Friday, 29 April 2011

This Moment

A Soule Mama  here inspired Friday ritual - a single photo - no words

Frosty mornings and some new motivation

Until the sun hits the house it's pretty cold for outside activities so with cousins over to play some more craft was had - making mothers day cards.

paper craft

Mean while I am still thinking about the how to adapt silhouette idea for sewing

Then there was some creative play with the blocks

And when you are one less scooter than the number of kids, the stop/go person became a very desirable thing to do and so everyone was happy!

Also check out the link on the right for kids clothes week - I'm going to do the challenge - to sew 1hr a day making kids clothes for your kids for a week - I have a few niece and nephew birthdays coming up so it will be motivation to make some presents.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Birthdays and Glitter

I have decided we should have parties more often, the bathrooms are clean, windows washed and our house very tidy!  As well as all that, lots of happy kids and the birthday girl ( actually her birthday was some time ago but thats another story) is pretty happy with some new toys/gifts - one of which is a craft book with some great ideas.

Reading up for some new projects

So today while I was busy in the kitchen she spent a happy hour with glue, stickers, pens making some great glittery creations. Her book also has some good ideas for Silhouettes - thinking this may look good on some cushions so may have to start on the pile of blankets in my linen cupboard soon. I have done a little crafting myself too and made progress on photo albums  - so much so that I have run out of some supplies ie photo stickers so will have to halt this one until I get more ( and find some more free time!)

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Dortje Pants

In the middle of a pretty busy weekend I managed to finish these little pants that I started a week ago.  The pattern is the Dortje pants from the book "Sewing Clothes that Kids Love" which I mentioned in an earlier post here. It has a little elastic at the side of the knees so it sits and moves well on the child.

Sewing for me is like a good book - once I start I find it hard to put down, so here I was  (having done a 2 hour mt bike race in the morning, playground all afternoon before dinner out) at midnight finishing them off! So this morning I packed my sewing machine away. Because I sew at the kitchen table I find it hard to resist doing "just a little bit" every free moment - consequently the house gets the hurricane look as clean washing waits to be folded, beds need to be made - you get the picture ( I do make meals and do dishes but non essentials wait).  Also because I am holding a very belated 4yr old party in 2 days I need to get a little organised!

We also took our 4 yr old rockclimbing on a local boulder for the first time today - which she loved! It was lots of fun, she just took to it and scrambled up, no fear at all, she did the same climb about 5 times because it was so much fun.  I thought she might be a bit young but was so keen to try - I'm glad we took her.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Felt Flower Brooches and other projects

In the last school holidays we spent some time making things out of felt.  One of the things we played around with was making felt brooches and I ended up with quite a few.  Most of which we gave away as gifts .

With just these 4 left I have decided to embark on an unfinished project with small beginnings - I have finally started a shop on felt (link is at top right of my blog - it will be a couple of days until it is up and running).  I'm planning to sell a few different things - some kids clothes and a few random items like christmas decorations and the cushions that  I have on my unfinished project list.  Our poor linen cupboard is over flowing due to the lovely blankets I have slowly been collecting for this purpose - so I'm sure I'll have support on this one from my husband!  So watch my blog for updates on this if you are interested.

I also thought I'd show you a few of our past felt projects for inspiration.

The fishing game was from Creative Play for your toddler by Christopher Clouder and Janni Nicol, I hand stitched the fish and attached little steel rings, fridge magnets glued to the strings works for the rods. The draw string bag to keep them in is a scrap of Amy Butler fabric.

These lovely rolled felt necklaces look like they should be edible and come from the fantastic book Green crafts for Children by Emma Hardy. They were easy and I always get comments when I wear my one which is in the bright primary colours.   This book had a number of really good projects to do with kids, while a 4 year old needs quite a lot of help , they are a positive and fun way to spend some time with your child.

Polly Pocket and Strawberry Shortcake were in desperate need for sleeping bags , handbags and a few other items (apparently!) after a family camping trip so one wet morning we came up with these.  They are great as portable and have provided hours of entertainment.  I have found felt is great to work with but watch out for the really cheap stuff as it stretches and can make it tricky to handle , one with a little wool in it seems to work better or the more expensive acrylic ones.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Baby gets a new hat

With the colder weather came a request for a new hat for baby. 

The new hat! I used the super easy pattern from sew mama sew here, it is for newborns so I just sized it down to fit a doll. 5 minutes on the overlocker ( a bit slack - I just left the black thread rather than change to matching so is a little untidy looking- dolly seems happy though!)

