Thursday, January 31, 2013

Over Dressed

With the mercury hovering in the mid thirties today, dresses with sleeves were not my attire of choice but with another month end looming and very little to blog about in the latter half of the month, I donned my new Colette Macaron for the good of my blog.

Now this dress is made of leftovers.  The top part of the bodice is made with some cotton knit left over from this top and the rest of the dress is made from some lovely crinkle cotton woven left over from a skirt that I didn't even like after completion and predates my blog.  I absolutely love this fabric so it is nice to make something wearable out of it.  The dress itself, I cut to a size 4 and graded out to a size 6 in the hips but in hindsight I could have stayed with the size 4 as the skirt is actually quite a loose fit design.  I finished the neck by stitching a band around the top right sides together and then flipping it over to the back and top stitching it flat.  I am really pleased with the way the bodice turned out.  The knit was a good choice because it does allow for lots of movement.  

I inserted an invisible zipper as per the instructions but my one complaint, and I am not sure how it can be remedied, is that it is very difficult to get one.  I am afraid I am going to rip it under the armpits when I put it on, even though I raised the zipper area closer to the armpit area.

I deliberately left out the pockets, because I felt it added bulk to the front of the dress and were more decorative than functional.

All in all, I am pretty happy with the way this turned out.  I do seem to have an over population of dresses in my wardrobe this summer. It is a good job really that it has been so hot that they all make it into regular rotation.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Quiet Reflection

My youngest returned to school today somewhat reluctantly. The newspaper this morning warned of the mercury potentially soaring to over 40 degrees today so school, was the last place he wanted to be.  I walked into the classroom this morning and was greeted with a scene more in keeping with a picnic than a classroom.  My son's new male teacher had removed all of the desks and chairs and replaced them with wooden picnic tables like those found in parks and which usually reside in the outdoor lunch area.  Decorating these tables were a colourful collection of sun umbrellas.  I knew at that point that J's first day in year 5 would be a good day!  I still have a couple of teenagers to extricate from the house but their return to school will happen progressively over the next couple of days.  

Despite the light hearted manor in which my youngest was greeted by his new classroom, I know he would rather be doing what he did yesterday and that was this....

taken after a morning run with me and before the requisite vegemite on toast for breakfast.  I love the summer holiday break!

Today I am planning a little sewing and perhaps swimming and in an effort to stay cool I am wearing this dress.  It is one of my favourite makes of the summer.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Twirl Factor

One thing I have wanted for a while, is a lovely knife pleat skirt.  Yesterday my local Maudes charity shop had a half price sale.  Thank you to Little Miss Flossy for letting me know.  The timing was perfect because today, I had a job interview.  Normally I would wear black pants and a blouse, not unlike the blouse I am wearing and perhaps a jacket depending on the weather.  Today, however, with the mercury reported to climb over 30 degrees, I had a problem. Interviews are uncomfortable enough at the best of times without the added pressure of over heating.  I briefly thought of wearing my Vogue 1247 skirt, but felt with the pockets and linen fabric,  it was a little too casual.  So, you can imagine my excitement when I found the perfectly fitting, perfectly coloured knife pleat skirt in black for a mere $3 in the sale.  The skirt is by St. Michael and made in the UK.  It was however pleated and I suspect dry clean only.  I like to launder charity items before wearing so very carefully I handwashed the skirt in warm soapy water before plunging up and down in some cold water and then drip drying in the sun.  Thank goodness for hot summer sun!    

I was fortunate enough to  have my new skirt coordinate with my favourite formal blouse, a lovely lined sheer white number with little black stars by Amie and was also picked up at a charity shop for a couple of dollars.  The belt and shoes I bought new.

Now, I know all of this is not show casing my me made talents, but I don't know if it is even possible to make such a skirt myself which made this purchase especially gratifying.  It probably won't be often styled this way because it does look a little too office attire for my liking but it also lends itself to this....

