smencil case

Pencil case
Oliver has (as usual) a birthday party this weekend.  This time around it's twins.  The boy will receive, as is mandatory, some lego.  At the moment all the boys are all about the Avengers (lego).  So that's what he is getting.  His sister is however a different story.  I bought these super cute and 'gourmet' smelly coloured smencils  (pencils made from rolled newspaper) from the portrait gallery store a while ago and had them sitting in my 'present box'.  The plastic container had become a bit 'ratty' but I still thought the smencils might be a good gift for the little girl... and the smell of each pencil is amazing.  I saw the tutorial on noodlehead for making an open wide zippered pouch so thought I'd make a little pencil case to store the pencils.
I had bought a fat quarter of this Koka fabric from the Ballarat Patchwork shop when we were there on holidays in January and so used that with a the bright pink zipper and black spotty fabric from the stash.  The zipper isn't exactly right.. and it looks homemade.. but if I was a little girl I think I'd be pretty happy!


Stretch-crepe skirt by Diane von Furstenberg
the offending Diane von Furstenberg skirt, photo from the
Last week, after giving my green cord skirt away I bought this skirt from at a heavily reduced price.  I felt a bit bad about it.  I know I could probably make this, actually probably not, but couldn't help myself.  I easily convinced myself about how well it would go with ALL my clothes.  I fell in love with the colour, the buttons, the way it fit the manequin... which of course meant it is going to fit me perfectly.. even though the mannequin is 5'8" and I'd be lucky if I was 5'2". Anway,  I was sold. So bought it and waited anxiously for it to arrive on my door.  I tracked that skirt all the way from London to Canberra where it arrived in record time at 5.08am on Monday morning.  Yes!  I only live about 5 mins from the courier depot, so thought that the skirt might even arrive before I go to work.  Yes! Yes?  No.  No it didn't arrive on Monday, and no it didn't arrive on Tuesday.  Someone rang and asked what suburb I live in, they had the postcode but not the suburb.  Surely they could have looked it up, but, now they have the suburb surely it will arrive in the afternoon. No.  Not Tuesday, not Wednesday, not Thursday.  I've rung everywhere trying to find my poor little lost skirt but no-one knows where it is. Please turn up little skirt - and please fit when you finally turn up!

I say denim You say de Nimes

Zoe Karssen 
Love this Zoe Karssen sweatshirt currently available at
Here is my trivia for the night:  Last night I was at French class and found out that denim is from France. Really!? I always thought I knew roughly the story of Levi Strauss and thought that denim was American.  But it turns out it comes from France and what is even more surprising is that Ben, a Frenchman, didn't know this.  I wonder why!?  You would think he would claim this as one of the great French inventions!  Anway,  apparently Denim gets it's name from the French city of Nimes (de Nimes).  So, I hope that you get asked this at your next trivia night! And... apologies if I've told you something you already know.

FINISHED! Is there a Dr Tulloch in the library?

I had a busy week last week and fell into the weekend with only an ounce of energy left. Friday night I was looking down the barrel of a busy weekend of kids activities, including soccer and back to back kids parties on Sunday (9.30am to 3pm, gone gone gone to kids parties) plus the usual weekend 'stuff'.  Nevertheless, I stole minutes from wherever I could and managed to fit all manner of activities in, including a dinner at my mum's with my sister and her family, accidentally slamming Ben's fingers in the boot of the car - woopsa!, soccer, present buying and sending, selling our car - not because of the fingers in the boot (to a mum from preschool and school, so let's hope the car goes ok otherwise I'll have nowhere to hide) finishing the dreaded French homework.... and... yes, the Dr Tulloch Library dress got made as well!

I need to bottle away how I managed to find minutes here and there to make this dress. Looking back I can't believe it got done and not even too late into the night. Not tooooo late!  Admittedly it is an easy dress and it comes together very quickly which kept me motivated.

The first time I made this dress, Simplicity 2615 which Emily sent, I didn't buy enough fabric.  I also felt the collar wasn't quite right for me so ended up making a scarf to compensate and if I'm honest with myself the length isn't quite right.  It's not abandoned though and is still on the work outfit rotation.  

