Friday, July 19, 2013

Rainbow HSTs

The finished quilt. It's pram sized, so wasn't too onerous to sew.

It's been five months since I updated this blog. I'd love to say I've been sewing, but sadly, my machine has been gathering dust while I deal with a back injury that means I can barely walk some days, let alone sew.

I've done a few little things though - all presents for new babies. Making something special for a new arrival is my favourite kind of sewing.

This little pram quilt is for a beautiful baby boy who was born last month. I knew he was a boy before he was born, but really didn't want to use typical 'boy' colours. Then I saw this quilt on Pinterest and knew I wanted to make something similar.

Hand quilting detail. I used DMC thread. My 5 year old loved matching the fabrics to the threads.

I bought a charm pack of Kona Brights and a pack of Kona Snow. I've only ever bought fabric by the yard before, so it was lovely not having to cut it all up.

The half-square triangles came together in one evening, and I pieced the quilt the next night. The hand-quilting didn't take as long as I imagined, maybe 4 nights while watching tv?

The back. I'm so disappointed in my fabric choice. I had imagined a charcoal grey, but settled for this.

I was terrified the fabric, thread or binding would run, so I crossed my fingers and gave it a test wash with a couple of colour catchers. Nothing ran, thank goodness, and I now feel comfortable that my friend can chuck it in the wash without having to worry about colour runs.

Pretty happy with the finished quilt :)

I really hope to be back to sewing and blogging regularly soon. I miss it!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A big milestone and a cloth book

Enjoying her book
This week, Baby A will reach another milestone. She will clock up one whole year since she got her hearing aids. It's been such a huge year for our family, with countless appointments (audiology, ENT, hearing tests) and hours upon hours upon hours of auditory-verbal therapy, where she learns to listen and speak with her hearing aids.

I've spent heaps of time over the last year trying to find resources to help Baby A learn to listen and speak.  Most parents of deaf and hearing impaired children will be familiar with the Ling Sounds, which are seven sounds across the main speech frequencies that you can use to check that your child is hearing (even small babies respond to these sounds).

We practice the Ling Sounds most days. From a practical point of view Baby A's responses let us know whether her hearing aids are working, and it's also been really lovely to watch her move from detecting to identifying and now imitating those sounds.
A's Ling Sounds book. The cover illustration is based on her.

I decided to make Baby A some cards with the Ling Sounds and a picture to represent each sound, to keep her interested in them. Before too long that idea had merged with my love of all things crafty and morphed into creating a cloth book.

I'm very lucky to have an extremely talented sister-in-law, who is an illustrator. She managed to turn my ideas into the most beautiful, colourful illustrations. I used spoonflower to print the fabric, then sewed it up into a book.

I'm thrilled with the result, and so is Baby A. She never seems to tire of it.

I made a couple of prototypes, but settled on this oversized version. It uses a whole yard of fabric, but is great for little hands.
Flipping through the pages
Baby A is doing so well - I wish I had a crystal ball a year ago. Her 'listening age' is 12 months - which means she has had access to sound for 12 months. This puts her behind other children her age, who have had 17 months of access to sound, plus a good few months in utero.

The average (non hearing impaired) 17 month old has around 15 words. Baby A has a vocab of nearly 70 words. I'm so proud of her. She has come such a long way in such a short time and her hearing impairment hasn't held her back at all.
My favourite page

My sister-in-law included so many beautiful details in the illustrations, including this A for baby A on the plane's tail.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Two new rompers and more Spoonflower

The photos in this post are appaling - forgive me!

I've recently finished a couple of little rompers - one for my darling baby A and one for my cousin's new(ish) baby.

I've made this pattern before (here and here), it's KwikSew 3776, and as I've said before, the pattern is great but the instructions are a bit flaky.

I used a fabric I designed myself for Baby A. It's inspired by a printed shopping bag I got a few months ago and fell in love with. It's nothing really special, but it's special to me because I know it makes Baby A's romper truly a one-off. It's trimmed in white cotton lace.

The other romper is made using a pretty double gauze I picked up on sale a few years ago, and trimmed with cream cotton lace.

This project has made me a bit sad, it'll be the last time I make a romper for any of my kids. With Baby A now 16 months she will have well and truly outgrown this pattern by next Summer.

Baby A's romper. Horrible photo!
Close up of the fabric, designed by me and printed using Spoonflower

Lace trim detail

The two rompers. Check out the difference in size. Baby A was in the small size last year - wah :(

Delicate lace trim on the tiny romper.
It looks so pretty on my darling girl.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Christmas sewing (and not much else)

Hello! It's been a while hasn't it? I've been dealing with a really bad back and haven't been able to sew (or sit, or walk) much at all.

But Christmas is my favourite time of year, and one I associate with sewing and baking. I wasn't up to any large projects this year, but I was able to make a couple of handmade Christmas gifts.

The first is for my parents and father-in-law. We made them a set of personalised tea towels. They were super simple - the kids painted with watercolour onto regular paper, which I then scanned and uploaded to Spoonflower.

I had them printed onto a cotton-linen blend, which was kind of pricey, but worthwhile in terms of durability. I fit four images onto a yard of fabric, and when it arrived I cut and hemmed. Voila! So simple and very popular on Christmas morning.
Three tea-towels from three budding little artists. Even the baby got in on the act!

I also created a few silhouette tea-towels. I've been wanting to make silhouettes of the kids for ages, and it was much simpler than I thought it would be. The silhouettes below were created in photoshop (using the pen tool) but I've also seen some great tutorials for making them with paper.

These were also printed by Spoonflower onto cotton-linen blend. I have made a lot of fabric with Spoonflower lately, and will post about it very soon. I'm especially excited about one of the projects in particular.

I just adore the finished product, and have kept a couple of these for myself. Baby A is growing so fast (she's nearly 16 months) and I really wanted to capture the last of her sweet baby shape.

The silhouettes seem to capture their personalities perfectly.

Next up is a gift for my eldest's preschool teacher. I have to admit I wasn't too sure about the teacher when I first met her, but she has been fabulous. We were sad to say goodbye on the last day of preschool.

Miss E drew a card for her teacher, which I then copied and embroidered onto some linen, and then stitched into a journal cover. 

The colours are kind of hard to see, E used metallic ink and it reflected the light.


Miss E and her teacher, holding hands under a rainbow. Yep... it's good to be 4 and have such a rosey view of the world.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Something special for a new baby

One of my dearest friends had her third baby two weeks ago - a sweet little girl. We happen to have the same family makeup (girl, boy, girl) with the same age gaps, but hers were all born one year later. Couldn't have planned it better if we tried!

I have sewed for her eldest daughter before, and her son, but I really wanted to make something special for baby #3. I decided on a quilt early on, but took my time choosing the design. I wanted something pretty and suitable for a baby girl, but not too babyish.

I was really inspired by a quilt over at Freshly Pieced (oh how I love it!) and decided to try my own version. If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll know that I am not much of a quilter. My previous efforts have all been very basic - strips of squares sewn together with sashing in between. So I was a little nervous about attempting the urban lattice quilt, but it came together surprisingly well! I paper-pieced for the first time, and really loved it. It was easy to do and the results are great - I could never be that precise otherwise. This is one of those quits where precision is really important, otherwise the lattice will look all wonky and you won't get the same effect.

See?! Paper piecing gives great accuracy. I'm hooked.
I used fabrics from a FQ bundle of Amy Butler's Ginger Bliss collection. I've already bought some (okay, all) of Heather Ross' Nursery Versary collection to make another one.

The quilting is very simple. I'm really bad at that part, and, I think this design lends itself to simple quilting in order to show off the nice clean lines. And I'm lazy. I simply quilted around the coloured squares.

The backing is a basic pink and white polka dot from my stash.

I changed the dimensions of the blocks to suit myself. Each block is 6 inches square, making the quilt 36x36 inches. 

