Friday, January 31, 2014

Soap Making

Something completely different and non sewing related today - soap making. It has been a couple of years since I made some soap. You really need a house to yourself for a few hours to make a batch and I haven't had that for a long time. The big three were at their grandparents last week and Chris took Olive out a few times so I could make some soap.
Home made soap is a bit like hand knitted socks, once you try it you never want to go back to the store bought stuff.
I learnt to make soap using a kit from Aussie Soap Supplies and I make a couple of variations of their basic recipe.

We have a few of those shaped silicone cake moulds that are useless for making cakes in so I tried them as cake moulds. I think the girls will like this soap - it might encourage them to actually use it!
  I bought this book on Soap Crafting recently. It is a great book on soap making, it thoroughly explains the whole process and has some recipes I would like to try. I can't see myself getting into the whole intricate colouring thing, but I like to see what different combinations of oils do.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hammer Time

Burda 9493 was an impulse buy when Burda patterns were on sale. The twins rolled their eyes. Then I showed them MC Hammer on YouTube and they rolled their eyes even more and told me they were ridiculous. Eva said she would try a pair out. 
I used some Japanese cotton knit from Spotlight. I left off the pockets and didn't follow the instructions, I made them the way I normally make pants. They look comfortable, Eva said they were comfortable, but she isn't sure if she will wear them out or only as pyjamas.

 I bought the not quite so ridiculous adult version - Burda 7230 - to make some Pilates pants. No pictures of me wearing them, they aren't flattering at all, but they are incredible comfortable and perfect for Pilates class.
I also had to do some essential, but not that fun sewing this week. Grace needed new bathers. I made some for all the girls some at the start of the year, some have worn really well, but this blue fabric was a bit thinner and that pair had stretched and had some holes in. In contrast the brown floral pair is still in really good condition. It has Guess in little writing all over it, so I am assuming it is surplus fabric from Guess while the blue had Speedo on the selvedge. Interesting to see how one is so much better quality than the other.
More shorts for growing Olive. I had to use this cute Heather Ross fat quarter as soon as I got it.
I think I need to downsize the hammer time pants for her, I think they'd look really cute on those little legs.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Strip Savvy on the Martingale Blog

I'm over on the Martingale Blog sharing a little more about my book.
Go have a read and then leave a comment for a chance to win an ebook.

All photos by Brent Kane, courtesy of Martingale.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Strip Savvy - Quilting the Quilts

One thing I really wanted to do when I started writing the book proposal for Strip Savvy was to quilt the quilts myself on my sewing machine. When I first started quilting I never ever considered quilting my own quilts. I either saved up and sent them off to be long arm quilted by someone else or I folded them up and popped them in the cupboard and then started a new quilt top. I just didn't think it was something people did themselves. Gradually I saw more and more people quilting their own and after researching and reading about walking feet and free motion quilting on the internet I gave it a go.
It was scary at first and my first goes resulted in masses of tangles thread and some truly awful quilting, but as I practiced my quilting improved. Now one of my favourite parts of quilting is seeing the transformation of a quilt top into a quilt. I'm the first to admit I am no expert and I wouldn't look too closely at some of the things I have quilted, but I am not entering shows with them and most quilts I make are for my children or other family or friends and I just want them to be loved and used.
I use a Bernina 440 for all my piecing and quilting. It is a lovely machine to use and it does have the bonus of having a stitch regulator so the stitches are even  as you free motion quilt, but I did learn to quilt on my older Janome that doesn't have this feature. The quilting area for the Bernina is not huge, but I have still managed to quilt all the big quilts I have made with it.
If you still aren't sure about quilting it is worth getting out your walking foot and just doing straight lines or 'kind of straight, kind of wonky lines' like I did for the Scrappy Crosses Quilt.
Once you learn to do basic stippling it is quite easy to add a few variations. You can add in some loops or flowers every now and then. In Night Sky I added stars as I quilted to echo the stars in the pattern.
 I echoed the straight lines in Open Sesame by free motion quilting squares and rectangles.
 Bubbles and Circles are always fun and add great texture especially to smaller quilts like my Color-Block Coins quilt.
I hope I can encourage you to have a go and turn some of your finished quilt tops into finished quilts!

