Because weeding is boring.

I'm supposed to be sorting out my garden this afternoon, but I got really bored.  So I brought a whole bunch of stuff inside and made pictures instead.  Weeds will wait.

I'm beginning to think I have a sort of attention deficit disorder, as these days everything I undertake becomes an art project or a photo opportunity.  I am also starting to realise what a pain in the ass neck I am to live with, because nothing ever gets finished around here. 

Oh, deer.


I recently made my friend this rabbit doll, which she has christened Tilley.  I don't really do a lot of twee stuff for my kids anymore (one claims he is too old, and the other just steps on and destroys everything in her way), so it was nice to make something sweet and cute.  Anyway, her twin grand-daughters took an immediate liking to her, and, as Liane keeps Tilley in her car, they have developed a deep concern for her safety and well-being ("...has Tilley got her seat-belt on?  Tilley's not too hot in the car, is she?").

As being the one rabbit doll shared and looked after between two lovely, playful, protective little girls would be quite exhausting, my friend asked if I could make them one each. 

They are very much like the original Tilley, except for the neckwear, which has turned out sooo much better this time around.  I've asked Liane to return Tilley 1 to me for a wardrobe edit, because knowing she has a dodgy neck ruffle will annoy me.  I'm fussy like that.   

They have the same cotton tails and long stripy legs...

...ruffles and bows (pink for Ella, purple for Lilly)...

...and a preference for glittery party head-wear.


Five minute paper puppet.

It's a rare thing to get my daughter to sit down and concentrate on anything for more than five minutes, and this was no exception.  She has been badgering me to do some drawing for the last couple of days, but once we had pulled everything out of the art box, sat down and did five minutes of colouring, she was over it.  Still, it was enough time to cobble together this little rabbit puppet, and she has been toting him about for most of the afternoon.

According to Sophie, colouring inside the lines is for amateurs, but luckily it's not really necessary for paper puppets.

She is already planning her next one, which will have "blue tiger stripes and a big woolly moustache".


Why is it that it's the littlest person in my house with the biggest attitude?  It's often said that you get the sort of offspring that you yourself were like as a child, but not me.  I was a good, considerate, complacent little girl and I have ended up with a daughter who thinks she's Ellen Ripley.  If you cross her path or answer her incessant questioning in the wrong way, she will smite you down with a single glance or scream.  What's worse is that none of my friends believe me when I tell them how full-on Sophie is; she is the perfect child when we're in the company of others.  It's quite amazing to see how she works and I'd love to know what's going on inside her head.  She's exhausting and fascinating all at once.

During my recent attempt at cleaning out my cupboards, I came across this Blondie t-shirt that I picked up at the op-shop a couple of years ago shortly after I had Sophie, having the intention of re-sizing it for her at some stage.  It was a woman's small size (whatever that means), but cheap and poorly cut with twisted seams, so twisted in fact it was nearly impossible to get the little t-shirt pattern I cut to sit on it evenly.  If the t-shirt pattern had been a size bigger, it would not have worked. I made it just in the nick of time!  I had to use another black t-shirt I had in my stash to cut the long sleeves (you can see the difference in shades slightly).

It's not really my intention to dress her in this sort of stuff all the time (I prefer to make her simply cut, vintage style clothes), but, hey, it's Blondie.  Debbie Harry was (and still is, in my opinion) Queen of Rock Chicks.  Beautiful and bad-ass - how I loved her.

I quickly ran up some tartan knickers from a pattern I'm working on for next summer.  And after sewing these, I will have to continue to work on it.  Not quite right, but getting there.  These are good for dress-ups, although I'm only guessing when I'm assuming that rock chicks wear tartan undies.  More than likely they don't, but they just complete the look.  Well I think they do, the whole early eighties is something of a vague memory these days.

And funnily enough, to add insult to the injury with regards to the blurry reminiscence of my tweens, Sophie calls this her 'old lady shirt'.  Ouch.  Apologies to Debbie Harry.

Sophie May is at her Nanna's today, giving my brain and ears some much needed relief.  While she's there, she will no doubt be like this....

...but knowing my Mum, she will feed her up on all sorts of treats and run her ragged, and she will be returned to me like this -

Oooo, I can't hardly wait.


