Saturday, 31 December 2016

Christmas away and a look back on my 2016

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and apologies for neglecting all my readers for the past few weeks.

As I have mentioned before, I don't like to announce to the world before I go away on Holidays, and a few days ago I returned home from a 10 day South Pacific Cruise on Carnival Legend.

Mum, just before we boarded

Overall the Decor on the Legend is rather Garish, but I found the food and some of the entertainment to be superior to P & O ships. Of course, the ship was decked out in Christmas Decorations too, and a few people even decorated their own cabin doors.

There was even this display of "Gingerbread" Houses made by the kitchen staff. They seem to be made out of whatever they could find in the kitchen, including things like crushed eggshells and nutrigrain.

Most days we would come back to our room to find cute towel animals on our bed. My favourite was the turtle.

This trip's visit to Mystery Island did not feature the beautiful clear water that I experienced back in May, due to recent storms and/or tides, so we did not get to see any fish while out swimming, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. We also enjoyed a Beer on the beach.

Mystery Island

Beer on the Beach on Mystery Island

This time my time spent on Lifou was spent snorkeling, instead of walking up to the chapel on the hill. I have never been able to snorkel successfully before, as swimming over corals, or going out past where I can touch the ground terrifies me. However, having my husband with me helped tremendously and I was able to swim around and see many different types of fish and coral, for about 2 hours. Unfortunately, my mother has been using spray sunscreen lately and loving it. But even 2 brand new cans of SPF 50 Banana boat sunscreen were not enough to protect my skin, and so my husband and I spent the rest of the cruise with quite severe sunburns. His mostly on his shoulders, and mine, well.... I'm not sure I've ever been sunburnt on the back of my thighs before....... It made sitting down for the next few days very difficult and painful.

Tender to Lifou

Approaching Lifou in the tender

Mare was the only port this cruise which I had not been to before. The side of the Island where the ship comes into was fairly underwhelming, but had a nice welcoming display by the locals as well as a few market stalls, where we bought my Husband a wooden carved Tiki head for Christmas, which he loved.

Island Welcome at Mare

However, when you pay the $19.99 (bit of a rip off) for the bus transfer to the other side of the island, you are greeted with the beautiful Yejele Beach. Lovely white sand and lots of sections of coral populated by a kaleidoscope of sea creatures, all protected by a barrier reef, made this a perfect beach for snorkeling, beach frolicking or just relaxing on the sand. Along the road are huts selling different food and drink items, and reminded me quite a bit of the Isle of Pines.

Yejele Beach on Mare

This time around I made sure I lathered on thick cream SPF 50 sunscreen. I really don't mind the greasy, heavy feel that some people complain about with some sunscreens, as I find those are the ones that work best. Just because sunscreens have the same SPF rating, does not mean they offer equal protection.

Mum and I on Yejele Beach, Mare 

Mum and I participated in a couple of Trivia sessions hosted on the ship, and we completely smashed the Country Music Trivia on Christmas Eve, beating out the second team by about 6 or 7 points (most of the trivia rounds were much closer) We won a bottle of French Sparkling wine for our efforts.

Cocktails during Trivia on Christmas Eve Morning

Then we treated ourselves to Sushi for Christmas Eve dinner. My husband and I shared the "Sushi Ship" which cost $22, and mum had 2 rolls (a California and a chicken Tempura at my recommendation) Mum said before this, that she didn't like sushi, but this place changed her mind.

Sushi Dinner for Christmas Eve

For Christmas Day, My husband and I wore our matching Christmas outfits, and I think he got more compliments from people than I did. I guess it's just a lot more unusual to see a man is custom made novelty print clothes.

We spent part of the day drinking cocktails up on the open deck, teaching Fransisco how to make origami cranes, as well as making other origami things.

Teaching Fransisco to make Origami Cranes

Fransisco's favourite thing to make was those scrunched pieces you can see on the bottom left side, which he called wombats........ Digested wombats.

Completed crane!

Christmas Day Origami!

Boxing day, the last full sea day of our cruise, Mum and I decided to go in search of the "Fishbowl" cocktail we had heard of. You can get a range of cocktails in the fishbowls, and we opted for the Caribbean Ice Tea (both being fans of Long Island Iced Teas) and then we had another during the last comedy show.

Boxing day Fish bowl Cocktails

Caribbean Iced Tea Fish bowl

All in all, it was a bit sad to depart the ship and head home to the real world where you have to cook your own meals and wash your own towels, but I was looking forward to seeing my kitties and sleeping in my own bed.

Although I have done quite a lot of interesting things this year, it has actually been a very hard year for me. Although I haven't mentioned this before on my blog, but I have actually suffered 4 miscarriages throughout this year, the most recent one happened while I was away on this cruise, which is why I didn't drink for the first half of the cruise. They have all been very early, most around 5-6 weeks, the most recent reached 8 weeks. I will be seeing a specialist in the new year to hopefully find out why this has been happening and correct it.

