Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sewing for me. The green dress.

Ok. ..so I've downloaded an app for blogger to my mobile. ..but am open to suggestions if anyone else has any bright ideas!
Once again our home computer, or, more accurately our Internet connection,  hinders my blogging ability- which causes me no end of frustration-either no service,  slow service with occasional normal service.  Big Pond remain our only service provider option.
But now straight to the sewing.
In October last year I did a pattern drafting short course at the local TAFE. I loved it.  I came out of it with a block pattern made from my measures for a dress,  pants and sleeve.  It has made sewing for me so much more fun- I feel like I've found my style of sewing.  I've got the basic shape as a springboard to many patterns and designs- with less instructions than a commercial pattern, which I don't mind (assuming I have good basic sewing reference texts around me).
Lara (don't know how to link on mobile yet) brought a dress to sewjourn last year that I loved,  a Marie Tilton Vogue pattern which isn't yet available in Australia-so I couldn't get it in the larger size range. I looked at Lara's and used my block pattern to create my version, which I wore to a wedding on the weekend.
It's made me feel like the world is my oyster in terms of clothes potentially available to me- assuming I can find fabric I love and keep developing my sewing skills. I've made two simple knee length A line skirts which I have been living in.  I'm loving wearing clothes that feel 'true to me', it makes me happy!
I need more practice with sleeves, but feel okay about leaping in and practicing. I have felt quite obsessed with thinking about what I'm going to sew, designing stuff in my head.
Nice to have my sewing passion directed to benefit me! I've mostly sewn for kids in the past!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Dress up day

I've always been keen on a bit of a dress up day...
I was 10 in this photo (left) and I remember being so excited making this hat for the 'Easter bonnet parade' out of polystyrene blocks, crepe paper and spray paint! 
(I'm sure high waisted velour school jumpers were fashionable back then...I wonder if this was about the same time my mother discovered sewing with stretch fabrics!)

The photo on the right (above) was a high school social, the theme was 'Nursery Rhymes'. Dad helped me construct a paper maiche Humpty dumpty- it involved chicken wire and lots of newspaper. After it was created, we realised it was too big to fit in the car so he took me into town (we lived on a farm) with the costume in the trailer! The social (school dance/disco) was at the local town hall and whoever was on the door went 'whoa' and had to open up the double doors so I could fit through.

Others characters I remember being are Jake the Peg (this involved a purple dressing gown and a broom with a stuffed sock over it) and Pippi Longstocking.

And more recently I was a bee from the bee movie for my girlfriends 'movie' themed 40th...

To date, I've been a bit disappointed that my children don't seen to have that 'dress up' gene. On the odd occasion there have been dress up days, I have asked my daughter what she'd like to go as (with a 'I'll make you any costume you want!)- she has generally responded with 'a girl'!

Imagine my delight when my Year 7 boy came home recently  and said 'we have to dress up as something starting with M and I want to go as a magician'...followed by 'could you make me a black cape with a shiny red inside?'
Why yes, I could, and I have been just waiting to be asked.
So, I consulted the big guns- a book I loved to pore over as a child...yep, Enid Gilchrist- it's obviously been well loved!

on a side note- she's still 'on trend' with these 'onesies'!

The result was a cape that my boy thought was 'awesome'. I also stayed up far too late making the top hat- next time I plan to share the 'making'! Mr Apple got involved my coming up with the wand (tomato stake, with liquid paper on the tip!)

When he got home, he reported that most of the other kids said that were "Me" and just had an out of uniform day. I asked if he thought next time he would dress up he thought no, he wouldn't bother! 
He did proceed to stay in his outfit for several hours, I take heart in that!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Quilting love

When I make someone a quilt, I think of them as I sew, I hold them in my heart. 
It's quite a considered thing for me, to make someone a quilt. I tell people 'you don't get one if you ask' (is that mean?). 
As odd as this might sound, I kind of have to feel 'stirred' to make a quilt for someone. I'm not sure why, it's often pretty simple sewing that I do, straight lines. A fair investment in time, but generally not complex sewing. 

If I am making a baby a quilt, I often don't like to start until the baby has been born, or better still until I have met the baby. I definitely wouldn't finish a baby quilt without meeting that baby.

I wonder if it's because with my quilts, I send 'the best good wishes', in good situations, and in difficult situations- you know those "I wish I had a magic wand to make this situation better" kind of things (but I don't so I have made you a quilt to swaddle yourself in, to wrap yourself up in and know that you are loved and cared for and held). They are very personal.

This is a quilt (sorry about the poor quality photos) that I recently made for a dear friend, it felt like the only thing I could do.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Last November, at craft camp...

More sewing I did ages ago but which has only just been 'grown into to'- it's much nicer to show you photos with Little Miss A modelling them.

This is another Ottobre pattern- from the 4/2011 edition, design number 6. There is a dress version as well.
It was really easy to sew up, not many pieces and some feature shirring around the neckline- I love shirring! 

I made these at Sewjourn last November- maybe next year I will show you what I made at Sewjourn in May!
I remember I didn't know if I was getting a niece or a nephew at that stage- now we have this lovely girl in our lives.  Also, with this pattern, I got to play with my friend's fun and fancy snap press gizmo to make nappy access easy along the inner leg seam. 

Oh- and on a totally different topic- if you have a good internet connection, and you take it for granted, please take a moment today to appreciate it, on my behalf! I love blogging and would love to do it more, but when I get to my computer, stuff around with our slow and inconsistent internet trying to upload photos...well, it causes me much frustration and grumpiness- which makes it not as fun as it could be! One day we might get broadband here...in the meantime, I suspect I will continue with my irregular updates!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Some sewing

After doing a quick flick through my most recent posts (and by recent, I am using the term rather broadly!) I realised that not enough of my sewing is making it onto here, and you may be forgiven for thinking I like the garden more than the craft room.
In December we were lucky enough to have this little one join our family. How fun to have a new niece to sew for.

I made her this top- I'd forgotten how little babies are and I was misguided in thinking it might fit her for Christmas...this is several months later. It's an Ottobre pattern which I have used before and really like...can't quite remember which issue (edited to add- it's 1/2009, design 7)- but if you want to know leave a comment and I will hunt it out.

And here's the quilt I made her. 
I had 'instructions' so was slightly nervous that it wouldn't be what was hoped for. 

I also realised that I'd be a crap artist if I had to do commission pieces for a living!
Below is the back. Hmm, could've made an effort with the iron, couldn't I!

 The thing I like most about this quilt is the ruffle- I was playing with my new ruffler foot.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Around the grounds

I have been doing sewing, but I haven't had my camera out in the sewing department. I have however, had a bit of a walk around the garden with my camera so I can give you a colourful update about what's going on there...

How delightful and unusual for us to still have several sunflowers in our garden on the 3rd day of Winter. It's such a treat- these self seeded and I remember thinking "there's no way they will flower, but I am not pulling them out- just in case". Hooray for just in case!

In the past few days this tress has totally lost it's leaves- so now it's a leafless deciduous tree with a whole lot of bright, big orange persimmons on it. Also good on the 'cheer up factor' for the winter garden. The chooks are loving sharing the persimmon fruit this year- it makes me smile to watch them jump surprisingly high to peck at a soft one.
Several of our pomegranates have split this year. I'll need to keep an eye on them to make sure they aren't going mouldy or anything- in the meantime, the split ones are fun because various members of the family pinch a few seeds every time they walk past (again, including the chooks). I like doing that because it feels really healthy- like I am eating 'living food'. I had a go at making pomegranate molasses. Not sure what I'll use it for yet, but it looks amazing, deep red and quite thick. I juiced four pomegranates and added a bit of sugar and then reduced it over a few hours. The yield was less that 100 mils (because I wanted it syrupy)- so it's waiting for a pretty special occasion! 
The crab apples remain on the tree. They are on my 'to do' list. I'm keen to make crab apple jelly...there's a few other things on my list before I get there though.
We have had a bumper crop of all our brassicas this year. Above is the kale going crazy, below is at least 10 cabbages which I made into sauerkraut shortly after the photo was taken. I am having a bit of 'fad' for sauerkraut at the moment. Maybe it's my exchange student roots, or just wishing I was in Europe right now!

I love the idea of eating seasonally, I love growing our own food, but I tell you what, I have had my fill of cauliflowers and broccoli and trying to be creative with serving it...the ridiculous thing is, as soon as it's gone, I will quickly forget the overdose and have a bit of a hankering for it- just because it's no longer there.
Happy Winter.

Monday, February 4, 2013


This post is inspired by Thimbleanna, who showed us her new quilt recently- after  playing in the snow taking photos of it...

over this side of the world, this is how powerful our sun has been...
 Dried apricots- picked off the tree, cut in half and left out in the sun to dehydrate for a couple of days

same goes for our white peaches
and these were the surprise package of the season, dried cherries. We haven't done them before, they didn't take as long to dry and they are amazing- intense little mouthfuls of flavour. We will definitely do these next year.

