Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Pattern Review: Vogue 8766 aka The Sparkly Christmas Dress

My favourite dark pink colour? Check. Lots of sparkle? Check. Crooked hair do? Check. Supercute, glam yet oddly comfortable? Check checkity check! Folks, we've got a winning Christmas dress here!

Christmas Dress #5

Christmas Dress #3

Christmas Dress #1

I quite enjoyed making this dress, in a nerdy oh-look-how-I'm-sewing-this-part kind of way. I mean, underlining! That was awesome fun, yet so easy. I can't believe how easy it was - you just pop the pieces of fabric on top of each other, sew around the edges to create one single piece, then continue sewing the dress together as per usual. Looks so impressive, but was easy as pie. I'm an underlining fan now, guys!

The dress was made with a sheer sparkly Marc Jacobs lurex blend fabric, which I placed on top of a dark fuchsia medium weight silk. The dress is then fully lined, with boning in the bodice. I'm LOVING the Marc Jacobs sparkle - I feel like I have designer threads at a home made price. Yippee!

The only thing I would change is how the lining is constructed. Instead of doing the bodice lining separately, then attaching the lining and skirt together (which made putting in the zip a bit messy) I would have sewn the lining fully together, then attached it, doing a sly hand tack along the bodice/skirt seam to attach the lining to the dress. But that's just me.

I also put in an invisible zipper, rather than a dress zipper, as I think they look only about one billion times better. The hem was also lengthened, as the original dress came in pretty darn short. Surely the good folk over at Vogue Patterns know it's either bosoms or legs, not both? I've already had one pink slut sack disaster this year. I sure didn't need another!

One thing to keep in mind is that this dress does require a LOT of hand stitching. The hem is hand stitched, as is the bodice and skirt lining along the zip line, and then the bodice lining is hand stitched to the skirt. So even thought this dress was easy to put together, it was also quite time consuming. Not a dress to make in a hurry.

All in all, very pleased how this one turned out. I think I might need to restitch my hem lining, as it sits a bit funny when on (looks perfect on the hanger, though - always the way!), but apart from that it's ready to roll on Christmas Day. It was a fun dress to make - so fun that I might have treated myself to some green lace to make another one. Hey, gotta make sure there's one fabric-based present under the tree!

Speaking of all things yuletide, I'd like to wish all my readers a brilliant, happy and safe holiday/Christmas season. Thanks for reading and for not groaning too loudly at all my daft jokes, and I'll catch you all in 2014!

Project Details
Pattern: Vogue 8766, view A
Fabric: 1.2m sheer Marc Jacobs lurex blend fabric, 1.2m medium weight silk for underlining, 1.3m rayon for lining
Notions: 35cm invisible zipper, covered boning for bodice, hook and eye

Friday, December 20, 2013

Sabrina and The Sparkle Dress vs The Christmas Tree

"Aha!", cried Sabrina the formidable dressmaker's dummy as she stood before the Christmas tree in the Great Sparkle-Off of 2013. "Suck it, O Tannenbaum! The dress wins! It doesn't even need my brilliant personality to win hands down!"

Sparkly Dress

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sparkly Christmas dress sneak peek

Jorth stood before the Christmas tree and made a momentous decision. Why, after all, should all things glittery and tinselly be confined to a mere plastic flora replica? Christmas shimmer and shine should be available for one and all, she thought. And since she had a certain, sparkly Marc Jacobs fabric on hand, and also was in possession of Vogue 8766, she could see no good reason why she, too, shouldn't be adorned with a bit of Christmas splendour.

Decision made, Jorth armed herself with a pair of sunglasses and got cutting. And underlining. Underlining - how fancy pants!

Sparkly Fabric

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rum Balls

Christmas just ain't Christmas without some chocolaty, coconutty rum ball goodness! I am not ashamed to admit that I love eating these little fellas. I loved eating my Nanna's version as a kid, I love eating my sister's version as a teenager, and I love seeing the Tyger happily scoff the ones I make.

Although they are called rum balls, they contain no rum at all, making them fine for both kids and bigger kids who like to keep their livers intact. They are also a cinch to make, which is brilliant for this time of year when you need to make lots of food for teacher gifts/Christmas stalls at school/work colleagues etc.


Rum Balls

1 packet Arnott's Marie biscuits, crushed
395g tin of condensed milk
1/4 cup Dutch cocoa
1 cup desiccated coconut, plus extra to roll in

Mix all ingredient well in a large mixing bowl. Wet your hands, then roll into small balls. Toss in the coconut, the refrigerate until ready to serve.

