Rompers from deadstock shirts

I'm mucking about at the moment with a new romper design, which I hope to list in the shop in the near future.  It's actually looking a little over-run with rompers and bonnets at the moment, but I can't help it!  Rompers and bonnets are just too cute.

Once the pattern's all sorted, I plan to make them up in *proper* fabric, but in the meantime, I've been carving up some old dead-stock shirts that I have had lying about for months (possibly years).

These are a lovely, soft chambray and I've sliced and re-stitched several up already, into pinafore and bloomers for Sophie, and pulled one or two out of the pile myself for wearing about the place.

I've just about shredded and de-buttoned every single one, now.  And the romper is coming together beautifully.


Super quick bunny ear hairband - tutorial

With Easter around the corner, there are a stack of bunny eared hairbands in the stores, I know.  Most of the ones I've seen though are lolly-like hues of pink and blue, and that eye-piercing shade of bright baby-chicken yellow, which are all, incidentally, the colours I like least.

For the cost of a cheap hairband, a couple of chenille sticks, along with a favourite piece of fabric from your stash, and about ten minutes, you can easily make one that co-ordinates with your little one's favourite outfit.  Even if you don't have a sewing machine, you can make these easily and quite quickly.

I've left mine plain, but you could have fun decorating with sparkly bows or (my beloved) colourful pompoms at the base of one ear, or both.  This would also be a great Easter project for older children who are learning to sew.

What you need:

Thin cardboard (piece of cereal box or similar) for making a template
A thin headband (I like one with grippers - it helps stop the ears sliding about :) )
2 chenille sticks (mine were each 30cm long).  Preferably the same colour as the hairband.
A piece of fabric 20cm x 40cm (or two pieces of co-ordinating fabric 20cm  x 20cm). I've used a plain cotton to make mine.

What you do:

Print the template below on to a sheet of paper, then glue to thin cardboard.  When dry, cut around the outline.

Fold your piece of fabric in half width-ways, right sides together, so that the folded fabric measures 20cm square.  (If you are using two co-ordinating fabrics so the front and rear of the ears are different, place them right sides together).  Press lightly if needed, to get out any creases.

Place the ear template on the folded fabric (leaving enough room to draw a second ear) and draw around it with pencil.  Draw a second ear in the same way.

Machine or hand-sew around the two long sides of each ear, leaving the bottom open for turning.

Cut around stitching. leaving about a half centimetre all around.

 Turn inside out, using the end of a pencil to poke out the top point.  Also run it along the long sides of each ear so that the curves are nicely shaped.  (Note:  I found that clipping the curves along the edges and into the top was unnecessary for the fabric I was using).  Lightly press the ears and set aside while you prepare the hairband.

Bend over each end of each chenille stick, just so that prickly wire isn't a problem (ends of chenille sticks can sometimes be sharp!)

Fold each chenille stick in half as pictured.

Attach the chenille sticks into the position you want the ears to sit, using the picture below as a guide (I've used a yellow chenille stick here, so it looks clearer, but will be using black chenille sticks to make my ears.)  I think this knot thing I've used is called a cow hitch.

If you're using a hairband with grippers, before pulling them too tightly, make sure they are in the right position, because they can be difficult to move.

Tape or twist the ends of the stick together.

Take your fabric ears and slide them over the sticks.

Turn in the bottom of each ear about a half centimetre or so, and run a gathering stitch by hand around the base of each ear.  Pull up the gathers and slightly so they sit around the base of the chenille stick.  Then, without breaking your thread, secure the ears to the headband by sewing through the base of each ear and around the headband, until they are firmly in place.  Repeat to secure other ear.

And they're all done!  Add a decorative bow or pompom or anything else you can think of to pretty up your new ears.

These are so quick and easy to make, they would make a great addition to a child's chocolate egg stash!  Or, make some for the whole family and take an awesome Easter family portrait.  My crew sadly won't do this for me.  Too embarassing, apparently.  If you're family is cooler than mine, and you do this - I would love to see it!

Luckily, I still have one poser.


Knitting fixation.

For the past few years, I've always developed the irresistible urge to knit in the summer-time.  I don't know what it is - maybe it's a denial thing and my body thinks it can fool itself into thinking it's colder than 40C degrees by doing yarn crafts.  Or perhaps its all the lovely inspirational images of beautifully-made, scrumfy sweaters and cute, cosy headwear that are fed through on Pinterest and Instagram by knitters living through the Northern winter.   Whatever it is, the urge usually tends to peter out by the end of May, when the need for winter woollies is becoming greater.  I honestly believe I'm inhabiting the Northern Hemisphere in spirit, but my body is stuck way down south where it's hot and uncomfortably sticky.

This year, though, I've become obsessed with vintage baby knitwear, and I'm fixated on cute little rompers and bonnets.  I could knit these all year long.  I've been trying out some patterns that I found at a local second-hand store, combined with a bit of improvisation, a moderate amount of finger-crossing and a whole lot of unravelling and starting over. 

This particular one is my favourite, and combines a knicker pattern from the 1950s with a bib that I made up all by myself.  I know!  I, too, was suitably impressed by my ingenuity until I realised that I forgot to write down how I actually did it, and now have no idea how to do it again.  I could scream.

