Handmaker's Factory


  • Teach at Handmaker's Factory in 2016

    Teach at Handmaker's Factory

    2015 is coming to a close and we have only 2 workshops left to teach before we take a well deserved break. We're already working on our workshop schedule for the new year and we're looking for new and interesting workshops to host in our studio.

    Here at Handmaker's Factory we are all about sharing skills, to do that we offer workshops taught by various talented crafters. We want to share this space with you, for it to be a place where you can teach and learn. We are looking for creative people to share their skills. If you are skilled in a particular craft and would like to teach others we would love to hear from you! Workshops can be in the form of lectures (talking about a particular subject), demonstrations (showing how to complete a project where participants can take notes) or hands-on workshops (guiding participants through a project). Workshops don't necessarily need to be textile based and we are open to subject suggestions but we are not set up for cooking or other food related classes.

    We are looking for creative people who are passionate about the craft they do. You must be confident enough to address and engage a group of students and guide them through the workshop. Previous teaching experience is not essential but helps a lot.

    You will need your own ABN and a regularly updated social media presence is highly recommended.

    We are looking for mini 90 minute, 3 hour, full day and ongoing workshops to be taught at the weekends and in the evenings.

    If you think you fit the bill we'd love to hear from you. Email us at contact@handmakersfactory.com.au to tell us a bit about yourself (include your social media info), a short description of what you would like to teach and your availability. We will get back to you with more details about working at Handmaker's Factory.

    Tags: TEach, Workshop

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  • Natural dyeing & eco printing

    We had some beautiful leucospermum flowers in the studio (also known as pincushions) leftover from an Ink & Spindle photoshoot. After we had enjoyed their beauty and they finally wilted I pulled the flower heads apart to see what results I would get eco printing onto silk.

    Natural dyeing & eco printing

    I sprinkled them onto the wet silk along with some rose petals my girls collected from the footpath on the walk to school. The silk was then tightly rolled, tied with string and steamed for a few hours.

    Natural dyeing & eco printing

    The results are very subtle and pretty. 

    Natural dyeing & eco printing

    I really love the results of eco printing. It's a great way to use up spent flowers and leaves and you can create intentional patterns or go for a more random print. 

    Natural dyeing & eco printing

    If you'd like to learn more you can book into our Eco Printing and Natural Dyeing workshop.

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  • We have an eco printing and natural dyeing workshop coming up in December with some dates in 2016 already organised too. So in preparation I've been experimenting lately with various local everyday plants and the bonus is we will have some wonderful yarn bundles for weaving available in our online shop soon.

    Natural dyeing & eco printing

    I ordered a large amount of undyed yarns from Yarnarama. Oh they're so squishy and beautiful!

    A few weeks back I dyed a selection of yarns using avocado skins and pits (collected from our morning tea snacks in the studio and home), turmeric and oxalis (collected from the side of the road on the way home from visiting friends on the country).

    Natural dyeing & eco printing

    Oxalis dye pot

    The avocado skins went into one pot, the pits into another. Both gave slightly different shades of very light pink. I added some iron to them both to deepen the colours, the yarn dyed with the skins stayed a light dusty pink, the yarn dyed with the pits turned a pink/grey (left in the image below). The yarns dyed in the oxalis pot came out yellow as expected. If I had more flowers to add to the pot I should have got a more acid yellow but the ratio of yarn to plant matter gave a lighter shade. I changed the ph of the dye pot which resulted in a beautiful golden colour. 

    Natural dyeing & eco printing

    Hanging to dry. Yarns dyed with avocado skins, avocado pits and oxalis

    Natural dyeing & eco printing

    Silk/wool dyed with oxalis

    Natural dyeing & eco printing

    Turmeric dyed yarn

    Natural dyeing & eco printing

    I've been experimenting more with other plants this past week some of which have given quite surprising and interesting results. I also did some eco printing which I love! I'll share the results once they've dried.


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  • It's been a while between blog posts but here we are again! Instagram is a great way to instantly share what we're doing but it often lacks in detail so we're going to be sharing more here on the blog. We want to have a more permanent record to look back on.  We'll share inspiration, information and recap on workshops we've had in the studio.

    Today we're sharing the workshops from the weekend.