Upcycled smock.

A couple of years ago, I made Sophie a romper from an upcycled denim shirt I found in a bunch of stuff my mother's neighbour left behind when she went home to South Africa.  There were actually two of these shirts in the bag - I completely forgot about the second one, and stumbled across it a week ago when I was starting to clean my room (stumbled being the operative word, my room is a bomb site).

And as cooler days are coming along really fast, I thought it best to selflessly ditch my plans to clean up my room and instead sew up a denim smock for Sophie straight away. 

 I used a pattern by McCalls from their Easy Stitch 'n Save range ( M5606).  I have drafted dresses similar to these before and had planned to grade up the last one I did, but when I saw this pattern for two bucks on eBay (with free postage!), I thought I'd save myself the trouble and the tracing paper.

Hand sewing the facing along those curves and around the armholes was a bit tedious, I'm thinking I might straighten out the yokes next time.  I will need to grade up a size in a couple of months time anyway (the pattern stops at size 3), so the whole thing will probably get a makeover.

I'm sad that's the last of those lovely big shirts.  The fabric is lovely - light but warm, and easy to sew.  It is rather a boring little smock really, but I love how you can throw these over everything.  We even manage to get a second wear out of t-shirts that may have been drawn or dripped on, which is handy in the winter when you're running out of things to wear while you're waiting for your clothes to dry (I am old school, and line dry everything).

Although I love the cooler weather, it comes with it's flipside.  The drippy noses and the colds have already started.  It's lucky I took this photo a few days ago, because she doesn't look this cute today.  And she's been using her new smock as a hanky, so it doesn't look too cute now either.  Eww, gross.


Sunday collage.

I pack up the kids and take them to my mother's house every Sunday morning, and we stay until after lunch.  Sophie and Cameron haul everything out of every cupboard they are allowed into, which is pretty much all of them.  My Mum has no concept of control when it comes to her grandchildren - Oh! how things have changed since I was a child and living under her roof.  Hmmmmm.

Inevitably, Sophie will drag out the arts and crafts box and slam it in front of me, announcing loudly "Let's draw!", hang around long enough to wildly scribble on a piece of scrap with texta, and then take off somewhere else.

By this point of the morning, my Mum is probably talking about politics or her financial affairs and I am beginning to glaze over.  I start to snip at bits of cardboard and doodle funny animals.  She is aware that I am turning off, I am aware that she will continue to talk regardless, so I continue doodling, she continues talking, and we are both happy in our little worlds.

By the end of the morning, she has probably relayed some extremely important information that I will need to know should 'anything happen to her', which I have completely missed and will no doubt regret, and I have made two silly collages of Noisy Bill and a bubble blowing elephant.  A productive morning all round, I'd say.


The sorry cake.

I made my friend Cheryl this "I missed your birthday!" cake which I will deliver to her in the morning.  It was her birthday earlier in the month and I totally forgot.  I feel bad, because she never forgets mine (but that probably has something to do with the fact that her husband's is on the same day).  Anyway, it will be nice to catch up all the same, even if it is purely because I am grovelling for her forgiveness.  And her cat has had kittens, so it will be extra fun.


Bunny bag - tutorial

Sophie May doesn't need too much chocolate at Easter (she is crazy enough), so I thought it might be a good idea to make her the bag she's been hassling me for.  Luckily, I had just enough fur fabric left over from her last bunny hat to make her this matching bunny shoulder purse.  I'm hoping she will be more impressed by this effort.

This is really easy (promise!) and makes a good first project for a beginner.  If cute bunnies aren't your thing, adjust the ear shape and change the face to make a bear or cat, or whatever takes your fancy. 

What you need

40cm x 40cm* of outer fabric (I used fur.  You could use any heavier or plush type fabric: velveteen, wool, corduroy, denim, etc)

40cm x 40cm* of cotton for lining and inner ears

15cm x 95cm of cotton for strap**

2 buttons for eyes

13mm press stud for closure

General sewing supplies - pins, needle, thread, a sewing machine, etc.

