Saturday 24 May 2014

Baby gifts - Because they're just plain fun!

I love a good baby-shower ... well, any excuse for putting together a little gift of teeny-tiny cuteness, huh!  I know I'm biased, but I especially love teeny-tiny goodness for little GIRL babies.

So, when my sister-in-law's sister .... (what do I call her, there's got to be a better name than "sister-in-law's sister" ... does anyone know?)  Anyway, she's a lovely, and when she invited me to join her for her special baby shower earlier this year, I was stoked.  As my mind often does these days, it went straight to ... ohhhh, what can I make?

Now, I have been coveting this absolutely adorable babushka fabric for the longest time, just waiting for the perfect project.  Nothing had seemed cute enough to warrant cutting in to this beauty.  Anyone who has known me for more than 5 minutes knows that I love babushkas, and although my heart breaks to admit it, I think Bethany is getting a little old for babushkas, now that she's 6 and all *sobs uncontrollably*.  Anyway, when pondering something cute for this new little person I couldn't resist the teeniest tiniest little pair of bubble shorts ever made, and the look was completed with a matching teeny tiny appliqued singlet.  Given this bub was born in the height of the summer heat, I thought these would be practical as well as cute for her.

I used the MADE Kid Shorts pattern, which I purchased a while ago, and I love.  The only problem is that the pattern starts at a size 12-months, and obviously this gift was for a newborn.  So, I fiddled a little with the measurements (basically just removed the seam allowance all the way around), and cut the waist elastic a little smaller to fit a newborn.  To pretty them up a little I also added an extra row of stitching at the waistband to make a small ruffle at the top, then used 1/2" elastic instead of 1" elastic in the waist.  This is the same way I did the waist band for Bethany's Princess PJ's last year. 
Then, and because there's really nothing cuter than newborn chubby thighs, I inserted a little piece of 1/8" elastic into the hems of the short to make them bubble-style.  I then grabbed a little Bonds baby singlet, cut out one of the tiny babushkas and appliqu├ęd it to the front.  I was super happy with how these turned out, and I think the Mummy-to-be liked them too!

Then, with how super-quick the first project was, I decided to knock together a girl-toned version of my Baby Change-mat Clutch.  Not bad in the brighter girly colours, hey! Oh, and a little tip .... if you're making one of these change mats, make 2.  You can get 2 out of a yard of each fabric.  And boy I'm glad I did, because before I knew it another friend had a tiny baby girl, and sitting right there was the perfect gift!  

Anyway, I had so much fun putting this gift together, and I thought someone else might be interested in a similar gift, so I've added a babushka outfit and a girly-coloured change mat clutch to my Etsy shop.  Take a look ... 

Oh and if you were shocked at the postage rates last time you looked at the shop ... Australia Post really is ridiculously expensive ... I did a little more research and found a cheaper way to send things, so you should be pleasantly surprised at the MUCH more reasonable postage rates ... still Australia Post, but just packaged a little more economically.

Sunday 18 May 2014

Tutorial: Disco Diva Skirt

How much fun are kid's birthday parties? .... I know, I know, there's a tonne of them to get to, and it's tricky to choose a present, especially when you're not all that familiar with the kid or their family, and, well, there's a tonne of them to get to ... but what I love is seeing how creative people are with their party ideas, and how excited the kids are to be invited.  Bethany was recently invited to a little school friend's party and the theme was Disco!  Ohhhhh .... I just couldn't resist .... so when Spotlight literally fell on top of me one day and forced me to buy fabric ... it's true, it really happened ... I went a-huntin' for some disco'esque fabric.
I found this cute black and silver sparkly number in the "dance fabrics" section.  I'm not entirely sure what it is, to be honest, but it has a stretch in one direction, the sparkles are printed on one side, and the back is plain black ... it's Fairly light-weight and almost feels like lycra, but not as stretchy as that ... anyone know what it is?  Anyway, I loved it and started designing a little skirt right there in my mind.  I also grabbed some 1 1/2" wide black elastic, and off home I went.
This is how it turned out, and Bethany was so excited to have a "sparkly" skirt.  It's getting a little chilly here in Sydney now, and on the day of the party it was absolutely freezing, so we coupled the skirt with some tights and boots, and a long-sleeve tee.  Photo-shoot day was a little warmer, so we ditched the tights and added a short-sleeve tee.  I think it works both ways.

