Monday, March 23, 2015

Birthday gifts

One of my goals for this year was to make as many gifts as possible. It's easy when it comes to my daughter and her friends' birthdays- girls are so easy to sew for! I whipped up this cushion cover for a party Elizabeth was invited to a couple of weeks ago.

It was so quick and easy! I decided to buy some Star Wars fabric and make one for Jimmy's birthday. Yes, I realise I've broken my vow...but it's for my boy's birthday, so I talked myself into making an exception to the fabric buying ban!

Once I'd decided to make the cushion cover, I went to Spotlight to get a zip and noticed the Star Wars fabric was 40% off. I grabbed a blanket-sized piece of fleece for $11 and thought I could bind the edges and make a quick blanket. However, I didn't take into account that the print would be backwards on the reverse side, so I went back to Spotlight and found the same print on a smaller scale, on flanellette. I grabbed that and some grey corduroy to make some nice fat binding.

I've never really done proper quilting before. I made my daughter a quilt when she was a baby, but because I made it up and did no research, it was rubbish. This one is much better, but far from perfect.
The edges are not perfectly straight and my quilting is dodgy, to say the least (I quilted around the big pictures on the fleece side). I'm really proud of my binding, though- I took my time with it and did every step of an online tutorial. I even made sure that the nap of the corduroy is all facing the same way!

The cushion should have been super easy, but as always when I make something using measurements instead of a pattern, I did something stupidly wrong and the back (just a rectangle of corduroy) was heaps bigger than the front! Oh well, that was easy to fix.

I can't wait to give these to my boy tomorrow and I hope he loves them!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Shagadelic Jiffy dress

As soon as my dear friend Trudie gave me this awesome fabric, I knew I had to make a cute shift dress out of it.

The last time I used this pattern, I had a really hard time getting it to fit me, but I thought I'd give it another shot as I think the style really suits the print of this groovy fabric. This time I graded the back waist to a size 12 (the top section is size 8) but weight want to do too much to the front as it has French darts and I was scared of stuffing it up. I wanted to add the cute little bow on the neck but I had barely enough fabric to cut the two dress pieces. The fabric was only 36 inches wide- I've never seen fabric so narrow! I'm it quite sure of the fabric composition- perhaps Trudie can help me out. I don't even know if it's vintage fabric or just retro repro.

It came together very easily, but when I'd finished and went to try it on, it wouldn't fit over my lower hips. WTF? I'm not even hippy...I have no shape! Luckily I'd only basted the side seams, so I just reduced them down as far as I could in the waist and hip area.

The fit isn't perfect- there is some excess fabric in my lower back and under my bust, and I couldn't even attempt pattern matching with the amount of fabric I had, but I love it! It's so cute and shagadelic!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Spit Up and Stilettos Harper Blouse

Last year, someone on a Facebook sewing page shared a link to this wonderful site: All, yes ALL, of their ladies' patterns are free! I downloaded the 4 that I liked best, printed them, and forgot about them. Last month I was thinking that I need to make a casual top, so I dug this one out. 

I had quite a bit of floral voile left over from the Firefly dress I just made for my daughter, and thought it would be perfect for this top. There are only 4 pattern pieces (well, 3 really...but either give you a collar and a collar facing, which are exactly the same) and it was super quick to cut out. The pattern says it takes 3-4 hours to sew, but it's so much quicker than that- even for a slowpoke like me! I think it took 2.5 hours including cutting. But I was lazy and didn't do the belt, belt loops, or rolled hem.

It was just sooo easy! I tried it on when it was finished and it was definitely far too sacklike for my shapeless figure, so I added dart tucks to nip it in a bit. They did the trick perfectly!

The neck kind of gapes open when I wear it. I considered adding a button closure but I didn't really want a restrictive high mandarin neck, so I've just left it and I think it looks fine. It looks great with leggings or my awesome Sourpuss pedal pushers.

In other news, my dear friend Trudie asked me to make her son a quilt cover using a vintage Star Wars sheet. I asked for a piece of fabric as payment, and this is what she gave me!

Aren't they divine? The yellow, orange and purple one is going to be made into a little shift dress, hopefully this weekend! I feel very clever, getting new fabrics when I'm on a fabric buying ban!

Friday, January 30, 2015

One Thimble magazine: Firefly Dress

I've been working on this project for a couple of weeks. In fact, this project has taken me longer to complete than any other project I've made, with the exception of the three sets of enormous curtains I made last year. I'm glad to finally be finished so I can gush about it!

This project ticks two boxes on my resewlution list:
- use fabric from my stash only
- give handmade gifts
And this wasn't on my list, but I want to try out patterns that I've never used before, instead of sticking to ones I've already used.

This dress is by Boo! Designs Patterns. Kristie is an Australian pattern designer and she has some amazing patterns for kids. I hope to get some more soon!

The dress features bodice ruffles, a huge sash, mitred neck binding, and a button down back. It is marked as an intermediate level pattern. At first I thought it was too hard for an intermediate sewer, but it isn't really. There are a million little steps, but each one is explained in great detail. The ruffles themselves took me about 2 hours- mostly because I wanted them to be perfect, so I took my time. 

There are also heaps of pieces. The bodice is made up of a front, side fronts, back, side backs, sash middle, sash, two ruffles, and neck binding. I did find the binding really tricky at first, but it was explained so well that it didn't take me long to figure out. 

Although this dress took ages to sew, it was a really pleasant project to make. I never complete a project on the day I start it- I like to do an hour here and there over the course of a week or two. Due to all the steps, it was easy to do one big step or a few small ones in a one to two hour sitting, then simply pick up where I left off the next night.

Everything was from my stash, with the exception of the grosgrain ribbon on the hem- I saw this in a discount store the other day and couldn't resist it. And anyway, I'm only banned from buying fabric, not other bits and bobs :p
The main fabric is some lovely lightweight cotton- voile or lawn- that I have had in my stash for about 4 years. I will be making a couple of blouses for myself with the rest of it. The pink polka dotted stuff is something I bought to use as a coordinating fabric some time last year. And the third fabric, used for the smaller ruffle, is a lovely Robert Kauffman with gold outlines around the flowers. It is absolutely stunning. It came in a bag of fabric my friend gave me and there was only a really tiny cut of it. I think this was the perfect way to use it and show it off. I have enough to make some kind of matching hair adornment.

All in all, I really loved making this dress, and I cannot wait to see the look on my daughter's face when I give this to her on her birthday in two weeks!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Our newest family member

This is totally not sewing related, but I was just over on another blog where the lovely lady was showing off her new dog, and I think it's nice to blog about something other than sewing once in a while :)

Our old Husky x Akita, Jasper, was 14 years old when we made the extremely difficult decision to have him put to sleep in September. He could barely walk, was completely deaf, and wasn't even interested in his food any more. He had been part of our family for 9 years- before that, he was my dad's, and my dad asked me to take care of his best mate when he learned he was terminally ill. The above pictures are Jasper as a pup, and then on the day before he passed.

I knew that I wanted to get another dog as soon as possible because there was just something missing when Jasper left. My husband told me in no uncertain terms that I'd have to wait until after Christmas as we were going away for a week just before Christmas. However, I was Facebooking on the toilet one day (as you do) and this photo popped up on the Animal Welfare League page.


I knew straight away that I had to have her. Akitas are so rare around here- I've only ever seen 3 others- and I couldn't believe there was another dog who was the same breed combination as dear old Jasper! I begged my husband and he reluctantly agreed.

 After many phone calls to the AWL, who couldn't really tell me anything about her or whether she was actually available for adoption or foster, we picked her up the next day. She is the sweetest thing you could ever meet. I've never met a more affectionate dog in my life! And she's very vocal...she talks like Chewbacca when she wants a walk or a belly tickle, and yelps like a maniac when we come home! Best of all, she loves running...she's the cutest running buddy a girl could ever have!

We did discover why she was surrendered to the pound...she is a serial escape artist. She got out 3 times and it was very worrying, not to mention expensive paying impound fees! Since my hubby put up dog mesh along the back fence in late November, we've had no more incidents.

She also loves the kids and other dogs.

Her name was originally Shyla but I thought it was a bit of a bogan name (for the non-Aussies, a bogan is the equivalent of a redneck) so we changed it to Shiloh. Like the Neil Diamond song :)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Stash bustin': funky new chair!

This is not sewing at all, but it did use up some of my stash fabric. It's probably not even deserving of its own blog post, but I'm going to do it anyway!

The chair in my sewing/music teaching room was looking very boring and black. Someone in one of the groups I'm in on Facebook posted a picture of their office chair that they'd covered, and it sounded so easy that I decided to give it a try.

I've had this hideous music fabric for about a year. I bought 2 metres of it with the intention of making a dress. What the hell was I thinking? It's so fugly. But for this project, it's perfect!

All I did was remove the back and seat sections with a Philip's head screwdriver, pop off the black plastic backing, place the parts down on my fabric and cut around them with my rotary cutter (giving myself a 3 inch seam allowance), then staple-gunned the fabric to the chair parts, pulling it nice and tight and using tons of staples.

Easy peasy! Brand new chair for nothing!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

One Thimble e-magazine

Late last year, I discovered a wonderful newish Australian publication- One Thimble sewing magazine. I'm not normally a fan of digital magazines, but Australia pretty much has no decent sewing magazines and I thought I'd buy one issue to see what I thought. The verdict? I'm hooked!

One Thimble has lots of great articles aimed at both the home sewist and the small sewing business owner. There are hints and tips as well. The best art is the PDF patterns that come with each issue. The patterns come from a variety of Australian indie pattern designers.

Most of the patterns are for children's clothing, apparel and toys. I don't sew a lot for my children, so this is a good excuse for me to make more things for them!

The first pattern I decided to try was the Mem Rose skirt pattern, by Ainslee Fox Boutique Patterns. It features a shaped front yoke, side ties, and back elastic.

This is for my friend's daughter's birthday. She's not really into typical girly patterns or colours and I thought this collection of fabrics would be just perfect. Unfortunately, I only had a fat quarter of each of these fabrics, so I had to do some maths to get the two 90cm wide panels for the skirt sections. I used a combination of 30cm and 15cm wide panels of each different fabric.

This skirt was a joy to sew and I had no dramas with it at all. I can't wait to make one for my daughter.
I also made a little yoyo to go on a coordinating t shirt, plus a bow hair tie. I think it's a super cute little ensemble!

Also in this issue were these cute softies. They are aimed at children (as in, for children to sew), but I think my kids a still a bit little at four and six years old and with no prior sewing experience.

They cut out their own pattern pieces, and helped me pin the pieces to the fabric and did some fabric cutting. They did some sewing but only on the ears, arms and legs- the minky fabric they chose is really tricky to sew with. I had to put my walking foot on to stop the layers moving around.

The kids had fun stuffing all the bits with hobby fill. They are completely in love with the finished result- Elizabeth has been carrying hers around with her everywhere she goes!