Thursday, February 28

a bit old school

Cigarette cards of exercises from 1918-1940

I am not really a fan of change. As a proud creature of habit, I do my pilates twice a week and it is now part of my routine and I liked it that way. 

I stumbled on this studio about 3.5 years ago to address the separation in my stomach from the twins. It has greatly improved and over the years I have got stronger and started to reshape my body - paricularly in the last year when I increased from one to two sessions.

So, why the whinge today. Change of course - and I don't think I like it. Normally the small group 2-4 people gets an individual program and the teacher works one on one with each person. You cant get away with Anything! This week one class was a mat class and taught by Mr Flexibility. He had that long lean body - like a yogi and set a cracking pace for the class. Not only was the pace up, but the exercises were hard and real old school. We didn't quite strengthen our wrists like this (above) but almost. 

On top of that all the hard work I have done in relation to relaxing and not trying too hard flew right out the window. Pilates is meant to be all about lightness of movement and core strength, but my competitive nature kicked in and I had to be able to do all the hard exercises like him - I just didn't do them right and as a result am still hurting today. (not injured just stupid)
It was fine as a one off, a bit of a challenge, but then I found out that this is a more permanent change. Hurumf. Now I either have to reorganise my schedule or put up with it. 

Wednesday, February 27

Twin Needles - how to

No this isn't another post about my twins, rather the wonders and joys of the twin needle.
I really enjoy sewing knits. They are quick and easy. Knits don't usually need closure of any kind so no zips or button holes and they don't require fitting lines. Best of all they are comfortable to wear and don't need ironing.

The TRICK to getting a professional look when you sew knits is how you finish it.  This is where you need a twin needle. 

What is a Twin Needle
As the name suggests, a twin needle is two needles together. They come together on a single shank (needle top) that goes into your machine where you normally insert the needle.

Different types of Twin Needles

There are a couple of different types of twin needles. I use the schmetz brand and in this brand I have the stretch needles which have a blue plastic piece on them. The schmetz for woven fabrics are red. Like with all needles - they do work better for the purpose for which they are designed.

Then within each category, you have the option of widths. This is about the distance between the two needles. This is mainly aesthetic and when sewing hems on knits, I prefer a larger gap - such as hte 4,0/75 as I find the hems sit flatter. I find with the narrower twin needle, the fabric between the two rows of stitches pops up a little.

How do I thread the machine?
The bobbin is the same as usual.

Insert the twin needle into the needle clamp ensuring it is pushed up as high as it will go.

You will need two top threads - again these are threaded as normal. Sometimes through the tension or the thread take up lever there may be option for the threads to go on opposite sides. If there are, take this option, but don't worry if there is not. The threads can be threaded together all the way to the needle.  ( I have used difference colours for the demonstration - normally these would be the same)

At this point, thread each needle with a separate cotton. Pull the tails to the back.
Now you have three threads you are ready to simply sew. Just remember, when you are sewing with the twin needle, the stitch at the top is the twin straight stitch, but at the bottom it is zig zag. So you will need to sew your hems from the top , or right side up.

How does it work?

The twin needle is great for knits because it gives you a neat hem that looks on top like a straight stitch, but underneath acts like a zig zag. This way it gives you the stretch without breaking the seams. It also stops the fabric from rolling which knits have a tendency to do. Finally it gives you a professional finish so no one will believe you have homemade clothes.

Tuesday, February 26

More from the bottom of the ironing basket - another pattern review

I did all my ironing last night - yes ALL of it and found at the very bottom this dress which I made a couple of weeks ago but hadn't pressed so it was lingering there where it could have been out enjoying the weather. It is a light weight knit - more like a crepe than a heavy knit amd has the eiffel tower all over it. It came from Darn Cheap again -I had admired it for ages but it didn't speak to me. When the price dropped to $2, I had to have some but I still wasn't sure how to use it and then I thought of this dress - mainly because I have the 3 meters needed.
Unlike yesterday's review - this vogue pattern V8784 is a current pattern. Mum has made the straight version in a knit - however it is not a knit specific pattern. The only alterations I made to this was to get rid of the belt. Even on a wrap dress it has a tendency to make me look like a sack of potatoes, so I simply sew the sides together at the waist. Then I can accessorise with any belt.
The pleats at the waist work and sit really well as do the fitting lines at the back. The cap sleeves are doubled so they are really easy to put in. As you can see I didn't line it as the pattern suggests. I simply finished all of the raw edges with a twin needle - including the hem. 
 You can see the skirt is really full which hides all those  bits.
Another glamour shot from my tiny bathroom but you get the idea.

Monday, February 25

Pattern Review - Vogue 7615

 This is one of my all time favourite patterns. I have done a search for it and it seems no longer to be available which doesn't help you much. However I just worked out I have had my copy around 10 years now, so it may make the retro section of vogue soon!
 This doesn't look much of a dress on the patterns. It is simple - I make it from knit and remove the zip and centre back seam as they are unnecessary and too much hard work. The raglan sleeve has a small dart a the top. The waistline fits well and there is no elastic so basically you sew it together and there you have a dress!
 I got this light weight knit at Darn Cheap recently for $7/m and the dress needs 2. I could cut it from less but the check on this is a one way check so it would look funny if the pattern was going the wrong way. The check is printed on the cross. I thought this would be great for trans-season - dressed up with some boots. Oh, just dreaming of winter and being able to snuggle up!!
Here is a stunningly posed shot of it on! I like to make the darts a little larger on the shoulder to create a more squared neck and I prefer 3/4 sleeves. This is the same dress I made here.

On the same trip, Mum had bought some red linen blend knit and when it was cut it had a hole in it, so the lady kindly gave us both pieces for the price of one. Out of the knit I made this tshirt. It is my made up pattern, and I made it longer in the front so I could wear it over my sports tights for those school mornings where I go straight to pilates. 
There were decent 'scraps' left from both projects so I had a bit of a play and made this top. A mixture of both that should be good for winter - with black pants etc. 
 This was all put together with scraps of what I had but basically like this:
 Oh the professionalism! If you stumble over one of these old vogue patterns in an op shop somewhere, pick it up because it is a beauty!

Sunday, February 24

Sunday funday

 Its been some time since we've had one of these. Our street festival was on and we all went out to celebrate the local community.

 Xandy dressed in his cub uniform 'fresh' from a cub sleepover, sold all his raffle tickets there so it was a good, albeit hot, day.

Saturday, February 23

Quillow - including how to!

The twins had another birthday party to go to today. I firmly believe that they should each give a present as they are invited individually to the party. Anyway while my principles are firmly in this camp, my wallet and imagination are not always keeping up.

This is my latest gift that I thought I would share. I made a personalized Quillow. A what?? It is both a quilt or blanket and a pillow or cushion.

Here's how I did it. First I purchased a polarfleece blanket from Dimmeys. It is called coral fleece or minky - extra fluffy on one side - absolutely no natural fibres. You know the stuff. The blanket was single bed size and set me back $7. It was all edged and I couldn't have bought the fabric for that. 
 Then I appliqued his initial on using this technique. My thinking was as a Collingwood Football Supporter he may want to take it to a game so I kept it in black and white and just did his initials so no crazy collingwood fans would be yelling out his name.

I had planned to make a bag out of the same contrast fabric - an oldie from Ikea, when the idea of the Quillow struck me. It is not my idea, I have just dragged it out of the late 80's! Sew a double sided pocket onto the back of the blanket - like this....
 And then fold up the blanket and put it into the pocket and you have a cushion!! This is one side and the other one is.....
 The same as the blanket!!
 Makes it easy for storage, but also great to take to football because you can either sit on it and if the day turns sour, then wrap yourself in it. I have also found it really nice to put your feet into the pocket which stops your feet getting cold.

I was terribly pleased with myself whipping this all up in between basketball (where they whipped the other team 25 to 2), a play date and the actual party. What I did omit was any instructions to the birthday boy that this was actually a 2 for 1 Quillow and how to open it out, rather than just a naf looking cushion. Text has been sent to mum - hope she understands.

And for all of you (3) that now want to go out an make your own Quillow, I spent ages at the kids craft table creating not only instructions how to make your own Quillow, but also how to fold it.


 The last day of milo cricket today which is the junior skills development program
 we had never been part of cricket before and this started last year and continued after the holidays
 the boys have really enjoyed both the social side of it as well as basic skill development
and best of all they got medals at the end of it all.

(don't know what is going on with Spencer's face here!!)

Friday, February 22

a bit of everything

It has been a full on week round these parts. Lots of things to do and lots of things on my mind. Infact today I can say one of those things is a little reduced. Our tax was seriously in arrears and to say it was a big worry was an understatement. Some hard work and late, very late, nights meant that I sat like a highly organised client in front of my accountant today (for a good three hours). But it was worth every minute - even hearing the same stories about his footy career when he was 7 that I heard 2 weeks ago was worth smiling through just to get the ATO from sniffing round our door. So I can sit here tonight a little easier knowing now they they are only chasing us for money!

With this in mind, the afternoon was non less relentless. It was hot - humid. The kids were tired but one little boy had to get to karate. A rushed MOTY (mother of the year (not!)) stitched on an overdue badge onto the karate suit and if I had not done that this little boy would not have received his tag (award) and be happy at the school picnic to which he was hurriedly ferried. 
nor would he have climbed poles so enthusiastically!
apparently play grounds are not challenging enough.
The big squirrel was in charge of feeding and watering the children at the picnic as I was otherwise engaged. It was a social night at school with a fundraising sausage sizzle. Previously we have hired people to entertain the kids but the night was running at a loss which isn't very effective fundraising - so in what must have been a drunken stupor we all agreed to help and I was in charge of the craft tables.

Not terribly flattering photos but you can see how busy I was with kids beading elastic bracelets and I had to tie a knot to start and then tie them off when they were finished. It was free but all the kids loved it - we thought it would only be the girls but I reckon we actually had more boys there. Infact could be a good fundraising stall (for someone else to run) There was also play do and card making/sticker craft on another table. 
It was all fun and the night was a great success. A good turn out an everyone seemed to go home happy. My day had been so busy that food was really a secondary thought. Not only was I hot, tired and hungry - I was soothing these feelings with a little cup of wine that a few good mates kept filling up!! Needless to say I was experiencing the inverse relationship between my blood alcohol level and my fine motor skills - and therefore collecting lots of beads off the ground!!
So glad today is O V E R!

Tuesday, February 19

Good Day/Bad Day

Today was a total roller coaster day. Every good thing was followed by an equally bad thing.

Good: Walk to school and have lovely chat with boys. Really pleasant.

Bad: Assist with walk to pool for G4's. So hot perspiration covers entire body.

Good: Xandy's teacher who is happy to talk about his progress while at swimming pool ( as parent teacher nights cancelled due to industrial action)

Bad: Went to Chadstone to exchange shorts that didn't fit Xandy only to find no more in stock and end of line.

Good: In Target found a whole lot of bargains and headed to the check out with 3 cotton jumpers for me, a pair of heels, and two pairs of shorts for Xandy - totalling a whopping $50.

Bad: At Target checkout - no credit card.

Good: No abnormal spending on my card and put a hold on it.

Bad: No access to any money as all tied up on this one card.

Good: Back track and ring around to find card handed in at Springvale Ikea

Bad: Visit Springvale Ikea to find out that my card has been destroyed for security. Pretty sure thats not designed to protect me from spending money at Ikea. Apparently their policy is to destroy it 24 hours after it being handed in - but I didn't even know it was missing at that point. When I called it was already destroyed, just the guy I spoke to didn't know.

Good: Two free Ikea dinner vouchers...

Bad: ..or so we thought until we looked at the sad offerings left in the windows at 8:15 on a monday night.

Good: Card classified as 'damaged' and the same card is being 'reissued' so now I don't need to learn a new number!!

Friday, February 15


It has been hot and humid round these parts and our humble little 'pool' has been getting quite a workout. It isn't very big but the kids can essentially swim in it. As a result their water confidence has greatly improved as has their ability.
This week, the G4+ were invited to try out for the interschool swim team and Xandy wanted to try. He is a good but not great swimmer. Some kids just have a natural elegance to their swimming and others have to try harder. Last Friday was the first heats and he was really deflated as a couple of kids dominated the pool. After some eleventh hour miracle(??) he was allowed to try again today. I also found out that I could watch. This is a much better way to get a true understanding of events as he is incredibly hard on himself.
So the trials are off with a small group of kids that look like freaking olympic athletes. The six packs some of these kids are sporting is incredible not to mention the times some of them are swimming.
My boy is not the fastest swimmer, nor the prettiest, but by far he is the gutsiests. He was one of three to try out for butterfly. He was in the middle, between two strong, beautiful swimmers. To his credit, he kept up with them and wasn't jumping off the bottom of the pool. He did 50m butterfly in a reasonable time with kids a year older than him. Irrespective of winning and all that, I just want to give him a shout out for getting in there and having a go. Its a lot more than most people would do. Well done Bud, I am very proud of you.

Thursday, February 14

Valentine Day Strike

I am not on strike for Valentines Day - however it was 18 years ago today that the big squirrel and I became engaged and we did sweet f.a. to acknowledge that fact today. No it was our hard working and underpaid government teachers that were out on strike. While I support their plight, and understand that they have to do whatever they can to fight for the cause - I have to say I am getting a little  over the inconvenience of it all. 
 So instead of school we headed off to Emerald Lake to celebrate Eloise's birthday.
 A little picnic
 Saw Puffing Billy - and had a sit but no ride on it
 And then the weather cleared up perfect for a swim in their lake/pool.
It really was a lovely day - so away from it all with heaps to do in terms of bike tracks. play equipment etc. Worth a visit.