Sometimes I find looking for gluten free recipes to be frustrating. A lot of the ones explicitly labelled as gf come with a lot of diet/weight loss/’clean food’ baggage, which I find hard to take. And then I’ll read ‘regular’ recipes with an eye to adaption only to stumble across gluten where there’s no need for it – in soba noodles and tortillas, for instance. Or THEN there’s the recipes where you would think conversion would be simple, but every recipe has five billion flours and heapings of xanthan gum instead of the flour. Nothing against xanthan gum, I just don’t want to use it where it’s not necessary.

All this to say: gnocchi. It’s mostly potato, right? So, I thought, surely a gf recipe wouldn’t be too hard to find! Especially since any time I’ve tried to make gnocchi with gluten flour, they’ve come out tough and gluggy, surely a sign of overworked gluten. So a gf recipe would probably be EASIER! I spent an afternoon wading through recipe after recipe with the above millions of flours and additives. Sorghum gnocchi, anyone? No thanks.

I did eventually find one, from Italy on My Mind. The recipe is here and I won’t reproduce it, but I’ll tell you what I did differently.

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The first time I made it I was pushed for time, so instead of boiling the potatoes I did them in the microwave. This worked so well that I’ve done it every time since. They take about ten minutes, although my microwave has an autocook function that does them to perfection. Actually, they take about twenty minutes, because I doubled the recipe. One batch is about right for three adults, or two adults and leftovers. Since we’ve got two adults + one teenager + I want leftovers for lunch the next day, a double batch is about right. Plus, it’s not much more work so why not!

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The pink bits are potato skin. Yum!

So, a double batch, and I nuked ‘em, and since I was pressed for time I also spread them on the tray and then popped it in the freezer. Last time I did one (double) batch of potatoes, put them in the freezer, then decided I would double the batch after all. The twenty minutes the second batch took to cook was about perfect for the first batch to cool down – they actually work up easier if they are still a teeny bit warm.

The first batch I also didn’t read the instructions all the way through. Instead of making a loaf, I rolled them individually by hand. This meant they were flexible enough to make fork dents on, and they look more like ‘proper’ gnocchi, but they were a bit chewy for my taste. The boys loved them, though, and prefer them this way. Too bad, I’m the one cooking them cooking them. So the next time I compromised. I still didn’t do a loaf, instead I rolled squarish snakes and chopped them.

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This was much better, I could get a real rhythm going so it was quicker, and the gnocchi came out fluffier and lighter.

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The first time we had them with the sauce from the original recipe (first picture in this post). I forgot to take a photo until my bowl was almost finished. The second time we had them with a sauce of cream, white wine and mushrooms (above). And we just had them again tonight with pesto and cream, and a salad on the side (below, looking… look I am not a food blogger ok. Use your imagination).

 

 

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I am DEFINITELY not a food photographer. But it was delicious.

Tonight’s batch was made and frozen last time. I wanted to test the freezing process. It worked really well! I just put them in the freezer on a tray when they were made, and the next day I popped them in ziplock bags. Then to cook, I just did them as normal. They take a bit longer but not really even noticeably, and they are a little bit wetter and goopier but not by much. Enough to make the photo less appetising, though. Sorry.

I am very pleased to be able to make up some of a weekend and stock up my freezer – or my best friend’s freezer – with good, simple, delicious food. And the teenager asked if we could have it again, and has requested it twice since. I’d call that a win.

Do you ever do that thing where you think about an item of clothing you’ve never considered owning, and suddenly you HAVE TO HAVE IT? The other day I was on my way to work, and people watching, and I saw a few women in a row wearing variations on ‘wafty, loose white top’. And all of a sudden I knew, I had to have one. I had a clear picture in my mind – not too loose, but not fitted. Must be white. Must be flowy and drapey but not so big as to be sack like. Must have a high-ish neckline, but not so high it makes my proportions look weird. Must have set in sleeves, not raglan or cut on, and sleeves must be at least halfway down my upper arm. I don’t know why this was the top I needed, but it was.

I spent some time that day looking at patterns on the internet. Most of the commercial patterns were, unsurprisingly, terrible. If you only take the ones that come in my size, they were TERRIBLE. Not a set in sleeve among them. Barely a raglan. So so many kimono and cut on sleeves. Which are fine, but they look odd on me and really do we need FIVE plus size patterns in one pattern line that are variations on ‘sack, with cut on sleeves’? It’s bad enough that those are my options when buying RTW clothes. I debated buying the Scout woven tee, but it doesn’t come nearly big enough, and I resent paying a premium for something I then have to grade up. So I decided to look in my existing pattern stash, thinking that Ottobre might be a good bet for something like that – basic, but with SOME understanding that fashion at least exists somewhere in the world.

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Ottobre came through, with not only my dream haircut but the exact shirt I had in mind. It’s called ‘Painted roses’ in the pattern list, and it’s in the 2/2014 edition, with the trenchcoat on the front. Quite a few nice basics in this one.

You’ll have to excuse my dead face in all of these. It was early and I hadn’t had breakfast. Also that’s pretty much what my face looks like…

I made a quick muslin, and decided the arms were too baggy and it made it look frumpy, so I took some width out of them, which turned out to be a mistake. They were far too tight when I tried them on. I let the seams out as far as they could go  and it’s wearable but I should have just let them be, as you can see there’s still some pulling. The only other adjustments I made were to raise the armscye a tiny bit and taper the shoulders in a tiny bit at the sleeve, and also at the neck so the neck opening is about 1cm smaller. I made a size 50, and for reference my bust is 116cm.

I don’t know why these photos are so grainy, but they’ll have to do.

Then I made another one! And….

Another!

They are all rayon, the white and roses from Lincraft, the teal from spotters. All of them were on sale, so none of these shirts cost more than about $14, which is pretty great in my books. I did buy 2m, the pattern says you need 1.5 but I only had about 30cm left. So I’d say budget for 1.75 and you should be right. They feel nice too, we’ll see how they wear. I should note that the white one was worn for one day, and when I took it off I hung it on the back of the bathroom door to air/get passively steamed. The next day it was as wrinkle-free as rayon will ever be. They do crease but not so that it looks messy. The other two are straight from the wash, just hung up quickly to reduce wrinkles. No iron involved.

The rose is not really my usual kind of thing but I saw it when I bought the white and couldn’t get it out of my head so I went back for it.

I set the sleeves in flat, and french seamed everything. The neckline is finished with a teeny bias facing, which I topstitched in two rows because it was flapping around – the instructions have you just understitch it but it wasn’t cutting it for me. I was worried I wouldn’t like how it looked but I think it looks pretty neat in the end.

The sleeves and bottom are finished by just folding under twice and sewing. This was a bit fiddly because the rayon is slippery and getting it straight was a bit annoying, especially for the bottom hem. I think it ended up a bit wonky in the teal one (or maybe just being pulled up by my boobs? Both?) but I intend to mostly wear them tucked in so… whatever.

The second two took exactly 1.5 hours, including cutting. I timed it. Really happy with this pattern, I’m definitely keeping it on my ‘basics’ list. I can see this made up in cotton or linen – I think it probably needs some drape but could be pretty versatile. My only regrets are the sleeves on the white one (the other two are sleeves as-is, from the pattern) and that I didn’t self-line it. I debated, because I thought the white would be a bit see through, and I talked myself out of it. But it IS see through, you can’t tell in the photo but it’s just enough that you can see my bra. Not too scandalous but too see through for work so I wear it with a cami, which is annoying. I’m thinking of making a cami from the leftover white rayon, which might be less annoying than the too-long, clingy jersey one I have now, but I wish I’d gone with my original plan to make a self-lining joined only at the shoulders, and stopping a few inches shorter.

Here’s a bonus one with the swoon cardi, and my princess line pencil skirt which I ended up doing some adjustments on (the waist ended up being too big. More on that later if I can be organised enough) and now is in high rotation in the wardrobe.

Most of my work wardrobe now is me-made. It feels really good. Both because my skill level is at a stage where I really CAN just whip things up, provided they’re simple, or I CAN plan and sew a more complex thing over a few weeks without quitting in a rage because I got stuck on a hard bit. And also because it means I am wearing clothes that fit me, fit how I want to look, and feel nice to wear. Such a luxury!

I had a cardigan-shaped gap in my work wardrobe. While noodling around on various sewing blogs, I came across the Swoon Scarf Neck Cardigan. I wish I could remember where I saw it, but that’s lost in the mists of time, but I liked it, it was free, I printed it off and taped it up.  had some heavy merino knit fabric that I bought at the Alanna Hill outlet at least six years ago, that I’d been mulling over. I had initially bought it to make a jumper dress, but put it off because it’s SO nice I didn’t want to muck it up, and then eventually decided it was probably too heavy to hold up to a whole dress. But I thought it would make a perfect cardi.

First I made the pattern up in some random jersey I had lying around. It’s from spotters, I bought it in an end-of-line sale some time ago, for I have no idea how much.

The pattern construction is a bit confusing – you sew the front pieces together and then connect them at the cowl part, which sits over the back of the neck, and then sew THAT to the back. But the instructions were really clear, and included a diagram and notes on the pattern pieces, which helped.

The only thing I did differently was to sew the sleeves in flat and then sew them and the sideseam together, instead of sewing the sideseam and then setting them in. I sewed the whole thing up on my overlocker, and hemmed the bottom and the sleeves with a twin needle. I left the collar edge unfinished, since I didn’t want to mess with the drape. The pattern suggests french seaming if you don’t have an overlocker, as some of the seams might be visible. I’d never thought of french seaming a knit! It would be neater but to be honest, I think a regular seam would be fine. The seams are hardly ever on show.

