Pants upcycle.

I am a woman on a mission.  I have been collecting op-shop finds and keeping old clothes for ages with the purpose of refashioning them, and then not getting around to it.  I just get way too distracted.  And now, my poor little sewing room is beginning to resemble a charity bin.  As we've been discussing moving house in the next year or two, my "collection" needs to be reduced to a more manageable size (if not culled completely), so I am making a sincere effort to work through it. I really, really am.

I made this sun-suit for Sophie from an old pattern which I had to adjust a bit (actually, a lot) to make it possible to cut the pieces from the original pants that I used.  The denim was very soft and floppy and a bit worn looking which really helped give it a vintage look.  I was able to incorporate some of the original seaming so it didn't look so home-made.  Additionally, the pants had elasticated cuffs that were nicely distressed, so I cut the bib from one of the legs to form the band at the top, just to add some interest.

I am sort of embarassed to actually show you the before picture of these pants.  I bought these from Kmart after Sophie was born in sheer desperation as I could find absolutely *nothing * to wear that was both cool and covered my legs in the 40 plus degrees celsius of summer (both my kids were born smack in the middle of summer, my least favourite time of the year).  They looked loose, comfortable and big enough for even me (who still looked like I had a baby whale stuffed up my shirt).  I was so tired, so sore and hot, sporting another stapled-up caesarean cut, and as mentioned previously, desperate for something cool to wear.  There were loads of these on the discount rack for eight bucks - yay!  I took them home without trying them on, and quickly discovered why nobody wanted them.  They looked expletively awful.

However, they look a hundred percent cuter now...

...and they pass the flexibility test.   Which is an all important quality when you feel the need to spontaneously show off your gymnastic abilities in the middle of the supermarket or cafe.



Men's shirt refashion.

There is nothing like pretty gathers, puffed sleeves and a lovely Peter Pan collar to impart the impression of innocence and sweetness.  Even when the wearer is sometimes lacking in both particularities (in the presence of immediate family, at least).

See?  Butter wouldn't melt in that mouth. 

The pattern is from the most gorgeous Japanese sewing book.  If  you sew clothes for your little girl (or would like to), I would highly recommend buying this book - so many beautiful things, all of which are quite simple to make.  Although, they are written in Japanese, the clearly illustrated step-by-step instructions make all the projects easy to follow.  If you've sewn projects from these books before, you'll know what I mean. 

As it was my first run-through with this pattern, I checked through my recyclables and found an old men's shirt from Target, which is labelled 100% linen.  Now, I've made it up (and am thrilled with the finished result), I'll make it up again in a softer cotton.  The linen is lovely, but just a tiny bit stiff.

I might also forgo the sleeves next time and bind the armholes instead, so that Sophie can wear a long sleeved tee under it, or wear it comfortably under a cardigan.  The bands on the sleeves are fine for the moment, but I can see that they will probably be quite constrictive in the coming weeks.  This is in no way a fault with the pattern - rather a mix of genetics, a sweet tooth and an aversion to anything I cook. 

But, most definitely I'll be making this one up again, with sleeves or without.  I just love how darling it looks.  Even when teamed up with a Swan Lake tutu and a wicked laugh. 


Making new friends

Sometimes, I just like to sit and have a muck about with my fabric scraps.  Most times, it ends up with me swearing like a trooper, throwing said muck-about in the bin and storming off to bed angry at myself for wasting hour upon hour on achieving nothing. 

But something really magical happened this week, and I ended up with this little lady sitting on my bed and an absolute tonne of ideas for more.  I felt extremely happy as I was making her, disappointed when I had to put her aside to do other things, and really excited about getting back to finishing her off.  Now that she is finished, I'm looking forward to making her a friend, or four.

She marries up alot of my interests - sewing, old time theatre, period costume, toy-making....um, pom poms.  I'm looking for ways I can somehow weave in children's clothing, and I think I've struck upon something.  Then again, it may be nothing.  I guess we'll see.

But even if not, I think I might have found my thing. She still needs some tweaking before I'm completely happy, but I'm mostly glad about how she she turned out.  And she didn't make me curse one single time.


