Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Pre-Christmas sewing and post-Christmas packing

Over a month and no posts, tut tut!

I am still taking time out from my HotPatterns muslin - thanks to Carolyn for her comments the other day. Will reconsider when I get back to the UK - more of that later.

In the run-up to Christmas I made the nighties for my other 2 daughters. I used Kwic Sew 3105 again, using age 10 for Middle Daughter and 11-12 for Eldest, only a couple of years over their ages, but plenty of growing room! Having done it before it felt nice and easy, especially by the 3rd time. No lace on these, just ric rac, which was fiddly to attach but looks great. So, Middle daughter's nightie first:Eldest daughter's:

And the girls together: So, our adventure in NZ comes to an end and we are preparing to leave. We can't leave until we pack and we can't pack until we leave! We brought so little with us we are using nearly everything right up until we go. We are shipping some stuff back, as we have different baggage allowances than on the way out. Fortunately, we have duplicates of most stuff back at home so it doesn't matter if the stuff takes a while to ship over.

I hope a good time was had by all over the festive period. We had a picnic on the shore of Lake Tepako, then went to a friend for coffee in the late afternoon. I have cast an envious eye over some peoples sewing related Christmas presents (Tasia, Tilly to name a couple) and hope I can organise a sewing space when we get back to our house.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Dot to dot

While I have been putting off tackling my muslin, I decided to do a couple of smaller projects. Eldest has been growing again and a funky little dress that we bought a couple of years ago was only suitable for wearing with trousers/leggings underneath.

I had a look at the dress and decided that it would not be too hard to make it into a skirt. I unpicked the red binding that went round the outside of the neck, as far as each side seam. I then cut off the small piece of fabric that had made the Halter part of the dress.

After carefully, pinning the red binding over the new cut edge I sewed it with a small zigzag on my sewing machine. I left a gap where the binding met the original stitching and ran some elastic through the channel in the binding. I'm not sure I needed to do this for Eldest, but I then did exactly the same for a matching dress for Youngest, which did need the elastic. Not a huge refashion, but enough to prolong the life of the dresses.

As usual, I forgot to take pictures of any of the stages of doing this, but I did think to take before and after pics!

I have yet to get a picture of the skirts being worn.

Monday, 8 November 2010

The never-ending muslin

I bought some material some time ago from a shop in Timaru that has now closed down. I got it in the shop's final days of trading and got nearly 3 metres of fabric, 8 buttons, lots of thread, a Vogue shirtdress pattern (NZ$1!) and a remnant of a navy and white polka dot fabric, for less than NZ$20:

I had fully intended to make the Vogue pattern, but only a few days later I came across the HotPatterns website and fell in love with the Metropolitan Urbanista Coatdress. Having not made dress for years I thought that I would make a muslin, having read about them a lot recently (on the Cupcake Goddess, Sewaholic and Gertie's blogs). I had bought a couple of sheets from a charity shop, which I thought would be ideal.

The HotPatterns pattern pieces are printed on a very stiff paper, so doing a tissue fit would be quite tricky. I enlisted Husband to take my measurements, and these indicated that if there was such a thing, I would be a size 11. I traced off the size 12 with the thought that I would take it in if necessary.

I then very carefully cut out the pattern pieces from the fabric (I have been known to be a bit slapdash in the past) and started to piece it all together.
Even trying this on over my clothes (to avoid constant stripping of in the front room) I could see that this was too big. Just to make sure, I tried it on properly:
and a close-up:
At this stage I took in the seams where the side joined the front and the back, which looked better, but then I realised that I would need to change the sleeves too. I found a very detailed review of the pattern on PatternReview and having clicked through to her blog, got some advice from Michelle at Cheap and Picky. Following her advice I made the pleats bigger which seemed to help. I also got some similar advice from Sunni at Cupcake Goddess.

Having adjusted the seams on the body, the pleats, and the under arm seams on the sleeve I think the dress is still slightly too big and that the shoulder seam is sitting too low.

This last picture is oddly angled to try and show the shoulders being too low. I did put pins in where I thought the shoulders seams should be, but they haven't shown up in the photo. I'm not actually sure if the style of dress is really me.

