Blue Velvet Pinafore

Back in June when I went to use the voucher from the Fabric Store I won at Frocktails in February the second I walk into the shop a bolt of blue velvet jumped out at me. I am a Bower bird so I am attracted to any blue really but to be honest this is my shade of blue is my favourite. I used to love the song “Electric Blue” by Ice House when I was a kid, it is still a great song. The fabric just screamed York Pinafore.

If you haven’t read my blog before this is now Pinafore number 4. I decided to do the pockets different this time. To recap the pattern the York comes with a couple of options that you can make in full or mix and match to create the Pinafore for you.
Version A – Longer length, scooped neck, rounded pockets
Version B – Shorter length, higher neck, kangaroo pocket

On previous versions I’ve made version B but at the length of A. This time I made version A but with the neckline of B. There is nothing wrong with the kangaroo pocket and trust me I use it a lot in my others but in this fabric I thought it needed rounded pockets. I also took down the higher neckline down by about an inch.

This was a slow make taking me about a month from when I first ironed the fabric to when I finished it. I didn’t mind because I was enjoying making it. Doing little steps here and there when I had the chance like make the pockets, make the binding, sew a seam made me realise I don’t need to sew an entire garment in a week to actually finish something. I can do little steps here and there and come out with a finished project without being mentally or physically exhausted from making it which can happen with me. I am not the type of sewer who can spend 12 hours in a day making something from scratch and finishing it. My disability places limitations on my body so I have to be aware of my limits so that my body doesn’t punish me afterwards for doing something I love to do.

Modifications To The Original Pattern

  • Made the pockets patch pockets instead of sewing the sides of the pockets into the side seam line
  • Fully lined the pockets to be more sturdy
  • Deepened the higher neckline by 1″
  • Made continuous bias binding for all raw edge

I love the finished dress. Towards the end when I was top stitching down the binding I thought this could be my Spring Frocktails dress. I won the voucher at the last Frocktails why not wear something I brought with it to this Frocktails next month. It was never my intention when I brought the fabric but a blue velvet dress is pretty fancy for Frocktails, well as fancy as I go anyway.




Voucher Shopping Trip

Earlier this year at Frocktails I was lucky enough to win a $150 voucher to The Fabric Store. I’ve mentioned The Fabric Store a few times. It is a shop that has stores around the world including 3 in Australia. I’ve been to the Sydney store a few time and went to the Melbourne store on my holiday earlier this year.

I had 2 vouchers to use, the one that I won plus a 20% discount voucher which came as part of our Frocktails goodies bag that I had to use separately. I had to use both of them by the end of this month. I’d been saving them as a little reward after doing some extra stuff at work this year which was a bit stressful. Last Saturday I decided it was time to go shopping. Now to be honest I actually freaked out the morning before I left home. I had this awesome voucher and I didn’t want to waste it but I didn’t know what I wanted to buy. I’m fussy with fabrics, I generally only wear cottons, I don’t wear fancy stuff, I don’t like the feel of certain fabrics. I was going to this big fancy store which had some many wonderful fabrics but I didn’t even know if I would find fabrics I liked. Face it I basically live in cotton jersey knits. Some of the fabrics in the shop are what I consider pricey so it was a chance to buy fabric that wasn’t in my normal price range but I didn’t know what. It hasn’t helped that I have been in a real sewing funk of lately. Fabric shopping for me can either be really fun and relaxing or stressful, this awesome opportunity was freaking me out. Earlier in the week I had gone through my patterns, sewing books and mags and found a couple of items that I would like to make so took some them with me as inspiration to find fabric.

Even though I had no idea what I would buy I took a long a medium size suitcase to carry it home in. I knew I would be getting a few pieces of fabric and I normally buy things in at least 2m lengths so no matter what I got it was going to be tough carrying it home on the train with one arm because as I’ve mentioned before I use a crutch to walk with. When you have a disability you need to take into consideration small things like how will I carry things when you go shopping. Good job I did take this size suitcase as I filled it.

Ok so lets get to the actual shopping. I put my bag behind the counter then did a walk around the shop to see what they had.

