TooBusyLizzy… where did she go?

Argh, life has been so busy lately! We have just finished school holidays (six weeks). We have celebrated Christmas, New Year, birthdays, visited Tasmania & Tamworth, covered excessive amounts of school books and witnessed our country being consumed by heatwaves, floods and bushfires (the Australian Mother Nature is a crazy vengeful woman).

I’ve just returned from Tamworth – where the town was goin’ crazy with country music. I’m not actually a country music fan but it’s such a fun event it’s almost converting me! Noooooo! The town is packed with crazies and there is something to see or do practically everywhere. Loads of free gigs, buskers, street performers, free concerts, fireworks and more.

Wayne Rogers

Wayne Rogers – check out that outfit! I swear I did not plan that backdrop. Still I giggle…

Troy Cassar Daley's truck - my girls are on it!!

Troy Cassar Daley’s truck – my girls are on it!! This truck had Troy Cassar-Daley performing, a clothes line, an operating BBQ, a shed and a brolly. It was one of EIGHTY floats in the parade.

Yes, they really are dancing with toy horses with wigs

The 8 Ball Aiken Girls. Yes, they really are dancing with toy horses with wigs

Australia Day everywhere!

Australia Day everywhere!

Love camels - cranky, smelly but kinda gorgeous anyway

Love camels – cranky, smelly but kinda gorgeous anyway

My brother lives there, so we enjoy the human excesses without excessive accommodation fees (and it has more quilts in it made by me than my house!). The kids love it so much they asked their aunty if they can go up earlier next year and see more! I get that some of you are groaning – and I used to think that about this event too – loosen up a bit and just have a laugh. Life’s too short to be judgemental. Life is much more fun when you just roll with the punches and enjoy the quirky things life throws at you.

I even found some crafty sewing things to snap…

Note for 2014: hot pants, wig, croc hat & glitter chaps

Note to self for 2014: hot pants, wig, croc hat & glitter chaps

Whip kits in Tamworth

Whip Kits – a crafter’s delight!

Carved cattle skulls - just what every home needs

Carved cattle skulls – just what every home needs

No worries about pattern placement here.

No worries about pattern placement here.

Spotty dress - this one's for you Scruffy Badger!

Spotty dress – this one’s for you Scruffy Badger!

I admit I’ve got a soft spot for Tamworth, I spent two years there are boarding school and they really were some of the best years of my school life. I’ve lived all over the place. I was born in Sydney, we moved to Crescent Head (home to one of the best surfing breaks in Australia), then Tamworth, Wollongong, Sydney and finally Port Macquarie. Let me tell you country life is completely different to city life and also very very different to coastal life. I’m fortunate to have lived a little of them all. Tamworth is a pretty country town and I really enjoy my visits there. Country music or no … and I always swore I would never set foot in Tamworth during Country Music Festival – and now it’s an annual highlight in our family calendar.

I’ve nearly finished knitting Langston for Miss 7’s 8th birthday in March. She’s quite besotted with it and wants to wear it asap – heavens knows why, our summer/autumn weather will mean it’s not required until at least April or May.

Langston from Ravelry

Langston from Ravelry

It’s a really delightful little pattern. I’m still having little struggles, more mistakes made from knitting when I am perhaps a little too tired. I’m a shocker at un-doing rows but getting better. Tonight I’m trying my first pick-up and knit for the button bands. I have a very clear idea on what to do (thanks YouTube) but sometimes reality is a little different.

My current WIP

My current WIP, I’m plodding along…

My little town was not consumed by floods, we had some very minor flooding (compared to other parts of the east coast of Australia) however our beaches have copped a pounding – courtesy of flood waters coming out of the river and also huge seas. What to do for blog pictures?? Check out the awesome images here

The backyard is out for pictures – all the critters are coming out the play with the rain… I found this fellow at my front door on Friday….

Snake! Tree snake - not poisonous but scared me!!

Snake! Tree snake – not poisonous but scared me!!

