Friday, 30 May 2014

{Colour Crush} Yellow and Grey


It seems for the last little while I’ve really been drawn to the colours grey and yellow – both together and separately. (Looking at these photos it seems this is also true for chevrons and hexagons!)

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you may have noticed this trend too … here’s a list of a few things I’ve sewn in this colour palate … arrow top, Lua Sleep Sack, a pile of cushions (and table runner), little tees, hexi pocket cardi, Pipi's hexi quilt.

What colours and trends have you been drawn to recently?

Jen x

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

{In Stitches} Q & A with Talia Christine

Good morning all! As you might remember I promised to bring you some guest posts, tutorials and other sewing blog posts as part of the Handmade Kids Clothing Swap. Well today I’m very excited to share with you a little interview with Talia who blogs over at Talia Christine.

Talia is a Texan living here in NZ with her gorgeous family and amazing sewer. You definitely need to check out her blog to see her lovely sewing, gorgeous girls and her husbands awesome beard. For all those reasons and more, it’s one of my favourite reads. Annnnd… Talia has given herself an awesome In Stitches sewing challenge. I could tell you all about it here, but I’ll let Talia fill you in instead …


Hi Talia, thanks for taking the time to share with us about your In Stitches Challenge. What is this challenge all about?  

Hi Jenny! Thanks for having me! In Stitches was an idea I had early on in the year for a personal challenge NOT to buy any new clothes for myself or for my girls (ages 3 and 11 months). I’m a sucker for cute kids clothes so I thought about it long and hard before deciding to commit to such a challenge.

What made you decide to embark on this challenge?
The reason for doing this challenge was primarily so I could force myself into practice sewing more often. I have been sewing since I was a kid but I felt that my skills were pretty mediocre. I felt that if I forced my own hand into sewing things for the girls to wear then I’d get LOTS of practice! ;) I wanted to strive for quality and increasing my sewing skills so that my finished items would look, well… less homemade. So far it’s been REALLY great! I’ve sewn LOTS and I can see my skills improving. It’s really cool! And my love for sewing has grown ten fold! Honestly, I’ve always enjoyed sewing but it’s turned into a full-blown passion. These days I am KEEN to sit down at my sewing machine. (Thanks, Hubby, for watching the girls while I steal away to my machine)

What have you made so far?
YEESH. Lots... Undies, sweats, pajamas, t-shirts, leggings, dresses for both girls, and even a bathing suit! T-shirts, skirts, and a fancy new coat for me. :)

Which project is your favourite so far? Which was your most challenging?

My favorite was a little peplum t-shirt and floral leggings for Audrey. It was a quick one-afternoon project that I drafted myself. I’m quite proud of it even though it was quite simple to do. I just love the look of the finished project!
My most challenging project is likely either the Albion coat (which actually wasn’t THAT hard, it just took a long time) or a fitted skirt that I made for myself out of a vintage sheet. I suppose it shouldn’t have been that hard either but maths do my head in. Plus, no pattern. And zipper. (shudder)

Do you think you've grown in your skills since embarking on this challenge? In what way?
YES! So much. I’ve learned a lot and have pushed myself into trying new things. I’ve always shied away from working with knits because… scary. But it turns out I LOVE sewing with them now. Knits are easy to sew up and very forgiving. Also I’ve noticed that my stitching (in general) has become a lot tidier. Practice makes perfect!

Where do you get your creative inspiration from?
Audrey serves as a big motivator for me. She kiiiiiiiinda doesn’t realize that clothes can be bought from stores? (Haha!!) So she’s often spying clothes here or there and asking if I can make them for her. CUTE! So I do. Or at least I try ;)

Have you found it hard not buying clothes?
Not so much. Occasionally I find myself wistfully looking at the brand new clothes that line the racks or sparkle from the magazines at me, but I’m telling you. I’m loving sewing things for my girls. I get a real sense of satisfaction seeing them run (or crawl) around in the things I made for them. And only one dress has fallen apart ;)

Have you noticed that you've saved money by taking on this challenge?                                                                          Going into the challenge my primary goal wasn’t actually to save money, but to gain skilllzzzz. While I’ve learned HEAPS we’ve also definitely saved money, especially when I use fabric that was gifted to me or fabric that I already had. Win win, my friends. Win. Win.

What do you find most rewarding about creating for your family?
I really like knowing where our clothes come from and I get a real sense of satisfaction that I created something tangible that serves our family in a real practical way. Oh it’s cold outside? Okay I’ll make a few sweatshirts to keep my girls warm! It makes me feel sort of like a superhero.

What does your family think about your sewing?
My husband is suuuuuuper supportive. A few months ago we budgeted in a new Bernina sewing machine for me (gasp). It’s been a dream come true. Last weekend he asked if I needed an overlocker. So we bought one. His idea. That man is amazing and I’m going to keep him for ever and ever amen.
Audrey, for the time being, is stoked that I can sew up whatever her little heart desires. Maybe one day she’ll be more embarrassed. Who knows ;)
I think my mom is worried that I’ve gone hippie and my children won’t be clothed properly because I won’t be able to sew stuff in time. Fair call. But so far so good. Haha

What projects have you got lined up next, what are else are you hoping to make this year?
I have a whole host of patterns that I’d like to make for myself including some activewear to wear at the gym. Leggings that actually fit me properly? HELLLOOO!

