Friday, 28 February 2014

March-ing on with the Cover to Cover Challenge

February has just finished, and while it's a "short" month, there was no shortage of new projects added to the Little Things To Sew Cover to Cover Challenge Flickr pool. We've also welcomed a few new competitors and now have 52 of us who have contributed photos to the Flickr pool and a total of 342 photos as I type.

For my part, I couldn't let the recent birthday pass with only one item from the book sewn. My parents were planning on giving A a watercolour paint set for her birthday and so I made an Art Smock for them to wrap with it. My mother in law wasn't in on the sideways gifting and was very complimentary about the smock without knowing I'd made it. I think she even tried showing me the seam finishes before I had to spill the beans!

But seriously, the seam finishes are divine. I would never have thought an Art Smock required French seams but now I can't imagine not doing it. Even better, I now know where I have a handy, written reference for how to do French seams without having to search for the Oliver + S blog tutorial.

Inspired by my tidy seams I even changed out the thread colour when I sewed the neckline:

While I don't expect anyone would ever notice that kind of detail, it makes me happy knowing it's there.

It also makes me super happy to see everyone sewing little projects. Perhaps you would have anyway, or perhaps you chose to make something just to tick it off.
Just look at all the ticks on the scoreboard! Link to PDF here in case the preview is too small to read.

I added a tally at the bottom of each pattern. Not surprisingly the Reversible Bucket Hat is the most sewn, closely followed by a tie between the Tutu and the Mittens.

Obviously, we're going to have our first finisher cross the line pretty soon (20 projects down and only a Travel Quilt to go for mama_knowles03), but for the rest of us there's still 6 months of sewing to go. Every project counts! Happy sewing one and all.

P.S. Here's the link if you want to learn how to embed PDF's in a blog post using Google. Or rather, there's the link for me when I forget how to do it again next month!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

For the love of bicycles.

If you haven't guessed already, I really like bicycles. This one is perhaps my very favourite. (any other bicycle nuts might be able to guess what it is!)

Anyway, today I'm over at the ByK website talking about how awesome bicycles are for kids and families and for mum's who just want to get away from their kids and families for a few hours! Come over and share the bicycle love, or if you're not fond of bicycles come for a sticky beak as I share myself a bit more than usual!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Secret Valentine Exchange - Happily receiving!

After a not unexpected balls-up from our local postal delivery service I received my Secret Valentine gift yesterday.

I took the kids from the Post office to a coffee shop and while I was ordering they "unwrapped" my present for me. The wrapping was divine and thankfully Suzy from Floating World  had taken a picture for the Flickr group in it's pristine state.

Inside was the loveliest zippered pouch and an apple pincushion.

I popped them on a shelf to take some pictures and immediately the Bookshelf hens came over to look.....

That apple really does look delicious!

I realised that I hadn't made things easy for my Secret valentine as I am deliberately vague about who I am, what I like and so on. I'm afraid she wouldn't have found any insight into me by looking at my "about me" tab on the blog or any other way really. I may never work out the balance between privacy and sharing. I guess I hope the occasional snippet lets the regular blog visitors feel like friends (and you are!) but keeps the weirdos from learning too much too easily.

I had said that I liked Grey and Brown and "doing things". Not overly helpful of me, but Suzy made me the most gorgeous gift. There's every shade of earthy, murky green, grey and brown that I love and I confess my pins go from garment to pin packet, often via being dropped on the floor and my sewing notions are largely in a plastic shopping bag. Not only do I love this gift I obviously needed it too!

Thanks again Suzy, and happy (belated) Valentine's Day to everyone (except maybe the local parcel delivery guy)

Sunday, 16 February 2014

here's to turning three!

There aren't many birthday's in your life when your mum can convince you to wear a fabric party hat made of leftover scraps! Here's to 3 year olds! hip hip hooray!

Two 3 year old thumbs up for the twirl factor, but two 3 year old thumbs down on the colour. I've never seen any ambivalence of attitude in a 3 year old. So on this dress, we'll swing from love to hate depending on the mood. That's the roller coaster we ride at our house. Here's to 3 year olds! sigh, sigh, hooray!

But in typical 3 year old just-starting-to -work-out-empathy style I am reassured that "Tinkerbell really likes her new dress, mum. She's delighted with it" Thanks darling. Happy birthday.

