Turning Japanese

Today I did something a bit different. A class in Japanese patchwork at Kimono House. A class in hand-pieced Japanese fabric. Hand quilting and piecing, by the way, are things I admire but don’t have much interest in doing big projects in.

But these are cute and you can put them together in units as small as one for coasters or a few for a runner or placemats or a wall hanging or, if you have far more patience than me, a quilt.

I’m going to start with a few and see how things go. These are my two practice blocks from today. I think I’m going to switch to something other than white for the sashiko trim, the white is too stark against the buff tones in the fabrics.



Now that I’ve delivered these to their very patient owner (the lovely Robyn who writes historical romance hence the pretty regency-ish fabrics) as a much belated birthday gift, I can show them off here.

Make-up/jewellery/bits and pieces purses:

These are fun to make as they don’t take long individually, are made from easy to cut rectangles and squares and help perfect your zip techniques. Plus, they’re all based on free internet tutorials (yay for people who post tutorials)!

Back left – Sweet Treat bag by Moda

Back right – Wet bag (ie vinyl lined for anything potentially spilly) from Little Birdie Secrets’ tutorial (First time sewing vinyl which was interesting…may have to order some different kinds online to experiment seeing Oz stores don’t seem to carry much that’s lighter than heavy tablecloth weight…I used a shower curtain.)

Front – Two pouches which are size variations on Rousabout Is Vera Jean’s lined pouch tutorial, which is a very flexible pattern in the size and shapes you can produce.

The fabrics are a quilting weight and I interfaced it for the rectangular pouches.

PS, In true virgo twin freakiness fashion, Robyn had just bought a gorgeous summer dressing gown in very similar fabric lol So now she’ll be all elegant and co-ordinated in the mornings when travelling.

Taking a stab

I did my sashiko (which means little stabs, insert groan at title pun here) class yesterday and it was great.

Sashiko is quite simple but there are some tricks to getting it all to look good, so worth taking a class. I did mine at Kimono House in Melbourne. It’s not worked with a hoop so the tension is important (which effects how you work the stitches/change directions etc hence the handiness of a class). But not being worked with a hoop also makes it very portable. You really only need your thread, material and needle/scissors (and you can precut the threads so you could even live without scissors…so you might be able to take it on a plane perhaps? Will have to check out the Aussie stance on a sewing needle (knitting needles and crochet hooks are no go).

Sashiko designs are stencilled onto the fabric first, then you stitch them. I’ve previously only really done cross-stitch before so it was relaxing just to have to follow the stencil and not think too much. Quite meditative plus easier to do while watching TV or something as it doesn’t require quite as much focus. You make several stitches with your needle at a time (or more than that with a straight line design) so it’s relatively speedy too. I’ll definitely be doing some more!

Here’s my progress to date…


Tomorrow I’m going here to learn how to do this:

(Photo from Handmaiden)

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a sucker for blue. Pair it with white and I’m generally even happier. And I love the simplicity and elegance of Sashiko designs.

So yay! I shall report back.

While we’re in completing mode

Obviously I am productive gal today because, besides finishing my book draft (woot!), I also finished one of the bags from my class.

This is the Hobo by Nicole Mallalieu. It’s a nice easy to put together pattern with some good skills to learn in straps, putting in a zippered gusset (my first go at this) and various pocket options.

The fabrics are both quilting weights from Spotlight (the outer being more blue and green than mostly blue like in these). Looking forward to giving it lots of use.

Strap detail (antique brass-y O rings also from Nikki’s shop) with improving topstitching abilities by me, thanks to Nikki’s tips!

The gusseted zip (which I like a lot, I’m fond of zips for bags).

And a glimpse at my couldn’t-resist-it silly smiling skull and crossbones lining (and zip pocket). Maybe a pirate bag will attract a pirate (hey, a girl can hope *g*).


Had a great time in class* yesterday, despite Melbourne turning on a heatwave (and a blackout for about an hour or so in the middle of our class!). Learned heaps about the tricky bits and finishing secrets for bags (zips, straps, structured bases) and made progress on, but did not finish either of mine, so will have to keep sewing over the next few weeks.

Nikki is a great, relaxed, fun teacher with oodles of knowledge. Hopefully one day I can do one of her longer bag courses.

Given I can’t show off a finished product, here’s a glimpse of a bag in progress.

*I did the one day A Sharper Edge course.


Sorry for the radio silence, I have been uncrafty Mel for a bit while I wrestled with the book and got back into the day job swing of things. But tomorrow I’m off to Brunswick to do a bag class with Nicole Mallalieu (yay!), so have been doing some homework….

Hopefully by the end of tomorrow I’ll have two new bags to show off. Then I have make-up bags to make (sorry, Ms R but I swear they’re next on the list), a quilt to bind (now that it’s turned warmer, I might even be able to use it as my summer quilt if I get organised), socks to knit and a Babette blanket to start as a summer crochet project (in the vain hope that I’ll do all the squares and be able to sew it together when it starts turning cold next year). And I still have yet to make one of the Creepy Cute Ami’s who re-ignited my knitting/crochet yen earlier this year. Plus I’ve signed up to do a Sashiko embroidery class next month at Kimono House. Who knows what that’ll lead to.

Purple, purple oh where for art thou purple

I made my sil a bag. She wanted purple, fair enough it’s her favourite colour. Turns out a good purple is hard to find right now. There’s lots of lavender and mauve and some weird darker warmer…almost yellowy purples, plenty of burgundy but nice deep cool purple was pretty hard to hunt out. Not that hunting through fabric stores is a hardship (though sometimes a danger to the credit card). So note to fabric designers…make with the purple.

Anyway, this is the finished product. It’s the Expandable Tote from U-Handbag. It’s a bit fiddly but turns out really nicely. I think I might have to make one for myself, it’s really roomy if you undo the ties and very cute tied up.

Practical sewing

It’s nice when two hobbies collide. Because of starting with the crochet and knitting again, I have several projects on the go. And a rapidly increasing collection of knitting needles and crochet hooks.

All of which require project bags and storage. Hey, I can make those, thinks me (though okay, I caved and actually bought myself a knitting bag…a lovely Namaste Malibu in Peacock but mostly because I really liked it as a handbag…I have this handbag problem and one of my faves came to a cat induced unfortunate end recently).

So last weekend I did some experimenting. And then I realised that maybe the superknitting sil probably should be the first recipient given she’s gives me good deals on wool and needles and is partly responsible for me taking this stuff up again. She likes dogs and retro prints, and now that Australia Post has delivered them I can reveal:

Knitting needle roll (all circular needle sized)

There’s heaps of knitting needle roll tutorials on the web and I took ideas from a few of them to come up with this one. I’ll probably tweak it a bit more when I make one for me.

And then a couple of project pouches. The rectangular one is also a mash up of some internet tutorials and a Lazy Girl designs pattern I had. I was aiming for a square so need to change the measurements a little. More tweaking when I do it for me. The pyramid purse is based on this free pattern by Nicole Mallalieu. I made mine bigger (from memory a 22 by 40cm rectangle) and the size came out about perfect for a small project like socks with one ball of wool and your circulars. Or a crochet project. After I make some for me, I’m going to try some drawstring project bags too. Small projects like this are great because you can do them in a couple of hours. When you spend a lot of time doing long projects like say, writing novels or making quilts, small fast projects are a good way to get that nice sense of “yay, done”.