Having worked this out, I gave up in a bit of a grump. Having taken a step back and thought about it some more, I think I might need to adjust the centre back seam to see if that helps with the shoulder. I haven't done any sewing on this for a couple of weeks now and I'm a bit nervous about starting it again, so I have been doing other things.....

Friday, 5 November 2010

New Fabric photos

I mentioned recently that we had been fabric shopping when we were in Wellington, and I finally got round to taking some pictures of what we bought. I forgot to take a picture of the first fabric uncut, but you can see it made up in my previous post.

First up is the nightie material for Middle and Eldest daughters:

Secondly, the material Husband chose for his shirt. Not sure which view I'm making yet:

Thirdly, this stripy jersey for a top for me, possibly a BurdaStyle Lydia top, or a HotPatterns top, although I don't think I have enough for that. It is a different colour of one of the samples I discussed on an earlier post:

I am currently almost at the end of making a muslin for a dress, which will be my next post. I am not sure when the above projects are going to be made. My muslin is taking foreverahh, and I am planning a couple of other little projects too!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Night Night sleep tight

Having been home from our Wellington trip for all of a day, Youngest started to ask when her nightie would be ready. I decided to wait for the end of the holiday before getting started - I find that it is very difficult to lay out the fabric, pattern etc with a house full of people.

The girls chose the pattern - Kwik Sew 3105. They all said they would like the shorter version without sleeves. Having taken Youngest measurements, I decided to make a Small, which is for age 6, although she is only 4 and a half.

I traced out the pattern and then cut out the pieces from the fabric. I completely forgot to take any photos of any stage of making it. I made a trip into Timaru for various things, including lace for this nightie and ric-rac for the other two. I discovered that the amount of lace indicated on the pattern envelope was not enough, I could have done with about 10cms more. Fortunately I found this out when trimming the bottom ruffle. I decided just to shorten the ruffle rather than make another trip into Timaru for extra lace. It didn't make much difference to the "frizzly bit".

Youngest was very pleased with her nightie and has worn it at any opportunity. I didn't get a chance to take a picture of it unworn, hence the rather wrinkly appearance!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

New Fabric

We went on holiday to Wellington last week. Amongst other things, visiting Te Papa, going to restaurants, riding the cable car, visiting friends, we went to a fabric shop. It was lovely! Lots of choice. After making tops for 2 of my daughters, my youngest has requested a nightie. The others thought this a good idea, so great fun was had by all choosing material. Husband has also asked me to make him a shirt, so we got some material for him, and finally I chose a jersey knit in an olive stripe. I spent my winnings from the Mackenzie Frocks Stars competition - and some. Unfortunately the pattern for the mens shirt was out of stock, so will have to order that online or in Timaru.

Photos of fabric to follow!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Two Blues

Having refashioned a couple of tops into a top for my Eldest, (blogged here), Middle daughter started to angle for a top as well. I was left with a dark blue body and pale blue sleeves and various scraps of the pale blue, so I got to work. I have not got an overlocker/serger so I have stitched both of these tops on a smallish zigzag to keep a bit of stretch in the fabric. I didn't want to have the same decoration on the top as Eldest's, so I had a look at some of Middle's tops for ideas. One that she wears alot had some flower motifs in a reverse applique style so I thought I would give that a try. I experimented with a couple of scraps and liked the effect, so on with the top...

I forgot to take pictures of the different stages, but here are a couple of the finished item..
After I had finished the flowers I found a tutorial for reverse applique here.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Finally finished flowers

Finally finished all my allocation of flowers. Some were easier than others to sew. The plain orange material was tough, it was almost as if it was repelling the needle! I was not the only flower sew-er to find this - I had to buy a thimble after piercing my thumb with the blunt end of my needle.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Garden Walk fabric flowers

Having had the prototype of the fabric flowers accepted by the Garden Walk committee, the next step was to choose some fabric. Lorraine and I went to Timaru to visit fabric shops. One of the fabric shops was having a closing down sale, where we found a lovely orange gingham. We bought what was left on the roll, which was just about 3 metres.
I then spent some time cutting up the fabric into suitably sized strips (9cm by 37cm) and ended up with 99 strips.

