Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas one and all. I hope you all have a wonderful day surrounded by those that mean the most to you, and you get a chance to remember the reason for the season. Here it has just started to snow, so we may be looking at a white Christmas.

3D Christmas biscuits made by my sister-in-law and iced by her and yours truly (cutters from IKEA)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Big Move Update #2

Here I am on the other side of the world! It's been a hectic few weeks, hence why I'm only now scraping together five minutes to post a quick update for all on how things have been going. We hit the ground in the UK a week and a half ago. Flights all went smoothly and I managed to get over 8 hours sleep on the Hong Kong-London leg, which is unusual for me on planes.

We had a day of rest before starting the hunt for a car. Our first day of hunting was a little discouraging, as it quickly became apparent that to insure me on even the smallest car on my NZ driver's licence would be more than the cost of the car. We eventually came to the conclusion that it would be more practical to insure just the husband and I won't drive until I can switch my NZ licence for a UK one (in 6 months time). I'll miss driving, but it just isn't worth the cost!!! On our second day of hunting we were lucky enough to find the perfect car - exactly what we were looking for, in very tidy condition, and on budget. So we are now the owners of an 07 Renault Megane hatchback.

We spent the rest of the first week shopping - for both clothes we had delayed buying until after the move, and some beginning household goods that we would need straight away. And of course spending plenty of time with my in-laws! This week we have moved up to the part of the country we will be living in permanently and started the search for a house. We seem to be on a two-day roll, as once again the first day of house hunting was discouraging, with nothing quite right, but on the second day we found just what we were looking for. It was then a mad dash to the rental agency's office to get our name down first, as we knew there were others viewing it right after us! We got there in time, but are now playing the waiting game while they check our references.

On the whole, all is going well! We have very limited internet, so until we have a house to move into and internet set up I don't expect to be checking in to often. There is little we can do but wait now the house application is in, so we'll spend the next few days getting to know the area around our new home.

Sarah

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Big Move Update #1

Due to popular demand, I'll be using the blog over the next few weeks to update on the big NZ to UK move! A pictureless post today, mainly because I can't be bothered digging out the camera . .  and there is not much to take pictures of, giving that we're living out of two suitcases.

We gave up our flat last week and are staying with my parents until we fly out in less than a weeks time! Everything at this end is all but tidied up now. Just a few bills to pay and our cars haven't yet sold. I need to get on to some Christmas shopping this week, which to be honest I don't really want to think about, but feel like I need too :-) Our freight boxes have been picked up, along with the couple of items of furniture that are coming with us. All going to plan we should see them again mid-February.

Things that have struck me this week:
  • I will truly miss not having a summer. Hoping to spend as much time outside this week as possible!
  • I'm looking forward to all the possibilities for things to see and do in the UK. Hubby and I have already been looking into a National Trust membership. Any of you UK bloggers have one? is it worth it? 
  • I've put my name into the NZ ballot of attendance passes for the 2015 Gallipoli landings service, which would be an incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience that I couldn't ever consider from NZ. 
  • I already miss my library job :-( 
A little cross stitching going on this week as I try to make the most of my 'holiday' before hitting the UK. There may be a photo later in the week, time restraints allowing!

Sarah

Monday, November 4, 2013

Finally Framed!!!

I finished the cross stitch that's in my header almost two years ago now!! The night before the husband and I got married, as it happens. Since then. . . it has sat safely in my mothers linen cupboard. Fortunately, she is more proactive than I am. She recently sent the iris I had stitched for her away to be framed and sent mine away at the same time.


I knew from the moment I finished that I wanted a 6 or 8 sided frame for this piece. My mother-in-law has one from the same series in an octagon frame on her wall that I've long admired. It was my framers first attempt at a hexagon frame, but I love how it's turned out!

It's come back to me just in time. . .  to be carefully bubble wrapped and packed into a sea freight box. I'm looking forward to hanging it on my wall in the UK, when I have one (it means that this piece will have travelled to the UK from NZ not once, but twice!).

