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.


In between things...

I have lots on the go at the moment, but nothing is finishing neatly one thing after another so I've got nothing to post about...yet.  All my bits and pieces and projects will probably all be finished at the exact same time and I'll annoy you day after day with blog updates for about a week.  Sorry.

I did finish this t-shirt refit and some new tartan bloomers.  This is her second Foo Fighters t-shirt, sadly, the first one no longer fits.  I was lucky enough to come across this t-shirt a few months back.  I had planned to use it for Cameron, but he is getting too big to re-cut t-shirts for.  Boooo.  So my little tomboy scored it.  I've made it slightly longer and flared so it will hopefully last longer than the other one did.  She thinks the stars on it are pretty.

Who the heck are the Foo Fighters?


A sort of new hat from an old sweater.

I'm trying to draft up some hat patterns at the moment.  I'm going through another "I-should-make-stuff-and-sell-it-on-Etsy" phase, which will no doubt pass once I remember how little time and inclination I have between looking after kids and working a night job.  And possibly a second job, when I find one.  I know that people manage to do all this and more and still have Etsy stores, but I am not made of super-hero stuff like them.  Maybe when Sophie starts kindergarten next year and I'm able to sit down for more than two minutes at a time and focus, I'll set one up. She keeps me busy, crazy and mentally checked out to everything else.

Anyway, back to the hat thing.  


I drew up this pattern, and as I was not really sure how it would turn out, I didn't really want to commit it to spanking new fabric first up.  I've been botching things up so much lately.  So, I had a look about the local Salvos and found this boy's sweater for $2.50, and sliced it up to make this hat.  I lined it with some jersey scrap I had lying about and the striped straps are from a t-shirt that was already butchered to bits to make something else.  I am such a hacker.

Oh, and of course, you just knew there had to be a pom pom somewhere.

It didn't turn out too badly, although I think the fit could be a little bit better.  I think more the problem is, is that Sophie has inherited my oddly shaped head (my head is  wide and has corners) which is probably why it looked a bit poochy on the top.  I'm all for making things a size bigger at this age, but unless she is developing a cone-head, this isn't really working for her.  Luckily, I have enough of this maimed sweater left to try it out another couple of times.

Back to drawing (and chopping) board for this one.


Butterfly wings - tutorial

More dress-ups!  Just because I love them.  I think love them much more than Sophie does.  If wings like this were socially acceptable for me to wear in public, I most probably would.  If they actually worked, that would be even better. It's been one of those weeks...

These butterfly wings are a cinch to make, and can be made out of small amounts of leftover fabrics.  They slip on the shoulders back-pack style with elastic loops, and can be decorated however you like.   A bunch of these can be made up fairly quickly to keep handy as gifts,  and if your little girl was having a party, these would make a great party favour that guests could wear during celebrations and then take home instead of lollies.  Or, as well as lollies.

What you need -

Fabric for the wings.  Each side (front and back) needs a piece of fabric that is 40cm (16inches) wide by 35cm (14inches) high. Matching, co-ordinating or clashing in colour. Pre-washed cotton fabric is easy to sew, but it could be something shiny or sparkly.  (The fabric I've used on the spotted one is from a very unfashionable skirt I picked up at a second hand store, which isn't cotton.  The back of it is from an old pillow case.)

Extra fabric, again 40cm (16 inches) wide by 35cm (14 inches) high.  This doesn't have to be anything fancy, it will end up on the inside of the wings and you won't see it.  You'll be tracing the pattern onto it, so the plainer the better.  Have a look through your stash for something your dying to get rid of.

Craft wadding (the cheap stuff is fine).  Once again, 40cm (16 inches) wide by 35cm (14 inches) high.

A sheet of craft foam  (to make an inner stabiliser)

About 1 metre of 6mm (1/4 inch) elastic.

Thin card (cereal box) for making template.

Anything  you's like  to decorate your wings with.  Pom poms, ribbons beads, jingle bells, etc.

The usual stuff.  Pins, needle, thread, sewing machine, etc.

What  you do -

Firstly, save the pattern sheet below to your computer, print out two copies of the pattern template onto paper and cut it out.  This pattern template is obviously only half the wings, and you need to make full wings template. 

Fold your cardboard in half and glue the centre line of the template along the fold of the cardboard, cut around the outer wings through both layers of card so that you have a full wing template.  You also need to cut out a template for the inner stabiliser.

Next up stack your fabrics and wadding on a table as follows

- underside of wing fabric (that is the fabric that will be facing the child's back), face up
- outer wing fabric, face down
- wadding,
- and the plain fabric on which you'll draw around your fabric, on top.

Place template on fabric and trace around it.  Don't forget to include the markings for the opening.

Pin as shown through all layers so that nothing shifts as you run it throught the sewing machine.

Stitch around the drawn outline, leaving the  the gap where marked.

Trim around the wing shape, about 1/4 inch from stitching.

Clip around curves, and into corners.

Turn your wings inside out so that the underside and outer wing fabrics are showing, and the batting and plain fabric are on the inside.  Give it a press with the iron.

Make the inner stabiliser.  Trace around pattern template onto craft foam sheet and cut out.

Slide the stabiliser into the wings through the opening, between the batting and the plain fabric.  Bend and twist the stabiliser as needed in order to get it in place.  It's a little bit tricky, this bit.

 Hooray! - nearly done.

Fold in edges of opening and close with hand-stitching.

