Sunday, 31 January 2010

A skirt for work

2010 finds me placed in another "house" at school. I have previously been in red/burgundy house, blue/silver house and now I am in green/navy house (*obviously not their real names ... but you get the idea). Yesterday was the Year 7 Orientation day and it was suggested that Green should be the base colour for attire for the day.

Given that I do not have a lot of green in my wardrobe the challenge was to make something to wear from my stash. I also have a roll of cotton drill from making my bags ... so I used that.

I had a length of "computer styled" fabric and given that I teach IT, it seemed only logical that a skirt needed to accented from this ...

I used an A-line skirt pattern as my basis. Cut 15 cm from the top to make the yoke and then created an overlapping panel for the front. The green computer fabric was a strip of fabric 20cm at the bottom and 10cm at the top and then tucked into the seam. I didn't bother with lining the skirt, I wore a slip instead. The only alterations I need to do is to take in the waist which is a little big, which is easy due to the construction of it.

I decided to put my label on the front to give it more of a casual feel. This skirt passed the road test on a hot day, now for a cold winters day with boots on.

I tend to suit A-line skirts, hides all the bumps and lumps and a wrap skirt gives me the maneuverability that I need in the classroom.

(PS, if you are using Zemanta ... it was interesting to see the suggested links and references this plug-in threw back)

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Tori's Quilt Block Pairs 6 - 9

I stole some time away the other night to do some more blocks for Tori's Quilt. Even though I am swamped with everything, I stole 2 hours to do 8 blocks.

Out of all of them the orange one was my favourite.

Tempted to get more of the orange fabric as I think that it looks quite lovely with all the swirls.

Edit: Oh Fransson has some quilting bundle packs to give away, head on over to her blog and post a comment!

Friday, 29 January 2010


Tori and I stole a moment on Sunday night to have dinner at Tiamo's. Just us girls ... the last time we were there, she was a lot smaller and more of a handful. This time I didn't have to take the pusher, she just walked beside me ... enjoying the hustle and bustle of a busy street.

Tori is getting quite good now at occupying herself, drawing on a business card an ideal activity.

If you know Lygon Street in Melbourne, you should know Tiamo's. Quick, yummy pasta, excellent coffee and quick turn around.

So we shared some pasta ...

And then Tori wanted to finish off mine ...

We are still learning how to smile on demand!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Crime Scene

Things are a bit slow on the sewing and craft front this week, as I have started back at school and there is a lot of preparation and organization to do for the coming term. So only essential sewing is getting done this week, orders and market stock. Tori's Quilt has indeed been put on temporary hold.

But this afternoon, I stole a few moments while watching Project Runway, to knock over some more crime scene outlines on some Market bag fronts ...

The challenge is in finding the balance between my artistic vision for this range and using technology to get there results I need. Customers do not necessarily want to pay for hours of hand embroidery, even though they will say it is gorgeous!  So I am putting a lot of thought into deciding how to represent the crime itself and I am thinking that some clever applique work might be the trick.

I also have some new pillow designs in the works! Just to put things into perspective, the blood embroidery on the "axe" crime scene took 1.5 hours ...So what crime scene do you want to see?

Monday, 25 January 2010

Lazy Days

Today is my first day back "at school" and I would much rather be doing this ...

... meeting friends at a cafe and being served "too strong" coffee ...

... going back to their place reading some interesting books

Friday, 22 January 2010

Where did my baby go?

Sitting making a batch of baby shoes for an exciting new store last night and I found myself wondering where my baby had gone ... remembering the first pair of shoes I made for her in August 2008.

She is no longer a toddler she is a little girl with opinions and lots of attitude. At the moment her language is developing fine and every once in a while she will have a full conversation with you, but it still sounds like jibberish. At the end she will say "ok"?

Anyway, back to the shoes ... I try and do things in batches, so I was busy making baby shoe "tops" from all the material I had cut out previously. I line them with wool batting for extra warmth and breathability. I found that lined with polyester batting and they tended to get a bit stinky a bit too fast.

I love the Kokka bat fabic, the durability is excellent as it is a medium weight fabric and it looks so cute!

I still have some prototype shoes made in this fabric kicking around and except for the time when she got out onto concrete, they have survived Tori and the washing machine quite well.

I might have to make her a pair of shoes for winter, at the moment her feet are enjoying not having much on them when she is inside.
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Thursday, 21 January 2010

Developing direction

It is funny when I find a blog that I like, I tend to do random clicks through the archive just to get a feel for the type of person who writes the blog and whether I want to subscribe to it. I did this with the Anna Laura blog a while back and was surprised to read that she hasn't always done brooches, in fact she had done bags, hair accessories and all sorts of things.

It was fascinating to read how an artist has developed her vision for her business. Taken one idea and developed it, shelved another for a rainy day and moved on to develop another skill set. I love her screen printed bags and pouches, in amongst the pile of retro pastiche brooches!

