Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Selfish sewing: tiered skirt

By pure coincidence I finished this tiered skirt during selfish sewing week. As it's school holidays here I doubt whether I'll make anything else for myself this week, but I'm very happy with my skirt.

I made it to replace a beautiful shop-bought skirt that I had worn for years but that was starting to fall apart (as this one will probably do before long, since the voile is very delicate and sheer). I used the top section of the Amy Butler Barcelona Skirt pattern, changed the invisible zip to the side instead of the back, and added three gathered, tiered sections, lining the skirt with black muslin.

It fits well and has a lovely swishy feeling - perfect for today's sunny weather. Selfish? Well-earned, I say - especially after all that gathering!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Just a top

It's just a simple top, but it represents something bigger for me: the realisation that sewing tops for myself might actually be possible.

I bought a few metres of polyester fabric from Darn Cheap's $2 table to try out the free scoop top pattern from Skirt as Top. It was easy to sew, but looked awful on me - turns out I really have the wrong body shape for that style of top. Feeling frustrated, and with a metre or so of poly left, I decided to try copying a linen top I had bought recently. I literally laid the top on the fabric and cut around the shape, leaving a little seam allowance. After sewing the sides and shoulders together I cut a long thin strip of fabric to bind the neckline, and hemmed the 'sleeves' and bottom edge. It was that easy. And I quite like it, even though polyester isn't what I'd usually choose to wear. Now to see if I can replicate this success with something less sheer and synthetic...

Sunday, 8 September 2013

J is for jacket

Pattern J from Happy Homemade vol. 1 is a knockout. A simple, unlined jacket that is easy to trace and cut (only four pattern pieces plus some bias tape), easy to sew and easy to wear. I made this one using dark blue striped linen from Kim Anh Fabric in Oakleigh.

It's a versatile style, with ties that can be tied at either back or front, so you can wear it open:

 or closed:

It has handy pockets, too.

I love it so much that right after I made the first one I started a second version in another linen from the same shop, this time a very lightweight black with a subtle stripe. And although I like the three quarter length sleeves I made these ones full length:

I'm so happy with both my jackets. Hooray for J!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Playgroup art & craft: Recycled marker watercolours

I get very annoyed when I arrive at Playgroup, open the art supply cupboard and see this:

Really, what is so hard about putting lids on markers after using them?!!

Fortunately, this cloud has a silver lining. For some time now I've been saving these lidless, dried-out markers so I could try making the recycled marker watercolour paints that I've often come across online. And I'm pleased to report that they really do work! All you need to do is sort your old markers by colour and put them to soak, tip-down, in a small amount of water. Here is what mine looked like after just a few minutes.

I left them to soak for a week, then tested the colours to make sure they were nice and bright.

At playgroup the children did 'watercolour' paintings using droppers and the old markers, which I had kept after the soaking was finished. The thick crayola markers were great to paint with, and I felt like an extra good recycler for getting one last use out of them!

The colours turn lighter when dry but are still very pretty:

So don't cry over lidless or dried-up markers - gather them up and go make paint!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Summery top in Japanese lawn

When I made this top a couple of weeks ago it seemed crazy to be sewing something so summery. But since the first days of spring have brought such unusually wonderful weather (today was 26 degrees!) what was inappropriate last week is suddenly perfect. And that's how it goes in Melbourne, where we are often treated to four seasons' worth of weather in a week, or even in a day.

The pattern is dress A from Happy Homemade vol. 2 again, shortened. I love, love, love this Japanese lawn from Spotlight - it is soft, summery and doesn't need ironing. Now I just need to make some summery shorts and leggings to go with it...

Monday, 2 September 2013

Winter harvest

Winter gardening doesn't inspire me the way summer gardening does - so many of my favourites are warm-weather plants, and the things that do grow in winter seem to grow so very slowly. My lettuces have matured at a snail's pace, the celery I grew from seed five months ago still looks more like parsley than celery and the leeks are so tiny they're in danger of being mistaken for weeds and pulled out of the vegie patch.

But the broccoli - the broccoli is magnificent, delicious and abundant. I'm growing two kinds: purple sprouting broccoli and a green sprouting broccoli (many thanks to Liz for the seeds of the green one!) When cooked they are indistinguishable in both colour and taste, but on the plant the purple is especially stunning.

It's my first time growing broccoli, as I'm a recent convert to its culinary merits, and I heartily recommend it as a winter crop. Both varieties seem to be of little interest to insects once past the seedling stage, and when mature they grow lovely little stems that resemble broccolini. You cut them off and within a couple of days new ones appear, ready to be harvested. We are enjoying eating them together with snow peas and sugar snaps from the garden, sauteed with garlic, ginger and a bit of soy sauce, with toasted flaked almonds sprinkled on top. Delicous!