Frocktails 2018 Planning

Photo Courtesy of Useful Box

Last week the 2018 Sydney Frocktails event was announced. Frocktails is a night out where everyone who likes to sew gets together to talk all things sewing, fabric and patterns. Wearing a “Me Made” garment is optional. It is a fun night where you spend half the night walking up to people and rubbing the side of their clothes to feel their gorgeous fabric. It was a kind of last minute decision for me to this years event but 2018 was a must and in fact I was the first to buy my ticket.

Even though Frocktails isn’t until February I have limited sewing time between now and then. I still have to finish of my Christmas gifts plus I have birthdays to make for in January and February so I want to get my outfit organised sooner rather than later. I’ve decided I want to make 3 pieces:

  • Cape
  • Top
  • Skirt

This sounds like a lot but all the items I am making are very simple and wearable again in other occasions. Yes I wanted to make something to wear to Frocktails but looking at my lifestyle I don’t do a lot of nights out to venues where you need to get dressed so there is no point making a ball gown when Cinderalla never goes to a ball. Each item I am making I could in fact where to work in an office if I wanted to.

Sydney, February is not what you would normally think of as cape weather as it summer. I hate air conditioning so I always have a jacket wherever I go. I thought a lightweight cape might be fancier than a jacket and give me the coverage over my shoulders. I purchased this Burda pattern last year after seeing Anne Whalley make it. I really like the style of view D. From a fabric swap earlier this year I picked up a polyester knit that has velvetine blue dots all over it. To be honest I only picked up this fabric as it was blue but I think it will make an awesome cape.

At this years event I won the Lou Box Top pattern by Sew DIY as a lucky door prize. As a connection to next years event I want to make that top. Earlier this year I did make it with a jersey knit but I have decided to go with fabric with a bit more drape this time. Last weekend I purchased a modal poly knit fabric. It has a nice drape to it. It should make a lovely version of the top. I really like the feel of this fabric, even though it is a poly it doesn’t have that icky feel to it. Apologies to anyone who can wear polyester silky fabrics and who likes them but some fabrics I can’t wear as I know I will be too hot in them.

In hindsight maybe I should have purchased more of the modal fabric to make a matching skirt as I think it would be a nice out fit. Sadly I know there is no more fabric left in the shop as the sales assistant was buying what was left as she liked it so much. Looking at my fabrics for my top and cape which by chance really match well together I think I am going to have to make my skirt out of strong contrasting solid colour. Recently at another swap day I picked up this textured black fabric but it is a thick polyester so although I may make a winter skirt out of it I don’t think I can wear it to Frocktails. I think with the fibre content I have chosen for my top and cape I think I need a cotton skirt. Putting these fabrics together at least lets me see what colouring I need to choose. I will most likely pick a black or possibly even a burgundy, shock horror but I don’t think I would go a blue.

Pattern wise I think I will go a simple pull on elastic waisted skirt. I have a couple of patterns I will probably pick from. These a quick simple skirts. I don’t want anything fancy for my skirt. I intend to visit another fabric store next month where I may find some fabric.

So I have made a start at least on my preparation for Frocktails. I haven’t set myself over ambitious items to make. For months I wasn’t enjoying sewing but the spark is back again.



Wings 2017

I have made more Butterfly wings as Christmas gifts.

The pattern is Butterfly Wings Wifemade. It is a pattern that once you have it in your stash you can make it numerous times you just change the fabric and applique, the possibilities are really endless.

Photo courtesy of a screen shot of my Instagram account

This year I cut all my fabric pieces out of unbleached calico and hand painted them with liquid radiance. I painted a set of wings each time so I kept the colours consistent using the same combination of colours for that one pair. I love painting fabric with liquid radiance. If you are not familiar with the product it is a fabric paint rather than a dye. It isn’t a messy product so it is perfect to use in doors and providing your not doing sun printing where you need sunlight it isn’t weather dependent so you can use it any time.

After the success of using glitter felt on the pair I made last year Christmas I once again used it. This year I was a little more free hand with my shapes. I folded a felt piece in half and cut as many shapes out of it as I could so I would get 2 of each shape. I put all the pieces in a bag and just randomly selected shapes for each wing based on the colours. I deliberately chose felt colours that would go with the painted fabric.

