Saturday, July 24, 2010

Takeaway project sacks

So here's the deal. I have five takeaway project sacks and lots of other goodies in my Etsy store, but at exactly 2 pm Sunday 25 July 2010, I will be putting myself and Buttontree Lane on holidays, and taking what I have sold to the post office to send off.

If you want something, you'd better go and get it as I won't be doing an update for at least a fortnight!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Skirt week - Mum-made non-skirts of 1986

Cam over at Curlypops has instigated "Flashback Friday Fashion Fail - The Debutante Edition" . I have to say that I fail at the Flashback Friday Fashion Fail, firstly because I didn't have a deb, and secondly because I don't think I had any fashion failures. I love (and still love!) everything I wore and my mum made it all.

Here's a shining example - my senior formal in 1986.

Senior formal - 1986

I really, really wanted to wear a red dress, but I remember having to ask permission of the Senior Mistress at school. I don't know why - something about the year being 1986 and what was considered "decent" for 16 year olds. While some of the girls at school were flying to Brisbane to sort out their formal dresses (I know - really), Mum and I were at Gardams (when Townsville had a Gardams) and Carrols on Saturday mornings picking out the perfect shade of red in waterwave taffeta. I loved this dress - from the semi-puff sleeves to the crossover lower back, from the boatneck to the V in the bodice. Not such a fan of the white court shoe though. The bloke was kind of cute I suppose.

Senior speech night - 1986

A month or so later I had my speech night. I think Flo Bjelke-Petersen was the guest speaker that night and all the mums brought  a plate of pumpkin scones to share for supper after. Gosh - we knew how to draw a guest speaker at Pimlico High, we did. My Oma was there that night, I remember, and I wore another mum-made dress. Another hit - red and white striped, drop waist, square neck, multi-directional. It broke all the rules for horizontal stripes.Very fashion-forward for 1986.

And now back to July 1986 for the Townsville Show, which I went to with my friend Suzanne every year. By 1986 Suzanne had left school and was an apprentice hairdresser. She was much more a woman of the world than I was (even though we were both 16).

Townsville Show - 1986

Yet again, I'm wearing mum-made by way of the shirt. I think it was a flannel with a thin black stripe. I remember feeling pretty smashing in it, and then I asked mum to make my a black tie and she obliged. Obviously Suzanne and I coordinated what were were going to wear that night - it was the biggest social event of the year in Townsville, after all. Those jeans are kind of strange though. Ugh.

Cam has a linky thing at the bottom of her post, and you can see some truly excellent examples of fashion fails when it comes to formal wear. Go and check it out!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My creative space - skirting the skirt

Earlier this week I was all about the skirt, but now that I'm deep into the working week with three job interviews and a big trip to pack for there is not much inclination for making skirts until the weekend. I have been continuing with my habit of spending an hour in the sewing room most nights though, and I'm hoping by Friday night we'll have an Etsy shop update of these sack bags.

Bags ready for pressing and lining

The crocheting of beanies for my friends continues. The olive green beanie from last week has already been given to Julie, and she is enjoying wearing it on her pre-dawn dog-walks up Mt Ainslie. Helen's orange beanie and Susan's red beanie are all finished bar the weaving in of ends and the buttons.

Crocheting the last of the hats

Anne's cinnamon one is taking me forever - I briefly got sick of making the same style of beanie and ventured into a pattern which could best be described as "adventurous". Four nights later I realised it wasn't working for me, so I've gone back to the bog standard Durango Hat, or variations of it. I also realised a couple of days ago that another friend, Barbara, was joining us in Alice, so I'm making her a hat too. And I don't have one in the Durango style of my own, and I think I need one. So that's six hats. Should make an truly excellent photo of the six of us in the desert! Lucky I love crocheting.

This time next week I'll be hiking in the desert and enjoying my own creative space with my camera. I am so excited I can hardly wait. In the meantime see Kootoyoo for more creative space fun.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Skirt week - Inspiration

Photo from RoseGlen. Photo not related to any of the links below - it's just a really pretty skirt. 

