Friday, February 27, 2015

Projects and classes and other goings-on

How is it nearly the end of February? The weeks are whizzing by and news that I have a project in Australian Homespun Magazine's February edition is starting to sound a bit late....  But here you have it.  It's a Toddler Trilby - made to fit a headsize of 50-53cm.
 
 
I made this one in pinwale corduroy, but it would work equally well in denim or any décor weight cotton and would also work in wool flannel. 
 
It's a bit like my Fedora pattern (remarkably like it, if I'm completely honest), but with a shallower crown, wider top and an obvious headsize difference.
 
The holidays passed and we all went back to work and school. 
 
On the way to my first day back at work (with my bike panniers and basket completely loaded with books, fabric and resources) this is what happened.... 
 
 
I tried not to think of bad omens (and then I started looking for a tram).
 
No bad omen.  All that preparation I'd done for teaching the new (to me) theory subjects didn't go to waste.  So far, all is going well.  I've realised how much of this stuff I haven't forgotten and how much of it has become habit and intuition over the years. 



Being a complete textiles nerd helps, too. (For starters, all these books just happen to be from my own personal bookshelf.  There is no end of resources to share with my students).
 
I have also begun teaching classes on weekends in various places.  A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of teaching in Kimono House's new space.  And when I say "space", I mean it - it really is spacious and light and wonderful.
 
I always love working with Kimono House.  Not only am I surrounded by drool-worthy fabrics and Japanese design, but I get to work in the Nicholas Building.  I love coming in to work through this entrance! 

 
If you haven't visited Kimono House or the Nicholas Building, I think you should put it on your "Things to do in Melbourne" list. Another of my favourite shops in the city is on the same floor - the completely lush L'Uccello.
 
Another reason that I love teaching in Kimono House is that I get to meet up with lovely people I have taught before, and see what they've been up to.  I was absolutely thrilled to see that one of the "beginners" I taught in the 3-day Masterclass last year had been working her way through my book.  She is now making quite advanced bags (like this well-worn-and-loved Seoul Handbag) and confidently modifying them with all the interchangeable techniques that she's learned. 
 
If you're interested in getting started with bag-making, or simply want a fun day where you can sew in an uninterrupted fashion, there's a "Bag in a Day" class scheduled for 13th June at Kimono House.  Watch this space for its listing, or simply contact the gals at Kimono House to book in.
 
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There have been many reasons to be cheerful lately, and lots of much-needed validation of all the work I've put in over the years. Chickens are coming home to roost, and they have been of the friendly and exciting variety.
 
Even on the day that began with that bicycle puncture, there was a little reminder that what I put out in the world, continues.
 

Having had a hectic first day at work, a public-transport-trip too many, a rushed and stress-filled car pick-up and school pick-up, and then the contemplation of driving back through peak-hour traffic to pick up the injured bike (that was tethered in a street where parking is a problem), we stopped in to the local pub to have an early dinner. 
 
Time out to regroup and recharge.   Ahhh..... 
 
And at the bar, a woman stood with a HAUL bag that was made from a pattern that I made back in 2003-4.  Things like that mean a lot some days.

Hopefully I'll be able to talk a bit more about those exciting developments soon.  But right now, I have to get back to work!
 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Year, New Class Schedule

 
Well, it appears that 2015 has begun!  Wholesale orders are being processed and classes are being scheduled.  If you've been thinking of doing a purse or garment sewing class, we have a few dates already in the calendar -
 
Kimono House (Melb city) - Framed Purses 7th Feb 2015
CAE (Melb city) - Fabulous Framed Purses 28th Feb 2015
Kimono House (Melb city) - A-Line Skirt 7th March 2015
CAE (Melb city) - Creating Pattern Free Garments 28th March 2015
 
 
This bag (above) was made in the class at Cotton Factory in Ballarat, by a lovely gal who was only just learning to her first sewing machine. 
  
If you listen to my girleen (overheard telling a friend on a sewing-playdate), you'll know,
"You should really listen to my Mum.  She knows a thing or two about sewing!"
 
(And I know I Facebooked and Instagrammed "She knows a lot about sewing" but the girleen corrected me - it was, in fact, "a thing or two".)
 
This is spoken by a girl who REFUSES any help with her own sewing, but she obviously absorbs her environment without any help.  When I picked her up from her father's house recently, she'd been designing costumes on the computer... including all the pattern pieces for each design.


 Keep an eye out for more classes as they are confirmed - here on Facebook and Twitter and on the YOU SEW GIRL website.
 
 And Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays

 It's that time of year again (hurrah!).
 
