Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Rachel's Doll

The Christmas present I was most excited about was Rachel's. I'm so glad I made it only two days before Christmas otherwise I might not have been able to wait to give it to her. I made Rachel a doll.

Rachel plays with Sophie's doll pretty often, so it was possibly past time I made her one, but I'd been a little busy in the last six months, so I was a little late. I made her the same way that I did Sophie's with a few differences. You can see them. Again, she had some great modesty undies just in case she is left without clothes. 

There she is with Doll, best friends already. Mum made Rachel a dress out of this material and then a dolls dress too so Rachel's doll was lucky enough to even get a shiny new dress for Christmas.

I haven't asked Rachel what we should call her yet. I don't really want to end up calling another doll, "Doll".  

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Space Capes

When someone hands you the bed sheets from your husbands childhood, I suppose the usual reaction would be thoughts like: "Why have you kept this? I think I'll throw them away." I'll admit, I may have thought the first half, but it was followed with "Free material! Awesome!"

It's moments like these that I know I've gone over the edge with sewing.

So earlier in the year, Steve's mum did in fact hand me some old bed sheets from his childhood. Two full sets, pillowcases included. Complete with doona covers. That's a lot of material. A lot. I was a little excited.

It was all space - planets and rockets and spacemen and what not, so I was inspired by things that fly. It will take me a while to get through it all, but I made a dint a while ago by making some capes for the kids to use as dress ups. While I was at it, I made some matching shorts. And not just for my kids, but also for five others. Mass production is really addictive.

They made good Christmas presents.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Quiet Book Blog

I've been featured on the Quiet Book Blog! Hooray!

The Quiet Book Blog

I just submitted my ABC Book for posting. It's posted and it's there! I'm excited!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Memory Game

Another thing I made for the travel trip to Bundy was this awesome memory game. It was really perfect for Sophie to play with while Rachel was asleep. She understood the matching concept and had enough memory to actually play to win.

I had the jeans squares cut out already (I guess last time I made a quilt I cut too many (actually, I just had a look for the quilt that I would have cut them for and it's from August 2013! Yikes!) and then used some left over bed sheet scraps from the ABC Book. I used an old fleece Jetstar blanket that I had lying around for the batting and then just fun scrap material for the squares.

The exciting thing about these is that Rachel sewed with me for the first time when I was making them. Yep, Rachel sat on my knee while I sewed the straight lines and then helped push the reverse button and lift the presser foot. She didn’t last long, but she did sew with me. Yay!

Sophie helped with the zig zags on the edges sewing it all together. Fun times. I love these. They are a great way to use up my scrap fabric and were a quick sew. I might be making many more sets of these as presents in the future. Yes!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Travelling Mice

Last weekend we were in Bundy for Steve’s sister’s 21st birthday, which was a stack of fun. Then I got to take myself off to Melbourne for three days with my sisters. My goodness fanstastic! In the lead up to the Bundy trip, I made these little mice to travel with the girls and keep them company during the long hours on the road.

They were a little under appreciated because the girls were not old enough to really want to play with them too much. Oh well. They were fun to make and are cute. Here they are living in their little houses. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Cardboard Castle

The latest cardboard creation in our house has been a castle. Man was I so excited to make it. I’d been under the house and seen just how much cardboard I had stashed there and came to the realisation that I could really go crazy with this and it still have a huge stash of cardboard. Hooray!

This meant though that I really saw this cardboard castle as a bit of a rough draft. I cut things without measuring them, or drawing them on. I didn't measure anything at all. I just kind of went for it and figured I’d learn from the experience for next time. And I did.

One of the biggest things that set this castle apart from the other cardboard things I've done, is that it’s open. There is no roof. I've found that the kids really like to be able to see out, and play hide and seek by popping up over the edges and out the windows. They don’t care too much for the roof. Also, I wanted the cool turret/castle roof edge look which wouldn't have worked so well with a roof edge anyway.

The next most different thing is that the castle itself is not a fixed structure. The walls are not really joined in a conventional way, so the castle could be moved around as needed. At first it was just four wall sections (one awesome cardboard box from Dad’s new speakers) that could be concertinaed or set at right angles so that it stood up in the room, but then I had the idea of using weighted boxes to keep it more stable (the wind was not friendly to the original castle). That led to being more than weighted boxes, but also joiner boxes, so other sections of the castle could be joined on. Win!

The castle itself ended up with three sections, all of different heights. I did a drawbridge type portcullis gate thing for the front door, and the girls could pull it closed with a bit of rope, which was good. But because it was going up and down and being walked over, it came off fairly quickly. The girls didn't mind though because they just like to be able to get in and out when they wanted.

