28 February 2013

New Project

Ive got quite a lot of time on my hands at the moment after making the hard decision to stop with the phd. It just wasn't going in the right direction.

So while I search the tight job market for something to do, I wanted to be doing something useful too. 

** Just a warning - the rest of the post refers to late term baby loss **

This is quite a long post, but even if you don't read it properly, I would really appreciate it if you could skip to the end and let me know your thoughts on my dilemma!

Through a friend I heard about Gum Blossom. They are a group here in Perth who supply clothes and blankets for babies who die before, during and shortly after birth. 
A lot of these babies are way too small for anything their parents may have bought them, or arrive before they have got as far as thinking about that. Having a supply of lovingly crafted outfits on hand to provide when needed hopefully helps make a very hard moment the slightest bit easier. 

I've been waiting for the "approved" patterns to arrive, as there are a small range of outfits the hospitals ask for specifically- mostly kimono style wraps that are easy to put on and adaptable to a range of sized babies. In the mean time, I used the initial burst of energy that comes with any new project to pick up a crochet hook for the first time in a while. And first time crocheting something that isn't a flower!

Preemie sized hat and booties. 

Newborn sized hat

Another newborn hat.

I plan on making at least a matching blanket for the top two. The bright coloured one was a bit of a trial, and I think the yarn is too scratchy so it might get un-picked. I don't know. Maybe it could be a doll hat... The hats are all a mish-mash of the myriad of hat patterns out there (basically 6 hdc in a magic circle, then ?5 rows of extension then another 7 rows straight down, plus the little fringe on this last one.) And the booties are these, though my lack of crochet prowess meant that they weren't quite so quick! I'm going to try aome open heeled booties though, as they are easier to get on and off.

When I checked the mail at lunch time I found that the "official" patterns had arrived, so I whipped one up in some jersey that has been sitting in my stash for a while, to see how it came together.

Its so tiny! Note earphone for scale!

I plan on running with the wrap theme to make some dresses that are closer to what you might buy in the shops, with a bit more definition and maybe some cute ruffles on the girly ones. I don't work much with jersey, but it makes it easier to get the sleeves on so I might have to see how I can work around that! Maybe some gentle shiring lines? Or upper body knit, skirt woven?

While I was looking around for inspiration I also came across some one saying that their husband wished they didn't have to bury their son in a dress... but the issue is that it can be hard to get delicate baby legs into trouser legs, so they are often simply dressed in wraps. 

An idea jumped into my head to attempt to make trousers that do up with buttons on the outside legs. I'm not sure how feasible it will be for the very small preemie sizes, but the newborn size should work. I'll make a few test pairs and see how they are received.

I'm not sure what direction to head design wise. 
I like modern kids clothes, but if I was a mourning parent would I still want them in mini-boden inspired clothes? or would I prefer the more traditional white and pastel? 
Would I still want to dress them as the child I was hoping they would become? Or would I feel bound to tradition and want something mournful? 
Part of me thinks that they are still the child they were going to be, so I would pick a dress that I could imagine presenting them at their first major gathering in (like a party dress). But everywhere I look online I see pastels (and patriotism... hmmm... no).

Whem I volunteered, I was told that "it takes all sorts" but I don't want to send something that is at best un-useable, and at worst disrespectful. I've never been in the situation, so I can't really tell!
Am I just over thinking it?!

If you have any thoughts on this, I'd love to hear from you-
 either in a comment below or an email (anikissed (at) yahoo dot co dot uk)

I'm going to try and work on boy-specific items, as I have a hunch that they get lots of quite girly items, but fewer for boys. As in the sewing world in general I guess.
Maybe I could do some West Coast/Dockers outfits/hats too :)
Even if they only get used as photo props, I'm sure they would be much appreciated by the AFL dads (and mums) out there.

26 February 2013

Lady in Red

Remember how I have a problem with buying $1 remnants from the Op-Shop?
Well, I finally put this one to good use!

We had a surprise birthday meal to attend on Friday night at a swanky restaurant.
So obviously I wanted a new dress :)

I've never actually worn a red dress before, so it was a little out of my comfort zone, but this red stretch sateen was begging to be made into a (semi) wiggle dress. I used the bodice of the Princess seamed Butterick 4443, with a few alterations from last times use in the Janet dress, and a few more because of the stretch nature of the fabric. I drafted the skirt myself with the aid of the Meringue skirt as I wanted a closer skirt than the flared one from 4443. Plus I didn't have enough fabric to work with anyway!
Apologies for the awful pictures- I couldn't for the life of me find the camera so these are dodgy iphone pics.

