Saturday, December 15, 2012

Get it while you can

Nothing like getting a crafty fix when a donkey costume is in order for the class Christmas performance.  

A felt mask and a plaited fabric tail attached to a waistband was my challenge of weekend last.  The tail was easy, some grey corduroy was waiting for me in the scraps bin at the fabric store so I chopped it into strips, plaited it and sewed it to a waistband of the same fabric with a velcro fastener - quick and kid friendly.  But a donkey mask? Quelle horreur!  There was researching, sketching and pattern making, a whole lot of estimation and flying by the seat of one's pants, a raid of my felt box, and I ended up with this:

The idea was to wear the mask over the face...but it mostly got pushed up onto the forehead.

Makes a great silouhette, don't you think?

The performance was a success, he remembered his lines, the adults hardly understood what was going on but everyone finished up happy.  A great end to the school year.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Friday shop update

Time for a little end of the week shop promotion.  Here are the results of my recent spurt of sewing enthusiasm.  Two items for girls and two items for boys.  I would love to be able to bump up the amount of things in the shop so I'm aiming to keep on making over the rest of the school term (all bets are off once the summer holidays begin).

I've got a good weekend coming up - a new baby to visit, the Finders Keepers markets are here in Brisbane this weekend, and the local once monthly Farmers' market is on Sunday morning.  Yipee.

Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


A new camera body and lenses have come to live at our house.  A lovely macro lense is rocking my world, I have a whole new way of photographing the world around me up close.

The curls of my baby's hair.

The seedlings I've been planting in my garden.

And I've been playing around with exactly how close up I can take a picture of a piece of fabric.
Just because.  Look at the weave on that chicken!

Much fun.

What's new for you?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Ticking off the list

Before I allow myself to start anything brand new I am forcing myself to finish things from the great pile of the unfinished and getting down to a few "must do" projects.  I've sewn buttons back on shirts and cardigans, lengthened a dress, whipped up a pair of baby pants for a friend's newborn and dedicated a whole day to creating a costume for my boy to wear to the school fete.  My sewing machine has been purring along out on the back deck.

Scraps of fabric from bag making and previous forays into pants making were crying out to be combined into a new pair of shorts for the babe.  

And I'm trying to finish a cover for my third Ikea chair.  It needs a tiny bit of tweaking before it's a perfect fit.    I didn't care to finish the cover off this afternoon though, I was too busy chasing my cheeky one around the chair with the camera.


Hopefully once my chair cover is done I'll be free to launch into making a few new items for the shop.  Yipee!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hello, sewing machine

 My sewing machine has a new home at the moment - outside on the table on our back deck.

This is the only place that I can sit and squeeze in a bit of sewing erstwhile attending to drink and snack requests, lost toys, nappy changes, sibling argy-bargy, cleaning up of spills, wiping of tears and other general small child requirements.

What's got me sewing again?  I put my hand up for making some items for the craft stall at the up-coming school fete.  The fete is only a few weeks away now, and a promise is a promise after all.  I'm not exactly zipping through the work, more like a steady plod, but I am getting there.  

About a month ago I was given a plastic bag stuffed full of fabrics that were donated for the craft stall with a request to turn them into handmade goodies...but to be honest most of the fabrics were rather ugly, and to be super-duper honest a little bit stinky of somebody's storage cupboard. I gave them a good wash and an airing but I didn't have the time to make something from all of it.  The most useful fabric was a fairly large amount of mid-blue curtain fabric with a blockout backing.  

The curtain fabric made five nice tote bags with exterior pockets made from drill fabric I picked up from  Spotlight.  I also bought the header tape for the handles.  Sure, it cost me a bit of my own money to make these but I believe in doing the job properly.  Don't want to be giving craft a bad name now, do I?

With the rest of the fabric I trimmed up the pieces and tied them into little bundles with labels.

Who knows, there might be a fabric addict at the fete who finds these little bits of fabric to be just what they need!

This outdoor sewing thing, I could be onto something...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

To begin again?

It's one month since I returned from overseas.  Its two months since I last posted on my blog.

Funnily, just like that, I stopped.  To start with I didn't have much to talk about from abroad, and then I didn't have time or inclination, and lately I don't really know why or if I should continue.

Our trip was hard work, very hard work.  This was my fourth time travelling long haul with children, but the first time with two.  Irritatingly hot weather and hot, sleepless nights, a "wake several times a night and up at the crack of dawn baby", a sick baby, a teething baby, family events and related organisations and generally a lack of downtime pretty much crushed the spirit out of me.  Along with that all my creativeness ran dry and the small packet of embroidery items that I took with me sat unopened the whole duration of our five week trip. Telling, huh?

At home again I have a nearly walking one year old who pretty much ensures that my bottom does not hit a chair for longer than a few minutes at a time during the day (if you've had a toddler in your house I'm sure you can relate).  Time for sewing or blog posting?  Not really.  Time for reading blogs?  A tiny bit.  Time for commenting on blogs? Not at all.

