Friday, 28 November 2008

ever been scared of your fabric?

I don't mean scared of how much fabric you have (surely that's not possible!). Or physically scared of it, although from the size of some stashes I've seen (my own included) a small avalanche of fabric could cause a nasty injury. What I mean is do you have fabric that you're too scared to use? I do, stacks and stacks of it in fact. Some fabric is so lovely and so expensive that I hesitate to cut into it for fear of stuffing it up. But with those fabrics you can generally get more of it if need be. Where I fall down however is using the one off, vintage pieces of beautiful fabric I pick up from op-shops, garage sales or ebay - once they are used there's no more of it, so I always feel such pressure to make the most out of it.


It was this case with this fabric which has been sitting in my stash for years, so long that I can't remember where I picked it up from. It's a heavy cotton, probably home dec weight I'd say, and it has the coolest op art swirl print. No clues on the selvedge as to age or designer, and it was a decent sized piece that could have been made into a wall hanging, pillows or at one stage I toyed with making a retro 60s style shift dress. But I couldn't decide and so it sat in the stash!

Well I have woken up from my baby denial coma and realised it's only 27 days (EEK) until this baby is due and it's time to make some useful baby stuff and stop frittering my time on more clothes for me! So I decided to use this fabric in something that I would use frequently and take out every time I leave the house - a nappy bag of course! Inspired by a fancy schmancy Isoki brand nappy bag that retails for $169 (it is reversible and comes with a lot of useful little pouches, but still $169 is too much for this Scrooge), I decided to use an OOP New Look pattern and I came up with this bag for less than $10 worth of hardware (interfacing, magnetic closure, O rings):

I did make a muslin to see how big it would be, and it is huge enough to fit everything a nappy bag needs without enlarging it all (in fact it's so huge it hides my basketball belly!). The only modifications I made was to add some pockets to the inside lining in a contrast fabric, and to add a magnetic snap closure because the pattern didn't have any closure to it at all. I used black corduroy for the straps, which by complete fluke was a brilliant choice because corduroy is a grabby fabric and the straps don't slip down at all. I left off the contrast panel at the top of the bag only because I wanted to maximise the amount of the main body fabric that was visible.


So whilst I was on my sensible sewing streak, I made some fitted cot sheets out of a queen sized sheet set that I no longer use - it happens to be the right colour for the nursery decor I'm planning, plus being worn and often washed 100% cotton it is now lovely and soft. With a bit of fold over elastic (love that stuff) around the edge, they were super simple to make. Speaking of the nursery, I have spent the last two days dismantling my sewing room and cleaning it out - it was exhausting clearing out all that junk and I haven't even cleaned out the wardrobe yet (no where to put the fabric stash!)

And thanks for all the birthday wishes to my last post, especially from my sewing fairy godmothers LOL! First week of pre-baby holiday has been absolutely fantastic - sleeping in, shopping, leisurely breakfast and lunches, of course all this will end when the baby actually arrives but I'm sure I'll be too happy to care about that (fingers crossed!)
Well I was about to say thank god it's Friday, but every day is now like a weekend to me, so it doesn't matter. But to everyone else I will wish you a happy and productive weekend!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

so I'm 271,776 hours old

Yesterday was my 31st birthday, guess I'm still young enough to openly admit my age. A friend helpfully sent me a link to an age calculator which calculated that as I write this I have clocked up 271, 776 hours old, or 11,317 weeks of existance. It kinda puts the speculation about the number of hours of sewing a person does in a lifetime that Carolyn and Erin have been musing about lately into perspective doesn't it? If 10,000 hours equals expert sewing skills (I have no idea how many hours I would have by the way), what have I been doing for the other 261, 776 hours?


Anyway, yesterday turned out to be a great day. Not only was it a sunny Friday, which in itself is always a good thing, my work colleagues came up with a yummy cake for morning tea, my husband gave me a day spa gift voucher and a box of chocolates, we had some lovely lebanese food for dinner, I had a bath using some fancy products from a huge gift basket my work colleagues gave me as a going away present and I scored a foot rub from my husband without too much coercion!


