Out of all years that I have been sewing and the numerous newborn gifts I had made I had never made bibs from scratch before. Many years ago (pre blogging days) I appliqued some shapes onto store brought bibs but that was the only bib related gifts I’d made.

I used the Simplicity 2924 pattern for the shape of the bib. This pattern uses oilcloth fabric with binding around the edge and has a pocket on the front. I just wanted a plain bib so that is why I only used it for the shape.

Last year a friend gave me an offcut of a May Gibbs french terry fabric she had. May Gibbs is an iconic Australian children’s author. The characters in her books are all Australian native flora and fauna. Instantly I thought I could cut out the front of skirt from it but also thought I might be able to squeeze out the fronts of some bibs too. After cutting my skirt out I was able to cut out 3 bibs. There are still some random fabric offcuts left so at some point I might use them in another project.

For the back of the bibs I used some leftover PUL that I had in my stash. PUL is water proof so I thought might be good for the back of bibs. To assemble the bib I just stitched the fabrics right sides together, turned the right sides out and top stitched around the edge. I used a snap closure to fasten it.

The person I made these for is a work collogue. Within days of making these I noticed she happened to wearing a May Gibbs scrub hat. It did bring a little smile to my face knowing the gift I was going to give her was in a theme that she liked. I have since given her these and she loved them which made me happy.

I don’t make a lot newborn gift these days. Most of the people I know are now past that stage in their lives. If I do need make another newborn gift I’ll look at making bibs again. They were actually really easy to make.


The Conscious Closet

I mentioned last month in May I would be taking part in the Me Made Made challenge. By chance on the Sewing For The Weekend podcast they mentioned The Conscious Closet by Elizabeth Cline was a good book to read for those doing a wardrobe cleanout so I borrowed a copy of the book from my local library.

The book is divided into 6 parts

  • Part 1 – Goodbye Fast Fashion
  • Part 2 – The Art of Less
  • Part 3 – The Art of More
  • Part 4 – The Sustainable Fashion Handbook
  • Part 5 – Make It Last
  • Part 6 – The Fashion Revolution

Each part is then broken into a series of chapters. The book is predominantly aimed at those who buy their clothes from a store and not for those who sew their own clothes so a lot of the parts and chapters aren’t 100% relevant to those with a me made wardrobe but in saying that there is a lot that those with a me made wardrobe can takeaway from the book. 

The book starts of going through the main personality types when it comes to fashion

  • The Minimalists – Those who only like to have a minimal amount of functional clothing
  • The Style Seekers – Those who like to keep up with latest trends
  • The Traditionalists – Those who like to be stylish but don’t necessarily want to follow the trends

I would consider myself a traditionalist but with some minimalist tendencies. I don’t really care about styles and trends. I want pieces of clothing I can wear for years that are comfortable. I’m wanting to more to minimalism in general which includes clothing as I only want items around me that I’m actually using or in terms of clothing wearing. 

After deciding on your personality type the book guides you through how to clean out your wardrobe to fit in with your type. What I really liked was this book doesn’t say “declutter your wardrobe then donate it all to charity” It makes you think about each item. What is the condition of this item? Is it broken/stained/worn out? Basically would you pay money for this item? It talks about how charities are often overrun with donations they can’t actually use as the items are in poor condition and they end up having to place them in landfill. If an item isn’t fit for sale could you do something with the fabric yourself such as use it for cleaning rags? If it is reasonable condition could you give it away in clothing swap or perhaps list it for free in online group? If you can’t do any of that can you wash the item and place it in a textile recycling program?

Once you have cleared your wardrobe it focuses on looking at what you have kept, It discuses ideas on ways to put together outfits so that you will start wearing the clothes you actually have more. This is inline with the concept of Me Made May. Finding new ways to wear what you already own.

The next part of the book looks at moving forward to future items. Making conscious decisions about how an item will fit in with what you already have so you don’t fall back into the wardrobe you originally started with and repeat the clothing consumption process once again.

The last parts of the book going through ways to prolong the life of the clothing you own and ideas to take into consideration about future purchases in terms of the fabrics choices. There are lots of tips and hints about laundering your clothes and mending them. If you don’t sew it gives instructions on how to do basic mending yourself.

