Friday 25 October 2013

Can you believe people make stuff from my blog!?!

I've been blogging for over a year now, and I'm loving it.  I love that I get to share design ideas that I have, I love that I get to document my journey of learning to sew and craft and create, and I absolutely love it when people care to actually read my ravings.

But, this takes the cake … when someone who I don't know, from the other side of the world contacts me to share what they have made using my design.  How fantastic is that!!! *Happy Dance*

The lovely Tasha emailed me a few weeks ago to share the absolutely mind-blowingly gorgeous Winter PJ's she made for her little girl using my tutorial.  Aren't they awesome ….

What's also awesome about this is that Tasha tells me she was feeling somewhat nervous and unsure about doing buttonholes, so she changed up the design to better suit her skills … she put the opening of the bodice at the back instead of the front, and used a tutorial from another blog (a blog which I LOVE) to help her learn to use a button and loop to close the opening at the back.  What great thinking, and isn't that the fabulous part about sewing … if you don't like or feel confident with something, you just change it up!

So thanks so much Tasha for emailing me, and chatting about our super-old sewing machines and how they're special 'cause they've been passed down to us from other special ladies in our lives.  And thank you also for letting me share your beautiful project here.

Has anyone else made anything using one of my tutorials.  I have managed to post 15 sewing/crochet tutorials so far. I would absolutely love to hear if you have made one of them. So drop me an email any time, and send me a pic if you can!  I might even do a post to showcase them if I get enough responses!

Friday 18 October 2013

Tutorial: Baby Change-Mat Clutch

So you might remember when I made my Change Mat for Little Bots, which essentially was a padded change-mat with some pockets and a fold out flap.  The idea was to roll it, tie it and store it in the nappy bag or under that pram for easy gathering of all nappy-change supplies in one neat roll.  I used mine an absolute tonne when Hannah was a baby.  Now that she's bigger though, I was finding that having the roll in my bag was a little cumbersome for something I wasn't really using all that often, and I was well and truly ready to ditch the nappy bag and go for more of a handbag ... albeit a big one to hold all of those Mummy necessities.  I found a beautiful Cath Kidston Handbag (do you like it??), then I started to ponder ... 

Then, one day as I was looking through my past sewing projects, I remembered the little envelope-style pouch I made to hold the Matching Scraps matching game.  My mind started going, and this is what resulted ... an envelope-style, change-mat clutch, that still has space for a pack of wipes and a couple of nappies, but will still fit neatly in my bag.  It's also fully washable and is a lot more slim-line than my change-mat  roll.  Actually, to be honest, I haven't even made one of these for me yet ... I've had a run of new babies being born to friends and family, so I've made 2 as gifts so far.  By the time I get round to it, Hannah will probably be out of nappies! 

Wanna make one?  Here's what you need:

- 1 yard (metre) of fabric for the inside, and 1 yard of coordinating fabric for the outside. (If you use coordinating fabrics, this will be enough to make 2 of these.  If you want to make the inside and outside from the same fabric, you will have enough fabric with just 1 yard for 1 of these.)
- 1 yard (metre) fusible interfacing 
- Small piece of velcro, or a velcro dot (1 inch) - I use the sticky-backed one - it stays still while sewing!
- Iron
- Chalk or a tailor's pencil
- Sewing Machine
- Thread
- Scissors

How to do it:

I chose these 2 quilting weight cotton fabrics!

1.  Cut a rectangle out of each fabric, each being 24" x 19 1/2".  I used my rotary cutter and mat for this as I find it a bit easier to cut straight with the rotary cutter and ruler for such long sides.  Then iron them so they're completely wrinkle-free.

2.  On the right side of the outer fabric, measure 10" from the top edge, in the middle, and stick down then sew one side of your velcro.  To sew this down, I generally use a small zig-zag stitch, and sew around the edge, then also sew along the diagonals of the rectangle just to make sure it's secure.  I also use the sticky-backed velcro 'cause it's much easier to sew this on when it's stuck in place.

3.  Grab your fusible interfacing ... I bought mine in a roll pack like this.  It is just a light-weight interfacing.  Be sure to get the iron-on one, not the sew-on one!  Cut out 2 rectangles of interfacing that are 1 inch smaller in each direction than your fabric rectangles (ie 23" x 18.5").

4.  Iron the interfacing to the wrong side of each of your fabric rectangles.  Be sure to take your time and get it all perfectly flat without will look much nicer that way!

