May 2012 archive

Upcycling knits – Another pretty dress!


Do you ever buy an item of clothing and later wish that you had bought more of the exact same one? A few years ago I came across a singlet that was so soft and such a lovely shade of pink that I decided to get the same one in a nice dark grey.  Turns out I never really wore them in the end, maybe only once or twice.  But the knit fabric was so wonderfully soft that I knew I had to keep it in my upcycling stash.  Then I decided the other day that Little Miss definitely needed a winter dress and that I felt like sewing with knits so I went hunting through my stash and decided it was time to tackle the matching singlets.

I love Ottobre patterns so had a hunt through my back issues and selected a dress that I decided could be altered to be exactly what I was after.  The Mail Express Tunic from Ottobre 1/2012.  The instructions were easy to follow and the dress came together just as I hoped.

I really wanted a long sleeve, loose and comfortable winter dress that would serve as a tunic next year.  I didn’t have any clear elastic so went with a bit of shirring for the gathering which worked well.

The pattern called for clear elastic tape but two rows of shirring did the job.
Back of dress with gathering visible

Because I was upcycling two existing garments I decided some colour blocking was in order which I think works well.  I didn’t want to bother with binding and didn’t have any ribbing handy so I used a couple of strips of the darker fabric to finish my edges.

Look at those lovely finished edges on the neck :)

There is a great tutorial here if you want a similar finish.  I also found this fantastic tutorial on sewing with knits if you find the whole concept a bit daunting.  After reading the second tutorial I decided to put my project on hold over night and went out and invested in a double ballpoint needle.

I’m glad I did though, look at that lovely flat curved seam!

In addition to altering the pattern to long sleeves, I also dropped the hemline by about 6″, brought in the width and gave myself a headache by using the original hem of the tops.  I have this thing that when I’m upcycling I like to keep some of the original features.  It always makes it harder, but it feels more “upcycled” than “recycled”.  I’m not sure there is actually a difference though LOL

I don’t have any good photos despite two “photo sessions” so this will have to do, sorry!  I hope you like it as much as I do.  It is lovely and soft and is a great weight for our New Caledonian winter.

A productive week! Kind of…


We are at the end of the first week of the May school holidays.  I have been squeezing in a little sewing each afternoon during “quiet time” (read: Little Miss naps and the boys watch TV) and a little in the evenings.  I’m hoping to get a few gifts in the post tomorrow, but we’ll see.  I have finished this lovely little Mug Rug that is for a lovely lady. Ssshhh, don’t tell her, it’s a surprise!


I’m in a couple of swaps at the moment so I started a Pinterest “swaps/small gifts” board and I just couldn’t resist this wonderful mug rug that I spotted.  I was enjoying hand quilting but I didn’t want to fill the whole space.  I actually wanted a white background but a white mug rug seems completely impractical to me; it’ll have tea stains in two seconds!  Plus I just received a heap of black homespun from The Oz Material Girls, so I had some handy :)

My other finish for the week (so far!  I’m hoping to have a few more before the week is out) was the name plaque for my gorgeous nephew.  I gave you a sneak peak here and I still won’t reveal the whole thing as his Mummy pops in from time to time and I don’t want to completely spoil the surprise :)

It’s always nice to have a nice backside ;P

Another of my favourite little people turned two this week and I’m putting together a gorgeous pinafore for her.  The first time round it was a little short so I’ve made two :)  Just need to finish off the hems and sew on some buttons tonight.  I then have to figure out if to send the pinafore or the smock…  Both are too cute for words!  I’ll share the pattern source for these in another post, let’s just say that I love sewing from Ottobre :)


The postie made a delivery this week which was nice!  Well, two in fact.  The first was a book that I saw reviewed somewhere in blogland and had to have.

Nice Cover!

I’ve only had a skim read so far but this page is so pretty that I had to share.  I love learning about colour.

My second package from the postie is a little more mundane but I am equally as excited!

How comfy does that thimble look???  Sadly I forgot about it when I was hand-quilting yesterday, but I’ll try it out soon.  I’m also super excited to be sharpening some of my old blunt rotary blades that I’ve kept for using with paper.  Here’s hoping this little gadget actually works!  I like to think that I’m an experienced and knowledgeable sew-er.  I know that I still have a lot to learn ;)  Recently I learnt that there are machine quilting needles!  I always change needles depending on my fabric weight (and I use a lot of interfacing) but I was previously oblivious to machine quilting needles so now I have some to add to my collection.  How many needles does one need??

