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 ‚Äėtout suite‚Äô.

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

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

 

 

Kollabora interview with little ol’ me!

I was thrilled recently when Kollabora contacted me to ask if I would feature in the “Meet the Maker” segment on their site.

I am a big fan of Kollabora, it is a great resource for sewists like me. ¬†It is basically a maker community that unites crafter and DIY enthusiasts of all skill levels. It’s where you get to be inspired, share projects, buy patterns and connect to a larger creative community whether it’s a knitter, sewer, embroider, crafter, the list goes on and on….

I had a quick scan through the Kollabora¬†blog¬†and felt a little out of my depth, there is some serious talent. ¬†But, I went for it and quite enjoyed the process. ¬†It’s quite a cathartic process having to answer detailed questions about yourself. ¬†I did read it back and wonder if I sounded a bit nuts.

Have a read and see what you think. Hopefully there is something in there to ‘tickle your fancy’*

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To read the full interview click here…

 

 

 

(* awesome saying of the week)

Christmas present sewing = RSI

DONE!!  Yes, I am done.  Finally finished all my Christmas sewing.  It was an epic event and certainly a challenge. Grab a cuppa, I will try to be brief!

FOR MUM

I made this Marilla Walker top for Mum. The pattern is from her latest Roberts Collection.  I chose a beautiful ottoman fabric in a watermelon print from Spotlight. It has a lovely drape and it worked really well with this pattern.

I wasn’t entirely faithful to Marilla’s pattern, I didn’t include the interesting back detail. ¬†You can really only see the back detail with a plain or lightly patterned fabric so I skipped this part. I love the v-neck and the kimono sleeves and I will definitely be making this one for me too. ¬†The big question is, will she like it? ¬†(Note: My Mum is the kind of person who takes navy slacks back to M&S about 12 times before she is happy with them).

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Cost: Fabric $16 (sale item) + Free pattern (I pattern tested for Marilla and I was kindly rewarded with a printed copy!)

Total = $16

FOR DAD

I made him an apron.  A bit of a cop out?  Maybe? yes!  I was going to give him the gilet but I loved it so much I give it him for his 70th birthday instead. After that epic sew, I am sure he will forgive me for this!

I used some left over ticking from a previous make and a heavy denim from Lincraft.  He enjoys a spot of baking so I know this will be useful.

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Generously modelled by idiot husband!

Cost: Denim fabric $8 (sale item) + leftover ticking $1 + pattern from a Great British Sewing Bee book (gifted to me!)

Total = $9

FOR MY SISTER

I bought an amazing kimono back in July, while visiting Byron Bay.

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It is a second hand piece, not vintage I might add, which made me feel a little better about pulling it apart.  I removed a front panel on each side and a fair amount from the length as I wanted this to be a jacket as opposed to a dressing gown.

The whole kimono is hand stitched, it’s a beautiful piece of work. I couldn’t bring myself to put it on the machine so I hand stitched the alterations. ¬†It was a fairly straightforward refashion once I got my head around all the different layers.

This one was hard to hand over.

I love this – such a beautiful piece!

Cost: kimono $30, used a good chunk of it so say, $20, no pattern or extra’s required.

Total = $20

FOR MY BROTHER

Yep, another apron! I used the heavy denim from Lincraft and some crazy moustache fabric for the binding and pocket, found at the local charity shop.

I was a little unsure if he would like¬†the moustache fabric but my 10 year old assured me, “Uncle Rich likes funny things!” ¬†So, there you have it!

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Cost: Denim fabric $8 (sale item) + moustache fabric $4 (charity shop find) + pattern, free as before

Total = $12

FOR MY AUNTY

This was suggested by Jillian from Sew Unravelled who made the ladies in her family the most beautiful Furoshiki bags one Christmas.  Thank you Jillian!

I used the remaining pieces of my sisters¬†kimono as it’s such beautiful fabric. I will write a blog post about both of these projects soon.

Let’s hope she likes it! ¬†If she’s not keen, she can always use it as a peg bag!

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Cost: $10 (the remaining portion of the Kimono) + free pattern, using an online tutorial

Total = $10

FOR MY NIECE (4 years old)

I think she got the lions share this Christmas, they are blackmail presents as I want her to like me.  I made her two Henry Dresses, both appeared on the Henry Dress blog tour.  She also scored my Henry skirt hack which I love (I wrote a tutorial about how to do this one!)

p.s don’t forget I am¬†offering a¬†Henry Dress pattern¬†to one of my lucky reader. See my Henry skirt tutorial for details.

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Lobster love
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Sunshine & Lollypops
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Henry Skirt hack

Cost: the lobster dress fabric $4 + Sunshine & lollypops dress fabric $20 + Henry Skirt fabric $1. (All patterns were free as I pattern tested this, the skirt is a hack from the Henry dress pattern.)

