Sewing for Christmas and babies, part three: 2018

I promised you cake and cake you shall have! Sewing will also follow later in this post.

My nephew Harvey has his first birthday in September 2018 and I was asked to help with food. I offered to make the cake because I had an idea and if I’m helping with something it should at least be fun for me too.

(I’m sure if I didn’t mention it you wouldn’t even notice but please ignore the lack of splash back in my kitchen. I finally chose tiles the following month but of course they had to come from far far away and didn’t arrive until late December. They’re actually being installed as you read this!)

I began the night before the party with Sally’s Baking Addiction Easy Homemade Funfetti Cake (a new recipe for me that turned out to be delicious) and some sketches…

I didn’t really have enough hands to take progress pictures but here it is crumb coated the morning of the party.

I used the Chelsea Basic Butter Cream Icing recipe for the crumb coat and the final icing.

Some blue food colouring, smarties and pink wafer biscuits later…

And here it is at the party with all the other food:

The one year old babies didn’t seem impressed but I was really happy and the adults loved it.

Ok, sewing!

For Christmas 2018 I added to my nephews Christmas decoration collection. To follow on from the cake success I decided a festive dinosaur would be appropriate.

Anything can become festive with the addition of a Santa hat.

My sister said when they opened it on Christmas day H tried to eat it which apparently is a good sign.

Nerdy Husband also liked the festive stegosaurus so our tree got one too.

I made one other decoration for 2018, inspired by this Etsy listing.

Except for the stitching on the dial I think this one is mostly glued together. It felt a bit weird to use glue for a sewing machine ornament so I kind of did my own thing…

Oh and when I said “one more”, I actually meant three…

One for me and one each for two fabulous ladies I know.

I’ve had these tiny wooden cotton reels in my “I don’t know what I’m going to do them but I have to buy them” pile for a while. They were the perfect size.

I did tack the paperclip “needles” and bamboo kebab skewer “thread spools” in place with some glue.

I formed the flywheel around a bit of cardboard and stitched the sides. A large bead helped me attach it with thread.

I didn’t think about the weight of the thread spool so the hangers ended up needing to be under them for the machines to hang level.

Pretty cute, huh?

They look good on our Christmas trees too!

THE DETAILS:

Pattern – 

Fabric –  Felt from my stash

Other notions – DMC Stranded Cotton, ribbon, miniature wooden thread spool, bamboo kebab skewer, paperclip, beads

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Sewing for Christmas and babies, part one: 2017

I saw this meme somewhere, it made me smile, you might also relate to it:

I don’t make New Years Resolutions but I am kind of over being behind with my blogging! So to get me started this, and the next post, are going to cover a lot 🙂 and then hopefully the writing keeps happening because I do miss it.

In late 2017 I was to become an Aunty and to welcome my nephew into the world I wanted to make him a soft toy.

I had in my head this photo of me and my little sister beside a huge Pink Panther toy. She’s still fairly brand new which puts me a 3 & 1/2 years old. I’m not sure if this photo was supposed to be part of a series but I like the idea.

On Etsy I discovered DIY Fluffies and accidentally bought 6 patterns including this ridiculously gorgeous Giraffe that I liked so much I decided I had to copy the fabric choice as well.

Apologies in advance that a lot of these photos were taken at night time on my old phone.

Note the beautifully illustrated instructions.

I picked up the brown and yellow spotty cottons from Spotlight and all the felt I had in my stash.

The pattern comes as a single A4 file with two pages of instructions and two of the pattern pieces, one of which you need to print twice. The instructions suggest cutting out the pattern pieces then drawing around them on to the fabric while adding your 1cm seam allowance. I added my seam allowance to the paper pieces instead before cutting out. They also say “seam allowance doesn’t have to be very precise” but on such small pieces I disagree.

I really enjoyed making this little cutie but it did come with it’s fair share of challenges.

First of all the tail was the hardest piece to turn! It’s so narrow and getting past the join between tail and tip was almost impossible…I’m not sure how I’d try it next time…maybe catching a long thread in there while assembling so that I’d have something to pull through the tail, like how a bodkin works, to get it started.

The ossicones (dictionary lesson: that’s what giraffe antlers are called, I checked. Try and use it in a sentence later today) were only slightly easier.

But if I thought the tail was hard, that was nothing compared to the tiny hoofs!

Pinning them enough to get a smooth sewing line and then trying to fit them under the machine foot was so difficult. Sewing black at nighttime didn’t help either. I used a narrow foot but I still had to unpick all the little caught sections so many times!

My favourite part of this pattern is how the legs come together. They have a gusset which means all four legs end up independent and tubular. The giraffe stands sturdily on it’s own, it’s quite clever.

The head was a breeze.

The ears get caught in the horizontal seam at the back of the head but the ossicones are stitched onto the head surface. I stitched these on pretty securely but part of me is still a little worried. Next time I’d add a second horizontal seam so they could get sewn in similar to the ears and work out a way to get them to stand upright.

Overall I’m pretty proud of this little cutie. A few tricky bits but ultimately it was worth it and fun to see it take shape so quickly.

It took A LOT of stuffing and the final giraffe is 37cm tall.

Here it is with my nephew H. I’m not sure how old he is in this pic, he still looks pretty new but he has found his smile 🙂

I actually made two of these giraffes simultaneously. So now you understand why I emphasised the the tail and feet issues, they were doubled for me!

A good friend of mine J was expecting a couple of months before my sister so it made sense to double down and make giraffes for all.

P loves his Giraffe too:

As well as a giraffe for H I also started a tradition of making and sending a Christmas decoration each year. I find the endless plastic toy adverts that bombard us leading up to Christmas so disgusting that I wanted to make something a bit more meaningful. It later years I’ll start adding educational toys or books to accompany them.

For his first ever Christmas I thought a stocking would make perfect sense.

I sketched out the pattern myself and even had a go at some hand sewn lettering.

It’s basically to layers that I decorated first. These were then sewn together with a white rectangle folded over the top. You can’t access the inside of the stocking.

I’m not sure how he’ll feel when he gets to 18 and has 18 handmade ornaments from his crazy Aunty. Hopefully he appreciates them…eventually…we’ll see 😉

THE DETAILS:

Pattern –

Fabric – 

  • Cottons from Spotlight and my stash
  • Felt from my stash

Other notions – Hobby fill, buttons, DMC Stranded Cotton, ribbon

 

 

Merry Grinchmas, have some Christmas cats…

Well it’s April now so I guess I better blog my Christmas sewing from 2016 😉

I decided I wanted to make a Christmas themed dress this year, to wear to my work Christmas party and on Christmas day. I spent way too long trying to find the perfect Christmas fabric online and suddenly it was mid-November and way too late to order anything.

While in Spotlight for something unrelated I noticed all the Christmas themed fabric was on special. There were a lot of options but nothing really jumped out at me. I eventually spotted some ridiculously “me” crazy cat themed Christmas Fabric and I decided that would do. I grabbed 2 meters which was not enough for the dress pattern I eventually decided on (another Sew Over It Betty Dress) and so I had to go back later in the week for more.

Nerdy Husband accompanied me on my second trip and I while I was frantically digging for more Christmas cats he was quietly deciding he needed a Christmas shirt and handed me a bolt of Grinch fabric. I finally found the cats and another meter came home with the Grinches.

For NH’s shirt I dug out an old Vogue pattern I’d made about 10 years ago.

Super trendy! It required many alterations.

The super huge collar is one piece so I drafted a new two-piece collar from that. After comparing the body pieces to a favourite shirt I removed 1.5cm width from both front and back pieces and added 6.5cm in length.

I didn’t buy enough fabric…again. The envelope said 2.6m of 115cm and I only bought 2.0m of 112cm so I played the hardest game of Pattern Tetris ever which included adding 3cm to the front piece so that I could self-face the button placket instead of cutting a separate piece. I also had to find room for a pocket piece  reshaped to be more pointy in place of the original late-90s curvy one.

Front…

Back + first attempt at sleeve placement…

Rotated sleeve is more efficient…

Second sleeve – yay for non-directional fabric…

Last fabric scrap left! Collar…

Aaaand pocket! Phew!

I did it! And as tough as it was there is something quite satisfying about tiny scraps of expensive fabric. Now please enjoy these two obviously not-modeled finished photos.

