Monday, May 16, 2016

Monthly menu plan - May/June


I read a report the other day that stated that less than 4% of Australians managed to eat enough vegetables - i.e. the recommended 5 serves of veg, plus 2 of fruit. Eeeek! So to make sure that as a family we hit those targets, I've decided to reduce our meat intake to once a week, and to eat mostly vegetarians meals instead. Good for us, good for our wallets, great for the environment. Win, win, win.

I've also tried to make my cooking go as Zero Waste as possible. We did a stock up at our local bulk organic store, and filled our jars with chickpeas, lentils and rice. It was so economical, and I love not having any single-use plastic to turf afterwards. And they also had quinces! So of course I brought them home with me. Quinces, meet the oven. You'll be slow cooked in there for about 10 hours until you are a dark and deep maroon. Delicious!

Week One
Monday - Moroccan lentil and chickpea soup
Tuesday - Chicken curry
Wednesday - Potato and leek soup with salad baguettes
Thursday - Lentil, feta and roasted pumpkin pasta with garden salad
Friday - Dinner with friends, so to be decided
Saturday - Persian eggs with lentils and couscous
Sunday - Grilled vegetable and bean tacos with red cabbage coleslaw

Week Two
Monday - Tortellini minestrone
Tuesday - Simple beef and vegetable casserole (slow cooker)
Wednesday - Roast vegetable and mushroom pizza
Thursday - Wholemeal pasta with silverbeet and walnuts and green salad
Friday - Bean nachos
Saturday - Spicy rice and sweet potato biryani with baked eggs and garden salad
Sunday - Spicy winter vegetable soup with chickpea and cauliflower tabouli

Week Three
Monday - Roasted vegetable,cheese and cranberry filo pie with salad
Tuesday - Beef, date and spinach tagine
Wednesday - Spiced pumpkin soup with super green salad
Thursday - Smoky chickpea stew with couscous
Friday - Carrot, feta, dill and chickpea tart with potato salad
Saturday - Baked jacket potatoes topped with leftover chickpea stew, plus loads of vegetables
Sunday - Roast chicken

Week Four
Monday - Creamy silverbeet soup with garlic bread
Tuesday - Beef casserole (from freezer)
Wednesday - Pearl barley minestrone
Thursday - Italian vegetable risotto with salad
Friday - Caramelised onion frittata with roasted garlic tomatoes and rocket salad
Saturday - Vegetable and tofu stir fry
Sunday - Spinach and ricotta cannelloni

Week Five
Monday - Spiced carrot soup with ginger raita
Tuesday - Beef tagine (from freezer)
Wednesday - Curried pea and lettuce soup with savoury scones
Thursday - Red lentil dhal with carrot and sweet potato
Friday - Baked beetroot and apple soup with Greek salad

Monday, May 09, 2016

Pebble Beach Shawlette

As I sit here to type this post up, the weather outside is the least conducive to carefree beach going that you can think of: the rain is pelting down, the storm water drains are beginning to back up, and the wind and rain are conspiring to rob as many people of their umbrellas as possible.

So I shan't pop out and look for a nice pebbly beach on which to wear my Pebble Beach Shawlette, and shall instead have to stay here with the rain lashing the windows whilst quinces slow cook in the oven. I know, tough life, eh?

Pebble Beach #2

To the knitting! Here is my version of the Pebble Beach Shawlette designed by Helen Stewart. To be perfectly frank with you, knitting a shawl has never appealed to me, but once I lay eyes on this design, it suddenly became imperative that I knit one right this very minute. It's so lovely that even I, avowed shawl derider, fell under its lacy spell.

I knit this shawlette in Vinnis Colours Serina, a beautifully silky and drapey yarn from Woolarium. It's hard to tell from the pics, but the yarn has the most incredibly subtle colour variegations within it that had me captivated.

The pattern was one of the best written I have ever come upon. One component that really tickled my fancy was the percentage of completion that accompanied each row. It was like having a little cheer squad encouraging you to knit more quickly to the end! Whilst there was a lot of knitting in this, the pattern was very easy to follow. I can see more being made as gifts!

Pebble Beach #1

Project Details
Pattern - Pebble Beach Shawlette by Helen Stewart, knit in size small
Yarn - Vinnis Colours Serina bamboo yarn from Woolarium
Needles - 4mm 100cm circular needle

Project Ravelried here.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

The Dressmaker's Do!

Sewing bloggers, get your machines ready – tickets for The Dressmaker’s Do are here!

