A tale of two extraordinary lives filled with children, craft and laughter

Saturday, 19 April 2014

The cutest darn book bags a kid could want

Several of our wee friends have had birthday's recently. Some were turning 5. I love to be able to make gifts as often as possible, especially when you have 8 birthdays in one month.

One item I have been making a lot is a book bag. At our school, and many others around our region, the children are asked to bring a book bag along to carry their reader and homework books to and from school. It keeps everything neat and also gives parents a place to find that important notice and reading homework. Of course you can purchase these book bags at stationary outlets but imagine the specialness of having a one of a kind.

Here are a few of them:

The book bags are really simple to make - Its essentially 4 rectangles of fabric (two outer, two inner) and a zip at the top.

I cut my outer pieces to 12 1/2 inches x 14 1/2 inches once I have joined the two co ordinating fabrics. I cut the lining fabric to the same size.

I use a 35 cm zip so that it is longer than the top edge of the book bag. Then I am able to just sew across the zip when I sew up the entire bag, making it an easy and painless zip to put in.

This is a great way to use up scraps or to purpose buy for a special wee one you know.

Happy sewing everyone!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Chevron Baby Blanket

I just love crochet and I just love new babies. I also love to combine the two and make baby blankets.
My favourite wool to work with is 4 ply baby merino. I usually like to use a bigger hook than 4 ply traditionally uses because I find that it gives a very delicate, vintage shawl type look. A look I like. It is also a very nice weight for summer babies. I used a 5.5 mm hook.

Late last year a dear friend of mine in the UK annouced that she was expecting her first baby. A wee surprise. I had seen a lovely chevron pattern in a recent Crochet magazine and decided to give it a crack. The actual pattern I purchased from Etsy in the end. I crochet with UK crochet and this is in US so I just went through and converted all the dc to tr and I was away.

The pattern calls for changing the colours every two rows. I decided to do it every four to make a larger chevron and I am very pleased with the results.

Here is the finished product.

The blanket measures about 46 x68 cm - just little enough for capsule, bassinette or pram. It is in neutral colours so will suit either a wee pink baby or a wee blue baby. I love the wee detailed edging - little bobble type bumps along the top and bottom edges.

This pattern is really easy to follow once you work out the repeating pattern. I urge any intermediate crocheter to give it a go. To make a bigger blanket, double or triple the foundation chain length.

A very very clever friend of mine has made this pattern in rainbow colours and it is simply stunning.

The winter is fast approaching and my crochet hook is being put to work much more that the darker evenings are around. What have you got planned for your winter crafting? Happy crocheting everyone. A x

Monday, 17 March 2014

Nightie for Thea

The nights are starting to cool down and I wanted to make a couple of nighties for Thea. Once winter comes she will go into a onesie, but for Autumn I like the idea of a nightie as I know her arms are nice and warm as she tends to not burrow.

I looked on etsy and found this pattern - the Sadie Grace Nightgown.

I wanted to make this out of a light flannette, I found a cute one at Spotlight covered with baby forest animals, and Amber also had a cool purple one in her stash that I used.

This was a super fast pattern. In about two hours I made two, this includes cutting out.  I was feeling lazy and didn't even leave the machine - no ironing and no overlocking.  I couldn't be bothered changing my overlocker thread to white (who else hates doing this!) so I just used a zig zag stitch on the seams.

Super quick, super easy and super cute.  Has my thumbs up!

Till next time, Melissa

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Mystery Quilt - part two

So excited to get my next part of the Quilters Lane mystery quilt pack in the mail this week.  I am really enjoying being part of this, it requires low effort (arrives in the mailbox), I am doing something other than squares, and is only about an hour of my time once a month. 

This month's pack included some interesting shapes

I made a couple of mistakes first off so it pays to take your time and read the instructions and follow the pictures!  The other thing that really helps me is ironing after ever seam.

Happy with my patches

The last bit was making these four patch squares

So interested to see what comes next!

Till next time, Melissa

Friday, 21 February 2014

Cushions cushions everywhere

You know how it is right? Every now and then you just need a freshen up - a change around. Overnight I decided it was time for a new duvet cover, a new look in the bedroom. I had to be careful not to have anything too floral, too feminine. I am married to the king of 'blokedom'. Luckily there was a huge sale at the local Briscoes and he needed a new coffee plunger so I was able to get him involved in choosing a suitable duvet cover. And.... it was 50% off. We all like bargins - especially blokes.

Home again with new duvet and coffee plunger. Everyone happy. Or nearly. I decided that it was time to have a few special bits on the bed... cushions. I had never had bed cushions before. I had a wee look through my stash of fabrics and came across 3 fat quarters that had been gifted to me recently. Two for Christmas and one for a previous birthday. I also had a piece of Amy Bulter fabric that I had fallen in love with several years ago that was crying out for a project. Low and behold, all 4 fabrics looked great together.

In the latest Your home and Garden mag there were gorgeous cushions being sold somewhere in Auckland for $89.90. They were 'on trend' and had different fronts from backs. Reversible. 'On trend', yep I could do that. And it wasn't going to cost me a thing apart from cushion inners (also half price) and a couple of invisible zips! Bargin. I am pretty sure the total price for these two cushions was under $20.

I had remembered that when sewing cushion covers to make the outer smaller than the inner. These covers are about 2 inches smaller length and width than the inner. So they are nice and puffy. 

