Monthly Archives: September 2014

Around the world blog hop button

Around the World Blog Hop

Last week I was nominated by Rachael from Sew Today, Clean Tomorrow (who is about to host her second  Beginner Quilt Along if you’re interested) to join the Around the World Blog Hop and was pretty excited as it’s my first. It’s a great way to discover new clever crafty people and learn more about why they write and what they do. I don’t think anyone knows where the hop originated – if you know please share!

So onto my responses to the questions –

1. What am I working on?  For the past 7 weeks I’ve been learning how to draft and grade sewing patterns in Adobe Illustrator with the Digital Pattern Drafting course with Burda Style. Taught by Lauren Dahl from Pattern Workshop, it shows how to use the Winifred Aldrich books to draft pattern blocks (slopers in the US) directly in Illustrator. Then you can manipulate the shapes to create any sewing pattern you like – it’s pretty fantastic and I’m learning a lot.

I’m also about to start my first quilting blog hop hosted by Linen from Vine Lines Quilting. Feeling a bit anxious about this project as I’ve only just decided to sew quilts, and so I’m expecting a HUGE learning curve coming my way.


Learning to grade my patterns with Illustrator is going to be a HUGE time saver!

2. How does my blog differ from others of its genre?  I’d like to think that Stitching Rules differs from other sewing blogs by showing beyond beginner level techniques. There are plenty of sites you can visit for learning to sew basics, but I noticed there wasn’t much on offer for beyond that – things you only learn while working in the sewing industry – particularly the fashion and soft furnishings industries. I know lately I’ve been playing with different challenges and collaborative projects, but my heart is with sharing knowledge to people who’d like to sell their creations. There are plans for writing about altering commercial and indie patterns so you can sell at the markets or online, and I’d love to write a series about planning a range from scratch ready to open your own online store.

creating a sewing plan for bulk sewing

3. Why do I write what I do? Because I’m passionate about sewing!  I’m of the opinion that if you’re planning on sewing something to sell, then you’d better be prepared to make it the best it can be – and better quality than mass produced items. I’d like to raise the standards of sewing to a level where “handmade” is no longer thought of as a quick, cheaper option.

I understand some people may not agree – that any effort to make for yourself should be celebrated. And that is true – but if you want to SELL those items – it needs to be better!

Martha Stewart 1

4. How does my creating process work? Ideas are percolating in my head most of the time, but once I’ve got an idea for a design, be it clothing, a bag or accessory, I sketch out the idea and start calculating measurements and dimensions. I have a hard cover notebook and write each new idea on a separate page – this enables me to stick samples of fabric and write pattern making  notes. If anything needs tweaking later I add those details too.

If I decide the design is a winner, I either write it up as a tutorial for the blog or develop it into a pattern to be sold as a PDF download for the Etsy shop. This brings us back to the reason for doing the digital pattern drafting course as I’ll be able to produce a more professional looking pattern.

Sketching - always sketching.

Sketching – always sketching.

So there you have it – I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about what I do and how I do it. Feel free to ask any further questions about my process because you can be sure that if you’re wondering, someone else will be too.

Next week I’d like you to visit two special sewing bloggers – Jen and Claire.

Claire Bear Quilts is going to share her responses to the blog hop questions and you’ll see the fabulous work she does with her quilting. Claire was one of the lovely people I met in the Aussie Handmade Birthday Club on Instagram and if you missed it you can see what she made in this post here.

Jen is the dedicated writer behind the One Thimble digital sewing magazine and is always creating new children’s patterns for her label Ainslee Fox Handmade. Click here to visit One Thimble.


ahbc1 logo

Handmade Gifts are the Best!

Do you make gifts for your sewing friends? This collection of goodies might spark an idea or two for your Christmas list this year.

All of this handmade goodness was the result of a simple call out on Instagram about a birthday club.  Tara, aka @sewforshoes, wanted to share the gifting love and started collecting names for a birthday swap for Australian Instagramers who appreciate handmade. Within hours the lists were filling and by the end of the week four groups were formed – each with 12 members – one for each month.

Cyber stalking of Pinterest accounts, emailing and secret IG messages are all part of the fun as friendships are formed and talents are shared.  I was lucky enough to be the birthday girl for August – our kick off month – and here’s a look at what was delivered to my door. Prepare to be blown away by the creativity and generosity of the handmade community in Australia.

You need to check out these ladies on Instagram – so much talent!


From the lovely @spanzy I received a divided basket and matching zippered pouch as well as some fabric and chocolate.


@sippingteaquilts noticed my love of hexies and made a mini quilt. Paired with some fabric and chocolate – yum!


Hello Kitty liberty fabric (!!!), crochet coasters, a felted bowl and some lace trims from @bluebeehive.


Tara (the instigator/organiser) @sewsforshoes found some lovely Heather Bailey fabric I love and made a tote bag and matching purse. And the fudge was yummo!


Some good research by @belloquacity revealed my love of stationery. A covered journal, zippered pouch, coaster, drawstring pouch and a selection of paper goodies. And even a Hello Kitty figurine.


A sewing basket of my dreams – love it @clairebearquilts!


Did I mention I added some celebrities to my wish list? @scorpnac found a way to deliver. A purse, bee fabric, cake pincushion, piping and lace trims all in a HK gift box.


Chocolate, fabric, ribbon and a mini quilt – a perfect pressie from @onceuponadonkey


And the gorgeous mini quilt from @onceuponadonkey – love it!


A beautiful hand embroidered wall hanging and yoyo bunting from @coleandtaffy. She also discovered my love of washi tape.


More clever stalking from @rainbowkelf – Heather Bailey fabric made into a sew-together bag, a needle case and pincushion. Some quilting pens, HK fabric and chocolate.

thank you shequiltsalot

More Heather Bailey goodness from @shequiltsalot – four perfect placemats, a monogrammed coaster, tissue holder and pattern weights.

So have you been inspired to start that Christmas gift list yet? Or even start your own birthday swap with a group of friends.

I’ll share some more ideas and inspiration for you in a post next week so keep a look out for that. Maybe you’d like to subscribe and have the post delivered to your inbox. Just fill in the details in the box in the sidebar on the right.

babushka collage

Challenge Results – Creative Challenge

Last month Clare from Clares Craftroom put out a call on Facebook for people interested in taking part in a creative challenge.  Without thinking about how much work I already had lined up for the month I accepted, and emailed her for more details. Another project wouldn’t take up that much time could it?

Here’s what I was sent – an image of matryoshka dolls and a paint swatch named Dulux WaratahClare's Craftroom challenge inspiration

I ummed and ahhed for a few days and let the ideas simmer – you know – till you’ve only got a few days left to get something made. The idea of doing something traditional with the dolls was in the back of my mind so I Googled the meaning behind matryoshka dolls and discovered that they were traditionally considered a symbol of fertility, representing future generations.  Dating back to 1890 Russia, each set contains 8 pieces and carved from soft  linden wood. You can read more about them here.

From this I knew I needed to hand stitch, and since I’ve been wanting to do an embroidery project, this was going to be the one. I checked Pinterest for a few images and came across this pattern on Etsy.Lova embroidery pattern EtsySo I started with some variegated embroidery thread and set to work. I can see a few things I’d do differently next time – like using two layers of fabric so the darker thread doesn’t show through. And making sure I had enough thread to finish the whole thing (her facial features and chin are a different shade – not variegated)  But I’m ok with how it turned out and now she’s going to hang in my workroom and smile at me while I work.babushka 1

I quite enjoyed the embroidery and am keen to pick up some more coloured threads next time I’m out.

Have your tried embroidery? Do you think this might be something you’d like to trial at your next market?