Sunday, 30 December 2012

Burdastyle Dress 5/2011/130

Dear Bloggers,

I'm sneaking in one more bit of sewing before the year ends. One last dress which is from Burdastyle 130/5/2011

If you have not seen my previous post on the top I made from this pattern here is a link. I wasn't sure if the dress would work like, you know, those hourglasses and pears that rock these styles so well.  When I pulled it over my head I exhaled in relief. 

Today is the last day of the year. I am not going to do 'Best and Worst' a wrap. This year was a bit up and down and definitely a departure from what I had planned but all is well that ends well so I am not complaining. Far from it. I am grateful for what I have and that all close to me are doing well. Lets just say that clothes were not my top priority. 

Sewing and blogging was and is a pleasure, a loved hobby, an escape. I enjoy it and reading your blogs.  

Do you have any New Year traditions? My mother always told me that it was good luck to wear something new on New Year's Day and I will wear this last minute dress when I go see her tomorrow.

I am on call today but tonight I will be at a pool party at a friend's place to see in the New Year. We get to see it in before all of you Northern Hemisphere. Yes it will probably be hot enough to jump in the pool at night time!

My sewing resolutions are to stay organized and to use what I have got, to use stash materials and stash patterns most of the time. I know I will occasionally need to buy another pattern or piece of material or sewing magazine. Three patterns and the material for this dress followed me home from a Spotlight Sale the day before yesterday when I went in there to buy one pattern for my daughter.. but no guilt! I enjoyed having a look and a browse and a feel (as my daughter says to tease me). You have to get your hands on the material to choose it properly is what I tell her back.

In the interests of being organized I recently tipped all my patterns out of their temporary cardboard boxes and tubs onto the floor and then categorized by type of garment.

 Ta Da! The zippered carry bags are collapsible cooler bags that were $5 from The Reject shop. the green one is full of nothing but dress patterns. 

As you can see I had a few left over that are in my want-to-do-soon pile. They went into a shoe box on my sewing nook bookshelf. The closest plastic tub is full of traced patterns, mostly Burdastyle. Some patterns date back a Long Long Time. There have been a few big purges and a lot given away. I might do a select give away in 2013...

That's all folks.

Happy New Year  2013!

Val xx

Thursday, 27 December 2012

A bit of Christmas in the city.

Hello Sewers and Bloggers,
Before the decorations come down and the year is totally over, I want to show you what I did in Sydney yesterday.  One of my favourite places to walk through is the Queen Victoria Building which was built as a covered market in 1898, almost demolished in the 1970's, then restored in the 1980's to its former ornate glory as a glass roofed shopping arcade. At Christmas it always has a huge Christmas tree. This time it is covered in Swarovski crystals.

 You can see it in the background through the arches. I don't know what the banner was advertising. I just wanted to get some photos! Typical!

The higher up the levels you go the more expensive the boutiques become, but it's great for a look.

The tree goes through all the levels.

I was on my way through to meet my daughter for lunch at the Sydney fish markets, close to where she works.

The view from my daughter's office.

Five minutes walk away by the sea is the fish market. 

It stays open around the clock in the two days leading up to Christmas because the demand is so great.

It is crowded and noisy and is also a tourist attraction. As well as fresh seafood for sale there are eateries and restaurants. I had never been there before! Sometimes it's good to experience new things in your own city so when my daughter asked if I'd like to meet her there for lunch after she worked a half day I was happy to go.

Pyrmont Bridge.

We had lunch outside under the palm trees overlooking the water. Back to all things sewing soon.
Happy holidays,


Saturday, 22 December 2012

Drawstring Top based on Burdastyle 5/2011/130

Hello People,

I hope all is safe and well where you are. It is certainly warming up here, with days getting into full summer heat.
Several months ago I spent a full day sorting my material stash and it is so good to have labels on the outside of my tubs so I can see where a particular material is while I decide what to in 'Aha there is that red and white leaf voile!
Finding the pattern that springs to mind is more haphazard. I know where they all are but then I start looking through my Burdastyle magazines. I've never had a subscription and only buy them occasionally when an issue catches my eye. But there are certain issues that I find myself going back to several times long after many other issues have come out. The May 2011 issue is such a one for me.

I had seen an extravagantly priced peasant style top in a store window while shopping, so I went in and tried it on and took a knockoff inspiration photo. Then started thinking what patterns I had that I could modify to make a peasant style top with three quarter sleeves and a button placket down the front. However I got sidetracked and ended up making the top half of this dress into a top. Much cooler than long folded up sleeves!

It has all in one sleeves with a bit of gathering on the outside edge, and a casing for a drawstring at the neck, and darts to keep it from being shapeless, quite quick to make.. so in a morning I had a 'free' top.

I am experimenting with a new gadget, a remote control for my camera that is hidden in my hand.

No more dashing between the camera and the shot. I love it.
But back to the sewing! Here is the front, just the top half of the pattern extended down 22 cm and out a bit. I made vents at the sides.

I left out the centre back seam and added a bit more ease. The original top is actually relatively close fitting. The Burda magazine instructions were not too bad, for once, but I did things slightly differently, as usual!
I will be writing a Pattern review to expand on this.

Trying for a Burda-esque pose in my balcony garden, which is turning into a jungle because friends have given me bromeliads and a strelitzia that 'needed a home'. How could I resist? But I am still trying to keep things minimalist.. honest.

As we count down to Christmas I wish you all the best and thank you for reading my blog.

xx Val.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Leisl's Gingerbread

Dear Sewists,

Newsflash:  I've racked my brain and trawled my favourite sewing blog lists for members of my lost blog roll. I have almost restored everybody but if you know you were on it please leave me a comment with a link and I'll put you back. Promise!

In case you haven't noticed it is nearly Christmas and in the spirit of pass-it-on I want to share the nicest  gingerbread recipe I have ever tasted given to me by a generous German friend called Leisl.

Leisl told me what her ingredients were and I based the amounts from a recipe for 'Swedish Ginger Cookies' in the Margaret Fulton* Cookbook. I combined the two ideas and they worked! Pardon the freehand icing. I really must buy a piping bag.

I have some cookie cutters that my mother used when I was little.. and I used when my daughter was little..

Leisl's Gingerbread

1/4 cup golden syrup
1/4 cup soft brown sugar
1 egg
125g butter
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup hazelnut meal
1 cup rye flour
1 cup wholemeal self raising flour


!/2 cup icing sugar
2 or 3 teaspoons warm water

Cream butter and sugar. Add golden syrup, mix well then add egg and mix again. Stir in hazelnut, flours and spice. Roll into a ball, cover and chill for one hour. Preheat an oven to 180 degrees C.
Grease a baking tray. Roll the dough out to 1 cm thick on a floured board. Cut out cookie shapes. You can press almond or raisins for decoration at this stage.
Bake for 12 minutes. Allow to cool. Drizzle with icing. To make icing sift icing sugar into a small bowl, add water by the the teaspoon until you get  a pouring consistency. Put into piping bag to decorate cooled cookies. Makes 28 cookies.

Keep in an airtight container. If the weather is hot where you are they keep well in the fridge.

Edit: I've decided to add the original recipe to this post. 

Swedish Ginger Cookies

6 oz  (170 gram) butter or margarine
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon each of ground ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon
1/4 cup castor sugar
almond halves to decorate

Cream butter and sugar until well blended. Add egg and milk and beat until fluffy. Sift flour with baking powder, salt and spices and blend into creamed mixture. chill dough for 1  hour. Roll out on floured board to 1/8 inch thickness, sprinkle lightly with castor sugar and roll lightly with rolling pin. Cut into shapes with small biscuit cutters, decorate with almond halves, place on greased baking tray and bake in a moderate oven 350 degrees F (200 degrees C) until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

*Margaret Fulton is a legend in Australian Cooking. The Margaret Fulton Cookbook published in 1968 was a revolution for its time, even though a lot of it's contents are very basic, for example how to fry fish, how to boil an egg or how to do the most basic roast. She was our first cook book author to become a celebrity. Mum gave me the book along with the cookie cutters and a wooden rolling pin.

Happy cooking,

Monday, 10 December 2012

McCall's 5927 Dress

Hi Everyone,

The heat was on and I shopped my stash and found some palm leaf print rayon to make a floppy dress for days when it is just too hot to wear anything close to your skin. Of course as soon as I finished the dress the weather cooled dramatically but I am not complaining. There will be plenty of hot days ..

