Thursday, 27 February 2014

What's in a name?

When I was a little girl, I had a lot of fun looking for items with my name on it.  Fortunately, I was lucky enough to be given a fairly popular name for a girl born in the '70's.   By my reckoning, my sister was not so lucky and we were never able to find stationery, books, clothing etc with her name on it however hard we looked.  She did share the same initials as a regional airline but it didn't survive and all of its labelled goodies - like the toy handbag she was given - disappeared too.

I have friends who I suspect will also have a little trouble finding named items for their children.  Maybe that isn't important to them but I can be pretty certain that at some point one of the kids will want their name on something.  Anything.  Big or Small.  Just their own thing with their special name.

So, when I saw the wonderful personalised name fabric designed by Shelley Aakjaer of ShelleyMade on Spoonflower I immediately thought of my friends' kids (and my unfortunate sister..…)

I ordered some for each small child and made them a pillowcase using the instructions for an envelope or "housewife pillowcase" that Shelley has on her own blog

fabric is Spoonflower Kona cotton

Each pillowcase has a contrasting trim near the top.  For the lilac pillowcase I used a white cotton, and for the blue pillowcase I used a blue dotted cotton fabric.

I particularly like the flaps on these pillowcases and they remind me of the sorts of pillowcases I would spend a small fortune on in a fancy boutique.  But, these are definitely one of a kind and, hopefully, a special little something for these kids!

spot the fabric scraps and thread on the floor!

I also bought a fat quarter of the blue name design in the Spoonflower organic cotton interlock knit fabric.  I used the Oliver + S field trip t-shirt pattern again and use the blue fabric for the front and back and a plain white knit fabric for the sleeves.



I used the flatlock stitch on my overlocker to sew the sleeves and body pieces together for a 'sporty' look

and used a triple needle coverstitch for the hem and sleeves

Although the Spoonflower organic cotton interlock knit has about 25% stretch along the crosswise grain, I think I should have cut the neckband a little longer than the pattern piece.  The stretch on the neckband has distorted the colour a little compared to the surrounding fabric and, unfortunately, I did not have enough remaining fabric to cut another neckband.  There is also a bit of show-through of the base fabric near the stitching line.

Nevertheless, I am really happy with how this sporty tee turned out and hopefully it will fit the birthday boy for quite some time.  I cut a size 2 because the t-shirts I made about a month ago will not last much longer for this growing lad!

A final little note about the personalized fabric.  One yard of Kona cotton fabric was enough to make a pillowcase.  I think the service and pricing that Shelley offers is very reasonable: she charges $10 for each individual allover design in the colour, size and style of your choosing.  I certainly cannot be bothered spending time designing something like this - and nor do I have the talent to do so! -  and am very happy to pay someone else for such a great looking product.   Plus, Shelley answered my emails the same day I sent them and within hours I was ordering fabric from Spoonflower!  I was so impressed I bought other designs….

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Two out of three ain't bad

I have a lot of fabric scraps.   I have been saving them for a rainy day…  which coincidentally was today when we had rain, hail and even a tornado!

I decided to tackle another Little Things to Sew project and was inspired by these quilted balls by Goke Keiko

featured in this book

I hunted through the bucket of selvedges that sits underneath my sewing table

and my handy assistant (sister N) grouped them into assorted colourways for my use.   I made two quilted balls - a red one and a blue one

I used the fancy stitches on my sewing machine and some variegated King Tut threads to make 6 little crazy patchwork wedges.

freezer paper template ironed to back of crazy patchwork material

I joined these together following the book instructions and then topstitched along the seam lines (again using fancy stitches on the sewing machine).  Once the balls were completed and stuffed, I hand-stitched a row of embroidery stitches along the final seam line.  Hand embroidery is not my forte but they are tidy enough.

I also attached two little circles of fabric over the junction where the wedges (supposedly) met.  Mine looked a little bulky and didn't line up perfectly so I covered them up!

Circle appliqué over the wedges' join - and hand stitched with variegated thread. The row of cross-stitching covers the seam joining the two hemispheres

And after I made these two balls I was forced to stop because, without a thimble, my delicate little fingers were being torn to shreds.  Anyway, I ask you, how many kids do you know who can juggle three balls?  So, following Meat Loaf's advice, I figured that two out of three ain't bad

Wednesday, 12 February 2014


A quick sew using leftover polar fleece

Little Things to Sew Mittens

transport themed polar fleece

I finished the raw edge with a scallop blade on my rotary cutter, and used a decorative ribbon for the elastic casing

Simple and fun to make.  I can see more of these in my sewing crystal ball, and even some lined ones à la  Froo & Boo

Monday, 10 February 2014

It's not a competition…

But if it was, I wouldn't be winning!

I refer again to Lightning McStitch's Cover to Cover Challenge…

On Thursday I found myself in Melbourne and, realising that I was separated from my sewing machine and unable to sew for two whole days, I thought I would create a small diversion for Lightning so that she could not get any further ahead.  We met for coffee and a little shopping and I quickly discovered that she was thinking of purchasing fabric for a bias-trimmed apron (item 14/20 for her!). As it happened, Lightning didn't know how much fabric was required so she left the shop-with-the-cute-fabric empty-handed.

