Tag Archives: dr who

A long weekend

This weekend just past was a long weekend in Australia, in celebration of the Queens’s birthday.  (Which is amusing really as her birthday is actually in April.)  Anyway, it means a three day weekend, and who am I to argue the semantics of whether we should or shouldn’t be having a day off in June?  It also means that winter has started, and, more importantly for me, that the Handmade Markets have been held.

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I know that I have written about these markets before, and that I am a bit biased as a stall holder at the markets, but they really are quite fabulous.  The standard of handmade, Australian made, goods that are available is very high, and the diversity is wide.   (and to show that it isn’t just me that thinks so here are some links to media coverage of the markets! ABC news coverage, Canberra Times article)

I have been working flat out over the last weeks to ensure that I had enough stock to take to the markets, and that it was of a sufficiently high quality.  (Which explains my relative quiet here on the blog – I have been busy sewing!)  It definitely paid off.  I was very happy with the presentation of my stall this time (learning and refining each time I do a market) and with the bags and bibs that I had on offer.

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Making bibs for the markets

I had planned to make pencil rolls to take to the Market as well, and had left them as my last bit of sewing to do on Friday.  Until the mailman delivered a parcel from Spoonflower (that I had ordered 5 weeks earlier) and I was compelled to wash, cut and sew the fabric into bibs – it was too cute for words!  Needless to say – no pencil rolls.

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Very cute fabric from Spoonflower

Then, to top off an already exciting day, I had a mid-afternoon mail delivery of a magazine called ‘Love Sewing Australia’ which is a new publication released by Practical Publishing, an Australian publishing group.  Why was it so exciting?  Because a pattern that I wrote was published in the magazine!!  I was approached to submit a project back in January/February and prepared a tutorial for making an Oma tote (named after my grandmother, Oma) and a yarn bag – a pouch with holes for yarn to feed through so that you can knit or crochet on the go.  And there it is, in radiant colour!  The magazine is available in Coles supermarkets and newsagencies here in Australia.  I might have to go and buy a couple of spare copies!

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Page 22 of “Love Sewing Australia”

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The markets were busy.  I was on my feet all day of each weekend, with few exceptions, and talking to the most amazing customers.  I think that attending markets and interacting with customers is the icing on the cake for me.  There are so many wonderful people who want to talk about products and learn about them, and who are interested in what I can provide them, that it is really energising.  They were also so busy that I had to do a bit of sewing on Saturday night to re-stock in time for Sunday!  (Luckily common sense kicked in so I only made a few bibs, then went to bed – I was bone weary!)

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There were two big differences in my experience of the markets this time.  The first was that I didn’t need to call on my friends to help out with last minute prep, or set up.  However I did utilise my children.  The artist in residence spent time on Wednesday night attaching stickers to bags and cutting out care instructions.  Then on Friday night the eldest chick rode her bike to my house straight from school (while the other two were still at their father’s house) and helped all afternoon, and into the evening, with packaging, counting, cutting, labelling, etc.  Then she attended the markets all day Saturday and helped with the set up, and served customers.  She interacted with them, told them about the products, made small talk, and made a few good sales!

The morning sun made for warmth on a cold morning, but not for great photos!

The morning sun made for warmth on a cold morning, but not for great photos!

The artist-in-residence attended on Sunday morning but was a little shy and didn’t feel comfortable talking to customers on her own.  That, of course, was okay too.  She did join in a conversation with a lovely couple who overcame her shyness by talking to her about things she was interested in, and she was able to tell them that she is having a painting submitted for an exhibition shortly.  They were suitably impressed and asked for her name so that they could say they had met the famous artist when she was a child – and that made her day!  (They also bought a bag, so that made mine!!)

The second difference was that customers knew me from the last market, and came looking for me specifically!  That was a real buzz!  I had a great position on the side of the market hall, which meant that there was room in front of the stall for people to chat without blocking the stall, and they could browse without feeling they were holding other people up.  I was also interviewed for a TV show by the delightful Kitty von Tastique whose hair colours put mine to shame!  This is definitely not my best angle, or shot, but a selfie was required!

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The interesting thing that I am finding about the markets and my products is that I am constantly growing.  I am developing my ideas, my style and my approach, and feeling more comfortable in my skin every day.  Being able to say, quite honestly, “This is my full time job” felt good.

I also had my very first experience of someone being openly shocked at my prices.  Of course it happened when another designer I know, who has attended one of my mentoring sessions, and who also makes fabric bags, was at my stall.  I had just been giving her a pep-talk about how her prices were too low when a lady came and admired my bags, decided that she liked one, and then asked the price and recoiled in horror, thrust the bag back at me and said ‘Oh no, I won’t pay that” and walked away!  I didn’t mind personally but thought that the timing was more than a little ironic!

