Tuesday, July 02, 2024

Farewell to Single Digits

Just like that, Rachel is 10. 

As with Sophie, we celebrated with a room make over for the birthday girl. Rachel is a bit of a hoarder of the most random stuff, so I was honestly pretty stoked to have a reason to completely empty her room and start with a clean slate. She had a lot of random boxes that she often just piled things into that I was resolute were not returning. We emptied it all out into the living room and I began painting.

Thankfully, Rachel did come to the party and the clean out was not too painful. I think it helped that a couple of weeks earlier, Maria had done a sewing machine upgrade and given her old one to Rachel. Within half an hour of having it, the sewing machine was set up and making heat packs, which was great, but Rachel did notice that it was tricky with all the other stuff on her desk. 

The colour chosen for the feature wall (done with much less deliberation than Sophie) was Hot Pop Blue. I was a little dubious, but on the wall it just looks bright and fresh. Also a bit Greek Island holiday. She used birthday money to buy her desk and is planning on a cow-themed chair or curtains too. 

Rachel has been leaning hard into her love of cows for at least the last twelve months. She's had her beloved cow Moo-Moo since Christmas of 2019 and Mini Moo-Moo since January last year. Maybe it was Mini Moo-Moo that really increased her interest in these funny animals. In any case, when it came to her birthday cake, she asked for a cow. 

And I delivered. 

We had a family afternoon tea with onigiri, cheese twists, fruit, pumpkin scones and a cheese board. All easy fare and enough kids among all the cousins and family friends to keep everyone occupied for a couple of hours of eating and playing. 

Happy birthday Rachel. We love you; crazy, cows, double digits and all. 

Monday, July 01, 2024

Sashiko

Knowing that our travel around Japan for two weeks in April would involve lots of train rides (not to mention the plane rides!) I wanted to pack something that I could easily stitch when we had a bit of time to keep my hands busy. My current project at the time was a hand-sewn kimono, which I guess would fit the bill, but was also a little bulky for our travel. 

I had borrowed a book from the library on sashiko, which is a style of Japanese and stitching that is becoming popular as a way to mend or repurpose clothes, and I wanted to give that a go. Two days before we were due to leave, I grabbed out some fabric from my stash and prepped with with four different designs to try out. 

There was a lot of prep work for this. You have to sew the fabric into a bit of a loop and then draw up a grid so you can trace your designs evenly. I ended up with four different designs, in what I hoped was going to be progressively challenging but not too far into the deep end for me. The girls were really keen on a tortoise shell design that was just a bit too much at first. 

You can see all the grid lines and the rough outline of the design I wanted to do here. 

I read all the rules on taking sewing things on planes and was fairly confident that I could get my housewife on board, but I did pack a spare set of everything, just in case. I also pre-cut a bunch of thread so if they took the scissors off me at security but left the needles, I could still get work done. 

As luck would have it, I didn't have any troubles getting the scissors through security, though they did tell me that if I flew out of Sydney or Melbourne it would be a different story. I started stitching the first one on the plane over - please excuse the photo in the cramped seats of economy and with the bad plane lighting. :P 

My guide lines are on the other side, but this was starting to look good!

I took these with us when we went to Hakone and sewed them on the pirate ship on Lake Ashi, and also on the shinkansen to and from Tokyo. They were perfect. I did a bit of experimenting with different colours for the boarders and in the designs as I got more confident too. 

I'm pretty dang proud of how they turned out, though I'm not sure what exactly to do with them now. Possibly turn them into featured sides of a reusable bag? Or make a zippered pouch out of them? The cool thing is they are very reversible, but I'm not sure how the stitching will hold up if being attacked by pencils all day, so I feel I'd have to line it with something anyway. 

That however is a problem for another day. For now, these are done and were the perfect thing to travel Japan with us. 

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Kimono Sewing

I haven't made a kimono (or yukata) since 2022 when I made four in one year, all by hand, but I was digging through my stash at the start of the year, looking for a simple hand sewing project to keep my hands busy at church and I found one. This fabric came in a bunch of hand me down stuff that a friend of mine gave me ages ago. In the same batch as the fabric I used for this despair dress maybe? And I'd had that fabric in my stash for ages before I used it last August (like, I think I used a part of it to cover a display board back when I was running a family day care in 2018 or 2019). Anyway, I had just thought it was a bunch of fabric, but when I unfolded it all, I realised it was actually a pre-cut kimono. 

A little known fact about kimono is that you don't really wash them. Since you wear other layers underneath, the kimono (or yukata) is the not right next to the skin and just gets aired after use and spot cleaned if needed. Eventually, if your kimono does need a wash, you actually unstitch the entire thing and wash the fabric strips. Since the fabric is just rectangles and only has one cut for the shoulders on the main body pieces, see the photo below (these are tacked closed with a basting stitch for the washing process), this works totally fine and you sew it back together once it's all dry. 

It's been pretty cool to start sewing this knowing that someone else has already worn it and took the time and care to take it apart to launder it properly before passing it on. Unfortunately, it does also mean that it was cut to the size of the previous owner, who was shorter than me. I have the ability to make a few adjustments in the sewing though, so I was hopeful I'll still be able to get some wear out of it when I'm done.