It was decided that we needed more than 99 flowers. Last year 120 tickets were sold, and so I went shopping again. Since we had been shopping last, the original shop had closed. I checked out the other 2 fabric shops and, surprisingly(!) couldn't find any matching gingham. I did find a plain orange cotton that matched the gingham perfectly and bought 3 metres. This was when I got some of the samples of fabric mentioned in a previous post. I cut the new material into same size strips ready to start sewing.

We were initially going to have the two flowers, orange and gingham. Lorraine and I decided that it might look good if we had some flower that had both fabrics in - this meant that I cut about half of the gingham and half the orange strips in half - still with me? and then sewed the gingham to the orange to create two-tone strips.

So now the plan is to have 4 flowers: gingham, orange, orange/gingham and gingham/orange!

The programme for the walk will be coordinated with the flowers. The sewing has been divided between some of the Garden Walk committee members, with each person getting about 34 strips. Certainly do-able even if some people openly admit they are not that proficient! I provided instructions and photos of each stage which I will link to soon.

Friday, 27 August 2010

still got the blues...

I have now finished the refashion of the blue tops for Eldest Daughter.

I used the body of the paler top and the arms of the darker top.
I gathered the head of the sleeves slightly so that I wouldn't have to trim them down. I think you can see that in the pictures below. I used a trimmed section of the darker top to highlight the neck, copying the way one of her Boden tops has been finished.
I wanted to decorate the front some how and had a little play:
Here she is, very pleased to be wearing her new top ( just a few seams to tidy up on the inside). She likes her tops quite long and is constantly pulling down ones that are a bit shorter, so this is deliberately on the long side!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Feeling blue?

Not really!
I found these two tops in a Timaru charity shop. I really want to try sewing with knits, but don't want to screw up good fabric. Having been flicking through various blogs, and looking at the Wardrobe Refashion website, I thought I would try refashioning a couple of t-shirts first. My eldest is in need of more long sleeve tops - she keeps doing this rather inconvenient thing called growing - so I thought she could benefit from my efforts. She has a lot of blue in her wardrobe, most of which still fits, so hopefully this will help. My plan is to make the body from the light blue top, which seems to be a heavy-ish weight t-shirt material. Then add the sleeves from the darker blue top, which is a ribbed knit. There will be embellishment of some sort having been inspired by this blog, but I will try very hard not to include all my ideas in one top - sometimes less is more!

Current state of play - both tops are minus their collars and arms, with the paler top cut into a smaller t-shirt shape. Forgot to take pictures of these stages. I am planning to put it all back together with in the next few days.

Monday, 16 August 2010


I was wondering what to write about, as I haven't done much this last week or so, but looking through my previous posts I find I still need to look at fabric and samples. I have finally downloaded pictures of the fabrics, so now I will have a think about what I
might like to make.
These are the samples I have:
This one I probably won't do anything with. I got it as a sample for the primary school flower project, but the shop did not have enough fabric and also it was an Amy Butler fabric, quite expensive and possibly too nice for such a project:

This selection I got from Bolt of Cloth in Christchurch, when I got the fabric for my Mackenzie Frock Stars outfit:

My favourite is the pohutakawa print on linen. It is $139 a metre and I'm not sure that I could justify spending that amount on material. If I could I might make something like this. The plain olive brown linen could be a pair of summer trousers. I have a pair of Boden trousers that I love, but are sadly looking their age and wearing almost through in some places so I could make something to replace them. Alternatively, a Kasia skirt with the spotty fabric as a contrast on the hip area.

The next two both have a turquoise colour in them which I am finding myself drawn to recently:

The first is a knit that I thought I would try using for a t-shirt type top, possibly a Lydia or something a bit more drapey like the Weekender Renaissance top from Hot Patterns, which arrived in the post the other day. The second is a very wafty thin polyester which has a striking diagonal pattern that is actually a lot more colourful than the sample. For this I thought either a loose batwing top with a vest top/tank underneath or something a bit more structured like the JJ blouse. Lots of if's and maybe's. I have mental pictures of them all, then I look at Burdastyle and some of the many sewing blogs out there and get very confused.

