Monday, 31 January 2011

It's here!

During that busy first week of school, Madelyn and I were verty excited to open a couple of fabric parcels - the first one, this adorable and impossiblyu pretty dress made by Naomi, for as a part of the Queensland Flood relief auctions. It was going far too cheaply, and I couldn't have that, so despite it only being a size 2 (Maddy normally wears a 3) I decided to chance it and place a bid.

So glad I did, as it's a very generous fit, so pretty and girly for our little princess, and what's more, she loves it to bits! The reason I couldn't capture a nioce modelled shot? She was far too busy twirling and dancing! Naomi has done such a fabulous job with this dress, such wonderful quality and the skirt even has a lining to help boof it out a bit. With an added bit of bling it was bound to be a winner with Madelyn and me!

And of course, I was very much anticipating the arrival of this precious bundle - a fat eights pack of Kate Spain's Central Park range so I could get started on Bloggers' Blocakpalooza quilt along! I cut into it straight away, as I was already two blocks behind. This is going to make a funky quilt for our family room for the winter. You know those chilly nights where you just want to snuggle up in front of the TV? One of my favourite moments in the cooler months, and this should be big enough for snuggling with the kids too.

My favourite prints are diefinitely the little animals, but I am too scraed to cut into those yet. This quilt aloing is turning out to be quite fun and liberating, as I have had to let go a little and ejoy the process since I don't know what is coming next. I normally fuss forever about what blocks to put where but this time I just have to trust the designers and go with the flow a little.

The big day - my baby boy is at SCHOOL!

That's right! This little guy is now officially a school boy. (Excuse the smudge on his top - I hid the school logo for the blog for security reasons). After an early start to the day, we fed him up with as big a breakfast as we could get him to eat, packed his bag and delivered him to school with lots of hugs and kisses, including a special kiss from his baby sister as we left. While a little shy, he was very excited, and got stuck straight into the activity, drawing me a tree and an owl. At home he just draws scribbles so I was thrilled to see some detail in this one, I just love the way he did the leaves.

Of course, Madelyn thought she was a school kid too and had to steal a place at the desks (luckily there was a child absent this morning at Austy's table). I met the new head mistress, who asked me if Madelyn was 3, and as soon as I replied, "No, she's just turned 2", my little toddler tugged at my t-shirt saying "Excuse me Mummy, where is my dwink?" as she wanted to put it in the tub with all of the other school kids' drinks. I think we wiull be hearing that mistake a lot as she certainly talks like a 3 year old. Not long after she was threading tiny beads onto a string with the big kids, so I think she will be growing up fast enough!

In the meantime, I have been plugging away at a few little projects, including 3 pairs of training pants for Madelyn (no pics as they just keep getting snatched to be worn, and then promptly weed in!), my Quilts for Queensland blocks (one for the boys)...

...(and a test run for the Bloggers Blockapalooza)...

...and trying my hand at FMQ as I put together some potholders for the EB potholder sew, show, swap.

Here are my 4 different completed ones, with another one waiting to be quilted (it has cupcakes on it and Madelyn alreeady thinks it's hers, so I may have to do another to keep here!)

I am enjoying some time off from work while we settle our boy into school, so hope to get some quality sewing time in when Madelyn naps. Ah, the joy of being a SAHM (even if it is only for a week!).

Saturday, 29 January 2011

He sews too!

It seems this school holidays is the time to teach little boys to sew. I have one bored 5yr old here, who is desperate to learn new things (thank goodness he becomes a SCHOOL kid next week), and who for the last few months of kindy was grizzling "I don't want to go, it's boring, we always do the same stuff and it's too easy!". Keeping him entertained and stimulated has been a bit tricky lately but we know if we don't give him new things to do, his behaviour goes out the window.

He has always taken an interest in sewing (although sewing for him usually consits of sitting on my lap pressing the start/stop button on my "picture machine" (aka embroidery machine) or sitting on my lap pressing the scissors button when I am sewing (when I ask him too of course). He is amazed by how those machines just do their thing and loves to just watch the needle going up and down. When he was littler, I just could not sew when he was awake for fear of him wanting to "help" and making things take 100 times longer. Madelyn on the other hand isn't quite as fussed, and loses interest very quickly when she realises that she is only allowed to touch buttons when I say she can.
So on Sunday, as I finished off Madelyn's liuttle top and skirt set, he asked me to teach him to sew. Not press a couple of buttons, SEW! I had a quick think, and remebered Lotta is always in need of new toys as she is super playful and loses evertything under couches within 5 minutes (yes this new toy is temporarily missing too!) and remembered making one with Nanna when I was about 10 or 12. When Maddy went down for her nap, we set to work. I cut out a little denim scrap (from the skirt) and some polar fleece, layed them on top of each other and helped him sew around the edge. He couldn't quite reach the pedal and see the machine, without hanging on the edge of the desk, so he had a turn at both the feeding and the pedalling. He liked the feeding best, but is a little heavy handed and stopped it moving a few times. Lotta doesn't care and in fact the tiny stitches that resulted just make it stronger.

Knowing Lotta's love for bells and rattles, I took over and made the little elastic strip and hand stitched a bell to it, to stitch into one end, and while we were at it, I let Austy snip off a bit of selvedge from the polar fleece for another "dangly". Austy stuffed it, then I handstitched it close (completely forgetting the satchels of catnip I have in my sewing draw specifically for projects like these- arghhh!). Watching the delight in Austin's face as he handed her the new toy and she started playing straight away was priceless. It is her new favourite toy, which made the project even more thrilling for him. I see more sewing in his future despite the fact that his mean old Dad says sewing is for girls. I mean, seriously, how is it okay for ME to be a mechanical engineer, but not okay for his son to sew? As far as I am concerned, I will teach him, what ever he wants to learn (as long as I have the skills to do so.) Which reminds me, I had best get onto the hunt for a piano teacher, as he can't wait to learn that either and my ability in that area is nowhere near my sewing skills!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Project 52 - A Flutterby Moment

A gentle bushwalk with my best bud, yielded this image as we both played with our new cameras.

ETA: I couldn't choose this week so I threw them both in. Originally I thought the bottom one was better but I like the way I captured the open wings in the top one.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

A little bit of country style

I have learned my lesson: Never judge a fabric at first glance! This fabric, which is simply gorgeous on my little girl, was a freebie Liberty Print ("Pepper") that my mother in law gave me when she was cleaning out her fabrics. She hasn't really done a lot of sewing since her children were little and what she had was mostly small cuts, suitable for children only. She handed me this fabric saying "You might be able to use that for your quilting". I took one look and screwed my nose up (she was telling me to be honest as she didn't want to give me fabric I wouldn't use!). I couldn't imagine it as a quilt at all. But as we continued to go through the fabrics, I started thinking that it would make a cute little top for my girl.

It definitely does! A bit Country Road style, I think. This has to be one of my favourite little outfits I have made. It suits her perfectly. It isn't pink (yay!) but she loves it anyway as it still has enough prettiness to it - yes, she is such a little princess and loves lace, ribbon, frills and PINK!

The top is on the front cover of Ottobre 3/2007. I have loved the design ever since I got that issue, but wasn't ready to tackle shirring then, and besides, at that time of my life I was only looking at boy patterns. Good thing I picked it up again as the biggest size for this top is 92cm - which is equivalent to a size 2. She only just fits the pattern now and even then, I did it with the rolled hem as in the pattern to begin with and it was far too short. Not to worry, this lace/broderie englaise combo trim was just perfect to give it 1.5" extra in length and adds to the prettiness. I could easily upsize this pattern now if I needed to but I don't like to muck around too much on my first go.

This wonderful soft denim was also a freebie from my generous mother-in-law. I love soft denim and use it alot, so I grabbed it for my pile the second she showed me. While it was there on the bed with my other "to keep" fabrics, I spotted it next to the Liberty print and then I just had to have the print to go with it, as they team together beautifully. It's amazing how envisioning the right project for a fabric can change your whole wiew of it. As soon as I pictured the top and denim skirt I actually started to love the print I hadn't much liked at first glance.

And, I have also found a use for the gorgeous tapes I won from LillaLotta's blog during Blogtoberfest a couple of years ago. I have been stashing them away for something special, but they really need to be used so people can see them, so I got brave and snipped this label off. The perfect little finishing touch. Why do I make clothes for my darlings? Because I love them.

