Category Archives: Sewing

Making the Jeans Fit

I may have been a little absent here in this space lately but I’ve been busy living life. You know how it goes. Keeping busy with the delight of this family and all that involves. But I have also spent quite a bit of time keeping company with my machines and serious amounts of gorgeous fabrics and threads. So I thought I’d share a few projects with you over the next little while. But it’s close the Christmas…. and that means that some of these ‘projects’ can’t been shown here till the new year – I’m sure you understand. But some of these are older projects but for whatever reason I just never got to sharing them here. And today I’ll start with one of those.

It was the beginning of winter when I realised that my little one’s legs were getting too long for these favourite jeans. These were a good, comfortable fit, not bulky (as jeans for this age have the tendency to be) and were simply a favourite for the older brother and now this little one as well. So I raided my scrap stash and added some buttons and red stitching and was quite pleased with the end result. And best of all they were well worn all winter.

Black Jeans 6Black Jeans 4 Black Jeans 3 Black Jeans 2 Black Jeans 1

Meet My New Friends

PJ7

 

Pyjama sewing seems to be a theme around here these days. It’s the change of season and the reality that these items get worn every single night for a whole season, or two, and rarely are they in any fit state to be handed down to the next child. So twice a year I find myself with the prospect of four children with sleepwear which is growing too short, stretched out of shape or simply worn out.

PJ1 PJ6

With one child outfitted nicely with summer sleepwear which I showed here and here. I then turned my attention to my littlest one. The weather was distinctly warming up and yet each night he was still being dressed in his winter pj’s. Oh dear. The fact was that he had nothing else to wear. No summer pj’s to fit him. Something is dreadfully amiss in this household once again. This Mummy must get sewing.

PJ2 PJ3

I dug through my fabric stash and stumbled upon this blue knit. It has resided in my fabric drawer for many years. In fact, I’m fairly sure it was given to my by my Mum who had purchased it, ahem, about 20 years ago. She had intentions of making my younger brother something but obviously it never eventuated and he grew up and the fabric ended up in my stash. So summer pyjamas for my youngest, Perfect.

A simple Kwik Sew pattern from the book ‘Sewing for Toddlers‘ provided the pattern for shirt and simple knit pants. I must note that this book is equally as old as the fabric, having been handed on from my Mum’s sewing room as well. I have enjoyed being the recipient of much of her sewing paraphernalia over the years.

I did a super simple machine embroidery design on the front of each because I knew he would think this was pretty good. And he does. Each night he reaches for his frog shirt and proceeds to hop around the house making frog sounds in his throat. Or if that shirt isn’t there his ‘boat friends’ come out. Why ‘boat friends’? I’m not sure. But he’s rather cute when he snuggles into his ‘boat friends’ as well.

PJ4 PJ5So now I have two boys sleeping very contentedly surrounded by their Mummy’s love sewn into the sleepwear. Good night. Sleep tight.

 

 

Today I’m joining up with:


 

Guess What I’m Dreaming of…

 

Guess What I'm Dreaming of

The weather has grown warmer and it’s been such quite a pleasant surprise to have at least one of my children appear with nice-looking, good-fitting pyjamas to wear on these warmer spring nights. Earlier in the year I shared the first pair of pyjamas I made here. But what I didn’t tell you at the time, was that while the machine was buzzing in a pj making mode, I whipped up a second pair out of all sorts of mismatched, leftover fabrics and stowed them away till the warmer weather hit once again. So it was with quite a surprise that my now 6 year old discovered these in his drawer this past week. And I’ve enjoyed the fact that a new, hand made outfit was discovered and given it’s seal of approval by the recipient – these pj’s have been worn every night he’s been at home since their discovery. After all when you are six and have the option of sleeping surrounded by bright, fun cars, mismatched buttons, newspaper advertisements and funky tags – why wouldn’t you choose them?

Guess What I'm Dreaming of 2

Guess What I'm Dreaming Of 3 Guess What I'm Dreaming of 1

 

 

Details:

Pattern - Kwik Sew 3945: I found this to be true Kwik Sew style, very simple with easy instructions. The nice thick paper the pattern is printed on makes it easy to trace out and I like that I can make winter and summer pj’s for all the children out of this one pattern. The sizes are a bit confusing as XS, S, M, L, XL could really be any size from newborn to adult. I have a size guide on my shop which I used to compare and used size S for my 5 year old, height 115 cm.

