Monday, May 31, 2010

Genome Layout Preview...

After the first few batches of HSTs were complete I laid them out on my "design floor" (otherwise known as my bedroom floor) to see how they looked.

This is just a very small portion of how many I will have, and I am intending on having a gradient of the colours rather than a random arrangement, but it shows how the "sequence" gives it an almost random design. I'm really happy with how it's progressing!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Half Square Triangles everywhere...

I have spent some quality time with half square triangles (HSTs) this weekend.

Pairing squares of fabric and marking the diagonal on the pale piece.

Sewing 1/4 inch from either side of the line, using a chain piecing technique.

Snipping them apart and cutting down the diagonal line.

Pressing the seam allowances open.

To give many many many HSTs.
(please note, a very very small portion of the HSTs I have so far completed are shown above)

Current completed HST count: 444

Thursday, May 27, 2010


A while back I won my first ever giveaway, I won a fat quarter bundle of "mingle" fabrics in the newspaper colourway.

Elizabeth was kind enough to send the fabrics to Australia, and they made my day when I found them in my letterbox today!

So a huge thanks to Elizabeth and Robert Kaufman!

Now, important question; what shall I make with them???

Monday, May 24, 2010

Best Intentions...

Tonight I had a nice empty evening this evening in which I was planning on making a start on the sewing of my Hikaru Jacket. However once I sat down at the machine and worked out the stitch settings for sewing with the boiled wool, I discovered that some of the pattern pieces require interfacing, which I do not yet have.

So, the jacket was shelved and I pulled out the blue & green fabrics for my genome quilt. After some pressing I set to work cutting (more) squares. After an evening of cutting in front of the TV I'm about 2/3 of the way through.

I also had a go at my first ever half square triangle. (well technically first two, but that's just being pedantic).

Now, I know what you're thinking; why on earth would I start a project that has far to many HSTs in it to even think about calculating right now if I've never done one before. The answer; I have no idea! I guess I'm just that stupid! Thankfully it wasn't too bad... but ask me that again a few thousand down the line...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Genome Cutting at the Melbourne Modern Quilt Guild

Yesterday was the inaugural meeting of the Melbourne Modern Quilt Guild and I'm already looking forward to our next meet in June.

I had a great day and would like to give a huge thanks to Helene and Adele for all the work they put into organising it and making it a huge success. In the morning we had a show and tell and a meeting to discuss how the guild will run, and in the afternoon we all worked on whatever project we'd brought with us. I started the cutting for my genome quilt, which I did some more of this evening:

I got about half the whites done yesterday and finished them off this evening. I have gone for 3 1/4 inch squares (and whatever size HST that will eventually give), mostly because It's a size that gets the most out of the fabric that I have.

One of the ladies brought with a Kona solids chart (I think Esther), and kindly let me examine it. I've now picked out which solids I want to go with my prints and will be ordering them soon and then I'll have enough fabric to get started sewing.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Jenny, I love you still!

I didn't think it was possible, but I'm even more in love with the Jenny pattern! I made another skirt, this time with a couple of alterations on the last version.

The black version I've made is a little big so I stitched this one up with a 2cm seam allowance on the side seams (rather than 1.5cm) and now the fit is perfect. I also kept the skirt the length from the original pattern, rather than the lengthened version from last time. This has given a more flattering length, but has also meant that the slit in the back is approaching a little indecent so I am planning on stitching the centre back seam down a little more to make it a bit more modest!

I wore it to work today and it was SO comfy (and is also why it's so creased in the photo, although not too bad after 13 hours of wearing, most of which was sitting down). I have concluded that I'm a huge fan of these high waisted skirts. Once you have one on it just doesn't go anywhere (assuming it fits of course). It doesn't ride up, it doesn't fall down, it doesn't even twist that much , it's great!!

The fabric I got was (I think) a double weave cotton from the fabric store, which means it's the really nice textured grey on the outside, but is plain black on the inside. It's pretty neat for the skirt as it's that bit thicker while still having the advantages of being a cotton, but also it kind of gives it the appearance of being lined if the inside of the skirt is visible at any point.

So in summary, a great success even more so than the first one... I just need to kick the desire to make fifty more of these, as I don't need a wardrobe full of (almost) the same skirt... although I think I'd like to do one more in an interesting colour and with something added for some interest, be it on the waistband or the skirt. For example, I really like Gertie's "Emma" version of the Jenny.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Me-Made May - week two

Two weeks into the month, almost half way there! Again, no documentation photos this week I'm afraid, I am without a photographer that I'm not afraid would think me weird/vain for asking! However, again I have a list:

Saturday - Me-Made Sidonie skirt with red t-shirt. (the Sidonie skirt REALLY can't be worn until I alter it, it is FAR to big around the waist. I wouldn't recommend the pattern at all, I was very disappointed, I will do a post on it one day, I promise)
Sunday - A bit of a 'cheat' day. Volunteered at the Mother's Day Classic in the morning and knew i'd have to wear a volunteers t-shirt and would need to be warm and amenable to walking around on grass/mud and didn't have suitable clothes so didn't wear anything me-made. However, after geting up at stupid o'clock in the morning I went straight back to bed when I got home and spent all of the rest of the day in me-made PJs, surely that counts?
Monday - Me-Made "Esprit dress" with white long sleeved tshirt
Tuesday - Me-made JJ shirt with black knit vest and jeans
Wednesday - Me-Made Purple tank with purple round-necked jumper and jeans
Thursday - Me-Made Jenny skirt with red t-shirt, black cardi (and red shoes)
Friday - Me-Made "Esprit dress" with blue t-shirt

I'm starting to run out of 'unworn' clothes now (i.e. ones I haven't worn yet this month), and it's becoming obvious which ones I'm more comfortable in and reaching more often.

