Saturday, June 30, 2012

look what followed me home

Singer 319K. Did I need it? No.

Isn't it exactly like one I have? Yes.
Well yes and no... because this one has...
maybe-slightly-useful-once-in-a-blue-moon and anyway-isn't-it-pretty extension table...
original manuals in pristine condition; one for the machine and one for the motor...
separate straight-stitch-only and embroidery/darning throat plates...
- gasp - original twin needle (no longer available for this machine)...

Original accessory box (and that 'anti-corrosion paper' clearly works because those bobbins are all spotless)...

and complete set of 'Fashion Discs' for decorative stitches (the one missing in the box is on the machine).

It was all remarkably clean, the motor ran, the seller was very nice and really, how could I not bring it home for $50? Even if just to keep for spare parts for my original one.

Besides, cleaning these machines up, pulling them apart, oiling things and getting them running smoothly again is such good fun. And it was made easier by having one in great working order to refer to when things were a bit stuck.

I wasn't actively looking for a machine but my bloggy friend Harriet, who has been busy playing with Singer 99Ks, alerted me to it. So thank you for being such an enabler, Harriet!

After I cleaned it all up and plugged it into the power, something went 'pfft' and our safety switch turned all the power off in the house. Oops. But I determined that it was just where the power cord was worn as it entered the plug to the motor. I took the plug apart and made a careful diagram of how it went together, then bought some more cord and rewired the sucker.

And it worked and I felt ridiculously chuffed that I managed that.
I also unstuck the zigzag/decorative stitch mechanism and the stitch selector, which was resolutely unbudging, with a bit of oil and some delicate taps with heavy pliers wrapped in soft fabric.

And this dear machine is happily, solidly and smoothly chugging away once more.
I know I already showed a picture of Charlie sewing this but check out that tongue in concentration!

- Jane x

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

in our neck of the woods (have you ever seen woods with a neck?)

Bits and pieces going on around here.
Clem finally, at four-and-a-half, moved into a big bed. I actually made him this quilt cover for Christmas. The bed, which was Charlie's, was waiting on the verandah for ages. It was just so hard to get excited about spending money on a mattress, but worth it for an excited 'big' little boy.
Goldie, one of our chicks that we hatched last December, laid her first egg! In fact she's the only one of the chicks we have left. That's her at the front, below.
We tried to keep our 'Blue Roo', at the back there, but he crowed all day, every day. Even if it wasn't annoying the neighbours it was driving me insane. So he's gone to a lovely home in the hills with a new flock of girls to crow for. I'm so glad we didn't have to eat him.
We've been celebrating 'Miffy's Birthday' intermittently for over a week, but no-one's really complaining about extra cake.
We also humoured Clem's desire to make 'soup' which involved him peeling and cutting up carrot and apple, which I cooked in a bit of water and he said we should blend with the "whisker".

We all had to taste it then it quietly went to the chickens. Sorry, carrot and apple.

On a grey day I spent $7 on pretties at an op-shop, which I kinda didn't need but the next day one of the boys broke a favourite plate and I contentedly thought of these new additions.
There's been a bit of snot in the house (hooray for hankies!) but today, Charlie had a productive sick-day working on the quilt that I started for him about a year ago. How massive is his hair?
And don't cats just love a work in progress?
At the rate Charlie's going we should have a quilt to show off very soon!

- Jane x

Monday, June 25, 2012

merino dress

Here's a dress I made a few weeks ago. It's made from beautiful fine New Zealand merino wool knit.
(Do I ever take those boots off? Um yeah, when I go to bed.)
I was very pleased with this dress when I finished it and I've been really enjoying wearing it so I'm not sure why I'm feeling a little uninspired to write about it. Maybe because the thrill of having it newly finished has passed? Do you find that?
Anyhow, on with the details.
Fabric: was very reasonably priced, from this Etsy shop (as opposed to $45/m from the shop around the corner, which I really want to support, but...).
Pattern: began with the Sew U Home Stretch boatneck top, like my blue stripey one. Since the merino doesn't have a huge amount of stretch, I gave it a wee bit more room across the bust and shoulders by the incredibly un-technical move of slanting the pattern piece away from the fold of the fabric slightly at the top. I cut the neckline just a bit lower at the front. Then I added a drapey cowl-ish neck.

I measured the length of the neckline and cut a long rectangle the same length (small added seam allowance), sewed it into a circle, doubled it over and sewed it on.
I made the sleeves extra-long for winterish warmth. Edges left raw cos I can... let's call it a style thing.
Purple has to be the hardest colour to capture in photographs. This is really a very deep, dark purple, kind of like if you started with navy blue then purpled it up.
I wore the top part around for a day with a skirt on just to get the feel of it and see what to do about adding a skirt. I decided I liked the way it crumpled around my waist and that I wanted to maintain that in a dress.
To make the skirt I measured the bottom of the top and cut a six-panelled skirt that would match that width at its top. It's slightly a-line at each seam so there was no way it would end up too clingy. I just winged it really, making one pattern piece for the centre panel (front and back) and one pattern piece for the four side panels (front and back) but I did make a test version out of scrap to make sure it would work.
I sewed that to the top and then made a wide drawstring casing which covers the waist seam. Edges are raw here and on the bottom of the skirt. Made a tube of fabric for the drawstring.
And there you have it.
Cosy comfy purple dress!

- Jane x

Update - forgot to ask - does anyone have any ideas for adding a pocket to this? Or should I just keep stuffing a hanky up my sleeve?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I'm bringing hanky back

Finances are tight around here at the moment, but in the scheme of things it's in a very first-world way. So I'm finding joy and satisfaction in working more frugal ways into our life.
A lot of things I've been doing for quite a while, like using bicarb soda and apple cider vinegar to 'wash' and 'condition' my hair. There hasn't been a bottle of shampoo in our house for over a year, and then there's my homemade deodorant which I'm still happy with. I've used soapnuts for the laundry for a year or so too. And recently I have been using Amanda's recipe for dishwasher powder extender, which is working pretty well. I've also switched to alternative 'ladies' things' which has been such a liberation from having to peruse that part of the supermarket for overpriced solutions.

So, given all that freakiness I already do, wasn't it time for the humble hanky to come back into our lives?
I grew up with hankies and honestly can't remember when and how we all seemed to make the transition to (bleached virgin wood pulp) tissues. With five noses in the house the cost adds up and it's hardly environmentally friendly.
So I've made some hankies, and dug some out of my cupboard, and been given a bunch of sweet old ones by my Mum. And everyone seems quite happy to use them.
inexpert use of narrow hemming foot, but then double gauze was probably not the easiest way to learn
There are still tissues in the house, but they're being used more slowly and thoughtfully. If I amass a large enough hanky collection, perhaps we can do without them altogether.
And there's something rather charming about pulling 'Waltzing Matilda' out of your pocket to sneeze into.

Do you use hankies?
Does the idea of snotty hankies being washed in with your clothes creep you out?

- Jane x

Friday, June 15, 2012

this moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. (Inspired by Soule Mama)
(he's not all bad)

- Jane x

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

busy with this

Jasper wrote this word in the shower this morning. (Excuse the mould.) He wasn't actually referring to his younger brother but he could have been. Clem has been a bit monstrous lately.
It seems we've spoilt our littlest one, and we're paying the price for it now.
We have a combination of the four-year-old testosterone rush, a crazy nurtured sense of entitlement and a (probably genetic) pig-headed stubbornness (ahem).
Really? This one?
We honestly felt we should have a handle on this child-rearing thing by now, but here is further evidence that each child is a brand new challenge in himself.
Pushing boundaries. Defying requests. Asking questions then telling me why my answers are wrong. Negotiating every single thing. He is so verbal and will try to talk his way out of or into or around anything.

It's been quite depressing because I've been worrying about making the most of my time with him before he starts school, but in recent weeks our times together have deteriorated into massive battles of one sort or another.
I tell you he's nearly broken me but the four year old is not going to win!
Well actually, the plan is we all win by helping him become a more agreeable person.

I borrowed a book from kindy. Sounded like just the ticket:
It's great. I may have to buy my own copy.
Some of the important ideas I have found in here:

  • Choose consequences carefully, make sure you're comfortable in following through on them and then do so, unflinchingly. (Therefore I won't threaten to take his Miffy toy away for a week again because, simply, I can't bear his constant pain and begging that long.)
  • 'Assisted compliance' can work as well or better than a stand-off over requests, e.g. ask him to get dressed once, then if he won't, say "I see you need my help" and start dressing him.
  • 'Positive reinforcement' of desirable actions... this is complex and full of traps so requires careful reading and thought.

Anyhow, I've had the book less than a week and I can see some of the ideas working already. He's (admirably? hideously?) persistent though so I realise there will be no overnight transformation.

Oh, I've also found that giving him 'constructive' jobs is helping, and I probably should have picked up on this earlier.

I'd be interested to know if anyone reading has any great strategies for stubborn little boys.

I have been doing a little sewing and I adopted another old sewing machine (thanks for the tip Harriet!), and have my good camera back now, so will be back soon with reports on those happier things!

- Jane x
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