30 December, 2010


I forgot to say thank you so much for all the comments you've left over the last couple weeks that I haven't had a chance to respond to. Generally I like to reply to every comment you leave, but it's just too hard at the moment as I make little runs at blogging and then dive away again with only a couple comments answered but hopefully no-one feeling hurt that it wasn't theirs. I'm reading them all and will be much better at replying when I'm home again at the end of January!


Well the kind that lives in our yard that is.

This hare (though we call him our bunny) hangs out in the front yard most days, secure in the knowledge that he's so well camouflaged no-one can see him.  Bunnies aren't very smart.

There is also the squirrel who tears around at a mad pace up and down trees, along his little paths and down tunnels in the snow, popping back up in other places and then doing it all again with a great deal of manic energy. I miss squirrels so much in New Zealand and sometimes I entertain the notion of smuggling a few back in my underpants.

I made these ornaments for my friend Jess whose tree fell over last year (the great Christmas Tree Disaster of '09) and who lost a lot of precious decorations. The pattern is from Fa La La La Felt and they're very cute, this totally awful photo doesn't do them justice. The instructions say to cut the circles out freehand after doing the embroidery and so I did but oh boy it's hard to abandon perfect symmetry and embrace the wonk. Mum did one of them and had the same problem so I think it's probably an inherited thing ;)
Felt Ornaments

28 December, 2010


After we arrived in Edmonton my paretns took us down to Drumheller to see the Tyrell Museum and all the dinosaurs (we're all huge dinosaur fans) and then went up to Lake Louise to stay at the Chateau there. Wow. Our big thing while there was taking Hazel on a sled ride with huskies. She had no idea about it until we got to the parking lot and we met the teams. The dogs were Alaskan huskies, distinct from Siberian and Malamute dogs.

Husky team

Then we squeezed into the sled and were away! It was pretty amazing - both the way we were travelling and the scenery.

Husky sled

Hazel had a hard time with the cold, she's just not used to it and thinks she's dying every time her toes get a bit cold, but she enjoyed driving the sled with Holly who was our...dog sled lady. I'm sure there's a technical term!

Hazel on sled

Merry Snow Mermaiden!

A belated Merry Christmas to you all! I had great intentions of having a lovely winter image to mark the occasion but things got busy and then there was a tummy bug fiasco on Xmas Day and so here we are a couple days after the fact.

I'm still coming to grips with taking photos in the snow, which is proving more challenging than I'd expected! Not helped by me always being taken by surprise when it starts getting dark at 3:30pm, I really need to take photos in the AM! Naturally this has meant that I've spent more time than is rational trying to get rid of the horrible grey cast that a badly exposed snow photo has. Look out for more Photoshopped madness.

These were the Mermaiden I made for (from left) Hazel, Nicole, Danielle and Amy, the pattern is from the Wee Wonderfuls book.

Snow Mermaidens

I love the final product but boy they're a lot more work than I thought they'd be! Of course I realised this after I'd mentally committed to the project, but just be warned if you are going to take one on - read the instructions first! Also, I'd recommend popping a bit of stuffing into the highest bit of the hair before inserting the head, it gives a much nicer finish. I did it for the pale pink hair but not Hazel's on the far left and you can see how it hollows out beyond the head. You could also put some stuffing into the tail, although I've been told by those in the know the floppiness adds to the swimminess.

18 December, 2010


I asked Hazel to pick out a pattern from one of my toy books to make for her cousin Rebecca. She chose Maisie from 'More Softies'.


I have to admit that this wouldn't have been my first choice and I'm still not that fussed about it. I hope that I'm just seeing it from an adult's perspective as Hazel was quite adamant this was the one to make! I was angling for Polly or Mabel Monkey from the first Softies book myself.

16 December, 2010

Red apple pincushion

My friend Jesse lent me her much more superior sewing machine to do the free-motion quilting on Ben's quilt and some Mermaiden I'm about to do, so I made this pincushion to thank her - especially considering how nice she was when I emailed her to say that I thought I'd broken it as the bobbin wasn't working all-of-a-sudden. Luckily it seems to have fixed itself (naturally I'd done nothing wrong). And look, I found a use for leaves - putting needles into!

Apple pincushion

When you read this I should hopefully be in Edmonton, warming my toes (in their red slippers) by the fire with a mug of eggnog in hand. Hopefully I'll be able to do a few posts over the next 6 weeks as I think I'll take my laptop, but they'll probably be of snow and not much crafting unless you count the fabric I plan on buying!

14 December, 2010

Red wool slippers

Awhile ago I came across a slipper pattern reviewed on a blog (can't remember which one unfortunately)and although I don't usually click on advertising the slippers looked so gorgeous I couldn't resist, and got the pdf pattern for them from Shoeology on Etsy.

