3.  would be light-weight machine so that I could take it on extended holidays and light to move around (Weight).
4.  would be good value for money (Cost).
So I started doing my research and some of this might help you if you are selecting a new sewing machine.
The types of machines available seem to fall into four categories and I have put some salient points into a table for you.
Please note that a mechanical machine is not a manual machine.  It runs on electricity but does not have any computer technology.

Machine Type Computerised Industrial Mechanical Portable
Advantages Lots of fancy stitches
Lots of different settings
Very strong motor designed to last for a long time Not much to go wrong and easy to repair Super light-weight
Some have battery and electricity power.
Disadvantages Computerised and therefore potential to be expensive and need specialist  repair Very heavy, not really portable.  Quite expensive.
Basic stitches
No fancy stitches
Basic settings
Basic stitches. Basic settings. Not really for the serious sewer. So light that may not give good stability in use. Basic machine.

So the question now was how do these meet with my selection criteria.  Again I have marked these with 1, 2 and 3 against each type of machine – 1 being best meets my selection criteria and 4, least meets my criteria.
Type Computerised Industrial Mechanical Portable
Longevity 3 1 2 4
Durability 3 1 2 4
Weight 3 4 2 1
Cost 4 3 2 1
Overall Score 13 9 8 10
The cost of a computerised machine machine starts at around £1,000 and goes up to around £5,000.
An Industrial machine is around the £1,000 mark but can be more.  Good second hand ones can be found as they have great longevity.
Mechanical machines cost from around £100 upwards
Portable are generally under £100.
There are of course other categories of specialist machines such as quilting machines, embellishing machines, overlockers/sergers to mention some but I already knew these were not what I was looking for so I have not included these in my detailed research.
So based on the above table a mechanical machine was what I was looking for. Although the mechanical machine only came out one point better than the industrial one, the cost  and the portability elements weighed heavily for me and the difference was actually a major factor.
So a mechanical machine was for me – now which one?
My post on my choice will follow shortly.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Make a lined Box Bag – free tutorial

Box Bag, All Free Crafting Things

And with no hand sewing.

I just love these lined box-bags, they are fantastic for make-up, pencil cases and any bits and pieces.  Make a matching set; a shoe bag; spectacle case; handbag a bag for so many uses. Experiment with different sizes.  And because the zip goes down the sides, you can easily get to whatever you want to keep in there.

They are great for using up scraps of fabric and recycled zips. Make them the size of your scrap.

Add some beading or a tassel to the zip for that extra special touch.

Make them for your friends but I’m sure you will want to keep them yourself.

Skill level –


Time to make

Less than 1 hour

What you need

Sewing Machine
Zip – 12” (30cm)
Two pieces of contrasting fabric 15” x 12”  (38cm x 30cm)
Optional tassel or beading
This will make a bag approximately 5” long x 4” wide x 3” high (13cm x  10cm x 7.5cm).


Cut the fabric to size.
Box Bag, All Free Crafting Things
Remember in this bag the length of the bag is the shorter of the sides (12”).
Take the outside fabric and stitch the zip to the right-side of the fabric close to the teeth
Box Bag, All Free Crafting Things
Lay the lining over the zip right sides together and stitch the zip (a little further away from the teeth).
Box Bag, All Free Crafting Things
Once stitched, if you open up the fabric, right sides on top, this is what it looks like.
All Free Crafting Things, Box Bag
Flip over so the the fabric lays wrong sides together and the zip is flat. Press the zip line if you wish.
Bring the bottom of the outside fabric up to meet the top edge of the zip (right sides together).  Pin the fabric to the edge of the zip and stitch close to the teeth.
Box Bag, All Free Crafting Things
Now turn over the fabric so that the lining is on the top.
Box Bag, All Free Crafting Things
Fold up the bottom of the lining (right sides together) and stitch to the edge of the zip (a little further away from the teeth).
Box Bag, All Free Crafting Things
Now you have two tubes attached by the zip. Press the zip line again if you wish.
Box Bag, All Free Crafting Things
Open up the top tube so that you are looking at the right side of the lining. Get a hold of the lining……
Box Bag, All Free Crafting Things
and turn the whole thing inside out
Box Bag, All Free Crafting Things
This will leave you with the bag inside out.
Now for the side seams.
Fold the bag in half with the zip at the top and pin to mark the bottom fold line. Do this at both ends.
Box Bag, All Free Crafting Things
Flatten the bag with the zip in the centre and pin the zip to match the bottom fold in the picture above.  Important - Make sure that the zip is partly open at this stage or you won’t be able to turn it back to the right side.
Box Bag, All Free Crafting Things
Stitch down the two side seams and neaten.  If you have an overlocker – great, if not use a stitched zig zag stitch.
 Box Bag, All Free Crafting Things
Now the tricky bit  to make the boxed corners.  Take your time with this as this is what gives the bag it’s shape. Sorry for the blurred picture.
Pinch the corner, so that the seam meets the original bottom fold line (where you pinned it) as closely as you can. You can usually line this up by feeling with your fingers.
Box Bag, All Free Crafting Things
Pin the seam line to the bottom fold line and flatten the fabric.
Box Bag, All Free Crafting Things
Now mark a point 1.5” (3.5cm) from the corner down each side and draw a line across. Stitch this line and neaten the edge.  Do this for all four corners.  If you don’t take care here the box will end up a strange shape.  They must all be the same.
Box Bag, All Free Crafting Things
Trim off the corners outside the stitching line.
Box Bag, All Free Crafting Things
Turn the whole thing inside out and there you are! Push out the corners and the bag will take it’s shape.
Box Bag, All Free Crafting Things
Click below to download the printable version from our sister website.

Click for Printable version
The Wendy House

I’d love to receive your comments and pictures of your creations.  Either leave a comment below or email me.

See you soon……………………………………..