Plus yesterday was my last day of work until 1 Febuary 2010, yes that's right, 2010! It's been a long time since I had stretch of unplanned time in front of me, probably about 27 years I'd say. When I was three I went to pre-school, then primary school, then high school, then uni for 5 years, then full time work with another 2 years part time stint at uni for a masters degree, and the only real time off I've had is a few 2 month holidays that I had to save holiday time for 2 years to get anyway. Not that I'll be a lady of leisure next year, with a newborn to be looked after, but my time will (mostly) be own to do as I please.


After wrapping up a few loose ends at work, I spent the afternoon cleaning up my desk because it had become a complete shambles over the last few months. Don't believe me? Check out the before photo at left, and the after photo at right:
Look at the shine on that desktop! Whilst cleaning up I found a lot of old stationery supplies gathering dust in one of my filing cabinets, left there by my predecessor which are worthy of a blog photo due to their retro styling:

However this isn't just funky retro packaging - it's the original deal! I do work in one of the oldest government departments in NSW, and we are situated in one of the early Sydney sandstone buildings, but seriously that is no excuse for having unused office supplies that must be at least 30 years old since Australia started going metric for weights and measurments from the 1970s. Although most of the people in my office are at least 20 or more years older than me, and many get the public service medal for 40 years service before they retire, so there's probably heaps more of it about the place. I'm not usually one to steal office supplies, but I figured no one would miss these so I brought them home with me.


Well the good husband is off at a bucks party tonight, so I'm having a quiet night in, baking some banana bread and watching crappy tv. Which actually is great - some peace and quiet for a change, and some uninterrupted blog reading is just what I need!

have a good weekend everyone

Thursday, 20 November 2008

refashioning past wadders

I am heartily jealous of those sewists who can give/throw away clothes they have made when they are having wardrobe cleanouts – for some reason I can never bring myself to do this and as a result I have quite of lot clothes stuffed into my wardrobe that I made but never wear because something is not quite right or they are complete & utter wadders. I am working on this though, I have started getting rid of things made from cheap or ugly fabric, salvaging the zippers and buttons etc and putting the clothes in the ever growing rag bag. The rest though, I hang on to thinking I’ll re-use the fabric, refashion it into something else or try and fix the problems to make them wearable. I never get around to doing this of course…..

But whilst I was having my hiatus on the lounge a few weeks ago when I had that pesky cold, I pulled out a pair of navy blue stretch linen pants that I made years ago but only wore a few times because they fitted badly (most of my pants do, because there is such a large difference between my waist and hips, the joys of being pear shaped!). I unpicked the waistband and zipper, and let out all the seams as much as possible, sewed on some stretch cotton knit for a waistband and voila, I have the most comfortable pants that are nice enough to wear out and about.

Well these pants had a matching jacket that I made from some long forgotten pattern, but just a standard princess seam, notched collar blazer style that was a bit longer in length so that it hit mid thigh. Because I made this years ago, my sewing skills were a little dodgy to say the least and the notched collar was pretty appalling, I didn’t line it or use the proper interfacing and it was just overall a bad look. But I absolutely love linen fabric, especially where it has a little stretch in it so I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away.

So to make it work (Tim Gunn style) I fixed the notched collar (much better now), put in some interfacing where needed, lopped off some length of the jacket and rounded the fronts off which I think is much better look on me, replaced the navy blue buttons with some light coloured timber ones, and top stitched around the edges in a caramel brown colour cotton and it’s made a world of difference:
Because it’s unlined I didn’t put in shoulder pads or a sleeve head which I think it needs because I can see that the shoulder cap collapses a little, so it may still need a little more work in that regard, but apart from that I’m pretty happy with the salvage operation. I've worn the suit with my now finished but formerly oldest UFO, because the colour matches the top stitching perfectly. Although with the matching ballet flats I'm wearing today, it's all a little matchy matchy but hey I do still work for the government and I'm not yet pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen LOL!
Too bad I left it so late to do this, because I’ll only wear it today to work and then it will go back in the cupboard for at least the next 12 months since tomorrow is my last day as an office lemming. I will keep on wearing the pants though until I lose the baby weight and they don't stay up anymore, because they are just so comfortable and much better than track suit pants.

and neighbourhood.gal I love the thought that you are talking about me to some real life friends - I tell my husband and real life friends about what blog 'friends' are up to as well, but for those who are blogless it's pretty hard to explain how you know so much about strangers who live half away across the world!

