Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A quick and easy skirt

A while ago, I offered to try out and review a pattern for Fairy Tale Frocks and Lollipops, a long time favourite online store of mine that has recently updated its storefront and become a pdf only store with loads of new patterns and designers.

I had bought some fabric on a whim and was just looking for a little pattern for Miss M, when I came across the Hadley Grace Paper Bag Skirt pattern at FF&L. It looked so cute and perfect for the fabric I had grabbed just because.

The skirt came together so quickly and easily, that I decided to hunt through my stash just a day before my bestie's little girl's birthday party and make one for her. I had a plain tee in my "to embroider" pile that Miss M had outgrown before I'd got around to it (she has grown like a weed this year!) and found some coordinating prints I had bought years ago to make a basic baby quilt for my niece. It all came together so well, and teamed with an easy headband to complete the outfit, and a My Little Pony set, it made the perfect present, don't you think?

(Picture courtesy of G. Farr)

The pattern is very economical on fabric, and fantastic for the beautiful summer weather we are having. You can read my review over here, or purchase the discounted pattern here, but be quick! Only hours remaining as it goes back to full price on the 1st day of 2014!

Happy New Year! May it bring wonderful things to you and your family. We are especially glad to have both our children back at the same school next year as Mr A's intervention program has come to an end and it's time to bring him back to mainstream! Wish us luck!

Monday, 28 October 2013

KCWC - Oct 2013

It's Kids Clothes Week again! Or actually it WAS, I have postponed it for one week while I finished off Miss M's costume for her first ever calisthenics solo next weekend (she's Big Bird!).  So at my house the KCWC started last night.

I have been sorting through my fabrics, and the kids wardrobes, doing a bit of a spring clean, and I came across this cute froggy camouflage fabric I bought at Spotlight some years ago.  At the time Master A was pretty small, and I was a bit against camo gear for toddlers, but the little froglets called to me.  It's a bit more age appropriate now he is nearly 8, so my aversions have almost disappeared.

He's a pretty small kid, still comfortably fitting many size 5 shorts, but I grabbed the Big Long Boards pattern (sizes 6 - 10) by Make it Perfect, to cater for the years ahead.  I love this style for my boy, who hates buttons on the inside (and most bought shorts are too large at the waist unless they have adjustable waistbands), and still struggles to undo and do up a fly and button.  I saw a pair like this at target last year and snatched them up as they normally don't come in bigger than a size 2, and they have been our go to shorts.  

The only mod I made was to forego the drawstring (although I would have put a very short mock one on there had I find the right colour tape), because I knew it would end up pulled, chewed and soggy within a day of wearing these (ewww!). He wears a sensachew most days but drawstrings still seem to be a chew target, and that just grosses me out, especially when the drawstring is right there on the front of his pants!  I also made the wasitband smaller, following a tip I read on a sewing forum. 

First I measured his waist (tiny - he's our Skinny Mick!), subtracted 4" and cut a the elastic at that length.

Then I butted up the ends and zigzagged them together to baste.

Next I grabbed a scrap strip of fabric, wrapped it around the join and zigzagged both sides for strength.

I love how this takes out the bulk of the seam, when your kid is fussy about the way their clothing feels, this is a huge bonus!  I will be doing this every time now!

These came together pretty easily, although a little more time consuming due to the  double top-stitching everywhere, but still not too bad. I could have finished them in a single sewing session had I had the 2" elastic in my stash.  The knee patches took the longest to prepare and then that waistband took a bit of fidgeting with, but that's probably my fault as I made the waistband 3" smaller than designed. Overall, this is a great pattern that I will be definitely coming back to.  I am tempted to by the Little Long Boards pattern for baby and toddler gifts, as they are just fabulous for any age.

Monday, 23 September 2013

A knight's tale

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far away, a young knight was planning on an adventurous weekend with his brave father.  

As his mother prepared his knapsack, and checked off the list his Joey Scout leader had sent home, she gasped in panic, as she realised he didn't have a single knightly thing to wear, with only one day until his camping adventures began!

Luckily her fabric stash was healthy with leftover drill, some navy blue left over from his little handyman dust coat, and lime green leftover from his kindy bag (projects from years ago).  She drafted an emblem similar to the Scouts own logo, and found some grey fabric left over from his little sister's first day of school skirt.

And so at the very last minute, a knightly outfit was pulled together, his pirate sword learned a new purpose, and a grey hoodie on sale in the girls section (ssshhh!) made the perfect chain mail for under his new knight's tunic.

Much fun was had on his knightly weekend away with Dad. He made his own knight's helmet and shield, while the girls stayed home for a lovely quiet (peaceful!) weekend of manicures, craft and a leisurely stroll through the zoo.  Bliss! (She was super happy to spend lots of time with the pandas, since a sensory meltdown from her brother last time meant she missed her favorite zoo animal).

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Throwing myself straight back in here!

It has been a long while since my blog got some attention, despite my resolutions at the beginning of the year to try and keep it up to date.  This year has brought lots of big decisions, a couple of lifestyle changes and new routines for the whole family to get used to. But through all that, the same creative ventures have been keeping me sane, even in such a limited capacity.

The two little twinnies I made a heap of preemie stuff for once upon a time, turned two just after we finally got to fly over to Perth and meet them.  So I decided to celebrate the occasion with a birthday vest and hat set for each little rocket boy. 

Miss M also gained a couple of winter hand knitted cardies, since the girl just keeps on growing like a weed.  Master A is struggling to stay above her on the height chart, and they weigh about the same even though there are 3 years between them.

The quilting has taken a bit of a back seat over winter, but I have been adding to my Lucky Star BOM blocks gradually through the year (just a couple of months behind).  I lost the race that the hubby and I had going - he finished Miss M's big bed, before I got the courage to quilt her big bed quilt.  And now I am hoping to find some time to catch up with the talented Emma, who has kindly offered to quilt it for me (she also saved the day and finished quilting Master A's big bed quilt for me after my pregnant belly with Miss M grew too big to get in close enough to my machine).
And now that the weather is warming again, the sewing machine keeps calling my name.  Miss M started school this term, a very rushed last minute decision by the school and kindy to have her start early meant we had no uniform in time for her transition visit, so I sewed her a little grey skirt from the Sassy Skirt pattern I found on etsy.  Sadly it only just fit her, even though I had added length and width, so she wore it once for the visit, and then it went straight to the op shop. 
I wished I had've listened to the recommendation someone gave me on Facebook to try out the Scientific Seamstress Perfectly Preppy skirt.  So when I couldn't
find her any black school skorts in any size less than 8, I went straight over to Scientific Seamstress and bought the Perfectly Preppy!  So glad I did.  I love everything about this pattern, and have many plans for more colourful skorts in my future!
On another facebook recommendation, I used the Scientific Seamstress Precious Dress pattern to make this adorable Alice in Wonderland Costume for Miss M. 
They were meant to follow the theme "across the universe" for book week, but she had her heart set on Alice after we had listened to it as an audiobook on our many trips up the hill to pick up Master A from school.  The only space characters we could think of weren't from books, but TV shows/movies, so we decided to ignore the theme and go with the literacy side of things, since Alice is a character she could relate to.  On the way to school that day, she surprised me with some quotes from the book that I hadn't even realised she had remembered!
I have also been involved as a volunteer pattern data entry lass over at the Kids Clothes Week Challenge.  I was assigned the Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop to set up first, which took a while as Amy has so many patterns.  Of course adding patterns meant also adding some to my cart, and so along came an evening re-connecting with my sewing machine to make this cute hoodie dress for Miss M.  When I finished with Peek-a-Boo Patterns, I asked my favourite designer from last summer's sewing if I could add hers.  So I am now in the process of adding the wonderful Tie Die Diva Patterns.  Jen was really lovely about it, and gifted me her gorgeous Butterfly Dress pattern, so I can't wait to try that one out too!
My newfound addiction to Scientific Seamstress patterns, meant a new fabric order for me, which arrived today.  They are hosting a selfish sewing week from the 23nd September, and I am looking forward to sewing for me for the first time in years -  I think I am going to go with the Jamie for this one.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

WIP Wednesday

I haven't done one of these posts in a while, but I have definitely been busy.  My Moda Friendship blocks keep breeding, and I now have a healthy stash of ten.  That's 1/3 of the way through all the blocks!
I didn't get any done over the Easter break, but I did try to see if I could perhaps challlenge myself to make another baby doll, this time with an embroidered face and some soft sculpture.  This one has a cute little booty!  I won't even pretend to know what I am doing.  There are certainly parts that look a little demented, but then again I am sure anyone would look a bit strange after being poked several times with an untrained needle! (yes, I am blaming the needle, not my hand...) 
I think I will have to see how she turns out before I go and enter this little one in the competition.  I definitely didn't take much notice of the warning that little 8" dolls like this one aren't really the best for beginners.  They look so easy until you try them.  Ahh, it's all practice and Maddy likes her. Now, let's see if I can get that other eye to match.
Speaking of Maddy, I brought home the pieces of a very bright pink costume for tonight to be sewn up for her Calisthenics exercises item.  Most cali Mums will know what comes next - tedious hand stitching of tonnes of sequins!  So perhaps my Moda stack will remain at its current size for just a little bit longer.

Friday, 29 March 2013

How could I resist...

... a Tikki Knit Along!  Georgie Hallam (designer of Tikki knits) has just released a new pattern for the boys, and with the release came a knit along in her ravelry group for the month of March.  As I was a little late to the party, and making one of the bigger sizes (a size 7 chest, with 8-10 length) I did worry that I wouldn't be finished in time, but I just scraped it in, blocking it yesterday.

 I do love a vest and collared shirt on my boy - isn't he so deliciously handsome?!  I couldn't help but tell him he looked so delicious I could gobble him up.. forgetting how he takes things so literally. 

    "Don't be silly, Mum" he told me.  Then hesitantly, "You couldn't really eat me could you?".
     "No darling". 
    "Then why would you even SAY that!"

He still modelled nicely for me and tried super hard to give me a nice smile (okay, I admit - he was bribed with a red frog lolly!)

I started knitting on the 17th, as I had to wait for my yarn to arrive, and then dyed it myself.  I was aiming for a deep navy colour with some lighter patches, but it decided it wanted to be less varigated and more of a denim shade.  I don't mind - it works well with jeans, and goes with just about every shirt in his cupboard.

The pattern was a little tricky to get started, I haven't worked "saddle shoulders" before, but once I got going it was easy... and addictive.  The cable was a nice simple design and the rolled hem on the sleeve edges is a cute touch.  Another one of Georgie's patterns to add to the "I love" list! 

I used just 200g of the 300g I dyed.  The neighbour just gave birth to a baby boy, so perhaps I can use the last 100g there... maybe a baby vest just like this one is on the cards!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Seeing Orange

Harmony day, which was celebrated here last Thurday, is often recognised by wearing the colour orange, or cultural dress.  Being a very Aussie family, we don't really have anything "cultural" in our wardrobe, so I decided to be prepared, tie dying a t-shirt for Austy to wear to school for the occasion.
I am usually not this prepared, (and there has been one harmony day where hubby had to drop Austy at school and rush off to find something!) but knew that with school half an hour away this year there would be no chance in any rectification if I overlooked it.  So I did the shirt anyway, even though there had been no notes home about a casual day that I could recall.

 He didn't end up wearing it, as it seemed this school doesn't really do anything for harmony day.  Luckily his teacher decided to do a few related activities with the class, because Austy was a bit upset about the fact that he has always celebrated it at school before. Alas his t-shirt is still unworn (that's what I get for beiung prepared!).  I think I might applique a charcoal fabric in the sillhouette of a guitar to the front though as I am pretty pleased with how it came out (after my last tie dye attempt was little more than a failure!) and I'd like him to get some wear out of it.
On Wednesday night, I came home with Madelyn's harmony day dress for kindy still looking like this:

So I decided to let my WIP Wednesday post slide for the third week in a row to turn it into this:

I must admit, I did contemplate sending her to kindy in her brother's size 8 t-shirt, and regretted not throwing one for her into the pot with it as I was also trying to bake raspberry jelly cakes as my "cultural dish" for our shared harmony day morning tea at work.  I pushed on and she was very happy with the results.  Unfortunately the only modelled photo I have is an iPhone shot hubby sent me at work, with her grinning as proud as punch!
Madelyn took home the kindy's "cultural awareness doll", Sima for a sleep over a couple of weeks ago, and the thing was dreadful - it was sticky, filthy, had horrible messy hair and very stained, and falling apart clothes in it's little pack.  Most of the clothes were cabbage patch doll clothes and didn't fit properly.

