It’s that time of year again…

I have signed up for the New Zealand Handmade Christmas Ornament Swap.

I signed up for the first time last year and enjoyed getting a surprise so much that I have decided to do it again.

Actually this year, now that life is more normal and settled for a change, I am considering making all my family home-made gifts. It might just be an ornament each or something more substantial depending on each person but I am starting to gather ideas, some I might be able to share (certain family members do blog-stalk me so I have to be careful, isn’t that right SIL-with-itchy-feet?)

Anyway, just a quick post to explain how it all works:

You sign up on the NZ Handmade page here, time is ticking, you have until October 28th. Then you get sent a swap partner and create your gorgeous ornament (plus handmade card) and post it away to them by November 30th – heaps of time! 😉 They also post lost of ideas and tutorial links on the NZ Handmade page.

If you are interested, this is my swap from last year, pretty cool huh?

Ann’s Christmas ornament for me

My Christmas ornament for Ann (plus one for me, hehe!)

It’s open to all crafty bloggers all over the world so how about you join me? Maybe we’ll get each other!

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The Craft & Textile Lover’s Guide to Wellington

(click for larger images)

I picked up this pamphlet when I was in Made on Marion the other day. I was trying to find a digital link to share with all my Wellington readers and potential Wellington visitors but there doesn’t seem to be one online…so I scanned it in for you guys instead.

I’m pretty sure that’s OK, it’s available for free in several stores around town.

We have some great fabric and crafty shops and the more that know the merrier I think.

I’ve also made a list with a few others that aren’t on this map.

Enjoy!

🙂

Agapanthus – 1; The Curious Kiwi – 0

Guess what? This will be my 200th post, wow! 😀 I didn’t think when I started my little blog that I’d enjoy writing so much but I love it!

Thanks for following along xx

On Saturday we had a weather bomb* so I spent the day pottering in my room. I was in a quiet mood so I worked on the rugby jersey and managed to trace three dress patterns, one of which will be the “Birthday Dress” for 2012. On Sunday it was beautiful, in Wellington anyway, so I declared Gardening and I were BFFs 4EVA and decided it was time for Edible Garden: Stage One Extension.

Three more bags of compost was acquired from Bunnings and I dragged the wheelie bin around to the back and set to work.

First up, here is the next area to be cleared:

Oh my gosh, don’t look at the grass! This is before it got mowed, last weekend Nerdy Husband declared it needed to “grow out” a bit before the next mowing.

Recently there has been a healthy discussion in the sewing blogosphere around how much people dress up for, or alter, their garment photos in comparison to “real life” – honestly, if I knew how to make a lawn looked mowed in Photoshop I would have done it!

To give you a location based on the first bed, it is a bit further along the north fence-line and just as overgrown.

A rouge (and poorly Photoshopped) lawn mowers appears – it’s not very effective!

It is also a bit lower down and a bit more boggy, mostly due to the types of plants currently growing there, but nothing a bit of sand and compost won’t fix.

I was keen to clear at least half of it to start with, beginning with one offending mini-Agapanthus.

I don’t like Agapanthus.

I’m sorry if you do (actually, I’m not) but they annoy me and I don’t really know why. Kiwis (and the Aussies too) are so obsessed with planting them everywhere. The council stick them in our roundabouts, people line their driveways with them but to me they are a glorified weed and they are not to reside in my garden.

I know my dislike is irrational and I completely understand people disagreeing with me. Nerdy Husband feels the same way about hydrangeas for no good reason either. I don’t mind them actually, what’s to hate? They pretty much grow a complete bouquet on a stem, easy as. We have one in the front garden, I recognised it the other day when it started greening up after it’s winter sleep.

I”ll wait until it flowers to see how long until Nerdy Hubby notices it, a little marital experiment if you will, hehe 😉

Luckily, we do agree on the Agapanthus issue.

Does anyone else feel that way about Agapanthus? Just me? Or perhaps there is another plant you love to hate for no reason? It’s OK if you like Agapanthus, feel free to defend them in the comments.

There were a couple of green leafy things cowering in front of the Agapanthus, but I quickly dispatched them to the wheelie bin and soon there was nothing standing between me and the Agapanthus but soggy dirt.

It’s possible that I may have mentioned something out aloud to that blight in my garden…

…and it may have heard me.

It broke my fork 😦

That’s just plain cheating!

I will admit that when I went and bought all my new garden toys a couple of weekends ago, that I did buy the cheapest fork in the shop. I wasn’t sure if Gardening and I were going to be friends so cheap and cheerful was the motto of the day.

This fork may have been a bit too cheerful.

I have two options: buy another one (more expensive/better quality), or perhaps convince Mechanical-Brother-in-Law to weld mine up. I think I may go with the latter to begin with. Mechanical-Brother-in-Law owes us a favour and he has a couple of those welding things, one of them will do it I am sure.

He’ll probably ask me what sort of metal it is…”cheap” is a metal isn’t it?

So that was my day of digging done for and I took my wrath out on the ivy instead.

I don’t hate the ivy but it does go all along that fence and around the corner. The stuff around the corner is safe, it camouflages the fence and I like that when I look out my lounge windows I see green with the hills in the background above. It makes my backyard look like it goes on forever. The ivy over the vege garden however will prevent me from growing and supporting taller veges like beans and peas etc. It will also be a mission to maintain and make a mess when I trim it.

I didn’t get as much cleared as I wanted, my bin filled up surprisingly quickly but that was fine because by then I was tired and sick of bugs jumping out at me. I did manage to salvage the chicken wire from underneath for future use, very recyclingable of me.

So I left my garden “extension” like this, not very cleared but with high hopes of hitting it again on the upcoming long weekend:

In other gardening adventure news we have had one casualty in the current garden bed, a thyme seedling has mysteriously shrivelled up and died, but the strawberries are doing amazingly well, including the one I rescued & divided. One of those even has new flowers (and that means strawberries will follow!) and I saw some bees humming around them too.  My gardening book says that strawberries are self pollinating but good pollination is essential for quality fruit so yay for bees!

I’ve been using my herbs carefully while they get established. Selective trimming of pieces for my cooking while encouraging bushy growth. Last night I made Spaghetti Meatballs flavoured solely from my baby herb garden and I swear it was the most delicious thing I have ever cooked!

Oh and look! Carrot & spinach seedlings! And since I took this photo the spinach has gone mental, they all have their first “real” set of leaves, you know, the ones that look like the actual finished plant:

I have a 100% strike rate on the Pak Choi (which apparently should be harvest-able in about 2 weeks, I find that hard to believe), a 50% strike rate on my beans which are growing very fast and I will need that garden bed ready for them soon.

If you look really close you can see one lonely leek seedling in the left hand most row, 4 cells back! Ohh!

I thought there was still nothing from either the celery or the leeks but I after looking at this photo I noticed a tiny lonely leek seedling, can you see it?

I read in the same gardening book that they can take between 21 days and a whole month to sprout! I also read in my book that I can actually plant a few of the other seeds I bought. I mis-read the packet: I read “plant indoors in winter…” aww but it’s spring, and I put it down…actually it goes on to say, “or early spring outdoors…” oops, I thought I had a longer attention span that that! So I have another mini plastic greenhouse now planted with cheery tomato, chili & capsicum, yay!

* Quick random rant: is weather “bomb” not the most over-used non-scientific meteorological term ever? I’m not trying to down play it, Auckland did get hammered by said “bomb” but weather peeps, if you want to be taken seriously can we have some science please? Science will always trump sensationalism!

RNHS: The Rugby Jersey Pattern

RNHS (Requested Nerdy Husband Sewing) may just become a bit of an irregularly regular series, see, I even made a new category for it 😉

My newest super-sewing-fan is keen for progress on his new rugby jersey so on a rainy Saturday I began by altering the pattern.

I started with a polo shirt from Burda 04/2007, #130 and I traced the largest size, which I knew instantly would be too small. Part of this is due to the slim fit of the pattern style I suspect, that’s a European thing, and Nerdy Husband is not into European fit.

“Yachting Style”

Anywho, I compared my pattern to the “favourite” shirt and still high from the last RNHS success I set to work altering it.

The “favourite” shirt – no real surprise there!

I’m sorry I forgot to take some before photos but after tracing onto some leftover drafting film I just got right into it.

You will notice I am working with a full pattern piece, as opposed to an “on the fold” piece, I have the space and it will help me line up the stripes I hope! I am also working with no seam allowances so I can match with the true stitching lines on the All Blacks shirt. I will add them on with chalk to the fabric before I cut.

First up we needed some length – 5cm worth to be exact, and then some width, 4cm (2 cm to each side). I simply slashed my pattern piece and added it in, using “yellow trace”, my favourite tracing medium. I also raised the bottom of the button placket to match.

I applied similar changes to the back:

Then I realised that the armhole is much more relaxed on the All Blacks shirt so I added another 2 cm into them, which then meant I needed to take 2 cm out from my previous length addition. No problem, I just folded that back to 3cm. I also added the 2cm into the sleeve and ‘walked it’ around the armhole to check the final length, perfect! Strange that there appears to be no ridiculous amount of sleeve ease in this pattern.

Lastly I added length to the sleeves and here are my final pattern pieces:

My eyes are not used to looking at men’s pattern pieces, the shape and the size are so different, so I’m still not 100% convinced that this is all going to work out but it’s worth a shot!

Last night I prepared to cut it all out:

After I took this photo I rotated the pattern pieces 180 degrees before some very careful lining up and cutting.

The fabric overall looks like just repeating blue and white stripes but in actuality there is an occasionally repeating wider dark blue stripe that has a thin light blue stripe running through it. I wanted this at mid-chest and below the button placket but I also still wanted dark blue at the shoulder and hem and I could only achieve this by turning it all around.

The occasionally repeating wide stripe doesn’t appear again within the shirts length, this is either on purpose by design or more likely a fluke. Either way it’s fine by me!

Adding seam allowances

Don’t tell Nerdy Hubby that I traced the seam allowance on with my pink chaco pen and using pink pattern weights ok? He was meant to be overseeing the whole cutting operation but was far too distracted playing with the blue chaco pen and trying to work out how the chalk came out of it to notice 😉

Scientists!

And that is as far as I got – tonight I’ll be playing with the sleeves, hoping to get dark blue at the hem and still line up the stripes at the shoulder. I also need to dig through the stash box for some white drill for the collar and button placket and Nerdy Husband has requested rubbery buttons.

“Rubber buttons?”

“Yes, all real rugby jerseys have rubber buttons.”

“Umm, ok then…”

Tutorial: Small thread spool holder for under $5.00

In my pre-blogging days I uploaded a couple of tutorials and patterns via BurdaStyle to share. In the next week or two I want to re-post these to my blog, because I can. I just sort of want them on my blog, you know? Then I can link to them more easily and they are here, under my control.

So first up is my tutorial for a thread spool holder I (mostly Nerdy Husband – but I did all the planning and supervising!) made while living in Perth, it cost less than AUD$5.00

From December 2009: OK so this isn’t technically sewing but I thought I might share anyway. I am lucky enough to have a small dedicated sewing room and I’m a bit of an organising geek but since we rent I can’t really put up permanent shelving or hang things off of the wall so I have to get imaginative. I also like to display my sewing items and keep them within easy reach so I’ve had this little project in mind for a while and thought I would document as I go to see if I can inspire someone else. I wanted to display my sewing threads in a nice manner and since I already have a pin board up I wanted to piggy back off of it some way…

Ingredients:

  • Length/s of dowel small enough to fit through a spool
    • Mine are 6mm in diameter – $0.87 each x 2 (0.6cm or 1/4″)
  • Length of timber to fit dowel to
    • I used a piece 30 x 12 x 900mm long – $3.07 (3 x 1.2x 90cm long or 1-3/16″ x 1/2″ x  35-1/2″)
  • PVA Glue
  • Drill and drill bit
  • Pencil and ruler
  • Helpful fiancé or similar

Method (to the madness):

Step 1

First mark a center line down your timber and mark the spacing for the dowels. I measured 4cm between centers; this allows my largest spools to sit side by side without touching.

Step 2

Now pre-punch your marked holes. We didn’t have a punch so we used an old screwdriver, and because my helpful fiancé is a geologist, a rockpick for a hammer.

Step 3

Now drill your dowel holes, mine are on a slight angle, about 45 degrees. Try and keep the angle and depth consistent.

Step 4

All holes drilled. Now clean up the mess and gently sand away any rough parts on the surface and inside the holes.

Step 5

Now cut your dowels. I cut mine 5cm long which allows enough to go into the base and still leaves enough for a spool to sit on without it showing. Clean up any rough ends.

Step 6

Now fill your drilled holes with a little PVA glue and begin to fit your dowels. Mine needed a little gentle persuasion. Clean up any glue that squirts out with a damp rag.

Step 7

I attached my spool holder to my pin board but you could make a larger stand alone one, or attach it to a shelf edge. I’m sure there are plenty more possibilities.

Totting Up:

Dowel: $0.87 x 2 = $1.74
Timber: $3.07
PVA Glue: from my stash – seriously, who doesn’t have some PVA at home?!
Husband’s Fee: Home-made Banana & Walnut Loaf

Total: $4.81

Since writing this I have added another row of spools below this one:

And on the weekend I added some small hooks underneath the bottom row, upside down, so that I can hang some of my current favourite patterns underneath using small bulldog clips. In the picture above I have them hooked over the dowel, underneath a spool of thread but every time I go to move them I keep dropping the spool of thread down behind my fabric shelving, haha. The hooks work much better!

And that’s it, I hope you have been inspired into a little bit of nerdy organisation 😉

Birthday dress 2012 musings

So, now that I am properly settled in, it’s about time I started to think about this year birthday dress.

“The idea is that it can be a nice every-day kind of dress, or a completely unjustifiable and unnecessary dress and that’s ok, because it is the birthday dress and no excuses will be required.”

-thecuriouskiwi, 2011

It is so very late, but, start as you mean to go on, no??

Anyway, here are my thoughts for this year’s dress – Feel free to comment on your favourite, but as I am a bit flighty with my sewing queue (who isn’t?!) there are no promises it’ll even be a dress on this list 😉

Simplicity 1802 is from my most recent pattern splurge sale purchase. I LOVE it and wanted to make it straight away! I like the short sleeve version (also piping!) and I could definitely wear this to work in spring/summer and I can see a winter version too.

Vogue 1190 has been in my collection for a little bit and is very pretty. It is probably more of a “going out” dress for me, but you can never have too many of those. I like it in a print (check out Katherine’s version) but I think it would also make a gorgeous LBD.

I think I bought Vogue 1161 at the same time as the pattern above. I gushed about this as an option for last years dress (check out Tasia’s and The Slapdash Sewist’s versions!), there are plenty of other gorgeous versions online. I like the little cap sleeve and the flounce in the skirt back , this could also easily be a work or going-out dress.

Vogue 1265 is newish in the stash and very work appropriate. I love the collar, cap sleeves and full flouncy skirt at the back. It would look great in a suity looking pinstripe and is high up the sewing list either way.

Another new pattern, Butterick 5749, perhaps a quick and easy option (not to jinx it or anything!) to use up some jersey from my stash – I love Allison’s version.

One day when I am feeling brave I will give Vogue 1258 a go. Sometimes when I first see a pattern I think to myself, “That’ll never end up looking as good in real life” but I have seen some great versions (see Jessica’s and Allison’s versions, gorgeous!) and I think maybe I could pull it off, so I bought it!

A few other patterns I’ve had on my list for a bit: I’ve never made anything from Your Style Rocks but when I do this will porbably be the first pattern I try.

So what do you think? Is there one you want to add? Remember the Birthday Dress motto, “completely unjustifiable and unnecessary” is perfectly ok.

Requested Nerdy Husband Sewing

Black is such a hard colour to photograph which is a shame because I am so proud of this top.

Front

I am afraid you’ll have to put up with Scarlett wearing this man-sized and man-shaped top. I refer to my hubby by many names: Nerdy Hubby, Geologist Hubby, Once-again-in-the-good-books Hubby…but he refuses to be Model Hubby – even with a promise of cutting off his head (in the photo frame I mean!) but I don’t blame him really, this top is pretty much skin tight. Comfortable, but very fitted.

Back

Let’s rewind a bit:

Sometimes in Wellington it gets a little windy (hah!) and polypropylene is an essential staple in any Wellingtonian’s wardrobe. Ridiculous coloured stripey arms sticking out from under tee-shirts are very trendy. Or at least they used to be, I’m not exactly up with the current trends.

About 3 months ago Mountain Biking Hubby decided he wanted another polypropylene to wear under his riding clothes. His favourite one (both fit and colour) was black, its tag long lost after far too many washes.

He went out shopping for another rtw one and was so disgusted at both the price and quality of polypropylene and wool versions that he gave up.

Fast forward to another tag-along fabric shopping trip where merino and merino-blends were heavily discounted at an end-of-season sale. While my back was turned checking out the new spring-cottons nerdy husband was quietly digging through the merino bolts with gears quickly turning inside his head.

This is becoming a common occurrence isn’t it?

1.5m of black merino-nylon blend came home with us ($9.95/meter), as well as some marbled grey and dark grey merino for me. We chose the 80/20 merino-nylon blend in the hopes of slightly better durability and it also seemed to have better recovery than the straight merino.

I began by printing off the Pete T-shirt from BurdayStyle but after a quick comparison to the original black polypropylene it wasn’t going to work at all. Picky Hubby was quite adamant that the new merino top should be the same IN EVERY WAY as the original.

Free pattern alert!

Sigh. The Pete pattern was too short, too slim, too high-necked. The original also had a long raglan sleeve and the T-Shirt pattern did not. So I pushed it aside and decided to try this new thing everyone is talking about, a rub-off.

(*snigger)

I’m not going to show you my method because the true pattern drafters amongst you would be truly appalled. I don’t have a big enough pinning surface so I prodded and stretched and sketched and fudged.

The important thing is that it worked! Better yet, Nerdy Hubby loves it, and has already requested another. It’s a good thing then, that it only took me a couple of hours to put together, almost 100% on the trusty 4-threads-of-amazingness-overlocker.

Some details

Fashionable Hubby requested coverstitch detail on the sleeve attachment:

“I don’t have a coverstitch machine honey”

“But you have so many machines, one of them must do this” * pointing at cover stitch

“Umm, I only have two machines (that go)…and no”

“…but that big white one with all the extra threads..?”

“No”

silence

“I might be able to fake it”

“Hmm, ok, but only if it looks like this” * more pointing at cover stitch

“I’ll see what I can do”

I know I can do a kind of faux coverstitch on the overlocker, the Bernina lady showed me at my free lesson…that was almost 2 years ago!

But this was not the time for random experimentation, so the Elna got threaded up black, dial up stitch number 18 please!

I created my faux coverstitch by first overlocking the sleeve seam, pressing the overlocking to one side and stitching it down using the faux overlock stitch on my Elna. It’s a slow stitch but it looks pretty good I think.

Edit to add: I might not have explained that very well – the real 4-thread overlocked seam is on the inside, the faux overlock stitch (#18) is on the outside which you can see here.

Nerdy Hubby couldn’t tell the difference, “It looks so professional! You should do this on my rugby jersey too”

In all seriousness trusty #18 is a “super stretch” stitch and perfect for this application.

Here is another close up, you can see the wide cuff on the sleeve too:

I gave myself 3cm hem allowance at the bottom which I turned under twice and stitched down with the faux-overlock stitch too.

I don’t know what is going on with my hand in this pic, it looks so wrinkly!

The only hiccup was that I got a bit confused when I was attaching the neck band and put it on backwards. When Nerdy Hubby tried it on he asked why the join was at the front. Try as I might I couldn’t convince him that it was a design feature 😉 He’s a smart cookie that one. So I had to carefully unpick a 4-thread overlock stitch and then re-attach. Lucky merino doesn’t really fray so it went back on without a hitch.

So, great success! Except that now Nerdy Hubby is asking about his rugby jersey! 😉