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

Summer Top with Low Back

Hello there –

this week I’ve got another one of my creations for you. It’s one of these tops that started off as a ‘quick one’ but as I have now learned – nothing in dressmaking is ever ‘quick’. It is a fairly loose summer top with a halter neck and bow detail at the back.

I feel like the summer might be over but I thought I should be allowed one last glimmer of hope… I have also realised the other day that it can be worn very nicely over a long sleeve top.

I must say this pattern is probably not as well suited for the fuller chested ladies out there, it would just lift the front up quite a lot and would probably look a bit off. At the same time, go for it! If it turns out awful you won’t have wasted much fabric at all! And you can always give it as a present 🙂

You can see I made the previous wrap top with the same fabric, I just love it, it’s so bold yet playful…

Well, anyway…

You will need:

  • 4-5 hours of leisure time
  • 1m of primary fabric
  • 1m of lining
  • ca. 1m of ribbon
  • ca. 20cm of bias binding
  • to be comfortable with making button holes on your sewing machine (goddess Minerva knows, I wasn’t at first!) – if you’re not you could always add some hooks and eye? or even a zip along the back…
  • a few measurements (diagram below)
    • neck circumference, under bust, hip, top of shoulder to under the shoulder blade, under the shoulder blade to hip (length)

FullSizeRender (1)

And this is HOW YOU * Craft It Yourself *

  • lay both layers of fabric together wrong sides facing
  • fold in half vertically – the fold is your centre front, so if you have a pattern on your primary fabric, try to line this up well
  • now mark your measurements as follows (including seam allowance)
    • as you will fold down the centre front – mark 1/2 of the hip measurement, 1/2 and 1/4 of the under bust measurement, 1/2 neck
    • to work out the correct radius for the neck – calculate: neck circumference / phi (3.14) = diameter, then diameter / 2 = radius e.g. 35/3.14 = 11 / 2 = 5.57cm (you only want about a quarter of a circle for you halter neck so mark 1/8 off the centre front)

FullSizeRender  FullSizeRender (3)

  • in order to get the arch under the arms right I devised a bit of a strange technique because I haven’t got a fancy curve ruler (or whatever they’re called):
    • find the centre point of the measurements you need to join and measure how far away this is from each end point
    • now substract the shorter distance from the longer distance e.g. 18-10=8
    • to find out where to make the mid-way mark between both ends divide the result by 2 e.g. 8/2=4, now add this to the shorter distance to work out how far away from the centre point you need to mark the mid-way point e.g. 10+4=14
    • then divide 4 by 2 to and add AND subtract the result to/from 14 to find 2 more points to mark along the curve e.g. 12 and 16
    • if necessary you can keep dividing 2 by 2 to get more exact points along the curve
    • I KNOW it sounds mad! here, have a diagram, that will hopefully help:

FullSizeRender (2)

  • pin your fabric pieces together along the markings you made
  • cut along the markings – be careful! your lining is longer at the bottom hem
  • turn your fabrics so that the right sides are facing before you pin them together again (sorry it might seem odd that you can’t just have them the wrong sides facing from the beginning – but of course you can. It would def cut out the whole taking-apart-and-laying-back-together part. I think that would work perfectly well if you’re using a less patterned or plain primary fabric but for quite patterned fabric I prefer to actually see where my centre front is going to be, and line it up properly with the design on the fabric. It’s your choice really…)
  • sew together with a 1cm seam allowance – only along the sides and neck though, you still have to turn it inside out and do the hem
  • turn inside out after cutting the seam allowance at the corners (this reduces bulk in the next step)
  • press (I know, I’m sorry! but it makes the edges so nice and crisp and really helps with that arm pit arch… what a description, yum)
  • topstitch along the same seams to secure them, try to get it as close as you’re comfortable with to the edge (I feel I’m definitely getting better at this, it’s thrilling! #topstitchporn is actually a thing on the line…)
  • now just fold over the bottom hem twice (this should be the lining fabric) and sew along it
  • now for the neck – as the edge is curved you can’t actually just fold over a piece of fabric as with the hem (trust me, I tried) which is why I used bias binding to hide the ribbon for the halter (neck)
  • [for the blog I have described to sew the neck together above (I didn’t do this for the top in the pictures because I was going to ‘hem’ the neck as the bottom hem. I had to cut the extra fabric off because it just wouldn’t have worked) so the bias binding becomes optional because all you’re going to do at the neck now is sew 2 pieces of ribbon to either side. No one will see the back but if you’re happier to have it all neat and tidy (like me, sometimes) then finish off the neck with a bit of bias binding after attaching the ribbon]
  • and now you only need to sew (at least 6) button holes (3 either side) along the back centre and feed a ribbon through them to fasten (if you do more button holes the back will come up higher/closer to the bottom of the shoulder blade)
  • and then * \\ YOU’RE DONE – SUCH WOW! // * Have a cupcake, you’re amazing 🙂
  • (Oh and just in case you wondered – I just leave the ribbon done up like that and slip the top over my head without undoing it. Ain’t nobody got time for that!)

