Top 5 'other makes' for 2012

I posted the other day about my top 5 clothing makes but I feel a bit self indulgent so thought I'd also post my top 5 other makes for 2012.

I am not a knitter, so this took me ages to finish, but I loved doing it.  The make coincided with a few trips to the snow so there were a few missed stitches while I knitted in the car, but I'm still proud.  It was a present for on the birth of a little baby girl, Stella.

This is a bit of a cheat as the doll comes as a kit from the Red Thread, well only the face does, so it's not such a cheat.  It was a present for a little girl Lily for her first birthday.

In September I took a Saturday course by Nicole Mallalieu on putting zippers into bags.  Unfortunately since the course, I have only finished this bag, but the course was great.  I gave this to my mum, who I am very happy to say uses it.. and it looks stylish in the process.  Next year I'm taking another one of Nicole's courses in March: Frame Purses! Yay.


This little bag has revolutionised my eating habits at work.  Everyday I now take a salad!  It is the perfect size!

5.  Bird Wings
I made these wings as a present for a little girl Hannah for her 4th birthday.  There were a few wearability issues that I have now worked out.  I really want to make these for my niece Alice for here 5th birthday, but I haven't been able to find the exact fabrics again nor the energy.  Her birthday is at the end of January so I hope I can find my wing mojo as these wings truly are beautiful.
PA010250 - Copy

Top 5 reflections of 2012

I hope you all had a great Christmas!! I'm back after the Christmas excess with the 3rd instalment of the top 5 of 2012.  Today, reflections and lessons learnt during 2012

1. Blogging
I started sewing in 2009 (though I, like many, had done a bit of sewing at school and my mother likes to talk about the appalling shorts I used to make and wear).  I made my first dress in 2010 and then proceeded to become obsessed with Japanese Pattern books and Liberty of London fabrics.  I decided to start this blog around about the time Zoe announced the dates for Me-Made-Me 2012.  I had such a great time during May posting about my outfits that I was hooked on blogging from there.  I admit that sometimes there is a feeling of, yikes, I haven't made anything to post.  There is great camaraderie amongst the sewing community. I have been a devoted follower of many sewing blogs since I started sewing, but now it's nice to be more connected.  I also used to lurk in the shadows and now, I'm probably the other way.  I'm always commenting on posts and the amazing things made.  Next year I'll try and be more thoughtful with the comments though rather than just 'WOW!  I love it!! You look amazing!'
4 May 2012
First dress I made March 2010
2. Focus
During the year I was inspired by a post on the Colette blog around how to develop good sewing habits.  I decided that I would make little challenges for myself in an effort to improve some of my sewing skills: August is Buttons, Zip-tember, FrOctober and then November was 'all about me' sewing.  I really liked this focus as it slowed me down (generally) and provided me with the space to make something that I was perhaps a bit afraid of doing before.  I still have a long way to go with zippers and button holes and plackets and especially those trouser button things, to make them look nice so I might consider doing this again in 2013.
3. Photography
This year, I've struggled with documenting what I've sewn. I've had some ok photos but with the present of a new camera for my birthday, I now can't say, oh it's the cameras fault! I really need to improve my skills in this area.  I never seem to get the light right with self portraits and Ben (who is a reluctant photographer at best) doesn't seem to look at what is in the background when he is photographing.   Seriously....he didn't see the blue ball in the photo!!
4. Style
I've blabbed on about this a bit lately too much lately already, but I made a few things this year that I made just because I wanted to try my hand at something - namely more clothing using stretch.  Unfortunately the clothes I made weren't exactly me (unlike that wardrobe full of blouses in Liberty fabrics in the photos which are so me). I've gifted my latest stretch projects to my sister over Christmas who I hope will wear them, but sewing time is so so precious that these projects left me feeling a bit empty.  I love to be carried away by a project but it's also nice to have a gorgeous original wearable at the end.  I've had a great year of making clothes (28 pieces in all for myself including 12 in Liberty of London fabric!).  Only 2 of these were complete disasters and the other 4 I've gifted to better homes, so I shouldn't be too hard on myself.. but in 2013, I will think carefully about the projects I choose.   Oh and only buy and make clothing out of fabric that I really love AND I will love wearing!! 

5. Stretched too thin
Following on from 'Style' trying to do too much didn't provide me with a great platform for sewing great clothes in 2012.  This all came to a head in October when I clearly over committed myself with school fetes to prepare, a birthday, frocktober sewing and  of course KCWC.  Every single post for KCWC was a chore and almost every bit of sewing was a chore.   I just felt like it was a bad time to be doing the challenge, I had too much on my plate and yet I didn't pull out or really pull it off.  To add to my problem with KCWC, I was trying to use up stash and it just doesn't work for me if I'm not into the fabric.   So, I wonder will I be any better with loading things onto my plate in 2013!??

Top 5 Sewing Fails of 2012

Today, I'm posting the second in my top 5 list as part of Gillian's Top 5 of 2012My top 5 sewing failures.  It's appropriate as in a bit of pre Christmas cleaning I cleaned out a few of my drawers today and I actually tossed some of my early handmade clothes into the charity bags. I did a lot more sewing in 2012 than in any other year, so it only follows that I have a few (well a lot of) fails.

Number One
A Broken Arm (making sewing impossble for most of the first few months of the year).
I couldn't start this list off without the biggest sewing fail of the year.. my broken arm. Back in January a roller skating rink was set up in the middle of the city, so thinking back on my childhood and the fun I used to have with my strap on skates, skating around the garage I thought I'd indulge in some nostalgia and take the boys skating.  Now usually I'm pretty nervous but for some reason I had really talked myself up and was brimming with confidence.  Over step on the skates (yes only one step!!) and woosh..  The skates came out from under me and I slipped backwards onto my right hand (yes I'm right handed) and tailbone.  I immediately knew my wrist was broken but continued the session out with the boys with a makeshift sling (mental note to self - always wear a scarf just in case you need a sling!). It was goodbye to sewing for around 2 months.

Number Two
The Sugar Tee
Double gauze sugar tee
Don't get me wrong, I love this top.  I really really love it. I really love the patterna and I really love the yellow lace. The problem is that I just sewed it so so badly.  That's why it's such a fail. I don't know what I was thinking to overlock instead of sewing it properly.  I've worn it a few times, but unfortunately I took it out the other day to wear it and it is coming apart.  It's impossible to resew and no amount of fray stop will slow the disintegration. I'll have to make another one of these as looking at it is just too sad.

Number 3
The Ginger Skirt
Back in Me-Made-May 2012 I felt a bit of pressure to make some new clothes so one Saturday I attempted to make a Colette Ginger Skirt.  Fail.  I don't even have a finished photo.  The size was wrong, the zipper was wrong and most important the material was wrong.   This fabric was sitting in the stash and before I even started making it I knew I didn't want a skirt out of this fabric, but thought I'd better use it up because it was in the stash. I think I really need to learn this lesson - there is no point in me attempting to sew something if I don't like the fabric.  Guaranteed fail!

Number 4
The Wrong Size
cord skirt
I had a few fails this year by cutting out the wrong size (the Ginger skirt above fell victim to this problem as well)  Probably the biggest example of this was my pleated pants, but I did a lot of adjustment on them and they are wearable and as such they are on my success list.  This cord skirt was one such item that didn't quite fit and wasn't able to get the love and attention that the pleated pants did. I wore this skirt for this photo and once to work, but it was just too big around the waist and I gifted it to my sister. I hope she has worn it?

Number 5
Problems by the number.  Maybe I wasn't made to sew in jersey or more likely I just need to think more carefully about the patterns I'm choosing.  Last year and the first part of this year I sewed a lot in Liberty of London fabrics.  Blouses, shirts, dresses, tops.. and then somewhere along the line I thought I should do something different but my style didn't change.  I'm not sure why, maybe it was having this blog.  Well, it just hasn't worked, not yet anyway. Don't get me wrong. I have sewn some clothes that I love in jersey/stretch and are welcomed in the wardrobe; but in general I think that even though there were some that were made well and are ok,  there were some big failures

Next up in the Top 5 series is 'Top 5 Lessons Learned'.  Check out others who are doing their top 5 over at Gillian's Crating a Rainbow.  

By Hand London: Charlotte Skirt Sew-Along

Over at Ginger makes this morning, I was introduced, not only to her fab animal print pencil skirt, but also to the Charlotte Skirt sewalong happening in January.  By Hand London are new to me, but the Charlotte pencil skirt looks so great with it's variations and is exactly what I need for my work wardrobe which is in need of a skirt to go with all those Liberty blouses I have.  
Image of Charlotte SkirtImage of Charlotte SkirtImage of Charlotte Skirt
All the photos above are courtesy of the By Hand London website and my plan is to make up the middle (plain) option although there is something very cute about the other two options.  I'm hoping there will be some of those made up in the Sew-Along.
  Pop over to the By Hand website to sign up and pick up your button!

