Sunday 31 August 2014

Little Things to Sew: Cover to Cover Challenge - I made it.

Remember last October, when I announced I was going to go all the way and invited you to come along for the ride?
Well, I've done it. I've sewn my way through Little Things To Sew.

I broke my sewing machine on Thursday (don't ask me how, it may have something to do with sewing over pins all the time), so I hand to hand sew my final project.

That wasn't so awful as it was a gorgeous Spring weather here and so while the kids did laps of the pump track on their bikes, and Flipper took photos, I sat on the grass in the sunshine and made my little bear puppet.

The kids quickly named him Olaf and gave him a bit of a personality, which I'm afraid may be wholesale plagiarised from Frozen. (as an aside: is it bad that my daughter has been invited to a Frozen themed party and I have NO desire to make a costume? In fact I'm thinking a small size pair of blue dishwashing gloves will suffice!)

Anyway, Olaf and I got chatting and he decided to interview me, in the same manner that I've interviewed the other sewers who have completed my Cover to Cover Challenge so far.

But first he wanted to go home and have a series of photos taken so that he could dominate the interview with his cutaways (Also known as "noddies" Current affairs satire here in case you'd rather watch that than read the interview ;) )

Q: As a sewer, what was your favourite project in the book?

A: From the sewing aspect, it would have to be a tie between the Art Smock and the Explorer Vest.

The Art Smock has lovely French seam finishes, comes together so quickly and easily but ends up being a really well finished project.

The Explorer Vest is much more like home territory as it's really kid's garment sewing. The pockets are all neatly constructed and the topstitching makes it very satisfying and professional looking.

Q: Which project was the favourite from the kid's point of view?

A: They're not here to ask right now, but for the large part it's been the most recent. You're looking pretty popular right now, little bear.

Some projects are used rarely but always bring joy. The Puppet Theater is the best example, they love it, but just tend to forget to get it out.

The Penguin Backpack is in very regular use as A's daycare bag. P is wearing some Mittens for the cold morning rides to school. I've made countless numbers of Bucket Hats and they come out for the whole summer season, and during winter P has loved having his Travel Quilt on his bed. I'd say there haven't been any dud projects!

Q: Were there any projects that you found difficult or got stuck on? If so, why?

There were only two that cause me any real grief. The first was the No-Tie Scarf. I am perhaps a bit too literal when it comes to the written word, and when the instructions said to "turn inside out" something  that I'd just sewn right sides together, I became baffled. It already is inside out, I decried...

As it happened you turn it right side out, and yes, I was being a bit pedantic. If it helps anyone else I've made four in total now and will have a tutorial for the Pencil scarf on the Oliver + S blog soon.
The other project that caused me trouble was my first Messenger Bag. That was purely down to my choice of fabric. Not far from our house is a canvas awning manufacturer and I'd asked them for some Kevlar strength offcuts to patch the knees of P's pants. They gave me enough to make the bag, so I did. Man that was tough to sew. I bent countless pins, broke a few needles, and finally the light bulb blew and I finished it off sewing the bias binding after midnight in the dark. It's a really cute bag, and worked well as a kindy bag for P.

My second Messenger Bag went together much better using a standard canvas fabric. However I found the pocket flaps ran a bit small so I redrafted and recut them. It was a gift and I was happy to recently see that it's been getting daily use.
Q: Were there any projects that you wouldn't have made except for the Cover to Cover Challenge and the need to make them all? Which one(s)?

Oh, wow.....

This is awkward {long pause}....

You know, now that you're here little bear, we all really like you and couldn't imagine our family without you in it.

......But I guess you have to understand there was a reason why you came last.

Don't be sad. Like everything I've made from Little Things to Sew, even if I was ho-hum at the start, I've been delighted with the end result. I've drafted off the larger size Bear Puppet pattern too, so I thought I might make you a mum and a dad one day. How'd you like that?

That's better.

Q: Would you be happy, uninterested or horrified if there was ever a Little Things To Sew Volume II? 

Possibly all three emotions at once! I'd be really happy 'cause I know they'd be cute projects. I'd be completely uninterested in sewing them right now, but I know I'd have to buy the book straightaway anyway. I'm a bit horrified at the thought, as, knowing me, I'm sure I'd end up making everything just for the sake of the challenge all over again. Mostly, I think it would be great!

Q: And finally, what's next? 

