textiles Feed

Some singlet dresses

I had to replace the foot pedal for my over-locker and whilst in the Bernina Shop I saw some children's singlet dresses on the wall that they had been teaching as a project.  I immediately thought of my grand daughters and quickly bought a couple of ecco cotton tops to make them one each.   Now there are lots of  instructions for these dresses on the internet and they are quick and easy to make but I made a couple of changes to get a better look.

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I like this tutorial for a toddler but I wasn't happy with the look of how the bodice and skirt joined.

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The things I considered first were:

  • The choice of fabric,  I used some Liberty cotton because it gathers, drapes and washes well. (The fibre used has a long staple - expensive- which means it doesn't crease like cheaper cottons that have a short staple - cheap.)

        But there are lots of fabric to choose from.  Most Mum's these days do not iron and hand washing is a thing of the past.  So if you don't want to spend a lot of money on fabric choose one that has a small amount of polyester in it.  Pure cotton is going to crease.  It will look good to start with but after the first wash it will be creased if not ironed.  After a couple of minutes in the dryer that fabric with some polyester in it will look great.  (The heat slightly melts the polyester in the fabric taking out the creases as it is thermoplastic.)

  • The amount of fabric.  Most instructions tell you to use the width of the fabric but this varies between fabrics and the weight of the fabric will effect just how it gathers.   I think pleating would be better for a heavier weight fabric and extra width is needed if you are using a light weight fabric.
  • The distance between the underarm and where you cut the t shirt.

This changes with the age of the child.  For a toddler I would cut the T shirt at about 9cm (3.5").  A toddler has a bit of a tummy and this will hang better over it.  For my girls, who are 5 & 6 years of age I made the cut longer 12cm (nearly 5") .


Then there was the construction.

After I cut the T shirt I ironed a 4cm (1.5") strip of light paper iron on interfacing above the cut to stabilise the knit fabric.  This also allows you to use a straight stitch when you attach the skirt.  After sewing you can easily peel the stabiliser back to the sewing line and trim it off.

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The gathering.

Most instructions will tell you to lengthen your machine stitch.  I only slightly lengthen the stitch but I also loosen the tension.  This makes that bobbin thread easy to pull up.  (I sew on the right side and gather on the wrong side of the fabric.)

I also sew 2 lines of gathering.  At the end of the first line I sew down 3 stitches and come back the other way.  (This is about the width of your presser foot. 

This allows you to pull up an even gathering and you can then sew the bodice and skirt together in between the 2 gathering lines.  To pull out the gathering threads you just have to snip the thread on the bobbin stitched side back at that 3 stitch turn. The loose bobbin thread pulls out with no fuss and the top thread just falls away.  This also means you do not disturb that line of stitching where you joined the bodice and skirt.

Make sure you mark the quarter and half ways points on the top of the skirt before you pull up that gathering thread.  This will then make it easy to line them up with the seams and centre front and back of the T shirt.  I then neaten this edge by over-locking it.

I thought about top stitching the join but decided it wasn't necessary.

The hem

If you want to allow for growth, and all kids grow ,  set a wider hem you can let down.  You could machine it but I like the hang of a hand stitched hem.

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The girls put the dresses on and refused to take them off.  They love the feel of that Liberty fabric.  They couldn't stop touching it.  Now there will be nothing to compare to this fabric.  I bet they are hooked for life, just like me.

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Parcel in the post

There is a little shop, nearly at the end of the road to the water, at Kingston Beach in Tasmania, called Wafu Works.

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(image from Wafu Works website.)

There is so much to see in there and so much that I would like to buy and not just textiles.  I really want this tea set.  I'm just not sure it would get here in one piece.  Every since I read the stories of the girl in the moon and her rabbits I have loved this type of design.

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(image from Wafu Works facebook page.)

 On their web page there is an image of an appliqued lady on paper.  You have to see these, they are quiet beautiful.

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I have just bought a bundle of vintage cotton fabric to use in a gift  I need to make and the parcel has just arrived in the post.  Problem is, they are so beautiful I won't want to give it away.

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Now I realise that I have a whole lot of gifts that have to be finished for Easter.  March is going to be a VERY busy month.





I  took a trip up to Warwick this week.  A long drive, over 3 hours each way.  I left early to miss the trucks going up Cunningham's Gap and there were only a couple of other cars on the road.  Last time I went up here there were road works caused by rock falls.  Non this day thank goodness.

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I wasn't so lucky coming back as there were lots of big trucks crawling down the range.  Once you get up the range you enter thick rain-forest and then out onto rich farm land.  This is where the headwaters of the Condamine River begins , that joins into the Murray-Daring exiting in South Australia.

