Thursday, 10 July 2014

And now for something completely different...

The second-last day of school holidays and our arrangements fell through, leaving us with no plans for what promised to be a cold and wet day. Terrified at the prospect of a day at home with two children who do nothing but fight, I came up with a solution that would require both a shopping mission (takes up time that might otherwise be spent bickering) and a hands-on activity (distracts children from annoying each other): TERRARIUMS.

I did a bit of research here before we embarked on a nice long shopping expedition to our local strip (which seems to have more two-dollar shops per capita than anywhere else in the world) and found a pair of fishbowl-shaped vases. Then came a leisurely stroll around Bunnings, where we picked up potting mix and sphagnum moss, and where the kids chose some shade-loving plants. I already had activated charcoal at home, and figured we could scrape up some gravel or little rocks from the garden, so we didn't have to buy those.

K and R filled up their fishbowls with the first three layers (little rocks, charcoal, sphagnum moss) and I added the potting mix and helped them with the plants. Then came the fun bit - adding decorations. K used some smooth stones from our last seaside holiday; R used the stones, plus shells, plus glass 'jewels', plus a small plastic animal whose species is hard to ascertain (is it a cat? a dog? a fox?). Both terrariums look beautiful and I really hope they will thrive. And now that I have all the gear I can hardly wait to go buy a giant fishbowl and make my own one!

Oh yeah, would anyone like to offer an opinion as to what this animal is intended to be? R is calling it a fox, but its tail would suggest otherwise... its face is distinctly un-catlike, though.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Spotty skirts

Two skirts from Sweet Clothes for Girls, both of them style O in babywale corduroy. I made size 110 with 120 length for R, and size 100 for her sweet little cousin M. (If the grey one looks familiar, it's because it's made from the fabric left over from my everyday skirt. Waste not, want not!).

As it's school holidays I'm on the lookout for mundane tasks that can be re-badged as 'fun activities', so I hired my ten-year-old son K to direct a photo-shoot featuring R's new corduroy skirt (cost: one packet of loom bands, plus some loom-band charms for the model). At first this seemed a great idea - R was instantly smiling and animated, and K had lots of ideas about what she should do. Then a couple of our neighbours' children came out to watch, K started to get a bit silly, and the whole thing descended into fits of giggles and attempts to dodge the camera.

But hey, it killed a good hour of the day once you factor in the getting dressed part, the actual shoot, a bit of bickering and some running round the garden afterwards.

I love the line of this skirt and the nice big pockets. It's also very easy to sew, provided you've been good and laid out the pattern pieces for cutting exactly according to the grain lines - the pocket pieces are set at odd angles and if you used a patterned fabric and failed to notice this, your skirt might end up looking a little strange where the pocket meets the side panel. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Ah, school holidays. Don't you love 'em?

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Happy Homemade pirate top

Pattern N from Happy Homemade vol. 2: a smock-style top in linen, size 110 with size 120 length as usual. 

I made this for R to wear as a 'pirate shirt' to a friend's dress-up birthday party, but since it's such a lovely pattern I hoped that she would wear it again on non-piratical occasions. Unfortunately, when she took the top off this evening she announced that it should go in the dress-up box.

Me: 'But it's a lovely top! You can wear it other times, too - not just for dress-ups.'
R: 'It's a pirate top.'
Me: 'No it's not, it's a real top that you can wear!'

So I don't know if I'll have any luck getting her to wear it again. Which is sad, because it's a beautiful style. I love the sleeve frills and the little lace tab under the placket. I totally stuffed up one button-hole (and tried to unpick and re-sew it, thus making it even worse) but luckily it's barely noticeable. And I must say, this top looks terrific both with and without pirate sash and sword - so versatile!

For the record, although R chose pirate over mermaid (the invitation having given those two options) she refused to wear pants - it was skirt or nothing. She might be a stubborn little pirate but she knows what she likes!

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

sweet girls' clothes

I feel so much better having got those sewing mishaps off my chest. In the interests of staying positive, I won't tell you how I've somehow managed to lose the beautiful wool jacket I made for R, just as I finally found the right snaps for it - I'll try to be resilient and get over it. And on the positive side, I'm very happy with the first two things I've made from one of my recent sewing book purchases, Sweet Girls' Clothes by Yuki Araki. I have to say, I really love this book and can see myself sewing almost everything in it (if someone doesn't stop me, because R definitely doesn't need that many new clothes).

The bottom layer of this skirt is shot cotton and the top layer is Japanese lawn. It's a sweet and feminine design, and R is very happy with it. I made size 110 with 120 length so it has a bit of growing room.