Has anyone else had any exciting mail this week?  Or been sewing gifts?  I’m getting a bit ambitious and considering making cards to go with the gifts I’ve made…  That might delay the post somewhat!

Work in Progress and my new addiction; free-motion quilting


I mentioned recently on Suburban Adventures that my lovely nephew visited us (he brought his parents too).  He just turned two and is moving in to his big boy room.  I’m a bad Aunty and his present is a little late, but it will be in next week’s post.  I LOVE it and just had to share a sneak peak with you :)  I just need to hand sew the binding and it will be done.

His new room has a blue and red airplane theme.  I have appliqued his name and some airplanes but I really wanted to free motion quilt a kind of wind or sky pattern.  I think I was having mad fantasies of Van Gogh’s Starry Night LOL

Anyway, one of the wonderful women from Quilt Club Australia pointed me toward The Free Motion Quilting Project where I found this gem.  It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but after watching her video I decided I would just jump in and give it a go :)  I am so pleased with the outcome!  I’ll share a photo of the whole thing once it has been received (my lovely sister-in-law pops in to my blogs sometimes and I don’t want to spoil the surprise!).

I must admit, I am completely addicted to free-motion quilting.  I want to stop doing everything else and just play with my fabric all day making squiggly patterns.  It is so easy to escape the world when you are expending all your concentration on a small area of fabric.  Plus, I hear you get better with practice and I definitely have room for improvement LOL

Anyone else completely addicted to free motion quilting?

Travel Sewing Kit


Designed to keep everything securely in place

I’m so excited about this travel sewing kit!!  I wish it was for me, but it is my contribution to a charity auction on The Oz Material Girls facebook page to raise funds for The Australian Cancer Council.  Mr Husband had a melanoma cut out of his back a couple of years ago and has a huge scar but lives to tell the tale.  It was a horrible time for us, waiting for results and then having to have a second biopsy and waiting for results again.  The final result was, “We found cancer cells, but so few that we technically can’t call it cancer.”  It was a bitter sweet relief, but it was relief nonetheless.  As you can imagine, this is a charity that I am very happy to support :)  The auction is on Thursday 24th May 2012 at 11am AEST and I’d love it if you could pop by :)  But enough promoting ;)

A zippered pocket for all your little items

I think I mentioned the other day that I fall in love with pretty much everything I make.  This project is no exception.  I used some lovely linen from my fast diminished stash purchased during my time in China.  The Japanese prints were bought last year and this is the first time I’ve been game to cut into them.  The Chinese prints are some favourites from Beijing and the others are quilting cottons  purchased for special projects for my kids.

Some gorgeous Japanese prints that I’m using for the first time

I asked some lovely ladies what they would like to see in a travel sewing kit and they gave me some fantastic suggestions!  Thank you ladies :)  The final kit measures 21″ x 10″ and the big pocket is big enough to store A4 papers folded in half.  The zippered pocket is designed to safely store little bits such as buttons, ribbons and those little rolls of DMC thread.  The reel holder does not accommodate reels with a narrow hole but this was a compromise I was willing to make to ensure that it stays securely in place with a velcro closure.  The tie the holds the whole kit closed is long enough to wrap around it twice with a few items inside, so you could get a decent sized project tucked in there and still tie it shut.

I was inspired by this wonderfully gorgeous bag by A Cuppa And A Catch Up that features liberty of london scraps.  I want, I need, I want!!!  I wrote to the creator to see if she was happy for me to use her raindrop design and got the sweetest reply.  Don’t you love it when crafty people just want to share the love?

I also saw this cute tutorial which gave me the idea for the cotton reel holder.

Source: Lots of Pink Here

I have a snap machine that I love and that needs more use, so I used it to add snaps to secure both the pin cushion and scissors.  I’m such a Mum, but the thought to the scissors falling out was too much to bare LOL

Even a snap to keep your pin cushion in place!

I’m definitely going to make some more of these.  I only made up the one prototype to make sure that I got the dimensions right.  It worked perfectly so I will make a couple more.  For a start, I definitely need one :)

Photo overkill I know, but I love a collage!