Monday, 17 November 2008

yes, I made ANOTHER dress......

It was very hot here in Sydney last week, which makes sense given that summer officially starts in just a few short weeks, so I decided to make a quick and simple shift dress after seeing a stunning woman wearing a beautiful red dress in the city the other day (not on my summer of the dress SWAP mind you). Of course she was very brown skinned, slim and wearing a great pair of tan heels which is probably what made her stand out so much, and I am very much pale, lumpy (for good reason) and still clomping around in heels, but I didn't let that hold me back. However the weather has turned cold again so no plans to wear this dress outside as yet, hence the indoor photo.

I've been in two minds about making more clothes at this point in time - I only have 4 days left of work (yipee!) and I'll probably spend most of my time between now and when bubs is due staying at home resting and wearing loose t-shirts and shorts. And I do have heaps of nice maternity clothes for the times I'll need to go out in public. But I still have the urge to create, and I have a big stash to get through so I've ploughed on regardless.

I made view 6 (pictured on the far right) of this 1970 Simplicity pattern with a few slight modifications - I slashed the front of the (traced) pattern to add a triangle shape wedge starting from under the bust to the hem to accommodate my belly bump, and I put in a side zipper instead of a centre back one to get easier access to the girls for breastfeeding (still not completely nursing friendly though) and cut the back piece on the fold instead.

I used some wonderful red linen I've had in the stash for absolutely ages, plus a zipper from the stash so effectively this dress cost me nada! Although I do need to get some nice tan or brown heels or possibly even some dressy flats for a more casual look to go with the dress, because I'll be honest and say the red heels I'm wearing in this photo are purely for this photo only and not to be worn outside in my current state! Good thing it's my birthday later this week, and my mum has promised to take me out shopping so I know exactly what I'll be looking for.....

Because this pattern only has two main pieces, facings and a couple of darts, it sewed up in no time. I didn't line it because it is quite a solid colour and the linen isn't that lightweight so I shouldn't have too much 'silhouette' see- through ness. And I finally have something to post over at Sew Retro too!

Whilst I'm on the subject of dressses, have you seen this post over Carolyn's diaryofasewingfanatic where she has aggregated all the dresses she made this year? She has made 14, yes 14, dresses to date and there's still 6 weeks to the end of the year. All of the dresses are just gorgeous too, not a wadder amongst them. So I decided to count up my tally - it turns out I've made 12 dresses, finished 3 UFO dresses and am currenlty about 50% through making another dress! That is so much more than I thought I had made, but I have worn them all so it was worth it.

Sorry Jean for getting you a bit excited on the last post - we still don't know the sex of the baby but I guess we'll be finding out soon enough. I really want a little girl because I have so much pretty fabric and patterns to make and the baby clothes I've made for my friends have really got me excited about it. However, I'd be equally delighted with a little boy and have been reviewing my stash to ensure I have enough denims and plaid fabrics to make some cute little jeans and button down shirts like his dad.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

little dresses for little ones

I'm still kicking on making dresses, only this time in miniature. Funny how there's less fabric, less sewing but making little girls clothes takes just as long as big girls clothes - it is quite fiddly making them but they turn out oh so cute so it was worth it.