5.  Place your 2 fabric rectangles right-sides-together.  Start approximately 3/4 of the way along one of the  short sides, and sew around all 4 edges of the rectangles to join them together, using a 1/4" seam allowance.  When you get back to the top edge where you started, only sew along about 1/4 of the way.  This way, you will have a gap of a little more than 10" in the top centre of the change-mat.  Also, be sure to pivot at each corner (lower the needle, lift the sewing machine foot, turn the fabric, lower the foot then keep sewing) so that you get nice clean corners.

6.  Clip the corners off close to the stitch line, but not cutting any stitches.

7.  Use the gap in the top to turn your change-mat through, right-sides-out.  Use something pointy but not too sharp (I used a pen with it's lid on!) to poke each of the corners out so you have nice sharp corners.  Then turn the raw edges of the gap over 1/4 inch and press them with the iron ... like so ...

8.  Now for the envelope part ... cut 2 rectangles from one of your fabrics 10" x 5" (I used the inner fabric, so that it would contrast with the outer when it's closed!).

9.  Fold your rectangle in half and iron a crease down the centre like so ....

10.  Use a ruler and chalk to mark then cut with scissors, or alternatively just use a rotary cutter and ruler to cut a line from the top of the centre fold you just made to the bottom corner on each side, making a triangle.  Like so ...
... Repeat for the other rectangle, so you're left with 2 matching triangles.

11.  Measure vertically down 1 inch from the tip of the triangle, and stick then sew (with a zig-zag stitch as before) the other part of your velcro ... like so!

12.  Place your triangles right-sides-together, then sew around the diagonal lines using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, then clip the top corner close to the stitching, but not cutting any stitches.
Turn your triangle through to right-side-out, and use your pointy "something" to poke the corner out all nice and pointy!

13. Insert the raw edges of your triangle into the gap at the top of the change-mat.  Push it in approximately 1/2", then pin it in place.  Make sure the side with the velcro is facing the inside of the change-mat.

14. Topstitch around the entire change mat, 1/8" from the edge, starting at a corner and ending at the same corner.  As you top-stitch along the top edge, you will be closing the gap, and holding the envelope flap in place.

15.  Measure 4" along along the top edge, and using a long ruler draw a vertical line down the length of the change-mat ... like so ...
...then repeat on the other side, 4" from the other side.  Then sew down each of these lines from the top of the change-mat to the bottom.  This stitch-line makes folding the change-mat a bit easier.

And ... you're finished!

Now, here's how you store your nappies and wipes and fold the change mat ...

Place the wipes and nappies in a neat stack between the sewn lines on the open mat, 
then fold up the bottom of the mat to cover them.

Fold in the sides, along the sewn lines.

Neatly fold the bottom part (with the wipes and nappies inside) 
up and over and over until they reach the top of the mat.

Like so ... 

Fold the flap down and secure your velcro.

All done, and ready to use ... or gift!  I made this one for my beautiful friend who just had her first little baby, and I coupled it with a with a little dolly from the girl. Inspired. doll pattern ... I seriously love this pattern!

If you make one of these, I'd love to see ... so feel free to drop me an email any time!  I'm always up for a chat!

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Pattern Testing Fun

I recently volunteered to do a pattern test for Petite Kids Boutique.  There was a call for testers on Facebook, and although I've seen such call-outs before, I've never been brave enough to have a go, and was worried my sewing wouldn't be good enough.  

Anyway, after all the sewing I've been doing lately I felt brave for a challenge and volunteered.  I was so excited when I was contacted and asked to make the 18 month size in this Tiffany Dress PDF pattern.

Hannah generally wears an 18 month size, and her measurements seemed to match the measurements given on the pattern, but seriously, could this little dress fit her any better?  It's like it was designed for her.  Initially I wasn't sure about the red and white polka dot ... thought it might be too much, but now that the dress is finished, I love it.

And what was even more exciting than my first ever pattern testing experience, was that Wong from Petite Kids Boutique liked my little dress and my photos so much that she contacted me and asked if I would mind if she used my pics on the pattern sale listing.  How amazing is that!?!

A week or so later, Petite Kids Boutique put out another call for pattern testers ... this time for a skirt ... the Isla skirt.  I was keen to have another go, and here's the skirt I made ... again in the 18 month size.  The Isla skirt pattern has just been released ... here it is!

I think I may have found a new career ... pattern testing is so much fun!!  Pity it doesn't pay, huh!

