Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More than $9 worth

Recently I took my little guy for a trip on the train to the BrisStyle Indie Twilight Markets in the Brisbane city square.  It was a great way for us to fill a Friday afternoon and early evening.  The colourful pavement lights, the statues in the city square and the train ride home in the dark were a big hit with the four year old and of course I got to check out the lovely crafty offerings.

We only made one purchase - a soft cube kit from Voodoo Rabbit.  My boy was very excited about it as there was a little tinkly rattle ball to sew inside, the fabric to make the cube had cute drawings, and seemingly a story...but I quickly noticed that the story was not in a language I recognised at all. 

I had a stab at it, maybe Turkish, I asked? No, the lady at the stall revealed it was Hungarian text on fabric printed in Japan.  I bravely promised my boy that his Dad would be able to work out the translation for him.

The cube kit sat in the sewing room for a few weeks and we got it put together over the weekend.  We bought stuffing, little fingers pushed in volumes of the stuff to fill the cube, in went the little rattle ball (this was a very exciting bit) and eventually when all was ready I sewed the opening closed.

And the story?  Not one to resist a linguistic challenge my husband has worked it all out.  Its not really a story, more some statements about the pictures - things like "Hello Elephant, what are you doing?", "Balancing on the ball!", "How clever!".

This soft cube has been belted all over the house, tossed, caught, thrown in faces, almost knocked glassware off the bench...all this entertainment for the three of us for $9 was a real bargain.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Slow stitching

Its getting harder.  Getting on the floor to cut out fabric, or leaning over a table, standing at the ironing board - I'm getting tireder, slower and more awkward.

So I'm glad this weekend of sitting around doing a lovely lot of meditative hand stitching.  I'm sewing the bias binding around the edge of a baby blanket.  The blanket is not even for my own use but I am loving the look so much that I think I will make myself one exactly the same, and whip up a few more from materials in my stash.  I'm starting to daydream a lot about what a room for our new little baby is going to need and look like.  Stitching and daydreaming, too good. With about 4m of hand sewing for each blanket making a few of them will keep me out of mischief and happily ensconced on the couch of the evenings. 

I was going to get a picture up of me wearing my lovely new maternity skirt this weekend but today my man is sick and my boy is recovering from sick so I've not had much time for anything but housework and Lego.  Maybe I'll get a chance to snap myself with the self-timer during the week.  But for now the little Mr and I have to take a trip out to find something yummy for our dinner tonight.

Hope everyone had a great weekend.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Quick fix maternity wear

At the moment I am attempting a sewing project for myself.  I don't really know why actually - being six months pregnant means any sewing project comes with severe difficulties in the fitting department and the cold weather is not exactly conducive to wearing what I am making.  Never the less I am forging on ahead mainly because having something new in my wardrobe is a very attractive proposition right now.

Cue one black maternity skirt I kept from my last pregnancy - I really only bought it because of the woollen floral embroidery around the lower edge.  I really do hate the style though, its got little pleats around it that make it kind of full and boofy. Having wide shoulders (by nature) and ample bosom/large stomach (at the moment) I already feel big enough on my top half, I don't need a full style skirt making me look bigger around my lower half than necessary.  I'm an A-line girl, I'm going to make an A-line maternity skirt out of a piece of black and white Ikea fabric. 

And I'm going to use this length of vintage bias binding to hem it. Yes I am.

I've ripped off the cotton rib waistband from the old skirt, I've measured and measured again my "waist", some of my existing skirts and the old maternity skirt...and I'm just going to take the plunge, cut it out, sew the sides and put the elastic waist band on and hem it.  Sewing on the edge here today!  I figure if it doesn't fit I can wear it post-pregnancy.  Thats how I figure, anyway.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bunting to make you smile

Why do little strings of flags make you feel happy?  The colour?  The movement?  The fun of hanging them up?  Whatever it is, it's one of those suretys of life.

They're so fun and easy to make too.  All of these were cut out from the contents of my scrap bag, but strangely the scrap bag seems not to have shrunk as much as I would have liked!  At least it's back in the cupboard now rather than strewn over the floor.

Four strings of double sided scalloped flags in boy blues, girl blues, pinks and purples and lemon and white are now available in the shop.

Monday, June 20, 2011

To market, to market

This last weekend I spent a lovely Saturday morning attending the BrisStyle "Markets 101" information session down at Hamilton.  I rugged up tight as the old church hall and a cold Brisbane morning were not a winning combination, but a few cups of tea during the talks did a lot to keep me warm and the lovely morning tea items on offer kept my blood sugar and my interest levels up! 

