Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thinking about SWAP 2011

Part of me thinks it could be madness but it could be a good chance to make some good progress on building my wardrobe in preparation for *gulp* Me-Made-March and/or Me-Made-May ...

For the planning thread, have a look at this

Some inspiring posts already:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Christmas pudding

We're running a bit late this year in making our Christmas pudding and cake but it's better late than never! We usually get started late August (I think) but time just ran away from us (wasn't it January just the other month?) So the fruits been soaking since Saturday and the puddings are now boiling as I type and we should get the cakes on in the next few days.

Photos to come!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sponge Cake!

I was inspired by a post this week over at 2paw where she made a yummy looking sponge cake. So here is mine! Sorry for the fuzzy phone photos. My camera was out of battery.

The cake has a non-traditional filling of Persimmon and Orange jam and then the usual whipped cream. The reason I put Persimmon and Orange jam is because we have a Persimmon tree (soft eating Persimmons) and we always have too many and are trying to find recipes to use them up. We've made Persimmon cakes, Persimmon chews and most recently Persimmon and Orange jam, which is seriously yummy! I've been eating it on toast every day since my mum made it :o)

So the cake was a hit but there are a few things I'd do differently:

  • I had to cook it for longer. It has 15-18 minutes, at 15mins I checked it and it was very wobbly in the middle. Then I did another 4 mins and then 2 mins about 3 times until is was cooked.
  • It was quite a wide but short cake (I think it was a non-measured 9" tin - ie my handspan plus a bit!) so next time I'd use the normal 7" tin (my handspan-ish) and make it higher. It will make it easier to cut into layers.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Valentino Exhibition in Brisbane!

I feel like I've totally fallen off the Blogtoberfest wagon - probably because I have!! Things got a bit crazy and then once I'd missed one day it was easy to miss a few more.

It all started on Friday night. I went out to some work drinks and had a so-so night. I won't go into the details but I headed home thinking I should have gone straight home to work on a summery skirt instead. Lesson learnt - do what I want to do! So then I got home and couldn't be bother to log onto my computer.

Saturday rolled around and it was my first Saturday sleep in for months. Since the weather outside was pretty awful, I spent an hour or so snoozing in bed before I got up and did some cleaning. Then I headed out in the afternoon for some scrapbooking fun! I was working on a Printers Tray and will post photos when complete (might be awhile away!). On my way home, I caught up with a friend for what was to be a quick dinner but ran later than expected. By the time I got home, I just rolled into bed ... especially knowing I had such a big day ahead of me on Sunday!

Which brings me to Sunday! I headed up to Brisvegas for the day with some sewing buddies to see the Valentino Exhibition. All I can say is wow! It was really awesome! There were about 100 dresses on display, along with some other memorabilia and short movies. There is also a book catalog but they are sold out - so I'll be getting mine on Amazon. You can order it but I'm doing an Amazon order soon anyway.

If you get the chance - go and see it! If I was to do it again, I would go for the weekend and go 2 days in a row. You take different things in each time and there is just sooo much to see. I would live to see the inner construction of so many of them and now I want to see The Last Emperor again. Must ... buy ... DVD :) I will post more about my thoughts and favourite dresses (if I can find some pics online!)

Then the start of this week has been a combination of feeling like I'm getting over jetlagged (Sunday I was up 3am - midnight!). Then work has been busy with a bunch of late nights - which brings us up to today!

On the sewing front, I'm falling behind of my Lady Grey. Between being flat out, gathering my notions and not even pre-treating my fabric, I'm a good week or 2 behind I think. Yikes! I need to get my skates on! It will be hard though with a work deadline fast approaching and weekends busy with house hunting and classes, so I might end up doing it on my sewcation. Yep, you heard right! I have cup week off and plan to spend some of that time at home and then 3 days in King Island.

I'm also still in the planning (procrastinating?) phase of a couple of summer skirts. They should also get completed during my week off.

Oh and I fell off the stash busting bandwagon. Clegs have a sale on and I picked up some fabrics I've been eyeing for awhile. Bad, I know! That's why I started the stash busting challange - to curb my fabric purchasing! So I guess I will need to finish A LOT of garments to catch up. Argh!!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cutter & Tailor forum

Through my researching about Tailoring in preparation for my Lady Grey (which is still behind!) I found some cool stuff at the Cutter & Tailor forum.

I've only read a little but here are some interesting reads:

Go and check it out! Hours of reading lay before you! :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Blogtoberfest - self portrait (a loose interpretation)

I feel like this is a total cop-out because I didn't get the time to draw the self portrait that I wanted to (this thing called work got in the way ... ).

So here it is ... (◑.◑) ... yep, hopeless (but cute!)

I also found this in my travels:


In case you want to find some more smilies, go to this site.

I might try to draw something this weekend. I'm flying to Brisvegas for the Valentino Exhibit, so I should have a few hours in the flight to get this done. I say "should" but since it's a 6:30ish flight I might be sleeping instead!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Back to RJs I went

So, it turns out that I didn't buy enough hair canvas and the shoulder pads were WAY too big. So I went back to RJs today to get some extra supplies (oh and stay tape as I forgot that yesterday, although I'm not 100% sure about it - should it be twill tape? It's not very firm).

So once I had all my bits and pieces, they wrapped up my purchases in brown paper (this is what they normally do) but then they also tied it up with string! It even had a little loop "handle" so I could carry it. What a lovely experience! I think I was grinning to myself all the way back to work. In fact, when I saw it on my desk all afternoon I kept wanting to sing "brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favourite things!"

I should probably add the sleeves to my muslin and pre-wash my fabric ... I'm getting sooo behind!!

Photos of the package contents to come!

Monday, October 11, 2010

I have most of my tailoring supplies!

I finally got the chance to go to RJs today and then Clegs to get my tailoring goodies. I forgot twill tape though, so will head back on Wednesday to get that and more hair canvas if required. I'm also still in need of black silk thread and thicker muslin if what I bought isn't thick enough. Will post pics when I can!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I mentioned yesterday that I had loose plans, not all of which eventuated but I did have a great day - including enjoying the beautiful Melbourne weather!

So this morning I dropped into the Craft Expo. It was not too big and not overcrowded either. I managed to pick up some great scrapbooking and card making supplies and a few fat quarters to make a bag. Not too much really.

When I left there around midday, it was such a beautiful day outside I just wanted to enjoy it! I ducked by the supermarket to get some fruit and cream for the Pavlova and then home to get it in the oven. Whilst it was baking I just lounged around at home (including out in the sun on the lawn! Did I mention the weather was beautiful today?!).

The only think I didn't get done was some sewing! Oops! Oh well.

The Pavlova was for a family birthday celebration. It's not my birthday until December but I'm in this "group" when it comes to birthdays so I made the Pavlova as my cake. The other 2 cakes were chocolate on chocolate. I initially wasn't going to eat it (due to my Blogtoberfest personal challenge) but I caved and ate some ... so that makes it 2 strikes! I'm thinking that once October ends I'll revise this challenge to not eating chocolate that I have purchased. So it means I can't buy chocolate but if it's at a function or dinner and chocolate is served , then I can have some. This should still stop the 3:30pm munchies at work.

At least the Pavlova went down well!

If you want the recipe, it's from Masterchef. I decorated with blueberries, raspberries & mango and would consider shavings of chocolate over the top next time.

I did notice a couple of things with this recipe:

  • The outer shell cracked which I think is due to too much sugar. I wonder if when I was measuring the egg whites if I was maybe 15mls under? I will pay more attention next time.
  • I think the egg white "soft peaks" were maybe not quite stiff enough. When I went to shape it I couldn't get it as high as the photos in the magazine because it wasn't thick enough (Masterchef Magazine 1, with tips on styling).
  • The cream was on for maybe 10-15mins before it was served and it started to collapse on one side. It was either too heavy toppings or due to the way the shell cracked. A second try at this recipe will hopefully improve on this.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

It's been a busy day!

I left the house this morning at around 8:30am and only just got home at 10:45pm. It's been a long and busy day but a great day too!

I had my last sewing class (as least for now) and learnt how to make some welt pockets! One of them was good practice for the bound buttonholes because it was basically a long bound buttonhole. Yay!

Then I headed to the beach for a quick sit in the sun. It wasn't as warm as predicted but it was still nice to sit in the early spring sunshine. Then it was off to a scrapbooking class to make a mini album. We didn't finish it yet so photos are probably a few weeks away (when I can get the missing papers and finish it off.

Then to a friends house for a lovely dinner!

All in all a great day! And the plan for tomorrow is either sewing or go to the craft expo and then do some sewing :) I'm also going to a birthday and plan on making a Donna Hay Pavlova as shown on Masterchef - recipe is available online here! Sounds like another busy day!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lady Grey ... progress in planning

Ok, so I have an almost completed muslin, I have fabric, lining and buttons. The last items on my list are the tailoring supplies! Yikes, I've seen the first few parts to the tailoring of this coat. Handbasting with hidden stitches - yikes! I mean, I've done blind hemming by hand but I'm worried my stitching will show up. Only one way to find out! So in order to prep for this stage, I need to go and pick up the following:

  • 1 metre of 60" wide hair canvas
  • 2 metres of weft interfacing (is this like whisper weft?)
  • Black silk thread
  • Beeswax
  • 1 metre of pre-shrunk muslin (for the back stay)
  • 1/4 metre black silk organza (for the bound button holes)
  • Shoulder pads

I don't actually know what some of these are, so I'm hoping RJs can help me out with them all!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Joining the Stashbustin' challenge

So, I've decided to join Zoe's Stashbustin' challenge. I've been considering this for a little while because I've noticed lately that my sewing output has slowed but my fabric input has not. As such, I think it's time for a bit of de-stashing. I know I have some really nice fabrics (and some not so nice ones) and I want to turn them into items I will love instead of pieces of fabric I love but am too afraid to use. I have found in other hobbies I've dabbled in that if something is "special" I don't want to use it and then I reach a point when it is no longer as special to me and I use it but since I no longer love the raw material I don't love the end product (in this case garment) as much as I could have, had I made it earlier.

I also helped my mum clean out her stash of fabrics that would go back to the 70s and 80s. Some were not so nice and we were happy to send to a new home but there were a few very nice pieces that are now out of style but I'm sure would have been awesome at the time. The more we sorted, the more I thought "I don't want this to be me in 10-20-30 years time" and I decided there and then to sign up for this challenge!

I haven't decided the exact rules just yet but I know that I will need to continue to purchase notions (zips, thread, buttons etc...), along with interfacing, lining etc... So it's not a total ban but a partial one.

I also know that there will be times when I want to buy something, so I'm considering a rule similar to another participant: for every 3 garments sewn I can purchase fabric for 1 garment. I might alter this as I go - to 5 garments = 1 new fabric, maybe ... we'll see.

So that is where I'm up to and it also aligns with the theme I have chosen for my mini SWAP:

Beautiful Work Basics from my stash!

So far I have the following list but I will devote a post to this with photos of the chosen fabric and the patterns too:

  1. Work pants, in a pinstripe fabric.
  2. Work pants, in a plain fabric (black or grey).
  3. Simplicity 2594, with a fabric very similar to the check fabric on the pattern cover.
  4. A shift dress (I joined the Butterick 5147 Dress Sew Along, so I think this is the pattern I will use)
  5. Light jacket for spring/early summer (maybe my Lady Grey will fit here or a Trench Coat, although I don't have any trench coat fabric)
  6. A french inspired black and white striped top. I have a RTW with fine stripes but I think thicker ones will be nicer. I have a piece of fabric in mind for this one.

I've also decided to join the Summer Essentials Sew-Along. I know it's technically over but it's getting into warmer weather now and I know that I need some new items. This will just help me hone my creativity into useful pieces.

  1. McCalls 5591 in a cotton sateen with pink flowers
  2. Self-drafted skirt from my RTW summer favourite from last year in a lovely soft cotton print
  3. 3/4 pants or capris, I'm thinking in a black sateen, if I can find any (yes, I'd need to but some fabric for this one)
  4. A carry all bag, probably the Nicole Mallalieu Beach Bag or maybe the Day Bag
  5. Maybe bathers or a summer dress? Not sure yet.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I have pants!

So my pants are finally finished which I'm happy about but I wish I could say I was as happy about the fit but a few weird things happened:

  • The waistband is a little too big, which may be due to a change I made to the pattern pieces but not the waistband. I will try to work out what went wrong before I make them again.
  • For some reason they are sitting too low but I'm not sure if that's because the waist band is too loose (see above)
  • I think I shaped the leg too much and they are too tapered for my body shape. It's not obvious in the pics I posted but it's horribly obvious in the side view (hence why I omitted it!)
  • I think this wasn't the best fabric choice but I was desperate for some stretch black pants which is why I made them but I'm beginning to think some non-stretch casual pants are what I need. *sigh* live and learn. At least it's something to consider for my mini SWAP I'm planning (don't worry, I'm working on it and will post soon!)
  • There is also some weird drag lines across the side and back (even the front!) which is confusing me. Maybe it's time to muslin again since my original one is a bit snug around the hips/waist.

But on a plus, the button and button hole are awesome, as is the zip insertion - I'm definitely improving!

So, onward and upward. Next project is inspired by Tasia over at She has made some awesome versions with this pattern so I tracked it down on ebay! I also think that McCalls 5591 is very similar, if you want to find something that's not OOP in a very similar (maybe the same?) style. No sewing tomorrow night because I will be at work late and I will be completing my Lady Grey muslin on Thursday, so it will probably be the weekend until I start on this but considering it's just the waist that I need to fit and I have my block pattern for that, it should be pretty straight forward (fingers crossed!)

(sorry for the weird photo - I think my camera card is on it's last legs)

Here are all the patterns I picked up from the same seller:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pants ... almost but not quite

I spent some of Saturday working on my Lady Grey Muslin and then spent Sunday trying to finish of a new pair of black pants. I just needed to re-shape the leg, as they a bit too wide, add a button hole and button and then hem them. I now only have the hemming to go but have decided to complete it tomorrow because I'm a bit too sleepy for blind hemming by hand. I will post the completed pics tomorrow.

