I have mentioned on here before about my food related OCD issues. One of them is that I don’t like touching my food with my hands when I’m out, if I can avoid it I do. Sometimes you can get utensils sometimes you can’t. At work in my desk drawer I had packets of plastic utensils but I decided to get a set of reusable ones and need something to hold them in.
If I want a zipper pouch my first pattern of choice is the Essential Wristlet by Dog Under My Desk. I have only ever made the pattern twice as a wristlet all the other times I’ve used the pattern for pouch or bag. The size I made this time is the regular box corner version. I set myself a challenge of choosing fabric from a plastic storage tub full of random small pieces. The fabric sizes aren’t big enough to make a full project with but too big to be classed as a scraps. In terms of the fabric print I won’t say I was looking for ugly fabrics but more fabrics I was unlikely to use in other projects for myself. The size of the fabric was more important as I was looking for pieces around the size of my pattern piece to avoid fabric waste. I’m not a big fan of stripes or animal prints but I’ll happily use them on a pouch like this.
I used a cotton dress zipper I found in my zipper stash, again it was a zipper I was unlikely to use in another project. I didn’t use any interfacing in this pouch as I wanted it to collapse down. I have a lot of items in my desk drawer so I didn’t want it to take up more room than necessary. I’m really happy how it turned out.
After using the cutlery I brought I discovered I didn’t like the shape of them. The spoons were an odd shape, they felt more like a scoop in my mouth not a spoon. They were really awkward to use. The forks felt too fat too. Unfortunately we didn’t have any spare cutlery at home so I purchased a metal set and replaced the plastic ones. There was no point holding onto a set that I wasn’t comfortable using. The new metal ones are a slightly different weight to our regular ones at home so we can distinguish between home or work ones. Buying the plastic set wasn’t a total waste, they are quite sturdy so Womble can use them out on the balcony when gardening as small tools are easier when working in pot plants.
I mostly take sandwiches to work but when I do need to use cutlery I’m happy that I have my own now.
Some projects jump the blogging queue and this is one of them. I’m so happy with how it turned out I just couldn’t wait to share it.
A little background to this dress. At the end of last year (summer time in Australia) I finally started using the pool in our apartment complex after it had been opened for over a year. To get to the pool and back I need to walk through a few common areas including those which have air conditioning. I didn’t like to wear just my swimming costume in transit so I would wear a t-shirt and wrap a towel around my waist. On more than one occasion the towel fell off as I walked, I struggled to hold on to it as I walked. I needed to come up with a better solution.
I decided a dress would be the easiest option as it gave me coverage over my torso area plus it was only one item of clothing I needed to make. I have many dress patterns in my stash but I’m a creature of habit and instead of trying something new and having to fit it I went with a top pattern which I had made 3 times before and lengthened it to a dress. Even though it is March and now autumn in Sydney we are having a period of hot weather, I wanted to get this dress made so I could wear it whilst the weather was still warm. The pattern I chose was the Cashmerette Cedar Dolman top. This is my TNT (Tried and Tested) top pattern and now dress pattern it seems.
This wasn’t the first time I had lengthened a top pattern to a dress. I’d previously made a dress using the tutorial from Wendy Ward’s a Beginner’s Guide To Sewing With Knitted Fabrics. In essence all you are doing is adding length to the bottom of both the front and back pieces. If the top doesn’t fit over your hips you may need to grade out the angle to fit your hips. I measured Peak dress to get an idea of how long to make my pieces. I decided on finished length of 43″ from top of shoulder to hem which in hindsight was a little long so next time I think I could do only 40″. The length doesn’t restrict my movement and I can still negotiate stairs in it.
The fabric I used was a terry toweling knit which has been in my stash for over 10 years. From memory I picked it up at a charity shop and have only used a small portion of it in a previous project nearly 10 years ago which is how come I know how long I’ve had it. I knew it would shed fibres when I cut it so I used pinking sheers instead of regular scissors to cut it out. This saved my floors immensely from looking like a fight with Big Bird.
