Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Instant gifts

Well, almost instant...

Deb's recent post about handmade gifts made me think of these little pocket tissue holders that I made before my sewing fatigue kicked in.

When my big girl had a cold a while ago I decided to make her a cute little tissue holder (can't show you hers as she had it with her at school today when I took these shots). After doing a bit of blog surfing I decided to use this tutorial from Skip to my Lou and quickly found I could make several in a short space of time.

Then followed a stream of thoughts on matching tote bags, zip purses and tissue holders. I made myself one in one of my favourite Ikea fabrics (last photo, left) and then thought of what a cute little gift it would be just as a little filler or thank you. Not a proper gift, more just a little add-on. When making one specifically for someone I go through my scraps pile and try to choose a fabric/colour/pattern that I think suits them.

A nice touch is that as they are lined you can use a contrasting fabric to make it a bit more interesting. And on the one above I've added a strip of the inside fabric to the opening just for a bit of added interest.

And they're great for using up scraps of fabric, particularly if you are (attempting) stash busting ;-) This project would be a great project for a person who's new to sewing or when you're seeking a quick sewing fix (and when am I not!).

When I've handed these over to friends (I've made about 10 so far) I've added, jokingly, "it's toilet roll holders next!" as a dig at myself, but I kid you not, these are actually really useful, cute little things, and if you're a fabric nut like me, you get a bit of joy out of seeing a favourite bit of fabric come out of your bag and make an everyday item cute ;-)

Friday, May 27, 2011

This moment

I'm joining Soulemama (and many others) this week with the Friday ritual of 'this moment' - a moment from the week gone by. Happy weekend to you.

It's tiring work being a princess

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My creative space

In my creative space this week I've been printing some thank you cards to send to friends, using my artichoke stamp that I've used on fabric quite a bit.

This white on pearly blue print worked out well. The poor stamp is looking a bit worse for wear though, so I may have to carve a copy in more durable lino. I'm also keen to start some screen printing classes when I can organise it.

Anyway, it's been nice to leave the stitching behind for a little while and enjoy some printing.

Pop on over to "My Creative Space" in it's new home "Our Creative Spaces" to see more crafty goodness.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sewing fatigue

I think I'm all sewed out at the moment. This "Built by Wendy" dress (Simplicity 3835) is the last thing I worked on last week, and, frustrated with it, I decided to have a break. My neighbour commented recently that she noticed I'd been doing a bit of work in the evenings... I was too embarrassed by my sewing mania to admit that it was my hobby, not work! But it did get me thinking that yes, when I sew too much it begins to feel like work. Which defeats the purpose, right?

So the dress will have to wait to be finished. I loved doing the sleeve detail, for the underside I scraped together some of the last precious bits of the Alexander Henry print I love so much (I have a plan for the last little remaining bits ;-). And the main fabric is a lovely bluey-grey linen. But the overall fit is pretty blah to say the least. I need to re-do the zip, take it in a bit, possibly re-do the neckline and put some pockets in (I don't like the ones that come with the pattern).

And that all takes enthusiasm, which has sadly left me. I have been sewing an awful lot lately, almost every evening, planning in my head each day what I'll work on when the kids are in bed. Everything else has been a little, shall we say... neglected.

I can't blame my sewing fatigue on KCWC, the dress for my girl was the only thing I made. Though I did get a kick out of seeing it this morning as one of Dana's favourites on her mega-craft-blog Made :-)

There are plenty of garments I'd still love to sew at the moment. I'd love to make this fantastic kids jacket that Deb made for KCWC, and also her boy's frog pants... I'd also like to have another go at Simplicity 3835 doing the elastic neckline and sleeves but dress length.

But for now at least a sewing break is what I need, and hopefully I'll get my sewing mojo back! Do you get sewing fatigue?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Quick morning cheese & olive rolls

One night last week I went out with some girlfriends for a few birthday drinks, which was a few more than I am used to these days! We had a great time, lots of laughing and stories, perfect!

In the morning I was craving something savoury to eat and also needed something to give my big girl for her 'little lunch' at school. I knew I had some '5 minute dough' in the fridge but didn't feel like cinnamon or vegemite, so scouted around and found a jar of kalamata olives and decided to try making olive & cheese rolls. Here's what I did in case you'd like to try them:

Set the oven to 220c with oven shelf at the top and pizza stone in if you have one.