Since opening my online shop a lot of people have asked if I will start attending markets.  Maybe yes, maybe no, any market aspirations are in the future though as I would need to invest in some "hardware" like tables and racks and signs etc. and besides, in 12 weeks time I will be welcoming a new baby, so one thing at a time I say!

Never the less, this post does have an alterior motive...I am actually helping to organise a market at the moment (on the other side of the table, so to speak). The Red Hill Kindergarten annual fair is on the 30th July at Woolcock Park, Red Hill.  This is the major fundrasing event of the year for the kindergarten and the Fair is a fabulous community event attracting thousands of local residents. It's a serious business - BBQ, drinks, cakes, carnival entertainment with rides and animals and kids activities are all on offer, and that's just the start of it! Typically the Fair has around 40 stalls operating on the day that sell all manner of crafty items like jewellery, bags, clothes, toys and stationary. There are still a few stall places available if any Brisbanites fancy joining in and holding their own stall on the day.  Interested? Simply contact myself, or email for an application pack and details.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My creative space: out of the scrap bag

I made a nice mess.  I emptied my scrap bag onto the floor of the sewing room, sorted out the different colours into little piles, then left it there for a week or two.  As I said, messy.

I've now started to work my way through the piles looking for pieces that are big enough for making into a few strings of bunting. 

The scraps that are too small for bunting?  Probably they'll go back in the bag for now and one day I'll cut them all into strips and sew them together.  I'll admit it, I'm totally a scrap hoarder.  What about you?

More creative spaces here...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Gifts galore for little ladies

To start this week off just a quick post about my favourite reason for sewing...for gift giving of course.  Birthday presents for two little girls, Molly and Scarlett (such lovely names!) one just born and one turning four.

Here's the result of the cuddle owl that I posted about last week.  This was one of those projects where things just fell into place - a perfect sized scrap of magenta cotton was waiting for me in the remnant basket of the fabric shop for the edging, and I had a great reason to cut into a vintage pillowcase to make a crazy floral backing. Slow and steady sewing produced a great result. I was very happy with it, and so was the recipient!

And a little matryoshka softie from a Blinking Flights pattern I've been hoarding up to try for way too long. 

Sometimes one just needs the perfect excuse to try something, and that's worth waiting for.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Brooch finished

My brooch for the Flower Press brooch swap is now finished!

Making this brooch has really challenged me, mainly to do with turning something that is essentially a piece of fabric into something that's got a structure.

My strange list of ingredients for this brooch included:
  • scrap of navy blue cotton
  • edging of a doily from my Mum
  • beads left over from my wedding dress
  • trim that came in an old sewing box I bought last year
  • cardboard from a packet of bias binding
  • the lens cover from the camera as a circle template
  • felt
  • glue
  • brooch pin
  • sewing cotton

The finished brooch is perhaps a little chunkier than I expected and I probably could have used a thinner cardboard, or tried leaving it out altogether.  It was useful though for something to set the fabric around a smooth curve shape.  That aside, I'm pretty happy with the result!

I'll package it up with a few small goodies from Kikki K and it will be ready to post when the post office re-opens for business next week.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My creative space: hoot

A departure from the usual here today - going for construction of a rather challenging softie.  I'm finishing the easy part (the front face, wings etc.) and then its onto the edging strip that's got kind of mitred corners around the ears...oh its too complicated to even talk about.  I might be needing a little bit of luck on this one that it turns out OK for a party on Saturday.

If you want to see what I'm on about you can see the tutorial  for the Snuggly Owl over at Sewing Republic.

If you want a real hoot then head over to Our Creative Spaces!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hot cake

A sudden "cold snap" in Brisbane today.  The sun is hiding above the cloud layer and the temperature is refusing to budge more than about 17 degrees.  AND BEFORE I hear any whining from you southerners I would like to point out that I am not acclimatised to weather much colder than this, and that Queensland houses aren't built to deal with cold weather either, the warm air from the heater dissipates out the walls and windows faster than you can actually add it to your rooms, thank you very much.

This considered it was lucky that I started last night to prepare the following recipe for Irish fruit loaf, perfect timing for a warm slice of fruit cake and a hot cup of tea this morning.  Its one of my grandmother's recipies, a strange combination of ingredients, lots of sugar and flour, but no put that on top, when its hot out of the oven, you know.

