Sunday, November 7, 2010

Creative Day (for a change)

The days are gallopping by & I seem to get less & less done each week.

It is only 3 weeks until we go on a holiday with the family. There is much anticipation & organisation going on. Flights, accommodation & all the rigmarole that goes with travelling times eleven people.

I'm sure MOTH thinks this will be like our previous holidays with our adult children, he seems to have forgotten that activities are not quite the same with a 7 month & 6 year old in tow. No drinking until all hours of the night or doing exactly as you please, when you please. This is the first family holiday with the grandchildren & hopefully there will be a few more in the future.

My knitting is progressing well. It would seem I've had a bit of a 'thing' for shawls of late having knitted 7 of them & 2 scarves. There was a pair of socks in there for our GS-so I did at least have a change!

On my needles at the moment is a 'coral' top for my DIL-its progressing quite well- only 1cm to go & then it's the bottom band & finished, this has been a quick knit & hopefully it will fit. The problem of knitting for someone when they aren't nearby to try things on as you go.

Today I managed to get some sewing done. Mostly I have just done little dribs & drabs of it & not produced anything much at all.

First up was a minky wrap for DD's GF who we did up a baby bundle for & she liked the wrap so much she's asked me to make another one. Heidi's request was for the same XOXO Cat fabric I had used for DD's change mat for her baby but there wasn't enough, so I pieced 6.5" squares of the cats & a purple fabric, bordered the whole thing in a lime green & then did the binding in what was left of the cats, hopefully this will suffice-all on hot pink minky as requested.

Not long after DD's baby was born we spent a lovely morning in at the Glebe Markets & DD liked some little singlets she saw. The lady who was selling them had done a great job embellishing them, but like a true crafter I knew I could do them just as good & save money as well.

It was a few months ago.

I did not think to take pictures, well you don't do you? Would be a bit rude!

Thing is, I don't remember what she did to them that made DD like them so much!

Out came all the ribbons, trims, laces & whatever I could get my hands on & I think I came up with 3 little cute tops that will bring the humble singlet out from under the outer clothes & be its own fashion statement. I will not be making these to sell. They were lots of fun but very time con summing & more than fiddly-especially those babooshka applique dolls- lets face it I did shrink the design significantly!

Yesterday I embroidered on 3 tea towels. I purchased the linen for these back in June when in Melbourne. Used a simple design & heavy weight cotton thread, no stabilizer in the hoop & hooped up the fabric. The back looks as good as the front & with no stabilizer to pick or wash out they were quick to make up. Certainly not a cheap gift, so I'll have to choose who I give these to.

Last weekend saw MOTH & I out in the garden taking a few pics. I managed to get one of a rather large blue-tongued lizard in the garden- he had gone by the time MOTH had found his camera, changed to an appropriate lens & generally pfaffed about!

Until next time,
Happy Crafting,

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Knitting & Life

We have a new grand baby! She's beautiful. Then, we are biased, she's also now 18 weeks old-so not so new.

I think I must have sewed myself out before her birth & knitted everything I could think of & then, nothing. Not a thing really. Got very slack.

The machine just wasn't calling to me. I've knitted a little. Life took over.

After the jubilation of the arrival of our grand-daughter we were shocked (doesn't even come close) to find she has a rare genetic disorder. You know the heel prick test all new borns get, that no one ever hears anything about? That one. Its called PKU and there is lots on the web about it. Missy was only the second baby born this year with it in New South Wales.
Life has settled down somewhat. Blood tests & changes in her formula (which smells shocking & she has for life) & breast feeding amounts. Her parents seem to be coping well with it all (not that you get a choice)-might be easier when solids are introduced. Fruit & vegetables is basically what she'll eat.Guess I'll be learning to cook all over again. I wonder if gluten free (me) & PKU can be blended (wouldn't be much choice there). The specialist unit at Westmead Children's Hopsital have been wonderful.