I am so behind in my blog reading and blog posting… so many things to read, sew, write about and more… watch this space.

Made-by-Me in Tasmania

Great Lake, Miena Tasmania

Great Lake, Miena Tasmania

I’ve been away for a week in Tasmania. Just a quiet week, not too much sightseeing as I’ve been to Tasmania five or six times now! The holiday house is located in the central highlands of Tasmania, it’s in a little town which is basically composed of little holiday houses and very few permanent residents, it’s trout fishing country so many are shacks more than houses – quite quirky and charming in their ramshackle way.

It was nice to have a slower holiday, it helps you stop and see the little things that you might otherwise zoom by…

Pretty little flowers in the park at Cressy

Pretty little flowers in the park at Cressy

Little Australian bush flowers

Little Australian bush flowers

Most of the clothes I wore on holidays were made-by-me. I’m never sure if it’s the novelty factor of wearing my made-by-me clothes or just that they are nicer than my RTW that means they are always my first choice in the morning. The nicest thing happened in Deloraine, Tasmania. I was wandering along the main street, wearing my Lonsdale with red flats and my Whole Wheat slung over my arm. A little elderly lady was sitting in her car, she flung open her car door and stopped me to tell me how gorgeous she thought my clothes were – that I was ‘quite the picture’. Once I explained I made my clothes, we then had a lovely chat about how much she adored making her own clothes too. That was a real holiday highlight for me!

Maria Denmark Day-to-Night Top and Whole Wheat Cardigan from Ravelry

Maria Denmark Day-to-Night Top and Whole Wheat Cardigan from Ravelry

My MariaDenmark and Sewaholic clothes got a lot of wear – and my Whole Wheat cardigan, my first knitted project in YEARS was in regular rotation.

Sewaholic Lonsdale and Whole Wheat cardigan

Sewaholic Lonsdale and Whole Wheat cardigan – in King Solomon’s Cave, Mole Creek Tasmania. It’s 9 degrees down here all year round! I’m cold but not quite freezing in this picture…

We took some lovely pictures in the caves but WordPress keeps reverting them to the wrong orientation. *sigh* patience required.

Maria Denmark Birgitte Top and Yasmin Yoke Skirt

Maria Denmark Birgitte Top and Yasmin Yoke Skirt. I made this top from a $1 skirt from a second-hand stall

You will notice a new little skirt has popped up. This is the Maria Denmark Yasmin Yoke skirt.. It’s a simple make and very easy to fit as you go along. I’m not thrilled with this fabric although I like the pattern. The fabric is a butter suede and while it looks and feels lovely from the outside, it’s a bit ‘sticky’ on my skin – it really needs to be linted (note to self: remember that when you use the blue butter suede in the stash!). I think I will try making this up in some lightweight demin, it’s very easy to wear as it doesn’t sit too high on your waist.

I also made up a black/white stripey top from Maria Denmark’s Birgette pattern. I cheated on this t-shirt. I made it from a $1 skirt I picked up at the school fete. It was a long tube skirt and too big for me. I cut the body pieces so the skirt hem was the t-shirt hem. I also have not bothered to hem the sleeves. I don’t think this sort of stark stripe is my thing, it’s a bit harsh. Anyway for $1 I’m not too perturbed – I love the t-shirt pattern, I like the negative ease.

We saw lots of little creatures in Tasmania. It really is the place to see Australian wildlife, once you get away from the towns and cities. On the way to house on the first night we saw four Tasmanian Devils, a Spotted Eastern Quoll, countless wallabies, two wombats and more – meaning we had to drive slowly to avoid hitting them! No doubt they were driven to the roadsides in search of food as much of the country we drove through once we got the to Great Western Tiers which has suffered in the recent bushfires.

