anja sew-and-so

This site is about crafting and other things for the soul.

XMAS // Alternative Tree

Hi there,

today I wanted to share with you what I did for an advent calendar last year. You see, I live in a tiny cosy flat with my dearest musician boyfriend with hundreds quite a few instruments so we haven’t got much room at all. So to decorate, we have to go vertical.

I had seen something done with Instagram pictures before and thought that could work well… I got some tiny clothes pegs and some string, and ordered prints of my 25 favourite pictures of us. When they arrived I tried to work out a nice order to reveal them in and wrote the numbers 1 to 25 on the back of the prints. (You can see where this is going…)

I then put some nails in the wall in the shape of a Christmas tree and attached the string to the nails. I then distributed the pictures with the number facing me along the string using the little pegs. I also put some pieces of candy later on as I realised that there is really no point to an advent calendar without candy! I got the little Celebrations ones and they worked brilliantly with the pegs.

So we got an advent calendar AND Christmas tree in one!

Here is a picture of it (before candy made it onto it):


Cu soon


Short Infinity Dress

Hi there,

amongst all the Christmassy madness I was inspired by the Infinity Dress. I had heard of it before but somehow forgotten. HOW COULD I FORGET this incredible feast of dress engineering?? Besides buying two online (there was a deal, and hey, it was my birthday) I was lucky enough to inherit some lovely cotton fabric from a friend who didn’t know what to do with it. Except give it to me… Good choice I say! If you’re familiar with the Infinity Dress you will know that it is not made of cotton but I don’t discriminate so I went for it anyway. It definitely means to dress has limitations as to how you can wear it whereas the original doesn’t but you still have a LOT of options as you can see in the pictures below. Essentially this dress is only made up of 3 pieces, a skirt and 2 ‘scarves’ as the inventor calls them. You can buy short to floor length dresses and then wear them about a gazillion ways.

For mine I intended to make a full-circle skirt but luckily realised early enough that I wouldn’t have enough fabric for this because I wanted to make double-sided scarves due to the way you use them. Either way I made a half-circle skirt and it came out nicely. I even inserted a couple of darts and a zip and it doesn’t look like a 3 year-old did it which is always a plus.

Anyway, to make this dress you will need:

  • light-weight cotton fabric
  • a zip
  • an iron

And his is HOW YOU * Craft It Yourself *

  • Skirt – Cut a half-circle on the fold (or 2 half-circles if you have enough fabric and want to go for a fuller skirt). To find out the radius of the waistband calculate waist / 2 x phi (e.g. 30in / 6.28 = 4.77in radius for 2 halves of a full-circle skirt, 9.54in radius for a half-circle skirt. I tend to round up the radius just to have some leeway later on and for the seam allowance. You can always take a bit off but adding any is difficult, not impossible but difficult.)


  • Sew the half-circle together right sides facing with a 1cm seam allowance, leaving a gap at the top for the zip to be inserted later.
  • Hem the waistband by folding over twice then topstitch along the outer edge. This will mean that the hem will want to fold back a little bit but this gets ‘corrected’ after the darts are put in. If you are not going to insert darts then topstitch along the inner edge to secure the hem.
  • Darts – Put on the skirt and pull it to your waist to see how much space you have got. If it’s too loose you can measure the overlap at the back hem to determine how to insert the darts at the side. e.g. My overlap was 6cm. From this I deducted 1cm for the seam allowance to figure out I needed to lose 5cm either side. So i laid the skirt flat with the right ‘side seam’ facing me (the centre point between front and back seam). I marked this and 2.5cm either side. I then measured from my waist to about the mid-point of my hip (where I wanted the dart to finish). This came out at 20cm. So I marked 20cm down from the centre-point. I then folded the dart right sides facing so that the 2.5cm marks matched. I made a chalk line between the 20cm mark and the 2.5cm mark on one side, then pinned along the line. I repeated this for the other side. As you have taken out 5cm on the other side, please measure the centre point to match the other side. I then put on the skirt again (carefully!) to see if the darts have the desired effect and you are left with a seam allowance to insert your zip into later.
  • Sew along the lines to finish the darts.
  • Sew along the inner edge of the waistband catching the dart overlap folded to the back. This way you finish the waistband and stabilise the darts. You will press these down later on.
  • Insert the zip as per this lovely lady.


  • Hem the bottom of the skirt by folding over twice and topstitching along the inner edge.
  • Give the skirt a press with the iron.
  • Scarves – I intended to make the scarves a bit wider than 1/4 of the waistband so that they would overlap slightly at the front (for a bit more decency but that’s optional ;)) I didn’t have enough fabric for this so I ended up with scarves that are 7.5in x LONG. I sewed them right sides facing along both long edges and one short one and then turned them inside out. I also sewed a sort of ribbon end to both scarves:


  • Give the scarves a good press.
  • Now attach the scarves to the front of the skirt. I pinned them on first, put on the dress and tried a few different ways to see which I liked best. e.g. I tried angling the scarves slightly as to be able to do more different styles. Also, in the end I didn’t overlap them as first intended which makes the dress a bit more riskey but it works well.

Here are a few ways you can wear this dress (once again though, the possibilities are endless):


Anyway, let me know if you get around to making one of your own! I love them and wanna see more of them 🙂

Cu soon xoxo

* This Blog is now on Holiday *

Hi there,

thanks for popping by again. I am going on holiday today so won’t be able to write any crafty posts at the moment.

In the meantime, here are a few things I might get up to …





XMAS // Embroidery Hoop Designs

Hello there,
So last weekend I spent coming up with some (mainly) wintery designs for little 4in embroidery hoops. The idea is to gift them as ornaments for Christmas trees or walls.
This is what I’ve come up with so far:



Now I’ve got to think about colours and textures and making everything festive and cute 🙂

What are you all preparing for Christmas?

Cu soon xoxo

XMAS // Origami Gift Box

Hello again,

So after I had made approximately 20 paper snowflakes and stars (my partner can attest to that) I thought it would be nice to make my own gift boxes for a couple of smaller gifts I gave I came across hudnreds of lovely origami tutorials online made up of all these decorative papers. As I had all that A4 white copy paper I thought I’d just use that because I wanted the folded details to stand out and also to keep in in line with the snowy Christmas theme.

Here are a few nice tutorials I found:

Unfortunately, I just can’t find the one I followed last year but this is the result. I think it was very similar to the 2nd link above:


I hope you’re enjoying the Christmas build up as much as I am.

Cu soon x

XMAS Mania

Is anyone else really excited about Christmas already??

I can’t help but be really happy about autumn being here. It promises snuggly evenings and a lot of crafting on the weekends because I’m planning to make everything I gift this Christmas myself. My game plan is all written out and I’ve got some lovely projects lined up! I’ll probably end up writing about most of them so if any of my friends actually read this blog, they’ll probably see their present here sooner or later 😀 but they’ll have to keep guessing what they’ll actually get, harharhar.

Last year I started with paper snowflakes just like I had when I was younger. It was just something that you could do immediately with supplies you already had at home. It also totally transported me back to my childhood, the pre-Christmas excitement, the build up to a family holiday that is much more ordinary than you imagine it the entire time coming up to it. I always get most excited about the wonderful things you’re allowed to eat and drink without guilt (traditional German goose roast, cheese and crackers, Christmas pudding with Brandy butter; another time I’ll have a duck roast, ginger bread and port; sherry!). My mouth is watering.

Anyway for these sweet paper snowflakes, all you need is some A4 paper and a pair of scissors. Of course you could use any colour paper but if you want to make snowflakes white is probably your best bet. Unless you use cream, or light yellow (but don’t eat yellow snow!).

And this is HOW YOU * Craft Them Yourself *

Fold the shorter side of the A4 sheet over to the longer side. Cut along the edge to create a square. Fold the triangle in half again to create quarters, then fold again to create eighths. Now you can start cutting into the edges, making sure that you leave parts of them standing because otherwise the whole thing falls apart 🙂 You can literally create ANY design you can think off in minutes because all you’re doing is cut an 1/8 of the snowflake but it replicates on all other parts once you unfold it. And this is how they could look like:



I also made one of these wonderful paper stars. You can follow this video to make one yourself. This took a little longer than expected but the result is stunning. I still have this boxed up somewhere so hopefully it’s still intact.


Anyway, if you’re not into Christmas yet come back to the blog when you are because it’s gonna get all Christmassy up in herrrre from now on 😀

Hope to see you again soon and see your Christmassy creations xx

A Different Kind of Wrap Top

Hello there  –

by now you will know that I like all kinds of wrap (even the kind to eat). I don’t think I ever elaborated much on why… It’s simple, you don’t need to do much shaping in the construction of a top or skirt if you design it to wrap around you. It’s just easier for us sewing novices and you get quick results. Always an added benefit for the impatient amongst us sewing novices.

So, I’ve yet to make a wrap skirt – and I have multiple ideas for this! Unfortunately the summer is drawing to a close and I’ve been a bit broke so not been able to buy as much fabric as I’d like.

Also I’ve got a tiny quilt project coming up as another one of the ladies at work is going to have a baby and who could resist making something tiny for someone tiny?? Also, have you seen this? Must. Make. Immediately.

Nonetheless, I went to a little festival this past weekend – Together the People in Brighton. And there I saw, once again, one of these great tops that has two sort of half circles overlapping at the back… Actually, I can’t describe it. Lovely though, very floaty and festivaly. Anyway, I’d seen this before and thought that must be easy enough to make. (I ALWAYS think this, and it’s never entirely true.) So after the gig I went home and got to working. Sounds crazier than it is, I was back home at 9.30pm.

The idea was to just make a rectangle for the front, two overlapping halves for the back and have everything lined. I still had some plain black cotton but this wasn’t enough material, so I decided to line the back pieces with hot pink cotton I also still had. I love it when your leftovers dictate your project and it turns out so much better for it. The idea was to have the hot pink be visible as lining but not prominent. It turned out differently but, again, better!

I measured the width between my shoulders and checked that this width would also work to cover the front half of my hips. I adjusted the width slightly as I’m pretty pear shaped but it worked well. Apart from making a massive error of judgment regarding the neck (more about that later), I cut out all 3 pieces like this with a 1cm seam allowance around each piece:

FullSizeRender (2)

I then proceeded to stitch along the pieces ‘right’ sides facing (both plain cotton, so doesn’t matter really) as so (red):

FullSizeRender (1)

I turned the pieces inside out, pressed and top stitched over the same places with contrasting top thread (pink top thread on the black, black bottom thread on the pink). I then stitched the back pieces to the front right sides facing at 1cm seam allowance, but only up to the arm pits (orange).


This is when I realised I made an error with one of the back pieces, I made two identical ones but of course I should’ve made one the mirror image of the other. This way it turned out I would have the back pieces showing different colours – one black and one pink. I stitched so that the pink would be overlapped by the black so that it looked more like it was meant to be peaking out from under the black piece.

I then intended to finish the neck with bias binding as it solved a big issue about how to go about this. I applied bias binding to a very short V-neck I’d cut out (11cm from the centre point, 7cm down the front), then stitched the shoulder seams. After doing so, I realised there was no way I could get my head through the intended hole. So the seam ripper came out and I undid the shoulder seam, folded the bias binding over (does this make it trias binding? ;)) and restitched the shoulder seams about 5cm from the outside in.

After this, I put on the top and saw that the shoulders were really sticky-outy (of course, I’m not a rectangle, I’m a pear). I pinned them so that they’d sit more snuggly to my shoulders and stitched them in place.

In hindsight I should’ve thought a bit more about the quality of finish on the top and shaping (the inside seams are pretty rough/raw and the shoulder seams aren’t made well) but by the time it was complete it was past midnight and I just wanted to go to bed… Should I make this again I would attempt adding the circle neck line from the initial wrap tops (because it always works and is pretty), make it longer and maybe even in a more stretchy fabric to achieve the floaty, festivaly look.

Anyway, this is what it looks like:


Any tips for my next attempt at this?

Cu soon xoxo

If you ever get the chance – GO! What a beautiful land…

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Embroidery // Canvas Tote Bags

Hello there –

this week I just wanted to let you know that this whole embroidery adventure has taken me to individually embroider canvas tote bags for friends.

The first one I embroidered by hand was a geometric fox design with a triangle bordure detail on a mint green background. I also lined the bag with black cotton to bring out the colour a bit more and so that keys or else don’t get caught on the inside of the embroidery as it’s much more fragile than the wrong side of machine embroidery. I also added a little inner pocket. I really just wanted to keep it for myself but as I’d promised it to my friend…. 🙂

FullSizeRender  IMG_0022

I am now working on a night sky themed bag which will be in my shop soon. I’ve really always loved nights, everything sort of calms down and ragged edges are smoothed over. I love the starry sky and the endless possibilities it brings with it. I love feeling like the universe is too big for us to be alone, like I heard in a movie once. AND I’ve always loved Orion, the cat, from Men in Black and his mysterious necklace. So this bag is inspired by that 🙂 (I’ve gotta watch that movie again <3)


I also have a commission from a friend in Berlin (yay) who I will embroider a geometric bird onto a natural canvas bag for. I’m really excited about this one because I feel like I might go a bit artistic on this one. Let’s see what it turns out like and whether I have to do another one because she might not like it 😀 Anyway, I’m loving this new obsession of mine. It’s (again) so versatile – and the possibilities are endless…. Sigh.


Cu next Friday xoxo

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