Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's not all sewing!

My knitting has fallen by the wayside a bit lately, but it hasn't completely disappeared.  I finished my husband's socks a couple of weeks ago - they are just the like the ones I made for myself recently (but bigger!).   And here is my current project...
I'm hoping it will end up as some sort of wide arm, slim waist jumper.  I'm using a diamond pattern from a stitch dictionary, but making up the shape of the garment as I go.  I'll keep you posted!

Toiling over toiles

Thank you everyone for your good wishes with my jacket, they were so heartening to read and hear. Here is a quick post to update you on my jacket progress...

We didn't have time to draw our own patterns, so we each chose a commercial pattern.  I traced mine from an old copy of the Burda magazine.  On Thursday afternoon I cut out the pattern and made a toile of half the jacket using spare fabric that was lying around at school.
Today my teacher helped me adapt the toile to fit me.   It needed lots of changes!  I always thought that I was a rather 'average' shape, but it turns out that I have a bit of a sway back and rather pointy shoulder blades!  (Pointy shoulder blades?!)  I now know this because my teacher and a fellow student discussed them in great detail behind me while I was standing in front of the fitting mirror!  But it was all for good reason because then my teacher helped me to alter the pattern so it would fit better.  (I also added a bit more around my hips).  After changing the pattern I found some more fabric and made a second half toile.

For this toile I didn't add the pocket (it sits in the dart and is very cute) or the collar.  I just wanted to check that the sleeves and body fit - and they do.  Perfectly!  Now I just have to be brave and cut into my lovely wool blend fabric and hope I can sew well enough to do justice to the fabric and the pattern! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Casual and dressed up

Well, I've recovered from the disappointment of having none of the songs I really liked winning Eurovision.  Jedward winning the (unofficial) Australian vote definitely gave me heart!  Ah well, there's always next year..!

I've been really busy with school the past couple of weeks - only a few weeks to go before the course is finished and I'll have to have a good think about what I want to do with my new sewing skills. 

Here are my latest couple of sewing projects:

Simple raglan t-shirt.  I made this in class using a 4 thread overlocker.  I don't own an overlocker at home, but this was so quick and easy to make that maybe I'll have to consider buying one.  The binding around the neck was put on with a fantastic machine at school - its only job is to attach binding and it is quick and easy to use.  I loved using it, but can't imagine I'll be buying one for home anytime soon!

Shirt with collar and stand and cuffs.

Close up of the cuffs and hem.

Close up of the collar and stand.  We only make one sample of things before we make them using nice fabric so this was only my second time making a collar and stand - I'm pretty happy with the result.

Tomorrow we start on our final project - a fully lined jacket... (wish me luck!).

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Feel your heart beat!

The Eurovision final is on TV tonight.  We don't have a Eurovision Party in our house, but we do take an interest in the show.  This year there are actually some decent songs (not just embarrassing cheesy Europop!), so we might make it through the entire show.

But should admit that I think spending all that time at school with the 18 year olds in my class is changing my tastes because even though there are a few acts I like, when it comes down to it I'm saying "Go Jedward!"

Did anyone else watch the second semi-final and see the breakdancing to classical music (not an act, they were just there to fill in time during the voting)?  Wasn't it amazing!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A fun sewing project

About a month ago when I was on a local bus I saw someone tuck the book they had been reading into a kind of over sized fabric pouch before putting that into their bag.  I thought it was a great idea to help protect a book that you are carrying around a lot.  It made me think of a friend of mine who reads a lot and spends a bit of time travelling - commuting on a bus and travelling interstate to see her boyfriend.  Her birthday was coming up, so I thought of how to create a book pouch for her.  Now that her birthday has passed and she has opened her gift, I can show it off - so here it is!

It was also my first attempt at quilting of sorts.

I loved it so much, and thought my mum would also love one, that I made one for her too!

I made it so it would be big enough to fit a large hardcover novel, but because it is fabric, it can also be folded over if a smaller book is inside.

My mum loved hers so much that she is putting in Christmas orders for more!  They don't have to be just for books either - I'm going to make one for myself so I can carry my current knitting project in my bag without having to worry about the knitting needles poking holes in things!

