This week, I was lucky enough to lay my hands on Jennifer Paganelli's new book Girls' World. It's just beautiful - gorgeous projects, clear instructions and the colours - oh how I love her fabrics.
To celebrate our six month blog birthday (OK, so it's probably closer to seven months, but who's counting?) Maryanne and I would love to give you the chance to win your very own copy of Girls' World and a yard and a half of Queen Street fabric so that you can get stuck straight into sewing your very first project.
To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment and tell us a little about yourself . How did you find our blog? We'd love to hear any thoughts or suggestions that you have, too. We'll draw the winner randomly, so don't be shy!
The giveaway will end at Midnight on Sunday May 15th (Sydney time). Even though we're from the antipodes we're happy to post internationally. We'd love to Sew Together with you!
Last week was a special time for our family. We celebrated Will's first birthday.
A first birthday is such a milestone. One year ago we were handed an unknown little bundle and met our son. In this past year, he has shown us who he is and has given us a glimpse of who he will become. I am not sure whether he has grown into his name or we somehow knew the right name for him. Whichever way it happened, his name is perfect. In the very best of ways, he has a very strong will! He knows what he wants and is determined to show and tell us. He has seen the exciting world and is so keen to be part of it.So where is he at right now?
- He is crawling like a star, can climb on almost anything and is cruising fairly confidently between furniture.
- We are pretty sure we have heard him say Mumma, Dadda, cow, bird and up.
- He loves to be cuddled off to sleep and still expects to be cuddled back off to sleep very regularly during the night. You can imagine from a parent's perspective this is a mixed blessing!
- He desperately wants to know how things work - the mechanics of a book are much more interesting than its contents, kitchen drawers and cupboards provide hours of entertainment.
- He is willing to eat anything. We don't remember any food he has ever rejected and there is a long list of things we would rather he didn't eat but he is very keen - dirt, shells, pumice stones, chalk and sand.
- He loves hanging out with his sisters - they share a whole lot of jokes that we will never understand. His face lights up when Pippa and Madeleine walk in the room.
- The time between recognising what he wants and protesting that he hasn't got it yet is about 5 seconds!
- He does a fantastic bear impersonation.
- He has perfected the art of the shoulder snuggle. He is normally very busy but those times just before he goes off to bed or soon after he wakes up are just beautiful. He melts into your shoulder and the fit is just perfect.
I did get a chance to do a little birthday sewing. The Oliver and S Little Things to Sew book
provided me with the inspiration to make a play town. Unfortunately my sewing time could not match my ideas. I still have plans for Madeleine's Sewing Shop, Pippa's Treat Shop and several other little houses. They will have to wait. Here is what I managed to get done (with some help from Caroline!)
I really enjoyed making these and only wished I could have found time to complete the many other foam blocks I had cut. One day...
He had some other handmade goodness - a gorgeous corduroy hoodie from Caroline and a very sweet knitted bunny from my Mum. I will share these with you when I have managed to take some photos.
So here is our family celebrating Will's Birthday. This little boy has brought so much more love, laughter, happiness and just a little bit more chaos into our lives!! We wouldn't want it any other way.
We started the morning with chocolate.
We hunted for eggs in the garden.
Can you believe our Mums made us wear matching Tshirts?
We made and ate hot cross buns.
We had a fabulous day but we were sad that Lizzy wasn't well.
We'd like to thank our Mums, Dads and the Easter Bunny for making this day possible.
Mums please note - it won't be long before we refuse to do the Tshirt thing.
Will, Martin, Pippa, Lizzy and Madeleine
Holidaying on the coast together, there has been plenty of time for swimming and sandcastles, birthday cakes and fishing. Our sewing machines have been untouched... but there is always tomorrow!
Caroline and Maryanne
Right now, I'm loving the look of doilies. I love their pretty charm and the way they remind me of my grandmother's house. What I love most of all, though, is the new ways in which they're being used to adorn clothes and for all sorts of crafting projects. The Haby Goddess
currently has a doily fest on her blog, and Luvinthemommyhood
featured a gorgeous doily craft round up last month.Unfortunately, I don't have a stash of vintage doilies at my finger tips to use
, and even if I did, I'd be a little reluctant to put them on my kids' clothes. Attaching them is tricky and I'm not sure that they'd survive the amount of washing and soaking that the kids' t shirts endure.Last week, the postman brought me a huge box - inside? A Silhouette SD. I'm loving it, and my favourite creation so far? Some faux doily t shirts for Lizzy
. They've got the vintage look, but they're a whole lot more durable.
