Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Two words...

Enid Gilchrist.

Ever heard of her?  

If you answered no, then you are most likely under the age of 40, and if you answered yes, well then, you're probably a bit older :), or unusually well-versed in Australian fashion / sewing / design history.  

If you're like me (under the age of 40, and not very well-versed in Australian history, let alone sewing / fashion / design), then your mind may have very well immediately conjured up images of Noddy and Big Ears.

Wrong Enid.  

Between the '50s and '70s Enid Gilchrist was a household name.  In a time when buying commercially-made clothes and patterns was simply too expensive for the average family, Enid brought fashion to the masses through her self-drafting pattern books.  Published by New Idea, these affordable magazines held up to 50 different styles and made it possible for everyone, not just the wealthy, to wear the latest fashions.

The Wife Made It Blog {Wife-made}

What a topsy-turvey world we live in, hey?  To think that once upon a time it was more expensive to buy clothes than make them.  This was obviously prior to the international availability of sweat shops and child labour {insert raised eyebrows}.  And to think that not being able to sew your own clothes would have been the exception, rather than the rule.

Call me old-fashioned, but it's a dream of mine to be able to sew clothes for myself.   I don't just mean the odd pencil skirt, or elastic waisted boxer shorts.  I mean REALLY sew for myself.  Like fitted dresses, and tailored shirts, and pants, and whatever else takes my fancy.  To wear my own take on the latest fashions, without looking home-made or daggy.

*sigh*  One day.

So, getting back to the reason for this post, I have only recently become acquainted with Enid and her pattern books.  I now have a few of the mags from the kids clothing collection and every now and then I get them out and pore over them, adoring the little outfits and wondering how they would turn out if I made one.  Wondering, wondering, wondering...  

You see, there's something about the fit that I can't quite take to.  While I love the '50s and '60s styles, I'm not too keen on the whole 'Harry High-pants' thing some of them have going on.  And then the potato sack, straight up and down, no shape tunics aren't that flash either.    I'm probably after more of a modern vintage look, combining the best of both worlds :)

Nevertheless, the other night I finally bit the bullet.  I set aside my expectations and perfectionist tendencies and decided to just give it a shot.  I must admit, I didn't pick my pattern by closing my eyes and pointing at one.  I was selective.  It had to be the one with the greatest chance of turning out reasonably wearable :)  And, at the time the gathered blouse with peter pan collar seemed most likely.

Close enough.  It's wearable.  Sure, Rosie will probably pull me aside one day in the future and ask me what the heck I was thinking dressing her in a shirt like that.  It's kind of cute, in a very, very, very vintage way, but probably erring more on the plain old-fashioned side of vintage, if you get my drift.

So, if you haven't already guessed, I'm not completely sold on it.  I admit, it is slightly too big for her, so I should probably give her a couple of months and then have another look, but I think the collar is slightly over-sized, and the gathers a little too full.  It also has that very 'blouse-ey' look.  You know, the look that the word 'blouse' conjures up all on its own.  Like, a blouse is what an old lady wears...  Ech.  Maybe I didn't make the wisest choice when deciding which design to have a go at.  I might have done better if I had closed my eyes and let my finger do the choosing.

Anywho, the point is, I had a go.  It wasn't a total failure.  I might be able to resurrect it given I team it with the right skirt or shorts or pants.  What do you think?  I'd love to get some comments, be they positive or negative.  And I would also love to hear if you grew up with Enid Gilchrist patterns!

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Wednesday, 19 September 2012

My "eclectic, modern, vintage, retro, a dash of shabby-chic, french provincial and whatever else I happen to like" style

I don't know if you could say I have a 'style' as such.  I just like what I like.  So, maybe that means I have an eclectic style?  Which, according to Dictionary.com (my go-to), means:


selecting or choosing from various sources.
made up of what is selected from different sources.
not following any one system, as of philosophy, medicine,etc., but selecting and using what are considered the best elements of all systems.
noting or pertaining to works of architecture, decoration,landscaping, etc., produced by a certain person or during certain period, that derive from a wide range of historic styles, the style in each instance often being chosen for its fancied appropriateness to local tradition, local geography,the purpose to be served, or the cultural background of the client.

Yeah, that's probably me then.  Although, if you looked at my house at the moment, you would say I had an 'early to mid 90s feature wall on EVERY wall' kind of style, with a little bit of DIY mosaicing, for added effect :(

If you're not sure what I mean, my husband likes to say that there are only two walls that meet up in our house that are actually painted the same colour.  Now, that may be a slight exaggeration, but he's not far off.

