Thursday, September 29, 2011

A spring giveaway

Last week I promised a giveaway and I bet you've been wondering whether I've changed my mind or something.  I'm sure that's been occupying your mind all week, hey :) 

Well, I've been meaning to take a gorgeous photo of the prize but no, I've been sewing clothes for myself instead.  But there will be a giveaway because this blog is 3 years old and I have 300 likers on FB and I think you nice people deserve a little thank you from me.

I'm going to put a little parcel together and randomly choose a name out of all my followers.  Of course I know my Blogger followers, but please send me an email (link in right-hand column) or message here if you follow me through a different feed like Feedburner or something else. I'll pull a name from a hat on Monday.  I'm doing the same over on Facebook so if you're a liker there you're in another draw.   

And here's a bit of Ruby in the Dust colour for your day.  I'm so attracted to these strong pastel colours, and when I look at all my product photos it really shows.  These are my brooches that I used to make a long, long time ago.  I loved them, especially in a group like this; I always thought they looked like a bowl of lollies.


A wee while ago my friend Bronwyn was doing a cull of her vintage sewing patterns, and I saw potential in this one, Simplicity 7395.  I liked the look of those patch pockets and have always had a thing for fold-over skirts. This pattern was great to use, and I'm very pleased with the result.  I used 2m of quilting cotton from Spotlight's bargain table, which was just enough for this project and cost me $14.  Not the cheapest I suppose, but I've been eyeing that print up forever, thinking it was out of place in the quilting section... It's a bit hard to see the pockets, but they're there and very generous.  It folds over at the back, and has a good overlap I believe (fingers crossed no sudden wind gust proves me wrong!).



I've never used a vintage pattern before (this one is dated 1975), and there were a few surprises, sizing being the biggest (geddit?).  The pattern was printed in one size, 16, and I'm a 12, so expected I'd need to take it in a lot after first sewing the pieces together. But no, it fits perfectly! The other anomaly was the length.  The illustration for the short skirt makes it look like an on the knee-number, but to get that length, I took about 12cm off the pattern.  So I can only gather that my mum's generation were extremely slim and tall creatures, or sizing has changed a great deal in the last 30-odd years.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Peasant blouse pattern tutorial

I made this blouse last night and thought I have to share the pattern.  It's a really good project if you're new to sewing, as it has only 2 seams and could take less than an hour to make. Let's be realistic and call it two hours, since you'll be making your own pattern and bias binding.
Peasant girl digging in garden
The pattern was inspired by a Cotton On top I have, and instructions from an amazing vintage sewing book called 'Needlework for Girls' by Isabel Horner.This book was first published in 1950 and since it's out of print, I don't think it would be a problem to share a couple of pages with you.  I've put it up on Scribd so you can read it in PDF format.  

The top can be made from 1.5m of fabric, preferably something with a bit of drape and weight.  I used satin, but silk, chiffon or something similar would work well too.  I know it's not the easiest fabrics to work with if you're a new sewer, but as long as you overlock or zig-zag your edges you should be ok.  You will also need some narrow elastic (I used 3mm wide) and about 80cm of bias binding, 2.5cm wide. It's best to make your own using the remnants from your top.

First, you need to make your pattern.  I'm a size 12, so if you're a bit bigger or smaller than me, you're going to have to play around with these numbers (but mostly with width in the body, I expect).

Here are my measurements.  The total height of the pattern piece is 65cm and total width 70cm.  The width can be adjusted for shorter sleeves, but the sleeve length is restricted to the width of your fabric (the maximum width of the pattern piece will be half of the fabric width, which means your total blouse width will be the same as the total fabric width).

Draw this onto a large piece of paper (wrapping or kraft paper) and cut out.   

Now fold your fabric in half, top edge on bottom edge.  Fold this in half side-ways (selvedge to selvedge). You now have a square or rectangle with folds on two sides.  

Pin the pattern piece to the fabric, positioning the piece onto the folded edges like this:

Cut out the piece but DO NOT CUT ON THE FOLDS! They are your friends. If you've done this right you now have a huge single piece of fabric resembling a cross with a hole in it. 

Overlock or zig-zag all the raw edges, except for the circle (the neck).  Fold the top half down with right sides together, top edge on bottom edge. Pin and sew the side seams together like this: 

Also fold, pin and stitch sleeves and bottom hem over by about 1cm. Leave a small gap in each sleeve hem to insert elastic through. You can also add elastic in the bottom hem if you'd like. Cut about 25cm of elastic and use a safety pin or elastic threader to feed it through the sleeve casing.  Try it for size and then stitch or knot the ends together.  

The last step is attaching the bias binding.  If you're new to sewing on bias binding, here's a tutorial, but be sure to use the PROPER way.  It looks so much better, honestly :)

Decide which side will be the back, and mark the middle of the neck. Fold one end of the bias binding over by about .5cm and pin to the neck, right sides together, starting at the point you just marked. Pin around the neck, ending in the same way with a small fold.  Sew it on and then pin the other side.  When you're finished you should have a small gap in the back of the neck for your elastic threader or safety pin, and about 60cm of elastic.  Try it on before you cut the elastic, and then stitch or knot the ends like you did for the sleeves.  

And you're done!  I can be a bit cryptic sometimes, so let me know if you need any more explanations; just email or leave a comment. 

Monday, September 19, 2011


Last week was a tough one in our house; all 4 of us had the flu, Craig had a Big Birthday and was too sick to do anything, Daniel was a wonderful tree in his schooI production and I finished a wholesale order of bags through it all.

Even though I felt like you-know-what, the bags were really fun to make.  As I mentioned before, I had Pauanesia's wonderful stash of vintage fabrics to work with, and I teamed it with some very colourful vintage trims (you can see a picture on my Pinterest page here).  I was in heaven working with all the saturated colour of vintage NZ and Australian tea towels and tablecloths, bobbles and fringing.

This Monday finds us all much better, the bags are on the shelf in the shop and now I can concentrate on getting a bit of sewing done for Kraftbomb this weekend.  I also have plans for a giveaway here and on FB this week, so come back again for that :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Painted wood

I mentioned my growing collection of vintage wooden-handled kitchen tools in my previous post and here's the evidence...  

I have a rule when I come across these: it has to be useful in my own kitchen.  Speaking of that, I used the Swiftwhip for the first time tonight and I can see the electric mixer's days are numbered...

The majority of my collection is by Skyline and were made in England.  These fish slices and spatula are Skyline, and the very useful little apple corer is by Dalson Ware in Australia.  By the bit of paint left on it, it used to be sage green. I'm tempted to paint it again.

These are also Skyline; one gets used a fair bit and the other one not much.  I use the pastry blender to cut in butter when making scones (and a little kitchen tip from me: I grate the butter first).  The vegetable cutter might come in handy when I host an 80's style dinner party :) 
This serrated tomato slicer is also Skyline and works really well.  I think it's a good idea to put the tomato on a chopping board and not to hold it in your hand when using this little number...

As you saw with the vegetable slicer, I don't always stick to my rule of usefulness.   I was so intrigued when I found this strange tool, I had to get it.  I thought I might use it for cutting pastry or pasta, but in my research today I discovered it's a herb cutter. It was made by Tala in England and it has a very interesting hinged mechanism.  I tried it out tonight and boy, does it shred herbs.  A keeper.

Friday, September 2, 2011


I realised yesterday that my finished projects of this week all had one thing in common: a colour. Completely accidental, or spooky alignment with spring? Like most things in my life, probably the former.

The first is modeled by young Joshua. Can you see him there? He's a tree, but if you're having trouble, just look for the red gumboots...

I made 12 of these, and had to line them because I thought hessian would be a great (super-cheap) fabric with real presence on the stage, but then reality hit when I started itching. So glad we have wooden floors too, because after sweeping the floor five times already since yesterday I'm still getting little fluffy green clouds floating through the house!

After knitting (and frogging, and starting a new one) a cardigan for the last 6 months, I decided I needed an instant gratification project. This is the double-bump facecloth, pattern available here, knitted in a lovely soft cotton/acrylic mix. I'm in love with this colour, by the way. Would you call it sage? I do anyway.
I have a green robe to talk about but no photos, so let's leave that one and move on to my great find of the week. Admittedly it's not something I made, but something I found while turnupstuffing. If you're not familiar with the term, it's one of Pippi Longstocking's favourite activities and one my boys and I really enjoy. More about that at the end of the post if you're interested.

Anyway, here it is, my new egg beater, coincidentally in the beautiful sage colour. I have a hand mixer but this is so much better; I enjoy the soft rattle it makes, the clever design of how those little round nobs are not just decorative but also functional (they drive the cog / am I making sense here: got no mechanical vocabulary!). It's also part of my growing collection of Vintage Painted-wooden-handled Kitchen Tools. Must show you sometime...

"I happen to be a turnupstuffer, so of course I never have a free moment." "What's that?" asked Tommy. "Somebody who finds the stuff that turns up if only you look, of course. What else would it be?" said Pippi. "The whole world is filled with things that are just waiting for someone to come along and find them, and that's just what a turnupstuffer does."
Astrid Lindgren,
'Pippi Longstocking'