Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Creative Space

The boys have taken Daddy to the museum today so someone else has been featuring rather largely in my creative space today.  So here is my collaborative assistant taking you on a tour of a couple of the crafty genres we have sampled so far today...

Firstly, to the kitchen for cooking:

One small spoon for cake...

One giant spoon for Chloe-kind!

Next stop, the dining room for a bit of painting fun (and to try out the new Dora art smock)...

Finally we head to the front room for some serious discussion on what sewing project to tackle today...

So what shall we make... a dress, a top, a skirt.... and what colour???  I guess I'll just have to wait for the creative assistant to get back from morning tea...

or maybe, I might just join her!!!!

And do join us at kootoyoo for My Creative Space today...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Creative Space

All last year, every Thursday in fact, I would watch as post after post in my reader would pop up saying "My Creative Space".  And every Thursday I would want to join in but didn't.  How silly is that!!!  My excuse to myself always was "I don't have a creative space yet".  I can't really use that excuse any more because I do have a creative space now.  So one must jump in feet first don't you think.

At the moment I'm giving the sewing machines a rest.  My Creative Space currently revolves around this:

I scored this cute little dolls high chair from a swap meet a couple of weekends ago for $3.  Granted it was a horrible green/black colour but I'm slowly turning it white.  The top picture shows the way it sort of folds in half to become a table and chair.  It works in theory but not quite in practise, who ever cut the legs in half didn't do a particularly good job so they are all uneven and it wobbles terribly and the high chair tray is too long so it pushes the chair up when its been flipped over to the back.  So I'm going to restore it to its intended purpose as just a high chair.  And although its only half painted in these pictures, the whole chair is now white and its been broken down into its various parts ready to be carefully put back together.

Its a slow process though... the chair keeps disappearing.  Fortunately I don't have to look too far for it, Chloe will be off somewhere feeding her dolls.  They don't seem to be in the least bit concerned about the colour or state of disrepair.

Do pop along and join in My Creative Space, don't be a silly sausage like me and put it off... and off... and off!!!

I have a little secret to share with you...

I have not one, not two but three children going off to school this year.  Granted Chloe will only be at kindy 2 days a week but they will be two full days.  Alex will be in pre-primary full time and Samuel of course being in Year 3 this year is also fulltime.

So whats the secret?  Secretly, I'm so relieved... yes, relieved.  Not happy (although I'm happy that school holidays are almost over and the end of the fighting and whining and carry on), not excited (well maybe a bit LOL) but relieved.  Do you know that feeling after a long days work when you get home and sort of fall into your favourite chair cuddling your favourite cushion and at the same time exhaling?  That's very much how I imagine my first day home alone to be.

Of course, I fully expect to miss them terribly and I'll definitely miss my little shopping buddy.  After all who else will drag me off too Bed, Bath and Table and The Body Shop if not Chloe.  But I also think about all the things that I want to do... sewing, cooking, sorting, organising, gardening.  Yes they are all things that can be done with kids around, so many people do these very things day in, day out with their own children around and manage marvellously.  I'm the sort of person that becomes very focussed on a task though and I find interruptions throw me totally so I guess I'm looking forward to being able to throw myself into things completely for a few hours a day. 

But February is going to be a very lonely month this year because not only are the kids heading off to school but hubby is off to site for three weeks as well from the 1st of Feb!!!  Gosh, I'm not going to know myself.  So one project that I especially want to do while he is away is the Negroni Shirt by Colette Patterns.  As an added bonus there is a sew along happening for this shirt which by amazing coincidence also starts on the 1st of Feb.  It's fate I tell you!!!  So the fabric has been ordered from Fabric Tales and should be winging its way to me as I type and I've got the pattern so now all I have to do is wait patiently for 1 Feb.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I love a sunburnt country...

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!

Dorothea Mackellar OBE


I feel privileged to live in the country that I do.  Its a land of great richness and natural beauty.  But it is also a land of stark contrast and the richness and beauty of the land comes at a price.  As Dorothea Mackellar penned so many years ago, so it is today, a land of droughts and flooding rains.  Here in Western Australia we are experiencing drought conditions and 9 homes have been lost to fire just south of where I used to live and grew up.  On the other side of the country, our fellow Australian's in Queensland are being devastated by torrential rains and flash flooding - flooding which is sweeping away everything in its path, cars, houses, livestock, crops and people.