And guess what? Although it's been the quickest, easiest project I've done in ages, it's been the only thing that Lizzy's been desperate to put on... sigh...
Spring seems to be progressing quite nicely in the Northern Hemisphere. Beautiful spring clothes are blooming on all the blogs I love. There are sweet Easter dresses
on Aesthetic Nest, Jessica at Me Sew Crazy has created three (!) very sweet spring collections
for some special little girls in her life, and Jess at Craftiness is Not Optional has been making some gorgeous warmer weather clothes
.I can not complain about Sydney weather right now. We have had some magical days recently - no longer hot, but brilliant sunshine and the most lovely hint of Autumn.
My thoughts about sewing though have turned to corduroy and denim - winter stables for my girls. I do love making them winter clothes but there is something really special about the gloriously bright, happy prints of spring and summer. I miss them in the cooler months. So I thought I would squeeze just one more Spring dress in! It is cheating a little because it won't be worn until our Southern Hemisphere Spring later in the year.
It is a gift for a little friend of Will's who turns one next week. I know Will is much too young to have any little friends, but Bianca is as close as you can get. They share a birthday. Bianca's Mum and I shared an obstetrician and we shared (not quite at the same time!) an operating theatre for our caesarians. I was being wheeled out of the operating theatre having just delivered Will and Bianca's Mum was being wheeled in. Will is 45min older than Bianca. Bianca is my sister in law's brother's daughter - a little complicated there I know!! I imagine them many years from now, still being each others friends, maybe even helping each other out if they don't have that sometimes elusive date for their end of school formals!!And if I want to satisfy my hunger for Spring sewing,
I find there is no better project than a little girls dress.
Some very pretty floral material and a few inverted pleats........
some puffed sleeves.......
a little scrap of pink gingham bias to finish the neck and three sweet heart buttons......
all combine to make a dress that has allowed me to to leave the warmer sewing months behind and embrace the pile of corduroy that the postman delivered yesterday!
Happy Birthday little Bianca for next Friday!!
The idea of me writing about sewing room organisation is hilarious. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I am the most disorganised person ever. I know a lot of people say this about themselves, but it's really true about me. No really, it is.
My sewing room has finally come to fruition - it's gorgeous and light and sunny (and there will lots of pictures to come, I'm sure). It has lots of built in shelving, perfect for the big stuff- fabric, wool, pieces of felt, patterns and books.
It's the little things that do my head in, though, and sewing certainly has a lot of bits and pieces associated with it! Sewing machine needles and hand sewing needles, safety pins, bobbins, straight pins, bodkins, bits of bias and ric rac, sewing machine feet, buttons - the list goes on and on.
Take a look at the contents of my 'bits and pieces' box....
There had to be a better system!
Searching in the spare room (Lizzy calls it the 'messy room' for obvious reasons!) for Martin's shoes, I came across 24 metal tins that were the perfect size for all my tiny sewing bits. I spent the afternoon sorting and loved the fact that all of my things were neat and organised. But then, how to organise the tins?
I found my solution at Ikea. (is there anything you can't find at Ikea?) A magnetic metal board and some tiny magnets. Add some spray glue and some grey spotted fabric from my stash...
and voila - a magnetic bits and pieces wall storage solution!
I love it and it's inspired me to keep the whole sewing room under control. Does anyone have any tips and hints for a girl who needs a bit of organisation remediation?
I am a very disorganised person. I will often go and buy a new set of knitting needles even though I know I have the size I want, because no matter how hard I try I can't find them anywhere, or even more frustratingly I can find only one of the pair. So over the last few days I have been making myself a knitting needle holder - big enough that I will be able to store all my knitting needles in one place and bright enough that I shouldn't lose it (but anything is possible with me!)