The first thing fabric that I came across was some blue velvet. It was blue, it was pretty, it felt nice. I instantly thought York Pinafore. In my stash I actually have some pink velvet I picked up at a fabric swap which I was thinking of making a York from if I could squeeze out the pattern from it. I knew I needed a blue York. I can’t wait to make it now.

A couple of weeks ago I talked about a sewing mag I picked up. One of the reasons I got it was it had a self drafted poncho pattern in it. The fabric used is a scuba or some soft of synthetic knit that had drape to it. I came across a double knit which was actually on special at I think $10/m I liked the pattern of it. I’m hoping it won’t make me look like a giant blue brick wall. It came in another colourway but I didn’t like it as much as this colour. Because I will be wearing this over a jumper or long sleeve t-shirt I think I can get away with wearing it even though it is synthetic. For winter it will be something different to wear. This fabric was actually stuck in the washing machine to prep the fabric the day I got home. Hopefully I can start making it very soon.

Once I got the above 2 fabrics I still had an amount left of the voucher… Time to look at Liberty fabrics. The Fabric Store is known for its range of Liberty fabrics which are on the pricey side but on the day I went they happened to be 30% off. I was hoping to get some of their knits or loop backed prints but all the colours they had were pinks or light colours. Some Liberty fabrics are really girly in pinks and pastels but they do have bold prints, unfortunately not so much when I went. I did find 2 lots of blue roses, one was in a swim knit which was a white background with traditional roses and stems but this fabric was more my style. It is a cotton but it isn’t too fine. I’m gong to make some sort of skirt with it. I got 2m so will see if I can get some sort of circle skirt or elastic waisted skirt. You shouldn’t be able to see through it.

One pattern I did take with me is McCall’s M7100 which is a jacket pattern. I’ve had the pattern in my stash for a while. Thinking about it the pattern is very similar to a ready to wear jacket I’ve had for a bout 14 years. I want to make version D of it which is just plain with a kangaroo style pocket.

Using my discount voucher I found some loop backed stretch velvet type fabric. It looked perfect for an unlined jacket. I got 2.4m which is what the pattern calls for. I will see if I have enough fabric to not have to worry about making cuffs for the arms or bottom band but if I do I will use black cotton jersey for that section as I am not a big fan of ribbing.

I did have fun using my vouchers but it was kind of mentally exhausting. Shopping to a budget is a little difficult but I had an amazing opportunity to buy fabrics that weren’t in my normal price range and importantly get fabric I know I am going to use. I’ve changed my shopping habits to no longer just buy things fabrics or yarn for my stash. I have to get my overlocker serviced (on the plans for this week) then I can start getting back into garment sewing. My poncho I should be able to do on my regular machine as the fabric won’t fray.


Peak T-Shirt Dress

This dress is another pattern from A Beginner’s Guide To Sewing Knitted Fabrics, it is a variation of the basic Peak T-Shirt and is the pattern used on the front cover of the book.

When I was sewing my way through this book this dress was one of the pattern variations I thought I would like to try at some point, it looked comfortable and face it who doesn’t want to wear a t-shirt disguised as a dress.

For a couple of weeks I kept going on Zebra Fabrics website to look at this one geometric circle print in their remnant section which from memory was around 1m in length (give or take 20cm) I really liked this fabric but had no idea what I would make with it as it was a smallish piece, I could squeeze out a tank top but my fear was bad pattern placement and I would end up with giant circles on the centre of my boobs (that could be embarrassing) One day brainwave I thought outside the circle (or in this case the geometric circle) I could team it up with other fabric and make a t-shirt dress.

The fabric is a lycra cotton knit, from Ruby Jam Fabrics I brought some black lycra cotton knit which is roughly the same weight (plus I wanted to try out their black lycra) My initial thought was to only use the remnant in the skirt portion of the dress but thinking about how much fabric there was I decided to use it on the sleeves and collar first then use the remainder in the skirt adding extra length with the black fabric if needed.

