Tuesday 31 December 2013

My top 5 posts from 2013

So, as I've browsed around a few blogs today, I've been reading some great 2013 run-downs and it prompted me to have a look at my blog stats and see just what my most popular posts of 2013 have been.  By far and away, my most popular posts are tutorials, and that's thanks to some great tutorial sites that often feature my posts.  You can see their buttons down the side of the page.  So here's the run-down of my top 5:

Number 5:  My Version of a Pillowcase (Kinda!) Nightgown … Hannah's Matching (but not) PJ's.
Do you remember this one?  This is what Hannah wore to Bethany's Pyjama-themed birthday party in March this year.  I like to think this one was popular because of the cute toddler chubby knees in this picture, and those super-adorable bottom 2 teeth, but you-know, a free tutorial might have had something to do with it too!

This was a super-fun project for me.  I was gifted this fabric via a Tutorial Exchange on Totally Tutorials, and was given free-reign to create whatever I liked.  Can't argue with that really!  These have been a super popular post, and I'm still receiving messages from people about these.  Thanks lovely readers!

Considering this project was only posted a few months ago, it's really been a hit to make it to number 3 in my list of most popular.  I love this design, and have made lots of them now.  I've also made them with different colour combinations.  Oh and (A-hem … shameless plug alert!!), there's one for sale in my shop right now if you're keen.  It's a really cute jungle-themed one.  And I have a girly one ready to add to my shop really soon too … keep an eye out!!

This one was an exciting post for me for a few different reasons … I was using some absolutely beautiful fabric, that I adore … I only wish there was enough left of this for some Mummy-sized PJ's.  Also, This was a pretty detailed design for me, and I learned a lot technically while creating it.  Lastly,  and most exciting of all, was that this post resulted in my first ever contact from one of my readers with a picture of the PJ's she'd made using my tutorial.  Thanks so much Tasha!  She made some changes along the way to better suit her skills, and I think she did absolutely fabulously.  You can read all about them here.  It was enough to warm this Mummy blogger's heart!  Anyway, Bethany adores these PJ's, and whilst it's a little hot to wear them at the moment in the middle of our Aussie Summer, I made them large enough to fit next year too, so here's hoping for two seasons out of these!

And now, for Number 1 ……. drum-roll!!

You might remember that I made these using a store-bought singlet-top in time for Bethany's Pyjama-themed party.  And my readers are not the only ones who like them … I think they're one of my favs from this year too, and Bethany is still wearing them.  They're simple, cute, feminine and oh, so comfy!

Anyway, so it seems like PJ's were a major hit on my blog this year, winter, summer and pillow-case style.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, my most popular post of my blogging life to date is still the Matching Scraps post, which was my first ever tutorial.  Can you believe that!?!  Talk about beginner's luck with that one.  It continues to score lots of hits, and be "pinned" on Pinterest more than any other post to date.

Anyway, thanks for reading my ramblings, and for having a go at some of my creations.  I love, love, LOVE hearing from my readers so feel free to whisk me an email to show me what you're up to, or follow me on Facebook so we can chat more regularly.  Wishing you all a great 2014 filled with everything your heart desires, and some crafting along the way!!

Wen xx

Saturday 14 December 2013

Tutorial: What's Mummy's Mummy Up To? - She's Making Beanbags!

So, it's been a while since I was able to rope con strongly encourage my Mum into doing a post.  Remember those beautiful bags she made early this year?  Anyway, she's been working hard on some adorable handcrafted Christmas gifts for the kids of a music/playgroup she helps at, and also for some of the kids in our family.  So, over to my lovely Mum and her very first blog tutorial… this is What Mummy's Mummy has Been Up To lately …

Have you ever wondered what you can make for your grandchildren and other ‘under threes’ for Christmas?  This year I have decided to make beanbags.

Beanbags are small squares of fabric that have been sewn together and filled with something dry – I use rice, but I have heard that dried peas, dried beans, split peas, lentils, or wheat can also be used.  They provide a soft toy that can be thrown and caught, used to practice throwing into a container or ring, or used as a balance aid eg trying to walk around the room with the beanbag on your head.  They're great for gross-motor development.

