Thursday, 2 January 2014

Homemade labels for your handmade pretties

I have always loved the paraphernalia that comes with taking up a hobby.  As a child my great-grandmother taught me to embroider and I kept a beautiful sewing box with all of my embroidery floss and patterns stored nicely stored inside.  As a teenager, I chose to study art and loved collecting the tools of the trade; the pencils, paints and technical drawing pens for my creations.

This year I have fallen for sewing again in a big way and have found that there are never-ending ways in which to stock up on supplies.  I love it.  Glass-headed pins, safety pins, sharps needles, quilting needles, gold eye needles, pretty (and functional) scissors... sigh... I love it all.  And don't get me started on the fabric.  (I am currently amidst a very intense stash-building mission and I take my missions very seriously.)  I seem to have developed a particular passion for pin cushions, needle cases and embroidery scissors.  I had been wanting to make some needle cases for a while and decided to make a couple as Christmas gifts for the lovely crafty folk in my life.  I made two and packaged both of them up to be opened on Christmas Day.  I was delighted with the results but started to wish that I'd made one for myself.  It was niggling at me all over Christmas and yesterday I decided to just blinking make one.  Just for me. 

Red is my favourite colour and so, unsurprisingly, I have lots of red/pink mix fabrics in my scrap stash and I found a few odd bits that were the perfect size to make these needle cases.  The pattern is from A Passion for Quilting (great book - you *need* it).  You basically just cut a piece of base fabric to size and then piece together the fabric scraps, attaching them to the base fabric, one by one (I think the method is called Foundation Piecing but please correct me below if I'm wrong).  

Inspired by another pattern in one of my other [many] patchwork books, I made a little label for the front.  

Despite being a stickler for proper grammar, I do love to make labels without a capital letter in sight.  Feels rebellious.
I bought some printable cotton from Amazon and set about designing some labels in Word.  I used the auto format for address labels because I knew that I wanted to make some very small labels and [at £12 for 5 sheets] I wanted to be sure to use every inch of space on the fabric that I possibly could!  I did a test run on regular A4 paper and when I was happy I printed straight to the fabric.  It's basically a thin cotton fabric attached to a thin sheet of card.  I have an ordinary Hewlett Packard inkjet printer and it worked perfectly.  When you've given the ink a few minutes to dry you just peel the backing from the fabric and cut each piece to size.  Easy peasy.  It is, of course, possible to print onto other fabric that you baste to a piece of card and I totally plan to give that a whirl some other time.  It would be cheaper but, more importantly, give way to even more options for the finished item.

I began by making some gifts for Izzie's teachers.  I made lavender hearts for them from Christmassy fabric and sewed on labels saying 'Happy Christmas, love from Izzie x' on them.  I printed a few of these labels at the same time and so I still have some for next year if I need them.  Whilst printing, I fiddled around with fonts and sizing to get the exact look I was after.  The beauty of preparing them on your own computer means that you can print them in any colour, size or style that your heart may desire! I know that some people use the fabric for printing photographs and using that fabric for personalised cushions.  The possibilities are endless!  I like the simplicity of an old-fashioned typewriter font (I mostly used American Typewriter or Courier) and made lots of different sized 'homebird' labels for future projects.  I couldn't resist it and attached one on the back of my needle case... 

I should point out here that I attended a Julie Arkell brooch-making class at the beginning of September and my makes to date have been very much inspired by her.  This needle case is made from a selection of new and vintage fabrics and is supposed to be a bit scruffy and scrappy-looking.  Honest!  The vintage fabrics have the odd perforation where they were previously sewn and you can just see from this picture that the fabric with the basket of roses has a small scuff at the very top.  I like it this way and tried to sew the labels roughly so that it has a 'loved' appearance rather than seeming brand spanking new.  

I gave them as gifts with a selection of cute pins that I sourced on Facebook and Etsy.  They aren't especially practical but are very pretty and there's a little room in all of our lives for beautiful but useless things I reckon. 

Pretty pins from Teeny Tiny Vintage; find her on Facebook

My beloved Jessie Chorley pin cushion bought at the Selvedge Winter Fair, home for pretty beaded pins from Etsy.
I love the printed fabric that Jessie Chorley uses for her creations and I am going to try printing some vintage labels onto fabric to achieve a similar look.  Hope Jessie doesn't mind.  (I'm going to one of her classes at Hope & Elvis in June so I will run it past her then.  Ha!)

For Christmas, I asked Santa for an oilskin sewing roll from Merchant & Mills that I had been coveting for, like, ever.

I must have been good because there it was, lovingly wrapped, under the tree on Christmas Day.  I think it is my favourite gift.  I love it (*said with clenched teeth and fists*).  It is so beautifully utilitarian (almost an oxymoron).  So tactile and so old-fashioned.  

It came filled with a tape measure, wide bow scissors, a selection of needles and a box of pins.  I have bought lots from Merchant & Mills here and there.  I love their styling and, although a bit spenny, their products are really well made.  You definitely get what you pay for. 

This sewing roll has ignited a burning desire for an apron in the same oilskin with big tradesman-style pockets.  And maybe I ought to wear some small half-moon wire-rimmed glasses.  Like Gepetto, but a seamstress, not a carpenter.  Yes, that's exactly the look I'm after.  I've always loved Gepetto.




  1. I love the needle case--it's lush. And I had no idea that such an amazing thing as printable cotton existed!! What a marvellous invention.

  2. Big fan of Merchant and Mills too. Your labels turned out very lovely indeed!

  3. How lovely! your labels look lovely too x

  4. Happy New Year - so glad to see you back blogging! xx

  5. Love M and Mills too! I am totally with you on the industrial apron look, just a goldsmith's one for me. I should really have a leather one because of all the flames I work with, but haven't got one yet. Metalsmithery and flowers, maybe I'm just in it for the aprons!! xx