There was another door in the shortest section of the castle, which we referred to as the “Secret Door” because it stayed closed really well, and I didn't put any holes in it. It was really fun for Sophie to use it, and for her animals as well.

I did push open windows and just some window holes in the cardboard too, although they were less fun. When the three sections were finished and together, the castle stood most of the time with the bookshelves serving as the back wall, because I could tuck the two loose ends of the castle into the spaces between the bookshelves and the wall and the two bookshelves respectively which anchored it really well. It also meant that it took Hugo much longer to get at the bookshelves to everything off them, so such a win.

The girls loved to have picnics in the castle with their animals and read books there. We took them outside and gave them a paint job with some home-made paint (I'm so thankful it was home made because Hugo took one look at it and decided it had to be edible). I just had them do the inside walls, thinking I’d do a brick pattern on the outside ones with a sharpie, but then I ran out of time, and they didn't really care anyway. Maybe next castle.

All in all, the great thing about this castle was its flexibility. We could set it up anywhere, inside or out. It was such a win. I would love to do a big version one for a birthday party. Maybe with catapults. 

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

The Truth About Rachel

I know that the vast majority of my posts have a tag of Sophie. Sometimes I get to tag both girls, but more often than not, Sophie takes the limelight. It's probably because she's older, and just because of that extra year and a half, she's doing things first. But Rachel does fun new things each day too, so I thought I'd share some of them here.

Rachel is fun. She's a real daredevil. She loves to jump on people and be tossed about. Rachel was the first to put her head on the ground and look at the world through her legs. She likes to go upside down.

This little girl climbed things before Sophie did. She had more hair than Sophie in the first year and a half. Some days I think she still has more. Rachel tolerates things in her hair far longer than Sophie does. She likes the clips to be put in and out, and likes to tie it up at the back. I'll have to get it cut soon.

When we are outside, Rachel loves to find bugs. (Can you spot the yellow bug on the tree above that she's looking at?) She loves to look at them, to watch them move. She is unafraid of touching them, but respectful of their mystery. If we find some in the house, Rachel shows them off to the others, she likes to share like that.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Sophie, The Artist

We have been colouring and drawing lately, and I thought I'd share this with you. These are Sophie's illustrations to the classic "The Incy Wincy Spider".

The Incy Wincy Spider

Climbed up the water spout.

Down came the rain and washed the spider out.

Out came the sunshine and dried up all the rain.

So the Incy Wincy Spider climbed up the spout again.

Yes, I did help with the house outline, the clouds and that rainbow shape (under her direction). The rest of the rather purpley-swirly shapes are all hers.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Shared Three Ways

Two weeks ago now, I took the kids to the park for a play and a picnic. This was their lunch. 

I wanted to share it because I realised that even though the majority of the bento I make for the kids are in cute containers, you can still make fun lunches is rather boring old take away boxes. And you don't even have to be super amazing with cutting the veggies either. It still looks like a fun lunch because of all the colour, and it's easy for the kids to eat, because everything is small.

Please, go out and make fun lunches for yourself. It's achievable even on a time and finance budget. :)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Date Night

Steve and I had a date night last Tuesday. It was his birthday present. I got us tickets to see Les Miserables at QPAC. It was pretty phenomenal, even from the very back row of the top balcony. Being that far back really makes you appreciate the costume designer, because with out those signature colours or dress styles, it would be really difficult to identify the characters at such a distance.

I love Les Miserables. It's what I grew up listening to, and what I resonated with in my strange depressed teenage years. Even now, I love the musicality, and the general genius of the scoring. Each time I hear the motifs and themes I am taken to the revolution.

Steve was more excited about seeing it live than I was actually. I mean, I knew it'd be good, but I was a little hesitant because of a) the hype and b) the expense. But I'm well pleased that I was convinced to get him the tickets for his birthday, because we both loved it. Sometimes a night out is worth dipping into those savings.

Steve and I were talking after about how similar the music is for Jean Valjean and Javert when they have their crucial character dilemmas. I've been thinking about it more too. Jean Valjean and Javert are both offered life when all they expect is death. They are both offered freedom, when they deserve jail. What they do with what they are given though, is entirely different.

While Jean Valjean, when offered the chance at freedom decides to take it and live his life always repaying the memory of the one who gave him the freedom, Javert cannot bear to live with the idea of his undeserved life. I think about this too in relation to what God offers us. Sometimes I want to take what he has given and do my best with it, and other days, I just can't handle what he has been so abundant with. Why would he give me life, when I deserve death?

It's too much for me to take.

I guess I don't really know where I'm going with this. Just that I'm thankful for what God has given me and I'm trying my best with it. Last Tuesday was a great reminder that.

Monday, November 09, 2015


All is quiet on the sewing front. We had a big week of doing lots and giving Steve a great 30th Birthday. The week before, I did sew this rather quickly, but it then got busy and I didn't get around to taking photos or doing anything with those photos for a while.

Still, I thought I'd post it, because now it looks like I have done something of late.

It's a fabric storage box/basket/thing that fits under the play kitchen in the living room. The kids had been putting all that food stuff into shoe boxes (actually, they were rather better at taking it out of said shoe boxes). I went to a conference about early childhood and one of the speakers challenged us to rethink our play spaces and make them more accessible to the kids. Like putting things in baskets or bags so they can take them to where they want to play with them, rather than having them on shelves or in huge boxes. That was kind of my inspiration for this.

It's got a handle on the front so the kids can pull it out easily, and because it's fabric, it can fold as well. So if they want to take some food for a picnic - can do! Made of some lovely soft old denim jeans from the stash and some rather appropriate cake fabric from my mum, it's everything it needs to be.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Slump Over?

The very afternoon I wrote that last post about being in a sewing slump, I went to a friends place with the kids. This friend gave me a pair of pyjama pants that could be made into whatever. Instantly I knew - matching skirts for our little girls!

Went home that night and sewed up two of these babies.

Pretty simple, thought they are not as gathered as I would have liked, but I was being pretty lazy about it all. Just cut the legs of the PJ's off, doubled it and sewed. After making them I wished there had been enough material to do circle skirts, given the poodle nature of the pattern. I like the two layer thing. Sophie loves hers, and it was nice to do a quick sew.

Maybe the slump is over, but I'm still feeling lazy about sewing, so we will see.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Sewing Slump: Things That Did Not Work Out

After the epic output of the ABC Book, I am officially in a sewing slump. I need to make something that is not going to take six weeks and countless hours, but even finding the energy to sew something small is taking it out of me.

I think part of the problem is that during the sewing of the ABC Book, I did also sewed some little things (like these skirts) and some bear PJ's and stary dinosaur shorts for Sophie (sorry, unblogged). Which were lovely little stints into success. But I also sewed some things that did not really work out.

Firstly was this overall pinafore type dress for Sophie.

I dug through the stash and found red denim which was really cool. I think mum made Fiona a skirt out of it about ten years ago. I used an overalls pattern from Ikat Bag (long live my favourite blogger!), with the adaptation for girls,

It was all coming together fabulously, when I realised that I'd cut the denim with the stretch in the wrong direction. And that I should really do the top stitching on the front, despite the fact that I'd already sewn the sides together. And then ran out of thread on the bobbin, or the other place thread comes from and couldn't be bothered to get more sorted out.

Then I held it up against Sophie and thought it looked too big anyway, so what's the point? Sigh. When I got it out again for these photos, I remembered how much I loved the material (and that cute cloud print on the lining!) and how great it will look once it's finished. It's only got a little bit of top stitching, a hem and some buttons to go. Surely I can do it. Maybe.

Anyway, the other thing I recently made was a pattern from a friend of mine who blogs over at Twenty-first Century Lady, and has started releasing patterns for babies at RP Original. I bought her Pin-Tucked dress pattern and added a centimetre to it to size it up for Sophie.

Unfortunately, it turned out too big for Sophie, so again, she can't wear it. I was tempted to try making another one (without the extra cm), but I'm feeling rather low about sewing Sophie dresses after two fails.

I know she'll grow into them, so it's not a complete waste, but she needs dresses now! And I need to sew something now! Sigh. Pray that the sewing slump is over soon.

In the mean time, I think I'll do some handyman outside crafting with wood and hammer and nails. Maybe even a saw too. Hopefully that will make me feel productive enough again to get me back to Sally.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

ABC Book Breakdown

Here it is folks! For real this time. There are going to be a lot of photos in this post.

Covered and everything! Have to give kudos to my mum for finding all this alphabet material. I had a half a metre of this stuff, and I used every scrap of it for the cover.

Page one, A. Apple, ant and arrow.

Page two, B. Bunting (of course!), bear, bucket, blue, brown and black. Page three, C. Chocolate cake, cherries, cat and car. The wheels on the car actually spin. The shiny silver buttons came from mum's stash and are actually still so reflective (despite being in her stash for a number of years), that if you look closely, you can see me taking the photo.