I’m a bit late to share it with TGIFF this week, so I’ll share it with them next week and I’ll definitely be linking up with Clover and Violet who are hosting a travel sewing kit link-up (thanks Fiona!) :)  At this point I’m going to subtly mention that I have submitted to the Zakka craze and am awaiting my copy of “Zakka Style”.  I am certain that I’ll make a couple of the cute little Zakka travel sewing kits!

A pin cushion in every colour of the rainbow


Last week we had some very special visitors here so I really didn’t get much sewing done.  Of course I then got run down and spent a couple of days thinking about sewing and recovering.  Today I’ve been back at my machine and really getting into the details :)

Funnily enough my machine pin cushion popped back up on a The Sewing Library facebook page yesterday.  I use it every time I sew and the only time I take it off is when machine quilting something big.  I blogged about it back in January when I made it.
I’m participating in a pin cushion swap through Clare’s Craftroom.  You can find her blog here and facebook page here.  Do you like the pin cushion I made for the swap?
Can you see the rainbow?  It is missing indigo, but that’s OK, it’s still pretty :)  I actually really enjoyed cutting out 1″ squares and I think I will revisit tiny patchwork in the near future.  Only the last square is a bit wonky, but nap time was ending and I really wanted to finish it…
I actually drew up 6 pin cushion designs and made two but will get around to the rest shortly :)  I did make a second pin cushion today for a special someone, don’t tell them, but this is for them…
I got a bit excited and took the photo before I sewed it shut…
What type of pin cushion do you use?  Did you make it yourself?  Do you have an all time favourite pin cushion?

Gorgeous cushions!


So I mentioned recently that I made a cushion that I love.  In case you didn’t see it here it is with my favourite girl admiring it <3  You can see the back of the quilt and cushion here.

A friend commented that the Dolly is a bit scary LOL  I love her as my Aunty made her for me :)  What I don’t love so much is that she made it about 20 years ago when I was a teenager.  I am starting to realise that I’m getting old…  This is the prelude panic to 40…  Six years of anxiety to look forward to LOL

What I have realised since posting about this cushion is that whilst I shared it as a work in progress, I never shared the finished cushion cover that I made for Little Miss back in March!  I love it and once Little Miss is out of her hammock I look forward to this cushion taking pride of place on her big girl bed :)

The fairy matches the wall decals that I bought for Little Miss and that the painter threw in the bin while I was on holidays.  Let’s just say that I’m still really cross about that one…  The fairy wings are actually made out of some sheets that belonged to my Nanny, I love using fabrics that have sentimental value.  I know my Nanny would love that her great granddaughter is has something of hers to cherish :)  The squares are all from favourite fabrics.  Yes, I have a lot of favourite fabrics and I save and use every single scrap!

You can see the details a little better in this collage.

Whilst progress has stalled on Mr 3.5′s quilt (we have visitors here so I’m playing host and enjoying Noumea from a tourist’s perspective), I am planning Mr 5.5′s quilt and matching cushions for their beds.  I have been inspired by a gorgeous Facebook page, Aisling Milis, that I found through Quilt Club Australia. Really pretty stuff!

And on that note, it is time for me to go to bed!  Surprisingly a late afternoon swim (including races in the water) did not tire out my 3 monkeys, I, however, am exhausted.  Must be old age ;)

Handmade Love


Am I the only person who falls in love with every single thing they make?  I have two items for sale in an online market night tonight and I am so proud of what I’ve made.  What do you think?

Perfect for a slumber party with your favourite dolly!

The theme of the market night is “Celebrate/Party” as it is part of the first birthday celebrations for The Sewing Library (TSL), an online Facebook group that is all about sewing.  I’ve mentioned TSL before and I really do enjoy being part of the group, if you sew I recommend you head on over, you can find TSL here on Facebook and their new blog here.

My second item for the market night is just as cute, perfect for baking birthday cakes :)

Who could resist cupcake potholders?

I’m not going to go all advertorial on you, but if you’re interested in these items or any of the other gorgeous handmade goodies on offer, head on over to The Sewing Library Noticeboard.  The market starts at 7pm AEST tonight, 2 May and all details are in the Market Album.