Sunday, January 31, 2010

Procrastination pro

Is it ironic, or just unfortunate, that whilst in the throes of a writing brownout, I have two job applications to write? I've been sitting at this computer since 10 am, and in that time I've made a shopping list, chatted with a neighbour, washed and hung a load of towels, had lunch, taken photos of my weirdo eggplants and checked out some inspiration on Wardrobe Refashion. I had promised myself that if I got most of the application out of the way I would sew for the rest of the afternoon and leave the application to ferment until tomorrow morning.

I don't think that skirt is going to get sewn today.

My strategy for job applications is to do a complete brain dump - I separate the criteria and make notes like "mention current role in assessing data analysis requirements for xxx" and "talk about setting up forum by identifying problem, working on solution by implementing strategies for improved communication". Actually, that's most of what I've written so far.

I'm pathetic, but by Jove I'm a mighty procrastinator.

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Here are some photos of the weirdo eggplants we are growing, just because they are so beautiful. The Mister bought these unlabelled plants at the farmers' market and has no idea what they are.



Friday, January 29, 2010

Webbed fingers and mermaid tails

~float~, originally uploaded by Lisa at TSS.

I seem to have lost my words and thoughts. I haven't felt inclined to write, photograph or sketch ideas for what seems like ages, but is probably only a couple of weeks.

My addiction to the tennis may be partly to blame.

I've been swimming. A lot. Every morning a lot. I'm wearing Eau de Chlorine and my skin is tanned and itchy. I can't imagine starting my day any other way, and I'm dreading that inevitable day in March when the pool closes for the winter.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Icecream talks

After I made my first lot of icecream a year ago, I bought an icecream attachment for my Kenwood Chef. From that moment on, there really has been no stopping me. I've made blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, mango, passionfruit and mango ...

... and now rhubarb. I used a recipe from Sugarlaws and rhubarb from my garden. Oh, that icecream looks so beautiful and pink and cool! But I was going to have a problem. Can you see what it might be?

Rhubarb from the garden

What about now?

Rhubarb in the pan

I worked out by this point that my results were going to be, well, interesting. And hopefully delicious.

Rhubarb ice cream

And yes, it is delicious. I've never seen ecru coloured icecream before, but I suppose that is what happens when three of your rhubarb plants are green varieties, and only one is red.

In what may be a plan doomed to failure due to our own laziness, we have decided to only eat homemade icecream this year. While we are not usually huge icecream quaffers, we do like a spot of vanilla on homemade apple crumble in winter. In the meantime I'm going to keep trying different ice cream recipes ... and then I'm going to try even more! And I have plans later on the weekend for these little fellas.


Plumcots from my workmate's garden. She has an enormous crop and doesn't make jam, so we've been eating them every day at work since last week. Today she brought me in my own bag of plumcotty goodness, just for icecream. Bless.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blue and green

I finally finished my blouse last night after first cutting it out exactly two weeks ago. My return to work and the heat conspired against me finishing it earlier, but it's done now so I can move onto other projects.

McCalls 5640 View A

I have made this blouse (McCall's 5640 View A)) twice before, and since making that first one I now make it four sizes smaller than from my usual measurements, and then I take another 4 inches from the front and the back. Otherwise I find it has the tendency to look like a giant flouncy mumu rather than the simple and elegant yoked blouse I want it to be. I don't think it's a great pattern, and there is far too much hand sewing involved to make me a happy lass, but it does make a great top for hot summer days, and it also does a great job of featuring pretty fabrics without buttons and princess seams* and darts getting in the way.

The fabric is a printed self-striped shirting I bought about five years ago from Lincraft. I was attracted to the vintageness of the print and was going to make a skirt from it, but it would have needed lining and I love lining as much as I love hand sewing. In hindsight I should have bought more of it and then made it into a shift dress, a la the movie An Education (a movie which, incidentally, I hated. It promised so much, and delivered so little, except aggravation and beautiful 1960s fashions).

