Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday shop update, and blog update!

Hello there!  I've just added two new dresses to my shop, don't they look delicious?  Head on over there to check them out if you are in the mood for a bit of Friday retail therapy.

In other shop news I have also just completed and sent a custom order for three t-shirts with balloon holding elephant appliques.  I was very lucky with these as t-shirts are starting to disappear completely from retail stores in favour of long sleeved things.  Ridiculous really when you're in t-shirts probably 9 months of the year here!  I managed to fulfill the request for colour and sizes of shirts and they are on their way to New Jersey, USA.  It always amazes me where my little garments can end up in the world.

And lastly, in case you hadn't caught up with this news already, I thought I would mention that last month I wrote a tutorial for the Imagine Gnats blog on recycling a man's shirt to make a pair of small boys' shorts.

I'll be writing a few articles for Imagine Gnats through out this year so I'll keep you posted here on when they happen.

Happy weekending!

Monday, February 3, 2014

A slight name change :: Maika Creations is now Maika Made

The start of a new month, a new blog name - why not?  I am making an announcement here and now that my blog name has changed from Maika Creations to Maika Made.

To be honest I've wanted to get rid of the word "creations" from my blog name for some time now.  Way back when I first named my blog I was doing a lot of soft toy making and trying my own thing with them so they were my little "creations".  But now I more enjoy dressmaking and for myself I feel that takes a lot less creativity and a lot more technicality in using sewing patterns, adjusting fit and learning new sewing techniques and tricks.  I don't feel that the creation part really fits me any longer and I've fallen out of love with it. So I've taken the plunge for a little update that's not drastic enough that I'll suddenly disappear to some far flung corner of the internet.

Breaking all the "rules" of naming blogs and online shops and such I do admit that I have chosen a blog name that is a little hard to pronounce, not even my family get it right most of the time!  The word maika is pronounced m-eye-ka, not may-ka as I hear it pronounced frequently.  The first time I heard someone say it like this I was a bit surprised, but then I realised it was a little silver lining because making is what I do so if you want to pronounce it like the word maker then who am I to worry about it!  For myself though I use the word maika because it translates from Bulgarian (and a few other languages) to English as the word mother. Mother made, that's what best describes what I do for my family and my home so that's what my blog name has now come to be.

I have been subtly trying to will the word "creations" away but it keeps following me around so now I'm being proactive about scratching it out as much as possible.  While I have changed this blog name, the URL will not change, it will still be as I don't want to lose traffic or kill any existing links to my blog.  Out there on social media and the like I have changed my name on Facebook, Instagram and Flickr AND I've changed my Etsy shop name.  I'll be working soon on new header for my blog to reflect the name change, plus I haven't changed my header in such a long time it's nearly got virtual cobwebs on it.

So there you go, I've done it.  Finally.  Feels good.

Friday, January 31, 2014

All dressed up

As promised, and before January 2014 fades into recent history, I'm popping in today to share some pics of us at my brother's wedding.  Luckily they were married in the space between a couple of Melbourne heatwaves and also dodged the downpour and drizzle of the day before.  They had a perfect ceremony in the garden in the late afternoon sun and then the most fun reception in a gorgeous old house in a romantically leafy street.  It think one of the most picturesque places you can get in Melbourne.

As the only guests with children we had a surprisingly great time, the kids loved it - there were uncles, aunts and grandparents to have fun with, endless amounts of bubbles to blow from little mini champagne bottles and while everyone was looking at the bride alighting from the carriage I'm sure my boys had their eyes fixed on the two handsome horses pulling it.  We trotted the kids back to our accommodation for bed at the appropriate times and thanks to two lovely school friends of mine they were taken care of while my husband and I enjoyed some adult time.  Its so rare for us to be dressed up and out together that I think we would have enjoyed ourselves no matter what!

And the boys outfits - a total success for handmade!  They suited the formal occasion perfectly and gave the boys a sense of importance and inclusion amongst all that adult company.  A few people spoke to me about their little outfits and I wasn't shy about explaining how they were made...and then someone asked me if I had made my own dress...well no, but maybe there will be another time for such a project.

Everyone loves wedding photos so without further ado, here's a selection:


And finally, one of my favourite pictures from the afternoon, me and my brothers and my crazy toddler chasing bubbles and getting in the way of an otherwise great photo - love that kid to pieces.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Summer days :: a no sew zone, almost

Not much sewing going on here at the moment, I'm flat out just muddling my way through the summer school holidays with two little boys.  Trips to museums, galleries, the movies, a theatre show, a puppet show, swimming lessons and water play with friends at the local pool.  Mucking about under the sprinkler in the garden, Saturday afternoons on the beach, watching The Muppet Show on DVD, coping with the odd heatwave and a short but sharp runny nose thing that swept through our family.  I'm exhausted just thinking about all that we've done.

