Sunday, September 14, 2014

If the Shoe Fits...Make your own Patchwork Shoes!

I've always wanted some patchwork shoes and I found my old espadrilles gathering dust under the bed and thought why not give it a go.

Here is my attempt for you all if you want to have a crack. This took me about 1.5 hours.

What you will need:

A pair of espadrilles in your size. I got mine in Spain years ago, but the ones with the proper coiled sisal sole are the best that are stitched and not glued together. Look under your bed, you might already have some. This would work equally as well with espadrille wedges or sandals too.

Some fabric scraps. I used my 2 inch squares from my pre-cuts and stitched them together.

A remnant of Ticking or other heavy cotton or canvas for the lining

Thick cotton thread and normal sewing thread,

Sewing machine

A hand sewing needle for basting and one long sharp one for the sewing of the shoe to the sole.

Usual kit of scissors, snips, pins etc.


1: Gather your supplies.


2: Unpick the uppers from the soles and press flat. This will become your pattern. Mark your Left and Right so you know for later.



3: Sew, make, salvage your patchwork for your uppers. Depending on the size of your shoes you may need more or less than what I made. Use your unpicked uppers as a guide.


4: Using your uppers as a pattern cut your pieces for the tops and lining leaving a 1/4 seam all around.

5: Stitch your linings to your uppers on the top edge of the shoe using a 1/4 inch seam. Turn out and press seam to the lining.
Under stitch the seam to the lining close to the edge. With your main front shoe piece clip the curves before turning to right side.

6: Top stitch upper edges 1/4 inch from edge. Press.
7: Trim and true up your pieces against your original pattern pieces. Baste stitch 1/4 on remaining raw edges holding lining and upper together.
Over cast your raw edge of heel piece at narrow sides.

8: Stitch the heel piece to the front piece at side edges. Use your original pieces as a guide. I top stitched through all layers to do this.

9: You now should have 2 uppers that look a bit like this.
10: Press your basted edge to the wrong side using your basting stitching as a roll line. Hand tack this edge down and ease your curves in. Do not skip this, this makes stitching your shoes together easier.

11: Pin your uppers to your soles with the pins vertical through all layers. Match your center fronts to pointiest part of front of sole. 

12: Using your sharp long eyed needle and your thick cotton thread blanket stitch your uppers to your sole. I used the old thread holes as a guide from the original stitching.  My stitches were about 7mm apart.
You want to stitch in an upwards motion catching about 3mm from the edge on top through your basted seam allowances into the edge of the sisal sole.
Start at your inside edge near your seam.
When done, pull out tacking threads.


13: I did a little cross stitch on each corner of the uppers for some detail. Purely optional.

14: You should now have some fancy feet. Enjoy!





Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Urge to Purge...

Since moving my business to a new studio I have had loads of stuff to sort out. (kind of an embarrassing amount of stuff)
My original studio was also a building we used for storage before it was opened up so we had boxes of things stored there as well as we traveled so often.
We have been renovating and trying to sort things out for the house and I have been sorting stock piles of things out of the studio.
My thought process on this all was if I couldn't re-use it, re-work it, find a new home or good use for it, it had to go.

I have given away a good two thirds of my clothes. And it was funny as the ones I said goodbye to were all the freebies and samples I had from working in the clothing industry. They were not the best quality and many had after a few washes become a bit saggy, faded or just looked tired. A really sad state of the quality of clothing made for the Australian market. So off they went to the op shop or I sold the better overseas samples on ebay. The clothes I have kept are ones I have bought or made myself that are good fabrics and fits that are for my style of dressing quite timeless. Mind you I do live in jeans and t-shirts but they are good jeans and good quality t-shirts.
I have jeans from a European brand that I have worn consistently for 3 years that still look great compared to ones from here that died in a few months...thats another blog post....

So I have been re-thinking so much of my 'stuff'.

All my piles of little scraps went into my postage stamp quilt. That emptied 3 archive boxes.


I re-purposed some cutter quilts for our new arrival of Fritz the rescue greyhound. A quilt coat and doggy bedding. I also cut up a queen size futon we used to have for the back of our old Defender 4 WD that we took camping into some dog bed loungers.

Emptying box after box of quilts, tops and other odds and ends I have stock piled away for a rainy day I had to start making some decisions. Keep, fix or let go.
I have consolidated down sets of blocks I said I would stitch together and finish off but have listed them for sale for someone else to enjoy. My old timber fruit boxes have been turned into display boxes for all my pre-cuts. If unpack something and if its to stay it needs to have a purpose.
I've even found ways of reworking shoes.
I did a chop on a pair of boots that were the wrong length for me into ankle boots and a pair of sandals with ties made out of left over scrappy binding I had made into a ball of braid for gift wrap ties.

