Thursday, August 30, 2012

Great stuff... #1

I'm sure you've all seen various posts around the interwebs where people have posted a little round-up of things they've found that they've found particularly impressive, inspiring or interesting. Since I really do enjoy reading them myself, as they often contain things I haven't seen and alert me to blogs I haven't heard of, I thought I'd start occasionally doing posts like it myself.

PS: I've given my blog a mini-makeover, so if you read my posts in a reader you should pop on by to take a look

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Balcony Gardening - Back to the Beginning

I've done a little gardening before (see here and here) and have had average success. I've grown Tomatoes successfully, gotten a few cucumbers and potatoes, and had reasonable luck with herbs. But overall it's all been a bit hit and miss, and has been done with very little knowledge behind it.

Since I moved earlier this year, I no longer have an actual garden, but still want to have a go at growing myself some food again this year. So, I have decided to take a more learned approach and do some research before I start. I am also hoping to document the process here, which will hopefully give double benefit - if you know anything about gardening please pipe up with any advice/tips/suggestions you have, if you don't hopefully I'll be able to share some knowledge. Apologies if you're not interested in my gardening adventures, but there shouldn't be too many posts, I hope you stick around and just skip past them.

The first thing all the books seem to say is to evaluate the space that you've got, so I thought I'd start by talking about my gardening space. While I used to have a small courtyard garden with raised beds, since I'm now in an apartment, my new "garden" is my balcony:

It's a decent sized balcony (about 3.4x2.1m) and faces north (ie towards the sun down here in Aussie-land). It is undercover (covered by an identical balcony on the level above), so doesn't get wet in the rain, which in Melbourne with its inconsistent rain isn't necessarily a bad thing. Instead of relying on rainwater I will hopefully be able to collect enough grey water from the washing machine to use to water the plants.

As you can see above and below, part of the balcony sticks out from the building, but most of it is a slight indent, with decent depth walls. While I can't put anything on the walls themselves, I will hopefully  be able to take advantage of this vertical space by using shelving (one unit shown behind the bikes, not currently assembled, the other in the below photo).

The bikes will be finding another home to give more space, and I also plan to get a table and some chairs so that we can use the balcony in nice weather too. Below you can see the other side of the balcony - the junk will be going, and the shelves against the wall will hopefully give me some extra space.

It's hard to judge how much sun the various spots on the balcony will get. I can easily see what sun they get at the moment, but as we get into Summer the angle of the sun will become higher into the sky and thus how much of the balcony gets sun will change. So other than making an "educated guess" I'm not sure what to do.

What about you? Are you much of a gardener? Do you have any tips for me? Suggestions of things that I might have success growing? Ideas for making good use of the space? (Particularly for growing stuff from seed, I've never successfully done that before)

Monday, August 27, 2012


Look what I picked up from the DHL depot in my lunch break today!!!

That's right, Gertie's new book!! After hearing last week that it was shipping early from Amazon I jumped online and ordered myself a copy! I paid for the middle priced shipping option (the $15 one, rather than the $5 one), which brought the total cost up to $10 more than if I bought it from the book depository, but I decided that that $10 was a small price to pay to get the book sooner! (since the book depository still isn't even shipping yet).

I ordered it on Tuesday, and they tried delivering it to me in Melbourne on Friday - how's that for speedy delivery! Sadly I wasn't home, so I had to arrange to pick it up, and had the agonising wait over the weekend. I was practically bouncing around in my chair at work this morning, so I traded my lunchbreak  for an earlier one and on the dot of noon dashed off on my bike to North Melbourne to pick it up.

I haven't managed to do much more than flick through the book yet, but all I had to to was open the cover to fall in love. The dress pictured above is pictured on the first page of the book and it was love at first sight! After some frantic flicking through the book I discovered that this is one of the 10 patterns included in the book (phew!).

Yes, that is Liberty that Gertie has made the dress from. And did you want to know something fortunate? I have a nice big piece of the same liberty in the blue colourway just waiting to be made into something lovely, maybe this pattern will be it...

I'll be back in a few days when I've actually had a chance to read the book with a more thorough opinion, but I already suspect that my "to sew" list is about to explode!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

DUDQS3 - Quilt Top

I've finished my quilt top for the DUDQS3.

As you can see, I chose the grey, pink, blue and green combo from the various fabrics that I auditioned

DUDQS3 - Sneak Peek

Now to decide how to quilt it... What would you do?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

International Bridesmaids Dresses

Do you remember back at the beginning of the year when I made a "practice" version of Vogue 2902? Well now I can share with you what that was a practice for.

