30 December, 2008


Accompanied with wild flapping of arms. I picked up the new copy of the Community Education brochure for out west and found this course running over a weekend:

Textile design with mixed media

Become your own designer and learn different methods of applying textile paints to fabrics. Covers textures, stamps and transfers to produce artwork or fabric lengths. Spend the first day playing and the second day design and create a finished article.

I bought Lotta Jansdotter's* book Lotta Prints** when I visited my friend Shelly in Harper's Ferry this summer, and I've got my eye on Lena Corwin's Printing by Hand so this course couldn't be better timed. I'm a bit worried that it will be geared toward production of totally naff 'crafty' nana items like you see at those dreadful craft fairs (like this term "texture" - that scares me), but I guess it doesn't really matter if I can keep my eyes averted and on the prize of some really cool fabrics to make bags or pillows out of. I'm thinking about adapting some Gerda Bengtsson wildflower designs.

I have this kit pattern left from years ago when my mum brought it back from a trip to Sweden - something similar would look fabulous in a sort of profile style I think.

It's one of my big vacation regrets that I didn't grab that second book when I got the first but I was being budget-conscious at the time. It'll cost me extra in the long-run now! Will I ever learn about buying things while overseas? Nope, even though I remember those shoes I didn't get in Venice 16 years later :P And there's those window films I should have got two of when I was in Sweden, and that candlestick and...ok so maybe this is the story of my life! :D Of course now pretty much everything is available on the internet but at about twice the cost when you factor in shipping to NZ.

*Do Icelandic people have the coolest last names? I say they do.
** They don't, however, have the coolest book titles

28 December, 2008

Everyday sewing

It's all very well posting pictures of glorious creations but to be honest the real meat and potatoes sewing is putting buttons back on, fixing dropped hems, darning and most importantly, taking up hems on Mat's new pants. Today I fixed the elastic strap that holds Hazel's new jandals* on her little three year old feet (like training wheels really). Not only were they too loose to be any good, but on one strap the elastic is perishing. That really ticks me off - not so much that I'll take it back or anything, but just because it's shoddy and shoddy annoys me. I'm sure she'll have it off soon enough anyways, she just needs to get used to the feel of them. I told her that jandals were her birthright today and she needed to get to the point where she could run in them before she could be considered a true Kiwi. I don't think she needs to be able to tramp in them or swim, but running definitely. I don't have to be able to do that because I'm just a blow-in :)

*otherwise known as flip-flops or thongs

27 December, 2008

Done and dusted


Phew, my first foray into 'Handmade Holidays' is over and I think pretty successful although it didn't make for a very relaxing pre-Xmas period. :P Next year I'm starting in July! Seriously, how do all these bloggers keep posting all through the holidays AND manage to include pictures of what they've done for Xmas this year rather than finishing everything on Christmas Eve? Start in July I guess, plan posts very carefully and don't have their parents staying in the spare room where this computer needs to be to get internet access.

I love love love Christmas trees in the dark. My favourite thing at Christmas


So now that I have my internets back I can post up some photos.

This is the little carry-house I made for Hazel, finished Christmas Eve. Mum helped a lot, there would have been some very late nights if not for her! It's very cute and I'm pleased with how it turned out, but the buttons don't really work well for Hazel, it's too hard for her to get the elastic off and on so I'm going to put on velcro tabs instead. Pity because I love how the buttons look! Made from UK lass in US: Fabric dollhouse tutorial.




The Wee Wonderfuls monkeys turned out well too - Scopes the trial monkey on the left, Luca's minky monkey on the right.

Minky wasn't a great fabric to use, although it coped. Not enough stretch four ways, although it feels divine! Scopes was meant to be for someone else but I couldn't part with him so gave him to Hazel and I can cuddle him whenever I want. :)

I made this monster for Alexander from cashmere wool coating so it's lovely and soft (and sheds a bit which is annoying but that's Rebeccah's problem now! It'll stop Becs, don't worry)


I also made up two nighties/sundresses for Alex and Hazel but haven't managed to get a photo yet.