And now for my dress and it’s much less dramatic sewing journey:

It went much easier since I’ve made a million Betty Dresses (1, 2, 3) and so to lift the excitement I also ordered a new red frou frou from my favorite swing dance store in Napier, Let’s Jive, a mere 2 days before the party…spoiler: it arrived in time.

This version is fully lined in a lemon poplin and has the all important and endlessly useful pockets.

Oh and do you like my cardigan? I realised I would need one for when it got chilly later in the evening…did you think I could find a red cardi in my size in any of the 20 odd shops near my work? Nope.

So the day before it was required, with my dress still needing to be hemmed, I lunched with Nikki and Kat who told me to stop my complaining and just make one. So we cut lunch short and wandered up to The Fabric Store where I bought the perfect red merino for a cropped Muse Jenna.

I washed and dried the merino while I hemmed my dress and then I cut and overlocked my heart out! There’s nothing quite like a tight deadline…

You might have noticed the lack of closures and if not I’m pointing that out right now…I might add some hammer-on snaps sometime…or maybe not 😉

I wore my dress to our work festivities, on the last day at work for 2017, on Christmas day with my in-laws, and to my families late Christmas. The Grinchmas shirt was worn on the last day of work (I potentially have orders but good luck with that guys!) and on Christmas day as well.

But my dress wasn’t the only cat sewn up for Christmas Day – I also made a cushion for S, my cat-mad sister-in-law, from this huge cat panel I found on the Spotlight clearance table. There were three identical cat heads across the width so the cushion is double-sided and I have absolutely no idea what to do with the remaining cat…look out for it on mu table at the next Fabric-a-brac 😀

S loved it but Tora isn’t too impressed…

Phew, Christmas sewing blogged!

THE DEETS:

Patterns – 

Fabric –

From Spotlight, Porirua

  • X16 Merry Grinchmas Cotton, $29.99/meter (-40% on sale),
  • X16 Kitty Xmas All Over Cotton, $19.99/meter (-40% on sale)
  • Lemon Poplin Cotton, $5.99/meter
  • Random cat panel fabric, $4.00/meter clearance

From The Fabric Store

  • 100% New Zealand Merino

Other notions – Buttons, invisible zipper, interfacing

#notmycat

 

WSBN Does Christmas 2014

Every year (well, the last two years anyway, since that is how long the WSBN has been in existence!) we celebrate Christmas by swapping hand made decorations in the style of Secret Santa.

This year we used Elfster so that everyone could remain anonymous, even the organisers. Those that wanted to play signed up and received their partner along with three hints to help them narrow down all the options 😉

But first, food!

If you’ve had your eye on the WSBN for a while you’ll know there is one thing we do just as well as sewing…food.

It was a little chilly for our planned high tea picnic so we met at one of the WSBNers homes and spread out our glorious selection of treats. Yummy!

Later we got on with our swap and there was plenty of this:

Joahnna, Emily, Joy
Sandra, Juliet, Teresa
Me, Zara, Nikki

Everyone got fabulous decorations and it was so much fun to see each one revealed. Big thanks to Sandra for capturing all the reactions 😀

Sandra drew me and made this hilariously accurate and super cute Christmas Harri in a Stocking.

AMAZING right?! Sandra even stalked my Facebook photos to get all the white bits in the right places. Look at Harri’s little socks!

When I showed Christmas Harri to Nerdy Husband he was super impressed and took her out of my hands to hang her on the tree right away.

Sandra also gave me her back-up ornament, the one she made first in case Christmas Harri was a flop. I really like it too but Harri wins paws down 😉

I drew Jenna and her hints included her love of birds. I’ve had a decoration idea in my head for while now involving native NZ birds but hadn’t gotten around to it so this year was the year!

I decided on trying to make a Tui since for me Tui = Christmas.

I shall explain: In New Zealand Christmas is during Summer which means BBQs, jandals, the beach and flowering Pohutukawa.

“Tui Eating Nectar” from virtualoceania.net

You might hear it called the New Zealand Christmas tree because of this (it’s also green and red) and the Tui flock to them to feed on the nectar.

Here is my inspiration Tui image courtesy of nzbirdsonline.

