Loving: My Dowry Pincushion

I have been meaning to post about this gift for a little while now.  For Christmas I recieved the most gorgeous pin cushion ever by my team at work, found by Karralee (K - when are you going to get that food blog up and running?).   It is made by Dowry, who are a mother and daughter team based at the South Coast.  They design and hand make clothing, furnishings, dolls and other things from old discarded textiles as well as vintage fabrics. Everything is handmade in Australia. Check out their website, they make very cool things.

Charlotte Skirt Sewalong contd

I fell a little bit behind on the Charlotte Sewalong but am happy to say that I think I am now up to date.
The skirt has darts, is sewn up, adjusted, invisible zip inserted and lining sewn in.  Phew.  I think I stretched the material a little bit sewing up the second side of the invisible zip so it is a bit puckered (pre pressing) but it's not so bad, and given it is linen will hardly be noticeable with the rest of the creases that naturally occur.  (I hope).  For a first invisible zip ever, I'm pretty happy with it.
Invisible zip in - Yay!

The fit of the skirt is also great.  I took it in a little bit using the instructions from the sewalong.  Adjusting the lining then to fit the adjusted skirt was a bit fiddly because my adjustment on the skirt was a bit random, but I think the skirt sits well with the lining.  I tried it on and Ben said that it is a great fit over the bum, so that is a good sign., oh and it goes with my shoes!  I predict this to be a work (horse) skirt..  at least until the winter.

So, I can breath until the next post in the sewalong.  

FINISHED! Bird Wings for Alice

I put my head down this morning and finished these bird wings for my beautiful niece Alice, for her 5th birthday.  I really hope they make her fly -  she is starting school in February!  
The pattern is based on this tutorial from Llevo el Invierno.  Eri has lots of amazing things on her blog so do check her out.
You might remember I made wings last year for another little girl, Hannah, but this time I made a few adjustments to improve the wearing (I hope).  I added a collar with velcro (rather than just ribbon) and also wrist cuffs with velcro. It's not super classy, but I hope it will help the wings stay on and also remove the choking hazard that Ben is always so worried about.
Just like last time I used some gold leatherette for the back.  I really tried hard with the sewing at first to make it look nice but then decided not to worry too much as I think the uneven-ness adds to the charm.  (I would say that !).
This would be a good project for anyone looking to stashbust!!

On the cutting table

We got back from Thredbo today and I was hoping to catch up with the Charlotte Skirt sewalong (I have fallen a little behind - woops) and also make some progress with the bird wings for the birthday of my niece, Alice.  But, there were more important things in the household.  Oliver wanted to make an invitation for his birthday party - a Harry Potter party and as has been a bit of a tradition with him, he wanted to do a little scene with his lego.  When he was 5 it was Toy Story lego, 6 was Star Wars lego and now it's Harry Potter (in lego). But...we couldn't find Harry's lego hair.
Now we have a lot of lego in the house (a lot!) and I'd like to say that it is all neatly filed away, and it sort of is but the hair wasn't where it should be.   After quite a few hours of looking I finally found the hair, after tipping one of the buckets out along the hallway to sift.  Yikes.  Notice in the photo, that Elliot is just sitting and playing and Oliver is nowhere to be seen!!! Mmm.
Anyway, and to the point, hours later I finally managed to cut out pieces for Alice's wings.  The last time I made these wings, I managed to get a spectrum of pinks but I couldn't find that prepackaged goodness anywhere so I've had to go a bit mixy matchy. I think it will work out.  I think the ordering just needs a bit of tweaking.

Alpine Knitting

I'm in the mountains so that means knitting.

Last year, I made the lo fi easy baby blanket during trips to the snow, back and in between.  This time I've started on a baby beanie for friends having a baby boy in February (or March?).  It's been a long time since I've knitted something with decreases (or increases) so hopefully I'll be able to work it out from my little instruction manual from a night course I did years ago.  If not I have bought, on recommendation from Roobeedoo, Learn to Knit, Love to Knit.  I'm hoping this will be the start of something as I'm keen to take some knitting on our trip to France in March.
Of course, I'm a Grainline Fan Girl so I'm using the Felici Sport Self Striping yarn that I found on ebay (I couldn't find it in Australia?).  I had heard how addictive it is to knit with self striping yarn and now I can completely agree.... though I can really only sneak in some early morning knitting or a quick 5 minutes in the afternoon. 
Oh and here is a completely gratuitous photo of Oliver on the Thredbo Riverside walk today in his very own self designed Harry Potter tshirt! 

