Saturday, May 26, 2012

Poppy Tunic the Second

Oh yes, I said there would be more and here is evidence. I think I cut out this Poppy Tunic while wearing my first.
This time in woven fabrics: a tweedy cotton blend I got from my local fabric shop maybe two years ago? I have a pinafore-type dress I've worn to death in a slightly lighter & greener version of this fabric. It rarely requires ironing and doesn't show the dirt. Yay!
The accent fabric is Windham Timber by Jessica Levitt. Also from the stash. I now match a couple of cushion covers I have around the house.
Alterations - decorative:
- added pocket (I don't know why but this one was crying out to me for a single, curved pocket)
- used piping on pocket and where bottom band meets main body
- made bottom band less deep than pattern and in main fabric rather than contrast
Alterations - fitting:
- took a triangular slice from the bottom of the front shoulder pieces, creating a dart-like effect to fit my bust area better - see pink line below for approximate adjustment (right is the outside edge)

- shaped the side seams of the main body in a little under arms and towards my waist and back out - roughly like pink line below.

And a side / back view... all a wee bit rumpled since I've been wearing it and the leggings non-stop for about two and a half days now.

Clearly a tunic length, never to be worn without leggings, but this seems to be my 'winter look 2012'. (Boots are Duckfeet which I wore non-stop last winter and am doing so again thus justifying their purchase price but they have been oh so worth it.)
Still thinking about a denim version. Getting a few comments from Jasper and Clem to the effect of "what? you're making another dress for you?" since it's been, oh, two in a row now. Maybe if I whip up a t-shirt for somebody I can sneak in another one....
- Jane x

Friday, May 25, 2012

spot the stripes!

The company I work for makes the occasional TV ad, and I'm really chuffed to have been part of this one. It's for a marvellous not-for-profit organisation that provides all sorts of services for people with disabilities, helping them participate in more aspects of the mainstream community. It's really nice to feel that sometimes advertising can do good things for good people.
On the day of the shoot I was wearing my handmade stripey top, and ended up stepping in as last minute er, 'talent'. Hello, back of my head! Hello, totally unprepared hairdo! But excitingly, hello handmade clothing on television!
(The presenter is a local TV newsreader and delightful to work with, as was everyone.)
It's so wonderful that organisations like Barkuma exist. Human nature can be very inspiring sometimes.

- Jane x

Sunday, May 20, 2012

It may be the winter of the Poppy Tunic

If I had the summer of the Miz Mozelle, I think I'm going to have the winter of the Poppy Tunic by Make it Perfect.
What is behind me? A better question would be "what isn't behind me?"
NB: I used a stretch fabric but the pattern is meant for wovens
I liked the look of this when it was released... but it's kind of deceptively simple. I wasn't fully convinced until
a) I saw the lovely variations that Toni, the pattern designer, had made for herself and
b) when Andy remarked that I could totally do the tunic-over-leggings-or-jeans. I put jeans under my velour dress one day for riding on the scooter and he told me it was a good look. I'd always thought it was for tall, thin girls but if my bloke thinks it's alright, then it's alright with me!

Also, I thought about what I really wear from my wardrobe, over and over. Simple, comfy basics? Yes indeed.

I've lent our DSLR camera to my brother so these photos are courtesy of Andy's iPhone. Let's get all square format Hipstamatic, shall we?

I'm wearing my new merino wool leggings from this Etsy shop. They're soft and warm and fabulous, and I think she really should charge more.
Wow, even the unidentified freezer contents in ziplock bags on the bench look kinda hipsta-cool.

The fabric is - wait for it - hand-dyed bamboo/hemp fleece. Pass the patchouli. The Poppy Tunic pattern is designed for woven fabrics but since I made the velour dress I've been on a mission to make another dress from something stretchy-yet-substantial. This fabric was from The Bamboo Fabric Store and the dye was a combination of Rit Denim Blue and Teal. I was going for something darker and probably should have used all of both packets but I like the colour anyway.

I made size M. Because of the stretch the armholes ended up vast, so I pinched out 2 inches front and back at the bottom of the armhole and tapered the side seam all the way down to the bottom. It would sit better if I took width out of the bottom too but I doubt I'll get around to it. I added pockets, which I do to pretty much everything, and changed around the contrast elements (the pattern shows contrast yoke and bottom hem band). Also, the bottom band is only half as deep as called for in the pattern.

The most fiddly thing about the Poppy Tunic really is making and attaching all the bias tape, however that's also much of its charm. I tried the continuous method to make the tape, plus my previously untested Clover gadget, both of which made the process a bit smoother. That stripey fabric is something I bought ages ago from eBay. It's old-ish, and linen-ish, and I'm happy to have cut into it.

I would love to make a denim version of the Poppy Tunic, but next in line might be some tweedy cotton blend from the stash.

Well, here's another weekend done and dusted. The big boys head off on school camp tomorrow for two nights. It will be strange without both of them!

I will finish up with a piece of unrelated sagely advice. Don't use purple carrots in pea and ham soup. Tastes fine, looks utterly disgusting. Not even "oh cool, boys, purple soup!". Nope, just disgusting.

Have a good week!

- Jane x

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

my new creative muse

This is my brother's newborn, little Curtis, photographed Sunday morning at less than twelve hours old.
Aaahhhh... I haven't been to visit again since we've all been a bit sniffly-coughy here, but I keep looking back at the photos because they're just so delicious and calming.

That image puts so much into perspective. (That, and a workmate's story about her teenage son's ingrown hair... somewhere... that had me pretty much curled in a ball under my desk today in hysterics.) Oh sorry, Curtis, to spoil your newborn pristine-ness with that. I don't think you care much. It's not all glamour when you've just squeezed out of someone's nether regions and require others to tend to all your bodily functions, either, is it?

Moving right along... why oh why didn't I sew when my babies were this small? It's so completely, ridiculously satisfying and uses just the smallest scraps of fabric.

I was totally inspired by Inder's recent baby-pants-a-rama sewing spree and set about downloading one of the patterns she used and making some for Curtis. And that was so quick and satisfying I made another. And that may not be the last.

I knew I'd been saving those small pieces of beloved knits for something! Internets, I love you.

(Bamboo fleece with Spoonflower knit trim, Lilofant knit with unbleached cotton rib trim from a bunch of stuff given to me by lovely ingrown-hair-story workmate.)

So, dear Curtis, I really hope these fit you, and that your mum and dad like them, because I'd really quite like to sew more. And see you wearing them. And have a cuddle. And hand you back when you make that scrunchy red poo-face. Welcome to the world.

- Aunty Jane x

Saturday, May 12, 2012

catching leaves

Yesterday I woke up with puffy eyes. The night before I'd been overcome for a while by 'woe is me' after a hectic week and the prospect of another one looming. I was feeling all out of balance; consumed by work and volunteer responsibilities, unable to find enough time to do what I wanted for and with my family.

I'd rushed home from a childcare committee meeting in time for Andy to head out to see a colleague's new theatre show. But five minutes later he was back because he said it seemed like I needed him there. What a darling. Of course once he offered me sympathy and a listening ear, I went all weepy because it's so much harder to hold it together when someone says "are you alright?", isn't it?

I'm worried I'm not spending enough time with Clem before he starts school in October. I'm worried I'm attached far too much to the computer tending to work emails when I officially only work 1.5 to 2 days a week. I'm worried I don't have enough time to keep up with basics like keeping the bills paid (because of the work I do to help pay the bills in the first place). I'm worried that the big boys are growing up before my eyes and their childhoods are slipping away. I'm worried that our lives are over-complicated with unimportant stuff.

So I talked this all through with my darling. He listened and made all the right sympathetic noises. And you know what I eventually realised?

My overriding worry was that I couldn't spend more quality time with my family. And I feel this because I love them so much, and I'm so very lucky to have them. I'm just greedy and want more. And that's not so bad, is it?

And then yesterday, Charlie was feeling a little tired and blue in the morning so I let him stay home from school with me and Clem. In the middle of the day we went to the Botanic Gardens, as I'd promised Clem we would. It's one place guaranteed to make me feel the goodness in the world.

Autumn leaves from the many Plane Trees were everywhere. On the Plane Tree lawn they were falling around us. The trees are immensely tall and looking up, we could see the leaves begin their journey down. 

And we could try to catch them. And if you have never tried to catch falling autumn leaves, looked to the sky, run this way and that, dashed, hands outstretched and finally snatched one victoriously before it hit the ground, I think you should try.
I realised that it doesn't take long to feel like I've 'caught up' on quality family time. A small but concentrated dose of goodness like that can take away the pain of an entire difficult (normal) week.
I also realised that even once Clem is at school, I can, on occasion, steal one of the boys away for a day. It doesn't have to be an ending.
Sorry there are just a few unimpressive phone photos. It was a back-to-basics day.
Things are good.
I'm lucky.
Wishing you a happy weekend.

- Jane x

Sunday, May 6, 2012

little and big

For sweet little Winter, daughter of my friend Han. Winter's turning one, and the weather here is turning cold, so I made this little vest from Ottobre Winter (appropriately) 6/2009.

 Here's the pic from the magazine: they suggest fur but I used felted wool from an old cardigan of mine that had a couple of moth holes.
I made it fully reversible with a button on the inside and outside. 
This side is velour left over from my dress. With two thick fabrics and such a tiny garment, I stitched embroidery thread around the edges to help the seams sit flatter.
During construction I inadvertently invented 'the Infinity Vest', oops. Unpick, unpick.
This was my first experience sewing from an Ottobre magazine. There are no diagrams really and the instructions are fairly brief, but made sense once I got stuck into it. This mistake was just me not looking properly at what I was doing.

Next in the Velour Series, which I can't promise is entirely finished yet, was Andy's hoodie. Typically, he wanted black. Wisely, I agreed, and made him something he'll actually wear. 
Black velour is not cooperative to sew or photograph. So please excuse the quality of these images and instead, enjoy the fact that Andy is writing a shopping list and about to head off with a 4y.o. in a Witchard cape to the supermarket.

Fabrics: black bamboo and organic cotton velour from here, organic cotton knit hood lining from Spoonflower.
Pattern: Farbenmix Yorik, largest size with a little added width and length (please bear in mind for the sake of Andy's body image this is actually a children's pattern!).

Lastly I wanted to add a couple more pictures of our gloop painting, which progressed from the gate to the driveway. I highly recommend this for kid-friendly fun!
Lion, a joint effort by Clem and me.
Fox, by Clem.

- Jane x

Friday, May 4, 2012


Who sneezed on our gate?
Nah, it's just me indulging Clem's whim to paint our rusty front gate yellow.
I didn't want to squash his vision but I didn't want to end up with permanent paint all over him, the gate and the driveway.

Enter cornflour paint: about a tablespoon of cornflour heated with about a cup of water plus food colouring. Very gloopy, and providing pleasingly sustained entertainment to the four year old.

I suspect I may have some regrets over this activity after it has dried and subsequently gooeys (sure that's a real word) up again when it rains. Eh, whatever. Snot a problem, heheh.

- Jane x
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