I had a week off work last month as a summer holiday. Unlike in 2019 when I went away this year I stayed home and mostly packed the unit up as it was the only real packing time I had ahead of the big move (still no date yet) I don’t often take time off work and I didn’t want to spend the entire week packing as I wanted to enjoy my summer holiday and not have it feel like a chore – who wants to feel like they have been sent to clean their room for a week? So I made sure I fitted some sewing into my week.
Whilst packing up my fabrics in the garage I had the pattern pieces for the pillows I was intending to make for Christmas with me. I picked out fabrics from my stash suitable for the pillows as I went through all my boxes and over a couple of afternoons I got all the pillows cut and sewn. All I need to do now is stuff them with hobby fill and hand sew the openings shut which will be a tv job later in the year. For now I will pack these away knowing I have 6 Christmas presents almost done. This year one of my big aims is to enjoy my sewing and I enjoyed making these. In these pillows I have memories of finding the fabrics in my stash. The time spent sewing gave me a break from all the packing. Getting these done so early in the year also means I feel organised and in control of my sewing. These a bright happy cheery pillows which were fun to sew and hopefully will look cute in the kids rooms they are for.
I can say it now we are moving!! We have purchased a unit and later this year will make the big move. To help me remember how I had my set up before I started packing I thought I would share it on here. Crafting can take up a lot of space with supplies and machines. I’m always curious as to how people have theirs set up
I had 4 main areas within my rental unit that I used plus my garage which I kept fabric and my first sewing machine which I called my travelling machine in.
This is where my sewing first started. Before I started sewing in the loungeroom on Mr Sttichnsew’s suggestion I had my machine set up in here in a cabinet, all my craft magazines/books and few craft supplies on bookshelves. If I was going to sew it would only be when I had enough time to set up and pack things away afterwards. I’m lucky enough I can leave sewing projects out without animals or kids touching them but when I was sewing in the study I was limited with space. I would have to pull my sewing cabinet out into the centre of the room and move things about a bit to use it. It was a nice little room to sew in but it was also very isolating. In the end the study turned a storage area for some of my sewing machines which I wasn’t using and I had a spare sewing cabinet which held my overlocker in it and the top it was used for a dumping ground for patterns. My roles of interfacings and pdf patterns rolled up were kept in there too as well as all my foam blocking mats. My bookshelves contained some craft supplies and my remaining craft magazines and books. By the end of 2019 I had sold 3 of my extra sewing machines and sold my spare sewing cabinet. Once I started clearing out my excess craft books and magazines I had space on my bookshelf to store my overlocker so I sold the cabinet.
This is where I kept all my dress making fabrics, sewing notions, yarn most of it anyway. I had a wardrobe which much to B’s amusement I called the “Craft Wardrobe” It contained a shelving unit full of fabric, containers of yarn, a bookshelf of sewing supplies and a heap of other crafting items hanging or squished at the sides. In the room I had boxes of fabrics, another shelving unit of fabrics and all my paper dressmaking patterns. I also had my clothes drying airer which often would have fabric drying on it. I would try and keep this room under control but it did get a little crazy at times… ok a lot crazy. Having my sewing patterns and dress making fabric within the same room meant sometimes I would just go and play around with my patterns and fabrics to get ideas on what to make. Sometimes that was all I needed to help me relax.
In the garage I keep a lot of my general crafting fabric. This is fabric I use in gift making and for making WIRES pouches although I did have a stash of that in my spare room too. My fabric boxes weren’t organised at all and I would have to go through several boxes to find fabric I want. It was fun “shopping” in my mini fabric store but my dream would be to organise it more so perhaps all colours were together or all prints are together. I need to go through as there are a lot of fabrics in there I know I won’t use such as Christmas themed fabric or fabrics which have like a metallic finish on them which aren’t suitable for WIRES pouches. Future me will get this organised and that way I can use it more. In recent times sometimes I have gotten lazy and just brought new fabrics instead of going through it all. As mentioned I would store my travel sewing machine here but I don’t travel with it any more so have kept it as my spare machine instead.
This isn’t one of my main storage areas but I managed to stash a lot of yarn in here. Most of it is under the bed where I also kept my yarn winders. In the bottom of the wardrobe I also had a stash of yarn. This was big lots of acrylic yarn for future projects or scraps from previous blankets.