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Better Colours

Here is a better picture of the natural dyed eggs, much prettier now a little stronger colour. The blue egg on the left and the left brownish one were the eggs I returned to the dye solution.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Natural Dyed Eggs

After reading SouleMamas blog I thought we would have a try at dying some decorative eggs.  It was a somewhat messy but fun affair. 

The colours don't show up very well, they are much more distinct colours in the real but with fading light I had to use the flash. We used frozen blueberries for the blue, tumeric for the yellow (most effective) and coffee for the brownish colours.   Possibly because we started with brown eggs and (being a little impatient) we did not leave for more than 30 minutes in the dyes we have quite muted colours.  I hard boiled the eggs first as I figured they would be easier for a 4 year old to handle (& not so messy if dropped!) Twistable crayons worked well and were easy to write with.  Next time I'd like to get hold of some of the India Tree natural dyes that Soule mama mentioned in her blog - I suspect these would be better for those of us who like instant gratification!

Several hours later.....

Yes - soaking for longer has definately strengthened the colour - I threw 2 eggs back into the blueberry and coffee mix respectively for a few hours and both much stronger colour.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Paper Craft for Easter

After a busy weekend away with lots of sport but no craft, we spent some of our morning making some Easter cards/decorations.

We used some lovely patterned Japanese cellotape that we picked up on a trip ealier this year to stick a few strips down with too ( The pink and blue clothes lines and the black fairy scene on the pink background are all tape).The paper was all in a cheap scrapbooking pack from the Warehouse, useful to have lying around as we use it in all sorts of things over the school holidays.

After doing a few eggs we played around with rabbits too.

Then we got sick of cutting and glueing and did some colouring.  This is a good project to do with preschoolers, I ended up cutting most of the strips and around the shapes but glueing all the bits seemed to be the most fun part for a 4 year old.  I also managed to start a project off my list  (I always find it hard to start something I know will take more than an evening) - I spent about 2 hours tonight doing photo albums - only about a quarter of the way through so might be a while before I post the finished result!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Simple sewing for Japan

Yesterday I noticed on Stitchbird a request for donations of handmade items (clothes and toys) for children in a kindergarten in the Sendai region of Japan.  So since the Insa skirt was so quick to whip up I made another out of the scraps in my cupboard. I know not an unfinished project on my list - new ones just keep creeping in, but a good cause and  I did use up some fabric that I have had for ages!

Then this morning my daughter being 4 and very into equality said I had to make something for a boy too!  So this afternoon we choose the fabric and I made a pair of trousers.  The pattern was the Cobana pants ( and was super quick and easy.  I changed the pocket a little to make it a v but otherwise used the pattern as it was.  The size 4 fitted my daughter really well although it is quite a slim fit - good for us.

We even had time for some scootering and picked fresh blueberries and dandelions in the garden on this beautiful Autumn afternoon - life is good!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Friday night craft

Last night I did a little project I have been wanting to do since I got Amanda  Blake Soule's book Handmade Home ( .  It has been on our shelf for 6 months now and having had a quiet Friday afternoon at home I got my daughter to do her part - the drawings and I created these cute little book marks.

Originally I had intended to give these away but they make me smile when I look at the drawings and remember what the description I was given was that ( one is a drawing of herself in a princess crown) I'm going to keep these and make some more for gifts. I used some hemp/linen scraps from our curtains to embroider the designs on and backed with scraps from the little dresses I made  pictured in the earlier post.

A Little bit more travel

Mobile travelling equipment

Prams and backpacks ( and it feels like the kitchen sink too when you line up all the bags to take to the airport!)

Backpacks - We had a macpac pack to carry our child in.  Great to wear but too big for take on luggage.  I decided that if we were to do it again with a young child who needs carrying at times that a fold up pack like the Ergo is the way to go. That way you can use it in airports and it is so much easier than lugging a big pack around and you have free hands when your toddler is in a pack.  They all seem to double as an infant front pack and then as the child gets bigger a back pack.

A Stroller or pram is good for cities when even terrain, allows your child to sleep and rest when needed too.  We always had so much stuff that we opted only once to take a small stroller and it was great as carrying your child in a pack a lot on hard pavement tends to give you a sore back. I wouldn't bother having one for the airports again as most international airports tend to have them available for you to use in transit areas and if you had a soft style backpack you could use this instead.