I've got another Jenny skirt I started last weekend that I will hopefully have time to finish this weekend so I'll have something new to add to the mix for next week. Sadly other than that (and sewing snaps/buttons onto my Esprit dress last weekend so I could wear it this week) I haven't had much time for sewing as my time during the week has been pretty full.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Flashback Friday #4: Pleated Border Print Skirt

It's been a couple of weeks since my last "Flashback Friday" but since I'm home in time for it to still be Friday I though I'd get back into the swing of it this week.

This week is a skirt I made back when I was in Perth and never actually wore after I took these photos as I didn't find it very flattering and wasn't comfortable in it.

Pleated border print skirt, made Dec 2007

I saw the border print fabric in spotlight and really liked it, so picked out a pleated skirt pattern so I could use the border. However, as the pattern I used didn't have a lining but the white on the fabric was a bit see through I decided to add one... and didn't quite do it right. I added a lining the same as the skirt, pleats and all... which made the pleats very solid and a bit stickey-outey. Mostly though, I wasn't happy about where the pleats started, it didn't feel very flattering on my shape body.

So yes, a project from which I learnt lots but didn't add to my wardrobe. The skirt's sat in the wardrobe at my parents house somewhere now...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Antique Machines

I recently discovered that you can date old Singer machines by their serial number on the Singer website, so while I was in Perth, with help from my dad, I dug out the old Singer sewing machines I have inherited to take a look at them and to date them.

I inherited two sewing machines from my Gran, which she in turn had inherited from her grandmother and her great-grandmother. Before we moved to Australia my Gran kindly passed them on to me... and they've been sat in a box ever since (for the last 8 years).

The information I got from my Gran about them is as follows. Both the machines originally belonged to my great-great-Grandmother Louisa Horton. She used them in the 1880-1890's because she was a dressmaker before she was married and would go to peoples houses and stay for a few days at a time to do their sewing. My gran informs me that she made quilts and clothes for herself and her children and never used a pattern in her life. When she died my great-Grandmother "Gran B" inherited the machines. Gran B apparently always preferred the older of the two machines.

The first machine out of a box was the oldest, with a very battered case:

Looking at the plaque with the serial numbers we found two 7 digit numbers. We weren't sure which is the serial number but one dates at 1887 (7858031) and the other at 1875 (1994291), however speaking to my Gran about the dates and where they are from it must be from 1875.

The other machine is slightly newer, being dated as 1891 (10310970). This one no longer has a case.

They both have a bobbin mechanism that I've never used so I don't know how to thread the machines so I've been unable to have a go and see how functional they still are, but I have a memory of using one of these machines as a child at my gran's house.

The third old machine I have was gifted to me by an ex-housemate's mum. I believe she was clearing stuff out and didn't want it anymore and knowing that I sew offered it to me... and I of course said yes straight away. More than that I don't know the history of the machine, but this one is much newer, dating in at 1929 (Y6956953). I also discovered from the site that it was manufacturered in Clydebank, Scotland.

My dad made a comment that other people collect nice small and light things. I made him feel better by telling him about how many sewing machines some other people have and that four machines (these three and the Janome I use everyday) really is hardly any at all!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thank you Granny...

I've had this post in my mind for a while and since it is Mother's day here in Australia I thought it appropriate to post it today. I would like to publicly thank the person in my life that has had by far the biggest influence on my sewing; my Gran.

Granny has helped and encouraged my sewing from the beginning right until today, and I'm sure into the future. She is actually the reason that I started my blog, to make it easier to share my progress and creations with her since as she lives the opposite side of the world to me it's not all that easy for her to see them in person.

A Close-up of the quilt that Granny made me in 1998-99.

For as long as I can remember Granny has been doing patchwork and quilting, and when I went to stay with her in the half-term holidays she would teach me how to do it myself. Starting with hand quilting around the outlines of printed cushion panels, and progressing to basic patchwork and moving on to more and more ambitious and complicated things.

The whole quilt Granny made me.
Machine pieced and quilted by her.

Before I finished high school I had completed, with Granny's guidance, many many cushion covers, a patchwork bag, a patchwork waistcoat, a pair of raggy dolls, and I had even completed a single bed quilt top and begun quilting it.

Taking me along to many different quilt shows, patchwork classes and workshops and more also showed me from a young age how welcoming, varied and friendly the sewing community is.

A close-up of the quilt that Granny made my brother in 2001.

It was this basic sewing knowledge that I was then able to use when I started university and had the need and desire to make fancy dress costumes, and since graduating my progression into garment sewing. I think the attitude of getting stuck in and having a go, even on things I've never tried before, stems back to the times when I would do just that, after raiding Granny's truly superb fabric stash of course! (Over which she is incredibly generous, never begrudging my use of any cut of fabric, no matter how beautiful)

The whole quilt that Granny made my brother.
Machine pieced by her but sent away to be quilted.

Even now, from the other side of the world Granny is a huge support to my endeavours; from encouraging comments on things I've completed, to words of advice when I'm pondering over things, to gifting me with sewing books and fabric.

Me & Granny.

So thank you Granny, for all the help, guidance and support you've given me over the years, both in sewing and in life. I am truly grateful to you for sharing with me your interest which has allowed me to form many happy memories through shared experiences, and I hope there are many more to come.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Me-Made May - one week down

One week into Me-Made May... and I've passed my rules so far. I haven't gotten photos of each of my outfits each day due to a combination of not having a photographer and having a crazy busy week, I have however documented what I wore each day:

1st May - Me-Made (& Me-refashioned) JJ shirt with jeans.
2nd May - Me-Made purple tank with joggers.
3rd May - Me-Made purple tank with jeans & v-neck jumper.
4th May - Me-Made brown dress with long sleeved black t-shirt, black tights and black hooded jacket.
5th May - Me-Made black Emily shirt with jeans & v-neck jumper.
6th May - Me-Made Boat Necked t-shirt with jeans & rugby shirt (ice skating outfit!).
7th May - Me-Made Jenny Skirt with grey t-shirt and green jumper.
I've also worn me-made PJs each night.

This first week has been interesting, I have received many compliments on the clothes I've worn, both from people who did and didn't know I'd made them. I've also had some interesting conversations with people who know I'm doing Me-Made May and have enjoyed guessing which item is the one I've made each day.

And because picture-less posts make me sad, here's the custom designed hanging rail that my kind brother made me as a belated birthday pressie (with my help holding stuff while he hammered, drilled and screwed):

It's got many many more clothes in it now and I'm planning on adding a curtain across the front. Thanks lil Bro!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Me-Made Inventory

May the 4th (insert Star Wars joke here); we're 4 days into Me-Made May (or MMM for short) and I'm back in Perth, which means I can now do what many of the other MMMers have done and do an inventory of me-made items.

First an inventory of all the me-made items in my wardrobe:

  • 6x PJ bottoms (not as excessive as it sounds: 1x full length summer, 2x 3/4 length summer, 1x shorts summer, 2x full length winter)
  • 1x Summer PJ top (hidden support tank)
  • 1x Pyjamas (top & bottom, winter)
  • 1x Blouse (Sencha)
  • 3x Shirts (stripy JJ, peter pan collared, black Emily)
  • 1x boatneck flower top (red)
  • 1x tank top (purple)
  • 1x trousers (grey)
  • 7x skirts (1x grey flowered sidonie, 1x black jenny, 4x summer gored, 1x smart gored)
  • 7x dresses (2x day winter, 1x evening winter, 2x day summer, 2x evening summer)
(plus a hat and scarf not me made but handmade and gifted to me, so I'm saying they count)

A reasonable range actually, and actually quite a lot when you put it all together like that. It's autumn here and starting to get pretty cold, so many of the skirts and dresses can be excluded, as can the nightwear, so here's my inventory of (daytime) clothes for the month:

  • 1x Blouse (Sencha)
  • 3x Shirts
  • 1x boatneck flower top
  • 1x tank
  • 1x trousers
  • 3x skirts (1x sidonie, 1x jenny, 1x smart gored)
  • 3x dresses (2x day winter, 1x evening winter)
I'd like to make another Jenny in a more casual material and length, at least one casual top (I have fabric for one) and of course I'm working on my Hikaru jacket.

Now I just need to work out an outfit for ice skating on Thursday or I'll fail on day 6!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Perth BSC

Yesterday I joined the ladies at the Perth BSC for an incredibly enjoyable afternoon.

(A picture of Perth, not of the BSC, taken by me in 2006)

I contacted Melissa back when I booked my flights saying that I was coming over and that I'd love to come along and meet them if they had a meet while I was there. She emailed back saying she was sorry but they meet on the second weekend of the month, which I was sadly not here for... however I received another email from her a month or so later saying that they'd decided to hold the May meet a week early so that I could go along!

The ladies at Perth BSC are lucky enough to have it hosted by Sandra in her wonderful little studio. As terrible as I am with names, I can remember hardly anyone's name, but everyone was really friendly and made me feel at home as soon as I arrived. There was stitching, showing and much much telling. Vintage patterns, thrift store finds, both inspiring and hilarious magazines and much much more.

My New Bodice Block

Even more amazing, Sandra was kind enough to show me how to construct my own bodice block. Made to measure, a toile sewn up and final alterations made, I now have a custom fit bodice block to use to make new patterns and check the fit of existing ones. She even showed me instructions for altering patterns to accommodate my substantial derrière.

I certainly hope to pop in again next time I'm in Perth.
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