Top stitch around the wings, about a half centimetre (1/4 inch) from the edge.  I also like to sew a couple of lines down through the centre as well.

For the straps, take the end of the elastic and place it in between the child's shoulder blades, bring it over their shoulder like a back pack strap and back toward the starting point.  Pull it a bit so it's firm but not too tight (you don't want the straps too floppy, nor a threat to the child's circulation), and mark with pencil. Double it over to give yourself twice the length, add about a half inch and cut.    (* Note - if your a bit unsure, err on the side of caution and make it looser rather than tighter.  If the wings sit too floppily when worn, you can always unpick the elastic from the wings, shorten it and re-sew it.)

Being careful not to twist it, and using a zig-zag stitch, sew it into a loop.  Place the elastic join at the top of the wing about a centimetre from the edge and machine stitch it through all layers.  Determine the opposite centre of the elastic (so that both shoulder loops are of the same size) and mark with pencil. 

Stitch at that point on top of the elastic already stitched on, to form the shoulder loops.

On the outer wings, you'll see the stitching you attached the elastic with.  It looks a bit ugly, so cover it up with any decorations you like.  Ribbons, a big bow, beads, a favorite brooch, etc.  If you are a regular visitor, you'll know pompoms are my personal favourite.


I've also added some fabric strips and a couple of jingle bells to Sophie's, to serve both as a handy way of keeping track of her movements while in the playground and also a warning to other children that she is nearby...

 ...because she's a sneaky ...bug.  I almost used another word then, which would probably have been more fitting, but not so G-rated.  I'm thinking of the children.


Banded dress.

This is one of those dresses that took far longer to sew than it should have, because I decided halfway through making it that I wasn't really enjoying the process.  My original idea was just to make a crossover top out of the navy cotton remnant, but I added the striped band for a bit of fun, and soon after sort of wished I hadn't.

The band is made from a polyester remnant that I picked up from a garage sale, or second hand store - it must be from someplace like that, because it smells like mothballs when it's near anything remotely warm.  I'm usually pretty stringent when it comes to washing fabrics before I use them, but I figured because it was synthetic, it was not prone to shrinkage or colour run, so I didn't bother.  I couldn't smell the unmistakable scent of napthalene until I had sewn it to the bottom of the skirt and ran the iron over it, and then - ta-daaaaa!  My sewing room suddenly smelt like a retirement home from the sixties.

No joke, it really turned me off and ruined my fun.  It sounds stupid, I know, but I like my sewing to be a happy experience and it just wasn't doing anything for me.  However, as I'm slowly getting into the habit of seeing things through to completion (a New Year's resolution ten years running) I grit my teeth, held my nose and got it finished.  It's getting a good old soak in some vinegar tomorrow and a nice wash. 

Sophie is very happy with her new dress, regardless that when she stands near a sunny window, it makes her smell like someone who's a hundred years old.  It makes a good circus dress-up with her latest "cheap-hat-of-the-week", which she always sucks her mother into buying.

I'm not sure yet whether the stripes are staying.  I might give the band the chop.  Bad memories.  I really hate it when I just don't go with my initial thought and I end up making something I'm really not sure I like.  And something that reeks of Hovex.

Thank goodness for sparkly hats! 


Cameron baked today....

I usually bake something on Sundays for him to take to school - muffins, biscuits, something like that, but I'm in a bit of a dark mood with my kitchen today.  It is playing up like a hormonal witch (which is usually my specialty).  In the past twenty four hours, I have burnt myself on the stove-top, an oven rack AND the toaster, I slammed my finger in a cupboard door, and then my jumper got caught in the runner of my new bin drawer and ripped a large and mostly unrepairable hole in my sleeve.  If it had been my old kitchen, I would have kicked it over.  But I just spent a load of money on getting it restored, so I refrained from going full-metal-jacket on it and just swore at it instead.  Dumb kitchen.

Or maybe it's just me playing up like a hormonal witch, and I am being super clumsy.  In fact, this is probably more likely the case, but I am not prepared to admit it (or to be told such a thing by anybody within swiping distance).

But whatever the reason and whoever or whatever is at fault, I decided I am not cooking in it today.  It would more than likely do me right in.  So I sent Cameron in to do my dirty work and make his own school snacks.  I gave him this recipe because it is the easiest thing ever, it doesn't require to much concentration and it is a trade-able commodity at school, he tells me. 

Chocolate Coconut Slice

1 cup plain flour
1 tablespoon cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup coconut

185g (6oz) butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the icing:
I cup icing sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
30g butter (1oz) butter, melted
1 tablespoon hot water
Sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.  Grease and line an 11 inch x 7 inch pan.

Sift flour and cocoa into a mixing bowl, add sugar and coconut and stir until all dry ingredients are combined.  Add melted butter and vanilla, mix well.  Press into pan and bake for 20 minutes.  Leave to cool in pan.  When cold, ice with chocolate icing (make the icing by sifting the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl, add melted butter and hot water and mix until glossy).  Scatter with sprinkles, if desired.  Pop in the fridge for an hour or so.  Cut into bars or squares when the icing has set.
Too easy.   Cameron was able to get it to slab stage and smothered in icing and sprinkles.  It sat in the fridge for a few hours before I summoned up the courage to cut it up with a big knife.  But, I'm happy to report that I neither dropped the lot on the floor or stabbed myself in the hand.  It looks like things are on the up.   Take that, kitchen.
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