FINISHED! Drape Drape 2 dress - another attempt

After my first failure with this dress, I tried it again with some fabric I bought at the Addicted to Fabric sale a couple of weeks ago. I had grommets put into my ears yesterday (yes, it does appear to be one of those years!) but as I didn't have to be at the hospital until after 3, I managed to cut this dress out while waiting and trying not to think of food and drink. I then sewed it up this morning.
This time, I added the extra strip onto the pattern and because the material was wide enough to cope with the wide one piece pattern, the dress fits much more comfortably.  This time around, I am even proud of my neck -  I'm still not sure whether I did it the correct way. It sits pretty nicely so doesn't matter.
I am disappointed with the left shoulder.  Stretch patterns always seem to make you sew one shoulder and then put the neck on and then sew up the other shoulder but I find this so messy.  I just can't seem to get it to look nice - my overlocking is always too thick.  Anyway, I've made a note not to sew both shoulders up and then put the neck on (I find the same problem with putting the arm hole bindings on and them).  Other than that the dress is good.  Ben thinks it looks nice and it probably does.  But you know, it's just not me. Apart from some messy seams, it's a nice dress, but I don't feel it when I wear it.  In fact, I think I've realised today that I'm just not that into stretch on me and this style, while I love it, just isn't me. Time to go back to some wovens for a while... I've been making too many 'blah' things lately.
On another note, We went to see Rise of the Guardians today (which was lovely) and I wore my Wiksten tank and some new pants I got on sale yesterday.  Now THIS outfit makes me happy.

Top 5 favourite (clothing) makes of 2012

Many of you already know that Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow is organsing a great end of year sewing reflection..I've joined up as I thought it would be interrsting to reflect on my sewing.I was going to wait until after Christmas to start on these posts, but like Gillian, have started a bit earlier so I can fit them in amongst all the other Christmas things going on.  First category is my Top 5 favourite makes of 2012.  I'm limiting this to my clothing makes as I might want to bring out a best of the rest later on.. !?

Number 5:  
Salme pussy bow dress
Salme pattern pussybow dress
This dress is worn to work just about every week.  I love it because it's Liberty of London print, it's my first lined dress and it has a pussy bow.  Say no more.  Yes, yes, the fit isn't exactly right ... the waist could be shorter but at the end of the day, this is a winner.  The pattern is by Salme patterns which unlike some of the other independent pattern makers haven't quite got their style thing going on yet, but have some really fun things amongst their range including the playsuit, which I know I'm going to get a lot of wear out of in the Summer months. The playsuit I made is down in my honourable mentions.

Number 4:
The Brocade Skirt
Brocade skirt
I made this skirt back in July.  I blogged about here.  This is the first, would you believe, pattern I ever made from one of the big companies.  It is McCalls 5591 and I do plan to make many more if I could just stop finding other patterns I want to make.  I love wearing this skirst with the stripey top as in the picture, but also love wearing it with my ornithology top.  Again, this is on high rotation for work and with different shoes can transform itself into an edgy skirt for going out in.

Number 3
Drape Drape Cardigan
Drape Cardigan no.15
Against all the odds, this is one of my favourites from 2012.  I made it in August when I was trying to focus on making clothes with buttons.  And there are many buttons! It is from the very cool Japanese pattern book "She has a Mannish Style" and I must say that it was one of the 'funnest' things I've made.  I just love those patterns that are the strangest shapes that seem to com together.  I had a lot of 'comments' about the fabric I used for this cardi - none of them good.. but I like the end result, have had lots of positive comments about it and found it a great Winter piece. 

Number 2
Paper Cut Patterns Pleated Pants
Papercut patterns pleated pant
I made these pants way too big, took them in and although they are still a bit big I LOVE THEM.  I'm so proud of them as they have a zipper and are also far more complicated than anything I had done previously.  The pattern is great, the material is great. I wear them at least once a week - they go with heaps of tops.  Winner!  I will definitely make another pair - a size smaller (unless I over indulge at Christmas).

Number 1
Deer and Doe, 
la Veste Pavot in Pink Linen
La Veste Pavot
Best make of the year, worst hair in a photo!
Great pattern, fabulous colour, buttons and an uncharacteristic slow and steady sewing pace, all go to make this coat my favourite make of 2012.  I am usually such a speedy and impatient sewer, but I really took my time with this coat. I wear it quite alot and every time it makes me feel great.  Unfortunately I haven't found loads of different ways to wear it yet, but I probably haven't put my mind to it enough.  Also, I wish now that I had known about bound button holes before I made it, as I think the button holes is the only thing that is letting the coat down. Having said that, overall, I'm extremely proud of this one!  Whenever my mum sees me in this coat she always says "You've come ahead in leaps and bounds"!

