Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sewing Queue

Ok, my sewing queue for Autumn/Winter:

Oliver+S Music Class Skirt for Miss Five
Oliver+S Sunday Brunch Jacket for Miss Five
Oliver+S Jump-rope Dress (OOP); Long sleeved variation for Miss Five
Cord Pinafore for Miss FX
Crescent Skirt Sewalong
Wool Jacket Butterick 5087 (OOP) Pattern and fabric below:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stash building - Oops

We got back from being away on Monday and had Tuesday at home to get sorted for back to school etc. Hubby came back from the shops and said facetiously "Looks like something is going down at Spotlight. People coming and going like crazy. You'd better get down there!" Well, I did I looked online and saw they had some interesting looking fabric in. I usually find Spotlight very hit and miss but I like cruising their sale table for the odd find.

Get down there I did, with Miss Five in tow (not usually a good move). Oh my goodness they had some amazing fabric! I bought waaay too much. I bought quite a few designs in their stretch sateen and some fine wale cord for the girls. Plus a couple of $2 a metre bargains.

I now have so many dresses in my queue, if I actually make them all I'll never be able to wear them!! I'll be the best dressed mum in the car line at school and have a dress every Sunday for the whole of Summer! I'd best get some nice cardigans and tights so I can stretch them out over Autumn.

Easter time away and a little sewing

Well I ended up sewing while we were away for easter. My mother-in-law was aghast that I would take my machine on holidays and....SEW!!

I finished the Music Class skirt for little Missy. She likes it, yay! I think maybe I will make it in a softer fabric next time. The denim looks really nice and was great to sew with but the pleats kind of sit out a bit...kind of too perky.

I also did the pattern prep and muslin for the Sewaholic Crescent Skirt sewalong. It's the first time I am actually caught up with a sewalong. I did more prep than I would normally because Tasia kind of said so, lol. No, really, it was great to take my time and trace off the pattern and then sew up a muslin. I have never sewn the seam allowance on a muslin before. That felt kind of weird doing all that sewing for a muslin, but I was determined to do it right!!

We had a lovely few days away. Charlotte did lots of swimming. I had a facial. We all had naps. But the trip was a bit long so by the time we were back I was exhausted :-S

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

To Sew or Write: This is the question

We are heading away on a spur-of-the-moment road trip up North to a Rainforest resort. This is VERY unusual for us might I add. We haven't had a break away though for over 12 months. The place we have booked has a huge verandah with a day bed. The verandah is enclosed by a mosquito net -- very handy for rainforest territory I would suppose.

Hubby suggested I take my sewing machine and sit on the verandah and sew -- what a tempting idea!! But I'm wondering if I would be better off using the time away to make some progress on my writing. You see, I was introduced to someone new on Monday -- she has a daughter about the same age as my eldest. We had a really nice morning getting to know each other over coffee while the girls had a fabulous time. This woman urged me to write my book. I keep putting it off.

To Sew or Write?

Janome My Excel 18W + Oliver+S Music Class Skirt

I am in love with my 'new' machine.

I relieved my mother of her sewing machine last weekend and I am so enamoured with it I haven't stopped sewing. The stitches are so even I could weep! It has knob controls which I like. Just enough stitch options without being over-the-top. This is heaven.

I'm currently stash-busting...sewing Miss Five the Oliver+S Music Class skirt. This is my second Oliver+S pattern and I think I will only use their patterns for children's sewing. The results are so professional. Nice little finishing touches. I'm using a medium weight red stretch cotton denim. It's very nice to sew with. My daughter thinks I should make my Sewaholic Crescent skirt out of the same fabric. Cute :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Stash Busting

I need to do some serious stash busting. Can't close the lid on one of my boxes.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I have had a jacket on my 'to sew' list since last Winter. I was going to participate in Gertie's Lady Grey Sewalong but I found myself unexpectedly expecting and sewing for me was kind of put on the back burner.

But I'm back into it now and I still have my eye set on a jacket -- although now I think it is THREE jackets.

