Frocktails Bag

I thought my outfit was complete after I had made my top, skirt and cape but something was niggling at me. I had the leftover portion of the fabric left that had the paint markings on it, the fabric looked really useful and I didn’t want to throw it out as it seemed such a waste. My brain got ticking and I got experimenting.

I decided I needed a bag. The fabric was very drapey and lightweight which was great for the skirt and top but not so great for a bag. If I did a traditional bag where I cut pieces from the fabric I was going to have to stabilise it all and line it. In my mind I wasn’t happy with the type of bag I would get from it, plus I couldn’t cut around the paint markings so you would see them. After much pondering I decided to cut up the fabric into strips, sew them together and make my own fabric yarn. I attempted fabric yarn once before and it was a disaster so I was hoping it would work this time.

I cut strips of the yarn around ½ wide using my quilting ruler and rotary cutter. All up it was about 50cm of fabric that I cut. It was interesting to see where the paint markings were on the strips.

To join the strips I used a zig zag stitch on my sewing machine. I sit it to a width of 5.0m and length of 1.0. This width and length gave it a nice secure join.

My machine can sometimes eat narrow bits of fabric so I cut a length of tear away stabiliser and placed that on my sewing bed. I took each strip and overlapped the ends on the stabilizer and stitched across to join them. I chain pieced them just like you do when machine stitching multiple pieces at once when making quilt blocks. this way was really easy to do and sped up the process of joining them all. I joined the strips in a random order so some had paint markings on them some didn’t.

In the end I had a large length of cut strips which in a way reminded me of paper dolls. I trimmed each piece apart from the chain and removed the stabiliser. This was a little fiddly but a pair of tweezers and a thread catcher container beside me kept the mess under control. Once it was all trimmed up I rolled it into a ball.

To make it up I chained 37 and did double crochet stitches back and forth to form a rectangle piece. I first started with a 6mm hook but I wasn’t happy with it so I switched to a 6.5mm. I just keep going until the piece looked large enough to fold in half. To create the bag shape I folded it in half and did a single crochet stitches up the 2 sides so it formed a pouch. I then hand stitched a zipper in to close the top. My sewing machine would have had a heart attack if I tried doing this on it, it took no it took no time at all to stitch the zip by hand plus less stress. For the strap from scraps leftover when I cutout my clothing pattern pieces I cut strips and joined them in the same way as I did the bag. This time I divided the strips into 3 lengths so I could plait them. Using upholstery thread as it was thicker I hand stitched the strap to the bag. I left a length of fabric at each end for a tassel. The cut strips did shed a bit so I did place this in the dryer after I finished to take off any excess loose fabric.

This bag was complete experiment that worked. I’m really happy that it did. It combined my love of crochet and sewing so it is a very unique piece. I love that I have been able to turn fabric that would have else just been wasted into something that is usable. The paint flecks and the strip joins add interest throughout the bag.




Cashmerette Sydney Sewing Retreat – Feb 18

Cashmerette is an indi sewing pattern company which designs patterns for the more fuller figure. The big 4 pattern companies design their patterns to fit a B cup but Cashmerette patterns are designed to fit cups C – H. Last year the owner Jenny Rushmore announced she was doing a tour of Australia and would be holding a 2 day sewing retreat in Sydney on a weekend at Bobbin & Ink, I decided I needed to be at it. I purchased my ticket than danced around the room singing “I have big boobs I can not lie” I can do skirt making no problem but when it comes to tops I get scared, I don’t know how to deal with a large bust so for all the tops I have ever made I have just added extra to the centre front seam and hoped that would work.

The retreat was very laid back and relaxed. Each person brought along a Cashmerette pattern they were already working on or wanted to try. You didn’t have homework that you needed to complete beforehand. The only thing I did before the class was tape together the PDF pattern I was going to make and prep my fabric (washed and ironed it) The hardest thing about packing for the retreat was remembering what sewing notions would I need to take. I felt like a bag lady with a bag of fabric, plus all my sewing notions in a bag (my denim hearts pouch was perfect for this) plus just a bag with all things I use such as rulers and my glasses. We were able to borrow sewing machines so at least I didn’t have to cart that around too.

I decided I would work on the Washington dress. It was the first Cashmerette pattern that I came across and a pattern that I discussed with Anne Whalley about making at the Know Your Style Workshop I did many moons ago. The pattern combines knits and wovens so it was a chance also to work with a new fabric combination too. One of the first things Jenny did was discuss how to measure yourself and then grade your pattern pieces to fit. I am a complete novice I didn’t know you could make your pattern pieces from different sizes and morph them all together by grading to get them to fit. I never did sewing at school or any form of pattern making so I just didn’t know this. I always thought you just select a size from the pattern which covers all your measurements. It was a lightbulb moment for me to find out you could select one size for your waist, another for you bust and a different size for you hip.