There's three patterns in the pack and I made the Sunday Morning version, the others are essentially the same but with straps.  I widened the pattern across the top of the foot and angled the toes a bit more. I also made them a bit shorter which I shouldn't have done as they're not a bit snug across the big toe but I'm pretty sure the seams will flatten and fabric will stretch and then they'll be perfect.

I made them out of heavy red wool fabric I re-purposed from an old jacket I had and lined them with cotton. The pattern also suggests covering a pair of foam insoles with fabric and I'll do that when I get time to buy some insoles.


I couldn't resist adding the felt roses, they're just so pretty! Next time I'll aim for a looser flower but I loved the way they came together. It's weird I'd never made any roses before yesterday and then did two different lots with different techniques in one day. I'll definitely be doing a few more pairs and refining the pattern to my foot. The construction means that there's no seam inside, it's all encased and it gives a great finish. The wool is very thick and stiff so the seams need to flatten out so the lining will sit flat. I would have put suede on the soles if I'd had any, but we're leaving in 2.5 days so no time to spend hunting some down! These will keep my feet lovely and warm over Xmas in Canada, even if the thought of wearing them right now makes me feel a bit ill.

12 December, 2010

The Bunny-hug Jacket and beret

I made this jacket for Hazel to wear when we get to Canada but it's so hot and humid right now that there is no way I'd get a photo of her wearing it, she'd expire of heat stroke by the time I took it (see the jacket in action here).  It's adapted from the faux-fur jacket in Ottobre 4/2005 which is designed for a fake fur that has a nice fabric on the back of it, which means you have only the one layer and just bind the edges with bias. Naturally getting something like that here is a non-starter, so I used a sort of stiff velveteen with a fluffy knit lining and a layer of polar fleece in the middle. It wasn't too hard to sew up, although it's a fairly bulky coat! I also made the beret that goes with it

Ottobre jacket and hat

The jacket has snap fasteners and is also meant to have two ribbon ties along the edge, although I'm undecided about those at the moment as Hazel doesn't know how to tie bows and they'll probably end up dangling around being annoying and looking silly unless I tie them myself. Naturally she's keen for them!

The hat has a lovely little rose decoration, the first time I've ever done a fabric flower and it was surprisingly easy. It's made from minky and velour.

Ottobre beret rose

The jacket is so soft that we've been joking it's like being hugged by a bunny. And of course the hat is a bunny on your head. Awhile ago I remember reading a blog that asked the question whether readers named the projects they were working on and generally I don't, but this one was definitely 'The Bunny-hug Jacket'.

08 December, 2010

All matchy matchy

About 6 months ago I bought some vintage flannelette (or flannel, what's the difference exactly?) from a shop called Selvedge. Sadly they closed down not long after that, although in some ways it may have been good for my pocketbook! Anyways, I had all this scrummy soft fabric and it really just screamed out pyjamas, specifically the Oliver + S ones I love so much. Sadly, Hazel was hearing "nightie!" instead so that's what she got. As luck would have it, I had the book "All Dolled Up" out from the library and it had a 'Classic nightgown' pattern for girls AND their dolls. It really is an old-fashioned nightgown that's for sure, ruffles and all. I made the ruffles from plain pink flannelette - the selection of those kinds of fabrics are somewhat limited in the middle of summer here!

Nightie for Hazel and her doll

It's funny seeing Hazel and the doll together as they really do rather resemble each other, except for the doll's skin (referred to as "fair" on the American Doll website) - a tan that dark is something Hazel's never going to have!

The pattern went together well, all pretty straightforward except I must have hit a pin or something with my overlocker and it suddenly started chewing on the fabric instead of cutting it. For some reason I persisted for longer than I should have, nearly ruining the sleeves but managed to rescue them with lots of unpicking and using the regular machine. It would be up to 10 days to wait for the blade to be sharpened so that's a whole lot of clothes for me off my 'to-do' list because they really do need the overlocker. At first I was rather upset because I wanted a few nice merino tops to wear, but now as the deadline for leaving looms closer I'm kind of glad!

07 December, 2010

Mysterious Christmas present No. 1

'Tis the season for teaser shots of presents that can't be shown in full. I bought this fabric for Mat to make him a shirt after he saw it in the Sew Mama Sew shop and fell in love with it. Luckily there was enough left over afterwards to make up this little item. It has polar fleece sandwiched between the cotton on top and linen on the bottom, and the the whole lot is box-quilted and bound with orange drill.

I'm using the same binding on Ben's Rabbits and Racecars quilt, so I guess I must be really liking orange at the moment! Which I do, particularly with blue. Being a child of the 70s I have an instinctive horror of brown, orange and yellow together, but somehow this combo manages to look more 50s retro than 70s.

06 December, 2010

Ben's quilt

Ben's quilt, originally uploaded by Hazelnutgirl.