Sewing on a machine never came naturally to me, even though I have crafted since I was a wee girl. My mum sewed most of my clothes for me growing up, and all the way through university. I had no desire to use a sewing machine when mum did such a splendid job of clothing me, but eventually I moved 2500 km from home with a machine inherited from my Oma, and I knew it was time. I bought a McCalls pattern and some madras cotton, and made a pair of summer pyjamas. Then all my friends got a pair of madras pyjamas too and I started making skirts, shirts and jackets to wear to work, and before I knew it I discovered that I was hooked on sewing and had been for quite some time without noticing it.

Almost twenty years and three sewing machines later, I find myself here, constantly inspired by others, and always searching for that next great idea or sewing tip.  Here's some I thought I would share with you.

Add pockets to your skirts. I have a problem with forgetting about the pockets on skirts and dresses. The patterns I use don't have them, and I always get to the last stitch on the skirt realise I've forgotten. Come spring and hayfever season, I'll be cursing my lack of pockets as I'll have nowhere to put my handkerchief except inside my bra strap, and that's never a good look. This tutorial teaches you how to insert an inseam (internal) pocket into your skirt, and includes the template as well. But this pocket is more my style - a pleated, rounded pocket. Perfect.

The 20 minute skirt tutorial. This is great for thinner girls (for plus sized use two lengths of fabric), but what I got most out of this tutorial is that the fabric you use really is important. The 20 minute skirt used two rectangles of fabric, a casing and some elastic. So simple, but the effect of using excellent fabric makes the skirt, not the design of the skirt itself.

The scrap wrap skirt. Leonie from Raglan Guld has given us a how-to for a simple wrap skirt made from scraps. The best bit is that her tutorial guides you through how to draft the pattern for your skirt, based on your measurements.  Bewdy.

Easy pleated skirt. A free tutorial from Threads magazine which walks you through the process for drafting your own pattern for a pleated skirt. I can't wait to try this out.

Photo from Naturemomm. Photo not related to any of the links above - it's just another really pretty skirt.

Skirt on a wide elastic band. I've seen these handmade skirts around the blogs and they always make a feature of great fabrics. Now I've found a step by step tutorial. And it has pockets.

Another pleated skirt. But this one is more casual. But very pretty. I really want to try this out.

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There are so many inspiring websites to check out, including Youtube. So what about you? Which sites have you found lately that make you want to drag your sewing machine out and make yourself something beautiful?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Skirt week - Grey Plaid Typing Pool


Except for the fact that I leave for work in the morning when it is below freezing and get home again in the dark, you wouldn't normally see this skirt in this state. Washing it would give it a chance for the bulbousness around the waist darts to settle down. I only finished it on Sunday morning while it was still too cold to get out in the garden, and then I forgot to give it a soak. And Sunday was the only chance to do any photographing outside. Oh well - at least you get to see what happens when you don't wash finished products!

Grey wool plaid skirt

This is another tartan/plaid wool blend fabric from Spotlight, but I think it may have more wool in it - maybe up to 50%. It was certainly a lot more ironable, and much less soapy feeling than the red tartan skirt when I was working with it. I decided on a bigger hem, and now you get to see my kneeeeees. The Mister doesn't like the grey tights with the skirt, but I do. A lot. I have three interviews this week - I wonder which one I will wear this outfit to?

Future skirt fabrics

And now I have these fabrics to look forward to sewing. I'm not sure they'll get made this week or after I return from Central Australia but they will be made! That's the best thing about winter-weight skirts - you can wear them from Autumn through to Spring here in Canberra.

I think I might need some amethyst coloured tights to go with the polka dot corduroy!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Skirt week - Appley

I was in Spotlight a few weeks ago buying up big on wool blend when I came across the most bizarre fabric. It was a lightweight denim cotton with embroidered red apples on it.

