the great wall of fabric

Thursday 28 May 2009
Dear blog readers feast your eyes on this:

I'm pretty confident that this is my entire stash and I don't have any other bags stored at my parents house or on under a bed somewhere. So a few obversations:
1. I have a lot of fabric, but I sew regularly and it makes me happy so I'm not buying into the whole guilt trip thing.
2. I have lots of great fabric and fondling the fabric whilst folding it has given me so many ideas that I have about a millenium worth of projects lined up in my head.
3. I have heaps of grey fabric, which is ok because I make a lot of grey clothes. But weirdly I also have lots of orange and brown fabrics which I rarely wear.
4. I have a real hoarding tendency - I was going to get rid of some fabrics that I know I'll never use, but since I had enough space I couldn't bring myself to do it!
5. There is still some space there on the shelves, so I can't say I will completely stop buying more, but I will try to shop the stash first.

It has taken me the best part of two weeks to get my stash into this beautifully neat and ordered vision, not only because of the amount of fabric, or the fact that I had to do another trip to Ikea to get another shelf unit but also because I had to deal with constant interruptions from these two:

Anna would only play in her portable cot for a while before getting cranky, so I propped her up in the washing basket with some lovely soft microfleece and she seemed a bit happier for a little bit longer (it's not child abuse, she's doing some early bonding with fabric!). She still needs to be held most of the time and be given lots of attention though, so my window of getting things done with two hands is still limited. One of the mums in my mother's group is thinking about going back to work because she is bored: she sits around waiting for her daughter to wake up from her 2 hour naps three times a day. I am so jealous to say the least, but I have too many ideas in my head to ever be bored.

Thanks everyone for your feedback on the finer details of cloth nappies. I love having such an interactive blog getting advice on all these things because none of my real life friends cloth nappy or sew. Anyway I managed to salvage some of the bamboo fleece that I stupidly made into nappy liners and made some absorbent soakers four layers thick. This, combined with another soaker pad of four microfibre layers seems to give a really good amount of absorbency without too much bulk. In fact last night Anna slept through from 8pm to 5am (yay for small miracles) and her nappy lasted that entire time without any leakage.

Well I have so much more tidying up to in the sewing room before I can get any sewing done - that photo above doesn't show the great mountain of stuff that is in the rest of the room.....

does my bum look big in this?

Tuesday 19 May 2009
I bet you all saw that post title in bloglines and rolled your eyes right? You're thinking to yourself 'is she still going on about her post preggie body?'. Well I'm actually talking about this little one:

I finally finished sewing up the nappies for the second time and they work great. I don't think they last as long as disposables between changes, but since nappies should be changed frequently anyway to reduce the potential for nappy rash its not a problem. I'm glad I made the pattern with leg gussets because these are still a little big around the legs even with those chubby little thighs, but Anna will grow into them so they should last for longer this way. I used the Wee Weka pocket nappy pattern sized S-M but from what I've read from other users of this pattern they are big enough to fit until toilet training.

I was a bit worried that Anna's clothes wouldn't fit over the cloth nappies because they are a little bulkier than a disposable but since Anna is mostly in 00's for the length it's fine. Actually here's a question for all you cloth nappy users out there - how many layers of absorbent fabric do you use in your nappies? I've got four layers of microfibre in the pocket nappies, but I'm not sure whether I should use less or more. She still fits her bodysuit, it just looks a little lumpy:

Thanks for all your feedback on sleep habits, it seems lots of babies don't like to sleep each day but I guess each baby is different and changing all the time. Anna in fact had three short naps today, even after sleeping in until 9.30am after her 5am feed! So I had a little sleep in this morning myself, then also had time to shower, have a cup of tea and hang out some washing. I just hope she sleeps well tonight since I'm on my own - my husband is off at a work conference for a few days which just happens to be at a golf resort and his golf clubs just happen to be still in car after his usual Saturday golf.....

jumping on the Ottobre bandwagon

Sunday 17 May 2009
As if I don't have enough expensive European sewing magazines laying around the house unused (well read and thumbed through but still unused) I ponied up $23 (eek!) to buy the 2/2009 issue of Ottobre Woman from the crafty mamas website (fantastic customer service from them by the way). After seeing the great creations that Belinda over at Sew 4 Fun has been making for ages, and the fact that this issue had a nursing top pattern I was convinced to try it out.

At first I have to say I was a little undewhelmed by the magzine. It has far less patterns than BWOF, and look at these two patterns:

Hmmm, it's a little bizarre and if you want to put on as many layers of bulky and unflattering clothes then this is for you. But if it's not your style, thankfully the magazine does have some other lovely patterns, such as these two dresses:

I'll be putting these two on my sewing wishlist, but since I did buy this principally to make the nursing top, I thought I should make it first so I could wear it whilst I am still breastfeeding. The top has a cross over front and a modesty panel underneath the lapped portions that has the sides cut out so you can access your "girls" without exposing your bra too much. The pattern looks like this:
It was very easy to sew, but I wasn't too happy with the outcome. First up it was really long on me, almost tunic length which I don't really like in a clingy jersey type fabric over jeans. But reducing the length of the bottom half of the top made the proportions look all wrong, so instead I took the midriff band off completely which made it a much better length. I'm also not too happy with the self fabric binding to the neckline because it made the top much less stretchy and actually quite difficult to push the top aside to get access for nursing. The pattern suggests using clear elastic and self fabric binding, but I think I shall take the binding off and just turn and topstitch the edge over the clear elastic. And here's my version before I have taken the binding off (I'm a little hesitant at doing more unpicking as you can imagine!):

The fabric I used is a deep red jersey that I thought I had prewashed, but soon realised I hadn't when my fingers turned pink and stayed pink for several days, my white plastic sewing machine turned pink, the bathroom towel turned pink after I washed my hands trying to get the dye off, and even the next load of washing I did after washing this fabric came out with a pink tinge. My husband isn't too impressed with the now pink trim on his black shorts and navy blue t-shirt...

I vow to finish this off this week so I can start wearing it soon, although honestly Anna doesn't often want to feed when we're out and about in public because she's far too distracted by what's going on around her. In fact she is so interested in everything these days that she has practically stopped having daytime naps altogether. She was always a short napper during the day, but now she barely has one 30 minute nap a day which is driving me crazy! I seem to spend all day singing Twinkle Twinkle little star to get her to have a nap..... It makes me a bit angry actually, because not only can I not get anything done all day it is frustrating wasting so much time trying to get her to sleep but when she looks like this I can't stay mad for too long:

getting back into garment sewing

Tuesday 12 May 2009

mochimo, you hit the nail on the head with your comment to my last post - I'm missing garment sewing around here too! Making clothes is far more satisfying than home dec sewing or nappies (shudder at the memory of my stuff up there), and since mother's day was just last weekend I decided to make a skirt for my mum to go with a purchased top. Not that my mum often wears skirts, but I figure that if I keep giving her skirts she may one day wear them at least once and gradually change her mind (hint hint if you're reading this mum!). Her excuse is that she needs some new shoes to wear with a skirt - seriously sometimes I can't believe we're related.....

Sorry for the bad photo, I should have ironed the skirt because it doesn't have a seam or crease down the front, it just looks that way. Also I have lost the legs to my dressmakers dummy somewhere along the way between it being stored at my parents house and now being moved into my sewing room, which is why it is sitting funnily perched on the edge of my desk.

I used Simplicity 5914, which is a six panel skirt that I've made several times before for myself here and here. I think it is a good pattern to use when sewing for another person who isn't available for fitting, because with the six panels there are plenty of seams to gradually take the skirt in or out depending on what is needed without affecting the line of the skirt too much. It's also really quick despite having six panels, because it has a facing instead of a waistband and is unlined, although other versions I've made I have lined.

The fabric I used is a light brown houndstooth check of unknown fabric content which was given to me several years ago by my neighbour who is a pattern cutter that works for a clothing manufacturer which must be one of the few left here in Sydney. The good thing about her job is that she often brings remnants of fabrics used in the previous seasons fashions and sometimes passes them onto me - the best kind of neighbour!

I'm pretty happy with the way the skirt turned out, and since there is enough fabric left I may just make one for myself. I swore to myself that I wouldn't wear mummy and me outfits with Anna, but as long as I don't wear it when my mum is wearing hers it should be ok! And this skirt seriously took about hour to cut out and sew, so I have time to make it before I delve back into the arduous task of re-making those blasted nappies (the right way this time!).

Anyway I hope you all had a great mother's day, either celebrating your mother or celebrating as a mother. This is my first year with a foot in both camps and my husband went all out to make it special. The cynic in me however suspects he did that to ensure he gets the same treatment come father's day! He got up early and made a nice breakfast and even though in all seriousness I wanted a new pair of slippers (I know, very cliched) he gave me one of those Ipod speaker systems for my sewing room. Just saying 'sewing room' makes my heart flutter with excitement, although it is a massive mess at the moment because I have just been moving things into the room and haven't sorted anything out as yet. Just another thing to do......

how cute is this?

Friday 8 May 2009
just popping in to share with you this ultra cute button pillow, the tutorial for which I spied over at (via oneprettything):

I think I can see a future for two or three of these on my new lounges in the near future. Look out husband, no room for boring or bland interiors on my watch!

upholstery 101

Thursday 7 May 2009
First up I'll admit I'm no expert at upholstery, having only recovered a few chair cushions and having one success really! But since a few questions were asked in the comments to the last post I thought I'd answer them - a bit of the blind leading the blind, but take from it what you will. Of course there are plenty of upholstery books out there which will probably be a better resource than little ol' me.

The wadding I used was just a package of two pre-cut polyester wadding pieces bought from Spotlight for the bargain basement price of $7.99. I don't think it is specific upholstery wadding, but it was nice and fluffy and was the right dimensions for what I needed so that's why I picked it.

I didn't glue the wadding to the foam purely for the reason I didn't have any suitable glue (a spray adhesive maybe?) to hand, I just roughly hand stitched the wadding down along the back edges and where it was folded over at the corner. The wadding seemed to stick pretty well and the cushion cover holds it all in anyway.

I did put zips in the cushion covers so I could wash them if necessary, and with a baby, a crazy dog and a sometimes clumsy husband I'm sure there is more than a reasonable chance of needing to! I just used the longest dress zip I could find because I couldn't any special upholstery zips and anyway the dress zips I used on the green covers that were on the chairs previously held up well. I put the zip in a centred application - basted the seam shut, sewed around the zip in a rectangle and opened up the seam. The colour of the zipper doesn't match exactly, and when someone is sitting on the cushion the zipper is visible, but that's only because it's an open backed chair and I'm not too worried about that anyway.

Finally I think the fabric makes a world of difference. The chenille type fabric I used is nice and thick so the stitches sink in and any crooked or dodgy sewing is hard to see! It's also fluffy so less susceptible to wrinkles, and it's nice and warm to sit on.

Anyway I hope some of you are inspired to go and give recovering a chair a go, it's pretty boring sewing but an easy way to update your furniture.

oooh gotta go, the Bold and the Beautiful is on - my guilty addiction since becoming a stay at home mum LOL!

uncrossing my eyes

Monday 4 May 2009
Well the great unpicking adventure is finally done, I think I have further ruined my already poor eyesight by unpicking those little white zig zag stitches and the house is full of little white threads blowing around like tumbleweeds but it is done. Yay for me losing hours of time I'll never regain....

But it hasn't all been mind numbing un-sewing around here, we have been out stimulating the economy and buying new things to decorate the house despite not getting the government stimulus handouts or the baby bonus for that matter since Anna decided to come after 1 January when it became means tested. If she had of come on time we would be $5000 richer, so I've already told my husband we'll garnish the wages of her first job until she's paid it off LOL. Anyway I hope all of you Aussies getting those payments are enjoying my tax paying dollars to their fullest and are out buying things/services that make you happy (*rant rant rant rant*).

Two new lounges are being delivered tomorrow, and we bought a new floor rug so I thought I had better get on with making a new cover for an armchair with the fabric I bought that broke my fabric diet a little while ago. Surprisingly it only took two evenings after Anna went to bed, probably because I didn't make any mistakes that needed unpicking (phew!).

So the before and afters. I bought these two timber chairs years ago when I was a poverty stricken uni student from an op shop, and last year replaced the manky cushions with new foam and made covers from a thick cotton. It was a pretty rushed and shoddy job though, and the cotton stretched out and became all wrinkly:

The after is much better, if I do say so myself! I used a thick upholstery weight chenille in a bright fuschia bought from Spotlight, and I did the covering properly this time by wrapping the foam seats in wadding which pads it out a little and softens the edges of the foam and looks far more professional. I also put the piping around the narrow sides of the cushion rather than around the seat of the cushion. Plus I think the chenille is a more suitable fabric for this style of chair (1950s?60?):

Now I've just got to give the chair a light sand and restain with a dark teak oil, and recover a matching foot stool as well. I also have some buttons to cover with matching fabric and I'm tossing up whether to sew them onto the chair cushions in a tufted style. There is never a shortage of things to do around here that's for sure!

I've also been taking armloads of fabric up to my new sewing studio and despite making many trips I've still not finished gathering all of my fabric stash from various spots around my house and my parents house into the one place yet! The highlight of this week will be folding, folding and more folding but since I'm the type that likes things neat and orderly I will find perverse pleasure in having my fabric all folded neatly and exactly.....

And in Anna news she is 4 months old and off for her second round of immunisations this week. She also rolled over for the first time the other day - which is the reason we had to buy a floor rug because she rolled off her little playmat onto the floorboards which I think surprised her and she let out a ginormous wail! I would too if I was getting up close and personal with a hard floor. Now we really have to keep an eye on her since she's worked out that she can move around. Here she is testing out the new chair cover (I think it gets her approval since this photo was taken mid flailing of arms and legs and her dolphin sounding laugh):