Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Blog for a New Year

Here is my new blog:

The Forty Acre Wood

I've decided to focus on my Etsy store for the following year - I really need the distraction from uni study! So, it seemed right to create a new blog. If you're keen for a giveaway, follow the Forty Acre Wood because I'm hoping to send a few gift card packs away to readers :)

Happy New Year everyone, best wishes for the future and I'll see you at the Forty Acre Wood!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Blog-eth Updated-eth

Hello everyone!

It's been a long time (5-ish months isn't that long is the grand scheme of things is it?).

The good news is that I'm opening up my own Etsy shop soon. And no, I won't be selling clothes. Who needs the hassle of sizes, handsewn buttons and super-neat top-stitching? Instead, I'll start off by selling/attempting-to-sell my handmade cards and possibly some dolls, bags and other little knickknacks.

One of my favourite things in the world is making my own paper. It is instantly relaxing (lame but true) and it is always the first thing I jump at to do in the holidays. So I'm going to use this skill to make pretentious-but-awesome 100% recycled greeting cards, gift tags, notebooks et cetera. Perfect if you love the planet, or simply like sending recycled stuff to make you look good without having to do anything yourself at all (I'm a bit of both to be honest!).

Now I have to decide how to package and ship from Australia to various worldy places (damn expensive Australia Post!). Any ideas? A stiffened mailing envelope perhaps. I promise you all some pictures and definitely/possibly/not a giveaway to launch my Help-Sarah-Afford-Food/Rent-At-Uni shop*!

Here's a picture to get everyone excited:

Not a handmade card, but fantastic nonetheless. Have a brilliant day everybody!

* Not the real name. The actual name is delightfully artsy, referring to both trees and a great piece of literature. I thought this would appeal to hipsters, and encourage them to buy my stuff.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tie-Front Dress steps, with the help of Syndrome.

Here are the steps I went through to make my tie-front dress pattern, in case anyone is interested. It's pretty much the same as Anna Allen's instructions. There are heaps of technical difficulties to iron out. Does anyone have some ideas on how the tie could be attached better? I'm not totally happy with the finish on mine.

You'll need a basic bodice pattern to begin- I'm using an old See & Sew pattern here. I used my own bodice block before.

1. Trace around your basic bodice pattern - front & back.

2. Extend the shoulder lines on the bodice front to make a slight cap sleeve (is that what it's called?). I extended mine by 1.5cm to the left, and 4cm to the right.

3. Draw a diagonal line between the two circled asterisks. Cross out the front dart (its excess will be taken up by the tie).

4. My pattern sits at the natural waist, but I want it to sit just under the bust so I shortened it.

5. Match the bodice front and bodice back pieces at the shoulder seams. Extend the bodice back shoulder lines to match the front. My pattern has a scooped back, which I eliminated.

6. Necktie: Measure around the pattern's neckline. I added about 60cm extra for the tie, but this is totally up to you. My tie is 7" wide.

7. Skirt: My skirt is just two large rectangles, gathered and sewn to the finished bodice. In Anna's notes, she made the front skirt panel a bit higher at the center front, which I'll probably do next time round.

8. I sewed the shoulder seams then stitched the tie around the neckline, right sides together. Fold the tie in half, turning the seam allowance in and topstitch down.

Tie-Front Dress Experiment

After the most insanely busy semester of my life (I hate you, biochem), I have finally gotten some sewing done!

Like many other bloggers/BurdaStyle-ers I've been eyeing off the Mociun tie-front dress! I pieced together information from verypurpleperson, Anna Allen & FarahAJH to make my prototype.

I used my own bodice block - JJ's bodice sloper on BurdaStyle would be good if you haven't drafted your own. I worked off Anna's instructions to get these pattern pieces (v. messy!).

I left darts out from the front, but kept them at the back. The necktie is a long, 7" wide strip and the skirt is just two big, gathered rectangles. The bodice wasn't sitting snug, so I made a casing and threaded elastic though. I also gathered the front bodice side seams. This seemed to help a lot!

