Nyssa Jayne Makes It! on shoesandblues.com

Hey Girl

Remember those Ryan Gosling ‘Hey Girl…’ memes?  I don’t know much about Ryan Gosling — I saw ‘Crazy Stupid Love’ and I really didn’t like it — but I think they’re the best thing for when you’re having a shit day.

Ryan Gosling tells it like it is.

Not that you can notice, but Jane said she got a bad haircut the other week and it really bummed her out.  We’ve all been there too, it’s rotten.  There’s not enough hats and hairties in the world that’ll make you feel much better.  However, after the success of Kerryn’s birthday present last year, I knew that a little bit of Ryan Gosling couldn’t hurt.  So I did what any normal person would do and typed ‘Ryan Gosling’ into Ravelry.

This little guy turned up.

Ryan the Gossling gets around.

This is Ryan The Gosling, and he’s your wingman!  The pattern is Tiny Gosling, from a little e-book called Tiny Hatchlings (Ravelry link).  It cost $5, which is probably more than I would normally pay for what amounts to amigurumi, but the instructions are incredibly clear — right down to how many stitches apart the eyes should be.  The yarn used was all scrap yarn, which also helped me justify the cost of the pattern.  He’s the second version I’ve made, I made one for Kerryn’s birthday as well, but on future versions, I think I might put a coin or something in his short-rowed bum, just to help him sit up without looking drunk.

I think he did the job of cheering Jane up.  He now takes pride of place on Jane’s dashboard in her van.  Below is a picture of him on his way to Mildura a couple of weeks ago.

Driving north for the winter.

Meanwhile, this has been me these last two weeks:

Hey girl, let that sewing machine have it!

I have been sewing Gertie’s Shirtwaist Dress, from her book ‘Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing’.  I’ve made three toiles.  I’ve made a list of adjustments as long as my arm and the minute I change one thing, something else wants my attention.  The front of that bodice is my arch nemesis at the moment, followed closely by that armscye shape.  I’m running out of fabric and quite frankly, I’m running out of patience.  I understand that sewing takes practice, but I sincerely believe that I don’t quite have the skill set yet to solve all the problems that I’m experiencing.  Today, after an exasperated glance at some Amazon reviews, I was inspired to measure the flat pattern (which is ironically something Gertie tells you to always do).  I’ve cut the 6, for a 36″ bust.  Once I’d subtracted the alleged 5/8″ seam allowance, I was left with a pattern that barely measured 36.5″, which I don’t believe is anywhere near enough ease for something like a shirtwaist dress.

This is the second annoying project I’ve attempted from the book — I have also made The Portrait Blouse, and while I do wear it, I was never satisfied enough to blog about it.  Once again, I encountered problems with the armscye, plus the instructions didn’t make sense (turn the seams under for the armholes?  With what fabric?).  The instructions for The Shirtwaist Dress aren’t much better — the pocket they depict in the illustrations is definitely not the pocket drafted, and after reading PR reviews, I know I’m not the only one who placed them too far down the skirt the first time around.

I’m not entirely sure what I will do next.  It’s getting more and more likely I will not finish this dress as Gertie’s Shirtwaist Dress.  I might do something similar to this dress I made, where I combined some different pattern pieces for an easy wearing dress (and I wear that one all the time).  From what I can tell, the back of the Shirtwaist Dress fits fine, because shirring does hide a lot of sins, so I might fashion a front bodice based on a pattern I know fits (maybe Licorice)?  Likely, I will take some time off from this project to start with and go from there.  This is my note-to-self to not forget about it.

Ryan forgets shirt and spelling.

May 26th, 2014 | 1 Comment
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Maudy Arabella

Have you ever had a project that made you so irritated and annoyed, for no real reason?

Neil and I were invited to a 60’s theme engagement party recently.  I knew about the party, but Neil didn’t mention the theme until a week before the party.  “I’ll make something!” I decided.