Iris is also now beautifully framed, but I forgot to take a photo over the weekend when I was at my parents. . . hopefully next weekend!

Sarah

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Destashing

So. . . the whole moving to the UK thing is resulting in a bit of a destash. There's only so much of everything that can come with me. Because of that, I have a couple of offers to make to you all.

For New Zealand bloggers: I have a pile of craft stuff that isn't coming with me, but isn't good enough to sell. Large fabric scraps, opened packets of beads with two beads used etc. For the cost of a $4 post bag (paid by NZ bank deposit) I will stuff the post bag as full with that kind of thing as I can get it and send it away to you. Anyone interested?

I also have a few cross stitch patterns I'm happy to get rid of. If any of these appeal to you, email me with an offer :-) UK bloggers, feel free to offer as well, we may be able to work something out. I'm sorry to everyone else! I don't use paypal and don't want to start, so I can only offer to countries where I can be paid by bank deposit. Anyways, the patterns:

  • February Glows (snappers series) from Bent Creek (includes snaps)
  • Happy Christmas (snappers series) from Bent Creek (no snaps)
  • La Fleur Button Box and Pin Keep, from Picadilly Paisley
  • Flowers of tomorrow, from Lizzie Kate
  • Buzz on Inn, from Lizzie Kate
  • Warm Hearts, from La-D-Da

I've also got a bunch of cross stitch magazines on TradeMe at the moment, for anyone that's interested. 

It's amazing how much 'stuff' one accumulates over time!!


Sarah

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Some BIG news!

This year hasn’t worked out well for me and blogging. .  . I think I’ve been ‘on hiatus’ for more of this year then I haven’t, for a variety of reasons, but mostly because of this great idea someone had for me to work full time and study part time :-P All in all, it’s been rather quiet around here. Lately it’s been a bit quieter than usual . . . but I have a good reason! I promise! There have been some big things going on in the lives of husband and I . . . which are resulting in a move. We’re going from here. . . . to here.



By this time next month I’ll be jetting off to the UK on a permanent basis. The land of craft magazines, shows, classes, cheap books and cheap flights to Europe (you don’t know how lucky you are). At the moment my house looks a little like a bomb has hit it, with piles of ‘keeping’ and ‘not keeping’ all over the floor. I’m still crafting a little when there’s time, but at the moment that’s not something I have a lot of. 

Hopefully I’ll be around the blog a little more now. I feel like I need to document the journey somehow! It’s a big change for a girl who’s lived almost her whole life within an hour of where she was born. 

So check back soon for some new adventures, both crafty and not! And if you’re a New Zealand crafty blogger, I’m in the midst of a massive destash for the move. . .  more details coming on that soon :-P 

Sarah

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Can you find me a pattern?

Friends!

I'm trying to find a cross stitch pattern for a christmas ornament or decoration, that is 'christmasy' but also has something to do with travel. So far I'm not having much luck!! Can anyone point me towards anything?

Sarah

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book Review: Spruce Upholstery

This is the only book you'll need to learn the craft and art of upholstery from start to finish. With clear instructions illustrated by more than 900 step-by-step photographs, the five projects included here are designed to teach all of the techniques and skills you need to reupholster any piece of furniture to suit your own taste and style.



Spruce: A Step by Step Guide to Upholstery and Design



Brown, Amanda. (2013). [Genre: Design, DIY]

Goodreads|Book Depository  

This post originally appeared on my book blog, The Everyday Reader



I received at advance reader copy of this title thanks to Storey Publishing. All opinions are my own.


Upholstery is something I've been wanting to dabble my hand in for a long while. I've even checked out a few books from the library on the topic. But all the books I've found have been at least 30 years old, with limited scope and confusing/lacking instructions. Or some combination there of. Spruce is different.


