Sunday, December 19, 2010

Giveaway Winners!

I was so excited to participate for the first time offering a giveaway.

I had lots of entries and had fun visiting the blogs of people who entered. If I didn't get back to you, I'm sorry. It seems that Giveaway Day this time round fell at the same time as so many other things, but I am hoping to be able to return the visits over the next few weeks. 

Thanks to everyone that stopped by for the visit.

Without further ado, the winners. 

The winner of the Oliver + S Sketchbook shirt is

Congratulations Steph. I have sent you and email.

And the Quilting Shop Guide goes to ...

Congratulations, an email has been sent to you too.

Thanks again everyone!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

On Preserves and Jam

Looking for the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Post? It's here.

I can't believe that it is already the 16th of December and it has been 4 days since my last post! Crazy times. Here in Melbourne we are gearing up for Christmas, usually a hot summer day, and we still have the heater on in the office today.

I work in education so this last week of school is crazy busy trying to finish all the things before the students all go on holidays. So I have a stack of things to finish over the holidays, but at least I can do it from home and fit it in around some sewing....

Next week the holiday visitors start to arrive, my partners mum and sister on Monday and my parents later in the week .... a full house.

It must be the inspiration of all this domestic planning and preparing from scratch food and homemade gifts but I have also made lots of 'pantry items' in the last few weeks.
With a bulk purchase of mangos as a fundraiser came some Mango Chutney from this recipe. I had to have two goes at this one as a fell asleep during the first rendition and all the sugar stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cleaning the burnt sugar took longer than finishing eating the first jar, great in chicken sandwiches.

My Dad also loves fruity mince items so there has been some fruit mince set to cure in the fridge for pies when he get here next week, a Christams Fruitcake is settling in the sealed tin and plans are afoot for a boiled traditional Christmas pudding from Nigella's Christmas.

And because I had got in the groove I made some peach and passionfrut jam from the CWA Preserves

There is also some ginger beer curing under the trough in the laundry (just in case the fermentation breaks the bottles) inspired by this post from flowerpress. The first batch is ready for the fridge when I get home this afternoon!

Next up on my list is the menu planning, finishing the hadmade decorations and a few gifts as well as some projects set aside for the Christmas break.

Monday, December 13, 2010

It is Giveaway Day!

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who visited and entered during Giveaway Week. The giveaway in now closed and I'll announce the winners soon. I hope you enjoyed your visit and come again soon.

Welcome to my little corner of the blogland on Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day!

If you are anything like me you will be keen to stop in, enter the giveaway and then keep searching out other giveaways.

Far be it for me to slop down your tour, but please feel free to pop back again later and have a more leisurely look around.

I have two giveaway prizes so that will mean two winners. I am happy to ship anywhere but, especially for the shirt, please realise it may not arrive before Christmas if you live far away.

1. Australian Quilt Shop Guide
This is a great little book and I love mine. Somehow I ended up with two so the second is up for grabs. For international guests there are also a number of online store listed so may still prove useful.

2. Christmas Sketchbook Shirt - From and Oliver+S pattern
In size 2T this shirt would be stylish Christmas wear for boys or girls.

To enter, please leave a comment letting me know which prize you would love to win, leave two comments if you would love either prize. I will be printing and drawing them from a hat. Please also make sure I have a way to contact you, either from an email address in your comment or a link on your profile.

Good luck, and hope to see you here again soon!

Colette Pattern No. II - The Macaroon Dress

This took a bit longer to finish than I had anticipated. Not because it was tricky or I got stuck but because this time of year, both at work and at home, is really busy. Rather than push myself to get it done (and inevitably make mistakes) I took the advice printed on the inside of the instruction book and took my time to enjoy the process of making something for myself.  
It has a tailored look, with back neck darts, skirt darts and something that sells me on a lot of garments, POCKETS!
The bodice is top stitched to the yoke in a similar manner to the top middle and bottom sections in the Cinnamon slip.
A great dress for work this summer.

By the way, did you meet my new garment sewing buddy Mindy. She is just like me.
The pattern is available here.

Please pop back later tonight - I will be participating in Giveaway Day hosted by Sew Mama Sew, but am trying to wait for the 13th in the US before I post. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

St Nikoulas Swap

Oh No! this was supposed to post automatically yesterday and there seems to have been a glitch. Please mentally take a step back in time and pretend it is the 6th of December as you read this.

For those of you not from recent Central European descent, like myself, a quick explanation of St Nikolaus/Nicholas/Nikola (St N for short from here) day.

Depending on the country in which you are celebrating the tradition St N's feast day, the 6th of December, is also a day where children are given presents (in the same vein at Santa visiting children who have been good all year) as, among other groups St N is the patron saint of children.
St N and Santa :
Although this day falls early in the Advent season the gift giving has little to do with Christmas. for children that have not been good they receive, instead a visit from Krampus, he will leave a rod for the children to be disciplined with. Depending on the country or family traditions may of these details, including the date, may be different. Gifts are left in the child's boot, left near a window or some other accessible area.

In case you are wondering, in the experience of my friends who grew up in these areas this is your gift for this time of the year, Santa doesn't come 3 weeks later.
It just so happens that my partner comes from one of the Central European countries, that he doesn't 'get' gift giving at Christmas times but loves this tradition, and that St N's day also happens to be his Name Day (another long story for another day). So when I saw this swap I wanted to join, I thought about how busy I would be around this time, how many other things I wanted to be making over the last few months and how it might make me really stressed, and then I joined anyway.

It was only a small swap, 14 people and most were from America, as seems to be the case in Flickr swaps. But the person I was making for happened to be the Swap Mama, from Germany.

Which meant a few things, 
1. I couldn't post sneak peaks - Anything I showed my partner would instantly know was for her. 
2. I had to make a decision if I was going to go with the Christmas (St Nicholas American style) theme that was developing or make items I thought my partner would like, not necessarily Christmas-y, which was my understanding of her original plan for the swap. Her inspiration email helped a little, as did some of her early descriptions for the swap. 

I decided to go with a mix of Christmas and everyday, with the focus on everyday. 

So this post is pictures of what I made, for my partner to see. As there was a slight mix-up with the addresses I couldn't post until the last minute and with the distance and the Christmas mail is probably a few weeks away.  Hopefully these pictures will deliver some excitement during the wait.

The first item is a decorative reindeer, from a pattern by Melly & Me.

Hopefully he or she can adorn an area and watch over the Christmas festivities. As my partner has young children I left off the buttons for safety and made the horns a little shorter for durability.

My partner also suggested something for the sewing corner, and I came up with this mat to protect the table from the machine vibrations. 

It has this cute vintage tape fabric for borders on two sides, and plaid style straight line quilting on the machine surface.  

The right hand side has a little removable pin cushion that can be removed by undoing the buttons for carrying to the ironing board or cutting table as well as a little pocket some some small snipping scissors.

Hope you like it partner!

The final sewn item is a magic cushion featuring a linen fabric that my partner said she liked to add to the extensive cushion collection she mentioned. The blocks that make up the cushion are reasonable geometric and show off the linen well. It is a large lap size and includes a pocket for folding at the back. This doubles as a great foot warmer when having a little rest under it!


The undone view is a surprise!

The package is all labelled with these cards, I sewed some fabric to some card stock and wrote on the card side.

There are a few little extra bibs and bobs in the envelope as well, so careful when opening!

Now to wait patiently for my own package to arrive. Unfortunately it looks like there will be a little delay on this too but good to know so I don't scare the mailman with my stalking!

Colette Patterns - Cinnamon Slip dress

With Christmas coming there is a lot of crafty sewing going on and at the moment and it is of the secret kind so I can't share most of it here yet.

In the meantime I can share some garment sewing that I am also spending sometime on.

The first things I want to say are that, although I enjoy garment sewing, and clothes were how I learnt to sew, I can't seem to have much success in adult garments. Kids clothes are fine. When sewing clothes for adults, especially women, I find the seams don't match, the fit is not at described (either way too big and rarely too small) and I'm generally disappointed with the result. It is part of the reason it has taken me so long to finish one of the Colette Patterns I have started. I didn't want to be disappointed.

On Sunday I finally did finish one and I was really happy with the result, no disappointment here!

As I mentioned on Friday the plan was a Cinnamon slip in Anna Maria Voile.

I duly traced out the pattern onto lightweight interfacing, cut out the fabric and started sewing. I started the sewing after dinner and it was done by bedtime. Yay!

The pattern instructions are clear, despite me being a little tired there were no head scratching, forehead scrunching moments and the seams all matched.

As almost all the pieces were cut on the bias there were some handy tips on allowing some movement in the seams for wearing and to prevent stretching and puckering when sewing. Most of the seams were sewn with a very narrow zigzag stitch. This is the top stitching on the bodice band.
The straps are woven through panels on the front and attached at the back making some bust adjustment possible in the wearing.
All in all I'm very happy. It is comfortable to sleep in, versatile enough to actually be a slip, or a light summer dress or a more fancy evening dress in the right fabric I suspect.
I am so enthused I've made a start on the next one... the Macaroon is on the way.

The Cinnamon pattern is avaliable here.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Colette Patterns - From the shelf in my sewing room to you

Have you heard of these patterns? Colette Patterns is a boutique pattern company from New York in the United States. They have a blog here. At the moment that have only 13 patterns, with a 14th (the first one for men) due out soon. So far all the patterns have a modern vintage feel.

I like them.