Although parts of the book weren’t relevant to myself I enjoyed reading it and took a lot away from it.

  • Be more mindful of them items I donate to charity – Thinking first can I do something with the item 
  • When making future fabric choices think of how the colour or print will fit in with my existing clothing 
  • Think about the quality of the fabric so that I can make items that last
  • When making clothing really pay close attention to the sewing process so that I make quality items that will last. Properly reinforce high stress areas and ensure that I don’t skimp on the quality of finishing hems so that I won’t have to mend items so often
  • Think about the way I wash my items. Tackle stains straight away, put things away as soon as they are dry so they aren’t exposed to excess sunlight (I dry my washing outdoors undercover)
  • Tackle mending jobs as soon as I see them so the fault doesn’t become too large
  • Respect my clothing between wears. Some items I don’t wash after every use so properly store them not just dump them on a rack

A good book gets your brain ticking as you read it. This book certainly did that. Whether you only have ready to wear clothing or make you own this book will open your eyes up to ways to help you create a wardrobe of clothing you will actually wear.


Mechanical Chalk Pencil

It is funny how you have a book or tool in your stash for years that you haven’t used before until you use it one day and all of a sudden you find yourself using all the time after that. I can’t tell you the year I brought this, however from memory it was on the requirements list for a quilting class I was going to do. I never did the class as it may have been cancelled for some reason (this was years before Covid) This tool has sat in my stash ever since until late last year I grabbed it looking for a marker.

I googled this tool and it comes up as Mechanical Chalk Pencil. It is just like a mechanical pencil but instead of containing graphite you put lengths of chalk inside it. You click the button on the top and it releases the chalk length down the bottom. It has an eraser on top too but I have never used that. It is comfortable in the hand to hold and use.

So why is this now my favourite tool? It is the best thing to mark dark fabrics with. Over the years I have tried various marking tools on dark fabrics and I have really struggled to see or keep the markings. There is a rolling chalk applicator which does mark fabric but the chalk is really fine and brushes off easily plus it drags the fabric a little if you are doing a longer line. With this tool I can draw clear lines up against a ruler or template. I used it to trace out hexagons on a piece of fabric and I was left with very little fabric waste as I could place my template up to the previous line to draw around it. I have used it on dark nylon too and I had no trouble marking the fabric or it dragging the fabric.

The set I brought came with a combination of white and colour refills to insert inside it. I have only used the lighter colour ones in it. If you run out you can buy refills (It is amazing what you find out when you Google) instead of buying the entire set again. If I ever need to buy refills I’m sure it will only be the white ones that I need which you can get just on their own. I just thought it was a tool you could use to mark fabric with but reading more into now apparently it can be used also on plastic, wood and paper. The chalk washes away completely however when I mark things I generally mark them on the back of the fabric so this isn’t an issue for me.

I think this is a tool worth having in your stash but try it out as soon as you buy it so you realise how useful it is.


Fabric Cards

My first attempt at making fabric cards was my Heart card. It was done by covering cardboard with fabrics. Although originally I had planned to continue making cards like that (before I started the card) but after making it I decided I needed to think of a better way.

Years ago I remembered making bookmarks. I don’t starch my clothes (heck it is very rare I even iron my clothes) so I didn’t have any starch to stiffen the bookmarks. I couldn’t justify buying starch just for a few bookmarks so I googled how to make my own. It is really easy to make with just cornflour (corn starch) and water. I found this post on how to make super heavy starch.  

The actual cards I made this time were fabric only. I was adding these cards to my charity bags so I used leftover scraps from the bags and the eye masks I made. On the front I hand stitched a heart which I cut from silk using my Sizzix Big Shot (after not using it for years it has gotten a workout in recent times) On the inside of the card I hand embroidered a little message. 

Reading the starch making tutorial but I thought the quantity would be too much so I tried to do the maths to make only half. I was also using teaspoons not tablespoons. My first batch was super thick when I let it cool. It was a gel not liquid. I put it in jar thinking I would spoon some out and mix it with hot water to dissolve it but I never did. It just sat in the jar in the fridge.  

