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.