Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How to please everyone:

Pick a sunny day...
Dress in beachwear...

Hop on a train...

Go for a swim...

Eat some sand...

Then fill up on a babycino and muffin before visiting...

Patchwork by the Sea which stocks Amy Butler Fabric
(the only place in Adelaide that has it I think.
They even had this one which is my absolute favourite Amy print)...

OK, so the kids weren't so happy with that last step but they were too worn out to care.

I had a dream

In my dream I was saving our shower and bath water in buckets and pouring it on the lawn (which we actually do in real life).

The lawn was growing really well. It was lush and green and looked superb. Next to the lawn, three cherry trees were growing. But they were dying. They had wilted and turned brown and I hadn't even noticed because I was so busy looking after the lawn.

And the thing is, I didn't really care about the lawn that much anyway. And it probably would've survived without me. I really really loved those cherry trees though.

The moral of the story? Well...subsitute the lawn for my sewing, the three cherry trees for Chris, Abby and Rory and the shower water for my time.

The cherry trees needed me more!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Insert excited ooooh! noise here

Rory makes a very cute "ooooooh!" noise whenever he sees something exciting like a letterbox or the cat or sultanas. I made the same noise when I opened the letterbox this morning and found this:

Either I wasn't using the right channels or this book is quite hard to get hold of because I've been waiting over 3 months for it.

Is it too much to hope that one little book can rescue me from the 'family funk' that I'm experiencing at the moment? There's a lot of same ole same ole going on around here so I'm hoping for some inspiration within the pages of Amanda's book.

If I was forced to pick only one blog to read it would be soulemama. There's a bit of all my favourite things there - sewing, knitting, crafting, playing, learning, reading, growing, gardening, cooking, baking and whole lot of loving.

Speaking of books, Carly very kindly let me have a squiz at the new Meet Me at Mike's book during Abby's art class on Saturday. Oooooh!

And just to remind myself that my children are indeed wonderful, kind, funny and most of all loveable here they are

Friday, March 27, 2009

The perfect pinnie

Here is the prototype perfect pinnie I made the other day. My market research (ie a few other mums at the park) tells me they like the way it does up at the back (one tie as opposed to 2 or 3, and ties as opposed to buttons) but they would like it a bit longer.

It is reversible so I asked them about what they would like on the other side. Cord? Polar fleece? Similar colour pretty fabric? Contrasting colour pretty fabric? They all had different views.

What do you think?

I am also working on a design for an adult version but sleep won last night so I will finish it over the weekend and do further market research with the knee high boot brigade at playgroup on Monday.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

How to sew a comfy tube skirt - tutorial

I purchased a huge amount of stretch fabric at Spotlight's clear the bolt sale. I had never sewn with stretch fabric before but for some reason I decided I needed 12 metres of it.

So I tried a few skirt designs but wasn't happy with any of them and stashed my stash of jersey fabric in the corner of my sewing room under a pile of other stuff hoping I could make it go away.

It didn't. Fortuitously, all in the space of a week I stumbled across this book and this belly band in the back of my drawer. Hmmm. Perhaps if I just made this band thing longer I would have a skirt. Hmmm. Comfy. Stretchy. Easy. Nice.

But I can't keep such a good idea to myself so here it is. Now go forth and be comfy.

Step 1 - Cutting

Start with a giant square of stretch/knit/jersey (whatever you want to call it) fabric. You need to make sure the stretchiest side is going to be the waist and the not-so-stretchy side will be the length. The length will be 100cm which will mean the finished skirt will measure about 48cm long. You can vary the width depending on your size. I make mine 80cm wide and I'm about a size 12. It's quite important to get perfectly square/rectangular sides or the skirt won't quite sit right and will twist when you wear it.
(Also, I use a 50cm x 50cm square to make these for Abby who is 3. Because the sizing is so flexible this measurement would fit a little girl age 2-6 I reckon).

Step 2 - Sewing

Fold the 80cm lengths (the stretchier ones) right sides together and stitch. I just use a regular straight stitch and you don't need to finish the seam as it won't fray. Backstitch at each end. You'll have a long tube now.

