Monday, June 29, 2009

Passion and Sewing

(and the Life in Between)

I am passionate about my family; my hubby and my kids are the centre of my universe.

But I am also passionate abut sewing, crafting and creating.

I wonder what I did in those 20 odd years when I virtually gave up my art and my sewing. Now I can't sit in front of the telly, ride as a passenger in a car, (even be a guest at a dinner party if I had my way) without doing something- crocheting, drafting a pattern, cutting out...My hubby loves to plonk on the couch and relax watching mindless telly but I have to be very tired before I find that at all appealling!

But one of the envies in my life is that some people can earn a living by doing what they are passionate about, whether it be artistic or not. Can you imagine doing something that you absolutely love as much as you want to and knowing that it is creating an income? Would you get tired of it? Would it become mundane? At times I guess.

But as a stay at home mum, I can sew or craft as much as like, domestic duties and family needs aside. I earn a little money from it here and there but not enough to pay for even my fabric addiction. I do lose some of the joy in a project when there are "strings" - made to this requirement, made by this day etc- and I have no interest in making the same object over and over. So maybe I would lose some of the happiness that I get from sewing if it became "work".

I am a home body. Love pyjama days; love not having to make myself presentable or pack a suitcase. But then some days I get really bogged down with the mandanities of a domestic life. How much washing can 3 children and 1 husband make? Heck, is it time to make another family dinner already? Why can't any other person in this house put the toilet roll in the recycling? But then I can see my toddler pulling up her tee for her daddy to give her tummy another raspberry, I notice that my 4 year old sits cross legged on the toilet to do a poo and I get to explain what a "centrefold" is to my near 6 year old son. Just magic!...moments that I wouldn't trade.

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things. ~Robert Brault

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Love-Hate Relationship

Me and Studio Tantrum Redondo

This is the third Redondo that I have made. This pattern nearly got the best of me 1st time round. Sewing together those spirals drove me bonkers- and how many times did I have to resew them? Relieved I then did a rolled hem, only to discover that you have to finesse that technique too or you don't catch the hem at the point between 2 flounces.

Number 2 was a vast improvement.

And here is number 3- I even managed to do a perfect hem the 1st time round. Now if I hadn't cut one of the spirals out back to front, it could be classed as pretty darn successful.

Redondo June 2009 001

Redondo June 2009 010

Redondo June 2009 008

The darker blue and green flounce was meant to be the same fabric as the wasitband (an aqua paisley) but I didn't have enough material to recut the backward spiral.
One of the great joys of crafting for me is fabric choices. I spend a lot of time swapping fabrics back and forth until I am happy with the combination. I love that part of it and I (humbly) think that I am quite good at it. I don't like flounce anywhere near as much as I preferred my 1st fabric choice. But s*%t happens...expecially when I am sewing Redondos apparently!

Redondo June 2009 012

But look- my first garment labelled with my new labels. Cool!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pikelets, Pancakes and Scones

The best ever recipes (because I say so!)

I love having a great recipe for something so that I need look no further. It is nice to know you have a tried and tested recipe that you can rely on. I have secured recipes for these that I think are the best (you may disagree- everyone is entitled to their own opinion...even it if it the wrong one; ha ha!)

So I offer to you-


3 cups of self raising flour
3 tablespoons castor sugar (I use a little less)
80 grams butter
1 cup buttermilk

Oven- preheated to 220 degrees.

Rub butter into flour.
Stir in sugar.
Add buttermilk and mix minimally.
Roll out lightly and cut; baste with milk and cook 10-15 minutes.

(What is great about these is that they are yummy the next day. They are a denser scone and stay moist. Oh, and the raw mix tastes yummy too!)


1 cup self raising flour
pinch salt
2 tablespoons castor sugar (again I use a little less)
1/4 teaspoon bicarb soda
1/2 cup milk mixed with 1 teaspoon vinegar
1 dessertspoon melted butter
1 egg

Nb I often use about 2/3 white SRF and 1/3 wholemeal. It sucks up a bit more milk so add more as needed.

