happy happy days

Thursday 28 August 2008

Well I did no sewing this week - very busy with work (making up for my slackness of the past few months!) I wish I could say I took that photo above on my way to an exotic destination for a fabulous beach holiday, but whilst I did travel to the lovely north coast of NSW it was for work, and for quite an aggressive mediation session that failed and will now proceed to a court hearing. But it was nice getting out of the city, out of the office and away from my computer writing policies and briefing notes that hardly anyone reads.....

And the happy happy days bit? Well I have spent the last week and a half walking around the city looking for the June BWOF at Borders and various newsagents without luck, because I am so sure it's been more than 4 weeks since I bought the May one. I was so frustrated that on Monday I poneyed up the $165 for a subscription, but didn't think the first issue would be delivered for a few weeks and I would still have to track down the June issue. Well I got home tonight from the airport and what is sitting in my mailbox FOUR days after subscription? A pristine copy of the June BWOF. I love it when things work out unexpectedly.

In answer to your question Jean posted in the comments to the last post, we have chosen not to find out the sex of the baby - I'm looking forward to a surprise at the end of all that huffin' puffin' and pushin'! I can't believe how many people are surprised at this though - people my age say it's much better for shopping (because that's why we have babies right? shopping opportunities) and older people say it was never available in their day and why wouldn't I use the available technology?

So I'm looking forward to a Christmas surprise - hopefully the surprise being that the baby doesn't come on its due date! I've already had my fair share of jokes about giving birth in a manger, naming the kid Mary ha ha ha. Better than the jokes about whether I'm having twins or not....

Happy happy days also because it's only a few more days until it's officially spring here - I can't wait for the warmer weather because apparently Sydney has officially had it's coldest August in many years. While I am waiting for the weather to warm up and to see how much bigger I get before I start making some breezy summer dresses I thought I would spend the next few weeks finishing off a few UFOs, but I will start planning by poring over the new BWOF mag. Plus someone raised a really good issue with me by email - I need to start thinking about clothing appropriate for nursing because I have been so focused on belly dressing that I hadn't thought beyond the birth but it is something now definately on my radar.

And finally it's all happy happy days because it's Friday evening, the weekend is upon us and I can see some op-shopping, some sewing and probably even cake baking for my husband's birthday on Sunday going on this weekend and I can ignore work stuff until about 9.30am Monday morning (even though I am usually in at work by 8am!)

Happy weekend everyone

gettin' crafty

Sunday 24 August 2008
It's only a little over one month to spring here in Australia, and boy am I looking forward to some warmer weather. Of course when it does get hot, and I'll be heavily pregnant I just know I'll be wishing it was cooler....

So I've decided to stop sewing anymore winter maternity clothes, since they'll have a short shelf life indeed and I really do have enough to get me through the remaining cold weather. Without meaning to I created a mini capsule wardrobe, and quite a few things mix and match to create several different outfits.

But I can't stop myself sewing - I'm sure you all can relate, particularly since it's still cool enough to stay inside rather than get out and about and do things like exercise which my doctor has strongly recommended to make child birth easier, but I seriously doubt anything will make that easier! So I'll worry about that in oh say, November......

To fill the void, I've done a few crafty things sewing wise this weekend. First up I made two lunch bags from vintage tea towels and a vinyl coated cotton curtain for the lining picked up in op shops. I found a template from allpeoplequit.com and used the measurements for a large bag (the orange one below), but these clearly weren't written for a pregnant lady 'cos it was far too small to fit in all the food I carry to work with me these days! So I added a few extra inches to the height and width when I made the brown version below. I lined them both with the vinyl coated fabric so I could wipe the inside clean, and lo and behold here's my lunch bags:

Next up I made two door stops again from a vintage irish linen tea towel picked up in an op shop. I've seen quite a few of these around on the internets made from various patterns, but it's so simple I just made it up as I went along, and cut a square base of 10cm by 10cm and four equilateral triangles 10cm wide at the bottom and 15cm high. Sewed them up with a ribbon at the apex, stuffed the top bit with fibre fill to get the pyramid shape and filled the rest with sand in a plastic bag so it doesn't leak all over the floor and I've finally got something to stop the door slamming shut when it gets breezy, plus it amuses the dog because he stops to have a sniff and give them a nudge every time he runs past them!
And finally I made a cover for my sewing machine that I've been meaning to do for ages. It came with a hard plastic cover, but it only goes on if the cord is unplugged so I never bothered using it. I made this again from a tea towel that I picked up in an op shop that was too lovely to cut up, so this was perfect because all I've done is basically drape it over the machine with some calico side inserts sewed on to give it shape. And this was even simpler to make because I just pin fitted it over the hard cover and sewed it up. I left the seam over the cords open at the bottom so it would go over the cords nicely.