Instead I've turned my attention to a touch of spring cleaning around our house that has hardly called for the use of the sewing machine.  I've had holes in the living room wall patched and painted, a bunch of pictures framed, new pictures hung in the hallway, sold a bunch of baby gear on Ebay, donated baby toys to the school fete, donated the bunting from my shop to the school fete, mended the straps on the high chair, celebrated a first birthday, made preparations to celebrate a sixth birthday, got into the groove of school readers and sight word learning, re-arranged and tidied the bookshelves, re-framed photographs, bought some new knives for the kitchen, won a set of saucepans, won a new necklace, shopped at the farmers markets, eaten lots of strawberries, had a guest to stay for a weekend, visited doctors and dentists and the like, had one late night out with friends, stopped night time breastfeeding, got the baby to finally sleep all night long, cleaned vomit out of the family car and put the goose down doona away now the winter chill has lifted. And that's of course aside from the usual everyday cooking, cleaning and care of small humans.

Where to next with me?  I'm not really sure actually.  I've re-opened my online shop and I have a few vague plans to sew items for it.  I'm thinking a lot about blogging and the general online presence, about the feeling of "talking to a virtual brick wall", about the over-share and over-promotion on all the possible online forums available to use these days, about bloggers I've loved but have become infrequent posters or have even stopped, bloggers that used to talk craft but have expanded into a whole lot of topics besides and even about a blogger I loved to read and she died, and that suddenly was the end of her blog. I think about that often actually, all this stuff you put out there and how to reel it back in again if you need to.  And why, I'm really trying to answer the why right now.

Why do you do it?  Can you help me?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

British bunting

Everyone in the UK is in on some Union Jack action at the moment.  Between the jubilee and the impending Olympic games British patriotism is at an all time high.  You don't just buy strawberries, or potatoes at the supermarket, you buy 'British strawberries' or 'British potatoes'.  The Union Jack was even making a star turn on a packet of nappies at Sainsburys.

The British also love their bunting and it's hanging all over the high street.  Here's a little sampling:

  Prim and proper shop front bunting

 Historic courtyard bunting

Upper crust jewellery store bunting

Bunting keeping a stiff upper lip in the cold wind and rain while cozy things beckon from inside

Sewing machine shop bunting!

A cute cushion made with British crowns, taxis and buses fabrics.

In a sunnier moment: English country garden patriotic pinwheel 

The effect of all this patriotism rubbed off on my five year old and he was compelled to give flag waving a bit of a try.

Tally ho!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Up, up and away

Image from here

Let me just say that sewing, blogging, school holidays and preparing for an overseas trip are not really a good mixture of situations!  Blogging has definitely had to take a back seat over the last few weeks. 

Today we are taking off for the UK, Bulgaria, The Netherlands and Hong Kong.  It's been quite stressful getting all the required gear together for the little ones and myself, but I think we are packed now as much as we are ever going to be and I'm actually looking forward to getting on the plane and taking to the skies.

By the way, the Maika shop is in holiday mode and will re-open when we return in August.  I won't be disappearing from here though, I'll be posting little things from our travels, maybe even catching up on blogging a few sewing projects I've finished with photographs from these exotic locations....

See you from over there!

Monday, July 9, 2012

For one week only

For just a week and only a week I had to move my sewing machine upstairs to the comfort of the dining room table.  Larger work space, better light, direct access to cups of coffee and biscuits as I work.  Bummer, hey?

It was too cold downstairs and there was too much sewing to do to spend time away from the living room during the day when there were also children to be looked after!  The crawling one had a fascination for the foot pedal and I had to turn the machine off for a while so he could make its acquaintance and get it out of his system.  It's not easy trying to sew when both you and your little one are pushing down on the foot pedal - its a bit of a run away stitching situation let me tell you!

Why all the sewing?  My friend Elizabeth from Nest Nappies requested that I make some baby pants for her cloth nappy shop and I agreed.

Three pairs for boys.

And three pairs for girls.

I even made my own swing tags from recycled materials!

Attached with kitchen twine along with a business card I think these turned out very presentable indeed.

The little bit of holiday pocket money I earned didn't go astray either.  I'm excited to see how there are received in the Nest Nappies store.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sharing on Sunday

I'm stealing a Sunday night blogging catch up here - heater is on, telly is showing something decent, a cup of tea is made and there's pear and chocolate cake for dessert.  We've had a busy week just gone - the last week of school term was full of activities, my parents came for in impromptu visit and to be honest I've enjoyed a little bit of a break away from the computer (but not the sewing machine!).

I'm going to ease myself back into blogging by sharing some pictures of the blouse I made from my own pattern.  The basis of this top was pattern New Look 6892 which is a peasant style blouse.  I've made it a few times before and it's fairly tight fitting.  I wanted to loosen it up so widened the bodice to be more like top B from The Stylish Dress Book, which I made here.

Instead of creating a casing for an elasticised neckline I gathered the front part of the bodice only (which keeps the neckline nice and low instead of drawing it up higher), 

I gathered the top of the sleeves at the shoulders, 

and put some tucks in the back neckline.  