So here it is:
I have seen patterns for some very snazzy knitting holders out there, with individual pockets so you can store and see your matched pair of needles in a wink. Getting all my knitting needles in one place is a big enough achievement for me, so this barrel shaped case works just fine. If you are ultra-organised and have one of those flash knitting needle organisers or you are not a knitter but still want to give this project a go, this tutorial will also show you how to make the little sister - a pencil case:
Just for some further inspiration and encouragement I should let you know that these cases are fully lined and that the lining is made on the go. There is no hand slipping it in at the end.
I also thought I would show you these:
Pippa's school bag
, that dreaded (!) heart shaped zipper purse
and Madeleine's Rapunzel backpack (that I have never quite got around to writing a post on) all use the same construction technique. By varying the shapes and sizes of your fabric pieces and the direction in which you place the zip, you can use the techniques in this tutorial to make a bag of almost any shape you like.If you would like to give it a go, just click on read more.
What do you get when you take five beginner sewists, give them four hours of help and the versatile Sis Boom Sophie Tunic
pattern? Five beautiful, totally unique tunics and a lovely morning of sewing and chat.Check these out!
It's amazing what people can produce with some time, patience, a little bit of help and a whole lot of encouragement from their sewing companions.
We don't often write about our sewing classes, but they are something that we both love and are passionate about. Obviously, introducing people to the world of patterns and fabric, sewing machines and notions is our major focus. But what we've discovered incidentally is how much of a pleasure it is to sew as part of a group.
There is something lovely about having someone to chat with as you work your way through a pattern, someone to share your excitement as you conquer a top stitched facing, someone to laugh with you as you unpick yet another wonky seam... and for us, this sense of community is what sewing (and we're) all about.
To Lyndall, Elise, Mary, Martina and Kylie - you all did a great job this morning and we really enjoyed sewing together with you!
Maryanne and Caroline
Isn't it interesting how our fears and worries change as we grow older?
Madeleine still doesn't like stories about wolves or anything else she deems scary, but ask her about sewing and she has no fear! "Mum, when can you show me how to make a zippered purse..... I want to make Pippi a quilt for her birthday, so I think I will ask Granny to show me...... I like your Japanese embroidery book, I'm going to make a pencil case with a Hula girl, a hibiscus and some sea shells on it...." Many of these projects are never started, let alone finished. However Madeleine has this quiet confidence that she can sew. It is not a scary unknown to her. She feels that if there is something she can't do yet, it won't be long before she can.
I think most adults have left behind their fears of the monster under the bed, but we often seem to have apprehensions that can hold us back. We feel that if we haven't actually been taught something, then we can't do it.
Take this picture for instance:
This is a pile of zippers. Yes, they do have teeth but they are not big ones and I don't think anyone has ever sustained a fatal bite from one. (Please, correct me if I am wrong!)
And this little guy:
It's a zipper foot. If you can use these two things a whole world of sewing opens up for you - bags and purses, skirts and dresses.
When I read blog comments and talk to people who come to our classes, the zipper and the zipper foot seem to be the monster in the sewing cupboard for many.
Many people think they can't put in a zipper but most haven't had the confidence to try. Our beginner students are amazed and then thrilled when we show them how to make a zippered purse in their second class. But you don't have to learn these skills in a class. You can ask a friend or family member to show you. And if you don't know someone who can help you, there are so many amazing resources on the web - pictorial tutes and videos.
What have you got to lose? An hour of your time, a $2 zip and some fabric scraps. If you are successful, you'll have a bounce in your step for the rest of the day and a huge new list of sewing projects you'll want to try. And if you're not, chalk it up to experience and schedule some time to have another go.
My current monster in the sewing cupboard is sewing cloths for myself. At university, I played around with board short patterns and party dresses. More recently I have made a few skirts. I have a long list of patterns I want to try but never quite find the time (read confidence!) to give them a go. I am willing to sew complicated stuff for my kids, but there is that monster growling at me from the cupboard when it comes to sewing for myself. I worry about the fit. I don't want to look homemade!
But, I have decided that monster has to go!! I am working on an Amy Butler Liverpool shirt and have pulled out the Japanese pattern books, in an attempt to make myself a large part of my winter wardrobe.
Anyone else have a sewing monster that needs banishing? I'd love to hear about it. Maybe we could help each other along. Let's not let our monsters stop us from trying new things!