Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Getting Well Part 2

Our beautiful Tansy had an operation a couple of weeks ago.  The operation went well and she is recovering nicely, but now that the pain has gone and the bandage is off she is very bored.  We have another three weeks of keeping her quiet (that is, trying to keep her quiet!) before she is allowed to start short walks on lead.

Longing to go out for a walk.  
The bandage came off about a week ago and the stitches came out on Christmas Eve (the best Christmas present she could have asked for!).

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Getting well

I seem to be recovering from my shoulder surgery quite well (touch wood!).  I'm starting to use that arm again and the stitches are due to come out tomorrow, so I'm feeling quite confident that I'll be back to normal within a couple of months. 

As a crafting enthusiast it is probably quite fitting that my first non-medical outing since returning home from hospital was to a nearby craft shop.  How could I resist a sale with 30% off all fabrics?!

I'll hem the cotton Christmas print to make a festive tablecloth.  The cotton drill with vintage seed packet print caught my husband's eye.  I'll make a shopping bag or two from it - perfect for trips to the weekend farmers market.

Plain thin blue lawn for use as lining in a summer dress.  Pretty butterfly print - I though it would make a lovely lining for a Spring jacket (I'm sure I'll make one at some point..!)  Cheerful blue and red soft cotton print to make a long sleeved summer shirt (as a redhead, Australian summers aren't kind to me unless I'm covered up!).

Is it fabric stashing if you have a something in mind for all your purchases?!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

From the garden

Notable bounty from our garden this week...

Some snow peas, broccoli and our first ever cauliflower.  The cauliflower isn't very big, but that was fine by me because it is one food item I really don't like!  We turned these vegies into a stir fry last night (and my husband ate almost all the cauliflower!).

Pretty rose from the front garden.  It's lovely scent is wafting through the living room.
The eagle eyed among you will have noticed the vase is sitting on the fabric from my Blue Dress.  I cut out and gathered the skirt today - hooray for progress!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Beginning a Blue Dress

I've decided to move on to a new dress (one that I have enough fabric for!), so have started the Blue Dress.  (Yes, in keeping with my imaginative titles, this one is, you guessed it, a dress made from blue fabric!)

 Technology is a funny thing - I used the same camera in the same location to take these three photos and the fabric colour looks completely different in all of them!  This photo is far too pale, though it does show the lines and slight texture in the fabric.

  Sketch with fabric swatch (where the fabric looks darker than it really is!).  
A fitted bodice, with an open neckline, a gathered skirt and a back zip.

I cut the bodice pieces today.  This photo shows the fabric closest to the colour in real life (dark navy blue).
 The fabric is almost 150cm wide, so I'm going to cut a full width of fabric for the skirt and gather it at the waist.  I'm a pear shape, so I'll see how I go with that much fabric gathered above my hips.  If it makes me look too wide around the hips I'll recut the skirt into a trapezium to reduce the fabric up top.

I won't be pushing myself to finish this dress quickly, but I am hoping to finish it before I head off to hospital for my shoulder surgery next week.  I'll keep you posted!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Heritage, sand and a mob of emus

Earlier this year we were in Victoria for a week and while there we took a day trip from Mildura to visit the UNESCO World Heritage listed Willandra Lakes.  What an amazing place.  It is a series of now dried up lake beds that were inhabited by Aborigines over 50,000 years ago.  What is believed to be the oldest ritual cremation site in the world, from 40,000 years ago, has been found there.

It was really windy the day we were there and I had to spend a bit of time that night trying to sort out the frazzled, sandy mess that was my hair!  But it was worth it to see such an beautiful place.  I hope you enjoy the photos...

Emu photo taken through the window of the car.  They were running away quite fast so I only managed to snap two photos before they were blurs in the distance.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Silk Dress Progress

I've made some progress on what I call the 'Hong Kong Silk Dress' (creatively named because I was planning to use silk fabric bought in Hong Kong to make a dress!).  This is the dress that I was pattern making from a picture of a 1940s McCall 7285.

I drafted the initial pattern and then made a toile from a second hand bedsheet.  Being an old bedsheet, the fabric is quite thin, so I'm posting a photo of the toile without me in it!

 Apologies for the dim lighting - I opened the blinds and turned on the lights, but it is a very cold and gloomy day here in Canberra (what happened to Spring?!).
I changed the gathering detail above the bust to a box pleat.  Mostly because I was feeling lazy.. (will I regret that I wonder?).  My husband and I both think this looks a little too much like a nurse uniform, though I think that is more because it is white more than anything else.

 Since making the toile I've adjusted the pattern.  I've gained a bit of weight since my accident, so I had to make it all a bit bigger as well as a couple of adjustments to turn the pattern into more of the style I wanted.  I'll have to forage through my cupboard to find some more fabric that can be used for another toile so I can check all my adjustments.

In the meantime though, here is the lovely fabric I was hoping to use for the dress.  Alas, the fabric width is quite narrow, and with my expanding hips there isn't enough fabric for a dress.  I even changed the pattern to have a side zip, to take advantage of the existing side seams to save a couple of centimetres of fabric from not needing to insert a back seam with zip, but I just can't squeeze the last couple of centimetres needed for the dress.  So close, yet so far.

So now I have a dilemma - what fabric will I use instead?  Or will I save the pattern and fabric for when I can be more active and lose the weight I have recently gained?

I thought of using this fabric instead.  I bought it super cheap at The Remnant Warehouse when we were in Sydney earlier this year.  It is quite thin though, so I had planned to use it to make a full skirt.  I'm concerned a straight dress might be too thin for it (even with a good lining).  But then I also don't love this fabric (I like it, but don't love it, and mostly bought it because it was so cheap), so maybe using it to trial a self drafted pattern is a good way to use it.  And it has a huge width, so even though I only bought 2 metres, there is lots of fabric for both the dress and either a skirt or shirt as well.

I would love to hear your thoughts.  Should I embrace the now and use the blue fabric?  Or should I put this project to the side for a while and instead work on the shirts I'm planning to make from some of my recently purchased Melbourne fabric?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Adding to my stash

Part of our recent holiday was a few days in delightful Melbourne and while we were there I had a look around some of the fabric shops (just because I can't sew at the moment doesn't mean I can stock up on fabric for when I can..!!).

Hmm, ok, I probably should have ironed the fabric before I photographed it.
- The dark green pattern is a Liberty print I bought from Tessuti - I'm thinking maybe a skirt?  
- The plain blue is from Lincraft - I'm thinking maybe a dress if I'm lucky?  It was the end of the roll so hopefully there is enough fabric.  Lincraft is a chain, so they have a lot of shops around Australia.  There are a couple in Canberra, but the one in Melbourne City is much bigger and better set out.  
- The blue and white print and the red fabrics are from the swoonworthy Clegs.  I'm thinking probably a shirt and a dress respectively.  There was also a gorgeous white and green silk print at Clegs that I loved, but at AU$99.95 a metre I could only look (ok, there was a bit of touching too!) but not buy it.

 We took a tram ride out to Rathdowne Fabrics, the fabric shop used by contestants in Project Runway Australia.  No fabric caught my eye, but these lovely closures did.

I'm trying not to be a stash builder, but it is hard to pass up some things when they catch my eye!  What about you, are you a stash builder or a strictly buy and make person? 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sunshine and happiness

We've been away for a couple of weeks and it is lovely to be home and to walk around our garden.  It always amazes me how much a garden can change in a short time - especially when the warm sunny days of spring arrive.

 Part of our herb garden

 Delightful blueberry flowers

 It is a bit hard to tell in this photo, but the raspberries have escaped from the pots we tried to contain them in and are spreading across the garden bed (at least it means we should get lots of raspberries!).

 Beautiful, delicate apple blossom

 I can't believe that two years ago we couldn't get these rhubarb plants to grow - then we transplanted them into pots and they have loved it!  Last year I cut the flowers before they could bloom, but we left them this year so we could see what they looked like.  They look quite pretty, but they don't smell pretty!

 A lovely late flowering daffodil

 This is the first year we have grown broad beans, we planted them in the autumn, but they haven't grown much until the recent warmth of spring.  They have lovely black and white flowers.

Last year we planted potatoes in this old box, this year it's garlic.

I hope you all have some sunshine in your life at the moment!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Screen siren wardrobe

A little while ago I picked up a great second hand book called 'Hollywood Knits'.  It is a collection of knitwear patterns based on items worn by some classic Hollywood greats.  They are 'modern interpretations' of the classic items, and I use that term loosely because this book was published in the 1980s!  I haven't made any of the items and I wonder how influenced the patterns are by the 1980s - certainly the sketches have HUGE shoulders!  There are some really lovely items in here though, all illustrated with a photograph of the star wearing it.  The book has 20 patterns and includes pieces from Hollywood icons including Marilyn Monroe and Gary Cooper.