This time around, I added a peter pan collar and definitely prefer it. I also kept the dress longer (funny what happens when you buy enough material) and this too works better and suits the style of the dress.  I couldn't find a belt I like so just made up the tie, but will keep my eyes open for a belt.   I'm really happy with the way it has come together... it does have a cute librarian feel to it. Which suits the books in the material perhaps.  I feel very demure in it.

I have some better shoes for a summer wear of this dress  I originally thought black patent shoes would look good but it's not quite right.  Of course this isn't exactly a winter dress, but with a coat and scarf on for outside and in a heated office where I'm always running around..who cares!!
The collar that wasn't quite cut right has now become a 'design feature'!
Would I buy this in the shop if I saw it. Yes.  Yes, I think I might.

By the way, We are currently reading this book, The Hero's Guide to Saving your Kingdom by Christopher Healy  at any opportunity, when I'm not trying to sneak in some sewing. Highly highly recommend it if you are looking for a present for a child. Oliver is 6 and he is loving it!  (As am I!).  We read a lot of chapters of this over the weekend too!  Do yourself a favour!
Here's what the book is about:
"In the first volume of the Hero’s Guide saga, we meet Prince Frederic, Prince Liam, Prince Gustav, and Prince Duncan — better known as the Princes Charming who rescued Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and Snow White, respectively — and find out that these men are far more (or less) than the cardboard cutout heroes we’ve heard tales about. Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their kingdoms, these four men bond over their shared anonymity and band together to battle witches, goblins, trolls, bandits, and giants in order to save each of their kingdoms from a diabolical plot."

gifted skirt

Yesterday morning I went to wear my cord skirt and faced up to the sad realisation that it really is too big for me.  I've worn it a few times and each time, Ben has said, it's too big, it doesn't look great, but each time I closed my ears to him, thinking 'what does he know' I look gooood.  Funny how we can be blinded by our creations.  I, like Roobeedoo, have items that I have made that I wouldn't buy, not in a pink fit. Wrong size, wrong fit. So I decided to see if my sister would like the skirt.  She tried it on and it looks so so great on her.  Much  much better than on me. So now it belongs to her.  I'm still calling it a sewing success though!
Gratuitous child picture: Elliot's chicken

Still in the old

I've just spotted on the Liberty website the new designs for Autumn Winter 2012.  Yeah!  Can't wait to have a good look at them and plan some purchases when the fabric makes it to Australia.  For now though I'm still in the old the current season, Spring Summer, even though it is Winter here.
My recent purchase is Dr Tulloch from the SS12 Digital Collection.
From the Liberty site: "This digital print was created from a watercolour painting of a chaotic bookcase in the writing room tucked away in the gardens of Glencot House in Somerset. The books were thrown together as if in a textured pile creating an abstract pattern."
This weekend I plan to make another Emily dress, but longer this time (as I have sensibly bought enough fabric) and with a collar!  The colours are even better than in this photo.

In other sewing news, inspired by Kitchen Table Sewing and her sock monkey link, I also pulled apart a gorgeous pair of socks that I never wear and attempted to make a sock monkey!  He is pretty dodgey and lo fi and I can't decide what to do with the little monkey now that I've made him.  Does he need a smile and nostrils, does he need a little outfit....?  So, he just sits on top of my sewing machine until I can decide what to do with him and who I can give him too as he is pretty fragile.  Luckily he can't escape even if he wanted to because the stuffing in his legs and arms is so uneven that it makes walking or swinging (unless with one arm) impossible!   

stripes and tartan

Marc by Marc Jacobs jacket, handmade top from the lady at the local cafe
It is no secret that I love stripes.  I wear stripes, my boys wear stripes. Stripes, stripes everywhere.  Can't get enough stripes.  When I'm not in Liberty, I'm in stripes. In fact often I'm in stripes plus liberty. Stripes are the new black. My latest dressing obsession has been to add tartan to the stripes.  I have been waiting for the weather to become ugly enough to really wear this combination and yes, it has. Love both of these looks with my skinny jeans and blue boots.  Unfortunately neither of these looks have anything handmade (by me) so might need to make something in tartan this winter!