Join us and fellow sewists wearing your best sewn creations for a fun-filled evening brilliant fashion, fine food and drinks.
Hosted by Nichola from Handmaker's Factory and yours truly, it promises to be a great night – with fantastic door prizes to be won, including a brand new whiz-bang Singer sewing machine!
The Dressmaker’s Do will be held at The Kent Hotel, North Carlton, which is easily accessible by public transport. Tickets cost $90, and include finger food plus an open bar with red and white wine, sparkling wine, beer and soft drinks. Vegetarian and gluten-free food will be available, as will funky tunes to get your make-it-and-shake-it boogie on the dance floor later in the night. Take advantage of the photo wall to take great pics of yourself and your friends in your best sewn finery.
Follow us on Instagram for more exciting news in the lead up to the night: @handmakersfactory or @jorthknits – we can’t wait to see you there! 

Tickets available now - would love to see all my favourite sewing people there! 
Date - Saturday, 18th June 2016
Location - The Kent Hotel, 370 Rathdowne St, North Carlton
Time - 8pm until 11:30
Dress Code - The best finery you can sew!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Monthly Menu Plan - February/March


Now that school has resumed, and all the assorted after-school activities are back with a time-gobbling vengeance, organisation is paramount to ensuring that I have a happy state of mind. Seriously - by the time I get home after work (particularly on the days we are up at 4:45 for sports training) I pretty much have no brain power left and limited energy. Once again, the menu plan saves the day! I'm trying to make dinner ahead of time on our super busy days, and on our not-so-crazy days ensuring the dinners are pretty easy (yet still healthy) to put together. Because I don't know about you, but neither my budget nor my insides cope well with take-away!

Week One:
Monday - Spinach and ricotta cannelloni (note: instead of using passata I make up a chunky tomato, lentil and carrot sauce to really boost up this meal)
Tuesday - Slow cooker chicken and lentil curry, double batch (half now, half in freezer)
Wednesday - Potato and leek soup with garden salad and garlic bread
Thursday - Lentil and cauliflower pilaf with minted yoghurt
Friday - Zucchini pasta with rocket salad
Saturday - Tofu burgers with coleslaw
Sunday - Bean enchiladas with brown rice and left-over coleslaw

Week Two:
Monday - Tomato and macaroni cheese bake with salad
Tuesday - Slow cooker Rogan Josh (from freezer)
Wednesday - Red lentil and pumpkin soup with garden salad and cheese toasties
Thursday - Coconut lentil dhal with saffron rice
Friday - Roasted vegetable galettes with salad
Saturday - Home-made lentil and beef burgers (half now, half in freezer)
Sunday - Taco cornbread waffles

Week Three:
Monday - Rustic bean lasagne with green salad
Tuesday - Slow cooker chicken and lentil curry (from freezer)
Wednesday - Roasted tomato and lentil soup with Greek salad and pita bread
Thursday - Lemon pepper pilaf
Friday - Corn fritters with coleslaw and garden salad
Saturday - Home-made tacos with bean filling and all the trimmings
Sunday - Silverbeet, broad bean and rice soup

Week Four:
Monday - Pumpkin and pasta bake with salad
Tuesday - Slow cooker beef stew with polenta (half now, half in freezer)
Wednesday - Chicken and lentil soup with garlic bread
Thursday - Risotto with peas, zucchini, lemon and pancetta with rocket salad
Friday - Tomato and basil pasta with garden salad
Saturday - Home-made lentil and beef burgers (from freezer)
Sunday - Vegetable and lentil soup with silverbeet

Week Five:
Monday - Salami and vegetable pasta bake with garden salad (add in mushrooms, carrots and zucchini)
Tuesday - Slow cooker lamb tagine (half now, half in freezer)
Wednesday - Potato and silverbeet soup with salad and rolls
Thursday - Italian vegetable risotto with salad
Friday - I think I might hand the apron to Galump and let him sort dinner out on this night - I'm spent!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Year of Vintage Sewing : January : Simplicity 4688

Red Vintage Dress #1

So here is the very first dress of my Year of Vintage Sewing challenge - Simplicity 4688. I like this dress. I mean I really, really like this dress. After all, you can't go wrong with a red frock. I only wish that the pattern had requested a pair of falsies bras would be worn with it, because seriously - those bust darts  in their original state really needed some filling out!

Not being in possession of either a falsie bra nor a ginormous pair of dangerously pointy bazookas, I had to do some fiddling before I got those darts to result in a more, er, natural shape. Trust me - I deeply regretted my choice not to do a muslin first as I unpicked and remodelled those darts for the tenth time! But I got there in the end by taking out the excess in the side dart and elongating the dart itself. Phew! Because this is just not my favourite look!

Nope. Never. Ever. Happening.

