Monday, 24 September 2012

The peplum toile - V8815

I was planning on making up my peplum top straight from the pattern but as usual, the measurements had me totally puzzled. If I went by what was written on the packet, I probably would have made up a size 20, but seeing as I only had the pattern in size B5 (8-16), I figure I'd try my luck with a toile using the largest size (16) using some fabric on hand. I've made Vogue patterns in smaller sizes previously so I wasn't too convinced but I felt a little more reassured by Tracy's version on PatternReview - it looked great and her comments around sizing were on par with what I was hoping to make up.

Check it out - the 16 (also known as a size I've never sewn up, ever!) fits perfectly! What's up with that? I would've been pretty narky if I had actually gone out and bought the larger sized pattern because of the measurements. I did sit there for a bit and think hmmm maybe I just have an odd shaped body but really - it's not THAT weird...

Anyhoo, I'm happy that the toile did fit. I might even try to make this into something wearable - I thought the print would be a bit much for this style of top but it's turned out better than I expected. I'll see how I go, but for now I get to cut up some of the good stuff. *yay*

I'm probably going to make it in boring - I like to think classic hehe - black so it's a bit more versatile and office friendly. I'm still deciding about sleeves vs. no sleeves...

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Drape drape arrival

Look what arrived in the mail today - Drape Drape - in English!

Excitements galore!
I'm going to spend a good amount of time tonight flicking through this but from the bits and pieces I've picked up from the blogosphere, I think there will be at least a couple of things I'll want to try making up from here.

I sure love online shopping :)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Japanese toddler pants

I was given a Japanese pattern book awhile ago (thanks Kaz Kaz!) and as much as I'd like to recommend it to people as a great little book for baby/toddler clothing, I can't read Japanese and this one doesn't have any English on it at all (unlike the famous Stylish Dress Book, which at least has an English title). Here's a picture of the cover at any rate in case anyone wants to do some hunting and/or translating. 

The pants are made out of linen, with the pockets trimmed with some super cute Kokka fabric, which I picked specifically with my little nephew HYB in mind. 

I'm pretty happy with the way they turned out, although I think my lack of Japanese reading skills resulted in slight incorrect measurements - the trouser cuffs don't actually look like cuffs but more like a standard wide hem.

My favourite bit? The super cute pockets! It's the first time I've made rounded pockets and the technique shown in the book of gathering the corners of the pocket bottoms really worked well.

Here's a close up of the pockets attached.

Loving that traffic jam!
I'm tempted to make a matching top out of the Kokka fabric but I suspect it might be a bit too pyjama-top like. Thoughts?

Monday, 17 September 2012

Tank and peplum planning

I've been continuously thinking about the fabric I used to make my dressy Tiny Pocket Tank and figured that even though it's been a couple of weeks since I bought the fabric, I might get lucky and still find some left to make into a tank or dress for myself. I hotfooted it down to the closest Spotlight but alas - no luck.

It wasn't a waste of a trip though - after a bit of scrounging around I managed to find some other pretty prints - not quite the same but still in the vein of what I was going for so I'm pretty happy. I  bought enough of each to make up a tank - at least one of them will end up in my closet I'm sure.

I also picked up Vogue 8815 - it seems to be the latest thing that everyone is sewing up so I thought I'd jump on the peplum bandwagon too :)

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Tiny Pocket Tank - the dressy bird version

After a trial run at my first Tiny Pocket Tank, I decided that I was going to make a more upmarket version of this Grainline Studio pattern for a birthday present for my SIL. Something that could be worn both during the day and at night - out shopping or out for drinks. 

Now... upmarket, fashionable, trendy - where would I find the perfect material.... certainly not *gasp* Spotlight surely??

But yes, Spotlight was a winner! Check it out - I fell in love with this print as soon as I saw it! Navy blue, shiny, slinky and with an absolutely gorgeous bird print - how could I say no? 

All I can say is lucky for my SIL I'm a lot bigger than she is because I was very very tempted to keep it for myself. Pointless if really all it fits is my arm and half my head ;) 

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Creamy garlic and prawn risotto

I'm love love loving my new Thermomix! Risotto in less than 20 minutes - yes please! I think I've only bothered to make risotto once ever before in my life and because that took almost 2 hours (and tasted kinda average *shhh*) I never made it again. 

Cue the Interwebs and Thermomix users on blogs, websites and forums - talk about recipes galore! Amongst the lot -  whole heap of risotto variations, including chorizo and capsicum, mushroom with macadamia cheese, light lemon and chicken, leek and garlic. I could have kept reading for hours but kept coming back to a recipe on Full Little Tummies for a creamy garlic and prawn version - *YUMMMMMM*

Being a newbie with the machine, I was a bit overenthusiastic with the stock and accidentally put a bit too much in. I also added some spinach in to bump up the veggie content.

The result was a slightly watery risotto (don't look too hard at the picture) but it still tasted amazing!

Definitely one to make again :)

Sunday, 26 August 2012

I *heart* my new toy

What can I say - I splurged. 

I'm now a proud new owner of my very own Thermomix. I could justify the purchase by saying that my kitchen is equipped with a couple of pots, a pan and a wok, and not much else, but that would be a lie. I did buy a mortar and pestle when I was whipping up my green curry paste ;)

Honestly though, I did need to get a bunch of appliances for the kitchen. I'm used to just reaching into a cupboard and having access to a blender, food processor, cake mixer - even a grater - so there has been no cake baking for a long time now (possibly not a bad thing but an unrelated subject). Cue the all-in-one magic cooking machine - very suitable for places with limited storage. How could I resist?

So yes, I decided that this purchase would be my reward to myself for starting my (not-so-)new job, and help my efforts to cook at home a little more. Hurrah! I'm super pleased with my purchase - but now I just need to work out what to name her...

Saturday, 11 August 2012

My Tiny Pocket Tank - finally

Work has been kind of ridiculous, which has resulted in minimal crafty goodness. Unfortunately the lack of sewing probably just compounded the general feeling of not-quite-rightness, so I decided to put it right and temporarily borrow a machine for the new place.

There isn't an ideal place for the machine here quite as yet so I've been making do an a bar stool at a kitchen table. The result? A backache, a tiny pocket tank and a huge level of satisfaction that I've finally made something *nod*

Tiny pocket tank - the trial
This is what people tend to call a wearable muslin - I just wanted to see how this as to sew up and I thought I'd use some nice material to test things out. It's turned out well and I got a compliment on it just the other night!

Overall I'm pretty happy (the print is so forgiving!) but my binding could be much improved. I think I'll need to make the next one a size smaller - this just seems a touch big for me. Hopefully by then I have a little crafting corner with my own machine and table *fingers crossed*

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Walking a run and fabric selection

I entered myself into the 10km run in the annual Run Melbourne fun run way back in January when I was afraid that moving back to Melbourne might be boring - and training for a run would not only be good for my health and fitness but would also keep me focused and stop me from getting too bored after all the fun I was having in HK.

I'd be the first to admit that 10kms was highly ambitious for me, but I had decided that I'd aim for it and would be happy if I ran even half of it. Having never really been fit and struggling to even jog 1km (I know I know I am so weak) I trained and trained in my own slow and steady way and I think I was on the way to achieving my target of at least half the course being run until I got hit with this stupid virus! So frustrating - the whole week has been an effort in getting (and staying) out of bed for a full day - even going out to the shops quickly to get food has had me strung out on the couch for a good few hours.

As a result, I had to downgrade my 10km run to the 5km walk/run. Really disappointing, especially knowing that a few of my other friends were going to be doing the 10kms and I had been looking forward to doing it with them.

I woke up this morning and the day was cold but sunny, and to be honest I was unsure if I was going to be able to complete the walk/run, but by the the time I got to the start line I was feeling better and really enjoying the atmosphere.

Check out the crowd at the starting line - this was just for the 5kms!
There were so many people there participating - and there were a few dress-ups as well which always makes it fun. I managed to sneak a snap of some of them in line:

A group of Wallys (or Waldos if you're from the US/Canada) with a Stormtrooper in their midst

I did manage to finish the course - and it did help to do the walk with a couple of friends to chat to - and I even got a medal *hurrah*! Admittedly everyone got the same medal but hey, I'm not competitive like that ;)

Brand new and shiny and still in its plastic wrapping
The rest of the day was pretty much spent in bed - talk about feeling like I'd been put through the wringer - but I'm happy I did the walk today. I think I'll be signing up for another 10km run - perhaps in October - just to make up for missing out on this one. After all, what's the point of doing things without setting yourself some goals? :)

On the subject of getting things going, I managed to drop into Darn Cheap Fabrics while running errands over the weekend and picked up some new pins (I hate old dull ones) and a few metres of a cotton/silk blend for my Tiny Pocket Tank trial.

Tiny Pocket Tank prep - found the fabric on the clearance table - gotta love a bargain!
Can't wait to start cutting it out - hopefully I'll have something to show for it by the end of the week when I steal some time at a sewing machine!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Tiny Pocket Tank pattern - now in my pocket :)

I've been stuck at home all week with what I thought was the flu but has since been diagnosed as some crazy virus (the doctor didn't quite use the word crazy but I'm just telling it like it is). It's totally knocked me out and I haven't got much brainpower to use between naps and sniffles and eating a truckload of mandarins to boost the vitamin C levels.

I have however managed to do two things today:
  1. I've worked out how to back up my iPhone (apparently I had to delete all my songs before it would listen to me - still can't work out why that was necessary - thanks Apple!) 
  2. Bought the cutest pattern online - the Tiny Pocket Tank from Grainline Studio!
Image from Grainline Studios

I came across this pattern during my random trawling of the craft blogosphere and saw this great post from Kim of Oh, Sweet Joy - she'd done up the Tiny Pocket Tank in a few variations using some really pretty fabric. As per usual, I had to google it to see what other people thought, and found some great examples - there's even been a sew-a-long!

The pattern looks so simple and versatile that it could be done up in so many ways - casual and dressy - and of course with the new job, it would be great to make a few of these up for the office to wear under a jacket or blazer. I was sold. The pattern appeared for download almost instantaneously after payment - hurrah for online shopping!

Hopefully I get enough time at the machine to whip one up in the near future - it's a bit hard as I don't have a machine at my disposal right now :(

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Something from scraps

It never fails to amaze me how a few scraps of fabric, a needle and some thread can be transformed into something with shape and context.

From this....

Fabric scraps on a string

To this!

Teeny tiny bunting!

Not quite transmogrification a la Calvin and Hobbes, but still pretty impressive to me.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

(Green) Curry in a Hurry!

Who knew it was this easy to make Green Curry?

Actually I kinda did seeing as I did have a quick turn at making some in Thailand at Pum's Cooking School, but this is the first time I've made it at home.

Using the paste that I made a few days ago and following the recipe from my trusty cookbook, it was a pretty simple process.

Chopping up the ingredients for the steps above was probably the most time consuming part of it after making up the paste, but I think I'll get a little quicker as I cook more. 

Add some rice and a couple of kaffir leaves into the curry and voila!

Fragrant green curry and jasmine rice

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Still so easily distracted

So I did something silly and went and got myself a job. Admittedly, it can't be too healthy to be lazing around doing nothing all day, but I had grand plans for blogging and sewing during my little break from employment. The paper patterns were already being cut up!

Still, it has been almost couple of months since I got back from the overseas stint (time flies!), and I'll be happy to get some income in. It's still amusing to me though that as I am filling out the necessary paperwork for security checks etc for the role, my workspace ends up looking like this:


What can I say - the colours look so good with my keyboard!


Monday, 18 June 2012

Fresh green paste

As soon as I bought my mortar and pestle, I pounded out some fresh green curry paste - just like I was taught at Pum's Cooking School. Once again, the recipe came from the cookbook I bought after the lesson.

This smells AMAZING!

This is just about enough for 5 standard serves of green curry, but I did learn that more paste = more spice, so we'll see how long it lasts in my kitchen ;)

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Cutting paper patterns - urgh

Does anyone else hate cutting out paper patterns? It's the least enjoyable part of sewing for me. It's totally necessary because really, it's the starting point of the whole process (for my level of skill anyway) but it really has not much at all to do with the sewing of fabric. Ick.

Snipping through two episodes of Survivor Season 24 (which I would link to but cannot for fear of Google telling me who won - give me a week or so) gets me this.

That's a whole lot of leftover paper for just 2 patterns

On the upside, I guess I've now got a couple more patterns to pick from when I next feel lazy.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Me right now

I think the picture speaks for itself.

Thursday, 14 June 2012


I'm so happy to be back and reunited with the sewing machine - 16 months without one and I've been hanging out to just make something - anything - HUZZAH!


