Friday, January 30, 2015

Let's get down to business - January JLV Patterns Update


How can it be that January is already nearly over? Didn't it just start? Wasn't it just Christmas last week? Please tell me I'm not the only one who thinks this.

Well, I suppose with the impending end of the month though, signals my first monthly JLV Patterns Business round up. Yay! (Or not so yay if you find these kinds of things boring. I really don't blame you, but I'm excited. And I'm sure the cats would be excited if they'd only stop snoozing in the sun for 5 seconds to ponder just how that food got into their bowl... it must be magic.)

So, er, can we start January again please? January has been almost a bit of a nothing month JLV Patterns wise, but, I guess it's always going to be an interesting in-between time here. It's summer, so we've been outside in the garden a lot, we've also been painting and sanding and varnishing floors and it still feels like we're sort of on holiday (although the house is a mess and it's driving me nuts). I feel a little guilty for not spending as much time on my little business as I could, but with the sun and warm calling me outside, the distractions of long lazy summer days and messy house renovations going on with people going back and forth and my sewing room being occupied by all sorts of un-sewing related things (which in turn makes me never want to go in there), I've been taking it a bit easy.

That's not to say things haven't been happening though (and as I wrote the following sentence, I realised that I had actually done quite a bit really!). My next dress pattern is back from my lovely testers and I've made the all changes to the pattern itself. I've stitched up both versions and the promo photos have been taken (my biggest worry, due to the ever growing belly) and next week, I'll be in full on instruction-editing-mode. Then I can pull together the all the bits and pieces (so many bits and pieces...), ready for a launch in February sometime.

I really hope you like it. The new pattern, that is. I had some great feedback from the testers about the fit and style and I hope that carries through to when it's released.

In February, I have a few goals...
  • Probably at the top of most people's 2015 goals (and new year resolutions in general) is to be more organised - for me this is two tiered, starting with tackling my sewing room. There's a good reason why having a clear space means having a clear mind, and my work space is truly an atrocious mess at the moment. It actually makes me angry to work in there right now because there is so much stuff! So, clearing and tidying is pretty much first on my list, as soon as I can get in there...

    Secondly, I've always been a carry-my-diary-everywhere kinda girl, but last year, I didn't have one, and honestly felt a bit lost without my precious book of lists and things to do. David bought me a pretty new diary for Christmas and with a *cough* slow January start, I've been filling up February with appointments and lists and ideas and things that need catching up on. Perfect. I already feel better (even though my work space still makes me mad...).

  • The second goal is to get my teeth stuck into researching and preparing plans for paper patterns. I'm going to be starting out with the Bronte Top pattern, and the first step for me is to add the two extra sizes onto the upper end of the pattern. I hope I'll be able to re-release that pattern in pdf form by the end of the month.

    Going into paper patterns is quite daunting actually. It's obviously quite a bit more of a risk than pdf patterns, as I'll be investing in physical products that I not only need to re-lay and design for non-home printing purposes (that's going to take sooooooo long! Especially because I'm not exactly the fastest, I like to fiddle and take my time with these things), but they need to be well designed for cost of manufacture, ease of shipping, displaying, end usability and they need to be assembled, and stored and, gosh, there's just so much to think about.

    I'm also thinking about new colours and branding and how I want the overall design to look and feel. That then needs to carry through to my blog. So, it's a huge task and I think having a plan of attack and a clear timeline will really help to keep me focussed on what needs to be done and when. Rather than jumping head first into something that's a bit of an unknown for me.

  • And third, release my dress pattern! An obvious, but exciting goal. It's always nerve wracking, having spent so much time and energy on something. I'm always reminding myself though, that just because I like it and spent a lot of time on it, doesn't mean anyone else will like it or think it's worth making.

    I'm very much okay with this, but I still hope you like it! Obviously...

So, February, let's officially start 2015 now shall we?

Do you have any exciting February plans?

xx
J

Monday, January 26, 2015

Me Made Maternity: Week 22 - Kicked from the Inside...


Wearing - 40's Vogue dress

It's a strange feeling, being kicked from the inside. I've been feeling definite movements since about mid-week 19, and before that, possibly. Probably.

