Archive for the ‘Sewing’ Category

Wearable muslin

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Pattern: Crepe by Colette Patterns, version 1
Fabric: chambray from Spotlight
Started: about a year ago
Finished: when it was too cold and dreary to take photos of it outside, 2013

Late last year and early this year, Matt and I attended a spate of weddings. I have no idea what the collective noun for weddings is – a celebration of weddings perhaps? Whatever it actually is, we just call that period of our lives Weddingpalooza.

This dress was part of an optimistic idea to make a dress to wear to some of the weddings. Specifically, it was the proof of concept before cutting into the actual fabric I wanted to use to make the Weddingpalooza dress.

I have an admittedly irrational fear of sewing, mostly because you can’t frog a mistake like you can in knitting. So, every step was taken very carefully and deliberately; multiple muslins of the bodice were made, adjustments drafted, measuring multiple times before cutting, unpicking when things were even a little bit off. In the end, I only made three adjustments to the pattern. The first one was to narrow the neckline so it sat on my shoulders better. Then I adjusted the back pieces to account for the changes to the front. Lastly, I took a little bit out of the shoulders because I wasn’t rocking the linebacker look as well as I thought I would.


The result isn’t without its flaws – the bodice is probably a wee bit short, the placement of the darts is a bit off and there’s probably a little too much fabric in the bodice. I also have ongoing problems with the armhole facings, where I have to tuck them in when I put them on, even after tacking them down at the top and bottom. Despite these issues, I’m still really chuffed with the result. I think the dress looks great in chambray and cannot wait to wear it now that the weather’s warmer.

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Despite my general trepidation about sewing, this really wasn’t a difficult pattern to put together. The pattern instructions were very clear, and on the odd occasions when I was confused, Gertie’s Crepe Sew-along posts were really helpful.

As for the actual weddingpalooza dress, it never happened. Although I thought I’d left enough time to make the trial and actual dresses, life became a bit too busy and something had to give. In hindsight it was probably for the best as the fabric I chose, a pretty poplin, was a bit too stiff for the pattern.


Not all is lost for this fabric, for one day it’s destined to become a Macaron. All it’ll take is for me to build some confidence and learn the gentle art of zipper installation.

2012: accessorise, accessorise, accessorise

Over the last couple of days I’ve been thinking about my crafting year, and haven’t felt particularly compelled to write a post. However, for posterity, it’s probably a good idea to write down a few words.

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This year was again a fairly quiet knitting year, filled mostly with relatively quick to knit accessories and not one jumper to speak of! Using Ravelry as the definitive source of my knitting productivity, all of my finished objects were fun to knit and featured elements that kept me interested (even the very basic stockinette stitch beanie I knit in July). Some of them, Jan and Wavy Line in particular, get a lot of wear. Seeing all the finished objects together made me realise something quite disturbing; there was a distinct lack of grey yarn. Before you start fretting about the future of grey in my wardrobe, let me assure you that there is some grey yarn at the top of my stash, ready to go for next year.

There are quite a few WIPs lying around the house, more than I care to contemplate. Late this year I broke my slightly arbitrary ‘only two WIPs at a time’ rule, thinking it was a temporary measure so I could keep knitting on my commute to and from work. However, I overestimated my enthusiasm to finish up those WIPs. As keen as I am to start on the year of vintage patterns, my first job next year will be gather the unfinished knitted objects that have been artfully strewn around the house and finish them. An exception to this is my wretched Pickadilly Cardigan, which needs to sit in the corner and think about itself for a little while longer. I never thought I could harbour as much animosity towards an inanimate object as I do with Pickadilly! In general I consider myself a relatively patient knitter, but that project has had me on the expressway to tantrumtown a number of times.

2012 sewing grid

Aside from knitting, I made (another) tentative foray into sewing. This attempt seems more successful than the last, even though the projects I took on were all pretty basic. Despite being fairly simple, I use them often (with the exception of the baby bootees) and I’m still quite happy with how they all turned out. As with my knitting projects, I’ve got a few sewing WIPs as well that I need to finish before starting anything new. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to start doing something about that fabric stash of mine.

Now that I’m here on the last day of 2012, I don’t really know how to describe it. From a crafting and non-crafting perspective, it wasn’t a bad year. However, I couldn’t say it was a great year either. Let’s just split it down the middle and call it neutral.


Just to state the obvious, this ol’ blog of mine has been neglected of late. However, I’ve been able to steal moments of crafting time here and there.

