Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The evil temptress arrived

And she brought me

peppermint bark
Every time I got an email from Williams-Sonoma advertising their peppermint bark, I kept thinking I should ask V to buy me some, but I'm trying to be good about what I'm eating, so I resisted the urge.  But a good friend knows what you really like!

See!  She brought us this for New Years Eve!


V also brought me a couple of books that I ordered from Amazon.
All Dolled Up - because now that we have two American Girl dolls, I thought we needed patterns, patterns and more patterns.  I have a few ModKid AG doll patterns, but I like having options.

all dolled up
And Metric Pattern Cutting for Women in case I want to get adventurous with sewing for moi.

metric pattern cutting for women

I hope you had a fabulous Christmas.  We are really looking forward to NYE this year, and no, it's not because of the bottle of champagne!  It's because our little group will be together again.  Our friends are here from Chicago, and the other missing piece will be up from Melbourne.  Nothing like good food, good laughs and great friends.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Snap! (and a giveaway!)

I'd been thinking about getting a snap press for a while.  The PimpiCuffs just pushed me over the edge of buying one.

snap press
Wow, I can understand why they are well liked.  The other night when I hammered snaps onto the first cuff, I sat on the laundry floor for 15 minutes.  You know fiddling to get things in the right place and applying the snaps.   With the press it took about a minute to snap the cuff.  Possibly slightly longer because I had change dies.


owl cuff

matruschka cuff

And while I was sewing the cuffs together (I messed up and didn't do them "in the hoop" as I stitched out both cuffs in one hoop and it was too squishy), I sewed through a flower head pin!

My machine really does sew through almost anything!

The owl cuff is for a Crafty Mamas friend.

The nesting doll cuff was going to be for a gift, but the invitation did say no presents.  They are asking for donations to the birthday girl's favourite charity.  I was going to do both!  But Col has said, "don't be that person."  So I'm following instructions, and now I am going to give away this cuff.

To enter the giveaway leave a comment.  It's that simple.  Giveaway closes midnight December 21 because that is the day my dear friend arrives from the US, and it's huge cause for celebration in the house of willow & moo.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Playing around with PimpiCUFFS

I couldn't resist buying Luzia Pimpinella's new embroidery design, pimpiCUFFS.

I knew Moo would love them, and I thought they'd make fairly quick and cute birthday presents.  I like to have a few options like this up my sleeve when I am pressed for time.

Mollie chose the Love Chirp cuff.


I stitched it out in the afternoon and then sewed it up that night.  In the morning Mollie found it and put it on. 

She's worn it two days in a row, so it definitely gets the stamp of approval from Miss Moo.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Untying is always a surprise

dyed olivia
Even though I've tied plenty of starry mandalas, it's still a thrill to untie them to see what my dyeing has created.

This dress is a custom order for a friend.  Her daughter had a dyed Quiara top which has long been outgrown.  Now her little sister is wearing it.  Her mum wanted a dress that was dyed in similar colours as the top.  And I suggested the Farbenmix Olivia dress with a mandala on the side.  Her daughter is getting to an age where she is becoming more self conscious, so I thought a design front and centre wouldn't be the best option.  I personally love have the design dyed on the side.  It looks the same back and front.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Don't judge the box

Mollie got this for her Hanukkah present last night.  She looked at the box and declared it uninteresting.  I told her that I bought it because I had one as a kid, and I loved making potholders.  I thought Moo would like it because she's done weaving at school.

So I put the first side of loops on and started weaving.  It didn't take long for Moo to take interest and then take it from me.  She ended up bringing it into bed and weaving while I was reading them a chapter from The Faraway Tree.   She finished weaving before I finished reading.  I did the edges for her when she was asleep.

rainbow potholder

Then today she started this one all on her own.  I finished the edges tonight for her.  Next time I am going to show her how to finish off the edges.

2nd potholder

Now I know they don't look as stylish as ones made up in some cute designer quilting fabric, but they work extremely well.  They are flexible and are heat resistant even if they get damp.  My aunt who has the most excellent taste prefers these potholders over all others.  Wonder if I can convince Moo to whip up a couple for our Auntie C?  Then again I am in desperate need of a couple myself.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Quick as a Fox

Last night was our last Craft Room for 2010.  We had a Secret Santa, and I needed to make something.   I already had some covered journals made up which I could have grabbed, but I wanted one with Luzia Pimpinella's Florafox.  I was going to embroider a fox onto felt, but something wacky has happened with my Florafox embroidery files.  It has broken up different parts into different thread colours like one side of the whiskers is orange and the other side is turquoise and they really should be dark grey.  The star bits in the pupil of the fox also have gone weird where each side of the star is a different colour.   Based on the picture of the design they should all be one colour. 

So I was starting to run out of time, and I couldn't sort out the thread colours to make sure that the embroidery stitched out correctly.   Then I remembered this blog post.   If you are ever lamenting the fact that you don't have an embroidery machine, look at what you can do with decorative stitches, some fun printed fabric and felt.   Total awesomeness!

florafox journal

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Hannukah

I grew up in a Jewish household.  We didn't do Santa.  No Advent. No Christmas.  And like many other American Jewish families we did Hanukkah with presents, potato latkes and house decorations. 

Truthfully neither me or the other half are into the religious aspect of any holidays, but I'd like to pass on my cultural heritage to the kids.  We asked the kids if they wanted to do Hanukkah or Christmas this year and they said, "Hanukkah."  I think this is partially due to Moo's very close relationship with Grandma.

So here we have our menorah on the first night of Hanukkah.

Great menorah, eh?  It's a circus tent with circus characters around it.  I'll try to get a better photo of it in the next 8 days.  I was trying to take a photo to highlight the burning candles.  The menorah was a gift to Mollie from her Great Aunt Roz.

The kids say, "Thank  you Grandma!"
Mollie received as expected her "looks like me" American Girl doll.  She was over the top thrilled even though she doesn't look it in the photo.  She was very excited by the earrings.  I wonder if she'll have kittens when she sees the kittens for her AG dolls that a Christmas Elf is bringing from America later this month.

hannukah1 mollie

Will got a roadway set that goes with the parking garage that he already has, and can connect it in with the train set. 

hanukkah1 will
I think potato latkes will be on the menu on Friday night.  At least with potato + fried, I am fairly sure that Will will eat it!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

She can't read

but she can felt.

mollie vest backmollie vest1
mollie vest stitching
Moo made this vest at school.  She felted the wool and sewed it together.  She's super pleased with her efforts.

And the reading comment is because children in Steiner schools aren't taught to read until a later age.  Mollie is actually coming along quite well with her literacy skills in addition to her crafting ones!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Blatant Self Promotion

I am not the type of person who is incline to blow my own horn. I am the kind of person who gets on with the job and just assumes that everyone knows that what I do is great quality. But if you haven't seen my work in person, it can be hard to tell from pictures. So I thought I would give a more in depth behind the scenes look at what I do and how I do it. My disclaimer is that this is how I do things. I am in no way criticizing or passing judgment on anyone else. This is totally about me!

For my t-shirts and knit items I mostly use Australian made cotton/spandex knit. It's manufactured here in Sydney. I've been using this fabric for a few years now. Me, Moo and Will all have clothes made out it, so I know it holds up with lots of wearing and washing. I really like the quality of the fabric and the colours available. The organic cotton/spandex knit that I dye also comes from this manufacturer. Most of the printed knits that I use are Hilco or Stenzo.  I do sometime use some knit prints from American sources like the dress I made for Moo the other day.

Wovens are more of a mixed bag. My white poplin comes from a wholesaler, and it is made in China. I sometimes buy wovens from Spotlight and of course, I buy European wovens. I also have some designer quilting cottons that I use. I personally find a decent printed poplin from Spotlight washes and wears better than some quilting cottons. Poplins wrinkle less than quilting fabrics. I love corduroy, and buy and use a variety. If Spotlight has a cute cord, I will buy it. I also really like  Robert Kaufman Cool Cords and the corduroy from Stenzo and Hilco is fantastic.

I prewash and tumble dry my fabrics to ensure that you get minimal shrinkage.
I stabilise the shoulder seams with stay tape. This is probably over engineering for a child's top, but it's the scientist in me coming out.

stay tape in seam

I topstitch seams where appropriate. I do this for stability and sometimes as a design feature.


Because I construct most t-shirts in the flat, it is necessary to tack down the seams

seam tack down

I use quality supplies. Most of the threads are Gutermann or Mettler. I do have a few spools of Rasant around. For machine embroidery I use Isacord threads.


I buy good quality elastic from the wholesaler. Most of my embroidery stabilisers are OESD or Gutermann. My mother always told me to use good quality items because it wasn't worth it to use cheap stuff.  She said,  "why would you invest your time in sewing a garment to then have it not hold up or look nice because of inferior materials?"
When I sew items to sell, they are the same as I would make for me and my family.

I'm sure many home sewists like to ignore the labour. I have always under calculated it. I probably still do.
Many of the items that I make are multi-coloured. This has several implications.
  • I have to pull out and cut the appropriate pieces from each colour of fabric.  For a rainbow long sleeve Antonia I have to cut 15 pieces.  
  • If I cut a bunch of pieces, I have to sew them together. 
  • Each time that I topstitch, I change thread colours to match.  A rainbow Redondo skirt uses 6 different colours of thread.
Many of the machine embroidery designs that I use have a lot of thread changes.  This means that I have to hang about to switch threads.   And if there are appliques, I have to carefully trim the applique fabrics.  Hooray for duckbill scissors!

Peace Imke Love Bus
The large size of the much loved Love Bus embroidery has 21000 stitches and 21 colours.   It also has 4 different fabrics appliqued.  It takes me an hour just to stitch out this design.

Sewing on ribbons, patches and other bits takes time to get the right placement.  

And now as I analyse what I do, I realise that I rarely take into account the design process:  the picking of fabrics, embroideries and trims and the thread colour selection for the embroideries.

Why have I written this essay?  Perhaps it's a bit of a justification of the price and also to give some insight into my process.

All willow & moo items are handmade by me with love and care with the intention of bringing some colour and fun into your home.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

An insight into the inner workings

My mind works in strange ways. The other day my friend, Tas, posted a photo of a handbag that she made. Her adorable daughter was wearing a dress that she had made. I had the same fabric sitting in my stash and when I saw Miss M's dress, I knew I was going to make Moo an Amelie.

I had this red/white floral print Stenzo knit in my stash which was just perfect for the pocket.
amelie pocket

Mollie says the pocket is perfect for crystals.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Super Sweet Stamps

Have you seen Chantal Vincent Art? Chantal does beautiful prints and also makes hand carved stamps. I'm not sure how I found Chantal or if she found me.

I'd been contemplating these two stamps for a few weeks, and a couple of weeks ago I stopped looking and bought them.

Today I packed something up in an envelope, so thought I'd use a stamp to decorate it. I chose the peacock stamp since the only usable ink pad of Moo's that I could find was turquoise. Must go buy some ink for me because relying on the 7 year old's craft supplies isn't the best idea. The orange ink pad wasn't looking very orange.
peacock stamps

Very nice!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rainbow Wares

As I was working on orders, I managed to make a few extra rainbow pieces here and there.

The perennial favourite the hand dyed Rainbow Redondo skirt.
Pattern by Studio Tantrum/fledge
Fabric: cotton poplin
Skirts are hand dyed with fibre reactive dyes. They are colourfast and will not fade or bleed.
The skirts are stitched, overlocked and topstitched. Waistband is dyed purple poplin and the skirt is rolled hemmed with orange thread.
Price is AU$40 + Postage.
Size 7/8 which suits heights 122-128 (and a little below and above)
redondo 7-8

Size 3/4 which suits heights 98-104cm
redondo sz3-4

Pieced rainbow Antonia tops
Price $40 + postage
pattern: Farbnemix Antonia
fabric: hand dyed organic cotton/spandex knit.
I hand-dye pieces of this great organic cotton /spandex knit and then cut pieces from each colour of the rainbow to create these tops.

Size 5/6 (suits height 110-116cm)
rainbow antonia 5-6

Size 7/8 (suits height122-128cm)
rainbow antonia 7-8

Rainbow leggings
Price $30 + postage
Hand dyed organic cotton/spandex
Sizes available 3/4 (suits height 98-104cm) and 7/8 (suits height 122/128)
I will admit that I didn't take a photo of each pair. I think by that point I was tired of climbing up and down the step ladder to take photos. Sorry, I digress. Back to the rainbow-ness
rainbow leggings

Rainbow Star Mandala Silk & Flannel Blanket
Price $60 + postage
Tie dyed rainbow mandala on 12mm silk habutai which is backed with hand-dyed orange mottled flannel. Blanket is approximately 85cm x 105cm
orange star blanket silk

orange star blanket flannel

There's still a few more things to come, but that's it for rainbow gear.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Embroidered Antonia tops

Pattern is Farbenmix Antonia.
Fabrics are cotton/spandex.
All embroideries available at Huups

Monkey - size 3/4 (98/104)
monkey antonia front
monkey antonia back

Matruschka - size 5/6 (110/116)
nesting doll antonia front
nesting doll antonia back

Gnomes in Love - size 7/8 (122/128)
gnome antonia front
gnome antonia back

Toadstool - size 9/10 (134/140)
mushroom antonia front
mushroom antonia bck

Love Bus - size 9/10 (134/140)
love bus antonia

Tops are AU$38 + postage (same deal as the Imkes...once I list them on Etsy, the price will go up slightly)

More tomorrow. It's time to get ready for bed.

And now it's time for some eye candy

I had a plan.  I was going to make some stock to join my friends at the Lorien Markets, but I just didn't make it in time.   So I thought I would share my efforts.   I am going to break it up over a few posts.

I made some embroidered tops.  They are based on similar tops that I've made for Will.  I like to test my ideas on the willow & moo test team aka Mollie and Will.  Embroideries are Will approved.  Shirt pattern for all of the tops is Imke from the SCKL book.

Monkey - size 3/4 (98/104)

monkey imke
Embroidery by paulapĆ¼ available at Huups.

Supahero - size 5/6  (110/116)

supahero imke
Embroidery by Hamburger Liebe available at Kunterbunt Design

Little Devil - size 7/8 (122/128)

devil imke
Embroidery by Jolijou available at Huups

Fabric is cotton/elastane knit.   Price is AU$38 + postage (when I list these on Etsy the price will be higher)

ETA: The Supahero and Little Devil tops have been sold. Many thanks!