Category Archives: School

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


When your coffee screams at you in the morning…



You should probably just go back to bed.

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Filed under School

My New Love.

After being teased for years about being allergic to exercise, it has actually given me great pleasure to join the ranks of City commuters cycling to work. And this is the reason why:

My Daily 1 Step-Through. In mint green. With a wicker basket. Isn’t she gorgeous! When I’m cruising along in the cycle lanes, sitting up straight with my hands on the wide handle bars, I can hardly wipe the grin off my face. She makes cycling such a joy! No matter that I was actually overtaken yesterday by a boy on a scooter, I was the one having the most fun.

The basket clicks right off and I can take it into my classroom. It holds my lunch bag and my marking perfectly. The first thing I did when I got it home (after riding right across town and through Hagley Park in the dark) was to sew a basket liner. And then another one. And then a fancy one with handles. And finally, this one with a gingham band and a checkered drawstring top which you can whip right out of the basket and take into the shops.

20130808-124622.jpgAnd then there is the fun of cycling fashions. I was a little chastised when I read one of my favorite cycling blogs recently and the author firmly lectured about the point of riding a bike being to save the planet, not to star in photo shoots, and that baskets should be practical additions not fashion accessories. Surely there is room for both.

Pink checked pencil skirt made from a vintage woollen fabric.
Purple jersey from Nurse Maude.
Pink silk scarf and red belt from the Sallies.
Black Overland boots.
Basket liner in linen and pink retro fabrics all my own work.


Filed under Christchurch, School

Finish-Off Friday.

Thursday and Friday were a bit manic as everyone tried to get their last project finished. But it was worth it… there were some real crackers.

I have 2 basic beanies which the students get in their Year 8 Pattern Pack. They are challenged to modify one of them to make an original hat which they would wear. Jay came up with the strawberry idea and a few people copied…

This is the second beanie pattern and Ada used it to make a penguin guy I’d never heard of. She grew 3 inches when someone asked her at party where she’d bought it.

Stef modified one of the patterns to make Cat in the Hat stripes. You can see it in 2 colour ways because its a fully reversible hat. Named The Stefacino in her honour.

Frosty needs no introduction really. Smile I said while I was taking the photo. I’m trying he said from under a drift of white.

This unicorn quickly became famous all over school… she really gets around. I managed to snap a picture as she scooted past my window.
And just in case you think it’s all sweetness and light:

“Mrs Smythe, have you ever majorly
screwed up anyone’s work” asked Kay as I was overlocking the final seam on her One Direction beanie.
“Only the once” I replied “and then I fixed it up so you couldn’t tell.”
“That’s nice of you” she said as she took the completed beanie, folded the band over and put it on her head. There was a collective gasp from the class as they saw at the same instant that the words on her band were upside down. And then a look of horror from Kay as she realised Mrs Smythe had just screwed up a second project. While she was talking about screwing up the first. Oh the irony.

“Hand me that seam ripper would you?” I said.


Filed under School, Sewing


Today, when I was struggling to figure out what to wear, Sophie said something blue. So here it is:


A blue top and a blue Glassons cardy.

Me-made skirt using a half-cut-down dress I found at an oppie. Someone had made a terrible job of altering it and I rescued the gorgeous polished cotton to make a simple A-line skirt.


Look at that fabric – gorgeous! Dark tights and flat brown winter boots because today was a real running-around day. I didn’t really spend it with my feet up.

A me-made brooch – scraps of woollen fabric and a bit of lace doily with a shiny old button.


Whole outfit blinged up with a couple of necklaces including Venetian glass from Venice and a gorgeous little pendant from Once Upon A Time. (She’s at Shop Me Pretty – Paparoa St School on Friday night if you’d like one of your own.)


It was a crazy day at school because this week is the last week of the current Tech rotation and everyone is trying to get something finished.


I won’t look this serene by Friday.

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Filed under School

Say You Worked Hard…

… in Tech, designing and creating, pinning and stitching and generally behaving yourself –  well, what sort of reward could you expect? To start with there are these carefully chosen, colour co-ordinated bundles of fabric which you might be offered if you work hard. You could take the bundle of your choice and use it in all sorts of projects, make extra things with it or just keep it in your bag, bringing it out occasionally to touch it and admire it because don’t we all do that? (These are actually just my fabric scraps, folded and tied with cotton tape. It’s all in the way you sell it. The kids think I cut the pieces especially.) The paw print fabric, being the very end of the last roll, is highly covetable.


And then there are these intriguing little pouches lined up on the table. I make them from cotton canvas following this brilliant and much-loved pattern.  A bright zip to add some color. You have to do something pretty amazing to earn one of these.


It’s cool enough that you get your own pouch to stash your hacky sacks or lip glosses or your badge collection in. But if you zip them open, you’ll find there’s already treasure inside. Pins and needles, a tiny pincushion, some fabric chalk, a tape measure and the all-important seam ripper. Kindly sponsored by a very generous friend up north who knows what it takes to keep kids interested and sent me the loot for these goody bags.


You’ll be pleased to know that the take-up of these little sewing kits is as high for boys as it is for girls – hence the pirates and the tribal squiggles. So much better than lollies.


Filed under School

It’s Not All Sweetness And Light.

Some days it’s all I can do not to laugh at the silly sausages in my class.

Conversation goes like this:

“There’s something wrong with my zip.”
“Yes I can see that.”
“Can you fix it?”
“You cut the end off!”
“Yeah but can you fix it?”
“I know but you can fix it right?”

Of course I can. I’m a sewing genie. By the time she arrived next morning, the zip was working perfectly. It’s kind-of a promise in my classroom – if the kids make a major blunder, then I’ll get them back to where they were before disaster struck. It’s what my mum used to do with me.

What she didn’t notice was that it was a brand new zip. Actually, it was a brand new bag. I’m not that much of a genie.

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Filed under School, Sewing