Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Take Two

After the last success with this style of dress in striped fabric, I was keen to make a summer version.  I have had this gorgeous piece of cotton lycra in my stash for a couple of months.  I love this fabric so was a little scared about cutting into it.  Whatever I made out of it, it had to be a success. 

Once again, I used New Look 6071. I really like the mock wrap of this dress and the way the neckline sits neatly and is not too revealing.  Perfect for busy Mum activities.

My original plan was to have a short sleeved version but after cutting out my bodice pieces, I realised that the stripes did not line up so I ended up using the fabric allocated to the sleeves for the new bodice pieces.  Instead I added a band cut in the opposite direction and just over locked to the arm opening and top stitched.  I actually like this look better.  Striped sleeves may well have overwhelmed this dress.

This is how I wore this dress on Monday to walk the dog to the shops, cheer my son on at Touch Rugby, and an evening swim meet.

I particularly like knit dresses.  They are just like my favourite comfy tee and can be dressed up and down as the occasion demands.  With flats, this dress took me everywhere I needed to be in comfort on Monday.  With a pair of heels, I would have felt equally at home in a restaurant or bar.  In my quest to inject more colour in my wardrobe I think I may have set the bar high with this dress.  I can't begin to imagine a dress more cheerful.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Right...I'm Ready!

Bring on the heat!

Let me start by saying, I can't believe it has taken me this long to make my own swim wear.  This must have been among the simplest, quickest and most straight forward project I have ever attempted.  

I did contemplate modelling my new swimwear on a chaise floating in the pool while sipping a pina colada, but only briefly, before reality set in.  Sooo, in the absence of the chaise and the pina colada, this is as resort looking as I could get.

The pattern is McCall's 5400.  The packet describes this pattern as a two piece bathing suit and cover up.  Lined, halter tops have separate pattern pieces for A/B and C/D cup sizes.  The top A has a front ruffle.  Tops C, D have purchased swimwear hooks.  Top E is waist length.  Below waist bottoms have lined crotch and high cut legs.  The pullover cover up has long sleeves with seam opening and side slits.  I made view E top and view F pants with modifications.

The pattern is sized 4-12.  I made a size 10 C/D cup for the top and size 12 for the pants.

I chose this pattern and fabric at the end of last summer in one of Lincrafts half price sales.  From memory, the nylon Lycra that I chose was around $7 per metre and given I used less than a metre, this was an economical project.

Like the last  pair of bikini pants I made using this pattern, I added a band to the top as I like a higher pair of pants without actually making the higher version.  I did find with the last pair that the band unfolded when I was wearing them so this time I chose to make the band narrower and avoid the fold all together.  This time I also used rubber elastic instead of the poly braid elastic that I used last time and this resulted in a nicer fit.  I extended the top by 13cm in length because I wanted the top to finish at hip length and not waist length and also added 1.5cm in width at each side because I felt that it was too narrow in the hips and didn't want it to roll up when worn.  With the cup lining, I cut it in a half crescent shape at the side seam which left an opening through which I could pop some padded inserts in.

I finished the hem by over locking and turning and a twin needled hem.  This is a new trick for me and I am now a convert to twin needles.  I have a cover stitch machine but this is definitely a good, I can't be bothered setting it up lazy option, for me.


The instructions were extremely easy to follow and I will definitely be making more of these.   The finished product looks exactly like the picture (apart from the changes I made).   Next time, I would like to try view C top, with a few alterations. I have to say,  there is nothing about this pattern not to like.  It is easy and the finished product is flattering.  Now, all I need is some hot weather....oh and the chaise and pina colada!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Embracing Colour

I am probably the last person in blogesphere to make this dress.  The truth is, the pattern has been sitting in my collection since last summer while I have been working up the courage to make it up.  You see the problem is that Vogue had this pattern as suitable for my figure shape but everything I have learnt through the years has dictated the opposite.  I had read all of the reviews on Pattern Review and everyone raves about this dress so eventually curiosity got the better of me.

The Vogue 1250 pattern envelope describes this dress as an easy close-fitting dress.  This was my first issue with this pattern.  Close fitting on me is generally fine, as long as it is in a woven fabric and this is not.