This is a thicker knit than would be ideal, I think. It would be lovely in a really drapey thin jersey, but this was deep stash and now it’s being worn quite a bit, so that’s a definite win! The only thing is I think the colour is a bit washed out and powdery, if that makes sense? I bought a RIT packet dye to dye it a darker navy, and it did exactly nothing. Should have gone with the dylon dye which I know works, even though it was twice the price.

The sleeves are REALLY long on this pattern, btw. Which is good – it meant I could try it on and fold them down to how I wanted them before hemming. But if you’re trying to save fabric, I ended up taking a good 10cm off them, so you could measure your arms first. It did cause a problem, though, because when I was trimming the already-hemmed sleeves, I took a chunk out of them in what I was hoping would be an inconspicuous place but turned out to be right at the top of the sleeve, near my wrist. I zigzagged over it but it doesn’t look great, gotta say.

The thread colour is how dark I wish the fabric was.

I have worn this to work three or so times, because the cardi gap in my wardrobe is large, but I feel a bit frumpy in it because of the less-than-crisp fabric. I like it better as a casual weekend top. Luckily, I FINALLY got around to hemming the black merino one, which I did make.

Not much to say, once again just made the pattern up as is. I overlocked this one too, it would have been nice in a nicer finish but the fabric is so heavy and drapey and puckered under a straight stitch, and I thought it might need the extra strength of the serging.

Can’t even really show it to you, it’s so dark! But it’s so lovely and buttery and soft. This fabric is really special. I have a bit left over but not enough to really do anything with, more’s the pity. I can see this one getting a lot of wear, though. It feels so luxurious.

And here’s another one where you can’t really see anything, and it’s fuzzy to boot, but my witchy stance is making me laugh:

Do they even make gluten free gingerbread cottages?

As for the vests, in my craft camp catchup post I was prevaricating about my white shirt being sheer. Sooz mentioned the idea of vests, and VERY kindly traced and sent me an Ottobre cowl neck knit vest pattern from issue 2/2010. I’m pretty fussy about cowl necks, I find they often are too voluminous or else sit too high, but this one looked pretty good. I wanted to make this in the same merino (I cut out the vest and the cardi at the same time, to be sure I had enough for both). But first, I made a muslin, with some remnant fabric from the fabric store.

I’m attempting to circumvent the ‘I’m too embarrassed to take photos outside on weekend when everyone else is home’ issue by taking them inside. The quality isn’t great, but it’s better than no photos I guess.

I should have taken a photo before I made adjustments. I did a few – nipped in the side seams from the waist up by about 3cm, took the shoulders up at an angle, brought the armscye in although I should have done it a bit more I think. Then I just turned it under and hemmed it with a twin needle. I left the neck unfinished, although I might hem the back because as you can see it sticks up quite a lot. But I think this will only get worn as a summer at-home top, so I might not bother.

I thought it worked well enough to make up in my merino knit, but I wish I’d tweaked a bit more.

It’s hard to see, with the black, but I’ve actually basically hemmed the cowl out of the top. Again, I wish I’d thought to take photos! But it ended up just looking like a regular shirt with a stretched-out neck. It still does! I might put a pleat in it maybe. I don’t know. In the heavier knit the cowl was just not pronounced enough, or maybe it’s because I fiddled with the shoulder seams. You can see the front sticking out more in this super unflattering photo:

As well as the back bulging. The back is sort of cowled too, which I find a bit weird actually. And I should have made the armscye higher, wider at the bottom and thinner at the top. Oh well, bygones. I also should have shortened only the BACK shoulders, it ends up pulling forward and the shoulder seam sits in front of my shoulders, which can’t help the cowl. Really, looking at these photos, what I should have done is just drawn the armscye higher, and left the shoulders alone.

This photo is unintentionally Fashion Pose. I’m quite enjoying it.

This has actually been sulking in the WIP pile because when I first sewed it I was so disappointed by how different it was from my expectations of the pattern and for the beautiful fabric. I only just hemmed it today. I am hoping it will get wear because the fabric is so lovely. I think probably not with this shirt – it doesn’t sit well enough to avoid tugging at my clothes all day, which I do NOT want to be doing. Maybe over a jersey top though? The more I think about it the more I think I will put a tuck into the neck. Maybe an asymmetrical one. Bit bummed out about this to be honest, but then my expectations were probably much too high. I’m going to try and wear it and maybe I’ll discover that it’s fantastic, after all.

Guess it’s time for my yearly blog post where I go ‘so I’ve been to two craft camps and made some stuff and I never blogged it’.

I really wish I’d managed to blog these sooner, because when I blog right after craft camp I can remember the flavour of it, when I made what, who had input, bad jokes we made, all of that. Now I can barely remember whether I made something in March or June.

March

March craft camp I started off with some quick and easy knits. I’d just bought the Lady Skater pattern after seeing it all over the internet and noting that it looked good on just about every single person I saw wearing it. I cut the largest size and muslined it (I can’t remember what fabric I used for that though) and ended up adding 3cm to each side, tapering out from the armpits. I like knit tops to be tight but I find it uncomfortable when they cling to my stomach, so that’s where I wanted extra room. From my notes it looks like I made the dress first.

No idea where I bought the black fabric. Spotters I guess? I’d forgotten to bring clear elastic so I used regular old elastic on the waistline. I’m glad I did, it does need the support, but it makes it a little bit less comfortable to wear. I noted at the time that I thought the waistline was too low, but I didn’t go back and take length out because the skirt is hitting me exactly where I like it to. If I made this again, which I would like to because it’s a very nice dress to wear and a really well drafted pattern, I will take a centimetre or so off the body and add two to the skirt length.

As you can see, though, the neckline is too wide. This was the case with all of these but I didn’t figure out how to fix it until the next camp. In fact, I didn’t figure it out at all – Sue suggested that I cut a size or two smaller on the shoulders. It’s wearable as is but I do find myself tugging on it a lot. I cut long sleeves, but when I cut the muslin the sleeves were too long to add the cuffs to, as the pattern required. So I cut them shorter, and then they were somehow shorter this time? So if I’d put the cuffs on they would have just come to my wrist bone. So I just hemmed them, and the bottom hem, with a double needle.

Next up I made a lady skater top in the same fabric.

I adjusted the shoulders by sewing the seam at an angle, so it starts at the same place on the arm side, and then tapers in almost 2cm at the neck side. Surely there is a neater way to say that? Also I added 1cm more to the sides, for a total of 4cm. I left the sleeves at the ‘long’ length and as you see they are over my wrists.

Same problem with the neck, and the top has stretched out, so that it’s a bit daggy to wear now. I have worn it pretty constantly since I made it, to be fair. I still wear it, but mostly under things. Here it is a couple of months ago, the photo is blown out but at least that means you can see it.

Heaps of bagginess at the shoulders. Ugh that’s annoying. At least this one doesn’t bother me when I wear it, only when I look at it. I also made a short sleeved version which got lots of wear until I tucked it in the back of a drawer and forgot about it until I was taking photos of this post. And then I didn’t even take one, because it’s just a black tshirt. Here’s one from camp. Look how smug I am about it!

Again with the poufiness at the shoulder, but since there isn’t as much weight from the arms, and the jersey is pretty light, it doesn’t feel as annoying.

Then I girded my loins and made a shirt for S.

It’s Kwik Sew 3883. I’d made a muslin before camp, and noted some adjustments needed. I don’t recall exactly what, since I can’t find the notes I made. I did adjust the pattern pieces so I know they’re fine. I know I brought the shoulders in a bit, so the back width is smaller. I think maybe it needed shortening as well? The fabric is just cheapo homespun or broadcloth or something from spotters. He wanted a coverup type shirt for when we go to the beach, because he burns easily. So it wasn’t too intimidating because if I mucked it up or it was a bit dodgy that wouldn’t matter too much.

But I think it came out great! (Those collar points could be sharper, now I look at them.) I took my time over it because I wanted to use it to learn how to make shirts properly, so I could make some for me. I was really impressed with this pattern. The instructions were really clear, and suitable I think for a semi-beginner like myself, or even someone slightly less familiar with general garment construction.

I borrowed someone’s machine to do the buttons – Sue’s, I think? Those automatic buttonholers, man. I covet them. My dinky Brother machine at home does pretty well but it only has a manual buttonholer with one of those flimsy plastic efforts, and it is just impossible to do two the same.

The shirt hasn’t been worn more than once because by March it was getting cold, but it got the tick of approval.

I also muslined the By Hand London Anna dress, but there was too much adjustment needed so I abandoned it for the time being. And I finished my Essential Cardigan but I might give that its own post.

June

For June craft camp I decided to stick with a winning tactic and sew some quick and easy knits first. This time I started with the Penny Pinafore.

I’d cut out a pinny in blue knit fabric at the end of March craft camp, intending to sew it up at home. Obviously that didn’t happen! So I sewed that first at the June craft camp.

Backfat ugh! Oh well. I have fat on my back, whadya gonna do? Also there is pooling fabric on my swayback but I don’t really care, not even enough to scoop that out if I make another one.

I really really love this pattern. Princess seams 4 lyf. I sewed this up with no adjustments, largest size, and it fits like a dream. EXCEPT the dang shoulder issue. You can’t really see it here but it’s super puffy. This one makes it a bit clearer:

Look at all that excess fabric! After I’d sewn this, Sue M suggested the grading down two sizes at the shoulder, and I cut out another one to try it.