Firstly, its clean and modern. The pages aren't to cluttered, there's lots of white space and it has a nice, easy on the eye colour palette. So much better than all those 70's titles with orange drawings and so much small, crammed text that it's enough to make your head explode. The approach in Spruce is deceptively simple. It only contains 5 in-depth projects: an ottoman, a three-seater sofa, a wing back chair, a pair of slipper chairs and a louis chair. But it provides a genius mix-and-match guide which means that with a little in-depth reading and minimal adapting, you can reupholster anything yourself. It's surprisingly effective; reading through the instructions for each piece it was easy to see how they could be applied to completely different pieces. A final chapter gives helpful (if not as detailed) instructions for sewing matching soft furnishings. The appendix contains plenty (like a bucketload) of useful advice, from essentials in settling up your own upholstery business to fabric variations.


The instructions in Spruce are detailed, thorough and seem achievable if you follow them closely and carefully. The photos and drawings are very clear, and add to the instructions rather than making them more complex.


If I have one small criticism to make its that I wouldn't feel comfortable as a DIY-er just jumping in to upholstery on a Sunday afternoon with this book as my guide. Spruce is almost too professional. The tools are numerous and expensive, the processes lengthy. To some extent this is the reality of fantastic looking upholstery, but on the other hand I've seen other titles that are far more DIY friendly (even if offering a less polished look).


Overall, Spruce is a genuinely interesting and attractive package. Even if it made me more scared of home upholstery than I was before. I'm not sure if I'll be tackling my old wingback quite yet.



4/5 stars



Spruce: A Step by Step Guide to Upholstery and Design comes out October 2nd

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Framing some hardanger!

I started my first attempt at hardanger embroidery way back in May and actually probably finished it sometime in June. But it's taken me months to find a frame the right size for it!! In the end I had one custom made online, one of those many little get-around-to jobs I've been getting around to while I'm at home after surgery. So here's how it turned out!


The hardanger itself wasn't to trying once I'd gotten used to it. The cutwork was a bit nerve wracking at first, but once you've done the first couple of cuts and confirmed that the whole thing IS NOT going to fall to pieces on you it's quite satisfying to attack your embroidery with scissors :-P

I framed it myself, using the walnut frame I ordered online (the company had GREAT service and prices for custom frames by the way, if you're a kiwi looking for frames, let me know and I'll pass on their details). I backed the cutwork with a piece of greenish-whiteish quilting fabric, which looks far better in real life than it does in these sun glarey pictures, I promise! To make it easy on myself, I used spray adhesive to stick the fabric straight to the matboard, then laced the hardanger over it.


The Details 
Pattern: A Precious Jewel, from 'Stitch' magazine no.76 (April/May 2012)
Threads: Caron Watercolours/Wildflowers Nefertiti
Fabric: 25 ct cream Lugana
Finishing: Walnut frame

So there you go! My first attempt at hardanger, with no major mishaps. I think I'll be doing more again in future. One tip - using white thread on white fabric is probably best for beginners. I spent about two hours poking away the ends of cut evenweave so they weren't blindingly obvious against the coloured threads. 

Sarah


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I can't walk! (also IHSW August)

Last week the problem I mentioned a few weeks back resulted in surgery. Which was . . . an interesting experience? And also means I can't currently walk. Actually that's not true, I walked to the mailbox today and considered it a major victory. Here's my nicely bandaged leg a week post-surgery


You don't want to see what's underneath that. I mean it, I saw it yesterday and I wish I could unsee it! 
Anyways, being housebound is a good excuse for picking up the needle, so I made a new start over the weekend. Coinciding nicely with IHSW August 





This is the beginning of John Clayton's Tuscany. I haven't stitched on aida in ages, so it's been fun getting used to it again! When it's finished it should look something like this . . . 


I'm hoping to have it finished by the end of October, which will be just in time to enter it in the 'unframed' class at the local show, which I got the entry forms for last week. 

Hope all you IHSW ladies had a productive, hermity weekend (but not as hermity as mine!) 

