Category Archives: Sewing

Sewing – A shirt for myself

Once again, it’s a wearable garment for myself which has made it’s way from my sewing table to my wardrobe. Two pieces of sewn clothing for myself within a couple weeks is pretty monumental when you consider just how few things I’ve made for myself over the past years. But while my Field of Flowers dress has been worn so much since I made it, this top is patiently waiting for the weather to turn a little cooler. This hot, muggy weather isn’t conducive to wearing a 3/4 sleeve top. But I expect as soon as the cool evenings start to roll in, I’ll appreciate having this one ready and waiting for me.

Once again I played with fabric origami to brighten up an otherwise fairly plain top. I like the way the triangles look a little quirky and fun (and not too childish, I hope).

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The finer details for those who are interested:

:: Pattern – Esme top from Sew Liberated

:: Fabric – the main fabric was from the bargain rack at my local patchwork store and the solid colours are a mix of Anna Maria Horner solids.

:: Alterations – I sewed five small, topstitched tucks at the centre front instead of gathers as I felt this would be more flattering on my figure and make it look less like a maternity top. I also sewed a casing at the waist on both sides and stitched a small amount of elastic. This was, once again to make it a little more figure hugging and less like a big, blowsy smock.

:: Other thoughts – I think my fabric was too stiff for the pattern and seems to poke out instead of falling softly (thus, the reason why I added the side elastic and tucks instead of gathers). I also think I would make the neckline a bit narrower if I made another one – it seems to constantly feel like it’s falling off my shoulders (even if it isn’t).  All in all, I’m not completely in love with this top, but to be fair, I haven’t worn it enough to give myself a chance to really like it as part of my wardrobe either. So time will tell on that one. I might have to check back in here and let you know how much I wear it over the winter. What I really like is the colourful, triangle accents around the yoke, the mustard topstitching contrasting with the grey and the brass buttons which have been in my button tin seemingly forever.

:: Would I make another one – hmmm, I don’t know. I think I would like to try this in softer fabric because I think it looks like a practical addition to my cool weather wardrobe, but I find myself getting put off with not feeling ‘good’ when I put this one on.

Sewing – A shirt for my girl

A lot of sewing has been happening around here recently and I thought it was well and truly time to come and show you some of the finished products. Because seeing how others interpret a piece of fabric (or three) and a pattern is really fascinating, isn’t it? Well it is to me. I’m constantly inspired in my creative endeavours by some little quirk that I notice in someone else’s handmade items – an unusual combination of fabrics or colours, or maybe a different design detail, or a combination of fabric and pattern that I would never have considered….

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This shirt for my fun-loving, outdoor-playing, always-keeping-up-with-her-brothers kind of daughter has proven ever so practical. It really ticks all the boxes that I required: feminine and ‘girly’ (she is still 9 after all), easy to care for and easy to wear – tick, tick, tick. It began as a small piece of fabric I bought at an exquisite fabric shop when she was but a wee little baby, snuggled asleep in a sling on the day I browsed that store (I remember it well). The fabric is textured and glitters and is simply beautiful in all respects. From memory it was rather pricey so I only purchased a small piece which has proven to be it’s undoing. I have pulled it from the stash so many times over the years only to find that I didn’t have enough for the project I wanted it for (wouldn’t it be lovely in a smocked dress…. the fabric is soft but has some weight…. perfect….) and worse still I could never find any coordinating fabric that didn’t ‘cheapen’ this gorgeous fabric. So back in the cupboard it went, time and time again.

Recently I realised that my girl was growing up, fast, and if I was going to make something from this fabric for her, well the time was now or never. Then I surprised myself by immediately pulling this yellow patchwork fabric from the shelf. Now, just so you know, yellow isn’t a colour I am normally drawn towards so it’s not very often that a piece of yellow fabric finds it’s way into my sewing room. But I had purchased this piece to coordinate with a patchwork project recently and hadn’t actually cut into it as yet. The two fabrics gravitated towards each other and the deep purple found it’s way in between and the result led me directly to the pattern pile to find a suitable garment that only needed a small amount of this main fabric. This top from my trusty Ottobre magazine was perfect and with a lot of puzzling, pulling and squeezing I managed to create enough fabric – somehow. I loved the result and enjoyed playing with some fabric origami  details (in truth it was my sister who was visiting at the time and fiddling with these triangles on a project she was making at the same time – so really I pinched her idea, thanks Mikaela).