Then, fold the tube in half inside itself so the right sides stay together. Pin the seams together.

Remove the free arm from your sewing machine and sew around the tube but leave about a 10cm gap for turning just below the seam (as shown). Try to keep the seam flat as you sew or it will be quite bulky when you wear the skirt (I for one can live without the bulk). Backstitch at each end.

Step 3 - The end

Now, turn the skirt right side out by pulling it through the hole you just made. Hand stitch the opening closed. Turn the skirt so the hand stitching is on the inside.

I know it doesn't look special but it is comfy and comfortable is my number 1 criteria for clothing at the moment. I wear mine with leggings but you could wear it on its own or even as a top or boob tube or belt or turban or...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

But I don't wanna be a pirate

I pretty much just make little girl skirts for the markets at the moment but I've been wanting to launch some sort of peasant top/smock/pinafore creation for a while. So today I tried this pattern as a starting point and got half way through before deciding that the sleeves are very pirate-y.
So I left them off. Here is the result:

former op shop tablecloth

And then I thought, you know, that facing is just unecessary and troublesome. And why bother sewing the back panels together. I could use ties instead, thus making it adjustable. And then I thought that if I line it I won't have to bother finishing any of the seams or hemming it and what's more, it would then be reversible.

Oooooh. Sounding good right? Well, it is. It's great. Perfect. I love it.

One small problem. It's very much like many other little girl pinnies/smocks I've seen around. Which is a problem for two reasons. 1) The lovely smocks I've seen have been made by some new friends of mine (hello!) and 2) Adelaide is a little city and I think we're reaching saturation point with smocks (as great as they are).

Big people smocks though? Well, I haven't seen any of those around. And so I think I'm going to be taking a new direction with my gillybean sewing. Stay tuned.

Nanna cushion

the original picture

Here is a cushion only a nanna could love. I used fabric that she gave me from her stash (the shabby chic green and pink roses which I do love but isn't really my style), and in the middle is a portrait of her done by Abby. I planned to embroider the whole thing (a la soulemama and the long thread) but since I've never done embroidery before (it's not that easy, as it turns out) I decided to applique the bigger pieces. I should've used only plain pieces of fabric in the applique because the eyes, mouth, arms (3 of them!) and legs get a bit lost in the flowery background. Nevermind.

Later on, in front of the TV, I will endeavour to embroider Abby's name as well.

Chris's mum will love it and appreciate it in a way only a Nanna could.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

School teacher jumper to librarian cardi

I don’t normally buy things for myself at the op shop. I just can’t get past the smell and the wondering about the previous owner.

But this jumper had that Virgo school teacher look about it and smelled like eucalyptus wool mix. It is the perfect size, it's in perfect condition and it's a good quality brand (Jacqui E) so I knew it had potential.

the before photo must always be horrid

I snipped it up the middle and added a ribbon trim. I had planned to jazz up the embroidered flower (hard to see because it’s black) with some buttons or beads or something but decided to leave it and added this crochet flower brooch (from the Fullarton Market) instead. I also added a ruffle thing around the sleeves to pretty it up a bit and make it a bit more feminine. It didn't quite worked out as planned but looks ok.


It's not looking so school-teachery anymore. More librarian-y instead.

Yes, still wearing my Anna Tunic. I haven’t taken it off yet. I even broke my "not buying any fabric in March" vow today and plan to make two more (at least!).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ta da! Anna Tunic

So here it is! It doesn't take long to hem and now that Rory is sleeping through (hooray!) I don't feel the need to retire for the night at 8:30pm anymore.

