Wednesday, November 16, 2011

just like a bought one

So, I finally gathered together all the bits I've been collecting for a little while. Sweet vintage fabrics. Bamboo PUL fabric. Swimwear elastic. Bamboo french terry. Plastic snaps and my new beast of a snap press. My trusty sewing machine.

And I made this.
My first home-made fitted cloth nappy.
I am well chuffed. I wanted to create the most gentle nappy I could, both for my girl, and the planet. So I upcycled some vintage sheet fabrics (thanks, Vintage Sheet Swap folk!), and used bamboo PUL rather than cotton or polyester. I did use polyester microfleece to line the nappy, for a comfy bum. Bamboo french terry forms the snap-in, absorbent layer.  I followed the Fattycakes nappy pattern, which I splurged a whole six bucks on (worth it, too). I have altered the pattern to suit my needs, and my girl's skinny legs. I got overexcited by the opportunity to sew today and forgot to take pics, but will do a photo tutorial if any one's keen?

Looking at creative outer space over here...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

meaningful gift: freezer paper printed tee

A little boy we know turned three recently, so I had a go at the bloggy classic/cliche t-shirt printing using freezer paper stencil technique. And it's really easy. Check me out.
Gather the things you will need.
  • freezer paper (I bought mine from an online craft store a couple of years ago)
  • t-shirt
  • paint (I just used acrylic)
  • a stencil brush, or a brush with hard, flat bristles
  • a cutting implement- some tutes say exacto knife, I don't know what that is. I bought a nifty Friskars scalpel thing, with a swivel blade and a handle you stick your finger in.
1. Create your image. I used photo shop, opening an A4 page, and drawing a custom shape on it. Print the image out. You can print directly onto the paper side of the freezer paper if you want to, but I ran out of ink after I did a test print. You could also just draw your image (derr).

2. Cut out the part of the image that you want to end up seeing on your shirt.

3. Iron your stencil onto the shirt. No steam, relatively hot- I used the cotton setting. Plasticy side down, and remember to remove any bits of sticky tape you used when cutting. Don't forget the little pieces!

4. Paint away! But before you start, make sure you have a piece of paper or fabric inside the shirt to stop any paint going through to the other side. Dab a bit of paint onto the end of your brush, then dab off the excess. Use a light, up-and-down motion to apply the paint through the stencil. Go as heavy or light as you like. Lots of paint creates a nice, clean solid block, a little paint for a more grungy look. I mixed up a grey using my black and white acyclic, but left the mix a bit marbled for a patchier finish.
5. Peel away your stencil. See how nice and clean the edge is? No bleed, because the stencil was stuck down!

6. Let the paint dry, then give it an iron on the reverse side to set the paint. Sweet!
All in all, I was very happy with how this turned out. It is fiddly to have to cut a new stencil every time you want to print something, but I guess that makes it a pretty special gift, no? Will definitely be doing more of these. Oh, and I saw the little guy wearing it the day after we gave it to him, that's ace.

Checking out more creativity over here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

a star (and a mum) is born

As I sat in the humid school hall, arms folded across my chest, I huffed annoyance. Crappy seat right at the back. It's too hot. The baby will be getting hungry. Sitting next to people I don't know. Looking around at the rapidly-filling seats, I came to the conclusion that there are two kinds of mums at these school performance things. The kind who sit and roll their eyes. And the kind who stand up and wave at their precious poppet, insisting that the child notice them in the audience. I firmly put myself in the first category.

And then it happened.

My boy, my first baby, took to the stage and performed his number with the grace of Gene Kelly and engaged the audience with his comedic expression and commitment to the dance moves. Sure, there were thirty other kids on the stage, but surely none of the audience could see them, what with the star of my child shining so brightly.

And I stood up, and waved to my precious poppet. See me! I willed.  See me watching you and thinking you are the most wonderful thing in the world!

And it got worse. I clapped, loudly. I took a photo or two. And I whooped. I was alone, in an audience of folks I don't know, and I whooped. And I may have even shed a tear.

Looks like I've switched camps.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

having a go: baby-led feeding

A quick google search yesterday uncovered a lovely article in the Sydney Morning Herald about baby-led feeding, or baby-led weaning. It talked to a lovely mum with cool art on her wall who had introduced solids to her little boy via soft, hand-held pieces, rather than the traditional rice cereal-purees-mash route.