Tui are endemic to New Zealand, they have beautifully iridescent wings and a little white throat tuft. They are mimics and sing enthusiastic and complicated melodies that include gurgles, coughs and wheezing that have their own regional dialects. They are also super noisey in flight and sound as if in constant danger of crashing. I love them if you couldn’t tell… 😉

I started with Susan’s Gregarious Evening Grosbeak bird from her Downeast Thunder Farms blog. All her birds and other critters are amazing btw so go check them all out!

I omitted the beak piece and eye cap, extended the beak from the body and redesigned the tail. I added a second longer tail and the throat tufts then cut it all out of felt.

I cut the first body out of brown but it looked terrible so swapped to black and added green, blue and white felt for the other pieces.

I used black beads for the eyes and hand sewed the whole thing with matching thread and contrast on the wings. I really enjoyed this hand sewing because it was a lot of fun to see the bird take shape. I also slightly over-stuffed it because Tui are generally a little chubby.

When I was done NH said it needed legs to I dug out some wire and my pliers to bend some little feet. I made one foot then I pushed the wire though the body, bent the legs down and made the second foot. They kind of swing about but I like that.

I inserted a thick needle into the neck to find the right balance point and then used green floss for the hanger so that it blends in with the tree.

I liked my Tui so much that I didn’t actually want to give it away so I made another one for myself..and then two more. You can envision my evening of watching old Stargate SG-1 (mmm, Richard Dean Anderson…) while working on my Tui production line.

By the end of the third episode I’d created a little felt Tui army that I wish I’d remembered to take a picture of. I also wish I’d had my camera ready for when Harri took an experimental bite of one. I kid you not!

One of the spare Tui went to Fashionable Younger Sister and the other to my In-laws.

And that is how the WSBN celebrate Christmas, may our Decoration Swap tradition last long into the future…I’m going to need a bigger tree!

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Happy Christmas Eve Eve

I just thought I’d quickly share what my Christmas Eve Eve has consisted of…

Some of this…

…and this…

…which will become this!

And then some of this…

…to make Nerdy Husbands favourite!

A little bit of prep to make Christmas morning less about stress and more about fun and family 🙂

And you should see the size of the turkey currently defrosting in my fridge!

Now that is out of the way I am doing a wee bit of sewing, not the birthday dress, best intentions and all that, I’m not stressing myself out, it’s nice to slow down sometimes, to remember that I sew for fun and the mental challenge.

I had to re-make the collar for RNHS rugby jersey (after digging for more white drill in the stash) and here I am modelling it after joining the shoulders, I used twill tape in the seam to prevent any stretching.

Check out that beautiful button placket!

I have since pinned the side seams, very pleased with my stripe matching. No tricky stuff left now, I may even finish it today. I will give you the official Nerdy Husband verdict in the New Year.

So since this will probably be my last post for 2012 I’d just like to wish you all a happy & safe Christmas, see you on the other side in 2013 xx

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A little bit of Christmas Crafting/Sewing

WARNING: The following post is picture heavy! 😀

I am not a huge Christmas Crafter – probably because up until May this year I was a serial renter which seems to suck the joy out of pretty much everything.

Last year, our first back home in NZ, I participated in the 2011 New Zealand Handmade Christmas Ornament Swap and again this year because I LOVE handmade Christmas ornaments, as our Christmas tree, in all its artificial glory, clearly shows!

Ours is a higgledy piggledy tree with no clear theme, apart from the obvious one, Christmas!

I used to admire those pretty colour coded, themed trees you see in the shops but really I find no joy with them.

Perhaps our tree does have a theme, handmade, because apart from the tinsel (and next year I have an idea to begin replacing that!), the lights, one buzzy bee and a handful of small sparkly baubles, everything else is handmade.

But I get ahead of myself because my 2012 NZ Handmade Ornament arrived late last week from my swap partner, Renee of KnittWhitt, and it is so very very cool.

Isn’t it amazing?! And sparkly! It fits our tree “theme” perfectly.

Basically it is pins stuck into a polystyrene ball with a sequin and bead under the head. Simple but so beautiful, and did I mention sparkly? I am really impressed at how neatly she spaced all the sequins, it took me a while to figure it out. During the day, when the sun hits the tree, it lights up and at night, with the tree lights on, it almost glows on it’s own.