My reheated quiche is calling to me. Lunch time! More on this (and other projects) soon...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Planning to Sew.

I'm feeling quite chuffed after finding out one of my drawings has been featured on Odosketch! Unfortunately I can't claim the design as my own. It's based on an old matchbox cover I saw on Flickr.

Ah, the excitement! Honestly, anything would seem exciting to me after spending hours in a biochemistry prac. Although I am starting to find Gilson pipetting quite therapeutic :)

Anyway, I am in desperate need of a new Burda magazine. Especially seeing as the few I own are my mother's from the mid 80's. Here's a Burda skirt she made about 25 years ago, which I have stolen from the dress-ups.

I made the stripey shirt from a bundle of stretch cotton I picked up for $3 at Red Cross. Comfiest shirt in existence, but sadly needs to be worn with a singlet underneath (the photos don't show just how revealing it is...).

I would very much like to make this blouse:

But I should try and draft it myself for a challenge. Only another 2 months before I'm back home with a machine!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Second-hand Shopping & Nancy Drew Pants

Here are the latest additions to my wardrobe... Apologies for the dodgy pictures, my new college room has terrible lighting!

Granny pants from my grandmother. I think Nancy Drew would wear them. Initially, I was doubtful. Then I put them on, and was seduced by their comfortable-ness. They are now officially study pants. I may, in the near future, blog about clothes to study in. They make or break a study session for me (they must be insanely comfortable. And boring. If they are too interesting, I cannot concentrate on my study. So no glittery or tassel-ly things).

Thrifted pair of Wayne Cooper pants from a fancy Lifeline store on Adelaide St (Brisbane City). Never thought I would buy anything by Wayne Cooper, but they were cheap and quite comfortable (yes, they are study pants too. I am wearing them now. Because I am about to study. Maybe...).

To be continued!

I Do Not Like This Shirt.

My BurdaStyle studio has been quiet for months and months now, so I thought I'd upload this top I made from a free BurdaFashion pattern.

Does anyone else have those days where you want to sew something, but can't find the right pattern or fabric in your stash? Or do you constantly say 'I have no fabric' when you have cupboards filled with the stuff? I have this problem all the time, and often ends up producing shirts like this one here.

I used patchwork fabric (bad idea), which is too heavy to drape like the pattern intended. Instead it balloons out from the waistline much like a maternity top :S I also cut the top too short - I like my shirts to hang over the edge of waistbands, not sit just on top. My skin also reacts to the bias binding I used on the arm and neck holes... Weird!

Although this top is going into my I-will-never-wear-that-except-under-a-rather-large-jumper drawer, I'd definitely recommend this pattern to beginners. It's very quick and easy to make, although like most Burda patterns the instructions aren't too flash.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Easter holidays are over. It's time for uni.

Easter holidays - 6 days with a sewing machine! I began a heap of projects, but didn't really finish anything significant. But I DID find some pretty great things in a local St Vinnies store.

Vinnies had a fill-a-tote-for-$5 special - my idea of heaven :) I managed to cram about 20 books into the bag! Three were sewing books: the first a hideous 80s book by Charmain Watkins (this one will probably get donated back); the second a 70s book on tailoring; the third was the most exciting find - a 1967 Japanese pattern book by Kamakura-Shobo Publishing called Pattern Drafting.

I had a quick look on eBay, and the last sold for about $68 so I must be pretty lucky to have found a cheap copy! I've never drafted a pattern before, and I was a little nervous about it, but so far it's been a lot of fun. So far I've drafted four patterns from the basic sloper:

They have worked very nicely so far. But I won't be able to finish them off until July when I head back home. Which sucks. I'm seriously considering hand-sewing something... Maybe...

These are the next patterns I'm going to draft:

They are very Nancy Drew-like too! Here's a old Vogue pattern I picked up from a bazaar a few months ago:

I wish modern patterns looked like this!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Project Runway Peeves.

So it's Good Friday, the day that Jesus died on a cross, and I'm celebrating it by sitting in a comfy chair watching old Project Runway episodes and eating Milo out of the tin with a plastic fork from FoodWorks. I am a disgusting human being.

But I won't dwell on that thought too much longer.

I just finished watching the second series of Project Runway Australia, and I'm working my way through the seventh series of the American show. I love Heidi Klum, but Kristy always looks poised to kill. But I love, love, love Henry Roth!

Anyway, here are some things that irritate me (I love talking about things that irritate me. It's so therapeutic!).

Peeve #1: Hoods

What is with the obsession with hoods?!? It seems the designers think sticking a hood on an otherwise mediocre outfit will somehow make it 'unique' and 'exciting'. Admittedly, I like some of the hoods. Like the one in this first picture. But ten dresses and jumpsuits later, I've gotten the point. You like hoods.

Ok, so I couldn't find many pictures of stuff with hoods. But believe me, they're EVERYWHERE.
Peeve #2: Avant-garde challenges

I probably can't say it any better than Gertie did here. Don't get me wrong, I think avant-garde is one of the more enjoyable challenges to watch. But the designs seem to follow a trend very much like that of the hood I spoke of previously - lets make a simple dress and inject excitement into it by sticking a giant lobster on the model's neck.

Of course, I can't say they're not fun to look at! Henry Roth certainly got this right: "There is a fine line between avant-garde and ugly." Take a look at Ryan's dress from Season Two:

I don't even know what that is.

Peeve #3: Theatrics

I'm a sucker for reality shows. I can't help it. I religiously followed Popstars from the age of 10 (sadly enough, one of the first CDs I bought with my own pocket money was Bardot). Then there was Australian Idol, So You Think You Can Dance and now Project Runway. But the theatrics of Project Runway bugs me. I guess I'm more interested in the design of the dresses, which only occupies about 0.83% of the show.

Reminds me of what Josh Thomas said about So You Think You Can Dance on Good News Week (watch it here, it's really funny!)...

Peeve #4: Michael Finch

Yes, Michael deserves his own category.

The only thing you need to know about Michael is that he likes - sorry, not likes, LOVES - hair.

Best quote of the series came from Kellyanne: "Michael! I’m too stressed with my own stuff to feel the breeze of your swishing hair running past me every five seconds!"

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Good morning, it's Saturday!

I've always loved ParaNoire's stuff on BurdaStyle, so I was pretty excited this morning when I found her blog: Mademoiselle Chaos. She has posted a heap of free tutorials and patterns there, so it is well worth a look.

There are several crocheted button patterns. Here's the starfish one:

These 'Datasquids' are actually USB covers! So cute!

My favourite ParaNoire creation on BurdaStyle is her LENE top. I love the collar. I don't know why, but I really love it. It's based on BurdaStyle's Lydia pattern.

Check out the rest of ParaNoire's creations on BurdaStyle - there are some pretty amazing dresses and skirts there.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Treadle Machine Excitement.

Here are some dodgy pictures of the Singer treadle machine I picked up for $85 at a Bazaar (my favourite store in the world) a month ago. Both sets of grandparents gave me a bit of money for my 18th birthday almost a year and a half ago, so they're pretty happy I've finally spent it (the easel in the background is something else I bought with the money).

They dated it between 1908 - 1910, although I think it's about 20 years younger than that. I'm actually having tremendous trouble dating my machine, because old Singers are not stamped with their model number. The only thing to work from is the serial number and the manual. Unfortunately, it didn't come with a manual and the serial number only reveals the date of manufacture, not the model:

