Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The adventures of three Witchards

I mentioned that after making Clem's Witchard cape, my other boys wanted them too.
Jasper got a size Large in purple and black.
Charlie requested red and black (for Gryffindor, Harry Potter's school house). I made his a bit longer at the back but otherwise followed the pattern just the same.
We went walking up at my parents' bush block on the weekend, which seemed the ideal location to bust out the Witchard capes. There were wands everywhere.


Expecto Patronum!

Wingardium Leviosa!

not Witchards, but I love these tiny sundews - carnivorous plants - that come up every winter

These Witchards had a magical time.
Oh, and then Clem got tired, and cold and whingy, and I had tried to pack him warmer clothes but forgotten the bag, and we went home and he whinged all the way.
Being a Witchard isn't all good, you know.

- Jane x

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Clem and I spend the day together on Fridays, and he's had a cough so we weren't being sociable this week.
He saw me sewing and said 'I want to make something with you'. He really wanted to sew.
I racked my brains... machine sewing with a three-and-a-half year old?
Shall we make a bag? (Thinking drawstring rectangle.)
'I want to make a toy.'
What sort?
'A monkey... no, a hippo.'
I was in a can-do sort of mood (which, I can assure you, is not all the time), so a hippo we made.
I drew a shape which he approved. I cut it out in two different linen scraps.
I guided the machine and said 'go.... stop!' while he crouched under the table and pressed the pedal.
Before stuffing, I had Clem draw on the white side with a fabric texta, and I iron-set it.
We stuffed it together. I sewed it closed.
Done! A Mama-Clem-made hippo.
Two eyes, a mouth 'with food in it', some random squiggles, a tail and 'his willy'.
I am rather pleased with this because while Clem's all for abstract sloshing-paint-making-dirty-water-with-the-brushes or mushing-chalk-in-water kind of, erm, art, he has not yet shown a lot of interest in drawing actual pictures.
back of hippo - don't you love using up scraps?
These photos were taken when Clem was engaged in this:
making foccacia dough with Charlie and Dadda
because previously when I had asked him to participate in a hippo photo shoot, I got this:
the hippo toss
and managed, at best, this:
the 'I don't want photos' hippo shot
Hippo has been proudly shown off to family, and accompanied Clem to bed. Little things like this make me so glad I can bring a few sewing/crafting skills to our home.

- Jane x

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Are you a wizard? Are you a magician?
My friendly Australia Post delivery man, Bob, brought my copy of 'Growing Up Sew Liberated' by Meg McElwee during the week. What a lovely book. Makes me (almost) wish my big boys weren't ten and very-nearly-nine, although that hasn't stopped them both immediately requesting their own versions of this 'Play Cape'.
(I finally had to ask Mr Australia Post Delivery his name, since he knows mine and uses it... often... when delivering my parcels. Bob's lovely, and he never questions the amount of stuff I obviously order online. Thanks, Bob.)
I made Clem the very very cute Reversible Hooded Play Cape from the book. It whips up in practically no time, so I'm thinking it might be a very good birthday present for little people.
It comes in two sizes, and this is the small.
The book calls for woven fabrics, but I had a bunch of this crushed velveteen (I think that's what you'd call it... you know... Goth fabric?) that a girl from work had given me. And it was just screaming 'magic cape' at me. So I'm here to tell you that stretchy crushed velveteen works very well for this pattern.

sure does!
The only adjustment I made, apart from sewing all seams with zigzag stitch (I didn't even have a ballpoint needle, since I used my Singer 319K which has a limited range of needles available), was to topstitch through the seam joining hood to cape body, from the outside, through all layers. Given the slightly slippery, heavy nature of the fabric, I thought this would help it all sit properly.
vampire? the possibilities are endless

Okay. Off to do cool witchard shit now, Mama.

- Jane x

Friday, June 17, 2011

Uh oh, it really is good

Have you ever tried one of those microwave 'cake in a mug' recipes? I'd seen them doing the rounds but never felt that desperately in need of a single-serve fix. (In my family of five, cakes want to be fairly big.)
Until tonight.
Really cold outside. Fire going. Friday night. Bottle of sparkling red consumed. Andy threw together spectacular bacon-pumpkin-spinach sandwiches. Hmm. Dessert...?
Googled 'microwave pudding in a cup'.
The intro to this recipe got me. Not promising miracles but a satisfying 'fix' when the situation demands it.

