Thursday, August 26, 2010

Green voile Citronille top

I found Citronille via Amanda at Soulemama a few weeks ago, and ordered a few of their delicious patterns. I fell totally in love with a square-necked smock shirt and a pointy-hooded coat that both boasted simple construction methods, and picked up a third hippy-style shirt that looked like something my partner would wear in a larger size.
Whilst the shipping wasn't cheap it WAS fast, and the patterns themselves were very inexpensive and covered a wide range of sizes - not to mention beautiful and unusual compared to the poor selection available without flounces or skirts in Australia.

After whipping up a toile in calico I thought the first shirt pattern looked a bit wide and short for my long, skinny pixie (who refused to try it on for me to double check after eyeballing) so I attempted to adjust it when it came time to cut out my actual first attempt.

Lesson learned; don't eyeball changes. Especially ones that make it difficult for the shoulders to fit a garment. I ended up having to add triangular gores back into the side-seams, thus rendering my years in the Medieval Society useful in modern life, after all!

I used a gorgeous green voile that snagged with very little provocation, and was originally another Medieval Society garment. It seems to be my month for remaking old garments into wildly new ones.

And then Pixieface wouldn't try the actual garment on until I'd added the buttons (which were then cause for excitement, celebration, and definite donning). I found these two delicious little red apple buttons at a church market stall and bought them for twenty cents, knowing I'd find the right project sometime.

Unfortunately, Two seems to be a difficult age for getting nice shots of this child of mine. A combination of camera-shy and inability to stand still made these about the best I could do.
BUT the final verdict is that I will be making one of these in every colour, for the warmer months. With longer sleeves and body length than suggested by the pattern (but not narrower!). Just too gorgeous for words. And so very European looking!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fatuous reasons to become a Mum

To show somebody how fun it can be to step in a puddle of paint, feel it ooze between your toes, and then march across paper, leaving a trail behind you, feeling it stick to your feet and giggling at the mess.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Recently seen on my sewing machine

A grey vest, lined in maroon, with three large black buttons reaching from the neck to the bottom of what would be the wearer's chest. It is hanging in front of a brick wall.Early this year I found a sleeveless fleece vest for my son's wardrobe. It's been really useful on cooler days this winter, when we've gone out to playgrounds where it's very cool when you stand still, but running around like a two year old makes it a bit warm for a jumper.
I didn't quite trust myself to fit a zip to stretchy fleece fabric so planned to do a double-breasted button thing for my homemade version. This turned out not to be as practical as I'd hoped, since a sudden growth spurt meant he was filling out his clothes an inch or two more than when I first began cutting. So the resulting garment looks slightly lopsided, but was still a big hit - the minute I added the buttons and rediscovered my machine's buttonholing capabilities that is (he didn't want a bar of it, pre-buttons).

The outside is a gorgeous grey minky fleece, and I cut around the fading on an old cotton garment for the lining, that was retired from the Medieval Society when I was in charge of the loaner gear (so the local group heads offered me the spoils!). I patterned it off a (slightly A-line) shirt, allowing a few centimetres extra on each seam, so a few layers could be comfortably worn beneath. (To do this, turn your garment inside out, pull the sleeves inside the body of the garment and lay it as flat as you can. Potential tute to follow. Eventually.)

I think next time I'll try finishing the edges with a contrasting rib knit and not bother lining it. I'd also curve the front edges rather than leaving them as right angles, one of which inevitably flips up.
But not bad for a first go. With the skivvy and embroidered flares the Tiny Tyrant was definitely channelling the 70s the other day!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bag of Swag

Went to visit the Out-laws last week, and came home with these lovelies, which my Mother-Out-Law was planning to toss out. They're all genuinely vintage, from the 70s or 80s (and gosh, doesn't that make ME feel old)! Most of them have a little fading or wear, but if I make them into Small People things that will be easy enough to avoid. I'm really chuffed, even though I'm meant to be cutting down the amount of stuff in my craft room - I twisted my ankle in there this morning, when I tripped over some of the piles.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Food Pr0n

Round here, winter is for baking!
Here's a peek at some of the baking I've been doing lately, because when stuff goes right in the kitchen it's worth celebrating, for me.

First, a chocolate zucchini cupcake with peppermint and choc-fudge icing. It's got vegetables in, it's healthy, right? Without the icing it's actually been a huge toddler hit and I'll be doing them again.