Sarah


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Cooking: Japanese Rice Balls

I love onigiri (japanese rice balls). When I was a uni student they were my favourite 'lunch on the go' treat. We had a weekend away last weekend in Queenstown, a gorgeous winter hub of activities, and while we were there I found a great sushi restaurant. It reminded me how much I love onigiri and inspired me to try them at home!


It was surprisingly easy! Even better, apart from sushi vinegar I already had all the ingredients at home. I used tuna, spring onion and avocado with a little mayo for the filling. Ideally I'd use capsicum/pepper as well, but they're not in season at the moment.

I used Just Hungry's great tutorial for easy shaping. I think they turned out pretty perfectly shaped, considering it was my first try! Next time I might have to try the traditional method and use my hands rather than plastic wrap.


Yum! They've been a great grab-and-go lunch this week.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cross Stitching: Winter Fob

I'm back! To be honest, I just haven't felt like blogging lately. There hasn't been a lot of craft going on lately either, due to a combination of things. My study workload has doubled this semester while I'm still working full time and it's winter and I've been feeling more like cuddling up in bed with a book than crafting. In all honesty I've also been battling against a medical problem, which causes what the doctors call 'moderate to severe chronic pain.' It's manageable, but sometimes its easier just to distract myself with a movie or a computer game than craft.

Anyways, despite all that lately my fingers have been itching. . . so I've just starting something small, easing my way back into it.


This is the start of a Lizzie Kate scissor fob. I'm not sure if I'll use it as such, but it's just a nice small stitch to start getting me back into the swing of things.

Hopefully I'll be back to regular postings soon, but please forgive me if not! It's hard to keep all the juggling balls in the air sometimes :) You can find me over on my other blog, The Everyday Reader a bit more regularly if you're also a book lover.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Book Review: Freeze and Easy


Freeze & Easy 

Sara Lewis (2013). 

Buy it at The Book Depository

Disclaimer: I recieved an e-galley of this title thanks to Anova Books. All opinions are my own and I was not obligated to share a review.

I work full time at a job that requires an hour commute and study part time. Hubby works 60-80 hour weeks in a high pressure job. We're therefore always looking for ways to cut down on our cooking time, while still maintaining healthy eating habits. It's far to easy to revert to food that's full of sugar and salt because you don't have the time to make anything better on a Tuesday night when you've just got home at 6.30pm and you have an audio conference to attend in an hours. I love my crockpot. And I'm learning to love my freezer (though I'm constantly wishing for a bigger one).

This is where Freeze & Easy comes in. Sara Lewis combines practical advice on utilising your freezer to cut down on cooking. The first part of the book is small, informative sections like 'how to use your freezer efficiently' (useful stuff like the optimal temperatures) and 'money saving freezer tips' (like freezing slices of lemon within iceblocks, which is possibly the most fantastic idea ever and will stop me from having half a lemon perpetually going mouldy in my fridge). The second and larger section is devoted to freezer friendly recipes, divided by food type (meat, veggies etc). Each recipe has instructions for freezing, thawing and serving. Many also have suggestions for variations and batch cooking. So practical!

For the most part I really enjoyed the recipes - they are of a high standard, some are even dinner party friendly and there's lots of variation. My one small criticism is that some (by no means all) have either an excessive amount of ingredients or very expensive ones, which seems at odds with the general purpose of freeze cooking - to be time and cost efficient.  For example, a recipe for pork tortillas has 19 ingredients.

Overall, Freeze & Easy is a great addition to any time-pressed cook's resources. Like me, you'll soon be wishing you had a bigger freezer.

4/5 stars

Freeze & Easy is available now.

Sarah

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Framed Chat Sont Gris

Just a quick post to show off what Chat Sont Gris looks like framed. I framed this one myself, using the lace framing method I did a tutorial on here.


Mum loves the frame, so overall I'm considering it a great success :) I think it might be time to start some more embroidery. I've been working on other crafty projects lately, but I always miss embroidery/cross stitch when I haven't got one on the go.