    Weaving Workshop October

    On Saturday morning we taught nine lovely students to weave on our handcrafted looms. For all our weaving workshops I make each loom by hand. The looms are 40x50cm and can be dismantled for easy transportation and come with the tools required to get started. The best part is you get to take it home at the end of the workshop so you can continue weaving!

    (These looms can be purchased separately here.)


    First Ros show the students some examples of weaving and talk about the various kinds of looms that are used. Then we got started with warping the loom and learning the various techniques of weaving from plain weave, twills, soumak, tapestry, tassels and more. 


    Over the course of the 3 hour workshop students create a wall hanging using mostly yarn but other materials such as fabric and plant material can be added too creating interesting results.


    The yarns that we use in our workshops are mostly recycled or upcycled. We like to scour op shops and friends often offer balls of yarns left over from finished projects (feel free to offer yours!). Recycling sweaters and clothing are also great sources of yarn.


    These tapestry yarns were a great find at our local Savers.

    We often find people subconsciously weaving in the colours they are wearing without realising, obviously their favourites!


    Here are some of the wonderful finished wall hangings from the workshop on Saturday. We are always very impressed with the results and the variety of colours and textures.


    We have already listed a few workshops for the beginning of 2016. Book yourself in or buy a loved one a gift voucher for Christmas! 


    After lunch new students arrived to take part in the lampshade making workshop with Anna from 3Chooks. Anna travels all the way from Sydney to teach this workshop. Such dedication to her craft! Of course she was also on a girls weekend with some friends but we're glad she could come to the studio for a few hours and teach us her wonderful lampshade making skills.


    The students chose from a combination of their own fabrics and those of Ink & Spindle who we are lucky enough to share the studio with.


    Each student receives a kit that will make a 20cm diameter x 23cm height cylinder lampshade – perfect for a bedside table, phone table or desk lamp. This particular lampshade was destined to be one of a matching pair of bedside lamps.

    The finished lampshades all looked fantastic and so professionally made.


    New dates for 2016 are yet to be decided. We will let you know as soon as possible.

    We have some great workshops coming up to finish off a great year.

    We're also looking for new and interesting workshops for 2016. If you have any suggestions or would be interested in teaching a workshop at Handmaker's Factory yourself please do get in touch.

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  • This week I had a chat with Tara from Stitch & Yarn who will be teaching us how to make a traditional Mexican embroidered blouse in a four part course starting next week.

    The course will run from 6-9pm each Tuesday evening and can be booked here.

    Mexican blouse -®S&Y 2104

    Hi Tara! Tell us a little about yourself and your craft?

    I've been crafting for as long as I can remember, almost always textile related. My Mum and Nana were both huge influences on me. My Nana has passed away, but Mum and I still share a lot of tips and hints for projects we've got going on. In the last couple of years I've become more serious about my craft. I've thrown in my job and moved to Melbourne to see where this textile journey takes me.

    5 Oaxaca inspo_2 ©S&Y 2014

    You spent some time in Mexico. Tell us a little bit about your time there.

    Last year I spent a couple of months in Oaxaca, Mexico on a textile artist's residency. It was a wonderful experience to immerse yourself in a country that still has this vibrant, living textile tradition that has been around for centuries. I spent half my time there weaving and the other half embroidering. The work the people do there is breathtaking and it was a real honour to learn from such masters.

    3 Ocotlan ©S&Y 2014

    Give us a rundown of the work that goes into making a Mexican blouse.

    The Mexican blouse is really made up of four techniques. First is the sewing of the blouse, then there is the embroidery of the bodice, the smocking-type stitch at the bustline and the crochet to finish the edges. It can look complicated, but really it's made up of very standard stitches known the world over. I also found each maker has their own style – some were very relaxed with their stitching (which certainly makes it quicker to finish) and others were very precise – they all look amazing when they're finished though. 

    The traditional Mexican blouse can be a bit boxy and ill-fitting under the arms, but I've made some pattern adjustments, so those doing the class should be able to achieve a really nice fit.

    2 Oaxaca inspo ©S&Y 2014

    What kind of tools and materials are required for the job and do you have any favourites?

    Needles, embroidery floss, embroidery hoop, perle cotton, crochet hook, scissors, etc are all the bits and pieces needed. I think the thing I'm fussiest about is the embroidery hoop. It's just a cheap wooden one that I use, but it really holds the fabric taut, which is what you need.

