Tag Archives: Textile

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.

Shopping Trip – Buying fabric for the bags

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Finally a bit of time to go on a shopping trip to look for fabric for my bag project.

June and I drove to Newmarket right after we dropped off May. I was looking at getting some upholstery fabric for the bags because I wanted something sturdier than the quilting fabric that I usually get.

I have been to these shops before and the fabric selection is amazing. First stop Martha’s fabrics. It is a pretty big shop with a huge range.

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I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking for. I wanted something quite happy and summery but nothing too busy that will compete with my applique pieces. They had a lot of geometric type fabrics at the moment and I thought those would work quite well but nothing really caught my eye.

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In the end I bought this lovely green linen with birds and birdcages on it. This one will be for mum’s present. Mum’s favourite colour is green and as I grow older I am also drawn to it more and more. There is something soothing and comforting in a nice dark green colour. I am planning to make her a bag in the style of the Harrods bag.

Harrod's bag

Harrod’s bag

She has had a bag of this style for as long as I can remember and her current one is beginning to look a little worn out. I’m also planning to make a semi circular coin purse with some of the remnant fabric.

Next I went to AB fabrics. Their selection is a bit more of the flowery and stripes variety but still lots of lovely pieces. If I was making a country style bag, I would probably find something here. They also have a nice children’s selection.

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I almost left the shop empty handed when I came across a vibrant bright blue fabric. Perfect!

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On the way back to the car we popped into the “Wise Cicada” organic food shop and bought a few items for dad’s father’s day present. Dad is a bit of a health fanatic which is great because come father’s day and birthdays, I just need to pop into an organic food shop and buy a selection of interesting organic things and he loves it!

I am so pleased with my finds today.

  • Martha’s Furnishing Fabrics

12 Melrose Street
Newmarket
Auckland

  • AB Fabrics

2/4 Eden St
Newmarket

  • Wise Cicada

23 Crowhurst Street,
Newmarket, Auckland

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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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Making Elephant Hair Clips

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Dearest Sultana,

While I was getting all excited about all the applique pieces I’ll be making for my Christmas gifts, I came across some remnant fabric from June’s winter daster (night gown). It has cute pink elephants as its pattern and I thought this is something easy enough to iron on to some iron on fusible, stitch over heavier fabric and glue onto a hair clip.

Elephant Hair Clips

My two girls are very girly, they love dresses, necklaces, hair clips and all sorts of accessories. And those things are expensive! I mean seriously expensive. A few simple clips can easily top $7! And for something nicer, most are in the $10-15 region. There’s just no way I’m spending so much money on something that with a little effort I can make myself.

My biggest obstacle was finding alligator clips. I thought they should be easily found at any $2 Shop but couldn’t find any. I put this idea on the back burner for awhile but recently stumbled across this awesome webshop (DIY Craft Shop) . And they have everything I was looking for and more. So I got those alligator clips (at a very reasonable price too) and some ribbons. There are an awful lot to choose from.

I readied my elephants, ironed them onto fusing, cut out and free form sewed  them onto some sturdier fabric, cut it out and hot glued onto alligator clips. I lined the clips with ribbon to make them look tidier and so that the elephant will stick better.

Elephant fabric

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That’s it. If I find some other cute designs in my fabric stash I will probably make some more of these. I like how they are so easy and yet one of a kind. I’m planning to make some other styles of hair clips now that I’ve got a good supply of alligator clips.

Here are some flower hair clips. I made these flowers last year for decoration for May’s Princess Birthday Party. I’ll show you how these were made next time I get my hands on some satin fabric.

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Daster – an Indonesian Daydress

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Dearest Sultana,

In Indonesia it is  common for ladies to wear an all purpose house dress called a “daster”.

It is quite dusty in Indonesia so when we get home after spending some time outside the house it is normal to remove our shoes, usually give our feet a quick wash which has the dual effect of cleaning and cooling the feet. Changing out of our dusty clothes into some clean house clothes is the next step. These can be anything comfortable but for ladies and young girls it is common to change into a daster which can also double as nightwear. We often also take a shower after spending some time outside the house. Most people take two showers a day and they are also both cleansing and cooling. It does get awfully hot in that part of the world and the heat is relentless. It is hot all day and all night every night of the year, really in Indonesia there are only two seasons, hot season and very hot season.

When I was young and still living in Indonesia, we rarely used an air conditioner. When I think back now I wonder how we managed it. Although I’ve only been back one since we moved to NZ, I think that it has definitely gotten hotter since my days there.

When my mother in law (I call her mum) came to visit a month ago, it was the middle of winter in NZ. This didn’t stop her from getting inspired to sew some lovely dasters for my two munchkins. My MIL was a seamstress back in the day, she used to be very busy and highly sought after because she was one of the few who sewed in her village (by NZ standards, her village was a proper little city).

So when she asked me if I had any special requests for her to make, I told her that I can buy most things at the shops, but they don’t sell dasters in NZ. She sat down to make some paper patterns and told me how much fabric she needed. I went out to get some, mostly fabrics on sale, soft and light cottons that will be cooling in summer. I also bought some flannel for winter dasters.

Here are the results:

Horses on pink back ground

Horses on pink back ground

She used every last scrap of the horse fabric and managed to get out another little one for June.

Bold red flowers on fresh white background

Bold red flowers on fresh white background

This bold flowery fabric was a real steal, $3/m at 180cm width. I bought 1.5m and mum managed to get out two beautiful dasters for the girls. They look like proper summer dresses! And the fabric is lovely and cool to the touch.

This one was made from left over fabric from other projects.

This one was made from left over fabric from other projects. I love the pockets.

Daster usually has the zip or opening on the front of the dress, so it’s easy to get in and out of. It is only meant to be worn at home, but I think these are so lovely I can get away with June wearing them while she accompanies me when I run short errands near our home.

I think we are all set and ready for summer now.

She also made some winter dasters out of cost flannel and worn pretty much everyday. They get worn again right after they come out of the wash. I think it would have been good if we had another set but winter is almost over… I feel it’s too late for me to attempt another pair.

Mum did leave me basic paper patterns for both girls, maybe I’ll attempt a summer dress. She made it look so easy and gave me some good tips.

I am very grateful to have such a lovely and talented mother in law. She has had a very colourful life with plenty of ups and downs. But she’s an optimist, a survivor and she has such a generous heart. I really admire her spirit.

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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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