Total = $25

FOR MY NIECE (9 months old)

One of the favourite makes this year was the Compagnie M, Charles Dungarees I made from a salmon pink linen shirt.  It appeared on the Makery website as part of the Refashioners 2015 which pleased me no end! Completely impractical for an English winter, hopefully they are too big and will be just right by June!

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Cost: Pink linen shirt $15 + Nani Iro offcuts $3 + buttons $1 (charity shop find) + pattern $10

Total = $29

FOR MY Niece (7 Years OLD)

I know, I know, another Henry Dress but I just love this pattern and it was a request so, who am I to say no? ¬†It’s a great make, I wrote a blog post about this one and I am really happy with its retro feel.

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Cost: Fabric $4 (charity shop find) + free pattern

Total = $4

FOR MY Niece (5 YEARS OLD)

A little crafty project.  I was asked for a cloud cushion, so here is my interpretation!  A happy little piece with some blanket stitching made from a very cuddly grey jersey.

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Cost: Grey jersey $1 (charity shop find) + extra scrap pieces + stuffing $4 + self drafted pattern

Total = $5

I promised in my earlier post that I would do a breakdown of the time I spent. I did start jotting down the time but then I gave up, anyone knows (non-sewers and sewers) that this is hours and hours of work.  I am no saint, there have been moments when I have wanted to just abandon it all and make something for myself! But really, I have not begrudged this time although I do think I have taken selfless sewing to a whole new level!

Financially, this has been an interesting journey. Christmas is such a crippler for us, especially as our kids summer holiday happens over this period. I have incurred about $130 and made 11 presents for my 9 family members, I am pretty proud of that!

Would I do it again? I am not sure, I suppose I will have to see the response from the family.  But I think maybe not to this extent, it has been an enormous undertaking and I really am not joking about the RSI.

Someone pass me a sherry…

A gilet? I had to google that!

There are 10 weeks until Christmas and so my Christmas sewing is in full swing!  It feels like I am being terribly organised, but far from it, I have so much more to do, eek!

A few weeks ago I asked my Mum what Dad would like me to make him for Christmas. ¬†It was a long shot, I just couldn’t imagine what he would want. ¬†When she emailed back with the word ‘gilet’, I had to google it! ¬†For those of you who have no idea, a gilet is a sleeveless jacket. Her exact words were, “nothing fancy, just something rough and ready, he wants something with lots of pockets for the garden.”

My Dad has 3 loves in his life, in no particularly order they are cycling, gardening and his family. So I was thrilled to be at least covering off one out of 3.

My Dad is a very passionate gardener.  When I first moved to Australia he used to send me polaroids of all the vegetables he had grown, often placed in unusual scenes, like a courgette in his bike water bottle holder, or a pumpkin balancing on his handle bars. He has subsequently found Instagram so I now have daily vegetable updates! (yes, that is Jessie from Toy Story in a tree!)

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So, a gilet it is! I found a pattern on Ebay. ¬†It’s by Kwik Sew. ¬†Ironically it has 17 pattern pieces, not sure ‘kwik’ exactly sums it up. ¬†But it did answer the brief, it has lots of pockets! ¬†It even has some strange pocket on the back, what could possibly go in there?

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I must admit, I was a little bit overwhelmed by the prospect of so many pieces and so many pockets. ¬†Generally, I like a simple sew, I don’t have the time or patience for ‘faff’. ¬†But it was a challenge and it had to be done!

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I had the perfect green cotton drill fabric that I found in the charity store for $1 a metre. ¬†The ‘Yorkshire man’ in my Dad would be proud of such a bargain! I had used it on a previous sew,¬†a pair of trousers for Archie¬†and I had plenty left. ¬†There was also plenty of top stitching to be done so I thought a bit of bright orange would work perfectly here. ¬†Here is a shot of my first pocket.

Once I got into the swing of it, it wasn’t so bad. ¬†It was not a difficult sew, just time consuming with all the pockets. ¬†I have never used a Kwik Sew pattern before and the instructions were really well done. ¬†It was very easy to follow. ¬†So, here it is…..

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If you look very carefully you will notice that I cheated a bit. ¬†I removed a couple of the ‘pockets on pockets’ from the bottom right. ¬†Who needs ‘pockets on pockets’ twice?

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I also didn’t add a pocket flap on one pocket, just incase he needed an open pocket for something tall. ¬†I did add his initials on there, just for a bit of fun!

I love that the zip pockets actually give you access to the whole of the inside of the jacket. ¬†I know my Dad, if it’s cold he will no doubt be stuffing something in there to keep him warm – maybe a hot water bottle or a warm cornish pasty!

I also completely ignored the back pocket.  Until someone gives me a valid use for said pocket, I will think nothing more of it!!

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I even managed to get Monty to model it for me, I love his facial expression!!

I am really pleased with the final result. ¬†It is ‘rough and ready’, if you look carefully the top stitching isn’t all that crash hot. ¬†But I know my Dad will wear it and he will think of me every time he puts it on. ¬†That’s job done in my book!