I was sad to part with this little number, I really like it. I hope I can stay motivated enough to make another, to keep, in the not too distant future.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Liberty playdate

My baby turned 1 a few weeks ago. Crazy. I can't believe how fast the last year has gone. I really wanted to make her a special little dress to unwrap on the big day, and keep as a memento of how little she is (my older kids have been big, tall babies; Baby A has bucked that trend and is a very petite little thing - such a novelty for me!). 

I've never sewn the Oliver + S Playdate dress before (although I've been lucky enough to receive one, thanks Nicole!). I think it looks cutest on little girls so I was keen to sew one before Baby A gets too big. It went together beautifully, like all O+S patterns.

The fabric is from Liberty's new quilting cotton range, Bloomsbury Gardens. I bought every print in the aqua/turquoise colourway as I just adore it. The quality of this fabric is just amazing. It has the same smooth and silky qualities as the tana lawn, but obviously in a heavier weight fabric. It's much cheaper than the lawn too which is hugely appealing.

I mentioned on this blog a year ago that Baby A is hearing impaired. It's been such a rollercoaster of a year dealing with her hearing loss and all that entails. One year on and I think we have more questions than answers - we still don't have a clear picture of her hearing loss, except that it is worse than we first thought. We've been plowing away at the early intervention since she was 7 weeks old though, and now, at 12 months, Baby A is doing beautifully. She has so many words (more than my kids with normal hearing did at her age) and is coping pretty well with her hearing aids. I still worry about her, but I wish I could travel back in time and tell myself that it's all going to be okay.

Carved MOP buttons

Birthday cake test drive

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Colette Lady Grey

Last post, I wrote about a few big projects I was working on. Well, one of them is finished at long last!

It's my brand new Lady Grey coat, from Colette Patterns. It's also the first thing I have ever sewn for myself, and it's a success - woot! I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I didn't even know this pattern existed until earlier this year when my friend Karen pinned it. I had been toying with the idea of sewing for myself for ages, and decided a wrap coat might be slightly easier to fit, as my measurements are not standard. I searched for other versions of the Lady Grey coat and fell in love with it. I also found the Lady Grey sewalong over at Gertie's fabulous blog.

After a bit of deliberating I decided to buy some beautiful Marc Jacobs wool from the States. It's black with steely blue, purple and off-white dots. I first found it at Mood for $25 a yard, and after much searching found a few other suppliers, one of which was Fashion Fabrics Club which had it at $14 a yard. The postage cost as much as the wool, but it still wasn't any more expensive than I would have paid for the same yardage here in Australia.

I was terrified of stuffing up, so made a muslin. I cut a size 12 and needed to adjust the gaping lapels, and took about an inch and a half off the upper back and a little off the waist. I also lengthened the sleeves. I love the bracelet length, but I need this coat to be as practical as it is pretty, so I went for full length.

For those who aren't familiar with it, Gertie's sewalong takes the already wonderful Lady Grey pattern, and adds lots of gorgeous tailoring. To be honest, I thought a tailored garment was just a well-cut garment. Now I know better! I really enjoyed learning about how to tailor and am so happy with the end result. It was time consuming though, with hair canvas basted by hand to the front four panels (it has princess seams) and then the lapels and collar pad-stitched, also by hand. I had never heard of pad-stitching before, but it is amazing. It has given my coat such a gorgeous shape and I couldn't be happier. It really is like magic watching the lapels and collar form, as Gertie says, under your fingertips.

All in all I spent far more on this coat than I would have on a shop-bought coat. The hair canvas cost an eye-watering $25/metre and after falling in love with the silk thread used for the padstitching, I splurged and bought enough to sew the entire coat. So it was an expensive coat, but it's made to measure and tailored by hand - I certainly can't get that on the cheap around here. I also got so much satisfaction out of seeing it come together, and am really proud of the coat.

I learnt so much during this experience. Bound buttonholes, pattern fitting, tailoring and more. It's given me the confidence to try to make a few more things for myself and reignited my love for sewing.

From the side.

I really wanted to add a label, and when I found this one at Sublime Stitches I knew I had to have it! You can also see a glimpse of the lining I used too - a lilac to coordinate with the wool.