I put the invisible zip on the bottom seam. Its completely invisible and was really easy to pop in. I attached the zip first to the two sides of the cushion and then finished the bottom seam before sewing all the way around the pillow.

This is the first pillow. 

For the gorgeous house fabric, I left it as one piece of fabric. I love the lines that the houses create and the little pops of red colour. Thank you Lisa for your clever choice of fabric.

The sunflower fabric was a Christmas gift from Bridgette. Thanks B! I cut the fabric into 4 equal squares and then sewed them all back together again. I have top stitched the seams to add a bit of detail. I like how the patterns had been broken up and created a new one.

This is the 2nd cushion.

 The top photo has been made with the left overs. Originally this cushion was not going to be reversible but I love the back as much as the front so I have changed my mind. To make each 'scrap' look like it was meant to be there I have also top stitched it around each individual red piece, leaving the sunflower fabric without top stitching.

The bottom picture is sideways. The dandilions should be on the top left, standing tall. This is the same design as the sunflower piece except I have substituted one of the red for the dandelion fabric. Thanks for this gorgeous piece of fabric Ollie - I treasure it. Again I have topstitched each seam to make a wee feature.
And here they are on the bed. They get placed on my reading chair for the night and I have to say, making the bed in the morning is a wee bit more fun.

I wish I had made cushions for the bed years ago - reading on the bed is sooo much more comfortable.

Two projects completed in a week - thinking cap on for my next project.

Happy sewing everyone, A x

Monday, 17 February 2014

Its a MYSTERY...

Quilters' Lane Mystery Quilt 2014

For Christmas I received a very special present. Participation in a mystery quilt. I had been interested in this for about a year and several of the sew club girls had also expressed and interest. My clever mum had remembered me mentioning it so when she rocked up to sign up for the Quilters Lane Mystery Quilt 2014 she booked me on too. Thanks Mum!

The quilt itself being a complete mystery, the only thing you have a choice in is the fabric range you choose. There are about 10 colour ways to choose from. Mum and I are doing different colour ways.Mum chose mine and told me about it for Christmas. I shared this exciting stuff with the sew club girls, 3 of whom also joined the mystery quilt bus. Melissa and I are doing the same colour way so have decided to take turn about sharing our progress.

So, how does it work?   Well, each month starting this month, Feb, for ten months in total, a small package arrives in the letterbox. It contains pre-cut fabric and instructions for what to do with it. At the end of ten months all the mystery quilters get together for a sew day at Quilters Lane and learn how to put it all together.

Last Tuesday, my first package arrived and this is what I unpacked:

My colour way is called Spring Fling and these are 3 of the fabrics that the mystery quilt will have in it.

My first task was to make sure I was sewing 1/4 inch seams. These were stipulated that they must be accurate and the instructions suggested a great way to work this out. I had to cut 3 strips of fabric at 2 1/2 inches wide, sew them together with a 1/4 inch seam. The middle strip should measure exactly 2 inches if I have been accurate.
Phew! Nailed it. I did have help though. My machine has a 37 foot. It is for sewing 1/4 inch seams and lucky for me it was spot on.

That established, I got ready to assemble my first mystery pack.

First job was to sew the wee triangles together to make a two toned square, and then sew them into strips of 5 squares.
The next job was a wee bit more challenging. Thank goodness there are detailed pictures. Lesson learned - check the picture several times before sewing to make sure you have the right bit in the right place. I had to unpick a few times after sewing strips to the wrong side. However, I am very pleased with the results - especially after sharing them with my mum - master quilter - I received great praise. "Lovely points Amber" (whatever that means.) I had better find out.

Each piece has to be labelled so at the end of ten months it can be put together into a quilt top. Here is the total result of package one, February.
I must say, I can't wait til March. Perhaps I will meet the next two fabrics?? Will I be able to piece together a few clues as to how this quilt might look?

Happy summer sewing everyone! A x

Monday, 13 January 2014

New Year... New Skirt?

Happy New Year to all our readers. We hope that you have had a relaxing and restful holiday season.

I have been busy sewing for my mother in law today. Several years ago I made her the Barcelona Skirt by Amy Butler. It is a favourite pattern of mine - I currently have 3!

Anywho, Carol (MIL) asked for another one as she liked wearing hers so much. So shortly after Christmas we took a road trip into Wellington to visit Nancy's. We like to go there every now and then and especially for their sale fabric. Its often gorgeous and only $10 per metre. We found two we liked so got the required two metres. Zips too. All up $45 for two skirts of gorgeous quality quilting cotton.

I am very fussy when I cut out skirts and I save as much material as I possibly can. I knew I could get enough left over for a skirt for Macie too. And that's exactly what I did.

I actually made Macie's first!

I used the Dana Made  - Simple Skirt. Its a fabulous tutorial and lots of fun to do. I love the hem! Its bias tape and super effective. Dana has two suggestions for making the layers less bulky around the waistband and her instructions are super easy to follow.

So Macie had her skirt for about two weeks before Nana did! I had cut Nana's out and overlocked the side and top edges ready to sew and then it sat for 2 weeks on my dinning room table. Today, I was lucky to have Macie go out for several hours in the afternoon so I knuckled down and got them both finished. Two hours later and they were done.

The fabric is two from the same range so they work really well together. The photos here don't really do them justice - I can't find my camera battery recharger so had to take these on the tablet.

Cullen is off right now on his bike with Daddy to deliver them to Nana. Hope she likes them as much as I do!!

Happy sewing in 2014 everyone! A xx