Sunday 30 July 2017

The Big Stitch For British Heart Foundation

You know I love a bit of upcycling and customisation, so I was delighted to discover the British Heart Foundation Big Stitch campaign! The aim of the challenge, which ran throughout July, was to buy an item in a British Heart Foundation shop and add your own flair to it. I picked this lovely floaty floral dress and set about customising it...

It was a little windy when we took this photo!

I had my heart set on a dress and there were lots to choose from in store

Thank you to the very kind staff in my local British Heart Foundation shop who took this photo of me holding the dress I'd found in their store to use for the challenge

The dress was a little big and low at the front so I decided to add a sort of lace bib to make it wearable for me. I raided my stash for this pretty lace, which I overlaid and stitched together to create a fabric panel. I then stitched this into the front of the dress and used black pearl style beads to embellish the neckline

For some people, the idea of buying second hand clothes is not their cup of tea, but you can find great bargains and add your own flair to them, as well as supporting good causes and reducing landfill waste.  A few simple added details have made this a wearable dress for me and a very thrifty project.

Thanks to the British Heart Foundation for setting this great challenge, I hope it has raised lots of funds and publicity for your cause.

Did you take part in the Big Stitch? I'd love it if you shared a photo of your makes in the comments below!

Have a lovely week everyone!

Louise xx

Sunday 23 July 2017

New in my Etsy Shop!

If you follow me on social media, this week you will have seen a sneak peek of some new pieces I've been working on lately. I'm delighted to reveal them now- I've just added them to my Etsy Shop!

Meet my new Fair Isle necklaces with pom poms! 

I'd been wanting to add to my Fair Isle jewellery range and create some really bright, fun pieces. Adding a pom pom in a contrasting colour to the bottom of each necklace has added a happy quirkiness to the range.

I certainly had fun making them and I hope people have fun wearing them too. The world needs more pom poms!

There are currently three colour ways to choose from, all hand knitted to my own patterns using Shetland Wool. Which one is your favourite?

I will be adding more colours and I am always happy to make custom orders if you would like one in a particular colour combo, just let me know! 

Thank you for letting me share these with you today. I hope you have a lovely week.

Louise xx

Sunday 16 July 2017

Stylecraft Candy Swirl

Today I'd like to share with you a little yarn review! Let me introduce to you Candy Swirl, the latest yarn from Stylecraft. I've just made up a scarf using this yarn and I'd love to share the project with you...

By day, I work in the wool department of a family run art and craft shop. This is both brilliant and dangerous- it is very hard to resist buying everything because there are so many lovely things! I was really looking forward to the arrival of Candy Swirl, which is the much anticipated latest yarn by Stylecraft and I have knitted a scarf in this new yarn to display in the shop, in return for blogging about it here. All opinions here are my own and although Candy Swirl is available to order from my place of work, it is available from many yarn retailers.

With American "cake" style yarns, which are colour changing yarns rolled into a spiral to show off the colours, proving very popular in the knitting and crochet world at the moment, many of the big UK yarn brands are releasing their own take on this trend and Candy Swirl is Stylecraft's.

Candy Swirl yarn is a cake yarn released as part of Stylecraft's Special range, which is their economy acrylic range. I really really love wool and pure fibre yarns, but Special is such a popular yarn range, with the appeal only increasing as bloggers and designers such as Lucy from Attic 24 championing it in their work, producing brilliant colourful blankets and accessories. I've got an ongoing crochet granny square blanket project that I'm making in Special DK. 

Pure fibre yarns are, quite rightly so, expensive. The cost of the upkeep of the animals whose fleeces used to make the yarn, plus the production costs and many other factors make it a luxury item. I make small woolen pieces and I can't afford to make many large pieces using pure fibre yarns- I'm not going to change my wool loving ways and convert to using acrylic (very often),  but I appreciate the accessible appeal of yarns such as the Stylecraft Special range and I can therefore understand why Stylecraft would want to add a cake yarn to this range.

Candy Swirl is a 150g DK weight yarn in eight colourways, all with sweet/fruit inspired names. I chose to work with the shade called Coconut Ice.

The yarn is beautifully rolled together to show off the lovely colours. However, unlike some cake style yarns where you can start the ball from the outside edge or the middle and knit away, with the Candy Swirl I found it best to start from the outside and re-roll the yarn into a ball first to stop it all collapsing on itself. I got in a bit of a knot to start with because I didn't realise. This would be my only criticism of the yarn because other than this initial issue, it was a pleasure to work with.

Work in progress! Tea and cake to go with my cake yarn. You can see what I did there...

Unlike some of the similar yarns available, Candy Swirl doesn't come with a free pattern on the ball band, but the cheaper price reflects this. However there are many separate patterns for knitted and crocheted accessories available to go with the yarn, lots with several designs on the single pattern and most of them just require one ball. I chose pattern 9413, which has three designs. I chose to make the "Petit Points" scarf, which has a lovely lacy edge.

Certainly where I work, people have expressed an interest in using the yarn to make children's garments, so perhaps this is something Stylecraft will explore in the future

The yarn was lovely to work with- it is beautifully soft- not scratchy at all like some acrylic yarns and It doesn't split as you knit. It was a very enjoyable pattern to knit

On display at work

I hope you enjoyed a little insight into the world of Candy Swirl!

Happy making!

Louise xx

Sunday 9 July 2017

How To Make A Rag Quilt

It may not be quilt weather here in the uk at the moment, but I made this rag quilt for my niece recently and I wanted to share how to make it. This certainly was a fun project to make and I want to make everything quilted now, hehe!