Optional: yarn to embroider nose, or you may prefer to use a larger button, pompom or applique the nose using a fabric scrap.  Ribbons, bows, sequins, pompoms, beads, etc. to further decorate your bag if desired

*Or equal measure.  If  your using a scrap or strip of fabric or the leg of an old pair of jeans, of course, just cut the pattern pieces as you can.  Take note of grain lines though, and if you're using fur, velveteen or corduroy, take note of the nap (there are good tips for working with fur here).

**This measurement for the strap is the width and length I used for the bag shown, and is intended as a guide only.  You may want to make a thinner strap or longer strap.  Or instead of sewing the strap, you could use use ribbon or cording instead.

What you do

Firstly, print out the pattern sheet and cut out the pieces (click on the image below to view full size image, then right click and save as a file, then print it).  All pattern pieces include a 1 centimetre seam allowance.  

From the outer fabric, cut two bag pieces, and two ears.  Cut the same from the fabric you're using for lining and the inner ear.

For each of the ears, place one outer and one inner ear piece right sides together.  Stitch around the long sides, leaving the bottom open.  Clip around curves, and then turn inside out.  Lightly press the inner ear with a warm iron.

Turn in one of the sides of the ear to meet the middle of the ear as shown.  Pin, then hand baste.  Do the same to the other ear as a mirror reflection.  The two coloured ear inners should each point outwards.

Sew your eye buttons into place.  I used cotton yarn to embroider a simple Miffy-like nose in the shape of a cross.  You may want to use a larger button, or pompom, or whatever you like.

Remember that you have a 1cm seam allowance, pin the ears onto the rabbit face with the ears edges 1cm in from the edge.  The ears inners are face down, and pointing outwards.  Hand baste into place.

Pin bag lining pieces onto outer pieces along the top, over the ears in the case of the bag's front.  Stitch along the top with a 1cm seam allowance.  Overcast the edges with a zigzag stitich if desired (just to give those edges a bit of added strength).

And, this is what you should have so far!

*Note - before you stitch the front and back together, it's a good idea to pin the ears as best you can in the middle of your work (pictured below), to stop them from getting caught in the seams.

Pin back and front together, right sides facing, lining to lining, outer to outer.  Stitch around the edges with a 1cm seam allowance, but leave a gap of about 10cm across the bottom of the lining section.  This is where you'll turn it inside out.

Then, you guessed it, turn it inside out.

Along the gap, turn the seam allowance of the lining inwards and pin.  Using a ladder stitch, sew the gap shut.  (There's a quick how-to here if you don't know your ladder stitch.)  Push the lining into the bag.  Anchor the lining to the bag with hand stitches:  thread a needle with double thread and knot end.  Take needle through the lining seam from inside bag and bring it out through the seam of the outer fabric, and then take needle back through the outer fabric seam and back through to inside.  Do a couple more times in this spot, snip thread, and then do again in another one or two spots along the seam.  This will stop the lining from moving about inside the bag.

 Attach press stud pieces inside the bag at the upper edge.

For the strap:

Cut a piece of strap fabric about 15cm wide by approx 95 cm long (a guide only.  This is the measurement of the strap used on the bag shown - your personal preference may be a thinner and/or longer strap, measure accordingly).  Fold in half lengthwise and press, so that you have a nice straight crease running along the middle of it's length.  Turn each of the long edges inwards to meet the centre crease.

Fold in half lengthwise again and press. (I'm not sure I'm explaining myself too well here - please refer to the picture below!)

Top-stitch along the long edges of the strap.

Overcast the short edges with a zig zag stitch, and then turn under about 2.5 cm.  Stitch in place.  I stitched a criss-cross to help secure the end a bit more, but that's not necessary.

Pin the strap ends behind the ears on the front lining, the front edge of the strap facing up.  Hand stitch in place with double thread all around the end of the strap ends.  There will also be a gap between the strap and the lining behind the ear - stitch that up, too.

 Hand stitch the back of the ears to the strap to hold them upright.

Decorate your bag how you wish, bows, ribbons, or my favourite, pom poms!

 Use your own judgement when embellishing your bag - if it is for a very young child (or one that just likes to pull stuff apart), consider using safety eyes or embroidering them with satin stitch, and ditch the decorative beads and sequins in favour of pom poms and ribbons.  Let your child help decide which decorations they want to use so that they can make a completely unique bag that's all their own.

Fill with chocolate, if you must.  I'm sure your child will love it even more.
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