Saturday, February 26, 2011

Project 52: Weeks 7 and 8

I'm afraid I've dropped the ball a little on Project 52 in the last couple of weeks.  I decided last week that I'd do a 'bucket list'.  I don't have a great list of things I want to do or see in my life - my list is more about the person I want to be/become and the type of relationships I'd like to have with God and with the people around me.  I thought it'd be easy to write.  What I'm finding is that whilst it might be easy I actually think its important and that I need 'alone' time to complete it.  I want it to be a meaningful and focussing task, rather than something I simply tick off as having done for the Project.  I'll count it as homework I think.

This last week I've been thinking about what's good about my [paying] job.  I work from home doing house energy ratings / thermal performance assessments (ie. star ratings) for new houses and extensions.  It makes quite a change from my previous life as a Council town planner.  Here's what I love about it:

  • I get to use my brain and talk to adults sometimes
  • I get to work from home around my kids
  • There's no conflict involved! (planners have to be about the most abused profession both as a group and individually on an almost daily basis, whereas as a TPA I'm on the same side as all my clients)
  • I get to help people make their home environment more comfortable, save them money and help the planet at the same time
  • The amount of work varies from week to week
  • My jobs take a limited amount of time, and I usually have each for less than a week (so there's not the stress of having work hanging over me)

That's me.  What about you - what do you love about your work (paid or otherwise)?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

And then there were sleeves...

... well one anyway.

This week in my creative space I need to sew in the 2nd one, attach the bottom band and ruffle and tidy up a couple of things (if I say it fast it'll only take 5 minutes to do, right?), and then my spotty dress will be finished!  I'm pushing hard to get it done because the Man and I have a date on Sunday (Tim Minchin vs. the MSO) and I think that such a special occasion / rare occurrence is the perfect time to wear the dress for the first time.

What are you up to today?  Have you been over to Kirsty's yet?

The how and why of the sleeves:

I decided that the spotty dress (here and here) needed sleeves.  My arms need covering from time to time for vanity and more frequently for the weird Melbourne summer we're having.  I thought I'd document my approach just in case you'd like to try it:

I chose a shirt with a sleeve that included gathering.  This suits the style of the dress, but I also figured that it would be more forgiving of the fact that I was going to put it into a bodice other than the one it was designed for.  I used a shirt pattern with a similar fit to the dress.  I used the sleeve from View A of this pattern as my starting point.

** A note about notches **
Most likely the notches on your sleeve pattern and the ones on the bodice won't line up.  This doesn't matter, and you can ignore them as far as that goes.  What's important is that they show you which is the front of the sleeve and which is the back - check out the bodice of the pattern you're lifting them off to see whether the single or double notches are the back.  This is important because sleeves aren't quite symmetrical - there's a little more room on the side which joins the back to allow for arm movement.  I recommend cutting the notches in the back to help you be sure that they are against the back of your bodice.  On my pattern the double notches are on to the back.

 I traced the pattern, cut it out of calico, then pinned it into my trial top.  It was too long.  I had already decided that the best way to make the sleeves blend with the rest of the dress would be to finish them with a band of the spotty fabric with a red ruffle poking out the top of it.  I trimmed the calico sleeve so that the bottom of the sleeve would line up with the bottom of the top section of the bodice.

I then re-gathered the bottom of the sleeve, and pinned it into the actual dress.  I decided to steal 5mm from the seam allowance of the sleeve in doing so - it just seemed to fit better into the dress.  Once I'd done this I realised that I had trimmed too much off the bottom of the sleeve, and need to add about 2cm back (my seam allowances have been 1cm on the dress so far).  I also felt that there was too much fullness in the bottom of the sleeve.

I pulled the sleeve back out and reduced the fullness by changing the angle of the underarm seam.  I then re-fitted the sleeve (inside out - hence the fact that it's mysteriously changed sides).  I also reduced the width of the gathering along the top - I thought it made the gathering look more deliberate and less like ease gone wrong.  Once I'd tried it on I adjusted the width of the gathers at the bottom so that I was happy with the look and feel of it.

Removed the sleeve again, measuring the final width of the bottom with the gathers in before removing the gathering thread.  I also marked the new positions for the gathering across the top to start and finish.
Transferred the sleeve pattern back onto tissue paper (I wouldn't have worried, but I wanted to be sure that I remembered to add the 2cm back onto the bottom).

I had worked out that the gathered band for the bottom of the dress starts out being twice times the width of the dress.  The finished width of the base of my sleeve is 34cm.  This means I need bands which finish up being about 3cm wide by 34cm around from the spotty fabric, and red gathered fabric which starts out being 70cm long (including seam allowance), for each sleeve.  I made a pattern for each, then cut out and assembled as per the rest of the dress.

A longer process than I would usually be bothered with (particularly when you add the trial top into the mix), but I'm glad I made the effort, and maybe it'll give me more courage to personalise things in the future.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A big thank-you (and an apology)!

I'm not sure if I've said or not, but I was lucky enough to win not one but two raffles in the Queensland Flood Victims Appeal raffles.  I couldn't believe it, particularly as I don't tend to win much other than Scrabble!

