Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Who? Me? (AKA a bloggy hop)

Are you sick of seeing these posts yet? I'm not sure where this current blog hop originated, I'm not sure anyone else does either (!) but I'm so very much enjoying getting to know a bit more about the bloggers I love.

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting the gorgeous Myra of my-zee-moo at Frocktails in Sydney some weeks ago. So when Myra asked if I'd agree to be "hopped" I was so very chuffed that I said "why of course, I'm sure there are oodles of readers out there just waiting for my little getting to know you post" (kidding). So in case you're still tuned in here 'tis.

Why do you write?

I'm one of those people who always think it'd be cool to keep a journal. I go out and buy an awesomely cute, visually appealing notebook, and last like one day - two days max. I just have no discipline whatsoever. Or perhaps it's that writing a "dear diary" entry feels a bit contrived for me and it never sat quite right.

Then a couple of years ago, looking for some free baby girl dress patterns for my newly popped baby girl I discovered blogs. Awesome, interesting, often funny and self-effacing, I found myself obsessed hooked. I had found a little community that were in many ways, just like me, and I wanted in.

After some seriously dedicated stalking blog reading I decided that perhaps I had something to say too. Nothing terribly clever or witty, but I wanted to share my makes and create some relationships with like-minded individuals, even if just on screen.

I've been sewing since I was about 8 or 9, learning on my Mum's old Singer machine. Then taking Textiles and Design at school, designing and creating my own gowns for year 10 and 12 formals. Taking a little hiatus when it suddenly seemed uncool to make your own clothes and then gleefully rediscovering the bug and this community years later. Rarely have I ever found anyone in real life who can share my goofy excitement and appreciate the work that creating entails.

My blog is a bit "notebook" (keeping track of changes or alterations I've made to garments/patterns in case I want to sew it again) and a bit about establishing a relationship and dialogue with other creators out there who just "get it", and therefore, generally get me.

What are you working on?

I'm beginning to realise I'm not at all like some incredible bloggers. I don't have more than one project on the go at any one time. I just don't have the time and I think that'd just make me anxious! This winter in particular has been especially challenging. What with work, blah, blah, family, blah blah and study (what on earth was I thinking?) my creating has taken a serious hit. It's enough just to keep upright sometimes. Sewing has just felt like an additional straw that might very well break this camel's back...

And so...

Ugh... my poor, poor Alder. I had such high hopes of keeping up with Jen's sewalong and actually getting this make done. It's getting done... albeit at a pace a little slower than a snail's.

But check out the awesome start I've made!

How's that for topstitching?

I'm halfway through the collar and then it's buttonholes and hems and I'm done. I think it's the brainpower required to get that collar looking right that has really done me in. But I'll get there.

In terms of plans... remember my plan to have no plans? Well that's working real well for me! But possibly means I'm getting nothing done.

I've definitely got a Bombshell swimsuit planned for summer in the awesome lycra below..

Sigh.. so pretty

And remember this ridiculous silk twill? Ridiculously beautiful that it is...

I'm planning to use it for the gathered version of the Alder shirt dress. Yeah, yeah, get the first one finished first Jillian, I know what you're all thinking. But a girl can dream.

Other than that, I see a few more Japanese patterns made up. I am rather a fan.

How does it differ from others of its genre?

For a start I am totally not one of the cool kids. The ones that make sewing and creating their life's work, and who's blogs I devour ravenously (I just had a thought, perhaps if I stopped obsessively reading I'd carve out time and energy for actually creating! Huh!). I won't be asked to pattern test. I won't be purchasing every newly released indie pattern. I won't be scrabbling to join in with sewalongs at every opportunity (sorry Alder...). I'm not trying to create my entire wordrobe.

I am who I am. A bit of a sewer, a bit of a raveller and increasingly more unravelled. I row my own boat, try not to worry that if I am conspicuously absent from my blog that the online (and recently IRL. Yay Frocktails!) relationships I've created and nurtured will not completely disintegrate with my absence.

If you like a bit of sewing, and a bit of winter knitting, then perhaps you'll like looking at and reading about my creations. At least I hope you do.

How does your writing process work?

What process? You mean I have to have a process? Is that where I've been going wrong?

Everything I make, makes it to this here blog. From the moment I choose a pattern, to purchasing fabric, sewing seams to finishing touches, I am writing my post in my head. Occasionally that means scribbling some witty aside onto a scrunched up receipt at the bottom of my handbag, so I won't forget it later. Witty asides are not known to come thick and fast in these here parts.

