Sunday, 4 January 2015

Christmas Swap Number 3: Sweet Pouch Swap

And my third and last swap for Christmas was the Christmas Sweet Pouch Swap.  This is hosted by one of my favourite Aussie bloggers, Ros from Sew Delicious.  She runs a few Sweet Pouch Swaps each year, where each participant makes a pouch of some kind and fills it with some sweets.  This is the first time I've done the Christmas one ... but you know being absolutely into the whole swappy thing this Christmas, I thought I'd give this one a go too.  I love a pouch swap, 'cause it's a nice quick sew but allows for lots of creativity and a chance to make another new friend.  
I was partnered with the lovely Jess from Queensland.  She's a school teacher and when we were chatting via email and facebook, she mentioned that she'd love a largish (that's totally a word!) pouch that she can use to carry stationary and supplies around school with her.  Now, I figured that this needed to be an every day fabric, not a Christmassy style, so I decided to go with some florals for the pouch, but to Christmas-ify (yep, that's totally a word too ...I'm on a roll tonight!) it with some Chrissy sweets .  I headed down to my local fabric store and spent about half an hour playing with different fabric combinations in the fat-quarter section until I ended up with these four fabrics.  I liked the colour combos, and thought they were pretty and cheerful to use whilst at work.
Then I spent a week or so pondering a style before I remembered that my lovely friend Robyn from Sewing the Seasons posted about this pouch recently.  Robyn's pouch was smaller, so I just upsized the squares to make the pouch a little larger.  I loved the simple yet attractive style, and the cris-cross quilting just gives that extra point of interest.  Thanks Robyn!
So to make this pouch, I cut 6 x 3.5" squares from each fabric, and laid them out until I liked the design.  I basically followed Robyn's instructions to construct the pouch, which came together really quickly and I also used Ros' tutorial here about getting zippers just right, which helped so much.  This would probably be the neatest zip I've done to date ... zips still scare the bejeezus out of me, but I'm working on that.  I recently bought a bulk lot of 40 random coloured zips on ebay for $7.  My goal is to zip it on up this year and cure my zip-phobia ... so look forward to lots of zippy projects coming during 2015 ... you've been warned!
Oh and I mentioned previously that you'd see this design coming up in a few projects.  This is the Love Dream Laugh embroidery design from Melly & Me, and I'm in love with it.  I thought it was a cute little off-centre touch to the front of this pouch, and maybe a little inspirational for Jess while she's hard at work with those kiddos in school ... since Bethany started school I have a whole new appreciation for our amazing teachers!

And do you want to see what absolute gorgeousness Jess sent to me? ...
Yep, I received this lovely retro-style fabric pouch, complete with magnetic clip (well done Jess .... I've not been brave enough to try those yet).  I adore this little beauty!  It's the perfect size for taking some hand stitching or crochet along with me when Hannah starts ballet this year and I have a very rare 30 minutes of complete me-time while I'm waiting for her outside her class.  Just think of the handmade lovelies I can enjoy creating with this little pouch to hold it all together for me!
And not to mention the yummy treats inside ... OK, there may have been a few more treats than this when the package arrived at my place ... Bethany and I enjoyed a few a lot of lollies and a movie together while Hannah slept that day!
My favourite part of this pouch is the edging ... swoon!  Love it ... so pretty and delicate.  I need to find me some of that for the stash me-thinks!  A massive thank you again Jess, and a shout-out thanks to Ros for hosting this one too!

Anyway, so that's the end of the Christmas swap news for me this year.  Planning on participating in a few more swap throughout the year, but haven't decided which ones as yet.  They're lots of fun.  I have to admit though I've missed my little-girl-clothes sewing, and have already jumped back into some cute projects for their summer wardrobes now that Hannah's birthday (2 days before Christmas) and Christmas are over, and we're enjoying our summer break from school.  I've even got a couple of tutorials in the pipe-line, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Christmas Swaps Number 2 - Santa Sack Swap

I've been dying to post about this awesome swap for months now ... and it's finally time to share what Mummy's been Up To for the last 6 months or so.  It's a swap that I signed up for back in June, and I received my partner's details soon thereafter so that I could begin creating.  This swap is hosted annually by the lovely Cheryll, with the idea being that each participant creates a Christmas sack or tote with 5 gifts inside, the majority of which are to be home-made.  It's a great swap for anyone really, because there is so much time allowed to make the gifts.  It was really super-fun!  I was partnered with the amazing Tracy, and was encouraged to get to know her a little over the following months in order to come up with ideas about things she might like, ideas about her style / colour preferences and just generally to make a new friend.  I have to admit that I didn't make any of my gifts for about the first 3 months or so.  I pondered what to make, then changed my mind, had new ideas, and promptly forgot what I had thought of.  But Tracy made things easier with her candid blog about her life on a little farm in country NSW.  I love hearing about her veggie garden, animals and crafting, and I really feel like I've gotten to know her this year.  I'm a little jealous of her rural lifestyle I have to admit.  In fact, Tracy reminds me a lot of another friend of mine and many of the things I made came to mind after thinking about things my other friend may like.

Anyway, here's what I made and sent off for Tracy:

1.  An embroidered "Love, Dream, Laugh" necklace.  Back in September, I went along for my first ever Urban Stitches, run by the amazing Rosalie Quinlan, Melly McNeice (Melly & Me) and Jodie Carleton (Ric Rac).  I was extremely daunted as I've never done embroidery before, but was encouraged by a lovely group of ladies from my church together with my Mum to give it a go.  This necklace was designed by Melly, and came in a kit with a few other designs (two of which I made for my girls on the day), and a gorgeous metal necklace piece which fits the design perfectly.  As soon as I saw this I decided I would do this one for Tracy.  Such a unique jewellery piece, and so much fun!  You might spot this same embroidery design in a few upcoming projects too ... I'm a little addicted to it!

2.  Heart Coasters - This was my first ever attempt at reverse appliqué, and they were so much fun.  I followed a tutorial for these coasters here after it popped up on my Facebook feed one day, and I thought they looked interesting. This was a 1-afternoon project, and a really cute little gift idea.  I know it's too late for this year, but I think they'd make a fun teacher-gift at Christmas time.

3. An Organiser Wallet made using this design from LBG Studio.  I've made these quite a few times now, and they're always a hit.  Great to use up small bits of left over fabrics, and I love it in these cute blue, red and purple tones from this line of fabrics I found a year or so ago at Spotlight.  I think they're an organic cotton, and they're great to sew with.

4. A Gathered Clutch and matching tissue holder.  I used the Gathered Clutch tutorial from Noodlehead, which I've also made a few times before and really like how it turns out each time.  I used the tutorial here for the tissue cover.  I thought this fabric was just lovely, and I bought it from a remnant bin when I was shopping one day.  Perfect amount for these little projects.  I'm feeling a waste-not-want-not post coming on for projects using remnants or small left-over fabric pieces ... hmmm!!

Anyway ...
5. And a pair of these cute little hand-sized oven-mits, which I made using this tutorial. In fact, these were so much fun to make that I ended up making about a dozen of these, and gave them out this Christmas with some homemade biscotti to our families.  I love the size of these and once again these are a great way to use up those pieces of designer fabric like this Michael Miller that I just can't bear to part with until it's absolutely all gone ... waste not want not and all that! 
And for the Sack (I asked Tracy at the beginning of the swap whether she'd like a sack or a tote, and she opted for a sack), I used a cute little Christmassy panel from a piece of fabric my mum had in her stash, quilted them very simply onto some thin wadding and attached to the front of a basic drawstring sack made using navy-blue homespun. (Sorry I didn't get a good pic of the sack ... check out Tracy's post for a better look!)  It was similar to how I made these Christmas sacks for my girls, and I was happy with how it turned out.  Tracy said that her daughter used it this year for her Christmas sack, so I'm thinking that means it was liked!!  Yay for that!

And now for the other part of the swap ... Here are the beauties that Tracy sent to me:
Aren't they pretty!!