    4 Motifs_threads ©S&Y 2014

    What memorable responses have you had to your work?

    I'm a big fan of Instagram and my feed is mostly about my work and my travels. I'm constantly overwhelmed by the positivity and support of people on there. You hear so often how things can go wrong on social media, but I've just found a very warm community on Instagram.

    What are you working on right now and what would be your dream project?

    I always seem to have a ton of projects on the go... If I look over at the WIP written up on my fridge it's got about a dozen projects on it, including two Mexican blouses – one with a looming deadline! I was so inspired by the patterns and colours of Mexico though, particularly the dye cochineal, which can create a third of the colour spectrum when mixed with different additives, so I have a number of projects based on that trip that will eventually turn into quilting and sewing patterns. At this point, my dream project is to create a few knitwear patterns, but they're still in rough sketch stage at this point!

    1 Weaving Oaxaca ©S&Y 2014

    What are your biggest inspirations?

    I have two major inspirations. The first is travel. I love going to places with rich textile traditions and getting to learn from those makers. I'm heading off to India later this year and can't wait to see what that inspires. The other is the web. Honestly, I've found so many amazingly talented people on there. It really connects you to other crafters who are going through the same struggles and issues as you.


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  • My failed 30 day outfit challenge

    Leisl started a 30 day challenge over on Instagram in which participants would post a photo of themselves each day in the outfit they are wearing to ride their bike. The idea is that you CAN ride in regular clothes and without an inch of lycra in sight. I joined in at the beginning but then soon realised that a) I don't ride my bike every single day and b) my wardrobe is seriously lacking  in outfits interesting enough to post each day on Instagram. I often wear the same outfits over and over again which would result in very boring Instagram posts!

    bike outfit

    I've spent the summer wearing a seriously limited wardrobe. I suppose I kind of inadvertently challenged myself to see what I wear regularly, find out what was missing and what could go from my already limited wardrobe. This has been partly by choice, I sold a lot of my handmade dresses because I no longer wore them and donated or chucked many garments that were not worn or no longer fit. It was also partly due to lack of time to sew more clothes for myself. As much as I want to and have plans galore to make new clothes running a small business leaves little time for selfish sewing unfortunately.

    I didn't want to jump into sewing all the awesome patterns I came across only to have a wardrobe filled with mismatched garments (again). Instead I decided to live with what I have and figure out what my essentials are. I've come to the conclusion that I need comfortably clothes that are practical for bike riding and working in the studio. So more t-shirts, tops, singlets, jeans, pants, leggings, garments made from stretch fabrics, a warm comfortable coat, cardigans and sweaters in fabrics, yarns and colours that work together.

    Lila progress

    So, I'm making a point of putting aside some time to do some mindful selfish making. Time. Time is the challenge! I've started re-knitting my Lila sweater that was mentioned in my last post. It's funny how making something over again means you can reassess the decisions you make. I've chosen to knit a size smaller this time and have also taught myself to knit continental which is much faster.

    Sewing Jeans

    I've also cut out a pair of jeans using a vintage Vogue Calvin Klein pattern. I'm using some denim from the stash as my muslin and have spent a fair amount of time researching tips and techniques. If I'm going to go to the effort of sewing jeans I want my muslin to me wearable if they work out as well as I hope. It's surprising how few good jeans patterns there are out there. My other choice would be the Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files but I'll see how these turn out first since I had the pattern in my stash already. More posts to come about this adventure!


    My major make this winter will be a coat/jacket. I need something suitable for bike riding that will keep me warm and comfortable while riding my bike. I'm considering the Albion jacket (above) or the Minoru jacket (below). On minute I'm leaning heavily towards the Minoru then the next minute I want to make the Albion. Have you sewn either of these patterns? What are your thoughts? 


    The one particular garment I always seem to never have enough of is tops. Just basic tops in neutral colours that can be mixed and matched with the rest of my wardrobe. So I'll be sewing up a bunch of tops with the Briar t-shirt pattern being top of my list.

    Briar tshirt workshop

    If you'd like to make your own Briar t-shirts you can join us in our workshop coming up in May. 


    Learn to Sew Stretch Fabrics - Briar T-shirt workshop

    May 26th and June 2nd 6:30-8:30pm

    $130 per person


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