I did have a minor construction element detour shall we call it with some (ok half) of these wings. When I did pattern magic to create the centre seam I must have had excess fabric that didn’t get enclosed in the seam so I was left with some raw edges. Unfortunately the area is very hard to than machine sew over so I couldn’t use glitter felt to cover it, the glitter coating makes glitter felt a little tougher to hand sew through. I raided my felt stash and found suitable regular wool felt so I hand stitched that in place to cover it. As these are hand painted each wing is an individual and the extra centre spine of wool felt just adds to that.

I am really glad I thought of using a nappy pin to turn the tubes. It made the job of turning the tubes and later threading the elastic through a breeze. Just before it came to doing the elastic I found a box of similar size pins at the shop, they call them large safety pins. I am glad I purchased them as I was using 4 per set of wing straps when I did the elastic. I found the pins at what in Sydney we call a $2 shop, a small independent shop that sells the most random things from gift wrapping to sink plungers very cheap. Sometimes you come a cross little gems and my large sewing pins were gems.

I do like these wings. They will be fun for the girls who get them this Christmas. They were also fun to make. I loved painting the fabric and thinking about each item I was creating. I loved the process of picking what felt shapes to use on each one. Even the process of overcoming the seam debacle got my brain thinking of what skills do I have and resources available to fix the issue. I honestly think I get more out of the items I make than the person receiving them does.


Blue Potholders

I again have made potholders for a Christmas gift. They are a very practical item to have and can also be used as a trivet. At Christmas you are always in need of potholders and trivets for all the hot dishes so you can never have too many.

Once again these pot holders contain a layer of insulbrite in them which is a heat resistant fabric but this time I added a double layer of cotton batting not just one layer. Last time I made these the top fabric was a double layer as it was foundation pieced where as this time I just used straight fabric so it all works out even I guess.

I am pretty proud of these. I found this fabric in my stash and it was perfect for this Christmas project. I used an 8″ transparent hexi template and actually fussy cut the Santa’s on each one. If you are not aware of the term fussy cutting it basically means that align an image in the centre of your work and you cut your template around it so the image is highlighted and the focus of your work. From a frugal perspective fussy cutting does seem a bit of a waste of fabric as you end up with a piece of fabric that has a giant hole in the centre but from a visual point of view fussy cutting is very effective. On this project I didn’t mind fussy cutting as I was unlikely to use the fabric in another project and the Santa’s in the middle of each one does look good.

For the quilting at first I wasn’t sure what I would do. Last time I made these I didn’t quilt them. I went the option of quilting all layers except for the backing fabric. I started in the centre of each one and machine quilted lines about 3/4″ – 1″ apart. I was worried that I might stitch through the centre of Santa or a reindeer’s head but luckily the lines ended up missing each one. I am liking the simple stitch lines. I was tempted to do a grid but I think would have looked over quilted. After they were quilted I placed each one the backing fabric and double folded the edges before hand sewing into place.

I am not normally into Christmas things but I do love these.


Hand Stitching Class With Sarah Fielke

In my mental bucket list I had it on it I would like to take a class with Sarah Fielke. Sarah is a brilliant quilter who teachers in Australia, overseas and even on Craftsy. A few years ago I made a teacup for her birthday quilt and when I saw the finished quilt hanging in the background of a teaching video she had done and spotted my cup it blew my mind.

Last weekend the Modern Quilt Show Australia had a show in Sydney and had classes running one of which was a hand stitching class with Sarah. The style of quilting Sarah demonstrated is termed “Big Stitch Quilting” but it is just hand quilting. On the front of your work the stitches are a little bit bigger but on the back the stitches are just tiny pin pricks. The way you position your needle in the quilt layers and hold your fingers allows you to do this technique. At first you are all fingers and thumbs as you are trying to juggle a larger quilting hoop whilst holding your fingers in the right spot and the do actions you need to do to form the stitch but after a while you get the hang of it. I tried doing lines down the centre of my work and I was a bit drunken sailor, without following something I can’t do a straight line.

I decided to try a circle. I traced around the centre of a roll of masking tape to give me a line to follow. Quilting a circle is a little more trickier as you have to keep turning your hoop so your not twisting your wrists but it was actually fun. As a beginner I am pleased with my circle. Following a line to quilt on was much easier than just eyeballing it. Getting my stitch length consistent is the area I need to work on. I had to keep repositioning my needle several times before I pulled through the stitch as I wasn’t happy with the length of it. Large on the front tiny on the back. It will take practice. Sarah gave us some good tips on things to make to increase our skills with doing it. I am seeing lots of mug rugs and doll blankets in my future.

The quilt show itself was great. It was only a smallish show but I am sure it will grow as more people get involved. As the name suggests the Modern Quilt Show has quilts in that are more contemporary and a little different to your traditional quilts. If you imagine bright colours, and abstract design or traditional done with a twist than that kind of describes modern quilts. I personally just think of them as quilts. They are certainly the type of quilts I would be doing more if I got my butt around to actually making a quilt.

The show did have a few stall holders but I honestly couldn’t see anything I needed to buy. Nothing was jumping out of me and I didn’t want to buy things just for the sake of it. In the class room Sarah had a mini shop set up of her books and items she sells on her website. I did buy a couple of things there. In the class I tried out a Lap App which I will do a full blog post on at some stage. Briefly a Lap App is like a little stand that you use for when doing hand crafts. I found it useful so I brought it. My indulgent that I didn’t really need was blue apple pin cushion. I had seen these recently on Sarah’s Instagram feeds and thought it was cute so when I came across a blue one which had words on it (love a good pun) and has numbers which is my day job I had to have it.

I really enjoyed the class with Sarah. Without sounding stalkerish I was friends with Sarah on Facebook prior to the day. Sarah has chosen not to have a separate business account to her personal account so you feel like you know her as you do all your Facebook friends. I met Sarah at the Sydney Quilt show this year but it was really nice to do a class with her. She is a genuinely nice person. She is not egotistic even though is a fantastic designer and creator. She is open and honest and if you ever get a chance to do a class with her do it. On her website she has some block of the months running where each month she releases instructional videos on how to make the sections of a quilt. I am very tempted to do them but I think 2018 might be a little busy for me. I brought one of her project kits at the Sydney show which comes with instructions videos so I might do that first. You can always join the block of the month programs whenever you wish.



Santa Hat

I don’t get dressed up for Christmas but I do wear a Santa hat at my work. The one I had been wearing each year was an acrylic fluffy cheap hat that I can only tolerate for small periods as my forehead gets hot and itchy. Every Christmas I think I should make one out of cotton and now I have.

The pattern I used was a free pattern Santa’s Ho-Ho-Hat I found on Ravelry. I wanted a basic shape Santa hat and this was perfect. It is a really simple pattern to follow. There is nothing fancy in this pattern so it is a really great beginner pattern, I had never done any type of hat in the round before so this was a great pattern to learn on. I knitted this magic loop style as I still don’t know how to use double pointed needles. In my stash I found red Bendigo Woollen Mills 8ply cotton and cream 5ply Moda Vera Jalap which apparently is now discontinued. I am trying to knit my stash as much as I can because I keep adding to it.

The only issue I had was my pompom. The first 2 I made using the cream cotton looked like tiny mops. Even after I trimmed them and plumped them up they looked like floppy mops. In my stash I found some Stylecraft Special DK in a cream colour which happened to match so I made my pompom with that instead. It is an acrylic yarn and held the pompom shape much better.

I love my little Santa hat now.


Pumpkin Socks

I have socks!!!!!!!

I was a little excited to have finished these, yes I did have a dopey grin on my face all evening once these were done. In my head I have a list of things I want to try or learn, I really should write a blog post on here listing them all done. Knitting a pair of socks had been on my list for years, I can that one off now. The pattern I used was Rye by Tin Can Knits. I can not emphasize enough how great this pattern is.