I've also been doing a bit of altering to some clothes I made previously. I did end up taking in the side seams of the olive green polka dot skirt I blogged about two posts ago, and shortened it a little to sit just above the knee. Now it's a loose straight skirt rather than an a-line and looks much better. I also took in the grey cotton Vogue Roland Mouret knock off dress I made, by reducing the four box pleats across the front to two - there's still enough room there for an enormous belly but it doesn't look quite like a muu muu anymore!

Speaking of waistlines, mine has gone from 70cm (28in) to nearly 100cm (39.5 in)! I know, I know it's supposed to do that, I just hope my former waistline comes back (the new bust size can stay though!). And thank you Sally for asking how I'm going - I'm feeling remarkably well except for finding it difficult to get comfy in bed and having to get up to pee a few times a night, I think I'm getting an insight into what a 90 year old must feel like! Being pregnant is also proving to have its devious uses too, whenever my boss is being annoying or blathering on for too long I just get up and say I'm not feeling well can we continue this later, and then spend the rest of the day avoiding him!

Refashioned denim skirt

Tuesday 19 August 2008
Denim skirts. Everyone has one, they come in and out of fashion but for many, including me they are a staple. I have a non maternity denim skirt, and I was about to make a new maternity version out of some lovely stretch dark denim that is sitting in the stash, when I remember this fugly version I made a few years ago that was dumped into the scraps bag for reuse. Whilst this doesn’t reduce the stash in anyway, I feel better about not wasting the fabric that went into the previous creation.

I made this at least 5 or more years ago. It is an a-line skirt, with a waistband facing, centre back zipper and two darts from and back. Made in dark blue denim, sewn with dark blue cotton it was oh so boring and a little fugly.

Well to give it new life and to make it work as a maternity skirt I made quite a few modifications and managed to come up with what I think is a pretty cool skirt. Yes I’m being smug at my thriftiness, but I think us sewists have the right to be smug about each and every thing we make because so many people can’t even sew a button on let alone what we do!

Anyway off my high horse and back to the skirt. Firstly I took the waistband facing and zipper out. Then I cut the front waistband down in a curve and cut down the centre of the skirt to create a new seam. I found in my stash a vintage zipper that had a really cool tri-coloured zipper tape so instead of making a concealed zipper, I sewed the zipper on the outside of the skirt. Then I cut away the sides to create pockets, finishing the edges with red bias bindng because there really wasn’t enough fabric to turn and finish the edge without showing too much of the pocket bag which is made from some lightweight cotton (note to self – it is much easier to create side pockets before sewing a skirt rather than afterwards). Then I sewed on an elastic waistband, that has an extension piece sitting behind the top of the zipper because the zipper is openable to help get the skirt over my rapidly expanding hips (good for childbirth I keep reminding myself) and I didn’t want skin behind it at the top being exposed.

And here you go: a completely different looking denim skirt made in an evening with a few notions that were already sitting in my sewing room. Too bad I didn’t have any scraps to create patch pockets on the rear, because they do go with the style and are said to minimise the visual size of one’s rear end, but again I shouldn’t be so vainly worried about that now should I? At least I’m not in tracksuit pants (yet)……….

finishing what I start (for a change)

Sunday 17 August 2008
So finally I managed to get some photos because we've had an amazingly sunny winter's weekend here in Sydney, still a bit chilly but warm enough for short sleeves. I'm looking forward to summer although I know that when it arrives I'll be big, hot and uncomfortable and will probably wish for cooler weather, but I've started looking ahead to make some breezy summer dresses instead of all the winter clothes I've been doing lately.

Anyway, remember this skirt suit (pictured left) I posted about during my week of 'wearing what I sew' posts some time ago? It is an olive green and pale brown polka dot skirt suit in wool that I made last year. Well I found some left over fabric, enough to make an a-line skirt with an elastic waistband so I could wear it with the jacket (unbuttoned of course!) and have an instant skirt suit. Talk about stretching my wardrobe further....

This skirt was one of the ill fated experiments with stretch rib for the waistband, but when I discovered that didn't quite work, I replaced the waistband with some stretch cotton elastene knit fabric and all is well. It's just an a-line skirt with a wide elastic waistband, which is wide enough that it didn't need a zipper to slide over my hips. I wore this to work last Wednesday (with the heels shown in both photos! not giving them up yet) and it was very comfy indeed. Although I think it may be a little long and a little loose so I may take it up an inch and in a little bit at the sides. I can't believe I'm still so vain and thinking about wearing form fitting clothes when I'm five months pregnant!