Using the basic recipe (I'd substituted 1 cup of plain flour for wholemeal to add a bit of texture and goodness), pull out a lump of dough from the fridge. Pull and stretch it (or you can use a rolling pin if you prefer) into a rough rectangle (I did about 30 x 20cm) and let it rest til it comes to room temperature or at least for a while.

Sprinkle liberally with tasty cheese and then scatter with deseeded olives.

Start rolling up from the long side, lifting and being careful not to push the filling out as you go.

Once it's all rolled, cut into about 3cm lengths with a serrated knife.

Place them cut side up onto some baking paper. Slide onto your pizza stone (or place onto a tray and put tray into the oven) and cook for about 10 minutes or until puffed up and starting to brown.

Highly recommended for a slightly sore head or for school snacks ;-)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Stash bustin' no.1: cot set

I've had this green and white cotton print from Ikea in the stash since I was pregnant with my boy. I initially made a baby wrap with it, which I didn't use and now gets put on teddies.

I had intended to make some trousers for him in it but I went off the idea. He doesn't really need any trousers at the moment anyway, but what he did need was a cover for the cot quilt that my mum gave us for him.

So I measured a rectangle to fit the quilt, cut a piece of white flanelette the same size to use as the backing, sewed up 3 sides and put some velcro on the 4th side for easy changes. Then I made a matching pillowcase with an envelope closure.

I wasn't expecting to like it that much, it was just serving a purpose, but I'm actually really pleased with how it looks, and also it's kick-started the Stash bustin' tally, yay! I have a piece of stripy Ikea fabric in the stash that would make another great set so I'm intending to make one in that too, for one on and one in the wash.

This is a happy squeal, by the way!

Have a lovely weekend friends.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Stash bustin'

Tidying my stash recently I realised that I've really got to reduce it. I'm always thinking that, lets face it, but this time I mean it (I do, I do, trust me ;-) One day we are going to have to move out of our 2 bedroom house and I don't want to take more than 4 plastic tubs of fabric and associated bits with us. At the moment it's bursting out of 5 (probably would be 6 but I don't want to admit it!). So that's about a third I want to clear.

Trying to work out strategies to get there I decided I needed a plan. Here we go:

1 • No more fabric buying! No excuses, and no thrifting either - it all adds up to volume!
2 • Put together a list of clothes and household items we need that I can make. Plenty of times I've made yet another something cute for the kids when really they just need plain leggings or something, or the oven mitts are threadbare.
3 • Don't be precious about fabric choice - if it's not entirely perfect, use it anyway. Near enough is good enough here!
4 • If there's any fabric lurking around that I don't particularly like, donate it to charity.
5 • Go through the scraps tub (yes, there's one whole tub devoted to this) and weed out any bits too small or useless looking.
6 • Finish projects lying around, or if I don't want to make them anymore, throw them out!
7 • No more pattern buying for now. As much as I'd love to (there's a Chinese jacket I'd love to make for winter), I have at least 3 patterns laying around that I haven't even tried yet.

To motivate me to actually carry this out I'm going to put a new "Stash bustin' tally" over there on the right. I'm hoping to see it grow in the next few months and report back each time I add something to it.

I'm quite excited about no. 2 - making the list of useful things to sew. It appeals to my organised side to reduce the stash and fulfill a need. Actually I do have a finished project that does exactly that, which prompted this post. I'll post it tomorrow. That way I'll feel like I'm on my way ;-)

Do you have any tips on stash busting for me? I'd love to hear.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A significant number

I've really procrastinated over this post. What angle should I take? What should I focus on? Do I want to talk about personal stuff or keep it light? So I'll just do a brain dump :-) I've got other stuff I want to post about and just get on with, but it would feel kind of wrong to skip past it and not mention the fact that I had my 40th birthday on the weekend.

We did all the usual birthday stuff: family time, cake and candles, lovely dinner with the Mr. It was all great. I think the stuck thing, though, is about 40 coinciding with entering a new phase of my life. The kids are out of the tiny baby stage and we're not planning on having any more. We're sleeping again! Yay! It's been a while. It's still a while til they're all in school but I need to start thinking about what I and we are going to do to move on in future. Exciting but daunting.