Anyway, seeing as this was such a simple yet effective design, I thought I'd share in case you want to make one too.  
Oh, and I made an extra Disco Diva Skirt so that I could take pics for this tutorial.  This one's approximately a size 2/2T (it fits Hannah) for a waist size of 16 1/2".  Do you want it?  There's only one, so first in gets it ... Take a look at My Shop for a bargain Disco Diva Skirt for the little Diva in your life.

But, if you're looking to sew it yourself, here's what you need:

- 1/2 metre / yard "sparkly" fabric - check out the "dance fabric" section of your local fabric shop or online to see what you can find.  Try to get one that's a little stretchy in one or both directions.
- 1 1/2" elastic - enough to fit your munchkin's waist, plus another inch for joining.
- Coordinating thread
- Scissors or rotary-cutter and cutting mat
- Sewing machine.

The How To:

1.  Measure your munchkin's waist - Bethany, who's 6, has a waist measurement of 22".  Multiply this figure by 1.5.  So for Bethany, it is 33".

2.  Measure the length from your munchkin's waist (where you want the skirt to sit) to the bottom of the knee - for Bethany this is 14".  No need to add any extra length for seam allowance or hem, because the elastic will add some length.

3.  Cut your fabric, (with the stretch running horizontally across the skirt) into a rectangle measuring (Waist x 1.5) x length.  So for Bethany, the rectangle was 33" x 14", with the stretch running horizontally across the long edge.  The fold this rectangle in half, with and cut to make a front and a back piece like so.

4.  Place your front and back pieces right side together and sew down each side seam, using a 1/4" seam allowance.  If you like, you can finish the raw edge with your overlocker (serger).  It's not necessary for non-fraying fabrics, but if you're like me and love to use your overlocker, go for it!!

5.  Decide which is the bottom of the skirt ... it won't matter if your fabric print is non-directional like mine.  Turn a 1/2" hem, then turn another 1/2" and pin all the way around.  Sew the hem around.  If your fabric is super stretchy, you might want to use a twin-needle, or even use a zig-zag stitch.  I didn't think mine was stretchy enough to need that, so just went with my normal straight stitch ... there's been no issues with the hem so far, so I think that choice was OK for this particular fabric.

6.  Now, cut your elastic to the waist measurement plus 1".  For Bethany's this was 22"+1=23".  Join your elastic to form a circle like so.  I folded each end of the elastic under 1/4", then tucked in to each other ... hopefully this photo is clear-ish - then I simply sewed, using my machine, 2 rows of stitching through all the layers across the 1 1/2" width to hold it all together.  I'm sure there's a million ways of joining this kind of elastic waist-band, so just go with what you know.

7.  Once your elastic is joined, measure 4 equal points around, and place a pin in each spot.  The grab your skirt pieces and place a pin at each side-seam, and half way along the front and back at the top raw edge.

8.  Then, put your skirt piece inside your elastic waistband, and match the raw edge of the skirt top with the top edge of the elastic.  Match up the pin markers on your elastic with the ones on your skirt and pin the skirt to the elastic in these spots.

9.  Sew around the top edge of the skirt/elastic, using a 1/4" seam allowance, and stretching the elastic  gently as you sew so that you make it to the next pin without any gathers.  Once you've sewn all around, you'll see that the elastic naturally and evenly gathers the skirt to the waistband.  I love this method, and think it's got to be one of the easiest ways to make a skirt!

And your done .... 

Now, what to do with your left-over sparkly fabric?? ... girls love to sparkle after all.  Well, how about my version of the Sequined Raglan Tunic Top from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom.  I mean, who doesn't love a free pattern, and this one sewed up so quickly and easily ... Bethany LOVES it, and I think I can see a few more of these tops in my future for this winter ... sparkly or not!
Or, maybe some sparkly leggings ... Too cute for words.  I made these in the same way I made my Sweat Pant Leggings last winter, except just turned a basic hem instead of adding a cuff.

Hannah was "Jumping, Jumping" for these photos ... she loves her "sparkly pants".  Someone tell me how to pause time ... this one is growing up WAAAAAY too fast at the moment!

 Anyway, hope you enjoy your Disco-Diva project as much as I did.  I'd love to see your creations if you make a skirt, or even some cute leggings like these .... email me a pic if you like!