I kept telling myself I had to get in and try another attempt at starch. The weekend before I was due to donate the bags I finally got in and made the starch. This time I just used 1.5 teaspoons of cornflour to around 400mls of water. I used boiling water not cold to disolve the cornflour before I boiled it in the pan so there were a few lumpy flour icebergs floating around as it boiled but I was able to brush those off the cards later.  

I used plastic food storage container that was long enough for a single card to lay flat. I poured in my starch mix and then gave each card a bath for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. I used a spoon to flatten the card and ensure that all areas got wet. The mixture was still hot as I didn’t let it cool so I used the spoon to scoop out the card so I could lay it flat on the container’s lid until I finished each card. After I did all 3 I picked each one up (now cool to handle) and wrung out an excess water. I folded them in half and then hung them over a coat hanger above the bath to drip dry. Once they stopped dripping I moved them to another area of the unit we dry things as it gets more airflow.  

For my first attempt at making fabric only cards I think they turned out pretty good. Yes they are a bit wrinkly but I think that adds to their charm. After making these I decided I would no longer ever buy cards but make my own. Fabric cards are a great way to use up leftover fabrics.


Me Made May 2022

Each year the amazing Zoe from “So Zoe What Do You Know?” hosts the challenge of Me Made May (MMMay) It is a challenge where participants for the month focus on their handmade wardrobe and see if there any areas they are lacking. You can read all about the challenge here. Each person sets their own challenge for the month in relation to the me made clothing they own.

The last time I did the challenge was in 2019. In recent years I’ve culled a lot of the clothing both me made and ready to wear that I was no longer wearing anymore. To be honest it wasn’t until this week that I decided I would take part this year. I’m not in the mood to post daily photos on social media of my outfits and I don’t think I have clothing hidden away that I haven’t worn in recent times. To work each day I wear at least one me made item as I no longer have any ready to wear skirts and the only ready to wear pants I have are gym tights. Listening to the Check Your Thread podcasts series ran on Me Made May changed my mind. In her blog post and in the podcasts Zoe reminds everyone Me Made May isn’t about posting photos (you don’t have to) or that is ok to set yourself the same challenge you set yourself in the past. The main thing is that for the month you are more conscious of the clothing you are actually wearing and finding any gaps in your wardrobe that you need to fill.

With that in mind I’m setting myself the challenge of going through my wardrobe looking at both my me made and ready to wear clothing and accessories. Yes I know the focus is on me made items but I still have tops and jackets which are ready to wear which make up my wardrobe so I’m including those. There are some items already that I know I can pass on such as knitwear that I just don’t wear. I know I need shorts as I was thinking recently I have none so by next summer I need to make them. I want to do a stocktake of my entire wardrobe to see what I still have and what is needed.

I’m actually looking forward to the challenge now. I might even start it early by looking through a drawer or two before the month even begins. I’m just going to relax and go through my wardrobe when the mood arises and I have the chance. My wardrobe isn’t huge so it will all get looked through by the end of May.


QAYG Hexie Update April 22

Back in 2020 I was inspired to make a Quilt As You Go Hexie quilt using polar fleece in the centres of my hexagons instead of traditional batting. After I unpacked from our big move I had random offcuts of polar fleece leftover from years of previous projects. For packing they were useful to wrap breakable items in during the move but I now no longer had a use for them.

I’m using acrylic templates to trace out all my hexagons. I’m using an 8″ template to cut the backing fabric and a 6″ for the centres and fronts.

Late 2020 / early 2021 I got in and cut out all my fleece centres. I’m really sure at the time I had written down the total as I remembered counting them but for the life of me I went through every diary and notepad but couldn’t find the information. A couple of months ago I had the urge to finally start on constructing my hexie blocks so I pulled them all out and counted them again. I’m going to be using a double layer of polar fleece in my centres to make them a little thicker so they are similar to quilt batting. I have a total of 396 pairs cut so I should be able make a 18 x 22 piece quilt with additional half hexies at the top/bottom and sides so that it has a flat even edge. All my centres are in storage tub sorted by colour. Recounting them all also meant I able sort them all properly by colour which is making life much easier deciding which one to put behind each print.

For the backing fabrics I have raided all my blue stash. So far I have cut 251 dark and bright blue backing pieces. For the remaining 145 I’m hoping to do in some lighter blues but I may have to go for a few greens. I’m not buying additional fabrics for this project as I want it all to come from my stash. My stash is well enough stocked to handle it.

I mentioned in my previous post about that I’m starting to use some of my “good” Rosalie Dekker fabrics. For this project I’ve raided my stash and have finally started using some of the fabrics I had been hording onto for years. I had fat quarter bundles and prints from Rosalie, Sarah Fielke, Michael Miller as well as other pieces I have found in my stash and thought yep I want to use that for me. I’m also using offcuts from other projects that I have made and like the fabric but I’m only keeping it to quilting cottons so no linen or cotton sateens. I’m slowing cutting out all my fronts. Some fabrics if I really like the print I’m cutting out as many as I can and then cutting strips with the remainder of the fabric for another future quilt I have planned. Some fabrics I have only cut 2 – 4 at this point and have kept the rest aside to cut more if I need to make up my numbers later on. I have a stack cut now that I grab and start stitching.

The only new thing I’m buying for this project is the thread. I’ve opted to go for a black Rasant thread. I have brought 2 large cones and will get more later if required. I love hand sewing and am enjoying this so far. I have no set finish date, I just work on it a bit every day if I’m in the mood. Most of my sewing is done whilst watching tv but also out on the balcony if I feel like being out there. I have cleared a shelf in my craft cave to put my finished hexies on as I’m starting to gather a lot of them. The shelf is also where I’m keeping fabrics which I can cut more from again. I’m going to wait until all my hexie blocks are done before I start working out placement and then the big task of joining them all begins.


Mega Pincushion

Sometimes when life just gets all a bit too much (I was having a mini pity party) what I really need to do is forget about everything and focus on something fun. Sewing a pincushion might not be everyone’s idea of fun but in my world it is.

The pattern I used is from the book A Stitch In Time by the late Rosalie Dekker (Quinlan) Sadly Rosalie was taken from this world after illness way too soon at the end of 2017. I was fortunate enough to do 2 stitching retreats with Rosalie many years ago which is where I picked up the book. I have done many of her stitcheries over the years. In my fabric stash I still have fabrics that she designed that I am actually starting to use now as I’ve found the perfect project for them. This pincushion had been on my “to make one day” list for many years and I’m glad to have finally made it.

This pincushion is all hand sewn and is constructed in the style of English Paper Piecing using diamonds and rectangles. Instead of the traditional way of tacking the fabric around centre papers you use interfacing instead. After it is all constructed you remove your tacking stitches but leave in the interfacing. I decided this pincushion was a perfect fabric scraps project including interfacing scraps. Last year I made a heap of Full Moon bags (yet to be blogged about) which had a heavy weight interfacing in them. When I traced out all the circles I had random almost diamond shaped offcuts which I kept thinking maybe I could use them one day. One day turned out to be this project. Those odd shapes were perfect to trace out the pieces needed for this project on. I’m glad I held onto those scraps now. The fabrics used were all offcuts mostly from when I made our big batch of masks in 2020, I used 6 fabrics for the diamonds and 6 for the rectangles. I didn’t care which fabrics I used, my focus was finding offcuts which fit my templates. All the threads used to tack the fabric to the interfacing and later piece the entire pincushion came from near empty bobbins in my hand sewing stash.

Assembling this I didn’t follow the instructions entirely as per directed. Firstly I never added a button on top. In summary the pattern has you piece it in 3 separate sections (top, middle, bottom) and then attach the sections to each other leaving a single gap to fill it with at the end. I didn’t know how well I was going to go with matching all my points up so I first pieced my top section then pieced the rectangles to each of the outer sides of each star. Once the sides were pieced I then pieced each bottom diamond to the rectangles and lastly pieced the diamonds together at the end. I found it easier to manipulate the corners this way as I could fold the pieces when needed to get sharp points. I think I may of used less thread too as I wasn’t constantly starting and stopping on small edges I could keep going straight to the next seam that needed to be pieced.