Fabric – My newest favourite fabric company whom I’ve only just discovered is Riley Blake designs. So many of their fabrics are just begging to be made into children’s clothes and I’ve used quite a few already. The ribbon trim is also Riley Blake spot grosgrain.

What I’m Learning – Being Present

Stitching It was plainly obvious that something was not working in my daily rhythm. The afternoons from when my littlest woke from his sleep till he went to bed at night – sometimes far later than he needed – were not pleasant. My littlest was displaying plain naughty characteristics and I was becoming a more cranky Mummy by the minute. Each afternoon was turning into a battle. I would dread it. The older children were missing out on my focused attention and any response I gave was certainly not in a loving tone of voice. The littlest, well, he just got into anything and everything he knew he wasn’t allowed. And my husband would arrive home every day to a very frazzled family and a wife ready to explode.

Not a good way to live. And if this was only an odd day here or there, I’d just let it pass. But it was becoming a daily occurrence. Now, I’ve learnt a thing or two about this parenting lark. Until this point I had been battling a strong-willed 2 year old and ‘locking horns’ with him. And as you wiser Mums out there know, this is a rather unproductive way of approaching a situation such as this. So I got to thinking, the problem wasn’t really his behaviour. Because that was just the outward action, it wasn’t the cause of the problem. What was the cause? What was it that this littlest one of mine needed? Why did he seem so angry at the world? What was going on inside him for this to be the outworking?

I decided to give one day to observing him and giving him lots and lots and lots of focused attention, in an effort to break the cycle of our rather unpleasant afternoons. That’s when I discovered the answer. I was getting distracted each afternoon. Not completing enough in his sleep time and feeling short-changed. Then I would spend the afternoons in a distracted state. Maybe reading some blogs or checking facebook or googling something or…….. but I was feeling unfulfilled myself and was giving my attention to a screen rather than my family. (Humbling moment, I realise the cause is more about me than the little one.)

Now that I realised the my littlest one was really just needing a Mummy to be present and not distracted in the world of www’s and smart phones. What a relief. So I’ve set up a new afternoon rhythm around here. And it’s working wonders. The entire family is more content, less arguments, Mummy is happier which seems to trickle through to the whole family. I tend to greet my husband with a smile instead of a ‘I can’t take this any longer’ type of desperation. Just changing my afternoon to become present with my children for an hour or so has made a massive difference. And we all like it.

And, well, I almost feel a bit embarrassed telling you the simplicity of it all. What do I actually do? Well, I turn off all screens after the children’s rest time. Unless I need to make a phone call or something, well that’s fine, but not to have them around to waste my time and take my attention. And I, wait for it, this is the big, big, big change. I make a deliciously, hot, freshly ground, coffee. Take some embroidery and sit on our back deck. Yup. That’s it. Basically I take an hour out of my ‘feeling bored’ ‘wasting time’ afternoon and do what I would chose to do if I ‘had more time’ (win, win all around). The little one plays happily in the sandpit or back yard with minimal attention from me. But he knows I’m there to help him or watch him or give him attention if he needs it. The older children come and go. Different every day. Sometimes they join in the play outside, sometimes one will sit and chat with me (which I enjoy immensely), sometimes they might pick up a project and stitch alongside me, sometimes they might be busy inside. But everyone is productively enjoying the time.

Needless to say, I’m now LOVING my afternoons instead of dreading them. And our family is a much more content entity as a result of me taking an hour or two each afternoon to enjoy the outdoors with a coffee and embroidery in hand. What a delightful answer to a problem.

The Funky Details – Sewing Boys Shorts

The Funky Details

It was a while ago now. He came to me, this biggest boy of mine, with a request. A quiet voice, uncertain smile and sincerity in his eyes.

“You’ve made shorts for the other boys. Can you make some for me as well?”

A request like this from my soon-to-be-10-year-old son. Well, how could I resist.

“What do you want your shorts to be like?” I questioned.

Hmmm….. The thinking process lasted a day or so. Obviously such an important decision, required much thought.