Denim apple skirt - fabric

Sure it was a kid's fabric ... but I couldn't help myself. I had to have it and make a skirt from it. There were a few problems with holes in the fabric, but the store offered me extra so I could fussy cut the pattern, and a couple of days later I had myself a very appley skirt to take to Melbourne. I used red thread for the whole skirt, and a red zipper too. I was going to use red ric rac on the hem, but I thought that might be overkill. So I wear red tights with it instead.

Denim apple skirt

Tights are We Love Colors, again, but this time in red. This skirt and tights combo is a current favourite of mine, and I'm going to shake the public service up on Friday when I wear it on what is probably going to be my last day at work. And maybe I'll create an apple pie chart with some cinnamon data as my farewell present to people I have loved, loved, loved working with for the last ten months. That would be fitting.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Skirt week

Even though I've been promising everyone I'll have more project sacks made and on Etsy soon, I couldn't help myself and made a skirt last night. Not the skirt in the creative space post last Thursday (although that is the middle of being sewn up as I type) but a second skirt cut out at the same time, from the same pattern. Clever!

Red tartan skirt

Or so I thought. On spreading the fabric out on my cutting board, I discovered that I had  bought only 120 cm of fabric for each skirt, not the 160 cm I usually buy. So this skirt (and the one currently being sewn) is a shorty with a very small hem. Not so bad I suppose, when you wear tights with it.

My mum sewed most of my clothes when I was growing up, and if there's one thing I learnt from her it was to match up your stripes and checks on the side seams. Sorry Mum - the stripes definitely don't match! And this is the problem when you fail to buy enough fabric.

Red tartan skirt

I bought the fabric from Spotlight. It's a wool blend, with an emphasis on the "blend". I think there is only about 15% wool in this, which is only an issue when trying to press it - I just couldn't get sharply pressed seams and hems. Still, the fabric is a beauty - only $14.99 a metre, nicely woven and thick enough and smooth enough for the skirt not to need lining.

The pattern is Butterick 6841, of course. I think this might be my 6th skirt in this pattern, and it won't be my last.

The charcoal tights are from We Love Colors. Gosh, I love them so much. I was reading Frances' blog a couple of months ago where she reviewed them. I was so pleased to see the review as I'd had my eye on them for ages, but was a little doubtful that a company could sell plus-sized tights in 51 colours. I mean, how good could these tights really be? I'm used to being punished for being fat by only having black tights available to me. Having bought four pairs in different colours I'm now a believer and I'll be buying more very soon. Check out Frances' post for the special code which offers free postage down under until the end of August.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My creative space - out of the funk

The head cold I had at the market on Sunday developed into a full-blown something-or-other by Sunday night, so I spent the next couple of days hugging a tissue box, chugging vast volumes of orange juice, and trying to crochet on the couch while watching the trashy, nasty, yet thoroughly entertaining first season of Gossip Girl. I returned to work today, in a miserable headachey funk.

But it's amazing how my health and mood immediately improved with a strawberry hot chocolate from my hot drinks purveyor, and a bit of shoe shopping after lunch. Oooh. They're so pretty! And on sale! Inspired by my new black suede t-bars, I've decided to make a skirt. Same pattern as always, but it's a winner so I won't be swayed.

My creative space

And the crochet that's been done on the couch has produced a couple of keepers. Here's one I started a year ago on retreat at Minnamurra and finally finished on Monday morning. I may very well be camouflaged in the desert with this one. It's Malabrigo Merino Worsted, one of my favourite yarns, in the colour "Glazed Carrot".
Orange Divine Hat

And here is Julie's hat for Central Australia in "Olive" Malabrigo , finished while I sat in the surgery waiting room yesterday morning. One down, one almost finished, then two to to go. Easy. This one is called Durango. It was a lot of fun to make.

Olive Durango Hat

You know where to go for more inspiration, don't you?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Any other Sunday

Buttontree Lane and Fibrewebs stall
Another fun Sunday market with Carrie. It was almost as insane as the Celebration of Wool Day, but it was also warmer which made this full-o'-headcold little red-nosed duck a happy camper!

