The tiny table

Another bit of the kit finished.

This is the worktable that goes in the sewing room. You saw it yesterday, with just the cutting mat on it. Now, the rest of the items are finished: the tool box, rulers, flowers (both lots), cotton reels, book, roll of fabric, storage jar, drinking glass and scissors. Some of the bits are pre-made. The vast majority are not.

For an idea of the scale, each of the squares of the cutting mat this table is sitting on are an inch (2.5cm).

And I’m not even slightly fed up with it yet. Next will be the display stand for rolls of fabric, but that’s a pleasure for tomorrow. My fingers are creaking and it’s time to eat my delicious fish curry.

More tomorrow, probably.

More tiny, and a bit of festive fun

First, the tiny.

I have begun a new model. This time, it’s what the maker calls a ‘miniature house’ – in reality, just a room, and not even all 4 walls and a roof, but like a stage set. It’s a sewing room, and it will be a gift for a friend and fellow quiltmaker. We’re meeting early next year, (Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise), and I shall pack it up carefully and carry it the 1400km to our meeting place so we can enjoy it together on our holiday. She’s getting daily progress bulletins, so I thought I’d share with you too!

Here’s the box, showing what they intend it should look like.

There are some lovely details, and some absolutely ferocious bits of construction needing to be done (I’m looking at you, treadle sewing machine), but it’s coming along and I’m making progress. It’s a lot more fiddly than the other one, mostly because of all the furniture and accessories that have to be made. The structure itself doesn’t look too bad… Possibly famous last words, there.

This is where I’ve got to.

From left to right: work table with cutting mat and tool holder (rulers, scissors, spools of cotton); tailor’s dummy with measuring tape, treadle sewing machine, assorted baskets and cushions, fabric dresser with cushions, basket, fat quarters and fabric bundles; coffee grinder on top, chest of drawers with newspaper and hat (made from scratch). That sewing machine was something else. All the ‘ironwork’ underneath had to be glued and assembled, and the crank that holds the treadle to the flywheel is 10mm long…. I had to make the handles on the chest of drawers and the fabric dresser, and wind the cotton on the tiny bobbins.  The coffee grinder is made of 12 different components. Well. You get the idea.

That said, I have every intention of cracking on and getting it done by the end of next week, despite having a number of other things that need to be achieved. It’s difficult, but so very satisfying when you hold up this finished tiny thing, and realise that you did it!

Speaking of other things, now for the festive fun. It’s the Happy Greys Social Club Christmas party on Sunday. We’re having a picnic, people are bringing nice things to eat, greyhounds will get treats, a Secret Santa will be held with dog gifts, and there will probably be varying levels of dressing up, by both doggos and people. I shall content myself with my dangly earrings with reindeer and flashing lights and a red top. Mouse, on the other hand, has a position to maintain. Which is why he’ll be wearing this:

It’s made from two $3 Santa hats and a pack of ‘reindeer bell’ Christmas decorations, plus assorted scraps. Poor old Mouse doesn’t know what he’s in for, and I’m only going to put it on him once we reach the car park of our destination, in case he’s traumatised by the jingling of those bells. Which is why you’re not getting a photo… yet.

I think he’ll look adorable and handsome, but I won’t torture him if he hates it. I might have to wear it myself if that’s the case, hehehe! His girlfriend Lotti will be wearing a tiny Santa hat and a large paper poinsettia in her collar, very chic and girly!

Anyway, update over. Back to making more tiny pretty things until my back gives out.


Garment archaelogy

Yeah, weird title.

But I can’t think of any other way to describe the voyage of discovery I’m on with something I bought recently.  I was browsing in my favourite charity/thrift/op shop when I found two elegant, ‘special occasion’ short sleeved women’s kurtas*, one in turquoise with magenta and gold brocading and embroidery, and the other in crimson with gold and two shades of green embroidery, and gold ribbon borders. The turquoise one looked as if it would fit, the other looked a bit small, but I thought I could do something with it.

Multiple seams in the lining of the red kurta

8 different thread colours (the white is serging), showing multiple alterations.

