Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hot and Not

Thought I'd start doing Loobylu's Hot & Not every Sunday.

The weather
Apparently it's been the hottest November on record, for our part of the world. Thank goodness we got insulation finally installed, earlier this month! It doesn't stop the heat altogether, but does help some.

This cute fabric

I found it in the flat fats pile at Spotlight, from Manhattan Design Studios. I always think of red and this sort of beautiful green as "belonging" to my son - they're my favourite colours on him.

Book orders from Fishpond

I am acquiring the most amazing library of inspirational craft books. My favourites from the last haul are Zakka Sewing and Sock & Glove (yes, it's finally happened - I've succumbed to the allure of "Japanese" crafts).

Bellydance hafla
Next Saturday, wahoo! Got my tickets for myself and two friends, now to spend the week frantically making costumes!

The way the weather makes everyone cranky and tired
I hate the way we all snap at each other (even the baby is surly and prone to tantrums, lately).

The very sad state of my mint plant

Found the plant in this state, with a VERY fat, happy and fresh-breathed green caterpillar on it! Found another of the cheeky buggers on my basil, last night.

How I'm not getting enough sleep lately
I'm so tired by jpockele on flickr

Part heat, part stress, part teething baby. Of course, little sleep makes me more cranky and tired, boo!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Home-made Deodorant

It Looks Normal: Homemade Deodorant by bowena on flickrEarlier this year I'd tried sealing bi-carb soda in a jar with a few drops of lavender essential oil and leaving it a few months before using as an underarm deodorant. I solved the "powder on my clothes" problem by dusting myself straight after my morning shower, but when spring hit and I actually started getting warm, the "de" part stopped working so well.

So far as I know the "links to breast cancer" thing was linked to antiperspirant rather than deodorant (and thus I switched to deo roll-ons years ago) and unproven one way or the other, so it's not that which set me looking for alternatives to my Mum.
Rather, it's the fact that the cheap chemical scents some products use can set off my asthma and allergies (not to mention smelling rather nasty to my sensitive nose). The fact I really like my clothes. I don't like so much the crusty, whitish stains I get on them, under my arms, when I've sweated whilst wearing commercial deodorants, though. Plus, I love the idea of making my own stuff (what craftster doesn't?). Finally, to quote my friend Katie "And, commercialism".

So the comments raving about this new deodorant recipe at Smashed Peas and Carrots intrigued me. The ingredients were easy to find, at my local health food store and supermarket (only one I had trouble with was the coconut oil - I had to wait for the next store shipment to come in). I've been trying my new deodorant for the past week now - as luck would have it, including a miniature, 3-day heatwave, and you can add my voice to those singing its praises! Mommabear kindly gave me permission to repost this amazing recipe, so I can share it with you, and talk about how awesome and unstinky I feel whilst wearing it.

Natural Deodorant

2-3 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1/8 Cup Baking Soda
1/8 Cup Arrowroot Powder (can be replaced by Cornstarch)

Things go a bit easier if you combine the dry ingredients, then add the coconut oil. You can throw a few drops of essential oil in there for the smell, too - I added lemon, since it's antibacterial anyway. So my deodorant smells like lemon cream tea biscuits. (Whoops!) Luckily, the smell is quite subtle and dissipates fairly quickly, unlike commercial deodorants.
Since it's summer I also took Mommabear's suggestion and keep mine in the fridge, which keeps it nice and hard in bar form (the heat from my skin is enough to soften it and melt it in, without it smearing all over my hands).

I really don't think I'll ever buy another commercial deodorant, I'm so blown away by how awesome this recipe is! I would recommend you rush out and try it right now.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Matching kimonos

Oh, Habitual "Simple" Kimono, how I love to hate and hate to love you!

These two are a matching set for a friend's two sons - the smallest of whom is only three weeks old, and as big as my munchkin was at birth. They're the fourth and fifth versions of this pattern that I've made, and I've come to the point where I've realised two things;
  1. Whilst binding on the edges looks really awesome, it's nasty to sew without pressing and being very, very careful you've got it matched up on either side of the fabric. Inevitably, I end up missing the edge on the underside. (is there some trick I have not discovered?)