By now I’m hoping you can imagine their use, so how about making some…

Here's what you need:
- Approximately 1/2 metre/yard fabric altogether.  You could use 1/4 metre of a cute fabric for the outer, and 1/4 metre of something plainer/cheaper like I've done for the lining, or you can just make the lining and outer from the same fabric.
- Dry, uncooked rice
- Coordinating thread
- Scissors or rotary-cutter and mat
- Sewing machine
- Iron

Step 1:  Choose your fabric and cut out two 5½ inch x 5 ½ inch squares. This is the size I have decided on, but if making for older children you may want to make them larger.

Step 2:  Cut out two more squares in calico as a lining (to keep your filling more securely inside).

Step 3:  Pin your squares together, placing the outer fabric right sides together, with a piece of calico on the outside of each.

Step 4:  Set your machine to a short machine stitch.  Using a ¼ inch seam, start sewing 1½” in from the bottom corner, reversing over the first few stitches.  Continue sewing around all edges, pivoting at each corner, and finishing 2” from where you started. Reverse over last few stitches to secure them.

Step 5:  If you have an overlocker, neaten the 3 fully stitched edges.  If you don’t have an overlocker, stitch around the edges of the square as before, just inside previous stitching.

Step 6:  Trim the corners (to remove bulk when turned through).  Using the opening, turn your square through so that outer fabric is now seen.  Press.

Step 7:  Using a funnel, place ½ cup of your desired filling into bag. (If your bag is larger, use slightly more filling until bag is about ½ filled.)

Step 8:  Pin opening closed.  Place an extra pin through your bag to keep filling away from seam you will be stitching. Sew your opening closed, using your small machine stitch, and stitching near the edge.

Please note:  In this design the beanbags are an ‘inside the home’ toy.  If these dry fillings get wet or are machine washed the filling would be damaged and the toy would be spoiled for future use.  To make the beanbags an ‘outside’ toy for older children you could fill them with clean sand instead of rice.

I’m going to give my beanbags as sets of 4 or 6.  For some of the children, I thought I would put their name on the beanbags by adding felt letters to the top of each bag before sewing them together. 

For the younger children (under 12 months old), I thought I might add tags to the outer edge of one bag and squeakers, rattles or cellophane paper (for the scrunchy sound) to others.  These will be filled with polyester stuffing, not rice, so that they are washable.

Happy sewing…

Now, you may have noticed that my very clever Mum has also made a matching drawstring bag for these cute beanbags.  Stay-tuned for another post from her about making these matching bags, along with some other bags too … a great tutorial coming up very soon … I think maybe my Mum is getting into this blogging thing, huh!

Oh, and Mummy's Mummy has kindly made a few extra sets of these.  They're available for purchase at a VERY reasonable price at my Etsy store.  See the "shop" tab at the top of the page.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

More Pattern Testing - The Charlotte Dress

Yep, pattern testing is still so much fun!  This is my fourth pattern test now, for two different pattern designers.  The deal is that the designer sends you a pattern, and asks for a particular size to be made (based on the available munchkins you have!), and you have a few days to sew up a storm using the pattern, then provide some pics and a feedback form.  This is so that the pattern designers can check the sizing, and also can be sure that their instructions make sense to a variety of different sewers.  In exchange for this, the testers get the pattern for free.  Can't complain about that!

So, this little number is called the Charlotte Dress, and it's from Petite Kids Boutique.  It's such a pretty little frilly number!  Hannah loved prancing around in it for these pics, and who can resist her chubby little elbows!  Bethany was very jealous that the designer only needed a size 2 tested this time.  I think I might make her one anyway though, 'cause I think it's a pretty one, don't you reckon!