It was for bridesmaids dresses for Laura's wedding. When we were chatting on skype very shortly after she got engaged she asked me to be a bridesmaid for her, with the other being her sister Anna. I of course said yes (very enthusiastically, this is my best friend afterall), and the conversation carried on. We got onto the topic of bridesmaids dresses and Laura started going through all the various scenarios of how we'd make the whole bridesmaids dresses thing work given that I would be in Australia until about 3 weeks before the wedding, and both her and Anna are in England. She had decided she'd like us to match. After various (very stressful) scenarios were mentioned I piped up that I could possibly make at least my dress, and potentially Anna's dress depending on the style... an offer that she took up!

A few days later she emailed me through a picture of a dress that she'd seen in a magazine that she liked and would like something similar, but in blue, so I set about finding an appropriate pattern. After a bit of a hunt I came up with the following 4 options:


Which (obviously) Laura chose the vintage vogue in the top right.

Next we had to choose fabric. This was a bit of an adventure, as I really wanted to make sure that the fabric was the right colour, and Laura didn't feel that she knew enough about fabric to buy something in the UK and send it, so that that left us with me getting swatches of fabric from shops here in Melbourne, posting them to England for Laura to have a look, and then hoping that the store still had the chosen one in stock!

The fabric we ended up going for was some silk dupion from Franke Stuart, who said that their stock of that type of fabric was relatively constant, and worse case scenario they could order it in, but that'd take about 8 weeks to come in, but at that point we still had that much time to spare, so it was ok. (As an aside, I have nothing but good things to say about the service that I received from Franke Stuart and the range of fabrics that they stocked, I recommend them if you need formal dress fabrics in Melbourne)

The last hurdle to get over was fitting Anna's dress. Obviously I couldn't do any in person fittings for her dress until a few weeks before, and since in that time I was going to be on holiday there I didn't really want to be frantically making a dress if I didn't have to be.

The solution that I came up with was to make a muslin of the bodice, post it to Laura. After giving Laura some very specific instructions for taking Anna's measurements I made up the muslin and posted it off. We then had to arrange a time when Laura and Anna were together (they live in different parts of the UK themselves!) that was also a good time in Australia and have a skype dress fitting! I was all prepared for the possibility of having to send a second muslin over for Anna to try if lots of alterations were required (especially since I'd actually had to grade down to her size because of the size ranges that the pattern splits at).

Thankfully hardly any alterations were needed! It fit pretty much perfectly across the bust, it was a bit tight in the waist, the straps were a little long and we needed to add a little length to the bodice to make sure the seam sat on her waist. Because these alterations were pretty basic I decided to go ahead with making the final dresses.

I took many photos of my progress as I was making the dresses to keep Laura and Anna in the loop with how they were looking, so above is a bit of a mosaic of some of them.

One little thing that I did, because sewing two almost identical dresses was starting to get confusing, was to add a little label into the back with our initials so I could easily and quickly tell them apart:

I completely finished my dress before I left for the UK, and finished all of Anna's except the hem and the zip (incase of needing to do any alterations). I decided to hand pick the zips, and I'm glad I made the effort as I'm super happy with how well the zips turned out:

I (stupidly) didn't get too many photos of the whole dresses, but here we both are:

And here's a great one of Anna, showing the circle skirt:

And here's one of me in mine (sorry for the cropping!), which shows the bows I made quite well:

And you want to know my favourite thing about the dresses? The full skirts!!

Circle skirts are MUCH fun to dance in! Definitely something that will be a factor in all future wedding-guest dress choices - "how much fun will it be to dance in this dress?"

And did you want to know one last awesome thing about the wedding? There was a bouncy castle. Yes, you read that right, a BOUNCY CASTLE! SO much fun!!! And, yes, the dresses held up great on the bouncy castle, want to see proof? Here you go:

Overall it was a slightly stressful process, mostly because I was really concerned about the dresses turning out well and not letting Laura and Anna down, but they turned out fantastically so it was all ok in the end!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Social Sewing?

Would anybody be interested in some Social Sewing?