Yep, we're not lacking in colour, that's for sure.  We've got mustard, red, brown, custard cream, beige and, if we hadn't renovated a quarter of the house by now, we'd still have aubergine (yes, the colour of eggplants) and khaki.  Those last two colours were the walls and ceilings, respectively, of the second, third and fourth bedrooms.  Oh, and don't forget the texturing, just to make renovating life a little more difficult.

Hey, don't look at me, we bought it like that! :)  

Just for a treat, here's a current photo of our main toilet.

Don't you just love the pink grout teamed with the clever use of fish tank pebbles and smashed floor tiles?

My husband is itching to do something temporary with this toilet, purely out of embarrassment, but I'm pushing to wait until we do up the bathroom and toilets properly.  I guess I must use the toilet so much I don't even really see how horrible it is anymore :)  I'd be happy just to put up a sign requesting frequenters to not judge us or our choices by this toilet - ha!

Anyway, I don't know why I've been thinking about my style.  Maybe because I've been sewing clothes for other people's children and you get to see a little bit about them in the fabrics and styles they choose?  Or, maybe because we've been talking about the next renovating stages in our house (exciting!!!!).

When it comes to kids clothes though, I think I tend more towards the modern vintage styles, which is probably why I love sewing with Oliver + S patterns.  I just finished the Oliver + S Family Reunion Dress for the Rosebud and I LOVE IT and can't wait to see her wear it.  She even has some shoes that will match it.  A-MAZ-ING.

This dress has some lovely features.  Like pin-tucked pleats on the front and back of the dress, a button tab, capped sleeves and an exposed neck facing.  Which all combine to create a dress that looks like it stepped out of that movie "The Help" (Which is probably one of the best movies ever.  Even my husband like it, and that's saying something.)

I am totally amazed at how neatly and beautifully finished the dress is.  Admittedly, it took me a whole day to make because the elements are quite involved and fiddly, but in making this dress I have expanded my repertoire of sewing techniques, which is fantastic.  I feel like a better sew-er now, just from making this one dress!

It doesn't matter what angle you look at this dress from, there's something special to see.

I didn't want to buy buttons for this dress so I scrounged through my button stash and managed (just) to find five similar size buttons for the back placket, and four for the front button tab.  I decided to do a bit of mis-matching again (my signature) and went with buttons that are the same colour, but each look a bit different.  The top one is my favourite, but together they look pretty cute.

I've had my eye on the fabric for a while now, so when it came on sale I grabbed some.  It's perfect for this dress.  Another watercolour-style print.

Another addition to the Rosebud's Spring/Summer collection (la-di-dah!).   We're getting there.  

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Monday, 10 September 2012

The Wall.

My entry into Shwin&Shwin's Link Party  sponsored by Appliances Online.

So, we've got this wall in our house.

What??  A WALL, you say??

Yes, several actually.  But there's this one wall.

A wall that vexed me for many a month.

I have often wondered what to do with this wall.  You know.  Late at night, when sleep is evading me.  Or when I'm in the 'thinking room' (aka the toilet).

One thought was to remove it.  But no, couldn't do that because there's a fireplace on the other side.

Another thought was to put a cupboard or shelves on it.  But no, couldn't do that either because there's a door at one end of it that would be partially blocked.

And I didn't want to just put a picture on it like so many other walls in this world.

And so you see my conundrum.

And finally, one day, while Pinteresting, or surfing the net, or reading a home decorating magazine, or something along those lines, I had a brainwave.

A GIANT BLACKBOARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Being one of those people that don't like things stuck to the fridge I have often wondered what I was going to do when my children began presenting me with their artistic creations, expecting them to take pride of place on the fridge, like in many other homes.  And so the giant blackboard gradually morphed into a giant, MAGNETISED blackboard.  Solutions all round!  

So I filed the idea away in my head several months ago, quietly waiting until I had the time and inclination to actually make good on it.  And finally I have.  Of course, there's no better time than just before hosting a major event in your home.  I find that there is nothing more motivating than a good deadline.

And my lovely husband humoured me :)  The conversation went something like this...

Me, on the phone to my husband: "I'm going to paint that wall into a giant, magnetised blackboard."
Husband: "So you mean I'LL end up painting that wall into a giant, magnetised blackboard?"