“It’s the funky details I like the best. ‘Cause you’re a Funky Mummy. Any shorts, just a bit longer than the little boys though. But they must have Funky, Mummy details!” (Ever since this comment this boy has found ‘funky’ things I like in shops and magazines and calls me his Funky Mummy. I never realised I used the word ‘Funky’ quite so often.)

Well, the challenge was set. I’m a Funky Mummy. Said with such endearing love. I felt a little chuffed at that remark. With the ‘funky details’ ringing in my ears, I delved into my fabric stash, sat at the sewing machine and set to work.

The outcome delighted this big boy of mine and these shorts were well worn until the weather turned a little too cold.

Now that spring has hit us here in Oz, it’s time to revisit the wardrobes and discover what still fits and who needs what in the way of new clothing. With these shorts in hand, it’s been decided that all 4 children need some new, funky shorts for the summer days ahead.

Big Shorts 6

Big Shorts 5

The newspaper, car-classified section, fabric was a previous purchase chosen by Nicholas when we were making pencil cases together. So naturally his choice was to have the newspaper splashed across his shorts as well. Yellow was his chosen colour – “just because it works Mum.” Who am I to argue with that?

Big Shorts 4 Big Shorts 3 Big Shorts 2 Big Shorts 1

Little Dolls

Doll 3

 

A gift from her Aunty provided the inspiration – a beautiful sewing book, just perfectly designed for beginning sewers.The photographs are delightful and provide hours of browsing time when sewing isn’t ready to happen (read: Mummy is too busy to help). The projects are simple enough to be attempted while being practical as well.

After several smaller projects had been made, Holly decided a doll was essential. Not for her but for her little cousin. This cousin’s birthday was still half a year away, so we had plenty of time and Holly set to work.

This little doll has been totally made by Holly. Cutting out, stitching completely by hand, turning in right side, stuffing, sewing pretty clothes and embroidering the face on the completed doll. The head was slightly lopsided so she decided a big hair bow would solve the problem. I think she did a fantastic job. She diligently sat working with painstaking concentration to achieve small, strong backstitches. Then the face details were worked and reworked to look ‘just right’.

Doll 2Doll 1This little friend (who wasn’t named because that honour was left for her future owner) sat in my sewing nook for several months. She became a much loved addition adding some prettiness to our sewing / school nook. Then as the little cousin’s second birthday loomed closer, Holly realised she had a new little girl cousin who would be turning 1 soon as well. So the logical solution was to make a little friend for her doll. With only 1 week left till we would be seeing all the cousins, Holly set to work with a diligence rarely observed in her. She sat and stitched just as long as it took to finish off her doll and a couple days later we had two little girls sitting in my sewing nook. Ahh, how pretty and special as they were made with so much love.

Holly Doll 2

Holly Doll 1

 

I think a 7 year old girl must understand exactly what little girls love because these were received with great delight by her two littlest girl cousins. Along with an immense look of pride and delight on their maker’s face. Ahh…. the sweetness of little girls.

Holly Doll 4Holly Doll 3


A new smocked play dress

Yes. This Mummy has been busy once again outfitting this girl with another pretty, smocked, play dress. I started this project back at the beginning of summer but found the smocking part of this project a little more ambitious than I first thought. It seemed to take a lot more time than I had anticipated. Therefore instead of being a Christmas party dress, it’s now finished just in time for winter…. Thankfully adding a little jacket (which is on my sewing table at the moment) and tights will take it through our mild winter here nicely as well.

The smocking is all done with a beading needle because of those beautiful sparkling golden beads which adorn the entire, full smocked bodice. This means the smocking took a little more care than normal – those long, thin needles are easy to break and the bowl of beads sitting beside me meant that my working time had to be done only when my littlest was asleep (golden beads make lovely play toys, and they are extremely hard to pick up off the floor, trust us, we tested this many times!). Then once the front of the bodice is smocked, the entire bodice is back-smocked (just as much work but nobody sees it). And then just when I was thinking it was getting ready to be made into a dress, I began on the bullion knot flowers which cover the beaded bodice.

Quite a project for such a simple looking outcome. But that’s why I do it – because I love the process, the endless hours of creating and the delight of my girl wearing a pretty, girly dress.

