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Category: Sewing

New Toys – Clover Kanzashi Flower Templates

When I started writing this blog post nine days ago, I didn’t realise that I had so much to say about kanzashi. It’s taken me this long to gather all the information that I wanted to share and try out my kanzashi flower makers!

Kanzashi refers to the Japanese style of making fabric flowers. There are two styles of Kanzashi making, traditional and contemporary.

Traditional tsumami kanzashi are decorative hair ornaments, usually made with tiny squares of silk and a thick rice glue.

Tsumami Kanzashi by Atelier Kanawa

Large pieces of silk are hand dyed and starched, then cut into tiny squares, folded with tweezers and glued together to make decorative hair pieces. It’s quite amazing to watch experienced kanzashi makers at work, the speed and efficiency with which they work is dazzling.

There are artisans still making tsumami kanzashi in the traditional way but creating contemporary style pieces.

Kuniko Kanawa of Atelier Kanawa is one such artist. Make sure to check out her Youtube videos for inspiration. Especially interesting are her custom order records and a three part video in which she describes how traditional petals are made. Unfortunately the closeups won’t show you how they are made but the documentary I’ve included at the beginning of this post will show you much more clearly.

A few years ago I bought these two books on making Kanzashi in the traditional way. They’re in Japanese but the photographs are quite interesting and easy to follow.





The other style of kanzashi that are popular today are the sewn style.

In order to make the art form more accessible to today’s crafters, a technique using larger squares of silk or cotton has been developed. Whilst some people argue that this development detracts from the importance of traditional tsumami kanzashi, I disagree. I see it much as the way teneriffe lace developed into flower looming. A traditional, time consuming technique being developed for modern crafts people and materials.

I couldn’t say who pioneered this technique as it’s been passed around on the internet for at least ten years or so, with each crafter adding their own twists and additional techniques along the way.

Sewn kanzashi tend to be much simpler than most traditional pieces, however a larger number of folds have been developed. Whilst there are only two folds used in traditional kanzashi, I have found at least five styles of petal making in sewn kanzashi.

These videos show how to make four different styles of petals without the Clover tool.




Gathered petals made from a circle

Kanzashi-Making, by Sister Diane from Diane Gilleland on Vimeo.

And now to the point of this post!

In April Sortahubby gave me a set of Clover Kanzashi flower makers. As most stitchers would know, Clover is a Japanese company that makes all sorts of needlework gadgets and tools. Some of them are necessary items like crochet hooks, pins and fabric pens, while others are cool but not essential items like their quick yo-yo makers (which I love).
The Clover kanzashi flower makers.

At the time of writing this article, there are six different Clover kanzashi flower makers. They make three different styles of petals in two sizes.
Clover kanzashi templates
I have never made kanzashi by hand before so I can’t compare these with making them without a flower maker, however using these has inspired me to try all of the tutorials I have shown you above and I’ll be purchasing the Kanzashi in Bloom book as soon as I can.

I used medium weight cotton to make my flowers. I didn’t starch them because most of the fabrics were already quite crisp.

Here are the very first flowers that I made.

Flowers made with Clover's kanzashi templates.

I used self cover buttons to make the centres, and sewed them in. Self cover buttons are about to become another obsession of mine but I’ll tell you more about that later ๐Ÿ˜‰

I found the kanzashi flower makers very easy to understand and use. The whole process was quite enjoyable. The bonuses of using the flower makers were twofold. I didn’t have to measure and cut the fabric beforehand, which can be quite difficult when you have a two year old son running around! It also made it easy to use any odd shaped scraps of fabric I had lying around.

The other benefit is that you don’t have to make any folds, other than to fold your fabric scrap in half to begin with. If you have trouble with fine motor skills, or are just plain clumsy, you can still use these flower makers to make many petals that are exactly the same.

The two benefits are balanced out with two caveats though. If you use only these tools you are limited to making only two sizes of petals. You can still make quite dramatic flowers with many layers, but I feel the limit of only using two sizes of petals could become a problem for anyone wanting to make advanced designs. Clover are very interested in feedback from the people that use their tools though, so if enough people mentioned that they would like different sized flower makers, they may produce with them in the future. I recently asked them if they would consider making a square quick yo-yo maker, and after I pointed out to them how popular flower looms had become, they started selling their hana-ami loom again (I wonder how many other people begged them to re-release them as well!) ๐Ÿ™‚

The other problem, which may not end up being a problem at all, is the thin piece of plastic that holds the two halves of the template together. It seems quite strong but I would be concerned about how long it will last. Since I did really enjoy using them, I might have an update on that for you in the future.