This was my sewing area and preparation area. I permanently have my sewing machine and ironing board set up. My machine sits on sewing cabinet by the tv so I can watch it as I sew or I can listen to music. We have no dining table so in the space behind the lounge where most people would use a dining room I have my ironing board and craft table set up. My craft table is actually a cutting table which I think you can no longer buy. It is higher than most craft tables which is good for my back as I don’t have to bend so much. With my mobility issues the higher table helps immensely. The table was my mum’s and it was one of the few things I said I wanted when we were clearing out her stuff. Most times it is pushed against the wall but I do pull it out into the centre of the area when I am tracing out/cutting out large patterns as I can get around all sides of it. When I use my overlocker I used it on this table. My craft trolley used to live under my table but I now keep it near my sewing machine as I can reach over and grab things from it.
I have no idea what the set up will be in the new place but I know things will be different. I won’t have a garage to store fabrics in I know that for sure. The unit layout will be different and it will take me a bit to work out where to put everything but I will get there. As with most things I had just gotten the right set up and balance of things before the decision to move was made. I have limited time off before the move so late December I started packing away things I wasn’t going to use in the coming months. It has been an interesting task. I have had to really plan out what I’m going to knit/crochet during that time to leave enough yarn out for projects. I had to also think about the projects themselves, I didn’t want anything too complex as knitting/crocheting is my relaxation from everything else that is going on. It helps keep my sanity. I decided on a few easy projects and so far so good. With my sewing I have kept out a bag of essential tools and supplies and my projects are again relatively simple or things I need to get done by deadlines which may fall near our expected move timeline. We don’t have an actual move date yet but have a rough time frame. I’m even thinking of gifts for Christmas 2020 and as I pack my remaining craft fabrics I’m happy to even make a start on those knowing I can always place them in a box and know where they are as during my packing I’m numbering each box and writing contents in a notebook.
It might be many months before I do an “After” blog post but once I get settled in I will. Ideally I would like to have it as a similar set up but as for the most part it was working for me in this place but I will have to wait and see.
This is the second poncho I made from A Beginner’s Guide To Dressmaking magazine. I really fell in love with the poncho is this magazine, it is a really simple project to make it.
The fabric I used on this one is a french terry which I purchased with my discount voucher from February Frocktails from the Fabric Store. One side of the fabric has the french terry and the other side is like velour so it is very plush. It is a thicker fabric than my Brickwork poncho so doesn’t have the same drape but I still think has a nice shape.
I did cut the neckline smaller on this one. Perhaps a tad bit too small as I have to be careful if I’m taking it on and off at work that I don’t mess up my hair (yes I’m vain at times) The neckline isn’t strangling me and is giving me more coverage across my shoulders and back.
Instead of adding bands to the bottoms and side of this poncho I just extended the width and length to the poncho before cutting it. I knew both my overlocker and sewing machine would go into meltdown with such bulky seams that the bands would create. Also adding the extra width meant it was faster sew as there were less construction steps.
On the shoulders I just overlocked the edges before I stitched them together then topstitched them down. To cover all my other raw edges I used leftover bias tape from my Black Dolman top. I stitched the raw edges of the tape and the poncho together then folded it under and top stitched down. Super simple but more machine friendly.
This was one of those projects where I actually spent an entire day sewing on it. I’d cut out the pieces the weekend before then the following Saturday started sewing. Normally I sew for only a short period of time then I get bored or I get sore. My attention span can be very short sometimes. I just kept going back and doing another step on this or sewing another seam and before I knew it poncho was done in the day.
It is too hot to wear this now that it is summer but I did get a couple of wears of it this year. One thing I discovered is that ponchos don’t sit under backpacks easily. I just have to keep that in mind when I’m going to wear one. Most days for work I just have a shoulder bag which easily fits under the side of the poncho. I love this poncho. When I wear it with my velvet York I’m very textural. I walk up to work colleagues and say “Go on pat me I know you want too” because people love the feel of both fabrics, I certainly do. I’m not normally a touchy feely person but I don’t mind in this poncho.
Normally in December I do recap or review of my year in Crafting. This year I have decided to take part in The Sewcialists Sewing Top 5.