When my niece Rebecca was born a couple years ago I made her a small cot quilt for Christmas from Heather Ross' Rabbits and Racecars fabric. Then her brother Ben came along 6 months ago so I thought I should try another one. I love this fabric hugely, it's great fun to trace along the roads, looping around and looking at all the little cars. My favourite is the car that's rolled and is lying on its roof for all the world like a beetle on its back (the yellow one in the middle bottom third). I couldn't bear to cut into the fabric and disturb the traffic flow so I decided to leave it whole and quilt along the roads. That was such a no-brainer that even Hazel suggested it quite independently! I borrowed a better sewing machine from my friend Jesse (and am now even more dissatisfied with my old one!) and embarked on free motion sewing. There are some distinctly dodgy bits and wobbles and uneven stitch length, but the design is so forgiving that it doesn't actually matter. Love that. The quilting gives the fabric a lovely dimensional quality that's even better than I'd imagined. I'm going to bind it in orange, put a label on it and that's done and dusted.

Thanks very much for all your thoughtful and interesting replies on my money and crafting post. I really enjoyed reading through them and thinking about what you all had to say. There were a lot of perspectives but I think what I came away with was a real desire amongst you not to be sucked in by the pretty blogs and into spending money and to do it the thrifty way. So it seems to me that there IS a divide in this respect, whether it's driven by income or simply attitude. I have to admit that I come down on the money side of things more than I should, I just don't have that op-shop mojo and am willing to spend money to compensate for that lack of initiative and time. But I could put more effort into using what I've got before buying new, which I find hard for some reason - probably deeply psychological and Freudian! It's great to read about all of you who DO manage that and it inspires me to try harder. It's one thing to save buttons and trims and feel all thrifty like I do, and another to actually USE them! I think it might be my New Year's resolution. Ok, so I don't actually do those anymore as a result of bitter experience and failure in the past, but it's a good thing to aim for.

04 December, 2010

Gingerbread men

Gingerbread men, originally uploaded by Hazelnutgirl.

I've been super-busy the last week, trying to work on 50 billion projects, skipping from one to the other and back again like a squirrel on crack. But I'm slowly finishing things, or at least getting towards finishing - there are two items waiting for binding that I'm avoiding but will get done in the next couple days. I have less than two weeks to wrap this up before I get on the plane for Edmonton. I wonder if they allow needles in the cabin? I could manage quite a few felt things if so. Oh, but probably no scissors. Does anyone have recent experience in this regard? I wonder if there are scissor substitutes...

Here are the first cab(s) off the rank - my little gingerbread and sugar cookie people. I can't tell you how cute these guys are in person! I couldn't get the brown one to show much detail, black on dark brown is hard to capture on film. The sugar cookie is rather full of himself for being so photogenic though. The pattern is from Fa La La Felt. I could totally do a couple more of these, they are the perfect project for doing in front of the tv.

29 November, 2010

Cat video!

Do you love a good cat video? I do (god help me)

via Dooce

27 November, 2010

Crafting and money

As I was driving along the other day I started to wonder about crafting and how much it costs. I think it was the product of some of the spending I've been doing recently on bits and bobs I deem necessary for whatever I'm doing - thread, invisible zipper foot (I'm going to conquer my fear of the invisible zipper shortly!), fabric, ribbon, little bag frames... Ok, so only some of it is necessary! But jeez, even decent Guterman thread is fairly pricey when you add it all up. And then at the stitch 'n bitch night on Tuesday the conversation passed over the amount people will spend on wool or fabric and how that shocks other people who don't know how much a lovely skein or a metre of designer fabric goes for.  There was also a comment on a beautiful wreath at Martha Stewart about the price of the components that got me thinking.

So what I was thinking was whether this new crafting resurgence is essentially a middle-class thing? When it's cheaper to buy most of your clothing than make it, and buy a quilt than make it - and pretty much everything else - is it just an indulgence to make it yourself at twice the price and think yourself clever?  It's sort of like when I was first at University and some of my classmates were exploring being modern versions of hippies and living alternative lifestyles and striving to look and be different and non-consumerist it was pretty obvious that the only reason they wanted to live like that was because they didn't have to - their parents were able to subsidise them. Anyone who was truly poor was trying desperately NOT to live like that.

When I look at some of the lovely quilting sites where the most gorgeous things are made from beautiful designer fabrics hot off the presses I often wonder at the money that goes into making them - definitely out of reach of many people, especially these days. These are the quilts and blogs of the affluent and educated.  I don't actually have an issue with that, it just makes me think about whether there is a divide in the crafting world between the haves and the have-nots just as there is in the real world (for lack of a better term!).

I suppose this is a bit of an unfocused ramble because I was also negotiating roundabouts and intersections and other drivers at the time, but I'd love to hear anyone else's thoughts on this - even if it's just to tell me I'm delusional!

25 November, 2010

Why hello there!

I am still around, just being incredibly disorganised and slightly overwhelmed yet adding more projects all the time. Something's got to give! It appears to be the blog at the moment.

