Japanese Cottons in Melbourne

Japanese Cottons stack

I have been lucky enough to visit Melbourne for work this last week and while here I’ve done a little fabric shopping! I stopped into Kimono House on Swanston Street and picked up several Japanese cottons, which I’m planning to make into a quilt top over the next month.

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Japanese Cottons stack

I also bought some fat quarters from L’ucello one floor down from Kimono House and I expect I will stop by again before I leave. No idea yet what I’m going to make from them, at this stage I think I’m really just stash building. I can’t resist a good polkadot.

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Two weeks ago I stayed with my grandma and finished off the drunkards path quilt in orange and green while she was working away at a cable sweater for me. As a result I have had knitting on my mind recently. While researching places to find quilt fabrics in Melbourne I happened upon plenty of mentions of Morris and Sons and couldn’t resist starting a more portable project to teach myself to knit cables. I picked up two hand dyed skeins from Manos del Uruguay and some pretty wooden needles and googled some tutorials.  Here is the result so far:

Manos Wool

Red cabled scarf

It started as a test and turned into a scarf, probably for my partner’s Mum. I don’t think knitting will ever be a major hobby of mine the way quilting is,  but I enjoy having projects I can pick up and carry with me when I travel.

For the rest of my time here I think I’ll be seeing some sights when I have time and trying to see some Fringe Festival shows – I’ve been told to check out Deeply Leisured while it is playing. I took a few days at the end of my trip as a holiday so I can celebrate my 25th birthday here with friends who I don’t see often. A very fortunate and auspicious quarter century.)

I’m still waiting for confirmation but I hope I’ll have some exciting personal news to share in my next post (I’ll say up front it is definitely not a pregnancy in case anyone gets the wrong idea though…)

Finished Post and Rail Baby Quilt.

I finished up the post and rail quilt I mentioned in my previous post last night. Have a stack of photos:

A better view of the backing fabric

Pinning the layers together in preparation for quilting (in my itsy bitsy lounge):

This is the first time I’ve had to piece batting for a quilt (the shop near my work had a tiny bit of woollen/cotton blend batting left when I went in). It’s the first time I’ve used woollen batting before, and the lanolin smell reminded me of my mother’s neglected spinning wheel from when I was a kid and of the sheep our neighbour used to herd across our driveway.

I’m really happy with how the finished product came out:

All prettied up with a bow:

As for my other projects on the go, I think I’m going to use the spare batting I have kicking around to fiiiinally get more of the cathederal window quilt underway. It’s probably about half done now, so I think another couple of weekend’s work will knock it out.

I also sort of threw in the towel with trying to hand quilt the entire rainbow quilt. I’ve had it sitting on my boyfriend’s bed for the last month, and I’ve done bits and pieces of quilting whenever I went over but after seeing how quickly the baby quilt came together with machine quilting I decided to finish it off on machine this afternoon. It’s a bit less than ideal trying to snuggle into a quilt covered in safety pins, and the colours (surprisingly) work well with the lime/purple colour scheme of his walls.

As you can see, my sewing table is very small and the quilt is very big. It’s been quite pleasant having it draped across me while I work though, as Wellington has decided to sleet on everything.

Naturally when it came time to attach the binding George was committed to being a jerk helping

Finished photos due soon, when the quilt is actually finished (and when it’s on a bed since my lounge is too tiny for a proper photo.) Of course, if the quilt lives at Bernie’s house I’ll need to make another one for my bed – I happened across some really richly coloured bedspreads from Urban Outfitters the other day, so now I’m thinking maybe a sea of greens or reds and oranges for my next full size quilt.


I got my latest parcel from Hawthorne Threads yesterday and was SO excited. I’m making a baby quilt (the one I mentioned in my last post) and I’m so glad the fabric arrived quickly. I got started cutting last night, and thought I’d show off the fabrics I’ve picked out before posting progress pics.

I’m making a basic post and rail design, nice and bright and in quite neutral colours (yellow, green and orange/red palattes). The design is inspired by this quilt from Red Pepper Quilts. Photos are from my phone, so some are a little funky colour wise, but:

Greens, including Tula Pink’s turtle bay and Amy Butler Delhi Blossoms in Lime.