It's really good. And frighteningly fast and easy. Lucky I'm wearing that elastic-waisted skirt.
Seriously. I would serve this at a dinner party.
Our microwave no longer does anything less than full-blast and I zapped these for one minute each. I'd recommend staying on the underdone-side. Gooey at the bottom is good.
I mixed it up in a mixing bowl then divided between two mugs.
Andy wondered if we could have a themed dinner party with other courses of microwaved or similar 'novelty cooking' foods. Any suggestions?
- Jane x

Sunday, June 12, 2011

snake in a box (does that sound rude? it's not)

Have you seen one of these? 

 Slide open the lid.
Out pops a snake!
Slide it closed again.
Back in your box.

Sorry, is that three posts in two days? I hope I'm not boring anyone. I'm enjoying a long weekend at home with family. Craziest of all our public holidays but happy birthday, Queen!

- Jane x

Folklore-Rock? Those crazy Danish.

This Farbenmix Valeska 'Folklore-Rock' pattern came from a favourite online store (Australian store, I must add!). I love their selection of fabrics and patterns, and they ship lightning-fast. I'd been tempted by this skirt pattern for a while, despite its wacky name.

I'd had this gorgeous Anna Maria Horner velveteen for some months.  (Not purchased from Australia, ahem.)

I was intending on making a second 'Proper Attire Skirt" (AMH pattern) with it. I made a denim one (pre-blog), which I love, but it's a bit big and the idea of tracing off another size was uninspiring. You'd think I'd have learnt then, from that experience, that I'm really a size M, not an L. But I don't know, maybe I measure too loose or err on the side of 'I can always make it smaller but not bigger'... I cut a size L in this new pattern. And had to take in in considerably. I guess that's good news really.
feeling silly posing while Charlie takes photos
just act natural
 I made the top, too. I tried tracing an existing top that I love. Word of warning: raglan sleeves are really hard to trace. The neckline ended up far too wide and a bit low, so I added the neck band and fiddled with shoulder seams... it's fine for around the house but you know, I should probably just go buy a pattern.
 I shirred the sleeves because I was liking them over-long but couldn't think how else to finish them. The fabric is some lovely soft organic cotton jersey from another drool-worthy Aussie online store, and was surprisingly inexpensive. I bought a metre to try it out and will definitely be back for more - it comes in loads of lovely colours.
Here are some more details on the skirt.
Cute little gathers, which would come across better in a plain fabric. Also, some got sliced off when I reduced the size. Oh and pockets, an essential. Also reduced by downsizing.
I lined the waistband in a fine cotton (lawn?) rather than the velveteen to reduce bulk.
The pattern calls for elastic through the whole waistband, which is a relic I think of its origin as a kid's skirt pattern that was upsized. Elastic waists are sure comfy but not the most flattering. I only did the back as elastic, and if I made this again, I'd narrow the waist down more, lose the elastic and put in a zip. Having no waist to speak of, I can do without extra pouffiness in that area.
It feels good to have a couple of new things in my wardrobe, and to have ticked two items off my 'to sew' list. I can feel more organic jersey tops coming on.

- Jane x

Saturday, June 11, 2011

quilt, guilt and sturdily built

Yep, I worked a bit hard on that title and it's all the worse for it.
I have been sewing a couple of things for myself, but I need to rope someone else in as photographer so no posts on those yet.

So, awkward rhyme number one. Quilt.
How gorgeous are those raindrops?
Progress on quilt-for-Charlie. I bought three prints from the Tula Pink 'Prince Charming' line, because Charlie is a big fan of frogs. And the colour green. I had this beige-ish linen, with small side stripes, in my stash. I thought it worked well for a 'solid' component, but it was all looking a bit pallid.
I was also feeling some guilt (ooh yeah, rhyme #2) because I had bought all these fabrics online from non-Australian sources. I am terribly lucky to have a fabric shop just around the corner from my house. It doesn't stock everything I want; in fact nothing I salivate over such as Anna Maria Horner, Heather Ross, Nani Iro, or eco-friendly stuff I'd love like organic cottons or bamboo. However, it does have plenty of great stuff. If I want it to still be there in one year, five years, ten years... I really should buy more of my fabric there.
Case in point: my regular dealer for hits of quality chenille? Closing down! Apparently the owner has been trying to sell the business for some time without success. Yikes! Anyone know of another Australian source of good chenille?
So anyway. Off I trotted around the corner today and bought two metres of lovely chocolate brown linen to throw into this quilting mix.
The plan is, as you kind of see here, strips of random slices of the three prints, interspersed with strips of the plain colours. Nothing too ordered, even or pattern-like, however a lot simpler than my first quilt.

