Baby Blankie and Taggie

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A few months back I attended a ‘story-telling’ themed baby shower for an old school friend of mine. I thought it was a good opportunity to try my hand at making something new, and after finding some neutral coloured fabric with vintage style nursery rhyme illustrations I decided to make her new bub a fleece-backed blankie and matching taggie.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with taggies, they are simply small pieces of fabric with loads of ribbon loops sewn around the edges. If you’ve ever watched a small child play with a soft toy, no doubt you’ve noticed that they are drawn to the tags, in the same way that slightly larger children tend to favour the packaging of toys over the treasure inside! New-ish babies love to suck on these silky satin tags or loop their fingers through them as their fine motor skills begin to develop. I guess at some point, somewhere, a clever crafter figured well why not make the tags the main feature of the soft toy!
IMG_6641 Here’s the taggie with loops of green, red and gold ribbon sewn around the edges:IMG_6644 IMG_6645
I’ve been wanting to add some sort of label or brand to the things I’ve made but I haven’t felt justified in purchasing any so for this project I used some wooden letter stamps (from an old letter press) and some fabric paint to create my own ‘smo’ tags. They’re pretty basic but I reckon they’re a bit spesh!IMG_6627

IMG_6628I can’t remember the exact size of the blanket but it was roughly one metre square, large enough to use as a cot blanket or for a bub to use on the floor for tummy time. It was a bit hard to part with this one, as is often the case with the things I make, but now that I’ve got baby number three on the way I’ve got a good reason to make another one!

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Vest Tee’s

These dapper long-sleeve tee’s with waist-coats have been designed for classy dudes with play and comfort in mind. Cute prints have been paired with funky denim to create fun, asymmetrical waist-coats lined with contrasting fabrics. The panels have been sewn onto the front of the tee-shirts so that they look great but are also comfortable to wear while bub is sitting in his high chair or car seat.

Asymmetrical Front: Dark navy denim, pale blue skull & cross-bone on white, and pinstripe denim

Plain on reverse side to keep bub comfy! 

Lined with brown/spots

Asymmetrical Front: Dark navy denim and navy with white anchor

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I was sad to see Austin out-grow this one, but with an array of gorgeous fabrics available the options are endless so I need to cracking on a larger size!

Please visit my store if you’d like a custom-made vest tee for your favourite little guy!

Unique Name Canvas

IMG_6502When my friends’ baby girl arrived recently I thought for a little while about what to give her. I’d already passed on most of Zali’s newborn clothes so I figured they were well stocked in that department. I thought it might be nice to create something unique for her room so I ventured behind my lounge and dug out an old canvas with an unfinished oil painting I’d begun almost a decade earlier. There were things about the painting I liked (which might explain why I’d held onto it for so long) but I decided the time had come to give it a new lease on life!

Using Photoshop Elements (a more basic version of Photoshop which is available for a fraction of the cost) I composed Adelaide’s full name onto a square the same size as my canvas. Once I was happy with the arrangement I mirrored the image and printed in onto a number of pages which I then taped together so that it was at 1:1 scale.

I chose some pretty fabrics and played around with combinations until I was happy that it was feminine without being overly girly or baby-ish. I traced the printed names onto some bondaweb and then ironed it to the selected fabrics. The next part was super fiddly: cutting out the individual letters! I used a cutting mat, steel rule and rotary cutter for the most part to keep the edges nice and straight and trimmed the curves with scissors. Once that was done I positioned the letters on the base material (patterned corduroy) and ironed them into place. 

To give the canvas more of a handmade feel, I embroidered the pink letters onto the base material using a running stitch in white coloured thread. This was fairly labour intensive as the material was quite thick but I discovered just how useful a thimble can be and I was also able to sew while I watched telly or conversed with the hubby! I also added a fabric flower to the top of the letter ‘I’ and some white lace to add a bit of interest and texture to the plain white cotton.

Finally, I used my latest craft tool – my hot glue glun – to attached the material to the canvas. To get the position right I used double-sided tape first and then hot glue once it was all square. Voila!

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The photo below shows some of the detail including the fine rib of the patterned corduroy, the white coloured embroidery and the delicate white lace:
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Narrabeen House Concept Design

In February 2012 I was contacted by a family who were friends with some of my former clients. Over the phone the project sounded interesting and the clients seemed extremely passionate about the existing house and their plans for improvements. Despite being six months pregnant and looking to wind down work rather than pick up a new job I agreed to meet them at their house and discuss their plans.