The dress is based on M 5927.  I used the bodice and teamed it with the pattern for the skirt lining which I expanded by twice the width to make a gathered skirt. I did bias strip edging for the neckline and sleeves because I ran out of material to make facings. My original plan was a shorter skirt with a deep hem to give the rayon some weight but then I decided to keep the longer length. The midi length has always been a favourite of mine, so I am making a statement that is anti-fashon. I've dressed up for photos here but in reality this dress will probably be a beach garment teamed with rubber thongs (flip-flops) more often than not.

I cut the dress too large and had to take it in to make it a bit less sack-like. I took it in a bit at the sides and a bit at the back darts, then I took the zip out and took it in a bit down the whole length of the zip, tried it on and I found I could get into it without putting the zipper back.

Do you like my minimalist sewing nook? I am trying to keep it uncluttered. I've moved my old bookcase to another room and there is a space here waiting for my new custom made 8 cube bookcase which is being delivered today. That's where I will stash all my sewing magazines and my projects in progress and current patterns as well.
I'm amazing myself with my spur of self organization.  Who needs New Year Resolutions?

BTW I've made this dress before. Here is the 'proper' version on DD.

Happy Sewing,

Monday, 3 December 2012

A Simple Summer Dress New Look 6013

Dear Blog Friends,

Edit Update. I've somehow lost my Favourite Sewing Blog Blogroll! Disaster! I'll be rebuilding it shortly. I've also posted a review of my dress on Pattern Review. See sidebar.
Now back to my regular posting:

I've been learning something new. I am getting acquainted with Photoshop Elements 8. It is an amazing application. I bought it two years ago and was somewhat intimidated by it and found iphoto much simpler to use as I rarely did anything to my photos other than a bit of cropping. Photoshop was on my 'Yeah, One day' agenda. Then, as anyone who has read my previous post knows, I was pushed into a corner and the day arrived. It is a tool that can do so much it is mind boggling. I've barely gotten around how to shift photos around my computer from here to there and discovered things I want to do like collages and magnified photos of sewing details and do more than .. you guessed it .. crop.

I want to present good photos but I don't intend to make my sewing projects look like something they are not and you won't see me suddenly looking like Angelina Jolie either.

My tutor on the photography course I recently did said 'You can't edit a bad photo into a good one' and emphasized getting composition, exposure and focus right at the start. I am nowhere near as experienced a photographer as I am as a sewist and I frustrate myself with what I can't do ..yet. I am willing to share my frustrations I mean my photo journey here and post some of my efforts.

Photoshop gets a bad rap in sewing blog world, but it is just one of many editing programs and it is enabling me to get around imacflikrgoogle limitations and for that I am grateful.

Back to sewing I've made a quick summer dress to cope with our heatwaves. We've just had one and are expecting more. My aim is to make a few quick summer garments from the extensive stash. Here's number one.

New Look 6013 Dress

Unlined, raglan sleeves, back zip

The only thing I changed was to swing the front vertical dart outwards to my high hip to eliminate a drag line.

I'll do a Pattern Review soon. Hope you are all having a good week.

Last weekend I caught up with a friend who lives in the Blue Mountains, an hour's drive west of Sydney and we went to this lookout at the Shipley Plateau at dusk.


Friday, 23 November 2012

Making Eyelet Curtains

Hi everyone,
I've been at it again, sewing curtains out of necessity.

This is the first time I've made eyelet curtains. I already had the side curtains for my living area in a heavy embossed creamy white - bought at a Spotlight sale. I could not find ready made semi sheer curtains to go with them in the color I wanted but I found the perfect material on the bargain table! hehe. Adventures in sewing followed.
Eyelet curtains are the ones with the big rings at the top.
A google and Pattern Review search followed but I could not find information by an ordinary sewist on how to do this type of curtain. Then I found this website  which gave me the basic idea. The rest was trial and error. Here is what I learnt.

Before Making
Take accurate measurements of your window to be covered. An expanding metal ruler is handy for this. Double check them and write them down and take the information with you when buying the fittings and materials.

Spotlight had a extensive range of everything you need for do it yourself window projects. Lincraft has a smaller range.  Bunnings also has curtain rods and fittings.

When buying material buy the length you need plus a generous allowance for the top hem, the bottom hem, shrinkage if prewashing plus half a metre for variations in grain and/or pattern repeats. Nothing is worse than ending up with curtains that are just that little bit too short.

Consider the width of your material. You need twice the width of the area/s to be covered or the curtains will look skimpy.

Thread. Use good quality thread. It will be exposed to sunlight and variations in temperature.