 
And so the tradition of the cardboard Christmas tree continues.... 
 
This year, the girleen broke away from standard flat-tree format and went all 3-D.  She also (making use of a feature in the recycled ballot box that we were using as base material) incorporated a secret door in the design....
 
We fashioned a secret shelf in the middle of the tree, making it a cupboard...
 
...in which to hide the handmade Christmas crackers (another emerging tradition of ours, it seems).
 
 
The last week of downtime makes all the madness of the previous few weeks seem like a million miles away, as it should. 
 
(Here's a bit of design college humour from the last few weeks at work.)
 
 
It has been a time of winding down, going to craft markets and kicking back with my girl and with friends. It's a time of al fresco dining and drinking and talking.
 
 
Sometimes, we've even managed an accidentally-colour-coordinated theme for the evening.
 
 
The garden is rewarding us with harvests of spuds and salads and vegetables. There have been apricots (and there is now a larder full of apricot jam).
 
 
My Christmas surprise this year was the arrival of a copy of The Better Bagmaker in French!

 
 
To celebrate both birthday and Christmas this year, I broke with tradition and bought some fun red shoes... because a girl sometimes needs to step outside the practicality of functional black sandals for summer.   

 

I wish you all a very happy holiday season, whatever you may be doing to celebrate or relax.  See you in 2015.
 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Seasonally Adjusted

 
 
To everything (turn, turn, turn...) there is a season.... keeps going through my head.  Yes, the times, they are a-changin'...for many of the people that I know, and also for me. 
 
(And I was obviously exposed to too much music from the 1960's at some point in my life).
 
My friend Bella is moving out of her beautiful bush retreat.
 
 
I spent a final farewell weekend with her there, packing boxes and listening to birdsong and the breeze....
 
We remembered many good times spent here with very dear friends, and soaked up all we could of the place.  We will carry it with us.
 
We sipped champagne and looked out at the trees.... and then we packed more boxes. The season has passed and it's time to move on, so we do what we have to do and look forward to what is next.
  
 
 
 In the last few months, a few doors have closed here.  There will be more to come.

 Still, there are new doors sitting ajar.... new paths to explore...
 

 
For now, I am working at living in the present.... taking it all as it comes... letting life surprise me and accepting the direction that things take. 
 
 
I am soaking up my girl and making good memories. I am teaching workshops, teaching my fashion students and keeping You Sew Girl products going out to lovely stockists.  I am swimming and have started going to yoga classes again.
 
 Life is finding its own sort of balance around that framework.
 

There has been a slow return of the sewjo that disappeared earlier this year...
 
A "birthday present" shirt for a bestest buddy, that was promised over a year ago, was finally sewn. (There had been another birthday between ...and no shirt... it was getting embarrassing.) 
  
 
The pattern for this shirt is the Negroni by Collette patterns, and it's a winner.   This fabric is a charcoal coloured chambray, and the shirt has darkest green buttons (just for fun). The bestie approves.
  
I have been a bit in love with my new overlocker (serger), which hadn't seen much action since I bought it in June.  It has been humming away lately.  It's easier to thread and is generally a lot less trouble than my industrial overlocker, and it does a ROLLED HEM with the flick of a switch.... I get a bit excited about that.

 
A book idea is swimming around and I am thinking of pattern-writing again too.  Ideas are beginning to come back. I am not pushing it... just waiting for the mojo to be back in full swing, as it will be.
 
...And a time to every purpose... (Oh, there's that song again...)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Promised Pattern-free Poncing

 
Throughout the year, I've made a few more pattern-free garments, and made mention of them here with the promise of photos.  Today's photos serve as an example of why (until now) I have not been inspired to ponce about in front of a camera in them. 
 
I no longer have a big open studio with white walls, floor-to-ceiling windows and loads of foam-core board lying about the place.... I can never get enough space and light.  It's all murkiness, distortion and movement... but I hope you get the picture.
 
 
This (oops, I should have arranged those drapes... perhaps pressed out the creases..?) toga-esque number was a toile (muslin) for an idea I had for a dress for my book launch.  It is made from something I found on a bargain table in GJ's (I may have paid $2 or $4 per metre for it).
 
I wore it to my book launch.
 
 
 
In order to get my legs in shot, I either have to shoot downward or upward... and then there's not enough light or it's out of focus.... so I move in closer.
 
Behold, a really bad angle on the neckline drapery....
 


There were better photos of the dress itself, but ...ahem... they showed that it is more see-through than I thought it was.  (I'm glad that when I've worn it out, it has been with a more appropriate slip!)
 
 Again... I hope you can squint, use your imagination and see that it looks ok in real life.

