Monday, 25 February 2013

London Fabric shopping

I arrived to London early on Saturday to the coldest dreariest day I have experienced in a long time -there were even snow flurries!

I couldn't get into my accommodation that early so my plan was to head straight to Walthamstow.  I was a little tempted to give it a miss with it being so cold, but as I had purposely arrived on a Saturday to get to the fabric market I braved the cold and soldiered on. It was worth it, I came away with 16m of fabric!

 Walthamstow haul 1

The range was great and so cheap, the most expensive one I bought was £2 a metre - crazy cheap!

Walthamstow haul 2

A couple of the fabrics are destined for the Sew for Victory challenge being held by Lucky Lucille. The spot above is actually pink, not orangey as photographed, with an aubergine spot and is reversible, I have visions of an Alannah Hill style trenchcoat.

The fabric shopping at Walthamstow is not as I expected, for some reason I expected to get off the tube and have a range of fabric stores in front of me. However you actually need to cross the road towards the pedestrian mall and walk a few hundred metres before you come to any fabric shops. They are not all next to one another as I thought, they are spaced out amongst other shops like discount warehouses, supermarkets, coffee shops etc. No matter how dodgy or unlikely they look from outside, go in, you never know what you might find. I found some of my fabric in places that looked far from promising on the outside. So much for my fabric ban, are overseas purchases exempt?

Friday, 22 February 2013

Visit to Christchurch

SPOILER ALERT - this post is not sewing or knitting related, so feel free to skip it :)  However I am sure it is healthy to see I do other things too!

Last weekend I went back to my hometown of Christchurch for my Mum's birthday. I hadn't been back since the quakes of February 2011 and I really wasn't sure what to expect and was prepared for a pretty sad and depressing visit.

Things have definitely changed, most of the CBD is now demolished so it feels a little surreal, but on the flip side what they are doing to cope with such a radical change is quite inspiring. The city is now has a "container mall". Where there were once buildings are now loads of shipping containers painted up, windows installed and generally done up to look pretty funky actually.

Here is the cafe where we had breakfast:

One of the banks:

The red arrow shows where the five storey building I used to work in was once located.

The poor landmark Christchurch Cathedral:IMG_1516

The city is pretty much in limbo at the moment whilst it is decided how to rebuild, where and what requirements buildings will need to meet. So many buildings are still to be fully evaluated and may still be demolished in the months to come. It is likely the rebuild project will take 20 years.

Despite all the obvious demolition going on and very little construction, it still felt like people were getting on with it and doing the best with what they have. After all my initial intrepidation I was pleasantly surprised and it is likely I will go back now with little hesitation.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Polka Dot Sencha

I'm back with more polka dots - yep I just love polka dots and especially red with white polka dots.  I really should be participating in Polka Dot Frock Fest by Scruffy Badger, but as I am away for most of February I didn't think I would commit.

This linen fabric I bought on my NYC trip last year with the original idea of a dress.  You will note this is not a dress....because the dress was a disaster! I think I have finally have learnt the importance of a muslin.

The pattern I used was Simplicity 2180. The dress was supposed to have white piping around the waist band and around the neck and in my head looked lovely.  The reality was not so great.

I know the envelope is fugly, but I could see it working, and I will try again soon (with a muslin next time).  Unfortunately the fit was not close to the measurements on the pattern.  I cut out the recommended size, did an FBA following a tissue fit, but the back was just huge.  I also discovered that my fabric would have been too sheer for the skirt. Yes, I know I could have lined it, but that was my excuse to myself to hack it into something different...and the polka dot Sencha was born!


My alterations:
- I changed the neckline to a scoop neckline
- omitted the buttons on the back,  I have no idea how one is supposed to do those up, I certainly can't reach!  It is easy enough to put over my head anyway.
- I used bias to face the neck edge
- narrow shoulder adjustment
- narrow hem on the sleeves and machine stitched


I still really like this pattern, it is a great little top that I can dress up for work or wear with jeans in the weekend.  With the polka dots, I love the retro vibe this has. I like that this is a quick pattern to make up, almost instantly gratifying.  I have read online that many people have had issues with the fit, but I think I have this sorted now.  This is my third Sencha now, one blogged here and the other not yet blogged and it really does work in a number of fabrics.


Quick info:
Top - made by me, pattern Colette Sencha
Notions - only cotton!
Jeans - Target
PS - I am still planning on doing a pocket tutorial like I used on the Hollyburn skirt, but I don't have any fabric to make a skirt from.  I know, weird right? :)  I am away for a couple of weeks later this week and will buy some fabric whilst away so I will do a tutorial when I get back.

