A romper from shirt sleeves.

I found an awesome men's shirt from the op-shop in my most favourite shade of grey.  I had in mind that I was going to make Sophie a blouse and after I sliced the shirt up every which way, I somehow burnt a big hole in the back with my crappy excuse of an iron.  Oops.  My fault, I should have bought a new iron weeks ago.  The thermostat on this one is a bit emotional - sometimes barely warming up a couple of degrees after being switched on, and at other times it's over-enthusiastic and agitated for no good reason.  If it were human, it would be my twin.

The leftover sleeves gave me enough fabric to make this baby romper.  I made this using Simplicity  3508, which is a reprint from a 1950s pattern (I'm not sure if this is still available, but you could try your luck on eBay or Etsy). This will remain unworn for the foresee-able future as I don't know anybody who is pregnant nor small.  Which is probably just as well because although this is tiny and cute, it's not perfect.  I'm going to practise this one a bit more and make some changes.  Especially to all those buttons.  And buttonholes.  Moan.   Making buttonholes is like the worst thing ever.

I have another similar sized shirt in my stash and I'm thinking I might have another go.  Maybe I could get two rompers out of the next one?  I might try that on a day I'm feeling a bit clever, but not before I buy a new iron with a better attitude, I think.


Shoulder button top.

This top is a sample from a pattern I drew up based on something I saw in a children's fashion magazine.  I figure this is a great design for summer or in winter to layer over a long sleeved tee.  This one is actually made from cotton sheeting and is prone to a bit of wrinkling.  I'm thinking next time I'll try a light denim or a light wool check for cooler months.

The bloomers were made from some fabric leftover after I made this.

I've been thinking a bit more lately about putting together a small collection of clothes and selling them online.  Even though I have a husband who runs his own business, I have remained blissfully unaware of the requirements and responsibilities of running a small business.  I'm kind of regretting that now and doing some research on the inter-web, and asking friends in small business what to do.  But, they don't seem to have any idea either.  Etsy?  Big Cartel?  I'm definitely not one to sit at a market stall all day, so online's the preference.  Any suggestions, tips, do's and don'ts would be very helpful and much appreciated :)

I'll have a bit more time for sewing now this one is starting kindergarten in a couple of weeks.  Can you believe it?  She turned four about a week ago. 

She has been working those dimples of late and spends ages in front of the bathroom mirror watching them appear and disappear by moving her 'magic face'.  That's good, because she is going to require a truckload of cuteness if she thinks the behaviour she's been exhibiting at home of late is going to swing with the Department of Education.  The school holidays and the excitement of having her brother at home to play with (whether he likes it or not) has been making her just a tad over the top.

I will miss her terribly, but I'm so excited for her.  My big girl.  *blub*


Clownie romper.

More projects from the scrap pile.  I ran up this little romper from a piece of floral fabric I had left over from this dress  that I made some time ago.  There wasn't quite enough to make something for Sophie, but still a substantial enough remnant to make something.  I'm not sure who this is for yet, but I'm sure somebody I know will be having a baby at some point in the future, or know of someone else who will.  Not me, though.  No way!  That horse has well and truly and gladly bolted.  Phew.

My obsession with all things circus-like is an influence here.  The clownish frill around the neck is made of a grey and white cotton seersucker, bound with self bias and left with a raw hem.  I was sort of experimenting at the start  and didn't have the inclination for time consuming niceties such as hemming ruffles.   But as I was making my way through it, I was having fun watching it all come together, and did in fact start paying more attention to detail toward the end.  Too late for the neck ruffle, though.

It buttons at the back with two vintage buttons  (the top one is concealed by the frill), and opens at the crotch with snap fasteners.  The type you hammer on. That was a first for me, and I was surprised how easy it was.  Noisy though.  I was hammering away and my husband yelled, "What ARE you doing in there??"  "I'm making a baby romper!  Derrrrrrrr...!"

This is such a light little suit, it would be just fine on it's own in the summer months, but I can see it worn over tights in the cooler weather and topped with a cosy cardigan and cute knit hat.  I really wish I had a little baby to put this on and photograph - awwww,  too cute!  I really miss being able to dress Sophie in teeny, sweet clothes (not that she's ever been that teeny).

 And I really love this autumn-ish floral and am quite disappointed that I'm almost completely out of it.   I possibly have enough left to make a doll and some scrunchies, but that's it.  That's sad.


Scribble day

There's not been much to report of late, except that today is the start of the school break and I am over it already.  And it's hot. We have busted out the drawing things and a roll of paper and are partaking in a bit of art therapy.  I have been back to the brown paper table about two dozen times myself already today, trying to get my happy back.

However, I'm thinking Cameron might need a roll of his own.  He is a very quick and prolific doodler and is able to draw at one metre a minute, thereby muscling in on my patch of happy-making space, which is not on when I'm already snippy.

But I guess it doesn't really matter, because Sophie just scribbles all over my drawings anyway.  Her story is that she's making them 'look better'.

Hooray! - my own little editor.  What would I do without her?


Gingerbread houses

I remember a few years a go, I tried to put together one of those three dimensional gingerbread houses.  I didn't make the gingerbread myself, but instead bought a kit from Ikea (of all places).   I don't know why, but I stupidly picked the most hottest and clammiest day over the Christmas break to try and stick it all together.  I very quickly discovered that royal icing is rather like me in the humidity - overly temperamental and a hag to work with.  Needless to say, the two hours of effort I put into trying to recreate the magical image on the box resulted in a failure of colossal proportions, a Tupperware container full of gingerbread shards and me vowing never, ever to make another one, ever.

Fast forward five years and can you guess what I'm making?  Cameron likes to gift his classmates something every year and we were looking through my cutters and these were about as Christmas-ish as it got (besides stars, but they are ho-hum because I make them ALL the time, apparently).  So gingerbread houses were the go.  But this time, without those two extra pesky dimensions.

Anyway, check these over and spot the mistakes.  As you can see, my mad (sad) piping technique needs some work, and I'm quite sure some of Cameron's friends will be scratching their heads and thinking, what the heck are THESE supposed to be??  Cameron took great care and skill in placing on the coloured bobbles and pretty silver things, but that's where the care and skill ended, I'm afraid. 

 I think, as a cookie decorator, I make a pretty good dressmaker, or anything else for that matter. 


Bubble pants

If you're a regular visitor, you'd know that Sophie owns hundreds of pairs of home sewn bloomers, but I wanted to try to make some that were a bit different than her regular ones.  These are one of the test pairs I've run up, based on a pattern from this book.  I say based, as after the initial run through, some of the pattern pieces needed a bit of re-drafting, which is NOT a fault of the book, but rather somebody's round tummy.  Sewing would be a whole lot simpler if my girl was a more standard size.

I had some black linen left over from a previous project and managed to get the main pieces of the shorts cut from it (after some jiggering about).  The pockets were cut from a fat quarter of quilting cotton I bought years ago when I had a thing for spots.  Everything matched up really well, which is not always an easy thing to do when you're working from your scrap pile.

Of course, these took a bit more time than one of my standard run-them-up-in-an-hour stick-elastic-thorough-all-casings efforts, but the construction is really simple, and they look much more polished.

Actually, these took a lot longer than they should have.  Ten days, approximately.  This included the initial ones, the pattern drafting, the procrastinating, etc.  I just wasn't in the mood.  I have been having a bad run with the sewing machine of late, and have just had to get up and leave it be for days at a time.  I get phases like that.

I really love that the pockets can be made out of a scrap of eye catching fabric you might love but not have any other use for.   In addition, the pockets themselves serve as a wonderful cache for all sorts of treasures.  Sophie had been wearing them for an hour before I managed to grab the camera and take these shots.  After taking photographs, I changed her into long pants and found inside these ones some stickers, a half-eaten cracker, two buttons and a texta lid. 

I may be inclined next time to redraft the pockets (again!) into panels that extend the entire height of the shorts.  If she managed to collect that many trinkets in the space of sixty minutes, there's no telling what might end up in those pockets after wearing them for an entire day.  I would not be game to check.  Other than that, though, these are great, if you have a child-sized child (if not, it's easy enough to widen the shorts panels and pocket, and adjust the waistband and leg binding to fit).  I want a pair!


Another visit to Mum's...

"There is always room for more." Crayola markers, crayon, collage.

...which ended in another collage.  Not that the conversation was boring or anything, but I just woke up with busy hands.  I have days like that.


Zombie cookies

Halloween is fun, and a great excuse to make cookies.  I love cooking stuff with a theme, but when I saw the price tag on a bag of four plastic cutters, which very vaguely looked like a witch, a ghost, a cat and an I-don't-know-what-that-is,  I just about screamed.  Oh, okay, no I didn't - I mean swore.  Screaming just sounds more Halloween-ish.

