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Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Ceramic Jewellery Class - Sew Make Create

Another weekend means another class! This time I'm learning how to make ceramic jewellery at Sew Make Create in Chippendale. I won a $50 voucher with them via an Instagram competition so that helped fund this class.


I did have an idea of what I wanted to make in the class but I'm not quite sure I got there in the end. I think I tried to make too many pieces in the class to try and safeguard against pieces potentially breaking in the kiln and this didn't give me enough time to really finish any of the pieces nicely. I also think a bit more time spent pre-planning exactly what I wanted to do would've served me well.


I thought I might make my ceramic balls for studs but they didn't fare well when I got to the pre-glazing stage so were written off. The beads I made broke in the kiln but I'm OK with that. All of the pendants I made survived and some of them are good - some are too big and heavy for me to wear (I have a bad neck so can only wear light pendants). The smaller round pieces were intended for earrings but I think they are a bit too thick and heavy so I need to think about what I would do with them. I also put the holes too far down in all of my pieces so using jump rings isn't working. There's a reason they say hindsight is 20:20...

I picked up my fired pieces from Sew Make Create yesterday...and here they are!


I have to confess - this piece of ceramic was an example by the teacher. I snaffled it, sanded it and then pre-glazed it. I quite like it - but I'm trying to think of how I can incorporate one of the smaller, similarly decorated pieces in to it.


I had really wanted to make a semi-circular pendant and have ended up with three. It's funny that the blue one is, aesthetically speaking (to me), the best looking piece as I actually ran out time to pre-glaze it hence the sightly washed out look.


I have a lot more pieces to play around with at home - I suspect I'll string up a few more and then cut my losses with the others.
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Thursday, 27 July 2017

#ebonyTee - just two more (for now)

Yes, I know! MORE Ebony Tee's...haven't I got anything better to do? Well yes (actually no - so if you have any pattern suggestions please let me know)...but these are different as I've added one inch to the length so I can wear them with my tighter pants...more butt coverage! It's funny how just one inch has made all of the difference to how I perceive my outfits.

The first top is in a polyester elastaine from My Hung in Parramatta and I just LOVE the print! It was quite slinky to sew with but nothing too bad. My overlocker behaved perfectly until it got to the neckdband and then it skipped stitches like a $%$#@$!!! My sewing machine was also skipping stitches all over the place. Honestly.

I've sewn the sleeve as drafted for the "wristlet" length.

NOTE how I'm wearing my new me-made silver clay earrings and necklace!
View of the back - butt area sufficiently covered. I LOVE THIS TOP!


Top number two is sewn in a super slippery polyester elastaine bought from Spotlight ages ago. If you've been with this blog for awhile you'll remember this dress made in the same fabric.

This very "twee" heart fabric is somewhat thinner than the first fabric here and my God - it was slipping and sliding all over the place - very frustrating, especially when putting on the neckband *deep breathes*. My overlocker was still playing up (the fabric isn't really being cut by the knife and just curls up inside the stitches and makes a massive, lumpy mess). I threaded the whole thing, dusted it out, changed the needles and re-threaded it and it seems to be...okay!


Again...acceptable levels of butt coverage.

I'm not sure how long this top will last - the fabric is very delicate and I've already snagged it a few times on a rough fingernail. Sigh.

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Pattern: Closet Case Files "Ebony Tee"
Size: 16, wristlet sleeves, jewel neckline
Modifications:  added 7.5" to the length. Rolled hem.
Fabric: as above
Changes for next time: none for View B

Monday, 24 July 2017

A class in Precious Metal Clay

I attended a really great workshop on the weekend at the Sydney Jewellery School (which recently moved from Rosebery to Parramatta - how lucky for me)! The class was all about making silver jewellery with Precious Metal Clay (PMC). I first became aware of PMC through Marialla Walker's Instagram (here and here). There is seriously no craft this lady has not tried - inspirational!


Wikipedia tells us that "Metal clay is a crafting medium consisting of very small particles of metal such as silver...mixed with an organic binder and water for use in making jewelrybeads and small sculptures. Originating in Japan in 1990, metal clay can be shaped just like any soft clay, by hand or using molds. After drying, the clay can be fired in a variety of ways such as in a kiln, with a handheld gas torch, or on a gas stove, depending on the type of clay and the metal in it. The binder burns away, leaving the pure sintered metal."

I was attracted to this class as it is actually something you can do at home if you want -- no need for a kiln, just a creme brulee torch and you're off! I'm already dabbling in polymer clay at home so this seemed like a good "next step".

