The highs and lows of sewing, 2016

Mostly highs. I’d have to say this has been a milestone year for me, in terms of sewing. I think I’ve moved to the next level and I attribute this to social media……particularly Instagram which has really broadened my horizons. And for that reason I LOVE Instagram. It has been a great source of inspiration for me.

My first intro to Instagram….. and I don’t know how I’ve lived without it

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So how have I moved to the next level?

Its the first time I’ve drafted my own pattern.

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It’s also the first time I’ve got ‘the fit’ right for dresses for me....and that’s a huge first given I’ve been sewing for years. I will say it wasn’t easy. I unpicked until the cows came home but the result is these dresses which I am more than happy with with.

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It’s the first time I’ve  tackled this  jacket.  I’ve been looking at it for years but avoiding it because I thought it would be too hard/too much work. Turns out it was relatively quick and easy  and I think the possibilities for this style are endless . The blue is linen and the straw jacket is made from a heavy upholstery fabric.

Of course the big first was the fabric trip to Shanghai and London with my friend Wendy. That was absolutely brilliant and the highpoint of my sewing year. AND ………..hopefully the beginning of a tradition for Wendy and me……..we had so much fun.

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And of course there were the formal dresses.…..a first because it is the first time I have agreed to step outside the pattern……….very significant if you are a rule follower!!! I agreed to do all sorts of things to these patterns………not really me at all.

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Definitely the first time I have incorporated novelty prints into my garments.……and very effectively I have to say. I love them and will continue to use them. I love the fun side of fabrics.

Lets not forget the swimwear first.……..another whole story which I won’t start here but this was probably not one of my highest highs

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Another first that deserves a mention is knitting with fabric.OMG this is just so fun! That’s all I can say. I got the idea while on the London fabric tour and it’s something I would really like to develop. I think the sky’s the limit here. But I have to fess up that this is a UFO……..but also very much a current WIP and I have some great ideas.

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And not to forget the first time I’ve actively supported my daughter to try her hand at sewing….and with amazing results. She is very creative. Regrettably I am Mrs Rules so I struggle when she says but Mum I don’t need a pattern….it won’t take me long to make this top…all I need you to do is help me thread the machine. She was right. She made it in a couple of hours without a pattern and wore it that day. All I did was help thread the machine…..a learning curve for me!

img_2155img_2158And now for a 2016 sewing low.……...my overlocker was ‘found’ by someone in the carpark when I put it down for 5 minutes (hidden, I thought) behind the car. I hope they have lovely overlocked edges on their seams because  I don’t !

To summarise 2016 sewing for me…….a really big year that I enjoyed. What I have most enjoyed is the online sewing community of which I have become a part.  Thank you to everyone who has ever posted a sewing image on any form of social media. I have found it enormously inspirational and even exciting……..so much so that I try not to look at IG before I go to bed lest I should be so enlivened by a potential project that I cannot sleep!!!!! And that’s the truth.

On a very sad note….. my thoughts go out to David, husband of Katherine Scraper and her family. Katherine was better known in the sewing community as ….Pillows A-La-Mode.

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Katherine was an inspiration to me…….creative, resourceful, positive and clever and the sewing world has been enriched by her generous contributions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy Mother’s Day to me…….fool that I am!

 

Sunday is Mother’s Day. And so it starts.

True to form, my teenage daughter (who now lives away from home), texted me to ask me if there was anything in the Priceline catalogue (fragrances 60% off) that took my fancy. No mention of Mother’s Day. But she knew that I knew what she meant. So I came clean and gave her my usual spiel which is something along the lines of …….Look love,  Mothers Day is just a marketing ploy.  I really don’t want you to spend your money. The best present you could give me would be a call on Sunday.  I meant it.

Now had she been younger, I would have said …I’d love you to make me something. But at 19 she has neither the time nor the inclination nor the belief  that I would actually prefer something handmade. None of my children believe that. As little ones they’d  presents but they soon grew out of that phase and wanted to ‘buy’ rather than make. As adults/teenagers, nothing’s changed. It’s funny. I never believed my mother either. But I’ll bet there’s not one mother out there who wouldn’t agree with me. Those little cards and presents made out of all sorts of bits and pieces were priceless. And a handmade present from a teenager would be even better!