This cat and car are my favourite things. I don't know why, but they look exactly like I wanted them to.

D for dog, duck and dinosaurs. I had that dinosaur fabric left over from some cool shorts I made for little boys close to us. I also put some on some scalloped cuffed shorts I made for Sophie recently (sorry not blogged about). E for elephant, eggs and eight. There are eight little beads on a string for counting purposes.

F for four, five, frogs and flowers. Again, I've got buttons on strings to help with counting things out. The frogs are very fat. G for green, grey, giraffe and guitar. The strings on the guitar are actually strum-able (though they don't produce sound), but the kids get pretty enthusiastic about that so I don't think they will last very long.

H for house, hats and inside the house, a heart. I for ice cream and igloo.

May as well tell you now, the pages are bound with left over fabric from a quilt some friends and I made for another friend's second bub who was born two months ago, and also left over fabric from my sister's Bike Bunting (see also here) which I made for her birthday last year.

J for jam in a jar and a jug. K for king, kangaroo and kite. The kangaroo is my second faviourtie thing, which again, turned out exactly as I wanted it to.

The joey comes out of the pouch! Hooray! Sophie pulls it out and then says "It's broken!". Not sure why.

L for lollypop, lions and lady bug. That lion material (and the giraffe and elephant from their respective pages) came from left over backing material from Rachel's Quilt, which I've also used before in the Duplo Bag. M for mouse, moon, music and maroon.

N for noodles, (which also kind of looks like a nest), nine and needle. I think this is my least favourite page, because there is ambiguity about what things are, and the needle is hard to figure out. Oh well. O for orange, octopus (the last thing I made, so it's a little lacking in finesse), one, owl and octagon.

P for pink, purple, pear and pig. Q for quiet and queen. I love how the queen looks, though I'm less thrilled with my quiet face.

R for red, rain, ring, rainbow and a rubbery rectangle. I was pretty stoked when I found that material in my stash. It's actually a table protector scrap. The rainbow is from the same material as the elephant, giraffe and lions. S for sun, square (bummed that I didn't make the square silk), six, strawberries, seven, stars. 

Again, the things you can count are buttons on a string so you can move them as you count, kind of like an abacus.

Trains, truck, triangle, two, turtles, three, tigers. T has so many options! Train fabric was a scrap from Sophie's Train Dress, and the truck was from some cool shorts I made for boys birthdays last year. Umbrella, undies, and unicycle. The umbrella fabric was from a dress my mum made for Sophie. Her doll also has a matching dress. 

I kind of wanted to put a volcano on the V page, but figured a vacuum cleaner was more relateable. Actually mum sewed the vacuum cleaner. Originally I'd drawn it, but by the time I'd sewn everything else, I was over hand sewing and figured I could leave it off. Mum came to the rescue and did the stitching for me one morning. Vase and violin there as well. W for white, windows and watch. Again, one of the last things I sewed, so I was a bit slap dash in the location and placement of that watch. I regret it a bit now, but not too much. 

The curtains tie back and also untie. My other regret with this page is that I didn't put a view outside the window. Oh well.

X for x-ray. And fox and box end in X, which is why they are there. Mum (ex-primary school teacher that she is) assured me that this was a fine way to do X. I hope she's right. I am stoked with how the x-ray turned out though. Y for yellow, yo-yo and yacht. Though Sophie keeps calling it a boat, which is correct, but rather misses the point. The sails on that yacht can move because I only sewed one side down.

Page twenty six, Z for Zip and zig-zags. I was going to do a zebra as well, but I was feeling very lazy by this point. All of the lower case letters were chain stitched on too, and mum did a few of those for me to speed things up. Her chain stitching is much better than mine. Le sigh. I also found out that I can only do about four types hand stitches. Thankfully I didn't really need any more than that. 

I put a sturdy reinforced handle on the side which I'm thankful for because it's so big, but also wish I'd put some kind of closure on the other side too. I sewed 45 button holes to put all the pages together into the cover, which works well. Here is where I let you in on a little secret though. I was in a bit of a rush to put the pages in (Sunday arvo, driven by the mad thought that if I get it finished Sophie can actually use it at church that night) and I was being "helped" by Sophie too so even thought I got all the pages in in the correct order (thank the Lord!), they are all upside down.  

See? The letters on the inside cover are upside down there. You can't tell from the outside, but if you hold it so it's the right way up looking from the outside and then open it, you'll be looking at the Z page. Such is life. I could fix it, but I can't bring myself to do anything but admire it at the moment. And lovingly stroke the pages. I sincerely hope that you get the chance to do just that too, because it's a lovely feeling.