The coat only has two buttons, and one of them is hidden. I love these buttons I found by chance - they have a feathered pattern in a steel blue on black, to match the wool.

Not the best photo (it was taken as I was attaching the coat to the lining) but here is some of the tailoring I learnt from Gertie's blog. The pad-stitching took forever but was actually pretty enjoyable to sew, and the effect is amazing.It's almost a shame that all those pretty stitches are hidden inside the coat!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Vintage sheet quilt

Last Friday my son had the mother of all meltdowns. It was huge - the worst of I have ever seen. And of course we were in public. As I carted my kicking, screaming two year old back through the shopping centre, while wrestling the pram and my girls, I felt pretty embarrassed by him. I love him to bits, but at that moment I was NOT proud of him, not at all.

And that's kind of how I feel about my latest creation. I adore it, but I am really not proud of it. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. It seemed to fight me every step of the way and in the end I gave up - I just wanted to get the damn thing finished. Anyone who knows me knows that that goes against all of my perfectionist tendencies, but this thing beat me down, like a two year old who has missed his nap and is high on sugar.

The piecing was okay, but the quilting is atrocious and so, so, wonky. It looks so Becky Home-ecky. Even the binding gave me grief. And there's blood on the back of it people - blood! - from when I skewered my finger while binding it. Oh yes, I can honestly say this one caused blood, sweat and tears.

But I do love it. Look at those pretty fabrics! They make my heart sing. And they're so soft, perfect for its new owner, my sweet baby girl. I used vintage sheet fabric, mainly purchased from Etsy, but I got a few locally too (for 25c - woot!).

I have a real love affair with vintage sheets (remember this onesie?) and have a few more projects on the go for Baby A's room.

So there you have it, despite my lack of blogging I really have been sewing. Most of it is too boring to blog about (PJ pants and highchair covers - yawn) but I have three really big projects on the go that I hope to finish and share with you before too long.

The quilt will be used as a playmat, and matches the framed fabric above Baby A's cot.

Monday, April 2, 2012

New pinny for winter

I've finally managed to get another item ticked off my 'to sew' list. This time it's a little corduroy pinafore for baby A to wear this winter.

The pattern is Simplicity 3808 and I was heavily influenced by this version from Made by Rae. In fact I think I prefer her version - love the green and black together! But hey, I had to be at least a little creative so went with violet and cream instead.

The fabric is all from Spotlight. I rarely shop there and if I do it's just for basics. But last visit I found their new Japanese cotton lawn, and it's lovely. Nice one Spotlight! I picked up a bit to use for another project, and the scraps made a sweet little facing for this dress.

The pattern went together well, it's pretty simple. The sizing seems a bit off to me. This is actually supposed to be a top (tunic) but it's huge. It goes right down to baby A's ankles. It's pretty roomy in the body too but it will see her through winter, and will be good for layering.

Tadah! Love the pretty little facings... and I'm quite fond of the piping too.

Bodice detail.

I love these buttons, which I picked them up in the craft district in Hong Kong last year. I think of them as constellation buttons, as there are so many ways to thread them and they remind me of little constellations. I wish I had bought more. They were only a couple of cents each and I'm kicking myself.

Monday, March 12, 2012

More stitching

I have a bit of a thing for Pinterest. It's kind of addictive. I currently have boards full of ideas for things to make in the future.

One of them was especially inspiring though: this embroidery. Love it! I kept going back to look at it so thought I would have a go at creating one of my own.

At the same time I was throwing around ideas for a new Kindle cover, and thought I would combine the cover with the embroidery.

I've seen a lot of Kindle covers online and most of them were much fancier than I wanted. A lot of them open like a book, or have an inbuilt stand so you don't actually have to hold your Kindle. I didn't want any of that, part of the beauty of the Kindle for me is its simplicity. All I wanted was a simple slip cover to keep it free from dust, scratches and toddler fingerprints.

I embroidered the cover design using three strands of DMC cotton. The entire design is French knots. Hundreds of them! It actually came together reasonably quickly though, and it was pretty relaxing to stitch away in front of the tv at night.

