Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pattern ponderings

We had a couple of unseasonably warm days in Sydney last week and that's all it's taken to get me daydreaming of summer sewing patterns. There's not much structure to it really, just thoughts of lots of dresses...

Maybe the very popular Cambie dress from Sewaholic (though strictly only the A-line skirt version)

 Pic: Sewaholic

The 'Simone' from Victory patterns is very cute...

Pic: Victory

and I've wondered about their 'Chloe' too...

Pic: Victory

 Or maybe the Jamie Christina Mission Maxi?

Pic: Jamie Christina

And I'm planning to scour this list of independent pattern designers from A Good Wardrobe for further ideas.

How about you - any plans for new season sewing? Do you have any suggestions for dress patterns? I'd love to hear.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Reversible revelation

You know how sometimes something is staring you in the face but you can't see it? That happened to me recently when I was planning a new kids messenger bag for my shop.

I wanted to make a really bright fun bag, so I chose a cute multi coloured print and thought I'd go crazy with colour and do the inside in a multi coloured stripe...

just when I was thinking it was a shame to not see the inside so much I realised that if I could get the fastening right (I sewed a button on the outside and one on the inside) it would be reversible. I always fully line the bags, so in a sense they all are reversible anyway... dah!

 Also in my shop udate I've made a fun zoo print, purple lined bag with yellow ribbon detail...

and a sweet little red riding hood print with red lining and ribbon detail.

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With the Mr back from his work trip I was able to take a step away from parenting for a couple of hours today and enjoy a bit of time to myself (but I still love getting home to the munchkins :-). I hope you're getting a bit of down time this weekend too.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Amazing orange cake

In my creative space this week there are a heap of unfinished projects...  I'm solo parenting so I'm just grabbing bits of time here and there where possible (and trying not to go to bed too late!). I'm working on my big girl's costume for the Book Week parade, some stock for my shop and a new bag prototype  amongst other things. But one thing I have finished this week are these delicious cupcakes and I'd love to share the recipe with you.

I feel justified in naming this recipe 'Amazing orange cake' for several reasons:
1. It's allergy free
2. It doesn't taste like it's allergy free ;-)
3. It's quick & easy (honestly!), no mixer or fancy gadgets required, except maybe a zester
4. It's delicious!

I've seen the recipe around on a few different blogs and pinned this one recently, but apparently it originally come from The Joy of Cooking. I've made both a cake and cupcakes from the recipe so far and they're both great.

I made the cake version at my mum's house and she brought out a jar of preserved orange peel that she'd made recently. We poured some of the syrup over the hot cake and then sliced the peel and put it on the top. It finished it off beautifully and I got to bring home a jar of the peel (thanks mum!). If you are after a recipe, Abby from Things for boys has a lovely looking one here.

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Orange Cake

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda (bicarb soda)
1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon of orange zest, finely chopped

1 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed (about 2/3 oranges)
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/3 cup vegetable oil

In a mixing bowl combine all of the dry ingredients with a whisk.

Then in a seperate bowl or jug combine all of the wet ingredients and the zest. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.

Put into a small cake tin which has been lined with non-stick baking paper (this cake sticks if you don't use paper!). Cook in a moderate (180c) oven for around 25/30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Alternatively pour into cup cake cases and bake for around 15/20 minutes or til cooked.

Top with either an icing made of icing sugar mixed with a little orange juice til spreadable consistency, or drizzle with syrup from preserved orange peel and preserved or candied peel slices to finish. Enjoy!

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Your weekly dose of creative inspiration can be found over here.

Cakes creatively iced by my little girl :-)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Baby bag

After making myself several nappy (diaper) bags over the last few years, and using them til they fall apart, I consider I am well placed to design and make a useful one. So before my new little nephew was born I offered my services to my SIL and she accepted. Yay, another excuse to sew :-)
I gave her a choice of fabrics (via phone pics at fabric stores) and she chose this very cute bird print from Ikea. When I cut out the main panels I made sure I got some of the sweet and quite humorous little birds in prominent positions. For the lining I used a robust denim, as the main fabric is a mid weight and needed a bit of structure.
I based the design on this bag and gave it more rounded corners. The adjustable strap, magnetic snap, outside zipper pocket and various inside pockets are all things I find useful so I included those.
And, in what was the most fun aspect of this project, I made a matching change mat to keep in the bag for outings. I first made one a few bags ago and based it on the design from Lotta Jansdotter's book "Simple sewing for baby". It uses a layer of wadding in the middle and is topstitched around the perimeter. Even though I am definitely no quilter, occasionally I love to try a little kinda quilting type stitches and in this case I stitched diagonal lines through all the layers to hold them together well, then stitched around the  birds for a little extra detail. I finished the mat with some blue grosgrain ribbon and velcro. I also used the same ribbon on a pair of slippers and blanket that I made for bub. Ah, gotta love that feeling you get from a bit of coordination ;-)
Bags are something I never get sick of making and this was no exception. I hope my SIL uses it to death like I have mine, then I'll consider it's a job done well.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Thoughts on motherhood - newborns

We've been away for a few days meeting my gorgeous new little nephew. It's so lovely holding a newborn, there's no other feeling like it in the world, don't you think?

