Thursday, 27 February 2014

Vintage Yellow

Warning... picture heavy post...

Recently my Grandmother found a dress my mum had worn in the 1950s.  It is a gorgeous yellow with smocking.  It has a label to show that it was purchased but the workmanship looks so much more personal than we have now.

The dress itself was originally worn with a petticoat but we don't have that part anymore, so I needed to make a new one.

I purchased some very fine cotton from Spotlight and adapted the Oliver + S 'Music Box Jumper' pattern.  The hem is extra wide so that I can take it down when the outer dress fits no more and K can enjoy it as a nightgown.  The back of the skirt is seamed up to about 3" below the waistband, similar to the O+S 'Bubble Dress'.

I'm counting this as O+S number 76!
It also counts towards a very happy girl!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

More Practical Things

I am a practical person.  I am also a crafter who loves to create interesting, decorative and unique items - but I like to make practical things.

So I'm going to share two recent projects that are very practical - and will be well used.

Firstly - my new swimsuit.  I am no Sports Illustrated Model (though my H has found this amusing) so no 'live action' pics here...

I had used the same pattern about ten years ago to make my previous suit and they'd worked well for being in the pool with a child while still being somewhat flattering.  It is Kwik Sew 2868.  I made both the top and pants longer than the pattern specified.

The fabric I used is specialist swimwear fabric I found at a local fabric shop.  It is also very thick, with black and orange layers bonded together.  It's super strong!  I set up my overlocker (serger) with four threads and my sewing machine with twin needles for stretch and my walking foot.  It sewed fine.

While I had my machines set up for knits I started making some undies for K and I.  Now I've made us some both before and they were so successful it was a no-brainer to try again.

For K I re-used the 'That Darn Kat' pattern to make these from my stash of cotton lycra.

The blue stripe fabric was from an old top of mine. 

The hens on this green fabric are stamped on with 'Versacraft' ink and het set by my iron - I haven't done this before so will be interested how well the chickens last.

I also made myself some using a pattern I have developed over the last year.  I have tried a variety of cotton/lycra knickers and non have really impressed me - but these are the best! 
The front has a double thickness that could be made with any knit fabric inside.  They are completely made on the overlocker and the sewing is easy - the trickiest bit is pinning on the bands.

I'd love to share this pattern - and maybe trial making some different sizes.  If you are interested in trying some yourself now (in my size only at present) please email me at: '' and I'll get a digital pattern to you.  I am still using a cardboard template so will need to do some work to create even a simple digital pattern.  I make them in a medium(ish) size with my hip measurement at 39" (99cm).

Simple... a little bit creative... but very practical!

Monday, 17 February 2014

More for Me

I've been wanting to make a skirt - so I took the gamble with the Liesl+Co 'Everyday Skirt' recently.  I was not optimistic about how a gathered skirt would look on my body shape so please understand that I have put these photos here for the sake of my craft - not as a form of flattery.

The fabric is a very thin brown 'slubby' cotton that I found in my stash and could have been there for 10+ years.  It was so thin that I needed to line it.  This was not an easy task, considering how the skirt is constructed, but it ignoring a couple of little gaps in the side seams, it works.

The pattern was great to follow and fun to sew.  I did have to follow Liesl's advice and wait until the garment was finished before passing judgement - it did look slightly odd mid-way.

The lining makes it a super comfy skirt to wear and it is nice to have room for movement - especially on hot summer days.  Size wise - I made the medium but used a longer waistband to cover my stomach.  I don't think I'd need to do this next time as the skirt size really depends on the hip width only.

I would, probably, make this again.  It would depend on the fabric, as I'd like a balance between drape and weight.  I'm not going to wear it when 'going to town' but it will do for local trips and days at home.

Saturday, 15 February 2014


Last night I finished my first knitting project for winter 2014.

It all started with the yarn - a gorgeous 4ply 100% merino dyed by Doe Arnot and purchased last spring at the Oamaru Textile Emporium.  I didn't spy the yarn on my first browse through the shop and it wasn't until I had a better look that I found it.

I love the green and how it contrasts with various shades of grey. 

I chose the pattern 'Quoits' by Vintage Purls.  It was great fun to knit and I would love to make another one sometimes.  My cowl did end up longer than I had hoped so next time I would cast on a lot less stitches and plan to knit more repeats of the pattern.  It is not as snug around the neck as I would prefer.

Not quite the coldest weather for modelling a woolly cowl - but at least I'll be prepared for winter!  My next plan is to knit a swatch to make myself a cardigan - the first time in several years that I have attempted such a large project for myself.

Details of 'Quoits' on my Ravelry project page.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Scout and Iris

I've been busy doing some sewing for myself.

This is the 'Scout' top by Grainline Studio and the 'Iris' shorts by Colette Patterns.

I made the top from some fabric I got from the offcuts basket at the Chalkydigits warehouse sale.  It is a very fine cotton voile and I think I paid $5 for about a metre.  Chalkydigits is a Christchurch based clothing label that produces beautiful garments, made locally and using stunning fabric.  I have been lucky enough to pick up a variety of their remnants and have many more home-sewn garments planned.
No - that isn't a wet patch!

