Thursday, December 30, 2010


 Here is O'Reilly, Irish Wolfhound......all 8 weeks of age.   We picked him up from Tullamarine Airport this afternoon.     He is pictured with the remnants of yoghurt on his nose.    No sooner had we got him in the car than he curled up and slept for an hour until we got him home.    Below is O'Reilly enjoying his second nap for the evening.   I trust this means I will not be up between 12 and 2 am entertaining him!

Harv is very interested in O'Reilly's bed -  the introduction to the cats has been relatively good (so far).   I guess Norman will show his displeasure soon by peeing on something.      I have the mop and bucket handy.

My husband, who was keen to have a lap dog but gave up/in when I scoured the Eastern Seaboard looking for a Wolfhound pup, is totally smitten.   O'Reilly has been referred to in the past weeks as "halfahorse". 

Happy New Year

Sue xxx

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Well, another Christmas crossed off the list.    Now to kick back and wait for Melbourne to stop producing liquid sunshine and get going with some of the real stuff.    My husband will tell you that I am not a fan of the heat - (although he can never understand why he can get around the house in shorts in the middle of winter when the ducted heating and the wood fire have the house in the vicinity of a balmy 27 C and I then complain when the weather warms up and gets over 23 C) but even  I am sick of the rain.   

Above are some "glimpses" of the tree skirt I started this year.   This is version no.2.    The tree skirt saga started after I had been on the "Designs by JuJu" site. After taking advantage of one of her sales, I added a few more North Pole designs to my considerable collection of machine embroidery designs and in a rash move, decided a beautiful piece of fabric that had been laying around for a couple of years - originally purchased to make a heavy jacket - looked like the perfect canvas for a tree skirt.     I knew it had been washed a couple of times already, because it was one of Norman's favourite sleeping fabrics.   The fabric was a lovely fake suede look on one side and polar fleece arrangement on the other.    Did I give any thought to how such a wonderful fabric may have been produced?  NO.   I had sewn about 4 designs when "The Beast" aka the PR600, began having a cow and telling me every 20 stitches, that there was an "issue" with the bobbin or the upper thread.   Did I give any thought that it may have been the fabric? NO.   So I begged the repair man to come and check "The Beast" out,  and we did samples on other fabric, and he changed all the needles and she began to sew again.  So we decided it was the brand of needles, and he left and I continued on with the next design.  Needless to say, he had no sooner left the building than the problems started again.   I deemed that as I was already 5 designs in and it was (in my mind anyway) beyond the point of no return, to continue.    Closer inspection revealed that the needles were becoming coated in a sticky substance.   Did I stop here? NO.    So I pressed on and on, until I had successfully completed the 16 designs.  I was going to do more houses and it was going to be soooo lovely.   I decided before adding the snow border, that some trees were needed to give the street scene that little something extra, so between all the designs I added trees, all the time taking needles out of the machine, soaking them in metho, cleaning the scarf of the needles to remove the glue, until I had finished.   (At some point in all of this, I discovered that my beautiful fabric was actually two layers of fabric glued together - hence the sticky glue on the needles).   Behold the tree skirt was finished as far as the embroidery was concerned.  As I had drawn lines  all over to get even spacing  I thought I would give it a rinse, to remove everything before I added snow.     (Some of you will know where this is going).     What happened - the colour ran.  Everything was pink.  It ran with 5 dye catchers in the machine, it ran with oxyaction napisan, it ran with more dye catchers - it ran until I threw it in the bin.    There was two weeks sewing I wasn't getting back.

So above are glimpses of the second tree skirt.   Needless to say, it isn't finished, that will be my project to finish shortly, or before next Christmas, whichever comes sooner.   
I think I need to add a hat to Norman, and the title could be "Ho Bloody Ho".     Maybe next years Christmas card!     Oh wait, I forgot, I never remember to send them........    Harv looks good in a hat, although somewhat mournful and pitiful.
Having survived 6 years at the hands of these two, from kitten hood on, our previous Christmas tree went to the tip straight after last Christmas.    The new tree came in about 100 pieces, good luck putting that away, I hear you say.    However, the branches are a more dense than the previous tree, so Norman hasn't yet been able to work out how to climb it.   This means the new tree will live to see next Christmas.   This is Norman pretending he really didn't want to climb the tree and has found something more interesting to do (like wait for Harv to walk past).  
This is Nelly.   Nelly is my sisters dog.  Nelly thoroughly enjoyed Christmas Day.    There was lunch, there was mid afternoon snacks of bacon, and there was an expectation of dinner at some point later in the day.     Nelly had a great Christmas.    It is nice to see her smiling.    More often than not she looks like she has the worst life and yet quite the opposite is true.

