Thursday, 13 December 2012

beautiful distractions

whilst slogging through my WIPs, I couldn't help but 'research' the interwebs for more inspiration or excuses, and on one excursion I found the wonderful world of Bendigo Woollen Mills online. The chances of me ever getting to Bendigo are pretty slim (although it is somewhat increased now that I know of Woollen Mills Factory Outlet).

Aside from all the wool they are selling, they also sell cotton ... beautiful wonderful cotton. I don't often (read never) work with wool due to the climate and the fact that anything short of cashmere makes me itch. Their shade cards did not disappoint.

Their balls of cotton are available in both 4ply and 8ply and are 200gr as opposed to the little 50gr ones. They have a special on until the 19th of December where you can buy 12 balls for $106.00 whereas normally it is $13.00 a ball and no postage. I think I found my Christmas present :-)

Friday, 7 December 2012

UFO #7 - the Christmas tea cosy

I wasn't convinced of tea cosies before - and really, I am not now, because whilst I was working on the tea cosy, Brisbane hit 39 degrees, so who would need a tea cosy in this weather - BUT it was kinda fun to create. So without further ado, I give you my Christmas tea cosy ...

It's a 2x2 rib (I think that is what it is called, if you knit 2 and purl 2) with doubled up green yarn and trebled red yarn with a strand of gold in it. The yarn was donated to the project and it is Acrylic at its finest, but I can't hear the teapot complaining that it itches, so all is well.

Since I only have a small tea pot I tried to make it very stretchy and flexible so it could accommodate larger pots as well. So, the presents on top actually have a bit of space to arrange themselves around a larger lid. Probably less suitable in a cold climate, but really people, I am a mother of two and I can't remember when I last had a hot cup of tea (or coffee) that wasn't microwaved at least twice :-)

I have also finished UFOs #4 the hemming of the tunic, #5 the grey blue t-shirt (okay, okay, I still need to do the hem), and #6 the head band. I have postponed #3, the quilt, until my 1/4 in quilting foot arrives. I am not sure I'll ever do #8, the sewing machine bag, because I figured I actually rather trace and cut when I am visiting other people (or crochet/knit) and I can do something else with the materials.

Now, I will do the hem and then I shall see what to do next. Toodles .... :-)

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

UFO #2 - the City Scape Shorts

I had it all cut out and ready to sew and then never really got going. The fabric is a quilting cotton he chose, so it was really easy to sew. However, in the end it was a struggle that I can't really explain other then I really didn't want to. It seems that I have so little time and so many things I want to do ... sigh ...

Despite all this, I am really proud of how neat they turned out on the inside.

This time I french-seamed the pockets like Megan did in her Apple Dress and it worked beautifully.


I have done this pattern before (and moaned and griped about the instructions to anyone I could find) and I wonder whether that previously negative experience had tempered my enthusiasm with this project. I tried to address some of the issues I had with the last version. I set the pockets higher, because last time he couldn't actually get into the pockets, because they started where his fingers ended - his own fault if you ask me for wearing his shorts so low that they barely cover his bottom, but apparently I am old and don't know anything about fashion ... kids these days :-)

However, looking at it now, there is too much fabric in the front and maybe lowering the waistline would improve that issue. Alternatively, I still have my self-drafted pattern which fitted him really well, but is now getting a little small. I could attempt to size that one up instead. Well, he now has enough pants, so I'll look at the issue when he outgrows all the ones he has.

Two down, six more to go, next UFO here we come :-)

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

UFO #1 - the homespun dress

Somehow gingham always reminds me of school uniforms and farms. However, when I first do a pattern for the kids I don't use the really crappy fabric that I use to make my muslins, but I use a fabric that I don't have any great attachment to ... like this pink cotton gingham. Remnant from Spotlight, easy to work with, you know, okay, just not something I would choose deliberately.

The pattern itself was okay, it is one of those little girls dresses that is really quite common. It became a UFO when I didn't have the patience to figure things out right then and there, and after a while it just laid there and I did other things. I forgot to take before pictures, but essentially I still needed to set in the sleeves, finish of the neck line and the hem.