My face is a bit weird in some of these photos because I was watching my cat get shouted at by the local magpies and it was very entertaining.

MUCH better. Still bra showing, though. I might need to cut in a centimetre or two on the neck side. Almost everyone else I’ve seen make this, their necklines seem much thinner and firmer, even on lighter fabric. I sewed this one really tight because I’d had issues with gaping with the black skaters, but I think it might just be the shape of my shoulders.

I really love these dresses and I wear them all the time. But I wish I’d known about the shoulder thing for the blue dress, because the sleeves bug me. I can see them out of the corner of my eye, and feel them poofing up. I thought they might settle a bit with washing but they have not. It makes me sad because I really love the colour of the blue. I am not really sure about the red one, it’s a bit more orange than I’d normally wear. And somehow it feels a bit pyjama-y. I feel like that would be less of an issue with a darker colour but I’m not sure why I think that. I’ve considered overdying it but I haven’t been bothered yet. I do wear both dresses all the time, though. Both fabrics are a discontinued spotlight knit called ‘seaspray’ or something like that. I bought a whole bunch on clearance, and I wish they still had it because it’s nice and thick, with enough cotton that it’s not too hot for summer, and the recovery is great.

I also made a tunic length penny.

The only decent pics I could get are super blown out. Otherwise it just looks… black.

This must have been before the red one, come to think of it, because it has the same sleeve issue. That’s exacerbated by the fabric, which is a merino knit from the Fabric Store. It’s lovely but it doesn’t have much recovery, and constantly slips off my shoulders. I am debating sewing some elastic behind the neckline all the way around, to pull it in, because it doesn’t get much wear which is a shame.

Another reason it doesn’t get much wear is that it’s still A-line shape. I just cut to the ‘tunic length’ line on the pattern. I wish I’d straightened out the princess seams and made it straight because I just don’t really know what to wear it with. I have exactly one pair of jeans, which don’t get much wear, and I am ok with leggings as pants in theory but I just feel uncomfortable with it for me except for photo purposes, apparently. It’s a feeling physically exposed thing, I think, not an aesthetic one. Anyway, mostly I wear this under things, tucked in. Like this:

It was bright. Also, egg-on-sticks effect going on here again.

Here I am wearing my long sleeved skater, and this over the top, tucked in to a skirt, and then I had a jumper over it.

I would like to make up a pattern of this that’s straight from the waist down, because I would like to use the pattern to make some simple knit tops and also perhaps a jumper, like Heather did.

I then made a pair of Juniper pants that were a complete disaster. My last pair are great but the crotch curve is clearly not long enough. I did take in the legs and wear them much more now, although they are still linen so obviously not very warm! But they still creep up my bum a bit so I wanted to try to fix that. I adjusted the pattern and lengthened the crotch curve and scooped it out a bit, like this, and like Patti did here. I sewed them up, with the fly and everything, and tried them on and… they were too small. I clearly needed more room at the front where I couldn’t let them out any more because that’s where the fly was. I looked for them to take a photo of, and also to diagnose what went wrong, but I can’t find them. Maybe they’ve slunk off in shame.

I’m considering trying them again but moving the fly to the side, which might make it easier to adjust especially since I clearly have issues with my crotch depth because of my full belly. Or maybe I’ll pull out Simplicity 3688 and see how they go, since they already have that feature. I’m not going to do either of those things short term, though.

Back to what I made that was a success. When I got S’s shirt home after March camp, I tried it on and found that it was a PERFECT fit, except obviously being too big in the torso. So I decided to make myself one and whack a bust dart in it.

I clearly did not iron this for photos. Also god I look like my mother when I stand like that. Note to self. Never stand like that again. Or maybe it’s the oversized shirt + leggings = mothers in the 80s?

The fabric is this GORGEOUS brushed cotton from DK fabric. I had seen it there ages ago and I didn’t buy it because it wasn’t what I was there for. But I thought about it all the time and when I went back not only was it there, but it was on special for $8 a metre. So I bought something like five metres. I should have enough left for a dress, maybe it wants to be a binge dress? Or maybe a shirtdress? It’s like wearing a hug.

Anyhoo, I made this up exactly as I made up S’s, tried it on, and improvised bust darts. I did make the arms and torse, and nipped in the side seams some arbitrary amount, but didn’t shape them at all. I wanted this to be snuggly and big. I LOVE IT. Although in fact I haven’t worn it at all this winter because I took forever to find buttons I liked, then when I finally sewed them on I put it on over my head and broke the shank off of the second-to-top one. It’s almost like you’re meant to unbutton things when you put them on? Like that’s what buttons are for or something??

Anyway I have new buttons now – plural because I also bought some more for the cuffs, which are buttonless because Caroline kindly lent me her machine to do the buttonholes, but it couldn’t cope with the thickness there. I am debating whether to hand sew buttonholes, take it to a place that does alterations and get them to do it, or just sew press studs on and fake buttons on the top. I’ll probably hand sew them, it’s not like they take that long in the scheme of things. In the meantime it’s crumpled from being in the mending pile, but I did wear it for the rest of the day after taking these photos, over a thermal shirt and a tshirt and with the sleeves cuffed. I’m considering going back and putting a pocket on the front, too.

I also made a version of the shirt in this light voile, also from DKs. I bought enough to underline it with itself but then couldn’t be bothered. It actually isn’t as see through as I remembered – obviously it is still sheer, you can see my bra but I would be ok wearing it like this in summer, or with a cami under to work. It is VERY crumply and wrinkly though.

This one I nipped in at the waist a bit, and I think I shortened the arms a bit more than the flanney. You can see when I stretch they pull, but they pull at the arms not at the shoulders, look at me showing off how I can totally cross my arms in this without it pulling! Such a novelty for me. And they are the correct length when not reaching for the sky.There are still pull lines across the front, I could probably tweak the fit a bit more but you know what? I don’t care. It fits way better than a boughten one would, and it’s comfortable and looks fine. And I don’t want to overfit it and end up not being able to move.

After not having looked at this for ages and then putting it on for photos, I like this far more than I remembered. I think I was put off by the sheerness and wrinkliness making it less practical. But now I’m thinking about making another one of these in the heavier cotton I bought for work shirts, before I attempt the princess line shirt. Although both have the issue of needing to put in buttonholes. I’ve been debating chucking a pleat in the back next time, but I don’t know that it needs it. I need the most width in the upper back/yoke area, so if that’s big enough for my hunched shoulders then the rest will be broad enough for my back.

Both of these just have a turned and rolled hem. The pattern also only calls fro 0.6cm seam allowances. From memory on the sheer one I upped the allowances so I could french seam it, because it was so sheer, but I think that’s nice to do for a shirt anyway so you can roll up the sleeves or whatever without exposing overlocking. The only exposed seams are the sleeves, armholes, and sides, anyway, since everything else is encased in a cuff or the yoke. Also next time I would shift the buttons a bit so that there is one exactly on my bustline where it pulls the most. They’re big enough, just the physics of it means it will always pull and gape a bit there if the button isn’t right in the right place.

And now I am almost all caught up!

What an exciting title!

When I wrote the last post I already had Simplicity 1541 cut out, and I’ve since sewn it up. I was apprehensive at first because the largest size (size 24) says it has a waist of 99cm, and my waist measures 105 depending on where you are counting my waist, because having a belly kind of throws that measurement out a bit. I should be spot on for the size 24 hips, though, at 122cm. I cut view A (they are all the same except B has piping in the princess seams and C has trim over the top) and length B.

I just wanted a light coloured tshirt so you could actually see the waistband etc. When I bought this (men’s size M. No partying fat ladies, I guess?) the VERY skinny shop attendant said she had one to and was going to wear it out on New Years Eve, because after christmas she is sooooooooooo fat lol! I don’t even know what to do with that.

Anyhoo, I measured the waistband pattern pieces and they were clearly bigger than they said, so I ended up cutting a size 24 for the front, with the hips tapering down to 22, and cut the back at size 22. I muslined that size and the hips were still too big but I cut it like that because I figured I could always take them in, and I wasn’t sure what difference the change in fabric would make. As it turns out, it probably would have fit better straight out of the packet – when I tried on the real skirt it was a bit tight at the hips. I ended up sewing the side and back seams at 0.75cm, so I probably added in as much room as I took out when cutting.

So next time I make it, I’ll probably cut a straight size 24, but take a couple of centimetres out of the centre back, because it’s very gappy there. Not too much, though, because although it feels unnervingly loose when I’m standing, it’s actually fine and (so far) stays put, and it means when I sit down I’m not feeling like I’m being cut in half.

Look at that stright side seam! Delightful. Straighter than when I’m not pulling out the excess, I see.

It’s got a regular zipper, which I forgot to take a photo of, but is pretty neat, especially considering I had to sew it in on a 0.75cm seam allowance! I didn’t bother lining it, which I’m still second guessing. And the pattern comes with a nice lined back vent so I didn’t have to draft one.

I overlocked all the pieces before sewing them together, so I could do a basting fit. I muslined it in an old sheet but that fabric was obviously a lot thinner, which did make a significant difference to the fit. I couldn’t be bothered changing the thread, so it’s overlocked navy. Oh well. I hand did the hem because when I tried it on it was pretty much exactly the right length and I didn’t want to loose any length doing a machine blind hem. It was pretty quick to hand hem anyway, although I think it needs a better pressing because it still looks a bit wibbly. Next time I will cut view B but give myself a bit more length to play with.