Mt Kosciuszko

Sewing has taken a little bit of a back seat as we are on holidays at Thredbo.  We are here for 5 days with my mum and my sister and her family.  Today my mum, my sister and I walked Mt Kosciuszko, the highest mountain in Australia (while the men looked after the kids).  For those of you who haven't done it, it is a 13km round walk.  It is 2228 metres above sea level so it isn't an enormous mountain, but wow it was exhilarating!
I'm so proud of us.  
We are all pretty nervous ninnies so even going on the chairlift (which takes you up to around 1900m) was an achievement!
We did the guided summit walk and for the couple of extra dollars (and I mean couple of dollars literally) it  was so worth having a guide to point out the amazing parts of the alpine scenery that we would have missed if we had done it on our own.  She definitely helped me appreciate the journey rather than just focussing on getting to the top and then back down again. 
This is us resting our sore calves in the Thredbo River afterwards.

Charlotte Skirt Sewalong part 1

Is anyone else doing the Charlotte Skirt sewalong? I am in need of a new work skirt,  this skirt looks classy yet straightforward, so a nicely paced sewalong seems like a good thing to do.  At this stage I'm just doing the first one in the picture.  No ruffle version yet although there is something fun about the middle version.
I'm sure if you want to join you probably still can and while the first post went up on the 14th January it was just choosing size, tracing and cutting and altering for a full hip adjustment.  
I had a lot of difficulty finding fabric that I liked for the skirt.  This is a problem for me.  I can never find material for a specific project, it always seems to work the other way, that I find the material first and then a pattern or style shouts out to me.
Getting ready for the Charlotte Skirt Sewalong
I think the skirt would look great in a brocade, but for this version, my pre requisite for the fabric was that it had to go with my new shoes and I didn't want a blue skirt so I thought yellow might work.  I'm not sure the tone is right but I'm hoping the outfits that I've got planned in my mind: stripey tee, maybe my lace copy cat scout tee and maybe even the sugar tee from the weekend will all work with this skirt and shoes.  I have some niggling doubts but time will tell!

FINISHED! Grainline Scout copy tee

Yes, this scout tee was absolutely inspired copied from the fabulous one by Jen of Grainline.  I am becoming something of a Grainline fan girl.  First the maritime shorts and now the scout tee.  Of course I'll also be wearing them together like a Jen copy cat.The only differences are that I hemmed mine instead of cutting it and I used lace to bind the neck rather than her suggested organza bias (because I didn't have any).
To be honest I hadn't really thought I'd ever make the scout tee, but I grabbed this lace material on sale at spotlight on the weekend and I immediately remembered the lace scout tee I had seen on the Grainline blog and knew I had to make a copy cat version.  
For those of you who haven't made it, the Scout tee is a really great pattern, it is super easy and has a lovely shape. I suspect this won't be my last Scout tee.  I made a size 4 and I think the fit is great.  I also used Jen's tutorial on how to do French Seams although I should have followed it a bit closer and clipped the seams, because there is a little bit of bulk.  I was going to put a peter pan collar on it but once I'd sewn it up I decided that it might be verging on twee so left it off.  I'm glad I did.  I am sure that the collar will find another home on another top one day.

The blue of the lace isn't quite as bright as the blue in this photo and is probably closer to the colour in the first (headless) photo (yes, still no-one around to take my photo- so this was my attempt at a self-timer minus a tripod!) but I love how this photo shows off what will definitely become my go to outfit.  The Scout Tee paired with my much loved stripey tank and spotty pants.  I LOVE this combination! 

FINISHED! A pattern mix sugar tee

It all started with one of my sewing plans for this year, which was to remake/replace the disintegrating sugar tee which I loved but made so poorly last year that it started to fall apart. I had two pieces of double gauze at home in the original colour way of the first tee and also a white/grey colour way, so thought it would be good to use up.  I also had to go to the fabric shop to get some material for the Charlotte Skirt sewalong starting tomorrow so I put down on my list to get some trim for a new sugar tee.  Our plans for the day were pretty light and easy (just a trip to the pool) so I was confident that I could find some sewing time and a simple little tee was just what I felt like doing.
My hunt for material for the skirt was not particularly successful (why is it when I am looking for material to make a particular pattern I can't find anything!?) but I did pick up this cute trim. Ric rac plus crochet!
The trim looked good with the double gauze, but I started playing around with the other fabrics in my stash. I remembered I had a long thin piece of Liberty Angelica Garla A, that I had used to make a top for my sister Christmas 2011.  So, I pulled it out and started playing around with matching fabrics for the yoke, first some chambray and then I settled on some striped seersucker which I still had a small remnant of, from a pair of pants I had made for Elliot when he was a baby.  
I cut the tee the wrong way on the fabric so that it would fit on the piece of material, but I think the pattern is forgiving in that regard.  Also, I lost a bit off the length, but there are advantages to being short!  It has the tiniest of hems.
The finished tee is so far removed from what I had originally thought I would make, but I love it!   I  love the combination of the trim, the stripes and the big bold flowers.  Yay, to a bit of unplanned, "organic?" sewing!
P.S. There's no-one around to take a picture of me in it, so an in situ photo will have to come later.  I must get a tripod for my new camera!!