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I heart Aran as been in my knitting queue for a little while now, and now it’s coming up to Summer it’s the perfect time to be making a thick, cabled shawl collared jumper. If you’re getting a sense of déjà vu, it’s because I seem to do this every year. I don’t need to yarn bomb, defying the seasons is my own form of extreme knitting.

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This tie for Matt has been on my needles since the start of this year. It’s just a glorified scarf really, and I’ve been working on it in dribs and drabs. It’s one of those projects that gets put aside when something else (gift knitting, any other project that’s more interesting) comes along. It’s a hybrid of two patterns and one technique; this tie pattern from Lion Brand, a tie pattern from Knit Two Together, and this decreasing in seed stitch tutorial from TECHknitting. All it needs now is to be seamed up.

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Lastly but not leastly, I’ve been doing a bit of sewing. Shortly before the unintentional hiatus commenced, I had a harebrained idea to make a dress for a wedding (not mine). The reason it was harebrained is twofold; I’m not a confident seamstress and as it’s for a wedding, it can’t look shabby. I went through all the motions by making muslins of the bodice and adjusting the pattern and making a trial dress. The trial dress is almost done, but the goal of making a dress for the wedding has been reluctantly abandoned. I think it’s something that warrants its own post, so I shan’t go into any more details now.

That pretty much sums up my last two months from a crafting perspective. What have you guys been up to?

Scrap bag

An unavoidable by-product of knitting and sewing is all the little scraps of yarn and fabric that are just too short or small to be useful. There’s always a twinge of sadness when I collect all the scraps up and put them in the bin. It’s almost a sense of mourning, like they could be used for something else. Turns out that ‘something else’ is a draught stopper.

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We live in a fairly draughty house, but our ability to do anything about the gaps under the doors is limited because we’re renting (if we owned this house, that carpet would be a distant memory). Draught stoppers can be purchased fairly cheaply at the supermarket, but at least this way I can pick the fabric, customise the height and length and feel satisfied that those little scraps are no longer wasted.

Even though it’s a ridiculously simple project (it’s just a stuffed tube of fabric, after all), I’ve found that I can use it as a pseudo-rubbish bin, slowly filling it with scraps until it’s at the right length. It does mean that it can end up being a bit lumpy as some scraps pack in a bit tighter than others, but if it’s just sitting on the floor stopping the cold wind from entering the house, I don’t think that matters too much.

For a mildly harebrained idea, it’s worked well so far. It’s only yielded one draught stopper, but even just that one is making the house less breezy, and I feel less guilty about the amount of fabric and yarn scraps I produce.

Baby boots

I seem to be at a point in my life where more and more of my blog posts are starting with “a friend/colleague/neighbour/stranger I saw down the street recently had a baby”. This may be a reflection on the frequency of my blog posts rather than the birth rate amongst my friends and acquaintances. Whatever the reason, I’m making more and more baby things and enjoying how my crafty output is changing.

The most recent gift for a baby was a departure from my craft of choice. My friend was having her baby in North Queensland, so I was a bit hesitant to make the baby something that would be too warm. Instead, I sewed some wee booties from some fairly thin wool felt. This decision doesn’t seem nearly as logical when written down; it made complete sense when thinking about a suitable gift a couple of months ago.

baby boots

Felt Baby Shoes from The Purl Bee
Grey wool felt, red embroidery thread
Started: May 2012
Finished: May 2012

They were quite fun to make, and certainly came together faster than a knitted equivalent. I do, however, need to work on my blanket stitch skills because things got a bit wonky where the top of the boots overlapped.

The felt I used was from a jumper Matt wore many years ago. When fulled, it made a soft, thin and slightly fluffy felt that I think worked ok for baby bootees. My favourite part of the boots are the soles, which were from the fulled cuffs of Matt’s jumper. Hopefully it looks like faux-tread, because that’s the effect I was aiming for!


For me, the most difficult part of the project was sewing elastic in the top of the boot. I kept agonising over the placement of the elastic (and in turn, the little red crosses), but after a bit of trial and error, I think they look pretty even.

Since making these, I’ve made another pair from some Winterwool felt. Rhey look just as good in a more rigid felt, if not better. Conveniently, one of their 20cm by 23cm squares was just enough for one pair of boots. They don’t have the charm (if you can call it that) of the faux-tread, but having a simple ‘1 square of felt:1 pair of boots’ ratio is quite appealing to me.

If you’re looking to make a pair of baby bootees, this pattern is well worth considering. They’re cute, quick, and quite fun.