Current favourite: stripes and tartan
Petit Bateau jumper and Claudie Pierlot scarf
In sewing machine news:  apparently it was a user error regarding the button holes. Mmmm.  How embarrassment! Of course I don't believe it!  I will be going down to the shop to pick up Mr Pfaff and find out what went wrong, but not today.  To be honest, I'm enjoying the machine being away so it doesn't tempt me with some crazy speed sewing.  I bought some new fabric during the week and I want to cut it out calmly and I have borrowed a Japanese sewing book from a friend that has the best sailor dress in it which I really want to trace. Unfortunately I also have 3 weeks of French homework to catch up on so having it here would only be a evil temptation!

The Grim Reaper of Rubber

Last week I had to get a new tyre on our little car as we found that it had been slashed.. more like a pinhole on the side of the tyre, but slashed sounds more dramatic.   Well, most excitement (!?) here as I found out today that this was indeed the work of the Notorious Narrabundah Tyre Slasher.
The 'Grim Reaper of Rubber' even made the paper this week:

It's not rocket science

26 May 2012
I made this blouse in MMM12 (deep in my MMM12 panic sewing) and have worn it with my shorts a few times since. I really love this casual autumn look, but it's an outfit that is for weekends. I have quite different requirements for work and casual and really casual outfits.  I've noticed now that I sew most of my blouses, I've been able to fit them into at least 2 of those categories (and let's face it I rarely wear super casual - I'm more likely to wear my pjs!).  I really like this blouse 'hanging out', the way it shows off the fabric, but this morning, I tried it with my work trousers and tucked the blouse in to create a more work 'appropriate' look. I immediately begged the reluctant photographer to take a picture of me so I could compare the looks - "isn't me made may over!!!! he replied"   "Yes, but... just one photo!"You know it's not rocket science, but isn't it always great when you work out another way to wear something you've sewn. Hooray, another outfit!

I got a new laptop baby

I've been singing this old song by Custard (inserting apartment for laptop) all weekend!!  
You see, my old laptop was particularly temperamental.  It could have been all the sewing dust it digested sitting next to my overlocker all day long, but whatever it was, it would heat up in a frenzy and shut down all the time.  I mean ALL the time.  So on the weekend, we went out and bought a brand new super thin one, that is just calling  to be taken out and about rather than fixed to the one dusty spot.
Completely stealing  inspired  by the crab and bee envelope sleeve I decided to make my own little laptop sleeve.  (I did ask if I could 'borrow' the idea! BTW). What on earth will I do when I don't have anymore of this Liberty Kingley Cord left or this chambray? Everything I make seems to use it. Just like Crab I put batting in it but I used hat elastic and a little button I found for the closure rather than a snap.    I also made a little drawstring bag of the other Liberty cord I had, this is the last of this print in the stash, to put in my little mouse, cords etc in if I was travelling.  I don't think mine is as nearly as well made as Crabs but I'm happy with it nonetheless and can't wait to road test it.
So what has happened to the old laptop?  Well it's had a good clean out in more ways than one.  It's been wiped, dusted, vacuumed and has everything removed from it and has had linux installed.  I wonder how it will behave now! The plan is to hide it away until the boys beg to watch the lego site so they don't use mine. I wonder how long it will stay hidden for!
UntitledUntitledIn sadder news, I think it's time I had the button hole functions on my little PFAFF Hobby 1142 checked out, so off to the doctor tomorrow.  Let's hope it will be a quick visit!

The cord skirt

cord skirtBeFunky

After spending the first two days of the long weekend on smaller projects, I decided it was time to connect with the cord skirt that has been sitting in the pile for quite some time.
Monday of a long weekend and everything was perfect for sewing.  It had become progressively overcast and cold - and Oliver was on a play date and Elliot had a cough that just won't stop so he was relaxing on the couch.  So I had a few free hours up my sleeve.
The pattern is E from 'My Favourite Handmade Style' and I'm pretty happy with the skirt overall.  It is a bit big which is why the buttons aren't sitting exactly right AND my machine decided that it didn't know how to do button holes so I had to do them a really dodgey way. Nevertheless I was excited with the finished product to do a little photo shoot, complete with cord hat. You can tell Ben isn't that enthusiastic..I mean if he was a real photographer he would have removed the blue ball from the background!!
BTW, the shoes Ralph Lauren and I haven't really had anything to wear them with but I will definitely be wearing this to work tomorrow, although perhaps with some better matching stockings!
This morning I also quickly knocked up a little tissue holder made out of Liberty scraps for a friend at work who is off on holidays on Thursday.  


story book bonnet

et voila - another present.  This time for a soon to arrive baby.  This pattern is so great.  I've made it a few times.  The pattern is by Alicia Paulson and you can find the pattern here:
The last time I made it Ben was obsessed about the ribbon at the neck and how much of a choking hazard it was.  I tried all sorts of things that would pass his safety test, but in the end I just cut the ribbons really short because nothing would pass the test.  Hardly satisfactory but there you go.  The mum sent me a text the other day to say how cute the bonnet is on and what a great fit, but that the ribbons are too short!!  So this time I'm ignoring all calls for safety and leaving them the length instructed in the pattern.
Next stop: my cord skirt!

robot bag

Untitled I'm churning through the handmade gifts this weekend and today I finished within minutes this little robot bag for    2 year old birthday.  I did the old thing and bought him a book but thought I'd 'wrap' it in a home made bag.  You can never have too many draw string bags. Do you think people actually like or appreciate a bit of homemade-ness?

Roxy Longsocks

UntitledToday, I decided to dig out the Roxy Long Socks pattern kit that I had bought quite some time ago from The Red Thread.  I love the pattern kits from The Red Thread and a while ago I made a few ooshka boys (or supermans as the boys like to call them).  It was just so great to see something like that for little boys.  Oliver loves his and uses it as one of his pillows every night.
I have a host of little boys who I should be making for - or even better, I have a skirt and blouse that I want to do over this long weekend for myself, but for some reason, I decided to go for something girly.
A doll!  A doll!
I didn't even have anyone in mind when I started to make her, but now I think it will be for a little soon to be one year old who's birthday is in July.  That is if Elliot will give her back and she doesn't fall apart from the 'love' he is giving her. Now apart from a short foray into the supermen, I'm not a soft toy person.  I can never seem to close the openings in a very neat way and everything is always a bit lopsided.  This long legged lady is no different.  It is a bit lo-fi and her arms aren't quite aligned, but her little scarf hides all her flaws and whose perfect in real life anyway!  She does have a lovely little liberty dress on so everything is good.


a few things on a blue day

The weather here is atrocious today.  It's freezing cold, sleeting on and off, with the wind blowing trees down all over. Not at all what I wanted for my day off when I had to be out and about, including driving around on one of those little pretend tyres to the tyre place because the tyre on our car was flat as a tack.  Great! To cheer myself up a bit I decided to apply 'blue denim' to my nails - a colour I bought on a whim last year but have never worn.
The wintery weather has also made me turn to thinking of making warm things.  I've got my eyes on the skirt below as my next project from 'My Favourite Handmade Style' out of some corduroy I bought the other week.  I love how they have accessorised it with jeans! In fact I love how you can barely even see what the skirt is like from the picture!
I've also been thinking about these baby blankets seen on the purlbee   They remind me so much of the hand towels my Grandmother used to crochet.  I've never done crochet but these seem almost do-able and I'm sure I know some babies on the way (or can find some) who need one of these.. especially in Nani IRO flannel. 
But back to work tomorrow after a week of swiss cheese attendance due to the chicken pox and then a full week off last week to look after Ben.  

lego piano bag

Oliver starts music lessons on Wednesday where, as part of the lessons he learns to play piano.  There are 8 pianos set up in a room with 8 six year old and apparently they sing and play percussion and piano!!?!We are all pretty excited about the start of these lessons (partly because they are right next to my favourite fabric shop!), although I am partly fearful of the additional reason to nag that may come about from this. I remember vividly my own piano teacher saying to me.. 'You don't practise do you Kirsty?' and it was clear that neither her nor I expected the relationship to last long.  And it didn't.  I was probably all of seven. I have tried a number of instruments in my life but never really succeeded at any of them.  Ben however is good on the piano so I am hoping that he may have passed this on.

With the lessons, comes a book and therefore an excuse to make a simple bag to keep the book in.  I offered to take Oliver to the fabric shop to buy some new fabric (of course I wouldn't have bought any fabric for myself) but as he is obsessed with lego, he wanted to use this fabric that I had left in the stash from his lego party last year: Push pin by Koko.  Have you ever seen a cuter selvedge?  So, voila, a very basic book bag.

50's ladder dress

simplicity 2615

 On Friday, I received a little parcel from Emily and so of course, this was going to be my next item to sew.  A lovely dress with kimono sleeves and a nice A line shape, pockets and no zipper!  I promised myself I was going to take it rushing and racing to finish it in record time.  No panic sewing. Nice and easy..
Friday afternoon, I popped into the fabric store to find some fabric.  I had something in mind, but as soon as I saw the Liberty Howells Ladders (from the Liberty Art Fabrics Spring Summer 2012 Archive collection) I changed my mind. The pattern said I needed 2 1/2 yards, so of course I only bought 1.8m.  ????  Anyway, I'm pretty short so I thought it would do!  It does, but I did think at times that it could have been longer!

The fabric history, as always, from the Liberty website: Howells Ladders is a print chosen by Michael Howells from the archives, it was designed in the 1950s and is based on a print impression from Liberty's Merton Abbey Printworks.  It has these wonderful orange and yellow ladders and I thought the dress would look great with a little yellow or orange belt.  The dress is probably a bit short to wear with a belt for work (thanks to my under purchase of fabric), but for a different occassion it will be great.  (Will need to buy a belt!).  It might be just me but the dress has a bit of a 50s style about it too, so I think the fabric works.
And so, with the sewing, I did take it slowly.  Sort of.  It's a pretty easy pattern so I finished it last night after basically a day on and off of sewing interlaced with soccer, music, trying to be a better mum, cooking and looking after Ben (though he is much improved- yeah!).  It's true that by the time I got to the hemming, I was willing it finished.  What is that about?  I should have left it for the next day and enjoyed it!  But no.  MUST - FINISH - TONIGHT!

I also decided that I probably look a bit better with something around my neck - so with what tiny little bit of fabric I had left, I made a little triangular scarf, which, while it doesn't look much in the photo is super cute! Also, I dug out some old orange shoes I bought about 15 years ago or more which never get a run, but might with my new dress.

Just one other thing:  the pattern.  I'm so used to sewing from Japanese pattern books that have no instructions that I can understand and therefore I basically make up the steps, that it is a strange experience to sew from something with 25 steps.  I became so dependent on them that I needed more: why don't they tell me when I'm supposed to overlock the seams!

A parcel from Washington DC

A few weeks ago, the lovely Emily from Sew Many Happies wore for MMM12 a lovely dress which she said was her favourite: pockets, kimono sleeves and no zipper!  That sounds like my sort of dress, so I commented that I would have to hunt down this pattern.  A day or so later Emily emailed me to say that she had a spare and would I like it?  You bet!!  So today, just in time for some calm, non panic sewing post MMM12, it arrived in the mail along with a gorgeous Washington DC postcard.  THANK YOU Emily, I can't wait to get to the fabric shop to buy some fabric for it. I've had something in mind, so I hope it's still there! This package has also left me singing one of my favourite songs, Washington DC by the Magnetic Fields.  I would have put the Youtube video up but it was blocked by EMI for copyright reasons in Australia.  Boo!
Here are the lyrics if you know the song and want to sing along with me:
Washington DC (The Magnetic Fields)
W a-s-h i-n-g t-o-n, baby D.C.!
W a-s-h i-n-g t-o-n, baby D.C.!
Washington, D.C.
It's paradise to me
It's not because it is the grand old seat
Of precious freedom and democracy
No, no, no
It's not the greenery turning gold in fall
The scenery circling them all
It's just that's where my baby lives
That's all.
Washington D.C.!
It's the greatest place to be
It's not the cherries everywhere in bloom
It's not the way they put folks on the moon
No, no, no
It's not the spectacles and pagaent tree
The thousand things you've got to see
It's just that's where my baby waits for me
W a-s-h i-n-g t-o-n, baby D.C.!
W a-s-h i-n-g t-o-n, baby D.C.!
Washington, D.C.!
It fits me to a T
It's not the people doing something real
It's not the way the springtime makes you feel
No, no, no
It ain't no famous name on a golden plaque
That keeps me that makes me ride on railroad track
It's my baby's kiss that keeps me coming back
It's my baby's kiss that keeps me coming back