Tuesday, 9 December 2014

BurdaStyle Designer Cascade Dress 05/2011

This isn't may usual style of dress!
However when I saw the pattern on the Burdastyle blog, my mind started digging through my fabric stash with a single-minded purpose.
I had more of this fabric left than I initially thought - Its a gloriously tacky synthetic (chiffon?), with lots of drape that I got from Darn Cheap Fabrics,  because - well it was darn cheap.
With some short torso adjustments, adding some lining to the bodice and skirt back, and chopping 30cm off the hem - She emerged in all her floral avian glory.


 The inside looks a bit funky, as I didn't line the front dress panels - I thought the drape would distort a bit and the pattern is soooo busy, it doesn't matter seeing the wrong side of the fabric.
I think this will be a good dress from the holidays!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Colette Clovers

Hows everyone in internet land?
I'ts been a few weeks since I last posted and in that time some outfits popped into existence from my sewing machine.
I'm always certainly a bit behind the times when it comes to trends in fashion... But I think I got in on the tail end of this one..
Really bright pants!
Colette clovers
This is only my second pair of Clovers -I altered the pattern to fit me about 2 years ago. I hoped it was still the right size, (just incase I cut it out with extra seam allowances!). It was pretty good with some back darts added in!
Is it just me or is it ridiculously hard to find Clover appropriate fabric? Thick (interesting) and with just the right amount of stretch??
I dislike (as much as one can dislike) buying fabric from Lincraft and Spotlight, it always seems to be a bit shit quality. However they do have that perfect mix of cotton and lycra!
Can you justify using fabric that won't last for years?
<the top in the pic is a pretty lace one I also made yonks ago- I love that I can tuck the lining into my pants (no coin slot for me!) and the lace edging floats over the top of my pants >
They do match everything! Sooo many colours!
And yes! These are bike friendly:)

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Strathcona T-shirt by Threadtheory designs

How awesome is jersey? The cows, the caramels, not so sure about the state - but the fabric sure is smashing! 
I've been frenzying a bit since working out my woes with my serger - I think its a bit racist, it only works with the white thread I have- the black thread always snaps and snags, the weird thing is that its the same brand... 
I went through my wardrobe the other day (working my way through the Colette wardrobe Architect series) and found I have masses of fixing to do... so rather than do that, I decided to sew a t-shirt for the boy. 
He chose some fabric, all in much more boring colours than I would choose! He totally refused the amazing orange jersey I found :( 
But I did get some colour in with the first t-shirt I made him! Yey I'm happy! Even if its only a pocket....

I used Threadtheories Strathcona Henley pattern (but made variation 2, not the Henley). 
I cut a large, and was a bit nervous that it wouldn't fit when I tried it on myself! Its quite a narrow cut!  
But it fits him perfectly!  It really is a fitted style, so next time I might flair it out a bit if he wants. 
I also shortened the sleeves by about 3 inches and the hem by 2 inches!   AND added a pocket! I was a bit worried about the colour of the fabric being too close to his skin colour! You know those colours when you have to look twice to make sure someones actually wearing a shirt! Lucky he's pale after those years working full time :) .  One of his RTW shirts has a pocket on it, and I really love the contrast - As he didn't refuse directly,  I quickly pulled out some of the liberty fabric fat quarters I had for him to choose! 
Wooo he picked the one I thought was the best! ANIMALS (with suitcases!)  
Now what other versions should I make? 
Ahh liberty fabric loving
Pretty excited about how professional the double needle makes the finishing look!
Ah ha! Begrudgingly taken on my model :) 

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Quick sews: Matilda leggings

I ordered the most ridiculously bright jersey on a whim from Darn Cheap Fabric. Its quite thick and turned out to be even brighter than I thought it would be!
I've been a bit stuck with pants to wear when biking.  After scraping the backs of my legs quite deeply with the pedals (so un-coordinated!) I will always wear long pants, so I only really have one pair of stretchy jeans that I commute in.  I found the Sewloft Matilda leggings pattern in one of my internet frenzies and best yet IT'S FREE!!
I stuck together, cut out pattern, cut out the fabric, sewed it up and made much needed butt adjustments in all of about 3 hours!
It turns out my rear is much larger than the pattern is based on, I added another band that I tapered down to only 1cm around the front and up to 8 cm at the back.
I quite like what it looks like actually, so next time I make this pattern (yes there will be a next time!) I'll have to decide wether to alter the back inseam height or just add another band... Hmm.
As I serged most of the seams, I top stitched the seam of the extra band down so it sat nicely.
What do you think?  Can I wear these in public?