As such, I am very much looking forward to the New Year. Although my job as a Travel agent finished up in November, this led me to applying to University, which I will be starting in February, which I am really looking forward to. So 2016 can go die in a hole, bring on 2017!


Saturday, 10 December 2016

A quick Lil Poncho!

On a recent trip to Spotlight, I spied some of the new Mexican Poncho fabric in the remnants bin. It was a reasonable size, almost a meter, so I grabbed it. 

Mexican Poncho Fabric from Spotlight

Although I had other projects to work on, as soon as I got home, I hemmed both of the cut edges (leaving the selvedges as is) which then made me think it wouldn't take very long to sew in a quick neckline facing. I found a scrap of calico amongst my scraps, and cut out a rough shape, overlocked around the outside edge, then pinned and sewed it onto the center of the right side of my fabric.

Facing sewn on
The Inside of the neckline was then cut away, leaving a reasonable seam allowance, as the loose weave of the poncho fabric frays quite easily, and the curves clipped. I didn't clip as closely as I normally would, again because of the loose weave.

Neckline trimmed and clipped
I then turned the neckline to the inside and pressed it.

Turning the facing inside and pressing
You could leave it at this point, but I hate facings that creep out of your neckline, so I top stitched mine into place.

Top stitching the facing in place
I put it onto my mannequin for a quick look, and realised it was a bit shorter than I was hoping.

On the mannequin
But I still think it looked pretty cute on, just maybe not over this dress.

On Me!!!
I'm now thinking of adding some fringing to the bottom edges, but fringing can be pretty expensive, so I had a look, and discovered I could crochet my own looped fringing! Now to find some suitable thread!


Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Handmade leather wallet, using supplies from home

This year, I have had an increasing interest in leather, mostly from going to Winterfest, and deciding I really need to make myself some historically accurate footwear for next year. I have been lucky enough to pick up some cheap pieces of leather, some $2 pieces from a stall at Winterfest, as well as some from a local antiques/curiosities shop. Coming up to Christmas, I thought it would be a great idea to use some of this leather to make some handmade leather wallets for some of the men in my life.

I trawled through pinterest for patterns and ideas, and decided on this bi-fold wallet pdf pattern and tutorial  for my first attempt.

I traced around the pattern pieces with tailors chalk on the wrong side of the leather, which wasn't great, but not much else was going to show on the black, then simply cut out the pieces with my paper scissors. I was going to use my rotary cutter, but I couldn't find it, and the scissors did a pretty decent job any way

Although I know I have sand paper, I couldn't for the life of me find it anywhere, so I did an almost embarrassingly girly thing, and used an nail file to sand the rough edges instead. As I was making a few of these, I did end up buying a 50c piece of extra fine sandpaper from Bunnings the next time I was there.

Norfolk Island Honey and Beeswax soap

I don't have the money to be going an buying the proper gum stuff to burnish the edges of the leather, but I saw in the tutorial that I linked previously, that the person doing it was using saddle soap instead. Now I don't have any saddle soap either, but I had a look in my bathroom and found some soap from Norfolk Island that contains beeswax, so I figured, close enough! If you don't have any saddle soap or soap containing beeswax, just use the most moisturising/conditioning bar soap you have (I don't think liquid soap will work) you could also try leather wax either in a colour that matches your leather, or in clear, as these do seem to be available at a few of the large supermarkets and department stores in my town, usually for less than $10

burnished piece on top versus
raw cut piece on bottom

As for the tool to rub along the edge to help shape it, I just looked around my house until I found a utensil with a grooved wooden handle to run along the leather edge. I ended up using the threading hook from my spinning wheel, but I also have a few old school bottle openers and fondue forks with similar handles. If you don't have one, check out a local op-shop, you can probably pick one up for less than $1

I also decided to just machine stitch my wallets, instead of punching holes with an awl and hanstitching. really you could do it either way, although I would only recommend using a machine that can handle leather. I used my old Janome with a walking foot. I followed the construction order from the tutorial, and was pretty happy with the end result.

Finished Wallet

Inside of my handmade leather wallet

With my first attempt finished, I am hoping to also create another one for my husband, although he likes to have a coin section in his wallets. While I didnt find a free pattern with that feature that I liked, I found it easy enough to modify the first pattern I used, by drafting my own coin pouch section, based on the one from this wallet making video.

Anyone else been sewing with leather lately?


Monday, 28 November 2016

Christmas Kitty Dress and matching Bowling shirt

As part of one of my secret Santa gifts I received last year, I was lucky enough to get some of  this adorable Christmas Kitty fabric (it's called Cats and Ornaments on the selvedge) Which I swear I had not seen for sale at Spotlight prior (and you all know I look for anything with kitties on it) but after I received my gift, I did manage to find it at my local Spotlight, so I purchased a bit more so I would have enough for a dress, Hooray! It has sat in my stash all year, but now it is almost silly season which means it's time to sew all the Christmas dresses!

Spotlight Fabric and Simplicity 1459

I decided to use Simplicity 1459 for this dress, opting for the sleeveless version. I am making some design changes to it, by extending the button front all the way down, and using bias tape instead of armhole facings (which I find annoying). I am also grading it up slightly, shortening the bodice, using a basic gathered skirt instead of the pattern pieces and of course, adding pockets!

Once I had all the bodice pieces cut out (I used a plain red for the under collar and front facing to save kitty fabric) I began the construction. It goes together quite easily, much like any other pattern. Darts first, press, overlock, shoulder and side seams, press, collar pieces together, seams clipped, turned right way out, press. I top stitched along the outer edge of the collar to give it a clean finish, then stitched the collar along the neckline.

Partially sewed bodice
I went through my button stash and found heaps of possibilities, so I posted on instagram and Facebook, to see what my friends thought. I had a lot of votes for both the green ones and the red ones, but ended up deciding on the red ones on the left hand side, as there are 12, so enough to make it button all the way down the front. If I had used the green ones, they would have only gone partway down.

Button choices....

When it got time to cut out the skirt pieces, I measured what I had left and found that I had enough fabric to make the skirt from 3 widths of fabric (instead of my usual 2) However, as I was deliberating cutting it, my husband asks me "Can you save me some of that fabric?" I asked him what he wanted made from it, but he had no idea, and while I don't mind stashing fabric for him, I already have quite a few kitty fabrics in my wardrobe, and would rather use all the fabric in my dress than stash it away for innumerable years.

So instead, I measured my husband and ordered the Free Men's shirt pattern from Lekala. I had to make a few changes to the design, like shortening the sleeves, I also extended the back yoke, and cut the front pieces to have a yoke, as the panel of Christmas kitty fabric was only 26" long, and the shirt was 35" long. The back of the shirt, a panel of the front and the pocket have all been made with the christmas kitty fabric (and pretty much used up the whole width) with the rest being made from the same red cotton sheet I used for the facings and pockets in my dress.

I followed this blog post for instructions on how to sew the collar stand and collar, as that was the only part of the construction I didn't already know how to put together, and Lekala patterns are notorious for their crappy instructions. As I was finishing the collar, I decided to embroider a surprise message on the collar stand before I sewed it in.

After getting my husband's shirt done (all but the buttons and button holes) I turned my attention back to my own dress. I cut and overlocked all my pocket and skirt pieces, then sewed them together, gathered the top edge and sewed it to the bodice. The facings and armhole bindings were then sewn, and finally, the button holes and buttons.

After finishing the buttons, I tried the dress on to check the fit, and I loved it!

Still not hemmed though...


After it was hemmed, I paired it with a red belt and shoes and wore it out shopping with my mum. I felt pretty adorable wearing this, maybe because it was a slightly shorter skirt length than I usually wear.

And here is a shot of his shirt, with better day time lighting.

I will eventually get the buttons on my husbands shirt done, but it is still wearable (over a singlet) without them, so this actually makes it the first garment I have completed for him (not including ties) and he is looking forward to wearing matching outfits on Christmas day.

Does anyone else make matching outfits for their spouse?


Monday, 14 November 2016

40's style Swing trousers and another Kitty blouse

A few weeks ago, I found myself in need of more office appropriate clothing for a job interview. So I decided to make myself a quick pair of very wide leg, 40's style trousers. I used my graded up version of Vintage McCalls 9708, which I had previously used back in May, but which was now unfortunately too small for me, and a length of Navy Suiting fabric that I purchased from a fellow seamstress on Facebook.. I added an enormous extra 2 inches at the side of each pattern piece, flared the width of the legs as they went down, moved the center back edge upwards to allow more booty room, and increased the size of the darts. I cut the waistband to the size I needed, then gathered the top edge of the pants to ease in the extra fullness, I then used a side zip, and a button and loop on the waistband.

On my way to the job interview...... I didn't get the job

This were a very quick sew, and I had them done from initial thought, to finishing press, all in one evening. I love how they have turned out, and they are nice and loose fitting, so should still fit if I put on any more weight. I've already worn them several times to work and church. They look great with either of my pussy bow style blouses that I made from Butterick 5859, which is my favourite blouse pattern, I even went and made a 3rd version from the blue colour way of the Gertie polyester Kitty Print!

Front view

See how wide the legs are!

Back view

I have even had someone ask me at the shops, 2 days after they had seen me wearing them (people must notice me more than I realise) where I had got them from.
I still have some of this Navy Blue fabric left, so I think I might make a little cropped jacket to go with the pants, although, I don't think it will get much use until the weather cools down again next year (I really dislike summer...)

It is a little bit of a stretch, given how much I have altered the pattern, but I'm counting this towards my Vintage Pattern Pledge for 2016! Which puts me up to 7 of my 10 pledged makes. I have a few more on the go in my sewing room at the moment, so I might just make it!