PPS - if my posts are sparse over the next couple of weeks it is because I will be away and may not be able to blog

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Liebster Award

Wow!  I have been nominated for a Liebster Award by the lovely (and fellow Brisbanite) Erin over at I-heart-fabric - thanks Erin!!

When I first started blogging a few months ago, I had no idea it was going to be so interactive - I didn't think people would follow me, it really only started so I could document what I was doing and maybe ask advice if I needed help with something.  I have "met" some wonderful people out there and I am viewing sewing with renewed passion and enthusiasm, in fact sewing and knitting occupy my mind most of my waking hours!!  I love it, so thank you fellow bloggers and commenters, you really make my day with your comments, feedback and shared joy of sewing.

The Rules of the Liebster award (although upon googling these seem to vary):
  • Post 11 facts about yourself
  • Answer the 11 questions posed by your nominator
  • Nominate up to 5 other blogs and ask them 11 questions of your own
My research seems to show a couple of variations of this award, some you just nominate 5 other blogs and that is it, others have questions and nominations.  I guess it has morphed over the years.

Anyway I don't mind the questions, so first the facts:

1. I originally from New Zealand
2. I have lived in Brisbane for 11 years
3. My hubby travels a lot for work, so that is why I get to sew and knit so much.
4. I am a crazy cat lady
5. I also garden sporadically, at the moment it is too hot, so it is pretty neglected :(
6. I LOVE to travel, anywhere. I have been fortunate to have travelled overseas a lot, but there are still so many places and countries left!  I try to go overseas at least once a year - this year I am lucky to be going away three times!
7. We are renovating our funky old 1927 house
8. I used to be a national level ice skater in both NZ and Australia
9. One day we intend to move to the Loire Valley in France
10.  I have no idea who taught me to knit
11. I love the blogging community, it has really added another element to my ordinarily solitary hobbies by making them more interactive.  It is lovely to share projects with people who really get them and understand the intricacies, what is easy and what isn't.  The people I have met in the blogosphere are amazing and are so supportive and friendly.

The 11 questions from Erin:
  1. When did you start sewing and what introduced you to sewing?  I was about 10 and my great-aunt introduced me to it, she took me to a Knitwit course
  2. What other crafts do you do?  I knit, garden and renovate
  3. What do you look for in a sewing blog? I love great photos with the garments being worn, I don't like the "on the dummy" look for all garments.  I like the writing to be entertaining too
  4. Who is your inspiration?  I don't have one person that is my inspiration, I just like to try my best to be the best
  5. Do you have a bizarre talent?  ice skating??  rolling my tongue?
  6. What's your favourite thing to sew or create for yourself or others?  Anything I can wear is great - I don't really enjoy sewing for others, I know that sounds selfish, but they just don't understand the hours that go into it
  7. What have you always wanted to sew but haven't yet, and why? I have tried most things, I guess jeans would be the only thing I haven't made, but I just cant seem to find the right denim in the stores.
  8. Do you have an phobias?  I hate yucky feet conditions, you know nail fungus etc, it makes me feel ill seeing pictures of diseased feet!  Is that weird?
  9. What's something you like to treat yourself with?  Trips overseas, I love to travel
  10. What was one of your favourite things growing up? my family
  11. Where would you most want to travel in the world and why?  so many places, so little time!  Italy - the landscape and architecture look stunning; Peru - Machu Picchu and the culture; Bolivia - the scenery; UK - history - sorry I have real difficulty with this one
Hmmm - five other blogs, well this is where I do have a problem, there are so many great blogs out there and I read a lot, so many that I can't possibly choose 5.  So I am going to break the rules and not nominate for fear of offending those who I leave off the list.  My blog roll to the left will give you some insight into who I am reading, although I do tend to follow trails and read others that aren't on the list.  Ah the time thief that is the internets, for the sake of preservation, let's call it research :)

Anyway, thanks Erin for nominating me!  I hope you all enjoyed a bit of insider knowledge of me!!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Hollyburn Awesome-ness

When Rachel of My Messings announced she was doing a sewalong for the new Hollyburn skirt pattern from Sewaholic I knew I to be in on it.  Not only do I love the pattern, but it was a good opportunity to support a fellow Aussie.

This pattern is just adorable and I was drawn to the retro appeal of the style.  Oddly I have never tried this style before, but now I do believe I am converted!