Looking at my list to consider when clothing making

  • Comfort √
  • Classic √
  • Creative / Quirky √
  • Natural Fibres √

This dress is ticking the list 100% The cotton lycra knit fabrics means it is very breathable and comfortable. Style wise it is a simple no fuss dress but using the geometric fabric in the creative way I have has just changed it around it a little adding a bit of interest. I really thought about the construction of this dress and I had never really done that before with clothing.

I opted not to put elastic around the waist to pull it in as I thought the elastic might annoy me a bit. Admittedly it does make it look a bit baggy as is, perhaps I should’ve graded down in the skirt portion to make it a little slimmer. I’m not actually too bothered by this as I have been wearing a jacket or jumper over the top which pulls the fabric in anyway. I’m toying with the idea of adding belt loops and making a simple belt or even stitching the side seams a little even though I have already worn this a heap of times. The neckline is a bit baggy at the back, I really think I need to start doing the rounded back adjustment but I’m actually trying to correct my rounded shoulders by exercise at the same time. When you have a jumper or jacket on you can’t tell anyway that the neckline is baggy.

I love this dress, it has turned out the exact way I planned it out in my head. The remnant piece was destined for this dress, for me there is no other better way I could’ve used it. I also got to try out another pattern from A Beginner’s Guide To Sewing Knitted Fabrics (I really do love that book) This pattern I would make again, it was really easy to do and as mentioned I have worn it heaps which is always a good sign.


Blue Painted Scarf


I had never painted on any synthetic fabric with liquid radiance but you can put liquid radiance on to any fabric so I knew that it was possible so I had a play. I cut a strip of white organza about 6″ x width of fabric. I soaked it in water a little bit longer than I did the calico to ensure it was fully soaked.


To paint it I scrunched it up on a board and put drops of blue, cyan and the odd drop of teal paint. Because the fabric is so thin I didn’t use much paint remembering the golden rule with liquid radiance “where there is moisture there is movement” I knew the paint would spread on the wet fabric. I did roll the fabric around a little to help the spreading process. After I was happy with the paint distribution I scrunched it back into a heap and sprinkled it with Epsom salts. To heat set it I ironed it between 2 pieces of calico using a hot iron. The calico protected it from melting so I didn’t have any issues there.


I love the pattern that salt crystals have formed. As always you can’t predict what patterns will occur. These have a very fluid almost like water current pattern. It looks so natural. Some areas are darker than others. This has to be my most favourite piece of salting I’ve ever done on.


On the edges I did a double roll hem using monopoly clear thread. It is a simple row of stitching down each side of the scarf. This was an experiment that worked really well. I loved the brightness of the aqua colour that it had when it was wet but I think I love the colour it has turned when it dried even more. I can wear this around my neck or my wrist with some many different outfits.


Christmas Prep – Hand Painted Fabric

For a special touch to some gifts I’m making this Christmas I thought I would use some hand painted fabric in them. One of the best things I did this year was discover Liquid Radiance so why not incorporate it into this years gifts.


Not giving too much away as to what I am making but each item will contain a zipper. I tried to paint the fabrics so that it would match back to the zipper colour I’ll be using.


The ones to match the orange zippers are a little light but they still do look orange and not yellow. The bottle of orange I have mixed up is very pale so I added extra red and yellow as I was painting the fabric then blended it in. I salted all the fabrics with episom salts. The salt markings are very obvious on these.


The purples turned out really well. From memory I think I added a bit of few drops of the pink to the fabric as I was painting it as well as some red I think. Once again the salt markings are very striking on these.


On the pinks I used mostly pinks with a touch of red and yellow. On the pinks the salt markings weren’t so obvious which just proves how random salting is. You can’t fully control how the salt will react and the patterns it will form.


On one of the pieces I’ll admit that perhaps I added too much red and yellow to the mix and it turned more orange. This isn’t too bad at least I know now to add a dash of pink to my orange mix next time to make it more deeper. The photo doesn’t really show it but there are strong patches of pink in it. Alternatively the reverse side of the fabric is a lighter shade of pink so I could use that as my right side. There are no rules so you use what ever side you want.

