Wednesday, June 27, 2012

No Birds Were Harmed In The Making Of This....

I was in Lincraft the other week and came across a tv promoting the most intriguing yarn I have seen in a long time.  I stood and watched the entire advertorial and promptly walked out with a ball of said Elecia ruffle yarn. 

By the time I was ready to make up the yarn into my new scarf however, I had forgotten the finer details on the video of actually how to do it.  What luck though, for absent minded people like me, the instructions are written inside the paper tag covering the ball.

This was an extremely quick make, with only 5 stitches per row but it does take a little concentration when knitting to make sure that you are knitting the correct loops and whatever you do, don't drop a stitch like I did because it is almost impossible to find again.

I am not sure why, but the end result reminds me a little of a feather boa.  I wouldn't exactly say it is the warmest scarf to wear with it's fishnet qualities but for decorative value and colour alone, I think it is a winner.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Rocking My World....Well, Not Exactly

I have put off publishing the making of this thermal for almost as long as the actual thought process of getting this made.  The blog God's are so against me publishing this that after I had finished a beautiful post detailing the intricate processes that were involved (not), the entire post disappeared into cyber space, never to be seen again (darn, darn, darn and a few more nasty words).

Anyho, the actual planning of the said thermals began a year ago with some very sad looking thermals that I very begrudingly drag out each winter and promise to replace.  I feel a little like I am cheating when dressed in something blog worthy with these sad rags lurking underneath.  When my aunt gave me some lovely fine merino fabric, last year, I instantly new what it was destined to become.  I don't know the actual composition of this fabric.  It doesn't particularly feel like merino, as it isn't warm to the touch but it is luxurious nonetheless and since I am told it is merino, I have to assume, that is what it is.

I used a favourite tank top as a pattern and proceeded to try out some different finishes with my coverstitch machine.  I have been hankering after a couple of binders for my machine and wanted to see if I could bind my projects neatly without the financial outlay.  For this particular project, I used a double bound finish on the armholes and a small band that I topstitched on my coverstitch machine at the neck.

I am really pleased with how both of the finishes turned out and pleased to report that actually, I don't really need the binders because the finish is neat enough finishing it manually.  I think long term though, I will invest in at least a double fold binder.  So, while this project did not rock my world, it was useful for a little much needed practise on my coverstitch machine and  while the results are not a stunning addition to my wardrobe, it does fit beautifully and more importantly does provide a much needed warm layer at this time of the year.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pavlova and Peas

There was a rather significant birthday in our house this week and last night we hosted a party.  This was to be the last of the kids parties, for my daughter, the non alcoholic kind.  For the party, my daughter had high expectations.  It was not allowed to be lame and her friend with her murder mystery theme a few months back had set the bar high.  My husband had heard a bit of office gossip about a mystery menu party and we presented this idea to my daughter.  She was a little skeptical, not quite sure how her friends would react to eating pavlova with peas and soup without utensils.  The idea is that you make your choices about what you are going to choose at the start of the evening and your choices are made by reading cryptic clues.  You have to solve clues to get even your utensils.  Courteney had 11 guests and some were quite shocked when they realised their evening was starting with a test.  Once the starter came out, they had well and truly got into the spirit of the game and those that had ordered all of their utensils were laughed at just as much as those that had all food and no utensils, not to mention some of the strange food combinations!  The evening ended with the birthday cake above which was created by Courteney herself. For years she has watched me make her cakes but since learning how to make fondant icing from scratch at Christmas, her play dough playing formative years have come back to her and she now enjoys the challenge of creating cakes.  This particular one was obviously a soccer ball, but was draped in a Chelsea football scarf complete with insignia. 

Over the years there have been many cakes created for her

This was the first.  I hired the tin and very ambitiously created two cakes over the course of a weekend while holding down a full time job.  One cake was destined for her birthday party, the second was for preschool.  I hope the staff enjoyed it, because the effort was lost on the preschool kids.  The dress Courteney is wearing in the photo above is also me made.  It was a lovely cream cotton with pink teddy bears printed on it and yes, that is me with the big hair,  blowing out the candles.

Tigger here, was also made with a hire tin.  The black stripes were made of licorice.  This cake was for her third birthday party and when she actually began appreciating her cool cakes.  Incidentally, the dress she is wearing was also made by me.  It is a gorgeous red cotton with white spots and printed bows with a navy cord collar.

For this particular cake Barbie was the sacrificial lamb.  Well, not really, but she did have her clothes and legs removed temporarily for the occasion.  The dress is made using Nana's steam pudding basin and covered in marshmallows....yum!  This particular cake used maximum kid impact for minimal effort.  With two kids under  four years old, I was taking the easy way out!

For her fifth birthday, marshmallows were still part of the theme.  This time I hired a tin again, of course, number 5.  I iced it with pink icing, of course because that is every five year old girls favourite colour and split marshmallows in half and liberally sprinkled the cut side with jelly crystals before assembling them into flowers.  Courteney is shown here with her best friend at the time, her little 2 year old brother.  She is wearing another me made dress.  This one was a printed floral cord pinafore.