The site was breath-taking: located on the southern shores of Narrabeen Lake, a sloping, north-facing site with established trees, natural rock outcrops and expansive views over the water. The house itself didn’t offer much from the outside, but within the outer shell was a terrific surprise: an original sandstone cottage with an open fireplace, stone chimney and timber panelled ceiling. It was believed to be an old gardener’s cottage that had been constructed using stone cut from the site itself. It was an interesting piece of history and certainly a unique feature, but as it was in a state of some disrepair the client’s were in a quandary – should they restore it or remove it…?

Rather than make small changes here and there to suit their present needs, my clients felt that it was important to look at their house as a whole and consider the types of long-term changes they might want to make and then to plan for that in a strategic way. I was impressed with this approach and agreed whole-heartedly that it was the best way forward. I embarked on preparing some concept designs for them, taking into consideration their thorough brief, the council restrictions and the unique constraints and opportunities of their existing house site.

The four options that resulted were all quite different, each using the existing house in a different way but all of them seeking to address as many of the clients needs as possible and all of them restoring the original cottage. Here is a slideshow of some of my presentation drawings:

 

Appliqued Owl Jumper

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I’m very excited about this post because it’s my first completed craft commission! Upon embarking on this craft adventure just over a year ago I never expected that someone would like one of my creations enough to want to pay for it, but the proof is in the pudding, or in this case – the pullover!

A good friend of mine was after a unique clothing item for a niece of hers and asked me to come up with something. Her only requests were that it be a purple jumper with an owl on it. My first thoughts were to do something similar to the Dinosaur Hoodie, but upon digging through my fabric box and discovering some cute purple patterned fabrics I decided to try out a new sewing technique – machine applique.

I drew up my owl design on a piece of paper making sure the scale suited the size of the store-bought jumper. I then played around with the fabrics for a while to decide which ones would be used for each part of the owl. I ironed the fabrics onto pieces of double-sided adhesive interfacing (I’m still not sure what that product is actually called but it fuses one fabric to another) and cut out my desired shapes eg: wings, eyes, tummy, background. The last step before sitting down at the sewing machine was to iron all the pieces down –  in the right order – onto the jumper.

Using a tight zig-zag stitch I sewed around all the raw edges. It was fairly tedious, especially the small and curved parts of the design where I had to keep manually lowering the needle into the fabric, lifting the presser foot up, swiveling the fabric, putting the foot back down, sewing a couple of stitches then repeating the process over and over again! If you’ve not spent much time at a sewing machine you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about but let’s just say it was a bit more fiddly than sewing straight seams! Despite my complaining though, I reckon it was worth the effort.

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The final touch was to add a couple of big owl eyes. It’s a bit hard to see in the photos but I used fabric flowers which I snipped off some vintage floral material I discovered in my sewing box. I’m dreadful at identifying fabric types but I think they’re made of something like chiffon and have a white embroidered centre. I hand-sewed them to the jumper so that the edges are loose.

The little owl has a bit of a journey ahead of him because he’s flying over to England but I’m looking forward to hearing the response from his new owner (and maybe even seeing an action shot!).

Dinosaur Hoodie

3There’s something extremely cute about pockets on babies clothes. I think it’s because they make little people look a bit like big people. Babies live in a world where pockets are entirely unnecessary because someone else is always there to carry their stuff or put their mittens on if it’s cold etc. Nonetheless, they’re a cute addition to any item of clothing.

A while back I sewed a felt fox onto a hoodie with it’s head sticking out one pocket and it’s tail poking out the other side. I pinched the idea from someone else, but it caught my eye because it seemed fun that an unnecessary pocket could be used for something. Even if only for something as whimsical as a sewn-on fox!

The hoodie turned out quite well (in fact I found it quite hard to gift it to my nephew as intended!) and ever since then I’ve been wanting to make another one… for my little guy! While I wasn’t overly excited about seeing winter clothes already filling the shelves of my local shopping centre (good-bye Summer, sniff sniff…) the up-shot was being able to pick up a plain hoodie so that I could finally undertake this craft project.

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Without Austin being able to tell me what type of animal he’d like on his hoodie, I took inspiration from my favourite little guy on TV (George Pig, and his ‘Dine-sore’) and an illustration from one of our board books.

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Before cutting out my felt shapes I made a rough sketch of my design on grease-proof paper with the dinosaur sitting on the edge of the pocket and his tail wrapping around to the back of the jacket. I used green felt with a slightly darker embroidery thread for the main body, head and arm and beige for the spikes with a contrasting orange thread. The spikes are affixed along the spine side only so that they can flap around. I attached a couple of little buttons for the eyes and used white embroidery thread for the triangular teeth… chomp chomp!

If anyone would like to purchase one, or something similar, please contact me. I’ve begun perusing other kids books for inspiration and I’ve already found an adorable panda! Watch this space…4