I had a conversation with my awesome early childhood nurse about a month ago, about baby-led feeding. I had seen little mentions of it around the interwebs, and I was surprised to hear her response in support of it. I had fully expected Well, dear, that's fine, but your baby will probably choke. Instead I got a wealth of information about suitable foods to use, why this method is beneficial, and how to tell if bub is ready to eat food.

So, we are having a crack at it. This is why:
1. She's ready. She can sit up in the highchair. She can pick things up in her hands and bring them to her mouth. Her tongue thrust reflex is gone. She is interested in what is happening at mealtimes.
2. I am, essentially, lazy. I remember a strong feeling of satisfaction at cooking up lovely purees of fruit and vegetables for my sons. But busyness is taking over this time 'round. The thought of sitting and spoon feeding during the morning rush sends my brain into meltdown.
3. Despite my amazing ability to over complicate anything, logic wins. It just seems to make more sense to start the way you intend to finish. I can't see a good reason to teach a baby to accept food from a spoon when she can learn to put food in her own mouth. Surely this will aid in her co-ordination and her eventual ability to spoon feed herself? Also, I never really 'got' the rice cereal thing. It smells and tastes awful, and made my babies constipated.

4. Eating is a lovely social behaviour. I want our family to enjoy sitting around the table and sharing a meal, and the little one should be included in that! I only have to see how the toddler follows his big brother's lead if he is offered some food he isn't sure about, to know that so much that we learn about food comes from those around us.

So, there you go. We have been having a go for about three weeks now, no pressure, just little bits. Here are some links to more information about baby-led feeding:
Baby Knows Best SMH article
Baby Led Weaning- The Mush Stops Here fab website with blog, forum and recipes. First stop, really!
Baby-Led Weaning an Aussie mum's blog about her little girl learning to eat
Starting Solid Foods by Gill Rapley, on the Australian Breastfeeding Association website

Remember to talk to your Early Childhood nurse, this is just an account of my experience, not expert advice! How are you going/ did you go about supporting your children learning to eat?

Friday, November 4, 2011

this is happiness

About an hour ago, I was overwhelmed by the urge to hold her as she slept. So I did. And stoked her fluffy chick hair. And counted her fingers. And kissed her dimpled hands. I just realised it's six months ago, tonight, that I first encountered that dark hair, those perfect fingers, those tiny hands.

And I thought, how lucky am I?

Being grateful with others here

hey, thanks!

A beautifully-wrapped package arrived...

...was quickly unwrapped by eager hands...

...and devoured by hungry eyes. Hilarious jokes for a big boy, the little boy searching the back for familiar characters. Aren't Little Golden Books just the best? And all thanks to my lovely new friend from Seaweed and Raine. Also thanks to Catherine at SquiggleMum for the Octonauts DVD. My boy was beside himself at receiving a package in the mail!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

gift for a new arrival

Things have gone quiet next door. I don't know if that means a baby has arrived, or if they are just avoiding us and our sick tummies. Either way, I have finished a gift for the impending arrival.
A little bonnet, like my girl's golden one, but a little tweaked. The design still needs a little tweaking, but I'm nearly there I think. A pair of ruffly butt bloomers. A singlet with a rosette-button-pouffy thingo. All from upcycled materials. I so love that vintage floral. And navy, mint and lilac for a girl, waddyathink?

I found myself watching two docos last night, one on birth in the UK, and one on breastfeeding. The birth one was really graphic- no pixely bits like an American show. As I was watching the women push through their various birthing journeys, I shamefully had an internal tanty of jealousy. I want to do that again. And I want video and photos of it so I remember it better.

But do I really? Not the babies thing, I am deliriously happy with our little family. But do I have regret about not inviting a photographer in to the births? Maybe. I wonder what I looked like. I would like to have a few of those moments frozen in time. They are etched on my brain forever though. And I can always ask my darling, who was there holding my hand, and laughing with me, every moment.