I spent a long time searching for just the right pattern and I ended up really wanting to make three very different jackets. Now, would you believe, all three patterns I painstakingly selected are out of print? ALL. THREE. One is still in stock at the supplier and one I found on ebay, in my size. How lucky?!? The glitch was, the seller doesn't ship to Australia. In comes my natty new myUSshipnshop address in Florida. I'm feeling a bit smug :) But not too smug -- I am still yet to source the third pattern.

The first one is a blazer that I want to sew in navy linen with cream trim. I saw a picture of one and loved it and I think this pattern is pretty close.

Out of Print - Linen Blazer with cream trim
Blazer inspiration
The second is a wool winter jacket. I love the Lady Grey pattern by Colette but didn't want anything too bulky because bulky coats make me look short and dumpy but I think this pattern fits the bill. Also out of print but available from the supplier still.

View B with self belt - Out of print
And finally, I saw a really nice tweed jacket and loved it! It's an Emerson 1960s jacket at $238. This pattern seemed a good match, but also out of print!:

Tweed jacket -- Out of print
What are the chances of me making three jackets??

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sewing Tools: Exciting news!

My sewing machine is a little work-horse. I was given it by my parents when I turned 21. They didn't have a lot of money to spend so they bought the most basic Bernette (cousin to Bernina). It has suited me just fine for many years. Lately though it has been frustrating me. Admittedly it badly needs a service, but it is noisy and the stitches are very uneven. It also can't handle heavy fabric. I made a nappy bag a few months ago and we nearly divorced over it -- me and the machine that is. I kept thinking, don't be greedy, it's basic but it is modern and good quality. That is until I realised it is 17 years old!!

My mum bought a new sewing machine about five years ago and I would say she has used it twice. It isn't too fancy schmancy but it is a good quality Janome that handles most things very nicely...and the stitches are so even it makes me weep. As I said, she NEVER uses it. She said I could have it when she dies...Hmmm. She's 65 and hopefully a long way off kicking it. I have to admit though...I have been seriously coveting it. I keep asking for forgiveness but it doesn't leave my mind!

Last night my mum rang. Now, I have NOT been dropping hints...honestly! In the middle of a totally unrelated topic of conversation she says "I've been meaning to say...I want you to have my sewing machine now." Silence. "Oh my goodness, are you sure!!! Because it has NOT been on my mind...much."

Can you believe it? I am getting a 'new' sewing machine!!!!!!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Patchwork Play Mat

Source: Purl Bee, Cheerful Quilted Mat
I'm not really into patchwork or quilting. But having two little girls has kind of piqued my interest a little. I saw this Cheerful Quilted Mat project at Purl Bee that looks super easy and enjoyable plus very handy.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fabric shopping in USA from Australia

I LOVE online shopping. Let me say that again...I LOVE ONLINE SHOPPING. When it comes to fabric shopping, I hear about all these great shops in USA but they don't have international shipping or it is very difficult to figure out. I was just watching daytime TV...ok, so bite me...but anyway, they were talking about the great position of the Aussie dollar which makes online shopping even more attractive AND they mentioned a site called where they give you your own USA address so you can have goods shipped there and then they forward it onto you. How cool is that?? I wonder if it works well? I might have to try it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Crescent Skirt


I bought another pattern. I said I wasn't going to until I had some more finished projects but this one looks good. The Crescent Skirt by Sewaholic is made especially with the pear-shape in mind -- which just happens to be absolutely me. And there is a sew-along happening for it too. Combined with the great place the Aussie dollar is in right now, I think this was an astute buy and will be pushing in on the queue.

I think View A might be nice for Autumn/Winter in a fine wale corduroy like this brown and blue polka dot cord from
Kaufman 21 Wale Corduroy

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Appease yourself with basic sewing + mitered corners

When you haven't been able to take part in the jacket sew-along you desperately wanted to be part of, have put your summer sewing off until next summer because you are now facing Autumn and Winter, you just need to do something simple that will let your machine know you still love it and give you a sense of satisfaction with a finished product.