In the meantime, here is my Lady Grey fabric (I've always wanted a jacket with a polka dot lining!):

I have the fabric choosen but now I need to select my buttons. I choose 2 different ones in the shop but I think I'm leaning toward the more matte one. Thoughts??

Oh and here are all of the buttons I picked up!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Day 3

So, today has been a pretty good sewing day. I have almost finished another pair of the Simplicity 2860 in a black woven knit from Spotlight. Nothing overly special, just a basic pair of black pants that I'm in desperate need of, as my current black pair are wearing out with little bits of broken elastic strands on the seat of the pants.

The material ended up being shinier than I expected but overall not too bad. I just need to taper the leg a bit because they are a bit too wide (I'm wondering if the Simplicity 2562 or Simplicity 2700 might be a slimmer fit through the leg but I'm not sure. Has anyone tried this patterns? Once the shape is a bit better I'll hem them and post pics - hopefully tomorrow!

I also did some family mending - the pocket of my brothers jacket and a split side seam in his pants. Pretty easy stuff.

I also went out for a family dinner at Cutler & Co and I ordered a delicious dessert:

Image from here. I forgot my camera and the iphone photos were just too dark.

I hope everyone had a good weekend and all the Melbournian's enjoyed the beautiful weather. Bring on more spring weather and summer!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A giveaway (not mine)

Head on over to The Long & Winding Bobbin blog to read not only an awesome blog but also about her giveaway.

And to complete my entry, here's what I'm working on - my Lady Grey! More muslin pics and fitting info to come.

Plus I'm wearing some pj pants I made about 1-2 years ago using some awesome 1970's mission brown velour from my mums stash. They are affectionately called "Monkey" pants in our house as my mum made a monkey costume from the same material when we were kids. And there's still about 6-8 metres left, after 1 monkey costume and about 3 pairs of Monkey pants!

Macaroni & Cheese

When I was sick the last few weeks, I was seriously craving comfort food. One of the most frequent things I wanted to eat was Macaroni and Cheese. Here's my recipe! I don't usually measure it all out but I did so I could document it here.


  • 200 grams pasta
  • 30 grams butter
  • 1.5 tablespoons of plain flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 80 grams cheese (normal tasty cheese is fine)
  • 1/8 teaspoons smoked paprika - this is something my mum has always added. We used to add paprika from the supermarket but since I returned from Spain we have used Smoked Paprika from Spain. There are actually 3 types you can get in Spain and I use the Sweet Paprika (Pimentón dulce). It comes from an area called Vera and includes a sticker of authenticity when it's from there. The spanish will tell you it's the best if it's "de la Vera" or from Vera. If you live in Melbourne, you can buy it at Casa Iberica.
  • Salt to taste

Cook pasta, as per packet directions (boil in slightly salted water).

Whilst the pasta is boiling, melt the butter in a pot on a low heat. Make sure it doesn't burn.

Once the butter is melted, add the flour and stir to combine. You need to cook this on a very low heat without it burning. This stage is cooking out the floury task from the sauce.

Once the butter and flour has been cooking for a couple of minutes, start to add the milk a little at a time. Ensure that you are stirring constantly to ensure you have no lumps. As I'm adding the milk, I sometimes hold the pot away from the flame so that it doesn't get too hot. It's all about temperature control!

Once the milk is combined, you have what is a basic white sauce. This much milk is quite runny and perfect for mac & cheese but if you are just using the white sauce then you might want to add less milk.

Cut up the cheese and stir through the mix. At this stage you can turn the heat up a little but not too high. I'd say a medium heat is good.

Once the cheese is all melted, add the paprika and salt to taste.

Stir the pasta through the sauce and serve. Yum!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Blogtoberfest: What does this month mean to me?

So when I saw Blogtoberfest, there was one main reason to sign up - to encourage myself to blog more. I started this blog as a place to document my creative pursuits, particularly sewing, and also to connect with other creative people in the blogosphere. I thought that "the whole blogging thing" was pretty straight forward but there's a few things that I've found trickier than I expected:

  • Finding the time / remembering to post things.
  • Having interesting things to blog about.
  • Learning about the ins and outs of blogging (like adding pages, formatting text etc... - I just learnt how to get the bullets working in this post!). Still need to find a way to customise the background and my banner.
  • Remembering to take photos to make my posts more interesting.

So, this is what I plan to do for my first blogtoberfest:

  1. Blog every day :o)
  2. Design a mini SWAP (Sewing With A Plan) or 6-Pack wardrobe of 6 pieces, to help fill some of the immediate gaps in my wardrobe. Then complete a minimum of 2 pieces in October. The biggest gap right know is knit tops, so that is where I'm going to start. More detail to come ...
  3. Host a giveaway
  4. Complete my Lady Grey coat as a part of Gertie's Sew-Along

Some useful links I found about blogging 101: