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Thursday, 3 January 2013

Sewing with my Sisters and other holiday happenings


We have had a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

On Christmas Eve I attended the little church down the road, and it was so nice I went twice! The first service was for the kids so I took my daughter along. The funniest moment was when the pastor said "Now we'll sing hymn number 4" and halfway through the first verse of "O come all ye faithful" we realised that not everyone had the same hymn sheet, so some of us were singing a different song! 
The kids really enjoyed icing bikkies and applying lollies for decoration. We sang "Silent Night" in the dark with candles and when the song was over we blew the candles out and sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. As a finale, we sang a carol made up the week before, with wonderfully familiar imagery in the lyrics relating to the Burra valley. I will post a link to it oneday....

The second service at 9.30pm was more sophisticated, but still just as enjoyable, and this time my parents came along for the ride.

For those who don't know, a pavlova is an Aussie dessert, it's a meringue (or in this case two) topped with cream and fresh fruit - always passionfruit on the top.
Christmas Day was made stress free by dint of having it at Mum and Dad's instead of at my place. The in-laws came, so there were ten of us grown ups and one child, and we had a lovely lunch including nut loaf and my pavlova. At my sister in law's request we played a jovial game of Christmas charades, and cooperated in a photo hunt. I did not have to do any washing up - A Christmas miracle!?

My gift from Mum - big chunky "family heirloom" pinking shears (shown with my normal scissors  for scale) they were soon to get a work out.

A couple of days after Christmas my sister in law came around to do some sewing. She had bought some beautiful screen printed linen from a shop called cloth.com, and her objective was to create some cushions for her couch. I was up for the challenge and together we completed all sorts of complex mathematical equations trying to get four cushions out of eight fat quarters. This should have been easy, but the FQ's varied in size so we had to do some piecing to get them to fit the cushion inserts. Lucy was very brave and overlocked all the seams without sewing over her fingers, and she invented great names for the various fabrics so we could tell them apart - pooh sticks, french fries, waterhole and puddles. I wonder if you can tell which is which?
I didn't do too bad a job getting the zippers in, and she was very happy with the completed cushions. It was so much fun to have someone to sew with.

On New Years Eve we had a complete blackout, in fact 1200 homes in our area were without power. At the time of the blackout I was sewing on a button, I was glad I did not need the sewing machine any more that day and since it was early evening we had time to organise the candles.
It was lovely eating toasted sandwiches by candlelight and going to bed in the dark. When we looked out the windows at the valley surrounding our house not a single light could be seen. So peaceful.

Yesterday my husband went back to work and so the Pickle and I hit the shops - op shops that is, and we also visited Spotlight to pick up some patterns. I bought a pattern to make the Pickle a dress, but we could not find suitable fabric. For some reason she insists the fabric needs to be the same as the eyelet cotton used for the dress in the pattern envelope. We found the right fabric, but it was a colour she described as "puke", so the search continues.
Picture from http://sewing.patternreview.com/

Today was another lovely day - my sister Mary came for a visit. She had ordered a 1952 dress pattern from an Etsy shop on the proviso that I sewed it for her. Simplicity 3875 is a pretty simple sunfrock with wide straps, bust darts and a crazy scalloped edging. 
photo from http://www.etsy.com/shop/SewNSoVintage

Originally she wanted the one with the giant pockets, (view 2)  but my ric-rac supply was sadly depleted so we opted instead for view 1, with scallops cut from an old white sheet. That turned out to be a reckless plan!

We started by tracing off the bodice, so that we could make adjustments to the fit if need be. Mary figured the pattern would be too small. We made a mock up using an old sheet, and surprise, surprise, it fit perfectly, without any alterations!

The next step was to cut out the dress. She'd chosen navy poplin with tiny white dots. It was a great choice, but it would have looked even better with red ric-rac or piping. 

Here it is in the process of being cut out. The seller who Mary purchased it from included a lovely handwritten note and a few vintage buttons with the pattern, how sweet!
If you are reading this, Brin from http://www.etsy.com/shop/KooterandFlos, thanks ever so much! Go check her shop out, she still has lovely patterns and other vintage ephemera, great for vintage lovers and sewists.

When the bodice was tried on we had another problem to solve - it was rather tight. Mary could have worn it with a corset, or perhaps without any breathing - but neither of these is a good option for swing dancing. I figure what had happened was the old sheet we used for the toile had a bit more give in it than the real fabric.

We unpicked the side seams and resewed with a very scant seam allowance, and when I sewed in the zipper I had to make it one of those trendy "exposed" zips rather than the demure, concealed 50s version. We both agreed it did look tacky, and certainly wouldn't wash in 1952 but it was a good solution to the problem and one that noone would notice because they would be too busy looking at the scallops.

Those scallops! Oh my! It was my first try at sewing something so preposterous. Once I had constructed the scallops for the bodice I made an executive decision not to sew the other couple of metres of scallops to go on the skirt. Bodice scallops were quite enough.
They were really fiddly and nerve wracking to cut out, sew, clip and turn. But Mary was very impressed with how they turned out.

When she tried the dress on with the new "barely there" seam allowance we both agreed it looked fabulous. In the end I did not like the poplin all that much, it was a bit too stiff, but it should soften up once the sizing wears off. She tried it on for the photos and look, she already has matching navy sandals! Sadly she had not done her hair yet today so was reluctant to appear head-to-toe in the pics. Hopefully can get some more styled photos at a later date. 

Mum has been elected to hem it for us, since she is good at that sort of thing. But it was almost all finished in just one day, with a break for tacos for lunch. Mary even made some bloomers from a Colette pattern as well!

I will most likely make her another dress with this pattern, perhaps in a pretty floral, and I do hope that she'll come round again to do the overlocking, ironing, glass of water fetching and to keep me company in the sewing room.

While Mary was here, I got a parcel in the mail, with no return address. Hmm. Mary opened it for me and the only thing it contained was a toy rat. No note. Hmm. I was wracking my brains (which believe me were already quite well wracked after all those scallops).
I had to think about that rat for about an hour until it dawned on me - my friend Cindy must have sent it to me, since I had commented on a facebook photo of a rat in the lost property at work! Funny girl!

                              ☂ ☂ ☂ ☂ ☂ ☂ ☂ ☂

In shop news: here's that dress I was making on New Year's Eve when the power went out. I am making a line of these "shabby chic" little numbers in sizes 3 - 14, really in a shameless attempt to use up my vintage sheet and doily stash so that I can have an excuse to go buy some more! You can find my first one in my shop her

Thanks for reading!


  1. I LOVE reading your blogs! Thanks Hannah, love Simone

  2. I think this is the first blog of yours I have read. (I may have read one a long time ago). I enjoyed the read.

  3. How fun to sew with sisters and you made some lovely projects!

  4. Sounds like a great vacation so far!

  5. So many pretty things. Love the pattern. Love the sleeves on that cute dress. Love the pillows. I'm going to copy the sleeves off that dress. Great idea.

  6. Love this whole post from start to finish...love the Christmas and New Year's memories, the pillows and the dresses! I always have wanted to know....what is it like to have Christmas and New Years in the summer??!! I guess it is all in what you are used to!

  7. I love the dress! It's such a beautiful style and those scallops! I think details like that really make a garment special.