We are still going through the whole pink phase here but this time we have miss piggy created with a regular cake tin and a tinned fish can, more marshmallow flowers, some lolly snakes, pebbles and licorice.  This one was really simple but remains one of my favourites.

For this particular party, her 10th, the theme was mid winter Christmas.  She had a friend attending who had Ceoliacs disease so we had a gluten free cake made of meringues to represent a Christmas tree.

For her 13th birthday pink was back in favour but not quite to the extent it used to be.  Once again marshmallow flowers were used but this time with 100's and 1000's.  Can you tell, I love these flowers!  They look effective and are so easy to create.

We are getting much more current here. For her fourteenth birthday we were in chocolate heaven with a gateau with more calories than I care to think about but boy did it taste good!  Which brings us back to last nights cake photo.  I haven't tasted it yet, but I am told it is good.  I will reserve a piece to have with my coffee tomorrow morning when the kids are all back at school.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Have You Ever....

loved the fit and style of a pattern so much that you are compelled to make more?

That is exactly how I feel about Vogue 1247.  The fit is luxuriously spot on, it is very practical to wear and is easy to make up.  I love the little pockets at the front, more for looks than practicality but the piecing also means that it is possible to make this pattern up out of remnants, which is exactly what this fabric is.  As in my last version which I wrote about here, I added quite a bit to the length.  I can't remember exactly how much because I have since drafted this pattern  to a custom fit for my shape i.e size 10 in the waist and size 12 in the hips, plus added the perfect amount of length to sit just above my knees.  The fabric is a beautiful wool suiting in charcoal grey with a fine black pinstripe, flanking a slightly larger red pinstripe.  This wool suiting is beautiful quality and was lovely to work with.  There was just the perfect amount to make this skirt with and virtually nothing left over.  It was part of my op shop fabric haul with I wrote about here.  The piece cost me all of $2 which just adds to the satisfaction value of this skirt. I then added a lining made out of some satin lining from my stash to avoid that itch that wool often comes with, so the total cost of this skirt came to exactly $2, less than a bottle of milk!

 Now, you may think that wool suiting would not be the most easy care fabric but, I beg to differ.  I know, the experts would tell us that wool suiting is dry clean only, but horror of horrors, I throw it in the washing machine on a warm wash and it comes out like new.  Because this is op shop fabric, I like to warm wash it before I make it up, to remove that second hand shop smell things can often get and also to ensure it shrinks before I make it up (unlike my jeans disaster which I wrote about the other day).  It can then be washed as normal with no adverse side effects.....bargain!

Monday, June 18, 2012

A New Scarf

I have rediscovered the joys of knitting after quite a few years.  Perhaps it is because of the unusually cold start to the winter, but I am thoroughly enjoying knitting, whether it be while watching the weather go by out of the window or in front of the television.  Sewing seems to have taken a back seat recently.

My latest make is a black scarf, once again for my daughter.   It is to be used for school.  Her school has a strict uniform policy so it needed to either be green or black.  Since her uniform green is perhaps not the most attractive colour, she chose black. 

The above photo shows my daughter resplendent in her school uniform, modeling her new scarf in a pose that is quite typical of teenagers.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Little Off Piste Action

After our snow adventure on Saturday, my daughter had grand plans for some new snow gear.  She had been perusing the internet and came across these rather fancy and not surprisingly very expensive snow board pants and asked me if I could make them.

Now, I know my sewing skills are pretty good, but as I was to find out, that despite thousands of people flocking to New Zealand ski fields every day at this time of the year, patterns for snow board pants are non existant.  Not to worry, she said, and proceeded to draft up a boys cargo pants pattern from my Topkids magazines.  Now, I am not one to rush into a project, preferring to mull the options over and plan my project in my head.  Not my daughter though, she proceeded to attack the project with all the gusto only a single minded teenager can muster.

Thankfully, on Monday, my daughter returned to school giving me time to ponder the problem.   I decided that the pattern she had drafted was for a teenage boy and we all know that a teenage girl is built rather differently so instead of using a pattern that was shaped all wrong for a girl with hips, I resorted to my favourite trouser pattern, the Jalie jean pattern.  I found some goretex in my stash that I had bought dirt cheap from a lady on Trademe quite a few years ago now, some very thick black microfleece out of my stash, some leftover ripstop from my nappy making days, 3 rescue zips out of some old clothing, and some elastic that my husbands great aunty had given to me. 

I cut the pants out adding 2cm to the rise and 3cm to the side of each panel.  I also changed the leg from a bootleg to a straight leg using the same width at the ankles as the bootleg. I then proceeded to cut the microfleece to match but cut the microfleece lining some 25cm shorter than the goretex.  The ripstop was then cut to line the lower leg and then duplicated to make an elasticated insert for the lower leg as well.   I left off the jean style pockets, preferring instead to make some waterproof zip pockets for cell phones and keys etc.  My daughter had managed to loose my camera under the snow in the park last year, so waterproof zip pockets were a must.

Having cut out all of my pieces, I began sewing the trousers up.  I didn't want to include too much top stitching because the more stitching, the more opportunity for water penetration.  I did however want to make sure that the seams are secure so added one row of topstitching to the inner leg seam and also the back yoke and centre back and front seams.