Missy is now smiling, laughing & 'talking' & today she rolled over, twice, just to show her parents it wasn't a fluke the first time! What a delight they are at this age & even better as a grandparent that you get to give them back when they start to cry too much. It's wonderful having them live so close as well-we don't miss any of the action this way.

Today I made Missy some new shoes-the ones I made her before she was born, she has grown out of, she may be small but she has big feet! (they are on another blog post further back). These ones were from and are so cute and girly. I made a size 3-6 months but aren't too sure that these will actually fit her. No matter I have another expected girl who they can go to.

On the knitting front I've made my Grandson some socks (special request as he had grown out of the last ones I knitted him) and have moved onto scarves and shawls-these have been sent to my DIL. I've found something else she likes and I'm only too happy to oblige! (it seems I have misplaced the pics on both my computers...hmmmm) Done some dishcloths & more baby tops for Missy-the needles are really empty these days.

A new position at work has also had me busy. These days its all day in the office, although I do escape sometimes to do the odd call or 2. A new challenge, in more ways than one!
Happy crafting

Simple Changemat

I have been missing for months.

Not that I haven been idle all this time, life just got in the way.

As promised here are the instructions on making a very simple change mat for baby. These make excellent gifts & I'm always being asked to provide one in a baby bundle or asked, how do I make them.

So here goes.

This is a SIMPLE change mat, designed to be folded up fairly small & taken in a handbag or baby bag, to be to be washed frequently & user friendly, it's not all singing all dancing. Also makes an excellent play mat when older and you need somewhere to sit bubs.

You could add all sorts of variations to this basic idea. Machine embroidery, applique to the outside, piping, PUL or vinyl (I don't find this practical cause if baby pees, or worse, while changing, it runs off- more than likely onto something you were trying to protect in the first place), also bubs sticks to vinyl- that's just me.

I am presuming that you do know how to sew a basic seam & have a little bit of sewing knowledge & you at least own the basics -sewing machine, scissors, thread etc.
You will need all these things.

Let's get to it.

Outer fabric.You'll need about a yard in length of 45" fabric or a metre of 115cm (even though I'm Australian & work in metric I'm not converting all the measurements, you'll get a bit of both more than likely- convert, its not all that hard.)

Cut the fabric in half length ways (down the middle on the fold)- you'll have enough for 2 change mats or matching bibs/ burp cloths or something else with the other half.

I use quilting cotton as there is such a huge choice & it launders well. You could use lightweight furnishing/ dress fabrics as long as they wash well.
Pellon- the iron on one- its not thick- you don't want thick if you want it to fold up small. By all means if you want lots of padding, go right ahead, just remember the thicker it is, the bulkier it is when folded up.

You need a piece as large as the outer fabric 22x 36" or 56 x 100cm, if you bought a metre of fabric.

Lining- I use interlock stretch cotton-its soft, very washable & adds little bulk- also comes in lots of colours, if you want a colour, and it is 'all season friendly'. Same size as the pellon. Flannel would work too-will make the mat a little thicker when folded up.

Velcro about 2"

All the usual stuff to sew.

Putting it all Together.

Iron the pellon to the WRONG side of the outer fabric (the quilting fabric).Press well, so it sticks.

Lay this piece of fabric so the pellon is underneath & the right side of the outer fabric is uppermost. Pin the RIGHT sides of the lining & quilt fabric together. You have a rectangle with the wrong side of the lining & the pellon on the outside & the 2 right sides together.

With me? You haven't sewn anything yet, so if its wrong you can easily fix it. Trim any excess fabric so all edges are even (I tend to cut my lining a little larger so it's easier to match up- I'm lazy when it comes to sewing!)


You are now going to cut 2 pieces of fabric out of one end of the rectangle- this makes the head piece which is also the flap that folds over when its all folded up and not in use.
Every time I make one of these I cut out slightly different sizes so mine are all truly OOAK (ha!). As long as the flap width is no less than 8"/ 20cm it'll be fine.

