Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sew long!

Sorry, I couldn't resist one final oh sew funny pun!

I'll still be reading too many sewing / homemaking / parenting blogs, but my days as a blogger myself are over, at least for the time being. I've had fun with Mama's Sewing Room, but 8 months in I really have to admit that I just don't have time for blogging at the moment. I've completed my Diploma of Professional Counselling but I'm starting the advanced papers soon, and focussing on networking and looking for more volunteer / work experience opportunities. Whatever "me" time is left, I'd rather spend it all sewing!

I have three little projects on the go at the moment, which I will share in this my final blog post :)

Christmas mug rug from a great tutorial by Ryan Walsh; still have the binding to attach, which will be red:

Quilting my quilt; once I'd finished my patchwork I only did 3 lines of actual quilting and decided to quit while I was ahead! The mug rug taught me what else I'm capable of so I went back and quilted all the borders and am in the process of quilting each individual patch:

Toddler nappy wallet with matching change mat, a quick little project using some fun farmyard fabric:

Thank you for visiting Mama's Sewing Room. Happy Sewing!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cushion covers & note to self re. patterns

Not a great photo but I'm in a hurry to get back into my sewing room before my little girl wakes up! I learned how to make envelope cushion covers several months ago, from Jane Bolsover's Sewing Machine Basics. These have turned out nicely although I forgot about getting the stripes aligned in the first one, got it half right in the second, and in the third it's all good - lesson learned about working with patterned fabric - some extra thought is required! Anyway, they brighten up our much-hated sofa (another note to self: do not buy furniture when heavily pregnant and in a hurry!).

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Back, with bunting!

By some miracle I've managed to finish all my remaining diploma units, my final practical is booked for the end of the month, this morning we placed a holding deposit on a lovely new home, and I've already made great progress with the packing!! So, I'm already back in my sewing room! Woot!

I used this tutorial as a guide, but without the applique - saving that for another time! I expected the bias tape to be stitched to the top end of the triangle but here it's threaded through - I had a bit of trouble keeping the topstitching neat at the corners for the first two flags but by the third I'd figured it out and whizzed through the rest. Looking forward to hanging this in my daughter's new bedroom!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Keeping the blog alive...

...two practicals passed and the final one is set up for the end of October. Unit 15 is passed, 16 is submitted & 17 is almost done, which only leaves 18. On track! But, no chance to sew, blog or study in the next 3 weeks as we have to find a new rental home, and move, in that timeframe. Gah! So, once again there will be bloggy silence and no time in the sewing room either. Very sad. But I'm keeping my eyes on the prize - by the beginning of November the diploma will be all but finished & my sewing machine will be set up in our lovely new home - wherever that may be - and my Christmas sew-a-thon can begin!

Friday, September 16, 2011

And so, to bed!

In an effort to become more accepting of the fact that my daughter wakes up at 5.30am every morning I have decided to focus on the positive i.e. more hours in the daytime to put to good use.  However, note to self: do not try to demonstrate this by making fish pie from scratch at 6am. Annabel Karmel you have a lot to answer for, 65 minutes start to finish my a**!!

That aside it has been a good day - playdate mid-morning (by our clock), got through some chores in the afternoon, we all three ate the thankfully edible fish pie for dinner, and this evening I have finished and submitted Unit 15: Client Suitability & Clients at Risk. Will spend the next week or so preparing for the practical assessments which are on 26th September. Then will complete Unit 16: Case Managment asap so I can organise the associated assessment, which is also the final practical assessment. Then....a good long rest from it before tackling the final two units. There is no real rush, and I need to go a bit easier on myself. Am knackered! So bed!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The early bird catches the worm

So they say. But I'm not in a mood for catching anything at 5.30am which is when Miss M wakes up every single morning! Husband and I can alternate now as I've started giving the first feed after breakfast rather than as soon as she wakes, which is great, but oh boy these early mornings are a killer even though it's only every second day these days. Cannot believe I think that 7am is a lie in! Anyway. Soon enough she will be a teenager and I'll not be able to get her out of bed until noon and I'll look back and laugh. So they say!

Have been flat out studying since I arranged two more practical assessments for the week after next. Unit 14: Family Therapy came back with a pass yesterday (it's a pass / fail system) and I almost have Unit 15: Client Suitability & Clients at Risk ready to go. It's self-paced so I don't need to go so mad for it but the end is in sight now and I'm just looking forward to taking a good proper stretch of time out once the diploma is finished, before I move on to the advanced units I've elected to do. I do enjoy all things counselling-related very much, but it will be a real treat to have a break from studying for a while. The timing should be great - all being well I'm going to have the months up to Christmas to sew sew sew, with no study hanging over me. Woot!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Only 106 sleeps to go!

I've never been one for the mad countdown to Christmas, but this year I'm starting early. I don't mean writing the cards for overseas or starting the pressie buying already - I'm not that mad (or organised!) - I'm talking about my Christmas sewing plans. Spotlight kindly emailed me another one of those vouchers this week that draw you in and make you SPEND NOW! Only valid for 5 days!! So off I went today intending to buy $15 worth of Christmas fabric (after the $10 voucher)...and I handed over $40. Oops! I blame my daughter, who was not in a shopping mood and was very vocal about it, and I got distracted and confused about the pricing, and then I bumped into a friend, and I got chatting to the lady who was there to do the quilting demos, and then I saw a lovely Christmas panel and then I wanted some red bias tape and then I needed some red thread...a leeeettle more $ than I had intended (as of course Spotlight intended!) but I now have the beginnings of a very nice Christmas stash. Time to get inspired!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Oliver + S reversible bucket hat (again!)

I completed another diploma unit a couple of days ago and it was a tough one, so I'm having a break from it for a bit and I'm very happy to be back in my sewing room at last! Spring has sprung, the sun is shining, and this is such a good pattern that I've made it again! Also, the last one got lost - I'm learning that this is often the way of things with items such as socks & sun hats that belong to little girls! So, I skipped the decorative stitching round the brim and between the sides & crown and I think it still looks good, but it was finished a whole lot faster!  The pattern in the Oliver + S "Little Things to Sew" book comes in three sizes and this is the smallest, so it looks like Miss M will be wearing this style for a few years to come! She was not in a mood for posing for photos (click to enlarge), so I was forced to use another model to show the reverse :) 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Status update... still here, just on a temporary hiatus! Miss M recently started crawling which has changed things around here quite a lot, plus am trying to get a good block of my counselling diploma done with a view to completing it by the end of this year. So, there hasn't been a lot of time left for sewing, and my machine is sadly neglected at present. However, I plan to clear out my sewing / junk room this weekend and get started on my list:

  • Bunting for Miss M's room in pinks with travel theme using this tutorial
  • Cushion covers for sofa , just envelope style and have the fabric and inserts since months ago!
  • 'Mug rug' using this tutorial - want to practice my quilting some more before trying another big project
  • New sunhat for Miss M in pinks with travel theme using same Oliver + S pattern as before
  • Hungry Caterpillar blanky 
  • Christmas bunting
  • Fabric advent calendar

So yeah, I really need to get this space!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

My first quilt!

Finished at last! It's very far from perfect but I'm so pleased with it and it will keep my little one snug and warm for the rest of these winter nights. I've learned so much. Not least that my machine didn't come with a walking or quilting foot - I didn't realise this crucial fact until I was about to finish it this afternoon, which was rather unfortunate...doh! I made do with the regular foot though as I wasn't planning anything elaborate, just a few straight lines, and it's worked out ok (if you don't look to closely!).

I also learned that it is unwise to try and fix my machine by taking it apart when I should be asleep in bed. There were some sweary words not befitting a respectable sewing mama! Plus, I would probably not have had to take it apart in an emergency situation had I not left the dust cover off for days at a time. Lesson learned!

And finally, I've learned that something lovely can be made out of leftovers - I didn't buy any new fabric for my learner quilt. I was inspired by a quotation that I saw in a small town sewing shop in New England whose name I don't recall:

If life hands you scraps, make quilts!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Quilting - borders

The borders are on! Woot! I read a couple of articles  here and here but ended up winging it because I didn't want plain straight borders, I wanted them to be a little different and I didn't have the energy to google any more as by then it was going on 10pm! I'm struggling to explain what I mean here so all will have to be revealed at the end - fingers crossed it works out ok! Next I need to figure out the batting as I think I'm going to have to join two pieces together, and then I'll work out how to assemble the front, batting and back. Sewed instead of studying last night, shouldn't have really, but it's so satisfying to see it all coming together!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Quilting - nestling the squares

I've just finished piecing all 48 squares, done in 15 minutes here and 20 minutes there over the last week or so! I found a really helpful little video clip about nestling the squares, and I also took some more tips from Diary of a Quilter, including "don't have a panic attack if some points are not perfect...especially if this is your first quilt" - I'll go with that! Next step is to read up on adding the borders, which I hope to complete in the next week or so. I've been reading a lot about planning and time management recently so despite the fact that Miss M has recently taken to flipping onto her tummy every waking moment and roaring like a banshee because she hasn't quite got the hang of going forwards yet, and has also decided that afternoon naps are for wimps, I hope to be able to get everything done and still have some sewing time left!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Quilting - piecing , finally!

I can’t believe that more than a week has gone by since my last post! Poor Miss M has been sick with a coughing cold, seems to be doing the rounds here on the Banana Coast. I’ve not been feeling 100% myself but did manage to have a lovely night out with mothers group and also a nice walk in the Botanic Gardens with friends and a belated birthday cake for me (yum!) before we were struck down. Plus I found out that I got published on the Kleenex Mums website as a runner-up in their blogging competition – very chuffed!

Anyways so it’s Monday again already and after a particularly rough couple of days we’re on the mend at last and Miss M has gone out for the afternoon with her Papa, leaving me all alone in the house...bliss!! Several jobs to be done but first I made getting back into my sewing room the priority, and I’ve finally started piecing my squares. Last week I marked them grid-style (A1-H6) with small pieces of masking tape and today I have begun sewing strips of six, following a good tutorial from a blog called Diary of a Quilter.  I hope to have completed all the strips by the end of this week. Can’t wait to see how it all comes together!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Quilting - the journey begins!

Exciting times in Mama’s sewing room this week! I am finally starting my first quilt. A lovely friend gifted me a cutting mat, quilting ruler and rotary cutter for my birthday last month. I’d already bought some batting, which has been sitting in my stash for weeks waiting for me to get cracking, and I’m using whatever I have to hand in terms of fabric so I don’t have to worry too much about mistakes. This is my learner quilt, and I am so excited!

First step is the cutting. I was shocked at the sharpness of the rotary cutter and have read up on safety - blood in today’s pumpkin soup is one thing (ouch), blood on my lovely quilt-to-be is another! I’ve been doing 15 minutes here and there whenever my daughter is napping and I have a moment, and I’ve followed the fantastic cutting tutorial on a great blog called Sew Many Ways. I think I’ll be visiting this blog quite frequently as I continue my quilting journey. With almost 3,000 followers, Karen still found time to respond to my comment and even gave me some technical blogging tips - so lovely! 

I’ve worked out the sizing and basic design and will play with the placement once I’ve cut the rest of my five inch squares. I need about another 20 (63 in total) and I’ll be good to go. It’s taken me three days just to get this far so I don’t expect to make fast progress, but I think I’m really going to enjoy the process!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pinterest Love!

Pinterest is my new thing! It is soooooo useful. You know those evenings when you're browsing the net and finding all sorts of gorgeous things you'd like to have a go at making, and you start saving pages in the browser that you know you'll probably never get back to, or sending email reminders to yourself that will get filed and forgotten? Or all the great subscription emails that come through from sewing blogs and websites that you never quite get around to reading properly and before you know it there's 150 of them in your inbox and you just end up deleting them and losing all those great ideas?

Pinterest allows a gal seeking inspiration to pin all those lovely pictures of things to sew onto virtual pinboards that can then be perused at leisure. Each picture you pin has a link to its source page embedded within it, so you can return to the related info whenever you wish. The links to all the great tutorials and patterns that I find and read about late at night are now all in one place for reference and sometimes just to look at 'cos those boards are so pretty to behold!

Pinterest is invite only - if you'd like an invitation let me know, then you can get pinning too!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Chair pads

We were given this second-hand wicker seat before my daughter was born and it's made the best nursing chair. The chair pads needed freshening up a bit so last night I finally got around to doing something with another of my op shop doona cover finds. I just made simple envelope covers, which I learned to do from Jane Bolsover's Sewing Machine Basics.

As an aside, I cannot get over the kindness of the people we have met in this town. We have been given so much pre-loved baby and home stuff, all so much appreciated by new immigrants who are also new parents! We'll be sure to pay it forward!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Hot Water Bottle Cover

I got a couple of hours to myself this afternoon so I was able to make peaceful use of my new sewing room (spare room converted - well, just the bed dismantled and my sewing table and boxes moved in - nothing fancy but mine, all mine!). It's the first time I've actively decided that I could make something that I need, instead of buying a new one in a store. I needed a new hot water bottle cover because my (pre-sewing days) hastily bought cheapo Big W one (which I've copied and improved on) is very badly made, ugly and uncomfortable. This one is soft and snugly! I need to work on my hand-stitching, which I don't enjoy, but I did enjoy figuring out how to layer all the pieces (6 in total) so that it all came together correctly. It's not the best picture but I still have a whole quiet house to myself, so I'm in a rush to make the most of the remaining time with a good book and a cup of jasmine green tea!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Reversible Bucket Hat

I finally made this a couple of days ago but it’s not been sunhat weather here on the Banana Coast until today. I’m very pleased with how the brim turned out  - all that topstitching (and unpicking!) took a while but it looks good, and I like the added stiffness too. I’ll probably make another, but next time I’ll not edge-stitch the top in the same way. It’s possible I misread the instructions to be honest, I think I was meant to edge-stitch the crown seam allowances to the side panels rather than edge-stitch the outer join between the crown and the side panels. Or something. Oops! The pattern instructions are otherwise  great, I think I just got a bit confused but never mind, it’s all a learning process. Miss M was happy to keep it on and it protects her well, which is the main thing! And I love the material, which was a lovely gift from a friend - thanks Marieka!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Jean Genie

Random Australian Fact: jeans come in only one length here. Long. No short, no regular, just long. Then you either give the store ten bucks on top of the price of the jeans and they send them off to be shortened, or you take them to a tailor. Or, you adjust them yourself. I wouldn't be happy doing that with a 100 dollar pair, but I have an old maternity pair from last winter (back then I couldn't see my ankles anyway and hence wasn't much bothered about roll-ups for a couple of months!), so I decided to practice on them. Short of travelling to Singapore to purchase regular length M&S jeans, adjusting them is my only future option, and why pay someone else?  They still fit ok as they're the very low rise maternity kind with a stretchy bump panel that I can fold over the waistband, so they'll do me for around the house this winter too.

