Wednesday 12 April 2017

Couldn't Resist An Easter Dress ... Or 2!

It's school holidays here this week, and for me that means not rushing out the door in the morning, staying in our PJ's for a while longer, spending some extra quality time with my girls, and of course, cracking out some craft whenever there's an opportunity.  So when I saw this adorable post from CraftiMom on Peek-A-Boo Pages, I set it aside for the start of the holidays, which this year coincide perfectly with Easter ... how convenient.

First port-of-call was to find the right fabrics ... well, you know how there's just those magical days at the fabric shop when you find the perfect ones, and all goes to plan?  This was one of those days.  
First of all, I found this gorgeous rainbow bunny-print knit for Hannah.  She's our rainbow-lover, and this fabric just suits her perfectly.  There was a metre left on the bolt, which was JUST enough for this dress for Hannah.  For this, I used the Snapdragon Dress from Sew Like My Mom.  I've had this pattern sitting in my pattern file for a while, but this is the first one I've sewn, and it definitely won't be the last.  It's a really cute little dress, and perfect for 5-year-old Hannah (when did she get so big!?!).  Oh, and I just love those sleeves.  It was totally a simple hack to add the bunny cut-out too.  You just need enough fabric to cut out a second back piece to do it.  It comes together beautifully, and Hannah loves it.
And check out that bunny back!!  Ca-ute!!!  And my very practically-minded Hannah thinks it's great to have a bunny-hole right there so it's easy to "scratch my back when I'm itchy".  Ha, she's hilarious!!!
Then I found this baby-bunny-print knit fabric for Bethany.  Another perfect match for my not-so-little-anymore 9-year old.  She loves that the fabric is not "babyish" but that it's "soooooo sweet!".  Seriously, when did she start talking like a teenager!?!  Anyway ...

Lots of the patterns I've collected over time only go to a size 8, which is heartbreaking.  For Bethany I'm mostly making or buying size 10 now (she's really about a size 9, but growing like a weed so it's good to have some extra room to grow).  So as I despairingly discovered that she's just too big for so many of these cute patterns, I decided I'd just hack this one and make it work.
I used the Hemlock Top pattern from Elegance and Elephants, which goes to a size 9  (Thank you Heidi!!).  I was lucky enough to test this one a couple of years ago, so I knew the pattern would be great, and true to size.  I ditched the shoulder "flounce" as I figured this fabric was probably busy enough without it, and went the long sleeve option seeing as we seem to have gone straight from summer to winter here of late.
I then shortened the top by about 5 inches and added a simple gathered skirt just using the width of the fabric, and a quick measure of Bethany to get the right length.  It worked beautifully, and I think she will get a couple of other dresses using this same pattern this winter.  Such a quick and easy sew.
And of course she got the bunny cut-out too. (Oh, and I'm going to add a belt-loop on each side before Sunday to stop that pesky belt from moving, 'cause it does look great with a belt and some winter boots, huh!) 

Anyway, just thought I'd share what you can do with this awesome Easter hack.  There's still time of you're looking for a quick last-minute Easter dress.  

Hoping for a happy and blessed Easter for you and your family (oh, and that the bunny with the chocolate treats you well!).

Tuesday 21 February 2017

Finding Mummy

 So, Hannah started school a few weeks ago and I wrote this post almost immediately, but I have been trying to decide whether to go live with it or not.  It's not my usual sort of post, and I don't want to be someone who comes across as having it all worked out, 'cause I definitely DO NOT.  I also know this is not new or earth-shattering, but is just where I am at, and I think lots of fellow Mums might relate, and maybe some of you can help shed some light for me along the way ... so here goes ....

Whilst Hannah has been ready for school since pretty much the day she was born, and whilst I've always known that her beginning school would mean I could manage a little more paid work and therefore enjoy a tiny bit more financial freedom for our family, this transition has hit me harder than I expected.  Even though I haven't had any full days at home or anything yet (it's been pretty busy with work actually), I've felt lost and lonely, teary and uninspired and just generally out of whack.  The house is quiet ... REALLY quiet during the day.   But, it's not because I've lost my baby (though I do wish she'd stop growing up so quickly).  I think it's because I've lost ... me!