Too bright for public outings? They would match my bike :) 

Butt band! This fabric is actually awesome as it hides details well in its busy-ness!

Yep - This is a particularly unflattering angle - However now you can see my top stitching and the extra butt band :)   - And also how well they match my ugg boots !
I'm not usually a pink person,, so it seems this week is not usual! Pretty ranunculi from our garden and wild roses from Rookwood cemetery. 

Friday, 19 September 2014

Senna Dress by Design by Lindsay

Possibly predictably for a sewing blog, lately there has been less of the blogging and more of the sewing (However both have been trumped by the "more of the phd'ing").
With the tail-end of OWOP (one week one pattern) and a mass of unphotographed garments, (this is really the critical step as to wether something gets blogged)  I thought I would just skip everything on my list and start with the fun ones.  

I tested a pattern! 
I love that there are so many sewists giving pattern drafting a go and releasing their own designs - 
The pattern was the Senna dress/skirt/top by Lindsay,  who is a regular contributor on Burdastyle, Kollabora and on my instagram feed :) 

Being the first pattern I have tested, I was glad that the pattern was quite easy! and only a few pages to stick together! And even better it was in jersey - its been stretch central in my sewing hovel lately. 

The key variable for this pattern is choosing the right weight fabric.  I had a few hours on Thursday night free so I thought I would quickly sew up a practice version of the skirt with some grey thick jersey in my stash - Bad Fabric Choice Alert- The weight was similar to yoga pants, quite stable.  I knew it would be too thick - but persevered anyway.... Of course it didn't work... Whilst the skirt is still wearable, it bunches around my waist rather than nicely distributing the gathers along its length.   
So the key lesson here is... Use the recommended fabrics! Oh silly Ruth.  

I decided to make the pattern up properly and spent a nice few hours on Saturday sewing up the dress version (also in a dark grey) in a suitable weight jersey!  I'm really happy with how it turned out. I don't really have any figure hugging dresses, but this one strikes the nice balance of being fitted down the bottom, without revealing every bump and being baggy up top, so its still work appropriate.  
this will actually be a really good work staple dress.  
As Lindsay describes in the instructions, as the skirt is drafted with a negative ease once on the gathers should stay put -  I found this especially true if you wear tights underneath! It sat really nicely.  
In terms of fit, I thought the pattern was spot on.  the measurements for the 10 matched my hips and waist spot on, however I'm much smaller up top.  I didn't bother grading down and it still looks fine due to the baggy style.  
One alternation I did make was adding some more lines of ruching down the sides.  With the failure version I serged the pattern pieces together, however I think one of the reasons that it didn't gather up much was that I sewed the ruching on the serged seam - lots of bulk! For the "good" version I serged the sides of each piece individually, and then sewed one line on the seam allowance close to the seam line.  It did curl up nicely, however I thought the seams would site nicely if I sewed them open with another line of gathering.   I'm happy with how it turned out! 
To make sure it reached its full gathered potential I wetted the dress under the tap and then popped it in the dryer on medium.  BAM - the elastic shrunk up nice and snug! 
Are you tempted by this one? It's certainly deliciously comfortable !  (I even can ride a bike in it!).
Now for a floral one (with a lower neckline)!
Yey - work appropriate comfy dress!

Now everytime I look at these pics, I realise I really should have ironed the neckband - I was just tooo excited to wear it! 

Here's a blurry pic of the too thick skirt.... it kinda worked (yes I still wear it!) 
BTW - how lovely is the necklace? Its made by a friend at PostPressDesigns   - I wear it all the time when I need more floral in my life.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The whole mandarin - Mandarin Cordial & Mandarin and Almond Praline

I tend to take it as a challenge not to waste food! Freezer soup is always underway in our house (any veggies that are getting wilty are chopped up and popped in a container in the freezer, then made into soup when the containers full!) 
I experimented with using the spent grain from brewing (12) - still have heaps of it so I think the compost heap is a realistic final fate for that!
Lemons that have been falling off our tree I have been collecting weekly and packing in salt - easy preserved lemons! 
But citrus peel? Worms don't like it- compost gets overwhelmed- they are full of all these lovely essential oil but it's oh so bitter... 
I went home the other weekend and we harvested the mandarin tree, my parents only have one and the fruit were teeny tiny so we decided to make cordial.
----------------------------------------Mandarin Cordial ------------------------------------------
Whole juiced mandarins -
1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of boiling water for every 1 cup of juice
Add tartaric or citric acid to taste.
A few spoonfuls of the processed/minced skin mixture

Bring the juice and sugar to a simmer, add the processed skin,  cool and bottle in sterilised jars. 

We had a bit of an experiment wether the whole fruit could be juiced- NO,, the liquid was really bitter due to the piths oils. However adding a bit of the minced skin mixture really added to the cordial changing it from tooth rotting sweet to something that actually resembled a fresh mandarin! Happy discovery!

Tooo yummy for a proper picture

Lots and lots of cordial! Simmering away

  So we peeled off the skin but rather than throwing it away- dried it in the oven. My sister used to add the dried skin to casseroles, and it certainly has a lovely mandariny flavor as when dried it loses some of the bitterness and goes deliciously caramelly.

But what to do with ALL that dried skin?


--------------------------------Mandarin and almond praline!--------------------------------

1/4 cup milled mandarin skin (powder) 
1/3 cup toasted almond meal
1 cup sugar 

Whiz up some of the dried mandarin skin in my food processor- until the largest bits were ~3mm. Then toast some almond meal (I'm sure you could use larger nuts, but we didn't have any!). 
Add the sugar directly to a heavy bottom saucepan, melt stirring continuously on high heat until it caramelises- be careful not to let it go too dark! It changes quickly!  Then chuck in the powders and combine quickly- spread onto baking paper ( lightly oiled if not using non stick) 
Let set and try not to burn your fingers eating it as it cools!
I coated some of mine with chocolate and sprinkled with more of the powdered dried mandarin skin! 
Pretty and tasty!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Local is Lovely

Flash back to the Lamb and Quince sausage rolls        
The book up for a newly formed cookbook club was Sarah Hansens Local is Lovely! Very apt as most of the club members went to school in Orange, near where Sarah is based. Conveniently I already had the book, but I had only made one recipe!  - Lamb and quince sausage rolls! Om nom nom.

I decided to start out easy and just try two recipes this month (maybe I'll sneak another later).

The first was Goats Cheese Fritters.
Mmm ricotta'ry goodness - and ever so easy to make!
When I worked in the lab, it was readily acknowledged that if you wanted to make a batch of chemicals, not to let the chemist do it.. As they will invariably chop and change the method and ingredients, ending up with something totally different.... This is me in the kitchen!
Predictably I'm hopeless at baking, where you actually do need to follow the recipes (or just be brilliant ... that's not me)
This recipe was actually nice and robust, able to withstand my tampering!
I decided to make my ricotta - so I used however much 2L of milk makes, I guessing it was the same magnitude as 250g!
The other variation was using Panko crumbs instead of normal breadcrumbs - we always seem to have heaps in the cupboard... very weird! This was also my first adventure with shallow frying - I discovered that shallow frying is better done in a frying pan rather than a heavy pot... yes it seems obvious now.

Also that it helps to swish the pan a bit so they don't stick (you also feel like a chef when you do it!).
Et voila - fried cheese what could be better?

The second recipe that I tried out was the Honey and Harissa Chicken Legs (sans minted yoghurt sauce because I forgot!).  As suggested by the ever organised Claire, I made the marinade the night before so I could just pop it in the oven when I got home!  Didn't plan on only getting home at 8:30 so dinner was a 'tad' late.
I mixed up some cous-cous with garden greens as the book recommended for a side.  
This recipe would be pretty easy to pimp with some preserved lemons or maybe a salsa verde? It needed a bit of acid to cut through the richness (I suppose that's what the yoghurt sauce supplied) but a splash of lemon was pretty good! The curdling of the yoghurt in the marinade when cooked was a bit odd in appearance but it tasted nice so that's all that's important.