My friend Lisa, a fellow town planner extraordinaire, is expecting her second child (a girl) in December, shortly before me. Lisa has been an amazing source of support for me in my first stab at this pregnancy game - no question of mine has been too silly for her and she keeps sending me all these great resources, so to thank her I decided to make her a little baby outfit for her little watermelon. I made the comfy jumper dress with bloomers from Amy Butler's Little Stitches for Little Ones, because I am still determined to get my moneys worth out of that book! This is the pattern as it appears in the book:
I made the size for 3 - 6 month olds because Lisa's first born was rather large to begin with, and he has just grown and grown since. And this way her little girl will be able to wear it in Febuary when it's still quite hot here in Sydney. It looks rather small to me, but then again I haven't dressed a baby before and I assume that Amy Butler has tested the patterns sizes on real life kids so I'll trust her judgement. I'm not a huge fan of her instructions though - I found them quite complicated, the drawings of little help and the method quite different to what I'm used to from using the Big 4 patterns. I don't want to sound obnoxious, but I think because I'm a competent sewer I found her instructions too simple to follow, so in the end I ignored them and just did what I thought would work. And it did work, so no harm done.

I made it from a soft cotton voile in a pink and light brown cherry blossom print, fully lined in pink cotton poplin because the voile was rather sheer and too light on its own. I embellished it with a gunmetal grey ribbon round the waist and some bows on the top to reduce it's overall pinkness, and it just looks adorable:


















The fabric is actually left over from the dress I made there on the left that I wore to my brother in laws wedding last December. No reason to post it here, except that I like to remember what my waistline used to look like!
Thanks for all your comments on the last post, especially Linda - please come back and post such nice comments all the time! And yes I know you're right Vicki, every time I feel huge I do see some other poor woman who is much bigger all over, including the swollen feet and fingers which I haven't really had yet so I shouldn't complain (too much anyway!).

And yes my husband is very tall - he is over 6 feet, I think 6'4 or around there? I'm average height, I think around 5'4 but I do only come up to his shoulder even in my tallest shoes, as you can see in my wedding photos I posted here. It was pretty funny when we went to China a few years ago, because he towered over all the native Chinese people and they were alternating between staring at the giant and the redhead, especially in the rural areas. I think it comes from being born in Australia, because his brother and cousins that are also Australian born are very tall, must be something to do with the food, water and quality of life.

The building works are kicking on too - the framework to the house is completed, the framework to the garage nearly done and apparently by the end of next week we should have a roof and possibly windows! If only those pesky builders didn't take so long to lay the slab they could have saved me (and hubby) a huge amount of angst..... But I always say that things usually work out alright in the end, and this looks to be the case here (fingers crossed).

The baby is also having a jolly good time kicking away in there, particularly at night time after I've managed to get comfortable and ready for sleep. So I'm guessing if there's still enough room in there for all that movement there's still a fair amount of growing left for the little monkey - eek!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

i'm still alive and kicking.....

Well after a week of solid lounge surfing, I almost feel normal again. It's funny how a simple cold really knocked me around last week, but I guess when you're pregnant every ache and pain is amplified and having a pesky cough further stretches my already stretched stomach muscles.

Anyway I finally finished sewing up my latest dress in my summer SWAP. Which is good timing because have you seen that the delightfully funny Livebird has announced December as Dressember? She has been coming up with some gorgeous dresses over at Sew Retro, including this collared full circle skirt dress and this graphic print dress, so now I feel the need to keep up with her mammoth efforts. Although, I'll be on maternity leave in December and will most likely spent most days wallowing in my pj's, but I do vow here on this blog to wear a dress whenever I do go out, and wearing a granny nightie whilst in labour still counts as a sort of dress, right?

So back to the latest dress, I actually finished it about two weeks ago but wasn't overly happy with how it turned out so I had to do some adjustments. I used dress pattern 117 from the BWOF 5/08 magazine, and made a simple modification by adding extra width to the front piece to cater for my now ginormous belly (which you can see in red line below, how high tech am I?)

