Wednesday, 31 December 2008

this waiting is driving me nutso

Thank you all for your reassuring comments and well wishes, I think you're all as excited as I am at this point in time! Well, I've waited patiently for nine months, but these last 6 days have been abominable...... I feel like I'm in limbo, I don't want to start a new project or venture too far from home in case things start happening, but I'm going stir crazy just sitting around - especially since my husband keeps asking incessantly 'are you feeling anything yet?'. Yeah, I feel like kicking you in the pants next time you ask that!

I saw my ob this morning, baby's heartbeat is fine, there is still plenty of fluid in there, baby is head and face down and I am 1cm dilated. Which means it's started but by no means in full swing, especially as I haven't felt any contractions, pain or other symptoms. I'll be induced on Monday if this litle one doesn't come before then.






So.......my bag is packed and ready to go (since christmas morning actually)......



......the baby's room is ready, well almost finished since the new window frame needs painting, I need to get a table and lamp to put next to the chair for breastfeeding and I want to hang a mobile over the change table but I doubt the baby will notice any of that:

























even Oscar has been bathed and is patiently waiting to see what is going to go in the cot:

and the baby? well the naughty little monkey is still firmly inside, and my belly is bigger than I ever imagined it could get:

Although at the clinic this morning I saw many women who were waaaaay bigger than I am, so I shouldn't really complain. But I must be off to drink more raspberry leaf tea, do some power walking/waddling, have a hot curry for dinner, make my husband press the pressure points in my feet and do whatever other wacky things I can turn up on the internets in an attempt to avoid an induction on Monday.

Hope you all have a happy, exciting and safe New Year's Eve, and that your new year's day isn't too painful! And to all American readers, why aren't the parties in LA 'hot' enough for Paris Hilton to stay there? I'm sick of hearing about her on the radio, the tv news and the newspaper, surely there is more interesting things happening in the world other than what Paris is doing?

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

year of trying to live with less stuff

in an effort to dislodge this procrastinating baby out of its home, I've been trying to keep as active and moving around as much as possible. My husband and I went to a museum where I watched the frazzled mothers trying to keep control of their boisterous kids, and no doubt they were looking at me thinking 'just you wait!'. We've also wandered through the crowded shopping centres checking out the post christmas sales but honestly this year I'm a bit 'meh' about shopping and didn't buy anything at all. Sure things are heavily discounted, but nothing appealed at all.

Maybe it's because my body and feet are too fat to try anything on, but I'm hoping it's more because I'm over accumulating stuff. I'm starting to feel seriously claustrophobic in our half house with all of our posessions crammed in while building works are going on, and I finally managed to move the last of my stash out of the baby's room and literally into nearly every other room of my house including several large bags at my parents house (I realise how much I actually have now which made partly ashamed but mostly deliriously happy!). I'm sure there will be an avalanche of things coming in to the house with the new baby, plus we'll be buying a few big ticket items (new lounge suite and tv) we've been putting off buying for a few years until we had finished renovating, so I'm going to make it my personal mission to reduce the amount of things that I personally buy and bring into this house for me at least. One step at a time I guess!

So what does this all mean? Well:
1. I know we all say this at one point in time, but a key thing for me this year will be buying less fabric and using more of my fabric and notions stash. I know I can probably hold off on buying fabric retail, but I may waiver when it comes to op shops and garage sales! But I am going to limit myself to buying new fabric only for project specific requirements if the stash doesn't hold what I need (but that's unlikely) but I'm also going to plan future projects on fabric and patterns I already have to minise this happening.

2. Finish off my UFOs because they represent a waste of my time, money and space plus they are a lost opportunity for a new outfit. Although some of these will depend on regaining my previous body measurments to make them work.

3. Refashion even more clothes this year than last, because I have a huge collection of clothes from my gran and other sources that just need a tweaking to give them a fresh start at life.

4. Use up toiletries and cosmetics before buying new ones - I can't believe how many barely used bottles of bath gels, moisturisers, sun screens, eyeshadows etc that are accumulating in my bathroom!

5. For every thing that comes into the house, I'm going to try to get one thing out either to someone who will love it or to a charity shop.

