Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Practice dress

Today I finished my practice run of dress A from the Stylish Dress Book.  I made a size 12 and it fits beautifully at the neck, I love the neckline and the gathering, the armholes are just the perfect size, and overall it's wide enough for my bust size and broad shoulders...

...but I haven't even hemmed it yet and it's too short for my liking - I'm usually a 'just below the knee' kind of girl.  I added the recommended 3.5cm of hem allowance to the pattern I traced from the book and it's still not long enough, looks like I might have to carefully watch the length of garments I make from this book, at least that's an easy thing to fix.

My options from here are to add a strip of contrasting fabric to the hem to add length, or to chop it off in a more tunic length top.  It could also do with some waist ties, or a belt, or narrowing the seam at the waist, something to bring it in a bit, I'm not really used to such a baggy style, but it's growing on me.  I'm not really a dress wearer, but while I was wearing this one around today it was rather deliciously cool, cooler than the t-shirt and skirt I was wearing for most of the day.  Girls that wear dresses might just be onto something...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Slow and steady

Hello there!  Lots of slow and steady sewing around here, a list a mile long of things to get finished, or even get started on for that matter.

Today its wet, cool and very quiet in our neighbourhood.  Perfect for staying in, the only problem being is that I am increasingly getting hungry and there's nothing decent to eat in the cupboard (well, there sure is food, just nothing that I 'really' want to eat, you know).

Well anyway, the sewing - my top needs hemming but it's basically done.

And I've been down on the floor with my tools cutting out a pattern from the Japanese dress book I talked about last week.

The one I am making is the first one in the book, dress A.  Its super easy but still uses a good range of dressmaking skills.  Strangely for a practice run in a fabric I might not even wear I am going to a bit more trouble than I might otherwise, even making bias binding for the neckline.

Some pretty gathering in the front.

No sleeves to worry about.

I'm still curious about the fit so hopefully I'll have this one finished up in no time and I'll be able to think about using nicer fabric.

I'm linking up with Our Creative Spaces this week.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


The baby is sleeping.

I'm enjoying sewing myself a top.
I'm ignoring anything else that "needs" to be done.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Going Japanese (translated)


I am currently a little bit ridiculously obsessed with sewing clothes for myself.  This is probably a good thing because:
1. I am breastfeeding and it hard to find nice clothes that are suitable for easy feeding
2. I'm fussy and its hard for me to find clothes that I actually like in the shops
3. Shopping with a baby in tow is the pits
4. I dig the idea of a "label free" and handmade wardrobe
5. I have vowed to wear less t-shirts and more blouse like tops with pretty prints
6. It's still decidedly hot here in Brisbane so I'm taking advantage of some lovely light cottons available at the fabric shop
7. It's kinder on the family budget and enjoyable to make my own

So I've been tracing patterns and am in the throws of making a few versions of this (the pattern cover illustrations are lousy but it does make a nice top, I'll model them for you later):

And I also ordered this book which arrived in my mailbox earlier in the week - I love a bit of parcel mail for me! (I reason that sewing my own clothes justifies the purchase of a new sewing book, or you might argue that such a thing never needs justification...)

The Stylish Dress Book - I may perhaps be a little late to come to the Japanese sewing book party, but recently a late night session of internet browsing on this topic had me itching to try some for myself. You should have a browse through the blog Make Something if you want some drop dead gorgeous inspiration.

And did you know that this particular book now comes in English?  Yes folks, last year it was released as an English translation with Western sizing from size 6 to size 16. Although I'm not afraid of trying a Japanese version, I think the translated version is a real bonus as an introduction to using these books.

Although a lot of the designs are not that breastfeeding friendly I am going to try a few things, I have my eye on shortening a particular style into a top, and I'm dreaming of what I would like to try later in the year when the weather cools down somewhat.  So today I'm tracing away from the patterns sheets (stealing husband's architectural tracing paper) and I'm going to grab some unwanted fabric and start making up a size to see how the fit is.  I kind of measure between a 12 hips and 14 bust, but the styles are very loose so I'm going to ignore the sizing table for now and "sew it and see".

Today I'm liking up over here, too.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Olive picking


We recently found out that our house has a name in the street for being "the house with the olive trees". We do indeed have six olive trees in the front garden - this year four of them flowered and produced olives.  After watching and wondering how big they should get and what colour they should be before we picked them we came to the conclusion that some of the trees were green olive trees (so we would be waiting for ever for them to change colour!) and some were black olive trees. Seeing as most of black olives had turned black we decided this weekend it was time to pick.

Of course you can't enjoy olives straight off the tree, you have to cure them.  After a little research we went with a 10% salt solution, to be changed every week for 5-6 weeks.  We've also put a little cut down the side of each olive to help the process along.

Two glass jars of olives in salt water are certainly looking handsome on my kitchen bench right now.  We are really hoping this works and we get some edible olives around the end of March.  I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

PS, I love you

At our house we have a thing for the Ikea PS arm chair.  When we moved to Brisbane early last decade we bought one of these chairs, and proud of it we were too.  A nice neat style, fitting right in with our Klippan couch, removable and washable cover...and then one day we thought we would get another (not sure why, maybe to keep the other one company), so we trekked out to Ikea and what do you know, the PS chair was discontinued, not more chairs, no more covers, nothing.

Again, for reasons that I can no longer remember we then turned to searching them out on Ebay.  They were, and still are, very hard to find but about six years ago we found a pair being sold in Sydney with synthetic sheepskin covers (picture above).  We bought them for a few dollars and then paid heaps to have them transported to Brisbane.  It sounds totally stupid, it was, but we really love our PS chairs.

Late last year, in our new house and everything (and probably something to do with that thing called the "nesting instinct") I decided that our PS chairs needed fresh new covers.  The fake sheepskin look was on one hand kind of retro, but on the other hand they had lost their best and were marked and worn and starting to disintegrate.  See the picture, kinda gross with suspicious stains...

You can buy covers for these chairs from the Bemz website for about $35, but with nearly $30 of postage and four week wait for delivery why wouldn't you try to make your own for the cost of materials only? Well, why not, I say. One day I took one of the covers off and grabbed my seam ripper and started to rip that cover right apart.  I made a few notes about what bits were stitched to what to get the order of assembly of a new cover right, and then traced around all the individual bits and pieces to make a pattern.  I just set to making a new cover with no idea if it was going to work, and it worked absolutely perfectly.  I'm pleased as punch!

Out of our three chairs I have so far covered two.  One in a furnishing fabric from Spotlight, this one lives right now in our lounge room but would also be at home in our bedroom.

And one is covered in an Ikea fabric - this one is in the littlest boys room for night time feeding but it would also look good in the lounge room (not necessarily along side the floral cover though).

The third chair is in a corner in our bedroom with clothes all over it (a chair-robe if you will), but I do have plans to cover it in a plain white (or slightly off white) fabric so that it will go with either of these patterned ones.  Sometimes if we have guests staying we have two of these chairs in the lounge so there is enough seating for everyone.

I'm so pleased to be giving these chairs a new lease on life, and without breaking the bank account either.  Bravo!


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