A little echidna trying to mind his own business

A little echidna trying to mind his own business

Mother Nature can be harsh…

Maria Denmark day-to-night dress, take 2 - side view

Maria Denmark day-to-night dress, take 2 – side view

Maria Denmark day-to-night dress - take 2

Maria Denmark day-to-night dress – take 2

The above dress is my second Maria Denmark Day-to-night dress – I found this amazing knit at Lincraft, it’s a rayon knit, lovely and light (and it was half price in the recent sale). It was intended to be a Sewing Cake Tirsmisu – and while there are so many lovely Tiramisu’s out there in the blogsphere, I’ve yet to find a fabric that screams Tiramisu to me. SewImpatientLizzy!

I’ve worn this dress a lot, out and just around the house, it’s so comfortable and flattering. And yes, it really takes about 60 minutes to make!

Whole Wheat Cardigan was a star of the trip – thank you Rachel for your encouragement! My cardigan is not quite perfect, in fact I’ve nicknamed it my Amish Cardigan – I once read that the Amish always incorporated one mistake into their quilts as only God is perfect. I am very much not perfect so I incorporated many mistakes! :-)

Sewaholic Cambie and Whole Wheat cardigan

Sewaholic Cambie and Whole Wheat cardigan. This is waaay to early in the morning for me. PLus I didn’t take a hair dryer away – yes! A real holiday!!

I nearly finished a cardigan for my daughter – I’m knitting the sleeves now and then just the button bands to go. This pattern is Langston from Ravelry, a really sweet little cardigan. I knitting it with a Paton’s wool called Romance. It’s a yummy merino/cashmere blend and I picked it up at Lincraft just before I left for holidays. It was marked down from $9 a ball to $3.99 – like it’s meant to be. I started it once I got through airport security with my needles, I was worried some nasty airport man would make me rip the knitting off!

Langston from Ravelry

Langston from Ravelry

I’ve learnt so much about knitting in the last month. Thanks to YouTube and Google, I’ve mastered cables, SSK, the Magic Loop technique and more. If you can knit plain and purl stitches but think that knitting a cardigan or jumper is beyond you – it’s not true. I watched several YouTube videos and have vastly increased my knitting abilities. Don’t underestimate yourself. If you are determined you can do anything!

Ravelry has been a relevation to me. It’s like facebook for knitters and crocheters, an amazing source of inspiration, patterns (lots of free ones at that!) and more. It’s free to join so if you are curious go and have a look! And you can friend me – my name is SewBusyLizzy (yes I’m imaginative!).

I arrived home to the most amazing package from Blogless Anna (go and check out her adorable parrot blouse). I’m actually speechless – she sent me some fabric which she picked up at The Fabric Store’s recent sale. She said she got it home and realised it wasn’t her. So she sent it to me – it’s SoSewBusyLizzy that I’m refraining from wrapping myself up in it and rolling about on the floor. Thank you Anna – I adore it!! I have a couple of ideas how I’m going to use it… once I stop patting it.

More on that in my next blog post – along with a couple of sewing goodies I discovered at the Evandale Market in Tasmania. Plus I got a couple of really exciting emails while I was in Tasmania as well! Watch this space :-)

Not a Fashion Star… just me in a cute jacket… & McCalls 6611 giveaway

So begins The Year of the Jacket…

McCalls 6611 - Fashion Star

McCalls 6611 – Fashion Star

Nothing like starting 2013 with a little bit of reality TV – hello McCalls Fashion Star, 6611.

McCalls 6611 - side view

McCalls 6611 – side view

I’m still on holidays but I was missing the blog so decided to write up this post, while sitting in the holiday house in the central Tasmanian highlands (well when you live at the beach where do you go for holidays!?!).

This jacket started when Suzy Bee Sews blogged her version of this jacket. Her’s was not a happy story – so much so that she gave away the pattern. And I won it. After sewing so many indie patterns, it didn’t occur to me that the pattern would not be in my size. Doh! I must be really perverse, as despite Suzy’s tales of woe and not having the pattern in my size, I immediately became obsessed with making this jacket.