I make my Cedar’s a little different to pattern instructions. The design has a centre front seam which I eliminate. I cut my front piece on the fold just like the back piece. Due to the seam allowance the front piece is 1″ wider than the back. I can’t remember what I did on my 3 previous ones, I think I placed the front pattern piece 1″ over the fold line of my fabric to remove the extra fabric. This time I moved my back piece 1″ back from the fold of the fabric so that I it would have the same amount of fabric. To make this top as low fabric waste as possible I pinned my front piece to the fabric, measured down 21.5″ from the bottom of it and drew a rectangle to make the front of the dress. From the bottom of the rectangle, I then drew up another 21.5″ and placed the bottom of my back piece and pinned it. My fabric wasn’t directional and didn’t have a nape so I could flip the direction of the pattern pieces. I’ve done this technique many times before on bag pieces but not on clothing and it seemed to work well, there was very minimal fabric waste.
Whenever I make an item with shoulder seams I reinforce the tops of the seams. Normally I use stay tape which I fuse on to the back pattern piece. This stops the shoulder seam from stretching out. For this dress I decided to use some of the same fabric to reinforce the seam. I didn’t know how well the stay tape would fuse to the towelling fabric and I had scrap fabric leftover so why not use it instead. After I cut out my pieces I measured along the top of the shoulder and cut two pieces to fit which were 1.5″ wide. On each strip I overlocked (serged) the short ends and one of the long ends. I then placed them on each shoulder of the back piece and stitched my shoulder seams as normal. They are rolling a little as this is a knit fabric. I’d forgotten I have used this technique before but with a narrower piece as the shoulder and in a fabric that didn’t shed. If I do this again with a wider strip like in this dress I would top stitch down the pieces before I did my side seams. On this garment I’m not bothered by the rolling in. I constructed this dress all on the overlocker and only used the sewing machine for the binding.
I make 2 other small modifications when making my Cedar’s:
I add between 1″-1.5″ to the end of the sleeves as I don’t hem them the traditional way
I don’t put a facing on the neckline instead I use bias binding or a band
On this dress I used binding on both the neckline and sleeves. I had some leftover soft cotton twill bias binding I’d made previously so used that. Normally I sew the binding to front and flip it back to the inside of the garment and stitch it down so you don’t see it but I decided to have some fun and make the binding a contrast feature so this time I did the opposite sewing it down on the front. The bottom of the dress is a double fold hem. My hot ruler came in handy for this and it took no time to do.
I did have the thought I hope I’m more banana than Big Bird which is something I never thought I would ponder. I actually really like this dress hence why it jumped the blogging queue. It is functional, it used a fabric and binding which I had on hand so it is sustainable and decluttering at the same time. I was a little worried about the colour (I’m not a bright yellow person) but I think this dress actually looks cute.
When I came across the Rebecca Page Unicorn Pillow pattern I knew I needed to make it. The pattern is free if you sign up to her newsletter. This is technically a pillow but you could also call it a stuffed toy as it is more 3 dimensional than a regular pillow.
Depending on how big you call a fabric scrap you could make this all from scraps. For me I term scraps as offcuts leftover from other projects. I went shopping my fabric stash for a piece of fabric large enough for the main body and the ears which is the main part of the pillow. I found a thickish quilting cotton that was just about the right size to use it all up. I then raided my scrap stash for the mane, horn and inner ear fabrics. Both the horn and the mane have a gold glitter print on them. A unicorn needs sparkles. The inner ear fabric was just another scrap of quilting cotton. You don’t see the inner ear that much so it doesn’t need to be fancy. I don’t normally sew closed eyes on toys but on this occasion I followed the pattern and did so, her head is down so she does look like she is sleeping. Instead of using felt or embroidering it on as per the instructions I used pom pom trim. It adds that extra dimension and texture.
For the nostrils instead of using felt or fabric I crocheted a heart using a variegated embroidery floss from my stash. I think it is adorable. I used the heart pattern from another crochet pattern I was making at the time. I remember years ago crocheting a tiny heart so I know there are heaps of free pattern out there for them.
This was a simple yet very cute pillow. I do have another one semi cut out so I will be making it again for another gift.
Confession at the end of 2022 I made another Bralette but I thought before I blog about it I should post about a couple I made in 2021 that I never got around to sharing yet.
Back when I was doing “To Sew” lists which were lists of clothing patterns I wanted to try the Calista Curvy Bra by Stitch Upon A Time was on my list. It is a sports bra which came in 2 versions for the front and 4 options for the back. The 25K bralette by Rad Patterns I came across in a Facebook group. It is a plain sports bra that comes in multiple cup option. The pattern is free for those who join the Rad Patterns Facebook group otherwise the pattern is only $5 (US) so not too much and I have to say is worth the money. I decided to make both bras at the same time.
At the time my measurements were Full Bust – 46″ Under Bust – 38″
For both bras I ended up picking size XL for the front/back and size L bottom band. Both patterns had options for the cup size so I chose the larger option for both. For the Calista I kept it simple so went plain front and back. On both I used cotton lycra for both the inside and outside. On the front I used a print and the back was black.
Unfortunately the Calista didn’t work for me. Across the back it fitted but at the front there just wasn’t enough fabric to give me coverage. I couldn’t even get away with just wearing it around the house. I found the shoulder straps to be very narrow too. You sew it via the burrito method and it was very hard to pull the right way out with the narrow straps.
The 25K was a lot better. It was a similar shape to the Calista but I had full coverage at the front. The only drawback as such is that there is a little bit of uni boob going on but that isn’t too much of an issue. It is so comfortable. It is designed for low support. In 2022 I pretty much lived out of it on weekends if I had to dash to the local supermarket (about 60min round walk) It gave me a break from having to wear wires (which I do Monday – Friday) To make it more supportive instead of using cotton lycra you could use athletic or swim knits or line it with power mesh.
With the leftover fabric I made a pair of Scrundies. It was the first time since I was about 11 that I had a matching underwear set. At the start of 2022 I had to have biopsies done (they came out negative) I wore my set to the appointment. In my mind I just needed that little bit of me made clothing and comfort to get me through it. The biopsies were done under local and I didn’t have any pain after it but it was very reassuring to know I was going to put back on a comfy bra afterwards.
I offered the Calista to a friend’s daughter but it was too big for her so in the end I unpicked it. I haven’t done anything yet with the fabric. The pieces are an awkward size, too small for me to cut into undies for me. It is in my knit scrap box and I’ll figure out something with it.
After making the two I had been meaning to make another 25K but never got around to it. If I was to make another I would take up the shoulders a little. You have the option of putting non roll elastic in the bottom band which I might also try. I’m unlikely to make another Calista, I think I would need to do a full bust adjustment which is a lot of work when I know the 25K fits. As mentioned at the start I recently made another bra which, like the 25K does need some adjustments but it does fit, so I won’t be making another Calista.
Back in 2015 I made a denim tote bag. It was to replace a tote bag which I had for nearly 10 years. At the time I said I hoped it would last me 10 years.
Unfortunately late last year the bag got a hole in it. Womble didn’t realise it had fallen from his grasp and it dragged on the ground besides his wheelchair for a period of time. The hole wasn’t huge but it was large enough and in an awkward position that you had to be careful what you carried in it. As the bag gets used a lot by Womble these days I decided to repair it. There was one jagged tear and a couple of places where the fabric was grazed. The easiest way to repair it was to put a patch over the entire area so the grazed areas wouldn’t later turn into holes.
For the patch I used an offcut of denim leftover from when I made the aprons. The denim is slightly thicker than the stretch denim which I used to make the bag but it isn’t too bulky, it isn’t like a jeans denim. I measured the area around the hole and cut my patch an extra 1″ wider and taller. Using my hot ruler I ironed over a 1/2″ seam all around the patch. I wanted a generous seam allowance so that I could stitch it on securely. I hand stitched it into place. Given the location the patch was it in it was easier to sew it by hand instead trying to manipulate it around on the sewing bed.
I’m really pleased at how it turned out. I like the little bit of contrast the patch adds. It is also a great little visual reminder that I’m making sustainable choices and prolonging the life of items where I can.
Another of my library borrows was A Zero Waste Life In Thirty Days by Anita Vandyke. Once again prior to reading the book I knew nothing about the author, the title caught my attention as I was looking through the online library catalogue. Anita is actually from Sydney so it was nice to a zero waste book written by a local.
The book is written as a 30 day challenge to start the reader off on living a zero waste lifestyle. The book has the traditional introduction to zero waste living chapter then is broken into 2 halves Days 1 – 15 – Think and Do Days 16 – 30 – Reflect and Review The book focuses on broader activities instead of physical items to swap out of your life. Each day is like a mini chapter where you are asked to an activity that day and then an explanation is given as to why you are doing that activity, it is important to understand why you are doing something.