Well, ta da ... Butterick B4176 in Pink Gingham (it is classed as very easy and it still took me ages)

I am actually very happy with it. I change the neckline (made it wider), but only because when I got to it, I couldn't for the life of me locate the instructions so I arbitrarily decided it was going to be an inch wide, so I cut a 4 in strip of the fabric on the bias and went from there. I realised when taking this picture that I had sewn the button on too high and maybe, in a few month, I find I can't live with that level of imperfection anymore, but until then I am just glad I finished the dress. I later found the instructions right beside my iron :-)

I did set some eyelet lace under the hem, because I have seen something similar in RTW dresses for little girls and I thought the dress suits it.

Overall I am really glad I finished the dress. It looks very homespun, yet my daughter loves it and whilst it is slightly on the large side, she does grow, so all is well. I'll see about making her another one after Christmas with some voile I have laying about. Onwards to the next project ... only seven more to go :-)

Sunday, 11 November 2012

down with the UFOs

I hate UFOs, no really, absolutely loath them ... and no, I have not got an irrational hatered for aliens of any sort, but UnFinished Objects are the subject of my ire.

They are usually projects where I have to think a little. Either the instructions leave a lot to be desired for or it is particularly fiddly (or I am just Giggles Butterfinger) or I haven't got everything for it or I haven't got quite enough fabric and it requires some imaginative cutting or or or ... the list is long.

I now have 8 UFOs and my patience with them is so thin, I considered throwing them. However, after that bit of rage passed, I realised I needed to make a plan ... I love plans and lists ... yeay something positive in all this mess.

For the rest of November I, Giggles Butter ... no in the Sun, solemly swear to work on all 8 UFOs (excluded is the 5 a square scarf) as listed below.
  1. Pink Gingham Dress Butterick B4176
  2. City Scape Shorts Patterns by Figgy
  3. colourful quilt top as chosen by my sister
  4. redo hem for Tunic
  5. finish blue gray T-Shirt
  6. hair band for school craft sale
  7. christmas tea cosy for school craft sale
  8. sewing machine carrier bag
They don't all have to be finished as such, but I will have to have worked on it.

A little bit secondary to this is that I really need to start making the christmas presents (list to come shortly) and the purpose of this whole learning to sew business: the CHRISTMAS DRESS.

I have finally narrowed down the pattern for the dress and the fabric, but that'll be a post all on its own :-)

Friday, 9 November 2012

Burda splurge

In an effort to spend less on sewing (because really what I do most in regards to sewing, is buy things for it) I went to my local library to have a look and I walked away with some Burda magazines.

To be honest, I didn't expect much and 4 or the five magazines I got confirmed that quite nicely. A lot of lines, a lot of colours ... the need to take some paracetamol after looking at it for a while.

However the 06/2008, instead of just having everything on 4 sheets, they had 8 and it was much much easier.

So the last couple of weeks were spend tracing and sewing up muslins ... in short I feel like I did a lot, but have NOTHING to show for ... hmmm

However, I am finishing up the last muslin today, and then I will have things to show you, I think. Here is a little teaser :-)

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Ariadne Tunic by Tanit-Isis

I have lost all witty inspiration for a title ... perhaps something will come to me later.

Not so long ago I bought a Jersey bed sheet for my son, but after 2 washes it had shrank to the size of a cot sheet. What better to practise Jersey sewing skills on :-)

It is a thin 4 way stretch so the Ariadne Tunic by Tanit-Isis seemed perfect. I do feel I look a little pregnant in it, but when it is hot and humid it is nice to wear something loose.

I omitted the band around the bottom, because my hips are the largest bit of me and I felt that the band would draw extra attention to that bit. I also didn't do the keyhole in the back due to personal preferences.

My jersey hemming skills need to be improved, but I have no doubt that with time that'll come. Overall I am really happy with it and I am sure I'll wear it lots this summer. Thank you Tanit-Isis for providing this lovely pattern :-)

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Birthday haul

A while back I got to the ripe old age of ... hmmm ... 33. I had been telling my son 27, but he is dreadfully attached to telling the truth, who knew :-)

My sister, sister-in-law and mother-in-law all decided to feed my habit. How great are they?!!!?

I now have Dana Willard's Fabric A-Z to assist me with buying fabric online and in the store. I also have Wendy Gardiner's Sewing Machine Accessory Bible Machine which has already been a great help in deciding which extra feet to order for Christmas.

My lovely sister-in-law gave me The Sewing Book Step by Step which is just fabulously detailed in every way.