For the past 9 years I have been known predominantly as "Mummy".  This is my favourite pic of Bethany as a newborn on the day we brought her home.  Oh my, that hair!!  Anyway, since that day  I've had a little buddy following me around the house most days, and when I have been at work or they have been at pre-school/school, I've been rushing around getting all those things done that you can't do with a little shadow following you.  I haven't been just "Wen" for a really long time.  And I think I'm not sure who "Wen" is anymore.

Now, I'm pretty sure I'm not depressed or anything (before anyone starts to worry) and I have the most beautiful husband who listens to my woes and is always supportive and truly my best friend.  But I'm definitely needing to self-analyse these feelings and work through them, and I can absolutely see how sometimes Mums can get to the point of feeling out-of-touch with themselves, and letting that spiral into something more serious like depression or anxiety. And after doing some soul-searching, reflection, prayer and just acknowledging how I'm feeling, I've come to the conclusion that: 


I don't want to push these current feelings down and overload my life with stuff, work, TV, new responsibilities, and anything else that will help me avoid these feelings, while moving ahead meaninglessly.  I want to LIVE my life, and that means making the most of every era, moving forward into new and different eras with gusto and trying to enjoy each moment as it comes, rather than mourning those precious moments that are now in the past, but will remain as precious memories forever.

Now, obviously, I'm still a Mum, and boy do those 6 hours of school go by quickly each day.  You just have to look at my kitchen currently and the dinner pots and pans piled high!  I'm still going to be "Mummy" more often than I am "Wen", and I love that.  Being a Mum and raising these girls has been and still is such an amazing gift, and has honestly been the most fun-filled, meaningful,  heart-wrenching, hair-pulling, life-shaping thing I've ever done.  I just think it's time to balance out the Mum vs Wen in me a bit.  And I think it's important for my girls to see me being me.  I am a person with needs and wants and feelings in the same way that I spend so much of every day making sure that their needs, wants and feelings are cared for.

So, what to do?  Well, I've decided that I'm just going to slow down a little for this first little bit, and just stroll along for a while.  I'm not going to sign-up to do all the extra things to fill my time just yet.  I need to navigate for a bit so that I can make some strategic decisions, and these are the first ones I've made:

I'm going to make sure I do something for my health and well-being ... for me.  Early last year I actually started running (people who know me are having a great giggle now!) early in the mornings before anyone else was up, and I loved it.  It came to an abrupt end when I had some health issues mid-year, and I've found it hard to drag myself out of bed since then.  But the other day I came home from dropping the girls to school, and realised I had a whole 90 minutes ... alone ... before I needed to be out at some meetings.  I grabbed my shoes, and I walked .... ALONE!  As I walked, I thought about how I was feeling and what I wanted and needed.  I reflected, I prayed, I pondered and I walked all of those feelings onto the footpath behind me ... alone.  And boy did that make a difference!  I came home so clear-of-mind.  I had spent quality time in my own thoughts, and getting the blood pumping at the same time.   This is going to become a regular thing for me after school drop-off, or whenever I have a spare chunk of time.  Not because I HAVE to out of some kind of fitness guilt, but because time in my own headspace, in the fresh air, with God, and with some physical exercise is something that will help me make the most of every day.  

I'm going to make regular time to be with my Saviour.  I'm a Christian, and while I don't often go around shouting that fact (that's just not my style), it's unashamedly who I am.  Now, Mums with little kids can understand that it's hard enough to find a chance to go to the bathroom alone, let alone find some uninterrupted time alone with God.  My "quiet-times" with God have really suffered while I've had little kids at home.  I know God gets it, and He gets that we all just do the best we can, and I know He doesn't want us living out of a place of guilt.  But I also know that without those regular God-times, my growth in Him and in being the person He wants me to be has slowed.  It's time to ramp that back up, and listen more closely to how He wants me to live out each era of my life.

I'm also going to work on building more friendships.  I have had lots of people in my life over the past 9 years of mum-hood ... from church to playgroup to pre-school to school to work and all the friends and family in between.  Some really fantastic and precious friends.  But I know that my nature tends to be a "helping" nature, and I find that so often the people I'm drawn to, and the ones who are drawn to me are those that are in need in some way, whether that be practical or emotional needs.  I also work in a "helping" occupation.  I'm not fighting that part of my God-given gifting, and I think I will always be a "helper".  I also feel privileged that I am someone that people tend to trust when they're in need, but I'm noticing that sometimes those that need the most help and support are also those who can't reciprocate it.  I believe healthy two-way relationships are so important in getting the most out of this life for ourselves and for those around us, and while I'll always be there for anyone who needs me, I also want to make sure I have support when I need it too.  I think it's time to find some balance.  Now, I'm terrible at asking for help.   I'm not becoming a "taker", but I am going to be more real and vulnerable with those who I trust, and hopefully make more friendships as I see opportunities for real openness and love.  This is not an easy thing for me as I'm also a total introvert, and making friends and being vulnerable is exhausting for me.  So I will gain strength from exercising and spending time with my God, and I will get there.