I have aired the quilts, mended patches and worked out what to do with some around the house. I have made 2 doona covers and pillow cases out of antique linen damask table cloths - THESE ARE DIVINE to sleep in. So gave everything else but the Sheridan to the opshop.
But my favorite solution was to make a slip cover for our timber bed head from a vintage quilt. It was easy and I didn't cut the quilt so if I don't like it anymore I just take out the hand stitches I made into the binding I turned int to place.
I have been knitting like a crazy person getting through piles of yarn. Fritz got a coat and a snood. I have a few jumpers and scarves and I am knitting some blankets for my new twin nephews. So I am on a bit of a rampage. All this from 'stuff' I had on hand in my stash. I have been designing with what there is to make the best use of it. It's a good challenge for the brain.






I am feeling lighter that I don't have so much stuff weighing me down. We have cleared out so much in the house that you hear a slight echo through the floor boards. There is even a 'spare' room again. I am feeling a sense of achievement that I have been able to get on top of all this. It's weird when I was working all the time I didn't have the time to do all this. Now that I have taken a step back from commercial design work I have the mental space to clear out all this clutter that was piling up as I was too busy to think about it....also too busy to make better choices about things.

I feel good, happy and some of my creative mojo is returning after feeling quite burnt out by commercial work. Also that I have been able to do so much with the 'stuff' and others have scored in the process. I have also looked at out consumption of 'stuff' and we have curbed and rethought so many things. We were always quality over quantity people but now we are thinking even more carefully about everything that is brought into our home. It's amazing how often I have said in the past few months - we don't need this. I don't need this. It's good to let go.









Monday, August 18, 2014

Trying Something New...Accuracy...

I'm not the most 'accurate' of quilters. I'm a bit of a bang it together kinda girl.
But there are some designs that call for accuracy or you are going to be tearing your hair out.

On Saturday I spent the day at the new studio of Jo Lawrence. Made Studio Textiles in Cheltenham.
An absolutely amazing place. If you are down that way you really should pop in the next time there is an open studio or workshop.

Jo is a killer quilter especially in the 'accuracy' department. And with all the winner rosettes pinned on her quilts, this is a lady you can learn a lot from.  But the whole thing about 'Made' is Jo is sharing her skills, tips and tools to making really tidy quilts and doing them in less time. Now for me, this is a whole new ball game.

A while back Jo gave me some of her new paper piecing templates. They were hexies. I cut out a pile out of Liberty but just never got around to starting it off. I knew what I was going to do, (heh heh, more on that later) but just never took the first step to putting it together so I never used the papers. Every time I ran into Jo, she asked me how I was going... it wasn't. I have always had a bit of a mental block with hexies ever since my horror year 9 textiles class.

As i've been sorting things out in the studio I came across another one of my 'boxes', yes I have 'boxes' that have future projects in them or half started ones that I need to keep adding to to get the right amount of stuff together. This box had a pile of cut diamonds from the 1940s from a stash I picked up a few years back. I always thought i'd make a scrappy star out of them, but I was dreading trimming, marking and hand sewing them together. Box goes back on shelf...keep going...

But, the light bulb moment hit me on Saturday, I can use these nifty new no sew paper templates!! So I gave it a go. I must say, if I can do it and get really neat results anyone can do it and it was quick.

The packs have really good instructions in them and plenty of tips on how to use the templates for the best results. And they are reusable too. In about 20mins I had 100 little diamonds ready to go. Please keep in mind with these photos that I was using diamonds that I had found that were from the 1940s so the shapes are a little different. But I got an acrylic template as well if I need to cut some more later down the track.

This is a very quick rundown on just one of the methods you can do with these templates. And there is a huge range that you can get and mix and match to do very complicated designs too. Jo is adding ones to the range all the time and you can order it all online. So if you want to try something new, Jo will be at the Eastern Quilt Show as well in September and she will be doing demonstrations of some of these techniques. If you want more in-depth info check her website www.madestudiotextiles.com and see when the next workshop is. Trust me there is so much more you can do and the machine shortcuts are cool. I'll give that a crack once i've got through this lot. So at this stage i'm whip stitching my little heart out.

The Made Studio Textiles Templates 
My bundle of found 1940s diamonds
Position template shiny side up

And carefully iron the edges over
Lookie Lookie, its done!
100 in no time

My first neat and ACCURATE diamond....





Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Trunk Show Saturday 16th August @ Made Studio Textiles

The next Trunk Show is on this Saturday the 16th of August. 10am til 4pm.

It's at Made Studio Textiles in Cheltenham.

"Studio is located directly behind the ‘Kids on Tulip St’ Childcare Centre. Turn into the driveway next to the childcare centre and then take the first driveway on the right, we are located at the end."

Tel: +61 3 9585 1723
Email: info@madestudiotextiles.com
Studio: 19/109 Tulip St, Cheltenham 3192

There is also plenty of parking on the street too.

Some tid bits to get you excited....new yardages in long lengths, vintage quilts, tops and other goodies.
This will be the last Melbourne Trunk show til my next buying trip. This is the last of the finds from the trip I did earlier this year.






From the Outside Looking In....

The past few days have been interesting to say the least.
Perhaps this is the continuing of my story.
As an adult adoptee I am trying to make connections with my birth family. Early on in this search things were not good, but lets just move on from that.

I met my little sister. She is 16. She has her smarts about her and I am so glad for that.
She wants to goto Uni and study to be a Psychologist. I am really happy for her.
Ever since I briefly met her 6 years ago I have been wondering how she is and how she is going. She was a little brown haired girl playing on a scooter caught up in a family melodrama. I kept tabs on her through our brother. But for other disjointed reasons he was not always in the picture in her home life.  Things were really confusing for her then. She was too young to understand what was going on and things were not openly explained to her. She didn't even know my real name.

I had 16 years of her life to catch up with, she had 40 something years of mine.
Here I am, her oldest long lost sister. I am old enough to be her mother and then some. Looking across from her at the table I kept trying to work out if there were any similarities. From looking I couldn't see, but later when we took 'selfies' of our meeting I could then see it. I never thought I looked like our birth mother, but she thinks I do. I don't even really know how I look, from all the looking there is not much seeing.


It was really, really strange trying to describe who I was to her.
How do we perceive ourselves? I thought about it, how would I describe myself? I haven't had to do this before. I can relay the physical things but what about the other things. From the outside looking in, who am I?

I remember a letter my best friend gave me when I got married. She wrote a speech just incase. But I have never been a fan of speeches so she slipped it to me a few days later when we caught up for coffee.
She said I was loyal.
Other people say I am generous.
Many say creative.
Lately people thank me and tell me how inspirational I am. This is something I am adjusting to. I have never seen myself in this way. I just do what I do. I don't follow anyone but my own nose and see where it takes me. I am lucky that way, I have been called a leader because of that.
Other words have been 'strong' and 'brave', again, this is from the outside in.
I am adjusting to the fact that others see things I don't.

She knows bits of my life via our brother. He had this knack of always ringing me when I was overseas. 'Sorry dude, can't chat i'm in LA, this call will cost us a fortune'.
She asked me where I had travelled and what was the best place I have been. I run my own business and I love it, I made it up from this idea I had and followed it through and it grew. I felt pompous telling her these things. It's not until you are asked that you sometimes struggle to come up with the answers. I didn't want to sound like some sort of arrogant twat. But gee, its hard to slot 5 descriptives of yourself in, try it, not easy.

But here are some other things that are easier... I have a temper and I don't tolerate fools well. I will give you three goes then you are out. If you are stupid enough to cross me you are dead to me for life. I can rant and rave and be very black and white on some issues then just as irritating can be very grey. I am reclusive and a tad antisocial. I can argue points to the death and don't let up. I have darkness that sometimes out weighs the light. I can be a real complicated shit sometimes.  My mum reminds me about my bad points quite often but has said I have 'calmed down' in recent years.
So why is it that we can describe the not so good things about ourselves but we struggle to come up with the good things?

So I am still trying to join the dots of my life, of who I am and my identity. So far none of the birth family on my biological mothers side I have met I can relate major parallels to. There is no one in there that has the same creative drive that I do. So the splinter keeps gnawing at me. That it could be my father. Are there other brothers and sisters? Who knows.

One of the things my sister said which I thought was very profound about this whole situation is that everyone would be far better off if our mother just told the truth about everything. No more lies and no more secrets. I agree. It would be easier and a relief for all of us. But that is for her to work out and come to terms with...As I do exist. I'm not an accident to be brushed under the carpet and forgotten about.

But the longer this goes on the less chance I have of finding things out. We have just recently found out that our biological grandmother has been admitted to a nursing home with dementia. She is the only other person who knows who my father is. She falsified my birth records and holds much of the puzzle pieces but will not talk. Now she might not even remember. And if she does, he might not still be alive.

I view all of this situation like a house top strippy quilt. There is the centre square of me and there are all these strips of fabric going around and around creating this bigger and bigger square of this fabric of life. Some are dark, some are light. Some pieces are found others are given to me. Its all joined but it can be equally as disjointed. On polar opposites of the same piece. As we grow we add to this fabric like the rings of a tree. I tend to view many situations like a quilt. A life that is layers sandwiched together. One of stitches holding fragile things together. Saving and finishing. Salvaging and creating a new purpose. Life keeps exponentially growing outwards from the centre and each experience, cut, scar, hurt, joy or happiness is a new patch.

House Top Quilt with Multiple Borders Alabama, 1940s Cotton 86 x 67 in. Collection of Corrine Riley









Tuesday, July 15, 2014

From the Top Down…..Postage Stamp

7,058 Blocks at 1.5 inch, 1 inch finished.
Measures 84 by 84 in, 213 x 213 cm
Sewing Machines - 4
Sanity - Pretty good, better now i've opened a bottle of red.

I've been asked quite a lot of questions as to why I decided to do this quilt.
And I have many varied responses.

Firstly I love postage stamp quilts. Ever since I fell in love with scrap quilts while travelling in the USA I have always wanted one. But they have always been out of my reach costing a pretty penny. I also have this strange 'thing' that it must cross my path. I find if I go and buy something from a shop it loses a little of its meaning to me as its too easy. Part of what I do with all this fabric collecting is finding it, its part of the enjoyment of what I do. If I just walked in and bought it it wouldn't be as big a part of the adventure of finding, collecting and stashing.

I have loads of scrap. Off cuts, left overs, damaged bits and pieces and when ever I look at it all I know there are a few quilts in amongst it all, it just needs to speak to me. So I kept stuffing the boxes with odds and ends after every trip and the piles were growing. I also had my jars and when I got a chance between customers I would trim up some scrap and put it in the jar for the best size block for 'future projects'.
I joking said to myself when I sewed the first two patches together on Election day last year that I would have it done by the next election. (If only that was now true) That was the first sewing machine the industrial. (now all sold in the move)

We finally made the decision to move the studio and I knew that it was time to not bring it all with me. I didn't want all these boxes of scrap that I had been stockpiling coming with me to the new space. So while we were building and renovating I took up camp on the kitchen table and started plouging into it all, cutting 1.5 inch blocks. Literally thousands of them. And started the process of chain piecing them together. With the renovations we have been held up, bad weather, council you name it and we are still 5 months behind schedule. So when ever things got annoying it was head down and bum up piecing away. This was machine 2, my domestic Husquvarna. My poor machine died. I wore out the drop bobbin casing so it was time to find a new machine. Moved onto machine 3, my Pfaff saddlery machine. Decided it was more trouble than it was worth trying to chain piece small bits on this one, its slow and heavy and its designed for leather and denim. So the process halted for a while til I got the next machine. Number 4 - Janome 6660 P. So far, ok.

This is not an 'easy' quilt to do. It's easy as in its straight piecing but its hard as it requires patience to stick at it. It is the sort of quilt that can break your spirit. It is at times mind numbing but that can sometimes be a good thing.

Also my quilt it not all that well made. If the quilt police have a close look they will be tut tutting about the fact my seams don't all meet and in places its a bit wonky. But I don't really care too much. As I used fabrics from old quilt blocks some were already off grain from the original maker so there are plenty that are not straight. Also, some days I just didn't give a shit. I just wanted it done. I'm human and by no means a perfectionist. I think trying to get things perfect can take some of the fun out of it.
So, there was no unpicking and if I made a mistake I just shrugged my shoulders, drank more wine and kept going.

I also tried to detrain myself while I did this piece. I had to let the pieces come together where they fell. It was hard not to stick a piece back in the box and grab another that would be more pleasing. I had to make myself not care. As this quilt needs to be completely random. If I tried to plan any of it it would get a strange half pattern appearing and I didn't want that. So the pieces just had to go together.

There is also another side to this quilt. I only work with what I find. So no new materials are in this quilt. Its all found and scrap (the bits that are too small to put into my scrap bags), salvaged bits, apron ties, skirt hems, damaged quilt blocks, unfinished quilt tops, you name it its in here. All from the 1920s to 1960s. I guess its about making something amazing out of things now days we would probably throw away. My backing is going to be made from 1940s kimono linings that are all red cotton. Another pile of fabric I have salvaged from old silk kimonos and tucked away. I will piece in a few other fabrics that I have saved that are sashings off some of the partial quilt tops thats I unpicked to put the old blocks into this one.

This is by no means a designed quilt, if anything is is de- designed. It is a quilt made as purely process with some theory chucked in. It is also a very personal quilt for me as each little piece has meaning. There are bits that are joy from when I found them. Pieces from quilt tops that I have pulled apart to save. It is just one of the quilts I have to make and have in my collection.