30 April, 2010

Still here

Sheep tracks, originally uploaded by Hazelnutgirl.

Sorry for the lack of posts this week!  Somehow the days have slipped by in a haze of lecture-writing (I've finally got my groove on with those) and at-home days with Hazel who is being very demanding of my time at the moment.  Plus sewing and getting patterns ready and fabric chosen.  Non-bloggy stuff :)  I need to take some photos tomorrow! 

Tonight I've got a very sore toe - a blister gone wrong I think.  Teach me to wear heels, my feet are woefully unused to standing in them (no matter how comfy which these ones are) let alone for an hour straight without much moving while I lecture!  I guess I looked good though.  :-/

Oh I'm a martyr to fashion!  I read somewhere that the higher your level of education the lower your heels and I must say that women tottering along in very high heels at University is something of an oddity so perhaps it's true. I know I mostly live in flats but sometimes I don't want to be sensible!

I had a very interesting conversation with another lecturer about wearing colour.  We both had on very bright coats the other week, hers was leaf green and mine was a peachy-pink.  She commented that we stood out on campus and we both agreed that in general most people were wearing shades of black and grey and white.  I've been noticing this for awhile and know that visitors also comment on this predilection for dark colours in NZ.  So then, being academics and all that, we had to try and figure out why!  I proposed that it was a lack of confidence thing, particularly for women, as I've had numerous women tell me that I'm "so brave" for wearing red. The first time it happened I was floored because to me it's just my favourite colour.  With subsequent comments I began to realise that many women see bright colour as too confronting, too "look at me" to wear. Which is such a shame because it's just colour!  Talk about socialisation... So that was my theory.  Hers was that coloured dye costs more so nice true clear colours in clothes makes them more expensive.  Now that's really interesting because I have noticed in the past that when I see gorgeous colours or prints in clothes they're generally more expensive.  Of course that also comes down to printing processes etc., but it's an interesting take on it.  Would love to hear your opinions on wearing colour and why many people won't!

26 April, 2010

Making, unripping, making again and plans

Wool offcuts

Good morning, hope you all had a lovely weekend! The only thing we really set out to do was to watch our local ANZAC parade but we left too late and only caught the end of the pipe band and the assembled ranks of veterans and armed forces before they went in for the service. Hazel was over the moon about the kilts, the horses and men dressed up in WWI lemon squeezers (which was pretty cool I must say) and her poppy. I do love a good skirl of the pipes so was sad to have missed that. Must be my latent Scots DNA popping up. :)

I'm in the process of making a Lovely Karen Cardigan out of boiled wool but have had to redo a big chunk of it because it was turning out too big! A real PITA but oh so better that way than turning out too small! The picture is the seam allowance being trimmed off by the overlocker. Mat brought home his work macro lens for me to play with. So far I haven't really got the hang of it, other than realising you need extremely good lighting!

I've signed myself up for Elsie Marley's Kid's Clothes Week Challenge between May 10-17, where the aim is to spend an hour a day sewing kid's clothes. Not that I don't sew clothes all the time, but I think I actually might just stop working on anything for Hazel until then, concentrate on me, and then go all out that week. Could be fun! Head over and sign up if you think it sounds interesting.

Then pop over to Indie Tutes to read her fabulous post on sewing clothes kids will actually wear which not only makes makes me feel even more ok about the fact Hazel sometimes rejects what I make, but gives some really great tips on maximising your chances of success!

Thanks to Wee Wonderfuls for putting me on to the Challenge and to Elsie Marley for the link to Indie Tutes :)

20 April, 2010

An amusing little coincidence

When Hazel and I were at Spotlight the other day browsing their quilting fabrics (they're getting some interesting ones in these days) Hazel started up with the "Mummy mummy look look!" and pointing up at one of the top shelves. She couldn't articulate which pattern she liked other than it was nice so I held her up, bracing myself for the inevitable choice of really foul kitten fabric, or twee flowers. But no, she liked this one:

Spotlight fabric

Needless to say I couldn't get it up to the counter fast enough! All the time though, I had this feeling that I'd seen it somewhere before and it was familiar but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I told Hazel and she agreed that it was familiar - which to be honest doesn't carry a lot of weight as she's easily influenced! By the time we got home I was pretty sure it was because it was very similar to a top I'd bought her last year at JK Kids, but when I compared them it was a bit...tenuous.

