Shapes

For fun this week I've decided to join in You Capture, run by the fabulous I Should Be Folding Laundry (and is that the best blog name ever? Methinks so!). This weeks theme is Shapes. As soon as I saw it, my mind's eye flashed up these:

I am such a sucker for 50's costume jewellery brooches. I am not safe trolling through the brooch listings on eBay if there is a credit card anywhere in my immediate vicinity. I can only attest to my supreme amounts of will power that my collection is no bigger than what is shown above. That and having a mortgage. Bwahahah!

There's just something so amazing about the shapes. I am a particular fan of the flowers and sunbursts - they are the ones I tend to be drawn to the most. But my absolute favourite would have to be the black floral cluster. This was given to me by my aunty on the day on my Nana's funeral. Just before the service began my aunt quickly went around to each of the female grandchildren and presented us with a brooch each. I cannot even begin to describe how glad I was to have something tangible to remember my Nana by.

You'd have liked my Nana. She was funny and kind and considerate. She had a great way of ever so slightly widening her eyes and raising her eyebrows as you were regaling her with your latest tall tale (but you could tell in her mind she was thinking "Reeeeeeealllly!"), and when you had finished she would never fail to offer you a lolly from the crystal dish that was always sitting on her coffee table. She was a woman who always wore a dress or a skirt, each outfit adorned with a carefully chosen brooch from her collection. It was only in her last years that she began to wear trousers (pink tracky daks!) and I think that, more than anything else, made me realise that she was tired, and ready to go on.

Every time I wear my brooch, I think of her. Card shark (as long as the cards were Euchre), knitter extraordinaire, mother of 6 scally wag boys and one right-hand-man girl, beloved friend to many and - on a really hot stinky day - shandy lover. If my life is filled with as much joy and friendship was hers was, then I'll die a happy lady. And Nana? I'm really looking forward to seeing you again.

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Dos du corsage (or: Jorth thinks she may be back on track)

I'm pretty excited about this new dress I'm making. Which, to be honest, is a relief, because it appeared that my sewing/crafting mojo had gone awol this week, and I wasn't quite sure it was ever going to come back.

Firstly there was the Joy cardigan disaster, resulting in a massive frog session. Then there was my vintage black top, which wasn't actually a disaster per se, but rather one of those project where you complete it, put it on and then think "Meh."

Don't get me wrong, it's finished and wearable. Just not by me. Not at all my style, and I'm really not quite sure what I was thinking. Please tell me others fall into this trap, too!

But the new dress - I can already tell it's going to be a winner. Big time, baby! Now I just have to make sure I don't rush it, and make stupid mistakes. Take it slowly, do it properly, Jorth.

And as for those 10 girls dresses you promised the school fete commitee? Worry about those next week!

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We have cat stuff

"We have cat stuff", proclaimed the sign outside the pet supply store. As I trotted on past I thought "...and I've got a couple of custard doughnuts to share with Grumbles for afternoon tea, a fellow coming around to finally put on our security doors and an afternoon of knitting ahead. Life is goooooooood!"

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Stuck in the frog pond

Jorth stomped around the house in a fit of mammoth proportions. She growled and cursed, and even briefly considered throwing needles, yarn and pattern book out of the window. When the phone rang and rudely interrupted her raging, she snatched up the receiver and spat "Who is it, and whaddya want?"

"Um, hi, honey" said the Galumph. "Just calling to see how your day is going."

"Going? Going? I'll tell you how it's going. One minute I was halfway through the back of my Joy cardigan, but due to a stupid stupid mistake I'm now here:"

"Ok," said the long suffering husband. "I'll leave you to it". Hanging up, he thought that maybe he wouldn't come home from work early after all...

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Flower brooch

Now, I could have stood in the kitchen, reading the invitation handed to me by Grumbles and quickly figured out which Barbie or book or bauble to buy the hostess. Easy as pie. Walk down the street, turn into shop, select made in China piece of crap that will break in two days (earlier if the child's brothers decide to have a bit of fun with it), ask assistant to wrap, please, pay the money, walk home.

Or I could sit down with Grumbles, have a nice little chat about what her friend would like, and what her favourite colours are, and then we could comment on how she is indeed a little lady so we'd best make her something ladylike.

And then we could spend a happy half hour playing with fabrics, cutting out patterns, rummaging through the button jar, finding the perfect ribbon and then stitch by stitch sew it together with love.

I'm pretty sure you can guess which option we took.