Not long after finishing the tote, I started working on another project from the sewing course I started earlier this year. It was a supplies roll up, something I really needed for my double-pointed needles. Up to this point, my collection had languished in a draw and locating a matching set usually required spending some quality time with a needle sizer.

The project was going swimmingly until the thin cotton lining had to be attached to the canvas outer. The instructions required attaching the pieces with wrong sides together, and I had no end of trouble getting the two pieces to sit together nicely. They were the right size given the measurements in the pattern, but no matter what I did, the two pieces wouldn’t stay just so and they ended up looking messy. After four or five attempts to get it to work (sadly this is no exaggeration), it got put aside until such time as I felt I could revisit it.

Yesterday I got the pieces back out again and tried a different approach. Instead of sewing the pieces together wrong sides facing, I sewed them together right sides facing, turned the piece right side out and top stitched around the edge to secure the pieces together. It worked much, much better for me and before I knew it, the roll was finished.

roll goes up

It’s by no means perfect. There are a number of things that are wonky, but mostly it looks pretty good and I’m pleased enough with it that it’s already in use. The lining is already a bit wrinkled, because I’ve been rolling and unrolling it in a manner not unlike Homer Simpson.

roll goes down

It’s the win that I really needed. I’ve been feeling quite unenthused about my knitting and sewing of late, mostly due to things going wrong (due to mistakes on my behalf and not on my behalf). Now that I’ve finally finished something and feel pleased with how it turned out, I feel like I’m getting back on track. Fingers crossed for smoother crafting seas ahead.

The next frontier

I’ve gone off my knitting at the moment. While I wait for the joy of knitting to return, I’ve been doing some sewing.

My relationship with sewing is a slightly strange one; I really like the idea of making my own clothes, quilts, bags etc. but making the leap from thinking it’s a good idea to actually sitting at a sewing machine has always been a challenge. I’ve made a couple of garments in the past which turned out OK, but have never felt particularly comfortable or confident when using my machine. It’s a skill that hasn’t yet clicked for me like knitting did, which has meant that every little hiccup along the way has been met with frustration rather than an acceptance of it as part of the learning process. Really, why can’t it just work?

After finding a great little metal body Bernina at an op shop late last year (I’ll save that tale for another post), I began to get frustrated at the fact I kept getting frustrated with sewing. Like a dog chasing its tail, my frustration went around and around, faster and faster until I stopped and found a sewing e-course that looked interesting. It started at a point below my current level of sewing knowledge, but to my mind that was a good thing; it would help to reinforce the fundamentals I learnt in Year 7 textiles.


The most recent project I made from this course was this tote. It’s quite a simple project, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. I deviated from the pattern a little bit by shortening the side panels and adding a contrast panel down the bottom and it worked out just fine. The contrast panel is some upholstery weight fabric I found in an op shop years ago. It was found on a rainy day, a couple of hours before my shift started at work. I distinctly remember holding onto this small bolt of fabric (the cardboard tube had broken so it was flopping around all over the place), trying not to let it get too wet or hit fellow commuters while taking multiple forms of public transport to work. It was one of my more awkward commutes and it must have been at least a little bit embarrassing for my poor friend (and workmate) who was shopping and then commuting with me.

Yes, anyway, this tote. I’m still a long way from being able to make my own clothes, but this project feels like a turning point. There were a couple of times where things didn’t go quite to plan, but it didn’t elicit the usual response of frustration. I just stopped what I was doing, got my seam ripper out and started again.

As for the course, I have mixed feelings about it. There are a couple of little things that I’m concerned about, but I’ll wait until I’ve completed more of the course before posting my thoughts. In the meantime, the course has meant that I’ve been sewing and I want to keep sewing. The sewing outlook is positive so far, and that’s the most important thing.

Little paper stockings

For a good part of yesterday afternoon, Matt and I worked on putting these little beauties together. As many of my non-knitting projects do, this started off as a childhood memory. When I was younger, I really liked receiving those clear plastic stockings filled with popular chocolate bars for Christmas. They’re admittedly cheap, overpriced tat, but there’s no accounting for taste when you’re younger (my love of New Kids on the Block is another example of my dubious taste as a child). From that little seed of a memory, I made my own version of them.

paper stockings

Because they’re pretty quick to put together, and thus could work as a last minute gift, I thought I’d note down how we went about making them.

