The Christmas countdown… only 3 weeks to go!

Just a gentle reminder that Christmas is only 3 weeks away.

This, infact, sends me into a flat panic as I have to make and post all my presents to the UK, so my deadline is sooner than most.  So far I have managed to make 3 items which I am super pleased about.  There’s nothing like making sweatshirts for a UK winter in 30 degree heat!

Sweatshirts aren’t exactly what’s needed for our Sydney summer, but if you are looking for a present then a ‘Sewing with Kate’ gift certificate could be the answer.  Has your favourite person always wanted to sew?  Is your partner always looking for the perfect gift for you? A new years resolution perhaps? If so, this could be the perfect gift.

Learn how to use a sewing machine or make your own clothes or even learn some mending techniques.  Sewing is lifelong skill, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

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The gift certificate doubles as this cute sewing kit with some cotton, pins, needles and a button, there is also space to write a little message.  It is wrapped in a festive felt envelope and tied together with a sewing charm.  There are lots of colours and charms to choose from.

Just drop me a message through the contact page or Facebook and I will get back to you ‘tout suite’.

How can you resist it? x

Christmas is only 4 weeks away….

Just a gentle reminder that Christmas is only 4 weeks away.  This, infact, sends me into a flat panic as I have to make and post all my presents to the UK and I have barely started.  Oh well, ‘daughter/sister/aunty/niece of the year’ award goes to me again!

But if (unlike me) you like to get things organised, then a ‘Sewing with Kate’ gift certificate could be the answer.  Has your favourite person always wanted to sew?  Is your partner always looking for the perfect gift for you? A new years resolution perhaps? If so, this could be the perfect gift.

Learn how to use a sewing machine or make your own clothes or even learn some mending techniques.  Sewing is lifelong skill, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

The gift certificate doubles as this cute sewing kit with some cotton, pin and needles and buttons, there is also space to write a little message.  It is wrapped in this festive felt envelope and tied together with a sewing charm.

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Just drop me a message through the contact page or Facebook and I will get back to you ‘tout suite’.

How can you resist it? x

Take me to Fulwood and Brightside

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Fulwood and Brightside are suburbs in Sheffield, my hometown. They are also the names of 2 patterns I have recently made.

I love the idea of naming a pattern after somewhere so familiar to me.  It certainly drew me in.  I have many happy memories of Fulwood.  My besties still live there.  Every Friday night we would get ‘ready’  (a 2 hour process) at Sara’s place, we would get the bus down Crimicar Lane, stop off at The West End pub, collecting Katie, Lou and Faye along the way and ending up at the Leadmill.  I am never sure why we would spend so long getting ready, we looked complete wrecks as we poured out of the Leadmill at 2am and headed back to Fulwood.  Ah, the joys of youth. I loved being 18 in Sheffield, it was so much fun.

I digress!

Fulwood and Brightside are also patterns designed by Wendy Ward, designer, sewing teacher and author.  Wendy is from Sheffield, I should have known really.  I love her aesthetic, it’s monochrome, it’s stripes and it’s cracking tattoos. It’s my idea of minimal cool.

THE FULWOOD DRESS

She has loads of great patterns but I was really keen to try the Fulwood dress and the Brightside shrug.  The Fulwood dress is basically a loose fitting shift dress, it has a variety of options including roll collar or boat neck, inseam pockets and pleats, it’s also easy to hack into a top.  It’s aimed at beginners and I do like a simple sew. Loose and boxy and easy, that’s my kind of dress.

I used a blue cotton/linen mix I bought from Fabric Cave, so it’s preloved.  I love the colour and the texture of the fabric is so soft and fluid.  I was quite short on fabric but I worked out I could make a dress if I was crafty so I just about managed it.  I had to leave off the roll collar which is a shame as I really fancied that option.  I also decided to remove the pleat option and make the dress one piece.  This is the good thing about this frock, it’s easy to hack, add and subtract as you go.

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You can see the linen component in the creases on the skirt!!  My Mum would never approve.
In the instructions there is a section with hacking suggestions. So I folded the pleat out and then taped the skirt piece to the top piece.  In hindsight I should have added a couple of extra centimetres around my hips (as Wendy suggests). It fits perfectly well, but I prefer a slightly looser fit.  I will grade the skirt section out next time.

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Can you see Bertie creeping into shot?
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I didn’t have quite enough fabric for the sleeve cuffs so I decided to put some bias binding around the edges (I also did this on the neckline).  Homemade binding of course, in grey and white stripes, the fabric was from Margie’s stash. You do get the odd flash of this now and again.

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Left: I love an inseam pocket.  Bottom right: I was short on fabric so I had to patch the pockets together.  I used french seams throughout.  Top right: neck binding

 

I am super pleased with it. It’s easy to wear and simple, things that are often lacking in my wardrobe.  I know I will get tons of use out of it.  I was shivering as I was shooting this dress for my blog, it’s cold here.  I will be wearing this with lots of layers until the warm weather comes back again!

THE BRIGHTSIDE SHRUG

The Brightside shrug is intriguing.  It’s such a funny shaped pattern piece, like wearable origami.

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Image from miycollection.com
I loved the grey marl version on Wendy’s website and as they say ‘imitations is the sincerest form of flattery’, I basically ripped it off!

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Image from miycollection.com
I already had such lovely grey jersey that I had bought at The Cloth House in Melbourne, it was a match made in heaven.  I think it took me just over an hour to make.  I was even studious enough to do the hand tacking that Wendy suggests.  I am glad I did, I enjoyed the process and it really did make for a better finish.

