Archive | September, 2013

New toys!

23 Sep

Mechanic Man has always been supportive of my interests, as I’ve been of his. But lately he was getting worried that I don’t get to indulge in new toys as often as he does.

My sewing machine is a 30 year old Pfaff that my grandmother won, then gave to my aunt, who then gave it to my mum, who then gave it to me about 12 years ago. My overlocker is about 13 or 14 years old and my mum gave it to me at the same time as she gave me the Pfaff. I’ve never owned a new machine.

So two weeks ago while the two of us were out he took me to Sewing Machine Services in Petone and this happened.

Mechanic Man carrying my brand new Janome 4120 QDC, and Hugh from Sewing Machine Services, just after buying it.

Mechanic Man carrying my brand new Janome 4120 QDC, and Hugh from Sewing Machine Services, just after buying it.

Yep, I bought a new sewing machine, a Janome 4120QDC and I am pretty stoked!

Then the following weekend I took my overlocker in for a look over to see how much work was needed to get it going well again.

And the the weekend after that I went back again to hear the verdict and this happened.

Mechanic Man carrying my new Elna 664 Pro overlocker, again with Hugh of Sewing Machine Services

Mechanic Man carrying my new Elna 664 Pro overlocker, again with Hugh of Sewing Machine Services

That’s a new Elna 664 Pro overlocker. Yep, in two weeks I bought two new machines.  Thanks to Hugh at Sewing Machine Services in Petone, a great wee place if you’re in the market for a new machine!

None of this was really planned. But I’m very excited about it all! The very first new machines I’ve ever owned! And who knows – I might end up waiting another 12 years until I replace these ones!

My Janome set up in it's space

My Janome set up in its space

My Elna set up and waiting

My Elna set up and waiting

Now I need a name for them… I’m thinking Fred and Ginger but I’m not sold on it yet! Maybe Gene and Rita, or Danny and Sandy. I’ll figure it out…

My fabulous new toys waiting patiently

My fabulous new toys waiting patiently

I’m keeping my Pfaff as it goes great and it’ll be good to have a backup but I traded my old Elna in towards my new Elna. My original Elna actually did pretty much everything my new one does, as it was quite fancy in its day, so although the new one is easier to set up and configure buying it was really just getting caught up in the fun of new shiny things (and I feel a bit guilty about it). But the Janome has bells and whistles my Pfaff couldn’t even conceive of. Highlights are the one step buttonhole and the lock stitch (which automates back stitching at the beginning and end of the seam) but my real favourite feature is the cut button, which neatly cuts both threads with a touch.

Yep, I’m easily entertained.

Speaking of, as an added bonus, these were in the side street that we parked in.

This was painted on the building next to where we parked

This was painted on the building next to where we parked

And this was painted across the street! The "war" tag is someone else's addition though, it wasn't there the first time I saw this.

And this was painted across the street! The “war” tag is someone else’s addition though, it wasn’t there the first time I saw this.

MOS 8-9/52: baking bonanza and Mama’s jewellery

1 Sep

While mum was down, it wasn’t all selling cushions at vintage fairs or slaving over burlesque costumes – just most of it! As well as altering a couple of skirts, we got to do a couple of other things too. On the Saturday, having finished my costume, we decided to bake up a storm. I love baking but never do it as often as I’d like and had really wanted this year of creative energy to involve new recipes and teach myself some presentation tricks. I still hadn’t done much so it was really nice to be in the kitchen with Mum, chatting away as we mixed and made.

I made two batches of my standard Edmonds banana cake, but cooked one batch in patty cases, and Mum and I worked together on making mini lemon meringue pies, which didn’t even last long enough to be photographed (Mechanic Man LOVES lemon merinque pie).

Actually, he’s a baking fiend in general, and most of the time when I bake he loiters in the kitchen, desperate to eat before things are even cool. I never get time to ice let alone decorate anything. I really want to put more effort into decorating my baking, just for the fun of it, so this time I told him off until he left me and the cakes alone.

The lack of decorating practice means I’m not that good at it, but I know from past experience that I’m not terrible wielding a piping bag. Unfortunately I discovered that the buttercream recipe I use is super tasty but not piping friendly, it is far too thick. So my plans for prettily piped cupcakes were abandoned and instead I smeared thick icing on everything and gave it this somewhat lacklustre set of embellishments (sugar pearls and banana chips). They may not be works of art, or even close to what I had envisioned, but after so long producing these goodies was nonetheless a personal triumph and so definitely a moment of satisfaction!

My banana cake and mini-cakes - not as pretty as I'd hoped but tasty! Also, it took me an hour to find this photo as I'd mislabelled it. I hope you appreciate it.

My banana cake and mini-cakes – not as pretty as I’d hoped but tasty! Also, it took me an hour to find this photo as I’d mislabelled it. I hope you appreciate it.

Another creative enterprise I undertook  was to alter some jewellery for Mum. I make jewellery from time to time, but almost all of the jewellery I’ve made I’ve given to Mum. A couple of years ago her car was broken into on her way home from a visit with me and her suitcase was stolen. She lost three garments she’d only just finished knitting – two she’d only worn once or twice and the third she hadn’t even sewn up the seams on; all the fabric and yarn and other treats she’d bought while staying with me; a vintage rag doll pattern that was the same as one she’d had as a child that she’d brought down to show me because she was so excited to find it; and every single piece of her jewellery, most of which I’d made. It was heartbreaking.

Even if we had photos of all of the pieces I’d made her (and we had none), or I could remember what they all looked like (and I can’t really); a lot of it was made from vintage supplies that I couldn’t replace. We both cried over the losses (especially as no doubt most of the stuff she cared about most was thrown out) but next time she came to stay we started the slow process of making all new pieces. But a couple of them, and a couple of store bought pieces, weren’t working out for her, so last year she brought them down to be tweaked, since when they’ve sat in the to-do pile.

The pile of jewellery waiting attention

The pile of jewellery waiting attention

So I added some bits of chain between the beads of the blue necklace to make it less visually dense, rearranged the grey necklace to hide a discoloured bead at the top where it will be mostly behind her neck, fixed the connection on the snake on her black necklace to prevent it falling off all the time (all three of these were made by me originally), and cut chains to the right lengths and added pretty clasps for her three store-bought dichroic glass pendants and her mermaid pendant.

Not overly creative, but a supremely satisfying moment  as I love Mum wearing jewellery, especially ones I’ve made, and I’ve had these sitting in my box awaiting repairs since last September! It got me all fired up to get out more of my jewellery supplies and make some pieces for me, so by the end of the year I want to have made myself a nice selection of new necklaces and earrings. So it was satisfying and inspiring!

All the pretty jewellery all in a row.

All the pretty jewellery all in a row.

I wish I could have done more while I was on holiday, but I had a wonderful time, and Mum and my grandmother are down in a few weeks to visit, so there’ll be more crafting adventures then!