In my "spare" time I have squeezed in making a couple of pairs of pants for the boys to finish these outfits for my brother's wedding this coming weekend.

They are Made by Rae's Parsley pants pattern with pouch pockets and the tuxedo stripe options, in a charcoal quilting cotton.  I took a little bit of the flare out of the leg and also for the first time made a flat front pant.  The pants are an easy make even though there were lots of new little details I've never tried in pants making before.  The final fit is really great and the boys can't wait to wear them - win, win.  I'll treat you to a few pics of them in their outfits in due course.

I've also started to make what is possibly one of the easiest garments to sew and it's taking me the longest time ever to finish them...I'm making some sweet pillowcase dresses from some lovely embroidered pillowcases I've had in my stash for some time.

These dresses will be headed for the shop in a few weeks once school goes back and I have time to set up my photography gear sans seventy billion interruptions.

We are off to Melbourne tomorrow (eek, I've still got to pack!) and returning just in time for the first day of the new school year.  If you want to follow what we get up to just come and follow me on Instagram.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Makes 2013 :: looking forward to 2014

Hello 2014!

I really thought 2013 was going to be a year of change for me, and while it didn't really pan out that way I learned to accept things more and enjoy this moment in time in my life.  Particularly in the second half of the year I realised how lucky I am with my little family and our relatively trouble free life.  I ate better, I slept better, I felt happier, I embraced the every day more and worried less about the "should have, could have, would have".  I was offered a great job and then was un-offered it which was just crushing but it made me start to make some serious plans and find connections that were there just waiting for me all along.  The big changes I was looking for didn't happen but in the end I think I was happier for that.

That said, I hope again that there's going to be a lot of changes for me this year, I'm ready to shake off the full time stay at home mum label, I'm ready to use that teaching qualification I finished four years ago, I'm ready for more sewing and ready for having more fun with photography and I'm ready for a few changes to this blog for sure, nothing like a little shake up and refresh. A new look and a slight name change are brewing in my mind, but I will be tackling that all in good time (I've got my fourth party of guests for the holiday season arriving this afternoon...toilets need cleaning and beds need making!)

Due to a lack of access to my sewing room over the Christmas/New Years break I thought I'd start the year by looking back at some of my favourite makes for 2013 ::

I've never done a recap of a whole year of sewing and making before and I'm really pleased to see it all laid out like this.  A range of clothes for my boys (who says boys are hard to sew for!), skirts, tops and dresses for me, a spot of crochet, one cushion, one daycare blanket, one hat, one toy and some quilt blocks started this time last year that remain unprogressed 365 days later.  I started experimenting with knit fabrics (I'm still in the experimental phase there I think), did a good amount of upcycling/refashioning from found fabrics and op-shop garments and took part in some community sewing events such as Selfish Sewing Week and Kids Clothes Week (which is on again soon by the way, click here to find out more).  I also started making the clothing in my shop to a better standard, taking time to add trims and pockets and buttons that give the items a little more finished and polished look, and I've got plans to sew some new patterns to increase the range of things on offer there.  (I say every year that I must do more with my shop but it never happens, it remains a study in what happens when you put things for sale on the internet and then never promote them! And I'm happy with that right now.)

Here's hoping that 2014 is a happy year for you.

Now, lets get sewing!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Holiday fun :: the end of 2013

Summer holidays are on and we are all at home.  We've been alternating between relaxing together and preparing for the Christmas celebrations.  Interstate and overseas guests are joining us this year so it's going to be a full house of laughter, stories, conversations, music and eating up a storm.  I think this will be my last blog post for 2013, time is sparce for blogging.  I'll leave you with some holiday pictures from the last few weeks:

:: we've been playing and tidying up in the garden ::

:: I've been keeping the kids amused sewing them some new pillowcases.  We went fabric shopping together and found the Christmas fabric to be basically sold out so we went for Dr Seuss and dancing gnomes.  I call this photo "Thing One and Thing Two" ::

:: I also snuck in making a new green pillowcase for myself using some vintage sheet fabric scraps ::

:: and in between all this, and usually at nap and TV time, I've been sewing myself a new dress.  Another Washi dress from this beautiful navy linen, a recent op shop fabric find ::

:: I've finished a vintage sheet dress for the shop ::

:: and a book delivery in the mail has had me doing some dreaming and planning new sewing projects for 2014 ::

Thanks for reading along this year :: have a great Christmas and New Year's break and see you next year!  xx

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Let it snow :: making snowflakes

Not long to Christmas Day now, it's certainly well into the hot sub-tropical summer where I live but those Northern hemisphere traditions of fir trees, snow and sleigh bells prevail.  My son's class at school were busy in the final weeks of school making paper snowflakes and covering them in glitter to decorate their classroom, and while I have to say they looked a bit out of place in the heat, they were pretty.  Plus they got the kids pretty excited at the patterns they were making when they opened up their folded and cut paper.