Fold to find and mark the centre with a pin on one of the shorter ends. That means you fold long sides together-measure out about 4.5"/12cm either side of the centre pin. That will give you a total length of 9"/24cm. Measure down about 6"/15cm on the long (side edge). I use chalk to make my markings then cut this section out. Check it looks right before you cut it out. Pin the new raw edges together.

Sew all the way around, using the edge of the presser foot as a guide to where to sew (about 0.5cm or a little more than a .25"(that's not an accurate conversion-just do a seam that isn't too wide ).

Leave a gap to turn it through -4" will be plenty-10cm-the lining is stretchy so its easy to turn. It doesn't matter where you leave the gap. To make nice corner stitch up to within a stitch or 2 or where you would pivot- do 2 stitches across the corner at an angle, then pivot & go down the other side.

Clip off the corners-don't cut the stitching. Make a snip in the seam allowance fabric on the flap inner corners, so it will turn through nicely.

Turn it right sides out. Press. Push those corners out. Tuck in the fabric where you left the opening. Pin it closed.

Top stitch all the way around close to the edge & then again the presser foot width apart (or where ever you want)

Fold the flap in half so you can place the soft part of the velcro centrally on the very top edge & stitch it on.Goes on the lining side.

Fold the mat up as per pictures & pin the grippy part of the velcro to the outside where they will meet up.Stitch in place.

Fold Up
Fold one long side in so that long edge is even with the flap width.
Repeat for other side.
Take hold of lower edge and fold in half. lower edge even with the top edge of the body of change mat.

Fold in half again.

Fold flap over and velcro in place. easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

Admire your handy work.You can make these to sell, give away or whatever. You may not sell these instructions (who would want to) as your own or claim them as your own (again, who would want to!)

Go forth & multiply!

Happy Crafting

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Holidays,Hotels & Home.

I love to travel. There is nothing I like doing more than catching a plane to faraway places & seeing new people & places, but, there is nothing like being home in my own bed again! What is it that no bed in any hotel is like the bed you leave at home?

We flew off to Singapore & spent 3 days catching the sites, shopping & eating, more shopping & more eating. Our DS No2 & his GF/partner came with us & I think Hanh was on a mission to improve Singapore's economy on her own & try every food available. We stayed at the Novotel at Clarke Quay & the bed was HARD, Hard, hard! the location was great, the hotel was good & we'd all stay there again. MOTH was itching to get to Newton's Circus for his usual Tiger Beer & 40 satays- I've never seen anyone put away satays like that man! When eating at Newton's Circus you must beware that the stalls will try & rip you off on the seafood- buyer beware- the price they give for sea food is usually 50 or 100 grams-get them to weigh it before you agree to eating it- the seafood is excellent, just make sure you know upfront what its going to cost!

While we were in Singapore we caught the last of the Chinese New Year celebrations- there was much banging of drums & dancing of dragons! Makes for good shopping as we picked up some really good bargains.

We moved on to Penang after Singapore-here we stayed at the Shangri-La- talk about staying in the lap of luxury- this place was amazing, the attention to detail was incredible. I think this would have to be the cleanest hotel I've ever stayed in anywhere in the world- the staff were great & amazingly they had GF food on the breakfast buffet. The bed was good here!

I managed to fit 2 treatments in at the day spa- this place was amazing as well-had a Chi Balance Massage & a caviar & lotus facial- I should look a million dollars after that but I wasn't expecting miracles!
We'd walk down the street each night & visit the local places to eat-we certainly got a variety of foods. After dinner we'd walk back up the main street through the night market they set up each night.

We had such a great time here we are now proposing this hotel to be our next family get together. MOTH is reluctant, as he is the one paying!LOL

After 3 wonderful days in Penang we flew off to Langkawi to stay at the Sheridan Beach resort. Never again. The hotel was isolated, you had to ring the main desk everytime you wanted to leave your room as it was too far & too hot to walk the place is so spread out- the rooms needed refurbishing, the linen was tattered & threadbare, the bed was comfortable- got to give them that, but the service was so mean you only got 45 minutes internet per room per day free- on their computers up at reception & they didn't even give you a daily paper to read. MOTH missed his paper!