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Excuse the slightly mental look on my face!
One of my 11 year old students was quite keen to try this pattern.  I am not generally keen on teaching stretch unless they have a bit of experience, not sure why really as it’s not that difficult.  I asked her to buy ponte.  I think that’s always a safer option, it’s just a more forgiving fabric and easy to handle.  So when she turned up with this fabric I did a little involuntary squeal of delight.  Can you believe how good this is?  She is 11!!  Yes, 11.

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We sewed the seams on the sewing machine and added the cuffs and neckband using the overlocker.  She loved the overlocker, thought it was great fun and enjoyed putting her foot down.  I also insisted on hand tacking it all in place.  She was a good sport about that, even though kids often find it tedious and don’t have the patience for it.  We used fluoro orange tacking thread, for a bit of fun.  I am happy to say she removed it all too.

Such great patterns, they are both really easy to make, with clear and simple instructions.  I would recommend these to beginners for sure.  It was also a lovely little walk down memory lane, making patterns named after places so close to my heart. I am excited to say that I will be back in Sheffield in a few weeks time, for a wedding.  I look forward to a night out on the tiles with the girls, although I think my Leadmill days are well and truly behind me.

x

Let’s start at the very beginning….

… a very good place to start (all those ‘Sound of Music’ fans can now continue singing), only until you get to ‘sew, a needle pulling thread.’

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I have another workshop planned, it’s just for beginners.  It’s especially for those who have bought a sewing machine with good intentions and then never removed it from the box. It is also for those who fancy adding another skill to their repertoire. And it’s for you, if you just fancy an afternoon among some other crafty enthusiasts!

It’s a small group so if you are keen, drop me a line.  Here’s the details.

Classic_toteI hope you are still singing. Ahh, I love Julie Andrews.

See you there x

 

 

 

A place to call home

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I have been working out of a dark and gloomy corner of my bedroom for years, and with my sewing obsession in full flow and the corner of my bedroom overflowing with projects, it’s time to move out.

I would love to say we moved home, from our tiny two bedroom apartment to a lovely big house with lots of bedrooms and a sewing room just for me.  But who are we kidding here, I live in Sydney.  The most expensive city in the world (well, actually it’s 20th, but you get the picture!)

So I found a little place to work, I found a studio space among a bunch of creative types and piled all my stuff in there.  It’s a place to prep and teach my sewing classes, a place to work on my blog, a place to spread out and sew obsessively without interruption (its also about 5 minutes from my house!)

What makes it even more joyous is that Emily from In the Folds is also in this studio space.  This means I can interrupt her with a quick cuppa and generally obsess about sewing with her, hooray!

Today, I completed my first sewing workshop in the new space.  It was the Brooklyn Pattern Co. Henry Dress Sew-along and I just wanted to post the photos of our day. We had such a good laugh on a very wet Sydney Sunday.

I am very proud of my students, some have almost no sewing experience so to achieve such awesome results is just incredible. Whoop Whoop… well done girls x

 

 

Hat + ears = cuteness overload!

I love this hat pattern, the Cosy Winter Hood from the book Oliver +S “Little Things to Sew“.  Really what isn’t to love about it, it’s a hat with ears! I have made this hat many times over.  The first time I made it was for Bertie when he was about 18 months old.  I found a tweed skirt in my local charity shop and I was off, you know I love an upcycle. I lined it with some bamboo fleece from Bamboo Fabric Store and it became the cosiest hat around.  How cute does he look? He was cute once, that was before he turned 3!

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Once, he was cute!

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We then moved on to a super hero obsession so I converted the design into a bat hat! I redrew the ears, making them slightly more pointed and placed them backward, not anatomically correct but they looked more batman-esque! I used a black denim and lined it with some charcoal fleece. The denim wasn’t as successful as the tweed, there is no ‘give’ in the fabric. It doesn’t fit as well as the original.

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Here in his homemade batman costume!
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On second thoughts, is it more donkey than bat??

The third one I made was from a beautiful piece of blue wool I found at the charity shop, I tried it in the medium size this time (kids 4-6). It was way too big for Bertie, so it’s mine now! I love the contrast with the white bamboo fleece. I have to say, I haven’t been game enough to wear it out yet!

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Bertie & me!

I have also taught one of my students to make this hat. It’s a great project for an enthusiastic sewer and not all that hard. It teaches sewing curved seams, lining a piece and basic construction. She did an awesome job with it.  She also insisted we wear our hats to all future sewing lessons – well at least I am game for that!

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Sewing up a storm in our hats!
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My student rocking her hat!

What I love about this hat is the options for adaptation. Playing around with the lining colour can totally transform this hat. It has a huge scope for upcycling anything at hand like a shrunk sweater or heavy wool skirt. But the most fun you can have is changing the ears, long skinny ears for a bunny, triangular ears for a cat or the best type of ears – bat ears, for your inner super hero!

Pass it on

I have taught many kids to sew over the years but what I love most are the kids that are TOTALLY into it.  I mean the ones that display a true passion for sewing.

At the moment I am teaching an 11 year old girl with a mind of her own.  That is a must in sewing I think, to totally commit to a project and do anything, however hard to achieve that goal.  I don’t know that many 11 year old girls, having sons means that I don’t really get to know that many.  I think that’s why I enjoy teaching so much, most of my students are girls, yippeee!

I just wanted to show you a couple of photos I took during our last lesson.  The programme I put together for this class was to make an elastic waist skirt.  She told me that she doesn’t wear skirts but would make one for her friend. That doesn’t really work for me, I want my students to make things for themselves. So, lets make something else!  We bantered around a few ideas and came up with a cloud cushion.  We drew out a pattern, pinned it, cut it and stitched it up.  I liked that it was harder than your average cushion with the curved edges. We discussed ‘clipping the curve’ to get the edges right and look at the result.

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She was super focused and loves it.  Isn’t it just fabulous?

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