I would love to have a go at making one next year!

For Renee’s ornament, I hummed and hawed and finally selected a little softie from How to Make Stuffed Animals by Jennifer Korff. When I saw her Deer Cake Topper I knew the stag would make a great Rudolf!

Deer Cake Topper – Jennifer Korff

They were a little bit fiddly to sew (only a little bit of hand sewing at the end) but quite satisfying and (believe it or not) relaxing to make, I am quite proud of them.

I was originally going to go very Christmas with my fabric selection but eventually changed my mind and went for a kind of vintagy feel instead, I’m glad I did. I also made two at the same time in the hopes that at least one would turn out nice enough to give to Renee.

They look very strange until stuffed

…and really creepy without any eyes!

In the end they were both a bit wonky, but in a super cute way so that made me smile.

For the nose I originally asked Nerdy Hubby what he thought of a big red button and he agreed it was a great idea. Later on, by myself, I overrode our collective decision and decided to go with a small red circle of felt instead.

I showed Nerdy Husband the final Rudolfs:

“What happened to the big red button noses?”

“I thought they looked too big so I changed them for a bit of felt instead”

“No, the buttons were perfect, they suit the wonkyness. Go get your unpicker…”

At least I can always rely on his honesty:

So finally I wrapped one of them up for posting:

And here is my Rudolf on my tree:

If you are interested here are a few of my other handmade ornaments (click an image for the gallery):

This year I also decided to make myself a Christmas table cloth so I bravely ventured into Spotlight where it was crazy busy but the “50% off all Christmas fabric” sign made queuing for a ridiculously long time while a single staff member served the entire store all worth it.

Our table expands to seat 8 in a square, it is high, like you find in a bar, and everyone who has sat at it LOVES it. I had to join two lengths of fabric together but the join is lost in the pattern…also I didn’t bother to iron it for this photo, sorries 😉 I will iron it before Christmas day!

I was aiming for Christmassy-but-not-tacky…

OK, last photo I promise, then all the Chrstmas craftyness is out of my system 😉 While I was sick at home I spent some quiet time making Christmas Crackers for everyone:

It was nice and relaxing and I am looking forward to giving them out on Christmas day.

I just want to finish this post by saying a (very late) thank you to Womaximum for nominating me for the Liebster blog award and Sewionista who awarded me the Very Inspiring Blogger award. I just recently posted about the One Lovely Blog Award so you can pop over and read that post for some new interesting facts about me. Thank you ladies, why don’t you go and check out their amazing blogs too?

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Merry Christmas!

Ok, I am a day late (well for those of you in my part of the globe anyway), it’s boxing day here right now, I hope you all enjoyed a happy Christmas.

Today I indulged in a few of the Boxing Day sales and now I am putting the finishing touches on my third (and final…for now) JJ blouse. I guess I could call it the Boxing Day blouse and I am about to sew on the buttons. That means of course that the button holes are done, my least favourite part (after setting in the sleeves) and I am excited to announce that for the first time I didn’t forget to reset my machine between button holes! Not even once, no unpicking for this little kiwi! So photos hopefully soon and yes, I know I still owe you photos of the 1930s dress, I’ll get to them, promise.

Actually I have a whole pile of things I want to share with you guys including the most awesome Secret Santa gift ever! But first, check out my super cute Christmas Ornament Swap:

I tried to capture it with my camera’s panoramic setting but it’s a bit blurry I know, here are a couple of better shots:

I love it! 🙂 Here is what I sent to Ann:

I used this pomander tutorial from Betz White (check out her cute Fabric Star Ornament Tutorial for this year!) I made two at once, one for me as well 😉 It took a lot longer than I thought it would and I ended up having to carve my polystyrene balls smaller which made a huge mess but it was quite fun to watch my little army of rosettes take over my sewing table.

Also my BurdaStyle book arrived, yay! It came with some other goodies too:

I got to see my blouse in print for the first time:

I took some pics of it on Scarlett before I sent it off (it feels like so long ago!) I’ll dig them out and share them with you tomorrow.