What is your take on birth photography? I am linking up with other creative labours here (see what I did there?)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

found: old-fashioned fashion

Since making my little girl's bonnet, I've been contemplating old-fashioned designs, and what made us move away from some of those classic baby- and children's-wear designs. I guess stretch fabric took clothing in a very different direction, but there is something really special about lovely soft, fine cotton made up into sweet little suits with a little embellishment on them. Much like these little ones I found last week.
At two dollars a piece, I could have cried that no-one else wanted them! Linking up with other found things over at Sophie's, in a tardy kind of way.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

the girl in the golden bonnet

How do you make an adorable baby girl even cuter?
 Add a bonnet!
Made with vintage sheets (oh, how I love yellow). I need to work on the pattern a little, but I am happily surprised as to how effective this style of hat is for tiny humans. It stays on her head, without falling over her eyes, and provides shade. And it's reversible too! Just in time for summer.

Connecting up with other craftiness here. I look forward to Thursday every week, to check out everyone's projects!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

my sweet surrender

During my last pregnancy, I discovered yoga, and the power of surrender. I practised breathing through my pregnancy, letting go. And it worked. We had a beautiful birth. Quick, really quick. No drugs. Laughter and dancing. On the floor, out in one push. Magnificent. I had surrendered, listened to my body and allowed it to do its work.

Five months later, my surrender has come to a screaming halt. And I want it back. I am trying to claw it back, but it seems like another one of the ever growing list of things I begin but don't seem to finish, or finish successfully. Caught up in the busyness that is three little children, I realise I am over thinking everything. Surprise! No wonder I can't surrender to the daily joy. I am worried about working or not working outside the home. I am concerned about renting as opposed to having a mortgage. I fear that I am too grumpy all the time for my children and husband.

So I need to surrender some of my ideas and fears. I'm going to write them down now, in an attempt to send them on their way.
1. Time is fleeting. I know this because I found to grey eyebrows this week. I lose my breath when I wave my big boy off at the school gates, wasn't it only about five minutes ago that he was the size of his baby sister?
2. My babies love me no matter how messy the house is. And they love me the mostest when I play monopoly with them/ dress up with them/ spend long minutes staring into their eyes.
3. I am not working outside of the home for the time being. And I am fortunate to be able to do that. Despite the fact that terms like "stay at home mum" make me shudder involuntarily (I don't know why, it just does). The work/ childcare/ home balance is going to be difficult enough when the time comes, so no point troubling about it now.
4. A lot about my life is easy. When I want to do a load of washing, I don't need to light the fire to boil the water in a copper. If I don't get around to cooking a nutritious meal, the supermarket is open and I can grab something quick and easy. I have a partner who contributes to the household chores.
5. Time taken to breathe/ meditate/ do yoga each day is neither selfish or wasteful. It is important and helpful.

I'm OK. It's just that, after experiencing how wonderful surrender can be, I'm frustrated to find myself living the opposite- holding on to stuff that doesn't now, and perhaps never will, be of any consequence.

How do you surrender? Do you find it difficult, like me, or is it easy peasy for you?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

found some more fabrics

And they are going to be fun!
A tablecloth in seersucker, with brown, orange and yellow flowers. Summer dress? Why, yes please!
A cot sheet with the cutest loved-up puppies ever. I'm thinking nappy outer for this one.

Fab finds like this make me sweat on the days when I can crack out the machine and get stitching! In the meantime, I will ogle the finds of others, here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

{finally} a quilt for my girl

Once the shock of having a girl finally sunk in (like, last week), I realised that I get to play pretties now. Today I needed little bursts of out-of-body-sewing, so I got stuck into a quilt for my daughter. Yes, my daughter. I have one of those now.
The heavenly vintage fabrics are thanks to the Vintage Sheet Swap organised by Kel. Make sure you are on board for the next one, it was so lovely to receive the collection of pretties from around the place.

I played for ages with the design, working really hard to make it look random. Funny that. I like how it came together. It looks like my Nana's old drawer full of scarves. Nothing matches, but each thing is so pretty, it just needs to be included, you know? I began with a strip pattern, wanting to create a rainbow effect. It wasn't higgeldy-piggeldy enough for me, so I did some more chopping and rearranging.

I am off to grab more ideas for creativeness here.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

a not-new outfit win!