And this is what mine looks like:



Show me yours??

Cu next Friday xoxo

Oval(ish) Crop Top #1

Hello there –

this week I’ve got a variation of the wrap top for you made from my favourite summer fabric – it’s a short top that is cut in a sort of oval and it will give you wiiings 🙂

This is what it looks like:

2015-08-02 13.14.25-1  Photo 02-08-2015 17 56 16 (with mascot)

You will need:

  • 1m of primary fabric
  • 1m of secondary fabric (plain lining or a reversible fabric)
  • 8 buttons of the same size
  • ca. 3m (ca. 118in) of bias binding (colour of choice that matches/contrasts both fabrics)
  • measurement for the width
  • measurement for the length
  • your waist measurement
  • circumference of your upper arm
  • an iron (I can hear you sigh, I know pressing isn’t the most fun but it won’t look as good if you don’t)

And here is HOW YOU * Craft It Yourself *

  • lay your primary and secondary fabric on top of each other right sides facing, fold in half, then in half again so you have a quarter – the centre point is where your neck will be cut out, and where you mark the measurements from
  • pin the 8 layers of fabric together so they don’t move when cutting
  • mark 1/2 of the width measurement along the top angle
  • mark 1/2 of the circumference of your upper arm at a right angle to the end of the last measurement
  • mark 1/2 of the length measurement down the other side of the angle off the centre point
  • mark 1/4 of your waist measurement at a right angle to the end of the last measurement
  • join the end points free-handedly (it’s easier than you think) – if that doesn’t work as smoothly as you’d like just try again (I recommend using tailor’s chalk for this so any wrong lines come off easily later. I also recommend rounding off any strange angles where the lines meet for a smoother finish. I didn’t do it like that but I wish I had.)
  • mark a radius of your choice off the centre point for your neckline (mine was 11cm) – pin along the line so it’s easier to cut

2015-08-02 10.38.47  2015-08-02 10.44.03

  • CUT along the lines…
  • take the pins out and unfold your oval(ish) shape carefully – try to keep the 2 layers of fabric in place so that you can pin the neckline together easily. This is the first thing you’re going to sew together.

2015-08-02 10.44.39

(you can see I didn’t pin my fabric right sides facing which is why I had to painstakingly peel the layers apart then reassemble the other way round for sewing)

  • if you’d like a neckline as on the other wrap tops then cut a straight line of about 7-8cm down the front centre from the neck (you can cut longer, it depends on how much you want to reveal 😉 )

neck 2

  • now sew along the dotted line in the above picture, trying to get as close as you can to the lowest point of the neckline (this makes it neater when you turn the fabric inside out)
  • turn the fabric inside out, pushing the right angles of the neckline through crisply
  • press the neckline (it’s worth it and gives a neater finish!)
  • now topstitch along the neckline, doing a little V at the lowest point of the neckline


  • now fold your bias binding in half and press it before you pin it onto the edges (again, it’s worth it for a crisp finish! I learned this from the lovely Janice at the Walkaway dress workshop the other week)
  • pin the bias binding along the edges, starting from the centre back (it’s never absolutely perfect when you stitch the overlapping ends so at the back it’s less likely to be seen if it goes a bit pear shaped…) – once you get to the end tuck the raw edge of the bias in for about 1cm so that there is no raw edges showing
  • start topstitching the bias binding where it overlaps at the back and go all the way around
  • now for the trickier part… how to put it together….?!

If you have chosen to line the top with a plain fabric and don’t want/need it to be reversible (I’ve got an affinity for reversible at the moment – it’s like getting a bargain in the high street – 2 for 1? Why, yes please!) – anyway, it’s easier if you’re only going to wear the top one way around.

  • put the top over your head and pin the ‘sleeves’ together close to your arm
  • take the top off, lay it on the table and see if it is properly lined up everywhere / folded in half along the top – if not, adjust, pin in place, put on the top and see if it still works (basically you want sleeves that’ll be easy to get into, comfortable but still flared)
  • sew at the 2 points you marked, parallel to the top edge towards the neckline for about 10cm just to secure the fabric in place
  • put the top on again and overlap the front over the back piece at the sides, pin into a comfortable position here too
  • take the top off and again – see if it is properly lined up everywhere / folded in half along the top – if not, adjust, pin in place, put on the top and see if it still works (it won’t be exact because the back will be folded over but try to keep the front and back bottom hems level)
  • sew the ‘intersection’ in place (maybe a small triangle shape would do?)

