Thursday, April 29, 2010

WA Fabric Spree

While over here in Perth I thought I’d spend some time at the local fabric stores looking for some more fabric for my genome quilt.

The first store I visited was Homespun Workshops in Willagee. Early in the day but by far the most successful of the trip. It's actually pretty near to my parent's house so I suspect I will be visiting there again in the future. They had a lovely selection of fabrics, very diverse and all very beautiful, the store was a pleasure to browse and the staff very friendly and helpful.

I ended up getting these five fabrics. On the left is a white-on-white fabric with a sort of dotted cross pattern on it that hasn't come up that well in this photo but is more clear in the photo at the bottom of this post. Also some green to bulk up that end of the spectrum, some gorgeous teal with white spots, some navy and white spots and some blue/navy with a kind of tree pattern on it.

Down the Leach Highway and up the Stirling highway, the next store I visited was Calico & Ivy in Mosman Park. Another beautiful store with a great range. They had a very impressive range of liberty fabrics and also a very extensive plain fabric selection.

I ended up getting a white with pale greyish blue spots, a white on cream this time with a text design, and a plain teal/green.

The next store on my trip was Materialise in Nedlands. A small shop but they've definitely made the most of the space they have. Sadly they didn't have anything that suited my very specific requirements (well they did, but I already had it!) so I left empty handed.

After a slight detour because I missed a turning next I arrived at Hot Possum in Wembley. They had an absolutely amazing selection of fabrics, all very modern and very brightly coloured. If I was simply filling my stash I could spend FAR too much money in there! Sadly for me, but luckily for my bank balance, I'm being very strict with myself and only buying fabric for the genome quilt. Hot Possum also had notably friendly and helpful staff.

I bought the following four fabrics at Hot Possum. Two more white on whites with different designs and two teal based ones. I'm very happy with the one on the right in particular as it has a larger print than most of the other fabrics I've bought so will hopefully break up the small prints a bit.

After a quick break for lunch the next store on my adventure was Bassendean Fabric and Craft in Bassendean, which while it had a pretty extensive selection didn't have anything that particularly caught my eye so I left that store empty handed too.

After getting thoroughly lost a couple of times the last shop on my trip was Kraft Daze Sewing World in Maddington which had a modest but good selection of fabrics and I ended up buying this beautiful grey on white fabric.

Quite a successful day I'd say; 6 fabric stores & 13 new pieces of fabric.

Here's what all the fabric I have for the quilt looks like now:

I have 17 darks and 14 whites, getting closer to what I need. There are also a few of solids I have seen that I will get at some point (including Kaffe Fassett shot cottons in Aegean and Viridan, gorgeous!!).

When I last discussed this quilt I hadn't decided what size blocks to do but have since bitten the bullet and decided to go for 3" blocks. Andi brought up a very good point in her comment however, how am I going to quilt it? I currently have no idea, either on the quilting design or the colour thread to use... any suggestions?

(all photos in this post are clickable to see them larger)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Flashback Friday #3 : Embroidered Blue Flowers

Blue Gingham Flowers, made Sept 2005

I had some scraps of blue gingham left from another project, so decided to make it into a cushion cover. I embroidered the flowers on to add some interest.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Heading West...!

Things will probably be a little quieter around here for a while, as tonight I'm heading west. Thankfully there is no volcanic ash in the air around here affecting my travel plans, and this evening I'm flying to Perth for 10 days to stay with my parents, for a change of scenery and to start writing my thesis. Oh, and I'm going to meet the lovely ladies at the Perth BSC!

Wish me luck and see you soon!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Flashback Friday #2 : Australian Flag Dress

When I was at uni I went to a lot of fancy dress parties, which in turn required a lot of fancy dress costumes. One such party had the theme "countries", so I chose Australia.

Australian Flag Dress, made ~Nov 2005

I had an Australian flag, which I made into a very simple dress... It turned out shorter than I anticipated as I was limited by the width of the flag, If I were to do it again I'd probably use two flags and make a long dress.

Incase you were wondering, the party was lots of fun!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Last night I cut out the wool for my Hikaru Jacket... and discovered I shouldn't have been lazy and should have cut the two layers separately. Not because of any (yet undiscovered) inaccuracies between the two layers, but because the two layers is bloody thick!! Both me and my scissors are now feeling a little worse for wear! My thumb is bruised (and at one point last night didn't have any feeling), and my scissors were squeaking while I was cutting, which has never happened before.I tried them on some calico and they seem fine, but I will be taking them into get sharpened as soon as I have some free time...

Which leads me onto this question; does anyone have any recommendations of where to get my scissors sharpened in Melbourne? (Preferably in or near the city)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


As I mentioned I would in my last post on the topic, I needed to do some research on pre-treating/shrinking the fabric I bought for Hikaru fabric.