So, it's buy nothing new month. And I'm not. Buying nothing new. Only, I realised last week that I had a work engagement looming. Actually, speaking at a conference, I'll have you know. Standing up in front of 185 people and talking. My first time doing this. My first time wearing proper shoes in months! My darling knew it was coming up, and kept giving gentle prompts...Do you need to get something to wear? And I snapped as only a woman being woken twice a night for five months can... Of course I bloody can't. It's buy nothing new month! And ignored the fact I had to get dressed in real clothes in a few short days.

The morning before (instead of writing my speech) I rummaged through my old work clothes. Lovely suits, pretty shirts. All too big though (thanks yoga!). And I caved. After the school run, I a shop. Luckily it was the nearest Salvos Store. I took the kids with me as insurance against wandering aimlessly for hours. And I struck gold, in the form of a perfect outfit! I had pinned this a little while back

loving the sweetness. But I like colour.

And I found all of this:
Country Road pencil skirt- $10
Rivers cotton pin tuck blouse with brown buttons- $6
Cardigan in my most perfect green- $6
Scarf- $3
I teamed all this with my favourite shoes- patent black with a white trim slingback peep toes, with a block heel. Super 1950s. $25 all up is a bargain in anyone's language, I think? And none of it was new! Yay for me.

What have you bought not-new lately?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

birthday love

Over the weekend, we celebrated my darling's birthday.

A visit from family on Saturday, complete with lunch at the pub. Warm day, cold beer, Grandma's carrot cake...heaven! Followed up with a morning at the beach, then dinner at a local Thai place. I have this condition, excusitis, wherein I can come up with at least 62 reasons not to do something, even though I actually really want to. Probably why I only get around to having my hair done twice a year. We looked at our rabble of children earlier in the day on Sunday and swiftly decided that a meal out was not in our destiny. By the afternoon, after some super-quick grocery shopping, I remembered my family going out to the same Chinese restaurant, for everyone's birthday, year after year. I asked my Dad about it not long ago, and he explained that they used to take us early (as in 5pm), order pretty much as we were sitting down, and be finished and out the door in about 40 minutes. I thought we might as well give it a try- we were all going in the car to get the takeaway anyway. And by golly, it was worth putting shoes on! The staff were so lovely, and looked after the little ones by bringing smaller bowls and cutlery, and talking to them lots. We ordered quickly, and I swear the food was on our table in less than five minutes. And it was delicious. Follow that up with a sunset walk along the beach? Yes please. 

I am appalling at choosing gifts for my love. We are both of the opinion at this time in our lives that we don't want more 'stuff', but boy that makes birthdays difficult! Added to that, my commitment to buy nothing new throughout October, and also give meaningful gifts, and I had myself a pickle.

Inspiration struck the night before his birthday, and I sat making a year's worth of tickets to adventures around our local area. We are still exploring this place, and it is overwhelming at times to know where to start. So I checked out the touristy websites, and found a bunch of inexpensive days out. 12, in fact.

And I have made a printable for you to download if you like! You can just print them, and write in what the tickets are for, or if you use photoshop, you can add text layers in the spaces provided. The gift was well-received, and will truly keep on giving through the year.


Monday, October 10, 2011

fabulous findings

Last week I had a lovely moment in an op shop near my place. A basket. A collection of gorgeous old dressmaking patterns. I wondered, were these dresses made with love for a daughter? Granddaughter?
I think what appeals to me most about buying second-hand is really the story. The fact that it had a life before me. So I have some lovely new designs to play with, and I can use some of my ever-increasing stash of vintage fabrics.

More thrifty goodness this-a-way.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

in a bind

I've been making my very own bias binding. Oh yes, I have.
The front is made from a vintage sheet. The other is a cute check cotton. The check will be a trim on some 80's shorts I am yet to make for my nephews. I followed the tutorial at made (naturally). I the following advice for those wishing to make bias binding:
  • a small amount of fabric goes a long way, my fat quarter made over 7 metres!
  • let the little taggy bits overhang more than you think when joining strips together
  • keep your fingers out of the way when you are ironing the folds. Burnies.
Checking out the other creative types here.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

buy nothing new for october

Hot on the heels of my year-long challenge to only give meaningful (handmade, upcycled, second-hand, ethically-sourced) gifts, I've decided to up the ante.
Dare you to join me...