If you want the top to be reversible, it’s gonna get a bit fiddly and I hope I can explain what I’ve done (it’s not a perfect solution but I’ve got an idea how to improve it, which I’ll share later on)

  • put the top over your head and pin the ‘sleeves’ together close to your arm
  • take the top off, lay it on the table and see if it is properly lined up everywhere / folded in half along the top – if not, adjust, pin in place, put on the top and see if it still works (basically you want sleeves that’ll be easy to get into, comfortable but still flared
  • sew 2 button holes at the points you marked (on the front piece), I did mine right next to the bias binding
  • sew 2 buttons for each button hole onto the corresponding points at the back, I sewed mine onto the bias binding for better stability
  • put the top on again and overlap the front over the back piece at the sides, pin into a comfortable position here too
  • take the top off and again – see if it is properly lined up everywhere / folded in half along the top – if not, adjust, pin in place, put on the top and see if it still works (it won’t be exact because the back will be folded over but try to keep the front and back bottom hems level)
  • the 2 button holes on the front might be slightly away from the bias binding (with mine it was 3cm) but I didn’t use my waist measurement to determine the bottom hem so it might be fine – either way, sew 2 more button holes on the front piece
  • then sew 2 more buttons for each button hole onto the corresponding position on the back piece

Whichever way you chose – you’re now finished! Well done, you! Do a little victory dance 🙂

Do up all the buttons before you put on the top, otherwise it’s a bit fiddly. It might be a bit tight at first but I’m sure that’ll wear in later on.

Instead of using buttons I’m sure you could also feed a ribbon through the lower button holes (also do button holes on the back piece) – I’ll try that on my next one, just didn’t have enough ribbon to try it this time…

Either way this is a few details of the top:

2015-08-02 13.13.01  2015-08-02 13.12.56 2015-08-02 13.14.36

Hope you enjoy making this, let me see your creations!

Cu next Friday xx

Crochet // Pixel or Fishnet Beach Bag

Hello (again),

This is the first crochet project I’m showing you, exciting! It was inspired be the lovely Molla Mills, whose book I bought when I first started to crochet. It’s full of great ideas for the modern crocheter. This is not one of her patterns but the pixel idea has come from the book.

Because summer has finally reached us I’ve got a nice beach bag for you. You can make this with a circle base (info at the bottom) or with an oval base which is what I made.

I’d say this pattern is fairly easy to make but I have linked some external how-to content where it might be useful.

All you need is:

  • 2-3 free evenings/ a free Saturday or Sunday
  • 2-3 big balls of t-shirt yarn, or really chunky yarn (optional: 2 of primary colour, 1 of secondary/accent colour)
  • crochet hook, size 10

Terms I use:

And here is how you * Craft It Yourself * … with an oval base

  • (1) Ch as many as you like really. With an oval base you will add width with every row so take that into consideration for your first row.
  • (2) Turn, sc in 2nd st, sc to 2nd to last st, 5 sc into the last st to turn the corner (I know it seems a lot but try to squeeze them in), sc until the 2nd to last st, 5 sc in this as well.
  • (3) Keep doing sc around and around with 2sc in every short-side sc until the desired size of your base.
  • (4) On the next round sc into the back of each sc to turn the sides up (don’t increase stitches on the short side).
  • Keep going with sc a few more rows then count your sc. You need to have a multiple of 2 plus 1 sc in order to continue with the pixel pattern e.g. 61. If you’re one short just do 2 sc in one space, if you’ve got one to many just sc2tog.
  • (Optional: change yarn to a different colour to spice things up.)
  • Ch 4 at the beginning of the first rows of pixels (3 for the first treble, 1 for a space).
  • Skip 1 and tr into the next, *ch1, skip 1 and tr into next, repeat from * until end of row. Sl st into 3rd if the first chain.

Now decide which pixel pattern you want to make. For the size of these pixels, less intricate patterns will work best, e.g. 2×2 squares or diamond shapes. Find out how many pixels you have got in one row and figure out which spacing you’d like between the squares/diamonds. It is likely that you won’t be able to have equal distances between all squares/diamonds so don’t go nuts over trying to figure that out. The best thing to do is to get some maths paper and mark as many squares as you’ve got on your row. Then do some sketching sort of like this:


If you want to do diamonds, I recommend you offset trebles by 1 on each row (when you begin a new row, just sl st to the ch between tr on the below row):

FullSizeRender (4)

For a square pattern you will work like this:

FullSizeRender (5)

From then on just be guided by the previous row, if you’ve done the first row correctly you will get on well with the rest.

  • Work until you’ve got the desired height of the bag
  • (Optional: you could change yarn back to your accent colour again)
  • Work a row of sc to make it easier to work some handles on the top.
  • Work sc to about a sixth of the way, ch a sixth of the way, skip as many spaces, sc until the halfway point, repeat on other side.
  • sc 1 row, stabilising the handles that way.
  • sl st 1 row.
  • Break yarn, fasten off and
  • DO A LITTLE DANCE – Well done you! 🙂

For a round base just do this before step (4) above:

  1. Make a magic ring by wrapping the yarn around 2 index fingers and pulling the yarn through, secure by chaining 2 [numbers 1-4 indicate rows]
  2. Do 12 sc in the magic ring and sl st into the 1st st at the end, ch 2
  3. 2 sc in every one of the sc from the previous row, sl st, ch 2
  4. 2 sc in every second one of the sc from the previous row (sc inbetween 2 sc), sl st, ch 2
  5. As row 3 until you have your desired diameter

Show me how yours came out!

Cu next Friday xx

[Sources: Annie’s Craft Store]

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