Tuesday, 27 December 2011


About a month ago, one of my lovely friends sent me a link to a rather irresistible event. As anyone even remotely crafty will tell you, having a drawer/box/wardrobe/bedroom's worth of material built up is a pretty common problem. Enter the Fabric-a-Brac! Essentially a market for material stashes, it looked like a decent opportunity for sellers to offload some old supplies and for buyers to grab a bargain.

To be honest, I wasn't expecting much and I already had a lot planned for the day, so I figured I'd just pop in for half an hour. My expectations seemed to be reinforced by the plastic flags and coloured paper flowers adorning the entrance to the building. But when I actually arrived, all of that was rather pleasantly blown the window.

Photo by Angus Forbes
The suite it was held in was both big and packed. There were tables and tables full of fabric and accessories, and wherever there wasn't a table, there was a person. A lot of the people were about my age too, which was reassuring. It was actually somewhat intimidating! As I may have mentioned before, I'm more of a knitter than a seamstress, so all the fabric sent my head into a spin.

Luckily one of the first tables I found was full of wool, so I managed to calm down a bit with something familiar. If you haven't noticed yet, my favourite colour is purple. I've told and told and told myself that I won't buy any more purple clothes or wool, but I just couldn't help myself. There were balls of a maroon cashmere/silk blend for $4 a pop. Usually something like that would cost about $12 at my local wool store, so I went ahead and snapped it up. I have a vague idea to make a little lacy bolero with it, but I have to try and find a pattern for one!

Photo by Angus Forbes
Having armed myself with some wool, I decided to take on the fabric. Most of the fabric shopping I've done previously has been based on whatever brightly coloured print catches my eye, and I don't have much of a handle on what to look for when it comes to different fabric compositions - although I do know that somewhat thickish, quilting-weight cotton makes for nice pouches. Narrowing in on something good when you're faced with this much unfamiliar product is hard though!

After circling around the whole studio once or twice and still having no idea, I fell back to my normal shopping method. Usually when I want to buy something I'll find something I like, walk out of the store, and if it's still on my mind about it an hour later I figure I actually do like it and I'll go back and buy it. Yes, I am somewhat indecisive. After two goes around the studio, the only thing that I was still thinking about was a small strip of thick textured cotton in a nice retro bluish print. I couldn't remember exactly where it was, so I went round again until I found it. Strangely enough the stall owner had no idea how much to sell it to me for so we just came to some mutual agreement on pricing - I don't even remember how much it was now! The material will be up in the Oli-store soon if you'd like a pouch made out of it.

The last stop was a table that I had spotted that was selling patterns. I've never sewn up a piece of clothing before, and to be honest sewing patterns scare me. But I've been wanting to try it for a while. I really want to make myself a skirt out of some sort of spotty black and white material that's a decent length - mid-length skirts are a surprisingly difficult thing to find in shops at the moment! I started rummaging through the pattern box and lo and behold, there was a nice skirt pattern. Even better, both the packaging and the store owner told me that it was an easy one to follow, so I added it to the shopping bag. The owner also told me that the pattern would look nice with some sort of lace or trimming on it, and I should go find myself some.

Luckily in my confused wandering around the studio I'd spotted a trimmings stall. I managed to score myself some black lace which would go nicely with any spotty black and white skirt material.

I really wanted to go find myself some material for the skirt, but by this point my 30 minutes was up. I left the studio very very reluctantly, but with a bag full of goodies. Hopefully it'll be on again sometime soon, and I can find a friend to go with who knows what they're looking for so I'm not completely lost!

Monday, 12 December 2011

It's Beginning to Feel A Lot Like Christmas...

How on earth is it December already? I can't complain though - Christmas is my favourite time of the year and around now is when you can just smell it in the air (especially if you're near a real tree).

I only just realised how long it's been since I posted a proper entry. I promise I haven't been being slack, it's mainly just that I've been a busy busy bee. I'll write up a lot about it soon, but just to give you a taste of what I've been up to, here's a sneak peek!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Project 365: Week 7

Day 43 (17/10/11)

Nick's been hanging out for a new iPhone for a while, so when the 4S was announced he pre-ordered one as soon as he could and it was delivered to his house one morning. I've had an iPhone 4 for a while, and putting them side to side they looked exactly the same. I took a photo of the only difference we could find between them :)

Day 44 (18/10/11)

It was lovely and sunny for the first time in a long time, so I had my sunnies lying around on my desk at work. For some reason we decided to see what my friend looked like in them - it's amazing the things you can find to distract yourself! He looked surprisingly okay, but not enough to convince him to actually wear them in public. What a shame.

Day 45 (19/10/11)

This packet of Skittles came home from America with Steph's boyfriend (along with my cow bowl). I love Skittles, and apparently once Steph saw these she just had to buy them for me and they came back a bit battered because she'd carried them all over the USA with her - thanks Steph! :) They surprisingly tasted a lot like the fruits they were meant to be, but the cores really didn't make much of a difference :p

Day 46 (20/10/11)

Thankfully after a couple of days the sun was still out. After leaving my glasses on the desk while I went for a quick walk, when I came back it appeared that Ernie had decided he wanted to sunbathe!

Day 47 (21/10/11)

It was time for the next set of work drinks after the Zombie shenanigans, so we had Oktoberfest at work. I've always loved German food, but I don't really like beer - makes it a bit difficult to celebrate the holiday properly! So I just ate a lot. I came a bit late and missed out on all the big hotdog buns they had for the BBQ, so the sausage to bread ratio ended up being somewhat comical :)

Day 48 (22/10/11)

Nick's cousin was getting married so we headed up north for the weekend. The wedding was lovely - out on the beach and barefoot on the sand. I've seen quite a few wedding cakes before, but theirs was pretty amazing with its crazy angles!

Day 49 (23/10/11)

The day after the wedding saw us sitting on a train home for three hours. Long commutes can get both tiring and boring, so while Nick napped I got productive with my laptop for as long as the battery would last. From what I remember, the text on the screen ended up being published as Starting From Scratch.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Project 365: Week 6

Day 36 (10/11/11)

I've never been the biggest fan of straight chocolate, but chocolate with stuff inside it is always very tasty and there seems to be a steady supply of it at work. For those who don't recognise them, the one the left is a Caramello Koala and on the right is a Strawberry Freddo Frog. They were almost too cute to eat. But only almost.

Day 37 (11/10/11)

My new hair accessory, and my first experiment in pattern making. You can read more about it if you're interested :) 

Day 38 (12/10/11)

Missed again! Bad Anna. 

Day 39 (13/10/11)

Given that I'm doing this Project 365 thing, it probably goes without saying that I like photos. I love having hard copies in albums and stuck up around my room, but over the last year I've been a bit lazy about sorting them and printing them out. One of the electronics stores was having a sale, though, so I went along and printed out a year's worth of photos. There were 362 and apparently that many photos makes quite a tall stack!

Day 40 (14/10/11)

Ever October, Sydney hosts the Crave Food Festival. Various restaurants put on specials, and lots of different food-related events happen around the city. The most popular event is the Night Noodle Markets, where every night for two weeks a lot of different Asian restaurants set up stalls in Hyde Park and it becomes one big open air food court. It gets very very crowded, but the park gets all decked out with paper lanterns and it's a lot of fun.

Day 41 (15/10/11)

For my friend's birthday we went out one night to a salsa club. I have two left feet (I've had a dance instructor give up on me before!) so it made for a somewhat interesting night.

Day 42 (16/10/11)

Steph's in the USA at the moment, and her boyfriend came home from visiting her with lots of presents for my parents and I. I have an obsession with ice cream, so this is my amazing cow-bowl from the Ben and Jerry's factory. I like its little udder-feet, and when you've eaten all your ice cream there's a little surprise - the bottom of the bowl reads 'Udderly Delicious'. It makes me smile every time.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Project 365: Week 5

Day 29 (03/10/11)

Nick and I went and visited the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace one Sunday afternoon and discovered that the movies there come with pre-show entertainment! I have no idea what instrument it was that this guy was playing, but he played it pretty awesomely.

Day 30 (04/10/11)

Uh oh, fail... :(

Day 31 (05/10/11)

I brought my camera to my netball game one night in the hopes of taking a picture, but didn't realise until after the game that I'd completely forgotten. In a panic I grabbed my friend to take a photo and she decided to hide behind her Coke bottle instead. I think she mainly wanted to show off her pretty gold nails.

Day 32 (06/10/11)

I went and visited MoMA when I was in New York earlier in the year, and discovered that their gift shop is actually what they call a 'design store' and it's amazing. So many different random pretty homewares and little personal items. I spent way too much money there, but one of the things I picked up was a packet of stick-on chalkboards for your wall. I picked up some chalk to go with it, and stuck that up on the wall too with blue tac, but then I came home one night and found this on my floor. I think I needed more blue tac!

