Monday, July 30, 2012

Duck skirt

 On a trip to Spotlight a while ago my little girl stopped at a roll of corduroy printed with very bright ducks and begged me to make her a skirt with it. Even though it's not a print I'd normally buy, I figured she's a good sport when it comes to being dragged around a fabric shop (the curse of being the child of a sewing obsessed mother ;-), so I bought half a metre. But then it sat in my stash for a while as I couldn't quite get my head around just how I was going to approach those neon ducks!
Then it hit me that I probably just need to break up the print. She's still at that age where elastic waists are pretty useful, so I thought I'd make a flat fronted, elastic backed design. Using an existing skirt that fits, I cut a basic A-line shape for the front panel, a wide rectangle for the back. Then I used a bit of scrap dark denim to cut out some large contrasting pockets and finished them off by topstitching them with a thick yellow thread to match some of the ducks on the print.

It turned out OK, I'm still not sold on the print but she likes it, and it keeps her warm in this cold weather (worn here with her jeans, being a ballet dancer ;-), so that's all that matters really I guess.

Do you ever use fabric you're not that keen on? Or do you refuse to?

- - - -

Just as an aside, I recently discovered the folk band The Unthanks (been around for years, but I've obviously been living under a rock!). And now I'm addicted to "The Testimony of Patience Kershaw", a beautiful song about a young girl working in the mines of northern England in the mid 1800's. A little reminder for me to be thankful for what I have and the times I live in, methinks.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Coffee print iPad sleeve

After setting up and printing the Mr's birthday t-shirts I couldn't not print a piece of fabric, it would seem like a waste to just do one print. So I printed on some great coffee coloured linen and then decided I couldn't leave it to languish in the stash. So late the night before his birthday I made a sleeve for his much loved iPad.
I combined two great tutorials to get make the design I envisaged. Firstly this one for neat zipper ends. It means the seams are unfinished (rather than being tucked inside, as in other pouch methods), and you finish them with bias binding. I had a length of a lovely mustard coloured binding so I used that as a little feature. The pic below shows the sleeve inside out.
And then when I googled 'sewing zipper on a curve' I found this fabulous one at Design Sponge. I know we often sing the praises of tutorials, but honestly, if it wasn't this particular one, there would have been tears, I'm sure!

I ran the zipper around 2 sides (rather than just the top) and added a few of my own little features like extra padding and a zipper pull.

And so in the early hours of the morning it was finally finished and I went to bed tired but happy :-)

Lots of creative goodness to check out over at My Creative Space.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Coffee print t-shirts

Thank you for your comments and emails on my last post about social media. It's really interesting to hear how people use it and has given me a lot to think about.

It was the Mr's birthday yesterday and I made him a few homemade presents. You might be thinking 'of course you did', but actually he is normally spared  from the crafting frenzy outcomes around here.
Looking for inspiration on what to make, I looked at some facts:
1. The Mr is a self-confessed coffee nerd, I'm sure he won't mind me telling you :-) Obsessed.
2. He never seems to have enough t-shirts
So I thought I'd combine the two and design and screen print a 'homage to coffee' type themed t-shirt.

The design I settled on is a stylised illustration of the filter basket thingy (the thing that holds the coffee grounds as the water get filtered through).

Then I added a starburst or halo of coffee beans around it for a bit of fun. I bought 2 t-shirts to use (not trusting myself with 1 in case it went wrong) from American Apparel. I printed one, holding my breath - what a scarey thing it is to print straight onto the finished piece! So different to using a length of fabric where you can just print more.

And I also printed some coffee coloured linen for another little present which I'll show you later this week when I'm organised.

And then, as I find often happens with the creative process, suddenly I looked at the filter basket again in a different way. It looked like a person, complete with little ears :-) Adding a few coffee beans completed the picture. So I printed that one up too.

 I'm pretty happy with the outcome, and think they look like 'real' t-shirts, if you know what I mean!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Do you blog? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Pinterest?

What appeals to you in terms of social media? What do you love and what do you hate? I'd love to know...

My pick of the bunch is (obviously) blogging. I love the interaction with other bloggers, crafters and generally liked minded people out there across the world. It's a visual diary, it keeps me creatively on my toes and helps me get and stay inspired.

And I loooove Pinterest. It satisfies my bower bird tendencies but also my Virgo-like wish to be organised. Fantastic.

I like Instagram too. I wish I could remember to use it more, but I think that will come with time. I like the immediacy and the fact that it's a little visual snapshot of a moment in time.

I kinda tried Twitter once but didn't really get it, though I know many people love it. So that's a no at the moment.

