Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011

There have been plenty of recap posts that I've seen around in the last few weeks. I always enjoy reading them and find it useful myself to stop and have a think about what I've done and what I wanted to do, and then what my plans are moving forward.

This time last year I set myself the very non-specific 2011 goal of "take my time, enjoy the process and take on the challenge of learning new things":

2011 has been an interesting year for me. I finally submitted my PhD thesis, so 2012 will mark some very new things as I move onto the next stage of my career. It was important to me to maintain a balance between writing and the rest of my life, otherwise I would have gone crazy and never finished, so I still got a fair bit of sewing done, including learning new things.

Looking back I have actually had a very productive year, and more importantly the proportion of items that were successes were very high.

My absolute favourite finished item of 2011 is my Genome Quilt, no competition. It was a mammoth project, but I enjoyed every step of it (except maybe the basting), and I still absolutely love the finished thing.

I did finish another few quilts too, including the "striped strips" baby quilt


and my bee quilt for the "oh beehave" quilting bee for MMQG. I'm also about half way through hand quilting my spotty quilt top.

With regards to garments I finished quite a few things, and more importantly the proportion of successes was very high, with many of them becoming wardrobe staples. Here are some of my favourites (click on the pics to see the posts):


I also took part in "Me Made March", which was much less of a challenge than "Me Made May"that I took part in previously, partly due to having more me-made items, but partly because of the different (warmer) weather. I also succeeded in documenting it this time, which was probably the most challenging part. I really do wear my me-made clothes on a regular basis, so it wasn't really that much of a stretch for me to wear them for a month.

Now, looking forward? I don't think I have that many specific goals for next year, really I just want to keep on enjoying my hobby, and as with this year, learning new things is part of that. However, I think it's worth trying to come up with some kind of plan to increase the chances of my items being a success and being incorporated into my wardrobe. That's something that my "five favourites" post can help with. I do have some more specific plans in the works, but I'll save them for another post.

Happy New Year to all my readers, I'm very appreciative of everyone that takes the time to take a look at what I've been working on. I hope you've had a great 2011 and that you have an even better 2012.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Against all of your advice...

Huge thanks to everyone that commented on my last knitting post about what I was doing wrong. My knitting is going much smoother now, and after finishing my first easy project (which I will be able to share with you after Christmas) I have decided to jump in the deep end and have a go at socks. I know you all advised against it, but I'm going to give it a go, fully expecting it to be challenging. I am armed with two detailed books on knitting socks from the library (more on those later), a pattern from ravelry, and the internets.

I am using some yarn that I bought from Spotlight (that said it was for socks, so I figured I was safe buying it even with my lack of knowledge of yarn!), and some 2.5mm bamboo double pointed needles. Like a good little knitter I first knit my gauge swatch, which luckily turned out just right. The thin yarn and little needles were a bit weird to start with but I got used to them pretty quickly.

So then I started on the socks. So far I have knit about 2.5" of the leg of the first sock, so I'm still on the easy bit. I'm apprehensive of what I need to do to go around the heel, but I've read through the two books I've got and have picked one method that is heavily pictured to try.

Wish me luck and good progress!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Laptop Cases

Before I could come across to Perth for Christmas I had to make a laptop sleeve for the laptop I bought a few months ago. So me and Claire got together for a couple of sewing dates and made one each. We used this tutorial by Elizabeth Hartmann from sew mama sew, which was very well written.

I used two pieces of fabric that my brother got me in Africa a few years ago (above) , and Claire used some IKEA fabric for the outer and some scraps I'd cut off the bottom of a curtain for the lining (below).

We followed the instructions and the laptop sleeves came together really smoothly, I would definitely recommend this tutorial.

Our laptops are now lovely and snug in their new sleeves.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What am I doing wrong?

Another knitting post today I'm afraid - but don't worry I have some sewing stuff queued up to post about so this should hopefully be the last knitting post for a little while. However today I was hoping that there's someone out there that knows what I'm doing wrong with my knitting. I've just been practicing my knitting and purling but knitting up some stocking stitch on some big needles. However when I looked closely at my work I'm doing something wrong on some of my purl rows, and I have no idea what it is. I was hoping that by posting a picture someone might see it and be able to tell me what I'm doing wrong.

Can you see that in the lower rows the yarn just does a loop, whereas in a few of the rows it does a kind of twist when it's looping? I've outlined the rows in the image below, in green how it's supposed to be, and in red how the "wrong" rows are:

From counting back I'm pretty sure this is happening on my purl rows, but not on all of them - one of them of 6 doesn't have it. (But it's entirely possible that it's on my knit rows and I've counted wrong, either way it's on alternating rows). Any ideas?

(Thanks in advance!)