White smocked dress 1 White smocked 3 White smocked dress 2 White smocked dress 4 White smocked 5 white smocked 6 White smocked dress 7 White smocked dress 8 White smocked dress 9

 

 

Notes:

Pattern – Australian Smocking and Embroidery Issue #63 (now out of print but other issues can be found here)

Fabric – a medium/heavy weight cotton pique (bought from a nearby fabric store). As I was working this, I thought maybe I should have chosen a lighter fabric. This was fairly heavy, not as heavy as fine whale corduroy but heavy for a summer play dress. The finished product though, has left me very happy. The weight of the fabric allows it to fall beautifully and on a older girl (age 7) it works to have a more substantial weight dress.

Details: The bodice is beaded with gold seed beads (from my craft stash). Finished with self-fabric binding and white piping. Golden, heart shaped buttons (from my newly discovered local fabric store) close the full back opening.

Sewing Boys Pyjamas

They grow, these children of mine. Daily it seems. I look at my big, grown up, five year old one evening and decide that things were quite a disgrace. His pyjama selection was rather short and tight and simply too small or worn out. How did this happen? I wonder… With a Mummy who sews and thinks pyjamas are a fun way to ‘play’ with fabric which I wouldn’t necessarily use for other clothing. But look at him – no decent bed time attire.

A trip to my local fabric store resulted in this ‘grandpa’ looking fabric found on sale. I thought it would work just perfectly. This time I even splurged out and bought a pattern (on half price sale of course) since I figured I’d be more inclined to run up a simple pair of pj’s if it was easy. And a simple Kwik Sew pattern seemed easy, rather than my previous style of pulling together half a pattern piece from here there and everywhere and partially drafting my own – now that seems the hard way of going about a simply sewing project, I do concede.

Diamond PJ's 1 Diamond Pj's 2 Diamond Pj's 3 Diamond Pj's 4

 

An hour or so later with a bit of creativity added into the details and my big boy had himself much better fitting set of clothes to wear to bed that evening.

Ahhhhh for the simplicity of going out and buying a pattern and buying fabric specifically for a project.

Details:

Pattern - Kwik Sew 3945: I found this to be true Kwik Sew style, very simple with easy instructions. The nice thick paper the pattern is printed on makes it easy to trace out and I like that I can make winter and summer pj’s for all the children out of this one pattern. The sizes are a bit confusing as XS, S, M, L, XL could really be any size from newborn to adult. I have a size guide on my shop which I used to compare and used size S for my 5 year old, height 115 cm.

Fabric – My newest favourite fabric company whom I’ve only just discovered is Riley Blake designs. So many of their fabrics are just begging to be made into children’s clothes and I’ve used quite a few already. The ribbon trim is also Riley Blake spot grosgrain. The diamond fabric is from the story ‘Fox Trails’ by Doohikey Designs by Riley Blake. The trim fabric is from the story ‘Dress Up Days’ by Doohikey Designs by Riley Blake.

Sewing a Sailor Dress

It’s been in my ‘to-be-completed-one-day’ box in my sewing room for quite a number of years. A packet full of fabric, rick-rack, grosgrain ribbon and threads which was given to me by my Mum. This package had been sitting in her ‘to-be-completed-one-day’ box in her sewing room for quite a number of years before handing it on to me.

Holly Sailor Dress Collage

A dress which she thought would be quite practical for a little girl who is fast growing into a young lady. A style which lends itself to the fun of everyday life with enough girlishness but not too much little kidish-ness for a seven year old girl. It’s a balancing act this – getting the practicality and style just right at an age when my little princess is still loving wearing Mummy made smocked dresses but really wants to be a big, grown-up girl as well.

I’ve discovered store bought clothes quite hard to find for this age. She has grown out of most of the younger girl ranges but the majority of the styles which now fit her are really aimed at teens or the new ‘in’ group labelled tweens. They are generally styles which aren’t all that suited for the innocence which still encapsulates this age. At seven she is still loving the flounces, frill, bows, pink and frilly but unfortunately clothing manufacturers don’t seem to agree with me here and only make these types of beautiful, girly clothes in the smaller sizes. But that’s a whole other story and I will refrain from getting on my soap box today.

