Hello everyone,

I hope you are all staying safe and getting your craft on during this surreal lockdown time.  Things are loosening a little in England but up here we are staying safe for a few more weeks at least, and our lockdown continues. At least it gives us more time for crafting and contemplation which is never a bad thing.  I’ve found myself going off in all kinds of new directions and with new ideas – making paper from junk mail last week – this week, who knows what will happen!


This is my challenge entry for the Funkie Junkie May Challenge, the subject of which is: Sew Sweet!

Create a shabby chic or vintage project with a sewing theme incorporating items and/or images related to sewing – think rubber stamps of sewing machines or dress forms e.g., fabric, pattern tissue and even notions such as buttons, zippers, thread, etc.

How up my alley is this lol. For those who know me, they already know how much I am into sewing and all things fabric, and I freely admit to having a large fabric hoard stash, but for those who don’t, well let me tell you a little bit about my sewing background!  I have been sewing for as long as I can remember.  My mother taught me how to sew on buttons and sew up hems and to darn holes in clothing. Now, clothing is so cheap and disposable that often if someone loses a button on a dress they just toss it, and then of course we have such a huge mountain of unwanted clothing that it all goes to landfill!  Some people don’t even know how to sew a button on!

Anyway, I started making my own clothes, sewing them by hand because I didn’t have a sewing machine.  Then when I went to high school, they had sewing machines – it was so exciting!  I convinced my mum that we needed one at home and she thought it was a great idea as I could teach her how to use it and we could be making curtains and clothing and cushions and everything in between!  Well, I’m sure you can guess what happened, my mum never did learn how to use the machine, it was much easier and quicker to just get me to do it hahaha. When I moved away from home, I bought a second hand machine from a junk shop, cleaned it up, got it working and used it for years, before trading it in for my first new machine!  I still have that machine along with five others and an overlocker (serger) and it is still my favourite machine, despite all the advances made with modern machines, this one never lets me down.  One thing lead to another, and I was making all my own clothes at one point, mostly to save money, and then all soft furnishings for my house, and then turned my hand to other things like handbags…

So you see, when I saw the subject of this challenge, I knew I had to make something for it and to try and incorporate some of my favourite things into whatever I ended up making.

I woke up early on Saturday morning thinking about this and so I did some notes and sketching out of ideas.  I really was in love with my original idea but one thing you learn in Design School is that the design process can go through many iterations from the original idea to the final project, and rarely do you end up using your first idea. I always wanted to resist this process in uni and stick with my original ideas but resistance is futile lol.  Anyway as you can see from my notes and sketch here, my final design is quite different from my original idea which was going to be a triptych and possibly padded! I still like this idea but as things developed, I could see it wasn’t going to work as planned.  Doesn’t mean I won’t come back to it some time in the future though!

Things I Knew I wanted to Use:

  1. mannequin
  2. blue striped fabric (see above)
  3. mirror
  4. scripty letters
  5. French couture

Although I have some mannequin stamps and dies, I wanted to make something out of metal, plus I just like to make things with wire, so I got some copper wire and my jewellery pliers out and set about making one out of wire.

Once I had the basic shape, I then used some very fine bronze wire to fill in the details.  I also made a stand for her as per my original sketch but I didn’t end up using it, since the original would be freestanding and in the final design the mannequin is attached to the tag.

Below – hammering it into submission!

Adding the fine wire to the inside shape.

The finished mannequin.  I did think about painting her black with some shiny metallic black paint but I decided to keep her in shiny copper instead which I think stands out more against all the black that appears later on.

This Sizzix frame die is one of my favourites and most used.  I just love the ornate shape that it produces.  Using the die cut as a template, I cut some “mirrors” out of some silver metallic cardstock.

Shiny mirrors in black frames, before they were heat embossed.  It was at this point that my phone battery died and so I had to switch to my camera until it recharged, hence the change in photo dimensions.

Another favourite Sizzix die set, this one is newer, and I love it more each time I use it.  I cut three sets of letters out and then glued and stacked them on top of each other to give them more dimension and to make them more like chipboard letters rather than just cardstock.

I had been trying to think what else I wanted to put on my project, so I raided the ribbon stash and found this white cotton lace.  I didn’t want white though, so I experimented with this Fabrika Decoru product called Airy Mousse Metallic and the colour is Blue Shabby!  First time I’ve used it and I only bought it because I liked the colour and was curious to see if it was similar to Finnabair’s Icing Paste because if so, then it is cheaper and worth getting more colours!

