Heartfelt apology to my overlocker

I am the first to admit, that I expect a lot from my toys, and I don’t look after them anywhere near as much as I should.

My poor overlocker, is run ragged, cleaned only when I have to, often left uncovered …. and for most of this week …… called extremely unsavoury names when he misbehaves.

He has been totally off this week, pulling the straight stitching tight creating tunnels, while the loopers have been off the edge of the fabric and more loopy than they should have been. I was facing having to take him off to the LSMG, for a service, a cost and inconvenience I wasn’t happy about, as I don’t have a spare.

I decided today, that I would give him a clean up, oil, and rethread, and see whether that would make him see the error of his ways. I was sitting, staring blankly at the machine, trying to make up my mind whether or not I would remove the plate (don’t have the tool so can’t), when my poor sore eyes focussed on the needles……..

Overlocker needle

Yep, he has been functioning with a bent, right hand needle. No wonder he has been playing up. I am surprised it hasn’t hit the inner workings, and done more damage. After a replacement needle, as you can see by the fabric scrap, he is back to his well behaved best, and I don’t have to send him away.

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Singer Perfect Plus – Princess Seam Jacket

Sometimes, you go into a project with very limited expectations, but find the design or fabric, takes you to a level you just weren’t expecting. This jacket was made, using fabric picked up from an estate sale. Its most definitely vintage fabric, that has that faint, “old lady”, stored for way too long smell. My original plan was to use this fabric as a test for the pattern, to help me sort out any foibles or alterations I might need to make. I assumed the tweed was a bit dodgy, and I thought the lining was polyester. However, as I handled the fabric more, I realised I had proper super soft wool tweed, and a stunning piece of bold patterned silk. This fabric and pattern inspired me to invest in a tailors ham, learn how to steam seams, set in sleeves and bag out a hem. It took me over a month to complete, but I now have a fabulous wool jacket for work.

Tweed and silk jacket Tweed and silk jacket

The simplicity, but also stylish details in the design are fabulous.

Tweed and silk jacket Tweed and silk jacket

And of course the lining is wild …… I on the other hand …. am a stunned mullet. I think this could be classed as the “finished a complicated project and now need a nap” image.

Tweed and silk jacket Tweed and silk jacket

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Upcycle, redesign and repurpose

One thing I have always loved doing, it up cycling and repurposing fabrics. Back when I first started sewing, it was often the only way I could get my hands on pretty fabric; trawling through the op-shops, grabbing clothes purely for the fabric in them.

This first skirt, was a good score. A lined, rayon skirt, actually the right size for me, but way to long to be practical.
Skirt upcycle

You can go two ways with this sort of up cycle; you can just cut it off at the hemline, or waistline …. or you can treat it like a piece of fabric, and use a tried and true pattern. I chose the pattern option, using my Ottobre A-line pattern, but eliminating the kick pleat and adding enough width to make it an elastic waist. I used the lining to help form the waist facing, and then inserted elastic. I have come to the conclusion that I am too fluffy to bother with a fitted waistline.

Skirt upcycle Skirt upcycle

If I ever get around to making a pink top to match it would be great, but its a good work skirt as it is.

The next was an alteration to make something more wearable. This shirt was bought in an 2XL for me, but like all RTW shirts, it just seems that in order to get the width you need at the hips, you end up with a huge bust and upper back, resulting in SAS (saggy armpit syndrome). This just makes you look bigger.

Reshaped black t-shirt

I chose my TNT shirt pattern (Jalie Raglan Tee) and used the bodice piece to realign the side seams and hemline.

Reshaped black t-shirt Reshaped black t-shirt

Its scary taking a pair of scissors to a perfectly serviceable (if saggy) shirt, but its worth it. the result is a better fitting shirt, that I will actually wear. BTW …. its a Dr Who shirt. LOL

Reshaped black t-shirt Reshaped black t-shirt

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Simplicity 2336 – Khaliah Ali Collection

This has become a great TNT, especially for the soft, slinky knits that are so popular right now. I find these shirts are great for work, especially in Autumn and Spring, where its cool and then warm. Paired with a cardi, or a vest, they are versatile, and there is no ironing …. you have to love that. The fabrics can be temperamental, causing issues with tension, upsetting the delicate feelings of my overlocker, and tending to tunnel on the coverstitch machine.