Because I hadn’t painted fabric in a few months I had forgotten how fun and quick it is. I only did 2 pieces at time and left them to dry overnight as I was limited to space but I could’ve easily done them all in one hit had I taken over the entire space of my spare room. Each piece started out as piece unbleached calico and is now a unique one of a kind piece of fabric. So easy.


Liquid Radiance Dry Fabric

LR Sun Printing

Last weekend I played around colouring my fabrics with liquid radiance paints and leaving them to dry all week. On Friday we had a sunny day so I was able to try heliography or sun printing on some fabric. I painted up the fabric with my colours. On the small piece I used the same grid I used last weekend this time on a purple. On the larger piece I placed foil stars all over the fabric after I coloured it. I placed the board out in the sun for a couple of hours to dry.

LR Pole Fabric Dry

All week I had been watching my pieces dry. The piece I had on the pole I took out of the external pipe after a few days as I realised it just wasn’t going to dry in there. It was good that I had it in there for the first day or so as some excess colour did seep onto the plastic I had it standing on. It was the size of the larger pipe so I don’t even know how that happened. I was so happy when I unwrapped it from the pole. I love the swirl pattern that the twine made. The darker colour was the external layer that was exposed to the air. The experiment worked.

LR Scrunchies Dry 1

This is one of my scrunchies. I think it was the one that had more purple in it. The print is like shades of glass crystals. When you get up close to it you can see even more.

LR Scrunchies Dry 2

This one I added teal too when I painted it. Again you see the slivers of colour on it. You don’t get the full impact of these scrunchies until you iron them. When I first opened the pattern was there but looked messy. Once you iron it you can see all the details. Some areas are really obvious some are just subtle.

LR Pleats Dry

When this pleated piece was drying you could really see the colour change. At first it was light but as it dried the outer layer that I could see became dark. The top of this was the layer I could see. The colours are great I like how there are strips but they aren’t uniform in size or colour. Some lines are thick some lines are thin. Where the fabric is creased you can get a change in colour you didn’t know had happened. I was hoping for streaky and I got streaky.

LR Pink Epsom Salt Dry

The salted pieces I did were very dramatic to watch. At first they weren’t doing a lot but then they really started to dry and you could see the patterns develop. This is the pink piece that has some orange in it. You can’t see the orange colour at all. I wasn’t expecting it to go this dark colour but I really like it. The Epsom salts created little pattern waves on the fabric.

LR Puprle Epsom Salts Dry

The purple piece is even more dramatic in the patterns. You can see more of the orange in this one. I like the pattern that Epsom salts randomly formed. When you salt fabric you can not guarantee what it will look like. At the workshops I did I’ll admit I wasn’t a big fan of salting the fabric but I really like it. You can’t control it so its is kind of fun.

LR Mop Up Rock Salt Dry

This was the mop up piece I did with rock salt. Again it was doing nothing as it was drying then it all started happening. The patterns are more subtle with rock salt as the crystals are larger. It adds texture and pattern to the fabric. You can’t tell this was my scrap piece as it looks just as good as the other fabrics.

LR Grids Dry

The pink grid was the one I wasn’t sure if it would work however it worked fantastically. My original plan was to do the purple one inside too but I took advantage of the sunshine and did it outside. It was a good experiment to see how the same item worked with heliography and air exclusion. Both look brilliant. When you dry things in the sun they are brighter as they dry quicker so the colour is more intense however I can’t see much difference between the two.

LR Sun Printing Dry

My star piece which I dried in the sun turned out good. Not all the stars showed colour so I think next time I need to push them onto my fabric more. I left this in the sun for nearly 4 hours when really it only needed 2-3. In the end I had a bird lay down on it as wild birds are always on my table but by that stage it was dry so no harm done to the bird or my fabric 🙂 I can only image the fabric was nice and warm from the sun so he thought it was a nice resting point. The paints are non toxic so he would’ve been ok anyway I was worried he might have star stuck to his belly but he was fine.

