April 23, 2014

Sew: Vogue 8916 Pencil Skirt

My work wardrobe is seriously lacking of late. I made a lot of work clothes towards the end of 2012 and these beloved dresses are nearing the end of their life cycle. My favourite work dress has lining that is deteriorating rapidly. Every time I sit down at my desk, I hear a tiny rip. But I just can't bring myself to part with it yet... 

I do love a good work dress and sheath dresses are my favourite. The sheath dress is closely followed by a pencil skirt. I don't own many, a problem I'm hoping to rectify soon, but my favourite is the Autumn Pencil Skirt. I wear that skirt a lot. 

Sorry (not sorry!) for the dodgy early morning photos and "renovator's delight" backdrop. Sometimes I just need to snap a few photos when I first wear an item because if I don't, I know I won't ever take photos of it. Also, the basic items are the hardest to photograph. They're just a bit too boring.

The pattern is a relatively new Vogue Patterns Wardrobe pattern, Vogue 8916. There are very limited reviews of it on the web. It comes with a blouse, skirt, dress and jacket. I like the look of all items except the dress. It is a great basic work wardrobe pattern.

In terms of construction, it came together really quickly and easily. I made two slight changes to the pattern. Instead of putting darts in the lining pieces, I simply folded the fabric to create a pleat. This is my preferred way of doing linings. Also, the skirt pattern is missing a kick pleat. I added one in using another pattern. Who wears a pencil skirt without a kick pleat?! How can one walk?

The fabric is a lovely wool suiting from Tessuti that I grabbed from the remnant table. I'm not usually a remnant shopper but this was a wide piece and enough for a pencil skirt. The print is actually tiny white polka dots on a black background but looks like a charcoal grey from a distance. It has a lovely feel to it but does not keep a press. I swear I ironed this skirt excessively before taking these photos!

Project Details
Pattern: Vogue 8916, view D, size 18
Fabric: 100% wool suiting remnant from Tessuti Melbourne
Lining: Black goldliner lining from Clegs Brunswick
Alterations: Added a kick pleat

Overall, I'm really pleased with the basic addition to my work wardrobe. I will most definitely use this pattern again in the future but my next pencil skirt will be using Simplicity 2343 again. Probably in a thick black cotton with a waffle print.

Watch this space!

L x
April 22, 2014

Cook: Spiced Stewed Prunes

The cold weather is fast approaching around here. I'm secretly glad as I love dressing up in stockings, scarves, jackets and boots. I'm sure I'll regret that soon as this is our first year of footy in what I feel will be many years of weekly Saturday morning winter footy with these two crazy boys. It might be time to invest in a good umbrella and woolen socks...

Cold mornings mean porridge for me and the boys. I love the stuff and so do my boys. Thankfully it is cheap, easy and fills them up for the day ahead. We go through a few kilos of rolled oats a week. I currently use 3 cups of oats every morning but should probably up that to 4 cups.

I like to top my milky oats with stewed fruit or a chopped banana and a dollop of honey. Last week I made poached quinces which were delicious. This week it is stewed prunes. I know people think they're old fashioned and not fancy enough to mention. But I love them!

I'm currently on a mission to clean out the pantry cupboard in preparation for our renovation. This includes the drinks cupboard. Pear vodka anyone?? I found an opened bottle of dessert wine that I thought would stew up nicely with prunes and a few spices. I'm pleased to report it was a success!

1kg pitted prunes
1 cup dessert wine
1/2 cup water
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon or 1 stick of cinnamon
1/2 nutmeg grated

Throw all ingredients in a medium saucepan and gently simmer for approximately 10 minutes until prunes are plump and surrounded by a lovely syrup. Allow to cool before storing in the fridge.

Serve warm on porridge oats in the morning or with custard as a dessert.

Also, does anyone have any suggestions for how to use pear vodka? Cooking or cocktail recipes welcome!