And that’s where the fun began. As expected, both were made in India, as stated on a small label inside. Neither of them had a durzi’s (tailor’s) label, so I can’t credit them to the artisan creator. I could see that the side seam was wobbly and the borders didn’t line up, so it didn’t take much to realise that at some point they had been altered. Now, this is normal. Significant garments of this sort are routinely taken in or let out along the side and underarm seam to achieve a closer fit or to suit a different person, and often, the excess seam allowance is left in place in case they need to be let out again. What was interesting was to see how many times and in what order the alterations had been made, judging by how and where the thread colours crossed. I would be making the (hopefully) final changes for myself, and thus it felt right to ‘excavate’ the previous seam strata. I will not be removing any fabric, in case anyone is concerned. Instead, I will be adding fabric inserts, leaving the original fabric in place and intact. I will, however, be serging to prevent further deterioration of the seam allowances.

For the turquoise one, it was a simple job. I opened out the alteration seam and reverted to the original one, which, while it was snug, did fit and didn’t require any further work. Despite the snugness, it’s actually very comfortable.

Zardozi embroidery on yoke and placket

Zardozi close up on placket

The turquoise fabric is a net lace over a solid turquoise cotton lining, the yoke is a deep magenta and gold brocade with the design outlined in gold bugle beads and picked out with tiny gold crystals. There is a heavily gold and turquoise zardozi**-embroidered placket, further embellished with crystals, diamantés and bugle beads down the front. The back is plain, apart from the deep magenta/gold shot lamé border, two plain ribbon borders in magenta and turquoise and several lines of gold/ mirror braid. It’s very decorative and fairly formal because of all the embroidery and bead work.

The crimson one is another story. It has at least 5 different seams, all stitched in different threads, many of them in totally non-matching and even clashing colours. I have opened out from sleeve edge to low hip level through both the dress outer and the lining and have basted the outer to the lining to try and preserve the integrity of the loosely-woven lining, which is severely frayed, stretched and distorted by all the stitching. The lining seam allowance is all over the place, because earlier seams have been carelessly sewn, taking tucks and wrinkles out of the lining in the process.

It has been a lot of work, hours of time picking out very small, tight stitches in rather delicate fabrics without creating more damage. I’m planning to gently steam and press these edges to give me something straight to stitch and remove some of the stitching holes if possible, and serging the fraying edges will hopefully prevent any further loses of fabric content. However, I feel it will be totally worthwhile in the end.

I will need to make an insert for the underarm seam of the sleeve and side seam of the kurta, and I’m planning to use matching green and crimson fabrics, stitched into a triangular shape to match the borders. I think a thin band of gold ribbon applied to this would look good, but it remains to be seen if I can find something to match the antique gold of what’s already there. If I can’t, I’ll leave it off. This kind of alteration is quite acceptable (and even traditional) for a valued and expensive garment, and even if I only paid $5 (yes, you read that right) for each of them, I do value them highly, and the skilled and beautiful craftsmanship that went into them.

Green and gold embroidery on red kurta

Vintage gold and diamanté buttons

The embroidery and decorations on this kurta are exquisite. There are long teardrop shapes of embroidery in antique gold, dark and light green around the hem and on centre back, and a row of vintage gold/diamanté buttons down the centre front. A deep border of green with gold lamé ribbon decorates the hem, with a matching narrower one on the sleeve edges.

The colours alone would tempt me to wear it for Christmas, but the fact that the long teardrops look like elegant Christmas trees is an additional incentive, so I’m going to try and get it ready to wear for lunch on Christmas day.

Traditionally, these two would be worn with a pyjama-style pant, but tight fitting churidar leggings would be an acceptable alternative. They both also require significant necklaces to sit in the scooped neckline. For the turquoise one, I have something ready, if you recall an earlier post. However, the crimson and green one will need some further thought. I think I have some op-shop finds that would do the trick 😊

Some people may have issues with cultural appropriation. My position is that I am paying respect to the beauty and workmanship of these garments. They have effectively been discarded by their previous owner, they were critically under-valued by the charity/thrift/op-shop selling them, and I have recognised and appreciated them and plan to give them a new life. I believe I have earned the right to wear them.

So, onwards with the voyage of discovery and restoration!

*Kurtas are popular ethnic attire in India. They are loose-fitting upper-body tunics with no collar that are worn by ladies on a daily basis, as well as for formal occasions. They can be worn plain or with embroidered decoration (a popular decoration is chikan). These kurtas can be loose or tight in the torso, and end just above or below the wearer’s knees. They can be worn over pyjama pants, loose salwars or churidar pants.