I felt a million dollars in it :)
When we were waiting for the birthday girl to arrive I kept squee-ing with excitement, and I got some great compliments. 

The most exciting thing (beyond the fact that this fits like a glove is the back:

Can you say heart-shaped cut out?! 
Tacky, maybe. But I love it :)

I think if I made this style of dress again I need to make the skirt a little longer, as I felt a little exposed. The original plan was longer with a kick pleat, but I ran out of fabric!

New techniques:
Cut out - worked like a dream. That section is lined with some red polkadot poplin scraps in the central section between the princess seams, to help support it and stop it stretching out of shape too much. This was probably some of the oldest fabric in my stash, originally used in this bag way back in 2010. SO good to see that go!
Understitching - I'd read about this before but never really tried it. BIG MISTAKE! Totally doing this every time I sew linings/facings. It kept the facing neat and hidden and gave a good, well defined fold line. It meant I didn't have to top stitch around any of the openings, which kept the lines nice and clean.

Fabric - $1 (plus the scrap of polkadot) 
Zip - $2.50
Hook and eyes - 30c
Pattern - already used so FREE ;)

$3.80 - Score!

Much much cheaper than the meal and the champers! Though we did manage to claw back some good money from the Casino after the meal, Well, the boy did. I'm not much of a gambler, but I did treble my money on the pokie machines- $6 profit for me :D So thats the dress covered!

21 February 2013

Are you on the map?

View Map the Sewintists in a larger map 

I love reading sewing blogs of people who live in a totally different culture to the ones that I have experienced- you get the mad sewing skills and you learn so much more about life too!

AnotherSewingScientist set up this interactive map to help connect sewinists near and far.

If you haven't already, (have you been living under a rock these last few days?!)  go add yourself to the map and seek out some new reads!

(PS: The map can only show 100 pins at a time, so set it up to cover the area you're interested in (or the whole wide world!) and flick through the pages to see who appears!)

18 February 2013

MadMen 2

Did you see my little button on the side bar?


I totally missed it last year. I have to admit I hadn't even watched an episode this time last year! Part of the issue with working away is that you miss a lot of the trends...

But this year I'm bang up to date!

I love challenging my creativity to make dresses- like the caterpillar dress and my Brad and Janet outfits
But unlike those I want it to be wearable too.

So which dress, you ask?

I'm thinking this Betty dress, from way back in series 2:

Classic shirt dress, subtle collar, puffy sleeves.
Might have to bring the length up a bit and take out some of those many many gathers to make it a bit more wearable.
Just my colour, too.

I won a 70s shirt dress pattern in a SewGrateful week giveaway, so I might give that a try. Otherwise I might try and draft something up myself.

And the fabric?
Some of this is currently winging its way to me from America:

Amy Butler Cameo Voile Josephine's Bouquet Ink

I'm hoping the voile has enough body to stand up to this. 
I'll probably line most of it anyway, so fingers crossed!

Watch this space :D

14 February 2013

Happy Valentines Day!

You’re all I ever wanted;
I wish you could be mine;
And so I have to ask you:
Will you be my Valentine?

Think I'm cute?
I could be yours!

11 February 2013

Presents all around!

First up - The winner of the giveaway!
Random.org tells me that of the 24 entries, lucky 13 is the winner! How apt!
So... Janice. Check your email and we'll get this show on the road.

This weekend was the Boys birthday.
I made epic cake- Chocolate Orange Mousse Cake from Taste.

It is a flourless dark chocolate cake with orange zest, topped with chocolate mousse, topped with candied orange slices. EPIC.
I was supposed to leave it in the pan after it cam out of the oven, then put the mousse on, then take it out of the cake pan. But I didn't... which is why its not quite as pretty and straight sided as it should be. Still tastes awesome though!

08 February 2013

The road was long but I ran it...

Hey Janet?

Yes Brad?

I've got something to say...
 I really loved the skilful way 
You beat the other girls to the bride's bouquet! 

 The road was long but I ran it, Janet 
There's a fire in my heart and you fan it, Janet 
If there's one fool for you then I am it, Janet 
Now I've one thing to say and that's Dammit, Janet, I love you...

 Oh it's nicer than Betty Munroe had,oh Brad 
Now we're engaged and I'm so glad,oh Brad 
That you've met Mum and you know Dad, oh Brad 
I've one thing to say and that's Brad I'm mad for you too...