Red Vintage Dress #2

So darts were tamed, and once that was all sorted the rest of the dress came together quite easily. The pattern requested that the bodice be lined, but the technique involved sewing the lining pieces to each of the bodice pieces before doing the darts, which I thought would just be messy. Plus there were facings, so I skipped the lining all together. If I was making the dress in a silk dupion I would have lined it, but since it is made out of cotton I decided it really wasn't worth the bother.

How about the skirt, hey? Talk about rooooooomy! I was under the impression from the pattern illustration that the skirt would be tulip-shaped, but instead it was just a pleated straight skirt. They fooled me with the fancy pictures! There are many good things about this skirt: I can easily ride my bike in it, and I could totally eat all the burritos I wanted and nobody would ever catch sight of my protruding gut. The bad things: it catches the wind like it's trying to green power all of Melbourne, and the temptation to burrito binge whilst wearing it is substantial. However, for somebody who doesn't walk so much as stride with excessive vigour, it's a good skirt.

Red Vintage Dress #3

The hem is hand-stitched, as are the zipper and bodice facings. I did make the tie belt, but darned if I could figure out how to make it look right. All my efforts to tie it around my waist just made the bow look drunk, so I gave up and ditched it for the pics.

All in all, it was a fun project. Luckily my measurements (strange pointy breasts aside) matched up, so I didn't need to make any major alterations. All I need now is a pair of long white gloves and some decent helmet hair and I could rock da frock like the slightly-daft looking pattern ladies!

Red Vintage Dress #4

Project Notes:
Pattern - Vintage Simplicity 4688, size 12 bust 32
Fabric - 3 1/8 yards (2.8 metres) of red cotton with lycra from The Fabric Store
Notions - 35cm invisible zipper, iron-on interfacing

Monday, January 11, 2016

Marimekko dress

There are a few things that I'd love to have happen in my life. I'd love to visit Antarctica, and feel like I was standing at the edge of the world. I'd also love to live in New York, and be snapped by Scott Schuman as I nonchalantly exited my brownstone abode wearing one of my lovingly made frocks. And speaking of frocks, I've always wanted to have a dress made out of Marimekko fabric.

Now, current budget constraints are putting the kibosh on both an Antarctica trip and the chance to reside in the Big Apple for the time being, but as soon as I saw this incredible fabric from Yulki's Home Décor I knew that I could make my Marimekko dress dreams come true!

Marimekko #1

Marimekko #3

This was the last dress that I made in 2015, and I got it finished just in time for Christmas - yay! I used my trusty Vogue 8184, and the fabric was perfect for the job. I wanted to make a structured version of the dress, so needed a fabric that was strong enough to provide the structure required, but wasn't too thick or heavy to sew with. To be honest, I couldn't have picked a better fabric for the job - by using it to line the bodice section I have the strength I desired without needing boning for reinforcement (and that also means I can breath in it, too!).

The pattern on this fabric is classic Marimekko - big, bold and colourful, so I did some strategic fussy cutting to make the most of the pattern and to ensure that the colours on the print flowed nicely into each other from each piece of the dress pattern. I am so happy with how it has turned out - I really wanted a fun dress that married the quirky nature of a Marimekko print with an elegant sophistication that reflects the vintage vibe of the dress design, and I think I've nailed it!

Marimekko #2

The only modification I have made to the pattern was to alter the shoulder straps so they came from the centre of the neckline - I love the look of this, and find it nice and comfortable to wear, as you never have to worry about your shoulder straps slipping off!

And who knows - maybe next time The Sartorialist comes to Australia he'll snap me in this dress!

Marimekko #4

Marimekko #5

Project Details
Pattern - Vogue 8184, made in size 8
Fabric - 1.2 m of Marimekko Siirtolapuutarha fabric from Yulki's Home Décor - Marimekko Fabric Australia
Notions - 35 cm invisible zipper

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Back to school skirt

Blue Skirt #2

Ja, ja, I know - school isn't back for a few more weeks yet but it appears that Santa DID leave some sewing mojo in my stocking, so a quick skirt for Tyger was in order!

You seriously cannot get more basic than this - I took an 80cm by 115cm length of fabric, sewed the short sides together, hemmed the bottom, did a 3cm hem on the top and inserted some 2.5cm elastic and hey presto - a skirt was made!

The verdict? She's chuffed because she picked the fabric and that it goes so well with her favourite t-shirt, and I'm chuffed because it took all of 20 minutes to make! Happy new year!

Blue Skirt #1

Friday, January 01, 2016

The Year Of Vintage Sewing

There's a cupboard in my house that for some time I have been scared to open. It's full of vintage patterns, and whilst you would expect them to all sit there quietly in their protective covers, I can assure you that this is not the case. As soon as their door is open, they begin to clamorously beseech me to stop faffing around and begin sewing them, NOW! Their heart-rending cries of desperate longing to be made up began to seriously do my head in, so guiltily I avoided the cupboard all together, rather than face their continued disappointment.

