Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A foray into jewelery making...

I recently identified a gaping hole in my jewelery wardrobe - I was seriously lacking a bright red necklace, preferably something chunky. After a look in a few places, I found some great chunky red wooden beads in Spotlight, so I also bought some red thonging, and after my friend Mindy generously gave me a clasp I ended up with this great necklace:

It sits just at the bottom of my neck, and goes beautifully with my new red lipstick.

Aaaaand, as a bonus, while we were looking through Mindy's jewelery making supplies for the clasp I discovered that she had a heap of fake pearl beads, and she was even more generous to let me have some of the beads and the other bits and pieces to go with it to make this set of fake pearl jewelry

So Mindy, thank you so much for the bits and pieces that let me make them, I'm uber grateful!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Simplicty 2886 - Spotty Dress

The other day I shared with you the lessons I learnt making this dress, today the dress.

I went with view A, but used the contrast hem from view C along with a contrast midriff section.

I made a muslin of the bodice only and made some adjustments to the front bodice piece to make it fit better, and also took the centre back seam (over 2 inches in some spots). Because of those adjustments I had to adjust the pleats in the back skirt piece so that it was the same size as the bottom of the bodice.

I didn't do anything to the length, I just stitched it up as the pattern said and the length isn't too bad. I maybe would have preferred it a smidge shorter, but probably only about an inch.

One of the things that drew me to this pattern was that it has pockets! "Pockets, pockets, pockets" is my new mantra when it comes to choosing projects.

I once again did a hand-picked zip, which turned out quite well

And doesn't the dress have a gorgeous shape for the neckline? It's a little distorted in this photo, it is symmetrical, but has an interesting rounded V shape.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stripes Stripes and More Stripes

On Saturday I paid GJs a visit to go and see their new layout (which includes a workroom on the top floor where the quilt fabric used to be). Far too much time later I left with this selection of fabrics:

Anyone that's ever been fabric shopping with me will know how indecisive I can be, and yesterday was a particularly indecisive day. So a huge thanks goes out to Suzanne at GJs who gave me her honest opinion on a range of stacks of fabric and helped me pick my final selection.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Me-Made-March - Days 17-24


Day 17 (Thursday) - Me-made plaid pendrell blouse (with black trousers)
Day 18 (Friday) - Me-made purple t-shirt (with teal jumper and jeans)
Day 18 (Friday) - Me-made spotty dress, me-made red beaded necklace (with red cardigan)
Day 19 (Saturday) - Me-made "patchwork" skirt (with tank tops)
Day 20 (Sunday) - Me-made white gored skirt (with tank tops)
Day 21 (Monday) - Me-made purple t-shirt (with shorts)
Day 22 (Tuesday) - Me-made brown tunic dress (with black t-shirt and tights)
Day 23 (Wednesday) - Me-made blue pendrell blouse (with jeans)
Day 24 (Thursday) - Me-made black and white skirt (with pale grey t-shirt)

Yup, I'm still plodding along with the Me-Mades. I've been trying to mix up the combinations for some variety, but it's still only on the weird-weather days that I'm struggling. Melbourne is doing it's normal crazy weather routine. I can't believe the month is going so fast though, less than a week left to go.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spotty Dress - A lesson in thinking things through to the end

Do you remember this spotty fabric I bought a while back that I was planning to make into Simpicity 2886? Well I have finally made the dress and it's gorgeous. However, before sharing the finished dress with you I wanted to share the teeny-tiny mistakes I made during it's construction.

When I was cutting out the fabric I decided to learn from my (minor) regrets of recent garments and have a go at matching the print on some of the seams. I decided to go with matching the pockets and the centre back for this dress.

So after cutting out the skirt piece I traced the pattern of spots onto the pocket piece and positioned it carefully. And successfully matched one pocket beautifully... But didn't think through that I should have cut out the two pocket pieces separately so one is matched and the other not quite so. Whoops! Mistake number 1.

(Left: unmatched pocket, Right: matched pocket)

Learning from my mistake I then cut one of the back pieces and painstakingly positioned the second one so that it matched beautifully at the bottom of the centre back seam (the seam is curved so it was impossible to match the whole thing).

(Perfectly matched centre back seam)

I was very chuffed by my perfect matching (yes, chuffed), but then while I was sewing the bodice up I realised that when making the muslin I hadn't worked out my exact centre back seam, I had figured I could work it out on the real thing once I had it on (as I hadn't read through far enough to realise that it had a side zip rather than a centre back one). Thus, I still had to take in the centre back seam (a couple of inches at some parts), so now my beautifully matched centre back seam is no longer beautifully matched. Boo!

Oh well, you live you learn. The finished dress is pretty awesome, so it's OK. Stay tuned for photos of the finished dress.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Oh-Beehave - First Blocks Back

Las week I got back the first blocks for my month of Oh Beehave. Anna made these two blocks, and they're absolutely perfect:

And then yesterday I received blocks back from Shirley, aren't they great:

Thanks Anna and Shirley!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cresecent Skirt and another Sew-along

Tasia over at sewaholic has released her second pattern, a gorgeous little gathered skirt called the crescent skirt. Isn't it cute? I've been eying off the gathered skirts in the stores lately but whenever I've tried them on they've been waaay to short in the back and therefore not decent for me to even wear out of the changing room. But that problem is now solved - I can make the crescent skirt!! And double amazing - it has pockets!

I've already pre-ordered my copy of the pattern and am eagerly looking forward to the sewalong that Tasia has scheduled to start on the 18th of April (particularly given how fantastic and informative the pendrell sew-along was)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Blue & White Dress - New Look 6886

I made this dress well over a year ago, very shortly after buying the fabric back in December 2009 actually and wore it out on my birthday last January. It then got shoved in my wardrobe and forgotten about until recently, and as I didn't get any photos of the whole thing I didn't blog about it at the time. However, as me-made-march has prompted me to wear it again I have now got some photos and can share what the whole dress looks like.

The pattern's a bit average in my opinion. I did a full bust adjustment which helped with the fit of the bodice, but where the shoulder straps meet is a bit wide (particularly shown below in the back view), and the straps are waaaay too long, and even after shortening them I've still added little bra loops to hold them up. However, the skirt is a nice amount of full-ness and a great summery length.

My favourite part about the dress is the fabric - it's a lovely Rayon fabric, which has a gorgeous drape, was lovely to sew with and even nicer to wear. I will definitely be looking out for more fabrics like it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Piecing Vicariously

After vicarious fabric shopping last week Vicki joined us for a couple of hours at the MMQG sit and sew day on Saturday morning to cut out her fabrics. Some sewing alone yielded one quilt top:

And a sewing date with me produced the second:

Aren't they super cute!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Me-Made-March - Days 8-16

Half way through the month and all is still going well. It's becoming instinct to choose from my me-made garments each day, so it'll be interesting to see how things go once March is over, I imagine it'll feel weird for a bit.


Day 8 (Tuesday) - Me-made purple t-shirt (with black jeans or khaki shorts)
Day 9 (Wednesday) - Me-made "twin spruce" knock-off dress
Day 10 (Thursday) - Me-made green leafy skirt
Day 11 (Friday) - Me-made leafy blue and white dress
Day 12 (Saturday) - Me-made purple tank (with shorts)
Day 13 (Sunday) - Me-made purple tank (with shorts)
Day 14 (Monday) - Me-made butterfly skirt (with two blue tank tops)
Day 15 (Tuesday) - Me-made purple tank (freshly washed, don't worry) (with purple jumper and black jeans)
Day 16 (Wednesday) - Me-made "twin spruce" knock-off dress (with pale blue cardi)

There are still a fair few me-made items that I haven't worn yet, so in theory it shouldn't get too boring through the second half of the month.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Microwave Chocolate Cake

As a bit of a change from the sewing, today I wanted to share with you one of my favourite recipes - a chocolate cake recipe that will have you from getting ingredients out of your pantry to eating the cake in about 20 minutes. I tend to leave off the melted chocolate icing and the almonds, but since it's in the recipe I thought I'd leave it in for you to make your own choice about.