Sarah

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Introducing . . . Quilt 2! (in progress)

The battle against the cold continues. No snow yet, but only because of the drenching rain. It's the sort of weather that makes you want to pull the curtains, turn the heater on and sew all day. Good thing I've got something to sew then! Quilt 2.0 is in progress


Lots of little strips and squares, just waiting to be put together with some white. I'm loving the vibrant colours (I'm using a jelly roll of Joel Dewberry's Notting Hill, kindly put together by Knotted Threads), they're like my own little cure for winter.

What are your winter projects? Or your summer ones!

Sarah

Friday, June 14, 2013

Beating the Cold


 

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. It's still very chilly around here. So I am making some efforts to beat the cold. Starting with a hot water bottle cover, so that my bottle stops loosing its heat approximately 5 minutes after I get into bed (after I've burnt my toes of course).

I don't know why this photo is blurry. I swear it wasn't a second ago

To be honest, this project wasn't the quick fix I was looking for. It took me two whole evenings! I think I went too fancy, it being lined and with an envelope close at the back so I can swap the bottle if need be (I know lots of people who have ones where the bottles stuck in there permanently). But it's pretty. And it does its job wonderfully. So I'm happy and even contemplating trying again some time with a slightly different design.


The details: Random assorted charms (for the second time this week I'm using bits I got in a giveaway from Rebecca, which goes to show how long things take to rise to the top of my stash because that giveaway was a hideously long time ago), with some leftover brown quilting cotton. Lined with leftover grey cotton from a dress lining. Bound with some pre-made grey bias.

So now I'm toasty warm at night anyway! I think some wrist warmers are next on the warmth seeking agenda, if I can track down some double pointed needles and bribe my mum into teaching me how to do a thumb gusset. 

Sarah

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Dressmaking: Winter Blues

We're right into the depths of winter here now. I'm struggling to get the washing done and dry (in New Zealand we don't seem to believe in dryers). It feels to cold to get up in the morning. And to cold to write essays. You just want to cuddle in bed with a book all day.

I made finished this top about two months ago, before the winter blues set in, but only just got around to taking pictures. It's the first time its come out of my wardrobe since I finished it, not because I don't like it but because it's just not warm enough to wear it . . .

This is the Colette Sorbetto top, which is a freebie on their website. I made some changes, partly because I got the sizing a bit off and partly because of the vertical stripe. So no box pleat, just deep bust darts.

The details
Fabric: Cotton lawn I won from Rebecca ages ago (which looking back I've just realised she suggested the winner make a Sorbetto with, so there you go), with plain blue pre-made bias binding

To be honest, the sizing is still a little small, despite taking the pleat out. I checked the printer settings/test box and all seemed fine, but it obviously wasn't. I'll be even more careful next time. I think there will be a next time, because it doesn't use a lot of fabric and is easy to put together. 

Keep warm where ever you are! 

Sarah

Monday, June 3, 2013

My Iron Broke

Yesterday, the plate on my iron broke. Its had a crack right across it since 22nd February 2011. I was living in the city of Christchurch then. There was an earthquake. It killed 185 people. My iron fell off its board in the laundry and there's been a big crack in it ever since.


This last week marked the 1000th day since the original Christchurch earthquake, which was a 7.1 on the 4th September 2010. A lot has happened since then. There's been more earthquakes. Tens of thousands of them. It has settled down now, with just the occasional one to remind us all they're still there.

I no longer live in Christchurch, the natural course of life eventually moved me on. Christchurch itself is starting to recover, but there's still lots of hardships. Endless roadworks, bickering over whats going to happen to certain buildings etc. I love reading Deb's blog, she keeps me up to date with what people are feeling there as things progress.

It has taken two years for that iron to finally break. I think that says a lot about the whole thing really. Surviving. Recovery. Resilience. Breaking points. All I really know for sure is that it's time to buy a new iron. I won't be forgetting the old one though. It takes a pretty special iron to carry on like that for such a long time.


Sarah

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Crochet: Bellisfaire Beanie

You might remember when I reviewed Crochet One-Skein Wonders I said the Bellisfaire Beanie was going to the top of my to-do list. And it totally did. I started hooking it almost straight after I said that. I finished it a couple of weeks ago.


Here's the traditional back-of-my-head photo. Though here it's more side of my head. Anyways, we should be looking at the beanie, not my head. I love the yarn colour. It's absolutely gorgeous, with more pinky tones than I usually go for.

The Details: Bellisfaire Beanie, by Sarah Grieve (Crochet One Skein Wonders)

The hat itself is sooo comfy and it looks really nice (from the front too, I promise).  I left off the picot edging, because I did half of it and it didn't look right at all. I also may have added a stitch here and there . . . we'll say it was on purpose :-P 

I think more crochet is in order over winter. Plus, I need to start a new project to take to work next week for international knit in public day. 

Sarah



Monday, May 27, 2013

The First Quilt

We finally got some sun in the weekend! It was brief, wintery sun (as in so brief that it snowed today), but it was still sun. Which meant I took some pictures of my first EVER finished quilt. So here it is.


It's lovely. And I'm so proud of it. I did every single bit of this thing myself. I pierced it, I basted it, I quilted it and I bound it. It was fun. I'll be doing it again (and soon). 


There are no blocks in this thing, it's just a simple pattern of charm squares with sashing really. But I'm ok with that. It's bright and lovely and cheers up the back of my couch no end. (the pattern is Happy Weekender, by Kim Niedzwiecki on Moda Bake Shop) 


Here's an awful sun-glare photo of the back. Which makes me realise that all of these photos are actually of the quilt upside down, because that strip should be at the top. Oh well. Doesn't make it any less snuggly. 

 The details: Fabric is California Girl by Fig Tree & Co for Moda, supplemented with white solid from my LQS. Binding in Robin's Egg from Fig Tree & Co (Avalon line I think).
Machine quilted by me in a rectangle repeat.
Backed with white solid + leftover charms.
Lap size, approx 150 x 170 cm (60 x 67 inches).

I'll hopefully be starting on number two soon. Which will involve a bit more cutting (though not much). I think after that I better think about doing a sampler. Just so I actually figure out those things called blocks, know what I mean? 

Sarah



Thursday, May 23, 2013

Decisions, Decisions! A quilty pattern round up

Still nothing to share, because its still raining. Actually, today was mostly sunny, but I went to work and came home in the dark (I have a 40 minute commute, and get a 30 minute lunchbreak, so no taking photos at lunch either. I'm getting to the stage I'm thinking of taking things I want to photograph to work). Lets hope for some sunshine in the weekend!

In the mean time, I thought I'd share a quick round-up of quilty patterns I've been considering for my SECOND quilt ever. I had a few criteria I was looking for:  a modern aesthetic that will suit our bedroom decor, precut friendly and preferably free. Here's the shortlist:











I have a feeling it might be a choose one for now, do some of the others later type decision. Which one is your favourite? Any others you think I should throw into the pool? You can see some of my runners up on my pinterest board Quilty Goodness

P.S I feel like I should explain why I'm going for precut quilts for now. A. I don't have a full size cutting board or ruler yet B. The quilt shops in my region have a very traditional focus (the nearest modern quilt store is over two hours away) and are also EXPENSIVE. Precuts make buying online, often from the other side of the world, more cost effective and means I get to play with modern prints a bit more often. But I think I need to start a sampler quilt soon, to start upping my skills!

Monday, May 20, 2013

IHSW May: Spot the difference!

Joining in with International Hermit and Stitch Weekend over at Random Ramblings


For something different I've been trying my first piece of hardanger. It's been interesting trying to get my head around it! Here's before the weekend


After much much pulling out and restitching, here's where I ended up (to be fair, there also wasn't a lot of stitchy time over the weekend).