But vintage patterns, there is good news: I've decided that 2016 is the year for me to begin sewing you, so nag away - I'm on the job!


To be perfectly honest, I'm pretty excited about this project. I've been collecting vintage patterns for years now, and I've got some pretty good ones tucked away in there. The aim is to sew at least one vintage pattern up per month. And by vintage, I mean minimum 30 years old. I think I'll mostly be sewing ones from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s as they are my favourite eras for fashion. The glamour! The styling! I want in on that action!

The patterns themselves can be original vintage or reproduced vintage ones. I'm hoping not only to end the year with an incredible wardrobe, but to also increase my sewing skills by learning some new techniques. I didn't sew as much last year as I would have liked to, so I'm hoping this project helps bring my sewing mojo back.

Now for the hardest part - which one to pick first!

Monday, December 07, 2015

Red Heart Dress

The Marc by Marc Jacobs fabric lay restlessly in the sewing cupboard. "Why", it thought desolately to itself, "why can I not find a pattern to suit me? I'm covered in cute red hearts, for crying out loud - how hard could it be to love me?"

Fabrics came, and fabrics went, and still the Marc fabric lay there. Finally one day it decided enough was enough. "I gotta go online! That's the only way to meet your perfect match these days!"

Evening drew in, and Jorth went to bed. The fabric slid out of the cupboard, and made its way stealthily to the kitchen where Jorth's mobile was kept. Heading straight to the app store, it quickly downloaded a brilliant new app called Weftr. 'Swipe weft to right to find your perfect pattern match!' it declared in tones brimming with the promise of happy-ever-after.

Marc began to swipe. Vogue coat pattern? No way, left swipe for you. Vintage sewing magazine overalls? Er, that would be a left swipe for you, too. Finally, Simplicity 1803 came up. Marc gazed upon the pattern in delight. It had everything he'd been wanting in a frock - 1950s styling, full skirt, pockets and a great neckline. He swiped weft to right, and sat back to wait for his one true love.

Red Heart Dress #1

Red Heart Dress #2

Project Details
Pattern: Simplicity 1803
Fabric: 1.8m Marc by Marc Jacobs cotton lawn from The Fabric Store
Notions: Invisible zip, interfacing

Monday, October 05, 2015

Vogue 8184 Hack

There's Ikea hacks. And beauty hacks. And let's not forget bringing entire financial corporations to their knees with some nifty and well-timed computer system hacks.

The last one might consider itself to be the original and the best. But none of them hold a candle to my Vogue 8184 hack!

Vogue 8184 #1

Ok, ok, so maybe my hacking hasn't managed to funnel tens of millions of dollars into my bank account (alas!), but I'm still pretty chuffed with my hacking skills. Although, I shall confess that this hack isn't new - I did it on another 8184 way back in the summer of 2011 but since that dress has been worn and washed so many times that the linen is beginning to tear, I thought it was high time for another version.

As far as hacks go, this one is pretty darn easy - I simply extended the length of the shoulder straps when cutting them out, then carefully placed them in a v-configuration at the centre front point. I then tried on the dress, adjusted the straps to the back for the perfect fit, basted them into place and then proceeded with the bodice lining as per usual. Simple, but darn effective!

Vogue 8184 #2

Project Details
Pattern - Vogue 8184, view B with strap adjustment
Fabric - 2m cotton from GJ's Discount Fabrics (from stash, woo hoo!)
Notions - 35cm invisible zipper (also from stash - double woo hoo!)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Vika: the ultimate cabled sweater

Never have I read a truer sentence in a pattern description than the one that accompanied Vika: "A noble cabled masterwork..."

Yup! This ain't tv knitting, my friends - this is a masterwork, and let's be making no mistakes about that! It took a lot of energy, and I don't want to even think about how many hours, and I shall admit that there were times when I thought "Urgh! What have I got myself in for?", but now it's done both Tyger and myself are pleased as punch with the results. And if you think I'm not going to be walking around saying "Hey! Check out my masterwork!" then you are in for some A-grade serious disappointment!

Vika #4

Vika #3

Vika #5

As is always the case with Brooklyn Tweed patterns, it's beautifully written, and the instructions provide explanations for all techniques used. The one quibble I had with it was the sizing of the garments. Even thought Tyger is 11, I ended up making her a size 6, as the size 10 would have been roomy on me. Since she really wanted a fitted cabled turtleneck, we had go down two sizes. To accommodate the extra height, I just added some extra ribbing, and used the length measurements for the size 10. It fits perfectly, so I am thrilled about that, and I'm pretty sure she'll squeeze a couple of winters out of it.

