party central: Simplicity 2320

Monday 30 April 2012
Thanks everyone for your tips on ruffling and gathering - I'll definitely be trying them out because Anna informed me that the latest skirts are better than the other ones I had made her and all of the new skirts I'm going to make her have to be twirly.  She told me some time ago that the simple dirndl style skirts I had been making her from large fabric scraps were "broken" because they didn't twirl enough!

So as the post title suggests, we're on the party circuit around here which requires new dresses of course.  I wish I could say we've been going to glamorous 21st, 40th or even 50th birthday parties which need a fancy dress for myself, but unfortunately it's the 3rd birthday party circuit that we've been doing the rounds of.  Almost as fun, and instead of getting a hangover we get a quiet night because Anna is usually so exhausted from partying hard that she collapses in bed into a deep snooze.

Anna has been a little naughty lately, and even though she is really good with Toby and I've tried very hard to keep her normal routine I feel she might be feeling a little left out since his arrival.  Either that or she is just being her typical 'high spirited' self and a typical 3 year old.  But she is constantly asking us if we love her, which makes me think she does need some reassurance.  So on Saturday night after she went to bed I made her a new dress to wear to a party on Sunday, and we all know how a new party can cheer you up. I absolutely loved the way her face lit up when she saw the dress on Sunday morning - she was so happy for a little minute, and then she proceeded to have a tantrum because she didn't want to eat breakfast.  Ahh kids, they're so bloody annoying and adorable at the same time!

I made Simplicity 2320 a Project Runway pattern that has a few design options, which I've made twice before and knew the sizing was ok which is how I managed to sew it quickly without any need for fittings from her.  It's quite an easy dress to make, although sewing the square yoke on the front is majorly fiddly to get in without puckering.

I made this one from a stretch denim that I bought a while ago from the Remnant Warehouse for the bargain price of $3 for a roll of 5 metres, a floral cotton poplin for the yoke and some stretch cotton lace trim picked up somewhere or other.

Samina you were so right when you observed that Anna is being a much more compliant model these days - I might get a cheesy silly grin but at least she stands still and looks at the camera now! This photo was taken after we got home from the party hence the messy hair and bare feet but the dress remained remarkably mess free.

And now it's time to sew something for myself I think.  I've packed away my maternity clothes and have given my wardrobe a massive cull and cleanout so there's quite a bit of room for some new pieces.

(mis)adventures in ruffling: Ottobre 1/2001 #15

Wednesday 25 April 2012
It's been three weeks now since I re-entered the living hell that is a newborn.  Except this time it's not hellish at all, it's actually quite pleasant.  Toby is still a good sleeper and a calm baby, not bothered at all by his big sister's constant hugs and kisses.  Of course I still have to get up several times a night to feed him, but he feeds, burps and then goes back to sleep unlike Anna who would scream for hours on end, day and night. I know he's only three weeks old and all this could change for the worse in a moment, but for now it's lovely and I've even made it back into my sewing room for a little bit of sewing which has made me feel normal again.

After I made this tiered ruffled dress that knocked the Dora dress off its perch as Anna's favourite dress, I bought a ruffler foot for my Brother sewing machine because gathering those layers drove me nutso.  I finally got a chance to use it on a tiered, ruffled skirt from Ottobre magazine Spring 1/2011, skirt #15:

The directions with the foot do say to use it on thin fabrics, so I made a skirt from a thin knit fabric I had in the stash.  Either my fabric was too thick or I wasn't using it properly, but the foot hardly gathered the fabric at all, in fact it didn't gather any more than using a normal presser foot with a really long stitch.  Then I tried using my overlocker to gather the fabric by changing the stitch length and differential feed according to the manual and even that gave me the same unimpressive results.  I guess I need to practice more since little girls have a natural love for ruffles!

So I ended up increasing the gathers to the required amount in the old fashioned method by pulling up the thread.  I also used the overlocker to do a lettuce edge finish to the layers to give it a bit more flippiness.  Anna loves the finished product anyway, so I call that a success.

In fact she loved it so much that I made a second version while I still had the pattern pieces out.  This skirt is so simple it barely needs a pattern though - it's literally 3 rectangles of various widths and lengths.  This version I used a funky printed corduroy I had in the stash:

I wasn't sure what would go with a purple corduroy skirt with green trees on it, but it turns out that a yellow t-shirt with a giraffe on it paired with some red patent high heels is the perfect choice according to a three year old!  Accessorised with a Wiggles band aid on the forehead, covering up a mosquito bite:

So now to start sewing something for the boy - he could use some clothes that are a little less pink!

what a difference a week makes

Monday 16 April 2012
Thank you all for your lovely well wishes and comments to my last post - it really means a lot to me that so many of you took the time to make a comment and share in our happiness.  Plus I feel better learning that so many of you also had a similar experience, not that I wish that pain on anyone but it makes me feel normal. 

As for me, the pain is mostly gone (but not forgotten!).  Life has settled back into normal pretty quickly and Toby has been an absolute gem so far.  Mary Nanna believe me that I'm very relieved that he's totally different to his sister - he sleeps so much! I actually have to wake him to feed day and night, and when he's done he goes back to sleep pretty quickly.  Not too much crying either, although he's only a week and half old so I'm probably jinxing myself by saying all this too soon.  Annie - I think you're right that bigger babies go longer between feeds and sleep better at night, I just hope he keeps going this way.

Another benefit of having a big baby (and associated big placenta) is that the weight just drops away quickly.  I have dropped about 9kg in the last week without even trying at all, and now I'm in that limbo land where my maternity clothes are way too big but my normal clothes are still too small.

