in the studio

A thread for any use

With all the sewing I do, it is a very rare occasion that I have to buy thread.  Thanks to the thrifty purchase 11 years ago of my collection of sewing threads (shown in the post below) I usually am able to perfectly match a thread to any fabric.  For just $100 I bought 4 of those wooden trays full of threads, from a friend's father who was closing down a women's clothing label.  

I was pretty excited at the time, but if I'd known how invaluable they have been I would have been doubly so.


Today is a case in point.  I'm sewing a tablecloth to cover a card table.  This piece of rather mustardy or wheat coloured linen has been hiding behind the door of my sewing room for years.  And the first thread I pulled out of its shelf was the perfect match.

Now I just have to master the art of sewing a mitred corner.

Seven friends and I are having Bridge lessons.  The girls and a Bridge teacher are coming to our house tonight for our second lesson.  When I told Will that our house was being used for Bridge lessons for the 5 Tuesday evenings of August he turned to the boys and said with a sigh, "Boys, your parents are officially entering old middle age."  I had to laugh as I do see it as a retirement pursuit.  That's what it's been for my mother who is a very keen player.

Anyway, 8 of us have come together to learn this challenging game.  We say we're trail blazing amongst our age group, and soon all our contemporaries will be in on the action.  Our mothers say it's good to learn while our brains are still young.

Do you play Bridge?  We all loved our first lesson and are looking forward to the second installment tonight.

Where I sew

Do you love peeking into other people's sewing spaces?  I definitely do.  Pink Chalk Studio is sharing the eye candy you crave, with a month long look at people's sewing spaces.

Where I sew Kathy is profiling different well known bloggers and giving you a tour of their sewing studios.  You can join in by adding a link to your sewing space.  Pop on over and take a peek.  There are some lovely creative spaces featured there.

Most readers of this blog have probably seen the photos of my sewing studio.  But for the fun of it, I'll share them again here.

Studio - threads

I was lucky enough to score one of the two largest rooms in our house for my sewing space.  The other large room, on the sunny side of the house, is our master bedroom.

Studio - table

If I didn't sew, this room would make the perfect formal dining room I suppose.  Which means it would never get used, as no-one entertains formally these days.  I love this space.  As you would expect, it's my favourite room in the house, and where I spend of lot of time (when I can).

Studio - sewing machines

You can't quite see the full setup in the photo above, but I have three tables laid out in a "U" shape that contain my laptop, my industrial sewing machine, and my domestic machine and overlocker on the third side.  This makes sewing efficient.  I can check orders as they come in, and move from sewing buttonholes or applique stitch on my domestic machine to straight stitch on my industrial machine. Ideally I'd have another surface with a mini ironing board and iron setup so I wouldn't have to leave my chair to press seams. Then I'd really be humming along.

Studio - comptoir

This is my favourite piece of furniture in our house.  It's an old oak shop counter from France.  I was told it was from a Parisian haberdashery shop.  It provides fabulous storage space for my stock - 16 drawers in total!

Studio - armoire

When you stand outside our front door, this is what you see through the sewing room window.  I had this armoire custom made many years ago to store my quilt collection.  It has proven to be perfect for this space, and for displaying the current Townmouse range.  Again, it offers wonderful storage. The top drawer contains t-shirts and bodysuits ready for applique, and the bottom drawer stores my stock of pyjamas. This means I'm not always running to the garage to pull stock to fill orders.

Studio - fabric storage

This set of pigeon holes is the perfect height to sit under the sash windows on the south side of the room.  At the moment it stores my fabric stash.  My favourite craft books sit on top.

So there you have it, that's my sewing studio.  I consider myself very lucky to have the space to spread out my craft mess, and to be able to leave it there until the next sewing session.  It's one of the reasons I don't want to move house in a hurry.  I know I won't be so lucky in our next house.  There are more photos of my sewing studio on flickr.

EDITED: Now that we have moved house, you can see my new attic sewing studio in this blog post.

Old fashioned and good

There is a shop in Melbourne called "Step Back In Time".  It sells relics from former decades in the way of furniture and simple household implements.  Everything from watering cans to beautiful old jars for the pantry can be found there, with lots of interesting ephemera in between.

I dropped in there on Saturday, on the hunt for something else, and came away with this simple wooden clothes airer.

Airing rack

This is so much nicer than those awful plastic coated metal ones of today.

There was also a rather large set of wooden pigeon holes there.  It would be perfect for storing and displaying a considerable fabric stash.  This is the shop where I bought my smallish set of pigeon holes a few years ago.

When you're there, say hello to Archie the corgi who spends his days in the shop.  65 Burwood Road Hawthorn.

A bit of Bijoux

I do love the small coordinating prints in Heather Bailey's Bijoux range of fabrics.


I took advantage of the strong Aussie dollar and recently ordered a few from the Heather Bailey online store.

And then when I saw this quilt on a blog recently, I knew what I was going to do with the fabric.

Swoon star

A quiet hour on the weekend found me in the studio trying out the pattern.

Swoon star detail

The other stars will have to wait as I have a busy week.  Lots on the To Do list.  Better get to it.

More Liberty

Townmouse will be at Mathilda's Market this Sunday at the Malvern Town Hall. In preparation I'm trimming some box pleat skirts with Liberty scraps. The skirts are trimmed in either a mixture of my favourite blue Liberty fabrics or pink.

Adelaide has been wearing a blue one of late and she's rather fond of it.


The fabric folder which holds my Liberty offcuts had grown to two.

Fabric folder

In addition to a storage box that holds larger remnants.

Liberty box

So I needed to do something with all that fabric. It felt good to reduce the amount I'm storing for a change. The two folders are now not bulging with scraps. It's rather cleansing.  I must do more of it.

Liberty stash

Kirsty from Kootoyoo has done something wonderful.  She's created a dedicated site for Our Creative Spaces, where you can share your link to your creative space.  Thanks Kirsty.

Liberty winter top

It's a frizzling day here today, as my boys would say; positively arctic. Hopefully that translates to a bumper snow season.

The heating is turned up and I'm in my woollens today, as I potter in the studio. I just made a little top for Adelaide in a Liberty remnant from about three Townmouse seasons ago.

Liberty winter top

It's the same pattern as this one, with less volume in the body and sleeves.  Adelaide is at creche today, so it remains to be seen if I have perfected the fit.

Liberty winter top detail

It's a bit hard to see the detail of the top in this busy fabric.  In this case that's a good thing, as there's a rather wonky seam there on the neckline that I'm not that proud of.  A few sewing challenges in this pattern.

Liberty fabric weights

Wow, I loved Elizabeth's idea for her fifty cent fabric weights on her blog Oh, Fransson.  Such a simple and handy project. So while I was fiddling around with Liberty scraps for another project I decided to make some of these myself.

Fabric weights

It was the perfect use for all those pesky foreign coins Will brings home from his business travels.  They were cluttering up his desk in the study and I didn't know what to do with them. Now, problem solved.

Fabric weights 1

And, well, if we ever have need for a French franc or some Italian lire we know where to look.  These are a much prettier way to hold my fabric on the table than my sticky tape dispenser.  Great idea Elizabeth.

Simple charm square quilt

It was a very busy studio yesterday, with lots of customers dropping by for the Townmouse sale.


In a quieter moment earlier this week I made a very quick and simple charm square quilt.  I haven't used charm squares or pre-cut fabrics before.  I find fabric selection the hardest part of making a quilt, so I liked that this part was already done for me.

Charm square quilt 1

I can't say I'm in love with this quilt. It was made quickly, rather than carefully. I don't usually machine quilt my quilts so I read a lot of Rita's posts on basting and quilting. She's the master and go-to-girl for all my quilting quandaries. Unfortunately, I only read her posts too late, after I'd run into problems. Let's just say I'm going to stock up on safety pins, and take more time with my basting in future.

Charm square quilt

This was the first time I machine finished the binding too. I need more practice at this, and next time will enlist the help of my steam iron. At fashion school we were encouraged to sew without pins, so I rarely use them to secure my work. Going back to pinning undid me a bit. With more attempts I'll work out a way that works for me.

Simple charm square quilt

There's one little person who seems happy with it though. This quilt can now be found in Adelaide's cot and will probably travel with her to kindy down the line.

More creative spaces at Kootoyou.

In the studio

Yesterday I took the day off work to make a quilt.  Wow, I would have done anything to be able to have done that back in the day I had my boring law firm job.


1. My Wedding Ring detail, 2. Lines#6, 3. Waverunner II, 4. Elements #2, 5. Color Study: Log Cabin 2 ~ 2007, 6. SWAPBOT - MUSEUM POSTCARD - GEE'S BEND QUILTS

In reality though, all that meant was that the few quiet hours I had in a child-free house were spent cutting into fabric rather than attending to Townmouse matters.

I had thought I'd better get a wriggle on in the Down Under Doll Quilt Swap.  OK, so quilts aren't due until the end of May, but I have a bad habit of starting many quilts and finishing very few.  So I was feeling the pressure.  The pressure to make something for someone whose style is quite different to mine.  I was fearful I wouldn't be able to break out of my own style constraints and make something that my cool and groovy swap partner would maybe like.  

Doll quilt fabric

So I pulled these fabrics out of my stash.  Not me at all, are they?  The geometric fabric I ordered online; a fabric that didn't appeal at all when I pulled it out of the parcel.  But here it is the star of this collection.

Inspired by a little gallery of wonky quilts I had created (a sample of which you see above), and led by this helpful tutorial on wavy piecing, I got to work.

And guess what?  I created a quilt that is so unlike any I have made before.  The fabric is not me, the style is not me, but I like the end result.  It's something I'll be excited to send to my swap partner.

Quilted doll quilt

Hopefully there's someone excited out there at the prospect that this creation could be for them.

More creative spaces at Kootoyou.

French trim and other finds

There are so many little things that the French do well.  I picked up this beautifully simple picot cotton trim in Paris earlier this month.  

Picot trim

I'm picturing it finishing the hem and sleeve of some little cotton nighties for Adelaide.  Little sleeves like this, but with maybe more width and slightly more capped so they come down over the shoulder.

The camellias are currently growing down the south side of our house.   The little jar they are in was something else I bought home in my luggage from France.  The individual yoghurts served at breakfast in our Paris hotel came in these sweet jars.  I love jars that don't have a thread, as they look pretty as vases.  I thought they'd also be cute to store buttons or pins in my studio.  (The waiter at breakfast thought I was mad.)