Next time a BMV sale came around I took the opportunity to get the pattern (and maybe a few more…) and when walking through Spotlight one day this gorgeous cotton sateen literally threw itself off the rack and into my arms, pleading to find its moment in the sun as McCalls 6611, who was I to say no?

McCalls 6611 - back view

McCalls 6611 – back view

So the outside of this jacket is a floral cotton sateen. I used a contrast cotton sateen for the drape lapels and peplum lining, the body is lined with cotton batiste and I used bemsilk for the upper sleeves (to make it easier to slip on) and the contrast sateen for the lower sleeve lining (more on that in a minute). Yes it’s a bit of a hodge-podge on the inside, partially to do with the fabric stash offerings and my alterations.

This is a simple jacket to construct. I only made a few changes to the pattern.

I cut the back as one piece. It’s supposed to have a seam down the centre of my back, however I didn’t want to cut up the pattern more than necessary.

McCalls 6611: inside jacket back

6611 inside jacket back

I serged the front lining seams and then decided to top stitch these seams… just because I felt like it :-) I also serged the jacket front shell seams as I didn’t want them shifting about. I simply neatened the back seams, clipped and ironed them open as directed by the pattern.

I cut the lining slightly wider around the armholes as I thought it would allow for more movement up and around the seamlines. A while ago I saw a blog tutorial on Sewaholic, A Fashionable Stitch or perhaps Grainline’s blog on how to alter pattern pieces for a jacket lining. I wasn’t quite so exacting, i just recalled the post as I was cutting and I just did it by eye! When I get home I’ll look up the tutorial and amend this post with a link.

I also set the sleeves in flat… this is the easiest (and happiest) way to put in sleeves. I learnt this from A Fashionable Stitch during the 1880 sewalong. Great technique – try it!!

6611 inside jacket lining

McCalls 6611: inside jacket front

McCalls 6611: inside jacket shell front

While this was an easy jacket to construct, I spent quite a bit of time pondering the sleeves. They felt overwhelming in the floral print. I almost chopped them off to 3/4 length. However I’m a girl who likes to keep her options open, so I decided to leave the length but use the contrast cotton sateen for the lower sleeve lining. This way when I roll the sleeves back, the sleeves match the lapels which I think looks nicer than seeing common-as-muck bemsilk. I think I’ll always wear this with the sleeves rolled back – I love the informal look – but the option is there for full length if I like or an evening turns chilly (I am now too old and sensible to shiver in the name of fashion).

To my eye the cropped jacket length is better balanced with cropped or slightly shorter sleeves, particularly in this busy print. I considered cuffing the ends but I love jackets with the sleeves shoved or rolled up the forearms. It appeals to my casual sense of style (…that’s if I have something you can call style).

While this pattern does not call for lining fabric, it appears you use sateen or something similar throughout, I think it would be very stiff hence the use of bemsilk and cotton batiste instead (which came from the stash).

I love the peplum as it gives me some shape. I do think the jacket would be great with a button closure, maybe a button and loop, as the lapels don’t really ‘drape’ and I like the look of it closed with the contrast lapels, they don’t look so great flopping around as they are rather pointy than soft and floppy.

Do I feel like a Fashion Star. Nah, not so much – I’m only 5 foot 4!

McCalls 6611 - lapels

It will pain you to know that we took these pictures in my lunch break. This location is our Town Green (riverside) and is all of 90 seconds walk from my desk.

…and one bad hair day shot for laughs… I’m waiting for that sponsorship call from a shampoo company…

McCalls 6611 - bad hair day

McCalls 6611 – back hair day

OK finally what you have been waiting for sooooo patiently, reading my rambling and skimming over my pictures….

Want to be a Fashion Star too? As you know the start of my journey to make this jacket began with the wrong size. I’ve been emailing Suzy and she is cool bananas with the giveaway (thanks Suzy!). So if you would like to join the McCalls 6611 congo line please let me know in the comments below. The giveaway is for size range 14-22

Suzy also sent me a sensational little package of vintage patterns – I’ll blog them when I’m home again – thank you Suzy I love them!! I’ll be home again soon enough.

