My Sewing Machine is possessed.

(Warning there is no sewing or creating in this post. Its just an expression of my frustration!)

I got my sewing machine for my 21st Birthday – now I’m in my mid-30’s its no longer a new machine. It has spent large periods of its life in a closet with its cover on (I always used to think it was waaay to hard to actually get my machine set up to sew something. So I didn’t. Yay for a sewing room…)

My machine is in disgrace...

My machine is in disgrace…

Mum got her Bernina for HER 21st, which is still going strong having had its first ever service last year, and for my bithday she picked me out a pretty solid, basic but reliable Bernina. We’ve had a sometimes rocky relationship that machine and I.

About two months ago my machine had to go in for a service as it wasn’t feeding the bobbin thread through. I wasn’t particularly impressed as it had been less than a year since its last service and I thought it should last a little bit longer between services, but hey things happen. So in it went, and duly came back. I picked it up on a Saturday morning, and the (awesome) guy who services my machine made a comment that there was a slim chance that there was a serious problem with the workings of the machine. It was unlikely and he’d had a look at it and couldn’t see a sign of it but… I wasn’t too concerned as this fella likes to have a chat and I figured I’d cross that bridge if it became in issue. So I headed straight home to start on my Grainline Moss. I got through 2 and a half seams and hit a pin and the machine broke again.

Its fair to say I was not happy. Given the comment I’d had earlier and the fact that it was completely inoperable after having a hit a stupid pin I figured the worst. So, unable to do anything else on a Saturday night with no machine I had a look for replacement machines. And could not believe my eyes when I saw that to replace my very basic, and apparently not very reliable machine, would be over $2000. Its fair to say if I replace my machine, it probably won’t be with another Bernina! Jeepers.

So after some cursing, my machine (which weirdly enough I have never named) went back in for another service. The Service man said he thought it was probably the timing again, which left me grumbling as it should jolly well last better than that! I have sewn over pins in my mum’s machine dozens of times no worries. A moan to the Wellington Sewing bloggers confirmed my suspicion that most machines managed this with no worry.

BUT things happen. Wrong speed, wrong bit hits wrong bit and stuff happens huh – thems the breaks. I was too upset to even look at the stupid machine so Mr T took it in for service and picked it up again (after a free service to fix the timing, which was so grateful for). And I’d actually broken something. The whole bobbin case (which was plastic) was broken and needed replaced. I was even more grateful when Mr Service Man had a replacement (in metal – ooh!) sitting in the shop and gave it to me for free!

So the machine came home. And got a massive lecture about how it needed to behave itself,that I had another machine lined up to borrow it if decided it didn’t want to behave, I was not happy, and it was on its way out. Grrr. Suffice to say said machine was trembling in terror at the end of it.

All went well for the rest of my skirt. Then I decided to try knits. I went out and brought stretch needles, and a stretch double needle. Sat down one night to start my Mabel skirt (I will blog I promise), got the stretch needles, took out the previous needle, positioned the stretch needle and tightened up the screw. And the needle fell out.

I tried again. And the needle fell out. By this stage I thought I was starting to lose the plot. I tried three different packets of stretch needles and they all just fell out. Ball point needles – no worries. Jean needles – no worries. Universal needles – no worries. But Stretch needles? Dumb machine.

I searched the internet and found no reference to anything like it. I asked the Wellington Sewing Blogger girls (who, justifiably, may have thought I was making all this drama up). One of the more entertaining suggestions was that my machine was possessed – at which point a group exorcism was rapidly offered.

In the end I contacted Bernina direct, who sent it off their technician (once they believed that I wasn’t making it all up) who also had never seen anything like it. He replaced the screw and that solved the problem. For now.

I got the machine back about 3 weeks ago. It remains in its cover in the middle of the sewing room floor in disgrace. Ok, not only because its in disgrace. I’m cStunners!urrently spending my nights onstage looking like this (I’m the one on the right) while I’m doing the Addams Family Musical. Fun, but time consuming!

So I get free time back in a week or so. Of course I have my next audition the end of July…!

How is your sewing going? What dramas have you had with your sewing machines, or other technology? Do share…

Where I try to “properly” make a skirt

I am very (very very) slowly doing a sewing course by correspondence. I signed up long ago before I realised the wealth of information that was available on this here interweb, and although I can get all the info I need from fellow bloggers, I am stubborn and want to get this course finished. One day.

As part of the course there are a number of garments to be made for assessment. And I have learned that sewing for me, myself and I is one thing but showing it to other people to get marked is quite terrifying! But I guess thats the point huh….

