Friday, 18 September 2020

The Mallard Coat Jacket


Collar Up

So, I've made myself a new jacket.  I'm beginning to wonder if I have a slight addiction to them.

This one is the jacket length version of the Mallard Coat,  a pattern from  New Zealand company The Sewing Revival.  Initially I had seen the pattern, thought that the coat was nice and not worried about the jacket.  However that changed when I saw a version made in this exact fabric, and I decided I needed my own.  (They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery)  After finding out  from the maker that Spotlight stocked the fabric, which is a cotton canvas from the upholstery department, I duly purchased it and lining and  downloaded the pattern.

Assembling the pattern was nice and easy, and I actually enjoyed cutting out the fabric, it was nice to have a heavier weight one to sew after the light rayons I've sewn lately. I found I did need quite sharp pins though.

The pattern itself was a pretty easy sew, it's fully lined too, in a lovely fuschia bemsilk also from Spotlight.
Instructions were detailed, with good diagrams also.  I made a straight size 10 and opted for the square collar which can be worn standing  up or folded down.  It is meant to fasten with domes or buttons, but I think I am going to leave these off.  I also omitted the large front pockets, which I would sew on the coat version.  I didn't worry about pattern matching as such, but made sure that the bottom hems were aligned when I cut out the pieces,  so it is a random placement of the floral print.

Photos today were taken by Miss B at Nathan Homestead, a heritage building which is used as an arts and events centre not too far from where I live. There are some lovely old trees and gardens, to walk around. It was just start to drizzle and the wind really picked up so we were limited to where we could get sheltered photos.  Luckily there is a nice little cafe  there, that we could revive ourselves in.

I'm really looking forward to wearing this, I think it will be a great layering piece for warmer spring and cooler summer days.  In fact all year round if I layer under it properly.

Happy weekending !

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Fresh Cut - a new project

Last year some time I bought myself Sue Spargo's Fresh Cut quilt pattern, a mix of wool and fabric applique embellished with beautiful embroidery.  Then it sat unused while I deliberated over background colours.  Much as I love how the black felt background made the blocks POP, I thought it would attract too much dust and be impractical.

Fast forward to June this year, when I spent a day in Rotorua with my Mum, and we visited Cottage Flair quilt shop. They had a fabulous sample made up with different black fabrics as the background, and ironically this really appealed to me. I bought some of the patterned black fabrics but have had to wait three months till solid black fabric arrived in New Zealand, before I could actually start this project.

 A week ago I received a call from my local quilt shop to say they had it in stock, and it was subsequently sent out to me.  I have started my first block, which is block 5, and am slowly rediscovering how to make all the fancy stitches required. 

I can see this will be somewhat of a long term slow stitching project.

Monday, 7 September 2020

Lockdown Learnings


I have plans!

Santa Claus decoration - pattern from here

Black Bean Chocolate Brownies

While I haven't enjoyed being in lockdown again, there are somethings I have learned from both of them.

  • Little treats - life's little luxuries help make it seem not so depressing. Scented candles, magazines (luckily I have some subscriptions that turn up monthly in the post) yummy homebaked treats, fresh flowers.
  • Exercise - daily walks help, I can see other people, say "hi, how are" from a socially appropriate distance, get fresh air and exercise which is good for the mind and body.
  • Books - I need to read. I have learned that I should always have a pile of library books on hand.  While e-books are convenient (and at least life saving when one has no books), I enjoy the physical act of holding a book, turning the pages and immersing myself in another world.  Phones or e-readers are not the same.
  • Sewing - my interests are important.  I am so glad that I create, craft, sew.  My creating has given me a way to keep sane and having time out in the sewing room gives me a break from the family, as well as meaning that I can make numerous masks to keep friends and family safe. I have a good sized quilting and clothing fabric stash, I just need to make sure I have matching threads, buttons and patterns printed. It also gives me time to start and finish (Santa Claus decoration) some small projects I have been putting on hold.
  • Gardening - when you are outside gardening, one cannot worry. Fresh air, exercise, sunshine if you're lucky, hearing the birds, smelling freshly cut lawn or newly turned soil - all contribute to a somewhat relaxing experience, though my muscles may dispute that the next day.
So while I am glad to be back at work, talking to real people (albeit wearing masks), I do miss aspects of the lazier days of lockdown.   Fingers crossed we don't have to again though.

Stay safe, wear a mask. Kia kaha.

Friday, 28 August 2020

Bonn Shirt #3


My last lockdown  sewing finish is another Bonn shirt.  This time made in a lovely silky rust coloured rayon.  I chose the 3/4 sleeve version, and it is size 6C.  I was worried about sewing the collar being a rayon, but out of the three I have now made, this shirt actually was the easiest to make, the collar and sleeves went on perfectly on their first attempts.  However I had major problems with the button holes, for some reason my machine wanted to start finishing them half way through it's cycle, needless to say say there was a lot of swearing that went on with the multiple unpicking I had to do.  Eventually they all worked out.  Fortuitously I had buttons in my button jar that worked with the pale orange in the flowers.  

I love how it looks and feels to wear, and am looking forward to warmer spring days when I can indulge my inner bohemian with shirts like this.

Stay safe, stay home, wear a mask.  Kia kaha!