And of course, I'm going to make some regular time for doing something I love.  Sewing, crocheting, or craft in general is something that is good for my soul.  Just the other day, we had gotten to the end of a very busy day, the girls were playing (nicely) in the bath, and I had 10 minutes where I appliqu├ęd some decorative letters onto some new bath towels for them.  And that 10 minutes of creative outlet just gave me some extra bounce and energy to finish the day well.  I'm going to spend some of the time the girls are at school doing some craft ... and I'm not going to feel guilty that I created something instead of vacuuming the floor.  What did I say about balance?!!  And hopefully as part of that there will be some more regular posts here of fun craftiness, and maybe also some details of those other things this Mummy is Up To.

Anyway, this has been a very different post to any I've done before, but also one I really had on my heart to write.  I'll try to update you as I go along, as I think writing for me is also a good way to clarify and analyse my emotions.  I wonder if there are any other Mums out there who are grappling with any of the same emotions as me?  If so, I'd love to hear from you, and to hear what strategies you've put in place.  Or if you're a Mum who is ahead of me .... how did you make it through this stage, and find yourself again?

Anyway thanks for reading this LOOOOONG post, and Im looking forward to some more fun crafty posts very soon!

Thursday 22 December 2016

Christmas Swap Time

For the third year in a row now, I've participated in the Santa Sack Swap hosted by the lovely Cheryll.  It is by far the most fun swap I've participated in, which is why I keep coming back.

I love that there is 6 months to get to know your swap partner, and to dream up the lovely hand-made goodies to send, and I love that each swap partner I've had has been so lovely to get-to-know.

And this year, I was partnered with the amazing Lisa, of Lisa's Stitching Lounge.  She was a fantastic swap partner, and I just wanted to share the beautiful array of gifts she sent me.

Here they are:

Such a fun package of goodies:

This lovely tote, which is the perfect size for a bit of craft me-thinks, and this cute little crocheted snowman ... my girls love him!:

A beautiful Christmas placemat, and mini-stocking.  So adorable, and the perfect size for the little Christmas tissues Lisa included in there.  I think the placemat may be lovingly placed under a plate of cookies for Santa at our place this year by two excited little munchkins.

A beautiful handmade Christmas towel, and some Christmas gift-giving goodies.

And some super-cute little candy-cane tree ornaments.  This a such a great idea as a fun addition to the Christmas tree.

Thank you for these lovely, thoughtful gifts Lisa, and I wish you a very Merry Christmas.

And, just in case you're wondering what I sent to Lisa...  I managed to remember to take some snaps before mailing them this year.  Here's what Lisa has received, all of which are going on my list of fun and quick Christmas gifts for future years (if they're not already there)!  And with about a day and a half to go before Christmas, this might even be useful for this last minute gifts you've been aiming to make ... if you're anything like me that is!

A couple of Christmas-themed kitchen towels.  I used the free pattern here ...

A set of these cute crochet coasters.  I used a cotton yarn for these, and they came together so nicely.  I'm considering making myself some now.  I used this pattern.

This little notepad organiser.  This is a go-to gift for me.  I've made dozens of them over the past few years.  Hannah's pre-school teachers got them this year too.

There is a free tutorial for these here.  I love that this one is a great scrap buster too.  My favourite part of this project is picking the fabric combos.

I also made this little patchwork zipper pouch, in which I put some gummy lollies.  Lisa said she likes Gummies, so why not!?!
I added some pizzaz by doing a little embroidery.  I've used this embroidery design lots of time before too.  It's by Melly&Me and I first did it as part of an urban stitches sewing day a year or so ago, and here is one of the other projects I used it for.  I love it as a nice little touch to a project like this.

