Sew frigging what (Post 26)

I’ve been losing the battle in re-sewing the MJ calisthenics costume.

On a positive note, I have won the war with the sewing machine. I downloaded the manual for a somewhat similar Janome and managed to deduce what was wrong. After a fiddle or two with dials and knobs, the sewing machine likes me again.

On a lesser than positive note, re-sewing the costume to make it tighter is nightmarish. I have not finished either. I’m away this weekend, so the earliest I will get back to it is probably Monday. And I’ve just discovered an email from my boss asking me to facilitate a session on Monday afternoon. Bugger. I was going to do a half day for home on Monday, as I need to be in the office Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Not sure I can say no though, as the participants include our Executive team and members of the Board. Double Bugger. Will try to talk my way out of it tomorrow. Not expecting success.

All said, I’m pretty GRRRRR at the moment. I’m thinking. This MJ costume is going to have as much remodelling as the real thing. And I don’t think the original was happy with the end result either.



Memories of my mum (Post 23)

I’ve been sewing tonight (damn calisthenics costumes!) and it’s made me think of my mum.

She sewed a lot for me as a child. I remember calisthenics costumes she sewed – and she got the double whammy as I’m a twin, poor thing. There was a gorgeous princess dress – puffy short sleeves, a fitted bodice and A-line skirt in a satiny light blue, and a Pinocchio costume of shorts with braces and a white shirt. I’m sure there were others but they are the two costumes I remember.

A couple of years later there was also a ruffled peasant skirt with a broderie anglais blouse, and a corduroy a-line skirt with matching vest. Yes it was the ’70’s. Mum didn’t actually like sewing much, but she did it. She fair preferred knitting, and was a very talented knitter.

I got my love of knitting from my mum. I remember loving the jumpers she knitted me, as a child, as a teenager and as an adult. Unfortunately knitting was one of the first losses through Alzheimer’s. We weren’t aware that Mum was suffering from Alzheimer’s at that stage, and she blamed arthritis in her hands. Afterwards it was more apparent that she wasn’t able to follow the patterns anymore, and forgot where she was up to.

The last couple of things she knitted were a baby blanket and jumper for my first child. By the time Kid2 arrived, Mum had stopped knitting and within 18 months she was diagnosed. I still have the blanket and the jumper, and will keep them always.

I regret I didn’t keep the many jumpers she knitted and the clothes she sewed, but the sentimentality just wasn’t present then. I do have her knitting needles, and her old knitting box which has holes in the lid to determine the needle size – all imperial measurements of course. She used to have lots of old knitting patterns when I was a kid, but sadly they were discarded in a house move.

I have tried to pass my love of knitting and sewing on to my girls, but with no luck. It still may happen, but I think it’s unlikely. Perhaps I can have a go at the grandchildren, if I’m that lucky.


When it alteration finds (Post 19)

This is not an appropriate time for Shakespeare, nor is Sonnet 116 in any way related to the theme of this post, but it is a way to introduce ‘alterations’.

It was costume time at Calisthenics last night – the trying on of 5 costumes, and trying of many mothers’ patience.

We had scored 4 costumes from previous comps – fabulous. Until I found out that 3 need alterations. Then came the MJ costume. I was devastated. I have to ‘lift’ the pants higher. To do this, I will need to take out 2/3 of the sequins (that took hours! to sew on), unpick the top from the pants front and back…. And start again. I will also have to take in the sleeves (not too hard), take in the side seams of the top (more challenging) and put darts in the back (bloody hell).

Ever single mother has very much the same task ahead. Having been asked to have the MJ costume pretty much complete for this fitting, I now envy the mothers who were slack, and hadn’t yet attached the top to the bottom. There goes the next 2 weekends.

In a likeness to the immortal crow call of Graham Kennedy….. farkkkkkkk! Fark, fark, fark!

Not happy, Jan.

With those two very Australian popular culture references, I will leave you to gaze at my new best friend:


Hunting for a sequin or two. (Post 17)

So the task of finishing the MJ costume has been waylaid by a lack of sequins. I wasn’t given enough in the pack that was distributed by the Calisthenics team leader. Bugger.

So I ventured to one of my favourite places today – Spotlight! I can spend hours in Spotlight and not buy anything, just get ideas. I think it’s the closest I come to understand my husband’s love of Bunnings.

But today I spent… It was so much fun. I bought some new scissors, which are much sharper than any other pair in the house – hands off everyone! I also got appliqué paper for Kid2’s design project for school, and red beads for the MJ costume. I was swayed by a sale on wool and a cheap pattern, which will now probably be knitted before the mucho stripy jumper (after I finish knitting the rug).