Here's a ring to prove that I'm no joker 
There's three ways that love can grow 
That's good, bad or mediocre 
Oh J-A-N-E-T I love you so

Just look at those welt pockets :)
Who cares if they're only for appearance.

Janet dress:
Butterick 4443 with white trim along princess seams, buttons, collar added, and belt with shrink-plastic buckle. Back invisible zip. Much shorter!
Hair clips also shrink plastic
First: Belt, princess seams, fully lined dress.

Brad Jacket:
Based on Colette Negroni shirt pattern. Collar accentuated. Front yoke and welt pockets added.
Could have done with adding a facing to the jacket, but I was running out of time.
First: Mens clothing, flat felled seams, invisible hem, welt pockets.

06 February 2013

Sew Grateful Freebie - Pin-Up Apron

Do you remember the hot apron I made?
Well, I immortalised the pattern and here it is for you to make your own!

You can download the pattern from here

It goes together pretty easily. I didn't take photos while I was making it, but I'll go through the steps.
A little boring maybe, but it should come together quite easily. The only weird thing is the pattern lay out- there are three portrait pages (match the numbers), and one horizontal which fits underneath (match the letters)
  1. Cut out fabric- You'll need one front piece, one back piece, two for the main waist band (these can be the same as the rest or contrasting, and you can chose the sweet heart shape or just straight), and four rectangles 7.5cm x width of your fabric (for easy tying). These can be as long or short as you want really, as long as you can tie them!
  2. Interface the waistband pieces. 
  3. Sew one waist band piece to each front and back piece. Hmmm. Probably have put some notches on. The base of the wasitband goes along the shortest curve of the main apron! You might find it easiest to not pin this, and instead sew slowly and keep adjusting the fabric so that the straight waistband sits nicely against the curved apron top.
  4. Put the font and back pieces right-side together and sew across the top (carefully following the sweetheart shape, and around the main apron panel  leaving the sides of the waist band open to allow turning out and insertion of waist ties.
    If you're adding trim, this is when you should add it! I find it easiest to baste the trim onto the edge of the right side of the back panel  so that the edge you want sticking out is on the inner most edge (i.e. not sticking out yet). Then place the front panel on top, right sides together- you shouldn't be able to see any trim!
  5. Clip the seam allowance and then turn out through one side of the waist band. Ease any curves out by rolling with your fingers and then pressing. You might need to use a blunt pencil, small crochet hook/point turner to make the most of the sweat heart waist band.
  6. Sew up ties- place two long thin rectangles rightside together, and sew along 3 sides. You can shape the end of the ties if you wish, I do! Then clip the corners, turn out and press.
  7. Fold under the seam allowance on the waistband, insert the raw end of one tie in each side and sew in place. There should be no raw edges visible, they should all be inside the apron.
  8. Top stitch along waistband and out along ties. 

05 February 2013

How you helped me learn to sew and made the world a nicer place

Today is all about reflecting on the things in our life that we are "Sew Grateful" for:

I learnt my way around a sewing machine at school- I did textiles as a GCSE, but we did more practical/home dec sewing than clothing sewing. I made a kids educational toy and a wall hanging storage thing with lots of different style of pockets. So I knew how to make the machine work, but the idea of sewing my own clothes was still alien.

As the years progressed there were lots of costume parties that maybe involved some refashioning, but then I was a bridesmaid for a friend and my contribution to the burlesque themed hen night was her outfit. I bought my first cheapo sewing machine, googled and googled, and decided we needed ruffle skirts.

My first real experience of the generosity of the sewing community - An awesome tutorial for making burlesque skirts, freely available to help novices like me. Some nice person (Becca K) had spent time putting together a tutorial. At the time I didn't realise how much work this must have involved. But I was grateful to have this guide to help me.

Buoyed up on this experience, I dabbled with some other projects to get my hand back in, like Made-By-Raes Buttercup bag and many pairs of PJs from the wonderful tutorials out there.

Time passed. 

Life moved on.

The Boy proposed :D
No... I didn't make a wedding dress.
But it did spur me on to make a dress-

For our fun and games engagement/residency/birthday party...
My first experience of darts and fitting and zips and facing.
All well explained by Elaine and the Burda technique pages.
And I haven't looked back.

So thanks to all of you for:

The resources that people put out there for free.
And the time they spend doing it.

The good work that you put your sewing to, like Project Linus or the money raised by Wonky Wilma.

