This year the Australian Sewing Guild celebrates their 20th birthday and last weekend they held a lunch at Mercure Sydney. For a bit of fun I stayed at the hotel for the weekend and had a great time.
Members from nearly every state and territory across Australia came along to the event. I didn’t know anyone at the table I was sitting at but it turned out we were all from the Sydney area and we all loved sewing so instantly got a long. Some of the founding members of the guild spoke on the history of the guild and why they are so passionate about it. It was lovely to hear their stories. We ate a lovely meal topped off by a delicious looking chocolate birthday cake (sadly I don’t eat chocolate)
We had 2 special guests. Tara Moss who is a renowned author, journalist and most importantly sewing enthusiast. She is the patron of the guild and claims to be a beginner in the world of sewing but anyone who can make a corset I don’t think can be classed as a beginner. Our other special guest and to be honest the person we were all in awe of was Marion Boyce. Who is Marion Boyce? In my opinion she is the greatest costume designer Australian film and tv has ever had, her work includes The Dressmaker, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Crocodile Dundee in LA. I’ll be honest I still haven’t seen The Dressmaker. I have the book and dvd but wish to read the book first (I should put it on my To Craft list) I have seen the Miss Fisher series and seen Marion’s work close up at 2 Miss Fisher exhibitions that have come to Sydney so I am a fan of Marion’s amazing talents. Tara interviewed Marion, the entire room was silent hanging on to every word. Marion talked about how she go in to the industry and what it was actually like working on tv and films. She is under a lot of pressure from a lot of people and has only limited time with the actual actors to do fittings and adjustments.
Marion brought along this divine olive green vintage dress that was part of the Miss Fisher series. She spoke of how it was a 6 week process to construct one outfit like this as she needed to source the fabrics and accessories, have them dyed to match and finally cut out and stitched up. It isn’t a simple process and this is only one outfit, she is usually planning about 6 episodes at once. I thought I have a lot running through my head I’m thinking her brain never shuts down. Marion uses lots of trimmings and fabrics from her stash on the Miss Fisher costumes, her stash must be amazing! It was a great interview that everyone in the room enjoyed (and the wait staff that were outside the room but were sticking their heads in the door to watch)
As a treat each person got a few trinkets to take you home, I am a pen fanatic so love a free pen and the retractable tape measure I may take to work and leave in my office drawer as it will come in handy.
It was a great event. The food was lovely, the speakers were amazing and the company of fellow sewing enthusiasts was fantastic. I chatted with friends old and new and in fact I have a new table of friends whom I’m sure I will see again at the next guild event in May.
I have finished my block for this years Quilts of Hope and now just have to post it in. Craftalive are running a quilting challenge this year at all their events across the country. Participants receive a mystery brown bag containing 2 pre-cut 4″ squares of Ella Blue fabric . The challenge is to use at least 50% of the fabric in a quilt block and to consider the theme “Future Stars” when making your block. You could do the block any way you wanted as long as the finished size was 9.5″ square.
For my block I wanted a base to work within so I knew how much space I had to play with. I cut out a base with a mottled light teal coloured fabric that looks like sky, yes I know you can’t see stars during the day 😉 Around the base I did a border in star fabric. By chance the supplied fabrics fitted nicely on my sizzix cutting dies and I was able to use the a star cutting die to cut out multiple stars per square. I randomly placed them on my fabric and satin stitched around them. To get the stars for the embroidery designs I used Microsoft Word to draw up a variety of size stars. For basic shapes I still can’t go past the drawing function in Word. Using my light box and frixon pens I filled in the gaps with the various stars. The embroidery is basic backstitch which is my hand embroidery of choice. I matched the thread colour to the different coloured stripes on the fabric I used.
My inspiration for this block design was no matter the size the size or shape every star will shine bright in the future. These quilts blocks will be made into quilts for kids with cancer. I wanted a more sophisticated quilt block that could be used on a quilt for a teenage boy. It has a little texture to it with the appliqued stars and embroidery thread so if you were having quiet time you can sit there and run your fingers over it and feel calm. I’d like to think that is what this quilt block will do for some child or family, give them something else to look at and explore and take their mind away from things even for just a minute.
Double knitting is something I had never tried before, last weekend one of the very talented knitters in my Knitters Guild group ran a workshop on it so I had the chance to learn how to do it.
In double knitting you are knitting a double thickness of fabric. The way that you switch your yarns and stitches results in only the purl stitches (smooth looking stitches) showing on the outside of your work. It sounds complicated to get your head around and you cast on with 2 strands of yarn but treat them as one stitch which adds to the confusion. After the first few rows it starts to make sense. You can use this technique to make each side of the fabric a different colour the entire piece or you can twist your yarn colours around to form patterns within the piece. The result in a negative image of the pattern on the reverse side of the piece. In our workshop we worked off a chart to create a picture of a house. I only got the first half dozen or so rows done but I can see the picture starting to develop.
Prior to the workshop I had seen items done with the negative image in reverse and I really liked it but I had no idea what it was called or how to do it. I really like double knitting now that I have learnt how to do it. To be honest I am not going to finish the house, I used scrap yarn and will take it off my needles and return it to my scrap yarn bag. I do want to try this technique on a dishcloth or maybe get some 8 or 12 ply wool and make a hot pad trivet with it for the kitchen. It is very slow technique to work up in that you have to keep changing the yarn colours between your fingers and switching between knit and purl stitches. You have to really concrete on what you are doing so you don’t make a mistake in your pattern which means no auto knitting. I guess depending on the thickness of the yarn you use and how long you want to spend doing it you could make clothing other than scarves with the technique. I don’t think I would even have the attention span to do a scarf in it, a trivet I can handle.
