Friday, 25 July 2014

E+M Pattern Shirt No.6 Review and Give-away!

Recently, I was lucky enough to be selected to test E+M’s newest pattern: Girl’s Shirt and Dress Pattern No.6. This pattern is designed for soft, stretchy knits – quick to make and comfy to wear.  I had a lot of fun with this one, making it three times already to try out some of many different options.  Top or dress?  Flutter sleeves or sleeveless? High-lo or straight hem?  Pin-tucks, gathers or pleats at the front bodice?  A-line or banded dress?  See?!  Now you know why there was no way I could stop at just one. I think Miss M needs a few of these dresses in time for summer, when we spend our days in bathers ducking in and out of the pool.  So easy to just throw over the bathers when we duck out. 

Of course, it’s too cold here right now to wear a tank-top, so I have plans to mash up this one with a long sleeved Ottobre Design pattern.  I also have a few half metre cuts of knit prints that I never got around to sewing up when she was actually short enough to get anything from a meagre half metre, so I plan to slice up my pattern for a solid upper and print lower to make use of those cute, but too short cuts.

The pattern is well-fitting, and computer drafted so it is easy to get great results.  The tutorial is super thorough, with clear photography at every step of the process and for every option.  E+M Patterns designs with beginners in mind, and in particular, designs so that you can still get a neat finish without an overlocker.  I used both an overlocker and a twin needle for all of mine though, and her instructions didn’t leave out more experienced sewers like myself either.  I really loved being a part of this testing group as the garment is well planned out, and Allison was so helpful, really listening to all of her testers to make sure her pattern was the best it could be.

Now for the give-away!  Allison has so kindly offered to give a copy of this new PDF pattern to one of my blog readers!  So if you’d love to get ready for the warmer months (or if you are in the northern hemisphere – make something for right now!), simply add a comment telling me your favourite kid-friendly activity on hot summer days.  I will pick a winner next Friday and announce it here.

If you’re keen to start straight away, don’t hold back – her pattern is on sale for today only (until 12pm Friday - Pacific Time).  Head on over to E+M Patterns and check it out!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

A break in the program...

For me, a goal to complete a project each month often means that is the only project I work on, lest I not finish in time.  However, after chatting to my cousin last Friday, I cleared the decks and started something new.

I am quite possibly the slowest crafter around, but when I heard the news, I gave myself a stretch target of designing, embroidering, cutting, piecing, quilting and binding a quilt (albeit bassinet sized) in a long weekend.  Sadly, my cousin's little nephew was grew his angel wings unexpectedly at just 13 days old.  All I could do was offer words of support, having lost my own gorgeous nephew at 7 months old, but also wanted to make a little memory quilt to send to his family.

His funeral is on Wednesday afternoon, and remembering the focal point my nephew's quilt was, on his coffin at the funeral, and later, displayed with his keepsakes until my sister was ready to put them away for safe keeping, I was hoping to get this one in the post on Tuesday for express delivery.  Unfortunately I am not going to make my self-imposed deadline, as I had a whole day out on Saturday with two kid's birthday parties, and we spent a good chunk of the public holiday on a family drive to look at some kittens (we are hoping to buy a little ragdoll kitten as a therapy cat for Master A).  When we got home, I had washing to catch up on, ready for school and work, and didn't set to start quilting until 9pm, with an early start at work for me today.

So rather than rush it, I admitted defeat, put it aside and got some much needed sleep.  It's been a while since I did any actual quilting, so I opted for safe, straight lines, but now I have given myself a few extra days, maybe I can attempt a little free-motion work in the background or outer border.

Here it is, laid out ready for pin basting.  I am doing well so far this year, trying not to buy new fabric if I can help it, so I can get the stash under control.  I can happily say this was all from stash, the only thing I purchased was the applique design, which is so sweet, I know I will use it again.  This is from Applique Download, where Michelle was really prompt to reply when I had trouble getting the design quick smart. It stitched out perfectly - I will definitely go back to her store.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

It's a finish

While I forgot to post in time for the February link up, I am proud to say that I did achieve my goal of a finished quilt top! 