This project has taken me the best part of four days to complete.  The construction was somewhat of a jigsaw puzzle and gradually came together in my head, so rather than overwhelm myself I made them in stages. 

I cut the pants out on day one.  On day two I sewed up the outer and on day three I attached the waistband and sewed the lining.

By day four I was ready to add the ripstop lower leg pieces and hem the pants.  By day five, I will be ready for a break from sewing.
All jokes aside, while I was always confident in my skills to make these happen, the end result has been far better than I expected.  So much so, I may even make a pair for myself.....sometime in the future though!

Monday, June 11, 2012


I have just made version six of the Jalie jeans pattern.  I was really pleased with the green ones I made last but realised that I must have forgotten to prewash the fabric and they have shrunk.  They are now half mast.  Luckily short jeans are fashionable but that is little comfort when the temperature hovers in single digits.  I like my ankles covered in the snow thank you very much!

For this pair I have used some navy blue moleskin type fabric that is brushed on the outside but doesn't feel quite as thick as regular moleskin.  Nonetheless, they are warm and cosy.  I must say, I have perfected making this pattern and can now run up a pair in a day with minimal fitting and that includes in non stretch fabric like this particular pair.  All I needed to do was add 1.5cm in width to each piece and then fit them later.

In the photos above I am wearing my new jeans at the International Antarctic Centre.  If you look closely at the above picture, you can see a penguin swimming above me, to the right.  They are very cute little critters. These particular penguins are rescue penguins that would not survive in the wild.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sewing For Global Warming

One of the things the scientists promised us, because of global warming, were more temperature extremes and storms.  Last winter was particularly bad, with two large snow storms within a matter of weeks.  This winter is shaping up to be just as extreme with a snow storm to equal what we had last year and a record low daytime temperature of 0.4 deg Celsius on Wednesday.  The kids had a few days off school last week because of the conditions and spent every waking moment indulging in snow activities.  We took the opportunity yesterday to day trip to Porters Pass in the Southern Alps for a spot of tobogganing. 

This is something we have promised the kids for years but the timing has always been off, i.e. snow falling early in the week and melted before the weekend.  This time however, the conditions were perfect and for an hour at least we had the entire side of a hill to ourselves, complete with .5-1m of the white powdery stuff.  You can just about make us out, above, in amongst the tussock, battling our way up the slope in the thick snow.

One thing that has become apparent over the week though, is our complete lack of snow appropriate clothing. Note the  rubber gloves out of my laundry in the photo above.  Aside from not owning waterproof gloves, my son also doesn't own snow boots and I have discovered that gumboots do not cut it in the snow.  Yesterday, I had to wring out his socks at the end of the day.  One thing, I did do right though, is waterproof pants.  These were originally made for my older children when they were school crossing volunteers and had to stand out in all weather to patrol the crossing.  Although, not lined, they have been invaluable this week in keeping my kids, reasonably dry.  Given that snow seems to be a common occurrence now, I feel I really need to be more prepared for this sort of weather.  You can probably guess what is going to be next in my long queue of sewing projects....

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Winter Woollies

This is what happened at breakfast time this morning!  In all fairness the weather man did predict it but I was sceptical to say the June!  It has been too warm and usually we don't get snow until July or August, if at all.  Anyho, I got a txt at 8.15am from my big kids to say school was shut and please pick them up.  Now, my snow driving skills are not good, even though I drive a 4x4, but I did manage to get home without too much drama.  The emergency dental appointment I have scheduled for mid day could be a whole different kettle of fish!

Today, I am wearing a new jumper made using Vogue 8771.  I originally made this pattern as a tee here.  I had this lovely heavy rib wool jersey knit that I picked up from the op shop here and I had visions of a long hooded cardigan coat but since I had hand knitted a similar cardigan, I was wracking my brain for another option.  I had seen a lot of these over sized jumpers on the streets.  We used to call these sloppy joes, in the late 80's.  It was at this point, I had the bright idea to use this pattern.  I made the version with the curved hem and added cuffs instead of the sleeve extension.  I also added a neck band and hemmed using my cover stitch machine.  This is now my new favourite winter jumper.

One I prepared Earlier!

Monday, June 4, 2012

May Wrap Up

Teddy Bear
Fabric $8.00
Pattern free
Total $8.00

Interfacing $8.00
Red Wool $12.00
Pins $3.00
Lining $10.00
Buttons $10.75
Grey Wool $8.00
Pattern $6.00
Total $57.75

Green Jeans
Fabric $16.00
Zip $4.00
Pattern Used Before
Total $20.00

Red Jeans
Fabric $18.00
Zip $4.00
Pattern Used Before
Total $22.00

Stripe Tee
Fabric $20.00
Pattern Used Before
Total $20.00

Ponti Pants
Fabric $16.00
Elastic From Stash
Pattern Used Before
Total $16.00

Grey Cardigan
Wool $80.00
Pattern $7.00
Buttons $10.00
Total $97.00

May Total $240.75