Vivienne Strauss does fabric

I am a big big fan of Vivienne Strauss and have two of her paintings to prove it. Below is picture of me from Me Made May 2012, sitting in front of her oil painting "Amongst the practicing sophisticates, there was always one strange bird" and she recently completed a commission of the four of us which is just perfect.  
Anyway, today I was excited to read that she has just released some fabric through Spoonflower.  It's only limited at this stage but she says on her blog that she will gradually add to it. I hope so!
I love the blue in 'cats galore'. I think this print would make a great Wiksten Tank!  I'm very tempted. 
In other news, unexpectedly, I started and finished a sugar tee top today!  Hopefully I'll get some photos and will post about it in the morning. 

Thinking about CAPES

It certainly isn't the weather to be thinking about capes. It is the middle of Summer and we are having scorching hot days.  But I am.
I have been eyeing off this cape from APC which is currently heavily discounted on net-a-porter.com.  If it is reduced again I might need to buy it.
So it was with this little cape sitting in the back of my mind that I read the news excitedly this morning, that Oliver + S (Liesl + Co patterns) have released the digital woodland stroll cape sewing pattern, oh and a matching pattern for little girls. It is very cute and is lined!

Photo courtesy of Oliver + S
I just about clicked BUY, when I thought about the hood that I so love on the APC cape, which is unfortunately missing from the Oliver + S model. I then remembered the New York Cape Pattern by Tessuti  which has a hood, but is not lined.  Sew brunswick has a lovely version of the New York cape.
PDF New York Cape Pattern (A4 Print At Home)
Photo courtesy of Tessuti

So, a cape has now been added to my 2013 sewing plans.  I'm not sure which pattern I'll use or whether it is indeed a realistic plan, but it is on there nonetheless!

A Library of Liberty

I have this little journal where I have been keeping a piece of every Liberty of London fabric I have ever sewn with.  I don't keep any other fabric, just the Liberty.  There is just something about Liberty that I love.  I love the very fine cotton, Tana Lawn.  It is amazing to touch and sew with.  But more than that I love the narrative behind each fabric and each season's designs.  Every time I am complimented on a piece of clothing I have made with Liberty I am compelled to talk about the design of the fabric. I have told the story of Ornithology, I think at least once a wear!
Over the last couple of days I've parked my sewing and I've enjoyed 'digitising' my little journal.  You can click on the picture on the right of the blog if you'd like to see the Liberty fabrics I've sewn with. 
P.S. Must get to the fabric store this week to buy some fabric for the By Hand London Charlotte skirt sewalong  you never know I might pick up some more Liberty while I'm there. 

Keeping me organised and on track!

Today, using all the blogger skills I could muster I set up a page where I'm going to jot down projects and patterns I want to do during 2013.  Last year during Me Made May 2012 I was scrambling and writing down patterns left right and centre but I had problems keeping track of all the things I saw and coveted  So this is it.  This will be my official record for 2013.  Click on the image in the right column anytime to see new items added and to see how I'm going!

FINISHED FIRST! Maritime Shorts

Happy Go Lucky 2013!
Yay! My first finished item for the year!  
I started these shorts a couple of days ago and then spent the morning finishing the waist and hemming them. It's nice to have done one piece of sewing during the Christmas holidays. I'm back to work tomorrow for a few weeks before I take some more time off towards the end of January.  Aah summer holidays.  Too short.

Pattern: Grainline Maritime Shorts
Material: Checked seersucker from the stash (bought at A2F in 2010 or 2011?) which I found during the post Christmas cleanup of my sewing cupboard.  I was inspired and thought they would look good as shorts for me. I had previously made a pair of long pants for Oliver out of this material but he wore the bottom out of them sliding down a skater half pipe at a birthday party.  Needless to say the pants never really recovered.
Size: 6 but next time I'll make a 4.  They are way too big around the waist and even though I took them in a bit at the back they are still a loose.  The ease will be ok if I ever wear them with stockings underneath.  Which I might.  But I won't be wearing them with anything tucked in.
This was my first time sewing a Grainline pattern and I will definitely sew it again.  The instructions and tutorial  were great.  There was quite a bit of basting going on with the zipper but I managed to get it in and overall the shorts are good.
The only real problem with the shorts is the matching of the material.  I thought I did the pattern placement really carefully but obviously not. Not at all! There are three slight 'issues'.
1.  Matching at the sides, although they do line up in a shadow way (the red stripe with the yellow).
2.  The pockets, but hey, now you can see the pockets! and
3.   The way I've cut the waistband onto the material.  D'oh.  It's curving the wrong way at the back.  I probably could have fixed this, but I'm calling them design features.  All of them.  I'm not that worried about the back waistband because the shorts are too big to tuck anything into anyway, so no-one will know.
So I'm calling these a win!  
Happy 2013 sewing!

