Friday, July 29, 2011

A Walk In The Park...
Today was officially the kids last day of school holidays today. It was a beautiful day, 16 deg celcius, so we took the dog for a walk in the park. The snow had all but gone but some patches remain in the shady areas. It was a strange thing to see my son running around in a tee shirt and snow on the ground but then mother nature has done some strange things in this city of late.
Today I am wearing a skirt I made using a cotton woven with a raised velour type stripe in white and black. I have trimmed it in black ricrac for interest. This is the first skirt I made using Burda 8281. I made this skirt without a waistband, instead making a facing because I find them more comfortable to wear this way.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Quick Update...
Well the snow has all but gone, apart from the mound of snow that was formerly the igloo. After a northwest wind and 16 degree day yesterday, all that is left is dripping and soggy. Tuesday was a very pretty day with the sky blue and the sun shining so we took the dog for a walk in the snow blanketed park. The pond had frozen over, much to the dogs confusion and kids amazement. Lots of snowballs were thrown. I am sure those two days will be remembered by my kids for the rest of their lives. Sometimes, the simplest pleasures are the ones we remember the most. These two days of the holidays cost me nothing but the kids will be the first to say that they were the best days of the school holidays.
Today, my oldest boy has returned to school for two intense days of production rehersals. He was this morning, quite a sad little figure striding off down the street. His holiday has ended and it will be another 9 weeks before he will get another. I am sure we will find him some new adventure next holiday break.
Sewing has been put on the back burner over the last couple of weeks although I have managed to squeeze in a couple of cushion covers for my family room. Because of the sewing drought I thought I would show you a jacket I made last winter using Simplicity 2858 which is a Project Runway pattern. I made it up to size 12 after comparing measurements but if I made it again which I think I will, I will make a size 10. Because I ususally wear it with a merino underneath it really isn't that noticeable that it is a bit loose. I particularly like the sleeves on this jacket and the raglan sleeves make a pleasant change. I made it up in a houndstooth fabric and lined it. I added some ricrac around the bottom in black just to give it a lift.
I have been reading a lot of good reviews on Jalie patterns. I like their basic designs as tees and sweats I wear a lot, so I knew I would get a lot of use out of these patterns. I have bitten the bullet and ordered a jeans, tee and hoody jacket pattern as well as a Simplicity anorak pattern from the new autumn collection that isn't yet available here. I have some very nice goretex to make the anorak up in and unlike my current rain coat this fabric will actually keep out water. My patterns left yesterday, so I am counting down the days until they arrive.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Icing On The Quake........
As predicted it snowed last night. It began at dusk and continued all night. This morning we awoke to 16cm of snow which is the most snow we have had in 20 years. It is fantastic soft dry powder snow as well which my kids have never seen. We usually get that horrible wet snow that the kids get wet in in about 5 minutes and I spend the rest of the day drying their clothes. Today both boys are wearing waterproof trousers made of goretex I picked up in bulk a few years ago. They don't come out often but boy were they a lifesaver today. The kids were out playing at 7am this morning and still haven't all made it inside. What fun to be had boogie boarding down the hills in the park with their mates and building a snow man and igloo with Dad. Paid work has been put on hold today due to the weather conditions and dangers on the road. It is pretty but very cold. I spent most of the day watching from the warmth of indoors but did venture out for a walk to the park and a snowball fight in the back yard and of course to be official photographer.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Very Cold Weekend Without Any Sport......
Because it is the middle weekend of the school holidays and the kids have no sport I thought it was the ideal time to start another reupholstery project. It is freezing cold here and today, it is trying hard to snow but as yet not settled on the ground...much to the kids disgust! I must admit, if it has to be this cold it may as well snow. We don't get snow very often, maybe one day in every two to three years. My sister moved to Dunedin after 11 years in Melbourne in January last year with her 4 children who had never seen snow. Until today they had not seen snow in New Zealand either so today was very exciting for them, and it is coming this way! Anyway, I digress! .
Since my husband was also stuck inside the house I was able to rope him into the project as well, a good thing since I struggle to operate the staple gun...creativity is a strength of mine, not brute force! I bought this chair on Trademe nearly a year ago now. It is a very good quality chair as I found out when deconstructing it but it had a couple of bleach stains on the cover and wasn't my colour at all, but it is super comfy and looks good at my desk which is also one of my upcycling projects picked up on Trademe (if I find a picture of it before I will put it up).
I am really pleased with the final result. I love the red and it matches the painting on the wall which is another creation of mine. I must admit other than sewing the piping and shaping on the cushion, I was really only quality control on this one and my husband can take the rest of the credit...didn't he do well!

