just checking in.....

Monday 28 February 2011
I've read somewhere that one of the ways to have a better blog is to post frequently and constantly. Alas, I have failed on that count. But it's all very well for those fashion bloggers or interior design bloggers who not only have the time but also a lot of (semi) interesting things to post about like their daily outfit, latest acquisition, furniture rearrangement etc etc. However as a sewist with little time (more time in front of the sewing machine please!) and longer lead time in for sharing a project I'm a bit lacking in regular posting these days. Sorry 'bout that, I'm sure you understand.

But I haven't fallen off the edge of the earth, just been dealing with life's little dramas. A horrendous stomach bug made it's way through our little family last week, and even though Anna got over it relatively quickly both my husband and I were very sick. So sick that at one point we were both laying on the grass in our backyard while Anna jumped on her trampoline - God knows what our neighbours were thinking! At least Anna was resourceful, she dragged her little chair from the playroom to the kitchen to help herself to a packet of biscuits from the pantry and bizarrely a packet of frozen peas from the freezer. She used her manners though, also getting a dish out to pour the peas into before eating them.

Once that had passed Anna then decided to further test the waters by eating my wedding ring. Yes that's right, she popped my wedding band into her mouth, nearly choked on it before swallowing it and then happily asked for some crumpets for breakfast! Our doctor says she'll be fine, it'll just take 3 to 5 days to pass through and in the meantime I have to keep checking her output to retrieve it. The ring is insured, I just can't imagine what I'll tell the insurance company if we somehow miss the ring and it gets thrown out with a dirty nappy.

The final drama is an ongoing one for us - Anna's battle against sleeping has ramped up a notch and it's now all out war. We've finally conceded that we can't manage it ourselves and are now booked into see a sleep specialist to have it looked at properly. Although all our paediatrician could offer was the advice to be 'tougher' on her - and this was in response to me telling him that I've kept a sleep diary which has revealed that she sleeps on average 6 - 7 hours a night in 1 - 2 hour blocks, and we spend the other 6 hours trying to settle her! Bear in mind that toddlers should be getting around 12 -13 hours a sleep a night. No wonder I'm exhausted, I'm not imagining or overstating the problem at all.

But I did manage to squeeze in a tiny amount of sewing, and I've finished (except for the hem) a test garment of the dress that I've modified the pattern and made two muslins for. So I guess you're expecting the world's best fitting dress after all that effort? I know I was. Too bad the result is a bit ordinary, but I will share it because I know you'll all have some thoughts on it.

And true to form, like many of you when I'm not sewing I seem to be spending on sewing things instead! Have a look at this Vogue pattern (8543) I bought recently during Vogue's $3.99 sale - please tell me honestly whether those sleeves are kooky or quirky:

I love the lines of the skirt, and the back of the jacket but I'm wondering whether those bell sleeves are a bit too much?

Slow sewing

Monday 14 February 2011
Do you remember those tacky souvenir tourist tshirts from years ago that had plastered across the front "My {insert random relative} went to {insert over hyped tourist destination} and all I got was this lousy t-shirt"?

Image from here.

Well my favourite saying this week is "I spent all week sewing and all I made was one lousy belt":

Although that's not completely accurate. Firstly, the belt is not that lousy, it's just lousy in terms of volume of output compared to time spent in front of my sewing machine. Secondly, I did actually do a heap of sewing: I made two fitting muslins, a whole heap of pattern adjustments and am in the process of making a test garment for the next dress pattern I plan on making. After the last two less than ideal fitting dresses, I decided that I should take a little more care in the fitting so that I won't be disappointed in the outcome. Plus the fabric I want to use is gorgeous and at $28/m I don't want to stuff it.

But fitting muslins and patterns that have been folded, taped, cut and retraced aren't exactly exciting blog fodder are they? So back to that little belt, which since it's just a plain band of satin with a few clear sewn on snaps isn't all that exciting either. But I made it to wear with this dress to a wedding I went to last night:

I made this dress back in 2007 to wear to a dinner with my husband's work and I don't think I've worn it since, which is a shame because I really like it. The only reason for not wearing it since is that I've made a new dress for every special occasion I've been to since! But I didn't quite have time this week to make something completely new, so instead I made the purple belt to match my new purple satin shoes.

This dress is a simple design, made from Butterick 3076, that I've actually made into four different dresses, posted about previously here. This version is a black cotton lace underlined with a cream charmeuse, which means is quite heavy but gives just the right amount of volume to the skirt:

I accessorised with a brooch in the centre of the belt because the fabric of the dress was too busy to wear one around the neckline. The front of the dress is quite modest with a high bateau neckline, but the back is quite low cut and all va va voom:

After having such hot weather around here lately, the weather has actually turned rather cold so luckily I had also made a jacket to go with the dress back in 2007 which I didn't need at the time, and I don't think I've ever worn it at all since. So it was definitely time to wear it out:

It's just a simple, rather unfitted jacket made from New Look 6619 but it's made from a textured polyester fabric to make sure it's not too plain. I made version E, the pink version on the pattern envelope:

And now I'm off to sew an invisible zip into my test garment. Fingers crossed the muslins have paid off and the test dress is a success (otherwise I'll be very cross with myself!)

too cool for school

Wednesday 2 February 2011
I don't wish to be mean to my northern hemisphere friends who are currently suffering what sounds like very harsh winter conditions, but here in Sydney it's so unbelievably hot that it's almost too much effort to do anything. Seriously, at midnight last night where I live it was still 33.7 degrees (92 F), and sadly our old weatherboard house really retains the heat so we were sweltering. The extreme hot weather is supposed to last for another few days too.

Anyway it's been far too hot to sit at my sewing machine and sew, let alone concentrate on something. Plus I always feel like my fabrics are getting so grubby being handled in this heat! So here's something I prepared earlier, as the saying goes....

A skirt and a top that I sewed for Anna late last year but didn't get a chance to blog about, probably because my model was being too surly. It seems I'm getting better at sewing with knit fabrics because this turned out pretty good. The skirt is made from a cotton drill in the brightest yellow colour from the stash that I never thought I would ever sew something from, but I really like this outfit even if she does look like she's dressed up like a little bumble bee!

The pattern is a vintage 1970s Simplicity, with an elastic waistband at the back, patch pockets and is unlined so it took me less than an hour to sew, and probably only took that long since I had to change thread colours for the black topstitching and do two buttonholes for the pockets. It has just the right amount of a-line to it to allow space for movement.

The tee is refashioned from one of my own stretched out tees, and I used Kwik Sew 3424. Last time I made this tee it didn't fit over Anna's head, but this time for the neckband I used a strip of really really stretchy black jersey that I measured off her actual head, and not the length suggested in the pattern instructions. Plus I cut the strip from the selvedge so that instead of folding it in half and sewing both edges to the neckline, I just sewed the raw edge to the neckline and left the selvedge edge to roll over. Thanks to Blooms Fabric Obsession for the inspiration on that one! For the hem of the tee I just kept the hem of the existing tee, and lazily I've left sleeve edges raw and now they nicely roll up too. Lazy short cuts, but they don't look too shabby.

Overall I really like this, I just wish I had the confidence to wear bright yellow!