The Australian crafting/sewing/blogging community is as always quick to react when our fellow countrymen are in need and now is no exception.  Make It Perfect are currently running an auction event starting on Monday 17th January with all monies being donated to the relief efforts in Queensland.  Are you able to donate something to the auction?  Maybe your talent is more with the purchasing of items?  Even if you can only spare a dollar or two I urge you from the bottom of my heart to donate to the Premier's Flood Relief Appeal (and if your donation is $5 or more pop over to Ric-Rac for the raffle she is setting up).

Australia, for all her beauty, richness and rewards, is a harsh and exacting mistress but we as Australians are stronger...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Embracing the new and the old...

I think half my reluctance to do anything sewing over the past number of months has stemmed mainly from the room I was working in.  We call it "The Front Room", its the formal lounge, a lovely room overlooking the lovely park across the road, but it had also become our dumping ground.  Not only that, I had my machines on two small coffee tables and was tracing and cutting on the floor.  In short, it was neither a comfortable nor creative haven.

Over December though I started having a massive clean up in there.  We now have some storage space in the roof which has been a life saver.  I had an intuitive and as it turns out accurate guess as to what my Christmas present might be - my wonderful hubby really splashed out and got me a stunning Horn sewing cabinet.  I worked like a little Christmas elf sorting that room out so much so that it ended up being the "Christmas Room" with the tree, presents etc etc and we had lots of fun Christmas morning ripping into our presents there (and it also gave me heaps of room to put together my wonderful cabinet and Chloe's new doll house).

There are still a few bits and pieces which we need to get rid of or relocate but for all intents and purposes its now "my room", a little haven that I can retreat to. 

Now that this rather large and daunting job is out of the way, I've been able to turn my attention to other things.  Obviously the sewing is one thing but amidst all the junk in the room was something that I had purchased a few months ago at a garage sale.  It was a lovely Singer sewing machine, working mind you, in its case and I got it for $60.  I was quite chuffed with my purchase at the time and intended for the lovely thing to be a display piece in "my room" when it was all ready.

So today I decided to do a bit of research on my little prize.  I needed to rethread it for starters because I think the kids might have pulled the thread out and because it didnt come with a manual I had to find that first.  As it turns out learning about an old Singer is relatively easy.  Singer actually provide serial number identification information online.  Because I have the serial number on my machine it was very easy for me to find out that my machine was made in 1952 and it was given its serial number on 1 April along with 40,000 other 201K machines.  Yes, as it turns out this machine is a 201K.

So you might say.  Well further research shows that this is a pretty decent little machine.  In fact, this is how one machine expert, Alex I Askaroff  has described the 201K:
 "Singer's 201k was undoubtedly the pinnacle of Singer's quality machines. The 201 had arrived on the scene after nearly a century of evolution. It had the very best features of all Singer's models and a price-tag to match.
The Singer 201K has gone down in history as Singer's finest model. Although technology has moved on, quality has not. The Singer 201K simply represents the very best that Singer's could make and was built to last a lifetime. Even today many professional sewers seek out this elusive model as no new machine can come close to this beauty for reliability and stitch quality."
 Those are some pretty big standards to live up to, but time and again as I continued my research people consistently were saying the same thing - this was possibly Singer's best machine ever!!!   So while I had been quite chuffed with my purchase when I first got it, now I was positively beaming with pride for my gorgeous new/old machine.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Placating the zipper gods

OK I know I've probably gone on about this way too much now so I promise this will be the last.

I was thinking last night, the reason the zipper gods insist on making us believe that zips are hard to put in is because they feel neglected.  Think about it... when was the last time you looked at a garment and said "wow, that's a gorgeous zip"?  Never?  We see clothing and love the fabric or the buttons or the ribbon/trim/appliqu├ęs but the poor old zip just spends its day going up and down, only getting noticed when they aren't working properly.

So today I've found some zips which will make you say "wow, that's a gorgeous zip!".

Both from here
   From here

 From here

From here

From here

So there you go, zips can be fun and funky as well as being functional.

Let's get ready to rumble!!

In the LEFT corner, I give you... FAN

And also in the left corner, I give you... OVERLOCKER

Both are vying for the coveted position of ... POWER SUPPLY!!!!