So whilst I'm sitting around waiting, I put number 3 on the list into action and refashioned a stretched out white t-shirt into a front opening nursing friendly top by cutting it open down the centre front, sewing on a placket from scrap fabric, added some fabric around the armbands for decoration and put on some big white buttons from the stash. And now I have a top to match some pyjamas bottoms I made recently at no cost to me:



From this, a stretched out white cotton t-shirt that has seen better days but isn't ready for the rag bag yet...
















.....to this, a sweet new top to match some pyamas bottoms

















Also now that christmas is done and dusted I can share with you the presents I made. For my mum I made some loose black linen elastic waist pants and a jacket made from a cotton sateen in a black and white chrysantheum print that I bought from Spotlight eons ago. I used Simplicity 3874 for the jacket, which I've made three times before for myself in red, as part of a skirt suit and from a repurposed curtain. I added a self covered large button and a ribbon loop enclosure because it does sit better when closed, and I used the black linen for the contrast fabric to match it to the pants.
























I also whipped up this quick bag (no pattern, just winged it) instead of using wrapping paper to present it to my mum. It's from a small piece of home dec fabric I had in the stash bought from an op shop and lined with some grey cotton also from the stash. It turned out pretty good since I didn't use a pattern, I basically just folded the fabric in half and squared off the bottom, and added a top band and handles:


For my husband I made a small bag for his golf tees (again no pattern just a rectangle with a zipper), and a larger bag for his golf shoes using this simple box bag tutorial over at dragon[knit]fly blog. The black fabric is some leftover black cotton from the stash, the shoe bag is lined with a plastic coated bag that came free with the Sunday newspaper last year for runners in the City to Surf 14km 'fun run' (the biggest oxymoron I've ever heard). I added some red and grey bias trim to match the colour scheme of his golf bag and he was suitably impressed:

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

one more sleep to go!

till Christmas that is, because I am pretty sure it's going to be a few more sleeps until this baby makes it's way into the world. I saw my doctor this morning and the baby is still at 3/5 position, we are both healthy and fine but it's more than likely a little bit longer before we make our acquaintence on the OUTSIDE!!!!!

I swear I haven't been posting due to lack of interesting activity around here, not to keep you all in suspense LOL. I did make these cute artwork for the baby's room - I couldn't bear to cut up sewing pattern envelopes so I scanned a few child ones, cut them out and stuck them on brown paper with a fabric covered mat and voila, I think they're pretty cute:


I braved our local Westfield shopping centre yesterday to get some last minute bits and bobs, and very cleverly caught the bus so I just skipped (alright, waddled) past all the people waiting in their cars to get into the carpark, let alone find a parking space. It's only about 15 minutes to the shopping centre so I figured I'd be safe if anything started happening, and besides I had to get out of the house because the builders were making so much noise excavating the backyard to put drainage lines in (plus listening to their stupid swear word filled yelled conversations was getting annoying too). And then the builders had the hide to be really proud of 'all' the work they had done, and I was like it's only 3pm, you haven't even finished you've got nothing to be proud of, especially when there's a big drainage grate in the middle of my yard (which I'm not happy about):


Alright ranting over, it's christmas eve and we should be sharing love and good will around, but personally I've always been a bit of bah humbug person but maybe this will change when I'm a mum. Time to get a few last minute christmas things sewn up today, maybe baking some more of these fabulous chocolate and mint cookies that Jean shared the recipe over at her blog - Jean I'm blaming you for at least a few kilos of my whopping weight gain this pregnancy! The doctor weighed me for the first time this pregnancy and I've put on nearly 20kgs eeek (yes mum you were right, I should have been more careful in what I've been eating...)

Speaking of which, thanks Elizabethe for valiantly defending my preggers body shape, but I thought mooimadeit's comment rather funny - I do feel absolutely huge (but thankfully no twins) and these days I am more likely to be slothing on the lounge than standing around being productive.

In other good news - Oscar the sooky dog is much better now but he did get quite sick because his ear got a little infected and he had to spend the day at the vets under sedation while they did a little work on him, but for all his troubles he's going to get a bath later today because he's a little whiffy.

And in even better news for Sydneysiders and online fabric shoppaholics - the Tessuti store is starting it's sale on 27 Dec - yay Collette! Although I bet this little monkey will choose that day to come on out and deprive me of fabric goodness.......

