Monday, 2 January 2017

Christmas Stocking and Ornament

This year the quilt-y group I'm a member of decided for our Christmas swap, we'd do stockings and an ornament.  We had almost 12 months to complete them and the results were varied, but all beautiful.  It always surprises me that even if we don't know who we're sending our creations to (which in this case we didn't until most of us had finished our sewing) they always seem to match up perfectly.

I received from the lovely Christina and I sent to awesome Sonia.

The stocking I received was truly lovely.  The cuff material just added a contrast to the rest of the stocking, which was different on both sides.  The wee bird ornament is felt and has sequins as well as hand stitched embroidery on the wings.  I proudly hung my stocking near the fireplace for Santa and the bird was on the Christmas tree for all to admire when they came.

I added a little tissue holder and I also made the card to accompany my stocking and ornament - Felix the fox, who wore a green scarf since Sonia's favourite colour is green (although I was very tempted to give him a yellow scarf, my favourite colour!)

The fox was from Lia Griffith's collection.  I think I am slightly in love with her work.  She uses a lot of felt, but the creations are all so beautiful.  I'm considering making the whole set of her woodland ornaments for our tree next year.

Along with the fox, there is also a deer, bear, rabbit, squirrel, and raccoon.


Bear Bag & Make Up

What do you make for a four year old girl for her birthday?  I struggled with this question for about 10 months before stumbling across the Lia Griffith site, specifically her DIY Bear Felt Bag.  It was perfect!

The instructions were easy to follow, the result is gorgeous (if I do say so myself) and the birthday girls reaction was priceless.  She loved it.  I especially like the little pink cheeks and the stitching between the eyes (which was probably my only struggle, how to get them even and placed exactly right).

I decided the bag alone wasn't much, so I made a felt make up set as well.  I got the idea, again, from Pinterest which linked me to Gluesticks tutorial.  I used this tutorial as a guide and then adapted my make up set to look how I wanted.

For the 'mirror' I used a grey marl wool felt, the 'foundation' was a beige and then just picked out random colours for the 'eye shadow'.  The 'compact' closes (folds) while the 'brush' is stuffed which gives it a bit more stability and strength to withstand play.

All up, I was pretty pleased with how everything turned out and so was Miss E, although I may now need to make her younger sister a set to avoid arguments over it!

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Losing a Friend

After nearly 15 years, I lost my Bailey girl.  She was a rescue puppy, originally having been told she was an '8 week old mini sheltie' it was a surprise at her first vets visit to learn she was no more than 5 weeks old!

She was our gentle girl, playful, energetic and hilarious.  The first time we took her to the beach, she discovered her forte - chasing seagulls.  She would casually jog towards a large group of them on the sand not looking at them, but to the if by not looking directly at them, they wouldn't see her.  Of course, the seagulls would start to shriek and take off.  This was a signal that Bailey would tear after them at full speed, scattering them every which way, but never attempting to hurt them!

Our girl also had her own 'party trick'...she smiled.  It was hard to capture on the camera, but she would grin, especially if she or her older brother had done something they shouldn't have!  In fact, she would often tattle on poor Connor by running to us, grinning and then running towards wherever he was doing what he shouldn't.

Bailey would have been the perfect dog for children.  She was so patient, didn't care what you dressed her up in, she was laid back and so easy going.  She was also good at finding things.  At the park she often found things left behind by others that came in handy - the sunglasses she's wearing for example.  She also found a really good fleece hat that, once washed, became good for Dad at work.

I think some of the funniest times were when we came home from being out and discovered someone had been in the rubbish bin....we never could figure out who it was, as Bailey insisted she didn't know....the same 'someone' who had been in the bin had tried to frame Bailey by putting the bin on her head!!  Of course, there were also the times when we came home and there was no bin lid on her head....and no bin lid anywhere else....?  We'd have to hunt around to find it, wherever she'd managed to get it off and either hidden it or left it there!