EDIT: I think I worked it out - I think I was wrapping the yarn around the needle the wrong way on the knit stitches. Those in the know, does that sound right?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Knitting! (and purling)

I decided this week to finally give knitting a go. For ages now my friend Claire has been making me envious with all of her lovely knitted goodies, and then when Tasia started talking about knitting on her blog it tipped me over the edge. So, since I am now in Perth at my parent's house and have access to some yarn and knitting needles I had a go. I used the videos from Wool and the Gang to learn the basics, and just started knitting.

First I did some knitting, then I did some purling, then I learnt to alternate to do a stocking stitch. Then I decided to be adventurous and try some ribbing! After some false starts where my stitch number changed dramatically (from 10 to 14 in only a couple of rows!) I got the hang of it - muttering to myself "knit, over, purl, back" along the rows and then counting "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, hurrah!" at the end of each row.

Now the dilemma comes of how best to progress... I'm not much one for scarves. I'd really like to make some socks, but I don't know if I should just dive in quite yet! Does anyone have any advice?

PS: I also signed up to ravelry, do you have an account? What is it? I can be found here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My own 5 favourites

Ever since Tasia posted about her five favourite items from her closet I've been thinking about what mine would be. Have you tried? It's a hard one! I think it also changes from season to season, but I thought I'd have a go at assembling a list of my current 5 faves....

...and then I failed miserably. My first attempt at a list included my original crescent skirt, a flowery dress I got from esprit... and then I ran out of specific items. However I did manage to narrow down to 5 distinct "classes" of items of clothes that I could not live without (and mix and match together) that seem to fit perfectly in my lifestyle right now:

1) Skirts with prints
The vast majority of the skirts I own I have made myself, and most of them are made out of fun printed fabric. My crescent skirt is a prime example of this, and it gets thoroughly worn! But my gored summer skirts are also true to this.

2) A-line empire cut dresses
My favourite day-time dress is this dress that I bought from Esprit quite a while ago now (pictured on the right here). I absolutely love it. It's not the kind of print that I would have the guts to make a dress out of normally worrying that it would be a disaster - I have been keeping an eye out for a print that I think might make a dress in the same vein. But in the meantime, frequently when I wear the dress I get complimented on it, and often asked if I made it myself - to which i respond "I wish!". I have another dress with a very similar cut, also from Esprit, but also the two New Look 6726 dresses that I've made are similar too. The a-line skirt is comfortable to wear, easy to cycle in and a good length, meaning that the dresses work in a heap of different situations.

3) Thin jumpers
I have at least 11 thin jumpers that I use to layer things. I tend to wear them more than cardigans, I think partly because I don't find cardigans as comfortable. If you leave them open they tend to get in the way, if you do them up, you may as well be wearing a jumper!! I have them in a range of different colours, some have v-necks, some round and some higher, and they all get frequently worn. I'm always cold (damn air-conditioning everywhere!), so if my clothes can't be layered then they don't get worn!

4) T-shirts / Tanks in a range of colours
To tie all of the above items together, of course I need t-shirts (and tank tops / singlets for summer) - and these I have in abundance, again in a range of colours. I'm not adventurous enough to mix prints, so I need nice basic/solid shirts to wear with my printed skirts and dresses. I know everyone has t-shirts etc in their wardrobe, but they really are an essential and deserve to be recognised as such. And as I've discovered this year, t-shirts are pretty quick to stitch up and it's great to be able to make the style you want in the colour you want rather than having to rely on finding them in stores. Also, the cheap t-shirts I was buying I found tend to stretch out and become unwearable pretty quickly, and the more expensive ones, which last longer, cost quite a bit more money than making my own!

5) My Wedgewood necklace
This necklace is hands-down my favourite necklace. It is probably worn more than all my other necklaces put together. I absolutely love it and it goes with nearly everything! The necklace itself was a gift from my Gran - when I saw it in her collection and said I liked it she very generously gifted it to me. I have certainly made the most of that gift. Last time I went back to England it was the only necklace I took with me and served me well for my 5 week trip! The only single item in my list of 5, but has definitely earnt its place.

And so there you have it, my 5 items/classes that I just couldn't live without. Have you thought about it? Or about the original question of your five favourite items?

I'm glad I took the time to think about this list, as it's really got me thinking about the things I should be sewing - I feel really great when I wear and love something that I've made, so I want to make more things than I love. I know not everything is always going to be a success, but I'd like to help myself be more successful, and I think thinking about what I actually enjoy wearing will really help me with that.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Awesome Street Art

Melbourne is known for it's street art. (Do a google image search and you'll get some examples.) The area I live in is one of the prime areas for some amazing street art, so today I thought I'd share with you some pics I've snapped of some of my favourite bits that I've spotted.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The t-shirts of goldilocks...

Do you remember the t-shirt I made earlier in the year? (pictured below) Well I have since made a few more, but am still ironing out some of the kinks in the pattern (not that there's any problems with it, it's one of my most worn t-shirts these days, but there's nothing wrong with wanting to improve things).