So that's my contribution - Have you tried out any recipes in the book? 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Friday finds

I thought I might make this a regular post, I seem to spend so much time looking at amazing creations and inspiring articles that I should share them:)

  1. Pretty Pictures:This is so so so pretty - floral much?
  2. New Patterns: So this might not be chronologically new - but its new for me! Another pattern win for Jen Beeman of Grainline studios, now I just need to wait for some warmer weather.
  3. Clever Hack: In true Tilly and the Buttons styling, a clever hack for adding a bow to the back of the Nettie pattern - Its ridiculous how amazing that pattern is already. 
  4. Inspiring article: this article was so nicely constructed, even if depressing!
  5. Blogger creations: Tasha from By Gum By Golly with an amazingly beautiful dress AND cardigan! Inspiring stuff!
  6. Current projects: You guessed it, I made a Nettie body suit this week!
  7. Recipes to try: It was suggested I try making Irish soda bread from a colleague at work, as I always seem to kill off my sourdough culture!
  8. Locally made: Made590 is a newly discovered gem (for me! I know its been around for yonks!) - Loving their gorgeous fabrics!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Ring your Bell

Wanna see my new baby?
She is soooooooo beautiful it hurts!
We have decided to call her "Dijonnaise" - But only if you say it with a bogan accent. 
A shout out to Tokyo Bikes is definitely deserved - I know I should have done more research, as this was only the second brand I test rode but I am sooo happy with my choice!.  The first one brand I rode was so disappointing (rusty chain, poorly adjusted brakes, reallllly heavy bike) the moment I got on a Tokyo bike - It was sold! Its been about a month and I'm still in love! I've been commuting everyday and its a joy to ride! (and gets lots of comments from other cyclists!).  The guys at the store, helped fit my lights and my heavy duty lock and there's a free first service at the 3 month mark to tighten up the cables.
Tokyo bikes are targeted as an inner city commuting bike- Road tyres, light frame, but also smaller wheels to make for a faster acceleration! Its really responsive and maneuverable! As I got a medium frame (they have S, M and L) it looks pretty good with the smaller wheels - the large frame looks a bit odd I think.

On another note - I'm loving the work of Sydney Cycleways at the moment! Doing some great work encouraging more people to get on their bikes ;)

Who doesn't love a pretty poster?!
In celebration of some new bike paths that have been just opened in Redfern we went to an event the other weekend, Mmm so much coffee! (Yes it was kinda cold!). 

Mmmm -  pedal your own smoothies

Yey! Smooth new bike path
 How great are fenders!, I've been riding through puddles on purpose and no dresses stuck in the wheels for me...yet.

Sunday, 22 June 2014


Since its been about a month since I last posted, what have I been up to ?

 PhD Progress Reviews & Marking  (they deserve the capitalisation!)

Its calmed down a bit this week and I set some evenings aside for some sneaky sewing - I'm getting much better with only sewing for a few hours - Otherwise I tend to frenzy and end up finishing a dress at 4am in the morning - he finish is as you guessed.. not great!

I've been making the Flora dress - two versions at once, because... that's how I role? - I saw this dress on another sewing blog and decided I really like the idea -

I'm quite flat up top I think the original flora wrap top would look a bit odd. I made the modified version out of a beautifully soft chambray (with polka dots!) from Tessuti.  The other dress I'm really excited about - I got this fabric from Fabric-a-brac! 3m of it (just enough as its quite narrow!)
I modified both bodice patterns with a 1 inch SBA  (I'm getting quite good at them I think! - Thanks Bluegingerdoll)

I made the straps out of a matching beige silk - and lined it with (synthetic as it turned out) satiny fabric.  I found out it was synthetic, when I melted the corner of it just as I had finished joining the lining to the zip (hence the label covering the hole - Oh Ruth...)

And an action shot! 
Yes its really cold at the moment! No pics without tights for the next few months! 
 What has June brought for you so far?