She was the first dog I could call 'my own'...she wasn't the family dog, although she loved everyone...especially those with food!  She had the most beautiful eyes, as if she was wearing eye liner.  Everyone she met was a new friend.  Everyone she met fell under her spell.  And I shall miss her for the rest of my life....

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Operation Christmas Child

Each year we participate in the Operation Christmas Child shoebox appeal.  For the past four years, our local Lions Club has also participated.  This year we and the Club donated 52 shoeboxes, which is a fantastic effort.  Along with shoeboxes, knitted beanies were also asked for, these can be added to boxes that have arrived at the processing warehouse without items to wear and also sent over as extras along with shoeboxes to villages.

This is all 52 shoeboxes - some were the pre-printed ones from Operation Christmas Child and some were from our local shoestore that we then wrapped in Christmas paper.  We found the wrapping paper at the local Best For Less store, extra wide and $2 a roll (3m rolls).  We chose cartoon penguins, cartoon Santa "Ho Ho Ho", holly and berries, and white with red designs.  Then we wrapped each lid in a different paper to the shoebox.

Each age group 2-4 years, 5-9 years and 10-14 years Boys and Girls were covered.  We try to make more of the 10-14 year group because I read somewhere that that was the least received category.  Small tool kits, sewing kits, jandals (flip flops), tshirts, hats, socks and undies, skipping ropes, craft kits, 2 exercise books, pencil case (coloured pencils, pens, regular pencils, eraser, sharpener, scissors), washcloth, soap, toothbrush with cover, comb, small soft toy, bouncy ball/tennis ball/small ball.

I find the 5-9 year old girls the easiest to fill.  Below left:  A doll, a soft toy, pencil case, accessories for the doll (guitar, hair brush, purse, flower mirror), yoyo, soap, facecloth, toothbrush with cover, tennis ball, pad of paper, pencils, colour pencils, eraser, sharpener, t-shirt, purse with hair ties, bracelet and stickers inside.

Another 5-9 Girls box:  This one contained a blue t-shirt, two pairs of socks, a doll and bottle, ball, saxophone whistle, soap, facecloth, bracelet, exercise book, balloons, hairties, spinning top, pencilcase (with pencils, eraser, sharpener, coloured pencils, pens), comb, toothbrush (inside the exercise book).

2-4 year old boxes, boys and girls, are quite easy to fill too.  This one below has a soft toy (such a cute leopard too!), doll, jandals (flip flops), t-shirt, crayons, colouring book, stickers, hair ties and clips, balloons, facecloth, soap, toothbrush and cover, photo of us with a note on the back, toy guitar.

I read somewhere that the 10-14 year old boys shoeboxes were the ones least received so we try, each year, to fill more of those than other boxes.  In more recent years we've been putting two exercise books into all our 10-14 year boxes, rolled up and secured with rubber bands.  That's because I read that kids often erase their previous years' work so they can reuse their exercise books!!  Not on our watch!!

Here's two of our boxes for 10-14 year old boys.  On the left we have: a shoe shaped pencil case, frisbee, balloon helicopter (with spare balloons), skipping rope, notebook, yoyo, socks, undies, t-shirt, small bear, hand drum, facecloth, soap, toothbrush with cover, finger skateboard, lego set, dinosaur badge, flute.

On the right:  model airplane kit, temporary tattoos, soap, undies, socks, balloons, silicon bracelet, pencil case, pencils, eraser, sharpener, coloured pencils, matchbox cars, tennis ball, ball bearing maze, baseball cap with flames, notepad, notebook, lego set, soft toy dog (he was so soft and so cute!).

Finally, a 5-9 year Boy shoebox.  A teddy bear, model airplane, frisbee, toothbrush and cover, jandals (flip flops), notebook, colouring book, craft kit, crayons in the shapes of cars, balloons, soap, facecloth, pencil case (with pencils, sharpener, erasers), t-shirt, and a photo of us!