Back to the dress in question. A kit was purchased quite a number of years ago – my guess would be about 15 – for my little sister. She was once a gorgeous, young girl with long, wavy, blond hair who wore smocked dresses almost daily. Seeing my Holly grow has been fraught with so many memories of the generation before, as I watched my little sister grow the same. Even now their names are interchangeable when I’m talking, especially when they are both in the same room. Thankfully they both answer to either and can usually figure out who I’m talking to – one now as an adult friend whom I delight in spending time with  and one as a daughter whom I also delight in sharing life together with.

As these young girls have a habit of doing, my little sister grew too big before the dress was completed. So the smocking was done and put back into it’s package as more pressing projects filled Mum’s sewing room. In this state it was handed on to me. A packet full of fabric, rick-rack, grosgrain ribbon and threads. A project in process which just needed making up and would one day fit my little girl. It seemed so big back then and it was almost a shock when I looked at it recently and realised my little girl had grown big enough to fit it.

A sewing blitz last Sunday afternoon saw a new dress hanging up ready to be modelled. And it obviously has been given the tick of approval as this new sailor dress has either been on Holly or in the wash ever since. It’s been building sandcastles on the beach, sipping baby chinos in coffee shops, shopping, visiting friends and just hanging out at home.

A project completed and a very happy daughter, a proud Mummy and a thankful Ma, who can see her smocking effort now being loved and worn.

Sewing Days

It’s been a buzz of fabric, threads and inspiration here lately. The machine hasn’t had a chance to stop and new projects continue to line up and wait for their chance to be turned from an idea sketched on a notepad, into something delightfully beautiful, or practical, or pretty, or …. whatever it needs to be.

Sewing Days Collage

Hexagons have been a constant friend of mine for the past 3 years, ever since I had the wild idea (as happens often) to begin a completely hand stitched, hexagon, king-sized bed quilt. Pictures of hexagon quilts had been hanging around my inspiration scrapbooks for a long time and I remember quite clearly the moment I decided to begin a massive, possibly life long project – it only needs approximately 10, 400 tiny, little hexagons all needing to be cut, tacked, and all six sides stitched together by hand. ‘Using up all the scraps of fabric,’ this was my excuse and justification. Ever since, a little purse of hexagons has been constantly with me. A moment here and there are all opportunities for a needle to sew a few little dots of colour together. Hexagons have been stitched while watching the waves roll over the beach, while on holidays in Vanuatu and New Zealand, while waiting for the children’s swimming and tennis lessons, and many other places, all having their memories stitched into the little pieces of fabric which are gradually increasing in number.  Eventually the hexagon bug grew to include my sister, her friend and now my Mum as well. So, spending some time together last weekend, in a sewing shop, filled with gorgeous fabrics, led us to purchase a selection of our favourites with the purpose of creating some pretty hexagons. After all, we were rather tired of looking at the same bundles of scrap fabrics again and again and again. The end result was some very pretty bundles of fabrics and an afternoon of delightful conversation as we began the process of cutting and stitching.

 

The creativity in the house seemed to be contagious as the older children all decided to dig out their stitching and join us in our delight of fabric and thread. It suddenly hits me as a moment to be remembered. Three generations, 6 of us in all, all enjoying our time spent together in laughter and joy, bound by a common family and common love of pretty fabrics and creative endeavours. A photograph of time which seems ‘normal’ to me but I realise is really a moment to be treasured.

 

Children Stithing March 2013 Collage

 

After the visitors left and this week continued to roll into it’s normal rhythm, the creativity continued to brew in my mind. I allowed it to take over this week as it just seemed to be the thing to do. I work well like that – immerse myself  quite completely into a project while it’s vision is fresh and exciting. So sewing became the theme of the week. The result so far is one which makes my heart smile. A pretty, floral quilt made out of a pile of left-over fabrics which had been cluttering up my fabric stash for a few years now. It will make a delightful addition to my table once the quilting is completed. Some machine embroidered boys toys are well on the way to be turned into aprons and ready for my Holly’s Patch  shop. A few repair jobs and projects further along in completion, including a smocked dress ready to be made up. A notebook with ideas in the waiting. And still a beautiful pile of fabrics just asking to be made into some beautiful things.

 

machine embroidery cars

 

Floral Quilt