Thursday, May 19, 2011

Orange juice :)

We are so lucky to live where we do. The weather is so sunny and mild, as far as the garden goes, there isn't really a Winter. Our little verandah vege patch is growing well, much to the delight of Little Miss who squeals with delight each time a tomato turns red.

My parents live nearby and have a big block full of fruit trees and vegetable plants. Last weekend we came home from visiting them with a couple of shopping bags full of oranges and today the kids helped me to juice them. It was a lot of fun :) They loved operating the juicer and seeing how all the parts whizzed around.

Mmmm... yummy fresh orange juice. Home grown and squeezed :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Amigurumi - free pattern

I've been wanting to try amigurumi for quite a while and was excited to find this free pattern by Beth Doherty:

Half-way through making this little robot friend, I realised I was hooked! (Sorry about the bad pun). So I ordered Beth Doherty's book:

I can't wait to give that bunny a go!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Simple Quilt: Beginner Tutorial - make in an afternoon :)

One of the things I love about craft blogs is the tutorials. I get excited when I find one! Recently I've noticed I'm also getting a bit of traffic on this site (quite a shock to find I'm not just talking to myself).

So... in the interest of giving something back, I thought I'd give writing a tutorial a go. Please bear in mind that I have three small kids (sometimes literally) hanging from my shirt tails, so it might not be the most comprehensive tutorial ever, but hopefully it might help someone (somewhere) out :) Please feel free to tell me how many holes I've left in the instructions, ask me questions or berrate me for confusing you!!

*DISCLAIMER* I am by no means an accomplished seamstress. I think anyone who really knows what they are doing will look at my work and shudder. But hey, it's functional, simple and does the job :) Mr Z's quilt is now five years old and still going strong, no repairs have been required :)


You need:

* fabric strips (for a cot sized quilt you'll need approx a dozen strips measuring 12cm x 85cm)
* bias binding (buy or make your own, see here for a tutorial)
* polar fleece - you'll need a piece that's slightly larger than the quilt you are wanting to make

Step 1, lay your fabric strips out to find the combination/pattern you'd like to end up with

Step 2, Sew the strips together to form the top part of your blanket/quilt. Iron the finished piece. I hate ironing, but trust me, it's worth the effort to press this top part thoroughly :)

Step 3, Lay your pieced together strips onto your piece of polar fleece. I bought a new Queen sized polar blanket for under $10, and then trimmed it down to size. I will be able to get two more cot quilts from this same blanket :) There might be some left for some softies, too.

Be sure to leave at least an inch around the edges of the top part - polar fleece stretches slightly as you sew it and you might need to allow for this.

Step 4, Starting at one corner, pin along one of the long sides of your quilt. Pin along one of the short edges of your quilt. You will start sewing at the corner where your two rows of pins meet. Don't use too many pins as you will no doubt have to move them as the fleece stretches. I used 12 - 15 pins along each side and it was pretty perfect :)

The dots are where I put my pins.
Step 5, Now sew! Starting at one end of the quilt, sew along the top (shorter - pink dots) edge of your quilt. Then sew the joins in your strips. As you go, add an extra row of stitching along the middle of each strip (see picture).

My apologies for the wrinklies - I actually went and took this photo after I had put the blanket through the wash. I like the wrinkly/cuddly feel, but it makes it hard to photograph those (once straight) lines of stitches clearly.

*NB* The polar fleece will stretch, just go with it. It is more important to ensure that the fleece does not bunch up under your fabric strips. Keep it lined up as best you can, but remember you will be able to trim off excess polar fleece. You might need to move some pins as you go.
Step 6, trim off excess polar fleece.

Step 7, add bias binding to the edges. You might find a better tutorial on youtube, but here is how I do it (it's quick)

Pin along the side til you get to the corner

Turn the corner tightly with your tape

When you fold the tape down over the edges, it will bulge slightly at the corner. Do not panic!
Use your finger to shove the bias tape all the way into the corner - see arrow. Sorry, I can't really explain it any other way! Hopefully it makes sense when you are doing it.

The corner should now easily fold as above. As you can see it may wrinkle slightly. This means that you'll need to adjust your pins so it all lies flat. Sew right the way around your binding, adjusting as necessary. Remember, imperfections mean character :)

Step 8, if desired, add applique.

Step 9, enjoy! This snuggly blanket will keep little legs warm in the winter, long after they've outgrown their cot.

If you decide to make this easy quilt, I'd love to know :) When I made my first 'blankie' I couldn't find a simple tutorial for basic quilting that would be easy and cheap, so I hope this tutorial might help someone, somewhere to create something for somebody they love.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A blanket for baby...

I've got the mother-guilt today... bad. A few weeks ago (when it started getting cold), I quickly whipped up a quilty-blanket for the Small Boy. I didn't have time to run to Spotlight, so I just used up bits and pieces I had around the house.

The front part went fine - we recently went to a toga party, so I had loads of plain coloured fabric lying around, and I had some nice robot-y pieces left from making the bunting - but the back part was a bit tricky. I tend to back my quilts with polar fleece or flannel, but I had only small pieces of each left over from Mr Z's quilt (see here). In keeping with my new year's resolution (Why not... today), I thought I would just go for it and see how it went.

The result is a (slightly hourglass shaped) long, skinny quilt that I'm ashamed to photograph!!! Oh well, I can actually wrap him in it and the colours are nice enough that he seems to like looking at it! Maybe next year I'll unpick it and make it into something much nicer :)

Anyway, here's where the guilt part comes in. I have a very dear friend who is expecting her second baby - another little bundle of blue :) Some time ago I made her number one son a (similarly wonky and amateur) quilt. Now that I've had so much more practice (and developed more patience which I use occasionally) I was able, this week, to make a really nice bright cot blanket to send to her. I'm really happy with how it turned out. The best part is, it only took around 3 hours (and that was including stopping for biscuit breaks). I'll have to make Small Boy another to make up for the fact I was so slap-dash with his blankie!!!

Here is the (perfectly rectangle and nicely finished) gift quilt:

Tomorrow, I'll add a mini-tutorial of how to make your own :) It's not the grandest gift ever, but how nice to give a gift made with love :)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Biscuit 'Painting'

I can't believe we are three weeks into term already! Here's a little activity we did during the holidays, the kids are already begging to repeat it!

We used coloured icing in squeezy bottles to decorate Arrowroot biscuits. I had a few brand new empty squirty bottles in the cupboard which worked best, but we also re-used some tomato sauce bottles which were destined for the recycle bin.

We experimented together. We lay colours down side by side so see if the line would blur (it didn't). We made patterns on the biscuits and watched the colours run into the gaps. We dragged forks through the join lines to make funny, squiggly lines. We held the biscuits on their sides to watch the colours run down the biscuit surface. We decorated with lollies, finding the best contrast between icing and m&m colour. We had fun :)

Simple, fast and fun with minimal mess :) One tip, make sure you have people to visit after making these. You don't want all that sugar hanging around in your house ;)

Shutter/Bag Competition - you can win :)

I won! I'm getting a new camera bag courtesy of Shutter/Bag for my entry in their "What's in Your Bag" competition. It's a good job I'm creative, because my photography skills are still a work in progress ;)

If you'd also like a new camera bag, there's another chance to win one coming up soon. Just look for them on Facebook and like them to enter the draw :)

Here is my winning entry:

I love reading your comments, thanks for stopping by :)