In the end it was a combined effort.  So, both the husband AND the wife made this one.  The husband did the bits that the pregnant wife couldn't (usually involving extremely smelly paint).

And I couldn't be happier with it.

I used it for the first time to show the menu of the dinner party my husband and I hosted last night.  And the Rosebud gave it a work out this morning as well :)

I have a retro-look metal clock from Ikea especially for the new wall, and I've got a few ideas to put some photos on it, but for now I like it just as it is.  A reminder of the delicious food we devoured last night.

It was quite simple to do, and a 'relatively' (because cost is extremely relative, as I'm sure you know) budget-friendly project (approximately $120, but we already had paintbrushes and rollers so the price will jump up a bit if you have to invest in these items as well.  This was just for the primers and paint).

To start with, I removed any hooks or nails that were in the wall.  Then, using one of these thingies (a palette knife, I think??  I should know this, my Dad is a plasterer after all!)...

I scraped off any chunky bits to make sure it was as smooth a finish as possible (my Dad taught me that bit!).  Then, I bogged up any holes left behind from the nails, or dints or any imperfections I wanted covered up, using Polyfilla (not sure what the generic name is for this type of product... hole-filler-upper-er?).

The wall took on a dalmatian-esque look for a little while...

Then, (here's where the husband stepped in), the wall got a really good sanding, with some fairly fine sandpaper, just to get it even smoother and the first coats of primer were applied.  I say coats plural because to make the wall magnetised you use a specific magnetic primer.  We applied three thin coats of magnetic primer to the bottom half of the wall, and the top right quarter.  The top left was left unmagnetised (at $40/L I was on rations!) and primed using a normal one-coat-only primer.  The priming stage was done over a day, to allow for drying time between coats.

Next, using a roller, we applied three coats of chalkboard paint.  Only two is necessary, but I wasn't happy with the rills that I had left behind from using the roller, so I did another coat.  And, after leaving for 48 hours to harden, you're done! A giant, magnetised chalkboard wall.  Ready to use.

It's a great little feature to have in the home.  It's something that I can see will be well-used by my little family.  And I can also see the need to make sure Rosie understands it's only ok to draw on ONE wall in the house!  

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Thursday, 6 September 2012

The Oliver + S Bubble Dress

The Wife Made It

I am in love with the silhouette of this dress.  So sweet, with its little capped sleeves and bubble skirt.

The Wife Made It

The fabric is a Japanese-made cotton voile in a vintage print, which I totally love.  The grey background would be quite muted without the vibrancy of the flowers.  The royal blue, rich purples and burnt yellows are very striking.

The Wife Made It

I chose little square, opalescent buttons in matching yellow for the back.  Definitely going to have to make one of these for the Rosebud.

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Wednesday, 5 September 2012

At ease with an ocean breeze...

Have you guessed what we did on the weekend?

I don't know about you, but for me, packing for a few days away is nearly as bad as packing for a 7 week overseas holiday.  No matter how organised I try to be I am always running around at the last minute like a headless chicken, mentally ticking things off the 'Must Do Before We Leave' and 'Absolutely Must Not Forget' lists.  

There's a bit of a running joke in our household about how I always manage to pack badly for myself.  For example, we got married in May.  May = end of Autumn = cool weather.  No brainer.  For our honeymoon Daniel organised a house in Byron Bay.  At the beach.  But, in my un-beached mind, beach = hot.  No matter what season, and despite the fact that Byron Bay is in northern New South Wales.  

So I packed for Summer.  And, in true end-of-Autumn fashion, it was cold and wet.  And there I was, in my slappers and jeans (one of the few warm things I did manage to pack), trying to keep warm while berating my new husband for not telling me it was going to be cold.  He did say, after all, that we were going to the beach.  

This time I actually managed to pack for myself without forgetting anything.  And I even managed to make a new hat for the Rosebud the morning before we left.  Nothing like a bit of last minute sewing to get the juices flowing.  

See that look on her face?  That pretty much describes what she thinks about the hat.  

But I like it.  And, at 15 months old, that's all that matters :)

I used the Oliver + S Bucket Hat pattern and widened the brim (like here) to make sure all that beautiful skin was well protected.  And I added a pom-pom edging for a bit of pretty (like here).

The great thing about this hat pattern is that I'll be able to make one for the little boy that will be joining our family around Christmas time.  Maybe without the pom-poms though.

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Monday, 3 September 2012

Germy germ germs...

So we've all heard the gross stories about shopping trolleys and the germs they harbour, right?  How they have more germs on them than a toilet seat and are the most effective way of catching hand, foot and mouth should you so desire... yeah, you know the stories.

Well, I can't prove those 'facts' to be true, although, having done many shopping trips and having seen many shopping trolleys and the many people that touch said trolleys, it really wouldn't surprise me if it was true, which brings me to the purpose of this post...

The Shopping Trolley Cover.

I would say that this is probably one of those items that many people buy with good intentions, but which gets quickly forgotten in the multitude of bits and pieces that parents already have to drag around with them when kids arrive on the scene.  At least, I can imagine this is how it would pan out for me, despite how many times I have been completely grossed out upon turning around to find the baby sucking on the trolley handle.  Urgh.

Which is why I admire my sister-in-law for actually using them consistently.  Apparently though, the ones that are readily available at your local Target or Big W are expensive and pretty ugly.

So, I made one for my new, little nephew.

(Like I've said before, Rosie is not a very cooperative model at the moment.  She was mid "No!" when this shot was taken.)

After much scouring of pattern books, calling fabric stores and surfing the net, I finally found a pattern I was happy with.  And, to top it off, not only was it pretty easy to make, but the pattern was... FREE.  Thank-you Lil Blue Boo!

I love free stuff.  But I love it even more when a pattern turns into what I expected.  Like this one.  It says it is a universal shopping trolley cover, and that's just what it is.  I was a little worried it wouldn't fit Australian trolleys (I don't know how universal these things are!?), but it does, with room to spare.

The pirate-themed fabric should hide any dirty marks left behind by little hands (between washes, of course).

The pattern has an elasticised pocket and tags to attach toys to, so you aren't constantly bending over to pick up whatever was dropped (read: purposely thrown) on the floor.

I decided not to elasticise the pockets on this one... simply because it was late at night when I made this and my brain wasn't exactly working at normal speed.  I'm sure it's not hard, but it was a little too much for me to figure out at 11pm at night :(

Now that I'm looking at it though, I think a zipper could be another option... also not one to attempt late at night.

The leg holes are bound with bias-binding.  You could do it with the main fabric as the pattern shows, but I liked the red contrast.

I also padded it with batting, for a little extra comfort.  I imagine those trolleys aren't too comfortable for little bottoms after a couple of hours of sitting.

Admittedly, it's pretty pricey to make.  Despite being more attractive, it isn't a cheap alternative to the ugly mainstream options.  It uses a lot of fabric.  But really, there's no comparison between pirate print and brown spots, is there??

So now I have two more things to add to my 'To Do' list.

1. Make a cover for my kids, and 2. Remember to use it.


Oliver + S Swingset Tunic

At the fabric shop the other day I stumbled across this beautiful watercolour violets quilting cotton and had to get it.  It has a lovely vintage-y parchment-y look to it that caught my eye.

And when I got home, this is what it turned into!  Ha!  If only it were that simple :)  

I'm really happy with my first Oliver + S production - the Swingset Tunic.  

In my humble opinion, the pattern is great.  The difficulty rating is two scissors, which I would agree with as there were a few fiddly bits.  I made the 12-18 month size (the Rosebud is 15 months old) and I'm thinking it should be good for Spring and Summer this year.  It currently fits well with a shirt underneath (still chilly enough for that) and will be great for when the weather really warms up.  

So far we've paired it with skinny jeans, a little yellow cardigan and the yellow Country Road sandals from this post.

There is nothing more fulfilling than being completely happy with the final result of your hard work.  The quilting cotton is a nice weight and it hangs well.  But I am definitely going to make this one is some light, cool voiles, that will be just perfect for our stinkin' hot summers.  Needless to say, I am not looking forward to January when I'll be feeding a newborn WITHOUT air-conditioning :(

I've been eyeing off these tortoise-shell buttons I've had in my collection for while.  Just waiting until I had the right piece to add them to.  And I think I found it.  I like myself a little bit of mis-matching.

The first addition to the Rosebud's summer collection (all handmade by the wife, of course :)  Apologies for the lack of photos showing it being worn.  Rosie is not a very cooperative model at the moment...  I will keep working on this!!

P.S.  If you'd like to purchase a little Swingset Tunic made by the wife, please contact me through my Facebook store (Wife-made), or send me an email and I can give you the details :)

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