25 December 2013

Christmas 2013: Taco Seasoning!

Merry Christmas to all my readers!

We have started a bit of a tradition of making something for Christmas presents every year. I come up with an idea, (the earlier in the year the better) and start working on making it happen in time for Christmas. We then give our closest friends and family the same gift. Last year I blogged about the Christmas macarons that I made and packaged for gifts. They were a real hit!

As with last year, this year also involved a lot of experimenting with recipes and trying them out on my unsuspecting family members. We ate a lot of tacos, nachos and potato wedges coming up with this recipe. I think the kids were getting a bit sick of them. It's a wonder I didn't put them off tacos forever with the first batch, or the second for that matter!

My attempt at making a Christmas Tree from jars of Taco Seasoning

21 December 2013

Stash Busting: Sun Dress

I had another reason for making myself a white slip. My White Christmas post was all about the slip I made to go under a dress that I bought a few years ago. The actual reason that I made it now and not in another two years time, was that I needed it to go under a different dress that I planned to make.

Don't ask me why, but I seem to be attracted to sewing up all my fabrics that have either cut out or transparent sections at the moment, meaning they either need lining or a slip. I think this is the last of them though, although both this and my navy sorbetto top still have enough leftover fabric to make something else from them.

10 December 2013

Sewing Machine Review - Janome Memory Craft 300E Embroidery Machine

Here is my next sewing machine review on my embroidery machine, a Janome Memory Craft 300E

What brand and model do you have? This machine is a dedicated embroidery machine, a Janome Memory Craft 300E.

9 December 2013

White Christmas

No, I'm not heading to the northern hemisphere for a white Christmas, I'd just like to share with you the story of a white dress that I bought a couple of years ago, and is still yet to be worn.

About two years ago when I was looking for a Christmas present for my father in Industrie (I bought him a shirt that year in case you were wondering), I stumbled across a dress on the sample rack that I couldn't resist. I tried it on, and apart from being rather transparent, I loved it. You can't really tell on my dummy, but the slip underneath the dress is really see through. It's made of the same chiffon as the dress itself. "No worries" I thought, it's not like I can't make myself another slip!

The Dress Before

27 November 2013

Stash Busting: Maxi Dress

Here's another stashbusting win: 2 more pieces of fabric from the stash used up for this dress. And another garment made in October that I've only just gotten around to blogging.

25 November 2013

Stash Busting: Colette Sorbetto Top

I downloaded Colette's Sorbetto top a few months ago to make myself a new top using something out of my stash. How hard is it to pick a fabric and sew it up? Quite hard it seems. After changing my mind half a dozen times, I finally settled on this fabric. It's some kind of synthetic fabric (If I work out exactly what it is I'll update this) with a see through design of flowers and leaves in navy blue. I've had it in my stash for longer than I can remember (so, probably at least 10 years). I lined it (for obvious reasons) with matching navy blue lining. Also from the stash.

24 November 2013

Sewing Machine Review - Janome Memory Craft 4800QC

My next sewing machine review is on my regular sewing machine, you know, one that does different stitches and is capable of doing a buttonhole? Here is all you ever wanted to know (and probably a lot you didn't want to know) about my Janome Memory Craft 4800: Quilters Companion.

26 October 2013

Fabric Stash: I found some more fabric!

I was missing a piece of fabric that I knew was around somewhere. I had previously made a pair of pants for my son when he was 3 year old with it, and a matching pair for my husband (they looked so cute together, but do you think I have a photo of them in their matching pants?)

This fabric missed the cut when I documented my fabric stach, but I figured that the reason was because it was actually a few remnants of fabric, and I didn't bother with remnants. I did a quick clean up this morning before I had a visitor, and look what I found under a pile of T-shirts that are waiting (very patiently) in my studio to be made into a T-shirt quilt!

21 October 2013

I bought some books

On my list of goals for the year ahead I had listed a couple of books that I wanted to buy so I can try out some new stuff.

This morning I had an appointment in the city, so after that, I ran a few errands, and thought I'd pop into Kinokuniya Books before I went home. It can't hurt to look at a few books, right? What I was actually looking for was Drape Drape 2. I've already made my version of a dress from this book, but wanted to try some more from it, inspired in part by Meggipeg, who I have watched working her way through the Drape Drape books.

I had a look through the sample copies of Drape Drape 2 and 3 (they didn't have a copy of the first one available to flick through), and then my attention was caught by Pattern Magic. Back on the shelf went Drape Drape 2, as I decided that I would get more use from Pattern Magic.

Five minutes later with Draping for Apparel Design in hand as well (that one was a definite from my list), and I was out the door!

19 October 2013

Sewing Machine Review - Janome 1600P

Hands up who reads sew mama sew? I must admit that I only follow this website via facebook, so at times it's pretty hit and miss what I actually see. I did however, come across a post recently about reviewing your sewing machine. What a great idea to have a group of owner reviews all in the one place! So here it is, the first of my reviews on my pride and joy - a Janome 1600P sewing machine.

3 September 2013

Did Someone Say Ice Cream?

Spring is officially here! The last week of winter here in Sydney felt decidedly summer-ish, with temperatures in the high 20's. With a winter that warm, I don't even want to think about how warm our upcoming summer will be!

With the weather warming up, I intend to give my new ice cream maker a thorough work out. Do you remember last year when I was lamenting what to do with egg yolks when I was making macarons most weekends? Well, I haven't actually made any macarons at all so far this year (something that will be remedied sooner or later), and now my freezer is filling up with egg whites. A few weeks ago I made 2 different batches of friands in an effort to clear them out, but after this latest ice cream adventure, I'm right back where I started, with about 23 (yes, you read right - 23!) egg whites in the freezer. So, maybe I've been building up a supply ready to make some macarons, but just haven't gotten around to it yet. Methinks maybe there'll be some more friands coming out of my oven sooner than macarons though.

Cinnamon Ice Cream

23 August 2013

Book Week 2013: Hooded Cape

In previous years, my son has come up with an idea for a book week costume about a week before, and expects that I'll be able to whip up something for him. Last year when I said no, he went as the saucepan man, and I wasn't even there for the parade thanks to a quick trip to Melbourne with the husband (Book Week Parade, what Book Week Parade? I'm having too much fun!) The previous year I convinced him to use an existing dress up and go as Robin Hood. I did have time though, to make him a quiver for his arrows (which he was rather impressed with).

This year, I had plenty of notice that he wanted to go as Lief from Deltora Quest. He has been devouring the books, and just in the last few months has read all 3 series from start to finish. Quite an effort for a boy who isn't even 8 years old yet! Thankfully my husband had been borrowing the books from him and reading them too, so he was able to give me a pretty good idea of what we needed for the costume. The boys came home from a walk one day with seven giant gems to use in a belt, and we all went for a trip to Marrickville in search of some fabric for a cloak. We were after something dark, but not plain black, and when we came across this fabric we knew we'd found the perfect fabric. It's a black stretch fabric with sparkly threads all through it.

The Fabric

21 August 2013

Rainbow Brite costume

If you've read my previous post on doing a leather jacket refashion, you'll know that I have started to do blog posts on some of my more interesting sewing adventures.

A few weeks ago I received a request that stated:

costume for city to surf

Nothing heavy but would like to know if you can make a Rainbow Brite costume?

9 August 2013

"Matrix Jacket" Refashion

Sometimes I get some very interesting requests via my website. For a few of these recently I have asked my clients if I can write a blog post about these somewhat more interesting projects. I recently received one such enquiry from Sheila, asking if I could turn her leather jacket into a skirt. I got quite excited by the prospect of being able to cut someone elses leather jacket into smaller pieces.


5 July 2013

Photo Storage Update

If you have read my previous post on Blogger Photo limits, you'll know that I hadn't been very particular about how I added photos when I first started my blog.

After I realised that there was a limit to what Blogger (GOOGLE) will allow you to store for free, I went through all of my blog photos and reduced them to (at the largest), 2048 pixels on the longer side. So now, all the photos are under the size limit that counts towards my storage. I then deleted all of the original photos from my Google + album (it looks like picasa is on the way out as I was redirected to Google +) I also changed the backups from my phone so they are all automatically reduced in size when saved to Google +

While I was at it, I watermarked all of my original photos (i.e. most of the photos).

