30 January, 2010

A mouse from scratch - the concept

The other day when Hazel was in Global Fabrics...well ok, I was in Global Fabrics, she was in the little play area with their toys, she found a little mouse softie. It was pretty cute, obviously handmade, and she was very taken with it. Because she only has about a hundred stuffed animals already and there's always room on the bed and in the heart for one more, when she asked, nay begged, me to make her one "just like this one", I agreed. When we got home she nagged me until I made a sketch of the mouse and then added the tail and critiqued my effort. Apparently the ears weren't at all like that (though I beg to differ). The arms were sewn on but I think buttons would be great for ours.

Global Mouse

The working title for the mouse is the Global Mouse, but no doubt Hazel will choose a much better name in time, just like she did for Bobby Robin's teddy! He's about 20cm tall and I've been instructed that pink would be a good colour (does that make it a she?). Personally I think linen with a pink tummy would look great but we'll see if I can get that past the pink police.

28 January, 2010

A photographic odyssey

I finally got around to doing up the gorgeous Clothkits dress kit I got for Hazel many months ago. It looks so amazing! I lured Hazel out for a photoshoot this afternoon, although she insisted on bringing a small plastic dinosaur with her.

The first few shots she was a very fierce dinosaur

Clothkits dress

But that didn't show the design on the dress so I said "hold your arms out to the side please". Note the small plastic dinosaur in her right hand.

Clothkits dress

Then I realised that hot pink and bright orangey yellow were just not going to photograph well in that light so I gave up. She paused on the deck out of the bright light so I tried again

Clothkits dress

Then I asked her to turn around so I could take a photo of the birdy on her bum. Instantly it was all about the bum, the bum was wiggled, it posed, Hazel giggled and said "bum" a lot. It's a hot topic amongst the four year olds I've noticed! Here it is in a rare still moment

Clothkits dress

Then she asked if she could take a photo of Lucy with the SLR. With misgivings, I put the strap around her neck and my hands on her shoulders and got her down the stairs to take it. It was so heavy she could barely hold it up but she managed to take this lovely photo none-the-less. I like how Lucy's head is in focus but the rest is slightly blurry. Don't you just love tabby markings? The more I look at Lucy the more I think her markings are just incredibly exotic - there's spots and stripes and swirls and colour graditons and almost an Art Nouveau aesthetic to it all. But because tabbies are a dime-a-dozen we lose sight of the amazingness. Sometimes I try to imagine what it would be like to see a cat for the first time, especially a tabby, and I know it'd be a "wow!" moment. I need to do a good closeup of her face so I can point out the little row of tiny brown spots that go from one row of whiskers, under her nose across to the whiskers on the other side. And remind me to tell you my party anecdote about the blotchy tabby mutation and its spread sometime ;) Scientists, we're the life of the party! And yes Dad, I AM a scientist, no "soft science" cracks allowed on this blog. :P


Then I remembered to take a photo of this neat moss (?) that's growing in a pot that used to house a blueberry that got toddlered during one of my mum's group get-togethers. I've been meaning to try out a tilt-shift on it because it looks for all the world like a small oasis of palm trees, but in the end it looked better just cropped.


I need to go out and try photographing it again, but it started to rain and thunder about then - a lovely end-of-a-hot-day-thunderstorm, although all too brief and then even more humid after the sun came out again! Being from Alberta, a province that doesn't do humidity, I don't handle it very well, although I must say it's very nice for skin!

24 January, 2010

Lovely photographs and Machinarium

I've been spending a bit of time going through Tom Palumbo's Flickr stream after he was featured on Ancient Industries. He takes/took such lovely lovely photos - high fashion, art, every-day life, all stylish and just right. Photos like this one just leave me in awe, how could he know just when to click the shutter, to be just where he was, to see the moment and be brash enough to take the photo?


Others like this one just make me smile because it's so lovely

Two Poodles Meet

They're worth viewing in their larger sizes just to appreciate the details.

Hazel and I have also been playing a lot of Machanarium which is this fabulous little game from Amanita Design. Essentially you have to solve puzzles to help a little robot rescue his girlfriend from the bad guys and foil their nefarious plan.

