Friday, 13 September 2013

on black

I know it's been a while since I wrote.
That's okay. Things have been rather busy here.

I've come to the realisation in the last few months that I feel better wearing black, at least on my top half.

This seems boring, and I have fought it for years, I love bold colours, and for some reason I feel guilty if I'm only ever wearing black, but I feel most comfortable and confident if I am in black.

This also opens up better ideas for me for buying/making new clothes: I can be as adventurous as I like with my bottom half (bold colours skirts, for example) and they'll always look fine with a plain black top. I can focus on buying different basics for my top in black, knowing I'll be happy to wear them and feel good wearing them.

So I feel like I'm making progress with working out my personal style. Now all I need to do is get a few more items so I've got more than two options, and maybe look forwards to summer, I'll need some more black tees. But it's not warm enough for that yet, so I've got time :) other news, my ethics proposal in currently under consideration and my 'confirmation event' (read: 20min presentation on what I'm doing for my PhD) is next week.

...and Miss S is now 5 and has thoroughly enjoyed her first week of school.

Friday, 12 July 2013

A bag of tricks

So, I did a bit of sewing a few weeks ago, and I was going to blog a bit more detailed than just a "I made this" but it has taken me this long to get around to it. Here we go.

So I decided Miss A needed some kind of containing device for her toys that were starting to get played with more and then being messy around the living room so I made a soft fabric box / bag-thing:

I've seen them before online ages ago, and thought it could be a good idea. This one is made from spare cloth nappies (not fluffy ones and well washed) that I then interfaced (a fairly light interfacing). I then cut out four shapes like this:

And sewed them together: Two together along one long side and to each pointed end, and one set had an opening to turn it through on what would become the 'inside' (you could do half and half different fabrics and make it prettier), and then sewed the two halved together, turned it through and handsewed up the hole before folding it in half and then folding the top over. I should have pressed the seams open and flat AS I sewed but I didn't, and then it was rather tricky once it was all made up.

It is quite sturdy, but nice and soft. Miss A likes to sit and see what she can find in the bag and pull out something to play with. (Miss S sometimes tries to convince me it is a hat, but I am not convinced.)

As I sewed it, all plain white, I thought it might be nice to sew coloured zigzag over each long seam line, but it would be tricky with the seam allowance and the opening-to-turn-through, so I didn't. But I thought that if I made another one, I could cut the pieces like this:

And then I could. I'd sew all the sides and then the base, making the opening-to-turn-through in the base rather than a side.

It's a really easy pattern to make up. Just make a long rectangle twice as long as you want the bag high, plus any fold over (I suppose you could make it without foldover, but I think it gives the opening more structure, and the foldover can increase or lessen as the bag is fuller or emptier) and as wide as you want one side of the square. Then to add the base just make a right-angle triangle on each end of the rectangle - I used my patternmaking square, but you could use anything square, as long as the sides are even and the angle is a right angle (otherwise it won't sit flat).

 bag base, showing seams joining at right angles

If you want the second pattern style, cut the triangle in half and add both halves to the end.

It was really easy to whip up, and is really handy and surprisingly sturdy (and a great use for old cloth nappies).

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Keeping ticking

So Friday was yesterday. This week seems to have gone by really fast. Last week was really slow, so I'm caught a little off guard.

I haven't managed any exercise, for two weeks (or was that three?).

I have kept plodding with my PhD, some days better than others. I'm getting my confirmation document into order, but will need to start thinking about the presentation to go with it soon. Probably best to start that before Miss S is on holiday.

I STILL haven't managed to do any sewing. I've had sore wrists and been tired whenever the chance might have come up, so have gone to bed with a book early a few nights, and generally been keeping the washing ticking over and such instead. Soon. My crafty soul needs some making soon.

Monday, 1 July 2013

What I've learnt in June

Emily over at Chatting at the Sky is having a fun and serious link-up about "What I've learnt in June" today and I thought I'd join in.

1. I can cope with my daughters without assistance better than I thought.
The Hubster had some hard work to get down this month, which left me fielding the kidlets, and I managed surprisingly well. This means that I can feel freer to do things without him and to encourage him to go where he needs to go and do what he wants to do (youth ministry conference coming up for example?).

2. If I keep plodding, work gets down. (But when I don't plod it can be sitting waiting for weeks!)
PhD work has been plodding, and progressing slowly, but I still have a pair of pjs cut out and waiting to be sewn.

3. Marking can be hilarious, as well as incredibly boring.
Okay, so I knew this already, but I've been doing more undergrad marking, and some of the things that pop up had me laughing out loud. Other bits had me facepalming and losing faith in humanity, at least until I was laughing again or came across a really good essay.

4. Sometimes the littlest things can really matter at the same time as them not mattering at all.
Case in point: "We are made in His image" vs. "We are made in God's image" - no difference, but all the difference in the world.

5. Printing out documents and reading them on paper gives me a very different perspective on them and I find it easier to edit.
Not tree-friendly, but I console myself by the backs becoming free-for-drawing for Miss S or recycling. And then more PhD work gets done (and this is good).

6. Fires are awesome (and messy).
Winter has set in, with days in a row being less than 10 degrees, so we are enjoying our fire - it makes the house so cosy! But there is always more dusting and tiny bits of wood scattered around the place.

7. An old familiar book that hasn't been read in a while is a great comfort when you fall into bed tired at the end of the day. You know you're not missing out when you find yourself half-snoozing through your reading, but it's still a good read.

8.Sometimes the most profound things we learn from babies who cannot even move around or talk for themselves: Sometimes you have to let go before you can grasp something new. (Oh, and Miss A is amazing, sitting by herself and being generally gorgeous.)

9. We have far more computer power cords than we will ever need.
I've made a small start on sorting and reboxing (and throwing away) things stored in our garage. First box accessible was the Hubster's cord box. I'm not even halfway through and I've found around 5 computer power cords and 3 old printer-to-USB cords (the type that aren't used anymore).

So what have you learned in June? From the ridiculous to the mundane to something seriously profound...

Friday, 21 June 2013

A week... passes

It's Friday again, and I don't feel like I have much to report, not today anyway. It is cold and I am tired.

The weekend was good, I got some good sewing done which I'm working on a post about specifically.

Tuesday night the Hubster was out, so I spent the evening in front of the tv cutting out Miss S's next pair of pjs. (Was that really only this week?)

Wednesday, Miss A decided to try sitting by herself, and got increasingly good at it through the day, until she decided that her toes looked more interesting. I had some wheat over the weekend and she's been rather spilly this week because of it, but it has gradually been lessening. Lots of bibs and washing done. Last night she had trouble sleeping due to a blocked nose, so I'm rather tired now.... zzzz

We got the highchair out of the garage and gave it a clean, and then I've been working on a seatbelt for it, as Miss S used to always slip down in it, so would like Miss A to be able to avoid that if we can. I managed to figure out how it might work, and dug around in my notions collection for some clips and stuff from a deceased backpack, then went and bought some strapping. With a little bit of sewing we'll have an adjustable seatbelt for it, then Miss A can start sitting up with us for meals and be out of reach of our food (which she keeps trying to grab when she sits in laps).

I've done some little bits of PhD work, not nearly as much as I should have done, but forward progress is better than none. Made some contacts and am starting to get my confirmation report into shape.

I should be spending today doing exam marking, and that means a trip out to uni with a baby, because I'm not allowed to take the exam papers off campus. I went out yesterday but, because it is an extramural paper, there weren't many there to be marked yet. A got an email about an hour after I had left saying there was now another 50 there.  Sigh. Maybe I'll go out after Miss A has had a decent nap.

I'll to try work on a more exciting post (with pictures!) later tonight while the Hubster is out at youth group, if the girls sleep, that is.  Yawn. I might need a nap.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

A little patch of sewing

The other day I did a quick bit of sewing, made some squares for Miss A to chew on. We'd been trying to find something she was happy chewing to help her teething. A lot of the teething toys she isn't yet able to hold in her mouth cos she's so young, but we found he quite happily sucking and chewing on her quilt. So I thought I'd make some more portable alternatives.

They were so easy to sew, just two squares of scrap sweatshirting, sewn together with a wide seam allowance so that when I turned then through I could just top-stitch around them and the opening was caught in too without me needing to handstitch (which I did later when I had time, but it meant they were usable right away). I made one a straight square with a colour on each side. The other one I sewing the sides of the squares together, then off-set them so each side was half of one fabric, half the other, and then sewed the other sides before turning through.

Miss A loves them. They can get quite soggy, but they can just be thrown in the washing machine, easy peasy.

I'm very happy with them. They were such a quick and easy project (10-15mins for two?), and so rewarding. And a good way to use up some small bits of leftover fabric. I'm almost all out of this pink printed sweatshirting, only scraps for things like this left.