Anyway, back to my idiocy.

Feeling ironed out at the mere thought of a Mother’s Day ‘do’, I contacted my sisters in law to see if they thought a picnic might be a good idea …you know,  give us mothers a breather from ‘enjoying’ another Mother’s Day in the kitchen, slaving away for our Mother’s Day function so we can truly ‘celebrate ‘ being a mother.

I got one response……………And I suppose the picnic fairies will prepare the picnic? Hmmm. Good point. Lose, lose.

Back to the Mother’s Day ‘present’,  issue.

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image by dreamstime.com

Now I absolutely mean it when I say I don’t want the kids spending money on me. I do. It really upsets me. They can’t afford to.

But that’s not to say that I don’t encourage them to think about a present……or gesture.  That’s part of responsible parenting and I don’t care how old they are. Thoughtfulness and generosity? …whole different story.  So,  when ‘What would you like for Mother’s Day, Mum?’ came up again today, I had no compunction saying, “Well what I’d really love is for someone to clean the house. That would be the best present I could receive’. And I DEFINITELY meant that.

Blank stare. I don’t understand what you’re saying. Not going to happen.

Hmmm. All looking a bit tricky really.  Lots to do and no one too keen on doing it.

 

Oh well, never mind…….not to worry. This was going to be a great Mother’s Day…..for all of us (meaning my 4 sisters -in – law and me)…just going to take a bit of creative thinking. And then…….lightbulb

That’s it!!!! I’ve got it! Why did it take so long for the penny to drop? I mean it was simple really…. just had to apply the formula! i.e.

Not much time + plenty to do  + would love a relaxed Mother’s Day = ME DO MORE AND WORK HARDER  ……………problem solved!  

AND WITH ADDED BONUSES i.e.

  1. I got all my exercise in one place! Clocked up 11,000 plus steps on the Fitbit without having to even see the light of day!
  2. Managed to amuse myself for at least 5 hours!
  3. Didn’t cost a cent!
  4. Sniffed plenty of bleach, and got to work on ‘ruining my hands’
  5. Didn’t have to go near that wretched sewing machine! Man, this was building up to a big weekend!!!

I took some snaps to show you.

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IMG_0848.jpgAnd there you have it! My beautifully cleaned house, scrubbed, waxed and polished by me for me for my Mother’s Day so that my sisters- in -law and me  (also mothers) can enjoy our Mother’s Day. What’s not to get?

On a serious  and more concerning note, I am under no illusion.   This speaks volumes about me! Yes. I am the nut job here. I completely get that. And do you know why I get it?  Well, after I’d worn myself into a frazzle, having spent many hours slaving, I looked at my clean house and felt……..wait for it…….I am embarrassed…….….cringe……would you believe empowered? Isn’t that sad? Empowered by having a clean house? I actually heard myself say the word empowerment in my head (maybe it was the bleach talking????), when I looked at the shiny floor  and it struck me that this was such an odd thing to feel. Sort of ‘funny’ too. Why empowered? Perhaps because it frees me up to do other things that I enjoy ….with less bleach? Not sure. But I will own the sentiment  …in all its political incorrectness and as embarrassing as it is.  I get an adrenaline rush from a clean house! There!

Anyway dear other Mothers, I hope I have saved you from ’empowering’ yourselves this Mother’s Day.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL MOTHERS and now please excuse me……I am off to wrap my Mother’s Day Present!!!! It will save the kids having to do it!

 

 

 

 

The best skirt pattern ever

This unassuming pattern that has been buried away in my pattern box forever has probably produced the best fitting skirt I have ever made. And it was so effortless!

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I honestly wouldn’t have credited this pattern with turning out such a good shape. And I’ve not had much success with New Look. But this skirt is a huge success.

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I think the fabric may have had a lot to do with it. It is a beautiful stretch sateen from Tessuti……not too much spandex and quite a heavy weight which I think contributed to the good fit. But what I like most about this pattern is that it is a straight skirt that is roomy at the same time. Between the  pattern and the fabric it’s beautifully comfortable.

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The skirt is a bit shorter than I am normally comfortable with but in this fabric, and because it is not too skimpy, I  think it works quite well.

Absolutely a great pattern (that is probably out of stock unfortunately).

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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I know this is late   and such a pity because I had so much to say on 1st January. Blame it on the technology and never mind, I’ll say it all now.

 

This is a picture of two Tawny Frogmouths that my daughter and I woke up to early on New Year’s Day. Now we live 7kms from the centre of Sydney in a high density suburb so finding these birds in a tree just off our balcony was really something….and exciting on New Year’s Day. The spiritual meaning of the Tawny Frogmouth is: positive outcomes and end of limiting views: becoming part of nature and a strong relationship with the spirit world; oneness; adaptation to different environments; down to earth energies (from Totem Animals 27/6/15).

That was a really exciting thing to wake up to on NYD…especially for my daughter who has been nervously waiting to see if she was accepted into a course that she  desperately wants to do. She beamed when she read that the bird symbolises positive outcomes.  I can now tell you that she was accepted and she is over the moon……..I am not quite as excited because she will be moving to the country and I will miss her dreadfully. I will however see the positive side soon (eventually)……I mean, apart from the fact that she was accepted into a course that was made for her. I am happy for her. But just a bit sad for me.DSC00144

 

Now I know these cakes are way way out of time but I made them on January 1st because I had bought the ingredients to make the holly decoration and I wanted to try my hand at the leaves.  And they tasted the same on New Year’s Day. In fact, probably better because we’d had a bit of a break from eating and appreciated them a bit more.

But this is what I really want to show you.

DSC00193This is the Tessuti linen dress that I made on New Year’s Eve. And I just love it! The fabric is actually called mulberry and was reduced by 30% – I think it was an unpopular colour- there was plenty there- but it is very much in the chocolate family and actually a very workable shade.

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the Annie Dress

DSC00150DSC00149DSC00148DSC00147You know, I don’t really like sewing….the process that is. What I like is the finished product and the sense of achievement……..not to mention the creative aspect. But honestly, I actually enjoyed constructing this garment. And that’s because it is linen. It sewed like a dream. It was beautiful to work with. Linen (like all natural fibers) pretty much guarantees success in my book. Anyway, it has decided me that my new Etsy thing, whatever it ends up being, will be all about natural fibers but particularly linen. I just cant get enough of it. Apart from sewing beautifully it is cool and it washes well. And it lasts! So now I am really excited about my new Etsy shop.

New Year’s resolutions? I have quite a few and I am genuinely excited about the year for that reason. Among the many, I am going to join Toastmasters, absolutely definitely travel to somewhere (probably a fabric tour of London with a sewing girlfriend), start a new Etsy shop ramp up my technical sewing skills.

Happy New Year to everyone!

 

white linen holiday dress

 

DSC00076I found a pattern in my stash for this dress. Its not a style I would usually be drawn to but given that I am off to Nelson Bay next week, I thought it would be a very easy wear………also couldn’t wait to cut into the white linen!

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If you can see the pattern clearly you’ll note that the dress is actually quite straight/fitted around the middle. It looks as though it is cut on the bias but it actually isn’t. It is cut on the straight grain. So when I first attempted this style (yesterday) I was put off by this. I found it quite restrictive (tight!!!!!) and unflattering. So in my second attempt, ie the white linen, I added an inverted pleat under the bust. For me, that is EXTREMELY innovative. I am a rule follower. But it worked and I love the dress.

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the drawstring ties at the back. note the inverted pleat in the front.

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I thought you might also be interested in some photos I took of Manly Beach. Just so you know, I got a camera for Christmas and I haven’t quite sorted it. I’m not sure about the photos. At this stage I prefer the iPad. DSC00060DSC00065DSC00063

I need to stick at it for a while so apologies if the images are not great.

 

 

The snake that went to the beach………….

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Do you believe this? It really happened. Yesterday, on a beach in northern NSW that was packed with holiday makers, in the middle of the day, a brown snake slithered out of the surf and up the sand (presumably towards its beach towel). You’ll notice that there are no people in the picture. That’s because the shark alarm was sounded once the snake was spotted. It is reported that the snake was swimming between the flags!!!!! Well they may be deadly but at least they’re careful!