I had fun experimenting with the different techniques. I think I haven’t watered my colours down enough so that is why I’m seeing big chunks of pinks and purples when I placed them onto the fabric. I’ll just add more water to the bottles they are in to dilute them more. It has given me some ideas on how I want to colour the pieces for the bag I wish to make. I’ll have to write all my ideas down so I can make a plan and start work on it. I have plenty of fabric now to make my tea set. I’ll have to cut out all my interfacings and see how they will fit onto the fabric I have.




Liquid Radiance Play

This morning was really the first time I’ve had a chance to play with my Liquid Radiance paints at home. I did colour a few bits of fabric very basically after the workshops but didn’t use them for the project I had in mind and I have used the Lustre paints but I haven’t really played with the different techniques.

LR Pole Fabric

My aim this morning was to paint all the fabric for the tea set I’m making. I mostly worked with pinks and purples as all little girls want everything pink and purple. The first thing I tried was painting up a long piece of fabric in basic strips.

LR Pole Tie

I then wrapped it around some narrow pvc piping and tied it with sisal twine. I’ve decided I don’t like sisal twine it sheds everywhere, never mind it seemed to do the job.

LR Pole Drying

To dry it I have placed it inside a large pvc pipe so that it can stand up right all be at an angle. I’m going to leave it for a number of days and it should dry. I’m hoping to get different patterns on the fabric from the twine but also from the different layers as it was wrapped around the pipe.

LR Scrunchies

The second thing I did was a couple of scrunchies. I painted my first one with pinks and purples and squeezed the excess out (remembering excess is the enemy when working with Liquid Radiance) I used my second scrunchie to mop up the excess and then added additional paint to colour it. Once I finished each piece I scrunched it up or “tickled it” so it was a smaller piece. I’m hoping to get a crystal type pattern on the fabric from this technique.

LR Pleats

The third thing I tried was pleating the fabric once I’d painted it. One of the scrunchies I’d added in some teal to the mix so on this piece I used teal and pink so it would tie in with the other pieces. I folded the fabric so it ended up being a narrow piece. My pleats are uneven but I don’t care I’m hoping for a streaky line finish to this fabric

LR Pink Epsom Salt

The fourth thing I tried was working with Epsom salts. I coloured a mostly pink piece of fabric with a little light orange thrown in too then added Epsom salts.

LR Puprle Epsom Salts

I did the same thing with a purple and orange piece. The salt draws the paint to it and you get random patterns from it. The larger the salt the more dramatic the pattern. I’ve never used Epsom salts before so I don’t know what the pattern will look like or even if I have used enough of the salt to create patterns.

LR Air Exclusion Test Pink Square

The firth thing I tried and I’m not entirely sure this will work but I painted a small square of fabric and placed an item with holes in it over the top. I’m hoping this will work as the air exclusion technique with the pattern forming on the fabric but I don’t know if my plastic piece is heave enough. If I did this on a sunny day I know it would work via heliography but it can’t hurt to try. I found this piece of plastic when I was cleaning out my kitchen cupboards and knew I would be able to use it somehow.

LR Mop Up Rock Salt

Throughout painting the different fabrics I was blotting out the excess with mostly one main piece of fabric. I did have a second piece which has a tiny tinge of colour to it which I’m going to use again. After I’d finished the main piece of fabric I’d used was fully of nice purplely pink colour. I’m hoping to use this mop up piece in my project as it looks like a good piece of fabric and its in the tones of all the pieces I created. I decided to rock salt it. Rock salt crystals are much larger then Epsom and I thought it would give me a chance to see the differences.

LR Drying

At the moment my spare room is my drying zone. I will let all the pieces dry in here. They shouldn’t take long to dry so maybe by tomorrow afternoon or Monday they should all be ok. The scrunchies, pleated and pole will take longer as the fabric isn’t flat. Either way they should be ready by next weekend when I want to start my project.

To be honest I had kind of being making excuses not to get in and play around with my paints as I wasn’t sure what I was going to do or how things would turn out. Once I got in and started playing it was easy. Now to wait until they all dry 🙂 Oh by the way sorry if some of the pics are a little grainy my camera sometimes doesn’t play nicely when the flash isn’t on