I used Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Aran, which is 90% wool and 10% angora. The angora adds a beautiful softness to this yarn (especially noticeable after blocking), and stops the knitted garment from feeling scratchy. That's important, especially for a turtleneck sweater! Imagine her not wearing it, after all the hours of work I put into it, because it was itchy on her neck - quelle horreur!

Being a tweed yarn, it can break easily if you exert enough force, so I decided to use a dark green variegated cotton to sew the sweater up, as I figured it would be stronger than using the yarn itself. I love how very tweedy and British it looks - just the thing for striding along a Yorkshire moor in, and it's warm enough to fend off the chilliest of winds.

I'm really proud of this sweater, but I will say this: as much as I love knitting cables, I might have a rest from creating cabled masterworks for a while! Some easy, no-brainer knitting is in order, methinks!

Project Details:
Pattern - Vika by Brooklyn Tweed, made in size 6 with extra length added
Yarn - 7 balls of Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Aran in shade #46 (Leaf), from Woolarium
Needles - 4mm, 4.5mm, cable needle

Ravelried here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Meet Logan, my new knitted dress!

I know, I know - it's a thing. The whole Jorth and the knitted dress, but I cannot help it. There truly is no more comfortable garment in the world than a knitted dress, and I simply can't get enough of them! And if they are designed by Kim Hargreaves, then all the better - as far as I'm concerned, she does the best knit dress designs around. Thank you Kim for feeding my, I mean love!

Logan #1

Logan #3

The pattern used was Logan from Kim's book Shadows. I knitted it up in Rowan Lima (shade: La Paz 891), which was such a fun yarn to work with. The yarn has a chain construction - I was bit worried I would constantly snag my needles on the yarn as I worked with it, but it knitted up with perfect ease. It does create quite a bouncy feeling fabric, but the cables stop it from spreading all over the place. This dress is a wonderful example of great use of design to enhance the natural characteristics of a yarn. I'm also really loving the ever-so-slight colour changes in the yarn. It reminds me of the gradual changes of colour in a summer paddock of long stemmed grass. I know that sounds a bit daft, but it's so right. So natural.

My only quibble with this dress is that it is sitting just on the wrong side of short. Normally I would wear a dress like this with stockings, but I fear that that with the fabric bounce this one would keep riding up on me, and I would be walking around like Lindsay Lohan, who doesn't seem to mind pairing rather short tops or tunics with nothing but a pair of tights and a smile, happy for the world to ogle her arse cheeks. I'm way too much of a prude for such scandalous behaviour, so I'm going to pair it with a pair of leggings and call it a done thing. If I had my time again I would have added a few extra cable repeats for the additional length but ack! it's too late now.

So there we are folks - another winter, another knitted dress! Now to plan for next years... Scorched is looking pretty good from where I'm sitting and knitting!

Project Details
Pattern: Logan by Kim Hargreaves, from the book Shadows
Yarn: 11 balls of Rowan Lima in shade La Paz 891, purchased from Woolarium
Needles: 4.5mm, 5mm, 5.5mm, cable needle

Ravelried here.

Logan #2

Monday, August 17, 2015

Monthly menu plan August/September

Fruity Oat Biscuits

Whoa! When did life get so busy? Between gearing up for Galumph's craziest work time of year, Tyger having early morning sports lessons and just life in general, I feel like I need to be super organised at the moment! Thank goodness for menu planning - it really saves me a lot of stress and pressure, knowing exactly what to buy during a big weekly shop and then having it ready to go (or even better - pre-prepped) as needed. And saves on the dollars too, as we really waste very little food this way. Win win all around!

Week One:
Monday - Roasted vegetable risotto with rocket salad
Tuesday - Veg and bean casserole
Wednesday - Bacon, vegetable and lentil soup
Thursday - Lentil spaghetti bolognaise with feta
Friday - Out with friends - hooray!
Saturday - Tofu burgers with coleslaw and wedges
Sunday - Spicy minestrone with garlic croutons

Week Two:
Monday - Risotto primavera with green salad
Tuesday - Chicken, lentil and pumpkin curry (half now, half in freezer)
Wednesday - Tuscan bean soup with rye bread
Thursday - Beef stroganoff with spinach salad
Friday - Moroccan carrot and quinoa pilaf
Saturday - Pizza pasta bake with garden salad
Sunday - Roast chicken