For now, though, I am back in the sewing room, making new stock for my Etsy shop, for the Handmade Shop, and filling custom orders.  I also need to catch up on my posts about my experiences in the Human Brochure – they have been amazing!

I hope that you had a great weekend too.

The first day of the rest of my life

Today marks a ginormous step in my life.  Three weeks short of 22 years as a public servant, from today I am, by choice, self-employed.  (Well I did hint at changes that were coming!)

The last couple of years have been particularly challenging at work and at home.  One challenge on its own would have been fine, but being challenged on both fronts left little room for respite – which is how I came to be in the state I was at the end of last year.  With amazing support from my employer I have been able to take leave for the first half of this year, to rest, recover, and think about how I want to live my life.  Having green fields in front of me has been an uplifting experience – I have sorted through so many different possibilities in my mind (sea-change, tree-change, runaway-from-it-all-change) and am very happy that I have settled on the right path for the chicks and I.  I am going to spend my time focussed on my family, on building my creative business, on supporting other creative people to reach their potential, and on living life in a meaningful way.

And that, my friends, is why I died my hair blue!  That outward expression of claiming my life as my own was a small step towards looking at how I want to live, who I want to be, and how I want to grow.  The sense of freedom is immense!  My biggest fear is I will get into a habit of slacking off and playing instead of working – but I suspect that my bank account will motivate me to get over any tendencies in that area!

The first step is getting past this weekend successfully.  It is the second Handmade Market for the year, and I am working very hard to prepare new stock so that I can have some wonderful selections on offer.  The new sewing machine has been in overdrive!  It arrived last week, and after a bit of learning, tinkering, adjusting, etc I am getting the hang of it!  I will write more next week to give you all the details and do it justice, but for now – some shots of the arrival and set up!

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Two very big and very heavy boxes!

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I did it! (All by myself!)

I have also been able to use my new teether bits as a result of the new machine.  I am very happy with the way they look, feel, and handle – so will be launching them at the markets this weekend!  I had a bit of a production line (manned by my staff of one – me) yesterday so have a good range of colours and patterns to showcase the new bits!

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It also sews leather and denim beautifully so I am working on executing some of the ideas that I have been carrying around for a very long time in my head!

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This bag is made from supersoft leather, with the fabric detailed flap. Sewing the leather was a dream with the new machine!

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Other exciting news in this very brief summary of an amazing week, is that the launch of the Human Brochure that I spoke about last week was extremely successful.  Since then we have attended a number of delightfully wonderful discovery events and started to get to know each other – and really I cannot imagine a nicer bunch of people to be hanging out with!  I will write more in the next week about the events so far as I want to do them justice.  At the moment I can happily report that I have a huge crush on a part of Canberra called New Acton, have had my eyes opened to so many, many, many wonderful things in my own town, and am learning on a daily basis!  If you are interested in seeing what we have been up to have a look at the Human Brochure website where you will see so many beautiful photos from my fellow humans you will want to visit here straight away!

Phew – this might be the shortest summary of the most exciting week I will ever write – but the sewing room is calling me, and the Market countdown is on….so stay tuned for more updates!  (and if you are on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, following @alittlebirdmademe is a great way to see quick snapshots of what is happening during this exciting time!!)

I hope that you have had a great week, and that you are also finding little bits in your life to give you joy and excitement.  Just remember – today is the first day of the rest of your life too.  Get out there and embrace it.

 

Busy Busy Busy!

I have just realised that it has been over a week since I last posted.  This is not a sign of disengagement on my part but of complete and utter busy-ness!

This may be one of my shortest posts ever as I am in the middle of a sewing frenzy!  It is less than a week until the Handmade Markets open in Canberra, and I am determined to have as much stock as I can for the markets.  The chicks are at their father’s house and I am sewing, sewing, sewing!

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Things happening this week:

– I delivered 36 bibs to the Handmade Shop and they are now on sale there!

– I am completely obsessed with repurposing denim jeans into bags.

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– I have the first samples for the bag kits that I am developing.  They need some tweaking but just getting started on it is exciting!

– I have discovered the joys of making my own green smoothies (lots of vegies and fruit pulverised into a drink!)  Will definitely fill you in on that once the hectic week is over!

– The chicks are all well and busy and calm!  (Freaky but true!)

– My house looks like a thread factory exploded

– I have shattered (not snapped!) two needles – one on my sewing machine and one on my overlocker.

