A line in the sand

Today marks the next step in my life.  Today I returned the last of materials I had in my home, that were part of my involvement in a charity group.  I have resigned.

Now, lets say now, the cause was a good one, a noble one, and certainly it is needed.   I hope it continues to succeed, that it grows, that it goes on helping families.

But, like all organisations, all it takes is one uncomfortable relationship, and it becomes impossible to continue.

A person intruded into my personal life making me feel monitored and watched.  Every move, every Facebook post, every little piece of gossip, was used to further tar me.  No amount of silence and hard work seemed to appease them.  I am hurt and angry ….. I assume they are too, and I am sure they feel justified in their minds.

There is no winner here.  I am sure there is a lesson here for me.  Can’t see it right now though.

Posted in Family, Isabeau | 3 Comments

Breaking the rules

Rule breaking, especially when you sew, is usually a recipe for disaster.  But sometimes the universe works in your favour, and you find yourself having a win for a change.

I picked this skirt up in a second hand store. A lovely, well worn denim, with a really nice coffee coloured raw dye appliqué. It was a long skirt, and a couple of sizes too small, but I could immediately see what I could do with it.

Denim Skirt Upcycle

And here is my first rule breaking. I probably should have measured properly, to ensure I got the length right. Instead I folded the skirt straight across, til I got to a point where it would go comfortably across my middle. I figured that given how I carry my weight in front more than back, this would give me the ease I would need. Then, just cut it off. This gave me a skirt that was sort of midway between an A-line and straight skirt.

Denim Skirt Upcycle

A quick try on showed that it was a little firm across the hips to get away with just an elastic waist. I unpicked the side seam and inserted a zip.

Denim Skirt Upcycle

I roughly cut two pieces of quilting cotton the same shape as the waist. These were stitched together at one side seam, and the I bound the bottom hem with satin bias binding.

These I then attached to the waist edge, turned to the inside, and topstitched along the top edge.

Denim Skirt Upcycle

On the back, I measured a width, and then topstitched again 2.5cm down, to create a channel for the elastic. I anchored the elastic at the zip side, and then threaded it through until I came to the other side seam. Pulled up the elastic, did a couple of try ons. Once it was tight enough. I anchored that side down, stitching all the way to the edge of the facing.

Denim Skirt Upcycle

After ages trying to perfect fit, I have come to the conclusion that the shape of my hips just works better with an elastic back. And since I normally don’t wear shirts tucked in, I am not bothered by it.

Denim Skirt Upcycle

I am genuinely surprised how well this worked out. Its a wearable skirt, at a good (not frumpy) length.


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Are you beautiful?

I’m not ….. I know that.

Now before I get howled down, about how I need to accept my inner beauty, be a beautiful light, and many other such trite’isms …. please be aware, acknowledging my lack of beauty doesn’t automatically mean I hate myself.  I appreciate that my features are arranged into a generally acceptable face, not inclined to instil fear in small children, but also not likely to inspire sonnets either.  My face is round, prone to being ruddy, and not particularly photogenic.  I certainly have never mastered my “camera smile”, which means I don’t particularly like smiling in photos.

Mostly, this lack hasn’t bothered me much.  I don’t come from pretty stock.  My mother’s family tend towards the mannish in looks, well leathered skin, and tend to age not very well.  My father’s family tend towards the pointy chin, wicked witch look, especially as they age.  I would say, that in the scheme of things, my siblings and I have done the best we could, genetically, with the chromosomes we were given.

I don’t hold much truck with models, and actors.  Like fashion designers think of plus sized women …. I tend to feel those in the public eye, are verging on not real people.  So I don’t compare myself ….. or should I say I try not to.

But, I am an active part of the sewing community.   And so I receive newsletters from various pattern companies.  Todays was from StyleArc, who make wonderful fashion forward designs.  They value their customer base, and regularly send out their newsletters with photos of outfits customers have made from their designs.

So todays photo was a beautiful woman, in a stunning lace dress.  She’s not a model, or actress.  She’s not super thin, or plus sized.  She is a normal person, in a lovely dress.  But also, well at least in my eyes, she was beautiful.  A stunning prettiness,  along with a glow that spelled health and happiness.

I work hard to be comfortable in my own skin, but I must admit ….. just a tiny bit of jealousy.  Not terribly proud of it.

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Lounge Room quilts

The first of two quilts, that I made for my lounge chairs.

I completed both quilts last year, and unfortunately, my friend, who was long arm quilting them for me, had a massive rush of jobs, along with a couple of family issues, so they have been waiting at her place to be finished, all year.

This is the first quilt, a set of charm squares in a range whose name I can’t remember now. Quilting is a pantograph of some particular name, I also can’t remember. I do know that I chose it, as the swirls are a great counter point to the linear nature of the quilt.