Week Three:
Monday - Creamy chicken pasta (with left-over roasted chicken)
Tuesday - Italian beef casserole (half now, half in freezer)
Wednesday - Potato and leek soup with cheese and salad rolls
Thursday - Pasta arrabiata with garden salad
Friday - Curried vegetable pilaf
Saturday - Vegie burgers with chopped salad
Sunday - Beany tacos

Week Four:
Monday - Spinach, chilli and tomato risotto
Tuesday - Chicken, lentil and pumpkin curry (from freezer)
Wednesday - Lemon, lentil and spinach soup
Thursday - Speedy tuna, lemon and bean pasta with salad
Friday - Roasted vegetable and quinoa salad
Saturday - Spinach and ricotta cannelloni with green salad
Sunday - Roast chicken

Week Five:
Monday - Pearl barley minestrone
Tuesday - Italian beef casserole (from freezer)
Wednesday - Silverbeet and potato soup with tomato and cheese toasted sandwiches
Thursday - Pasta primavera with rocket salad
Friday - Lemon pepper pilaf

Oh, and the biscuits? They are from the latest addition of Jamie Magazine - I highly recommend them (she says, wiping crumbs furtively from keyboard...)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Frocktails red party dress

There are Saturday nights when you find yourself in your jimmiejams, eating chips on the couch and watching Bridget Jones's Diary for the 227th time. Those nights are balm to the soul, but not something that I'd generally find myself blogging about. Or admitting to. Please don't tell anybody that I can quote that entire movie. The shame, the shame!

Then there are the Saturday nights when you get to hang out with another 50 sewing bloggers, wearing a frock you have sewn up yourself, living the Frocktails dream! Guess which type of Saturday night I just had? Let's put it this way: being eaten by Alsatians whilst listening to Sad FM was *not* on the agenda!

Red Dress #1

It was a pretty darn fabulous night, and the dresses had to be seen to be believed. It was an honour to hang out with so many talented and wonderful ladies, and I got to meet so many people that I've admired for so long. If you'd like to see some great pics of the girls and their frocks, Poppykettle took some marvellous photos, so pop on over there and drool yourself silly at the gorgeousness on display.

I had a bit of a dress disaster prior to the event. I had started making Vogue 8900, and it was all going along swimmingly until it came to doing the side vents (which was the last bit I had to do, natch). Try as I might, I could not figure out a way to make (a) the bias binding fit and (b) get the vents to sit flat. After checking out other versions on Pattern Review, I discovered this was a common problem, but that wasn't going to help me when my dress had gone from hero to zero faster then you can say "Frocktails Panic!"

I had 3 days left to make a dress. On a zero budget. And it had to look fab. What was I to do???

Like any good seamstress, I hit up the stash. I found 1.5m of silk stretch blend, and then rummaged through my pattern collection to find a party-worthy pattern. Thankfully McCall's 6320 came to the rescue - I'd already made one version of this in a green cotton a few years back, so the sewing came easily. And whilst I may have been hand stitching the lining in at 6 in the morning on the day of the event, it was eventually done - phew!

No alterations were made to this dress, although I am kind of wishing that I had gone for the pleated sleeve option rather than the plain set in sleeve. Next time! It was so comfy to wear, and I felt suitably glam, which was great - in a room full of sewing wonders, you want to feel like you measure up (ha! bad sewing pun!) to all the talent surrounding you.

And let's give a round of applause to the stash, eh? In a year of frugality, having a little extra tucked away saved my bacon!

Project Details:
Pattern - McCall's 6320, version C
Fabric - 1.5m silk stretch blend from The Fabric Store
Notions - 35cm invisible zipper, hook and eye, lining and interfacing

Monday, June 15, 2015

Vintage Simplicity Red Cape

A while ago I decided that if one thing was going to happen this year, then that thing would be making Tyger a winter coat. I've always wanted to make her one, and she herself has always gone sportingly along with the notion, so we sat together one day in cosy happiness and began to trawl the internet for coat patterns.

We looked here, we looked there. In fact, I found myself googling ever stranger combinations, trying to find a coat pattern that we both agreed on, but Tyger was determined - once she had set her eyes on Simplicity 8072, it was vintage cape or bust, and no amount of cooing over Burda patterns from Mum was going to change her mind.

Look, I can't deny that the kid has style. I mean, this cape is so cute that I want one - but wouldn't her poor little arms get cold?

Red Cape #3

Cold arms, pswah! Stopping short of telling me to turn off my inner mummy-monologue about goosebumps, she fixed me with a look that said "Let's make a deal - you can fulfil your coat dream, and I'll get the coat OF my dreams!"

So I gave in. And bought some red cashmere/wool coating and away we went.

And really, I should have trusted her style judgement after all, because she looks pretty darn snazzy in it - with no cold arm complaints to be heard!

