Beginner-friendly sewing ideas during lockdown

With the Great British Sewing Bee starting on the 22nd April and the majority of people in the world now living under some sort of lockdown, it makes sense that a lot of people will want to start sewing as a new way to pass the time.

A lot of people who have bought the isewlation labels have told me they’re starting out sewing or buying them as a gift for someone who is.

I’ve loved seeing how people are using them and wanted to share some fabulous examples and ideas here for anyone thinking of doing some sewing during lockdown. Whether you’re new to sewing or experienced hopefully you’ll find some fun ideas here!

1. Mask hairbands by Juliet Ozor

These are a genius idea and super quick and easy for all levels of sewers. I am making them for my friends who are health workers who tell me they are ok to use provided they withstand the hot wash needed to clean PPE. The labels being OEKO-tex quality, they are hardy and will also stand up to it.

You can follow Juliet’s example pattern here.

2. Eye mask by Tilly and the Buttons

Another quick and easy make and best of all, it’s free! These are another great gift idea for any key worker friends who work nights, or simply someone you want to let know you’re thinking of them.

The drawstring bag is another easy free pattern from the set by Simply Sewing. I’ve made a few of these sets using gorgeous Masai cotton I bought in Kenya earlier this year.

3. Scrub Bag

Emma aka The Zipper Foot used her labels to make a gorgeous scrub bag for her friend who is a nurse. There are lots of free patterns online for these bags as well as a Facebook group for people making PPE and related items during the pandemic. They’re really simple to do, but at the moment so useful.

4. Zipper purse

This is often one of the first patterns attempted by beginner sewers and I personally never tire of making them as there are so many ways to adapt them and make every one different! On this one I’ve just used a simple rectangle shape to make a lined purse but there is an excellent round up of all the patterns you can imagine here by the Sewing Loft Blog.

5. Toys and teddies for little ones

I recently made this Luna Lapin for a new baby. She’s wearing the t-shirt bow dress from the first book and a cardigan I drafted (read more about it here). Why not add a label to a teddy or knitted item you’re making?

6. Pin badge display

I’m a recent convert to pin badges and although there are so many fun ways to display them, on fabric is one of my favourites. I love this DIY pin badge banner tutorial from Polka Dot Chair – it’s simple, effective and a great project for beginners and a label would look great on it!

7. Teabag holder

This is such a cute idea and a great way to use fabric scraps. It also folds flat so would be easy to send to someone in an envelope if you wanted to add a label to them as an adorable gift! Free pattern here by The Sewing Directory.

8. Jam jar topper

My auntie’s friends have been making jam and dropping the jars off at each other’s doors which I think is a lovely way of telling someone you’re thinking of them. A jam jar topper is super easy and doesn’t even require machine sewing – just a bit of material, some ribbon, a label and a hairband and you’re set! Free pattern available here from Hobbycraft.

9. Sunglasses case

It’s pretty sunny out there and even though we can’t spend too long outside it’s still nice to have a sunglasses case to take with you out and about. A free pattern for this easy make is available here on Sew DIY and would make a lovely gift for someone, especially in a Liberty style fabric like this one.

10. On your own clothes!

I can’t believe how gorgeous the pieces are that people have been using the labels on. Sewing as we know is a calming, mindful hobby (except when holding a seam ripper) and making a garment or item from scratch is so rewarding in normal circumstances, never mind now. I especially love this Wiksten shift top from @rosieo. It’s a cult pattern with straightforward assembly and such an effective design.

I hope that this list has given you some ideas! I could go on (and on) but know at the moment everyone has a limited bandwidth for how many items they can sew right now (myself included) so these easy makes are a good way to practise your sewing skills and make something lovely.

Doll cardigan pattern

We all know of my deep affection for the Luna Lapin patterns by Sarah Peel. On her website she sells gorgeous patterns for knitted shawls and accessories but unfortunately I can’t knit! So, I’ve had a play with crochet and come up with the below pattern that would work for any doll, in my case I’ll use it for a Luna. This is my first crochet pattern I’ve ever shared with anyone, so please be kind if it doesn’t read well!

