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2013 in Review

Hi, it's been a while. I've still been very busy sewing and crafting, I just haven't posted since October. I misplaced my iPad keyboard which made typing a post a bit difficult, and then life in the form of a 5th birthday party and Christmas got in the way. Yesterday I found my keyboard, so it must have been a sign that I need to get back on the blogging wagon this year.

So, I'm just going to have a quick look at my sewing New Years resolutions I made this time last year, before I plough, head first, into 2014.

2013 Sewing New Years Resolutions

1. Re-organise and tidy up my sewing supplies. Well, they looked nice when I did this at the start of the year.

2. Sew more practical things that I can and will actually wear. Moderately successfully on this one.

3. Sew more muslins before I make the final garment. Yes, I definately learning the value of making a muslin before I cut into that good fabric.

4. Make a few variations of the Darling Ranges dress to learn how to utilitise a pattern to its fullest. I only completed two dresses, but I've used the skirt and pocket pieces constantly.

5. Shop my stash first. Well, I've not done too bad with this, but I have kept adding to my ever-growing my stash with some great op-shop finds. Not too many new-new fabric purchase though.

6. TRY (emphasis on try) to empty my WIP basket. I did finish a few things in there, got rid of a few and I think I'm over the rest.

7. Try not to over think things, when I do I'm always frozen with indecision and fear of failure and never end up making anything. Oh, well, I'm still working on this one, but I am getting better.

8. Sew at least one item from the Colette sewing handbook. I tried my best here, I really did. I made a muslin of the Pastille dress, but their patterns just don't flatter my shape and aren't really my style I think.

9. Sew more things for the kids. Eh…um. Next.

10. Consider moving from my baby blog here on Tumblr, to a grown-up blog on either Blogger or WordPress. Ta da!

And there we have it. I'm not sure I really want to set myself resolutions as such this year, maybe just a few things I like to try. More like suggestions to myself, rather than rigid resolutions.

  1. Making pants.
  2. Making a shirt.
  3. Making another coat.

This year is going to be a busy/exciting/nerve-racking/stressful/different year. I'm going back to work (part time) after 2 years, my eldest starts school and my son is starting child care. But, with all that, I hope I can find the time to get the ball rolling on our shed/garage plans. We need to knock down an old one and replace it with a large and shiney new one, with a studio space for all my sewing stuff. Yay, a dedicated sewing area! Bring it on 2014!



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The Croquis Initiative

One of my new years sewing resolutions was to sew one of the patterns from the Colette Sewing Handbook. I received the book as a Christmas present from my Husband in 2011, and haven't sewn one thing from it. That's pretty shameful, no? While I was looking through the book trying to find the best pattern to tackle (I'm thinking the Pastille btw), I found the page on making your own croquis and was a little intrigued. I didn't want to stuff about with getting my husband to take photos of me, and go throught all the drama of making my own croquis if I wasn't even sure I was going to use it. A quick search on the internet found this link to a site that has heaps of free croquis that you can print and use. Even though I'm not making my own specific croquis, I still wanted one that was close to my body shape. After sifting through them all I found this one.

I was quiet happy that this most closely matched my body shape, until I realised that this was the fashion croquis for a child. Yes, that's right, a child! (Well, probably a teenager, but still!). My mutantly small frame aside, it's been great. I've been sketching away for the last few weeks coming up with all sorts of sewing plans. I'm sure most will never get made, but it is a great way to visualise a design. And the colouring in of the pictures is quiet relaxing.

Here are a few of my designs. Most are for a future self imposed challenge I like to call “The White Sheet Project” (more on that later) and the other two are plans with fabric from my stash. It's a little hard to see the details in this scanned images, but you can get the idea.

I have a slightly modified copy of the above croquis, with a dark outline, that I trace onto a piece of white paper and fill in with my design. I'd love to buy a sketch book and use that so that my designs are all together, but the paper in all the sketch books I've found are too thick to see the croquis underneather. So, for the time being I'm using A5 (half size) computer/printer paper.

If you've struggling to visualise your designs, I highly recommend using a fashion croquis, either your own or a generic one. It has helped me enormously and if nothing else, it's an excuse to get out the pencils and do a bit of colouring.


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Birthday Haul

I'm sorry I haven't been posting, it's been Crazy Town here and in amongst all the craziness, I had a birthday. I'm getting to that age where you've got most of the things you could want or need. My family just looked at me blankly when I asked for a walking foot for my sewing machine, so I asked for money instead.

I had asked my sister to find me some vintage sewing gems in her op-shop travels. I forgot to tell her that I consider anything more than 20 years old was good enough, so she went all out.


My daughter decided I need more craft supplies so we could do more crafting together and this is what she picked.

I also received some money with instructions as to what it was for, so I need to book and mani-pedi and a massage.

As for all that cash, well, who knows what crafty/fabricy goodness I'll spend it on. But I did order myself that walking foot.


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Dollhouse stuff part 1

For Christmas last year (2012), my dad built my daughter a wooden dollhouse. The house is home to a Sylvanian Honey Fox family and a bunch of mini lalaloopsy dolls and my daughter loves it! Every week (or couple of days) she asks me to make her dolls something that they absolutely need. Like a fridge. A cardboard box some aluminium foil, paper, tape, and a toothpick later and here we are.


Two weeks ago it was brooms, mops and a vacuum cleaner. I made the brooms from bamboo skewers, paddle pop sticks (craft sticks or whatever you want to call them), white craft foam and my glue gun. The vacuum cleaner is made with; a straw, string, cardboard, felt, bottle cap and buttons. I don't know why my daughter was so eager to play 'cleaning up the house' with her dolls, as she never wants to do it had home. But I am glad to see that the Dad does the vacuuming in that house, just as he does in this one.

Last week it was a medical kit. Milly specified a stethoscope, medicine, a medicine spoon, needle and bandages. I used wire, craft foam, tape, gem stickers, a straw, a toothpick, a tissue, a pony bead and hot glue.

Yesterday it was money, so Mother Honey Fox could go shopping. That's something I could sympathise with, and of course a purse and handbag to carry it in. We used paper, pencils, string, silver card and hole punches.

I'm sure there will be many more things my daughter will think up in her busy little brain, so stay tuned.


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Chambray Darling Ranges Shirt

After I finished all the modications on the Darling Ranges bodice pattern pieces, it was time to try it out again. But this time, I decided to modify the pattern to make a shirt. I keep seeing chambray shirts every where, and as I conveniently had a mens chambray shirt in my stash to be refashioned, it must have been an omen (hopefully a good one and not The Damien kind).

I drafted new shirt pattern pieces from my recent versions of the Darling Ranges bodice, lengthening them and omitting the button placket as I’ll be keeping the original one from the shirt. Then, I de-constructed this shirt and it soon became the sum of it’s parts.

I cut the front shirt piece on the fold of the buttoned up shirt front and the sleeves and back from the reciprocating parts of the deconstructed shirt. The original shirt had flat felled seams on the outside like many denim garments, although after looking into this type of seams, the original ones weren’t true flat felled seams. I felt that this feature was one that showed the difference between an obviously homemade garment and a professionally made one. So I decided to give it a shot as, this year, I’m all about improving my skills as a sewer and hopefully making better looking garments. I started with the shoulder seams, then moved one to attaching the sleeves and this is where all the trouble began.

The flat felled seams on the shoulders went ok and I decided that I would try and sew the sleeves in flat, and not as set in as the original pattern called for, so I could continue with the flat feled seams. But after a couple of attempts at the sleeves I had to put it down and walk away. The sleeves and the armscye just didn’t match. The armscye was too large and I kept ending up with this.

I came to the conclusion that I would need to make the armscye smaller by making the seam allowance larger at the shoulder. I tried again, and seam ripping and pinning and sewing, and finally got the sleeve to fit. Then there were other issues and I decided this was a failed project.

I realised I didn’t give myself ease aroud the hips, and the all over fit wasn’t right. Later, I did a search on the internet for fit issues with the Darling Ranges sleeves and found that I wasn’t the only one. I’m so thankful for Roobeedoo’s posts on her two attempts at this dress. She had the same issues I had and in the end made almost all the same alterations to the bodice pattern that I did. Roobeedoo increased the shoulder seam to 2.5-3 cm to compensate for the larger armscye and that fixed her problem with the sleeve. So, although this was a failed project, I have learned alot. I’ll try and make another toile/muslin with all my alterations and the added seam allowance at the shoulder and see where we go from there.

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Wearable Darling Ranges Toile in Review

A few weeks ago I finished this dress, my first wearable toile of Megan Nielsen's Darling Ranges Dress. Although it wasn't perfect, I was quite proud of my achievement. I wrote about this initail toile and this wearable toile on my Tumblr blog.

Changes I made from the original pattern, after the first toile, were; Adding 5cm to the length of the bodice,adding about 1.5-2 cm to the width of the neckline, including darts in the back to reduce the ease allowing me to leave off the ties at the back. I also made this version sleeveless.

What I learned initially from making dress was that the 5cm I lengthen the bodice by was too much and I have since removed 2.5cm from the added piece, so hopefully the next one will be perfect. Also, if I insert the pocket about 7.5 cm from the top of the skirt pieces. This should be the perfect height for them once I use the correct bodice length. I used a light weight fabric for this dress so I thought I should interface the front placket. I was feeling lazy so I used a strip of iron-on hemming web in the placket as a sort of cheats interfacing and it seemed to work quite well.

But after wearing it a few times, I have noticed a few more adjustments the pattern needs for me to get the fit I'm after. I noticed that the bust dart was a little NQR (not quite right), so I pinned the dress in a few places to try to improve the fit and then transfered those changes onto the pattern piece. In the end I moved the dart down by 1/2″ and extended it towards the center by 1″. (Yes, I'm aware that I keep chopping and changing from metric to imperial but I found reading many blogs and older or American patterns, I need to easily understand both.) I had notice that the back of the dress gaped a bit. I'm not too sure how to fix this but I pinned a section down the middle of the back bodice and tried it on, and that seemed to fix it slightly. So, I removed about 1″ from the center of the back bodice pattern . After so many changes, my pattern pieces started to look like this.

It was time to bring out my daughters roll of craft specially designed pattern drafting paper and re-draft these pattern pieces. Now they look like this.

Now, I'm ready for my next attempt.


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Welcome to my big girl blog!

Welcome reader (or husband as is more appropriate) to my big girl blog. I have decided to graduate from my baby blog on Tumblr to one here on WordPress. And this covers sewing New Years Resolution number 10.

Consider moving from my baby blog here on Tumblr, to a grown-up blog on either Blogger or WordPress.

When I originally thought about starting a blog, back in April last year, I wasn’t sure if I could/would keep it up, as at the time I had a 3 and 1/2 year old and a new born. So my husband and I decided that Tumblr was a good fit for me.
But here we are, 9 months later and I have found my blogging to be a great outlet for me. It has encouraged me to finish projects I start and to become a better sewer.
So, onward and upward!

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