I can’t get over how cute the elephant/turtle combo is:

Yellows (or yellow-ish):

And orange/reds, including some of Anna Maria Horner’s Field Study and a cute piece from Jennifer Paganelli which was on sale:

Plus this Bohemian Soul for the white accent stripes:

and this for the backing:

I’m looking forward to getting started on and finishing a smaller piece while I’m still chipping away at hand quilting my giant rainbow quilt.

That Quilt I Talked About Last Year

So last November I started making this quilt top. It took slightly longer than I thought and I then folded it up and it lived on the end of my couch for about four months. I fiiiiinally had enough coin to buy the batting and backing fabric (it’s a mammoth – 2.4m wide and almost 3m long, so batting wasn’t cheap.) I went luxe-ish, nice cotton batting which I’m liking so far (similar to this: Warm Company Batting ), and has made for a really smooth quilt which rolls and folds well. Complicating things further was the fact that the quilt top is bigger than the open space in the biggest room in my house:

George helped a lot, of course.

So, once I had a quilt top I had to find a space large enough to lay it flat and baste together the layers of the quilt, prior to the actual quilting. My lovely boyfriend has a studio about 20 minutes walk from my house so one Sunday night we went there to spread out the quilt He took photos!

I also took a perspective shot, approximately 300 safety pins in:

I opted for the safety pin method of basting, essentially because I am quite lazy and because I’m hand tying the quilt so I don’t need to worry about negotiating them with a machine. Speaking of, I think I have some latent masochistic tendancies because hand tying a quilt this size suddenly seems like not such a fabulous idea, 1/30th of the way in. BUT this this is cute as hell and I have it draped over me while I’m working so it isn’t all bad.

In new project news, a friend is having a baby quite soon so I just went a little nuts on Hawthorne Fabrics again. I’m excited about working on a baby quilt, just because I’m keen to have something that comes together quickly. I’m also on the look out for a nice fabric to bind the giant rainbow quilt with, suggestions in the comments welcome.

Always Come Crawling Back (WIP Edition Remix.)

I’m back, with a few photos and a few good intentions. I’m working on a new quilt (aren’t you surprised) and it’s a long way from finished (the shock continues!!) I’m using black poplin as the frame for a basic cathedral window quilt – the finished squares are 17cmx17cm.

As you can see I’m still not a fan of little fussy patterns or pastel colours. I’m mixing designers like a mofo on this one too, so if it’s going to trouble you to see some Amy Butler next to some hand dyed charm squares I picked up from a local seller then move along. Last night was pretty productive, really, hampered only by my little friend trying to help me feed the fabric through the machine.

Photos! To make up for this morning’s text only post. I was as good as my word(s) though and finished off the corset. Here’s an aerial view.

Plus some close ups of the crystals. They’re Swarovski hot fix in ‘crystal volcano’ and they change from red to purple to green to gold. Looooovely. Even if my sister has accused me of ‘going all pageant mum’ with my recent fondness for sparkle. (To be honest, I’m beginning to doubt her commitment to sparkle motion…)

Soundtrack while I was applying the crystals was a bit more pop than my usual. The last week I’ve been playing Patrick Stump’s solo releases high rotate. I’ve particularly fond of Spotlight (Oh Nostalgia). Go listen to that and imagine me dancing to it at bus stops all week and awkwardly stopping when someone else walks along the street. I decided that you can’t bedazzle things while listening to Anthrax, so my entire afternoon has been songs I can shake my ass too.

Back to the corset though, here’s a view of the hand bound eyelets I mentioned. I considered going over with a second layer of thread to hide the brass totally, but decided I sort of like it being visible.

And the contrast lining:

Hopefully I can put up a picture of my sister wearing it when I give it to her in a fortnight’s time.

I also got a bit more done on the quilt-in-progress I’m working on. I ran out of thread, otherwise I’d have gotten a bit more sewn up tonight.

I’m kind of loving how quickly the herringbone pattern comes together. I reckon I can probably knock out the whole thing in a few hours of solid sewing. (Except it won’t be happening tomorrow because, as I discovered a few weeks back, buying thread in Wellington on a Sunday? Not A Thing.

In which I talk about food and am indecisive.

Today was generally good, with a side of oh-no-the-supermarket-closed-early-because-it’s-a-holiday followed by a delicious student cuisine dinner of sub-$1 noodles which I suspect I have hauled from flat to flat for the last three years. They were marinating in so much MSG I don’t think it matters – they also came with a packet of sauce featuring such fabulous flavour sensations as VINEGAR and SALT. Not really the topic of this blog, but my deep disappointment that I couldn’t buy the ingredients for the mini-feast I had been planning for the last two hours of work needed venting somewhere.

I also got some sewing done tonight: I attached the binding to the top of the corset and played around with what I’ll do next. My sister mentioned she wants ruffles, and I was sort of envisioning ruffles over the bust, but I’m not sure how to do it and make it look good. I think maybe because the dupioni won’t hold a crease it isn’t looking as clean as I’d like. Here’s a comparison picture, anyway:

I’m also sort of considering lace:

But I’ve also got my little sparkle loving self invested in the idea of putting rhinestones on it and I feel like lace + rhinestones will be too much. Oh dear. Don’t worry, I’m really just wittering to myself here. I’ll probably pin the lace on soon to get a real idea of how it’ll look.

Anyway. There’s not a lot more I can do without the boning and busk (or embroidery cotton for the eyelets – I think I’m going to hand sew them, because I hate fun and enjoy sewing blanket stitches for 10 hours.) Instead I used some of the fabric I cut for bone casings and didn’t use to test a slightly different method of sewing herringbone blocks. I think I like this better:

Seeing it like that really makes me want to get a single fabric and sewing a sort of not-really-wholecloth quilt. Basically piece and sew an entire herringbone quilt of one fabric. Maybe this only sounds good in my head. I’m pretty stuck on it though, possibly a really chunky pattern? Maybe one of my next projects.

I also started piecing a block with the actual fabrics, but there are a couple of fat quarters still to arrive in the mail and I want to hold off adding much more so the various cottons are evenly spread. I like how it’s looking though:

Lots of photos and sleep deprived words.

Guess what’s happened since the last time I posted? I’ve gotten stuff done! I’ve pressed the dress, dropped my old clothes off at the op shop and although I haven’t finished the cape that’s largely because I haven’t been home at an hour when I could have reasonably sewn it without waking up my long suffering flatmate.

As a reward for my good behaviour/because I am like 96% done with my current project (I am, shut up)/because today was pay day I went fabric shopping. On the current to do list: a corset for my sister’s birthday and a surprise quilt for some friends of mine. I got all the fabrics for my sister’s corset today and most of the fabric for the quilt.

Look! Brown and green for the quilt:

And red for the corset:

The cherries are for the lining (I am a sucker for cute linings on corsets) and the outer is a lovely slubby red dupioni silk. Here is where I have to speak up in support of Sherazad Silks in Wellington, which is a fabulous treasure trove of jewel tones and metallics. Yum. (Also, if you would like to attract dubious attention in a quiet office try using the word ‘slubby’ in casual conversation.)

I sent my sister a list of the measurements I need to draft a pattern for her. In the interests of making this post as informative as possible, here are the standard measurements I use to draft a corset:

High hip (where the bottom edge of the corset will sit.)
Full front length
Bust to waist (front)
Waist to high hip (front)
Bust to waist (side)
Waist to high hip (side)
Full back length.

To anyone who has worn/made a corset before I’ll be teaching my grandmother to suck eggs with this observation, but the height of the back should be not far off the height of the front. Basically if whoever is wearing the corset is in any way busty (larger than a small B cup) then you need the height at the back of the corset to cantilever the support at the front. Otherwise when you lace it the front around the bust has nothing bracing it and everything becomes a bit of a wardrobe malfunction risk.

My drafting method basically consists of drawing a line across a piece of paper and then ruling a line for the waist and the other measurements relevant to it. It’s not very easy to explain and my ability to draft like this and have things still fit is based mostly on the fact I spent my teenage years sewing tens of corsets and not going to parties. (The not going to parties isn’t necessary, but it did give me lots and lots of time to spent perfecting my freehand drafting skills.)