I was also quite taken by the pattern for this v-neck top with ruched sides, which I made in a cotton-spandex (or perhaps it was cotton-lycra - can't remember). What on earth is this colour called? It's kind of purple, kind of grey, kind of mushroom. Whatever it is, I like it a lot. And it's very similar to the one used for the dress on the cover of the book:

Now I do realise there's a bit of ribbon overload going on in this combo, and I didn't intend for these clothes to be worn as an outfit, but I was trying to minimise the time spent modelling - R's not big on wardrobe changes unless they involve donning wings and picking up a wand.


Both the skirt and the top were very straightforward to sew, apart from the v-neckline, the construction of which was initially baffling (but then, I am easily baffled). I messed up the overstitching a bit, but as I'm attempting a positive focus with this post I won't dwell on it. Onward and upward!

Saturday, 14 June 2014

A stuffed up skirt and a sack-like dress

The skirt: Simplicity 2451

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. Here is a list of my transgressions:

I sewed up a skirt after discovering I'd bought the pattern in the wrong size, hoping that the sizing was generous and that a medium would fit me (it didn't).

I improvised, adding panels in an attempt to enlarge the skirt, only to find that it was now too large.

I hurriedly and shoddily cut it down and re-sewed it, resulting in a skirt that fits, but that is so poorly finished on the inside that I have to avert my eyes when putting it on.

I recklessly trimmed the hemline by eye and must now suffer the indignities of a crooked hem.

For these sins, I am truly sorry. Especially as I like this pattern, and the linen-rayon fabric I used, and think that it will look quite nice when I make version 2, using the correct pattern size and sewing exactly as instructed by the good folks at Simplicity. May I say in my defence, though, that I did use perfectly-matched thread, which made all my unpicking work that much more challenging.

The dress: Liesl + co Weekend Getaway dress 

I made the dress in a soft, almost slippery thin cotton from Darn Cheap Fabrics, which has a subtle check and, conveniently, a splotchy pattern resembling what my clothes often look like after attempting to drink coffee from a poorly-sealed Keep Cup on the way to work. I love fabrics that camouflage stains!

I figured there was a good chance this style would look stupid on me, as I'm short and lacking a waist, but I forged ahead anyway, just because. I was thinking that if it looked monumentally silly I'd just cut it down to blouse or tunic length and wear it that way. And maybe that's what I should do - because to my eye it looks kind of sack-like, especially from the back. And quite a lot from the front. And definitely from the side. Or is it just a little too long? It looks quite respectable with a long cardigan over it, but I'm on the fence when it comes to whether I can take that cardigan off. I keep thinking of that song from the 1950s:

You can't do the bop in the sack
You can't tell the front from the back
You can't do the bop in the sack
Take that crazy gown back!

I realise this is an appalling photo, but what do you think, readers? Sack, or satisfactory? Cut or keep?

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Twinkle toes

I made a new ballet top for R. Although I really love the first one I made, the colours no longer go with her tap shoes - and clashing colours really bother me.

But why, you may be wondering, did the top no longer coordinate with R's tap shoes? Did she get new ones? Well, no. It's just that her tap shoes are now covered in hot pink glitter.

R's dance school recently held a weekend shoe glitterising session, an opportunity too good to miss. The process involved choosing a colour (R seized upon the brightest, pinkest shade available), covering the shoes with glue and applying the glitter. This was followed by a morning tea, plus about half an hour trying (unsuccessfully) to remove glitter from hands and clothing. The shoes were left to dry, then sprayed with fixative, although R's shoes still leave a charming little fairy trail of glitter wherever she goes. Good thing she only wears them at the dance studio... 

Here's the 'before and after':

And here is R enjoying her very favourite part of dance class: the bit at the end, where she gets to choose a snack before we leave.

Now doesn't that make you feel like covering something in glitter?

Sunday, 25 May 2014

A winter jacket for R

This is jacket Q from Girly Style Wardrobe, size 110, in a nice thick grey wool. My version is very similar to the one pictured in the book - right down to the white lace trim. The jacket would have been very plain without some sort of trim, and I knew R would appreciate this touch of girliness.

The pattern has an interesting method of attaching the hood to the back section. I probably would have been totally baffled had I not remembered seeing a translation of this part of the instructions. Once you figure out what you're meant to do, it's actually a very easy pattern to sew.

R was not happy about being photographed in her new jacket... 

...until a cat came along.

The jacket is meant to have snaps on the front, which I haven't added yet. I will get round to it this week... maybe. Melbourne has been so unseasonably mild that the winter jacket, which seemed so urgent a month ago, has not yet been needed. Sadly this weather can't last, so I suppose I'd better go hunt down some snaps before it becomes one of those almost-finished-but-lacking-one-tiny-detail projects that sits draped over a chair in my sewing room.