  2. My son is just too tiny for this massive neckline! Whilst a size may fit him length-wise, the neck gapes really badly. The kimono I made him at six months sits strangely along the bottom as it tries to reach round his body, but the neck fits perfectly, as an example.

So I think some pattern tweaking is in order, when I next feel the need to make another of these (and I do love them; it's so hard to find interesting, creative clothing for little boys that doesn't consist of insane amounts of tailoring and I'm not about to try getting an 18 month old to stand still for a fitting!). necessity is the mother of invention, after all.

Case in point; I didn't have enough of the gorgeous forest green or pale blue bindings to completely do each of the kimonos, so I took a multicoloured approach. Tiny boy's kimono is trimmed in a darker blue than the background of the fabric, with brown and green for the side-ties that matches some of the cars in the print. Big boy's kimono is trimmed in the forest green his mother and I both love on our boys, with orange side-ties, that again goes with the print on the fabric - this one's not an exact match, but less disparity than the photos suggest. My camera and the light levels just were not happy with me this morning!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Note to my friends with Very Small People

One ought never comment that you need new clothes for your child in my hearing, when I have a gap in my scheduled sewing projects.

Well, unless you want several new pairs of shorts for said Small People!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sneak Peek

This is a project I've been steadily working on for a friend, the past few weeks. There's been lots of love, time and care taken with it. It went to my friend today - and as I told her "I don't hem chiffon for just anyone!".

Any guesses as to what it is?

(To be revealed in December!)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Finished for Mirabel!

I finished my fourth softie for Mirabel, today!
Four was the magic number I committed myself to, so I'm feeling pretty happy to have made it.
This is another go at the Blinking Flights pattern, of course. Something masculine, to go with the very femme florals of the last softie. Plus, I had visions of using the supercool green and white stripes from my frilly hat in a bug.

I lurve this guy's pink mohawk and his cool older brother air (okay, so I'm guessing, being the eldest in my family!). His little smirk looks very laid-back and relaxed, to my mind. (And how awesome is his embroidered nose ring?)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chocolate and oranges

I had this sudden craving for these two flavours together, at the beginning of this week, so purchased three likely looking oranges (and checked our cocoa stores. As always, the level was high. Ha!).

I used this recipe for chocolate orange sticks, as it looked to be the easiest. It was still a special kind of hell (that took hours) on account of how fiddly it was, and I have a new-found respect for my mother's efforts each Christmas as I was growing up.

I also decided to try my hand at chocolate-orange cake, using the juice of my oranges. I altered the chocolate orange muffin recipe over here by substituting one of the eggs with about 180mLs of orange juice (all of what my oranges gave up). I ended up with a kind of fudge-consistency sweet and sharp cake thing. It is very tasty, but I think next time I'll use less juice.

Now, does anyone know what I can do with 2/3 cup sugar syrup and 4 litres of orange water?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sew Simple Shrug

I made myself one of these from Sew Hip issue 5. My friend Jodie was very taken with it, and asked me to get her some nice fabric at the Stitches & Craft Show, for her own version - which we finally both found the time to make today!

She hasn't sewn since she was fourteen, and corralled into a home ec classroom with a bunch of machines from the age of dinosaurs. Did anyone have a good experience with those metallic behemoths? All I remember mine doing was constantly eating its own bobbin, making snarls I simply could not unravel, that often meant my project had to be cut up, in order to pry the fabric from the machine's maw.
Like me, Jodie says she has spent years thinking she hates sewing and sewing machines, because of those early experiences.

But I promised this was a REALLY easy project, and the results would be fabulous (especially with these fabrics, yum!). So I soothed my friend's nervousness, demonstrated how lovely my sleek, modern machine is, and watched carefully as she sewed her first machine project since the twenty years ago apron.

I feel so cheerful about the result; look at that big smile! She did it! And it looks fab. I'm so proud of her.

Jodie is now the second friend I have introduced to the joys of sewing useful things with the aid of a machine. My first 'student' made her daughter a bag with my help, and got her own sewing machine for her last birthday. I'm really looking forward to seeing what she makes.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Summery top

I never feel as motivated to make things for myself as for others, but after making my Bug with this bright flowered fabric, I really wanted to make something for myself out of it - and then I could not resist this sweet pattern over at Sew Mama, Sew. I was a bit nervous because I'm built rather differently to the models featured, so tunics like this tend to look rather maternity when I put them on. But I left off the ruffle (think Miss Piggy - and not in a good way), and I'm actually happier with the result than I expected.