Here are my 2019 Top 5’s
Top 5 Hits
- Sesame Street skirt
- Blue Velvet pinafore
- Denim pinafore
- Lego skirt
- Charity bags
In 2019 unfortunately I never did as much a sewing as I did in 2018 but I managed to make things both clothing wise and gift wise. My most worn items which get worn almost on a weekly basis are my Lego skirt which I made in 2018 and my Sesame Street skirt which I did make this year. They are fun skirts which bring smiles to peoples faces. I enjoy wearing them. My denim pinafore which I made following my trip to Melbourne this year is another highly worn piece, again almost weekly. With the pocket on the front it is really functional and the fabric means I can wear it with dress shoes or sneakers. I am really proud of the bags I made for charity this year so they have made my list. I like using my sewing skills in a practical way to help others. I think these bags turned out really cute this year. I’m proud of my blue velvet pinafore, I loved the fabric as soon as I saw it and it turned out just the way I imagined.
Top 5 Highlights
- February Frocktails
- I love My Fabric Party
- Spring Frocktails
- Fabric Swap Day
- Melbourne Fabric Crawl
Winning a $150 shopping voucher for The Fabric Store at February Frocktails has to be the highlight of the year. I had the so much fun at both Frocktail events this year. It is fun to be around fellow sewing people talking all things patterns and fabric. The fabric swap day where I decluttered so much sewing related items was also a really good day. I came home with empty bags and a weight off my shoulders. Going to Melbourne this year and spending the day on a fabric crawl is an adventure I’m never going to forget. It was relaxing and I was doing my own thing. I met interesting people, touched lots of fabric. You don’t have to leave the house to have fun, the weekend I spent at home for the “I love my fabric Party” was fantastic. It really allowed me to connect to the fabric I had. I sorted my fabrics, culled a lot, saw pieces that were missing. I found fabrics I’d forgotten I had. I was sharing pics on Instagram with others but you could spend the weekend in your stash and not do that and still have fun.
Top 5 Reflections
- One Step, Two Steps
- Missing Pieces
- Do I Really Need It?
- Relax and Enjoy The Process
Things I have learnt this year that pockets are awesome and they should be on everything. If I’m wearing something and it doesn’t have pockets I’m lost. Which brings me on to missing pieces, I need more skirts that have pockets. At this point that is probably the biggest missing piece from my wardrobe particularly in Summer but I do need to look at my wardrobe before I write my next To Sew List and see what is missing. From now on I want to make items which are missing from my wardrobe rather than making a pattern just for the sake of it or to complete a self imposed challenge. In terms of making things I have learnt that things don’t need to be made in quick amount of time. I need to relax and enjoy the process of making an item. By just doing one step and then the next step I can get things done. It doesn’t matter what I am making whether it be clothing or a gift doing little steps one at a time means the item gets completed in the end and remember if I am not enjoying it then why I am doing it? The last thing I have learnt this year is that I need to stop and think if I really need something before I get it. This year I saw how much stuff I had that I wasn’t using. Not only did it cost me money in the first place, it was taking up space and causing me stress.
Top 5 Goals
- Be Realistic
- Get Organised
- Plan Ahead
- Shop My Stash
- Sew Because You Want Too
Since I started sewing back in 2011 this year was the year I really felt pressure from myself to sew things. I felt really unorganised and I changed kept changing my mind at the last minute on gifts I was making which often resulted in me running to the shops or buying supplies last minute so I could make them. In 2020 I know I’m going to have less sewing time so it is essential that I plan projects for myself and gifts ahead of time. I need to write things out clearly, shop my stash for supplies and give myself enough time to make them and be realistic about it. I have to remember to sew because I want too and not because I have too which is something I have felt this year. I know these are vague goals but they things I need to keep in mind. I might even write them in my diary to remind myself.
So this morning I was inspired to share my Top 5’s for the year. What are yours?
Last weekend I donated bags to Share The Dignity for their “It’s In The Bag” campaign. If don’t live in Australia or are not familiar with Share The Dignity they are a charity who support woman and girls across Australia who are in crisis. Each year they encourage people to fill a handbag with essentials that we all take for granted (toiletries, sanitary items, etc) The bags are distributed through local community groups to woman and girls who need them. I made up 3 bags this year. I make my bags as I don’t own any old handbags plus it is a way for me to use my sewing skills and fabric stash.
I used the same pattern I used last year which is McCalls M6338 View D. This pattern is a picnic tote bag but makes a great size handbag. I don’t include the extra pockets on the inside or outside. You make it a little differently to your average tote bag due to the drawstring top section but it still super easy to make.