Throughout the weekend Jenny would do demonstrations some were pattern related some were sewing related. She taught us how to do full bust adjustments, sleeve adjustments, how to make collars. Jenny and her assistant Carrie sat with each person and worked with them to help with fitting issues and techniques. There was 9 of us in the group and it was interesting to see the different patterns people were working on. We had jean makers, dress makers, shirt makers. Seeing the garments transform really made you want to make that particular item and moved it from your “maybe I will make that one day ” thoughts to “I am going to make that pattern”

As with all retreats you need to eat. On the Saturday night some of us went out to dinner at a restaurant near the venue. It was nice to sit and relax after a day of learning new things (I didn’t actually do any sewing that day) Jenny showed us some teaser photos of up coming patterns, we all chatted, ate good food. We were teaching Jenny and Carrie some Australian lingo (slang terms) On the Sunday one lady who lived locally decided we need to have “Cake with Cashemerette” so she brought in a delicious cheesecake to share. A couple of years ago someone tried to body shame Jenny after she posted a photo of herself in a swimming costume telling her she would look better if she stopped eating cake, in support of Jenny people started using the hashtag  #CakewithCashmerette showing themselves eating cake as you can eat cake and still be healthy and feel good about your body.

I may have acquired some fabric over the weekend. I was admiring the fabric that one lady had used to make her dress, a dark brown cotton with tiny flowers. Unexpectedly she gave me the leftovers she had! It was at least 2m of fabric. I’m going to make a top out of it I think.

Just down the road from the venue everyone was talking about a fabric shop which had a sale on. I have looked in the shop window before but it has never been opened on a Sunday when I was there so I popped into it on the Saturday. I brought some dusty pink silk. This is officially the most expensive fabric I have ever purchased at $49/m. I am going totally outside my comfort zone with this fabric and colour. I have never sewn with silk or worn it but I hear that it is breathable. The colour isn’t blue. I’m going to make a top and thought it might be different for a change.

On the Saturday I did all my prepping of my pattern pieces and on the Sunday I got sewing. I had my sewjo and even came back early from lunch so I could continue working on my garment. By the end of the day I had my dress up to the hemming stage. I got more accomplished on the retreat than I expected I would.

I have mentioned here a few times that I have lost my sewjo. It came back in December and I got my Frocktails outfit done but then it disappeared again. I never touched a sewing machine in January. I found doing this retreat very beneficial. Jenny taught us a lot on how to accommodate clothing to fit whatever size body you had. My mind is ticking with how to try things now. I’m now not scared to try patterns or styles which I once thought it looks good on size tiny but can it work for me. I have never really got the “buzz” of making your own clothing before but now I have. I enjoyed it before but I now I have a new full respect and admiration of clothing. Since the retreat I have found myself looking at other peoples clothing and deconstructing it in my head thinking of how it was made and how I could do that myself.

Photo courtesy of Cashmerette

I think one of the big things that made the retreat was the other participants. Everyone was so generous with their time and skills. You had people who were just beginners and people who had been sewing for years. One lady was scared to use an overlocker (serger) she has had for years, another lady took her over to one that was set up and demonstrated to her how easy it was to use and then encouraged her to have a go on it. That lady went home excited that she was going to try her overlocker now. Sewing people are wonderful.

Thank you Jenny and Carrie and all the participants for a fantastic weekend.



Prototype Bag No More


Last year I self drafted a nylon tote bag to use instead of plastic shopping bags to carry my takeaways home in. This bag turned out to be a real little gem, I haven’t stopped using it since I made it. It hasn’t all just been takeaways this bag holds a lot and has been used shopping, to craft events, carrying Christmas gifts, hung on the back of a wheelchair. As I mentioned it holds a lot but folds or crushes down to nothing so it isn’t bulky if you have it empty.

Yesterday I decided after so much use it needed a wash. Sadly it never survived my washing machine. I didn’t think to put it in it my protective wash bag. All the seams were enclosed so I didn’t think it would be an issue. 2 of the seams on the base have ripped apart and so has one of the side seams. When I stitched it I used a triple stitch on the base and a regular stitch on the side seams so I don’t think it is a case of one type of seam being stronger than the other. To be honest I don’t know why it shredded. I know fabric can deteriorate over time and I did get this fabric from a swap day so I don’t if that is it. Maybe it is the fabric type itself that doesn’t wash well unprotected. At this point I’m not sure if I will fix it or just live and learn and make other bags from the same pattern using other nylon fabric I have purchased which is a bit thicker.