And last but not least my baby sister got me my very own picnic blanket skirt fabric. It won't be exactly like Tilly and the Buttons version, because I am a bit triangle/pear shaped and a gathered skirt like that makes my hip look enormous.

Anyway, today it is 35 degrees in Brisbane and I am taking back everything I moaned about being cold :-)

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Summer sewin' - had me a blast

I shall never ever list to Grease again (maybe) - that song just doesn't want to go away. I dreamt of it last night :-)

After something for my son I thought I make something for myself. Firstly I made another straight skirt, this time made from blue cotton sateen - another remnant that was languishing in my stash.

It is a bit more baggy then the previous versions as I lost a little weight, but I shall see whether that stays this way before changing both the pattern and the skirt.

I also experimented a bit with a T-Shirt pattern from one of my favourite (very old) T-shirts. I used the flowery interlocky material that I used for the Dolman Sleeve Top, but it is a bit tight as the material is not as stretchy as jersey.

The front looks okay, but the back seems a little tight. I shall go back to the pattern and see about the seam allowances and whether I did actually add them. On the whole I am quite pleased with it, because T-shirts and skirts are what I mostly wear. Yes, I'd like to do more difficult things like dresses and pants, but if I just get the basics right and wearable and durable then I feel I have already achieved a lot.

When taking these picture I came across something slightly odd - granny squares around a tree in the playground. I wonder what it means :-)

Sunday, 30 September 2012

summer sewin' - happens so fast

why yes, I do have the soundtrack of Grease running through my head, what gave it away :-)

The first month of spring is drawing to an end, so the summer sewing has began. First my (not so little anymore) baby boy requested an elephant for himself.

I had originally bought some really soft green and blue seersucker from Spotlight for some shorts for him, but Mr Giggles (the great guru of all things style related she says whilst rolling her eyes dramatically) thought it looked 'a bit girly' oh really ... hmmm let me count the ways ... anyway the topic was moot since my son requested his elephant to be made from this.

I managed to squeeeeeenze out a pair of sleep shorts using the pattern I made myself when I first started sewing, but lengthened it a bit and make an elephant from it. It's 'so cute' as my daughter puts it, whilst my son starts a drawn out explanation why it can't possibly be 'cute'.

I even added a back pocket to them. Obviously I didn't think about it until I had already sewn the inside seam, but nevertheless it worked out. Next time I'll attach it before :-)

The ears are from the left over brown flannel from his Jedi bath robe and it is really cuddly. It has graced his bed ever since it had one eye attached - I only managed to sew on one eye before getting distracted, so there where a couple of days when the heffalump was half-blind, but still very much loved.

PS.: Mr Giggles has acknowledged that he might have been a bit hasty declaring the fabric 'girly' :-)

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Sewing is contagious - the sequel

Well, I haven't posted much this past month, because my baby sister has been visiting us from Vienna. We did a lot of touristy things, but she also got intrigued with the sewing machine (note to self: must really name the sewing machine otherwise she'll feel like she doesn't belong).

So after finishing the Dolman Sleeve Top, we went to Spotlight and she chose some blue seersucker and set to making her some PJ pants. She originally wanted to make a tunic, but I had no patterns here and she found the free one we printed out a little daunting.

It was fun and a little easier then with my son, because a, she didn't need a step under the foot pedal and b, her attention span was longer.

Why yes, I have started her on the bad habit of using ordinary pink chalk to trace. I have pointed out to her the various other pens and chalks I have and that for some reason or another I always seem to go back to the chalk.

The pattern came from the Sew Everything book and was for Yoga Pants originally. It was a fun thing to do. I did point out my lack of expertise, but we really did have a good time. She seemed to like the sewing (and tracing and ironing) and we shall see whether she'll go as far as purchasing her own machine (and iron). Sadly there is no finished picture - as I am getting old apparently I forgot to take one, so I leave you with a picture of another visitor to Tangalooma - an Australian Pelican (the largest species on the pelicans).

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Tangalooma knitting

we rarely go on holidays (we drive to Mackay once a year to visit my mother-in-law), but my sister is down for a visit from Vienna, sooooo ... we packed up the kids and headed out across the bay from Brisbane. 45 minutes on a boat takes you to Tangalooma on Moreton Island.

It is beautiful and the main attraction is the wild dolphin feeding that happens each night. We fed a dolphin named Tinkerbell, who had a baby with her that stayed back though. We didn't get pictures whilst we were feeding, but we did get some earlier.