– I have worn a blister on my knuckle through using scissors on denim and canvas.  (How do I know this is the cause?  Because every time I pick up the scissors I remember that it is there when it hurts!)

– I have used 2 kilometre of sewing cotton in the last 10 days.  I have used 4 kms in the last 6 weeks.

– I have realised that I need to set up an easy way for people to arrange custom orders with me.  My brain is ticking over the options as I sew!

Am I having fun though?  Yes!  Yes, a thousand times yes!

I hope that your week is full of creative fun (although perhaps not quite as much craziness as mine!)

 

 

Ticking things off the list

The big news in the nest today is the rain.  Yes!  It has finally rained!  Our water tank is full, the garden is starting to look a bit green, the air is damp, and everything feels cleaner.  After long, hot, dry weeks everything, including the air, was starting to feel dusty, so this clean dampness is a joy!

The eldest chick’s birthday celebrations went off very well on Friday.  In the end I made her a cross body bag using Dr Who fabric, a Dr Who pillowcase, and gave her the pouch that I provided the tutorial on, with some beautiful face care products made by a very talented creative friend, Kyoko, who makes all the lovely things at So Soap.

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Add in a Lego present, and a light for her bike and she was a very happy eleven year old.  By way of a party I took her and four of her friends to a trendy café/pizza place/bar for dinner last night.  Luckily one of the mothers, who is a friend of mine, chose to stay so I had company while the 5 girls giggled and acted sophisticated, and then acted like children, and generally had a great time!  One of her friends always gives her excellent presents – either handmade by her mother (a very crafty friend of mine) or books.  This year it was a new series of books that already have the eldest chick lost with her nose deep in the pages, so that was a success!  Another present she got was just perfect.  Great friends of ours taught her to play Yahtzee over the holidays, so when they saw a Dr Who Yahtzee set, it had her name written all over it.  She very happily taught the boy to play it this morning and declared it the best game ever!

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By working away in my sewing room I have managed to complete the 6 bags that I cut out and prepared a week ago.  (I am trying not to dwell on the fact that it took me a week to make 6 bags…..).  I complicated things by putting in zipped inner pockets, wide bases that needed stability added, etc.  I also complicated things by managing, on three bags in a row, to sew things together upside down…….  I am sure that there is a message in there for me – just not sure what!  After 6 messenger style bags in a row I think it is time for something different this week.  (Now to work out what it is!)

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I have also made some business decisions in the last few days.  After going through a great process of deciding that the bibs that I have been sewing are not ‘within scope’ and therefore I will only make them to be sold by another website I have done a complete about face when presented with an opportunity too good to miss.  Here in Canberra we have the Handmade Shop, where everything in the shop is handmade within Australia.  It has always been part of my long term plan to apply to stock my bags in there, but I am not at that point yet.  However they recently called for a new designer bib maker to apply to stock their shop, and a friend of mine tagged me in the Facebook page.  Cutting a convoluted story short, a few days later I applied, and was accepted the same day, so will be stocking bibs there from 1 March!  What a fabulous excuse to buy more gorgeous children’s prints!

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The second decision was that I needed to improve my record keeping and inventory control, particularly for attending markets, and if I am going to have stock sitting in shops, or on other websites.  A recommendation from a creative colleague pointed me to a great program – and it can be used on an ipad, including producing and then scanning barcodes (it is Vend, if you are interested).  What does this mean, I hear you ask?  That this provided sufficient justification to purchase a new iPad Air.  (I was an early adopter of the first iPad but hadn’t upgraded since, and the absence of a camera meant that it wasn’t much use for inventory etc.  That is my excuse and I am sticking to it!)   So now I can look all professional and keep track of my products instead of looking at my storage boxes in confusion!

On the home front, the chicks all had a great week at their schools.  Given the drama, trauma, and crises of the last two years with the boy attending school, being able to write that first sentence is such a relief.  I am eternally optimistic, so hope that it continues (but am realistic enough to know that the future is unpredictable.)

With only 3 weeks until the Handmade Markets I am hitting the panic button a bit, so hope to get a lot of sewing done this week.  I was going around in circles tonight, wondering what to do next when I remembered my bicycle applique from the last post.  So here it is, appliqued onto some canvas, ready to be made into a canvas satchel!

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I think I might have to break up the sewing for the week with experimenting with a few new applique templates!

I hope that you have had a great weekend, and that your week ahead is full of fun experiments.  What are you looking forward to most this week?

