Wednesday 22 December 2021

Christmas Greetings

This is gorgeous little kitten belongs to one of my co-workers


I can't believe how quickly this year has gone, and how infrequently I have blogged. Wishing everyone who still reads and comments on my blog a very Merry Christmas. May you travel safely and stay healthy this holiday season.

See you back in 2022.


Tuesday 2 November 2021

Burda Style - Faux Wrap Dress


When I received the February 2021 issue of Burda Style, I was immediately drawn to the pattern for this  faux wrap dress.  I have kept it in the back of my mind, until I found a suitable fabric.  When I saw this printed rayon from The Fabric Shop in Otara, I told the teens to buy it for me as an early birthday present, so I could get it sewn up whilst still in lockdown.

Based on my hip and bust measurements, I made my usual size 38.  I do feel I could have perhaps sized down for the skirt, because the there seemed to be an excess of fabric in the front.  Because the fabric frayed easily, I used French seams where I could, including on the waistline.  This was fortuitous, because it gave me a nice flat firm seam on the back, to sew a length of elastic onto, which helps pull the fabric to the back, instead of sliding around to the front.  It's not a dress for lifting ones arms up high in, but perfectly suitable for wining and dining.

I had a few dilemmas over hem length, and after posting a question to my Instagram story, the general consensus was shorter than the pattern suggested, which I have done.

Overall, I am pleased with the dress, I have possibly lost some of the wrap and tie detailing because of the patterned fabric, but I think that this is a dress I can wear casually or for  more dressy occasions.

Pattern details: Burda Style 101/022021
Fabric - rayon

Sunday 24 October 2021

More Lockdown Sewing


I'm almost 10 weeks into our lockdown, vaccination numbers are getting higher, but there is still away to go before we get back to a somewhat new normal type of life.

Along with walking, hiking and gardening, sewing is my other sanity saver, and I have been doing continuing to work on some projects.

I decided I did need another six hearts to make my  Heart Groove is in the Heart Quilt look more balanced. It was also a chance for me to add a few more colours that I felt was lacking in it.  I'm really pleased with it now.

After the success of my scrappy chair and sewing machine cover,  I decided to make a giant version, which I am going to use as the backing for my heart quilt.  This way I get a reversible quilt and use up a lot of my stash.  The fabrics were all cut into various lengths and are six inches wide.  I'm quite delighted with how it looks, though the only downside was all the seams I had to press.  Ironing is not my favourite activity connected with sewing, nore of a necessary evil.

Now, if you're wondering why you're seeeing two pictures of me wearing the same shirt, it's because I made myself another one.  When I made the shirt on the right last year, it was a little tight around the armscyes, so ended up being given to my Mum.  When I found some more of the same fabric, I had to get some so I could make a Bonn Shirt for me out of this wonderful dandelion print.  This version is a size 6 and has tiny little mother of pearl buttons.

Should our lockdown continue, I have another couple of garments planned, and I probably should look at finishing some smaller handsewing projects that have been in my WIP pile too.

Fingers crossed, I'll actually get to go back to work soon though.

Thursday 30 September 2021

Hopeful Hearts


One benefit of lockdowns, is the time one gets to sew, (I'm lucky cos my kids are now independent teens, so when I'm not doing work things, I get quite a lot of free time), and create and play with our quite substantial fabric stash.  Sometimes instead of starting a new project, old works in progress get finished.

This is the case, with  my Groove is in the Heart Quilt, which I started here almost a year ago.  I had the majority of these large blocks made, and stored in a box.  Over the past week I finshed off the last six blocks I had waiting to be sewn, then stitched them altogether.

The pattern itself had 49 blocks, however I made this up using 36 blocks.  It's quite a large quilt already, but after looking at the photos, I have decied to make another six blocks, so I have a slightly more symmetrically balanced quilt.

Now, that the top is finished, and I have stepped back and watched it flapping in the wind, I am quite pleased with how it has turned out.  I think this one will be a keeper.

Pattern available from Rachel Daisy here

Friday 24 September 2021

A New Sewing Machine Cover


After finishing my chair cover, I still felt like playing with all my quilt fabric scraps.  I didn't want to make another quilt, but decided to make a new cover for my sewing machine, my old one here, was very faded and just didn't look nice anymore.

Using the vinyl cover that came with my machine as a template for measurements, I pieced together a few scrappy blocks from predominately Anna Maria Horner scraps, and quilted them with some batting and yardage from my stash.  This was the easy part,

Assembling the pieces and stitching them teogether involved quite a bit of finangling through my machine.  The top corners I actually ended up hand sewing in place,  All seams were left exposed, so that I could bind them, again using a beautiful Anna Maria Horer Fabric.

I'm really pleased with how this has turned out.  It definitely brightens up my sewing room, and protects my machine from dust and sunlight.

