Archive for March, 2015

Sewing: drawstring bags for Beads of Courage

Sewing updates, after my post on UK Scrapstores. Here’s what I’ve done with some of the fabric.

I started off by cutting out some bits from solid-colour samples and appliquéing them onto a white cotton background. (Probably should have ironed it a few more times in between and/or sewed more carefully – I have a bit of gathering in my white).


Then I made it into a drawstring bag, using the pattern at LoveMeSew.


That pattern is made from a single piece of fabric and has a gap at one side for the drawstring. The bag with the squares was made using the same pattern, but is kinda big! This is because I looked at the BCCA instructions for sizes, and it asks for two 9×12″ pieces of fabric, so I went “Oh, since I’m using a single piece, twice that is 18×24 inches”. No, no it isn’t.

It looks nice though!

The BoC pattern is a two-drawstring bag with a lining, which LoveMeSew has also done a pattern for, so next I made this one:


I used the white cotton for the lining and the same square pattern fabric for the outside. It’s pretty solid-feeling once you have both layers! All the hems are tucked away between the layers, so it looks well-finished too.

You can see I’ve also sewn on the BoC and BCCA badges for these bags. (Be Child Cancer Aware will send you some if you’re going to make them bags – you can contact them on FB).

For my next trick, I’m going to try BCCA’s pattern for the bags – the LoveMeSew one involves sewing the linings together and the outers together, so you have a fully closed tube with lining on one side and outer on the other, then you turn the whole thing inside-out through a little gap left in the lining and hand sew that closed at the end. The BCCA pattern has you sewing the lining and outer into tubes from the start and turning them back and forth – it was rather confusing, so I went through it with pinned fabric only and think I have a better idea. I will see how the time taken and finish compares, and which way I like better.

(I do have a tendency to sew front to back at least once when working on a tube…)

Anyway, so far I have only had to unpick a very few sections, and pricked my finger once when hand-sewing the badges on my first bag (I had them before making the second, so could do that one by machine). Success!

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CiM colour testing: French Grey and Tortoise

French Grey


This is a gorgeous colour – a bluish grey that isn’t entirely opaque. CiM have it described as an opalino – it’s less opalino than some. From the rod you assume it’s opaque, when working it remains looking surprisingly transparent, then when it comes out you have a slight softness to the surface (and a lot of lovely mottling, for me anyway!)


Spacers: the right two are etched. The darker spacers had more glass added right at the end and not struck so much – it goes lighter, bluer and more opaque the more it is worked.


The gremlin has come out similarly: not very much difference from the longer working time – the lips are lighter and the mottling is less visible on them.


This egg got plenty of mottling while being worked. The stripe is Effetre white, which has feathered into the grey and started swallowing the thin caboose stripe. The dots are tortoise and have kept crisp edges though have reacted in the centres. (French grey is an excellent egg colour! Adds all the interest itself).



I know a lot of people were intrigued by this one! Described as a blue canyon de chelly and with the ability to strike different shades.


My spacers came out different shades, but mostly on the green side. Etches fine and is pretty that way.


My gremlin has more variation, with that blue-purple that came out in the middle of the lips! The eyelid tends a little more to blue as well.

This needs testing with silver glass as well, to see what happens there.


This egg is a base of caboose (no devit issues this time) over 006 with tortoise dots – they’ve stayed lovely and sharp on top, without very much variation.

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CiM colour testing: Aladdin and Boysenberry

Two purples here – both a similar colour but with different saturations. They’re both described by CiM as moonstones, so have a little bit of mistiness and aren’t entirely transparent.




The two spacers on the right are etched – you can see they didn’t etch well in the time I left them in, when it was fine for the opaques coming later. This wasn’t entirely surprising, as it tends to happen with moonstones and more transparent opalinos. In hand you can see more easily the slight mistiness of the moonstone.


I made a gremlin – the body has a core of clear, so lightening it up a bit. This gremlin has been experimenting with cosmetics! I added some Gaffer purpur frit on the lips to prevent the teeth showing through, because this colour isn’t dark enough to block that.


This egg has a stripe of Aladdin round the centre – that was a couple of wraps, allowed to melt down and spread. It’s a low saturation with a shadowy edge. (The other colours are caboose and chamomile – chamomile is yellower over the white, and something in the heating and rolling of the surface has made caboose misbehave somewhat with slight devit).



The more saturated moonstone. I had a thicker rod of this, which may have had something to do with it, but I found this one pretty shocky and kept losing chunks when I was carefully rewarming it. It seems to lose heat relatively quickly too, so make sure you’re keeping your bead warm.


Boysenberry again doesn’t etch well, and is really dark when used as spacers. You can still tell they’re purple rather than black, but only just. It’s a good berry colour.


This gremlin again has a clear core, and you can see slightly that it lightens the body. No problem with being able to see through the lips here!


This egg is Effetre white with small and large dots of boysenberry, allowed to move with the heating and shaping. You can see the difference in saturation between the different dot types – the small ones have spread a lot more – and the white has formed separation lines between the dots.


Here’s the two colours side-by-side, so you can see the difference in saturation.



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UK Scrapstores!

Sample book contains a rainbow!

Sample book contains a rainbow!

This post has been sitting here awaiting the photos for a month or more, so here we are!

I decided I’d get round to getting a sewing machine this year.

I recently joined the Wandsworth Work & Play Scrapstore ( A friend of mine volunteers there.

It’s a rummageable cave full of crafting goodies of all types. I was looking for fabric specifically, so came home with a whole pile of fabric: some bigger bits of cotton, some nice patterned pieces, some small matching bundles and several sample books of interesting and brightly-coloured stuff. There’s a whole mixture of things available, from high end prints to blackout material. The fabric is mostly intended for upholstery, but there’s a smaller section for dressmaking fabric and very helpful ladies who know what’s what. (And tbh, some of the upholstery material would be fine for making clothes from anyway!)

Small fabric bundles

Small fabric bundles

They have loads of all sorts of other stuff: white card, rolls of wallpaper, colour-coordinated boxes of plastic lids… There’s a section with loads of Christies auction books, and for people who do book art there are green and gold bound Dickens novels and the like.

For this store, you pay an annual membership and can then take as much as you like during that time. Some things are limited on the amount you can have per visit. You can join as a student, a family or a larger organisation like a school. Or speak to them if you’re not sure you fit in the categories. The rule for this store is that everything has to be for personal use – you cannot sell it or things made from it. Yearly membership for individuals is tiny: £36 for a family, and there was a 20% discount when I joined. (They have a static year rather than a rolling one right now, so my membership is until the end of August). They want more members so tell anyone you think might be interested!

Shiny samples

Shiny samples

For their records, you give them an estimate of the value of everything you’re walking out with (they help with this). We reckoned I had at the very least £150-worth of fabric I was lugging out with me, and that was probably on the low side.

To get there: From Wimbledon station, you can get the 493 bus from stop A on Alexandra Road and go 7 stops in very short order which deposits you right outside (Hazelhurst Estate stop). It isn’t immediately obvious: on exiting the bus, turn left and go a few meters along until there’s a driveway. Turn up that and walk to the gap between buildings: they had a sandwich board up there and the entrance is just on the left. You may need to buzz. Children under 12 aren’t allowed to go among the stacks (potentially hazardous) so would need to stay in the entrance. Open Tues and Thurs only.

Remnant with lovely embroidered flower

Remnant with lovely embroidered flower

There are scrapstores all over the place, have a look at They are each run individually, so have different rules for membership or whether they have members at all.

Because of the opening hours I can only go there when I’m on holiday, but since it was more than worth it for one visit, that’s not really a problem!

Sample book

Sample book

I am intending to begin by making some bags for Beads of Courage UK: the kids need bags to keep their long strings of treatment beads in, and it seemed a handy and fairly simple project to begin with. I like this tutorial: How to make a simple drawstring bag from Love Me Sew.

One of the brighter-pattened fabrics

One of the brighter-pattened fabrics

As of now, I’ve washed and ironed various of the fabrics I bought. Yes, I had to buy an iron and ironing board for this. (Aside: I could get an Argos value iron on sale for £2.99. The only ironing board I could find was from TK Maxx at £24.99 and has a 10-year guarantee! Insert something about disposable electronics here. The board is rather nice though, adjustable with plenty of height).

Remnants with another embroidered piece

Remnants with another embroidered piece

My sewing machine is a nice hefty metal-bodied secondhand Frister & Rossmann Model 35. No bells and whistles, but I wanted one that wasn’t plastic and would do a small number of things reliably to begin with. I’ve been making friends with it by trying out all the stitch adjustment options, rethreading the machine in white (came with black), filling a new bobbin and overcasting the edges of my fabric so it doesn’t fray. (Which is actually a decent exercise to get used to using your machine and controlling the speed, going in a straight line etc).

Sample book with a few leaf patterns (mostly solid colour)

Sample book with a few leaf patterns (mostly solid colour)

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CiM colour testing: Chamomile and Caboose

I got a lovely big pile of new colours to test and then had kiln controller issues, which means so far I have only had time to try these two!



This colour surprised me! Look at the difference between the rod colour and (most of) the beads. Those spacers were batch annealed because of the aforementioned kiln problems, and before they went in the kiln they were much more like the rod colour – still swirly with transparent and less transparent areas, but a yellow ochre rather than a green ochre. The gremlin went into the kiln straight away, and they all came out like this! Which frankly I find far more interesting.


A spacer close-up: I etched the left two. I’m not what I did to the warmer-coloured one differently than the others – struck it less? The stripe round the middle suggests I added a small last amount of glass to match size with the previous one. (Which I did, though I couldn’t tell you with which bead).


End-on: those green variations make me happy! The rightmost bead in particular: I just find the distribution pleasing.


I made a gremlin with little red flowers. You can see it’s opaque enough as lips and eyelid, but there’s still glow and reflected light from transparent/translucent areas. The feet are yellower and more transparent – they were done towards the end, just before I added the vine, so they get much less in-and-out of the flame. There’s an area on top of the lip that’s gone yellow again too. That’s next to where I heated and raked a bit of the vine, so that’s consistent with it being the initial colour and the green developing as it strikes more, unless you reset it.

Overall, the swirliness and colour differences remind me of some of the Vetro odds, but a lighter, non-cored colour. I’d like some more, which I hadn’t thought I would from the rod alone.



This is a coral red. It does look slightly darker here under my halogen light than under incandescents or sunlight, but it doesn’t change nearly as much as some reds. It’s pretty uniform and not streaky, which can again be an unwanted issue with many opaque light reds.


Spacers, left two etched.


A little gremlin with steely blue flowers.


This one’s quite a small gremlin!

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