Friday finds – a tutorial for a repurposed denim pouch, and other ideas for DIY tween birthday gifts

Continuing my theme of preparing a post here in order to work out what I will make for my chicks, the flavour for today’s list of suggestions and links is the tween girl.  My eldest chick is turning 11 this week, and is right in that middle stage– not quite a teenager, but not a young child.  She still loves playing imaginary games, but also enjoys Dr Who.  She is happy playing with younger children, but is keen to wear makeup and listen to her own style of music.  She is finding her feet as a leader at school, in the last year of primary school, and starting to think about high school, boys, and relationships in a very different way.  This can make it hard to find gifts that aren’t too young for her, but that aren’t too old for her.  I don’t want to push her to grow up, but I want to give her the freedom to do it at her own pace.

With all of that in mind I am starting this list with a tutorial that is great for many ages, but particularly good for the ‘tween-agers in your life!  A list of other suggestions and links follows at the end.

 

 Repurposed Denim Zipped pouch – tutorial.

Zipped pouches can be used for so many things including for holding iPods, chargers and earphones, for pencil cases, for carrying the little toys that are still attractive to this age group (tiny cutesy miniature things that hurt parents a lot when they are stood on in the middle of the night), for feminine hygiene products (yes – they are starting to grow up), for makeup or for hair-ties, hairclips, etc.  You can make them using cotton, laminated cotton, or repurposed jeans (my newest addiction!).

This tutorial produces a zipped pouch that is 8” x 5” using repurposed denim.

Repurposed Denim Pouch

Materials

One pair of used denim jeans (well – actually one small part of a pair of denim jeans – the bottom of one leg, or the seat and a bit of the thigh is enough!)

Cotton for lining – a piece 17” x 5 ½” – cut into two pieces 8 1/2″ x 5 1/2″

Zipper that is longer than 8 ½”

Optional – small piece fusible fleece (for more body use Vilene H640, for less use Vilene H630).

 

Repurposing old denim jeans

To make this pouch you will need two squares of denim 8 ½” x 5 ½”.  There are several easy places to salvage this much denim from – it will depend on where your jeans are most worn.  The bottom of the legs, below the knee and above the hem tends to yield the best quality denim, but I am also partial to including a back pocket as a pocket on the outside of the pouch that can be used as a pocket on the pouch.  If the fabric around the pocket is a little worn, then some fusible interfacing can assist to provide some added stability to the fabric.

If you want to add some padding to the pouch, then follow the directions for the fusible fleece and adhere it to the wrong side of the denim before you start sewing..  I recommend cutting your piece ½” smaller than the denim (i.e.  8” x 5”) so that your seams aren’t too bulky.

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  1. To insert the zip it is useful, but not necessary, to use a zip foot.   Take your first square of denim and place it face down on top of the zip so that the top edge of the fabric lines up with the top edge of the zip.  The right side of the zip and the right side of the fabric will be facing each other.  Ensure that the zip ends overhang the fabric on each side.  Then take one piece of your lining fabric and place it on the other side of the zip, with the right side facing the right side of the denim.  This is often described as a zip sandwich.  Pin the three pieces together and then stitch along the top edge ¼” from the edge.

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2.  Flip the fabric back so that the right side of the denim is now facing up and the right side of the lining is facing down.  Repeat the same step with the second piece of denim fabric and the lining fabric on the other side of the zip, making sure that the sides of the pieces line up with the fabric already attached to the zip.  (NB – if you are using a pocket from the jeans, make sure that the top of the pocket is nearest to the zip seam!  It may also be a bit bulky so be prepared to ease the fabric under the foot.)

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3.  Denim is quite heavy, so you can either finger press, or use an iron to press the top and bottom pieces so that they sit flat along the zip.  The next step is optional but I recommend top stitching along the edges of the zip to stop the lining getting caught in the zip down the track.  To do this measure one inch from the edge of the fabric, and then top-stitch a line along the edge of the seam and stop one inch from the other end.  (Starting and stopping before the edge of the fabric enables you to sew the pouch sides together with relative ease.)  Repeat this on the other side of the zip, matching the start and finish points.

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4.  Before you sew the sides of the pouch, open the zipper at least half way so that the zip pull is in the middle of the zip.  Then put the right sides of the lining together and match up the edges, and the right sides of the denim together and match up their edges.    Pin the zip so that the teeth of the zip are facing towards the outer fabric when you are pinning it in place.

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5.  You will leave a gap in the side of the lining to turn the bag in the right way, so start your seam about an inch below the zip on the lining, and sew around the edge of the pouch, until you reach the bottom of the same side of the lining.  When you are sewing across the seam and zip where the lining and the outer fabrics join, you will need to open the edges of the fabric to compensate for the top stitching that you did earlier along the zip.