OK you can totally tell I'm excited right? So then - what to make? I was humming and hawing until I was told that the nieces and nephew would all be in the same city in a week or so. Obviously dresses for the girls and for the little fella... well he'd get something store bought (boys clothes are somehow a lot more difficult to deal with!)

The dress for Princess S needed to be just like her - bright and bold - so I picked out a red fabric with huge white polka dots and made it out in her favourite dress design, Butterick B4701, previously made here and here. I finished it off with a subtle daisy chain at the waist. The waist ties have been tied around the back of the dress so you can see the shape in this photo.

Princess S dress

For SY2, I wanted something more subtle and in a print similar to what you might find in Country Road. I ended up choosing a pale yellow with a leaf print, more suitable for the tropics where she lives. To make this dress I used the Get Creative: 4006 pattern I've used previously here and here - and altered it from the version modelled by Princess S by removing the V cutout in the neck, inserting a zipper and lining the bodice in a similar manner to the Butterick dress above. Waist ties also tied up around the back here.

SY2 dress
Very happy with how both dresses turned out - but I have to admit it was a bit slow going after not having sewn anything for 16+ months. I had to even stop to think about how to rethread my bobbin for a bit!

I'm hoping this means the end of the sewing drought for awhile :)

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Pad Thai Pum Style

I recently went to beautiful Phi Phi island with Fezbola for a bit of R&R but after a couple of days of lounging by the beach and pool, Fez had had enough and was getting mighty restless. Me, I could lounge about doing nothing for weeks on end, but I was unfortunate (stupid!) enough to get a bit of sunburn on my shoulder so we decided to make the most of our last day and signed up for a cooking class at Pum's Cooking School. We'd discovered it as we wandered the streets of Phi Phi and after some googling and reading great reviews about the Phuket branch, we signed up for a 1.5 hour class called Pum's Little Lipstick - just the right amount of time before we had to jump on a ferry.


Class was great - and it really opened my eyes as to how simple Thai cooking can be. I have always had a mental 'block' if you will about Asian cooking and how you need a million and one ingredients and sauces and bits and bobs. I was in fact so sold on what we did that I cam away from class with not just the small complimentary booklet of recipes you get as part of the class but also 2 additional cookbooks by Pum!

Lazy? Yes please!

This was the book that really caught my eye - it covers a lot of my Thai favourites, including Pad Thai which I decided to have a go at. It hadn't been covered by the class but it looked simple enough. Before starting though I needed to stock up the kitchen - the only Asian-y thing in the pantry was soya sauce, so a trip to the local Asian grocers was definitely required.

Lo and behold, $70 later

I also bought some huge king prawns (a few more than required by the recipe - because who doesn't love an extra prawn or three) and got down to business.

After doing a few things I had never done before (buying a savoy cabbage (I failed and got a green one instead), pre-soaking rice noodles, de-veining the prawns, making an omelette in a wok), I managed to come up with what I think was a pretty good Pad Thai - check it out!


I was pretty pleased with the result, especially the prawn omelette on the top. Super tasty.

Feedback was positive - but I was told that the green beans recommended by the book didn't really suit the dish and maybe bean sprouts might have been a better option. I'll be making it again so I'm happy to give that a bash next time round.

I also need to work out how to use fewer dishes because I hate washing up!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Stylish Dress Book - but better!

Woohooo! How lucky am I - I got an early birthday present from my good buddy Kaz Kaz and amongst all the goodies was a present wrapped in an old sewing pattern and a Tessuti ribbon. I guess it was a Japanese pattern book and I wasn't wrong - unwrapping it revealed a familiar figure of the scrawny Japanese model at the front of the Stylish Dress Book.

"I have this one, but thanks it was so thoughtful!" was my immediate reaction, but then I realised that this one was in English! ENGLISH I say!

Now I knew that it had been published in English (thanks Penguin for being the first to translate this one) but seeing as I had the Japanese one in my possession already I wasn't going to go out and buy it for myself but boy-o-boy am I a happy camper! Now I actually know the name of the author! How stupid does that sound - but seriously, not being able to read Japanese meant that I missed out on details like that - who knows what else I've been missing out on by just squinting at the line drawings and ignoring the written instructions...

I think I will need to have a bash at something from this very soon to see if the English helps a bit more :)

*happy* :D