This would have to be the easiest brooch in the world to make:

1 - Cut out a nice flower shape pattern in paper.
2 - Find two pieces of complimentary fabric that will fit the flower pattern piece, and interface the back of them with the toughest interfacing you own.
3 - Cut out the flower pieces from the interfaced fabric.
4 - Find some ribbon and a button, then sew them all together. Then attach a brooch pin to the back.

Voila!

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Sneak peek...

...of vintage Simplicity pattern 4656. Although I can't wear it, of course, until I've bought a skin-coloured singlet to wear under it. Dammit!

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I've got the blues...

...but in a really, really good way. After all, you can't beat getting brand new massively discounted shoes (thank you Nine West!), nor knitting (or 'knipping' as Grumbles used to call it) a lovely new cardigan in Rowan Demin.

I've been seeing all these girls walking around with yellow shoes, and I was getting a bit of yellow shoe envy, but now I've got my blues I'm so totally over that. Blue rocks!

(Although, just between you and me, I am still on the hunt for the perfect pair of red shoes. I used to have a pair, but I wore them so much that they literally fell to pieces. I still mourn the loss.)

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Watch out! I've got a paintbrush and I'm not afraid to use it!

Good grief! Old Jorthy's at it again!

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Presenting the Spotty Dress!

Jorth sat in the counseller's office in a mood of utmost despair. Leaning forward on her chair she declared "It's just becoming ridiculous! I feel like it's taking over my life. I can't eat, I can't sleep - all I can do is think about... about... making more!", finishing the sentence in a rush before despondantly slouching in her chair.

The counsellor, after making a few notes in the ubiquitous notepad resting on his lap asked "And when did this obsession with Vogue 8184 begin?"

"I can trace it back to the first one I ever made", said Jorth. "It fitted so well, and even though it was only intended as a day dress, being made as it was out of patchwork cotton, it got compliments wherever I went. Fuelled by the buzz of admiration, I soon made a green one with a halter and straight skirt, then a red spotted one with a full skirt I gathered in random sections, then a bird one for a friend, and now this spotty number. And now all I want to make is Vogue Bloody Eight Bloody One Eight Four. I feel I can't even show my face out in public whilst wearing one, just in case people point their fingers at me and say "Look, there goes the 8184 girl!"

Sitting across from her in his chair, the counsellor stroked his chin thoughtfully before saying, "Well, there is something we can do this fix that particular problem..."


"Hmm", though Jorth. "Brilliant in theory, but I don't know how much longer I can get around like this. My arms are beginning to hurt!"

Project Details

Pattern: Vogue 8184, size 8, View D
Fabric: Japanese 100% Cotton from Tessuti Fabrics
Notions: One 35cm (14") zipper, covered boning

Like I explained above, I do have a wee obsession with this pattern. I just can't get enough of it. I had a couple of slight issues with this dress: first one was that I needed 1.3m of fabric, but only had a 1m remnant, so there was quite a bit of mucking around trying to get all of the pattern pieces to fit. I ended up having to cut the front skirt piece in two separate pieces, which means there is a seam in the middle. To be honest, I'm not exactly thrilled about that, but still love the dress nevertheless.

The second issue was getting the fit correct around the bust. I put boning in, as being strapless the dress needed that extra bit of structure, but then found that the bust was a tad gappy. Only by about 1cm either side, but just enough to bother me. The obvious solution would have been to unpick the bodice and take it in 1cm on the side seam near the bust line, but I knew if I did I wouldn't be able to breath as I rode my bike to work wearing it. Trust me, the boning made taking deep breaths hard enough.

So what's a less-than-well-endowed girl to do? Invest in a good strapless bra, that's what. That way I can fill out the dress properly yet still breath. Hoorah!

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The secret ingredient

Yesterday was spent with me nursing my sore throat on the couch. Since I was obviously not up for much, the Galumph and Grumbles thought that it would be a fine thing indeed to head into the kitchen and make a mess whip up some scones.

And despite the fact that Grumbles spent a delighted 5 minutes rubbing the mixture up and down her father's arm, they tasted pretty darn good. Forget adding cream instead of milk. The real secret ingredient is obviously a pinch or two of Staphylococcus epidermidis. Yum!

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Finish first, start later

Jorth sallied in to her local post office, and with a beaming smile of delight handed over her parcel collection slip to the cranky looking postal clerk, who heaved himself off his stool and lumbered towards the back room to collect her delivery.

Jorth took the opportunity to smile contentedly around the room. She adored getting parcels in the mail, and had a fairly good idea what this one contained. "God bless eBay!" she thought happily as the clerk came stomping back.