You might remember this fabric from my Facebook teaser a few weeks ago.  So summery and perfect for a little feminine dress like this I think.  Oh, and this dress is super-comfy for the munchkins too, with elastic waist and neckline and the full comfy sleeves.  I was thinking it might look cute with those sleeves pulled in with some elastic too … think a peasant dress look … hmmm, might try that!!  I also think it might work in a shorter length.

Anyway, the Petite Kids Boutique patterns are super easy to follow, and well-priced too.  Hop over and check them out at their Etsy shop here.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Some Changes, and an exciting launch!

So, has anyone noticed any changes around here?  Have you?

Well, you may have noticed that my blog has had a face-lift.  I thought it was time to customise rather than just using a blogger template, pretty though they are!  So, I lovingly folded and stacked some of my absolute favourite fabrics from my stash, and had my personal photographer … cough … Daddy, take some beautiful shots of these pretties.  Here's the shot he came up with, that I then played with a little to fit neatly on the blog banner … which is your favourite fabric?  I think mine s definitely the Pink Elephant … no wait, the little farm girl (the one with the cute bunting) … no, hang on, I think it's the Babushka one at the top …. OK, I just love them all!

The second change is that I now have a Facebook page … have you seen it?  Here's the link!  If you go and "like" my page, you'll get sneak peaks on projects I'm working on, and you can tell me about things you're working on too!  Go check it out!!

Then comes the big one … drum roll ... after people suggesting to me all the time…I mean ALL THE TIME that I should start a shop to sell some hand-made goodies, I have finally taken the plunge!  Can you see my new "Shop" tab?  If you click on it, you'll go straight to my shop which I have decided to do through Etsy for now … I like the idea of starting with a site that's been around for a while, though I know there are lots of other options out there too.  I have listed just a few things to start the ball rolling, but be assured I'll be adding more over the coming days and weeks, so be sure to check back now and again.  Oh, and don't be alarmed that it's all baby stuff at the moment, bigger sizes are on their way, and there'll be more and more variety before you know it!!

Now before you get worried that this blog will become all about selling, and never about any free tutorials or anything … DON'T WORRY.  I will still be doing regular free tutorials.  I love the fact that crafty Mummy blogs can be such a poole of resource for the beginner sewer, crafter, cook, Mummy.  That's how I've managed to develop my sewing skills over the past couple of years, and how I continue to develop them now.  And I really want to continue that theme.  So, if you want to use my tutorials to make the goodies for your munchkins, or even if you want to sell goods made from my tutorials (on a small scale of course) … please do!  (All I ask is that if you sell using my designs, please, please, please just credit the design to me.  It's just common courtesy after all, and I always make every effort to pay the same courtesy for any designs I use).  BUT, if you don't have the time, energy, confidence or interest in trying to make them yourself, then this shop is for you!! 

So, why take the plunge and start selling?  Well, I LOVE to sew and create, and there's no possible way that my two munchkins can ever wear all of the stuff I make.  So instead of it sitting unworn in their closets, I figured I'd just sell on the extras.  This is particularly the case when I create a new design.  I generally make 2 or 3 of them at least so that I can check they're going to work, and to take tutorial photos.  I figure that those extras might as well go to some other munchkin who will love to wear them as much as my girls do.  Of course, there's the income from this too.  My absolute dream is that by selling a few items in my shop each month, I can fund my craft habit hobby.  I'd love to be able to go guilt-free into a fabric shop and spend up, knowing that it's not eating into our family budget, but is instead funded by the hobby itself.  Anyway, that's the aim!

So, go have a browse, let me know what you think of my new look, and of my shop … enjoy!

Oh, and stay tuned for another instalment of "What's Mummy's Mummy Up To", coming VERY soon.  My mum has been working hard, and this time she's done a tutorial too!!  Just perfect for a Christmas gift for some lucky little people!!

Sunday 24 November 2013

Tutorial - Elephant Skirt with Secret Pockets …Shhhhh!

I found this gorgeous elephant fabric at Spotlight, when I was there to get something else of course … yep I can never ever leave that place without something extra!  Anyway I fell instantly in love with it … like TOTALLY besotted … I might have bought it in 3 different colours … yikes … don't tell Daddy OK!

