Friday, November 30, 2012

Dressember - I'm in!

I heard about Dressember on the internet a little while ago, and the idea has been ruminating with me ever since. What with it being December tomorrow (scary!) I thought I should actually make a decision, and I've decided to join in!

As the icon above says, in December I shall aim to wear a dress every day in the month, and repeats are allowed. I feel I'll have an easier time of it than my Northern hemisphere counterparts, but us Aussies have to have an advantage in something once in a while right?!

While I will plan to wear a dress every day in the month, I won't exclusively wear dresses - ie each day I will wear a dress at some point, but I will still also wear other things throughout the day as necessary (eg leggings/shorts for riding my bike).

I shall endeavor to follow along by posting photos on instagram using the #Dressember2012 tag, with intermittent updates here on my blog.

I thought that a good place to start would be to take inventory of the dresses I have. I was very surprised to find that I have 21 dresses (and that's after I culled a few that don't fit or I know I won't wear; they've been added to a donation pile).

EDIT: I've realised today that I forgot my Cambie in this count, so actually I have 22 dresses. Whoops!

Here are some stats about my dress collection:

  • 10 dresses that could be worn to work
  • 12 dresses that could be classed as summer dresses
  • 5 black dresses
  • 9 dresses with floral prints
  • 5 dresses that could be worn to a formal event
  • 13 me-made dresses
I also have one dress half finished, and fabric at the top of my to-make pile ready to be made into a full-skirted Cambie.

Wish me luck!

Will you be joining in?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Copy-Cat Skirt and Awesome Bike Bag

When I was out on Saturday taking photos of Mindy's Picnic Blanket I realised I was wearing one of my favourite summer skirts and that I'd never actually blogged about it.  I made the skirt pre-blog, over my Christmas break in 2007 - yes that's right, the skirt is almost 5 years old! Working out how long ago has scared me slightly!

The skirt was inspired by a skirt that my mum had bought in a shop, and I really liked the patchwork look of the skirt with the stripes in all different directions. I spent quite a while looking for fabric, but as the stripe repeat on her skirt was wider than on any fabric I could find and I was worried about it all looking too much the same. So instead my skirt is made up of two different fabrics in similar colours, one of which is a seer-sucker, which gives the skirt extra texture.

I 'drafted' the skirt myself by making a simple gore shape similar in measurement to the gores on my mum's skirt, I made about 5 copies and and then chopped up the gores into randomly divided sections (to make two gores per combination). From there I made up pattern pieces for all the bits of skirt, as the pieces have ~1 inch pleats in them where they're seamed together. That's right - every single piece in this skirt had a pattern piece, that was a lot of cutting, and then even more stitching! I think at the time I worked it out as 3 seams for every join in each gore! (I still have all the pattern pieces in my pattern stash)

But I didn't mind all the stitching, as I love how the skirt turned out. I also loved the price tag. This was one of the earlier items I made for myself and I was particularly chuffed that I had made my own interpretation of a skirt that cost about $200 in the shops for less than $20! And 5 years later mine is still going strong but I think my mum's has worn out.

I also wanted to take a moment to share something slightly newer than my skirt; my bike and even newer bike bag, since they were great props for the photos. I got my bike back in April and have been enjoying riding it very much! My previous bike was a 'boys' bike and I really struggled getting on and off it. I'm really loving having a step through bike again and being able to hop on and off easily! Also, MUD GUARDS! So good for riding in the rain or on wet roads!

However even more excitingly is my new bag, I got one of these Basil Elements Shoulder Bags. I really wanted a pannier bag now the weather is warming up; it sucks having a bag on your back when it's hot. However most of the pannier bags I've seen look like they're a real pain to carry around when they're not on the bike, and since I usually use my bike to go somewhere and then will want to carry my bag with me when I get there I need a bag that's easy/comfortable to carry around. So when I found the Basil Pannier bags online I was VERY excited! I ended up buying it from a local bike store as it meant I could see the bag in person before committing to buying it. It functions just like a normal bag when it's not on the bike, and then clips on my rack when I am on my bike - win win!

I don't buy many fabric based things these days, but I'm so happy with this bag. I've had it less than a week , but so far it's great! I did find pannier clips available for sale on the internet however, so have been contemplating trying to make my own pannier bag sometime... I should probably try making a regular bag first to get the hang of it though shouldn't I?!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mindy's Picnic Blanket

I think it's about time I showed you something I've made and finished, don't you? It's been a while! As the temperature has increased so has how busy I am. I've come out of hibernation and am struggling to get much sewing done, which is frustrating as I really want to sew!

What I have to share today I actually finished quite a while ago, but as it was a gift I couldn't share it straight away, and I didn't actually get any pics before giving it away, so I only managed to get photos of it this weekend.

My darling friend Mindy turned 30 in October, so I decided that a special present was in order. I teamed up with a mutual friend, Laura, and together we made Mindy a picnic blanket.

Getting photos was, of course, easier said than done. Obviously the picnic blanket wasn't allowed to steal the show, so it was first auditioned as an 'accessory' (read 'cape')... Thankfully the girls soon decided that the sprinklers were too hard to resist in 30 degree weather...

We chose the fabrics with Mindy very much in mind, going for the brightest, most cheerful floral prints we could find!

I was inspired to make a picnic blanket by Rachel at Stitched in Color who has made some beautiful picnic blankets.

Mindy on her picnic blanket

While a few people have called it one, it's not technically a quilt as it only has two layers. We stitched the front to the back inside out, then turned it, top-stitched the edges, and tied it with some perle 8 thread in the corners of the squares.

I think it's the only time in my life where I've described a hot pink and purple polka-dot fabric as 'calming' compared to the other fabrics it's being teamed with! But that's what we chose for the back, using that theory.  It's also got two ties on one edge so that it can be rolled up and dropped in a bag.

I'm super jealous that I don't have one now, so one for myself has been added to my to-sew list.

 Laura & Mindy on the picnic blanket

(Incase you're wondering, these pictures were taken outside the Royal Exhibition Building, in the Carlton Gardens. Isn't it beautiful there?!)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Christmas at the Nicholas Building?

What are you up to next Thursday evening? If you're in Melbourne and you're not busy you should join us for the meet-up Sarah (SewSquirrel) is organising for the Nicholas Building Christmas Market. Head on over to Sarah's Blog for all the details!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Whole Wheat - Help needed!

Ok, so maybe I spoke too soon yesterday when I posted about how smoothly my Whole Wheat cardigan is going. I finished off the shoulder of the left front piece and have started on the right front piece, and the centre front edge of the button band is a MESS!!

The top piece pictured is the left front - lovely and neat. The bottom piece pictured is the right front that I've just started - a red hot mess!

And I definitely can't just leave it as it is, particularly as it's the right front that's on the outside when it's buttoned up. HELP!! Please?

I don't think I'm doing anything differently, the only difference I can see is that on the left (neat one) I ended the row with a knit stitch and started again with a pearl on the next row, whereas with the right (messy one) I end the row with a pearl and start again with a knit on the next row (which is what the pattern says to do). Could this be causing my problem? If so, how should I fix it?

(For reference, the button band is 9 stitches wide single rib)

Again, Help?!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Whole Wheat - Creating pieces

I've been plugging away at my Whole Wheat cardigan when I get the chance, so far I've finished all of the back piece and am about an inch off finishing the left front. Isn't it looking fantastic!? And oh so soft!

I tried being a 'good little knitter' and read through the pattern before I started, but I couldn't make head nor tail of it. However I'm happy to report that as I'm getting to each piece it's making sense (so far!)

I'm also trying to decide how long to make the sleeves - the pattern has short sleeves, but I don't think I'd get much use out of a cardigan with sleeves that long, so am considering trying to work out how to modify the pattern to make the sleeves longer - but the question is, how long?!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Social Sewing - Early 2013 Dates

Today 11 lovely ladies gathered in Brunswick for some Social Sewing - it was heaps of fun!! There was lots of chatting, lots of sewing, and lots of swapping of books, patterns and fabric.

I wasn't the most productive, but I did get my trouser block traced of, modified and cut out the fabric, and finished sewing the trim on my Rooibos. Along with heaps of gossiping of course!

Most importantly however, we booked in some more dates for early next year. We have booked:

  • Dates: 
    • Saturday 19th January 
    • Saturday 23rd February 
    • Saturday 16th March 
  • LocationGJs 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. 
  • 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 (paid to GJs when you arrive)
I hope to see you there!

I've also put a "Social Sewing" page on my blog. It's here and also linked below my banner near the top of the page. I'll keep it updated with upcoming dates as we book them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lunch time fabric shopping... now with added Amanda...

Last Friday I had a very exciting lunch break; the fabulous Amanda was in town, and since she asked for fabric store recommendations in Melbourne, I offered to catch up with her in my lunch break in Fitzroy to visit The Fabric Store and the Alanah Hill outlet (that also sells fabric).

I wasn't intending on buying fabric myself, I was just planning on being a fabric enabler, but you know those kinds of plans never pan out, and I ended up purchasing the above pieces. On the left is some feintly striped jersey from The Fabric Store- you can't say no to a $4.80 t-shirt can you!? And on the right is a lovely print drapey shiney something from Alannah Hill. The "right" side of the fabric is VERY shiny, but the "wrong" side is just matte enough and the colours just as vibrant so I suspect that side is what shall be used. It is going to become a dress, I'm just not sure what design yet; if you have any ideas or suggestions please share! I got 2.5m of it.