Spot the progress! (the first photo is true to the colours). I think I have my head around it now, though I'm a bit nervous about the whole cutting holes in it thing that is still to come. It's fun, and I'm loving the colours in the caron thread.

Sarah

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cross Stitching: Chats sont gris

This one was just a quick stitch, an additional mother's day present for my mum. I'm hoping to find a frame for it soonish. It's a sweet pattern, though I think the sentiment is a little random (the French on the left translates as 'all cats are grey in the dark'



Pattern: 'La nuit, tous les chats sont gris' from Sweet Home: Petites maisons a broder au point de croix
Threads: DMC 4045
Time: April-May 2013

These photos aren't the best really. The weather has been awful for the past few weeks. That's why it's been quiet around here this week. Plenty to share, no light to take pictures in! Hopefully I can get a better photo once it's framed!
 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Book Review: Skirt-A-Day Sewing

This post originally appeared on my book blog, The Everyday Reader


 Design a skirt for every day of the week! With these 28 irresistible projects, you’ll learn all the techniques you need to custom-design and sew fabulous skirts that fit you perfectly.

Skirt-A-Day Sewing, by Nicole Smith

In Skirt-A-Day Sewing Nicole Smith guides you through the process of designing your own skirts from scratch, using four different styles (wrap, straight, flared and high-waisted) and multiple variations on those styles to create 28 unique projects.

On the plus side, the projects are all unique and appealing. They easily cover the variation in skirts that a home seamstress could wish for. The instructions given are well-written, thorough and easy to follow, with plentiful professional looking diagrams. I can actually say it’s probably some of the best instruction I’ve seen in a sewing title, which so often are wordy with not enough pictures. The instructions here are perfectly clear, using concise language. The diagrams seem perfectly placed to help you through the difficult bits. I’ve seen very few titles on pattern drafting for the modern home crafter (the several I own are all from the 80′s or earlier), so the title definitely fills a hole.

But, I think what it comes down to is that this book just tries to be too much. That, or it’s not being marketed quite right. From the blurb I expected a title that concentrated more on altering four included patterns to suit your needs, rather than drafting completely from scratch. The blurb also specifically states that the book is suitable for the beginning sewers. That is truly a stretch. I think there a very few beginners that would feel confident enough to dive into pattern drafting, despite the wealth of information from fabric types to ironing needs included in the introductory sections. Not to mention the expense that they would have to go to set themselves up. I’d consider myself an intermediate seamstress and getting towards intermediate dressmaker and I own less than half of the equipment listed in the book as essentials for its projects. At the same time, two large chapters are dedicated to topics like interfacing and how to hem neatly, effectively redundant subjects for those with dressmaking experience. By trying to hard to be too much Skirt-A-Day Sewing falls short of the niche where it could be extremely successful: an on-trend and modern guide to beginner’s pattern drafting for the experienced home dressmaker.

3/5 stars

Skirt-A-Day Sewing is released on May 15th


Disclaimer: I received an advanced reader copy of Skirt-A-Day Sewing thanks to Netgalley and Storey Publishing. I received no other form of compensation and was not obligated to share my review. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Recipe: Rhubarb and White Chocolate Muffins

If you're looking for my Sew Mama Sew Giveaway, find it here

We're still trying to use up rhubarb around here. One of our neighbours keeps leaving it on our doorstep. Which is lovely, but there's only so much rhubarb two people can eat! I had an idea that rhubarb and white chocolate might work well together, so went hunting for recipes. Unfortunately, almost everything I found involved buttermilk, which isn't the easiest thing to find here. So I did a bit of adapting, and came up with this:




Rhubarb and White Chocolate Muffins

  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup white/castor sugar
  • 100 grams melted butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped into 1-2cm pieces
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate buttons 

Preheat oven to 220C, or 430F. This might seems hot for baking, but rhubarb is hard stuff and if it's not that hot you'll have lovely cooked muffins with rock hard bits of rhubarb in them. Prepare a 12 muffin tin. Sift together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, sugar). Separately, combine melted butter, milk and egg, whisking well. Add liquid, rhubarb and chocolate to dry ingredients. Mix gently, being careful not to overmix! It should still be lumpy and slightly floury. Split mixture evenly between muffin cups and bake for 12-14 minutes until muffin's spring back slightly when pressed.