Registered in July 2008, I originally started Konstant Kaos sewing baby shoes and baby items. I then branched out into all sorts of things within a common asthetic and feel and now I am spending lots of time making bags!

I've been doing lots of reflecting since my Happy New Year post, and I'd like to work further on my 2010 Crime Scene range and potentially 'go wholesale' on a selection of my products. Going wholesale scares me a little, but in order to build my business, I need to get sewing and get out there.

I like the idea that Jennie has of finding a theme that you can work with for the season rather than random sewing projects clumped together under business banner. I've been sketching ideas out and running a costing sheet on products t see if it is viable ... but then Jay comes along with her monthy design challenge to tempt me away from focusing on my business!

If you have gone through this hobby to business transition, how did you do it? Did you develop a story or a theme, or did you do something else? Share!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Paintbox Quilt Update

I decided to go with the current block design for the Paintbox Quilt. I spent far too long fiddling with colours from my Kona roll and the fabric I had, and then decided to take the advice of Elizabeth and go for monochrome prints. I think that they look better than what I started with, vibrant. I might not be able to use all the quilt fabric for Tori's birthday in this one, but it will look good and I have other ideas for a picnic blanket for her with the rest of the fabric.

The bat fabric is a Kokka Echino print from a few years back, I generally use this print to do baby shoes.

So I have done 5 sets or 10 blocks so far. The first one took me ages, until I found my rhythm. Now it takes me about 20 minutes to do 2 blocks, providing I don't get distracted! I am going to do the 32 colour Paintbox Quilt, with the new design ... so 5 colours down!

I do two blocks at the same time. Using two 2 1/2 inch strips I cut out 3 pattern and 2 block colour squares and then I sew them in tandem. Measure, Cut, Pin, Sew, Press, Trim if needed.

I work from the inside out and then with the left over pieces of fabric I quickly stitched them together and pressed them out so that perhaps I can make a mini-quilt from them one day.

I took the blocks along to my inlaws on Tuesday night and my daughter took a liking to the mini-blocks that I had done and spent ages sorting through them on the table and playing with them. I figure by the time the Single Bed Quilt is finished, I will have enough mini-blocks for either some matching cushions or perhaps a cot quilt for my shop.
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Custom Bag order

When I made myself a Tote bag for the first time I used this fabric.

You might recognise it as coming from Ikea, they have a great range of Fabrics for bags and book coverings. Used sparingly, I think that it looks lovely and it is so hard wearing as well!

I paired it up with some dotty lining with two pockets and a clip for the keys.

It is off to England, so I hope that the new owner loves it!
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Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Blood Spatter Cushions

While researching some ideas for my crime scene theme, I stumbled across these cool Blood Splatter Cushions. I love the fact that they are in velvet, but I was a bit shocked by the picture of the dog on one!

I generally sketch out an idea or two and the next time I am on the computer, I do a quick search to see if anyone else has "made it" before.

The artists name is From Keetra and she has some interesting things on her web site as well including the anonymous hugging wall.

Monday, 18 January 2010


I love my Express Post guy, he knows that if I am not home then I am not far. Andreas and I zipped out for a yummy dinner at Denn in Westgarth and when I came home two packages were sitting there at the door.

The first one, my indulgent Kona Rolls. Prompt delivery and beautifully packaged by the Fat Quarter Shop. These will be used for my daughters quilt .. makes it easier to match up printed fabrics that I have rather than doing multiple runs to the fabric shop.

The second, an Amazon purchase of I love Patchwork and My Neighbor Totoro picturebook or my daughter as a present when she gets her "big girl bed" in a few weeks.

I have decided that the first project from the the I love patchwork book will be the sewing machine cover, except it will be for my mixer in the kitchen (same idea, different application).

There are lots of lovely "clean" looking japanese inspired designs in the book and I will probably eventually make my way through all of them! If you love things like this, check out Rashida's blog where all the magic happens!
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Presents for babies

I love doing applique ... so I knocked this up as a present for friends who have an 8 week old. They had a little girl, but are not pink people and since I have a love of teal, I thought I would use it as inspiration ...

Using some Japanese Matryoshka doll print fabric, I cut out and appliquéd the doll onto a white bib and some flowers onto some face washers. Check out etsy for Matryoshka or Babushka Doll fabric, it is everywhere ...

Paired up with a toysaver, it made a nice neat little package. Material was backed with interfacing, then some double sided interfacing to stabilise the shape before sewing it around with zig zag.

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Sunday, 17 January 2010


I love to capture moments like this with Tori and her grandparents ...

She has just learnt how to sing the nursery rhyme "ring a ring a rosie". So she comes up to you, does it around the palm of your hand and then gets excited, impatient and then tickles your elbow ...

