Thursday, March 31, 2011

Creative fixing

First fix-it job done, and I'm so pleased with myself I thought I'd share it straight away.
I have a few tops that my Kinderboy has chewed the cuffs of (we bought extra large ones and sewed across the bottom of the left sleeve to create a mitten to try and stop him sucking his thumb in his sleep!!).  They're too small to use for the intended purpose, and but for the holes in the cuffs are in perfect condition.  They are also size 4, and will last for this winter and next (hopefully).
I've been thinking about this repair job for a while, and last night dug out some helicopter flanellette that I've had for ages - perfect colour match!  I cut off the offending cuffs, replaced them with helicopter ones, then made a decoration for the front to make the cuffs look more deliberate rather than a 'mum-fix'.  I used Vliesofix to stick everything down, but decided that a slightly frayed look around the edges was OK after a wash or two, so used straight stitches around the edges.

Topstiching's a bit dodgy, as the old Singer wasn't too keen on the added layers of fabric where I overlapped the ends of the cuffs (I have the Bernina back, but can't bring myself to put the old girl away just yet, which may also be another reason for the straight stitching on the decoration), but otherwise I'm impressed with myself.

Oh, and I'm assuming that the grey-lead around the circle (I traced around a 20c coin) will come off in the first wash!

Fix it Friday [before]

I hate throwing things out, particularly if there's practically nothing wrong with them, so I put them in my 'fix it bucket'.  The problem is I never actually take anything out, and its overflowing.  Clothes in need of some sort of repair have started wandering around the house aimlessly and of their own accord!  No time to sew today, so here's a taste of what I promise myself I'm going to start with [hopefully] tomorrow:

Hope your creative space is a little less urgent and a lot more leisurely!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Inspired by... the Schoolboy

My Schoolboy loves to draw.  He tries to finish his work quickly at school so that he has 'free time' to draw in, and has been known to protest loudly if I arrive at After School Care "too early" and interrupt his drawing time.  His drawings are usually very complex, detailed creations involving sinister looking robots or Lego characters, but last week he come up with this simple beauty.  I'm told that the alien is standing on the moon, and the sun is a long way away and that's why it is so small!

Its simplicity inspired me to create a more cuddly duplicate:

I've asked the Schoolboy what his 'green alien's' name should be.  He came up with Aylee, but then said "just call him Alien".  Hmmm nicknames are not our strong suit around here.  What would you call him?

After more creative spaces or inspiration?  Lets head over to kootoyoo together!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Variations on a theme

I've been following Pascale's coin purses here, here and here.  The last one brought back memories of a bag I bought in Warrandyte years ago.

The long cord/shoulder strap gets around my concern that the hand-held versions might be too fiddly to open and close when you're out and about (although I'd like to make one with elastic through the holes to see how that worked).  I liked the bag so much that I made an upsized one that I used either as a bag over one shoulder, or as a back pack by adjusting the length of the cord and looping it under the buckle strap.  I thought I'd share them with you.

Unfortunately, the leather version's a bit squashed from being under too many books in my bedside table, but what I'm trying to show is that the design has the same principles as Pascale's, but is a semicircle (or thereabouts) attached to a flat back panel which folds over to make the flap.  Both versions are quite easy to construct and definitely worth a shot.

On another front, I made a 'standard' Pascale coin purse out of lined curtain fabric with a 4 year old on the weekend, and it was definitely an achievable project for someone of that age with a little assistance.  I broke my hole punch trying to make holes in the fabric though, and found that cutting slits with scissors was a much better option!

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I'm not sure if I've mentioned it or not, but the Man is a cyclist.  His idea of downtime is a couple of hours riding up a hill somewhere.  Not my idea of downtime, although I'm trying - we're off on a family cycling holiday along a rail trail later in the week.  The tradeoff works in my favour though - we have a deal that if he takes a few hours on the weekend to go riding then I can take the same to 'go' crafting/garden (ie. potter without needing to be on call for the kids).  Yesterday afternoon I had some time and I'm quite impressed with what I managed to achieve:

A skirt for the sofa bed cover (not sure how I managed to make it too long at the front but OK at the side, but a fair step up from what it looked like here).  My plan was to secure the cover under the mattress, but I've been impressed with how Stage 1 has stayed in place so far, so I'm going to play it by ear.

