Friday, 22 August 2014

Owly fun

Every now and then I go on a knit bender.  My recent knit pattern testing for E+M Patterns (so far a top, dress, leggings and tank top) has had me itching for some new, fun, knit fabrics.  Unfortunately it pretty limited around here, but I decided to splurge one evening with some Crafty Mamas online shopping!  


 I have this sudden attachment to Lillestoff - but it is so expensive, especially when your kids aren't babies anymore and you need more than a 50cm cut for most things!  However during a flick through my Ottobre magazines (well, I was meant to be reorganising them but I got distracted!) I found a top that needed only a 50cm cut of print for the front, and the sleeves needed less than 50cm too.  I thought I could utilise a solid for the back (since they are easy enough to come by and not nearly as expensive).


So I quickly added a half a metre of these bright and funky Lillestoff owls plus the stripes to my cart and checked out before I could think twice about how much one t-shirt was going to cost me.  When I went to cut the top out, I was delighted that I could actually fit the back piece across the cut too!  


The pattern is number 28 from Ottobre 4/2012 (lots of cute knits in that one!).  And the fluff ball had to get involved in this shoot too...

Book week snuck up again!


 Of course it comes awfully quick when you're working 4 days a week and running around with OT appointments and such on the 5th.  Madelyn wanted to wear the Alice in Wonderland costume I made her last year, when she was 4 and the size 6 I made her seemed to have plenty of room for two years running... Well no, not really, she's well into a size 8 now, after a big winter growth spurt.

So a new costume idea had to be generated! Every time she goes up a reading level at school (which happens often, sometimes skipping a level or going up three weeks running!) we head off to the book shop and buy her a new book, just as we did with her big brother.  "The Amelia Jane Collection" was one such book, and a big favourite for my cheeky little girl.  When she was disappointed about her Alice costume being too small, the mention of Amelia made her giggle and grin, and I had to remind her that Amelia is good sometimes too, usually when the toys teach her a lesson, so she'd have to be Amelia on a good day!

Silly me though - I had thought this will be easy, red dress, white tee, cardboard blue button and some make-up.  Not so easy.  Miss GrowsTooMuch has a very bare wardrobe at present  and not a single red dress!  Luckily Rabbit Rabbit Creations came to the rescue with their Hummingbird Dress pattern.  It was soooo quick and easy, and by luck, I happened to walk into spotlight on a 30% off day and just about fell over this bolt of the perfect red floral fabric with a slight vintage style.  I loved making this easy and well fitting dress, and look forward to doing one with ruffles on the straps as a more fancy sundress for summer.  

The button (which I realised after the fact I drew the wrong type!) was simply a few layers of card, with a piece of watercolour paper stuck on top, and I had fun shading and blending with my little artist girl's aquarelles.  I made a couple of blue ties for her hair bows, and grabbed a pair of striped tights from her drawer (lots of black and white striped tops in shops right now but no tights!).  In my haste to start work by 8am (and the kids needing to be dropped off at OSCH) I forgot her stitching lines on her face, but she didn't notice, luckily!  She's normally a stickler for detail.

Austin was going to go as Joshua Dread, from teh second book where he gets his super hero suit, so I bought spandex in black red and grey, all set to make it the night before dress up day, when he suddenly decided he wanted to be Timmy Failure.  Timmy wears a white tee and black shorts and sneakers.  That's it.  Soooo easy!  But not good for a wet, gloomy 15C day.

I had a think, and came up with Ben from Gangster Granny - since there was very little time to organise a new outfit by then and no shops open!  (By the way, if you have an 8yr old, who hasn't read any David Walliams, get to it - the kid will be in stitches!). Thankfully he was happy with that (after lots of arguing about being Timmy).  So I quickly whipped up a mask and sack, pulled gloves from the dress up box and an easy outfit from the wardrobe.
  

I had the giggles dropping them off before school - he was acting the part perfectly - tiptoe walking with his knees bent exactly like on the cover, his right hand holding the sack (filled with polyfil) and his left hand reaching out twitchy fingers.  It was like the book cover came to life.  They had a fantastic day, and that is what counts!

Wedding bells...


So it's the middle of winter, my Mum was about to remarry (a small family wedding with the grand kids invited), and my daughter had grown considerably in just a month or two!  I knew I could manage to throw together an outfit for the little man who hasn't really grown in ages (who is still drowning in the size 8's I bought him at the end of summer in preparation for the cooler months!) but the girl hardly has anything in the wardrobe that fits her.  It's a good thing she's at school and wearing uniforms, as I can (just) manage to keep her clothed and warm for the weekends!


I had a quick look around the shops (hard to do with a boy who often screams at the idea of leaving the comfort of home, and is a nightmare to go clothes shopping with - those clothes racks are too tempting for him to go hide under!).  However it's really tricky to buy warm things in the middle of winter (the shops seem to change seasons to spring earlier every year!), and now that she is well into an 8 (sometimes a 9 or 10 due to a broad chest, but then they are too long) she is in the "teenager" category, which is often not suitable for my sweet (not so) little 5 year old girl.