Usually with Vogue patterns, and in fact on most patterns, I cut the top to a size 10 and the bottoms to a size 12.  It was not easy to draft this pattern this way because the skirt wraps round with one seam up the back and the front and skirt are attached.  With a little creative drafting I did manage it however before realising that this pattern runs small so I regraded to a size 12/14 combination.  I wanted quite a bit of ease in the hips so this proved to be the best solution.

I chose a lovely rayon knit fabric that I picked up at a manufacturers end of season sale for $6 per metre.  I love this fabric so didn't want to have a failure as I can't get more.  Fortunately this dress is very economical and I have approximately a metre left over from my two metre piece.

This has to be one of the simplest dresses I have ever made, which is a little unusual with Vogue patterns.  I did refer to the instructions but this is not one of those projects that you need to carefully follow them.

After making the dress up and fitting it, I decided that it hung rather like a sack, which if I was honest, I probably expected from the beginning.  This dress does not give the impression of suiting a girl with curves.  I ended up taking out a full 12cm through the waist area and grading out to the hips and back up to the bust area.

It looked exactly like the picture on the cover of the pattern, once finished.   I do have a couple of complaints with the finished dress though.  The neckline is quite deep so I will need to be careful when wearing it.  The armholes are also a bit deep so if I were to make it again, I would make these a little smaller.  The completely annoying trait of the dress is the tendency for the neck facing to flip out.  This will be easily fixed with some strategically placed hand stitches.

It was only after the final try on that I realised that I narrowly missed a poorly placed print issue.  Note to self.....check print placement in future. 

As much as I love the finished dress, I can't see me making this pattern up again.  I think I really only need one of this style of dress in my wardrobe.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's the little things...

Courteney had been commenting recently about how long it has been since we have been white baiting.  White baiting has been an annual tradition in our family since she was was very small.

Here Courteney is aged two years, on a cold spring day, in a jacket, I made for her, helping to pick up the whitebait off the beach with her grandmother.  You can just see the tiny whitebait in her little hand.  We have moved on a little now and she has been promoted to catcher and the picking up of whitebait off the beach has once again become my job.
For anyone reading this who is not from New Zealand, whitebait are baby fish that swim up the river from the sea in the spring.  They are actually different varieties of fish and the east coast has different whitebait to that on the west coast.  Whitebait are a delicacy and very much sought after at this time of the year.  We catch them in a net by manually trawling the river mouth.
The last time we caught and ate whitebait, was 2009, before our earthquakes.  The river that we catch it in became polluted after the earthquakes so for the last two seasons it has not been safe to eat.  All of that changed this season and normal functions have now been restored.  So, on Sunday, after reports of large whitebait catches by fellow fisher people, my family, minus me, headed to the beach to try their luck.  They were rewarded with 600grams of whitebait which doesn't seem a lot but if you are paying by the 100grams it would make quite a dent in your pocket.
I was responsible for cleaning off the sand and any debris and making up an egg and flour batter.....
and then finally the cooking.
Yummm!  Nothing beats fresh fish!

Monday, October 22, 2012

As Promised...

The sun did stay out yesterday and I did get time to take a photo of my latest project.  Introducing the perfect fitting Sewaholic Thurlows!  My first version was made in size 4 and the second version was cut as a size 2.  I still felt however that there was a little too much room in the leg and seat area so I was determined to make them narrower again.  Fortunately my chosen lightweight stretch cotton denim in acid wash baby pink, was more stable than the Lincraft cotton sateen that I had used previously which enabled me to run them in a little.  I ended up making them 1cm narrower in each panel.  I hope this will be enough because with all of the running I am doing at the moment, my shape is changing rapidly.  Oh well, that is just another excuse to make more clothes!

I found some lovely pink and yellow printed cotton in my leftover bin for the waistband and pocket bags.  Because this is not stretch fabric, it keeps the curved waistband nice and stable.  This time I didn't add the front pocket facing because I didn't think it particularly necessary.  You can't see the lining when the pants are being worn so my hunch was correct.  I also didn't add the welt pockets at the back because I don't use back pockets and didn't want any extra bulk in the posterior area.

I have seen feedback with this pattern that the fly is difficult to sew using Tasia's instructions but actually I find this way of creating a fly the easiest I have come across yet and has the best results.  I also really like the extended waistband with the hidden button closure.   One thing I do not like with pants is that pulled look at the top of the zip and I feel that by using this method the pulled look is eliminated....well it is on me anyway, so I think I will be adapting this method for all of my pants in the future.

