Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Ordering from OS

I had a question from Suzy who asked me how long it takes for delivery to Australia, so I thought I would put the answer up as a blog in case there are others who are thinking about it.

The answer is... it all depends! I know that is a bit of a cop out - but let me explain. My experiences with ordering from OS - basically the USA - has been mixed but on the whole positive.

I can only speak from my experiences. The longest it has taken to get fabric has been 4.5 weeks and the shortest has been 5 days - yes 5 days all the way from the USofA. It seems to depend on what company you order from and how much you order.

I used to order a lot of fabric from DenverFabrics.com. I have read lots of bad reviews regarding the customer service from this company but I never had to contact them as all of my orders were filled correctly and I was impressed with the fabric I received. The reason I stopped ordering from them is the cost of shipping. Often a lot more than the cost the fabric itself. I worked it out and with the escalated shipping costs from this company you don't really end up saving much. And you don't know how much it is going to cost you in shipping until after it ships and they charge you. It takes approx a month for delivery from here.

I wanted to order from FabricMart.com - they have lots of lovely looking fabric - however the level of customer service I received when I made an enquiry about shipping left me cold so I struck them off the list.

I have had good experiences from fabric.com - both with queries and products. I find that if you put items into your cart and go to check out - change the country to Australia it will tell you how much the shipping costs will be and you can make your decision then. I tend to split my orders so that I pay $24 odd in shipping and I can usually get about 10 yards or so of fabric for this cost. When you go over 10 yards (or so - I guess it also depends on the weight of the fabric) the costs go up to around $70 odd. It will go up from there. Bottom line is - if you go even half a yard over the cut off weight the cost of shipping over doubles - so I just take things out of the cart until I get to the $24 shipping (I play around until I get it just right amount as the more fabric you order for your $24 shipping the more value for you). I have found it to take 5 days for these deliveries. NOTE - if you put less in your basket and the shipping costs go under this amount they send it a different way and it takes weeks to arrive.

Let's talk about patterns. Now Suzy - I don't know where you get your patterns from but sewingpatterns.com have cheap patterns and the shipping is reasonable - NOTE - it does take weeks to get here and if you order so many that it takes more than one envelope they split it and the second envelope can take even longer. I did get one order that went missing but the company resent it at no cost so I am happy with their service.

Remember - you do run the risk of not getting what you think you ordered, not receiving your order or having other problems and I have heard some shocking stories regarding customer service. You do run the risk - but for me the risk has paid off with some gorgeous fabric that is a lot cheaper than you can get here - I often order matching cotton as well as that is cheaper too. If the fabric you receive is not what you wanted - often the cost of returning for a refund is not worth it.

Hope this helps - does anyone what to share where they get cheap fabric?

I thought I would show you 6 of my favourite fabrics that haven't appeared on my blog yet. Do you have favourite fabrics that you can show on your blogs?

PS - I had to buy another storage crate to store my purchases (this makes 3 x 81 litre full to brim).. However when my family complained I just showed them the blogs of Shannon at Hungry Zombie Couture and Sewphisticated Lady and they shut up!

Monday, 30 January 2012

The fabric of life

Thanks for your comments on my last blog. Picnicfan - you are quite right - it is not a diet - not even a real BIG change (they don't work for me). I am just going to incorporate more movement and less late night snacks (which is my main downfall) and try a more low GI approach to most food. (Not all - I will treat myself - looking loooooong term)

No being too strict and trying to change too much too soon.

Back to the fabric - I guess we are all fabricholics. So due to questions about what is in the boxes .... In addition to the fabrics in my earlier confessions of a fabricholic post, this is what came:

Ambiance Bemberg Lining Black and Camel

Love the feel of this lining. I originally heard of it through a blog for a person named Shams so thought I would try it. (Gotta love the Internet and this whole sewing community) It has a lovely hand (see - I'm learning the lingo). I have purchased some patterned charmeuse for some linings but wanted some plain ones so these are them. I ordered 5 yards of each.