Thursday, January 23, 2014


I am having a little destash on Instagram. I am not the only one. If you are in Australia and looking for a few bargains look through all the photos tagged #greataussiedestash.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

In Threes

It has been hot, but I still like to knit while I watch TV at night. So I need to knit things that aren't too heavy or big. I have a few random skeins of Malabrigo in the stash and I know a few people have made an In Threes Cardigan from just one skein. 
The pattern seems to run large so a cast on an 18m size hoping it will fit Olive the rest of the year.
I almost made it, I ran out of yarn halfway though binding off an had to use all the tiny extra bits that were used to tie the skein up.
I found three perfect buttons in the stash left over from a vest I knit for Eva.
I loved knitting this so much I have cast on one in yellow.
More details on ravelry.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Plantain Top

A new shirt using the free Plantain t-shirt pattern by Deer and Doe. I liked the shape of this when I first saw it last week. It is different from the usual fitted shirts I wear. I did take it in a little on the side at the waist after I made it and I cut a couple of inches off the 3/4 length sleeves as I found the sleeves quite long. I can see a couple of minor changes I need to make after looking at the picture, but it has a great neckline and is really comfortable to wear.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Strip Savvy Scrap Quilts

Over the next few weeks I thought I would share a few things about my book and some of my favourite quilts in it.
I included patterns for a few little scrap quilts. One of them is called Steps and uses lots of bright quilting cotton scraps, but I wanted to make an alternative version of the pattern and use up all my scraps that aren't quilting cotton. Most are cotton/linen blends, but there are other blends too. I wanted to show that you aren't limited to cottons when you quilt. Most of these are from amazing Australian designers who screen print their own fabric.
I used a Kaffe Fasset shot cotton as the background and it blended beautifully with all the slightly different textures in the other fabrics.
This is probably the easiest quilt in the book and great for any beginner. Milly has asked if she can make  little quilt and I think with a little help from me she will be able to make this pattern.

We've just had a few days down south, here was our view one morning. Perfect.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Strip Savvy is out!

Look what is now available!

Wednesday, January 08, 2014


The rashies and bathers I made for the girls at the start of the year have been great, especially the rashies. The ones I have bought in the past from the chain stores never last a season and often lost their stretch and became droopy and see through quite quickly. The ones I made are still going strong and haven't had any of those problems. I bought the fabric for them off ebay. It is great fabric, it has kept its shape and its colour and I'd have no hesitation in buying more. 
The only thing wrong is that they are getting too short, so I made some new ones. I used the same three colours for each to stop the inevitable arguments over who gets which colour.
We are having the perfect summer weather at the moment so they are getting worn a lot down at the pool.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Washi Dress

I'm pretty late to the Washi Dress party. I've often looked at the pattern and admired all the great Washi dresses out there, but never thought it would suit my body type. All of a sudden the other day after flicking through the Washi dress Flickr group I bought the pattern. and immediately printed it out and made a muslin of the top half. Surprisingly it wasn't too bad. Here is a list of the alterations I made:
  • I knew I wanted to make the top longer so I added 2 1/2 inches to the length of the front
  • I added a bottom dart on either side
  • I also altered the sleeves as they stick straight out and I do not need to make my upper arms look any bigger then they already are. I'll show you how I did it at the bottom of this post
  • I added 2 1/2" to the length of the back above the shirring line.
  • I used the collar from the expansion pack.
  • I adjusted the hem length, as I added length to the top I needed to make it shorter.
Things I still need to alter for a better fit.
  • I could still alter the sleeves a little to make it more capped.
  • The side darts hit at the wrong spot, they just need moving.
This might seem like a long list, but they are all minor changes and I think I nearly have the perfect dress and there are so many variations of this dress you can make.
I used a Japanese cotton I bought at Spotlight recently with deckchairs on it. I had no idea what I would do with it when I bought it, I just knew I needed it. I think the Washi dress is the perfect pattern for it.

