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.


Nylon Tote Bag – Prototype

For a long time now I have wanted to make a reusable bag made from nylon and recently I did using a self drafted pattern.

I won’t go into the issues that plastics bags have on the environment as we are all know this. I will not be hypocritical I’m guilty of using plastic bags but where at all possible I try not to use them preferring to use my own bag/s. The reason for wanting a nylon tote bag in particular is confession I buy takeaway sometimes and I wanted a lightweight bag that was kind of waterproof that I could use instead of the plastic bags I normally get given for carrying my takeaways home. We all know takeaway containers sometimes leak or there is sometimes grease on the outside of them so I didn’t want a cotton bag that would easily stain I wanted a fabric that was a bit more robust and easy care. Earlier this year in a fabric swap I picked up some nylon so it was a good way to  try out my idea without having to spend money on fabric (save money wherever you can)

I had a rough idea of the base measurements I needed for the bag, on previous takeaways I had mentally measured the size of the container (on one occasion I think I held a tape measure of it) Once I decided on my base measurement square I just worked out the height of the rectangles for each side. I added ½” seam allowance to each side on all my pieces and cut out all my fabric. The bag is double thickness so made of 2 bags then stitched together. I’m sorry I am totally unorganised and have misplaced the actual measurements for all my pieces… I’m not good at this blogging thing am I 🙂

For the handles I cut them from some leftover side rectangle fabric, from memory they are about 16″ long. I made them in the usual fashion of folding them quarter folds and top stitching them closed before attaching them to the bag. When I was originally cutting the fabric I thought I could get it entirely out of the pink fabric so I cut my pieces double thickness. When I discovered I wasn’t going to have enough and would have to use both fabrics instead of cutting a base out of the khaki fabric I used the second pink one I had. It adds a pop of colour to the bag. To add strength to the base of each bag I did use a triple stitch when attaching all my pieces to each one, this gave it that bit of reinforcement. For the sides I just used a regular straight stitch.

I am really pleased with how this bag turned out. As you can see I have road tested it and it holds the takeway containers well. I thought I had made this maybe a fraction too big but it actually turned out better to make it larger as it was easy for the vendor to put the food in easier as they weren’t struggling to get the containers to sit flat in the bottom of the bag. They were happy that I had my own bag to use.  This actually seems to be my go to bag at the moment since I finished making it a few weeks ago. I have used it shopping, to take Christmas gifts to the post office that would otherwise be awkward to carry. I have brought nylon now and I will make this bag again in this size but I may also make it from cotton as it is great size. It is big enough to hold everything but not too big.





Project Bag – Denim Hearts

In my last post I talked about fabrics that I thought might be a skirt but I know won’t, the denim fabric used on this project bag falls within the same category. I picked the piece up at a charity shop last year. It measured about 50cm wide x length of fabric, I wanted to make a skirt from it but there was no way I could unless I added other fabric to it. When I was rearranging my storage area and culling fabric I came across it. I couldn’t let it ago so I decided to make a bag from it.

The pattern I used was Essential Wristlet by Dog Under My Desk. I have made this pattern a lot now. I used the enlarged size that I made my rose bag and toiletry bag with. It is a nice size and holds a lot. Because of the thickness of the denim I didn’t use any lining in this bag. It does have a few dimples but for the most part there is enough structure in the denim for it to hold its shape.

On the inside I used some leftover fabric I again found in my stash. I used this fabric on the binding on my first ever blanket. As well as liking hearts I am a big fan of stars so I really like the combination of this bag having both. It is a stiffer quilting cotton so again works well to hold its shape. This fabric does soften a lot once it repeatedly washed and used but in a project bag you are not going to wash it a great deal. I added a simple little pocket that wasn’t lined or interfaced. The purpose of the pocket is so you have an easy place to stick a crochet hook or row counter, small notions you don’t want to lose in the bottom of your bag or get caught on things.

Within minutes of this bag coming off my sewing machine I was already using it. I am delighted that I have used the random piece of heart fabric that I came across in a practical way. No more sitting in my stash it now holds my little projects with a purpose.


Blue Buttons Drawstring Bag

Last weekend I talked about how I have lost my sewjo and maybe what I needed was to spend some time at my sewing machine working on something simple, well that’s exactly what I did.

There was so many projects I thought of doing but I ended up making a drawstring bag. Drawstring bags are very practical for me as I can always use them. In my stash I found some fabric already washed and ready to go. Earlier this year I brought what was remaining on the bolt of this button print fabric. I had no idea what I would do with it but I knew it would get used somehow. The bag is a little longer than originally planned as when I was cutting it out I forgot to trim the length down that’s ok because it still very usable.

The bag is fully lined in the same fabric as are the casings and drawstrings. The casings and drawstrings were very easy to make. For the cases I folded the raw edges in 1/4″ and slip stitched them closed by hand. I attached them to the bag with a triple stitch to add strength. To make the drawstrings I folded the raw edges into the center to enclosed them and top stitched together.

I am going to use this as a project bag for my knitting. It will easily fit a couple of balls of yarn, needles and a project in there. I can see myself making a lot more drawstring bags for knitting on the go bags in the future. I think I mentioned it before but I use a canadian crutch (forearm crutch) to walk with, when I am knitting out and about I often hang my project bag off it or if I have a backpack on I hang my project bag via a clip I have. Drawstring bags are perfect for this. Next time however I don’t think I will make fabric drawstring instead I will just use ribbon. Also I may not bother lining the bags instead just doing the seams on the overlocker. These two changes will make the bags lighter.

I actually feel like sewing again so I think my sewjo is back!



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!




Polka Dot Pup

Polka Dot Pup is based on Madame Sausage by Ric Rac. I have had this pattern in my stash for a number of years but never got around to making it.

I say Polka Dot Pup is based on the pattern as I haven’t done it exactly like the pattern. The pattern has little Miss wearing clothing, I used polka dot fabric I found in my stash instead to create interest, had I just chosen a plain fabric I think she would still looked ok. This polka dot fabric I was finding hard to use in any project so it was good to use it in this. Sadly little Miss sat in pieces for weeks (or maybe a month or two) before I recently had a deadline and finished her. It didn’t take long to stuff her and attach her arms. I think she is rather cute looking.

Did I learn anything from this project? Yes don’t put off doing the finishing a project. Had I not put her aside once she was assembled I could have had her finished in no time. I suddenly put myself in time pressure to finish things for a deadline when I didn’t need to had I finished them in the first place. Sometimes I have the attention span of a fruit fly and jump from one project to the next but that sometimes (ok often) means I don’t get projects finished. I think I need to stop and refocus and finish things to the end so I get them completed and off my to craft list.