For each activity there is 3 levels of participation
It allows the reader to perform the activity at the level they are most comfortable with at the time, the reader can ease themselves into zero waste living slowly. Anita points out that the key to living a sustainable life is that it needs to be sustainable for you. As someone who is lazy I find that point very true, for you to actually change your lifestyle it needs to be changes that you can continually do easily or you won’t stick with them. Zero waste or sustainable living isn’t hard but it is somewhat of a change to how the majority of people live and it can take time to adjust and create new habits. By starting small and reducing you can overtime increase to a level you can maintain.
This book has a big emphasis on the link between zero waste living and minimalism. Only having items that you need or that are meaningful to you means you are consuming less which is better for the plant but also for your mental health as there is stress or visual clutter. One of the activities I found interesting, but it may sound a bit morbid is to write your own eulogy. Wait what does that have to do with zero waste? It allows the reader to think about in the end what do they want to be remembered for? Will people remember you for your values and generosity or because you had the latest fashion clothes? You character and values are more important than keeping up with the latest trends. Zero waste living is also about using your time more meaningfully, doing activities which have a purpose instead of mindlessly consuming social media. Social media has a purpose (you’re reading a blog post which is considered social media) but the types of social media you consume is important. Informative or educational social media helps to broaden your mind but social media that is feeding ads to get you to consume and purchase items you don’t need is zapping time away from you that you could better use to do all things you say “I would if I had the time”
I didn’t do the 30 day challenge, I read the book in an afternoon/evening. It was a hot summers days, I sat on the balcony after a swim, it was really relaxing. I even remembered to take notes as I read. I’m not a novice in the zero waste world but I still found the book interesting. The way the book is set out with the mini chapters and the fact it measures 5.5″ x 7″ (14cm x 18cm) makes it the ideal “waiting” book for your bag. You know the times when you’re waiting for public transport or sitting waiting to see a doctor, you just want a book you can whip out and read in small chunks. This would also make a great gift for someone who is interested in the topic but doesn’t know where to start.
I’m a creature of habit. If I like a pattern I will make it over and over again as is the case with my toiletry bag pattern. I made 5 in total for this year. By chance today is Valentine’s Day and all of the bags have hearts on them.
The pattern I use is the Boxed Corner version of the Essential Wristlet by Dog Under My Desk patterns. I enlarged the pattern to 150% when I originally printed it. This size holds a lot making it the perfect size for a toiletry bag. Last year I made 2 for my nieces as I have started a tradition that they get one for their 12th birthday. It is the year they start high school so they will be going to more sleepovers and camps. I used the same fabric for both and used a different colour zipper on each one. The outside is a quilting cotton which I used to make a previous gift for their older sister. I still have some of the fabric left which I’m hoping to use in a gift for their younger sister so that all the girls have something made from it. The inside of the bag is nylon.
The other 3 I made are for this year’s charity bags. I put all the containers of liquids (shampoo, conditioner etc) in them when I donate the bags. Toiletry bags are a practical item for the charity bags and very simple to make. The inside fabric is once again nylon and the outer another quilting cotton from my stash. Originally I had the quilting cotton cut to make WIRES pouches but my stitching on them wasn’t too good so I salvaged the fabric and cut out the toiletry bags instead.
I was planning on using orange zippers as I had plenty in my stash. So that the zippers matched in with the rest of the toiletry bags and didn’t look odd I appliqued a heart on one side of the bag and did lines of my favourite machine quilting stitch design on the other side in orange thread. It is a row of hearts which flip as they go along. I made the outsides of the bags and then discovered I only had 2 orange zippers left in my stash…. opps! I found a purple zipper and used that as the 3rd zipper. Lesson learnt for next time check that you have all the supplies in the colours you want before starting a project.
This won’t be the last time you see this pattern on here as I plan on making more again this year. Before planning out fabrics I will check to see what zippers I have beforehand.
2017 was the last time I made pj tops and they are still going strong. They are a little stretched out now and fit more light nighties instead of tops but they are still wearable. You can see my previous versions here and here. At the start of last year after finding a green cotton knit in my stash I thought I would make another top.
I used the Kwik Sew K4088 pattern which is the same one I used last time. It is a men’s pattern but I like it because it is a roomy top. Once again I made size XXL.
The fabric was a heavier cotton knit than I used last time. Like when I made my previous ones I didn’t finish off the hems. Call it conserving resources (thread, power, time) call it laziness. Knit fabric doesn’t fray so there wasn’t any real need to finish the hems. It does mean they roll a little but it’s a PJ top so it doesn’t matter I don’t think. The side seams on my previous tops haven’t come undone as I stitched them on the overlocker so these seams will also be fine.