My flowers are very simple, using just one template each. For the round petal flower on the top right, I folded two pieces of fabric and placed them on top of each other before closing the flower maker to create petals with contrast coloured centres. You can also make rings with different numbers of petals and stack them up, use four to make a butterfly, two for a heart or bow and so forth.

You can also combine the different templates to make more styles of flowers.


Here’s a Japanese video that shows how to use them

And some projects on the Clover Japan website
Finally, here’s post I wrote about kanzashi four years ago with links to some really great tutorials

So what do you think? Will you have a go at making kanzashi?

A little bit of sewing

Grab yourself a coffee, this is going to be a long one…

I have discovered that it’s a lot easier to sew in small bursts than knit. With a 10 1/2 month old baby it’s very important to be able to throw down whatever you’re doing at a moment’s notice to rescue him from being stuck under a kitchen chair (for example) and not lose your place in your project. Not losing your place is especially important since by the time you pick it up and figure out where you’re up to the baby has gotten himself stuck under the kitchen chair* again and you haven’t made any progress.

It’s also far too hot to knit or crochet, so this is what I’ve been up to over the last month or two.

Firstly, I finished the 21 pairs of baby pants!

These pants were all made from patterns that I drafted. For the pattern I used the flat trouser block from Metric Pattern Cutting for Children’s Wear and Babywear: From Birth to 14 Years by Winifred Aldrich. Two of the fleece pants were made with a two-piece pattern and the rest were one piece. The two piece pattern was made by cutting the block in half and adding seam allowance so I could get an extra 2 pairs out of my dwindling fabric.

Firstly, we have baby stretch-knit shorts. All made on my fabulous new overlocker from op-shop fabric. I went into the op shop one day thinking “I’d like to find some blue and brown knit fabrics to make the baby shorts” and found exactly that in the very first op shop I went into. I’d say that doesn’t happen often but the truth is I seem to have some weird kind of op-shopping mojo and I often find exactly what I’m looking for. I don’t find everything but it happens a great deal ๐Ÿ™‚

Baby Knit Shorts

Baby nerd shorts. Nerds are cool, therefore my baby needs baby nerd shorts. These are also op shop fabric. I don’t know what the fabrics are but these are real favourite “going out” shorts. The green is woven but very elastic so I’m guessing maybe there’s some lycra in it or something. The green ones are also known as Charlie’s golfing shorts.

Nerd-in-Training Baby Shorts

Blue baby camo pants. Lightweight cotton drill. The fabric from these was from the $2/m discard bin at Spotlight in Wollongong. I bought a meter, which should have provided me with enough fabric for a pair of shorts as well but it was cut really crooked so I didn’t have quite enough for the shorts. Boo to the person who cut it. Oh well, at least there’s enough left to do something with. I just don’t know what yet ๐Ÿ˜›

Sky Camo Baby Pants

Baby track pants. All op shop fabric! I spent about $20 on various fleecy over the Winter. It turned out to be an AWFUL lot of fabric. I swear there was something like 3 or 4 meters of the orange. However a redheaded baby can only wear so much orange before looking like a piece of fruit, so I only made pants, no sloppy joes with it.

Baby Track Pants

Long pyjama pants

Half of these get worn as daytime pants so maybe I should call them “versatile pants” or something…

Spotty and stripy cotton pants. This fabric was from Spotlight, about $4 per meter. I managed to get shorts out of them too. I love this fabric, it’s easy to sew and doesn’t cost much.

Long Baby Pyjama Pants

These are made from a light vintage cotton that I found in an op shop in Dapto. Dapto has some really great op shops. It has little horses wearing hats on it.

Baby pyjama pants

Another op shop find: stretch knit with trucks, tractors, cranes and bulldozers.

Baby knit pyjama pants

Microfibre pirate print, $5/m from Spotlight. I hate sewing microfibre. I need to learn more about how to control it. These kept gathering up as I was sewing.

Baby Pirate Pyjama Pants

Short pyjama pants

Yet more op shop fabric. The local op shops have such great fabric that I buy a lot there.
These are a very lightweight cotton with little dinosaurs driving trains. I don’t know why dinosaurs would be driving trains but there you go.

Baby pyjama shorts with trains

and these are the shorts I made from the previously mentioned spotty and stripy fabric.

Short baby pyjama pants

That’s it for the baby pants! Here’s a cost breakdown for anyone who might be interested:
# 1 pair of red plaid shorts from op-shop fabric. Cost approx 50c
# 4 pairs of jersey knit shorts from op shop fabric. Approx cost 50c each
# 1 pair of blue sky camo pants from $2/m clearance fabric from Spotlight. Cost approx $1.25
# 1 long and 1 short pair of pyjama pants รขโ‚ฌ” aqua with white dots. Cost approx $2 per pair
# 1 long and 1 short pair of pyjama pants รขโ‚ฌ” red and white stripe. Cost approx $2 per pair
# 1 pair of lime green plaid shorts from op-shop fabric. Cost approx 50c
# 1 pair of long microfibre pirate skull pyjama pants from $5/m clearance fabric. Cost approx $2.50
# 1 pair long jersey knit pyjama pants with trucks, cranes and bulldozers. Op shop fabric. Cost approx $2
# 1 pair short cotton pyjama pants with dinosaurs driving trains. Op-shop fabric. Cost approx $1.50
# 1 pair long cotton pyjama pants with horses wearing hats. Vintage op-shop fabric. Cost approx $1
# 6 pairs of long winter fleece track pants. Op-shop fabrics. Cost approx 50c to $1 per pair

I have also been sewing for my daughter. She gives me most of the ideas and then I see what I can come up with.

She’s going on her very first overseas trip soon so I made her this passport holder so she could keep postcards and stamps and whatnot in it as well. The outer fabric was a fat quarter that I bought for something else (not enough fabric), some brown satin binding from the op shop and for the pockets I used some fabric oddments that were given to me as a gift. I made the pattern up. It’s a bit wonky but who cares ๐Ÿ˜›

Passport Holder - Closed

Passport Holder - Open

Magic apron

The magic apron is from “First Steps in Dressmaking” by the Woman’s Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences Scranton PA 1949 Edition. It’s named thus because you draw the pattern straight onto the fabric and don’t need a paper pattern.

I really enjoyed the embroidery around the edges. I made a mistake on the strap (I folded it to the front instead of the back) but she didn’t mind so I left it that way. Next time I would make the seam allowances bigger than the 1/4″ in the pattern but that’s the only change I’d make.

Gingham magic apron

Shirred sun dress made from a souvenir sarong.

I fought hard with my machines to sew the shirring. I tried the sewing machine and couldn’t get it to gather. Then I tried the chain stitch on my overlocker and the elastic snapped. I ended up sewing 14 rows of 3.5mm long and 3.5mm wide zig-zag stitch with my sewing machine and threaded the elastic through it on the wrong side. An inelegant solution but it looks fine on the outside ๐Ÿ™‚

Things I will try are loosening the tension on the chain stitch looper on the overlocker to the point where the elastic doesn’t break any more and see if that gathers. I’ve also seen the hint that if you have a sewing machine with a drop in bobbin, to try putting the bobbin in the other way around.

My shirring rows are approximately 1.5cm apart and 5cm longer than the measurement from underarm to the point where I wanted it to finish. Elastic was cut 5cm shorter than the under bust measurement (don’t worry if it shrinks after cutting).

Shirred sun dress

Two simple floral hipster skirts.

Drafted from instructions in Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich (4th edition).
Waistband: Hipster waistband, page 96
Skirt: Slightly gathered skirt block, page 85
Once again this fabric was from the $2/m bin at Spotlight.

Floral skirt

Floral skirt

Floral Skirt

Floral Skirt

8 gore skirt with faced waistband.

I didn’t have enough fabric to make it as long as the blue skirt with suffolk puff trim (below) so I lowered the top to make it sit lower on the hips.

Pattern was traced from an existing skirt. I made small adjustments to the fit, added belt loops and lowered the top of the skirt.

Next time I would either slightly gather the trim or put little pleats where it meets a seam in the skirt.

Floral skirt laid out flat

8 gore skirt with suffolk puff trim

This skirt was made with the same pattern as the previous skirt. The waist sits a little higher on the hips because I had more fabric.

The main fabric is a medium weight cotton, $5 from the op shop and the suffolk puffs are made from scraps.

Skirt with suffolk puff trim

Suffolk Puff Skirt
Suffolk puff skirt

The suffolk puff trim on the skirt led to “Mum can you make me a blanket with those too?”
142 x 6cm suffolk puffs – it will take 900 to make a coverlet

142 Suffolk puffs

Which led to me thinking I should use the smaller scraps to make myself one with 4.5cm suffolk puffs

62 x 4.5cm suffolk puffs – it will take 1,600 to make my coverlet. I made one before which you can see here

62 x 4.5cm Suffolk Puffs

I use the Clover Quick Yo-Yo Makers to make my suffolk puffs. Below is a tutorial on using them which I put on youtube, or you can find out how to make them without any special tools by Heather Bailey.

