Tuesday, April 30, 2013

KCW bubble shorts

On Sunday night I ended my sewing for KCW by finishing a pair of shorts for each of my girls.

One of my favourite things about KCW is discovering new patterns. I'd been looking for a shorts pattern for the girls over summer, something practical but pretty, with a little detail but not too complicated... but couldn't find anything I really liked. Then the other day I noticed popping up on the Flickr feed Bubble Shorts by Elegance & Elephants (find the pattern here), and it looked perfect :-) It was also available as a downloadable PDF, which I like, and it arrived in a flash - yay!

* After our talk about 'modelling' for pics this week this is what they gave me, hee hee :-) *

Even though we are in autumn and heading for cool weather I thought the girls could wear these year round with the addition of leggings or tights. I love the layered look. Not sure if I could get away with it myself, though I do have the Sewaholic Thurlow pattern sitting in my stash and may investigate ;-)

Once again I used linen from my stash (I seem to have been subconsciously hoarding linen!). I think the pattern lends itself to the unstructured (ie: crumpled) look of linen. I'm also thinking of making some for big girl in a light flannel for winter. I think big girl wasn't convinced about the chocolate brown when I first showed her the fabric. I tried to explain that it is a great base for wearing with other colours and luckily she was happy when they were finished. I think my point about it being more 'grown-up' helped too, as this is obviously a desirable thing when you're 8!!

* photo bombing her sister's pic. Please excuse the school holidays unbrushed hair and general scruffiness :-)

Phew, well with KCW over again for now I enjoyed a bit of time away from the sewing machine last night, but I do have lots of other things I'd love to make for the kids. The poor boy missed out this time and desperately needs pjs, so that should probably by on my list next!

If you were in on KCW I hope you had a good time too. Looking forward to the next one already :-)


Monday, April 29, 2013

KWC Japanese pattern pullover parka

Yesterday was the last official day of KWC and I finished off a couple of things that I loved sewing - show you tomorrow :-) And before that I finished this little top for my big girl.

This top was on my initial KCW list (the list changed quite a bit ;-) and is a pattern I've been wanting to try for a while now. In fact I bought the pattern book 'Happy Handmade Home Vol 2' based on how much I loved this little pattern, the 'pullover parka' (pictured here also with her shorts made from the book for the last KCW. Read about them here).
'Pullover parka' from Happy Handmade Home vol 2
My girl is 8 now and I'm finding that I'm looking for patterns that are not too little girlish but also not too teen-looking. She's getting to that tricky age. So I thought this design would be nice for her, and on a practical level a good autumn top to throw on over a t-shirt. I chose this mid weight blue/purple linen from my stash which we both love. Thank goodness the days are gone where everything needs to be pink!!
'Pullover parka' from Happy Handmade Home vol 2
I made a few small changes to the pattern. Firstly I used french seams to finish the edges. See how the hood flops open in the above pic? I hated the thought of seeing ugly overlocking (serging) every time I looked at it, so I did this as a French seam, and once I'd done that, thought I might as well do them all in the same way, and they turned out really well.
The sleeves in the pattern are 3/4 length, and I lengthened them a little for a bit more coverage, and I also added some elastic to them for a pretty look and so she could push them up her arm. I also added elastic to the hem. The pattern called for a string tie but I thought that would annoy her (and me, who would probably end up helping her with it each time (gotta think ahead for easy dressing, I find ;-).
'Pullover parka' from Happy Handmade Home vol 2
Of course the linen was lovely to sew with and presses like a dream. Ahh, I love linen. See how it drapes in the above pic? So pretty, I think.
OK, back tomorrow to show you my other creations. I've so enjoyed this KCW.

Friday, April 26, 2013

KWC Maggie Mae dress

Yikes, it's Friday already, the week has flown and I'm way behind on KCW. But, I have been tracing, cutting and sewing each day so that counts, even though I haven't actually had a finished garment til today!
Maggie Mae dress
I had something in the works for my big girl the other day when I started feeling guilty for not making anything for little girl. So I asked her if she'd like anything and of course she said a dress :-)

Maggie Mae dress
I suggested the Maggie Mae pattern from Shwin&Shwin. I made one for big girl this time last year (see it here) and we love it - it's such a classic little shape and has had so much wear. Luckily little girl went for the idea and also my fabric suggestions (cottons from the stash).

Maggie Mae dress back
When I asked her to model the dress for some pics she obligingly gave me these poses :-) This kid kills me sometimes - she can be so cute at times and other times she drives me absolutely bananas!!

Maggie Mae dress
Next on the list is to finish big girl's parka top. Then I have a few pj's I'd like to make... I think my KCW will be spilling over to next week.
And I'm loving seeing all the pics on the Flickr group and the Instagram feed (#kidsclothesweek) - so inspiring!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

KCWC prep

It's Kids Clothing Week time again - yay! And there's now a dedicated blog. Fancy!

I think this may be the third (or fourth?) time I've participated. It seems to come around so quickly, and sometimes it's a good timing for me whilst other times it's not. This time is not so great in that it's school holidays and so the kids are going to bed late, I'm extra tired each day and there's often prep to do for the next day's activities. But... the kids could do with some autumn clothes and I do love being part of the KCWC community - so much inspiration and fun!

So, here's my wish list to date. I'm sure it will change but gotta start somewhere:

* Pull-over parka for the big girl from this Japanese pattern book: Happy Handmade Home vol 2

* maybe another little cap for my boy after the one I made him last year went missing :-( Don't you hate that!

* Leggings for both girls

* Pyjamas for all 3

Phew! Well that all won't happen, but here's hoping that at least some of them materialise.

I would also love to sew the Sugar City Village Frock while my littlest girl is still small enough, but she is notorious for not wearing clothes that I have spent many hours labouring over, and this looks like a lot of work!

