Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Repurposed

I'm working hard on saying no to people who offer to give me free material. It's hard. Oh so very hard. But I gave in when my friend Megan down the road offered me this doona cover she had picked up at an op shop for $4. One side had big trucks and cars printed on with words, and the other had a lighter blue background with a smaller print of trucks and cars. It was so fun! Who could resist?!


In return for the copious amounts of free material, I made Megan's two kids something out of the fabric. I used some tutorials from Ikat Bag, which I had used before to make the Strawberry Print Denim Dress and another Red Denim Dress. Very helpful.


I love the pockets and piping on Digby's overalls. Those are the best I think. I wish I had more photos. Hadley got something similar, but a bit more girly: an elastic waist skirt with a bib front and cross over straps.


To make it slightly more fancy, I used some yellow piping around the straps and bib front. I've used it before in other skirts (and maybe something else, but I can't remember). Those buttons are useless, because I'm terrible at button holes, but they look good.


Sophie also got something out of this fabulous material. Same kind of thing that I made for Hadley, although she got two. One, which is totally plain and not fancy for kindy.


And the other which has a little bit of piping on the bib front (I didn't have enough left for the straps as well), and some cool buttons, which she is not allowed to wear to kindy.


I've still got fabric left too, so maybe Hugo and Rachel will be the next beneficiaries.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Pillow Making

This was one of the things on our holiday list that was possibly the first thing ticked off. I'd been meaning to sew Rachel a new pillow cover for ages, and day one of the holidays was just as good as any day to do it. 


Rachel loved being able to sort through my scrap fabrics and choose ones she liked. I may have helped streamline her choices somewhat, but she definitely had strong preferences about things.


All the straight sewing was perfect for Rachel to be helping with too. The butterfly material is leftover from this skirt I made for Sophie last year. I'm really not sure where the stars came from, the red heart fabric on the back is a bit velvety, and it came from a stack of stuff I got from a lady at church (most of which was crazy upholstery fabric that was crazy to sew with but made great warm quilts for church (read a snap of it here)).

Monday, July 10, 2017

Lists

I love making lists. It makes me feel good to know that I'm organised and crossing things off. Lists are fabulous. Usually when we reach the holidays, I've got a list of things to do. Things that are fun, things that are necessary, and all things in between.

These holidays however, started with Rachel's birthday, and I had spent the last few weeks of the school term thinking so much about Rachel's birthday and the subsequent party that I hadn't planned the holidays at all. No catch ups with people, no park play dates, and no things to do. Unusual, but also good, because it meant that I could ask the girls to contribute to the holiday list, because I hadn't already filled it up.

So we made our list together. It was a combination of a bucket list and a to do list. I let the girls suggest pretty much anything, just to see what they would come up with. They wanted to visit a lot of parks, and do random things like stay in their pyjamas all day.



I put a check box next to each thing and did a little drawing so the girls could remember what each thing was. The final list had over 20 things, and I'm pretty happy to say we got most of them ticked off! It was really nice to have let the girls be a part of their holiday planning. Next time I'll put a little two week calendar under the list and they can see how hard it is to put everything into just two weeks.


Annoyingly, one of the most important things which was actually pretty essential to get done, was one of the only things not crossed off. Why is organising passport applications so hard!?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Hard to Grow

I don't think that these raspberries were particularly hard to grow. We just planted the plant and it grew. And then raspberries appeared (much to the surprise of some members of my family who shall remain unnamed, who had told me that assuredly it was too warm for raspberries to grow in Brisbane.)


It was all very exciting for everyone, especially the kids.


They were delicious. The raspberries that is, not the kids.


But what is hard about the raspberries, is that when the fruit appears, you really have to watch it carefully, because it goes ripe/over ripe very quickly. Then you have missed your chance to get some delicious raspberries at all.


Thankfully, even though this is mostly the case for our first crop of raspberries, we have still been able to reap some delicious fruit. Hooray!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Renovation! Wait... no... Just Painting.

One thing about having a house is that it's never really done. Ever. And things are always getting old and falling apart. Our house is full of these things, which we usually put in the "we'll fix that when we renovate" which is code for "five or ten years when we finally put a deck on and do whatever else it takes to make the deck attach nicely to the house". Steve also hopes that we might make the kitchen slightly bigger in the process, so as to accommodate a dishwasher, which is something that I'm not opposed to.

Anyway, we've done bits and pieces, but we were taking a break from renovating for a while. The downstairs toilet had stopped working at least eighteen months ago, maybe longer, and we just attributed it to being old and broken and didn't really bother about it. So low on our list of things we cared about it, and it seemed like a first world problem. I mean, we already have a working toilet in the house, so do we really need the other one? 

