Softies For Mirabel 2017

Once again this year I will be contributing to Softies For Mirabel a toy drive hosted by Pip Lincolne (Meet Me At Mikes) where toys are hand made for the Mirabel Foundation who support children abandoned due to parental drug use.

simplicity-1549

This year I tried out a new pattern I had in my stash Simplicity 1549 making 2 toys from it an owl and a bunny. I brought this pattern I think at the start of 2016 but never got around to making it last year.

simplicity-1549-owl

The owl is made from brown fabric leftover from draft stoppers I made last year. The leg fabric is the same fabric but in a stone colour. The fabric had a very open weave so I decided to use a double layer of it on the body and legs as these areas would be stuffed and I didn’t want it falling apart or the stuffing getting out. The wings are a single layer with a layer of pellon inside each one. I did they eyes differently as I think I have mentioned before I don’t like closed eyes on toys. Eyes give the toy personality and I like them open.

simplicity-1549-bunny

For the bunny I used more of the stone fabric again doing double layers but this time on all pieces. The ears aren’t stuffed but I wanted them to hold their shape so that is why I did double. The purple body is leftover polar fleece as is all the applique on the eyes, ears, nose. The mouth is some pom pom trim from my stash, I love the added bit of texture it gives.

These toys were very easy to make as there wasn’t a lot of pieces or complicated sewing. I did all the applique bits by hand as I enjoy hand sewing but you could have easily done them on the machine.

I hope some little kids enjoy these toys and the toys make them feel safe. They were made with love.

Cassiy

Knit Like A Viking Workshop

Viking knitting was a concept I had never heard of but when the Knitter’s Guild NSW advertised they were doing a workshop on it saying you would knit with wire and make a bracelet I thought it sounded interesting so I decided to do the workshop.

The workshop was run by Angharad Rixon, she is textile historian who has taught both in Australia and overseas. She was a fantastic teacher so if you ever get the chance to do a workshop with her I urge you too. She is very patient and helpful. The workshop was broken into 2 parts – the morning she taught us 2 basic stitches and in the afternoon we made our real piece.

viking-knit-practice

To me viking knitting is more like a weaving than knitting. You don’t use knitting needles to make up your piece instead you use a piece of dowl that you attach anchor wire to and weave you work through on that. It is almost like a loom.  The stitches we were taught was single knit and double knit.

viking-knit-single-stitch

In the single knit you worked your piece up by placing your wire through the stitches on the row above to create your links. We started with 4 links and worked our way down the dowl. Just like regular knitting you can accidently skip stitches which is what I did as well as many of the others in the class. If you skip a stitch you then go down to 3 links. We all seemed to have the same problem and that was getting our work messed up when we came to working over where we joined the wire. You work with a piece of wire about the length of your arm so you have to add in new pieces numerous times to make your item. Once we got our piece to 10cm long we removed it from the dowl and did the magic. The magic is that you pull your piece through a series of holes in a piece of wood starting at 10mm and going down in size. Each hole you go through stretches out your work and evens out the links. Once you have run it through the holes your final piece all comes together and it looks neater even if you haven’t done such a neat job in creating it. After we performed the magic we measured our piece again and noted down how long it now was and what size equipment we used (dowl size, wire gauge, how many links we started with) This was like our test swatch.

viking-knit-double-stitch

The double knit is a little bit more tricky. You work the wire on the stitch 2 rows above. The work is more dense as there is less gaps as you are working over the rows. We again made a 10cm test swatch and again many of us skipped a stitch. Just like regular knitting tension plays a bit part. I’m a tight knitter and crocheter and turns out I’m a tight viking knitter too. You need to relax and leave your work fairly loose so that you can see easily see the stitches and work into the rows. I skipped a stitch making the double and Angharad actually had frog it back (yes you can frog in viking knitting) to start me off again. After that I got the hang of it and didn’t get so confused working over my joins. I think I just needed to relax and once I did it became easier. You are meant to do your stitches in a single smooth movement each time. It places less stress on the wire if you can keep your movement fluid like and not handle the wire too much. Once I got into that rhythm I was fine.

viking-knit-bracelet

In the afternoon we worked on our bracelets. We used a silver or copper wire which was a thinner wire than our test pieces. To get us back into the rhythm we all started on some of the coloured wire we worked with in the morning than changed to the thinner wire after that. We were supposed to make the bracelets in double knit but could do single knit if we wanted. I chose the single knit as I wanted to get the hang of it and actually finish a piece in the time frame we had. On the bracelet I had no trouble with my joins, I started with 5 links and finished with 5 links so I never skipped a stitch. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. We were supposed to cut the colour wire off once we finished but I opted to leave mine on as my bracelet was long enough with it on and I wanted to see how we finish the actual piece. Blue and silver I’m happy to have a bracelet like that. When I left the workshop the only thing I needed to do on my bracelet was stitch the bracelet together and glue over the cover. Sewing the end closed with wire was an interesting concept, it took me a few minutes to get used to my wire thread but then I got the feel of it and was able to thread it through easier. I squeezed the area narrow until the cover fitted over it then applied E6000 glue to it.