I came across them for the first time during Make It, Wear It month at Sew Mama Sew earlier this year when they posted this image as an inspiration on the second day. I bought the pattern for the Lady Grey and one of the others.

I haven't finished either yet because I have a habit of getting excited and starting new things. Plus it is too hot for the jacket this time of year. What I have done so far has worked out great.

But a few weeks ago, when I was still thinking I had enough time to sew a dress for my brother's wedding, I went online to order another pattern from the US because I couldn't find it in Australia.

While I was on there I was playing around with some different things and wished I could have access to these great patterns faster. And I saw the wholesale button. 

To cut a long story short I ordered quite a few patterns for myself as well as some extras that I have listed for sale in my Craftumi store. The favourable dollar at the moment means that I can offer them for the same amount as the RRP in US dollars and the shipping is cheaper and faster to you, if you happen to be in Australia.

And since I also got copies for myself as well I'm making myself some new summer clothes.
First, a nightie from the Cinnamon pattern with some Anna Maria Horner

and then a Parfait dress with some Liberty

I also have a Macaroon dress traced out, but no good picture.

I'll keep you posted on my progress. I'm going for one or two a week over summer!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Today I feel mostly human again. It has been a little while. It turns out I need sleep, not a huge amount, but enough. And about 10 hours in three days is not enough, not for me anyhow. And getting up at 5:30am to go to work when you got back from the airport at 2am is not going to make for a pleasant work day. I don’t know how parents do it, keeping those sort of hours for years. Perhaps some sort of hormonal cocktail that has yet to be discovered. Whatever it is I could have done with some the last few days.

We did finally get to Perth, and when I say finally it was only about 4 hours later than planned but the knowledge that we had been at the airport in enough time to catch the early flight as planned and when we didn’t that we had gotten up at 4:30am for no reason made it a little hard to swallow. My brother’s wedding was lovely, I’d show a photo, but I didn’t remember to take any. I was also able to catch up with some friends I wouldn’t have otherwise seen until next April. So, a great weekend all round, just tiring.

I did have a list of projects that I wanted to complete last week before we left. I didn’t. But that is OK, because it was making me stressed and a hobby shouldn’t make you stressed, it should relieve it.

So over the last couple of nights, in the hour or two before I got so tired I was likely to sew my finger to the fabric I completed my November block for do. Good Stitches {a Charity Bee}. The founder of this wonderful bee, Rachel, is out Bee Mama for this month and requested we make blocks for a quilt to be given to a very young mother to be who has a baby daughter due in January. Rachel had asked us to choose a particular block in the quilt to complete, with each of the diagonal rows being a slightly different colour scheme so the diagonal rows in the finished quilt would go from tan to yellow, to orange to pink to red. We had free reign with the design of the block, as long as we included and embroidered panel Rachel sent to us.

My panel was 6x3” and I sat on it for a little while as I didn’t want to do another log cabin (it seems to be my fall back design) but couldn’t think of anything else I could do that would include a rectangle design. In the end I though ‘pinwheels’ but know that I would have to piece then differently to normal as the block couldn’t bee all pinwheels (it would be too ‘busy’ and the embroidery would be lost)and they couldn’t be regular and still make the 12.5” block requested. In the end I look my graph paper pad to work and started sketching at lunchtime. I blocked out an area for the panel in an off centre location and then just started drawing pinwheels of different sizes, leaving some gaps. When it finished I was really happy with the layout. I just had to find a way to sew 1” finished pinwheels and work out the fabric.

In the end I made most of the small pinwheels in a larger size and cut them down at the end, with a different yellow print for each size pinwheel. It did make for some fabric wastage, and I am generally not keen on that but it was the only way I could get them done accurately enough. It also really helped with getting the bulk of the units through the machine, considerable at the centres as I had used some linen as well. I then went down to the LQS and bought a solid that blended well with the different yellow prints in the pinwheels. When this was added to the outside of the pinwheels it made the linen rather than the print stand out which I had not considered at the beginning but the overall ‘look’ is still the right colour, I think. It also really helps the panel stand out which I good too, I think.

Tiredness aside, this was a marathon piecing effort with all the different size pinwheels and different prints to cut, about 3-4 hours all up at a guess. I really think, though, that the time was well spent. I really like the modern twist on a traditional look, but I wouldn’t want to make a whole quilt that way!

On the cards this week,

Mango chutney Note to self: do not fall asleep when making it this time and burn the sugar to the bottom of the pan

Ginger beer plant from flowerpress (followed by the ginger beer in 9 days)
• Finishing and posting my St Nickolas Swap items (SOON!!)
• Peach and Passionfruit Jam
• Planning for Christmas (including making the pudding and some fruitmince)
• Tracing some patterns for some new summer clothes for myself.

Sometimes I really think I should be a 50’s housewife....