Monday, November 29, 2010

Flower love

I don't think of myself as a particularly patriotic Australian, but then I think about how much I love our wildlife, our landscapes, our scenery, and especially our lovely flowers... and I guess I kinda am.

Not traditionally thought of as 'pretty' as English Cottage garden flowers are, ours tend to be unusual, striking and sometimes quite odd looking. I have raved about them previously, so will restrain myself this time :-) But I did want to show you these Grevilleas, glorious in their shape and colours, which range from the delicate soft pale yellow through to blushing pink and bold bright red.

And all are found on our walk to school. Ahh.

PS. I'm solo parenting this week so might be quite quiet on the crafting & blogging front. No speed sewing for me this week!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Half finished projects

While recently trying to get onto my projects that are quite pressing now (all needing to be done in a couple of weeks) I stumbled upon one of the many half-finished projects I have hanging around.

With both the littlies miraculously napping at the same time I knew I had a small window to get something done. But doing a small part of a big project just didn't suit my mood. I needed something that would give me an instant gratification fix, possibly as an antidote to the incredibly stressful and frustrating time I've been having with my two toddlers lately... if I could achieve something then maybe the day wouldn't feel like a total mess, know what I mean?

Anyway, down in my sewing area, two embroideries I'd done in winter jumped out at me, crying out to be finished. Back then I'd put a woolen cardigan from an op shop in a hot wash in the machine to see what would happen - either it would felt well and shink and fit me better... or not. I figured I had nothing to lose as it was unflattering as it was. Well, it did felt but it mainly shrank vertically so ended up too short in length. I decided to cut it up into a bolero, and with the remaining corners I did these embroideries with the intention of making brooches.

The red one represents Australian flowering gum (show you a pic of the real thing when our tree flowers soon!). And the yellow is just an organic shape like a fern frond unfolding.

I took them and cut around them, cut some backing from a scrap of black wool felt, and pulled out a couple of bits of wadding to sandwich in between to give them a bit of structure.

Then I machine stitched around them and hand sewed safety pins on to the backs.

It was pretty satisfying as far as instant gratification goes, though the brooches are really more suited to winter clothing so probably won't be worn for a while yet. But, that's not the point... they're finished! Yay!

It did make me think too, yet again, about how many half finished projects I have lying around that I'd love to have finished. So I've decided to declare January my "Half-finished projects month". Do you have any of these around? Maybe a half knitted scarf, a pair of trousers waiting to be hemmed, patches to be sewn on etc? Why don't you join me in getting all those little projects done and out of the way. Imagine the feeling of satisfaction we'll have :-)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Book love: Design-It-Yourself Clothes

I'm really enjoying this book I got from the library recently called Design-it-Yourself Clothes by Cal Patch. It's one of those books that seemed to jump out of the rack at me. You know when that happens and it feels like it's just meant to be? And I've been enjoying it ever since, in a nerdy, sewing obsessed kinda way.

The book teaches you how to draft patterns yourself based on your own measurements. You start with the projects in the book, then the idea is to go on to draft patterns for anything you can think of. Since I've only ever drafted a pattern for an A-line skirt there was a lot of useful information in the book and I had a few 'ah-hah' moments.

There are a couple of designs to make that I particularly like, such as these trousers with cute detail pockets, and this skate skirt...

But it's the designs in my head that I'm most excited about trying. Now I think I've finally worked up the courage to go and try it (amongst all the other projects I've set myself - it might take a while!). Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

No-sew jersey scarf

If you've been following my blog posts lately it probably seems like all I've been doing is sewing, sewing, sewing, which is partly true, but this project was happily sewing-free, a nice change.

This project I've had in mind for a while now - to make a scarf from jersey fabric with cut and knotted ends. My incentive to actually do it was my newly chopped boy-short haircut, and therefore my newly breezy neck area! I love the feel of jersey and thought a scarf made from it would be useful on our slightly chilly days, which are still happening, interspersed with freakishly hot days! So there's no putting away the cool weather clothes yet when every day is like weather bingo.

I used a piece of mid grey, fine, soft jersey from my stash. When I bought it I planned to make a top with it but had since decided against it... anyway, it's gone to good use as a scarf now.

To construct it basically I cut a length of the fabric about 30cm wide, from selvedge to selvedge, then cut both ends into strips about 25cm long. Each strip was tied in a knot at the top, then each 2 tied at intervals down, if you know what I mean (see pics below). I finished with tied knots at the bottom of each strip. As jersey is a knit fabric the edges don't really fray so they don't have to be finished in any way (hence the 'no-sew').

It's pretty wonky and far from perfect (I was too impatient to measure anything) but I like it anyway, and can see myself throwing it on at any opportunity in future.

And a bit of black nail polish helps banish those 'frumpy mum' feeling days :-)

Monday, November 22, 2010

A swap

A friend recently very generously offered me a huge roll of linen that she had leftover after making her bedroom curtains. Even though I couldn't immediately think of what to use it for I quickly said yes as it sounded very promising.

My friend had remarked on the Sophie Tunic I'd made for my big girl a few months ago, so as a thank you I thought I offered to make her daughter one. My friend had some fabric she thought would suit and she was right. The fine orange cotton with white embroidery made a lovely summery tunic. I lengthened the pattern's hem to a short dress length - after seeing my girl repeatedly walk around in only her tunic and underwear I thought this was the way to go!