See? Told you they were easy. And at this time of the year, I am all about the easy! If it involves piping intricate icing designs onto perfectly baked biscuits, you can look elsewhere. I get so hot and flustered trying to do stuff like that, which means I get crabby, which means that my Christmas spirit flies out the window quicker than you can say "Grinch!"  But rum balls? Now those I can do!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Surprise Christmas Dress

Shhh! Don't tell Tyger, but I've been busy beavering away all week, making her a surprise dress for Christmas!

Christmas Dress

I actually had no intention of making her a dress, but then I found myself in the fabric store, needing to buy some thread and a zip. One thing lead to another, and before you knew it I was on the footpath outside the store, clutching my thread, the zip... and fabric and pattern for this project, plus a dream of Christmas spent in home made dresses. You go in for a zip, and come out with a big hole in your bank balance. Tell me I'm not the only one these things happen to!

Anyway, to the dress. It's pretty cute, eh? It's Simplicity 2265. I still need to make a rose to attach to the mid bodice section, but apart from that it's pretty much done.

Once the rose is attached, I'll wrap it up and pop it under the tree, and Tyger can unwrap it on Christmas Eve. Fingers crossed I get my own dress done, so we can both look stylish at Christmas Eve mass!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Annamaria Tunic from Ottobre Design

I like to be organised. I'm a list kinda girl. If I have a 'to do' list, then I'm happy. So every summer I sit down with Tyger and make a list of things we need to sew for her. We then happily trot off to the fabric store, make our purchases, dutifully wash our fabric and then get sewing.

Except for when we don't. (Sew, that is. We always manage to get to the fabric store!) And the poor old fabric sits there, project pushed aside in lieu of life in general. Often the poor thing will sit on top of the sewing bureau, as a guilty reminder that I really need to sew it up soon, but before long the guilt inevitably gets to me, and I shove it in the actual bureau itself. Out of sight, out of mind and one less thing to feel behind on.

Thankfully fabric doesn't go off. And the Tyger didn't grow too tall, so I was able to rescue this fabric from the stash, where it had languished for a whole year, and make this tunic up for her. Phew. Better late than never, eh?

(Although note to self, Jorthy: maybe stop being so darn ambitious with your sewing goals, hmm?)

So here we have the finally finished Annamaria Tunic. You know things are a hit when they refuse to take them off after the photo session, and then try and wear them to school the next day, even when the forecast is for rain with possible hail. Jeepers - if I had have known it was going to be this well loved, I would have made it up sooner!

Tunic #1

Tunic #3

Tunic #2

Hee hee - like mother, like daughter. She sure likes those pockets!

Project Details
Pattern - Annamaria Tunic from Ottobre Design Magazine 3/2009
Fabric - Assorted quilting cottons
Notions - Interfacing and 30cm invisible zipper

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Pink Knitting Disaster Mark II

Thanks folks for all the love on my Roses dress. I am so happy with how it turned out. Unlike my Principesa dress. I had knitted all the way up to the neckline shaping, and had completed the right straps when I decided to try it on.

Disaster! It was too short, too tight, and so wrong on so many levels. ARRRRGGGGHHHH! All those hours of knitting, and I had something I wouldn't even leave my house dressed in, for fear that some sleazebag would sidle up to me and enquire as to my hourly rate. It was meant to be elegant and sassy like everybody else's are, but instead I had knitted myself a slut sack. Gah!

So what was an 80% finished dress is now this:


Yup, I frogged the whole darn thing. I am not having luck with this yarn at all, and have lost all love for the project. Thankfully there are always new projects to cheer myself up with:


A sweet baby ballerina style wrap from the Noro Collection by Debbie Bliss, which I've had on my bookshelf since I started knitting, and a 90s Vogue dress in a mustardy yellow. Tempting as the jacket is, I might leave that part of the pattern well enough alone.

As for the pink yarn, I think a summer cardigan for Tyger could be the thing. Seriously, pink yarn - I've got a three-strikes-and-you're-out policy around these parts, so this is your final chance to behave!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Pattern Review: Retro Butterick 6582 (The Roses Dress)

I have had the most astoundingly good time of late, and every time I take out the memories of it all, I feel so lucky and blessed to have such amazing people in my life.

It all started two weeks ago, when I had the best coffee date ever with the fabulous Julia Bobbin and a very special lady who we both have since admitted we have major crushes on, the brilliantly clever and talented Kristiann from Victory Patterns. The time flew as we sat and nattered with Kris and her partner Simon - as we left there were multiple hugs and cuddles all around, and many promises to meet up again as soon as geography allows us. Seriously, it was AWESOME!

But then lightning struck twice, in a totally good way when last weekend I got to have another coffee date with the inspiring and wonderful Carolyn, who was in town. It was such a pleasure to meet somebody whose blog I have admired and loved for a long time, and she is even more lovely in person than you can imagine. Now I have two girl crushes!