Maybe your kids would like to make some too?  You only need to grab a few sheets of paper from your home office printer and square them up and you're ready for a quick and satisfying activity that no matter how hard you try its pretty hard to make a bad one or mess them up (glitter is absolutely not required if you don't want to go there in the mess department).  If your kids are old enough to wield a pair of scissors by themselves then they can make (and hang!) a few on their own which would give you at least thirty minutes to "get something done".  Goodness knows we're all making lists and checking them twice this time of year!

And ho!  Making his crafty debut on this blog is my seven year old son, Alexander and his instructions for making snowflakes.  

Here he goes (instructions left to right, top to bottom):

1. take a square of paper (we used 21 x 21 cms)
2. fold it diagonally into a triangle
3. fold it again down the middle to make a smaller triangle
4. take one corner bring it over enough to make a fold down the centre

5.  take the other corner and fold it towards the centre so that it wraps around the fold you just made
6.  cut off the two sticking out points so that the bottom edge of your folded paper is straight
7.  cut small shapes out of the two long edges of your folded triangle.  Little curves and triangles are good,          using pinking shears would also give some rather cool effects
8.  carefully unfold your triangle and you have...

...a snowflake!

I put little holes in the top of our snowflakes and hung them at the window with a couple of mini reindeer, a snowflake-reindeer bunting of sorts.  It's hard to photograph against the light coming in the window but it looks really great, plus they blow around gently and dance in the warm midday breeze and are guaranteed not to melt :: a win win.

Happy snowflake making.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Kimono scraps patchwork cushion :: for Mum

Last month my Mum had a birthday, a good enough excuse for me to travel back to my hometown of Melbourne for a family weekend.  It was great, I went alone and relaxed without the children.  I listened to my siblings and their partners talk around the dinner table about their pets. So refreshing, no talk of small people at all!

I tucked a handmade present under my arm when I flew down south.  I made my Mum a cushion - a patchwork of little scraps of kimono fabrics that I had been hoarding for years.  I know she loves pale shades of pink and purple so it just seemed like the perfect project to cut into those lovely fabrics.  I was so pleased at the way it turned out, and Mum loved it too.

Sewing with these fabrics was very much try it and see, there were lots of different fabric types and textures from a stiff kind of crepe to slippery silky ones.  I wasn't sure how they would combine together but it worked out just fine.  As you can see above the layout of the slightly rectangular pieces was four rows of six.  I top stitched down both sides of the long seams to add a bit of interest and to give the patchwork some strength.

The reverse side was three larger pieces using some of the same fabrics. I sewed these together and then just trimmed them with my rotary cutter to match the finished size of the patchwork side.  Again I top stitched along the seams.

I had also been waiting for an excuse to try out using pompom trim so when I saw this mauve trim in the store I knew it was the perfect finishing detail.  I pinned it into the side seams and then machine basted all the way around to keep everything in place before doing the final seam.  There was no way I was going to get a zipper closure into this cushion so I simply stuffed it with poly-fill and hand stitched the opening closed.

This corner was my favourite, a touch of gold on the flower and the dark blue leaves coming in from the edge.  So pretty. 

:: Happy Birthday Mum ::

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Parsley pants test

Somewhere in the next two months I have to finish some formal outfits for the boys for a family wedding. I already made them some vests during Kids Clothes Week but I'm still pondering options for pants.

I have been buying a few patterns lately, one of which was the Parsley Pants pattern from Made by Rae.  I wanted to see if the style and fit was something I would use in a formal outfit, and also now that we are pretty much out of Big Butt Baby Pants stage its timely that I add another pants pattern to my collection.

From my stash cupboard I pulled out a lovely woven Indian cotton fabric in blue and white stripes and set to work on a test pair that would at least be good for everyday wear if everything went to plan.  I made a size 2 for my two year old and included the option for the box pleat pockets on the legs for a bit of fun.

They were good for playing...

...and good for eating...

...and good for climbing...

...and good for running away in a search for more biscuits.

So overall a success for the one wearing them!

My thoughts?  The fit is slim at the top and flared through the leg and I think I had in mind something with more of a straight fit, but that's something that would be easy to adjust.  They were also very long, I took up a heap of fabric into the hems.  I think I'll do some comparing with some store bought pants to see where I could tweak the fit a bit, and probably I should try them on with shirt and vest to see them as part of a whole outfit.  Some thinking to do here.

Have you made the Parsley pants pattern, what did you think?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday shop update

Ah, the poor little Maika shop, so neglected! This week though I have been giving it a bit of love and care and have been tidying up some of the photos and info...and in the bargain I've found time to add three boys t-shirts into the offerings.  The elephant and yacht are size 2 and the fish is a size 3 - lovely and soft knit t-shirts with original design appliques using fabrics from my scrap bag.

And if I keep up the pace on my list of things to do there could be a new dress coming next week.


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