Friday, September 30, 2011

A Walk On The Wild Side.....

or more accurately a walk down to the shop to pick up some milk in my new animal print tee.  The only wild animals you see around these parts are in the local wildlife park and my two older kids are so spotty with chicken pox at the moment, I just might just loose them in the wildlife there.

The pattern I used for this tee is New Look 6648 and I must say, I am very impressed.  I am seeing this type of tee everywhere at the moment.   I finally got to use my new coverstitch machine on this one which actually slowed the process of making the tee down because I hadn't a clue what I was doing, but it was good practice. I made the view that the model is wearing and the only change I made to the pattern is, instead of gathering the band I stretched on some very narrow elastic because I was a little concerned that the gathering stitch might break because of the knit fabric.  This was most successful so I think next time I will do the same thing.  I am quite keen now to have a go at the other 3 views in the pattern and will make the same view again, although next time I think I will make the armhole and neck slightly smaller for practicality reasons.  I really need to wear a camisole underneath because the armhole gapes a bit but it looks and feels great on.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Waiting For It To Rain!

Okay, not really but when it does I now have the perfect jacket for the job.  My lack of a jacket that is actually waterproof but is not going to make me pass out with heat exhaustion was made obvious when on holiday in Queensland earlier in the year.  The jacket I took with me which had served it's purpose in the Christchurch rain proved to be woefully inadequate after 5 mins in a tropical downpour.  We obviously stood out as Kiwis because we were actually wearing jackets, because it appears that Queenslanders would rather just get soaked to the skin and let the sun do it's job on it's return.  Soggy clothing just isn't my bag so I made my mind up then and there to replace my sad excuse for a rain coat. 

 The fabric I chose was a gortex fabric similar to what my winter Kathmandu jacket is made of .  I bought a couple of shopping bag loads of the stuff from a lady through Trademe, 7 or so years ago, to make nappy covers for my youngest child.  She had pieces cut to 1-2 metre lengths and said it was what was used to make wet weather clothing for the police force....well that explains the blue but not the 4 or so other colours I also had in my stash. The fabric I chose is fantastic and too good to make into swimming bags even though I think it would do a fantastic job.  It is a really nice weight, and purple which I am quite partial to as a clothing colour at the moment and has a breathable rubber laminate backing.  I used a lot of the non laminate variety for waterproof pants for the snow for the kids and it also made fantastic overalls for my youngest when he used to play outside in the winter. 

I was a little worried about how my overlocker and sewing machine would take to the rubber backing but found, even on my commercial overlocker, that if I sewed slowly enough the feed dogs did not rip up the rubber.  The pattern I used was Simplicity 2153, which is part of the northern hemisphere autumn collection so I had to buy it online.  It wasn't designed to be lined but I was a little concerned that the rubber would get damaged so found some leftover taffeta lining in my stash to protect the rubber surface without adding extra thickness and therefore make the jacket any warmer than it needed to be.  I also needed the jacket to pack up small for daytrips and holidays.

I really like the style of this jacket as, unlike traditional outdoor wear, this jacket will function as a hiking jacket but also look stylish enough to wear with a skirt if need be.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Garment Bling

It is another slow week on the sewing front.  You see I don't have the place to myself this week.  I have my older two kids home with chicken pox now.  Fortunately once this week is over, so should chicken pox in my house be forever.  My older son is quite sick, a lot more so than his younger brother and my daughter has just come down with it as well.  Because they are older they look after themselves but I have really had enough of the Disney Chanel to last me a lifetime.  I will have to make a pharmacy run later on this morning to stock up on panadol and throaties but other than that they really aren't too much trouble.

The tunic dress above was made using Simplicity 3842.  The attached camisole is a bit on the plunging side for my liking so I am wearing it here with another camisole underneath.  The fabric is a charcoal grey synthetic knit with a sparkly print.  I usually stay away from sparkly fabrics as I really am not a blingy person but this fabric was given to me by my mother so just had to be made up.  Now all I need is some weather to wear it!

My cover stitch machine arrived yesterday.  I got it out of it's packaging but as yet haven't had a chance to play.  I really want to complete my current project first as I fear if I put it aside it may get consigned to ufo status and we can't have that can we!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Encouraging Creativity

My daughter has been taking clothing and textiles at school for the last couple of years.  She gets very frustrated with the projects her middle aged teachers get her to complete and the time it takes to complete relatively simple projects.  Courtz has been wanting to make a sweatshirt for quite some time now, but until recently it would have involved too much intervention from myself which often results in frustration for both of us.  After school on Friday we visited the fabric shop and she chose her fabric and yesterday we both cut it out based on a rtw sweatshirt she loves the fit of and her brothers school sweat she liked the fit of the neck of.  The applique on the front was based on a popular brand she likes and the fabric is a remnant I have had in my stash since she was little, bought to trim some toddler overalls with and never used.  She left the applique with a raw edge to weather in a style that is popular in rtw clothing.  She took her time and overlocked all of the seams and topstitched them down as well.   She is very pleased with the results, claiming it is her biggest success yet, although I beg to differ as I am pretty pleased with the beautiful appliqued bag she made me for Christmas.  Courtz cannot believe that something that would take her a whole term in class, actually only took a few hours to complete at home.  I wouldn't mind betting we make another visit to the fabric shop this week for more fabric for another sweat. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011


I love this time of the year.  The colours of nature are so vibrant and everything looks green and lush.  Unlike summer in these parts where everything tends to get brown and dry.  The photos above have been taken in my garden.  It is very much a spring garden and unfortunately it doesn't stay this colourful for long.  As soon as the hot northwest winds blow through that is the end of the blossom and often the rhodos and camelias as well. 

Even when the fickle spring weather turns cold and wet, spring is never far from my mind with views out the window like this,
and this!

Spring to me also signals the beginning of salad season.   There is nothing better at this time of the year than to crank up the barbeque and pick some fresh salad greens  for a meal outdoors. 

I have been spending my time lately getting my garden ready for outdoor living season, planting seeds, fertilising  and pulling weeds.  My salads below are coming along nicely as is the weather to enjoy them. 

Whatever the weather is doing where you are, have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Asymmetrical Skirt

This skirt is a couple of years old now but still has it's uses on spring days that come with a biting easterly wind. 

I used Burda 8281 for the pattern and spliced it so I could use the natural shagginess of the fabric selvedge as a decorative element along the hem.  Today I am wearing the skirt with a Max leather/elastic belt, Logan checked shirt, Kathmandu long sleeve tee and leather boots by Grace Hill for Ezibuy.  It may look a little wintery for a spring day but rest assured I have ditched the tights and everything resembling wool so yes, this is a spring incarnation of a winter outfit.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Seeing Spots....

With the spotty child returning to school this week, I have taken the opportunity to catch up on a few jobs that I did not get time to do with a sick child in the house.  I am well aware that next week one of my other kids will probably be home with the same affliction so ticking off a few things on my to do list is a must. 

Sewing has been shelved to some degree for this reason and also because I am still awaiting the arrival of my cover stitch machine.  I have been using this time to do a little research into what I need in the way of feet.  I have discovered that I will need a binder and have been looking into where is the best place to source these from.  I have read that generic and cheaper binders can be bought from ebay but I really need to know exactly what to buy first.

While I wait for my cover stitch machine I did manage to whip up another tote bag using some upholstery samples I had here.    I really think I have seen one too many spots in the last week!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Resisting The Urge....

On Friday I was really naughty and bought myself a new machine.  This is my new baby:

I sew a lot of knits so convinced myself that my garments would look so much more professional with the addition of a coverstitch machine.  I hope I am correct.  Anyho, it hasn't arrived yet so I am resisting the urge to make anymore knits until it does arrive. 

The last two weekends have been spent on spring cleanup in the garden.  It is hard and dirty work so high fashion is shelved in favour of casual attire.

The pants I am wearing above are denim and were originally in a gaucho style.  Rather than throw them out, as they were nearly new, I ran the legs in and turned them into a slim fit pair of 3/4 jeans.  I tend to wear this style of pants a lot at this time of year because they offer protection from the cold easterly winds while being more spring like.

The top I am wearing was based on a Marilyn Seyb tunic that I love.  The original is made in a loose weave black knit with a knit undertop and reaches mid thigh.  My version above was made using Simplicity 4539.  I used a black and white striped cotton lycra.  On one side I have gathered the side seam with black fold over elastic.  The armholes are also edged with the same black fold over elastic.  It has a cowl neck and is a great trans-seasonal garment worn with either a short sleeve or long sleeve tee.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Last Saturday Night....

we were invited to a 40th birthday party.  It was to be in a marquee on a lifestyle block.   Now, what to wear....I didn't want to dress too casual, but given it is spring and the nights are still quite cold and the venue was a marquee, the last thing I wanted to be was cold.  I was the nominated driver so warming myself up from the inside was not going to be the answer.  Given it is spring, I also didn't want to turn up in all my winter woollies.  I decided that this skirt and top combo was my answer (along with the wool jacket I put in the car just in case).  The weather gods however were smiling on me and I really didn't need all of my layers. 

The blouse I blogged about here.  The skirt was made using NewLook 6345.  This is the same pattern I used to make my pencil skirt here.  This time however I added two pleats to the front and two pleats to the back.  The fabric is a mystery camo green linen fabric remnant that my mother gave to me.  I added slant pockets to the skirt and large belt tabs.

With the skirt and blouse combo I added my new grey leather boots and grey tights plus the beautiful glass necklace I won on The House That AM Built (see AM if you are lerking I put it to good use). 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

So yesterday was my birthday....

My daughter made me and my husband who was having a birthday as well, this decadent chocolate cake.  The kids went shopping and bought me a present without any involvement from my husband and I.  You really appreciate how quickly they are growing up when they begin to take charge and do things without parental involvement.  I spent the day in my jeans, tee and jandals.  I drank coffee and read magazines, did a bit of sewing and let the house go to rack and ruin for the day.  The spotty one is still spotty so we are still in quarantine which mean't no fancy meals out but actually I didn't mind a bit. 

Today though, all of those jobs I ignored yesterday are waiting for me, as is the rest of the chocolate cake in the it time for coffee yet?

P.S. I have just reread this post after publishing it and somewhere along the way a paragraph disappeared into cyberspace, bummer!  Anyho,  the above shows what the postperson delivered to me yesterday...a present from me to me!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Today was one of those days, that there didn't seem to be enough hours in.  I had a list as long as my arm to accomplish.  I had to bake for an office shout for tomorrow, get groceries, washing, squeeze in some home administration, play taxi to my daughter, finish a tee also for my daughter and all the while nursing a still sick spotty child for whom the novelty of not going to school is wearing off rapidly.  The poor child missed a swimming lesson today as well as the birthday party of a close friend.  By this evening he was feeling very sorry for himself indeed which made it all the more amazing that I achieved everything I set out to today. 

Since I was forced into relative solitude today, my clothing is suitably casual.  I am wearing the yoga pants I blogged about here and a cotton lycra baby pink and black batwing tee that I self drafted and  made last year.  It is a little less casual than a regular tee so does double duty with skirts, trackies, shorts and jeans alike.  

My backdrop today is a plum tree in my back yard that broke into blossom this morning.  I hope the wind stays away so that I can enjoy it for a few days.

The red and grey striped tee above is the one I managed to squeeze into my hectic schedule today and another Jalie tee using the same pattern as yesterday.  This is the tee I promised my daughter.  She is really pleased with it but could not be co-ersed into posing for the camera in it...oh well...that is teenagers for you!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Stripes and Spots...

You may remember a few months back, I had a splurge on online patterns.  I was particularly impressed with Jalie Jeans which I am wearing in the form of cargo pants above.  Well, this weekend I finally got round to making Jalie 2806 which was also part of my large pattern haul.  I thought I would try it out on some bargain knit fabric that I picked up for $3 per metre.  I commented a few days ago that my wardrobe lacked colour so this fabric certainly livens things up a bit.  I made up size T which is the same size as the jeans and I have to say the sizing is spot on.  This is a very versatile pattern and as I wear a lot of tees in the warmer months I can see this pattern getting a lot of use.  My daughter now has her eye on some striped knit in my stash and requested I make her one next.    As the fabric she has chosen is also red, I will do this before I change the thread in my overlocker as this is one of my pet hates with my commercial machine. 

My youngest is home from school this week with chicken pox so I could be a little over red by the end of the week.   It's a good thing really that I am sewing stripes and not spots!

Friday, September 9, 2011

A little sewing inspiration for a Friday....

Ok, not all sewing inspiration, but I will get to that later!

Isn't she a beauty though?  My 1894 singer coffin top sits in my front foyer and is always a conversation generator.  I purchased her a few years ago, locally, after my sister imported a similar one, from USA.  I haven't actually sewn with it but it is in full working order and is complete with a box of needles and spare bobbins, although not at all like what we use now.  I often wonder about the history of my machine.  Who owned it?  What did they make on it?  I imagine it was a fairly wealthy woman who would own a machine quite this ornate, with the delicate carving on the woodwork and sphinx detail on the machine.  How long did the dresses take to create, I am sure, not a day or two like most of my own.  The coffin top models were earlier models than the drop down models.  I always remember my grandmother making the most beautiful wedding dresses on her singer drop down model which she had converted from treddle to electric.  Until her later years my grandmother used this machine on a daily basis.  It was really only in her retirement years that she upgraded to a modern machine.

I had a little scout around on google to see what the well dressed ladies in 1894 New Zealand were wearing and immediately came upon the last photo which is of the 1894 Canterbury Football team (at least we know what they were wearing).  This was quite ironic given that today New Zealand will host the biggest party this country has seen in 24 years.  At 5pm tonight, New Zealanders from all around the country will be glued to the televisions, if not packed into the stadium in Auckland, for the opening of the Rugby World Cup.  My family are all included.  They like many Christchurch residents feel a little like the sick kid that is missing the party because we were stripped of our hosting rights, including semi finals due to our recently completed stadium being written off in the February earthquake.  It is a little hard to host anything other than a camping holiday without the stadium and majority of large hotels which are either on the demolition list or stuck behind the red zone cordon.  Although being part of the hype and cultural melting pot of all of these countries coming together, would have been a great experience for my kids, I am not complaining too much.  While I love watching my kids play sport, a whole month dedicated to uninterupted sewing can't be bad, can it?

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Yesterday I finished the dress, shown in my previous post. 

This dress was originally inspired by the fantastic suede one in the April Burda magazine and the reason I actually bought the magazine but when I looked a little closer I realised that actually the pattern had too many seams to be made in such a busy fabric.  Enter a pattern clearance at my favourite fabric shop, and hello, Simplicity 4190 practically jumped off the table and begged me to buy it.  Now, this pattern is not without its issues.  The sizing is good but it is really designed for someone without any shape, and that is not me.  I knew the sack look was less than flattering on my sway back so I added some darts at the back which improved the shape dramatically and nipped it in slightly at the waist as well.  At this point I wasn't sure what to do with the sleeves.  My original inspiration was for sleeveless but, I wanted to wear this as a casual spring dress not a summer dress so sleeves are essential.  I whipped onto and browsed some ready to wear dresses.  I found the perfect dress with tab sleeves and knew that this was the direction I wanted to go. 

I am rather pleased with the final result and wasted no time in trying the dress on. 

Please excuse the lilly white legs!  I think I need to invest in some fake tan before I get them out again!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Last spring while I was watching my daughter play soccer, I spied a lady wearing  a tunic that caught my eye.  Like many dressmakers in a similar situation, a lightbulb went off in my head and I thought, "I can make that".  I dug out Simplicity 4539 from yesterdays post and redrafted it to come up with the tunic in todays post.  It is made of a rib knit and an old unused belt from my wardrobe was sacrificed to make the tie detail at the back. 

The photograph today, shows me mid production of my latest creation, a dress for this space for more details!

Monday, September 5, 2011

As September progresses, the weather seems to get warmer by the day.  It is nice to go through my lighter clothing and dust off some of last years favourites.  One such favourite is the tee I am wearing today.

The top is red knit with a self spot pattern and based on both patterns shown above with a little self drafting thrown in for good measure.   I like the fit of Simplicity 4539 and the neck band of the other pattern so I combined both and added a band at the bottom for a little modern edge plus and overlay sort of kangaroo pocket that is attached at the neck and hip band only.  This proved to be one of my favourite tops last summer and the fabric is sufficient quality that it is still looking as good as the day it was made. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

All it took was 70 seconds and the lives of 400,000 people were changed forever.  In an instant we all had one thing in common, we were fearing for our lives.  At 4.35am on Saturday 4 September 2010, our city was hit by the most devastating earthquake in the history of the city, at 7.1.  Most of it's residents were not even aware of the sleeping giant that lay below our feet and a whole generation of children had never even felt an earthquake of any magnatude let alone one that threatened their young lives.  The shaking destroyed homes and buildings and threw people and belongings on the ground.  As we scrambled around in the dark in our damaged and cracked homes, we were blissfully unaware of the horror and devastation that was to become the reality of the next twelve months.  The previous day I had picked some beautiful daffodils from my garden and arranged them in a vase.  They were a symbol of warmth and anticipation that only spring can bring.  Along with the rest of the damage, I mopped up the water that had poured all over my husbands computer and all over the carpet and picked up the miraculously unbroken vase and threw the flowers in the bin.  I no longer wanted to see the flowers, they held new meaning.  Since that day we have endured 8,500 aftershocks, some big, some small.  We have invented a strange new game called guess the magnitude and depth and location.  We have all become experts at this game.  We no longer wake up in the night for anything less than a 4.5 magnitude and don't run for safety unless it goes over 5.0 magnitude.  Everyone including preschoolers know about liquifaction and we all know the difference between s waves and p waves.

Just as they have in the past, my daffodils in the garden are looking a picture in the spring sun.  The difference is, this year I can't bear to pick the daffodils.  I am not a superstitious person, but they will not be coming inside, the wounds are still to raw.  I still admire them, but they remain a reminder of what has been.  It was fitting that today was Fathers Day, a chance to spend time as a family, enjoying each others company.  As I write this we have just had a sizeable aftershock, enough to stop me in my tracks, yet another reminder that this is not yet over.  Over the last twelve months we have learn't a lot about earthquakes but more importantly we have learn't a lot about what is important and that is the people that are close to us, nothing else really matters.