Christmas crafting

Argh, I can’t believe Christmas is on  Friday! I had so many Christmas sewing plans, for gifts and for me, but all but a few have been abandoned. Too much ambition, too little time (and definitely too little motivation this month). I figure I might as well write about a few of the things I’ve managed to complete, though one will have to be post Christmas.

  
First up are these simple pouches which I’ve made for my colleagues. I used the Zippered Pouch tutorial from True Bias, and I’m pretty chuffed with how they turned out! The fabric and lining all comes from my ‘big scraps’ bag, and the leather corners are from the scrap leather box at Made on Marion, along with the zips. 

  
I played around with fabric combinations for ages before finding ones that I liked! The two floral pouches have silky linings, while the polka dots and cats have cotton and the stripes have a linen lining. I must have forgotten to photograph the inside of the cat print bag (and now its wrapped up), but it just has a plain violet lining.

  
I did make a bit of a mistake with the zips (aside from the obvious error of putting the one in the cat pouch around the other way to all the others…wish I could say that its for a left handed person, or something clever, but I just didn’t notice until I lined them all up!) and bought 10″ ones when I couldn’t find 9″ ones as the tutorial calls for. I had already cut my fabric out, so I figured I could shorten the zips. Unfortunately, I forgot all about that plan until I was struggling to get one of the last ones in (the striped denim made turning the corners out a bit tricky), but they’ve turned out ok regardless. Some of the brown leather scraps were maybe a bit heavy too, but I flattened the seams with a mallet which helped (and was theraputic after a few rough days at work). 

They were fun to make, and pretty quick to put together! I did everything assembly line style until it came to inserting the zips, then I finished each pouch as I went so that I didn’t have to keep rethreading.

  

My other Christmassy craft was an ornament for the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network Secret Santa ornament swap. I took inspiration from a Simplicity pattern which popped up on my instagram feed, and made a little stuffed gingerbread man.

  
I think he’s pretty cute! I was so excited to find those tiny red buttons. I drew out a template for my pieces, then cut out the felt and embroidered his face and stuck his eyes in, then glued the white bits on and sewed on his buttons and bow tie and holly. Then I blanket stitched the two halves together, stuffed him and added the ribbon loop. Easy! (All materials from Made on Marion again)

  
I also embroidered the year and WSBN on his bum, for posterity (there should be a posterior pun in there…)  

The last exciting thing I have to say is that on Saturday we adopted some kittens! They’re about 12 weeks old, and came from our local cat rescue. I’m completely smitten, they’re so tiny and fuzzy and sweet!

  

We’ve called them F.Scott (Scotty) and Zelda, and they’re keeping us very entertained and very busy. Both of them are currently sitting on my chest trying to eat the buttons off my shirt, hope I sewed them on well…

  (Zelda at the top, Scotty at the bottom)

I hope you all have a happy Christmas or festive holiday of your choice! I will be feeding ham and pavlova to 12 people, and trying to keep the kittens out of the cream…  

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Festive Sewing part 2: Secret Santa Scarf (maybe…)

I’m really not sure how I feel about my post today! Its supposed to be my gift for our work Secret Santa swap, but I’m not sure if it’ll be appropriate…I don’t know the girl who’s name I pulled out of the hat (ok, it was a kidney dish, cos that’s how we roll in theatre), and I’m not sure if its the sort of thing she’s wear! I quite like it, but I’m willing to admit that pink pom poms may not be for everyone. Its especially hard to tell when you only ever see each other in blue scrubs!

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I made the scarf out of the remains of the fabric from the dress I am currently making, its a lovely soft Italian cotton lawn from The Fabric Store. I really wanted navy pom pom trim, after seeing the pom pom trimmed scarf tutorial on Indiesew, but apparently no one in Wellington stocks pom pom trim in sensible colours like navy or grey, and black or white didn’t look right. So I went with pale pink, which I thought would be a nice contrast but not too childlike.