The first thing I wanted to do was wash the doll, but on reading the kindy's booklet that came with her, the first thing that was mentioned was "Please do not give me a bath".  I contemplated it for a moment, and nearly left her, but I couldn't handle the thought of not knowing where she had been, and feeling that grime upon her plastic skin I decided to give her a bit of a wipe down with a soft cloth and dish detergent anyway.  We spent some time brushing her hair with Maddy's Australian Girl Doll brush, and some leave-in conditioner, and all that was left was to make her some new clothes.

Since we only had her for the one night, she had to go back with just the outfits she came with, but at least she was cleaner and the children could get a comb through her long black hair once again.  Then today I discovered this Mod Kid dolly pattern that I have had unopened for ages, and decided to make a new slightly longer skirt for Emily (the one I made to match Maddy's was slightly to short), and two new long sleeved tops, one for Emily and one for Sima.  So Madelyn has a belated Harmony Day present for Sima the cultural doll tomorrow - a pretty new top, and Emily's too short skirt (which should still cover Sima's knees as she is a smaller doll).

I think I have had enough of orange for a while now!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Designing for a special little showcase

I have been designing again, but this time for a different cause.  I will be releasing this pattern as another freebie on ravelry in the next few days. 
Chevgirl Knitting is hosting a showcase called "Hats for Ethan" to raise money to help pay for Ethan's treatment.  Ethan is just 6 years old and has been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.  You can read about his journey here.

As soon as I read about this, I knew I had to make some kind of contribution, so it was the least I could do to design a hat especially with him in mind.  This prototype hat will be offered up for sale in the showcase on May 10 (which I think will be held on her facebook page).

Surprisingly, my not so obliging model became my obliging one, while the other wouldn't have a bar of it!  So yes, that's my daughter, happily modelling a boy hat.  I am so happy that she did exactly as I told her and amazingly... STOOD STILL!  I wish I could get her to do that in the dresses I make her.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Sole mates!

After nearly two years in waiting, my sock has found a friend.   I think I am just as much in love...
Being a me project, these socks took position at the bottom of my list.  I am also famous for Second Sock Syndrome (a knitting conundrum where you just never get arounsd to making that second sock).  But I am glad I did.  There is nothing like lounging about in some soft, pretty, handknitteed socks.  Especially in winter - they are warmer than anything money can buy.
Lotta thinks they are fabulous too - she slept on the first sock while I knitted the second, and I am sure she thinks they are hers.  She tried to lick them while I took my photos!
Knitters - the pattern is easy, and free on ravelry here.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Because little girls aren't always young ladies

Madelyn is a knicker flasher.  Like many 4 year olds, she has no idea of modesty.  Sometimes I feel like a broken record... "Madelyn, put your dress down!"...  "Madelyn, put your legs together!"...  "Legs down Madelyn!" 

Often we give up and keep her in shorts, but we have a few little denim skirts from Gymboree, that all have little cotton shorts attached.  Marvelous inventions!  But not quite enough twirl for a princess.

So once again, Tie Die Diva came to the rescue, with her Twirl Skirt pattern with attached bloomers.


I see a fair few of these in our future!  I think I might try it with some little stretch knit shorts underneath though, the bloomers really are more like bloomers than shorts and quite "boofy".  But then again, perhaps that is what makes the skirt so puffy and twirly looking.  Some experimenting is in order.

I do love the ruffles.


Saturday, 9 March 2013

And another star on the pile

I love it when I have enough blocks to make at least a 2 x 2 grid.  You start to see some cohesiveness.  That's exactly what happened today, when I got to sew up the March block:
The Ninja Star.
Loving the sparkle in the background!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

WIP Wednesday #7

When you are out of the house for 12 hours a day, 5 days a week, and have to cook dinner, feed and bathe kids and read stories before you can clean up and sew, making progress is slow.  Very slow! But I am glad that I have been pushing past that wall of tiredness and switching on the machine. There is something about piecing bits of fabric together that I find so relaxing.  I have to tune out the world and focus on cutting accurately, making seams meet, pressing carefully and I get to watch a block appear before my eyes.


Given that I have just gotten over a stomach virus and now considering staying home in bed tomorrow to get over the head cold that has been plaguing me all week (and harassing me with an asthma flare up that has made me just want to sleep), perhaps taking on another QAL was not such a good idea.  But if I think of it as medication to keep me sane… I am so happy to be joining in! So I am following the Moda Friendship Blog Hop and QAL and loving every minute!

I was inspired by the gorgeous “Simply Sweet” fabric range I have used on Madelyn’s latest dress (made this week – just needs buttons).  I told you I was excited about this one, because of the fabric selection, right?  Well now I have an excuse to play with these colours some more! 


I bought the fabric at an end of bolt sale, so had a minimum 1y cut.  So I grabbed 1.5y of each the green and the white prints.  This means I have plenty left to make Emily a little matching dolly dress (and sqee! Just as I was considering drafting my own dolly version, Tie Dye Diva released it in dolly size!).  Unfortunately this fabric is hard to find now, so I can’t make an entire quilt from this range, but I have plenty to use in a few of the blocks.  And an order of coordinating prints on the way (woops – that stash busting doesn’t look like it’s going so well!).  How could I resist some of this Pam Kitty Love?

Photo courtesy of: http://www.fatquartershop.com

I managed to finish my CP cushion top, and nearly went ahead and quilted it so it was ready to stitch into a cushion cover when I eventually get to a shop to buy a zip.  Fortunately, sensibility took hold and I tucked myself into bed before midnight hit, and turned me into a pumpkin.  This block is so easy and quick to make, which makes me confident enough to cut into my Pieces of Hope stack.  Joining them and matching up seams was a little tricky, but I got the hang of it, and I think on larger blocks I will be wondering what I was worried about.


And thanks to Vanessa from Punkin Patterns, for her design wall post, I now have one of my own!  Mine is only small; 500mm by 700mm and I had room to go bigger, but  I chose to use foam board rather than polystyrene (for the sake of the vet bills I didn't want, as my cat loves to eat the stuff!) This was the only size available when I went to Officeworks on the weekend.  I paid the extra dollar and got the self-adhesive foam board.  Fabulous!  All I had to do was peel back the backing paper, smooth on some flannelette, and tape it to the back.  Done! 
(okay so my desk is a little messier than Vanessa's....)
I deliberated on turning it into smaller design boards to help with cutting and laying out sampler blocks, but the design wall won out.  I may go back and get some more but at $11.50 a piece I wanted it to be the size I would most use.  DH doesn’t let me hang quilts on walls… but he said nothing about design boards!
Okay, time to link up with Freshly Pieced and hit the couch with some knitting...  No sewing tonight, I am exhausted!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

WIP Wednesday #6

Hmmm.. time to reflect on what I have been doing in my creative zone this week and again feel like I haven't enough to show.  I am still settling into things, but I think I am finally starting to find my feet.  New quilting books have arrived and been drooled over, and I feel inspired more than ever to get brave with FMQ.

With the realisation that the month is nearly over and I have yet to find the time to buy batting, I think it is safe to say Madelyn's quilt will remain on the backburner for a little bit longer.  I could rush it through with some straight line quilting, but I think it might be the perfect canvas for some new (to me) quilting techniques, and given that I will be looking at it every day, I don't want to think "If only I had..."  The borders scream out for some free motion, don't you think?

I have finished my February Lucky Star I showed you last week:

Made a dress for my little girl, and cut out another:
(Seriously excited about this one - couldn't fathom a more perfect fabric and pattern combo!)

And started on a cushion to test out the pattern I want to make the AIP quilt with.  I am using a 4" block, however the quilt will be done with a 7" block.  I didn't have many scraps left big enough for the 7" size, and wanted to use my cherished Central Park leftovers. This will have pride of place on my lounge, along with the matching Blockapalooza quilt (that is waiting on final borders).

Next weeks goals:
  1. Sew up another dress  for my girl
  2. Finish piecing my Central Park cushion top
  3. Frolic on some fabric to practice FMQ
Linking up at Freshly Pieced