Oh and the waistband is not very neat because I accidentally sewed the facing on upside down the first time, and didn’t realise until I’d fought with it for some time, so the detaching and re-attaching process was a bit fraught. You can see the front seams puckering a bit, too. I overexposed the photos so they weren’t just a black blob – in real life, I can see them because I’m looking, but they’re not super noticeable. I wish I’d mucked around with the tension settings a bit more because it does bug me, but I went window shopping today and saw a couple of $80+ skirts with even worse puckering so I guess I can live with it. I’m trying to do a solid job but also not get too precious about things, since I am sewing for a need. I’m not going to faff around with french seams and the like unless there’s a specific reason – but I AM unpicking a lot, because I want wearable garments that I feel good in.

This came together really quickly, and the instructions were suprisingly clear and helpful, where I used them. The Amazing Fit line generally gets good reviews and I would say they are well deserved, if this pattern is anything to go by. I can definitely see this becoming a TNT.

Summary

Pattern: Simplicity 1541 bought on sale (the only way I buy patterns) so probably $5

Fabric: Gaberdine from spotters, $13 a metre and I only used one metre. Really nice to work with, actually.

Total cost including thread and notions (but not time): Let’s say $20ish.

Time to sew: About two hours to cut the pattern and muslin it. Time from cutting the fashion fabric to completion, probably another two hours.

Wearable?: Yes, definitely.

 

Next up is the first Binge Dress  (It’s the School Teacher Dress from Ottobre 05-2011).

It was bright. I should have waited an hour, it’s overcast now and would have been much easier to take photos, both in terms of being able to see the details in black garments, and in terms of not blinding myself.

The fabric is some kind of mystery material from the stash, I am pretty sure it is drill that I bought for a pair of Junipers, but I’m not exactly sure. It was nice to work with – heavy but not too heavy for a dress, takes a pressing well etc – but it does wrinkle like a bastard. I wore it today, ironed it before I wore it, and took the photos about lunchtime. I think I can live with it, but we’ll see. Again it’s a bit more obvious because I overexposed these. And also it is ALREADY LINTY. Just like the first Binge Dress. What is this about? It is not the washing machine, because I haven’t washed the dress. It is just attracting lint from thin air! I could scream. I bought some fabric softener to do a DIY static reducer spray thing, let’s hope that works.

I futzed with the pattern a bit. As I mentioned last time I embiggened it by just adding 2cm to each edge. Then I made the bust dart bigger, to account for neck gape. This worked perfectly on the muslin, but when I tried on the bodice of this version, the armholes were gapey. I took about 1cm off the width of the shoulders, tapering to the armpit, and also put a dart in the armscye which is a bit ad hoc but seems to work pretty well.

You can sort of see the dart coming down from the armpit. Also LINT. GAH!

I started to futz with the dart, too, I thought it came out too high on my bust, then I thought maybe it needed to come from higher up the side seam, I did a few different ones and then ended up going back to the original position and depth. You can see it wanting to make a dart coming from the side (see below), so I might split the dart next time I make it. Or maybe not? I think it looks pretty good as is, actually. I don’t want to over fit it, and my range of movement is REALLY good in this and part of that is that extra fabric. Not sure whether to just keep putting the armpit dart in, or if I can fix that some other way.

There’s also a fair bit of extra fabric in the back sleeve, again for movement.

The sleeve is a frankenstein effort. I took a sleeve from another Ottobre pattern – one of the shirts in 05-2013, which is my size but was still too tight on the arm. I added in a triangle of fabric in the muslin until it fit, and then I cut it down the seamline and used that as the pattern piece. The sleeves were originally just above elbow length, but they were a bit too tight at the bottom so I cut them down about two inches and rehemmed them. I like them this length but would like a version with longer sleeves, so I’ll widen the pattern piece. I also too a LOT of ease out of the sleevecap, by sewing the sleeve as it was into the muslin armscye as it seemed to fit and then just lopping off the excess. Although there was still enough that I did gathering threads to set it in. I am really pleased with how these sleeves turned out. I do not have an easy relationship with sleeves but these ones are good.

Look! I am totally not even cutting off my circulation by standing like this! I am squinting though.

I ended up sewing the centre seam at 2cm instead of 1cm, taking a good 2cm of width out. It is maybe a teeny bit tight on my upper back, but otherwise it’s good. I think this will be pretty standard for me, needing a size smaller on the back. Must try to remember that. I didn’t put a zip in – I tried it on and I can get it on and off without. Although I probably will go back and put it in because it’s annoying to do. But I wanted to finish it quickly because I had a job interview! Just filling in for someone for two months, doing admin/reception stuff, but it will be good experience and also as much money as I was earning in my other, harder job, so I am not complaining. So yes, that will cut into my sewing time! And also makes me very glad I got started when I did, because otherwise I don’t know what I would have worn. I felt good in this dress, which is nice.

I initially wasn’t going to line this, but when I got to the end I decided to line the skirt. I made up the skirt lining (giving myself a bit of extra ease at the hips and pleating instead of darting) but since the skirt and top were sewn together at that point I improvised. I sewed the lining on to the skirt/bodice seam allowance upside down, flipped it back down and topstitched it. I don’t know if that’s clear but oh well. The neck is faced (and I really love how the neckline turned out and how the facing makes it sit), the arms and skirt just turned over and machine hemmed with a straight stitch. I’m glad I lined the skirt and I think next time I will line the bodice if I’m not in a hurry. I also need to tack down the back facings (I cut them a bit short by forgetting seam allowance on one edge) but they can wait until I put the zip back in.

Yeah, the inside’s aren’t the neatest. But the outside is and that’s what counts. Also LINT. UGH!!! Where is it even coming from?? No vent, which is fine, I can walk without restriction and the only time I felt it tug was when I had to step really far to get onto the bus. But I might give it a vent next time because I think it hangs nicer that way.

Summary

Pattern: Dress with Variation (School Teacher) from Ottobre 05-2013. The magazine is about AU$13 and I haven’t sewn anything else from it (except for this same dress which I don’t wear because of LINT) so I’m counting the whole cost.

Fabric: Mystery drill, probably from spotters. I can’t imagine I paid more than $9 a metre for it, and I used about 2.5m because it wasn’t very wide, so $22ish.

Total cost including thread and notions: Once I put a zip in it probably $40ish.

Time to sew: About three hours to cut the pattern and muslin it because I did a lot of mucking around and sleeve fitting. Time from cutting the fashion fabric to completion, probably about four hours. Next one will be quicker, a lot of that was dart futzing, and retrofitting the lining took longer than just sewing it in would (although not as long as lining the bodice as well).

Wearable?: Yes, if the wrinkles and lint don’t become more of an issue.

Other notes: I saw a very similar dress in Harris Scarfe today, reduced to $30 down from $100, except the polyester was already fraying and when I tried it on for interest’s sake, the fit was AWFUL. So I feel pretty good about this dress from a fiscal point of view and although it is wrinklier than the poly dress would be, it doesn’t bag and pill so I’m calling it even.

I have another one of these half cut out, because I bought 2m of the gaberdine for the skirt, but the fabric was really wide so I only used 1m of it. I thought I could get a whole dress out of the remains and I was almost right – everything but one back bodice and the sleeves. I bought another 0.5m today to finish it.  I really could use some tops, though, since I have to start actually wearing my work wardrobe soon!

 

I work in a pretty casual office, where work-appropriate clothing just means you’re covered, basically. My (female) boss often wears shorts and thongs to work in the summer. I am probably the most formally dressed of the lot of us – I never wear shoes with laces to the office (well except for that one pair of oxfords) and I never wear jeans. But still, my work wardrobe has tended more casual and comfortable, especially over the last two years where I have not felt well (gluten stuff) and not really had the extra energy to think about how I dress for work. For instance for the last few weeks, all I’ve worn to work are my penny pinafores and lady skater dresses – comfy, stretchy knits.

It’s nice to be able to be so casual, but I’d also like to be able to put some thought and care into how I present myself. It makes me feel happy to do so. I’m starting to have the energy to do so more and more – but not the means. Plus sized work clothes are expensive, and scarce. And then you’re faced with the issue, universal to all sizes but really accentuated at the upper end, of whether you really want to pay $70 for a polyester skirt that barely fits.

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Here’s a photo of some clouds to break up the wall of text.

So I’ve been meaning to sew some more work gear for some time, but just not getting to it. But now my job is dwindling, the work the business is getting in has slowed to a trickle, and so I’m really upping my job searching. For which I obviously need, at a minimum, some interview clothes. And ideally enough clothes for a week, so if (when? Please?) I do get a new job I don’t have to worry about getting or making more clothes. I’m only working 2 days a week at the moment, and I’m trying to use one of my free days for job applications, and another day for sewing. It’s nice to have big blocks of time to sew in, especially since I am currently sharing my sewing room with several computers. Uh… did I even mention that S and his son have moved in with me? Well, they have. And now the craft room is the study/craft room. Most of my stash is in boxes in the shed, and my sewing machines are still set up on their own table but I’ve not got as much room to spread out as I used to. They are happy to work around me, or to move to another room, but it’s just more tricky to sew when they’re home.

Anyway, since I have almost nothing in my wardrobe, this is the perfect opportunity to think about what I actually wear and like, and make a capsule type wardrobe. I spent a couple hundred dollars of my tax return on fabric at spotlight during their 40% off sale, and I have a stash of patterns already. So now I have to sew!

