Friday, January 30, 2009

The Divine Bovine

Some gifts for a good friend's birthday- happy birthday, Eunice!

First, an unoriginal tree I copied from this book
which was a time-filler while waiting for some
hardware to arrive in the mail so I could make her
the Divinity Bovinity collection:

Eunice loves all things cow. We called her Walking Milk
in the days of our youth. She loves Gary Larson for his
interpretation of the cow psyche. She is glamorous and
funny like very few people can be who are not on drugs.

First, the handbag. In the last year I've become somewhat
fond of interfacing. Always knew it existed, seen mum use it
in her sewing but never was convinced of its merits. So
I did a bit of reading up and bought two different types-
craft fusible and heavy sew-in - to experiment with.

Put some in this handbag to make it stand up
all by itself. The bag has a black satin lining
with a concealed zippered pocket.

I've sewn handbags before but never with all the professional
metal stuff: magnetic clasps and purse feet!

A little coin purse with more of the black satin lining

and a padded eyeglass case with a pinch-frame.

This is not a vanity accessory. It is a triangle cow.
If you knew Eunice, you'd scream and say this is so her.
The idea came from this post on Karin's charming blog
- she's made other fabulous animals, too!

Quite a haul from just a half yard of cow cloth.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Corduroy Pinafores

Made the girls pinafores / jumpers in natural corduroy.
I bought three different corduroy fabrics before Christmas,
intending to sew them Christmas dresses but didn't really
have the time or inclination to draft a pattern till now.
After all that crafty sewing, it feels good to return to some
serious dressmaking. Drafting at 13 (when I sewed my first
skirt) was fun and made me feel grown-up like my mum
but drafting in my 30's when I am distracted by small
children and thinking of what I need to cook for supper
reminds me that I am my mum. I am pleased to say, though,
that it is not as hard as I was afraid it might be, after a
decade of non-drafting . It was slow-going at first, willing
my rusty brain to remember what was so logical as a teenager
with my mother-teacher closely guiding me. But it all came
slowly back.
And by the time I get through all three
pieces of fabric,
I will have had lots of practice - each
dress pattern
would have had to be drafted in three sizes!

That's 9 dresses! That's also insane, but then
I've never met a sewing person who wasn't.

Anyway, I started with the simplest of the three fabrics -
this one is already embellished with embroidered flowers
so it needed just some trim at the neckline and skirt hem

and some fancy buttons at the back.

Now that all the good stuff has been said,
I thought I'd report on where I went wrong.

1 Botched the lining
The left picture is how the lining/yoke of a sleeveless dress should look. The right picture is how Dress 1 (Emily's) turned out:

I cut the lining yoke to stop where the pleats began and did a separate facing for the lower half of the armhole. Had to slip-hem the entire lining to the outer fabric by hand! It turned out much neater than the correct version but so not worth the extra time.

2 Forgot to leave allowance for the overlap button panel at the back.
I got it right for Emily's (left picture) but completely botched up Jenna's. Had to unpick (hate, hate, hate) almost the entire bodice/lining and trim (I foolishly and complacently sewed that on first!) to insert extra fabric for an overlap panel (right picture). The verdict: I actually liked the corrected closure on Jenna's dress more but it would have been so much simpler to have put that into the original pattern.

3 Took measurements of children while they were running.
Verdict: lassoing them with the measuring tape and making rough guesses of their dimensions while in motion will not yield a Good Fit.

Overall, though, more hits than misses. They fit the girls and (more importantly) no one drew on herself with markers or spilled tar or other dark sticky substance on her dress.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Where I Work

Cleaned up my work area yesterday. Unlike many other people
who like to start their year with spring cleaning, I did it
because we had an appraiser come visit us yesterday.
24 hours later, it still looks like a museum piece because
I haven't dared go near it to do any serious work there.
And while I am basking in my hypocritical neater-than-thou
state, I took some pictures because (pity)
it will
never look like this again.

So this is where I work. I've always liked sewing beside
a window because the daylight is so lovely to work in.
Also I like being able to look out into the distance and rest
my eyes from time to time. The table is counter-height:
it's nice to stand at and draft patterns or cut fabric.
The floor, though, is where I end up a lot of the time,
especially when working on biggish projects
like curtains and bedlinen.

The little storage shelf unit holds current projects
and fabric with a
known purpose. The closet behind the sewing table is where all the
rubbish is: reference books, old patterns, haberdashery,
rolls of velcro and my single, large tub of
without-a-known-purpose aka The Stash. The other closet in the main picture contains
arts and craft and office supplies, incidentally.