Here's a shortened version of the steps I've gone through during the uni holidays:
- Researched serial number. EA numbers aren't to be found anywhere. Excited that I may have a rare machine.
- Excited no more. Finally found a Singer site that said they were made in Clydebank, Scotland in 1935. Seems likely, as the cabinet has thistles all over it. Start to feel a little ill. The last highschool I went to was called Scots and it's emblem was a thistle.
- Checked out this site. Am thinking it is a 15-30 model. Have now forgotten the cabinet reminds me of highschool.
- Scanned a few (I mean a million) other sites. Yes, it looks very much like a 15-30.
- Looked at a 15-30 manual. The diagrams match the machine exactly. Feeling quite pleased with myself.
- Found manufacturing dates of the 15-30. They were not manufactured after 1933. *#&%!... Back to square one.
- Repeat these steps a gagillion times.
- Find an amazing site filled with old machine diagrams. One looks like mine!
- Move back to college. Forgot to write the amazing site's address down.
- So far spent 2.5hrs searching for amazing site. Cannot find amazing site. Starting to think I should study.
- Open chemistry book.
- Chemistry is boring. Close chemistry book, and resume searching for amazing site again.

There is still hope, as I have had some success with the cabinet on the International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society site! Here it is - Cabinet Table No. 6 for 15-30s, 66-1s, 115-1s & 127-3s, complete with thistle embossing and 7 drawers! Maybe it is a 15-30 after all...or maybe it's been placed in a different cabinet.

My treadle stand is a bit prettier though :) The 7th drawer is a little tilting thing you can see here. Pretty cute!

Structurally, I believe the cabinet is in pretty good condition. A few little things to fix up - as you can probably see, the tilting draw has a join that needs mending. The silky oak veneer top is in pretty atrocious condition; it looks like it has spent some time in the weather! Some people have very shiny, varnished versions of this cabinet. Ultra-shiny furniture isn't really my thing - I like the simpleness of my cabinet. The machine itself is beautiful, thankfully. I haven't gotten it to sew properly yet (a few tensioning issues), but it does move the fabric through as I turn the wheel and it hasn't made any bad sounds since I oiled it. The decals are a little worn and the paint is chipped in a few places, but I think this gives it a bit of character.

Easter isn't too far away, so I can't wait to get back home and polish it up! I'll need to order a treadle belt, and a new bobbin winder ring (the perished black rubber ring that sits parallel to the wheel).

Have a look at these wonderfully bizarre attachments that came with the machine...

They've been much easier to date than the machine itself! There are two feet on the top right - not sure what they're for yet, because they aren't labeled. Now I can't quite remember which is which, but I know I have a tucker, an adjustable hemmer and a binder. The biggest gadget in the middle and the bracket-looking thing on the bottom left are unlabeled as well. I have a feeling the bracket is not actually for the machine...

Wow, long post. But I'm so excited! I'm pretty confident I can get it working, and it'll make a beautiful piece of furniture as well. If anyone knows anything about treadle machines, please let me know. I'd love to hear from you :)

On a completely unrelated note, I drew 3 pigs last night. A quick search revealed to me that several other people had called their pigs 'Beardy' like I had. Astonishingly, only one of these pigs actually has a beard.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Procrastinating Fun

Take a look at this amazing online sketching site called Odosketch. I especially love the colour palette - the skin tones are just perfect!

It's probably the best creative outlet I've found on the net so far. Other than Draw a Pig of course - another excellent way to procrastinate. Just hit the 'Create a Sketch' button and enjoy! The really nifty thing about this site is that it saves every step of your drawing, so once you've finished you can watch your sketch emerge from the blank canvas (or computer screen I guess!) Here are some still images of my favourites from the gallery (plus one of my sketches that wouldn't save on Odosketch for some reason):

Ok, back to some study. Or maybe Odosketch...


Draw a Pig

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Nancy Drew is a Demon.

Is it just me, or do collector's dolls usually have a slightly odd look plastered on their faces? Have a look at this Nancy Drew doll from Tonner Doll Company:

I'm not sure what it is exactly, but her face worries me slightly. The outfit is gorgeous though - especially the shoes! This grey pinafore is certainly worth a squiz too...

This style is perfect for autumn and winter. Just a shirt underneath and a pair of sandals in warm weather, and a long-sleeved blouse and thick tights for the cold!