Machinarium screen shot
This is the opening screen

Most of the puzzles are too hard for Hazel to solve at four, and several of them are too hard for me to solve at 40 - but that's what cheat sheets are for right? Otherwise it gave my brain a great workout and Hazel noticed lots of little details that I missed so we made a great team.

Machinarium screen shot
The robot dancing to the band's music, pity the images are static because it's very cute.

We reached the end and now we've been going back and playing again just to enjoy the story, the drawings, and the very very cool music. The Machinarium link above takes you to a free demo of three 'levels' and then you can buy the full game + soundtrack if you want. Personally I thought it was well worth the price!

Machinarium screen shot
I seem to have captured the robot looking the other way! I just love the scenes in this game, so detailed and whimsical. I also love that all the animals are robots as well - owls, cats, mice etc.

22 January, 2010

A sewing version of Ravelry

Looks like us sewers might be getting our own version of the fabulous knitting site Ravelry. Wooo! Check it out here ...

04/07/2011 - the site never seemed to go anywhere - but see my recent post here for a couple of great sites that do work!

21 January, 2010

Sleeves and plants

I'm going to be solo-parenting this weekend with Mat away so I'm not sure how much I'm going to accomplish on the project list while he's away. Having said that I managed to read a good half of the second Millenium novel The Girl Who Played With Fire (Oh so good! Read them now!) this afternoon while Hazel watched Charlie and Lola and played on the computer (bad mummy, bad! bad!) so perhaps I'll get in a bit of sewing, who knows. I'm in the process of redrafting the sleeve pattern for Mat's shirt and I'm feeling totally unconfident about how it will turn out. I wouldn't be half as scared of this if the fabric weren't treasured Heather Ross. I'd happily screw up plain old cotton or linen! Oh well, I suppose if I really render it unwearable I can always make Hazel one of those cute 'little girl's dress from man's shirt' ones from it!

I also made myself a quick nightie based on an old singlet, it's okayyyy but not great. The fabric I used isn't as stretchy as the singlet's fabric so it's a bit tight. I need to play with it a bit before I'd even consider photographing it! The fabric is a lovely burnt orange and hangs beautifully. I was going to use it for a proper dress and I like it so much in this nightie that I'm even more determined to get that dress done!

I took a few photos of the NZ natives in the garden when I was photographing Hazel and the puppy purse:

Flax or Harakeke (Phormium, not Linum)


Flax seed pods

Flax seedpods



18 January, 2010

The little girl's puppy purse

While the shirt may have had a bit of a setback (drafted new sleeve and armhole this afternoon though) my other project came off beautifully! One of the books I got with my Christmas Fishpond book voucher was Kata Golda's Hand-Stitched Felt. I'd had it on my wishlist for ages, after reading a great review of it on Heather Ross' blog. There was also this very cute little video for it

The book arrived on Thursday and since I was doing some babysitting for a friend that night I cut out the felt to do the Little Girl's Puppy Purse and sewed it up while I was out. I even managed to forget the book and it still came together without instructions and I had plenty of time to watch lots of really bad tv. Seriously easy project! And very cute

Little Girl's Puppy Purse

Hazel loves it, mostly for the puppy I think. She's fascinated by the fact that one of its ears flops

Little Girl's Puppy Purse

The only thing I regret about not having the book with me while making it was the puppy placement, mine is all square and centred, the book's is on an angle and looks a bit more playful. That's so me though, everything all lined up and squared away ;)

Most of the other projects in the book look like they'd be as quick and easy as this one - it's all hand-sewing and simple stitches. Nothing fancy here! Several of the projects are guaranteed to send small (and larger) girls into transports of cute, but there are lots of home decor and personal items like glasses cases, mug cosies etc. for the grownups :) My only quibble with this, and I'm not even sure if it's a legit one, is that part of the reason the projects look so gorgeous is her lovely felt, which the books says is available from her website, but in reality it's only as kitsets for the projects and they're fairly pricey. Found out that her felt comes from OhMa Felt and you can buy by the piece. You can get nice felt pieces from other sources, but it's not cheap even in that form and some of these projects call for a fair amount, making them potentially very expensive. I think that if you were going to get serious about having a set of large felt buckets then either you learn to felt your own wool, or you go with cheaper non-handmade versions. This purse was made from a thin blended felt and I doubt it will last for long as the handles will eventually stretch out. Still, it's perfect for carrying around little things, which is what Hazel's all about these days :)