This was obviously a silly idea and when I realised the dress wouldn’t be ready in time for the party, I slowed down a bit.  I changed the rules — the dress would be ready in time to see the Arctic Monkeys a week later.  I would call it Arabella.  It was going to be great.

The pattern is Licorice from The Colette Sewing Handbook, with the sleeves omitted.  I made two toiles (which is two more than usual) to get the fit just right.  The adjustments I made included shortening the bodice, a swayback adjustment, a neckline adjustment to eliminate some gaping and some extra width at the bust and waist.  I took extra care cutting out the slippery spotty fabric, the cotton underlining and the satin lining.  The seams on the fabric fabric are flat-felled and catch stitched down, while the lining has French seams.  There’s a hand-picked zipper and a small hook and eye.

All that love, but the process just annoyed me the entire time.  Forget Arabella.  This was turning into Maudy Bum.  During the cutting process, the shoulder shaping came out different for each fabric, which made sewing it together difficult.  The zipper took forever and I’m not convinced it sits correctly.  Plus having that extra week to work on it meant I started thinking too much about why had I made the dress in the first place.  I mean, another party dress?  Did I really need another party dress?

I was getting ready to just donate it once I was finished and get it out of the house, but then, while dancing away in row NN at the Arctic Monkeys, I realised that how great the dress actually felt on as I moved.  I was slouching comfortably before the show started and remained just as comfortable once I was standing and moving.

So I’ve kept the dress and taken notes on what I’ve learned throughout this process.  The fabric shifting as I cut it out was definitely a big one.  I normally cut fabric on the floor, but actually using a marked board my Mum owns to cut this one and it still wound up wonky.  I’m going to look into getting a rubber self-healing mat and a rotary cutter, especially for these slippery fabrics.  With the zipper, I’m going to try moving it to the side.  I’m also thankful I made all those toiles — the fit still isn’t perfect (I think the dress is slightly too big) but it is significantly better than what it was.

Not awkward at all.

From the back.

As for the Arctic Monkeys, if you had’ve told me 8 years ago, when ‘Whatever People Think I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ came out (or even 5 years ago, which is when I last saw them), that these kids would grow up to still be a band, with 5 notable albums, playing sell-out stadium shows and looking like dreamboats, I would not have believed you.  They’re even better than what they were.  When Alex Turner isn’t combing his hair or effortlessly playing riffs big enough to reach the nosebleeds, he’s dancing like Jarvis Cocker and keeping his thick, Northern accent.  Swoon.  They can come back anytime.

May 18th, 2014 | 4 Comments
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Twirling, Twirling

Twirly skirt

Miss Mollie, recipient of knitted elephants and still the only baby in the gang, turned two this week.  Goodness knows how she found the time to do that, but here she is, running everywhere and chatting away.

A little birdie whispered in my ear, or posted on my Facebook, I don’t remember, that Mollie loves tutus that move with you when you dance and that there was a tutorial on how to make them out of scrap fabric on the internet.  I couldn’t resist the chance to use up some of my hoarded fabric scraps so I set to work.

ALL OF THE FABRIC SCRAPS! Well, most of them anyway.

The tutorial uses a no-sew method of just knotting strips of fabric onto a length of elastic to make the skirts.  I had this idea that I would sew the strips onto a waistband to make the skirt more durable.  After all, I was giving it to a two year-old, I wanted her parents to have a chance of washing it.  However, after two evenings spent cutting the strips out, I decided to go with the knotting technique in the end.  I believe that the skirt could be washed in a laundry bag, as the strips have pinked edges, and look only slightly more “boho”.

My one hiccup was that I misread the instructions, and thought it said to cut the strips to 22 centimetres, rather than 22 inches.  I normally think in inches when sewing, as all my texts and blogs are in imperial, but my Commonwealth brain slipped on this one.  This meant that I didn’t double up the strips like the tutorial because I thought that they were too short, but instead, just knotted the strips at the top.  I didn’t really need to do this it turned out — once the birthday girl was in her skirt, everything looked a bit long!  It was incredibly cute though, plus it will grow with her for a bit, so she can continue to twirl well into the future.

My favourite part about the skirt, other than how happy Mollie was with it, was how it moved as she toddled about this afternoon.  It really did have great movement, something which the author of the tutorial mentions, and as Mollie becomes an even better dancer, the effect will only get better.  It also made a great birthday party workshop — Claire, Mollie’s mum, cut a lot of extra strips, plus I brought my extra strips along, and many of the adults made their own skirts.  It truly does only take half an hour of everyone working together to make some sort of tutu, and everyone had a good laugh while they were at it.


Yes I can see you cat.

I don’t have a picture of the birthday girl wearing it, but I do have an “outtake” from when I was photographing it for the blog.  I don’t need consent from my cat to put him on the internet.

March 15th, 2014 | 2 Comments
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Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Twee

Based on a picture I saw of Katy Perry once, I made a cabled orange hat, complete with a pom pom, ear flaps and braids.  I took a dodgy photo and made a project page for it on Ravelry, with the intention to document exactly what I did.

I then loaned the hat to Neil to wear to a music festival, and he lost it within about 5 hours.

I wasn’t upset about him losing the hat — I don’t even think I really actually liked the colour — I was upset that he was upset.  “I’ll make you a new hat,” I promised… three years ago.  Two days before we depart for Meredith, I finally finished it for him.

Neil is in the beanie, not the fez.

The hat was made top down using wool yarn that my Mum gave me some years ago.  The hat isn’t as pointy as Katy’s hat, and the braids and pom poms have been omitted upon Neil’s request (or his eagerness to wear the hat, I’m not sure).  I didn’t use a pattern, but instead just a vague idea based on a hat I had just finished for myself.  I’m proud of how the ear flaps came out — they definitely didn’t come out as planned, and perhaps a vigorous blocking would flatten them out, however they seem to fit Neil’s ears just right.

hipsters. ugh.

As mentioned, I had just finished a hat for myself.  I purchased the alpaca yarn from a market that had pitched up out the front of Howler Bar, Brunswick one afternoon.  The spinner, Fiona Hall, was working right at her stall!  The pattern is Springtime in Philadelphia and I finished most of the hat while travelling to and from Tasmania.  The very edge is completed with a different leftover alpaca yarn, as I did it with the Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off, notorious yarn eater.


During blocking, I did accidentally stretch out the ribbing too far though.  I was pretty bummed out until I was procrastinating on Ravelry one afternoon and read a thread about a) how alpaca yarn will do that to you and b) it can be fixed up by sewing in some elastic.  I wove in lengths of shirring elastic along the bottom, which did the trick perfectly.

So now Neil and I have hats ready for the festival season.  Not a moment too soon either, for I can assure you, there is nothing colder than what a clear, sunny day turns into.

December 11th, 2013 | No Comments
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Double Truffle

Just hanging out in the park

I did make this dress over a year ago, for Paul and Ingrid’s wedding Neil and I attended in Denmark.  I photographed it on a hanger when we got back home from that trip, and figured that the next time I wore this dress, I’d get someone to take a picture of me wearing it.  Which I usually can’t bring myself to do.  I feel a bit weird taking my own photo, but I think it’s important to see a garment on a body — it’s a body that makes all those seams and stitches make sense I believe.

Hand picked lapped zipper.

The pattern is Truffle from The Colette Sewing Handbook.  I use some Japanese cotton lawn for most of the fashion fabric, although the skirt front is made from some cotton lace.  The whole thing is underlined in ivory cotton voile, and the bodice is lined with some leftover silk/cotton blend.

back of the dress and glimpse of the lace

I didn’t really think all of this fanciness through — with the additional ruffle I added, it is quite bulky at the waist, hence the sash.  I think that there may be a few fitting issues too.  Instead of going with my bust size, I went with my underbust size and did a FBA adjustment.  I still needed to take fabric out of the back however, but didn’t perform a swayback adjustment.  I think if I had of left a little fabric in the back, but done the swayback adjustment, this dress may be a little more comfortable.  As it is now, there are some horizontal wrinkles across my lower back, and while I may be the only one to notice, I still notice.  Fitting is still a very new thing to me, and in Colette patterns, I am in between doing an FBA or just sizing up (which I have done on another dress, with different results and problems).  I think if I find the combination of time and funds, I would like to take a class in this sort of thing.

all dressed up.

And finally, a year later, a worn picture.  I wore it to Becc and Colin’s wedding on the weekend.  My brother took this photo of Neil and I on a disposable Fuji camera I bought for a holiday.  The dress makes sense now that I’m wearing it, but I feel like the whole picture makes sense because there is an occasion.

November 28th, 2013 | 2 Comments
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In Stitches

I’ve actually made quite a few things recently.  In a fit of procrastibaking prior to last week’s exam, I made muffins.  I don’t like baking, but I really don’t like studying.  I understand that if you bake something and don’t put it on the internet, did you ever really make anything, but you’ll have to trust me on this one.  There were strawberries and everything.

I’ve also been sewing, but I haven’t photographed the results yet.  Dolling up and getting in front of a lens is a different kind of work to sewing I must say, and I still feel like a goof when I do it.

In the meantime, this guy doesn’t mind having his picture taken.

BB Rocks Out!

He followed me home after Halloween.  Neil and I were helping Johnny and Kasia pack up after another excellent Halloween on a Boat party and he was a prop that had been left behind.

99 problems but a stitch ain't one.

Neil called him BB — Badass Bunny!! — and he had spent Halloween impaled on a punter’s toy sword.  I could have stitched him up with invisible stitches, but that would really betray his spooky roots I think.  He has a matching orange scar on the back too.

BB has taken up residence on my new-old amplifier (oh yes, I made good on my threat to go electric) and is making a pitch to be our rock ‘n’ roll mascot in chief.  Not that he isn’t proud of his past as a Halloween legend, but sometimes you’ve got to let go and do what you love.

November 7th, 2013 | No Comments
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Shawl Luck

Out on the balcony.

When in New Zealand earlier this year, I stocked up on some yarn, as it seemed like an appropriate souvenir.  I bought some possum/merino blend in Rotorua and was quite content with that, until I saw this skein of Touch 4ply by Touch Yarns another yarn store in Devonport.  It was like someone had taken all of my Mum’s favourite colours and dyed a skein of yarn with them.  Mother’s Day was a couple of months away and I figured that left me plenty of time to knock out a shawl.

I chose the pattern Batik — I don’t know what drew me to this one, but I figured it looked impressive and the yarn weight seemed a good match.  I did some maths and figured that I had enough yarn to make the shawl in a small size.  And that was ready (albeit not blocked) by Mother’s Day.  However, I had only used about half the yarn and the shawl was tiny.  It was a pretty big decision, but I decided I didn’t want a lot of leftover yarn and a small shawl, so I frogged the work and started again, this time on the medium.

The shawl wasn’t ready for Mother’s Day, however it was complete by my Mum’s birthday in late August.

Shawling from ear-to-ear.

The construction of the shawl is described as bottom-up (hence the frogging), although that top-edge you can see started off as the sides.  It’s only after a recommended aggressive blocking session that the shawl takes the required shape.

I’m glad I chose to do a different shawl with new-to-me construction method, but as I rarely, if ever, use recommended yarn, I think I might avoid bottom-up shawls for now.  I do prefer to just knit until I run out of yarn, which a top-down shawl affords.  The instructions for Batik were thorough — line-by-line thorough — which made for keeping track easy.  It does look impressive in real life, but I didn’t find the actual knitting too hard.  The most difficult part was making sure I cast on the right amount of stitches to be honest (over 300!).  And I am super glad I sized up!

September 16th, 2013 | No Comments
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Cricket Widow

Marcus asked me if I was a “cricket widow” last weekend, which is a fair enough question.  Neil has been very excited about The Ashes, especially since England now have a team to be proud of!  I am ambivalent for the most part (I do have a  crush on Alistair Cook).

However, because cricket commentary doesn’t require absolute concentration and silence, I’ve been using the time to knock some sewing out before uni starts back for my last semester.

Top stitching on the pockets.

So I guess this makes this my Second Test Skirt.

Some lining.

The pattern is New Look 6896, view C.  I bought the pattern to make the trousers actually, but have so far made the skirt twice.  The fashion fabric is a wool blend from Rathdowne Remnants.  I got 3.2 metres, so I still have around half left.  The lining is chanteuse from Spotty, just something a little heavier to compliment the wool.  The pattern doesn’t accommodate lining, and it took a little fussing to get it right.  In the end, rather than cutting a skirt front and a skirt back piece, I cut 2 skirt back pieces.  These were then attached to the waistband facing.

Lapped zipper.

My hand picked lapped zipper!  This and the top-stitching on the pockets are my favourite details.  I did attempt a little bit of pattern matching on the seams as well, but didn’t factor in seam allowance, so it looks neat, but not perfect.

I made a few little blunders like that during construction — I forgot the cut out the waistband facing, and attaching the waistband to the skirt so that the zipper aligned took about five attempts.  I can get flustered when things like that happen and in the past, I have just fudged mistakes, or left them in.  On this skirt, I made sure to go back and actually fix these mistakes, which has left me with a garment I’m much more satisfied with.


Excuse the lighting — the weather has been rubbish this week.  They are gumboots I’m wearing and they did get wet!  That has been one good thing about the cricket, seeing all those sunny days and knowing that it will be our turn again soon.

July 21st, 2013 | 1 Comment
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Afternoon Tea

When I flew to Europe last year, I packed a knitting project for the plane.  A shawl, one ball of yarn, on circular needles.  I figured I couldn’t lose a needle, and I would have to try pretty hard to have someone’s eye out.  I chose the Afternoon Tea shawl, because the shape is quite lovely, and there was nothing that I would need to look up while airborne.

Afternoon Tea

It was a wise choice in the end.  The only annoying thing being I finished the shawl before my flights were over!  I found it had a great rhythm and it certainly knit up very quickly.

The yarn is some 3ply I bought from a market in Brunswick once.  It’s dyed using eucalyptus leaves from the park behind my house.  There was about 100g of it.

Close up of shawl.

Admittedly, it did take me a year to block.  Blocking is one of the most satisfying parts of the knitting process, watching seemingly crumpled stitches relax and lay out, but damn it, it’s tedious.  Pin, pin, pin, then steam, steam, steam.  Repeat because your ironing board isn’t big enough.

I made that vest too!

The shawl has now been presented to my Aunty Kim as a birthday present.  When I left her, she was wondering whether to wear it or display it…

July 14th, 2013 | No Comments
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What is it?

I don’t normally travel with my laptop — despite the promise of mobility, I find computers heavy, clunky, and they don’t respond well to travelling on the back of a bicycle.  After a semester of riding to uni with my laptop, it’s not running quite the same.  However, it still works and it only needs to last another semester, so I figured some preventative casing would help.

A warm laptop!

It’s just a 2×2 rib, done in a chunky acrylic on circular needles.  I sewed the bottom up and fashioned a flap for it.  One of the buttons doesn’t line up, but I’m okay with that for now.  It was a bit of an annoying project, because ribbing isn’t fun, but it was satisfying to destash some of this yarn and I like that the result is practical.

Someone wanted to help when I was photographing my new cozy.


He considers himself a supervisor of sorts.

June 10th, 2013 | 3 Comments
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