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Leaving a gap of about 3 inches will allow you to turn the pouch inside out.  Open up the seam on the side so that you are sewing the fabric without it being caught by the top stitching near the zip.

6.  Once you have sewn the edges of the pouch, clip the corners, and then clip the excess fabric around the zip, so that the long ends are cut off and the bulk of the fabric next to the seam is removed.  Be careful not to cut the stitching and consider applying an extra row of stitching as reinforcement here.

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Clipping the seam where the zip ends helps reduce bulk.

7.  Turn your pouch inside out, so that the denim is facing out and the lining is tucked in the pouch.  Make sure that your corners are pushed out properly, and ensure that your zip corners are pushed up properly.   Then either handstitch the side seam in the pouch closed or use your machine to stitch a line to close it.

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8.  Sit back and admire your handiwork.  Take a photo and, if you post it to instagram, tag it #alittlebirdmademe so that I can admire it too!!

9.  Of course you could also appliqué the ‘plain side’, or use different fabric.  The options are endless!  (Wish I had thought of the appliqué before I finished.  Might have to make another one now!!)

Other suggestions for DIY  ‘tween gifts.

Bags of all shapes and sizes!

Personalised duffel bag

You might recall that last year I made the eldest chick a weekender bag from Dr Who fabric.  It continues to get much use and be a big hit.  This free tutorial from Jembellish for a personalised duffle bag is another alternative to this.

Cross body bag

This style of bag is just right for a tween – sophisticated and yet not overdone – perfect for taking when they are going to a friend’s house, to the shops, or out to a cafe!  And I just happen to have a tutorial to make one here on my site – Tutorial for cross body bag

Wallet

My eldest chick seems to be quite good at saving her money to use for special purchases, but is carrying around a very small coin purse that likes to pop open and empty it’s contents into whatever bag it is carried in.  Maybe I need to make one of the wallets designed by Color Me Domestic!

Dr Who pouch

The eldest chick is a big Dr Who fan.  If I was to present her with one of the pieced pouches generously shared by Flying Blind on a Rocket Cycle showing a Tardis, I could well be voted best mother of the year.  (I won’t have time to do it this year but will need to keep reminding myself about it for another big occasion!)

 Clothing

The tweens I know are starting to develop their own fashion style – recognising what they like to wear and what makes them feel good.  Making something to encourage or complement that style will always go down well.  The following tutorials provide a lot of inspiration!

Sewing Like Mad – How to draft and custom fit a skirt pattern

Polkadot Chair – Fat Quarter Skirt Tutorial

Mama says sew – The Capri top

Make it Love it – Knit Scarf

Ruffles and Stuff – Easy ruffled t-shirt scarf

Scrap hacker – DiY Sneakers  This has a list of ideas for decorating your own sneakers.  Another option is to give the tween a pair of blank sneakers and a packet of fabric markers (I like the retro bright set by Sharpie) and let them decorate their own!

Martha Stewart – Reversible Hat

I heart Naptime – Infinity scarf

Decor

Being able to move away from the decor of childhood to a more grown up decor is all part of being a tween.  Gifts that can assist with this include posters, new doona covers and curtains, and things that personalise their room.   This link has a tutorial for basic bunting – using fabric that is personal to the tween, or adding their name can make it personalised for them.

http://www.craftaholicsanonymous.net/how-to-make-a-fabric-banner-tutorial

I have already collected a fair assortment of free tutorials for cushions and pillowcases, and added two of my own.  Adding these to a tween’s room is another inexpensive and easy way to jazz up and personalise their decor!  Tutorials for cushions and pillowcases, Pillowcase from fat quarters with an iPod pocket and A PDF tutorial on making a buttoned-back envelope cushion cover are all here on the site ready to inspire you!

 

Jewellery

Tween chicks are starting to express their individuality through their choice of accessories too, so these links provide great inspiration of ways to make jewellery for them.

Coupons Are Great – Create Lego earrings tutorial

Scraphacker – Button Bling  This link has a great collected of linked tutorials on making jewellery from buttons.

Coconut Lemon Lime – How to with Deena has tutorials on making jewellery using shells.

Love this pic – DIY Cork Pendants This is an image that shows you how to make pendants by cutting up wine corks.  No tutorial but the picture is quite clear.

 

Spa wrap

That growing independence and budding sophistication means that  tweens are starting to be interested in beauty products and makeup.  A wrap for their hair is a great gift, and the next link takes you to a lovely collection of tutorials for making your own spa treats.