Buttontree Lane and Fibrewebs stall

When it came to snaffling some of my own Fibrewebs yarn, I played it smart. At the May market I held off buying Carrie's yarn, hoping it wouldn't sell and I could have it at the end of the day. She ended up with about 4 skeins of yarn left over after that market, and I never got my favourites, so this time I took advantage of our early start and got in quick!

Fibrewebs Fibrewebs Fibrewebs

I also picked up some Glenora silk/alpaca cobweb, and some red Wensleydale aran weight for a hat (possibly a very itchy hat).

Buttontree Lane and Fibrewebs stall

So it was another great market day, and now I have the job of putting a few bags that didn't sell onto Etsy in the next day or so. There will be a couple of project sacks in that batch, but I will be making more soon to make a few of you out-of-towners happy.

My most pressing priority for the next two weeks is to do something with these.


I am headed to Central Australia at the end of the month with several friends, and when we decided to go at the beginning of the year I told them all I would crochet them new beanies.  Nothing like leaving things to the last minute, but I've never denied that Procrastination was my middle name.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Done ... and dusted

When Carrie and I did our market stall last time I made only nine project sacks, and they were all gone within an hour. I wasn't going to make that mistake again.

I've been continuing with the one hour of sewing rule, except I didn't sew Thursday night so I sewed two hours on Friday night to make up for it. When I'd finished, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and relaxed. At three o'clock this morning I woke up in a panic - I'd forgotten to organise the float for the market! Luckily I still had small coins from last time, and a quick visit to the supermarket to get some change sorted the rest of it out for me. Phew!

I've got a bright and early start to look forward to tomorrow. It shouldn't be frosty like last time, but I'll be rugging up all the same. If you're in the Kingston area tomorrow, drop by the Old Bus Depot Markets and have a look at what the creative fibre artists have in store for you!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My creative, happy space

My one hour time limit on sewing continues and tonight is all about the straps and tabs for the sack bags. Lots of turning inside-out, pressing, pressing again, scorched fingertips and top stitching.

I love the surprise of each new colour and fabric as it gets it's turn under the needle.

I thought I might get to sneak in a little more time to pin the straps and tabs to the outer shell tonight. But it was a late finish at work and I didn't get home till after 7.30. I'm buggered, and it's going to be another busy day tomorrow, with another early start. Best get some sleep.

See more creative, happy spaces over at Kootoyoo.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Carrie and I have our next market this Sunday, at the Old Bus Depot Markets' "Creative Fibre Day". I'm a lot more relaxed about this market than the May market, and given my desire lately for a more balanced life I've resolved to only sew market stuff for one hour a day. I know - that didn't sounds right to me either, when I decided on it!!

In progress

But it's amazing what happens when you make yourself NOT sew, as opposed to making yourself sew. Suddenly you're enjoying it a lot more, and you're racing the clock to see how many side seams you can sew before time is called. You look forward to the next day when you can sew again, and that hasn't happened in a long time when it comes to shop stuff.

A friend has asked us over for dinner on Thursday night. I immediately said no, as I had a market to prepare for. And then I realised how stupid I sounded. Giving up a night of laughs and good food with lovely people, for sewing? Was I nuts?

I am looking forward to downing tools on Friday night (my self-imposed deadline - what isn't made by Friday isn't going to be made until after Sunday, and that's final) and sewing a little for myself though. I have some pretty wonderful pieces of fabric waiting to be made into skirts and dresses for winter. Yesterday I got my We Love Colors tights order, and now I just have to make the outfits that are supposed to go with the amazing coloured tights.
Book case

I'm also looking forward to going through my neglected sewing and quilting books. The best kind of inspiration.

Saturday, July 3, 2010



There are some things in my life I am enjoying less and less as time goes on. And as these less enjoyable things continue to dominate my spare time, I find I am missing out on doing things that really make my heart sing.

Like gardening.

And sewing quilts.

And playing with Blythes.

And being able to crochet a cardigan for a wee one, if I really want to.

It's time to make some changes around here. It's time to make some time for the stuff I really want to do.