And here are some Very Naughty gingerbread men that I sent to my sister, after a silly discussion about me mailing her "hot naked men". Well, except for the one of them who got shy and donned a posing pouch!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Toddler Tuesday: pants from bunny rug

A tiny newborn wrapped in a saffron blanket, face pink & creased, mouth open, head tilted up to the top of the photoI enlisted the Tiny Tyrant's help in making him some new PJ pants (which he needed desperately, since the past month's growth spurt has added an extra two inches to his legs, seemingly).
Digging through my stash of flannelette material lead to the discovery of the rug we wrapped him in for his first Mama-Baby photos, the first day we were home from the hospital. Since he was in the NICU for a week he was already eight days old. I remember asking my partner to take the two photos, so I'd have something to send to the family; apart from a fuzzy, long distance view of the plastic crib he was in, all our photos so far had included wires, heat lamps and machines that went PING.
Finding that blanket made me feel very nostalgic, and I remembered how exhausted, relieved and overjoyed I was that I finally had him home with my partner and I, and we had the opportunity to begin enjoying being the new family that we all were, together.

A toddler standing in front of a babygate or fence, side on to the camera. his face is turned towards the viewer, his eyes are closed and his face is screwed up in a similar expression to the newborn above. he wears a long-sleeved, white top and a long pair of loose pants of the same material as the blanket the newborn is wrapped in.Tyrant seemed to be drawn to it too, because it was the material he chose to have his new pants made from.
I've been getting him a bit more involved in my sewing, lately; he likes to sit on my lap when I'm not sewing fiddly things, and watch the fabric move through the machine (thank goodness he's such a careful child). He works the presser foot for me, and I pause to let him pull pins out and stick them on my magnetic mushroom, which he loves to do.
So we sewed up his new pants in around fifteen minutes, and for the first night in some time he wanted to get into his pyjamas early!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thrifty Thursday: Rags for the Bag

In case you haven't yet realised it, I am seriously enamoured of clothes. Not "fashion" as in what the magazines are telling me the designers like right now, but fashion; the great, enormous scale of designs, colours, fabrics and accessories human beings have used in all cultures, for centuries, to decorate and protect themselves.

Clothes are amazing, and I'm not sure I could ever get tired of thinking about and playing with ideas for ways to be dressed. Sure, I have my favourite eras and styles, my own tastes and preferences, but I still enjoy mixing it up and thinking about others and what might suit or excite them, too.

Clothing drive-by by Esther17 on flickr; a white business shirt on a ahnger, dirty, torn and stained.This is why I never thought I would ever meet my match. Enter my partner; a man who loves thrift shopping even more than me, who- when I met him - had more clothes than me!
Part of this is becase he loves the thrill of finding that perfect item that suits as much as I do. But some of it is certainly also because he's gotten emotionally attached to a lot of his clothes. A bit like those supposed women who hang onto that dress for "when I'm a size 10 again", he had pants whose waistband would now just close around a single thigh still lurking in the depths of his wardrobe.
That he'd last worn twenty years ago.
That had a bleach stain on one leg from when his Mum had dropped it, in the laundry.

Because of the emotional investment in his clothes, I've been using a mixture of gentle and more aggressive tactics to get rid of some of his dinosaurs (my own wardrobe tends to get purged of the unworn and unfit every few years).
The bane of my existence has actually turned out to be the Terribly Comfortable (Moth-Eaten) Hole Transportation System, the sort of shirt that's hanging together with goodwill and a few bits of thread and fond memories.
I'm not denying that you need a shirt or two like this in your wardrobe. For the memories, for yardwork, for moving furniture or to spatter in red paint to wear as a zombie costume for a birthday party (no, really). But a dozen or more?
So I've been ditching them, slowly, taking what I can use again and doing so, but trying to be really ruthless if the fabric is too worn or there are just too many holes.

Here are a couple of things I do when I find a fresh victim shirt:
  • Cut off (and keep)the buttons. These are always reusable on sewn garments or items that are missing one. They make great game counters or eyes for toys. Toddlers, kids AND adults love playing with and arranging buttons (it can be v therapeutic and soothing). Plus, they're usually plastic and thus most likely the last thing to break down at the tip.
    buttons by Laineys Repertoire on flickr
  • Assess the sleeves. Sleeves make nifty hats for small babies, and two sewn together (with a bit of shaping and elastic) can make baby shorts or bloomers.
    Small, drooly baby wearing a viking-style horned hat made form soft materials, in navy and cream.
    This totally used to be two old t-shirts.