And Hannah is definitely loving the modelling ... she'll say "Hannah wear pretties?" whenever she sees some new sewing, and there's no stopping her (or Mummy) then!

Oh, and I think the garden likes it too!

Friday 4 October 2013

Review: Sydney Harbour Tall Ships Family Pirate Lunch Cruise

My home city of Sydney is abuzz at the moment with the International Fleet Review happening 3-11 October.  This is celebrating the Australian Navy's arrival in Sydney Harbour on 4 October 1913. There have been arrivals of international Navy boats (I heard on TV that there are navy ships from 17 nations so far!), a Festival of Tall Ships, Fly-overs, fireworks and even Prince Harry is visting Sydney this weekend.  It's a BIG deal!

So, when Rochelle of WordStorm contacted me a few weeks ago and asked if we would like to go on a Harbour Cruise on one of the Sydney Tall Ships, the answer was a resounding yes.  Especially seeing as Sydney Tall Ships offers a Family Pirate Cruise, and the idea of taking in the breathtaking views of our beautiful harbour, while providing piratey (I just made that into a word) fun for the kids is just my cup-of-tea.

Now wouldn't you know it, that the day before our cruise (which we were very excited about) we all came down with a nasty flu.  We tried to decide whether or not to take our sluggish, sniffly kids and equally as sluggish Mummy and Daddy out on the day or not, but in the end we decided that a harbour cruise might just be what the doctor ordered, and that a day out of the house and with some fresh air would do us all some good.
So yesterday morning, we packed our Panadol, throat lollies, tissues, nose spray, sea sick tablets and more tissues, and off we went to gorgeously sun-drenched Circular Quay to board our pirate ship, the Southern Swan.  She's an absolute beauty of a ship, (built in 1922 in Denmark and originally named Our Svanen) with all of that tall ship charm. 

As we, the pirates, boarded our ship, we were informed that we had to eat an ice-cream to trick the captain of the boat into believing we were just tourists, so that he wouldn't suspect we were planning a takeover of the ship to steal the captain's gold.  Oh, OK ... any excuse for an ice-cream I guess! So, munching on our ice-creams, we climbed aboard.  As we set sail, the kids were encouraged to take some chalk and draw pictures of things they were seeing on the decks. 

The kids were then invited to the front of the boat, where the pirate-i-ness (yep, I made that word up too!) was revealed to the captain with lots of "Yo-Ho-Ho"'s, the pirate flag was raised and the kids were herded down into the lower-deck to find the "captain's gold" (and play some games), before lunch was served.  During this time, some brave adults also participated in a mast-climb ... yeah, I was happy sitting on the deck ... the view was just fine from there, thanks!!

Unfortunately, a little boat visit from our friendly maritime police resulted in a quick take-down of our pirate flag, and the signage on the outside of our ship, as apparently with the International Fleet Review being a "non-commercial" event, any advertising or signage is strictly not-allowed ... whoops!  It did make for a bit of excitement though, and the staff were very professional, quickly did as they were told, and then continued with the fun onboard.  No harm done!

Meanwhile, the adults (and 2 sluggish, sniffly kids) lazed in the beautiful sunshine on the upper deck, enjoyed a drink from the open bar and generally enjoyed the scenery ... and boy ... what scenery! It really was super-relaxing, and Hannah even caught some much needed zzz's on Mummy's lap as the waves gently rocked her back and forth.  

Here's a few gems from our beautiful morning on the harbour.
The Sydney Opera House.

Admiralty House.

We were lucky enough to see a fly-over as part of the International Fleet Review celebrations.

Naval Ships preparing for the festivities.

Luna Park

The Sydney Harbour Bridge

Going under the bridge.

Oh, and the kids were encouraged to dress up all pirate-like too.  Our kids weren't into the dress-up spirit on that day unfortunately due to our untimely lurgy, but here is an amazing little pirate enjoying the sites.

Sydney Tall Ships offers this Family Pirate Cruise and many other brunch, lunch and dinner cruises, so be sure to check them out.  I reckon it would make an awesome gift for a special occasion!  And cruising on a tall ship has got to be one of the most relaxing ways to enjoy the scenery of our harbour!  If you can make it during this week of the International Fleet Review, I would highly recommend this front-row seat option to all the action!!  If not, any day is a beautiful day on our Harbour!
This post is with thanks to Rochelle of WordStorm who provided us with a Family Pass to attend the Family Pirate Lunch Cruise.  All opinions are my own.