Seriously, how can you resist this spring-like fabric combo?

(And yes, in case you're wondering, that IS a row of white around the bottom of the top that you can see. Hack and Slash Seamster that I am, I used the selvedge as my bottom edge. Lazy is the new cool, didn't you know?)

Blue Hippo Sublime

A photo of a blue hippo stuffie with pink and blue eyes and a startled expression. Which is wholly accidental. Though kind of cute.I can safely say I feel I'm really getting the hang of this hippo pattern (finally!), though each new incarnation makes me feel even sorrier for the hippos that came before. I'm noticing less tendency to sew folds into their faces, and their bottoms are becoming plumper and more rounded (which, let's face it, is what you want in a hippo behind. Skinny derrieres are Just Not Hippo!). As my first hippo bum was weirdly creased and folded (and I even left off the tail by accident) I hope the other adults with whom I share my home will forgive the fact that I waxed lyrical over my latest hippo behind and don't think I'm too weird for very long.
Best of all, I was able to whip up the latest hippo in a few hours, over a single Friday evening. Yep, us parents of toddlers know how to party!
A photo of three stuffed hippo bottoms, one on top of two others. the top one is folded and creased weirdly. the second is round but not completely filled out, the third (which is blue, rather than pink like the other two) is round and cushy.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bug Softie

Full-length shot of my finished bug softie on my couch. Stripes, antennae, six rounded nubs for arms and a cute girly face with yellow hair and a hot pink pink flower in it
I've been a bit slack with the blogging lately, and that's partially because I've been a bit slack with the sewing. To break my sewing drought I decided I needed to add to the Softies I would be sending away for Mirabel (because one is pathetic) and I wanted to do something fun, that wouldn't break my brain. So I picked up the Blinking Flights bug pattern and some scraps of bright, cheerful fabric. It only took me two nights to whip up this island bug.
(Why are my creations always just that bit wonky? Let's pretend, and say it was their Creatrix deliberately imbuing them with some of herself, shall we?)

Close shot of the finished bug softie's face. It's a bit wonky, but I like the way her blue eyes look to her left, and her half-smile sits that way tooI'm not really a pattern follower, more what I call "A Hack and Slash Seamster", but the pattern plus knowing what the end result should look like made this a super easy softie to make. I didn't trim the seams round the curve of the head, as advised, and I think it shows, unfortunately, and the antennae were actually quite tricky, because they're so slim and require quite a precise control of your machine. But otherwise, this was a really easy, FUN pattern to make (and I felt very inspired by the bright colours and fabrics used by their original creator).

I'm now also kind of in love with the main, flower print fabric I used, and want to make myself a clothing item from it - and I think I've found the perfect pattern.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I often tell people I have black thumbs and they laugh and tell me about how they have trouble with plants too. So I have to explain that I'm actually not indulging in my usual hyperbole (very much); not only have I managed, over the past fifteen years or so, to kill off assorted African violets, roses and sweet little perennials. I have managed to kill off an heretofore thriving peppermint plant. Those things don't go down easy. I once killed a cactus. To date, my thumbs have been the gardener's equivalent of a tactical nuclear strike.

So it's with some trepidation and excitement that I bought these three lovely herbs today. When we lived in a house (by which I mean "when we three humans who existed prior to the Tiny Tyrant's arrival into the world shared space with the small army of cockroaches that generations of Uni students had encouraged to flourish in the foundations of our rental") we managed to keep an herb garden of sorts going. My efforts amounted to transferring the potted plant into a flowerbed and conducting a program of benign neglect until pregnancy made even perfunctory attempts at weed-culling rather difficult, and all was left to grow as it willed.
Now that we're in a townhouse though, I'm going to have to remember to regularly water and pick back my rosemary, mint and basil. Fingers crossed?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Interior Design Personality Quiz

This made me giggle a bit, because my favourite tones for clothes for myself and design are almost always jewel tones, and my partner's are earth tones! You can take the quiz for yourself here.