The lining fabric is easy, I've hand washed that with the silk wash I bought at Tessuti.

Onto the wool... I have been informed by one of the ladies who works at The Fabric Store that the fabric I bought is "boiled wool". So, armed with this information I Googled... and I Googled... and I Googled.... (written three times because I know that Google don't like you verb-alising their name and I'm a rebel like that!) and Google failed me! I could find heaps of information on making boiled wool, and lots on pre-shrinking other wool fabrics (summarised beautifully here or here) but nothing on boiled wool.

So, I went back to the store and asked their advice, and I was assured that I didn't need to pre-shrink the wool, I just needed to dry clean it once it was finished... sceptical of this advice and still not convinced that my jacket wouldn't shrink the first time I get caught in the rain (much like an umbrella I once had) I went to the Library.

I got out "More Fabric Savvy" by Sandra Betzina, which confirms that pre-shrinking is not necessary.

Just to triple check, I cut a little strip off the end (after laying out my patterns pieces to check that I had the spare fabric) and drew around it on a piece of paper. I then steamed the crap out of it with my iron and compared the size of my piece to the outline on the paper... it was the same size. I repeated the process a couple more times just to be completely sure, and the fabric definitely hasn't shrunk.

I know any of you that know what boiled wool is are probably thinking 'Duh, of course, don't you know how it's made?', and I do, but I wanted to be absolutely and completely sure as I'll be absolutely gutted if it shrinks the first time I get it cleaned!

Some other useful bits of information that "More Fabric Savvy" tells me are that I don't need interfacing, that I should use a 3mm stitch length, and I should use the wool setting on my iron, with steam and a press cloth.

So it seems I'm ready to start...!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Seeing Quilts everywhere...

There are a series of promotional postcards that Peter Mac have released, one of which particularly caught my eye as it instantly made me think of a quilt...

Here's the information from the back of the postcard:
Research at Peter Mac
As the largest cancer research site in Australia, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre is leading the ever accelerating advances in cancer diagnosis and treatment. The combination of a specialist cancer hospital with an embedded sophisticated laboratory complex provides unparalleled opportunities to inform clinical practice and engage in translational clinical research.
For more information, you can see the Peter Mac website.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Me-Made May

Zoe of "So Zo..." recently finished "Me Made March" in which she only wore clothes she had made for the entirety of March. She has decided to re-do the whole thing again as "Me Made May", which she is taking sign-ups for people to join her. She is also offering a lite version - where you don't have to wear only me-made clothes, but to aim to wear at least one me-made item each day.

I have decided to sign up for the lite version - I will aim to wear at least one me-made item during May. Wish me luck!!

If you're interested in learning more about Me-Made March or May, check out Zoe's blog!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Flashback Friday #1 : Spotty PJ Bottoms

I have decided to start a new (possibly semi-) regular spot on my blog; Flashback Friday. I thought it would be run to use Fridays to share an old project that I made before I started my blog. So, without further ado.... flashback #1:

Spotty PJ bottoms, made Nov 2006.

I made these pyjama bottoms because my very favourite pair that I'd bought from Primark had completely worn out (so threadbare that I'd worn a hole through the bum!) So, I unpicked the seams and used them to make a pattern. The fabric was bought at Spotlight and they've been worn VERY regularly ever since... sadly they're starting to wear thin around the waistband. The pattern I made has gone missing since, so once they do finally die they'll be unpicked and a replacement pattern made.

Interestingly, the fabric has held up pretty well. Above shows the actual PJ bottoms on the right and the original fabric (the leftovers of which are still in my stash) on the left, they've slightly faded but not too much.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


You've seen the muslin, but here are the finished thing:

They're not as shiny as they seem in the photos in real life, the flash did something funky!

I wore them to work on Tuesday, but will confess I took a spare pair in my bag in case of a wardrobe malfunction, but they weren't needed. I ended up hemming them to be worn with flats, as I figured they'll get worn more that way, but the front of the trousers doesn't quite sit right because it rests on my foot...

The thing about them that I'm most proud is actually the inside. I did french seams on the pockets, bias binding around the fly and invisibly stitched the waistband lining down. I'd love to show you, but I can't seem to be able to take a photo of it in focus.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hikaru Fabric!

I know that I had picked out the olive green wool for the Hikaru jacket, but when I got to The Fabric Store to buy it I spotted a different wool that wasn't there when I was last there.... and indecision struck!

After spending far too long pondering, including dragging out a VERY large pile of possible lining fabrics, I settled on the (slightly extravagant) combination shown above. On the right the wool for the jacket, a little thicker than the olive wool I was going to go with, and lovely and smooth, the dappled pattern is the colours. On the left, the fabric I'm going to use as a lining - I thought a bit of colour and pattern would be good fun, and this lovely silk/cotton blend was just too nice to resist! Also shown are a matching zip and the two spools of thread that I bought - one matching and one darker one, which I'm considering using for top-stitching.

