Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Homemade Lego Storage Bag/ Mats

Lego play mats

We are in the midst of school holidays around here and the favourite toy by far is Lego/ Duplo.

I have kind of a love/ hate relationship with the stuff. On one hand, I love that it stimulates both the left and ride sides of their brains, both logic and creativity… and lets be honest, I love that it can lead to hours of independent play time (hello extra sewing time!) BUT…. I don’t like finding bits of Lego E V E R Y W H E R E … and I definitely don’t like accidently standing on a piece! Ouch!

I know this style of storage mat/ bag has been around for a while, usually made by someone’s clever grandma, but recently I’ve seen a bit of a revival of them advertised online, made with really cool fabrics! The cool thing about them as they are both a play mat and a bag all in one – once you’ve finished playing you simply pull the drawstring to turn it into a bag, and you’re done!

I’d intended buying one but I’m a bit of a scrooge and in the end I decided to sew one.  (Which turned into two, one for the older kid’s lego and one for Pipi’s duplo – which still came in cheaper than buying one store bought one!)

Lego mat 3

I found a free tutorial here which was really helpful. In the tutorial she suggests measuring around the perimeter of the circle, however I used a bit of 3rd form maths … ‘circumference = pi x diameter’ to work that out. Yay for using high school maths in the real world!

For fabric I found a cool monochrome star wars fabric for Noah and Isabelle’s Lego and a brightly coloured chevron fabric for Pipi’s. Both are reasonably heavy weight drill fabric and for that reason I didn’t bother strengthening with interfacing as suggested. I used a cheap calico for the inside.

Pipi Duplo matPipi's duplo mat 3

I’m really pleased with how they turned out and the kid’s love them too! (I heard Noah telling Pipi one morning “See it’s a bag and a mat… isn’t Mum clever?” – So that’s a bonus!) We still use our cool Lego storage bricks too, now they house all those ‘special creations’ that the kids don’t quite feel like dismantling yet.

I can definitely see myself making more, and can imagine something making something similar to use as a picnic bag/ mat too.

For those of you also living in NZ with kids, how are your school holidays going? Stood on much Lego recently?

Jen x

Monday, 28 March 2016

The Katie-Pie Play Dress

deer dress

I have some exciting news - the Katie-Pie play dress, the latest PDF to be designed by Lydia of Little Kiwis Closet is here! It’s a gorgeous knit dress that while it’s very pretty, as that it’s made out of comfortable knit fabric - is practical for play too!

I made this littel ‘deer dress’ for Pipi during the pattern testing process. I should note that it was made rather early in the process (as I was so eager to get sewing) and Lydia, being the pattern designing professional/ perfectionist that she is,  has since refined the neckband, meaning that if you make a dress with the finished pattern your neckband will sit nicer than mine. (I still like my dress, but isn’t it good to know when buying a pattern that the designer has taken the time to get everything exactly right?)

Based on Pipi’s measurements I chose to sew a size 2 and made the short sleeve option with a plain back (see the side on pic further down, but try to ignore my overgrown lawn!).There are a couple of snaps on one shoulder for ease of dressing, but I believe there is also an option for no snaps. Likewise, this pattern also provides for a long-sleeved option as well as an option whereby the bodice continues around the back as well. It caters for sizes NB – 12 years, so there truly is something for everyone!

Deer dress collage

The sew went really well, and came together pretty quickly. As always, Lydia’s instructions were great and I’d say even an adventurous beginner could handle this (PS knits aren’t as scary as people make them out to be, be brave people!) I normally detest gathering (I never seem to get my gathers even), but this time I tried out the gathering by serger method (following this craftsy tutorial) and it worked a treat! I definitely will be doing that again!

I was hoping to make another dress while testing (and I have the perfect fabric too), but a bit of kiddie sickness and general busyness put an end to that for now (the kiddie sickness also put an end to a camping holiday, but that’s another story!) Also, in case you’re wondering why Miss Pip is not super smiley in these photos, that would be because she’d just recovered from hand, foot and mouth only to come down with a tummy bug, poor thing. All things considering, I think she did pretty good!

Deer dress 5DSC_0014-001DSC_0051-001DSC_0060DSC_0062

So hop along and snag your copy of this versatile little dress. I certainly see myself sewing many more of these bad boys, that’s for sure and I’m sure it’s a pattern you’ll love too*! (Also it’s on sale for a very limited time, so go, go go!)

Jen x

* [disclaimer: that is, if sewing little girls’ dresses is your thing. And don’t worry, Dad I know you’re only here to see photos of your grandbabies and sewing dresses is probably not really your thing.]