The nice lady in Just Jeans at the Plaza explained to me how to get the length right a few weeks ago, when I was bemoaning the impossibility of finding jeans that fit (it's due to small population size, apparently - they tried selling different lengths but it just wasn't cost effective to stock them all). The trick is to have the jeans just touch the floor at the back of the heel when in stockinged feet, and pin. I used dark blue thread as that's what I had and they look fine, but next time I think I'll try and find a thread that matches the jean thread. Also I'll do a double-turned hem instead of a single hem with zigzag stitch on inside to prevent fraying. In hindsight I should have done some research first but I only had morning nap-time to satisfy my sewing craving, so I just grabbed the jeans as a quick project, and ran!

Sew's already Thursday afternoon and no sunhat! However, hat pattern has been chosen and material selected from stash. Just need some medium-weight sew-on interfacing and I'm good to go tomorrow afternoon - at least that's the plan!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Time Management (or lack thereof)

I haven’t managed to get any sewing done this past week, which makes me very sad. Well, that’s not entirely true, I did manage to sew a cute button on my nappy wallet. But that’s it! I’ve been struggling to stay on top of things on the home front and feeling quite overwhelmed by the chaos and clutter. I feel like I just don’t have time to do all the things I want to do on top of all the things I need to do; where do all the hours go, woe is me etc etc. No more!!! Time to take back control of my TIME! I’ve tried so many different schedules, routines, lists, regimes, none of them work...but I’ve found a new website that I think might just have the answer. Don’t want to speak too soon though so will hold my cards close to my chest for the time being! Meantime, I’ve hunted down some motivational quotes:

In truth, people can generally make time for what they choose to do; it is not really the time but the will that is lacking ~ Sir John Lubbock

Those who make the worse use of their time are the first to complain of its shortness ~ Jean De La Bruyere

The great dividing line between success and failure can be expressed in five words: “I did not have time.” ~ Franklin Field

You will never “find” time for anything. If you want time, you must make it. ~ Charles Bruxton

No idea who these blokes are and no time to google them (hee) but, they make sense. This week I want to make a new sunhat for my daughter, as she’s fast outgrowing the one I made at Easter and although it’s winter now, her little head still sometimes needs protection from the Australian sun. I am going to make the time!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Nappy Clutch

This morning I completed my study plan for the week which meant I could have my sewing fix. Yesss! I wanted to make an insert nappy bag that I could pop into my other bags to save all the repacking when I feel the urge to swap (which happens a lot as I have a bag thing; I don’t care much for shoes but bags are a different story). I had a couple of patterns in mind, happily made my choice and hit print only to realise I’m out of printer ink. Noooo! But then I thought hang on maybe I can just draw it myself, so I did. I changed the shape a little, and the orientation, cut my fabric and got to it. I designed the curve of the flap to match the curve on the bottom of the clutch but alas it was not to be - next time things need to be turned right side out I won’t leave the gap on a curve! Apart from that I’m happy with the result although I have to confess I’ve cheated with the Velcro - I bought stick-on instead of sew-on. Time will tell!

Thanks to Danni for putting the idea into my head, and to Trish for sharing the original pattern & tutorial by A Lemon Squeezy Home

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ugly Bug

Hmmmm. The pattern was for a “lovely ladybug” and it did indeed look quite lovely in the photo, but I seem to have ended up with a rather sinister looking beetle instead. My husband came home and said oh cool, is it a spider? My daughter seems to like him quite a lot though - those legs are nice to chew and he does a good roll.  But then my daughter likes most anything I do, she even likes my singing. Enough said! Not my favourite little project outcome but I did learn a good lesson about stuffing: use a safety pin to hold the stuffing down inside the head, limb or similar and then stitch the opening shut before attaching the stuffed piece to the body. Makes things a little easier!