Sift flour, salt and bicarb.
Add sugar, egg and milk.
Beat with electric beater for 1 minute.
Increase speed for 2nd minute.
Fold in melted butter,
Cook in hot, greased pan. (I melt the butter in the frypan which means it is pregreased)

(These don't make a lot so if you are feeding hungry kids, double the recipe. While it may seem a pain to break out a beater for pikelets, it is well worth it. Oh, and the raw mixture? Yum!)


2 cups plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup castor sugar (again cut some out if you want to)
1 egg
1 and 1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup buttermilk
75 gram melted butter

Dry ingredients into a large bowl.
Add wet ingredients and whisk till smooth.

(You will get a feel for how much this makes but I often double the recipe on Sunday morning for 2 adults, 2 kids and a toddler and then maybe Violet our Staffie might get some too. And you guessed it...yummy batter)

My hubby and I did a tour of Europe in an old Combie in 2001. The Aussie dollar was hideous back then and we had a pretty lean budget (meat? what's that?) Lunch was pretty much a baguette or sandwich with cheese of varying quality, maybe ham of varying quality and mayonnaise of varying quality. Our instant coffee was of uniformly bad quality (amazing what you can pick up at an Aldi. Even more amazing what you can put up with at the time. I'd probably implode if I had to drink that now)
But our breakkies were often fried dough. Too hard to cook pancakes on our little gas stove in the combi so we'd throw the whole mixture in, stir it around and chop it up into small pieces of dough. Served on a plastic plate, eaten with a plastic fork, accompanied by a really bad cup of coffee and enjoying the view from our parked Combi - a Norwegian glacier, a Swiss mountain,
a street in Barcelona... you get the idea. Wonderful times.
We'd joke that our poor kids would have to live through the fried dough tradition. A couple of months ago, I served up our Sunday pancakes as fried dough and what do you know! The kids loved it! (And much easier than cooking individual pancakes for 5)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Words of Wisdom

From Dr Seuss:

"Be who you are and say what you feel,
Because those who mind don't matter
And those who matter don't mind"

I worry sometimes that Dr Seuss books can be harsh and a bit cruel. How badly was Horton treated before he was recognised as a good guy? It breaks my heart; how do my kids feel?
But my kids love, love, love the books.
And certainly some like "The Lorax" leave no doubt about the message they are sending.
They seem to be going the distance so they must ultimately be a good thing!
Then again bubble skirts are back in fashion too and they are still a mistake!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Top Ten Things... do when you are laid up flat on your (bad) back in bed for nearly 4 days!

What started as a tweak picking up my toddler daughter one day turned into fully fledged agony the next day. I am sure the garden gnomes looking in our windows would have been doubled over with tears in their eyes from laughing so hard watching me try to get off the couch for that 20 minutes. But the tears in my eyes weren't from laughing. I was unable to stand or even crawl to get to a phone and was panicking that no one would get to pick up my son from school.

So working hubby became house hubby for ensuing days and I had an enforced stay in bed.

So what are the top 10 things to do when you are confined to bed in a relatively immobile position?

1 Stare at the ceiling

Novelty of this wore off after about 2 minutes. Not on the "highly recommended" list...

2 Watch the daily soapies

I can honestly say that I didn't succumb to Days or Dr Phil or the mid avo cooking shows. I did watch "Days of our Lives" for about 1/2 hour just to confirm that the 18 year old actresses are still dressing and made up like 35 year olds. Oh, and that nothing has happened in the last 10 years since I have watched an episode. And I watched "Bold and the Beautiful" just long enough to see if Ridge is still engaged to, married to or divorcing Brooke. Yep! Oh, and look at that! He's dying his hair now.

3 Read a book start to finish

Since having kids, reading has gone onto the luxury list (and, I have to be honest, has pretty much become stolen moments on the loo when the kids haven't noticed that I've disappeared for 5 minutes) I borrowed "The Kite Runner" (by Khaled Hosseini) a year ago from a friend and have managed to avoid reading it up until now. When I do get a chance to read, I stick to lightweight stuff or thrillers and I knew that this was going to be on the heavy side.

But I read it. A whole book in a couple of days. Can't remember the last time that I had that luxury.

Brilliant, brilliant book. But sad. Consider yourself warned.