Spotlight fabric and JK top

I mean, you can see the similarities but they're not THAT similar. But you know, I'm getting old and confused and all that, so I just left it there but still with the nagging feeling. I love that top btw, several people have asked if I've made it because it's so the kind of thing I would make! Hazel told me today when I put it on her and she wanted it off immediately "I just don't like the design of it mummy. I just don't like how it feels on". Where is she getting this from I wonder? Daycare? :P

I went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea and idly glanced at the stove and noticed the tea towel hanging there*. Now tell me, do you think the fabric resembles the Anthropologie tea towel my brother sent me this Christmas?

Spotlight fabric and Anthropologie teatowel

Not half! No wonder we'd had that feeling of familiarity because other than the big Mexican embroidery and the fact the teatowel is on linen, it is the same print. Identical. So calling all Kiwis and Aussies, if you act quickly enough you too can be dressed like an Anthropologie teatowel. Hazel certainly will be! :))

ETA: I showed Mat the fabric when he came home this evening and he took one look at it and before I explained anything he said said "oh, that's the same as the Anthropologie tea towel." Sheesh. My grand reveal ruined by a husband who notices fabric. I've trained him too well...

*Note: it was not ironed at that point. I don't iron tea towels ever, unless I'm about to photograph them and show the world. Then I iron them. What? No. No I'm not presenting an idealised version of my life thank you. I also clean the house before people come over. Is that presenting an idealised version of my life too? ;) I also Photoshopped the tea towel. It's probably come over all faint with the attention...

19 April, 2010

Cute as a button

I'm still working away on my super secret project, I can't believe it's still in progress! There's been a few false starts with it, changes of direction, and a bit of undoing and so it's taking longer than anticipated.  I'm about the start undoing the latest wrong direction, but spurred on by the whole macro thing I thought a few photos were in order first.


I actually really really like the look of these buttons. A lot. But they're just not right for what I have in mind and Mat agrees too.  Hazel, on the other hand, thinks that pink can do no wrong and really wants them to stay.  I'm thinking that after this is done I might do her up an H in buttons or something.  It's quite fun placing them and sewing them, especially since one stitch will do. If only clothing buttons were so quick!

Buttons 2

Tonight I will pick the buttons apart and select a whole new bunch. There are worse jobs than idly picking through buttons.

My rose didn't make it into the finalists of the PW photo competition but I'm still so thrilled it was in Group 2. There were soooo many amazing photographs I was just blown away by some of them. I mean, how on earth do people capture things like beetles emerging from a seed pod?? Most of my group favourites didn't make it into the finalists actually, I guess it's that pesky personal taste thing again :) If the finalists don't move you I highly recommend going through the 5 groups because there's some talented people out there!

Ok, back to Australopithecus afarensis.

16 April, 2010

Bits 'n bobs

A few things that I've neglected to blog about that need to be said:

  1. IMG_2965I finally got the prize(s) from the great Hazelnuts Giveaway finished, many thanks to Vic for being so patient!  She had given me a list of my projects to choose from and I immediately knew that I was going to make the little carry house for her daughter and a pincushion for her.  And then you know what I did?  I sent them off without taking a photo! Aieee!  Luckily she took some for her blog, so you can go over there and check them out.  I should add that if anyone has a 'My Little Pony'-mad daughter three Ponies fit beautifully in the carry house and you can squeeze in 4 in a pinch.  Because sometimes, just sometimes, 3 Ponies aren't enough.  House made from UK lass in US: Fabric dollhouse tutorial.

  2. I've been invited to contribute to The Thrifty Garde Robe and although I haven't got my arse in gear enough to post my shirt refashion there you should all go and visit anyways!  Perhaps this will encourage me to do more of this sort of thing and in fact I do have another refashion partially in the works.  Hazel's not so keen on this one because I forced her to try it on for size when she was trying to watch tv and then I poked her with a pin.  Such shrieks and flailings! Really, you'd think she'd never been poked by a pin before when in fact she HAD, when mum and I fitted her bridesmaid dress 18 months ago.  We obviously didn't poke her hard enough to lodge it in her memory.

  3. If anyone has signed up over at My Sewing Circle and is looking for friends let me know because I'm having a hard time finding people other than just looking through people as they sign up.  I've found a few familiar names but if I've missed you let me know!  I'm Hazelnuts (well der! you say)  I'm hoping they'll put in some sort of notification system when someone friends you, at the moment it's a slightly detatched and impersonal process because they don't know you've done it.

  4. I got to meet another blogger yesterday!  That's always fun.  Turns out that Sarah from Bobby Robin and Kiwi Mummy Blogs and I live in the same neighbourhood, on either side of the main shops. I mean, not even at opposite ends of the place!  I tell you what, being able to discuss blogging and that kind of stuff without a blank stare (or worse rolling of eyes) is brilliant.  Plus I got to pinch the lovely Zoe's chubby little legs.  Hazel had chubby legs too so I get all gushy over them, don't mind me ahem.  Which reminds me, if any other Auckland bloggers want to try for a get-together Sarah's setting one up over at Kiwi Mummy Blogs.

14 April, 2010


And add in a few !!11!!! to boot.

Some of you probably know I'm a big fan of Pioneer Woman and her photography blog (plus the amazing recipes!).  I've recently started entering photos into her photography challenges just because it's a bit fun and I enjoy seeing my photos in a new light as I go through them looking to see if anything matches that week's subject.  This week's is 'Macro'.  I entered this one of an Abraham Darby rose in our garden.

Abraham Darby

and it's one of the semi-finalists (so-to-speak) in her Group 2.  "Breathtaking" she says :)  Eeeeee!

I think the reason I'm so stoked (aside from the fact that I think it's a gorgeous photo and someone else thinks so too) is that in the last few weeks I've decided that our tastes in photos overlap only moderately and I often see photos in the Flickr pool that blow me away that don't turn up in her finalists and some that turn up that I find completely ordinary.  So me liking something is not a guarantee of her liking it by any means.  I wonder if she's been getting some flack from people about not being chosen as she's put a bit of a disclaimer in this latest post.  What a shame that she should have to, for goodness' sake it's HER competition!  Of course it's subjective.  Really, I do wonder about the asshattery that's so obvious around the internet sometimes. It seems to bring out the best and worst of people!  Anyways, I'm sooo thrilled to be in Group 2, and of course I'd be lying if I said I was completely content with that - but actually in large part I am.  Naturally I'd like to win but looking at some of the other entries I'm all "Damn, those are amazing!" so I'm stoked to be included.

12 April, 2010

Sewing from a Japanese craft book: Step-by-step

Since I'm about to make the 'Lola Dress' for Hazel from a Japanese craft book I thought that I'd document the process for anyone out there who is wanting to give it a go themselves. I should preface this by saying that I'm not especially brave, or an incredibly experienced seamstress, or a whizz at diagrams, nor do I read a skerrick of Japanese. So if I can do it so can you!  If you click through to the pictures on Flickr you'll find lots of notes that get specific about various parts of the pattern.

Well first off you need your book. Mine is Clothes for Girls, ISBN 4529044378 / 9784529044370 and I'm making Dress O

Dress O

On the page opposite it says (in English) that the instructions are on p.58

Pattern pieces and layout

So here we have the technical drawing of the dress, as well as the pattern layout which doubles as the list of pattern pieces you need.  The two books I have come with giant fold-out pieces of paper with all the pattern pieces on them a la Burda Style or Ottobre.

pattern sheet

Eeep! I hear you say. Oh yeah, I still feel that way when I open them out. Nothing like lots of lines and Japanese characters to freak your brain out :)  If you'd like to understand the characters better I highly recommend the .pdf from Batty Chan which explains heaps.  But do not panic!  The little legend at the top of sheet B tells me that the pieces for O are in here somewhere

Pattern sheet label

so I look for the English characters and eventually I see them.  It seems that patterns G, I and O are fairly similar and on on the same pieces so that's what I focus in on.   They're circled in red.  Often they'll be roughly grouped together and in a slightly different colour than other pieces.  It still takes some looking though!  You know what pieces you need from the pattern layout diagram, and how many.

Pattern piece identification

Here are the front and back a bit closer up. You can see that it's really quite easy to distinguish the various pieces once you know where they are. If you use Burda or Ottobre you'll be a pro at this already!  In this picture I've noted some of the common symbols. Click over to Flickr to see them and more in note form.

Pattern sheet symbols

Here are my pattern pieces, minus the collar, front band and cuffs because I misplaced them!  You can see I've done them with newsprint. Not ideal but I could just see the lines through it.  I used to have a big roll of Swedish tracing paper and if I'd known that Spotlight was going to stop carrying it I'd have bought 10!  Anyways, newsprint was what I had at the time and it did the job.

Pattern pieces

Like Burda and Ottobre, there aren't seam allowances included on these patterns so you'll need to leave space around the pieces to add that.  We'll cover that in the next post but generally it's 1 to 1.5cm and up to 3cm for hems.  You can see it added in on mine.  Remember to include all the little markings from the pattern, sometimes there can be quite a few depending on what you're making.  I've also marked on the grain and where the pieces are cut on the fold (using more standard notation). I also include the letter and the size its for.

My sewing circle

I just heard about My Sewing Circle via I'm A Ginger Monkey. Of course I had to join up (as Hazelnuts of course)! I posted ages ago about Woven, which looked like it was going to be great, but doesn't seem to have gone anywhere so hopefully this one lives up to its billing as the 'new Ravelry' for sewers! No pressure there My Sewing Circle :P  The categories look very similar for sure which is a good start.

So there I am, come and join and friend me! I'm a bit of a Nigel-no-mates at the moment :) Or maybe a Polly-no-projects...

11 April, 2010

Man's shirt to little girl's dress

Wheee! I'm so excited with how this came out.

Red dress from daddy's shirt

There was a bit of fiddling and unripping required, and the bodice is a bit short at the front, but it looks so cute on her.  Well it would look cuter if she hadn't been so grumpy and unwilling to model! I'm not sure if she'll be that keen to wear it or not, but in this case I don't care - it was the challenge that I was interested in!  Check out the look in this one, 4 going on 14.

The belt is made from a light pink and white striped fabric.  We had picked out a blue print to make the belt from but in the end she decided she wanted this one. I might try and get her to have a blue one as well.  I think the contrasting colours will be the only thing that saves it from looking like a school uniform which is ironic considering she doesn't have to wear one when she starts (sadly).

Red dress from daddy's shirt

The back has a yoke because the shirt did, it really adds to it and in fact I think I like the back more than the front for the lovely way it fits.  The grumpiness comes through in spades in this one, clenched fists and all. I'm such a mean mummy!

Good things about repurposing a shirt:
  • Not having to do buttonholes or front facings.
  • Not having to do hems
  • Not having to do yokes
Not good things about repurposing a shirt:
  • Not having enough fabric
  • Unpicking pockets and labels
As usual I'm bowled over by the great fit of the Japanese pattern books, I mean, look at the shoulders and arms on this!  Beautiful.  Can't wait to make the Lola dress with the pattern and see how it turns out.  I had to bring the bodice of this dress in about 1.5cm on each side at the waist and it's still very loose-fitting so I think the original pattern will be fairly roomy.

10 April, 2010

The Lola Dress

Hazel has asked me to make her a Lola dress and I think the Clothes for Girls dress from my previous post would do perfectly if I added a little sweetheart collar instead of the Nehru one in the pattern. I even have a spotty corduroy in the stash, similar to the middle image.

I'm such a huge fan of Charlie and Lola, not least for the wonderful fabrics that Lauren Child uses, and Lola's fabulous fashion sense :)  If you have preschoolers and you don't know this series, I highly highly recommend it!  They are just utterly charming and I like them as much (or more!) than Hazel does.

09 April, 2010

WIP: The shirtdress

Other than sitting around drinking copious amounts of tea from mugs with cosies on them (not entirely joking there!) I've been nutting out a men's shirt refashion.

It started last week with us assembling a pile of stuff from various cupboards to go down to the local hospice op-shop.  Mat put several shirts out to go, including a nice, though faded, red checked one.

Shirt fabric

In the back of my mind I've had various 'men's shirts refashioned into little girl's dress' projects that were very popular six months ago or so.  Especially this one over at Made.  I guess to be honest I've been waiting for Mat to get rid of a couple shirts so I could try it!  As soon as I had my grubby mitts on the shirt I began to imagine what I'd like it to look like.  The Made one is cute and I've snaffled another shirt that would look nice in that style, but the red called for something else.  The first image that popped into my mind is the cute Oliver + S Jump Rope dress which I've been debating over for a couple months now! I finally bought it on sale from Pink Panda Fabrics (package coming your way mum!) but in the meantime I need to figure this out on my own and am enjoying the challenge!  So anyways, I've got this idea of a shirtdress in my head, maybe with a more gathered skirt to offset the lines and checks a bit.  Hazel has a similar dress in a knit fabric so I thought perhaps that would be a good one to copy. However I'm not sure how the switch from a soft knit to a stiffer cotton would work. I decided to have a look through my Japanese pattern books and the couple Ottobre magazines I have to see if there was anything and although there were a few contenders the closest one I could find was from Clothes for Girls (oh how I love this book!) and I've taken the arms and neck but will change the lower part, add in a belt if I've got enough fabric, and give it a gathered skirt.  So I've got my adapted pattern, my inspiration and my fabric. I'll let you know how I go!

Shirtdress in progress

04 April, 2010

Custom-sized mug cosy tutorial

I finally got around to documenting the very simple process for coming up with a custom-sized cosy for my mug which I wrote about here. I feel a bit silly putting this up in a way because it's so deadly easy but it actually took me a bit of thinking about the first time around, so in case there's anyone out there whose brain works like mine here we go:

Cup cosy 1
You'll need your mug (this one from Szilasi Keramik), a piece of paper and a pencil or pen. I apologise for the extensive materials list but you need to be really prepared for this.

Cup cosy 2

Put the mug in the middle of the paper, nice and straight. For this mug a piece of A4 paper wasn't quite long enough, but once I'd cut it down to the cosy size rather than the whole mug, the narrower shape actually did fit on, just. So if you've got a really huge mug you might need to tape a couple pieces together or use a larger bit of paper. Newspaper would be ideal.

Carefully roll the mug over to one side (I went to the left because it was easier to roll to the right and draw with my right hand at the same time). Don't allow it to wobble or skew, just roll in a smooth arc. If your mug has a handle you'll want to start it from one side of the handle and roll it along to the other side.

Cup cosy 3

Start rolling the mug back to the right, tracing the top and bottom edges as you roll. I traced a bit of the top, then rolled it back and did the bottom and then back to the top and so-on. You can see if you're producing a smooth curve and can realign the mug if you need to. Roll the mug all the way over to the other side of the paper, tracing as you go. When you're done you should have something that looks like this (sorry the pencil line doesn't show so well):

Cup cosy 4

Cut it out along top and bottom curves from the edge of the paper. I folded the pattern in half, matching the ends, and cut it out like that so both sides matched.

Now the step that I forgot to photograph is how you determine how long it should be around your mug. I put the cut pattern on the mug and just pinched the two edges together to get a line that I then cut along. I wanted to have a small gap between the edges so I left it like that, but if you want overlap this is the time to figure that out. In hindsight I should have added maybe .5cm to each edge to compensate for the thickness of the fabric, the gap ended up being a bit wide in the linen version (see below). Obviously if you have a handle on your mug then this gap is where it would go.

I decided that the fabric should be the width of my palm plus thumb, which is about 9cm, so I added 1cm on either side and measured in from the edges of the cup-sized pattern to get the right size. I didn't add seam allowance on the ends, it depends on how much of a gap you want.

Cup cosy 5

Now the bit I have trouble getting my head around is that even though the edge is curved it will look straight on the mug. However, any obvious grain in the fabric will look to be on an angle. You also need to make sure any decorating you do takes this into account.

I made the first one for the red mug in linen with cotton batting sandwiched between and a simple running stitch in red. It's held on with elastic loops and buttons. Love it! It lives in at University on my desk.

Mug cozy in linen

Mug cozy in linen detail

For the other mug I thought I'd try a brighter cosy in orange felt. Same pattern but no seam allowances.

Felt mug cosy

Again the running stitch and buttons with elastic loops, and this time you can see how the lines need to be curved but look straight when it's done up. That concept still ties my brain up in knots. I mean, I understand it on the level of that's obviously what you have to do, but any more thinking about how it then translates to straight-looking lines makes my head hurt for some reason. Which is weird because I'm actually pretty good spatially and with maps etc.

Felt mug cosy

This cosy really sticks to the mug - felt and a matt surface work well together! I've used three layers of felt as I only have thin wool-blend felt, and it could almost be reversible with a hot pink on the other side, but the elastic and buttons are for the orange side. I figure it's a bit like sexy underwear - I know the pink's there :) I may add a third button/loop to try and stop that gaping. Or I may not. I can be reckless like that.

Felt mug cosy

Patterns and sewing not for you? How about this one made from a felted sweater sleeve?  I might blanket-stitch around the top edge, just to get rid of the raw edge, but otherwise making it couldn't have been quicker or more satisfying - just push the mug down into the sleeve and cut.  If you have a handle all you'd need to do is cut a slit and pop the handle through.

Sweater mug cosy

01 April, 2010

Crafting ethics: A summary

The poll's at 111 responses which is pretty good and actually the percentages have generally stayed constant from the beginning which indicates to me that it's representative - of my readers anyways!

What I find most interesting about it is that most people fall smack in the middle of the debate, no-one chose the options that either completely condemned copying or that condoned it.  So despite the rather virulent comments about copying left on some of the blogs, it seems as though most of us are ready to give it a go and everyone is willing to contemplate it, even if we don't go through with it. We're also not big on buying when we think we could make it ourselves!  I think to really judge the mood out there you'd have to do a survey and allow open-ended answers because it's very hard to judge what people think when you only give them a few choices.  However, I get the impression, and it'd be interesting to hear what you all think about it too, that people are fairly happy to copy things they see on the internet with a few conditions. Either they keep it to themselves all private-like (out of shame? I don't know and I actually voted for it!) or they use it as inspiration (I voted for this one too). Not that I'm entirely sure how seperate inspiration and copying really are at times! Based on the 'other' answers, crediting the original designer seems to be considered the right thing to do, though I really stuffed up on #3 and should have made it two, one option with credit and one without.

The two questions that I think are actually most interesting are #5 and 6 because they deal with the grey area surrounding this issue. The others are more clear-cut in their morality, more black and white.  Although I didn't vote for either of those choices I'd have to say that I'd probably come down with a yes for 5 and a no for 6.  Why I would think it's ok for me to copy a big company but not an independent is completely unexplainable in any logical way, does it have to do with helping the little person vs. 'sticking it to the man'? The chances of getting caught by either party? The feeling of being closer to someone who might be a fellow blogger? The fact you know what they look like?  I mean really, if I have qualms about that kind of thing doesn't it suggest that perhaps I have a feeling that I'm stealing?  #6 and the 10% is, from what I can gather, an crafting urban myth. Though that's based on the idea that creators have some control over their product/pattern/idea which appears not to be the case in large part in the States though perhaps not in the rest of the world.

So that's just my very quick take on it and while there were no huge surprises in the results I think it's interesting none-the-less.  Would love to hear your thoughts and comments!  I won't close the poll down, perhaps just pop it in the sidebar somewhere and revist it in a bit.


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