Then the brand new washing machine started to not really work so well. I got a washing machine guy in who told me it wasn't the washing machine, so then we got a plumber in to look at things. Turns out the pipes were rusted and thus no water was even getting through. The good news was that fixing that would actually fix the downstairs toilet too, because, as it turns out, the toilet wasn't actually broken, it just wasn't getting any water. 

Now that the toilet was working again, we started using it again. Especially with toilet training kids, it was way easier to access from outside then running up the stairs and into the house to get to the one in the bathroom. But now that we were using it more, I was also noticing something else. 

It was really dirty. The walls and floor, even though they had been cleaned, were just gross. The walls were a dark green colour, which didn't help because it made the small toilet space feel even smaller and dirtier than it was. The floor was a white paint that was coming off to show previous layers of yellow and green; also not attractive. 

So I decided to paint. I guess it was just a first world problem, but paint isn't too expensive, and it would make a huge difference. 


I wish I had more before photos, but I didn't think to take them until I had taken out the cistern, puttied the holes, sanded the walls and cut in the first coat.


It was serious business.


Incidentally, Rachel helped me putty that big hole on the right. When I mentioned it to Sophie and asked her if we should paint the bathroom, she suggested just building a bigger bathroom. I like her dreams, but it just wasn't practical. Then she suggested painting it pink, which was a suggestion I disregarded pretty quickly as well.


Here it is after an undercoat and two coats of beautiful white paint. The work of one weekend. So empowering and shiny. Of course, the shiny-ness of the newly painted white walls really highlights the old-ness of the old paint trims (around the window, door frame and the door itself). Not to mention the floor.


The floor, which now looked so revolting that I started scraping the paint, and took three children to Bunnings to get a tin of cement paint.

Here is Steve getting to it with the gurney, which was much faster, but with some sad side effects. The white paint came up but some of the gurney action splashed up on my newly painted walls, so now I have to do some patch up work on my paint job. It also made the laundry area really flooded.


And the paint that was scraped up got washed outside and then re-stuck itself down. We don't really know what to do about that. My goal was to have the toilet finished by Rachel's birthday next Friday, but I don't think I'll make it. The floor really needs to be scrubbed back some more, and cement paint takes a lot longer to dry enough to walk on. Maybe in the holidays.

I installed that new toilet roll holder too, btw. The kids helped. Hugo was in charge of holding the allen key, which he was particularly excited about and went about pretending to tighten things. Then, as I was changing drill bits, I heard an "Uh oh": Hugo had put the allen key in the hole that I'd been drilling and it had fallen into the wall. He was pretty insistent that I get it out again, but there was none of that happening. Part of the wall, part of the ship.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Birthday Shorts

In other news, some friends of ours had a little celebration for their three year old on the weekend, so I made some shorts for him. 


Both girls helped with these. Rachel with the sewing of both shorts, and Sophie with the choosing of the yellow taxi and the ironing on of said yellow taxi (though I was so stressed about her enthusiasm to iron that I doubt I'll be letting anyone help with such a dangerous part of the process again).


I was lucky enough to have been given this material from a friend who had already cut the shorts out, but never gotten around to sewing them. They were a quick sew indeed. Here's hoping that come summer, they fit well.



Sunday, June 04, 2017

Strawberry Print Denim

Once upon a time there was a pair of strawberry print denim pants that were never worn. They were carefully made by a loving mother, but alas, they never went past the drawer. Poor strawberry print denim pants. They never knew their father! Well, maybe they did, but that's beside the point.


The pants languished, far from the light of day. They travelled from drawer to drawer, but never left long enough to be worn. Until one day, another mother pulled them from their obscurity, and looked at them with a new light. 

Maybe, just maybe, this strawberry print denim was never meant to be pants at all. Maybe, if the strawberry print denim took a new and different from, it could reach and fulfil it's potential. No more would it be left in a drawer, but actually taken out and worn! 


So, with a new vision for the strawberry print denim, the mother carefully cut, pinned and sewed. Low and behold, the strawberry print denim became new! No longer confined to a life on unworn pants, but a pinafore dress with pockets! 


Unfortunately, despite now being a fabulous strawberry print denim pinafore dress with pockets, it still languishes. Though the mother tried to make a size three strawberry print denim pinafore dress with pockets, the end result was closer to a size five. And the almost size five child that lives in the house did not like the strawberry print denim pinafore dress with pockets, for reasons completely unknown.


And so the strawberry print denim pinafore dress with pockets waits some more. Until the little three year old girl who lives in the house that it was originally made for grows up just a little bit more. Then maybe it will get to see some of the brilliant light of day.

On a side note, the mother made the strawberry print denim pinafore dress with pockets out of the red material that turns every thing else red if you wash it in the washing machine together with other things. Luckily for everyone, the mother also remembered this before any colour changing washing occurred and managed to wash the strawberry print denim pinafore dress with pockets separately so it will not be responsible for any colour changing incidents in the future.

The end.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Beautification

Time for a garden update. After we pulled out the corn and the garden looked bare and awful for a while. Not for long though, because a plethora of pumpkin vines came up from the compost and because the weather wasn't quite right to plant anything else, we let them grow. 

And grow they did. You can read about pumpkin spoils here and here. But then the weather got to be just right for planting other things, and so the pumpkins were not longer appreciated. I thought they would die back naturally, after they had grown their pumpkins, but alas, they just kept growing (you can see their abundant growth in a picture in this post from March). In the end, we had to do a big cull of pumpkin vines so that we could top up the dirt, re-mulch and plant the tomato seedlings. 

Now the garden looks like this:


Some of those seedlings came from a friendly neighbourhood donation actually. Someone else in in the suburb had a heap pop up and decided they could share the tomato love. What a great neighbourhood we live in!

The garden looks so professional, we we even put in some stakes and wire for the tomato plants to be supported by. There is one pumpkin vine (top left), which grows out of the box and onto the grass. There are two pumpkins still on this vine growing steadily. I've also put some snow pea seeds in too, so hopefully we will see them sprout up soon.

Meanwhile, out front, our rusty old wire fence is getting some winter beautification. Last winter, I planted snow peas around the swing set, using the poles for a natural trellis. You can read about it here. I noticed then that the ones that did the best were the ones in the sun the most. Thinking about it, the front of our house gets a lot of sun most days, so using the front fence for a trellis seemed to be the next logical thing.


The kids and I planted these. I went along with a shovel and made a little hole and got the kids to follow me with seeds and the instruction that they were to put one seed in each hole. Then we went along with a bag of potting mix and they put a handful of potting mix on the top of each.


They look small and cute now, but hopefully they grow up and make the rusty front fence look a bit nicer, even for just a little while. There are a mix of snow peas and other bean seeds, just for variety. Should be good. The gaps are where there was some random cement in the ground (I can only assume from a previous fence?) or the kids missed a hole.


This clump of seedlings are from the first hole, where the children clearly got over excited about putting seeds in.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Reality Dreams

It's a reality! This is the dress I dreamed about for a long time. That I made muslin practice dresses for, and that now finally I get to wear. 


The material is this gorgeous orange (not yucky in-your-face orange) sushi themed print that I got from another Japanese teacher who wasn't going to use it. I still have three meters of it and Sophie keeps asking for a dress, so maybe it will be used again soon. Not sure how I feel about matching dresses though. It's just not really my thing. Anyway, if you wanted to buy this fabric, you could find it here. It's fabulous. 


I wore the dress on Sunday to church and then we went to the park afterwards for lunch and a play. Steve took these photos there, as we enjoyed the wonderful autumn weather. I'm so bummed I didn't think to take my sunnies off, but such is life. 


The girls were also in home made dresses (coincidence!) which made me feel extra special. Maybe I am the Proverbs 31 woman after all!? You can read about the girls dresses here


And here are the dresses hanging on the washing line. From the initial dress that started it all, to the wearable muslin, and finally the sushi dress. I feel like seeing them all on the line confirms that I am actually wearing dresses more, which was just one of the goals here. Success! 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

To Infinity and Beyond!

This post starts with a confession: I like to wear dresses. I really do. There is something inexplicably beautiful about wearing a dress, even if it's an about-the-home dress that's easy to throw on and ok to get a bit of sticky-fingered-child-love on. 

I don't get to wear dresses enough, because even though dresses can be, they are not always practical for the kind of work I do. The kind where pockets are a must for all sorts of miscellaneous essentials like tissues, lip balm, rocks from who knows where, animal toys, phones, keys and the like. The kind of work where I'm going to be sitting on the ground and may have to suddenly lunge with no warning to save a child from some imminent danger, thus needing to be modest and flexible. 

Sigh. Not many dresses fit this line of work at all. It's rather disappointing when every day I wear the same outfit in a different variation: shorts and t-shirt. Now that it's coming into winter, it's a mix of jeans and a t-shirt, sometimes with a hoodie! Sigh. 