Red Cape #2

Red Cape #1

Project Details
Pattern: Vintage Simplicity 8072, view 2 (published 1968)
Size: 10 (girls)
Materials: 2 meters wool/cashmere coating from Clegs, 2 meters lining
Notions: 8 buttons from Woolarium

I must say, I really did enjoy making this. The pattern was full of great information, more so than modern patterns. I did do a few tweaks here and there, like using iron-on interfacing, which I don't think they had in 1968, but I mostly stuck to the script. There was a LOT of handsewing involved in this, but I didn't mind it. In fact, it was quite meditative, even if it did chew up gallons of time.

It's inspired me to get some more vintage patterns out from my stash and give them a go, plus who can go past this vintage style? Not me - I'm a sucker for all things 1950s and 60s!

Monday, June 08, 2015

Rustling Leaves Beret

What did you do with your long weekend? I spent it knitting a gorgeously leaf-patterned beret, and scarfing home made eclairs made by Galumph and Tyger! Excellent weekend all around, I'd say!


I knitted this beret for the Woolarium Beanie Fest, which has entries open now. The theme is "New Beginnings", and as soon as I saw this pattern I knew it was the one I had to knit! The pattern was perfectly written, making it very easy to follow. I'll admit, it wasn't exactly 'zone-out-in-front-of-the-tv' knitting, but it wasn't crazy difficult either. My brim has turned out a little bit loose, so I think I'll thread some fine elastic through it, but apart from that it's perfect!

Project Details
Pattern: Rustling Leaves Beret by Alana Dakos
Yarn: 1 skein of Spud and Chloe Fine in 'Cricket' #7804
Needles: 2.75mm and 3.25mm
Ravelried here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Monthly Menu Plan - April/May


Late last year, in the Christmas sales, I bought myself a slow/fast cooker, hoping that this final purchase would serve us well in our Year of Green Frugality. Four months into using this wonder machine (which is a pressure cooker and slow cooker in one), and I am pleased as punch (hmm? wonder if I could use it to make punch?) to announce that when it comes to saving money and time whilst also creating amazing meals, the fast/slow cooker gets an A+!

Every other Monday I use the slow cooker component to make a casserole. The quantity it makes is enough to serve 8 people - or, feed us one night, with plenty put in the freezer for another, plus left-overs for lunch! I usually bulk up the recipes with extra root vegetables/beans/lentils, and then serve them with some sort of grain like couscous, quinoa, brown rice... you get the idea. One meal equalling many mouths fed is the sort of equation that makes me happy indeed.

I've also been using it to cook all manner of pulses in the pressure cooker component. Not only is this the cheapest way of cooking pulses (especially when you buy them in bulk from the local bulk bin store), but it is saving the use of tins, which pleases the greenie inside me greatly! In fact, I've become the sort of sad person who is constantly scouring the internet for recipes involving turtle beans or chickpeas, just so I have an excuse to pull out my favourite kitchen appliance!

Now, having read over my waxing lyrical, I can guess that some of you are wondering if this is a sponsored post. Not at all, I can assure you. I am just really happy with my fast/slow cooker, and wanted to share with you all how useful I have found it. It did cost a little bit to buy, but it's already saved us lots of money - and time in the kitchen! If I could send it a bunch of flowers to thank it for it's service, I would!

Ok, enough blathering - on to the menu plan!

Week One:
Monday - Lemony lentil soup with crispy kale
Tuesday - Lamb and chickpea stew on couscous
Wednesday - Black eyed bean and vegetable soup
Thursday - Lentil cottage pies with buttered corn cobs
Friday - Tofu burgers with spiced wedges
Saturday - Sichuan gai lan with brown rice
Sunday - Moroccan sweet potato bake

Week Two:
Monday - Ribolitta
Tuesday - Spiced chicken tagine with dates and chickpeas
Wednesday - Paneer and vegetable curry on brown rice
Thursday - Roasted sweet potato, pea and zucchini risotto with rocket salad
Friday - Roast chicken
Saturday - Out for dinner...yay, night off!
Sunday - Thick vegetable soup

Week Three:
Monday - Cardamom pumpkin soup with Italian scones
Tuesday - Red wine stew with polenta
Wednesday - Spiced vegetable pilaf
Thursday - Pea soup with cheese toasties
Friday - Mascarpone and bacon pasta with green salad
Saturday - Spinach and ricotta cannelloni
Sunday - Chorizo, vegetable and black bean soup

Week Four:
Monday - Tuna meat balls with spaghetti and green salad
Tuesday - Massaman beef curry
Wednesday - Spinach and corn pasties with garden salad
Thursday - Spinach, bacon and tomato risotto with rocket salad
Friday - Vegetable macaroni and cheese with green salad

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Spotted Ruffle Tee

It appears that the colour theme around these parts is yellow, yellow and more yellow. I've got my yellow dress, and now Tyger has a gorgeous yellow spotted ruffled tee!

