Monday, December 16, 2013

Miss Mouse

I do it every year. There are dozens of other things that I really need to do before Christmas, but I can't help myself. Quite often, it hits at around 9pm, the night before I'm due to travel to meet family. My husband now just rolls his eyes. He knows the futility of suggesting it's not the best idea. This year I'm feeling very justified in indulging my urges. It's not chocolate and it's not sex, drugs or rock n' roll. It's making last minute gifts. Pretty weird I know, but I can guarantee that there will be at least one of you reading this blog who will be nodding their head in recognition.

I made this gorgeous wee mouse from a pattern by Jodie from Ric Rac this morning and I'm totally in love. The pattern was so easy to follow and make and I know that Eloise will love her. 

This particular pattern was featured in Australian Homespun magazine in November. You can order a download a digital copy and get the pattern from there. I made the little mouse a bed in a craft suitcase. The mattress is a lightly stuffed rectangle of fabric, a smaller one for the pillow and I made the sheet/blanket by turning under and stitching around a square of fabric. I then cut out a square of minky the same size and zig zag stitched the two together around the edges.

Jodi has lots of other gorgeous animals and dolls to make in her shops and I highly recommend you read her blog. She writes stories for the toys she designs and is utterly hilarious.

Now I just have to make another of these for my other daughter. Or maybe I'll have a go at this fox instead.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bees, Butterflies, Flowers and Frogs

Eloise's class is doing a little play in assembly next week. The other Mums in her class and I have been busy making costumes for the kids.

We're using the basic pattern from Emma Hardy's cute and easy Costumes for Kids. I've used this book for so many of the kid's costumes in the past and can't recommend it highly enough!

Can't wait to see them all do their performance!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Hello Again

It's been a long time since I've posted anything up here. I'm sure you've noticed ;) I'm slowly getting back on board with Cotton Kiwi after a long break to organise our wedding.
Happy on our wedding day

It was a fabulous day and just what we wanted. It's taken me several months to get back into the swing of things post wedding and I've been busy with managing three markets and the children and all the rest that comes with life. I made the tough decision last month to stop organising Devonport Craft Market. I was spending so much time on the computer at home that my girls were starting to question my availability for them. Luckily, I've been organising the market with Sarah McLeod of Songbird Designs for the past 5 years and she happily agreed to take it over full time.

Our daughters made wonderful bridesmaids
The girls are growing up so quickly and although they are well able to look after themselves in the conventional ways: getting dressed, staying clean, doing chores and getting themselves something to eat if they feel like it; I feel like they need me to be present more than when they were younger. They need me to help out at school and to be there to listen with both ears and answer questions. Have you found that as your children have grown older? This'll be the first month that I haven't managed Devonport and it's been lovely not to have all the extra work involved, but I know I'm going to miss it. I'm still going to be selling there. It would be too hard to say goodbye completely! I'll be there at the next market on 6th October and I can't wait.
Flower Filled Fairy skirt

I've also booked a stall for myself at tomorrow's Craft Harvest market (I'm the manager there so the application procedure was quite straight forward!). I've got flower filled fairy skirts, kids aprons, girls' dresses, boys shorts, sock monkeys, bibs, nappy covers and my new Waldorf inspired dolls. The market runs from 8am-11.45am in the Jubilee Hall at 545 Parnell Road, Auckland. The Farmer's Market runs at the same time just outside the hall which is great for coffee and treats as well as being able to do your weekly shop. Hope to see some of you there!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Little fairies

I've been taking a break from my Cotton Kiwi shop for a while but I've been taking the odd commission. I've just finished a very sparkly little flower filled fairy skirt for a 2 year old which will be off in the post tomorrow. I sent one off to Australia a few weeks back and this little fairy's Mummy was kind enough to send me a photo which she said I could share with you.

Isn't she adorable?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Back to School: Fabric covered exercise book tutorial

The girls went back to school today and I have to say I'm feeling a little lost without them at home. There'll be plenty to do and talk about when they get home. There's also the school exercise books to cover and label with all their different subjects. If you are anything like me, you will hate the sticky backed plastic stuff that you buy from the shops to cover books with. It never, ever, goes on without wrinkles for me and there's a whole lot of swearing that goes on. Plus, I don't really like the high waste aspect of it. There's so much unrecyclable backing paper to pull off and the plastic coating, whilst keeping the books dry (and yes, this is a very good move for at least one of my daughters!), it just doesn't appeal to me. I should say now that I do give in to the kids and buy them one pack of the sticky backed plastic but the deal is that I then get to have my own way and create covers for the books that are far easier for me to do.

Fabric covered exercise book
If you have a sewing machine at home (you can get away without one but the cover won't stay on as well), this is an easier and much more environmentally friendly way to cover your kids' school books (and it makes sure that their books will definately stand out in the class room when they go to look for them.) Here's how to cover your books with fabric.

What you need:
Lightweight fabric (old sheets and printed cotton are great)
Glue stick
Pinking shears
normal scissors
pencil or pen
ruler (not essential but handy)
Sewing machine

  • Iron your fabric out flat and place your opened exercise book on top.

  • Lightly mark all around the book, leaving about 2.5cm all around.

  • Cut out with pinking shears.

  • Place your closed book in the centre of the fabric and cover the front cover of the book with glue and then place it face down onto the fabric. Turn the book over, being careful not to move the fabric on the front cover. Cover the back cover with glue and fold the fabric over.

  • Open the book at the front cover and using normal fabric scissors, cut a square at the top and bottom corners. Also make a small snip as far as the book at the top and bottom centre (where the binding of the book is). Glue the longer side strip and fold it towards the book. Do the same with the top and bottom. Clean off any glue that might have escaped before you turn the book over. Turn the book over and do the same for the back cover.

  • I'd recommend you leave your book to dry for a while otherwise the glue can clog up your needle so glue all your book covers on and then make yourself a well earned coffee before you start the next bit. When your books are dry, Set your machine to a zig zag stitch and stitch around the front cover and then around the back. The best needle to use is a jeans one but ordinairy needles will work pretty well. Don't forget to change it before you do anymore sewing though as the card will blunt the needle.
  • If you don't have a sewing machine, you can just leave it at the glue stage or use some wide tape to secure the inside edges.

I also stitch labels onto the front cover of the books. Just cut them out, glue them in place and stitch them on. There are some really cute ones here:
The butterfly ones are here
Good luck with back to school!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sylvanian wedding dress tutorial

Maddy received a parcel in the post today. It was a vintage wedding car for her Sylvanian toys. She bought it second hand from Trade Me with her birthday money but couldn't afford to get any more of the wedding set so I thought I would have a go at making a little wedding outfit for her.

I found a set of free patterns for clothes here . They are in Japanese but there are pictures so you can pretty much guess what to do if you have a bit of sewing experience. For the wedding dress, I used the gathered dress pattern which is second from the bottom. Click on that picture. You'll see 3 lines of text underneath it which probably appear in Japanese script on an enabled computer but look like a bunch of symbols on mine. Click on the first one and you'll get the pattern. The second one has the instructions and pictures. If you are just making a plain dress, follow the pictures and you'll see what to do.

To make the wedding dress, I used an old baby t-shirt but you could use any white t-shirt. The benefit of using an old t-shirt is that you don't have to do any hemming because it's t-shirt fabric which doesn't fray and you can also use the bottom of the shirt or even the sleeve to make the bottom hem. This is a really good thing to do because it makes the skirt stick out a bit. Cut out the 2 pieces. The skirt should be about 4cm wide by 19cm long (I've made it a bit wider than the pattern so it's a full-length dress). Stitch 2 rows of 1cm wide lace along the length of the skirt and then stitch one row of lace around the neck. Stitch the two underarm sections on the top as shown in the Japanese pattern picture. Gather the top of the skirt and pin it to the bodice section and then stitch it in place. Try it on  your Sylvanian to make sure it fits (there should be some lap over on the back. Fold one side of the back over by a tiny amount (just enough to get it under your needle. Attach 2 long skinny bits of velcro to the back and you have your wedding dress.

To make the veil, take a piece of the same lace you used on the dress and wrap it around your Sylvanian's head to get the right size. Add about 0.5cm on the length of the lace to lap over at the back (you'll add velcro in a moment). Now take a wider piece of lace or about 8x8cm of net/tulle and fold it over concertina style at one end. Stitch the folded end to the skinnier lace at one end so that it will be at the back of the Sylvanian's head when it's attached. Now attatch velcro to either end of your skinny lace with the veil attachment and you are good to go with your bridal headdress.

For the bouquet, I totally cheated and I really don't recommend you do what I did if it's going to be played with by children. What I recommend you do is to hand stitch 3 ribbon roses onto a small piece of elastic so that it can be looped over the toy's hand. What I did was to pin 3 ribbon roses onto a safety pin and loop that over the toy's hand. That's because I'm lazy and because I needed to get off the sewing machine and go and make the kid's some lunch! The safer version will be made later when I have less hungry children and more time.

I've got to figure out how to make something for the groom to wear now. Hm, I wonder if the Mr would notice if I used one of his black t-shirts to make a jacket....

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Matchy matchy

A new job and too many commitments have meant a lot of quietness from me on this blog over the last few months. I decided over Christmas to take a break from selling at markets for about 6 months to give me more time to focus on jobs around the house and doing the sewing projects I want to do but never have time for.

This is one of those projects. I found the tutorial for the dress here. It's for a smaller child than Eloise so I used the bodice of one of her other dresses as a template for upsizing the dress. It's looking a little wrinkled as she's worn it for 3 days this week (*insert happy mummy sigh here*). I ended up cutting off some of the skirt as I made it too long and then saw that this could be one of those happy mistakes as the offcut was exactly the right length for Eloise's doll Mandy. I used an existing doll dress to get roughly the right size for the bodice, used the offcut for the skirt as I mentioned (you only need half of the full circle of patchwork pieces for a dolly skirt) and now Eloise and Mandy can be matchy matchy.
So cute!


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