Due date - 5 days before actual birth

7 days after giving birth
I am itching to start sewing a new winter wardrobe for myself, but I'm poring over my patterns for clothes that can be easily taken in when I lose more weight.  In the meantime though I've started sewing some little blue things for Toby so that he doesn't have to suffer the indignity of wearing hand me down pink clothes! And of course big sister Anna is demanding some new clothes too, so I have plenty to keep me occupied whilst waiting for some semblance of a waistline to return.

the reluctant baby is here

Monday 9 April 2012

It's a boy

Toby Thomas made a hurried entrance into the world on Thursday afternoon, weighing an eye watering 4.43kg (9lb 7oz).

Well it seems the best way to bring on an overdue baby is to write a long ranty post about everything you've tried already, because after I wrote the last post late on Wednesday night I woke up at 5.30am on Thursday morning with a very mild contraction.  Since my contractions at that stage were quite mild and well spaced out I told my husband to go to work thinking that this could go on for days.  I even started to do some washing and housework that's how sure I was that it would take some time!

But they certainly became more frequent and painful very quickly, and when we got to the hospital at lunchtime the first thing I asked for was an epidural.  When the midwife told me that I was fully dilated and that it was too late for any pain relief other than some gas I bawled my eyes out like the baby I was about to deliver a la naturale.  I totally respect those who choose to deliver naturally but I never expected to be one of them - I knew how much it was going to hurt even with an epidural! And I was right, it was the most excruciating pain of my life, especially when his shoulders got stuck and I suffered a third degree tear getting the rest of his buddha body out.

So I am still a little shellshocked to be honest.  Shocked that I had a spontaneous labour, one that was so quick, and that I did it with no drugs.  And I'm really surprised at how big he is - where was all that baby hiding?

Anna is delighted with her new baby brother, even if he's not the little girl she predicted.  In fact she's already told me that next year I can have a girl baby - not likely!

Anyway the painful part is now behind me and its time to enjoy our new baby.    So please excuse me for a little while - I'm busy sitting on a doughnut cushion feeding a ravenous baby and eating easter eggs!

Getting crafty

Wednesday 4 April 2012
Thank you all so much for the many and varied suggestions for inducing labour naturally - I knew all of you knowledgeable ladies would come up with some gems.  I have completely ruled out taking any castor oil, haven't been able to track down cohosh of any colour from the health stores in my local area and will ask the ob about a stretch and sweep at my appointment tomorrow. LinB - I don't even know what a wagon tongue is, let alone where I would find one in the middle of Sydney!  And don't laugh Trina, but I have tried walking with one foot on the road and one foot on the kerb (apparently the unevenness gets the pelvis rocking in the right way).  And as far as I know in Australian grammar kerb = the bit between the road and the footpath, curb = to reduce something, eg we all wish we could curb our addiction to fabric stashing.

In the meantime I had a massage which left me with bruises because the therapist was pressing so hard on the pressure points, had another acupuncture session where the acupuncturist stated that I may just be one of those rare people whose body will 'never' go into labour naturally, had my hair cut, had a manicure and pedicure and am keeping up with the walking.  I'm taking evening primrose oil capsules both orally and blush internally because I've read it softens the cervix.  I've been doing really deep squats (Hindi squats) and been on hands and knees cleaning like crazy, plus you can't wipe the smile off my husband's face at the moment - I'd say he'd be happy if this went on for another week! So surely there is nothing left for me to do but wait and wait.

I have conceded to my extremely pregnant state though, and have been resting more instead of sewing.  As much as I want to be sewing I am just finding standing at the cutting table, and getting up from the sewing machine to the overlocker to the ironing board just too much for my back and hips.  But since I have some form of craftiness ADHD I can't just sit on the lounge and watch crappy tv, I have to keep my hands busy.

Anna's daycare had an easter hat parade today, and we were asked to make an easter hat with our child at home. Pffft, as if a 3 year old could craft anything other than a red hot mess so sadly the crafty competitive streak took over and I made the whole thing.  But I wasn't the only parent that did this! I took this rather sad looking straw hat that used to belong to my grandfather:

and spraypainted it white.  It's a genuine Akubra hat which are an Aussie icon and really expensive, but this one had definitely seen better days and since it had a price tag of only $4.50 from David Jones it must be at least 30 or 40 years old so I didn't feel too bad about painting it.  Plus I don't know how my grandad wore this hat, must have been perched on top of his head because I remember him having a big round head and this hat was so small it fit Anna perfectly!

Then I jazzed it up with some rabbits, ric rac and ribbon, and some jangly rabbit shaped bells hanging off the edge of the brim and Anna now has a hat she wants to wear "everywhere":


And I've also spent far more time than I care to admit making little 'homes' for Anna's (latest) favourite toys:

I quite like these fairy dolls, because although they are Disney products there is a certain innocence about fairies but much like lego pieces they really really hurt your feet when you stand on them in the middle of the night because 3 years olds never put away their stuff.  So from some shoebox lids cut down to size, some pictures printed out from clipart, Japanese washi tape (love that stuff!) and some other crafty bits and pieces I created these display boxes for the fairies to go into:

Success - Anna takes them out to play but she always puts them in the boxes when she's done.  And even better, I've hung these above her bed so she has been spending a bit of time playing quietly in her bedroom on her own, leaving me to have a cup of tea in peace.

I wish I could claim credit for this bit of crafty brilliance, but I was heavily inspired by these gorgeous matchbox size ones I saw over at Craft & Creativity, which is a beautifully photographed and genius craft blog with a lovely Swedish aesthetic to it.

Aren't they cute? But seriously, crafty stuff like this takes way longer than sewing and Anna now thinks that every time she comes home from daycare that I've spent the day making something for her.  I hope she has develops her own crafty gene soon.....