Finally, I promise to let y'all (sorry I've been watching too much Dr Phil lately) know when bub has arrived - I will try and coach husband in the ways of blogging!

Merry christmas everyone!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

the last of my maternity clothes

Well with only a week or so to go before this baby makes it's way into the world, I guess it's time to stop sewing maternity clothes. But since I'm at home with plenty of time on my hands I decided to do some last minute maternity sewing. First up is a shirt which was my husband's but I pulled it apart a few months ago to refashion it into a shirt for me. It came close to becoming a maternity UFO, surely the worst kind because it would be years before I have need to finish it if I didn't do it now! Plus I had bought a maternity pattern earlier this year at a sale which I never used, so I wanted to use at least one of the patterns from it.

The pattern is Simplicity 4704, which is one of the few button front maternity shirt patterns offered up by the Big 4. I left off the ties at the back because that look is a bit naff but put some darts instead to give it some shaping (there is so much ease in the back of this shirt), and I also re-used the collar and cuffs of the original shirt to save some unpicking and sewing. I also kept the front placket, buttons and buttonholes of the original shirt so this was rather quick to sew up in the end. The original shirt itself was plenty big because my husband likes to wear his shirts loose, so it was quite easy to cut new pieces out of the existing pieces. It is a cotton waffle weave, and I made long sleeves although since it's so hot here at the moment I will probably wear them rolled up, which is a more casual look anyway since I'm no longer working in an office (yay!).

It's a very comfy fit, and being light weight cotton it should be cool enough to get through summer. Plus being button front it will come in handy for nursing, although I guess it has high embarrassment potential for leakage stains....

Last week I also did a quick but so small adjustment I can't call it a refashion to a blue graphic print polished cotton dress that used to be my grandma's - it fit nicely around the belly but was too big under the arms and across the bust, so I lifted up the facing and took in the side seams, and also put two darts in the back to give it more shape. This used to be a very bright colour, but is now quite faded from years of wear and washing. It's funny though, I don't remember my grandma being a large lady at all, I guess I remember her most as the frail, little lady she was for about 20 years before she passed away at 90. Anyway faded or not, I still like the print and the dress is a good fit and it certainly came in handy last weekend when it was extremely hot:

In other good news our lazy builders finally installed the windows today, check out the expanse of louvre windows in the living room, with fixed glass triangle panels above them:

This photo is taken from our living room to be, looking out into the back yard, with the garage at the back of the block. The garage is accessed from a rear lane, because as Vicki noticed our block is quite long, but rather narrow which is typical of the subdivision patterns of older inner city suburbs. Eventually that wasteland between the house and garage will become lawn and garden area, but for now it's likely to stay like that for a few more months given the building shutdown over Christmas paired with the extreme laziness of our builders! Laying the guilt on them hasn't worked so far, every time I talk to them I rub my belly and adopt a concerned look when they talk about scheduling but it hasn't made them work any faster - maybe I need to go all pregnant psycho hysterial woman on them!

And as for baby news, the baby has dropped quite a bit so I feel the need to pee about, oh every 5 minutes and I am having a lot of groin and pelvic pain which the doctor assures me is normal but isn't a sign the baby is imminent. Apart from that I'm healthy, just hot and getting a little impatient (as probably every pregnant woman does at the end). Nearly there though....

Monday, 15 December 2008

secret santa sewing (and house pictures for you Jenny!)

I realised today that Christmas is only 10 days away (how could I forget that?) so this morning I headed off nice and early to the shops to get my chrissy shopping over and done with in one foul swoop. But since I'm the crafty and frugal type, in addition to making a baby this christmas I'm also making some christmas presents but these aren't very good blog fodder since the people the presents are for read this blog so I can't post them!

