Archive | February, 2010

Little Prince William

26 Feb

When I first started this blog, I was 6 weeks away from my due date. On Friday the 19th of February, my little man decided that it was time to see the world, and I gave birth to little William Anthony Wyld, who weighed 7 lbs and 1 oz at birth. He is one week old today.

My little Prince William

I can’t believe it could be possible to love someone so much.


Sewing and Pattern Drafting Books

14 Feb

Last week I found a Winifred Aldrich book on Metric Pattern Drafting for Men’s Wear on Ebay selling for AUD16 dollars and won a bid on it. At Dymocks I paid for my Women’s Wear one for AUD 75! I thought it was a bargain for 16 dollars. But I had to go and pick it up from the seller at Brighton Carboot Market, which is South West from where we live. Saved me about AUD12 in postage. So Wyld Man and I rushed there from church in order to meet Jim the seller before 12 noon, which was when they close shop.  While I was there, he took out some more books on sewing and pattern drafting. And I got them all. Sigh.

Aldrich’s book on Menswear

It’s the 1990 edition.

Overgarment block

Classic Shirt Block

Draft for a sports jacket

Drafting collars and revers

Drafts for boxer shorts and undies

Easy fitting classic suit block

I can’t wait to draft something for Wyld Man! He needs a new cassock for serving at mass.

This second book I picked up there was a real treasure.

Successful Dressmaking by Ellen and Marietta Resek

There is no date of publication, but it looks like it was written in the 40’s or early 50’s.

Although the book is titled “Successful Dressmaking”, it has a big section on just pattern drafting, which got me really excited.

It actually made a reference to Harriet Peppin, her book Modern Pattern Design being the definitive drafting book published in 1942. You can read the entire book at

A reference to Harriet Peppin

A draft for a bodice block

I liked the simplicity of it. However, the armhole curve wasn’t detailed-it just said “Curve armhole”.

Sleeve draft

Skirt draft

Shorts draft

How to draft facings

Even a section on children’s wear

A list of contents

I paid AUD 20 for it. It was well worth it, because its more than 60 years old, in excellent condition for it’s age. The binding was tight, and the dust jacket in very good condition for a book that old. It was also published in Adelaide, which Wyld Man noted was unusual.

My next find-

Principles of Dressmaking by Doris Lewis

This book was published in Adelaide as well by the Education Department by the Government publisher in 1945.

It also has a big section on pattern drafting.

Publication information

How to take measurements

Basic Bodice

This book has actually made drafts of the basic bodice for different body shapes.

Drafts for the underdeveloped figure

Drafts for the stout figure.

Drafts for the extra stout figure

Brassier top slip

Smie fitting top coat

Double Breasted coat

Dressing Jacket

I paid AUD11 for this one.

All in all, it was a good day’s work.

Edited on 1/12/2014: I’ve published maternity and nursing patterns on Craftsy! Be sure to check them out!

Grandma’s 80th Birthday

14 Feb

Yesterday we celebrated Grandma’s 80th birthday.The whole thing had been in the works for 2 months. We wanted Grandma to have a really posh birthday party. She had asked that we go to one particular restaurant, but we thought it wasn’t nice enough for her birthday-everyone thought she’d like to go to the Naval and Military Club where Grandpa had his 80th 2 years ago (and also where Wyld Man and I had our wedding reception.)  The Club is a very classy establishment and men are required to wear a jacket and tie to enter. We had to keep mum about it-didn’t even tell Grandpa for fear that he might let slip. We did tell him to wear a jacket and tie-although when he did, we were afraid that Grandma might figure it out where we were going. We also had another surprise for grandma-Uncle David had arranged for a stretch limo to pick us up-she thought it was going to be an ordinary cab.

Family photo in front of the stretch limo

Here’s what it looks like inside.

A bar and dvd player

People living it up

Grandma and Grandpa

Wyld Man and me

Wyld Man and his brother

Another look at the limo

We rode in the limo for an hour around the city and really enjoyed it.  We arrived at the Club at 7pm.

We had a private room all ro ourselves.

The Colonel Downes Room

The boys wanted to play a round of snooker before ordering though…so us ladies had to wait. A loooong time. I don’t think they knew what they were doing.

Playing snooker.

We finally got to order at 830pm.

Marron and King Prawns.

I had marron and king prawns in garlic butter as an entree-marron being a crablike crustacian, but more meaty that crab. It was delicious.

Butter Chicken

For mains I had the special, Butter Chicken. I love anything that comes with rice.

We brought the cake out and sang Happy Birthday to Grandma.

A group picture before we wrapped up the evening.

And of course, a picture of me and Wyld Man

White Maternity Top

14 Feb

I had quite a lot of material left over from the white maternity skirt I finished 3 days ago, and decided to make a top to go with it. I also had Wyld Man’s grandma’s 80th birthday party to go to on Saturday, I thought to quickly whip a top up. I started with a sketch.

A sketch of my maternity outfit

Deciding on the style lines of the top

I had to draft this pattern from scratch.  So out came my Aldrich block.

My Winifred Alrich Close Fitting Bodice Block in size 12

I needed to trace off a block on newspaper which I could cut out and move around to determine the style lines.

If you look closely, you will see an orange line above the waist line and below the armhole line-that’s my maternity/empire waistline,  under which I extend the pattern to accomodate a baby bump. Any pattern can be modified to become a maternity pattern. Just determine where the bump starts, and draw a line across-normally 2-3 inches below the bustline.

Getting ready to trace a block. Here, I layer carbon sheets on the bottom facing up, a large piece of newspaper, and the block which I want to trace off.

Laying out my trusty pattern weights.

Here you can just see the faint outline of the bodice I've traced. I'm going to cut it out.

These are the top part of the pattern above the maternity line, cut with princess seams, without seam allowances.

Here I've closed the bust dart with tape and drawn the style lines in red, which I will cut out.

Cutting out the style lines

Here I am determining the length of the back shoulder seam, and drawing the back neckline.

After cutting the style lines, I trace off the pattern pieces on a separate piece of newspaper with seam allowances.

Pattern pieces with seam allowances outlined in red.

Next, the sleeves.

This is my one-piece sleeve block from my Aldrich book without seam allowances. Single noth denotes the front, double notch denotes the back.

I wanted a slightly flared sleeve so…

I slashed the sleeve block to make a flared sleeve, and traced around the sleeve with seam allowances.

I made facings for the front and back neckline-not shown here.

The bottom front and back panels were easy-not much manipulation involved, except for the fact that I extended the front centre line by about 5 inches to gathers. However, I later found that I had made a mistake and only extended the front by 1 inch-AFTER the material had been cut-don’t know how that happened. So instead of gathers like in the sketch, I made an inverted pleat by cutting down the front centre line, and adding in a square of material into it.

Final pattern pieces all cut out.

I decided to make a muslin (test garment) to try out the fit. I only needed to try the top of the blouse, so I cut out the top part of the pattern from an old bedsheet I picked up at an opshop. In hindsight, I should have made a muslin of the whole top, in order to catch the mistake on the front bottom panels where the gathers were supposed to be.

Laying out the pattern on the op shop bedsheet for my muslin.

The cut pattern pieces for the muslin.

I tacked all the important joining points for the muslin-princess seamlines are hard to put together without them.

The finished muslin.

I tried it on and was quite happy with the fit, so I proceeded to cut it out of the white linen.

Laying out pattern pieces on the linen for cutting.

The linen material all cut out.

Tailor tacking all the points and notches to ease of joining all the pieces together EXACTLY.

Now I need to finish the edges of all the cut material.

Overlocking all the edges of the material.

I overlock all edges except the sleeve cap and the necklines on the main garment and the necklines of the facings. This is because the later seams will be enclosed, and the former will have the seam allowances trimmed off and reserged/re-overlocked.

I don’t know what I’d do without my overlocker. For one, I wouldn’t be sewing clothes at all-I’d still be stuck just sewing things like cloth nappies. I hate the look of raw unfinished edges on garments-didn’t see any point attempting to make one at all if I couldn’t finish the insides properly. And I don’t suscribe to the pink and stitch school of things.

Here I've matched tailor tacks between the front top panel with the side panel.

Tailor’s tacks makes joining princess seams sooooo easy. I used to spend ages trying to get the two opposing curves on princess seams to match. This was a cinch.

I've also made little notches on the curves of the princess seams to ease it into the opposing seam.

This is how the front top panel looks pin basted together.

Ironing out the curved seam on a rolled up nappy.

Here I've joined the armhole piece to the front top panel.

At this point, I started joining the bottom extended panel to the top, but realised that there was only 2 inches of excess material for the gathers I had intended. I decided to make an inverted pleat instead of gathers by cutting down the centre front line of the bottom panel, and adding in 10 inches of fabric for an inverted pleat. However, before I did that, I finished making up the back panel pieces.

The back panel pieces.

The 10 inch square of fabric I cut out for the inverted pleat. Had to overlock the edges of that.

This is the finished front piece with the inverted pleat at the bottom

Next, I joined the shoulder seams and the side and back seams together.

Then, the facings.

I joined the neck facings together

Joining the facings to the neckline

Trimming the seam allowances under the facings to reduce bulk-also called grading.

Here, I understitch the facing to the seam allowances to prevent the facings from turning upwards

Next up, the sleeves. Sleeve caps are normally 1-2 cms longer than the armhole length. This requires the excess fabric to be eased into the armhole. This has to be done without puckering, which is easy to do if unfamiliar with the technique outlined below.

Here I make a long running stitch between the notches on my sleeve cap and pull the threads to make a slight gather. This allows me to ease the sleeve into the armhole.

Insert the sleeve into the armhole right sides together. Pin baste from the side seams up and distribute the gathers at the sleeve cap evenly. Pin in small intervals to ensure even easing of the sleeve into the armhole and to prevent puckering.

Sew with the sleeve facing upwards and away from the needle plate.

This prevents puckers from appearing, which is easy to do if the sleeve was facing downwards while you sew it into the armhole.

I’m almost finished!

Pinning up my hem

I’m making a blind hem, which require me to fold the hem twice, once unto the wrong side 5/8 inch up, and then back onto the opposing side, just enough for the overlocked edge to show, just like in the picture.

I use my adjustable blind hem foot and set the machine to do a blindhem stitch.

I give the top a through press.

And I’m finished!

I’ve put both my maternity skirt and the top together for pictures.

Front view

Back view.

My whole outfit

I decided that I needed a belt to break up the white-it looked a bit boring without it. But the top and the skirt are great separates for a mix and match look.

White Maternity Skirt

11 Feb

I have been needing a white skirt to wear with some tops that won’t go with anything but. Last night I sewed up a 7-gored, 7 godet skirt out of a white jacquard weave linen.

This was what I wanted it to look like.

It would have a stretch waistband with a maternity panel in from to accomodate my belly. No closures.

I got out my file with all my drafted blocks and patterns.

My skirt block drafted from Winifred Aldrich's Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear

Laying the skirt block out.

I've drawn a maternity line-the curved line follows the baby bump all around. Everything else will fit as per pre pregnancy.

I draw out the stylelines for my skirt. You can see the godet I drew in between one of the gore panels.

I already have a pattern for a 7 gored and flared skirt from a few months before, so I only needed to draft the godet. I made it  6inches long, and 3 inches wide on each side of the red middle line.

My trusty carbon sheets. This is just 8 sheets of A4 carbon paper stuck on a broadsheet newspaper.

Laid a sheet of newspaper on top

Layed the block on top

And used my double Clover tracing wheel to trace the seamlines of the godet onto the newspaper

Turn the newspaper over-and tada! A perfectly traced godet pattern piece.