I made another iteration from some brown jersey that I got from The Fabric Store, specifically with the intention of making something to match the planned spotty crescent skirt. The pattern was a direct replication of the first shirt and turned out pretty well...

...except that I forgot that I'd been meaning to add a tiny bit of width to the shoulders of the shirt, so the shoulders of this one (as well as the first) are a little bit narrow.

My next iteration was a sky-blue version (some more fabric from The Fabric Store, this time picked up in a sale), and this time I did remember to add some width to the shoulders...

... but I added a bit too much, and the shoulder seams are puckery and lumpy because they're too long. I'm considering chopping off the seam allowances of the sleeve seams and reducing the width of the shoulders a bit to see if that fixes it up (unpicking the triple stitch isn't really an option with the jersey).

One success though is the conversion of the v-neck into a round neck - some more of the story of which will be further detailed at another time!

And there you have it, one with shoulders to narrow, one with shoulders too wide. Here's to hoping that the next one will be juuuust right!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Garden 2011

A slight change of topic from sewing today: my garden, I hope you don't mind!

Since I moved into my current house 3.5 years ago, we have grown veges in the back garden to mixed success. Until now I've only really succeeded in growing tomatoes, but this year I have branched out and am trying some other veges. It remains to be said whether that decision was wise or not! Anyway, I wanted to share the beginnings of the progress in my vege patch.

Above is my Vege patch about a month ago, and below a photo of it now. Across the back wall you can see three tomato plants (two cherry, one "bush"), then to the right some cucumber plants, then further left some potatoes and right at the back some sweetcorn. There are also some herbs dotted around, including Basil, chives, oregano, and our ever continuing massive rosemary bush. As you can see below they have all been growing like mad in the last month! The standard Melbourne weather of showers then sunshine has done wonders for their growth.

Some highlights so far, (two) Cucumber(s)!

And some Cherry Tomatoes

I'm looking forward to seeing how they all grow and even more so to eating the product!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A bit of a Sewaholic Day

Saturday morning I finished my second version of the Crescent SkirtMy first one gets worn a LOT, it's become one of the 'go to' items in my wardrobe, so I thought it was about time that I got around to making the second version I planned way back when I got the pattern. The fabric I've used is some more of the spotty sateen that I used for my "seeing spots" quilt.

Firstly I need to show you this photo so that some of the below ones make sense - I don't usually pair a green skirt with blue and pink wellies, but you see it was pouring down with rain here on Saturday when I first wore the skirt so I was also wearing my Minoru:

(do you see the awesome street art lion in the background?)

And onto the skirt...

As I know from working with it before that this sateen is very fine and frays quite easily I decided to follow the suggestion in the sewalong and sew french seams wherever I could, which makes it look lovely inside:

I also used Tasia's fantastic zip method, which looks so smart, and no hand sewing!


Because the seam lines in the waistband cut up the spots somewhat I decided to emphasise those lines by topstitching either side of the seams with brown thread, using the triple stretch stitch on my machine:

And some pics of the skirt on me:


And a couple where the waistband isn't covered:


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Grey Dress and better Minoru Pics

I have a few pics to share today, the first is a dress that I made yonks ago but hadn't photographed until yesterday, and also is some better pictures of my Minoru jacket, as the previous ones didn't show the colour very faithfully.

This dress is New Look pattern 6726. I've made it up before, but this time went for the normal straps rather than the buttoned ones (as the buttons are painful when carrying a bag!). For this dress I used some fabric that I got from Tessuti called "Peppercorn" (unfortunately I can't find it on their site). The fabric was some kind of blend, and is lusciously soft, I wish there was a way for you to stroke it through the computer screen, it's so lovely.

As I'd spent ages fitting the dress last time and had marked those changes onto the pattern pieces I didn't bother fitting at all along the way when making this dress. I figured the brown version fits me great still so I'll be ok. Turns out there's a bit of a fitting issue along the princess seams in the bust which aren't obvious in the dark brown fabric but are glaringly obvious in the grey.

Nevermind, the dress is still more than wearable, and most of all has the super awesome pockets that I love so much from the first version. (I do like this dress, despite my expression in the above picture suggesting otherwise!)

And the second thing I wanted to show you today, the better photos of my Minoru Jacket. Nothing against Laura, who took the first photos, and did a great job under the terrible conditions (after dark, inside with average light and using my crappy camera). Now I have some daylight photos where you can see the jacket a little better.

Front and Hood (less comically large when my hair is tied back):


Ready for the rain:

Don't you love the oversized collar:

And more importantly, I can't believe I forgot to show a picture of the lining last time!!

If you want to make a Minoru yourself, make sure you head over to the sewaholic shop, as the pattern is now in stock!
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