And just to make things a trifecta of fabulousness, I attended the very special and heart-warming wedding of Lara from Ink & Spindle to her husband Dave. I have been to a few weddings in my time, but this one will forever stand out for it's true and pure love. I got a wee bit teary during the ceremony because it was such an honour to watch the blossoming of love between two pretty brilliant people.

Well! When you are lucky enough to be invited to such a brilliant wedding, you've gotta make sure you have a good frock to wear! I had planned to wear my pink knitted dress, but time was against me, so I decided to go with Butterick 6582, aka the Roses Dress. And I am glad I did - with a petticoat borrowed from Miss Bobbin and my hair done nice, I felt perfectly glamorously attired!

Roses Dress #2

Roses Dress #4

Roses Dress #7

Roses Dress #6

This was a fun and easy dress to make. The bodice has facings, rather than bodice lining, but it wasn't too hard at all to put in. With 8 darts around the bodice, you are guaranteed a pretty nice fit, and I love the super full skirt!

The only change I made was to use an invisible zipper, rather than a dress one, which wasn't exactly a monumental alteration. I quite like the crossed over bodice - good for us girls with not much going on in the bust department! And this dress is so comfortable to wear than I am seriously thinking of making another, with the straight skirt.

Yup, very happy with this one. I think I can chalk it up on the winner's board!

Project Details
Pattern - Butterick 6582 (Retro Butterick)
Fabric - 2.2m stretch cotton sateen from Rathdowne Fabrics and Remnants
Notions - 45cm invisible zipper, interfacing for bodice facings

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pattern Review: Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity 2250

I'm going to start this post by saying that I was both super excited to sew this dress, but also full of trepidation. Super excited is fairly self explanatory: I mean, look at the thing! How cute is that dress design?!?

The trepidation, however, became the overwhelming emotion whenever I steeled myself to glance over the patterns instructions. There were darts. And pleats. And darts upon pleats. And that was just the bodice! Still, I was determined to make this Cynthia Rowley number up. The fabric was in the stash, nestled snugly in next to the lining and zip. All I needed was the courage, and this dress could be mine, all miiiiiiiiiine!

So I sewed it. And scratched my head over it. And probably said a swearword to two under my breath as I tried to figure out which darn piece was meant to be folded where? And then doubted my sewing ability when my bodice didn't match my lining piece. And then nodded sagely when I read other reviews which said that their bodice pieces didn't match their linings, either.

I muddled, and unpicked, and finger-pressed (wondering why I couldn't just attack it with my iron and end up with nice, crisp pleats) and finally got this baby finished. And now I feel a bit 'meh' over it.

I mean, I like it, but after all the effort and time that went into this I wanted to LOVE this dress. In fact, I wanted to put this dress on, and have people stop in the street and take photos of it, and cars crash as the drivers took their eyes off the road and instead watched me in this amazing dress float down the street, resulting in very expensive insurance premiums for them, and a whole lotta dress attention for me. I wanted Sarah Jessica Parker to find an image of this dress on Pinterest, and demand that her PA track down the maker of this incredible dress, and then contact me personally to beg me to make her one, too. I mean, really. Is that too much to ask?

Instead, I have a dress that I kinda like, but really doesn't melt my ice cream that much.

I shall take my fair share of the blame for this. I imagined the scalloped stripe of the fabric pattern would look brilliant in a kinda of 3D-hurt-your-eyes way amongst all the pleating and folding, but it just looks a bit muddled and lost. I also think the fabric has far too much white in it for my colouring. I have a feeling that a block colour would have worked better, like this gorgeous version by SilkWings in yellow.

Still, every though I don't wake up every morning dying to put this dress on, it's still pretty cute. And it has pockets. Phew - saving grace! Still, SJP - if you want it, just let me know.

CR Dress #4

CR Dress #2

CR Dress #3

CR Dress #1

Project Details
Pattern: Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity 2250
Fabric: 2.4m cotton print from GJ's Discount Fabrics
Notions: 30cm invisible zipper, lining for bodice, interfacing and elastic

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Simplicity 1803 - The Spotty Version

Jorth looked regretfully at the patterns assembled before her and took a deep breath. "Look guys, I'm sorry to say that you've all been replaced as my favourite pattern. My apologies, Vogue 8511 and Vogue 8184. You've been good patterns to me, and have been there for me when other patterns just weren't enough. But I've made you all too many times, and to be frank it seems I'm a one pattern girl. Simplicity 1803 is the one for me now."