Every time I call David to come and feel the baby though, it turns into one of those bad comedy routines - the wee lad will always stop kicking as soon as David has his hand on my stomach. We hold our breaths and wait. Inevitably, we feel nothing and so David goes back to whatever it was he was doing, and BAM! I get kicked again.

David has managed to catch the baby a few times though, and this past week, we've actually seen the little kicks through my stomach. So weird. So.... much like a scene out of Aliens. In an oddly good and reassuring way.



Anyway, onto the dress!  I loved this Vogue pattern when I first made it - so much so I made three different versions of the dress (Number 1, 2 & 3). And to be honest, I think I officially love it even more now. They've started getting a pretty good work out over the past few weeks, and I'm sure their work load will continue to grow as I do. They're all made from knits, they're stretchy and comfortable, and although my waist line is creeping slowly northwards, they're still super flattering on.

By the time I'm due, I may hate them. But for now, we can't get enough of each other, and I expect you'll be seeing them a lot more during this series in the months to follow.

xx
J

Monday, January 19, 2015

Me Made Maternity - Week 21: Sneaky Peeks



Wearing - The Afternoon Blouse (pattern available here) & a modified version of one 
of the skirt options for the forthcoming new pattern!!

When I found out I was pregnant, I started to experiment with gathered skirts and stretchy waistbands. Let's just say some of my initial experiments were not very flattering, even on a barely noticeable pregnant belly. 

You see, the first thing I tried was a simple gathered skirt with the waistband folded over and then the elastic threaded through. This turned out to be reeeeeally unflattering on me because the gathered nature of the waistband itself made my waistline almost disappear completely. I had also chosen much too heavy a fabric and had gone for way too many gathers. (Yeah I admit it, I've never made a gathered elastic waist skirt before. They've honestly just never been on my wardrobe radar. I know, it's probably weird...it's pretty much supposed to be the first thing you make right? Along with a pillow case?).

I love big, full, gathered skirts, but I've realised that they only look flattering on me when paired with a fitted bodice at the waist or a flat waistband, and that I seem to naturally gravitate towards those styles, to give the effect of an overall smaller waist. Good thing to know *wink*.

So, after a few more experiments, I came up with the idea of using the elastic as the 'flat' waist band itself and just stitching the skirt to it, while stretched. This not only gives you an even gather, but it's a super quick little make that gives you that all important smaller waist when belts no longer become a bearable option.





The one I'm wearing is made with a vintage rayon from my stash, and I realise that I probably should have made it a bit longer so that as I got bigger, I could wear the skirt up and over the belly, without showing too much to unsuspecting bystanders. But, at least I'll still get wear out of it when I'm not pregnant any more.

And, this skirt pattern is actually a little sneak peek of one of the skirt options for my next dress pattern. All-in-one yoke pockets everyone! It's a super easy little adjustment to make to the skirt and I'll be sharing a tutorial soon.

Then of course, pair it with a breezy Afternoon Blouse and you've got yourself a simple, quick and lovely little summery maternity outfit.





xx
J

PS) please excuse the plastic-wrapped-flooring-solution, we're currently painting...

Monday, January 12, 2015

Me Made Maternity - Week 20: If the Skirt Fits...

Ever since I found out I was pregnant (which was very early on), I knew I wanted to write about wearing hand-made throughout my pregnancy. I wanted to see how much I could mix up the hand-mades I already have (and make them last as long as possible!), as well as adapt patterns I already have into maternity-friendly clothing. I wear hand-made virtually everyday and thought that being pregnant shouldn't make it any different, it's just a bit more challenging.


And the 'definitely pregnant from the side' shot...

You see, I've entered into a whole new target market now, and it seems to me, that just like the words 'wedding' or 'bride', as soon as you put 'maternity' or 'baby' in front of a product, it's all of a sudden worth five times as much as it was before. Think wedding cakes, bridal hair or wedding flowers - they all of a sudden cost so much more because they are specifically for a wedding. Well, babies and maternity seem to be no different from what I've spied.

Take an empire waist, stretchy jersey dress (what looks to be a pregnancy staple) - you can find these kinds of dresses in just about any department store for cheap as chips. But as soon as you go looking for the same thing in a specialty maternity store, or the maternity section of a shop, they're all of a sudden worth so much more than they were before.