Actually it was no competition really, the overlocker didn't even put up a fight.  It was so hot and muggy in the sewing room last night I only contemplated pulling the fan out of the socket for all of about 5 seconds before deciding that the fan wasn't going anywhere.  I did however need to finish the edges of my facings before sewing them in and rather than going for a regular overedge stitch I decided to go for something a little more fancy...

You know, its almost a shame to put them inside the dress where no one will see them, they really are quite cute.  And I think half the attraction was sitting in front of the fan cutting out those tiny little triangles, at least I looked industrious sitting there keeping cool.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

In all fairness to the Birch Invisible Zipper Foot...

OK, so I had a go at the invisible zipper foot in my last post.  The instructions that come with it are appalling.  However a quick google this morning and the first blog I checked was here.  I should have done that right from the start.  So I just wanted to say thank you to Kim of All Things Mum for restoring my sanity and if you too are having trouble working out just what those small diagrams are trying to tell you check out Kim's pictures. 

And apologises to the zipper foot, as usual it was operator rather than machinery which was to blame LOL.

Whatever you do... don't anger the zipper gods!!!!

Do you have an item of clothing that you love more that any other item of clothing you possess?

(Yeah I know, this doesn't seem to have a lot to do with the title of this post, but bear with me, we're getting there, I'm just taking the scenic route!!)

Maybe you have a pair of trackie pants that have lived through and comforted you through every major aspect of your life.  Or maybe its a jumper that you swear you are going to be buried in.  For me, at around the age of 16, it was a dress that I had made myself.  It was nothing particularly special, cheap green cotton and princess seams reaching down to the ankles.  It wasn't made particularly well being one of my first sewing experiences but I absolutely adored that dress.  But it wasnt just the dress that I adored, it was the way I felt when I was wearing it.  Princess seams look particularly good on me (if I do say so myself).  Being of the hourglass persuasion the nipped in waist makes the waist look even smaller and it also does a pretty good job of disguising the bigger hips, thighs and bum as well.  In short, it made me feel like a princess whenever I wore it.

I was thinking about that dress, wondering just what happened to it and decided that I really needed another one.  And after asking Mr Ebay in just the right words I found not one, but two patterns which are almost exactly like my beloved dress, one with a very full skirt and the other not so full in the skirt.  And to top it off I also found a princess seam pinafore for winter!!

(Yes I know what you are thinking... what on earth has this got to do with the zipper gods.)

Just before Christmas, the lovely Eternal Creation was selling some of their overstocked fabrics and one in particular I grabbed with the purpose of making the fuller skirt dress.  But before I could contemplate cutting into my beloved Eternal Creation fabric, I thought I would do a test run with something else just in case.  The only fabric that I had with enough yardage was a very bright peachy coloured quilters cotton that I picked up a Spotlight for about $4 a metre.  Figuring that it must have been fate for fabric and pattern to be together, I went to work cutting the other not-quite-so-full dress.

The dress went together like a dream, I kept trying it on with pins in various places because I was just loving it so much.  And then, I angered the zipper gods!!

(And finally we get to the point LOL!!)

I happened to make mention on my facebook status that I needed a zipper, in fact here is the conversation:

And this is what angered the zipper gods.  I mocked them, said that zippers were easy and as a result they punished me!!! 

I decided I was going to use a Birch Invisible Zipper Foot which I picked up a while ago because it looked pretty nifty.  Firstly it took ages for me to actually work out how it went on let alone actually sew with it, the instructions which come with it are impossible.  And then when it did come time to sew with it I broke no less than 3 needles in 15cm of sewing which must be some sort of record for a 56cm zip.  And so after much praying to the zipper gods, putting on the regular zipper foot and doing it the old fashioned way the zip was in place.

So what have I learnt from this:

1. The zipper gods insist on perpetuating the myth that zips are insanely difficult to place.

2. Zips are never, ever easy.  Even if you find them easy, never admit to it.  Admitting to it will anger the zipper gods (see point 1).

3.This is why everyone says zips are difficult... because they've already had their run-in with the zipper gods and have learnt their lesson.  I have now learnt mine.  Zipper are notoriously difficult to install!  Keep that myth going... it'll keep the zipper gods happy and all your zipper experiences should be happy ones.

Now that my zip is in I've just got facings and hems to complete.  Have I gushed yet about how much I love this I'll save it for another post because there is lots of gushing to come, I absolutely ADORE this dress already!!