2021 Charity Bags Dropped Off

November 19 – 28 is the collection dates for bags to be dropped off at Bunnings for Share The Dignity’s annual “It’s In the Bag” campaign. If you aren’t familiar with Share The Dignity they are an Australian charity whose aim is to stamp out period poverty providing sanitary products to woman and girls in Australia who don’t have access to them. The work with a lot of homeless and women’s refuges. Just before Christmas each year they run their “It’s In The Bag” campaign where people are encouraged to put together a bag of essential items that will be passed on to women and girls who need them. Whether you make up 1 bag or 50 it will help out a female who has done it tough this year and needs a smile around Christmas. The charity is nation wide and in recent years teamed up with the largest hardware chain store in Australia to be a collection point for the bags. A roster of volunteers pick up the bags from Bunnings through the day to be distributed to the different charities who need them.

As luck would have it the week of the collection dates was the one week all year that rain was predicted every day in Sydney. Our local Bunnings is about a 40min walk each way (longer coming home as we often get Maccas and have a picnic in the park) Looking at the weather forecast Saturday morning we decided to risk it loading up the back of Mr StitchNSew’s wheelchair with our bags. Luckily we made it there and back even squeezing in a picnic.

We put together 3 bags. The last couple of years I’ve set a $20 budget per bag ($60 in total) Our finances are tighter now but we still want to contribute to the campaign. I came under budget by $11 in total. I joined a Facebook group of people who collect for the bags. People would share bargains that they found and that was a really good source in trying to stretch the budget out a far as possible. It was nice to be part of a supportive group who wanted to share their finds with others.

Now to start collecting and making for our 2022 bags. The bags are a never ending cycle, once one year’s are finished we start on the next. I make the bags we donate plus handicrafts that go in them. I haven’t decided on all my fabrics yet but I will in the coming weeks so I can cut them out over the Christmas break. Having the bags made earlier in the year meant I wasn’t rushed to finish everything by November.


Zipper Front Pencil Cases

On my Christmas gift sewing this year were zipper pencil cases. There are heaps of tutorials to follow if you want to make one. There are 2 versions you can make – One that is completely zippers only or one that is only zippers on the front with fabric on the back.  

I purchased my zippers late last year from a small local fabric shop when I restocked my zipper stash. The shop has made up pencil case bundles which consisted of a bunch of zippers all the same length in coordinating colours. This saved me doing all the hard work of picking colours and lengths.  

Sewing zippers don’t phase me, some people struggle with them but I’m very comfortable with them. For each pencil case the first thing I did was lay out the zippers alternating the zip ends. It worked out that all the zipper ends of one colour faced the same direction. I chose a colour as my top one and all of that colour was stitched as the top layer when I overlapped them to sew together. Before I got to the sewing machine I hand basted the zippers in pairs so that they wouldn’t shift at the machine. I regularly hand baste my zippers so this was just 2nd nature to me. At the sewing machine I stitched all the pairs together using a 3.0mm stitch length then repeated the process until all the zippers were sewn for the front.  

For the backing fabrics I found leftover fabrics from previous gifts I had made the same children and used them. This uses up fabric that is ready to go as it has already been prepped plus links gifts I have made at different times together. I waited until after I had finished the zippers and I had my measurements of 10.5” x 9.5” before cutting out the backing fabric. I cut out 2 rectangles and stitched them right sides together before turning out and closing the turning gap closed with the zipper foot. To attach the zippers to the backing fabric I opened the centre zipper then flipped the zippers over so they were faced down. I stitched all around the zippers and turned the pencil case right side out through the centre zipper. All the zippers were doing my head in and I was convinced I stitched the open zipper the wrong end, it was only once it was closed did my mind relax. If my construction method sounds confusing there are lots of YouTube clips which will show you how to do it.

This did take more time to sew than a regular pencil case and originally I thought I would get all my zippers sewn in one day but after the first lot of zippers I had to stop for the day as I wasn’t enjoying it (I stop sewing if it isn’t fun) but it was worth it. I would like to make the version where it is only zippers but I think you need to have more zippers or it have it as a smaller pencil case (I struggle to keep anything on the small side)  If you buy your zippers cheap this can be an inexpensive gift to make. If you need to post your gifts in the mail even if you added in extra items like pencils and markers this is an inexpensive gift to post as it is small and light weight. Unfortunately with the rising costs of postage and transport you do need to take into consideration how you will get your gift to the recipient these days if you won’t be giving them in person.