To alter the sleeves I cut four lines from the flat side to nearly the shoulder side, but don't cut all the way through.
Fold and overlap a little, I stuck them down with stickytape. I traced a new pattern piece adding a seam allowance at the bottom of the sleeve. As you now have a curved edge at the bottom of the sleeve you can't cut it on the fold so you must cut four sleeves.
Sew each pair together, right sides together. Turn right sides out and press. 

Monday, January 06, 2014

Vogue 8810

Vogue 8810 was an impulse buy in the recent Spotlight $5 Vogue sale. I wasn't really too sure about it, but when I googled it there were a few nice ones out there.
As it is not a really fitted dress I cut it out without doing a muslin in my normal Vogue size. I made the fuller skirt, but I did take some of the fullness out by pleating the middle of the skirt front and back pieces before I cut them out.
As it is not so fitted it is really comfortable and I used some voile from the stash which is perfect for the really hot weather we are going to have this week.
 The one thing that does need changing if I ever make it again is the collar, the band is great in the front, but it is ridiculously high in the back, the back was the perfect height before I attached the band. I have folded it back, like a shawl collar, in the rest of the pictures and that is fine with the voile, but with a stiffer fabric it wouldn't fold down so well.
 Definitely a good impulse buy and if I find some more nice voile or lawn I will make another one.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Simplicity 1717 #2

I love my corduroy version of Simplicity 1717 and wore it a lot in winter. I found this great denim, not too dark, not too light at Textile Traders recently and thought it would make a good summer version of the skirt. The only change I made was to the pockets, I upsized the pockets from the Parfait Dress and used them instead of the ones from the pattern.
I made this two weeks ago and I have already worn it four or five times. I have noticed the t-shirts I wear with it are a little old and thin so making new t-shirts is on my list of things to do soon.
Have you seen Pip's Year of Ethical Fashion pledge? Such a great idea to really think about where your clothes are coming from, how they are made and how they get to you.

Friday, January 03, 2014

2013 Finishes

I spent last night finishing off a few things from last year that were nearly finished. These two little quilts just needed the binding sewn down and I hung them up in the hall which has become a mini quilt gallery. I tried photographing them in there, but the light is horrible so here are my little helpers, who wouldn't show their faces this morning, holding them up.
I have been catching up on podcasts as I sew. This week I'm really enjoying listening to Abby Glassenberg and Quiltcast with Amy Ellis and April Rosenthal.
What do you listen to while you sew? Any recommendations?

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Half Square Triangles

I love half square triangles. The possibilities are endless.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Happy New Year!

I'm not big on resolutions and making lots of big changes all at once, but there are a few things I would like to do this year. One is to stop over thinking things when I sew. I'm sure I spend more time thinking about what I should sew or knit, if a pattern will work or if I have chosen the right fabric or yarn. This goes for quilts and kids clothes as well as clothes for me. I just have to remember that if something doesn't work that it isn't such a big deal. I seem to learn something new from every new pattern I sew.
The weather has warmed up and our house on the hill can get very hot during summer and I am in need of a few new voile dresses. I chose New Look 6804 to try first as it looked quite quick and easy. Unfortunately it is awful on me, a horrible shapeless tent that is not worth fixing. The fabric was from the bargain table at Spotlight and I can cut the dress up to make something for the girls so not all is lost. I definitely suit styles with a bit more shape.

 I have pulled out a few other patterns I want to try. I have some fabric out that I think might work for Vogue 8810 and hopefully I can cut it out tonight. There are some nice examples of this pattern around so I am hoping I can make it work.