Give the girl some Pendrellicin – she’s a Sewaholic (the Pendrell)

Note: I’m on holidays and typing this on an IPad and using the WordPress app (which is good but not perfect) so excuse any weird formatting ‘stuff’ – I blame the app – not Happy Hour.

Jungle January here I come!

Sewaholic Pendrell -when two wrongs make a right

Sewaholic Pendrell -when two wrongs make a right

OK. To be honest here is another Sewaholic pattern that I didn’t think was quite me. Too frilly, too… I don’t know, too something! Frills kinda scare me. Then I saw Trisha’s version in her Top 5 of 2012 and I decided to give it a try after all. Trisha’s didn’t look too frilly or fussy so I decided to give it a whirl.

And then for some reason I decided despite the fact I’m not into animal print at all either, that I would make it for Pretty Grievances, Jungle January.

Yeah Lizzy that makes sense, put to things together you are not horribly keen on and see if that works…

Sewaholic Pendrell front view

Sewaholic Pendrell front view

Ah yeah, in this case that old saying two wrongs don’t might a right? Grandma was wrong, wrong, wrong.

I think that situation was somewhat helped along by this nice rayon fabric that I dug up in Lincraft. It’s lightweight, lots of drape and not at all shiny. I fear shiny things.

What to say about Pendrell? That hasn’t been said already? It’s a lovely pattern – hello? it’s Sewaholic what did you expect Lizzy? As reported on the blogs here and there, it’s quite long – however given I had no intention of wearing this little number untucked that wasn’t a drama.

The construction wasn’t quite what I expected. It’s princess seamed. You sew back and front middle pieces together at the shoulders, then you attach the first set of frills – which are 100% cool as I was freakin’ out about hemming those little puppies. You fold the frills in half and then attach the frills to the central pieces raw edges together. Then you kinda sew the side pieces and attach the second set of frills, sew the side to the middles in what felt like the LONGEST seam in history… ARGH I’m on holidays… get the pattern, make the top and read the instructions people! Tasia needs to eat.

In essence the raw edges and whatnot are sandwiched between seams and binding making it quite a tidy little make. It’s like frills for cheaters! Or cheetahs in this case (pun intended… sorry).

I do admit I was kinda hating this during the making and thinking “argh this is sooooo NotBusyLizzy whatcha thinkin’ girl??”‘. I was exceptionally tired and headache-y and it was a battle of me and my prejudices. Then I popped it on and I was SoSurprisedBusyLizzy – it’s not too shabby at all. What the???? Could I have been wrong?? (don’t tell ELH… Argh! he’s a blog follower, my cover is blown!)

My neck bias binding looks like a drunk monkey stitched it on (or one with a seriously nasty headache and attitude). Unfortunately I cannot share this joyous sewing triumph with you as I forgot to document my shoddy work in all its glory – I’m in Tasmania and my top is in New South Wales (I uploaded these images before I left – hence no back view pictures either). Sorry darlings, you will just have to trust me on this one – sometimes my sewing does suck. The good news is it looks quite snappy on the outside and since I stopped wearing clothes inside out when I was about 3 years old I’m not too upset.

So what did I learn?

Yes, yes, I’m a confessed Sewaholic – that’s not news to anyone!

When I first started sewing Sewaholic was fairly new as a pattern company, I didn’t think any of them were very ‘me’. Ummmm yes, might have been wrong there….

The thing we all need to learn is… look past the line drawings, look past the company styling. You might think a pattern is not ‘you’ – but perhaps it is.

You need to find ways to make things/patterns ‘your style’, put your stamp on them. You don’t need to be Tasia to wear Colette, or Sarai to wear Colette – just be you.

Pick your fabric, choose your accessories and make it yours.

Haven’t you noticed that the most interesting person in the room is always the person who is completely themself, comfortable in their own skin and not quite like anyone else?

You can be that person.

