Thursday, September 30, 2010

Domestic roles

Most mornings I feel like a short-order cook... breakfast for 3 hungry little mouths, trying to accommodate different tastes and allergies and still provide a healthy, nutritious start to the day. There is whining if it doesn't happen quickly, and screaming from the boy if I take a break to refill his bowl!

I also feel like a barista most mornings. It's been a long time since I've been able to have a quiet morning coffee (as any parent of small children will know) and these days the whole morning coffee routine is quite a saga with 4 drinks to make (hot chocolate for the kids of course)!

We use my favourite Koziol cups that I enjoy collecting. They come in varying sizes - huge for me (or 'bucket sized' as the Mr calls it - well, it does have to get me through the morning :-), medium for the girls and small for the boy....

who insists on holding his own cup...

"Yes? Something wrong?"

and needs a lot of cleaning up afterwards!

Then there's my role as washerwoman and the absolute mountain of washing to address all the time. If you're in the neighbourhood and feel like an exciting evening of clothes folding, drop in!

Although I loved taking part in the kids clothing week challenge it came at a bad time for me as we'd just arrived back from holiday and when I looked around the house I realised just how grubby it was - all the holiday sewing I'd been doing had been to the detriment of the cleaning. It looked like the the grubby fairies had been in and messed up. Now we need a visit from the cleaning fairies... wait, that'll be me... oh dear!

So I've promised myself no more sewing until I can get a bit of control back in the house. It's going to be tough, I'm sewing addicted at the moment, but maybe that's just the incentive I need!

Cook Clean Craft has some great cleaning tips to help. Now if I just had the time and motivation to do a huge spring clean on the house... the desire is there, the problem is that the sewing machine is too :-)

Any tips for me? Ways you motivate yourself to do the not-so-fun stuff around the house? I'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Something I love about having a blog and being an Etsy storeholder is 'meeting' lovely people along the way.

It's particularly nice to connect with other mums trying to channel their creativity into something to help out their families along the way. Helen from Poss&Wom sells her gorgeous prints for children's rooms on Etsy and Madeit and also has a lovely website. Her illustrations have so much character and a real feeling of joy and wonder about them, which I think is great for children.

Helen recently bought two of my sleepy teddies and gave me some lovely feedback after receiving them. Although I know I should just get on with doing what I do, having positive feedback like that really is fantastic and makes the sometimes late nights and unsure moments all worth it.

Then there are other nice things, like Jen making one of my recipes, Fi following my sewing tip and thinking I'm clever (shh, don't tell her otherwise ;-) and also the map below that tells me that people from different places have joined me in my little world for a time.

Thank you everyone!

kcwc wrap up

I've really enjoyed participating in Elsie Marley's Kids Clothing Week Challenge, it's just the bit of incentive I needed to get my act together! And it's helped my sewing skills and confidence so much.

This 2nd 'Go To Dress' I am happy with.

I think mixing up the colours helps give it a bit of personality. I originally made the first dress with these long sleeves, but didn't like them so cut them off. Then when I saw the discarded sleeves sitting on the green fabric I could see it working as another dress.

I added the flower-ish type decoration to dress it up a bit and to link all the fabrics back together so it didn't look too disjointed. This was so much fun to make. I've come to realise that I really enjoy free-form design where I'm creating something without rules - I guess there's not the pressure for it to be perfect. Following a pattern is satisfying but making something up gives me the creative hit I need, even if it doesn't end up working! I cut long strips of each of the fabrics, sewed a single line of long stitches down the centre then gathered it. After this I just wound each one around on the front of the dress until I liked the look of it then machine sewed them on. I'm sure there must be a name for these - I've seen a couple around, and I'm sure I'll see lots more now that I'm consciously aware of them. I could have made this as a brooch so that it didn't get washed on the dress each time, but I knew that it would surely get misplaced or lost under the sofa, never to be seen again!

Also I had my first go at making leggings. I traced around some leggings we already had to make a pattern, then looked up online the thing about inserting one leg into the other to sew them up. It was so satisfying to demystify something I'd never considered sewing before! In the past I've wished I had more pairs of leggings for the girls because they are so useful, especially in these in-between seasons. So now I will definitely make some more.