I used this block tutorial, and added some 1" sashing since I mis-cut my triangles, and felt they needed some extra spacing.  I found that the sashing helped to keep the quilt top square too, since the background leaves the edges of the blocks cut on the bias and a tendency to stretch. 

I added a border of blue, since the matching quilt will also have a border, and I wanted to tie the two quilts together a bit, since they are both from different patterns.  The only fabric I purchased for this one, was the white background and blue border.  I am trying to make a dent in my scrap bin, but it didn't dent it quite as much as I had hoped, so there are definitely more scrap quilts on the cards for me this year!

My March goal will be to make a pieced backing (also from scraps), quilt and bind this quilt.  I am still not sure on the binding - the calmer blue/red stripe? Or the bright primaries? 

As a stretch goal, I hope to finish the top for the matching quilt, which has sat as a pile of blocks for quite a while!

Linking up to A Lovely Year of Finishes!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

WIP Wedsnesday

As you can see I am getting back on track with this long neglected blog, and now that I take Wednesdays off work to take Master A to his OT sessions, I also get to sneak a little time for me on a Wednesday afternoon, so a return to WIP Wednesday is in order!

Waiting for some white solid background are these little strippy triangles. After sorting through my fabric over the summer holidays, I realised how many scraps I have, and want to tackle a few different scrap busters this year, and this one caught my eye. It's so relaxing, and a little bit addictive.

I have decided to make the finished quilt top my goal for the month of February and am linking up with the "Lovely Year of Finishes".  After this new project, I will be focussing on long term WIPS to get out of the cupboard and into use!

I'd be in that sewing room making more blocks for this now if I wasn't so exhausted from speaking at "acquaintance night" at my children's school.  I shared a little about our beautiful boy, the challenges he faces living with ASD, and how he is transitioning back to mainstream school this year. So far the transition is going better than anticipated, his teacher is wonderfully supportive and open to learning more about how best to teach him, and the parents were very positive tonight, encouraged by what his allowances will also do for their children (his class helpers will help their kids if he is ok) and what he can teach them too. Here's to a positive and productive year ahead!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

My little arty kid

Miss M started school mid last year, and although I promised her a handmade art smock with her name on it in her second week of school, she was forced to wear Master A's blue one... with cars on it... And his name on it too!

At least I managed to fulfil half of my promise, as she did get her library bag straight away, with her name embroidered on it and an owl appliqué I bought specially for her, letting her choose whatever design she wanted from an etsy store.

So when the note came home about art smocks last week, I made sure I had one for her to take to school on Monday. I didn't want her to be without one so sent it along without having taken photos (just as her library bag went last year). But when I found it still in her bag tonight, and the power off since 5:30 this morning, I thought I could spare some time for a little photo shoot (no power makes it difficult to do much housework, other than a quick uniform hand wash before the light disappeared). One big problem I hadn't factored in was all the crazy wind we are having (the cause of many trees on roads and many houses without power for over 24hrs). So please excuse the blurry photos, and creases from being in her bag and no way to iron them out - not exactly what I had in mind!

I took a peasant dress pattern I had, made the neckline a bit higher on both front and back (to avoid paint on her collars), and snipped the back piece down the middle, which makes it easier to get on over clothes. I added a radius (using a small saucepan lid) to the centre back corners, and lengthened the cap sleeves to a 3/4 length to protect her sleeves without having them get in the way. I sewed the sleeves to the front and backs, then grabbed some bias binding I had, and bound the back opening and hem all in one before doing the elastic casing at the neckline. Unfortunately I didn't have enough red or white bias binding so used some navy I had, and hid it under the hem rather than encasing as planned. Lastly I pushed the elastic join into the neckline and secured the back pieces to the elastic at the back opening to stop the backs shifting. I'm very pleased with the fit, not so pleased that I forgot to centre her name in the grid when I did the embroidery and had to add her surname initial to balance it out. At least everyone will know it's definitely hers!