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Love this fabric

So I was determined to make a really really really professional skirt for assessment. I wanted to do it right and have it  look perfect. I had some amazing denim I’d brought on sale on a trip to Auckland and decided to make the Grainline Moss. Its a mini skirt but can be adapted to a knee length and that sounded about right.

So I cut it out and went to sew it up. And paused. This was being marked after all!

Then I reread the course material and realised that the Grainline Moss didn’t meet the requirements for this garment  - it needed to have darts. Oops. But it meant I could make up this skirt without worrying if it was good enough – yay!

This is a pretty popular skirt and for good reason. Its a great wardrobe staple – though I can’t see myself in the mini skirt ever! The additional band at the bottom makes it much more life appropriate for me!

I finished all the seams in this skirt with Mock flat fell seams using Colette’s tutorial - they’re super easy. I was planning to do proper flat fell seams but with the smaller seam allowances I couldn’t be bothered fiddling with them to make them work! But I am really pleased at how even the Mock flat fell seams made it look better.

Check out the mock flat fell seams. can't see them? They're there, honestly!

Check out the mock flat fell seams. can’t see them? They’re there, honestly! (Ignore the puckers at the waistband though. You can’t see those either!)

There was a lot in this pattern that was new, and as a result a lot of unpicking which led to a little bit of stretch in some places. The denim has a lot of stretch in it anyway and the cotton matched the fabric so well I couldn’t see it on the dark fabric to unpick. But in the end its turned out ok.

This pattern had me use both inset pockets and a fly zip – two new techniques I can check off the list to skills to learn (the list to perfect the technique is another one that is hidden away in a dark dark drawer somewhere!).

All done!

I am proud to say that this is the most well constructed garment I’ve made. And improvement is what I am working towards. Perfection is non-existent really and I make these things cause I like them. As long as the clothes I make are wearable, I keep making them and so keep making them better. That’s the aim!

Mr T and I got these photos over the weekend when we headed up the line. We went to an outdoor sculpture park so had a great time. I love weekends!

side view

 

The finished product

The finished product

And some pictures from the sculpture park…

At the top left of this scuplture is a Fantail, a native bird. This one was quite interested in what Mr T and I were up to and followed us around for at least 15 minutes.

this horse is made of chicken wire...

this horse is made of chicken wire…

ok, this wasn't a sculpture but was my favourite thing!

ok, this wasn’t a sculpture but was my favourite thing!

bye for now

Happy Birthday Mum!

This year, for mum’s birthday I decided to make her something… But what….

Mum is a sometimes sewer from way back and I had seen this little character as a Craftsy project, The Owl You Need sewing buddy and thought it would be perfect…

Happy Birthday Mum

(check out my Ma’s old Bernina… over 40 years old and went in for its first service last year! )

Given that this is a small-ish make, it is a little fiddly but it was made out of fabric left-overs from my first quilt which as well as being an appallingly cheap present, also made it a little bit more special.

I stuffed him with stuffing, but put popcorn in the bottom to help him stand up (not rice in the house that day). And mum loved him! (I can always tell as she tells everyone about it…)

I think this guy is super cute and not too complicated to make up. That’s two presents I’ve made this year – I’m on a roll….

I'm ready for my close-up

*blush*

Last month I was nominated for a Leibster Blog Award by The Sewprano. I was a bit surprised as my blog has been a bit…. well…. slack shall we say!

liebster

But check out The Sewprano’s blog – she’s an aussie, studying to be an opera singer, who makes the most amazing dresses for competitions/assessments, and costumes as well as all sorts of other crafting and even draws cartoons. She’s a hoot! Thank you so so much for the nom!

Liebster Blog Awards are designed to share the love of blogs with less than 500 followers. The instructions are:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you
3. Nominate 11 other followers with less than 500 followers
4. Post 11 questions for your nominees to answer
5. Tag your nominees & post a comment on their blog to let them know you nominated them

So my questions are:

1) Cats or dogs? (or armadillos?)

Cats – no question at all… and with these two why wouldn’t you!!

ok.. this was a while ago, they don't like each other so much now...

2)  What was the last book you read? (graphic novels count)

I always have a least 4 books on the read at a time. I’ve almost finished re-reading the second Game of Thrones book and have just finished reading the Lonely Planet Thailand guide book.

3) Who is the best Doctor?  (non-Doctor Who fans, just give this one a miss.)

David Tennant. Hands down. But they’re all awesome. Except the first Dr – hes just scary…

4) What is your favourite global cuisine?

I’m a big fan of Chinese :)

5) Which is your favourite season?

Summer… sun, beaches, long evenings and BBQ’a

6)  In the inevitable zombie apocalypse, which five people would be on your dream survival team?