But even after making two different size suffolk puffs I still had some usable pieces of fabric left. I decided they would make a great english pieced quilt. My hexagons are one inch along each side and I’m using commercial die-cut templates because I didn’t think of printing the hexagons and cutting them out of cereal boxes until just now, lol.

English paper piecing is very easy to do. I’ve never done it before and mine’s turning out great. You can find a tutorial by Sunshine’s Creations here.

Unlike Wendy, I have stitched through the paper when basting but that’s because this is the first time I’ve used the technique rather than disliking the technique she has used. I’m in no hurry to finish it so I don’t mind if I have to remove the basting before quilting.

English Pieced Hexagons

English pieced hexagons

English Pieced Hexagons 3

English pieced hexagons

English pieced hexagons 5

Then I got side tracked by a big back of leftover fleecy fabric. It kept taunting me because even though I had made 19 baby bibs, 4 pairs of size 0 baby pants, 6 pairs of size 1 baby pants, two easter rabbits, one cosmonaut, one baby blanket and used some as the batting in three baby quilts, there was still a load left. So I cut out a load of 21cm squares and overlocked them into a fleecy quilt, 160cm high x 180cm wide for Winter TV watching.

Fleecy Quilt

I still have to tie-quilt it. I’m going to use a lime green number 5 perle cotton and have the tied ends on the back (I think). The thread is a few shades darker than the fabric. I’ve never made a tied quilt before so there’s another technique for my repertoire ๐Ÿ˜›

The backing is a 1970’s vintage sheet that was almost on it’s last legs. It was too cute to send to the rag bin so I thought I’d extend it’s life a bit. If it gets holes in it I can always patch it.

My butterfly and shamrock quick yo-yo makers arrived the other day but I haven’t had time to play with them yet. Unfortunately Charlie thinks they’re baby toys because of the brightly coloured plastic and he’s stopped napping due to some new teeth. I’ll make some samples as soon as he starts napping again and write a review.

Well that’s about it! I’m off to open some doors and hopefully get a breeze through the house. It’s supposed to be in the mid 30’s Celsius tomorrow. Yuck.
* Really. He does that a lot. I’d put the chairs somewhere else only that’s where I sew ๐Ÿ˜‰

Still Breathing :)

I know it’s been several months since I last posted. It’s amazing just how much time running around after a baby can take! It’s also amazing how much mess a newly crawling baby can make whilst roll/crawling around the living room with a teething rusk

Baby Charlie

Charlie in his new pants

but I digress…

I have a new overlocker!

My New Overlocker!

Isn’t it beautiful? It’s a Pfaff Creative Coverlock 4874. It’s a 10 thread, 3 needle overlocker. I decided I wanted an overlocker 10 years ago and I finally got around to getting one when I realised that drafting your own sewing patterns isn’t brain surgery ๐Ÿ˜›

I learnt to sew when I was in highschool but always hated using commercial patterns because they never fit properly and it seemed so fussy to have to alter every pattern every single time you wanted to make something, even when you’ve spent $17 on the pattern itself.

Years later I started buying fabrics from the local op shops and decided to have a go at drafting patterns that are a bit more complicated than elastic waisted skirts (ahem), and it all fell into place. My daughter has 4 new skirts, the baby will soon have 21 new pairs of day/night Summer/Winter pants and I have projects lined up until the end of the universe ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s the next one’s before picture.

Plaid Jacket Before Refashioning

My daughter bought this jacket from the op shop. First I removed the sleeves and shoulder pads, and then pinned the sides in above the waist to make it a more fitted shape. I still have to sew the sides, after which I’ll refit the sleeves and add a gathered broderie anglaise style lace to the cuffs, replace the buttons and give it a good wash. Next time I’ll wash first, lol.

As for the overlocker, it’s incredibly easy to use. Easy to thread, easy to engage and disengage the upper looper and knife and super easy to understand. The only thing I would have liked to be different is to have better threading guides in the instruction book so I don’t have to go to the computer CD animation when I haven’t doe something right. It’s so easy to thread that I pull all the threads out when I want to change them instead of tying on the new thread and pulling it through ๐Ÿ™‚

Finally I had some exciting news in my mail yesterday. Clover have re-released the Hana Ami Loom! It’s the Rolls-Royce of flower looms and I suggest everyone should go and buy one right now before they go out of production again!

Hana Ami loom by CLover

A Very Basic Wizard’s Cloak

The topic of sewing a wizard’s cloak came up on Ravelry this morning and I thought it was worth posting my reply here as well, since there are stitchers who don’t knit or crochet and might want to know how to make a basic wizard cloak for their kids.

The question was how to sew a simple wizard cloak for a quick costume. Thanks to an old library book on Elizabethan costuming, I knew the answer ๐Ÿ™‚ This is a slightly expanded version of my reply to the original poster.

