Thursday, 29 January 2009

It's a finish!

Finally after 2 years of very slow progress, Austy's quilt is finished and last night he slept under it for the very first time (or rather with it on the foot of his bed since it didn't get below 33 degrees celcius here last night). We added to our good night ritual a game of sitting on the quilt, picking our favourite novelty squares and matching them up with the bunting flags hanging on his wall.

I stitched down the last of the binding on Tuesday night and designed and printed out a label which was stitched on yesterday. Unfortunately my laziness in the laundry lead to a glob of wool wash landing on the top corner of the label when I went to wash the quilt, which took away a glob of colour with it. So the label will most likely be printed again next time I'm doing labels. But for now the quilt is finally where it belongs. Here's the digital version of the label, since I stuffed up the real one. From now on no more laziness when it comes to washing quilts - water and detergent in and THEN the quilt!

And while I was at the label designing and printing I finally did one for Madelyn's monkey quilt that had me hunting for a name until I just went with "Playtime" as that's what the quilt is used for.

Monday, 26 January 2009

A beautiful baby gift

Madelyn received this beautiful heirloom shawl last night, a little late but much loved all the same. Nanny made it especially for her from a shawl booklet I came across and purchased one day, knowing that a handmade shawl was the way she wanted to welcome each of her grandbabies into the world.

She made this one for Austin (that's himat 3d old in the photo above), which he was wrapped in for our first family photo, taken as we left the hospital and also when I carried him into the house for the first time. Madelyn used it as her coming home shawl too, since her own shawl was still on the needles. Here's Austy with Lizzy (3w older than him) on the day he came home from hospital.

I totally understand the time and concentration that goes into these as I doubt I could ever have the discipine and patience to make one myself, and the results are stunning. Certainly worth the wait! Madelyn will have lots of snuggles in this shawl and I'm sure she will love using it for her own child one day too.

On the home stretch

As a part of the "One a Month" challenge, one of my aims is to get a few WISPS out of hiding, and get them finished. The first WISP I wanted to tackle was this bed quilt for Austin, that has been in the making for about 2 years. It was meant to be finished in time for his second birthday but I was overwhelmed with it's sheer size (a little bigger than a standard single bed quilt) and also since it was my second ever quilt, there are quite a few mistakes, and lot of learning in each of the blocks. Some of them are done the right way, but the rest are done incorrectly, part of the learning process, and none of the seams really line up. The first challenge was to get the top complete and that took me a while. Then, when I took it out again to see if I could finish it in time for Austy's new big boy bed when we turned his toddler bed back into a cot for Maddy, I was challenged by the quilting, as it's hard enough quilting a single bed quilt, let alone when you have a huge pregnant belly pushing you back from the machine and the heat and weight of the quilt was really getting to me as I tried to shove it through thhe machine for several rotations to quilt squares in all the blocks.

A very early WIP shot from when those strippy squares were bothering me

Emma saved the day by taking it on a little holiday and finishing the quilting for me, and I doubt I had done much more than a third of it myself so her quilting it was a ginormous help! Still, I didn't manage to finish it before Madelyn came along, as there were a gazillion ends to tie off and thread in, and I was busy with Madelyn's curtains and quilt at that point.

So my plan was to use it as my WISP for the February project, but I finished those thread ends this weekend, and amidst a feeding frenzy for Madelyn (another growth spurt? - surely not, she's hit the 00 clothing size already!!), I managed to get the binding stitched on, and started hand stitching it down. Austy was very happy to find the quilt all folded on the lounge chair yesterday once I'd threaded in that last end, and stayed under te quilt most of the day, despite the 30 degree celcius temperature (thank goodness we have good air conditioning here or else he would have overheated under that heavy wool batting).

Today the boys are at the cricket for the Australia day test match and I'm not sure how long my quiet time will last as it's set to be 35 degrees today, and Austy will most likely be ready to come home soon. I had planned to do some clothes sewing, or tackle the last round for the Emma's round robin quilt, but Austy's quilt has been calling me. When I stopped stitching for lunch I decided to lay it out on Austy's bed to check it out. You can see how it will look against the feature wall, matching cushion and bunting I made with the left over novelty prints. I'm so glad I made the bunting as some of my favourite fabrics are hidden since the quilt is so big and my hubby changed his mind and decided to make a normal single bed rather than a king single since Austin's bedroom is quite small. And you might recognise the curtains from a previous post too.

