Saturday, March 24, 2012

leopard pants, oh yeah

I've never worn animal prints; they're just not me. But when Andy's sister Sharon, who lives in Uganda, kindly sent me some leopard print in a sturdy natural fabric (I'm guessing linen/cotton blend) I began to rethink the animal print. I mean, if leopard fabric has a right to exist anywhere, it's in Africa.

And while I may not be game (game, geddit?) to wear the leopard myself, I'm certainly not beyond turning it into amusing pants to inflict upon my four-year-old son.

As soon as I began cutting, I felt I was onto something.
I'm feeling it
 And the leopard pants were born. I mean, they're kind of awful. But kind of awesome too, if I do say so myself.
hey, I reckon I can see a leopard face on the left (photo left) knee
I used my usual Japanese Pochee (2009 Vol 8) pants pattern. I underestimated how long this boy's legs are becoming, so had to lengthen with cuffs. But I'm quite happy with the detail they add.
 And I popped on a couple of back pockets. Jeans topstitching thread would have looked great but I was too lazy to walk around the corner and get some.
And after all that... would he wear them?

Clem hadn't been consulted at all on these, apart from reluctantly trying them on a couple of times during the construction. He didn't want to put these on. "They're cold," he said. He's been known to flatly reject some items of clothing. Please, not these.

Think think think... he likes the warmth of freshly ironed clothes. "What if I iron them and make them all warm?"

"Yes!"   (Phew.)

rock'n'roll baybeh

And he's worn them for a day-and-a-half without complaint so I'd say leopard pants get the Clement tick of approval. Leopard pants. Oh yeah.

- Jane x

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Well I finished up this excuse to crochet really useful blanket. It's yummy and springy and soft and warm. Wool is Freedom by Twilleys of Stamford, UK. Slight guilt for not using Australian wool but the choice of chunky yarns in 100% wool was not vast, and I was supporting my local yarn shop. I feel very lucky to be able to use the phrase 'local yarn shop'.

When I finished this I threw it at Andy and then he suggested I toss it on the floor to see what it looked like, since that's how it will be now for most of its existence.

My kids tend to all stand up from the couch and whatever they were snuggled under or sitting on ends up on the floor without a backwards glance. I'm forever nagging them to pick up blankets and cushions. Anyway, here it is on the floor before crumbs and hair and spilt tea and cat fur and so forth become part of its very fibres.

And a little neater. I guess the stretched out ends are what the mysterious thing known as 'blocking' might fix, but I think this has been sucked into the couch vortex already.

Just the thing to snuggle under with a morning cup of coffee.

Why is it my attempts at coffee froth art always end up looking... unappetising?

Jasper laughed and said "yes, it's very Andy Griffiths".

- Jane x

Saturday, March 17, 2012

on a roll

Sunshiny boy in a sunshiny t-shirt.
Danceability: check.
Label from Sublime Stitching.
Help, we practically have a teenager on our hands! He keeps saying no to a haircut, not that I really mind, but that hair is becoming huge.
On reflection, I may have preferred this t-shirt with plain sleeves. I just got carried away with how cool this Loch Ness Monster print (Shy Ness by ceanirminger) is. The all-over print has a slight pyjama-effect. But he's pretty happy.
In other compulsive crafting news, I've been toying with crochet.
 Chunky 10mm hook with chunky wool which is becoming a little blanket for snuggling under on the couch.
 Experimenting with two strands at once (because I'm impatient), making cotton washcloths.
Andy's brother Rob stayed with us for a couple of days when he came to see the show Andy directed. Rob's a fabulous photographer, just as a hobby but he's starting to sell a bit too. He let me have a play with a couple of his very nice camera lenses. The crochet photos above were taken with his 100mm macro lens. As was this more-detail-than-you-really-want chicken photo.
Heheh. Not sure what this chook is thinking but I have lens envy.

- Jane x

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spoonflower print fade (and why I don't mind it)

**edited to add Spoonflower's own response! see end**

I have mentioned how the Spoonflower organic cotton knit t-shirts I've made have faded over time, and I thought it might be useful to show what I mean.
Clem's caravan t-shirt on the left and Jasper's chemistry t-shirt on the right, with scraps of the original fabric (washed once before cutting). T-shirts straight off the line (excuse the wrinkles).

