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!