These are so of the examples our teacher brought to class - all made by her (I'm coveting the ring in the very bottom right)
Our teacher Donna was great - very very patient! And I think she brought with her every gadget and tool in her workshop which we were free to use. The first hour of the class was spent being shown various techniques in working with the clay (PMC3) and then we were encouraged to plan out what we wanted to do before opening up the clay and letting it go hard (this stuff is not cheap at ~$50 for 16g so it was very good advice).

Sixteen grams of clay is not a lot and in way I'm glad as I kept my wishlist small and simple and went for two pendants and two sets of earrings. I also had enough for a little heart (made from a mould) that I have given to Dave...he has no idea what to do with, but I can't wear it so I don't want it! I do wish I had made the shapes of the earrings different from each other as they look a bit "same same" but you live and learn!
This is the clay, once it has been rolled out and had a textured surface applied by pushing it into a rubber or metal mat. Shapes are cut out using a pin from a shaped stencil - easy!

The school has a kiln so most of our pieces went into the kiln for firing (took 30 minutes to do this). As you can also fire PMC3 using a kitchen blow touch Donna showed us how to do this too. I wasn't going to embark on this as a hobby at home but I'm kind of running out of space to put all my crafting stuff...but I feel like the seed has been sewn and it might just happen. I didn't have a go at using the blow torch but I kind of wish I had now. 


Once the clay comes out of the kiln it has become 99.9% pure silver though it still looks like white clay. Once you've gone at it with a wire brush the silver surface is revealed. In order to get a good shine on your piece you need to go at it with a bevel (?)...which I kind of did, but to be honest it all looked shiny enough to me. 


Here I am wearing one pair of my new earrings at work - LOVE them!

The Sydney Jewellery School has loads of great classes - I can see myself enrolling in more classes here. 

Flower Power McCall's 6886 - a toile (x 2)

Ever on the quest to find the "perfect dress pattern" for myself I was quite taken by Kirsten's striped version of McCalls 6886. I wasn't quite sure if the pattern (found here) would work for me as it was a bit more snug at the waist than I'd normally wear - but once I had the idea in my head I couldn't get past it.


The dress I'm wearing isn't my original toile (which I had made in the exact same fabric from My Hung in Parramatta) as my overlocker ate the sleeves when I was trying to take them in a bit. The sleeves are VERY wide (I made the size 24 based on my measurements) so I wanted them to be more slim as they made the dress look too big and frumpy as they were drafted - my overlocker had other ideas. The blade refused to cut the material and the whole thing ended up a great big mess. Luckily My Hung still has this fabric in-store so I bought a bit more and tried again.


I've sewn View C with the long sleeves and higher neckline (though I did drop the front a little bit as choking on my necklines isn't my thing at all).  The shoulders are not quite sitting where I think they should and they look a bit like "dropped sleeves" - I could fix this but I don't think it's too bad (and to be honest I'm not sure how to fix it without stuffing things up on future makes so I'll let dropped shoulders drop).

I did make a few other changes to the pattern - namely I added a neckband as the "turn over and stitch down" method never works for me...I just cannot get things to sit nicely. I also removed 1.5cm from the shoulder height and sewed the shoulder seams with my overlocker (using clear elastic to stabilize the seams) rather than using my sewing machine with a 1.5cm seam allowance (that just seems wrong on knits to me). I took the sleeves up by 1.5" and in at the wrists by 1cm on each side (tapering up to nothing under the arms). The sleeves are still a bit too wide at the wrists so I might slim them down a smidge more on my next make.


I really like the finished dress - in fact I'm wearing it to work today. My only niggle is that the neckband is not sitting as flat against the back of my neck as I would like. I did have to attach the neckband twice as the first time it was just too big (why! the neckband on my botched toile was so so perfect)!


I really like this dress and would like to find some nice fabric to make another one for winter - and of course I have ideas for summer versions of this too. I did start to sew another one at home but the fabric is not stretchy enough so it's not very comfy. Sigh.

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Pattern: McCall's 6886
Size: 24, View C with the long sleeves and higher neckline
Modifications: (see above)
Fabric: 20% Polyester/78% Rayon/2% Spandex from My Hung in Parramatta
Changes for next time: none. 

Thursday, 20 July 2017

A beanie for Dave

I decided on the way to work one morning that I was going to make Dave a beanie...lucky Dave! I was just looking for a small project to take on that I could do on the commute to/from work each day and a beanie is something that I think can be relatively easy. Sadly he said a firm NO to me adding a pom pom to it.

