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February Sewing Challenge – Ergh… Sleeves

I have learnt one thing from my February challenge… I do NOT enjoy setting in sleeves. It’s hard and time consuming and I’m pretty sure I still haven’t cracked it (Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that). Sadly this won’t be a tutorial that you can follow to get the perfect sleeve but at least you can share in the experience…

I did A LOT of research for the February challenge. In fact, most of my work for the month was just reading stuff (if you are interested take a look at Tilly’s advice for creating a gathered sleeve) and begging for advice from the Sewing Challenge Facebook group. I decided I did actually need to produce something though and that something was going to be the Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress.

I decided to do my first attempt on calico so it didn’t matter if it went wrong. I adjusted my stitch length to the longest it would go and did my two lines of stitches which I would technically use to create my gathers. I then pulled the threads to gather the sleeve and spread it out so that it wasn’t too bunched up. I think in the future it’d be good to use a different coloured thread for the bobbin so I can see which one needs to be pulled. To get to this stage took a long time and I used my knee to try and manipulate the shape!

After a lot of procrastinating, I moved on to my actual fabric. Just to keep me on my toes, I decided to use a nice slippery and slightly stretchy fabric… After cutting, overlocking and creating a mock turn-up cuff, I proceeded to spend a huge amount of my time trying to get the over-sized sleeve to fit into the smaller sleeve hole while using all of my pins to do so. At one point I really did question if I actually needed to have movement for my shoulders.

The first picture was my first attempt. Note those tucks at the top there… they were not part of the pattern. I huffed, puffed, swore a bit and shut the dress away for the night. With a fresh head and a more objective pair of eyes, I looked at the dress again and realised that actually, they were to wide for my shoulders. By pure chance, that meant that I needed to increase the seam allowance at the top of the sleeve, thus hiding the tucks. Hurrah for my abnormally shaped shoulders!

So despite bodging it a bit… I managed to finish the dress (while learning lots of other skills along the way). I may avoid setting in sleeves like the plague in the future but I have a dress that shows that, one time, I did it (half) successfully.


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New Stock Alert: Craft Hobby & Stitch International 2018

ribbons at SE simons

It’s that time of year again! CHSI 2018 – the trade show we attend in February each year to choose buttons, touch all the fabric and have a little cry in the Rico stand. This time we took a whole squad of people and stayed overnight in the much envied ‘Willow’ room at the Arden Hotel. It’s a glamorous life!

We’re really excited about the new products we chose that’ll be winging their way to us in the next couple of months, including beautiful books, awesome patterns and of course – a whole pile of new cotton fabrics. It’s also so exciting to say we found a supplier of Sashiko equipment! So keep an eye out for workshops and kits in the gorgeous art of Japanese folk embroidery soon.

Here’s a little run down of how we spent our two days at the Birmingham NEC – enjoy!

bunyip team at CHS

We set off at a painfully early time with the thought of a Gloucester services breakfast keeping our sprits high. Rachel, first time visitor of Gloucester services, had this to say of the experience: “It was fine.” Either we bigged it up too much or she is immune to it’s majesty and wonder. If you know, you know.

bunyip gang at CHSI 2018

For the last couple of years Mattie and I have been attending the show solo, so it was lovely to have fresh eyes on everything from Rachel and Lisa. Lisa was of course choosing beautiful wool to bring back for her concession and she was soon weighed down with free samples (why are samples of wool so weirdly heavy? And WHERE were all the fabric samples?!).

ribbons at SE simons

A big part of the show is meeting a lot of our suppliers face to face. Although some of them pop in to the shop and say Hi, there’s some that we only get to lay eyes on once a year! It was great to see our friends from our favourite Bristol based ribbon supplier and their quite frankly, outrageously beautiful display.

(I’m never 100% sure if you’re allowed to take photos at these things so you will notice a lot of nervous blur in these as I was worried about getting arrested. By the craft police.)

I sadly was the first to succumb to the first hysteria of the day, brought around by this page I flipped open to in a book entitled ‘Crazy Cat Lady Crafts.’ I don’t think I need to explain why.

It’s no secret that we’re a little Rico obsessed – I’m started to theorise that I’ve actually been brainwashed by them as surely I shouldn’t be enjoying every thing they do to quite such a hysterical extent? We made a vow to all meet up at their stand together so we could all witness the fitness together, but I did manage a sly walk past to photograph this, quite frankly delightful, poster.

If you think we peaked at furry cat skirt and unicorns, then please think again and add wine. One of our suppliers literally gives you booze (also weird bits of cheese on a stick but the less said about that the better) while you look at the fabric. Heaven is real.