Just before Christmas, the fish tank finally was placed in position.     Santa coughed up a few more camera accessories, including a flash, so I was able to get some better shots of the new fish.   Introducing (keeping in line with the Department Store names) Coles and Myer.   
You can almost see fish tonsils in this shot......
Needless to say, the tank and its occupants have kept Norm thoroughly entertained.
Of course, the camera was downstairs when this was taking place, I only had my iPhone on hand to take the shot, so the quality will not be great.
I'm just looking.....



Just as a teaser, there will be a new addition to the family this week.   I can't wait.     
  The tree and the decorations will be getting the flick pretty quick this year.    I think I will be busy sorting out disputes and territorial arrangements.    I am sure the phantom piddler will be keeping me on my toes as an act of revenge, but it wasn't like I haven't told him.......

See you soon.    Sue xxx

Sunday, November 14, 2010


What a fun but time consuming little project this turned out to be.    A basic pine cupboard, add some wheels, trim and a couple of doors, find some fantastic hardware and hey presto, a fish tank stand with an oriental inspired theme.  

Not too bad for a first attempt at decoupage.    The pictures were from odds and ends collected over the years. I pasted the  images on to a black background and then transformed them   in to watercolour sketches using Painter Essentials 4. I set the pictures up in a document  using Word and mirrored some of the images before photocopying them.    Cutting out was pretty laborious, as was going around every image with a black pencil to hide the cut edges.  18 coats of varnish and lots of sanding, I am putting the cue in the rack as it were.  Now to leave it for a week or two to let the varnish set well.   In the meantime I am in search of a filter for inside the cupboard and some decent sized goldfish!

I looked everywhere locally for the type of fittings on the cupboard and couldn't find anything like these.  I ended up here -Chinese Brass Hardware - took about 10 days to arrive from USA to Melbourne, great service.  

Bye for now.  Sue xxx

Saturday, October 30, 2010


As promised last week, here is the recipe for the aprons.   Please remember, I am not a pattern writer.   I have drawn diagrams to the best of my abilities, and hopefully, as there are a LOT of photo's you will be able to follow along.    The measurements on the chart are a starting point only.   It may be wise to  make a mock up first (top bit only), then you can determine where darts need to go and how big a dart is needed.   I used drill fabric for the black and pink aprons, and the floral apron is a poplin type fabric with a poplin lining.    The drill aprons are finished using a facing, the floral is a full lining.    Use of a lining fabric is recommended if the main fabric is a little thin.  

I purchased  1 1/2 metres of fabric (59 inches) at 112 wide.   This makes an apron 1 metre long (40 inches).  For the lined apron, I also purchased  1.10 metres/43 inches of lining fabric. There were bits left over, but I wanted to make sure I  had enough as I was working the aprons out as I went (and in the case of the floral apron I used all the floral up due to an  "unfortunate incident").   You will also need  3 - 4 metres (final length is personal preference, I like to tie mine around the front) of good quality herringbone tape - 1 inch wide (2.5cm).   Some are better than others, one of the ones I purchased had absolutely no body at all so I ended up making a strap.     Okay, here we go....
 Fold your fabric in half length ways.    I gave mine a light press.   Trim top to give a straight edge.  Measure desired length and cut.   At the top edge, make a mark - 1/2 the width of your above the bust measurement.  (On this sample it was 7 1/2 inches/19cm).   On the outside edge (length) measure down 12 to 14 inches (if you are high waisted 12 inches/30cm will probably do).    Draw a gentle curve between these two points.      The remaining fabric will be for the pocket and the facing.    Keep it folded.
This is the "armhole" for want of a better description.    If you want to vary the neckline with a "sweetheart" shape or any other shape that takes you fancy, you can draw this in and cut out also.

 Next, we have to draw out a facing.    This needs to be drawn on the fold (neck edge).   I used the apron piece I had just cut, as my pattern for this piece.   Trace the design and then across the neck edge, make a mark 3 inches/8cm down.   On the armhole edge, the facing doesn't quite have to be as deep - 2 inches/5cm will be sufficient.    Do place your drawing as close to the top of the fabric as possible to allow the waste to be used for the pocket. 
Use your tape measure to mark a cutting guide.   Here I am marking the facing at two inches and will use these marks as a cutting guide. 
Cut the facing out.   On the wrong side of the apron piece and the facing, mark your dart position.  As a starting point, try the dart at 3 1/2inches/9cm  in from the outside (armhole) edge.   Adjust as necessary.  I drew the straight line (dart centre) 3 inches /7.5cm long and then placed a mark at 1/2inch /1.5cm on either side of this line. I  then drew a line down to the  point - this gives you the centre of the dart and a stitching line. 