On the left is how I wore this to a meeting in the morning and in the afternoon I changed it to a more casual look. I can totally see me wearing this in winter too with tights, boots and a jumper. What a brilliantly versatile pattern!

I cut the size 14 for my waist measurement, and view C (the shortest one). The only change I made to the pattern was the pockets, insired by many patterns from the 40s and by Tasha's skirt, I went for a turned down patch pocket with covered button instead of the set in ones on the pattern.  My pockets don't have the removable flap like Tasha's, they are a simple turned over rectangle. If anyone would like me to put up a tutorial on how I achieved these, let me know in the comments and I will write one up.


Ok the back is pretty wrinkly because I made this out of cotton twill, whilst super cool and a good drape, creases like nothing else. In saying that, I had been sitting in it at work for a couple of hours, so some wrinkling is to be expected, they do seem to drop out when I have been standing a while.

I would love to make this with a really nice drapey wool crepe, I think it would be divine for winter.


I am really happy with the pattern and my thanks go out to Rachel, her sewalong was full of loads of great information, inspiration and tips.  Whilst I didn't actually sewalong as such, I still read all the posts with great interest, it is great to see how others construct garments and there are always tips to be learned!

Quick info:
Skirt: made by me, Hollyburn pattern
Fabric: Cotton Twill
Notions: Lapped zipper & 2 covered buttons
Did any of you participate in the sewalong?  Did you like the pattern as much as I did?

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Beret & handwarmers & help wanted

You may remember recently I made the GAP-tastic Cowl?  Well over Christmas I decided to use up the leftover wool to complete the set and finally it has been cool enough for me to model it!!


These are my first gloves/hand-warmers, for the pattern I used Diana Twiss' pattern Vancouver Special Half Mitts. The pattern is a free Ravelry download and has a number of options for the rib to give different looks. I used three rows of seed stitch on the cuffs and at the top to try to mimic the seed stitch on the cowl.  I knitted the size small and they fit perfectly, which for me is brilliant as I have real trouble buying adult gloves for my little hands.


The hand-warmers are both knitted identically. I knitted them in the round using the magic loop method, if you haven't tried this method, give it a go, it really is a time saver.

The hat is kind of a pattern of my own devising, I cast on enough stitches to comfortably fit my head and then knitted in seed stitch reducing at the crown every two rows to get the desired result.

Before blocking it looked pretty terrible, in fact my brother thought I was going for a Bob Marley look.  I used plate to block it and the shape is much improved, weird, my hubby came up with that idea, apparently saw it somewhere and remembered - yay him!


Whilst on the topic of blocking, I have just finished the Lorna Suzanne cardigan and need to block the collar - can anyone give me some tips on the best way to this to stop the collar curling up?  Any guidance would be much appreciated!


Wool - Cascade 128 Superwash Chunky in Summer Sky Heather, purchase at Tangled Yarns in Newstead, Brisbane
Coat - purchased from Myer many years ago

Sunday, 3 February 2013

BurdaStyle 119a 10/2011 in Denim

Last year I found these great shorts from Freddie of Pinewood, I could never pull off shorts this short, but I had a vision of this type of style but in a skirt:


I had denim in my stash that I had bought last year and the pattern I used for my Winter Skirt seemed to match perfectly. 
I am so happy with the overall result, although the creases I get through the middle when I sit down a are a little frustrating, but looking at my inspiration pic, she has them too!
The denim is quite heavy but I used a denim needle and I went slowly so it all seemed to come together ok.  The seams are top-stitched using a 3mm needle and top-stitching thread with normal thread on the bobbin.  The patch pockets are lined in a remnant of pale blue cotton in order to keep the thickness to a minimum.

The pattern is available in the 10/2011 issue which I borrowed from the library and laboriously traced, or the easier option may be to download it for a mere $5.40 here.


I feel like I am rocking a real 70s vibe here and I love it!  It is super comfortable and it fits perfectly.


What post is complete without a derriere view??

I have used and traced off the BurdaStyle patterns for years now and have always found them to be brilliant.  The only annoying thing is, the printed packet patterns include seam allowances, but the downloadable and magazine ones don't - something to really bear in mind when you are cutting out!!


Skirt - Burdastyle 119a 10/2011
Top - New Look 6026
Shoes - Sandler

In other sewing  news, I have just finished my Hollyburn skirt and another Sencha, pics to be taken and blogged shortly.  In the WIP pile progress I have a vintage Vogue dress and I have just cut out another Tiramisu!  Whew, so many plans!!