I have never sewn with knit fabric before and am quite keen to try it out. Most of the tops that I have in my wardrobe are knits and variations on t-shirt styles. It can't be that hard - can it?? I thought that I would use my winnings from the Frock Stars Competition to buy one or another of the fabrics above - watch this space as they say!

Monday, 2 August 2010


On one of my youngest's kindy free days we did some baking. Firstly we made her suggestion, Chocolate Cupcakes:

then we made my choice, Ginger Crunch:

Then we made a new recipe from one of my favourite blogs, Smitten Kitchen. I have made many recipes from this blog and enjoyed nearly all of them. These are 'Thick, chewy oatmeal raisin cookies' and they are delicious!

Mackenzie Frock Stars 2010

This took place on Saturday 31st July. There were in the region of 40 or so entrants, mostly modelling their own creations. We had a rehearsal on Saturday afternoon, where we were divided into our categories: Under 16's; Daywear/Casual; Eveningwear and non-garment items. We had a 'walk through' so that we knew what order we were appearing in and where to walk. Having arrived and changed a bit early, I spent quite a long time standing round and getting nervous, being near the end of the running order! Eventually the bright lights beckoned and it was my turn to strut my stuff. As each entrant went on stage, a picture of the frock in it original form was projected on a screen behind us. Having struck a few poses, I was off again, then we had to wait for the announcement of the winners. There were prizes for each category, then a few extra prizes...

So now I present the winning outfit of the Envy Award - Outfit that the judges most wanted for their wardrobes:
From this:
to this

Further photos can be found at: . Photos courtesy of Thomas William-Powlett aka Husband!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Frock Stars

Next up was the Mackenzie Frocks Stars competition.
"Your mission is to take one of our icky old frocks & give it a new lease of life in whatever way you can! Unleash your creativity & cut it, dye it, adorn it or completely reshape it - in fact ANYTHING you can to make it gorgeous again!"

I collected a frock - not my first choice - and had a think. My frock was black brushed cotton, with with sprigs of multi coloured flowers (red, white, khaki-ish green and purple). Having been reading Marisa's blog New Dress a Day I knew that something reasonable could come out of this! It was clearly a handmade dress, and had an interesting row of buttons with loop closures. My first thought was to make a jacket to keep the interesting buttons, then came across the Nadine jacket on BurdaStyle - a plan was beginning to form...

During Husband's birthday weekend away to Christchurch, I dragged dragged him to a fabric shop I had been told about, called Bolt of Cloth. I wasn't sure what I was looking for, but very quickly found a bright 'tomato-y' red fabric that would go with the red flowers on the dress. Having bought the red fabric and obtained some samples of other fabrics for possible future projects, I then had to tackle the dress. I had decided to use the Nadine pattern as a basis for my jacket, and wanted to use the red fabric as a statement. I used the collar, sleeve ruffles and and peplum from the Nadine and cut them out of the red. I cut the dress horizontally just below the last button and set about attaching the extra pieces, leaving the collar to last (this was the trickiest bit).

Having done all this I found the piece I had left was just big enough to make a skirt. I used the Burdastyle Kasia skirt for inspiration and again used the red fabric to highlight the hip yoke section.

The entries were judged on Wednesday 28th July (I think) and who knows what people thought of my creation. The Fashion Parade t00k place on Saturday evening and and I will be modelling my outfit. This is not usually 'my thing' as I am not keen on people watching me, but I will have to tell myself that people are looking at the clothes rather than me and get on with it! I forgot to take pictures of the finished clothes so will post something after the Parade.

Fabric Flowers

The Primary school here has an annual Garden Walk as a fund-raiser. This is held in spring, which, in these parts, is November time. There are a number of gardens in the area, all open for viewing for one day. Last year the tickets had a fabric flower with them, to be worn at the gardens to show that you had a ticket. These are the two we got last year:

Having offered to help and admitting my sewing tendencies, I was asked to look into a different style of fabric flower for the tickets, with the proviso that it had to be simple! There followed a happy morning researching the internet, checking out a few of the many how-to's out there and having a go at making a few. I wanted to keep the gathered look, but was open to ideas. I found a few that I liked, and had a play:

The clear winner was this one, getting the vote of approval from Husband and Garden Walk committee:

I used the instructions on here on Little Birdie Secrets.