My ugly bug is also special because he's made from fabric remnants I found earlier this month while rummaging in boxes in a dark corner of the Old Church Boutique in Nundle, which has raised thousands of dollars for the local community selling second hand clothes. So, he may not be the prettiest bug, but he's a very happy reminder of our first family holiday!
Pattern: Small Stash Sewing, Melissa Averinos, 2010, p99

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sewing Machine Cover

I used a heavier weight fabric than that suggested in the instructions, as I had some lined curtain remnant that I'd been longing to use because it's such a fun print. I also think it's more practical for this purpose than a light- or medium-weight cotton. Once all the pieces are assembled there's a slightly nerve-wracking moment where a square is sliced out of each sewn top corner. I couldn't quite get my head around what this would achieve and knew that getting it wrong at this point would mean completely wasted time and fabric. Fortunately the next step came together easily in the doing, and I had made my first box corners! Up until this point, however, everything was still inside out so I had no idea until the last moment what my efforts of the afternoon had produced. When I had finished poking everything right way out with my trusty chopstick I was pleasantly surprised!

Pattern: 101 Great Ways to Sew a Metre, Rebecca Yaker & Patricia Hoskins, 2010, p83

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Kreativ Blogger Award

We’re now back home having clocked over 1,000k through beautiful New England. It was our first family holiday and we had a blast! I’m happy to share that while we were away I was given the Kreativ Blogger Award  by Tat at Mum in search. What a lovely surprise! Thank you Tat.

According to the conditions of the award I must tell you 10 things about myself and also share the blog love by passing the award on to 10 more blogs. Here goes!

  • I married my backpacking romance (to those that thought it wouldn’t
  • I didn’t learn to drive until I was 36 (*blush* but I did pass first time!)
  • I love to sing but my voice is “like red hot needles in the ears” (quote, husband)
  • I absolutely adore Jon Bon Jovi!
  • I’ve lived in Spain, UK and Australia
  • I plan to breastfeed my baby until she’s 2+ (if she wants to)
  • My favourite book is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • I’m a feminist
  • I have an MA Honours degree in Hispanic Studies
  • I can’t wait to take my daughter backpacking in Southeast Asia (soon I hope!)
Sharing the blog love with:
Finally, I must say that New England country towns are full of sewing inspiration and I'm happy to be reunited with my machine! Today I got my fix and made it a cover, which I'll be sharing next time :-)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

From the road

Mama’s not in the sewing room at the moment - we’ve been on a road trip in beautiful New England for the last week, staying in Armidale, Inverell & now Glen Innes. My husband and I have both travelled a lot but this is our first time on the road with our baby girl and we were a little apprehensive! Turns out, however, that just taking it a little slower and planning one step ahead is all it takes to incorporate 8 month old Miss M into our travel adventures, and despite one very big top front tooth working its way down a little more each day, she’s having a ball. In fact, sometimes I think she might burst with sheer delight! We’d planned to be home in a couple of days but we’re having such a good time we’ve decided to let the wind carry us a little further and we’re heading for Nundle tomorrow. This means the diving is once again postponed, but as my husband has pointed out, it’s probably not a bad thing given that the arm my GP referred for physio before we left is getting worse and hefting tanks around right now would probably not be wise. So, it’s mighty chilly here in Celtic Country but the sun is shining, baby is sleeping, husband has gone fossicking and this mama is free to curl up warm and snug on the sofa with a mug of tea and a good book. Bliss! Plus, guess what? Mama’s Sewing Room has been given an award! I’m so chuffed!! Net access drops constantly here at our little cottage in the trees and I’m on a tiny notebook too, so I’ll share more about this lovely news when we get back home. As it is I’ll have to venture outside and stand on a giant boulder out front to try and get a signal to post this. I know I have a few comments, if signal strength allows I’ll respond to those too, if not thanks so much for stopping by and I’ll respond as soon as Optus allows. For now, warmest wishes from New England in all its Autumn glory!

Friday, May 6, 2011

5 more things I have learned

  1. Always put your foot down. Otherwise bad things will happen and maddeningly you won’t know why, until the realisation slowly dawns that it's because the stupid foot wasn’t down.
  2. When stuffing the limbs of dolls, a melamine chopstick is an excellent tool.
  3. Particularly when making small or fiddly things, there's a neater way of securing the threads than using the reverse-sewing lever. Instead, at the beginning and end pull gently on the top thread and you’ll see a tiny loop. Gently pull on the loop and the back thread (from the bobbin) will come out on the front too, and you can secure the threads by tying them together (The Sewing Book by Alison Smith, p92).
  4. Masking tape is useful for securing baking paper on top of a pattern or piece of fabric when tracing.
  5. There will never again be enough hours in the day (or night) now that the sewing bug has bit me on the ass!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bias trimmed bib

I decided to have a go at applying bias binding and chose this small project for my first attempt. The pattern calls for iron-on vinyl which sounded interesting, but they don’t sell it at Spotlight (OMG there’s something they don’t sell at Spotlight!) and I wasn’t intrigued enough to try and source it online so I did without. The pattern itself is very easy to follow although I needed to use the more detailed instructions from Jane Bolsover’s book to learn to apply bias binding. It was sooo tricky! I did make the mistake of buying a pre-cut bias binding that was slightly too narrow which made for much harder sewing, and the edges came loose in a couple of places because my stitches didn’t all catch the fabric between the bias. I think a wider bias strip and perhaps a less curvy project would have been better for a first attempt at this skill! I had to unpick and redo a little which was incredibly tricky, as was the part where the ends of the bias strip join. Fortunately I’d heeded the pattern instructions to start and finish around the neck piece, so the flaws are less noticeable when worn. In hindsight I think a Velcro circle or a press stud instead of a Velcro strip piece would look a little nicer.  This was a difficult little project for me but I learned a lot!

