A workshop

Today I spent a few hours teaching a workshop (of the continuous kind) for a few hours at a Craft Day where there were numerous wonderful workshops, demonstrations, and a few stalls selling handmade goods.  I decided to teach on the use of freezer paper to make stencils and decorate tote bags and t-shirts.  While those of you reading in America might be familiar with this, freezer paper is not an everyday commodity here in Australia.  You can buy it from speciality shops for a couple of dollars a metre, or, do as I did, and have a friend who is travelling to the United States purchase a roll from a supermarket!

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The workshop was fun.  The fox stencil that I made last week was the most popular.  I saw it going home on bags and t-shirts in a rainbow of colours – red, orange, green and blue!

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There were other great stencils made by participants including a golden panda, a red toadstool, and a multi-coloured Lego Man that I didn’t manage to capture photos of.  Here are a few that I did manage to photograph!

 

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As always happens at these things, it was the people who made it amazing.  There was the little girl who looked like she was about 5 who was so incredibly precise with her paint – and so proud of her results.  The elderly lady with a younger woman who worked as a team to make a blue fox for a 2 year old that the older lady wanted a gift for.  The family who all made a bag each to be their adventure bags for the school holidays that have just started.  And lovely people to talk to, to share ideas with, and to learn from.

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The most amazing part of today was that I took all three chicks with me.  The boy made one clay plate, then sat quietly behind my stall with my iPad.  The middle chick made a clay plate and spent the rest of the time at the free stall for children – making all sorts of amazing creations with glue, glitter and coloured paper.  The eldest chick, who often claims to not be very crafty had a ball!  She made this beautiful paper votive house, stamped a delightfully cheeky card for her step-mother, and generally had a go at everything!

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They all behaved beautifully.  The boy left half way through with their step-mother, and the eldest chick left with a friend, but the middle chick stayed to the end and helped to pack up and carry all the loads back to the car without complaint.  It was very special!

I have been busy this week but don’t have a lot to show for it, apart from a fresh pile of bibs to re-stock the website that sells them too.  Between appointments for all and sundry, doing other parts of business like attending meetings and talking to insurance brokers, and keeping on top of the housework, not a lot of additional sewing has been achieved!  I haven’t made a bag for a couple of weeks now and am missing it!  I am actually contemplating making a bag for myself!  Shock, horror!

I am heading off up the coast next week to attend the Byron Bay Bluesfest – a 5 day extravaganza of musical delights (only a portion of which are actually blues).  This year I am driving up on my own, and although I am meeting the people I camped next to last year, and became friends with, I am flying solo.   I have nearly chickened out a few times, and decided not to go, but realise that there is no ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ on attending a music festival, so am going to give it a go and see how I fare!  The first night has Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros playing – a band that I saw live about 18 months ago and really, really enjoyed, so that will be a good start to it all!  There is an eclectic mix of artists playing – Elvis Costello, Jack Johnson, the Doobie Brothers, Buddy Guy, Suzanne Vega, Skunkhour, Matt Corby, the John Butler Trio….. and lots more.  If I can manage to get to even half of the acts on my wish list I will be happy!  And back to the bag making – I think I might make myself a bag to wear while I am grooving around on my own!

For now, though, this little bird is exhausted and needs to lie down after a big day!  I hope that your weekend is going well!

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Bibs, bibs, bibs!

I am very excited that I can finally announce that I have launched my new range of bibs for big kids and they are now available in my Etsy shop!  After falling into bib making earlier in the year, and making them to be sold on other websites and in shops, I have been itching to take the same idea and apply to bibs for older children, especially those with special needs, and oral sensory needs.  And I have done it!  (And I have also managed to finally list baby bibs in my online shop as well, so you can buy them direct from me as well!)

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Regular readers will know that I started making the baby bibs with a teething chew attached after a friend asked if I could design and make a bandana bib with a teething chew sewn in.  I agreed to give it a try, and after experimenting with different options (including walking around with wet bits of bamboo fabric on my shoulders to test their ability to hold moisture!) I came up with the design for a bandana style bib with an absorbent bamboo backing, and the teething chew sewn onto the end.  (I even worked out how to stop the sewing machines feed dogs from scratching the chew!)  They have been selling well in the Shop Handmade here in Canberra, and at markets and through a friend’s facebook page, but from the beginning I wanted to make them for older children.  This weekend the planets aligned, I had all the materials, the time and the will, and the first batch have been made.  (Can you tell I am a little bit excited!?!)

