A piece a Week – Bias detailing on a Black Dress

This week was the final week of teaching the Arts Focus program at school and for the final class I thought I would wear a new dress. As one of my students likes to observe what I am wearing! She is one of my students who absolutely enjoys the class and everything sewing encompasses – so hopefully I will see her in 5th grade if she chooses sewing again as her final Arts Focus class 🙂

I did not have much time to make something from scratch as other projects and life generally take over my creative time. But I did have a chance to jazz up a dress with some bias fabric I made that I was using to add detail to cashmere cardigans I cut and bound in the center. The bias fabric idea is from a great book called The Party Dress book where you can see the use of bias fabric on the dress on the front cover. It is just beautifully applied in so many of the dresses in the book. My job was more experimental and to see if I enjoyed the process? I found it was like throwing on the wheel where I am working on the machine in a spiral pattern first attaching the bias binding and then continually going around and around in a spiral on the skirt. I love how my the symbiosis of my art projects sometimes blend together.

This dress I wore when I was a witch one Halloween and had not worn again since but as it has long sleeves and pockets it works as a great dress for teaching. I like to have pockets when I am teaching as I can have my phone for photos or even a pencil for drawing lines ready to go! So as I enjoyed the application and adding an interesting detail to the dress I think I will use this process in skirts for my upcoming collection in October for the Textile Art Boutique.

Detail of the bias on the dress
The dress hanging with pockets and all

It was a rainy weekend and we enjoyed our Saturday catching up on things and preparing to Spring forward for daylight saving!! Yes I lost an hour of sleep and it was quite annoying but still we managed to get up in time on Sunday to drive to Modesto – 1.5 hours away to check out a Poultry Show. Yes, why drive all that way to see Poultry LOL?? Well it was our family excursion for the day and my daughter has taken on the Poultry Project at our local 4H Club Rolling Hills. She is enjoying it so far and really wanting to get chickens for our small little garden! We will see as there is a bit of research first we have to do before setting up a coop in the back garden. 

We eventually managed to find the Agriculture Pavilion at the Modesto Junior College campus after many failed attempts at finding a decent map! I was already feeling very tired as I came home from hanging out with friends the night before starting off with a happy hour with friends from my dance class and afterwards a Downton Abbey finale party which finished at midnight – which is way past my bedtime!! Still stay positive I thought and see what you can learn from this experience! Most of the judging had happened by the time we arrived at lunch time but all the chickens were on display. I had never seen so many breeds and such beautiful birds too! So with that positive spin check out some of the fancy breeds we saw at the show…

Cool looking chicken – White Crested Black Polish Cockerel.
You really can tell the difference between the males and females in the bird world, this guy is very fancy!

A Seabright Chicken – I love the feather detail

Super cute chicken

An arty chicken butt

A Frizzle chicken – their feathers are everywhere and such a mess but they still look good!

Fancy chicken feathers

Ash and the New Jersey giant – the biggest chicken I have ever seen!!!
Yes it was bigger than his head – there is no distortion in this pic!

Now I know I am in the country with the trucks and the tractors

A chicken at the judging table doing the funky chicken

Another unusual breed – the naked neck chicken


Someone who should be doing the chicken project – who loves chickens more than his sister

This chicken had enough and was ready for bed!

So there you go a lesson in chicken breeds and how beautiful chickens are! My vegetarian diet appreciates these little guys and look in their eyes to see what a lovely companion animal they can be. The kids seem to enjoy them very much, so maybe we can build a coop later on in the summer as a project? Their favorite chicken is a bantam – not very fancy at all. They are a a nice size for handling and a Pullet is a hen less than a year old – so I am learning new things about chickens too!

One day the kids hope to get a couple of these chicks

A piece a Week – A Summer Shift

Last week I was working away in production mode getting myself prepared for the FabMo show at the end of October when I ran out of notions to finish pieces. Plus it was so so hot that I felt like a textile worker working in hot as hell conditions. So to use my iron was a no no so I wanted to play around a little and thought I could just whip up a shift dress from this book – it is a wonderful Japanese sewing book called Casual Sweet Clothes and I wanted to make a shift dress with a lower neckline like the top from the book. As I was putting it together I had an idea to add pockets like another shift I love to wear and pockets are always handy! In the end it sucked up the hours I had left on Friday and a couple of hours Saturday – so the plan of having a quick sewing project was a learning experience in time management!! The fabric was from a vintage barkcloth sarong that I would never wear so I used it for this fun summery dress…
Summer shift ready for next summer now that it is cooler this week!

My baby girl Bella struggling to escape

Baby Bella getting some breeze on the fence!
Looking for a plane to take me away to Hawaii…

Friday was our Rocket Day at our school and it is so much fun – the kids did not want to leave and before I knew it, darkness was upon us and I whisked the kiddos home. They made some super cool rockets with fancy duct tape a friend let us have and off they flew and the kids chased them for an evening of community awesomeness!