Like most people, we're on a budget, and luckily I know my way around a sewing machine so I'm going to be making much of my maternity wardrobe, even though I'm a self-confessed disliker of making 'specialty clothing' or clothes that will only be worn a handful of times. With maternity, while they aren't exactly frou frou party dresses I'll never wear, there is technically only a limited amount of wear you'll get out of them. In saying that, I love wearing hand-made and I love that I can make something specifically to fit me and my needs, so I'm diving in head first - with lots of ideas for a budget-friendly, stylish and practical hand-made maternity wardrobe, coming right up over the next few months.

So, this week, week 20 and officially half way through, what am I wearing? I'm not into full on maternity clothes yet and can still fit into a reasonable amount of my current hand-mades, despite my slowly northward-travelling waist line. The skirt I'm wearing is one of my absolute favourite hand-mades, that I never blogged about. I know, I can't believe it *face palm*. I wear it probably at least once a week. It's a self-drafted pencil skirt with pleats at the front (perfect for a growing stomach or hiding a big lunch) and a little kick-pleat at the back. It's made from wool, is fully lined and is the perfect mixture of colour and pattern to enable me to wear it any number of different ways and not get bored. It also doesn't need any ironing, even after living on my floor for a few days - I can just pick it up, put it on, and head out the door, no fuss.



The day I can't do this skirt up anymore will be a sad day indeed, but here's a little secret - if it's a particularly cold day, throw on a long/loose cardigan and undo the button at the back. Nobody will be any the wiser, and I have done this a few times in the evenings when everything has just felt a bit too tight after dinner. 

If you wanted a bit of extra security, instead of buying one of those 'specialty' stretchy bands that allows you to wear your favourite jeans, but with the button open and zip down, why not try a hair elastic instead? Does exactly the same thing, and you probably already have a million hiding around the house, hanging out with those dust bunnies and bobby pins under your bed (just me then?).

xx
J

Saturday, January 10, 2015

This Year...

I know it might be a tiny bit late now, but oh boy, what a year 2014 has been. David and I certainly did not do things by halves last year. For some reason, we seemed to have packed in as many major milestones as we could have...

Christmas Gingerbread baking.

Old cotton thread spools in my sewing room.

A winter sunrise where I live...
  • We bought a house and undertook some rather major renovations of said house and it's over-grown garden. We also inherited 3 chooks.

    While we're still working away at the house, my next goal is to get the house blog up-to-date so I can start posting about the things we're doing to it now, rather than things that we did a few months ago.
Fresh eggs and artichoke from the garden.

My sewing room does not currently look like this. We've been sanding and varnishing floors so there is a lot of stuff in there at the moment!

I may have gone overboard with the planting of sweet peas this year.

Making broccoli and cheese soup in my new-to-me pot.

Monty, keeping the bed warm.

Spring blossoms on the cherry tree.


I'm a real gardner now!
  • I started my own tiny, wee, fledgling business making sewing patterns. It's not something I really discussed much on here just in case, you know, it didn't quite work out. At least then, I could slink back into my wee hole and pretend it had never existed.

    But amazingly and thankfully, the sewing community has really seemed to appreciate the patterns I've released, so in 2015 I'd like to start talking about my wee business a bit more a la Tasia and A Fashionable Stitch. I love reading about their businesses, the successes, the failures (and oh how there have been failures for me...).

    I also have some big plans in mind, like - drum roll please - paper patterns!!  Yep, I know you guys have been asking, so who am I to say no? I'll be doing trial runs of a few of my most popular patterns to test the waters first and after that, who knows...
  • David became an official Doctor, and I a Dr's wife (just not that kind of doctor...) in November. So we travelled back over to our old stomping ground and enjoyed the weather and catching up with friends.
Jacaranda's blooming in the USYD Quad on David's graduation day.


The Christmas tree in the QVB.
  • I nearly completed my personal goal of buying no new clothing in 2014. I caved a few days after Christmas and bought a dress (or two) that will be maternity-friendly. The sale was just too good!!

Buttons on my first ever finished knitted garment, the Miette Cardigan.
  • And of course, the rather big (and growing) news, I got pregnant. The wee bun is due on the 30th May (two days after my 30th birthday). And thanks so much for all of your well wishes on my last post!! A new journey begins...
Central Otago cherries, now it's officially summer.

