29 November, 2010

Cat video!

Do you love a good cat video? I do (god help me)

via Dooce

27 November, 2010

Crafting and money

As I was driving along the other day I started to wonder about crafting and how much it costs. I think it was the product of some of the spending I've been doing recently on bits and bobs I deem necessary for whatever I'm doing - thread, invisible zipper foot (I'm going to conquer my fear of the invisible zipper shortly!), fabric, ribbon, little bag frames... Ok, so only some of it is necessary! But jeez, even decent Guterman thread is fairly pricey when you add it all up. And then at the stitch 'n bitch night on Tuesday the conversation passed over the amount people will spend on wool or fabric and how that shocks other people who don't know how much a lovely skein or a metre of designer fabric goes for.  There was also a comment on a beautiful wreath at Martha Stewart about the price of the components that got me thinking.

So what I was thinking was whether this new crafting resurgence is essentially a middle-class thing? When it's cheaper to buy most of your clothing than make it, and buy a quilt than make it - and pretty much everything else - is it just an indulgence to make it yourself at twice the price and think yourself clever?  It's sort of like when I was first at University and some of my classmates were exploring being modern versions of hippies and living alternative lifestyles and striving to look and be different and non-consumerist it was pretty obvious that the only reason they wanted to live like that was because they didn't have to - their parents were able to subsidise them. Anyone who was truly poor was trying desperately NOT to live like that.

When I look at some of the lovely quilting sites where the most gorgeous things are made from beautiful designer fabrics hot off the presses I often wonder at the money that goes into making them - definitely out of reach of many people, especially these days. These are the quilts and blogs of the affluent and educated.  I don't actually have an issue with that, it just makes me think about whether there is a divide in the crafting world between the haves and the have-nots just as there is in the real world (for lack of a better term!).

I suppose this is a bit of an unfocused ramble because I was also negotiating roundabouts and intersections and other drivers at the time, but I'd love to hear anyone else's thoughts on this - even if it's just to tell me I'm delusional!

25 November, 2010

Why hello there!

I am still around, just being incredibly disorganised and slightly overwhelmed yet adding more projects all the time. Something's got to give! It appears to be the blog at the moment.

Firstly, thanks to everyone who took up the CFM challenge. I was disappointed that I didn't manage to do more but I do have a tissue pattern half-altered that I'm looking forward to showing you. I had hoped to have it done already but then the FBA I did wasn't enough so I have to go back and redo it which is one of my pet peeves! I'm not good at redoing. Pop on over to the Flickr group and see what the other participants came up with, I was really impressed!

I had a lovely time at The Little Craft Store's first stitch 'n bitch evening on Tuesday and got the first one of these little felt gingerbread/sugar cookie men made. The pattern is from Fa la la la Felt which, as I said here, is a really wonderful book. And of course working with felt is always so nice!

fa la la la felt :: gingerman + sugar cookie friend

Right now I'm working on a little Tooth Fairy tooth pouch for Hazel who has her first wobbly tooth! I'm also part way though making an Ottobre jacket for her for our upcoming trip to Canada (less than 3 weeks eeep!), a hat, a couple tops for me, a toy for my niece, a small quilt for my nephew, and various and assorted unmentionable Christmas presents.  I'll try and be a better blogger in the next couple weeks, I really will, but I hope you understand if I go AWOL occasionally! I'm not the most organised crafter and I tend to have too many things on the go at once, my mind in 5 different places, and am consequently not the most efficient person on the face of the planet. Oh, and I have to give a talk at a conference on Wednesday - guess I'd better work on the Powerpoint show sometime too!

21 November, 2010

A lovely weekend

Hazel and I flew down to Nelson for the weekend to visit my aunt and cousins. Our family has been out at Stoke since at least the early 1900s and my cousin owns the house my great-grandfather built. Although I don't get to visit as often as I'd like, I always feel this strong connection with the place when I do. It seemed even stronger this time around as I was having to add on extra greats when telling Hazel about these relations of hers and who had built what and worked where and so-on.  I had a quick troll through some of the old family photographs out there and then of course had to have a look at a few I'd scanned several years ago and never got around to doing anything with (much to my shame). I can't find the notes attached to each scan so I can't give the dates for sure but here are a few of my favourites:

My grandparents Violet and Andrew worked in the orchards so there are several photos of them together as a courting couple (though apparently my great-grandfather thought my grandfather was coming to visit him!) and with friends. I think these would date to about 1928-9. My great-grandfather must have been a bit dense if he didn't realise these two were keen on each other!

Giblin orchard Violet & Andrew

Tea break. My grandmother is second from left. Look at the shoes she's wearing! The two girls on either side of her look to have light tennis shoes on but she and the older lady at the right are picking apples in style!  Actually they both have long duster-type coats on, maybe they were doing something else?
Giblin orchard 1

And one of my absolute favourites - she's beautiful, he's handsome...  Violet died long before I was born and I think I was two or three the only time I met Andrew before he died when I was 5, so I didn't know either of them but looking at these photos and reading some of Violet's letters I feel like perhaps I do a little bit anyways.
Violet & Andrew Bronte St oval

Normal crafting posts will resume shortly!

17 November, 2010

The kindness of strangers

Well ok they're not strangers but they ARE kind!

Heleen from Ruby In The Dust gave me a piece of her gorgeous new fabric 'in the neighbourhood' which I adore, and it's on very fine linen which gives it a lovely feel.

In The Neighbourhood

I couldn't resist taking this photo of it all crumpled up, I love the way the fabric drapes

In The Neighbourhood

And last week I was lucky enough to win some fabric in Stitchbird's giveaway and it arrived yesterday, with a few little extras - what a sweetie!

Fabric from Stitchbird competition

I'm planning on appliquéing the little Cookie figure onto the back of my red quilt. The speech bubble says "freak", so every time I look at the back of my quilt I'll have a quiet little giggle.

16 November, 2010

Still no sewing...

...and it's breaking my heart. I'm trying to get the marking out of the way, although I think I strained my back trying to carry a stack of final exam scripts. Seriously, those are some heavy suckers! Luckily I don't have to mark those, my lovely tutor did, but I need to play with marks and write things on them. Once they're out of the way I'm hoping to get in at least one more CFM post before it's over!

So to keep this place mildly ticking over I thought I'd play along with Pip's 20 Questions meme
  1. Sweet or Savoury?
  2. Dresses or Jeans?
  3. House or Apartment?
  4. Shop Online or Offline?
  5. DVDs or Downloads?
  6. Cocktails or Juice?
  7. Chocolate or Strawberry?
  8. Laptop or PC?
  9. Magazines or Newspapers?
  10. Facebook or Twitter?
  11. CDs or MP3s?
  12. Kids or Pets?
  13. Macaron or Cupcakes?
  14. Walk or Run?
  15. Breakfast in Bed or Breakfast Out?
  16. Market or Supermarket?
  17. Sourdough or Grainy?
  18. Heels or Flats?
  19. Late nights or Not?
  20. Coffee or Tea?
  1. Savoury! I used to be a sweet girl but now I'm all about the salt and the fats. 
  2. Jeans. But I wish it were dresses.
  3. House. Did the apartment thing and got really tired of having so many neighbours! Two gives you more than enough opportunity for noise that is not your own.
  4. DVDS. I'm an old-fashioned kind of gal. 
  5. Online. Which is such a copout because it just reflects my basic laziness. I prefer to shop for fabric in person though, online might have better selection but you can't finger the merchandise.
  6. On a daily basis that would be juice but I do like to break out occasionally with a Martini or something classy.
  7. Chocolate! Or even better, both! But only real strawberries, I have no love for anything 'strawberry flavoured', including icecream.
  8. PC - I like my laptop but it's murder on my posture and I love a big screen.
  9. Magazines I suppose, although newspapers are pretty good too.
  10. My Tweets go straight to my Facebook so they're pretty much one and the same. I like the catching up with friends part of Facebook and the brevity and publicity of Twitter, they're not really comparable in my mind.
  11. I like the idea of CDs as something solid in my hand but I mostly get my music from the iTunes store.
  12. Both! Why do I have to choose? Well I suppose if I did I'd keep Hazel :) I generally like other people's pets more than their kids though.
  13. Cupcakes because I've never had a macaron. But I will one day!
  14. Walk. My running days are over due to bad knees.
  15. Out. Although bed is good, but there tends to be Eggs Benedict on my plate when we go out and not in bed.
  16. If I could shop at a market every day I'd be happy. But I can't so I mostly go to the supermarket.
  17. Depends on the quality of the bread! If they were equally amazing I guess I'd go grain.
  18. Flats. No heels. No flats. Oh I don't know! I wear flats 90% of the time but get a disproportionate amount of enjoyment from the 10% heel time.
  19. My 18 year old self would cringe at this, but definitely not a late night person anymore! Well I am at home if I'm sewing, but if we're out I usually want to be home in bed by 11.
  20. Tea! Never learned to drink coffee, to Mat's eternal sadness.

    13 November, 2010

    Library books galore

    I'm still a bit sore after the operation so no sewing for me for awhile unfortunately! But I can look at books instead. Auckland has recently become what it (rather pompously) likes to call a "super-city" by amalgamating all the different councils into one. I won't go into all the politics of it (which are more than a little appalling) or how much it'll cost (WAY more than they promised natch) or whether it'll be successful or not (no idea, suspect not) but the one thing I've been gleefully taking advantage of is the new library system. Previously, Waitakere Library was incredibly deficient in the craft book line. I think they had a couple Amy Butler books and that was about it. But now, oh now there are LOTS of books and I'm requesting them by the handful.

    These are the ones I've got at the moment:

    The Perfect Fit: The Classic Guide to Altering Patterns This is the one that Google Books has a portion of online and it's a useful book.

    I also bought Fit For Real People and it's marvellous - the two books compliment each other really well, explaining techniques slightly differently and more clearly in some cases. Fit for real people is slightly more comprehensive and it explains the reasoning behind a lot of the alterations well, including what order to do them in. I can't wait to get stuck into doing some on my patterns. After reading through both of them it's no wonder I've never been hugely happy with my results in making clothes for myself and find it much easier to make kids' clothes!

    Hazel got a lovely American Girl doll for her birthday this year from my brother in NY, and she really needs some more clothes for her. American Doll don't make it very easy to buy internationally and Hazel is determined to get the charms that come with the real deal (hello fabulous marketing!) so I wanted to make some clothes to stand in for awhile.  I like this book All Dolled Up, even though I still rebel internally at the idea of girls and dolls dressed alike. Hazel thinks its a fabulous idea though!  The patterns are easy and done in fabrics more to my taste would actually be pretty nice - both for girls and dolls!

    I picked up Sew Scandinavian this morning and all I can say is Huge. Disappointment.  Perhaps I have a very limited view of what the term "Scandinavian" implies style-wise, but is it naf frilly pink stuff? Ruffles? Twee dolls and teddies?  Seriously, stay away from this one. It's going back to the library tomorrow.

    Joel Dewberry's Sewn Spaces, on the other hand, is nice so the trip to the library wasn't entirely wasted. There are a few of projects I really like and I'll be tracing out patterns and copying instructions for sure. It's nothing out of the ordinary (another pair of bog-standard pyjama pants or an apron for goodness' sake? Booooring! I was surprised there weren't any matryoshka dolls in there as well) but the fabrics are lovely and there's some nice basic patterns and ideas. I doubt I'll be upholstering any chairs on the strength of three pages of text though! Though if they wanted to give me the finished chair I wouldn't mind (the one on the cover there).

    09 November, 2010


    'The sickness unto death'

    There's really no place like it, even if you've been in a rather nice private hospital overnight (note: must investigate private health insurance!).  The surgery went well and despite being rather sore when I move and a numb foot again (which should disappear in a few days) I'm feeling pretty good. I still need to sleep off the dregs of the anaesthesia, but much nicer to do it in my own bed!

    It's great to get this over and done with, I feel like one big hurdle has been cleared and I just have the marking to do and then I can relax and think about Christmas and other lovely things like that! Oh, and going to Nelson in 10 days to see my Aunt and cousins. I love Nelson and I hope Hazel will too! So there are good things coming my way soon.

    07 November, 2010

    The 60s

    A friend had a party last night and the invitation said to dress 60s and bring a plate of 60s food. Ok, devilled eggs it was then (and two other people had the same idea!) but what about the 60s dress? When you think about it the decade spanned some pretty diverse looks, from the quasi-50s clothes of the early years, through the Jackie O styles to the hippy finale.  I decided to go for the glam side of things bought myself some false eyelashes and did a bit of back-combing, and raided my wardrobe for the sexiest Joan Holloway outfit I could muster.

    Going 60s

    I have to say that before I started getting ready I REALLY didn't want to go, I was feeling a bit negative about my personal appearance and how much weight I've gained recently but I tell you what, slather on pale makeup, apply some ridiculously full false eyelashes and squeeze into a very tight dress with stilettos and baby, your mental outlook is all changed!

    The eyelashes were great, I'm a total convert! Well probably not those particular ones very often because they were pretty OTT and I kept thinking I had something stuck in my own eyelashes, but they definitely have their uses. And I'm sure I'd get better at putting them on, it took me like half an hour and even then they weren't quite right at the inner corners. I do love the pale skin, pale lips and dark eyes look and I think I may attempt to wear it as a slightly toned-down look on a more regular basis. Or would that be too Amy Winehouse?  The one thing I do need is some padding under the bouff of the bouffant because despite all my backcombing and hairspraying it deflated somewhat by the end of the evening. I know you can get little constructions to do that so I'll get one from Avon and see how it goes. 

    05 November, 2010

    Alrighty, fun's over!

    Well for me anyways. I've had my few days of freedom and sewing in-between classes ending and final exam marking starting and it's over as of Sunday. And then on Monday I have a wee spot of back surgery scheduled. Like in they are going to put me under, cut a small hole in my back and remove the bit of disk that is pushing on my sciatic nerve and I spend the night in hospital (and hopefully no more than that). That kind of surgery. Sigh. I know I'll be pleased when it's all over but at the moment I'm feeling a bit stressed over it and the marking and sewing has been helping with my mental well being. I'm part way through finishing an Ottobre tunic I started yonks ago but suddenly felt like finishing today! Hopefully I can get a bit done on that tomorrow. And of course I can't mark all day so perhaps can squeeze in a bit of sewing here and there. But I'm sure I'll get a couple of things done by the end of challenge! I feel a bit like I didn't time it very well because I did know I'd have to stop for awhile in the middle, I suppose I thought I'd get more done in the days I had available! Typical underestimation of how long it takes to sew grown up clothes.

    I'm hoping to pop back in and get another post in before Monday, but if I don't I'll see you all mid-next week sometime!

    03 November, 2010


    In return for my apple and pear pincushions for Petalplum's pincushion swap I had these little beauties land in my mailbox!


    The linen and red one is from Sandrine and the cake is from Bec. Thanks ladies, they're both gorgeous and I hardly know what to do with myself with three pincushions after only having one for so long! And thanks so much to Ellie for organising it, it was so much fun!

    02 November, 2010

    1st Anniversary Congratulations

    Lyndy over at Stitchbird is celebrating her 1st Anniversary with a fabulous giveaway. Now despite the fact that sending any of you lot over there will lessen my chances of winning I think it's probably worth it (and not just for the extra entry!) Stitchbird is one of my favourite online fabric shops and I always find things that I love there. You know how you can browse around some online shops and find a few things that you like but the owner obviously has different tastes than you and it just doesn't gel? Well Stitchbird isn't like that. She made me go and choose my favourite fabrics for this giveaway and it was hard! Always the sign of good taste in my book :)  I chose these ones - can you do better?

    Clothes for Mum Challenge: Basic tshirt pattern

    I went very quiet there for a few days because I was busy trying to sort out a tshirt pattern. The first bit was fun, taking measurements (ok so maybe not so fun!) and drafting out the pattern.  Then fitting it and adjusting  it was less fun and more fiddly and I had no idea what I was doing.

    This is the tshirt from the initial pattern

    Tshirt pattern

    Tshirt pattern

    As you can see the armhole seams are way too far over and I've got a nasty gape along the shoulder line there.  I drew all over the shirt inside out to indicate where the seam needed to shift to, and and found this very useful video on tissue-fitting a tshirt which suggests that most tshirts need a dart from the armhole. I would never have thought of that because in my experience tshirts don't come with darts! But I put one in and voila! A lovely fit along that seam.

    Tshirt pattern

    It's an appallingly executed dart and on the pattern I've shifted the position slightly as well, but even like this it makes a big difference. So does bringing that arm seam in.  Of course now it needs a FBA big time as it's too tight across the bust, but fits so nicely along the shoulder I'm pretty pleased.  I have a feeling based on something I read somewhere at some point that you can pin up a dart and cut the fabric from the pinned pattern and incorporate a dart that way but I can't visualise how you'd accommodate the fullness over the bust that way.  Perhaps if I use the seamline as it is when the dart is pinned and then do a FBA on the rest that might do it.  Google Books has an excerpt from The Perfect Fit that has some very useful information on fitting over the bust, including alterations that you could use on a dartless tshirt. The instructions run across two pages horizontally, so you need to look at the top or bottom set of images on successive pages to get the full section - that confused me at first!


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