The things I didn't get around to doing for the challenge were making the boy some shorts and also the '90 minute shirt' that I've been wanting to try for ages - one day! :-)

Monday, September 27, 2010

kcwc - the tinkering dress

I'm calling this the tinkering dress because it's one of those garments that I can tell I may never be finished with fiddling with. You know the sort... "if I just... add a bit of fabric at the bottom/trim the ruffles down/take it in etc, it will be right!" But you keep tinkering, never entirely happy.

I used the "Go To Dress" pattern from The Train to Crazy (hmm, I think I'm on that train too!). It is generously offered free of charge and was easy to follow. I think my desire to create a spring version of it without the long sleeves caused me problems and it all spiraled from there. I should have probably just made the standard version first before trying modifications. Well, that's what the logical part of my brain was trying to tell me but unfortunately the impulsive, impatient, excited side won! Anyway... after this one I made another dress that did work well. I'll show you later when I can get some half decent pics.

The fabric was a cherished piece I'd bought ages ago, a thick interlock of magenta pink with small black horses. I made it without the long sleeves, a double cap sleeve for a bit more 'flounce', and a pocket at the front to stop it looking too much like a nightie.

A benefit of making this dress is that it's definitely helped with my knit fabric sewing skills. I've learnt that I can actually use my old sewing machine to do a bit of top stitching. It doesn't have zig zag stitch - or anything but straight stitch - (it's an oldie but a goodie) so I was doubtful I could do any finishing apart from with my overlocker (serger). But now there's no stopping me!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Frustrations & forgetfulness

Day 4 of kcwc didn't go too well for me. I wanted to make a girl's dress in knit fabric and found a pattern I thought would work but I just was not happy with it at all. The construction went together well but the style just seemed all wrong... so in day 5 I've been pulling it apart and trying new things to get it to at least be wearable (hopefully show you tomorrow). The big girl thinks it's fine, but I couldn't take cringing every time she wears it! Of course I had to jump in and use one of my favourite pieces of fabric from my stash, instead of some boring thing to test it on first, which makes it even worse... ah... more speed, less haste.

Not to worry. I did finally finish off this cuff though. It's a present for a friend who's birthday I missed :-(

I used some of the fabric I got from Cloth a while ago and backed it with a lovely piece of orange wool felt. At the last minute I felt inspired to sew on a little birdy, which worked out as I wanted it to and was fun to do. I hope my friend likes it. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

kcwc: day three

My little boy has been happily wearing the slippers I make since he was a newborn but since he started walking a month or so ago I've felt he probably needs something more... so I bought him a pair of sandals before we went away. But after seeing him hobble around awkwardly each time he wore them I've decided to go back to the slippers for the time being.

The slippers don't provide a lot of protection for walking feet though, which is why I only normally make them big enough for babies up to about the age of 1. So I thought I'd design something more like a pre-walker. I bought an old leather skirt at my local op shop a while ago thinking I could experiment with cutting it up to use as soles for the baby slippers, so I used some for the outer soles and also sandwiched a piece of felt in between the 2 sole layers for a bit of extra padding.

For the outer I used some of the Prints Charming jersey I bought recently, and for the inside plain green knit fabric. Normally the slippers are fully reversible, but I didn't think it would work with these, hence the inside all soft. On the advice of my friend the sewing machine repairer I didn't use a leather needle, just a large one (size 18) and it sewed beautifully. They were a bit of a nightmare to turn inside out, but once done I was quite happy with them. Anyway, technical details aside, only time (and an adventurous boy) will tell though how useful they are.

Oh those chubby baby ankles... I could just eat them up :-)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

kcwc: day two

Yesterday for day 2 of the challenge I sewed some monkey pants that I'd cut out before we went away. This is the 3rd pair I've made for bub (1st pair here) and they're really a joy to make, so quick and easy.

Again I used the pattern that I made from an existing pair we had, but this time I thought I'd give them a fold-down waist like yoga pants so they'd be extra comfy for bub. Also both the fabrics are light weight jersey which I thought might not support a thick elastic band so well. I don't know if I'm not using the right elastic but my waists always seem to roll, even the 'no roll' elastic - grr! The pants are not perfect but are OK for at home loungey pants or maybe pyjamas.

And finally today I joined Flickr. I've enjoyed using it for ages as a source of inspiration and really wanted to join in for KCWC. If you love kids clothes and/or sewing I'd urge you to have a look at the pics in the group - they're amazingly inspiring!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Gone and back

We're back from our holiday! Short but sweet.