If you'd like to make your own - here are some instructions:
1. Chose some fabric in your favourite colour - I used a plain colour for the lining and 3 different prints for the outside. 
2. Cut the fabric to your preferred size (these are 61cm x 35cm).
3. Place the right sides of the fabric together and stitch the layers together around 3 of the sides, leaving one short side open, turn the fabric right side out.  It will look kind of like a pillowcase.
4.  Insert some batting - I used a very thin batting so there wasn't too much bulk, but so there was added padding.
4. Stitch the layers together so the batting stays in place (I didn't stitch the batting into the side seams as this would have created too much bulk).  I did a simple cross pattern with the stitch lines 10cm apart.
5.  Fold over the closed short end to create an envelope.  Stitch this in place by using a decorative top stitch - reinforce stitching where the ends of the pouch are.
6.  Stitch the open short end closed, tucking the seams inside and adding a ribbon.  Rather than using a button or other fixed closure, using ribbon means the pouch can be secured shut, but there is no restriction on how big the item inside the pouch is.

Happy sewing!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Micronesian celebration

You probably can't tell without an explanation - but this is a cake representation of the Rock Islands of Palau!  I made this for a morning tea at work to celebrate the successful completion of a project I have been managing for the past year with Palau. 

The Rock Islands (chocolate hazelnut cakes with whipped chocolate ganache icing) are limestone islands (the coconut) covered in forests (the green sprinkles) and with a large number of marine lakes (the green and blue sprinkles) in the beautiful Pacific Ocean (the blue jelly).

More feathered friends

It took a little time, but Phili has some new housemates.  Here they are - a Rhode Island Red and an Australorp.  They are both 15 weeks old, so they have some growing to do and it will be a while before they are ready to lay eggs.  We are still thinking of names for these lovely new chooks, I'll keep you updated.

After the frost

We had our first frosts for the year this week.  It was a chilly -3oC last night.  Surprisingly our basil hasn't been affected yet.  The eggplants are also still ok, but I think it is too cold now for any more of the flowers to set.  
The zucchini's have been wiped out.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Our annual ANZAC Day outing

Just last week I decided to try and be more regular in my posting and then both my husband and I got sick.  Nothing serious - just that tummy bug that seems to be doing the rounds in Canberra at the moment.  We are still feeling a bit seedy, but I think we are getting better.  So this post is a bit late, but here it is!

Every year around ANZAC Day we head up Mount Ainslie.  We do this for a few reasons.   ANZAC Day is such an important day in Australia that even if you feel the year is rushing past and you have lost track of time, this holiday always reminds you of the date and that winter is fast approaching.  Mount Ainslie gives the best views of Canberra.  Mid-autumn is a great time to see the full colours of the season.  (I posted a photo of Mount Ainslie earlier this year - you can see it here).

For my non-Aussie readers - ANZAC Day is the commemoration of the 25 April 1915 landing of the Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli, Turkey.  Like far too many military campaigns, Gallipoli saw the loss of many lives and almost no gain for either side.  However, the Gallipoli landing, and campaign, was viewed as the baptism of the newly independent Australia.   Now it is commemorated with a dawn service, a march and, for many people, a visit to the War Memorial. 

Last year Tansy's puppy legs were too young to go on a long walk up and back down Mount Ainslie, so we drove, but this year she was very excited to come with us on the 1.5hr walk [Note: if you are reasonably fit and mobile the walk doesn't have to take that long.  But if you have a dog that wants to stop and sniff EVERYTHING allow at least that long!].

Everlasting daisies

A lone wallaby

A termite mound

One of the plaques beside the walking path on Mount Ainslie - telling part of the story of troops on the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea during World War 2.

Beautiful native trees - their leaves don't change colour with the move to Autumn, but many of them are preparing to burst into flower within the next few weeks.

Trunk of a scribbly gum tree with the Australian War Memorial in the background.  The 'scribbles' are caused by the burrowing of the larvae of the Scribbly Gum Moth .

One romantic larvae made a love heart!

Looking down Mount Ainslie to the Australian War Memorial - Lake Burley Griffin - Old Parliament House - New Parliament House

The centre of Canberra - it really is a rather small city!