The result is great paired with shorts, a skirt or jeans and best of all this active girl can remain active while still looking girly. Win, win.

 

Sewing – Field of flowers dress

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It’s not something I do very often – sew clothing for myself. But recently I’ve had the desire to actually wear something I’ve made. Maybe it’s a case of my daughter having a cupboard full of lovely dresses which our lifestyle (and her preference) doesn’t lend itself to wearing very often, so she really didn’t need me to make her anymore…. And my boys, well what can I say, boys clothes just aren’t as fun to be creative with, in my opinion. Having said that I have enjoyed the creative, funky kind of clothes I’ve made for them and they have enjoyed wearing them and, if I’m honest two of them are often heard asking me to sew more clothes for them….

But it was the flowery, flowing, girly sort of sewing I’d been hankering after. So I thought I’d be brave and sew for myself. Brave, yes, very brave because in my previous experience, getting a garment fit a young child is far, far, far easier than getting a garment to fit myself.

So armed with a gifted voucher to spend and a pattern which had been on my this-would-be-nice list for a little while now, I set to work. And the results have pleased me no end. I have worn this dress almost every weekend since I made it – my life at the moment, and therefore my wardrobe, seems to be have a firm dividing line between weekday activities/wardrobe and weekend activities/wardrobe. And the pattern is out on the sewing table just waiting for the ‘perfect’ fabric to make a second one (it uses an awful lot of fabric so nothing in my stash will suffice yet….)

 

The details for those who are interested:

Fabric: Budquette Nightfall Voile designed by Emmy Grace

Pattern: Clara Dress from Sew Liberated

Alterations I made to pattern: I added darts to the front bodice and pleats to the front skirt to make the front sit flat  and left out the front elastic (I’m not a fan of front gathered waistbands on myself). I left out the pockets (they were bulky and I found didn’t sit flat when I follow the instructions for setting them in). I sewed down the seam of back skirt/bodice to form a sort of casing for the elastic, otherwise I found the elastic didn’t really sit nicely against the body.

What I like about the pattern: The little collar which was easy to sew and sits flat while adding an extra design element to the dress. The shape of the skirt  gores as well as gather/pleat fullness. The easy to follow instructions – this was the first Sew Liberated pattern I had used.

 

Note: My husband stopped by this wheat field to get some photos while we were out driving one day. Then he kindly asked me to get out there in the field to add some interest to the photos. I obliged, knowing I wanted a photo to show you this dress (and I very rarely find myself in any photos), but I got out of there quickly. It was a hot, summer day in a black soil paddock and I know that is the perfect habitat for certain wriggly creatures which I’d rather not encounter. Thankfully I didn’t upset any sun baking snakes on this particular day!

Capturing Cuteness – and new overalls

Overalls 9 Overalls 7Overalls 6 Overalls 5Overalls 3Overalls 2Overalls 4Time spent with needle and thread in the studio is always time well spent, in my opinion. It’s an opportunity for me to revive, think, plan, listen to a podcast (or three…) and generally just enjoy doing what I love. That is, if the studio time is snuck in after the little ones are already asleep, of course.

In daylight hours, it’s a different story. As soon as I step foot into this room I can almost guarantee I will be joined by one or more little people – how many join me depends entirely on the time of day and what other activities might be in progress at that moment. These little ones become intent on working on their own creative projects and usually require my help in the process. Therefore, in these moments the studio becomes rather noisier and somewhat less inclined to quiet, reflective thinking or productive sewing.

But regardless of the time of day, or the noise level, or the amount of people crowded around, it is always a creative space. And a space I try to carve out time for more and more often – both in daylight hours and after bedtime has come and gone (often my bedtime as well).

