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I know - it's been a vey long time since I've posted on this blog. Life is as busy as ever, and although I still manage to squeeze in some sewing time, I never seem to be able to photograph what I've sewn. I've made a special effort today though, because I did make something late last year that was worth blogging about!
After chatting to another mum at ballet last year my attention was drawn to the fact that this year my Zoe would have the opportunity to learn a solo dance, and that if she were to perform this solo, she would need a tutu. Now although at the time of this conversation I had absolutely zero intention of ever making a tutu, I soon learned how expensive they are to have made (many hundreds of dollars), and how much even second hand tutus sell for.
And so I decided, with the help of this ballet mum (who just happens to be a professional seamstress and was also in the process of making her first tutu), I set about making a prototype. I figured that it was best to have a go while there was no pressure to produce something that would be worn on stage, and that if it was a complete flop I would have plenty of time to find something else!
And so over the next few months I proceeded to chip away at what was a fundamentally daunting taks. There are so many skills required to make a tutu, most of which I was completely lacking (I'd never even sewn a fitted bodice before and had to be introduced to the concept of 'ease'). And of course most steps had to be painstakingly unpicked after they had not quite been sewn correctly the first time.
In between sewing I would sit my model somewhere around the house where I could admire my work and fret about the upcoming steps.
And I spent almost as much time deciding on the decoration as I did sewing the tutu itself. I had no idea that blue lace was so hard to find. Now I know!
After several months I set myself a deadline to finish the tutu. Zoe was going to perform the little dance from the end of her ballet exam at her school carnival, and I promised her she would have a tutu to wear for her performance. This deadline of course resulted in a few midnight sewing sessions, but a finished tutu was produced just in time, and we were both thrilled with the result!
I wondered if I'd ever want to think about sewing another tutu after I'd spent so many hours on this first one. I wouldn't exactly say I've been bitten by the tutu bug, but I do look forward to making another one one day. Just not any day too soon!
I did something a little bit crafty last week so I thought I better hurry up and update my blog with proof that I'm still around and still making things from time to time. My petite ballerina graduated to blue class this year and needed a blue hair bow to match. After staring for months at the ones for sale at the studio I suddenly decided I could do the job myself.
I'm pretty pleased with the result and have plans (and supplies) to make a few more (actually I've already made a few more, but by the time I took this photo the light was fading, the model was getting annoyed and the bun had seen better days, so I figured I better be thankful for the one semi-decent photo I did get!).
In other crafty news I made 4 pairs of pyjama pants for the little man and sewed the hem on two t-shirts for me which have been sitting half finished since January. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I'm thinking that one day soon I might just be able to face the other 45 half finished projects sitting in my sewing room, and then maybe make it to a day when I can in good conscience start something new again. Maybe. Oh, I also got the craft group at school going again after a rather long hiatus and had a great first night back making bunting.
On the home front I've been on the road a lot driving children to various activities, including a chess tournament in Canberra. That one was a long drive! Am I complaining though? Nup. Because Canberra is a great place, and because being forced to sit for hours and read a book whilst waiting for chess games to finish is good for the soul. And good for finally finishing one of my books for book club :P I've also decided that the novelty of driving to the city will not wear off with the advent of winter. I took these photos during the week on a cold, wet night with my trusty iphone.
I tell you it's not quite the Champs-Élysées, but I get a buzz walking around the place just the same.
I'll finish with some cute photos of the kids. Miss Zoe on her way to violin and the little man after his school cross country win today. And then I'm off to enjoy the official start of the weekend after what has been a big week.
Zoe and I have been spending a bit of time hanging out here, waiting for her brother to finish his ballet class. I thought that driving into the city each week would be a nightmare, but actually after 5 years living in the outer suburbs of Melbourne I am loving my time in town. I have always loved the city, but I don't think I've ever truly appreciated how beautiful Melbourne is. I sit on one side of the river, with the gardens and arts precinct behind me, and look over to the city with its grand buildings and the hustle and bustle of people from all walks of life, and I never seem to tire of the view. Tonight I'm on local duty though, as Zoe has her violin lesson just down the street, so my hubby is doing the city run (quite literally - he runs around the Tan while he's waiting). I guess as the year goes on, and the days get colder, the novelty of being in the city might wear off. But for now I feel fortunate to find myself there each week, and just quietly I'm looking forward to next Tuesday when I'm on city duty again.
We've had a happy few weeks around here.
The little man turned 10.
Our favourite redhead lost her front tooth.
And one of our chooks laid her first egg!
There has been great discussion regarding which of our girls might have laid the egg and what we're going to make with it (except that it got left at school after show and tell so maybe we'll make something out of the next one!).
It's funny the things you learn as a parent. Like which are the best sports to take your kids to. I don't mean which ones are best for the kids, I mean which ones are best for the parents. I always enjoy taking the kids to swimming, because after the mad rush of getting them to the pool, I get to sit for 30 minutes drinking good quality coffee and watching them swim (I used to teach swimming many years ago so I enjoy watching the kids swim). It's hot and noisy by the pool, but I love that little fragment of peacefulness in an ever busy schedule.
That's nothing compared to this though:
That's me chilling out on the picnic rug at Little Athletics this morning, drinking my coffee and waiting for the sausages to cook. My hubby and I hung out together all morning, soaking up the warmth and catching up on the week's events. Oh yeah, it so happens that every second week you need to stand out there picking up disks from the running track, or measuring the kids' shotput throws. But since I do the swimming and the ballet runs, I let my hubby do the Little Aths volunteering, and I just turn up every few weeks when the sun is shining. Love it!
Here I am in the shirt I made last weekend. I literally unpicked a favourite Esprit shirt that was a good ten years old and used it to make a pattern. As much as I loved the shirt it never fitted me particularly well, so I made a few adjustments and did the right thing and made both a practice shirt and a paper pattern before I made this one. I'm really pleased with how it's turned out so will keep an eye out for some nice fabric to make another one (this fabric came from Spotlight and matches my Ojay skirt well, but wasn't exactly what I had in mind for the shirt). I felt a bit overdressed for Little Aths but was so excited to finally have warm weather I wanted to wear my new skirt and shirt before it disappeared (which it no doubt will!).
Yes I've had a few successes in my sewing room lately (which has been quite exhilarating after a string of disappointments which made me wonder why I bothered to sew anything). I am particularly pleased with a couple of skirt alterations I did last weekend. I find clothes shopping so frustrating - I go from shop to shop and hardly ever find something I want to buy. So when I found this great linen skirt at an Ojay outlet for $26 (yes the bargain theme continues!) I had to have it, even if it was a size 16. I figured for that price it was worth trying to alter it, and if it worked, there was a whole shop full of cheap size 16 skirts I could come back for.
The skirt needed a couple of inches taken out of the waist band, but due to pockets that run into the side seams I didn't really want to unpick the sides. What it did have was a bit of gathering on the back of the waist band, which was just begging to be cut out. So cut it out I did! (I only thought to take this photo after I had started to unpick the waistband).
The skirt has a seam down the back which I could have taken in to get rid of the excess skirt fabric, but then I would have had to mess with the hem, and since I can always do with a little extra fullness at the rear, I just put some gathers in the skirt and then re-attached the waistband.
And it worked perfectly! Well, if you look carefully you can see that the side seams now come around the back by a couple of cms on each side. I have to admit that this bothers my very mild anal tendency for things to be exactly right (which only ever shows itself when I sew) but I'm sure most people would never notice and so I'm trying to ignore it and and enjoy my much needed new linen skirt.
That same afternoon I did the same thing on this skirt which was a little loose when I bought it last season, but was pretty much unwearable after I'd lost 5kg during the winter (before I go on I just have to say that I had no idea i had a penchant for linen skirts with buttons down the front until I started to write this blog post!).
This skirt doesn't have pockets in the side seams, so I did the right thing and took a couple of centimetres out of the waist band on each side (there was already a seam there which made life easy). I then took in the skirt and lining, tapering it to meet the original side seam before I reached the bottom so that I didn't have to do any adjustments at the hem.
I was so thrilled that my sewing skills had come in useful and provided me with two skirts that will get heaps of wear this summer. I went on to make a shirt, a t-shirt and two pairs of summer pyjama pants for Hamish. Woohoo - I do believe I have finally refound my sewjo!
I usually only show photos of the one ballet dancer in the family, by request of the second ballet dancer. But since he's front page news around our parts, I've been given permission to post about his exciting news.
Just don't tell anyone about it - ok?!
I have to say that I often feel guilty about the amount of fabric I have bought with a specific project in mind, which has never even made it to the cutting stage. Sometimes though, I end up using that fabric for a completely different purpose, and I am thankful for my impulsive buying habits. As a case in point - I needed a bag for Zoe to take to her school swimming program, and after trawling 5 shops without finding what I wanted, I realised I'd have to make something. So I went up to my extensive fabric stash, and was pulling things out that might be suitable (I wanted something softer than the Mexican oilcloth I sell because it needs to be squished into her schoolbag to go to in the morning).
Not finding anything, and starting to feel a bit desperate (because I knew quite well there was slim chance my local Lincraft would have anything), I pulled out some curtain lining which looked like it might be water resistant. And with that, out fell this Amy Butler oilcloth, which I had bought more than a year ago to make shopping bags.
These fabrics were $1 a metre! I was so wrapped, as I've been doing lots of experimenting with knit fabrics lately and I've had trouble finding anything under $6 per metre to play with. I think I have 15 metres here - that should keep me going for a while :)
I was at my local fruit shop last week when I stumbled upon a 3kg box of strawberries on the bargain trolley for $3. I had no idea what I was going to do with 3kg of strawberries, but since I had been raised to absolutely positively grab any fruit being offered for free (or in this case next to free), I piffed the two tiny punnets I already had in my trolley and hauled in the giant box.
When I got home I did the appropriate thing and rang my mum, informing her that I had 3kg of strawberries in my kitchen. She asked if I was going to make jam to which I replied no (I have watched my mum make jam every season of my life and have never once felt the urge to give it a go). I told her I'd eat as many as I could, then give the rest to someone who knew what to do with them. She said she'd be there in 2 hours.
And sure enough, 2 hours later, I had my mum in my kitchen making strawberry jam. And when I got back from the ballet run that night, this is the little stash of goodness that was waiting on my bench. I know - I'm pretty lucky huh?