Lounge room quilt #1

A close up, because we always like to look up close.

Lounge room quilt #1

The second quilt just needs to be bound, and then it will be done also.

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Who would you thank in your life?

I would like to thank ……. Naked Margaret.

Yep … naked. As a 12 year old girl, with a depressed and uninterested mother who had left her husband (my father) for the last time, Naked Margaret was a surprising, brief but powerful influence in my life.

You see, Naked Margaret was the final mistress/girlfriend that finally convinced my mother that Dad was no good. I only met her once, on an access visit with Dad. She taught me about personal hygiene, brushing my teeth every day, wiping front to back, let me shave my armpits and legs, and yelled at dad when he tried to stop me wearing a bikini.

But what she taught me most, was that you must love your body for what it is, not what you want it to be. She wasn’t a model, she was curvy and lush, with a mummy belly from her own 3 children. But, while making the bed with her one day, I looked up to see her dressing gown open, and the fact that she was naked underneath (where she gets her name from me). There was no hint of shame, or enforced modesty. She was who she was. She wore a bikini, she wandered the house in her underwear, and she took no rot from anyone.  It didn’t take her long to see through Dad and his rubbish, so she wasn’t in his life long enough for me to get to know better.

As sad as it was to watch my parents’ marriage implode, I value Naked Margaret’s brief appearance in my life more than anything.

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Its just a body ……… and its only clothes

My sister has a policy with regards to food, and her picky food hating toddlers ……. its just food, there is no point stressing over it.  She developed this attitude when her first boy was 2, and she was struggling with getting him to eat, like parents all over the world.

After seeing a discussion about certain styles of clothing, it occurred to me, that the same attitude could be applied to clothing.  Apparently there are body shapes that “should never be allowed” (not my words) to wear certain styles …… overweight 50+ women in sleeveless sheath dresses was one no-go zone apparently.  And certainly, its a major issue, if an overweight woman wants to wear a bikini.  (how on earth do I show sarcasm?  italics?)

I wear a bikini …. a skirted briefs bottom (because my genetics blessed me with a fair amount of body hair I am not 100% happy with), a halter bikini top (because I don’t need a padded top, I have enough padding already), and then a sun protection shirt (its Australia people …. the skin cancer capital of the world).   After a swim with friends, I got out, and the first thing I did was strip off the shirt, before drying off.  One of the ladies that I was with was horrified, that not only would I reveal my flabby belly, but that I would expose everyone to the massive scar across my abdomen …. like somehow the evidence of my fragile health in the past, could somehow traumatise people.

Its just a body …… and its only clothes.

Thats it.  Its not rocket science, its not an issue that will cause imminent social breakdown, immediate world conflict, tarnish the silver, or stopping cows from giving milk.

It is taking a piece of fabric, shaping it into something you like, and then covering your body for warmth, sun protection or personal modesty.  What others think of it, what society thinks it can dictate, what your mothers group or the bitchy shop assistant at the mall says, and ….. most importantly ….. what faceless internet trolls with 2 brain cells write from the safety of blog comments …. does not matter.  If you like your clothes, and you are comfortable, then the opinion of others matters little.

Its just a body …… and its only clothes.

Posted in Craft and Sewing Patterns | 3 Comments

Removing Overlocker Stitch – a tutorial

Just a quick tute today.  After overlocking (serging) the shoulder seams of two gowns today, I realised that I actually needed to complete the vests first.  So, hence a tute on removing overlocker stitch.

Hope this helps everyone.

Removing Overlocking tutorial

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Dear young woman in the black dress

To the young woman in the black skater dress at my local shopping centre.

Firstly, your dress is lovely ……. black, with lace panels up the side of the closely fitted bodice, beautiful swirly circle skirt.

The dress complimented your figure beautifully, highlighting your lovely long legs, shapely hips and narrow torso.

You are youthful, tall, with long dark hair,  and really, I support totally the right of young people to wear whatever they want, whenever they want.

However …………….

Please consider a little more length to your skirts when you are shopping?

Standing up straight it is dead sexy, but there is nothing more startling than to walk around the corner in the meat department, to be met by the sight of a lace g-string, and a pair of beautifully firm butt cheeks right in front of me, as you bent over the trolley to the children.

Wearing the clothing isn’t wrong, but perhaps consider those of us who aren’t expecting that sort of surprise at 4pm on a Saturday.

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Pink and black nightgown

This is my second incarnation of the Seamster (formerly Disparate Disciplines) Yellowtail Cami pattern.  This time I lengthened all the body pieces, with a view to having a nightgown.  I also added a small amount to the side seams (tapered so the back width was the same) to give me a bit of room.

Not ….. happy ….. Jan!

The commonly held belief after the first one, was that the fabrics stretched out as I was sewing, and as such, that was why it was so big. The fabric this time, is a 2 way synthetic knit, quite heavy weight, and not all that prone to stretching out. However, a quick try on before applying the FOE, revealed exactly the same issue across my back (apologies for the shot of my bare back).

Pink and black nightgown

Either my back is super narrow, or this pattern has a huge amount of ease built in, rather than negative ease that the website claims. What can’t be seen is that I also had the same problem with the front …. the front bands ended up almost in my armpits. This time stretching can’t be blamed, because I interfaced the bands, reasoning that the fabric was heavier and therefore needed the support. I ended up cutting close to an inch off the bodice front at both sides, in essence pulling it back to a size 10. I have a feeling that getting the fit how the pattern claims, will require me to do the same with the back bodice. The front V gave me more trouble than last time, so I think I was just lucky to get it right last time. I plan to draft off a new version with these fitting changes, and see how it goes.

The finished result isn’t perfect, but I am hoping it will be a comfortable nightie to wear. Originally I was planning wide bands for the shoulders, and self binding for the back, but the resulting finish was so dreadful, I cut it off, and started again. As a result, I just couldn’t be bothered changing threads to apply the FOE, so we have a “design feature” of black thread on the pink FOE.

Pink and black nightgown

Pink and black nightgown

The hem was finished with roll-edge hemming on my overlocker, but I think next time I will take the time to thread up the coverstitch, as my overlocker did not like all the seams.

I think perhaps, that I might put this pattern away for a while, until I have the patience to spend on getting the fitting just right.

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Baby quilts …… production line quilting

I have always said that production line sewing is tedious, and I never enjoy it.  Yet every year, I subject myself to it, usually convincing myself that sewing the same thing as xmas gifts for my work friends, would be efficient.  Of course, it makes deciding easy, but its boring.   But I can’t really say this about these quilts.  Each is different enough that they challenged me in different ways, and I don’t think I could name a favourite. These quilts are all gifts for 4 ladies I work with. All teachers at the school, one is having her third child, two are having their second, and one is just starting her exciting parenting journey.

What started my decision to make baby quilts as gifts, was the purchase of a flannel charm pack, in the simple adorable range call “Duck Duck Goose”.  This fabric was deliciously lush and soft.  I decided to stretch my beginner quilters wings, and tried out a disappearing 9 patch pattern.  Ok, but the randomness of it, did mess with my mind quite a bit.  I backed with a co-ordinating piece of flannel, and bound with white homespun, reasoning that these will get a lot of wear, and homespun would be more durable than flannel. Quilting was wavy lines.

Duck baby blanket

Duck baby blanket

This quilt is for the adorable J, who is having her third child. The quilt turned out super soft and snuggly, and I think, lovely and old-fashioned with its pastel colours.

So, pleased with the result, I went back to the shop, looking for more charm packs. I found two in the range called “Beddy Bye”, again lovely soft pastels. The first pack I did the same pattern, a disappearing 9 patch, which I backed in flannel too. There weren’t as many squares in this pack, so I added a few of plain lemon, and placed them so I created the little feature squares in the plain fabric. Quilting was in wavy lines.

Beddy Bye quilt

Beddy Bye quilt

This one is for R, who is having her first child.

Back again to the charm pack, “Beddy Bye”, but I was getting bored with the 9 patch. Stretching my quilter wings again, I decided to try out HSQ (half square triangles). An interesting exercise, especially trying to avoid stretching the fabric on the bias which may have caused rippling and puckering. Puckering is your worst enemy when you are quilting. This time I quilted with straight lines, stitching in the ditch to create diagonal lines. This one was bordered with the plain lemon, and backed with the coordinating fabric.

Beddy Bye # 2

Beddy Bye # 2

This one is for K, who is due her second baby. She hasn’t seen this yet, as she’s not due til next term. I hope she likes it.

And to my last one. Try as I might, I could not track down another flannel charm pack. I wasn’t willing to buy the yardage, so I looked around for some cotton charm packs instead. I found this one online, its a lovely boy themed pack, that isn’t too baby. For this one I went back to the disappearing 9 patch pattern, bordered with pale blue, backed with a busy flower pattern, and white homespun binding. Quilting is wavy lines ….. I really like wavy lines.

Sarah's Quilt

Sarah's Quilt

I just love the blue stars and moon fabric. This one is for S, who is having her second child.

I apologise for the huge post, but these quilts have been under wraps for quite some time, so its great to finish them, send them off to the recipients, and get onto the next project. Of course, I have at least 4 more quilts to make, and lots more designed in my head. These things are addictive.


Posted in Gifts and Sewing Galore | 1 Comment