Pattern: Oliver + S Little Things to Sew, Liesl Gibson, 2011, p71

Monday, May 2, 2011

Scuba update

So I’m all psyched up for tomorrow’s scheduled dives. I’m up for it! I’ve also come to terms with the prospect of publicly squeezing my post-baby body into a wetsuit whilst trying to keep my balance on deck - not the most elegant activity at the best of times and my body’s been through quite a bit since I was last on a dive boat.  I’ve expressed and frozen enough mama milk. I’ve even dealt with my Motherguilt regarding leaving my baby on dry land and strapping a tank of oxygen onto my back before descending into an ocean full of sharks (one hopes anyway, that’s the whole point of diving here, grey nurse sharks). And then late this afternoon I get a call from Jetty Dive to tell me it’s all off because conditions are too rough!! Rescheduled for week after next. Fingers crossed for calmer seas!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

5 things I have learned

I’ve been sewing for about 6 weeks now and am enjoying it more every day, from selecting and completing projects to browsing the internet for inspiration to wandering around Spotlight asking stupid questions such as “where is the bias binding please? Oh so sorry, I thought that was a display of ribbons!”.  I’ve found so many great sewing websites, tutorials, free patterns and blogs online and have also very much enjoyed a couple of sewing book splurges on Amazon during the free p&p to Australia offer that ends (probably fortunately) in about 2 weeks.  I've also enjoyed a great many pleasant chats both on and offline with other sewing mamas - who knew there was such a vast and vibrant sewing community out there! These are some of the things that I’ve learned on my sewing journey so far:
  1. Check the tension on a scrap every single time the machine is rethreaded or a different type of fabric is used, otherwise much angst and unpicking will surely follow.
  2. Clip thread diagonally and it will be easier to thread; better still, have one of those funny looking needle threaders handy at all times (preferably several, either that or stop throwing them in the bin by accident).
  3. Always iron material before doing anything with it, even if it was ironed a while ago and doesn’t really look that creased, as laziness spoils results.
  4. Always iron on fusible interfacing before cutting - I don’t know why exactly but I read it in The Sewing Book by Alison Smith (my trusty companion) and it makes sense to me as otherwise you have to cut and fuse everything separately,  which sounds like a drag.
  5. Tacking (also known as basting but that makes me think of turkey) is a very good idea. I tack most everything on advice of Jane Bolsover (Sewing Machine Basics). Obviously it does take longer but it keeps me straight and also stops me being stabbed by pins or getting my finger caught under the foot trying to remove them. Perhaps one day I shall be skilled enough not to have to tack pretty much everything, but until then I am a happy tacker!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fabric box

I’ve browsed quite a number of online fabric box tutorials and chose this one because the video instructions are super clear and there’s no measuring involved, you just need 10 squares of fabric (I quickly drew round a cardboard template for each) plus interfacing. I didn’t have any heavy weight interfacing so I just used medium weight fusible, which I ironed on before cutting and sewing my squares. This means my box is not as rigid but because there’s interfacing on every square, it still gives sufficient structure. The base is attached using a hand-sewn blind stitch which I found a bit tricky, so my box has one base edge that's not really very neat and then the stitches become progressively “blinder” toward the fourth edge :-)


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mama’s baggy trousers

Had much fun making these pyjama pants today out of a doona cover I picked up in an op shop with intention of using the fabric to practice on. Simple design concept, but a nice challenge for the novice sewer. Good practice in neatening seam edges with zigzag stitch, and stitching a double-turned hem.  I hemmed the legs on the wrong side by accident but they turned out looking nicer that way so I’ll pretend it was deliberate :-) Consulted The Sewing Book by Alison Smith for instruction on how to construct a casing for the waist elastic. My finished waist is slightly loose and not very decorative, but they’re not falling down so I’ll consider them a success - in fact they are most comfortable and I shall be off to bed in them soon!