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 Little kids bibs

Having a child with special needs has introduced me to a whole new world of needs.  Although my boy doesn’t have a problem with dribble, he and one of his sisters both like to have something to chew on at times of anxiety.  With multiple holes in sleeves and collars I have discovered chewellery – plastic and or silicone jewellery that is designed for teething – or for kids with sensory needs.  It occurred to me that children who also have problems with controlling dribble or drool might also need something to chew on – so taking the teething bib to a new audience made sense.  I am also keen to make things that suit their age – because no 10 year old boy wants to be wearing teddy bears around his neck to make him stand out more than he already thinks he does.

Being able to combine my passion for sewing, fabric, research and children into one small accessory has been very rewarding.  Now to get the word out and let people know that they are available – and make some more!

Hmmmm…… other things that have happened in the nest over the last week or so……  we had rain.  Lots of rain.  The grass is long and high and in need of mowing…. soon.   Autumn weather is well and truly kicking in, with winter wardrobes starting to peek out piece by piece, and heaters occasionally being turned on to take the chill off the morning.

The chicks and I and some friends went to see The Lego Movie yesterday morning as a treat (promised since Christmas when it was advertised, and then we had to wait until April for it to be screened in Australia!).  We loved it!  I suspect that “everything is awesome” will be part of our everyday language for a long time.

I also started preparing for the workshop that I am running at the Mega Craft and Makers Day here in Canberra on Saturday (12 April).  Attendees at my workshop will make a freezer paper stencil and then paint their own design on a tote bag.  I thought that I needed a few examples to take along and show the group, so here are the two I made on Saturday.  I have about 100 more ideas to make, so will make a few more before Saturday!

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I hope that you have had a great weekend!

 

An early Easter project by my middle chick - a stuffed newspaper rabbit.

Friday finds – Tutorials for Easter Crafts

This series of posts provides a place for me to share tutorials I have found online where other crafters have shared their ideas on how to make handmade for whatever occasion, outfit, home decoration need that you might have.  This post focusses on Easter.  This has to be one of the best holiday seasons around – religious meaning, chocolate, cute bunnies and chicks, a four day weekend – not a lot more you can ask for in a holiday really!

The number of crafts available for Easter is, of course, endless.  I have collected some of my favourite sewing tutorials here, and have pinned many other links to tutorials for all sorts of other crafts on my “Holidays” Pinterest board if you are looking for other inspiration.

Cushions

I am not especially good at changing my décor to suit the holidays – but with cute cushion covers like these, I think I could be tempted!

Peppermint Patcher has a lovely tutorial for making Easter Cushions with appliqued eggs.

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Wolf and willow has this gorgeous pattern for a bunny pillow.

The 36th Avenue has this tutorial that, through reverse applique, gives you a pillow and a rabbit softie!

Easter Bunny Pillow and Bunny!

And for another take on a bunny pillow Ameroonie Designs has this tutorial for a Bunny Hop pillow.

Other Easter décor ideas

This applique wallhanging from Samelia’s Mum has no bunnies – but a hint of chocolate eggs (the well known by-product of easter bunnies!)

Over at The Split Stitch there is a great tutorial for an egg shaped mug rug, and at Hope and Gloria you will find a great tutorial for fabric eggs – perfect for using up colourful scraps!

Softies

All those cute little bunnies and chicks lend themselves to sewing soft toys – so here is a quick round up of some of the cutest free patterns available – and many aimed at the novice sewist!

The Sewing Loft has a brand new free pattern (only released last week) for the most adorable floppy bunny rabbit – an easy project with a beautiful end product!

Patchwork Posse have kindly collected 18 free patterns for making bunnies, and Prairie Mouse has this beautiful pattern for a felt Easter bunny!

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An environmentally friendly option of recycling a t-shirt into a gorgeous rabbit can be found at Chez Beeper Bebe.

All about you has an Easter chick pattern, to break up the flow of bunnies!

Easter chick

Teresa from DownUnder (not me!) also has some cute chickens to make.

Other Easter sewing ideas

Oh my goodness – how cute are these egg cosies by the Red Brolly??

 

There are pages and pages of wonderful ideas for children’s Easter craft, free Easter printables, delicious recipes and fantastic ideas for decorating eggs out there on the net – I have captured a very small selection here, and a few more on my Pinterest Holidays board.  My final piece of inspiration however, is this decorated egg by Red Ted Art - a wonderful site full of inspiring ideas.

Dalek Easter Egg

 

 

 

New Page launched!

Resource imageAnnouncing a new page on my site (insert trumpets heralding) – the Resources page!

