Tag Archives: Sewing

Working on the Animal Pouch

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Dearest Sultana,

I am making two animal pouches, one for each of my sisters as part of their Christmas present.

These pouches were inspired by Kajsa Wikman’s animal pouches which you can find at her Etsy Shop. They are also featured in her book, Scandinavian Stitches.

Here’s a picture of some of her animal pouches:

I love her colour combinations.

Her pouches are 15 x 17 cm. Mine will be a bit smaller. I am making mini ones, to store ATM card and a bit of money. Also because they are smaller, my zipper will have to go on the side instead of the top, so it’s easier to get stuff in and out of the pouch.

Last night after the kids have gone to sleep, I took out my fabric stash and started selecting some fabrics for my two pouches. My sisters have quite different personalities.

My middle sister is very feminine, she tends to favour vintage style and soft pinks. So I came up with this, the green and purple backdrop may seem a bit dark, but it gets lightened up with the little pink dress of the bunny. My sister’s chinese animal sign is the rabbit, hence I picked a bunny for her pouch.

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My baby sister has more modern tastes, she likes to keep up with the fashion trends and delights in fresh bright colours. I wanted to give her a pouch with a burst of colour that ties in with the summer and beach theme of the handbag (that I have yet to start work on). Her animal sign is the horse.

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Here they are after I joined up the “wallpapered” back drop. I wasn’t happy with the horse head, so I played around with her a bit more.

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And here’s the finished product:

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rabbitanimalpouch

That horse head still looks funny… I’m happy with the rabbit though and I like the size, just right for a few notes and cards.

Natural Patchwork by Suzoko Koseki

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Dearest Sultana,

Here’s a book I recently got out from the library.

Natural Patchwork

Natural Patchwork by Suzoko Koseki

This was a lovely book about patchwork projects. Her work is quite organic and inspired by nature.

What I like most of it is her use of vintagey fabrics in muted colours. She says that her grandmother disassembled many of her childhood things, clothes, cloth toys, favourite stuffed animals… When I read this I was reminded of my own grandmother who was quite the crafter, she was excellent at dressmaking and always busy crocheting. Even when her fingers became crooked from age, she always had projects going on. And she was so fast! She could make me a bunch of crocheted grapes in under five minutes.

She would sometimes disassemble her own clothes and make them into daster (Indonesian house dress) for me. Even though the colours were rather muted, the fabric was always so soft and lovely to wear.

My own mother also likes to save our old clothes, although, not to disassemble. She only saves the better ones and passes them down. I have a jacket that was once mine and has been passed down to both my sisters and is now worn by May. That jacket has so much memory in it. When May wears it, I sometimes tell her of my childhood stories when I was her age in that jacket.

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I like Suzoko Koseki’s grandmother’s idea though. Instead of soft toys and millions of old clothes taking up precious storage space (I’m a bit of a hoarder), disassembling and reusing these pieces can produce beautiful meaningful new creations with childhood memories intact. I think I might just do that. I will keep a few of the girls better clothes and give the rest a new lease of life. What a clever solution to my storage problem and my hoarding instincts.

Another good tip she gave was when assembling the patchwork pieces instead of cutting the fabric neatly with scissors, snip a bit and tear the rest, this will give it a softer edge which will go nicely with more muted colours. Also, don’t throw away any scrap, everything can be used again. Even thin strips and irregular little shapes. The difficulty in these shapes is what can inspire new creations.

Some great tips in this book, and the whole book sets a sort of nostalgic mood and makes me feel that although vibrant rich new fabrics are definitely great (and drool worthy), there is value in the understated and everyday bits of fabric as well.

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Christmas Gifts – I need a darning foot

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Dear Sultana,

I was all excited about doing some free form sewing for my Christmas gifts. In her book, “Scandinavian Stitches”, Kajsa Wikman makes it sound so simple. One of the things that is needed is a darning foot for the sewing machine. I just assumed I had it because there are a few feet in my machine that I have never used.

So then I had everything set up and ready to go. I put down my feed dogs and started stitching and the fabric won’t move, I had to manually pull it, which can’t be good for the machine. I was beginning to wonder if I missed something. Maybe my machine is different, or maybe a darning foot is something other than the foot I was using (ended up I was using the see through general purpose foot).

So I checked it out on google and true enough, a darning foot is something quite different. It has got a spring to it and is not part of the basic sewing feet kit that I’ve got. So off to trade me, and there were quite a few, I was getting quite confused.

Some more research and I found out that my machine (Brother NX200) is a snap on, lower shank machine and most parts fit this machine. I found the part SA129 and watched a tutorial on it and found the missing part.

Back to trademe and bought it for $22 including shipping. I think that was pretty good, some models can cost up to $50, I think they are more heavy duty.

So, yesterday, it arrived in the mail and I was so excited! Got out my applique pieces. Got out  some scrap fabrics and started practicing. And to be honest I really do need the practice. Steady hands are important. Walk the fabric slowly but step on the pedal hard. So you get lots of stitches on your fabric.

practice makes perfect

practice makes perfect

attempting the strawberries

attempting the strawberries

I drew a strawberry onto paper, then using carbon paper I transferred it onto iron on fusible webbing and fused that onto the fabric so it’s a bit stiffer and easier to handle. I then just free form stitched the leaves onto the strawberries. I’m not so happy with the colours but those are the only green and reds I could find in my stash. I’ll think of some more designs and show you in more details how I went about this in my next post.

Carbon paper and templates

Carbon paper and templates

The technique by Kajsa Wikman is quite a messy look, a bit like a child’s drawing so it’s very forgiving to unsteady hands and allows for going over the design a few times.

Now, I just need a bit of time to start on making my little applique bits.

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Making Christmas Gifts

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Dearest Sultana,

A few months ago I came across a book by Kajsa Wikman it’s called Scandinavian Stitches.

Scandinavian Stitches

I loved this book. Its by a Scandinavian artist who creates lots of simple but adorable fabric products. She uses a lot of free form sewing and her style is bold but naive like a child’s drawing. I love her use of colours and I love that her projects are simple enough even for me to attempt. I love the idea of sewing but I am still at a very basic skill level.

In her book, I fell in love with her animal pouches and the idea of a picture made with scrap bits of fabric sewn free form.

Animal pouch

Animal pouch

I got so inspired that I decided, this year instead of boring vouchers, I’ll make my Christmas presents for mum and my two sisters.

I’ve already decided that I’ll be making syko style animal pouches but in a smaller size, big enough to put some coins and ATM cards for my sisters with their Chinese animal signs on the front (Horse and Rabbit) and for mom a feminine green pouch with a little bird on the front.

Also, because this year we will finally be spending our Christmas holiday together in Kerikeri,  I thought I’d make a summer bag with summer things sewn on the front. I’m thinking, strawberries, ice cream cones, maybe kiwifruit, jandals, ice cold cups of lemon tea and snappers (because there will be “guided kayak fishing trips” by my husband). I am so looking forward to our trip. There will be a huge farmers market to attend, a swimming pool for the girls at the place we’re staying, cocktails by the pool for the aunts and me, fishing for the husband (and the rest of us too of course), exploring Kerikeri, Paihia and maybe Russell. Oh and we’ll be celebrating my birthday there and the husband has promised fresh crayfish for the birthday dinner. (He is busy researching this, fingers crossed.)

I’ll tell you more about the progress of my Christmas presents as I go. I think I’ll start with making the fabric applique bits. I’m really excited about this!

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