After having such fun at the Melbourne Sewers Meetup I was freshly reminded how enjoyable the company of fellow seamstresses can be. I used to get my regular fix at the Melbourne Burdastyle Sewing Club, but since that was disbanded I have only had a couple of other garment sewers that I've caught up with. I know how much fun I have at the sit and sew days for the Melbourne Modern Quilt Guild, so thought I should just get around to organising something similar, that is, if anybody else is interested. As well as being lots of fun (I hope), it's also super handy to sew with other people occasionally, for example you can get help with fitting, hemming or a tricky technique.

I was thinking of the following:
  • Location: GJs Discount Fabrics, in Brunswick- they have a big workroom with big tables and lots of floor space, power points and light. You would need to bring your own machine.
  • Date: Saturday 29th September
  • Time: 9-4 (their opening hours, but you can come for as much or as little of that as you like)
  • Cost: $10 per person
Are you interested in joining me for such a thing?

If you are, please let me know, either by commenting on this post (making sure that your email address is listed, if it's not please include it), or email me so that I can make sure GJs know approximately how many people to expect.

Even if you can't come on the 29th, please let me know if you'd be interested in coming along at some point, as if there's enough interest we could make it a regular thing and then I'll know to keep you in the loop!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Jumping the queue; a new t-shirt

After my very inspiring Saturday, I spent Sunday cutting into some of my pieces of jersey. By the end of the day I had pieces cut out for three t-shirts, including one from the fabric that I bought on Saturday.

Last night, in between baking a special treat,  I spent some time stitching up one of them - and of course the one I chose to do first was the new fabric!

It took most of the evening (in between other things), because I took my time and carefully matched the stripes down the side seams (in all honesty, with varying success). Can you see the side seam in the picture below? Hopefully only just!

The fabric wasn't quite wide enough to make the sleeves full length, so I decided to try making them hit just above the elbow, which i'm really happy with. That little bit of extra warmth but without the annoyance I get around the elbow with 3/4 length sleeves.

I don't remember what makes up this fabric and can't find it on the Tessuti site, but it's really comfy to wear and seems pretty warm, so success!

This shirt is made using a slightly modified version of the pattern I've previously traced off a t-shirt. I've made some others between the ones I've blogged and this one, so I really need to get around to taking some photos so I can catalogue the changes I've done to improve the pattern (and the mistakes I've made!)


Monday, August 20, 2012

Melbourne Sewers Meetup - Such Fun!

(Photo shamelessly stolen from The Perfect Nose)

As I mentioned in my last post, the sewers meet-up on Saturday was stacks of fun! It was great to see some familiar faces, other familiar items of clothing, and meet lots of new people. We met up at Tessuti for some fabric shopping, and there was LOTS of gossiping going on while we were there, we kept having to remind ourselves to shop, only to end up chatting away again in the next section of fabric!

I wasn't intending to buy anything while I was there, but I fell in love with some striped jersey (that I can't find on their site), so bought a piece to make a t-shirt. I don't have a pic of the fabric, but you won't have to wait long to see the shirt, as I just finished making it!

After we'd all made our purchases at Tessuti we wandered over to Fed Square for some nibbles and drinks, and yes, lots more chatting! It's so nice to be in the company of like minded people, who don't look at you too strangely if you ask if you can stroke their skirt, examine their pocket or even try something on! I was having such a great time that I forgot to take any photos, but there are already some other recaps of the afternoon by Kat, Tj, Christy and Leith

Most of the attendees were bloggers, and incase you're interested, here's a little list (shamelessly stolen from Kat who kindly wrote it out):

Kat: All the whimsical things -
Robyn: Sew love red-
Rachel: Boo dog and me -
Rachel (me): My messings -
Kirsty: Rocket Sews -
Leith: Sew Brunswick -
Lara: Thornberry -
Melanie: PoppyKettle -
Helen: Funkbunnys kitchen garden -
Christy: Little Betty -
Rachel: The two windmills -
Sarah: Sewsquirrel -
Tj: The perfect nose -
Belle: Bella's Collectanea of Sewing -

You should check them out, coz there's some seriously talented ladies listed there!!

(If you were there and aren't on the above list please let me know so I can add you!)

Anyway, thanks for a fantastic afternoon everyone, and special thanks to Rachel for organising it!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Another Jenny for a fantastic afternoon!

Here are some pics of me wearing the skirt that I made for the bloggers meetup yesterday - it's (yet) another Jenny skirt.


This one hits just above the knee, and has a 2 inch waistband. It's super comfy!

It was inspired, way back in April, by this dress from Pepperberry:

The general consensus when I asked about dress vs separates was to go for separates as it'd be more flexible, so that's what I've done!