I made a large in "dress" length but ended up chopping about 6 inches off so really I think mine is closer to "mini dress" size. I was a bit reluctant to go straight for the "mini" size given that I'm now in my 30s.
It's a bit Jane Jetson and I would probably never buy it if I saw it in a shop (it looks much better on). I don't really like the fabric I used but it was cheap from the op shop and since this was a first attempt and I wasn't sure how it would turn out I didn't want to use up any good stuff. Most of the flickr photos I've seen are made with patterned fabric and I think that works better.
But I just wanted something that would go with everything and I love wearing green. I can throw this on and wear it all year round. I can layer it up for winter or wear it on its own in summer. And it's so comfortable which is my number 1 criteria for clothing at the moment.
The pattern was easy peasy. Well, not simple easy but easy-to-follow easy. Lots of clear instructions as well as pictures. Either I'm a much better sewer now than I was 6 months ago or Amy Butler's patterns are much simpler than Simplicity's because I made 3 Simplicty 4589 shirts (which are quite similar to this tunic) in Spring last year and had a lot of trouble!
I made it in 3 sessions of about 2 hours each. The first was just cutting out the pattern pieces and the fabric. The second I sewed the panels and the lining and today I sewed the yoke and the hem. The yoke required some concentration and careful reading but the rest was fairly straightforward. The buttons at the back are very pretty and are nowhere near as complicated as I thought they would be. I can get the tunic on and off without unbuttoning it so perhaps next time I won't bother with the buttons. Or the lining for that matter. Who needs lining, really?
It's a winner. I will be making more.

Abby's creative space

I was hoping to blog about my nearly finished Anna Tunic but it's yet to be hemmed so I will wear it and blog about it tomorrow.
Instead I bring you Abby's creative space. Inspired by all those creative spaces I've been seeing over at kootoyoo. I know, it's not the right day for it. There's no way I'm organised enough to blog on demand.

Here it is, tidy for once, so I snapped some photos.

In the drawers are paints (top drawer!!), playdough and playdough shapes, colouring in books, scrapbooks, miscellaneous sheets of paper, stencils and stickers.

I've hung some fishing wire from one door frame to another and I hang all the stuff she makes up there. Time is the best moderator. Every week or so the crap gets 'recycled' (don't tell her!) and the good ones are either abducted by me and stuck up in my sewing room or put in a special folder I have for all her 'artwork.'

Thanks to Ikea, all her stuff has a spot to live. One container each for pencils, textas, paintbrushes, crayons, ink stamps, chalk, glitter, and sticky tape and glue. We try to keep it organised but, like me, she has creative frenzies where she doesn't have time to put everything away. The mess drives me crazy but I like to encourage her creativity and ignore it most of the time. Besides, she occupies herself here for hours on end so I can't complain, can I?

OK, time to hem.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fallback dinner

I was exhausted from a day of sewing, Chris was exhausted from a day with the kids (who knew children could be so tiring?!) and we opened to door to a very empty looking fridge. The fallback plan? Pizza. Always pizza.

We use a Tupperware recipe for the base and add whatever ingredients we have in the fridge. Zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, onion, garlic, some herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, olives. Everything tastes yummy when it's on pizza!

We're not feeling very loyal to this pizza base recipe as it is sometimes a bit doughy and sometimes a bit dry and crumbly so the search continues for a better one.

Oh, by the way we do not own the "That's-A-Bowl Junior" or the "TupperChef Spatula" or the "TupperChef Utility Chef Knife" called for in the original recipe and our pizza turns out just fine.

1 ¾ cups SR flour
Pinch of salt
60g shredded cheese *
7g sachet of dried yeast
¼ olive oil
2/3 cup boiling water
Cracked black pepper *
Some herbs *

(* = optional ingredients)

Preheat oven to 220c. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Place all the ingredients in a bowl with a lid. Shake the bowl until the mixture forms a ball. Remove the dough and press it out with your fingertips into the baking tray. Set it aside for 10-15 minutes to rest and rise slightly while you prepare the toppings.
Add topping and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and the base is crisp.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Child labour

This job is a tiny bit more fun when I have a helper. The success rate of stamp to correct position on paper decreases by 50% though. So I'm not sure I'm actually saving money by making my own business cards and labels which is why I'm doing it myself in the first place.

Let's face it, I'd rather be sewing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

No peeking Aimee!

I don't think she reads my blog anyway....

Do you see the irony in giving a uni student a coin purse for her birthday? It's a bit like when I was young and would buy myself a new purse or wallet and then not have any money left to put in it.