Make It and Love It

Sunday 4 May 2014

Tutorial - Envelope-style Nappy/Diaper Holder

Does anyone else find that their nappy/diaper bag needs/wants/style changes from the first baby, to the second and beyond?  Well I certainly have.  When Bethany was born I carried a huge nappy bag around with me, but I could never find what I wanted at any given time.  So when Hannah was born, I made myself a Change Mat for Little Bots, and carried this around, neatly stored at one end of my nappy bag.  Before long though, as Hannah became a little bigger and didn't need as many changes of clothes, I decided I wanted to stop carrying my nappy-bag, and go back to a large handbag.  I still needed nappy-changing gear though, so I designed the Change-Mat Clutch.  I love this design, and it's been one of my most popular tutorials.  Before I even got round to making one for myself though (I made lots for friends as gifts), I decided that I really didn't need a change-mat anymore, but rather just some kind of pouch to keep nappies and wipes at easy reach whenever they were needed.  So a little bit of Pinterest-searching later, I found this amazing tutorial/design for a Diaper Pouch on Noodle-head (one of my favourite blogs).  This is how mine turned out... 
(Oh, and do you recognise the fabric ... it was the left over bits from my Little Birdie Pinafore ... I had been holding onto those scraps for just the right project ... love this fabric!)

So I've been using this pouch for over a year now, and I love that it's small enough to fit in a handbag (albeit a BIG handbag) and that whether it's a nappy-change or just some sticky fingers, nappies and wipes are never far from reach.  It's also been great for Daddy.  If he's taking Hannah out by himself, he can simply grab the pouch and off he goes.  I've made this pouch as gifts for a few people, and everyone who sees it thinks it's such a good idea.
What I did find though was that as Hannah grew (and so did her nappy size), the pouch became a little bit of a tight squeeze, especially for taking a whole day's-worth of nappies out.  Also, with the strap closure which leaves gaps at either side, I found that any small items like a little tub of nappy-rash cream would often fall out and be lost in the black hole of my handbag ... never to be seen again!

So, when one of the Mums from school saw my noddle-head pouch and said she'd love a nappy pouch too, I offered to make her one (like, as if I can ever say no to a chance to sew something!).  I thought I'd  take the chance to tweak and change the design.  If I'm honest, I really just wanted any excuse to create a new design!!!  I tell you, I'm addicted ... hmmmm .... anyway ... There are a few differences between the Noodle-Head pouch and mine ... my pouch is a little larger, and can easily fit 3 toddler nappies and a flat-pack of wipes like the one in the pic above.  That's enough for a day out at Hannah's age.  I also changed the way the lining works 'cause I didn't want the rim of lining-fabric around the top edge, and I changed the closure to stop things falling out so easily.  It's an envelope style, very similar to the envelope closure on the Change-Mat Clutch.  I also added a stripe on top of the main fabric, instead of cutting the outer fabrics to fit.  For me it was just a little simpler that way.

And here's the one I made for the Mum from school ... I used this fabric-choice as I thought it was pretty, but neutral, and I liked the idea of using "Mummy-style" fabric instead of a kid's fabric ... considering it lives in Mummy's bag and all! 

As always I love to be able to share how I've made things in case you want to make one too.  So there's a tutorial below.  And, I have made a couple of extras of these, one the same as the one above, and the other in a cute animal-print like the one at the top of this post.  I have listed them just now for sale at my shop, so if you'd rather just buy one, feel free to head over and take a look! I think they'd make a gorgeous baby-shower gift!

To Make One You'll Need:
- Fabric for the outer, and a coordinating fabric for the lining (I used a quilting-weight cotton).  A fat quarter of each would be enough.
- Light-weight quilt batting (or if you want to cheat like me, I just used a piece of fleece fabric). A fat quarter will be plenty
- Small piece (about 1") of velcro (I prefer the sticky-backed one so it stays still while you sew it)
- Ruler, scissors (or cutting mat and rotary cutter)
- Sewing machine and coordinating cotton

How to:
Oh, and I apologise in advance for my VERY messy cutting mat in the pics below ... I have been cutting fleece ... can you tell?  It needs a good clean now!

Use a 1/4" seam allowance throughout unless otherwise stated!

1.  First we'll cut out the envelope closure flap.  Cut a square measuring 9" x 9" (WxH) from both the lining and outer fabrics ... like so ...
2. Measure along the top edge of both rectangles and mark the mid-point with a pen/pencil, then measure down each side and mark the mid-point ... like so ... (Note: Ignore the measurements in the photo below ... this was an earlier trial and needed to be a bit larger).

3.  On the outer piece, line up your ruler edge at the top marking, and one side like so and cut to make the envelope shape ...