The first prize that a won was a Gypsy Rose layer cake and some coordinating fabric from Jane at Want it Sew it Quilt.  It arrived a good few weeks ago, and I thought that I'd done a big thankyou post to her at the time.  I know that I had put a bit about it in my Grand Plan page, but it doesn't get as much traffic as the main blog.  I now realise that I hadn't done the post and my Grand Plan seems to have plans of its own, and the reference is one of several that seem to have mysteriously disappeared.  So, THANK YOU JANE!!  I'm dreaming up a pair of quilts for my younger nieces with the layer cake as the starting point.  They're sharing a bedroom at the moment, and one's into pink and the other purple, so the Gypsy Rose will be perfect.

The reason for the sudden realisation is that yesterday I received my second prize, a charm pack and quilt patterns  in the post from Rebecca at Chasing Cottons - absolutely fantastic!  I love the  Sherbet Pips charm pack, and whilst pink doesn't usually rate a mention in this house (we've got a definite 'red beige and blue' thing happening) I think that these fabrics will make their way into a quilt destined to break the trend!  The lovely Rebecca also gave me a total of six patterns, rather than the four she had promised, and I've already devoured the instructions for half.  Curilcue Crush looks so great, and Rebecca's instructions make it look so simple that I actually want to have a go at it - curved seams and all (so far I've avoided curves at all costs when I'm patchworking).  I'm also trying to work out whether or not the Schoolboy is too old for castles.

So again, thank you Jane and thank you Rebecca!

PS.  Jane has some specials at the moment which had me trawling her website before I could finish this post - call over and have a look!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The dog ate my homework! [or I got sidetracked...

... and missed doing the vacuuming or finishing my dress and did something new instead!]

As you can see I've made a good start on my spotty dress, but have temporarily stalled.  I need to finish the armholes, but am still toying with the idea of sleeves - I have so many singlet type tops etc., and yet at nearly 40 I feel that perhaps I shouldn't be bearing my arms quite so much.  I'm considering something like Views C or D of the ancient pattern below, or view A of the newer one.

I also need to add a little red ruffle and then a band at the bottom of the dress (the ruffles are much quicker than the pleated trim I did on the trial top, and will be at least as effective once I topstitch along the lower side - sorry for the blurry photo though).  Can't decide whether or not to use the spotty fabric for the band, or try and find some grey (maybe?  not sure?).  I have plenty of the spotty stuff left over, as it was quite wide and as always my cutting out was quite frugal, but figure I should decide on the sleeves before hacking into it for anything else.

** I'm up for comments / suggestions / help!  The idea of adapting a sleeve pattern to fit into a bodice it wasn't designed for is a bit intimidating, so if you have any advice that'd be great **

What's distracted me was Lincraft's 50% off sale.  It went for a whole week longer than I thought, and when I got an email saying it was still on I lost my self control and went shopping.  I bought some lined curtain fabric and have started attacking the mess at the top of the stairs.

"Before" (on an average day)

Stage 1: "Fitted sheet"

Stage 2: A combined cushion cover for 7 of the cushions, all of which are the same size - I know that this'll be used a lot for cubbies, but it should make the whole thing neater and easier to tidy up as a general rule.  The fact that its even better cubby making material than individual cushions is a definite bonus from the Kinder Boy's point of view, hence the fact that I couldn't get a photo without him!  To make it I made a ~3m x 42cm cushion cover, with a zipper along the bottom, then sewed vertical dividers every 42cm from the top down to nearly the bottom (leaving just enough space to open and close the zipper).

Stages 3 and 4 will be a pleated valance style skirt to hide the rest of the drawers, which don't get used much anyway, and some ties or another mechanism to stop the whole lot from shifting about.  Stage 5 will then be some new cushion covers - I've been waiting to use some fabric I got from Yardage Design, and got some coordinating oatmeal linen at the same Lincraft sale, but suspect I have more ideas and pieces of fabric than is really necessary, so some might get reassigned.

My Creative Space has been officially taken over with other things tonight, but I'm hoping to squeeze out some time this afternoon or tomorrow to brave a shot at some calico sleeves for the dress (or maybe just sew the lining to the zipper if I'm still too intimidated by the idea of it all).  What are you up to, have you dropped into Kirsty's yet?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Seeing spots [at last]

You'll be tired of seeing this picture I'm sure, but today's the day that I'm planning to cut out the spotty fabric to make myself a dress.  Still trying to work out if I'm brave enough to try drafting a pattern for a sleeve to go with it, but I figure I'll start out with cutting out the pieces as per the instructions and then go from there.

What are you up to in your creative space today?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Some finished projects

This morning finished my 'creative space' top from last week - I'm pretty happy with it despite a couple of hair-pulling episodes along the way.

As I mentioned, this is a trial top for a dress I'm planning to make next and I managed to squeeze it out of some fabric I had in my stash.  There wasn't enough of the plain blue to do all of the facings, but there was just enough to do the armhole facings out of the patterned fabric.  Unfortunately in my layout deliberations I forgot that one set of facings had to be the reverse of the other, and I cut them both out the same.  Horror!  I then cut two sets out of navy, but wasn't happy with that, so in the end reduced the seam allowance right down to 5mm (the allowanced have to be trimmed after sewing anyway right?!) and re-cut them from my original showing total disregard for the grain of the fabric.  In the end I think that only you and I will know!

