Category Archives: Inspiration

Special Potter Fabrics open morning

Hello everyone in Perth, Western Australia!

This Saturday is the Burda StyleClub Potter Textiles special opening.

Potters is the retail outlet of a designer fabric wholesaler, and the treasures in the shop are the stuff of whispered conversations. If you’ve never been, this is your chance.

The shop is usually open only weekdays 10-4pm, but Simon has agreed to open it up for Burda StyleClub Perth members and friends for a special Saturday morning, Saturday 9 August, 9am-12pm.

Tell your friends! As well as fabric off the roll, there are great tubs of remnants of the most inspiring kind. The prices for exquisite silks, linens wools and beautiful prints and wovens are very, very good.

There’s also a very nice deli a quick stroll up the road for a post-fabric-purchase cuppa and chat.

The shop is at 3 Auckland Street, North Perth. There’s no sign, but it’s next to Del’s Autos.

If you happen to have some clothes made in Potter fabric – wear them!


Conquering a fear – trousers

elizabeth's_avatarI made a pledge at the beginning of last year not to buy clothes I could make.  This is easy enough for dresses, tops and skirts.  Doable for knickers, although bras are another proposition, and something of a challenge with knit fabrics.

But!  I gritted my teeth, fitted a stretch needle, found a lovely pattern and did it.

Trousers, with a zip fly, on the other hand, were a challenge on another level.  Fortunately we have Sandra, who can do these things with her eyes closed.  (I’d be prepared to put money on it, but she’d be shy)

So, with her patient and intuitive instruction I have a pair of recognisable jeans.

The only real difficulty came with trying to sew the waistband.

The denim I’d chosen is rather heavy – I liked the colour – and six layers of top-stitching was beyond my Janome.  But Sandra has an impressive Singer that handled it without complaint.  Likewise the buttonhole.

I’ve not worn them yet, it’s too hot, and there’s one more touch I’d like to add.  I’ve got a rivet kit, but I need to dig out my leather punch as my awl isn’t up to penetrating the four layers at the corner of each pocket where a rivet should go.

IMG_1673I have worn these, though.  They’re indigo linen and don’t even crease too badly.

For a hot day at work, they’re chic and cool and go with a lot of my wardrobe.

The linen was also sufficiently light that I had no trouble with the waistband or buttonhole.

The pattern I’m working off is a much-adapted block.  It’s flattering to my body shape with wide legs and a yoke back.

It translated very well to these:


Doesn’t everyone need ridiculous trousers?

The fabric is drill from LargeCraftandFabric chain store which I couldn’t resist.  Sadly, not much seems to go with them, but they do make me smile!

Waste not

elizabeth's_avatarIt’s been bothering me for a while the amount of scrap fabric I produce that isn’t big enough to be useful.  Some of it can be composted but a lot can’t, so it goes to landfill.  When you consider the resources that go into producing fabric (water, labour, petrochemicals and so on) this is an appalling waste.

But what to do?

Ignore the cat, it has no patienceHere’s one idea.  Take a remnant of upholstery fabric and cut six equally sized squares.  In this case about 5ocm x 50cm.

Sew the first two together using a basting stitch, then insert a zip along this stitch line and pull out your basting, making sure the ends are secure.

Then sew the rest of your squares together in a hopscotch arrangement to form the top, sides and bottom of a square.  Overlock your seams to make them strong.

Open the zip and turn your square around the right way.  Proceed to fill it with your fabric scraps until it is full and you have a footstool.

Try to keep the cat off the work in progress…

Sewing the everyday

elizabeth's_avatarHere’s a thought:  have a look around your house and see what’s sewn fabric.  Not just clothes and cushions, but things like tea towels and pot holders.  Then have a think about how much we need these things, and how much value we place on them.  They are two different thoughts.

It used to be that young girls would spend their teenage years carefully sewing pillowcases and nighties and baby clothes and tea towels  and table cloths (usually with cross stitch).  These would be put away in a hope chest or glory box to be hauled out when she got married and set up her own home.

Then mass-manufacturing and Women’s Lib (which is a great thing, don’t think I’m saying otherwise) happened and this sort of everyday sewing just… stopped.

It’s easy to go to GreatBigChainStore and buy the things we need, but then we don’t tend to appreciate them.

IMG_1396This cotton duck was on the clearance table at $6 a metre, then 40% off, so the three metres I bought (the lovely sales lady gave me the remaining 50cm on the roll just to get rid of it) cost me $10.80.

I started off measuring careful right angles, then I realised that tea towels just need to be absorbent.  They don’t need perfectly even hems, so I fired up the overlocker and whizzed up 14 tea towels (adding ribbon loops at one corner) in about 20 minutes.  They work perfectly and I’m pretty sure no one else has this design.

IMG_1404Then there are those scraps that are too big to throw away, but not quite big enough to make anything.

This pure wool tweed was a remnant from Potter’s.  It was big enough for me to make a Sherlock Holmes-style deerstalker hat (every gentleman should have one), a pencil skirt, AND three pot holders.

They’re simply folded (one of them is four layers, the other two are three layers) to make them thick enough to insulate the holder’s hand from the lava-ously hot pot, then sewn together in a spiral so they hold their shape.  Again, I whizzed through the overlocker so they don’t fray.

The only downside is that, because they’re wool, if they get grotty, they need to be handwashed.

While I never had a glory box, I now have household necessities that I really appreciate.

The fairy godmother project

For an unbaptised atheist, being asked to be a godmother was, well, rather a surprise.  But since the child’s parents were quite clear in their expectation that I should lead the child astray (in the nicest, most socially just and politically aware manner), I said yes.

The plan was for the deed to be done in November last year, along with his older brother, but the Catholic Church was a bit busy, what with Christmas approaching, so it got put off.  In the meantime, a  younger brother arrived, so it became a three-for-one deal.

Meanwhile, the christening gown I’d started making, got put away (tiny fiddly pieces cut from lovely silk satin that fairly haemorrhaged silver wisps).

Then the date was set, and the urgency resumed.  With much hand-sewing and very careful ironing, it gone done with a week to spare and posted to the child’s parents.  Except my godchild is nearly two and it didn’t fit.

But it did fit his younger brother.  Best of all, Young Ben didn’t even throw up on it!

Of course it’s not all about the godchild – the fairy godmother needed something sensational to wear.

Purple coating and the most sensational lining ever.  Which, it turned out, was absolutely necessary – the church was absolutely freezing.

And here I am with my Godchild, Will, wearing the fairy godmother jacket, which is the best garment I have ever made.  It fits perfectly, nothing went wrong during the construction and it’s absolutely unique.

Boxer pants meet

Our next meet on Sunday August 19th, has been designated Boxer Shorts day. It’s not obligatory to make them, but if you’d like to, here’s a bunch of patterns and tutorials to consider.

Now, call them boxer shorts and wear them to bed, or tap pants and wear them under skirts, they are easy to draft and quick to sew. I’ve included a few links to tutorials for various styles.

Simple & Modern: these are the easiest to draft and sew.

Sweet & Vintage: scroll down to the circular tap pants and download the PDF. These are a little harder to sew, but have the advantage of no centre front and back seams. And I’m happy to help, once you’ve got the hang of it you’ll never look back.

If you like the idea of the circular tap pants but want a pant that isn’t so full and uses less fabric, I have a draft in an old Women’s Institute book from the 1930’s or 40’s. It’s fabulous.

I also have a few patterns for simple pants and if I rummage around I have a couple of genuine vintage “bloomer” style patterns. (Just like my Nana used to wear, I couldn’t make them without laughing uncontrollably.)

A pair of boxer shorts can be whipped up in no time, so if you haven’t got something more pressing to work on, bring some cute fabric and sort out your summer smalls.


Treasures you don’t expect to find

I love a garage sale – the thrill of the chase, the treasures you find, the ridiculous prices.  This had been in storage for a good many years.  It was dusty and the case a bit dented.






But for $25, how could I lose?  The lady who’d carefully put it into storage also had this:








That is a  box of 28 decorative stitch cams.

Unfortunately, we have some sort of a mix up.






That is both a knee drive controller thingy and a plug that most definitely needs a foot.  There’s no hole for the knee drive and there’s no foot.  It also seems to be missing a drive belt.  Neither can I find a name or serial number.  I’ve googled it and can’t find a picture of it on the interwebs.  For now, it’s the Pinnock Mystery.

I shall take it to the sewing machine repair man and see what can be done.