Missy and her rocket 
Off to chase the rockets with her friend Jellybean and Mr Ash is in the background in black!

This weekend I had a quick look on Craigslist as I wanted to upgrade the dining room chairs and look what I found! Four beautiful mid century design Leland International Slam Chairs that go perfectly with our Ash handmade dining table – I am so happy with these chairs and they are super comfortable as well. Now I need to find 2 more at the Craig’s price 🙂

What super comfy chairs – I love serendipity

The local nursery called me to let me know that they had passionfruit plants in stock so I said to them hold onto a 5 gallon plant for me and I will come by and get it! Little did I know the size of a 5 gallon plant, it was huge! It probably would not even fit in my car 🙂 So I opted for a edible variety of passionfruit called Black Knight and it is a 1 gallon perfect for taking on my bike along the trail back home. 

Riding home with my passionfruit plant 
Today I was in Whole Foods checking out the local flowers and I found a bunch of Cockscomb flowers with such incredible colour, I had to take these home with me to brighten up my table this week – it is off to a wonderful start!
Cockscomb flowers from Full Belly Farm 

A piece a Week – A birthday Dress and hiking action

For my birthday this weekend I wanted to make a dress to wear out to dinner with the ladies this week! I have a wonderful bunch of women from school who get together to go out and celebrate our birthdays with delicious food and cocktails – so I am looking forward to a feast this week. 
My sister sent me some fabric for my birthday that she found but this one, for the skirt in the dress, really caught my eye so I decided to make my fave dress pattern – this time with a black bodice instead of a grey wool. The detail of the fabric is like a painting and the fabric itself is a soft velvet and feels so good! 
My birthday dress!
Detail of the fabric – put a bird on it!

Eye Drama – Boo!!

This week was a bit of a bust with an appointment with an ophthalmologist to see if I had Keratoconus – my optometrist was checking in on my prescription that changes every year so with that in mind I went along to get a topographic scan of my eyeball. It is quite amazing to see the valleys and mountains of your eyeball – the ophthalmologist took one look at the scan and said to me, “oh you have Pellucid Marginal Degeneration, that explains the prescription changes.”
So I said to him, “What is it?”
It is the thinning of the cornea shaping into a beer belly after a while. So the next question was, “What is the solution to this?”
He said to me there is a procedure called Collagen Cross Linking that is available in most of the world except the USA where it still has to be FDA approved. Great, maybe I could get it done in Australia – nope $5000 for both eyes as it is considered cosmetic and here in the USA the prices vary anywhere from $3600 in Washington to $8000 in San Francisco for both eyes. As it turns out the procedure is relatively simple – Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) drops on the eyeball and a UV light to set the riboflavin in place – this sounded great, the current cornea I have will be in place for the rest of my life with no thinning. Human studies began in 2003 in Dresden, Germany and has been successful.  I still have to do more research to see what I am going to do…

This was a huge downer for me mid week, still I have more chats with my optometrist and ophthalmologist now to see how to go forward, but for now – I shall appreciate the beauty around me, our hike at Mc Nee Ranch State Park, North of Half Moon Bay.

Grey Whale Cove State Beach near the cliffs
Sunday we met up with our friends from Oakland and did a hike on the cliffs near the beach. This is one beautiful hike with the ocean on one side and the mountains and valleys as you hike inland. We started at the trailhead near the car park across the road from Grey Whale Cove State Beach and as we were there early around 10:30am parking was not a problem at all! Warning if you come late in the day parking is a nightmare and absolutely chaotic! We had an issue with a mountain goat driver not wanting to move out of the way who made 3 cars reverse out of the car park while cars were coming in – cray, cray times!!
A view from the top of the mountain
At the top of the hike – coming down!! 
Still the craziness of the car park was a small price to pay for such a beautiful day out. This time of year in the spring the wildflowers are abundant. The hike is out in the sunshine with hardly any cover so a hat is essential. It does get a little cool up top with the sea winds so a little long sleeves will be handy too. We wandered slowly with the kiddos around on the trail and then when we got to the top after a snack stop it was time to go down – yes down on a very sharp angle which is why my quads are still sore – so stairs are tricky at the moment! You can see my friend in the background of the pic above, though this part was not as steep as right at the top of the path!!!

Wildflower – yellow

Lovely leaves with this purple flower

The kids found this pine tree as a little hideout to climb and snack while we decided our plan of action – to hike down to Montara, maybe not?!? Or take it to the top and down again! We decided to go up and then come down the steep path and enjoy a sandwich at Gherkinsn – a sandwich shop at Montara.

