Monday, June 27, 2016

Monday Minute

It was a cutting out sort of weekend round here ~

I cut into my new Hungry Caterpillar fabric to make a new version of the case for the Hungry Caterpillar felt set in my etsy store.

I cut out some colourful page backgrounds and chalkboard vinyl numbers to put together a new counting quiet book.

Watching my three year old son's obsession with cars keep growing, I finally cut out some car play mats. First, this racing mat.

And then this little town mat. Stay tuned for some of the detail I plan to add to this one!

And finally.... a whole pile of fabric pages to start putting together a new batch of quiet books! Yay!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Fabric Favourites

Sometimes it seems kids get to have all the fun. My son has shorts covered in little monsters, and another pair in sharks. He has pants with dinosaurs on the trim and a reversible hat with bugs on one side and vehicles on the other. 

My daughter has a skirt covered in rainbow spots and multiple items made out of different owl designs.

I shouldn't complain too much though as it can be a lot of fun shopping for kids fabric and as you can see, I'm building up quite the stash <3 <3 <3

Which one do you like the best?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Pyramid zipper coin purse

Earlier in the year, I went to a craft fair here in Brisbane, where I bought  a little kit to make this tetrahedron zipper pouch. When I saw it, my geeky side (I used to be a high school maths teacher) loved the idea - only a long zipper and a strip of fabric to make a little purse. The fabric strip is sewn along the zipper and as you close the zipper, a purse is formed!

And then of course, my 3-year old and 5-year old spotted it, and being zipper-obsessed as most kids are, begged me to make them both one.

The fabric strip was great, but it was fiddly to deal with the lining, so I perused the internet and came up with the perfect solution for a kids version - ribbon! Follow the link to Craft Passion where you'll find some great pictures and very useful instructions.

So I bought some ribbons... how cute are they?!?!

And some very long zippers, and got to work with the colours chosen by my children.

My kids are not really into coins, but the purses are the perfect size for storing tiny little treasures, like that one favourite car, dinosaur, or hairclip, or for just zipping and unzipping for fun.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sewing Tutorial Quiet Book Pages - Rainbow, Butterfly, Hot Air Balloon

A few months ago a custom order came through my Etsy store. One of my most popular existing items is the Quiet Book that I sell through the store and one of the great things about it is that it is so easy to add extra pages to it as I join the pages together with ring binders.

The request was to add in one extra page (two-sided, so two extra designs) more suited to a smaller child. See the finished product below!

To make the rainbow, I cut the red (largest) semicircle first and then cut each next colour a little smaller. I then sewed the red semicircle onto the page and followed with each smaller one until I was done.

I overlapped two little light grey clouds over the bottom edge and cut out two identical pieces in a small butterfly shape. I sewed these together, inserting antennae and leaving a small opening on each side so that I could feed through the thin ribbon. When constructing the page and joining it to the previous one, I fastened in the ribbon between the pages. 

The cute little butterfly can be pulled along the ribbon to fly around in front of the clouds.

For the hot air balloon, I first sewed the blue felt rectangle onto the background page as the sky. Then I added two little white clouds and sewed on the main hot air balloon shape (here in the white with coloured spots). I attached four short lengths of ribbon to the base of the balloon cover (here in orange), and then sewed this felt piece at the top of the balloon. I attached the ends of each ribbon at the bottom and then hid the ends by sewing the balloon basket over them.

The doll is used in another page (the tent and sleeping bag page) in the book, so rather than add another, and in order to make it easier to handle for a small child, I attached a ribbon to the doll so that it could be used for both pages, and also couldn't be easily lost - double win!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Sashiko inspiration!

In March this year I went to the Stitches and Craft Show here in Brisbane . It was a rare treat of a day all to myself and I was prepared this time by booking into a few workshops in advance by email.

Having lived in Japan in my 20s for 3.5 years, I have a fascination for all Japanese styles of handicraft and tried a lot while living there and on later visits back. Sashiko is something I've wanted to get into for a long time and have done a few smaller pieces in the past to make into greeting cards or coasters.

At the show, I went to a demonstration of Hitomezashi by Jane from Be Be Bold, which is a 'one stitch' style of sashiko. It is based on geometric patterns which run horizontally, vertically, and diagonally and you concentrate on one direction at a time, sewing through from one end to the other. I bought these little coasters above as a kit and sewed them up at home later. I love the simplicity of this method and how effective it looks. When I get the time (ha!) I would love to sit down and design some of my own patterns and try a larger piece. I also really like the white background with brightly coloured thread - it makes such a fresh change from the traditional white and indigo.

I also tried my hand at Boro patchwork for the first time, at a workshop run by Sue from Indigo Niche and ended up with this great little pin cushion at the end of the hour. I love the imperfection of it and the idea of using the old to make the new with the recycling of old fabric offcuts. It now has a practical use and a position in my sewing room. It's lovely to see my own handmade pieces being put to use in there - you can see it below in my sewing room, along with some of the Japanese pottery pieces I made when living in Japan, that I now use for storage.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Riches and Roses Etsy Update

For a mother of two kids aged 3 and 5, who works three days a week and has volunteer commitments, my Etsy store has been keeping me busy since around last Christmas with an average of about 4 orders per month since December.

Since then, I've updated my packaging and labelling, to use this cute little label on all my items:

I've also added in some new items including these baby doll accessories:

And some of my long standing products have suddenly become very popular, especially this cute little hungry caterpillar set.

The 5 most active products in my Etsy store so far this year have been:

<3 <3 <3

Friday, June 10, 2016

Pinterest - Most Recent Pins - Sewing for Girls

Pinterest is my all time favourite social media tool. It's perfect for sewing, and even more perfect for the procrastinating sewist like myself. During the busy times when I don't have the time to sew, I can usually at least put aside 5 or 10 minutes to add to my pin boards.

My most viewed pin board is Sewing for Girls, due to a little tutorial I pinned on there from this blog about three years ago for a Toddler Pinafore Dress. It now has almost 26000 repins and 2000 loves on Pinterest and brings a lot of traffic to this blog too.

Here are my most recent five pins on the Sewing for Girls board:

I've actually already started making two of these, one each for my daughter and son. They love to choose their own fabrics and watch the process unfold as the fabric is transformed into something they can use/wear. These little wallets will be perfect for trips to the library with their new library cards and little shopping trips.

Geranium Dress (by Made By Rae)

Rainbow Dress Tutorial (by Made by Rae)

Easy DIY Swim Cover Up (by It's Always Autumn)

Happy Sewing!

The Massive Sewing Room Declutter (Konmari Inspired)

decluttering-book-2-d112046.jpgLast year I read The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, written by Marie Kondo.

I'm not about to claim that the book changed my life, but it did give me a way to start tackling the clutter that was bothering me in our compact little house. There were a lot of things in the book that went a little overboard, but mostly it worked for me. And I'm pretty sure that it's reduced the amount of daily tidying that I do around the house.

She suggests cleaning out by category, and this was useful. I pulled all of my clothing out of the cupboards and went through each item one by one, bagging up those clothes that no longer spark joy to send to a charity store. I did the same in my kids' rooms and then tackled their toys. I adopted her suggestions for organising clothing in the cupboards and this has made a huge difference! The hanging clothes do look lovely sloping upwards, but more than that, storing folded clothing upright in the drawer makes it so easy to find things.

I went through the bathroom drawers and then the kitchen cupboards. More bags and boxes were taken to the charity shops. The kitchen bench became uncluttered, as did the kitchen table. Old cables got thrown away and papers were shredded. Whole shelves in the study nook just off our living room were cleared out and the kids suddenly had a storage place for all their puzzles and board games.

And still the sewing room loomed. I actually wish I'd taken a before picture of the sewing room, because the transformation was huge. I culled fabrics that I would never use, then sorted the remaining ones so they were stored upright. Then I organised all the categories of craft supplies into their own little place - buttons, ribbons, crochet hooks, knitting needles, threads, safety pins, beads, etc. One of Konmari's suggestions is to reuse containers for storage rather than buying storage. In the process of cleaning out I found some of my pottery that I'd made in my time living in Japan, some cute tins that had come with soaps as presents, and some other boxes that had come via online shopping orders. Perfect for storing sewing supplies, and I especially love seeing the pottery pieces out of the cupboard being used now.

This room had been one of my big problem areas and required at least a weekly tidy up. The clutter in there had often stopped me from sewing. Now I have space to set up my iPad with a good TV show, set down a cup of tea and spread out my projects, so the decluttering process has definitely improved my sewing and crafting time.

With two young children in the house, as well as work and other commitments, carrying out the whole process throughout my house has taken several months and I'm still not finished. But I'm currently savouring the last phase of decluttering - the photos. The whole process has been very reflective and brings with it lots of memories (both good and difficult), but sorting through the last 15 years of photos, which include six years of working and travelling my way around the world and five years of motherhood is bringing me lots of joy.