A few months ago, I was hanging up dresses in my cupboard and I found one that I can not remember seeing before at all. Honestly. I do get many of my clothes as hand me downs from my generous patrons of fashion (also known as my sisters). There is probably about an 75% hand me down to 25% self bought ratio, although in recent years the gap is closing, so in all likely hood this dress was just another hand me down that I have forgotten about, but I was still perplexed as to how it got into my cupboard with no recollection from me. 

What was more perplexing was that when I put it on, it fit so comfortably, that I have no idea how I could possibly have had it in the cupboard but not realised what a great dress it was! Curious and curiouser! 

After wearing it a few times, I decided I must recreate more of this fabulous dress, because, perfectly fitting though it was, it was lacking in pockets. So I looked at the dress and thought about it, and drew my own pattern for it. 

I'm a little bit shocked at how far I've come with sewing. That I can now look at a dress and know what parts go where and how it might be constructed is astonishing to me. That I can confidently cut the fabric and sew with some semblance of a unified seam allowance leaves me perplexed. In a good way. 

I have heard/read of people who make a "muslin" before they make the actual dress, and for once I found myself in the same boat. The "muslin" is just essentially a rough draft dress that you use to check that everything fits where it should, and give you practice at sewing it. I've never sewn one before because it seems like a waste to me to make an entire dress just as practice. And I've never had enough money to justify buying material for a rough draft dress either. 

Enter the space bed sheets that Steve's mum gave me as hand me downs from Steve's childhood. (I've used them before here.) These were in the drawer, and I did need to start cleaning out those drawers, so why not use them for the rough draft dress? Once the problem of material was solved and I started sewing, I realised another exciting factor about sewing the draft dress: you don't have to finish it. 

By "finish it" I don't mean you can leave it half done, but that you don't have to finish the seams (that's the technical term). It means you don't have to sew them so they don't fray, because you won't be wearing this rough draft dress (in theory), so you just sew the basics. No hemming either, or binding the neck holes, or finishing the sleeves. Sewing a draft dress is fast. 

Of course fixing the mistakes of the draft pattern takes longer, but at least you've made progress, and you've seen the way the dress could come together and be amazing. I'm officially converted to making a muslin, because I know if I do it, the end result will actually be great, rather than something I might have to adjust. Here's hoping that people continue to give me old bed sheets to use as drafts for the rest of my life and it does not become a financial burden. 

Back to my story. The first draft dress worked well, but there was something wrong with the bodice fit. Not for nothing did I read iKat Bag's series on dress drafting though! At the time when I was reading the posts, which were long and involved, and slightly over my head, I was wondering if this information would ever come in handy. But when I looked at the draft dress bodice and knew that I needed to take 2cm off the side bodice pieces to bring the princess seams to the correct place in the armscye, I felt empowered beyond belief. 

When the adjustment proved to be exactly correct in the second draft dress, words can not express my joy. There may have even been a dance around the living room. 

Can you see how the Princess Seam fits perfectly there!? 
I'm not sure why I have no photos of these draft dresses, or why I don't even know the current location of these dresses. Surely I didn't throw them before I finished blogging about all this sewing? Who knows. Anyway, in draft dress two, now that the bodice fit, I also added sleeves. Traditionally I don't sew anything with sleeves. Not sure if you've noticed on the girls dresses, but in four years, I've only sewed one with sleeves. 

I had been reading some Sewing Rabbit posts about dresses, and she has a different way of putting sleeves into dresses that seemed to be way easier that the usual way a pattern will tell you to, that I was keen to try. Draft dress two was the perfect time, and again, reading the copious amounts of sewing related blogs paid off. 

Pockets!
It was time to try the real thing but I wasn't quite ready yet. Mostly, after all the sewing of draft dresses using super cool space material (that was also super soft because it had been well used), I kind of wanted a space dress as well as the dress out of the material I originally wanted. I rationalised this by saying a third practice dress that I actually put all the finishes on would be good practice for me, and it would use more space material (remember I needed to clean out the drawer?). On top of that, I could use it when I'm working, because it would have pockets, and I could make it as long as I like for modesty and easy wear. 


So I did. This is actually what I spent most of my Mother's Day on. I sewed while Steve played with the girls. It was really nice to be listening to them play while I got to sew. So spoilt. 


So the Self Drafted Wearable Muslin Space Dress is finished. Sophie's reaction was: "What a beautiful dress Mum! You should wear it to playgroup." I'm a little sad that it's coming into winter and I'll have to layer it, but I think I will be wearing it, and soon. 


And now that it's done and it turned out beautifully, I'm even more excited (if that was possible) about sewing the dress in the fabric I had dreamed about all along. Just wait and see! I really do feel like the options are limitless: to infinity and beyond in the world of dress making! 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mermaids

There has been a lot of undocumented sewing going on around here. Most of which I will talk about in another post. I suppose I say this to somehow justify the absence of regular posting. Meh. Anyway, today's post is about to change things by documenting some sewing that happened only yesterday! What an incredibly fast turn around from sewing to posting. In fact, even from conception to posting is only three days! Record!