**Zardozi is a form of embroidery prevalent in India, that originated in Persia. The literal translation of the term hails from two Persian words: ‘zar’ means gold and ‘dozi’ meaning embroidery, thereby translating into gold embroidery. Today, zardozi refers to the process of using metal-bound threads to sew embellishments on a wide array of fabrics.

A tiny world

I’ve never been a model-maker.

Giant jigsaws, yes, making garments and quilts and jewellery, assembling flatpack furniture, all within my wheelhouse, but for whatever reason I haven’t gone tiny.

Until now.

I was browsing some website, and saw an ad for a model kit (the Sakura Densya from Rolife, if you’re interested). I was riveted! I jumped on the website… and I was lost. So far, I have bought two kits, and there are at least four more that I want to make Now. And that’s just for starters.

So, here’s my first. It’s the Sunshine Town alley, complete with coffee shop and bookshop, street furniture, lights and cats! I did the wiring for the lights myself, which I’m proud of. It was fiddly, I learned a lot about model making and assembly, and I can’t wait to start the next one. This completed on is one of the ‘book nook’ series, where you slot the finished thing into a book case for best effect.

The next one will be Lisa’s Tailor, a sewing room with three sides and half a roof, but there’s a lot more stuff in it, so at least the first two days will be spent assembling all the components.

You do need to be good at following visual instructions, but the instructions are good. This kit had 24 pages of assembly information and multiple sheets of laser-cut press-out pieces in thin ply, cardstock and acetate, all clearly numbered. You only needed to sandpaper off the ‘ties’ that held the pieces in place on the sheets. A little painting, a little glueing, nothing technical. Steady hands and a bit of manual dexterity are helpful.

They provide almost everything you need. Due to the customs regulations here, you don’t get the paint or the glue or the batteries with the kit, but that was an easily-solved problem, and now I have them for the next one.

I’m in love with my tiny world. Maximum cuteness, maximum satisfaction at making it, and maximum willpower required to not dash off and open that second kit Right Now. It’s a little bit… ok, a LOT, addictive, which is kind of odd when you remember you’re fiddling about with glue and paint and little bits of wood and paper, but there it is.

I’ve made mistakes and done some things a bit wrong here and there, but I’ll know better next time. And as always, it’s probably only me who sees the mistakes. I leave you with my book nook lit up and looking extremely ravishing…

At least the Husband now knows what to get me for virtually any future celebration!

EDIT: for everyone who’s wondering if they can get these kits where they live, here’s a link to the company’s web page which shows the countries they ship to and the timelines/costs.

Practice run

I did a little pre-Christmas baking.

I wanted to see if I still had enough manual dexterity to decorate a batch of gingerbread people. I think I’ve still got it – what do you think? I started by added gold candy stars, but moved to red and white mini candy canes when I ran out. I think I prefer the gold stars… maybe time to get some more, for the next batch?

We had the SILs around this morning to strategise Christmas day catering. They were happy to help us with our slight excess gingerbread problem… Thankfully, Christmas is going to be nice and simple; the Dowager will be on a cruise, so everyone else will be happy with a buffet meal, but lunch (rather than dinner) was preferred so that some of the younger members can spend time with other family in the evening. It means we probably won’t eat on the deck, as it’ll be just too hot at that time of day, but we have enough comfy chairs for inside, and doggo will have to give up his sofa just for the day… There will be lots of reproachful stares and starvation impersonations, but so long as there’s a steady stream of treats and bits of chicken, he’ll cope.

So far, my catering is limited to roasting a couple of chickens, carving some ham, making a salad and some cupcakes and arranging stuff on platters and in bowls. I think I can cope with that, and anything else I want to add is a ‘nice to have’ and not necessary.

Now, that sounds like a restful Christmas!

Bucket list

And this is No. 2 on the list.

I have literally just finished stitching down the brim lining this one. I promised the second hat would be a bit more vivid. Was I wrong?

Sorry about the poor lighting, I took it with flash in the evening, since I didn’t want to wait till tomorrow. Perhaps that was a mistake, as it has washed out all the colours (and me, but also the wrinkles!), but I think you get a pretty good idea of what it’s like. You can’t see the crown, but it’s a third fabric, also very prink and bright. The brim is made of two fabrics which are alternated on the top and bottom so that whichever way you turn the brim up, you see two fabrics. I love those bold black and white patterns!