Anyway, I had some cute boy outfits in mind for the navy blue one for my gorgeous new little nephew.  And this salmon-pink elephant print?  Well I decided to stash it until I had a brain-wave.  Then one day as I was reading a post on one of my favourite sewing Mummy blogs, I saw a post about piping, and how it can change the look of a piece entirely.  My mind went crazy and I decided that piping is EXACTLY what this fabric needed.  And with that inspiration, I came up with this design for the Elephant Skirt for Bethany.  

She needed She wanted … OK, OK, Mummy wanted to make a little tiered skirt with a more fitted-style top tier, so the lower tier poofs out in a feminine, flowy, comfy way … do you know what I mean?  Then part way through the sewing process I thought … why not try out another new technique?  I decided to try my hand at inserting invisible pockets into the side-seams … for collecting secret treasures of course.   What do you think? … You can just see the opening of the pocket in this pic.

Of course, once an idea works … it actually worked!! … I can never stop at just one, so I decided to use some of the navy-blue Elephant fabric to make a matching (but not) skirt for Hannah.  Don't worry, there was plenty left for a cute little outfit for my nephew, as well as a few other things! And don't you just love little girls in Navy and pink!  This is an absolutely timeless colour match to my way of thinking!

As I made Hannah's I snapped some pics so I could share it with all of you … just in case you want Elephant skirts too!

So, here's what you need:
- 1 metre/yard fabric … this is a medium weight woven fabric.
- 1 metre/yard coordinating piping
- 1"-wide elastic … enough to fit round your munchkin's waist, plus 1" for overlapping
- Scissors or Cutting Mat and Rotary Cutter
- Sewing machine and coordinating thread

If you want to make a matching singlet, onsie or T-shirt, you just need:
- A store-bought singlet / onsie / t-shirt
- Some scraps of fabric
- A button-covering kit

How to make it:

1.  Firstly is the math bit, and I promise it's the hardest part … once it's done, the skirt will come together really quickly … just bear with it!
So ...
- Measure your child's waist … Hannah's is 19".  
- Measure the length you want the skirt to be (waist to knee) and add 2".  Hannah's waist to knee is 10", plus 2 = 12". 

- Now for the top tier:  Width = (1/3 x waist) + waist.  So Hannah's was (1/3 x 19") + 19" = 25.3"
                                    Length = A little under half the total skirt length. Hannah's top tier was 5" long

- Now for the bottom tier: Width = 2 x waist.  So Hannah's was 2 x 19" = 38"
                                         Length = A little over half the total skirt length.  Hannah's was 7" long.

2.  Once you've done your calculations, go ahead and cut out your two skirt pieces.  You'll end up with 2 rectangles of fabric.  For Hannah's we had 1 rectangle (top tier)  25.3" x 5", and the other (bottom tier) 38" x 7".

Then, so that you've got side-seams to insert your pockets into, fold each of the rectangles in half long ways, and cut them along the fold so you end up with 4 pieces like this …
3.  Grab your bottom tier pieces (the bigger ones!). Set your sewing machine's stitch length to the longest stitch (mine is Number 6), and stitch a gathering row of stitching 1/4" from the edge of the top edge of each piece.  It will start to gather a little as you sew it, and that's fine!  Remember not to back stitch at the beginning and end!

4. Line up this gathered edge along the bottom edge of your top tier pieces.  Pull EITHER the top or bottom thread from your gathering stitches until the gathered edge is the same width as the top tier piece, then move the gathers along to even them out.

5. Place the gathered edge and the bottom edge of the top tier piece right sides together.  Grab your piping, and sandwich it between the 2 pieces, with the piping raw edge (the edge without the rope in it) matching with your fabric edges…like so….  Pin it well to hold all the layers in place.