So much fabric to choose from! We had to sit down for a post-wine coffee to gather our thoughts before we were ready to order. Eventually we managed to narrow the ridiculous choice down to 10 beautiful cotton prints to arrive in the shop soon – bears were a particular winner…

knitted fireplace

Here’s another peak: a knitted fireplace! We find it’s best not to ask ‘why?’ too often at these things.

fabric samples

We finally made it to Rico! I just fell totally in love with everything in the entire stand, as is the custom, and we were so excited to order some leather-look-metallic-paper that you can sew with. The stand had loads of stuff sewn with it, including gold make up bags with glittery lettering on that I’m so keen so try when it arrives.

rico stand CHSI

I’ll take one of everything thank you please.


With day 1 done, we took ourselves off to the ‘British Craft Awards’ which we were eager to attend because we love British craft (the free bar is just a happy coincidence) and had our silhouettes cut by this amazing artist. I managed to snap this photo of Lisa, professional model, demonstrating her extreme professionalism and poise. Check out the finish portraits on her Instagram!

We kicked off day 2 of our craft adventure with a trip to one of our most eclectic suppliers where Mattie chose some awesome new haberdashery, including more feather trim and GIANT pom poms! Squeal.

We’re also thrilled to say we ordered a gorgeous range of Tilly and the Buttons patterns! Set to be in the shop in the next 2 weeks, Rachel is a huge fan of these and it’s going to be awesome seeing her make through the whole bunch.

mickey mouse fabric

We moved back in for another go at fabric come Monday afternoon and ended up failing to resist this Mickey Mouse print collection! We’ve got two of these coming when they go to print, along with some more amazing Disney prints. Exciitttting…..!

One of our suppliers had a giant roll of thread with a secret office in on their stand, but this is CHSI so no one was even bothered. However, we were very bothered to find Sashiko sets! Ever since Mattie visited Japan last year we’ve been trying to get our hands on Sashiko equipment, and we’re so excited to have some winging it’s way to the shop soon!

button stand by Jones

And with a final visit to Mattie’s favourite button supplier, we were done for another year. Head into the shop soon to see all this ridiculous goodness arrive – and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Insta for many, many photos of it all.


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January Sewing Challenge – Adjusting Patterns and making a toile

So often, in the past, I’ve dived straight in to a project only to finish it and find it doesn’t fit me properly. It does make perfect sense, we’re never all going to be the exact size of the pattern; there’ll always be the odd thing that needs a tweak. This month I wanted to remedy this by practising adjusting patterns and in particular making a toile.

What on earth is a toile you ask!

It’s basically an early version of a pattern made up of cheap fabric so that sizing adjustments can be made without ruining beautiful fabric. You’d use a fabric that is similar to what you’ll use for the final piece and trace any changes to make a perfect pattern. I’ve always put it off in the past because it seems counterproductive to pre-make a garment when you have no intention of wearing it. But my 2018 challenge is to do things that I don’t usually do so here it goes.

I bought some really beautiful fabric a while ago but had been putting off making with it because the thought of ruining it terrified me! So it seemed like the perfect time to make a toile so that I could check the fit.

My toile for the Tilly and the Buttons ‘Francoise’ dress.

This is my finished toile which I also tried on myself and pranced around in to check movement of course. It turned out that the fit was pretty good. I have fairly standard measurements apparently so I didn’t need to adjust the bust which is often the main problem area.

One thing I did decide to change was the sleeve. On the long sleeve, little creases appeared quite quickly around the elbow; I don’t like ironing so this wouldn’t do at all. I took off the sleeve on my toile and traced it onto paper, making sure that I included all the markings from the original pattern.

So overall a great success and I had the confidence to cut in to my beautiful fabric knowing that the fit would be good.

Just the one toile was not enough though; I wanted a challenge. This time I decided to make one for a pair of fitted trousers and boy am I glad I did. The fit of my toile was all wrong and didn’t lay properly near the ankles. So with a little bit of a helping hand I pinned in the areas that needed pulling in and marked the changes with a pen. I then took everything apart and this time, used the toile as my pattern piece. I used carbon paper and a tracing wheel to transfer the markings on to my trousers fabric (polka dot trousers anyone?).

So, making a toile IS extra effort and I wouldn’t do it for everything but it is a great way to get a good fit and to eliminate the fear of ruining fabric.

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2018; A New Year, A New Challenge


Is anyone else setting themselves a crafty challenge for 2018? If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried before and given up by mid January! So I’ve decided that I’ll use this blog to keep me motivated and share my experiences with you.

I’m a fairly confident sewer but I do have those favourite patterns that I just make over and over again (I’m on number 3 of the Cleo Dress by Tilly and the Buttons). So 2018 is the year when I step out of my comfort zone and try some completely new things and improve some skills that I just never use at the moment.

My plan is to practise a skill each month and to share the ups and downs with you.

So in 2018 I’ll no longer be a ‘try-it-and-see-sewer’ and will not have to use the seam ripper at all (HA!).

Do you have any crafty new years resolutions? Does the #sewingchallenge2018 sound up your street? We’d love to see what you’re all up to.

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Alex’s Things To Do In Exeter


Since I am a girl who likes shopping, what I most visited in these days are obviously shops! I am really enjoying all of those little cute shops and locals I can’t find in Italy, in particular in my town. From charity shops (as they are here) to museums, from the fashion cafes to the all-around-the-world restaurants. But I know I can’t spend all of my money on buying clothes: I need to travel – I love traveling – and explore the area around Exeter and this means I must have money for the bus/train ticket.

Also, there are a lot of weird and funny shops, for example “Fantasy World” which is Exeter’s largest stockist of unique costumes; you can dress-up as a medieval or roman person or as a 80’s guy. There are also many barber shops, tattoo and hairdresser salons, nail art salons and jewellery stores, etc. In Exeter you can find whatever you want!



Most popular cafes in England that aren’t in Italy (or they are so rare) are Costa and Starbucks: Italian students love them too, but, I’m honest, I don’t like their coffee because it’s really different from Italian one. Anyway we like going to these cafes to have a hot drink – maybe with a delicious biscuit – and a chat with friends.

Another local in which I have never eaten before in my homeland is Subway; I sometimes haven’t got my packed lunch so I need something cheap and quick to eat. I have eaten tasty sandwiches a couple of time there for few pounds and I absolutely liked them. Moreover, Subway offers vegan and vegetarian options and it’s good for me since I’m vegetarian.



One night I discovered The Stable – this is a rooftop bar and lounge club in Guildhall Shopping Centre – and I almost fall in love with this place: good looking, lovely music, nice cocktails, food and drinks, young people and… great beer! I recommend you The Stable if you need a break from the boring week routine and if you love having party with amazing music and beer.

That night I had dinner out with my mates in Bella Italia, an Italian restaurant in Queen Street and we decided to have pizza; honestly, it was a real good pizza! We thought we wouldn’t have eaten this delicious food for a whole month, but we found the right place to satisfy our cravings.



Have you ever been to RAMM (Royal Albert Memorial Museum)? That is amazing! A fantastic museum and art gallery in Exeter where you can see lots of every-type collections, such as the antiquities with all of its sculptures and archaeological finds or the natural history archives plenty of minerals and (unfortunately for me – I am against animal cruelty) stuffed animals.



On the last Sunday I had a walk around the city to discover places I have never seen before and I visited the Quay after a relaxing but long walk by the river. This area of Exeter enchanted me, it reminded me vaguely of my dear Venice, and I decided to have a break with a refreshing drink in a lovely bar.



Obviously in Exeter there are some festivals and community events, such as “Fore Street Flea” on 24th September where you can find stalls, street-food and bargains – the next “Fore Street Flea” will be on 26th November.



And what about the bowling club and the cinema? There are those too, but I haven’t been there yet: they are my next destination!

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Alex’s Work Experience



Hi, I’m Alex! I’m a 18 year old girl from the North-East of Italy and I’m in Exeter to do work experience for 4 weeks (from 3th September to 1st October 2017) thanks to a school project I won.





I’m staying with a lovely host family near Pinhoe with one of the students from my school – there are 15 of us – and I’m doing a really exciting work experience at Bunyip Craft: I learnt how to make bracelets (in particular, I love the charm bracelets, they are so beautiful) and it’s fun! Bunyip Craft is a wonderful craft shop in Fore Street and I recommend you stop for few minutes in this amazing place, in fact, the first time I came in I was just surprised.



Exeter is a really nice city and there is a lot to do, for example visiting the famous Cathedral and the city centre with its countless shops or exploring all of its streets, plenty of nice restaurants and locals to relax and have a drink with your friends. I’m also visiting the towns around here, such as Topsham and Torquay, in particular this last one is a very beautiful town on the coast, you must visit this place!



I went to Torquay with my friends by train and then we walked all the way long to Babbacombe, up and down the hills with their amazing neighborhoods, shops and gardens: we thought we were in the USA because the streets and the environment were so similar to the ones we see in the American films. It took us about one hour – including lunch time – by foot from the beach to the Babbacombe Model Village: we really enjoyed this experience and the little world was super-great, I was speechless in front of that wonderful village with 13,160 mini-people!



Staying in a place like Exeter is really different from my hometown, which is near the romantic Venice. One is a big modern city (for me) and one is a small town popular for its cathedral, ‘Sanctuary of Our Lady of Miracles’.



Anyway, I’m enjoying this trip, despite the “crazy” weather, and it’s much better than I thought.

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Pattern Drafting and Skirt Making!

We always love a new sewing challenge so we were very excited to try our hand at pattern drafting. Even though there is a bit of maths… I was able to cope with the help of a calculator and some more maths savvy members of staff…

So we wanted to see how long it would take us to draft a pattern and then make and complete the skirt (as we are running a class on 29th June). It turns out we can do it in a day while also serving customers!

I’ve had a bit of practise making this particular skirt before, so this time it was Lily’s turn. We started by taking her measurements so that we could make the skirt to her exact size. Making your own pattern is a great way to get the perfect fit because, lets face it, nobody ever fits perfectly into the standard shop bought patterns! We then used these measurements to draw the width of the front and back pieces and to place the darts correctly. 

Once we’d got our pattern we had to choose our fabric; It was a tough choice but we settled for this grey, flowery design. We cut out the pattern and got ready to do the fun part, sewing!

The sewing part of this project is fairly easy; it’s just the darts, sides, hem and zip. We took our time though to make sure it was just right. 

So this was the finished product!

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Our Day of Quilting

We were really excited to have Dave in our shop last week to finish off his amazing quilt that he was making for a friend. Quilt-making is a new skill for us but we worked through it together and as you can see, the results are excellent (particularly as it was Dave’s first sewing project).
We had to start by putting the layers of the quilt together with some of our quilt wadding in the middle. As we didn’t have a walking foot for our machine, we decided to use some of our spray glue (£10 in the shop). This turned out to be a godsend as it stopped everything from slipping and turning into a big mess!

Now, we watched A LOT of Youtube videos to get an idea of the best way to attach all the pieces. In the end, we went a bit rogue and used the bottom piece of the quilt to create the edge. We were lucky that Dave had decided to use a flag which was bigger than his sewn quilt pieces so we could just fold it over.

And then for the sewing… we had some real issues with the first machine we used because of the thickness of all of the material. After some (mild) frustration, we switched machines and we were on a roll. We’d got almost all of the way around the quilt without any problems when we noticed it had slipped a little at the end. We were able to adjust our stitching and all was ok but if we were to do it again, we’d be a little bit more liberal with the glue to eliminate the problem.

There was a huge sigh of relief after we’d finished and we could step back and admire Dave’s work!



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New Party Project: Decorate a Tote Bag!

Hello again!

We’re on a Bunyip mission at the moment to bring you some inspiring new workshop options – we loved hosting the Paper Piecing Patchwork sessions run by Teresa, and we’re brewing some really exciting embroidery ideas up for the next season.

But for now, we’re really pleased to confirm our newest party idea – decorate a tote bag! This was our April Creative Kid’s project last weekend and it was so much fun that we couldn’t resist encouraging more sessions! All of the children who attended went away with awesome bags that they embellished using loads of fabric, felt, pom poms, buttons, ribbons and sequins.

This class would be loads of fun for adults too – we worked on mini tote bags for this session but could easily offer a more standard size tote for a hen do, birthday party or any celebration!

The price for one of these sessions is our normal £10 per person which includes the bag, all of your materials for decorating and refreshments. You can always bring along fizz too if you’re celebrating!

To book a party you can pop into the shop, give us a ring on 01392 437377 or send us an email to

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Easter Fun Times in Bunyip

Ever since last summer we’ve been loving putting on extra Kid’s workshops in the school holidays, and we’ve just decided on our Easter sessions!

On Tuesday 4th, Thursday 6th, Tuesday 11th & Thursday 13th of April we’ll be hosting making sessions around our table which will give you time to dabble in a bit of Easter cross stitch, tiny bead bracelet making and of course – decoupage! The workshops will run from 10.30am to 12pm, and still cost just £5 per person.

In the past we’ve run these classes as drop ins but (rather excitingly) they’ve gotten so busy lately that we’re now at the stage where we do need everyone to book! So if you fancy heading in for one of these do get in touch with us before so we can make sure we’ve got your name down – you can come and see us in the shop, give us a ring on 01392 437377 or click here.

We recommend these classes for ages 6 – 16, but it’s very dependant on each individual little one, so if you’ve got a young one you think would love to join in please get in touch!