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!