Hip hip hooray details:
A wears: Oliver + S Pinwheel Dress and Tunic, size 3 and fabric party hat from a Japanese magazine. (nightmare to turn inside out. Assuming that's what I was meant to do....)
Tinkerbell wears: Little Things To Sew tea Party Doll Dress
Fabric requirement for all: 1.5m

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Secret Valentine Exchange - the giving part

I was excited to put my name on the list and join in with Sanae and Ute's Secret Valentine Exchange. Making something for someone else is always such a buzz. Doing it amongst a group of fellow sewers, who are also in a way strangers to me is, somehow, even better.

There was a bit of trepidation too, as I was away on holiday for one week which cut into my making time, and what if I had to post something to a far flung country. It could have been tight....

But then my recipient turns out to live close enough that I could have ridden my bike over and hand delivered my gift! Love that!

The information I received was that my gift recipient's favourite colour was blue, specifically aqua. She liked floral patterns and polka dots. There was some references to named fabrics which went over my head, but perhaps which I should have paid more attention to. Her name is Ros and she blogs at Sew Delicious.

I was keen to try and stick to the idea of using only what I had to hand, so I went hunting through my fabric stash and found a fabric that was flowery, had blue bits AND polka dots. It's a gauze that I'd used previously for a Japanese skort pattern (sorry Ros, you did get remnants ;) )

It seemed perfect for a scarf and when I saw Ros' blog profile photo where she is wearing, you guessed it, a scarf, I felt quite delighted!

My inspiration was this Japanese cross stitch magazine with a beautiful embroidered gauze scarf on the cover:

Total lack of skills aside, I couldn't do exactly that as my fabric already had a pattern on it (phew). So I did some chain stitch to outline, and then satin stitch to fill in some of the blue floral pattern on my gauze.
Then I set to with the seam ripper and "fringed" each end of two layers of gauze before sewing them together into a tube. Then I tied the ends closed every cm or so across the fringe. Voila, a scarf!
I was pleasantly surprised at how easily the fabric fringed. I'd been worried about the embroidered dots but they peeled off almost intact and I found myself smiling at my little pile of dismantled dots.
So, I finished with some time to spare and in order to stop myself overdoing (or potentially wrecking) my scarf I wrapped it. Then I spent a bit of time "getting to know" my Valentine through her blog. And here's where my confidence started to wobble..... Those fabric references were quilting cottons. Something I know very little about but she obviously uses and likes a lot. Everything looked technically perfect, useful, bright... My flimsy, beige (with only a tiny bit of blue really) scarf was starting to worry me.
Still, what's a blind date without an awkward spot in the middle. In my own head I was starting to make my Valentine's date feel that way. So I did what I'm inclined to do when it comes to gift giving and give something that I like. Anyway, the internet could cover up any uncomfortable moments when it came to unwrapping. We can all make "that's nice dear" sound better if we think about it awhile before we type.
I also found the tiniest scraps of aqua, polka dotted quilting cotton (yep the real stuff!) and made some little flowers for the wrapping.
The flower tutorial can be found here.
I'm happy to say Ros has received her gift and has been very flattering. Which makes her either genuinely pleased or a really good Valentine's date, or maybe both!
If you want to bask in the warmth of some crafty gift swapping love then check out the Secret Valentine Exchange Flickr pool
I'll be sure to share my joy when the postman delivers me some luvin'. Happy Valentine's Day everyone.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Pattern Hoarding and Hanging With My Stalker


Last Thursday I had the delightful experience of hanging out with my stalker for a morning. You'd think having a stalker would be a downside of using the internet, but not this stalker, she's just lovely.
She first contacted me in person when she was on holiday and was thinking about me. Weird you might think. but no, not really. She was in a shop that sold Japanese Pattern Books and spied one that she owned and that I'd left a comment on her blog saying how great the coat was that she made. So she bought me a book.
And then I forget what order the rest happened in... It went roughly like this: I sent some money for the book and some spare fabric, she sent some other fabric back in return, then she flew in from overseas to be with me (he he) and bought me a coffee and a chocolate croissant. We got along famously but not being the instagramm-ey types there are no photos. If you need a visual, try this one. (it's only wrong by one letter!)

Except for the fact that she doesn't care for bicycling and kept tossing her hair around and drawing far too much attention on the street it could have been a perfect match! Seriously though, it was a great blind date and we visited a few fabric and button shops and talked about sewing as well as world affairs. What a morning! Thanks J.

Putting the pattern book she bought me on the shelf I realised how many new, untouched patterns I have, so I took some pictures. I'd love to try ticking off a few of them this year.

pattern book from J-Wo on left
Still on the Japanese theme I bought another Cross Stitch magazine from my local Japanese Second Hand bookstore. As well as cross stitch designs (which I've never tried) there are some basic bag and top patterns in there and so many pretty pictures. My Secret Valentine gift which I'll share later this week was inspired by one of these magazines.