Monday, 3 February 2014

Some Quiltspiration

It's been a very long time since I have completed a quilt, I almost forgot how to do the binding! While I had aspirations to learn free motion quilting last year so that I could finish Miss M's big bed quilt, it was a tough year, and finding the time to practice was next to impossible.

It was Miss M's start to kindy year, then she jumped ahead to school by term 3. Master A was in a 12m Autism Intervention Program, half an hour south of us, while I work 45mins north of us, and to add to the logistical nightmare of a two hour trip between work, childcare or her new school, his school and home, Miss M gets car sick when she has to deal with a drive longer than 20mins, and his school was a rather hilly drive, meaning the poor girl was car sick at least twice a week. (So glad they are both together at the local school this year, even though Master A is transitioning back with half days).

With all that travelling, plus regular physio for her and OT for him, joey scouts for him, calisthenics for her (including her very first solo demonstrations!) and very early starts at work just so I could get home at a reasonable hour to get the kids fed, bathed and to bed on time, you can understand why all I could think of doing when the kids went to bed, was crashing on the pillow myself. (And just quietly, there were a few occasions when I fell asleep on Master A's bed while laying with him to teach him deep breathing and relaxation for sleep). 

When Andrew finally finished building Miss M's bed, I gave in and bought her a wool filled doona, realising that I hasn't going to get that quilt finished anytime soon. I took her bedding shopping, dressed the bed, and snapped a couple of photos to post on Facebook to show off my clever husband's skills, this being his second ever bed designing/building project. You can imagine how elated I was when the very talented Emma replied with a generous offer to quilt this one for me!

Her ability, passion and fearlessness with quilting, as well as her being the perfect mum to two gorgeous kids that are growing up into such wonderful little people, means I hold her on a high pedestal. To have her quilt Miss M's quilt was such an honour. When she asked me how I'd like it done, I didn't want to sound too demanding so asked for a simple meander or stipple. She told me that could get boring, so I gave her free reign, trusting her judgement completely. I asked if perhaps she could quilt a butterfly into it somewhere as Miss M loves them (did you spot the glow butterflies on her wall). The quilt top has some butterflies in some of the fabrics, and the backing is flowers and butterflies in white on cream, so it fits the quilt well too.

I was awestruck when Emma returned the quilt just before Christmas. She had exceeded all my expectations with a beautiful all-over feather design and not one, but a whole border of butterflies! (See how she did it here.) I am yet to come up with a name for this quilt, so am looking for some good ideas so that it can label it, giving full credit to Emma for her amazing work. Of course, it's not waiting any longer to get some appreciation on a bed. I switched the bedding in the middle of the night on Saturday after stitching down the last of the binding, so that Miss M could wake with a big surprise!

Unfortunately my sleep debt from the past week caught up with me and I slept in yesterday, missing her reaction. But when I asked her about it, she grinned and told me it was "cool". She then proceeded to play in her bedroom all day, finding toys she could play with on her bed with her beautiful new quilt. I think she likes it! Its a relief to have it done, as she often gets promised things but has to wait, because Master A needs so much of my time. She hardly complains (other than pushing his buttons occasionally when she gets frustrated or bored) and is always trying to help out and reminds him of things when he forgets or simply didn't take in an instruction. She deserves a special quilt on her bed, and Emma's quilting has made it extra special for her.

For me, the pleasure of finally finishing something gave me the quilting bug, and I found myself rummaging through my scrap bin starting a new one yesterday! I had forgotten how calming and relaxing I find piecing a quilt (sadly I can't say that about the actual quilting yet - that part winds me up into a bundle of nerves!). I am thoroughly enjoying this new one, that involves improv piecing with no stress, no points to match up, and lots of fun prints to sneak in along the way. Quilting (well at least piecing) is fabulous therapy!

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.