A few things I noted:
• It's impossible to get tired of watching sunsets on tropical islands
• Having a massage really is one of my very favourite things in the whole world
• Not cooking, cleaning, or doing the usual routine for a week is bliss
• Even 4 hours is a long time on a plane with 3 children under the age of 6
• Toddlers take their tantrums with them on holidays
• The above point is made considerably more bearable once a pina colada is consumed, preferably poolside (responsibly of course :-)

But overall we are extremely lucky to have such a lovely holiday away with our little brood.

Here are some quick holiday pics. I'm itching to get into my 'Kids Clothing Week Challenge' so will keep this short... a couple of holiday pic sets to come later in the week...

The 'Sophie tunic' comes in handy for some crab hunting and racing, not to mention a game of 'crocodile, crocodile', where the multi colours worked for her!

Who me, tantrums?? Surely all is forgiven with this cute pose, mama!

The hotel joined in my long lasting pink and green fad by supplying gorgeous green beach towels... hmm, thoughtful

Gotta get that craft fix in their somewhere! Little bag made by the very clever pool weaving man with skills passed down from his grandmother. Big girl collected shells in it until the customs man took it in Sydney.

What do you do when you're on holiday, the littlies are napping and you're desperate to 'make stuff'? Some origami crane making does the trick. Seen here nesting in another of the clever weaving man's baskets.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Holiday sewing over! Now for the holiday...

Phew... holiday sewing was officially over yesterday at lunchtime, and I've got to say I was glad to pack it all away! I did end up spending a few too many late nights sewing when I probably should have been doing other stuff... fun stuff like cleaning. But I really enjoyed it and I'm sure my sewing skills have improved. I learnt a lot from the patterns I made and it's given me confidence to do some things I thought I couldn't. Ican't wait to do some more - after a break!

Here's the list and what we ended up with:

For the big girl:
- 'Sophie tunic' kaftan to cover up from the sun yes
- messenger bag to carry her things on our adventures yes
- a pair of shorts "Can I have shorts please Mama? Shorts, a shirt and a bag". OK then. Does anyone have any ideas for girls shorts? She has been obsessed with skirts and dresses for so long that this has thrown me! no. improvised by cutting the legs off an old pair of jeans and hemming them with some spotty fabric
- ruffle top

For the little girl:
- ruffle top yes, too cute!
- popover dress "I want butterflies Mama, and spiders" Hmm, will have to see if I can find a fabric with butterflies and spiders - wish me luck! no, didn't get this done, sorry little girl, maybe for summer. I did find lots of pretty things to take in the girls clothes stash though :-)
- messenger bag yes

For the baby:
he doesn't really need anything but can't be left out, so:
- a sun hat no, we'll use the lovely one that Crafty Deb made him
- shorts/trousers monkey pants made - my new favourite!

plus a hat and a beach bag

- - - - - - -

Coincidentally, Elsie Marley is having another Kids Clothing Week Challenge starting very soon. I'm really keen to give it a go after my own little challenge, but this time to share with the KCWC community. Would you like to join me? Come on, you know you want to!

OK, we're off now for the much needed holiday! I'm hoping for lots of playing with the kids, swimming, playing games, reading, and a bit of relaxing too. I'll be back here some time next week :-)

Monday, September 13, 2010


When I was little I remember mum making she and I matching strapless sundresses. The fabric was a lightweight cotton with a large red and white rose print. There was elastic at the top and waist, the hem was just below the knee and there were splits up the sides. They obviously made a big impression on me. Skip forward probably about 30 years and I'm making my first matching (kinda) outfit with one of my girls.

My girl asked for a 'pretty top' when she saw her sister's the other day, saying that they needed matching tops to go to dinner in when we're on holiday - and how could I refuse that request :-). She was fascinated with the gathering and asked me how to do it (a little fellow sewist in the making maybe?). But I was out of the 'lala' fabric, and while I would have loved to whip out for some japanese echino double gauze, unfortunately something from the stash would have to do. She chose this lovely orange and red graphic print voile that I got from my favourite fabric shop a while ago. It is so soft that I knew it would work well on the floaty 'Ruffle top'.

I'd used the fabric earlier in the year to make a 'Shearwater Kaftan' from Make It Perfect, and loved the kaftan so much that I bought more fabric with a view to adapting the pattern to a dress and maybe cutting it on the bias to further the drapey quality.