Friday, July 22, 2011

I seem to have a lot of leftovers in my stash which I can't bear to part with but are taking up valuable space. What better way to use some of them up than tote bags. I actually had a lot of this beautiful pink, green and yellow floral fabric but sadly it is a little too bright for me to wear so it was just screaming out to be made into a bag. The bag is lined in a contrasting stripe with a floral cell phone pocket. It has a padded lining so it stands unaided and a magnetic snap closure. A lovely bright bag to brighten up an otherwise dull time of the year.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Here in New Zealand it is school holiday time which means not a lot of time for sewing. I don't mind though as with my children growing rapidly and developing their own interests, I realise that the time I have left with them is limited and I need to make every holiday break count.
Every winter when it is cold, we try to make a trip to Hanmer Springs. It is nice to sit in a cafe, in front of a roaring fire when the snow is fluttering outside the window. Hanmer Springs is mostly famous for its thermal hot springs so we spend a lot of time soaking in the hot water and gazing at the snow capped mountains. This trip was not so much about the snow as the winter thus far has been very mild, so a picnic of fish and chips was more the order of the day but it was still gorgeous looking at the snowing caps on the mountains and spending time with the kids.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Perfect Pants
I gave up making trousers or shorts for myself quite a few years ago now because even though I can buy trousers or jeans off the rack rather easily, making them from a pattern was altogether another option. For some reason every pattern I tried did not fit how I liked and I am a very picky pants wearer. So after seeing some great results in other blogs my interest was renewed. I bought the above Vogue pattern a few weeks ago and finally decided to make a trial pair or a muslin as it seems to be called in blog land. I measured myself and decided I needed to make a size 16 based on my measurements but because I am usually between an 8-10 in store bought clothes and the size 16 pieces looked massive for my small frame I came to the conclusion that I would cut the pattern to a size 14. I had some cotton duck in my stash that would make a perfect muslin so began cutting. I was very careful to keep the seam allowances to the required 1.5cm and even went to the trouble of putting in the zip perfectly and stitching on the pockets. The one thing I really detest about making trousers is fitting them on myself. Tops and dresses are easy now that I have my dress form but unfortunately trousers still have to be fitted to the real thing. When I tried the final product on, I discovered that they were massive. No amount of running in would make them fit correctly. I would need to take at least 4cm off each side and they sat at my waistline without the large waistband. I could actually take the pants off without undoing the zip....not a good sign! Since the smallest size my pattern came in was a size 12 I whipped the zip out of my fail muslin and set about creating a smaller one in size 12. This time I reduced the rise at the front by 3cm and increased the rise at the back by 3cm. Because I have a sway back I had to allow for this as well. Now I was getting somewhere! But for close fitting pants they were still quite loose in the seat so I needed to run in the inner leg as well by quite a bit. This time around, I wasn't fussy with my zip, and didn't bother overlocking the seams...afterall when complete I will unpull them and use them for a pattern for my final pants. The original fit of my second muslin would have made fantastic shorts but because the object of this exercise is to make some close fitting cargo pants or jeans they needed to be a snug fit everywhere. Finally I ended up with a fit that is not only comfortable but looks good as well. The next step is to go to my local newspaper office and buy a reel end of paper to draft up my final pattern and to buy the perfect fabric.

Friday, July 15, 2011

On my Soapbox or is that Soupbox!
I was watching the news yesterday and much was made of the cost of food especially fresh fruit and vegetables. Families saying they live on junk because they can't afford to buy fresh fruit and vegetables for their kids. While I can understand that $15kg for tomatoes is ridiculous, but this is just because all of our tomatoes in winter come from Queensland and we all know how the growers their have been hit with floods recently. My reaction to these prices is just walk on by. I don't need tomatoes in my sandwiches in winter any more than I need a green salad. New Zealanders seem to have forgotten how to eat in season. My family eat cabbage, carrots, cauliflour, celery, pumpkin, apples etc at this time of the year and leave the expensive imported product on the shelves. I also find lots of other ways to get fruit and vegetables into our diet using frozen vegetables and canned tomatoes. You can't go past canned tomatoes, they are as cheap as chips.
One of my favorite ways to get more fruit into our diet is muffins which I made yesterday using jam made from plums my kids collected at the local park in the summer. They had so much fun climbing through the fallen tree branch and picking and eating the beautiful organic produce and bringing it home to me to make into jam. These muffins are just vanilla with a little surprise plum jam hit in the middle...with a hot coffee and a dusting of icing sugar and fresh from the oven...yum!
Pumpkin is another thing I stock up on when they are cheap in the autumn. We store them in the garden shed where it is nice and cool. Unfortunately my yard is not big enough to grow crops as large as pumpkins so these we buy in. Sunday roast is not the same without pumpkin in my opinion. One of my favorite things to do with pumpkin is Thai pumpkin soup. It is cheap as chips to make and makes a tasty and nourishing meal in the cold of winter. One of the current All Blacks wives put me onto this soup. She gets hers from a local deli when her husband is away, which is a lot! I found the recipe online adapted it to my taste and have been hooked ever since. Thursday night is a big sporting training night in my house so pumpkin soup was just what the doctor/mum ordered after the sporting members of the household had run around the park in the cold. It also has the advantage that when meal times are split as last night was in our house, it is easy to keep warm throughout the meal time shifts.
Jamy Muffins
2 1/4c self raising flour
1/2c sugar
1 egg lightly beaten
3/4c milk
1t vanilla essence
100g melted butter/melted table spread
2T golden syrup
6T Jam of your choice
Mix all ingredients except jam together. Spray trays and spoon half the mixture into muffin trays. Put 1t jam into the middle of each muffin and cover with remaining mixture. Bake approx 15mins 180 deg C or until a knife comes out clean. Makes 12.
Thai Pumpkin Soup
1 medium onion
1 t green curry paste
2 large cups chicken stock
1 carrot
1/2 kg peeled and seeded pumpkin
1 medium potato
200mls coconut cream
1T fish Sauce
Cook chopped onion with oil, add curry paste and cook 2-3 minutes. Cook vegetables in stock until soft, put through a blender, add coconut cream and fish sauce, heat and serve. Serves 4

Thursday, July 14, 2011

As promised.....
I have posted a photo of the ugly suit. I have had this sitting around for the last month and it has been a slow process due to the fabric being so horrible to work with. It is mustard coloured and made of upholstery fabric. It was really hard to get motivated on this one but it is done and finally out of my hair.
Also this week, I finally had a clean out of my two large scraps bins which were taking up space. I managed, by having a throw out, to condense it down to one and a bit bins. I had some left over PUL from my nappy making business days and decided to use it up on dolls nappies. This used to be my daughters project. She used to make and sell them for pocket money but lost interest so I made some up myself.
The rest of this week has been spent on catch up jobs. This is the last week of a very long term for my kids so for the next couple of weeks, I will not get much sewing done at all. My husband is also on holiday next week so we will be having some family time.

Monday, July 11, 2011

How was your weekend?
Saturday as usual involved the usual round of rugby and soccer in the morning, a little sewing in the afternoon followed by some serious Crusaders versus Reds rugby on Saturday night. On Sunday I managed to fit in a walk in the sun, a little baking with my youngest and finally finished the ugly suit...yah! The ugly suit is a hideous costume I have made for my sons schools production. It is made of furnishing fabric and frayed like you wouldn't believe. I will try to get a photo of it tomorrow before it is out of my hair for good. I also finished a dice that my teenage daughter requested for her room. What she intends to do with it I have no idea but I suspect someone else has already claimed it!
Today I had my son's parent teacher interviews and wore my new top. I have a love hate relationship with this pattern. It is the same pattern I used for the dress last month. Because the neck was a little revealing for my liking I added 4cm to the width of the neck and reduced the bodice length by 1.5cm because I felt it sat a little low. I also took 1.5cm out at the back neck because the neck opening was a little wide and added a little to the hips to make it a little less fitting. To add a little detail I ran a strip of elastic up each sleeve on the inside for a gathered look. The only thing I am a little disappointed in is the fabric which I think might pull badly.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Chair Up......
When I was looking for the perfect reading/tv watching chair for the corner of my bedroom I went through a phase of buying and upcycling them. Finding the perfect comfortable and stylish bedroom chair actually is more difficult than it sounds. The first chair was a horrid rusted up 1960s vinyl lip chair that with a can of spray paint and some gorgeous fabric turned from trash to treasure. I loved the look of this chair but sadly it was too small and not comfortable enough for the space. I then stumbled upon an estate sale and for $30 picked up some also 1960's Don style chairs. These just needed some funky fabric and a coat of polyurethane. I don't have a before photo but the fabric was hideous and they had greasy head marks on them....yuk. While these chairs looked stunning when finished and because they reclined were really comfortable, I still felt that were not quite right for the space, perhaps a little too eclectic for our space, so I sold these on as well. The last chair I bought was a wing chair with fantastic lines but loose covered in a hideous pink linen which I detested. Armed with my unpicker, I pulled the loose cover apart and used it for the pattern for the new cover which is a beige and white textured upholstery fabric. The best thing about the cover is, if I get sick of it or it gets dirty I just whip it off and put a new one on. Since then I have also slip covered a reading chair for my daughters room and now have my blogging chair to slip cover as well. Watch this space.....

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Yesterday my dad turned 70 so rather than indulging my creative side, my mum and dad, sister, neice and daughter went out for lunch. My father isn't one for a fuss so lunch out was the perfect way for him to celebrate 70 years.
I was asked yesterday to show the back of the vest I made out of leftovers, so here it is. I didn't have time for my son to photograph me this morning because our fur child, Zero, was due at the vet early for a kidney stone operation.
I am starting to think about my next project. I still have some winter fabric I have picked up in my travels but at this stage I am lacking in inspiration. With the weather being unseasonably warm, I am wondering if perhaps spring this year may come early. In this neck of the woods spring can often come in August which is only a few weeks away. Other than a few frosty mornings winter has not really arrived yet so perhaps this year we may be lucky which is very good news for those poor people in our city who have homes that are badly damaged from all of our earthquakes.
I thought I might have a go at this Vogue jeans pattern by alice + olivia. I think I will try this out in some cotton duck first because I lay the pattern on my favourite pants and the fit is quite different. I like the way these pants sit below the waist as this is how I prefer my pants but not so low as to encourage muffin top which I detest with a passion. When I opened up the pattern though I note that there is a seam half way down the leg which is very odd and something I can't see myself doing. I like the pair with a wide shaped waist band as I have a store bought pair like this and they are very flattering to wear.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Remember yesterday, when I said I had a project made with the leftovers of yesterdays tunic and last weeks boiled wool vest? Well, here it is! I have had this piece of fabric sitting on my sewing table waiting for inspiration for about a month. Over the weekend I had a lightbulb moment and another vest was born. I didn't have enough of the beige boucle to make the vest long enough so added a strip of black boiled wool to the bottom. For a more casual look I added a hood but because I didn't have quite enough fabric for the hood, I added a strip of the black wool down the back of the hood. I added the zip to tie the black wool to the boucle and top stitched it on instead of setting it in for a change. The zip was rescued from an old vest that had been tossed out and just happened to be the perfect fit for the vest. I couldn't find a suitable pattern for the vest so this is a self draft based on the shape of the boiled wool vest which I love. I am rather pleased with the end result. I now have a space in my lefovers pile and best of all it cost me nothing.....can't ask for better than that!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Another frosty morning this morning turned the footpaths on our way to school this morning into a skating rink. My fantastic 7 year old photographer took this photo this morning before we left for school. When he saw I was wearing something different today he said "wait I will get the camera and take your photo" I asked him whether I should wear black or brown boots and he suggested that since I was wearing a brown belt, that brown would look best....I think I have created a monster! Today I am dressing for a low of -1 deg and a high of 14 deg c, although when this photo was taken we had reached the dizzying heights of 1.6deg c. Hence after this photo was taken, I grabbed a puffer jacket for the walk to school.
Today I am wearing a wool blend knit tunic mad using a Simplicity pattern I think, but I can't say which one because I must have lent it to someone. I have turned my sewing stash upside down and it eludes me at present which is most annoying. This was made last winter but I have rather tired of it so it doesn't see the light of day much anymore. I have teamed it today with a white merino skivvy made of a remnant from my stash and which I drafted off a store bought one. I dug out the tunic today because I am partway through a new project using the leftovers from this tunic and the boiled wool vest I photographed last week. Watch this space....

Friday, July 1, 2011

What goes around comes around......
I made this jersey well before my daughter was born, probably in the early 90's. Most of my earlier knitting projects have been upcycled but because of the detail and work that went into this one, I just couldn't bear to pull it to bits. It is made of 100% wool crepe and extremely warm. I have dressed it up with a scarf knitted also by me in feathers. My 7 year old and I rushed outside this morning to take this photo in the garden before he went to school (he is the last one to leave). It is so cold here this morning -2deg c, you can see the frost on the ground. I made the mistake of leaving my boots outside last night so my toes are freezing here. We took one photo and rushed inside to get puffa jackets and gloves and some warm boots to walk to school
Today my oldest son is playing his second football game for his school. On Saturdays he plays club rugby but because his school doesn't have a rugby team this year, he thought he would give soccer (my kids growl at me for calling it that, it should be football) a go. He isn't bad, because he is a natural sportsman but it certainly is funny watching him attempt a completely different game. This afternoon, when the day warms up a little, me and my 90's jersey will be watching him play soccer/football. I imagine it will be side splittingly funny like his first game. Please don't think I am a bad mother because actually I am laughing with him and not at him!