Sunday, 25 April 2010

Appearances can be deceptive...

Here is Munchkin in a new top I've made - the Ofelia pattern from Patterns by Figgy's. It was quick and easy to sew, and as it's made from a cotton lawn I was fancy and did French seams (ooh la la!) because it's such fine fabric. I *heart* the trim very much, and it goes perfectly with the print on the fabric. The pattern also includes bloomers, which I'll make up some time next week in some soft denim I've bought. The other pictures are of a top I've made for a friend's little girl as a present - I know it looks teeny, but that's just the elastic bunching up round the neck!

Munchkin looks pretty harmless in these pictures, right? A little gormless maybe, and not very well dressed, but fairly innocent. Wrong. The only way I could take photos of her in the top was to turn the TV on, hence the spaced out expressions as she stands rapt in front of Fifi and the Flowertots.
She has begun reciting a list of demands before getting into her cot each night, which has turned into some sort of 'Rider' - tissue, Pinkie / teletubbie / dolly (basically whichever teddy bear or soft toy is downstairs under a big pile of things which means you have to look for it for five minutes), daddy, hug, sat down hug (a hug whilst sitting on the futon sofa in her room), music (wind up mobile over her cot), and the ultimate demand usually shouted in desperation as I'm leaving the room: eyes (wipe her eyes with a tissue, although I still haven't worked out the purpose of this, other than to delay bed time).

She is becoming very bossy, with Mr Gizmo the cat usually on the receiving end - 'Geemo, tie-et!' (Gizmo, quiet), although mr pickledweasel was targeted yesterday when we were driving through an area where there had been muck spreading and the air was a little whiffy. She said, very sternly, 'Daddy! Bottom pooey!'

We have recently had spates of foot stamping, screaming till she's red in the face, writhing on the floor in anguish, and the classic rigid body pose that means you can't physically put her in a car seat / pushchair. So why all the bad behaviour? She's obviously practicing - it's her 2nd birthday in two and a half weeks :)

Sunday, 18 April 2010

The revised Thirty Minute But Not on Sundays Pledge

As you can tell from the title of this post, my thirty minute pledge doesn't quite work. I agree with the idea in principle, and I did get a lot of things accomplished in the time I reclaimed from the life-eating interwebs:

Monday - I watched Doctor Who. Which sounds like another waste of time, but pre-pledge I would have watched it with the laptop on my lap, not really concentrated, and then annoyed mr pickledweasel by asking questions about the plot because I didn't know what was going on. I also did some work on my pattern draft for my final project for college.

Tuesday - This was a bit of a write-off as I was at work til 9pm, so by the time I got home and had a catch up with mr pickled weasel and a cup of tea, it was time for bed.

Wednesday - I finished sewing a project from One Yard Wonders that I'd started the day before during Munchkin's nap time. It was an apron that folded into a bag, and it's not really worth blogging about because a) I was making it for a five year old, but it's come out far too small and b) It was plagued with the usual lack of diagrams and difficult to decipher instructions that have been a feature of all my other One Yard Wonders projects, and I'm fed up with moaning about that book. So it's gone to grandma pickled weasel's as a craft apron for Munchkin.

Thursday - I started sewing a top for Munchkin using the Ofelia pattern from Patterns By Figgys. After the neck-facing stress I'd had, they very kindly sent me this pattern for free, and I'm slowly working my way through it. It has the french seam option, like the hoodie, and as I'm using a really fine Liberty lawn for the top, I thought I'd do it properly.

Friday - I ran around like a headless chicken getting ready for some friends to come and stay for the weekend.

Saturday - Went up a castle, drank wine, played a 1970's stock exchange based board game.*

Sunday - Walked round a bit of a reservoir, had pie, drank tea.*

I had completely forgotten that I usually spend about 30 minutes on the internet when munchkin has her daytime nap, so I cut that out as well and found another extra bit of time in the day for sewing / housework.

I found the whole week quite difficult, which makes me sound like a bit of an addict. Remaining focused and not wandering down a path of links from one site to another required a lot of concentration. Thirty minutes might sound like a reasonable amount of time, but it's really not very long at all. And some days I felt quite isolated - the internet time I had when Munchkin was napping was usually spent doing sociable things like chatting on Facebook, posting on forums or replying to emails from friends. On the days where munchkin and I spent much of our time on our own, with no play group or visits to grandma pickledweasel's house, I missed that contact, even if it was virtual.

There were also two internet based 'tasks' that I just couldn't fit into my 30 minutes. Surveys - I'm signed up to a number of market research companies, and do online surveys. Yes, yes, I know it sounds very sad, but surveys mean points, and points mean Amazon vouchers. My most recent voucher paid for Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons, and Design-It-Yourself Clothes by Cal Patch. So there. And job hunting. I have eleven different websites I check on an ad hoc basis for potential job opportunities, and it's just not possible to search them all in 30 minutes.

So my new revised pledge is to allow myself 30 minutes internet per day, apart from Sundays, which are 'free days'. Mr pickledweasel has to get up at 5am on Mondays, so goes to bed by about 9pm on Sunday nights. Mr pickledweasel in bed = no sewing with my noisy old sewing machine, so I may as well do my surveys and job searches then. Bon Salamander! Everyone's a winner. Is anyone else inspired by my internet detox, or are you still all in denial?

* Ok, so these aren't things that I did because I wasn't on the internet, but they make my life sound a bit more interesting :)

Sunday, 11 April 2010

The Thirty Minute Pledge.

The interweb is eating my life. Look, here he is, chewing on my arm.

I can easily waste an evening jumping from Facebook to a blog to a fabric shop to another blog to icanhascheezburger to eBay to another blog to Burdastyle to another blog to Etsy to Amazon to another blog to net-a-porter and back to Facebook again. And then it's time for bed, and I haven't really achieved anything apart from bookmark another 32 projects to add to my ridiculous 'to do' list and made myself sad because I can't afford any fabric / books / patterns / designer handbags.

As from tomorrow this will no longer happen, as I'm taking a 30 minute pledge. I will be allowed 30 minutes internet time per day. Hopefully this will let me reclaim at least an hour of time per evening that I can use for sewing or pattern drafting, which means I'll get an extra 7 hours crafting time per week. That's like having a whole nother day!

I figure 30 minutes is enough to check emails, have a quick scan of my favourite blogs, and get anything else important done. As for writing blog posts, I'll be drafting them on paper initially, and then typing them up when they're finished. I know, it's very retro-chic, n'est ce pas? As I only blog once or twice a week it should be quite easy to do. If I'm short of time I might just scan the draft and post it as a picture :)

Does anyone fancy joining me in my thirty minute pledge? Just to show you how productive it can be, for the first week I'm going to log all the things I do with my reclaimed 7 hours. But for now, I'm off to enjoy my last evening of unlimited interweb access. If you need me, I'll be playing Bejewelled.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Pinafore mania

I am in love (again, I'm always in love with something or other, whether it's fabric or mr pickled weasel) with this little pinafore.

I went to Sewing for Pleasure at the NEC last Sunday and found a stall selling Australian craft magazines. I was chatting to the nice man and flicking through one called Homepsun, and saw this project for a pinafore dress with a Matryoshka applique on the front and back. It was pretty late in the day and I had been looking for a pattern to buy but hadn't found one, so splashed out just over a fiver on the magazine instead.

Earlier in the day I had very conveniently bought a metre of this fab Michael Miller fabric with the words, 'Ooooh, I'll make a dress for Munchkin with this!'. It was obviously destiny. It's lined with the last of my pink heavy weight slightly stretchy embroidered cotton - the remnant I bought cost 90p and has been used as lining for three tunic tops as well as this dress, so has been completely bargainous.

Brilliantly the pattern was in three sizes, 0-1, 2-3 and 4-5, and was very easy to follow with lovely straightforward instructions. I am intending to make the Matryoshka version, I'm just waiting for a trip to the magic fabric shop so I can get some cord, and I think I'll be sewing a couple as presents as well.