Stocking template
Sewing thread

Wrapped sweets


I’m not good at drawing, so I found a stocking template on Google Images to trace around. My stockings ended up being around 18cm long, 8.5cm wide at the top and the foot 12.5cm long. However, rather than be prescriptive about it all, I recommend finding a template that appeals and go with that. Or, if you are that way inclined, draw a stocking shape freehand.

traced out stockings

We then traced the stocking shape onto a double layer of paper. We used brown paper from a large stationery chain store and could fit three stockings across the width of the paper. The most important thing about selecting paper to use in this project is to choose something that is strong enough to hold the weight of the sweets and treats you wish to put in them, but not so stiff that it can’t be closed up at the top.

At this point it’s probably best to cut around the stockings, leaving a 0.5-1cm seam allowance, but as my sewing skills are about as good as my drawing skills, I sewed around the stockings first using my sewing machine then cut them out. In some ways this was a good exercise in sewing machine control for me… in fact, it’s possibly something I should have done before launching into sewing garments. Oh well, you live, you learn.

sewn stockings

Then we erased any visible pencil marks, and filled with a delightful assortment of wrapped lollies. I found it a bit difficult to get lollies into the toe of the stocking. This slight issue could easily be alleviated by making a bigger stocking, or using a template where the foot is not at a right angle to the leg.

stocking with lollies

Once the stocking is filled with treats, sew up the top, trim any excess thread and any excess paper at the top, and you’re done!

‘Tis a really simple project; in fact, I’m wondering whether I really needed to write out directions. Unnecessary though they may be, they do provide a good segue way into wishing you all a very relaxing and enjoyable holiday period. Stay safe if you’re driving anywhere, and beware of snow drifts (this goes for people in the northern or southern hemisphere!).

How I spent my day

There aren’t too many major things to report from round here, so here’s a highlights reel of the minor things I did today.


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Bara Brith via Taste
Mods: omitted the mixed peel, increased the sultanas to a heaped cup, used cinnamon, cardamon and nutmeg rather than mixed spice, used Nuttelex rather than butter (didn’t have butter on hand and was impatient to make the bread), and halved the amount of honey glaze.

The bread looks great (even if I do say so myself) and tastes just as good. Next time I’ll use even less honey on top of the loaf as it’s quite sticky.

In making this bread, it became clear that that bread making and knitting are complementary activities. The long proving and baking times allowed me to get quite a bit of knitting done. Admittedly, I could have been washing dishes as I went, but knitting beats doing the dishes every time.



Pincushion (PDF) by Fiona Lech

My goal of properly learning how to sew this year began in earnest today, finishing a project started at Brown Owls last year. It turned out a bit wonky, both in terms of sewing the two circles of fabric together and spacing the red threads to form the pin cushion segments.


Despite its homely appearance, it’s still completely usable and the buttons used on either side match nicely. This project sits firmly in the ‘should have gotten round to this ages ago’ camp, so I’m really happy it’s finished. Now, to find some suitably pretty pins to go with it!



Somerset by Melissa Werhle

Not so much knitting, but blocking. This project was started in December and is now nearly finished, but hasn’t been mentioned on here until now. It’s not a project that is meant to be kept secret, nor am I unhappy with it (far from it actually), I just haven’t gotten round to posting anything about it until now.

The yarn I’m using is Cleckheaton Angora Supreme, a yarn discontinued around five years ago. While it’s a lovely warm, soft yarn, it likes to spread the angora love around a bit. Even while pinning it out, quite a few whisps of angora stuck to the mat. Black clothes should be avoided when wearing this, I think.

So there is my scatty, yet productive, Sunday. It felt like I was hopping from project to project with rapid pace throughout the day, but the products of my stop-start labour are quite pleasing. If only all weekends could be so fruitful!

Behind the scenes

Lately I’ve been trying to keep myself busy by finishing off projects that have been lying around adding to the general untidiness of my house. I’m quite proficient in starting projects, but not so good at finishing them. As a result of slowly chipping away at things each night, some projects that were only just started are now nearly finished, and some things that were nearly finished are now in my cupboard, ready to be worn.

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Simplicity 3835 (a Built By Wendy pattern)
Random green fabric from Spotlight

This really is a great pattern, pretty easy to put together, and hides sewing flaws quite well. The only modification I made from the last time I made this top was to not put elastic in the sleeves. I find the red one is a bit restrictive because of the sleeve elastic, and in some ways I think the top looks better without it.


I cannot for the life of me remember what this fabric is, I bought it a little while ago and only just got round to making something with it. However, it does have a tendency to fray, so I used zigzag stitch on the edges as I don’t have pinking shears or an overlocker (note to self, buy pinking shears). I hope that will be enough to stop the fraying.

It’s such a satisfying feeling getting projects finished, no matter how big or small they are. It seems a shame that it’s something I don’t indulge in that often.