christmas is childs play

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The girls and I made this fantastically easy wreath for the front door. We used some beautiful felted wool that I had left over from a project and ribbons from our ribbon collection.

It is so easy to assemble you just cut the felted wool into squares and thread it on to a piece of wire shaped into a circle. You could make the wreath any shape you like including a heart. Once you have threaded on all the squares, you loop together the wire and cover up the messy ends with ribbon. What could be more simple!

To felt your own wool, scour op shops for second hand, pure wool (ideally not fine knit) jumpers and put them on the hot cycle in your washing machine. Once wool is felted it can be cut to the shape you require and does not need to be hemmed as it will not fray.

midnight in the garden

Monday, December 07, 2009

Every year we go to a party at the art gallery. It is a fabulous event and lots of fun, last year's theme was 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" and I made this head-dress with a good (flowers, butterflies) side and an evil side, complete with cockroaches, spiders, flies and wintery findings. This year the theme is 'Where the Wild things roam' and I am brain storming for ideas, I will post the results in the next week or so!

Swift gifts

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Tuesday kids sewing group and I came up with this simple gift for Christmas. It takes only about 30 minutes to make and is ideal for little ones looking to make gifts for Christmas.

First, cut two strips of felt measuring 22.5 cms long and 11cms high and two circles with a radius of 7.5cms. We used a blue and purple piece of fabric.

Second, make a cylindrical shape out of the two strips and pin together, don't allow the fabric to overlap as you don't want it to be be bumpy. This shape will form the basis of the holder. We did a simple over stitch to secure it, which worked well. Trim any excess felt to ensure the two pieces are the same size.

Third, seal one end with blanket stitch. Pin the two pieces of felt together then attach the circles of felt to the other end also using a basic over stitch.

The project is suitable for children as young as six, as the stitches are very basic they will need help with pinning and trimming the felt.

You can add things to your holder like embriodery or buttons or felt applique, enjoy!

Human hair sampler

Monday, October 26, 2009

My husband celebrated his 40th birthday recently and I was keen to sew something for him but was at pains to find something that would really appeal. So many of the things I do are not always suitable for men. It also had to be unique and ideally not cost too much money. Many years ago we had seen a cross stitch at a museum in Witney, Oxfordshire done by a little girl at the Foundling Hospital in London using her own hair. She had sewn a 'sampler' into her underskirt the result was astounding. We were struck by the poignance of this beautiful piece of work. So I decided to undertake my own cross stitch using my hair for him.

After choosing a poem I started to chart out the script onto grid paper. I used a piece of linen with quite a small cube to work in the tiny stitches were very hard to execute and I almost went blind in the process, however it does look very effective. I used four strands of my hair, anything else appeared too washed out. I have to be honest with you this was a labour of love which I have worked on for the past eight months. Hair is quite tricky to work with as it can slip around a bit and the more tired you are (I only work at night) the harder it becomes!

The effect is amazing though, and needless to say he was suitably impressed. I hope you enjoy it too and anyone out there interested in trying it themselves please feel free to contact me for any words of wisdom and encouragement.

Fancy lamp

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I made this fancy cover for an rather boring shade I have had for quite sometime. The base came from an auction and has made a great addition to my desk.

I used an off cut of cotton with metal thread through it which gives it the petticoat effect. The ribbon was one from my collection. I hemmed the fabric with the aid of my hot glue gun, then I pinned the fabric in place making a tuck every 5cms or so and then secured it with the ribbon. Once it was secured I removed the pins. And voila!

Early spring joy

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Spring is just beginning in sunny Sydney and I thought you might enjoy this spring blossoms.

Thrift alive and well in the 30's

Friday, August 14, 2009

I saw this at a museum in Gulgong and loved the simplicity of this idea in a 1930's Australian country kitchen.

Lantern love

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Having endured many cold winters in London, not always with the best of grace, I now long for the feeling of being truly cold and needing to 'rug up' accordingly. Tonight is cold and crisp in Sydney and the littlest one's pre-school held a lantern festival where stories were told and songs were sung and we went for a walk in the dark with home-made lanterns to light our way. It was magical! When we got home we had a picnic dinner in front of the fire with candles and our lanterns and sang songs (mostly show tunes!) and told stories (although ghost stories were strictly banned by the middle one). Children really are so wonderful at making you appreciate the little things, even my rather dismal story telling had them begging for more.

Life's a game

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My girls love playing the Memory game, I think it might be becasue it is so easy to beat mummy! We found a version of Memory on the gorgeous inchmark website and we adapted it. I decided not to use fabric as I though it might get grotty and laminating it seemed a shame. Instead we dived into my Japanese papers collection and made these treasures. Needless to say so far I haven't managed to win a game.

Cosy eggs

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Tuesday sewing girls made these today, aren't they clever.

Felt is such a great fabric for children to use as it is so easy to sew and doesn't need edging! This project idea was taken from Cath Kidston's make! it took just over an hour for ten and eight year olds to complete.

Felt fancy

All little girls love something fancy. I made this for myself and before it was even finished it was 'bagsied' by the little one. It is hard to say no to such gorgeous eyes.