But for all my gripes about the pattern adjustments and the hand sewing, I know I will make this top again and again. Next time I aim to add some short sleeves to it - I think that would make it a nice blouse for work.

* Because Jodie and Michelle asked, here is a definition for princess seams, amongst other sewing terms.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Eggy inspiration

On the weekend I made pavlova. I'd never made pavlova before. I know - I find this very hard to believe too. With the bestie arriving for the weekend and the promise of lots of berries at the first farmers' market of the year on Saturday morning, I thought a pav was in order. I was inspired by a post from Nic from Yardage Girl. She posted about her pavlova and included her recipe.


And it was delicious! Thanks Nic! Chewy, just the way I like my pav, and perfect with the ice cream. For lunch on Saturday I made bruschetta with tomatoes from our garden, and we sat under the elm having the nicest time. The pavlova was the perfect dessert for a hot day ... and then it rained. Lovely!

This week I have a couple of dilemmas. One is how to find more hours in the day for my clothes sewing and some other projects I'm involved in. I could stop watching the telly, but the tennis is on and I can't miss that. I could sleep less, but I kinds like my sleep when I can get it. I might just have to move the sewing room into the lounge room.

My second dilemma is more immediate. How am I supposed to go swimming early tomorrow morning when it is going to be only 7 degrees? Swim in full thermals over my Speedos? Think warm thoughts? Stay in bed and swim double the laps on Thursday when it's supposed to be 14 degrees again?

I'm thinking c) Eddie. Lock it in.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Life's candy and the sun's a ball of butter

Mango and Passionfruit icecream

Oh, it's been so hot here. Too hot for cooking, cleaning, sorting, or icecream making. Late on those hot nights, I would crank the fan up in the sewing room, put the soundtrack to Glee on the little stereo, and sew, sweat, unpick and swear, then sweat and unpick some more until the soundtrack was over. Then I knew I'd definitely had enough, so I'd pack up, have a cold shower and head to bed. It hasn't been a very productive week for sewing as a result, but I do have a top mostly finished except for the hand sewn yoke, and I also have a Barbra Streisand song (and a little bit of Rolling Stones) in my head, thanks to Glee.

Yes, I am a Gleek, and proud of it.

It's cooler tonight, but I don't think there will be any sewing for a few days. Our bestie is coming to visit this weekend so tonight I made mango and passionfruit icecream for her. I think icecream making and cool changes go well together, and I also think it might be my best icecream yet.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wardrobe Refashion

Late last year, I took the Wardrobe Refashion Two Month Pledge. I've pledged that I won't buy anything new and that all clothing must be recycled, renovated, preloved or thrifted, or handmade only. Thankfully there is a get out of jail free card, which is lucky because I've already used it on a jade green silk shirt that was so beautiful and so on sale that I just couldn't leave it there for someone else to buy.

In the meantime, sewing activity has slowed to a dead stop due to this blasted heatwave we are having in Canberra. The sewing room is not the coolest room in the house, so we've been spending a lot of time instead with ice blocks and iced tea in front of a fan and the tennis on the telly. Which is a shame, because the sewing backlog now looks like this.

Sewing queue

To compound matters, yesterday there was a shopping trip to Spotlight and now I'm obligated to make a lined skirt, a blouse and a frock. Not that I'm complaining, mind.

Saturday, January 9, 2010



On Tuesday morning my order arrived from Tessuti Fabrics. Within half an hour I had washed and hung the fabric on the line.


And half an hour after that, owing to the heat and the lack of humidity, the fabric was dry. A few hours later, I had made another skirt, my fourth.

Skirt # 4

I wore it today for the first time and got a lot of compliments, including from a random lady at the swimming pool. Unfortunately (and for some unknown reason - I used the same Butterick 6841 pattern I used for skirts 2 and 3) it is a bit (a lot) big for me, so I'll be looking at either taking the darts in and replacing the waistband, or, owing to this little detail near the bottom region, switching the back around and remaking it.

Home Sewing is easy - detail

(Arms coming out my butt. Nice. I only wish I had paid more attention when cutting the pattern out. Nevertheless, it has provided a great deal of hilarity from the Mister and my friends at the Queanbeyan Stitch and Bitch.)

The fabric is pretty awesome. When I saw it, I couldn't help myself and put it straight in the shopping cart. It's an Alexander Henry patchwork fabric and makes this feminist sewist laugh. A lot.

Home Sewing is easy - detail

Home Sewing is easy - detail

And laughing can only be a good thing (except when you're drinking a cup of tea and it comes out your nose).

Sunday, January 3, 2010

And the first frock

I haven't made a frock for about ten years, probably because long zippers scare the bejeebers out of me. Yes I am aware of the fact I have made hundreds of zippered pouches (and three skirts), but they use 8 inch zips and a dress uses a 24 inch one. I get a bit "Hold me, I'm scared" and sweaty all at the same time when faced with the task. This dress did not disappoint in the scary zipper department.

Dress #1

The zipper mainly got scary because I used a cotton fabric which had a touch of elastane. Elastane is stretchy and that gets scary when the fabric wants to go in different directions when sewing on a zipper. It all turned out OK though, because once I'd removed the basting stitches in the zipper opening, I ironed it really well (one of the reasons I only use cotton thread is that it doesn't melt when you are getting fierce with the iron). Result = good looking zip. Not perfect, but I don't do perfect so that's OK.

I used the Burda 8379 pattern for the first time ever. It looks pretty much like the photo indicates it will, however the measurements were off and instead of the hips having 3 inches of ease, I had to let a lot of seam out of the waist and hips just so it would fit nicely. I love the vintage look of the pattern - the sweetheart neckline and wide shoulders and self sleeve have that 1950s house dress look, but without the waistband. I'm going to make it again, but I might make the waist and hips a size bigger, and the neckline a size smaller. I'd also like to experiment with thin sashing on the waist.

Fabric of dress

I bought the fabric in Cabramatta a few years ago when I went to Sydney on a TASDA trip. It was $2 a metre at one of those crazy indoor/outdoor fabric shops where you wave to the Vietnamese man from the outside of the store and he comes out with a one metre ruler and cuts the fabric straight from the bolt and takes your money. Sure beats standing in the queue at Spotlight.

And while we're on the topic of dresses, did anyone else spot the fab dress Therese Rein was wearing the other day at the reception for the cricketers at Kirribilli House? It was so very Betty Draper.

theresereindress theresereindress2
(Images from Getty Images)

Now - what to sew next? I still have two and a half days of staycation, heaps of fabric and another day or so until the Tessuti shipment arrives. A blouse? Another skirt? Or perhaps I should just go and watch the tennis...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The third skirt

This skirt only took 90 minutes from cutting to hemming, was finished on December 30 and worn on December 31.

Skirt #3

The pattern is the same as for the blue skirt I made the other day (Butterick 6841) and the fabric is from Tessuti Fabrics in Surry Hills. I fell in love the moment I laid eyes on the bolt. The Mister, sitting comfortably on the Tessuti-provided sofa asked "but what top will go with that?". Silly boy. Any top goes with it. Red, maroon, white, black. Here I'm wearing Amanda with it, but I've been busy refashioning some bloody awful peasant tops I bought in Autograph back in spring. (I think I was desperate at the time, not being able to find any tops at all. So now I have three tops in different colours, thankfully all taken up and nipped in and now wearable and comfortable and a little more flattering.)

So now I have three skirts made and a dress cut out (and hopefully it will be made by the end of today). I'm working furiously through my very sizeable fabric stash because, well, I bought some more fabric in the Tessuti's sale, and the parcel will be arriving in the next couple of days. Oops.