Eeny Meeny and Moe – Spa Hair Drying Wrap

Random Tuesdays – Handmade Bath and Spa Gifts

 

Other lists

A further list of ideas for tweens is found on the site The Childs Paper.  If you are interested in making gifts by recycling old sweaters the links on London Local Services  are wonderful!  Lots of ideas that could be adapted to tweens very easily.

I think I have narrowed down my options (particularly given my time frame of a week) for the eldest chick, so will show you the outcomes next week after she has received her gifts!

 

 

 

 

 

Testing, testing, testing

Although I am still focussed on making the bags that I listed in my last post, and have in fact been able to sew a couple in between wrangling children in the midst of a heatwave, I have also been designing and developing a completely different type of product from my norm, in response to a request from a friend.  I have learnt to sew through plastic, to insert plastic snaps, and tonight am walking around the house with wet pieces of bamboo terry towelling sitting on my linen top so that I can see how much moisture wicks away!  The things we do!! (Don’t worry, all will be revealed when I have finished my testing!) It is perhaps fortunate that we are experiencing the heatwave – doing this in winter would be dreadful, whereas now it is quite pleasant!

I have finished the blue canvas satchel, adorned with blue police boxes, that I gave you a sneak peak of earlier in the week and will take proper photos of that, and the other bag I am working on tomorrow, using my new light tent, but for now, as you have already seen at the top of the page – ta da!

My other news is that I received my photographs from the delightful Grace Costa, a wonderful and very talented photographer here in Canberra, who gathered a group of creative souls together last Sunday and took photos of us so that we could update our websites etc.  I have updated my ‘About’ page, but thought that you might like to see the shot that I selected to use.  (So glad that I went to the hairdresser that day!)

family portraits Canberra

I hope that you have had a good weekend.  Ours has been a combination of cleaning out and driving a trailer to the rubbish and recycling depot (where I demonstrated quite successfully that my ability to reverse a trailer has deteriorated) and organising the complex school holiday social lives of my chicks.  This week has temperature predictions reaching 39 C (102F) so I am aiming for lots of cool indoor activities to help keep tempers and temperatures under control.  Wish me luck!

I hope that you have a great week!

Making new things!

After spending far too much time fixing up my own mistakes in moving the website I can now return to focussing on the fun stuff – making things!  Over the quiet holiday period I have spent hours brainstorming, planning, right things down, making lists and dreaming.  Exhausting work!  As a result I have plans for more bags – some different styles, and some quite distinct collections.  (Sounding so professional!)

First up I am making a series of geek chic bags to replace those that sold out so quickly before Christmas.  Those blue police boxes lend themselves to so many different ways of being displayed for Dr Who fans!  I have also found some lovely police box blue canvas so expect some sturdy yet suitably geeky bags from that (perhaps even a ‘man-bag’ or two!).

Then I am restocking my overnight bags.  I have more of that gorgeous retro camping fabric in different colours, plus a few new ideas.  I will also be cutting out a few bicycle shapes to restock on cushion covers, and to start a series of bags with the handcut appliques on them – bikes, words,  and other images.

My brain is buzzing just thinking about it all!

So stand by for photos over the next day or so as I kick off my plans for 2014!

All sorts of developments

This week seems to be flying past quite quickly, yet at the same time a lot is happening. I am still off work so have been trying to focus on resting and recharging so that I can return to work on Monday. Of course this would not be possible without the support of my delightful mother. Part of recharging involves remembering to focus on just one thing at a time, especially while the chicks are at school. Would you like to hazard a guess what I chose as my one thing????

As a result a few new bags have been produced, and the cross body bag featured in my recent tutorial has been produced in all sorts of different styles and fabrics.
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I also discovered a lovely piece of burnt orange linen in a pile of fabrics I had been given, which inspired a new style of bag that I am enjoying playing with. Canvas and linen makes such a lovely combination!

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I had a mild panic on Monday, wondering if I am completely mad to think that I can have a stall at the Christmas markets, whether I will have enough stock, etc, etc, etc. Instead of making a rash decision to quit, I decided to lay out all my stock to see what I had. And guess what? I have quite a bit! It also helped to see that the things I am passionate about, and that hang together best as a collection, are my bags. All the other ideas – pencil rolls, pillowcases, t-shirt, etc, are fun, but I don’t have the same passion for them. Which was the first of several lightbulb moments I have had this week. I also addressed my dilemma of stockpiling rather than selling – I will stockpile until the markets then list the remaining stock online for sale. And I will take custom orders in the meantime too. Phew!