I made this one using a tutorial I found at Bling on my Sewing Machine (cool name!). Buuut there are a few changes I'll make when I sew another one. First, the size. I'm going to make mine bigger. Also, on the inside of the purse the seams are showing! And they're unfinished! Egad. We can't have that. I didn't bother with the stabilising fabric and coped ok with the zip (it was much easier than I expected).

I'm on a roll today and tonight with my sewing and have a few March/April birthdays so back to it.

Shabby chic bib

My kids could be the poster children for "shabby chic." They start the day looking quite chic. Nicely dress in clean clothes with neatly combed and styled hair. They finish the day looking positively shabby. But that's ok because they're kids. And kids get messy. That's why they have 2 baths a day (no, it's not so I can sit, relax and knit for 5 minutes while they splash).

This bib will camouflage some of the mess. Kids can slobber, drool and spit up their mush all over this bib and you won't even see it.

The zig-zagged edges of this bib give it its shabbiness and the patchwork squares give it its chicness.

And I used up more fabric scraps. And K-Rudd gave us $900 today. So when March is over I can really go nuts at the fabric shops. Thanks Kevin. And thanks Ted for being my (way more co-operative than the other 2) model.

From the scrap heap

Chris is in charge of "scrap" at his work. I think he does other things as well. If not, he does a very good job of pretending to be stressed, exhausted and busy. He said last year "scrap" was doing very well (meaning they didn't have much of it). He doesn't know why. This year "scrap" isn't doing very well (meaning they've got about $56,000 worth of it). He also doesn't know why. He has a big scrap problem.

My scrap problem is tiny compared to his. But still, it is a problem. So, I made these headbands. Hot sellers at the last markets and hopefully a winner at the next market.

patiently waiting for their interfacing

These are made for little girls (they seem to fit ages 3-7) but some people were buying them for their babies which I don't really advocate unless you want a baby who is grumpy because there is something on their head that they can't get off and who looks like an easter egg.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Don't even think about reading this book

When we travelled to America when I was about twelve we saw a "Don't even think about parking in this space" sign which I thought was the most hilarious thing I'd ever seen. Hey, I was 12.

Anyway, I'm here to warn you about this book on the left. It has taken me since Christmas to read as I could only digest the tiniest amount in a single session. zzzzzzzzzzz. It started out all right (if it didn't I would've ditched it much earlier on) but midway through the book a heap of (boring) sub-plots sprung up. But I'd already come so far so I trudged on in the hope that it would improve. Sadly, it didn't.

I enjoyed Wally Lamb's other books but I could've read four wonderful books like the ones on the right in the time it took me to read his one crap book.

Sigh. Well I didn't think I'd blog about books but I felt it was my duty to warn the world (well, the 3 of you that read my blog anyway).

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Back away from the mom jeans"

I had a good chuckle when I stumbled upon this blog. I especially love their definition of 'mom jeans.'

"Jeans that are often very high on a woman. Usually 3 to 4 inches above the belly button.
Often is seen at soccer games, baseball games,
and other outdoor recreational activities.
Usually is accompanied by a thin belt, and a tucked in shirt.
Jeans are often broken in and are a worn in light blue type jean,
possibly even acid washed and so tight that the
spare tire becomes a muffin on top of the jeans."

Whilst my jeans don't fit the definition I must confess that jeans have become my wardrobe staple since becoming a mum.

I blame exhaustion and the time constraints of getting 3 people breakfasted, showered, dressed and organised ready to leave the house in the morning (seriously, when did this start taking 2 hours???) I'm lucky if I have time to brush my hair let alone pick out a fashionable coordinating outfit. That's where jeans come in. Just chuck 'em on with a seasonably appropriate top and shoes and off you go.

I've decided it's time to back away from the mom jeans. They're not even comfy!

So I've made some stretchy skirts, I'm in the process of making some anna tunics in mini-dress length and have bought myself a few pairs of leggings/footless tights, that dress from Sprout (see below) and some cardis. That oughta get me through to Spring.
Oh, and if you see me out in jeans it means I've had a bad morning so don't mess with me.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bling for 3 year olds

Need an activity requiring very little adult supervision to keep your little one occupied while you devour your new craft books? (thankyooou birthday gift certificate)
Your little fruit loop might like to make one of these fruit loop necklaces. Every day I discover new things on wonderful crafty blogs. This idea is from My Longest Year.

