Monday, January 31, 2011

Nothing says Happy Birthday like....

Inspired by Steph's hilarious posting of her unfinished cross-stitch, here's a pic of the gift I lovingly crafted for my husband's recent 39th birthday.

Design credit goes to Sublime Stitching, whose guts I also love. I love their daschunds, little houses, electric guitars and hundreds of other funky designs, too. This was actually a free pdf download for Valentine's day.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Poyo for Qld Flood Appeal Dolly Drive

Ooh, two posts in one day! It's just that I remembered I should post about this worthy cause I'll be creating for.

Monkeymoomoo is organising a Dolly Drive (hand made soft toy donation) for people in need after the Queensland floods. There's a really cute button I'm meant to add to my blog but once again I can't figure it out, oh dear! There's no code to copy, that I can find. So anyway this post will have to do for now.

I'll be making one of these. We call it a Poyo, which is how 3y.o. Clem used to say 'pillow'.

This one is Charlie's. He's 9 and made this almost entirely by himself. Then Clem loved it so much, he made one for him too. This Poyo looks rather flat now, since Charlie's head rests on it most nights, all night. I do wash it now and then!

We got the idea from a book called DIY Kids. These Poyos have been so beloved, and I hope one will be loved by a child who has been affected by the terrible floods. Thank you for organising, Monkeymoomoo!

Negroni sew-along plans + gratuitous kitty shot

For me, the scariest part of the Male Pattern Boldness shirt sew-along is "will he actually wear it"?

I'm talking about my husband who is quite excited about this project, but is notorious for picking one or two things in his wardrobe and wearing them to death, while everything else languishes unloved.

I bought this Liberty tana lawn (yeah, that again) on eBay without a specific project in mind. But it was beautiful, I think there's 3 metres of it, and it was going for a very reasonable price.

I was sort of thinking dress for me. I showed it to Andy as a potential candidate for the Negroni. "Yeah, I like it," he said. Oh. However, it does save a potentially long and frustrating search for just the right fabric. And he has mentioned quite a few times how much he is loving his tana lawn pyjama pants. Yes, love of my life, take this exquisite fabric, and keep up the encouraging comments.

He's opted for the long-sleeved version. Not sure whether we'll go with the two pockets and pocket flaps yet. Any thoughts? This fabric might be better unadorned, or, the pockets might give it a casual touch that relieves the formality of the print.

I'm also hoping to add a collar stand as per Peter's pending instructions. Andy finds the collar-with-stand a better look on him. He's also requested, and I think I can manage, tabs inside the sleeves that button up when you roll the sleeves up. Do you know what I mean? Do those things have names?

I'm very keen to get started. Oh and here's the gratuitous kitty shot. Don't cats just love walking all over fabric that you're trying to do something with? Not her best angle. (Devon Rex, in case you're wondering.)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Oliver + S patterns - joining the love-fest

I have noticed many bloggers professing their love for Oliver + S children's patterns. Of course, most of the really cute ones are for girls, boo. However, I found this pattern on sale at one of my fave Australian online sewing-goodness-places, Earthgirl Fabrics. I completely agree with other people who've said the patterns are so well-made, with such excellent instructions.

I made a pair in size 4 for my nephew Ori. He chose the fabric from my stash.

I'd been dying to make something with these adorable Heather Ross prints and they're the perfect weight for a sturdy pair of shorts. The moon in the front pocket and on the back is from the Owl and the Pussycat fabric in the same line.

As you can see I'm still struggling a bit with my photography, but these things take practice don't they. And , maybe, reading some instructions? Nah.

The pattern was available in size 0-4, or 5-12 and I got the smaller one, thinking of Clem. Then I realised Charlie (9) needed some new shorts. I did a highly un-technical grade-up of the pattern, made a muslin, tweaked, tweaked some more and then sliced into some lovely bamboo denim I've used a few times, ordered online here. A couple of Echino peacocks in the pockets of these, plus I added two back pockets this time (there are none in the pattern).

These shorts have a faux fly-front. Challenge for 2011: real fly-front pants.

Has anyone used another Oliver + S boys' pattern? Or any other boys' patterns to recommend?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Would you like to try some?

Tonight, our big boys are sleeping over at their grandparents' bush block cabin.

Tonight, Mama and Dada are having leftover minestrone with fresh pesto, using basil from our garden.

Tonight, the littlest boy learnt the mortar and pestle.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Japanese pattern + Japanese fabric = love

A friend and I have been swapping Japanese pattern books. I had this Nani Iro double gauze fabric I'd bought as a remnant. I just can't resist 'rescuing' those poor, unloved roll ends at bargain prices.

There was just enough to make up this shirt from Pochee Spring 2010, and I think the texture of the double gauze works beautifully. Plus, the floral helps stop it from looking too clown-like. I hope.

I suppose I should have ironed it.

The sleeves were meant to be longer and gathered into a bias strip finish, but I ran out of fabric and liked the open ends. Ooh look, here it is actually on my body. Not game enough to show face yet ;)

The Nani Iro double gauze prints go right up to the edge. This is great in that you can use the selvedge on sleeve ends etc. However, you can end up with a bit of unintentional branding.

It's kind of loose and vaguely maternity-like, so I'll be recommending the pattern to my friend whose book this comes from, since she actually is currently gestating.

If I made it again I'd definitely shorten the front (what do you call it?) slit part. I did shorten it a bit but it's still too peek-a-boobie to wear without a singlet underneath. Those waif-like Japanese models in the books make layering look so chic but I could do without the extra pouff-factor.

Sorry the photos are still so dark. Will work on that.

Monday, January 10, 2011

What a difference a camera makes

Yes, the images could all be a lot brighter and probably improved in several other ways too, but oh, what a difference a good camera makes. As opposed to my mobile phone 'camera'.

We made a chocolate cake, from the recipe in the back of the completely charming book in the last picture. I highly recommend it for anyone who has ever baked a cake with small children.

Actually, I made this mess, not the kids. Mixer turned on a bit fast at the 'add the milk' stage.

The cake is delicious. No photos of that, I'm just learning this camera and blogging thing, it all takes time!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

MPB Negroni sew-along - I'm in!

Peter at Male Pattern Boldness is hosting a sew-along for the men's shirt pattern I wanted to try anyway, the Colette Negroni.

Yay! I've just ordered the pattern. The sew-along doesn't start for a few weeks so there's plenty of time to think about fabrics (that I'm excited to sew with and Andy might actually wear... a tricky combination).

I have made one men's shirt before and it turned out okay. Andy has even worn it a few times.... Trouble is, it was before I learnt to trace patterns off, and I cut out size L, which matched A's measurements. However, a quick pin-together showed it was enormous, so I had to try to cut the pattern pieces down to size M. But then I'd lost the little overlapping parts of the pattern, where the M pieces went outside the L ones. So, the shoulders and yoke didn't go together quite as neatly as they should have, and I've really ruined that pattern for future use. Oh well, lesson learnt!

Peter has created a cute button thingo for participants to put on their blogs, but as a total novice blogger I can't work out how to use it. Anyone reading, and able to help this techno-phobe?

In other sewing news, I have two (successful!) finished garments I need to photograph and write about. Back soon!

Monday, January 3, 2011

It's the end of that Christmas - New Year week. 2am and I can't sleep. Either that last cup of tea was a bad idea or I have spent most of the past week in such a state of extreme relaxation that I have actually - gasp - caught up on all the sleep I need.

Let's talk sewing then, shall we?

After the rush to sew Christmas presents for all and sundry, I had a strong need to sew something selfish. (Oh Elaine, where have you gone?) Actually I chose selfish and practical. Presenting my pincushion caddy, from Anna Maria Horner's lovely book Seams to Me.

I actually take pins out of my fabric as I'm sewing now and put them directly in here, rather than in a precarious scattery pile on the table next to me. Yay.

I did have a couple of construction issues and at one point pulled it almost completely apart again to add more interfacing and sort out some wonky seams. "Only a pincushion" went through my mind a bit but so did "staring at this lump every time I sew for the next umpteen years". I could have used some rather more seriously sturdy interfacing for that inner tube. I got the strongest available at my fabric shop and in the end used two layers. However, they'd said a lot of their stock had been ruined by a roof leak in recent rains, so I am supposing now that stronger, non-leaked-on stuff exists.

Post-Christmas I was hit by a strange virus that had me nauseous and mostly sleeping for two days. Thank heavens for a husband on holidays so this was actually possible. I mention it only because bizarrely, I felt nauseated by looking at sewing patterns, blogs etc... like it was some rich indulgence that my body was unable to handle. Especially bright colours! Has anyone else ever experienced that?

I was snapped out of sewing aversion by the need to make a new nightie. My present one ripped at the back of the arm due to old age. (The nightie, not my arms, although....)

I had a length of Anna Maria Horner voile (yeah, I'm a big A.M.H. fan) that I bought as a remnant (such a great excuse for buying fabric), that fit the bill. I used her popular and beautifully simple 'museum tunic' pattern/instructions.

I was a trifle worried during construction that I was making, as my husband commented, a muu-muu. However, committed, I ploughed ahead. A few extra rows of shirring and making the armholes a little smaller and the vision all came together.

Experimenting with photo locations, although still only on my unimpressive phone camera.

Detail showing shirring and front V-bit reinforcement.

I was a bit worried about the resilience of the front and back v-neck joins, since they're just a seam that separates for a bit to make a neckhole. I played around with various scraps of lace as reinforcements and settled on a couple of tiny pieces of - oh what's it called? the cottony stuff with embroidered holes? - sewn in on the inside, peeking out just a little and making that v-part much stronger. Well, it's survived a couple of nights of wear so far, anyway.

Trouble is now, with myself and Andy in our nice new handmade sleepwear, our bed linen seems a bit sad and manky. Okay maybe not manky (I do wash) but the fanciest we have came from Ikea probably two years ago.

So, am I now about to look into making my own bed linen? Or will that be a depressing exercise in realising how much fabric it will really require and the limited options out there for sheeting widths? Hmm... to be continued, I think.

The other constructive thing I've done in the past few days is sanding and re-oiling of most of our outdoor timber. It's quite a pleasant job actually because the oil smells lovely and the timber really 'appreciates' the love, if you know what I mean.

This is one of a set of doors that came from an old newspaper office. I think they're oak, and now the old lacquer has all peeled off, with a sand and some oil they're coming up beautifully.

And this is some of the western red cedar of our window and door frames. I love how the grain comes out.

Well, that ended up a long post. I really need to dig out our good camera and work on my photos if I'm going to make this much worth looking at. Anyhow, thanks for reading if you've come this far! Bye for now.
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