Latte Mix

Are you a tea drinker or coffee drinker? For years I was always team tea drinker with the occasional coffee if I was out. I never liked instant coffee.

In 2019 I had a regular coffee catch up with a friend several mornings a week but it started to cost a fortune as Starbucks was our go to place. On my non Starbucks days still wanting a coffee hit I started drinking instant coffee sachets. I had a box of sachets at both home and work and would drink up to 3 a day. Although not as costly as a brought coffee the cost still added up. More importantly I noticed the amount of packaging waste involved. The box they came in could be recycled but the sachet didn’t say it could be recycled but even if it could when you are throwing out 3 a day that soon mounts ups. Another thing of concern was the ingredients in each sachet. Each sachet had about 13 items listed as ingredients! It is only instant coffee why the need for 13 things in it.

Looking online I wanted to find a MOO (Make Our Own) Latte mix. There are heaps of recipes out there but most of the latte recipes involved adding in instant pudding mix to give that creamy texture. I don’t want to be drinking instant pudding I just want a coffee hit. I decided to make up my own mix and this is what I came up with.

Latte Mix makes 1 batch

  • 2 cups milk powder
  • 1/2 cup instant coffee granules
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar

Put all ingredients in a food processor to blitz up. To ensure an even mix I put in 1 cup of milk powder then add in the coffee and icing sugar followed by the remaining cup of milk powder. Blitz until all a fine powder forms.
Use one heaped teaspoon per cup. Place mix in cup and pour over small amount of hot water stirring to dissolve the mix then top up with water to fill the cup.

My version isn’t thick like the regular mixes as it doesn’t contain any ingredients that would make that thick texture but it is nice. Although it contains icing sugar it isn’t sweet. You could increase the amount of coffee granules if you wanted a stronger coffee mix. As a bit of luxury I use Moccona coffee. I buy a large jar when it is on special and it lasts months as you are only using 1/2 cup per batch.

I have been making my own mix for over 12 months now. I make a double batch each time and it lasts for weeks. I have a container of it at home as well as work. I bring my work container home and refill it from my home stash. These days at work I have become lazy and don’t even use a stirrer to dissolve it, I just put it in my keep cup and swish it around until the coffee granules dissolve before topping it up, this saves having to wash up a stirrer each day (I was using a plastic chop stick) The latte recipe is on our fridge and Mr StitchNSew makes me up a batch whenever he sees my stash is low. 

I no longer have my coffee catch ups and in fact have gone off Starbucks coffee having the rare one now and then. The coffee sachets haven’t completely banished from our house. Mr StitchNSew enjoys the cappuccino sachets but doesn’t have as many as I was having. He did notice in recent weeks that they have reduced the sachets down by 2g per serve but the price still remains the same. He can’t work and is home all day so if he is enjoying it I’m not going to take that away from him. I’m enjoying my coffee mix at work and home when I need a coffee hit.


Faulty Fabric

A couple of months ago I brought some fabric from Rubyjam Fabrics to make undies with. When it arrived I just put it away in my stash and didn’t look at it. When it came to using it I washed and hung it to dry still without looking at it. It was only when I came to cutting it I noticed something odd.

The fabric had a series of lines/ridges about 2″ apart running across the fabric from selvage to selvage. From memory this was the first time I had brought solids from that shop so I was sure if that was normal for that fabric. It looked like part of the design. I brought a metre and probably about 70cm or more had the lines. I took photos and messaged Rubyjam just to check if it normal so I know for next time, I was making undies so I didn’t care. This was near midday on a Saturday. I had excellent customer service from Rubyjam who answered my question within a couple of hours. Apparently the fabric was faulty and was sent out to me by accident. They apologised for the error and arranged for a replacement piece to be sent to me. Although there were a lot of lines I can see how it was missed. I handled the fabric 3 times without noticing it. The lines were only on one side of the fabric, if it had been cut from the bolt with that side folded in you didn’t see it. It was easy to overlook so I am in no ways angry or upset with Rubyjam, in fact I’m impressed with their amazing customer service.

Unfortunately I hadn’t waited for the response back from Rubyjam before I cut out my undie pieces. I just cut away thinking I’m going to have stripes on my undies. They told me not to sew the fabric as the fabric would come apart along those ridges. Luckily I hadn’t started sewing it. I could still use any of the fabric that didn’t have the ridges on it and that would be ok. I haven’t cut the faulty fabric off yet I’ll wait until I have washed my replacement fabric and am ready to cut out my undies to see how much I can use of it. I don’t think I’ll be able to get the undie fronts of backs but I will be able to get all the bands and gussets. By the time that comes around I might even have another undie pattern traced out I want to try.