I made the t-shirts four months ago and they have been worn, washed and line-dried, I would guess, at least twenty times since then. Each has probably had a stain-removing soak or two as well.

Sure, it would be nice if the fabrics retained their original vibrancy. But, I also kind of like the faded look. The t-shirts are just a little less 'loud'. Let's face it, I don't choose the most subtle of prints. The colours fade nicely into the natural cream-coloured basecloth. And the fabric is still soft and lovely.

I suppose it probably has to do with the Spoonflower printing processes. To quote from their website:

"Spoonflower prints using eco-friendly, water-based pigment inks on natural fiber textiles."

I'm prepared to put up with some fade in fabric that has a lower environmental impact.

As Crinkled commented on my last post, "the fabric has faded more than I expected... but it certainly hasn't stopped me from buying more". Um, yeah, I second that!

I hope that's helpful to anyone reading who might have been wondering about the fading.

- Jane x

I emailed Spoonflower about the fading and had the following prompt reply and advice:
Thanks for writing in about your experience with our printed knit fabric. You are right to say that the knit fabric is prone to fading in the wash. We wish that everyone could be so easy going about the issue as you are, and appreciate your fair treatment of the matter in your blog. The pigment wash out that occurs with the knit results from the bond being weakened by the stretching that occurs when the fabric is washed and agitated. I feel that gentle hand washing would be the most advisable with the knit. This is not an issue with our other fabrics as these are all woven fabrics which do not have the stretch of the knit. I do encourage you to consider another of our fabrics (organic cotton sateen is excellent) as an alternative with better pigment retention.
I hope that this is helpful, but please let me know if you have any other questions.
Best regards,
Stephen Beck

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

long weekending

Hooray, I've found a piece of clothing I can sew for Andy that he will actually wear!

I ordered a few more prints on Spoonflower's lovely organic cotton knit. It took around five weeks to arrive by which time, opening the package felt like Christmas. Andy didn't choose any of these prints himself but is currently trawling the site visualising all his future options.
'Pronghorn Linen Aqua' by Holli Zollinger
 I asked the good Spoonflower folks if I could buy some of the unprinted basecloth and they obliged at a very reasonable $10 per yard. Mixed up with the prints as contrast sleeves, neckbands and perhaps t-shirt backs, it will make the prints go further.
'Germy Nation' by ceanirminger
 Mind you, I realised that long cream-coloured sleeves on Jasper would be seriously impractical. This print was particularly appropriate for him: mucky little germs everywhere. See that fingernail? We joke that when we go out places, he pretty much licks every surface. Not quite, but let's just call him tactile.
 We had a holiday Monday and headed up to the Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens for a picnic. Clem wanted to play hide and seek and told us that the 'seeker' should count to 28. When it came time for his turn he gave it a try. Then I heard a little cry of "sorry Mama but I can't count up that far" and I had to come out of hiding and help him.

 Yep, thanks for the lovely portrait opportunity.

The boys raced leaves named Bob, Terry, James and Alistair.
photo by Charlie
 Charlie had a play with the camera.
photo by Charlie

photo by Charlie
hmm, don't think those knee patches are quite where they should be anymore
Clem whinged loudly when he lost a special stick, and then when Andy took him back to find it and Jasper broke it, Clem cried some more. And so it goes.

When we came home, I worked on a Spoonflower top with Loch Ness monsters on it for Charlie. All t-shirts are being made with my tried & true Ottobre Best T-shirts pattern, with Andy's using the largest size (170cm) plus a wee bit of added width, guided by one of his existing RTW t-shirts.

Then I went to yoga and came back and drank sparkling red with Andy, which is probably not a traditional post-yoga beverage but worked for me.

More holiday Mondays, please.

- Jane x

Saturday, March 10, 2012

good stuff

Well, the giant show that Andy has been working on opened last night (and closes tonight) and the first review of it is excellent and shows a great understanding of the piece in all its complexity and weirdness. Hoo-flippin-ray because so many excellent people have worked their passionate guts out on this ... including myself holding the fort back here at home, I must add, ha!

In other Good Stuff news, imagine my surprise when in one day I received two emails from lovely bloggy friends saying they'd each tagged me for one of these blog award doo-dads.

This one came from Suellen of Sew Indigo, who has a great eye for vintage patterns and has fearlessly tackled projects from boat cushions to couture sewing courses.

And this one came from Mary at Biblioblog, who is indeed a versatile blogger with a love of reading and sewing and some delightfully thought-provoking posts.

Now, as Suellen noted, these awards can seem a bit like chain-letters or those emails you get where you have to pass it on to seventy of your best friends and something amazing will happen, and I've never been known to reliably follow through on any of those. (And none of my limbs has yet dropped off or anything.) The difference here - as Suellen also pointed out - is that somebody has taken the time to appreciate what you're doing in your slice of cyberspace, and that is indeed one of the lovely aspects of blogland.

So I am grateful to be appreciated, and I'm going to share the love in a small way of my own devising.

If you have a spare moment, may I introduce you to Harriet of Look What I Did Today. She is a mum of four and recently returned to blogging. I thought some people reading this might like to pop across and give her some encouragement to keep going. She does some fantastic sewing and keeps chickens and even lives in Adelaide too although we've never met in person... maybe one day :)

So Harriet, no pressure to do anything except, if you like, share seven things about yourself as per the Versatile Blogger rules, as I am going to do below.

1. I've worn contact lenses since I was 13. I kind of enjoy the soft focus ease-into-reality that being short-sighted gives me in the mornings, except I tend to not notice the mould around the bottom of the shower for rather too long.

2. I am not really a 'party person'.

3. I am the designated spider-catcher in our house and I'm fine with that.

4. I love reading chapter books aloud to my big boys and look forward to sharing many of the same books with Clem as he gets older.

5. I bite and pick at the skin around my fingernails when I'm anxious or thinking hard or sitting still for a long time, which is a yucky habit.

6. I love lots of different foods but I really dislike bitter almond flavour: marzipan, morello cherries, amaretto etc and I have a hard time understanding how anyone could tolerate it - surely some people must taste things differently?

7. I find cooking meals a chore and would gladly live on poached eggs and the like, but baking is another matter entirely. (Which is really just an excuse to post some yummy pics here.)

 We went blackberry picking at our usual spot along Brownhill Creek last weekend but the blackberries were past their best. We gathered enough, however, to put in an apple-and-blackberry pie just like last year's. Also, there were figs. Which called for fig and frangipane tart (recipe conveniently in the weekend paper).
I am lucky that when Andy is home, he happily takes care of the nutritionally-sound food provision around here. In fact he did the grocery shopping just now. Am I not one lucky girl?

- Jane x

PS I am also meant to be working on decluttering during the month of March, as invited by Faith who suggested we encourage each other on Project Simplify 2012. As yet March has been a bit frantic and I haven't got to any of this yet but it's waiting in the wings... really!

Sunday, March 4, 2012


I won't pretend that my kids don't play quite a lot of Wii (reserved in our house for the 'wii-kends') and watch their fair share of telly. But I do love it when they get outside and become absorbed in an activity. Even if it involves taking a ladder out onto the footpath. Erm, it's a small, quiet street!

They were starting to draw an enormous tongue that went right across the road and I did put an end to that for safety's sake. Cool idea though. Charlie and Jasper were drawing on the driveway when their friend Sam came over and the drawing just sort of expanded.

These power line poles the boys are decorating are known in Adelaide (and nowhere else, I think) as stobie poles.

We have vast amounts of chalk at our house because Andy worked on an event last year that was sponsored by Ikea, who donated boxes and boxes of the stuff. We've given some to childcare and kindy and neighbours and still have a drawer full at home. A nice thing to have an excess of.

I love it when cats, who think they're so dignified, unknowingly have something comical like spiderwebs or pink chalk on them. Sorry, Elodie.

- Jane x
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