Autumn colours, a pom-pom (I'm still deciding whether it's a permanent fixture or not - it looks cute, but would probably not be practical when washing), and criss-cross straps that button in the back  - it vaguely reminds me of Humpty Dumpty.  How cute would this look with a stripey tee and cotton stockings? 

But, however adorable it all looks, I'm not sure it's good enough.  Not yet, anyway.  My knitting techniques are pretty slapdash, and I'm as slow as Joe Crow.  So, although she doesn't know it yet, I'm going to consult a friend who is a super-star when it comes to knitting, in the hope she can help me with my sloppiness and give me some tips on how to speed things up.  I'm planning on taking her out for coffee and cake, and then hitting her up for tips!  She is so awesome, she might even be able to help me work out how I actually made this romper (please?).

Unfortunately, it's five years too late for mine, so I'm making them at the moment for no-one in particular.  It's a shame the need to knit didn't strike when Sophie was a baby, she would have lived in these.  Oh, take me back.


Fright night.

Both the kids have got somewhere to be this Saturday.  In this part of the world, the tradition of Halloween is quickly gaining momentum, what with every shop in the land having at the very least a small section devoted to kids' dress-ups, sweets shaped like eyeballs and severed fingers and a pumpkin-face version of just about everything.  There's a long break without much going on between Easter and Christmas, and Halloween has slotted nicely into the Australian calendar of things to do.  Let's face it, if it weren't for all the Halloween merchandise, retailers would be displaying all the Christmas stuff from the start of September, and we'd be preparing for that.  Or in my case, still leaving it until the last minute.

I secretly really like Halloween, because I love costumes, and the supernatural, and the dark.  My husband hates it, and thinks it's just an excuse to sponge lollies off your neighbours and to pitch eggs at cars.  He admits that he is cynical, but only because that was the sort of thing he did in his younger days, and he says he didn't have to use Halloween as an excuse, either.

Anyway, this year we've decided that Cameron can go trick or treating.   He is going as the Grim Reaper.  A lovely friend takes her kids every year, and knows all the best places to go.  He's ten now, and he only has a few years of trick or treat left in him, so we thought we best let him see what all the fuss is about, before he gets old and cynical like his father (who, I will add, is lovely in all sorts of other ways, just in case he is reading).

Sophie is going to a Halloween disco being held at the kids' taekwondo club.  She was excited about dressing up as Jack Skellington, but I didn't have enough time to throw together a stripey suit.  Maybe next year.  Instead, I convinced her to go as a baby vampire bat - she loves baby animals.  Even ones capable of infecting you with rabies.

I made her a bonnet based on the ones I sell at my online store, replacing the rounded bear ears with pointy batfink ones.

The wings were made from a stretchy lycra material, using this awesome tutorial.  I have had this one pinned for ages!  When I suggested to Sophie we dress her up as a bat, her only request was that she would be able to dance!  This bat-wing shrug is so comfy to wear, simple to make, and just so effective - perfect for dancing, too!  I also stitched up a pair of black bloomers to wear over her tights (just because I love them so <3).  Oh, and she's practicing the snarl for nearly the past five years.

A bit of greasepaint on the nose is about all I'm capable of when it comes to face-painting.  I would love to learn how to do it, but this one's too wriggly and Cameron has always been very tactile defensive.  He hates face-painting, temporary tattoos, refuses to let me write my phone number on his arm with marker if we are going somewhere crowded (he prefers carrying a laminated card) - he just hates being drawn on.  He runs home from school to scrub pen ink off his hands, yet needs to be told without fail every day to clean his glasses and brush his hair.  I hear most ten year old boys are like that, so I'm not worried.  Not yet.

I can't wait for Saturday - I'm looking so forward to seeing all the children in their costumes - kids and dress-ups!  Two of my very favourite things!  I hope you a spooky and scary-fun Halloween!


Checking in.

I have been making little wings for little tunics this week.  In between looking after a sick small, treading the mill at the gym (!) and doing the general domestic duties gig.  I'm hoping to have a small selection of clothing for sale by the end of the coming week.  Did  you see the shop thingy in the sidebar?  Feel free to have a bo-peep.  I'm really not expecting to sell a single thing, but I've had a fun time making little clothes.  It all looks a bit Blyton-esque, actually.  That wasn't done on purpose, mind, but I like how it looks so far.

I have to take a break from sewing for the shop so that I can make a few things for Sophie and myself and write up some new tutorials.  Yes, TUTORIALS!  Remember those?  I'm not sure that you miss them at all, but I do.  I know I said it a couple of posts back,  but there will be a new one soon.  No, really, there will x


Yep, all of those.  I love my kids to bits, but the end of the school break can't come soon enough.


I don't know what I'm doing.....

This space has been a bit quiet of late, and I'm sorry for that.  I have this little fancy that I'm going to make up some kids clothes and other bits and pieces and open a little etsy or Big Cartel store and sell them.  I have no illusions that I will make thousands from doing it - really, I'd just like it to be able to pay for itself and perhaps a bit extra to finance some of the kids' taekwando lessons.  You know, fabric and fighting fees.