Kids climbing tree

Looking down onto the path from the top

Playing on the edge!

After our lunch we went to check out the tide pools at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve. We found a lot of seals just chilling on the rocks!

Seals chillin by the surf

Getting wet by the water! 
We came home and the kids wanted to make cupcakes for Missy’s 7th birthday so I found this awesome tasty vanilla funfetti recipe at one of my favorite food blogs The Minimalist Baker. What fun cupcakes to make, super easy and check them out after they came out of the oven! 
My baking helper for the afternoon
Sprinkles melted through – yum! 
The idea for the cupcakes was to make these – Missy wanted to make the cupcakes herself so I helped with cutting up the decorations and here they are ready to be eaten! Happy Birthday to You Missy Moo 🙂
Cat Cupcakes with gum whiskers and nose and twizzlers for a mouth and candy eyes
Missys favorite cat cupcake! 

A piece a Week – A dress for the trunk show and the season!

Last week was another doozy! I only stayed at home only one night the whole week and I had something each night after school, boy it was exhausting. On top of it all I had to make inventory for the show on Saturday here is a picture of my table and the current stock – yay!
At the Beehive Co-op holiday show! 
Here is literally the bottom of the dress 🙂 I made this week for the show – I like the shadows of the basil flowers on my legs. This is some fabric my friend from Germany gave me, it is a lovely light corduroy print.

Back side of the dress

 The dress as a whole is a top made of a light wool felt and is fab with a top underneath. Tunics are just the thing for me at the mo!

Wandering the flagstone steps near the succulent garden 
Oh and the tunic has lined pockets too with a different striped fabric I used in the infinity scarf I made last week. 
Got my hands in my pockets looking for some change?!?
While I was out taking pics today my little kitty came by to say hello and I could not resist the flowers in my garden. 
Bella the beautiful cat

Flowers on the jade succulent

Lovely in the afternoon sunlight

A piece a week – a Dress for the Show, My Collection of Pieces and a Ceramic Birdbath

I cannot believe that the time has come for the show and it is this weekend! I wanted to whip up a tunic for the show and I have used a pattern that I made a favorite summer dress thought this time I added sleeves. The silhouette pattern is from FabMo fabric and the black and gold fabric throughout was a fabric in my stash. I love the way it turned out and it may be a bit short so I think it will be a tunic with some skinny jeans. 
Fabric that inspired the tunic
Back of the dress with brown and white
Here is my collection for the show this year in video…
To other forms of creation that I am exploring this year – ceramics. I made this little bird bath for a garden decoration – I hope they like it!
Sitting in the succulent garden

A piece a week – A dress for a wedding in the Redwoods and my fave pics from the Seattle Vacay

This week we went back to school after our 10 week summer vacation! I could not believe that the time flew by so fast and that the summer holidays were over so quickly. When school was out I thought – man this is going to be forever! As it turned out everything went well and the time flew by. We really enjoyed the time in Seattle with our friends and saw some very cool things so it leaves room for me to do a trip solo in the future to check out the art galleries and the Dale Chiluly glass exhibit near the Seattle Space Needle – I felt that I would like to spend time enjoying it rather than rush through it with the family.

This week with everyone back to routine left some time for me to ‘eat dessert first’ and that was to make a dress! I really need to get into production mode for the show in October but a friend gave me some fabric the other day and it was screaming to be made into something and I thought a perfect dress for a wedding, now I need to find some shoes 🙂 Everything went smoothly with the kids and their new classes and teachers and the best thing was going back on Monday and returning to our wonderful school community! Everyone had such a splendid summer and I think we were all ready to get back to routine, though somewhat slowly…

The dress I made this week – just needs some accessories and shoes (any excuse for new shoes!!)

 The fabric in the bottom of the dress is embroidered and that is the remnant of fabric my friend gave me and I found some black poly cotton fabric for the top of the dress from FabMo. The dress is a deep purple with shades of pink embroidery.

1st day for the 2014-15 school year!

Muppets of the sea shore

These anemone were an incredible colour at the Seattle Aquarium. We have only seen the green sea anemone here when we go tide pooling. The anemone reminded me of animal from The Muppets with his wild hair.

Lets ride that Orca!

 I love this picture for the kids expressions on their faces riding the tail of the wolf of the sea the Orca! The aquarium has this orca exhibit as the kids learning and play area.

My favourite animal – the sea otter 

This guy was just doing his thing in the water and I was so happy to have finally got an in focus shot of my favorite animal the sea otter. I even saw these guys in the wild when I was at Morro Bay in December.

Baby Cuttlefish

Well this may just be a super small cuttlefish rather than a baby but here is another cutie of the sea. I have seen these at the Melbourne Aquarium and they are about 10 times as big as this guy!