Inspired by: & my friend Danni :-)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Traveller's Tales

Great day today hanging out with friends and talking about TRAVEL. I first met Narelle in Singapore in 2004 when we did an Intrepid tour together through Malaysia and Thailand. I made it up to Cairns to see her in 2005 and we kept in touch after I went back to the UK. In 2009 it was Narelle that picked me and my husband up from the airport in Brisbane when we immigrated. She came down here last Easter too with her partner and since then I’ve entered the world of Motherhood and felt like I lost myself for a little while there.  My daughter is almost 8 months old now though and I finally feel like I’m coming through the other side, the mist is clearing. As I said in a previous post, I’m getting into my own personal mama groove. I’m figuring out how I want to do things, and starting to remember my world view that got hidden beneath the madness of early motherhood. Seeing Narelle again and talking about the trip we did together and all the other travelling we’ve done between us and our partners was such a buzz. A timely reminder of that big wide world out there and how much I still want to explore it, this time with my daughter by my side. I even feel less anxious about next week’s scuba dive, because I’m remembering the me that I used to be.  I’m still here, I just got sucked into some repetitive themes and settled cosily into small town mama life. Nothing wrong with that and I do love our life here. But I also know that I love travel and I love adventure. And with a few small modifications to incorporate a certain fabulous little miss, there is a great deal of travel and adventure still to be had. Bring it on!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Scuba mama!

My husband got me a voucher for 2 scuba dives for christmas and I've been too scared to book them - madness after more than 50 dives in the last 6 years but it's been a couple of years since my last dive and The Fear has returned. However, this week I got into my pre-pregnancy jeans (just!) and on the back of that little burst of confidence I marched into the local dive shop this morning and booked myself in for May 3rd (after checking that breasts containing milk do not explode under pressure). Feeling pretty anxious about it but I did so love to dive and as a friend pointed out to me, I need to focus on what I loved about it and get back out there. I think part of my fear stems from being a mum now - before there was just me to think about and I was quite gung-ho. Not so much these days. However, I've struggled quite a lot with my sense of self since becoming a mum 7 months ago and while I feel that I'm in a pretty good mama groove now, these dives might just give me that extra boost I need to remember that I'm still me despite the sometimes overwhelming changes that have occurred in my life since my daughter was born. I think I'm gonna feel pretty empowered if I manage to pull this off. Yay!

All of which doesn't have anything to do with sewing but hey it's my diary and I'll digress if I want to! I did sort out my study plan last night so I popped up to Spotlight today, and got some fabric markers. Tailor's chalk not working for me, nor lead pencil, but more of that another day...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sew distracted!

I started my Diploma of Counselling in February last year and I'm more than half way through now, having had a few months off around my daughter's birth and then managing to get heaps done when she was 3-5 months because she used to sleep about 6 hours a day. Note I said used to - not anymore!  After I completed another set of practical assessments in late February this year I decided to give myself a break from the studying because I was putting too much pressure on myself to finish the whole course as quickly as possible and things were starting to get on top of me. Problem is that during my designated "time out", I discovered this sewing thang! Now I really need to get stuck back into the study, firstly because I want to complete it and then see what my next step in that direction is going to be, but also because once it's completed I will be free to sew without guilt! I'm discovering so many fabulous sewing books, blogs and websites and all of them are inspiring me to sew, sew, sew - but the nagging in the back of my brain is getting louder and louder and it's time to dedicate some time to the diploma again. I'm kind of an "all or nothing" person so it might not be easy to find a balance in my spare time that I'm happy with but I need to start somewhere so I'm starting today. This afternoon I cut out some really cute alphabet fabric legs for Dolly Mark 3. Didn't get any further because Miss M is a bit under the weather and didn't nap well today, she needed those extra mummy cuddles and love and goes without saying that everything else goes out the window when my girly needs me. Now she's gone to sleep though and I would love to get cutting and sewing but I must be strict - my plan for this evening is to get the big laptop set up with the monitor, mouse, keyboard, clear the desk space of clutter, get out Workbook 11 and figure out where I'm at and what needs to be done next. My reward? A little visit to Spotlight tomorrow :D

Monday, April 18, 2011

Oliver + S

No time to do anything sewing-related today but very excited to receive this book in today's Amazon parcel - it looks just wonderful, full of the most gorgeous things!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spotlight, how I love thee!

Braved the torrential rain today and drove up to the other end of town to pick up some brown cord and some pink, purple, yellow & blue butterfly flannelette at 20% off.  I’m planning to make a pinafore dress for Miss M, to be worn over a long sleeve t-shirt and tights now the weather has turned; also some winter PJs. I got some felt for dolly hair in purple with thread to match, also brown felt in case I’m not feeling quite so purple when the time comes! Plus I picked up a cheapie fleece blanket for winter eves on the sofa for only $8 using this month’s 20% off magazine voucher. Had a good rummage in the remnants bin too and found almost a meter of very pretty pale blue paisley style cotton for a few dollars, am sure I’ll be able to make good use of that once my new books arrive. I remembered to take my reusable Spotlight bag and had my card stamped - that’ll be 20% off once I have another 3 stamps. Every little helps!

Tomorrow is quite busy as I have a docs appointment first thing and then I’m on the phones at Lifeline 12.30-5.30 but I hope to get the fabric cut for my third-time-lucky dolly.  Now, to bed with “C” by Tom McCarthy, shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2010 and truly arduous but am persevering because it’s for Book Club, and also because it’s become a challenge to turn every single dull and confusing page, and I’m stubborn and refusing to let it beat me!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Learning Curves

I was not at all happy with the dolly when I went back to it this afternoon. Neck crumpled and one underarm needed several stitches. Possibly rectifiable, but I then stitched the legs aligned to the left instead of centre.  They are so fiddly!! Alas, I think this dolly will not be making its way to Victoria. However, it’s all a learning process. The first doll I made lives on a shelf in my daughter’s room, she looks very pretty despite having one leg longer than the other *smile* but I fear she wouldn’t withstand being chewed by my little one. This dolly can join that one, and I’m sure Miss M will love them both despite their flaws once she is a little older.  As for Becca’s dolly, well, third time lucky!

Amazon is still offering free postage to Australia so I ordered a few more sewing books this morning, just couldn’t resist! Topics are children’s clothes, storage, fat quarter & one metre projects, and bags. Can’t wait for them to arrive!
Going out with some mums this evening for cake and catch-up. Some of them have been sewing for a long time, a couple even sell on Facebook and locally. Listening to them chatting about sewing at mums meets and having a look at the things they were making is what motivated me to buy my Brother XL-2230. Inspirational sewing mamas!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Love in Every Stitch

My lovely auntie in Yorkshire sent me some really cute hand-knitted cardigans for my daughter and in one of the accompanying cards she wrote "Love in every stitch". I thought that was so sweet, and when my friend asked if she could "order" a doll when she saw the one I made last month, I told her I was already planning to gift her daughter one and said that there would be love in every wonky stitch. Well, wonky is the operative word because I've been working on Becca's dolly this evening and her arms and neck are a bit skewy to say the least! I got all the pieces cut out while Miss M was sleeping today and stitched the arms, legs and hair. After I got back from the gym and had dinner I sat down knackered, ready to veg in front of Grumpy Old Women on ABC1...but I couldn't stop thinking about the unfinished doll sitting (or more acurately lying in bits) on my sewing table! It's a bit addictive this sewing lark. However, it's now gone 10pm and I'm very tired, can't seem to get the legs on right, they are not as fiddly as the arms but a bit difficult nevertheless and I'm probably better off coming back to it afresh some time tomorrow. Otherwise she's going to have rather funny looking legs, and her arms already require some surgery!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Doorstop Mark 2

Miss M had her first major all-out pre-nap tantrum today which put a spanner in my schedule somewhat *smile* but nevertheless I managed to make another doorstop in several sittings throughout the day. When I made my first doorstop using this pattern I didn’t have any interfacing  - in fact I didn’t know what interfacing was! However, last time I was at Spotlight I made sure I got some for my stash (get my sewing lingo lol) and here I’ve used a medium weight non-woven fusible interfacing. It’s turned out so much better than my first doorstop, due to the rigidity given by the interfacing and also because, following Jane Bolsover’s advice, I tacked (basted) everything before machine stitching. This does take extra time but it’s worth it as I was able to sew a lot more neatly. I also made good use of my new manual “The Sewing Book” by Alison Smith, which has great instructions on how to apply a fusible interfacing.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Itching to get stitching!

It's not always easy to find the time to sew when you have a 7 month old baby girl. I used to wonder what SAHM's did all day. Ha! And I just have the one - more power to all those mamas out there who have 2, 3, 4 + !! It's taken me quite a while to find my mummy feet but now at last I feel like I'm getting into my groove...and conincidentally it's around this same time that I've discovered sewing. All the mummies round here seem to sew and I decided to find out what this Spotlight obsession I kept hearing about was all about. Now, I get it! This morning my Spotlight VIP catalogues arrived, announcing 20% off baby fabrics & cord fabrics. I'm dying to get up there and stock up on all sorts of gorgeous fabrics with which to stitch - winter PJs & pinafores for my girly are my plan. Amongst a million other things!! After several months of implementing new household management systems, all of which failed, I realised yesterday that I'm really looking for a system that takes away the need to clean. Not gonna happen, obviously. However, I figure if I split the major housework into a manageable chunk each weekday while Miss M's having her morning nap, and keep on top of everything by doing a bit more in the evening (paperwork, gym, studying) instead of vegging in front of the TV or Facebook, and getting up a bit earlier, then about 3 days a week I should be able to sew in the afternoons when she has her second nap, and for a bit when her Dad comes home from work and takes over for bathtime & bedtime duties.

Right now, I'm ready to hit the sack but I want to take up some curtains for our bedroom. That'll be another job crossed off my list plus a little bit more practice with my sewing machine. I'm starting small to learn all the basics, and reading sewing books and blogs whenever I get a mo. I feel like I'm discovering something special that's going to become a great passion in my life. I never saw it coming, but looks like I'm going to be one of those Sewing Mamas!