Tuesday, August 27, 2013

in stitches: w pants by blank slate patterns tested

It's a bit rewarding to make things by hand. Sewing clothes for kids is absolutely not cheaper than buying items you can pick up in big stores, but has a largely increased smug-mum factor. Sewing is also more time- and space-hungry, so with my sewing space in disarray and returning to part-time work, it's a good thing there are fabulous PDF patterns getting around.
I was given a copy of Blank Slate Patterns' W Pants to test. As with all Blank Slate patterns, this one is packed with options: three lengths, sizes 12-18months to 8 years, lots of nifty details such as welt pockets, full fly and belt loops.
I have fallen for these patterns. The instructions are so clear, and I love that this patterns suits a range of skill levels. A beginner could pick this pattern up and make the most basic option, then work through the more complex details as their skill set develops. You might know the gorgeous designer of Blank Slate patterns from her blog, Melly Sews.
I think my welt pocket version with contrast waist look awesome. I used a cotton drill for the main fabric, and a chevron print corduroy for the contrast.
I will be cracking out this pattern again, there are summer shorts required! Oh, bring on that lovely warm weather, Spring.

Monday, August 19, 2013

top tips for enjoying a girls' weekend in wine country

I was so excited to be going away with my girls, that I told someone It's so long since I've been away with friends! Yes. Well. I had never actually been away on a girls' weekend. I was not into doing my hair as a kid, I can barely coordinate an outfit that is clean, let alone stylish. I hated dancing, preferred Lego, or those little cowboy and Indian figures, or reading. I'm not a tomboy, it's just that frivolous, competitive female relationships kind of freak me out. I have three true friends. One I have known since birth, because she is also my baby sister. One I met on the first day of Uni. And the last I met on her first teaching day. I don't clean my house for these few people, nor do I expect them to let me know that they are 'popping in'.

But, since the great sea change of 2010, the opportunity for pop-ins has been greatly reduced. So my very clever husband, along with their very clever husbands, organised vouchers for us all for mothers' day to go away together for a weekend. To the Hunter Valley. Mmmm...wine. And cheese. And wine. And while we were there, we somehow hit upon a magical combination making for a really great weekend.

1. Go with people you trust. Because at 1am, there are really only certain people who should see you singing Bon Jovi ballads into a wine bottle, writing indiscernible to-do lists, or hysterically laughing at screaming goats.
2. Take a pregnant friend (congrats, sis!). Driving? Check!
3. Stay somewhere awesome. I can absolutely recommend the villas at the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, and Pure Traveller for organising a great deal.
4. Leave the mum guilt on the freeway. Pick a point in the journey (Brooklyn bridge for us) to leave concerns about the kids behind. Maintain this inner bliss even when greeted with text news about pregnant cats and vomiting children.
5. Eat, and then keep eating. Don't you dare even think about dieting. There is cheese, and pate to be consumed, folks! And breakfast!
6. Do a 'proper' tasting session. We happened to visit Lindemans for a booked-in, paid-for tasting (thanks to one of the clever husbands), and it was fabulous. None of us being particularly knowledgeable about wines, it was a great start. Matt, our tasting guy (there must be a more appropriate term here) was really relaxed, and quite OK with the fact that our little group was more Kath and Kim than Pru and Trude. Just so you know, $260 a bottle chardonnay tastes marvellously expensive. And it turns out, I'm a spendy drunk!

I had such a glorious weekend, and approached the following fortnight of rolling illnesses and mundane cleaning tasks with vigour. It has left me with a renewed appreciation of my dear friends and our clever husbands. Oh, and port and blue cheese. Who knew?


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