17 January, 2010

Creating not blogging

...for once! Well lately anyways. But yay, got the crafty thing going on again, thanks to the pink wool slippers and a book that showed up last Thursday. The small baby steps and quick project success led me on to bigger (but not necessarily better) things, which is actually sewing Mat's shirt. To be honest I've been putting it off and putting it off because I was scared of a) screwing it up because I haven't sewn a shirt for ages; and b) Mat not liking it because the last shirt I sewed him about 12 years ago he hated. But maybe my sewing skillz have improved over the last few years from doing other things, or perhaps collars were never as hard as I remembered or what, but it's going very well technically* and Mat really seems to like it so far! Hopefully pictures to come tomorrow or Tuesday. I don't like doing a post without pictures, but I think I can be brave and hit the 'publish' button without them!

*other than that the fusible interfacing on the collar bubbled a bit after a few hot irons. Bugger! Not sure what to do to fix it. Anyone have advice?

ETA: Aieeee!! I jinxed myself! Yes, technically everything was going fine, but the pattern let me down. I had the first sleeve in and sewed up the side and tried it on Mat. The sleeve was waaay too tight around the underarm. So I let it out by about a centimetre and tried it on again. Better but still not great, it had a nasty pull into the underarm area both front and back. I was a bit distraught but Mat was very reassuring and kept saying it would be ok even though I know it's not nice to wear clothes that bind. We both puzzled over why and then Mat had the great idea of checking it against some of his other shirts. We discovered that while the dimensions of the two shirts were almost identical, the armhole needed to sit further in on the shoulder and curve into the body more. I actually had vague memories of mum telling me something similar about armholes when we were initially figuring out what was wrong with the fit. So anyways, I think the situation is salvageable - I'll take a pattern off one of the shirts and recut the armhole and sleeve and start again. Needless to say there won't be any photos tomorrow or Tuesday!

15 January, 2010

My current project

Wicker dolls pram, originally uploaded by Hazelnutgirl.

Or one of them anyways! My cousin passed on her old wicker doll's pram to Hazel this Christmas. It was a hand-me-down for her too, so not sure how old it is but I love it! It needs a bit of TLC but is otherwise in fabulous condition. When she sent me an email asking if I'd be interested I just about fell off my chair in my haste to reply and say "Yes!"

I spent an hour or so scrubbing the hood with soapy water this afternoon and have come to the conclusion that wicker is bloody hard to clean! I'll get there eventually though! And maximum result too, it's going to look really nice. I think it's important to fix the things that might result in it being badly damaged - like the jury-rigged hinge on one side of the hood and maybe some of the little spots of rust, and to replace that rubbery grip stuff on the handle which has perished away. Otherwise we'll leave it as is, worn paint and all. Hazel got a lot of attention when we went for a walk down to the shops with it a couple days ago. One lady even stopped us to talk about her old pram that she'd given to her daughter!

Week 2 of the 52 Friday self-portrait challenge is here. If you're interested in joining the 52 Fridays Flickr group, we're here!

13 January, 2010

Easing back into it

As my friend Jess suggested earlier, the perfect way to get my craftyness on again is to start with a pair of pink wool baby slippers. Not that her advice was completely unbiased but I'm sure she mostly had my welfare at heart :)) So here's the start.

Button flowers WIP

I first started making these little slippers when Hazel had just learned to walk and they're really very simple to make. I can't find the link to the pattern I've adapted, but will find it for when I've got some completed slippers to show. Here's Hazel's chubby little toddler legs in the first pair I made. Eeeee so gorgeous! Even now I could just eat them up. The legs, not the slippers.

Bee slippers

I do believe that Jess has this pair as well now, though from memory the green was darker than they show in this photo - maybe they're not the same. I've made so many they start to merge together!

My cup runneth over with the 2+2 blouse as Oliver + S linked to it again in their ongoing series on how to use fabrics in clothing. It's really just so nice when other people like your stuff as much as you do! It's a great bunch of posts that series, if you're interested in making stylish clothes for kids it's all there.

12 January, 2010

Squirrels in my pants!