Firstly, thanks to everyone who took up the CFM challenge. I was disappointed that I didn't manage to do more but I do have a tissue pattern half-altered that I'm looking forward to showing you. I had hoped to have it done already but then the FBA I did wasn't enough so I have to go back and redo it which is one of my pet peeves! I'm not good at redoing. Pop on over to the Flickr group and see what the other participants came up with, I was really impressed!

I had a lovely time at The Little Craft Store's first stitch 'n bitch evening on Tuesday and got the first one of these little felt gingerbread/sugar cookie men made. The pattern is from Fa la la la Felt which, as I said here, is a really wonderful book. And of course working with felt is always so nice!

fa la la la felt :: gingerman + sugar cookie friend

Right now I'm working on a little Tooth Fairy tooth pouch for Hazel who has her first wobbly tooth! I'm also part way though making an Ottobre jacket for her for our upcoming trip to Canada (less than 3 weeks eeep!), a hat, a couple tops for me, a toy for my niece, a small quilt for my nephew, and various and assorted unmentionable Christmas presents.  I'll try and be a better blogger in the next couple weeks, I really will, but I hope you understand if I go AWOL occasionally! I'm not the most organised crafter and I tend to have too many things on the go at once, my mind in 5 different places, and am consequently not the most efficient person on the face of the planet. Oh, and I have to give a talk at a conference on Wednesday - guess I'd better work on the Powerpoint show sometime too!

21 November, 2010

A lovely weekend

Hazel and I flew down to Nelson for the weekend to visit my aunt and cousins. Our family has been out at Stoke since at least the early 1900s and my cousin owns the house my great-grandfather built. Although I don't get to visit as often as I'd like, I always feel this strong connection with the place when I do. It seemed even stronger this time around as I was having to add on extra greats when telling Hazel about these relations of hers and who had built what and worked where and so-on.  I had a quick troll through some of the old family photographs out there and then of course had to have a look at a few I'd scanned several years ago and never got around to doing anything with (much to my shame). I can't find the notes attached to each scan so I can't give the dates for sure but here are a few of my favourites:

My grandparents Violet and Andrew worked in the orchards so there are several photos of them together as a courting couple (though apparently my great-grandfather thought my grandfather was coming to visit him!) and with friends. I think these would date to about 1928-9. My great-grandfather must have been a bit dense if he didn't realise these two were keen on each other!

Giblin orchard Violet & Andrew

Tea break. My grandmother is second from left. Look at the shoes she's wearing! The two girls on either side of her look to have light tennis shoes on but she and the older lady at the right are picking apples in style!  Actually they both have long duster-type coats on, maybe they were doing something else?
Giblin orchard 1

And one of my absolute favourites - she's beautiful, he's handsome...  Violet died long before I was born and I think I was two or three the only time I met Andrew before he died when I was 5, so I didn't know either of them but looking at these photos and reading some of Violet's letters I feel like perhaps I do a little bit anyways.
Violet & Andrew Bronte St oval

Normal crafting posts will resume shortly!

17 November, 2010

The kindness of strangers

Well ok they're not strangers but they ARE kind!

Heleen from Ruby In The Dust gave me a piece of her gorgeous new fabric 'in the neighbourhood' which I adore, and it's on very fine linen which gives it a lovely feel.

In The Neighbourhood

I couldn't resist taking this photo of it all crumpled up, I love the way the fabric drapes

In The Neighbourhood

And last week I was lucky enough to win some fabric in Stitchbird's giveaway and it arrived yesterday, with a few little extras - what a sweetie!

Fabric from Stitchbird competition

I'm planning on appliquéing the little Cookie figure onto the back of my red quilt. The speech bubble says "freak", so every time I look at the back of my quilt I'll have a quiet little giggle.

16 November, 2010

Still no sewing...

...and it's breaking my heart. I'm trying to get the marking out of the way, although I think I strained my back trying to carry a stack of final exam scripts. Seriously, those are some heavy suckers! Luckily I don't have to mark those, my lovely tutor did, but I need to play with marks and write things on them. Once they're out of the way I'm hoping to get in at least one more CFM post before it's over!

