Cricut Maker : Guide to Tools / Accessories (for Sewing and Clothing Projects!)

Ok, so you’ve got a new Cricut Maker machine or you’re pondering getting one? I thought I’d elaborate on my first Cricut blog post (What Does a Cricut Maker Machine Do, Exactly?!) and chat about what tools and accessories you might want to go with your Maker in order to get the most out of it! Let’s face it, a sewing machine without thread or needle isn’t going to produce much, and this is equally true of your Cricut!

Cricut Maker tools accessories

Of course what you might need / want largely depends on what you’re planning to use your Maker to, well, make. So, I’m going to talk from my own viewpoint; that is, mainly as a maker of clothes who’s just discovered a passion for all things crafty generally!

I’ve put everything under separate Headings, so you can skip to read the bits you’re interested in 😉

Let’s start off with the biggest thing…

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What does a Cricut Maker Machine Do, exactly!? A Beginner Review

Happy New Year to you! Hope yours has got off to a great start? Mine has; I had a really lovely, quiet, Christmas at home with my family – the days were spent playing with the kids, eating my own bodyweight and occasionally ducking out and hiding in my Happy Place to make stuff! Y’see I was very lucky to receive a Cricut Maker machine at the end of 2019 (please read my *Sponsored Post Disclaimer at the end of this Post) and I spent most of the Holidays playing with it! I only had a vague idea at the outset of the Cricuts’ potential – enough of an idea to know I was insanely lucky to be offered one but I had absolutely no idea how to use it! It sat in its box, unopened, for two whole weeks whilst I researched online and tried to get my head around its seemingly endless capabilities! If this is you right now, or if you’re thinking of getting a Maker too, or if you’re just curious to know what I’m waffling on about, read on!

Cricut Maker a beginners guide
The First Rule of Cricut Law is … you must customise your Cricut machine!

In short, learning about my Cricut Maker, progressing to actually unboxing it and finally, to switching it on, has unleashed an unprecedented maelstrom of making (and believe me, that’s saying something!) I’ve fallen completely in love; absolutely head-over-heels gaga, in fact, with designing and making craft and sewing related projects. And I’ve only just started! I am giddy with the possibilities!

But before I get completely carried away in my own enthusiasm, let me draw a calming breath and slow down, so we can take this from the beginning. (I’ll throw in some of my starter projects to illustrate!)

applying printable vinyl to clothing
My ‘Maria’ Crossback Apron customised with printable vinyl
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Pattern Matching Tricky Bits! My latest Carolyn Pajamas…and a Giveaway!

I’ve sewn another pair of Carolyn Pyjamas by Closet Case Patterns! It’s been years since sewing my last pair and they finally gave up the ghost. I’ve sewn a few knitwear PJs lately (see here) but I really wanted another classic, more tailored, set. The Carolyns are a more involved sew which satisfies my itch to get deeper into a project; time that I know will be repaid in a garment that should survive years of repeated wash and wear!

(And yes, I really wished I’d cut out in the opposite direction! It really bothered whilst I was sewing them up – thankfully though, it bothers me not a jot in the wearing ‘cos at least the books are faced so I can ‘read’ them when looking down at my bottoms!)

My first two iterations of this pattern were sewn from the easier of the three Views (View A). This time around I wanted the full works – cuffs and piping! I chose this book print broadcloth fabric, or rather it chose me, as at the end of every day, I’ll declare “I’m off to bed to read!” Given the ‘busyness’ of the print, I wasn’t particularly bothered about pattern matching generally, however I did want to match the breast pocket, which is both cuffed and piped, so it wouldn’t look ‘off’.

I thought I’d share with you how I pattern match trickier pieces like this – taking photos of each step of the process to clarify how straightforward it really is – ‘strap yourself in’ though as there’s a few of them as I also thought I’d illustrate a closer look at how the cuffed pocket is constructed at the same time! In reality, the doing is a quick process, promise!

Piping and a pattern matched breast pocket
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Two pairs of Morgan Jeans … and a chat about Raw Denim

Hi! I’ve finally got around to writing this post having been bed-ridden for 9 days straight with the worst flu I’ve ever had – I say flu, but I really don’t know – it was the weirdest case of flu ever! But thankfully I’m back to normal now (‘normal’ being a relative term, obvs!)

Sarah Smith v Raw Denim, Round 1

[*EDIT : this post has been amended retrospectively to take into account, lessons learned since initially writing it!]

I’ve sewn a few pairs of skinny jeans in my time (using the Eleanore stretch pants pattern by Jalie – see here) but I really felt my wardrobe was lacking a relaxed pair; my last RTW ones having finally fallen apart! The Morgan ‘boyfriend’ jeans have a traditional coin pocket and button fly and are suited to a roll-up hem – in other words, exactly what I was looking for. PDF duly purchased!

Have you sewn jeans before? If not, are you intimidated by the idea? I’ve got to say from the off, in terms of actual sewing, making jeans is not difficult. And I found the Morgan instructions to be absolutely faultless; which of course helps – in fact, I find sewing jeans a methodical and therefore joyfully therapeutic process. All that lovely topstitching for example!

I will say, having the right notions and tools for the job really makes a difference though; I found my Hump Jumper / Bulky Seam Aid absolutely came into its own with this project, ensuring that my sewing machine foot navigated bulky seams with ease and ensuring that my topstitching didn’t ‘skip’. A seam guide (the 1/4″ mark is particularly useful) and a fabric marker (I used my Clover Chalk Pen) are also incredibly useful for marking your double topstitching lines so you can sew them equidistant.  You will also need good quality jean topstitching thread (choosing your colour is fun in itself!) I used these rivets and these ‘laurel wreath’ jeans buttons. (If you’re unsure how they’re installed; I use the same method as in my Snap tutorial – no hammer required!)

To my mind, the hardest part of sewing jeans is not the construction; it’s not even, technically speaking, the fitting of the jeans – it’s accounting for the particularity of your chosen raw denim. Raw denim, being 100% cotton, tends to relax substantially throughout the day  – so what fitted perfectly in the morning may be a baggy mess by the evening. Conversely, a pair that has marginal breathing room over breakfast fit beautifully come dinner  – or so I’ve found! Which can make ‘seeing’ what fit adjustments you need to make that bit trickier!

Using fabric scraps leftover from my Panda Pajamas for the pockets and waistband

The weight of your denim is really important then. I would say for this particularly pattern, you don’t want to use anything less than 10 oz. Mine for both pairs – was 9.5 oz – I didn’t think that half ounce would make a real difference but it does feel too lightweight for the cut of these pants  – if I sew this pattern again, and I’m sure I will with further mods, I think I’d be looking for something substantially firmer – between 10 – 11 oz, as these are likely to have less ‘give’.

Let me talk you through my experience – I’ve sewn the Morgans twice now with different adjustments – and I’ve washed and worn both pairs loads

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A Jacket & A Coat – the Pona Jacket by Helen’s Closet

Hello again! It seems I’m on a bit of a sewing binge at the moment – having sewn two pairs of jeans, two sets of PJs and a turtleneck recently. Now, adding to that, two coats using the brand new sewing pattern release from Helen’s Closet; the Pona Jacket. I think its safe to say my Sewjo is back and I couldn’t be happier!

I was lucky enough to be a pattern tester for this one; as soon as I saw the initial line drawings I was in! *The Pona (a PDF pattern) was just the pattern I was looking for – a true wardrobe staple, something that will transition nicely all year round. It can either be a lightweight throw-on jacket for the warmer months or a full on warm coat for the cooler months. Or something in-between! And, as a bonus, this is incredibly simple – and quick – to make!

I love the drafting; it’s unlined but has a nifty facing that allows the front lapels to drape open. It also has no closures; it’s meant to be worn open, although there is enough cross-over if you do want to add a button or a frog fastening. I left the cropped jacket as is but added a simple hidden snap fastening to the top left on the coat version so that I can wear it closed with the collar up should I need to. I think this pattern makes for a great introduction to sewing coats and jackets for those wanting to dip their toes in these waters! If you haven’t already, I can heartily recommend you do so using this pattern – come on in, the water is warm!

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