Monday, March 29, 2010

New fabrics just in time for Easter

Three new fabrics just in and all from the divine Riley Blake, this time from the Summer Song collection. Taking it from the top we have Summer Flowers, Trees, and Summer Stripe, all in the pink colourway. Perfect timing for anyone wanting to get creative over the Easter break. Hooray for long weekends!

Oh, and speaking of long weekends, the Fabrication shop will be closed over Easter. You can still purchase online, but orders won't be posted until Tuesday.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A dilemma resolved

So, I know it's sometimes hard to tell what goes with what, especially when it comes to fabrics and you're thinking about buying them online (like from my shop). Problem is, it's sometimes tricky even when you've got all the fabrics staring you in the face. More often than not though, when this happens it isn't deciding which fabrics compliment each other that's the hard bit, it's deciding which one works best when you've got more than one to choose from. 

Take, for example, this divine fabric above called Autumn Floral (so named by me because it only came with a horrible number for a name, and that's not very helpful is it?!) from the Wa Nouveau collection. I loved it the minute I set eyes on it and instantly wanted to turn it into a bag. Problem is, the kind of bag that I wanted to turn it into required at least a second complimentary fabric to go with it to make the band and handles, and ideally also a third for the lining. Here beginneth my dilemma - when I started looking, I actually had too many choices. I had decided early on that I wanted to make the handle and band out of dark denim that I already had on hand, both for strength and because it looks lovely with this fabric, so that was fairly simple. But, when I started looking through my fabrics for a lining fabric I had not one, not two, not even three, but four very reasonable and lovely options.

As you can see from the pictures, each fabric combination certainly has its merits. For example (in order of the photos), I love the way the Floral Drop in Azure not only ties in the colours, but how the small flowers mirror the shape of the larger flowers in the Autumn Floral fabric. But, I also love the way the Green Stripe (also from the Wa Nouveau collection) livens up the colours in the Autumn Floral, and the way the Botanica Dots fabric is soft and subtle in its tonings. In the end, however, I went with the Simple Stripe in Frost. This surprised me a bit actually - it certainly wasn't the first fabric I picked up and thought of as an option, but it works because it draws out the lighter blues in the Autumn Floral (despite looking a bit insipid in the pic above). The main reason I chose it though - it is light coloured, so when you open the bag and are searching for your keys you don't need to shine a torch in there to find them. Remember that ladies - bags with light coloured linings make for less time rummaging around in the bottom of your purse!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

On dressing gowns ...

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love my dressing gown. I think I inherited this love from my mother, who has always worn one (well, for as long as I can remember anyway). I certainly know that it didn't come from my dad. He finds them loathesome and wouldn't be caught dead in one ... although I do remember one Christmas back in the early '80s when my grandma made my dad and two younger brothers matching "man-robes". Basically they were just bits of orange towelling that covered the bottom and not a lot else - a bit like tool-belts actually. I distinctly remember a photo of the three males in our family all lined up in front of the Christmas tree in their matching orange attire. I think that may have been the one and only time the "man-robes" were worn. Probably a good thing too as they didn't leave much to the imagination! 

My love of dressing gowns started in my early teens. You know that time of life where the weekends are made for sleeping-in and catching up with friends, and when you think it's entirely appropriate to still be walking around in your pjs at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Well, I'm a bit cold-blooded and I grew up in a large and very cold old villa (think ice on the inside of the windows in winter, no joke!), so it wasn't enough for me just to wear my pjs around the house. I needed a dressing gown, and it wasn't long until I got one. Dark green candlewick it was too. It weighed a ton but wearing it felt just about as good as still being snuggled up under layers and layers of wool blankets in bed. Of course it looked awful. The colour did absolutely nothing for me, and I'm pretty sure that candlewick is generally only used for bedspreads for a reason. Add to that the fact that it was full length and you've got yourself one very unattractive piece of attire. Still, it came with me to university (that candlewick is very hard-wearing!) and when it did eventually get threadbare I replaced it with a slightly more modern version. This time a white, knee-length dessing gown that showed up all the stains from where I'd drop my breakfast on it. While not as good as the first, I was still loyally devoted to it and was with me for the better part of 4 years I'd say.

Eventually, however, that one wore out too and I'm now onto my third dressing gown, a full-length, light blue, completely 100% man-made creation that is very snuggly. A little too snuggly at times actually. Being altogether absent of any natural fibres its lack of breathability does mean it has the tendency to make me overheat and perspire very unglamorously now and then. I would like to say that that's its only flaw, but there is another - I look like the cookie monster in it. Still, it serves me well when I'm up in the night or doing all those jobs a mother does before she has her morning shower, so I love it regardless.

Now, having for so many years started my day off by getting out of bed and immediately putting on my dressing gown, I decided that Thomas needed to experience the joy of this too. No more running around in just pjs on these increasingly cold mornings for him! Luckily in the pile of Mum's old patterns I found one for a kids robe in just the right size, so I was all set. I bought some navy polar fleece and let Thomas choose some fun lion buttons and got to sewing. After struggling to understand the pattern's instructions (who writes these things?), realising my automatic button-holer couldn't handle the fabric, and running out of the right coloured cotton more than once I finally finished. The result was gorgeous - warm, snuggly and very cute. I couldn't wait for Thomas to try it out!

Unfortunately, it appears that Thomas does not share my love of dressing gowns. He won't wear it, or at least not for any length of time. Even the lion buttons aren't enough to make him look favourably on it. I'm not entirely sure what it is he dislikes about it - it could be the collar (I think it's a bit tickly about his chin), or the fact that he's the opposite to me and never seems to feel the cold so doesn't need it, or maybe he just takes after his granddad. Either way, I think it's been relegated to the back of the bedroom door for eternity. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to resign myself to the fact that dressing gowns just aren't for everyone, and especially not my little Mr T.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thank you

This post is a very special thank you to everyone who took the time to complete my recent survey. I had a marvellous response, received some great feedback, and hopefully this blog and my fabrication shop will improve as a result of it. And, congratulations to Sarah P who won the prize draw and now has some lovely new fabric!

I just wanted to comment on a few things that came up ...

Firstly, I support kiwi-made and use a NZ company to host my fabrication shop, called Smallfish. They offer a great service for a relatively low price, which means I didn't have to spend thousands (literally) getting myself online. But, because the website is run off a template format it does have it's limitations, like you can't save your order, and the pics on the front page don't act as links, and setting a variable postage rate becomes a bit tricky, hence the standard $5 postage charge (personally I think this is pretty reasonable - no matter how much you buy I wrap your fabric so it's like getting a present, I courier your precious package, and my prices are low to compensate for the need to pay for the postage [which is probably still less than you'd spend running about town in your car]). I feel your frustration on these things though, so thanks for telling me - it's very helpful feedback and I will certainly pass it on to the team at Smallfish. Like me, they are continually trying to improve their offering so I'm sure they'll be delighted to hear your thoughts.

But, there are a few things which you commented on which can be done ... for example, you can enlarge pictures of the fabrics simply by clicking on them. This will also allow you to see the other pictures of the same fabric so you can click through those as well.  And, if you want to see the picture and the info at the same time right from the start, simply click on the "more info" button just below the picture. Also, I now sell all orders of 1 unit (or 0.25m) as a fat quarter, unless specially requested otherwise. And, if you want a fat quarter bundle but can't handle the thought of it being completely my choice as to what you get, you can indicate your preference for the type of colours/patterns you want by giving me some instructions at the checkout. While you can't pick exactly what fabrics you'd like, this is kind of the point - it's a lucky dip and everyone knows they're great fun!

Finally, I know that buying fabric online is a bit tricky sometimes. I do my best to capture the colours as accurately as possible, but I know there's nothing like touching and feeling what you're about to buy. I love the idea someone had of being able to move the pics around so you could compare fabrics - unfortunately I don't think the team at smallfish can run to this modification, but remember that I am always more than happy to send you out samples if you need to see before you buy, or you can always email me with questions on what fabrics coordinate well together. In general I'd say the fabrics look better in real life than they do online, and there is nothing like receiving a parcel in the mail, so go on, be brave, and make the purchase. If you're really not happy with what you've bought then just let me know and I'll see what I can do, but I'm pretty sure you won't regret it! And, even after all that, if you're still not brave enough, the good news is that I'm back at Stash reHash in April and on the 21st of March I'll be at the St Patrick's school fair (check out this post for more details). And, since the response to having an open day was so overwhelmingly positive I'll be organising one of these too. Watch this space for details...

So, thanks again for taking the time to help me out. It's been great to hear from you all!
A x

Sunday, March 7, 2010

To market, to market part II

Exciting news all you Canterbury residents - Fabrication is going to be entering the real world for 2 upcoming markets, the St Patrick's school fair this month and Stash reHash next. Here are all the details of both:

St Patrick's School Fair
Sunday 21st of March
11:30am - 3:30pm
Cnr Idris and Jeffreys Road
On wet or fine!


Stash reHash
Sunday 18 April 2010
11am - 2pm
Scottish Society Hall
Cnr Edgeware and Caledonian Roads
St Albans

It would be lovely to see you, so please come along and support two great local events.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Baby Dress

One of my good friends has just had her second baby, a wee girl! Since little baby girls are so cute (and since I don't have one of my own to dress) I decided I'd take this opportunity to make something gorgeous and small and girlie - what else but a beautiful dress?!

Having never made clothes for a small human of the female variety before I decided that a pattern was a definite must, so off I went in search of the perfect dress for a newborn. As all mothers know, any baby clothes must:
  1. Open at the front (never, ever, buy or make clothes for babies that open at the back! They're a complete nightmare to try and get on and off since bubs is all floppy and they can't sit them up while you dress them. Little babies lying face down while you struggle to get their clothes on is not ideal!)
  2. Must be long enough to cover them up and keep them snuggly. There's nothing worse than a baby getting passed around in gorgeous clothes only to spend the whole time pulling the outfit down to cover their nappy or keep them warm.
  3. Must be super cute. That way, at least those nosey people who you don't know from a bar of salt but just have to pop their head into the pram for a look can comment on the clothes, even if the baby doesn't meet with their approval.
Luckily I stumbled across New Look pattern 6903. It met all my criteria and worked perfectly with the fabrics types I had in mind. Being an autumn baby, I wanted to use a narrow soft cordouroy as the main fabric (mainly for warmth) and I wanted to use the Wa Nouveau Small Floral I have in stock as an accent. I found the perfect shade of cordouroy to match the floral, and then I just covered some buttons using the floral fabric. (If you've never covered your own buttons before you should really give it a go - it's a piece of cake and all you need is a wee kit which you can get at most fabric shops that sell accessories. I think a kit will set you back about $5, so it's as cheap as chips).  I used 1m of the cordouroy and a fat quarter for the rest, although I did deviate from the pattern when it came to the hem - I wasn't so into the frills, so went for a plain hem out of the coordinating floral rather than going with gathered cordouroy, and didn't bother with a pocket or an applique, as I thought the dress was gorgeous enough without it. Hopefully bubs and her mummy will agree!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Wedding bells

This summer we've been lucky enough to have been invited to five weddings, and of those we've been able to go to four. They were each quite different, but every one was absolutely lovely. So much romance, so much great food, so much fun choosing what to wear ...

... Speaking of what to wear, I had the task of making flowergirl dresses for my three nieces for one wedding, and the sashes for the flowergirls' dresses at my friend's wedding.

The flowergirl dresses were lovely simple white dresses with a plain bodice and panelled skirts, made using the Simplicity pattern 5641, style B. Instead of having a sash at the front the dresses had a sash at the back instead, made of ribbon in blue  to match the bride's theme.

For the sashes, my friend wanted to incorporate both the tones of purple used in her bridesmaid dresses, but despite hunting all over town for the perfect ribbon we couldn't find anything. So, we did what all good DIY sewers do and made it up instead. For the main band of the sash I used a slightly stretchy dark purple (aubergine I suppose you could say) fabric and then I sewed three strips of light mauve ribbon on the darker fabric to make the ties. The effect was exactly what we were after and perfectly tied in the bridesmaid's colours. Unfortunately by late in the day when I took the photo above Olivia's sash had loosened off a bit and fallen down slightly, but you get the idea.