If anyone has any ideas of what may have caused this or ways I can prevent future nylon bags from tearing apart in the wash I would love to hear your thoughts.


Water Balloons

Last year a very clever person came up with the idea of making a crocheted water balloon and as soon as I saw the idea I thought these are brilliant one day I will make them for sure. Well I have decided this year I am going to make them as my Christmas gift to the majority of the kids that I make for.

Now I know you are thinking a crocheted water balloon what the heck??? How does that work? So with a traditional water balloon you fill it up with water, tie it up and then toss it at someone. With a crocheted water balloon or water bomb you don’t fill it up instead you soak it in water for a few minutes to plump up then you can toss it at someone, you can keep doing this until all the water is out then place it in some water to plump back up. They are made from a really thick yarn that will absorb all the water, similar concept to how a microfibre cloth absorbs water. The pattern calls for Bernat Baby Blanket. The ball is a big 300g ball which is like the size of a football. It is thick and squishy.

The pattern says to use a 9mm hook. I have made them using a mixture of both 9mm and 8mm and to be honest there isn’t much difference in the size once you are finished. I can’t tell the difference between the ones I have made with the different hooks. I’m using Clover Amour hooks. They are comfortable on my hands, I invested in all the larger size hooks just after Christmas once I decided I was making these.

I know at the start I was putting an extra row in them by accident so I do have a few taller ones but the majority of the ones I am now making are about 6″ tall. To be honest it doesn’t matter what size they turn out they are still going to be played with. The reality is you can make these any size you like.

In Australia it isn’t the easiest to get the particular yarn the pattern is calling for. During the post Christmas sales I noticed Spotlight sold it so I stocked up on the yarn to make these but I could only get 2 plain colours that I thought would look fun. I purchased online 4 balls of each colour and they arrived in a big box that luckily Mr StitchNSew was able to bring home from the post office for me as there was no way I could carry it. I underestimated how many I would get from each ball, I basically calculated 1 ball per child thinking I would get about 5 balloons each. It turns out I am getting between 13-14 out of each ball. I’m happy with that it just means that each child will get more making it a nice Christmas gift.

There are many great things I love about these water balloons

  • Environmentally friendly – No rubber balloons you need collect all the tiny pieces and toss in the bin.
  • Reusable – Toss them in the washing machine to wash again for next time again better for the environment
  • Great for any age – Under supervision of course a child of any age can fill these up and toss them about (even adults)
  • Can be used in the pool – Who doesn’t like a water fight in the pool
  • Super quick to make – These don’t involve a lot of counting so super easy to make
  • Perfect to make in bulk

To give myself a break I decided I would start making these in January and work on them slowly. For 2 maybe 3 families of kids I make for these are the only toy they will get this year for Christmas. It is a pretty fun gift and I know they will enjoy them. These are really simple to hook up. I can sit in front of the tv and whip up 2 -3 in no time. I’m just doing a ball of yarn at a time placing the finished ones in a box. By starting to make them so early I’m taking the pressure off myself to finish them by a set deadline. I don’t want my gift making to stress me out this year. This is the perfect Christmas gift project.


Leg Warmer Failure

Last year I made 4 pairs of leg warmers as gifts. They were successful to a degree but admittedly they may have been a little small as I didn’t put any increase rows in them to street over the calf area. I used the Ballerina Bloom pattern for my starting cast on count and length of the leg warmer but ignored the rest of the pattern in regards to the increases. At the time I wanted mindless knitting and didn’t feel like counting rows I just wanted to knit.

I wanted to make a pair as a gift this year but decided to follow the pattern this time. I had trouble from the start. I had to learn how to do the M1 left and right stitch which I found on YouTube but I couldn’t find a version where they did it knitting the magic loop way where you knit your item on circular needles. I was trying to get my head around learning the stitch I didn’t have the brain power at the time to then convert it to magic loop method myself. Another issue I had was knowing the increase rows would make the leg warmers larger than they were last time that I would run out of yarn so I decided I would do the cuffs on each end with leftovers. No big deal but it meant I had to remember to switch yarn and even more ends to weave in when finished.