Inflight Entertainment

We found a portable DVD great as the movies in the back of the seats on planes tend to be too high for a little one to see properly.  Our rule about limiting TV time does not exist on planes - anything to keep a small child happy on a long flight was good for both us and passengers around us!
Stickers and a roll of masking tape - fantastic for 2-3 yr olds.  Buy the painters (usually pale green or blue) from the hardware store as it is low residue and let your child show you what you can do with it.  Easily cleaned up at the end of the flight and we got some very interesting creations from unused paper/cutlery etc from the meal tray!  Colouring pencils and paper always seem to work well for us.  Also when our daughter was smaller I always got one or two new plastic animals to add to our collection and wrapped them up to bring out as needed on the flight . LOTS of snack food is a must as well as often kids sleep through meals and much easier to have favourite food with you.

Lastly we bought a CARES flight safety harness which we have found great.  Because our child is so used to car seats she was fine with this and it stopped her from wriggling out of the lap belt etc as small kids are prone to do.  Only issue on long flights was sleeping as she just couldn't get comfortable in it, so used to lie across the seat with the lapbelt across her hips midflight but I would buckle her in for takeoff and landing.  Only once we were asked not to use on an air japan flight where the hostess said she had to be able to lean forward to brace against the seat in front ( like she could reach when her feet only just came off the edge of the seat) . Despite my explanations that the reason for using the harness was she could not brace this way they insisted we removed the shoulder straps.  (I did this and as soon as we were going down the runway and the staff were seated where they could not see I buckled her back in) .  Read all the data at kidsflysafe above as they explain it well.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Travel with children and car seats

A bit of a diversion from my idea to write about my craft projects but someone asked me today about travelling with small children as we have done quite a bit with our child and I always struggled to find information on the web about this.

I'll do a couple of posts about various aspects of travelling with kids.  We have been on short trips to Australia (4hour flight) as well as gone to Thailand once and Japan twice before our daughter turned 4.  Travelling with car seats has several issues.  Delicious baby has lots of information  Based on our experiences here are my thoughts below.

1. How to take on the plane

A case of damned if you, do damned if you don't.  Ours is too big to fit in the plane and you definitely risk damage to your seat putting it in the hold, but if travelling to places like Thailand or Japan  renting on arrival is not a option easily available so you will need to take yours. My preference is in a clear plastic bag.  The time we put ours in another bag to protect it and packed stuff around it one of the plastic buckles got broken - obviously having been under considerable force so I figure it is more likely to be thrown in on top if it is in a plastic bag - so far so good for our current seat.  It pays to check the seat over carefully when you get to your destination. If you are planning on a lot of travel it would be worthwhile getting one to use on the plane although I can imagine this being a hassle for sleeping on long flights , ( I can't imagine our daughter  managing to sleep for 7  to 8 hrs upright in her car seat without waking) best practice is not always practical- our daughter always lies across the seat with the lap belt across her hips and head on my knees.
Most airlines will also make you sign a disclaimer against damage.  If you are planning lots of travel to destinations that you want a stroller too then one of the convertible models that doubles as both may be worth the investment.

2. Using you seat at your destination

Fine in places like Japan where cars all have diagonal belts but don't expect tether strap bolts - better to have a car seat which doesn't need them.  We have a Phil and Teds one that just needs the diagonal belt. Thailand however was a different story - we did 2 long trips by minivan - no belts and scary driving. We ended up securing our car seat using rockclimbing  slings and caribiners to the minivan seat and our daughter (26 months old at the time)was in her 5 point harness that is part of the car seat.  Not road safety approved way to secure the seat but it was either that or no seat belt and missile child! The same for bus trips in Japan - icy winter roads and although there was a lap belt to secure the seat  with it felt dodgy so we backed this up with climbing tape system we brought with us for this.
The other advantage of a car seat in the bus is that it elevates a small child so they can see out of the windows.

3. Other options

Renting seats - yes in some places but variable quality of car seat and you don't know the seats history - has it been in an accident? etc. In NZ and Australia I have had good experiences renting with new looking and good quality seats.  I looked at renting as an option in both Japan and Thailand and could not see anywhere for either country.  You could probably buy car seats at the destination but if the country does not have mandatory car seats for children I understand they can be hard to find. There are some harness systems available but the one's I have seen all require a tether bolt directly behind the seat and a lap belt to use - and so most vehicles won't have both of these.  Likewise the adjusters for diagonal seat belts for kids over 14kg - the places where I would have wanted this the vehicle never had a diagonal belt - my experience suggests the places you could use these are also countries that finding a rental car seat would be easy too.