When I was piecing all the sides together I decided to leave 2 gaps to stuff it at the end instead of one. I left them on opposite sides so that I could get my fingers in and push the stuffing right into the corner sections. I often leave more stuffing gaps then suggested when making toys so that I can get the stuffing in easier. To stuff this my original plan was to use up the remaining crushed walnut shells I had in my stash (a decent size bag’s worth) and the rest of the filling I was going to use hobby fill. Crushed walnut shells help sharpen your pins. I remembered reading that Tierney earlier this year made a pincushion that she had also pieced but stuffed it with leftover fabric scraps. What a great idea! I first poured in the walnut shells and shook it around to try and distribute them evenly. I then placed a small amount of hobby fill in the outer points of each star just to hold the shape. I then hit my leftover small scrap stash and pushed as many fabric, thread and yarn offcuts I could in there. It had leftover pieces from when I cut out the shapes of the pincushions, the tacking threads I had removed, anything that wasn’t going to be used in other projects was shoved in there. Some pieces were a little big so I cut them down smaller. With the 2 gaps I could really get in and push the filling in evenly so there wasn’t any hidden empty pockets.

When I hold this side on you can really see why I’m calling it my mega pincushion. It is easily larger than my hand measuring from point to point over 10″ wide and over 2″ deep. The walnut shells and fabric also make it weighted so this will also double as a pattern weight when I need an extra one. This one won’t be sitting next to my sewing machine but will be placed on my sewing table from when I’m going backwards and forwards between my machine and the table so I don’t have to keep moving my regular pin cushion.

I’m so proud of this project. I’d been meaning to make it for years. I used up the last of my walnut shells which I had been keeping on to so they are no longer sitting around idle. The entire project involved sustainable sewing choices (fabrics, threads, stuffing) I got to do a lot of hand sewing which I love. I made a practical item which I will actually use so it is a nice addition to my sewing tools. 


BHG 2022 Knit & Crochet Collection

It is about this time year that in Australia Better Homes and Gardens publishes their annual Knit and Crochet Collection magazine. I found it in my local supermarket this past weekend.

In 2020 I set myself the personal challenge of making an item out of each edition of the magazine that comes out. Prior to that I had been buying the magazine each year but had really made any of the projects from them except for some basic beanies. I decided if I wasn’t going to make projects I couldn’t buy it each year anymore as it was a waste of money, paper and space. Since I set myself the challenge I have actually made a few things from various editions.

The first thing I noticed was this year there wasn’t the usual bonus yarn crafting tool that you normally get attached to the front cover. Normally I don’t use these so I don’t mind but I do pass them on to others that could use them. I guess it was a way for the publisher to save money on a $10.99 magazine. In fairness the magazine is $2 cheaper than last year so really you can’t complain about no bonus tool. There are less patterns in it than previous years.

When I posted a photo of the magazine in my knitting group it was pointed out that this year all the patterns and yarns are from UK magazines and all the yarns used are from overseas. In Australia we do get a lot of the UK knitting and crochet magazines which I have brought over the years. You can get some of yarns mentioned in the magazines locally at independent yarn stores but they cost more than buying it from one of 2 big online UK yarn stores and having it posted over. There is an advertisement at the start of the magazine for one Australian yarn shop but there isn’t a page of stockists in the magazine letting you know where you can get the yarns mentioned. Australia has a great yarn community of both manufacturers and designers so it would’ve been nice to have some local content in it.

From the 2022 edition I will be honest and say I’m struggling to find a project that is jumping out at me to make. There are so many jumper patterns in it this year. There are some cowls, scarves, kids toys, cushion covers, beanies and a couple of bags but it just feels like it is dominated by jumpers. In the ladies jumpers I would be struggling to fit into them comfortably. Also not everyone has the patience or the money to knit a jumper which can be expensive if you are on the upper end of the size chart and needle more balls of yarn for the garment. There are also some really random patterns which involve covering footwear (thongs)

The magazine was a nice read and I will keep it however I’m undecided if I will buy it again next year. Normally I just buy it without looking at the patterns in it. Next year I will stop and look first. Last year I started a project from it within days, this year I’m going to really have to think about what I can make and for who.


Lunch Bag

At the end of 2021 when the ready made lunch bag I take to work started to fall apart due to the plastic lining on the inside becoming brittle and tearing at the stitching I knew of the perfect pattern I could make to replace it.