Friday 10 September 2021

Please Be Seated


Earlier this week, while aimlessly browsing Instagram, I happened to come across a photo of an office chair, with a quilted seat cover.  This immediately struck a chord with me, I couldn't believe I had never thought to do that to my perfectly functional but plain sewing chair.   That afternoon, I pulled out my bag of Anna Maria Horner scraps ( I had a lot) and randomly started piecing strips, and squares together.  For a little bit of variety, I also added some Amy Butler and Tula Pink scraps.  All  the fabrics are bright vibrant colours with bold designs and meld together perfectly into what I call  a hot mess.

I ended up with two large scrappy quilt blocks, which I quilted with an organic (not perfectly even) diagonal cross hatch.  Batting and backing fabrics were all from my stash.

I rounded the corners on the seat cover, than added a casing for elastic to be pulled through. I was so pleased with how this cover turned out.  The chair back took a lot more work, a little cursing and a bit of unpicking, till I got the shape and fit right.  Again I added a casing for the elastic to pull the base of the back in.  Both seat cover and the back piece are fully removeable, though I don't think I ever want to take them off my chair now.

In a way it was mindless easy sewing, I certainly didn't need to be as precise with my sewing as I have needed to be with the clothes I've made lately, and I didn't really worry about what fabrics or colours were used where.

I am delighted with how it has turned out, and at how cheerful it looks, and am looking forward to more lockdown sewing in my sewing room.

Monday 6 September 2021

Tide Top

I have had the pattern for the Tide Top (formerly Kobe Top) and this luscious silk viscose fabric tucked away waiting to be used for at least three years.

Once again lockdown proved to be the perfect time to get it done.  The pattern is from New Zealand company Papercut Patterns.  It really is case of business in the front, party in the back with this design, with its simple front and surprise back view.  I love that exposed keyhole of skin, created by the dramatic pleat. 

Based on my measurements I should have made a size XS, however reading lots of blog and instagram posts on this being quite an oversized design, I sized down to XXS, and am glad I did.  It is quite a cropped design in the front, so I lengthened that by  about two inches and shortened the back shirt tail by the same. 

A lot of spray starch was used to make this fabric easier to sew,  I also  French seamed the side seams to give it a more professional finish and hopefully some longevity.  This will definitely be a hand wash only garment. Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to find some thread that co-ordinated with the colours in the fabric and a button from button jar to finish it off, seeing as we can't get out to buy any at present.

I'm really pleased I finally used this fabric and pattern, and am looking forward to warmer days and occasions to actually wear it out.

Wednesday 1 September 2021

Lockdown Sewing

Well it's been a while since I last wrote something for my rather neglected blog.  I am still regularly writing and putting photos on my Instagram page though, you can find me there on justjulielou.

Currently New Zealand is three weeks into another lockdown, as the dreaded Delta Variant of Covid-19 has made it's way into the community.  After two weeks with the whole country in a level 4 lockdown (this has the most restrictions) the rest of the country except  Auckland  and Northland is now at level 3.  So I am at home with the teens, my husband is still working as he is deemed essential.  I am hoping it's not going to be a long one, like a lot of my friends and family in Australia are currently experiencing.  Luckily my family have all had our first doses of the vaccination.

While I can do some work from home, it does mean I am lucky enough to have more time for sewing. So far I have made two new garments. Both totally seasonally inapporpriate and dare I say simply chic in black

Firstly another Rhapsody Blouse.  This one was in a beautiful soft slightly sheer dobby silk/cotton blend.  Even though it is the same size as the last one I made and frequently wear, this one feels slightly tighter around the armscye.  I'm wondering if it's something to do with the type of fabric. Never the less, I am still going to enjoy wearing this.

The next garment is the Peppermint Wide Strap Maxi Dress.  I had bought the fabric for this about a year ago, and kept changing my mind about whether to use it for something else.  Finally I decided to just get on with it.  I made this in a size D for the bodice, based on my bust measurements, then graded to Size B for the rest of the dress.  It is fully French seamed, has awesome big pockets ( a king size chocolate bar can fit into them) and very bra friendly.  The fabric is a wonderfully soft eucalyptus/linen/cotton blend, which was beautiful to sew. I'm really looking forward to warm summer days so I can waft around in this.

While the black fabrics have now gone from my stash, I still have more fabrics ready to be turned into something new .

Sunday 20 June 2021

The Joy of Small Hand Sewing Projects


Kismet Kiss Quilt

Fresh Cut

Groove is in the Heart

Most winter evenings after I've finished dinner, the housework and various other domestic duties, I like to sit down in a comfy chair with either a book or a handsewing project. I have a few in progress at present: ( Fresh Cut - a wool felt and embroidery project, Kismet Kiss - my new epp project, Groove is in the Heart Quilt )  but have been thinking about why I prefer to work on some and others not so much.

I've decided that I'm not enamored with my Fresh Cut applique/embroidery project.  While I love the look of the finished ones I've seen, and using wool felt, the beautiful threads and making fancy stitches,  I am not enjoying making mine.  Perhaps it's because I'm doing it on fabric rather than a  felt background, and I don't like the fluff from the parlan fusible batting attached to it coming through the fabric.  It could also be because the blocks are large, my last couple of felt applique projects have had small blocks, which make it much easier to have a portable easy to work on handsewn project. Also sewing on black is hard, even more so if your eyesight is not great.  

I think this is why I really enjoy English Paper piecing.  Yes it takes me forever to select the fabric combinations for the blocks, but the pieces are small and easy to sew, and they don't take up as much room if I'm taking them somewhere as a portable project.  It's an easy project to stop and start, I can baste a lot of pieces ready to stitch, and I know that it will be a long term project anyway.

My Groove is in the Hearts quilt is also an easy to sew small hand sewing project, each heart half fits into a magazine, or manila folder which keeps it flat.  I've taken tis project away on holiday, a few times and  They are quite quick and simple to make and I see results quickly.

Unfortunately I think my Fresh Cut Quilt may be packed away for a while (read forseeable future) while I continue to enjoy smaller and more manageable projects.

Friday 18 June 2021

Ms Magenta in the Garden


Yes, I could quite legitimately be a character in a Cluedo game in this jacket.

Last year during lockdown, I made a little cropped jacket with a pattern from Burda Style magazine. this has ended up being one of my most worn winter pieces, so I thought I'd make a plain black or charcoal version, that would go with everything.   Well plans have a habit of changing, and I ended up falling in love with a beautiful magenta cashmere/viscose blend, that I decided I could wear with all my black winter clothes instead.

Apart from a few stressful moments (due to minimal instructions)  attaching the lining hem and making the pivoted corners where the sleeves join the jacket body, it is  a lovely pattern to make up.

I have decided to forgo the button and buttonhole on this jacket and use  some of the funky/chunky brooches I own to fasten it instead.

And yes, I do still need to make a plain black trans seasonal jacket.

Wednesday 26 May 2021

Things Here Lately


My colour palette is currently based on these shades

Well, we are definitely headed into late autumn now.  The leaves are changing colour and falling everywhere, my mandarin and feijoa trees have been fruiting prolifically, the violets are starting to flower.  I can smell wood smoke from the odd fire that has been lit in my neighbourhood, (in fact we lit ours last weekend) and I'm starting to need to wear layers at work.  

I have temporarily increased my hours at work, which may yet end up being a permanent change, so I am finding I need to be more organised to ensure I get time to do all the things I like doing. Lets just say that lists are my forte at present.  So anyhoo, here's what have I been up too lately. 

  • Obviously working on my new epp project, I have nine blocks completed now and have found a picture of the most beautiful floral arrangement, which has the colour palette I'd envisioned in my mind. I still struggle with choosing fabrics for the centre cross part of the block, I am sure that this part of the process takes longer than the actual stitching of the block itself.  I'm not sure if I'll make all the 48 blocks required, but I guess I have a lot of time to decide.
  • I have also decided I need to conquer my fear of sewing with knit fabrics and make myself some layering pieces to wear for work and exercise, ie: walking and yoga.  So far I've made a black merino top from a Burda style pattern, which caused me to do an awful lot of swearing at my machine, the top is still wearable, and I will try this pattern again, with a different fabric .  I have also made a sweatshirt using the Undercover Hoody pattern from Papercut Patterns, from a charcoal merino/tencel knit, I'm certainly glad I upsized to size S.  I would like to try the hoody version of this next time too.  Also in the plans is a new jacket for work in a beautiful magenta cashmere/viscose blend.  I'm really looking forward to making and  wearing this.
  • Of course, books will always feature in my daily life.  Some good novels I've enjoyed are:

            - The Invisible Woman By Erika Robuck (based on a real life story)

            - The Lost manuscript by Cath Bonidan (a charming epistolary novel)

  • This corner of my garden is bringing me a lot of joy at present.  I love the bright green and deep crimson irisene, and I don't think I have ever seen as many flowers on the vireya before.  My dahlias have been cut back, and I'm pondering whether to risk leaving the tubers in the ground over winter this year.  
Hoping you are all enjoy whatever season you are living in at present,

Friday 30 April 2021

Kismet Kiss - A New EPP Project


Kismet Kiss quilt - image from here

A couple of weeks ago, Jodi from Tales of Cloth posted a new epp kit on her instagram page.  Out of curiosity flicked through to the pattern designer and came across this quilt. I don't know what appealed to me about it, but I couldn't stop thinking about it, so over Easter I ordered the template and epp papers kit.

The original pattern called for the blocks to be hand pieced, which I would never have done.  I like how epp means the pieces line up nicely, and stay rigid until you are ready to remove the paper pieces.

I kept thinking that my Densyse Schmidt fabrics would work perfectly for this giving it a slightly vintage yet modern feel, but I haven't has much luck working out a colour palette solely with her fabrics.  So while there will be a lot of her fabrics being used, there will still be a lot of other fabrics from Anna Maria Horner and Liberty, which will give it the scrappy yet hopefully cohesive look I love.   

They are not the quickest blocks to make, so I am anticipating at least another 3-4 years till this project is finished.