I finished the neckline with bias binding, hand sewing it on the inside.  I also didn't make elasticised sleeves, again using bias binding around the hem edge to finish them off.

To be honest I didn't really know what I was doing here in terms of making the blouse fit around the neck and shoulders.  I took some measurements of tops I already had in my wardrobe and tried to make an educated guess about how much to gather where etc., but it was a healthy dose of luck that got it to fit as well as it did.  I did have a moment of panic when I thought that without the elastic neckline I wouldn't be able to get the top on over my head...but my worries were unfounded.

One thing I was aiming to do was bring the back neckline up higher as I found it scoops down a bit low but had one of those "ah-ha" moments when I eventually realised that such a modification is due to the cut of the armhole and not a matter of how gathered or not the back bodice fabric is.  I'm learning, learning here I tell you!

Then to finish I (rather stupidly) sewed a double hem at the bottom of the blouse.  Once you get a little bit of wonkiness in either of the rows of stitching its super noticable where its not in a single row of stitches. Ergh. I was also thinking I might bring the sides in just a little but, and now I have two rows of stitching to unpick at the hem instead of the usual one, which pretty much guarantees that I'm not going to be making any modifications in that department any time soon.

In the gorgeous Brisbane winter sun I've been wearing this blouse with jeans, boots and a scarf, plus I've had some lovely compliments on it too so I'm further encouraged to modify and merge patterns more of course you know I've got something going in the works already...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My creative space: operation alteration

I've got a little alteration job to do.  I found this lovely dress hanging on a rack of left over summer stuff at the BigW department store.

Talk about a super special. That's right, the price tag says $5.

The dress is a size 16 though, which I am not, but it's not massively huge on me so a little taking in down the sides, particularly around the armholes ought to do it.

There's always a tie to bring it in at the back.

I've started by removing the side zipper.

Yes, there's a bit of summer sewing going on....because in a month we are heading to the European summer for a bit of a frolic in the sunshine.  Whoo hoo!

For more creative spaces pop on over here!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

From the bottom of my stash

There's quite a lot happening at my place at the moment.  This week in particular is so hectic that it seems to have a life of its own.  Among all the "life" stuff I have a list of sewing jobs that I really, really want to get done in June - both for myself and for my shop.  I don't know why I have suddenly had such a burst of activity to make things for the shop right now, I guess I felt like it had been ignored for too much of this year.

So here's another little pinafore that I have just uploaded - again a size four.  A vintage fabric skirt with a denim and red cotton bodice.

You might recognise the fabric from here.  I still wear my skirt in this fabric, it's a summer staple in my wardrobe, I love it.  I'm so glad to have finally put the left over piece of fabric to good use (and if you've clicked on the link you can calculate how long I've had that fabric in my stash!).

Monday, June 11, 2012

Staying in

A wet, cold and windy Queen's birthday long weekend here.  Three out of the four of us are in various stages of recovery from a runny nose lurgy that swept through our household last week.  We are inside with the heater running and the oven on making chocolate cake, meringues and grilled cheese sandwiches.  Later I'll be putting in some lamb to slow cook with potatoes.  When it's cold go for comfort food I say.

The floor is strewn with Duplo, kid craft paper offcuts, baby toys and sandwich crumbs.  The dining table is covered with sewing, sheet music and recipes and the coffee table is covered with my crochet granny squares.  

This weather is great motivation to try and get to the finish line with my crochet blanket. I've got 18 squares done and I'm aiming for 20 squares to make a small 4 x 5 blanket.

I have to get those spaghetti ends woven in and then work out how to join them together and do a nice edging around the outside border.

I'm also working on my couch dint in the process.

Are you having a cozy long weekend too?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Shop update

I've added a few new things to the shop lately that I thought I would share with you.  Mostly I seem to do my shop updates on the Maika Creations Facebook page, so if you would like to be more up to date than my rather sporadic updates on the blog, then you know what to do!

Size 4 pinafore dress in blue and vintage green daisy fabric

Size 2 gathered pocket skirt in blue

Size 2 gathered pocket skirt in pink

Hopefully I'll be getting a few more things listed, including some boy's long sleeved t-shirts, during the month of June so stay tuned!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Small, fast and gratifying

I've been struggling a bit with making my new blouse.  It's coming along, just at snails pace, probably because the result I will end up with is still a bit vague in my mind and not concrete like it would be if I was simply following a fixed set of instructions.  To be honest it's kind of annoying me actually.  I need some free time to concentrate on it properly.  A lot of free time I don't have.

While I was cutting it out though the left over fabric suddenly and unexpectedly said "baby pants" to me.  My lovely friend's new baby is already one month old and I had been meaning to make a few baby things for her so I whipped up a pair of basic baby pants and a few bibs from fabrics I had in my fabric stash.  

Nothing like sewing something small as a little side project distraction, then to finish, wrap and pop it in the post gives a satisfied feeling of a job well done.

Welcome to the world Deunan Rose!


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