I only have half of the binding left to stitch down, so this one might just scrape it in for January after all. My husband has been joking with me for ages that Austin will get his quilt when he moves out of home. Looks like I can turn the tables now and nag him about making the trundle drawer to finish of the bed... that's just a plain mattress (still with plastic on it) you can see poking out from under the bed. The wood and handles have been purchased, but Andrew has a habit of starting a project, getting it mostly finished and useable, then moving onto something else. I think it will take Austin having a few sleep-overs when he's school aged to get Andrew back onto finishing the bed.
Got to go - the needle and thread calls!!!

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Little Lucy Dress

I am on a roll! Madelyn decided to have a very sleepy day today after being kept awake by some noisy hammering at the museum yesterday while Austin and I "hatched" a baby dinosaur from a sandstone egg at the dinosaur exhibit. On top of that, Austy decided to spend most of the morning outside helping his Dad cut down an overgrown plant that was in the weirdest of places, stopping our shed's lift door from opening fully. Then when he did come inside, he switched the TV to the abc jazz music channel (?!) and sat staring at a blank screen eating some dried apricots. Who knows why he wanted to listen to that - it's not something we have exposed him to and he tends to like some of the roudier alternative rock songs that come on Triple J telling us to turn up the radio when they come on. Strange boy, with varied music tastes, but that's fine, it gave me some much appreciated sewing time!

I had been planning a gift for a lovely crafty girl in my mother's group who had her second baby just a week before me. I met her little Lucy in the park last Friday and promised her a handmade gift. I had planned an appliqued onesie and shoes set like I did for the other new mother's group baby (here) but a girly set of course. I've had the fabric and onesie sitting on the ironing board with the shoe pattern for a couple of weeks now but I loved Madelyn's new dress so much I decided to make another. This time with a little more creativity, designing my own 3D butterfly embellishment which I thought really suited the print. I have no idea what the feature fabric is - just something I liked when browsing through Spotlight one day and bought it with no real purpose. Since Lucy has an older sister (who is Austin's age), I thought her Mum would appreciate something non-pink, but I had to use that pink Mettler silky thread again for the top stitching as it's just soo nice ;)

I was hoping to gift this tomorrow but unfortunately it will have to wait a few weeks as Lucy's Mum is off on a holiday, taking her new baby to visit the rellies. At least I know it will still fit her when she gets back as it's just so versitile with the adjustable straps and ability to be worn as a top over pants later on, even with a long sleeved top underneath for cooler weather.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Simple and pretty

Yesterday morning an early swim before the boys woke up inspired me to flick through my Ottobre magazines to find something quick and easy to make for Madelyn, who is growing super fast and will fit that little dress Novy made her in no time, but also be grown out of all her current 000 wardrobe. She is a massive 5.6kgs and 58cm which is off the charts for girls on both accounts!

I came across this little pinni top pattern in the 1/08 edition but added 2" length to turn it into a cool summer dress for the hot days we are finally getting. I altered the embellishment a little too since I couldn't find the right button. I almost embroidered the dress instead but in the end the thought of hooping for the embroidery machine put me off and I thought the flower would be cute anyway.

The feature fabric is some "fresh cut" I have been hanging onto for a while - I liked it but only got a fat quarter and there isn't much that can be done with a piece that size. Luckily it was perfect for this dress, and perhaps a pair of shoes to match. The flower is doublesided - it has the apple green fabric on the back. I also splurged and bought some Mettler "Silky" thread for the top stitching and I love it. I might have to do another with a pretty machine stitch between the feature and the plain instead of a plain straight stitch. It is a great fit on Miss Madelyn, here's my little model again:

Emma may recognise the background for these photos - it's the back of the gorgeous quilt she made Madelyn to welcome her to the world.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Something fishy around here...

I promised Austy these goldfish PJ's ages ago, and only just got around to making them. All of his summer PJ's were too small so we bought one pair to get us through until I could stitch some up for him. I decided on a slim fit tee from one of my Ottobre magazines as it was less likely to ride up, and DH loves the slim fit Peter Alexander one Austy got him for Father's Day with some PJ pants in 2007 for that very reason. I was getting sick of the bought ones shrinking up and stretching out wide, and Austy was having to pull his top down every night as he rolled over to settle into sleep. The shorts were a pattern I drafted myself, I wanted a mock fly and elastic waist with a loose leg and couldn't find all the features I wanted in any of the patterns in my pattern box. Excuse the dodgy photo - it was a little rushed in the morning before Austy ran into the shower. They are all crumpled from a good night's sleep!

The tee was really quick to make and the shorts would have been too if I didn't have to draft my own pattern for them first. So I went out and bought some red ribbing to make another pair when I get a chance.

And just in time for my birthday, this pretty little Pay It Forward gift arrived in the mail from Emma. So now I really had better get my act together and think some more about the three gifts I need to make and send out for three lucky blog readers. This is a little wall quilt, that I'm trying to convince DH to let me put on the wall in my sewing corner (which is in the lounge room). Until then it's sitting in the centre of our table. I do want to do a quilt wall one day, but I think it may have to wait until I get my own sewing room again...

And finally another nappy rolled off the sewing desk, a pink minky dot all-in-one. I lined it with super soft bamboo velour, so the bottom pic shows you a little bit of that lushness.
As much as I looooove my very baby fitteds that I made as they are great for containing those explosions that Madelyn seems to be so good at, there is something wonderful about patting a little minky bum under a pretty dress. So much so that I succumbed to a few nappy purchases lately, a couple of itti-bitty d'lish and a couple more magicalls. Devine.

I know I should be making them as I'm perfectly capeable but I just don't have the speed at the moment with limited sewing opportunities, and I just have a few disposables left in newborn size to get me through until I have enough nappies not to get caught with them all on the line. I don't want to have to buy the next size up, as the disposables are hopeless at holding in that yellow mess, and I'd rather show off my cloth nappies.
OMG! I just counted my completed 2008 list. Amidst working full time and studying part time I still managed to complete a project for every week of the year (although some of them were small projects and some weeks I did nothing). I think I have a bit to live up to this year! I need to finish some WIPs and stop buying fabric for things I plan to make and never get to...

Friday, 9 January 2009

First project of the year

Granted this is a little late, but better late than never, as the old saying goes. My sister-in-law (to be) loves handmade things, so it is always a pleasure to make gifts for her and our adorable niece Elizabeth as I know they will always be appreciated. So as her late December birthday approached, I wracked my brain for ideas.

I decided a beach bag would be ideal but in my pre-baby preparations (and nursery curtain sewing mishaps) I ran out of time. So on Christmas Eve, I went through my stash (too late to go to hunt for fabric in the shops, especially with Madelyn attached to my chest 90% of the time) and I searched for something simple, modern and that would go with the apple green lining fabric that I had managed to buy earlier in the month. I ummed and aahed about using this gorgeous Joel Dewberry fabric I had bought to make something for me because it's one of my favourite fabrics, but in the end it won out because although more aqua than green (SIL's favourite colour) it set off the photo beautifully without being too busy and gave the bag a nice modern look. Unfortunately there's not much left, but I may be able to do some applique with the scraps for Maddy.

I cut out the lining and printed the photo (with breath held as it was my last piece of printable fabric) on Christmas Eve, but that's as far as I got - couldn't bring myself to cut the feature fabric in case I found something else, and Madelyn was unsettled all night so I couldn't get to the machine anyway. So when we saw SIL on Christmas Day, all we had was a promise of a personalised handmade present. She was understanding though and happy to hear I was making her something, especially so soon after having a baby.

Then the days passed and I still hadn't managed to make any progress, putting it aside to make a couple of nappies instead to spread out my nappy washing days a bit. Then Andrew mentioned it to me one night this week and asked when I was going to do it, my reply being "Who knows?" as he kept occupying himself with odd jobs and shed tidying and sorting, leaving me with both children and not returning the favour. So when Maddy was asleep yesterday, he told me he would keep Austy out the back with him so I could sew. Woo hoo! It was pure bliss, and with a few feeding breaks this is what Maddy did most of the day, laying in her bassinette beside me with the humming of the sewing machine to soothe her:

I went for an after dinner walk to get her to sleep at a reasonable hour and was itching to get back and finish the bag, especially as we were meant to be babysitting Elizabeth today - the perfect chance to give her Mum her birthday gift. So after I fed Maddy, Andrew settled her and I sewed into the night, finishing at 12:30, half an hour before Maddy woke for her next feed. So I am paying for it a little today (and certainly needed my coffee with Madelyn waking up three times last night and taking nearly an hour to feed and settle each time) but the results are worth it I think.

The lining has an internal pocket with decorative stitching and a mobile phone or sunnies pocket, with plenty of room for a towel, sunscreen and bathers.

I've had the plastic for about a year to make bibs for Austy, then when he stopped wearing bibs I thought I'd use it for an art smock then decided to use it for this bag instead. I was afraid of plastic sewing, and while it took a little more care and patience, it wasn't too bad and makes a great splash proof beach bag.

Austy thought so too - here he is modelling it straight after his shower - he wouldn't get dressed till I took a "smile" of him with it!

Oh, and I almost forgot! I have joined the one a month challenge, as I needed to remind myself that I won't always have an unsettled baby and those WIPs, baby dresses and outfits for Austy will get made eventually. This was the perfect motivation, and I've already managed my first completed project for the year. Bonus!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

So much to blog about

Sorry it has been a little while since I blogged in here but I promise you I have been busy!
Okay, so all I have managed to sew in the past three weeks has been a pair of scratch mits, and two fitted nappies, and the only knitting I have done is still unfinished.

But here's the reason.

Our beautiful little girl Madelyn Anneliese joined our little family on the 19th December 2008. You can read all about it here, and there are also some more photos to be found on that blog for those who want to see. With Madelyn, Christmas and a couple of birthdays, it has been rather hectic here of late but it's about time I blogged some wonderful crafty gifts we received over the past month.

Firstly there was the EB Sewing group Secret Santa swap, where someone mysterious (they just put SS on the card and envelope!) sent me a very generous package with something each for me, Madelyn and Austin. I got a stunning little pin cushion and a cute little needle book (I am always losing needles in my pin cushions so this is perfect for me) as well as a yummy bag of Darrell Lee Christmas chocolates. Maddy got a cute and soft little bird with a bell in it and a hand embroidered bib. Austy was delighted to open his gifts - some biscuit cutters, stickers and Father Christmas stamps which he set to work with straight away!

Then, while in hospital, Madelyn and I had a visit from the talented Emma, who brought two beautiful quilts for Madelyn. The first one was made by the EB Quilters, where each person sent Emma a block or two with cream & burgandy as the theme (to match the nursery) and Emma pieced them all together and quilted them. The result is eye-catching and it has a beautiful richness about it. Madelyn loves it too - the contrast and colour have her staring at it all the time. In hospital I draped it over the head end of her crib when I wanted to have the light on at night, so she didn't get it shining in her eyes. I had the quilt with the blocks facing her for her to look at, then I noticed the sparkles in the beautiful backing fabric that I hadn't seen before. I had admired the pink flowers against the burgandy when Emma gave it to me but loved it even more when I saw the sparkles!

The second quilt is a work of art - Emma's own design, in a perfectly pieced quilt where all the points are crisp and sharp, and it has wonderful texture with free motion quilting on all of the white background. Emma knows my favourite colour is aqua/turquoise and designed the quilt to suit with a gorgeous range of fabrics. The subtle shade of pink is just perfect as it's not too pink at all, just adding a touch of prettiness to the quilt. This is such a special quilt, and pictures just can't do it justice.

While we're on the topic of quilts, here is the monkey quilt I finished for Madelyn while in hospital. I spent the last week or two of my pregnancy putting the last quarter of it together, adding the borders (the two thin white borders are peek-a-boo borders) and quilting it. Then I got it ready to hand stitch the binding down in hospital, while being monitored for induction and then through that first night while we were waiting for labour to start. It doesn't have a name yet as I was waiting for Andrew to buy the new printer he promised ages ago when our inks ran out, and now we have the printer I'm all out of printable fabric for the label. So as soon as I'm brave enough to tackle a quilt shop trip with a 3yr old and 3w old in tow, I will come up with a name and do the label. And yep... the backing's on upside-down... woops. I was very tired in those last few days! Oh well.

And last but not least, I received this little dress for Madelyn from the wonderful Novy, who has more than spoilt us over the past 12m with not one but two aprons for our little boy, and now this pretty little dress for our little girl. I love using dresses on warmer days as they are so easy for nappy changes (and I get to show off the cloth nappies!) as well as being a bit of a novelty after having a boy first. Andrew loves them too I think, and was as impressed by Novy's sewing as I was.