Instead of being upset as I have wasted fabric when I am trying to be more sustainable with my sewing I’m looking at this as a learning experience. If I ordered online I will check my fabric for any flaws when it arrives, flaws can easily go unseen. If I am at the shops I will check the fabric that I am buying. Had I not checked if this fabric was normal I would’ve sewn new undies only to have them fall apart (even worse if I was wearing them) so I know now if I come across fabric with ridges again not to sew it. I’m not sure what I can do with the faulty fabric that can’t be sewn. I’m thinking maybe I can cut it up into strips and crochet it into cleaning cloths or something like that. It won’t be wasted, I’ll think of something.


Gruesome Eyes

In the spirit of Halloween this week I thought I might share a quick gruesome project.

This year I’m making cat toys for Christmas gifts and I wanted something a little different to your regular toy. I searched Ravelry for cat toys and came across a few eyeball patterns. I already had a crocheted toy pattern in mind so I decided to a knitted eyeball. The pattern I chose was Gruesome Knitted Eyeballs. On Ravelry you can see projects others have made using the pattern you are looking up. Out of all the knitted eyeball patterns available I liked the finished eyeballs of this pattern the most. The pattern name is a little deceptive as really they are very plain and not as gruesome as other patterns which have bloodshot eyes but you could easily add in streaks of red to create them. I liked that they were simple looking which is what drew me to knit them.

The pattern uses 4ply yarn but I made these in 8ply as that is what I had in my stash. For my first one I used a 3mm needle but it seemed a little small so for the remaining 7 I used a 3.75mm needle. The patern also says to use double pointed needles which I haven’t learnt to use yet so I did them using magic loop which is where you use one circular needle. The pattern is easy to follow but if I could make one suggestions it needs a definition on what method to use for the make 1 increase. I did knit front and back for my increases which worked for the pupil but when I got to the iris my stitch count was off by 2 stitches each time. These are a toys so I wasn’t worried but I think it would be a little bit helpful. I did also add in an extra row of increases in the white section after the final increase row, this really just made up the extra stitches I missed on previous rows. Overall I found the pattern really good. It was a very quick project.

To fill these I used polyester stuff (hobby fill) with a bit of catnip. I have never owned a cat but reading online catnip is popular in cat toys. You can buy dried catnip online from pet shops, I thought the price was a little expensive but I found an online herb shop that sold it in Australia which had it cheaper. I wasn’t sure if 50g would be enough but it is a lot. You only use a bit in each toy and this will fill all the cat toys I’m doing this year with ample left over. I placed a bit of stuffing in each eye followed by a bit of catnip and then more stuffing on top. It was a little tricky getting it in the small diameter of the opening but I managed to fill them and not make too much of a mess.

I’m happy with how these turned out. Mr StitchNSew commented that they are small and they may get lost but I like the idea of finding random eyes around the house.


Ahead Of The Curve

Jenny Rushmore aka Cashmerette has just release her first book and although I’m cutting down on the sewing books I buy I had to pre-order myself a copy as soon as she announced it and I’m glad I did.

If you are not familiar with Cashmerette it is pattern company which originally started as having plus size patterns that came with multiple bust size options C-G as a lot of other brands with plus size options still only draft on a B cup. In recent times they have released some of their patterns in smaller sizes but still with the different bust sizes options. The target audience for this book is for those who have curves as the patterns included (I will get to those later) are from size US 12-32 however I think anyone who does dressmaking could benefit from this book. This book is more than just plus size patterns.

The book is set out in 3 sections

  • Preparation
  • Fitting
  • Patterns

Preparation – In this section Jenny demonstrates how to measure yourself accurately on your own. Some people are lucky enough to meet with friends who can help take their measurements but others like myself often have to do it on our own so it is important to see how to do it right. Once you have your measurements Jenny shows you how to pick your size/s from any pattern including how to grade between pattern sizes if your measurements fall between multiple sizes. Jenny mentions that you may automatically pick a larger size if you are so used to patterns being small which is something I have a habit of doing but it is important to look at the finished size measurements of the garment as you might not need the larger size. I’m very guilty of I’m plus size therefore I needed the biggest size available.

Fitting – This part of the book has an overview of fitting and then is divided up into 5 fit clinics

  • Bust
  • Shoulders and Neck
  • Arms
  • Back
  • Lower Half

Each clinic is very comprehensive covering common fitting problems for that area including showing before and after photos on how to fix each problem. The bust clinic demonstrates how to do FBA’s (Full Bust Adjustments) on both woven and knit garments that don’t have darts. Knit garments is an area not often covered in terms of FBA’s. You may need to a do Small Bust Adjustments so that is also covered. Both FBA’s and SBA’s are demonstrated on princess seams too. Princess seams are a little more involved in doing the adjustments but the book steps you through it.

What I thought was a nice touch was there is a page which mentions fitting for those who use a mobility aid like myself. It discusses things to take into consideration. If you use a mobility aid it might be common sense to think of things such as you need no restrictions around your arms but if you are making a garment for someone else who uses an aid you might forget that small detail.

Patterns – The last sections is the patterns. The book has 5 new Cashmerette patterns.

  • Kersoe Top
  • Magna Pants
  • Stanway T-shirt
  • Honeybourne Dress
  • Foxhill Dress

The patterns are basic which gives you experience is making and fitting the different styles as each one is demonstrated in the fit clinics. The patterns are for a mixture of knits and wovens. I think they are all a classic style. Once you are familiar with making them and have your fitting for your body you could expand on them. You could add pockets or lengthen/shorten them. The patterns are a nice starting point. 

In 2018 I did 2 sewing reatreats with Jenny when she was in Australia which I loved. She really kicked off my desire to make my own clothes. I have made a lot of clothes in the last 3 years however fitting hasn’t been my strong point. I learnt a lot when Jenny was here but I haven’t necessarily put it into practice or the fit issues I found once the garment was made wasn’t necessarily covered during the retreats. I love this book as it covers a lot of the fit issues I have. From seeing my clothes on I can see what issues I had but I didn’t know what they were called or I didn’t know the difference between the different fitting adjustments you see online. In this book I can identify through the photos my issues such as having too much fabric at the back of my neck and needing a rounded upper back adjustment. It is also shows you how to calculate how much you need to adjust the pattern. It is all very well to watch a tutorial online on how to do an adjustment but how do I know how much to do it by? This book covers it and that’s why I love this book so much. This book isn’t just for plus size sewists it is for anyone who has fit issues and finds other pattern fitting books a bit confusing or confronting.


2021 Sewing Bingo Completed

In January I mentioned that I was once again joining Patsy in her sewing bingo challenge for the year. The challenge was simple Patsy provided us with a bingo card consisting of 16 sewing themes and the challenge was to tick off as many of them throughout the year as we were sewing away. To recap the 16 themes were

  • Long Time Coming
  • Something Special
  • More Involved
  • A Repeat
  • Print
  • Quick And Easy
  • A First
  • Fabric From Stash
  • One Piece
  • Everyday Basic
  • A Favourite
  • For Someone Else
  • Pattern From Stash
  • Separates
  • Solid
  • Spur Of The Moment

For the first half of the year I was very productive at my sewing machine and in July I ticked off my last theme from my bingo card and completed the challenge.
The items I made were

As you can see from my list some of the items were for myself but it was nice to make things for others. I’m still enjoying making gifts and of course sewing for charity. All of the fabrics except for the produce bags came from my stash so it was nice to use some of it up, the produce bag fabric was brought late 2020 so I guess technically it was in my stash. I used some new patterns which had been in my stash for a long time so again it was good to finally use them. I tried some new sewing techniques so I learnt a lot from the items I made. Some of the themes were easy to tick off with different projects but others made me really stop and think.

If I had to pick a favourite from the items I made it would be the train case. It was the first item I made and the most used this year. Prior to starting it the instructions really had confused me so I’m glad I finally jumped in and gave it a try.

At the start of the year I said I wasn’t putting pressure on myself to complete all 16 themes nor would I make an item just to fit a theme. Sadly my inner brain had other ideas. I had set myself a challenge with a deadline so in my mind I had to finish it. Although the items were practical I found myself making certain items just so I could tick off a theme such as the Cedar top which was one of my last makes for the challenge. At no point did I not enjoy my sewing but mid year I was thinking I needed to finish the challenge on my July holidays as my Christmas gift sewing wasn’t going to fit the themes I still had to go.