The comments, criticisms, ideas and suggestions that are left on blogs, forums, flikr groups and Burdastyle.

The challenges and sewalongs that help us to push our boundaries.

The sewing-types that I've had the pleasure to get to know in real life. Its so nice to talk sewing with people who don't just look at you funny and raise eyebrows.

Helping me learn new skills and keeping my brain and my fingers busy!

04 February 2013

~*NOW CLOSED* ~Sew Grateful - Lets start with a giveaway!

Are you excited?

 Its time for Sew Grateful Week.

If you haven’t come across it before, the idea is over the week we show how grateful we are for the online sewing community.

 But I was scratching my head, wondering what to giveaway. I don't have a massive stash of anything, and lets face it- if I want to give them away, why would you want to receive them?! But I am grateful for the sewing community, so I'm giving away something I don't really want to give away. Remember I said I had some fabric left from the Pin-Up Aprons?


It could be yours. 

As far as I know its not available in Australia, so here is your chance to grab a little bit of tacky goodness!
You know you want it. Maybe a kinky lining for a bag or jacket, or wear it loud and proud on the outside.
There is just over half a meter up for grabs.

Also up for grabs are two lovely 1970s patterns-

All you need to do is be following the blog and leave a comment. 
Let me know that you've spread the word for an extra entry!
Closes midnight sunday (West Australian time).
Open to all. Make sure there is a way I can get in touch with you- either through your blog or leave an email address.

02 February 2013

I think its time to admit I have a problem...

My local Op-Shop sell fabric for $1 per piece, regardless of piece length.

Its getting bad.

Just today, I grabbed 4 remnants- the ones on the right. I only went in to see if they had any knitwear. The other four are recent purchases.

The rest is recent haul. The red is cotton stretch sateen, about 1.5m and really wide. I'm hoping to manage a princess seam dress from it. Because every girl needs a red dress, right?

The frogs are flannel, perfect for baby clothes or maybe some new me PJs. or both. There is plenty.

The pink with the roses was a steal, one of those moments where you feel you should force them to take more money... Its stretch sateen, >2.5m of it. I'm not sure if that dusky rose will suit me, but I'm willing to give it a try for a dollar. I did think I could maybe try dying to too, because I love those roses.

The green is aweome, but I have no idea what to do with it. I thought  it was silk, and from the results of the burn tests I'm nearly sure it is. But its lime green...

The flimsy synthetics I chose for their pretty large scale floral prints, especially the blue one. Its sooo pretty! I'm thinking the top from the colette book for them, to maximise the pretty print.

Do you have a place that makes it that bit too easy to add to the stash?
or how about an idea for what to use some of this fabric for?!

01 February 2013

Bits and Bobs

Quite a lot of sewing going on here.

For my Janet Dress, I've ended up using a princess seamed bodice pattern (B4443) rather than a darted dress so I could add the white contrast more easily. The real Janet dress has full length sleeves. But not in Perth in Summer!

The fabric was $4 a meter, so the whole fully lined dress will probably come in at less than $20. I still need to find a white cardigan though :S

I don't think I will be able to find the Boy a jacket for his Brad, though I did manage to find some pants and glasses at the Salvos that will be perfect. I bought some tan cotton sateen from Homecraft Textiles and also spotted the Colette Negroni pattern for half price, so bought that with hopes of using it to make the Boy a shirt for his birthday (he never wears shirts, but I fancy the challenge) and maybe using it to base the jacket from. It arrived super quick and looking very pretty:

I also finally got around to making the cushion for the basket chair in my little retreat. I've had the fabric for ever, and always planned to make it kind of crazy patchwork with some solid blue. That always seemed a little complex, so I never actually did it. Lucky I didn't, because I've since found that the solid blue fades really easily in the sun, while the print seems to be holding up quite well. It took about 2 hours all up, including 5 buttonholes down the back so I can wash it easily, and covering the HUGE button on the front.
Totally should have done it ages ago. It looks so much better than the duvet cover  it came with (off gumtree) or just throwing a blanket over!

And last but not least I sewed up the bag that came with "SEW" by Kath Kidson (a present from my MIL). I added a full lining in white poly-cotton poplin (the lining of the Janet dress) and a key strap because no matter how small a bag is I still always manage to lose my keys.

I quite like the look of it, and its a great size. The only downside is that I'm not really into the shabby-chic look so it goes with nothing in my wardrobe. I have some dinosaur canvas/cotton duck, maybe I will try another in that!