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Gillian dress by Muse Patterns

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Gillian Dress by Muse Patterns.

I have found sewing nirvana!  I cut a size 40 for the yoke and a size 44 for everywhere else and no other alterations and it fits me!!  !!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I'm going to make the dress version in a blue polka dot fabric next, and then I have a grey fabric and black contrast to make a winter version after that.

This is my first ever pdf pattern, and I took the plunge because I loved the pattern AND I found that Kat, the designer was a New Zealander and wanted to support her.  The instructions were great and I was really happy with the finish I achieved (I speak as someone who has done quite a bit of basic sewing, but is not an advanced or highly skilled sewist).  It did take absolutely ages to tape and cut the pattern pieces, so I'm thrilled that I have a good result from my efforts and will use the pattern again soon.  I do have my eye on the other Muse patterns - the Jenna cardigan and the Natalie dress.

It doesn't gape when I bend over,…

sewing dreaming

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I made the peplum cardigan work in the end, by cutting the seams off and re-sewing.  I'd cut it too big first time round, so that worked.  Pictures to follow once I have gotten someone to take them.

This weekend I made alterations to the pattern pieces of my Style Arc Issy top.  I'd no chance of altering them until I'd sewn it once (which I've done - pictures will be forthcoming of that too).  Next step is making it in a narrow red and white stripe fabric.

I've found a new pattern to fall in love with:  McCalls 6898.
That's the pattern photo.  Even more gorgeous is this one.I think I could make it up in a stretch cotton.  There are some gorgeous ones around.  The pattern rating is "easy" and it comes with a,b,c & d cup sizes.  Princess seams, which will be a new challenge.

fitting clothes again

So now I have a better fitting cardigan, the McCalls 6844 which everyone else seems to whizz up in five minutes with no fitting issues.  It is still not a great fitting cardigan though, and when I ran some elastic through the back to bring the back waist in, I didn't spread it evenly (even though I tried) which has made the cardigan look rather home made which I'm not so happy about given I paid $90 for the fabric (really lovely merino).

I either have the narrowest shoulders in the whole entire world or I am doing something else wrong.  After taking the shoulders in by 4cm already (each) and still having the garment hanging off my shoulders by another centimetre, I've had the brainwave that maybe I have cut a size too big around the neck.

Wow wee.  Imagine getting that clever after 85 hours of alterations to the pattern, one wadder and now one that is wearable but not great.

I also have very short arms.

Still no pictures.  Beyond bed time already.

First world problems for …

fitting notes

Blimey what a project.  I only want a cardigan/soft jacket which fits me well. 

I've been working on McCalls 6844 for a long time and tonight I sewed the jacket neck band on, so although there is pressing, top stitching and hemming to go, I do have a completed shape.

It's all baggy under the arms.  Also, I don't think I have quite the line at the waist (there is a peplum falling from the waist) which I want.  I can see I did need to do an FBA, but possibly a length only one.

I might be able to alter it at the sides a bit - I'll try that over the next few days.

Also, it would appear that I have extremely short arms and narrow shoulders.  I took 2.5cm off the shoulders and need to take 2-3cm more off.  I took 9cm off the sleeves and need to take 4-5cm more off.

No photos.  Just notes as I think through what happens next.  This was the wearable muslin, out of marked down fabric (yet to find out just why merino was marked down from $24/metre to $8/metre.  I have some heav…

McCalls 6915, books & rain

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This is the fabric and pattern Brighid and I chose in Christchurch a few weeks ago, while the boys soughed it out at a kung fu tournament.  It's black velvet, and really beautiful fabric.  The pattern is McCalls 6915, and while it is easy to put together, the actual pattern is ridiculous.  I had read that the pattern comes up large on Pattern Review, but the reality was quite stark.  The top is loose enough to be made in a woven (the pattern specifies moderate stretch) and the skirt is unhemmed and falls above her knees.  I favour loose dresses on Brighid, but this is just bad pattern making I think.  It is entirely my fault that I ignored the band and folded the neckline over and stretched it out really badly.  So I made some tucks in the front and then added the neckband after all.  The next step in fulfilling Brighid's specs for this dress is that she wants pointy bits around the hem and arms...

She added some socks and gumboots and a hoodie and off we went to see Tinkerb…

yellow yes, mellow, not so much

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So, it's quite bold, and yellow.  It's my Issy top, from Style Arc.  I threw caution to the wind as it was a freebie pattern and made it up without any alterations.  Funnily enough it fits in the bust and is too big everywhere else except through the hips.  Who would have thought that all that reading on altering patterns and several years of experimentation would yield yet another proof?

It's not completely unwearable once I have taken an extremely deep hem (size 18 tops, I am reminded again, are not drafted for persons who are 5'4").  I may try and take the shoulders in, something I'vve never tried before.  I am taking the sleeves up to be 3/4 sleeves.  Bold yellow flowers all the way to my hands is tooooo much.

It will, no matter the alterations, be very bold, and very yellow.  I'm not sure I will wear it every second day.  I had the red version of this print and I was wise to make it as a dress with plain black for the bodice.  This yellow fabric woul…

the renfrew red velvet dress with no velvet in it.