Sometimes we get unwanted shoeboxes from the local shoe store, other times we use the pre-printed boxes from Operation Christmas Child.  I personally love using the boxes we wrap because I think it makes it even more exciting for a child, to receive a box that's a little bit unique from others' boxes.  Plus, this year we wrapped the lids in a different paper than the box so they're even more unique!!

It's such a fun thing to do.  You can find out more information about shoeboxes, what to include, what not to include, where to take them, etc. from the link above.  Most churches participate and it doesn't have to be expensive either!!  If you make stuff or shop around during the sales, shoeboxes can be cheap to fill.

T-Shirt Dress!

Well, I'm not really a seamstress, however I found this pattern for making a t-shirt dress on Pinterest and just had to try it.  We fill shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child in October (well, we buy stuff throughout the year and at October deliver them to the local church for transport).

Most times we put t-shirts into the boxes that we purchase from the Warehouse (they're about $4, but sometimes we get them on sale and they're less).  Recently I discovered a few Facebook pages where people put up suggestions of items to include in each box or things they have made to put into their shoeboxes.  Crafting for Shoeboxes is one page and the other is Simply Shoeboxes.

I used the pattern and tutorial from The Best T-shirt Dress and found it really easy to follow, simple and also quick!  I whipped up this little dress, size 3, in about 2 hours.  I would have been faster had I paid attention and not sewn the skirt closed at the top the first time I sewed my gathering stitch.  The best part?  I learnt to use some new stitches on my machine!!  First time sewing a gathering stitch and it was easy.  I love easy things.

So, the t-shirt cost $4 (NZ) and the material was from Spotlight and was on sale at the time...if memory serves, I think I bought it for about $5 a metre?  I used about half a metre by the width of the fabric.  The butterflies were so cute and colourful and turned what is a boys t-shirt into a little girls dress.  Now I've got all sorts of ideas how to churn out some more dresses and in different sizes too.  There's a handy size guide on the tutorial for how much fabric you'll need and how long to make the dresses.  This one is about 21" long from the shoulder to the hemline.  Once I'm more practised, I can add some little embellishments too - perhaps a fabric flower to the t-shirt part in the same fabric as the skirt?  Or some ricrac around the skirt hemline?  Or even some buttons just to give it a little 'extra' something....the ideas are endless!!

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Well Travelled Monkeys

After a month away in the UK, I'm back.  I took four monkeys with me, three for gifts and one that was purchased.

First, Dash came all the way from NZ to Birmingham for my lovely friend Sion's early birthday present.  

Dash has pale blue and navy stripes on his body with a navy nose as well.  His arms, tail and ears are pale blue with white polka dots.  He also has a lovely red smile.

Pickle and Barkley were off to Broughshane, Northern Ireland to meet their new friends, Jude and Henry!  Both were a hit and will get up to much mischief, I'm sure with the two boys.

Finally, Posey.  She travelled very well in the suitcase from New Zealand to England and then had to make the final part of her journey on her own all the way to Oxfordshire.  She arrived safely and is all settled into her new home with her new friend, Sandra. 

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Additional June Monkeys

In addition to making monkeys for chairty and making some for ladies who purchased them, I also made a few as gifts.  

This is Apple, she was a gift for a brand new little girl.  I got to go have a cuddle and a chat with her Mum - we went to school together.  Apple was a hit, especially with big brother who took her to bed the first night!  This was one of my last few ladybird socks, mixed with a red/white dot sock.  Her name came about because she's a candy apple red....and my friend's nickname is Apple.  It just seemed perfect.

Then I made Zach, later re-named Zeta, for a young lady who was in hospital for an operation.  We're friends with her aunt.  He has aqua/darker blue stripes with orange tips and plain aqua tail, arms, ears and nose.

Finally Primrose (I didn't know they only came in yellow....I just thought she looked like a Primrose when I'd finished her eyelashes!).  She made a very long trip to Massachussetts, USA for another brand new little person.  Hopefully they will grow up together, the best of friends.  Primrose is a lovely bright pink, her arms, tail and ears have mostly pink hearts on white, with a few purple hearts mixed in.