Here’s how the pattern looks (I opted for an eight piece design because it doesn’t have heeeeeaps of waist reduction.)

The phone is actually there acting as a calculator because it’s freaking 2am and I didn’t want funky arithmetic to affect my drafting. I’m trying out a new method of construction (for me) with this corset. I used to be a huge fan of 5 layer corsets with internal boning channels. This time around I’m trying external boning channels and self-fabric binding in the hopes of not annihilating my sewing maching with great chunks of fabric. This is the backing for the dupioni which I’m using to brace it against the strain the corset will be under, a heavy calico being cut out:

You can see my notes on the pattern about where the boning needs to go and how long it has to be (in this example 42S means a 42cm piece of spiral steel over that seam.) Have some more gratuitous construction shots:

The final corset will have a ruffle at the top over each cup and a sweetheart neckline. I also discovered today just how easy it (reportedly) is to attach rhinestones to things and let me tell you, as much of my next paycheque as the need to eat will allow is going to an assortment of rhinestones which I plan to attach to everything I can. The corset will very likely be on that list. Watch this space.

I didn’t sew any of the corset tonight because sewing machines are loud and my flatties are sleeping, but instead I cut a bunch of the quilting fabric into strips, inspired by this fabulous Stitched in Color tutorial.

Fuelling tonight’s spree of productivity was an album by a local band called Spook the Horses. It’s their debut Brighter and it is really astoundingly, fantastically, crushingly good.

If you enjoy doom/post rock (and quilting, apparently, if you’re reading this blog. Hi, in that case. It makes two of us.) I highly recommend grabbing a copy from their bandcamp.

On why getting some things done just doesn’t happen.

Hello lovely readers,

I thought today I would talk about the ridiculous ebb and flow of my enthusiams for projects. As you’ll notice if you read back through this blog, the last thing I talked about before taking a six month hiatus was my long list of thing I was going to get done. I did actually accomplish few, smaller, things such as the knitted present, but unfortunately it has been sitting, with an addressed postage bag, for five months (I am not making this up) because I couldn’t find a nice piece of paper to jot a quick note on before I sent it. In a similar vein, over a month ago I decided I would clean out my wardrobe, so I dutifully packed the unwanted clothes into a couple of bags and put them by my front door, to take to the local op shop. They’re still there. Not because the op shop is out of my way, or across town, oh no – it is actually only 5 minutes away.

I’m just not very good at getting things done in any sort of consistent manner. I am seized by great waves of enthusiasm which usually buoy me through the initial stages of any project – I just lack follow through on the smaller details. I’m getting better at this in sewing (finishing the insides of outfits, rather than just sheepishly assuming no one will look at them) but I’ve yet to actually make this change in my day to day life. I’m quite hoping that this week I can finally send that gift, and finally drop off the clothes (actually the op shop and the post office are 20m from each other, so I could perhaps score a two-fer on that.)

But since I regained my interest in sewing (which is to say, since last Tuesday) I have immediately been gripped by plans to sew EVERYTHING. I have already planned out a quilt, and a corset, and two more skirts. I’m trying really really hard to keep my WIP list under control because I know otherwise I will buy a lot of fabric and then use exactly none of it, instead drifting back towards something else to occupy my time.

The other other thing is that I really enjoy being wrapped up in this kind of enthusiasm. I’ve been sleeping better, and waking up happy, and even though I’m dealing with all sorts of engineers reports and similar SNAFUs for my house I’m still quite excited to get home and sew at the end of each day.

And here, so this isn’t just a bunch of self-flagellation, is a picture of me in the cape I made to match the brown dress I posted the other day. It hasn’t been lined yet (and the dress still needs a matching belt and a good pressing) but I promise I will do both of these things this week, maybe even tonight. I’ll post about it when I do them, so you can check up on me, if you like.

Next up: fabric shopping on Wednesday, cutting strips of cottons I already own for the planned-quilt, and attending the Te Papa Unveiled exhibition for dress inspiration. Inappropriate daywear, here I come.