6.  Put your sewing machine stitch back to normal length … I usually have mine on 3 … then sew carefully to join the 3 layers.  Do your best to sew right next to the piping "bump".  You can use a zipper foot to help you get closer if you want to, but to be honest, I'm a bit lazy for that, and just try to get as close as I can with my regular foot.  Then finish the raw edges with an overlocker (serger) or by doing a zig-zag stitch along the edge.

Then repeat steps 4-6 with the other top and bottom tier pieces. It's a good idea to iron them at this point.

7.  Now you have a skirt front and back.  This is where I decided to add the pockets.  If you don't want pockets simply place your skirt pieces right sides together, and sew down the side-seams, and finish off the raw edges, then skip to Step 13.  

If you're brave enough to give the pockets a go, grab a piece of tracing paper … I used some brown paper I had lying around.  Draw free-hand a shape like this.  You want it to be big enough for your munchkin to get their hand in at the straight edge.  You can see here that for this 18month size, I made the opening 3 1/2".  In hindsight, I probably could have made it a little larger, so go at least 4", and even a bit larger if you're making this for a bigger munchkin.

8.  Place this pattern on to your fabric and cut 2 pieces, then flip your pattern over to the wrong side, and cut two more pieces.  Match up each piece with it's mirror image.

9.  Grab your skirt pieces and measure half way down the top tier on each piece, then pin a pocket piece in at that point, right sides together, along the straight side.  You want to make sure you picked a piece that sits in the correct direction … see pic below!  Repeat with each pocket piece on each side of each skirt piece.  Tip: Make sure you measure down accurately each time otherwise your pockets won't match up properly when you go to sew them together later.  

10. Stitch down the straight edge of each pocket piece using a 1/4" seam to attach them to the skirt pieces, then finish just that part of the side-seam with your overlocker (serger) or zig-zag stitch. 

11.  Flip your pockets out, then place back and front skirt pieces right sides together.  Pin down the side seam to the pocket, then around the pocket, then down the rest of the side-seam, like this.

12.  Sew along your pinned lines.  When you get to the beginning and end of the pockets, stop sewing, lower the needle manually, then lift the foot and pivot the fabric around to make a nice clean corner.  Put the foot back down and continue sewing.  Then finish the edges with overlocker (serger) or zig zag.  it can be a little tricky with the overlocker on the corners, but just do the best you can by taking it slowly around the corners.

13.  Turn the skirt right-side-out, and admire your work for a second …. or two!  Ok, now finish the top raw edge and the bottom raw edge with your overlocker (serger) or zigzag.

14.  Turn the top waistband down 1 1/4" and iron, then pin in place.  Sew around, making sure you leave a gap of at least 1" in the back to thread your elastic.  I usually mark my opening with pins so I don't accidentally sew right on through!

15. Cut your elastic to your munchkin's waist measurement + 1 inch for overlapping.  So Hannah's was 19"+1= 20".  Using a safety pin, thread your elastic through the waistband, then over-lap the edges about 1/2" and sew them together using a zig-zag stitch.

16.  Insert your tag into the gap you left in the waistband if you're using one, or maybe a piece of ribbon so your munchkin knows which is the back (not that it really matters 'cause in this design the back and front are identical, but it is a nice touch), then sew it closed.

17.  Next turn your bottom hem up 1/2" and iron, then pin in place.  Sew around to finish the hem.

Ta-Daa!  You're done, and ready for some balancing on a piece of string … Do you remember that kid's song … "3 grey elephants balancing, step by step on a piece of string" … and so on … wow that song it totally stuck in my head now!  Oh well!!

 Now, for the singlet … I simply used a store-bought singlet, used a button-covering kit to cover some 3/4" buttons with the fabric scraps (trying to line it up so an elephant was on the front of each button), ironed a small circle-shaped piece of iron-on interfacing to the back side of the singlet as a reinforcement, then hand-sewed the buttons on.  For Hannah's I did just one button, but for Bethany's slightly larger singlet, I did a cluster of 3.  Looks cute I think!

 Hope you and your munchkins enjoy this little skirt as much as we do!  I'd love to see any pics if you make one … just drop me an email anytime!

Make It and Love It