A rag quilt is made from squares of fabric pieced together with the seam allowances on the outside. The seam allowances are snipped at intervals and the whole quilt then goes in the washing machine- the snipped edges fluff up to create a lovely fluffy border!  I wanted to make one as I have never made a quilt before and I had heard that a rag rug is a great introduction to quilting, as there is no need for a seperate back or border. It's also a great project if you're not confident with a sewing machine, as you only sew straight lines. Even if the lines end up a little wobbly like mine, once the seams are all fluffed up no-one will ever know!

 This can also be a very thrifty project as it is a fab way to use up small pieces of fabric from your stash. Also, the backing is made from wynceyette, which is a type of brushed cotton- check if you have an old wynceyette sheet you could use before heading to the fabric shop.

 You don't have to use it as a quilt- a rag quilt would make a great picnic blanket or throw for your sofa. You could also use these ideas to make rag quilt cushions. 

 This is by no means my own original idea as rag quilts are widely made, but read on to find my interpretation of how to make one!

You Will Need

Selection of cotton based fabrics for the top layer of the quilt.  I used three designs
I think that polycotton fabrics would work too, but if you are unsure if the fabric you have will fluff up in the washing machine, perhaps try washing a small sample first

Winceyette (a soft brushed cotton) for the backing fabric. You will need twice the amount of the top layer fabric, including seam allowances

Fabric scissors or fabric cutting wheel. If you are using a cutting wheel you will also need a cutting mat and quilting ruler. If you are cutting the pieces by hand, you will need a piece of paper and a pencil and ruler to make a template


Sewing machine

Thread for machine sewing

Needle and thread for tacking


Decide on the size you would like each fabric square to be and how many sqaures you would like in each design. I cut my squares 7"x7" and stitched them with a 1/2" seam allowance, to leave finished squares of 6"x6".  Cut out the amount of squares in the top layer fabric to make a quilt to your required size. Use a rotary cutter and quilting ruler with a cutting mat, or a paper template pinned onto your fabric and then cut around it with fabric scissors.

For every square of fabric for the top layer you will need to cut two identical squares from the winceyette


Now to make your quilt sandwiches! Take two squares of winceyette and pin one of your top layer squares on top to form a fabric sandwich


Repeat this step until all of your squares have been used up. You can now either machine stitch an x across each square from corner to corner to hold all the pieces together, or leave the pin in place and proceed to the next step

Now you should lay your squares out on a table or on the floor and decide on the design to make u your quilt


Once you've decided on your design, stitch the squares together in rows of the desired number. My quilt was 6 squares long.

Place two squares wrong sides together and pin along the side edge, leaving a 1/2" seam allowance.You need the seams to all be on the right side of the fabric


Continue until all of your squares are pinned together in rows. You may like to tack all the squares in place


Sew the squares together using a 1/2" seam allowance in a contrasting coloured thread. Ensure that you also sew a 1/2" seam allowance on the squares on the end of the rows too

All of your squares should now be sewn into strips, with the seam allowance showing on the right side and each end square should be sewn with a 1/2" seam allowance too. Press the seam allowances flat


Now to sew your strips together! Line the strips up together in your chosen order and pin along the long sides, again using a 1/2" seam allowance and with the seam allowance on the right side of the fabric. Pin the seams out flat


Now that all the pieces for the quilt are sewn together, it's time to snip the seam allowance.

Use fabric scissors to snip through the exposed seam allowances at approximately 5mm intervals, taking care not to snip through the stitching. Don't forget to snip along the outside edges too.

Once all the seams are snipped, give the quilt a good shake outside- try to remove as many of the loose threads as you can

When washed, the snipped seam allowance will fluff up


Pop your quilt in the washing machine, along with something extra like a pair of jeans to give some friction. I washed mine at 40 degrees.

You will find that many loose threads will come away from the quilt in the wash, so it's best not to wash it with lots of other things!

When the quilt comes out of the washing machine, give it a good shake and hang it up to dry. Shake it again once it's dry to remove any more loose threads. You will find that the more you wash the quilt, the fluffier the seams will get.

Enjoy your quilt! If you make one, please share a photo in the comments below, or tag me in your photo on social media @louisedawsondesign

Happy making!

Louise xx

Sunday 2 July 2017

Back To The Blog

Hello there! It's been a little while since I last published a blog post but I'm excited to get back to it again. I hope you are well!

I don't usually go into lots of personal detail but I feel that I should explain my absence! This year has been very eventful. Back in February, my Dad was taken seriously ill and we nearly lost him. It was the most awful time, but I'm pleased to say that he is now fully recovered and we are all very grateful. The NHS doctors and nurses that took care of him were all amazing and I can't thank them enough for giving him such great care and bringing him back to health. I'm feeling quite emotional writing this!

Following this, my sister had her baby girl one month early- she was so teeny but she's more than made up for it now! So I'm now a proud Auntie to two lovely nieces.

After all of this, having been looking for a long time, Mr Writer and I bought a house! It took quite a few months, lots of paper work and meetings, but we've now exchanged contracts. It's a new build and we will be moving in around about the end of September, so we are busy organising for our move. We don't currently live together, despite having been together for fourteen and a half years, so we are very excited! I will be sharing some homeware How Tos soon.

These events all snowballed into me going a little off track, which is why I've been away from the blog for so long, but I'm grateful that things have now (touch wood!) settled down a bit and I am getting back into a routine. I've been making some new pieces that I will share with you soon.

Thank you for letting me share this with you today. I hope you are all well and enjoying the summer.

I'll be back soon!

Louise xx