These are the pattern pieces i made a few months back for a flared, 7-godet skirt, plus my godet.

I wanted my new skirt to be an inch longer though, so I made a note on all my pattern pieces that it be cut an inch longer with 5/8 inch seam allowance.

These were the materials I used. The white linen jacquard and a white Lycra I bought for AUD1.99 from an opshop at 1.5m.

I laid out the pattern pieces on the material and pinned and cut.

Laying out the rest of the pattern pieces

This is the Lycra piece I cut for the waistband

I wanted it 3 inches wide

Here is the maternity waistband all cut out.

All the pattern pieces cut out.

I used tailors tacks on all the points where the seams join, especially for the godets, which saved me heaps of time.

I made sure I marked the centre back, centre front, the right and wrong side of the material.

Overlocking all the raw edges of the material

Here I overlock the centre back seam of the waistband into a tube and pinned all the edges together.

And overlocked all the seams

Next, I laid out all the front panel pieces together.

Matching tailor's tacks between the gore panels.

Matching the tailors tacks for the godets and the panels.

I realised that I had to sew the godet onto one panel first, before joining two gore panels together.

That little tailor tack X was very important.

I had to make sure to start the stitch at that point on both sides of the gore panels, being careful not to catch the fabric underneath, which would have resulted in a pucker.

Sewing the two gore panels together from the top down to the godet point X.

I repeated all the steps for joining the godet and panels for the front.

This was what the front looked like.

And the back

I always make a point of making the front and back panels separately, and then joining the side seams last with a basting stitch to check the fit. At this point, I realise that it was too tight, so I reduced the 5/8 inch seam allowance to 1/4 inch at the sides. But that wasn’t enough either, so I had to rip out the stitchs at the centre back seam and resew that at 1/4 inch seam allowance.

This is what the whole skirt looked like after I joined the front and back panels together.

Ironing the seams flat. Very important.

Next, the waistband.

Joining the waistband to the skirt

I had marked the centre of the skirt and the waistband with tailors tack, so matching them up was a breeze.

I separated the waistband into quarterly intervals, and pinned it to the skirt, stretching the lycra to ease in the skirt fabric.


It needs an iron again.

But this is what it looks like on me.

Front Side view

Back side view

Me in my new skirt.

I hemmed the skirt up, but wasn’t satisfied with the way it fell stiffly, so I unpicked the blindhem stitching, and will use a rolled hem on my overlocker to finish it.

I love the versatility of a white skirt, and especially a maternity one with an wide stretchy waistband.

Beef Mince Curry Pie

11 Feb

With my due date coming up in 13 days (read-24th Feb), I’ve decided that my freezer needs more fast and easy meals for when I’m too exhausted to cook. I recently used a gift card for David Jones given as a wedding present to get a Sunbeam Magic 4-up PieMaker.

My new toy!

She makes 4 pies at once on a non-stick surface.

Isn’t she pretty?

Anyways, here’s a post on how I made a Beef  Mince Curry Pie.

These were the ingredients that I used.

Puff pastry, short crust pastry, carrots, an onion, potatoes, beef mince, worcestershire sauce, flour, mixed herbs, salt and pepper

Curry Powder too!

First, the onion.

Cut in half. And peel.

Make several incisions 1 cm from the top end downwards.

Turn 90 degress and slice thinly.

Makes a very fine and neat dice.

I peel all the carrots and potatoes

Cut the potato 4-5 times lengthwise.

Take half of the slices, lay them flat, and slice lengthwise again in 1 cm widths

Turn 90 degress and cut into 1 cm widths into neat dices.

Slice the carrots lenghwise into 1 cm widths

Turn 90 degrees and cut into 1 cm widths

Put both the diced carrots and potatoes into a microwaveable bowl and microwave on high for 10-15 minutes till soft.

Potatoes and carrots in a bowl to be microwaved.