  1. The pattern looks fancy with the decorative detail on the front but it really simple to do
  2. There is are tutorial that goes along with the pattern
  3. The one pattern has all the sizes you need to make it from baby to adult male
  4. You use DK yarn so they knit up so fast

Down the front of these runs a panel that goes from the cuff to the toes so the entire length of the sock. I thought oh no I am going to struggle with this, what am I thinking my first ever pair of socks and I am going to throw in a stitch pattern which I have to remember as well!  The fancy panel is actually done in Garter stitch, once you add in a couple of stitch markers it is extremely simple to do. I like the texture of it on the front, it breaks the sock up a little bit.

I started these on Oct 2nd and finished them on the 14th. To be honest I did get a little bit stuck when I got to my toes and I had to put these down for a couple of days until I spoke to my friend at my knitting guild group. The only reason I got stuck was I did these on magic loop and when I started working on the foot section I took off all the additional stitch markers I had on my needles for the gusset and repositioned the stitches on my needles so the garter stitch panel was on one needle again. When I read the pattern and it said to count from marker.. I didn’t have that marker anymore so I didn’t know where I was to start counting from. I hadn’t slept properly so brain wasn’t fully functional, I started watching youtube clips on toe decreases and got even more confused. That was the Thursday I put them down until Saturday. When I picked them up on the Saturday suddenly I could see logically where I needed to start my decreases, it was from the side of each foot. Once I double checked with my friend that I would be doing it right I finished these that afternoon including doing the Kitchener stitch. I purchased an Ann Budd Craftsy class recently and followed the Kitchener stitch lesson as I did my stitch. I remembered not to strangle my stitches like I did in the class that I took. Kitchener stitch is kind of like hand sewing with yarn but unlike regular sewing you don’t pull your stitches tight you keep the same tension you have knitted with.

The yarn I used is Fyberspates Coops Socks Yeah DK in Hecate. It comes in 50g skeins so I used one for each sock. I did buy a 3rd skein which I had on standby in case I ran out of yarn. I used a 4mm bamboo needle. If I was to make these again I don’t think I would use a bamboo needle. I was knitting tight and the yarn was sticking to the needles at times. Once you get started the needles do warm up a little and become easier but it did feel like I was fighting my needles more than I should have.

I have worn these around the house and they are comfortable. As far as allergies they weren’t itchy on, they were warm and snuggly without being hot. I wore them for a few hours on a wet and windy afternoon which was perfect sock weather. The test to see if I can wear them or not will be to wear them and go for a walk in my sneakers for a couple of hours. For around the home to throw on instead of slippers they should be fine so now I want to get more yarn and do some winter socks for next year.



Project Bag – Denim Hearts

In my last post I talked about fabrics that I thought might be a skirt but I know won’t, the denim fabric used on this project bag falls within the same category. I picked the piece up at a charity shop last year. It measured about 50cm wide x length of fabric, I wanted to make a skirt from it but there was no way I could unless I added other fabric to it. When I was rearranging my storage area and culling fabric I came across it. I couldn’t let it ago so I decided to make a bag from it.

The pattern I used was Essential Wristlet by Dog Under My Desk. I have made this pattern a lot now. I used the enlarged size that I made my rose bag and toiletry bag with. It is a nice size and holds a lot. Because of the thickness of the denim I didn’t use any lining in this bag. It does have a few dimples but for the most part there is enough structure in the denim for it to hold its shape.

On the inside I used some leftover fabric I again found in my stash. I used this fabric on the binding on my first ever blanket. As well as liking hearts I am a big fan of stars so I really like the combination of this bag having both. It is a stiffer quilting cotton so again works well to hold its shape. This fabric does soften a lot once it repeatedly washed and used but in a project bag you are not going to wash it a great deal. I added a simple little pocket that wasn’t lined or interfaced. The purpose of the pocket is so you have an easy place to stick a crochet hook or row counter, small notions you don’t want to lose in the bottom of your bag or get caught on things.

Within minutes of this bag coming off my sewing machine I was already using it. I am delighted that I have used the random piece of heart fabric that I came across in a practical way. No more sitting in my stash it now holds my little projects with a purpose.