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Liberty Salme PlaySuit - I am praying for a hot summer so that this gets a lot of wears.
  • Megan Nielson Banksia Top 
  • All my Liberty of London blouses, but especially this one.  It was the first time I had put a collar on this shirt and I think it turned out so great.

Next up - top 5 SEWING FAILS of 2012!

FINISHED! No. 4 Drape Scoop Tee

A fantastic thing happened this afternoon at the school pickup - Oliver had an impromptu playdate, which meant that after a little bit of afternoon tea preparation, all the boys were left to play (and destroy things) while I snuck in  little bit of sewing. Yay!  Just enough time to finish No. 4 Drape Scoop Tee from Drape Drape 2.  I truly didn't think I'd get any sewing in before Christmas so this is great!
So there are some good things about this pattern:  The pattern is a fun shape.  Just one big piece to cut out. There is only one piece of binding for the neck... which I'm happy to say I did much better this time than the last time I attempted a stretch outfit and the style is interesting. I'm not sure whether you really see the asymmetry from the photos but it is there.
The cons though is the sewing of the right sleeve.  I just couldn't get my head around how to make that a neat seam.  It's tricky to see but it's sews into a point.  So in the end I just cut the sleeves and didn't bother to hem.  I started to hem the left sleeve, but then realised that would look strange so cut that off as well.  In fact, I prefer the look as it adds to the drape.
The other problem, is that it is reeeaaaally low cut.  It isn't noticeable in the photos as I think I've hitched it back a bit, but I won't be able to wear this unless I have a top on underneath or I'm wearing it to the pool.  If I make it again, I might adjust the scoop a little bit.
So overall, it's ok. Just ok. I haven't decided about the colour and the pattern and whether or not it's a winner. So, I'm not pulling it apart yet to make some undies out of the material - but it's on notice.   It's definitely not the most flattering thing I've ever made. Maybe I'm just not that into stretch fabric!?

Matching boots

Drape Cardigan no.15I nearly fell off my chair this morning when I saw these boots (from 80%20%) on the internet.  Remember the drape cardigan I made?   The one where the fabric was being called various unkind names by my family?  Well here it is in a boot.  It's not my kind of boot - but it did make me smile.

Christmas chores contd

Sorry, no proper sewing post today.  I did try and do 15 minutes this morning but it just wasn't working out for me. I am like a wound up doll.  A doll that is wound up too tight. Today, I've been frantically worrying about what I'm going to give my team members for Christmas and sorting out the boys' teacher presents.  But now I'm done.  Just.  And I think if I finish the Christmas cards tonight that I have left to send within Australia, I might be a lot nicer to be around.  Funny isn't how we (meaning me) run around trying to make it look like we are really nice people by giving gifts at Christmas,  but in the meantime, those around us have to bare the brunt of the Christmas cyclone.  Mmm. I'd like to say next Christmas will be different....
So as part of the little presents I've done for my team members I decided to make a Christmas decoration as part of the wrapping.  Some will be getting these  but I also made a couple of the ones above.  I love these and think they look great.  They are based loosely on the concept of these headbands I made for the fete.  If only I could work out how to sew plastic without it sticking all the time, I think I'd make 1000 of these!  But I can't work out how to sew plastic without alot of cursing as the plastic sticks, so a few for work and one for my tree is all I could manage. Oh and one of them I did with only brown and yellow pompons to match the football team for one of my workmates!  
One of the guys claims he is a Christmas Grinch so he gets this one!
For a few of the others I work with but not in my team I made up these little bags with nuts and things in them. I attached these great bon bon cards with a 'scratch it' joke.  
And the many teacher presents I did (the teacher, the librarian, the music teacher, the Director, the Assistant Director.....etc etc the list goes on)  were wrapped in brown paper bags.  Yes, I'm very lo fi.  With a little card I made using a scanned Christmas tree, Oliver drew under severe duress.  The two favourite teachers got a note book and a tissue pocket... and the rest just got a notebook.  I should have photographed all the beautiful little notebooks I bought but by the end was truly over it.  
Now, onto my French homework and those Christmas cards!

Christmas chores

I'm making progress on my Christmas chores and have now sent off the cards to the Frenchies and to the relatives here in Australia. I've got the teacher and work presents to go but am in a creative block about those and just can't seem to get started. Oh and there are a few other 'to be made' things, but they might drop off the list...

I did make some sponge painting tree wrapping paper with the kids on Tuesday (well me mainly because after about 2 trees they were bored of it).  Very lo fi - the blue ones are probably the pick of the bunch! But now after reading all the articles on people wrapping their presents in fabric, I kind of wished I'd done that, so I popped down to the fabric store (where I knew they were having 50% off)and grabbed a couple of metres of Robert Kaufmann's 'How the Grinch stole Christmas'.  I got some of this, but I think I might need some of the other patterns in the series. They are fun.  Ben will get his presents wrapped in fabric and my lo-fi trees will be savoured by the presents for family.  I love how Megan Nielsen talks about then just folding up the material and putting it away for another year. So much nicer than the bags and bags of paper that we end up with at Christmas - which we then sort through again looking for lost presents.
So, in sewing related news, I have cut out the Drape Drape 2 (no 4) t shirt pattern and would have sewn part of it last night but realised that I didn't have the right colour thread. Oh no, another trip to the fabric store....

Dear Santa...sewing stocking stuffers

Dear Santa,  just in case you need some ideas for stocking fillers, here's a little bit of help... 
A pattern from the latest range of Papercut Pattern.  I really do think I need these.  Any one will do!
I always curse when I'm turning little fabric tubes, so this would be great ( buy at the Haby Goddess)
Remember when I bought that giant roll of interfacing from Spotlight for tracing and how much I loved it, well, it's all finished and Spotlight don't make it any more, so how about you bring me some Swedish tracing paper?  According to Crafty Mamas it's THE BEST.
Every since I made the Wiksten Tank and saw the photos of the hem gauge in the instructions, I've been dreaming about having a hem gauge.  You know I need all the help I can get with hemming!
Lastly, Santa. I know I got a new camera for my birthday and I love it, but let's face it, I need someone to use it.  So, how about you pop Mario Testino in the stocking so next year I can have some nice photos of myself in all my sewing creations.  

Get ready for the Top 5 of 2012

Top 5 of 2012

Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow has come up with this idea to reflect on 2012.  Here’s the idea:
"Let’s take time to look back on the past year of our blogs by posting a series of Top 5 lists leading up to New Year!  You might post just one big list, or separate posts, or just join in on a few of the topics… It’s up to you and your schedule. 
Let’s write about our Top 5 from each category: 
  • Top 5 Favourite Creations (most worn, or most loved!) 
  • Top 5 Sewing Fails (UFOs, worn once, or complete disasters!) 
  • Top 5 Lessons Learned (either practical tricks and techniques, or life lessons) 
  • Top 5 Blogs and Bloggers that Inspire
  • Top 5 Goals for the New Year
As a blogger, sometimes we pressure ourself to constantly have some new to show. The teacher in me says that we have to take time to reflect and learn before we can move forward. (Besides, a blog post is just the beginning of the life of a me-made garment - and being a little nosy, I’d love to know the rest of the story!)

I’m planning on posting my Top 5 lists between Christmas and New Years, and I’d really love if you joined me. If you are interested, you can grab the “logo” from my flickr profile, and spread the word! 

I love lists, I love to reflect and even more I love to plan, so I am definitely in.  I think I'll do a post a day starting on the 27 December with my top 5 goals for the year on the 31st... but who knows, it is the silly season so the timing could really go out.

Stretch... we will be friends

This weekend we are off to visit my brother who lives at Merrigum (near Shepparton) and also a little day trip tomorrow Echuca, which is close to where he lives. The kids are going to drive a paddle steamer.  I'm sure I'll post on that later. I think I'm probably more excited than the kids.  But, before we leave I made a quick dash to Addicted to Fabric for their twice yearly sale. Luckily the doors open at 7am! Normally I loiter around the Liberty rolls, but I had heard a rumour that they are getting a new shipment in before Christmas so saved my Liberty spending for another day and instead wandered through the stretch fabrics looking for some fabric to make up some patterns from Drape Drape 2.
These two above  I'm thinking might look good as this tshirt. Although the stipey one on the right I can see as the drape skirt as well (remembering that I've photographed it sideways....
I bought this cream and dark navy stipey to make up the drape dress that didn't turn out so well last time.
And lastly I bought this fabric which is naturally slightly crinkled - maybe a top, maybe a dress.... who knows. Perhaps in the car I'll study my pattern books...