I discovered my need for left handed scissors after trying the seam allowance guide. Last weekend I tried them out for the first time.
The scissors I purchased are made in Germany. They are a lot lighter to hold than what I am used to. They have a plastic handle in a universal grip. The universal grip means that they don’t have the shaped handle that your would normally place your thumb for comfort when cutting, this was important as I am using left handed scissors in my right hand. To recap I cut patterns backwards to the standard way of cutting with your right hand and therefore I couldn’t use the seam allowance guide on regular right handed scissors.
I was able to place the seam allowance guide on these scissors and cut anticlockwise with the pattern on my left like I normally do. The top blade that you place the seam allowance guide on is higher which is what I needed. It was easy to place on these scissors.
I’ll be the first to admit that my first result in cutting with these new scissors wasn’t the neatest in the world. In hindsight I should have practiced on some regular fabric and not my good stuff until I got the feel of scissors and using the seam allowance guide. The scissors were very light in my hand and I felt like I was hacking at the fabric instead of cutting smoothly, I’m used to my old scissors which are fully metal and heavier so you had to do bigger cutting strokes. I need to practice with small cuts instead of long cuts with these new scissors. My eyesight isn’t the best at times and I think I need to wear my glasses when using the seam allowance guide to ensure that it is staying inline with the pattern. I was overlocking the edges of what I cut out anyway so it wasn’t the end of the world.
I am glad that I was able to get these scissors. I think once I get the feel of them and practice using the seam allowance guide (with glasses on) adding seam allowance to patterns will be so much easier.
I have recently discovered Noro Tokonatsu yarn, it is a mixture of silk, cotton and viscose. It was love at first touch as it is so soft. I had no idea what I would make so I brought 3 balls of light blue colour which is Shade 7 from Morris and Sons.
I went on Ravelry to have a look for patterns. If you haven’t heard of Ravelry and you like to knit or crochet I urge you to go check it out. Ravelry is like a combination of Pinterest and Pattern Review but for yarn based projects. You can find lots of patterns and links for any yarn project you can think of. I did a search of Tokonatsu and found this wonderful little pattern by Doris & Wilfred designs that just happened to be made in the shade colour I had.
This is a really great pattern to make. I have never followed a 8 row repeat of a pattern before which is how this cowl is made but it was really easy to do. This pattern only uses stocking stitch (one row knit, one row purl) To make the elongated pattern you wrap the yarn around the needle one row then drop all the stitches the next row. I have never done anything like this before but it was very simple.
To make it easier for myself I actually wrote out the instructions for each row so at a quick glance I could see what I needed to do. I was using a clicker to keep track of my rows but I also kept a written tally. I added an extra 2½ pattern repeats to what the pattern says to do. When I finished the in total 9 pattern repeats the pattern said to knit it just wasn’t long enough for me so I added the extra on. Confession I did have a minor brain snap on my about 5th or 6th last row and dropped the loops doing the wrong stitch but you don’t even notice it. I’d put the cowl down and forgot to click and tally down my row so when I picked it up again my row count didn’t match what I needed to do. To join the ends to make it circular I did a single crochet stitch seam.
This pattern only uses a single 50g ball of yarn. Even with the extra rows I added I still only just used the one. When I brought the yarn the staff from Morris and Sons said I could return any yarn I didn’t use so I’m going to take the remain 2 balls back and swap it for other colours.
In March I have decided it is time to pull out my crocheted Sunny Log Cabin squares and join them all up to create the blanket I never finished last year. The first thing I needed to do is block them. I read the instructions on how to determine what size I need to make my squares, got out the foam play mat tiles I brought last year to use as my blocking tiles and then came into problems….
- The tiles I brought were too small. An individual tile just wasn’t big enough
- The tiles are made up of puzzle pieces so when you moved them the centres fall out. They needed to placed with something behind them to keep them solid
The tiles were only about 28cm x 28cm and the block size I am making is 32cm x 32cm. To get the size to block one square I would need to join 4 together using these tiles but as I mentioned they are a puzzle with centre pieces that fall out so you can’t move them around. I would need to leave them in place on my craft table and only do limited amounts at a time. It wasn’t practical to use so I decided to give the tiles away to a friend so they weren’t wasted.
By chance the day I went to meet up with my friend for coffee and to give her the tiles I popped into K-Mart and found these large foam tiles that you use for camping. Each tile is 46cm x 46cm so I can easily block a square on each one. There was 4 tiles in the pack and it only cost $12, here is a hint I then saw the same size foam mats at a large known sports store for $69 for a set of 4. I’m glad I checked K-Mart first. Just like the original ones I brought you can join them together to make any size you want. Now I should be able to block my squares as well as any scarves I make. If by chance I make an item that is very big I can always buy another set and join them together, although anything that is very large I just tend to stretch out over the bed and put the steam over it.
Ok plan for this weekend is to get in and block my squares.
It is really hard to get Lego fabric in Australia. Luckily I was able to get one print from Find A Fabric
This pencil case is pretty basic. I didn’t follow a pattern I just cut rectangles from the fat quarter of fabric I was able to get. The inside is lined with a bright blue homespun fabric I had in my stash. For the front of the pencil case I hand stitched on some felt letters I cut from some yellow felt in my stash to make the name. From memory I did also need to buy the zipper for this. Some projects you manage to find all the items in your stash and other projects you need to pick up a few things.
The little recipient of this got his birthday gift which also included Lego Man earlier this week and he loved it, now to start planning his birthday gift for next year 🙂