The fabric I used was some I found in my stash during my “I love My Fabric Party” Unfortunately due to the way I stored my fabric previously the fabric had fade marks on it. I couldn’t use it for clothing but it was perfect for bag making. It is a flocked denim fabric that I fell in love with when I brought it. I played pattern tetris tracing out all the outer bag and tops from the piece. I just fitted them all on it. As the pattern pieces are straight edges it was easy to place the pattern piece on the fabric and trace around it with my quilting ruler and chalk pen. It didn’t take long at all to do them. Once the bags were finished you couldn’t see the fade marks at all. The fabric is sturdy too which helped the bags hold their shape.
For the handles and inner lining bags I used some blue rose fabric I brought a few months ago. This was fabric I only brought due to my obsession with blue roses. It is a quilting cotton more than a dressmaking cotton. It would have been too stiff for me to wear but was perfect for these bags. I was originally hoping to the handles in the denim but I didn’t have enough. I actually like how I have done the handles and the inner bags the same as it doesn’t look like I ran out of fabric for the handles, design feature! The drawstring is some ribbon from my stash. I needed to use a narrower drawstring than I used last year as the denim is rigid and the wider drawstring I originally inserted make it hard to pull the bags closed. These are my favourite bags yet. I love the colour, the fabrics. They fill up as a nice size.
I start collecting for my bags each year pretty much after I have donated the last lot. I have a box I stash everything in. I filled my bags with toiletries I had salvaged from hotel stays throughout the year, hair accessories/makeup I have brought on sale, socks, stockings, a few things I have made, face washers I have been given. When it come to filling the bags I empty out my collection box and divide it amongst the amount of bags I have.
I already have fabric set aside to make for next years bags. Next year I’m setting myself the $20 challenge. In 2020 I’m not going to be staying in as many hotels as I did this year which means I’m going to have to buy more of the items which I fill the bags with. Frugal me is up for the challenge and will be on the lookout for bargains and freebies throughout the year. I’m going to make a few things from my stash too. I really like supporting this charity and wish to continue for many years.
Last Sunday the Sydney Spoolette’s held a fabric swap. Although it is called a fabric swap there is a bit more than just fabric that gets brought along. People bring sewing notions, patterns and books some are sewing related others not. They are a lot of fun and I do highly recommend if you able to get to one in your local area that you do!
I mentioned back in August I used my “I love my fabric party” to cull fabrics from my stash. I did take most of the fabric I pulled out to the stash. Yes a few pieces did go back into my stash after consideration. These were fabrics that I knew I could use in projects that I hadn’t thought of before so they were taken out to be used and not stashed for “I might make something” purposes.
Recently one morning before work I decided to cull my craft books. I was ruthless and culled I think around 50 – 70 books I would say. I divided them up into categories (yarn, sewing, kids toys) To the swap I took most of my sewing and kids toys books which ended up being 4 bags full. The other books will be taken to my knitters guild group or donated to the volunteers at my work to use or sell at their bric’n’brac stall. Guilty again a couple of books have gone back to my stash as I was packing them.
Prior to the swap I went through my sewing notions and patterns. After 8 years of crafting I have gathered a lot of things I’m not going to use. Some were items I won at craft shows, gotten in “sew boxes” subscriptions (sadly that company no longer operates) sewing patterns I’d brought or gotten for free, items I brought at Australian Sewing Guild Industry days which were a “bargain” and I thought I would use. You just gather things in your stash over time without even realising it. If I wasn’t going to use it out it went.
In the end I took 7 bags to the swap. My suitcase contained all my fabrics, 4 bags of books and 2 bags of notions. The day before I also found a set of sewing needles for a sewing machine I no longer have and since a friend I knew had the same machine and was going to the swap I put them in my handbag to give to her.
There was a last minute change of venue for the swap and it ended up being held in a café. We had a room to ourselves and from the outside it looked like a “Spoolette’s Pop-Up” shop from the street. The room was packed with fabrics, patterns, books, buttons, threads. It was a wonderful turn out of people and items. Since I wasn’t “shopping” I pulled up a seat, drank coffee, minded people’s bags and called out coffee orders as the café staff brought them in. I may look quiet but I have been called “Miss Megaphone” in the past so I am happy to yell. Ok so admittedly by the time I factored in the taxi ride to the venue and back it was it was the most expensive cup of coffee I have ever drunk but I didn’t care I still had fun. Every so often I would get up to touch fabric and watched the different layers of the fabric table emerge as people took stuff and the pile decreased. I was chatting to people and looking at the items they took. It was a relaxing Sunday morning.