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I've been sewing.  Above are four photos before I took a piece out of the bodice to take away the droop and hemmed it.  One day I might have better photos, but equally, one day may never come.  I was harsh on myself at first, but I suspect I shall come to like it a lot.  The skirt and midriff is from the Cake Patterns Red Velvet and it is beautiful.  I mustn't have concentrated properly, because my scissor pleat isn't exactly central in the front and not exactly symmetrical in the back.  My husband picked this, demonstrating that he was concentrating when I asked him what he thought.  I've made this skirt part of the red velvet pattern twice before and got it perfect without major effort those times.  I speak as someone for whom sewing and perfect almost never meet. The top is the Renfrew top from Sewaholic, cut at just below the bust. I was looking for a combination which gave me modesty at the top (achieved), set in sleeves (achieved), winter-suitable (achieved) and…

New definitions of precious

Tomorrow the marathon begins.  Not running, not that much of a sea-change has been going on at the not-quite-so-messy house.  Just the marathon of working full time with extra work responsibility whilst simultaneously parenting and attempting to fit in sleep and books and rest home visiting and garden and sewing. 

Today I eschewed my plans to go to work and instead cleaned the lounge.  Really cleaned the lounge, including sorting out all my sewing gear.  I found three tape measures, three packets of new bobbins, countless packets of curtain hooks and more packets of sewing machine needles than I was prepared to count.  All bought because I couldn't find the pre-existing packets in the mess.

The finished result is a thing of beauty.  Of course if a camera was charged and I took a photo to share on this blog, you would wonder what all the fuss was about.  A bright yellow room with some old furniture and lots of books and hobby paraphernalia... but you would miss the fact that the s…

lawns or thyroid? hard to contain excitement

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Well well well.  I didn't write for weeks because my life has turned into a workfest, and then blogger/google/gmail got so mixed up I couldn't access my account and now, wonders unexplained, I can access it again. 

1. sewing.  I made a renfrew top which I appear not to have photographed.  I made a pile of alterations to the pattern before I made it up, and I think I'll make some more yet, and turn it into a frankpatterned mix of renfrew top and red velvet midriff and skirt.  I made another circle skirt for a 7th birthday present.  Brighid is modelling the twirl factor on it above, before we wrapped it and set off for the party.  I didn't have any bias binding and so hemmed with a single fold (looooong hem circumference) and zigzagged it which actually looked quite good.

I hemmed two tiramisu dresses which have been worn unhemmed for ages.  I used steam a seam lite for one which was really good, except unbuyable at the moment as the factory burnt down.  I used a trendy …

sewing & books

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New patterns:
Sewaholic Renfrew


Style Arc Clara skirt














I still haven't got my fabric buying and pattern buying and wardrobe needs in synch.  So I have gorgeous fabric in the cupboard in bold knit print for dresses or leggings.  But I have enough dresses and leggings for the moment and a need for cardigans in plain knits.  But I have wanted a cowl top for a zillion years to echo the RTW one I bought four years ago.  I tried a Khaliah Ali one and it wasn't successful.  The review and pics on the internet suggest the Renfrew could be the one for me.  This tutorial on doing an FBA on the Renfrew is going to be my mini-bible for the Renfrew project.

I read Deborah Challinor's Girl of Shadows and loved it.  This would make a fabulous mini-series.

Special find of the week: the digi-poem Hinemoa's Daughter.  Very beautiful.

Anne Else: The Colour of Food

I've long been a fan of Anne Else's writing.  Her books on womens history and particularly on the history of adoption in New Zealand, were really important to me as a postgraduate history student in the 1990s.  Last year I read Else's PhD online and for the last several years I've been reading her blogs http://elsewoman.blogspot.co.nz/ and http://somethingelsetoeat.blogspot.co.nz/ .  When her food memoir came out only as an e-book, I was disappointed, but ethically opposed to getting a kindle or other device as it reduced the pool of books to be sold second hand thus available to people who could not afford new books.  But all those concerns fell away last week when my lovely husband surprised me with a kindle for my birthday.  There is no going back!  The books are so cheap and to be able to choose exactly what I want to read at 11pm or 3am or Sunday morning or whenever feels really close to magic.  The very first book I downloaded was Anne Else's The Colour of Fo…

Beautiful letters

These letters from the working mother to the stay at home mother and from the stay at home mother to the working mother are beautiful.  I want to print them out and post them everywhere.

I haven't blogged about my fiercely intelligent brother who writes wonderful letters to the local paper.  The paper have gone a bit shy on him lately and I'm keen for him to blog his letters. 

I haven't blogged about the wonderful book Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

I haven't blogged about the garden, or work, or the alterations I've made to the stripey cardigan I rashly bought one cold day on holiday in summer.  I haven't blogged about our adjustment as a family to me being at work most of the time and how this week is better than last week because my kids are happier and how Favourite Handyman is the bestest support to me I could dream of.

But when I read those letters via a facebook link tonight, I couldn't let them sit without sharing them every way I…

SEVEN!

