Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sewing Tutorial: Reversible Chalk Cloth Bunting

We recently had a friends wedding that we weren't able to attend. I still really wanted to send a gift and so we bought them a cute chalkboard that we could personalise with a message, and then they could erase it and use it in their house. Practical, original and fun.

And then I bought this chalk cloth fabric. I've made some portable chalkboard mats for the kids and then I thought that this was a fun idea. Bunting looks so effective and lining it with chalk cloth means that we can reuse it for lots of different occasions.

I started by cutting out triangles of chalk cloth and fabric of the same size, a little larger than how I wanted them to be in the finished product. I also decided to make my own bias binding to string them together, so I had to cut out several long strips of fabric along the bias and feed it through my bias binding maker.

Place cotton and chalk cloth together with wrong sides together. Sew around the perimeter, about 5mm in from the edges. Use pinking shears to cut along the side edges and trim the top edge with normal scissors.

Pin and string together using the bias binding, closing the ends.

Sewing Tutorial: Jungle animal dress up tails and ears for kids

A while ago, I bought some of this soft furry fabric on sale, with the plan to make some dress up items for my kids. A lion, zebra, elephant and tiger would be just right for these prints.

I bought some simple headbands for the ears and cut out the following for each animal:

- one long strip for a tail
- four ear shapes to make two ears
- and for the elephant, an extra strip for a trunk

To make the tails
With right sides together, sew along one end and then along the length. Turn the tail out the right way and fill with polyfill. I attached clips used for name tags to each tail, to make it easy for the kids to attach their own tails and avoid pins and elastic or velcro waists. Sew along the opened edge to enclose the filling.

To make the ears
With right sides together, sew along the sides and tops, leaving the bottoms open. Put in place on the headband and handsew along the bottom to attach to the headband. For the elephant ears I used the glue gun to ensure that the ears wouldn't move.

For the lion I added a felt mane, but first sewing close to the edges by machine (leaving spaces to feed through the headband), then sewing on the ears.

Kids Sewing Kit - Make your own doll - Sewing Tutorial

Two years ago I put together a sewing kit for my daughter who was then 2.5 years old. You can read the blog post here: It has been a really popular blog post and attracts a lot of traffic on Pinterest. 

Over those two years it has evolved and she has now outgrown most of the original items that I put in the kit. She has started showing interest in actually sewing something and having a finished product at the end, so I had the idea of making an easy doll kit that is aimed at her age. 

This is what I came up with, and I have to say I am pretty happy with the finished product. Miss 4.5 is very keen to get started on making her own doll and I can't wait to see how it turns out!

I started out by cutting out all of the pieces. I wanted to keep it as simple as possible, and ended up with this design. I machine sewed the pieces together, leaving just two basic pieces for her to sew together - a front and a back.

I invested in a leather hole punch and punched around the edges of the doll pieces. Be sure to pin the front and back pieces together for this step so that the holes line up. I placed a piece of card under the felt while punching to make it a bit stiffer too. I made some small bows for her hair, cut out some felt pieces for the face, chose some sequin beads and added a blunt wool needle and some embroidery thread.

Stay tuned for the finished doll!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sewing Project - Advent Calendar

Last Christmas I attempted an ambitious family project. My children had just turned 2 and 4 and I wanted to start some Christmas traditions with them.

We live on a day to day diet relatively free of refined sugars, so I knew from the start that I wanted a chocolate and sweet free advent calendar. I spent a lot of time on Pinterest and saw some ideas for daily activities for the month of December so I decided to incorporate those into our calendar. 

While on Pinterest I came across a design similar to this. I wanted to make the tree as big as possible, so I varied the original idea by putting the numbered squares around the outside perimeter rather than in rows along the bottom under the tree. 

I kept it simple by making everything out of felt. Felt does not fray and does not need hemming. For the numbers I used heat and bond lite - it is an iron on applique paper that you can draw on to (remember to make it a mirror image), iron on to the wrong side of the fabric, peel off and then iron onto the backing fabric. It is great for doing difficult shapes.

The first step was to cut out all the shapes and place them in position on the background piece. I then sewed them down. For the Christmas tree, I started sewing from the back most layer, finishing up on the front most layer. For the pockets, I sewed the numbers down first and then sewed each pocket on, sewing around the sides and bottom.

I then sewed on buttons, scattered over the tree, to hang decorations onto. And then began the long task of making each decoration. They were also made from felt, although some were trimmed with ric rac, buttons, embroidery thread or other notions. Each decoration had a backing piece to make them stronger, and ribbon with ends placed in between before sewing up to use for hanging on the tree.

Decorations were placed into the pockets and I made up a card for each activity by printing them all up and sticking each one on a card backing.

These are the activities we did over the 24 days:

  • Learn a Christmas song.
  • Make gingerbread.
  • Make a Christmas craft.
  • See Christmas lights.
  • Decorate the house for Christmas.
  • Make Christmas cards and send them.
  • Go to carols by candlelight.
  • Read a Christmas story.
  • Wrap Christmas presents.
  • Make salt dough Christmas ornaments for the Christmas tree.
  • Watch a Christmas movie.
  • Write a letter to Santa.
  • Colour in Christmas pictures.
  • Write your own Christmas story.
  • Donate toys to charity.
  • Visit Santa Claus.
  • Take a family Christmas photo.
  • Call a family member.
  • Look at old Christmas pictures together.
  • Borrow Christmas books from the library.
  • Make green and red play dough.
  • Play a Christmas game.
  • Give a surprise gift to someone.
  • Do Christmas shopping.

Before we started, I planned out the activities with some strategy. We had visitors from Germany for most of December, so I knew we would be busy. I also knew that on my work days we would be short of time. For busy days, I kept the simple activities. Of course we went away a few times too, so we had to play catch up when we got home. I also thought ahead for activities like carols by candlelight and found out when our local ones would be held.

It ended up being the most fun I had ever had at Christmas. It made us do just a little bit everyday to keep the Christmas spirit going and the usual big pressure that December 25th holds wasn't there for us as we had been celebrating the whole month. It was lovely, and so very sad on the 26th when it was all over.

Our activities list will evolve as the kids get bigger to include more community type activities and we will get input from them on the kinds of activities they would like to do.