I also got a lovely surprise at the counter when I paid. As I am a member I received an overall discount of $10 and the wool, which was already marked down by $2 a ball, I got for half price – that was $26 off in total. I am generally not big on store memberships – absolutely every shop wants you to join so they can bombard your email with ads, or even worse – SMS you. But I love Spotlight so much, this just made my day. I don’t even mind their ads.

Yet, no sequins. Spotlight had the wrong size. The lovely lady on the counter recommended a craft/bead shop, which was my next stop. Red sequins, right size but a plain red, not sparkly. The sparkly ones are called Laser sequins. Who knew? I lost interest in the hunt then, and I was hungry 🙂 So I’ll be hitting the team leader up for more sequins tomorrow night. That’s ok, I had just wanted to finish the damn thing today.


Seventeen, shopping and sequins (Post 9)

It’s been a busy, busy day. Kid1 turned 17 today… Bordering on 20. One more year till she’s legal, as she puts it. Eek.

After presents at morning tea (waiting for Dad to drop home from a job), we headed off shopping for some birthday clothes. The hunt did not go well. 3 hours of strolling through stores and trying clothes on, and she got 2 pairs of shoes and a doona cover and sheets for her new queen size mattress (a present, the queen bed frame is a hand-me-down). Luckily she was happy to call it quits. She was also not too fussed when I suggested we wait a couple a weeks before trying again – to wait for new clothes to come into the stores….

Once back home it was time to go back to finishing the MJ costume. I need to have it fully sewn by Wednesday night, when the troop is trying on all their costumes. I have actually been very lucky. Kid2 scored 4 costumes from previous competitions – which saves me from making them.

I will still need to make another 2 costumes after this, but I think MJ is the most elaborate. I had added the sequins around the triangle on the front, but I still need to add sequins to trim the red top on the pants, and the tails. There are shoulder pads (military, of course) to be added, and gold buttons on the cuffs and down the side of the front triangle. Gold chains will also be strung across the front. But I’m happy with where I’ve got to, and can stop for the moment. Laughably the feet of the leggings look like flippers!!! They need to be shortened, and will be made into stirrups – but I’m thinking whoever cut the pattern pieces was not taking into account Kid2’s 4ft 11in frame.




It’s late now and I’m tired. The gremlins can reclaim the machine for a while.

Michael Jackson, woo! (Post 8)

So the gremlins in the machine obviously heard Empty Nester and have given me a bit of a reprieve. Not much though.

On Sunday morning, this was as far as I had got with the sewing of the costume…..


Yesterday I got a lot further. The sewing machine is still playing havoc intermittently, with the thread snarling and puckering. If I sewed more often I would probably get the swing of it, but the last time I sewed big time is probably at least 10 years ago. And I know – RTFM. But you need to own the manual to read it. It’s one of things I am shocking at – keeping track of the instruction booklets. I am usually pretty good with manuals for the first couple of years, but I got this machine 15 years ago, and the manual disappeared into the void after year 3.

But there has been success of a sort. The costume pieces were provided to me pre-cut – and were actually pretty dodgy. The fit is not great but my daughter can get into it. There were my mishaps to add to the complexity…. I sewed a sleeve on back to front, and had to unpick the two rows of sewing. And the sleeves were too long, which I only realised after I had added the black cuffs.

The instructions were even more third-rate, with no diagrams – just a photocopied list of dot points. I’ve had to confirm via SMS how to ‘add top to pants’ as that is the only instructions they gave.

But this is where I’ve got to so far….


The MJ reference alludes of course to the fact that it will be a Michael Jackson costume. This is why I’m late in blogging again… But I have been busy.

Lastly I have to thank my faithful friend, without whom all this would not be possible!


Sew wrong (Post 7)

I forgot to blog last night, and I’m blaming the sewing machine. I had tried to write a post earlier in the night and found no inspiration… And then thought, well I have to sew this calisthenics costume for Kid2. I’ll take some photos as I go through and talk about that.

Except my sewing machine hates me. It played nicely as I sewed up the leggings – no problems at all. The Lycra was my undoing. Or should I say it was the sewing machine’s undoing.

Now the machine will not sew. It goes through the motions, but the two pieces of fabrics are merely clingy to each other with friction, with two pieces of thread loosely knotted on top. And it did this 10 times, with me pulling the machine apart, searching for the dodgy cause.

I called it quits at 11.30, with the sewing machine winning the first 10 rounds. I will try again this morning, after my morning coffee or three.

Wish me luck.