Travel by train where you won't need a car seat  is always a good option!

Hope this inofrmation is helpful, I'm happy to answer any questions about Japan or Thailand travel with kids too so leave a comment if you wish too.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Insa Skirt in action

Well the skirt got lots of twirling action today, not to mention tree climbing, feeding ducks and a couple of hours at kindy! More amazingly it still looks new - and I have one very happy four year old ( and mum).

Apologies for the very average photo - not a very cooperative model today.

I have yet to decide on my next project.  In the meantime I took some photos of my previous sewing projects for my daughter - I like looking at other blogs as often it provides me the inspiration to get on with my own - so hopefully this does the same for you.

These wee dresses/tunics are great as they start life as a dress and turn into a tunic top before outgrown. The purple one on the right is a fine pincord that my sister actually made for her daughter and when it came to us I added the felt flowers and embroidery.  I'm not sure what pattern she used and I drafted the pattern for mine to fit my daughter.  However most of the standard patterns ie Butterick , Burda etc have something very similar.

This little skirt is just a straight strip with an elastic waistband - very simple . This is actually version 2 as the first one I made I didn't make wide enough and so it was a bit restrictive for things like bike riding.The owl pattern I machine appliqued on.
This is a favourite skirt with a folded piece of stretch fabric for the waist band which makes it really comfy (Band is half turned down in this picture).  The fabric is an Amy Butler cotton.  This is a design that I want to make for myself but previous efforts haven't been very successful - I can't seem to get the cut quite right and the waist band either ends up too loose or a bit gathered.  Something to do with good child bearing hips and a smaller waist I suspect!  I have a lovely piece of Japanese fabric with a black background that I have in mind for my skirt but would like to get the cut right first.  So if anyone knows of a pattern I can buy please let me know:)

Monday, 4 April 2011

Project 1 - the finished Insa Skirt

Well here it is - completed project number 1 ! The photo makes the colours look a bit muted - in reality it is very bright.  Unfortunately the twirling girl is in bed asleep so I will get an action picture tomorrow.

The actual skirt was very easy to sew but the ribbon and applique flowers took quite a bit of time.  Some of the things I learnt along the way were:  Lighter fabric would be better, this is made with 100% cotton which hopefully will soften a bit with wear and washing but I think a fine lawn would sit well with the 2 layers.  Ribbon  width 1cm or less is much easier to sew on a curve.
For a beginner the instructions in the book are pretty brief but weren't hard to follow. I chose not to run elastic on the joins of the upper skirt as the book suggests - just personal preference. The patterns are given without a seam allowance so I just cut a size up and by the time I had sewn it the size looks good. Can't wait to see it on tomorrow - a skirt for all occasions.  No point in wearing only a few times - this skirt is intended to get worn scootering, climbing trees, to kindy and of course for twirling!

Year of the Unfinished Project

Have you got a cupboard/room/house full of unfinished projects?  If so follow me on quest to clean out our spare room.  I have decided that 2011 is the year to finish all my half baked projects and needing a bit of accountability decided to start a blog where I post my projects as I go.  A little late in starting (eek April already and snow on the mountains today!) but my plan is to complete a project a month.   So what is on my list - well a bit of a mix - a lot of sewing projects with a bit of knitting and embroidery thrown in and a photo album or two as well.  Hopefully you will find a bit of inspiration here too for your own projects.  So thanks for joining me here.

Project 1 is a skirt for my twirling 4 year old - the Insa skirt from the fantastic book "Sewing Clothes Kids Love" by Nancy Langdon and Sabine Pollen. This is a fabulous book and the Feliz dress is also on my list but the Insa skirt looks easier so I'll do that first.

The Insa skirt is a 2 layer skirt on a yoke with an elastic waist band.

So into the cupboard and after a rummage around I have decided on a combination of these fabrics.  The pink spotty one from my local fabric store will be the underlayer and the blue spot and green/blue patterns alternate for the top layer .  I am going to use the two tone pink one for the yoke/waistband.  the later 3 fabrics all come from Spotlight (a big craft store chain in NZ).

  I've got lots of tape and will use this for trim along with applique some flowers onto the upper layers.

I am going to get started tonight so will hopefully be posting the finished results ( and a bit of the process along the way) tomorrow.