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I was visiting friends who were staying at Glenrose which is on the fringe of the city.

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They host sewing retreats and you have to book well in advance to get in.  They have 4 cottages sprinkled through the garden and a great conference/sewing space .

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And I very quickly found their patchwork shop before I even found my friends.  And then I found some of my other friends in the shop.  It is a great shop and I came away with quite a bit of loot.  ONLY things I need.

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I bought the red fabric for the pin cushions but I also bought some scented ground nutshells for the filling.

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And two different types of mesh for using in one of my classes.

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This fabric was reduced and only $10 p.m. so I had to take all that was left on the roll.

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And the book was a gift from a friend.  I'm looking forward to getting into that.

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It was unbelievably hot up there, 39 degrees, so I stayed in the air-conditioning as much as possible.  When I got home I found the wind had changed direction and things were cooling off a bit.

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We have now had some rain.  Great for the garden but it has brought out the sand-flys  so repelant is in use again.





The world and travel

This is  going to be my travel year, or, I hope it is going to be my travel year.  With everything that is happening in the USA what the year will bring is very uncertain and I, like many others, watch unfolding events  there with dismay.  If sane heads prevail, my plans for the year are , Sydney in June to see my family, then onto Japan in August, followed by Huston USA in Oct./Nov for the International Quilt Festival.  Then on to Guatemala in South America.

You might ask why Guatemala?  Well friend Pam is taking a group there and I plan to join them.  I had been tossing the idea around for a while and then I received this wonderful gift from her.

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This is a 'Huipil ' which comes from Guatemala.  It is a vintage piece from the highlands around Lake Atitlan.  The Mayan women usually wear their traje (traditional dress), which consists of a huipol (blouse), corte, (skirt) and Faja (belt).  These designs date back to before the Spanish Invasion.  in the 1600's.

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I am surprised by just how heavy the fabric is. The blouse is made of two pieces of fabric, woven on a back strap loom and then joined with embroidery across the centre to achieve the width needed to make a garment.

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 The embroidery design in then transferred onto the fabric and stitched.

Back of stitching.  You can see how the neck has been scalloped and then faced.

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Front of stitching.

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Close up of stitching.

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I love this piece and would also like to buy one with the bird embroidery on it.

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You can see lots of other examples here.




Sewing, sewing.

Oh that sewing of gifts.  I just think of new things to do all the time.  There are some gifts that cry out to be put into a bag so I have been making bags to put things into.  The Magic 3's bag is just perfect for some things.  This gift, which must remain a secret until it arrives at it's destination, needed a bag which was a bit bigger , so I just increased the size.  Works perfectly and I can make more than one in a day, even with all the hand sewing I put into it.

Screen Shot 2016-12-18 at 9.52.25 pmThe more I use this pattern the more I like it.

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It is also a great stash buster as well.



Embroidery Inspiration

Some time ago I started following the Swedish Embroidery Guild after reading about it on Queenies blog. There is always interesting things there, different from what you see on other sites.  One of the artists they talked about was Eva Nelander Junten.  Her website is called 'Colour, Form & Textiles.

She has some lovely images on her site.

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At first I thought that most of her stitching was by machine but a lot of it is hand stitched, beautifully.

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 Her work has a folk art touch to it you can see her work here & here.

The other thing that attracted my attention was embroidery inspired by Eucalyptus bark.  I look at these trees all day and have often thought they would make a good embroidery.

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This is perfect.

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Making fabric

Every time I complain about the price of fabric I will look at this  video and appreciate just what a labour intensive process would be involved if I did it myself.   This video is from Korea and takes you from picking the crop through to the finished garment.  It is really a group effort.

Picking the crop

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Stripping the fibre

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After it has been dried preparing the fibres

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Then dividing them with your teeth

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Then there are a lot of other processes to go through before you are ready to weave.  At this point they roll the fibre against bare skin.

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Then there is warping the loom and the actual weaving.

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This is a great little video from a Korean News Channel MBN that I can't up load but if you click on the link this will take you to it on their Facebook page.  No English I'm afraid.




Cut-Work Emboirdery

Cut work Embroidery and How to do it. by Oenone Cave (1963)  Dover Publications  Inc. New York

Considering that some of the first books about this type of technique were published back in the 1600's this is a relatively new publication.

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I picked it up in the second hand book section at the Embroiderers' Guild and couldn't believe my luck that no one else had scooped it up before me.  The book was written in England and published in the USA and the Bibliography is right at the front, which is a bit unusual, but it is a great reference when looking for more detail.