Fair warning, I’m going to bang on a fair bit about what I want to sew, because it’s helpful to me to have a plan. And it’ll be interesting to check back and see what changed in the process. Feel free to check out and come back when the actual sewing starts. I already own all the patterns and fabric mentioned, unless otherwise specified, and I want to avoid buying much more until I am working again. I can justify a metre or two, especially if it’s for something specific. But if I already have pattern and fabric for something in that category, I need to make do first. No buying more navy fabric for skirts until I have sewn all the black skirts I need, for example. That way lies empty wallets and too-full craft rooms. I can’t deny that part of this effort is also to use up some of the fabric in my drawers. Then I can bring in more from the shed, maybe!

Excessive talking below the cut.

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Rounding out the FOs now. We’re down to the dregs, don’t worry, I’m almost done! Just in time for Craft Camp and hopefully some more FOs.

First, the fixes.

At the last craft camp I made a McCalls 6559 maxi dress. The not-maxi version, because that was the length I had fabric for. It came out a bit big – the pattern has SO much ease. At camp I had run the sides in, but the neckline and armscyes were too low by a good two inches, so I didn’t even bother finishing the edges. I figured it was a good muslin and maybe I’d wear it as a heatwave housedress.

Then a couple months after camp I was thinking about it and it occured to me… neck too low… armscye too low… maybe the SHOULDERS were too long? Like, duh. I took it up two inches and it was perfect. I finished the neck and arms with binding from an almost-but-not-quite-the-same piece of fabric. The fabric of the dress is really light, so instead of hemming it I attached a wider band of the same fabric I bound the neck in. That was a slight miscalculation, as it doesn’t sit right, but given that this fabric is thinnnnnn I don’t wear it out of the house except in heatwaves.

The thing about heatwaves, though, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, is that we’ve had quite a lot of them lately. I wore this dress almost every day I wasn’t working for a good two months. All that wear means it’s stretched out a bit – again, thin fabric, but that really just made it even better for those days where you think, if you let fabric touch your skin, you might actually melt.

I would definitely make this dress again, it was so easy – basically cut it out, sew the side seams and shoulders, finish the edges, done. And I love wearing it. Next time I would cut the neckline about an inch higher, though. Although I see in the photo that it’s pulling a bit under the shoulder, so maybe I’d only raise it 1.5″ and cut the neckline 1.3″ higher. Side seam-wise I would probably cut it to the first adjusted size, because it’s super easy to accommodate any stretching later by whipping in the side seams, and I don’t know that I’d want a skin-tight maxidress. I suspect maxidress season is over, although if I can work out sleeves for this I might make a winter weight one – I had a bought one that I LOVED that I friend called my ‘goddess dress’ but I wore it in winter and stood in front of a heater and, it being polyester, it melted. I still have it and I’ll probably just hem it shorter and wear it, but I’ve kept it to copy.

Next up are some pencil skirts I made at last year’s March Craft Camp. They are both Kasia, which I have made before. I added lined kick-pleats to them, but they stuck out.


Added to that, I sewed these both up on the overlocker, and didn’t use the whole seam allowance. So I had planned, at March Craft Camp, to undo them and bring them in, and add a lining, and fix the pleat. Janet even very kindly picked me up some stretch lining for them. But then that was the Craft Camp of the Great Pestilence, and I was too ill to concentrate on anything much, so they didn’t get fixed. They sat in the sewing room waiting for attention, and never got them.

So the other day I pulled them out again and tried them on. They… did not seem too big? Although I have actually lost some volume around my belly since I stopped eating gluten and am not bloated all the time, so who even knows what that’s about. I did nip in the black skirt’s waist by a centimetre or so. So I fixed the kickpleats and have been wearing them.

I fixed the pleats by topstitching the outside edge, pressing a lot, and sewing the pleat to the skirt at the top. In the case of the black skirt, the pleat was probably too big, so I brought the edges in as well. I just serged them off. It still sits a bit funny but is much improved. I tried to get some photos but they just look like… fabric. Nothing to see, really, but this paragraph can serve my own future reference. They do look much better.

Feb 001

 

I was going to crop this but I’m quite fond of pics whee you can see the random crap in people’s lives. This is my laundry. It is actually relatively tidy in this picture. It’s just that there is no storage to speak of in my house, it makes me crazy.

Anyway, excuse the crappy photo please, but you can see that it is much better. You can ALSO see the same waist/hemline problem I described last time. The waistline is about even (my shirt is covering it a bit at the front) but you can see the bottom of the yoke angles down, as does the hemline. The way I am standing in the photo above is my normal posture, it’s not particularly bad (for me) or anything. All my family have slight scoliosis and I have rounded shoulders and I just stick my butt out. That’s the way it is, no point making clothes pretending I’m going to ever stand up straight.

I… might have to start making yoked that are thinner at the front? I am really just kind of stumped, guys. Any suggestions welcome. I also think that yokes may be my answer to my circle skirt conundrums, maybe? I have worn those skirts again this week in the name of figuring out my options, and they are just… not COMFORTABLE. Which is a shame.

Anyhoodle, I also pulled out the zip in the black skirt and put in an invisible one, because you could see the tape in the old one, and I would have done the same for the red one but I didn’t have a red invisible zip. I have since bought one. I might swap them one day. I wore the red skirt today and it did actually bag out a bit so that it was a bit loose by the end of the day. I might whip in the side seams, although the extra room is really at the centre front yoke seams, but I am not changing them because it’s faced and everything’s overlocked and I can’t be bothered.

These would certainly benefit from a lining, they stick to everything and since I always wear shorts of leggings there is always something to stick to. But I am thinking of making bikeshorts out of the satin lining that Janet bought for me, instead.

So that’s the fixes.

The first knit is also a fix – and it isn’t even finished yet. It’s my Essential Cardigan, which I had finished up to the bands at September Craft Camp.

I actually finished the band in September, and started sewing it up. But because I had put so much work into the fitting process, I wanted to sew it properly. This is why I never do anything properly, guys, it is not finished yet. I sewed petersham ribbon onto the button bands because they pulled a bit, but then I had to hand sew the buttonholes by hand. My sewing machine can barely manage one ok-looking buttonhole on regular fabric, let alone several on a hand knit. I did about four before getting tired. Also it was hot and that wasn’t motivating me.

Also, once the bands were done and I tried it on, I was… a bit underwhelmed. It fits me well, but I am just not sure I did the shaping in the right place. I don’t know. I think it’s probably fine, except that I was expecting it to shoot glowing rainbows of unicorns, and obviously it didn’t. It only managed one shitty pegasus, you guys. So disappointing.

No, but really, the sleeves were also about an inch too long. I made the sleeves up myself because I wanted full-length, and I guess I overcompensated. That’s ok, they have cuffs so it’s easy enough to chop them off and regraft, and I also made them a bit thin so they could actually use being taken up like that. I might try to remember to bring this to craft camp and do that then.

I also cast on for Neon, in the flush of an almost-finished essential. Then when the Essential bogged down, so did Neon. It still looks pretty much like this:

and I am concerned that the red is too light for me and might make me look washed out. I’ve picked it up again this week and once I have sleeve holes I’ll try it on and see. The yarn is Bendigo Woolen Mills Luxury. I think I might need to go through my stash because there is a bunch of ‘fine but nothing special’ yarn and to be honest, I don’t want to knit it. I only want to knit special yarn. Really, I knit so slowly these days that I could put a whole year’s yarn budget towards one jumper. (Not that I have an actual dedicated yarn budget, but you know). But if the fine but nothing special yarn is in my stash, I feel like I have to knit it.

Well, that’s 1600 words about not very much, so that’s probably enough from me. The next two days are going to be crazy busy so I should really go PACK FOR CRAFT CAMP. Which is actually quite annoying at the moment because I am catsitting my cousin’s cat for a month. He’s in the spare/craft room, because he and my cat are both pretty territorial. So if I want to go into the craft room I have to either squeeze in without letting him out and my cat in, or else lock my cat in the bedroom. So I can’t pack both clothes and craft stuff at the same time. It’s very ‘don’t leave the fox with the chicken’ and frankly, I’m not enough of a lateral thinker for that kind of business.

Continuing the round up of unblogged FOs. Carrying over from last post, I’ve made some more Cake Patterns. These Tiramusi dresses came first, chronologically, though.

I made one last March at craft camp, and loved the pattern but I made it up in a bastard fabric. I thought I would wear it as a housedress but I never have, since it’s pretty thin but also polyestery, so it’s not great for hot days, and the front sits funny so I always have to be adjusting it, which I HATE. I’ve gotten rid of it now, I can’t remember if I gave it to the op shop or just literally threw it in the bin. But I did love the pattern, and in fact I cut out another one on the last day of that craft camp, to sew up when I got home. I can’t remember how long it took me to get to but obviously it was more than a month or two. Why would I sew anything in a timely manner?

Here I am wearing it at the zoo. The reason I am laughing is that I was there with S, and he had reminded me of our first official date which was also at the zoo. The whole day we had heard an odd groaning noise echoing throughout the grounds, and when we got to the Giant Tortoise, we found out what it was. The male tortoise was on top of the female tortoise – backwards. Making groaning noises. While she made ‘I am over this’ faces like only Giant Tortoises can. We left very quickly and have not been back to see them since. Giant Tortoise Encounter, indeed.