4ply baby yarn, 50g
Crochet hook size 2.5

ch = chain
HDC = half double crochet

Notes: The 2ch at the end of each row count as 1 HDC

Pattern for cardigan

R1 Ch 21

R2 2 HDC in second ch from hook. 18 HDC. 2 HDC in last ch. Ch2 (counts as HDC) Turn. (22)

R3 2 HDC in each HDC along. CH2, turn. (44)

R4 (in the following rows, start in 3rd ch from hook).*7HDC, Ch 1. HDC in same stitch* repeat once. 14 HDC, ch 1, HDC in same stitch. 7HDC, ch1, HDC in same stitch. 7 HDC. Ch2, turn.

R5 – 11 Continue as above, HDC in all st and stitching 1HDC, ch1, HDC in each V. Ch2 at the end of each row, turn (counts as HDC)

R12-16 HDC in each stitch along. Ch 2. Turn.

R17 Scallop stitch along bottom edge. This consists of: ch1, 3HDC in 2nd HDC on row. Slip stitch in next stitch. *Ch 1, skip one HDC, 3 HDC in next HDC. Slip stitch in next HDC* Repeat ** til end.

R17 (contd). sc along the edges and neckline until reaching the start of your scallop stitch.

Dress your chosen doll in a darling cardigan!

The hoppiest Easter Bunny: Luna Lapin

Have you ever found a pattern that makes your heart beat faster than a rabbit? As soon as you see it your mind starts whirring with the possibilities and you are already trying to cancel every social engagement you have over the next few weeks in order to hide yourself away with it and sew.

For my mum and I, it was Luna Lapin. Since discovering the books last year, I’m not ashamed to say we have become unhealthily obsessed. I’d say about 30% of our conversation revolves around bunny couture and we made it the focus of her birthday trip to Dublin last year, where I bought her the book and we spent 8 hours at the Dublin Knitting and Stitching Show trawling the best materials for her discerning Luna. Since then between us we’ve probably made about 20! I love how the possibilities are endless and each bunny turns out unique.

Luna Lapin (and friends) are the designs of Sarah Peel who runs Cool Crafting in Kendal, Lake District. Her first book was all about Luna and her brother Alfie and the whimsical stories that accompany each pattern really paint a picture of a classy bunny. She’s a writer who shops at Liberty and goes to fancy parties and flirts with foxes. She has a double breasted coat. The bunny wears lace underwear. Come on, Luna has a better life than we do (at the moment, anyway).

Lunas are a great way to practise both hand and machine sewing and although the tiny clothes may look intimidating they’re not as hard as they look. I’ve actually found that a lot of the techniques learned in the book have helped me significantly in garment sewing, from a blind hem to buttonholes and pleats! It’s also incredibly mindful to make, in particular the hand sewing which is rhythmic and calming.

My favourite book remains the first one although I know a third one is to be released in August. I’ve tried a lot of the outfits but my favourite is the t-shirt dress and bow with the corduroy coat from the second book. I also really like making the short trousers from the second book as culottes with a little top. The shoes scare me a bit plus I like to embroider a name on the foot if the bunny is for a gift.

For materials for the bunny, the best quality fabrics you can get your hands on really do improve the quality of the make – use a wool felt for the body and 100% cottons for the clothes. I quite like using offcuts from my garment making fabrics to whip together tops and dresses for Luna – you could even make her a mini version!

Cool Crafting sells all these and has stopped taking orders during lockdown but you can still get PDF patterns on her site which are really cute, especially the cap. In the meantime you can get felt and cottons from other suppliers. If the bug catches you as much as it did me, you could even join the designated Facebook group!

Luna is definitely one of my top lockdown crafts, especially around Easter and I’m constantly working on an outfit or two. My boyfriend has also gotten used to being watched my countless pairs of rabbit eyes as he moves around the house too, so that’s a plus.