When I saw on Craft Blog UK that Hillarys Blinds had launched a competition for craft bloggers, I thought it would be the ideal chance to throw myself into a sewing project for the first time in... well, about a year! The brief was simple - choose a sample from their new Country Retreats fabric range, make an original design, and write a blog post about it.
This beautiful fabric, 'Bird Parade' leapt out at me straight away, especially as it would give me the perfect excuse to make and paint a peacock button to go with it, so all I needed was to decide what to make.
The next day I was at work - I work in a large college - and it was pouring with rain. We sell Pink Pig sketchbooks (made in Huddersfield - I love them), and I was trying to find a large carrier bag for a student, who was upset that her portfolio had not only got wet, but was getting repeatedly bent at the corners from being carried back and forth to college every day. I'd just stocked up on fresh sketchbooks myself the day before, and so it hit me - I'd make an A3 sketchbook folder, to protect my Pink Pig when out and about!
So I used my shiny new Pink Pig to sketch out a design...
...And visited my local market to buy delicious ribbon and cotton thread. As I was waiting to pay I admired a huge carousel of stunning embroidery threads, and it gave me an idea for adding embellishment to the back of the folder.
Using my sketchbook as a guide, I cut my peacock fabric and the inside grey cotton to size. The Hillarys fabric was already nice and thick, so I just added fusible interfacing to the lining fabric, and then used spray starch to give both pieces some extra structure.
Someone decided to 'help', of course!
Before I could start sewing I needed to add the embellishment to what would become the back of the folder. I settled on a large, sweeping peacock feather design. This is where I was nearly defeated, because it turned from what I thought would be a couple of hours' worth of embroidery into fourteen hours' work over the space of two days! I was worried I wouldn't be able to finish the project before the deadline, but I took my embroidery hoop to work with me and put my lunch breaks to good use.
After that there was lots of pinning, a bit of arm flapping as I got nervous about running the fabric through my sewing machine, and eventually the project came together. I made the button and enjoyed using fluorescent blue paints to give Mr. Peacock a bit of grandeur.
I added a magnetic popper as a fastening, which was interesting as I've never used one before...
I knew I wanted to add quite a bold rosette to the front of the piece to make it look like the feathers on my handmade button were extending outwards. The latest issue of Mollie Makes provided me with an idea for making a rosette out of felt, so with a little improvisation I had what I wanted.
I gave the finished folder a last spray of starch so it can easily be wiped clean.
Phew! It was great to get stuck into a sewing project for the first time in a while, and it was good to remind myself of the importance of taking my time in ironing and re-ironing my fabrics, measuring, and paying attention to getting nice straight hems - something I've always struggled with! I love using bird and animal motifs in my crafts so using one of my buttons allowed me to add in some extra personality.
Now my beloved Pink Pig sketchbook won't be getting wet and bent next time I'm on the move!
You can see the other fabrics that were available to choose from for the competition here.
Have a crafty week!