Blog

HST blocks pieced together
Patchwork, Zippered pouches

patchwork pouch in scrappy half square triangles

Sometimes I think it’s not physically possible for me to get rid of fabric scraps. There’s always a chance I might find some use for even the smallest of pieces, and I end up saving them and sorting them by colour and size.

Usually those scraps end up in the EPP hexagon quilt, but some time back I suddenly felt like piecing things using the machine, and decided that triangles would be a good idea. I pulled out some of the scraps and then chose some low volume fabric to pair the scraps with.

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I chain-pieced the half square triangles (or HSTs) without deciding on a final pattern. I still find the name HST a bit odd, even after following quilting blogs and admiring pretty Instagram feeds for years. It’s basically a square cut diagonally, so you get two triangles from it. (For the more geometry-minded, it’s an isosceles right triangle — a 90° triangle with two sides with the same length.) There are faster methods to making the blocks, usually by stitching two squares together and then slicing them up, but I wanted the pairs to be in as many different combinations as possible, so no shortcuts for me.

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One thing about HSTs that I find not very fun is squaring up the blocks. Just look at that pile of trimmings! I suppose it’s one of those inevitable things. It also doesn’t seem to matter how accurately I cut the triangles — the square block always finishes up a bit off. I’ve learned that it’s best to cut them a bit larger and then trim than trying to get the perfect square from piecing them together.

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I decided to have the light-coloured pieces point in the same direction, and ended up with this configuration. I pulled out the blocks randomly from a pile before arranging them in a row, sometimes shifting them around when two blocks with the same colour were next to each other.

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Those two panels became the main body of a simple flat zippered pouch. The patchwork panels were interfaced (but not quilted) and I added a PVC leather accent to the bottom and used it for the zip tabs as well. The lining is a dark brown fabric with flowers. It turned out pretty well, don’t you think?

The pouch is available in my Etsy shop now. I still have quite a few more HST blocks unused, so I might make another!

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tracing out the seam allowance
Garment-making

sometimes I make clothes, too

Stylish Dress Book, by Yoshiko Tsukiori
Stylish Dress Book: Wear With Freedom, by Yoshiko Tsukiori

I’ve had this book for ages. I have, in my defence, made some of the dresses in the book, but definitely not all 26 of them. Partly because some of them are in a style I would never wear or could never carry off, and partly because I already found the go-to pattern for my new tops and I like sticking to things that work.

The newest blouse I made is a combination of two patterns in this book: the body was from Dress F and the sleeves were an adjusted version from Dress B. Since I already had the patterns traced and cut out, this was a pretty fast affair.

The patterns had been stored away forever and the crease marks were so sharp, ha. I keep them folded in labelled envelopes. I had to iron them so they could lay flat.

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I usually don’t include the seam allowances in the patterns I trace. I just mark them directly on to the fabric. I know there are all sorts of fancy tools and gauges these days to measure and mark the seam allowance, but I tend to do it the low-tech, old-fashioned way.

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Yep, that’s a card from a recycled box with the seam allowance’s width written on it in pencil. Then I just go around the pattern, marking the fabric with a tailor’s chalk. The fabric is an apparel-weight cotton, and I didn’t even bother tracing the pattern (using a tracing wheel and tracing paper, etc) on the fabric, since I was pretty confident with my abilities to keep to the seam allowance just using the guide on the sewing machine. I just marked where the notches were and it worked pretty well!

I didn’t take any more pictures until the top was done. Next time, I’ll have to remember to measure the length of the wrist elastic on me instead of following the measurements in the book; it’s definitely a tad too large.

Dress F body + Dress B sleeves

I also forgot to adjust the stitch length as I was top-stitching the neckline, oops. It doesn’t look too bad (and no one’s going to see it under my hijab/shawl anyway), but it still bothers me a bit, yet not enough for me to unpick and redo it!

Dress F body + Dress B sleeves. Details of neckline.

For now I’m just making clothes for myself and not for sale.

As always, if you’re interested in handmade bags and pouches, you can check out my Etsy or Shopee shops. There’s a pencil case and a wristlet using this same fabric!

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Small pencil case in purple with purple berries and blue leaves
Pencil cases, Zippered pouches

new pencil cases in purple (and other colours, too)

Things rarely ever go to plan, do they? I’m in the midst of organising (and re-organising) stuff, and this blog has been on the back burner for a while. While I try to get things up to schedule, have a look at the pencil cases with a touch of purple made recently:

 

All of them are available in my Etsy and Shopee shops.

If you’d like to order them in other fabrics or combinations, contact me and I’ll be happy to make some pouches in the fabric of your choice.

Five large pencil cases
Pencil cases, Zippered pouches

new pencil cases

One of the staples of my Etsy and Shopee shops: pencil cases!

Five large pencil cases

I make them in two sizes. The large ones measure 20 × 5 × 5 cm (8 × 2 × 2″) and the small ones 20 × 3.5 × 3.5 cm (8 × 1½ × 1½″). They might not look all that large in photos, but even the small pencil case can fit up to 20 pencils!

This batch is all large pencil cases, though. I try to keep around the same number of large and small pencil cases in the shop, but the small ones are slightly more popular. Both come in all sorts of colours and prints (polka dots are a favourite).

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This group is mostly blue/purple and neutrals. I fuse the exterior fabric to a stabiliser or interfacing to make the fabric stiffer and also to make sure the pencil case keeps its shape instead of collapsing into itself. I like my pencil cases sturdy and boxy.

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I almost spend as much time choosing the lining fabric inside the pouches as the exterior fabrics. And the zips too, of course! Sometimes auditioning the best match takes longer than actually cutting into the fabric.

The inside of the pencil cases have no exposed seam allowances — all of the messy guts are cleverly hidden. I slip stitch the small opening I use to turn the pencil case inside out (or is it outside in?) by hand, because I think it’s neater than using the sewing machine, even though it does take  a bit more time.

You can even choose from the fabrics here and request a custom order. Just contact me either by email or on Etsy or Shopee,  and I’ll be happy to make you a pencil case in the fabrics of your choice.

View of a portion of the quilt
English paper piecing

hexagons all the way!

I’m slightly mad about hexagons.

Seriously. Other polygons are nice and all, but hexagons are my favourite.

An English paper pieced flower.

I didn’t quite have the same enthusiasm for them before I rediscovered English paper piecing (or EPP for short). I was taught by my aunt many moons ago, but I wasn’t hooked on it then, since it was a lot of work and had to be done by hand. Basically, you baste a piece of fabric around a paper-cut shape so that it’s stable, then you hand stitch the basted pieces together. A few years ago my interest in the technique was rekindled when I realised that I could work on the hexies on the go, and it made a great portable project.

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I’ve seemed to have lost my childhood dislike of hand stitching and now find it calming and almost therapeutic. It’s slow, yes, but there’s something soothing in the deliberate motions of hand sewing.

Rosette set into the quilt

This is only one of my many EPP projects, since I can’t seem to stop myself when I get a new idea or see pretty pictures on Instagram or Pinterest.

View of a portion of the quilt

I call this one Round and round the garden, since obviously grandma’s assistant had gone a bit nuts looking at those beautifully arranged gardens and started seeding this one willy nilly.

This is another of those things not listed in the Etsy or Shopee shops, but this time it’s because it takes forever to finish and, if I priced it fairly, no one could afford it (including myself). I might make smaller things like pincushions or cushion covers for sale in the future, but for now there are no immediate plans.

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Interior of wallet
Wallets

custom order bifold wallets

Some of the things I make don’t get listed in the Etsy or Shopee shops, mostly because they’re custom orders. I usually make a sample or two, and let people choose which fabric(s) they’d like for the bag or the pouch.

I finished and sent out three custom wallets last week. The original design has two bill slots, one zippered coin compartment, and six card slots.

Three custom made wallets.

Here’s a look of the inside of two of the wallets.

The card slots can fit up to three cards each, and the bill slots are large enough to fit receipts, coupons and certain phones. When folded, the wallets measure 21 × 11 cm (or 8¼ × 4¼”).

The third wallet has twelve card slots and no zippered compartment, as requested by the customer.

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It looks pretty striking, doesn’t it? I try to pair the main fabric with matching colours, but sometimes contrast is great to.

If you’re interested in a custom wallet of your own, contact me! You can email me or chat with me on Etsy or Shopee, and I’ll be happy to make a custom wallet in the fabric of your choice.

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Site updates

a brand new start

One of my resolutions this year was to add more items to my Etsy shop, and I’ve been trying to add an item every day. This seemed like a better idea than dumping a lot of listings in one go since they’ll all expire on the same day. Of course, I’m hoping that they’ll sell before they expire, but planning ahead always helps!

etsypage
My Etsy shop at charleycomehome.etsy.com.

I’ve been doing this since December 2016, and it’s going pretty well. I skipped some days (most of the public holidays, I think), but I’ve been pretty consistent!

The other resolution was to spruce up this site and use it as a blog. Initially I was using it to list items, since the primary site for Malaysian buyers was Facebook, and things get disorganised pretty fast over there. I was convinced by a Shopee representative to open a shop there, and if nothing else, at least I get to group items by category on their site. People still seem to prefer to contact me through Facebook or WhatsApp to make a purchase, and I’m completely fine with that. (More star ratings on Shopee would be much appreciated, though!)

shopeepage
My Shopee shop at shopee.com.my/charleycomehome.

I’m still not sure what I’m going to blog about, aside from shop updates. I’m thinking of chronicling my crafting attempts here, even ones not directly related to the shop, like my love for English paper piecing (hexagons all the way!) and my inability to stop starting new projects. I’ll figure it out along the way, I suppose.

Hello!