So now I need to think about some things for ME! Mat got me a rotary cutter and self-healing mat so I'm all psyched to cut up lots of fabric - but I need a project! Plus I need to learn how to use it and whether it's any good for cutting out curves on clothing patterns etc. I only know about straight lines. I've got some lovely fabric from Purl Soho which I need to use, I refuse to let it languish in my stash because I'm too scared to actually use it. Must plot and plan over the next few days, although to be honest my thesis corrections need to come first!

18 December, 2008

Quilty goodness

Actually I'm not sure if it really qualifies as a quilt per se, I haven't pieced it or anything. It's more like a tied something-or-other, but not with ties!


Whatever it is, I'm quite pleased with it, particularly the binding which I made myself! It's not quite as intense a colour in reality, and it matches the pink side perfectly and the blue side ok, which is probably all you can really hope for I guess.

Quilt 2

I used the printable fabric sheets to make up a label for the quilt à lá
Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts
and I was so impressed with the quality of printing! I was expecting it to be a bit fuzzy around the edges but it's crispy and the colours are perfect. The Epson inks seem to be be colourfast as well, I didn't have any run or fading after washing or ironing. It's certainly an argument against going for cheaper refilled ink cartridges, although to be honest how often am I going to be printing this kind of thing?

Label closeup

After that was done it was straight on to Mum's boxy little pouch. Amy Butler fabric in Lotus (from memory)

Boxy pouch

and lined with some old silk I made a shirt from years ago. I love being able to use up old fabrics like that, justifies my keeping everything!

Pouch inside

14 December, 2008

Yay progress!

Despite the late night last night (or this morning) made it through the day ok and find myself finishing up for the night just before 11pm. I washed and ironed the cot quilt and will take photos tomorrow, and just finished up the little box pouch for Mum. It's very cute although has an annoying tendency to squash up and not return to shape when you pinch it to open or close the zipper. I used iron-on interfacing to stiffen the cotton a little and I suspect that was a mistake as it already looks like it might be separating a bit and has that funny wrinkly look to it. Perhaps a heavier fabric might retain shape better without the stiffness. I like the pattern though, it's infinitely adaptable and you could have a lot of fun with it. Mat's put in an order for a really long one to put his photo scales in, although he wants all sorts of fancy additions, including weights to stop it blowing away. Will have to ponder this a bit I think!

Tomorrow is massive running around trying to get presents for the in-laws wrapped and boxed to send down to Marton for Xmas since we're not there until mid-January. I'm nervous about the postage!


I'm posting at 12:52 AM (AM!) because I'm having a wee bout of craft-induced insomnia. I can't stop thinking about what I've done today and what is still left to do and what it will look like and how I'll do it, and what fabric and how it will be constructed and...well you know how the brain works in the wee hours of the morning, even if it's not craft you've got on it. Sigh. I'm looking forward to tomorrow because we're going out to get the Christmas tree, and that's going to be so much fun with Hazel, but I'm dreading how tired I'll be. Must try bed again after I hit the "publish post" button.

One thing that I did wonder while lying in bed pretending to myself that sleep was just around the corner, was exactly how cheap this drive for handmade holidays actually is. On the surface it seems like the answer to these difficult economic times, tightening the belts, getting in touch with our thrifty selves, the things our grandmothers took for granted and all that. But really, isn't this a bit wanky? It's a bit like all the secure middle-class kids at Uni going all hippy and pretending they were poor. Maybe I'm going about it in the wrong way, but when I add up all the bits 'n pieces that go into making something I wonder whether buying something wouldn't be cheaper. I suppose we're meant to be buying our way out of this global recession... But seriously, what do you count and what don't you when you're adding up how much you've saved? Not that I'm going to, but even the fabrics I'm using out of my stash have been paid for at some point in the past, they weren't free. Same with the thread, the electricity the sewing machine uses, and say a zipper you had to go out and get, or another spool of thread, or all the makings for an advent calendar. I can honestly say that one was much more expensive than anything at the shops! :P I just feel like a bit of a fraud sometimes with all this pretend economy. I know this completely disregards the happiness that doing this sort of thing brings me and (hopefully) the recipients, but I do think it's a valid question to be asking.