"Buuuuuuuuut!" began the broken-hearted Vogues but Jorth stopped them in there tracks with a stern look. "Don't make this any messier than it has to be. You all know how much I love the Cabbage dress. Spots is just as good. There's nothing more to be said."

"Well..." said 8511 as Jorth left the room, spotted skirt a-swishing. "I guess we had a pretty good run whilst it lasted. And that Simplicity number is quite a dress!"

Spotty Dress #2

Spotty Dress #1

Spotty Dress #4

Spotty Dress #3

Yup friends, you read that right - I've made myself another version of Simplicity 1803, and I am in love! It's been made up in quite a heavy weight cotton, which really gives the skirt a lot of body, and makes it feel entirely different to the Cabbage dress.

Initially I tried to make View A, which had a bodice yoke, but it felt awful to wear. The neckline of the yoke sat right on that part of your throat that gives you the heebie jeebies if anybody ever touches it, so it had to come off! Yeuch. Hate that feeling! It meant a bit of extra faffing around cutting out new pattern pieces and doing quite a bit of unpicking, but I am glad I made the change.

What else did I do? Oh, that's right - I omitted the waist tie, as I knew I wanted to wear this dress with a belt. Everything else was left just as specified as the pattern said.

One last thing: Boy do I love those pockets!

Project Details
Pattern - Simplicity 1803, view B
Fabric - 2m of heavy weight printed cotton (from stash)
Notions - Interfacing, 40cm invisible zipper, bias binding for the armholes

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monthly Menu Plan - November/December


Er, not sure what happened with last month's menu plan. Sorry about that! But here we are, bigger and better then ever, and this time we've got added weekend breakfasts! Yup. Tyger is right into making breakfast on the weekend, so we did a deal - she could choose what we had, as long as we did one morning savoury and the other morning sweet. When she opens her own café one day I am so taking all the credit!

Week One:
Monday - Courgette and potato frittata with a garden salad
Tuesday - Spiced carrot and lentil soup with savoury scones
Wednesday - Brown rice and lentil salad with feta and roasted pumpkin
Thursday - Spring vegetable risotto
Friday - Pizza: Mushroom and balsamic onions, and pepperoni with chilli
Saturday - Bombay sliders with Jamie's chopped Indian salad
Sunday - Green curry with hot smoked salmon

Weekend breakfast #1 - Potato and egg bake
Weekend breakfast #2 - Pikelets with summer fruit salad and lemon curd

Week Two:
Monday - Spaghetti with peas, lemon and chilli, with rocket for topping
Tuesday - Baked potatoes, with coleslaw, corn, cheese, spinach, grated carrot and kidney beans
Wednesday - Roasted pumpkin soup, followed by zucchini and sweet potato slice with salad
Thursday - Cauliflower fritters with roasted beetroot and lentil salad
Friday - Jambalaya
Saturday - Night off - hooray, no cooking tonight!
Sunday - Beef and mushroom stroganoff with beans and sweet potato mash

Weekend breakfast #1 - Blueberry and buttermilk pancakes
Weekend breakfast #2 - Huevos rancheros with crusty bread

Week Three:
Monday - Chilled pea and avocado soup with watercress and egg sandwiches
Tuesday - Spinach gnudi with sage burnt butter, and a green salad
Wednesday - Pumpkin, feta and onion marmalade tart with rocket and avocado salad
Thursday - Spaghetti and meatballs
Friday - Tofu burgers with spicy wedges
Saturday - Sausages with home-style baked beans
Sunday - Pumpkin and ricotta cannelloni with garden salad

Weekend breakfast #1 - Fruit and nut breakfast bars
Weekend breakfast #2 - Apricot, cranberry and pistachio quinoa porridge

Week Four:
Monday - Strawberry gazpacho with roasted garlic, lemon and spinach bruschetta
Tuesday - Moroccan carrot and chickpea stew with couscous
Wednesday - Asparagus and ricotta tart with lettuce wedges and herb dressing
Thursday - Farro risotto with ricotta topping
Friday - Bean tacos with all the trimmings
Saturday - Roast chicken with salads
Sunday - Pumpkin soup (from freezer) and toasted sandwiches

Weekend breakfast #1 - Home made granola with fresh berries
Weekend breakfast #2 - Asian vegetable omelettes

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bedlam in the bedroom


"I wanna go out!" moaned the roses dress plaintively.

"No, I wanna go out!" wailed the spotted number.

"Oi! Lay off it, Dots! I said it first!" retorted Roses, ready for a punch up if it came to it. She had a belt, and she wasn't scared to use it.

"Pah!" replied Spotty, who was rocking a belt of her own. "You don't even have your hem finished yet! As if you'll be going anywhere anytime soon. Dream on, princess!"