4 Resist the temptation of telemarketing

Steam mops, steamer ovens, mineral 6 in 1 makeup (with the host unfortunately a New Zealander who seemed to be selling "Sex in 1"), the latest ultimate abdominal exerciser, funeral plans, the best chammy in the world.

My husband should consider himself blessed that he left me within reach of a phone but not within reach of my credit card or else I would be awaiting the delivery of a few (useless, shove-in-the-corner-to-gather-dust-until-I-sell-on-ebay) things right about now!

5 Crochet myself a hat

I have had this pattern kicking around for a while and really don't know what to think. The cover picture on the pattern made me think of an elegant cloche, vintage type of hat but in reality it is just an elegant type of beanie. Jury is still out on whether I like it or not. But I'll probably wear it- wherever I would wear a beanie.

Crochet June 019

Brianna Mewborn Flip-Top Beanie (OK so it is called a beanie...maybe I should have know that it would be a beanie) as modelled by 5 year old dear son. My boys like it so maybe they can wear it if I don't.

6 Direct the household

I couldn't relax even though there was nothing I could do to help around the house. Hubby works long hours and I am primary carer so he needed (wanted is probably more accurate) a lot of advice, probably because I was there to give it. He copes just fine when I am not around. But why did I feel guilty that I was incapacitated and had to delegate everything.

PS Hubby didn't make me feel guilty. Just a typical mum's mentality I think.

7 Finish that skirt

I started crocheting this skirt for myself at Easter. Had a few setbacks when I started and lost a bit of momentum so it has been my here and there project. But I finally finished it. Yay!

Crochet June 009
Violet Beauregard skirt from Debbie Stoller's The Happy Hooker (Stitch'n'Bitch)
Note to self- chenille is a pain-in-the-you-know-where to crochet with, especially if you have call to undo it...

Crochet June 013
Detail of hem

Crochet June 018
Detail of flowers on ties

8 Rest

Hard to do. Don't like doing nothing.

9 Continue caffeine intake

I am sure that the worse thing that I could do when I am suffering is add caffeine withdrawal to my list of woes so luckily hubby kept me plied with coffee.

10 Fill in 20 minutes by deciding to have a wee

2 positions of comfort are standing straight or lying flat; nothing in between. So getting out of bed, walking to the toilet, sitting, standing back up (that one there was the real challenge; thanking the bathroom goddess for those towel rails within reach), getting back to bed and getting back into bed...I made damn sure my bladder was full before I went!

And then I made a vow to remember to appreciate my good health once I had it back
(even as I succumbed to a head cold and was in agony every time I sneezed)

But the worse thing? Even though I am more mobile now my back doesn't like me sitting so I am not sure when I will get back to the sewing machine.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Winter Sewing

Oliver and S Bedtime Story PJs and a Miss Buttons doll

About the only clothes that my daughter needs for this winter are piggy piggy jam jams so I upcycled a vintage flannelette sheet to make up the kimono style PJs from Oliver and S.

Oliver and S kimono PJs

Simple to put together and I love kimono style clothing. I'd like to make a few pairs of these in a summer version too.

Oliver and S kimono PJs 002

However my daughter refused to even try them on so I thought that I'd make a matching doll to encourage her.

Miss Buttons doll 011

I adapted the Sew Your Own Miss Buttons pattern to give her matching PJs and little terry bed socks.

But the evil mummy in me couldn't resist leaving her trouserless. We are currently fighting a battle with Mae every sleep time because she takes her leggings off and her nappy and we are sick of washing wee'd on sheets. She is currently going to sleep wearing a backward nappy with masking tape over the tabs to keep her from removing them.

Miss Buttons doll 016

They should find a lot to talk about.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Yay for me.

I won a competition!

Thanks to the gorgeous Kat!

I won her blog competition and so I have won some jewellery. Woohoo! Happy dance! Will keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Robot Rumble

For my son's 6th birthday party

After lengthy discussions about how stressed mummy would get having to construct a scene from Transformers for a birthday cake, my son conceded that it might perhaps be a little tough (next year, babe!) and is now fired up for a robot party. (Mummy is also fired up. A robot cake should be a breeze compared to a 3D Transformer cake)

So after a lot of tweaking, printing, cutting and pasting, my boys are ready to go out into the big wide world. I am trying to shake off visions of Cybermen in the latest Dr Who (though with them comes vision of David Tennant so it's not all bad....) but these are decidedly nice tin men.

6th birthday invites
My boys.

6th birthday invites

Party details are under the tummy flap...I know I have a tummy flap but do robots even have tummies?

6th birthday invites

Basically I enjoy the challenge of making the invites and decorating the cakes but by the 3rd time round each year I am over it. I guess it comes back to the whole "home made" thing. I still prefer that to ripping invites off a mass produced pad.

Now back to domestic responsibilities...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Beating the Winter blues sewing for summer

It is cold and rainy here with 2 out of 3 sick kidlets so I decided a great day to just sew as hubby is around to take on his share of babysitting. I know that we are heading INTO winter but the reality is that Miss Maisy Mae has more than enough clothes to get her through the cold months.

So I made a summer dress instead!

Pattern was ZozoBugBaby Little Bow Chic Dress; superstraightforward and quick to put together in spite of the attempts of my overlocker to sabotage the sewing process (To be fair, it may be my fault in that I have chomped too many pins and a new blade may be in order so maybe we can take half the blame each)

Little Bow Chic dress 002 (Small)

Little Bow Chic dress 004 (Small)

Body is a vintage pillowcase fabric and frill is Farmer's Market Pomegranite Seeds.

Little Bow Chic dress 017 (Small)

Little Bow Chic dress 019 (Small)

The model only gets out of bed for copious amounts of chocolate!

Back to more practical crafting, like crocheting beanies for my boys!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Bag Lady

Another one...Ali Foster Fold Over Clutch

This is a really simple bag but I loved the concept. Body fabric is a remnant of heavy vintage polished cotton that I love. Lining and strap is a Japanese lightweight open weave linen with a matroyshka doll print...who doesn't love a Matroyshka doll print?

In spite of its simplicity (or perhaps because of it) I still managed to muck it up. I put the strap on back to front so that the snap was facing the wrong way. So I folded it under and sewed the edges down. It isn't noticeable; it just shortens the effective body of the bag by a couple of centimetres.

I left off the wrist strap.

Fold Over Clutch 002 (Small)

Fold Over Clutch 003 (Small)

Fold Over Clutch 005 (Small)

I don't have much of a life to support my current bag sewing splurge; I can see this getting used to carry around my small crochet projects.

On the other hand, I am aiming to "live my inner style" so I should make an effort to use them!

Time to make some clothes now methinks!

Thanks for looking.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

For little old me!

All mine..for once!

I haven't sewn for myself for a long time and have only just started buying patterns and fabric all for me! It is very different buying a metre of fabric here and there for little clothes versus enough to make something for mummy-sized! I have been buying a few Favourite Things skirt patterns and a few Indygo Junction patterns have been sneaking into the stash too.

I looked at my wardrobe a few months ago in despair: lots of clothing that fit pre-children; clothes from my Uni days (a looooong time ago now!); and too many shapeless, comfy clothes. So I made myself a promise. Each time I made myself something that I loved, 2 things in my wardrobe that I didn't like, that didn't fit or that I didn't wear would go to charity or otherwise.
So far, so good. It is a slow process but cleansing.

I told someone that other day that I had my own style- but that it was currently on the inside; not on the outside (at the time I was probably wearing tracky daks and a shapeless jumper) But I envisage myself wearing clothes that are completely different to what I actually wear- vintage, unique, maybe even quirky. That was how I dressed at Uni but I haven't had the guts to do it since I started work as a professional then as a pregnant person and now as a school mum. Maybe it is time to "reclaim myself"!

Anyhow, I digress.

This is a Favourite Things Hip Skirt- Circle Skirt. I have made it before. It is easy, quick to sew up and comfortable. Recommended pattern! Fabric is Tina Givens for Westminster- Cabbage Roses- which I picked up mega-cheap from a clearance sale on etsy.

Favourite Things Circle skirt 004

Favourite Things Circle skirt 005

I keep thinking that when I lose those extra kilograms, I will start to dress how I really want to. Can't keep doing that; life is rushing by and those kilos don't appear to be in a hurry to go anywhere. So if I can sew myself some comfortable clothes that I adore, I think that I will be happy! And I kinda adore this.

I've Been Published...

...well, sort of!

I have been wanting to get some labels made for my sale items for a while now and recently the Aussie dollar crawled its way back up to respectability so I did it! Woohoo!

I went down the conservative route- classic black and white. I make clothes, bags, crocheted items; I use a large range of colours. So I thought that this would be the most useful for me.

Little Boozle labels
Great service from webquilter. Impressed with the whole shebang!
"Little Boozle" comes from my childhood. About the time that I started sewing again nearly 2 years ago, my dear nan became sick with a terminal illness. In reminiscing about my times with her, I remembered her nickname for me when I was a little girl. No one in the family had thought about it for years and it seemed perfect, especially as a lot of the creative influence in my young life was from both of my nans. Miss you Nan.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Productive Lush

Sewing at Sewjourn

In spite of the consumption of excesses of caffeine, moderate alcohol courtesy of some margaritas, and lots of sugar, we did actually get some sewing and crafting done!

I think I got more sewn in 1 and 1/2 days at Sewjourn than I have managed in that time frame for a very loooooong time.

So here are my offerings:

Portabello Pixie gathered market bag
Bags- Sewjourn weekend- June 2009 014 (Small)
Towards my mother's late Ma's Day present
Quick to sew up but didn't love the pattern
Keyka Lou Pixie bag
Bags- Sewjourn weekend- June 2009 008 (Small)
Quilting cotton and a vintage pillowslip fabric for the main body
The flap looks lopsided in the photo; not sure why
Melly and Me Latte bag
Bags- Sewjourn weekend- June 2009 018 (Small)
Cute handbag
Lots of fun making this!
More photos on flickr.
I also came home with some "care packages"- gorgeous Crafty Mamas shop fabrics and patterns and 2 garments from the talented Sara from "Willow and Moo"
Lucky for my daughter that they didn't fit me. Sigh. I will have to live vicariously through her.
Willow and Moo June 2009
Farbenmix Jules
Willow and Moo Jne 2009
Sara hand dyes and sews these up. I love them. They are just such happy clothes!
Add into the mix some op shopping, bakery goods, books, yarn and other bits and pieces and I can say that our car ride home was chockers...but I was one satisfied productive lush!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Crafty Mamas' Heaven on Earth

Sewjourn Retreat weekend- Lancefield, Victoria

Sewjourn weekend 025

I have just returned from a 4 day weekend travelling to Victoria to meet up in real life with some online friends from Crafty Mamas.

And boy, it was pretty darn close to perfect. I travelled over from Adelaide with Tracy
and the time just flew by. By the time we had returned, we knew each other pretty well. She is a passionate soul and has a selfless, supportive spirit. Plus she loves op shops. And she's toilet trained. So really a perfect travel companion! She is also much more passive than me so tempered my road rage quite well!

We spent our first day travelling then spending time in Bendigo then spent the weekend at Sewjourn in Lancefield, Victoria with 7 other ladies and a couple of other girls who dropped by. The place is beautifully set up for fun and crafting.

Sewjourn weekend 040

My trip? It had a bit of everything (and a lot of a few things like craft talk, laughter and home baked cookies!)...

Road trip, country bakeries, op shops, friendly people, Thai food, fuel efficient car, brass bed, vintage shops, Bendigo Woollen Mill, coffee, child-free sewing, laughter, coffee, sleep deprivation, the chemical characteristics of washing powders, lots of home cooked cakes and slices, margaritas, tutorials, bookshops, pub food, coffee and a heck of a lot of fun!

The Retreaters were Tracy, Peta, Sara, Caroline, Tracey, Cinna, Suzanne and our mascot, Suzanne's baby Indigo.

And I think what I really appreciated was the joy of physically sharing my passion for creating and sewing. Not one of my close friends have an interest in sewing and craft...which was why I found myself on-line with these people in the 1st place. Their support, generosity and enthusiasm really helps me move forward with increasing confidence. But to sit down, share a cuppa, a chat and a sewing session was just bliss.

Thank you girls for such an awesome weekend. Here's to the next!

Sewjourn weekend 032