It was in the fun, noisy, creative atmosphere with five of us in this little room that the first of these overalls were made – or at least the fabrics were chosen and design planned (some sewing may have happened in the productive ‘after hours’). And it was a few hours later, in the quietness of evening that the second of these overalls were begun. Could you guess?

Fun, bright and happy fabrics on black corduroy chosen by these fun, bright and happy children. Chambray pinstripes trimmed with a more subdued print chosen by me. Of course. That makes perfect sense.  But both suit this littlest man just perfectly with his big personality, cheeky smile, adorable cuteness and fun loving nature.

 

 

Winter PJ’s

After all my talking about the beautiful winter days I did last week. It feel’s completely appropriate to mention here that it’s been getting awfully cold as well. In fact it’s the first time in about 7 years that I’ve spent a winter in a place where frost can be found on the ground – quite thickly, every morning – and even ice on the car windscreen! I think I’ve become a bit soft about the whole cold weather issue, living in the mild climates which I have in recent years.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, winter days are still my favourite time of year, especially when spent in the glorious sunshine outdoors. But it’s the nights and early mornings which are taking a bit of getting used to.

Since my studio is the most lovely, deliciously, warm, sunshiny (that’s a word isn’t it?) place to be found in our home during the day. And as a bonus it’s within cooee of anything happening in the yard and rest of the house as well – a big bonus with four little ones (and not-so-little-ones) running around all day. I’ve been spending a good amount of time here. Perched at my big, white desk, playing with fabric and wool. Such a delightful way to spend these afternoon hours, I do think.

The wool part is still in process – knitting does take time, now doesn’t it. And I’m learning as I go so I suspect it’s taking me more time than some. But that’s just fine. The process is ever so enjoyable. But the fabric and sewing part, I’m much more adept at – a fair amount of practice in this area I suppose.

And the result of my studio time this last week has been my four munchikins snuggled warmly in mummy-made pi’s each night, under a Mummy (or Ma) made quilt.  Ahhhh, it does my heart good to see that as I slip a little kiss on these four sweet faces, on my way to bed at night. Warm children snuggled in Mummy’s love. Yes, a good way to greet the slumber I do think.

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It’s such a pity you can’t feel these fabrics. They are so delicious. Flannels – yes. But the thickest, snuggly flannels I’ve ever sewn with. I would compare them with a wool rather then a typical sewing flannel. I discovered them at one of my favourite patchwork shops last year but refrained from purchasing (I was very aware that shifting house etc. wasn’t conducive to much sewing and they would no doubt sit in the cupboard if I bought them then). But this year a new range of prints arrived. Much more subtle, like ‘grandpa’s pi’s’ was the way I described them. So, of course, I had to splurge. It was a rather extravagant fabric to use for kid’s pi’s. But I figure they sleep in them every single night for a whole season (or more) so why not use the nicest possible fabrics.

Hexagon Quilt

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It’s been such a bustling, creative time in my studio lately. I’ve been finding moments here and there to hide away and stitch yet another seam or cut another piece – you know how it is when the creativity is bubbling over in your head and there is no other solution but to utilise those little pockets of time to recreate the beauty in real life. This creative bug seems to have hit most of the family, with various children accompanying me in making things – sometimes working on their own projects and other times actually helping me – I’ve been taken quite by surprise to find that the older ones are now ‘big enough’ to really help me out – pinning quilts, cutting fabric, even sewing a seam or two…. very capable. Oh, it’s been one of the nicest surprises to discover.

With all this making happening, I thought it was high time I called in here and showed you some of our creations. It’s one of those things I find hard to balance – the creative input seems to run in spurts and I get so caught up in it that I forget to come to this place and share with you lovely people – and I really enjoy doing that and along the way hope that you enjoy sharing our lives as well. So let’s grab a cuppa (I’m enjoying a freshly brewed, black coffee in case you would like to join me) and I’ll tell you about this bright, spring-like burst of colour which currently adorns my table.