"Sign here", he ordered, stabbing a nicotined finger at the space in the collections book. As Jorth scrawled her signature the clerk appraised her parcel and muttered "Wool, eh? I takes it this means you'll be starting a new project?"

"You betcha!" beamed Jorth.

"So you've finished your last project then?" quizzed the clerk with a knowing look.

The grin began to slip a little from Jorth's face. "Well, pretty much. Just the hem and zipper hand stitching to do. Besides, I'm just itching to start knitting my new cardigan up!"

"Correct me if I'm wrong", said the clerk, learning forward and waggling his yellow finger at her, "but I believe the deal was that you had to finish your current project before you began a new one. And since you've been sprouting all over the internet about your spotty dress, I believe you'd best get that finished before you even think about knitting any darn cardigans."

She gaped at him in disbelief as he retrieved her parcel and slid it under the counter. "When that dress is finished your wool will be waiting here for you, missy", said the clerk, before looking over Jorth's shoulder and bellowing "Next!" As Jorth stood in a daze he gave her a look and sneeringly said "Well, what are you waiting for? The sooner you start the sooner you finish, so scoot!"

Poor disheartened Jorth stumbled home, feeling utterly dismayed about the turn of events. Still, she thought, the grumpy old codger did have a point. It is best to finish what you've begun, but in the future, she vowed, she wasn't going to let any postal clerks in on that little pledge.

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In the beginning there were spots...

I am love love LOVING how quickly my spotty dress is coming together. Half an hours work, and I've already got the bodice put together. Sweeeeeeeet!

Although I shouldn't get too cocky - I still have the zipper and boning to put in. Gah! My two least favourite things to sew. I would even go so far as to call them my own personal sewing hell nemesises. If anything can bring this girl down it's putting in a zip.

Wish me luck!

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Like a burst of sunshine in your mouth

The only thing harder than growing cherry tomatoes (which, let's admit it, isn't hard at all: all you have to do is stick the seeds in the pot, thin as necessary then remember to water on the allocated watering day) is trying to figure out what to do with the finished product. Do I sit at the kitchen table with Grumbles, shoving them in our mouths still warm from the sun, letting juice trickle down our chins as we roll our eyes in ecstasy? Or do I plunder the food sites, such as Gourmet*, Taste, Australian Gourmet Traveller etc looking for fancy schmancy recipes to show off our bounty with?

All I know is that if I leave them on the bench while I make up my mind they will be swiftly and mercilessly gobbled up the the cherry tomato thieves (aka Grumbles and Galumph). I'd best decide before their fate is sealed...

* I am still, with angry tears in my eyes, mourning the demise of Gourmet magazine. I can't believe such an incredible culinary institution, going since 1941, was closed down for the sake of bloody profit margins. Do the people at Condé Nast have no sense of what a gaping hole this will leave in the world of quality food journalism? It appears not.

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Just can't go past those spots...

...on fabric, that is. Spots on the face are entirely another matter - I could definitely do without those.

But Vogue 8184? Oh my god, whoever invented this pattern please swing on by my house so I can bestow overwhelming gratitude! This will be the (counting out loud on fingers) FIFTH version of this dress I will have made (you can check one version out here). It's my desert island pattern: you know the question: if you can only take one pattern to a desert island blah blah blah.

Well, this my friends it it. It's the perfect pattern. You can dress it up and make a fancy cocktail number, or you can make it up in patchwork cotton with straps and full skirt and use it as the perfect day dress, like the one I'm wearing as I sit here typing this.

And if you doubt how much I love this patten this lean forward and have a squint at your monitor: I've actually written on the pattern envelope. A seamstress hath no greater love than for a pattern she is willing to write on. I rest my case. It's true pattern perfection. (oh, and I am a big dork. Writing on a pattern indeed!)

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Tasks

Jobs for this week are as follows:

 - Take the poor old suddenly re-clanking bike in for a service. Try not to think about the cost.
 - Sew! The fabric stash of summer fabrics really needs to be make up into the garments before the season slides away (now I've got all those ants from "A Bugs Life" in my head intoning "Before the last leaf falls!" in their urgent little ant voices)
 - Figure out what the heck we will eat for Valentine's dinner, as getting a babysitter isn't really an option, and the one time I went out for dinner on that night I felt like a total naf naf.
 - Get defuzzed (gee, you all really wanted to know that one, didn't you?!)
 - Make friends with all the school mums who already seem to know each other (most of the preps have older siblings at the school). Must.Infiltrate.School.Mum.Cliques.Stat.

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You have no idea how much I needed that sugar hit.

Inspired by the CEO who tendered his resignation with a Twitter haiku, I've composed one myself to describe our afternoon's sweet treats (oh, and to sum up life in general at the moment):

Long hot week at work
School begun and tears are shed
I need cake and tea!

That was quite crap, wasn't it? Feck it, it's been a helluva week!

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Precipitation


Meh. Too tired to blog. Although I will tell you this: I wished for colder weather and boy oh boy did I get it: I got COMPLETELY soaked on my way home from work today.

Despite the mud splatters on my legs (incidentally not even from my bike but from the one in front) I did rather enjoy the drenching as a respite from the heat. Although I don't think I'll enjoy quite as much cleaning the mud from my lovely Blossom dress. Bah!

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Remembering Paris

On these hot airless days in Melbourne, where the sun relentlessly beats down upon you, and the bike ride home leaves me as red as a lobster, I am yearning for the cool crispness of an autumn day in Paris.

How nice it would be to once more be swarthed in scarves, mittens and hat, bundled up in a coat, trying to guess which lovely patisserie we will stop at for our morning cafe au lait (can you tell I'm so much more of a winter girl?)

Still, autumn in Melbourne is not without it's charms. There's the football, which I hope to go to this year, with hands wrapped around a hot pie and a cold beer (it's quite a juggle), cheering like mad when my team kicks a goal. There's going out for pho on Victoria Street, breathing in the zinging fresh steam from the broth as the waiters bellow to each other in Vietnamese around you. There's the yearly delight of seeing the new range of hats in David Jones - not that I ever buy any, but it's always nice to try a few on. And let us not forget the Winter Masterpieces at the National Gallery of Victoria - definitely a cool days highlight.

Oh I love autumn! There's so much to look forward to. Although if I was offered a plane ticket to Paris for autumn I might find it hard to say no!

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At least she won't fall off the bus on her second day of school like I did...

Today the dreaded day arrived - Grumbles started school. For the last few weeks I have been a mess of conflicted emotions. On the one hand I am thrilled that she is going - I know she is ready, and she will blossom and grow and learn at such an amazing rate that I am sure I will stand there with mouth gaping open at her speedy progress.

On the other hand I've never been separated from her so thoroughly before. The thought of her being out there in what can be a cold cruel world makes me want to dash into the classroom and bring her home, clasped in my loving arms as I extole loudly the benefits of homeschooling. Such has been my anxiety on her behalf that I have spent the last week or so with guts churning, shitting battery acid several times a day at the very thought of anything happening to her without me there to protect her.

As we walked to the school this morning she broke into a delighted run as she caught sight of the school building. The little tiger couldn't wait to get in there and begin the next part of her life, and despite my breaking heart I hitched a brave smile on to my face, kissed her goodbye and walked out of the classroom and left her alone on her life's path, a path I know she will tread with courage and compassion, with joy and love, with kindness and stubborness, and with wisdom and faith that every step she takes is one in the right direction.

I've spent the last five years holding her hand. Every clasp of her tiny warm paw has been an honor, but now it's time for me to let go. As my Dad says, like his mother before him, "you only get a lend of them." And despite my fears, my little girl is ready to walk on alone.

I'm so proud of you, Grumbles, my love. So very, very proud.

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Blossom dress

There's nothing better to do on a warm windy summers day than to go for a bike ride.

Actually, scratch that - there is something better, and that's going for a bike ride on a warm windy summers day wearing a dress you made yourself!

Feeling the sun warming your back as the wind tickles your legs and makes your skirt whirl around while you sniff at the air delightedly to catch all of those fantastic summery smells: drying cut grass, flowers from neighbourhood gardens, backyard bbqs... it's a mighty fine ride, that's for sure.

Project Details

Fabric: Japanese Cotton Osaka Earth Bloom from Tessuti Fabrics

Pattern: Vogue 8380

Notions: 14" zipper, hook and eyes, length of ribbon

This is not a dress I would have tried on in a shop. I'm not generally so girly, but having made this dress up I love it! The fabric has a lot to do with this love - it's beautiful to wear, and feels so comfortable, and I quite like the way the magenta ribbon sets off the colours in the floral print.

And you really can't find a more wearable dress to ride a bike in (although I usually sport daggy sandals during the ride, and save the heels for work. And wear my helmet, but neither item maketh for a good photo!)

All I need now is a magenta cardigan and I can keep wearing the dress on my bike all the way through autumn. Happy biking days indeed (and yes, my bike and I are friends again. She's even stopped clanking!)

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