Sausages

I’m not a butcher but I have made sausages. The pattern is Sausage Links Sarah Boccolucci. It is a crochet pattern. The pattern calls for 10ply yarn but I used 8ply acrylic I had in my stash.

This was a really easy pattern. You make all your sausage links as one piece increasing and decreasing your stitches to form each link. You fill these as you go which again was easy to do. So that my ties wouldn’t fall off I did stitch them into links. I threaded with my yarn needle with my white yarn and knotted it in a couple of the stitches before tying my bows.   

You can make your sausages any length you want in any colour. Mine are about a fingers length long each. They remind of the size we have for our Sunday breakfasts. I only did 3 links for my sausages but you could make as many as you like. These are filled with hobby fill and catnip so were part of my cat toy gifts I made last Christmas. For a child these would be great in a toy kitchen. This is just a fun pattern that I knew I wanted to make when I saw them as one of the cat owners is a butcher so it was only fitting I made them.

Cassiy

World Wide Knit In Public Day 2022

11th June was the 2022 World Knit In Public Day. A day for not just knitters but crocheters and all yarn lovers to get out and do the craft that they love in a public space. Personally I knit and crochet in public all the time. I have mentioned previously the joke in our house is that I organise my knitting project before calling for an ambulance. If I know I’m going anywhere that I’m going to be sitting for a period of time I take my knitting. In 2019 I even took my knitting to a music festival.

I usually meet up with members from my Knitters Guild for an organised event if I’m around, it usually falls on the June long weekend in Sydney and sometimes I’m away. This year our group decided to hold our event at a local garden centre / plant nursery. Originally Mr StitchNSew was going to tag along as I’d been promising him for months we would go to that place. Once I organised a weekend away for us around a knitting in public event in the city so he used to being around knitters, he reads we knit. Unfortunately on the morning he was sick so I went alone.

The nursery has a lovely cafe with a function room so that is where us yarn folks sat spread out on many tables. It was nice to be around yarn friends again. I hadn’t attended any Knitters Guild meetings in person since before Covid. I had joined a few zoom meetings but there is nothing like meeting up in person. I sipped coffee and opted for a sweet treat for lunch instead of something savory. It has been a long time since I’ve sat at a cafe and done that. In fact the Knitting In Public Day was the first time that I had eaten out with others aside from my work tea room since March 2020. Mr StitchNSew and I have eaten takeaways but they have been in a park or outdoors away from others. Last month I caught Covid so I was a little more confident about being around others without a mask for a short period of time knowing my chances of getting it again within 12 weeks was low. Even though it isn’t compulsory I still wear a mask when out and about.

As it was in a garden centre some of us made flowers to leave for the staff after we had finished. I made 3 using a basic pattern from a book in my stash. I thought I had blogged about the book before as I often use it so I might need to write a post about it. The flowers were crocheted in 8ply from leftover scrap yarn. I don’t often make decorative stuff like this so it was a nice change.

It was a nice morning out so I’m glad I went a long. It did make me realise how much I missed hanging out with my yarn friends. I’m hoping to get to our monthly meetings regularly in person in the future again. Little steps back to normal life. 

Cassiy

S.O.S To Bloggers

This is just a mini post as I’m want to pick the brain of fellow craft bloggers in particular. How do you edit your photos for the blog? I was using Microsof Exhange to edit and resize my photos so they would be very small in file size but with a new computer I don’t have that option anymore. Ideally I would like use a free program. I’m not too concerned about changing filters although it would be nice to brighten or darken some photos if needed, I’m more concerned about making the file size smaller.

Thoughts or suggestions? Thanks
Cassiy

Cutting Straight Strips

I have always struggled to cut long straight strips with my rotary cutter. If I only need to cut about 6″ or so I’m fine but any longer than that even with using my blade up against a quilting ruler I struggle to keep things straight. I know many of you are already fans of Karen from Just Get It Done Quilts and would know about this tip that she shared in her video “How To Cut Straight” which if full of useful ideas to help you cut straight and accurate.