I took it to church a little bit at a time (you start with just the sleeves) and stitched away while listening to the sermons. I started it back in March, but if you are only sewing an hour or so a week, it's a project that's going to take some time. I also took it to the P&C meetings that I didn't have to take notes at, since I've stepped down as secretary, so that added a bit of time. 

I guess it didn't really take too long after all, since I worked on it in March, missed most of April and then finished it in May. For a project that was only getting an hour a week on average, that's a pretty quick turn around. When I tell people that I sew kimono, they are generally impressed, but the reality is, it's all rectangles and straight sewing, so it's honestly about as simple as it can get. 

Anyway, it's done now! I put it on with trepidation last week and to my delight it fits perfectly! I won't go into the details of what I adjusted or how I thought it was going to turn out unless people comment/ask, but given that you'd probably really need to be into either sewing or kimono (or both), I'm not expecting it. Happy to be surprised though. 

I absolutely love the feel of this kimono. The fabric is a beautiful cotton with a satin like feel and it is just fantastic to wear. Good thing I have a job that warrants wearing these pretty frequently! By the way I missed sewing this in April during our Japan travels since it was a little big to take as a project for the plane, but I did take something else, so I'll update you on that next time. Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 06, 2024

Hats!

After we lost Sophie's hat somewhere in Japan, I noticed that both my girls were struggling with what to wear to school. Even though Rachel still had hats and there was even one offical school hat in the basket, neither of them were wearing them. I wonder if Rachel's old ones have actually gotten too small for her but she hasn't put two and two together yet and is just avoiding them since they are now uncomfortable. 

Anyway, as always with a problem, I turn to sewing for a solution and with hats, there are plenty of sewing solutions to be found. Even though I had made hats for the girls before, I had found a new pattern from Liz Haywood that I wanted to try out. 

Did a quick look through my stash and came up with some options for fabrics, most of which were heavy weight enough not to warrant any interfacing, so that was good. Then I sat down, cut out and sewed some hats. Why make just one for the daughter who truely needs it, when you can make one for each daughter with a spare just in case? 

Rachel's is actually made out of some more of this great Ikea fabric that I've used before in a dress and skorts. The one Sophie loves the most is made from some scrap fabric my mum gave me after making Sophie a dress out of it. I think it came from Japan and is a navy blue with kangaroos in various wrestling poses on it. 

The only one I made fully reversible was this other one for Sophie. It was made from a fat quarter of space fabric that I had lying around. The inside is lined with a grey pillowcase that I got from a friend who works for Lorraine Lea. It might be last the last of the pillowcases she gave me to sew with a few years ago. 

But even though it's fun and reversible, Sophie is yet to wear it beyond these photos. Oh well!


Monday, June 03, 2024

Greek Easter

Taking a break from sewing, here is a post about food! Greek, or Orthodox, Easter is something that my family have always celebrated to some extent. Sometimes it lines up with "normal" Easter and we enjoy the long weekend at the same time as the regular folk do, and other times (more often than not) it's on a completely different weekend. 

This year, it was at least a month after Easter was celebrated by most Aussies. My parents had skipped the country on another travelling adventure, but I still wanted to have some Greek Easter festivities. So for the first time in my life, I made the Greek Easter Bread (Tsoureki) and the Greek Easter Biscuits (Koulourakia) and dyed the eggs red. 

It was honestly really strange doing all of these things myself since my mum has always been in charge of them, and before that, her mum or aunts. Greek cooking is very matriarchal it seems. The girls helped with the short bread (below), which again, was special to share with them. 

It was a real delight to have family and friends over to share the roast lamb and all the other things I take for granted at Easter time that others have never experienced. We all said the Greek greetings and had fun cracking the eggs. It was honestly just so great to be together with people we loved too, and felt very much "out of Covid" at last. 

Yay for Greek Easter. I'm honestly so lucky to celebrate what Jesus did for us twice every year. 

Saturday, June 01, 2024

Rachel's Sewing Adventures

Just another snapshot. Rachel spontaneously made this at the end of Term 1 for her teacher from last year. 


Miss Bunney liked her new creature and promised Rachel she would put it in her collection of Special Things From Students. 

Monday, May 20, 2024

Pre-Flight Sewing

Something that can make you feel pretty amazing is when you notice the new jeans your daughter has just put on in the last half hour that previously had a "cool stressed knee patch" look, now have a "obvious hole in the knee" look. Well, maybe not that realisation, but ten minutes later when you have finished the emergency knee patch right before you walk out the door to fly to Japan you sure do. 


Rachel's jeans have the quickest turn around of mending I've ever made in any clothes. Usually, whatever needs some TLC languishes on my sewing desk for a few months at least before I can bother to do anything with it. Even the smallest fix needing the least amount of my time and effort. 


These however, got done in the speediest way I've ever worked. I actually sacrificed a perfectly good rectangle of fabric to cut a square off for the patch. The little cat that would end up peaking out of the hole in the jeans was well worth it.