... and repeat for the other side so you have a nice envelope shape, and repeat this process for the lining piece.

4.  Now we'll cut the rest of the pieces.  You want:
- 2 rectangles of outer fabric, and 2 rectangles of lining fabric, all measuring 9"x10 1/2" (WxH)
- 2 rectangles of batting (or fleece if you're cheating like me) measuring 9"x10 1/2" (WxH)
- 2 rectangles of lining fabric for the stripe measuring 9"x3" (WxH)
Note: In this pic, the matching pieces are stacked on top 
of each other so it looks like there's only one.  You need 2 of each piece.

5. Take your lining piece of the envelope and stick one side of the velcro approximately 1 inch from the point.  Centre it as best you can (you really just want to make sure that there is plenty of room for your seam allowance either side of it).  
Then sew carefully around the edge of the velcro, backstitching at the beginning and end to make it more secure. I usually like to sew a square, then a diagonal line across the middle like this...nice and secure!  There's nothing worse than velcro coming off mid-use. (And as you can see from the sticth markings, I may have forgotten to sew the velcro on and had to unpick to put it on ... whoops!)

6.  Place the envelope outer and lining right sides together and sew the 2 sides and the envelope peak, leave the bottom straight edge open for tuning.  Then snip the point off, as close to the stitching as you dare to help you get a clean point when you turn it through.  Also snip the other two side-corners in this same way.

7.  Turn the envelope closure right-side-out, and use a pencil or something pointy-but-not-too-sharp to poke those corners out as sharply as you can.  Then iron the whole piece flat.

8.  Now grab your stripe pieces, and while the iron's still hot, iron each long edge under 1/4" like so ...

9.  Grab your two outer rectangles, and pin the stripes in place (with the folded edges tucked under).  I sewed mine about 4 1/2" from the top.  You can do wahtever you prefer, but just remember to measure each piece accurately because you really want the stripes to match up at the sides.
... then top-stitch 1/8" from each edge of the stripe like so to hold it in place.

10.  Choose one outer piece to be your front, and measure 2" from the top, at the centre and stick the other half of your velcro, then stitch it in place the same way you did the first piece.

11.  Take your 2 lining rectangles, place them right sides together and sew up both long sides, and along one short edge ... BUT ... leave a 3" gap in the short edge.  You will use this for turning the whole thing right-side-out, so I would suggest backstitching at each side of the gap to make it a bit stronger.
Leave the other short edge open.

12.  Baste the batting/fleece/whatever to the wrong side of each of your outer pieces using a 1/8" seam allowance ...
... then place each of your outer pieces right sides together and pint them in place ... this is the time to make sure your stripes match up perfectly at the sides.  Then sew down one side, across the bottom and up the other side, leaving the top open.
13.  To box the corners, just fold each corner so that the side seam is touching the base seam and pinch.  Place a pin 1 1/2" in from the corner, and sew a straight line across at this line.
... it will look like this once you've done both sides.
... then using sharp scissors, cut the corner flaps off, approximately 1/4" from your sewing line.
 ... then repeat with the lining pieces, at the same end as the 3" opening like this ...

14.  Turn the outer pieces right-side-out and slip the outer pouch inside the lining pouch, like so ...
 ... then insert the envelope flap piece in between the outer and the lining, with the point pointing down, and the raw edge matching up with the raw edge of the pouch pieces.  You'll need to make sure you insert the envelope piece on correct side so the velcro pieces match.  The envelope piece needs to be inserted at the BACK side of the pouch (ie, the side of the pouch without the velcro), and make sure it's facing the correct way... lining to lining, outer to outer. 

15.  Line up the side seams of the outer and lining pieces, then pin around the top joining the outer to the lining, and making sure to catch in the envelope raw edge.
... then sew in place 1/4" from the edge.  Take it slowly and carefully at this stage ... this is probably the trickiest part!

16.  Now, opening up the 3" opening in the lining, grab hold of the outer and pull it through, turning both the lining and the outer right-side-out.
... The envelope flap will now also be free.

17.  Pin together the opening in the lining, and top-stitch closed about 1/8" from the edge, like so.  Then push the lining into the outer, and you're done!!

18.  For an extra decorative touch I made a matching fabric-covered button and hand-sewed this off-centre on the front stripe.  I though it was a cute touch!

And there you have it ... my take on a Nappy / Diaper Pouch that's big enough for 3 toddler nappies and some wipes, but small enough to fit in my handbag ... OK, I know my handbag is huge, but still ... it fits!!