  • Check out the rest of the shirt for patches not too worn or holey. Small squares and rectanges are practical as pieces for baby and toddler tunics, pants and shirts or for cleaning cloths - worn clothes are usually soft and especially good for glass cleaning.
    Small boy wearing green tunic with apple print over stripey, long-sleeves shirt, kneels on the floor, staring solemnly at the camera.

So those are my tips for Hol(e)y Old Relics of the Wardrobe. Got any of your own?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Two Year Old Backpacks

Yesterday my Small Person turned 2.
We had a Ladybugs' Picnic at the local Botanic Gardens, inviting all his friends to wear black and red and join us near the really cool playground there.

I've been prepping like mad, and can now totally understand other parents' love for pay-n-play padded spaces and professionally catered events! I tried not to pressure myself too much (hence the low-key theme), figuring two year olds would just love the chance to run around and have fun, but the one thing I did pull out all the stops for were the party bags. I'm not super-comfortable with handing a group of very small people a bunch of sugar and chemicals to take home and smear all over their rooms, and I really wanted not to give away a heap of disposable plastic junk that would go into land-fill in no time at all.
Also, the food issue was especially important for me since not only does the birthday boy have some food sensitivity issues, but quite a few of his friends do, as well as having all-out allergies.

So instead of traditional party bags I found vegbee's toddler backpack over at her indietutes blog. It was the perfect size for our toddler invitees, and the perfect shape for bug bags!

Inside each bag was a bubble-blowing kit (so I didn't totally escape the cheap plastic - at least it's reusable), a red ribbon on a stick (made at home with chopsticks and lengths of ribbon from Spotlight) and two home-made lavender bath fizzies (with printed instructions designed by me).

Long story short the bags and contents were a bit of a hit - far more than my mediocre attempt at a birthday cake (thank goodness I have lots of years to perfect this art!) and now I have to go figure out my neglected Paypal account, to donate to vegbee.
And after all my stressing and work we all had a lovely time and quite a few of our guests decided to wear their new backpacks before they even got home.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Easter Bilby visits

As bunnies are a really terrible pest here in Australia, and the Wicked Fairy is very aware of this as his parents own a farm, we have agreed that the Easter Bilby (whose chocolate presence can be seen on supermarket shelves alongside his European brethren) will be visiting the Tiny Tyrant each year.

This year the Bilby brought a few handmade soy chocolate eggs and something else - bunny skittles, to practice "kick" at with a ball! I knew these skittles would be a hit before I even began them. My prototype was March's Toy Society item, and the Tyrant pounced on the toy and began gleefully carrying and tossing it about the moment it was done (he did the same thing with the purple hippo. It makes me almost sorry to give them away).

The bunnies are stuffed with a core of fabric scraps from the last three Toy Society projects, and rounded and softened with Hobbyfill. This makes them just a smidge heavier than they'd otherwise be, which makes them a little bit harder to knock over.
So the Tyrant's started placing his ball on the ground 15 centimetres away from the grouped skittles and then gleefullly kicking it - conveniently, he's then close enough to kick any skittles over that he managed to miss, without taking a step!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Toy Society drops

Although I've been running a bit late, I have managed to do roughly a toy a month for my Toy Society drops.

Because of the lateness, January and February's drops were both that wonderful hippo pattern I bought from 2 Little Banshees at Stitches & Craft last year. It's become a wonderfully soothing activity that comes together in more or less an evening (maybe two, for stuffing and fiddly bits like embroidery and button attachment). These two were drop number 974 and 984 respectively.

But in March I managed to sew something a bit different, and dropped it on the 1st April, just before Easter.

It's a little overexposed, as the Attack Toddler managed to get at my camera and change the settings the day before (and I was in a rush to get a shot before the drop, so didn't realise before taking the photos). This is an altered pattern from the book Softies. The original was a cat skittle, but a bunny felt much more seasonally appropriate!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Old sheets redux

Laundry bag for the back of the bathroom or bedroom door (both our baskets are pitifully small for the amount of dirty clothes that can accumulate during a week in the life of a Crafter, Miniaturist and Very Small Boy). Conveniently the right colour scheme to go with either our towels OR our bedclothes!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bath bombs

My son adores LUSH's bath ballistics and gleefully drops the "fizzies" into his bath to watch them bubble. The trouble is, they're terribly expensive, even when broken in half, as he expects one every night!

