Saturday, 28 December 2013

Yule log envy and the miseries of pattern tracing


That explains my post title, right?  Because now I bet you have Yule log envy.  Also you may be thinking "wow, that's an amazing Yule log (branch), is there no end to this woman's talents?".  Well, no, there isn't... at least not if you count picking up bargains in Waitrose as a talent.  I saw these Yule branches before Christmas and couldn't justify the purchase of a third Yule log  excessive cost- it is just a cake after all... But this one was half price the day after Boxing Day.  Mmmmmm it's amazing.  Had a slice for breakfast today before going to the gym. Good times!  

Exciting news here... I'm going to be sewing up some bits to sell in our new local Arts and Crafts co-operative shop.  Would post more details now but am too tired after a broken night with the children.  Watch this space!

I have made a little bit of progress so far in the form of ordering more fabric (always need more fabric!) and tracing out some pattern bits.  Thought I'd better get the boring stuff done since I still can't sew, because I still can't cut stuff out, because I still haven't got round to picking up blades for my cutter.  
This is why I hate tracing patterns.  You can see the clutter, the pieces of various different patterns all over the place, the multiple pens, pencils and rulers (because one ruler is always missing), the rolls of paper... You can't see the baby crawling over the patterns dangling on here kitchen floor and ripping a hole in it, but he's around somewhere.  It's done now, though.  I've drafted little bit skinny tee patterns in four sizes now, so when I get my cutter sorted I'm good to go.

And just as an aside... Here are the boys on Christmas morning in the matching pyjamas I made for them.  They wouldn't sit still for any length of time so I snapped a load of pictures, all as bad as each other... And Google has made this sort of slideshow thingy of them so here it is!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Must... Update... Blog... Before Christmas!!

Well things have been busy here, of course, with two small boys and Christmas right around the corner.  But I'm catching a quiet few minutes now so I'm gonna post a some pics of my makes this weekend.

I finished my Christmas sewing with time to spare so this weekend have got down to some post-Christmas sewing.  We have a second birthday part in January for a little girl who looooves cats.  So obviously a cat bimaa is needed!  I had some super soft viscose jersey in a grey marl, perfect for a cat.  I wasn't sure what to line and band it with so enlisted long-suffering husband to help me decide and we went for kingfisher blue.  It's not a very girly top but I don't have a stash of girly colours- although I did have some pink for the ears.

I'm really pleased with the ears as they stand up nicely, like proper cat ears.  Sadly I didn't have a model to show this as at the time I was taking pictures my boys were too grubby to model clothes intended for other people.  But take my word for it, these ears are great.  Oscar wants one now, so I have plans to make a fox version.  I have some gorgeous orange minkee fabric which will be just right.  And some yellow, too, so Felix is going to have a pikabimaa! (Yes that's a real word).  As is 'bimaachu'- maybe I'll do him one of those instead.

When I get idea I like to just get on with it, but that's not happening right now because of many many things.

  1. It's Christmas Eve and I've spent the day cleaning the house for top to bottom.  Well, tidying it at least.
  2. I only have about a FQ of orange minkee left, so if I'm going to use that I need to order more.  Also maybe I would need to line minkee or it could be a bit sweaty.  More thought needed.
  3. My rotary cutter blade has died a sad death.  It got a big blunt spot on it, which made cutting a real PITA.  I did get another blade but it had three blunt spots on it straight out of the packet, which was just a bit annoying.  So I'm drawing round my patterns and cutting with scissors (waste of time!!).  Oh and in case you were wondering whether you could give a rotary cutter blade to your long-suffering husband to sharpen... Don't.  So now I'm going to wait and cut when I've bought some more blades.
  4. I need some other bits and pieces, like black for Pikachu's ears and tail end (did I mention there will be tails?)
  5. I need to decide what colour to line the hoods with, and do cuffs and waist bands.  Navy?  Because I have a lot of navy...
I've made a lot of t-shirts lately, and have got to know what I like and what I don't.  I want to make something with inset sleeves with fake layering.  I want it to be baggier than a bimaa but slimmer than my trusty simplicity pj top pattern.  So for this one I got out all the patterns I've used lately (Bimaa, dolman T, PJ top) had a good look at them, and drafted my own pattern.  In my head I'm calling it a 'little bit skinny tee' (more about that later) and it's rather good.  Admittedly it's nothing especially new or exciting but it does the job and I'm going to work up a pattern for Felix's size next.  Oh and how cheeky is Oscar modelling this?  I had to bribe him though...

And finally... A friend of mine at work is having her first baby in March.  I'm so excited!  She's been asking about things I recommend buying and one of my top suggestions is nighties for baby to wear at night, to save all those fiddle little poppers when changing nappies in the night.  I know from experience that they're not all that commonly found in the shops, and I made some myself for Felix.  Oh how I wish I'd known then what I know now- I could have made truly truly beautiful gowns like these which I've made for my friend:

The ones I made for Felix were very cute but these are far superior.  Having diligently studied Kitschy Coo's Grumpy person's guide to knit bindings I adopted the 'kitschy coo method' and it's amazing:

Sadly on the first gown I forgot to cut off the hem allowance so the neck is a bit small but as it's an envelope neck it really shouldn't matter too much.  I also improved the second gown by eliminating the elastic casing at the bottom and stretching round a band to match the sleeves instead.  I really hope she likes them!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

All in an afternoon's work

Had a chance to finish my Christmas sewing projects today.  I managed to get some t-shirts sewn up in the week so all I had left to do was 2 tops and a cowl scarf.
Now in case you're wondering (which of course you are) about the picture of the rather cracked and shrunken-looking pastry case: while I was sewing this afternoon, my long-suffering husband decided to make a sort of apple flan.  He was extremely busy in the kitchen for a long time so of course I was expecting something amazing.  After I had sewn up my Ts I went to see what he had managed to create in her to same time and I thought I'd take a picture of all of our efforts together just, well, just because.  

In between the rain showers I tried to get a picture outdoors, in natural light, of the week's t-shirts all ironed and ready to wrap.  This one wasn't bad:

But then the wind got up and it started to rain again:

So I had to finish my pics indoors.  I think I may have to give up on natural light until the spring time.

 Here's the whole lot all ironed neatly, folded and piled up ready for wrapping!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Your activities in a typical week

I got a message recently from my old university, asking me to do a "survey about women's lives".  Well I love a good survey so, only mildly daunted by the fact that it said "this survey should take 20-30 minutes to complete", I made a start.

Well.  The time taken about have set alarm bells ringing.  What woman has 20-30 minutes to fill out a survey?  And as the survey progressed it soon became apparent that its writer knows nothing about the lives of women today, especially those with small children.  By the time I got to question 1.7 it was just getting silly:

 Now.  None of this bears ANY resemblance to my week.  I struggled to make up a week's worth of activities from this selection at all.  I had a think about it.  I reckon I have a bit over 100 waking hours  in a week so each hour is about 1% and I think my typical week is something like:
Engaged in paid employment: 18%
Riding unfeasibly large bike to get to and from paid employment: 1%
Getting unfeasibly large bike into and out of shed: 2%
Messing around on Internet: 10%
Preparing food for self, husband, children: 15%
Doing classes at gym: 2%
Swimming lessons with children: 1%
Getting ready for swimming with children, getting dressed afterwards: 3%
Ironing: 4%
Walking to and from places: 5%
Waiting for buses and trains: 1%
Watching cbeebies: 5%
Stopping baby from climbing into kitchen appliances: 2%
Stopping baby from climbing stairs: 3%
Saying NO: 6%
Putting on hats, scarves, shoes, gloves, etc etc: 17%
At toddler groups: 2%
Shopping for groceries: 3%
Interacting with immediate family: 2%
Interacting with friends: 0%
Relaxing: 0%
Alone: 0%

As you can see there is no time for anything else.  Definitely no time for sewing.  People do say "where do you find the time?" and I honestly don't know.  Maybe I'll make up the time saved by not filling out any more stupid surveys?

Monday, 9 December 2013

Dolman T weekend

Everyone else seems to have been putting up Christmas trees this weekend just gone.  I've been sewing up t-shirts for the boys, in a frenzy of activity!  They now have matching penguin ts to wear to tomorrow's Christmas party at toddler group.  I've also done a train version for Oscar.  Poor Felix is a bit left out but he doesn't know or care.  My fake layered sleeves are looking better than ever so I'm pleased in general- but my necks are a bit on the saggy side and I'm still working on why.

I've got a list of bits I need to get sewn up before Christmas now.
1.  A Bimaa top for a friend's little girl.  I have a gorgeous candy-print jersey in funky colours I hope she'll love.  She's an artist so the pressure's on to make something really fab!
2. Another Dolman T-shirt.  For a little boy of some good friends of ours.  It's going to be Viking print and amazing.
3 and 4.  One each of both of the above for Oscar as a Christmas present.  I have a half metre of pretzel-print jersey and he's mad about pretzels.  So I'm going to do a short-sleeved Tee (so he can wear it when we go to Austria to eat pretzels next summer!) plus a long-sleeved bimaa to go underneath- green with pretzel cuffs- so it can be layered for winter wear too.

So far things are not going so well.  I have cut out one measly garment and cut my finger with my rotary cutter.  I bloody hate cutting out.  Determined to get everything cut out first- then the sewing can be my reward!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

The cycle of karma

You know I said I would probably end up blogging about my bike?  Well here goes:
A couple of weeks ago I was out with the children when a lady approached me asking for help unlocking her bike lock, so she could lock up her bike.  We twisted it and pulled it but it just wouldn't budge.  So she couldn't lock up her bike.  Well it just so happened I had a cheap bike lock locked to my buggy.  Never used it, but I had it, and the key, so I offered it to her.  She said she couldn't accept it but I told her it was only a couple of pounds, and I'd never used it, and in the end she took it, and said she hoped something good would happen to me.  Well... It didn't.  But today something bad happened to me and someone did something nice which made things a lot better- so I figure that's my karmic reward!

My bike got a puncture after dropping the boys off at nursery.  I had to get the bus to work, then leave work early to pick up the bike from nursery and walk it two miles in the pouring rain to the bike shop.  When I got there the man in the bike shop asked when I needed it and I said, assuming it wasn't going to be done today, then I wouldn't need it til the middle of next week.  As he was taking my details etc we got talking about the weather and I told him I'd walked all that way in the rain, and he said if I could hang around for 15 minutes he could ask the mechanic to fix the puncture RIGHT NOW, if I had anywhere I needed to go.  I'd planned on popping home, getting the buggy then taking the bus back to nursery to pick up the children.  It's a good 90 minute or so round trip by bus and walking.  So of course I jumped at the chance to get my bike fixed right away!  Nipped across the road for a coffee and sure enough the bike was fixed 15 minutes later.  Now that's good service!  So thanks very much to the lovely staff in Action Bikes, Whitton for making my awful day get a whole lot better.

This evening has been productive too.  As well as marking a lot of essays, I have found some time to sew!  Train pants for Oscar and a penguin t-shirt for Felix.  Both patterns by Kitschy Coo and both super quick and easy to make.  We'll see if they fit the morning.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Let's start at the very beginning...

It seemed like time to start blogging.  But what's this blog going to be about?

Aspirational list of things to put in blog:
1. Awesome things I have sewn.
2. Instructions of how to make awesome things.  Because you will see them on my blog and naturally aspire to create your own.
3. Well-researched posts about interesting and worthwhile intellectual-type things, which are worthy of publication in a quality newspaper.  They will contain references to proper studies and people will read and go 'oh, I wish I had time to research and write such amazing blog posts'.
4.  Clever things about the things I have sewn and how I need to give up my day job to make more, because people are bashing my door down demanding to buy them.
5. Beautiful pictures of my beautiful boys modelling the things I have sewn.

What will actually be in this blog (please take note so as to avoid disappointment):
1. Awesome things I have sewn
2. Awesome things I want to sew
3. Pictures of my kids and reasons why they are cuter than everybody else's kids
4. Railway trivia (including but not limited to the suburban railways of south-west London, fictional railways, toy railways- wooden, plastic, die-cast, interactive talking and flashing lights etc etc)
5. Rants about the perils of parenting
6. Anecdotes about my bike
7. Pictures of fabric and my plans to make stuff with it
8. Mediocre-quality pictures of all of the above, including blurry pictures of my beautiful boys wearing the beautiful things I have made... running away, turning around, covered in food and dirt etc.

So now you know.

Just for the record, here are the beautiful boys in their natural states:
Felix attempting to climb into the washing machine

Felix attempting to climb into the tumble drier

Felix not staying still

Oscar glued to a DVD.. oh wait... He's gone.  Sorry. 

Dear postman...

Thanks for cheering me up today.  My heart sank when I saw this in the porch:
Every week I go to that delivery place to pick something up.  Even though I am only out at work two days a week. Meow does the postman ALWAYS miss me?
So... I turned it over and hooray!  Parcel over the gate!  And when I saw the return address I almost died of excitement (I exaggerate not).  It was my fabric order from Kitschy Coo!  Oscar saw the parcel and started tearing into it with coat, shoes, hat, mittens etc still on.  I told him it was nothing exciting (for him, anyway) but he was having none of it and it didn't take much persuading for me to join in.  Anyway... Because I'm diligent I popped it all through the wash and now it's drying.  Oscar wants me to make something with the 'raccoon dogs' fabric... And something for daddy too.  Daddy's not keen.  There's just no reasoning with some people.  Haven't got a pic of the fabric at the moment but here's the matching ribbon:

Granted, it's not a good photo.  But you get the general idea of the raccoons (who wouldn't want some of these for 'dress down Friday'??) Also I got foxes ribbon.  What in earth am I going to do with it?  
(Answer: keep it, look at it, admire it, NEVER use it because it's tooooo precious and beautiful).

Tomorrow:  maybe cut some t-shirts.