Or you can boil in a pot of water till soft. Set aside.

Heat up some oil

Throw in the onions

Add 2 big tablespoons of sugar

Stir the onions till translucent.

Beef mince

Add salt, pepper and mixed herbs to the beef mince

Add curry powder


I added about 3 heaping tablespoons of curry. This dries the meat up for browning in hot oil. If the meat was wet, it would not brown properly, but would stew instead.

Add the meat to the hot oil. The onions would have been nicely caramelised by now.

Brown the mince on one side, then turn over.

Add half cup of Worcestershire sauce.

Add the microwaved carrots and potatoes

Add a cup of water. I used the mixing bowl which had curry in it-which is why the water looks like stock

Sprinkle a heaping tablespoon of flour and stir.

I repeated the last two steps twice. You want to get a thick gravy-like consistency. If it gets too thick, add more water and keep stirring to keep the bottom from being burned. Also, taste and adjust. I added more salt, sugar and curry powder at this point.

It's ready to be dished into pies!

The next steps involve pastry and the piemaker.

My pastry cutter which came with the Sunbeam Piemaker

I used the pastry maker to cut out the bottom of the pie. Here I use short crust pastry for the bottom, and puff pastry for the top.

The pastry cutter cuts the pastry into this shape. I fold the little cuts on the edges to form a little cup.

Put them into the pie-holes and fill with yummy beef mince curry filling!

Top it off with puff pastry rounds

Shut the lid and wait 8 minutes.

Perfect pies!

I made 16 pies and froze most of them.

Wyld Man ate two. He loves it.

Op Shop Bargains!

10 Feb

Last Saturday my mother-in-law stumbled into a Baptish Church opshop. Knowing my love for bargains, she went in and saw clothes, fabrics, baby things, and she hurried home to tell me about it. And both rushed back there a half hour before it closed. There were racks of clothes being sold at 50cents a piece, as well as rooms devoted to women’s wear, baby wear, menswear and odd bric-a-brac.

The first thing that caught my eye were 2 pairs of Jeanswest Maternity jeans-50 cents each!

Jeanswest Maternity Jeans

They were practically brand new and in my size!  I wouldn’t wear them in summer, but I’ll wear them in winter for a winter baby. Wink!

I was excited when I saw that they had a cupboardful of fabrics. Here’s what I picked out for a dollar a bundle.

My op shop fabric.

The top fabric is a large yardage of blue-green linen.

Pink polyester tricot.

A pretty light green checked cotton blend.

Would probably make a nice boy’s shirt.

A beautiful silver grey material.

Can’t figure out what it is. It’s wonderfully soft and silky, but I think it’s probably a synthetic blend.

A really pretty vintage print cotton

A mustard-brown linen.

And last but not least…

A really interesting heavy weight cotton print

I also browsed through they sewing notions and found this.

A shoebox full of zippers

And they weren’t old vintage ones either.

Some of the zippers were new.

The lady said there were some sewing books-but somebody had already made off with them. Darn!

But the prize of the day was this.

An almost brand new bassinet

It came in about 10 minutes after we did. And I just fell in love with it. Even though we already had one given to us…this on was just so hard to resist. It was absolutely beautiful. Retail it would be at least AUD150 or more. This one was AUD 25.  It was probably a spare one from the grandparents when they babysat the little one. But it really looks new. And the cream-coloured frills! To die for.

I also got this.

It's not a golf bag.

Take off the cover and you get this.

It's not a shopping trolley.

It unfolds to.....

A Portacot!

Really handy for travelling. Or even as a playpen! Got this one knocked down from AUD40 to AUD 20.

It was a wonderful day.

Chicken Mee

10 Feb

I bought 3 chicken carcasses yesterday morning and made stock with it. And I spent a good 40 minutes picking off the bits of chicken on the bones-there was quite a lot of it. And I decided to cook a dish with it last night. I wanted something fast and simple. So I made Chicken Mee.

Mee is the Malaysian word for fat yellow noodles. Meehoon is the word we use for thin noodles, like rice vermicelli. I explained the difference to Wyld Man last night-and he said “I’ll call you MEE now, and MEEHOON after the baby comes.” Hrumph!

Anyways. These were the ingredients I used.

Carrots, Celery, Dark Soy Sauce, Chili Sauce, Oyster Sauce, Eggs, Shredded Chicken, Garlic, Dried yellow noodles, salt and pepper

First, I boiled some water with which to soften the mee.

Setting the kettle boiling

Put the dried mee in a bowl.

Pour boiling water over the mee

And leave for 5 minutes till softened. Different brands will take different times to soften.

I peel and slice my carrots lengthwise. They look like canons ready to fire!

Cut quarter lengthwise again till no more than 1 cm in width.

Turn 90 degrees and chop into squares. Like in the frozen vegies pack.

Wash anc cut the celery sticks where the stems branch out.

Cut the the bottom stems lenthwise like the carrots

Turn 90 degrees and chop

By this time the mee would have been sufficiently softened. Loosen up with a fork.


The brand of oyster sauce that I use-Ayam Brand, which means Chicken brand in Malay.

Add about 2 big tablespoons.

Dark Soy Sauce.

Wyld  Man loves this sauce….bottle. He keeps bugging me to finish it so that he can use it for beer bottling. It’s a crown seal you see. It means that the you can use a beer cap on it repeatedly. Most glass bottles are screw caps which isn’t ideal for beer. But I’ll blog about beer another time.

Add 2 big tablespoons.

Chilli Sauce.

Mae Ploy brand is a brand I’ve heard mentioned in cooking blogs. This sauce has lots and lots of chili seeds in it. But it’s not really hot. Just a thick sweetness with a teeny bite.

2 big tablespoons. Maybe I should just abbreviate this to 2BT

Mix it up and thoroughly coat the mee with the sauces.

Have a taste and correct whatever is missing.

Heat the wok/pan with some oil.

As I’ve explaing before, I would normally use a wok. But I have electric stovetops instead of gas, and my wok is not completely flat-bottomed. So I elect to use a big pan instead. Works just as well.

At the same time, heat some oil in a non-stick pan.

Break a couple of eggs into a bowl and...


Pour it into the non-stick skillet. Leave to set at low heat.

Take a teaspoon of garlic.

You can use freshly cut and minced garlic. But I’m lazy.

Add to the oil.

Add the garlic before the oil gets too hot, or the garlic will get burned.

I add my shredded chicken.

You can substitute this with any meat-just be sure to cut it bite-sized or use a mince. Minced pork or diced chicken will do as well.

Add the celery and stir.

Add a dash of oyster sauce

Here you can add a bit of chicken stock or water-half a cup, to prevent the bottom from burning.

Add the carrots, and a dash of dark soy sauce.

Add more stock or water-another half cup and let simmer a bit with the cover on to soften the vegies.

Add the mee and stir with two forks to avoide breaking the mee into small bits

Remember the eggs from before? Break them up and add them in.

If you want your mee a bit wet or saucy, add a bit more water/stock and cover till boiling.

Take off the heat and serve.


Wyld Man likes MEE!!

My Op Shop Find

1 Feb

I had the car today and went to four opshops-not looking for anything in particular. I had thought to look for some men’s shirts-but couldn’t find anything that Wyld Man would normally wear. But I was able to pick up what looked like a brand-new single quilt cover for AUD6.

I also found this.

My new hat.

Back view

This is how I look in it.

View from the back

It’s a straw colour, which will go well with most of my outfits. With my other navy hat, I have something to go with every outfit!

I also picked up a pair of earrings.

Antique-look earrings

I love op shops.

By the way, that top came from an op shop too.

However, I didn’t really find any clothes that I particularly liked today, despite going into two Vinnies stores, 1 Salvos and 1 Goodwill store. Bummer.