Hope you enjoy! They're lovely warm (though just as nice cold).

Sarah


Monday, May 6, 2013

It's Giveaway Day!!!

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
Congrats to Stephanie of Quarter Incher
 


Hello all you lovelies from Sew Mama Sew (and those of you that are usually here too). It's giveaway day! Head back over there to check out the hundreds of other giveaways going on around the crafty side of the web this week.


So who am I, I hear you ask? I'm Sarah. I'm in my early twenties and live in the South Island of New Zealand with my relatively newish husband (the shinyness hasn't worn off yet!). Librarian by day, crafty minx by night :-D I have an aversion to showing my face on the internet, so you usually just get to see the ultra-mysterious back of my head. Or in this case, mostly my back.


What do I do here? I started off as a cross stitcher and still do a lot of that. I just finished one of my biggest stitches ever, the glorious Iris in Bloom, for my mum. Not so long ago I quilted MY FIRST EVER quilt. That's right, first ever, though I suspect there will be a few more in future. I also dabble in dressmaking, and bagmaking, like the get-around bag. Occasionally I share our travels, some recipes and review books (before they're released even).


So nice to meet you! I hope you take the time to have a look around. If you'd like to come back again sometime, you can follow me using one of the options in the sidebar over on the right.

Now to the good stuff! What am I giving away? Firstly, because I'm a cross stitcher, two cute patterns from one of my favourite designers, Lizzie Kate.


 I'm also throwing in three lovely fat quarters from my LQS. Because supporting local stores is awesome. Don't you just love the retro ladies?



I'm happy to ship anywhere in the whole wide world. To enter, please just leave one comment telling me one thing you are planning on doing today (besides enter lots of giveaways). You don't have to be a follower to enter. I'll probably be going to spend an hour or so at the swimming pool!

Giveaway will close May 10th at 5pm PST. If you're a no-reply blogger, PLEASE leave a way for me to get in touch with you. 

Thanks for visiting!

Sarah

Saturday, May 4, 2013

I'm on Twitter (or as husband puts it, I'm now a twit)!

I've been a Twitter hold out for a long long time. But thanks to a course I'm doing at work, I've taken the plunge (only slightly forced, I promise). Now I'm having lots of thoughts along the lines of 'how on earth do I make this thing work???!!!' and 'oooohhhh BBC Breaking News in two sentence snippets is kind of awesome'


Because I may as well make the most of it, I've added a twitter button to my connect with me sidebar over on the right there. I'd love it if you'd come and help me figure this out!


Hope you're having a great weekend! I'll be back Monday for SewMamaSew giveaway day!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Finally Finished. . . Iris in Bloom!

So, after almost a year (I started this mid-May 2012), Iris in Bloom is finished. It counts among the biggest pieces I've ever stitched and was BY FAR the most complex in terms of shading and confetti stitching. All that purple!! (not to mention all that green!!)


Worth it? Totally. It's gorgeous. And it's for my mum. Which quite honestly makes most things worth it. Even a year late mother's day present. I'm not sure how she wants to frame it, so it's unfinished for now.

 Pattern: Iris in Bloom
Threads: DMC as charted
Time: May 2012-April 2013

I don't think I'm going to be doing another piece this big for a little while. Even if I have several John Clayton for Heritage patterns calling to me. It's time for some smalls, some easy finishes. I'm thinking of some hardanger just to mix it up a bit. Just for a little while! 


You can see Iris in progress here, here and here

That's all for now,

Sarah