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.  



 Today, I've been mucking about with some vintage fabric and home-made binding.  I've come to the conclusion that red and white striped seersucker binding goes with absolutely everything <3


Thank you blouses.

I made two of these blouses (using the same pattern I used here) as thank you gifts for the Nevaeh and Taylah, who were the little girls who helped me out when photographing my projects for Handmade for Baby.  It's funny, isn't it, that when you desperately need to photograph a baby under twelve months old, you don't know of a single one.  Sophie would have gotten the gig, but she was way past one and therefore not young enough for this.  My poor daughter was already a has-been at the age of nearly three.

I really was lucky to find two of the most delightful and well-behaved models, both of whom had parents who were so accommodating at such short notice.  Nevaeh's parents in particular, as they didn't know me from a ball of string and travelled twenty minutes to my home when a mutual friend put us in touch with each other.  She was gorgeous and petite and wriggly with big blue eyes.

I'd never met Taylah before either, although I have known her mother, Michelle, since my late teens.  I messaged Michelle to see if Taylah would be able to help me out.  They were on holiday at the time but came to my rescue as soon as they returned home.  Taylah photographed like a seasoned professional and made my party hats look a whole lot cuter.

I ordered a book for each of them as a thank you to go along with their little blouses, wrapped up together with a box of chocolates for the Mums' and Dads'.

And of course, now that the desperation for tots one and under is no longer an issue, I personally know about a dozen kids who fit the criteria, which is typical.  However, I'm so happy with the way the photos and everything turned out, I can't imagine the end result any other way.   Cheers to my adorable little helpers and their parents...


Handmade for Baby

It seems like forever ago that the very lovely and talented Charlotte Rivers contacted me about contributing to her new book.  Aside from feeling incredibly flattered that I had been asked, I initially felt quite overwhelmed.  The festive season was fast approaching, meaning not only were the kids on holidays and wrecking my house, but extra and later shifts at work were frequently popping up.  We had scheduled for the kitchen to be ripped out straight after Christmas in anticipation of renovations and had started ripping up our floors.  Coupled with the fact that I had had zilch experience with anything to do with publishing and no idea what was expected from me, I thought long and hard.  But only for about two minutes.  Of course I would!  How often do these opportunities come by?  Jump in!

It meant a few late nights, lots of emailing back and forth, wrangling children I had never met for photos and a couple of afternoon naps while my husband took charge of keeping the kids out of my way.  With everything else happening about the place at that particular time, I did at least at one point, wonder if I had perhaps bitten off more than I could swallow, and whether my kids would still love me when it was all done.  One-o'clock-in-the-morning finishes at work, followed by two hours of editing photos and writing instructions, only to be woken early in the morning by excited children ("What are we doing TODAY??!") doesn't make for happy times at my house.

BUT....the finished product arrived at the door yesterday, and all that has been long forgotten.

'Handmade for Baby' is an absolutely delightful book with contributions from crafters all over the world.  All the projects are for babies aged 0 through to one year old, but I think many of the crafts can be used to make gifts for older children, too.  Easy-to-make projects which use knitting, crochet, papercrafts, printing on fabric, photography and of course, sewing, are all included in the book which is full of gorgeous photos and illustrated step-by-step instructions.

I have two sewing projects in the book - this star wand rattle...

....and this dress-up party crown.

However, even if I weren't a contributor, this is exactly the sort of book I would buy if I found it at a bookstore.  So many of the designers and bloggers that I have stalked followed for years took part - Sanae Ishida, Pink Brutus Knits, Aunty Cookie, Delia Creates, StraightGrain and Paper + Cup Design, just to name a few.  I really do feel quite humbled to be included in such a talented bunch of people - like I'm one of the cool kids, finally.  Wow.

So, whether you're pregnant yourself, or looking to make something for an up-the-duff friend, seeking out a baby-shower gift for a crafty mother-to be, or you just like looking at little hand-crafted things and cute kids, you should definitely check out this lovely book of crafts made especially for babies - I don't even have a baby, and I want to make them ALL.

(A big thanks to Charlotte and all involved at Rotovision, my adorable models Nevaeh and Taylah, and my awesome and always-supportive husband, who kept the children out of my hair and therefore alive, for which I'm guessing they will be forever thankful.)
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