The only thing stopping me from making a start on it now is that I have NO idea how to pre-treat the fabrics before sewing with them. Obviously I need to pre-treat them; I have visions of getting caught in the rain and the jacket shrinking unevenly if I don't. Thus, my next job is to do some research on the subject... watch this space! (or comment if you have any wisdom to share)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Hikaru Muslin...

The next item for my wardrobe project is the hikaru jacket so today was spent sewing up a muslin to check out the pattern and the fit. (Please ignore the fact that I set the sleeves in inside out, it's not worth going back and redoing them!) Overall the fit isn't bad. It has plenty of space for extra layers (it's photographed with just a tank top underneath) but isn't too big.

The only fit issue I can see is the slight bagging at the back, caused I think because it gets caught up on my behind when I move around (if I pull it down it will sit smooth and not be pulling too much over my hips but as soon as I move it gets caught up again).

What do you think, is it enough of a problem try and alter or not really worth bothering about?

I have swatches of fabric to choose between from The Fabric Store (which is a convenient less than 5 mins walk from my house):

The top one is a dark olive green and kinda has the feel of slightly thicker felt. The bottom one is a dark-ish grey, is a bit thicker than the green and has a bit of texture to it. I'm erring more towards the green, what do you think?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Jenny, I love you!

Yesterday was a super productive day. After a mini field trip to Clegs to buy a zip I finished off my blue Sencha and black Jenny Skirt.

I have to say, I agree with Gertie entirely; the Sencha and Jenny are a match made in heaven!

Despite my initial misgivings, now I've made it up I'm in love with the Jenny Skirt. I decided to buy some cheap black stretch suiting during my trip to Spotlight earlier this week (when I bought the fabric for my trousers) to make a wearable muslin/test garment to check whether the skirt suits me.

After being honest with myself and taking accurate measurements I cut out the skirt pattern... I then measured how long it is and cut at the upper lengthen/shorten line and added 2 inches (although I think I'll take 1 inch back out again for any future versions). As with Gertie and Zoe, I made my own waistband piece rather than following the slightly bizarre instructions of cutting a piece on the bias and stretching it to fit. I just cut a straight strip and used the side and centre back seams to shape it to my body nicely.

I was very under-whelmed by the instructions for the pattern and ended up completely ignoring them and making it up how I felt like it. The instructions also don't really detail what you need to buy, which is why I had to go and buy a zip today as the one I had bought was too short, and also why the skirt isn't lined.

The order of construction of the skirt also didn't really make much sense to me, so rather than follow the instructions I did the following:
- Sew the darts, sew skirt front to skirt back, press side seams open
- Sew the front and back waistband pieces together (x2) and press seams open
- Sew the skirt to one of the waistbands, matching side seams
- Sew the other waistband to the first waistband, understitch and press.
- Sew the back seam between the markings, pressing slit open
- Sew with an invisible hem around the bottom and up the slit
- (Go out and buy correct length zip)
- Add the zipper up the back (matching waistband seam)
- Invisibly stitch waistband lining down along waistband seam and by zip

As I said, VERY happy, my only problem now is to decide what colour to make it in next! Suggestions?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Almost Finished Objects...

There is a phrase that has been mulling through my mind in relation to sewing in the last few weeks; Almost Finished Objects (AFOs if you will). Subtly distinct from UFOs (UnFinished Objects), AFOs haven't been forgotten about or shoved to the bottom of the sewing pile, but instead are highly anticipated items awaiting one or more vital components that need to be found/bought/learnt before they can be finished.

Pictured above from bottom to top: my Esprit dress, now only waiting on buttons and buttonholes, however I've just discovered that the buttons I bought are larger than my automatic buttonholer can do so I'll need to work out another option; my blue Sencha blouse, also waiting on buttons and buttonholes; my Jenny skirt waiting on a zip as I bought the wrong length (more on that in a separate post).

Friday, April 2, 2010

Trouser Muslin (at last)

My trouser muslin has been finished for over a week now, but to start with I didn't have anyone to take photos for me, and then after I got some photos at sewing club last week I've been ridiculously busy so haven't had the chance to post them until now. Without any more wait, here's my muslin:




Not the most flattering when made up in calico, but I'm still pretty proud of my first try! I'm sure that there are heaps more alterations I could do to make the fit better, but this will do for now and I'll investigate them for a second pair.

After scouring the shelves at tessuti in a very picky fashion I just couldn't find the right shade of grey... so I looked in the fabric store and clegs and finally spotlight where I found some. Here's my fabric, it's a gorgeous mid grey and this close-up photo shows the slight pattern it has:

Oh, and Melbourne people, don't forget that it's the Clegs Easter sale this weekend (Sat, Mon & Tues), where it's 20% off everything and most of all $5 patterns!

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