Anyhoo, the dress. It’s made from the same thick jersey that I made my Blank Canvas tee in, discussed in the last post. I think the line was called seaspray or sea… splash? Sea… something? This was originally a dusty plum colour, one of the uninspiring colours left at the end of the season, so I got a whole lot of it for half price. I wish I’d bought more. But the colour was meh for me, so I chucked it in the washing machine with a navy dye packet, bringing the cost back up (those things aren’t cheap) but making a fabric I really love.

I wear this dress ALL. THE. TIME.  Actually I wanted to wear it today but realised I can’t find it, and had a mild panic this morning. It is just so easy to throw on and wear. And it has POCKETS.

Gosh some of these photos are terrible. Iphone camera, no edits, weird angles accentuating all the things I don’t like to see in photos of me. Dorky day-at-the-zoo shoes. Oh well, gotta lower that bar, I’d rather be blogging with dodgy photos than not blogging.

Not that I put much in the pockets. Being jersey, they stretch out and hang funny if there’s heavy stuff in them. But tbh, it’s nice to have somewhere to put your hands. I’m wearing a skirt with no pockets today and I kept trying to shove my hands into phantom pockets.

I did a lot of fiddling to get the fronts right and as you can see they still bunch. I really ought to have done an FBA, but I was too lazy and short on time when I cut it to figure that out. I also cut the skirt out flat and failed to realise I had cut all four pieces facing the same way. (I do this FAR too often. Get it together, self.) And I think I did the same thing on the bodice, too. I remember cutting another bodice piece from one of the skirt pieces, and I had enough left over to cut one extra skirt piece correctly, but only one. So the one of the back skirt pieces is the wrong way on the bias, but I haven’t noticed any problems with it. The skirt is unhemmed here because I couldn’t wait for the skirt to hang so I could hem it before wearing it. I have since gone back and done a rolled hem on the overlocker. (Overlockers and sergers are just exactly the same thing, right? I use them interchangeably, sorry for any confusion). The angle is weird in the bottom photo so you can’t see, but at that point the hem was right on my knees. I think it’s since stretched out, and I should go back and take the waistband up. Actually, I bet that’s why I can’t find it, I probably put it in my craft room to do that, instead of back in the wardrobe.

As I said I really do love this pattern, I recommend it highly, and I’ve worn this dress once a week minimum since I made it,  but I’m not sure I’ll make any more. I am just not sure about crossover/surplice bodices on me. I think they look great, both on other people and on me, but they just feel a bit weird on me. Just a personal preference, I guess. I have some red jersey that I was going to make into a tira but now I think I might make up a Red Velvet mashup, with a Red Velvet bodice and a Tira skirt, but then I have the same issue I had with the Blank Canvas tee with kimono sleeves. They’re a million times easier to sew, I’m just not convinced about them on my body. Or I just downloaded the Penny Pinafore because my most worn boughten dresses are a couple of princess-line stretch velvet dresses. I mean to be fair, mostly that’s because they are velvet and it’s hard to go past that, but still. It’s a shape I like on me, but princess lines on a large bust are tricky and have defeated me before. Maybe they’ll be easier in a knit? She says, hopefully.

I was going to buy the lady skater pattern but then I thought, I have probably dozens of long-sleeves tshirt patterns in Ottobre magazines. I’ll just sew one of them and whack a skirt on it. Done. (Swearing aside.) Especially since one of my sewing goals (that sounds very official. It’s just a thing I’d like to do, really) is to sew more of my everyday stuff that I wear all the time but find hard to find good quality, well fitting versions in stores. In not-summer, I wear a scoop neck black knit, long or 3/4 sleeved shirt pretty much every day, and the ones I have are wearing out, so I’d like to make myself some more. I also downloaded the free plantain pattern from Deer and Doe, I couldn’t resist the peer pressure, so that might be a goer. I’ll probably take the side seams in because floaty over the midriff is not a style I feel real comfortable in, but that’s easy enough.

ANYHOODLE. The navy tira is actually the third one I’ve sewn. First was the muslin one, and the second was a costume one, in terrible, awful costume crushed velvet.

That stuff is NASTY. The little synthetic nap bits came off and itched like fibreglass. Am I the only one who has that as a reference point? My dad used to work in a fibreglass factory, so I grew up knowing that particular itch of ‘oh no, I have a tiny rigid prickle somewhere in my clothing.’ Urgh I’m getting sympathetic prickles just thinking about it. You know that feeling when you get a teeny plant spike in your foot but you can’t see it? Like that, but all over. I had to shower after every time I sewed this, and wash it twice before wearing. I’m still picking it out of my overlocker.

My poor dusty overlocker. All my machines are sadly overdue for a clean and checkuo.

Because the velvet wasn’t as stretchy as I expected, I ended up having to split the sideseam and add a strip of fabric in there, and it’s still pretty tight, so it’s a bit of a struggle to get on and off. But that’s fine for a costume. I sewed it for a cartoon themed quiz night. I went as Lumpy Space Princess. Spot the resemblence?

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7343/12742801573_433c76715e.jpg

http://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20130724203926/adventuretimewithfinnandjake/images/7/73/LSP%27s_Phone.png

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2857/11814491015_e006cea393.jpg

I also sewed a robe thingy and a beard for S, who made a crown and a cut out penguin, and went as the Ice King.

http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20120921153231/adventuretimewithfinnandjake/images/6/64/Original_Ice_King.png

Are you tired of bedroom-mirror selfies yet? Also my house is a dark dark cave. Next house I am demanding well-lit full-length mirrors in every room, ESPECIALLY the craft room.

And my cousins went as Marceline and Princess Bubblegum. I won’t put their pictures up, because of internet privacy etc, but some of you will have seen them on my facebook. These are all characters from Adventure Time, which is an excellently weird TV show that I am like a season behind on because it got too deep and I have too many feelings about it. We won ‘best team costume’ so that was satisfying.

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In other costumey type things, I made this flower crown for my cousin’s birthday

Look, it’s not exactly my thing, but let me tell you, she rocks it.

To go with the Somebody Please Help Will Graham tshirt that I bought her. For those of you who are confused, the T-Shirt is a reference to the tv show Hannibal, and the flower crown is a fandom meme. I do not watch Hannibal, because I cannot even look at stills of the food without feeling nauseous, but their fandom is one of the most delightfully weird and lovely ones out there. I am in the Hannibal fandom fandom, I guess you could say. And the cast and show runner are also delightful, and when a fan brought them flowercrowns at ComicCon they wore them the whole panel and now Bryan Fuller, the director, now makes them to keep on set and gives them out to actors. What a DELIGHT. Also he gives interviews about feminism and queer representation and PLEASE DIRECT THE NEXT STAR TREK, BRYAN, PLEASE SAVE US FROM JJ ABRAHMS. So. Anyway. That’s what this flower crown is about.

Speaking of fandom things, I also made the same cousin a little Jesse doll for the ending of Breaking Bad, which she was very distressed about. He was whipped up at the last minute, so he’s pretty dodgy but oh well. It is surprisingly hard to make a doll-shape that doesn’t look ridiculous. I am pretty not-happy with this doll as a product but he was very well received so I’ll get over it.

I also got one of my most favourite people in the HFC gift swap over christmas. She is allergic to wool, so I made her a fleece version of the tentacle scarf. I neglected to get any good photos of it.

But she did send me a lovely card with photos of her wearing it, which warmed my heart. For the tentacles, I eyeballed a triangle shape with a rectangle on top, and made up a paper pattern. Then I cut two tentacle pockets out of the contrast fleece. I cut little strips of the main colour and rolled them until they were about the right size, pinned them on, and sewed them down. Because it doesn’t fray I didn’t have to be too careful, I just had to make sure I got the edges down. The hardest thing was getting the proportions of the suckers right. It took one Cindy Lauper interview (highly recommend) and one BBC documentary to finish them. (Isn’t sense memory weird?) Then for the main scarf I cut two lengths of the fleece, sewed it together in the middle, cut the ends into triangles, sewed them to the pockets and turned them right side out. Done. I also made a hat to go with it:

Out of a free internet pattern. I made it in a rush and it’s a bit wonky, but somehow on J’s head it looks amazing. How does she do that? I still have a bunch of fleece left over and I was going to turn it into a manatee but now I can’t find it. I have several pieces of fabric that have gone awol in the last few months. Maybe my cat is hoarding them somewhere?

MOI???

Can you tell that this is my ‘dagging around and doing things’ jumper? It is looking the worse for wear now and I should have bought ten because I love it. It has a nice big kangaroo pocket for ipods/scissors/whatever.

More toys. My best friend’s kid got really obsessed with this one youtube video of puppies breastfeeding. ‘Puppy!’ was one of his first words. So I made him a puppy:

The body is just a rectangle, the legs just tubes, and I made the ears up. I used some old clothes I’ve been hoarding because ‘I might make something out of them one day!’ Finally I did. The belly is a knitted vest that I bought already felted – it used to be a men’s XL. But I haven’t worn it for ages because it’s pretty bulky. The rest is old linen pants that wore out in the thighs and also are vastly too small for me now, but the fabric is lovely. I did buy the flannel for the ears, and the ribbon for the puppies legs. The puppies have velcro on the underside so they stick. All the faces etc are embroidered.I was going to make more, and not give them the creepy thin prototype puppy on the right, but I ran out of time (sensing a theme here…) so that is what they got. Oh, well.

I also made covers for my sewing machine and overlocker.