After taking my finished garment shots I'll cull to the few I see making it to the blog and use a combo of the photos to guide my writing as well as those witty asides, pattern review tidbits, alterations made and lessons learned.

I generally wait until I'm in the right head space and the writing then seems to flow so very much more easily.

So that's it folks. I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about me.

Onwards and upwards (AKA who's next?)

I have followed Debbie's blog Lily Sage & Co for ages now. Now Debbie is definitely one of the cool kids. Have you seen her stuff? I want to be Debbie when I grow up. I'm not even kidding. I might have squealed when she agreed to let me hop to her. It was very embarrassing.

And Sasha of Fruits, Flower & Clouds. I have only more recently discovered Sasha's blog. I want to live in her wardrobe, and probably her country/city/town. Sasha had me with her Jacques Pants and then everything else on her blog was a bonus. Did I also mention she's incredibly sweet?

So it's over to you ladies. I look forward to getting to know you both better!

Monday, 18 August 2014

I have my very own label!

It was my birthday last week and I got the coolest gift from the hubby.

With no prompting or even having spoken about my secret desire to get some woven garment labels to insert into my me-mades, hubby outdid himself and produced these.

I feel a bit cray-cray with an almost overwhelming desire to stick these babies in everything I've ever made, the entire back-catalogue. But I'll resist because that all feels a little narcissistic and self-congratulatory.

P did a pretty good job picking the colour and text without any input from me. TBH, I'd probably have chosen a different colour combo, but credit where it's due, P was trying to match the coral colour in my blog header. Choices were limited however and candy pink it is.

You might recognise that denim from my in-progress Alder - yep I'm up to speed with the sewalong.

I've performed my SBA on the pattern and have cut all pieces ready to go. I believe today's sewalong will see the button bands, darts and pocket placement completed. The pattern and instructions are perfectly adequate to get going by myself, but I'm really interested to see how Jen tackles some steps, so I'm happy to keep with the program.

In the meantime, I'm off to work out exactly how I prefer these babies sewn in... tight zigzag, gappy zig-zag or something else altogether?

P.S. In Australia and want your own?

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Alder-Along? Don't mind if I do!

Have you ever had an occasion when a new pattern is released and you've believed fervently that the designer made it specifically for you, reading your hopes, your dreams and everything in between. Oh Jen, you've truly done it.

Truly, madly, deeply do I love this pattern: The Alder Shirtdress.

Image Source
Maybe you love everything that comes out from the Indie or Big 4 market. I have to say, rarely if ever does anything truly take my fancy. I think perhaps it's why I've swayed towards vintage patterns in the past - they suit my aesthetic and body type.

Or sometimes a pattern will pique my interest, then I find out it's drafted for a C (!) cup and little old me ain't ever gonna go to the trouble of downsizing that baby - it would all but mean a re-drafting, ugh.

But this dress, oh my, you are perfection. I love both your views, A and B. I love all the additional variations Jen has suggested are possible. And I will have one for my own.

If you haven't heard, there is an Alder Dress Sew-Along starting tomorrow, and I will be catching that train. Will you?

I already have my fabric prepped, pattern purchased and view choice sorted.

View A, in a deep indigo blue mid-weight rigid denim - it is still winter over here and I envisage wearing this with knee boots and a cardigan or long sleeved tee underneath (or maybe both) right now and on its own for trans-seasonal wear. So in other words I'm completing ripping off Jen's View A above.

I've made Jen's Tiny Pocket Tank before and it marked my first foray into completing a SBA. So I know pretty much exactly what size to pick and how to alter the bust darts to fit me. My Tiny Pocket Tank was quite a triumph in that regard. Jen does say she'll be covering how to choose a size, so I'll be reading that with a lot of interest. I really wanna get this baby right as I have no time for a muslin.

And if all goes to plan I see at least two more for summer in both views A and B (which is eerily similar to a RTW dress I bought last summer and adore).

Squeee! I'm so excited!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Because who doesn't need a crocheted granny square vest??

...Especially when you are off to mount your horse.

Sometimes you hit gold. Sometimes you enter that op shop with something else entirely on your agenda, but find yourself with a smile a mile wide.

The motherlode of knitting patterns from the 50's, 60's and 70's. Thank you Betty, whoever and wherever you are.

This is but a small sub-selection of the entire load I nabbed. And wait for it... all for the ridiculous price of $1. That's right. Not $1 each, but $1 total!! There's something like a few hundred patterns here contained in 20 odd pattern books.

I grabbed them all because they are actually full of some great basic and timeless patterns and I do in fact see myself using them to knit up a whole stack of things over the next several decades.

But boy do they have some entertainment value, immersing one in the the most iconic fashions of the time. Let's begin... 70's anyone?

I mean I know my hubby needs a beautifully hand crocheted, contrast trimmed and belted tunic for when he's tending the helm of our timber canal boat. How about yours?

Well hello handsome, you really are quite the looker in your lovingly crafted vest, sipping your amber ale.

A little lurex anyone? Oh yeah, take me to the disco.

And this poor lass, she looks a bit apprehensive doesn't she? This totally makes me think of a very special hair salon cape. I still remember my awesome knitted/crocheted green and white poncho from when I was about 5. I loved that thing so much I never took it off.

This one nearly made me wanna go back.

Don't you just wanna be her? No? Just me?

But then the 70's/80's did throw up some lovely numbers I can actually see myself in, with a few modifications.
 Love it! In the right colours, it could be cute.

And this...

...I'd totally keep knitting the sleeves to full length and be happy as a pig in mud. Love that neckline.

And now for some humorous photo captions... I mean really?

 What's she waiting for??

Brave? Is she about to be attacked my a mountain lion? Well, this cardigan will certainly help!

I need to admit I cannot crochet for love nor money. I tried once and it was ugly. But these, these make me want to find someone who can...

 Dresses of awesome.

And this skirt? It's a must have.

Now, I'm off to knit hubby and I matching Mad Men sweaters.

Saturday, 19 July 2014


Yay! I finally finished something this winter. It was looking doubtful but it happened!

May I introduce my "quick win", the Libby skirt.

Have you ever been in a crafting funk where nothing seems to grab you for long and when something does grab you it simply does not move at a pace that keeps you really engaged? I've been in one of those. This year has shaped up to be incredibly demanding, and has left so very little time for anything extraneous at all. And as much as we'd all like to think sewing and knitting are not extraneous, the reality is sometimes they truly are.

My knitting progress has ground almost to a halt. Knitting takes time dudes. Serious time. Hours daily I just don't have anymore.

But then a few little things happened that propelled me forward.

1. I saw Rachel's awesome Libby skirt and just had to have it. Sorry Rachel! I know this skirt isn't quite the same, but I loved yours so very much that it certainly comes close. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? I so hope you think so Rachel.

2. I spent a wonderful half hour or so at Tessuti in Surry Hills chatting with the very gorgeous and generous Colette. And it just made me feel all happy and energised. Thank you Colette!

I knew I was going to make the Libby skirt, I happened to be close to Surry Hills with a bizarrely free hour, and so I thought I'd check out my fabric options at Tessuti. I had black brocade on the brain. And what do you know?? Score!

A gorgeous black baroque brocade in a cotton/elastane/acrylic mix. It goes by the name Fleur de Noir and was clearly a popular fabric as there was hardly any left, and only at Surry Hills. It's very stretchy, and the awesomely free Libby is designed for wovens, but Colette gave me a tonne of sizing advice and assistance, suggesting sizing down to account for stretchy give.

I must admit I actually went against the advice and I'm unsure how it will stand up to stretching out with wear.

I ended up sizing according to my measurements: 8 at the waist and graded out to a "9" at the hip (ie between the 8 and 10) and the fit is spot on. The waist is a little big so it sits a little lower than it's supposed to, but I prefer it lower. I stabilised the waistline by sewing cotton tape into the seam allowance at the waistline of the skirt and also block interfacing the facing (this part is standard).

I lined the skirt with fire red bemsilk which is not stretchy and I figured this would help avoid the outer becoming distorted. I've never lined a skirt before and Colette suggested I attach the lining to the waistband facing, but in the end I sandwiched it between the facing and outer skirt at the waistline. I simply pleated out the excess where the back darts are and it all fit beautifully. Love the feel of a lined skirt. I'm going to line everything now.

The fabric is verrrrrryyyyyy thick and with the skirt, facing, cotton tape and lining, turning the waistline and topstitching it was very difficult - it's seriously thick up there! Somehow it doesn't look bulky though - result!

I picked the mini version and super-mini'ed it! Too mini?? I removed a couple of inches in length and I'm hoping it doesn't make me look like a hoochimumma. Be nice everyone. I knew I'd wear this with flat boots and opaques and I think it works...

But it was soooooo bitchin' freezing with awesome gale force winds taking these photos that upon finishing I immediately changed into my trusty jeans, boots and jumper. I just can't get warm this winter. Anyone else feeling the same?

Freezing my ass off for the blog. Ahhhh the things we do.