Friday, January 28, 2011

Aubergine and Orange - The Quilt

My quilts chart a slow progress. The purple and orange one started with pencils in February 2010, fabrics in March and was pieced in May. There was a long slow pause, while I found the boarder and finally quilted it last weekend. It's taken almost a year.

Intially it had no purpose other to satisfy a craving for a certain colour combination. I merrily pieced away and had the top sitting ready to quilt last December. In the mean time my sister, E, is about to head off to go flatting in deepest darkest Peru (well, Dunedin anyway) and the single bed quilt I made her years ago no longer fits the bill. She said she'd like aubergine and avocado. It was clear the her summer holiday job in fruit shop was getting to her. When she spotted this top however, she changed her mind. Aubergine and Orange was just a edible and would suit her down to the ground.

You can see by the little faces, and feet, it has taken a while to get this quilt finished. Getting the photos taken was certainly a team effort.

Technical Bits: The pattern is Bento Box from Tracey Brookshier. I fell for it when I saw Kathy's at Pink Chalk Studio in 2008. I remembered it being pink, but now that I look back at it, Kathy has amazing taste and went with pink and orange. The pattern is well worth buying. It is brilliantly thought out and the blocks go together like a dream. Once you've tried one block, you will see why it isn't pieced as log cabins and then deconstructed. After playing with the layout, I have adjusted mine slightly to create the square blocks and echoes. With all the bright colours, it was a little easier on the eye.


Colour Crush

I often become infatuated with colours, in a school girl crush way. This crush started simply enough with my daughter's drawing box.

The orange and purple just seemed to be resonating. The combination had struck a chord with me and suddenly I was seeing it every where. If I wasn't seeing it, I was making it happen. It was months into this infatuation that I realised that my shoes had been orange and purple all along.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Some Sewing for Me

Now that I have jumped into the deep end that is sewing for me, I've decided I might as well keep swimming. This skirt came together over the New Year's break. The pattern is burda style 7346 and I just love it. The details call it a balloon skirt - imagine a puffball, but without the 80's.

I have made some adjustments to it. The hem has been lowered by 4" Call me prim, but I like my stirts to finish at the narrowest part of my leg. Consequently the side pleat is not as dramatic as in the original length. Perhaps next time I will leave the balloon length and add on straight-ish panel below to get to the length I want. The other adjustment was to include some elastic in the ribbed waistband. After having maternity clothes that stretched as I grew but never quite shrunk back, I don't fancy having to constantly hitch my skirt up and have learnt my lesson. before you ask, no, this is not a maternity skirt, just a nicely comfortable one.

I have managed to take it on an outing. It is delightfully swishy to walk in.After a day at the office, commute and all, I can confidently say this skirt is comfortable and perhaps I am tempted to make another one in the near future.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sewing Green - Crafty Book Review

Sewing Green had me hooked at the cover. I am a big fan of Betz White’s Warm Fuzzies so I was delighted to see more of her felted jersey project in this book. Sewing green steps beyond the basic up-cycle and includes remaking with table cloths and shirts, repurposing with place mats and using some unconventional materials like tyvek (builder’s wrap) and juice pouches and considering buying sustainably produced materials.

The book starts by outlining the principles of Sewing Green and then follows up with 25 projects. The projects are peppered with tales of eco-innovators and resource saving tips. Sewing green finishes with a short chapter of techniques, materials and resources.

What I like:
The felted wool jersey projects are appealing yet again. The Eco-Innovators were also intriguing and have me considering the world of swap-o- ramarama.

What I’d pass on:
The only parts I think I would pass on are those that require materials that I can’t readily find in NZ. The organic cotton stretch velour backing in on the Cashmere Lux Throw isn’t easy to find in NZ (global fabrics came to the rescue there) and I would be sucking back the Ribenna’s forever and a day to get enough to make the car sunshade. Further to that, I’m not sure anyone can readily find Marrimekko Placemats going spare.

The chapter of techniques is relatively sparse, making this book better suited to those who are already confident sewers.

What I’d Like to try:
I’ve already started cutting out leaves for the Felted Foliage Scarf. My sister and I have picked out the colours for her Sweater Slippers. So I can safely say that there are a number of projects in Sewing Green that I will be getting stuck into.

Who I’d recommend it to:
I would recommend the book to sewers who have already fallen for the world of felted jersey goodness presented in Betz’s first book. The book is also a great addition for the confident sewer who is looking to add some imagination to the material that they use in their every day sewing.

For more information you can find Betz's website with her blog, books and patterns here

Friday, January 21, 2011

5 Ideas for a Long Weekend

While long weekends don't mean an extra day off for everybody, in our house they mean and extra day with us all together. I've put my mind to some simple things to do with a long weekend in a small town, like Greytown.

1 - Have a Picnic at the River

Our town is surrounded by meandering rivers that make for great picnics. Ask around most people will have a favourite place to go. I'm a fan of the Waiohine Gorge, with it's shaded spots and native bush. My children just love anywhere they are allowed to get their feet wet.

2- Head to the Park

I'm sure every small town must have at least one park. There are a number of them around this area. A trip to the park with the kids makes for a nice break on a sunny afternoon. I love to watch the kids try and master something new. It took Miss H having a go, for little E to try her hand at the flying fox she had been intrigued by.

3-Take a Walk

The flat streets here make for easy walking. If you stop into the information centre, they can load you up with pamphlets for both the historic trees and houses walks around town. Who knows, you might even see some awesome street fashion too.