The sewing machine has a hard plastic case but it’s annoying to put on and take off, so I never use it. I just sort of eyeballed it, and this one came out too big so I put a couple of pleats in it. I thought I had a photo of the finished one and also the overlocker one – which is the same fabric (drill from spotters) only pears – but I don’t. So, this is all you get. I made bias binding and piped it, because I wanted to and it was good practice. I made a handle for the sewing machine one but didn’t bother for the overlocker. For the sewing machine cover, I made it up and then lined it, but that turned out to be super annoying, so I just underlined the overlocker one. Both have medium-weight interfacing fused on. I still have to overlock and hem the overlocker cover, because when I was making it the thread kept snapping and I got the shits and abandoned it.Phew! That’s lots.

I’ve been sifting through photos and I thought I’d do an round up of some unblogged FOs. This ended up getting quite long, because I wanted to mention details for my own reference, so I’ve split it into two posts. Feel free to just look at the photos, or skip it altogether! (I mean, always feel free. Do what you like, this is your blog-reading-leisure time!)

I had a burst of sewing over the holidays, and I’ve tried to keep it up a bit since, since making things is a really effective form of self care for me. Mostly this means making the same simple patterns over and over. Well, it works for me. I get garments that I know I’ll wear, and I actually think it’s a good way for me, personally, to learn. If this were a videogame it’d be grinding - as it is, it makes it easy for me to see if there’s a particular part where I always cut corners or forget something, and then I get to practice it. Usually when I make a mistake I say ‘oh well, I’ll know for next time!’ but it helps solidify that if there IS a next time. So this is a bit repetative.

Pj pants

One craft camp last year I rubbed off a pattern from a pair of PJs I had that I liked, and made it up. I think that one was the goldfish. I copied details I liked, like the waistband which was jersey folded over elastic, and then both serged to the waist so the elastic can’t twist around. I initially hemmed them with an ordinary turned-under hem, but they were  a bit short, so when I got home I unpicked it and copied the original PJS and put on a cuff with some (very dodgy) white piping. While I was there I narrowed the leg, so I can wear them to bed without getting too tangled. Then I whipped up the whales, too. I put cuffs on them because I liked how it weighted the legs down a bit. They are both flannelette from Spotters, and very comfy and snuggly.

I actually sent the original PJs to the op shop the other day – I tried them on and they just did not fit at all! Every pair since I’ve just adjusted a liiiitle bit, so in contrast the original pair had a too-short crotch curve, too-short legs, and too-low waistband. I didn’t think I’d made any big changes but I guess a little goes a long way, when it comes to crotch curves!

I wore them ALL the time this winter. I work in a pretty casual office so I just wear everyday clothes to work, but it’s nice to have some clothes that signify ‘I’m home’ or, alternately, ‘it’s Saturday and I do not plan on leaving the house even once’. Once it got hotter I decided I needed some warm weather ones. I don’t like to wear pyjamas to bed (TMI?) because I toss and turn a lot and I get tangled in them, even with my slimmed down legs. If it’s cold or I have company and I have to wear something to bed, I tend to wear shorts or leggings. This meant I didn’t have any pjs/dagging around pants apart from the ones I’d made, so I decided to whip up some lounge pants (best said in a fancy voice) that weren’t flannelette.

Here I am showing you the waistband (and a saucy look, apparently). It’s quite high, which is nice in pants you want to dag around in, I find. Very secure, I can see why old men like it. Me and my big butt would like high-waisted everything, I am discovering.

The trouble with these pants is twofold. First, I decided to French Seam them, but I decided this after I had cut them out with a seam allowance for an overlocker. So the French Seams are a bit hairy on the outside, since I had to sew them real close. It also made them a little bit tight which, since they are Japanese Lawn, makes them feel a bit delicate. Maybe not ideal for lounge pants? But I couldn’t resist, the fabric was half price (guys Spotlight is basically always having a sale) the print is so nice and they do feel lovely on. I just save them for special, is all. You know. Real SPECIAL lounging time. (??)

So to make up for that I also made the other pair you see in the top photo, out of some poplin from Spotters. It’s from one of their named lines but who cares, really. I also got this for half price. I cut it out a bit bigger so I could french seam it but then somehow it turned out I didn’t, and the hips were just too tight. I need to go back and officially adjust the pattern instead of just eyeballing these adjustments. So I had to go back and unpick them, and serge it as close to the edge as I could. They’re still an incy bit tight, and a bit messy as a result of the unpicking.

But they get a lot of wear anyway.

I also made a few pairs of shorts from the same pattern, just cutting it shorter on the leg.

I’ve worn these as sleep shorts but they are mostly under-shorts. I pretty much always wear leggings or bike shorts to guard against chub rub, but that gets a bit hot in 40 degree weather. I had something like three metres of lawn that I’d originally bought to make a self-lined circle skirt, but then decided it was too wrinkly, so I whipped that up into shorts. One has a jersey-covered elastic waistbands and the rest have just elastic. Plain hem, nothing fancy, but they do get worn a lot and I probably need to make some more (and some more bike shorts. They protect my thighs but it’s a sacrificial job, unfortunately. I also have a whole pile of leggins that need inseams patched).

I just thought this was appropriate. Whoops need to fix that tear.

Blank Canvas Tee

I also made the top in the last couple of photos. It’s a Blank Canvas tee from some nice thick jersey from Spotters (again. It’s basically my only fabric source). It’s a nice fabric but unfortunately they only had really insipid colours. I bought a whole bunch in that blue and a plumy purple that wasn’t bad but also isn’t really my colour, at the end of the season for cheap. (Let’s hope they have it again this winter because it is nicely thick with good recovery and I will stock. Up. I did find some in my usual teal and some in red, lurking in my stash. Might do something with that this craft camp?)

I like this tee but I think the pattern is not for me. I did make a size too big, really – the size 45 which is my full bust but I should have made the 40 for my upper bust. NEGATIVE ease for knits, gotta remember that. I like them to be tight enough that you can actually see my shape, which is very in-and-out, so negative ease is necessary for that. But also I just think that large bust + forward sloping shoulders = maybe not kimono tees? And I didn’t adjust the neckline so it’s really high. I wear this tee as a sleep/lounging around tee all the time, though, so it’s certainly a win. I didn’t bother hemming it but I might need to go back and do that cos it rolls up.

I made another Blank Canvas the other day out of a thinner knit (NOT from Spotters this time! From a fabric shop in Melbourne so I think it probably was a remnant from The Fabric Store) and I have the same problem. I was a bit more careful in the construction of this but the fit is just… off.

It doesn’t look too bad in this photo, but you can see the drag lines from the neck, and the whole centre front is just too big. When my shoulders aren’t up like they are when I’m taking mirror-selfies, it’s super wrinkly and baggy. I tried adjusting it by whipping it in a bit at the sides and the shoulder seams and it’s better, but really what it needs is a dart or two at the neck. I wore it to work today and just felt uncomfortable all day. It’s not awful, but I think it is too irritating to fix, so it unless I want to cut it into another pattern (I have some of the jersey left over, too) it will be a day off shirt, which is a pity.

Pavlova Skirt

The skirt in the above photo is actually a pavlova skirt. I whipped up a whole bunch over the holidays because how easy are circle skirts? Very, is how. And easy to wear, too, especially since I always wear leggings or shorts, so worrying about them blowing up is not really an issue.

The first one I made of these was a jersey and tulle one at a craft camp, which I forgot I would have to add elastic to the waistband, so it came home unfinished and sat in my ‘to finish’ pile for months until I finally took about ten minutes to finish it off.

I realise this is not a great photo and basically you can’t see anything but… oh well. This is me wearing said tulle skirt for a work thing for Melbourne Cup Day, which explains the hat. I had initially put two layers of tulle on but it was too floofy so I took one off. It’s still reasonably floofy. I’ve worn it to work (as promised, Eleanor!) a couple times but usually only when there’s something on, like Melbourne Cup. I also wore it to just about every event over Christmas/New Year, so it’s been a useful make.

But after wearing it for the rounds in the holidays I was thinking about how comfortable it was, except for that I have to be careful not to get the tulle snagged, so I made another one in Jersey. (Guess where from? Bought for the purpose.)

Please excuse the dead-face in all these photos. I can’t do the timer and make faces that aren’t terrifying, at the same time. Also I took these on a heatwave day, which is why I look exhausted.

Same waistband deal as the pants above. I just measure my waist with elastic, and join it in the round. Then I cut some jersey the same length, but just over twice as wide, and join that. Then I fold the jersey over the elastic, and stretch and pin them to the waist. Then I serge both of them together to the waist, usually just catching the elastic with the serging, not chopping any off. I really like this waistband, it’s easy to do, comfortable to wear and I think it looks nice. I just did a rolled hem on this with my overlocker.

This skirt gets a heck of a lot of wear, so I made the black jersey one that started this list. Then I branched out and made some woven ones. With zips and everything!

This one is a teeny gingham check which obviously doesn’t photograph well, in some poly-heavy cotton blend from YouKnowWhere. The one below is from a chintz from the same. Both bought for the purpose. But with a folded-over bias strip waistband from self fabric, and a rolled hem on the overlocker with appropriate colour fabric. For both, I cut the front on the fold but the backs as separate, so I could save fabric and also put a zipper in.

I think this probably hits about an inch two low, and I should go back and rehem it to be right at my knee.