In the Foreword the author refers to 'Greek Lace' and 'Ruskin Linen Work' as being the same thing.  As luck would have it a donation of 'Greek Lace' arrived at the Guild at about the same time as I bought this book and there is a resemblance but I think this work looks more Italian. The Greek Lace isn't quite as 'flowing' but the picots have 3 knots in both types of work.   It is almost as if Ruskin Lace uses both sources to develop it's technique.

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There is a lot of good hands on information on techniques here and I would like to reproduce a sampler to add to my collection.  (I usually stitch one sampler a year.)

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However the sixteenth - Century Italian sampler of cut work (Reticella) fillings, motifs and needlepoint edging is out of the question.  Fancy calling this a sampler!  Can you imagine how long it would have taken to stitch? 

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Gathering Strands

As the "Quandamooka Festival" begins there are a number of exhibitions and activities being held in the Redland's Council area to co-incide with this event.  So, I headed off to the local gallery to have a look at what was being presented.  The gallery is located in the Council Building in Cleveland and at the entrance this sign has been erected.

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My grandfather taught me to respect aboriginal people and their culture when I was a child.  Back then this was very unusual.  There was a strict divide between European and Indigenous peoples.  He told me not to believe all the things that I was being told at school.  He had many aboriginal friends who he admired and loved.  So to see this sign displayed in such a prominent place and the sentiments printed there would have made him very happy.

The exhibition on show isn't large but it is very significant. The curator of the exhibition, Freja Carmichael wanted to "revive traditional indigenous fibre-making practices in South East Queensland, while also challenging accepted ways of curating through an intensive community engagement and consultative approach." (quote from foreword of catalogue.)

In a display case at the front of the exhibition was a basket that had been collected back in the early 1900's from this area and now resides in the collection of the Queensland University.  It is quite beautiful.  When you look into it the skill of the weaver shines through even today. 


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The even twist of the twine, the way the basket is constructed and the artistic talent that has been put into this piece. 

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It shows someone who was very experienced in the treatment and use of the materials and had outstanding skill. 

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This was not just a woven basket but a work of art. There was another old dilly bag on display and it too was beautifully made.

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An account from one of the residents of Mingerribah says that:

"The baskets were made from rushes growing in the swamps.  Suitable rushes were selected by an experienced aboriginal woman skilled in the craft of basket making.  All aboriginal girls were instructed in the art.  It noted that the rushes so gathered are white at the base of the stem where they join the root, which was followed by a red section of the stalk and the remainder of the rush being green.....When the rushes were collected in sufficient quantity for the task contemplated, the rushes were seasoned by being placed on sheets of tea tree bark and place on the grassed area under the deep shade of a Moreton Bay Fig."

I am so glad that today's weavers are rediscovering the skills of their grannies.  It would be a priceless skill lost if they didn't and we would all be worse off for it's loss.  This is an exhibition well worth seeing.

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'Yura Yalingbila', Welcoming the Humpback Wales by Sonja Carmichael.


Home furnishing

I have been busy sewing curtains for my newly renovated home.  Well, not really sewing, altering curtains is more like it.  My eating area is in a bay window and has a lovely view out over the water that I look at whilst having breakfast.  It also catches the morning sun which can be so bright that it drives you out of this area.  

Then occasionally, the next door neighbours visit their holiday home and they have this huge TV that throws light through this window.   I played around with hanging block out curtaining but this was too heavy.  I actually settled for a light weight fabric that cut out the sun and glare.  It can still be hot but the sun moves to another position fairly quickly so this is not a problem.  As luck would have it I found some ready made curtains at Ikea. (I  have to reset the hems and sew in the pinch pleating.)  That is after I drove 1 1/2 hours to buy the curtains and rails and then drove 1 1/2 hrs back again and then struggled onto the ferry with 3 metre long curtain rails.  Luckily my husband was able to hang them for me. 

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At one point in my varied career I was employed as a Soft Furnishing Buyer for a department store.  Part of my responsibilities was managing the workshop that made the soft furnishings and this included the making of curtains.  We made curtains for theatre's though to humble bed sits and I quickly learned that you need weight in the hems to get those curtains to hang well.  A lot of ready made curtains have skimpy hems on them.  Luckily for me my curtains had to be shortened and I was able to put a double hem 5 inches wide on them.

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I also want to hang them in the guest bedroom and the second bedroom that are both in the new extension.

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  You don't really need curtains, there are thick trees just over the back fence, but I think that guests will feel happier with them there. 

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In all cases I want to have the curtains pulled back for most of the time so I have used the excess fabric from the hems to make tie backs.  I am now eagerly waiting for my new furniture to arrive.  The bedroom furniture is due this week.  I hope the delivery man has an off-sider because he needs to get one set upstairs and there is no way I can help.