Well no, not really because we don't have them here in NZ but it was either that title or "Eeee!". I popped over to my stats as I do periodically and I'd had 450-odd visitors today which is about 4x normal. I looked at referrals and nothing looked obvious so I started to panic a bit thinking my blog had been posted somewhere undesireable, or worse. Not that I know what worse could be but I'm sure it exists! Anyways, on page three of referrals I found the answer - Oliver + S had posted a link to my 2+2 blouse in their newsletter. Phew! So nice of them, I'm really flattered and much nicer to have them as the source of the visitors than what I'd feared! :P

Which just goes to show, checking your stats can be bad for your mental health. Let me be a bad example! Still, if I hadn't checked I wouldn't have known of my brief flirtation with publicity :)

10 January, 2010

A new year a new header

Well, another try at a new one anyway! I like this one much better, although it does bear a striking resemblance to the last one - but hey, let's just say I like to work within a theme and each year will be variations thereon. Yeah, that's it... I obviously like similar colours for the blog though, I thought that when I changed the photo that I'd need to do more matching of colours for post titles and links and so-on but apparently not. Nope, many of the colours appeared to be the same more-or-less, not that I discovered that until I'd pulled all the html codes for the various colours in the image and plugged them in and...not much changed! Ah, it's a sobering realisation when you think you're really moving away in a new direction only to discover that really you're just doing a small zig-zag in your rut :))

Actually, I wrote that and then had a fabulous idea for a different header which I'm currently exploring - stay tuned!

09 January, 2010

52 Fridays: A self-portrait challenge

When I read in Holly's Two Cheese Please blog late last night about her aim to post a self-portrait every Friday I thought it was a neat idea, and then Ellie at Petalplum did it too and I was sold. Not entirely sure why, except that it's definitely going to force me out of my comfort zone because I've never liked photos of me and I have reams of them of other people and very few of me. I think making myself put up a photo of me, unretouched, every week might actually be good for my soul. I don't actually promise to remember every week but I'll try!

So here's the first one. It was taken last night about midnight, after I came back from seeing Avatar.

Week 1

I was up until 1am last night which is hugely late for me these days and then what with Hazel coming into bed with me around 2:30 and the cat throwing up on a rug in the bedroom at some point after that, I feel rather hung-over and crap this morning!

07 January, 2010

Crafting slump

Man I'm feeling so unmotivated to get doing anything at the moment. It's like I burned myself out before Christmas! I'm reading the books and feeling all inspired but I just can't make myself get on to the things I need to do next that are left over from before Christmas. The first one is the shirt for Mat, and then a couple things for me. Bleh. Well I suppose I just need to make myself start and then it'll be fine, but it's so hard! I'd rather start on something quick and cute and easy from I ♥ Patchwork but Mat is so keen for his shirt and I know that I need to do it first no matter what. It's all just displacement I'm sure, I'm just a bit nervous of sewing something for him in case he doesn't like it!

So in lieu of anything crafty I thought I'd share one of the things I like most about my blog stats - looking at the location of readers. There are some really neat town names in there! Here are some of my favourites from the last couple days:

Schwenningen, Baden-Wurttemberg
Eskisehir, Turkey
Titusville, Florida
Vadstena, Ostergotlands Lan
Schenectady, New York
Cocoa, Florida
New Iberia, Louisiana
Medicine Hat, Alberta
Waukesha, Wisconsin
Bumpass, Virginia
Heiloo, Noord-Holland
Biloxi, Mississippi
Traverse City, Michigan
Hlohovec, Trnava
Tallinn, Harjumaa
Tehachapi, California
Cagliari, Sardegna
Ziezmariai, Kauno Apskritis

Are you from any of these places? I want to hear what they're like because I love the names! A couple are familiar, but mostly they're exotic and far-away sounding, especially the ones with more consonants than vowels :) The only one I've been to is Medicine Hat but I can't go past that name!

06 January, 2010

I Love Patchwork...I think I really do!

Here's another Christmas book, Rashida Coleman-Hale's I ♥ Patchwork.

I Love Patchwork

This was a bit of a punt in the dark as the preview on Amazon consisted of one project, a few glimpses, and the list of projects. I don't think I've seen it reviewed anywhere either, but I do like her blog and linen so thought I'd give it a try. Ooooo I'm so glad I did! I'd say I'm keen to do about 3/4 of the projects and desperate to about 1/2 of them - not a bad hit rate I'd say! So I thought I'd just quickly show a few of the ones I've got in mind:

The travel sewing kit - I love the little pincushion in the middle.
I Love Patchwork

Cosmetics bag - I love linen combined with more colourful cottons. I can see this in reds, pinks or yellows too. Or a bigger shoulder bag using the same technique for the bottom third?
I Love Patchwork

This little lamb softie was a total surprise for me when I turned the page, I totally did not expect to find toys in this book! But considering I have a weakness for softies I think it was very restrained of me to only go "Oh!" in a small, girly voice.
I Love Patchwork

I love this sewing machine cover, although since my machine doesn't have a permanant place to live and needs to be carted around by its handle I don't think it's practical at this point. But when I get my own sewing room one day look out!
I Love Patchwork

The button calendar is genius. Even Mat said it was pretty neat. They're attached with velcro, but I think you could something really neat with magnets and a bit of metal in the body too.
I Love Patchwork

So this really gets the big thumbs up from me and I've discovered a couple more projects that I'm interested in since taking the photos, including a great fold-up shopping bag that's very similar to envirosax in concept. I love my envirosax but I also love the idea of something in natural fabrics. Which they do, but at about 5 times the cost of doing it yourself!

05 January, 2010

Book review: Design-It-Yourself Clothes

I've done pretty well with the craft books over Christmas, Mat and Hazel gave me one and a book token from Fishpond which I used to buy two more! Yay. So forthwith a review of sorts and photos of the first one, Design-It-Yourself Clothes by Cal Patch.

Design It Yourself Clothes

I think having both this and Twinkle Sews means I actually HAVE to start making my own clothes right? It's a moral duty. The thing I like about the DIYC one is that it doesn't matter what size you are because the patterns are based on your measurements and you build them up from scratch. So way more time consuming to start with because you have to take your measurements (definitely need someone to help take those btw) and then translate those onto paper with associated curves, then make muslins and adjustments and so-on. But once you've got that sorted, well easy-peasey lemon-squeezy as Hazel says. The book starts off with very simple garments - a basic skirt, tshirt, buttoned shirt and pants, and then you build on from there.

So for example you start with the basic T:

Design It Yourself Clothes
(the models in this book are so gorgeous and totally un-retouched btw, I love it!)

and then you progress to this one:

Design It Yourself Clothes

and then to this one:

Design It Yourself Clothes

altering the basic pattern as you go. Same goes for the buttoned shirt (right) from which you can make the two options on the left:

Design It Yourself Clothes

The only drawback to this is that some of the later patterns are based on the body pattern from one and the sleeves from another - but what if you don't want to make that particular earlier garment? And like the Twinkle Sews book, the assembly instructions are minimal and all text. However they're a lot more comprehensive and understandable than the former! Aside from those little issues, I think it's a great way to introduce the idea of making your own patterns and teaching you techniques for customising them as you go. It doesn't deal with how to adapt the patterns for particular body shapes though, like a big bum or no bum, big boobs, wide shoulders and things like that but there are yet more books to deal with things like that I know - first things first! I'm really looking forward to trying this out as I'm determined to make more of my own clothes this year and really enjoy wearing them - which means they need to be properly fitted! I'm wondering if doing a few items out of here would be a good way to work with the Twinkle Sews patterns, just in terms of getting the right sizes and fit.

04 January, 2010

Felt bunny family

Over Christmas I had a really lovely email from Jen who sent me a link to photos of the bunnies she'd done with my tutorial. Not only was I excited that someone had actually made a bunny but they were so darned cute! She's given me permission to put them up in the Flickr group and I thought I'd post them here too so you can all admire what a great job she did (those little capes and Peter's jacket are adorable).

Bunnies by Jennifer

Bunnies by Jennifer

Bunnies by Jennifer

03 January, 2010

Unexpected commonalities

When we were down at my in-laws place I was doing a bit of mending for them, and fixing up my brother-in-law's slippers with blanket stitch etc. so I was doing some rummaging around in my mother-in-law's sewing bits 'n bobs looking for thread and wool and so on. I came across this fabric wrapped up in yellow tissue paper, in with lots of other very scrappy bits of fabric like the bottoms of jeans she'd hemmed - the kind of thing I'm very tempted to keep too but which makes me roll my eyes when someone else actually does :P This, however, is different.

