Sunday, 31 March 2013

Happy Easter!

So it's Easter, and we 're just about managing to celebrate it while juggling toddler, newborn and colds! I was determined to dye eggs this year with my 2 year old and we did!

But this year we're also celebrating having a 4-day old baby boy in our lives. We are very lucky.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

getting zippy

I made this for a birthday present, having fallen in love with the ikat fabric. It was also a chance to try my new yo-yo maker (yes, I cracked after making them by hand for those bobby pins) and to practice my zip-sewing skills.

I have to admit I still struggle a little with zips, especially where linings are involved. I think the hardest thing is get the fabric lined up and pinned correctly. Should I be basting first, what do you reckon?

The thing is, this purse has ended up a little smaller than planned. Still, at least it looks pretty. My technical skills don't quite match my design vision yet!

So, my creative friends, do you have any zip tips for me today?
In case you're interested, here's the video tutorial I've been using for lined zipper pouches - what do you think?

Sunday, 24 March 2013

the memoir project

You may remember I took part in the Sketchbook Project 2012. This year, I decided to sign up for the Arthouse Coop's Memoir Project. There will be 500 participants, each writing by hand a true story or stories from their lives. Now my blank book has arrived, with its inviting pages waiting to be filled.

I'm used to handwriting, having kept a diary for many years. But for this, something a little more focused and planned is required. I know that I'm going to be focusing on interweaving stories of birth and death, those big universal themes that have been brought to the forefront of my heart and mind over the last year or so. I don't yet know whether I'm going to write directly on the pages or alter them in some way... Sign-ups have ended for this project now but there are lots of other creative endeavours to inspire you - so do check out the Sketchbook Project's website.

Friday, 22 March 2013

to wrap a baby bunting in

So in my last post did you notice something peeking out of the tote bag I made? It's not a rabbit skin, you'll be pleased to hear, and daddy's not into hunting anyway: rather, it's the result of my first ever knitting project. (You probably need to know the nursery rhyme for that all to make sense!)

So here it is: my baby blanket from knitted squares, 25 in the end rather than 36 - I was running out of time! I think it's pretty unconventional for a baby blanket and that's why I love it: I really like the mix of bright jewel colours and muted shades. And as a ribbon obsessive I love the deep purple super soft VV Rouleau satin ribbon around the edge (wow, was that hard to sew on neatly!)

I have enjoyed my first knitting experience. It was relaxing (if incredibly slow compared to sewing projects) and so much fun to learn something new. Despite its many flaws and wobbles, I'm delighted with the overall result, and simply cannot wait to wrap my baby bunting in it.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

adventures in plastic

Did you know you can make your own laminated fabric? When planning the making of a nappy (aka diaper) pouch (yep, I'm still in nesting mode - the idea came from the Red Velvet 'Baby on the Way' E-course) I thought how cool it would be to use vintage fabric. Then I heard about Heat'n'Bond iron-on vinyl and decided to make my own plastic fabric.

So I started with this, an oversized vintage kids' pillowcase I picked up at a market, and which doesn't seem to fit any contemporary pillow sizes.

After the super-easy laminating process, I was really happy with how it turned out. Here was vintage fabric that was cute and wipe-clean - perfect for my little messy newbie on the way.

To sew it up, I bought a special Teflon presser foot. Now, I know you can use sticky-tape, or tissue paper, or whatever - I looked into all the options, having never sewn plastics before. But this presser foot was super cheap and worked really well. It was great not having to worry about sticking. It sewed up a treat. The problems came when I had to turn the piece right sides out. This completely crinkled my fabric! It ended up looking more like a crumpled crisp packet or something.

And my lining - made from what I thought would be a prettily co-ordinating golden yellow sheet, looks more like a crumpled manilla envelope. I can see that this whole DIY plastic fabric thing is not quite the delightful perfection I initially thought. Still, I have a fairly cute and functional item now, and won't be seeing any other mamas around with the same! I guess I'd still use the DIY laminating for something like the inside of a washbag or make-up pouch.

Oh yeah, and here's the tote I made with the rest of the pillow case - full with everything baby needs when he arrives (including the matching pouch), and ready to take to hospital with me!

Monday, 18 March 2013

fun cushions for kids

It's been ages since I posted - even the last few posts were scheduled. Things were crazy while I was finishing work, and then my maternity leave began with lots of illness (me, husband, toddler all suffered in various ways!) and exhaustion. Still, I've been slowly, steadily working on the boys' new room and making things, like this cushion.

