Summer Smells like …

Garlic!

It has been a long time since I showed photos of our garden, because I’ve been crazy busy with full time work. But it’s time to show off the garlic harvest!

The 2018 garlic harvest

The garlic bulbs this year were smaller, and we decided not to replant any next autumn — we’ll get new bulbs from an organic supplier to freshen up our seed stock.

The leaves on the garlic plants were also really stinky. We fertilised with fish emulsion two weeks before harvest, and there was no rain at all! I decided not to plait up the leaves this year, as a result. Hopefully they will store well like this, once the stems fully dry out.

Here’s where we’ve been drying the garlic over the last week:

Our back verandah — a haven after Spring

Isn’t this a dreamy space? We actually had Spring this year in Sydney — usually we charge straight into humid Summer in September. This year we’re surrounded by colour and bloom. 🌾 đŸŒș

As for vegetable gardening, now that my husband is able to spend more time in the garden, things are looking way more organised!

Our youngest daughter is mad for flowers and has influenced us to plant marigolds in the front of the tomato bed. Such a cheerful addition!

I’ll leave you with two last photos — these ones promise good things over summer!

“Joyburst” Baby Quilt

There’s something wonderful about making a baby quilt.

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Mostly I love this because I can take a creative idea and play about with it, without needing to design for an epic-sized project. And this one I made entirely from scrap!

My inspiration for this quilt was this quilt by Karen Griska. I loved the riotous colour in this quilt and the way the radiating stripes look a bit like crushed peppermint candy!

Whilst I would have loved to recreate that effect, I was working from scrap stash, and there was a bit of a time incentive đŸ‘¶đŸŒ. I decided to stick with a piecing method I’m familiar with — stack and slash.

 

For each pair of blocks I chose two highly contrasting squares of scrap fabric, then I laid one on top of the other and cut diagonally through both blocks. Each seam then joins two contrasting edges together.

Raditing quilt blocks being assembled

After the first couple of blocks I discovered the best angles to use for the radiating lines. The blocks shrunk significantly in size due to the piecing required!

To make the finished quilt large enough to be used as a baby throw quilt I added a bit of yellow gingham sashing, which really made the crazy sunburst blocks pop out.

Close up of the spiral quilting

I quilted this with an all over spiral design, except on the sashing where I used some wonky parallel lines. Would you believe it took as long to quilt the sashing as the whole main body of the spirals?

I love the wonkiness of all the elements in this quilt. I used my darning foot throughout because it’s a fiddle to change it over to my regular walking foot. I even did this for the “straight” lines that divide the quilted sections!

The quilt back, showing spiral quilting details

Once again, the quilt backing is an old flannelette baby wrap that was leftover from when my kids were teeny. I really hope my friend loves the colours! I left my comfort zone in mixing greens, reds and purples together. I do think it came up absolutely smashing!

 

School Reader Bags

Will is now a couple of years into his schooling, and I have been increasingly frustrated by the plastic envelopes he is required to use for transferring items in his school bag. Our school sends notes home in one envelope, readers in another, plus there are two more envelopes for use at school.

I hate using these things! They don’t survive long in the school bag, and I usually reinforce them with cloth tape to stop them falling to pieces.

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The worst thing of all, is they are made of plastic, and there doesn’t seem to be a good reason to use this unsustainable material!

I asked Will’s teacher if I could make a cloth bag for the readers, since the library bag is cloth. She said yes — as long as it is waterproof! Apparently the children often get their readers wet because their drink bottles leak in their bags.

Alright, I can understand that. So I just needed to interline my cloth bags with something water repellant.

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Nylon rip-stop fabric

I happened to have some nylon rip-stop fabric that came home from preschool one day last year, so that was a quick and easy solution. This fabric is the stuff they make modern camping tents out of, I think, so I figured it would be water repellant enough.

Working with the nylon was a right PITA because it was so slippery. However, I used my walking foot, which helped, and I chose to make a simple bias-bound edge on my bag. This meant I could sandwich my layers together and create the structure of the bag in one go.

No need to turn anything inside out!

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The zippers are pulled out of old items: William’s came off a handbag that had disintegrated, Evie’s from a skirt that I cut up for my sister’s wedding quilt top. It is an invisible zipper, but it actually works pretty well regardless! I used a regular installation method to make it sturdy. 🙂

The rest of the materials were all bits I had left over from other projects. You might recognise the fabric from Will’s pyjama shorts, or the napkin fabric I used for my Christmas crackers! 😀

I have to say, I couldn’t have made such a professional looking job of the zipper installation without referring to ikatbag‘s wonderful tutorial series, Zip-A-Bag. LiEr does an exceptional job of explaining how to do things with zippers, and bags in general. If you are a Maker, I can’t recommend this site enough!

Overall I am delighted with these bags — cheerful fabrics go a long way to encouraging some interest with the readers within. Of course, the kids love them too!

 

“Summer Trip” Baby Quilt

I have a brand new niece!

This occasion calls for a brand new baby quilt, of course.

This quilt is a scrappy Trip Around the World, which I’ve been pinning for *ever* on Pinterest.

The backing is an old flannelette baby sheet of Evie’s that just matched so perfectly!

Isn’t the texture delicious?

The quilting consists of cheerful daisy motifs that pop up out of their spiral centres. I stippled the background to emphasise the flowers, and really exercised my new Free Motion Quilting (FMQ) skills.

I’m delighted with this quilt! Not bad for my first real FMQ on a proper sized quilt, huh?

I think it is serendipitous that my niece is called “Summer” — this quilt is just so perfect!

Happy Birthday, baby girl. May your future be a riot of colour and fun!

Rowany Festival Garb 2017

Have you wondered why it has gone quiet on the blog these last few weeks? I needed to get a *lot* of new garb made for Rowany Festival 2017!

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From top left we have:

  • Three smaller child tunics (for Will, Evie, and Evie) and a teenager tunic (Izzy)
  • Another teen tunic (Izzy) with a viking Kaftan; a viking serk for me, and a blue apron dress (with Viking bling!)
  • The same dress with the birka tablet woven belt I made, my own kaftan, a second natural linen apron dress (designed to go over a white serk, which I didn’t have time to make); a pink tunic for Evie.

In total, this represents 11 completely new garments from scratch!

Some of the tunics are more authentically created than others. Isobel’s yellow tunic, for example, was flat-felled by hand.

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Detail of hand felled seams

However, by the time I got around to Will’s new green tunic, I was giving him sewing lessons, so we finished this tunic on the overlocker (serger). He sewed most of the seams himself (sitting on my lap)!

My apron dresses have the back straps meeting towards the centre:

The natural linen coloured one has hand-sewn top hem and flat-felled seams.

I wanted to recreate the Haithabu Harbour dresses here, so the top of the dress is quite tight (I had to take the red mannequin apart to get the thing on over her hips!). The blue dress feels about right, but needs the back darts to be added. I may take the dresses in above the waist to make them more fitted, as the flare begins right up at the top hem.

Here we are enjoying festival in our new gear! (Hats were not made by me — but they are so awesome!)

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Teddy Clothes

This year Evie asked me to make her teddy some clothing, as a present for her birthday.

This material just begged to be made into something sweet for Evie, as it has all her favourite things: pink colours, gold sparkle and some busy geometric shapes. I can’t even begin to describe the squeeee moment I had when I finished this dress for teddy.

It is beyond cute.

To manage this mischief, I kidnapped teddy for a while and got to work with some paper: gradually cutting away shapes and fitting around teddy’s floppy narrow neck, and working out how long to make the back straps.

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The one button on the back fastens the skirt and the straps together in one.

I made a second dress using the same pattern, using some leftover fabric from a top I’d just made for me. With this dress I used two buttons so that the dress could be reversible!

Pixie in the Garden

With all of these posts lately about sewing and handcrafts, have you been wondering how things are going in our garden?

img_4224All of the summer veggies are finished up, so we’ve pulled out the zucchini plants and the straggly tomatoes. In their place we have some self-sown Zinnias, plus seedlings of tomatoes and some cucumbers. Maybe the warm weather will allow us to get a second cropping.

Can you see the pixie?

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There she is! A very cheeky pixie. 😀

I’ll leave you with a couple of shots of our garden produce, both in the soil and on the kitchen bench!

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T-tunic Seam Reviews

Hello all!

I have a photo fiesta for you today, showing the various types of seam treatments I have used inside the humble SCA T-tunic. This is a basic medieval garment that is worn as underwear or layered for warmth.

The T-tunic is made up of various rectangles and triangles that fit together in complicated ways. I like to use a square underarm gusset, which makes assembling each tunic a little like folding origami, mixed with thumb wrestling.

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Flat tunic showing square underarm gusset

When the side seams are finished, the square gusset appears as a triangle and has plenty of “give” to allow the arm to move freely up and down.

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Gusset fully sewn

Over the years I’ve used a bunch of techniques to finish the insides of the tunic. Here are some details with my thoughts!

Overlocker / serger

This is the quickest method by far, but does not wear very well, especially in a child’s tunic. My tunics double up as winter nighties (the ones made of flannelette, anyway) and so they get a *lot* of wear.

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A well-loved flannelette tunic

Gussets: Easy to do

Gores: Need to hand sew the point before serging, but it can be done — with practice.

Straight stitch with zig-zag edge

This is just like the serger, except that you must sew the seam and then tidy the edge in two separate passes, so it takes a little longer.

The benefit here is that my sewing machine makes a sturdier straight seam than my serger, so the garment stays together better. Is is also easier to sew a curve, or make an adjustment before finishing the edge of the seam.

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Zig-zag seam finish

It looks pretty yuck on the inside, though.

Gussets: Easy to do

Gores: Yep, no worries.

Flat-felled

Flat-felling the seam requires a straight stitch seam, then some trimming, some folding, pressing and finally hand-sewing the edge to the main fabric of the garment.

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Flat-felling showing gores and the underarm gusset (top-left)

Benefits? Pretty darn good-looking on the “good” side of the garment. Very hard-wearing seam, and probably the reason this was very commonly used in medieval times.

Downside: Lots of work, really. It’s fiddly! I have trouble with hand-sewing these days, so this is becoming a major factor for me.

Gussets: More difficult. You need to decide which way to fell the seam (left? right?) and be consistent. I choose to fell away from the gusset.

Gores: Yep, no worries — this is the best way to do gores, really. So medieval. Love.

Pressed open with edges overcast hemmed

This is like flat-felling, except instead of trimming one edge and folding over to one side, you fold and hem both sides.

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Pressed open and hemmed

Twice as much hand-sewing. OUCH.

This is also not as sturdy a seam as the flat-felled variety. So why would you do it? It is Super Pretty!

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“Good side” view

No, really. It is. I did this for a teen-sized tunic (see above), and it looked so beautiful I did it on a kirtle with 8 gores. Never. Again.

Gussets: As easy to do as regular zig-zag edge, because both edges fold away from the seam.

Gores: Mmmm, it is a fiddle to do it, but I have. It is a pretty big fiddle, actually.

French Seams

My favourite is the French Seam because it requires hardly any hand sewing, but it looks absolutely superb on the inside.

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French seams showing the inside view of the gore and gusset

The French seam sews wrong sides together first, you press, trim and enclose the first seam allowance and then sew another seam to finish.

This is a bit of a fiddle to execute but looks so tidy on the inside! It requires you to be more focussed, or it is easy to forget to sew wrong sides first. Intersections are no trouble unless you are in the gusset area, in which case, get your thinking hat on.

It also gives a medieval-looking finish on the outside, which is important to me with re-enactment.

The main down-side here, is that you can’t really use this technique with a very bulky fabric, like a thick wool. It works just fine on medium weight linen, and lighter weight fabrics.

Gussets: If you are good with spatial stuff, you can do this much like on a serger, just remembering the two steps to finish each seam as you go. You need some patience, and probably some scribble paper to work things out. One day I might write this up with pictures. It is very hard to explain without doing!

Gores: I just worked out how to do this. I will have a tutorial coming soon! In short: don’t sew all the way to the point. Then flat-fell the point of the gusset. You can do it! 😀

Teeny Tiny French Seams

I made another pair of City Gym Shorts as a birthday present for my eldest. Happy Birthday Izzy!

This time I decided to try finishing the seams with the teeniest tiniest French seams you can imagine. And it worked!

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I am a big fan of French seams because they are very quick to sew (provided you are paying attention and put the wrong sides together the first time around!) and they produce a very tidy finish on the inside, that is comfortable to wear.

Particularly for little shorts!

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I used a 1/8th” seam to sew the crotch pieces together and then sewed the second seam at a generous 1/8th” (maybe closer to a scant quarter inch) to finish.

The very narrow seam allowance meant I could turn the curved part of the seam on itself without clipping. Worked a treat!

Weaving with a Temple

My husband laughs at the terms I use in weaving. “You’re sleying the reed?? How is that even a thing?”

Well, now I’ve started using a “temple”! 😀

This is a device that forces the width of the woven piece to match up correctly with the “dents” in the reed (haha, there I go again). This stops the selvedges and edge warp threads from crowding inwards, and keeps the piece at the width that I want.

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Selvedges (red threads) are clipped to hanging weights

Mine is improvised from fishing sinker weights and some curtain clips I had lying around after putting up my Ikea curtain rods.

Every inch I weave, I re-clip the temple right up next to the weft threads.

Everything is now so straight and even! And I’m no longer breaking the edge warp ends because the metal reed is no longer rubbing them so hard.

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Sideways view of the weights

Each selvedge is weighted sideways with three of my new fishing sinkers (each one weighs 4 oz, or 115g). I am loving these! Ever since I tried them on my Birka tablet woven piece, I’m finding applications for them everywhere.

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Floating selvedges are weighted using fishing sinkers

This warp is going to make a pair of viking leg wraps, and so is not very wide (just shy of 3 inches). I’m thinking I may need more weight on a wider piece, but I will have to wait to test my theory until the next warp.

Which might be a twill colour gamp? Or a wider piece for making into a viking hood? I am feeling deliciously full of want-to-weave projects at the moment. 😀