Day 33 (07/10/11)

I know it's somewhat sad, but I'm a complete Harry Potter geek. I've lined up outside bookstores on the day that new books were released, I can tell you Harry's and Voldemort's birthdays, and there was a point in time that if you gave me any quote from any of the books I'd be able to tell you who said it and what the situation was. So I got madly jealous when one of my friends whipped this out when I was over at her house. Apparently one of the local newspapers ran a promotion to get them that I missed out on. The reason I missed it, though, was that I was in Europe at the time and was watching Deathly Hallows Part II in a London cinema with real English people, so I guess I can't complain.

Day 34 (08/10/11)

One of Nick's housemates has a lot of Canadian friends, and she decided to hold a Canadian Thanksgiving at her house, complete with homemade turkey. Apparently one of the stages in the cooking process involved using the turkey as a glove...

Day 35 (09/10/11)

Sydney has a lot of weekend markets that pop up. They're full of people selling clothes and shoes and handmade items. The Kirribilli Markets are my favourite. They have a market specifically for handmade goods, and they're all beautiful. One of my biggest goals is to make enough things to open a stall here one afternoon. In my opinion, aside from having the best goods, they also have the best view. Here's the Harbour Bridge casting a watchful eye over all the shopping going on.

Monday, 14 November 2011

A Fascinating Experiment

Australia has a country-wide obsession with horse racing. One of our national heroes is a horse, and he's enough of a legend that his preserved heart is displayed in a museum in the nation's capital. The Melbourne Cup, the biggest horse race in the country, is an event so large that it's a public holiday in the state where it's held. At my workplace it's effectively a holiday as well - our CEOs love the race so much that instead of a big boozy Christmas party, we have a big boozy Melbourne Cup lunch.

When fascinators first started being worn at the races a while ago, I found the idea of them odd. My teenage self couldn't understand why you would want to wear what was effectively half a hat. To be honest, I still don't quite understand it, but there's a prize for best fascinator at our Melbourne Cup lunch so they're pretty much required attire. I just try to think of them now as really elaborate headbands :)

Last year I bought mine and it worked well for me, but this year at my local craft store they were selling pieces for fascinators and hats cheaply. They also had a deal on - apparently if you bought all your pieces at the store they'd have a milliner make it up for you. It sounded like a good idea so I went off to the shop, only to find that none of the store assistants knew how the deal worked. This meant I ended up with lots of pieces for a fascinator, and very little idea of what to do with them.

Have you noticed that I like purple yet?
The basic idea I had in mind when I bought the bits was to have the bow stuck to the headband, then to have the other parts arranged around the side of it. The example hats in the store had the main parts sewn together, so I went ahead and did that with the bow. Given that the base was a bit of a lattice, it turned out to be surprisingly easy. The only tricky part was sewing around the actual band of the headband - I ended up having to sew blindly in and out between the base and the band and hope that I didn't prick my fingers.

My somewhat clumsy stitching
Gluing on the feathers was interesting. I borrowed my parents' glue gun, and I found that it's a deceitfully difficult piece of equipment to use when you're not used to it. A tip for working with glue guns if you haven't done it before - you have to be fast. Once the hot glue hits the air you have a very small window of time in which it's still hot. You have to be ready with the two pieces you're trying to stick together or you just end up with useless hardened lumps of glue on your item. It's also very easy to get long thin trailing bits of glue all over your work surface and yourself. Luckily, everything I was working with had pretty smooth surfaces, so it was easy enough to pick the glue off when it was dry.

Placement turned out to be harder than I thought it would be. As you can see in the photo at the top, the ends of the feathers were really thick and some were held together by black or white tape that stood out if you looked closely. (One of my friends later commented that you could see the tape.) The size of the pieces meant that it was hard to find room on the base for all of them to sit in. I ended up having to shove them into little folds of the bow that, for the sake for the sake of the fascinator's structural integrity,  I probably shouldn't have.

Once I was done, it felt a bit flimsy, but thankfully it looked okay and didn't feel like it was going to fall apart.

I think the angle of it was a bit off, and it would've been nicer if you could see more of the blue feathers when you looked at it from the front. But at the end of the day, it held itself together when I wore it and it didn't look half bad, so I was reasonably happy.

I'm not 100% convinced that making it was worth it. The price of the pieces was only marginally less than buying a one, even though they were on sale. It also didn't end up looking as good as I would've liked. Furthermore, I realised a couple of days later that one of the blue feathers had fallen off - I possibly should've used more glue.

It could just be that practice makes perfect, but seeing as these are only things I need once a year, I doubt I'll get much practice. I understand now why they're so expensive to buy, and I have a new found respect for milliners! It was definitely fun trying something new though.