So to keep this place mildly ticking over I thought I'd play along with Pip's 20 Questions meme
  1. Sweet or Savoury?
  2. Dresses or Jeans?
  3. House or Apartment?
  4. Shop Online or Offline?
  5. DVDs or Downloads?
  6. Cocktails or Juice?
  7. Chocolate or Strawberry?
  8. Laptop or PC?
  9. Magazines or Newspapers?
  10. Facebook or Twitter?
  11. CDs or MP3s?
  12. Kids or Pets?
  13. Macaron or Cupcakes?
  14. Walk or Run?
  15. Breakfast in Bed or Breakfast Out?
  16. Market or Supermarket?
  17. Sourdough or Grainy?
  18. Heels or Flats?
  19. Late nights or Not?
  20. Coffee or Tea?
  1. Savoury! I used to be a sweet girl but now I'm all about the salt and the fats. 
  2. Jeans. But I wish it were dresses.
  3. House. Did the apartment thing and got really tired of having so many neighbours! Two gives you more than enough opportunity for noise that is not your own.
  4. DVDS. I'm an old-fashioned kind of gal. 
  5. Online. Which is such a copout because it just reflects my basic laziness. I prefer to shop for fabric in person though, online might have better selection but you can't finger the merchandise.
  6. On a daily basis that would be juice but I do like to break out occasionally with a Martini or something classy.
  7. Chocolate! Or even better, both! But only real strawberries, I have no love for anything 'strawberry flavoured', including icecream.
  8. PC - I like my laptop but it's murder on my posture and I love a big screen.
  9. Magazines I suppose, although newspapers are pretty good too.
  10. My Tweets go straight to my Facebook so they're pretty much one and the same. I like the catching up with friends part of Facebook and the brevity and publicity of Twitter, they're not really comparable in my mind.
  11. I like the idea of CDs as something solid in my hand but I mostly get my music from the iTunes store.
  12. Both! Why do I have to choose? Well I suppose if I did I'd keep Hazel :) I generally like other people's pets more than their kids though.
  13. Cupcakes because I've never had a macaron. But I will one day!
  14. Walk. My running days are over due to bad knees.
  15. Out. Although bed is good, but there tends to be Eggs Benedict on my plate when we go out and not in bed.
  16. If I could shop at a market every day I'd be happy. But I can't so I mostly go to the supermarket.
  17. Depends on the quality of the bread! If they were equally amazing I guess I'd go grain.
  18. Flats. No heels. No flats. Oh I don't know! I wear flats 90% of the time but get a disproportionate amount of enjoyment from the 10% heel time.
  19. My 18 year old self would cringe at this, but definitely not a late night person anymore! Well I am at home if I'm sewing, but if we're out I usually want to be home in bed by 11.
  20. Tea! Never learned to drink coffee, to Mat's eternal sadness.

    13 November, 2010

    Library books galore

    I'm still a bit sore after the operation so no sewing for me for awhile unfortunately! But I can look at books instead. Auckland has recently become what it (rather pompously) likes to call a "super-city" by amalgamating all the different councils into one. I won't go into all the politics of it (which are more than a little appalling) or how much it'll cost (WAY more than they promised natch) or whether it'll be successful or not (no idea, suspect not) but the one thing I've been gleefully taking advantage of is the new library system. Previously, Waitakere Library was incredibly deficient in the craft book line. I think they had a couple Amy Butler books and that was about it. But now, oh now there are LOTS of books and I'm requesting them by the handful.

    These are the ones I've got at the moment:

    The Perfect Fit: The Classic Guide to Altering Patterns This is the one that Google Books has a portion of online and it's a useful book.

    I also bought Fit For Real People and it's marvellous - the two books compliment each other really well, explaining techniques slightly differently and more clearly in some cases. Fit for real people is slightly more comprehensive and it explains the reasoning behind a lot of the alterations well, including what order to do them in. I can't wait to get stuck into doing some on my patterns. After reading through both of them it's no wonder I've never been hugely happy with my results in making clothes for myself and find it much easier to make kids' clothes!

    Hazel got a lovely American Girl doll for her birthday this year from my brother in NY, and she really needs some more clothes for her. American Doll don't make it very easy to buy internationally and Hazel is determined to get the charms that come with the real deal (hello fabulous marketing!) so I wanted to make some clothes to stand in for awhile.  I like this book All Dolled Up, even though I still rebel internally at the idea of girls and dolls dressed alike. Hazel thinks its a fabulous idea though!  The patterns are easy and done in fabrics more to my taste would actually be pretty nice - both for girls and dolls!

    I picked up Sew Scandinavian this morning and all I can say is Huge. Disappointment.  Perhaps I have a very limited view of what the term "Scandinavian" implies style-wise, but is it naf frilly pink stuff? Ruffles? Twee dolls and teddies?  Seriously, stay away from this one. It's going back to the library tomorrow.

    Joel Dewberry's Sewn Spaces, on the other hand, is nice so the trip to the library wasn't entirely wasted. There are a few of projects I really like and I'll be tracing out patterns and copying instructions for sure. It's nothing out of the ordinary (another pair of bog-standard pyjama pants or an apron for goodness' sake? Booooring! I was surprised there weren't any matryoshka dolls in there as well) but the fabrics are lovely and there's some nice basic patterns and ideas. I doubt I'll be upholstering any chairs on the strength of three pages of text though! Though if they wanted to give me the finished chair I wouldn't mind (the one on the cover there).

    09 November, 2010


    'The sickness unto death'

    There's really no place like it, even if you've been in a rather nice private hospital overnight (note: must investigate private health insurance!).  The surgery went well and despite being rather sore when I move and a numb foot again (which should disappear in a few days) I'm feeling pretty good. I still need to sleep off the dregs of the anaesthesia, but much nicer to do it in my own bed!