Can we join in too?
I’d love for everyone to tap into their sewing side! The more the merrier I say ;)

Anything else you'd like to add...?
Thanks for hosting this swap, Jenny! It’s like a sewing dream come true. Muah! x

Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your sewing journey with us Talia, I can’t wait to see what you make next! (And I really can’t get enough of that coat!)

You can follow Talia on her blog / facebook page / Instagram @talia_vanderwel

Monday, 26 May 2014

Homegrown mandarins

In the weekend the kids and I were very excited to find that our mandarin tree was now bearing ripe fruit.

We filled our hands and pockets with our harvest and combined also with some persimmons that we also picked. We now have a very full fruit bowl. (Correction: We did have a very full fruit bowl – those kids sure love their fruit. Perhaps it’s time to pick some more!)

I’m so glad I grabbed my camera (as a bit of an after thought) and managed to document the occasion. Simple pleasures, aye? It’s lovely seeing my kids get such joy from such little things.

DSC_0046DSC_0047DSC_0048DSC_0049DSC_0051DSC_0052DSC_0053DSC_0055 DSC_0059DSC_0050

Do you eat anything grown in your own garden?


Thursday, 22 May 2014

Sewing Tip: Using freezer paper to cut out patterns

If you were to ask me to single out my top sewing tip, it’s highly likely that I would say ‘Use freezer paper for your patterns.’ I discovered this tip a couple of years ago myself and I swear it has saved me a lot of time and frustration over the years and has made my cutting out much neater. (Because you’ve got to set out like you want to continue, right?)

If you’ve been following crafty blogs for a while, or spend much time on Pinterest; then I’m pretty sure you would have already heard of freezer paper. But, I bet you heard about it in relation to making freezer paper stencils and applying fabric paint for the poor man’s version of silk screening. I’ve done this before and can’t wait to do it again using these stencil designs.

Anyway I digress, we all love a good freezer paper stencil, but what is one to do with the rest of the 50 yard box of freezer paper? (I got mine off trademe by the way for $20, I understand in America you can buy at the supermarket, but it’s a lot more elusive here!)

Transfer your sewing patterns onto it of course!

It’s pretty easy to do, you just trace your pattern onto the freezer paper (shiny plastic side down, you will be writing on the non shiny side.) Despite my pencil in the photo below, I wouldn’t recommend writing in pencil (or anything else that might smudge when you iron it. A normal biro pen is best.)


Cut out your pattern piece (with paper scissors! Pet peeve of mine!) … and then simply iron it onto your fabric, plastic side down. (If you need to place it on the fold, do so.)  I use a dry iron (no steam) on a medium to low temperature (obviously also paying attention to the makeup of the fabric I’m ironing it on to). The plastic side of the paper should gently stick to your fabric.

You then can simply cut out your fabric around the pattern piece. YAY! NO NEED FOR PINS!

I find this especially good when cutting out knit fabric as you avoid stretching it as you pin.


Once you’ve cut out your pattern pieces simply feel off the freezer paper so you can use the pattern next time!


Yes, that’s right you can use the pattern again and again!

So to recap, that’s no pins when cutting out, and the pattern is ready to go for next time – quick, easy and neat!

Do you use freezer paper when cutting out patterns? What’s your favourite sewing tip?

Jen x

Read more:

About the Handmade Kids Clothing Swap 2014

Why I love to sew

Monday, 19 May 2014

Why I love to sew (especially for my kids)

Over the next few weeks, interspersed with my ‘normal’ blog posts (52 project – which I need to catch up! And other random posts), I plan to share some ‘sewing for your kids’ type posts. This is one that I’ve been wanting to share for a while; on why I sew for my kids. And why I love doing it. (Illustrated by a few pics of some of my fave projects over the years!)

[ Noah's blazer, Isy's PJs]

I only started sewing (in earnest) after I had my kids. Sure, I sewed a bit as a kid – my Mum is an awesome sewer and got me a kiddie sewing machine and old black Singer as a kid, but I had the attention span of a gold fish. Seriously! I left a large trail of unfinished projects.

Fast forward twenty or so years and I had just finished quite a few years of study and was working hard. My Mum very generously bought me a sewing machine (still the one I have today), but it gathered dust for a few years while I was working. I’d work long hours, come home exhausted and creativity was the last thing on my agenda. I think on one occasion I tried to thread the machine and it freaked me out. My husband, whose Mum had taught him to sew so he could make sails for his model boats, had (much) more skills than me!


[ Isy's dress, Noah's tank, Noah's Arrow Top ]

But then I had Noah and everything changed. I think having kids/ being a stay at home Mum gives you both less freedom, yet more freedom. That’s a bit confusing, so I’ll explain. As a Mum, you might not be able to go to the toilet by yourself or get optimal sleep for a few years BUT you have the freedom (in those pre-school days at least) to choose how you want to spend your days. Today we’ll go to kindy gym, today we wont. Today I’ll sleep when you sleep, tomorrow I’ll sew. For me, I used this freedom to learn new skills, which at the same time I think, kept me sane, gave me a sense of achievement and fulfilment and helped me to meet new people.

I decided, quite early on that if I was going to do this stay at home Mum thing, I was going to enjoy being at home, rather than resent it. I was going to enjoy my environment and never get bored. And truthfully, I don’t think I ever have. I’ve suffered a little from cabin fever yes, but bored – not really.

[ Little Liberty Leggings ]

There is a lot of fulfilment that comes from being able to make something too – especially for my kids. Kids clothes are great to start on, they are small, simple (no darts etc that you find in women’s clothing) and my kids LOVE it when I sew something for them, For me it’s just another way I can show love to them, by sewing it into every stitch. There is nothing better than being able to look over a finished garment and see that you have achieved something today, even though despite your best efforts your kids are still squabbling and your house keeps getting messed up, no matter how much you clean it!

And then, inevitably, frustration sets in. You pass that super beginner stage where even threading the machine is cause for celebration and then your aspirations start to exceed your skill level. You see your flaws and want to be better … but this is a good thing! I’ve shared this before, but I’m going to share it again, it’s just too good!

Reading back on what I wrote just now, I remember that I had planned to start this post in a completely different way. (The way I write is very similar to my creative projects – I have so many thoughts I just can’t do them all!)

Anyway, I meant to open with the question that I get asked all the time, “Why do you sew kids clothes, surely it’s cheaper to buy?” Yes, sometimes – but often I can’t find what I want (what I have in my head) in the store, so I decide to make it – does this mean that “my work is [almost] as good as my ambitions?” Well it’s definitely improved over the years (my blog is evidence of this) – and besides, it’s not just the result I enjoy, it’s the process, the community and the learning. And hearing your kid say, “Yes, my Mum made my top. She can sew anything!” And that is priceless.

So, why do you sew/ make for your kids?

Jenny x

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Handmade Kids Clothing Swap 2014 {More details}

The Handmade Kids Clothing Swap is now underway with everyone now emailed with their swap partner details. This is a direct swap so who you are making for is who you are receiving from (if that makes sense?)

If you can’t already tell I’m pretty excited about this swap and I feel a bit like a creative matchmaker! We have 28 (now) 30 garments being made to be posted around NZ and across the Tasman! Can I hear a woop, woop!

Sorry to gush, but I  hope that this can be a way to encourage each other on our creative journeys (whatever stage we are at) and a way to make a few more ‘creative’ friends and gain some more inspiration.

Plus we have PRIZES!

HKCS prizes

There will be one big prize open to all NZ and Australian residents (not just swap particpants – but swapees get a bonus entry!) (So far) This prize consists of:

There will also be 2 spot prizes (chosen at random) for swap participants – these are two packs kindly put together and donated from Pattern Postie. Both containing gorgeous patterns, sweet ribbons/ trims and oh so cute buttons.

More on these prizes and how to enter the big one in a later post. Thanks so much to the generosity of the companies who have donated items!

As I’ve already mentioned you have 1 month to make your item with the last day for posting being 16 June 2014; in the meantime I’ll be posting some fun posts on the blog including a few awesome guest posts from some of my sewing heroes – so stay tuned!

I’ve had issues trying to create a blog button – but feel free to use this image to put on your blogs etc, if you want.


Handmade Clothing Swap button 250


I’ve  also created this flikr group for those that want to share some sneak peeks and (once parcels have been received) the finished garments and parcels received. (But make sure you don’t spoil any surprises!)

I think that’s all the housekeeping matters for now! Get making!

Jenny x

Monday, 12 May 2014

Pipi is one!

I can’t quite believe that is now a year since little Pipi graced us with her presence (ha ha – middle name pun!)

Her birthday was on Friday and we held a little party in her honour on Saturday. As I often do I took a few photos before but not many during the party (…and not that many of the birthday girl either… but she did end up going down to bed in the middle of her party!)


  • It was so awesome having my sister here for the party (she was also there one year ago for Pipi’s birth). Holly was heaps of help and made some pretty awesome salted caramel popcorn!
  • Lots of other family members pitched in and brought heaps of yummy food. I am still eating party food!
  • Pipi got lots of awesome pressies, we got her a Tiny Eyes doll and some walking shoes. She also received lots of cool books, clothes and toys including a ride on toy. My Mum and step Dad gave her the awesome set of drawers shown in these photos – Such a lucky wee girl!
  • I just can’t imagine life without this wee button, she’s such a sweetie and fits into our family so well!

Happy Birthday Miss Pipi Grace!


(I’ll be back here in the next few days to post her 12 month (quilt) post, and a few other blog posts that I need to catch up on!)