The workshop was fantastic. I really enjoyed it. It was fun to work with wire. I’d love to do viking knitting again. It is technique I would use. I already have ideas running through my head. I need to make a wood magic board to run my pieces through and I already have ideas on how I’m going to make it.

Cassiy

Blue Rose Bag

blue-rose-handbag

Using some of the leftover blue roses fabric I decided to make a bag to match my skirt. There are so many bag patterns out there and I have a few in my stash but I’m a creature of habit and decided to make a pattern I knew but put a spin on it.  I used the box corner version of the Essential Wristlet pattern by DUMD. I made a bunch of these as Christmas gifts last year and they are pretty quick to make up.

blue-rose-handbag-close-up

The pattern is a PDF so it very simple to enlarge. I played around with the printer settings a couple of times and was most happiest when I printed it at 150% which was my original plan when I thought of doing this. Your basically making it 50% bigger than the standard pattern piece. I used a 12″ zipper. Added two D ring tabs instead of one, I cut them 4″ x 4″ I made a cross body strap which was approximately 4″ x 60″ I used the technique I learnt in making the Activity Go Case to finish the raw ends of the strap neatly.

The lining in black cotton. This will hold all the basics I need for a night out – Wallet, keys, phone. It is a simple bag I can throw across my shoulder and I know I have everything I need.

Cassiy

Blue Rose Skirt

swap-day-haul-6

Last year at the Spoolette swap day I picked up a piece of fabric that had blue roses on it. It was a polyester which I don’t normally like but because it combines my favourite colour with my favourite flower I was drawn to this piece.

butterick-5431

I decided to make a skirt with it to wear at an event in March. Because of the polyester fibre content I decided I wanted a lined skirt. I found the perfect simple pattern in my stash Butterick 5431 (again it came from the swap day) I wanted a simple pattern as I had never made a lined skirt before. I read all the instructions, laid out the pattern pieces to trace them out and couldn’t find my size. I then took a closer look on the outside of the pattern envelope and realised it wasn’t my size.

simplicity-2184

I went through my pattern stash again and found a similar skirt pattern Simplicity 2184 view B but it wasn’t lined (which is probably why I didn’t choose it in the first place) I used this pattern and instructions to make my skirt but added the lining in via the instructions from the Butterick pattern.

blue-rose-skirt-on

Confession I get confused with seam allowances and how much you need to add if you are going to overlock (serge) all your edges before doing your seams. The skirt is made up of 4 pieces cut on the bias. I have never cut a pattern on the bias before. I needed to added a little extra as my hip measurements were a bit bigger than the pattern. I added extra to both sides of each pattern piece but thinking about it afterwards perhaps I only needed to added extra to the centre seam sides, or do you add more to the sides and not the middle? The end result is that skirt is a little puffier than I wanted but it isn’t the end of the world.

blue-rose-skirt-lining

The lining is attached only at the waist band so it moves freely from the outer skirt underneath.  I used a black cotton voile. I made it a couple of inches shorter so it wouldn’t be seen.

Looking at my check list of things to consider when making clothing

  • Comfort Yes it isn’t tight and I have room to move
  • Classic Yes it is a bias cut A line skirt
  • Creative / Quirky Yes the rose print is very 3 dimensional
  • Natural Fibres Yes to some extent as I have used cotton voile as the lining

blue-rose-skirt

Originally I had made this skirt just to wear to Australian Sewing Guild’s 20th birthday lunch in March but have decided in the last couple of weeks I can also afford to go the Sydney Spoolette’s Frocktails event in February so this skirt is going to get 2 uses soon. I know it will be in my wardrobe for years and will get use whenever I need an item that is just that little bit special.

Cassiy

Bonus Play Mat

activity-go-case-play-mat-in-case

In the Activity Go Case pattern there is a bonus play mat that you can make that fits inside the case nicely held in place by the elastic on one inside panel.

activity-go-case-play-mat-front

On the front I used the same tan fabric I used on the case and some wool felt for the track. The road lines I stitched on with white thread

activity-go-case-play-mat-back

On the back I used more of the motorcross fabric. The play mat is constructed like a mini quilt. My inside lay is a piece of pelon. I quilted it from the front side just going around inside the gaps of the road way. Very basic quilting but that is all you need.

This was a super quick project to make, I actually made this up before I made the case. I really like the track design and I’m sure I will make it again. It is a good size and you can easily add this to other toys. The mat doesn’t have to be a race track, you could make it in plain fabric or even make a grid pattern and use it for naughts and crosses if you made tokens.