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I had a bit of a brain fail trying to sew the scarf together, I sewed the whole lot inside out, then tried to turn it through a hole in the seam. I must have been tired, because that was obviously never going to work! I ended up with a pom pom trimmed tube, like a muff. After a bit of swearing, I got it back inside out, and unpicked the long seam. That was a total bastard to unpick, because the trim meant I couldn’t just pull lengths of the thread out, I had to undo it stitch by stitch! Once I had it unpicked, I just folded under the raw edge and topstitched it over the pom pom tape. Its not quite as neat, but it looks ok.

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I think its quite cute, but I’m not sure it’ll make a great gift. What do you guys think? Does it look too much like a pillowcase? Will it be a confusing present, should I just go with the Body Shop stuff I bought originally? I am deeply conflicted here!

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Meanwhile, I thought I would participate in the Top Five annual roundup which is hosted by Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow. I’ll do Highlights today, and then combine Hits and Misses, and Goals and Reflections. So…

Top 5 Highlights of my year (in no particular order)

-Starting a new job! I did love working in a big public hospital, but I think i love having regular working hours and not having to work weekend, evening and nightshifts more. I miss (some of) my colleagues, and I sometimes miss the excitement, but I do enjoy how busy and stable my new job is.

-My summer trip around the West Coast. It was awesome to see parts of the country I hadn’t visited before, and it was really nice spending time with Monsieur’s extended family.

-Getting through my first year of big girl post graduate study. I was pretty unsure about the course when I started, but by the end of the second trimester I was really enjoying it, and I’m looking forward to my papers next year. I’m working towards a Masters in Information Studies, if you’re interested!

-Getting the ball rolling on looking for a house of our own. The house hunting process has been a bit soul destroying, and missing out on a house you really want sucks, but its all a learning curve, and I can’t wait until we find (and actually manage to buy) our first home. Then I’ll be a real adult, right?

-Starting and maintaining this blog! I’ve met some seriously awesome people in the online sewing community, and I don’t know if I would have kept up with my weekly challenges or made such a huge variety of garments without your support and the incredible amount of inspiration you all provide! So thank you all šŸ™‚

Finally, this week I was invited to become a part of the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network, or WSBN, which is very exciting! I’m looking forward to drinking tea and having sewing geek outs with the rest of the ladies in the group in the new year.

July roundup

I’m actually pretty impressed with how much I got done this month! Two of my posts contained double makes, with two Bronte tops, and two pairs of Anima pants. I also branched out into bag construction!

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I have to say, I love my Bronte tops! I wear them all the time (in fact, as I type this, I’m wearing them both and my Coppelia cardigan. Shut up, its cold.) and get lots of complements on them whenever I’m out and about. I’ll definitely be making some summer ones, maybe in a bamboo cotton if i can get my hands on any. I’ve also had a fair bit of wear out of my camisole, its really comfortable. Another pattern to go back in the ‘to make again’ pile! (The knickers are also really comfortable, if thats not TMI!)

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There are also my Anima pants. The black merino version have been worn quite a bit, but I’ve been too shy to wear the patterned ones out yet! Maybe next week I’ll get over it enough to wear them to the gym. My scrub hats get worn at every day, I have enough to wear one every day for a week.

So, this month I’ve added another 5 garments to my handmade wardrobe, not too bad really!

In short…
-two tops
-two pairs of pants
-the camisole set
-the waterproof tote bag
-the scrub hats

I’ve also learned a couple of new techniques, including sewing heavy, rigid fabric, putting buttonholes in knits (not as scary as i anticipated) and sewing with stretchy lace.

Next month is going to feature a few items I’m sewing for other people, mainly Monsieur and my mum. I’m kind of winging it for both garments, so we’ll see how that goes! Hopefully I won’t crash and burn…

Tiny shiny pretty things

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This weeks make is just a small one, as I am trying desperately not to be distracted from writing my final report of the trimester! Its not going so well, and tomorrow I have to go back to the dentist to continue with the root extraction extravaganza, so I’m betting that that last thing I’ll want to do is carry on with writing tomorrow!

I haven’t made any jewellery for a while, so I thought that would be a quick and satisfying job! I’ve been admiring the delicate chain and bead bracelets that keep popping up on Pinterest, especially these ones…

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I knew I could make something similar, it would just be a case of finding the right beads and some super fine chain. That was the hard part! I just couldn’t find what I was looking for in the local bead shop, or in any of the craft stores around town. Then last week I walked past one of those cheap jewellery stores that always have a sale on, and decided that I would just repurpose some of the components from some cheap costume jewellery!

This is what I started with

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The two necklaces were ones I chose because I liked the pendants and the chains they were on. The small ring is meant to be a ‘midi ring’, worn between the first and second knuckles of your finger (I don’t really get that look, and it was a bit big for my finger anyway). I also threw in some extra chain and the eye pins I had left over from another project, as well as some random beads I had. The first thing I did was break down the jewellery into useful parts.

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And this is what I ended up with! You can get quite a lot of useful bits out of cheap jewellery…

I spent quite a long time playing around with different combinations, until I found a look that I liked. I put the heart onto an eye pin and joined it in the middle of a length of chain, rather than just leaving it strung on the chain, as I knew it would annoy me if it kept slipping around to the underside of my wrist! This way it always stays centred. I did the same for the purple faceted bead. For the ring, I looped two short lengths of chain around it, and attached a clasp to each end. (Probably easier to see in the photo than to picture from that description…)

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My first hint of trouble came when I tried on the ring and chain bracelet. It was the right length, but trying to do up the parrot clasp was super fiddly with one hand. Its probably something I should have thought about when I was getting started! In the end, I got some nifty magnetic clasps from the bead store in town on my way home from work the next day. These are really cool, and much easier to use than the parrot clasps, but when I put one on the end of each bracelet they all stuck to each other and made a god awful tangle on the underside of my wrist! Again, in hindsight thats a pretty obvious flaw in my plan…

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In the end, I decided I liked the look of these three bracelets together, its just a bit less chaotic than having the five I had originally planned on. To get rid of the birds nest effect, I attatched all three to the same magnetic clasp, which has the added benefit of making it easier to get on and off.

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They don’t really look like the bracelets which originally inspired me, but I like them anyway! I like simple, delicate jewellery, and I feel like these fit nicely in with the other pieces I wear routinely. And I have enough pieces left over to make some more, if I decide that I do occasionally want the more layered effect šŸ™‚

May Round up

I know I say this at the end of every month, but i can’t believe how fast each month goes! How is it the end of May already? May has been a pretty big month for me, I’ve resigned from my job and got a new one at the private hospital up the road. I also had to make an emergency dash to the dentist, where they told me I need a root extraction, so the last two weeks have passed in a sort of painful blur. The pain in my mouth is being dulled with codine, the pain in my wallet is not so easy to get rid of! Better out than in though, I suppose!

This month I have continued my epic run of sewing knit garments, making:

-a Grainline Hemlock tee
-two Sewaholic Renfrews,
-a Colette Moneta dress
-two ‘self drafted’ tank dresses for my mum

My blue short sleeved Renfrew has probably had the most wear this month, but everything else has been worn for at least a day. The dresses for mum haven’t had an outing yet, she doesn’t head for the tropics until next month. They fit her though, despite my worries about the size of the arm holes! Must be because she is taller than me.

New skills I have learned from this months sewing include shirring knits with elastic. I didn’t realise that I had already done this on mum’s sundresses until I was making my Moneta! I’m also getting better with adjusting the bobbin tension when i use my twin needle, so my knit hems are getting smoother.

This month I also revamped my sewing space, and prettied up my blog page. I’m feeling pretty good about how my sewing skills are coming along, I feel like every garment I make is neater and better fitting than the last. I think I’m getting better at picking fabric for certain projects too (mistakes with my Moneta aside!). I really enjoyed seeing everyones MMM posts, and I think i’ll be ready to join in next year!