The top I'm wearing is another top I finished last weekend. It is a simple boatneck style that I made into a maternity top by placing the centre of the front piece on a diagonal to the fold of the fabric. This added a triangle shape to the bottom half of the front which allowed enough room for my belly and didn't alter any other seams so it was a very easy alteration. The fabric is a chunky rib style knit in black that I picked up in an op shop last year.

Because plain black is a little boring, I decided to add a line of black grosgrain ribbon around the neckline, topstitch with the twin needle with white cotton and sew on an orphan button I had in the stash. I think I'm starting to get the hang of this embellishing caper!

Well I'm off to do more sewing - with the olympics on 2 out of the 5 free to air tv channels here in Sydney and a sports obsessed husband (which I am not!) I have a fair amount of tv avoidance to do this week.....

oh Amazon, I'm mighty impressed

Wednesday 13 August 2008
When the Aussie dollar got to 96c US recently I decided now was the time to pounce and grab some bargain books from Amazon. I hadn't bothered in the past due to the poor exchange rate and postage fees, but this time it all worked out so well. And why am I so impressed? Well despite me picking the cheapest shipping rate which meant the books I ordered should have taken at least a month, they arrived less than two weeks after placing the order!

So what did I buy? First up I bought the David Coffin book Shirtmaking: Developing Skills for Fine Sewing which I know has been given high recommendations from other sewing bloggers. After following this tutorial made by Sigrid over on Pattern Review for the collar stand which came from the David Coffin book, I was convinced. And it was only $13.57 on Amazon, as opposed to $55 for a paperback here in Australia.

I also bought Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket. I have borrowed this from my local library and it has some great techniques for modern day tailoring, ie not all by hand but some shortcuts by the sewing machine or with fusible interfacing. That may be sacrilegious to some traditionalists, but I like to achieve results whilst at the same time getting things done quickly, so it appealed to me. This is $34.95 in Australia, but was only $12.89 on Amazon.

But most exciting (to me at least) was the purchase of Amy Butler's little stitches for little ones. I have to say I haven't been the biggest fan of Amy Butler's books, because they are quite simple and are for things I don't really make like tote bags and big floppy hats. But since I have a baby coming, and to be truthful I haven't been that clucky about it so far (should I be worried that small children still annoy me when I'm soon to bring forth one of my own?) I thought this would get me in the right mood. And I think it will, looky at these cute things I plan to make:

A cute dirty laundry bag, a handy change table cover and some smart wrap around booties are things I'll definately make. Possibly even a nappy bag or two. This book being a new release isn't even available in Australia yet and who knows what price it will be, but given that her other books are wildly overpriced here I'm sure it will be at least $35 - $40, double the Amazon it was only $16.47.

So all up the books cost me $62.93 US including $20 postage, whereas if I had of bought them in Australia it would have cost $108 US plus I would have had to wait. So all round I'm very happy, I just need to get sewing to get my money's worth now!

And in response to elizabethe's question to my last post regarding my technique for sewing double layers, I made that particular top using two methods. For the upper part of the body, I sewed one back piece to the two front cross over bits to create the outside shell, then I sewed one back piece to the two front cross over bits to create the lining shell, then sewed these right sides together around the neckline - this way when I turned it out the edges were contained inside nice and neatly and I didn't have to bother with folding over and stitching or attaching facings. For the lower part of the bodice though I just basted the two layers together at the edges and then treated it as one piece when sewing it to the top part. This meant the side seams and the joining seam of the bodice and lower front were left raw and in the open, and I really should have encased them by doing the same sewing right sides together and turning, but by the time I had the fit right there was no way I was going back to tidy that situation! Anyway, I hope this helps with your sewing, I'm no technical expert but I can recommend sewing thin layers double, it does make a noticeable difference.

still on fire

Tuesday 12 August 2008
Well I had another very productive weekend, but nothing to show for it on my blog due to a lack of photos! Last weekend I made two tops, finished one of the elastic waist skirts I started a few weeks back, refashioned a fugly denim skirt I found in the back of my wardrobe and traced off two BWOF patterns. Plus I managed to supervise my husband in the big clean out of our garden shed and other miscellaneous junk around the house for council clean up, had dinner and then brunch with two seperate sets of friends... No wonder I barely did anything at work on Monday, but hey no one noticed so no harm done!

Anyway I did manage to get one photo of the top I made to wear out to dinner on Saturday evening. It is a simple knit top which would have been so quick to make had my overlocker been behaving itself - it has decided it doesn't like knit fabrics and the two needle threads keep breaking mid sewing. I changed the needles to jersey ball point needles in case that was the issue but it didn't help it. It sews woven fabric fine, and it has done knit fabric in the past so I'll have to investigate further.

