Monday 31 January 2011


The Cheater's Pettiskirt

cheat pettiskirt close

The day after we returned from the States I had the rare pleasure of fabric shopping, outside the confines of my house, with another human who is actually enthusiastic about fabric. I'm not sure if that's ever happened before. Overfraught with excitement about meeting Emmy, being outside of my house, and fabric shopping I bought some pre-ruffled fabric thinking it'd be an easy way to make Maia a cheater's pettiskirt. Let's blame jet lag (again).

cheat pettiskirt full

In my head, it looked so nice. In actual fact, I was a little bit grateful when Maia peed on it so I could take it off.

'How Mum felt about the skirt whilst sewing and also when finished' by Maia, aged 3

Sunday 30 January 2011


The Year of The Gadget

ipad sleeve full

In a major bout of avarice, we treated ourselves to an Ipad on our hols. Yes, I know, I got a spiffy new smart phone recently. And was gifted a Kindle for Christmas. Do you think if I make them all cases they count as business expenses?

ipad sleeve zippered pocket

It was hard to decide on a fabric but in the end I concluded that geeky things should be covered in more geeky things. As you can see, I wasn't willing to part with enough of my geeky fabric to make the back of the cover. Red twill is fine. I added a zippered compartment for cables and the twelve credit cards required to purchase all the apps I need.

ipad sleeve panel

I wasted a day of my life trying to track down funky-printed neoprene but the search was not fruitful (even plain neoprene is hideously expensive), and although I was sorely vaguely tempted to buy a heat press and sublimate print neoprene myself, that would have made the case more expensive than the Ipad itself. Which is saying something.

ipad sleeve bendy

I did come up with a solution to my neoprene-induced conundrum, however. Doesn't the picture above look a little bit bendy? As it turns out, craft neoprene is neither hideously expensive nor hard to track down and other than not having fabric fused to it I think it's the same thing! Using a second fabric, I made a rectangular pocket in the cover, slipped a piece of neoprene in and sewed around it so it doesn't shift. Et freaking voila.

Friday 28 January 2011


Does Child Protection actually endanger our children?

Strange and frustrating week, guys. As I've mentioned before, Maia has had recurrent Urinary Tract Infections and this week we had an ultrasound and a renal consultation to discuss the issue. Thankfully the ultrasound showed that there is no physiological reason for her infections, and neither was there damage from her previous infections. Good news. What they did say, however, that the lab results from her previous infections showed that they were caused by poor wiping technique, i.e. E Coli (!) bacteria from the back was making it's way into her urethra. Armed with a lot of information about how to prevent future infections (most importantly good hygiene), I spoke to her nursery and asked for their help in making sure she always wipes properly.

Apparently, Child Protection guidelines prevent the nursery staff from physically helping the children in the toilet to protect the staff from allegations of improper touching. They have agreed to encourage her to wipe properly, from a distance. Which is something. But does anyone else see the irony here? That a Child Protection policy that forces children to control their own hygiene (at three years old) might endanger them when they aren't able to do a good enough job? I've been taking advice from the council this morning, and have another meeting with the nursery manager next week. Maybe a compromise will be possible, I'm not giving up yet.

What do you think?

Wednesday 26 January 2011


Ottobre says 'Party at the Back'

A slightly surreal issue of Ottobre this quarter. Things are different across the channel, I'm sure of it. Some of the differences are very good:

Less gendered designs and colour palette, hooray!

Unusual detailing, hooray!

Things I would wear myself, hooray! No, truly, this is almost the same as the woman's one I still haven't made. And yet...

By virtue of being Continental, I am inclined to allow them a handful of WTF outfits per magazine. Harem trousers would probably be cute on a baby. And practical.

But I cannot get behind them on people who are bi-ped.

Ruffles: in and of themselves not alarming, but I find the fervor with with they are embraced in 'Euro-fashion' alarming. Especially 'Euro-fashion' as interpreted by Americans. Ruffles only to the back of a shirt? A stepping stone towards hard-core weirdness.

Yes, that cardigan is on backwards; it can be worn either way. Anything can be worn either way. But people will think you're mental. Probably even in Europe.

Any dissenters in the ranks? Do you rock your cardigans backwards?

Tuesday 25 January 2011


Death match: My Subconscious vs My Kindle

My new Kindle is so beautiful and glorious that it deserves a protective sheath of kitten fur and 24 carat gold thread, hand-sewn by Vestal Virgins. I have put off the making of a cover knowing I am unworthy of the task of it's sacred protection. Instead I cradle it in mine hands, and to my chest, and to my face and whisper, 'It's okay, Kindle. I will not take you out of my house. We are safe here together.' My subconsious whispers back, 'You can't stay in forever. Go on, make a cover...'

'...Use that leather you don't like. The one that was supposed to be mint green but is actually somewhere between grey and tan? And then combine it with a fabric on the top of your Meh List! They almost go together, you'll see. Go on... draft your own pattern, you are the Master Pattern Drafter! No, no, you don't need seam allowances, they are for wusses. Hold on, can you pass the seam ripper? Thanks. Shhhh, ignore the noise of the machine. I know it needs a service, you only tell me every freaking day. Can you pass the seam ripper again? Thanks. Okay, just a bit more stitching the try to get those leather seam allowances to stay down. Right, we're done. Now do you hate your Kindle? Are you ready to put it down and move on with your life?'

Nice try, subconscious.

Monday 24 January 2011


What's the time, Mr Wolf? Swoon O'clock

I do like to torment you guys. Sixteen days back in the UK and not a peep on fabric acquisitions. Before frustrated followers start fleeing in their droves, I bring you Christmas Haul.

My love of Itty Bitty Chairs is well established but besides restocking sorbet and orchid colourways, I've added the grass colourway.

Retro offerings featuring video game prints and cassette tapes. Yes, I have used the cassette fabric before but it was not a product of my own stash. I could not let that injustice continue.

Sadly, I wasn't really feeling the love with a lot of fabric on this trip (probably because there weren't very many new collections since my summer haul), but I do really love these Urban Circus prints from Laurie Wishbrun.

For the very first time, the majority of my fabric buying was from organic lines. The ones above are from Monaluna and I was dev-a-stated that the fabric shop was out of scooters in teal. Don't get me wrong, scooters in pink are great, but my feelings towards the teal are tantamount to chasing the dragon.

These are the Cloud9 organics I bought. I toyed with the idea of purchasing the flannels but I heard a rumour that it'll be spring at some point. If I'm honest, I'm a little bit 'meh' about these ones. Going to have to wait until they're used for sewing before I prevaricate on that stance.

I am the opposite of 'meh' about these Birch organics. The colours are divine, the handle crisp, the details lovely. Go on, click on that picture to see them in all their glory. Awesome.

So... who wants to stab me for what?

Sunday 23 January 2011


Tutorial: Fifteen Minute Envelope Pillow Covers

Since we've been back from our trip I've been feverishly re-dedicating all of my time to Operation: Save Our Collective Lives. With the living room completed over the summer, and the kitchen shortly after, I've now turned my attention to the kids' room and it's becoming a time-and-money-eating-must-make-everything-uber-project. Although with all of the furniture now assembled, disassembled and/or be-garaged I've finally moved onto the sewing phase. So only seven months after I promised, I present you The Easiest Pillow Covers in the World tutorial.

  • Gather your materials. You're going to need a pre-filled pillow, half a metre of fabric and some velcro.
  • Measure your pillow. Mine is 50cm x 50 cm so I'm going to have one square of fabric these exact dimensions: And two rectangles that are 29cm x 50cm (the 29cm being slightly over half of 50cm). If you're using a different sized pillow a good rule for height is half of original height plus 4cm: I wanted my pillow covers to be pretty loose, but if you want a puffier pillow and a tighter case use dimensions slightly smaller than your actual pillow (and also a longer strip of Velcro to stop it gapping).
  • Edge finish one of the long sides of both of your rectangles. I used a serger but an overcasting or zigzag stitch on a regular machine is fine.
  • On one of your rectangles, fold down about an inch of the finished edge to the wrong side of your fabric and press.
  • Stitch the fold down close to the edge.
  • Fold the rectangle in half and place a pin to mark centre. Centre a two inch piece of Velcro on the fold.
  • Sew a box around your Velcro to secure it.
  • Fold your other rectangle in half and place a pin at the centre. On the right side of the fabric, centre the other strip of Velcro about half an inch down from the edge.
  • Sew a box around this piece to secure as well.
  • Lay your big square piece out with the right side facing up. Put your rectangle with the fold on top of the square, right sides facing and align their edges. Put your other rectangle without the fold along the opposite side (also right sides facing), and align these edges as well. The velcro bits will attach. Pin all the layers together so they don't shift.
  • Sew all the way around the square on all four sides.
  • Turn right side out and fill with your pre-filled pillow. You're done!

Friday 21 January 2011


A badge for all occassions

Just before Christmas I was the ecstatic recipient of a haul of bespoke badges from the brilliant Apryl of Meridian Arial.

If you were to make a word wall of all the thoughts that go through my head on any given day, this phrase would be the biggest and boldest. Except for the swearing, Mom. Promise.

Fact: you can't have a full set of awesome badges without an Eric Northman quote.

I might have to de-geek this one for you normal folk: 'I less than three' = 'I <3' = 'I heart'. It's a whole new world, guys, a whole new world.

Can you think of a single time that it wouldn't be appropriate to wear this badge (other than after your kids can read)? Airport security- check. The bank- check. Buying groceries- check. Committee meetings- check. I didn't think so.

Wednesday 19 January 2011


Christmas Sneaky Peaks revealed

USA trip Christmas 2010 094

I honestly don't know how you all coped with the suspense of not knowing the true nature of my Christmas Sneaky Peaks for one whole month. Vicodin probably. The desperate amongst you might have used your legendary powers of deduction to conclude: those are all things that she makes all the time, for everybody. And you'd be right.

USA trip Christmas 2010 092

Sneaky Peak #1 was a Christmas pettiskirt for the girl, and her cousin. To clarify: they each got one, it was not to share. The mesh has little polkadots incorporated into the weave, and it's three layers of mesh and one layer of red cotton lycra. They are unfeasibly heavy.

Abstract print cowl dress

Sneaky Peak #2 was an abstract print cowl dress for the Original Best Friend Experience. In the strangest swap I've participated in to date, I received a cranio-sacral therapy treatment in return. I did not wear my cowl dress but we have plans to meet up again in the summer, and she will probably want to matching clothes then. I will keep you posted.

purple chair dress 005

Sneaky Peak #3 was a tunic for my niece. In one of the saddest emails of my life, my sister in law told me before Christmas that Isla (previously Kitschy Coo's Next Top Model) had become very picky about clothes selection and had one specific request: A purple dress with long sleeves. Her mother negotiated a sparing use of print, and the trusty chairs came out.

USA trip Christmas 2010 210

I regretably did not get a modelled pic, but here she is having a Shiny Hair Competition with Maia.

washbag full

Sneaky Peak #4 was yet another leather wash bag, this time for my father in law. Massive apologies to all the people on Facebook that thought the small sneaky peak picture looked like a leather bustier complete with heaving bosoms. And apologies to those who thought it looked like leather trousers with a zip down the bum crack. Both of those would have been infinitely better for everyone except my father in law.

USA trip Christmas 2010 122

And finally, blessed Sneaky Peak #5. You know how some people say 'My mom is my best friend'? Unless they are wearing matching cowl dresses like real best friends do, they're lying.

Tuesday 18 January 2011


Bless me, Blogger, for I have sinned. It has been twenty four days since my last confession.

Size one

Well, goodness. Sorry about the lengthy hiatus. For those of you not au fait with the intricacies of my life, the majority of that time was spent with my family in the States but the remainder has been spent trying to get my act together and do 10,000 things I don't want to do.

Not pictured: Things I want to do

A Big Girl conglomeration of complaining to various companies for being hateful, form-filling, lots of things involving doctors, even more things involving screwdrivers, a steady stream of money going in the wrong direction, an intense cardiovascular programme based on trips to the garage carrying increasingly awkward things, and meetings, and emails about meetings, and the resultant meetings about meetings both past and present, and meetings we might have in future to be planned in email. None of it involves dorky gingerbread houses.


Which is unfortunate. Because I am infinitely better at the things I want to do.

Side two

And so endeth my obligitory post-holiday-mid-homesick whinge. Things are returning to normal, progress is being made, and hopefully I'll be back at my machines soon. Sewing myself a sense of humour.

Attention all lovers of schadenfreude: who thinks I can make a bean bag couch?