I also decided to try some patchwork pot-holders.  Whilst my quilting skills could definitely be improved, especially through the thicker heat-resistant batting, I think they turned out cute and functional, so I hope Lisa likes them.  I first saw them here, but I did change up the design a little as I went to accommodate my questionable skills!!  Ha ha!

And of course the stocking.  I cheated a little this year by using a Christmas stocking panel fabric that I was kindly gifted by a pre-school Mum last year.  But I really liked it, so why not!  It made for a quick, yet effective sew, and I even played with some of the decorative stitches on my machine for the toe and heel pieces.  I love the main print on this one.

And that's it for another fun Christmas swap.  I'm looking forward to participating again next year.

And from me to you, lovely readers, wishing you and your loved ones the happiest of Christmases.  We'll chat again soon!

Friday 18 November 2016

A Finley and Quinn Robe for Bethany

It has been FOREVER since I last posted.  This year has gone by in a flurry of settling into our house, then unsettling again to renovate, then trying to keep up with tradesmen and the kids and all else going on.  Anyhow, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel with the renos (more about that another time), and I'm so happy to be able to spend some more time with my blog, 'cause I love chatting with you guys!

Even though the year has been crazy I've kept myself sane with plenty of crafting, and I'm loving my first ever dedicated sewing room.  I feel very spoilt in this house to have it, and I love to tuck myself away in there to escape into my own creativeness for a bit.

One of my most recent sews was this lovely Finley and Quinn robe, which I was so super-lucky to test for Heidi of Pollywoggles.  I've tested for Heidi before, and when I saw the opportunity to test this amazing pattern I just couldn't say no.  Then to be invited to join the blog tour for this one as well ... well, that just makes it all the more fun!

So, for this project I took the time to go shopping for some fabric (rather than just using something from the stash because, well, I didn't have anything suitable any excuse for some fabric shopping, right!?!)  This pattern's great 'cause it will work for loads of different fabric types from fleece to fannel to cotton, and of course some minky.   This minky was on sale at my local fabric store, and blue is Bethany's favourite colour at the moment so it was just meant to be.  And boy is this robe soft and snuggly.  It did create a little fluffy snow-storm in my sewing room as I cut it out, but it was absolutely worth it for the end result, and I would highly recommend some minky when you have a go at this pattern.

So about the pattern ... Heidi has totally nailed this one in my opinion.  The length is great for a summer or winter weight robe, and the comfy loose-fitting style will suit any kiddo and is perfect for both boys and girls.  I also loved the way the collar goes on with this robe, and that Heidi has even thought to join the belt to the robe so it doesn't get lost ... no more searching for the belt, and finding it weeks later being used as teddy's scarf in the toy-box. (hmmmm we may have had a situation like that before in our house!)  Heidi has thought of everything.  It's an easy-to-follow pattern, and is recommended for a confident beginner, which I would totally agree with.  Anyway,  Bethany loves her new robe, and Hannah has told me in no uncertain terms that she needs a new robe too!  Lucky it's heading in to summer here in Sydney right now, so I've got a bit of time up my sleeve before she'll need it, huh!
So now for the important bit ... did you know you can get this pattern for FREE!!!!  Yep, the full Finley and Quinn pattern for all the sizes (12mths to size 10), and it's ABSOLUTELY FREE.  To get yours, head over to the Pollywoggles Patterns Sewing Circle group on Facebook, (and join up if you haven't already!) and you'll find the code to use when your order the pattern.  I just can't believe how generous this is when I've seen first hand some of the hard work with creating and testing and adjusting that Heidi has done to make sure this pattern is perfect.  It's free only for the rest of the year, so don't waste any time.

Oh, and if you head to the Facebook page or the website you'll also see some great pics of robes from some of the other testers.  It's one of the reasons I love pattern testing.  The same pattern can appear so different with another person's fabric choice or style options thrown in.  Did you see Zoe's post about her Finley and Quinn Robe yesterday? ... I love this fabric choice!

And coming up in the blog tour over the next few days are: The lovely Tamara from Lunatiek, then Bieke from Biezonder, and finally Rachelle from That's Sew Venice.   So much sewing talent right there with those ladies!

Anyway, thanks so much for having me Heidi, and of such a fun sew.

I'm hoping this post marks the beginning of some more regular posting from me, but we all know how life has a way of getting in the way sometimes.  I have a few drafts in the works, and I'm hoping to share them with you all soon!

Everyone loves a snuggly, warm, soft and comfy robe