Now, while I was telling my Mum about my score, as I tend to do, she said she had the perfect pair of shoes that my sister was throwing out that I could have.  These are brand new and  because they fit me, I am picking they were a size too large for her.  I am quite the fan of espadrilles and these are not too high so perfect for me.  I am wearing my deliciously swirly skirt here with another Vogue top which was among my favourites last summer and I wrote about here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Teeny Tiny Piece

I had to whip out at dusk to take this photo of my latest stash busting tee.  I had two different pieces of grey fabric.  The gold embossed piece was from this top and the striped piece was from this dress.  Now, I was going to make both of these pieces into some lingerie but at the last moment decided that grey was a little too dull for my lingerie preferences.  A little bit of Googling later and Marie Denmark was conceived. 

Had this pattern not been free, I probably wouldn't have considered a pattern from this supplier.  They tend to be more leaning towards basics than flamboyant and I tend to find basics sewing a little dull.  That being said though, I am thoroughly impressed by the cut of the Maria Denmark Kimono Tee and now consider myself a convert.   I particularly like their pattern matching so it is really easy to tape the pieces of pattern together.  There are definitely no jigsaw puzzles with this one.   It was a cleverly conceived idea on their behalf to suck non converts like me in, I think and I just may have to order more patterns.  Never let it be said that I don't support small pattern designers.  I have long been a Sewaholic worshiper and have also supported Colette and Style Arc as well.  I may now have to add Maria Denmark to my new list of patterns to buy.

Now, back to the details.  I cut out a size small as indicated by my measurements and changed nothing about this pattern except splicing both the front and back to incorporate  two different fabric prints.  I also cut the neck ribbing shorter than stated as I found it sat better.

Once again after my origami style cutting, I have no fabric left.  Excellent!  There are now two less pieces of fabric trying to be first to escape the fabric cupboard. 


I always feel guilty when I am inside sewing on a beautiful day.  So yesterday while my youngest swam in the pool, I took the opportunity to do a little gardening, one eye on the pool, and one eye on the task at hand.

This is what I picked.  The apple is probably not quite ripe but I will cut it open to check.  The strawberries are nearly done but I never get tired of picking these.  These are my first tomatoes of the season but there will be plenty more where they came from.  The courgettes were doing beautifully until sadly, for me anyway, the boys accidentally snapped one prolific plant in half over the weekend.

 You can't beat organic fruit and vegetables. 

This is my first season with blueberries so I am looking forward to eating these.

My tomato jungle.  These have got away on me over the holiday break.

Lettuces and spring onions with a tiny silverbeet that I planted over the weekend.

This mandarin tree is covered in tiny mandarins which will be ripe in time for winter.

Potatoes, beans, raspberries, bokchoy, carrots and red onions do nicely down the south side of my house. 

My feijoa is flowering nicely after being moved last year.

I should have plenty of pears for bottling this year.

This is the second year this tree has fruited.  Lovely juicy eating apples that the kids are already asking if they can pick.  The birds like them as well so I am keeping an eye on them.  Also for the first time ever, this year I have peaches that I have grown from a stone.  

I was wondering if it was just my garden that was doing well this year, when I read in the paper this morning about a lady who lives not too far from me who has bananas on her banana tree for the first time. That is simply unheard of in the flat areas of Christchurch.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Controlling A Rampant Stash

What do you do when your fabric stash is growing so rapidly it is forcing the cupboard doors open?  You get creative of course!

This was actually a reality for me this week.   I decided to have a brain storming session with all of my "don't know what to do with it but it is still useful" pieces, and this is what I came up with. 

Because Vogue 1247 remains one of my favourite patterns, I wondered how it would translate from a woven top into a knit top.   I had just enough fabric from this dress and these leggings to cobble out a top with absolutely nothing left over.  I cut the sleeves slightly shorter and added a sleeve band instead of a turn back as in the pattern.  I also cut two backs on the fold instead of a front and a back and simply cut the front neckline 3cm lower than the original pattern to create a wide but shallow crew neck.

I am really pleased with the way this turned out.  It is a deliciously relaxed and easy to wear tee shirt.  Today, for my dog walking activities, I am wearing it with  cotton duck shorts that for some obscure reason I don't seem to have written about, but were made as a muslin for New Look 6873.      
And you may think I am getting all "posey" for the second photo, but no!  It was one of those "I wish I had a hair tie" kind of shots!

While walking in the park, I also took the opportunity, quickly, while my dog walked herself off in the distance (she is terrified of my camera), to photograph the tee I made for Courteney for Christmas.  I had to snap the picture quickly before my dog walked herself back home!

Friday, January 18, 2013

A "Glitch"

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I don't usually take the kids to the movies in the summer holidays because there are so many outdoor activities to take advantage of at this time of the year but yesterday in the pouring rain, I relented.  My youngest son asked to see Wreck it Ralph.  Because he has had such an emotionally devastating week, I thought the diversion might be just what the doctor ordered, so to speak.  Without even checking to see what the movie was all about, I dutifully booked the tickets.

Anyho, as I was pulling the car out of the garage, I caught the back passenger door on the side of our caravan which is still parked on the driveway after our camping trip.  Fortunately, the caravan is okay, but my car is not and is going to require some panel work after being grated like a slice of cheese.  The damage however, didn't prevent us carrying on our way to the movie theatre.  


I didn't have to watch the movie for long to realise the whole irony in the story.  The story goes that Wreck It Ralph is a character from an old electronic arcade game.  Wreck It Ralph breaks the apartment building and Fix it Felix repairs the damage.  All of the characters move from one arcade game to the next through the electrical cords.  Wreck It Ralph doesn't want to break things any more and wants to improve his life.  Along the way he befriends an outcast from another game, the Glitch, who has an electrical malfunction and wants to be a race car driver.  He helps the Glitch build a race car and promptly wrecks it.  I won't spoil the movie but suffice to say, they all live happily ever after.


My youngest son who was my witness to the accident is now calling me Wreck It Ralph....Thanks J!  This morning my husband, aka Fix It Felix, has taken my car to the panel shop to get a quote to fix it.  He has left me with his car for the day, but I think I may just stay at home.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Making It Work

I know there isn't a lot of Me Made going on here but I do have an excuse.  Last Thursday, I had a bereavement in my family and finding time to think about anything me made, has been non existent.  I have made plenty of cakes, trips to the supermarket and guests feel welcome but that is my limit.   
Today is the first day of reasonable normality and after an exceedingly hot week, I was relieved to wear more than a flimsy sundress and sandals and actually pull out a pair of jeans.  There is nothing special about these jeans.  They are merely a pair of Glassons coloured jeans but the top is another story.  This started life as a dress by Whistle that I bought on a whim in last years summer sales.  It had a gathered skirt and because it was sheer, was designed to be worn over leggings.  I just didn't wear it, but did like the bodice and the fabric so I very carefully removed the skirt portion and this is what is left.  Today, I am also wearing my favourite black Clarks sandals.  These are my go to sandals over the summer and have been my constant companion over the last couple of hot weeks.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

First Challenge For 2013....Done!

There is nothing like a new challenge to kick off a new year and Kwik Sew 3300 provided me with just the challenge.  I have been making undies for a while but had not attempted a bra since a one off in the 1990's.  My original 1990's bra was self drafted and although it was successful, I found the process time consuming and the results not quite what I suspected.  For this particular project I invested in Kwik Sew 3300.  I have to say, having a decent pattern and construction details made all of the difference and although the project was time consuming, it was very much worth it. 

Since this was a trial bra, I chose to use a relatively unused synthetic  tee shirt for the main fabric and some left over lace from this top as a contrast. 

I prefer my bras slightly padded and briefly considered making this one without, when I had a brainwave.  What if I interlined it with some super fine microfleece. I was initially concerned that this may make the centre seam a little bumpy and annoying to wear, but decided to take a risk and do it anyway.  I am glad I did because my fears were unfounded and this proved to be a fantastic solution.

The pattern has you make the straps by ironing interfacing to the reverse of the straps before construction and stitching a short length of elastic between the strap and the back.  I wasn't satisfied with this strap construction, preferring a more elastic strap.  I decided to make my straps more like swimwear straps.  I stitched and turned my straps before threading through a narrow braided elastic, cutting it slightly short and 3 step zigzagging to hold the elastic in place.  I now have adequate stretch in my straps so that when I shrug my shoulders I have some movement.  I was frugal with the underwires as well.  I simply cut existing wires from an old bra that I no long wanted.  I bought the lingerie elastic from Lincraft.  It is a lovely heavy lingerie elastic of a grade you would find on rtw bras.

With a little careful pattern manipulation I also managed to squeeze  a pair of undies out of my fabric as well.  I used an old cotton tee for the lining.  Once again I used McCall's 5400 as the pattern.  This time however I reduced the elastic to 50cm around each leg and 60cm around the waist.  I also reduced the width in the crotch by 5mm on each side.  I am really pleased with the way these turned out. 

I am really keen now to buy some supplies and make a second set.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

See Want Must Have

This dress has been in the planning for the past three months, ever since spring clothing started making appearances in the shops.  It is no secret that I really like Desigual clothing so I was drawn to this tank dress as soon as I lay my eyes on it.  It really is just a simple tank with an inset in the side seam and a couple of butterfly appliques.  Why then did it take until two days before Christmas to execute this project?  Your guess is as good as mine. 
I started with 1m of rugby knit from this op shop fabric haul.  I found an additional metre of navy blue rugby knit in my stash that had been hiding in the back of the cupboard for the last 10 years and needed rescuing.  The pattern I used was once again McCall's 6559.  Somehow I managed to have lost the back piece of view C so I had to recut the armholes to my own measurements.

I wasn't sure how to insert the side vertical stripes so I sewed the side seams before cutting and attaching the strips and cutting the original away at the back.  I then overlocked the seams before completing the applique.
The appliques were made using some scrap cotton lycra and then free motion appliqueing them to the dress by free motion applique.  I then added a little embroidery detail using some metallic embroidery thread.

This dress proved to be another camping favourite.  I did have to be a little careful about the white because it isn't the most practical colour for camping but nonetheless it is one of those dresses that I put on and instantly feel good.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Making It Work

This week a couple of oldies came out to play, and before you even go there, no, I am not referring to myself.  Today it was a really warm  31 degrees, with a clear blue sky.  I had a few messages to run in the city and then spent some time in the pool with the kids.  This dress actually predates my blog but I wrote about it here anyway.  It is made of a lovely light cotton so perfect for a hot still day.

Just so my older dresses remain in rotation, I also wore this dress to a picnic on the weekend.  The picnic also involved a visit to this gorgeous bay on Banks Peninsula that I had never visited before.  This particular dress was one of my first dresses made last summer and I wrote about here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

One Thing Leads To Another

After making my floral Thurlow shorts, I suddenly had a brain wave!  I had the perfect unbrushed cotton to make a matching Jalie hoody to go with my new shorts.  I needed a new hoody anyway for the impending camping trip and, I reasoned, a few days before Christmas was certainly not too late to embark on just one more projects was it?   Turns out, actually yes, it was a little too late.  There is nothing like adding a bit of extra stress to ones Christmas when, really, it isn't in the slightest bit necessary.

This particular fabric was part of this op shop fabric haul.  The only problem was, I didn't have a zip in this unusual shade of pink.  After pondering the problem for a few minutes, I delved into my large reclaimed zip collection and resurfaced with a black open ended zip the perfect length but in black.   I knew that somewhere, I had some black and white striped lycra that just might be large enough to line the hood.
I changed absolutely nothing about this pattern except to line the hood and shorten the sleeves.  One thing I do have to be careful of however, when making this style of hoody is that my overlocker does not like the layers and Courteney has managed to break my underlooper twice while making this top in the past so less speed and more care is very much a necessity.
I had just completed this project, and was admiring the results when Courteney announced that yes, she had to have a new hoody as well to take on our camping trip.  After delving into my fabric stash and reclaimed zip collection, this is what she made......
Hmmmm, I think I may have a need for one in this colourway myself! 
For the record, these two jackets mark no.8 and no.9 made from this pattern.  I think that may be a new record.