Cassiy

Activity Go Case

The Activity Go Case by Love ME Patterns was a pattern I got in a Sew Box. It looked a good pattern so I put it on my to sew list for 2017.

activity-go-case

How to put this elegantly… some patterns you succeed at others you don’t. Now I firstly must stress this has nothing to do with the pattern. The pattern is well written and Mel has made a great video explaining how to do the binding on it as well. It was the execution (ie me) that didn’t work.

zipper-fail

The case has vinyl pockets on the inside. In the past I have worked with vinyl when making the luggage tag but that was onto fabric, sewing it on to zippers is completely different. Me and vinyl are not friends. It kept sticking even when I put tissue paper under it, I couldn’t get my stitches to look nice. With clear vinyl you can’t hide wonky or ugly seams. It wasn’t a matter of throwing a tantrum but I decided to scrap the vinyl pockets, I wasn’t happy and I didn’t want to waste my time getting stressed out because I couldn’t get it to look right (sewing is meant to be fun) I came up with an alternate plan.

activity-go-case-finished-inside

Instead I decided to a fabric centre pocket and a netting side pocket in place of the vinyl pockets. I used netting from my stash, the binding pieces are pieces from the original pattern pieces I had cut out. I attached the binding pieces to the netting then attached the piece to the lining fabric.

activity-go-case-centre-pocket-stitching

For my centre pocket I used the original centre pocket zipper but shortened it. I used leftover fabric to create the lined pocket (it is basically a zipper pouch) I used one of the original binding pieces to cover the centre join and attached my zipper pocket over that doing a couple of rows of stitching at the bottom of the pocket to hold it in place.

activity-go-case-zipper

Then we came to the external zipper…. I used a sleeping bag zipper and shortened it. I couldn’t buy one long enough at my local stores and couldn’t afford near $20 to order one online. The zipper has 2 zipper pulls on the zipper head (one on each side) I almost cut the bottom one off but decided to leave it. When it came to attaching the zipper I accidentally put it on the wrong way. When you’re looking at the zipper open and it has zipper heads on both sides it is easy to confuse which way is the right side of the zipper tape, particularly when it is nearly 1m (90cm) long. Next time I will mark the right side of the tape with a pen. When I realised it was wrong I noticed I had stitched it pretty well and cut my binding to fit neatly so I left it. With the dual sided zipper I got away with it (really glad I didn’t decide to cut off the zipper pull)

activity-go-case-ditch-stitching-fail

My next disaster was securing the binding. I hand finish my bindings normally but you couldn’t on this, you had to stitch it from the top side in the ditch. I have never stitched an actual item in the ditch before so this was a first for me. Some areas I did really well… then there was the section that I caught centre pocket . I unpicked the entire lot and started again. I was careful the second time to pin my pocket out of the way

activity-go-case-ditch-stitching-fail-edge

Also on my first attempt I didn’t leave an even amount of binding around the entire edge so on some areas I didn’t cover the internal raw edges. On my second attempt I kept an even amount of binding but I accidentally caught the zipper tape in one of the corners so I unpicked that section only and re did it. I did hand finish off a small section where my binding ends joined.

activity-go-case-zipper-tab

You learn something new from every pattern and I did learn from this. Labels are awesome (blog post coming) I learnt a new way to do zipper tabs and finish off binding, I’ll be using this technique again.

activity-go-case-handle

Despite all the little set backs I had I actually really like this. I quilted the front which was optional. Grid stitching is simple but effective. I love the way the handles turned out using the technique the pattern describes.

activity-go-case-centre-pocket-open

I enjoyed the challenge of coming up with alternatives to the vinyl pockets. It made me stop and think about the sewing construction, made me think of what my sewing strengths were and how I could use them in this situation. I’m proud that I have the sewing skills now to be able to do that.

Cassiy

Pillows – E, N

mccalls-3274

I do love a pattern whether it be PDF or paper packet that is multi use, by that I mean that you can make it multiple times for different people or for the same person but in different fabrics each time. That is certainly the case with McCalls 3274. The pattern has all the letters in the alphabet as well as 3 additional shapes.

pillow-e

On this occasion I made the letter E just from some fabric I had in my stash. In the past I have used this fabric in baby blocks but I wasn’t sure what I would make with the remainder but it is perfect for this letter.

pillow-n
This is meant to be a letter N, I’ll admit it looks more like a H. To me the diagonal middle section doesn’t have enough definition but I didn’t discover that until I had stuffed it fully. It isn’t the end of the world I’m sure the little boy who is going to get it will still like it as it has fabric that he likes. I’m planning to make another one later in the year (it is already cut out) but this time I’ve cut it so the diagonal section is more prominent.

Soft toy letters had been on my to make list for some time so I’m really glad I purchased this pattern last year. I’ll be making a lot of them this year

Cassiy