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

 

 

Time Machine Sewing, episode 4: Summer Robes

It’s baaaaack!

Because if I don’t blog it, then it never happened.

I made Nerdy Husband a summer robe for his birthday at the start of the year and because unselfish sewing must be balanced I also made myself one.

Then we wore them all summer long…and last summer, it was loooong…don’t worry, I washed them occasionally. But basically unless we were at work or sleeping, or they were in the wash, we were in our new summer robes. So I just never got around to photographing them.

When winter finally showed up we swapped back to our winter robes, fluffy warm rtw robes that are next on the sewing hit-list…it’s long list, don’t hold your breath…and so I gave our summer robes a final wash, pressed them, hung them in my sewing room to be finally photographed and blogged about and then promptly forgot.

Winter is on its way out again, Spring is here (well, it will fade in and out for a few more weeks yet) so I thought I’d better get these on the blog before we start to live in them again!

So, NH requested his robe and we went to Spotlight where he picked out some dinosaur cotton that was on special and I also grabbed McCall’s 6231 – the first envelope pattern I’ve purchased from Spotlight in a looooong time.

I cut out view B minus the shorts and because the robe is unlined I decided to flat fell the shoulder seams and then I used Hug Snug seam binding on all other seams and hems.

I also used Hug Snug to finish the inside edge of the collar.

And that’s about it – here are some finished photos, courtesy of Scarlett:

It has pockets, remember this for later…

The sleeve pattern piece looked really short and I couldn’t find any finished measurements either in the instructions or on the pattern tissue. From the line art the sleeve looks like it sits right at the edge of the shoulder so I was convinced there was an error in the pattern.

So to be safe I added some ridiculous amount of length (I can’t remember how much) and as you can see in the photo below the excessive shoulder width means that the sleeve ends up halfway down the upper arm. I checked my pattern and I’ve removed the yellow paper and stuck the pattern piece back together as per normal so I’m guessing I must have chopped all that extra length off during the first fitting!

Anyway, I’m pretty proud of it and Nerdy Husband loves his robe so here are some close ups:

The only pattern modification: a handy hanging loop at the back of the neck 🙂

My robe is the Named Asaka Kimono and I shopped my stash for fabric. I bought some Michael Miller “Children at Play” cotton in July last year and instantly regretted it. I mean, I love it, but it’s far too light for me to wear everyday, I’m such a grub!

However it is perfect for this and Harri agreed. She has such good taste.

I only had 3 yards and the pattern called for 3.9 but I love a good challenge…and yeah it didn’t fit! That’s ok, I managed to piece the collar front on the outside and for the inside collar I use a contrasting colour, left overs from my Tangram Bleuet which made me very happy.

I might have managed it if my fabric didn’t have such an obvious print direction and what annoys me is that the cutting layout shows the two piece sleeve cut upside down and yet in the website sample photo they clearly have been cut right way up with the pattern…

Anyway, I really shouldn’t complain, I managed to get my robe out of 25% less fabric than recommended 😉

I didn’t lengthen the pattern at all despite reading a few comments online about it being super short. It looks pretty short on the Named model but a quick tissue fit check and then with the fabric and I thought it looked ok.

I really liked the long sleeves with the split so I made them up as per the pattern to begin with and then I realised they were going to be a pain. I run around in my robe after I get home from work so I’d probably catch myself on fire while making dinner or something equally unbelievable but highly likely. As well as being a grub I am also a klutz! I tried sewing the split shut but the end of the sleeve is huge…so finally I lopped them off just below my elbow and sewed the split shut up to the crook of my elbow. Now I have the best of both worlds: shorter sleeves that I won’t set on fire and sexy arm split 😉

Scarlett’s turn!:

More flat felled shoulder seams and Hug Snug on the other seams and hems. I own many colours of Hug Snug 🙂

I also got hanging loop at the back of the neck and remember those pockets? I used the McCall’s pattern piece and added them to my robe too. They hold a surprising number of clothes pegs.

Pockets on everything.

What’s that Nikki? Oh you want to see me wearing it?

Oh alright then! 😉

Dirty cell phone pics but at least my toenails match…

THE DEETS:

Patterns –

Fabric –

Other notions – Hug Snug seam binding

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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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