At first I thought the fit was good. Upon wearing it a few times my mind changed a little. I know in recent years my rounded shoulders have become worse. Wearing this top it became apparent. At times I feel like it is choking me a little. It isn’t totally uncomfortable but I just notice it a little. As my other shirts are so stretched out I don’t notice it but as this top is new and maybe a little more stable knit I can feel the difference.
This year I’m taking a deep dive into the world of fabric crumbs.
If you are not familiar with the term fabric crumbs are the small bits of fabrics leftover from when you cut out pieces for a project. Each person has their own definition of what size and shape a crumb is. For me it has to be at least ¾” in size. The shape can be square, rectangle or triangle. I am using a few irregular shaped pieces providing I can get sew a straight edge. General consensus is that the pieces are too small or difficult to sew with in a traditional project. Normally these pieces would get discarded, used as stuffing in projects or I used to donate them to a local pre-school for toddlers to use.
There are different ways you can sew with crumbs. You can join pieces together to form strips or blocks that you can use like regular quilt blocks. You can start with a centre piece and join pieces around each edge and work outwards creating a large piece of fabric. For the 3 projects I’m starting with this year I’m using a foundation piecing method. I have leftover scrap of denim which I’m using as a base and sewing my scraps together on top of that and flipping them over. I’m working on 6 pieces at once. I have a box of crumbs which I select from each time I’m adding a piece on. It is like a giant jigsaw puzzle except you don’t have a picture to work from. You look through the box and hold crumbs against the work until you find one that will fit that section. I’m stitching on 2 or 3 crumbs per piece before ironing all 6 pieces at once.
Generally with crumb quilting you have a slightly smaller seam allowance than the normal ¼”. In the past I’ve had issues with seams coming undone when I joined scraps with a smaller seam allowance. I’m using my seam ruler to mark the seam ¼” line on each piece then using the line to sew over. On this project I’m handing sewing all the crumbs on to the denim. Due to the piecing method I’m using I can’t chain piece the crumbs together so hand sewing uses less thread as I have very minimal thread waste knotting and tying off the thread after each piece is sewn. It is also a way to use up bobbins and spools which have small amounts of thread still on them. I love hand sewing so this project is very relaxing and fun.
So far I’m enjoying fabric crumbs. Moving forward it is going to be very hard for me to throw out any fabric crumbs as I now know that they can be used with a little planning and creative thinking.
The after Christmas sales can be very tempting but this year I didn’t buy a lot because frankly I didn’t need anything. I stocked up on some supplies which I will be using throughout the year such as bag findings and yarn (for WIRES pouches) There was one indulgent purchase which I had on my wish list if I saw it on sale.
About 5 years ago I purchased a Hot Hemmer which is gridded ruler that you can iron directly on allowing you to do accurate hems. It measures about 4” x 6” and has a section to do curved hems as well markings for mitred corners. I use it so much that I keep on the bottom drawer of my sewing table so that I can reach for it easily when I need it. 5 years on I still keep it in the plastic wrapper and packaging so that it doesn’t get dusty and the packaging also keeps it flat. The only downside to the hemmer that when you need to keep moving it along when you are doing a really long hem such as on a skirt or shirt. I wasn’t the only one thinking this so Clover developed the Hot Ruler.
The Hot Ruler is 2.5” x 10” making it 4” longer than the hot hemmer. It is narrower than the Hemmer but it would be very rare that you are turning over more than 2.5” of fabric at one time for a hem. The extra length is what is important and the most useful. There are a couple versions of the both the hot ruler and hot hemmer depending if you like imperial or metric measurements. For all things sewing related I prefer imperial. On the hot hemmer/ruler the imperial versions (blue versions) looked less cluttered than the metric (red versions)
Just before new year I made a pj top. I left the hemming of it until I got my new hot ruler so that I could try it out. The top was a cotton jersey and the ruler worked really well on the bottom hem as I only had to move 2 maybe 3 times for each of the front and back. For the sleeves which were narrower I used the hemmer as it was smaller.
I know the hot ruler will be a well used tool. I can use it for not only doing hems but also when I’m doing bag straps which require a quarter fold press (press fabric in half then press each raw edge into the centre fold) At times my pressing isn’t always accurate when doing straps but this ruler will help.