And yes, dear reader, I have done buttonholes. BUTTON-FLIPPIN-HOLES!!!!1!1!!! We still haven't done them at college (don't get me started), but amongst the other bits and bats I bought at the NEC was a book entitled 'How to Make Buttonholes and Pockets' published in 1960, and that, along with my sewing machine manual, helped me master them. There's no stopping me now folks! There'll be buttons on everything, mark my words :)

Sorry you can't see the dress very well, munchkin was having a bit of a supermodel tantrum, and I only managed to get these photos with the assistance of the lovely grandma pickledweasel who you can see in the background.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Happy Easter Peeps!

Hope you're having fun whatever you're doing, and remember, no chocolate before 11 am :)

Friday, 2 April 2010

Beach Bum Hoodie - Patterns by Figgy's

I have been looking for a decent boys pattern for a while. I'm not quite advanced enough to start drafting things myself, but while I work at getting to that level I wanted to make some clothes as presents for little fellas that I know. I found this pattern slightly randomly - Shelly from Patterns by Figgys was taking the same one day online class from Craftypod as me, and I started having a browse around her blog and then her shop.

The pattern came really quickly, considering it was from the States, and was beautifully packaged. The pattern and instruction booklet were in an envelope, which in turn was in a sturdy plastic bag with a resealable top, which meant when I had traced the pattern pieces off onto greaseproof paper I could keep them safely with the pattern in the plastic bag. Hurrah!

I got on OK tracing the pattern off, although I think there were some blips in the printing, as some of the patterned lines for the different sizes were wrong. I wanted to do a dummy run first, so I decided to make a hoodie for Munchkin out of some cotton / linen blend I'd had sitting in a drawer. Although it's marketed as a boy pattern, it works just as well for girls.

It took me a while to put together, and there was a bit of seam ripping and re-pinning going on. This was partly due to my lack of experience (it's rated three and a half thimbles, which would make it intermediate), and also partly because of a lack of diagrams in the instructions. Although I must admit, I am a diagrammy person, and ideally I like photos of each individual step so I know that what I'm doing looks right, so I think for a slightly more experienced sewer the instructions would be fine.
I really struggled with the facing on the neck, and had to email Patterns by Figgys for help (and Karen and Shelly replied very promptly, thank you!) and eventually I got grandma pickledweasel to show me what to do. I got there, but the end result looks terrible on the inside. I'm going to do a practice sample of the neck again before I make it as a present so that I can get it right. Fortunately Munchkin is not remotely bothered about neck facings and their neatness, so I've got away with it :)

The USP of the pattern is the seams. Karen, who helped create the pattern with Shelly, has a super-sensitive son who doesn't like scratchy clothing, so all of the seams are enclosed in some way. I found that this made for some pretty bulky sewing at times, especially when hemming the sleeves and main body of the hoodie, as the arms and sides have french seams. It does look very neat though. I especially liked the yokes on the shoulders - you sew the shoulder seams wrong sides facing and then top stitch the yokes on, which keeps everything smooth. Definitely a technique I'd use again.

I think I'll make a few adjustments when I next use the pattern. The sizing isn't very generous - I made the 2/3 for Munchkin, and I'd say she'll only get one summer's wear out of it, even though she's only 23 months (and an average 23 months at that, she's no giant). One way round that would be to have basic seams instead of french ones. That way you'd gain a bit more room across the chest and on the arms. I'd like it longer in the body too. I'm going to unpick the bottom hem and sew on an extra band of fabric just so it comes to below Munchkin's crotch. The hood is mahoooosive! It really is huge, and I think it makes the rest of the hoodie look out of proportion, especially with it being a bit short in the body. I'll do a bit of a Frankenstein and use the hood from Heidiandfinns' pattern instead, which is still quite generous, but much more in proportion.

Obviously Munchkin's little photo shoot isn't really representative of the context it's meant to be worn in.... you'll have to imagine her running round a beach with a spade in her hand and the sun shining rather than standing on a windowsill with a woolly polo neck underneath :)