Today I am wearing my new capri pants with the top my daughter dubbed the shower curtain top and pink leather sling backs that have been sitting in the back of my wardrobe for the past 5 years waiting for the perfect outfit to wear them with.  Since I am currently working on ditching the black in favour of more colour, they may well see quite a bit of use this summer. 

Given that this is my 3rd pair of Thurlows, you may be wondering whether this is my last.  Well, I am not usually given to making things just once, so the answer is no.  My daughter already has two pieces of fabric lined up for me to make into shorts using this pattern.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

End Of The Week Sewing

Usually when I complete a project mid week, I like to have a smaller project to finish the week.  Well, this week my end of week project was underwear.  You may be wondering what my early in the week project was?  Well, you will just have to wait a few more days until I can get a decent photograph.  This week has been rather busy because of the start of a new term and new routines to get used to.  Also, I spent a day with my youngest cheering him on at his primary school athletic sports.

My first attempt at underwear, I wrote about here.  I was not particularly happy with the fit.  They reminded me somewhat of those dreadful leotards with the high cut legs that everyone wore to the gym in the 1980's.  I shouldn't have been surprised really, because this pattern was, after all, a relic from the 1980's.  Carolyn suggested that I use a swimwear pattern.  Genius, I thought....why had I not thought of that before.  I had just the pattern in my stash already, McCall's 5400.  I have already used it to make a replacement for my ailing bikini pants so was happy with the fit.

The only change I made to the pattern was to use knicker elastic instead of swimwear elastic.   These were super easy to make.  I used some nylon Lycra lingerie fabric that I picked up on the sale table at Fabric Vision for $8 per metre.  By my reckoning I think I can get about 8 pairs for my metre of fabric.  For the gusset, I cut up an old cotton Lycra tee shirt from the discarded clothing bag.  I stitched the elastic to the nylon Lycra  right sides together with a straight stitch close to the picket edge and then flipped the elastic over and three step zig zagged from the right side....simple!  As you can see from the photo, though, the elastic needed to be a little tighter so next time I think I will reduce the elastic by 10% so it gathers slightly.  There will definitely be more of these, but first, I need to buy more elastic.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Vogue 1247 Revisited

This is the second version of this top I have made.  The first one is here.  I used a piece of mystery polyester op shop fabric and Vogue 1247.  The fabric is a lovely navy blue with a small white moon looking spot

I cut the fabric to a size 10, the same size as last time.  I did find the neck a little big on the original and it required bra strap stays to keep it from falling off my shoulders.  It was a little too deep in the v neck for my liking as well.  For this reason, I cut the neck a full 1.5cm smaller all of the way round which means it now sits nicely without any embarrassing gaping while still fitting over my head.

This top was an easy make and blends nicely with the lighter blue items that are favourites in my wardrobe.  It also matches my white Jalie Jeans.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Saving It For A Rainy Day


This particular metamorphose of an ugly chair began several weeks ago now on a rainy day.  It has been languishing around the house half naked ever since. 
I picked this beauty ugly duckling up on Trademe with it's even more embattled twin for the princely sum of $50.00.  I think I may have had a rush of blood to the head when I thought that recovering these was a good idea.  Pulling the gazillion staples out alone was a laborious exercise and a job my husband did in front of the TV on yet another rainy day.
After much procrastinating, we finally got round to turning this ugly duckling into a swan befitting our living room.  A lot of blood sweat and tears went into the actual covering of these....okay maybe not so much the tears but certainly a lot of stretching of fabric, skinned knuckles on stubborn staples and even one or two swears when things were not going our way, but several hours later our efforts were rewarded.
I had seen some lovely mixed fabric chairs popping up in home decor magazines lately so I took a risk and used this gorgeous textured chenille in pink beige and red on the sides and back of the chair and a more family friendly red ribbed chenille on the areas likely to get the most wear.  My husband sanded and  re stained the legs, I stitched the covering and together we carefully reassembled it.  After completion, my daughter tried to claim it for her room.  I guess that is the ultimate compliment, but after all of that effort we are reluctant to let it go.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Young Man Turns.....

I mentioned earlier in the week, that a young man was having a birthday this week.  Well, today we hosted his friends for a sports themed party.  We kept it simple since we have been on holiday and time spent planning was in short supply.  Courteney whipped up this cake last night.  It is a gorgeous moist chocolate cake from Sophie Gray's Book Enjoy and is a favourite of mine for everyday and birthday cakes.  It is easy to ice, keeps for days (if there is any left after the party) and is cheap and easy to make.  You can't ask for more than that of a cake really.  At past parties I have noticed that by the time kids have eaten all of the other food on the party table the cake can often get left, so I deliberately kept this cake quite small.

It is quite hard to believe that I have hosted 9 parties for my baby.  Here is an assortment of J's previous cakes in chronological order.

A jack in the box for his first birthday.

A train for his second birthday.

Lightening McQueen for his third birthday.

A treasure chest for his fourth birthday
Clifford the big red dog for his fifth birthday

A soccer field complete with icing players for his sixth birthday

A Minion off the movie Despicable Me for his seventh birthday

The world cup rugby ball (of course) for his eighth birthday.
One of the things I am most proud of, is that none of my kids have had the same cake.  It has taken quite a bit of creativity when you consider that they are 16, 13 and 9.  That is a grand total of 38 birthday cakes!  Wow...has it really been that many!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I Don't Tramp!

This is what I have been telling my daughter when she has been trying to convince me to don a pack and sleep in the wilderness.  Don't get me wrong, I love the great outdoors.  I just don't like sleeping on the ground.  Her beautiful photographs however, did inspire me to immerse my kids in the beauty of the country we live in.  Usually a family holiday involves planes and passports but not this time.  I am ashamed to say, my kids had never seen the glaciers that are a days car ride from where we live so this was the reason for our trip.  I booked the motels, and gassed up the car for our wilderness adventure and joined the throngs of camper vans driving up and down our wild west coast.


I was surprised to see snow at the top of Arthur's Pass in October!  See my feathered friend in the background.

My youngest son was surprised to see a Kea (New Zealand parrot) in the wild up close!

We were all surprised to see our reflections so clearly in Lake Ianthe!

I was not surprised to see my teenage son posing under a waterfall beside a glacier!

The kids were surprised to see this majestic ice flow so close to home!

We marvelled at the power of the ocean.

We marvelled at the ingenuity required to access such a rugged place.

We collected treasured mementos before the sun set on our adventure.

I am already planning the next road trip!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Eternal Packing Dilemma


Now, I am sure I am not the only one who suffers from packing dilemmas when they go on holiday.  I never seem to get this one right.  For this particular holiday, we were as a family going on a road trip.  Since there are five of us, packing light is essential.  Now, I don't pack for my older kids anymore, thankfully, but I do like to know what is going in volume wise and also remind them of a few things to avoid the dramas when we get to our destination. 

Our road trip was to be a five day affair with a lot of driving, walking and a meal out to celebrate a young man's ninth birthday.  There was to be the potential of swimming with the near certainty of rain and given it is spring the uncertainty of summer like or winter like weather which necessitated packing a little of both and because of lack of space not a lot of everything.  Five overnight bags were duly issued and packed into the car.

My overnight bag contained:

A raincoat
A down jacket for extreme weather
White spotty batwing tee
Animal print batwing tee
White Renfrew tee
Black long sleeve thermal
Purple Renfrew tee
Black Jalie skinny cargo jeans
Beige  skinny stretch pants
Beige linen shorts
Black wool Jalie hoodie
White cotton Jalie hoodie
Blue cotton cardigan
Black leather ballet flats
Canvas sneakers
Walking shoes

Added to this little lot was some underwear and pyjamas but that is all very boring so I didn't list them here.

You might wonder what worked and what didn't!  Well through no fault of my own, the shorts didn't see the light of day but everything else did, so my packing can't have been that bad.  The weather proved to be very wet, as predicted, and also quite cold so I would have benefited from a bit more warm gear and some shoes that didn't soak up the water but all in all I am pretty happy with what I packed.  I lived in the black wool hoodie so another one in a brighter colour may well be on my radar.  A note to self though.....white hoodies are not practical for road trips, especially when take away coffees are involved!  You live and learn!