Friday, January 30, 2015

One Thimble magazine: Firefly Dress

I've been working on this project for a couple of weeks. In fact, this project has taken me longer to complete than any other project I've made, with the exception of the three sets of enormous curtains I made last year. I'm glad to finally be finished so I can gush about it!

This project ticks two boxes on my resewlution list:
- use fabric from my stash only
- give handmade gifts
And this wasn't on my list, but I want to try out patterns that I've never used before, instead of sticking to ones I've already used.

This dress is by Boo! Designs Patterns. Kristie is an Australian pattern designer and she has some amazing patterns for kids. I hope to get some more soon!

The dress features bodice ruffles, a huge sash, mitred neck binding, and a button down back. It is marked as an intermediate level pattern. At first I thought it was too hard for an intermediate sewer, but it isn't really. There are a million little steps, but each one is explained in great detail. The ruffles themselves took me about 2 hours- mostly because I wanted them to be perfect, so I took my time. 

There are also heaps of pieces. The bodice is made up of a front, side fronts, back, side backs, sash middle, sash, two ruffles, and neck binding. I did find the binding really tricky at first, but it was explained so well that it didn't take me long to figure out. 

Although this dress took ages to sew, it was a really pleasant project to make. I never complete a project on the day I start it- I like to do an hour here and there over the course of a week or two. Due to all the steps, it was easy to do one big step or a few small ones in a one to two hour sitting, then simply pick up where I left off the next night.

Everything was from my stash, with the exception of the grosgrain ribbon on the hem- I saw this in a discount store the other day and couldn't resist it. And anyway, I'm only banned from buying fabric, not other bits and bobs :p
The main fabric is some lovely lightweight cotton- voile or lawn- that I have had in my stash for about 4 years. I will be making a couple of blouses for myself with the rest of it. The pink polka dotted stuff is something I bought to use as a coordinating fabric some time last year. And the third fabric, used for the smaller ruffle, is a lovely Robert Kauffman with gold outlines around the flowers. It is absolutely stunning. It came in a bag of fabric my friend gave me and there was only a really tiny cut of it. I think this was the perfect way to use it and show it off. I have enough to make some kind of matching hair adornment.

All in all, I really loved making this dress, and I cannot wait to see the look on my daughter's face when I give this to her on her birthday in two weeks!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Our newest family member

This is totally not sewing related, but I was just over on another blog where the lovely lady was showing off her new dog, and I think it's nice to blog about something other than sewing once in a while :)

Our old Husky x Akita, Jasper, was 14 years old when we made the extremely difficult decision to have him put to sleep in September. He could barely walk, was completely deaf, and wasn't even interested in his food any more. He had been part of our family for 9 years- before that, he was my dad's, and my dad asked me to take care of his best mate when he learned he was terminally ill. The above pictures are Jasper as a pup, and then on the day before he passed.

I knew that I wanted to get another dog as soon as possible because there was just something missing when Jasper left. My husband told me in no uncertain terms that I'd have to wait until after Christmas as we were going away for a week just before Christmas. However, I was Facebooking on the toilet one day (as you do) and this photo popped up on the Animal Welfare League page.


I knew straight away that I had to have her. Akitas are so rare around here- I've only ever seen 3 others- and I couldn't believe there was another dog who was the same breed combination as dear old Jasper! I begged my husband and he reluctantly agreed.

 After many phone calls to the AWL, who couldn't really tell me anything about her or whether she was actually available for adoption or foster, we picked her up the next day. She is the sweetest thing you could ever meet. I've never met a more affectionate dog in my life! And she's very vocal...she talks like Chewbacca when she wants a walk or a belly tickle, and yelps like a maniac when we come home! Best of all, she loves running...she's the cutest running buddy a girl could ever have!

We did discover why she was surrendered to the pound...she is a serial escape artist. She got out 3 times and it was very worrying, not to mention expensive paying impound fees! Since my hubby put up dog mesh along the back fence in late November, we've had no more incidents.

She also loves the kids and other dogs.

Her name was originally Shyla but I thought it was a bit of a bogan name (for the non-Aussies, a bogan is the equivalent of a redneck) so we changed it to Shiloh. Like the Neil Diamond song :)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Stash bustin': funky new chair!

This is not sewing at all, but it did use up some of my stash fabric. It's probably not even deserving of its own blog post, but I'm going to do it anyway!

The chair in my sewing/music teaching room was looking very boring and black. Someone in one of the groups I'm in on Facebook posted a picture of their office chair that they'd covered, and it sounded so easy that I decided to give it a try.

I've had this hideous music fabric for about a year. I bought 2 metres of it with the intention of making a dress. What the hell was I thinking? It's so fugly. But for this project, it's perfect!

All I did was remove the back and seat sections with a Philip's head screwdriver, pop off the black plastic backing, place the parts down on my fabric and cut around them with my rotary cutter (giving myself a 3 inch seam allowance), then staple-gunned the fabric to the chair parts, pulling it nice and tight and using tons of staples.

Easy peasy! Brand new chair for nothing!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

One Thimble e-magazine

Late last year, I discovered a wonderful newish Australian publication- One Thimble sewing magazine. I'm not normally a fan of digital magazines, but Australia pretty much has no decent sewing magazines and I thought I'd buy one issue to see what I thought. The verdict? I'm hooked!

One Thimble has lots of great articles aimed at both the home sewist and the small sewing business owner. There are hints and tips as well. The best art is the PDF patterns that come with each issue. The patterns come from a variety of Australian indie pattern designers.

Most of the patterns are for children's clothing, apparel and toys. I don't sew a lot for my children, so this is a good excuse for me to make more things for them!

The first pattern I decided to try was the Mem Rose skirt pattern, by Ainslee Fox Boutique Patterns. It features a shaped front yoke, side ties, and back elastic.

This is for my friend's daughter's birthday. She's not really into typical girly patterns or colours and I thought this collection of fabrics would be just perfect. Unfortunately, I only had a fat quarter of each of these fabrics, so I had to do some maths to get the two 90cm wide panels for the skirt sections. I used a combination of 30cm and 15cm wide panels of each different fabric.

This skirt was a joy to sew and I had no dramas with it at all. I can't wait to make one for my daughter.
I also made a little yoyo to go on a coordinating t shirt, plus a bow hair tie. I think it's a super cute little ensemble!

Also in this issue were these cute softies. They are aimed at children (as in, for children to sew), but I think my kids a still a bit little at four and six years old and with no prior sewing experience.

They cut out their own pattern pieces, and helped me pin the pieces to the fabric and did some fabric cutting. They did some sewing but only on the ears, arms and legs- the minky fabric they chose is really tricky to sew with. I had to put my walking foot on to stop the layers moving around.

The kids had fun stuffing all the bits with hobby fill. They are completely in love with the finished result- Elizabeth has been carrying hers around with her everywhere she goes!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Stash bustin'!

I have one major resolution with regard to my sewing this year, and that is to use up all or most of the fabric in my stash before I buy any new fabric.

Here is (most of) my fabric stash as it stands today. Yeah, it's really, really messy. I promise I will tidy it up.

In this basket are small cuts (1metre or less) of girly fabrics. Usually when I make something for my daughter, I'll use fabrics from here.

Small cuts of boyish fabrics and overflow from the girly basket. My son doesn't really like handmade clothes so I will need to be creative to use this all up.

On this shelf is all of my dress fabric. Mostly cottons except for the far right which are mostly polyester. I have many fabrics here that I have been saving for ages until I find the perfect pattern- notably the black cherry sateen and the watercolour sateen under it.

Here are corduroys and denims. Far out, I didn't realise how messy my fabric was!
I will be putting a huge dent in this shelf come winter time.

Various crap here, including cotton sheeting, black suiting, drill, crepe, old sheets, and poplin.

This is my top shelf. You are probably thinking, "Why has she got shitty old sheets?" Well, instead of throwing out old sheet sets when they start to get a bit threadbare, or the fitted sheets have lost their elastic, they go here to be used for making muslins or to be used as linings. They are nice and soft and don't need to be pre washed so it works well! 

Also here are various home decor cottons, some fleece, and some flannelettes.

So, that's what I need to get rid of! Hopefully by the end of this year, the 'after' photos will look very different!

I have a few little projects to blog about over the next week or so. Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 in review

I quite like doing these end-of-year roundup posts. I don't count my projects as I complete them through the year so I really have no idea of how many makes I completed. I do know that I pretty much did nothing on my new year's re-sew-lution list. Whoops!

To start off, here's what I made in 2014:

Elizabeth's birthday dress

Husband's brthday shirt

Hidey Hole mouse

New Look 6000

Mummy and daughter farm skirts
Apple Mouse for Jimmy
Shorts for Jimmy
Ottobre magazine shorts for Jimmy
Sewaholic Thurlow shorts
Christine Haynes Emery dress
Emery #2
Emery with New Look 6000 sleeves
Simplicity 2154 blouse and cardi
Mish Mash Dress
Sewaholic Renfrew top

Self drafted skirt for Elizabeth
Sewaholic Renfrew dress
Sewaholic Renfrew dress
Jiffy dress

Lisette Traveller dress
New Look 6176 linen shift dress
Lisette Round Trip dress
Lisette Round Trip dress
Summer dressing gown
Kitschy Koo skater dresses for Elizabeth
Elizabeth's Christmas dress

Christmas dress

 I'm pretty pleased that I made 12 items for other people. I am a pretty selfish sewist, so it's good that I took the time to make things for other people. Damn, I just realised I forgot to photograph the scarf and bag I made my sister in law!!!

18 makes for myself. I tried out 8 new patterns this year, and made a few of those multiple times because I like them so much. I becamse more patient with my sewing and tried not to set myself deadlines. I took the time to finish my hems nicely, using either machine or hand blind hem for most of my dresses, and made sure my zippers were inserted neatly. I'm pretty proud of the quality of my sewing compared to last year, but I still have a long way to go!

Hits and Misses

 - The mouse toys that I made the kids for their birthdays- they both sleep with them every night.
- Floral Emery- this gets worn on a regular basis and works well in any season.
- Black Renfrew top- I lived in this in winter. So, so comfy and I can't wait to make more.
- Linen shift dress- I can't wait to make this pattern again, and use linen again. It's so lovely.
- Lisette Round Trip dresses- especially the Eiffel Tower one. I just adore this style of dress.

- New Look 6000- This style of dress is just not me. Too tight. I only wore it twice all year.
- Shirt for my husband- it just looks home made.The fit is far too baggy.
-Groovy retro car print shorts for Jimmy- even though these are awesome, he refuses to wear them. Says they are too long. I suspect he just doesn't  like them because I made them.

This year I have a few goals.

1) Do not buy ANY fabric. I have shelves and drawers full of fabric and need to use it all up.
2) Make more casual clothes as I hardly have any. Pretty much all I own is dresses and exercise gear. I need plain skirts, solid coloured blouses, and casual dresses.
3) Make gifts. I can't really make gifts for Jimmy's friends but I will try to make a simple skirt or dress every time Elizabeth is invited to a birthday party.
4) Try to take better pictures for my blog.

So that's it! So long, 2014, hellooooo 2015!!!