    It's great to get this over and done with, I feel like one big hurdle has been cleared and I just have the marking to do and then I can relax and think about Christmas and other lovely things like that! Oh, and going to Nelson in 10 days to see my Aunt and cousins. I love Nelson and I hope Hazel will too! So there are good things coming my way soon.

    07 November, 2010

    The 60s

    A friend had a party last night and the invitation said to dress 60s and bring a plate of 60s food. Ok, devilled eggs it was then (and two other people had the same idea!) but what about the 60s dress? When you think about it the decade spanned some pretty diverse looks, from the quasi-50s clothes of the early years, through the Jackie O styles to the hippy finale.  I decided to go for the glam side of things bought myself some false eyelashes and did a bit of back-combing, and raided my wardrobe for the sexiest Joan Holloway outfit I could muster.

    Going 60s

    I have to say that before I started getting ready I REALLY didn't want to go, I was feeling a bit negative about my personal appearance and how much weight I've gained recently but I tell you what, slather on pale makeup, apply some ridiculously full false eyelashes and squeeze into a very tight dress with stilettos and baby, your mental outlook is all changed!

    The eyelashes were great, I'm a total convert! Well probably not those particular ones very often because they were pretty OTT and I kept thinking I had something stuck in my own eyelashes, but they definitely have their uses. And I'm sure I'd get better at putting them on, it took me like half an hour and even then they weren't quite right at the inner corners. I do love the pale skin, pale lips and dark eyes look and I think I may attempt to wear it as a slightly toned-down look on a more regular basis. Or would that be too Amy Winehouse?  The one thing I do need is some padding under the bouff of the bouffant because despite all my backcombing and hairspraying it deflated somewhat by the end of the evening. I know you can get little constructions to do that so I'll get one from Avon and see how it goes. 

    05 November, 2010

    Alrighty, fun's over!

    Well for me anyways. I've had my few days of freedom and sewing in-between classes ending and final exam marking starting and it's over as of Sunday. And then on Monday I have a wee spot of back surgery scheduled. Like in they are going to put me under, cut a small hole in my back and remove the bit of disk that is pushing on my sciatic nerve and I spend the night in hospital (and hopefully no more than that). That kind of surgery. Sigh. I know I'll be pleased when it's all over but at the moment I'm feeling a bit stressed over it and the marking and sewing has been helping with my mental well being. I'm part way through finishing an Ottobre tunic I started yonks ago but suddenly felt like finishing today! Hopefully I can get a bit done on that tomorrow. And of course I can't mark all day so perhaps can squeeze in a bit of sewing here and there. But I'm sure I'll get a couple of things done by the end of challenge! I feel a bit like I didn't time it very well because I did know I'd have to stop for awhile in the middle, I suppose I thought I'd get more done in the days I had available! Typical underestimation of how long it takes to sew grown up clothes.

    I'm hoping to pop back in and get another post in before Monday, but if I don't I'll see you all mid-next week sometime!

    03 November, 2010


    In return for my apple and pear pincushions for Petalplum's pincushion swap I had these little beauties land in my mailbox!


    The linen and red one is from Sandrine and the cake is from Bec. Thanks ladies, they're both gorgeous and I hardly know what to do with myself with three pincushions after only having one for so long! And thanks so much to Ellie for organising it, it was so much fun!

    02 November, 2010

    1st Anniversary Congratulations

    Lyndy over at Stitchbird is celebrating her 1st Anniversary with a fabulous giveaway. Now despite the fact that sending any of you lot over there will lessen my chances of winning I think it's probably worth it (and not just for the extra entry!) Stitchbird is one of my favourite online fabric shops and I always find things that I love there. You know how you can browse around some online shops and find a few things that you like but the owner obviously has different tastes than you and it just doesn't gel? Well Stitchbird isn't like that. She made me go and choose my favourite fabrics for this giveaway and it was hard! Always the sign of good taste in my book :)  I chose these ones - can you do better?

    Clothes for Mum Challenge: Basic tshirt pattern

    I went very quiet there for a few days because I was busy trying to sort out a tshirt pattern. The first bit was fun, taking measurements (ok so maybe not so fun!) and drafting out the pattern.  Then fitting it and adjusting  it was less fun and more fiddly and I had no idea what I was doing.

    This is the tshirt from the initial pattern

    Tshirt pattern

    Tshirt pattern

    As you can see the armhole seams are way too far over and I've got a nasty gape along the shoulder line there.  I drew all over the shirt inside out to indicate where the seam needed to shift to, and and found this very useful video on tissue-fitting a tshirt which suggests that most tshirts need a dart from the armhole. I would never have thought of that because in my experience tshirts don't come with darts! But I put one in and voila! A lovely fit along that seam.