So I did a call out in my favourite facebook group for inspiration - PDF Sales and Promotions.  The specs were: has to be comfy, formal but could be worn to a not quite so fancy event without looking over the top, warm,  and a pattern that goes up to at least 10 (since she keeps on growing and some 8's have small chest measurements).  The top contenders were both from My Childhood Treasures - the Elke dress, and the Colorblock Dress. The decision was tough but I went with the latter.  It was perfect!

The pattern is designed for sweater knits, but I chose good quality (read expensive!) Ponte instead to make it a little more fancy, and so it would fall nicely, lighter for twirling etc.  I worried afterward that perhaps I should have sized down to account for the thinner fabric but glad I didn't.  There was plenty of room for a long sleeved top underneath for the cool, wet day, without it looking too big, plus I know she'll get to wear it again before she grows out of it in the blink of an eye like she does!


I topped it off with a headband (just used a hand drafted pattern for a basic headband with elastic in the back) and fabric flower (free tutorial here).  The flower was meant to be made from t-shirt fabric but I used the leftover grey Ponte to make it match.  It stuck up a little bit more that I wanted but still looked cute.  I was going to edge the petals in silver glitter glue but forgot to buy it in my dash through Spotlight.

Then the night before the wedding I decided that Austy couldn't just wear any old shirt, but he had to match her.  Of course! This was my Mum's wedding we are talking about, they needed to look special!  So I sat down to sew him up a new long sleeved shirt (Lenni from Ottobre 6/12).  Let's just say I have learned my lesson - a shirt may be ambitious for one after work evening of sewing - especially when it has sleeve plackets!  I have made him short sleeved shirts before (and think I may have made him a long sleeved shirt years ago for his uncle's wedding but have no recollection of it - in my baby brained half asleep state!) but the sleeve plackets on this one drove me insane!  It took me an hour and a half just to work out the pictures. Once I got it though, it was an "ah ha!" moment and the second one took me 5 minutes. I had also regretted my decision to use a contrast top-stitching thread several times - it shows up wonky lines (from being tired) and took time to keep changing threads, but in the end I am glad I went with the charcoal stitching. It matched the buttons perfectly. I used just a plain shot cotton for the main fabric and some leftover charcoal spotted fabric from the baby quilt for the inside collar stand, sleeve cuffs and front placket.  Looks so cute with the top button undone and the contrast peeking through.


Then there was still the tie to make (a free download from Ottobre - designed for 5-7yr olds).  I whipped it up, rather rushed and bleary eyed as my bed was calling me, and finally hit the pillow at 4am!  The tie was a bit short, I had thought I could get away with it with my small 8yr old, but not quite.  The tension issues I was having in the early hours of the morning (too tired to fix - I just sewed it up anyway) meant that the tie twisted easily, but it still looked cute, and helped coordinate the two kids' outfits.

The kids were adorable, and it was well worth the late night (although I need to remember how long that shirt took so I don't put myself through that again!). We made it to the wedding on time (just!) and the kids were very well behaved through the long, catholic ceremony. A few people from my new Step-Dad's family thought they were twins! The wedding was an early one, with a lunch reception, which meant there was time for a much needed nap at the end of the day while the kids watched a movie next to me on the couch. Aaahhhh....

Thursday, 7 August 2014

And the winner is


Marimba!

Who wrote:
Afternoons lazing the hours away down at the lake :-) the kids love it, its relaxing and a great at to spend a sunny day

Congratulations - I hope you enjoy sewing up this top as much as I did.

I held open my drawing an extra day due to a slow response, giving the ladies who responded by the original close date an extra entry for fairness. Even then I didn't draw it on time because I was madly working on this.


This was where I was at on Saturday afternoon, with the baby shower it was for, just hours away! No, I didn't make my deadline, but took it anyway to show the new mum.

You see, the day I bought my fabrics, I brought them home, made the first cut and my phone buzzed, of course it was the announcement that my good friend's baby had decided to come early - just over 6w!

So he turned my plans upside down. Instead of whipping up an outfit the weekend before the baby shower, I whipped up a preemie outfit the following Friday night, took a quick snap and dropped it off at the hospital the next day hoping it would cheer the new mum up a little after she had to leave without him on the Wednesday.

(Patterns are from my extensive Ottobre Design collection- an itsy bitsy size  45cm!)

Then it was a drop everything kind of experience as I rushed on with the quilt, aiming to make it for the baby shower instead of the expected due date. Alas, I didn't get there, but I came close. Just a few lines of quilting to go before I can get that binding on.

And a final note: Apologies for such a very late post - blogger has been playing games with me and not letting me post pictures... and then I couldn't get into my account.  But I am here now.  Congrats again Marimba!

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!