If you want to make a skirt just like this one, go to From An Igloo, where you will find an excellent free tutorial. The best thing about this pattern - what you can't see in the photos is that under the first ruffle, I have used the Liberty print. So when she dances, twirls or just plays around the garden, you can see a flash of matching fabric, to tie the two items together into a matching set. Love it! What a fabulous idea.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Project 52 - The Natural World

I don't think I have mentioned yet, but in December, this little sweetheart came into our lives. You may recall that we haven't had a good run with our fur-babies lately, with my Siamese cat Gryffin leaving us in 2009 after 11 years of being my living hot water bottle, then a very short run with our adorable little Cornish boy, Milo, who died of Feline Peritonitis at only 8 months old. Milo's breeder promised us a new baby, and so we welcomed Lotta, just before Christmas. She is a black smoke/tortie Cornish Rex, who is a little vocal and stubborn, but loves to play all the same, and we are finding lots of room for her in our hearts. She does love to snuggle, and is very smoochy, but so far it seems I am her favourite cuddle toy!

That brings me to Project 52! Since I now have a DSLR in my hot little hands, I have decided to join in on this, which will see me publish a Project photograph for each week of the year that follows my selected theme "The Natural World". When I selected this theme I was trying not to limit myself too much but also try to challenge myself a little to expand my photography beyond photos of my children. That said, I do love taking photos of their gorgeous chubby, smiley faces, so they will pop up from time to time, but hopefully not every week. Since I am a tad late in starting, I will end up with 50 photos at the end of the year, that while technically may be far from perfect, should show my skills developing and me learning exactly what my camera can do!
I have started the project with this shot: Frolic. Lotta was rolling around enjoying the warmth of the sun (despite the hot summer day!). It was my first photo in manual mode after I worked out how to change the aperture and shutter speed. You can tell from the thin slits in her eyes that the sun was quite harsh, so it was a challenge to get the right exposure.

I have since played a little more, testing out how shallow my depth of field will go with the 50mm lens. That's pretty shallow!

And this one, just because it shows her playful nature. Little Lotta is slowly learning to tolerate the children wanting to pat her and cart her around all the time. I miss the bond that Milo had with Madelyn, but hope that the bond with Lotta and all of us will blossom as the weeks go by. We all hope that Lotta is our family pet for a very long time!

On the home front, now my baby girl has caught the dreaded virus that Austy and I had last week. For her it has been a little worse as the fever is causing her to throw up (hence the singlet and nappy!) Luckily she is a very easy going little girl, and easily distracted with some home-made playdough. Pink, of course!

Craft wise, I will soon have some SHOPPING to show off, as the quilt bug has hit again, and I hope to churn out some beauitiful quilts in 2011 and finally brave free motion quilting. With us being sick the last week or so, I realised that I have nothing to snuggle with on the lounge, and even though we are in the midst of summer here, when you have a fever like that, you still want something to snuggle under. This year there will DEFINITELY be a couch quilt for me!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The Christmas Dress - Full Reveal

As I mentioned in my last post, I have quite a backlog of projects to blog, and this is one of my favourites! When I saw the main fabric for this dress (by Riley Blake - my favourite designer!) I just KNEW it had to become Madelyn's Christmas dress. I had no idea what to team it with but I had the other fabric ( a spotlight cheapie) laid out across the lounge room floor for backing my advent calendar, and thought I could "get away with it". But as soon as I put the two together I knew they were meant to be together!

Project Name: Madelyn's Christmas Dress
Pattern Name: "In the Garden Shirred Twirly dress" FREE Tutorial here
Size: 3yrs (actually, made to measure)
Pro's: Easy! Delightful! Super full! Super Twirly! Big smiles from the little girl!
Con's: None, unless you count the tears when I tell Maddy it's in the wash!

This was my first go at shirring a dress, which lead me to the sundress in my previous post. I... just... love... shirring! Super easy and gives a fantastic fit that will last for ages, and comfy for my little girl to wear.

I also made a ruffled headband to match this dress and together the set looks divine. She was so adorable on Christmas day, but alas I was too busy in the kitchen to get a good shot of her in the whole ensemble, and now the headband has gone astray.

As you can tell, I am already in love with my new camera, even though I have a long way to go ion learning how to use it. If only my precious daughter was more of a model. I mean, of course she is gorgeous enough (those pretty blonde locks and cuddle me eyes!) but she just won't keep STILL! She just wanted to run and hide from me, but I guess I didn't do too badly considering I have been at work all day and she didn't have her nap.