I'm working on my mid-life crisis wish list ;-) What do I want to do, see, be in the next decade. Of course I could just wing it, but I'm a lists girl, I need some focus... now hopefully it will come to me...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thoughts on motherhood: the kindergarchy

* Thank you for your lovely comments on the Sprout dress in the last post. It's a shame Blogger lost them in their technical problems, but I wanted to say how encouraging it is to hear ;-)

Listening to the local ABC radio station this week, a segment on "the craziness of 3 year olds" came on. Perfect. Just what I needed when feeling burnt out trying to (calmly) deal with the craziness in this house from one particular 3 year old.

I had such a laugh relating to stories people told about stubborn behaviour, quirkiness and colourful language. One woman mentioned her 3 year old asking, in a very quiet post office queue "Mum, when you were in jail..." (she'd never been in jail). And another, after noticing in the bath the difference between her own body and that of her brother's, asking anyone she met in the street "do you have a vagina?". They have a knack of embarrassing us. There's no social filter, it's just tell it how you see it!

Then something came up that got me thinking. A caller mentioned that his son insisted on wearing pink whenever he went out (yep, know that one), but the child also insisted that the father did too. And the father obliged. The announcer was obviously surprised by this compliance to the little darling's demands and remarked that the caller was living in a Kindergarchy where children rule the roost and adults do as they say.

I realised that slowly slowly I tend to let my 3 year old get away with more and then suddenly it's all out of control and I snap and try to pull back some control, yelling and getting annoyed at both of us. So it was a bit of a wakeup call (again) to try to be consistent and strong. Even though it's easier to give in when I'm tired or fed up, in the long run it doesn't work for us. I don't want to live in a kindergarchy!

But what I do feel much better about after listening to the segment is all the funny, irrational, bizarre, illogical 3 year old behaviour that I see every day.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

My creative space - Sprout dress

Pop on over to "My Creative Space" in it's new home "Our Creative Spaces" to see more crafty goodness.

I finally finished this dress for KCWC in my creative space this week.

So far my KCWC effort has been pretty average. We've had one illness or another in the last few days, so I haven't been able to put in as much time as I'd like. Each night when I tried to sew I would get called to soothe a small person, dadda just not cutting it in the comforting stakes apparently (unfortunately!). So even though all I wanted to do was sit and sew with some music on and snacks at hand, mostly I haven't been able to.

But I did snatch a bit of time here and there. One setback I had was when I tried the dress on the little girl and realised that I had cut a size too small. She's 3 years old, and generally a size 3, but going into a 4. Without thinking (or measuring) I cut a 3, then started thing that the sleeves looked quite thin.

As she's quite petite though I thought it would be OK. I had to tug it over her head, which she always hates, then it was a little tight under the arms. So I spent my hour yesterday (in about 10 minute increments while tending to sickies) with the seam ripper pulling out seams and then today re-sewing the seams right next to the overlocked edges to get maximum out of the seam allowance. I often find that just adjusting the seam allowance in a pattern is enough to make a difference. It fits better now, thank goodness. I couldn't bear it if that beautiful (and expensive!) fabric went to waste.

I loved the pattern, as I do the other Make It Perfect patterns I've tried, and would definitely recommend it. I was concerned at the start that my outer fabric may not have been heavy enough for winter (it's a quilting weight I think), but once it's combined with the inner dress it's bulky enough, I wouldn't go any heavier. Overall I found it a joy to sew, the only problem being my sizing fault.

And what do you think of my dodgy parenting practice in giving her a lollipop as a bribe (um, I mean incentive) to have her photo taken? Well, at least it matches the print on the dress ;-)

Lots more KCWC pics to be found here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

KCWC progress and plans

This is the second year I'm taking part in KCWC and this year my list is much smaller than last year. This is partly due to not wanting to burn myself out but also because I can't wait to get onto sewing the dress for myself that I cut out on Mothers Day (sorry kids!).

The one thing I did want to try this year is the Make it Perfect Sprout dress for my little girl. I'm using this beautiful Moda fabric, which she chose herself (with a little prompting ;-).

The dress is designed for cooler weather and is fully lined with flanelette. So essentially you make 2 separate dresses and sew them together. The inner dress seems like a nightie as the flanelette is so soft and snuggly. Hmm, sounds appealing - pyjamas as daywear. Wonder if I can adapt it to my size, hee hee.

I'm hoping to finish it tonight as she is very keen to wear it (hopefully she still will be when it's finished!). I also want to get onto the only other thing I'd really like to make, which is a vest or sleeveless jumper made from this fabric:

My mum gave it to me from her stash and I thought it would be very cute as a hoodie for my boy. He'd look a bit like a teddy bear in it, and any opportunity to make your kids look like a teddies is good, right? A sleeveless hooded vest something like this funky one from Trula Kids would be most useful so I'm going to try for that.