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When I started blogging, Brighid was seven months old.  Now she is seven.  She loves dressups and so I made her a princess dressup dress for her birthday.  This morning (day of the party), I was working on finishing the dress when I discovered I had nowhere near the right size zip.  In a small town where shops are closed on part of Saturday and all of Sunday, I was very grateful to get there in time for an appropriate zip.

The party was a wonderful success, and after a short rest, we went to the 21st birthday party of a special young woman who has babysat for us, whose mother is my right hand woman who cares for our children when both of us are at work and who is a fabulous mother in her own right now.  All the celebration of youth and hope and joy and exuberance is so special and I'm appreciating it so much more as the flip side to the stories of struggle and decline we have been witnessing and sharing in our family in recent months.

Super Uncle has been visiting, and had the au…

golden days full of hobbies

The New Zealand Journal of History is online (bar the most recent two issues) and so I don't have to be a student or employee of a university to indulge my history desires.  Today I found this article:
‘I don’t care what it is going to cost, I am prepared to pay’ MEN’S VOICES AND ABORTION IN NEW ZEALAND, 1919–1937 which I found completely fascinating.
I also sent off a draft of my review of Susan Upton's book on barmaids to an historian friend.  In and around ineffective attempts to get my daughter to eat her dinner or clean her room, I removed more rubbish to the dump, booked her birthday party venue, weeded more of the garden and sewed more of my hummingbird skirt.  I now have an almost complete skirt - it just needs hemming and a button and buttonhole.  It looks quite nice, very wintry but that will come quite soon enough.  But nothing presses my finished object buttons so much as a dress.  I need some more cardigans or jackets but the fabric in my cupboard is all winking and…

nesting for workers

So very soon I start my new job, a job which I anticipate is going to involve 60 hour weeks with startling regularity.

Beforehand, I'm all about the kind of nesting which prepares us for the long hours of me away by making food which cannot be bought, and planting food which cannot be bought at the same quality and freshness.  Last night I made another batch of muesli and put a chicken on the slow cooker to make stock.  This morning I made eggy courgette muffins fromThe Edible Journey Cookbookand then strained the stock and chopped up the chicken meat.  The kids and I did errands in town and then bought punnets of silverbeet and cavolo nero seedlings.  While Brighid danced, I took bags of things we have grown out of to A, the very wonderful leader of our local Tongan community.  After our town lost a mother and teenage son in a car accident before Christmas, my eyes were opened to need I had been far too oblivious to beforehand. 

I weeded and watered and fertilised and planted bef…

various sprouts

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I tried sprouting quinoa and it didn't work.  Not a single sprout.  I figured it must have been heat treated on entry to New Zealand.  Today I bought some organic red quinoa and the second quinoa sprouting experiment is on my windowsill now.  O bought a healthy heart brassica and mustard mix for sprouting as well today.  I declined on mung beans.  There has to be a line in the sand somewhere.

Bonfires are special.  Bonfires on the beach with family from across the oceans and fireworks to boot is extra special.  We will all remember last night for a long time. 

New haircut.  I look like my Mum.  Not terrible - my Mum looks very nice.  I like the cut but wish I had been more adventurous with colour.  Brighid suggested purple, but I'm not so sold on that.  I've made the exact same comment before, so next time needs to be action time!

I tried clothes on in the sales at the flash clothes shops today.  I would have been better off spending the time sewing.  I want a tailored or …

Comfrey fertiliser for rainforest conditions

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Comfrey fertiliser for rainforest conditions: Step one: pick comfrey from front garden, where I foolishly planted this wonder plant at the height of my hippiedom.  I'd rather have flowers there now, but comfrey never leaves.

Step two: rinse and cut central stalk out.  Even at the leaf end, the central rib is too tough for the food processor.  Chop into halves or thirds.
 Step three: whizz in the food processor.  Add a little water if the leaves do not behave.

 Step four: you now have a bowl of chopped comfrey.  Don't make it into liquid fertiliser if, like me, you live in an area currently under deluges of rain almost every day.
 Step five: sprinkle chopped comfrey around the kale plants.  With enough love, including the killing of white butterfly caterpillars, this will grow into a fine forest of kale and feed us all winter. Yesterday I sprinkled quash pellets around the edge of the garden as half of the six lettuces I planted round the kale had succumbed to the ravaging sna…

2014: the sewing and gradening begins

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Above and below: Cake espresso leggings: successful.  I've a second pair awaiting elastic and plans to make more.  I like wearing dresses more than trousers for work and I don't like faffing round with pantyhose (nor does the work dress code require them), so leggings are perfect for winter.  Usually I can only buy plain black from the cheap shop and they pull apart at the thighs long before any other part has worn out.  I'm looking forward to a longer life from these made to measure leggings.  For details of the pattern and why the customisation makes it brilliant, see here.  In case you are concerned, I don't plan on wearing the leggings as trousers - but the photo does allow you to see the leggings in some of their glory.

Less successful: McCalls 6408.  Very comfortable.  Like a tent at the back, so I put elastic in all the way round which would have been quite good except I didn't put in straight (I was under the illusion it was straight all the way until it w…