Tag Archives: craft

The Good Old Days

Here’s a little throwback to the good old days of quality workmanship and pride in your product, in the form of cotton bias binding. I bought it at my local thrift store. 

Bias binding is something I look out for in thrift stores as it’s generally a polyester cotton blend when I buy it new and that is not my preference. The older bindings also tend to be better more stable, either due to starch or simply a tighter weave.

Bias binding and its accompanying label

Love these stripes

The binding is made by WM. E. Wright Co in Massachusetts. This company stood by their product.

This material is fast colour and perfect in workmanship. Should it be faulty in any way, making the article on which it is applied unusable, we will reimburse you for the reasonable cost of your labor and all materials used in making the article.

Cross-Over Apron 

Front view of cross-over apron showing double bound finish

Front View

This apron was based on Kwik Sew 2311. I’ve been wanting to make a cross-over apron for a while and had been planning to draft my own, until I discovered the pattern in my collection.

I avoid using bias binding as the commercial product tends to be poor quality fabric and it’s almost always too narrow for my purposes. I usually make a hash of attaching it, too, so used a Hong Kong finish at the neck and along the arm and double binding on the back and hem.

The binding fabric is remnant from Spotlight, of Premium Cotton Sateen in Wedgewood colour, purchased for $1 when they had all their remnants on sale, but normally priced at $16.99 per metre. The binding fabric width was 127cm. I was only able to verify that the fabric was 100% cotton after taking it to the register and asking the staff to scan the bar code, which fortunately was still attached. The fabric seemed to have some spandex in it as it was moderately stretchy and I was able to cut my binding strips on the cross grain.



Next time I would stay stitch the neck before attaching the binding. I might also play with the back shoulder component of the pattern to make it curve a little more, for a better fit to the body.

Modified Pattern


I omitted the button closure in the original pattern. Closures on aprons can so easily open at the wrong time, not something I want in my workwear. It’s easy to put on and take off without the button closure in the original pattern. I did test that before sewing the shoulder seam.


A Warm Welcome at In Between Stitches in Livermore, CA

Quilt samples on display, pineapple quilt and bolts of fabric

Not usually my cup of tea but I even thought these pineapples were cute.

I bought a $4 silicone thimble at In Between Stitches and I received a warm welcome on a 38 C degree day, which I believe is 100 F. Regardless of your measurement system, I think we can agree that’s a hot a hot day. Hot enough for ice cream, but that came later.

If the weather was warm, the welcome at In Between Stitches was equally so. I met one of the owners who took the time to chat with me, told me which is her favourite quilting magazine, wished me a good visit to California and even sent me away with a complimentary copy of Better Homes and Gardens Quilt Sampler Magazine from 2010 in which their store was featured. This is easily the most authentic and friendly response I’ve had when I’ve mentioned this blog to any quilt store proprietor, in any country and I am thankful and appreciative. These people do so much more than parrot ‘Have a nice day’ when you leave.

Cutting area inside the store with work in progress and quilts hanging on the wall behind
They offer classes, have a beautifully designed shop and the samples are to my mind tasteful and inspiring. If you’re in the Livermore area, visit this shop at 2190 First St. You won’t regret it.

Photos were taken with permission.

The School of Hard Knocks

The flexibility of fibre is one of the things I enjoy about sewing and weaving. While you do have to get it right, there is a degree of forgiveness in fibre-based craft, with the possibility of blocking, wet-finishing, steaming, pressing and so on, to iron out minor imperfections. Metal and wood are less forgiving. I know that from a short time spent learning the techniques of fine jewellery under the tutelage of a professional jeweller.

I learned a great deal in the couple of years I studied jewellery techniques. I learned to appreciate the mastery required to work on a tiny scale and I learned to distinguish between rubbish and well-made pieces. Mostly I learned how much practice and effort are required to achieve a professional standard.

When working with metal, two pieces fit together or they don’t. There’s no concept of bias to allow you to fit a curved edge to a straight one. Maybe it’s down to laziness, but my inclination is to stay with fibre and move away from metal. Besides, wood and metal are more my beloved’s domain.

However when I read glowing reviews in Trip Advisor about Royal Selangor’s School of Hard Knocks I immediately looked into how I could make a booking to participate. The idea of being able to bash at some pewter and bring home a hand-made souvenir was so appealing.

Molds and mallets at the Singapore School of Hard Knocks

Ready to make our pewter bowls

We both loved the experience. We were very surprised that the instruction was given by one of the delightful shop assistants rather than a metal-worker but the School of Hard Knocks is so well set up that all you do is get to work. They give you a circular pewter blank to work with, you stamp it with your name and date and then you use two different molds and a mallet to fashion your own bowl. The process gives the metal a beautiful worked finish.


Royal Selangor Visitor Centre
3A River Valley Rd #01-01
Clarke Quay

You can book for the School of Hard Knocks in advance via email. There’s no hard sell and no requirement to do a tour or watch a video or anything like that. You pay your money (S$40 per person if I remember rightly) and you make your bowl. It’s excellent fun.

Buying Craft Supplies in Singapore

Every holiday needs a quest, some kind of special challenge to make it even more interesting. One of my work buddies has just gone to Europe on a religious pilgrimage. I have set him the quest of bringing me back the tackiest fridge magnet he can find, and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with.

Since I’ve been writing this blog, the quests are easy to set. Seek out a craft or textile-related destination, visit it, take some photos and write a review. Buying is permitted but optional.

Our most recent holiday was to the tiny city-state of Singapore, a place that’s easy to reach from Australia, that has good infrastructure and enough sights to keep you entertained for up to a week.

The Entrance to the Golden Dragon Store in Sinpaore

The Entrance to the Golden Dragon Store

I did my research before we left and saw that the Golden Dragon Store was the most frequently recommended retailer to buy quilting and craft supplies. It’s located on level 2 of the People’s Park Centre in Chinatown, near the overhead bridge to Chinatown Point, which is another shopping centre. If using the excellent MTR underground rail system, use Chinatown Exit D.

Clover Fabric Clips

Clover Fabric Clips

When we visited there was a knitting workshop in progress so there was a bit of a buzz about the place. They had a good range of Clover products, yarn, Japanese crafting patterns, handbag handles, a small range of quilting fabrics (including Japanese fabrics) and lots of ribbons and laces.

My purchase was a set of Clover fabric clips or so-called wonder clips. They’re like small clothes pegs and look like they will be handy for attaching quilt bindings or bias binding. I try not to be too entranced by sewing notions as it’s very easy to collect a bunch of notions that seem appealing initially but that end up taking up storage space without being terribly useful. These clips look like they might help hold bias binding in place over curved edges and if I’m right about that I won’t regret the S$8.20 purchase price.

Store Details:

Golden Dragon Store
Centre for Handicraft and Needlework
101, Upper Cross St #02-51

Open Mon- Sat 10:00am – 8:30pm, Sunday and Public Holidays 12:30pm – 8:00pm

A Quilted Sleeve for an iPad Mini

My lucky mother received an iPad Mini as a birthday gift last year. Lucky lady, it is even engraved with her name.

Generous though she is, my mother’s daughter didn’t spring for a cover to go with it.

I have sorted that one out, at last. Here it is.

machine quilted sleeve for an ipad mini

And here’s how:

1. Cut three rectangles- one of outer fabric, one of lining fabric and one of lightweight batting. Each rectangle measures 6 1/2 inches wide by 17 3/4 inches long.
2. Form a quilt sandwich and pin it together using pins or safety pins. I used pins because I was in a hurry. Quilt the layers together. I followed some of the lines on the printed outer fabric. Run a line of stitching around the outer edges of the sandwich, just to hold everything together.
3. With right sides together stitch down each long end, a quarter inch from the raw edges. (No need for a scant seam allowance.) I used my serger/overlocker but you could equally use a straight stitch on a regular sewing machine then trim and zig zag the raw edges.
4. Turn.
5. Bind the raw edges of the opening with purchased or home made binding. I made my own half inch binding using a Clover bias tape maker, just for fun.

Its that easy. I’m sorry I can’t show you how the sleeve fits, but unlike my mother, I’m not lucky enough to own an iPad Mini. I took my quilt sandwich to the office and checked the dimensions by asking a workmate if I could use his.

Stash-busting Fabric Purses

Fabric purse decorated with pink trimAmerican Patchwork and Quilting is a great magazine, one I would happily pay money for if only I could get it delivered to Australia. They also have a number of excellent free patterns at AllPeopleQuilt.

When I say ‘free,’ you do have to register to get access to the free patterns. Other patterns are available to buy. Once you register, they email you a set of project ideas from time to time. I think it’s well worthwhile registering as it’s a high quality site and I have found the free stuff to be all I need.

reversible purse with red dotted fabric and a muted green lining

I’m keeping this one

These purses are made with the Reversible Purse pattern, one of many free bag, purse and tote patterns available on the site. The one with the floral design is planned as a gift. It won’t look good reversed, which was my design decision. The dotted print purse is reversible. I’ll be keeping that one for myself and I doubt very much I’ll ever use the green side.

I’m happy with these and happy to have consumed a little of my stash, too. Each purse requires half a yard of fabric for each side. The instructions are OK, but get easier once you’ve completed your first purse. Nothing unusual, there.