It dries very quickly and still has some flexibility in it so it is easy to bend and not at all stiff.  I used this DMC black metallic embroidery floss to thread through the holes in the middle.  Also in this photo you can see the light blue pom pom trim I added around the tag edges and yes it is now a tag.  I lost some photos when my phone shut down 🙁  I took one of the Dylusions large #12 tags and some white cardstock, and drew around the shape so that I could use white card to glue my fabric on to as anything other than white would affect the brightness of the fabric colour.  Then as it was a bit flimsy, I backed it with some kraft card from an old amazon box.

I am also using some remnants of black Harris Tweed to cover some self-cover buttons.  Can you tell what I was making with the Tweed from the cutouts?  lol  You can see it below!

So now I have my lace trim and my buttons, I made big and small buttons but ended up only using the smaller buttons.

Since some of my process photos got eaten by my phone we have now reached the finished tag but I will try to explain some of the missing steps in the close-ups below.

These little tartan ribbons actually came off some Scottish Fudge packaging!  There is a small fudge business here and they add real fabric tartan ribbons to their bags of fudge.  It makes such a difference instead of using plastic, but I do wonder what people do with all these little bits of ribbon afterwards.  Maybe they are all like me and save them to use on crafty projects?

I spent a lot of time deciding on the placement of my lace, buttons and bow and took many photos of each option so I could see them more clearly, and after flicking through all the photos, I ended up with this as my final placement.  Initially I wanted to put the bow on the bottom right corner so that the use of the tartan ribbons was spread down the tag, but it looked wrong and putting the button on the top left on its own looked even worse, so the only placement that made me happy was this one.

At the top of the post you can see that I made three mirrors for my original triptych idea but now that it was going to be a tag, I could only fit one, but even then, I couldn’t fit one mirror on this huge tag in a place that made me happy.  The solution was to cut one right down the middle and have one half on each side!  Also in this photo you can see that my mannequin is now dressed it a lovely black tulle dress with a tartan sash!

The mirror frames were heat embossed with Wow Black Twinkle EP and here you can also see a close up of the thickness of the die cut letters.

Close up of the mannequin frame and another view of the mirror which you can see changes colour in the light from very shiny silver to black.

The final touch was to add the last of my three tartan ribbons to the top of the tag and it was complete!


Adding this frame for the “photo shoot” makes me think that this mannequin is in a window display of some very high end French fabric shop where you too can make a dress like this.  I like the combination of Shabby French with touches of Scottishness 🙂

Fun facts:

The French word for “shabby” as it refers to fabric, is miteux/miteuse which really means “scruffy” and not at all what we think of our “shabby” chic lol.
Fabric remnants are called “coupons” which has nothing to do with money off, they are just small pieces of pre-cut fabric, but not the random sized remnants that we have here.
The French word for fabric is “tissu” which again is nothing to do with Kleenex!
Haberdashery or notions are called “mercerie” so a Haberdasher’s or Notions Store would be called a Mercerie Boutique which sounds so lovely and definitely somewhere I would want to visit.

Now we have the lingo and I know where to find the best fabric shops in Paris, when are we going?


Funkie Junkie ChallengeSew Sweet: when I saw the theme I really wanted to make more projects to enter, but then with my temperamental phone playing up, I lost a lot of time and basically ran out of time to make more lovely sewing inspired things.  So we have one tag that I am very happy to have finished in time 🙂

Project Recipe

White cardboard
Blue striped cotton fabric
Copper wire
Bronze wire
Silver Mirror cardstock
Black cardstock
Wow embossing powder – black twinkle
Sizzix ornate frame die, Elle Upper and Lowercase dies
DMC black metallic thread
Collage medium
From stash:  ribbon, lace, cover buttons, Harris Tweed, cardboard, amazon box, pom pom, jewellery pliers, regular black thread, needle, jeweller’s pins, hot glue, tulle scraps,

I started something new for April and continuing in May:

Since we are all stuck inside and can’t leave the house, I thought I would try and do two things:
1. use this time to finish any unfinished projects
2. use as much recycled materials as possible (I do this a lot anyway) but also not to buy new stuff!
So, with that in mind, I will note the above on any posts, if applicable.
RECYCLED MATERIALS – YES! tartan ribbons, lace, buttons, fabric, pom pom trim, amazon box,

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3 Awesome Comments (btw comment moderation is on)
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Jenny Marples
May 17, 2020 10:15 pm

Elle I love this! That you went to the trouble of making your own dressform for the wonderful net dress and added the looking glass mirror pieces is wonderful. Thank you so much for joining in with our challenge at The Funkie Junkie Challenge Blog x

Maggi Harding
Maggi Harding
May 14, 2020 11:29 pm

What a lovely tag! I enjoyed reading your sewing history too. Love how you made the mirrors too! The Funkie Junkie Boutique Blog.

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