Wednesday, December 31, 2008

No More: December

I never did do my post for December... nor the habit, to be honest.

But I *did* come up with the idea and I *will* implement it. So, I'm saying good bye to junk mail. That's right, a big sticker is going on my letterbox asap. I wanted to do an informative post on the impacts of junk mail, but well, that's what led me to never post... from memory there is a litre of water in every 7 pages of junk mail. On the day I found this out I had over 40 pages of junk mail delivered, so, what's that? Over 5 liters of water... multiply that out by everyone in your street... by each junk mail delivery... scary stuff... I'll leave it at that for now.

A Sewing Summary

For memory's sake, I thought I would copy and paste my 'to do' and 'done' lists for this year. Then I can start afresh tomorrow for 2009.

I didn't get everything I wanted to done, but geez, for someone who could barely sew a straight line and took 10 good minutes to thread the machine this time last year, I reckon I've done ok! A huge thankyou to the girls at EB for getting me going and providing lots of inspiration.

Christmas Presents To Make

* toddler dress x 2 not started :(
* toddler apron x 1 not started :(
* taggy not started :(
* toddler dress x 1 WIP
* oven mitt x 1 - WIP
* note book cover - DONE
* toddler dress x 1 DONE
* oven mitt x 2 DONE
* toddler apron x 2 DONE
* pot mitts x 4 - DONE

To Do in 2008 - NOT GOING TO HAPPEN :(

* christmas bib x 2
* little undies x 6
* curtains
* fruit bags
* skirt for me
* aprons
* pencil rolls
* overalls

Done in 2008

* toddler head-band
* baby shoes x 2
* oven mitt x 2
* Buggy Bib x 2
* little undies x 2
* woolen nappy cover

Christmas wrap-up

Well, here we are at the last day of December. Poor blog has been neglected again.

There was a mad rush to sew up presents before christmas.

I made two more oven-mitts

a note-book cover

and a dress.

The note-book cover I'd made earlier but stuffed it up - the book didn't fit. I had to make it a bit bigger than the pattern said, but I got it right the second time.

The dress was the first dress I've ever made. It was actually pretty easy! The most daunting part was unfolding the pattern (first real pattern I've used) and tracing all the bits. After that, it was pretty simple. I even did french seams (first time, thanks to RS for mentioning those earlier in the peace). They made it look much neater. Next time I won't use the interfacing, I really don't think it needed it. Hopefully I'll get a pic of the recipient wearing it sometime soon.

I still have a bunch of chrissy pressies to go I'm afraid. I found my sewing room today (it was a complete shambles with the rush up to christmas) so I hope to get a couple of projects done before the week is out - I have another dress cut up ready to sew, and another oven-mitt that needs a bit of repair work before it is done. Luckily I'm not seeing these people for a while yet. Then there are 2 dresses, a tag toy, and, um, I think that's it. Then I get to think about all the fun stuff I can do in 2009! Looking forward to it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Little Apron

A little apron for a little boy.

I actually had three of these to make for christmas, 1 down, 2 to go. I was thinking I'd only need one by actual Christmas, but we had a last-minute invite so I had to get one finished by yesterday arvo. It was close! We (it was DH's idea) tried to get all fancy with the neck strap, it's got elastic in it, it looks cool, but alas, it didn't fit over the little boy's head :( Luckily his grandma is a wiz with a sewing machine so I left it with them for her to fix. They all still seemed quite impressed with my efforts.

This was my first applique attempt - I hope it stays on!!

The train material came from good old Spotlight. My zigzag edge is *mostly* where I wanted it to be! It is hard to sew under pressure!!

And here it is all wrapped up. And in the middle of it was a train cookie cutter. Hopefully the recipient will get lots of fun from it.

The second one is under way, I 'just' need to sew on the straps and the pocket. Easy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Last-minute KK pressies

I had a week's notice that my extended family was doing a KK. I really didn't want to break my "all christmas pressies will be home-made" vow. So, despite my list of projects that need to be finished by christmas, I set about to make some KK presents.

I decided that pot mitts would be nice and easy. I have not done them before. They were pretty easy, once I worked out how to do the binding on the right angles. I found some instructions on the net, but I struggled to get what they meant. In the end I just trialled it on some scrap and it worked. The other problem I had was how to neatly finish off the binding. Again, I found some info on the net but couldn't quite work it out (is this nappy brain? the stress of christmas? or something else?). I worked out on the last mitt that I'd been cutting the binding on the wrong angle (which will make since if you've had to finish binding off before).