A belated reflection

So I managed to miss my Friday round-up, but it was a very wearying week, so I was struggling to think.

We've had a friend staying with us while he tries to find a place to live, and finally moved out last Friday. (When I say moved out, he's been sleeping in his van in our garage for the last two weeks.) I was somewhat surprised by how much it has worn me out, cos it didn't feel too bad during, but post- I am rather knackered.

Then the Hubster's sister came to visit Saturday evening and we stayed up late talking (read: midnight). Opps.

Saturday I managed to finish the pj top to go with the star footsie pj pants, and despite only adding length, Miss S seems to be swimming in it a bit. Maybe they'll last two winters.

I've got some fabric for a second pair, but I have cut out Miss A some woolly singlets from some old merino tops of mine (that are coming apart at the seams but the fabric is otherwise fine) that I'll make up first.

This week I've managed to get a bit of PhD work done, not a lot, but keeping things moving at least. I've been discussing with my supervisors my confirmation event which will happen at the end of July  (showing that I've done work over the first 12mths of PhD enrollment by doing an oral presentation and giving a proposal/report to supervisors and 'confirmation panel'). So I need to get working on that. The report can mostly be a pulling together of various bits I have around the place. And then the oral presentation will be based on my critical literature review and research proposal.

I've managed two walks this week (none last week), even one in the rain cos I just needed the exercise. So I'm managing to keep that happening a bit, not as much as I would like, but that seem to be a theme at the moment.

More about another little bit of sewing in another post.

Friday, 31 May 2013


This week seems to have been much more productive than the last.

I have emailed both my ethics application and my current-form-of critical literature review to my supervisors. Feeling like I'm starting to get somewhere.

I finished the first pair of footsie pj pants for Miss S, and she is super happy. Wearing them to bed tonight (after wearing them around all afternoon since I finished them).

(The colour matches nicely with this skirt I made her for Christmas last year, edged with a scrap of fabric left over from the first shirt I ever made her dad.)

They seem to have plenty of length for her to grow, so might manage to last her two winters.

I cut out the matching top last night and managed to sew the shoulder seams this afternoon before Miss A woke from a nap and I had to stop.

I didn't manage to go for any walks this week, it's been a chilly week, and I've been getting over a cold, so didn't feel like going out and making my nose run even more. I did manage an ab workout yesterday. But generally lots of early nights and a lack of enthusiasm for being too active.

Aims for next week?

Get a couple of emails related to my PhD sent.

Be a bit more active.

I think I'd like to start tackling a new section of PhD work, do something a bit different while I wait for feedback about the bits currently with supervisors.

My parents are visiting on their way home from long-weekend-travels on Tuesday/Wednesday, so that might keep me busy a little, and Miss S is home from kindy on Monday, so we'll see how we go.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Pants galore!

So I didn't get any sewing done yesterday, Miss A didn't want to sleep. But after the girls had eventually both ended up in bed last night I managed to sort out the pj pattern for Miss S and cut out one pair of pants. I started sewing them today. Isn't the fabric lovely? So soft and cozy.


This was of course after I had sewn this pair of pants for Miss A that have been waiting a few weeks.

The colours a nice warm dark-ish green, more like the full photo than the inset. Unfortunately the fabric had virtually no stretch, and I had cut it as if it had a little, so the slightly smaller cuffs couldn't be stretched on, and I got a little tuck in one of them. I'll probably be the only one to notice, and it won't make them any less cozy.

I managed to snap a pic of the second pair a couple of days ago.

Fabric is the same as the sweatshirt I made last weekend, both cut from leftovers of a sleeveless hooded tunic I made years ago. These pants are a bit long, but she'll grow, I'm sure.

So a much better day today, but now I must go see about dinner.

Friday, 24 May 2013

A slow week, but well measured



It's beautifully sunny today.

But it's been a slow week, slow working week anyway, not much progress anywhere.

Despite not doing much I've still be rather sore, which doesn't help the inspiration.

Chipping away slowly on a couple of things.

I'd rather be sewing though.

I traced off Miss S's current pjs, and took a few dozen measurements (some I needed, some on request), so I should be able to upsize and alter it quickly enough. Maybe I'll do some of it this evening while The Hubster is out.

I'm off to do a little sewing to try and make myself feel better. I'll aim to get more done next week. Meet you back here on Monday for some goals, perhaps?