Thursday, 25 June 2009

This is a gift I made for a girl at work who has left to have a baby. She was only with us for a few months but we got along really well and she made such a contribution that I felt I really wanted to make something nice to give her as a leaving gift.

I used the Li'l Monkey pattern from Stitch and Bitch – The Happy Hooker as a base but made plain granny squares, did 5 rows of 5 (instead of four rows of four), and added quite a wide border. All this was essentially because my yarn was finer than the one specified in the pattern.

I chose the yarn primarily on colour availability. It was pretty reasonably priced at around $3 or $4 per ball (I can’t exactly remember). Unfortunately I managed to throw out all the ball bands so I can’t tell you the brand. It is 8ply and cotton-y in texture, but very soft.

I’ve never made a baby blanket before but I quite enjoyed it. I crocheted some of the border in the car on the way to my mini-break in Margaret River which passed the time and allowed me to make good progress without getting too bored.

I love how it turned out. The colours are lovely and cheerful and it’s a pretty good size – about 65cm square.
I am now working on another blanket, this time for my stepsister-in-law. This blanket is a knitted one and is all in one piece. Aside from having a lot less ends to darn in, which is a plus, I am finding it quite tedious. I need to find:
a) some free time, and
b) a couple of lightweight dvds
so I can get over the hump on it!
Here's a close up on a few of the squares.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

New Look 6588: The Birthday Dress

So here, finally, is the review of my birthday dress…

My original plan was to use Vogue 2978 but on reflection I decided this dress would not be the best choice for me because:
  • I think the gathered neckline would make my full-ish bust look lumpy,
  • The puffy sleeves could be a little ‘young’,
  • Raglan sleeves are not always the best choice for narrow shoulders,
  • The low armholes would do nothing for my short torso, and last but not least
  • Since my waist is a full inch higher on my left than my right (thanks to my sciatica) putting an elastic band around this part of my body would only highlight my lopsidedness.
After careful consideration I decided to go with New Look 6588 (which seems to be OOP now) instead as I didn’t have time to stuff around getting a muslin right.

My colour choices were chocolate brown, rich purple or navy blue. Navy was the only colour I could find in the shop so that’s what I chose! I knew it would be really cold on the night so I would have to layer up. This was always going to involve a long-sleeved black tee and black opaque tights. That’s why I chose to make the slip in black rather than matching it to the dress, I figured that one consistent colour in the under-layer would look better than having a navy slip.

You've already seen it on me so here it is on the dummy.

Pattern Description:
Dress with flutter sleeves and elasticated empire waist with bias cut slip.

Pattern Sizing:
8-18. I cut a 12 tapering to a 14 on the hip.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes except for the change I made to the elastic placement.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes, they were pretty clear, I'd rate this a fairly straightforward pattern, the difficulty would lie in making it in a temperamental fabric.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
The slip was a complete freakin nightmare to make! It doesn’t fit very nicely on the bust and the pleats are quite bulky for an under-layer.
Mostly the fabric was just terrible to sew. I’ve worked in bridal and had a fair amount of experience with silk satin but this one has such a tight weave it repelled the needle. I tried a couple of size 60 microtex, which snapped from overwork, but the size 80 microtex made a terrible noise as it punctured the fabric (and no, I didn’t have any 70s on hand to try). In the end I finished the lower edge of the bodice (where it joins to the skirt) with zig zag instead of trying to bind it and I finished the bottom edge with an overlocked rolled hem.

I made French seams on the sides. When I tried it on at first it looked like a sack, so I took in the side seams, forgetting in my haste that it would get shorter so it is a smidge shorter than I would like. That will teach me to make things in a hurry I suppose.

If I wear the dress again I’ll definitely make a new slip and probably not from this pattern (or fabric).

