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August 2014

sponsors on kcw

summer sponsors

We are lucky to have such an amazing bunch this season! At KCW we are happy that we get to show off such an amazing array of pattern designers and fabric shops. No matter what your style or budget, I’m sure there is something for everyone in this collection of shops. Behind these shops are an amazing group of brilliant women, working hard to bring you very high quality patterns and fabrics–two things sewers couldn’t live without!

Please consider supporting them, because without their support KCW couldn’t continue.

amazing kid clothes patterns and beautiful fabrics1. Sew Modern 2. Fabricworm 3. Cali Faye 4. Warp & Weft 5. Sew Much Ado 6. Straight Grain 7. Brindille & Twig 8. Filles a Maman 9. Imagine Gnats 10. Fishsticks Designs 11. Made by Rae 12. See Kate Sew 13. Jennuine Designs 14. LouBee Clothing 15. Miss Matatabi 16. The Fabric Stash 17. Organic Cotton Plus

why I sew // KCW

why I sew: Julie

Hey guys! Julie here, from Our Chez Nous, and I’m back for one last post, to answer the question of why I sew….Why DO I sew?! This question could be answered is so many ways and all of those answer reflect a little bit not only about why I do sew, but about my personality itself.  I sew for many reasons! But let’s start at the beginning.

Moto Skinny Tee-2

Creativity is my Drug

I am, and always will be, a creative person by nature. I know all that sounds cheesy and oh so sappy, but it’s true. Ever since I was little, I remember trying different forms of creative outlets. From my Grand-Maman showing me how to use her vintage sewing machine to sew a top for my Ken doll (which, incidentally, my brother cut in pieces thanks to his fear of G.I. Joe dolls) and attach buttons to random pieces of fabrics. To a bit later, her teaching me how to knit my first ‘scarf’. At that age, these crafts didn’t quite stick with me. But I would never forget the feeling of being able to create something from scratch. Later on, I would fall in (and still am to this day be) love with architecture. You could pull out some on my notebooks from elementary school and find house plans/layouts and sketches of exterior details.  Later on when I transitioned to high school, I went into music instead. Piano, guitar and flute. I then found a love for interior design. I even went to school this past year to start a degree in that subject but my timing wasn’t right.

Mara 4

I’m a maker, not a homemaker.

You’re probably starting to wonder how this all relates to me sewing now right?! Well, I had kids early on. I’m only 26 and my oldest is 7, you do the math! When my oldest was born, the man and I had just started getting into photography and I was looking for a fun and creative way to showcase our new hobby and daughter, so I started scrapbooking. After a few years (and more kids) I wanted to try to introduce sewing into my pages. Since I had started I kept randomly seeing amazing pages with sewing details. And finally, the man gave me my first machine for my birthday 3 years ago. At that point, I didn’t scrapbook much anymore. But I had also discovered the world of online blogs!!!!! I was hooked. I think one of the first blogs I started to follow was Cirque du Bebe (now Ada Spragg) and everything kind of spiraled out of control from there. Now my biggest concern throughout some of these years, was to be called a housewife or homemaker. I’ve always found that this term, because yes, I have chosen to stay home with my kids, never really suited me. And was always afraid to be put in this category. But one day, I finally sucked it up and just did what I’ve always enjoyed, even if those things were related to this typical housewife stuff. And finally busted out the sewing machine to figure out how it worked.

Bohemian Dress-6

Life is a process, we all learn along the way. If we don’t, what are we here for?

I’ve been inspired by so much of the things I’ve seen in the online sewing community. I’ve had a chance to discover a new approach to being creative that I love. And not only that, but this approach has introduced others to me that I would never have considered even trying to do before, and goals that I never thought would have been possible as well. Think handmade wardrobes, and screen printing and freezer paper stencils among just a few possibilities.


Tie Dye Skinny-1

The future is in our hands, let’s MAKE it instead of BUY it!