And as for Facebook, well... I guess you could say I'm a bit Facebook phobic. It just never really appealed to me and the closest I got to it was when a friend bribed me to join so I could see pics of her kids and new house. So I did join, but so half heartedly that I might as well have not. However, opening my Etsy shop again has got me thinking about the fact that its all one big intertwined platform and that Facebook is such a big part of it that maybe I should take the plunge afterall. Because it's not worth putting things out there if noone can find them, right? Hmm.

Then there's the matter of how much time is spent online. I already get overload at times and have to turn off the gadgets for a bit to clear my head. So do I really need another one?? Because there are plenty of other things to be getting on with in the offline world...

Like this:

And this:

And this:  ;-)

But I guess, as in the rest of life, it's a matter of balance. If you're still with me, please let me know what you think and how you juggle it all. I need some tips!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Heat pack sleepy bears

Living in Sydney we enjoy pretty mild weather all year round, though in the middle of winter, as we are now, there's definitely a chill in the air. We don't get particularly low temperatures, but what seems to make it bad is that we're not that well equipped for it and houses are generally not well heated.

After a particularly cold night a couple of winters ago I decided to make my big girl a heat pack to take to bed at night. But not a plain rectangular one like I had (I've been a fan since my mum started making them years ago, and take one to bed each night :-). I designed and made a little teddy shape, embroidered on a face, stuffed it with rice and added a drop of lavendar oil to calm and soothe her.

Then after that first one I made many more over time in different fabrics, some embroidered with initials or names, some in corduroy, or fleece.

Recently a friend asked me to make one for her 3rd little girl (her 2 big girls have one each), and so I thought I'd also make some for my shop. This time I used cotton velveteen and I think it's my favourite ever... natural fibres, breathable and soft to touch.

Ahh, a little bit of comfort on a cold night ;-)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

TUTORIAL: Felt owl zip purse

Finally as promised here is a tutorial for the little owl purse I designed and made for my daughter's birthday a few months ago, seen here. It's a great little project for a gift or just for your little one, it uses up small pieces of felt and ribbon, and is fun to make. It makes a great little change purse or ear bud holder. My kids like to clip them onto their jackets or pockets when we go out.

Below is the tutorial and a link to a pdf pattern. Please do let me know if you try it out (and also if I've made any mistakes - I'm new to writing tutorials!).

You will need:
Felt: I'd recommend using a thick wool or wool blend felt as it's lovely to work with and durable. I used a beige colour for the body and feet, then a darker colour for the mask and bright feature colours for the crest.
Clip: I've used a swivel clip with a ring at one end, found it stationery stores. This clip allows you to attach the purse to a bag, backpack, school bag, pocket or anything you like. If you don't want to use a clip you could also use a split ring or just the loop of ribbon (see next note) if you prefer.
Ribbon: You will need a length of ribbon about 20cm (8") long in complimentary colour to the body felt, for the wings, and also a small piece of ribbon to loop through the clip - I used a different ribbon but you could use the same as the wing ribbon, about 5cm (2") long. 
Thread: I used a top stitching thread for the stitching as it's thicker and acts as a design feature, but ordinary thread would also work fine.

You could experiment with the colours of your felt, thread and ribbon or stick to the colour scheme here.

Step 1: Cut out all pieces of felt using pattern pieces from pdf attached. Take the front body piece and pin on the mask, beak and crest pieces, as shown below. The crest pieces should sit directly on top of each other, aligning at the top (straight) edge.
Step 2: Machine sew first around the mask and beak, sewing close to the edge. Then sew a straight line through the top of the crest, making sure all 3 pieces are caught in the process. Remember to back stitch to secure the ends.
Step 3: Create eyes for the owl - either embroider with embroidery floss (as shown in first picture above) or sew on buttons. You could also use a fabric pen to draw them on. See the end of the tutorial for ideas on sleepy/awake eyes*.

Step 4: Cut out rectangular opening on back body piece as marked on the pattern. Pin the zip into place as shown and sew right around the edge of the rectangle, just inside. Go slowly when you are going over the zipper, especially if you are using a metal one, so that it doesn't jar your machine.

Cut the excess off the zipper. Don't use your best sewing scissors as the zipper teeth will blunt the blades.
Step 5: Place the back body piece on your table so that the inside is facing up (as shown below). Put the feature ribbon through the ring of the clip, as shown, and pin it to the top of the body, where shown below. Now take your ribbon for the wings and cut it in half (each will be about 10cm (4") long). Loop it so that the ends come together as shown and pin them to the sides of the body. Then lastly take the felt feet and pin those to the base of the body.
Place the front body piece on top, creating a sandwich. Pin this together all around the body then sew all the way around, making sure you catch in all the elements (clip ribbon, both wings and both feet). You don't need to finish any of the edges in any way as felt doesn't fray - yay!
Trim off any excess felt around the edges of the body to neaten it and voila, you are done!

