eye spy with my (pink) eye

Tuesday 27 July 2010
Well actually it's not me with the pink eye, it's Anna. She's picked up conjunctivitis from her daycare centre, so I'm home from work looking after her until it's cleared up. She seems happy enough despite having manky stuck together eyes, although getting eye drops in her eyes is a bit challenging! Jodie, I would love to be able to say that her sleep issues have been resolved, but no she is still waking frequently through the night and pretty much sleeps in our bed all night every night because that's the only way to stop the screaming. However, I have resolved to stop fixating on it - I fear I was becoming a dreadfully whingy bore always harping on about how she never sleeps. There are worse things of course, like this incredibly sad tale of a sick little girl and her amazingly strong mother, so that helps me put it all in perspective.

There are many good things about being home in the middle of the day, including being able to snare some daylight time during our currently very cold and overcast winter weather to get a photo of my new skirt on me. And here it is:

I've been looking for some smart casual clothes to wear on my days off work, clothes that would work equally well in the playground as well as swanning around cafes and shopping. After a bit of snoop shopping, I found this skirt over at ModCloth which I used for my inspiration:

I figured this would be a good choice because it's not so tight fitting or restrictive that I can't bend down or crouch down at the playground, but it's also not so full skirted that a breezy day wouldn't cause me grief. With a bit of tweaking to a basic pattern, a now OOP Vogue 9615 - adding extra width for gathers at the front and adding some faux pocket flaps, I managed to get a pretty close knock-off.

I used some red herringbone pattern wool fabric from the stash, and because this fabric was picked up from an opshop I only just had enough fabric to cut out the skirt pieces, so the gathered section in the middle is actually a separate rectangular piece cut against the grain because I didn't have enough fabric width to cut it with the grain. But the change in pattern isn't overly noticeable, and sort of looks like a deliberate design feature:

The vertical seams for the centre panel are visible, but oh well I managed to get what I wanted out of the fabric I had, so I'm happy with it:

For the lining I just made the a-line skirt as per the pattern, which I hope prevents that problem of gathered and full skirts bunching up between your legs when you walk if you're wearing stockings or you're walking into the wind (or I am the only one that happens to?).

Even though this is a pretty bright red colour, it surprisingly matches well with other clothes already in my wardrobe and I'm glad not to have made an orphan skirt for a change. In fact the only problem I have with casual skirts is what shoes to wear with them, because I always wear heels with skirts otherwise I don't feel properly dressed and my legs look stumpy, but of course heels aren't the best option for the playground. Hmmm, sounds like some shoe shopping is going to be required soon!

Thank you for all the tips on the overlocker problems, I will definitely try them out. I have been using the big cones and not the little spools, but they are just Birch threads and not expensive thread because that's the only type of overlocker thread for sale in Spotlight. Same with the needles, I think I was just using some universal type needles, so I will look into whether there are specific Toyota needles I should be using. Sherry your tip of winding the thread around the dial twice sounds bizarre, but I shall try it since you've had success with it. I shall report back soon people!

the machines are conspiring against me.....

Saturday 24 July 2010
Major mechanical dramas round these parts this week. My laptop went kaput, and with it all the photos and other bits and pieces I've used it for since February. Sigh, I know I should have backed it up more frequently, but well, I didn't..... Good news though that we should be able to get all the info out of the old hard drive, and with a new hard drive we may not even have to replace the laptop itself which is barely two years old. So to post this, I've had to clear some space in the room that will become our study but is presently the room in which we store loads and loads of junk, and set up the desktop computer to use. I shouldn't complain since I do still have a computer to use, but sitting on a comfy lounge in front of the heater is a much nicer option than sitting in a cold, messy study!

And my overlocker still hates me! I tried rethreading, changing the threads, changing the needles, even did that testing thing by using four different threads to work out which one is out of whack, but I'm still getting all sorts of loopiness at the back. Marie-Christine, thank you for confirming what I thought - that the fabric shouldn't make a difference to the tension it's the thread. So I am stumped as to why my machine goes haywire when I serge knits instead of wovens. It's all really annoying since I only had it serviced a few months ago. I think I will take it back there and ask them to firstly look at it and then show me how to thread it.

But one good thing (I'm not ready to concede there are other good things about them just yet!)about knit fabrics though is that they can be sewn without finishing the edges, so I made a little dress for Anna out of some mystery fabric from the stash. It is super soft and stretchy and in my favourite (lack of) colour:

Yeah, I know it's grey, but I did sew that colourful strip of red and pink striped knit fabric around the bottom to liven it up. It's just a long strip of fabric gathered slightly, sewn in a zig zag through the centre and it then naturally fell down in the manner which is just how I envisaged it. I love it when things work out when you're making them up as you go along! Although I did want to put elastic around the wrists to make them bell sleeves, but since there wasn't enough width I did a lettuce edge finish instead.

This turned out pretty well given my dislike of knit fabrics, so I even made some black tights to go with them since it's too cold to be without at the moment, although these turned out a little baggy because I don't think the fabric I chose had enough stretch:

Here we are on location at our local library, Anna looking like an angel moments before she started taking all the books off the shelf. For the pattern I used the sleeping bag from a now OOP McCalls 6899 and modified it by taking it in greatly at the side seams. It's probably still a little wide around the neckline, but it's better than my last effort when it didn't even get over her head. Birdie, thanks for your tips about stretching ribknit fabric and then measuring off your son's head with it - now I think about it, I didn't even measure Anna's head for that polka dot top, I just used the pattern piece provided! Probably the reason it didn't work.....

I have actually finished sewing something for myself, and it feels like ages since I've had something new. But at the moment I have a majorly red nose from another bout of the sniffles, and I'm far to vain to post a picture of me with it! But here's a sneak peek:

Yes, it's red (like my nose) and not grey!

stress and loopiness

Monday 12 July 2010
I've had a somewhat stressful week. Not because of tonsillitis (which is gone now), not because of Anna not sleeping (which she's not, but I'm over it), but because I had my inlaws stay with us for the last week and a half, and all I can say is thankfully they've now gone home. Their home is in another state. Where they can't return quickly. What is it about other people's parents that are really annoying? Is it because you don't feel free to snap at them the way you would with your own parents? My inlaws aren't that bad really, but after a week of living in close quarters little things were driving me nuts, like my father inlaw flicking his really long fingernails (it's a chinese cultural thing) together making a grating noise, or my mother inlaw inventing housework to do like handwashing her clothes each day instead of waiting to do a load in the machine or whisking a cup off to the sink to wash it the second after you've put it down.

Anyway, I did manage to get a few hours to myself on Saturday afternoon, and it was lovely to retreat to my sewing room for some peace and quiet. I made a little skirt for Anna from the red corduroy wadder skirt I started to make for myself. Her version came out much better I think:

So simple, basically just two rectangles sewn together with elastic at the top. In fact, I didn't really need a pattern, but I used Kwik Sew 3665 that I picked up in a 60% off patterns sale at Spotlight a few weeks ago:

Since I was on a roll, I decided to try my hand at sewing knits again, using Kwik Sew 3424 because I had read all the reviews on Pattern Review saying it was a good pattern and I figured that since it's just a t-shirt for Anna that it would be good practice. And it turned out technically perfect:

I used fusible interfacing along the hem lines which did help stabilise it and prevent waviness, so thanks for whoever gave that tip last time I lamented about my poor knit sewing skills. The fabric print itself is a little off grain, but I thought it had the required stretch. I guess not though, because I can't get the neck opening over Anna's head! I don't think she has a particularly large noggin, but it wasn't getting over it! Maybe the rib doesn't have enough stretch? Who knows, but I do know that I know have to unpick some twin stitching and some overlocking to get the rib off and then I'll just sew some clear elastic on and turn the edge under.

And it seems my overlocker dislikes knit fabrics as much as I do. I had been sewing corduroy and some wool with no problems, but then when I put this knit fabric through the underside because all loopy and no end of fiddling with the tension would fix it. It must be a sign that I should stick to what I know best......

In spirited child watch this week, Anna has taken to stomping around in my shoes and drawing on her face with my lipliner:

Drawing on the floor even though she has ginormous pieces of paper to draw on:

And flicking through any book in the hope of seeing a clock, a bike or a car which she'll then yell the word out, although embarrassingly her pronunciation of clock is missing the 'l', which is a vital letter in that word I think.

But overall she has been a good child this week and all is happy around here. And I have a new lens for my camera, and it's turning out some fantastic photos.

Happy sewing everyone, I'm off to finish something for myself (hopefully not another wadder!)