This also prompted me to get organised and accept that if I want to take this whole making and selling thing seriously, I need to act seriously. So I now have registered business, and a registered business name!! Oh my! I have also had the next light bulb moment in where I want to take this all next year, so stand by for announcements, developments, etc after Christmas when I will be completing my business plan.

Then, to celebrate all of this in style, I received my copy of the latest issue of *bespoke* magazine which includes a feature on handmade holiday escapes – and features overnight bag, in the lovely fabric by Sally Roydhouse, aka Peppermint Patty from Spoonflower!

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I have also realised that I need to draw a distinction between sewing for sale, and sewing for family and friends.  That way I don’t miss out on the fun stuff like making quilts or clothes, that doesn’t have anything to do with making money!  On that note I am off to make the boy a sun hat with Star Wars fabric as it is his birthday on Saturday.

I hope that your week is going well, and that you are having your own light bulb moments!

Friday finds – a list of Geeky gifts to make

While I was reading the Gifts for Geeks list of Handmade Holiday gifts posted at Sew Mama Sew I realised that the chicks and I like a lot of geeky things! Which prompted me to pull together the following list of ideas that I have collected for gifts to make for the people in your life who love geeky things! Our geekdom stretches beyond Dr Who, Star Wars, and Lego but I have stuck to our favourites!

Dr Who
Being a woman-of-a-certain-age I remember watching Dr Who in my teens, when it was a BBC production, when Tom Baker was the Doctor and when, having a choice of only 2 television channels at the time (it was North Queensland in the early 80’s) we regularly were in trouble with the nuns for being late for dinner, as Dr Who finished a few minutes after the dinner bell went. Now my eldest chick watches it and it is slick and shiny and has a much bigger budget, but the basics are still there! Time Lords, TARDIS time machines, travelling companions, and the occasional Dalek. Luckily the resurgence of it’s popularity means that there are piles of tutorials on how to make things for fans!

Although I haven’t had any luck finding ‘licensed’ Dr Who fabric, there are quite a few “police box’ designs available through Spoonflower that can be used to make great gifts, like the messenger bag I made!

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Dr Who snow flakes tutorial

Free Printable Doctor Who Stencils

Printable Colouring Pages – Doctor Who

Tardis Garden Shed – Build your own – Gadgetizer

DIY Tardis Bag – Quiet Nerdy Thing

How to Paint the inside of a glass ornament – Hey Hey Heather K

DIY Tardis Shoes – PS

Dr Who Sewing Kit – Craftster

Dr Who Free Crochet patterns – Moogly
Doctor Who Crochet Patterns - all free! Grab your hooks and allons-y!

Star Wars

Once again my age is an advantage in understanding Star Wars.  I remember going to the cinema to see the first movie.  We went into the city, and it was very exciting.  When the next two movies came out we were living on an island in the Pacific that didn’t have a cinema with proper movie releases (although there seemed to be an abundance of Kung Fu movies available to watch in a shed near the beach!).  When the next three were released I was busy with babies and didn’t see them.  Despite that I have developed a great knowledge of all the movies as my son is quite taken with them, and all things related to them!

If none of thesetutorials grab your fancy, there is a great range of Star Wars fabric available and you can use it to make bags, hats, skirts, pillowcases, etc!

DIY Star Wars Christmas Ornaments – DIY Geekery

Soft cuddly Chewbacca – Draw Pilgrim

Star Wars Stencils – Grrl

Star Wars stencils

Star Wars Snowflakes – Matters of Grey

Stormtrooper snowflake templates!

Star Wars Egg Ornaments – Instructables

Lightsabers made from pool noodles – Bit Rebels

DIY Star Wars Pillow – Craftiness is not Optional

Star Wars Peg Dolls – Pink and Green Mama

Free Star Wars Crochet Patterns – Moogly

Free Star Wars Crochet Patterns - Roundup on Moogly!

Lego

Lego was an important part of my childhood.  My grandmother would always bring some back from any trips to the Netherlands (there were only a few grandchildren at that stage – now it would break her bank!).  My mother still has all of our Lego and it has been used by all the grandchildren too.  Now my children love Lego.  They have the themed sets – Star Wars, Chima, Harry Potter, City, Ninjago, Pirates of the Carribean, the Hobbit (not ALL of them obviously) but they also have just general bricks and it is rare for them to use the patterns – they build using their imagination.  The tutorials below include ideas to store Lego bricks, ways to use bricks to make things, or making other items that look like Lego bricks.