This is such a simple dress, having two pattern pieces and three lengths of ribbon but on my first sewing up of this dress I didn't gather enough of the extra width below the centre front ribbon so it was very shapeless, and I also found it to be waaaaay too low cut, which is typical for BWOF styles. So I had to take the ribbon off (it was just topstitched on anyway), gather it a bit more and sew the ribbon on, which now gives it a much nicer shape. And because I wanted this dress to be nursing friendly, I actually used buttons to join the ribbon straps to the front instead of sewing them down, so it was a simple matter of moving the buttons to hoik the dress up a bit in the front. And here's the final product:

It's made from a cotton voile purple leaf print (not stalks of corn as I'm sure it looks) on grey background with little green lines through it, bought some time ago from Spotlight (at least 2 years ago?). The ribbon straps are made from some navy blue grosgrain ribbon that came from a Crabtree and Evelyn gift basket that my husband once gave to me (note to husband who sometimes reads this: another one of those gift baskets wouldn't go unthanked!). Funnily enough a navy blue ribbon was just right for the colours of the dress:

In other good news, our lazy builders finally poured the concrete slabs for the house extension, and even started the framework. They still claim it will be done by Christmas, but I won't believe it until I see it, because they are certainly the little boy that cried wolf! So now our disaster zone still looks like a disaster zone, but there is progress:

And in even better news, I only have 9 days left of work before I start maternity leave. I actually have two weeks to go, but being a true public servant I am taking a flex day next Tuesday LOL.

Vireya - I got my tax return early last week which is impressive for the ATO at this time of the year, although I only got $180 back so perhaps Vicki I should see a professional like yourself! My tax is so simple (one source of income only) that I've always just done it myself, whereas my husband has such complicated tax affairs he sends off a whole box of papers and scored a pretty good refund. But next year our tax affairs will be merged because of the family tax benefits and the like, so I guess my days of lax accounting are over.....

I've just noticed that the photo of the dress above makes me look a lot smaller than I am (which is good), but here is a belly shot taken today with my scruffy husband who is trying to grow a mo for Movember:

Check out that belly! If my husband wasn't pointing in a helpful manner you would never have guessed, right? And you can see why I think this baby is going to be huge - my husband is a giant and I was a 9 pound something baby!

Monday, 3 November 2008

me and my big mouth.....

well there I was last post happily blathering on about having the perfect pregnancy thus far, so I guess I invite the gods of irony to kick my butt for it! After a sweltering hot day on Friday where I felt fine at work during the day, I developed a nasty head cold by Friday night. No big deal, except things got much much worse on Saturday and I thought I actually had the flu which would have been majorly bad 'cos there's not much you can take when you are preggers. My whole body ached, not just my hips, back, legs and arms but also my face (cheekbones, jaws and temples) and more alarmingly my chest had a constant ache whicch hurt so much more when I laid down. So I spent most of Saturday night walking around the house and sitting on the lounge alternating between being wrapped in a blanket because I was hot then cold then hot again.

The good news is that after some soup, copious amounts of orange juice and staying inside all weekend that the worst of it subsided and now I'm back to having a pesky head cold: runny nose and eyes, sore throat and general unhappiness. But I'll survive, it's no biggy just unpleasantness. But my husband did not cope well at all - he wanted to take me to hospital at one stage (yeah for a cold, I'd imagine the doctors in emergency would be really impressed with that!). So I've told him he needs to calm down and prepare for the labour, 'cos I don't need a drama queen for that!

Speaking of labour, thank you all so much for your comments on the last post. I agree with you all totally, I know that thousands of women give birth every day and have done for millions of years, it's a natural process, the body is made for, and so on. I don't know why some women make such a big deal of it that they get so scared and stressed, and then they come up with these ridiculous birth plans and get even more stressed and disappointed when they can't stick to them. I intend to go with the flow, hopefully have as least intervention as possible but I will take whatever advice the midwives and doctors give me depending on how the labour turns out. Or maybe I'll fall apart and the hospital will have two drama queens on their hands LOL.

So anyway no sewing done again this weekend, but I did do some 'unsewing' whilst I was ensconced on the lounge. I unpicked the waistband and let out the side seams from a pair of (formerly) loose fitting navy blue linen pants, and I'll sew on an elasticised waistband so I can wear them maternity and post maternity. I have a matching jacket somewhere around here that I may dig out so I can wear them to work in the next three (yipee!) weeks, but they will be good for nice casual pants so I'm not too concerned about that.

And because I don't like posting without a picture, here is a hilarious cartoon I saw on a crafty blog (Brassy Apple) that I stalk, which I'm sure we can all relate to: