DIY JuJu Hat

The latest in home decor…. introducing…. the Ju Ju Hat !

Juju hats, or Tyn hats, were worn by royal dancers during Bamileke tribal ceremonies. They symbolised prosperity and were created from natural or dyed chicken and wild bird feathers , they have recently become very fashionable wall decor and as always I have champagne tastes and a lemonade budget !

JuJu hats can cost around £100-£300 each ! So I made a DIY version costing just £25 !

juju hat above the bed

If you would like to make your own you will need :

A WOVEN PLACEMAT

3 metres of STRUNG FEATHERS (You can use any type of feather , I have used turkey feathers for a super fluffy look – don’t try this with individual feathers it won’t work – you will need those on a ribbon or strung)

NEEDLE AND THREAD (Don’t be tempted to hot glue – it will stick to the feathers and make a right old mess)

woven placemat and feather trim

Let’s get sewing ! Pin the trim around the outside of the placemat , the feathers have a natural curve so you can place them in or out depending on the fullness you would like the finished piece to be , I alternated mine.

Stitch the first row down – DON’T use glue , it will stick to your feathers !

pin the feathers down

Make sure to cut the feather trim when you complete the circle – DON’T spiral it will cause bunching. Stitch each row in one complete circle , and keep going until you reach the centre.

stitched to the centre
the middle

Now before you make the final centre , pull the feathers upwards towards the centre , snapping them and fluffing them up.

Take some leftover trim and roll it around itself adding stitches here and there , then sew into the middle of the hat.

Give the whole hat a good fluff , add in some more feathers if you have areas that need it by sellotaping some loose feathers together at the bottom and then stitching in. Add a string of thread to the back to hang ….

And you are done ! I added a few loose blue feathers into this one to match my bedroom decor.

Happy sewing !

Gems x

Sewing for beginners ! The Mandy Boat Tee .

Hey everyone ! Hope you are all staying safe and not going tooo bonkers being inside all the time.

Over the past few weeks I have had sooo many enquiries about when classes will be starting again. I wish I could say adult & children’s classes were starting again soon , but I really just don’t know when it will be. Here in South wales we are in one of the Covid Hotspots and I can’t see venues being able to open any time soon , I promise as soon as I know , you will , and I will be adding as many classes as I can to catch everyone up.

We have had so many complete beginner workshop requests , it seems lot’s of you lovely people have had a sewing machine for christmas and are eager to get sewing , I love beginners classes they are so much fun , every sewing machine is slightly different and there’s nothing quite like showing someone what all those buttons and levers do. Sadly while I can’t teach you via zoom at the moment I thought maybe we could have a little sew a long at home via the blog instead .

Introducing….

The Mandy Boat Tee !

This beginner friendly sewing pattern is a FREE pattern by Tessuti Fabrics and is suitable for all ages , and all more importantly all sizes . It has NO darts , and NO complicated seams. Hooray !

I don’t know about you but long comfy T shirts and leggings have become my lockdown mum uniform and these tops are so easy to make I just had to share one of my all time favourite sewing patterns with you.

So if you would like to make one of these pop onto the pattern website and download your pattern

HERE https://www.tessuti-shop.com/products/mandy-boat-tee-print-at-home-or-copy-shop

This fab free pattern includes a lovely booklet on how to stitch it together – so I won’t go over any of those details but I will give you some of my top tips for beginners that you may not know.

REMEMBER TO PRINT AT 100% !

TOP TIPS.

  • This pattern requires jersey fabric , I highly recommend a cotton jersey for your first time , its much less slippy. I’ve also made this pattern in sweatshirt fabric by going a size up on the pattern.
  • You will need a BALLPOINT NEEDLE when sewing stretchy fabrics make sure to use a 80/12 if you can. Twin needles are great for hems , but you don’t need them.
  • You can sew this pattern on a regular sewing machine using a stretch stitch – Overlockers are great if you have one , but I rarely use mine as baby rainbow hates the noise so all of mine have been made on a regular machine.

LETS SEW !

WASH AND DRY YOUR FABRIC – Always wash and dry your fabric as you would the finished item of clothing , fabrics usually shrink a little in a washing machine or tumble drier and you don’t want to end up with a top too small !

  • Measure yourself and decide on your size , This top is very floaty and boxy , so go by your bust measurement unless your hips are wider than the hip measurement , in which case go by that. Stick the paper together as shown in the PDF booklet and Cut out your paper pattern . Lay your fabric out on the table and fold one side inwards , shuffle it around a bit and pin your largest pieces first , then your sleeve pieces .
My little doughnuts are paper weights ! I pin the pattern on so it doesn’t shift – Jersey is slippy !
  • When cutting your fabric always pin your pattern piece and cut with the blade of your scissors on the table , if you lift the fabric up you will under or over cut. If you find it’s too slippy and hard to cut try spraying it with a little spray starch ( available in supermarkets in a can ) to stiffen the fabric. If you are using stripes , try and get the pattern pieces on the fabric evenly – so if the bottom of the pattern is on an orange stripe , make sure the other pattern piece is also on the bottom of an orange stripe.
  • Ok pieces cut ? Let’s sew ! Remember to use a ballpoint needle and use a stretch stitch – If you use a regular straight stitch the stitches WILL SNAP when you wear it. Follow the PDF booklet and make sure to PRESS YOUR SEAMS with a steam iron when you are finished – setting the seams is so important when you make your own clothing . Use wonder clips if you struggle with pins and NEVER sew over pins on a domestic sewing machine ! .
Try and match your stripes if you are using stripe fabric wonder clips are great for holding seams while you sew, and they are very cheap to buy online.

Finished top ? Hurrah !

Now you’ve made your first one , try it on and have a look if there are any adjustments you would like to make in future , could the hem be longer ? Add a few inches to the bottom , sleeves too long ? alter your pattern by taking a few inches off on the pattern where it says to alter and stitch the bottom of the sleeve back on. Hem too baggy ? Slide some elastic through the bottom to make a bubble hem top instead.

Maybe embroider the front , add some iron on vinyl or even make a longer version for a comfy dress ! You could also print the pattern at 50% instead and make a children’s version .

This pattern is so versatile and beginner friendly.

If you are on instagram …

  1. Why are you not following me yet ? and 2. try searching the hashtag mandyboattee for hundreds of cool ideas and hacks , there is so much you can do with this sewing pattern.

FOLLOW ME HERE https://www.instagram.com/gemma_stitch/?hl=en

Happy sewing ! Don’t forget to share those photos ❤

Stay Safe x

CHOP CHOP ! Let’s talk about sewing scissors

Hey everyone ! I hope you’ve all had a lovely christmas and a wonderful if not quiet new year 🙂

I thought we would kick off the year with another in my series of equipment blog posts… And today it’s the turn of the most useful item of sewing equipment – SCISSORS !

SCISSORS !

I will be honest , and hold my hands up…. I have wayyyyy too many pairs of scissors !

( I’m talking over a hundred 😮 )

Some are used in my adult sewing classes , some in the children’s school classes and some… well some sit in the tin and look pretty !

My scissors range from a few weeks old to my heirloom great grandmothers metal scissors now over 100 years old … and they all work ! Taking care of scissors is really quick and easy if you do it every few months.

When you first start sewing it’s important to know that you don’t actually need dressmaking or sewing scissors *shock* 😮

All you need is a BRAND NEW pair – That will only be used for fabric.

You should always have one pair for cutting paper , one for cutting fabric and I like to keep one pair for cutting appliqué as technically you are cutting both paper and fabric. That’s it !

I will say however that using dressmaking scissors , shears , embroidery scissors and patchwork scissors make life soooo much easier in reality.

I use a lot of scissors everyday teaching and making patterns , let alone my evening hand sewing. These are MY favourites.

SEWING SCISSORS.

These are for general use , there are many brands out there , but my favourite at the moment are the PRYM LOVE series. They have lovely comfy handles , angled blades and are super easy to keep clean and sharp. I use these everyday and have them in many colours.

SEWING SHEARS – DRESSMAKING TAILORS SHEARS

I love my heavier scissors too , I use these almost exclusively when cutting dressmaking fabrics , heavier fabric like denim or corduroy or even several layers of quilting cotton.

PATCHWORK SCISSORS

Bit of an all rounder these , I use lovely sharp PRYM patchwork scissors as they have the strongest blades , small but very very mighty.

PAPER SCISSORS

Always handy to have a few around ! I use a mixture of sizes from kitchen scissors to children’s size left and right handed school scissors.

PINKING SHEARS.

I only use these for dressmaking fabrics where the weight is heavier than cotton , but many people use them for all sorts .

EMBROIDERY SCISSORS

These lovely little scissors are one of my favourites. If you have ever been to a sewing class with me you’ll notice I always keep a gold pair of straight nose stork scissors on a lanyard or chain around my neck !

I use both small straight scissors and the famous stork scissors when doing any embroidery , english paper piecing or hand sewing , mainly as they fit nicely in a little box and are light and easy to snip with.

KEEPING YOUR SCISSORS CLEAN !

It’s so important to give your scissors a little clean up every now and then , they do work pretty hard for us !

I like to clean mine with a lint free cloth like a baby muslin and sharpen them with a blade restorer like these FISKARS brand sharpeners.

Now , nothing and I mean nothing , compares to having them sharpened by a professional , but I find the blade restorers keep them going in the meantime.

STORAGE.

You can hang them , put them in a drawer , leave them on your desk …. It’s up to you ! But whatever you do , put a padlock on the top of your best sewing scissors , esp around christmas !

I keep my bigger scissors in my great grandmothers biscuit tin , and my desk ones in my desk organiser.

Where do you keep yours ?

Happy Sewing ,

GEMS 🙂

Halloween Street Play Set

It’s almost halloween !

This year I made baby rainbow a little play set with some wooden houses , a bit of paint and some peg dolls 🙂

He loves it ! and it was so simple to make …

All you need is some wooden blocks , some acrylic paint , mod lodge to seal them and some imagination !

I found my blocks on ETSY HERE

And used some left over paint from other projects.

I painted the blocks first in halloween colours , after they were dry I drew some designs on both sides with pencil and then painted the finer details.

I Decided on :

A hotel , A church , A Hospital , Bakery , Dog House , Caspers house , Draculas House , Mummy pharmacy & pumpkin shop.

(Some are on the back sides)

I also made some cute peg dolls to go with the houses

Super easy and super fun ! Why not give it a go 🙂

The Rainbow House Garden

Hey everyone !

I have a confession to make……

I make hundreds of things , from painting to sewing , cooking to gardening I am always beavering away … and I NEVER remember to blog any of them ! I am terrible at it…. I had no idea how many things I haven’t shared in the past few months , until I had lot’s of comments on a social media photo , and I realised I haven’t shared any of my lockdown projects…. and there are a LOT of them !

So , I am turning over a new leaf … while they are starting to fall off the trees anyhoo !

Introducing…… The Rainbow Garden !

I love Gardening , I’ve been growing my own veg for years now , but this year I decided to take on a little cut flower patch for use in the new house.

We moved in August 2019 , and the back garden was… well… brown…. My least favourite colour in the whole world….

So in lockdown I slapped a rainbow on it… ! Getting hold of paint in lockdown was tricky so with a little careful mixing here and there I managed to get a pastel coloured fence rainbow that I could paint over if need be when we leave here. There’s still some painting to do , but the weathers so hit and miss !

I made a rainbow heart hanging from some chopped wood I found in the woodland behind and left over paint.

So easy ! Just bleach your wood so it doesn’t split , then cut to a template , paint and string it onto a top piece. It’s held up so well over summer and through all the recent storms.

I painted these super cute tin planters I found on amazon , lined them with cardboard so not to burn the plant roots in the hot sun , and planted them with my favourite lavenders I use for making heat bags in the winter 🙂

Have you been out in the garden this year ?

DIY WOVEN SHELF TUTORIAL

Hey lovely people in my computer !

I’m back with yet another home decor DIY ( I will get round to sewing again soon , promise ! these face coverings are keeping my machine too busy these days ! )

I fell in love with an amazing boho circle shelf online , but gah ! it was so far out of my budget I just couldn’t justify it. ( £125 FOR A SHELF ! EEEK ! )

So in true DIY style I decided to make one ! .

I used a plain black shelf from the range for just £15 and some raffia I had left over from my mirror project (HERE)

GEMMA’S DIY BOHO CIRCLE SHELF – FEATURING CANDLES FROM THORNBUSH HILL
DIY BOHO SHELF BY GEMMA STITCH

I am so so pleased with the way it turned out , you can’t even tell it’s homemade ! hurrah !

Wanna know how to make it…..

DIY BOHO WOVEN CIRCLE SHELF.

You will need :

A CIRCLE SHELF FRAME – I used a super cheap one from the range.

RAFFIA – I used about 500grams and had a little left over , you can get it online or from a florist.

GLUE GUN & GLUE STICKS

That’s it !

Ok , so let’s take a look at the frame. It’s very basic , but sturdy enough. I jumped right in and went ahead with the weaving , and then realised you would still see the black wires in the middle section… gah ! So I undid it and wrapped the centre wires first.

I used my trusty glue gun to seal each end , and wrapped two strands of raffia around the middle poles – I did this roughly as I knew it would be enough under the weaving.

Then , I started the weaving , in and out , over and under. It get’s tricky at some points where the shelves meet , but a little bodge with some glue here and there and it’s not noticeable at all.

Just keep weaving ! It’s fab to do in front of a box set…. Every time I got to the end of the raffia I glued it to the back side ring , and started again. I tried lot’s of different weaving in , slipknot joins etc but they all left lot’s of small flyaway strands I knew would drive me crazy , so glue gun to the rescue !

I could have left it there , to be honest , but the black wire stood out too much for me. I wrapped the centre vertical poles in raffia and glued it on.

I didn’t like the shelf edges , they were cheap unfinished MDF. So I plaited some raffia , and glued it on to the front and side edge of the shelf part.

DIY RAFFIA BOHO CIRCLE SHELF BY GEMMA STITCH

A few snips of flyaway bits , a little more glue and ta da ! done !

I did debate adding some cane fabric to the back of the shelf , to add a little more detail , but it’s on a blank white wall so I thought it was ok as it was.

HANDMADE RAFFIA CIRCLE SHELF BY GEMMA STITCH

Such a simple little upgrade , but so fun !

It’s the perfect place to stash my new favourite candles too…

A few weeks ago I asked a lovely group of mum friends about what candles they use . I love Yankee but they make my nose itch and leave black marks alll over my white walls. A friend suggested I try thornbush hill and oh my word ! I am converted …They are not only vegetable wax , but beautifully scented … they are my new secret pleasure !

(My own opinions – not an ad … but ya know if you wanted to send me some others to try out….. 😉 ….. hehehe )

Til next time….

Tea & jammy dodgers ,

Gems x

DIY Prym kit mask tutorial

Hey everyone !

Today I wanted to share with you guys these awesome PRYM DIY mask kits !

As lot’s of you know , I have been making hundreds of face coverings these past few weeks on sale via our sewing school website . Over the last few weeks I have had lot’s and lot’s of requests for a tutorial to sew your own , and when I saw these awesome Prym Sewing kits I just HAD to share them with you all 🙂

Each kit comes with four pieces of ready cut fabric , elastic and metal nose clips plus some instructions.

Now the instructions are multi lingual and just a few images , which I know a lot of you guys find tricky to follow.

So I’ve taken a few photos and made a short tutorial for you below 🙂

You will need :

Your Prym Mask Kit

A measuring tape or ruler

Your sewing machine ( although you could totally make these by hand sewing)

A safety Pin , some wonder clips and an Iron.

Ok , so fold your fabric in half ( check the measurements on your instructions card).

Put the metal nose piece in the middle and draw around it , leaving a gap around the outside. Now , slide the metal piece INSIDE the folded fabric and use some clips to hold it tight. Stitch around your drawn box as above.

There we go , one nose piece.

Now on the bottom of our rectangle you will see we have two edges.

With some clips and an iron , fold those two edges inwards like the photos below to create a hem .

Now do the same on the other edge , so the top and bottom long edges of our mask has a hem.

Fold the whole thing over , so they touch , and re clip them together ( so the good sides of the fabric are facing you , and the wrong sides are touching).

Stitch !

Yay ! Nearly there now…

Next we need to make casings for the sides for the elastic to slide through.

Fold the edge fabric in and then over again using the measurements on your instruction sheet. Give them an Iron and stitch along the inside . Repeat on the other side

Last bit ! Thread your elastic through the channels you just made using a safety pin ,tie to size and slide the knot inside …now wear your mask ! and make the other three !

HAPPY SEWING EVERYONE ❤

GEMMA STITCH 🙂

DIY Raffia Boho mirror

Hey lovelies !

Ive been making over the rainbow house main bedroom the past few weeks

(can you believe its been a YEAR since we moved here ! A YEAR ! )

It has a very ‘me’ boho vibe , lots of lovely handmade quilts , bits and bobs I love and it’s very natural.

During a little online shop sale surf I fell in love with an extremely expensive mirror….

I mean ££££ . And… as my mantra goes…. I can totally make that !

I already had two mirrors in boho style I had picked up in charity shops over the years , and I needed a focal point mirror for above the bed , that wasn’t too heavy and was  pre teen door slamming proof .

Here’s my version…

And it cost me…. drumroll please…… £11 ………..Yup , thats all.

Here’s how I made it…

YOU WILL NEED :

RAFFIA – I have lot’s of this as I use it at Christmas for wreaths , you can pick it up online or at a local florist. I used about 400 grams.

MIRROR : I used a cheap acrylic mirror I found online as I didn’t want it to be too heavy.

FLORAL RING : Cheap as chips , you could use any hoop really ! embroidery hoop , old lampshade ring , wreath ring….

A little of my favourite glue gun … but normal strong glue would also work.

IMG_8014

Ok , unravel that raffia and let’s get started !

Top tip : If you are using coloured raffia WEAR GLOVES. I made a blue wreath once.. had blue hands for weeks !

Cut some raffia into about 20 cm length and gather a few strands in your hand.

Pop it under the ring , and then pull it through , slip knot style. Make sure to pull it TIGHT. If a strand is sticking out , tug on the ends of the raffia until you find it and tighten it.

Keep going !

Don’t worry about lengths matching – you will need to trim it at the end.

Keep going until you’ve covered the whole wreath.

Pop your mirror underneath , and then trim your raffia to the size you want.

If your raffia is super curly or frizzy , pop some low heat straightens over it 😉

Hot glue the mirror to the BACK .

I added a little plait to the front , I gathered up some long strips of raffia , tied them and then plaited until I had enough , adding in more strips of raffia as they got short.  I used my glue gun to stick it to the front of the mirror edge.

Add a loop to the back…. and you are done !

The possibilities are endless eh ?

 

Thanks for reading and Happy making :*

Jam & coconut loaf cake

Hey everyone !

Well that little hot spell of weather didn’t last very long did it ! It’s finally started raining here in not so sunny wales , and after a few days of being too hot to cook & eat it’s finally cool enough to bake… and this cake is just the job !

 

This year I’ve been giving lot’s of my home grown veggies to  friends who have been shielding the past few months , we’ve done some swapping along the way , and this week I was given a whole bunch of these tiny Jam pots from the shielding food boxes a neighbour friend has been receiving from the local council. (He hates Jam ! but the kids love the stuff )

My first thought was aha ! Jam Tarts all round… but when I opened the baking cupboard a pack of coconut fell on my head , and well I’m calling that fate…. So I made a Jam & coconut loaf cake instead.. It’s sooo yummy ! When I posted photos on my social media pages lot’s of lovely friends & followers asked for the recipe… so I found my scribbled random notes … and once again I’ve tried to translate them into something that makes sense…. and of course… I HAD to make another cake for my neighbour anyway…… *licks lips*

GEMMAS JAM & COCONUT LOAF CAKE

Ingredients :

JAM ! raspberry , strawberry , even blackberry will work  – You need around 10 table spoons

150G Butter – I use clover  – it’s buttermilk really but gives my bakes a lovely softness

150G Caster Sugar – Golden , regular – anything will do.

260G Plain Flour

1 Teaspoon of vanilla if you have it… no biggie if not.

3 Free range Eggs ( medium )

1 teaspoon of baking powder

120G of coconut

5 Tablespoons of milk ( or a glug ya know what I’m like.. )

BAKING : Use a 2lb loaf tin , a cake tin , a muffin pan… anything goes with this recipe.

METHOD.

  1. Pop the oven on 180 c , grease the pan you are going to use.
  2. In a bowl add the butter , sugar and vanilla and whisk until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the coconut and whisk a little longer.
  4. Add Eggs , Milk and whisk .. as you go spoon in the baking powder and flour spoon by spoon .
  5. Pour 1/3 of the mixture into the pan. Add 7-8 tablespoons of jam on top – dot it around. Then pour the rest of the mix on top.
  6. Bang it in the oven and ask alexa to set a timer for 35 mins.. ( just me ? ) and then dance around the kitchen licking the spoon and cleaning alllll the millions of spoons you’ve used for no reason.
  7. When the timer goes off… take the cake out .. sniff and inhale the goodness…. then put foil on top and put it back in the oven for another 25 mins .
  8. When the cake has finished cooking leave it to cool down…. I pop a tea towel over the top of mine to keep it *moist* ( sorry if you hate that word – but it’s true – it works ! )

When the cake is fully cooled , spread the remaining jam onto the top and sprinkle with coconut. Let set and then yum yum in ya tum it goes :p

So soft and so delicious ! Not to mention super easy.

( Little Tip : While I am baking cakes , I always pop the empty egg shells in a dish and bake them on the bottom shelf – smash them up when cooked and cooled and they are great for keeping slugs off my dahlias ! )

Hope you like 🙂

Gems x

 

Console table DIY update

Hey everyone ! Hope you are not all melting out there , it’s sooo hot isn’t it ?

I have FINALLY got round to finishing my little upcycle of a cheap little console table from amazon , and I thought I would share it with you guys 🙂

IMG_7625

I bought this little cheap unit on amazon a while back , fully intending to frenchic it blue  after i couldn’t find a dressing table I liked anywhere , but it just didn’t feel ME enough 🙂

(I still might paint it…. but for now I am happy with the finished article )

I bought some crystal knobs online  for the drawers , used some old cheap hamper baskets I painted with Frenchic Heavenly Blue in the lazy range for my shoes ( ok some of them – I *may* have a shoe hoarding issue) and I used good old mod podge and some pretty paper for the inside of the drawers.

Not bad for a quick update ! and my heirloom pomanders finally have somewhere to hang without toddler fingers getting at them 🙂

I’ve been collecting these , rather randomly for years and years. I always remove the pot pourri as it can pong a bit being so old and give them a good clean but you can pick them up cheaply at boot fairs & charity shops often enough . They are not to everyones taste I know , but I find them quite sweet and they remind me of my early childhood cottage days.

I can’t wait to fill those drawers with crap ! hooray !

Thanks for reading :*

 

Gems x

UNIT : AMAZON

RECYCLED WRAPPING PAPER : CRANBERRY CARDS.CO.UK

CRYSTAL KNOBS : EBAY

PAINT : FRENCHIC – LAZY RANGE – HEAVENLY BLUE FROM NO26

MIRROR : THE RANGE

PLANT : MONSTERA GROWN FROM A CUTTING !

BASKETS : OLD HAMPER BASKETS WITH BELT PARTS REMOVED

GLASS & WOOD BOX – HANDMADE BY VERY TALENTED SONS GRANDMOTHER 🙂