I sewed the voile using french seams and although I made a muslin first I am not quite satisfied with the fitting, especially the line of the seams.  This should be quite easy to fix and I'll do so soon.  I also have to wear a slip underneath the 'Scout' because is so see-through. 
The shorts are made in a grey stretch twill.  I made a muslin first for these as well - and I am not perfectly happy with their fit either.  The invisible zip was a new adventure for me, as although I have been sewing for years I've managed to avoid them.  The Colette pattern had no instructions for this kind of zipper and you were advised to go to their website - but I got out my Oliver + S pattern for the 'Fairy Tale Dress' and used Liesl's awesome directions instead.  I must have damaged my zipper in the process and after having a bit of trouble with it I'm planning to finish my next one below the waistband and add a tab above.  I think that would suit my body shape better anyway.

These photos were taken on a gorgeous day out by our apple trees.  I've been playing with the self-timer, needless to say it took a while to get good photos!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Be My Buttercup

Sometimes I think I am on another planet to most other people - and yesterday when I discovered the 'Buttercup Bag' by Rae Hoekstra I was quite certain of it.  I found hundreds of beautiful examples of this bag which is possibly also due to it being a free download that was first published five years ago!  The other bonus of this pattern is that you can make it out of two fat quarters (yard).  One for the outer and one for the lining.

So last night I cut out, and this morning I sewed together my own buttercup bag.  I used some essex linen in 'pewter' (again) and a small floral print from 'The Ladies Stitching Club' by Liesl Gibson.

It is a great pattern - simple and stylish.  There is room for interpretation, I added some faux piping.  I also interfaced the lining and fused thin pellon to the outer and strap.  I also sewed the strap into the top seam, leaving about 1/2" of the strap hanging inside the seam.  I've found with previous bags that this makes the handle stronger.

Next time I might make it an inch or so longer and add a zip.  There are some alterations written about here.

I photographed my bag on my oak china cabinet - inherited from my Nan - and the tins behind are from the Robert Gordon 'Liberty' range from Australia.  I love the china in this collection!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

A Little Bit of Whimsy

I'm quite fascinated by mini quilts.  You may have noticed that by my postings, click on the label to the right ('mini') to see small samples of my work.  I think I have always wanted to make them, especially as they are such a good way to develop skills (think Sarah Fielke's book 'Quilting from Little Things'), but the current buzz with Camille Roskelley's mini patterns has me infatuated.  Her work is just so delicious that I'm contemplating a wall like the one she has here.

Last year I adapted my copy of Thimbleblossom's 'Swoon' pattern to make a slightly smaller block that was suitable as a cushion.
Sorry - repeated image - click on it to go to that posting

That was so successful I decided recently to have a go at making my own mini version of  'On a Whim'.

The fabric is from Sarah Fielke's 'On the Pond' range available at Spotlight.  I'm not that excited by it, but the small size print is great for a mini quilt.  The green is Kona 'pear'.

The quilt itself is only 12" wide and I have placed my rotary cutter beside it to compare - it is a 45mm one!  Each block is 6" wide and it took a few attempts to work out the sizings for the triangles and squares on point - but I did it!

I quilted it with a small stipple that was completely free-hand.

K and her dolls are going to have fun with this one too.  Maybe we could act out 'The Princess and the Pea' but with quilts rather than mattresses.  :-)

I have a number of selfish sewing projects on the go and need to share those too... soon I promise myself!

I'm planning to link up with 'Finish it up Friday' at Crazy Mom Quilts again.  See you there!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Garden Growth

The weathers been anything between cool to hot so I've been working on some small projects inside and trying to tidy up my garden outside.  Although both places have a never ending list of jobs to do...

So for a quick garden update here are some pics of my paddock garden...

This is my tomato set-up.  I do grow a number of other tomato plants in my glasshouse as well as up stakes - but these are my determinate (or bush) varieties that I let spread out.  I have 'Roma', 'Scoresby Dwarf', 'Principe Borghese', 'Silvery Fir Tree', 'Oregon Spring' and 'Campbells' (most from Bristols).  The last two I haven't grown before - and I get a bit over-excited when ordering from seed companies.  I haven't had many tomatoes yet as summer has been very stop-start and I think I applied nitrogen rich fertiliser rather than a fruit-forming mix.  Oops!

The fibreglass stakes are held into the ground by small wooden posts and a wooden block with holes in it acts as a join at the top.  The net then goes over easily.

 This is my corn patch - we love corn.  I've grown plenty as we never seem to have enough and the chickens will guzzle extras.  The beet at the front is for the chickens as well, it is very holey!

I've grown a patch of sunflowers to bring back my memories of travelling in Provence - and because K loves them.  They are from a mixture of seeds, planted in two sessions, hence the smaller ones at the front.
My garlic has been a bit disappointing - this picture is of K's hand holding it close to the camera.  I looked after them so well so will go back to the drawing board for my next attempt.  Lucky I planted about 150 cloves!

A yummy pumpkin growing.  I always plant 'Crown Hybrid' and get great tasting fruit.  I've tried some 'Confection F1' this year (from Kings) but they don't look as good.  We'll see what they taste like.
And our chicken tally is growing!  Red Hampshire One hatched out her second brood last Friday and she improved on the one (Little Blue the Cochin) to produce eleven chicks.  They are a Red Hampshire/White Rock mix as the breeder had let his roosters out, but all look very cute.  She's a great mum and we spend lots of time just watching them all.  We've had a shuffle around with coops, brought in the lamb shed as a temporary one and have quite the young mums' group going on.
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