4- Visit the Museum

The local settlers museum is just the right size for a kid to get around without getting to the the "I'm bored now stage". I love the real cottage - while they are quaint on the outside, the inside is impressively small. The working printing press has me considering a new hobby. My children love the blacksmith's and discarded horse shoes.

5 - Fruit Picking

From mid November to Autumn the berry fruit orchards have pick your own. It is often a blink and you will miss it appearance of a sign on the roadside, so if you see the sign make the most of it.

That's my weekend sorted. What have you got planned?

However long your weekend is going to be, whatever you plan to do, I hope you have a good one.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sew La Tea Do - Crafty Book Review

Sew La Tea Do is the sewing book that makes you want to down tools and go Op Shopping. The pages a crammed with beautiful photos of objects and ephemera amassed by the talent Pip Lincolne. The styling is beautiful and layout inspirational.

I picked up Sew La Tea Do because I was head over heels in love with Pip Lincolne’s last book “Meet Me at Mike’s”. I accidentally reserved it again while hunting down Sew La Tea Do. It makes a handy point of comparison. While Meet Me at Mikes is a virtual gateway drug to a variety of crafts, Sew La Tea Do focuses on the sewing.

After the initial wonder at the styling wore off, I settled down to look at the patterns and the writing. Pip’s offers numerous words of encouragement to the new sewer. The sewer is cheered on by cries of “you can do it” and “it’s the looking handmade, that makes it unique”. I’m torn between these two myself. I would prefer people ask if I made something on the basis that it looks unique rather than because it looks home made.

Thinking that one can’t possibly review a craft book without giving at least something a try I reached for the Surprise Party Skirt. It was a hot day and I have fabric for Africa, so it was time to put it to use.

I am one for reading instructions. I read them, decipher them and then tend to ignore them. My dearest thinks that this is pigheadedness; personally I like to think of it as managed risk taking.

My first surprise with the skirt was that the pattern called for 150 cm wide fabric. There is very little in my stash this wide. I read on and looked carefully at the instructions. They are randomly illustrated with stylised photos of particular steps. I didn’t find these illustrations to be particularly helpful. They do not always show key steps and given their size do not show anything particularly clearly. Instead of tracing the pattern that clearly did not fit on my fabric, I looked through my pattern stash and dug out and old vogue wraparound skirt pattern instead. Following Pip’s lead the waistband was adapted to a broad tie. While I forgot to add a few inches for the mummy factor (I last made this pattern 8 years ago) I am more that pleased with the results.

Given my failure to complete a sewing project to the letter, I looked to the recipes at the back. I am regularly dripping spoonful of chai flavoured chewiness into my cups of tea and the chocolate chip cookies were devoured in a flash. If the recipes are anything to go by the book is a success. Then there is the fact that this book convinced me to break my sewing for myself drought.

First Impression – Beautifully styled, packed with projects and a strong can do attitude.
Format – Projects divided into children, you and home sections with recipes to accompany your exploits and some sewing basics at the back.

Projects – The projects are all simple, with an emphasis on being able to do it rather than workmanship. Aside from the scarves and wrap around skirt, anyone above a size 12 might have some problems with fit or inconvenient curves. I’d recommend checking the skirt measurements before cutting out also. Many of the adult pattern call for wider fabrics, and hence will require specific purchases rather than just using what you have.

Who would I recommend it to? – Someone with a love of op shopping as the styling and ephemera is just beautiful. The projects themselves are well suited to a beginning sewer but the instructions let it down. I would recommend this as a gift to someone who has started with the foundation of basics in Amy Karol’s Bend the Rules Sewing and is looking for somewhere to go next.

Would I Buy It?
Probably not. The recipes will be faithfully copied into my cookbooks and the book will be back at the library in a few days waiting for the keen beginner sewer it is aimed at. I prefer the variety of projects in Meet Me at Mikes and the softer tones (i.e. less exclamation marks). I will finally give into temptation. Rather than getting Meet me at Mike’s out of the library for a fourth time, a copy will be following me home from the book store sometime soon.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pizza - The Magic Bit

Pizza has become a Saturday night tradition in our house. It's a day when we are around to watch the yeast rise, have time to just nip out and get short lived items like mushrooms and when we can take hours over a meal.

The kids are fully conversant with the wonders of making pizza. I love to watch that moment when the yeast starts to leap to the surface in the bowl. I once tried to get Little e to join in the fun by calling her over to watch "the magic bit". While she missed the moment, she could be heard for days afterwards narrating her play cooking with "Quick mummy, this is the magic bit".

Little E claims she doesn't like pizza, but that could be because by the time the pizza is ready she has had her fill of doughballs.

Our pizza nights have become a record of the changing seasons in our garden and enthusiastic helpers. There are flour covered faces, clothes, floor, lawns that dry out with the hot summer sun and little E capturing her mum on camera.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Made in 2010

Sometimes it feels as if nothing ever gets done around here. But if I take the time to think about it, we've been up to a lot over the last year.

There have been quilts, quilting bees, plastic beasts and I have even dabbled in embroidery. I've been supprised at how much I liked embroidery. It was nice to try something new and hence, my resolution for this year is to try something new, regularly and often.

On a personal front, I have returned to work, Miss H has started daycare, Little E has continued at daycare, we've had holidays, we've had cars disasters, we've survived.

We are currently having a stay-cation and just enjoying spending time in our home town. My dearest pointed out that this is the most time we have had together as a family since Miss H was born. We're having fun.