Recently I was staying at a hotel for work for a few days with a couple of hours to kill each morning so I thought perfect time to sit and knit my leg warmers. On my first attempt I thought was doing it correct but I misread the pattern in regards to increases and put my increases in every row after I initially knitted a certain number of rows. Something like I knitted 6 rows then increased every row for the next 8 rows as the pattern said repeat row 2 (my increase row) 8 times. I’m still learning knitting patterns and in my mind that’s what it was telling me to do. I ended up with an upside down trapezium shaped piece of knitting which I knew was wrong. I ripped it back to where I changed colour from the cuff and started again. That was the only good thing about having the coloured cuff area it was like a starting point reference marker. There is a youtube clip that accompanies this pattern which I did find useful to learn how they were doing the M1 stitches. The only criticism I have with this clip it doesn’t explain on how to where to place your increase rows. The pattern is aimed at a beginner knitter but it assumes you know how to read that section of the pattern so it jumps from doing one increase row to starting the top cuff.

After some thinking I realised I needed to repeat the pattern from the beginning and space out my increase rows – note: this still could be wrong! I haven’t been to knitting guild to check. I sat down with pen and paper and noted down when I should do my increases. This made it a little easier and I knitted away.

I finished my first leg warmer having put my increases in the correct spot and did my top cuff. I was making the largest size for a child but it did look a little large. I thought once I seam it together it will look ok and be smaller.

I made my second leg warmer the same as the first increasing at the rows I had written out. Once they were both finished I seamed them up. They looked big. I tried them on (I won’t show you a photo of it on my hairy leg) They fitted me although a bit tight. These would fit a small adult not a child like they were supposed to do. I was really disappointed in them. I was going to put them in the charity donation pile but a friend said they may fit her. If they fit she can have them if not I will donate them.

This pattern has failed. There are too many increases in it that they are just too big. It was only when I finished them that I read what others who have made the pattern said they also found that the pattern was too big. I have learnt a few things from this pattern. I can now do M1 left and right stitch. I am confident that I can pick up stitches if I have too and rip my work back if I am working on stockinette stitch . I realised I don’t like working on pieces flat and seaming them.

I did purchase more yarn and have started these leg warmers again. I’m magic looping them this time and they are working better for me. I will post them once they are done.






Blue Brings Me Joy

Last year I started watching pod casts in particular a knitting one called the Grocery Girls. The Grocery Girls are a pair of sisters from Canada who love to talk all things yarn. I love watching them as they are hilarious. A warning watching their podcasts leads to your to make list growing substantially as they always keep showing wonderful designers and patterns and you think I really want to make that! One designer they introduced me to was Joji Locatelli who does some wonderful shawl patterns. As far as knitting goes I would call myself an advanced beginner so complicated patterns still freak me out. On the podcast they mentioned a good beginner shawl of Joji’s was Pure Joy so after having it on my to knit list for a while I finally gave it an attempt. It is a crescent shaped shawl so has one straight edge with the other edge going in a semi circle shape expanding out.

This wasn’t a stash busting project I did buy yarn specifically for this shawl but I have made it now so the yarn isn’t still sitting in my yarn drawer taking up space. It is made in 4ply yarn. I wanted 2 contrasting colours so I used Fyberspates Vivacious in Blue Lagoon (darker blue) and Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock in Tooth Fairy (white colour) After finishing my shawl this is all that I have leftover.

Before I start I should say the pattern did say to block the shawl once you finish it but I haven’t. I do have a few tiny misshapen sections which may have corrected themselves had I blocked this. This shawl starts at one end using a provisional cast on garter tab then you do a series of short row wedges to grow it into the curved shape. It sounds complicated but it is not. The short rows are all garter stitch and every so often the pattern has you do a row of yarn overs to form the eyelets. I read through the pattern and was pretty sure I had it correct in my head but I did take it to knitting guild to double check I was reading it right. That is the great thing about meeting with fellow knitters in real life everyone is only to happy to help with your knitting. My beginning section has a slight hump to it. It is only when it is laying flat on a table do you notice this.

I did stray from the pattern a little in the design way. I was using light yarn to do the majority of my garter rows but towards the end I was worried I was going to run out of yarn and not have enough. Perhaps I panicked a little unnecessarily but I don’t know how to estimate if I will have enough yarn or not. I decided to do alternating stripes of the darker yarn on one of the wedges. This is why I call myself an advanced beginner I didn’t think about the right side and wrong side of my work. I just thought you could only incorporate a new yarn at the start of a row so when I changed colours my stripes were on the wrong side of my work. Does it matter… No! Do I care… No! When I wear my shawls I just throw them on I never look at which is the right side and wrong side.

