Saturday, December 24, 2011

Succumbing to pink

I've a couple of posts that I prepared a month or so back, but didn't want to post until the arrival of the Newbie.  This's the first:

I'm not into pink.  Never have been.  Had a pink/mauve bedroom under sufferance as a girl and have largely avoided it ever since.

However anti-pink I am though, being faced with the prospect of a little girl in the family I've softened my view somewhat.  Prior to the little one's arrival I was shopping and crafting with a view to watering down the inevitable pink, as even I have to concede that I'm not going to be able to get away with dressing a baby girl solely in our usual red/white/blue theme.  So I've branched out a little.  Here's the knitting I finished back in October but couldn't show you until now:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Introducing the Newbie!

The Cyclist and I are proud to announce the birth of our daughter last Friday morning!

Abbie is a placid little thing, that seems to charm all and sundry.  Even the Kinderboy is thrilled, if somewhat surprised to have a sister rather than the brother he assumed was coming his way (we've told him that sisters aren't really girls, just like Mum and Nanna are OK because they're not really girls either!?!).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

'Hamburger' cupcakes for the Schoolboy

Today was all about the Kinderboy - he's 4 today!

Tonight, though, was about the Schoolboy.

I knew that I'd made a rod for my own back when I showed him Jacqui's hamburger cupcakes when she posted about them.  I figured that I was better off making them for his class before the baby was born rather than trying to do it for the last day or two of term (his birthday's on New Years' Eve, so it doesn't really matter when in December we take cakes for the class, but there's no way he'd let me get away with not doing it!).  Here's my finished product (apologies for the quality of the photos and general lack of styling - I was pretty chuffed with myself and happy with the finished product until I saw the photos, I swear they look better in real life!):

Here's what I did:
  • Made a double batch of butter cake mix (each batch made 18 cupcakes, but I could have stretched it further and gotten more authentic-looking 'buns')
  • Greased and floured cupcake pans (to give the outside of the 'buns' a floured look - not sure that this was necessary though)
  • Sprinkled the top with oat bran before putting them in the oven (you could probably use instant oats or wheat bran to get a similar result)
  • Melted white chocolate and mixed it with a little yellow food colouring, then spread the lot on some foil on an oven tray to create cheese.  When it was partially set I roughly cut it into squares with a butter knife to make breaking it easier later
  • Made some bright green (lettuce) and red (sauce) icing
  • After I'd cooled the cakes I sliced them in half
  • I then used a little icing on the bottom of a chocolate ripple biscuit, and 'glued' the biscuit to the bottom part of the cake (for reference, there are 27 biscuits to a pack)
  • Drizzled red icing over the top, making sure that some went over the sides
  • Topped with some of the white chocolate
  • Drizzled green icing over the top, again making sure that some went over the sides, then topped with the top of the cake.
The actual construction wasn't too time consuming, and they're pretty effective.  I 'sampled' a broken one and it was easier to eat than I expected, but pretty sweet even though there weren't any full layers of icing.

My cake recipe is:

120g Margarine
1 1/4 C Castor Sugar
1 ts Bicarb soda
2 1/4 C Self Raising flour (or 2C flour and 1/4C cocoa for chocolate cake)
1 C Boiling water
2 Eggs
1ts Vanilla
  1. Beat butter and sugar
  2. Add flour and bicarb, then eggs, vanilla and water.  Mix well.
  3. Pour into muffin pans
  4. Bake at 180 degrees centigrade for 15 minutes

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Feeding chair [tick]

This afternoon I've completed a long-standing project.  Here it is:

Years ago I salvaged this chair from a rubbish skip down the road:

It didn't look so bad back then - it had a lovely golden glow, but we ended up with too many chairs, it needed repair (the seat started to fall out of the bottom of it), and it ended up in the back yard for a couple of years.  I cut a fresh seat for it from some timber salvaged from another roadside find and kidded myself that placing it under the eaves would protect it until I could get to re-finishing it with exterior varnish.  Well, both the chair and its supplementary seat had seen better days, but I still loved the shape.  In between time I'd also sold off a number of the chairs we had inside, so it was time for the 'captains chair' to be reinvigorated as a feeding chair for the baby's room.

Firstly I reinforced under the original seat:

Then I coated it with several layers of paint (I used interior/exterior primer first, just in case it ends up outside again).

I painted the supplementary seat too.  I left it in two pieces because its such a tight fit that it needs to be in two pieces to fit it into the chair.  I confess to being too lazy to fix the split that had developed on the left though.

I then left it for ages because I didn't know how to proceed next made a cushion for the seat from a combination of a foam cushion insert, a cut up scatter cushion (to fill out the curves), three layers of dacron (to try and make the lot look uniform) and some calico (to hold it all together).  Today, having been inspired by this pin, I made a cushion cover from a men's jumper from the op shop.  The cable knit hides the imperfections in the cushion underneath better than a more traditional cover (I had originally been envisaging something with piped edges).

You can still see the gaps in the timber seat, and I didn't fill all of the holes in the chair itself, but all up I'm pretty happy with the result considering where I started.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Baby blankets [tick]

This week I've been making baby blankets.  Strange for someone who already has two kids I know, but somewhere along the line I did a clean-up of my cupboards and got rid of most of my baby blankets, as well as the bottom half of our change table.

Last week after I realised the general lack of blankets in our house and that I needed to take our own to the hospital (when did they stop supplying them?!?), I took myself off to the op shop looking for a cotton blanket.  What I came back with was a $15 chenille bedspread.  Never mind that I have one of my own in the linen closet - somehow it seems less of a drama to cut up something that used to belong to someone else than it is to cut up something that I vaguely recall being on my bed as a child, no matter how long it is since I've used it.  Well, I've just finished turning the single bed-sized cover into six baby blankets:

Three are lined, three are not;
Three have mitred corners, three do not;
Two have curved bottom edges, four are rectangular;
Two are identical;
One has a fringed edge;
One has dodgy fancy topstitching;

Sorry for the lack of colour - trying to keep gender a secret still.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Introducing Gaspard & Lisa

Its been quite a productive day in our house - this morning I finished the Christmas Stars quilt, and this afternoon the boys and I finished 'Gaspard' and 'Lisa' - their presents for the Newbie.  They're proud of the fact that they made the bears themselves (with varying levels of assistance - the Kinderboy got to choose his fabric and trims, trace around the pattern pieces, supervise sewing and help to stuff; the Schoolboy also got to 'steer' the fabric through the sewing machine whilst I used the presser foot).  We've named them after the characters in the TV show that's currently on ABC kids.

The pattern came from this book:
I borrowed it from the library with a view to making some stuffed birds for the Christmas tree / as party favours for the Kinderboy's birthday next weekend, but found that there were so many projects I wanted to try that I've actually ordered a copy of the book for myself to keep.  The bears and also the birds are quite simple, and readily achievable by primary school aged kids if you're after a craft project.

Oh, and as you can see, the quilt is now dry and the tree up and decorated.  Time to sit down I think!

Christmas stars completed!

This morning I finally finished the 'Christmas Stars' quilt that I started as part of the Chasing Cottons Quilting 101 classes way back in April (two days late according to the Schoolboy, who wanted to put up all the Christmas decorations on Thursday)!  Here it is having been washed and hanging on the line to dry on a dull Melbourne summer's day:

 I contributed a tutorial to the course, and thought that participating would be a good way of using up some Christmas fabric to make a quilt for under our tree (we put it on a coffee table, and I'm always worried about scratches).  Part way along I found out that I was pregnant, and didn't want to finish the quilt until I had some fabric to match the Newbie's Christmas stocking to include.  Well, I've made the stocking now, and got extra fabric so I could use some for the quilt binding and behind the label on the back.

Here's some more shots just for good measure...

The fabric's a mixture of leftovers from our stockings, as well as presents I've made for people over the years.  The predominantly red floral is one that I bought as a remnant 'just in case' we had need of a fifth stocking a few years ago and cut into triangles only to find out a couple of weeks later that I should have kept it for its original purpose.

I quilted in the ditch around the stars and squares (its the first time that I've done this, and my work isn't exactly perfect, but I'm reasonably happy with it), then added four-pointed stars in the centre of the stars and the larger coloured squares.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

This week I...

have no photos!  However, I

           am loving the Schoolboy's hair and the Kinderboy's dimples (just not this morning);
           have been madly quilting the Christmas quilt, and now just have the binding to go can now say it's finished - you can see the finished product over here;
           discovered that most of my baby wraps and blankets have 'disappeared';
           made two light-weight cotton wraps for the Newbie as a result (two weeks to go!);
           gave away some stuff;
           regretted it before the weekend was out;
           pondered picking up a table off the side of the road and didn't;
           discovered that the bottom half of our change table has 'disappeared';
           hope the table is still there this morning and I can get it into the car and home as part of my 'change table replacement program';
           went op shopping, but didn't find anything.  The Kinder boy found a price tag, an ancient rubber band, a wooden bead and a broken piece of shiny plastic, all of which were essential treasures for one 'treasure box' or another.  Turns out that the 'treasure boxes' are all the back seat of the car!
           am going op shopping again today (hatching a plan for new baby blankets)

Photographic evidence to follow.  In the meantime, here's a coat that I found in a magazine I was reading in the early hours of yesterday morning.  It's not available any more according to the Melinda & Narina website, but I love the detail on it.  Maybe one day I'll get to make a version of it.

There's bound to be more interesting fare to look at over here than in my space...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turning the bookcase(s) upside down

My bookcase project is nearly complete!