The challenge did motivate me to finally getting in and finishing some projects such as my Appleton or make items which I had been on my mental “To Sew” list for some time so it wasn’t a waste of time or a pointless exercise. It made me realise that I can’t do challenges that have a deadline even if just for fun as my mindset is that I have finish it. In future I’m not going to join any challenges like this. Sewing for me is enjoyable and I want to keep it that way. I’ll set myself little sewing challenges in future like perhaps making an item just from scraps but nothing with a deadline or that involves ticking off items from a list.


Seam Roller

In my magnetic pin holder post I mentioned only buying tools that I have considered for a period of time and this is another thought about purchase.

I try and press seams whenever I can. Most seams I can press with the iron and the various pressing tools I have. Some seams are too tricky to press with the iron or aren’t able to be ironed due to the fabric. I do have a hand seam tool but sometimes that isn’t strong enough or my finger hurts using it. A seam roller solves that issue. To press the seam you simply roll the wooden disc over the seam like using a pizza cutter. You can comfortably apply pressure as you roll.

This will come in handy when I’m making bags as I often have seams in tricky places. I’m also planning on piecing nylon scraps in some projects, as the fabric can’t be ironed this roller will allow me to flatten the seams. Even on pieces that can be ironed I can still use this tool if I just want to quickly press the seam without the need to heat up my iron. Yes I know how important it is to press seams as you go but sometimes I think it is a waste of power to heat up the iron if you have simple seams which you only press for a few seconds and you haven’t used the iron that day. With just a few rolls with the seam roller you can get nice flat seams and can continue on with your sewing.

This is just another useful pressing tool in my sewing collection. I’m happy to purchase items and tools that I’m actually going to use.


Paisley Robbie’s

After the success of making my first pair of Robbie pants I was itching to make another pair.

In my stash I found some cotton sateen. I originally brought this fabric with the intention of colouring it using Liquid Radiance fabric paint when I was going though my fabric painting stage. I’m glad I didn’t get around to colouring it otherwise I wouldn’t have ending up with these funky grey/black/white paisley pants.

When I made my first pair of I used fabric which was brought with the intention of making pants so I had a lot fabric. I don’t actually know what I intended to make with this fabric and I only just had enough to make these pants. The pockets are a fraction smaller than on my first pair as I was really pushing to squeeze them in from the leftover fabric after cutting the waistband and leg pieces. It isn’t noticeable but the pattern print is upside on one pocket due to the fact I wasn’t paying attention to print direction as I scrambled to fit the pattern piece on the fabric.

I used black elastic inside the waistband instead of the white elastic I used in my first pair. Maybe I’m just imaging it but the black does feel a bit better, it just feels more firmer. It also feels like it has a better stretch and recovery compared to the white elastic in my first ones.

I made these at the end of April and wore them all winter. I love them they are so comfortable and the pockets are so useful. Once again I’ve received compliments on these including one from my Covid 19 vaccination nurse which made a stressful situation a little more easier.

Referring to my list to consider when making garments

Creative & Quirky
Natural fabrics

These do tick all the requirements. As mentioned they are comfortable. The style is classic and simple, I like basic. The paisley fabric adds interest but isn’t ghastly. With the fabric a cotton base they aren’t hot to wear. Winning garment all around in my books.


Bucket Hat Repeat

I do like a gift that I can make several times for the same person. Call it cheating, call it being resourceful. There is no reason why if someone likes a particular item why you can’t make that same pattern multiple times for them.

This bucket hat is the first time that I have repeated the pattern in the same fabrics as the original version. Normally I like to change the fabrics around however I still had fabric leftover from the original hat so I used it again but I made a bigger size this time. Instead of cutting into a new piece of fabric it was more sustainable to use up an existing piece of fabric first.

The pattern I used was the Ulitmate Buckhat by Flossstyle patterns. I have made many of these over the years. The pattern is very easy to follow. What I really like about this pattern is that it has sizes from newborn to large adult so you can make them for kids or adults without the need to buy multiple patterns. It also has various style options so you could make the same size in but in different styles.

Would I do a direct repeat again?
If I was making an item for myself it wouldn’t bother me for example if it was to replace an existing item, I wouldn’t make a duplicate item otherwise. If I was making a gift I wouldn’t do a direct repeat of pattern and fabric again for the same person unless it was like in this case in a different size. I often repeat the fabric in different gifts for the same person but I wouldn’t do a direct copy of a previous gift unless it was something they really really liked and had asked for.