Mr. Apple did most of these (I claim credit for the cherries!) , he's great at preserving. He cut the fruit in half, literally left it on our picnic table outside- no netting, nothing. In other years we have had birds have a bit of a go at the fruit as it was drying, but not this year. Ants weren't a problem either- maybe 8 days over 40 degrees (104 F) was too hot for the pests as well as me!
The apricots are quite a brown colour, not that pretty. Commerical dried apricots have sulphur and other things on them to keep their lovely orange colour, we choose not to do that- they might not look that pretty but the flavour is all there! These will be used in baking and school lunches and I reckon we have done enough to last until next season.
Now it's all about nectarines and plums and the last of the peaches at our place. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Summer days

I mentioned we went to the beach over Summer. Gee I loved swimming in the ocean. Both the kids have been in the water today, it's hot again, but a pool, while lovely on a hot day, just isn't ever going to be quite the same.
I thought a nice beach bag was a missing element on our beach excursions...so when we got home I set to making one. Having grown in confidence thanks to my favourite bag lady , I decided to have a play with the shape and size, and came up with this.

I really like the shape, the photo isn't that clear (no photography awards coming my way). It's the first time I have sewn with this 'oilcloth' stuff (which I am pretty sure I bought from Crafty Mamas a few years ago (hooray for stash busting!). I sewed with a silicone foot, it's the first time I've used that foot too- I thought it may be trickier to work with than it was- no dramas at all. I decided to line it in oilcloth as well, because well, it is a 'bathers bag'. To reduce bulk (and make it easier!) I just sewed bias binding to neaten the top up rather the sew and do the 'turn inside out through a small opening manoeuvre'. When I decided to do this I had a moment of wondering where to put the straps- so I added a bit between the zip and the edge of the bag (the white and red dot bit), I really like how it 'peeks out' and changes the shape of the bag. It may not be great structurally- I will reserve judgement and see how it wears, for now, it's just fine!

And because it was already kind of 'matchy matchy' I went the whole hog and made a smaller bag to match which might carry sunscreen, hairbrushes, lip balm, or maybe the camera.

I was rather chuffed with my efforts and then one of my girlfriends said 'it kind of looks like one of those bags you get at those cheap shops'...and I was slightly indignant and now am unsure!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

It would be so nice...if we took a holiday

I love school holidays. Actually, I love not having to be organised with school lunches as much as I love just having the kids home kicking around. My kids make their own lunches but I try really hard to have good things for them to choose from to put in their bags, but gee, home lunches (particularly the 'get it yourself' variety) are so much easier! One kid is gluten free, nut free...so that presents it's challenges (interestingly, there are generally less complaints about lunch options from that direction!).

Next Tuesday we will be sending the eldest off to HIgh School. It feels like a big thing to me. Eldest child appears excited..there will be about 120 students in year 7 and I think there are 4 others from his school. He seems to be keen on meeting people and making new friends, so good on him. Fun thing is graduating from the black tracky dacks and faded polo shirt uniform to a  rather smart one that involves lace up school shoes rather than sneakers and shorts and shirt made out of a woven rather than a stretch fabric. Ask me again in a few weeks...it may well turn out to be the first thing in this household that requires regular ironing...maybe my sewing room will no longer get sole use of the iron!

We've played a fair bit of Cluedo over the break...to the point where now I say 'anyone for a game?' and everyone else says 'not Cluedo!'- terrible shame I think because that is one 'family game' I haven't seemed to tire of. I haven't got much time for Monopoly, Yahtzee I can play a few,  but Cluedo? Well, was it Miss Scarlett...was it in the kitchen- you'll have to play to find out! I'm keen on suggestions- what are your favourite board games?

We had our longest ever time away as a family, ten days- very do-able, in fact, I could have stayed longer (I did take my sewing machine and even sewed a dress for me- which I'll have to get off the line for a photo because I've been enjoying wearing it). After nearly a week over 40 degrees, it was so nice just to get a break from the hot, dry climate we live in. We swam in the ocean most days, enjoyed the salty air and each others company (most of the time!).

Each school holidays, we try to have sort of 'kid dates'- so I have time with each child by themselves, and so does their dad. So, I have a 'girls times' and 'mums and sons' time. 

Because our nearest town is 20km away, and doesn't have any kind of cafe other than the bakery that shuts at 5.30pm, I thought it would be fun if 'girls time' involved a cafe and some hot chocolate after dinner- novelty factors all round- cafe close by, staying up late, going out after dinner.

