Sewing passion reignited!

So we have a rental home, we are in it, our worldly possessions have arrived from their sea voyage and Althea has started back at school. It seems like life should be settling down, but I still don’t feel settled, probably because our house is a chaos of boxes (it is possible to have a good weekend, or unpack boxes, not both) which also makes it hard to establish any social life.

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But amidst the chaos and newness I have doggedly managed to unpack my sewing things and buy a sewing machine! It is a Juki HZL-600 and I’m loving it so far. I’ll do a full review when I’ve been able to put it through it’s paces. I am overlocker-less but will live with that for now.

I have also joined a really lovely knitting group who meet on a Sunday afternoon. I have to take Tessa as she’s fully breastfed and not on a reliable schedule yet. I do leave her for an hour to go lap swimming but occasionally she’ll grizzle for her Dad the entire time, so I wouldn’t risk leaving her for several hours.

I also have a new body size and shape to get used to after this third pregnancy. It seems like grading up and I are going to become firm friends. I have in the works my favourite skirt Kwik sew 3362 in grey denim, and the Sewaholic Gabriola skirt is this beautiful rayon challis print.

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I printed off and graded up the Sewaholic Belcarra blouse but I think I’ve missed my window for short sleeved tops (the top forecast temperature for the next ten days is 22 degrees C) so I think I’ll rest that for a while. I’m pretty keen to sew up my You Sew Girl! A line skirt but that will need to be graded too…

I’ve just got to temper my desire to sew with the frustrating reality of tiny, tiny snippets of me-time. Baby steps.

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New beginnings

So here we all are in the US of A, in lovely Seattle which is turning on a pretty nice summer for us. It’s been very pleasant going from winter to summer and a summer that tops out at 28 degrees C is much more my style than one that tops out at 43.

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There has been some truly stressful, horrible moments, missing our connection at LAX was a big one, and some truly blissful ones, most of which involve lake swimming and spray parks (why do we not have more of these in Australia?).

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Needless to say, the amount of ‘me time’ I have had in the last few months has been almost zero, and I can’t see that letting up for a good while yet. Though I have had a few hours of big kid free time the last two weekends which has really done wonders for my state of mind. In fact I’m having that time now! I just can’t blog or knit when trying to meet the needs of three kids – one baby, well the blogging seems to be possible.

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I started this little cotton cardigan for Tessa before we left and I would very much like to finish it before summer is over. She’s growing so fast and it would be such a pity for her to outgrow it before she can wear it! The pattern is Mini Chic by Katie White. I erroneously purchased this pattern twice, so am doing a little giveaway. If you would like a copy of this pattern please leave a comment on this blog. I’ll pick a comment by random number generator on Tuesday night, Seattle time. Good luck!

Stretch jeans, camisole tops and moving to Seattle!

What does the post-partum woman need? Stretch jeans that fit! I whipped up these super quick stretch denim pants (are they jeans without a fly or yoke? I can’t quite commit to the idea) using the StyleArc Linda stretch pant pattern that I knew already fit (picture is here and pattern review is here).. I had a denim-coloured stretch bengaline pair that I wore to death after Julian was born, so another pair after Tessa’s birth seemed like a good idea. This time I widened the leg, as I much prefer wide legs to skinny (anti-fashion, I know!), raised the back waist and lengthened the hem. I added two rectangular patch pockets to the back, which are useful, and serve to break up the back view.

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I wear them pretty much every day so they must be a success! (Let’s not dwell on the fact that there are not too many other choices in the closet right now). The denim is reasonably thick but has a good amount of stretch. Annoying it gets baggy after the first day of wear, but the pants are quite tight on the first day, so I wouldn’t take them in. I did discover while running alongside my two year old on a flying fox that elastic stretch pants are not really made for running, not that I do much of that right now.

Another immediate need in my post partum wardrobe was some camisoles for breastfeeding. I find that a cami pulled down and a top pulled up gives the kind of coverage I prefer for feeding in public.

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I have found it impossible to find breastfeeding camis that do not have foam bra cups in them (annoying when wearing a real bra underneath), that are suitable for a larger cup size, with a nice long length, and cotton. The best thing I have are these City Chic camis which are cotton-Lycra jersey, great long length, and I can pull the neckline down under my bust to feed. Sadly they now only sell them in vile polyester so I figured I would try making my own. I traced the pattern from an existing cami and used Fold over elastic (FOE) for the binding and straps. This is my first time using FOE and it was easy to use – I applied it with a simple zig-zag stitch.

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Unfortunately the first cami I made I cut out on the crosswise grain (I really am sleep deprived), and it’s too tight and the straps too short. The second one is a bit tight too, especially in this beefy jersey. I used 2 yards of FOE on each one, which was the full length I had. These are useful but I think I still need to make a few more tweaks until I have exactly the cami I want.

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Big news! Our family of five is relocating to a Seattle! Yup, just half a globe away from where we currently live in lovely Melbourne. The process of moving is taking up all my time and energy that isn’t being used on my tiny baby and two older kids, so this blog will probably have big gaps between posts for a while.

I’m not taking my sewing machine or overlocker, I’m not willing to risk them on 60Hz 110V power. My sister will have them. The sewing machine was my Mums so I have no more claim to it than my sisters. I have spent a lot servicing it over the years and am very sentimentally attached to my awesome Elna TSP. It’s a fabulous machine, but I had been thinking of upgrading, so now I’m being forced to. I’ve been thinking for a few years about what to get but am still undecided. Modern computerized machines are very different to what I’m used to.

Still, I’m very excited about the chance to buy a new sewing machine and about moving to Seattle in general. I hope that I will be able to connect in to the local sewing and knitting communities. The only Seattle sewing blogger I know of so far is Michelle of happilycaffienated. Anyone know of any other Seattle sewing or knitting bloggers, or sewing meet ups, retreats etc the happen in the area? I’d love to know!

P.S. I made this entire blog post on my phone – what a technical feat!

P.P.S. Here is Tessa in the outfit I made her before she was born.

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Nighties for Althea – fairy and granny

I would be perfectly happy for my daughter to wear pyjamas as nightwear but unfortunately she was gifted a totally hideous 100% polyester Barbie (shudder) nightie. This became her favourite thing ever and had to actively confiscated to get it washed. So when it became too small I hid it (mean Mummy that I am) and the requests for more nighties started. Crazily enough I discovered that they are not easily available – I mean Target don’t sell any in her size! It’s onesies, pyjamas or nothing.

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I had been gifted this fairy printed interlock and matching ribbing by my aunt, who had intended it for a nightie for Althea but had never got around to making it. While heavily pregnant I thought this this might be a quick and easy project, scoured my Ottobre magazines for a suitable pattern and ta da! fairy nightie (much preferable to Barbie, and the fabric feels like it has at some cotton content).

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The pattern is Ottobre 3/2012 – 34 Jungle Stripes, a knit dress for older girls. I made the size 134 and added 3cm to the length. It is still very short, mid thigh, the photos don’t really show the true length. It’s also quite a snug fit through the shoulders, so although it fits she’s not going to get very much wear out of it, especially as the weather has cooled down so much now.

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I got Althea to help me trace and cut the pattern, after which she lost interest in this being a mummy-daughter project. The pattern has raglan sleeves, cute pleats at the front and back neck and elastic casings around the neckline and sleeves. I hemmed it with a multistep zigzag.

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Unfortunately my Ottobre collection did not contain a suitable winter nightie pattern, I was unable to find a downloadable pattern larger than a girls size 8, and so I had to purchase a big 4 pattern from Spotlight. Enter Simplicity 1569. Even though daggy granny nightwear is a Big 4 speciality there is not a lot of choice past a size 8 there either. The fabric was also from Spotlight and is of an abysmal quality. I felt terribly annoyed sewing with it knowing that it is not going to last long, but sadly Spotlight and Lincraft are the ONLY purveyors of printed flannelette in Australia. The smaller , better quality online and bricks and mortar stores don’t stock such a pedestrian stuff.  I felt sick when I discovered 1499 items listed for cotton flannel fabric at fabric.com. But I’m not paying for transPacific postage for printed flannelette!

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You can see the loose weave.

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So the nightie was pretty quick and easy to sew (good as I have a newborn) and Althea is super pleased with it. However….this pattern is everything I hate about big 4 patterns:

* the stupid fragile tissue paper. So annoying. Requires ironing flat. So hard to trace. I ended up cutting out her size because I really couldn’t be bothered which is such a waste of a multisize pattern that I will probably want to use again.

*Crazy amounts of wearing ease, and too much ease in the sleeve cap.

* Stupidly bad fit. I made the size 8 which is for a child 132cm tall, Althea is 135cm tall and it is FLOOR LENGTH. (The pattern envelope illustration is also misleading as the view C nightie is shown as mid calf length -it’s not).  The sleeves and yoke seem to be right for her size though. I was planning to make the 10 but once I saw the pattern pieces I sized down.

*Terrible instructions – I mean who would pin, baste and then sew, and then NOT finish the seam.  Needless to say I sewed the sleeves in flat, not in the round as instructed, I used 12mm bias binding to finish the neckline not 25mm, and closed the neckline with a press stud not a button and loop.

Anyway Althea’s very happy and I might even sew her another winter nightie soon. And I feel better having ranted at the interwebs!

Midwinter antelope hat

I was so happy with my Nymphalidlea shawl in the midwinter colourway that I ordered a ball of Knitpicks Chroma midwinter in the worsted weight so that I could make a coordinating hat. And here it is!

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Please excuse the sleep deprived, no make up selfies, complete with Ergoed newborn!  Glamorous photo shoots are not really my top priority at the moment.  I’m typing this post one handed while breastfeeding – it’s about as annoying and difficult as you would expect!

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The pattern is Antelope Hat by Kelly McClure. I made the beanie rather than the slouch version and as you can see it fits quite snugly (but I do have a much larger than average head). If I make this pattern again I’d definitely try the slouch.

I started this project three times, it was quite infuriating. I ended up constructing the picot brim differently to the pattern instructions, I used a provisional cast on – details are on my Ravelry project here. The picot edge flips up too, despite wet blocking on a size 3 soccer ball, and i don’t think that there’s much i can do about that.

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I am pleased with how the colours worked out with the deep blue (my favourite shade in this colourway) framing the face.

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The use of yarn overs in the decreases at the crown is a lovely touch too.

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This hat was completed before Tessa was born and since she arrived I haven’t knit a single stitch, but have been desperate to dash off to my sewing sewing if I ever get any spare minutes. I suspect it’s probably because I spend so much time sitting and breastfeeding that I want to do something more active, and faster, when I get the chance. Swings and roundabouts though, I’m still dreaming of all the lovely things I’d like to knit!

Owl dress for Althea

I’m so happy to have snatched the time to post this – Tessa is actually asleep in the bassinet!!! not on me!! Actually this dress for Althea was sewed entirely in Tessa’s second week of life. Then on day 12 she woke up and, well, I’ve had almost no time to sew since then.

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The pattern is Farbemix Muriel in size 134/140. It is a smidge big as Althea is about 134cm, but I am happy with that as it should last her a while.

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I have made this dress for her many times before, it is one of my favourite patterns, and seems to work well from toddlers to older girls. I used bias tape to finish the neckline and arm holes, and did a centred back zip. The fabric was denim from the stash, left over from a skirt I made myself I think. Althea’s getting so tall that it’s hard to get dresses out of remnants for her any more.

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The owl appliqué is an iron-on transfer from Spotlight, and we chose coordinating ricrac and ribbon. I am quite pleased with the effect, and am super glad that my big six year old is not past such decorative styles yet!