And even though holding him made me feel a little clucky (though we are definitely finished as far as babies are concerned :-) it also gave me flashbacks of what a tumultuous time that first year was for me with each baby. All those new things to learn and stress about and wonder if I was doing right or not. The crying, the lack of sleep, not knowing what to do on so many occasions and for so many issues was daunting to say the least. I so hope that my brother and sister in law have an easier time of early parenthood than we did, but I can't really do anything constructive to help them I guess, they just have to get through it like everyone else does. And who knows, they may have one of those miracle babies who sleeps all night, feeds well and is not fussy!

I hope that in years to come the tough memories recede and I can mainly recall the lovely positive stuff. Because obviously overall it's great, and I don't mean to sound ungrateful at all for the amazing children that I have. 

Look at that little hand, it's a miracle :-)

And on a crafty note, have a look at that beautiful little cardigan made by a friend of my mum's who also made us lots of goodies for our babies when they were born. Just lovely. And I enjoyed making him a pair of slippers and blanket with his name on (forgetting to take photos of course!). I also made my SIL a nappy (diaper) bag that I'll blog about this week.

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In non-baby goings on, I went to an amazing event the other night, the ABCD meet-up for art, design and craft bloggers, run by the ladies from Bondville and The Red Thread. It was outstanding! I came away later that night so full of thoughts and ideas that I couldn't get to sleep! So many issues that I'd been thinking about recently were discussed and I met so many interesting women. So thank you Steph and Lisa. I can't wait for the next one!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Nee-norr party

My creative space this week has been all about this little fella and his third birthday celebrations. He's all about 'nee-norr's lately (you know: ambulances, police cars, anything with a siren.. nee-norr nee-norr!) and specifically fire engines. So we had a fire engine party for him and his little buddies.

Looking for cake design inspiration I stumbled upon a great picture in a Donna Hay kids party cooking magazine. It looked perfect and not too difficult. The recipe suggested using cream cheese icing (which I was pleased coloured up to a very bright red ;-) and a pre-prepared fondant icing for the windscreen, which I hadn't tried before but loved - so white and smooth... although I did have a problem when half way through constructing it I turned to the cake to put the licorice on and saw the windscreen had slid down the front of the engine... nooo! Just when I was about to crumple into a ball at the thought of my melting cake and still lengthy list of 'to do's (with party goers arriving in just a couple of hours time) my lovely friend arrived to help out and things got back on track - phew!

To go with the theme I'd drawn a fire engine with his name on the number plate and used it for the party bags and also a game of 'pin the nee-norr on the burning house'. We set up a nee-norr station for when a bit of quiet play was in order (or not so quiet!) and cut out big shapes of flames and blue-tacked them to the wall, then added lots of red and yellow balloons.

And it was all worth it to see the look on his little face. Which I guess is why we crazy Gen X parents go through the enormous amount of prep required even for a small party.

So, here's to scrumptious 3 year old birthday boys and friends, big and small :-)

Joining in belatedly with these crafty folk.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Weekend venturing

Yesterday we set off in the morning to visit the Sydney Biennale at Cockatoo Island. But we almost didn't make it because of travel problems. What was meant to be a simple trip ended up consisting of 2 rides in the car, 2 trips on the light rail, 3 train rides and 2 ferry rides - all with the 3 kids and pram in tow. Phew! We almost abandoned the mission when it was all looking too hard but I'm so glad we didn't. Getting to experience such an amazing array of art installations with the kids was fantastic, and worth all the effort afterall. I think they're so lucky to be able to experience art in such diverse forms at a young age and we're lucky to see it through their eyes. Everything is exciting and new and fun. And we're all lucky to live in such a beautiful, vibrant city.

How was your weekend? Relaxing and easy going, or a bit crazy and eventful?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Printing and drop cloths

In my creative space this week I've got a ridiculous amount of projects going on simultaneously. It's fun but frustrating too, so I'm going to try to clear a couple soon. Amongst all the others (which I'll share soon) I've been squeezing in a bit of  time here and there to print a bit more of my lights design.
And planning on sewing it up with a piece of lovely ribbon and one of these zips. I get a kick out of just gazing at this pile of coordinating bits and pieces. Is it just me or do you love zips, ribbons etc too?

And also looking over at the emerging haphazard accidental design coming from my printing table drop cloth and thinking of maybe using it for something, inspired by Leslie's drop cloth art and also the various drop cloth fabric designs around. Maybe a new wallet like the one in  this tutorial. My current wallet is embarrassingly shabby, so this project should probably go to the top of the queue!

I hope you're having a creative week too, but with a bit less chaos than is happening here :-) Lots more to enjoy over here.

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