When I bought this vintage train fabric online the seller, Junette, contacted me to let me know she didn't have the quantity I'd ordered and offered to replace it with some very cool 1970s Marimekko fabric (which I used for the big cushion above). She still included a couple of 50cm pieces of the train fabric in the parcel though. How I love fabulous Etsy sellers!

I always knew I was going to make cushions with this brilliant, bright vintage fabric, for the new room that was still just a dream back then. Now we have the room, all built and painted, carpet laid, and just waiting for furniture and d├ęcor. And I'm busy making things, measuring, and figuring out how it's all going to fit together (hoping to get a bit further with this before baby no.2 arrives!)

This was the first time I've used pom-pom trim: I'm in love with it! It was a little tricky to sew in - I found it helpful to use a zipper foot on my sewing machine. I don't know if that's what you're supposed to do, but it seemed to work. I also enjoyed finishing the back with vintage buttons that are pure decoration. Secretly it's done up with snap fasteners! Thank you my artist friend Ashlie for that cool idea - great for kids' things and for people who have still yet to create a buttonhole!)

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

pretty fabric bobby pins

This is one of the most pleasurable projects I've had lately: bobby pins made with my favourite vintage fabrics and buttons. They are easy, quite quick, and I just love how they look! I found my inspiration here - and if you like what you see I urge you to try these too!

The bonus is that if you've never made a "yo-yo" before (until quite recently I didn't even know what one was, i.e. I just thought a yo-yo was one of those little spinning toys on a string) you're going to learn how (see this great tutorial)... and then you can start, like me, to get inspired by the myriad possible uses for them! (Earrings and necklaces are next on my list... and they could be brooches too!)

This is probably the closest to a self-portrait you're going to get from me - so enjoy! And don't let those small scraps of fabric linger in your stash any longer: get out your button collection, a needle and thread, and make some of these sweet little hair decorations!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

custom page boy badges

Did you know I make pinback badges? I love using vintage fabric and old picturebooks, but best of all I like to make unique mini-collages, then seal them all up in a badge and wear them - or see others wear them. These page boy badges were a recent Etsy commission that the customer has very kindly allowed me to share. I was so inspired by her wedding themes and plans!

She is having a vintage-themed wedding and her page boys - who are all between 6 months and 4 years old (CUTE alert!!) - are wearing little brown, cream and orange bow ties, brown slacks and cream shirts. The main flower will be dried lavender. Doesn't that sound lovely?

So I knew at once that I had to get out all my old vintage magazines, books and ephemera for this project, and decided on a colour scheme of brown, orange, cream and grey. I wanted to use natural textures like wood grain to set off the texture of vintage paper. And I became a little obsessed with finding the perfect image for each little man according to his age, so each would be happy (hopefully!) to wear his badge!

Having a little boy myself really helped me to come up with ideas - but it also made me a little bit perfectionist and it took a while to find the perfect materials/images for these badges. Thankfully this was one super-organised bride-to-be and the wedding, although in Australia, is not until May.

I'm delighted with the fantastic reaction these got when they reached the customer, who has promised to send photos of the page boys wearing them. I don't know if she'll get around to it - if she does, she's not just super-organised but super thoughtful and lovely! - but I would dearly love to see them all dressed up in their outfits and wearing these. I know a lot of people who make things say they especially love custom orders, and I'm no exception: I think it galvanises creativity to make something specially for a person/event. It can be challenging, but it's all worth it when they appreciate the results.

Friday, 1 March 2013

sweet wrapper kid's art

My husband gets a little irritated by my hoarding habits. So it's always good to put things into use to show him that it's all worthwhile. This was such a fun, easy activity to do with my little boy, and he loved it! I'd saved all these pretty translucent sweet (candy) wrappers from a box of Christmas chocolates and knew they were just made to become "stained glass". We punched circles in card and just taped them on behind, then used red and green pain to decorate in between.

We talked about colours as we went along, and he began to learn about how to use sticky tape (not self-evident for a 2 year-old, apparently!) We also talked about what happens when colours are mixed - so there's a brown splodge too where he explored what happens to red and green. I love doing art/craft activities together.

Even though it's lovely to display the results (this is taped to the door into our garden), it's about so much more than that: from putting on his apron "all by myself", to tidying up afterwards, to deciding when a piece is "finished" - I love watching him make decisions and learn about actions and consequences as well as creativity. It also reminds me that creativity is also a lot about making decisions, whatever one's age!

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