This was also my first attempt at an invisible zipper.  I've never tried them before as I don't have a special foot for my machine, but was encouraged to by this link on the pattern.  Great step-by-step instructions, and I think that the finished result is good for a first effort (not sure about the colour of the zip - next time I think I'd go for black/white rather than a miss-matched blue like this).  While I was on the Sew Serendipity blog I decided to buy her book, and am hoping that it'll give me the courage to try and draft a sleeve pattern for the dress version of this top when the time comes.

Also finished since last Thursday is the cardigan I started several years ago (re-commenced back here).

I had already made the bands and collar, and I think that they're a bit tight (pulls up at the front), but the Kinderboy isn't going to care, and if I pull it apart now he'll never get to wear it.  Speaking of which, where is that boy??...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Project 52: Weeks 5 and 6

Week 5: Research and find a new dinner place

With 2 young boys and limited babysitting options my husband and I don't get out much, so the research behind the new restaurant we tried last Sunday night included a phone call to see what their kids options were like.  They came up trumps with chips and grilled swordfish for the kids (there was salad too, but of course that didn't get touched).  The boys loved their fish, even without the batter that they usually expect with F&C. The Man had steak and I had some entree meat skewers plus a beetroot salad.  All round the food was pretty good, particularly the suburban location.  We were served by one of the co-owners, and he was fantastic - great service and good rapport with the kids.  We promised that we'd be back to try the chocolate tart for dessert (sadly too full to do so on the night).  The details, if you're interested:

Byzantine (Greek & mediterranean food)
Turnham Avenue, Rosanna

Week 6: Buy a random gift for someone you love

The Schoolboy started Grade 1 today.  He has been collecting 'special' coins for a while now (mainly $1 and 50c pieces with the celebratory tails), and a friend who has a similar collection brought round his album for the Boy to look at yesterday.  I'd decided a week or so ago that I'd like to get him an album, and was particularly impressed that he hadn't asked for one even with yesterday's show-and-tell, but wanted it to be a surprise.  His birthday is in December, so there are no usual present opportunities on the horizon.  I thought that 'first day of school' was a good excuse (and also my first opportunity to go shopping without him).  After school drop-off this morning the Kinderboy and I went and did the necessary present shopping, and its sitting downstairs ready for presentation (get ready to hear the whoops of joy from wherever you are on the globe!).  A day early for next week's Project 52, but the rules are made to be broken every now and then surely!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Gathering inspiration for a new project

Right now I'm gathering inspiration for some new projects, so watch this space!

Here's some tasters of projects from the past which are influencing my thoughts...

Frugal fabric Thursday

In my creative space today I'm doing something I've never done before: making a trial run of a project.

The spotty fabric that is the basis for what should be my current project according to my 'grand plan' (top left on the pattern below) is a silk-cotton blend that I picked up from Darn Cheap fabrics.  It feels lovely, and I now have some white for lining and a red to match for the trims - all I need is a zipper and I'm set.  But cutting into the silk and messing it up or finding that the dress I'm planning it for doesn't suit me scares me a little, so I'm following the pattern's recommendation and making a mock-up first (am I the only one frustrated by the fact that I wear a size 10-12 but according to my measurements the pattern companies recommend I make a size 20???).  Not one to want to waste the effort or fabric though I've found some leftover blue and some coordinating patchwork fabric in my stash and am in the process of shoe-horning the pattern pieces for View A [bottom right] into about half the recommended fabric (I suspect that it's probably taken as long already as the top will take to sew!).

Hopefully by the end of the day I'll have a nice little stack of cut out pieces, and maybe even a little sewing done.  Maybe by next week I'll have actually finished last week's cardigan (knitting done, sewing up 1/2 way there) and this top and have some 'after' photos to show.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tuesday morning trifle

I bought a new diary yesterday.  I had one already, but it wasn't totally to my liking, and I'm a sucker for stationary.  Anyway, I got myself a student diary from Officeworks - week to an opening on one side, to-do ("homework") lists on the other.

I'm trying to get organised, and writing in all the kinder orientation times (1/2 hour here, 1 hour there, ramping up to 2 1/2 hours twice a week) reminded me that if I turned up to kinder with the boy at the wrong time it wouldn't be the first time (the Schoolboy and I were 1/2 hour early for 4yo kinder one day because I got the time wrong - and that was 2nd term!).  I know that weekly appointments should become ingrained into your memory, and I hate writing them into my diary every week, but I do forget, and I have been known to double-book over things that I've been doing at the same time of the week for years!  So this morning before breakfast I made myself this nifty little bookmark for my new diary.  I haven't laminated / contacted it, because I figure that things do change a bit, but its going to be my page-keeper as well as my reminder notice for the next little bit at least.

I've put my 'Project 52' list on the back as a reminder, plus some magnets to keep it in place.

Hope you're all having a great day!


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