Sweater recycle

 I'm currently drawing a few simple patterns and running up some samples out of fabric I already have at hand.  Just some baggy bloomers and a simple peasant top with a high neck, that wears more like a t-shirt.  It's still winter, but the last few days have been beautiful and clear and springtime-like, and I was inspired to make a start on Sophie's summer gear. 

But once I'd finished, it felt silly to have made something so flimsy with still a month to go until winter is officially over (and probably another three until it's consistently warm and storm-free), so I made something to throw over the top.  Just so it looked a bit cosy.

The jacket is sort of the result of a muck about, and is, quite frankly, a bit of a fail.  Luckily, I actually thought it might turn out this way, so I made it from a plus-size sloppy joe I found on the clearance rack in K-Mart for four dollars. 

I had originally planned to make a blazer type jacket out of some navy wool crepe, but it's getting late in the season now, and Sophie would probably not get much wear out of a fancy jacket this close to spring.  I'll save that for next year, now. 

Oh, and of course, pom poms!  Partly because it looked a little boring without them, but mostly because my enthusiasm for pom poms is becoming borderline obsession.  I need to get a pet rabbit or something.


Child's necklace - tutorial

Do you often find you have to buy a bag of a hundred things when you really only need one or two?  I have beads, buttons and bells all over the place which have been leftover from other projects, and as I am in the midst of yet another sewing room clean-out, and I am highly averse to chucking perfectly good stuff out, all these bits were tossed in a box and thunk over.  Hmmmm, what to do?

While I was still scratching my head about this box of stuff, I was one day browsing about in a local gift shop and saw some very average looking, imported character pendants made of plastic beads and polyester ribbon.  Sophie told me that they were nice and she wanted one.  I replied that they were nasty and said we could do better.  So we went home and made our own.

This was actually an easy and over-with-very-quickly project, which is always great when you are crafting with three year olds.  Sophie's involvement actually was just pushing the ribbon ends through the big hole in the head bead (no needle for her!), which took her a good five minutes for both pendants, but as she will tell you, it was the most important part of the whole project. Of course it was!

We made a clown and a bumblebee and following, I've included the materials and methods we used for each of our pendants.  But, depending on what you have in your own box of stuff, all sorts of beads and bobbles and bits could be stringed together differently to make all sorts of characters.

Clown pendant

What you need

Small jingle bell (the one I've used is about 10mm across)
16mm coloured wooden bead
25mm plain unvarnished bead
Star button
Paper drinking straw
6mm wide craft ribbon -
A needle for stringing the beads (optional)
Craft glue (optional)
Pens for drawing face (I've used a black Artline ink pen and a random marker from my son's pencil case)

What you do

1.  Using the pens, draw a face on the larger, unvarnished bead.  Placing it onto the end of a thick pencil or marker to hold it steady while you draw is helpful.

2.  Cut a length of craft ribbon measuring around 80cm long.  Thread one end through the hole in the jingle bell, and move it to centre of the ribbon.  Even up the ends. (You can do your threading with  a needle, but if small children are helping you, it's probably best they just use their fingers.  Pushing ribbon through beads is a great activity for hand/eye co-ordination!)

3.  Thread both ends through the smaller, coloured bead.

 4.  Thread both ends through the head bead.

5.  Take your button and thread one end of ribbon through one hole and the other end through the second hole.  Slide down so that it sits against the head bead, and then tie with a half knot.

6.  Cut a 2cm of drinking straw.  Thread ends of the ribbon through the straw.  Check the length on  the potential wearer (if possible), adjust and tie ends together to form a necklace.  (Optional:  dab a little bit of glue between the straw and button and let dry.  It's not absolutely necessary, but will help keep the hat together.)