Lego Earrings – Coupons Are Great

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Lego Key hanger – Felix Grauer

LEGO DIY Key Hanger by Felix Grauer in style fashion home furnishings  Category

DIY Lego Beanbags – One Artsy Mama

Train table to legl table – Over the Big Moon

Lego Ninja hat – We lived happily ever after

DIY Lego Storage Solutions – All Things with Purpose

Lego Cufflinks – Instructables

DIY Lego and art travel boxes – Repeat Crafter Me

DIY Lego magnets and necklace – She’s Called Claire

Lego Tray – That’s My Letter

Lego Spice Rack – Instructables

And finally – not a tutorial – but a lovely way of bringing all three themes together, this great picture from The Dalek Hugger

Stormtroopers and the TARDIS.

I hope that you find something suitable to make for the geeks in your life!

‘Right brain thinking’ preparation

Ah…..the weekend is here! This week seems to have flown by in some respects, and dawdled in others! But on a Friday night, slipping into comfortable clothes, listening to my music without complaints from the children about my singing (heathens that they are) and contemplating which of my collected links I will share with you, I have to say that I do love weekends! Two days of ‘free’ time spreading out before me! Ah the joy!

Before I start on my collection for tonight I thought I would share with you my preparation for the Right Brain business planning course that I am doing tomorrow. (The details are in the link so I am just going to share my thoughts on it here rather than try to explain it!!) I needed to ask some people who I trust for three words that describe me, and three words that describe my ‘business’. So I duly sent off an email to a small selection of my trusted friends and family. (And recognised how lucky I am that the list is so long that I had choices to make!) The answers have been intriguing to read. None have been confronting, but some have provoked thought, which is a great start to creating a plan!

I am also meant to be gathering visual aids to help me visualise what I want to do with my business. Hmmmm….. I keep seeing a lot of white in my minds eye for this one. Not so much ‘nothing’ as a lot of clean and empty surfaces. So I started to chat to friends and colleagues, and slowly over the course of the day I have started to add some colour to the white. I don’t have the actual images yet but by the time I get to the course I think I will have some good ideas to add to my visual aids.

I have started to do the ‘dreaming’ part of visualising… you know – what if I could do anything I want? What would my business look like? That part is fun – imagining colours, people, products, spaces, marketing……

As tomorrow and the start of the course draws nearer I am getting a bit excited. A whole day to dedicate to thinking about me and my business. What luxury! (I have also been practising saying ‘my business’ so that I start to think of it this way instead of just ‘my sewing’!!)

Other things that have spurred on my excitement over the last 24 hours have included one of my bags featuring on the front page of Etsy, and one of my treasuries featuring!  (Oh – and I worked out how to take screen shots!)

Etsy front page

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While writing this I have decided to break with my usual convention, and will add my Friday night finds in a separate post, so that this one can just be my musings at the end of the week and on the brink of a new adventure.

This means that I can share with you that I finished a couple of the bags that I started earlier in the week. I haven’t taken the ‘shop’ photos with great daylight yet (the perils of working in an office during winter – dark in the morning and dark at night!) but if you will forgive the use of flash, here are some images of the Dr Who bag completed!

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I can also share that the chicks are having a ball on their grandparent’s farm. Yesterday they went up to the snow and went tobogganing. They have been fishing, playing in the mud, helping with the animals, and generally having a great time. The middle chick has conceived a plan to build an incubator to hatch some duck eggs from her aunt’s farm. I think I have dissuaded her for now (given that we don’t live on a farm and already have 5 chickens!) but I love her enthusiasm and the fact that she had researched how to do it before calling to ask me. The eldest chick has called a lot, just to check in and say hi. So grown up and so gorgeous. The boy has been very busy and reluctant to stop his activities to talk on the phone, but when he does he asks “How have you been Mum?”. Just delightful from a 6 year old! I do miss them, but know that I need this time.

For those of you who read my post a few weeks ago about questioning my judgement as a parent I can share that the professionals agreed with me that that particular diagnosis didn’t fit my chick. The paediatrician then suggested that we explore another diagnosis and the school and I again completed screening questionnaires. This time round we were both on the same page. So it appears that we are getting closer to have answers about how to support my chick. Any sort of medical diagnosis that will affect your child for the rest of their life is a bit confronting. I, and my ex-husband, are focussing on the fact that we now know what the issue is, and what the treatment/strategy/plan will look like. And hopefully by identifying it so early in a young life we will be able to build strategies to get through life better than a later diagnosis. There are silver linings. And of course, I get to breathe a sigh of relief that I do have decent judgement when it comes to my children!

Have a great weekend! I hope that you get some time to yourself, to focus on you and what you want to plan in your life, whatever it might be!