2018 Gift Organisation Plan

Organisation has not been my strong point this year. I make so many gifts and in previous years I have been on top of things but for some reason all 2017 I have been scatter brain. I am determined that in 2018 I will be on top of my gifts again. My biggest problem this year is that I forgot about dates I needed to have things finished by and also how old the child was I was making for. Some of the kids I make for aren’t little kids anymore and I forgot they now needed a tooth fairy pillow as they are loosing their baby teeth when only it feels like 5 mins ago they were babies themselves.

Beth from Sew DIY has kindly created a free 2018 calendar on her blog that you can print out. This calendar is so pretty, it is designed for those who love to sew as each of the backgrounds has a decorative sewing machine stitch (you know all those fancy stitches on your machine that you never use) Even though it is a sewing theme it isn’t obvious it is created for sewing, there are no pictures of spools of thread or sewing machines so if sewing wasn’t your thing you could still use it for any craft you enjoy. Each month is a separate page with the calendar on it. Underneath the calendar is are lines in which you can write your sewing plans for that month plus the date started and completed. There is a check box next to each one so you can tick them off as you go. At the bottom of the page there is an area to write any events for that month.

This calendar is great. Beth gives you a tutorial on how to make it into a calendar on cardstock but I just printed mine out on normal printer paper. I’m going to keep mine in a plastic sleeve and keep it on area so I don’t lose it. I’m going to keep track of all my gifts on this so mine will have a combination of yarn and sewing projects. I’m not going to keep track on my personal sewing or knitting on this I want it just for gifts. I’m going to mark up all the birth dates for the year and the postage deadline if I need to mail them to the child. All the kids I make for fall within similar age groups so in a couple of weeks time when I meet some good friends for our Christmas catch up I’m going to pick their brains for the year the different kids were born so I can always work out the child’s age, this was something I meant to do at the start of this year. I have a separate diary which I have birth dates written and I will write the years in that. On this calendar I will just write how old they will be this year. Sometimes I change my mind with what I will make but there is plenty of room on each page for me to write all the information including pattern names, if needed the back of each page is blank so I can write on that too.

I’m going to use the printed calendar in conjunction with my diary. I will write up all my postage dates at the start of the year. In previous years I have really followed my diary where as this year I didn’t look it at that much and missed things. I am a list person and I am going to write myself todo lists and stick to them. Each Sunday morning I will check my diary for the following fortnight and therefore I won’t miss things.

As for the gift themselves I have a few ideas in mind for different kids. At the start of the year someone asked “Are you still having fun?” For the most part I would say yes, when things are going wrong when sewing or you just can’t work out how to do something then no that is not fun. 2018 will be busy for me in my day job so gift wise I want to make simple items that don’t involve a lot of stress as I want my gift making to be fun. The gifts may not be as fancy as in previous years (everyone may just get tote bags or pencil cases) but I still want to continue making the gifts. I do still enjoy it but I don’t want to place pressure on myself. I want to be selfish and also make some clothing for myself but I don’t want to feel guilty because I have gifts I should be making instead. I want my craft time to be my stress release and not a stress in itself.

If I am organized and feel on top of things then I am going to enjoy my 2018 gift making.



Built In Wardrobe Make Over

The built in wardrobe where I store the majority of my dress fabric and yarn has been bugging me for a while, it had gotten way out of control. I’d get something new and just dump it in there. At times I’d move one thing and everything would fall out. I had some non craft stuff hanging in there and the big white box is my finished gift box. At times this had so much stuff on it I wouldn’t even bother trying to get in it I would just put the next finished gift on top… I know what is the point of having the box then if I can’t get to it.

The middle blue tub is where I stored all my wool I use in WIRES pouches so I was forever going to it to grab another ball. That was a nightmare to get into as I would have to try to open it without toppling the pile of things that surrounded it. Just by the weight of everything the lid had broken and I was almost cutting my hand as I was pulling the yarn out. I may of even pulled yarn out through the crack in the top which wasn’t good but it worked kinda…

Something had to be done as it was making going into the cupboard not fun. Recently in a facebook yarn group someone showed a picture of some new storage boxes that Kmart has that are stackable and flip open at the side so you don’t have to remove the lids to access the contents. Yesterday I measured my space after checking out the dimensions online and today I picked up 3 containers. I cleared out everything from the side space and the containers fit perfect. The bottom one has all my cottons that I use for dishcloths. The middle one has WIRES yarns as they are all 100% wool. The top one is my everything else yarn. There are half a dozen cottons in there but they will be made into a scarf. I’m currently venturing into new different types of yarns so they are all in there. If I run out of space in there I can’t buy more yarn so an incentive to start knitting and crocheting!

As I moving my fabrics about I was looking at each one and thinking if realistically I would use it or not. I culled a lot of fabric from my stash. In October Sydney Spoolette’s are having our Spring Fabric Swap day and this lot will taken to that. Some of it is offcuts that I know I won’t use again. Some of it is fabric I purchased new but it isn’t screaming make me into something. Some of it I have brought second hand or gotten at previous swap days. There is no point of it sitting in my wardrobe when it might be perfect for someone else.

I noticed as I was sorting through was I had a lot of things in plastic bags. I only have one thing in a bag now and that is a set to make a tank top everything else I took out of the bags. These bags will now be sent back to my local supermarket tonight for recycling. I think I am less likely to use it if it still in the bag. Another thing I have to remind myself just because it is blue doesn’t mean it has to come home with me. I have both some yarn and fabric that I don’t really need and I know the only reason I’d gotten it was due to the colour.

The wardrobe is better now. I culled some other non craft stuff from it. I’ll be honest and say it is not ideal but for the time it will do. I basically have the fabric stacked in the open container that used to have the WIRES wool in it. On the other side of the room I do have some fabrics in containers but I don’t really want to put the fabrics in containers in here as I know I will never bother to go into them. The fabrics I do have in containers are really specific like fleece or felt. All the stuff in here is dress fabrics – some knits, some wovens, some heavier fabrics. If I am going to make clothing this is the pile I am going to head too. I can still access it all in here. Maybe I might look to see at some point if I can fit some narrow shelving or something in there but for the time being this will work.

Now I just need to get my sewjo back and start sewing again!




Keep It Simple

I need a bag at work to keep some supplies in so I can store them neatly in a cupboard and not have to carry them everywhere each day. No problem I can sew I’ll just whip up a bag that closes up and I can use it as a project bag after I finish needing it for work. Friday afternoon I came home, prepped some fabric, found a pattern I was going to have to modify but was still larger than I was wanting but would do the job. This morning I was ready to cut the fabric and thought STOP!!! Think about it can you use a different pattern or.. even use an existing bag to do the same job.

By chance I found this Bendigo Woollen Mills tote bag in my stash this morning which came as part of a kit I brought earlier this year. When I found it I thought ‘this sitting in bag in plastic is just a waste you should use it some time’  The sides expand so I thought I might even use it to form a pattern to make some reusable shopping bags which I am planning on making. When I went to cut my fabric I remembered this tote bag and thought it is a great size but it doesn’t stay closed.

Brainwave by adding a couple of kam snaps to the top of the bag instantly the bag had closures. In my stash I found some black snaps which matched the print on the front of the bag so you can’t tell that I added them myself (not that it matters) 5 minutes later I had a bag that would stay closed, would fit an A4 notebook in it plus a few other goodies (coffee cup, glasses, teabags) Next year when I don’t need it for work it will be a yarn bag again.

As crafters I think we tend to over think things sometimes and create more work for ourselves then we need to just because we have the skills to do so. If I had made the bag I originally had thought of doing it would’ve taken me hours, it would’ve been a good bag but there were other more simple solutions that I didn’t think of because my immediate first thought was make one. I never even considered modifying an existing bag. This is also a reason why it pays to know what you have and if you get something like a useful tote bag don’t stash it away use it or why bother getting it in the first place. At times we need to Keep It Simple and think outside the square for solutions. We are all time poor as crafters so why create more work for yourself when your time can be better spent on other projects.


Quilt NSW Membership

I was so inspired by all the wonderful quilts at the recent Sydney Craft and Quilt fair that I joined Quilt NSW.

Quilt NSW is like the state guild of quilters for NSW, similar to the Australian Sewing Guild and Knitters Guild NSW. Like all craft guilds its main focus is to promote quilting and continue on this beautiful craft for years to come. Members can attend workshops or meetings with other quilters. They have quilt shows and challenges that members can participate in. Quilting is something that I want to do more of but never find the time so what motivation to make the time than to join the state guild.

Over the years I have done a little bit of quilting, most on things like mug rugs or minis. I would like to one day enter a piece in the Sydney Craft and Quilt fair. Due to my workload I know I won’t get one done for next years show so my aim is to get a piece in the following year. I have no idea how big or small my quilt will be but I have the ambition to get something in. I have a quilt in mind that I wish to do but I don’t know how long that one will take to do, I guess it depends on how big I make it and if I can get the combination of fabrics I want. With everything else I wish to make (toys, clothing) I will have to really plan quilt making into my schedule, it sounds awful having to schedule in time to craft but I think it will be the only way to juggle all the bits and pieces I wish to do. I of course have more than one idea for a quilt floating in my brain, just like my clothing to sew list my to quilt list is long too.


Sydney Craft And Quilt Fair June 17

Last week I spent a couple of day at the Sydney Craft and Quilt Fair. This year it returned to Darling Harbour in the newly built International Convention Centre. The venue was nice, I spent the Friday and Saturday at the show.

Day 1
On the Friday I decided to do what workshops I could that day as I was expecting it to be very busy on the Saturday with the weekend crowd. The first workshop I did on the Friday was to make a little wallet that had a double opening. This workshop was a lot of fun and we were taught by a Ninja! Our teacher was dressed like a fabric Ninja and kept us all entertained. He kept telling us little Ninja hints and short cuts to do our work. For the workshop Ninja had pre stitched our fabric panel that was in the pack so in the class we could do the assembly of the wallet (Ninja tip to save us time he said) He needed to show to everyone how to measure and do the folds of our fabric panels, I happened to be sitting where he was standing so he demonstrated on mine. I was paying attention and understood it so I was able to show others how he did it. When it came to inserting the metal press stud closure he again demonstrated on mine.

I inserted the 2nd press stud closure on my wallet myself. On the 2nd side you actually go through more layers of fabric and I thought it would be difficult but it was very easy to insert. Ninja supplied us with special Ninja press studs that you could insert entirely by hand without a press or pliers. Even through the extra layers the just snapped into place. I did pull a thread when I was piercing the holes so there is a slight dip on my purse front but I am not fussed about that.

To assemble the wallet together you do a Ninja sashiko stitch that he discovered thanks to all the crafters in the room was like a herringbone stitch. He started mine off and I continued working on it. I have almost finished this side in the class. This wallet is almost finished, at some point I will finish it off (hopefully by next years show)

The 2nd workshop I did was to make a leather pouch. I always like to try working with different things if I can at the shows and leather was something I had never stitched before. For the workshop we each got to choose what we would like to make, I chose a leather pouch. The leather already had the stitch lines marked out so we basically just had to place our needle into the marked spaces. The leather itself was lovely and soft and very easy to work with. What was unexpected was we used wax thread. This was a texture I was not used too and that was an experience… It was very tacky and if you are one who hates have sticky hands when you are crafting it was very different to what you are used too. It worked great on the leather but I must admit I couldn’t wait to wipe my hands with a baby wipe after the class. This is something I’m also aiming to get finished.

Day 2

One of the reasons why I was doing 2 days at the show was that I booked into hear Kerry Lord speak and demonstrate how she makes her toys. I will be perfectly honest and say that before I read up about this years show I didn’t know much about Kerry. Kerry makes these amazing crocheted animals and creatures. Up until a few months ago I hadn’t tried amigurumi until I made the football so I hadn’t really looked at patterns for it. I purchased a couple of Kerry’s books and her patterns are so cute and simple to make. Her toys are divided up into skill level from basic to more advanced toys. Seeing her demonstrate how to do all the toys in the different stages was great. She kept giving us great little tips and reminding us it just comes back to the fundamentals, the different levels might be working with different colours or doing slightly different shaped parts. We all came away from her talk thinking yes I can do this. Also as a special bonus she emailed everyone who attended her talks a set of crochet patterns of all her Australian animals, how is amazing is that!

Kerry’s stall was so much fun to visit, all her toys were flying in mid air. Even if you weren’t into crochet you fell in love with her toys. She made an interesting comment a lot of toys are made for adults or teenagers so that is why all her toys are designed so they can sit upright on a computer or shelf and not be floppy. I guess we are all big kids at heart.

I did do a hands on workshop and managed to break a sewing machine…… Ok so I don’t know if I technically broke it or I just happened to be using it when it had a hissy fit and protested. I was doing a free Janome workshop and was making an “in the hoop” pouch when I noticed the sewing machine started to skip stitches during the stitching out of the design. The machine had to be retired for the day as it needed to go off for servicing. They were going to offer to let me finish it off on another machine but I know that during shows like this timing is tight between classes that they run so I decided that I will finish it off at home. They gave me a sample one since mine didn’t work. I’ll easily be able to sew up the side seams and still use my one.

Craft show always equals shopping. This year I did have a few yarn related products I was hoping to pick up. I got a wooden yarn swift as well as some new clover crochet hooks. I picked up a ball of yarn after falling for the pattern and now I have to learn short row knitting. I was a bit indulgent and picked up some embroidery and applique packs from Sarah Fielke. Sarah is one of my favourite quilters and this year she had her own shop so I picked up a few things.

Books are always something I enjoy and this year I got a couple, mostly crochet but I also got one of Sarah’s and have also ordered another of Kerry’s too. There is just something special about holding a book in your hands.

So one tradition of the Craft and Quilt fair is the morning dance. Just before the doors open for the day stall holders come out and dance in front of the crowd. It is a bit of fun and gets everyone in the happy mood. After they dance they select people from the crowd to dance with them and they give you a lovely prize. I am happy to dance around like an idiot so this year I did it and I was given some amazing quilting templates and crafting supplies. It was fun and set the mood for the day.


Craft Plans Jun 17

It is officially winter in Australia so a good time to sit around, drink tea and do craft.

Each month I come on here with a list of projects I wish to do and at the end of the month often I haven’t gotten them done instead I have done other random things that weren’t even on my radar at the start of the month. To be honest sometimes I am all talk and no action. This month I’m not going to write a tick list of things to do. I’m not giving up I am just going with the flow this month. Events wise I have 2 craft weekends booked in, towards the end of June is the annual Sydney Craft fair and in the middle of the month I’m going to attend my first knitting camp. I am looking forward to both weekends. We also have a long weekend coming up so I may be able to squeeze in some bonus sewing time on that extra day. I have a few unfinished softies which I’ll work on this month and I’m contemplating starting another valiant cowl as I have been wearing my current one most mornings this week. Now to decide on what crafts to take away with me on my June weekends away…. Hopefully I can report back on here with some finished projects.


ASG NSW Industry Day May 17

Last Saturday NSW Australian Sewing Guild members were lucky enough to have another Industry Day at McCall’s patterns in Sydney. In the Sewing Guild an Industry Day is where members gather together to hear talks from various people within the sewing industry, catch up with friends and do a little bit of shopping of some exclusive deals not offered to regular members of the public.

Our first speaker of the day was Kay Haerland who is a textile artist. I’ll be honest and say before the day I had never heard of her. She brought some of her quilts along that she had made and they were stunning. Listening to her talk on how she did different techniques was brilliant and really got me thinking. Her quilts start as basic calico and from there she builds them up with applique and hand painted fabrics and layers of different textures to create amazing sceneries that look like they are a painted canvas but due to the techniques used some are even 3D. I have an interest in textile art so I brought the dvd’s she has made because it something I would like to do more. Textile art is something that you can incorporate into your everyday sewing and not just something that needs to be placed on a wall.

Our second speaker was Hollie Bell from Tools by Hollie. Hollie invented the Seam Allowance Guide which is really useful. She is currently working on 3 other inventions which she talked about with us. The invention we most got excited about was Hollie has created a custom made dress form for herself using a scanner and 3D printer and is looking in to how she can do this for others. She told us about her plans to make this available to everyone at a reasonable affordable price. I hope she does get to fulfil her plans because the idea sounds brilliant. As someone is doesn’t really fall within the traditional dress form sizes her idea is wonderful.

Our third speaker was Yvette Stanton. Yvette is lovely, we sat on the same table at the ASG 20th Anniversary Lunch is March. Yvette is an amazing embroider and also I would say textile historian. She likes to focus on the traditional methods of doing different embroidery stitches and styles. She gave us a talk on Hardanger which is a Norwegian style of embroidery. It was fascinating to see photos of the traditional style versus the contemporary style of it, both styles look great but it was lovely to see that people are still wanting to learn the traditional style. Skills are lost unless they are learnt and passed on.

Our final speaker for the day was Elinor Lloyd-Philipps from Nylon Swish. Elinor gave us a history of woman’s foundations which basically underwear and how they have changed over the years. We all laughed at the names of the original cup sizes of bras when they were first invented – I don’t know if I would like to go to a store and ask for size Super Drooper. Although I don’t tend to think a lot of underwear the talk was interesting and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would when I saw a couple of mannequin’s in underwear sitting at the stage area.

We are lucky on the day that McCall’s offers us some great bargains, we get to purchase some supplies at discount prices. I am a pre planner so before the day I researched all the patterns I wanted and had a list. I am trying to push myself into trying new patterns and trying different styles but those I am likely to wear. I did get a couple of patterns which I can use for gifts. I purchased a couple of books on clothing fitting of pants and jackets which should help me as I venture into these items. I also picked up a couple of rolls of different interfacing and another roll of Trace and Toile because it will get used particularly if I am doing more clothing making and using bigger pieces.

Industry days are always fun. It was great to catch up with friends old and new. An Industry Day is a day where you can just turn up and know you can have a conversation with anyone in the room as you all share the common interest of sewing. At times I lose my “Sewjo” and I think we all do. Going to an event like this and talking to people makes you remember sewing is fun and it doesn’t matter what you make or how it turns out. Grab some fabric and get sewing.