Sew something outside your comfort zone.

Surprise yourself.

Life is short (and our pattern stashes large).

Sewaholic Pendrell - better leave this stuff to Bimble & Pimble

Sewaholic Pendrell – better leave this posing stuff to Bimble & Pimble

And have I worn the Two Wrongs Make a Right Jungle January? Yes ma’am! I wore it to work as photographed, pencil skirt and heels. And this photo shoot was totally Jungle – I was munched by v.hungry mosquitoes with every snap of the camera. Ouch!

Thanks Anne for dragging out my inner cheetah. xox.

#SewingDares complete

Sewing Dares
So things gotta little outta hand on Twitter the other day and the sewing Tweet Peeps started to throw #sewingdares around the globe – nothing scary – just little challenges to shake up our sewing worlds. So what dares are floating about out there? And who is to blame for such craziness? Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow of course – she who threw us into the Top 5 of 2012 frenzy! Read more about #SewingDares here… perhaps you want one?

What was my #SewingDare?

Hack a favourite pattern into something new. And Ooah suggested I hack Maria Denmark Day/Night Cowl top into a dress.

So I did.

Some suggested I just lengthen the top and turn it into a dress… however I had just cut out the Dress of Legend – Vogue 1250. It occurred to me that the way this dress is constructed is the secret to it popularity and flattering shape. I decided I could use that as inspiration to hack my beloved cowl neck pattern into a dress which had similar properties to The Dress of Legend.

If you haven’t made Vogue 1250 – The Dress of Legend (I think I was the last blogger ever to make this) – it had just three pieces… a front piece, and upper back piece and a back neck facing piece. “but what covers the junk trunk SewBusyLizzy??” I hear you cry. The front piece wraps around from the waist down to cover the junk trunk (consider them junk trunk flaps). There is a centre back seam over the junk trunk and your back is covered by just one pattern piece.

My rough muslin make up of Vogue 1250 looks like this…

The famous Vogue 1250

The famous Vogue 1250 – sorry a very tired SewBusyLizzy picture after work and drinks.

I lengthened the Maria Denmark Day-to-Night top in a similar manner – adding junk trunk flaps. I shortened the back piece and scooped it.

The hacked Maria Denmark Day to Night dress

The hacked Maria Denmark Day to Night dress – forgive the messy side, I haven’t trimmed the side of the pattern piece which sits on the fold. Messy Girl!

As my pattern pieces require no back neck facing as I simply finished the back neck and armholes with invisible elastic – so there are just two pattern pieces. Vogue 1250 has three.

I got some super cheap fabric to experiment with. The front piece is not quite perfect, I need to fiddle a little with the angles of the side cut-out area. From pattern re-draft to cutting out to sewing to wear – about one hour (loving that overlocker/serger). Yes really. This is what I ended up with…

The 'hacked' Maria Denmark Day to Night dress

The ‘hacked’ Maria Denmark Day to Night dress

Maria Denmark Day to Night dress- back

Maria Denmark Day to Night dress- back

How do the two dresses compare? Well I like the blue fabric of the Vogue better – however I prefer the construction of the Day to Night dress, the overall shape, the cowl is much easier to construct and it’s also got more fabric in the cowl and the inside edges of the cowl don’t peek out the way they do in the Vogue. Plus this is a better size for me. The smallest size of the Vogue just feels too roomy across my shoulders and I feel a little swamped.

I think I might re-make my pattern hack again. In the blue fabric, fiddle with the side pattern pieces, shorten the back piece a little. This is more my kinda dress than the Vogue dress. It feels younger, funkier and less fiddly than the Vogue. The fit is much better.

And is it a Day to Night Dress? Yes. I wore it to work the day after I made it and to drinks that night with colleagues. Oh and I got lots of compliments… and lots of oogling looks…

#SewingDare WIN.

I’ve told you before – you NEED this pattern.

Quikc post tonight – not sure if I’ve left out any vital info, just ask questions if any of the above is not clear :-)