Fortunately her Grandparents are indulgent with their giggles and laughs ...

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Buy Australian Made ...

Celebrate Australia Day on the 26th January by supporting one of our local textile designers.

Here is a list I have been compiling for a while now, if I have forgotten anyone, let me know!!Flipping through their web sites and shops there are some lovely fresh designs in there. I tried to search for some indigenous designers, but did not have any luck :(

I often have difficulty buying these fabrics from my local stores so I often resort to just buying online. But keep an eye out at the various stitches/craft/quilt fairs that occur in Melbourne, as they are often sold there.
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Thursday, 14 January 2010

Creating a digital footprint

One of the "other" hats that I wear is that I am an Information Technology teacher at an independent school in Melbourne. I work there part time and I have taught IT at Year 12 for eons!
Memories of a favourite hat via Craft Elf

While preparing for my Year 12 class, I was lamenting over whether I would utilise Moodle again as a content management system for my class in addition to the regular paper based materials. I know that there are other similar programs out there, probably better ... but I am familiar with Moodle, and time is of the essence. A content management system allows me to manage the distribution and collection of work from students and more importantly it gives me diagnostic information on whether they are looking at the work, discussions and handouts I am providing them. An extra level of accountability. With Moodle uploaded to an independent web site, I can have full control over my classroom environment, for teachers this is an important aspect of teaching. You don't want an IT department closing down your web site half way through a course, especially if it is a Year 12 subject!

So I thought I would document the process I took to create a digital footprint for my Year 12 class. I know that there are others out there in the crafty world are in the process of setting this up for your businesses, hopefully you will find some use from it.

I had previously done searches for names and had decided on as web site name for my Year 12 class, but by the time I got around to registering it, it was gone! So after a bit of brainstorming with a friend, we ended up with (If you are in IT, you probably know what a zinc whisker is ...).

Names are important when creating a business. The process of coming up with a name is quite complex, it isn't just about making sure the domain name is available. I also checked gmail, twitter, blogger and other social networking tools to see if 'virtualwhiskers' was taken. Once I started to use this identity, it is good if every social networking tool had the same name, easier to track and use.

There are lots of articles about how to choose a domain name. I have a few tips that I use:
  • The shorter the better
  • Two parts to a name easier to remember. eg. Konstant Kaos
  • Try not to choose a word that will be mis-spelt. It might have looked cute on the business logo ... but people will mistype it.
  • Consider similar domain names, will one spelling mistake send customers off to an undesirable web site?
  • If you are branding your business, you need to have a clear idea of colours and logo's before you register. Once you start stepping all over the internet is is harder to change later on.
So, you have chosen your name. Check availability using tools such as Ajax Whois to see if it is available. It is also important to do a few searches on Google. When your customers or students search for your name, what will they find? So long as the answer to the search isn't something offensive, you should be right. Once you start blogging and twittering, your digital footprint should start to appear in the search engines.

There are lots of theories on what type of name you should choose for your web site. Of course it would be good if you could register a name that was exactly your business name. But if you take the case of my blog name, Konstant Kaos was already taken in blogland, so I had to come up with something a bit different. Thus, alittlebitofkaos was born ...

So once you have a digital footprint name all sussed out, what do you do?
  1. You can register your domain name with companies such as Go Daddy, Then you can bring your name across to a web site hosting service such as dreamhost ($10 USD a month), Weebly (mostly free) or Hostgator ($4.95 USD a month). Depending on your needs. For virtual whiskers, I wanted a one touch Moodle install with online help, so we went with dreamhost and signed up for a year. Most of these guys have a help service you can use if you get stuck. But basically they will give you at least two names of servers that you can "point" your registered domain name to. Once that is done, you can upload your web site to your hosting site.

  2. If all you want to do is use blogger as your web site, you can register your blog with blogger, and then buy the domain name through them. For example, this is what we did with Northside Makers. Made sure that was available and that was available and then used bloggers interface to buy and set up the web site. Then we used a blogger template to set up the site.
Once you have your domain, register your other social networking tools. Even if you don't think you will use them right away, register them that way you know they are locked in. A few of the main ones might be ...

There are so many social networking tools out there, you could go mad registering all of them ... the idea is to be strategic and see how others are using them, and choose wisely.
For my purposes, I am going to use twitter for quick article or "check out this web site" updates. Flickr for pictures of classroom diagrams on the board, gmail to handle any site traffic. And I will probably look at a social bookmarking site that the kids can contribute to if they find something online. What is important is that I can use my web site to suck all this information in using Web 2.0 and RSS feeds and I can use it as a hub for what I am doing. Hopefully the kids will learn something along the way and so will I.

So I have registered all the things for virtual whiskers, now I need to set up the web site and the Moodle courses for my kids ... T - 2 weeks for the first day of school!
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