Anyway, I had a great (but brief) time with Amanda, who is just as fabulous in real life as she is on her blog, and can't wait for when she comes down to Melbourne again (she has promised to try and make it to a Social Sewing weekend! Let's do our best to make her stick to that!). Sadly however, we didn't get a pic together as I encouraged her to run for the tram just as we were parting, quickly curtailing photographic opportunities.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Balcony Garden - Week 9

It's been a little while since I posted a Balcony Garden update, so I thought I'd better get on it.

I've been occasionally munching away on Spinach or adding it to sandwiches. I'm also getting into the habit of occasionally grabbing some herbs while cooking. And most excitingly I've been eating some of the 'mystery pea's, which turned out to be a Snow Pea. I think I've had about 7 peas of the plant now, and there are still more appearing. They grow so quickly! From nothing being visible one day to a fully grown pea about 3 or 4 days later!

Anyway, in the spirit of keeping things varied, this week I thought I'd just showcase some of the photos I've taken. I've been taking photos of my balcony garden every Sunday and am trying to get some practice in with my new camera. Here are some of the closer up snaps I've taken...

Strawberries!!! (5th Nov)

Tomato Flowers (5th Nov)

Sage & 'Mystery Pea' aka Snow Pea (5th Nov)

Capsicum & Basil Seedlings (5th Nov)

Carrot Seedlings & Perpetual Spinach (5th Nov)

Mint & Thai Chilli (29th Oct)

Lime & Pea Flowers (21st Oct)

Rainbow Lorikeet having a snack on the gum tree nearby (20th Oct)

Mixed Lettuce Seedling & Lime Flowers (15th Oct)

Rosemary Flower (15th Oct)

I'm still loving tending my little garden, and watching it grow. I can't wait to start getting produce from my other plants!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

November Social Sewing - Are you in?

The next date we've organised for some Social Sewing is just under 2 weeks away, so I thought I'd post up a quick reminder about it.

Here are the details:

  • Date: Saturday 17th November
  • LocationGJs 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. 
  • Time: 9-4 (their opening hours, but you can absolutely come for as much or as little of that as you like) 
  • Cost: $10 per person (paid to GJs when you arrive) 

If you could please let me know if you're planning on coming by comment or email so I can keep GJs in the loop as to a vague idea of how many of us to expect.

Please feel free to pass on the information to other Melbourne sewists who might be interested in coming along.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Also, I think we will try organising some dates for some more social sewing's in early 2013 while we're there on the 17th, so if you're coming along please bring your diaries, and if you're not able to come, please comment here or email me with any dates that do and don't work for you so we can try and factor it in if possible while choosing (this includes you interstate people that keep threatening to come along - we WILL organise dates around when you could come and visit!)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Musings on dresses and skirts

I have recently noticed something strange in regards to the styles I prefer in dresses and skirts. While I love my dresses that have gathered dirndl style skirts, I don't really like the skirts that I have in those styles.

For example, I LOVE the two dresses shown below (my 1 pattern 7 bloggers dress, and my Vintage Simplity 3965 copy), even though they both have a drndl style gathered rectangle skirt:


However, I was so lackluster about this gathered gingham skirt that I gave it away. I've even got a pleated skirt I made near the beginning of the year (maybe even late last year) that has been sat in my wardrobe unworn (and unblogged) since then. And these are just two examples of many.

In contrast, I do love full skirts in general, I wear my red and black crescent skirt almost every week since I made it, and the spotty version frequently during summer.


I've also waxed lyrical about my gored skirts, of which I currently have 5, all of which are in frequent rotation in warm weather.


The obvious difference between the skirts I like and the ones I don't are the bulk at the waist - obviously the gored skirts have a full hem, but no fullness at the waist, and the crescent skirt pattern has a fitted yoke, with the gathers starting further down.

However, it's not as much of a 'duh' moment as you'd think, as it still doesn't explain why I like the style in a dress but not a skirt. Having thought about it, I think the difference is how much a skirt can move around in comparison to the skirt of a dress. A skirt can ride up, fall down, twist around, particularly if it's not exactly the right size (on my shape it does anyway). However the skirt on a dress is anchored where it's supposed to be - it is on the bottom of the bodice and not going anywhere!

You're probably wondering why I'm bothering to put this into a post, its partly because I wanted to actually put it down in words to try and remember to not make this style of skirt in the future, as cute as I think it's going to end up being. Also, I'm hoping to get some thoughts from you as to whether I'm onto something or just spouting rubbish.
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