"What about me?" groaned Simplicity 2250, who didn't have a belt, but felt safe enough in the wardrobe. "I've been finished for weeks now, but have I debuted on her blog? You can bet your nelly I haven't. Grrrr!"

"Oh, for heaven's sake, shut your zips!" roared Sabrina, the increasingly disgruntled dressmaker's dummy. "Nobody is going anywhere until this blasted rain stops!"

"Although I'll tell you what", she continued under her breath, "if Jorth doesn't get her act together and model some of these darn dresses, I'll be the one waltzing out the door, rain or no rain. Anything for some peace and quiet!"

Monday, November 11, 2013

Roses in bloom

Roses In Progress

Sabrina, the somewhat temperamental dressmaker's dummy, didn't give much of a toss about the handknits brigade. She studiously ignored the frantic click clack of Jorth's needles, and turned her thoughts instead to the sewing that was taking place. She always like a bit of the retro look, and considered Butterick 6582 to be right up her style aisle.

So whilst Jorth was running around like the proverbial chook minus it's head, bewailing the fact that she only had 19 days left to get the knitted dress finished, Sabrina instead contemplated the partly finished dress adorning her fine form, and, despite constantly hearing Jorth's panicky pants as she tried knit as fast as she could, thought to herself that things were indeed coming up roses.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Pink knitting disaster

All I wanted was a quiet weekend away, with the chance to get some good solid knitting done on my Lace Maxi Dress (see post below for image of said dress). As I knit I would plan out how I would wear this dress. Definitely with milkmaid plaits atop my head. Closed shoes or open strappy heels? Oh, choices, choices! But no fear - I would have many happy hours to ponder these things as my needles clicked together and the pink lace grew under my steady labour.

Or not. Being the good knitter I am, I swatched for the lace dress and then gaped at my swatch in horror. That wasn't lace so much as an invitation for everybody to view my private parts! When your swatch is bordering on indecent in it's see-through-ness, then you know that a whole dress knit up in it will be a skanky lacy disaster!

And since I was planning to wear this to my friend's wedding, it wasn't really the look I was going for. Hurumph.

I have a feeling my swatch was too holey because the yarn I used (Sirdar Baby Bamboo) contained no mohair, whereas the yarn specified, Noro Silk Garden Lite, contains a whopping 45% mohair. I can imagine all those fuzzy, free-floating mohair fibres would work to hold the lace together in a much more secure fashion. A case, methinks, of a garment being designed with a very particular yarn in mind.

Unfortunately I had no boundless yarn budget to purchase more yarn with. And I was stuck in the middle of the country, with only the yarn and needles I had brought with me. What's a knitter to do? No fear - pdf patterns to the rescue! I kissed my husband on the cheek for his foresight in lugging his laptop with him on our weekend away (no small feat considering we were on a cycling break!) and immediately downloaded the Principesa dress pattern, which I've wanted to make for aaaaaages. I quickly swatched, gave a joyful chortle of delight when my swatch worked with the yarn I had, and settled down to knit. So before you know it, this:


will soon turn into a hot pink version of this:


And I have 23 days to get it finished. Yikes!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Ultimate Pink Knitted Dress

I am loving working on my Betty cardigan at the moment, but I always find that I knit faster if I have another project lined up for after. Kind of like a carrot, urging me on. Except in this case it's not a tasty vegetable so much as a leaning tower of Baby Bamboo!

Baby Bamboo

Whooooo baby! Look at that pink! But soon it shall be learning tower no more, and instead will be the pinkest, raddest knitted dress of all time. I'm going to knit the Lace Maxi Dress from Noro Knitting Magazine Spring 2013, except mine is going to be shorter and whole lot more pinker.

Noro Dress

Yep, this dress totally needs to be made in hot pink yarn! I think I might need to seek out a slip for underneath, though. I may end up looking like a giant raspberry, but I don't want to be showing my actual raspberries, if you catch my drift.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pattern review: New Look 6884

Jorth Sewing Enterprises and Tyger Wears presents: The Best New Swirly Dress

Ruffle Dress #1

Ruffle Dress #2

Ruffle Dress #4

Ruffle Dress #3

See! Proof that I have actually been sewing. In fact, this is the 3rd dress I've made recently - it's just happens to be the only one I've managed to get photos of. Probably helps that it's always easier when you don't have to model it yourself, and the model you have makes any photo shoot fun with her ultra-hammy ways!

I made this using New Look 6884, in size 8, which is perfect both fit-wise and length-wise. This was one super easy dress to put together. The trickiest bit was doing the armhole binding, but I've done that a few times this year, so dudes! I'm like an old pro now! Hardly swore at all. Result!