This pattern has been heavily modified by me. The side seams have been tapered out slightly to give me more hip room (Big 4 patterns just don’t think women have hips I am sure). I have ditched the facing (and the blinking hand sewing of pleating) and cut the front on the fold. The centre front gathering is achieved by using clear elastic, and stretching as I sew …. much quicker. And the neckline is just a simple band, topstitched with my coverstitch machine.

Spotlight fabric ….. oh what a cow to sew.

Slinky knit top - grey Slinky knit top - grey

More spotlight fabric. I think I might try this with a heavier cotton/lycra knit next winter. Maybe it will behave better.

Simplicity 2336

Still, a useful top, versatile for work.

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Jalie Raglan T-shirt

This has fast become my go-to, when it comes to tshirts. I love the raglan sleeves, I love the scooped neckline, I love the sleeve length and I love the hemline. Another pattern that fits almost perfectly out of the packet, which pleases me as well.

I started with this heavy cotton knit, in hindsight, I added width I didn’t need, leaving me with a too wide neckline. A hasty bodge job at the centre front gave me a centre front pleat which wasn’t terrible, but I wasn’t 100% happy with it. This shirt has now gone to charity.

Jalie raglan shirt

The next incarnation was much more successful. A cheap sale fabric from Spotlight, with cotton/jersey binding. This one I was less than fussy with it, and astonishingly, it went together well; the pattern is level, and matches really well. The shirt fits well, and gets good use.

Blue/pink t-shirt Blue/pink t-shirt

This fabric is from Tia Knight, bought when the AU$ was much more forgiving, and then well marinated in the stash. This is another success.

Jalie Tee Shirt Jalie Tee Shirt

I am very happy with the neckline…..
Jalie Tee Shirt

This fabric I bought on a whim, from a destash site. Its an american custom print, wayyyy too expensive, and I only bought enough for the front. But its adorable, and I am quite pleased with the coverstitching on this one.

Jalie Raglan Tee 2 Jalie Raglan tee 2

Jalie Raglan tee

I have at least 6 more pieces of fabric, all pre washed ready for more tshirts – expect to see more.

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Petite Plus Blouse

How long has it been since I have posted a sewing entry?  I have been very slack I know, but its time to get my blog back to its core business; documenting my sewing journey.

Petite Plus Blouse ….. this is going to be my summer mainstay, at least for work.  It fits out of the packet, is smart and comfortably formal, and goes with skirts or pants.  I plan to make a few more of these, but here are last summer’s efforts.

This is vintage rayon, bound with cotton binding.

Perfect Plus blousePerfect Plus blouse

This a lovely crisp poplin, a little pyjama top looking. but not too bad.

Rose blouseRose blouse back

There is also a white cotton/silk one, but obviously I didn’t get around to photographing that one. I will be doing this for all the patterns I have tried over the last couple of months.

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Precious Resources

A news article recently, said that up to half the population of Syria, are being forced from their homeland, by civil war and ISIS.  These people aren’t driven by adventure and the promise of new lands ….. they are persecuted frightened people.  And ISIS see this fear as proof of their power.  Our own government perpetuates and breeds this fear, making out that these refugees are somehow a danger, and are unwanted.  This diminishes us as a country.

To me, to both take away the shameful way we treat these people, and the perception of power to those in the middle east that drive them away, we need to change how we view refugees.

These people aren’t a burden, they are a resource.  They are a precious resource, a source of productivity, diversity and cultural expansion.  Their inclusion in our society can only ever benefit, because they hold value within themselves.  Initially they place extra demand on the public health system, education and housing, but that impact is short term.  In the long term they add to our economic base, they expand the pool of innovation and ideas, they contribute to the wealth of our country.

The middle east loses, because it is driving away its resources.  Diminish the population by half, and you lose manufacturing capability, you lose the capacity to feed and supply your population.  Driving whole families away, loses your future generations, your capacity to support the aged, or to build the country.  A country that drives away its population, faces a future where it will have less political power in the world, where it will struggle to maintain a functioning economy.  In the end it won’t be military intervention that defeats ISIS and other such groups.  It will be economic decline, and they did it to themselves.

My job, in part at least, is possible because of the growing need for education capacity for refugees and their families.  To me, these precious resources should not be feared.  They should be welcomed and treasured.

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Giving for the sake of giving

My sister invited me to be part of a gift exchange, through Facebook. You are assigned a person, are given a comprehensive survey about your person, and then you purchase/source/make gifts for that person, up to a pre-determined amount.  The premise is, that as mothers, we spend so much time caring and thinking about others, that we don’t have time to spoil ourselves, and certainly don’t get spoiled by others.

Here is the gift package I put together for my gift recipient.

peg apron and hilarious bling-ey pegs – made by me

cross body satchel bag – made by me

sleep mask – made by me
a glass tube of miniature paper cranes – made by my daughter (its one of her things, one day I must post about it)
tardis earrings, silly pen and free trade chocolate.

There was also a apron and oven glove set I found when shopping, but I neglected to photo that.

I am not sure what I enjoyed more. Making/sourcing the gifts, or thinking up creative ways to wrap them.
Mama Gift Exchange

I am uncertain about how I feel about being part of this exchange. On one hand, I think its great, to think about, and give to, a person you know little about, for no other reason than to make that person happy. But on the other hand, its all stuff, much of which we don’t need. I have signed up for the Autumn Exchange, so we shall see how that goes.

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A restrained Easter

I have written before, about my habit of going overboard for major events.  My childhood was one of poverty and that meant that xmas, birthdays and easter saw all of us as kids, only receiving the bare minimum, and occasionally … nothing at all.  This translates to me as an adult, often going overboard for my own children.

When the kids were little, I instituted the idea of an easter present as part of our celebration rituals.  These presents were always necessities (pjs and slippers usually) or books.  My idea was, that it would cut back the amount of chocolate my children would eat.  But, it never really worked out that way, because I still fell for all the pretty wrapping and advertising …. my kids end up with a massive amount of chocolate, and presents.

This year, I am being more frugal.  Hubby has a lot of electric vehicle events this year, that will cost in travelling and accommodation.  The dollar is low, so I have to pull back my online fabric purchases.  I am appreciating that the stress of keeping up shopping and managing the household, wasn’t doing me any favours.  And really, the children are older, and just don’t need a huge amount of chocolate.

I have pulled back this year ….. properly.  The children have a few basic, non-fancy easter eggs and a bunny.  They will be placed in some saved paper bags rather than baskets or gift bags.  I have not bought presents at all, and I haven’t bought anything for me or hubby.  We need chocolate even less than the kids.

I am hoping to continue being more sensible with spending this year, hopefully this is a good start.

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And this weeks “astonishing” prize goes to…….

My nephew’s primary school.

Now, working in a school myself, I am well aware of the frustration of losing stuff.  Some parents seem to feel that the loss of an un-named sweater or hat, is somehow the fault of the staff, and that we should down tools, and immediately find the said item.  However, the concept of naming an item seems totally foreign to them.

But, what is even more frustrating, is the school thief.  Children will accidentally take home the occasional hat, lunchbox or special toy.  What is frustrating, is the parent that allows or even encourages the child to keep the item, despite being quite aware that it doesn’t belong to them.

My sister made the most adorable library bag for her son, out of fabric he adored.  And one week into the term, and its been stolen!

It can’t ever be brought back into the school, my nephew would recognise it immediately.  So why allow your child to keep it?  What possible benefit could there be?  Its nasty and horrible, and I wish a thousand times the karma on the parent that allows it.

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