June is going to be another big month, between starting my new job and finishing my first trimester at uni. One more assignment to write! I’m also going to cat sit for mum for a week, so expect lots of photos of this fuzzy face…

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Herding fabric and generally getting organised…

I’ve been meaning to get my sewing space organised since we moved in (three and a half months ago…), and last week I finally got started. My main problem was finding some way to organise my fabric. I don’t have a huge stash, but having it all dumped in a cardboard box in the corner by my sewing machine was less than ideal!

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(guess what I studied as an undergrad!)

First I had a fairly ruthless clear out of any unusable scraps or fabric that I wouldn’t use, then I trimmed any big scraps into a usable shape. Despite the brutal cull, I still had quite a lot of fabric!

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Next I bundled it up into neat rolls, and wrapped a strip of paper around each one to secure it. I had hundreds of Fabric Store brown paper bags lying around, so I used strips of those! Then I made up some labels, so I would remember exactly what I had, if it had been prewashed, and approximately how much fabric there was.

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Then I moved onto organising my ribbons and trims and bindings. My friend Leimomi wraps her (enormous) stash of ribbons and trims around birthday cards, which I think is a really nice idea. I’m always too sentimental to throw cards away, but other than using them for bookmarks I really have no other use for them! Until now, of course…

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That top card was given to me by my wee sister. Such a charmer!

Once I had most of my mess organised, I needed to sort out the space itself…
Before:

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After:

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Not that different, just neater! I commandeered a small set of shelves to keep my newly organised fabrics and trim in, and all of my thread and notions live in the basket at the bottom.

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I keep all of my patterns in the ring-binder on top of the shelves. I think it may be time to get another one, that one is full to bursting! I like keeping the patterns in clear-file pages, as I don’t have to worry about trying to fit all of the pattern pieces back into the envelope, and if I’ve traced the pattern or modified it, I can keep it all in one place. Its also a tidy way to keep all of my PDF patterns!

Wow, this turned into an image heavy post! I’m so glad that everything is organised, hopefully a tidy workspace will lead to tidy sewing…here is one final picture, my beloved, ancient sewing machine.

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(Ok, ancient might be a bit harsh. Its from the early 60’s. It is beloved though!)

Pitter patter…

Eee, this weeks post is so cute I can barely contain myself!
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My friend and colleague is pregnant with her first baby(a wee girl), and her last day at work is Friday. So we’re throwing her a baby shower/afternoon tea! I’ve been seeing these adorable fabric baby shoes around the internet, and I thought they seemed like a good option, since I still haven’t progressed past knitting straight lines. I used this pattern and tutorial, and it was really simple and straightforward. I especially like that they are completely reversible, with no exposed seams. I used scraps from my daffodil Datura for the outside, and lined them with some grey merino wool scraps to make them nice and snuggly.

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I was all excited about how it was all coming together, until I realised that I had sewn the heel on inside out! It actually looks ok, I could have left it like that, but I decided to unpick it and sew it on around the other way so that the shoe could be all yellow or all grey, depending on which way it was flipped.

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The only place I deviated from the instructions was when I got to sandwiching the upper shoe between the sole pieces. I sewed the outer sole first, then added the sole lining rather than sewing the whole lot together. I just found it easier to catch all of the layers neatly! I also left the hole for turning the shoe the right way in at the curve of the heel, rather than on a straight seam, as recomended, which made closing it up more difficult. Next time I’ll follow the instructions more carefully!
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I can’t believe how cute they are! I just started laughing when I turned the first one out the right way cos it was so little. I hope they’re actually baby sized, I don’t really have much to do with tiny babies unless they’re patients, and I don’t tend to be looking at the size of their feet!

I’m currently in the middle of a week of night shifts, which is pretty much my idea of hell on earth. Its like my brain just completely vacates the premises as soon as I get home, I turn into such a flake! Case in point…

20140325-234724.jpg…i’m pretty sure I pinned those panels on the same side, but clearly not! (This is the bodice lining for my fancy Elisalex dress, I’m excited about how its coming along.) I also managed to catch the pad of my ring finger in the very end of my incredibly sharp fabric shears when making the booties, happily I didn’t bleed on them!

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(Dali moustache bandaid makes everything better)

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