2013: Sewing Goals!

Top 5 of 2012
I'm combining the last two categories from the top 5 of 2012 hosted by Gillain into the one gigantic post: My inspirations from 2012 and my Goals for 2013.   Thanks again Gillian for mobilising so many of us all into some serious sewing reflection and goal setting!
1.  Me Made May 
1 May 2012
Day 1 of Me Made Me 2012
Me Made May 2012 introduced me to some inspiring and supportive people, including Gillian, Morgan, Carolyn and Merche, I discovered new patterns (and received a gift of a pattern from Emily from which I made two dresses in 2012). I love Me Made May and I'm so happy to read that Zoe will host another one in 2013 and so participating in this is definitely a sewing goal for 2013.
Last year I pledged to wear at least one me made piece everyday with no repeat outfits.  I did this reasonable comfortably as usually I wear something me made although the no repeats sent me into a bit of panic sewing .  I can't promise there won't be any panic sewing, but Me Made May is a great opportunity to mix the outfits up a bit and wear clothes in different ways so I hope I'll be able to do that.

2. Independent Pattern Designers
I began sewing using Japanese Pattern Books (in Japanese with no Japanese language skill) so while they are pretty clear, I had to make up most of the instructions.   This year I've used more English language patterns, (except for the Pavot).  Having detailed instructions to work through some of the trickier bits has been great and my sewing, I hope, has improved.  Well made garments is obviously a goal of 2013, but more than that though, it's been a revelation to me how many amazing independent pattern designers are out there drafting fabulous patterns.  This year, I've sewn patterns from:
Collette (though this was a fail)
Undies using So, Zoe's pattern
There are so many things to love about using these patterns, it's also great to have access to the designer and others who are making the same pattern. I'm currently working on Grainlines Maritime Shorts, so hope to have them finished soon and I've also signed up to participate in the Charlotte Skirt sew-along starting in January.  So in 2013, I will continue to look out for new independent patterns and designers.

3.  Choose wisely
I spent a lot of time in 2012, sewing, thinking about sewing, reading about sewing...I read as much fashion 'stuff' as ever before, but I barely bought any RTW.  In 2013, I hope I'll be as inspired, engaged and brave enough to tackle some tricky projects and continue to make clothes that reflect me.  My goal is to sew wisely: materials, patterns, projects...... I might do a sewalong or two and if the sewalong with the little black dress/party dress suggested by The Perfect Nose takes off that would be a fun and challenging project.  Who cares that I don't currently have an occasion to wear such a dress.
Having said that, I have two little boys, Ben, a big job and a whole lot of others and other things in my life.  Time goes too fast and sometimes it's great to spend hours at the sewing machine (and computer), but sometimes it's not!  For that reason I won't participate in KCWC in 2013.  I've lost my sewing mojo for the boys anyway and the hour spent each day sewing for them in that week could be better spent actually with them.

4. Keep on improving
Goes without saying really.  My little monthly projects helped focus me in 2012, so I might do a few of those last in 2013 (post our trip to France in March/April and Me Made May).  I'd love to end the year not fearing zippers!  I'd also like to get better with photographer and this little blog space.  A few months ago I did a  online course by pugly pixel  on some basics on using CSS on the blog which helped.  I seem to hang out here quite a bit so I may as well try and make it me.  And one day I'll actually work through this tutorial from Lucky Lucille on how to do a moodboard in photoshop!

5. Be organised 
I pride myself on being organised, but when it came to these end of the year posts, I found I had to scramble to work out what I had actually made.  So, in 2013, I'm going to keep a better list.  I love a list so this will be easy. I also got these 2 beautiful baskets from my sister for Christmas. The small one is going to be for my current project (in actual progress) and the bigger one is for all the other works in progress.  I did a big clean up in my sewing cupboard the other day and found quite a few WIPs that I had forgotten about and a couple of things that need a bit of fixing.  So, the system is up and running with a full WIP basket and the maritime shorts in the pink basket.   No more lost projects buried in the stash cupboard! Ha.