When I arrived home I found my latest purchase(s) waiting for me: some laminated cotton from that I intended to use for my own version of the bias-trimmed apron. In typical fashion, I had bought far more fabric than I needed

Hmmm.. which to use (first)…

I had spied the ladybug fabric in a department store in Munich but decided that 35Euros seemed just a bit steep and I thought I could buy it for less from And it was cheaper but the postage nearly killed me!  However, the good folk from had rolled the fabric onto those cardboard tubes to stop the fabric getting wrinkles - which is more than what I would've done if I had purchased it in Munich.

I made the medium size

After my recent difficulties with ready-made poly-cotton bias binding, I made my own from a red and irregular black stripe

and I carefully used steam-a-seam to help stick the bias binding down before topstitching

Fortunately, I found some red snaps in the snap stash (although I need some remedial lessons in attaching snaps…)

And just to make sure I wasn't getting too far behind the leaders I decided to use another challenge pattern, the tutu

right side - 16" length 

wrong side

I bought most of the 108" wide tulle from although I had the yellow at home.  In fact, the yellow is part of a multicoloured tulle and the second layer starts as an apricot and blends to pink/mauve at the bottom edge.

yellow to pink/mauve multicolour, dusty pink, coral, light garnet, and wine tulle layers

It was a bit awkward cutting out the various layers but I was thankful for my long, height-adjustable tables!

Phew, can't see all of the clutter in the sewing room….

I already had the ribbon with pink and orange dots.  I thought it would be perfect for this tutu but now I think it looks a bit miserly because there wasn't enough ribbon to make a big bow.  Can I be bothered changing it?  Probably not, but I have enough leftover tulle to make another tutu so will get enough  grosgrain ribbon when I do so that there can be an enormous bow for that one!

No bow tutu.  Note the even, cut edge on the bottom!

Numbers 4 and 5 finished.

However, I'd like to suggest a no-children dispensation…. After all, what am I going to do with play town and a tea party doll dress???*

* I think the tutu looked quite good on me (although perhaps a little short for a woman in her forties), and my husband has a 'thing' for ladybugs.  I blame his mother: he confessed that his mother made him a much-loved dressing gown when he was about 6 which had ladybug buttons and, it seems, he is still emotionally attached to those buttons and ladybugs…) 

Saturday, 1 February 2014

3 down, 17 to go

I used another pattern from Little Things to Sew to bump up my count in Lightning McStitch's Cover to Cover challenge

Bartacks and Singletrack : want to go all the way with me?

These are the messy kid bibs

Two messy kids bibs but only one with messy binding

I made the one with the giant pea on the front first.  Having learnt a new skill last week - the highly technical process of printing an image onto transfer paper and then ironing that image onto fabric - I wanted to do it again (and again, again and again.  Let's be honest, given half a chance I would probably put transfer paper images on everything I could find right now…. just like when we were kids, one of my brothers would write his full name anywhere he found a blank space.  Never mind if he didn't actually own the things he wrote on).

I spent hours searching the Internet for a suitable vegetable image and eventually found the pea on Clipart ETC.  I was also going to print out some lettering saying "eat your veges" but then realised there could be an awkward "You-say-tomato,-I-say-tomahto" moment i.e. veges or veggies?  Anyway, my husband called the whole thing off and I was left with just the pea

I used purchased bias binding and almost tossed - or composted - the bib before I had finished because I didn't like how the binding was sitting.  I persevered, figuring that someone might find the bib useful even it isn't perfect.

Of course, I had to have another go at this pattern and do a better job.   Today I made the second bib using some J Wecker-Frisch Patches & Rhymes fabric I had left over from a quilt I made for my friends' first child.  He is now eight!

This time, I didn't cut out the pocket and I made self-fabric binding.  I applied the binding differently to the instructions: sewing it first to the front, folding it to the back and then stitching it down.  I cheated a little by using fabric glue to stick the binding to the back.  I felt like a naughty contestant on Project Runway and kept hearing Michael Kors and Nina Garcia castigating me for using unconventional sewing techniques!

back of bib glued down before stitching 

I stitched-in-the-ditch on the front catching the binding on the back.

This worked a treat and I will do my binding this way next time.  It looks so neat and there are no wrinkles!

Despite the problems with the binding I really enjoyed making these bibs.  Half the fun was in applying the iron-on vinyl.   Who would have thought that something so simple could make me happy?  That and transfer paper could keep me amused for hours.  In fact, I almost started on the bento box carrier today because I had an idea for embellishing the lining that combined both of these… And then I thought I could make the most elaborate play town and puppet theatre…

So, I've ticked off my third pattern from the book.  I made the first bucket hats in 2012, and the back pack last year which means that at the rate I am going I reckon I could get this challenge sorted in another 17 years.  This turtle probably needs to go a bit faster if it wants to be in with half a chance.  However,  I could always do a Bradbury