Whilst on the island I started a scarf for myself (yes, I know it is spring here and it'll be months before I need it) with some yarn I picked up on the fabric-a-brac. It is a cotton/soy mix in teal and it is beautiful to work with. I rarely do knit/crochet for myself and the joy I am experiencing with this project takes my breath away.

It is a pattern I thought of myself, but I have no doubt that someone somewhere has made that into a pattern before, after all there is only a limited number of possibilities how you combine knit and purl together ;-). Anyway, it has a garter stitch frame and then alternating knit and purl squares. I am really pleased with how it all worked out and I can't wait to wear it in winter (next year). This project is teaching me that I really need to do something special for myself occasionally to remind myself why I am actually doing the work. Yes presents and things for the kids and 'cake sewing' are nice, but just sometimes it is great to do something that is nice just for me.

Have a wonderful week everyone :-)

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Dolman Sleeve Top

I did it ... I sewed a top with Jersey like material. I think it's actually interlock, but I am not sure. It was a mystery purchase from fabric-a-brac. I used the free Dolman Sleeve Top pattern from Cation Designs.

It came out alright, although the directions say that you should sew the sides with a straight stitch and the first time a did it and then tried it on the stitches ripped where the sleeve turns down the side. I just resewed it with a zigzag stitch and it was fine.

I might make one more version from it with a lower neckline, but it's getting warmer now so it's back to T-shirts.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Fabric-a-Brac Brisbane

A little late, but last weekend I went to the inaugural Brisbane Fabric-a-Brac organised by the wonderful StephC and what a great event it was. I didn't bring a bag, because I only came to look at the patterns ;-)

I am always drawn to black and white prints, but my favourite is the black linen that has embroidered flowers on it. I thought about it for some time, because black is not really a Brisbane colour, however in the end I am obviously quite weak :-)

I also picked up some Jersey to try both Cation's Dolman Sleeve Top and StephC's Blank Canvas T-Shirt. Not sure it's pure cotton, but it was cheap and I can practise without feeling guilty.

There are also some pink fairies and I didn't pick up any patterns, but I foresee hours of happy sewing in the near future :-)

For anyone interested in winning some fabric, StephC is currently holding a giveaway for some wonderful Jersey fabric in anticipation for the launch of her pattern company here at 3hourspast.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Blanket 2012

I make exactly one blanket per year. No more. Regardless of how much I might like another throw then and there or how it would be a great present for xyz. It just takes up too much time and space and I lose interest halfway through and I don't like having lots of unfinished WIPs around the place. Last year it was a blanket for my son. It took months and months, but he loved it.

This year is my Dad's 60th, so I thought it would be nice to make him one for the cold winters in Germany. When I told him about my son's blanket his reply was along the lines of 'well, are you sure you want to do that for the rest of your life' (yes Dad, that is what I like to do when I am not doing my main job i.e looking after your grandchildren and no, I don't feel like I am wasting my life), but I am hoping that he might be more positive towards his own.

It's crochet in a shell stitch, lots and lots of little shells. In the colours that remind me of his home. The ivory for the snow, the brown for the house, the blue for the lake, the green for the forest, it all reminds me of home.

For some reason, when I looked at the finished shell stitch portion, I thought it was too small (to fit a single bed) and it needed a border. It now measures 145cm (57in) x 210cm (83in) (and weight more then 3.5 kg) and is perhaps a little larger then anticipated :-)

I have sent it off today and hopefully it'll arrive before Sept. 9th. I am somewhat glad it is finished.

Off to fabric-a-brac tomorrow though and I am super excited :-)

Monday, 20 August 2012

Spring is in the air

In preparation for the (inevitable) return of the heat - I'd rather not call it spring, because having a month of semi hot weather before it turn hot 'n humid really doesn't qualify as it's own season - I have asked the son whether he needed anything and he apparently needed some red shorts (for Rugby training - Go Reds).

When I pick up the Ice Cream Social dress pattern I felt guilty about buying such an expensive pattern for the daughter, so in the interest of sibling equality I also bought Beach Bum Hoodie and Board Shorts by Patterns by Figgy's.

I wish I could recommend them as enthusiastically as I did with Oliver + S. The pattern itself was okay, but the instruction left a bit to be desired to be honest. They reminded me of a photo tutorial without the photos, and I found it irritating that there wasn't a separate layout for the shorts instead it was for the shirt and the shorts together. Why is that irritating I hear you ask, well, because I looked straight for the shorts bit in the instructions and was then confused why the layout wasn't there and why there was no mention of the seam allowances. I did find them eventually in the hoodie section.