The nicest part of this dress is the vintage orange buttons. Made even nicer by the fact that they came from Nan's button bag. They are perfect - I couldn't have found a better match if I'd tried.

I'd actually bought the pattern and fabric to make up last summer, but alas and alack ran out of time. So glad fabric doesn't go off, eh? Plus it feels like another awesome bit of stash busting. Hoorah!

Project Details
Pattern: New Look 6884, view B (minus the side ties), size 8
Fabric: 1.8m cotton quilting
Notions: Iron-on interfacing, 6 buttons

Monday, October 14, 2013

Orangey cakey messy

Ahh, the weekend. We really should have been doing lots of stuff, like paying bills or mopping floors or putting in our tax returns. Instead we make cake. And mess. And somebody even managed to flour-print his bottom.

And it was delicious. Every minute, every crumb of it!


Cake #2

Cake #3

Cake #4

Recipe found here.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Help with Simplicity 2250 - it's a sewing emergency!

Once upon a time there was a girl called Jorth. In her pattern stash Jorth had a pattern - Simplicity 2250 - and spent many a month waiting for the perfect fabric for the dress to come along.

Then one day she found it! She bought the required yardage, went home and cut out her pattern and then watched with dismay as the weather got cooler and cooler. She decided that she would wait until next summer to make the dress, and put it away and began to work on her winter projects instead.

The seasons rolled past, as they always do, and one fine spring day when Jorth was tidying up her sewing bureau she found the dress again - all cut out and ready to go. With delight she unpacked her sewing machine, set her tools out on the table next to her, and began to sew. Days passed and Jorth was up to the bit where she needed to insert the elastic in the back casing.

But horror! Could the elastic guide be found? Alas, it could not, though Jorth searched high and low. "Noooooooo!" she moaned. "Don't let the dress remain unfinished forever due to my slapdash packing away methods!"


So close, yet so far!

So fellow bloggers, seamstresses and friends: can ye help? I can't believe I have navigated the minefield of the bodice darts, heroically tackled the pleated and gathered skirt, even managed to decide between wide straps and thin, but have fallen at the elastic casing! If anybody has the Simplicity 2250 pattern at home, I would be forever in your debt if you could let me know how much elastic is required for the size 8 back elastic casing.

Just think of the amazing sewing karma you'll get yourself! The sewing gods will be preparing a special place in sewing heaven just for you, and using their special magic to make sure you never have trouble putting a zip in again! I promise!

Monday, October 07, 2013

Come and meet Betty!

Now, don't get me wrong - I love the school holidays and I especially love getting to hang out with Tyger, but when it comes to crafting I get nothing done. Nada. Zilch. Nary a sniff of my own projects. It's a battle struggling to balance entertaining her and fitting in my paid content writing work that alas, the poor old crafting tends to get left behind.

So after I have watched her trundle back into the school gates, and have turned homeward bound myself, my second thought is "YAY! I can get some projects done!", my first thought being, naturally, "Dang I'm going to miss her chatter during the day."

And it's true - I really do miss having my girl around. She is excellent company and there is always a slight hole when school starts back. Thank goodness I have yarn to comfort me!

Like this luscious purple 4ply merino I managed to swatch. It's for the Betty Knit-a-long I'm running at Handmaker's Factory, and I have to say: I think I'm in love! The pattern calls for a 10 play, but I couldn't resist this colour, and so am knitting with 2 strands of the 4 ply, cause I'm a rebel like that and I'll never ever be any good.

Betty Swatch

I must say, I am really excited about this cardigan. I love that tingly feeling that comes when you find the perfect project, and you cannot wait to embark upon it. The pattern looks complicated, but it's just a whole bunch of knits, purls, yarn overs and knit2togs, considerately spaced out over a 6 row repeat. Trust me, it sounds much harder than it looks. It's going to look so cute over a summer dress. The only danger is that Tyger will want one, too!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Monthly Menu Plan - September/October


Phwwwooooaaat! That's the sound of me blowing the dust off ye olde blog here. School holidays always seem to render blogging priority number nothing, despite my best intentions. Still, the show must go on and mouths must be fed, so here is a truncated version of this month's menu plan.