L x

April 21, 2014

Bake: Anzac Biscuits

These coconut Anzac biscuits are an all year favourite around here. They are excellent for school lunch boxes and last well in the cupboard. With Anzac Day this Friday, I thought Anzac biscuits would be perfect for this week's daily baked good lunchbox treat.

Am I the only person who calls their baked items, baked goods?? My husband thinks I'm a loony when I ask if he'd like a baked good with his lunch...

My recipe for Anzac biscuits has been adapted from a recipe given to me by a friend a few years ago. The original recipe has more sugar but I prefer them less sweet. I always make a double batch.

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup coconut flakes
125 g butter
2 tbs golden syrup
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
2 tbs water

Preheat oven to 180C. Combine oats, flour, sugar and coconut in a large mixing bowl. Melt butter and golden syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once butter has melted, add bicarb soda and water and allow to froth. Add hot, frothy syrup mixture to dry ingredients and mix well. Roll into balls and squish flat before baking until golden brown (about 10 minutes). Cool on wire racks.

Makes about 20 biscuits.

Eat and enjoy!

L x
April 01, 2014

Sew: Pleated Style Arc Ali Knit Skirt

I like to keep it real around here at Sew Brunswick. I really don't like this skirt I made last weekend but I decided to post the photos anyway so others can learn from my mistakes. The decision to use the pleats on both the front and back of the skirt was a very, very bad decision. The pattern is designed for a flat back piece with a pleated front. To spice it up, you can have a plain pencil skirt, like my floral scuba skirt, by using the back pattern piece in both the front and back. Or you can use the front pleated pattern piece twice and get pleats in the front and back. It's quite a versatile pattern for such a simple style. I do plan on using this pattern again, and again, as I think it's going to be a great wardrobe staple. Just without pleats in the back!

I thought putting the pleats on the back would avoid having the visible undie line and avoid showing all the lumps and bumps. It has just drawn even more attention to my backside, in addition to adding bulk! Lesson learnt.

Project Details
Pattern: Style Arc Ali Knit Skirt, size 16
Fabric: Medium weight black ponti from Tessuti

I'm planing on making this again with just the pleated front in a black ponti to replace this one and also a charcoal knit, maybe a wool knit, to wear with boots and tights during winter.

You live and you learn!

L x
March 31, 2014

Sew: Black & Grey Pixelated McCalls 6460

Following on from my Gridlock M6460, I hacked in to the pattern and made an excessive amount of alterations. I was a bit scared that I'd destroyed the pattern and even asked my mum to get me another copy of the pattern just in case. But it all worked out! 

The printed cotton sateen was a random find from Spotlight many moons ago, when they still had a store in Brunswick. My 4 year old chose it and it was destined to become another NL6000. It sat on the shelf for a long time and I glimpsed it one day sitting with a black piece of fabric while I was rummaging through my pattern stash. Lightbulb moment! I personally think the fabric pairing is verging on epic. I love it.

Look at that fit! I'm really enjoying tweaking patterns to suit my shape and preferences. I love the process of slashing and taping and tracing to get a perfectly fitted pattern. It's my inner geek coming out! 

Project Details
Pattern: McCalls 6460, size 16
Fabric: Printed cotton sateen from Spotlight & black cotton sateen from Clegs, lining from Clegs

  • 4cm sway back adjustment
  • Removed 3cm from back neckline at the centre 
  • Removed 3cm total from front neckline
  • Lowered bust darts by 2.5cm
  • Folded out a dart from the front and back 8cm below the underarm - removed 2.5cm total
  • Added kick pleat to the back
  • Lengthened by 7cm
Next time I will add more length. I will also probably merge the body of NL6000 with the sleeves and top of the this pattern. The body and bust darts of NL6000 are perfect on me but I really like the raglan sleeve. I think this combination will result in a perfect pattern. 

I have a few more items to blog before I catch up. I'm not sure what is next on my sewing table. Probably more work clothes. I really need more work clothes. I've also got another pair of Tessuti Anita pants and a Tokyo jacket on the list. Oh, and I really need to get back to that little black jacket... 

L x
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