So what did I come home with…. Nothing but empty bags!!! Yep that’s correct I took nothing home from the swap. I even decluttered a couple of carry bags 🙂 Everyone said I was very restrained but the reality is I wasn’t. For me the swap was the opportunity to declutter my sewing stuff knowing they would go to a home that would use them or at least appreciate them. I didn’t want to bring stuff home and repeat the cycle of having items in my stash. Even though I culled so much stuff I still have a house full of fabric and sewing supplies so there was no FOMO (fear of missing out) by not taking things home. It was wonderful that everyone else was able to take items home but I am in a mental space at the moment where I don’t want anymore stuff. I was started to get overwhelmed by how much stuff I had. In 2020 we might be moving house. I don’t want to pack things I’m not going to use, I am already starting to freak out how I will pack everything in boxes so I don’t want anymore after 10 years in the same place. I’m finding decluttering very therapeutic, each item I remove is like another little weight off my shoulders. To be honest I don’t know if I can really see a difference in my stash with all the items gone. I do have more room on my bookcases but my fabric stash is still packed to the brim, not overflowing but still heavily packed. I have learnt to distance myself or ignore thinking how much I have spent on my craft supplies over the years so there is no guilt attached to giving things away. After the swap I have seen photos of things people picked up and I smiled each time I spotted something that was once in my stash.
I’ve mentioned it a couple times but last month Beth from Sew DIY hosted a virtual “I Love My Fabric Party” on Instagram. Across the world people were invited to spend some time appreciating their fabrics. You could join in for as long or as little time as you wanted and what you did during the party was entirely up to you. You just posted photos on Instagram and shared along with others the experience of playing in your fabric stash and showing it some love.
For me it came at the perfect time. My dressmaking fabric had gotten a little out of control. I was running out of space for it. I knew I had fabrics I would never use so why was I keeping them? I have put myself on a self imposed fabric buying ban so it was a really good chance for me to sort my fabric in a way that I could easily find them and more importantly use them.
To keep track of what fabrics I had in my stash I decided to use a program called Trello. Trello is generally used in business as a management tool and I must admit when I looked it up to add the app on my mobile I thought ‘oh my god this is going to feel like work’ from my time doing project management but there are a few crafters out there using it to manage to their stashes and it is actually a great tool! If you want to read an example of how to use check of Helen’s blog post. At this point I haven’t gone into as much depth as Helen has but I have set it up so I have 2 boards Fabrics and Patterns. On my fabrics board I have several lists based on the fabric type. As I pulled out each fabric I measured it, snapped a photo on my mobile then uploaded it as a new card to my fabric board under whichever category with details such as length, perhaps where I brought it from, items I’ve made with it and potential pattern ideas. It sounds a lot of work for a lazy crafter like myself but it was quick and really simple to do. Best of all it didn’t feel like work!! I haven’t ventured into my patterns yet but I will.
Going through my stash I found it really easy to remove fabrics that I knew realistically I was never going to use. Perhaps my tastes have changed or the fabric had a feel that I just knew I’d never wear. I’ll take these to my next fabric swap with the Sydney Spoolettes. Full disclosure I may end up putting a couple of these fabrics back in my stash. Some fabrics I am rethinking that I could use them but that is only a couple.
I set up box for fabric scraps. The box contains mostly knit fabrics but it does have some wovens too. Smaller pieces that I can’t really make a skirt or top from but are perfect for project like undies (which I must really start making with the many patterns I have) As they were so small these pieces generally got pushed to the back as I tried to squeeze yet another fabric into my shelves. I wanted to access these fabrics easily plus it freed up space on my shelves. I have started using bits of my scraps. My infinity scarf came from finding a leftover piece of fabric and thinking how could I use this.
I sorted my shelves so all fabrics types were together. All my knits in one shelving unit, charity and gift making wovens on designated shelves, lightweight wovens on a shelf, heavy wovens another shelf. You should never compare your stash to another persons (size does not matter) but I felt like I had a lot. I actually have a little room on my shelves now which I didn’t have before.
I found the weekend very therapeutic going through my fabric. I had my music playing, a chair to sit on when I was uploading photos. If you love fabric you will understand how relaxing it is just touching it, looking at it, thinking about potential patterns I could make with it. Perhaps it sounds silly but reorganising my fabric made me feel like I actually had control over it. It was no longer falling from shelves when I opened the door or pulled back the covering I have. By seeing and knowing how much fabric I have I don’t feel like I am being deprived by my buying ban. I have all this wonderful fabric in my stash just waiting to be created into awesome me made clothing or in gifts.