Monday, 17 January 2011

First project for 2011

I have a bit of a project backlog for the blog, as I haven't been keeping up to date. So here is the first one I finished in the first week of January, and has been worn several times since as it's just so easy to throw on.

Project Name: Sunny Days dress
Made For: Madelyn (24m)
Size: 3-4yrs
Pattern Name: Ava Tie Top (Dress version) by Izzy and Ivy
Pro's: No patterns to trace, quick and easy! Great fit.
Cons: Ran out of thread to do the pin ticks with the overlocker as I had used a whole reel of yellow by the time I'd done all the shirring and topstitching. I ended up turning under the rolled edge on the bottom as it wouldn't look right with folded pin tucks, and used a slightly different shade of yellow to do the pin tucks. Yes I could have gone and bought more... if it wasn't a public holiday. I am impatient! This was my pattern tester dress anyway and I have more fabric set aside for another.

And another block whipped up for the Quilts For Queensland project. I did the centre as a paperpieced block to remember how to do it, (yes it has been that long!) and it was meant to be used to make a potholder for the EB Sew-Show-Swap that I am involved in. But it just cried out to become a 12" block for a boy's quilt. And so it became one with the addition of some complimentary borders.

I am almost back to my normal self now, so back to work for me tomorrow (the Dr said I will no longer be contagious after 5 days of the antibiotics so no chance of giving anyone else this horrid respiratory flu and bronchitis and Austy is sounding a lot better now too). Glad to not be coughing so much and to have the energy back to do the things I love.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Quilts for Queensland: Block #1

I am loving how the blogging and crafting world is pulling together for this cause! Corrie from Retromummy has started the Quilts For Queensland project, where we can contribute as little as a single block made up from a few scraps, up to a completed quilt whioch she will organise to have donated to those effected by the floods. Many of these people have lost everything so a comfy handmade quilt to snuggle under would be sure to help bring back a smile or two.

Corrie is after 12" finished blocks (12.5" unfinished) so that she can put together some quilts for boys, girls, mums, dads - anyone! So I decided to make my first block a boy block, as the boys sometimes get forgotten when pretty fabrics are there for the using. (Please excuse the stray bit of cotton that I didn't see until after uploading the photo!)

I plan to make at least a couple more, as they will help make a dent in my scrap pile, get me back into quilt making mode, and also get turned into beautiful quilts. If you can sew a straight line, and have some spare cotton fabric, then why not join in? For more info, click on the button in my sidebar.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

My birthday wish came true!

I have wanted a DSLR for ages. And now I have one! I did have to do a bit of prodding to get it, but here it is in my hot little hands. I have been warned not to mention the words "new" and "camera" in the same sentence for the next 20 years unless I am talking about this one, but I think I will be fine... for a little while anyway ;)

I have a lot of reading, playing and learning to do for now, but hopefully I can show you some of the things that this baby can do, here on my blog soon , so watch this space! You are bound to see more FO pics, pics of the kids, (and furkid!) over the weeks to come so you have now been warned that this blog could become picture heavy!

For now though I have some recovery to do. Austy and I have been unwell - poor Austy for longer than I have as the doctor said he was fine after a week of 39 degree fever and a horrid cough that would not go away. I was given antibiotics for bronchitis but nothing to help Austin. When I went in for a second opinion for him I was told we both had either whooping cough or a bad strain of the flu, perhaps even swine flu and to stay housebound until we heard back from our swabs or until we finish the strong antibiotics he put us both on. Luckily we were both given the all clear for whooping cough and swine flu, but it still hit us hard. We were planning to go out for a birthday dinner together tonight as DH and I were both meant to be working on my birthday and no real chance for a meal together to have a cake. However we have postponed again as I can hardly eat a nibble at the moment (apparently that is the antibiotics that make us both feel a bit gross when we eat), so have decided the cake can wait until we can all enjoy it!

I have had a little play with my new toy though, and I look forward to being well enough to be giving it a real workout!

Edited to add a couple of shots I took today on it - I have a long way to go I know, but this was all I could get from my uncooperative (and black -eyed from a sleep-bump the other night) 2 year old, (who told me not to take her photo!) and my still recovering 5 year old. Got to have a starting point, right? Time for me to get back and read the manual some more!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Queensland Flood Relief Auctions

I don't really need to mention too much about the Queensland Floods for people to know what I am talking about - it's all across the news, all across the world, the impact is huge. Toni from Make It Perfect (click button in sidebar for details) has come up with a great idea for the crafting world to raise money to help them all get back onto their feet. The least I can do is take part.

Toni will be listing a master list of all auctions from all crafting bloggers on Monday 17th January, with all auctions closing on midnight EST on 24th January.

I am unwell this week so haven't been able to pull my finger out and get making, however I thought I could still play along, offering up a semi custom soaker or shorties set that I will make once the auction concludes.

The shorties/soaker (winning bidder's choice) will be hand-knitted from lush Woolganics 12ply, dyed by me in a girl/ boy/ gender neutral handpainted colourway using professional Gaywool acid dyes. My dyeing style (a little bit of this and a little bit of that) does not lend itself to repeatable colourways, but you may suggest a colour theme for me to follow. I will create a unique colourway just for you. A matching purchased t-shirt will be embroidered by me to go with the soaker/shorties with a machine embroidered applique design and name of the child (name is optional). If a size small is chosen, there is the additional option of the shorties/soaker being longies instead - I will dye up 100g of wool with 50g of semisolid trim, and 100g will make longies in size small. Similarly, you can choose capris if you are after a size medium.

You choose:

  • Colour preference (girl/boy/ gender neutral) and may offer suggestions of 1 or 2 colours to include in the varigated handpainted yarn. I will choose the other colours based on what dyes I have and will create a colouraway of 4 or 5 colours.

  • Soaker or shorties (for large size), soaker, shorties or capris (for medium size), soaker, shorties, capris or longies (for small size).

  • Woollies size - small (NB-3m), medium( 3m- 9m) or large (9m -2yrs) Sizes in brackets are age estimates only as all babies grow at different rates.

  • T-shirt size and style (short or long sleeved, and size 000-2) I will choose colour based on availability and what will go with the woollies

  • Applique design (I will give you a few to choose from - designs that I have already purchased)

  • Font for name if personalisation is requested (again, I will give you a few fonts to choose from based on what I have)
Here is how it works:

1. Bidding will start at $30 (Australian)

2. Bids are placed by leaving a comment on this post with your bid amount and email. Please make sure your bid is higher than the previous bidder.

3. You must bid in whole dollar increments

4.Overseas residents will be charged actual shipping costs, however postage is free for Australian residents

5. The auction begins NOW and wil close at midnight EST on 24th January

6. At the close of the auction I will contact the winner to find out your preferences for soaker/shorties, colour preferences (boy/girl/gender neutral), long sleeved or short sleeve t-shirt, size and whether you want the child's name embroidered on the t-shirt (and the name).

7. Please make your payment of the winning amnount directly to the Premiers Flood Relief fund and send proof of payment to me.

8. Once proof of payment is received I will make and send the set to you within 3 weeks of receipt.

Thank you so much for taking part. Happy bidding!

ETA: At the request of my first bidder I will also update my facebook account with bid changes. (Great idea Susan!)
Photos are both sets that I have made previously from my own hand dyed wool, and appliqued t-shirts to match (the photographed t-shirts were also hand made by me, but this auction will use a PURCHASED t-shirt with my applique).

Sunday, 9 January 2011


Just a short post to wish my readers a wonderful year ahead.

There are some changes going on in here, as I normally do at the start of the new year - as you can see I have been playing around with my blog design, and I can promise you it won't stay this way. I don't like it much but had to do something to test out sizes etc. and since I have a widescreen monitor now, I still don't know if it works. The colours are a bit too pink for me, so I will have a rehash when I can. Since this is a new computer, I only had the papers I downloaded for Madelyn's birthday invitations to play with. It was either pink and girly, or rockets and space (from Austy's invitations)!

I am working on a number of projects at the moment, and have some to upload from the end of last year (a couple of sundresses and test knits). I am going to try to set up a new proforma for publishing my projects, to keep it brief, easy to read and send people in the right direction for pattern links etc.

Last year, I worked on feeling less guilty for spending time for me. This year I aim to take this further by scheduling set times for my craft projects and making sure I get it. I am slowly learning that time for me makes me a better mother, not a worse one, and it is just as important as everytthing else I do for the kids. Hopefully I will be able to get more involved in swaps and blog events this year and feel connected with my online crafty friends again.

Stay tuned!