Not many exciting projects to post about this week.
Finished a collection of odd things for a good friend's
birthday so will post on that when she's received the parcel.
Today I mended the husband's jeans and serged some
terrycloth squares into face cloths for messy kid faces.
Tomorrow perhaps I will get started on the girls' winter
dresses. The patterns are half-drafted on scraps of brown
paper. Drafting the patterns is always slow for me because
they require concentration - and I am always distracted
by thoughts of chocolate muffins and mango salsa.

Cardboard Wardrobe

Last week, we made a cardboard wardrobe
for Emily's doll clothes.

We waited till we had one of these,

turned it inside out and added shelves, excessively pink
wallpaper (leftover giftwrap from Christmas), aluminum foil
for a mirror and a dowel for a clothes rod. Turning it inside out
wasn't necessary but we like having bare brown cardboard on
the outside for the kids to decorate with markers. Or paint,
in this case. Emily painted it to give it a faux-distressed look.
I added the dots - dots are round and thus always fun.

Emily is slowly filling her wardrobe - slowly because she is
disorganized like me and my sewing room. She's also hinting
unsubtly for more handmade doll clothes.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

10 Things I Learned in 2008

  1. Shirring.
  2. The miracle that is fusible interfacing.
  3. But interfacing is still left in the dust by 600 denier nylon.
  4. Sewing through a flexible chopping board will not kill a sewing machine.
  5. The incredible talent of people in the craft blogosphere.
  6. The motherhood hormones are the same ones responsible for the increased urge to buy sewing machines.
  7. That I need a bias binding foot.
  8. There is a reason for why all the good fabric stores are all nowhere near my house.
  9. Posting tutorials in the pre-Christmas week is just plain daft.
  10. It is possible necessary to sew when one has two small children and one nursing newborn.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Emily has been horse-sitting lately.

Meet Strawberry
She does not belong to Emily - we made her for a
neighbor who's having a birthday party this Saturday.
Emily and Jenna both have stick horses (or hobby horses,
as I've learnt they are sometimes called) that I bought
last year when they were on sale. The handmade version
has been on my sidebar project list for yonks but I found
them in a store for less than $10 each, so I hardly blinked.

Still, I wanted to make one.

And last weekend the husband handed me a stack of his
old jeans, some which needed patching, and some from
which the patches would be taken. So I cut a pair up
and gave one leg a new life as a horse.

If anyone is interested, I started off with this tutorial,
which is a no-sew version. I am not keen on a lot of glue,
especially with tangly yarn, so I sewed
everything on except the eyes and nostrils.

Since this will be Emily's gift to her neighbor friend, she
got to pick the color. Pink (of course). We named her
Strawberry, after the horse in The Magician's Nephew
- for now. When she goes to her new home, she might
get another name, something like Theophilus Roquefort
Gorgonzola de Limburger IV, maybe.

Emily is turning out to be quite fond of Strawberry

and might find it a little hard to say goodbye this weekend.

So I've been thinking - there's another leg
left on that pair of jeans.
We could make her a unicorn.
He would be blue, not white.
But we could go a little crazy with his mane.
And we could call him Jewel.

Updated Feb 2011: Find the stick horse tutorial and pattern here.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pineapple Tarts

Nothing new this week on the sewing front. After three days
of being visible, the sewing table is, sadly, again smothered
by notions and stacks of fabric waiting to be turned into
somethings wearable. Stuff is spilling to the floor...again.
My entire table is one great big Sewing In-Box, I think.

There are projects on the waiting list - some fun non-serious
(i.e. fast) sewing like little pouches and bags and softies
and some serious sewing like clothes for the girls.
Those might take a while because the patterns need
to be drafted. In three sizes.

And there's Chinese New Year, of course. So I let myself be
sidetracked for a couple of days to make some more
pineapple tarts to send home to family- a pair for each of the
auntie-uncle and cousin-cousin-in-law couples that
usually hang out at mum's, partaking of her marvelous feast.

When I finally bring myself to bake the real versions of these,
I'll link to the family blog where I'll post pictures - they
look a bit like these funny little pincushiony things!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Giveaway Winner!

Thank you all for participating in my inane giveaway!

Today after a late lunch, I enlisted the help of
my random-number generator

who, being very careful to avoid any chance
of unrandomness (i.e. peeking)

picked the winner from her magician's hat:

The winner is commentor number
- Karin!

Congratulations, Karin!

Email me your mailing address and I will brave
the snow, sleet and sneet to get
your auspicious prize to you!

Being new to all this, Emily was initially extremely confused
about picking a winner who was someone other than herself.
This might explain why she does not look very congratulatory
in the pictures. She'll catch on quickly enough, though.
By the next giveaway she might even have her
Vanna White impersonation down pat.