I used a medium  sized Universal needle 90/14, which I needed to discard it after the project. The eyelet tape is very hard on needles and pins. I used the same pins over and over on each seam and also discarded  them after the project.

The eyelet tape. You will need tape according to the width and number of curtains. Be sure you calculate for an even number of rings for each, they are designed to go in pairs and clip together if you like the pinch pleat look.

Separate eyelet rings. They come with the tape but if you want a different color you can buy them separately.

Handling amounts of material this large means they will get dragged on the floor or slide off the table at some point. Do a thorough vacuum, dust and wipe of all work surfaces.

I had ten metres of material which I cut into two lengths for better ease of handling. I serged the edges to prevent fraying, washed and dried them on cool cycle. I was working with a mystery polyester that frayed and shifted easily.

I found the crosswise grain of my material by pulling a thread before cutting. I did this at each edge.

To make the Eyelet Curtains
Get the top of your curtain material and lay it wrong side up.
Turn the side edges in once 5/8". Press. Stitch if you have a material that will not hold a crease. (They will be folded over again and stitched later.)
Press the top edge down 5/8" then over again 1/14 inch. I did this so that the top of my curtains would look similar to the top of my side curtains. If you want your tape right at the top do it like shown in the website linked earlier in this post.
Place your eyelet tape with the plastic tabs, that is the Wrong side Up. Snuggle it into the corner and just under to top fold. Stitch along the fold that is just over the top of the eyelet tape, using a zipper foot so as to get a smooth line when going past the rings.

Stitch along the bottom edge of the eyelet tape, being careful not t shift the material off grain. Fold the side seams over to cover the side edges and stitch.

Turn your curtain over, right side up. Take one of your separate eyelet rings and trace the inner circle with a pencil.

I was worried about fraying so I went around the circle lightly with a glue stick.

Cut just inside the circle.

Press the ring until it snaps in. This isn't hard. I did it with my hands. Repeat all the way along. Do not worry if your material is a little bit taught - it makes the rings go in easier. Trim off any material fibres on the inside, if necessary.

Hem your curtains, hang them up and admire!
Happy Sewing.

P.S. I've run out of picasa! I thought that when this happened I could just upload photos one by one from flikr, but it won't let me do that.
If I had known when I started I would have had one picture per post and then a link to an album or slide show like some other bloggers do. Ah hindsight! Soon though, I will have to  pay both picasa and flikr if I want to produce a trouble free easy to read blog.
Paying means two more corporations that have access to my bank details and two more expenses to keep track of. It's a hassle.
I love sharing photos and don't want a photo stingy blog. While I ponder what to do I'd really like any feedback anyone can give me on this matter.

Edited to add:  I did it!!!!! I resized a photo, saved as a document, then uploaded to here.  While I was researching this I found that photos of 800px by 800px do not count toward the google limit! Yay!

So thank you to Rune and Mary Nana, I've figured out my own way to have photos galore.

Further Edit, Jan 2016:  Photo resizing can be done in many application but the easiest is in Preview if you have a mac. Put your photo on desktop, open it with Preview, click on the little icon that looks like a suitcase then click on the icon that looks like a little square with two arrows. Type in 800 for either the height or the width, whatever is largest on your photo and 'ok'. When you close the photo it will automatically be saved at the new size. Easy!

Thanks, Val.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Pretty Ladies

Hello Peoples,

On Friday I completed some boring but very necessary sewing, tab top cotton curtains for my bedroom to go with my roller blinds and my new pale latte walls. The material is from Spotlight's home furnishings section. It is called 'Paris Couture Red'.

I pre washed it. The shrinkage was about 7cm per metre. Then it was all straight lines and a lot of measuring and re measuring.

I'd love to make every one of these outfits.

The curtains let just the right amount of light through for daytime
and add a dash of colour. A tip. A long time ago I heard a sewing expert say that it is worth the investment to use only the best thread on curtains as they are exposed to sunlight and variations in temperature, so it was Gutterman all the way. 

Ta Da!

There's enough left for a good sized throw pillow.
On another subject it's hard not to notice that Christmas is coming soon. I am thinking of making a bunch of oven mitts out of leftover material pieces and fleece for gifts but I am wondering if it is worth the effort because at the moment it's hard to find the time. On the other hand I seem to have lost enthusiasm for shopping with the crowds. Thoughts?

I'll leave you with a coupe of macro shots.

I've been doing a photo course. Can you tell?

Happy Sewing,