Oh crap. I need a new pram to fit both the small chiddlers.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

tread lightly: skin care

My little one developed a sore, red, dribbly rash on her face over the last couple of weeks. Changing laundry detergent helped, but I also wanted something immediate to soothe her poor sore skin. I lamented to my child & community nurse last visit that several commercial potions and lotions I had tried hadn't worked. The only one with some short-term success was one containing "soothing oatmeal" along with several other chemicals. So she suggested just oatmeal. In the bath. *blink*. Just put it in a stocking and kind of swish it around, she said. Too embarrassed to ask if oatmeal was different to rolled oats, I toddled home.

But you know, I gave it a go. With rolled oats, because that's what I had in the cupboard. And it worked! I had to kind of squish the soggy oats in the stocking to make the 'milk' come out. I also stopped using any other products, in case she was reacting to them, or they were further irritating the rash. The redness didn't miraculously disappear, but over the next few hours it calmed down. I've even taken to making a mini-pot with warm water and just dabbing it on the skin with my finger. So there you go...oatmeal bath for soothing rashy skin!

Next on the agenda, much to my darling's absolute mortification is my Great Natural Deodorant Challenge. I am currently trying the first of two recipes, and am quite surprised by the results!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

meaningful gift: flowery outfit

Hands up who loves a twirly skirt? I do, and I hope my friend's gorgeous little daughter liked hers, too. She turned two this week, so I made her a springy skirt, prettied up a white tee-shirt with matching self-covered buttons and even made a matching hair clip.

Details: Fabrics from Spotlight, tee from Big W.
Followed the tutorial for the Market Skirt at made
Hair clip inspired by loveliness spied here while visiting creative spaces
There are a few more of these sets on the cards in the next couple of weeks!

Monday, September 26, 2011

found: and it was all yellow

A happy little teapot in my favourite colour, and a spicy linen tea-towel in browns, oranges and yellow too. I was able to sit down and share a cuppa with an old friend over the weekend. I'm a bit sad that this pot probably won't see many sessions with lovely friends, for a little while, anyway. One of the only drawbacks of moving away!
Oggling other lovely finds here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

meaningful gift: birthday hero

An invitation to a birthday party(on a Friday arvo- lovely, clever parents!).
 Some super green shiny fabric, my sewing machine and about 45 minutes.
 Our first handmade gift for a school friend.
I felt just a little bit sick taking my boy to the party with his mum-made present for the birthday boy. Is taking handmade a form of social suicide? I thought I was oh-so-clever until self doubt crept in. I wonder if the birthday boy liked it?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

in stitches. little spring

I have been having a little trouble finding great vintage sheets for my stash. But pillowcases, I've found stacks! I also absent-mindedly threw a roll of shirring elastic into my basket a few months ago. This weekend, the two came together in a beautiful epiphany. I present you: my



 Want to make one? Go on, it's easy. You can do it.
You will need:
  • a lovely pillowcase from an op shop, freshly washed
  • a roll of shirring elastic
  • some pretty ribbon
  • some sewing thread
  • a sewing machine
  • some elastic for the waistband- half a metre would be plenty, I used 1cm wide stuff
  • scissors
1. Lay a dress that fits your baby on the folded end of the pillowcase, to get an idea of the length and width you need. Cut the excess fabric away. This job is made more delightful if you say "chomp, chomp, chomp" as you cut. Don't cut the folded side! You should end up with a long rectangle.

2. Do a very nice little rolled hem on both the long sides of your rectangle. 

3. Roll some shirring elastic onto an empty bobbin. Not too loose, not too tight. Got it?

4. Using the elastic in the bobbin and thread in the top, sew a few rows of straight stitch. It's worth having a practice with your machine first. I found that increasing the tension and using a smallish stitch length worked for me. A distance of about 1.5cm between the rows looked good to me.

5. With right sides together, sew the side seam (the short sides of the rectangle). Finish with a zig-zag stitch, or overlock if you are fancy.

6. Sew some lengths of ribbon to the front and back.

7. Marvel at the cuteness of chubby baby shoulders.

Seriously. Marvel.

And if you want to, you could make a little pair of bloomers from the leftovers. I followed this tutorial for a diaper cover, only instead of elastic casing for the legs, I used the shirring elastic in the bobbin on a tiny roll hem.
I hope you have a go, really so easy. I am now considering adding shirring elastic to all manner of fabrics. Tea towels?
more creative spaces here


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