You might recall that I had two of these bookcases in need of a revamp:


I'd made them about 15 years ago, then added the doors when the Schoolboy was a baby to stop him climbing on the bottom half.  Somehow I'd never gotten around to painting the doors.  With the Newbie on the way and in need of office storage I crafted a plan to re-use them as part of a hutch over my new desk.

I need to paint and add some trim on either side of the fabric (Verano Petals from Yardage Design) to neaten the edges, and finish painting the shelves, but I'm so excited that I thought that I'd share their transformation now (its also your last chance to see this desk looking so clutter free!).

Here's the process in brief (fabric decoupage tutorial to come):

Upside down, with the old top cut off & sides shaped...

Painted and in place...

With the doors added...

'mini-desk' from offcuts and $1 'seconds' from Mitre 10

I should be working right now, but I'm off to check out more creative spaces over here instead!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Its beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...

... my apologies!  It really is to early to be thinking about Christmas, and I can't face any sort of present list yet, but there are some craft items on my 'to do' list that I really want to cross off before the start of December.  Last night I finished the first of them: a Christmas stocking for the Newbie.  In theory this could have waited - our tradition is that we hang them on Christmas Eve, but as Christmas and new babies come hand-in-hand in our household, making a stocking just seems like part of the birth preparations.
I've made each of us Christmas stockings, and a friend asked me for the pattern some time ago.  Looking at my instructions for her I was a little confused by the whys and wherefores of some of my instructions, so I thought I'd revise them for you.  I've also tried my hand at preparing a PDF pattern based on my design.  If you print it at 100% you'll end up with a stocking that's around 47cm from the top to the heel and 40cm from heel to toe.

I'm going to make one of Tania's Voucher Wraps (but slightly smaller - mine will measure 6" by 11" unfolded) with some of the leftovers.
If you'd like to have a go at your own version of my Christmas stocking feel free to download the pattern (please only use it for your own personal purposes - don't reproduce it/sell them).  Some of the great looking examples here might provide additional inspiration for fabric choices.  There are written instructions in the pattern download, but if you're after visuals as well here goes:

What you'll need:

Main fabric & calico/lining (115cm wide)
70cm of each
(180cm will do 3 stockings)
Cuff fabric (115cm wide)
Ribbon/webbing (~2.5 cm wide)
~70 cm
Iron on interfacing (light-medium weight)
20cm (if 115cm wide this should do two stockings)

What to cut:
2x      Stocking shape from main fabric (add 1cm seam allowance all round)
2x      Stocking shape from calico (add 1cm seam allowance all round)
2x      18cm x 56cm rectangles from cuff fabric
1x      18cm x 56cm rectangle from interfacing

How to sew it up:
1.          With right sides facing, stitch front and back stocking pieces together using a 1cm seam allowance, back-stitching a few stitches at the start and end of the seam, and leaving the top open.  If you like, then zig zag/overlock the edges (I have used a straight stitch to neaten the top of the stocking, but as the whole lot is going to be lined I haven’t worried about the rest of the edges).
2.          Do the same with the calico/lining.
3.          Clip seam allowance to curves.
4.          Turn the main fabric stocking through the right way, and press.
5.          Insert the calico stocking inside the main fabric one, matching seams and top.
6.          Apply the interfacing to one of the cuff pieces.
7.          With right sides, facing stitch the cuff pieces together along one long edge (this becomes the lower edge).
8.          Press flat, with seam allowance toward the un-interfaced half.
9.          With right sides facing, stitch the back seam (short edges) of the cuff, then press open.
10.       Fold the cuff in half and press.
11.       Insert cuff inside the top of the stocking, matching the back seam on the cuff with that on the stocking, and ensuring that the non-interfaced side of the cuff is facing the stocking lining (ie. When turned over this will be on the outside).
12.       Fold the ribbon/webbing in half, and pin between the stocking and the lining, so that the fold matches the edges of the fabric and the remainder of the ribbon/webbing hangs inside the stocking.
13.       Stitch the cuff and the stocking together, catching the ribbon/webbing into the seam.
14.       Fold up the cuff so that it lies flat, then topstitch the seam allowance to the stocking.
15.       Turn the cuff down.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Inspired by...

I have to confess that until recently I hadn't made any clothes for my kids.  I'd made some dresses for my nieces last Christmas, but nothing for the boys.  I remember making the girls dresses, and losing the piece of paper that I had their measurements written down on several times during the process.  I recently measured up the Schoolboy with a view to making him some pyjama pants, but once again I've lost the measurements.  I came across this idea on the Owly Baby blog, and decided that it was fantastic.  The only issue is that the picture is rather too girly for my household (and particularly for the Kinderboy who currently declares to all and sundry that Nanna is the only girl he likes!).