So, while 2015 has rather a lot to live up to, it's not exactly shaping up to be uneventful.  Here's to wishing each and everyone of you a happy new year, whatever it may bring.

xx
J

All photos are from my instagram from throughout the year.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Biggest Project Yet...

So, I've been working on a pretty big and exciting (and scary!) project behind the scenes over the past few months...

I'm pregnant!
16 weeks. 

Yup. I am with child. I've got a bun in the oven. I got knocked up. There is a pea in the pod (only one). I'm expecting. I'm growing a human. I'm in the family way.... etc etc.

I'm at 19 weeks and on New Years eve, we had the scan to measure everything and to tell us that we were going to be having a very wriggly little boy (he really didn't want to cooperate with being scanned and kept moving around. It's such a strange and surreal thing to see your baby actually moving on a screen!!!).

I had originally written a completely different post to the one you're about to read, but I had written it during those awful, hazy, first couple of weeks where everyday is made up of nausea, exhaustion and little else.

Those first weeks were pretty awful, I'm not going to lie. But now that I'm through the worst of it, when I re-read the original post I had written about just-how-awful it was, I couldn't quite remember it being that bad (though I'm sure David has something to say on this matter). While I know it was bad, because it was happening during an all consuming fog, it almost seems like it was happening to someone else, and I was merely watching from the side lines. So when people ask me about how my first trimester went, my response tends to be a little more on the 'It was okay' side of things. I'm hoping I have the same response to the whole birthing process... we'll see.

17 weeks.

I hope this goes some way to explaining why I've been a bit vague and sporadic in my posting. I've been trying to finish up the summer dress pattern I already had in the works before we found out - so I can model it before my waist disappears entirely (I'm still relatively small and can suck it in when I feel like it, hehe...). Add in some hyperventilating, the long lists of things that need doing to the house before a little person arrives (thank goodness over Christmas we finally got started again doing some of the things we had been putting off - like painting and sanding and varnishing...) and all the things a little person needs. You wouldn't think it'd be that much, I mean, they're little! Add in our trip away in November (during weird first-trimester haze), Christmas and New Year, and, well, it's all just been a bit busy. Plus, now that the summer weather is here, the garden is exploding and it seems like we're currently just holding on for the ride.

So, I'll be releasing the last non-maternity dress around mid to end of February - yes, I said 'non-maternity' because, you know I have maternity pattern ideas right? Expect them come April or so. My idea is that they could also work for non-maternity and will hopefully be breast-feeding friendly - I'll let you know how that goes... So, erm, Ladies who are pregnant, planning on it or who are currently breastfeeding (and will be for the next few months), do send me an email if you have any desire to test for me (that's a bit cheeky of me isn't it?).

In the mean time, I'm dreaming up patterns for soft toys and ABC quilts and all things baby - except for baby clothes. For some reason, I have absolutely no desire to sew baby clothes. Maybe it's the fact that they grow out of them as soon as they're on or something... So feel free to stitch away for me if you feel so inclined *wink wink*.

19 weeks.

Lastly, some of you may want to know if my blog will turn into one of those 'all about my offspring' blogs. My honest answer to that is who knows. I'm pretty sure it won't, considering this is a sewing blog. But obviously, it's going to become a rather huge part of my life and since I won't be sewing an awful lot of non-pregnancy-related clothes for myself in the next few months, and instead starting to stitch up toys and dream about baby rooms and er, make curtains (I really need to get onto sewing those curtains...) and maybe a thing or two for David, that might be what you'll be seeing around here a little more often. And photos of food - now that I can stand in the kitchen for longer than 5 minutes. And my garden. And my baby kitty-moos. And our house renovations...

I hope it's not too boring.

xx
J

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!!





Mocha loves me almost as much as I love her. Can you tell?

Happy New Year from Mocha, Monty (not pictured), David (also not pictured) and I.

We hope you had/have a safe and happy time seeing in the New Year - we've been busy painting the kitchen and sanding floors. So, not exactly party central...

I’ll be back this week with some fun plans for 2015 and a little review of 2014. 

See you in a bit…

xx

J (M, M & D)