It was a project which just kind of evolved while playing around with the pack of pre-cut triangles which I had bought a year or two ago when I was teaching children’s sewing classes but it was never used. In the effort to finish off some projects and clean out the sewing cupboard a bit, I thought I’d put these bright triangles into use. I really liked the triangle/hexagon shape mix so sewed them together as such – this took many weeks in between travelling and other projects and of course everyday family life! Then it sat waiting for my quilting pins to be finished with another project (to be revealed here soon).

Still without any final use in mind Eamon decided it made the perfect blanket for himself and his teddies and almost daily he would come and get it off my sewing table for whatever use he had in mind before returning it when he was finished (hmmm, at 2 years old he isn’t always this efficient in returning things to their correct place). He even tried to use it while it was in the sewing machine in process of quilting, this required a high level of negotiation skills on my behalf  to convince him to use a different quilt that time.

Then as I finished the last hand stitch on the binding late one evening last week, I lay it over the table to look at it and decided it really looked at home with the mis-matched brightness of our chairs. And there it has stayed for the past week or so without anyone, including Eamon, using it for anything else – so I think it has found it’s home (for now at least).

 

Business Card Holder – Tutorial

With my fabric business cards made and showing my personality, I decided that a place to keep them safe would be essential – after all, my handbag is more accustomed to holding spare clothes and snacks for the children than these cute little cards. So I set to work with co-ordinating fabrics and the result makes me smile – perfect for me.

Follow along and I’ll show you how to make your own.

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You will need:

2 pieces 5 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ outer and lining
2 pieces 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ pockets
5 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ iron-on pellon
1 small hair elastic

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On one long edge of each pocket piece, fold over 1/4″ and iron in place. Fold over another 1/4″ and iron in place enclosing the raw edge along that side and creating a double hem.

Topstitch close to folded edge.

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Place pocket pieces onto right side of lining fabric with hemmed edges toward the middle, raw edges matching and right sides facing up.

Iron pellon onto wrong side of outer fabric. Place this outer fabric/pellon piece right sides together with lining/pocket piece.

Pin.

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At the centre of one end, insert hair elastic between the pocket and outer fabric. Allow enough of the elastic loop sandwiched between the fabric to allow a button to pass through, leaving any excess elastic to be caught in the seam. Pin in place.

 

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Using a 1/4″ seam, stitch around the edges leaving an opening for turning along one of the longer edges. Reinforce the elastic by backstitching a couple times.

Clip corners.

Turn right side out.

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Gently push out corners, using a semi-pointed object (ie. tweezers held shut or a blunt pencil).

Iron, making sure the opening seam is ironed in and sitting flat.

Topstitch close to outer edge, stitching the opening closed.

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Stitch two rows of topstitching down the centre of holder. This makes a nice, crisp fold when it is closed.

Hand sew a button in place on the front of holder, Stitch through outer and lining fabrics but keep the pocket out of the way while you stitch. Determine the button position by marking where the centre of the loop sits when it is closed.

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Fill with your business cards and enjoy having something pretty to protect them.

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Sewing Boys Shorts – again

Once again I find myself at my sewing table with a need to add to my youngest son’s wardrobe. Shorts, again…. Well his wardrobe wasn’t completely lacking in this department, it’s just that the last batch of shorts I made – 6 in all for this toilet training boy – didn’t have pockets. What a terrible oversight made by this Mummy. I thought I’d just quickly run up some simple shorts so I had a few spare pairs, nothing fancy, just using whatever fabric I had on hand (not really ‘photo worthy’). But… this two year old of mine has his own sense of style, obviously. The first time he put these shorts on, he looked and looked but couldn’t find the pockets. After much convincing he did leave them on but, had to wear a jumper with pockets. And this has continued, he wears these shorts only with one specific jumper – the jumper with pockets. All well and good if the weather suited wearing a jumper. But in our sweltering, hot, summer weather this causes all sorts of issues. What an oversight, this Mummy not putting pockets in the shorts.