This morning I've come up with my own version, the starting point being the diagram in the back of a Burda Kids pattern book I have:

I've added some extra measurements that I thought would be useful, printed them onto A5 paper, trimmed them, then mounted them on card.  I covered the lot with Contact, but you could laminate them.  This'll mean that rather than reprinting them all the time (and potentially losing them), I'm going to hang them inside my craft cupboard and write on them with overhead projector pen (I've found it to be a bit more permanent than whiteboard marker, but still able to be erased) so I can update the measurements as I need to.  Now I just have to find the Schoolboy's measurements...

If you're interested, feel free to download my template, which also has a girl version.  Please only use for your own personal purposes however.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A brilliant idea...

My fabric stash is made up of a mixture of fabrics I've bought for clothes that I've never made, patchwork fabric I've deliberately bought as a stash, and then leftovers from completed projects.  These leftovers are often too big to throw away but not big enough to do much with.  I tend not to throw them out 'just in case', and because they've cost me money.  They often stay in the cupboard for years though, taking up space before I either ditch them or find a project for them (hence the 20 year old satin lining this bag).  

I saw a great idea on someone's blog, and have modified it slightly for my own purposes.

I purchased 3m of 137cm single pass curtain lining (the original used vinyl which the author kept rolled up, however I thought that lining would be lighter and therefore easier to deal with.  I also plan to fold it rather than roll it up).  I then 'borrowed' some textas off the Schoolboy and marked the length of the fabric with:
  • The centreline (using a dotted line)
  • A 114cm wide section (using a solid line and different colour), plus its centreline (using a dotted line)
  • A 75cm wide section (ie. half of a 150cm wide section)
I then folded the fabric at just over 80cm from the end, marked this line, thereby getting a line which was perpendicular to the selvedges.  Finally, I measured in each direction, marking every 10cm (I haven't bothered with a 10cm or 30cm line at this point, if it becomes an issue I'll mark it in later).

The idea is that, because I usually buy a pattern separately to (ok, years before) the fabric I'm going to use it with, I will lay out my pattern pieces on the relevant section of the lining and work out how much fabric I actually need to make up a garment, rather than relying on the metreage shown on the pattern.  Once I'm happy with the layout, I'll take a photo and save/print it for future reference, and then go shopping.  Marking the centreline for each pattern width allows you to take account of a fold in the fabric.  Hopefully this will reduce the amount of miscellaneous scraps in my stash, and the additional cost associated with over-purchasing.

I spent a fair bit of time over the long weekend scouring the net for the original post, but to no avail - if this was your idea please let me know and I'll link to you and give you the credit!

Now I've finished it, and after looking at way too many pictures of projects from Japanese sewing books today, I really want to break out the patterns and start a new project.  Better finish a couple of things first though I guess (sigh).  Off to check out other creative spaces instead.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

More freezer paper

As promised I've been doing some more freezer paper stencilling - a Star Wars logo at the request of the Schoolboy, who loves his '86' tee so much he's determined to show it off to all rather than save it as a pyjama top.

This time round I actually did three coats of paint (a little thickly I think - perhaps thinner coats wouldn't have bled so much?).  The colour does look slightly more solid than my previous efforts, but isn't darker - when buying fabric paint in the future I'll be tempted to go a shade darker than what I'm looking for to account for the fact that it does seem to dry lighter.

I have another (actually, another 5!) project on the go, but for now I'm heading over here to look at what other people have been up to.

Friday, October 28, 2011

First-time on a Friday

I've been wanting to try some screen printing for a while now, and have read lots of blog references to simple printing using freezer paper.  I'd never heard of freezer paper before, and kept forgetting to check if they had it at the supermarket.  I finally got around to asking at Spotlight last week though, and at less than $2 a metre I figured that I should 'just do it'.

Today I quit procrastinating and tried it on some tops I bought as pyjama tops for the boys.  I used my Creative Memories cutting system to cut some ovals, then traced numbers (up there for creativity I know!  I'm so original that the numbers even correspond to the size of the tops they're on - '68' = '6-8').  Not perfect, and certainly not the height of originality, but I'm pretty happy with the result.  Next on the agenda is a long-sleeved version for the schoolboy with a 'Star Wars' logo, and maybe some fabric for a cushion.

I found this tutorial to be quite thorough, although I only left the paint to dry for about 3 hours.  My paint also said to iron it for 5 minutes to set it.

I used Setacolor Opaque paint in Indigo, and with a single coat found that it was lighter than I expected.  A second coat may have darkened it up more perhaps (I'll let you know after round two!).  I bought the paper from Spotlight (less than $2 a metre), but should have also checked the supermarket I guess.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

[Nearly] wordless Wednesday

A bag for the Kinderboy's collections...

Not sure why it took me so long to get around to the 10 minutes it took to make it!


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