Irish Fruit Loaf
375g mixed fruit
250g brown sugar
add 1 cup of warm tea  to the above ingredients and soak overnight (or the best part of a day)

The next day add:
2 tablespoons of marmelade
1 egg
500g self-raising flour

Mix well and divide between two loaf tins (greased or lined with baking paper, however you like to do it).
Bake in moderate oven 50-60 mins.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Leaping off, diving in

When I first started this blog about two years ago I am going to outright admit that I did so because I fully intended to sew and sell.  I knew my way around a sewing machine and had recently re-discovered a love for sewing and I naively thought I could make stuff and folks would buy it and it would be a fun thing to keep a new stay at home mum occupied.  But not one to jump into anything until I am sure of how deep the water is (obviously) I quickly discovered that "out there" the handmade market is an entire ocean that needs careful and considered navigation, and that like real life I would much, much prefer to sit on the sandy beach in the sun rather than have cold waves breaking over me.  Its taken me a couple of years, many changes of mind and a heap of procrastination before finally deciding to wet my toes. 

Instead I have gone the long way around and spent the last few years at my sewing machine making my way first through things like bedding, simple curtains, cushions and bunting, moved onto making softies for the best part of another year and lately have been increasingly dabbling in clothing.  This whole time I have been gaining skills, self teaching, experimenting, amassing little bits of sewing equipment that make the job easier and the results look better. I have made and made and made for friends and relations and loved the buzz of deciding on what project to make, what to make it out of, the making process and of course the giving.  I have slowly slipped into an ongoing philosophy of always giving handmade rather than store bought.  I have given everything with a kind of shy and bashful "Yes, I made it" admission, hoping that nobody thinks I'm cheap or daggy for doing so and that they appreciate that my time, and my skill, and materials have been chosen and given by me personally to create a gift just for them.  I think I have done OK with it as I have continually knocked back suggestions from friends that I set up an online shop to sell what I make.  What exactly to sell?  How much time should I put into it? What kind of marketplace to sell goods at?  The whole question of originality and uniqueness bothered me, or rather petrified me for a good long while.  I didn't want to give up the pleasure of creation and give in to the (perceived) drudgery of making the same thing over and over again for the purposes of selling.  I didn't want my blog to become focused on a shop, or markets, or sales because I personally don't dig blogs that are an after thought to a shop.  I have instead been spending my time blogging to my hearts content, reading countless other blogs, and commenting and participating, making great friends and loving every minute of it. I have read the posts here and there about this online market place versus that online market place, the posts about copied work and original ideas, the posts about pricing, the posts about why some folks sell and others swear off it entirely, the posts about whether all the work is worth it...and after two years I finally feel ready.

At this moment I have time on my hands, I have better sewing skills, I have a better sense of colour, a better knowledge of fabrics, I take better photos, I have appreciation of the handmade market place, and I don't sweat the small stuff any longer - I have relaxed into a good head space to be comfortable about making a handful of items to sell. I've chosen a format that makes the most sense for me - two days a week dedicated to sewing work, creative freedom to make what I like when I like and the integrity to use materials and styles that sing to me and that I am proud to make and sell using a small shop platform where I don't feel lost and out of place or intimidated, I just feel like me.

So if you're a regular visitor over here you have probably noticed the little "shop" link on the sidebar. Its been there about a month and I haven't even blogged about it, I'm already hopeless about self promotion!  I do admit though that I announced it to family and friends first (who generously supported me and bought out half the shop necessitating an immediate re-stock!).  And now its your turn. What's over there?  I'm sewing some simple clothes for kids from sizes 1-6 under the label of Maika.  I'm combining new and recycled fabrics and trims, all items ready made, one of a kind or very limited quantities...and it feels great.  I'm having fun and am keeping expectations low key, going along for the ride.  And I'm still going to blog about whatever and whenever and not talk shop too much, probably once a month, and that will be enough about that.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

My creative space...brooch progress

I tipped my scrap bag upside down and sent the contents spewing onto the craft room floor on Tuesday afternoon.  I sorted the scraps into piles according to colour and in there I also came across a few pieces of doily.  It struck me immediately to do something with them for the brooch swap.

I have cut off a little piece of edging and machine stitched it down to navy blue cotton with a bit of trim along the cut edge.  I'm really like it so far, but I do have to sort out how this is going to become a structural brooch, and what shape!  I think a full circle is going to be too big, so maybe a half circle?  Must find that thinking cap and put it on for a while this afternoon.

You can find more creative spaces over here.


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