So, I've been sewing up little things, set up an instagram account, set up another facebook page and another blog, all with the intention of leaving this one behind and heading full tilt into my new project.  Because, I thought, I can't possibly do both.  If I'm spending all my free days sewing up goods to sell, I won't have any time to make up new tutorials or any other of the fun stuff I do here.

And that sort of saddens me.  Because I love doing this.  And I miss it already.

I may not have (and have lately, not had) the time to write up tutorials, but still want the option to be able to do that, especially as I have had piles of ideas, and lots that would complement the clothes I plan to make.  I could write up tutorials on the other blog, but to be frank, the idea of starting all over again makes me feel terribly mean, as if I'm abandoning everyone who has supported and followed along on my adventure here thus far.  And, as I'm sure has been mentioned in passing a hundred times before within these pages over the course of the last four years, I'm very lazy.

Besides which, when the kids and I make bird heads out of cardboard boxes, we want to be able to show them to you without them looking like they were placed on another blog by mistake.  Although I love making kids clothes, and hope that I can sell some, I've kind of worked out that I still need my space for all the other things I love to create and share.

So, my blogging journey is about to take a bit of a turn - it might be a temporary detour, or turn out to be something more concrete.  In the next few weeks, you will see a shop link in the sidebar, which will direct you to my (Etsy or Big Cartel) store (I've not decided which yet).  My store is called on june or janet (the Maker*land moniker didn't really fit my wares, and I've learnt that it is actually the same name used by other pages/websites - I didn't want there to be any confusion).  It'll be a bit like being my own sponsor, I suppose.  I've changed my Instagram account to @makerlandblog and it will incorporate both my shop and what I do here (with a couple of happy snaps of the kids and sunsets thrown in for good measure).  I'm putting the kybosh on the other blog, but will keep the new facebook page (feel free to visit it and click that 'Like' button).

I hope you'll bear with me during this time.  It's a bit of a transition and one I hope will happen smoothly.  I want to share everything I'm up to, but at the same time, I don't want to be shoving my new venture down your collective throats and for this blog to become about promoting my store.  I may share one or two photos here and there so you can see what I'm up to, but will leave the hard sell to the store's facebook page and Instagram, which you can visit if you're interested.  That's the plan anyway, we'll see if it works.

And what's to say my store won't be an epic fail and all this worrying was just a big waste of time and words.  In fact, that's the most likeliest scenario yet.


Twisted Tuesdays.

I was contacted by the lovely Laura of Titchy Threads several weeks ago, asking if I'd like to participate in her upcoming Twisted Tuesdays blog series.  At first I turned her down (albeit disappointedly) - this year has been just crazy so far, and I regrettably replied that I didn't think I'd have the time to join in the fun.  I was a bit sad after sending off my RSVP-in-the-negative; Laura's patterns are awesome!  A little while later however, she sent me a second email explaining that things were changed up a bit and her blog series was going to span seven weeks instead of just one, and without too much more coaxing, I was happily on board!

I chose to make her Twisted Tank, because although I now had more time up my sleeve, my schedule is pretty hectic and unpredictable at the moment, and this tank top is an absolute breeze to whip up!  The way Laura has designed this is so clever - the top is cut from two pieces without side seams, so rather than having a back and front piece, you have a top and bottom which joins diagonally.  The spliced pocket adds extra interest again.  There are so many ways you could put this together, mixing all sorts of prints and colours.  I actually spent more time choosing fabrics than sewing it together!

I went for a sort of show-time theme when making it up, the grey and the pink were pieces I already had in my stash.

I added the hem frill and second striped pocket (the black and white striped fabric came from an old t-shirt) to give it a sort of circus girl look.

Still in keeping with the circus thing, I made another top without the frill and extra pocket.  I have had this odd-shaped remnant of black and white harlequin print in my possession forever, and teamed with white, it was perfect for this top.

Just a plain pink pocket here, I cut it a size bigger than I should have so the corners don't line up with the diagonal seam, but that's okay.  I like a big pocket.

(Just a quick note:  Astute observers will notice that this is not my daughter.  This is my friend Lauren and she's helping me out with modelling duties today.  Sophie has been going through all sorts of growth spurts and the the fabric I chose unfortunately didn't afford enough stretch to fit over her belly.  Oops.)

The Twisted Tank pattern also includes instructions for a basic tank with the traditional seams running down the sides, so if you're not feeling confident with the twisty version, have a practice and you can make up a standard version instead.  In fact, the basic tank pattern is perfect for up-cycling old t-shirts, which is something I just love to do.  All Titchy Threads patterns have clearly illustrated instructions and handy tips, and this one is no exception.  And, as the Tank pattern spans all sizes from 0 through to 12 years, it will last you years and years and years.  What's not to love?

The Twisted Tuesdays blog series has been run over seven weeks so there are lots of other versions of this tank top to check out!  There is also a fantastic Twisted Trousers pattern which is next on my to-do list.  Visit Laura's blog, be inspired by all the amazing outfits other bloggers have made from the tanks or trousers, or both - and then give it a go yourself!  You won't regret it.  

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