The one where I embrace my inner domestic goddess

Thursday, 23 February 2017

I'm beginning to really embrace the concept of being a domestic goddess. And I mean in a wonderfully luxurious Nigella Lawson kind of way and not an uptight super clean and organised kind of way. I don't ever think I'm going to be the kind of woman who has a filing system for receipts or remembers to send thank you cards. If I really appreciate someone I'm more likely to make them something for no other reason!

What I am really enjoying is becoming a more accomplished student of the domestic arts. When I say accomplished I mean in a Jane Austen, reached a certain level of proficiency but not to any professional level kind of way. So while I will probably always have a few dishes in the sink (a Mexican standoff between my husband and I that I will inevitably lose) and a couple of baskets of unfolded laundry hidden in my walk in wardrobe - which, in an unrelated matter that in no way reflects my lack of domestic organisation, is still yet to be fitted out 3 years after we moved into the house - I can claim certain skills.

I can cook. I'm not going to win any master chef plating competitions but flavour wise I can probably make pretty much anything you throw at me. Last year I made my own birthday cake. Why? Well the choice was between a packet cake mix made by my husband - probably involving some improvised flavour experiment and if the kids were involved a late school night for them with lots of sugar and aforementioned Mexican dishes standoff*, or the crochenbouche I made with salted  caramel creme patissiere and slightly runny salted caramel sauce and slivered almonds holding it together. So of course I made my own birthday cake. Co-incidentally my  birthday was on the same day as my son's Hundred Days of Kindy celebration which was also the last day of term. As class mum I offered to make cupcakes. That was also to allay some banked up mummy guilt I felt for giving birth to him in mid January, meaning that of course his birthday would always be in the school holidays and he would NEVER get to share his birthday cake at school. But then I felt guilty and offered to make them for my daughters class as well. So crochenbouche and 48 cupcakes.

I can knit. My husband spends most of winter wrapped up in an alpaca and new wool jumper I finished a few winters ago. I love the look of the knitted stitch better than crocheted ones but do love the quicker gratification that comes with crochet...which leads to...

I can crochet. I taught myself from a book about 4 years ago when my kids were one and two as I felt that if I didn't do SOMETHING  creative and engage my mind in a new challenge I'd go mad. 24 hours later I had made my first beanie. Now every throw and blanket in my house is handmade.

I can sew. I had a few lessons for an aunt in my early twenties and then packed the machine away for about 15 years. After taking up crochet and falling in love with a crochet yoke, sewn skirt dress for my daughter on the Purl Bee website I finally unpacked my sewing machine. It took me an hour (and some youtubeing) to remember how to thread it! Another hour later I had finished the dress and was hooked on sewing.

This was all about two and a half years ago. Sewing has lead my down a very large and happy rabbit hole. I feel like I've finally found my thing. The thing that helps define you, brings you joy and satisfaction and fills a part of you that nothing else can.


* dishlocked - when you can't wash put because the dishwasher is full and the drying racks (yes, plural) are full so you either have to do the lot or ignore it all.

The One Where I Hack The Springfield Top By Cashmerette

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Greetings lovely people.

I am very excited today, as, if you'd told me I would be writing this a week ago I would have laughed at you.

This is what happened...

I finally got up the courage to post a picture of one of my makes on the Curvy Sewing Collective Facebook Page. Apologies for the dodgy photo. It was taken on the balcony outside my daughter's piano lesson. My little pup, Candy, was very confused as I what I was doing. 

It was a version of the Cashmerette Springfield Top that I had hacked by adding a V-neck and altering the dart to under bust gathers.  I was completely overwhelmed by the postitive response (I shouldn't have been, its such a wonderful, supportive community) and some people actually asked me if I could share my method.  I emailed the lovely and talented Jenny Rushmore (aka Cashmerette) to ask if she minded and she gave me her blessing. So, without further ado, here it is ladies!


Thursday, 14 July 2016


1. I can make clothes.
2. I can buy second hand clothes.
3. I can buy underwear.
4. Not sure about swimmers yet!

I actually started this on June the first so six weeks in and so far so good!

This has been brewing in my head for a while. Now that I can make clothes I understand how much work goes into making them and how little thought goes into acquiring them. I read Overdressed. I think I just want to be more mindful about buying for the sake of buying. Or for something to do (all those Saturdays shopping in my 20's). Frankly, I'd rather spend the time sewing. Not even for the end product but the joy it brings me to MAKE something.

I'll see how it goes. Even if I don't make it to 12 months at least it means that if I buy something it will be appreciated and a considered purchase.

Thanks for listening,

Cheshire xxx.

The one with a dare (and a pair)

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Hello out there on the interwebs! Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow has announced #SewingDares! Anyone can join in, just leave a comment and a link and Gillian will dare you to make something. I thought it was high time I jumped in the deep end with the lovely online sewing community so I threw my hat into the ring (is that too many metaphors for one sentence?).

Gillian had a look at this blog (insert me grinning at myself stupidly) and dared me to make something from my list with bonus points for using my Cone Mills denim or Liberty print. Its going to have to be the Liberty print (more on that in a sec). The only question is Concord Tee or Appleton dress? Any thoughts?

The reason I can't use the denim is that it has already been turned into Ginger Jeans. I'm wearing them as I type this. I haven't managed proper pictures yet but here's a peak at my favourite feature.

Yep its an ECG! I've worked in cardiorespiratory physio for many years and I'm a bit of a nerd. It really bugs me when you see a heart rhythm symbol somewhere and its not accurate, so this one is. well maybe the P wave is a little wide. I'm SO pleased with how these have turned out and they were nowhere near as hard as I thought they might be. I fully interfaced the pockets to add stability, traced the ECG onto so tear away interfacing and slowly and carefully topstitched.

Of course this has lead to many corny names for this pare of jeans. Heartbeat jeans, With Every Beat jeans and my favourite, my ECGeans. Its also sparked the idea that with subsequent jeans I could use different (and potentially dangerous) heart rhythms on the back pockets. I think ventricular fibrillation could be next.

Farewell for now,

Cheshire Cat.

The one with the Icelandic yarn

Thursday, 26 May 2016

I'm not really sure why I started titling blog posts like Friends episodes but it seemed to fit my last one (or maybe just my sleep deprived state). I'm sitting on the sofa with my little pup on the first Sydney night that has begun to feel like winter. We had a Saturday this weekend past at 28 degrees.  According to the news the El Nino is past and we are entering a La Nina. So naturally my mind has turned to all things cold and to knitting. I am an equal opportunity crafter after all.

Recently two of my sister-in-law visited Iceland. The spent 10 days driving the loop road and had a fabulous time. I was pea-green with  envy until they gave me this - Plotulopi yarn.

They gave me 4 balls/skeins of it in 4 gorgeous colourways. Green, purple, grey and white. For those, who like me, have never heard of it, its 100% new wool, with a thickness/weight of about ten ply but its unspun. Its like a very narrow length of roving, and , as you can see from the pictures, it breaks quite easily. The fibres are very long, however, so once you knit it the fabric becomes very strong. You just have to be very careful with it as you pull the working yarn from the ball. Its a bit like working with fairy floss. Fortunately its very easy to connect again and even if you pull it quite thin it maintains its strength once knitted up.

I hit Ravelry to figure out what to do with it. I saw a lot of patterned yoke jumpers which we neither me nor conducive to my colours. I thought shawls. Yes! A superwarm garter stitched shawl. I cast on and started knitting. Diagonal garter stitch - minimal casting on and cute stripes too - design feature and laziness, my favourite! Plotulopi is wonderfully light. At 300m per 100g its wide but light (think goose down parka vs heavy woven wool, same thickness, much less weight.) Air traps in between all the fibres and creates warmth. Once knitted up this thing is something else. Its feather light but is robust with a large halo so feels like its taking up more space than it actually is. It has great recovery. Squish it up in your hand and it bounces back like one of those squeezy balls for tense people.

So far I have done 24 repeats of two row garter stitch stripes on 5.5mm needles using the grey and purple and I've hardly made a dent in the balls (not a phrase to take out of context). I plan to keep expanding, increasing at each end of the right side rows until I run out of these colours, then start decreasing in pattern with the green and the white. So now my shawl has become a blanket. Oh well, I can live with that.

Goodnight from Cheshire Cat (and her little pup).

The one in which I'd had no sleep

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

I'm writing this and trying not to fall asleep even though its only early. My husband is away so the kids decided to treat me to a night of random unexplained waking up. All. Night. Long. I eventually ended up between the two of them in my bed which was like trying to sleep with a couple of freshly landed tuna. I'm counting down the minutes until I can legitamitly put them to bed and hit the sack.

One of the advantages of being kept awake most of the night is that it gives you plenty of time to ponder your upcoming sewing plans. In the last week I've managed to finish a Sydney Jacket for my friend Kate and a Brooklyn Coat for myself (post to come once I have some pics). I was in such a Tessuti frenzy that I also bought and downloaded the Mandy Boat Tee which I just have to hem. I know that loose boxy styles don't suit my shape but having quickly tried it on in its unfinished state I can tell I'm going to love it. Its comfy and drapey and oh so easy to throw on with jeans.

Having those projects out of the way I've had to turn my thoughts (or in the words of my five year old, swap my mind) to what comes next.

So in no particular order are a few things I'd like to sew.

1. Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files - I've made one pair already and they are awesome even made of cheap supposidly stretch denim which behaves more like the regular kind. I snapped up a Cone Mills Denim kit when Heather Lou released them last year and having been waiting until I could sew them in a smaller size. I've come to the conclusion that unless I want to walk around jeanless I'd better just get on with it (anyway, there is enough denim for two pairs!) I have a really cool idea for the pocket stitching but I'll keep that secret until I make them.

2. Morgan Boyfriend Jeans by Closet Case Files - haven't bought this pattern yet but they look fab!

3. Hudson Pants by True Bias - I've got some grey French Terry to try these out in but hope to be able to also make them in a woven.

4. Concord V neck long sleeve Tee by Cashmerette in this gorgeous Liberty Jersey that my equally gorgeous sister-in-law bought me in London. I've pre-washed it but am still undecided as to whether to go with the Concord or the Appleton wrap dress (heart says dress, head says Tee as I'll get more wear out of it).

Image from Liberty of London
5. Mini Hudsons for the kids - too cute not to.

6. Upton Dress by Cashmerette. This was only released today but it will probably make its way to the head of the list. I've already downloaded and been to Officeworks and printed it out. At some point I am going to have to write a post where I can wax lyrical about how much I love Cashmerette aka Jenny Rushmore. Here I'll just say that I was SO SO SO excited when I saw this pattern release. A woven fit a flare dress pattern in a wide size range with cup fittings up to a G cup. This is what all curvy sewers/sewists have been dreaming of. Not only is it an amazing pattern in its own right but it can also form the basis for a million hacks. And I said I wasn't going to gush.

7. Bags. No specific pattern as yet but you can check out the ones of been pinning to get an idea. My lovely friend Lauren is renovating and told me about a pop up fabric store she found in Danks St Waterloo which does home furnishing fabric. So naturally I had to stop by - well it was on my way home from dropping my husband at the airport -sort of.  Not only did I decide to recover every throw cushion in the house I nabbed a couple of upholstery vinyl remnants to experiment with.

As you can see my fabric and pattern purchases have run ahead of sewing time by quite a ways.

Gotta fly, now its bedtime. We are reading The World's Worst Children by David Williams and its a hoot. Last night we had Nigel Nit-Boy and it was hysterical!

The World's Worst Children

Fabric shopping

Friday, 20 May 2016

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I've been fabric shopping. Again. Well that's what happens when The Fabric Store has its 30% off sale. Its also what happens when you need some boiled wool to make a Tessuti Sydney Jacket for a friend in exchange for their graphic design services (clearly not in use here as yet). Its especially what happens when you also have your eye on their new Brooklyn coat pattern. So off to The Fabric Store and Tessuti we went, pausing only for a quick brunch and to feed the parking meters.

I must admit I was very restrained at The Fabric Store. I only bought one piece of leather! That said it is a gorgeous piece of burgundy leather embossed to look like crocodile. The colour here looks much browner than it actually is. Its a deep red-winey red.

Its destined to become a handbag. Probably a small shoulder bag that I can throw my wallet, keys and phone in for those rare nights out.

Then on to Tessuti. We needed to pick up some boiled wool and being in Surry Hills already it was a no brainer. Last year I made two Sydney Jackets for myself, one black one a grey-green. I can't find the black one anywhere! I also made one for my sister in law in the same grey-green for her birthday. She's one of those women that look amazing in drapey layers. Last years boiled wool was very light and drapey. The ones they have at present are much thicker and deliciously squidgy. Picking it up to take it to the cutting counter was like cuddling a bear! Much more body to it and too thick for my friend for everyday wear which was a shame as she had her eye on this beautiful charcoal colour. instead she went with the same grey-green that I used this year. The colour looks much better on her.  

I, on the other hand, have a strong affinity for all things red and I just couldn't resist this bit of loveliness.
Image from Tessuti fabrics

Brooklyn coat here  I come.

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