And what is this sewing with the record turn around from conception to post, I hear you asking. Well!


Mermaids.

The girls were playing/pretending to be mermaids the other day. They have a Little Mermaid book that we've read and they've seen the movie once or twice too. Ahh the movie of my childhood. So many memories. Anyway, something popped up in my pintrest feed on Sunday about sewing a mermaid tail for a doll, and after several clicks, I finally got here to where the tutorial was. Really easy and straight forward. So I saved it for another day.

On Monday, Sophie told me she was going to be Ariel and Rachel was Flounder. So I happened to mention I had found a pattern for sewing a mermaid tail for her doll if she was interested maybe we could do it together. The response was positive. (At this point, Sophie also pointed out that she too would like a mermaid tail, but I managed to convince her that was for another day.)

So Monday afternoon the material box was out. Both girls made their choices and measured their dolls. They helped with the pins and played with the scraps after cutting. I'm sure they would have helped with the sewing (as per usual), but they got distracted pretending to be mermaids again, so I just did the sewing by myself (much faster).


These were a really easy sew, used up a bit of scrap material, and they look great on the girls dolls. (If you are interested, Sophie's is here, and Rachel's is here.) It's been nice to see the dolls get another run of being played with (they had been on the shelf for a while).


Now it's Tuesday afternoon and the mermaids have been to the swimming lesson and playgroup as well as being the cuddle toy of choice for bedtime last night. And look at me blogging about them! So fast!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Garden Spoils

This is the pumpkin! I totally forgot to weigh it in the end, but it was so nice to cut open and see that lovely orangey-yellow shining out. Mum took a quarter for the Easter family lunch, and I gave wedges away to our neighbours. It even smelt nice when we were cutting it. What shop bought pumpkin smells nice when it's raw? 


I was watering the bed of sweet potato plants wondering how soon it would be until we saw some actual sweet potatoes, when I noticed something pushing out of the soil. Thinking some random animal had been digging up in the bed at night (I've heard stories from the neighbours about some tricky possums in the area), I had a poke around and found that enormous sweet potato you see below.


I quickly followed the vine and found a few more as well. The girls were delighted to see them coming out of the soil. We haven't had sweet potatoes from the garden since last August, so it was really exciting to know stuff is still growing there, especially since the plant has been transplanted twice in that time.

I remarked to Steve that even if it's not at all cost efficient to grow your own veggies, when you take into consideration the water, soil, mulch, etc., not to mention the time it takes to look after said garden, the feeling you get from actually having edible food that you grew yourself is amazing. Totally worth it.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Dresses

With Sally the Sewing Machine being out last week, and school holidays still in progress, I have been able to make another couple of dresses for the girls, just in time for Easter. I didn't really have Easter in mind when I was making them, but after they were finished, they were so bright and colourful, that they just yelled at me to celebrate new life - which is what Easter is all about, right?


These dresses were really fun because I let the girls choose some of the fabric themselves as a treat at the store. They turned out way more matchy than I was anticipating though, because I used the same pattern and material layout, which is a bit of a bummer, but I guess it's not the end of the world. People assured me that they didn't look matchy in the slightest when the girls wore them, so maybe it's just me anyway.


I used the Sally Dress pattern, from Very Shannon. I've used it before here, Sophie's first birthday, and here, just before Rachel was born, but I haven't sewn it in ages (nearly three years!) so I had a few problems getting it together. Somehow I mixed up the bodice construction, and then couldn't be bothered to unpick it, so I did some creative sewing to get those armholes done. It was a bit frustrating, but again, not the end of the world.


The girls love the pockets. So totally perfect for Easter egg hunts!


Sophie and Rachel also took turns helping me to sew things - pushing the reverse button, lifting and dropping the presser foot, being in charge of the pins, which they love. It was nice. On Sophie's the pockets are lined with the butterfly material that is on the hem.


Rachel's has just the blue as lining, but I found that cool old (vintage?) trim in my sewing cabinet that matched rather perfectly. Mum recognised it when she saw it, so I guess it must have come from her stash at some stage and I'm glad I got to use it up.


Rachel was not a happy camper for these photos because we couldn't find Rachel Bunny to go in her pockets and she had to be content with the sheep. Sophie, on the other hand, was too excited to sit still, and all the good shots I have are from her not looking at the camera. Oh well, they show off the dresses nicely.

Happy Easter everyone!