The below is 100% wool - cross hatched lightweight in oat colour and absolutely lovely. Much nicer than I thought it would be at $3.99 per yard on sale. I worked out that the postage added 2.03 per yard which came to a total of  $6.02 per yard. (I divided the postage for the order by the amount of yards in that order) Prices of fabric in Australia are quite expensive and to pay $6.00 per yard for 100% wool is a great bargain - surely now you can see why I had to break my fabric fast!!!??  - the sale ended at midnight that night - no time to even contemplate.

I have added a picture of the pattern I have allocated to it. I am thinking of perhaps using this in May for the natural fabric comp at Pattern Review - if it meets the criteria. Believe me - I have had a few misses when it comes to ordering over the Internet - but the picture doesn't really do it justice. LOVING IT.

Cross Hatch 100% Wool Suiting Oat

The below was also on sale - it is a blended wool - mostly polyester (80%) and 20% wool - still at $2.79 per metre on sale ($6.00 per metre if we add postage - gotta feel envious of the sewers in the USA) it is still a bargain for me down under. The pattern I am thinking of for it is below. Although it says red it is lovely Autumn colour combination of red / Gold / Orange etc. It is a winter weight (Aussie winter that is)

Wool Blend Suiting Autumn Red

The below is another favoured material from the latest delivery. Again it is 100% wool . A lovely lightweight wool with a beautiful feel. On sale it was a staggering $3.99 per yard - $6.00 py  with postage. I am thinking of the dress in the below pattern for this to go with a jacket (different pattern for the jacket) made in  the raw silk houndstooth from earlier confessions of a fabricholic blog

100% Wool Suiting Midnight Blue

The below is a lovely "sueded" ITY knit jersey. It does have a different feel to it but I wouldn't necessarily say "sueded". It seems to catch a little and may show every lump and bump (although it does feel beautiful). It was not on sale and was $5.98 or $8.29 per yard including postage. I had originally thought of the below pattern that I purchased a couple of years ago (on my original short termed forage into sewing) but had done nothing with. I might re-think this after testing out how the fabric looks against cellulite!!

Sueded Stretch Jersey ITY Knit Brown/Gold

The below 2 purchases were a little disappointing, They were labeled as Ponte knit. My understanding of Ponte knit from RTW purchases is a denser knit with less give. Still a "matt' looking knit with SOME give. I have some Ponte slacks. I purchased the below Ponte Knits in both Berry and Black for a total of $8.30 per yard. I had in mind Pamelas Patterns Magic Pencil Skirt (Dying to try this pattern afer seeing Debbie Cook's review) and Banded Jacket. The fabric is unlike any knit I know with NO give whatsoever (except on the bias) and a "shiny' look to it. I don't know whether the misunderstanding is an Aussie / USA translation thing or a Fabric.com thing. Will have to give this fabric some thought now.

Thanks for indulging me in my ramblings about fabric. I LOVE fabric. I just looked at my credit card statement and almost passed out.... car needed major service / wheel alignment etc this month plus green slip and rego - cost almost $2,000 all up, and that along with all of my fabric and pattern purchases and everyday living costs have almost wiped me out. Will recover once my clients pay the bills for the month.... But for the moment I am hyperventilating. Can't wait until February turns over... Hmmmmmmm - red dress contest ..... Hmmm

Hey on other news- my birthday is coming up (March) and my family are going to buy me a DRESS FORM!!!!! Wow (they are not very cheap here in AUS) so this is a real treat!

What about you.. What have you bought lately?

It's weighing on my mind.

I get a lot of enjoyment reading blogs and following the lives, successes and disappointments of fellow sewers. A few of the writers of the blogs I follow are on a journey to health and it has inspired me to look at my own health - or lack thereof.