    Tshirt pattern

    It's an appallingly executed dart and on the pattern I've shifted the position slightly as well, but even like this it makes a big difference. So does bringing that arm seam in.  Of course now it needs a FBA big time as it's too tight across the bust, but fits so nicely along the shoulder I'm pretty pleased.  I have a feeling based on something I read somewhere at some point that you can pin up a dart and cut the fabric from the pinned pattern and incorporate a dart that way but I can't visualise how you'd accommodate the fullness over the bust that way.  Perhaps if I use the seamline as it is when the dart is pinned and then do a FBA on the rest that might do it.  Google Books has an excerpt from The Perfect Fit that has some very useful information on fitting over the bust, including alterations that you could use on a dartless tshirt. The instructions run across two pages horizontally, so you need to look at the top or bottom set of images on successive pages to get the full section - that confused me at first!

    30 October, 2010

    Clothes for Mum Challenge - Longsleeved Tee

    Meh. The fabric is gorgeous but if it stays as is (and doesn't become a tshirt for Hazel) it will be a 'wear under things' top.  The pattern is from Burda magazine 2/2010.

    The main problem with it is that it's too small across the shoulders, you can see how the shoulder seam pulls outwards in this photo.

    Boat-necked raglan tee

    The neckline isn't sitting very well either. In the pattern photo it's quite a wide boat-neck.

    And then when I stretch my arm out it pulls again!

    Boat-necked raglan tee

    To me it looks like the sleeve line needs to come down at a steeper angle.  So I have no idea why this has happened - is it a FBA issue? Should I have made the sleeves a bit wider? I don't know! I'm tempted to go back and get some more fabric and try again with a different pattern because I'd really like a tshirt I can wear on its own!  I've got the Cal Patch 'Design-It-Yourself-Clothes' and Wendy Mullins' 'Sew-U Stretch' and I think I'm going to just draft my own pattern dammit, enough stuffing around with trying to adjust a pattern to fit me when I could do it from scratch and end up with something decent from the word go.  Or at least better than this :P

    28 October, 2010

    CFM - Tunics

    Hi to everyone who's put their name down and I have to say it's a big thrill to see that button on a few blogs too, it makes me feel all professional at this and stuff :)

    I've been doing a bit of looking around at tunics and investigating the Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) idea. It seems like it's what I've been missing from my repertoire!

    What I didn't know about patterns is that they are drafted to fit a B-cup (which simply reflects the size differential from your full bust point to your ribcage). So even if you size up to accommodate your larger bust, you will be making a larger size that's still drafted for a B-cup differential. WTF? That's just nuts. I do not know many women who would be making a size 50 for example, who would have a B-cup.  Anyways, this totally explains why tops often don't fit when I've chosen the size for my bust.  It's why the tunic I just made is slightly too large everywhere except across the bust (still).  There are lots of tutorials online about how to do a FBA.  Here and here look like good ones. The book everyone recommends though, and one that's now on my wishlist, is one called Fit for Real People by Patty Palmer. Looks like a must-have if you're planning on making a lot of your clothes. I think I might try making the Summer Shirt again but with the FBA and see how it goes.

    I've also hunted down some alternative tunic patterns

    The Shearwater Caftan looks essentially the same as the Heather Ross one I made
    The Patricia Tunic, the Shana Bell Sleeve and the Tribeca Tunic are much more structured garments
    The Schoolhouse Tunic is the most similar to the tunic I have that I'd like to replicate, although it looks a bit boxy - but it might just be that particular fabric. I think I'd convert the box pleats to soft gathers in the centre. The only issue I can see with this one is that it appears there is no shaping through the bust at all, but I found a tutorial on how to do a FBA when there's no bust dart so it shouldn't be an issue.

    I haven't done a search through the commercial patterns yet, there may be good stuff - if you have a great tunic pattern, or have experience with FBA let us know!

    27 October, 2010

    The Red Quilt

    I have a quilt top! I've been slowly making the blocks a few at a time over the last month, adding in a new fabric here and there as I got them.  There were a few false starts, like when I cut several strips 7cm wide instead of 8cm, but I got there! I laid them out last week, swapped things around, pondered and swapped and pondered and swapped and then numbered them and set them aside. But then I thought I could just maybe sew a few together, and then it was all the strips and then suddenly it was all the strips together and there was a quilt top.

    Red quilt top

    It's 6 blocks wide by 8 blocks long (125x165cm), just perfect for snuggling under on the couch.  It's funny looking at in the photo because I can suddenly see that there are some darker fabrics only on the edges and not in the middle, but I guess that kind of thing happens despite your best intentions! You could go mad trying to get all the fabrics not touching another of the same, obviously I didn't manage that in places!  I think if I were going to do it over again I'd put more larger prints with white in to break up the fabrics that are solid orange and red, and put less orange in, but I'm very happy with it as it is, and I LOVE the splashes of aqua.  I was going to back it with more of the red and orange small circle fabric, but Mat commented that it would be pretty busy and I think he's right, so I got some white fabric with tiny red starburst sort of shapes on it and I think that'll be perfect.