The 10 year old was keen on this suggestion so out we went (she was keener on ice cream than hot chocolate) and when we sat down she said "So, what are we going to DO?"...umm, come out to a cafe for dessert?...she looked confused and a bit ripped off 'but that's not DOING anything...that's just eating...that's a boring girls time"! Fair enough, gosh, it's a long while since I've been 10- I thought it would be a fun surprise...
"well, if you want to do something...we could go to the carnival and go on a ride together". She was very keen on that idea and got all a bit 'let's go now-ish' (gee, I hope she learns to appreciate the post dinner cafe visit, because I'm keen on that idea...oh, really? the intention of girls time might not be all about me? Ahh, well!)

So off we go to the carnival and she was eyeing off the 'Pirate Ship'. I remember going on the Pirate Ship with my mum when I was a few years older than my girl is now...she hated it, I remember saying things like 'I do not understand how you can hate that ride...it's just like a big swing'. So, I thought, oh, why not. In case anyone is curious, it's not just like a big swing- and I am not so much a thrill seeker at 40 as I was at 14. I didn't like it at all- but pretended to be 'all cool' because at one stage my girl looked at me with eyes wide and said 'Mum, I hate this' so we proceeded to talk about her favourite ice cream flavours while I was thinking 'surely this must end soon'. She happily reported back to her brother that the Pirate Ship was fun, but there was just this one bit she didn't like...I would question the accuracy of that report. My friend Tan (hello Tan, yep, I'm here, and okay, have got your phone messages, hope we get to talk soon) will remember sitting next to that same child on the Scenic Railway (which I didn't know was built in 1911 and was the oldest continually operating roller coaster in the world when I went on it...but we did talk about the structure!)...that also wasn't a particularly thrilling thrill seeking ride. 

and in case the title of this post has left you with an ear worm...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Surprise come back post!

Oh, hi. 
Or as my friend (blogless) Cath says when I see or talk to her (far too infrequently) "Oh, hi, friend". I really like it!

I feel like this is an odd 'come back' post- I have done heaps of sewing latley, and in my usual style some has been gifted without being photographed, I have done a decent amount of baking- including being back on the sourdough path after a break of about 15 years! And I need to show you 'around the grounds'- we're talking flowers, asparagus, strawberries, onions...and less excitingly to me, broad beans- but I need to be thinking of creative and fun things to do with them, because the 10 year old planted them and it's her first 'crop' (note to self: get her planting corn next time!).

Cathy (tinniegirl) has inspired me to tell you a story, after reading her post on Kat's blog.

This story is from actually probably nearly 10 years to the day.

We were renting an "off the grid", solar powered house on 100 beautiful acres including cliffs and waterfalls (pity it was mid drought and no water was falling). It was isolated. I had a 2 year old and a baby. My health was crap- I was sore (fibromyalgia was that diagnosis), I was tired (chronic fatigue syndrome was that diagnosis) I was teary (post natal depression was that diagnosis) I didn't feel right (Hashimoto's disease was that diagnosis) and, depending on whatever other specialist I saw at the time, they also had a specialist diagnosis to add to my growing toolkit (that's what they do, specialise)

The upshot is I was at my wits end- regardless of all those unhelpful diagnosis, it's always going to be a challenge (which some might respond to better than I did) to have broken sleep and the constant physicalness of two young children, not being around any 'old friends' (the day we left Melbourne was the day I found out I was pregnant, after a good 2 years of hoping to be)..etc.

I did have a small handful of cool women I had met in town. One day, I must have been vulnerable and told the truth to one particular women, who oozed authenticity and genuine-ness- when she said 'how are you going?', I reckon she meant it. I can't remember the details of the conversation but I must have responded with 'yeah, not great, so tired, just hanging in there'- or something along those lines. A few days later her partner visited our house and said 'Ms. Wonderful said you're not travelling great'- and then reiterated her offer- "if you ever need one of us to come and hang out with the kids while you sleep- please let us know". It touched me, made me realise it wasn't a token offer. These people lived maybe 25 minutes away, and had two little tackers of their own, we weren't at all 'besties'- I just really liked them!

At some stage in the coming weeks, I rang. Ms. Wonderful turned up- and while it would have been really fun to sit and chat with her and hang out, I didn't have it in me and she knew that's not what she was there for. She walked in, she said 'what are the kids up to' (eg- that one will have a sleep soon, the other one will wake up)...and when I had 'handed over' she said "now, off you go, go sleep".

Seriously- what a gift. I don't know how long she was there for, no longer that a few hours probably, but here I am, ten years later, telling you just how much that meant to me. Actually, how much that meant to me is beyond words. 

It was hard to ring and ask for help. Having low energy is crap. I must continually not compare my efforts of living to those of other people (some of whom seem to get so much done- and be able to handle 'simple' things like looking after their two young children!)