1/2 cup of salt
1/2 cup of warm water
1 cup of flour

(makes enough for 2 necklaces so mummy gets one too. Lucky mummy...)
Just mix it all together and knead it a little bit. Then roll it into balls and poke the pointy end of chopstick through the middle to make a hole for threading. Microwave for 2 - 3 minutes turning the beads over half way through.
Wait for them to cool then paint them. When the paint has dried, thread them onto some ribbon/wool/string.

OK, back to my books.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jersey Queen

miss new jersey
Well, that was an interesting Google search! Moving right along.

Oh I've been having so much trouble with knit fabric. I was ready to give up but the other day I was wearing one of these bellybands and thought hmm maybe I could just make a longer one of these. I also had a lot of help from Built by Wendy's fantastic book. Yay, finally a wearable skirt. It's basically just a tube so it was a piece of cake to make (in the end).
It's a little tight so I'm going to make another slightly bigger one. I wonder if any of my skinny friends are planning to join the circus......
I was determined to get it right because I have soooo much of this fabric and because most of the clothes we wear are made from knit fabrics. I really would love to be able to sew most of our clothing so this was something I had to conquer.

I've got one word for you, dress

I've had this $13 Target dress for 3 or 4 years. It's my stinking hot day housedress dress. Baggy, clingy and completely unflattering. And it makes me look 6 months pregnant even when I'm not. When I am 6 months pregnant, it makes me look 10 months pregnant.

I shortened it and added a broderie anglaise (?) trim. I also cut off the sleeves and added some trim there. I really wanted to get rid of the ties and add some elastic to give it some shape instead but I wasn't sure how to, and I figured out that if I tie the ties in just the right spot, I can hide some of the stains.

Now...? Well, it's ok. It feels and looks a bit like a nightie though... So I'm still not sure I'll wear it out of the house. It might work with some leggings and a long sleeve t-shirt underneath. I'm sure I'll get an honest opinion from Chris when he arrives home.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Unfinished business

Woohoo! A long weekend. Time for a bit of everything we love. Dining out (can you call it dining when you go to Fasta Pasta?), family fun at the Fringe, a few jobs around the house (renovation rescue in our bedroom), a moving movie, some yummy cooking and...

My wish for a few hours sewing was granted yesterday afternoon when Chris took the kids to the park. Ooh ooh ooh what to sew? Normally an easy question but not yesterday as I have a million things on the go and a million things I want to start. Of course starting something new is exciting but I decided the sensible thing to do was finish a few near-finished things

This skirt (an order from the last market)

and this one (just for fun)

and these little girl PJ pants (more op shop fabric)

Not a very exciting session but I've cleared the way for funner sewing tomorrow (child-free Wednesday!).

Friday, March 6, 2009

It's not called an 'opportunity shop' for nothing

Oh we've had good Op Shop karma ever since we donated a huge bag of clothes to our local Op Shop. I could've sold it all on Ebay and made myself a tidy sum but decided in the end that a) I couldn't be bothered (hey, I want to spend my computer time in blogland) and b) it's nice to do nice things.

And we've been repaid tenfold. An especially good find was a corduroy mini skirt for me for $2. When I threw it in the wash $4.20 fell out of the pocket. Is it still a good buy if it's a little squeezy around the tummy? I think I'm kidding myself still buying the size I thought I was. The up side is that Rory thinks my tum makes a good pillow.

Here are some other finds:

spice rack (not anymore)
table cloth (but not for long! we don't have any round tables anyway...)

calendar tea-towel. should've left it there for Good Gracie to find! and some too-small holey rainbow tights are now leggings which are destined to live out the remainder of their life either in the washing machine or on these little girl legs.

What I really really need though are some bar stools and a cutting table for my sewing room. Hmm I feel a visit to Ikea coming on.

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