Sunday, 23 August 2020

Folk Flowers Quilt Top


Way back in November last year, I attended a workshop taken by Anna Maria Horner, where she taught us to make her Folk Flower block.  I made two in the work shop and over the following few weeks, I made another 11. While I loved the look of them, I wasn't happy with how my flowers wouldn't stay flat but tended to pucker when stitched, regardless of how many pins or how much starch I used.  Because of my dissatisfaction with this I stopped at 13 blocks in total, and subsequently put them away.

Fast forward a few months to another lockdown, and an indecisive  sewing mood, (really my inner voice nagging me to finish some of my quilting wips), I pulled out these blocks, trimmed them up, cut their setting pieces from assorted low volume fabrics, and subsequently joined them together.  Because the blocks were quite big, it only took me an afternoon, and I'm now wondering why it took me so long.

Voila, one quilt top approximately 50" square, ready to be sent away for quilting.  I have decided that this quilt will be my charity quilt for the year, so will be donating it to the Totara Hospice once I have finished it. I feel quite a sense of relief that I have finished one of my outstanding projects, and am now looking forward to sewing something new.

It's quite impossible to see all the different low volume fabrics used as the backround when it's hanging up, so the swirled top shows the different colours and prints quite nicely.

Stay safe, stay home, wear a mask, Kia kaha!

Thursday, 20 August 2020

A Lockdown Project (Round 2)


Earlier this year, I came across this photo in my instagram feed.  I immediately feel in love with the colour, the flowers and the texture from all the beading and embroidery on the fabric.  It took a little while to track down a stockist in New Zealand, so when I did, I purchased two fat quarters of fabrics designed by Sally Kelly from her Fantasy collection, all the while intending to embellish it one day.

Fast forward to August, and another lockdown due to Covid, and I decided to pull it of my stash, then sort through all my embroidery threads and beads to see what went with it.  I was quite delighted to find I had a lot of coordinating threads, cos I don't know when Aucklanders will be able to get to real shops for colour matching.

So now I'm having a little bit of fun, deciding what to bead, what to stitch and what type of stitches to do.  I"m not sure if it will get turned into a cushion cover or bag just yet, but it's bright and cheerful and makes me happy.  That's a good thing at this time.

Stay home, Stay safe.  Kia kaha.

Monday, 17 August 2020

A Winter Eva Dress


I bought this fabric in a sale about a year ago.  It is a seersucker type fabric in a blend of linen/cotton and wool, in a deep raisin colour.  As soon as I saw it, I pictured it as a winter Eva dress (I have previously made three linen versions for summer).  A year and a second lockdown later my dress has been made.

Unfortunately I think the fabric is the wrong choice for this dress pattern.  It fits well, but I think the crinkles make the lantern style skirt effect a lot more pouffier and pronounced.

I have given it a wash to see if that will soften the fabric and hopefully it may lose some of the volume. At this point I feel it makes me look as though I'm wearing a maternity dress and I don't feel as though I have the confidence to wear it happily out in public.  I may wear it around the house while in lockdown, but I suspect this will be something I consider a sewing fail and it will end up being donated to an op shop.

Friday, 14 August 2020

Here We Go Again

Sadly after 102, Covid-19 free days, New Zealand has another  Covid cluster.  Scarily no one appears to know where it has come from.  Unfortunately it is centred in Auckland, so we are in a Level 3 lockdown till at least 26 August, whereas the rest of New Zealand is in Level 2.  There are a couple of cases (the cases have a connection to the Auckland cluster) out of Auckland , in the town that my parents live in too, so that is causing a little anxiety also.

Level 3 means, no work unless you are an essential worker, no schools or university.  We can walk in our neighbourhood only, and any trips out are basically to the supermarket, medical centre, Covid testing station or a pharmacy.  We can get takeaways through a click and collect option.  The rest of the country has almost a normal life.  We are being encouraged to wear masks, but it is not mandatory, so a little mask making has been happening, however I am now running out of elastic as are the shops.  I used this pattern,

So I am trying to stay positive, I'm making a list of possible  sewing projects to start and maybe some to finish, I've bought 5kg of flour so I should be able to bake a lot, which in turn means I'll need to walk a lot.

Stay Home, Stay Safe. Wear a mask.  Kia kaha.

Monday, 27 July 2020

Weekending: Hiking in the Kaimais

Wairere Falls - from the first lookout point.

The summit with views out towards Waikato farmlands

This weekend just past, The Scout and I went adventuring.  We left  Auckland and drove south to our starting point - the Wairere Falls.  It was an upwards slog to these(probably made more difficult by carrying a large pack on ones back), so the first lookout point was a welcome reprieve, and a very picturesque resting point,  before all the steep stairs and rocky/rooty track to the summit.  We had lunch there and were lucky enough to see a possum.  Considered a pest in New Zealand it is very strange to see them out in daylight hours.

The next part of our adventure was hiking south on the North South track to the Te Whare Okioki hut, which was out accommodation for the night.  The track is a little used track, but very lush and green, lots of tree ferns, ferns, mosses, interesting fungi as well as mud and a few creek crossings.  Needless to say my hiking boots proved their worth and remained dry and cosy.  I have to admit that I did feel that it would be very easy to get lost in this part of the country, if you missed one of the track markers.  We arrived to the hut at about 5pm, and were very pleased to see some other trampers had lit the fire.  A warm drink, dinner cooked by the Scout and good company made it a pleasant place to keep warm and spend the night.

We returned home the same way and even though you think going downhill will be easier, it's certainly not.  I'm back at work now with a few sore and stiff muscles, while The Scout is keenly planning our next adventure.