That's not quite the last of the sateen, but I probably shouldn't make anymore garments out of it, given as well as this skirt I used it for my Cambie dress and it's quite distinctive!

And to finish, for no other reason than it was pretty and I was playing with my new camera...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Last minute sewing

What happens when you combine a sewing bloggers meet-up with not knowing what to wear? A new skirt of course!

I got home from work at 6pm last night, and by 9:45 had a new skirt - hurrah! (and that includes hand stitching the waistband and the hem).

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What's next?

Since getting back from my holiday I feel like I've kind of lost my sew-jo. I'm drifting a bit and don't really have any focus or drive. I think most of the problem is that for so long before I went away I had other things I was supposed to be working on, my mental list of things I want to be working on got pushed by the wayside.

In an attempt to kickstart my drive to sew fun things again I decided to have another look through and tidy of my fabric stash, which has still been growing despite how little I've been digging into it. I've taken out all the pieces of fabric of a decent size, taken photos and tagged the photos in picasa with a descriptor of what kind of fabric it is and how much of it I have.

The problem is, I don't 100% know what I want to do with all of it, so I thought I'd post the pics here and ask if anybody has any suggestions or comments...

These three shirtings have been around for a while, infact I blogged about making them into shirts over a year ago, wow! They are still destined to become smart button down shirts, I just need to commit to doing it and choose a style/pattern.
The one on the left is a really luxurious feeling one, I have 2m of it.
The one in the middle has some stretch in it, so the shirt can be more fitted, I have about 3m.
I have about 1.5m of the one on the right and I think it will become another JJ though (sans ruffles, possibly with a collar?).

Drapey Blouse Material
The left material is a gorgeous silk that I bought from Tessuti with the plan of making a Sencha blouse, but then I fell out of love with the pattern.
The middle one is some kind of man-made material that I inherited with beautiful drape, however it's quite a small piece so I'm mostly limited by what I can fit.
The last is a chiffon, which I can imagine as another Pendrell, however I have 2.5m of it so that seems a bit of a waste. But then it's more of a waste sitting unused!

Printed Cottons (or similar)
This left one is another inherited fabric, and I LOVE it but have no idea what to do with it (I have about 2m).
The one in the middle is a lawn that was originally bought to become a jasmine but after making a 'wearable muslin' I discovered that I need to work on the pattern a bit if I want to make a wearable one of those. I have 3m of it.
The gingham is larger than the one I used for the Jasmine muslin, maybe 1cm or so? I have 2.5m of it, so it could become a dress... but which one?

The two on the left are what's remaining of the masses of spotty sateen I bought at Spotight. All the small bits were put together into a quilt top and one of the larger ones a crescent skirt. These two are bigger pieces (4m and 3m) and are destined to become dresses I think. At least one of them will be another version of this self drafted dress (potentially with modification to the neckline, who knows!). I'm not sure about the other one.
The fabric on the right is a voile I bought aaaages ago with the intention of making Butterick 5350 but that never eventuated. I'm not 100% sure I love the pattern anymore (or all the inevitable alterations required to make it fit me).

At least these last three I know what I want to do with them! The fabric on the left I bought at the Rag Market while I was in Birmingham and is going to become a full skirted Cambie.
The one in the middle is hopefully going to become a Rooibos. I'm a little concerned because the poplin doesn't have any drape whatsoever (even after pre-washing). I was planning on lining it, but I am now thinking of maybe underlining it instead....
The one on the right is the last of the stretch sateen I used to make my first Cambie dress and is definitely going to become a pencil skirt!

At some point this will become some PJ bottoms.


All of these pieces are jersey. The colours haven't come out completely accurately; the top left is a lovely bluey-grey mottled fabric, and the top middle is a beautiful cream. These are all destined to become t-shirts of some kind. The bottom middle most likely long sleeved, the others probably short sleeved. I might try some new variations so I don't end up with too many t-shirts all the same except the colour!

This last one, which is much more of a teal colour than the picture is showing, is hopefully going to become a jersey dress of some description. Very experimental since I don't currently have a pattern for a jersey dress, but I am planning on following the tips and techniques in sew u home stretch.

Ok, now I've gone through it systematically I at least have more of an idea of what I want to make... now to pick where to start!!!

As I mentioned at the beginning of what has become quite a long post (well done if you're still with me!), any suggestions and/or comments gratefully received!
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