Over the last two years I have researched topics relating to making, selling, selling online, blogging, and business for many hours.  Along the way I have found wonderful sites that share knowledge, provide guides, invite participation in a community, and support creative businesses.  This page now houses the beginning of a list to those resources that I have found so useful.  I will continue to add to the page, and will start to provide regular posts on ideas, tips and guides that I have found useful in my own business.

If you have any sites that you think should be on the list, please drop me a line (Theresa@alittlebirdmademe.com) so that I can add them to the page!

Now I am heading off to my sewing room to play with fabric make beautiful things!

Have a great day!

A world of possibilities!

Although the first day of April is traditionally a day for pranks and tricks, today was actually a day for celebrating some steps in my life, with no pranks in sight!  My bags are on sale through the Shop Handmade here in Canberra from today, and I received my first month’s sales statement from the Shop for my bibs (and can report that there were in fact sales – phew!).

Today also marks the first day of my long service leave, and the end (hopefully for a while) of being on personal leave (which is the modern public service name for good old fashioned sick leave!).  Although there is no real difference in terms of the freedom that I have, I have found that since I made the decision to take time off to look at what my options are for the future it is like a load has lifted off my shoulders.  I feel lighter.  I have been joking with the chicks.  We rode our bikes to and from school today because I wasn’t worrying about what time we would get there, etc.  I am breathing out.

The world of possibilities that this time off work opens up is huge!  I have already come up with a long string of outrageous travel plans that bear no resemblance to my bank balance – just to enjoy the dreaming possibilities!  I am thinking about all the creative opportunities that I have, and starting to map out how to fit them in.  And I am enjoying feeling that there are no rules, and that I can do what I want with this time (within reason and the law of course!)

The first big adventure is one that was planned a year ago, before life got so complex – the 25th Annual Bluesfest at Byron Bay, over the Easter weekend.  For the last few weeks I have been umming and ah-ing about whether I should go, on my own, and whether I would cope, etc.  But a funny thing happened as I wrote a message to a friend offering my ticket for sale to any of her friends….. I realised that the only person putting pressure on myself is me.  I sent a follow up email asking her to ignore the first one – and instead we agreed to catch up over a drink or two in the campground instead!  The line-up for this year has a few acts that I really want to see – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Jack Johnson, Elvis Costello, Steve Earle, Suzanne Vega, John Butler Trio, plus a few that I will catch because I don’t really know their stuff, and others I will go to see because I have never heard of them!  A good start to a period of freedom!  (And some trips to the beach for a swim in the ocean might figure in that plan too!) It all kicks off in 16 days, so my road trip will start two weeks from now!  Yippee!

Other smaller adventures over the next few months might include some trips to see friends, a lot of sewing, drawing up further and better particulars on some business plans (see – you can’t take the lawyer out of the girl even when she is on holiday!), and seeing what opportunities come along!

I have tackled my sewing room and sorted it out after weeks of chaos – jumbled piles of fabric, interfacing, threads, half finished projects, scraps, etc.  It is back to being a calm oasis of creativity and just what is required!  Sorting and folding fabric is such a beautiful way to spend time – it reminds me of all the beautiful possibilities that lie in those piles!

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Half way through making piles, with the sun streaming in to help.

I also finished the last of my custom ordered bags from the markets two weeks ago.  The young woman who ordered this one deliberated over a wide range of fabric choices before selecting this one for me to order in.  And her deliberations were worth it.  The fabric matched perfectly with the beige duck cloth she had selected and has resulted in a sophisticated, understated, elegant and practical bag for her overseas adventure.  I even managed to get 2 zips in it without crying!

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With the desk clear, my load lighter, and a head full of ideas, tomorrow is looking good for a day of sewing and creating.  Which is a good way to mark the 5 year anniversary of the day that my marriage ended.  This is not a path I chose, and is not the plan I had for my life, or the life of my children.  However I am proud of the new life and the new path that I have been able to build, and of the values that I am teaching my children.  Although they still wish that we lived with their father again, they acknowledge that their life is better than so many others, and that they are very lucky to have three parents who love them.  I continue to be thankful that their step-mother is so incredibly decent and has made an effort from day one to make it easy for me to have a positive relationship with her. (I also continue to be thankful that he waited until the 2nd to leave – imagine having your husband leave on April Fools Day – you would never be really sure if he meant to do it or not!)

Now I am off to brew another cup of tea and to go and admire my neat sewing room and plan my first project for tomorrow!  I hope that your week is going well!