“You see these eyes, they’re old eyes. And one thing I can tell you, Alex: monsters are real.”*

To be read in the voice of David Attenborough:

New Zealand is a small nation of islands with a short but rich history of strange and unique creatures. Many readers will be familiar with this countries flightless national symbol, the Kiwi, and maybe even its extinct ancestor, the giant Moa.

Amongst the more interesting and sometimes frightening looking specimens are Tuatara, living fossils who lived alongside dinosaurs 220 million years ago, and the completely harmless, although it doesn’t look it, Wētā.

Even with all this native strangeness few ever imagined that New Zealand could also be sanctuary to Gru novaezelandiae, more commonly known as Domo-kun, and up until recently this was the only known photograph ever taken of one in the wild.

Little is know about this mysterious creature but in the last few months we have been lucky to travel deep into the New Zealand bush to investigate the possibility of its existence and we were fortunate to get a glimpse of what was previously thought only rumour.

We followed this shy creature for several hours, gradually getting closer as it grew more comfortable with our presence.

It was as curious about us as we were of it and eventually it grew bold enough to show itself in the open.

Fascinating!

This is of course Domo-kun, official mascot of Japan’s public broadcaster NHK, and I am very proud of him.

He was a requested project by someone who wishes to remain anonymous but let’s just say said person likes to watch nerdy things on YouTube and in one such video there was a giant furry Domo-kun in the background and a plan was formulated.

The initial idea was to find some faux fur, or perhaps a chunky fleece but the colour was just as important as the texture. Domo-kun’s pelt is very specific.

The hunt began at Spotlight in the city and then The Fabric Warehouse next door which both had nothing suitable. Next stop was Pete’s Emporium in Porirua, a large store of ridiculously random and often surprising merchandise. They had a lot of fur but nothing quite the right shade of Domo-kun brown.

As a last resort we went into the Porirua Spotlight which is planned such that the shortest route to the fabric (one must ALWAYS take the shortest route in a Spotlight store) is via Manchester and its various discount bins…where I was immediately drawn to some hideously textured towels in a hue that could only be described as Domo-kun Brown (Spotlight called them “Espresso but “Poo Brown” if also accurate). My accomplice also stopped, staring at the towels (which I was now petting) and we exchanged a grin.

We had found our Domo-kun pelt.

We added some red and white felt for the mouth, the biggest black plastic eyes we could find and a bag of hobby fill. We were ready to bring Domo-kun to life.

Back at home we selected a good Domo-kun outline from the internet and used the eyes to scale up as a pattern.

It was not quite as big as my accomplice wanted but big enough far as I was concerned.

I winged the construction so I’ll mostly let the photos speak for themselves:

I started with the mouth, attaching white felt triangle teeth to the red felt, then self faced the mouth opening with extra towel.

Domo fur gets everywhere!

The thickness was an issue to begin with but top-stitching around the opening created a subtle “lip” effect which was actually perfect…I did break two brand new needles doing it.

I added the eyes next, reinforcing them with small squares or towel behind.

Harri helped a lot as usual.

I was initially going to insert the pre-stuffed arms in the front side seam but my accomplice convinced me I had to find a better way so I split the side panels horizontally above and below the arm placement and then split the center portion vertically.

It was a lot of fun to sew all these seams with fully stuffed Doro arms flapping about but in the end it worked really well and made the arms more expressive and posable.

Attaching the sides was really easy except for between the legs where I broke a third needle while trying to maneuver the thick toweling and machine foot in the tight, erm, crotch area.

I left a small opening in one side for turning and we were ready to stuff.

He didn’t look like much after I turned him through but as I began to fill him with his fluffy polyester guts he really began to come alive and my accomplice was getting very excited.

I packed him quite densely so that he could stand up alone and then hand stitched the opening closed.

And that’s the story of Domo-kun who is highly prized and, weirdly, of everything I’ve made, is the creation that I have to defend the most. This blog post will hopefully help me convince people with the photographic evidence that I did actually make him!