Friday, 18 March 2016

The Clementine Dress Sew-a-Long

Clementine dress collage

How adorable are my girls, right? They really do look so sweet in vintage style clothing, and this was what first drew me to The Clementine Dress by Amelie and Atticus, with it’s dear little peter pan collar and delightful A-line shape.

I was very excited to be selected as a tester of this lovely dress and set about making not one but two of them. Because every sibling needs at least one matchy matchy outfit in their closet.

Clementine Dress Pretty Pipiclementine dress isabelle

The pattern comes in 7 sizes (Newborn, 1, 2, 4, 6, 8 & 10). I made petite 5 year old Isabelle a size 4 and 2.5 year old Pipi a size 2 but I added a small bit of length to both, so they will fit them for longer. For the main fabric I used a delicate soft pink baby corduroy that I had in my stash and for the collar and facing I used a lovely vintage floral. Instead of buttons I opted for metal snaps down the back.

The sew went really well, it was nice and simple and I’m very happy with the fit. As the weather gets colder I plan to layer these with tights a merino underneath, and I have plans to sew many, many more! I guess you’re only limited by your imagination, time … and fabric stash (although my stash is rather healthy so that last one isn’t really an issue for me!) A friend just recently gave me some vintage embroidered linens which I can picture being made into a really lovely collar.

Clementine dress Pipi backClementine Pipi dress frontClementine dress Pipi 2DSC_0012-001DSC_0044-001

If you want to sew your very own Clementine Dress, then there is no time like the present. Beginning next Monday, the 21st; Thouraya of Amelie and Atticus will each day be sharing a step of the pattern along with mine and the other tester’s creations over on her blog!

So, hop to it! Purchase the pattern from here (if you haven’t already), select your fabric and get ready to join in the fun!

You can also find Amelie and Atticus on Facebook / Pinterest / Twitter and Instagram #theclementinedress

Jen x

The Clementine Dress Sew A Long

Sunday, 13 March 2016

{Sewn} Woman’s Take Flight Dolman Top

After having the sad realisation that I hadn’t managed to sew anything for myself this Summer, I bit the bullet and signed up to pattern test ‘'Women's Take Flight Dolman'’ top -  the latest  PDF pattern designed by Lydia of Little Kiwi’s Closet.

This pattern (XS-5X) has just launched today with the discounted price of USD$7 until Friday 18th March!

If you’re a loyal follower of my blog, or already familiar with Little Kiwi’s Closet, then you might know at least 1 of two things: 1) I’m a long time lover (and sometimes pattern tester) of Lydia’s patterns; and 2) Lydia (of LKC) is already a prolific kid’s PDF pattern designer, but THIS pattern is her first foray into the world of adult patterns. (Personally, I’m hoping that it’s just the start, with more to come!)

DSC_0011Take Flight Dolman 1Take flight dolman 2Take Flight Dolman backTake Flight Dolman 3

I really love this top! (I hope you’re able to look past my dorky facials and bad posture [pull your shoulder’s back, woman!] to see the beauty in this top too.)

I love the relaxed style and particularly the sleeve/ shoulder detail, that is characteristic of a dolman type top. As well as being comfortable and flattering (in a relaxed kind of way), this style makes for an extremely quick and easy sew, since you don’t have to faff about setting in sleeves or anything.

Lydia’s easy to follow instructions with lot’s of helpful photos make it a breeze too and I think even a beginner sewer (perhaps with just a small bit of experience with knits, or good willingness to learn) could give this a go!

In terms of fabric I used a cotton/rayon/spandex blend for the front (floral) panel – one of my favourite fabrics that I got from Girl Charlee a while back. It’s reasonably thin with good drape and just perfect for this project. Plus I had just enough for the front with only scraps to spare, so it was meant to be! The back and bands (neck, arms and waist) are all made of cotton/ lycra fabric that I purchased from Levana. I chose to do the bound neckline option and to include the waist and arm bands. (There are other neckline options included in the pattern and you can choose to omit the bands on the sleeves and waist if you prefer too, or opt to add long sleeves if you wish.)


I’m looking forward to sewing this pattern again, I can already tell it’s going to be one of my ‘go to’s’

Make sure you nab it for yourself while it’s still on sale!

Thanks for letting me test, Lydia!

Happy Sewing,

Jenny x

Monday, 29 February 2016

Art Deco Weekend 2016

Every February our region hosts a massive Art Deco Weekend. This year, my kids’ school joined in by having a dress up day. I considered sewing Isabelle an elaborate dress at quite likely great expense and time to me, however in the end I decided to make do with bits and pieces we had around the house. Noah also looked rather dapper, but was not as keen to pose for quite as many photos as Isabelle!

Art deco Isy

We went over to Napier on the Friday evening and joined in with some of the festivities. It was fun watching the air show and having dinner, but the parking blocks away and walking with tired children – notsomuch! Next year I’d love to get all glammed up and go out some of the evening events, just me and Andrew – we’ll see!

IMG_20160219_082106IMG_20160219_215611Art Deco Isabelle 6Art deco Isabelle 2Art deco Isabelle

All in all, it was a nice weekend and it was a lot of fun dressing up, something I probably enjoy even more than the kids!

Jen x

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Our Summer Holidays – Part 2 {Camping at Mahia}

Mahia 1

We’ve just enjoyed a lovely week-long camping holiday at beautiful Mahia. (A Peninsula located on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island, between Napier and Gisborne.)

My Dad, step Mum (“Poppa” and “Granny Lynn”) and brother Tom came up from Christchurch and my sister, Holly, her boyfriend Jermaine (and their cute dog, Boogie) came down from Auckland for the holiday which was awesome. As well as great company (including very intense 500 card games in the evening), we also enjoyed brilliant weather, great food (camping with Dad and Lynn is better described as ‘glamping’); and lots of lovely beach swims. Jermaine’s family live nearby so we had the benefit of local knowledge – he showed us an awesome river swimming hole, took us to the Morere hot pools and organised a fishing charter for Andrew and I! (I caught a Hapuka (grouper) wahoo!)

We had one heart in throat situation where newly toilet trained Pipi decided to take herself off to the bathroom first thing in the morning before anyone had woken and we awoke to find her missing! Words can not describe the fear I felt at that moment. Long story short, it all ended well and despite getting lost coming back from the toilet block Pipi managed to find a helpful lady who soon tracked us down! Oh the relief, but needless to say is not a situation I ever want repeated again!

We had such a lovely time, it was so nice to catch up with family in such an idyllic spot. It was hard to leave and get back to reality, but not to matter – we are back there at Easter with a group of friends from church! Yay!

Mahia 2

But for now, it’s stationary sorting, covering school books and trying to get re-accustomed to waking with an alarm in preparation for school starting back next week!

Have you camped with kids before? How did it go? (I find it definately helps having a few extra pairs of hands around!)

Want to read more?

Thanks for reading!

Jen x

Our Summer Holidays - Part 1

Summer holidays part 1

Wow! No time no blog! We’ve been enjoying the most lovely Summer holidays.

I haven’t pulled out my DSLR that much preferring to take most of my pics on my phone and then share to Instagram. (Gosh haven’t the cameras on phones come a long way in a short few years!)

We’ve packed a lot in these holidays, but managed to get in a lot of relaxation at the same time (well as much as you can with 3 busy kids) – it’s been great. Just before Christmas, at the beginning of the school holidays I took the kids up to Mt Maunganui to stay with my Mum and Step Dad. They have a place really close to the beach and we enjoyed a lovely few days with them, walking along the beach and around the Mount, picnicing and eating yummy icecreams. We also had a lovely swim at the hot pools and I enjoyed some child free shopping time!

We returned home and pottered around at home doing a few things like berry picking and preparing for Christmas and I completed a few sewing orders. Then we headed down to Otaki to the in-laws for Christmas day. It was such a nice time because all of Andrew’s family was there. He has seven siblings and all of them including wives/ husbands/ boyfriend and kids were there, plus Nana and Grandma. Three of my sister in law’s have had little baby boys during the past year, so it was especially nice to see my 3 new nephews too! On boxing day a few of us went out fishing on Andrew’s Dad’s boat too which was fun. We caught a few fish and saw a whole lot of dolphins, which was AWESOME! (Check out the video of the dolphins here.)

Once we returned home I sewed a couple more orders and birthday gifts, cooked a few meals from Chelsea Winter’s book ‘Homemade Happiness’ (my Christmas present to myself); and we toilet trained Pipi! (Yay!) We also caught up with Andrew’s little sister Elysia (and boyfriend, James), his Grandma and older brother, Nathan who all popped past Hastings briefly on separate occasions and then had my brother, Dad and Step Mum arrive up from Christchurch and stay a couple of nights before we all headed away on our camping holiday in Mahia.

(I’ve saved the Mahia trip to be the subject matter of the ‘Part 2’ holiday post, because goodness knows I’ve squeezed enough information and photos into this one!)

Summer holiday collage

If you’ve had a lovely Christmas and New Year (and Summer holidays, if you’re ‘down under’ like me!)

If you’re on Instagram and have enjoyed these pics then feel free to follow me @mendandmakenew

Jen x