Are you doing KCW? Do you plan or just go with the flow?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Chocolate zucchini brownies (egg-free)

Last weekend I was lucky enough to again be included in a share of the proceeds of a friend's early morning trip to a local market. I love the fact that everything is so fresh (and cheap!) and also the challenge of using everything without waste.

At first it can be a bit daunting looking at all that lovely produce and wondering where and how to store it and use it wisely, but I've done this a few times now and have a method: divide produce into things that need to be used quickly (like spinach and ripe stone fruit) and those that will last a bit longer stored in a cool place (like pumpkin or a whole watermelon). I then think of recipes to use most of it and make up a shopping list of groceries to go with the list (eg. dried pasta, legumes, condiments etc). It's very satisfying, in a nerdy kinda way :-)

This time, amongst the goodies were a heap of zucchinis (courgettes). We have a couple of favourite savoury zucchini recipes, including this 'green pasta' and zucchini fritters with garlic yoghurt (Bill Granger recipe), but I also wanted to make a sweet recipe. I remembered hearing that zucchini goes well with chocolate (what doesn't go well with chocolate?!!!), so searched and found a couple of egg-free recipes that my allergic big girl could also eat.

The recipe I tried is for a cake but I've renamed it a brownie as I think it's more brownie-like with its dense texture and deep colour. And I'm thinking that next time I might substitute some brown sugar for white to add to the brownie-ness :-) But for now I thought these were pretty good - not overly sweet, but tasty, quick and easy. And hey, hidden veggies in a dish kids love always makes a mum feel good, right?


Chocolate Zucchini brownies (recipe from the la receta de la felicidad blog here)

300 g grated zucchini

125 ml vegetable oil

200 g sugar

250 g flour

50 g cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 350º F (180 º C)

Line a 20 x 20 cm baking tin with baking paper.

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients with a spoon. Batter will be thick (see pic below).

Spoon into the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Dust with icing sugar if desired.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Briar love

With the weather finally cooling down here to more autumn like temperatures I've had a hankering for some in-between clothes, something comfy and easy. So I got out my Megan Neilsen Briar tshirt pattern, which has been waiting patiently for me to try it. I bought it a while ago after falling in love with this version by Sophie at Cirque du Bebe (there's also a post by Sophie here on True Bias about why the Briar is her favourite 'tried & true' pattern). And while I plan to buy some metallic jersey knit fabric to do it justice I thought I'd make a (hopefully) wearable muslin to check the fit.

I used a navy jersey from my stash to try it and was really pleased with the result - the drape is really nice, quite heavy for such a thin fabric. I think there must be quite a bit of whatever the stretchy stuff in there is. I don't remember where it came from but to date I've never paid much for my knits (though that may change when I find something with a metallic content, I'm guessing!).
If you're not familiar with the pattern, Megan provides several options for length, sleeve length, pocket options and neckline binding options. I find it amusing that I chose the cropped version... as an 80's teen I loved my crop tops, though they will definitely be worn with a layer underneath at this stage of my life! (worn here with a jersey knit camisole - I like to have these to layer in winter and find hem fantastic to add a bit of warmth without bulk). And even though I'm sure I will look back in years to come and laugh at the 'mullet' aspect of these tops (high at the front, low at the back), for now I like it :-)

And look at that beautifully curved hem - Megan's got it just right.

I must admit that I was hesitant to buy this pattern at first as it's such a simple design, just a tshirt really, but I'm so happy with the fit that I'm glad I did. And I learnt some more about sewing with knits from this pattern - the neckline binding works really well and is a joy to do, rather than a chore as I thought it may be. And I love the fact that you can start with a simple pattern and subtly change details and fabric to create different looks. Of course there will be more versions!

Now I'm dreaming of a lovely crumpled metal knit fabric with a pocket, teamed with a long top and my metallic leggings for a girls night out ;-) ... And wondering how long I can get away with wearing the cropped mullet!!


** For anyone interested here are a few sewing notes:

- I made the XS size (34" bust) and the fit is good, though I'm sure the size up would be fine too

- for the sleeve length I went halfway between the provided options of short sleeve and 3/4 length. I think it creates a nice balance as they sit around the length of the front hem. It's also a comfortable place to sit on the arm. Megan has a blog post on making this adjustment here

- on my lovely old sewing machine I don't have zig zag or any sort of stretch stitch (and I don't think there's a twin needle available) so I'm always a little nervous about sewing knits, but this worked fine, and I was glad of Megan's reminder on the pattern to make sure you press the seams along the way - this made it sit so much better. I did finish the seams with my overlocker (serger) but I certainly don't think you'd have to have one to make this pattern

- I opted out of the pocket option as this was made really just to test the fit but I love Megan's suggestion of using a contrasting fabric for one

- I chose the 'binding' method for the neckline, which I like but I'd consider making it narrower next time, particularly if I go for a slightly less casual look.

Joining in on my creative space over here today - check it out!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013


After Easter last week we headed out of town for a few days away, meeting up with an old friend of mine and her family. As we all enjoyed being close to nature, watching the kids playing and exploring, it occured to me that what we were doing was adding another layer of memories to our friendship.

There were lots of chats by the fire each night, glass of wine in hand, reminiscing about that time exactly half our lives ago, when as 21 year olds we met at a shared group house and forged the beginning of a lasting friendship. We wondered where our other housemates were now and why it is that some friendships last and others run their course. I basked in that feeling of being with an old friend who knows you so well that things don't need to be explained. For most of our friendship we have lived in different countries, at times not seeing each other for years on end, but when we get together its always fantastic. We now have partners and children and different lives but our friendship endures, and for that I am truly grateful.


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