 You will notice on the facing for the pink apron, I didn't make the neckline facing  area as deep as I have stated in the above instructions.   This means that the dart point on the facing will not be able to be completed.   This works fine, just draw the lines using an imaginary finishing point and then sew accordingly. 
When pinning the two pieces together, make sure that one dart faces one way, and the other faces in the opposite direction so they butt up to each other nicely.

Sewing order is important in the project, for ease of finishing.    Pin the facing  - neck edge to neck edge - be very careful of the armhole areas as they are now bias edges - so treat them kindly!     Make a mark (or pin) as follows:   Armhole edge - mark at 6/8 inch, from this mark, make another mark at 1 1/4 inches, this is for the tape/strap slot.  Do the same on the other side.   You will now stitch a short seam, leave a gap of 1 1/4 inches, sew to the next mark, stop, leave a gap of 1 1/4 inches and then sew the remaining 6/8 inch measurement.   With the wrong side facing up, lightly press the seam open.     

 You are now going to do a little bit of top stitching around the holes you have just made.  
Now fold back, right sides facing and sew the rest of the facing on to the apron piece.  
If you have done a sweetheart neckline, you will need to clip the curves.   Turn right side out and gently press, making sure to roll the facing slightly to the back to give a neat finish on the front.   Using a small zigzag stitch, neaten the edge of the facing.   REMEMBER   follow the order of stitching, for ease of construction!

Now we will approach the side seams.  These were completed by folding over once and then folding a second time.   I used the glue stick to keep them in place, (pins will be sufficient) and gave a light press.  You can see from the photo that this seam incorporates the facing.  
Next is the hem.    You can see from the photos how this is folded. 
First fold.
 Second fold - nice neat corner.  
Now top stitch  in order - side, bottom, side.   

Now we have to take care of the armhole area.    Press the facing into postion and pin the facing down to stop any puckers.   First top stitch the outside edge.   Use the slits you made on the top edge as your guide.   Sew each of the two outside edges first.       Next, using the quilting guide, you are going to sew the channel for the tape.   To set the guide, line up your needle with the edge of the slit (it doesn't have to be bang on it - to the side slightly is fine) and adjust the guide until it sits on the top stitching line you have just sewn.

Sew the two channels.    You can now thread your tape.   Start on the side, come up through the neck slit, go back in through the other neck slit and come out back on the side.    Try the apron on before adding pockets.  Mark where the pockets should be placed.

The pockets are made from the leftovers.    I had enough left to make one piece for the front of the pocket, and joined the two pieces from the armhole scraps for the lining.   The best way to sew these is to leave a gap in the lining pieces and press open the seam.   With right sides together, sew all around the pocket shape in one piece and use the gap in the stitching to turn through.   This makes for a neater edge.  Slip stitch the seam together, press and top stitch the top edge.   Find the centre of your apron and the centre of the pocket, and sew in place.    My pocket is a  rectangle, with a centre seam forming two pockets.


For the fully lined apron, you will need to cut two pieces, one main and one lining fabric.    The darts and neckline will be cut  as above.     Again, mark your darts and pin and check that they fall well.  Adjust if necessary, and make the same adjustments to both pieces.  

Sew darts and press in opposite directions as per the facing style.    When sewing the darts, and to get a good sharp point, try the following - start at the widest part of the dart, with normal stitch length.   As you get closer to the point, start reducing your stitch length until the last 1/4 inch or sew your stitch length is 0.5.  Run off the fabric - don't back stitch, leave a small tail, done!
 There is a slight change of order, when doing the fully lined version of the apron.   Sew the neck edge first, leaving the holes for the tape/strap to feed through.    Press open as before and top stitch.  

Now you are going to carry out the same procedure for the sides, to make a slot for tape/strap.   This time, sew the short line of stitching, leave the same width gap and then stitch for 3 inches down the side of the apron.  This will make your top stitching around the hole easy to manage.    Once this step has been completed, you can sew the armhole seams on both sides.   Go back and finish sewing the side seams, top to bottom.     Leave the hem open.    Turn the apron right sides out. Carefully push corners out (remember to clip).   Press.    As before, top stitch the two armhole seams first, and make the channel.   Sew across the neck edge.  Then sew down the sides, taking care not to sew over the tape slits!!  

Turn up the hem, I folded twice to get a neat edge, and top stitch into place.

 Thread the strap through as before, try on and mark for pockets if desired.     I attached the pocket, sewing through both layers.

I hope the above instructions are clear and easy to follow, any questions, just ask.    I look forward to seeing some aprons in the coming weeks.  

Bye for now.   Sue xxx