Third rhyme. This is the sturdily built Singer 201K.
crappish pic, but if I'm ever to post this, it will have to do for now!
It was my Mum's first sewing machine.
A straight-stitcher, built in 1952. My Mum's parents purchased it for her second-hand, since these things apparently cost a bomb when new - something like half a year's average salary. They had it converted for her from knee-lever to foot-pedal operation.
It has sat unused for probably 45 years. I dusted it down, and oiled it up. After I realised the needle goes in sideways (so you thread it left-to-right not back-to-front), it was off and running; purring, in fact. The quietest machine I've ever used.
Here's a closer look at another sewing hand-me-down. This fabulous fake woodgrain sewing box was my Grandma's. It holds heaps but is always a mess and overflowing. Just a little insight here into my sewing space... which is our, ahem, dining table. I could probably count the number of times it has been used for 'dining' on one hand. Jigsaw in background has been there for weeks and is at the difficult-blocks-of-sky stage so the boys have lost interest. It's taking up good sewing space there.

Part of me would love to have a dedicated sewing room. Everything ordered, stored, pretty. But a lot of me likes it just like this: my sewing chaos, in the midst of all the regular family chaos.

- Jane x

Monday, June 6, 2011

Most overdue post ever

Several thousand years ago, I participated in the Men's Shirt Sewalong at Male Pattern Boldness. I made all sorts of rash promises, like making a final shirt in Liberty Tana Lawn.
I made a muslin.
I made a test garment, which has been worn a couple of times.
Then I made the (final shirt? second test?), but not in the Liberty. I finished this three months ago.
At last I have persuaded Andy into the shirt in photo-worthy light.
check that pattern matching! there is even a pocket on there... can you spot it?
I'm pleased with it. After the photos, he took it off and changed into something else.
Folks, unless this one sees some significant airplay, the Liberty will not become an Andy shirt.
To be fair, the Colette Negroni pattern I used is seems best on tall, lanky body types. I made significant fit adjustments but I think a different pattern altogether would be a better solution. Eh, but to be honest, I should stick to sewing him things he actually asks for.
Now, back to sewing clothes for people too young to make their own decisions....
I did make another top after the neck band debacle, and I will send both for my friend's baby boy's future wardrobe.
Thanks to my cooperative plant-model.

- Jane x

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mid-level fails. What do you do?

When do you tend to make sewing stuff-ups?
When sewing from a brand new pattern?
Or when repeating something you've made before?
Here I present fine examples of both.

First up, we have over-confidence with a tried'n'true pattern and fabric.
Making the smallest size of this Ottobre pattern as a gift for a friend with a new baby boy. The top is probably around 18 months - 2 years size... I figure you get so much newborn stuff, this might be more useful. Besides, by the time I am happy with it, the wee one might be leaving home.
This is the neck band. Quite apart from the fact that I accidentally began sewing it to the armhole, I did a less than perfect job of lining up the join at the shoulder seam. Then mangled it further when sewing down the seam for a clean finish. Missed the seam, unpicked, damaged the fabric. Tried to hand-sew it into shape. Blah.
If it was for my kid I'd shrug and be happy enough.
But this is a gift, and it's not good enough.
I tried to figure out some small embellishment that might cover it, but I might just make it worse.
I'm thinking of perhaps making another entire one and sending both - the imperfect and (I hope) perfect.

What would you do? Do you have different standards for yourself and things you give?

Speaking of standards for self... here's a sow's-ear-from-silk-purse that I will nevertheless probably use to death.
Recipe: take some delightful fabric scraps from other projects, a lovely piece of wool, a fabulous vintage glass button and a great pattern.
Mix haphazardly. Turn gorgeous ingredients into something pretty much ugly.

Pattern is Makeup Roll from Stitched in Colour (pdf download). It's a great pattern, really well put together. There are a number of pocket options for your own various bits & pieces. It came together smoothly. The result is very useful.
Nice, if I'd put any thought whatsoever into fabric coordination.
What sort of face do you think I'm going to put on after looking at that mash-up?

Onwards and upwards.

- Jane x

Good for the soul

Kicking autumn leaves together.
A husband fresh back from Denmark and Sweden, with (among other gifties for the family) Marimekko fabric! I'm not sure he even realises how awesome I think this is. I'm wondering about a wrap skirt, and maybe even stretching some over a canvas to hang on the wall.
And these lovely teatowels (teatowls, ha), which he was sure I 'could do something with'. I suffer from finding things like this too precious to use so I probably should go right ahead and sew up a nice big tote bag or something.

Laying our heads on these beautiful pillowcases at night. Look at the magical detail in those pictures! Sorry kids but Mama and Dada are keeping these. On lovely soft jersey fabric, from Sunday Morning, found at Bowerbird Bazaar a few weeks ago. Our bedroom continues to be utterly uncoordinated in colour/design (not to mention a fair old mess) but cosy and friendly will do for me.
I hope your week has had 'good for the soul' moments too.

- Jane x
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