Early in 2021 I made the McCall M7487 Travel Case pattern for the first time. For those who read my post about it would know that I struggled with understanding the instructions before I started making it. Once I was in the process of making it the instructions made more sense as I got to each step. I think it is a fantastic pattern it is just the line drawings with the instructions can be a bit intimidating at first. When it came to making my lunch bag I had no hesitation going to this pattern.

As my previous bag was insulated I opted to do the same for it’s replacement. In my stash I found some insulated batting leftover from when I made pot holders years ago. For the outside of the bag I used some quilting cotton and on the inside I used nylon which had a waterproof type layer on the back. On the top/bottom pieces of the bag so that the layers didn’t shift as I was assembling it I machine tacked the layer of cotton, batting and nylon together using the longest straight stitch on my machine. I still did struggle a bit sewing the curves when attaching it to the gusset (zipper section) but I know I would’ve struggled more without first tacking the top/bottom pieces.

By chance I found a double zipper in my stash which matched in with the outer fabric. I have a feeling I brought it years ago with the intention of making this pattern at some point but I can’t be certain. I had no intentions of ever making a lunch bag until the need arose.

The pattern comes in 3 sizes and I made the largest size. It isn’t as deep as my previous bag but it is wider and longer. It easily holds my large ice brick, all my food and containers. Although it is larger in size as such it isn’t so rigid so collapses down and doesn’t take up a lot of room in my bag when I carry it. I do place it in my bag sideways but my food doesn’t get squashed inside it. I’m happy with my one of a kind lunch bag. All the items came from my stash so I used some things up. The fabric brings a little of my crafting world to my work day which is fun.

After making 2 of this pattern I do intend to make it as Christmas gifts for 2022. The 2nd time making it was easier so it won’t be so hard making them for gifts. 


Minerva Voucher

Last year Simona from Sewing Adventures In The Attick hosted a blogiversary giveaway and I was fortunate enough to win a £20 Minerva voucher. If you are not familiar with Minerva it is an online craft shop in the UK. Predominantly it has all things sewing but there are some other craft items and patterns too. There range of fabrics is amazing!

My voucher was valid for 12 months and to be honest it took me about 10 months to decide on what I wanted to get. I spent many hours looking at different fabrics and patterns, my phone was littered with screenshots of ideas. Did I want to some Liberty fabric? Should I get a knit or woven? Should I get fabric or notions? How best could I spend it to get maximum value? One thing I did discover is that to use the voucher you entered the code number supplied in the discount code section during checkout. If the shop is running another promotion for discounted fabric or patterns which requires you entering a code to get the discount you can’t use your voucher at the same time as you’re only allowed to enter one code during checkout. Just a tip for anyone shopping there. 

Finally I decided the best use for the voucher was to get a printed paper pattern. I chose the Montrose top by Cashmerette. In Australia there are a few shops that sell printed Cashmerette pattens but most of the time when I buy them I just buy the PDF’s as they are cheaper. The reason I wanted the paper pattern is that it is a woven top and I think once I get the fit right I can pattern hack it. It will be easier to do this with a paper pattern as opposed to trying to keep my taped PDF pattern together neat whilst I’m not using it. 

I had already warned Mr StitchNSew that I was most likely going to go over my voucher amount. He didn’t care as I don’t have a fabric budget and I’m not on a fabric buying ban. I’m just trying to be thoughtful with every dollar I spend. I did go over the voucher slightly as I chose a couple of metres of cotton lace. It is 75% cotton 25% nylon. My aim is to one day make the Montrose out of this fabric. Full confession after I submitted my order I was slightly worried about the fabric choice. 
1 – Would it be too scratchy with the nylon? 
2 – Is the colour too scrub top blue?
I’m really sensitive with fabrics so not being able to feel it first was a gamble. After years of working in theatres sadly your colour choice does revolve around work even if you don’t intend on wearing it there, I guess it is the same how some people won’t wear things that remind them of their old school uniforms. I’m very happy to say that when it arrived the fabric was lovely and soft. The colour with the black mesh overlay is very subtle and doesn’t remind me of work.

A big thank you to Simona again for my voucher. It allowed me to purchase from a shop that I wouldn’t normally buy from so it was a special treat. I’m not sure when I will get around to making my first top or using the fabric but in the meantime I can pat the fabric!