Trouser obsession?

I think I may be a little bit obsessed with making trousers! I remembered some rather funky denim type fabric I had in my stash and I knew just how to turn it into the most awesome pair of pants for the little man. So as soon as he was down for his afternoon nap I was straight to work.

Rocket trousers

Rocket trousers

As the fabric I was going to use has little stars embroidered over it I decided to create a little appliqué rocket to go on one leg out of felt. I carefully sewed that on first and then set to putting the trousers together. I added contrasting yellow stitching down the leg seams to create a little more detail as well. I have to hand stitch the leg hems and they are a little wonky but I guess that just adds to the hand made appeal (doesn’t it?!).

I’m out of elastic now and should probably be concentrating on getting this little family ready for a very big journey that is happening next week so no more trousers for a while. Maybe I should try a shirt next, although I am a little apprehensive about whether my sewing skills are up to that!

More mini trousers

Hippo print trousers

Hippo print trousers

The trousers are done (as is the skirt but more on that later) and looking rather awesome. I bought a kwik-sew pattern this time and using baking paper traced out the 6-12 month size. It was really nice and simple to put them together and it has only taken me a couple of hours to go from pattern to completed trousers. I love the fabric and think it makes a rather natty pair of trousers for the little one, he might even have to wear them tomorrow just so I can see what they look like on.

I still have about a meter of the the fabric left so now I have to decide what else to do with it…any ideas people?!

Ode to my sewing machine

I love my sewing machine. It is a calming influence on my life and delivers hours of relaxation. Through it I can fully unleash my need to create in a purposeful and useful way. Skirts, trousers, bibs and toys have all been born with its help providing clothing for my family and fun for my little man. I don’t say I’m particularly good at using it and there is still so much I have to learn about it (I only discovered yesterday for example I can type a whole word into it, press the peddle and “Bob’s your uncle”, you have a perfectly embroidered word!) but that’s part of the fun, discovering all the secrets it has hiding away and then finding new and exciting ways to use them.

As I have said before there is something so incredibly satisfying about making something yourself. I will admit to feeling a little smug when someone asks me where a skirt I made is from and they give me an impressed look when I tell them I made it. I don’t think it is hard to make things yourself it’s just that it is so cheap not too and people, rightly or wrongly, feel they don’t have the time so they don’t bother. I love the fact that the things I make are one of a kind, no one else can have one like it as I only made one. It’s great to see some fabric I like and with the help of my machine turn it into something I can wear or use.

The fabric from my last post is already a skirt (although frustratingly without its lace trim thanks to a measuring error at the shop) and hopefully will soon be a pair of trousers too. A pile of fabric scraps became a cuddly toy yesterday and I know my machine and I have many more sewing adventures to come. So yes, my sewing machine really is the bee’s knees, hence I dedicate this blog post to it!

Exhausting weekends and fancy fabric

My weekend was exhausting and not in a good way. The little one has his first cold (at least that’s what we think it is as he does sound awfully snuffly) and with that came a temperature. This led to a very grumpy baby. Thankfully Hubby was around to help (although he was feeling jet lagged after finishing a run of seven night shifts). We did manage a nice walk on the Saturday and Sunday I was given a pass to go shopping and get a haircut, but other than that is was trying to keep the little one happy. It felt a little like whatever we did just didn’t cut the mustard although I am sure that has a lot to do with a squiffy perspective and a feeling of over tiredness.

My beautiful new fabric

My beautiful new fabric

It would seem that whatever is bothering him is still bothering him as his temperature is still raised and he’s still grumpy. I was given permission to head to he fabric shop today though and was very happy to see that the fabric I have been coveting was on offer meaning I HAD to buy it! Four meters of fabric, two patterns and a few bits and bobs later (including a bit of a dent in the bank balance!) I now have the means to make myself a nice skirt and a pair of funky trousers for the little man. All I need now is the energy to get on and do it!

Christmas crafting

Obviously Christmas is going to be that little bit more special for us this year, our first Christmas with the little one. With this in mind I decided that he needed his own special stocking. Now actually designing one was a little beyond my brain at the moment so I decided to go down the kit route and so purchased a Dimensions Felt Works kit called “Toboggan Trio”.

The kit

The kit

The kit has everything you need in it except some softie guts and a piece of tissue paper (I was glad of the excuse to go out and buy a massive bag of softie guts). It is a lot like sewing by numbers, each piece has a number and you have step by step instructions about how to sew them together provided. You need to have a pretty steady hand to cut the pieces out, especially as some of them are pretty small. The in depth instructions mean that even a beginner could easily manage this project.