I think this is enough for me, for now. I’ll probably make one for the Husband, and then call it a day. I have other projects singing a siren song, calling me to make a start on them…

I am powerless to resist. Or perhaps I just don’t want to!

Anemone, finally finished

Can you believe how long this has taken?

Not the hand quilting, which was long enough, but the whole thing. I started this lovely six years ago! And looking at it now, fully completed, I wonder why I was bonkers enough to put it on the back burner. Still, the hiatus hasn’t dimmed my enthusiasm for it. I still love it soooo much! I really like faced hexie quilts, because it retains the distinctive shape of the outer edge, and although it’s meticulous, laborious work to create and apply the back facing, I feel it’s really worth the effort when you look at the front.

I don’t have my handy quilt holder-upper (aka the Husband) today, so I have draped it tastefully (I hope) over a sofa. Possibly you can’t see every single hexie, but you get the idea.

Weird that the pink quilting thread looks black, but there you go.

And here’s a close up.

And the label, which I have concealed behind a hexie of appropriate colour on the back of the quilt, stitched in so that you can flip it open just enough to read it. I’m beginning to find labels a bit intrusive to look at unless they carry an important message (as in the DfG or Ovarian Cancer quilts), so I think I’ll keep this ‘hidden message’ option going forward.

And so we say farewell to Anemone. Next cab off the rank should be Delft, but I suspect I’ll finish assembling the front, remove most of the papers and then put it away for a bit. My fingers need a break from hand stitching for a good long time. And there’s another hat cut out and waiting for me, not to mention other quilt projects.

You’ll just have to wait and see what I pick next!

Bucket Hat

This will be the first of several.

I’m calling it the Seascape Hat because of the coral reef light fabric and the ‘brain coral’ crown fabric. I didn’t use heavy fabric, or make it close-fitting, because in this climate, the head needs all the ventilation it can get. It’s a pattern which Jean posted about on ScrapHappy Day recently, very easy, just three pieces, and it was a free download, even better.

I’m definitely making another one for the Husband too, probably something a little heavier (I have a very nice dark blue twill with the Australian Kangaroo icon on it in white). Plus a couple more for myself, I think, including one that’s got a nice splashy pattern on it.

A bit of machine sewing is great for resting my hand-quilting fingers…

The slacker clucker

I don’t know what the Girls think they’re up to.

I mean, this was part of today’s offering. That large one is 80g (3oz), and the smallest one weighs 17g (just over half an ounce) and is 75mm (1 3/8 inches) long. Someone was doing overtime to cover for the slacker’s pathetic effort. We’ve  had small eggs before, but nothing as ridiculous as this.

It’s about the size of a plover’s egg, and I look forward to seeing what’s inside. There may be a tiny yolk, or no yolk, or all yolk.

A mystery for tomorrow’s breakfast!

Goes with anything

Isn’t that what they say about black?

Or in this case, all the colours. It’ll work with so many things! I’ve finished the fabric bead necklace, using up as many cones as I had. I also made a pair of earrings to go with it. Originally, I’d intended to have all the beads strung close together, as I wanted a sort of floral effect, but I discovered on wearing it that the beads would get forced upwards by movement and it looked extremely odd. So then it was deciding what to do about adding spacers.

The wire choker is quite thick, and the fastening at the back doesn’t allow most of my spacer beads to pass over it. So then I had a brainwave. I have a small collection of narrow clear plastic tubes which I’ve saved from using Piksters* after cleaning my teeth. I thought they might come in useful some time, and now they have. I cut small slices off a number of tubes, and worked out that putting two spacers between each bead looked the best. Because they’re clear, they don’t really ‘read’, they weigh nothing and they do the trick. Job done.

And finally, I have at last got round to adding the three-string clasp to my lilac necklace.

I made it in the first place to go with my beautiful silver, pearl and amethyst earrings, and I feel it works rather well. Another one to add to the collection.


And now that’s enough jewellery making for now. Back to fabric!


*Piksters are tiny interdental brushes for scrubbing between your teeth, and I find them more effective than using dental floss.