My bike, Sophie, has a new leather seat! I just whipped up a seat cover to protect my clothing from any dye that might rub off (and perhaps hide my fancy seat from view). It is just made out of cotton so It isn’t water proof (I have plastic bags for that).

Bike Seat Cover

Bikes on a bike seat cover, teapots on a tea cosy. I guess I have a thing for covers that scream what is inside.

I really enjoy the improvised sewing without a pattern. I think improvised works as long as it doesn’t have to fit something you can’t measure at the time. Yesterday I made a little hat to match the bird dress, but I think it might be too small for the giant baby heads in my life. However, I do have 3 new babies coming in September and October…

I live in Vancouver, land of coffee culture. My stomping grounds have coffee shop after coffee shop. Freshly roasted, organic, fair trade, locally owned, chains. Everyone is after the perfect fix. The most common casual social visit seems to involve “going for coffee.” I don’t like coffee.

In fact, I HATE coffee! I don’t even like the smell. The worst taste in my mouth occurred the day I accidently took a sip of coffee instead of my hot chocolate. Nasty. And it lingered….

As coffee is such a social ritual here in Canada, I decided I needed a hot drink alternative – tea. I have always liked iced tea, but I am not a big fan of hot drinks. I like the tea ritual and drinking it socially, but I don’t think I will ever just make it for myself.

From drinking many pots of tea at Vietnamese restaurants, I discovered tea is best in a tiny cup! If you are drinking from a tiny cup, you will need a teapot. One evening I saw this fabric and knew I had to make a tea cosy!

Quilted Tea Cosy

my favorite side

I put together this tea cosy with a general idea of size and little else. I am not sure if this one is for myself or my sister. My sister is giving me a new teapot so I didn’t have anything to measure so I went on the larger side. The final opening ended up 11.5″ tall and 10.75″ wide at the bottom. It would be easy to modify the method for any teapot size. Next time I would use a smaller bottom strip of fabric.

Tea Cosy Lining

orange lining, hand sewn binding

How I did it…

Read the rest of this entry »

I finally bought a printer so I can print out patterns at any odd time. The first time I made this dress style I had printed out the pattern pieces on a printer that messed with the size. Check the damn scale when they tell you people! Everything was printed slightly small so I used the size 4/5 pieces for the neck/hem for a size 3 dress. This time I had a correct size, but it didn’t make too much of a difference. This time I squared off the yoke corners because I didn’t care for sewing the curve and I don’t think it is that noticeable.

Octopus Dress - Front


This time I put bias tape around the arm holes because tiny rolled hems are EVIL. I just couldn’t get it to happen over the seam. Maybe it is harder with french seams? Once again I used french seams because I think they look and feel great.

I thought I was so cleaver with the bias tape, so of course I messed it up! I thought I could get away with just sandwiching the tape over the raw edge and sewing everything together in one go; some of the raw edge of the dress peaked out. I didn’t notice this until I have done both sides. I am becoming a master seam ripper.

The better way to sew on the bias tape:

  • Unfold the bias tape
  • Pin the bias tape around the armhole with the raw edges of the tape and dress touching, right side to right side
  • Sew together along the crease closest to the edge (for 1/4″ tape it is 1/4″ from the edge). This point is how far the tape will show on the right side.
  • Fold the tape over the fabric like a little sandwich. The back side should meet up with the first line of stitches.
  • Sew down the whole fabric sandwich close to the edge.

That’s it! Sure you have to sew twice, but the raw fabric definitely won’t peak out plus the tape is held down to the very edge on the right side (unless you do it backwards in which case the inside will be nicer – oops! I did that once).

Octopus Dress - Button

Front - Button Detail

I go crazy trying to find good buttons. Whatever colour I am looking for seems to be the only one not available. I ended up going with simple 20mm yellow buttons.

Octopus Dress - Back


I finally finished the epic octopus jacket! I made it for my nephew (2.5 years) to pass down to my niece (7 months) when it gets too small. It is about a size 5, but I think a smaller kid could wear it with the sleeves rolled up. My nephew is big for his age so it will probably fit in the fall.

It was somewhat difficult and time consuming because it was my first time doing a jacket, sleeves, appliqué, collar, lining… you get the picture. It was originally supposed to just be a blue jacket with octopus lining, but after a few people told me they thought the octopus print should be on the outside, I made it reversible.

Next time I would zig-zag (I don’t have a serger) the edges of the curved parts of the sleeve before assembly. I found it awkward and impossible to fully zig-zag the armpit area for the canvas after it was together; I ended up doing sections by hand.

At first I thought setting the sleeves was going to be impossible; the sleeves seemed to have too much fabric. It ended up being simple if you pin the top and bottom first and then distribute each side of the sleeve separately.

Octo Jacket- Blue Front

Blue Front

At first I bought some brown buttons, but I ended up going with the orange with brown edges vegetable ivory (expensive) buttons. I went with two extra buttons for decoration because the blue is quite plain. The octopus wraps around most of the sleeve. It was a pain trying to sew around all those legs!

Octopus Applique

I tried to use very flat buttons so they hopefully won’t be annoying on the inside.

Octo Jacket - Blue Side Open

Blue Side Opened

This printed fabric is so soft, I think it would feel much better against skin then the blue canvas.

Octo Jacket - Brown Side

Brown Side

I only put 2 buttons on the print side. Next time I would put some fusible interfacing between the layers where the buttons go.

Octo Jacket - Brown Side Open

Brown Side - Buttons

Which side do you prefer?

It is time to review the online fabric store Hawthorne Threads. I have placed and received three orders from them so far.

Website: The website is the best I have seen for a fabric store.


Fabric can be viewed by the usual manufacture, designer or collection. There are also several theme categories such as animals, children’s and solids. You can search by keyword.

On top of the regular browsing, they also have a great color search. You can select a color from a color grid or search for coordinates  by color in a specific print.


The fabric swatch pictures are square and a decent size for searching and viewing on the specific fabric pages. I think they just use the standard pictures from the manufacture.  Sometimes a scale will be noted. It would be nice if the scale was always included and additional pictures provided, especially for large scale prints. Sometimes I have to go looking around for additional pictures outside of the site.

Although they do not provide additional pictures, anyone can upload pictures of their handmade items using the fabric. I find it very helpful to see these action shots. The submitted pictures can be linked to your website/store/blog.

Selection: One of the big perks to this site is the large selection of prints. Combining shipping is a big part of getting the best deal when shopping online, so it is great to be able to stuff an envelope with fabric for many projects. However, as the store is popular, many prints sell out very quickly! I had my eye on some fabric coming soon but didn’t jump on it right when it came out (you can sign up for email notifications) and it was sold out in less than a week.

I said they have a large selection of prints, the solids selection isn’t great. They have some Color Spectrum and Free Spirit Designer solids. Maybe these solids are great (I have never tried them), but I find it extremely difficult to pick solid colors from a computer screen. Because of a couple oops solid purchases, I bought a Kona Cotton colour card. Hawthorne Threads does not carry Kona Cotton Solids. Maybe they are just being polite to the solids sellers out there, because a store with a good selections and prices of both prints and solids would probably take a lot of the business away from the predominately solid sellers.

Money Matters:

Base prices are comparable to other online fabric stores. Quilting weight cotton prints are generally $8.00 per yard. Home dec weights range from around $13.75 to $15.95 per yard with many on sale.

Hawthorne Threads uses are Tiered Pricing system. Discounts are given based on order size, order history and cut.

An order over 3 yards will give a discount of 25 cents per yard and over 15 yards is 35 cents per yard. These discounts are a little push to help you jump into the next level of shipping  and buy more to get the cost per yard down.

Based on $8/yard base priced quilting weight fabrics. All cuts less than 15 yards. No order history.

As you see from the graph, the cost per yard jumps when you hit a new shipping tier (e.g. 2 1/8 yards, 9 1/8 yards, 18 1/8 yards). Generally it is cheaper to stuff an envelope, unless you are suddenly buying a bunch of stuff you don’t want! If I have room in my envelope, I team up with a friend to fill it. Also, I am jealous of the cheap shipping to the United States! Canada and Everywhere Else can decide if the overall cost is better than the local options.

If you manage to rack up an order history of 40+ yards, take off another 15 cents/yard. 100+ 25 cents. 400+ 50 cents.

Cuts 15+ yards are discounted by 50 cents/yard.

Shipping/Packaging: Shipping is comparable to other online fabric stores. In Canada, expect to wait 1-2 weeks. Fabric comes clean and wrapped in tissue paper. Cuts are accurate.

Overall: I like this store and I will order more fabric in the future. The selection and quality are good, shipping and packaging are as expected, and the prices are reasonable.

Three packages came today! Fabric store reviews to come for Pink Chalk and Hawthorne Threads.

Fabric Haul

I finished off school. I was offered a job my first day of unemployment so I don’t have to eat into my sewing time with job hunting. I have 6 weeks off to try and get as many projects finished or started as possible. However, the last week has been jam packed full of visiting and celebrations! It is driving me nuts and I have only gotten a couple hours to myself to sew.

I was finally able to finish off the bird dress. Company came over just as I was hemming it, but I was rude and finished it off. I still need a model to try it on. It should be a size 2/3 so my 7 month old niece might be too small!

Bird Dress - Front


\Bird Dress - Back


Bird Dress - Neck

neck detail

I am guilty of rushing and making stupid mistakes here. When sewing on the front yoke, I didn’t make sure it was flat and sewed the sucker together! I probably should have used that piece of the back of the front yoke, but I just ripped the stitches and continued on. On the right side there was a little pucker. I am hoping these mistakes are less noticeable after wearing in. On the plus side, the back yoke went smoothly so I think the next dress/shirt will be much easier to pull off.

Bird Dress - Acorn Button

acorn button

It was my first time making button holes. I tried it out on a scrap and it went well so I moved onto the dress. The first hole worked out perfectly. The second one went wrong twice! I don’t really know what happened there. I just ripped it out, took a deep breath and tried again. Overall, I think they look fine. I love the acorn buttons I found at Dressew!

I still love the french seams!

Last night I used my yard of Sweet Savannah in Turquoise by Etsuko Furuya to make covers for two pillows. The fabric is a linen cotton blend and much nicer than I expected from looking at the pictures  online. My first time making pillows and I decided to use the most fancy and expensive fabric I own. Craftastic!

When measuring I discovered I could do both pillows only if I did simple non removable covers. I guess I could have used zippers but company is coming today and I didn’t have any! I did the larger square pillow first by sewing the front and back piece together. For the rectangle pillow, I used one continuous piece because I was conveniently left with the (mostly) correct size.  I finally learn how to close up by hand with a hidden stitch! Now I will be able to finish the bindings on my quilts without visible stitches.

Here they are:

Echino Pillows

Echino Pillows

In the future I would probably use fuller pillow forms and work on getting the corners nice and square. Or maybe not, if I am fast crafting.

Bird Dress Progress

Originally uploaded by craftytalk

It is coming along nicely even after the pattern scare. My printer printed the pattern a bit small. I guess you really should check the square to make sure it is an inch. Oops! I tweaked the sizing a bit so hopefully it will turn out a reasonable size. I was making size 3 but it might end up a 2/3.

Bird Dress – French Seams

Originally uploaded by craftytalk

I love french seams!

I am not very good with the zig-zag stitch and french seams only require straight stitching. It takes longer because you have to trim and press at the half way mark.

I think the effort is worth it.

Work through the pain.

Flickr Photos

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