When cutting long strips with a quilting ruler and rotary cutter it seems the key thing to ensure you cut straight is to have pressure all the way along the ruler so that it stays in place and doesn’t shift as you glide your rotary cutter along the edge of the ruler. I place my hand applying pressure on the end of the ruler nearest me (the first 6″) but after that as there is no pressure on the ruler and it is slipping across resulting up with drunken sailor cut strips that are wider at one end. By placing something heavy on the ruler like a hand weight or a tin of food it will hold the ruler in place on the end away from your body.

I tried this idea out when I was cutting the PUL fabric for my Umbrella bag. Even though I had multiple layers of slippery PUL my ruler didn’t shift about and I got a nice straight cut. It is such a simple idea and it really works. We had a spare hand weight lying around so it wasn’t something I had to go out and buy. By chance I sorted out my linen closet which is near my cutting table so it is even easier for me to grab the weight off one of the shelves in there for when I need to use it.

Now that I know about this tip it will be something that I will be doing again in the future whenever I need to cut long strips of fabric. 

Cassiy

Wardrobe Stocktake

My pledge for Me Made May this year was to do a stocktake of my entire wardrobe to see what clothing I had. I underestimated how many clothes and accessories (shawls/wraps, hats) I owned. I didn’t include socks, bras or a dressing gown. As I was going through my wardrobe I was culling items that I could clearly donate or upcycle but I kept 142 items! For me that seems a lot. I worked out my wardrobe is 45% me made and 55% ready to wear. That surprised me as I wear me made nearly every day but clearly what I wear regularly is not the entire 142 items. Unless I don’t like an item of clothing anymore and donate it I have tendency to hang on to clothing until it becomes unwearable, a few of the 142 items are becoming that way. There is a lot of items taking up space which I need to think about.

Me Made – 12
RTW – 34
Total – 46

Tops
I have included my pj tops in this category. Before I started I knew a big portion of my wardrobe is my “work” shirts. I have the same style in 13 colours which I rotate through. There is only 1 which I need to see if it is comfortable as I don’t wear that one often. The other tops are a heap of ready to wear t-shirts and polos. Some I do wear but there is a few that aren’t good enough to donate and I can’t think of a way to upcycle them at this point. As for the others I need to remember that I have them and start wearing them more, perhaps some of the ready to wear tops that are large enough I could wear as pj tops. My Concord I have only worn once or twice as I wasn’t happy with the fit. I’d hung on to it thinking maybe I could use it as a reference if I make the pattern again. Part of me is saying “unpick it and turn it into undies instead” Still pondering what to do with it. My black Cedar I’m tempted to turn into a black handbag (don’t have one) as I’m unlikely to wear it again. I can’t justify making any more tops for the moment.

Me Made – 7
RTW – 12
Total – 19

Pants
Again pj pants are included in this category (my pjs don’t match) The majority of my pants are gym tights. A few years ago outside work I was living in gym tights which explains why I have so many. Now days I’m wearing my me made pants and generally only wearing gym tights when exercising. The other ready to wear pants are summer pj bottoms. I’ll keep wearing them until they are no longer functional. I need regular shorts so will have to make those. I think I could use at least another pair of long pants as well as another pair of winter pjs.

Me Made – 9
RTW – 0
Total – 9

Dresses
In warmer weather I do wear my York Pinafores and my t-shirt dress. Maybe in winter I could wear gym tights under them. I haven’t worn my Appleton since I made it, I wasn’t happy with the fit. I haven’t worn my Washington in a few years. The neckline on it stretched out and it fell off my shoulders. Both dresses I’ve kept for the same reason I’ve kept my Concord to use it as a reference again if I make another. I do have one more York that has been cut out for over a year! I’m not sure yet if I will finish it because at this point I don’t need anymore dresses, I could use the fabric for something else even with it cut.