14 weeks until Christmas!

It sounds like an age away, but in sewing terms this is not very long at all! Just to add that bit more stress to my life, I have decided to make most, if not all, of this years Christmas presents.

There are a few reasons for this;

  1. Most of the kids and some of the adults I make for actually wear the stuff I make, or so I think. Maybe they just dress up in said item for an obligatory photo!
  2. I like the challenge of making a variety of items that I wouldn’t normally make. I am talking here of girlie clothes, I have 4 nieces!
  3. My fabric stash is out of control. It needs to be used, as space is at a premium in our shoebox Sydney apartment.
  4. I am skint! Christmas is a horrifyingly huge expense. The sheer enormity of it makes me feel a bit sick. So to make something quite lovely from a piece of fabric I bought at a bargain price makes me do a little personal hi-5.

Of course my time doesn’t count, if that had a cost value in this challenge, each item would cost at least a hundred dollars. But I thought I would keep a record, just to see what the true cost of Christmas is for us. I love a challenge and as an ex-producer I really love a budgeting spreadsheet (sad but true!)

Here is a tiny selection of the base fabric I have to go at.

Wish me luck!

Thank god you’re not dead!

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Today is the third anniversary of the worst day of my life. ¬†The day my husband had open heart surgery which left us wondering if we would ever see him again. We have christened the 7th September, ‘thank god you’re not dead’ day!

I usually make him a little gift to celebrate his presence, you might remember the ‘Heartfelt’ and the ‘Two¬†of Hearts’ embroideries. But this year, I have had a change of heart (excuse the pun)! I don’t think we need a house¬†full¬†of hearts as a constant reminder. I think it’s¬†slightly morbid and quite frankly a bit strange. So, I quit.

It’s time to move forward, not only because I just can’t summon the energy to produce another¬†‘heart theme’ gift but we have a daily reminder of this op in the form of a whopping great¬†scar down¬†his chest.

So I want to do something fun and ultimately useful – will you join me?

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Image: Lucky Bean

My friend introduced me to this incredible creative initiative called Cuddle Cushions, it is such a fantastic idea I had to share it.

Here is an extract from the Lucky Bean blog which explains the concept;

Open Heart International¬†is an Aussie charity that sends teams of paediatric heart specialists into countries without first world resources. They perform life saving surgery on children with congenital heart conditions and help train local doctors. My brother-in-law is a paediatric cardiologist and he introduced us to the amazing work they do. My husband went along to Rwanda to make a¬†documentary¬†about it and he was struck by the dedication of the volunteers and the bravery of the little patients, many of whom are back on their mothers’ backs within hours. I wanted to help but I’m no doctor and can’t leave my own children to help out in other ways. I noticed that after surgery these young troopers are often given a pillow to hold over their chest to protect their scars and sometimes a soft toy for comfort. Now I can’t sew stitches but I can sew a machine in a straight line. So the idea for Cuddle Cushions was born. It’s designed for the dimensions of young patients; a cushion and doll in one. ¬†

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Image: Lucky Bean

What I love about this idea is that a crafter/sewer can make a difference by doing something relatively straightforward.  I have attached the pattern below.

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It would be a great school holiday project with the kids AND a great way to use up all those small pieces of fabric that¬†need a good home AND you can do something useful while reducing your fabric stash. I say it’s a win win! I am much happier about ploughing my energy into this initiative.

Farewell heart embroideries, hello Cuddle Cushions! I will be posting my makes on my blog intermittently, you want to join me?

Happy ‘thank god you’re not dead’ day! x

p.s if sewing isn’t your bag, would you consider donating to¬†Open Heart International¬†instead?

The Two of Hearts

Back in June I wrote a post called ‘Heart Felt’ about my husbands open heart surgery. ¬†If you missed it, here is a quick recap.

Three years ago my husband had open heart surgery. It was a dark time but it feels like a lifetime ago and he is happy and healthy now.¬† I wanted to celebrate the fact that he made it and so every year I decided to present him with a little gift.¬† It is affectionately known as the “thank god you aren’t dead” gift.

For the first anniversary, I made ‘Heart Felt’, a small piece of embroidery.

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For the second anniversary, I made ‘The Two of Hearts’, based on playing cards. He loves a card trick so it seemed the perfect vehicle to incorporate a number 2, a heart and his love of all things magic!

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I started with some vintage silk off-cuts and patched together the pieces using basic straight stitch on the machine. Then just kept going until it looked right. ¬†The hearts and numbers are made from some red cotton and again machined in place. ¬†I then pulled some stitches through, leaving them unknotted and long – a bit bleeding heart, if that’s not too gruesome!

I thought I would¬†share this one as the third anniversary is looming and I think it would be good to see where this heart project is going (for my benefit as well as yours!) The third one is an epic… will it be finished in time, only a few weeks to go.

Watch this space…