'Hollywood Knits' by Bill Gibb, $4 from my local biannual second hand book fair.
 Stylish jumper worn by Greta Garbo and one I would love in my wardrobe.

I asked my husband if he wanted an 'Errol' so he could replicate the 'Errol Flynn jumper tucked into trousers look' - he looked nervous, sidled away and left the room before I could start measuring him.  I guess not every Hollywood fashion is timeless!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kitchen Maths

Six eggs from three happy backyard chickens...

Plus six fresh homegrown lemons...

Helps to make one very delicious lemon meringue tart.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Making plans

I've been spending some time looking through my reference books for inspiration on future sewing plans.  Some designs from the books jump out at me as they are, others need a tweak, sometimes it is a mix of different designs and other times the fabric in my cupboard just chooses a design.  This time some fabric in my stash seemed just right for a tweaked design.  I'm hoping to make a nice dress that I can wear to work during the day and then out to dinner after.

I really like this design from the 1940s, but I'll remove the flouncy bottom piece.

My sketch, it will help me when I start drafting the pattern.
Even though I could possibly track down a copy of the pattern from the photo above, pattern making is my favourite part of the dressmaking process.  I love pencilling lines and angles on paper and imagining how a pattern will look from 2D on paper to 3D in fabric - and then (eventually!) making it happen.

A lovely soft silk fabric I bought in Hong Kong earlier this year.  When I saw the fabric I thought I would make a shirt out of it so I didn't buy much.  But the shop owner kindly cut me "a bit extra" so now I'm hoping that through his generosity there will be enough fabric for this dress.  Fingers crossed that once the pattern is finished it will fit on the fabric!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Keeping warm and cosy (or, a long post about making a dog coat)

The week before I had my accident in April I made a winter coat for Tansy.  I've never made a dog coat, so I started completely from scratch.  First I searched the internet to get an idea of shapes, then I measured Tansy (adding extra centimetres in case her wiggling gave me the wrong measurements!).  I drafted a test pattern and then sewed some scraps of calico together for a toile.

Note to self - Tansy doesn't like new things, so trying to put a calico coat on her was, well, interesting..!  Though it gave me enough of an idea to know what adjustments I needed to make.  I made another toile, had another attempt at fitting a wiggling, squirming dog, made adjustments to the second toile, tried it on her again and I had a pattern I was happy with.

Dog coat pattern piece - cut on centre back fold

My husband and I discussed for a while what sort of closure to make for the coat - it needs two, one at the chest and another at her tummy.  We didn't want to have to wrestle Tansy into it, but we also wanted it to stay on, but to come off easily if she got tangled on something (she loves bounding through bushes and scuffling in undergrowth!).  So we settled on velcro.
It reminds me of a frog!

This coat is a simple cut out from some blue polar fleece.  I thought it looked a bit boring though, so I pulled out some variegated pink-purple yarn from my yarn stash and hand blanket stitched around the edge of the coat.  NEVER AGAIN!!!  Polar fleece is actually quite thick, so pushing a needle large enough for the yarn through the fabric about a zillion times to make the stitches was painful!  It took two evenings and I had very sore fingers!  But I think it was (almost!) worth it, it added a touch of cute to an otherwise plain coat and it made it look sportier.  Tansy is a very sporty and fun dog, so it suits her.

Out for a walk on a sunny, but cold, Canberra day.

Initially Tansy didn't like this weird thing I kept trying to put on her, but we persevered because even though she'd spent the past two winters without a coat, we thought she might actually need one.  Australian Silky Terriers don't have a double coat, which is great for us because it means Tansy doesn't shed hair like most dogs (less to clean up!), but it means she can't keep as warm in winter.  Canberra has lovely winter days (around 13oC/55.4oF) but cold nights and early mornings (regularly -3oC/26.6oF or colder) so Tansy needed a coat. Now she loves it!  I kneel on the floor and she races up to me, puts her front paws on my leg and lifts her head up so I can wrap her in the coat and close the velcro.  I'm really pleased she likes it - she probably doesn't care what it looks like, but she knows it keeps her warm!