The last time my machine was used I wasn't kind to it. It rebelled and now is in a broken state waiting for some tlc. I was...I'm gagging on the word...mending...more dry husband's shorts...a little bit of vomit in my the crotch area. I need to make friends with my machine again.

When you need some simple sewing, baby sewing is your answer. Charlotte's teacher is going on maternity leave and Charlotte asked if *we* could make her baby a 'mozzy'. Mozzy is Charlotte's baby wrap that she now uses as her blankie (still five years later). Her cousin had a muslin wrap and called it Muzzy and Charlotte misheard it. Her wrap is actually made of cotton flannel and we'll be using 100% cotton flannel to make her teacher a baby wrap.

The reason I sew them is because it is really hard to buy a wrap big enough to actually wrap with as opposed to using it as a burp cloth or light pram blankie. The ones in the shops are usually 75cm x 75cm (28 in x 28 in) and you need at least 1m x 1m (approx. 1.1 yds x 1.1 yds). 100% cotton flannel is usually 110cm wide so I buy 110cm in length then hem it using mitered corners. The mitered corners give it a really neat finish. If you have fancy stitches on your machine (which I don't) you could do a decorative border in a contrasting colour. You could also get fancy and border it with satin, which I don't do either. Mine are usually just hemmed with straight stitch in a matching colour and I like to use a plain, bold fabric in something you don't usually see for babies, especially baby girls. Charlotte's is purple and Freya's is an orange/red. I have others but this is the one I *assume* will become Freya's Mozzy -- it is currently still a cosy wrap and handy as a light blanket for her crib.

If you want to learn how to miter corners this tutorial from Threads Magazine is very clear.

Frustrations Abound

Frustrations abound here today, folks. At the risk of just having a major gripe session, today is not shaping up well.

It started with the children waking up an hour early due to the recent change from Daylight Savings time. As I had worked late last night I wasn't a happy mummy. My husband tried to quell my grizzles by telling me it was actually an hour later so I hadn't woken up early. Huh? Let me tell you, if I went to bed by the new non-daylight savings clock and set my alarm by the same clock and my children woke me an hour before the alarm, then I really did miss an hour's sleep and it's not just in my mind.

As I stumbled out into the lounge-room I realised that all my barking of orders yesterday (Sunday) afternoon about having the living area neat and tidy ready for the week had failed. I had some hope that the living area would be 'liveable' and the dining table where I cut out fabric might actually have some table visible. No on both accounts. I'm not sure why I hoped I'd be able to cut out today due to my deadline today which leads me to my next frustration...

I have a deadline today and somehow, in between school drop off and pick up, amongst baby naps, feeds, washing and other chaos...I have to get  A LOT of writing done. Now, maybe I am not a great writer and others can achieve things in the midst of the hurricane of life, but I kind of need a block of QUIET and UNINTERRUPTED time to write. Weird huh.

Also I got lost on the way back from school drop off while Freya screamed in the back. I've been doing the school run for 12 months. I don't know how I got lost. Well I do. After witnessing a major accident at the street where I usually turn, I decided it was a very dangerous right turn and I should find an alternate route. In doing so I got lost...badly.

Anyhoo, there'll be no sewing done here today.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A-mazing: Dress made from pages of Little Golden Books

It's a storybook gown constructed entirely out of recycled and discarded children's Golden Books.
Check out this link to see how it was constructed.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pattern Review: Oliver+S Jump Rope Dress

I fell in love with the Jump Rope Dress from Oliver+S as soon as I saw it. It is so cute and different to fashion being sold for children in most chains (sparkly mini skirts and black boots with midriff tops -- hello). And the details are gorgeous: collar, cuffs, belt-loops, pockets, buttons...I love the way Oliver+S designs bring back the innocence of childhood. This was my first Oliver+S pattern but I have a few more in the pipeline.

I knew this pattern fitted the bill of increasing my skill as well.

What fabric did you use?
I used a 100% cotton fabric that I got for a song off ebay. I liked the cute floral pattern in apricots but once I'd finished it I wished I'd used a bolder colour -- I'm not sure it went so well with my daughter's 'peaches and cream' complexion. I have a navy and white polka-dot cotton in my stash that I might make another version in. The nice thing about Oliver+S patterns is that you can use quilt-weight cotton and gosh there are some cute quilting fabrics available.

How easy was the pattern to use?
This pattern was a dream. Really. Many other Oliver+S devotees have said how sewing with one of their patterns is like taking a sewing class, and it really is. The instructions are so clear and there are even tips to help overcome common problems. I loved the tip for sewing the tiny pieces without losing them down into the bobbin: sew onto a piece of tissue paper. It gives stability and you can tear it away after you have finished sewing.

What level of sewing skill was required?
Oliver+S classify this as a 3 scissors out of 4 in difficulty which translates to "INTERMEDIATE: For the experienced sewer who has made a wider variety of items and feels comfortable with a new challenge." I think this is probably accurate because it was a bit fiddly with the details but honestly as long as you have some patience and commonsense this was very straight forward. I would possibly even describe it as advanced-beginner.

Did it turn out like the picture? 
Absolutely! It is one of those projects where you finish it and can't believe you made it. All the little finishing touches made it very neat and tidy.

Where can I get the pattern?
This is the bad news. It is out of print. That's right. Out of print! But you may be able to get it from a supplier that still has stock or second-hand from ebay or etsy.

One is currently for sale on etsy: 6m-3T as of 6 APril 2011.
If you want inspiration, check out the pics from a jump rope sew-along:

Embroidered book covers from Penguin

New embroidered cover for Jane Austen's Emma by Penguin Threads.

I love books. Although I am currently a Health writer, my background is actually more literary. My degree is in English Lit and History with a minor in French and Italian. I then worked for the publisher Allen & Unwin straight out of uni and made a bit of a career in the book industry. 

Penguin get me every time. I love the classics and everytime they rejacket the books I HAVE to buy the new versions. So I have four copies of Wuthering Heights, Emma, The Woman in White etc. I cannot help it. A good book cover is a work of art and this is NO exception. Check out the beautiful embroidered cover for Emma. There are others in the series too. 

Check out the designer's blog here: Jillian Tamaki Sketchblog

The Time Poor Sewer

Hi, I'm Jane and I'm a time poor sewer.

Possibly the reason for that is because I lack focus and spend too much time browsing wonderful fabric and patterns but rarely get down to business. For me, though, part of the fun of sewing is the whole process of finding an inspiration in terms of colour, style, texture etc. I'm always coming across beautiful inspiration on the net.

Also, I don't sew well in short bursts -- I need a big block of time with no interruptions. Probably like many amateur sewers I have way more fabric in my stash and patterns on file than I have finished products.

I am mum to two girls. Charlotte Lucie is five (b. 2005) and Freya Xanthe is 4 months (born. 2010). I'm pretty crazy right there because I just got Charlotte off to school when I found myself with a newborn. Freya is a very welcome addition to our family but not very planned...or all. But I love them fiercely, passionately, sacrificially...I'm a SAHM which drives me nuts but my belief in being here for my girls overcomes my loathing of being up to my neck in laundry, cleaning, snacks and school-drop-offs.

I do also work from home in amongst the chaos. I write and edit. Mostly I write health articles for a variety of companies. When I am employed and working in an office I am in PR and Communications.

I'm a wife to a very busy man who commutes anywhere between one and two hours to work each way depending on the traffic and his mode of transport, ie. car or bus.

AND, in there somewhere I love to sew but never get the time and I love to lust after other people's sewing and all kinds of sewing inspiration, which is much easier to slot into five minutes than threading the machine, clearing a space, turning up the music and actually SEWING.

So, I decided to start this blog, because blogging is also easier to do in five minutes than sewing, to share my inspirations, favourite looks, patterns, fabrics, name it. Because then, possibly, I am achieving something and maybe others will find some inspiration from it and actually turn it into a reality.