Julie's fabric

I wish she was well enough to tell me about it, but I think I know the story because it struck a chord with me. I'm 99% sure it's Liberty although I can't find the exact pattern anywhere; it looks like Liberty, it feels like Liberty, and it was clearly treasured like Liberty! I'd say she made a shirt out of it and couldn't bear to throw any of it out, there are tiny tiny scraps in the bundle! No-one else wanted it, so the jean and dress hems went out and this came home with me.

It might seem a bit odd that I'm blogging about it, but when I opened up the tissue paper it was like there was a connection between us, over who knows how many years, because I knew exactly how she felt when she wrapped it all up carefully. I'm very fond of my mother-in-law and we get along well, but we're such very different people that we don't have a very deep and personal connection. Now that she's ill there's yet another barrier between us and I accept that it's likely to remain so for the forseeable future. So it's neat that a little bundle of fabric scraps showed me that, although our personalities are quite different, we do share some little quirks!

It's these little connections that make archaeology fun too. I remember on one historic dig in inner-city Sydney where we were excavating a row of terrace houses and we found a wee stash of marbles. They'd been carefully put inside a ventilation grate by the back steps and were a motley assortment of old and new, purpose made and appropriated from the old soda bottles that used them as seals. My co-worker and I just knew, in that moment, that a little boy had hidden them away and for some reason hadn't retrieved them and they'd lain there for maybe 80 years or so, even as the house was razed above them. I wonder if he ever thought about them or if he'd simply forgotten them and moved away? I felt the same when I picked up a Mousterian hand axe from a plowed field in Syria - 70,000 years ago a Neandertal made it, held it and lost it, and there it was in my hand having sat in the ground for all that time. It still sends a shiver down my spine.

02 January, 2010

The 2+2 blouse

2+2 Blouse

Can you believe that she's actually voluntarily wearing this?! In the end I gave it to her for Christmas openly (along with her Little Pup toy) and didn't resort to putting it in her stocking. I'm glad I did! She really seems to like it and I'm feeling pretty happy about it in general. It's a cute pattern and I'm sure I'll make it again a few times, both short-sleeved and the long-sleeve option.

2+2 blouse

I think part of the reason she likes it is that the fabric (My Folklore by Lecien) has squirrels on it and she loves squirrels. We often sing this song, from one of our favourite cartoons, Phineas and Ferb

01 January, 2010

The Year in Review

I've been really taken with the mosaics people have been producing today with their 2009 creations so I thought I'd hop on the bandwagon. I must say that I was surprised how much I'd actually accomplished! I started with a 4x4 mosaic and then had to enlarge it to 5x5 and finally to 5x6. I think I might have actually left out a couple things - oh! Mum's tea cosy. Drat. I think I have a couple photos hosted through Picasa and I did this with Flickr. I used Mosaic Maker and linked it to my Flickr account which made it really easy, if anyone else wants to give it a try.

2009 Mosaic

1. Snuggle blanket, 2. Easter bunny, 3. Jess's pincushion, 4. Pink felt bunny, 5. Wonderful package, 6. Felt crown, 7. Chibi rabbits and kitty, 8. Felt mask, 9. More felt rabbits, 10. Sewing Green Slippers, 11. Pencil Roll 1, 12. Fairy crown, wand and skirt, 13. Bag for Hazel, 14. Piggie wheatie warmer, 15. Reversible Bucket Hat, 16. Felt bunny, 17. Loobylu embroidery closeup, 18. Hazel in her Sunday Brunch Jacket, 19. Ikea chair cover, 20. Felt pouch #3, 21. Hazel's drawing on a tea towel, 22. Spotty bag 2, 23. Sewing Green slippers, 24. Card holder 2, 25. Little Pup(s), 26. Amy's Quilt front, 27. 2+2 blouse, 28. Finished sheet, 29. First stamp, 30. Embroidered pouch and shoe bag

I've really really enjoyed my first year of 'public' blogging (I had a Live Journal blog for about 5 years before this), it's been so much more fun and interesting and, dare I say it, fulfilling than I'd imagined! I read in Perogative of Harlots today that 60-80% of all blogs are abandoned within the first month, so for everyone who survived the first year - go us! The link to the stat there is actually a quite interesting article on the stats of blogging, puts it all in perspective really!


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