Their one saving grace was the Captain's Choice restaurant had the best food- we all gave it topmarks & a family of 6 sea otters scampered across the beach to go fishing as we were eating- that was worth it! there were also monkeys all around the resort as well.

Then home. My own bed. Bliss.

Since being back home I've booked our Girls trip to HK for Easter-only 4 of us going this year- and we are only going for 4 nights due to changes at work- but hey, will still spend plenty & see plenty in those 4 days!

Yesterday I went to a Craft Fair at Olympic Park Homebush- it wasn't bad but the venue is awkward to get to- we drove & had to pay $20 to park the car- no other craft fair we attend has paid parking- this gives it a BIG thumbs down.

The exhibitors weren't too bad-we all bought yarn (like I needed more) & we all bought patterns. One thing I that astounded me was when my sister was buying yarn to knit her 7 year old GD a cardigan the yarn was to cost $75- now I don't know about you, but I find that excessive for a child who will grow out of it in one season! My sister asked for an alternative yarn ($35 approx cost) & the stall holder was such a snob about it- you'd have thought she had committed a social fo-par or something!

We then headed off to DFO, which is nearby.

We all spent more at DFO than we did at the craft Fair-MOTH fared well, I bought lots for him on sale, even found DD a maternity swimsuit as she's grown out of what she was wearing-only cost $50 which was even better!

I think I spent more at DFO than I did when shopping on our recent trip!

Today I played with some designs on the embroidery machine-I tried my hand at digitizing, well auto trace, & was quite pleased with the results- will have to play a little more now that I've had some success.

Until next time,
Happy Crafting

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Baby Shoes. Whose Shoe Fetish?

What fun I've been having this weekend-I've been making baby shoes & seem to have produced a wardrobe of them for my expected GDTR-is this how girls develop a shoe fetish?

When no1 GS was born I was in Canada just prior to his birth & picked up a pair of ROBEEZ shoes-they were so cute I couldn't resist them ,but boy were they expensive for what they were. (I don't begrudge anyone earning a living, just that sometimes you have to wonder at why we pay so much for something so small & that you know will only fit them for 5 minutes!)

After doing a bit of 'surfing' yesterday I came across this site that gave a pattern for free shoes very similar to the Robeez ones.

I also ordered a pattern form this site. I'm still waiting for the pattern to be sent-has been nearly 24 hours which I think is a bit slow in this age of instant gratification. Their tutorial is excellent & well worth a read.

I took the free pattern from tacky living & re sized it on the printer by 75%- I felt this gave me a good size for a new born-it would appear that an average newborns foot is about 2.5" long- give or take- the pattern as printed straight from the site gives a finished length of about 5.5" which looked way too big for a newborn.

After rummaging about in my stash I found some 'cow print' fake fur- this would do to experiment with & to see if they would look any good.....all went well, so then it was off to do some deep mining in the stash (I still cant find the lovely red & navy suede leather I've put somewhere safe!)-I came out with ultra suede & leatherette- both furnishing fabrics-you don't need much on the little sizes-about 13" x 10" is ample.

The next pair I tried a little machine embroidery on, then another pair where I made a flower embellishment & then a fourth pair with scraps stitched on.....I decided I better stop before yet to be born GDTR has a wardrobe of shoes & not enough days to wear them before she grows out of them!

While making these little shoes I can see so many different ways of changing them & when they only take about 30 minutes to make-you can soon sew a wardrobe up of them! I can see this will be my new gift for the babies being born this year!
Happy Crafting,

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Blankie, a Free sewing Project

Our second child had a "Blankie"-he took it everywhere & I can only be thankful that it was only bassinet size, as in my years as a pediatric nurse I saw kids toting all manner of things, even full size single bed blankets, their mother's nighties & even one child had the bits you pulled off the band aid!

Babies & children are very tactile & so I've made this little "Blankie" in honour of my No 2 son as that's what he called his. My adaptation of the security blanket is a lot smaller & more manageable to carry around.

My daughter, whose friends are now having babies, love these little "Blankies" & I would suggest if giving as a gift to make 2 or even 3. One for home, one for the car & one for the Grand Parent's house- there will be no dramas if one gets lost or left behind!

They are quick to make & I make them up 6 at a time-they use up those smaller bits of fabric & all those ribbons you have in stash.


What you need

Paper or stabilizer to draw your pattern on. Pen or pencil.

2 pieces of fabric 30cm x 30cm ( 12")- one a satin or silky fabric the other minky or polar fleece (make sure they are washable)

Assorted ribbons 20 pieces x 7.5cm (3"). Vary your widths & textures.

sewing machine & thread

Note on fabric & ribbon choices:

Lingerie fabric & minky or polar fleeceare a good choice- both are washable & readily available.

Ribbons- largest width should be no more than 4 cm (1.5") & only 1 or 2 at this width & the narrowest is 10 mm. Have all sorts of textures & colours-as long as they are washable, they will be OK. Ribbon with wire edging should have the wires removed before using. Coloured cotton tapes work as well. Textured nylon ribbons are another good choice.

No little bits that ca
n come off, like pom poms.

Have 20 different ribbons for maximum sensations for the baby.

Let's Get To It:

Draw a square 30cm x 30cm (12").Use your paper or stabilizer, whichever you have on hand. Cut this out.

Now measure in 1cm (7/8") around all the 4 sides- seam allowance.

Fold the pattern in half, finger press, do it in both directions & place a mark with pen where these folds are.

Measure 4.5cm (1.75") either side of the centre marking, then again from those 2 markings- you should have 5 marks along the seam line- do this on all sides.

These are the ribbon placement marks.

Cut out your minky & satin fabric using the pattern you have just drawn- 1 square of each fabric.

Take the ribbons & fold in half, matching the cut edges of the ribbon to the cut edge of the fabric on the right side & using the pattern markings as your guide, pin the ribbon to the fabric, centering ribbon-if you put a wider ribbon on an end, then use a narrower ribbon on the next side which will be the closest to it.

Repeat until all ribbons pinned on.

Stitch around all 4 sides within seam allowance. Stitch again close to the first stitching- or even on top of it. Its important that the ribbons can not be pulled out.

Lay the minky/polar fleece right sides together to the satin fabric & pin all round- place 2 pins together about 9cm (3.5") to remind you to leave a gap for turning. Stitch together using a 1cm seam allowance (7/8")

Trim corners. Turn to right side. Push out the corners. Pin opening closed. Stitch around outer edge, close to seam edged using a 3.5 stitch length. Repeat stitching approx. 1cm (7/8") from first stitching.

Admire your Hany Work!

When I sew 6 at once I chain piece each side- clip apart, then do the next side- as you do in quilting.

You could embroider on the Blankie, if you like- but remember that will change the "feel" of the Blankie & another may not be able to be substituted unless you use the same design!

These are great little sellers if you have a market stall, great for baby showers & to pop in with another gift!
Please leave a comment if you enjoy my projects, so I know that someone is reading them!

Happy Crafting

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How to Machine Embroider on a Onesie

Machine embroidering on a Onesie, on a domestic embroidery machine, has got to be one of the most difficult items that most sewers will attempt.

Here is a tutorial on how I manage this tricky feat. This is neither the only way, nor the right way, just my way, & hopefully by me sharing my method you will have success in your endeavours.

Firstly, the easiest way to embroider on these items would be to make your own & put the embroidery on before construction.

Failing that, the next easiest way would be to undo a shoulder seam & give yourself more room to manoeuvre around in that tiny opening!

Let's face it,neither of these options is very appealing to most of us-they are cheap to buy ready made & we hate, in the main, undoing & re-doing what is already done.

That said, lets look at how we can do it without unpicking or sewing up any seams.

What You Need:
  • Onesie -it does help
  • Embroidery Sewing Machine (stating the obvious, but its in case you started to read this thinking it was for hand sewing)
  • Smallest hoop you have (my smallest is 120mm x 120mm)
  • Tear away stabilizer or heavy weight wash away-enough to fit in your hoop
  • Lightweight wash away, to use as a topper.(Solvy)
  • Iron on backing for knit fabrics (Totally Stable or similar)
  • Titanium needle or ballpoint/stretch needle size 70
  • Design, threads- usual stuff.
Just a few things here:

Ballpoint/Stretch needles will need to be changed every few garments if sewing a lot of these- the thread begins to shred as the needle blunts very quickly.

I found the titanium worked the best & while there are perforations in the fabric when I remove it from the hoop, these disappear after a launder.

If you like to adhere your item with spray- go right ahead- I personally hate the stuff & what it does to my hoops so never use it,ever. You could also use a sticky back stabilizer in the hoop, but it will gum up fairly quickly & its harder to remove after you finish. As I said- this is the way I do it, feel free to add or subtract with whatever you are comfortable doing.


Choose designs that are fairly small in size, not too stitch intensive-its hard enough getting around the neckline & the arms without having to struggle with it as well.

Designs that don't matter if they are a little crooked work really well. Butterflies, bees etc (see pic)
Do not leave the machine while it is stitching out-no matter how you pin, peg or hold back the Onesie from the sewing field they tend to keep falling in on themselves- mostly when you aren't watching & then its disaster if it sews over what it shouldn't!

Turn down the speed of the machine- you don't need to sew like a bat out of hell & it gives you more time to avert disasters.

Let the Fun Begin.

The easy stuff.
Pick your design-transfer it to the machine, pick your thread colours. Change the needle- you know the drill.

Hoop up your tear way stabilizer into your smallest hoop.

On my machine I can do a baste around of the design-if you don't have the ability to do this download a free one (google it) & add it to your design- its important you know where the design field is & how big it is.

Set the machine to do the baste of the design field (see pic-I did a darker colour so you could see it)

Remove the hoop from the machine.(do not remove stabilizer from hoop)

With some pins mark the centre of where you want the design to be on the right side of the Onesie. On the pictured one its to the left of centre.

Turn the Onesie inside out-it stays this way until you are finished.

Cut a piece of Totally Stable slightly larger than the design field- fold it in half,finger press to give a crease line,unfold & match the folded line with the pins on the Onesie. Press in place-the waxy side goes to the wrong side of the Onesie-this holds it in place & stabilizes the knit fabric.

The Tricky Bit

Leaving the Onesie inside out, place the Onesie over the stitched out design field so the right side is uppermost- you will be working through that small neck opening.

Pin the Onesie in place- make sure the pins are out of the way of the stitching line. You can pin the Solvy (topper) at this point as well but I hold the topper as I do the second baste around, just sewing slowly.

Put the hoop back on the machine & do a second baste around to hold all this in place-you may need to stop the machine to move the excess fabric out of the way-there isn't a lot of room. I hold the topper with my hands at this point & stitch it down as I go-do whatever you are the most comfortable with.

When you have basted the Onesie to the stabilizer in the hoop & the Solvy is on top- stitch out your chosen design- watching carefully as you sew, as the Onesie may creep into your design field, where its not meant to be.(ask me how I know this).

The Home Run

When the deign is finished stitching out, remove hoop from machine (don't go pulling it out or you'll end up with holes in the Onesie). Turn the hoop over & clip the basting stitches- trim any long jump bobbin threads & all other threads that need trimming.

Turn over. On the right side, trim jump stitches. Taking hold of the topper pull it up carefully so that the stitches that you cut on the wrong side release- then pull the thread out all the way round.

Tear the design away from the stabilizer after the basting threads are removed-it should come out clean. Now pull away the excess Totally Stable & you should be left with a very clean back to your work.

Check the front, remove stray bits of topper & admire your handiwork-see it wasn't all that hard after all.

Hope this has helped you understand how you can machine embroider on these tiny items & if you like you can iron a no- show backing to the reverse side of the embroidery- although I've never had a new Mother tell me the embroidery irritated the baby's skin.

Happy Crafting,