There's a decent pile of Oliver + S patterns which I'm yet to open or use in any way...

And some grown up size Lisette patterns which I might put to use for me....

And some patterns which, if I can make anything that's "any good", might be useful for Flipper. these are the newly released paper patterns versions of the PDF patterns from Thread Theory. They are beautifully presented and I'm looking forward to sewing with them. Just reading the instructions is a joy!

I couldn't help myself when The Fabric Stash had a sale recently and added a Figgy's pattern to my order (there's currently 20% off so go check it out - use coupon code fabric-stash 20). The awesome Janice from The Fabric Stash is our sponsor for the Little Things To Sew Cover to Cover Challenge and her shop is so well run. I'm always hesitant to fill a shopping cart with lovely stuff, go through pages of personal information then discover the shipping prices are astronomical. Not so with this site. The prices are great and the shipping calculation is done at the start. As a mail order shopper I LOVE that.

I finally managed to make a rafflecopter widget work for me (am I the only one who struggles with those not loading or losing my entry?) and I got lucky! I won the Clever Charlotte pattern through Frances Suzanne and their Flip this Pattern series.

Finally I armed myself with a new pack of paper and a glue stick and printed off my digital patterns:

There is no cost effective way of printing these things in this country (that I've found at least) so it was A4 paper and lots of trimming and glueing. The patterns all came together well, and if you're worried about how you'd amuse your kids while you do this. Here's the answer: let them join in using up the offcuts

it's the Emerald City in case you were wondering
Just make sure you have a spare glue stick otherwise you'll end up sticking that last PDF pattern together like this:

So, that lot should keep me busy. At least until the next distraction or coffee blogging date comes around! What are you working on?

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

LTTS Cover to Cover Challenge: A PDF scorecard and testing my blogging upload skills....

How's that? you might need your magnifying glass, or maybe you'll immediately know how to click on a pdf and manipulate it.  My Excel skills are very rusty so that little table took a while, but then so did all your magnificent sewing! Here's a link to the uploaded file so you can see it better and even leave a comment if I've mucked anything up.

My little girl turns three soon so I'm planning a Tea Party Doll Dress from the Little Things To Sew book to match a Pinwheel Dress that I'll make her. Pattern stash busting, another project underway and hopefully a happy kid.
At least the first two are guaranteed, I may have to rely on grandparents again for the happy birthday girl outcome!

Thanks for sewing along, just over 6 months to go!

Monday, 3 February 2014

School sewing

I was never going to sew school uniforms but when I took P to buy his uniform and he tried on the pants I did my best to stifle my giggles. He wasn't meant to be going to clown school! We bought some polo shirts, the bag, school hat and then left and went straight to Spotlight.

For about the same price as two of their baggy track pants I bought some fleece for winter tracksuit pants, some navy drill for shorts and trousers and some athletic knit for sports shorts.

Then I went on a navy sewing bender in January.

You've already seen the Art Museum pants I made as part of his "good" outfit.

For another pair of long trousers I revived my pattern mash pants and made another pair with a bit extra length. Those Kenzo jeans are already looking a bit short. He's a weed I tell you!

I threw on some topstitching and so these pants have a bit more of a casual feel than the Art Museum trousers.

For hotter weather, and gee have we had some, there are two pairs of Sketchbook shorts.

Finally , the sporty shorts were made using the Nature Walk pattern (did you guess it would be another Oliver + S?)

If I'm ever asked to pick a favourite from the Oliver + S patterns (hint hint) this could be it. The pants are such a quick sew and have the cutest backside fit of any kids trackpants I've ever seen, while the top is much more involved and gives you that "gee I'm clever" feeling that Oliver + S is famous for. Mostly though I love this pattern for all the costumes and variations it's spawned. Seriously, from Michael Jackson, Octonauts, Pirates, Evel Knievel, Robots and Mermaids the Nature Walk has been the basis of them all. Best pattern to play with ever (Flickr search for you)

Today was his first day of Prep and he woke up super early, super excited, dressed himself and then couldn't wait to get going! He literally sang the whole bike ride to school (and back again!)

I added some cotton twill tape labels to make his pants identifiable (should any school activities involve removing, then losing them)

I thought I was superbly prepared; 4 pairs shorts, 2 pairs long pants, all sewn up and labelled. School hat and bag labelled. Lunch made. At least until I got to school and realised I forgot about his teacher interview last week. Ah well, at least I've started the school year as I shall probably continue (bad mummy)