Me Made – 10
RTW – 0
Total – 10

Skirts
All my skirts are me made now! I do have a couple of older skirts which I haven’t worn since I started making Turner skirts. I’m thinking those I could unpick and reuse the fabric. Even though I don’t really need any more skirts I have at least 2 I want to make (one is already partially cut out) These are fun fabrics which perfect for my work place (paediatric hospital) Apart from this year when I didn’t have suitable shoes I wear skirts all spring, summer and autumn. Once I make the others 12 should do me.

Me Made – 4
RTW – 20
Total – 24

Jackets/Vests/Coats/Ponchos/Capes
I have some me made items in this category but the majority are store brought. I’m tempted to donate my denim jacket as I haven’t worn it in years and I don’t see myself wearing it anytime soon. My head is saying “A denim jacket is a wardrobe staple, you need one” but it is totally ok with now not owning jeans which is also meant to be a wardrobe must have. I have one cotton jacket which is too big. Years ago I tried shrinking it without success. I’m going to try and upcycle it at some point into another jacket or vest. I have 4 jumpers which I don’t wear. One was my favourite but has a stain which can’t be removed. It has amazing embroidery on it so perhaps I can salvage that and use it in another project. 2 don’t fit because the neckline has stretched out and I’m paranoid about getting a chill on my shoulders. One was just a house jumper so maybe I can try and remake it smaller, the other 2 I just hang on to for some reason.

Me Made – 14
RTW – 1
Total – 15

Shawls/Wraps/Cowls/Hats
I know that I have more than I need (another is still on my needles) I enjoy knitting and crocheting them. The ones that I have kept are only in the natural fibres that I like. The only ready to wear one I own is a black velveteen which I’m keeping on the off chance I go anywhere fancy and need a largish black wrap. I’m tempted to unpick my Meld shawl and repurpose the yarn as I never wear it (too small) I need me to knit myself a cotton beanie. I don’t have one.

Me Made – 9
RTW – 10
Total – 19

Underwear
I included a me made bralette (yet to be blogged about) the rest were just undies. Some of the 10 ready to wear ones will soon be unwearable. I’m a person who likes a lot of undies so I’m not alarmed by the numbers and actually think I will make a few more.

I’m glad I set the wardrobe stocktake as my challenge. It gave me the chance to see exactly what items I kept after the move. As mentioned above I have kept onto items which I’m unlikely to wear so I need to address those. They are taking up the limited space I have. At this point I’m feeling a little conflicted. I want to keep making clothes but I can’t justify it after seeing what I already still own. I might start by making the items I know I’m missing or need more of. As I was doing my count I was writing all the items down so I might sit and look back at my lists to see which items I can pass on or unpick. Strangely I like unpicking items so it actually a relaxing task for me.

Over the coming months I will do some clothing blog posts but they are all clothing that I made earlier this year. 

Cassiy

Yellow Knitting Bag

I’m calling this a knitting bag but really the recipient could use it for anything she wanted.

Last year I discovered a friend was a knitter. I also discovered like myself that she likes to knit whilst out and about. For her Christmas present I thought why not make her a project bag that she can carry her knitting in. After making M6338 as a knitting bag for another friend I automatically went to it again for this bag. The fabric I used is the same I used for the rectangle knitting bag as I cut both patterns out at once. The print looks like yarn all mixed together without it actually looking like a ball of yarn. I could be interpreting the print all wrong but that is what sprung out to me when I first came across it.