I made four, two for each person, in a fabric that I felt reflected the receiver. The first was ok, the fourth one, was pretty good. The only thing I would like to improve is the hanging loop - it wasn't possible (for me at least!) to have its ends concealed neatly like on the oven-mitt as I wanted it on the corner. Any ideas? Maybe when I make one with a little more time it'll be obvious.

They really were quite quick to make, even faster if I'd have had the binding already made. I started them Saturday night, and finished them Sunday morning (about an hour before leaving!!).

I'm sure it was less stressful making them than going to the shops to buy something would've been.

A Buggy Bib Update

Thanks for all the comments on the Buggy Bib.

A funny story - the recipient of this bib (well, the little girl's mother) thought it was a vest! So, got me thinking, I'm now inspired to alter it a little to make it a bit "vest-ier". It's a project that will have to wait till the new year though I'm afraid. Still a few too many chrissy presents to go...

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Buggy Bib

Buggy as in butterflies and bees, not errors...

A last-minute pressie for a 1st birthday. I used the tute found here: but left off the pocket (I was in a hurry!!). I did do a practice run yesterday which DS tried out at dinner last night. It worked! I'm pretty excited at how quickly this came together, I cut it out and pinned it last night, and made the bias binding. But I did all the sewing this morning. There's about 2 meters of binding involved.

I can see some problems with it - the binding is wrinkly around the neck (anyone wanna tell me how to fix that??) and when I was taking photos I noticed that I sewed the arm holes bits on unevenly...but it is just a bib so I'm not too stressed. Plus, it's the thought that counts - right?

I can see me making a few more of these as pressies. I did the back and the binding out of the same stuff (ummm... that'd be black drill(?) from SL) and the inner layer is an old towel. It is pretty thick, but I figure that is good, nice and absorbent. Handy for learning to drink from a cup and that sort of thing.

Monday, December 8, 2008

No More: Dishcloths

Purchased ones that is. We had decided to give up buying dishcloths a while ago, I thought I included it in November, but it appears I didn't. Well, maybe it was a bonus one? I know I haven't written my No More post for December, but it's coming, and it's not dishcloths...

But anyway...We decided to not buy more dishcloths and the last one was getting manky. So I had to finish this little project which I started long ago. It really didn't take me long, finished it off while a little somebody napped. Made it out of crochet cotton that I got from freecycle. Gotta love freecycle. To be honest, I wasn't sure how it would hold up, but it is doing well so far. Survived at least a dozen work outs so far. And it feels good, so much better than store-bought cloths.

So here it is. Dodgy photo, I know, but you get the point.

The second one is currently in production - I got a whole bag of the cotton from freecycle and it's all going to dishcloths. They are great way of trying out new patterns too, as it really doesn't matter if you stuff it up! After all, it's only going to be used to wash dishes!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Next Mitt

I have made another oven-mitt, this one for my SIL's birthday. I thought it would be a lot quicker than the first one, but alas, due to a couple of silly mistakes, it took me just as long (around 2.5hrs). Firstly, when I was doing the quilting, the fabric on the underside got caught up and I sewed it folded up on itself, and obviously had to unpick. Then when doing the binding, I forgot to add in the hanging loop, and had to unpick. I don't like unpicking!! Oh, and I made my own binding :) It was supposed to be in a red to match the flowers (that I painstakingly picked to make sure it matched exactly) but I didn't dry it in time...

Other than that, I am very happy with this. It is an improvement on the first one. The quilting lines are straighter and evenly spaced, given I took the time to mark them out. I am sad to say that I marked the beginning and end of each line at the edge of the fabric and then used a ruler as a guide while I sewed. A sewing buddy told me a needed I special pen that comes off when you iron. Sounds like a winner to me!

Oh, and I made a matching card :) A subtle way of letting the recipent know that I made the mitt. 

Sunday, November 9, 2008

November Sewing Challenge: Oven Mitt

This was my first attempt at sewing an oven mitt. I used a combination of these patterns/tutorials: &

As I'm only new to sewing, I like instructions that are crystal clear. So I often refer to multiple sources when trying a new project. It helps to see how different people explain things. I actually merged the two patterns - I used the top bit (thumb and finger section) of the skiptomylou pattern, and the bottom half of the allfreecrafts one as it was a bit fancier. Now that I've finished, I think it would have been easier to do a straight bottom as this was also my first attempt at bias binding.