So a quick whip around google informed me that it was possible to make your own with just a few 'easily sourced' *coughcough* ingredients. I had everything to hand except citric acid and molds. I ended up using muffin trays as molds, but the citric acid gave me pause.
Did you know pool shops sell it in several kilo bags to clean stains off the bottoms of swimming pools? Doesn't sound like something I'd want in my bath-tub with me!
I eventually found food-grade citric acid in one of the local supermarkets, along with the other baking supplies.

In the end, my bath fizzies are not as pretty as LUSH's, but that doesn't seem to bother us any; they still fizz, smell good and leave our skin soft and smooth. AND they cost only a fraction of the professional ones!

If you'd like to make your own, here are some of the sites/recipes I used:

Friday, March 12, 2010

Just Pants

The toddler has had a growth spurt and the pants that fit my miniature manling last winter are now just as tight round the waist, but sit ridiculously high on his ankles and shins. So has begun the great pants-making effort of Winter '10.

Red pants with contrast fabric at cuff and on/in the side pockets of green with daisies:

Same but in blue, with blue, red and yellow birds and a back pocket too:

Up close the red pair looks homemade, the blue handmade with an unfortunate seam. I'm still wokring on streamlining this pattern/sewing process. Because my goodness, aren't these cute?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

O hai thur!

..oops? by jasmeet on FlickrHah.
I do believe I jinxed myself with my new Years' resolutions, back there.
Resolve to post once a week, stop posting for two months.
Resolve to join in a Project A month checklist, feel totally overwhelmed by my list of Things To Do and sit and stare at the sewing machine, quivering slightly, for some weeks.

There has been SOME crafting and sewing going on lately, at least. My Attack of life is done with, for now. I just need to post my stuff!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Old Sheets

I love old sheets. Old sheets are a lot like old friends.

Old sheets are comfortable, familiar. They're worn in and softened in just the right places. They even smell right. Not always good, but never strange.
They have a history - especially when they're yours. Sometimes they have marks and scars as a testament to that history. Sometimes they'll be worn so thin that you could break them like that with a twist of your pinky finger. Sometimes they're still going strong, years and years later.

So I suppose it's not surprising that I love to work with old sheets, refashioning them for new uses. They make wonderful house or pyjama pants - soft and light, and often 100% cotton. They're great for cushion and pillow covers - especially when they're worn thin in the middle, you can piece the edges of different sheets together. Being a simple woven fabric they're usually wonderfully easy to work with, already stretched as much as they will, not overly prone to creasing. And, when there's nothing else for it, they make marvellous cleaning cloths, soft and light, easy to wash and re-use again.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Belated Christmas Sewing

This week I'm racing to finish my first ever batch of bunting - a project I've been swearing I'll work out 'soon' for many months - for a friends' little boy. His whole room is done in primary colours, so the bunting will be too, to match. I bought myself some pinking shears (so I don't have to sew the edges of my flags) and I'm so pleased at finding this Cars themed ribbon, to go with his playmat and bed sheets.
He and his Mum will be moving soon, so I don't think I'll get to see it strung up, but hopefully when they're re-settled I'll be able to ask for a picture.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year again!

I managed to keep two of my four crafty resolutions, last year. Considering most people seem to get waylaid about halfway through, I think a fifty percent success rate is really quite good, especially as my final resolution was kind of started in a small way (but got held up for want of decent "making space"- a problem now solved by Nana's gift of a small person table and chairs). So I'm going to do some more Crafty Resolutions, for 2010:
  • More of the same; more attention to detail and time taken with finishes. I don't think I'll ever stop being a Hack & Slash Seamster, but just a little more given to making my seams neat and strong has given me BIG results. I like that!
  • Try to achieve at least a third of this year's gifts for birthdays and Christmas festivities being hand-made. Preferably by me, but by other Real People will do, in a pinch. (And don't waste time on hand-made gifts for those who will not appreciate them, such as my younger brother or sister. It will just give me heart-ache.)
  • Post here at the very least once per week. And something other than Hot & Not or a similar meme.
  • Do at least one Toy Society drop per month!

    I don't think this is a huge goal to strive for, given that I did four Mirabel softies in just over a month. This goal will also let me fiddle about with softie making, which is great fun, requires only a shortish attention span, and is something I'd like to get better at.
  • Finally, take part in the 12 month sewing challenge over at My Favourite.