I am about a third of the way through at the moment and I am pleased with how it is looking so far. It is time consuming but a lovely way to unwind at the end of the day when the little one is in bed. I love to create my own designs but sometimes it is nice to turn the brain off a little and let someone else do that hard work and know that you are going to get a lovely item at the end of it. I will keep you updated on progress.

Creating trousers from trousers

As I’ve said before I love to take old, tired things and repurpose them. Not only is it environmental, its economical for a family living off just one income.

My husbands work trousers were looking a bit tatty, seams starting to give up the ghost, ripped pockets from carrying too much, that kind of thing. Rather than just chuck them I decided to see if I could turn them into a pair of trousers for the little one.

The finished product

The finished product

Obviously this didn’t require all of the trousers! I decided to use the legs as they appeared to be in pretty good shape. I found a pattern on the Internet and lining the seams up to create the fold I needed chopped a leg out of each leg (that sounds kind of odd doesn’t it!). I then got some contrasting fabric from my stash and created little cuffs for the bottom of each leg. After sewing them all together (the crotch was the trickiest bit) I created a waist band with the contrasting fabric before inserting some elastic into the channel that this created. The whole process only took about two hours at the most (and I’m sure it would have been quicker if I didn’t keep getting distracted by the penguin programme on tv!).

I’m really pleased with how they’ve turned out and am chuffed I found a use for a pair of trousers that otherwise would have just gone in the bin. I have another pair of hubby’s old trousers to use yet as well so I think I will have another go.

Making new friends

I had so much fun making the little monster (now named Blob) yesterday that today I decided to make him a friend (as yet unnamed). He’s made in the same way but obviously he is a little different. I decided on ears instead of antenna this time and thought a different body shape would be in order. He has a lovely big heart to show how much love he has to share too! This will have to be my last cuddly for a while though as I am back in work for two weeks tomorrow (boo!) and I have run out of softie guts (double boo!).

I should probably stop procrastinating anyway and concentrate on the jobs that actually need to be done, like packing my hospital bag. I just have to work out what I should be putting in there…any suggestions will be gratefully received.

Crafting away a hot sunny afternoon

Being 8 months pregnant means that hot sunny afternoons are not as pleasant as they might be … finding a bit of a breeze and trying to get comfy are my big priorities at the moment. So with the windows and doors wide open I decided a bit of crafting in the afternoon was required. If I’m going to hide away inside I just as well do something productive!

planning the monster

planning the monster

The husband wanted me to make a robot for our little one but I wanted to try something different so decided a cuddly monster was in order this time. A few minutes on the internet to research and a plan started to form, a few more minutes with a sketch book and the plan was finalised. Next I dove into the fabric box again and selected what I was going to use, part of an old red towel, some of one of hubby’s old t-shirts (again!) and a few scraps of patterned fabric.

I created a pattern using pieces of newspaper and cut out all the pieces needed. Next I appliqued the face and tummy parts onto the towel piece as I had decided I wanted my monster to have a textured front. I added a bit of stuffing behind the face and tummy pieces to give them a little extra “puff” when the monster was finished. The arms, legs and antenna then needed to be sewn and stuffed. It is helpful to use a chop stick (or something similar) to turn these pieces the right way out as their narrow ends can make this tricky.

The pieces ready to sew together

The pieces ready to sew together

Next, just like with the robot, I pinned all the pieces together making sure that the arms, legs and antenna were pointing to the inside so that when I turned him the right way they popped out. The extra stuffing and all the appendages meant he was quite bulky and so I had to be extra careful when sewing around the edge to make sure everything was caught in and in the right place. Again don’t forget that you need to leave a hole to turn your cuddly friend the right way round, I normally leave this between the legs.

The final step is to stuff your new friend, being careful to work the stuffing into all the nooks and crannies. I always take my time to ensure that I am going to be happy with the finished shape. I then carefully pinned the hole shut and used a ladder stitch to close the hole (I sew this twice to make double sure that it’s not going to pop open again).

The completed monster

The completed monster

I’m really happy with how he has turned out and absolutely love his little face with its wonky smile and odd sized eyes. I love the way these handmade cuddlies have there own personality and that even if I tried to make another one it would look different with a slightly different character. It was a great excuse to repurpose a few old bits and pieces again as well, this time a towel and two of hubby’s t-shirts (don’t worry dear these were both in the approved pile!). I love recycling old bits and pieces, giving them a new life. By making it myself I can make sure there are no little bits and pieces to be pulled off as well making a little more baby friendly and of course it costs a fraction of going out and buying a new cuddly (plus I think he is better than a boring one-a-dozen shop bought one). Above all else though it is a great excuse to let your imagination run wild on a hot, sunny afternoon!

Making new from old

My husband loves t-shirts. He has lots of them and so every few months I have to force him to cull them otherwise we will quickly find that all the clothes drawers are full of them! In an effort to lessen the pain of one said t-shirt cull I promised to make something cool with them. Originally this was going to be some cushion covers for his study but with the little one on the way and the nesting instinct kicking in badly I decided I wanted to make something baby related…the t-shirt bib was the answer.

Monster and slodge t-shirt bibs.

Monster and splodge t-shirt bibsbib was the answer.

A couple of years ago hubby bought me the book “One Metre Wonders” by Rebecca Yaker. It is full of fun little projects that can be made with a metre of fabric (or less) and in it is the pattern to make a baby bib. I located the pattern,
cut it out and then grabbed two of hubby’s t-shirts (pre-approved ones!) and an old but still fluffy towel.

First I pinned the pattern out on the t-shirt, making sure to line the design on the t-shirt up with the design on the t-shirt so it became the focus of the bib. Then I carefully cut the bib out before cutting another bib shape out of the old towel. Sewing the bib up is pretty easy, with correct sides together I used my machine to stitch the two pieces together but remembering to leave a small hole large enough to allow you to turn the bib correct way out. When it was turned out I carefully pressed it (watch the print on the t-shirt as this might ruin if you use a hot iron directly on it) and then stitched a running stitch all around the edge, being especially carefully to catch the ends of the turning hole so that it becomes closed. The final step was to add a snap or some velcro to allow the bib to be attached around bub.

Applique bibs

Applique bibs

My husband does have cool t-shirts so I love the designs that have ended up on the front of two of the bibs, especially the monster! I decided to make some more as well as so employed a bit of applique to decorate two more made with other parts of the t-shirt (I’m sure you can never have too many bibs!). An awesome charity called CanTeen has an annual bandana day each year selling a number of cotton bandanas with cool designs on them. I hacked into a couple of old ones of these and so now we have a rather cool boom box bib and one with hand prints on too.

Fingers crossed they are going to look pretty cool on the little one when he is here and at least hubby is happy that his old t-shirt has become something funky for his son. Now to work out what else to do with the left over t-shirt fabric!

Cuddly Robots

One of my favourite things to make are soft toys (or cuddlies as I like to call them). I make them from crochet, socks and fabric. In fact we have quite a few crazy creations in the house already that have sat on shelves waiting for someone to give them a purpose other than decoration (after all toys are made to be played with, aren’t they?).

After a trip to New Plymouth to visit some friends and their little boy I decided a cuddly thank you was needed as they have very kindly lent us a lot of clothes and baby bits and pieces. Two fabric friends I had bought a while ago were my inspiration and I set about making a robot. Again the fabric box was raided for scraps that would stand up to the task of being played with, I choose a piece of stripy upholstery fabric and a piece of denim type fabric with stars on it. These would form the basis of the robot with a few other scraps to be used for arms, legs, antenna, and decorations. A quick sketch to visualise what I wanted to achieve and then off with the sewing.

A robot ready for a cuddle.

A robot ready for a cuddle.

The first thing I did was cut out and then sew the decoration onto the face of the robot. I used the denim fabric for this part and a selection of rectangles, circles and cog designs came together to create a face and some buttons. On the back of the robot I used the lettering feature o my sewing machine to write “this robot belongs to …” just to add a personalised touch. When the decoration was complete I sewed the arms, legs and antenne together (right side together) before turning them right way and stuffing them with fluff (known as softie guts in our house!).

The last step was to pin the front and back of the robot together with the arms and legs in place (make sure they are pointing towards the inside of the robot so that when you turn him right side out they pop into view!) and then sew all the way round leaving a gap to allow you to turn him out. I stuffed the robot to be quite firm and then, using a ladder stitch, closed up the gap.

Obviously because he is intended for a little boy (not quite 1 year old) I didn’t use toy eyes etc but if you were making this for an older child you could use these things too. Fingers crossed the little man will like his new friend and maybe I will have to sit down and make one for our little one too!

(the inspiration for this little guy came from two cuddly robots I bought from a lady called Paisley Jade. She is an awesome cuddly creator and blog writer based in Whangarei, New Zealand. You can check out her blog here.)