This necklace will be online soon.

Tuesday sewing class

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Every Tuesday I have a sewing class for a few little girls, it is so much fun and it reminds me how glad I am that my mother taught me how to sew. As a child being able to sew meant being able to make my own clothes, first for my dolls, then for me, it also meant I could sew gifts for my family. I suspect there were more failures than successes, the fun was in the process.

This week with Mother's Day fast upon us, we are making linen hand-towels with appliqued spots of them. Inspiration was taken from Cath Kidston's MAKE book which is bursting with great ideas for beginner sewers.

Thank you bread

Thursday, April 30, 2009

This bread was baked as a thank you to our neighbours and wrapped in a tea towel and ribbon. I just love the simplicity!

It's in the bag

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I made this satchel (above) for my littlest one to take to preschool. It was so simple to make. I doubled over a piece of linen and hemmed it, then turned in inside out or outside in so no seams were showing and then folded and hemmedit to form a pocket and flap. I made it from some heavy weight linen, that should withstand the occasional wash in the machine. I love using linen as it gets softer with age and is so durable. The appliqued heart was made out of Wiltshire Liberty print.

The white bags are her sleeping bag and her baking bag (to bring the bread they bake home on in on Fridays!) They were also really easy to make, all done in an afternoon. The white bags are made of an old cotton sheet.

Dolls on holiday

Monday, April 20, 2009

Our divine local children's shop Spoilt Rotten had these gorgeous papier-mache hot air balloons in the window recently and each morning we would drive past on the way to school and the girls were keen to make their own. They were so simple to make but they do take a few days to make, as you need to let them dry.

To make you will need a balloon, newspaper cut into strips, cornflour paste (recipe below) paint, ribbons and buttons.

Blow up the balloon to the desired size, remember the bigger the balloon the more work required so start small. Using lots of paste stick the strips of paper onto the balloon, you will need four or five layers of paper to make it nice and strong. Leave to dry for at least a day possibly longer in cold weather. When they are ready paint and decorate as desired! We painted ours with stripes and then decorated them with buttons and ribbons. The gondola was made out an old cereal box and attached with string. The doll usually lives in the doll's house but she was keen for a holiday.

Cornflour paste recipe (taken from The Best of Children's Art and Crafts)

You will need
3 parts water
1 part cornflour

Bring water to boil, remove from heat.
Dissolve cornflour in a little cold water and add to hot water, stirring constantly. Boil until clear and thick (about one minute). This paste will keep well in the fridge and can be used for other papier-mache projects

Dearly departed

Saturday, April 04, 2009

I have been lucky enough to 'inherit' various haberdashery items from both my grandmothers. My paternal grandmother left me the most amazing button collection, the remnants of her children's wear factory, and my maternal grandmother left me this fabulous collection of cotton reels.  I say 'inherit' but really these items are just one of many that become part of an estate and need to be distributed thoughtfully.  

Happily they have each inspired me to create.  The buttons are used in my hair accessories (button bows to be precise) and the cotton reels will ensure that I never need buy cotton again as I have every shade imaginable!  

The lovely part about these items is that I think of both of my grandmothers every time I see their things in my sewing cupboard.  I think about their lives and the fact that they saved everything and wasted nothing and it makes me reflect on my own wastage and misuse of materials.  I do endeavour to recycle and reuse as much as I can and I think the key to this is to be well organised and have great storage where you can clearly label and categorise items.  

Amongst the collection was this hosiery darning thread, I marvel at the idea of mending tights. Now laddered tights are only good for staking plants in the garden, but in my grandmothers time they would have been painstakingly mended and mended again.

When we lived in the UK I used to collect the lids from the milk bottles and I even brought them with me to Australia to use in children's art projects and costumes.  Sadly they are all gone now and I wonder whether it would be ecologically sound to have my mother in law collect some more and post them to me?  Probably not as I am sure the carbon emissions would be breathtaking.

A bird box for the birthday girl

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I made this for my littlest child for her birthday.  She loves 'posting' things, so this is perfect for her little imagination, needless to say she loves it!  I used some fabric from my Japanese fabric collection, re-cycled cardboard pieces and ribbon from an old shopping bag, so nothing needed to be bought for the project!  I should say that I saw this idea years ago in a magazine, (I think) so it is not an original idea but one that stayed in my memory and was crying out for being recreated!

A stitch in time

Friday, March 20, 2009

Autumn has brought me back to sewing and friends' new babies are inspiring me again.

I am loving making these personalised cross stitched artworks for little boys (this one is for my gorgeous new nephew).

They should be available online soon.

Floating on the end of summer

Thursday, March 12, 2009

On our summer holiday we made a family of birds, each bird representing a member of our family. The birds were made by creating a shape out of aluminium foil, then covering them with tissue paper and found feathers, grasses, leaves and gum nuts.

It was a great project that even our 2 year-old could get into. Nothing beats gluing! We made them into a mobile using sticks from the garden and string. They floated around on the deck making the holiday rental look more homely. The idea originated from Susie Cameron & Katrina Cook's wonderful book, Small Fry Outdoors.