These two pics show the bias binding. And my not-so-straight stitching... you can see from the pic on the right that I actually didn't catch the binding on the wrong side for one section. I believe I did the binding correctly, I just should have sewn it a little closer to the edge (as in, move the binding closer to the edge) to allow for the bulk of the mitt. I did have trouble going around the bottom edge, it is all puckered. Not sure what I should have done here? But overall, I have to say that I am quite impressed by my efforts.

Oh, the quilting... it looks pretty good, but I don't think it needed to be so close together. And next time I'll make sure the lines on the two sides are lined up.

No More: November

I'm a little late on posting this. But better late than never. My 'no more' item for this month is paper products. Not all of them! I am just making a start. So, I am no longer going to buy:


This is simple - use hankies instead. Remember those things? I am ashamed to say that I only own a couple, so I will be making some more out of some material I got from Freecycle recently. Until then we will use up the box of tissues that we have. I'm not sure about visitors... I'm thinking I will have a small container of hankies in the bathroom should anyone need a tissue while they are here. And yes, they can keep it, I won't be asking for it back!


I received a present in a material draw-string bag from a friend a while ago. I thought this was a great idea. I've been able to reuse the bag for many things. So, when I have some time, I will make a few bags to have on hand, either from material I've already got around the house, or possibly from the remnants bin at Spotlight. They shouldn't take long to whip up, and I love that the wrapping will be a part of the gift. Now, I do have a small stash of wrapping paper in my cupboard. I will give myself till the end of this month to use it if I wish (I find having a changeover period makes me more likely to stick to these "no more" things). If I haven't used it by then, it will be offered up on Freecycle.


We use paper towels for draining oily foods, mopping up the occasional spills, wiping mushies... I think that's about it. I was thinking about this and thought how lazy it really is. I mean, is it that much harder to grab a cloth wipe, use it, and throw it in the washing basket? I think not! So, I've already been doing this one for a few weeks, since our last roll of paper ran out. I have a plan to get some cute fabric to make up a bunch of cloth "paper towels". They will be so much more fun to use than dodgy paper :)

FWIW, we already use cloth wipes for our baby and cloth nappies, so no paper products there. And we switched to recycled toilet paper last year (though I did treat myself to some of the extra fluffy, soft stuff after I gave birth). I've thought about going to 'family cloth' but I'm not sure about that just yet. I figure there are other eco-friendly steps I can take before that one!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Little Undies

From this... this... this!

From dodgy old top to nifty pair of little undies!!

The transformation took just over one and a half hours. I was following a pattern from the net and it caused me all sorts of grief. Just little things like sewing up the soakers before attaching them to the main piece - the recommended tight zigzag left me with a pretty ruffly edge. Just a pity I wanted a nice flat edge. I spent so much time unpicking. In the end I ended up not sewing the soakers together, just sewing them straight to the main piece.

This was my first time doing cuffs/legbands and a waistband of this style (I'm sorry, I have no idea what the technical terms are!). You can tell this by the fact that I sewed them on inside out...sigh... I realised after the first leg, but figured it was just a trial pair so it didn't matter. If I'd known how long it would take me to sew the remaining leg and waistband on, I would've gone to the trouble of unpicking the first legband and fixing it. And why it did take so long to sew on the second legband and the waist? Coz I sewed the waist into the leg...and had to unpick...sigh...

I did a second pair (this time out of an old Supre dress!) that turned out much, much better!

And they only took me just over an hour to complete :)

And how do they work? Well, they are designed to contain a wee, I guess you could say. If he has pants on over the top, the moisture will wick through to the pants. But that's kinda the point. We want to know when he has weed when he wees, not when we go to change a nappy. I want to make a few more of these, I will put a water-proof layer in some for times when we just don't want wet pants - in the car etc... At the mo, the little guy is still in nappies when we go out, and some of the time at home, but I think I will tune into him a lot better if we ditch the nappies more often. Besides, these little undies look so much more comfy! And cute :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

No More

I have a desire to live a more simple life. To consume less and create less waste. To use products that have more than one use and that have a long life-span. I dream of self-sufficiency but am taking little steps. Earlier this year, I challenged myself to give up one thing a month. I may or may not ever achieve self-sufficiency, but every month does bring me a little bit closer.