Week One:
Monday - Lentil spaghetti bolognaise with feta and parsley
Tuesday - Roast chicken
Wednesday - Asparagus, pea and rocket risotto with left-over roast chicken
Thursday - Quinoa-stuffed red capsicums with salad
Friday - Fish fingers with tartare sauce and garden salad
Saturday - Spinach tart with salad
Sunday - Spring vegetable stew

Week Two:
Monday - Spicy felafels in wraps with all the trimmings
Tuesday - Sweet potato gnocchi with rocket pesto
Wednesday - Tomato soup with cheesy melts
Thursday - Carrot and hummus crunch on sourdough
Friday - Indian lamb cutlets with chickpea salad
Saturday - Huevos rancheros
Sunday - Spiced vegetable and chickpea pilaf

Week Three:
Monday - Tuna macaroni and cheese with garden salad
Tuesday - Vegetable and tofu stir fry
Wednesday - Spring minestrone with garlic bread
Thursday - Left over minestrone
Friday - Pumpkin and haloumi burgers with potato salad
Saturday - Asparagus tart with salad

Friday, September 13, 2013

Chevron Baby Blanket


The Purl Soho Chevron Baby Blanket is donzo, peoples! I love a quick, fat knit, and boy oh boy, was this a quick fat knit! The yarn is doubled and it's knit up on 8mm, so it fairly zoomed along.

I must say, I think this is the softest, most cuddly thing I have ever knit. It's going to be the perfect blanket for tucking a wee one up in a pram when the wind gets chilly, or for throwing on the ground at the park to gaze up at the trees from. It's lovely, but also hardy and practical. I remember when Tyger was born I was given a small fleecy blanket (not handknit, alas) and at the time I thought "What am I doing to do with this small pink thing?!?", but wouldn't you know it became one of our most-used baby items, being washable and portable and warm, and to this day when she feels poorly the Tyger will request her butterfly blanket to curl under. Not that much of her fits under it anymore, but still - butterfly blanket must be had!

So babies + blankets = a good thing. I hope this blanket has such a happy future awaiting it!

Project Details
Pattern: Purl Soho Chevron Baby Blanket
Yarn: Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Organic Cotton in the following colours: Lemongrass, Lemonade, Bone, Tulip, Drift, Sleet, and Graphite
Needles: 8mm circulars

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The blanket sits for yet another portrait

Blanket Again

I know, I know. Another blanket soft fuzzy close up. What can I say, except that I am really enjoying knitting this up, and am rather quite sad that I'm up to the last colour. Sniff! The colour scheme, which reminds me of the tussle between clouds and sunshine on an uncertain day, perfectly sums up my feelings about this blanket. One minute I'm lavishing the blanket with the fondest of feelings: "Oh, I LOVE this blanket. It's so loverly! Sunshine all around!" and then next I'm dampening the darn thing with my tears: "But it's almost finished. It's like parting forever from a beloved one. Will my heart ever recover? The clouds, oh the clouds, how they descend so dark and grey. Waaaaaaaahhhhhh!"

This says two things to me: one, I really should stop getting so attached to blankets that I knit. Two, thank goodness I live in somewhat enlightened times, where it's ok to be a touch imaginative, and emotionally invested in one's handknits. Imagine proclaiming these thoughts 100 years ago. I would have been bundled off to a restorative sanatorium for overwrought females who knit too much in no time. Yikes!

Actually, now that I've visualised it, a quiet retreat for people who knit too much could be quite the thing. Especially if they allow you to keep knitting. And feed you excellent meals at least 3 times a day. And forcibly remove your smart phones, so that nobody can bug you and you can cure your addiction to Dots at the same time. Doesn't it just sound splendid? Right: must find one and book myself in immediately!

Thursday, September 05, 2013

She choked

Sabrina the rather bad-tempered dressmaker's dummy scarcely waited until Jorth had left the room before bursting forth with narky indignation. "What does she think she is doing? She was meant to be making Simplicity 1803 with a front yoke detail. Instead, she's ripped that off and is now basically making another version the same as the cabbage dress. This is meant to be new dress, not a redux!"

"She choked!" piped up a brave quick-un-pick, who had seen a bit of action that day, and as a result was feeling a bit more important than they usually did, which lent them some momentary courage.

It was just as well that the quick-un-pick did have that courage up their sleeve, because Sabrina rounded upon their statement immediately. "Tool! Listen here: It has been many a blue moon since Jorth choked over a sewing project, and if I have my way she won't be doing it on my watch!"

The poor quick-un-pick felt their tip go dull with fear, but was determined to put wrongs to rights. "Nooooooooo! You misunderstand me - she literally, actually, absolutely, decidedly, totally choked when she put the bodice with the yoke on. I can't believe you didn't see it - she was flailing about with her hands trying desperately to rip it off, claiming in a weird raspy squawk that she couldn't breathe with the darn thing on, and that wearing it was worse than going into anaphylactic shock!"

With a bewildered air the gutsy little quick-un-pick said "Truly - it was quite the spectacle. Are you sure you didn't see it?"

"Well", huffed Sabrina, slightly abashed for once, "an old mannequin such as myself needs her beauty sleep occasionally. I can't be keeping an eye on everything that goes on around here!"


Wednesday, September 04, 2013


The best part about knitting a blanket is that it isn't long before you look down at it and think to yourself, "Heh - this thing actually does look like a blanket!"

As opposed to when you knit a dress, and you think (a) what the hell am I doing and (b) what the heck is that piece for?!?

Another blanket virtue is that it keeps your knees super snuggly warm whilst you knit. Which is another reason why I gotta get this thing done pronto - it's already heating up here. Four chevrons down, three to go!

In Progress Blankie

Monday, September 02, 2013


The nicest thing about Sunday was the weather. Being Father's Day, Galumph had declared that he would like to ride over to Brighton, and meet his dad for lunch. So I dug out some strappy sandals, threw on the cabbage dress and off we went, pedalling lazily in the glorious sunshine.

Oh, did I mention that Miette came along for the ride? Her very first outing, and I couldn't have picked a more perfect day for it!

Miette #1

Miette #2

Miette #3

Project Details
Pattern: Miette cardigan by Andi Satterlund
Yarn: 5 balls of Rowan Pure Wool Aran in shade 679, purchased from Sunspun
Needles: 4.5mm and 5mm circular needles
Notions: 8 buttons from Buttonmania

This project was a LOT of fun, especially doing it as part of the knit-a-long at Handmaker's Factory. Not only did I get to hang out with some pretty amazing knitters, but I also mastered some awesome techniques, such as knitting from the top down and using the old magic loop method to knit the sleeves. Seriously, so much knitting fun should not be contained in a single garment!

Word from the wise, though: if you are attempting to knit this cardigan for yourself, the pattern is designed with 2 inches of negative ease. What does this mean for the layman? It means that the finished garment will be 2 inches smaller than your body's measurements (bust, waist, hip), so that the knit fits in a snug manner. If you like a looser garment, then you might need to move up a size. I knit the size 34, and trust me - it's a tight fit! If I do up the buttons, I could almost pass for one of those naughty but nice 1950's sweater girls! Well, minus the odd triangular bosoms.

Ahh, Miette. I am so glad you are finished. Yesterday was the perfect day for her - kept the sea breezes nicely at bay (Ha! A beach pun!) Speaking of finishing, I am most looking forward to seeing all the other finished Miettes from the knit-a-long. I think we need a Miette cocktail night, where we frighten the bar staff at some swish drinking hole by all turning up in the same cardigan. Slightly tipsy group photo, here we come!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pattern review: Josephine Dress by Violet Field Threads

Do you ever make a project, and stop and look at it half-way through, and begin to wonder if it's really going to turn out as well as you hope it will? That, dear readers, was what happened during the making of this, the Josephine dress. As the sewing on this progressed, I kept the dress on a coat hanger in my room, and every time I glanced upon it I began to be assailed by the fear that Tyger wouldn't end up with a cute dress, but something oddly resembling a 1950's housecoat, which needless to say, wasn't quite the look I was going for!

It just seemed so large. And frumpy. And housecoatey. Thankfully, with the help of some grosgrain ribbon working as a belt, it turned out AWESOME!

Josephine #1

Josephine #2

Josephine #3

Admittedly, it is a little on the big side, but the ribbon helps cinch it in. And it looks pretty darn cute on Tyger, who got loads of compliments on it when she wore it on the weekend. Phew! Sewing failure averted!

Now down to the pattern nitty gritty. As you can probably tell, the pattern runs a little on the large size. That's fine for us, as it means Tyger can wear it again next winter, but if you were making it for a special occasion and wanted the perfect fit right here, right now, then you might want to go down a size and add length as required.

It was a fairly easy pattern to put together, but one thing that slightly bugged me was the fact that the pintucks were not marked on the pattern. Instead, after attaching the ruffled button band, you had to measure and manually work out the pintuck placement for yourself. I'd prefer it to be marked on the pattern itself, as is usually the case.

The other quibble I have is that a pattern piece for the button band ruffles is not included, so unless you carefully read through the entire pattern before cutting out, you might not realise that you needed to measure and then cut out the two pieces yourself. Considering that the pieces required for the larger dress size come in at 43 inches, you'd hate to not have enough fabric, or have gotten rid of your fabric scraps like I almost did.

So my verdict is: cute pattern, but read through the entire instructions carefully before embarking!

Project Details
Pattern: Josephine Dress by Violet Field Threads, size 9-10
Fabric: 1.5m of Raindrops Poppies Platinum from the Field Study collection by Anna Maria Horner
Notions: 15 buttons, 1.5m black grosgrain ribbon, matching grey bias binding