I have been a big lass since I started to pile on weight at age 7 and I didn't stop. Back in 2005 I joined a gym where I exercised and had a weekly personal trainer. I lost about 20kgs and heaps of inches over the course of almost 2 years.

Then my work circumstances changed and I left the gym and I have since gained the weight back and all those pesky kgs brought friends back with them and so I have put on even more weight.

Now - I am not a big eater. I am not one of these people that eat 2 plates of food - or even large amounts on one plate. My problem is the types of food I eat AND THAT I DON'T MOVE!!

My aim is not become thin - this will not happen and I am realistic. My aim is to send those pesky 20+kgs back to where they were when I stopped going to the gym and to look and feel a bit better.

One of my motivations is I have all of this beautiful fabric and I can image beautiful garments that will look a bit better on me when I lose the weight.

And I have a confession to make..... remember the blog about breaking my fabric fast - well it well and truly broke and I have had a touch of fabric fever since then. And look what was just delivered all the way from the USA:

There are some gorgeous fabrics in these boxes (already opened and drooled over) and I have already allocated them patterns in OneNote. I will still be sewing according to my plan - no use waiting and it is all good practice. But I will be making smaller garments within the year.... How small ... well we shall wait and see.



I WANT TO PUT THIS OUT THERE! Both as a motivation to myself - now that I have announced it I will be able to keep to it better - and also I enjoy seeing the people that I have "met" through their blogs get smaller and I am hoping that I will get the same motivation from others.

Let's see how I go.

Friday, 27 January 2012

SWAP - Sewing with a Plan

I have decided I need a plan!

I am overwhelmed by the amount of patterns and materials I have and therefore I have decided to use OneNote (Promise I am not affiliated with Microsoft!!) to do up a SWAP for 2012. I am also wanting to enter some of the Pattern Review contests this year (finally my new member 3 month moratorium is up) and so I have been looking at what I want to do.....

I am spending so much time organising and not sewing - that is because I am waiting for Feb to start to commence my red dress for the PR red dress contest. I have made a muslin - it needs a couple more tweaks - I adjusted my pattern - I have purchased my materials --- haven't washed them yet.... do I REALLY need to? And am almost ready to start!

Bring on February.

Anyways - here is my 2012 plan (loving one note). I feel a lot more calmer now - I was feeling overwhelmed with boxes of patterns and fabric and not knowing where to begin (apart from the red dress).

Where I have 2 patterns I will do either pattern - if I have time I can do both - but I doubt it. Still have to work out what I am going to do in June - it is the One Pattern Many Looks contest and I am not sure what that means? Apart from using one pattern to create many looks of course - LOL! I mean, can you use different views in the pattern or do you have to use the one view and change it yourself. I suppose we will have to wait to find out.

Here is my February - red dress

Does anyone else have a plan for 2012?

Thursday, 26 January 2012

I am loving OneNote

I have been spending time playing with OneNote today and guess what - it has an app!

I have downloaded the app on my iPhone, signed up for a free MSMLive account and have synced my OneNote to my iPhone so now I have all of my patterns and fabric on my phone.

I have taken some screen shots of my phone so that I can show you what the app looks like:

This shows the OneNote books I have on the screen of my phone (One of the personal books should read patterns - still working it out):

I chose the "patterns book and this shows the categories of my patterns on the screen of my phone:

I chose "Wardrobe" and below shows the patterns I have in this category:

I chose S1945

I can then scroll down and look at fabric requirements / notions needed etc:

Using finger zoom I zoom in on info needed:

Then I zip over to my fabric book

I chose knits and here are the knits I have

I picked the Puckered Knit

And used finger zoom to check out how much of this fabric I have:

All from my phone!!!

LOVE IT. Have a look on your computer. You might already have it. If not, you may be able to download a trial version to check it out. 

Happy Oz Day

To all the Aussies out there in Sewing Land -

Happy Australia Day

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Recording of patterns and fabric

I have been reading many blogs on organisation. Organising fabric, accessories, patterns etc and I came across a blog "SewphisticatedLady" and she has a MAGNIFICENT system for recording patterns and fabric in a database. It is using One Note which I already had installed with Microsoft Office 10.

Now - for a living I teach adults how to use Microsoft Word, Excel. PowerPoint, Publisher and Access (in addition to other business subjects) and I had never ventured into One Note. I had a 5 min play when I first got it but wasn't inspired to learn more.

Now I have been playing for a couple of hours now AND LOVE IT! Thank you Dorothy AKA Sewphisticated Lady!! Here are some shots of what I have done:

 You can see my categories up the top and the 2 files I have on the left (Patterns and fabric). Down the Right are all the pages I have added under wardrobe category.

It is so easy. You go the website - in the above case Butterick, click on your pattern and then when it opens right mouse click and choose - send to One Note

It will the open a new page and name the page. I renamed the pages to what I wanted and you need to "clean up" by deleting the stuff that comes over with it (the rest of the website page) and then that is it! Very fast - very easy.

You can see in the next page I have even added the fabric from my stash that I want to use for the pattern.

And in my fabric file I have the information of when I purchased it and for how much etc. And I add a pattern if I have one in mind:

I am loving this system - isn't it great we can learn from each other and get hints and tips to help us?

Confessions of a Fabricholic

Hi, My name is BeaJay and I am a fabricholic.

Succumbing to Fabric Fever last year, I spent an awful amount of money on fabric... Now I know from reading blogs - that there are many many many more people out there in sewing land who have much more fabric than I do. What worries me is that I have only been sewing for a few months now and am still not great at it.. So... I joined in the PatternReview Fabric Fast - and last night I fell off the wagon!!

What could I do? Fabric.com had some lovely fabric on sale (some of it ending last night) so I indulged and purchased the following:

On Sale:

Cross Hatch Wool Suiting Oat - 100% Wool

$3.99 yard

Wool Suiting Midnight Blue - 100% Wool

$3.99 yard

Wool Blend Suiting Autumn Red 80% Polyester / 20% Wool

$2.79 yard

Cotton Blend Houndstooth

Suiting Cream/Charcoal - 50% cotton/50% rayon

$2.39 yard

 Not on Sale:

Uptown Raw Silk Suiting Houndstooth Blue/White/Beige - 100% Silk


$9.98 yard

I also brought 5 yards of ambiance lining in black and 5 yards in camel...

Now I am hanging my head in shame....

I have also purchased more patterns so I am going to work on a SWAP - sewing with a plan - for this year as I don't know where to start!!

Did anyone else buy this week?

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Wow - and I thought I had storage licked!

I have just spent some time looking at the blog of Hungry Zombie Couture and I must say I am impressed!! Talk about organised! All I can say is WOW.. I am envious of the wonderful sewing room, cutting / storage table and of course - fabric room..

Now I thought I was amassing a stash! I have nothing to worry about for some time yet!

If you haven't stopped by this the HZC site before - do yourself a favour and have a look!
Hungry Zombie Couture

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Storage solutions

First thing I do in the morning is read the blogs I follow and then I check in with PatternReview to see what has been sewn and check in with the message board and read the posts that interest me.

One discussion I follow is Sewing Down Under and here I found a discussion about storage so thought I would share my system.

I store patterns in white boxes purchased from Officeworks. They are philosophy brand and fit the patterns lying down - not ideal as you need to pull the patterns out to flick through but I like the look of the boxes. If anyone knows a box that looks good and can store the patterns standing up so they can be flicked through. I tend to put summer / spring patterns together and autumn / winter ones together.

For larger patterns - think Jalie, StyleArc etc - I use lever-arch files with plastic envelopes (again from officeworks - love that store). These envelopes are also great for using once a pattern is cut. They also fit some of those pattern books.

For my feet - I use a box purchased from Spotlight. This is great because it keeps the feet safe and you can also remove partitions to fit larger feet. I couldn't say if it would fit all feet - come can get quite big - but fits what I have. I also take a picture of the foot and glue it to the cardboard description that came with it so I know how to use it and what foot is what. I keep these cardboard instructions in a purse I made during my second sewing lesson. This also holds marking pens, seam rippers, small scissors etc.

What do you use?

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Simplicity 2917

While I am taking a break from Lutterloh, I thought that I would sew a dress that I tried to make a couple of years ago (when I was making the lounge cover). It didn't work for me as I couldn't work out how to do the neckline properly. I also forgot to interface some of the facings (read got lazy instead of forgot - but at the time I didn't fully understand the importance of interfacing and thought the pattern company was going overboard). Hence I didn't finish the dress and packed it away with my Janome.

I dug it out and considered it a "muslin" and learnt from my mistakes with that version to help me create my new version.

I liked the shape for my body - didn't look like a tent.

Here is the first version (from a couple of years ago). Note the gaping armholes and the extra material above the bust. I didn't bother hemming it as I am not going to wear it. I intended to wear it with a jacket (don't like my chicken wings showing).

I cut the shorter version.

New version - I added sleeves:

(Disregard thread hanging from hem - I have cut it off now!) The hem looks a little uneven in some pictures but it was very breezy when the pictures were taken.


I think I still need to do some work on fit. I think the shoulders are too wide for me. That could be because I didn't use the standard 5/8 inch seam allowance but skimmed it with overlocker. The muslin was a bit tight so thought I would give it a bit of ease by doing that. I should have still sewn it with the 5/8 inch as the material has stretch - oh well - you live and learn. I also want to take it in a bit under the arms.

Speaking of learning... there were a few things I learnt today.

1. Let's face it - I HATE FACINGS. The facings took the most amount of time. This is because I cut them and interfaced them but as I did not put in a zipper - the facing's were out in size. I had to add to the facing to make it fit. While I did that I taped the front and back facings together to cut as one - giving only one seam on the facing - at the back. I saw this tip in Threads DVD.

2. When you change the cotton on the needle on the overlocker - REMEMBER TO PUT THE TENSION BACK. I changed the cotton on the outside needle at the begining of this project and didn't realise that I forgot to put the tension back to 3 after ---- hence ---- the whole dress is sewn on 0 tension on the outside needle. I only noticed when I was hand hemming. I thought - why do the stictches look so funny... I take comfort from the fact that the other needle was on the right tension.

3. I LOVE my overlocker. Takes so much tedium out of sewing and gives a much better result.

First version - without overlocker

With the ELNA

4. Fitting a garment during sewing doesn't mean to throw it over your head with side seams unsewn and pinch it together with your fingers!! It really does need two people or a dress form!

5. Taking things out of a pattern (like zippers) has an affect on other parts of the pattern! Duh!

Pattern review:

Pattern Description: Misses or Plus Size Dresses, Tunic, Skirt and Tie Belt

I used C dress and added sleeves

Pattern Sizing: 10 - 28 in 2 envelopes

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes - but of course bigger!

Were the instructions easy to follow? Instructions were good. I didn't follow all of them - no zipper.. I also sewed in the sleeves in a different way. I sewed in the cap and then sewed the sides of the dress and up and then the sleeves in one go.. Can't remember what this is called but the only way I was shown before my sewing teacher retired .... Anyone know a good sewing teacher near inner west Sydney????? And can anyone tell me what the advantage is of sewing the whole sleeve and then inserting it?

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the princess seams, the options for different lengths. Went together easily.

Fabric Used: Cotton Sateen from Spotlight

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I didn't put in a zipper (which played a bit of havoc with my facings), I added about 2 cms to the sleeves and I removed about 2 cms from the above the bust.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes - I plan to sew this again (taking in the lessons learnt with this one) Yes - I would definitely recommend it.

Conclusion: A good shaped dress and relatively easy to sew - Hey if I can do it ........