But I did end up buying some mint lollies and licorice straps, and gave some boring round-shaped gingerbread cookies a makeover instead.  Here is the recipe and how-to. If you have a favourite gingerbread or shortbread recipe, you could use that instead and just use the decorating face making tips.  These go together really quick.

What you need

125g butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
1 egg yolk
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 or 3 teaspoons of ground ginger (or none, if ginger isn't your thing)
3 tablespoons golden syrup
1/2 cup of water (you may not need all of it)
Small white mints for eyeballs (I used Jila mints)
Licorice (I used a 2 pack of 1 meter Fyna Licorice rolls, though only a tiny bit - I have about 1.95 metres left! )
Food writer (I used an Americolor Gourmet Writer) or black writing icing

To make cookies -

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.  Grease and line two baking sheets with baking paper.

Sift the flour, baking soda and ground ginger into a bowl and set aside.

Using a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the egg yolk, and beat well.  Gradually add the sifted dry ingredients and the golden syrup and continue to mix.  With the mixer running, gradually add the water a bit at a time, until you reach a cookie-dough-like consistency, as below.

Scoop mixture out of bowl (you should easily be able to able to press it into a big ball) and place on a roughly square sheet of baking paper.  Place another square sheet of baking paper on top of the dough, so it's sandwiched between the paper, and using a rolling pin, flatten  to a thickness of about 5mm.  (I find it easier to roll between two sheets of paper - it saves having to use flour to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin and the bench.  Using too much flour will make the cookie dough elasticky and affect the taste.  That's my experience, anyway).

Cut 24 rounds of approximately a six centimetre diameter, using a small glass or cup (I actually used the plastic lid from my cooking spray), and pop twelve on each cookie sheet.  You may have dough enough dough left over to make more.  

Now you need to find something you can use to indent the eye sockets.  They have to be a little bit wider than the sweets you have chosen to use as eyeballs.  The end of a marker, a piece of dowel, a small plastic bottle cap, etc.  (Whatever you use, make sure you wash it and dry it so you are not inadvertently poisoning yourself with germs or something toxic.  That's not a good trick, even if it is Halloween.)  I had a hunt through my useful box and found a wooden bead which I pressed into the cookies to make the eye sockets.

Then scoop a small amount of the jam (about an eighth of a teaspoon) into each socket to make the eye-goo.  If you get a little bit on other parts of the cookie, don't worry.  A zombie wouldn't care, so why should you?

Snip small pieces of licorice into strips, and press into the cookies to make mouths.

Pop your zombie heads into the oven for ten minutes, on the middle shelf.  That means you'll have to bake them one tray at a time.

Once out of the oven, press the eyeballs on gently.  I used these Jila mints for mine.  They are white on one side and blue on the other.  I pressed the blue side onto the sockets so all the eyeballs are white.

 As far as squoosh factor goes, a bit of jammy eye-goo squeezing out from behind the eyeballs is a good thing, but don't press them on so hard that you lose the eyeball altogether through the bottom of the cookie.  Leave them to cool on the tray for at least ten minutes so they have time to firm up.

Then using your food writer or black icing, detail the eyeballs with some wonky black pupils.  Lift them off the baking sheets with the help of a spatula or egg slice, and place them onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container before using them to gross out  visitors or packing them up for the kids at school.

What a bunch of good-looking cookies.

Not all of them were blessed with cranky faces.  We managed to make a few smiley ones.  Because I'm sure some zombie cookies are happy with their lot in (the after-) life...


...even after having been stuck in the eye with a licorice stick.

These were a bit of trial run for the kids in Cameron's class.  He'll take some in his lunch tomorrow.  It's another week until Halloween, and I can see myself making another batch next week for Friday, unless I'm told not to.  They're not too over the top for nine and ten year olds, are they? You just never know these days.  I think they are sort of cute, actually, eye-goo and all.  I'm guessing that I'll sleep just fine with these sitting in my pantry tonight.  Well, I think I will.

Anyway, just in case, Happy Halloween for next Friday!  I'm sorry to say, that if you're local and you were planning to knock on my door for treats, you're all out of luck because I will be working - boooooooo (that's a sad boooo, not a scary one).  Have fun!

PS.  As the saying goes with regards to zombie cookies - eat them, before they eat you. I'm sure you've heard that one before, but I really wanted to use it.  Sorry.

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