And the linen is really lovely, quite fine and soft, with a lovely row of red stitching woven into the selvedge. Hopefully I can use the stitching as a design element on something one day.

Inspiration struck recently and I now have big ideas for the linen, but I can't tell you what they are yet as I'm hoping some Christmas presents might come out of it (and a recipient may see this...). Tell you later ;-)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday goodness

When I get the time I like to bake goodies to have around for the kids to snack on, particularly on the weekends. Anyone with kids will tell you that snack requests are frequent and numerous and it can be quite overwhelming!

So I was making a batch of these anzac cookies today when I walked past some of the Christmas wrapping paper I've been making and thought what a cute paper bag stamp it would make. I decided to make up a little bag of them for my big girl when she finished school. She had a teary morning farewell with the Mr, apparently, so I wanted to greet her at home time with a cuddle and something nice.

I started stamping with this lovely chalky red ink and liked the way it faded out over the 4 prints, rather than re-ink each time. And I think it's the naievity and simplicity that appeal to me.

I'm thinking now that the stamped bags might be a quick way to give a few Christmas treats to friends. Obviously a lovely glass jar would be much more special but this might be a nice casual option.

Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Creative Space

I'm playing along with Kootoyou's Thursday 'My Creative Space' again this week.

In my space at the moment are some sleepy teddies in progress. They are waiting to be sewn, stuffed with rice and packed off to Germany to warm up some little bodies. I find it kind of spooky to see the faces sewn and embroidered on the corduroy before cutting the shapes out.

- - - -

I'm also hoping to hit the art shop this afternoon for some supplies for secret Christmas present making. Better fortify myself with a strong coffee before taking the littlies in with me.

Hope you're having a creative Thursday.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dresses for little girls... or not

I think I jinxed myself recently by thinking "Gee it's great how kids just love everything you sew for them. I should just sew for kids in future, it's so satisfying!"

Rewind to late last week when I made my big girl a popover dress. As her summer wardrobe is very small I'd promised I'd make her some dresses. She was delighted with the denim and cotton combo and wanted to wear it immediately, even though I hadn't finished the hem or put the pockets on.

The little girl pipes up and says "Where's my dress?", so in true generation X parenting style I don't want to disappoint her and stay up late that night making her one too. Feeling satisfied with myself I show it to her in the morning. With much less excitement than her sister showed she eventually tries it on, then takes it off after 5 minutes...

I finish all the details like the pockets the next day, and the little girl declares that she will never wear hers again...

So her feet in this pic are probably as close as she will get to it again, I think it's destined for the bag we keep for our little younger friend who we pass things on to.

Luckily the big girl knows how to play her mum and cuddles me and says "I love everything you make me mum". She'll go far...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pattern Magic and dress procrastination

I received my copy of the Japanese pattern book Pattern Magic recently. It's quite amazing and crazy really.

There are dresses I love like the one on the left, but may be better suited if I was 10 (or 20!) years younger :-)

other designs I love too, and could possibly see myself in...

some are amazing but not my style at all:

and some are just plain kooky!...

a dress with built-in tunnel, hmm.

And in true procrastinator style I still haven't decided what I want to wear to my brother's wedding in just under a month...

Ranging from most interesting, but most work (and most stressful!), these are my options...

A. I could experiment with some sculptural ideas inspired by Pattern Magic and also the style of Natalie from the Makeshift project. That sort of distressed style has always appealed to me. I love unfinished edges, asymetric lines, fraying etc (or is that just laziness? :-), and particularly this dress. So maybe something like this...


B. Make a simple timeless style in an interesting print. I've always loved this style and have worn variations of it in the past...


C. The boring but easy option - wear something I already have!! Yes, it would be nice not to over complicate my life for once. We'll see...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekend craftiness

The weekend's just been.. lets not talk about the chaotic house, ignored housework, the sibling arguments and tantrums, that's no fun. Let's talk weekend crafting...

We did some stamp making (good tutorial here) and printing with this fantastic chalky white ink onto kraft paper...

to make some wrapping paper and gift tags for xmas (trying not to do everything at the last minute again this year)

And used some rainbow wool for finger pom pom practice. Always fun. I'm dreaming of using snowy white soft wool to make small perfect pom poms to adorn presents wrapped with the above.

And also I guess in the creative field, though not strictly craft, making some mango frozen yoghurt, using homemade vanilla yoghurt and following Fi's recipe.

Friday, November 12, 2010

this moment

I'm joining Soulemama (and many others) this week with the Friday ritual of 'this moment' - a moment from the week to pause, savour and remember. Happy weekend to you.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Creative Space

I thought I'd play along with Kootoyou's Thursday 'My Creative Space' this week. In my space (along with many unfinished projects :-( - is a popover dress for my big girl.

I'm using some lightweight denim bought 2nd hand at the school fete for the dress, and for the trim and straps this lovely "Dance with me" fabric by Jennifer Paganelli. It was given to me by my sister-in-law's mother, a lovely crafty lady (I wonder, is there a name for your relationship to your husband's brother's wife's mother? - hmm)

Finishing it off with some blue ric-rac, it would be all done now if it wasn't for my fiddling (it's a super easy, quick and FREE downloadable pattern from Oliver & S). I decided to add some little pockets to the front, just in case my girl thought the denim wasn't 'pretty enough'. And just because I wanted to try them, working from this tutorial from Made-by-Rae.

The pockets are a little small which I know would bug me, so I'm going to make some bigger ones... hopefully finished soon!
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