There is a problem with these, though. The problem is that I have a double-belly, with a dent where my waistband goes, as well as having a swayback. Like so:

I am not holding my nose for any reason. It’s just kinda hard to keep your hands out of the way without looking daft. I am not a model the camera just went off by itself [[[pop culture references]]]

There’s an equal bump below the waistline. So what this means is that the skirts sit comfortably in that dent, but when I sit down obviously my belly gets bigger (because physics), so that becomes uncomfortable. So then I shift the waistband to sit below my waistline, which means that it is way WAY longer at the front, due to sitting much lower in real terms and also having fewer hills to travel over, while the back has to drape over my butt, which I stick out because of my swayback, WHICH also makes my stomach stick out more (and I mean, my butt’s not insignificant by itself).

You can sort of see the difference here. It’d be better if I wasn’t swishing the skirt (with my hand in the pockets! I put pockets in. But they are a bit low. Oh, well, I really only use them to stick my hands in, because anything heavy in them drags the skirt down). The back of the skirt is hitting the back of my knee but the front is a good couple of inches lower.

I’m not really sure what to do about this. It’s not as pronounced in the jersey skirts, which have elastic waistbands, since they can comfortably stay at my waist whether sitting or standing. It is still a bit noticeable with the black one, because due to fabric length I had to make it a bit shorter, and it is just short enough that the front-back hill difference is noticeable, but it’s not too bad. But wit the woven ones I’m just always adjusting it. They feel too big but I can’t take them in because they will be too constricting.

Actually the problem of ‘where the flip is my waist anyway?’ raised its head with these. I’m not sure where the narrowest part is, since every part has in on one side and out on the other. So where my belly is biggest, my swayback is the most hollow, for example, and where the line is through my belly, my butt sticks out at the back. You can see what I mean in the second-to-last photo, where the waistband is at an angle because it’s trying to find the narrowest part, which is actually on a diagonal. But if I have it over a wider part it feels uncomfortable and weird – like if it sits on top of my belly it shifts too much.

WAIST??? Where are you, waist?

WAIST??? Where are you, waist?

So I measured wherever I thought, but then when I cut out the skirts they were WAAAAY too big. Like, five inches too big. I don’t even know. Maybe I’ll have to put elastic waistbands on them or something, but I’m not even sure how I’d do that since they’d still need the zip, I think. In the meantime, I wear the gingham one a fair bit but the red one is just too not-right. Still can’t work out what that difference is, either. I can wear the gingham one in my belly-groove (?? Whatever, making this up as I go) but the red one has to sit over the top of my belly and I don’t like how that feels.

Phew! That was long. I’ll leave the next lot for another time.

 

Last year felt like it went so fast, but when I think back to this time last year it feels so far away. So since I didn’t blog things as they happened,  I thought I’d  have a little ‘what I did last year’ post, to remind myself that I actually did things.

I joined a gym and went to it a bunch. Frankly, it’s a pain in the arse and I resent it, but I was just not getting enough activity through incidental things. My area isn’t nice to walk in and it’s too far from work to bike, and I felt cranky and creaky and tired. The gym has helped, although I would still prefer to have a life where I didn’t just sit in front of a computer all the time, could ride or walk places, and didn’t have to go out of my way to ‘do exercise’ all the time. Maybe one day, but for now the gym is good.

I’ve also done other things about bodies and energy. At the start of the year I found a GP. 2012 was the year of teeth (a new dentist, a bunch of fillings and crowns and my wisdom teeth out, hoo boy I wish I could have afforded a dentist earlier) and 2013 was the year of… the rest? I haven’t had a regular GP since I lived with my parents, and it took a few tries but I found someone really lovely. I got a bunch of checkup tests and found that my vitamin D was WAY low, which didn’t surprise me much because I’ve had an increasingly hard time the last few winters with Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I had another round of SAD over winter, despite massive amounts of supplements, but my levels are now finally above the suggested minimum.

I also worked out that I am sensitive to gluten… and maybe other things. I got tested and I’m not caeliac, thank goodness. But to take the test you have to eat a bunch of gluten for 6 weeks and it was a total nightmare. I’d been eating mostly gluten-free before that, trying to figure out what was going on, and eating it again confirmed that it is an issue for me. It makes me feel tired and sluggish and bloated and, worst of all, really thickheaded. Zero out of ten, would not recommend. Not eating gluten hasn’t been as difficult as I would have thought, especially since it makes me feel so awful that I don’t really have much desire to eat it. I do have the odd craving for something specific, which generally I satisfy if I really want it, because it seems like I can eat a small amount without the consequences being too dire. This year I really should get a couple more tests and maybe find myself an endocrinologist or something so I can work out what the actual issue is. One of my cousins appears to have the same or similar issues, and is going through that process now, so I’m going to pick her brains about it. But whether I get to that in the short term or long term, I feel much better than I had for a while.

I considered going on psych meds a couple of times and ended up waiting and seeing, which turned out fine, especially after – here’s another thing I did – I went part time. But it was really nice to have a GP who I can talk these things over with, who has my back and who listens to and trusts me. I feel like that shouldn’t be a thing to feel so grateful about – surely that should be the norm? But it isn’t, so I am grateful. I also started seeing a psychologist, which also took a couple of tries to get the right person, but it’s been very helpful in dealing with my mother. Although I did just find out that my psych is moving states so I will have to find a new person. I’m tempted to not bother because I only found out from ringing up to cancel an appointment because I don’t need it right now and it feels like a waste of time and money. But I really should, to have a backup person in case I need that.

Here’s another thing I did – I didn’t talk to my mother at all for a good six months. It was lovely. I’ve since had dinner with her a couple of times and it has been slightly tense but mostly fine. The power has shifted a bit, I think – and she’s on her best behaviour. We’ll see how long that lasts. Ideally I’d rather not cut her totally out of my life but I’m still not sure exactly why I wouldn’t. But whatever happens I feel like I’m actually making decisions thoughtfully and on purpose, not just reacting, which is a big deal.

As I said before, I went part time from the start of the financial year. I now work 4 days a week and it is glorious. My bank balance took a hit but given that I went down a tax bracket and have stopped having to do things like buy lunch all the time because I’m exhausted, I’ve barely noticed. It’s so lovely to have time to actually DO things. Last winter was pretty long and dark, and a big part of that is that I felt like I never had time or brain space to DO anything, so my whole life was just ‘get up, go to work, come home, do dishes, repeat’. And then I would feel guilty about that because plenty of people have more work and more dishes and less time but hey, that was how I felt. (I’ve also struggled with the classic stuff of thinking I was being lazy when I was really exhausted, which leads to its own demotivating cycle. Still working on that. So much social conditioning to be ‘productive’ all the time, which is very undermining really). Sorting out body stuff has helped – when I have the time I actually have the energy to do things. But actually making more time is an important part of that.

I’ve dealt with relationship stress. S has had a stressful year, with his eldest going through year 12 and a bunch of the regular dramas as well as some extra special ones. Combine that with him living an hour and a half drive away, being a single parent and working in a school where he is stressed out and exposed to all the most lovely germs of the year so that every time I saw him in the winter months he was exhausted and/or sick… well, it put stress on the relationship, as well as accentuating my feeling that I never DID anything. There were a couple of times we almost broke up, where we had weeks 0f very stressful discussion trying to make things better – the problem being that none of the issues were about him or me, they were all external. Hard to fix them when they are out of your power! We weathered family issues and renegotiated present and future arrangements. But we did weather them. Who knows what the future holds but we spent a bunch of quality time together over the holidays and we’ve both been working on balancing our lives to have time and attention for each other and for now it feels like we are in a really nice place.I’m hoping to hold onto that for at least a while after we are both back at work.

Our gift to each other for Christmas was zoo memberships, and we’ve gone a bunch of times as well as going to the museum, and exhibitions, and generally doing things.

The South Australian Museum has some excellent megafauna:

Just your average giant wombat, thylacine and terrifying cassowary ancestor.

Not to mention excellent opalised fossils:

Opalised shellfish

Opalised belemnites horns aka unicorn horns.

A whole opalised plesiosaur.

Also did you know that meerkats are hilarious

And quokkas are adorable

And some of them are very friendly.

This totally made my year. I can’t stop talking about it. SO FLUFFY.

I formed and strengthened friendships. Mostly, tbh, with the aid of the internet. Mid 2012 I joined an online forum made up of women who had formed friendships on a particular website, ostensibly to talk about fashion. We DO talk about fashion but I’d say more than 50% of the conversation is about feminism. And sex. Feminist sex. Those ladies have become more and more important to me, have been an incredible support network and a central part of my life. They send me cards and gifts and food and give me good advice and sympathy when I need it the most. <3 u, HFC. Also they have made me lift my selfie game like woah. I never took so many photos of myself – and it’s been very helpful for both my self esteem and my sense of personal style. It’s interesting to look back at photos of outfits I thought worked well but are just not doing it for me in retrospect, and vica versa. I feel a lot more well presented when I go out in the world, these days.

I look tired in a lot of them.

I also formed stronger bonds with my sister, one of my cousins, and some irl friends through our tumblrs. What a delight that has been. Because of tumblr, I started rewatching Star Trek ToS with my cousin. I’d seen most of it before and quite enjoyed it but HOLY WOAH I AM NOW OBSESSED. So that’s pretty great.

Part of my solstice gift from S. It will surprise none of you to learn that Spock is my favourite character.

I made myself a (gluten free) star trek cake. Then I neglected to get a photo of it finished. It was blue with a science symbol on it, and was delicious.

And of course, there were craft camps. It continues to be such a joy to know all of you, and to meet you, whether online or in person.

Here’s to more DOING in 2014, more friendships, more good things.

And more blogging (maybe?).

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