    Red quilt top 2

    Although I knew I wanted to make a red quilt, I got the inspiration for the style from Red Pepper Quilts (and looking at it just now I can see that she did the large prints with more white) and the technique for the block from the quilt-along over at Old Red Barn Co.  I wish I knew what it was called, I think of it as the '3 Strip Block' but the one at Red Barn has 5 strips so obviously you can do different numbers.

    I experimented with free-motion quilting for the first time the other night and really enjoyed it, but have sadly come to the conclusion that my machine is not at all good at doing it - at least on such a large scale. The main problem is that the needle doesn't stop in the down position and there is no way to make it do that, so no matter how hard I try I can't stop the fabric shifting whenever I stop sewing. I tried moving it back but it just never started up again nicely. So I'll default the boring old straight lines, although Mum suggested doing diagonal lines which might be quite good.  That's fine for this quilt but I still have the Far Far Away quilt to do for Hazel and I definitely do not want straight lines for that - so if anyone has a good quilter they know of and could recommend I'd love to hear about them!  Now if only my old machine would break down so I could get a new quilting one...

    26 October, 2010

    CFM - First item

    Summer Shirt from Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross.  I've wanted to make this shirt for awhile, although with some reservations because I gather people have had some issues with it. But really, it looks so lovely on this nice lady who could resist?

     Some of the complaints about the pattern have been that that the placket is too long, the sleeves are too long and the body is too short. I thought I'd just leave the placket and sleeves as is - the placket could be sewn up (as indeed the instructions suggest) and sleeves are infinitely hemmable. I added several centimetres to the bottom though (like about 10).

    Here I am in mine, looking slightly less adorable and not surrounded by flowers

    And I'm really NOT trying to be coy with the camera, do you know how freaking HEAVY a DSLR is to hold at arm's length with one hand, while trying to point vaguely in the direction of yourself? Mat and Hazel had our point and shoot with them while they were away this weekend. I did try to put my face in but they mostly came out like this

    Nice shot of the neckline and arm though! The picture looks weird because I have the mirror up on the windowsill and you can see out the window on the left there. :)

    So what do I think. Well I think that it's not designed for ladies with larger busts. I'm not huge or anything, but I'm a big C cup and I'd say it's more for the B-cup and below sizes.  I know there is this mysterious thing known as a FBA (full bust adjustment) and I expect it would have helped here, but I have yet to look into it in a practical sense.  Although the top is lovely and airy in voile and I like the long and elegant sleeves and the low placket is all that saves it when you've got a bust (Trinny and Susannah say you must always wear v-necks and it's true!), it's a bit shapeless on the whole. I still like it and I'll wear it, but I'm definitely on the search for a tunic with some shaping. I own a nice one already but I'm not sure how well I could take a pattern off it, it has a lot of pieces and shaping and shirring and I'm not cutting it up!

    23 October, 2010

    Clothes for Mum Challenge

    Clothes for Mum challenge button

    Time to walk the talk ladies - the Clothes For Mum Challenge is officially on.  It's official because there is a button and a Flickr group.  Did you know it's distressingly easy to start one of these things up? I must remember that next time I casually mention a challenge thinking no-one would be interested. But no, I'm keen and I hope you guys are too!

    The brief is to spend the next month (October 23rd - November 19th) focussing on sewing clothes for yourself.  I know Christmas is coming and there are stuffed toys and quilts and ornaments and kid's clothes to be done (or at least thought about in my case) but darn it, we deserve something nice to wear on Christmas Day don't we? We deserve to have some new clothes for summer (or winter for you Northern Hemisphere peeps)! Enough putting it off to make something quick and easy for the kids that you won't worry makes your bum look big.  It's oh so tempting not to do it I know, but I've got the fabric and the button and the group and I'm doing it so please join me so I'm not at this party all by myself!  Leave a comment below if you'd like to join in, if you have a blog pop in the link too! Anything you've done since I first posted the idea counts - submit it to the Flickr group for us all to admire and be inspired by.  I'll compile a wee list of the people who've put their hands up and I'd like to post links to highly recommended patterns or tutorials so if you have any suggestions let us know - for example I'm interested in good tunic patterns that suit someone with a bit of a bust!

    Please do join in at any time if you'd like to! So far we have:

    The Textured Leaf
    Willy Wagtail 

    Here's the button if you're so inclined (the code looks awful I know but it works!)

    CFM button

    22 October, 2010

    Playing with the photos

    Just recently I've been playing a bit on Photoshop with badly exposed photos where the foreground is darker than background.  It's really quite handy! I found this great tutorial on Pioneer Woman Photography that tells you how to do it - what do you think? The trickiest part is painting in the lighter area along the edges but I've discovered if you choose a very soft brush it works pretty well.


    Ceramics 2



    I bought these little sauce boats last weekend at Studio Ceramics, any guesses what they are in the shape of? Mat had no idea you see and I thought it was blindingly obvious so I'm curious what others think!


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