- - - - -
* The owl looks cute either awake or asleep, or even winking (one open one closed). Try using buttons or beads for open eyes.

And hey, it's Thursday! There is creativity galore awaiting you over here at My Creative Space.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Bubala Etsy shop re-open!

I've been working on building up some stock to re-open my little Etsy shop lately and finally it's done and open - woo hoo! It can be found over here, and with a little preview over there on the right in my sidebar (I love those things ;-)

It's almost 3 years since I shut up shop (pre blog), totally consumed with life with a newborn, an almost 2 year old and a 4 year old about to start school. I knew I would miss my shop, making things, interacting with the lovely customers. But with this new baby I knew not to bite off more than I could chew.

So here I am, having taken longer than I thought I would to get back to it, but re-joining the ranks of all those mums doing what they love, making things for others to enjoy and helping out their families in some capacity, and feeling a bit, well, useful and connected I guess. And it feels great to be channeling my crazy levels of creative energy into something useful that will hopefully be loved by someone else.

I'm planning on doing short runs of items that I love making. I have so many ideas for new products, it's just a matter of trying to decide which to concentrate on first! I'm starting with products for kids at the moment, but if I feel inspired to make things for grown-ups too I'll do it too.
So I'm starting with some favourites that I used to make for my shop (and numerous friends) previously - baby slippers, toys and accessories. With inspiration possibly from the fact that I am about have a new little nephew entering the world any time soon :-)
And also an item we use every day in our house, kids messenger bags.
I have made so many of these in the last few years. Early on I drafted a pattern that works well for us, and away I went, making them for friends as gifts and on request.

All made from fabrics that are bright and fun, as well as durable, being fun for kids and practical for their grown-ups :-)

Feel free to pop over and say hi!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Simplicity 2226 - breaking my rules

Do you have rules about garments that do or don't suit you? You know, like "I can't wear x style of trousers"? I am intrigued about where these self-governing rules come from. Are they based on logical assessments of our body shapes, the likes and dislikes of our mothers, friends etc, or maybe because a particular style is the domain of someone we know and so we should/shouldn't go there? Is it just a matter of what's in fashion at the time? Maybe its a mix of all of these things.

I think some of my rules make absolute sense, but others I feel I should challenge because there's no really logical reason for them - and gathered skirts ("No gathered skirts - too founcy, too girly, will make me look bottom heavy etc") was one of them. So I thought I'd challenge it with the popular Simplicity 2226.

I've loved so many versions of this (this one, this one and this one to name just a few!) that I just had to give it a go. And so when i found the pattern on sale a while ago (or did it 'find' me?? ;-) I thought I'd give it a go.
As everyone says, it was a pretty easy sew. And so it should be given that it's in the 'Learn to sew' category. Everything's pretty easy to follow. I did have a look at Anna's sew-along for some pointers, and that was useful. Like Anna I left off the hook & eye (those things drive me mad).

I used a mid blue linen that I'd bought on sale at The Fabric Warehouse. It's lovely to wear, though doesn't add much warmth in this weather. I was worried about using a heavy fabric though as I thought the gathers wouldn't sit very well.
 And, also like everyone else, my favourite feature of the pattern is the great pockets.

Time will tell as to whether I've struck "Mustn't wear gathered skirts" off my rules list, but at the moment I'm quite liking this... I think ;-)

I'm belatedly playing along with Our Creative Spaces again this week, find others here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The thrill of inspiration

I realised recently that my favourite part of the creative process is that heady moment when inspiration sparks.

I'd been wanting to design something new for the Handprinted Fabric Swap 2. Translucency had been in my thoughts constantly - that lovely thing that happens when you overprint colors and end up with new colors in between. I did all the prep: went to buy some base ink to mix and experiment with, did a bit of overprinting research online and thought about the fact that the design should consist of simple shapes so that the colour and translucency are the stars. But... I had to wait patiently for inspiration to strike... I find this stage of the creative process can be excruciating!

Then, all of a sudden one day...

I thought about circular paper garlands...

(picture in my head only but much like these ones, thank you Pinterest!)

And car lights in the dark...

And looked again at the string of hanging lanterns in my kids' room...

and I had the design there in my head. Phew! And this is what it translated to (complete with 'help' from my little studio junior ;-)...

How about you - do you find the process frustrating, exhilarating or a mix of both?
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