What have I accomplished from my Christmas to-do list so far:
Monster for Isabella - done and handed over
Pillow for mum - done
Little bag for mum - everything assembled but not started
Quilt for Rebecca - finished but needs to be washed tomorrow
Stuffy bunny for Hazel - done and hidden in closet
Monkey for Hazel - done and hidden in closet (I'm so screwed if she figures this out)
House for Hazel - inners done, fabrics sort of decided on.
Nightie for Hazel - fabrics and pattern decided
One monster - sewn but not stuffed
Two monkeys - one head partially done, body cut out, other one has a few face bits cut out.
Nightie for Alex - same stage as Hazel's.

Man, I wish I'd never written this list out, I won't be getting to sleep until at least 3am now!

09 December, 2008

Advent calendar

I actually managed to get this done the night of November 30th, just squeeked in under the wire! The idea came from here, unfortunately a second-hand source because the original blog seems to have disappeared.

Advent calendar, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

The basic concept was really easy to replicate, but I couldn't figure out how to (easily) attach the tubes together. I tried attaching them with a couple stitches through the cardboard but that just wasn't going to work, never mind how to make sure each tube was perfectly lined up. I had the sudden brainstorm of using paperclips, which hold well and will allow it to be dismantled. Next year I might try and see what I can use that is even sturdier, like those wide metal clips that you slide onto paper with a little tool - they'd be really good although a more expensive option!

Advent calendar.

08 December, 2008

fabric print

I fail at crafting - nothing for two days. Two vital, important pre-Christmas days and nothing is accomplished. Well I did actually craft on the computer last night, working on a file to print off onto my insanely expensive printable fabric.

fabric print, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

The bunny is from A Print A Day and a time-limited download she has with the most adorable bunnies. I'm going to make a small stuffy to go in the pocket of a nightie I'm making for Hazel's stocking. I altered the second bunny image to be a back with a fluffy tail instead of the original Janus concept. I've just realised that heads turned sideways have an eye and half a nose on both sides so have put them back in again. The tag is to go on Rebecca's quilt and yes, she's a Rebecca without an 'h'.

So tonight is all about the monkeys, two of them.

06 December, 2008

Where to from here?

I've started this blog as a way to record my progress with various projects - as well as bits 'n bobs about my life and how crafting fits in with it (or doesn't). I realised that aside from being a mum and a wife, I'm an archaeologist and a crafter and those last two really don't have any connection at all to each other. They compete for my time and my attention and it's a real battle to sort out time allocation and mental energy! In terms of an outlet to talk about them, for the archaeology I can publish papers in journals and go to conferences but for crafting? Well I can go to craft shows I guess, although it's not quite the same thing because there's a seller/customer dynamic going on. I can theoretically craft with other people and while I'd love to do this I don't really know many people to do this with. So a craft blog seems like the equivalent thing to a scholarly journal! Hopefully I can manage to write it in the first person instead of reverting to dry scholarly language :P

It seems particularly apt to start this off before Christmas when I've got a long list of things to make for people and therefore many projects and hopefully photos to post! The header picture is from a quilt I'm currently making for my new niece Rebecca (or Rebeccah, embarrassingly we've never seen her name written and Mat and I are arguing about the spelling. I want it with the 'h'.) using Heather Ross' Rabbits and Racecars fabric. I'm using a very simple design from Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts which is ideal because I've never actually quilted before! I still need to square it up and put the binding on. I hate squaring up - is it just me? I think I've got it and then I realise it's not square on one edge, or by the time I get up to the top it's not square... It stresses me out. I need some sort of giant square about half a metre wide! I know I know, good enough and all that but I'm too anal to let it go. Was it in Amy Karol's Bend The Rules Sewing book that she urges us to enjoy the process and the gifting and not worry about handing over something perfect? I'm trying very hard to become one with this idea, and I think that sometimes I might be getting the hang of it. I'll always be a perfectionist, but I don't freak out now if it's not perfect. I think that's a happy medium.

05 December, 2008

Holding pattern

A virtual placemarker, holding the spot until I get organised. :)


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