I found the pattern on Ravelry after searching for super-dooper easy crochet beanies for beginners (it also has a youTube video which helped a LOT). The wool is from The Granny Square in Newtown - of course! I like going there as I can bring along the pattern and they'll help me pick the correct wool and hook. I find wool so confusing (DK, worsted, WTF) so getting help is wondeful!


I had SO much trouble getting this beanie started -- I thought I'd be off to a good start and then lose count of the stitches somewhere along the way. I must have started about six times but I finally go there in the end and made good progress over a few weeks.


The pattern comes with instructions on fitting for a male or female head (aka big head vs smaller head) and I did end quite a few more rows than the suggested fourteen rows as that was WAY too small for Dave's head. I had initially finished it with a single stitch but pulled that out as it wasn't stretchy and felt uncomfortable to wear. Since he's started to wear it it has stretched a bit in length so could do with being one row shorter but he's happy to leave it as is...


And here is the finished product on Dave...I think he likes it. I mean, he's worn it without me forcing him to wear it which is nice. I don't think it looks homemade in a bad way...it would just look better with a pom pom on top!


I have a bit of wool left over from this project - enough to make a pom pom infact! And I've bought myself another ball of this wool so will make a beanie for myself.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

A GIANT granny square blanket

After my Learn to Crochet class at Sew Make Create I got straight onto making a GIANT granny square blanket. I have one that my mother made when I lived with her and I've always wanted to make one of my own...and now I can!

For some reason now unknown to me I had two balls of this wool at home from Lincraft (probably bought for weaving)...it's a lovely variegated (?) blend (50% Acrylic; 47% Wool and 3% Polyester) with a metallic-look yarn mixed in. Of course two balls is not enough to make a blanket so I ordered eight more online from Lincraft (all they had left in stock). Yeah...that's STILL not enough so I bought MORE from Lincraft in Parramatta and then Castle Hill. I think I had 56 balls in total. 

Needless to say I had WAY too much wool and have enough left over to make a second blanket later down the track. 



I started this blanket in April after my class and finished it in June. As the blanket got bigger my crocheting waned but I got there in the end. It was nice to sit on the couch and crochet under the blanket once it got bigger.


I am yet to "edge" the blanket but have decided to put it on my bed whilst the weather is still cool enough for a blanket. It feels my double bed well and I LOVE it!


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Monday, 17 July 2017

More Mabel Skirts...

Nothing new here today - just three more Mabel Skirts. Two are winners, one is a big fat fail. Let's start with the bad news first and then end on a happy note!

I'm really bummed that this skirt is a fail as the fabric is my much sought after "jegging" fabric - bought in Hanoi at the Dong Xuan market (so it's not replaceable at this point in time). Basically - the stretch on this fabric runs up and down the fabric and not across but I still but it cut it out as I normally would. Thus, we have a really bloody tight skirt that is so uncomfortable! I'm lucky I have enough left to give this another go - hopefully it will work out when the time comes. I did also find some similar fabric via an online store in Australia...so all is not lost.


This skirt is refashioned from The Casual Lady Dress that I made back in 2015. The dress either shrunk in the wash or I expanded in the wash - either way it didn't fit comfortable anymore and wasn't getting worn. I love the fabric (from fabric.com) so decided to make it into a Mabel Skirt. I was (obviously) very tired when this photo was being taken.


I have no idea why I bought the below fabric - I think I had it mind for a dress, but hindsight is 20:20 as this is not a fabric I'd wear in a dress as it's not stretchy enough. This Cotton/Elastane Stretch Woven Velveteen is from Tessuti and I still have quite a bit left (no idea what to do with it). Anyway...it's made an nice skirt, though it does get a bit baggy in the butt area after I've been sitting in it for awhile.

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Pattern: "Mabel Skirt" by Colette Patterns
Size: XL, sewn with 3/8" seam allowance and lengthened by 15cm. Depending on how stretchy the fabric is I add 1cm - 2cm. 
Modifications: 5cm elastic waistband (added 10cm to the pattern to accommodate for this), 15cm added to length. 
Fabric: Various
Changes for next time: none. 

Hacking Simplicity 1366

I really like my dress version of Simplicity 1366 - so I decided to make two more. When you're onto a good thing you may as well keep going with it!

I decided that I needed the dress to be a smidge longer than my last version so I added an extra inch to it (so 17.5" added to the top pattern to make it hit just at my knees when hemmed). I'm pretty happy with this length now.
This fabric was bought from the Ben Thanh Market in Saigon on my recent trip to Vietnam. It's hard to see but it is a ribbed knit. I can't remember how much I paid for this but it wasn't expensive and it's really good quality - a nice weight and was great to sew with.
I also found my last version just a bit too sack like so I took 1cm off the CB fold, thus reducing the back by 2cm overall. I think the fit is much better now, though still loose.