The other things we could use are:
• slippers for the boy
• cap for the boy
• leggings for the big girl
• skirts for the little girl

But I think my dress will win over any spare sewing time ;-)Link

Monday, May 9, 2011

Scenes from Mothers Day

Hello and happy Mothers Day for yesterday!

With the Mr back from his work trip I was treated to my traditional Mothers Day of lovely handmade cards and drawings, a voucher for a massage and facial (can't wait!) and lunch at my favourite vegetarian yum cha place Bodhi. The restaurant has all the seating outside in a lovely setting with a big park next door for the kids to play in...

They had leaf races...

While I lay in the beautiful warm sunshine looking up at the leafy city view...

and fabulous plants...

And then we went to eat...

Lovely dumplings...

And tofu 'money bags' to name just 2 dishes. I love the yum cha style of having lots of dishes presented for you to accept or decline, I guess it's the polar opposite to being the sole cook for the family day in and day out!

Then I got some precious time to myself. And of course I chose to work on some sewing. I cut out the pieces for a new dress with some of my favourite music playing. Ah, bliss!

- - - - - - - - - -

And I am very excited about starting my KCWC project tonight. The pattern is traced and the beautiful fabric is drying as I type. The challenge will be to drag myself away from it tonight and get some sleep as usual. Hopefully I'll have something to show you tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Therapeutic sewing

This week I've been solo parenting as the Mr is away in the US for work for a week and a half. On the whole we parent as a team, as I guess most couples do these days (thank goodness this is not the 60's!), so his presence is always missed greatly, even though the bulk of the day-to-day care is my 'job'. The kids also miss him a lot, the little girl doesn't have her head around the concept of time and distance yet and so has a particularly hard time working out why he can't just come home around bath time as he normally does.

So... I've been feeling the strain a bit. Tantrums, refusals to do things, pulling things off the supermarket shelves, "I don't like you"s etc just feel that bit harder when I know there's no-one to share things with at the end of the day and to take over when I'm feeling at the end of my tether. I try to keep my temper most of the time, but I've lost my patience more times than I'd like to in the last few days. One thing that has helped keep me sane though is sewing :-)

I was feeling that I desperately wanted time to do my own thing when my mum said to me in a phone call something like 'there seems to be so much pressure on mums to do things with the kids these days that you don't get to do anything of your own'. I think she's absolutely right. The whole 'overparenting' thing is another arguement in itself, which I find fascinating, but I won't go into here now. Then also I read a post by one of my favourite bloggers, Mary Nanna from Make it Smirk (woman of style and fabulous sewer, not to mention a great sense of humour). It resonated with me when Mary mentioned that sewing keeps her sane. And I hope she won't mind me quoting her, that, in times of stress "having something else to focus on, something enjoyable and useful, is very therapeutic". Indeed.

Since my 'copy cat skirt' has become one of my favourites it's been in the back of my mind to make one or two more A-line skirts in different fabrics, with perhaps a few little details here and there. So one night I got the skirt out and this time took the time to make up a pattern properly (well, my version of properly ;-). I traced it onto lightweight interfacing, which I love using for patterns as it grips to the fabric and doesn't tear like paper. Then I scribbled down a few steps in case I forget next time. My aim is to have the perfect A-line skirt pattern that I can whip up quickly, so I figured it was worth investing the time. And it was fun (nerd).

I wanted a really utilitarian skirt that I could chase the kids in, wipe my hands on etc (I'm a grot ;-) without worrying about it, so used a heavy-weight denim with a little stretch that my mum gave me from her stash over the holidays. I have plenty of it, which gave me that nice sense of freedom to just cut into it. And as I wanted it to go with patterned tops and possibly leggings I made it very plain, just binding the pocket openings and hem with a blue linen.

As time goes on and my sewing skills improve I'm finding that simple designs with a few nice little details (hopefully executed well!) is the way to go for me - fun to sew and nice to wear.

So hopefully this one will be as wearable as the copy cat skirt, and in any case, I made a few mistakes which meant I learned some more things along the way, which has got to be a good thing, right?

And most importantly, the process of making it got me out of the frustrated mother headspace for a little while, which is definitely a good thing.
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