I received this beautiful red chevron and polka dot tote, with a gorgeous stripe of red ric rac around it ... it's like Tracy was inside my head ... chevron, spots and ric rac ... LOVE!  I also love the big pocket on the front of this tote, and I can see it being used and used for so many purposes.  Thanks Tracy!
My favourite gift inside this tote was this beautiful fabric-covered notebook.  How absolutely adorable is the Red-Riding-Hood fabric.  This is a perfect example of what's great about swaps ... The colours in this fabric are not normally ones I would be drawn to if I saw this fabric at a fabric store.  But when it's been loving stitched into a book cover like this, I can't think of a better fabric to have used.  I love it, and it's so pretty.  I will need to hide this one from Bethany who also loves it!
Tracy also sent a lovely patchwork mug-rug, with Babushkas on one side and beautiful embroidered words on the other.  She also included this fat quarter of babushka fabric (another of my favourite things ... great job Tracy!) and a cute little babushka hanging ornament, which my girls love.  Hannah kindly offered to hand this on her door ... such a good helper, that one!!
And last but not least, Tracy gifted me a beautiful hand-knitted dishcloth, which I love ... I have a couple of hand-knitted dishcloths, and I think they are so much better than anything else.  This will be well-used.  She also made a sweet little pin cushion, with lovely embroidery in the corner.  Just perfect as I have been meaning to make an extra pin cushion so I can have one at my machine, and one at my cutting table (aka the dining room table!).  This will save me from forever running between the rooms to get my pins!

So, all in all I feel extremely spoilt, and would like to say a huge thank you to Tracy for being THE best swap partner.  Oh, and a big thanks to Cheryll for hosting this.  I've already convinced my Mum that she should also join this swap for 2015, and am so looking forward to being part of it again.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Pattern Testing the Olivia Dress - and 50% off for Boxing day!

I've been at it again ... pattern testing that is ... and this time right before Christmas.  I just love to sew, and will even make time between Christmas sewing, organising Hannah's birthday party and getting organised for Christmas if I need to.  Who needs sleep anyway!?! ... it's definitely a sickness!

And this time I got to pattern test the gorgeous Olivia Dress pattern from Gracie May Designs. The pattern also comes with options for an equally gorgeous top, which I will be making for Hannah very soon.

The lovely Joanne of Gracie May Designs asked me to test the dress in a size 7 for Bethany.  I went to Craft Depot, raided their $5 fabrics, and found this gorgeous mint and cream polka dot.  The thought of matching it with the white peter-pan-style collar and some cute apricot glitter buttons and *squeal*  that combo absolutely did it for me this time round.  I got by with 1 metre of the main fabric (yep, this one's a $5 dress!!!), and just used a small piece of white homespun from my stash for the collar and lining. 

I found this to be a pretty straight-forward sew, and I would suggest it is good for the beginner sewer (who has maybe a few projects under their belt) and a fun and quick sew for an intermediate level sewer.  There are also 2 sleeve options, a flutter sleeve and a cap sleeve, but I decided for the no-sleeve option for my sew this time round.

Once it was finished, I actually wasn't sure that Bethany would like this as a dress, and had plans to modify it a bit into a top, but it turns out she loves it.  She chose to wear it to Hannah's birthday party last weekend, and has begged me to leave it as a dress which she describes as her "sensible dress", because apparently the collar makes it look very "sensible!".  Funny girl!
Anyway, sensible or not, a dress it will stay, and I can see plenty more of both the dress and top options of this pattern in my future.  If I had known it would stay a dress, I may have added a few more buttons to the back, just to keep it a bit more securely closed.  Just a little tip from me if you go for the dress option!!

Oh, and do you like these shots in front of the green wall in Bethany's room ... my new favourite indoor photo-shoot location.  We had lots of fun photographing this one.
So, for today (boxing day), Joanne of Gracie May Designs is generously having a 50% off sale on her website and Etsy shop for Boxing Day, and you can pick up this pattern, along with all her other designs for 50% off.  Sounds like a great time to stock up on some lovely patterns.

And as usual, Joanne kindly gifted this pattern to me in exchange for my testing and providing feedback and photos (thanks so much for having me Joanne).  All opinions are absolutely my own though, as I would never recommend anything I didn't like.