I also managed to finish cutting the coloured squares for my 'Scrappy Leaves' quilts, and stitch them into pairs.  There are six different patterns in the Gypsy Rose range, and I decided that I didn't want any four-patch block to contain more than one of each pattern.  Worked that out with little angst, but this afternoon when I came to join the pairs into fours I decided that I wanted to split the colours as well.  I'm nearly finished rearranging, unpicking, counting and re-counting (strangely, my 280 squares seem to have multiplied and I have at least 10 left over?!?).  Here's the more pink-toned (well, salmon really) one for Niece J:

And here's the mauve toned one for Niece H:

Hoping to pick up some coordinating fabric somewhere along the way next weekend (planning to trade a 'quick ride up Mt Buller' for some shopping without the boys wrestling on the sidelines!).

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Scrappy Roses

I 've been feeling the call to patchwork.  I'm not sure if its all the blog references to it lately, the lure of the Gypsy Rose fabric or the need for a little time out, but yesterday I succumbed and started cutting squares for my nieces' Scrappy Leaves quilts whilst my computer was chugging through its calculations.  Normally the speed at which it was working would be cause for worry and alarm, but yesterday it just felt fortuitous - an opportunity to craft on the sly!

So here's my progress so far - 81 3" squares cut, 199 to go!  I figure I'll take it one step at a time - I have until Christmas to get these two done.

Need some inspiration?  Check out more creative spaces at Kirsty's.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Project 52: Find a festival & see a movie

Daniel's Amazing Banana Muffins

This week its been the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.  The Man and I don't get out much, so I did some hunting for a boy-friendly activity at the festival, and came up trumps with the Big Feed and Recipe Swap at Artplay last Sunday.  Not sure if I'm the only person in Melbourne who hadn't actually been to Birrung Marr, but now I have.  We had an indoor picnic, provided recipes and did illustrations for a recipe book they're going to put together, the kids went 'fishing' for apples, did painting, watched and chatted to a juggling 'chef', .... two hours of fun for $10 a head.  I'd recommend it if you're free next time it comes around.  The pic's are our contributions to the illustration of the recipe book.

Joel's Best Ever Chocolate Cake
And having said that we don't get out much, I can contradict myself and say that last night we went to the movies (2nd time in 6 months - has to be a record!) and saw the Kings Speech.  I guess it goes without saying that it was fantastic!  Even better was that we'd been given Gold Class tickets as a birthday present, so we could not only relax in style, but eat dinner too (normally a date is either dinner or a movie, but not both 'cos we are too tired to stay out late enough for that!!).

Check out my 'Project 52' page for more of what I've been up to this year.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A posse of bandoliers

The Old Girl is alive and kicking!  Singer tell me that she was manufactured on 12 July 1932.  How's that for detail!  They also have the manuals available for free download.

Anyway, after a bit of a slow start, and a few 'aha' moments from me as I remembered her quirks, she's going great guns.  Together we've manufactured a posse of bandoliers (more Matchbox than Snack though), loosely based on Deborah's Snack Bandolier.

In my bulk manufacture I did a few things differently:
  • My boys are 3 and 6, and their friends are just turning 4 and 7, so I made my bandoliers longer - I measured my boys to get a size which fitted reasonably well.  I also lengthened the elastic casing, but found that I had more than enough length and trimmed it off.
  • My old girl only does straight stitch, so I didn't do the zig zag topstitching.  I managed to give my Bernina a siezure trying to do a contrast honeycomb stitch on the original I cut for the Kinderboy, and it was looking quite effective and would be worth considering (just don't do as I did and try and do it at 100kmh!!)
  • I widened the fabric casing for the elastic to 3", and did away with it entirely for the Schoolboy.  I had some tartan elastic which he loved, so I let it shine (I used around 45cm).  It had the advantage of speed as well as allowing me to fit more cars onto his bandolier.  I'd use this method if I was teaching someone with little/no sewing experience how to do the project.
  • On two of my bandoliers I cut one main fabric section 5" wide, rather than two at 3".  I also ironed it as Deborah recommends for the elastic casing - much quicker because you don't have to turn the whole lot through.
  • I made the pocket bigger - 4" x 6" - so that it ended up being around 3" tall and the full width of the bandolier.  I think that this was probably a bit of an overkill in terms of width though, and on reflection it could have been 4" square or 4" x 5".
On the whole, I'd highly recommend it as a quick project for anyone with even limited sewing experience.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I've been going great guns tonight on making four of Deborah's Snack Bandoliers - one each for my boys and one each for their friends who are having a birthday party on Saturday.  I think I pushed the Bernina a little too hard and fast on the herringbone stitch though, and something's gone kerput inside.  I have sideways movement, but no forwards movement.  Hmmm...

Rang mum.  No help.

Pulled out the old Singer.  Fell in love.  This was my first machine (actually, technically Grandma bought it for my sister and I nearly 30 years ago, but my sibling has no interest in sewing so by default its mine).  I love the way it looks and the way it smells, and even the knee press is quirky enough to be cute.  It has a heap of foot-like attachments that I've never known what to do with, and had forgotten about.  I suspect that a few of them would have made life easier over the last 15 years if only I'd broken it out.  Sadly though, the rubber (leather?) band that makes it go is no longer up to it - solid, warped and threatening to disintegrate - and I can't get it to move at all.

Looks like the Bandoliers will have to wait.

Here's a picture of my old love.

PS.  Just done some net surfing, and found a manual for a similar machine, dating from the 1950s.  One of my feet apparently can be used to sew on commercial bias binding in a single step?!?

WOO HOO!  I just lifted the lid on the machine to show the boys, and found that in fact she's not given up on me, just needed a gentle nudge!  And a service.  But for today a nudge will be enough.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

(nearly) wordless wednesday

This week at our place we have:
A new buttonhole for our 'plant pot man' 
A stash-busting beanie to go with the new Kinder boy cardi.

Emmeline with a pocket on one side 
and not on the other.

Tomorrow there'll be work to do on boy birthday presents...
and I guess I should restart work on the curtains.

What's on in your creative space?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Inspired by...

Photo taken by Jim Smith - Down Under Quilts Issue 140, 2010
I often borrow magazines from our local library, and an issue of Downunder Quilts (Issue 140, 2010) that I borrowed last week has instructions for the perfect quilt to make from my layer cake!  It's called Scrappy Leaves, and was designed by Lorraine Downey (Patchwork Plus in Miranda NSW).  I've never followed a pattern to the letter, and this may or may not be the same, but by my calculations I should be able to make two of these quilts from my Gypsy Rose layer cake plus the background and border fabrics, perfect for my nieces.  Excellent!  I want to make a start straight away, but as usual there are other things in the queue...

... I showed the Schoolboy Deborah's Snack Bandolier, and he's put in an order for himself and for a mate who's birthday party's next Saturday.  Hmm - must remember never to show an idea to Schoolboy unless I'm ready and able to follow through.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Trying to narrow my options...

I've a 'grand plan' for what I'd like to craft this year, but things keep creeping in.  I've a few girly birthdays coming up, and I thought some little girl bags might be a good project (not on the list), as would be re-starting work on our curtains (top of the list) or making a start on a cardi for the Schoolboy (also on the list), but what I really feel like is making an apron (definitely not on the list).  Can't say I've ever said that before, but my current is showing its age and the results of too many chocolate cakes, and my 'Emmeline' apron pattern arrived in the post last week.  Forgot it was Thursday until I turned on the computer, so Kirsty's unwittingly encouraged me to make a decision, and the apron wins.  
What do you think of my chosen fabric from my stash (and can you interpret for me)?  I don't remember buying it, and I've never been game to make any clothing out of it, partly because it's too attention grabbing for this introvert, and partly because I have no idea what most of it says!  I figure I'm pretty safe using it for an apron though.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Snoop my stuff

Wasn't going to take part in Kirsty's 'snoop my stuff' session, because to be honest my stuff is a mess.  I guess that's part of the point though, so I've changed my mind.  This is the bookshelf in the 'craft' side of the study - I suspect that the clutter reflects the fact that I have a compulsive need to try new things - in the past I've had blank/decorative space but it keeps disappearing!

I've got a large dose of garden (including my samples from Plant ID class at Uni that I can't bring myself to dispose of), a fair chunk of sewing/patchwork, some knitting and cardmaking.  The red bucket's my 'fix it box' - I guess I should be trying to shrink the overflow of that around about now, but somehow it doesn't seem so interesting as a new project!

'Emily' up in the corner would say hello, but she's feeling her age these days and is in desperate need of a trip to hospital for a hip replacement.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I've finally finished the red spots, and here they are with and without me.

Project 52: Buy a new item of clothing

Here's my new item of clothing (although I hope that I'm allowed to buy more than one for the year!).  It's my choice for the Project 52 challenge because it's unusual for me.  The Man is the cyclist one who exercises in our family.

I still own the first new bike I was ever bought, and that's because the Man bought it for me the first Christmas we were married (he actually managed to keep it hidden in the car boot as we drove from Melbourne to Brisbane for Christmas so that it'd be a surprise).  I don't ride much (ok, the original tyres on the bike still look new), but, the Kinder boy and I are planning to get to/from Kinder on the bike as much as we can, we've got a family bike holiday coming up, and jerseys are on sale at our local bike store, so here I am.


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