The dress was a dream to make in comparison. It went together easily, fit nicely (mind you there isn’t much fitting involved) and looks great (imho). I used very fine French seams throughout (about 3mm) except the armhole seam which I zig zagged and trimmed back, rather than bind and topstitch as in the pattern instructions. I hemmed the bottom with a straight stitched rolled hem.
Fabric Used:
The fabrics were silk chiffon for the dress and silk satin for the slip.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
The only alterations I made were on the dress:

  • I used the selvedge instead of hemming the straight opening at the top of the flutter sleeve,
  • I took 3cm out from the back neck, tapering to nothing at the bottom of the bodice seam, and
  • I used the elastic guide from the vogue pattern to space out the rows of elastic and bring the lowest row down to the bottom of my rib cage (the lowest point before I go wonky).

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

I would actually. The style lends itself to a range of fabrics and occasions. In a print it might be okay for work in the summer.


So what do you think? It’s a bit different for me, not really being the floaty type but I like it.

Here is my fella helping with the photo shoot.

Monday, 8 June 2009

My Mini-Break

Okay this is another non-sewing post, but I promise I'll catch up soon. I really wanted to share some pictures of my mini-break in Margaret River.

Not only is Perth a beautiful and livable city (if somewhat isolated), we are lucky enough to be only 3 1/2 hours drive from the most amazing region, referred to as 'Down South' or 'Margaret River' (which is actually only one town in a much larger region) by locals. Pretty much anything you would want to do on a holiday can be found in the area. There are beaches to swim or surf, untouched forest and bushland to explore, wineries, breweries, gourmet food, arts and crafts (such as potteries and glass blowers) - you name it you can find it! I don't get there nearly enough and I was so excited about going away this time. We only had a short break (two nights) but we managed to pack a lot in. We decided not to do the wineries this time and focused on really chilling out and exploring.

This is the cottage we stayed in. There are eight in the group but you cannot see or hear any of the other cottages, there is 100m of bush between each one. The decor was a little dated (this might just be me as I am not a fan of the 'country' style) but it was spotlessly clean and comfortable and quiet - all you could hear was birdsong and creatures rustling around in the bushes (I admit the city girl in me got a bit freaked out by the quiet!).

Here are a couple of shots of the bushland around the cottage:

When we arrived we saw probably 30 kangaroos grazing on the paddock at the top of the drive - normally I am not a big fan of roos as I am terrified of hitting one with my car - it would be very bad for the roo, my car and me!

The owners encourage you to leave out veggie and fruit scraps on the back porch and leave the light on. We did this one night and had a great time watching a pair of possums coming up to the house and snacking on the food. They were so cute!

As we were driving along at one point a Kookaburra swooped right in front of the car, fortunately we didn't hit it but it gave us quite a fright. Finally as we were leaving to come home, 3 emus ran across the driveway in front of us so we certainly had plenty of wildlife adventures!

The weather was perfect, sunny and in the low 20's (Celsius of course) in the day and cold at night. Luckily we had a pot belly stove we could crank up as we settled in for the evenings.

This photo is of Prevelly Point, a surf break near the mouth of the Margaret River. There were a few surfers out but it was pretty flat.

This is a photo of Leeuwin, where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet.
We visited the Margaret River Chocolate Factory - and exercised remarkable restraint! I don't know how they get the chocolate so creamy, it really is wonderful. We also visited Providore, which is associated with the chocolate factory, I was less restrained here stocking up on Raspberry and Rhubarb jam, English style marmalade and a grainy tomato mustard - but there was a lot of other stuff that could have come home with me!

Out the back there was an organic veggie garden complete with chicken coop. Here is my fella with some happy organic chickens.
Our final stop was the Bootleg Brewery, this is a view from their beer garden.
Overall, we both had a fantastic relaxing break and can't wait to go back again. If you ever get the chance to visit Western Australia, do try and get to the South West you won't regret it!

Lovely Blog Award

Thanks to Rose who has awarded me the "Lovely Blog Award". I am touched, particularly since I've been a little slack about my sewing projects lately!
1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.
2) Pass the award on to 5 other blogs that you've newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggeers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
Here are my five: