adult's clothing · sewing

Style Arc Portsea Luxe Sweat

There is no clear explanation as to why some patterns get purchased and sewn up very quickly and others don’t.  Style Arc released the Portsea Luxe Sweat pattern at the beginning of this month.  A day later I had it purchased, printed, taped, cut out, sewn, and worn.

Style Arc Portsea Luxe Sweat in french terry from Clear It

Style Arc describe this pattern as follows: This rolled cuff short sleeve sweat is perfect for Spring days but also perfect for layering for cooler temperatures. Slightly oversized fit with a square shape, hi-low hemline and side splits. The lux top is ideal for all occasions. FABRIC SUGGESTION: Fleece, unbrushed fleece or sweater knit.

portsea-luxe-sweat

I had some leftover Clear It french terry from when I sewed my Style Arc Brooklyn knit pants. There was just enough to eke out the pieces for this top. I love it when that happens!

Style Arc Portsea Luxe Sweat in french terry from Clear It

This fabric was pretty thick, and I had to cut it out single layer (maybe my recent scissor sharpening wasn’t quite as effective as I’d hoped). It sews up nicely. It was mostly constructed on the sewing machine to facilitate topstitch seams that were pressed open, such as the front ‘sleeve’ seam and the shoulder seams. I overlocked other seam allowances together, and topstitched them down both as a detail and for structure.

Style Arc Portsea Luxe Sweat in french terry from Clear It

The print on this fabric really cracks me up. Poison bottles! I only bought it because it was cheap and I thought it would be useful for muslins, and have discovered that it actually makes me smile and it’s a great fabric to wear.

Style Arc Portsea Luxe Sweat in french terry from Clear It

Now I need to talk about the cuffs. The pattern is designed with a folded cuff, which is sewn to the sleeves then the side seams are sewn right up to the cuff edge, sandwiching the fold. In this thickish fabric it meant that I sewed through multiple layers, which was tough to do, and leaves plenty of bulk along that side seam. In future I would construct this differently. I would leave attaching the cuffs until last, after the side seams are sewn. The cuffs would also then be sewn into a ring, then attached, then folded back. This would reduce bulk enormously, and allow for the cuffs to be worn folded as designed, or unfolded.

Style Arc Portsea Luxe Sweat in french terry from Clear It

I sewed size 12, which is my usual Style Arc top/dress size. It’s a roomy style – designed that way – and I’m happy with the fit. It’s a bit cropped at the front, with a longer back, and side seam splits.

Style Arc Portsea Luxe Sweat in french terry from Clear It

I happily wore this over a cami on warmer days last week, then layered over a long sleeved tee on subsequent days. It really is a terrific layering piece, especially in these times where ‘stretchywear’ is what I’m reaching for each day. I’ll ferret through my stash to see if I have any appropriate fabric in a solid to sew another one. I’d like to try it in something a little drapier and slightly lighter weight. Just a bit.

Style Arc Portsea Luxe Sweat in french terry from Clear It

Style Arc have an Easter sale on at the moment and this pattern is one of this month’s freebies, so if you’re interested, now is the time!

patchwork · Sue Ross Block of the Month

Sue Ross BOM quilt top finally finished!

Some of you have been reading my blog for a really long time (I started it when I was pregnant with Stella – actually, my 13 year bloggiversary was in February).  You might remember that in the early days I did quite a bit of patchwork and quilting; that’s actually how I got into blogging in the first place.  I discovered Heather Bailey’s blog, asked a friend to show me how to do patchwork, then off I went!  After a couple of years I reverted mostly to garment sewing (my first love) but every now and then it’s fun to go back to cutting big bits of fabric into little pieces then sewing them back up into another big bit again.

Sue Ross BOM - cutting the setting strips

In 2009 (yes, you read that correctly) I started a Block Of the Month (BOM) project by Sue Ross, done in conjunction with Material Obsession. They sent me the pattern, templates and fabrics each month, and I constructed the block. I have to say right at the outset that this project was WAY above my skill set. Nevertheless I plugged away at it and eventually ended up with nine blocks, using a mixture of piecing and applique. I then cut out the setting strips that you see in the photo above, folded up all the pieces and set them aside some time in 2011. Last week I finally pulled them out and assembled the quilt top.

Sue Ross BOM 2009 Material Obsession quilt top

First of all I assembled the strips into log cabin blocks. Each of these blocks then needed to be cut diagonally into four triangles.

Sue Ross BOM 2009 Material Obsession quilt top

Once again, I warn the ‘real’ quilters who read my blog not to look too closely.  I tend to iron more than press; things are stretched out of shape, and points don’t all line up and match properly.  But aren’t those fabrics pretty!  Anyway, after I cut these blocks into triangles, I sewed the triangles on to each of the blocks that I had prepared earlier.  Remember, there are nine of these!  Lots of photos ahead!

Sue Ross BOM 2009 Material Obsession quilt top

Sue Ross BOM 2009 Material Obsession quilt top

Sue Ross BOM 2009 Material Obsession quilt top

Sue Ross BOM 2009 Material Obsession quilt top

Sue Ross BOM 2009 Material Obsession quilt top

Sue Ross BOM 2009 Material Obsession quilt top

Sue Ross BOM 2009 Material Obsession quilt top

Sue Ross BOM 2009 Material Obsession quilt top

Sue Ross BOM 2009 Material Obsession quilt top

Each of those blocks is around 26 inches wide – so larger than you probably imagine when seeing them on a screen! Once they were all sewn together, I had a quilt top! Tada!

Sue Ross BOM 2009 Material Obsession quilt top

Sue Ross BOM 2009 Material Obsession quilt top

Sue Ross BOM 2009 Material Obsession quilt top

I am ridiculously pleased with this quilt top, despite it’s imperfections. I have noticed that there are a couple of bits of applique that still need to be secured, but I might do that when it’s quilted. I am still tossing up the next stage – it needs backing, wadding, basting, quilting and binding. I’d really like to do most of that myself, other than the basting part, but might also get it quilted. I figure that I’ll have enough fabric in stash to piece together for the backing. Stella is keen for me to get this finished; she also has visions of snuggling under it on the couch when watching telly and is especially pleased that it’s large enough for her sister as well.

Sue Ross BOM 2009 Material Obsession quilt top

While I think about what to do with this quilt top, I have a few other quilts that need to be finished off (the tops are done and they need to be turned into quilts). I’ll do the smaller ones myself, but will probably send out the larger ones. Looks like this winter will be a great time to finish off the UFOs!

crochet

Fishermen’s Scarf

In many ways, the current stay at home situation is easier for those of us who have hobbies, especially if those hobbies are usually done at home.  As you know, I generally sew clothes (rather a lot of them).  But when the covid-19 situation first intensified, I couldn’t focus enough to sew.  (I haven’t been able to focus enough to read a book either, but I hope that changes soon – I have many piles of books waiting for me).  What I really needed was something repetitious that kept my hands (and mind) occupied while I watched Buffy/Angel with Clare.

Fishermans Scarf in Noro Kureyon Sock

A couple of years ago I sorted through my yarn stash, and gave a lot of it to Mum to keep for herself or to redistribute to charity knitting groups in her local area. But I didn’t get rid of everything – there’s still a tub (or two) left. I pulled out a skein of Noro Kureyon Sock yarn, found my crochet hooks, and trawled Ravelry for a pattern.

Fishermans Scarf in Noro Kureyon Sock

I wanted something that was more interesting than just doing rows of hdc or dc, but that was pretty much a single row stitch, without a right and wrong side. I happened up on The Fishermen’s Scarf by Mark Roseboom, a free pattern that’s available in multiple languages.

Fishermans Scarf in Noro Kureyon Sock

I didn’t make my scarf as wide as the pattern, not that I can remember how many chains I started with. I knew that I only had the single skein of yarn to work with and wanted to ensure that my scarf would have adequate length to wrap right around. To do this it needed to be narrower.

Fishermans Scarf in Noro Kureyon Sock

This is one of those situations where the yarn does most of the work for you. The colour changes that are built into it add interest and work well with the texture created by the stitch pattern.

Fishermans Scarf in Noro Kureyon Sock

I’d like to try this stitch again in a longer and wider version. It’s lovely and squishy, and a great scarf design for everyone. It also got me hooking again – I’ve got another scarf half finished, worked on a test for a crocheted hat, and have almost finished edging 24 crochet squares in readiness to join them into a rug.

adult's clothing · sewing · teen

Teen Spirit top

When we were in Borneo Clare bought a cropped sweatshirt.  It is fairly lightweight, so perfect for inbetween weather.   She’s been wearing it a lot, so I offered to sew her something similar.  This was made and photographed at the beginning of March.

George and Ginger Teen Spirit top

This pattern is the Teen Spirit Top, by George and Ginger. I love that their multi-sized patterns start at small sizes (tween 12 and 14 then adult XXS) which makes sewing for my daughters much easier.

photo_feb_02_11_04_57_am_740x

We chose to sew the long sleeved, cropped length and I narrowed the neckline. I added bands to the sleeves and the hem to tie them in with the neckband.

George and Ginger Teen Spirit top

The fabric is a knit from the Rathdowne Fabrics remnant bin. It’s actually fairly stable, without much stretch at all, and has a bit of a slub effect. Heavier weight than jersey, lighter weight than sweatshirting.

George and Ginger Teen Spirit top

Current teen fashions are SO late 80s / early 90s! I look at some of Clare’s outfits and then describe to her almost identical onces that I wore back in the day. She wishes that I’d held on to a few of them. I have kept most of my late 80s / early 90s formal wear, but not the everyday stuff.  She’s especially sad that I didn’t hold on to my nubuck Doc Martens (my excuse is that they were trashed after a year of backpacking).

George and Ginger Teen Spirit top

I added a little label from Kylie and the Machine to the side seam, which really tickled Clare’s fancy! I think that I also added one inside that says ‘this is the back’.

George and Ginger Teen Spirit top

As you can imagine, this was an extremely straightforward garment to cut out and sew. Adding the bands made for very simple finishing. I pressed them all toward the body of the garment then topstitched to keep the seam allowances in place and add a tiny bit of detail. And that was it! Sometimes the very simple projects are just as satisfying as the very complex ones – it’s all about meeting the brief.

George and Ginger Teen Spirit top

bags · sewing

Apertio pouch

Over the weekend I pulled out a couple of long dormant projects.  A crochet blanket, all 24 squares made but needing to be edged then joined together.  The squares are all different, so have different stitch counts in their outside row.  This is where the project had halted – I needed to count how many stitches there were, record it for each square then figure out what increases/decreases I would need to do in my edging round in order to have them pretty much the same for joining.  I’ve now done all the counting and calculations and have started on the outside rounds.  My family use my crochet blankets as couch blankets, so it will be good to finally get this done!  The squares were all crocheted during 2012.  I found an even older project – a quilt top that was a Block A Month project started in 2009.  The nine main blocks were done at the time.  Today I’m going to sew up the setting squares and finish off the top.  Then I’ll add it to my to-be-quilted box, which contains quilt tops, wadding and backs.  Maybe some of those will finally get finished this year too!

Apertio pouch

A couple of weeks ago I sewed up this little Apertio pouch. It’s a free pattern by Blogless Anna, and was a highly satisfying project. Anna excels in writing extremely clear and detailed instructions; her perfectionism gives beautiful results.

Apertio pouch

This little pouch is fully lined. I didn’t have a zip of the correct length in stash (however Anna does sell them) so used one that was longer and was extremely careful when I inserted it. The corners are boxed, which gives shape and structure. I added a little label from Kylie and the Machine into the side seam.

Apertio pouch

That lovely textured outer fabric came to me via Restash last year (I now know it originally belonged to Jenny – thank you). This little pouch really does feel like it’s a combined effort by sewing friends – Anna,  Kylie, Jenny and me!  Give this pattern a whirl if you’re looking for something to sew while you’re staying at home.

Apertio pouch

adult's clothing · sewing · teen

Grecian goddess sundress

The school swimming carnival was four weeks ago!  Four weeks ago, in what feels like a different world and different lifetime.  Clare is in year 12 (final year of high school), so instead of having to wear PE uniform this year she got to dress according to a house ‘theme’.  Clare is in Clare House and their house colour is white.   The theme chosen was ‘goddess’. Out with the sheets!

Grecian Goddess Sundress

We have plenty of old white sheets in the cupboard, and I remembered that there was a free pattern online for a Grecian Sundress. I printed it out and cut it out at the smallest size. The main challenge was gathering the shoulders enough – I should have just done casings and threaded through some cord to pull it up tight; normal gathering with two rows of thread just wasn’t strong enough to pull tight enough gathers in this sheet. In the end I did a running stitch through it by hand with doubled thread so that I could manipulate the gathers more and tighten them.

Grecian Goddess Sundress

It was cool in the morning when they headed off to the carnival, so Clare layered a white tee that I’d made some years earlier underneath. I was pretty impressed with the waist shirring. My sewing machine generally doesn’t like to shir, but I remembered that if I reduced the bobbin tension about a quarter of a turn, it would be okay. And it was! Although I had to refill the bobbin about four times in order to do that amount of shirring. Tedious.

Grecian Goddess Sundress

The girls had lots of fun at the carnival; Stella managed to find herself a job as mascot for her house.

Grecian Goddess Sundress

Grecian Goddess Sundress Grecian Goddess Sundress

This is actually a rather lovely, simple dress pattern. Although this one is very much a costume, I’ll pull out the pattern again and sew it up in a proper dress fabric at some stage. Clare really likes a bit of shirring, and is very pleased that I’ve figured out how to do it effectively on my sewing machine.

Grecian Goddess Sundress

musings

This is how we’re faring

My last blog post was on Monday – it’s now Saturday morning.  Five days.  What’s happened in those five days?  On the surface of my family’s day to day life, not much.  We’ve worked from home, kids have enjoyed sleeping in (school holidays started early, on Tuesday) and we’ve managed to get some household chores done between us.  The dog has never been walked as much.  There’s chatting with friends on Google hangouts, dance classes and girl guides done via Zoom, plenty of binge-watching Buffy/Angel, and online shopping deliveries arrived.  I’m starting to feel as though I can sew again.  We plan to go to the supermarket/grocer once per week.  Just trying to figure out what’s likely to be the quietest time.

In among all this, my parents (can I describe you as elderly, Mum?  You are 82 and 93) are at their home two hours drive away from us in country Victoria.  They’re lucky to live in a very comfortable house surrounded by garden, with plenty of birds to watch and fresh air to breathe.  They’re quite well, but are in a high risk group if they were to get sick.  So they’re staying home.  Like everyone else.  We’re all staying home.  It’s the only way that we can slow down and manage the spread of this virus.

My brother just got back from America and to his home in Cairns yesterday.  It’s a relief to have him back in the country.  Of course, he’s now in quarantine for two weeks.  The predominant source of Australia’s covid-19 cases is from overseas travellers, with America being the most significant contributor.  However, we’ve now also got community spread.  ABC News (that’s Australian Broadcasting Company, for my overseas readers) has an excellent daily update of Australian statistics, sliced and diced in different ways.  Now I am glad that I have studied stats at uni more than once, because I do understand those graphs.  I breathed a small sigh of relief this morning when I read that for the second day in a row the number of new daily cases in Australia has dropped a little.  Maybe people are starting to really get the message and are just staying home!  (I wrote too soon – yesterday was Victoria’s greatest single day increase in the number of cases.)  However, the growth rate is still showing a doubling of total number of cases every 3-4 days.  The forecasts still have us reaching medical capacity around 11th April.

And in the everyday, it’s become harder to remember what day of the week it is and what time of the day it is.  It’s different without the routines and structures that we have when there is work and school and everything that goes along with that.  Maybe it’s like being retired!  The days start to blur into one another.  My ‘to-do’ list is still long, yet doesn’t seem to carry the same pressure that it used to, because deadlines and available time to get things done has all become much more fuzzy.  It surprises me that I don’t find this more ‘laissez-faire’ approach to daily life more difficult.  Instead, I seem to have relaxed into it.  No alarm clocks any more.  No public transport to catch.  As long as I get my work hours done in the week, it doesn’t matter when.  My body has shifted into getting up at dawn when the birds start chirping.  It’s lovely on the back deck in these beautiful autumn mornings.

I’ve switched from radio/television reporting on the pandemic to reading about it.  I find that more helpful when it comes to managing my anxiety about the situation.  I very much need to know what’s going on, especially as the situation is changing from day to day, but can moderate my exposure much more easily via ‘print’ (on screen, not on paper) media.  I’ve also made a concious decision not to focus ‘too much’ about all the knock-on effects that this pandemic will have/is having on the economy, mental health, schooling, disadvantaged groups, politics, the state of the world in general.  That’s just too overwhelming for me at the moment, with too many unknowns and things that I cannot predict.  Yet I know that I say that from a place of privilege – it’s much easier for me to be an ostrich in comparison to many others.  Clearly, this is going to have ripple effects for the rest of our lives.  But at the moment – it’s a few days at a time.   It’s also been good for me to focus on the blessings in my life – and I have many.  I am still acknowleding all the griefs and losses that have arisen as part of this situation – because they are true and they are there and need to be dealth with emotionally – but am tempering that with all the good stuff.  So many people have it much worse than my family does.

Gretchen Rubin shared the following in her newsletter this morning: In this article, I found the concept of “anticipatory grief” particularly useful—and its advice that the best way to calm ourselves is by coming into the present. And to stock up on compassion.’

Andrea shared some words in response to my last blog post that I also found really helpful.  She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand, and wrote ‘the current situation takes me back to the aftermath of our earthquakes and that feeling of vulnerability and also being in the same head space as everyone around us and there only being one topic of conversation. We learnt so much through that and although at the time it seemed to go on forever we got through and the sun did indeed shine again.

Currently, the need to get the virus under control from a health perspective is the most important thing. Those of us who are not involved in front line health care really do just need to stay at home.  If in doubt, don’t go out.  And to all those health care workers?  Thank you.  So much.