So this time I’ve gone back to my tried and trusty pattern (which you can see here and here and here) and made him two pairs of shorts – complete with plenty of pockets!! These are very similar to the shorts I have in my shop.

But, oh dear, I am struggling with these shorts, I cut out the wrong size … late at night, not thinking and all that. So he now has these two pairs sitting in the cupboard waiting for next year and I’m back to the sewing room today for another instalment of making boys shorts.

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A Finished Floral Patchwork Quilt

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A pile of pre-cut squares left over from a project made several years ago, have lived in my sewing cupboard. Not really enough to do much with, yet enough to warrant something nice and pretty. I have always loved the fabrics and combination of florals, spots and stripes and had many ideas of what I should or could do with them over the years. But in the cupboard they remained.

In an attempt to clean out my fabric drawers, I dug them out with the intent to make something.  I found some extra blue floral which gave me enough for a basic patchwork, lap quilt. A bit of measuring, cutting, joining and measuring again meant I could squeeze enough fabric for a small, pink spot border and a patchwork binding. I was really pleased with the result and could foresee it being a snuggly quilt to live over the back of our lounge chair.

I found some pearl cottons in my stash, which were a perfect match and began quilting with them. But after the winter season had passed and still the quilt remained unquilted in my handwork basket, I knew it was a ridiculous idea to even consider hand quilting in the heat of our spring, summer, autumn time. So back to my ufo box it went.

Then, just recently, it surfaced once again. This time I had downloaded this machine embroidered quilting design and it matched this quilt perfectly. I had been anxious to try quilting with my embroidery machine for such a long time, but it had seemed a bit daunting. Now I had my perfect project to practice on – not too big and busy fabric – good to hide any mistakes.

The quilting was so very easy. A couple things I would do differently next time – use a bolder thread, make the design a little bigger etc. But overall I love the finished result.

A New Smocked Play Dress

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This dress has been a regular visitor to my sewing basket for over a year now. I bought the material on a whim simply because I like the colour and the softness of it. I brought it home and promptly pleated it up – the same time as this dress actually. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, what pattern to use, what smocking design to stitch. But I did love the colour: smile.

The fabric is so light and flimsy that is was not easy to smock. So I shelved it many times, deciding to forget the whole process. But the colour kept calling me back and I would attempt smocking once again: smile. We moved house and it nearly didn’t get packed, in fact is was in the ‘throw out’ pile, but somehow it moved itself – that colour, I tell you…..

Then the year was getting later, December had arrived and our hot, Australian summer was in full swing and I decided it was now or never. I had to either make this up or forget it for good – after all this girl of mine was growing and it wouldn’t fit her forever. A week long holiday by the beach was just what I needed. This dress has memories of waves, sand, beach, pool and family holiday fun smocked into each stitch.

I made up the smocking design as I went. Doing all that green, lattice smocking without any real idea of what I would do next to brighten it up, but thinking of Susan O’Connor’s beautiful designs all the time. In my basket was a selection of bright, flower garden coloured, threads which I kept looking at, trying to get inspiration on just how to use them. But after several attempts I couldn’t get my ideas to work. The flimsy fabric limited what I could do (lots of bullion loops covering the bodice just wasn’t going to hold). After so many attempts, I’m finally very happy with the outcome.

But I still had to decide on a pattern and make it up. Light, green, summer, flowy fabric just needed a summer, sundress. Digging through my rather large (almost complete), collection of Australian Smocking and Embroidery Magazines I spotted the sundress here. Decided.

Then Christmas Eve I was totally organised for going away, bags packed, cooking done, children all occupied and still about 4 hours till my husband would be home from work and we were to leave. So I sewed it up. Such a quick and easy pattern to sew, no sleeves to fit, no bodices to line etc. I even had plenty of time to hand stitch the hem and do a (very quick) photo shoot and still be well and truly ready to go visiting our families. And Holly had a new, cool, sundress to wear on Christmas Day.

Ahhh….. That’s the way I like a sewing project like this to end.