Category Archives: Making

Finish-Off Friday.

We’ve been finishing things off all week but today was the end of it. As usual, a pile of cute beanies and our latest crush, vinyl.

A plan begins like this. There are a couple of pages of technical stuff and then the all-important first sketch. I must admit I thought “Whaaaaaat?”
when I first saw this but I’m pleased I let him run with it…

Because the final Magikarp Pokemon was so unbelievably cute. The photo does not do it justice.

A simple request to “bling up my boring brown” was met with a storm of ideas which ultimately led to Andrew’s Elemental Earwarmer. He did the appliqué himself.

20130823-181740.jpg One of the most gorgeous children in the universe who gets all my jokes, snapped leaving school today.

Dino-buddies. Rather pleased with their spiky heads.

I’m so happy I managed to source some reasonably priced vinyl in licorice all sort colours because it made the coolest pouches:

As well as the coolest pencil cases:

And quite possibly the coolest wallets ever:

And now that’s all done, it’s my turn. I’m planning a while lot of simple, soothing, straight-line quilting while my family is off skiing this weekend.


Filed under Making, School, Sewing

Another Month.

At the beginning of each month I transfer anything I haven’t done from the previous month’s To Do list to the new month’s To Do list.

I realised, as I wrote my March list, that it’s identical to my February list which hasn’t changed since January.

Sigh. At least the kids are making stuff. Boxy Bag by Jesse in this season’s retro brights. Covetworthy.


Filed under Making, Uncategorized

Busy Bees.

It’s all on for Christmas in these last few weeks of school. Some of the girls are making small table toppers using log cabin blocks. The pretty flowery scraps were a gift from Jenny.


Maddy and Hannah found a Christmas tree made from stacked circles of felt in a current mag and are making lots these wee cuties for themselves, their friends and their teachers. The original pattern uses beads sewn on to look like baubles but Hannah has worked out how to add Christmas LEDs instead. This is one of their trees-in-progress.


Josh made his Dad a holiday apron and now he’s making some matching tea towels. He drew the Kombi van, which they spend the summer traveling around in, with his sewing machine.  For the 4 weeks they are on tour, his Dad is the chief cook and bottle washer.


Sophie defaulted to traditional Christmas colours and is stitching some strip patchwork coasters for gifts. She sewed the strips right onto the batting and, instead of binding, she used the fancy machine to decorate the edges.


And Linda, as creative as ever, is turning fluffy socks into cute little teddies. She has no younger siblings or cousins to give these to so the teddies are making their way to the local doctor’s surgery as Christmas gifts for tiny patients.


Every lunchtime my room is a hive of activity. It’s a joy-filled place to be.

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Filed under Making, School

An Advent Plan

Over the years we’ve had all sorts of advent calendars and the ones I like best are the ones you can fill with your own surprises. Trouble is, since I’m always the one who is filling them with surprises, I never get any. Surprises. So this year I’ve come up with a cunning plan.

I saw this idea on Pinterest and thought it looked fun but I don’t have an artfully distressed ladder and I can’t justify 25 shiny metal buckets so meet Plan B.

20121121-225906.jpg There will be a good old garden variety ladder and I’ve been collecting baked bean and fruit salad tins. James has chosen the pastel tissue paper which will eventually be cunningly scrunched and found some teeny clips to match. Sophie printed the numbers onto recycled paper and cut them out. We’re almost ready to go.

Now for the cunning plan. Everyone gets 3 tins each to fill with little somethings. Nibbles, knick knacks, toys, trinkets, vouchers, coupons, jokes, poems, letters, photos, handmade, homemade, heartfelt, serious, silly – I don’t really mind so long as there is a surprise in there every morning for me. It used to be enough to see the joy on the kids’ faces as they opened up a new day but this year I really want to join in. And 6 kids times 24 days is a lot of somethings to provide if you’re doing all the surprising.

I’ll only know what’s in 3 tins. I’m excited!

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Filed under Family, Making

Quilt Club

So school is out and yesterday was our final quilt club for the term. Joe got finished with his Work-A-Day quilt made from a mixture of chambray and flannel shirts. He was too shy to model it so Ryan stepped up to help. This quilt will hang in my classroom for a bit, then Joe will take it home for his older brother.

Here’s Malki showing off a team effort… Everyone helped by sewing a strip of patches and then I stitched them all together. This quilt is also going on the wall for a bit.
Yasmin is making a raw edge circle quilt using the tutorial at Cluck Cluck Sew and this is what she has so far. Blue pillowcase backgrounds with lollipop bright circles. She comes in before school and makes one every morning.

It’s been a very companionable term at quilt club, the highlight of my week in many ways. Students drop in and out as they are able and the keen ones do lots of homework.

There was a little diversion at 1.15 when we had to rush outside and wave at the first of the Antarctic planes arriving in town. The ice season starts on Monday with flights taking staff down to Scott Base and McMurdo Station. Huge, cumbersome looking birds, these Globemasters. Incredible that they can really fly.

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Filed under Making, School

The Best of Days.

It helps that Wednesday is my favourite day of the week when I have 3 of the nicest classes ever. Big, hard-working, focused classes of 11 and 12 year olds concentrating their hearts out and singing along to the radio. We get so much done. They can even write their design briefs without any help from me.

And then Wednesday is also Quilt Club day and today we had a special guest. Deb from Works In Progress brought along a carful of her quilts and talked to us about them. And I do mean a carful – it took 6 people to carry them all to my classroom! I first came across Deb over 2 years ago when her picnic blanket pattern in World Sweet World inspired the first of our bandana quilts. She’s made some amazing quilts over the last couple of years and she photographed them all overhanging the red zone. She talked to us about the inspiration behind each one, how she chose the fabrics, how she decided to piece the patches together. I love that she showed us how quilts don’t have to made from the latest collection of expensive designer fabric but can be pieced from anything and all the better if those fabrics have special meaning… like your husband’s old shirts.

My kids were overawed, almost reverent, as they carefully spread the quilts out and fondled their well-washed silkiness. Everyone had their favorite and Deb has left us 5 of them as inspiration.

Quilt Club is for Year 8s but some Year 7s gave me such puppy-dog eyes that I gave in and said ok, lets have a planning session next week. Next week, they shrieked. How about tomorrow?

We gave Deb a bag full of sunshine fabrics as a thank you but then she totally blew us away by gifting us some amazing quilt books which she no longer needs. You should have seen the little eyes light up! The books are going into the school library tomorrow so everyone can have a fair crack at them. And then there was chitter chatter for the rest of the afternoon as students who were there filled in the ones who weren’t and everyone started to plan their first patchwork quilt.

And I quietly sat at my desk, thankful for the generosity of a fellow blogger, listening as the conversations swirled around me, all focused on sewing, all inspired to create something amazing. Wednesday, Quilt Club day, the best of days.

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Filed under Making, School

Lifelong Learners.

One of our lovely young teachers at school crochets the cutest little monsters. The kids begged to know how so she set up a lunchtime crochet club. It’s on a Friday so as not to clash with Quilt Club. Anyone welcome.


I knew she was having success when an irate teacher accused me of encouraging irresponsible behaviour during maths time. He had discovered Taylor, fractions abandoned, crocheting under her desk. Much as I wished it was my fault, I had to shift blame because crochet is something I’ve never been able to do.


“But it’s easy,” said Taylor. “I could show you how.” So I joined the Friday Crochet Club and teacher became student as Taylor patiently looped the thread around my fingers and checked my tension. We spent a happy hour making chains. The next week, when she was satisfied with my stitches, she guided me through single crochet and then double. I even worked out the turning chain by myself.


It doesn’t look like much and I’m still a long way from cute little monsters but my pile of successful stitches is growing. My teacher quite enjoys critiquing my progress. And I hope I’ve shown her that the life-long-learning we spout on about at school doesn’t just apply to students.

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Filed under Making, School

Three Scarves



A beautiful piece of Viyella I found a few weeks back. There was not enough for a shirt of any sort so I simply hemmed the edges and now I wear it as a big floppy loose scarf.



Another woolly piece of fabric, very soft and fine. I used this tutorial from Dana, overlocked the two long edges and sewed shirring elastic down the centre. So easy. So ruffly!



Trying out the Ruffled Flowers from Fabricate. That’s them starring on the cover. I had a bag of felted sweater scraps at school and these little flowers turn out to be as easy as pie. If you’re keen to give them a try, the author makes them here on YouTube. I was thinking of adding them to my plain black scarf to pretty it up but now I want to cover a whole big cushion with them. Maybe I’ll save a couple to pin to my coat but these flowers deserve a much larger garden to bloom in!

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City Libraries.

Some of the best things about living in Christchurch are the City Libraries. Last year,when our local libraries were closed, we relied on the Mobile Library bus to bring us our weekly dose of the printed page. The staff became friends and we looked forward to our visits. They shared recommendations and even saved crafty and action adventure books they thought we might like.

Much as I love whiling away an afternoon at a bricks-and-mortar library, I’ve finally managed to drag myself into the 21st century library world with the realisation that I can download books right to my iPhone. And the best thing- when the lending period is up, the book zips itself back to the library. No more overdue fines! My latest crush is Reinvention by Maya Donenfeld and I was thrilled last week to find it availbale for immediate download. I suggested a while back that the library might like to purchase this book but to be able to tote it round on my laptop is magic.

Over the weekend, I had a go at the first project in the book, Maya’s Story Scarves. I like what she says about the scarf not being able to be planned ahead of time, that it evolves as it is pieced together. I’m a big fan of this kind of stitching and often spend days contemplating the bits I’m going to sew together for some patchy project. They get pinned up and arranged and re-arranged on the inspiration wall at school. The kids have their 2 cents worth and eventually something gets decided.

So, the bits for this. An old linen shirt and scraps of a printed linen skirt. A Japanese floral and some pieces of embroidery. Actually I’ve just realised that all these bits are leftovers from the pink wraparound dress. I also added the last few strips of one of my favourite thrifted fabrics – a soft cotton printed with scenes of New York. And then I pin tucked, pleated and stitched.

Extra lace was added with a doily and some crocheted cuffs found in last week’s treasure trove. It came together easily and all the while I was thinking of other versions. How about a completely linen one with with texture from pleats and tucks and gathers? Or a warm wintery flannel one from old work shirts? Or a woolly one with bits leftover from the quilts?

It was simple and fun, I love how it turned out. And a good project is always the one that you can’t wait to make the next version of. I can see that there’ll be plenty of versions of this.

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Filed under Christchurch, Making

Dressing To The Conditions.

More icy weather is on the way and a few people are in need of reinforcements. This set was made from a thick fairisle jersey and lined with black fleece. The jersey had a nice deep rib around the bottom which made perfect long cuffs. I just traced around James’ hand to get the right kind of size and shape for the mittens. They’re in the required school colours of green and black. Sort of.


Henry’s set was made from a bottle green jersey and navy fleece. I sewed the mittens using this tutorial from Five Green Acres. Simple as long as you go slowly and use a walking foot. I added a cuff of navy fleece so the wind can’t whistle underneath.


They also make pretty good puppets. I found Henry in bed last night with his mittens on, right hand having a fairly animated conversation with his left.


Filed under Family, Making, Thrifting