So now she can take her pick and match her sister or me :-)

Ok, back to my packing!

The Sophie Tunic beach cover-up (with ladybirds)

Here's the 'Sophie tunic' that I finished on the weekend for the big girl. Her little sister has plenty of nice clothes suitable for the beach and sun but my big girl seems to have grown out of everything lately, as you do when you're little.

I had in mind a beautiful soft spotted fabric for this tunic but she had other ideas, but when she saw this fabric that I'd bought to make a skirt for the little girl she loved it. There are flowers, butterflies and ladybirds - what more could a girl want :-)? So the shirt's turned out a lot more cutesy than I'd intended, but she loves it, and that's the important thing. I tried to temper the busyness of the print with the contrasting trim and set the facing on the outside to make it a focus - the pattern for this top includes different sleeve lengths and facing inside or out, so you could get quite different looks from the one pattern.

The pattern itself was easy to understand and enjoyable to make and has a good level of finish so I feel I can just throw it into the washing machine and it won't uinravel (unlike some other things I've made!).

Final holiday sewing project to show later today hopefully!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pretty top with lala's

There's been a bit of rivalry here during 'holiday sewing' for mama-made items - whenever one of the girls has seen me making something that was not for them they'd ask what about theirs? And since she first saw the Ruffle Top pattern and fabric laying around, my little girl's favourite phrase has been "where's my pretty top with lala's (flowers)?" I was able to put her out of her misery this morning (after a late night!). Here it finally is...

When I saw this pattern I knew my little girl would love it - very girly and floaty, as is her want at the moment. And the contemporary floral voile works well with it. I bought the fabric years ago, just because I liked it. I find I'm never sorry when I do this because sooner or later that fabric you love finds the perfect project and turns into something you love :-)

The detail is just so cute on this top and I really enjoyed making it. It was hard to photograph it in a way that showed it properly so I'll endevour to get some good action shots of little girl on holiday to show off those gorgeous ruffles. If you like the style I'd urge you to make it. Hey, and the pattern's free (go to link above to download it)! Those Oliver+S people are so generous.

Now, the only problem is that the big girl loves it too and has said how much she'd really love one of her own "so we can wear them together when we go to dinner, Mama". Pass the matches for my eyelids please, someone. I can feel another late night coming on...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hat in a hurry

After nearly knackering my sewing machine the other day sewing through 8 thicknesses of heavy cotton with a fine needle (hmm) for the girls' bags, an emergency visit to the sewing centre was in order this morning. The lovely repair man is now my best friend after patiently sorting it out for me. With my holiday sewing list still going I could not have my old buddy Singer 201k (1956 model) give up on me now!

So, tail between my legs and armed with 4 new packets of needles in varying thicknesses (?), we headed home. While the boy slept and the little girl painted and drew I made this hat for myself. I do already have a sun hat, made last summer from this Amy Butler pattern, but it's in a really strong print that clashes with most others, and also I felt like a change.


After Crafty Deb made my boy a lovely little hat and t-shirt combo when he was born, I bought a copy of the pattern for the 'Lazy Day Hat' from the fabulous company Make it Perfect. There are 4 different sizes in the pattern, from a size that fits a small child up to a larger adult. I enjoyed making it, though speeding along trying to beat the clock in nap time is maybe not so wise. I love the fact that it's reversible, and as I've used a plain colour it should be pretty functional.

It's always more fun to wear someone else's hat than your own

And here's the groovy boy version from CD. Love the print.

Enjoy your weekend. I have a couple of patterns with fabric all cut and ready to sew (that's the tedious bit, right?), hopefully I'll show you over the weekend. Wish me luck :-)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Adventuring bags

The girls are both so excited about going on holiday. I wanted to make them a messenger style bag each that they could take onto the plane, and then on our adventures, with any little things they'd like to bring. So far the suggestions have been food and toys. Sounds good to me!

I made each bag with heavy cotton, lined them and added a flap at the front and velcro closing so that it's easy for little hands. No buckles or other fancy things, but hopefully these will do the trick.

And inspiring me today are these very healthy, strong weeds that we saw on the walk home from school. If only the things I plant would grow so well! I love the simplicity of their design. I'm so desperate to get a digital SLR with a great macro lense as I love doing close-up shots. Did you know that Flowerpress has a great couple of posts on photography? They're worth checking out.

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