Wizard cloaks are made from a circle.

Big circle with the radius as long as you want the cloak to be. Fold it in half.
Cut a hole in the middle of the circle for the neck.

Cut down the front of the circle for the front opening.

Cut slits for the sleeves, making sure that the bodice is wide enough for the chest measurement with a bit of ease.

Sew sleeves and side seams and hem everything else. Stick a button and a buttonhole on the front. Or ties.
Basic Wizard Cloak Diagram

To make a better finished cloak you can add facings to the neck and front opening.

A fancier cloak might have pockets in the side seams for holding the wizarding essentials (wand, toad, vial of goo etc), or a hood.

A hood can be made of two pieces of fabric shaped like this

Wizard Cloak Hood Diagram

Sew them together along the top and back, hem the front and sew it to the neckline. Or sew it to the neckline and then hem the hood and the front at the same time (I think that might work).

Click Clack, Stitch Stitch, Sew Sew, Splat Crunch

Ok, technically there is neither a splat nor a crunch, bet hey! Artistic license and all that ๐Ÿ™‚
Three or so weeks ago I promised I would upload photos of other projects I had made the next day. Then there was Christmas and New Year’s and swimming and shopping and destashing and…

Let’s just face facts, shall we? This is as fast as I get ๐Ÿ™‚

I still don’t have a photo of one of them, but here are the rest.

I finished these wristicuffs for Miss Brittany last night.

Orange wristers

They’re made from some of my very, very early handspun. It’s lumpy and bumpy and dyed with Kool-Aid. It’s also incredibly soft and Brittany asked me to make her something out of it while we were sorting out the garage stash. I wanted to destash it but there you go…

Techy specs – Yarn: lumpy handspun 2 ply merino, approximately aran weight. Spun by me about 10 or 11 (maybe 12) years ago.

Pattern: K1, p1 rib on 4mm needles. 1 inch smaller than wrist circumference (unstretched).
3 inches long

The next projects are quite picture heavy so bear with me. Two Una-na dolls made from the Japanese book by Mimiwn. I love making these dolls. I can see myself becoming quite addicted to making them little clothes and accessories. I had to stop myself buying a little toy kitchen dresser at the op shop the other day because it was the right size for them. (If I had my own, much larger, house I would have bought it).

The black haired one is called Pansy Dollington (Brittany’s) and the brown haired one is mine. Her name is Florence Dollington. Unfortunately Florence has developed a tendency to swear like a sailor when least expected (but definitely *not* when my Dad is around, haha). I suspect she’s got a little bit of a dolly “drinky drinky” problem to tell the truth…

Una-na doll - Pansy Dollington

Una-na doll - Pansy Dollington

I still need to finish sewing Florence’s shirt and skirt. I had to take my sewing machine apart halfway through to clean it, and then everything got put away for Christmas and I haven’t been back to it yet.

This first picture shows her wearing the first unsuccessful wrist warmer as a shoulder warmer type thing. I’m going to put a little felt & button flower on it.

Una-na doll - Florence Dollington

Here she is wearing an early Spring… let’s call it a “ponchette”. (I love that word. It’s so pretentious).

Una-na Doll with Poncho

And finally here she is wearing a ponchette from the same pattern, but in thicker yarn.

Una-na doll with ponchette

Technical details:
The book is unfortunately out of print (Una-na dolls by mimiwn)

The red and beige yarns are discontinued dk weight commercial yarns, and the bright blue is some of my hand dyed handspun yarn with (I think) mohair, angelina fibre and possibly something else thrown in. The blue is 2 ply and a bit finer than fingering weight.
Next is a quickie that I knit at the doctor’s the other day.

Tiny knit Christmas stocking

The mysterious pattern was posted on Cosymakes a few days ago. Since I had just finished all my simple knitting and I had to leave quite soon, I scribbled out the pattern, grabbed needles and yarn and had a go. I just can’t resist small vintage patterns that don’t have pictures ๐Ÿ™‚

I love this little stocking boot so much that I’m thinking of making a bunch of them during the year in whatever scraps I still have lying around after my major destash (I’ll get to that BTW).

Techy details: I used thinner yarn and smaller needles than the pattern calls for, but only slightly. The pattern calls for 5mm needles and (I guess) a worsted weight yarn. I used 4mm needles and dk weight. The green is some of my handspun, the purpley red is Jo Sharp DK wool.

Well I think that’s enough for today! I have more projects to share with you but I think I’ll leave them and the story of the destash until tomorrow. I’ve already taken the photos, so you won’t have to wait another three weeks, I swear!

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