Neckline - I'm basically including this photo as it shows the rib pattern.


Ta da! Another dress version. This fabric is a ribbed knit from Tessuti (yes, I have a THING for ribbed knits at the moment). I actually HATED this dress when I first put it on - it felt really stiff, frumpy and blergh. I threw it in the wash and left it hanging upon the washing line for about two weeks. I tried it on again yesterday and I'm quite fond of it now. Go figure.

This jumper was initially a Mandy Boat Tee, but the fabric didn't have enough stretch and those sleeves were T-I-G-H-T! Luckily I had enough fabric left over to fangle something else out of - and this Simplicity 1366 jumper is what I came up with.

I made this back in late April I think so I can't really remember what I did! The length of the top was dictated by the fabric I had left over; and the story with the sleeves is the same.

This fabric is from Cabramatta and is knit of some sort - not very stretchy. I'm glad I could salvage it and turn it in to something else. I did go back to Cabramatta to see if this fabric was still there, but it had all sold out. Bummer!

I guess this top is a "win" though the sleeves are a bit annoying - the kind of sleeves that will flop into your soup if you're not careful! It's also not quite long enough to wear with my winter work pants (which are a slim-fit ponti pant).



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PatternSimplicity 1366
Size: 18
Modifications Dress:  added 17.5" to the length, added 1cm to both the side of the front and back neckline and dropped the front neckline a bit. Shortened the sleeves by 5cm. Took 1cm off the CB fold. 

Fabricvarious as per the post
Changes for next time: nada 

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Crochet baskets - another class

I know that I *just* did a class on making crochet baskets but I didn't feel that I got everything out of it that I needed to make awesome baskets. I did hesitate quite a bit about booking another same-same class but I'm glad I took this one at Workshop in Redfern on Saturday as I walked about with some new skills to make more professional looking baskets...and a new obsession!


The class is taught by Amy from The Knot Collective - she was a great teacher and very patient. We got to choose what size basket to make (small, medium or large) and I think nearly everyone in the class went with the medium size. I really love the handles on the baskets she brought as examples so we got to make those as well - they are so much more simple than I had thought!


The class went for four hours and I remember thinking when I booked it that that is a VERY long time. It's not! We all finished our baskets but worked right up until the last minute. The yarn (t-shirt yarn) was very thick and the hook was a mammoth size 15 -- so it was slow going as the hands get very tired.

Below is my finished basket - I LOVE it! I love the handles and I love that we learned how to turn the work so there is a distinct base and walls. I think it looks pretty professional and am totally going to give up my day job now to open an ETSY store selling baskets. I wish!


Here we all our with our finished baskets....I love how they are all same same but different.

As soon as I got home I whipped out the Spaghetti Yarn I bought from Lincraft after my last class and got stuck right into making another basket. I wanted to practice the "magic circle" technique used to start the basket as well as turning from the base up to the walls. Needless to say I LOVE THIS BASKET!


We were also shown in class how to change colours so I wanted to practice that too - it's something that will come in handy with the rest of my crochet (to date I've just been tying a knot in my yarn and continuing on...naughty). I LOVE the way this one looks - the pink is fantastic. I'm giving this one to a friend as a gift as I don't think I need a house filled with these - though it would be nice.


I have some of the pink and colourful white yarn left over and I'm going to have a go at crochet a rug/bathmat from it. And a friend at work is keen for a basket...so yay to more crocheting!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Shorty short Brooklyn Coat

Let me tell you a sad sad story, that does have a happy ending. Of sorts. 

I bought THIS BEAUTIFUL fabric for the Berlin Coat (and also for the Kyoto Vest which is why it looks familiar).  I had attempted the Berlin Coat the same weekend as this but it didn't go well for me (fabric s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d out terribly) so there was NO WAY I was risking this remaining 1.5m on that pattern. 



After much pattern tetris (and going down a size from the L-XL I previously made) I fit the Brooklyn Coat on to the fabric...except for I forgot you need TWO SLEEVES...so one is cut from a short scrap piece and against the grain. Thus the sleeves are quite short to ensure that the "spare" would fit on the scrap...I think designers call that "wristlet length".  But wait there's more! I didn't realise that the back pattern piece was folded up more than I intended (needed to shorten the coat to fit in my fabric) so the back was 14cm SHORTER THAN THE front which I discovered when sewing! 




So that is how I've ended up with a hip length, wristlet sleeved Brooklyn Coat!

I have to admit that it doesn't look too bad - but it's not what I set out to make (another 2" on the length would've been nice...or perhaps another 4cm) and I'm SO mad at myself as I feel like I have wasted this fabric despite all endeavors not to.


Apart form the unintentionally short coat and short sleeves, I cut the size S-M but added 1" to the fold of the back piece (so 2" in total) and thus added they same to the collar piece that joints on to the back. I felt the S-M would be too small and it would've been - the extra 2" across the back makes it wearable.

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PatternBrooklyn Coat by Tessuti
Size: S-M
Modifications:  as per the above blog post
Fabric: boiled wool from LOOM
Changes for next time: sigh...I don't even know where to start! 

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Crochet scarf

After my GIANT granny square blanket (still not finished, but almost....) got too big to commute to work with me I decided I need a smaller project that could come with me on the train each day, and also with me on my trip to Vietnam. It was great to have this on the plane with me - the flight went so fast, and it also kept me occupied in my hotel room at night.

Enter my first EVER crocheted scarf! It's a bit wonky as my tension is TIGHT then LOOSE then somewhere in the middle, but when it's around my neck you cannot tell! Plus it feels so nice to wear - so nice and soft!


The wool is from the Granny Square in Newtown and is an 8ply 100% Australian Merino. This colour is called Beluga Twist and whilst I really needed a plain black scarf I got distracted by this. I used five balls for this scarf (from memory) and at $10.90/ball it's not a cheap scarf; but for the entertainment value of making it I think it's a bargain.  In hindsight though I probably needed a wool that "split" less as I was using it -- something more beginner friendly. 


The pattern came from here (it's called the Straight Up Scarf) and was a very simple beginners pattern. The whole scarf is made using a double crochet - which is "the" stitch used for making granny squares...simple!


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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Kyoto Vest by Tessuti (and me!)

This is a new pattern from Tessuti - a vest that can be made out of either boiled or non-boiled wool. I saw a sample of this in their Chatswood store last year and was really excited when it was released last month. I love the simple style of it and it is something I would definitely wear.


I had initially cut out some of my very precious non-boiled wool, bought in Kyoto, for this vest. Despite TWO attempts I could NOT get the yoke and neckpiece to fit together at the corner pivot point - the pieces just do not fit for me. At first I thought it was me - and that my printing/cutting out of the A4 PDF was off. Thus I went to Officeworks, had the pattern printed in A0, cut out a new lot of fabric and tried again -- only to have the exact same problem (I was super accurate in all of my cutting just FYI). Both of those pieces of fabric are now balled up in a box -- I'm so angry that I've ruined/wasted good fabric that I can't bring myself to look at it all again.

Anyway - always a sucker for punishment I wanted to try one last time in a boiled wool as the way it is put together is different that for non-boiled wool. I did get the pieces together, but it wasn't as easy as the Sydney Jacket (where the same sort of collar/yoke/pivot point thing is happening) - but I got there in the end. My stitching was pretty wonky from torturing the fabric, and there were a few rows of it and it looked BAD. I decided to try a fancy stitch on my sewing machine to try and hide it...and below is what we have. I actually quite like it - more than the a simple straight stitch.




The pattern is just one piece, and once you've got the collar attached to the shoulders all that is left to do is add 5m of wool binding to it. You could leave the boiled wool unbound and I think, for the cost of wool binding, this is what I might do if I ever make this again (I'm tempted by the short version, to wear with dresses). The in-store samples at Tessuti show some pretty neat, close to the edge stitching of their binding. Mine isn't quite as neat or tidy, but it's doing the job and looks OK (from afar). 


I made no changes to the pattern other than make the armholes a bit bigger - I could tell from my two x bodged versions that I needed more room - so I guess something good came out of it.

Now the fabric...isn't it great. It's from LOOM in Bowral and I ordered it over the phone when I saw them post it on their Instagram account. It's quite...scratchy, but the sort of thing I can wear in cooler weather without too much bother. It's totally reversible too - and the way the jacket is constructed means you can wear it either way.


The photos of me in the vest is how I wore it to work today...it's held closed with a kilt pin to stop it flapping about.

Will I make this pattern again? Maybe. I quite fancy a shorter version and as that only takes 90cm of fabric it's not a big cost investment. Mentally though...am I up for it? 
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Pattern: Kyoto Vest by Tessuti
Size: XL, longer version
Modifications:  made the arm holes bigger
Fabric: boiled wool from LOOM
Changes for next time: none...except for the armhole modification