I feel like something’s watching me…

THE DEETS:

Pattern – My own

Fabric & Notions - 

  • 2 x “Luxury Combed Towel – Espresso” $9.88
  • 1/2 sheet of red felt $0.82
  • 1/3 sheet white adhesive felt $ 1.09
  • 2 x eyes $ 0.82
  • 2/3 bag of Hobby Fill $6.58

Total cost: NZD$19.19

Domokun

*Night Terrors – Doctor Who (S06.E09)

“In which aisle can I find your kitten-proof rubbish bins?”

indie badgeI had a super busy weekend but I did get to do some sewing…and some of it was even for me!

Nerdy Husband is so happy with his merino top that he has requested more. At the moment he is working outside for his job and since it is winter it means he is wearing it everyday. I made him a second one in charcoal grey last month but that still means I have to wash them both every 2 days so on Saturday I was taken fabric shopping (squeee!) and more merino was bought. Global Fabrics had it on special at $20 a meter which means I can make his merinos for about $30 each, that is super cheap!

Then we went rubbish bin shopping.

I know right! Fabric shopping AND rubbish bin shopping in one day? I am a lucky woman ;)

The problem is that Harri thinks it’s hilarious to jump into my open-topped rubbish bin in my sewing room and then play in it. Sometimes she just tips it over to play with the contents. Just that morning we were in the kitchen eating brekkie and she trotted in with a paper scrap in her mouth that looked distinctly sewing related.

This is OK if it’s just paper but, as we have already discovered, she really likes thread. She munches on the offcuts and scraps from my overlocker catch bin and I worry she will swallow some and that would be bad. It also means I have nowhere to throw away sharp things like bent pins and old rotary blades. I’ve been putting them in the kitchen bin but one day I’ll forget and she will jab or cut her paw when she jumps in! So the kitten-proofing of the sewing room continues and a pedal bin (green with white polka dots) was purchased and success! It is kitten proof…but not the box it came in ;)

Rubbish bin box, not very kitten proof!

I swear I did not put her there. I turned around from unwrapping the bin and she was looking out at me, true to the Scottish Fold breed, she loves her boxes!

I spent the rest of Saturday cutting out my top secret project:

Then on Sunday the merino tops began, I bought enough fabric for three of them and whipped them up production-line style because I knew that if I made them one at a time I would get halfway through the second one and be super bored and want to stop. So instead I cut all three out first, then attached all the arms.

Next came the decorative top stitching (faux-coverstitch). This is the part that takes the longest, after racing along on the overlocker, switching to the Elna feels so slooooow! To make that stitch formation it feels like 1 stitch forward, 2 stitches back! But I did it!

Then arm/side seams followed by collars and finally hemming, phew!

NH was impressed with his instant merino wardrobe, his next request?

Hey you know this hoodie I’m wearing…

Sigh! ;)

Before I could move onto some me-sewing I had to give my cutting table a good clean:

Argh, Merino fluff! Everywhere!

And then finally! I got to work on my Lady Grey, with Harri’s help of course.

This is actually a really good photo of the wool which is black but with a chunky weave that’s hard to photograph:

We loves watching the bit that goes up and down

So this is as far as I got before it became too dark to sew black (must address the lighting in my sewing room!)

Look at all that fraying!

The shell is assembled, seams top-stitched. No sleeves yet but I am already really excited for the final garment. I love the vintage feel to this pattern and I think it will be super flattering and girly with the big lapels and twirly bottom.

Tonight I will make dent in the top secret sewing project stitching. I have to dig out the appropriate coloured thread and then remember how to set my overlocker up for rolled hems. I want to get some tricky and potentially monotonous finishing done first, then I’ll begin to assemble the rest.

Make sure you pop over to Kat’s blog next and check out her interview with indie pattern label Sinbad and Sailor.

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The strange things I sew for my husband…

Every now and again Nerdy Husband likes to throw me a sewing curve ball. It’s always a good challenge and I truly appreciate his confidence in my sewing abilities.

But first, I realised while drafting up this post, that the NRHS Merino Top is not the first thing I have sewn for NH in recent times. I made a suit jacket for him once, it wasn’t what I would call 100% successful but it was great for me in terms of stepping up my technical sewing skills. It deserves a post all of its own and so it shall have it, at a later date.

The previous RNHS has all revolved around bicycles. Once I was asked to sew some velcro to an old rubber bicycle tube to make a chain stay protector for the shiny and newly re-painted Big Red Bike*.

Funnily enough Schmetz don’t make any needles labelled “Bicycle Tire” so I used a leather needle instead.

In the end I made two, my poor little Elna grumbling the whole way, I am ashamed to say it, but she gives as good as she gets and she gets looked after really well. For a “modern” machine, all plasticy, she takes a fair beating and keeps on sewing.

The next request was much easier, a workshop apron, to protect his clothing but also to keep tools handy.

I based it on my basic apron pattern with a few extra pockets and dividing stitch lines for various tools. It also has an adjustable clip for the waist strap, something about boys being unable to tie bows behind their backs, it’s not in their genetic coding I think.

He uses it a lot, as you can see from the state of it. I offered to wash it once…

So fast forward to a few days after Christmas 2012: Downstairs in the Mannex (or Man Cave, if you prefer) Nerdy Husband has his Pretty Green Bike* set up on the stationary trainer for indoor bicycling. After a particularly sweaty indoor training session he calls to me from the shower.

The best ideas always happen in the shower don’t you think?

“I have a really strange sewing request. It’s kind of hard to explain, I need to draw it at the same time…”

So after he is dressed we go to my room and he makes a scribble.

It’s a sweat bib thingee that will span between the handle bars and saddle and protects the paint and componentry from the acidic nature of perspiration. NH assures me these things do exist in bike shops and back in the Mannex, with some pattern paper and a tape measure, he points out some of the areas on his bike that are already suffering a small amount of corrosion and attempts to explain the concept a bit better.

The idea is that the bib will float above the top tube so as not to transfer the sweat to the paint and should run the whole length but still allow the rider to grip the handle bars comfortably. It is wide at the handle bars to cover the front brake and cables below, then it curves in to a sort of “T” shape as it runs down the top tube so as not chaff as the legs move past it.

The mass produced versions are obviously made as one-size-fits-all attached with elastic or long straps of velcro. This can mean, on a larger bike, that parts of the frame are left exposed. Variation in leg length may also mean a seating position that causes your knees to brush past the protector which is really annoying and will also cause chaffing.

So the mission was to make a custom version to suit the Pretty Green Bike’s frame.

We started with the paper pattern, roughly sketched while masking taped to the bike and then mirrored on the fold. The shop versions are often stretchy but we decided an old towel would do for the first attempt.

I also decided to use velcro instead of elastic because I thought it would be easier to remove, I am assuming it will need washing, and I am also already assuming that if this works there will be an additional order placed for a second one!

After a second fitting we added the velcro in the centre too, this brings the sides downward, creating a kind of hood effect and solved the problem of the edges slightly brushing past his legs.

In the end the “first attempt” ended up being the only attempt.

Handle bar detail

Top tube detail

Seat post detail

I try to make even the most simple (and weirdest) things neatly. This was supposed to be the trial run, I didn’t expect to get it right first time, and therefore I didn’t bother to change over any of the threads in my machines. I offered to make a second one but NH didn’t seem to mind a dark blue overlock stitch against a light blue towel and black velcro sewn on with white thread, he was too busy patting us both on the back for getting it right in one shot. The following morning he gave it a thorough testing it out and declared it a win…so there you go…

After it was all complete and it got the Bicycling Hubby’s seal of approval I decided to do some Internet research. What I found was surprisingly like what I had made, and provided some funny names. CycleOps call their version a Bike Thong (snigger) ;) and Elite refer to theirs as a Sweat Net, most others are boringly named as “Sweat Guard”…Bike Thong is my favourite – it does indeed look like some sort of weird de-constructed panty!

*I shouldn’t tease, NH owns several bicycles, I know the correct names for each of them and what type of riding each is designed for, I even have one myself. It’s just much more fun to give them funny names for the blog ;)

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RNHS: Rugby Jersey Finished

Normal service resuming in 3…2…1…

The Requested Nerdy Husband Sewing: Rugby Jersey is done! :)

And I am happy to announce that NH is most pleased with it.

Inside out detail:

You’ll have to believe me when I say it looks 100 times better on my actual husband, rather than Scarlett!

Stripe matching? Check!

I reinforced the shoulder seams with twill tape to prevent any stretching.

And here is the magnificent button placket…which wasn’t actually that difficult in the end. I just needed instructions! ;)

You may notice the lack of rubber buttons because I haven’t sourced them yet, although I think I know a store that may have something but it was closed when I last drove past it…NH is happy with standard plastic buttons for now. The jersey will have it’s first official outing for New Year’s Lunch…which will actually be the 6th, a minor detail.

The deets:

Pattern: Burda Magazine 04/2007 #130 “Men’s t-shirt” heavily altered to match existing All Blacks polo shirt

Fabric: “Rugby Jersey” Knit selected by Nerdy Husband from Moorelands in Palmerston North and white drill from the stash

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Happy Christmas Eve Eve

I just thought I’d quickly share what my Christmas Eve Eve has consisted of…

Some of this…

…and this…

…which will become this!

And then some of this…

…to make Nerdy Husbands favourite!

A little bit of prep to make Christmas morning less about stress and more about fun and family :)

And you should see the size of the turkey currently defrosting in my fridge!

Now that is out of the way I am doing a wee bit of sewing, not the birthday dress, best intentions and all that, I’m not stressing myself out, it’s nice to slow down sometimes, to remember that I sew for fun and the mental challenge.

I had to re-make the collar for RNHS rugby jersey (after digging for more white drill in the stash) and here I am modelling it after joining the shoulders, I used twill tape in the seam to prevent any stretching.

Check out that beautiful button placket!

I have since pinned the side seams, very pleased with my stripe matching. No tricky stuff left now, I may even finish it today. I will give you the official Nerdy Husband verdict in the New Year.

So since this will probably be my last post for 2012 I’d just like to wish you all a happy & safe Christmas, see you on the other side in 2013 xx

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Halp!

Phew guys! I had a HUGE sewing weekend, but that post is going to have to wait until tomorrow, work is crazy right now! We just won a big fat juicy job that I am super excited about but means a heap of work in very little time.

I’ve really missed whipping up a mid-week blog post during my lunch break or after work but it has all just been a bit too much for me over the last week or two and it isn’t looking any better for the next couple either.

I shouldn’t complain because if we weren’t crazy I’d be pretty nervous!

I am going to share with you all the fun of our Wellington Sewing Bloggers Meet Up tomorrow though, I just have to scrape together all my photos. Seriously, those girls! I needed a nap just to recover after I got home!

I am so ready for Christmas break…well not really, I haven’t done any shopping yet and I have a HUGE family Christmas dinner to plan (whose idea was it to host that?! Oh yeah, mine, haha!) but mentally (and I may just go a little mental) I am ready, bring on the joyous festiveness!

Ok, but for now, I need your guys help! I’m going to post this up on BurdaStyle and PR too but maybe one of you brilliant peeps can help me first.

I thought I had the RNHS Rugby Shirt button placket all worked out, I was going to use this tutorial from Two On, Two Off but when I looked at the pattern pieces on the weekend, mine are different. If no one can help me then I will calculate a new piece similar to the one in this tutorial but first choice is to make it up as cut…

Here are the placket pieces, there are two…

…and this is what the front looks like…

What do you guys think?

With the RNHS Rugby Jersey stalled I did make good progress on my Birthday Dress, much bias was cut for piping, so much bias was cut!

But the whole time I felt like I had a little Sewing Angel sitting on one shoulder, and a little Sewing Devil sitting on the other.

The guilt-ridden little Sewing Angel was tugging on my ear lobe and whispering that I should feel guilty for enjoying rotary cutting bias strips so much while Nerdy Husband went rugby-shirt-less.

But the selfish little Sewing Devil was jumping up and down and gleefully rubbing its tiny hands together, “Cut! Cut!” it chanted, a little look of sewing madness in its eyes, “Make that beautiful dress, make it!”

So bias strips I made. The good news is that I am loving the contrast colour I chose, difficult to photograph accurately, it’s a deep blue with just enough purple.

So if you have any ideas on how I can shrug off my guilt and get the rugby jersey finished asap or want to draw me a scribble so I can understand how to attach the button placket I would really appreciate it!

Happy Monday :) xx

Sewing Update

I have had a busy few days but I thought I’d share what I have been up to sewing-wise:

RNHS: Rugby Jersey

Not much progress to report. Everything is cut out, white drill has been acquired for the collar and button placket. I also found a tutorial for how to make the button placket since my photocopied Burda instructions tell  me to refer to another items instructions for how to make it…I did not photocopy that items instructions, not that it would have done me much good, we all know about Burda’s reputation for instructions… ;)

I need to finish it asap because even thought Nerdy Hubby hasn’t mentioned it for a while I will feel guilty if he pops into my room to see what I am up to and finds me cutting out a dress instead!

Look! I found it!

Simplicity 2364 – DO NOT ASK ME WHERE IT WAS - because the answer is that it was in the exact place where I looked for it 10 times. I took it with me to Sunday’s Fabric Hoarders meet and cut it out twice in NZ Merino, one grey, one almost-black.

Birthday dress progress

My birthday was in June, like almost 6 months ago…so I should probably stop stubbornly calling it that, but I won’t. I have been asked about the birthday dress twice now, once in person, so I though I better update. I have narrowed it down to two dresses but I will be making both anyway ;)

I think I will make Simplicity 1802 first which I found fabric for on Sunday from the Fabric Warehouse.

The only reason why I hadn’t started this dress was due to lack of fabric. It needs 3.0 meters and I usually only buy between 2 and 2.5 meters when I am stashing for future dresses so that meant I had to buy something. Fabric shopping for a particular garment is actually quite difficult. I looked in all my favourite stores and was originally going to buy that zig-zag cotton sateen I saw in Arthur Toye but I just couldn’t get my head around the pattern matching.

Next I fell in love with an expensive print in the online Tessuti store, I even loaded up the required 3 meters into my cart but then baulked at the total, even with free shipping, eeek!

As I was umming and ahhing the online shop suggested another fabric I might like, the same print but in a blue/green (I had chosen pink/lilac) but it was sold out (seriously, why bother showing me if I can’t have it?!)…still I really liked it, a bit more than the pink, so I emailed to see if they were going to get any more into stock.

It took them 3 days to email me back with a “no” and by then both fabrics were sold out.

So it’s a good thing I snuck by the fabric shop on my way back from the sewing meet.

I really like the 100% cotton I have chosen, it has a sort of woven stripe running through it, is nice and floaty and, at $12/meter, a much better price than some of the other fabrics I was only so-so for. Only the top of the dress is lined in the pattern but I will also need to line the skirt and I just need to choose which solid colour to use for the piping, maybe the dark purply blue? What do you think?

Vogue 1161 on the other-hand, I have had fabric in hand for about 2 weeks.

I did intend to make this dress from the stash but when I saw this silk/linen in Global Fabrics I had to have it – DO NOT ASK ME HOW MUCH IT COST – the answer is too much, but I LOVE it. It is grey with shots of white through it and pinky/white/yellowy-tulipy-leafy-blurry-floral thingees on it.

Good description huh? ;)

It was a bit stiff off the bolt but it did relax a little after the first wash so I think it will be ok.

I have had a quick little play in Photoshop (or you can do it with Gimp too) and now I am really excited about both these dresses! What do you think?

A finished project

I did finish one project, actually a little while a go and despite wearing it really often I haven’t managed to get a photo of it yet so here is Scarlett doing an excellent job of modelling my new top.

It is from Burda 02/2009, top #108 and I made one about 2 years ago, as a copy of a rtw top (never blogged), in a grey merino that I wore to death. So now I have a new and very fun version to replace it.

I also have enough of the grey and almost-black merino from the Simplicity top to cut two more. It’s such a versatile top, I may as well sew them all up at the same time.

My only change this time was to add sleeve bands and a band to the hem just to finish it a bit nicer. Next time I will add a facing to the neck, instead of just folding it over, for more stability. I also used two short strips of twill tape on each shoulder seam to control any stretching there.

This is an interlock from Spotlight, the colour is called “flame” and it probably came from the children’s section ;) but how cute are those little guys all over it?! Check out my three favourites: