Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Summer PJ's

Summer PJ's
Originally uploaded by sarabean
I can breathe a sigh of relief. This fabric had been sitting in my to-do pile for months. Originally it was going to be a nightgown, but after I received my Portabello Pixie Ruffle Pants pattern, I thought they would make cute pj pants. Also a fellow Crafty Mama made some for the same purpose.

The fabric is a nice rainbow stripey fabric that I bought from Spotlight on clearance. It wrinkles quite easily, so it's best that it is pj's. I don't have to worry about ironing them.

I found the pants pattern runs a bit small in the hip. Moo is of average build and according to measurements is a size 6 with the PP patterns. I though the pants were a bit snug across the back.

The top is a singlet that I sewed a ruffle around the neckline. I love my ruffler foot!

Outfits for Sam

Outfits for Sam
Originally uploaded by sarabean
One of my dear March Mums had an early arrival with her son being born at 32 weeks. I wanted to make him a few things because I figured her choice in clothing would be quite limited. Ottobre has a few patterns for preemies. These are from Ottobre 06/07, patterns #1 and #3. The turquoise/orange set is a size 40 and the orange/blue set is a size 45. Oh so tiny! The outfits were made from the same hand-dyed organic rib knit that I made some things from last month.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Tote bag

Tote bag
Originally uploaded by sarabean
I made two of these bags for Will's teachers at daycare. I thought it would be nicer than chocolate. I still put some chocolate in the bags though.

I've had this fabric sitting around for ages. It was never earmarked for a specific project. It was just one of those things that I bought during a shopping trip to Ikea. I don't think they are selling this fabric anymore and now I am kicking myself for waiting so long to use it because I'd really like to make some more bags for myself.

The tote bags are a copy of the green grocery bags that are sold here to use in place of plastic bags. Of course my bag is fully lined and reversible. It is also washable which the green bags aren't. This project was influenced by quite a few Crafty Mamas whipping up bags as gifts. My friend Milly has done a great tute on making plastic coated grocery bags.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Felty Goodness

Felt Hair Clips
I've been sewing little felt hair clips for Moo and her friends. I thought they would make a small, cute gift for some of her girlfriends. I've been having fun experimenting with different ideas. I love playing with felt. It's so forgiving, and it's just plain easy to work with.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Our first screen printing

I say "our" because I asked Mollie to draw an angel. She's been drawing these cute angels recently.
Moo's drawingSo I traced her drawing a made a couple of changes. We did a couple of test prints on some poplin then printed a singlet and a t-shirt front. I also did a bit of a tricky thing I printed the wings in a different colour first. I thought the wings would look great in silver, and I thought the angel needed some stars around her. When I printed the angel, in pink of course, she wasn't always perfectly situated in the wings, but still I think it looks good. I keep reminding myself that this was a only my first go at home.

Screenprinted singlet
T-shirt front (I still have sew up the shirt)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Screen printing, lunch, late!!!

Yesterday was an adventure. Around 11am I decided that I was going to buy my screen printing gear. After ringing to ask if they had the inks I wanted, Will and I jumped in the car and off to Leichhardt we went. First stop was the screen printers. All was good except that I had assumed they would have the size screen I wanted on hand. Oops! They had sold them, but could put one together for me, but it would take a couple of hours. I looked at the clock and though yeah, I can do two hours and still have time to pick up Moo. So off Will and I went...

Next I rang my friend Andrew to see what he was doing for lunch. I figured a drive over the Newtown wasn't too far, and I hadn't seen Andrew in a while. He didn't answer so I went to buy coffee. As I was standing in the coffee shop, Andrew rang and plans were made. Will and I had lunch with Andrew. After we left the waitress asked Andrew if Will was his son!?!?! This is particularly funny because when Will was little we ask Mollie who Will looked like and she said Andrew B! It's always been a little joke with all of us. Thankfully Andrew was living in Seattle when Will was conceieved, so everyone knows it truly is a joke.

Plans were running smoothly until I decided to cut it too close. I left Newtown later than I should then had traffic getting back to Leichhardt. I also had wrongly assumed that everything would be ready and I could just pay and go, but this wasn't the case. So when I finally got into my car it was 2:40. School finishes at 3pm and was at least 45 minutes away. I started to panic and I really didn't want to ring my other half to confess that I had been out lunching and lost track of time. So instead I rang a friend that I knew Mollie would happily go home with. She totally saved me and Mollie was so excited to be going home with her friends instead of me!!! Stopped by the house on the way home and grabbed a bottle of wine as a thank you for my friend. Then we stayed over there way too long in the afternoon and got back home at 6pm.

You know I only went to buy my screen printing gear...
In the photo are the inks, screen, and squeegees. The navy fleece and calico are for covering my board that will go on the table when I do printing.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Patchy project

In the midst of my hectic week I managed to make this skirt for Mollie. I wanted a project that was more than some simple little thing. Something that would occupy me for a few nights and when I was finished, I would feel a sense of accomplishment.
Portabello Pixie Analise Skirt
It took me a while to pick fabrics. A few of these fabrics I've had in my stash for a while, but couldn't cut into them. I decided this was the project to take the cutter to the fabric.

I also used my ruffler foot to gather all the bits that had to be gathered. I decided that if I had to rip out some thread, it was still quicker to do that and re-adjust the ruffler foot than to use the traditional gathering method. Plus the gathers with the ruffler foot are more even. I figured that on a skirt this full if something wasn't quite right, you'd never notice. Overall it was quite smooth-going with the ruffler.

I think I'd like a skirt like this for myself. Only problem is that I don't think it would be very flattering. Perhaps if I have some time, a similar skirt could be made with an assortment of dyed fabric. Thinking....hmmmmmm, will have to get the ideas notebook out now!

Rushing madly

Lately I feel like I've been rushing madly to do all sorts of things. I am not sure if it is a last minute rush to do things before Mollie is on holidays, or if I am just picking up on everyone else's mad rush before Christmas vibes. Overall I don't get fussed over Christmas. I didn't grow up celebrating it with my family. We did Chanukah.

On Thursday I went on a mission with a friend to the city. We just happened to get off the monorail in the same building as Kinokuniya. I declared immediately that we must go! What a beautiful bookstore! I just had to buy a book for myself and a few goodies for Mollie. I have to admit that it's much harder to browse the books when you can't just scan the spine of the book! Will was amazingly patient as he sat in the stroller while I looked over the craft books!

Japanese goodies

Monday, December 1, 2008

willow & moo goes West!

All of my current stock has been sent over to Fremantle! My friend, Milly, of Tin Whistle has offered to have some willow & moo creations on her stall at the East Fremantle Festival. The festival is on Saturday, December 7, 1-8pm on George Street, East Fremantle. If you are in the area, go check it out! It looks like a great day for the family.

Other exciting news...we bought the kids a Springfree trampoline.
They are loving it as am I. I'm mostly enjoying it because the kids like it, but I will admit to having a few bounces myself.

I can't have a post without a colourful creation. It was a special request from a customer. I just can't seem to say NO to someone who wants lil ol' me to make something.
You can see WIll modeling it here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Last week's dyeing

Last Tuesday I had a huge dyeing day. I dyed silks, dresses, skirts and muslins.

Silk Scarves/Playsilks

Rainbow Dyed Olivia Dress

Tie Dye Jule Spiral Hoodie

The Jule hoodie came about because I had some extra fabric after prewashing. I was trying to figure out what to do with the extra fabric that I had left, and I decided that a Jule would be quite cute dyed up. I love the spiral hood on this top. I left off the pocket detail as those kinds of things get lost with the dyeing. I lettuce edged the hem and sleeves.

Monday, November 24, 2008

So I began to sew

This is because of Nancy's blog post.

My mother sewed. She didn't sew lots of my clothes because for most of my early childhood my father worked for a small department store as a buyer, so we always were able to get clothes at a discount. My mom sewed for pleasure. It was her hobby. I remember going to fabric stores with her and looking through pattern books. My mom made my prom dress. She also made me a dress to wear to a friend's debutante ball which I then spewed all over after drinking innumerable drinks. Thank goodness it was after we'd left the ball. But I digress...

s a teen I began to sew. I only made a few things because I wasn't patient. Also a failure put me off for a while. That failure did teach me to preshrink fabric and to go by the measurements on the pattern for sizing as opposed to your size in RTW. I was really disappointed when my shirt dress didn't fit. And I had done all those buttonholes down the front!

For some odd reason after I moved to Australia I wanted to sew. I borrowed my mother-in-law's machine and made a skirt and pants. Skirt was great. Pants, not so great, but that was my fault...fabric choice.

My grandmother passed away, and I was left some money. I thought that I should buy a sewing machine with some of that money. Not that my grandmother sewed, but that she would have approved of such a practical purchase. I didn't sew much with that machine until I had my daughter. And strangely I am not even sure what made me start sewing for her because between me, my mother, my aunt and my sister, Moo was one of the best dressed kids around. I know the first couple of things that I made for her were just for fun.

When I was pregnant with Will, I was retrenched (laid off) from my job. It was a blessing as I was bored with my job and I received a payout. At that point I decided I would spend a year doing creative things as I knew I would be mostly busy with a newborn and had no intention of looking for a new job. I started dyeing more and sewing simple things like aprons and blankets which I dyed.

Then one day a friend mentioned these patterns, Farbenmix. She had seen some ladies on a forum make some outfits from them. She was going to order some, but only wanted a couple and since more could fit in a flat rate envelope, she asked if I wanted to get any. So I ordered Hermosa, Lunada and Redondo. I didn't love my initial creation, but the fit was good. The lack of love really had to do with my fabric choices. At that point I hadn't discovered the amazing array of fabrics on the net, nor had I discovered Klickundblick.
Then I subscribed to Ottobre, and my conversion to being a Euro-pattern-loving girl was complete. I had finally found patterns that were fun and fit well, and I've never looked back. Now I have a stash, notions galore and four machines.

Some of my fave creations
Laguna Skirt with Ottobre top

Feliz dress from Farmers Market fabrics
Ottobre Hug t-shirt & Misty skirt
And then I've had great fun with Farbenmix patterns and dyeing.
Tie Dyed OliviaRainbow Redondo
Tie Dye Quiara

I have even made myself a few things that I will actually wear. Thankfully Farbenmix patterns for women go up to XXL!

I have met some fabulous people through sewing. There is such a great crafting community.

And I am ever thankful that Farbenmix & Studio Tantrum allow the use of their patterns for individuals to make things to sell. This has helped me to support my sewing and fabric addiction.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

To iron or vacuum?

Vacuuming won. The floor is a much better place for it. I was going iron the things I dyed yesterday, but decided if I had to look at the filthy floor one more day, I was going to lose it. I really do prefer to work on my craft, but it had gone on too long. It is amazing how vacuuming the floor can make a huge difference!

Pictures of yesterday's dyeing will be coming soon, but I have pictures from last week when I dyed some organic cotton rib knit and some cotton elastane knit. The cotton elastane knit was an accident, but it was a happy accident. I've dyed 6 pieces, each one the colour of the rainbow. I have an idea for this fabric, but I have to find time. I have a market on Saturday, so I have been busy with preparations for that and custom orders from my lovely customers.

Here's the organic rib knit
Here are some shirts made from the dyed rib knit. I made a couple of shirts for one friend's baby and a shirt and a pair of pants for another friend.

And the cotton elastane knit

Sunday, November 16, 2008

And the winner is...

Wooohoooo Kylie!

Miss Moo was a bit perplexed by all this writing of names and picking one, but she was a helpful assistant. She even let me use the super sparkly pen that I bought her today at Mathilda's Markets. At the markets we stopped by to say hi to Ingrid and met Ingrid's lovely friend, Cass, who was sharing the stall. I have to admit that I went to the markets on a mission to see if it would be worthwhile for me to have a stall there in the future.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Silk Flannel Blankets

I started to write this post, but then I thought that I should dye some fabric to make some baby gifts then come back and write this post. First I cut the fabric. Then I discovered that I hadn't been paying attention and I cut the wrong fabric. No worries have a plan for other fabric. Then cut the correct fabric. Then set them up to dye. So now as they are sitting, I write this 2.5 hours later.

This style of silk & flannel blanket is one of the first willow & moo items. The first one ever made was for Moo. One side of the blanket is a super soft silk. The other side is nice and cuddle flannel. They are dyed with low water immersion to give that mottled look. I purposefully use pastel colours as it's soothing for babies. These three blankets were made for a woman who had purchased two blankets from me previously. I love repeat customers.

Here's the pink/violet blanket

Here's a turquoise/violet blanket

I also made a turquoise and blue blanket, but I didn't take a picture before I gave it to my friend. I was so excited that I'd finally dyed it.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

GIVEAWAY! Mamu Design Christina Pattern

Here's the deal. Leave me a comment, and you're in the draw for this pattern. It is brand new, never been opened. Truth is that I accidentally bought two of these babies. Rather than sell the second copy, I'd like to give it to a reader of my blog. I will post worldwide.

The Christina pattern looks like heaps of fun too. So many possibilities for embellishment and a super simple design. It is both a girl's pattern (size 74-140) and woman's pattern (size 32-46).

The giveaway ends 15/11 at midnight AEST. I will have my assistant Miss Moo draw a name out of a hat.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Felt Flower Frenzy

Done and posted! Four felt flower crowns destined for Spiral Garden. If you are in search of a fabulous toy from natural materials, please do check out the beautiful Bel's shop, Spiral Garden.

Goodies for me
Lots of knit goodness. Yes, it's only solids, but lovely nice basics. Although you must know that any fabric that is white now will not be when it leaves my house! One of those rolls is a nice organic rib knit. I'm a tease and you will have to wait and see what I am going to do with it.

I didn't photograph my other two rolls from last week when I went walking through Surry Hills with two rolls of white fabric in one arm and dragging a toddler along with the other arm back to my car which was parked in front of the cafe where I was meeting my friend, Ed. My lunch was good and the coffee was rocking. I won't rant about the person who parked me in. Thankfully the person parked in front of me left 5 minutes before I needed to go.

Next to come...I finally finished the baby blanket for my friend who had a baby back in June. It's not like they've gone without a pressie. I made the little man the monkey outfit, but I just had to make him a silk flannel blanket similar to his big brother's.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dye experiments

In Colour on Cloth Ruth Issett suggests making up a sketchbook of colour families.
It is worth giving yourself time to experiment with colour and documenting your trials. Sketchbooks full of colour ideas are always invaluable when you feel completely devoid of inspiration at a later date. Also, the actual mechanical process of mixing colours, watching the change from one colour to another, is all good practice, increasing your knowledge of how colours are achieved. The occasional accidental drop of dye falling in the middle can surprise you with a new colour combination. Overindulgence is not a sin in this instance: a diet of colour certainly isn't fattening and surely feeds the soul!
I don't know why I hadn't done this before. It's like I've figured out the mixes that I use all the time, but by not looking outside what I always do, I felt like I could be missing something special. I've started with 'known' combinations as a way to determine that I am actually happy with the green that I use or the purple. I also used this method today to determine the approximate mix of Red8b and Orange3R which make Red BG.

For reference I use Drimarene-K dyes and not Procion MX. I started with Drimarene-K. I know my colours, and they have awesome stability in solution, so I am loathe to change dyes.

I mixed yellow and violet today which yielded some interesting colours. Not colours that I would use in children's clothes, but browns and other interesting shades could be nice for trees or maybe something for me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Riotous ribbon and other bits

This ribbon and rick rack is for me. It was my little splurge when shopping with my good friend E. E is going to have a baby soon, so our special shopping adventures will not be quite as free and easy. On Tuesday we went to a pram repair place, Remnant Warehouse, a children's clothes shop in Summer Hill (My Messy Room...cute shop), lunch in Leichhardt with required stop at Mezzapica for cannoli. Then on to Peter Leis to investigate screen printing supplies. The stop at Peter Leis was awesome. Lots of great information. I didn't buy a screen yet, but will be shortly. I'm very excited about adding screen printing to my repertoire of fibre arts. And then finally we had to stop by Prints Charming to pick up my cookies cutters which I left there after the screen printing workshop. There is something about Cath and Kirsten's work where I just want to hang out in their studio. Their colours are just fabulous. So after distracting Cath from working, I left with two items for my little darlings.

We were a little late back to school, but I brought Moo's teacher a cannoli, so all was ok.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ta-dah Tini!

I stayed up late on Friday night and made this Farbenmix Tini top. I took it to the market and half hoped it didn't sell as it's Moo's size. And it must have had that vibe..."don't buy me" because now it's Moo's. I used more of my Farmers Market stash and a tiny bit of Ginger Blossom. I basically followed the pattern except that I decided to do a rolled hem on the sleeves and neckline and then shirr the openings. I was looking at a couple of Moo's peasant style tops and instead of shirring at the neck and arms it had elastic applied with a coverstitch machine. At the moment I don't need another gadget for my coverstitch machine, but it's a thought.
Today I talked to one of my very good friends in the US. She encouraged me to register to vote. Well, I thought why not??? Stop bitching and do something. I have found out that my procrastination means that I've missed the deadline for the Presidential election, but I've also discovered that I can register online. Well, if I was using Windows! Grrrr, is the American government run by Windows? What's wrong with Linux? So in the future I will do it when I boot my machine into Windows.

I would have loved to see a fellow Wellesley woman in the White House, but alas that was not to be. So I'm hoping that America is heading for a change...because 4 more years of Republicans is just going to mess up this world even more.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Random musings

Well, it rained on Tuesday. Mollie's school photos were not taken in THE outfit. Really it's ok because I wanted to make it, and I'm happy that I did. Today I dressed Mollie in this for her photos. Still mama made!

This Saturday 18 October, I am doing my usual market thing at Moo's school. I will be with the playgroup stall. I love it that way. No pressure to have tonnes of stock, and I get to spend the day chatting with my friends.

But I have this thing where I want to sew, but can't figure out what I want to do. I have 'work' sewing to start next week. I decided to start it after I did the market. Sort of like a clean slate, but at the moment I have lots of fabric, lots of ideas, and am also waiting for new patterns. Then again I have quite a few patterns here that I haven't even tried. It's not like I am lacking in resources. It's just like the right thing hasn't come together. And let's be honest the stars have to be aligned to that get that truly special item.

And then there are the felt flower crowns that I am supposed to make for a customer, but can't seem to focus to do hand sewing. Maybe I will get motivated over the weekend. Maybe I should take some felt to the markets, so that I can sew up some flowers or cut out leaves or something.

I think sleep might be the answer!

Monday, October 13, 2008

School photos tomorrow...

So I made Moo a new outfit for the event. I have had this outfit in my head for quite a while, and it was so nice to get it out.
Somehow I feel like I've been bitten by the Sandi Henderson bug. I will say that I have more Ginger Blossom and a fair bit of Farmers Market in my stash, so you will be seeing more creations out of these fabrics

The outfit is from Ottobre's fabulous Spring 2008 issue. The top is the "Hug" t-shirt #12 and the "Misty" skirt #13. The Hug t-shirt was easy to put together. The only confusing part was figuring out which pieces had bound edges as you don't add a seam allowance to those edges It just took a bit of thought. Oh and then there was that part where I forgot to put the grain lines on the pattern pieces, so cut one piece going the wrong direction. All was sorted in the end.

The skirt went together well. When I finished it and held it up, I thought that can't fit Moo. It looks too big. But it does. It fits. My girl is growing up. The skirt sits on her hips, but with the bound waistband, I don't think it's meant to be right at the waist. Astrid at Connecting the Dots made this skirt with an elastic waistband. I think it was a good call as it's fiddly to gather the two skirts, baste them together then add binding for the waistband. The main reason I stuck to the pattern was that I wanted practice with putting in the zipper. It's my 4th zipper...I'm getting better.

Let's hope Moo can crack a smile for her photos.

Farm Gate shopping

Moo had a playdate in Galston on Friday and on the way home I stopped at a few farm gate stands. And here's what I bought...
Tomatoes, cabbage, strawberries, potatoes, rhubarb and red onions. Everything was so nice and fresh. And the money goes to the person who grew these lovelies! We stopped at one of these stands the week before and had noticed the rhubarb growing. Moo commented that she would like rhubarb, but there wasn't any for sale. We were very excited the next week to see it.

For dinner that night we had chicken schnitzel with mashed potatoes and cole slaw. It was yummy! And of course for the big people had a glass of wine with our meal.

Nighty night

This is the first of a few...I won't say many as Moo doesn't need a zillion nightgowns.

I used an Ottobre pattern as a starting point. It's a lovely blouse pattern from 02/05, #11. I extended it with a bit of an A-line Then added a ruffle on the bottom. I have to admit that I really enjoy that bizarre looking contraption called a ruffler foot. The fabric is a cotton voile that I purchased at Spotlight off the clearance table. It was maybe $3/m. Not a bad deal for a nightie!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Being American by birth and having most of my Chinese food eating experiences over there...these are dumplings to me, possible even potstickers. Here in Australia they are commonly referred to as dim sims.
I love these things. And they have to be pan-fried. Cooked with a tiny bit of oil so they get crunchy on the bottom. Then they are steamed, and after the water cooks off, they are crispy on the bottom again. I am not a big pork eater, so I use organic chicken to make mine. This time I used chicken thighs instead of breast, I believe the dumplings were juicier. I buy my wrappers. I think making 90 pastry circles would take the fun out of it. Filling 90 dumplings takes long enough!

This time I used a cookie scoop that I had. It made it easy to portion out the filling. If only the kids were a bit older, they could have helped me make them. They are too little to be playing with raw meat.

They were totally enjoyed by me, Moo and my other half. Will was not sure about them.

The best thing about making 90 is that there are still some in the freezer for another night!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Farewell Feliz!

Today I farewelled the aforementioned Feliz dress. It hung on the wall for a few days, so that I could admire my work. Plus I just had to make up a little something for the new baby of the house before I could post the package.

So without further ado...
I was so pleased at how the back of the dress came out. I love the ruffles, and I love the bias I made from the coordinating stripe fabric. I also used the stripe fabric for the button loops and covered buttons. I hope the girl who receives this dress loves it as much as I loved making it. Oh dear, there is a lotta love!

Moo, of course, has insisted that I must make her one just like it. She may well get one similar, but not exactly like this one.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Comfy Tee

I really wanted to call this post "how now brown cow", but then I thought it sounded sort of degrading. I will openly admit I have a poor body image, so I'll leave it at that.

I've made this shirt once before. It's from Ottobre Woman 02/07, pattern #4. The pattern has puffed sleeves, but I just used a regular short sleeve from that same magazine. Lisa over at Crafty Mamas was having a competition to create something made from items purchased through her shop. Since I subscribe to Ottobre through her and I bought this luscious chocolate brown cotton/spandex knit from her, I decided to make myself a shirt! A girl can always use another shirt. And another shirt that fits....not that sags off of her. Plus this fabrics is so nice and soft. It's a pleasure to wear!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

New toy!

Janome in Australia is running a special on their CoverPro 1000CP (AU$499), and well, I just had to have one! I also bought the centre guide foot and a binder.

Here's the triple cover stitch straight out of the box. The machine had four spools of thread which I've just left on for testing.

Here's the binder attached to the machine
Here's what the binding looks like. The stitching isn't aligned as I'd like, but hey it was my first go! I was just checking if I could get it to work.

I love new toy. I wonder if I can convince my other half that I need the embroidery module for my sewing machine?

Oh, we finally picked up my cutting table last weekend!
The table is only open on one side. When I open it all up, there is lots of room. But I can also only use one side which is very handy when I am working on small projects. The table has also given me a bit of extra storage, so I've filled that space up with fabric, of course!

Yes, that is the Farmers Market Feliz in the background. It's waiting to go to its new home. Once it's on its way, I will post proper pictures of it. I'm having a hard time parting with this dress.