In April, we gave up buying white bread. I cheat and use a bread-maker, but I am making all our bread now. We probably go through more bread now than we did when we purchased it, because home-made bread is SO yummy! I make a plain white loaf, a garlic & herb loaf, pizza dough, and I've done a couple of others like banana bread.

In May, facial wash was the thing to go. I've never been a high-maintenance type of person. I rarely wear make up so I decided I didn't need to buy and use a facial wash on a daily basis. Now I use good old-fashioned water. And a face-washer. My skin feels great. As well as avoiding the cost, there is the packaging, and all those unpronounceable ingredients which aren't exactly good for you.

June, shampoo and conditioner. Now, I guess at this point, some of you may be thinking that I must be getting pretty smelly! This couldn't be further from the truth. I do still wash and condition my hair, just, well, not with products marketed as such. I use bicarb to wash and apple cider vinegar to condition. I got this idea from an online forum where there was a challenge to do this for six weeks. I didn't know how we'd go (my partner did this with me). The result? We haven't looked back. Our hair is clean and shiny and looks great. And no, it doesn't smell like vinegar.

July was flavoured yoghourt. I only used to eat the vanilla stuff. My partner enjoyed fruity flavours. We decided if we wanted fancy yoghourt we had to make it ourselves. We haven't done that yet, but we have changed to buying Greek-style natural yoghourt in 5L buckets! One day I aim to make even that myself, but that day is not today...

August was a bit of a cop-out - no more herbs/spices in fancy packaging. This means a trip to the food co-op where you can by them in whatever quantity you want and take them home with you in your own container. The savings on herbs/spices when you don't have to pay for packaging is amazing.

In September we ran out of paper towel. The stuff you use in the kitchen. So I said, ok, no more buying that. It really isn't that hard to use a cloth. Or a rag. In fact, it's really quite easy. They are stronger than paper, you can use them for whatever grotty purpose you wish, and then just throw them in the washing machine. Simple.

This month we ran out of talcum powder. Well, my partner did. I hadn't used the stuff since I found out I was pregnant (my son is now 8 months old) as I wanted to minimize the number of unsafe things that I used. But anyway... this month it's no more talcum powder. We have refilled an old powder container with cornflour and are using that. It works great.

So there you go. A brief run-down on what we've said 'no more' to so far this year. Keep your eye out for a new installment of this each month.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Sewing Room & A Previous Project

Ok, so it's meant to be a study. But, well, there's no-one studying in this house :) So it's my sewing room, craft room actually. I have tried scrap-booking, card-making, knitting, crocheting and now it's sewing. I had to spend a bit of time tidying the place up before I took this photo as I have supplies for each craft.

My machine is an old Janome on loan from a very kind Aunty. I don't have a manual for it, I've had no training in sewing, so I'm kind of flying blind. But I'm getting there. And some very helpful on-line tutes have helped me out a lot.

I used this tute to make some shoes for my niece's first birthday. I was so impressed that I kept doing little dances of joy while I was making them. It is a great tute as it assumes you know nothing about sewing and tells you to do things, like ironing, that others don't. I had never ironed anything during the sewing process before. It made it so much easier.

It's not the best pic, but anyway... here it is: the shoes, and a matching headband.

A Potty Cover

Let the record of my sewing begin! I made DS a cover for his potty so his little bottom and legs don't get cold. May seem a strange project given it was nearly 30 degrees here today, but the nights are still cool so I figured he'd appreciate it. Besides, its all soft and cozy :)

I got the pattern from here: Do-it-yourself EC: Baby Bjorn Little Potty Warmer/Cover

It was pretty easy to put together and as you can tell from the pic, he thinks it's pretty great! I think I may need to make a couple more, perhaps a little bit more fancy next time round.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

my first post!

Hi and welcome to my blog. I have ummm'ed and errr'ed over whether to have a different blog for different things but have decided to have a single blog to cover everything. 'Everything' will, in time, cover the journey to my dream straw-bale home, my attempts to reach self-sufficiency, my ideas and thoughts as a parent, and more. But, for today, it will begin as a record of my sewing.

Indeed, it is late, my first 'real' post may have to wait until tomorrow.