Bumble bee pendant

What you need

Small jingle bell (again, 10mm)
16mm coloured wooden bead
25mm plain unvarnished bead
Strip of tulle, about 5cm wide and 10cm long (or use stiff ribbon)
Black drinking straw
2 x 5mm black plastic beads
6mm wide craft ribbon -
A needle for stringing the beads (optional)
Craft glue (optional)
Pens for drawing face

What you do

1.  Follow steps 1 - 3 of instructions for clown pendant.

 2.  Tie the tulle strip around the ribbon to form wings.  Trim ends if needed.  Slide toward coloured bead.

3.  Thread both ends of ribbon through the head bead.

4.  Cut a 2.5cm length of drinking straw.  Thread both ends of the ribbon through the drinking straw and slide into head bead.  Then thread one of the small black beads onto one end of ribbon and the other black bead onto the second end of ribbon.

5.  Again,check the length and knot off into a necklace.  Again, some glue at where the tulle is knotted will keep it from unravelling and help stop the beads from swivelling about.

And, finished....

Time to hang out with a new friend.

These would make fun little trinkets to sell at school or church fetes, or cute little thank you or Christmas gifts for teachers (although adults may prefer them as a key ring or a bag charm).  Package them up nice in cellophane bags with some sparkly star bling (and be sure to add a label that gratuitously promotes your blog).


We killed a couple of hours today painting big cardboard heads.  Sophie is always in the mood for painting, and although she didn't make a big cardboard head of her own, she did manage to paint a large picture which must incorporate every shade of brown that could possibly exist. 

I had some large cardboard boxes that I'd brought home from work, so we cut them down, painted them and then added some extra cardboard brackets to the bottoms so they could stand up.  Cameron was in a royal mood, apparently, and made his into a forlorn looking king with a white five o'clock shadow and a spiffy alfoil crown.

Oh, do cheer up.

Sophie had a nice chat with mine.  She told him that she liked his 'sausage nose'.  I'm not really sure whether that's a compliment or not. 


Dressing up

If I had my time over again, I'd be a costume designer.  I love period costume, and will often watch really boring films over and over again if the costumes are brilliant.  It was my initial plan, once Cameron had started primary school full-time, to volunteer at a theatre in a nearby town and see if I could lend a hand in the wardrobe department.  But my own little production put the skids on that.  And presently she provides enough drama in my life, so my dreams of show business will have to wait.

My friend Katie's daughter needs a pioneer costume, so I'm helping her out.  I made this bonnet today at lunch-time, while the kids were watching a movie.  We all needed quiet time; it's school holidays, the weather is rotten, the kids are at each other and I've just about lost my voice from playing referee.  The bonnet is based on an old Holly Hobbie pattern I've had for ages.  Do you remember Holly Hobbie?  Now I'm really showing my age.

We are off to visit Katie and Caitlin tomorrow morning to take some measurements and toss around some ideas for the rest of Caitlin's costume.  I will hopefully have two very well behaved children AND my voice mostly intact, or else it will be a very short and quiet visit.


Another scrap quilt.

It's been freezing weather this weekend, so I got to finishing up this simple quilt, which I made up with yet more scraps from my stash and some cotton sheeting.  I was spurred by a near accident I nearly had in my car a couple of weeks ago - it was lucky I was my on my own, because I think I must have sworn more in the three minutes following the incident than I have in my entire life up to that point.  I'm certain my kids' ears would have dropped right off had they been in the car with me.  Why are there so many idiots driving?  My Lord!  Anyway, without going into detail, the thing that goes through my head (cursing aside) is not, "Gosh, I have to make sure my will is up to date", nor "What is that moron car's registration number?".  It's "I should make a quilt so my kids have something to remember me by."  How dumb is that?

This is a bigger and comfier effort than my last quilt; I splurged and bought some proper cotton batting so it's soft and floppy and scrumfy.  The top went together really quickly - as you can see there's absolutely nothing complicated about it, no edges to line up or anything.  It's backed with sheeting, quilted in straight lines and the binding around the edge is made from a cotton laundry sack.

I know it's no masterpiece, not by a long shot.  I'm sure it has at least a hundred things wrong with it.  But despite it's imperfections, I love how it turned out, all worn-looking and scrappy. 

 And I'm also secretly pleased that the kids are already fighting over it.  It looks like another one will be on the to-do list and through the sewing machine very soon.  But, hopefully, next time, the inspiration won't nearly kill me.

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