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Archive for February, 2012

Toms!

Oh hello late-summer, suddenly you are upon us. Last week I visited my old house to find 5lbs of tomatoes waiting for me. The week before I’d picked only 15oz (I’m using imperial because that’s my bench-top scales) The tomatoes in my own garden are still mostly green, but that’s good really – not too many all at once.

Now, from memory I’ve planted Moneymaker, Sweet 100, Black Cherry and Gold Cherry. The Black Cherry don’t look much but they are my favourite (though not everyone’s favourite, Kath said they were bland). They’re a little bit smoky perhaps. There’s something going on in there. I think they’d be nice in chipotle sauce, if my chillies ever ripen. I am tempted to bring them inside again, now that the bees have had their fun.

For now I am cooking up the last of the tomatoes from last week’s pick-a-thon to freeze or bottle for later. Summer in a jar! It’s so delicious it doesn’t need anything in it other than a bit of salt and pepper. Depending on what’s in the old and new gardens this week, I might look into making some ratatouille to bottle. Those zucchini are really going for it. But lest you think it’s all healthy harvests around here, let me enlighten you:

Dusting the cake.

My first jam-making endeavour!

And damson gin! Three bottles this time because one was not enough last year. And some jam too.

Dammit, now I’m hungry again…

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This one is for Charlotte

Because Charlotte sent me that t-shirt in the post a year ago and I didn’t wear it. And she got a little bit cross! But you see Charlotte, I’m not very good at wearing pale blue things… until the perfect skirt comes hopping out of the Salvation Army with me…

Oh, did I happen to mention that it is reversible? And that it twirls? The design of it makes me a little giddy – there it is, all navy blue and respectable, but with flashes of bright red. But on the inside the red is on top, with the darker colours inside the pleats. Somebody dreamed this all up before the wool was woven! Oh my, it is all my colours and all my styles. It goes with pretty much everything I own… but especially this top Charlotte gave me. Thank you my dear schlott! xx

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Sewing Corner!

Since we moved, I no longer have a designated sewing room. But I’m not complaining because I have a whole corner to myself in our sleep-out! It has white walls (not ghastly wallpaper) but a lot of dead ants falling out of the rafters. And I have an imperative to keep it tidy as Clementine will be staying each Wednesday night to look after Rata on Thursdays. Where would I be without “Auntine”?

It has also been nice to put posters up again – I’ve a rather large collection of pictures and the last few times we’ve moved house Louis has motioned that posters on walls look “student flat-y” and we’re just going to put up proper framed things. We don’t actually have that many framed things so our last house looked woefully empty on the wall front. So in this house I have rebelled and things look a lot more lived in.

That little newspaper clipping of the photo that stands as my blog banner was not my photo in the paper, but I did happen to take the same picture of the bird nesting in the orange light outside the Embassy Theatre as the newspaper photographer. Except that I think he had the good sense to borrow a chair from Deluxe.

My lovely cupboard continues its state of flux. It’s a bit fuller as I didn’t put shelves up in my new sewing room as I didn’t want to have to brush dead things off fabric all the time. Did I also mention that flies and bees are constantly getting stuck in there too? It’s a charming room, really.

I just need to hem this skirt – I’ve lined it with that lovely flower fabric and I would love to know what it is – it feels so nice inside! The pockets are lined with deer fabric and the waistband is polka dot. It could be a mess but I like to think it isn’t…

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On Saturday I dusted off a dress I don’t wear much for work – because I had nothing else clean enough or ironed enough to wear to work and it was 6am. Fortunately, even if I’ve ironed the collar of this dress it still sticks up funny, so I wasn’t too worried about that… I felt so fabulous in it all day (and it was a full day, with a breakfast date before work and a lady date drinking and gossiping session after) that I dusted off the pattern on Sunday and got to work on the first item on my ‘list’, my “Minter Dress”.

No, wait. I started working on the dress on Friday. Oops. Sometimes my brain muddles at the order of things, like ‘did I forget to turn off the stereo at work on Thursday or on Saturday?’ and ‘do I put my underpants on underneath my tights or over them?’

It’s a wonder I ever get to work at all…

The dress above, the oft-worn denim dress and the new mint dress all came from the same pattern, one I drafted last year from an op-shopped pinafore while mourning the loss of my design school bodice pattern. Funny story – I went to a party two weeks ago and the lady I’d given the original pinafore to was there, wearing it. With a brown cardigan. And I looked down and here I was wearing my denim dress. With a brown cardigan. Fortunately Aaron and Louis were both wearing their green swandri jackets so I wasn’t the only person at the party with a stunt double.

I’m calling it my “Minter Dress” because it’s a wool dress and the fabric is mint with yellow, blue and red flecks in the weave. So mint + winter = “Minter” = itchy and needs lining. I had the good sense to face the neckline with some cotton, but then I noticed it was scratchy everywhere else too. Never mind, Bertie has some lining fabric for me, and then it’ll save me rummaging around on dark winter mornings for a petticoat.

But before I do that, I’m going to show you the scallops I made for the Minter Dress. As you can see I made it up as I went along and sewing purists will no doubt be up in arms over my (lack of) technique.

I followed Tilly’s excellent pointers on creating scallops, as well as my instinct that whatever I did, it wouldn’t look too wonky because it was a whole lot of curves to confuse those sharp-eyed hem examiners of the Western world. I traced a line around where I wanted the hem to fall to, then took the lid of my new packet of pins and drew some curves.

I sewed them, clipped them…

And then ironed them quite a lot. Tilly’s pointers were very helpful in this regard. First I poked the iron in there and ironed the seams while still inside out. Then I turned them and pushed the iron in again. Once that was done I pressed them, pinned them and then (purists, look away) topstitched them because I could see they were never going to hold their shape – the wool was too sproing-y. Plus I have alredy pointed out that I am not afraid of topstitching things. Next time I will know not to sew the scallops so darned high – there are a few holes in the upper reaches where the fabric ripped as I pressed it. But otherwise I’d say it’s a fairly solid first attempt at a scalloped hem. Only now do I let myself count how many rounds – 21 – cripes! ┬áIt made me realise that the real reason people gasp internally when you mention scallops is not the difficulty of the task (no harder than a Peter Pan collar, really) it’s the endless repetition… Facebook tells me it only took three hours from my “see you in sixteen hours” glib remark pre-hem to my photo of completion. Sewing machine updates, slow news day.

As you can see, the dress still needs a mighty good press before I line it and document it fully.

Other improvised features of the dress were put in place to hide a multitude of sins, like the little button tie to disguise where the collar doesn’t meet up and a dart was hastily inserted to shorten the neckline. Shall I just show the top of the dress too? Oh, go on…

A nicely pressed, high-res photograph, with matching belt and bakelite buckle, decent background and nice lighting to come. Promise.

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