Neon Coral

Another stuffie for the collection

Frogs in the hot tub

At our friends place the kids were always looking for frogs in the hot tub. They just hung around the moist edge of the tub and were happy until the kids found them and played with them, carefully I must add!

Feel like some Cherry Pie

 We travelled to North Bend one afternoon to go for some cherry pie featured in a fave show from when I was younger – Twin Peaks. It was quite cool to be in there and try some pie! They had a wall of shots from the show and some interesting information about the cafe and the show. Just looking at the production stills took me back to the days when I watched it every week. Maybe I can find it at the local library to experience it all again!

Flying the rainbow flag on a house boat

 Our trip out to the Locks of Seattle and we saw a lot of beautiful house boats – make sure you do not go out the back door of this boat, you will land in the water! It is the best way to see Seattle from a boat and this tour was fascinating with the changes from the lake fresh water to the Puget Sound – an inlet of the Pacific Ocean.

Space Needle 

Look carefully and you will find Mt Rainer

Wonderful public art attacking the Space Needle!

In the gardens – Dahlia

Bees just loved these flowers

Buds and flower

The super moon was in Aquarius when we were in Seattle – this was a pic from my Skyview App on my phone

Wallabies saying what are we doing near this moss covered rock in the zoo??

 We spent a day at the zoo with friends of ours and enjoyed our last day in Seattle with some familiar critters from our part of the world. I loved hearing the kookaburras and seeing the budgies and the parrots.

Hello handsome Rosella – you look familiar!

Jaguar sleeping – doing what cats do best!

A stunning toucan – so amazing to see them in real life, rather than on a cereal packet

This porcupette was born on my birthday – there was a string fence around it so people would not touch it :/

The kids loved this monkey with the moustache and the elegant posture

With our friends having a good time!!

Some random pictures of the kiddos I really loved the lighting from the shade of the trees.

A tree climber – can you get down now??

Look closely and you will find the photographer
Enjoying being up in a willow tree

A piece a week – Liberty of London dress finally ready for summer!

This last week of school has been so busy with lots of gatherings and farewells to school and friends for the summer! It has been such a wonderful year at school with our amazing teachers for both the kiddos. But boy did the year fly past – I cannot believe that I will have my oldest in 4th grade in a couple of months!! The last day of school I enjoyed the morning with an exercise class and I had to run an errand for one of  the teachers. So while I was waiting there was downtime and peace at the library where I came across a wonderful book called ‘The Kinfolk Table‘. It was so random as I was initially attracted to the name and then the content was oh so inspiring with the emphasis on amazing food and eating casual dinners with friends. Love, love, love! I found this hummingbird cake recipe that I am looking forward to trying and many other recipes that do not have meat, so yay!! Oh and the added bonus is that the recipe collection is from the Portland based magazine Kinfolk, oh my, I am just so happy when the universe drops these treasures into my life.

The hummingbird cake from the Kinfolk Table 

In amongst the farewells to school on Friday I had to say farewell to my beautiful neighbor who is moving up to Seattle! We have had some good times together in the short time we have lived in this ‘hood and it is so bittersweet to say goodbye to such wonderful friends. Still the positive is that we are going to visit Seattle real soon, so yippee!

Hanging with the lovely ladies – my neighbors!

So that was the end of school and the fun of the vacation begins. I caught up with some gardening on Saturday and Sunday we hit the San Mateo County Fair as Groupon had a super sweet deal. We had been to the Event Center for the Maker Faire so it was interesting to see it in a new light complete with animals, performances and dodgy carnival food. The kids wanted to check out the animals first… Of course my favorite were there – the goats, oh so cute! The bunnies were loved by Missy and Mr Ash loved the chooks – wanting to bring a chicken home to live in the garden. I had to remind him that we have two cats who may or may not be too keen on living with a chicken!! From the animals we checked out the culinary arts, plants and flowers which all were very impressive – indoors and away from the heat. It was 35 degrees on Sunday I must add, which was not so good for the hula dancers on a black top stage – they had to perform on the grass as it was way too hot for bare feet. After the hula dancers we headed over to another hall to see the rainforest with snakes, sloths and the most cutest hedgehogs. This was the hall I wanted to spend the most time with the quilts and home arts, obviously!! Unfortunately my son was getting a bit antsy about it all and wanted to go an play a dodgy carnival game which taught him a lesson in being ‘ripped off’. It was a fishing game and you can win a large or small prize – I wondered if anyone really did win any large prizes! All in all a fun experience at the fair and a great day out with the kiddos. Oh and in these pictures the Liberty of London dress fabric, a bit crushed by the heat – perfect for the day complete with pockets!

A super cute goat! 
Missy on the spinning wheel and negotiating with Mr about when we are leaving the cool hall