100g Golden Syrup
100g soft dark brown sugar
100g butter or margarine
175g self raising flour
50g cocoa powder
1 egg
150ml milk
100g plain chocolate broken into small pieces
25g flaked almonds

1. grease a 9in/23cm loaf dish
2. put the syrup, brown sugar and butter in a large bowl and microwave on high for 2 mins or until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved, stirring occasionally
3. sift in the flour and the cocoa and mix together well.
4. beat in the eggs then stir in the milk
5. Turn the mixture into the prepared dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes or until the cake is cooked and a wooden cocktail stick of skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean
6. leave to stand for 5 minutes before turning out to cool completely
7. put the chocolate into a small bowl and microwave on high for about 1 minute until melted, stirring occasionally
8. spread the melted chocolate over the top of the cake, allowing it to trickle over the edges and sides
9. leave to set then sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top.

Try it and enjoy, and then tell me all about it!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Living Vicariously

My friend Vicki got a sewing maching for Christmas and I have been helping her in learning to sew. So far she's made a dress, but I have also converted her to the dark side and persuaded her that quilting is awesome. So yesterday we went fabric shopping at GJs, which is always HEAPs of fun. Vicki has decided to jump in with both feet, and has bought fabrics for not one, but two quilts, one for a little boy and one for a baby girl. Look at the gorgeous fabrics she chose:

(Along the top will be the binding, and the bottom right one is a flannelette for the backing)

(again, along the top is the binding and the bottom right is a flannelette for the backing)

Fabric shopping for other people is just as much fun as shopping for yourself - you have the down side of not getting to keep the fabric, but you get the up side of not spending any money.

I've even persuaded Vicki to come along to the MMQG Sit and Sew Day for a few hours today so she can get started. Fun times!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Inspiration has struck...

...and there's a new project in the works.

(Linen from The Fabric Store, embroidery floss and notions from Clegs)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My Favourite Skirt Pattern

The first ever item of "real" clothes that I sewed (ie not a fancy dress costume) was a black and white gored skirt (below left). There were lots of skirts like it around in the shops at the time so I thought I'd have a go at making my own. I was very proud of myself for my skirt, especially since I made up the pattern myself, however it does have quite a few construction flaws. I had no idea how to put a zip in so I made it up and "winged it", I didn't even think about finishing the raw edges, and I had the idea of adding a black trim near the waistband so I used ribbon and didn't think through that it would have needed to be curved and ended up making the top of the skirt a bit tight.

That was mid-2006, so fast forward 4.5 years to now and I have 5 skirts from pretty much the same pattern with slight permutations of numbers of gores, degree of flared-ness and adding a second "lining" layer to the skirt. (from left to right in order of when I made them in the above picture). (Plus another one that I made for a friend).

The most recent addition to the collection was stitched up on Boxing Day, but I only just managed to get photos of it this week (despite wearing it multiple times).


(Yes, the weather in Melbourne was a bit miserable last week - tights were required. Not impressed!)

This reincarnation has the (currently) unique addition of pockets. I added some pockets into the side-front panels, and to make them a bit more of a design feature stitched some grosgrain ribbon near the top of the pocket. I also added some grosgrain ribbon to the inside of the waist to stop it stretching out as the fabric is cut on the bias.


The fabric was one of the pieces I purchased in New York last year, with exactly this in my mind. It's a nice quality printed poplin (I think). The skirt also unique among my collection of being a good summer skirt but also a suitable fabric for wearing with tights.

The standing still photos don't really do the skirt justice - one of the best things about it is how floaty it is and we had lots of fun trying to get a photo that captured that quality. And of course, It's great for twirling!

(In case you're interested, these photos were taken on the steps of the Victorian Parliament building)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I made a t-shirt!!!

This post starts with a story. When I was in New York last September I bought a t-shirt. This t-shirt is really comfy, has a nice rounded v-neck with a wide neckband, and best of all was only $3. Sadly, as I was only in New York for 3 days I didn't get a chance to go back and get any more. Fast forward to now, and I decided that since I can't go back and buy more of said t-shirt, I would make one.


So that's what I did, and I'm super happy with it. Pictured are both t-shirts - the bought one and the made one - can you guess which is which?

Edit: The one I made is the purple one, the teal one is the one I bought.
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