Check it out - cute confetti spots in the front.....

Spotted Ruffle Top-1

Spotted Ruffle Top 2

...and ruffle party in the back!

The pattern is from Ottobre Design Magazine Spring 1/2011, and has been such a hit that I think I'm going to need to hit up the stash to make another version! The best bit about presenting it to her when she got home from school was that she gasped when she saw it and exclaimed with delight "Oh mum - it's got puffed sleeves!"

I've had my own Anne of Green Gables moment. I can die happy now!

Spotted Ruffle Top 3

Project Details
Pattern - #20 Peacock Tunic from Ottobre Design Magazine 1/2011, size 140cm
Fabric - 1.5m cotton jersey knit from Spotlight (purchased last year, so not sure if they still stock it)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Mellow Yellow

In my head (a marvellous place, I can assure you all!) I keep referring to this dress as my 'mellow yellow' dress, but that is a misnomer if I've ever seen one, as there is nothing mellow at all about this crazily bright frock!

Mellow Yellow #1

This pattern, a Very Easy Very Vogue (remember those?!?) from 1989, was actually quite easy to make. I'm not thrilled about the darts, which the pattern called to be cut before you sew, which I think has resulted in a pointy dart end, and the facings don't seem to want to sit right, despite the topstitching I added, but for a fun and bright day dress it does the job. It was quick to sew, and I love the front pleats - you can eat tons for lunch in this dress, and the pleats mean that your tummy can't betray you - hooray!

The back has a long split up the back which means that it is easy to both walk and ride my bike in this dress. Plus it's YELLOW! Yes sir, I think we can add this one to the winner's box!

Mellow Yellow #2

Project Details
Pattern - Very Easy Very Vogue 7475 in size 8
Fabric - 1.2m of stretch cotton from The Fabric Store
Notions - 35cm invisible zipper

Monday, March 16, 2015

Monthly menu plan - March/April

Cherry Tomatoes

I love this time of year so much! It really feels like you get the best of both worlds - gloriously sunny afternoons that you can stretch right into and relax in tempered by a chill that descends and makes you plan your next casserole/knitting project/movie to watch whilst snuggled under a blanket. Autumn, you make me appreciate being alive.

As does a good meal. This month is full of 'em!

Week One:
Monday - Chicken soup (I have a cold!)
Tuesday - Beef, spinach and date tagine with carroty couscous
Wednesday - Creamy pumpkin soup
Thursday - Spaghetti with rocket pesto and roasted cherry tomatoes, plus a garden salad
Friday - Dinner out with friends
Saturday - Quinoa, zucchini and feta salad
Sunday - Ratatouille with creamed spinach polenta

Week Two:
Monday - Salmon and pea pasta bake with garden salad
Tuesday - Chicken, lentil and vegetable curry on brown rice
Wednesday - Roasted tomato and capsicum soup with garlic naan
Thursday - Cauliflower and lentil pilaf with minted yoghurt
Friday - Knitting night - to be decided
Saturday - Vegetable curry omelette rolls
Sunday - Spicy black bean soup

Week Three:
Monday - Broccoli and leek soup with roasted vegetable couscous salad
Tuesday - Beef tagine (from freezer, see week 1)
Wednesday - Silverbeet, broad bean and rice soup
Thursday - Spaghetti with lentil bolognaise, and a garden salad
Friday - Tofu burgers with Indian spiced cauliflower and broccoli salad
Saturday - Fondue style macaroni cheese with rocket salad
Sunday - Easter! Roast chicken with maple roasted carrots, mash and lemony peas

Week Four:
Monday - Cinnamon braised chicken with couscous
Tuesday - Creamy vegetable and almond korma on brown rice
Wednesday - Chickpea and leek soup with garlic bread
Thursday - Ricotta and vegetable cannelloni with green salad
Friday - Red wine risotto with spiced chicken drumsticks
Saturday - Pizza! Roasted vegetable and mushroom, salmon, crème fraiche and chilli
Sunday - Chickpea, brown rice and spinach pilaf with grilled haloumi

Week Five:
Monday - White minestrone with rye bread toasts
Tuesday - Beef and red wine stew with sweet potato mash
Wednesday - Creamy silverbeet and potato soup
Thursday - Fettuccini with mushroom bolognaise
Friday - Lentil cottage pies with sweet potato mash and sides of buttered corn cobs