It doesn't restrict her movement, so she can still run and explore while wearing it.

January 2013 update: There are more details about this coat at this newer post.

PS:  My shoulder is still giving me problems and I can't do much around the house (including no crafting or gardening) though I am back at work a few hours a week.  It's looking more likely that I'll have to have surgery, so I'll be out of crafting action for a bit longer - possibly not until the new year!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sitting Quietly

Way back in April I fell over.  Nothing spectacular, I was just walking and lost my footing.  At the time I was quite pleased with my right hand for reacting quickly and throwing itself out to take the weight of my body and I congratulated myself on stopping any damage to my hip.  Sadly though, the jarring impact has caused more concern than I could have imagined.

Initially I had bruising and sprains to my hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder.  I couldn't hold a pen or even curl my fingers into a fist for nearly two weeks.  Slowly my hand, wrist and elbow settled down, visits to a physiotherapist helped.  But my shoulder is refusing to improve.  Last month I tried going back to work for a few hours a week, but I work in an office so most of my day is spent using a computer or writing - something that is really difficult with my injuries.  Sadly, the pain it caused became too much and I went back to no time at work (even typing this post is bringing on shoulder pain). 

Staying at home for weeks on end sounds like a great opportunity to get lots done around the house, but I am right handed so not being able to really use my right arm means I can only gaze at potential sewing and knitting projects and daydream.  Instead I've been catching up on TV and movies I've been wanting to watch and trying to avoid the terrible daytime TV that Australia has! 

I've had some scans done and am due to see a specialist, so hopefully there'll be some improvement soon!  But if you don't hear from me much for a while - I'm still around and planning to sew and knit more just as soon as I can!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

From the garden

What a quiet couple of weeks we've had.  Here are a couple of photos of some of our home grown produce.

We've had a great eggplant crop this year 
(including a couple of those crazy two in one eggplants).
A sweet and juicy rockmelon.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Making a meal of it

We've had incredible rain over the past week.  There has been flooding in some parts of Australia and evacuations in several towns, including a couple of towns close to Canberra.  In Canberra itself there were road closures one day last week and Lake Burley Griffin has a couple of new 'islands' made up of uprooted trees and other debris. 

Tansy was so frustrated at the lack of walks during the days of constant rain that I finally took her out one morning in the rain.  Tansy doesn't like too much rain and I could tell she was sulking about the rain and being so wet, but she was also delirious with excitement at being out and about!

Finally the rain cleared in Canberra on Sunday afternoon so I went out to the garden to pick vegetables.  I gave about 2kg (4.5lb) of split and rotting tomatoes to the chooks and picked about another 2kg for humans.  Then I saw a couple of potatoes poking out of the ground and starting to go green.  All the rain had compacted all the soil and mulch down so much that potatoes were starting to show.  So I had a quick look for potatoes and found a couple more.  I was surprised because of the 39 potatoes that I planted, while they all grew into potato plants, we've had only one set of flowers this season, so I was thinking that maybe we would have hardly any potatoes.  But after finding the first couple of potatoes I decided to get the garden fork and try digging where a couple of potato plants have already died.  And there was a heap of potatoes! 

Canberra has heavy clay soil so with all the rain the soil was really muddy and soggy.  When I dug to about 20cm below the surface the soil was just sludge and water was pooling (like when you dig at the beach).

Today I dug in another part of the garden (when you plant 39 potatoes they end up all over the garden!!) where I saw a couple more potatoes poking out of the ground.  All of these potatoes are just from the top 5cm of soil, some are so big!

We are now very excited about our potential potato harvest and can hardly wait to start digging in a few weeks when all the plants have died back.

Update:  We ended up harvesting nearly 40kg (88lb) of potatoes!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Great summer shirt

I love this shirt so much!  I based this design from a shirt I bought last year in Manila.  I found the fabric during a chance visit to my local fabric shop in January and even though it isn't the colour I would usually buy I just fell in love with it.  All the seams are french seams and the neckline has binding on the inside.

Fabric: 1.2m @ $12.99/m
Pattern: A couple of hours to draft
Assembling: Once I cut the fabric out (my least favourite part of sewing!) it took a couple of hours for the french seams, an hour to do the manual rolled hem on bottom hem and arms then another hour for my first attempt at binding!