But I can share some early chrissie presents I bought myself, although not overly exciting - sensible shoes! It has been quite some while since I bought shoes, and who knows how long since I bought flat shoes, but today I bought two pairs conceding to my current state (ie blimp like) and future requirements for outfits during the next year as a stay at home mum. Plus I have the biggest blisters on my heels from walking around in the heat on Sunday even though I was wearing what were formerly quite loose fitting ballet flats! Yes, my feet have swollen a little, and my fingers are little sausages, so much so that I've put my wedding rings in the safe 'cos it's gonna be a while since I'll be able to get them back on! So here they are: a pair of dark brown slip on sandals and a funky pair of red canvas shoes that remind me of my converse wearing university days (although these were a bargain at $11 from Kmart):










Well we had our first medical emergency on the weekend, albeit with the fur baby which is probably good practice for the real kid because I'm sure we'll have a few tears and accidents in the years to come. Somehow the dog managed to slice his ear right where a vein is, but he didn't cry and I didn't realise until I saw blood spattered on the walls and pooling on the floor! After an emergency dash to the vets who cleaned him up and wrapped his ear in a bandage, he was given a sedative so that he would sleep for a few hours instead of trying to get the bandage off. And now the big sook is walking around with his head on the side and he even jumped up on my bed to have a sleep when I was in the shower, which he's not allowed to do and has never tried before so I think he's really trying for the sympathy attention! Well what about me scrubbing blood off the walls and floor, or my husband cleaning it out of the car and off the newly installed baby capsule? Here he is, looking sorry and still quite bloody, including blood stains all over the mat covers I sewed for him just last week:



And just for my friend Jenny who ordered me on the weekend to post some photos of the building works, here is where we are up to now (I have been trying to ignore it because it is annoying me). First up the extension to the house which will eventually be a big open plan living and dining room with a very high cathedral ceiling: the framework is done, the roof is on and we are waiting for windows, sliding door and wall cladding to go on this week according to the builder (yeah right!)



Here's the garage: downstairs is room for two cars, a bathroom/laundry and a workshop area, and upstairs is my sewing studio/home office, which will be gloriously light and airy and spacious with plenty of room for my stash to accumulate even more!
Yes the backyard is still a complete disaster zone, but doesn't our dwarf flowering eucalypt look great? It's been in the ground for five years and never flowered, but somehow it has managed to bloom despite the builders breaking off branches and leaving building materials all around it. According to our original building schedule, all works should have finished last week and we should be happily painting, decorating and landscaping but that is all going to have to wait until next year now...


Hope everyone had a good weekend and for those who are making their christmas presents remember only 10 days to go! Better get your skates on....

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

still no baby....

unfortunately all your predictions that my spurt of cleaning last week meant birth was impending didn't come to fruition, and the baby is still firmly ensconced on the inside. I saw my doc today who told me the baby is engaged, but is only at station 4 out of 5 - ie it's head is only just in my pelvis. Given that yesterday I did hours of (light) lifting and moving things out of our garden shed to stash throughout the house and under the house so the backyard can be further excavated and that didn't bring on early labour, I'm pretty sure I'll go full term. Oh well, I'll have this baby for the rest of my life, so I should cherish the last two weeks of just being me....

No sewing this week except for making more covers for the dog's bed out of an old doona cover, made just like giant pillowcases. I have been doing heaps of cleaning again, not due to any nesting instinct but out of pure necessity this time. We've had new windows installed in all the rooms of our house which created so much dust and plaster not just around the windows but in the whole room, I guess all that hammering loosens any dust in the ceiling and it all falls down. The new windows are great, they don't rattle like the old timber ones and are much easier to open, but this is what they now look like from the inside:

And from the outside:



The house is supposed to be reclad in new weatherboards this Friday but with heavy rain forecast its doubtful. And who knows when the lazy builders will come back and fix up the inside walls around the new windows? We may do the baby's room ourselves just so it is finished in time for the little monkey to come home. That picture above is a sneak peek of the baby's room in progress - yes the green is a very strong and deep colour, all I can say is that sample pots are sold for a reason!

Friday, 5 December 2008

nesting or just my usual obsessiveness?

according to my little countdown up there at the top of my blog there are 20 days to go before this little monkey makes it's entrance in this world - maybe more if it has inherited any of my stubborness and contrariness and chooses to come when it's good and ready! The good husband and I thought it was about time we set up the baby's room so on the weekend we cleared out the study/my sewing room, dismantling the built in desk and moving more non living room furniture into our already jammed packed living room (the filing cabinet now joins the washing machine, fridge and freezer as visitors to the living room!).

On Wednesday I was a hive of activity -
  • vacuuming the loose cotton threads and pins where my sewing desk used to be,
  • ironing the carpet over a damp towel to get rid of furniture dents (and the builder inspector happened to arrive to inspect the works out the back and must have thought I looked like a loony pregnant woman ironing the floor),
  • moving all the baby furniture into the room ready to be set up,
  • sanding and painting a timber armchair for the room,
  • giving the rest of the house a good clean because everything is so dusty thanks to the building works at our house plus the house two doors up being constructed.
Meanwhile this day turned out to be a very hot day (it is summer after all), but I didn't really notice how hot it was until I brought in some woollens that I had handwashed that morning and they were crispy and hot. So are you getting the picture here? A very hot day and I did all this activity when I am heavily pregnant - clearly I have lost my mind!

By Wednesday night I had the sorest rib pain just under my bra strap on the right hand side - every little move, sneeze or baby movement caused me so much pain. Husband adopted a 'I told you so' tone and told me to stop doing so much, but then I found out via the trusty internets that rib pain, especially on the right hand side is actually very common in the third trimester due to the uterus position, the baby pushing on the rib and all the muscles being stretched. So it might have happened anyway.

Alright enough rambling, coming to the point of this post I had to spend yesterday doing much much less activity, so I started to clear out the cupboard in the baby's room which holds part of my fabric stash. Well I got a bit sidetracked when I was moving out the fabric because I decided to photograph each piece, measuring it and cataloguing it in an excel spreadsheet noting fabric composition, weight, purchase date and place (if I could remember) before trying to find somewhere else in the house to stash the stash, so to speak. I started doing this for purchases made this year, but not for the previous 10 years effort of stash accumulating. When my husband came home and saw what I was doing (it took much longer that I thought it would and I was still in the middle of it when he got home) he firstly laughed very loudly, and then told me I was an obsessive nutbag! Come on, all you sewists know that not only is this a normal thing to do, it is actually a handy thing to have, right? And maybe, just maybe, it will help curb my fabric purchases a teeny tiny bit - because what I visually estimate to be about a third of my stash equates to 480m (524 yds). Which is SABLE (stash accumulation beyond life expectancy) for sure, but the good news is that very little of that was actually purchased new, mostly it comes from op shops, garage sales and some given to me.

So maybe the cleaning spurt is nesting, although I think it has a lot to do with having more time at home to notice the dirtiness and actually clean up, but definately the collecting of fabric (but not the cataloguing) is a tad obsessive....

Anyway I'm itching to do some real sewing, so I managed to sneak in a quick refashion to wear out to a fancy dinner this weekend. I bought a mini dress from Supre, which is Australia's version of the cheap disposable fashion stores like Top Shop, for only $10. I don't normally go in to Supre, because they're fashion is more for young trendy skinny things, the music blares and the fluroscent lights are far too bright (yeah I know I sound about 100 years old!) but the vibrant print of this dress caught my eye.

Because it was a mini dress, I only had to lop about 10cm off the bottom to make it into a top. I didn't take any length off the front though, instead I pulled the seams apart at the sides up to the bust line, and just gathered up the front piece to create ruching over my stomach so the top now fits very well. And here it is:
And yes, this big spotty dog:
managed to get in the foreground of every photo I took:


Looky looky neighbourhood.gal, there's those white pants again! I know that according to the 'fashion rules' women with larger bottom halves (pear shape which I used to be or pregnant women with expanding lumpy legs which I now am!) should wear dark colours on the bottom and light colours on the top, but somehow I think these pants just work - I made them from a thick but stretchy cotton drill so they skim over the lumpy bits, they are the perfect neutral base for colourful tops and most importantly they are comfortable! Plus I reckon I'm tempting fate by wearing the most noticeable and stainable clothes I own - surely my waters will break at the most embarrassing time so come on gods of irony, I have them on now let's get it started.... Ha ha ha just kidding, there's no hurry, particular with this rib pain there's no way I could push right now

In response to Elizabethe, I was planning to transform some of the maternity clothes back to normal clothes, but I have so much fabric to make more I don't think I will. Besides mooimadeit hit the nail on the head, I have an extensive wardrobe for the next time I decide to do something silly like get pregnant!

And thanks SO MUCH to the rest of you for point out shonky pelvic floor muscles, sore nipples, sleep deprivation and hemmorhoids! Jean, I'll be staying in hospital for about 4 days if all goes well, so hopefully that's enough time for me to get used to my leaky body before I come out into the real world!

Monday, 1 December 2008

another UFO crossed off the list

I was cleaning up the wardrobe that houses (half) my stash and the extensive UFO/wadders pile on the weekend, not due to nesting but due to a need to cram more stuff in there! I came across this jacket that I made but didn't finish years ago, which I had started working on again a month or so ago and still didn't finish it, so I guess it has the ignominy of being a UFO twice over..... It also has a skirt to match, still stuffed in the back of the wardrobe which will stay there until my waistline returns. I have gotten bored already with sewing cot sheets and other useful things for bubs, so a diversion was needed and I decided to finish this once and for all.

The pattern is a now OOP Vogue 2461, an Anne Klein suit that I can't find any reviews for over on sewing pattern review or on google in general, which surprises me because it's not a bad looking pattern. The reason this became a UFO was a combination of my less than stellar jacket sewing skills at the time, but also the pattern design itself I now realise. Coming back to the '10,000 hours of practice makes you an expert' theory discussed by Erin, Carolyn and Shannon at their respective blogs, I firmly believe that succesful garment sewing comes mostly from an innate fashion sense to pair patterns and fabric, a fair amount of creativity and patience to do the requisite fitting and fiddly sewing, but hours and hours of practice to get technical quality can't hurt either! So when I made this years ago I certainly didn't have as much practice at jacket sewing as I do now, and I completely stuffed up sewing the notched collar, the fit around the shoulders and arms was way too big (I now know that I have narrow shoulders) and I hadn't eased in the shoulder cap properly. Oh, and I also had tried to line it with a lightweight cotton because I wanted it to be a cool summer jacket, but I fully accept now that linings do work best when they are slippery and can slide over the clothes worn underneath even if it increases the sweat factor.

Anyway, now that my sewing skills have improved somewhat I redid the notched collar and pulled it off pretty well, see:
I reduced the shoulder width the best I could since this was already cut out and doing that change successfully is best done to the pattern before cutting the fabric. But after sewing the shoulder cap and putting in a shoulder pad, I realise the pattern design is mostly to blame for the poor fiting shoulder/arm area. The pattern is a two piece sleeve, which isn't unusual, but what is different to other patterns I've used is that the join runs down the centre of the sleeve, matching the shoulder seam instead of seams on the front and back of the arm that meet the princess seams of the jacket. Even looking at the pattern photo I can see that the shoulder fit on the model isn't so great either.

I also rounded off the bottom of the two front panels, just because it's a look that I like at the moment. And I also did a standad button placement, rather than having it button up offset as shown by the pattern envelope. So here's a photo of it looking a little wrinkled from wearing it out which makes the shoulder look pretty bad still, but I am still happy enough with how it turned out to wear it.


Oh look, there's that belly that was hidden in the last post LOL. It's made from a white cotton with a thin green stripe through it, and I used some vintage buttons from the stash on the sleeves and jacket front for a bit of embellishment on the sleeves (although since I certainly can't do it up right now even the front button is for embellishment too!). I had five buttons, this used five buttons, so it all worked out perfectly, except that I didn't have any green cotton so I used white cotton to sew them on. Eh, still looks ok in my books:

Now I realise I have already failed the Dressember challenge with today being the 1st of December and I wore this jacket with white pants out today but I have a good excuse, honestly! I had to see the obstetrician this morning, and since they always want to see my belly I didn't want to wear a dress because they'd see a whole lot more than just my belly! Of course I do realise that in about 25 days (eeeek!) they'll be seeing a WHOLE lot more of me 'down there', but until that time comes I like to keep my lady parts covered for now! I did wear a dress out yesterday, so that sorta makes up for it I figure.

Anyway, the ob said I was measuring on track with my weeks that have progressed and the baby is not at all engaged which means it is very unlikely that this baby will come early. Now that I know our building works won't be finished in time (the framework is done and the roof is on but there's still too much to be done in 3 weeks), I just want the baby out! Weeks ago when I was bragging about how easy my pregnancy has been has come back to bite me in the butt, because now when I waddle I can feel the strain, I have to pee frequently (sorry for TMI), I'm doing that old person groan every time I have to get up or bend down and hello, indigestion as well! Ah well, not too much longer now....

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!