24 May, 2011

I'm alive!

Hmmm...I see from the autofill that I've used that title before, except it was probably more to do with not blogging for awhile than because I was ill.

So according to the doctor I wasn't even deathly ill, which is such a disappointment because I felt so crappy surely I deserve to be congratulated for surviving? But no, apparently they don't really worry about fevers in adults unless your neck gets stiff or you're blindingly ill with it. A 40 degree fever in a kid is serious, in an adult it's more of a "harden up" situation. I may have a "slight" bacterial infection in my lungs, for which I now have antibiotics. Mostly the problem seems to stem from the fact my lungs have decided to behave like I have asthma, even though I don't. It's called reverse airway something or other. I've got an inhaler for that. So no magic cure and I won't be feeling better by dinner. And if the infection is viral then it's purely up to me to deal with the little bastards and I'll be reaming myself out with antibiotics for no good reason.

Speaking of antibiotics, I heard a thing on the radio the other night about  how they're becoming increasingly ineffective and soon we'll be in the 'post-antiobiotic age' - or maybe already are. When they start listing off all the rather nasty things that are resistant it scares the pants off me. When I think of the times I've had antibiotics and they've worked brilliantly and that that might stop... Damn.  So make sure you finish your full courses of antibiotics when you've got them or I'll personally come and hunt you down when I get something that's resistant.

Ok, off to cough up a lung.

23 May, 2011

My sick bed

The view from my bed where I have been confined for the last two days with a high fever and the sensation that someone is sitting on my chest. I'm not sick enough to sleep all day and well enough to get bored. Does anyone know how to tell the difference between a viral chest infection and a bacterial one that's worth taking to the doctor?

ETA: I'm feeling somewhat improved now, my temp has dropped down below 38 and my lungs are working better. I made a doctor's appointment for tomorrow morning, which is probably why I'm feeling better :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

21 May, 2011

House before and after

We had the house painted a couple months ago and I actually remembered to take some before and after photos!

The house hadn't been painted in ages and it really really showed! I think the previous coat was put on badly too, with only one coat in places and I bet they used cheap paint to boot. Luckily our painter Les takes great pride in doing a good job and was very much into proper preparation so while it cost us a bit more than it would have if we'd done it 8 or 9 years ago (when, naturally, we didn't have the money!) we've got a paint job that will last for ages if we maintain it.

The front was seriously unappealing - with huge big camellias on either side of the steps (why did we plant such big ones?), really cheap and dodgy steps that were incredibly slippery in the winter, a trellis sort of thing between the two pillars on the right, and the remains of an old and rusted alarm box to the left of the window on the right. The house was shifted onto the section in the 80s as a spec job I think, so has lost the original front steps, fireplace and chimney (sadly).  You can see some interior shots here.

House before

House front after

Need I say how pleased I am with it now? The steps are still too narrow and ugly, but they blend in with the porch and the whole thing looks smart and more upmarket. Mat and Les were a bit uncertain about painting the deck and stairs but I had this image in my mind and it ended up looking even better than I'd hoped. Les mixed in non-slip stuff with the paint on the steps we don't need to fear slipping down them to get the mail!

The hardest part of the job was finding colours that went with the rather odd reddish-brown of the roof tiles. The red on the window sills really made the whole scheme though, when it went on the whole house just sang. Someone told us that different coloured sills are 'out' now, but I don't really care, it just wouldn't have looked the same without them! In the garden we're going to get some smaller camellias to replace the big ones, and the garden will fill in a bit along the bottom too, it looks a bit scrappy at the moment!

19 May, 2011

What I do in my spare time

My Smurf village, originally uploaded by Hazelnutgirl.

I often wonder what other bloggers are doing when they don't post for awhile - they usually say "life" but I wonder... Me? Well I play Smurfs on my iPhone. No really, I do. I I love my little Smurfs and I've spent an inordinate amount of time arranging my village to look like something I'd like to live in. At the moment I'm working on stone paths but I'm not entirely happy with how they look with my stone walls - something will have to give!

So now you know - when I don't sew or post anything for a few days life hasn't gotten in the way, Smurfs have! If you want to see it bigger (and why wouldn't you?) you'll have to click through to Flickr and view it at the original size.

 Why do I feel like I've just admitted something I shouldn't have? Will this come back to haunt me in 10 years time when I apply for a job?

16 May, 2011

Seam allowance guide review

I finally got to give the seam allowance guide a trial when I was cutting out the items for KCWC - which I feel I've failed at a bit and definitely haven't managed as much as I'd have liked. I have a pinafore 75% done, but never got to the dress or to the leggings I wanted to do. Oh well! (and no, I don't really feel like I failed and I'm off to do a bit of handsewing on the pinny while watching one of the new Sherlock Holmes eps on DVD. Have you seen these? Highly recommend if not! I was pretty skeptical when I go the opportunity to see them at Xmas in Canada but I was sold very quickly!)

So I tried the guide with scissors and with the rotary cutter and it worked pretty well. End of review. Hah! No, it was good but didn't quite have the wow factor I'd half hoped for. Which is totally unfair to the product of course, because it wasn't advertised as promising to increase the wow factor in my life!

The seam allowances it produced were nice and fairly even, although I found that starting off at the edges could be a bit hit-and-miss because the guide doesn't line up with anything for almost one blade-length. I ended up making a small mark to line up with at the start which helped. You can also only go one direction around the pattern piece, which I'm not used to as I tend to cut whichever way is easiest to reach. I had to move myself around the cutting mat which got a bit tricky in places! It was even harder starting off at the first edge with the rotary cutter, but I actually found it easier to be accurate with it, as the scissors tend to skew a bit as you close them and things just looked a bit rougher. The rotary blade seemed to really lend itself to that kind of cutting with a nice smooth action. I found I had to close one eye to reduce the depth perception so I could keep the guide lined up over the pattern edge as it's sitting up a lot higher with a 45mm wheel than it is with a pair of scissors. I probably looked like some sad one-eyed pirate wanna-be while cutting!

I'd say that yes it probably saved me a fair bit of time not having to add on the seam allowances but it wouldn't be as accurate as cutting around a pattern with them added. I definitely wouldn't use it for anything that required super-accuracy (like quilting) or with lots of ins-and-outs and fussy little nips and tucks. It's best saved for simple shapes. It also has limitations on how much of a seam allowance you can add, I think just under 3cm is the maximum. It's not like you have to add more than that very often though. Ummm...oh and the only cutting in one direction thing - but that's more a personal preference for me, I like to swing cut both ways! On the plus side I'm so pleased it'll work with the rotary cutter and hence knits! That is an unexpected bonus for sure.

Bottom line? Considering how inexpensive they are they probably do deserve a place in your sewing kit, especially if you sew frequently from Ottobre, Burda or the Japanese books.

14 May, 2011

KCWC - there has been progress!

And it's my birthday! But that's incidental to this post :) I have been working away on the KCWC stuff, but only got the buttons sewed on this tunic this morning. It's from the Ottobre 1/2010 issue and size 110cm (but 116cm in length - glad I finally came to terms with Ottobre sizing and don't fight that discrepancy between width and length!). I might need to shift the buttons left a bit though, it's ever so slightly tight across the chest.

Chihuahua tunic for KCWC

I was really pleased with the puppy applique, I've never done it before and it went beautifully. I fused the fabric down first, and then went around the edges with zigzag with a tear away stabiliser underneath. As usual the pinks have blown out in the photo, it's just a really deep fuschia, not neon! Styling by Hazel, she also chose all the mismatched buttons and was also quite firm that the puppy had to be pink, not blue as in the image for the pattern. The embroidered eye reflections were my addition as it looked a little creepy and soulless otherwise, and also the line for the muzzle - which isn't quite in the right place but I don't think I can be bothered changing it to make it angle down a bit more.

Chihuahua tunic for KCWC

She seems pretty keen on it so far, which is making my heart happy. So is the birthday cake I just took out of the oven (yum, sultana cake, the Craig family traditional birthday cake) and the new radio/iPhone/CD player Mat and Hazel got me for the kitchen so I can listen to National Radio properly! My old radio was...old, and couldn't keep stations tuned in properly and would fuzz out if someone stood in a particular part of the kitchen or walked past. And now I can listen to all my music on my iPhone, and podcasts for when there's nothing decent on the radio - like on Saturday afternoons.

Chihuahua tunic for KCWC

10 May, 2011

KCWC Day 1

KCWC Day 1, originally uploaded by Hazelnutgirl

I was hoping to have all this pattern tracing and cutting out done by today but have more than spent my allocated hour on it! I'm not adding on the seam allowances which saves a lot of time, but makes me awfully nervous! I'm hoping to get some cutting out done tonight.

I committed the cardinal sin of totally forgetting to prewash the fabrics and only discovered it when I went to grab one to start cutting out. Cue hurried wash and bunging through the drier and a hot iron and they're all good to go. Thank goodness for modern technology sometimes!

I have to say that this is the bit of sewing that I really don't like, it's boring and fiddly and unfortunately totally necessary! I dislike cutting out even more, but again, kind of necessary. It seems to take me an inordinate amount of time, and I don't think it's just that trick that time has where it telescopes out for less desirable tasks! I think I'm too focused on being exact when I don't need to be quite so anal about it. Or maybe I'm just slow. Either way I hate it! Onwards and upwards though. Dad says I should say "Excelsior!" instead - go and read the poem and tell me if he's right.

08 May, 2011

KCWC - the plan

I'm excited about Elsie Marley's Kid's Clothes Week Challenge which starts tomorrow! Well tomorrow for me, which is a day ahead of most people which sounds all fine and dandy because I feel like I'm getting a legal head-start, but then I have to finish a day earlier which is a drag. Perhaps I could have the best of both worlds and start tomorrow on my Monday and finish next Monday because it's everyone's Sunday?

Anyways, this is the plan (all chosen by Hazel):

Puppy tunic (Perkier than a Terrier)

Perkier than a Terrier

Pattern from Ottobre 1/2010 and in a light jean fabric. I'd like to make a tshirt to go with it too, Ottobre have a very cute puppy picture you can download for free and print out on transfer paper. But I have to say I love the blue stripes of the tshirt and splashes of yellow in the skirt in the pattern picture. Hazel's very keen on this top. Very - she's all about the puppies at the moment and would die to have one. Unfortunately for her we already have a cat and I'm not a dog person.


Pattern from Dressy Little Girl -From one piece dress to coat (Onnanoko no oshare fuku) by Araki Yuki, ISBN 4529045269 / 9784529045261 and the fabric is a light cotton. I'm fairly confident about her wearing this one too, she mostly just wears dresses at the moment.


Pinafore dress

The pattern is from Innocent and lovely girls' wear by Mano Akiko, ISBN 457911194X and the fabric is linen. She says she'll wear it but we'll see! I suspect when she sees it made up she won't be keen but it's worth a try!

The two Japanese patterns will be a great time to test out the seam allowance guides that came in the mail this week. I was delighted to discover that they stick on to the middle of a rotary cutter too, so I'm going to test using it both ways.

05 May, 2011

Tissue fitting

In amongst other things, such as (endless and always interrupted) window prep, lecturing, trying to remember to get Hazel to school now that we're back after the holidays, tidying the house for a party we're having this weekend and enduring a whole, WHOLE, evening of talking to our life insurance broker (he's a nice guy but honestly!), I've been doing some tissue fitting on a couple patterns.

The first one is a shirt-dress made from the orange fabric on the left

Spotlight Japanese lawn

I'm using Simplicity 2923, which I bought ages ago so it's nice to finally be using it! I'm making the view top right, and aside from a basic FBA (full bust adjustment) to the princess seams that's all the alterations I've had to do, although based on a review of it I may change those waist pleats to darts, we'll see.

The other pattern I'm working on is Vogue 1194

This one is a bit trickier as along with a FBA on a bodice that has heaps of pleats and no darts, I need to drop the waist several cm. I don't know why I have this issue with Vogue, the same thing cropped up on another pattern too. In this case the empire waist is about half way up my boobs! I don't think I'm particularly long in the upper body but obviously I am compared to whatever they base their measurements on. I'm going to do a practice dress in a rather loud pink and purple spotted/striped knit I bought awhile ago. Not sure why exactly but it's coming into its own now!

When I went to the various websites to find the links to the patterns I came across this dress that is gorgeous but I'm not sure about many patterns altogether! Of course, that's part of the charm too.

I also found this Vintage Vogue that I've had my eye on for awhile, but I'm not sure if it would suit someone with boobs and hips. I love that jacket though!

I noticed that Spotlight has some more nice prints in, these were labled as being for 'retro' dresses. I was very very tempted by one that looked a bit like dandelions but then realised they were polycotton, heavy on the poly. Makes for a nice price but not such a nice feel. But still, kind of tempting!


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