Another one of the big reasons why I sew, is that I want to show my kids that they can make things themselves. They don’t need to rely on a store to provide them with the things they need in life. Showing them that putting in a bit of work, will produce amazing, one of a kind results that can last forever. Which brings me to this reason: Sewing has also given me and my kids something else to bring us closer together. A majority of the things I sew, I do with input from the beginning, either by them helping me pick out the pattern or fabric or just ideas on what they would like. As they’ve gotten older, my kids have started to get into their own style grooves. My oldest is a girly girl, who only wears dresses! My middle child is all about comfort and outdoor sports and the youngest, as long as it’s got fun stuff on it, it’s typically good to go.

Spring Showers Coat 015

If you never make a mistake, how can you learn?

Sewing for me, is a freedom. The freedom of expression, the freedom of independence and not having to rely on someone else to make things for me and the freedom to always remember to learn something new. What is sewing to you?!


why I sew // KCW

why I sew: Shelley

Hi everyone, it’s Shelley from Bartacks and Singletrack back again to talk about me this time, and see if I can answer the question: Why I Sew

Let’s imagine we’re all on a deserted tropical island (humour me here, it’s winter down-under and I need to dream). What are you all doing? Not much? Lying on the beach? watching the waves? idling in the sun?….

Well, I’d be doing something. I’d like to think I’d have the engineering smarts to be building the raft that could rescue us all, or that I’d be catching a fish for our dinner, but more likely I’d be amusing myself making a fancy dress costume out of things I find lying around.


Prior to having kids my thing to do was race mountain bikes. Before that it was travel, learning languages, university study, riding horses… The activity has varied but my commitment to whatever I was doing at the time has never wavered. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability. That may not always be very good compared to others (my mountain bike racing career was a case in point!) but I get real satisfaction out of trying to improve.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a restless person. I can be physically still and very much at ease, but I’ll probably be thinking, or planning, or talking. When I found myself somewhat housebound as my heavily pregnant belly limited my range on the bike, I took to making stuff.

early projects

1. Wombat playmat (1st ever sewing project)    2. Quilting a change mat     3. Play gym made from hula hoops and fleece

I bought a basic sewing machine and made a few things for my soon to be born baby. It never occurred to me to seek instruction or tuition, or even to see if there was a pattern for what I was wanting to do. I just experimented. One of the things I love about taking on a new hobby is that “honeymoon period” when your confidence is way ahead of your skill or ability.

While I hadn’t sewed before, it didn’t feel like completely new territory as there’s quite a few parallels between sewing and my professional career as a veterinary surgeon

Thanks to my surgical training, I found most sewing skills relatively easy to pick up. When I realised that a slipstitch is just the same as how I do intradermal sutures on a cat spey, or that a thread chain is just a series of hand ties, I felt more and more confident that this sewing caper was something I could possibly master.

surgery sewing

Most of all, I relished the freedom to practice those skills in a field with a lot less restrictions. You see, a sewing project can be set aside if it’s getting too complicated, if you’re bored with it, if you’re hungry, if you need a toilet break. In fact, a sewing project will wait quietly on a shelf for months on end and you can return to it when you choose to. Unfinished objects, or UFOs in sewing speak, simply cannot exist in the surgical world!

And, should it all go horribly, disastrously wrong, a sewing project can be quietly popped into the rubbish bin and no explanations are needed. Perhaps if you’d justified the expense of some really fancy fabric by telling your partner how awesome the thing you were making was going to be, perhaps then you might secretly pop the failed garment into the outside bin rather than the kitchen bin. But that’s about as serious as it can ever get, and I find the freedom to fail enormously liberating!

With the invincible feeling that you get from knowing that the price of failure is negligible, I started to sew clothes for my little boy.

early garments

1. Burda 9792 shirt    2. Make It Perfect Little Explorer overalls     3. Burda 9793 Jeans

Shortly after I started struggling with sewing kid’s clothes I discovered Oliver + S patterns, then I had a baby girl to sew for as well, and from that moment on I became almost unstoppable. As I learned more, my confidence grew and I continued to delight in the devil-may-care attitude that I can use when approaching a sewing project.

Speaking of which… You know, my sewing machine is perhaps one of the only appliances I own that did NOT come with a warning not to operate it while consuming alcohol. That may not be the case for everyone, as I’m sure in more litigious, risk averse countries such warnings are making their way into sewing machine instructions. But at my house, if I want to try and pattern match plaid with a glass of red in one hand, then darn it, I will. (And I maintain it’s a sure fire way to make stripes match, or at least not to care when they don’t…)

evel knievel

Evel Knievel costume

I’ve never been much of an artist in terms of having a creative vision, but I’m not bad as a copyist (I think that is an almost exact quote from my year 10 art report). Sewing allows me to copy something that takes my fancy, whether it’s what you just posted on Flickr, a costume or haute couture.

The challenge in recreating a garment using the patterns that I have to hand, my limited ability to “mash” patterns, and the materials I can source locally, is something I delight in. In doing this I can combine some painting, handsewing, or other techniques to achieve the look I want. Pitching all these artistic endeavours into one project is immensely satisfying.

Elle and Audrey

Kill Bill Vol 1 – A Moschino 2001 knock off

However, like anyone who sews for their kids, my creations are bound to sometimes get rejected. A painstakingly made dress or shirt that never gets worn would seem a waste, but a ridiculously time consuming beaded sweater? Nope, that was my project and I don’t care a jot if it doesn’t get worn.

By getting carried away with the idea, the technique and the attention to detail I can make the project something that I enjoy. From the imagining right through to the last stitch I’m in it for the journey, and the skills learned along the way, as much as the end result.

pixcell red deer

KCW Summer 2014: Beaded pullover

But since I do like a challenge, I also set myself the goal of making all of my kids’ everyday clothes (with the exception of socks and undies). That meant getting comfortable with sewing knit fabric, and perhaps even consulting with the kids sometimes on what it is that they would actually wear.

Sewing for kids seems to be a bit like surfing. You have to paddle really hard at the start to get yourself up to speed. Then, if you can keep your skill set just a little bit ahead of the wave of their disregard for anything dorky and mum-made, you can keep riding it forever. At least that’s how I hope it will work.

Herein lies another thing I love about sewing. I am a bit of a perpetual student. Since the day I started kindergarten I have almost always been doing some form of study. As well as my degree in veterinary science I’ve undertaken studies in fitness instruction, cocktail making and bar service, French language… It doesn’t seem to matter what the topic is so long as the instruction is good I’ll enjoy learning. It would seem there is an endless amount to learn about sewing. I doubt I would ever have learned to sew beads, cut freezer paper stencils, do reverse applique or a dozen other things, if it wasn’t for the need to jazz up a bit of garment sewing.


1. Kenzo knock off jeans     2. Darth stencilled T-shirt     3. Metallic topstitched jeans

I find lots of inspiration from sewers who post their creations on the internet, and I am forever mentally noting details that give a garment a professional look. Perhaps one reason I can’t stop sewing is the flood of ideas that come from all corners of the globe. As long as you people continue to make awesome stuff I will continue to either find suggestions in what you’ve done, or to straight out copy it.

While my early beginnings were experimental and truly “self-taught” I would say I am now taught by YOU. If you’ve ever created a pattern, put anything on the internet, or shared your tips for the perfect knit hem, or the neatest bias binding application, then you have been my teacher. Maybe not directly, but the great whirlpool of information and inspiration that we share on sites like KCW means our own modest efforts get picked up, improved upon and then circulated back to us.

recent garments

1. Apple Picking dress     2. Made for Kids Month    3. KCW: Mini Me

Perhaps what will keep me sewing, rather than drifting off to discover some new hobby, is this very community. When we feed off each other we all get so much better. I never cease to be delighted when people make comments about my sewing, but I’m especially proud of who we are when someone comments favourably on something I’ve done, which was a blatant copy of what they’d done themselves a season earlier. You don’t find generosity of spirit like that in too many other endeavours. Sewing folk rock.

Thanks to the KCW blog for having me. I’ve had such fun chatting and sewing with you all. Until next season,

Shelley xx