Another niggly bit was there was a long description about how to finish the seams for a sensitive child and after reading it I thought they sounded like flat-felled seams, but at no point did it say that and I would have preferred they had said that and then went on to describe it in detail. And don't get me started on the pockets. In short I ended up not using the instructions at all. Instead I used some Simplicity shorts instructions and my own. I think they turned out well.

He likes them and wants another pair, maybe a little shorter though. He also likes his shorts (and pants) to sit on his hips, but I think these are meant to be worn higher and thus have a lot of room in the crotch area, so next time I should probably take 5 cm or so off from the top if that works with the pockets that is. This is how it looks with the shorts properly pulled up (complete with dirt stains from the rugby training).

I do like him in red, it suits him and he is easily picked out in a group :-)

Thursday, 16 August 2012

one ice cream (dress) to go please

After feeling a little discouraged with the amount of time and effort to took to decipher the robe pattern, I reconsidered the amount of money I am willing to spend on paper patterns (very little) and took myself to Peppermint Stitches, the delightful quilting store down the road from me. It's a feel-good store, where I usually spend a lot of time browsing and dreaming. More importantly they sell Oliver + S patterns and I seem to remember other people writing on their blogs (really spell check, you take offence to that word on a blog ?!? would blogi be better ? anyway) about just how lovely their instructions were. So, in short, I paid the 24.95 (even ordering it in the US and having it shipped to Australia wouldn't have made it much cheaper) for the Ice Cream Social dress and carried it proudly home. After spending that much on the pattern, I had to search my remnant pile right away and came up with 2 kinda matching cotton prints from my favourite Spotlight line 'Spots and Stripes'.

It took my 2 days (some 30 odd days less then the robe) and a lot less worrying and stressing and here we have it: the ICE CREAM SOCIAL DRESS. It fits and all (I shortened it a little).

My V's at the collar and on top of the pockets are not as neat as they could be, but in all fairness I might avoid them in the next dress all together. They do add a nice touch, but it was a bit of an effort to get them okay looking (also I used every single scrap of the pink stripey fabric, so I had no do overs).

I also have a little mistake on this side where the pink stripes didn't quite meet seamlessly on the bottom panel, but again, it is very small and hardly noticeable. The instructions were brilliant. I have read the some people found them too wordy, but because everything was spelled out I could work on it in the evening when the kids were asleep without worrying that I was going to miss something really important :-)

Sunday, 12 August 2012

still alive - now with bathrobe :-)

A little over a month ago I had this idea that in order to prepare for my Christmas dress I should probably try to figure out how to read patterns and make something from a commercial big 4 pattern. So,, after some searching through my ever increasing stash (despite all my fabric diets and destashing attempts - gosh, I have no will power) I came up with this - fast AND easy B5724 Butterick - a robe for my son.

And no, not just any robe, I was going to use thick brown flannel and make it a bit like a Jedi robe, you know, the sort that Obi-Wan Kenobi might wear around the house when it's a bit chilly - obviously not on Tatooine, but maybe whilst staying at the temple. So I ordered 3 yards of the flannel from and washed it. After ironing it, it became apparent that it had either not been as wide as it claimed to be or that it shrank quite a lot or a mixture of both, as a result the suggested layout did not work. All of a sudden it looked like just getting a robe out of the 3 yards would be a struggle, never mind the additional hood. I solved the problem by halving the sleeve length and instead of a cuff, we just have a normal hem. He doesn't care, why should I :-)

I did find the instructions at times a struggle, mostly because it was every word counts. Baste, Gather, iron in place, it just took some time to get used to. Also I did the facing differently to the instructions and after a while I only consulted the instructions and instead looked at my husbands store-bought robe to see how they did things (it's lasted 10 years and still going strong, so I took that as a sign of it being well constructed). Here is a close-up of one of the two pockets.

It took a long time for me and I realised that when they say that flannel dulls the needle quickly, they really mean quickly (I went through 5 needles in total). It turned out to be a bit more time consuming and a bit less fast then I thought, but hey, you live and learn. Spring is almost upon us here in Queensland, so soon I shall go back to skirts and tops for me :-)