I'm pleased with the final product but if I did it again (and I won't!) I would make the font thicker. I would also outline the edge of each letter in a split stitch or back stitch to make it look crisper.

The finished product. I stitched on to the most beautiful linen from Kelani Fabric. The cover is a simple slip cover lined in a blue and white polka dot. It closes with a velcro tab (was initially a magnetic button but that was too clunky, so I had to get out the seam ripper).

Stitching detail.

French knots - this is only my second embroidery so I had to re-learn how to do these. I really recommend the tutorial on Sublime Stitching.

Same linen as I made my journal cover in. Love the look of them together (yes, I'm a dork).

Thursday, March 8, 2012

More tiny shoes

Almost a whole month since I posted - eek!

I have been busy though, lots of crafting and sewing but the things I'm working on are sloooooow. It's satisfying seeing them come together but I've been itching for a quick project to get some instant gratification. So last night I sewed up a couple of pairs of baby shoes for my friend's brand new baby boy.

I made a pair of cloth baby sneakers, and some super cute baby boots for Winter.

The boots are made using a scrap of Kokka monkeys left over from this shirt, and lined with minkee. The sneakers were made using the gorgeous green elephants from Daiwobo, and lined with some orange dots (not so sure about that combination in hindsight).

I used two patterns from the fabulous I Think Sew: the Cameron sneakers and the Charlie boots. I really recommend these patterns, they're fabulous. I have many more waiting to be made up. I Think Sew also have some gorgeous handbag patterns - the bag I made recently was one of their designs.

I am especially in love with the boots and have plans to make some for my littlest this Winter. I don't think I'd use minkee lining again though, it was a bit of a nightmare to work with. If I did, I would take off a quarter inch all around, as it stretched a bit and is a bit baggy in the finished boots.

So there you have it. I hope to be a bit more regular with my blogging as my many works in progess are finished.

Minkee monkeys. Love love love this pattern, so quick and such a cute result.

Cloth baby sneakers. I think a more neutral lining would have been better, but I'm still happy with them.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Balloon bubble

More baby sewing! I love sewing for my littlest, it's so quick and cheap, with most things needing only a half yard of fabric.

I recently finished making her a new bubble/romper. I used Kwik Sew 3776 (as used here) as a base, but recut the front bodice and straps as one piece, and added some white piping. I sewed a bigger size too, my wee girl is now five months and growing far too quickly.

The fabric is from the gorgeous Children at Play line by Sarah Jane. I really love this line, but have to admit to not initially being too fussed over this particular print. I bought most of the collection online, but when I saw this fabric in my local fabric shop I just had to have it. The colours are fantastic.

Finished bubble - front view

Bodice detail

Back view. I used white snaps to match the piping.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Katie bag

I probably sound like a broken record but I just love, love, love Echino. If I was limited to only buying/sewing with one type of fabric for the rest of my life I'd choose Echino, and die a very happy woman.

My little Echino collection is growing rapidly, thanks in part to my little sister who recently found some for $9/metre while in Japan. And although I could stare at it all day long, it's wasted in my sewing cupboard, so I'm trying to use it where I can.

I discovered a great little site a while back called I Think Sew. She has beautiful patterns - mostly handbags and shoes - and I was drawn to her samples, especially as many of them use Echino.

I bought few patterns, including the Katie Bag. I'm not usually a bag sewer but I really liked this one, and thought it would look great made up in some of my favourite fabric. The pattern came together beautifully. It's fairly simple but the result is fantastic. The bag is supposed to have a belt on it (which I love, it's what drew me to the pattern) but I felt the fabric was too busy for the belt, so included some wooden buttons as a focal point instead.

So on to the pictures... I really love the finished product but realise it's not everyone's cup of tea. I actually made this for my sister-in-law but am going to make another for myself.

The finished bag - front (looks a bit gaudy in full sun!)

Front detail

The back - a little bit more pink!

Lined in a grape coloured cotton canvas with a magnetic closure. I included a small pocket made of the exterior fabric.

The buttons I included instead of the belt. I stitched these with coordinating cotton.