One of my concerns in replacing all of my photos was what would happen to a photo that had been pinned on pinterest. I tested another photo from my blog before I replaced and deleted it, and it worked fine. What pinterest does, is take a copy of the pinned photo, and a reference to it's original location. So as long as my post is still there, the photo will still take you back to the page it was pinned from. Needless to say, I am happy for anyone to pin my photos. What I would not be happy with, is if the link back to my blog is broken, or if my photos are used in any other way inappropriately.

How has this affected my used storage? At the time that I made all these changes, my usage reduced by 0.08 GB. That's more than I thought I would have been using for my blog.

Since I completed all these changes in early May, my usage has however increased again. None of the photos that I have been adding now count towards my limit, but Google have yet again had a play with their plans, and I now have a limit of 15GB (up from my previous 5GB limit), shared between Google Drive, Gmail and Google + photos. Since I tend to keep a lot of emails, most of this usage is taken up from Gmail. If I find that I have more problems with usage in future, I know what I have to tackle next. (Eeeek!)

3 July 2013

Tailored Jacket Finally Finished!

Almost 6 weeks after I last posted about this jacket, and I can finally say that my tailored jacket is done!

OK, so I'm not actually that slow at sewing, I've just had work (i.e. sewing that I actually get paid to do) get in the way. At least I still have two thirds of winter left in which to enjoy wearing it. Not that I have yet. It's turned out a little . . . . shall I say . . . sparkly? I'm sure I'll be the most overdressed mum picking my kids up from school.

22 May 2013

Tailored Jacket Update

Before I started on my pattern alterations for this jacket, my plans were almost over before they began.

I don't often use commercial patterns anymore, and so when working out how much fabric I need when sewing fabric from my stash, I usually pick the fabric I'm going to sew first, and use gut feel and hope for the best when I've finished making the pattern. This time, I checked the back of the pattern envelope, and the requirement for my jacket was 2.4 m of 150 cm wide fabric. Now, I know commercial patterns have a tendency to overstate how much fabric you require, but I only have 2 metres of fabric (150 cm wide), and my plans for the pattern included making it bigger, hence using more fabric, not less.

The Fabric
As it turns out, the situation wasn't as bad as I thought. I tried my old jacket on again, and the fit isn't really that bad. Maybe if I was wearing a jumper underneath it, but, let's face it, it doesn't really get that cold in Sydney. I also decided to make my new jacket shorter, so there's about 20 cm saved already!

13 May 2013

Stash Busting plans: A New Coat for Winter

I have been busy making a dress for a client, and haven't really felt like thinking about what I was going to sew next. I finished off the dress I was making last week, so now it's time to move on to the next project. (Check out my photos on my Facebook page if you're interested).

I've been wanting to make myself a new winter coat for a few years. I have an old woolen winter coat that I made quite a few years ago now, out of (my favourite colour) blue wool. It did the job while I was working a 9 - 5 desk job, and I even had to replace the lining after it wore out, but I'll be the first to admit that it's pretty boring.

I've been keeping the odd picture of long jackets and coats that I like, hoping that inspiration will strike and I'll come up with an idea of what I want to make. I want to do the whole works, make the pattern and sew the coat, complete with all the tailoring techniques I can throw at it. Well, inspiration hasn't struck yet, but I did get inspired to use up some of my fabric stash, and leave the new woolen coat for another year. Since I'm leaving the inspiration for another jacket, I also decided that rather than make a pattern from scratch, I would alter a pattern that I already have. I made a jacket a while ago from McCall's 9012 (from 1997, which I believe classes that as a vintage pattern!), and I thought that would make a good starting point.

The Pattern

26 April 2013

My Mystery Pastry Lemon Tartlets

I've been longing for lemon tarts recently, and have been looking for an opportunity to get into the kitchen without any interruptions to make some lemon curd and some little pastry cases.

Such an opportunity arose this afternoon. I had vaguely remembered seeing some leftover pastry from something lurking in the freezer. Don't ask me what it was from. I don't remember putting it there. My dear husband denies any knowledge of it either. Whatever it was from, I was pretty sure that I could make it work as a dainty pastry shell for my little lemon tarts.

Pastry circles all rolled out ready to go...
While the pastry was defrosting I quickly made my lemon curd. I used this recipe from Taste.com.au. Now, onto the pastry! As I was rolling it out I had a bit of a taste test. I'm pretty sure that it has yeast in it. It was quite springy, and a bit sweet. Blind baking was a must to stop this yeasty, springy pastry from puffing up too much. I baked the cases in a mini muffin tray that I "borrowed" from my mother in law (I don't think I've told her that I have it yet). About 15 minutes in a 200 degree oven seemed about right for cooking time, although those cases that were rolled a bit thinner do seem just a little browner than the rest.

22 April 2013

Blogger Photo Limits: Who Knew?

So, I was reading through some blogs the other day, and one that I was reading suddenly stopped in December last year. I read the last post, only to find out that she had stopped blogging because her photo limit had been reached! Photo limit? Who knew? Well, this is what happens when you don't do any research before you start a blog.

Worried about the status of my own photo storage, I did some research (mostly reading other blogs that have also come across this problem) and found out that I should have a 1GB photo storage limit for my photos, in a Picasa web album. And to top it all off, this is shared with other Google applications that I use. I found a post with a link that I could click to find out how much of my limit I was using.

I was astonished to find out that I was currently using over 48% of my limit, and, more interesting still, my limit was, not 1 GB, but 5GB! That means I've used more than 2.4GB. Where had all that space gone? Do I need to resize all the photos that are currently on my blog (in 20 posts, I wouldn't have thought that they would take up too much space, even when I made no effort at all to compress them!) Or maybe find another photo host and change the way I insert images into my blog?

After some looking in my Picasa account, I discovered that the majority of my photos are actually backups from my phone. I didn't realise that when I turned on the instant upload option on my new phone last year that it was going to back up every photo I have ever taken on my phone since I first bought a smart phone (2 and a half years ago now!) Or that they would be stored in Picasa. Or anything really. (Do you see a theme forming here - I don't do enough research on technologically related things). Photos up to 2048 x 2048 pixels (when using Google+) apparently do not count toward this limit. Although I have read that instant upload photos are automatically resized to be under this size limit, I did not seem to have happened with my photos.

I did find out why my limit is 5GB though. Apparently at some stage I signed up for Google Drive, (not that I even know what this is), and that gives you 5GB of storage space. How fortunate! Otherwise I would have run out of space a long time ago, definitely before I even started this blog.

Just before I hit the "Publish" button though, I thought I might try and get to the bottom of the instant upload issue. It turns out that you have to go into the setting of Google+ on your phone, and check the option to resize your uploads to 2048 pixels. I was looking for this so I could turn instant uploads off, but now that I have found the culprit, I might as well leave it there, and just upload the smaller photos. At least that way if something happened to my phone I would have a record of the photos that I have taken.

Problem solved. At least I no longer have to find an alternate method of storing blog photos. Now to just find a way (and time and the inclination) to tackle that enormous amount of full size photos stored in Picasa.

17 April 2013

Time to get back to work?

You may have noticed that things have been a little quiet around here lately. I hinted in my last post that I was about to go on holidays, somewhere a little cold. Well, I've actually been back for more than 2 weeks now, and am still trying to get back in the swing of things.

I had a month away from home with my family, mostly in Europe, spending some time there with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law (also holidaying), and most of it with my parents-in-law, who since buying a house in Switzerland a few years ago have been progressively spending more time there than here.

Once I got away, it didn't take me long to lose the urge to be sewing something, or thinking about sewing something, or planning on sewing something. After arriving home it took me 3 days to put fabric to a machine, and I only did that because I'd had an order while away that I had promised to deliver directly after Easter. That didn't stop me from taking happy snaps of every fabric shop and sewing machine shop that I saw while I was away. I didn't actually venture into many of them. Fabrics in Switzerland tend to be quite expensive, and the one time that I thought I'd try and have a conversation with a shop owner, she didn't speak any English, so that didn't work. Paris however, had a multitude of shops, all in the same area, with very reasonably priced fabrics. It would have helped if I was actually looking for something specific, because as I didn't have anything in mind that I needed, I found it hard to find anything I wanted to buy.

22 February 2013

February Stash Busting: A dress made with love

As I am about to embark on a month off, I haven't had much of a chance to put too much thought into making new garments. I've been finishing off some work for other people, and doing a few quotes. I did however want to try to do something for the February stashbusting challenge: To make something for someone else from stash fabric.

I had just the thing in mind - a dress for my daughter that has been in the works for almost a year. My sketch for this dress was dated 30 March 2012, and I made the pattern for it late last year. When I went to cut it out this week, I almost decided to start again, wondering if I should make a larger pattern so the dress will get another summer out of it.

19 February 2013

Fabric Stash: Stretch Fabrics, Blends, Synthetics, and Miscellaneous

If you've been keeping up with my blog, you'll know that one of my goals for the year was to document my fabric stash. Then I found a stash busting sewalong that I joined. One of the tasks that was suggested was to share your fabric stash on your blog. I have been doing this in parts as I get around to sorting out my fabric, working out what everything is, and measuring it so I know what I have. I am going to all this trouble so that I can actually see what I have, get some inspiration to make something out of them, and actually use up some of it.

This is the third and final installment of my fabric stash walk through. Hopefully you'll see some of these fabrics coming up in future posts!

I have been surprised at some of the fabric that I have been hanging on to. It isn't uncommon to find fabric that I've had for more than 10 years!

Some of it is a lot newer than that to my stash, such as this assortment of stretch fabrics:

Stretch Fabrics
The Fabric Store had a sale last year on stretch fabrics. They had a large assortment of fabrics going for $8 per metre, with some for $4 per metre. At the time I really needed some new tops for summer, and so I bought 6 different knits, walking away with more than 6m of fabric for $44. Despite having used some of each of these fabrics and made 6 tops, most only used between 60 and 70cm of fabric, so with that bit extra that you often get when buying fabrics, and a couple that were the end of the roll, there's enough left of all of them to make another one. If not for me, I'm sure I could get shirts for one of my kids!

I also have some stretch fabrics that I specifically bought for my daughter to make the tops of dresses, and some fabric leftover from the dress that I made her, and the jumper that I made myself.

18 February 2013

Fabric Stash: Cottons, Wool, Linens and Silks

In an effort to work out what fabric I have, and thus be able to work out what to do with said fabric, I am going through my fabric stash and sorting and documenting everything I have. I started this process with a post on some fabrics that my husband bought for me in Vietnam. You can catch up with the first installment of my fabric stash here if you missed reading it.

Next up are all my natural fibres: cottons, wool, linens and silks.

I have been patiently (well, ok, impatiently and at times giving up and joining my daughter in watching TV) going through all my fabric, measuring, documenting, and doing the occasional burn test on them. The 100% cottons are these:

14 February 2013

Stash Busting: A Dress, For Me?

I can't remember the last time that I actually made a dress for myself. Others, yes, but me, no. Well, actually I can remember, but it was quite a while ago, and I don't wear it because I don't like how it fits.

I was browsing the blogosphere recently and came across Meggipeg, and her review of a new dress pattern by Savage Coco: Elegant Escape Dress. I instantly thought that it would look great made out of some printed linen that I picked up last year (there's one for the stash busting!

13 February 2013

Fabric Stash: Fabric, Vietnamese Style

As part of the Stash busting sewalong, I'm going to document my fabric stash for you. I'll do this in parts, starting with a section of my stash that came from Vietnam.

My husband was working in Vietnam for a few months last year, and, the wonderful man that he is, went in search of fabric shops. On one of his trips to a particular shop that he had found (with a bit of help from some locals that he had befriended), he took a few photos for me and I was able to pick out some fabrics that he went back to buy for me.

9 February 2013

Stash Busting: Rib knit jumper

Normally when I make something new for myself I can't wait to wear it as soon as possible.

Not this time. It's still the middle of summer, and here I am making (of all things) a jumper! Why, you might ask, am I making a jumper? Well, I'm off on a family holiday soon, and it's going to be cold. I have a shortage of decent jumpers, and, well, I happened to have this piece of fabric hanging around in my stash. I bought 2 metres of this knit fabric (not sure what the composition is, I think it's some kind of acrylic), at the Fabric Store last year (or was it the year before?) Up until a week or so ago, I had been thinking of making some kind of cardigan with a drapy front with it.

7 February 2013

An Australia Day Dress

Australia Day: Think backyard cricket, lamb on the BBQ, having fun with friends.

And then your son tells you he feels really ill. I hope your Australia Day had at least some of the elements I listed at the start. Me? I cancelled my plans to go to visit friends and indulge in lamb and good company, and instead stayed at home (with the aforementioned child telling me an hour later that he felt fine!)

So, to pass the time in the afternoon, checking all the time for a relapse of the tummy pains, I took the kids into my studio, and put on a couple of DVDs that we could all watch together. I had thought that I would just make up a  pattern for a dress that I had in mind while watching the movie, but it came together so quickly that I then cut out the fabric (never mind that I was planning on pre-washing it), and sewed it all up. All in time for dinner (still no lamb in sight though)!

31 January 2013

More Storage Boxes, and Some Bags

Recently I posted about some cute little storage boxes that I made from bridal dress bags with broken zippers. I have been plodding along deconstructing some more of these bags, and from the pieces cut out another 3 little boxes to add to the one I had already completed, and a total of 12 carry bags.

Bridal dress bag before

29 January 2013

Stashbusting Sewalong

I had another post all ready to publish about how I came across some lovely pieces of fabric that are in my fabric stash, patiently waiting to be sewn into something. I've put it on hold for a little while though, as during another one of my trips across the blogosphere this evening, half paying attention to the TV, I came across this stashbusting challenge over at Tumbleweeds in the Wind. This was via another blog that I had just found Handmade by Carolyn. I found that via a comment on another blog that I discovered in the last week... well, I could go on and on, there are a lot of sewing bloggers out there!

28 January 2013

Goals For The Year Ahead

I know it's a bit late in January to be talking about New Year's Resolutions, but I'm not a big believer in New Year's Resolutions anyway. Looking through rose coloured glasses at the possibilities of a New Year, you're bound to come up with some impossible list of things you want to do or achieve during the rest of your year. New Year's Resolutions are made to be broken. So I don't do that.

Instead, I wrote myself a wish list, or 'To Do' list of sewing-related-things I'd like to do this year when I have time between doing work for other people. It's a work in progress that I am adding to and crossing off the list as I go. I have things on the list such as:

16 January 2013

Macaron Fillings

If you're interested in how I make my macarons, you may remember that the recipe I use is from Not Quite Nigella. I have not found the need to alter this basic recipe for the shells at all.

It's the different flavoured fillings (and sprinkles) that make all my macarons unique.

(With the exception of salted caramel), most of my fillings have been either a chocolate ganache (any type of chocolate you like!), or a buttercream filling. Then I just add things to them!

Various macaron fillings - lemon curd in buttercream, hazelnut praline
in buttercream, milk and dark chocolate ganache, salted caramel, dark
chocolate ganache, peanut butter chocolate ganache

Examples of ganache fillings:

15 January 2013

Fabric Storage Boxes

A few months ago I came across this post for making fabric boxes to hold all those little odds and ends that need a home. I bookmarked the post, knowing exactly what I would make some from, and then promptly forgot about it.

Well, the something that I wanted to use, is actually bridal dress bags that have broken zippers. That's a whole story itself, so I'll try to be quick with that explanation. When I first started my sewing business, I bought a box of 50 bridal bags to give to clients who I make wedding dresses for. Of course I anticipated that these 50 bags would be all I would ever need, but (after the warranty ran out of course), the zippers started failing on them. Every now and then I will go through some of the remaining bags and test the zippers, and add more to the pile with broken zips.

The fabric cut out and ready to go
This week I started the process of taking apart the first of these bags.