Right now I'm looking at an unfinished Newcastle Cardigan that just needs buttonholes. That Thread Theory pattern was an absolute delight to sew. Having been brought up (in a sewing sense) on Oliver + S instructions I can't say enough good things about the Thread Theory pattern.

But, I need the sewing machine back from the repair shop to finish that. The kids then want to make Flipper a painted t-shirt for father's day, and I've had an idea for a completely overlocked raglan dress for A. I want to play with my overlocker and try to make it look like a flatlocked seam.

I suspect I may have pledged some bias-trimmed aprons and oven mitts for the School fete cake stall table.... (oh dear)

So, there we go. The Cover to Cover Challenge has come to an end for me.

But what about you? Well, I have no idea what time zone any of you live in, so I'm leaving the official finish time to some time after every possible spot has seen out the end of August 2014. For those of you in French Polynesia or little US island outposts, you have heaps of time. I hope all the Samoans have sewn their last stitch already!

I'll be back in a day or two with the final PDF scoreboard and then we'll draw the winner of the Fabric Stash gift voucher shortly after. By the way, if you don't like your odds in the lucky prize draw, you could just go shop at the Fabric Stash right now as there's a Labour Day weekend sale on!

Here's my collage of images of (nearly) all my Little Things to Sew projects. If you don't already have this sewing book, what can I say?... you should.


  1. Congratulations! Well done you on completing the challenge and organising it so well for everyone. I am way behind but still hope to get finished one day. The bear puppet was low on my priority list too, but having seen how cute this one turned out it's jumped a few steps up in the rankings.
    Re: Frozen costume, perhaps it's not such a bad thing that your sewing machine has broken at this very moment? It could have been the thought of blue spangles and tulle that tipped it over the edge.

    1. Sewing machine suicide you reckon? Sounds reasonable!
      Thanks for the kind words, the puppet is cute and was quite nice to do as a hand sewing project after all.

  2. Wow - I am impressed - the whole book is a good effort, no wonder your sewing machine was feeling a bit tired - I've made a few bucket hats,the cape and the doll carrier - messenger bag is next on my list.

    1. Thanks squirrel! Have you added your photos to the Flickr pool? I'd love to see your projects.

  3. Well done, it all looks fabulous.

  4. Well done on everything and I just love this interview, it sure has made me smile this morning! (great interview and photos to go with it!!) Congratulations on sewing everything from book and Olaf is pretty cute too.

    1. Thank you Sharon. He's quite the reporter isn't he? I think that's the real genius behind these projects - we all love to play with them!

  5. Bravo! You must have a huge sense of accomplishment. Very cute interview :) Thanks so much for bringing the online sewing community together and organizing this LLTS challenge.

    1. Thank you. It does feel good to finish a challenge you set for yourself. Does Liesl know how many people want to see a volume 2? ;)

  6. Cute! That interview was great :) I am impressed with your perseverance. I've had the book for years and have only sewed one thing *blush*.

    1. Thanks. trust me, there are plenty of other half done things lying around,. Some of them are sewing books, some are important tasks that I really need to get back to! Next time you need a kid's birthday gift pull the book out, you'll be surprised how many good ideas are in there.

  7. Yay congratulations Shelley! That is so fantastic. I am really impressed with the effort! Hope you are breaking open a bottle of bubbles or doing something special to celebrate :) And thanks again for creating this challenge for other people to enjoy too! I am sure I am not the only one to say that the Flickr group and reading everyone else's posts have inspired me.

    PS We are painting t-shirts for Fathers Day too!

    1. Thank you. you know I didn't think of a celebratory drink (must have been sick!) Would it be wrong to have popped champagne for this if I'd forgotten my last wedding anniversary?!

  8. Congratulations!!!! I love all of your projects and laughed while reading this entire post. I do hope they come out with another book. I have been thinking what a great value the book is as I am about to make a second backpack from it. I would prefer if it came out at the same time (or a week later) that I finish all the projects from the first book.

    1. Stay in the groove and just keep going huh? Spoken like a real endurance sewer. I'm glad you're getting your money's worth!

  9. I am beyond impressed! All the projects look fantastic and that little Olaf sure is a cutie! High five!

  10. I literally laughed out loud when I read this. Especially "which project would you not have made..." hahaha.

    Way to go, Shelley! You rocked the challenge!


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