As I get older, I appreciate diversity and figure, although I am very conscious of all the balls I am trying to juggle and dropping, I am just travelling along side you, trying to 'be humans' together.  People value different things, that's okay, fair chance there are some similarities amongst the differences.

I still have times of stuggling with my energy levels.  I am so thankful when people with more energy than me can just be with me and not tell me that 'the more you sleep the more you want to sleep' (I take that as implied laziness, beat myself up, question myself and then resent the person who said it- overall, not helpful!)

And I was so thankful the day Ms. Wonderful turned up on my doorstep, to offer her hand and practical skills without any sense of 'the do-gooder' or 'the judger' , just with herself and her recognition that we are travelling the road of life together, and it's good to help each other out. 

How very decent!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Six. The City Shopper.

My designer/ teacher/ confidence builder/ tips and tricks sharer is mumbling about writing another book. So, how am I going with my Tanya and Nicole project? It's slow and steady with a few articles at different stages of construction, as is my tendancy! With the prospect of a new book I think I might go 'the big statement' and say, my intention is to finish all the projects in this book, so complete my Tanya and Nicole project before the next book is out. The belt I made as a pattern tester was quickly snapped up by my girl at the time and she has now outgrown it

I finally finished my 'city shopper'- seriously, it's ridiculous I didn't have it finished twelve months ago. Does anyone else get within 10 minutes of finishing a project and stall? I had the "o rings" I wanted to use, but didn't think I had the tri glider thing to make the strap adjustable. After months of getting annoyed looking at it being so close I went through my 'bag hardware' box and was surprised to find that I did actually have one that I had purchased at some stage and proceeded to finish it. So, this is bag two for Cam's sew along...can I get my last one finished by tomorrow, to make three for the month?

I know the above photo isn't that great of the bag- but it's actually equally about my tulips at the moment, I am so in love with them. I haven't grown tulips for years and years (I seem to be saying 'years and years' now that I am 40...generally referring to my 20's!)

I needed to show you the button close up- I love this button for this bag- the design of the button really matches the design of the fabric, I was pretty happy to realise that. What's odd is that at the time this was a special button, but the reason has actually slipped out of my long and short term memory and I have no idea now what was so special about it. That's abit sad!
Just thought I'd add in a 'behind the scenes' photo to show you my 'helpers' (and because I thought my little friend might like to see this brown dog). We are dog sitting at the moment. Pippi is the gorgeous, well behaved dog minding her own business in the background (um, so, that would be, she's my dog!). Kellie is my parents dog...she's a puppy still, and not as innocent as she might look here!

I love the shape of this bag, and I was pretty happy with the fabrics- it's certainly not a shy, retiring little bag!
Oh, and there they are again, the tulips, how nice!

And tonight I just read the happy news that Carmel is hosting a hat sew along in September. I'm keen. You?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Well,  I might be jumping the gun abit with the 'Spring' call, but gee, what a bit of blue sky, sunshine, fruit tree blossoms, flowering bulbs and a new lamb can do to cheer one up and inspire one to drag out the light cotton florals for a sewing frenzy!
But first, I was so keen on posting my bag early in bag month that I couldn't wait for good light to get a nice photo so I promised a better one, where you can actually see the feature fabric and get a vague idea about the shape of the bag...

The fabric came with a bundle that my crafty friend/ inherited cousin brought over with her when she visited from America not last time, the time before that...for one of her sisters weddings, no doubt, because there has been 3 of them in the past few years! She was silly  kind and generous enough to say 'Anything you want me to bring over with me?'...I can't remember the details of this 'shipment' but I may have just said something like '$40 worth of fabric?!'- the reason I think that is because I don't remember actually choosing these prints but just winning the lucky dip! Nat did a great job of selecting a variety of different prints and lengths she thought I would like and this was one of them.

So...Spring. A few weeks ago, our neighbour rang us (which is odd, because we live pretty close and usually he would pop over). He said 'our sheep has just had a lamb'- I said, great, we might come over and check it out. I assumed he rang because he thought the kids would be keen on a bit of baby lamb spotting, but when we got over there he was on the phone again  and I realised he was actually really excited, like a proud new dad ringing lots of his mates. It got better when I asked 'how long did she labour for?' and he informed me that he had no idea he didn't realise she was even pregnant (in his defense, she is a very very woolly sheep).  They are new to farming, having sort of retired to their place from the city. They are wonderful community minded neighbours...who I don't think read my blog!

 They also have new chickens, which are very cute as well.

And if that is not Spring-y enough for you...
Hopefully now I have found my camera, and camera battery, and sewing mojo, I will be back before too long to show off that sewing frenzy I alluded to. Although, some items have already been gifted without photos...hmph, and I call myself a blogger!