The Boss: Rick from the Walking Dead

The Medic: Dr Greene from ER

The cook: Jamie Oliver

The Fighter: Booth from Bones

The comedian: Olaf from Frozen

7) Whose shoes would you like to spend a day in?

Idina Menzel or Sutton Foster…. to perform on Broadway just once would be amazing…

8) Coffee or tea?  (or neither?)

tea tea tea

9) If you could gain instant proficiency at/afford any musical instrument (that you don’t already play, musos amongst you), what would you pick?

the piano… its still on my lists of things to do :)

10) Thoughts on David Bowie? (gosh I’m getting desperate for questions now, aren’t I!)

He was awesome on Labyrinth… but those legging things???

11) What is your standby go-to meal to cook when you don’t have anything in the cupboard and feel flat as a tack?

toast and peanut butter. Or Marmite… its a hang over from uni!

For my 11 nominations, I’ve gone by the count of readers stated in the feed reader… And this is hard. I know I’ve missed some that I will kick myself for…

But, My nominated bloggers are:

Fall From Grace - she is a fellow cross stitcher who captures her makes through the process which I find fascinating!

Kim at The Fierce Journal – I’ve known Kim for a long time and this is her new blog, just switched over from her previous. This girl has some amazing insights into people and our thoughts.

Sew Biased – one of the Wellington Sewing girls she’s sewing all sorts – check out the pokemon dressing gown she made. I think I need one!

Mrs C at Sent from my Iron – one super talented lady who saved our local haby store when it was up for sale. She makes, supports and advises… she’s amazing

Treesinwelly – sewing, and travels, and life in Welly. She makes me appreciate my home town :)

Fanbloomingtastic – geeky sewing and loving every moment of it!

FlossieFT – yep, another Wellington lady, she makes the best dresses out of the coolest fabrics! And dresses her gorgeous boys

Nicki’s stitches – recently infamous for her Loud Golf pants… go on you know you want to check them out!

the Crazy Gypsy – an out of town Wellington Blogger, I am in love with her print dresses

A Charm of Magpies - another epic sewer and talented knitter (so jealous!!)

Sewist stitch – Sandra’s output is AMAZING!! If I could manage 1/3 of what she does there would be no gap in my blog!!!!

Soo…. my questions for you folks are:

1) What do you enjoy most about blogging?

2) Who would be at your ultimate dinner party ? (5 people…)

3) What are your favourite pair of shoes you’ve ever owned?

4) What is your proudest creation?

5) Would you rather have a bath of snakes or a bath of spiders?

6) What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid?

7) If you could only have one more overseas trip, where would you go?

8) What is your favourite outfit? Go on, give us a photo….

9) What sewing or music related thing do you want to have done this year?

11) Star Trek or Star Wars?

So there you are ladies… keep spreading the love!

see you soon – I promise!!!

Blocked Cross stitch

though I have been light on sewing output, I have been doing cross stitch. My latest is all done, mounted and up on the wall.

all done

This isn’t my usual style but I loved it as soon as I saw it! The colours are gorgeous and so vibrant. And as the blocks are so small I felt like I was getting somewhere every time I finished – unlike other cross stitches that seem to go nowhere for a looong long time!

I mounted this one as recommended in the magazine it came from, but the finished size was slightly smaller than it should be so it didn’t fit the block mount exactly. As a result I just couldn’t get all the lines straight – which, as this cross stitch is ALL lines, is very frustrating.

But I am learning that good enough is good enough. The only way to get this straighter would be to get it done professionally and I figure I can always do that in the future if it continues to bother me…

I do really love this and its already up on the front room wall. Another project done. (and from a distance you can’t see the wonky lines at all!!)

all done and on the wall

Short and sweet

Homespun Magazine

A few weeks ago I picked up the latest Homespun magazine and liked the look of the dolls on the front cover.

They were designed to be a doll for a kidlet but I came up with a tricksy idea and decided to enlarge the pattern and turn it into a door stop…

So I doubled the size of the pattern on the photocopier and put it all together without glancing at the instructions. Not once!

Oops.

I put it all together and took a look at her and was not impressed. She had a weird alien egg shaped head, that was as big as her body… not a good look. Mr T took one laugh and burst out laughing.

Not to be outdone I unpicked her – all of her, trimmed some excess of the head and, again ignoring the instructions, put her back together, this time with mostly better results.

Et voila…  the finished door stop. She’s about 25cm high and has lots of rice at the bottom to keep her standing. Now to wrap her up as a birthday present….

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A birthday present for a 5 year old… (or Spotlight, there and back again, again)

howdy world! I hope you guys had a fantastic Christmas and a great New Years.

Sometime last year I came across the following quilt design at Spotlight, a big chain store known for crafting supplies, average quality, being handy to home when I’m in a rush and terrible customer service. I thought it was pretty cute…

Spotlight instruction sheetThe colours and the owls all called to me but I know it wouldn’t fit into my house anywhere. So I came up with a cunning plan. My big cousins daughter was turning 5 in Jan and that sounded like the perfect excuse. As if I needed one…

So the plan was underway. For Ms B’s 5th birthday I would make my first full quilt – with cute owls! I went and purchased the fabric, washed it and put it in a pile. For a wee while.

Then one night I was talking to my grandmother who happened to mention that Ms B had a double bed, would the quilt fit a double bed? After spluttering incredulously over the fact that a 4 year old had a DOUBLE bed I quickly figured that no it wouldn’t fit. So adaption was needed. I am nothing if not a visual person so out came the scissors and the glue and I mocked up a new design by simply adding an extra column of owls and some extra horizontal striped border top and bottom and voila. The resulting quilt would be sure to fit a double bed and then some…

my pattern redesign...So after re-calculating the fabric requirements off to Spotlight I headed again and I was ready to go… and this time I got started.

What followed was a lot of cutting lines and bands of fabric but I then started with putting the owl segments together. All was going well until I got to the 5th square… and ran out of fabric… huh? Before I went to Spotlight for a third time I cut out all the other pieces… and discovered they were short as well…

Turns out the fabric requirements on the instructions were incorrect – despite buying more fabric I wouldn’t have been able to make the single size quilt with what I had. So a third trip was required to Spotlight. Only to discover they were out of stock of most of the fabric I needed. So no more fabric to finish a quilt I had already spent hours on preparing and sewing… Awesome.

Luckily Spotlight aim to be in handy locations so I got back into the car and headed out to the one several suburbs over, which was also low on the fabric… In the end, between the two stores, and using my creative head to think of alternatives I was almost sorted… the one fabric I was missing was the dark pink around the owl panels… and there was none to be found, not even after a 4 week “search” by a Spotlight employee (boy was I glad I started this early!).

So I went back to the drawing board. There were 9 owl panels in total – 5 were completed, I could squeeze another one of scraps so I was just going to have to use something else for the middle three panels. So, back to Spotlight I headed to stand in front of the wall of quilting fabrics to find something that matched.

The pink dots is the replacement fabric and you can just see the dark pin paisley it should be...

The pink dots round the middle panel is the replacement fabric and you can just see the dark pink paisley it should be above and below…

As always, after the purchase I double guessed myself and hated it, but in the end the quilt was so so busy that it looked 100% fine.

The thing that took the longest with this quilt was the cutting of the fabric – putting the top together didn’t take too long at all. So once done, I headed back to Spotlight (surprise!) to decide on the quilt backing. Man that is a hard decision! I ended up with a blue almost the same as the blue in the pic above, which I thought toned the “pinkness” of the quilt down – not that a girlie-girl 5 year was was going to mind, but it was starting to give me a sugar headache.

So I sandwiched the quilt top, batting and backing together, pinned it at key areas and then to the machine I went. Do I have a walking foot? Nope… I just made do. And I tell you the back wasn’t too pretty when I finished. But after some unpicking it was looking better.

Thats a lttle machine and lot of quilt!

In the end I only quilted round the three squares that made up the owl panels – that was enough! And to be honest this will never win a quilting prize. The sewing is wonky and some of the lines don’t meet up (gasp!). When I had brought the batting I pre-washed it as recommended but that meant when the quilt was washed after being finished it didn’t puff up as much as I hoped it would. And then it didn’t cover my sewing sins as I hoped!

After putting it all together it was time for binding… I can hand on heart say that the binding is way better than on my first quilt. But it an’t near perfect. I looked up binding techniques online and lots of them recommend hand sewing the binding which I started doing. But after 40 mins I had hand-sewen about 20cms and Mr C forbade me from hand-sewing any more so off to the machine I went. My binding technique will improve in time, that’s all I have to say about it :)

But this is a present, made with love for a pretty awesome 5 year old to be. Perfectionism wasn’t the aim. And after some huffing and grumping about all the things that weren’t right with it, I stopped and took a look and ended up pretty pleased. And for the test – Ms B loved it! She lives overseas but I got a voice mail on her birthday extolling her praises, so I’ve created a winner. And that’s the important thing!

And now some more pics…

Finished and posed over my King size bed. Should fit a double huh. And check out the matching pillow case

Finished and posed over my King size bed. Should fit a double huh. And check out the matching pillow case

I used printable fabric to make the quilt label - swoon!

I used printable fabric to make the quilt label – swoon!

How could I not make these guys up?

How could I not make these guys up?

All done, dusted and looking pretty damn good!

All done, dusted and looking pretty damn good!