But luckily knit fabrics don't fray so it's not the end of the world, although the silver lurex knit fabric I used does shed little curls of silver thread now and then. I made the long sleeve top of New Look 6430, a 2004 pattern that is now OOP, but it is a cross over top with a ruched waist area - perfect for that extra area needed across my stomach. I made my usual size 10 for the bodice, but cut out the largest size 22 for the botton half figuring I could gather it to give more volume. Well the lurex knit fabric was so stretchy and floppy, that not only did the gathering across the front look ordinary, so did the ruching and under bust gathers. I took them out one at a time, re-sewing between each try so in the end I made and unpicked this top at least 4 times! But even without the gathering, the lurex knit is so stretchy that it fits perfectly as a size 10 top:

Because the knit fabric was quite thin, I made this from two layers of fabric. I read somewhere that to make cheap or thin fabric look more luxurious you should use two layers, and it does make it look much better. Doing it this way meant I didn't have to finish the neckline because I sewed the cross over portion and the back right sides together and then turned out and pressed. The other problem I encountered was that the hem stretched a little when I turned and sewed it, despite stabilising it with some stretch interfacing, so you can see from the photo above that it ripples a bit, but given a few more weeks of belly growing it will probably be just right! I also did make the front a little longer than the back so I can grow into it. It is a bit lower cut than I would normally wear, but for the first time in my life I have cleavage so I'm putting it out there! If I make this top again I would raise the neckline a little.

Oh and have you noticed that Tearsa over at That's Sew Live has announced her pregnancy? I love her style and I can't wait to see what she comes up with. But I think I would absolutely freak out if I had her job - imagine the stress of presenting on a tv news show when you're pregnant? I've certainly had my fair share of days when I just wanted to hide from the world and blob out....

venturing momentarily back into grey....

Tuesday 5 August 2008
Thanks everyone for your comments on the last post - I am finding that being pregnant isn't changing my usual style as much as I thought it would. With a little bit of creative thinking I've found that I can stick to my usual dress sense and be comfortable, and of course saving oodles of money because maternity clothes are pretty exy. In particular, thanks to Jean who is very sweet and wondering whether I was well since I hadn't posted! I feel very well thought of to have someone on the other side of the world who hasn't met me think of me so kindly.

So on to baby news: I had my 20 week ultrasound today and an appointment with my obstetrician and all is well, except for having to wait for 1.5 hours to see the obstetrician for a 15 minute appointment. I also passed my glucose tolerance test for gestational diabetes with flying colours, despite me eating lollies of all description by the bucket load! I have started to feel the little one start moving around which is a weird feeling, but it's nice little twitches at this stage, not the ferocious kicks that I can expect later on! Morning sickness has gone although it does rear it's ugly head every now and then just to remind me that I am pregnant ('cos the big belly isn't enough reminder).

Thanks Alison for the compliment on the scarf tying. I have so many scarfs that I really should wear more often but never felt quite right in them. But then I found an amazing how - to guide over on the Hermes website called 'play time scarf', and I've been inspired to add some French class to my outfits!

And thank you also to Sunny for nominating me for a blog award, I'll have to think of some others to nominate......

Ok back to the regular schedule of all things sewing related. After the previous disastrous weekend, I decided to appease the sewing gods by giving my sewing room a clean up which took all day Saturday! It was a big job because I had let it get so messy, but I was thorough - even giving the sewing machine and overlocker a clean. I also 'rationalised' my UFO pile by throwing out stuff made from cheap fabric that wasn't worth saving, putting away those things that won't fit for a while yet, and moving a few things to the top of the pile that I will still be able to wear in the future months.

But I did finally finish the grey cotton jacket to match the Vogue 8280 galaxy dress knockoff that I posted here. I made it using BWOF 12/07 jacket 115A, which I have made previously in a charcoal wool flannel. I substituted the front tab closure for ribbons, so that I could tie it shut over my expanding belly, and I deleted the tab cuffs but apart from that it was as per the pattern.

And looky looky - I used the same narrow blue ribbon as embellishment around the collar, cuffs and for the welt pockets:

Yes I know it's grey, but it is the last of the grey things on my sewing list at the moment, so I can venture back in to colour now that it's finally done. It really went together quickly since I had made it previously, I just procrastinated about sewing the lining in, and then about fixing the mistake of sewing the sleeves on backward, so it took me several weeks to finish what I could have done much more quickly!

And please excuse the crummy photo - I had to use the flash because the light was dwindling which is why I look so washed out. It's so hard to get decent photos during the winter months....