Both ends of the shawl have a curl to it. I am thinking perhaps I pulled my yarn too tight as I was dropping one colour and picking up the next. I was trying to keep my yarn relaxed. Since it is on both ends let’s just call it a design feature but I don’t think others who have knit this have this happen to their work.

Another slight variation I did was the last bottom row of eyelets should have been done in the darker colour so the entire wedge is that colour. I did these eyelets in the light colour. As mentioned I never blocked the shawl. I guess blocking would show the eyelets more and stretched out some of misshapen areas but this looks pretty good as is. It feels lovely and soft and I know the more I wash it the softer it will become. Even though the lighter yarn is a sock yarn which has nylon in it you don’t feel it. My Pollux shawl is made from a sock yarn and it is getting softer after each wash. I agree with the Grocery Girls this was a great beginner shawl to start on. The instructions were well written and easy to follow, this really was an easy knit. I have now made a shawl which has wedges and row repeats. Would I knit this again? Yes but I think I would choose 2 colours with more contrast to them.  I love the colours I chose, they work well together but I think if you really want each section to pop with an impact you need 2 highly contrasting colours. I do love this shawl and next winter I can see myself in this a lot.


2018 Temperature Blanket

A temperature blanket has been on my mental to make list for some time. If you have never heard of the concept a temperature blanket is a blanket where each row represents the weather temperature for whatever time period you are making it for. You have a choice of the colour range you will use but the rest of the design of the blanket is out of your control. If you didn’t want to make a blanket you could also do this with a scarf. Full confession not a great deal of planning went into this blanket. I only decided I would start one for 2018 as I was going to bed at 9:30 NYE (yes as you can see I am a big party person) Wine was not involved in making this decision 🙂 Mr StitchNSew has taken an interest in recent times in recording the daily temperatures for his own enjoyment so I thought why not finally give a temperature blanket a try and make him a blanket at the same time.

The amount of colours you use in your blanket is completely up to you. You allocate a temperature range to each colour so for example you might say each colour represents a 5 degree range in temperature so you look at what your minimum and maximum temperatures will likely be and decide how many colours you want to use from that. Most people go for a rainbow choice of colours. The concept is lighter colours for cooler weather and darker colours for the hotter weather. In my cupboard I had a stash of unopened balls of Stylecraft Special DK yarn which I had purchased for other blankets and never made. As I had chosen the colours they were mostly blues and greens. I put them all on my craft table and told Mr StitchNSew to pick his colours and choose his temperature ranges. He has decided on the following:

  • 12-15 – Spring Green
  • 16-18 – Sherbet
  • 19-21 – Cloud Blue
  • 22-24 – Aspen
  • 25-27 – Turquoise
  • 28-30 – Storm Blue
  • 31-33 – Sage
  • 34-36 – Aster
  • 37-39 – Kelly Green
  • 40-42 – Green
  • 43-45 – Bottle

I really like the colours that he has chosen there is a good mix of light and dark even though they are all blues and greens.

To record the temperatures I have created some charts in Microsoft Excel for him to fill out each day. I printed these on recycled paper. I try to print a lot of my craft patterns and charts on recycled paper (pages that have only had stuff printed on them on one side) if I can. Some patterns aren’t suitable for scrap paper if you need to trace over them as the print from the other side of the page shows through. Back to these charts. Each month is on one page. I have made the squares big enough for the numbers to be written in and I can tick them off as I complete the row so I know where I am up to. The good thing about doing these in excel you can create one and copy it for each month just adjusting the month at the top and how many days in it.

I’m doing this blanket in crochet. The pattern I am using is called Linen stitch or commonly known as Moss stitch (yes if you know me in real life I have done this on purpose) I didn’t want an overly wide blanket just something you can put across yourself on the lounge. Also I am being realistic if this blanket was the width of a bed I wouldn’t get it done this year as there are 365 rows going into this blanket and I want to stay on track with it. To start it I chained 180 stitches. After the first 6 rows I am estimating the size will be 40.5″ x 90″ which should be a nice lounge blanket.

This is only the beginning but I am already happy with it. I do have to watch I am doing the stitch correctly as admittedly I have had to fudge one or two stitches already where I forgot to chain between stitches. We are still haven’t decided if we will do a row of say black between each month to separate it all. I am going to have to think about yarn tail management soon. If possible I am not cutting the tails between rows but I know I will have to particularly in Sydney when our temps can jump day by day. There will be a lot of ends to weave in. I’m not sure how much of each ball I will use. Some of the balls I have only one of others I have up to 6 as these were purchased for other blankets. I can always order more as I am not worried about dye lots just colours.