This time making the bag I didn’t use any interfacing at all in any part. The fabric is a quilting cotton. Not all quilting cottons are made equal. Some a light weight and flimsy, some are thicker but more flexible and some are really stiff. This fabric fitter in the thicker but flexible category which meant it was stable enough to hold its shape without interfacing. Without adding the interfacing it made this a quicker make as there wasn’t the additional time of cutting out all the interfacing and then cutting the interfacing out from the seam allowance to reduce bulk once seams were sewn. I don’t talk money when it comes to gifts but yes it did save on using interfacing so it was a bit more frugal. Construction wise once again I assembled the bag different to the pattern instructions. To assemble it the pattern has you stitch the top closure gusset to the inner bag, on the outer bag iron a hem all around the top of the bag and then place the inner bag inside the outer bag and stitch them together around the folded hem of the outer bag. Attaching the 2 bags together is very tricky as you have to ensure the gusset sections remains flat and you don’t catch it in the seam line. It is very bulky trying to maneuver it around the free arm of your sewing bed. By assembling it in a more traditional way of leaving a gap in the inner bag, placing both bags rights sides together, sandwiching the gusset piece in between so that all raw edges are facing up, stitching around the top of the bags and turning the bags right side out via the gap in the inner bag you get a much neater finish. There is less bulk as all of your fabric is moving around the free arm of the sewing machine on one side. The only thing is you need to remember is to place your gusset piece so that the drawstring opening gaps are facing outwards, if you follow the rule the openings face the outside of the bag whilst pinning you will have no issue.

Without the interfacing inside the bag collapses more flat when not in use which if you are space poor can be an important thing to consider. I’m glad I tried it this way as it gives me another option with this pattern when I make it again in future and I will make it again as this is my go to drawstring bag pattern.

Cassiy

Toy Desserts

Lamingtons

If you’re not from Australia or New Zealand you may not be familiar with lamingtons. I always thought lamingtons were originally from Australia but looking online it thought they actually came from New Zealand. It doesn’t matter who invented them they are delicious. Lamingtons are square piece of sponge cake that is coated in chocolate icing and then covered in desiccated coconut. Although I don’t eat chocolate anymore a nice lamington still looks tasty.

This was a project I started years ago. I cut out the squares from felt. Using white embroidery floss I hand embroidered all the “white coconut” to each piece. Some pieces were already finished when I picked these up again, other pieces hadn’t been started yet. This was a lot of mindless embroidery. I didn’t follow a pattern I was more or less just filling each piece with thread. I hate to think how many little stitches are on each one. It was fun doing all the small stitches. I worked on a little space at a time filling it with stitches going in all directions. I used up a lot of white embroidery floss from my stash. Once each piece was done I stitched 6 pieces together on the sewing machine to form a cube. I left a small gap along one edge to stuff and hand stitch closed.

Donuts

From memory I cut these out using my Sizzix big shot. I first cut out a larger circles then cut out a smaller circle in all the pieces of felt. There are 3 layers of felt for each one, two in the tan colour and one in the icing. The sprinkles were done in embroidery floss the same way as the lamingtons, no pattern just filling the space. On the sewing machine I layered the 3 circles together and machine stitched around the outer circle. I will be honest I don’t remember actually making these. I found them with the outer edges already sewn waiting for them to be stuffed and the inner circles sewn shut. To finish these off I whipped stitched a small segment of the inner circle then started stuffing it hobby fill. I continued doing this all around until the entire inner circle was sewn shut.

Chocolate Eclairs

Again these were all cut out years ago from felt, I never got around to actually starting these though. I machine stitched the “chocolate” into place then hand stitched the “cream” on top following the curve of the ric rac. The “jam” is hand embroidered with back stitch. These were assembled as basic rectangles and stuffed.

When I originally cut all these out my plan was to gift them so a child for their toy kitchen but good intentions never followed through. As mentioned on some I started parts of, others just sat all cut out. As I was making my Christmas gifts I remembered seeing them in a bag as I unpacked after the move in 2020. I decided it was time to finish them but instead of making them for a child I would turn them into cat toys. Along with the hobby fill in each toy I placed a couple of teaspoons of dried catnip. I tried to place catnip throughout the toy so it was bit of hobby fill, catnip, hobby fill, catnip, hobby fill. I think these make good size cat toys. They are soft enough so that the cat can bite them or carry them in there mouth. They are light enough so they can bat them with their paws. Do cats fetch? You can toss these around without doing any damage.

These were made for 2 cat families. It was good to finish one of my UFP’s (Unfinished Projects) that have been lingering around for years. Part of my move to more sustainable sewing is looking around first and seeing what I have already before starting something new.

Cassiy

Bibs

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.

Cassiy

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.

Cassiy

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.

Cassiy