 
 
 
You may have seen this top before, so just focus on the skirt here... I draped it on the stand (dress form), rather than on my body, and originally put the tucked detail at the front. 
 
 
When I put it on my body, I realised that the stand was somewhat taller than I, and the shortening/widening effect did nothing for me.  I turned the skirt around and hey-presto... a modern asymmetrical bustle-ish effect. 
 
 
 


 
 With two more garments to photograph, the camera battery ran out and the spares were flat.  By the time they are charged, there will be little or no daylight left.

It occurred to me to write off  this afternoon's attempt at a photo shoot completely, but I'm not too sure when the next opportunity to ponce about will arise.  So here they are... sort of... the promised photos.

I'll be running Pattern-Free classes at Handmaker's Factory and CAE soon.  It's heaps of fun and you get to play with lots of new ideas. 

Oh, and please don't think that all the garments are made to suit pixie-size bodies - the idea is that you drape garments that fit and flatter your own body, and mine just happens to be too small to carry loose garments or too much fabric.  You can see lots of examples here of the fab things that suit other shapes.
 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Workshops and holidays

 
I'm on a two week break from my weekday teaching job and doing a bit of catching up with things.. like updating the Class/Workshop Schedule on the website. 


I've been teaching about the place.  We had a lovely day at Patch 'n Quilt in Gisborne, and we've scheduled a Zippers for Bags class there for 22nd November.  Contact Mary at Patch n Quilt for bookings.
 

There are still places on the Handmaker's Factory Masterclass next week.. This isn't one that I do very often, so if you're sort-of-thinking about this as something you might like to do, now is a very good time!

To take up the waiting list for this class, I've taken advantage of a rare free day to schedule a last-minute A-Line Skirt workshop at GJ's on the 27th September.  This will be a small group (being a late-scheduling and also being Grand Final day for the football season... which means that most of the waiting list can't make it that day!), so if you think you need lots of extra attention, this will be a good one to book in.
 
 

The other thing I've been doing lately, is taking a complete break from work for THREE  DAYS... I decided I needed a holiday, and I needed to get the garden ready for Spring and Summer... so I had a little gardening holiday at my house this last weekend.

 
I weeded, I dug, I shovelled and wheelbarrowed 2 cubic metres of freshly-delivered soil and compost.  I made new garden beds, cleared overgrown corners and revealed yet more vegetable-growing space... and I planted lots of potential harvests of fresh, organic food for the girleen and me (and for anyone who looks sideways at me during zucchini season). 


I am sore, scratched and bruised (and have a small patch of sunburn where I missed with the sunscreen), but feeling very pleased with my work.  I'm looking forward to the weather warming up more and all the planting, growing and harvesting that comes with it.


 I'll be back soon with more news of books and giveaways... stay tuned!







Monday, August 11, 2014

Taking Shape

 
 Despite masses of pumpkin vines all over the garden last summer, I only harvested 3 edible pumpkins.  This was my favourite.
 

 
Wedged beneath a fallen bough, it struggled on to maturity and formed a shape all of its own.  It was both delicious and a little bit poetic.   

 
As much as you can relate to a vegetable, I felt something for this one.  (A kindred spirit?)  I've been doing a fair bit of growing in unexpected ways lately, too.  Changing, being affected by change, working around things, working at things....
 
Some days I despair at being out of my comfort zone, off-kilter, tossed around on life's stormy seas (the pumpkin made me feel poetic, remember...?), and other days I delight in the new shapes and directions that I'm making and travelling, as I work my way through the tail-end of what has been a very transitional, transformational few years. I can see maturity at the end of it all... even if it's not quite the shape I imagined when I started.
 
And then I step into a fab new fabric store to teach a purse frame class, and everything is as it ought to be again.  Home.
 
I taught at Cotton Factory in Ballarat a few weeks ago.  What a lovely shop!!  They focus on classes and have an amazing schedule.  If you're within coo-ee of Ballarat, I'd recommend following them on every available social media stream, or simply popping in to see what's happening next.  I'll be teaching there again in November

These are the results of the purse frame class.
 
This weekend I'll be at Patch 'n Quilt in Gisborne, and there are classes coming up at Handmaker's Factory (Purse Frames, Customised Bags and Pattern-free Garments) and the CAE in Melbourne.  I'm looking forward to all of them.


I'm also working in my new job, and it's inspiring me in many ways.... including ideas for a new book, possible online classes or blog tutorials... although it's also keeping me so busy that there has been no time to flesh out any of those ideas.  Stay tuned.
 
In between, I've been doing a fair bit of this...
 
I hope that things are in good shape in your world.