Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mermaid Card

Here's the card.
This week we went for a shaker style card.
The background was a painted sea scape.
The window was made of two layers of packing box with a window cut out using a Stanley knife.
Then it was topped with a piece of plastic cut from the packaging of a toy.
The shaker then was filled with some little shells and a cut out, coloured and glittered mermaid.

Last mermaid picture, this one taken underwater ...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Making a Merbaby Outfit

I wouldn't normally dream of dressing my girls in matching outfits but rules are made to be broken. Here's Moonshine's outfit made from offcuts of Rainbow's plus a little tulle (15cm should do).

This is made from an existing pant pattern. Alternatively you could pick up a cheap pair of pants from an op shop and cut them up to draw your pattern.

Cutting the Pattern

I will insert the diagram showing how to cut it when I get a chance.

1. You extend the part that covers the nappy by 2cm. On some patterns the pants taper near the waist. You need to add the additional length in below this. I also tend to extend this part by another 2cm when making pants for babies as I find the cloth nappies are a bit bulkier.
2. Decide how long the pants are by measuring from the groin down the inner leg. Don't forget to add extra for the bottom hem.

Sewing it Up
There are two possible sequences for sewing pants. For this pair sew inner seam then front seam.

This will give you the front panel and back panel.

Next prepare the frills.
Cut 2 pieces 8 x 40cm of the tulle
Cut 2 pieces 6 x 40cm of the chiffon

Fold each piece in half. Lay the chiffon on top of the tulle so that the raw edges are in line.

Machine baste 1cm in, along the raw edge (largest stitch length, loosest tension). Pull the bobbin thread to gather the fabric.

Measure from the groin to decide how high you want the frill. Draw a line with a fabric marker. This is a good chance to check that when you pin the front and back together that the frills will meet. Place the frill on the fabric and adjust the gathers so that the frill is the same length as the fabric. Thread both the top and bobbin thread through a needle and make a few small stitches to secure at both ends. Adjust the gathering so it looks even. Pin the frill to the pants so that the gathering is on top of the line with the frill facing up. Sew 1cm from edge of frill.

Flip frill down. Then fold fabric up. Sew in gutter to secure.

Repeat for the back of pants.
Finish Off
Sew pants together at the side.
Sew channel at top for elastic.
Finish hem of shorts. This pair I hemmed then sewed a thin piece of elastic along inside of hem. This gives a little frill.
The spotty pair has a channel with elastic in it.
I hope this make sense. Tell me if anything needs elaborating.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Making a Mermaid Costume

This weekend we went to a mermaid party so obviously the girls needed a little transformation.

From my internet surfing I found you have two options a tight skirt that frills out at the bottom or a long skirt with a fish tail hanging off the back. I opted for the later because it's a more literal translation for a two year old and more practical for playing. Interestingly it was the costume style worn by every mermaid at the party. Unable to find a tutorial to create the skirt I imagined I created my own. I'm very proud of this as it's the first piece of clothing I have made of my own design.


Another positive is that both costume cost less than $10. I brought 50cm of a aqua chiffon like fabric with a glittery silver pattern and 30 cm of aqua netting (for merbaby). You could use any pretty mermaid like fabric.

For the lining I used 70 cm (50cm if you're just making a mermaid skirt) of aqua cotton that I had at home. You also need a small piece of batting, matching thread and elastic.

I used a papery fabric that is used for tracing patterns. You could also use calico or a cheap cotton.

  1. Draw up a dummy skirt. This will become your template for the eventual skirt. Here is the pattern soon to be added. It's all straight lines so really easy to draw up straight onto the fabric.

  2. Cut out the dummy skirt and sew it together at the sides using a 1.5 cm seam allowance (or what ever seam allowance you intend to use .

  3. Fold over about 2.5 cm at the top. This will form the waistband.

  4. Ideally try it on your child now and mark the top of the knee in the middle of the front piece and their ankle in the middle of the back piece.

  5. Lie the dummy skirt on the floor (remove the child first) with the skirt folded so that the middle of the front piece is on one side and the middle of the back is on the other side. In other words the seams are lined up in the middle. This will enable you to get a symetrical template.

  6. Now draw in the hem line. It starts (at the bottom of the photo) just above the knee (remember the mark you made). It travels across then gently curves and ends in line with the ankle mark. From here draw on your tail. This was my draft - my husband made it a little more fish like. If I make this again I would make the piece where the tail joins on wider to make turning easier.

  7. Cut along your line through both layers.

  8. Unpick your seam. This will give you your pattern.

  9. Pin your pattern to your fabric (cotton and chiffon). Cut a top and bottom out of each fabric.

  10. Sew the front and back pieces together at the side, right side together. Repeat using the lining fabric.

  11. Turn the top layer so that the right side is on the outside. Place the lining skirt inside the top layer. The two layers should be right sides together and the seams and edges should match up.

  12. Lie batting ontop of the fish tail and cut out. By lying the battin on top of the chiffon the edges get tucked behind the lining layer where they aren't visible.
  13. Pin together along lower seam and tail. Sew.

  14. Re-enforce the tail by going around it with a zigzag stitch.Then trim off the excess close to the zigzag stitch.

  15. Turn the skirt throught the open waist so that the right side is on the outside. This is where a wider tail opening would help. I eventually unpicked the stitches around the tail and closed the edges afterwards.

  16. Top stitch around the bottom hem and tail.

  17. Turn over a 2.5cm hem along the top with both layers together. Insert elastic.

  18. Sew along the bottom hem using a gathering stitch (longest stitch length, low tension). Pull the bobbin thread to gather the bottom hem into a frill. Sew along basting with a normal stitch.
  19. A dangly tail can get in the way so add a matching button on the waistband and a buttonhole on the end of the tail.

It's kind of like a mermaid bustle. Alternatively you could add a small loop of cord or ribbon to one end of the tail so that it can be looped over the wrist.

There you are your skirt is complete.

You might like to whip up an applique t-shirt using the scraps.

You can find this little fish here.

Or a matching hair lacky. This is very simple just cut any matching fibres (strips of tulle, ribbon, wool...) about 15cm long and tie them around the hair lacky until the circle is complete,

Flotsam and Getsam

Look what I found at the beach today.

Two lovely little mermaids.

So I took them home and put them to bed.

This little mermaid slept for 2 hours.

This little merbaby slept for 3 hours.

It's tiring being a mermaid!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Short Pants

I've been busy this week designing and making costumes for the next birthday party - a mermaid and pirate party. I will post pictures as soon as it's finished and some clues as to how to go about making your own. To make Moonshine's costume 'crawler friendly' I've opted for shorts. So the first task was recutting an existing pattern for pants into shorts. Here's the test model.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ladybird Ladybird fly away home

Not very long ago I had only five pins. Dress making is very challenging with only 5 pins. You probably shouldn't ask me how I came to only have five pins. It's a bit of a 'sore' point (literally and figuratively) with my husband. So I purchased this box from my local op shop.
I wonder what stories these little pins could tell. Have they held up a wedding dress, shortened a christening gown or held together a tea cosy . They have made history and now they're being redeployed. So to avoid a repeat of what happened to my last (unloyal) pins I made a pin cushion. I've never had a pin cushion and thought a wrist one would be very handy both at the machine, on the floor and in my arm chair. Now it's very lucky to have a ladybird land on you (unless you're an aphid then it's incredibly unlucky) so what better than a ladybird wrist cushion.
When Rainbow was little I made the little nappy bag that I carry in my handbag. I think it's as minimalistic as a nappy bag can be and contains a few compostable nappy bin bag, small container of wipes, one nappy and one nappy liner. The little ladybird that lives in the little pocket on the front is to distract mobile babies that don't want to lie on their back. It has a small bell inside. So this little felt ladybird was my model for the pincushion. The body is one piece (top and bottom) sewn together and stuffed. The wings are two heart halves sewn together. The spots are embroidered with satin stitch. The wings are joined to the body with a stitch at the top of each wing. They can be swivelled open and are good for holding needles.
The strap is two layers blanket stitched together. It closes with velcro.

Fish Cakes

Moonshine enjoys finger food and I enjoy not having to feed her so we're cooking lots of the finger food that we used when Rainbow was little. This one is super easy and makes enough for all three of us for lunch. It can be eaten warm or cold and tastes good too.
Mash together:
1 medium potato (cooked and mashed - I cook extra the night before)
1 T butter
100g tin of tuna (in springwater or a flavoured tuna - such as lemon and back pepper)
1T lemon juice
1 spring onion sliced
Roll in beaten egg and breadcrumbs.
Pan fry in a little oil or oven bake on baking paper.
I like it served with lemon, salad and bread.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Remember months ago I told you about Trixi's adorable little travelling doll's house. Well the other day I was showing my husband on the website and Rainbow saw the pictures and fell in love. So the other day we made one. When I say we I mean I made it to Rainbow's specifications while trying to keep tiny buttons out of Moonshine's grasp.
The photos are a little shoddy but isn't it so cute. At the moment it hasn't got a resident. Any ideas?

We followed it up with another 'home' activity where Rainbow could have more imput. This is another birthday card. The door and 3 of the windows contain little sticker animals. The other window has a birthday message.

Look who's crawling!

Moonshine crawled for the first time yesterday. It was suddenly like she knew what she was meant to be doing with her legs. She had previously been moving her arms then bunny hopping her knees. The first time she lifted one knee she lifted it so high that she fell over sideways. Then after that she worked it out. The first crawl was just to her toybox. Since then she's done a lot of practising. The most she has travelled in one go is about half a metre and already she's getting up to mischief. She crawled over to suck on the bead at the end of the blind cord. She's pulled every single nappy wipe out of a box and eaten everybit of paper left lying around.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Followers - makes it sound like a cult

Hey, have you noticed I've got two new followers. How did that happen! It's strange - it gives you a real sense of audience. I now think - I wonder if they'll be interested in this. Anyway - welcome, enjoy, leave heaps of comments. Oh and come back and check the commetns because I do tend to reply - I think I need more social contact over the course of a day. And if there are any topics that are boring you or you want more of tell me.

Quick thought

As of yesterday Moonshine has now been out of my tummy longer than she was in it. Unbelievable!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Contact Collage

We know 26 children that are born between September and December (including Rainbow) and only 5 over the other 8 months. Currently a lot of our craft is around making cards and most of our play is around birthday parties for the dolls. And very soon a lot of my craft is going to be about planning a party for Rainbow.

This is one card we did on the weekend. (The invitation and cakes (yes there were 3 cakes) were a giraffe and a zebra. So here's Rainbow's zebra. It's so Rainbow that the spots are placed as an orderly border. Check out her stars in the mouse house.)

This collage was made onto a sheet of contact (clear adhesive plastic used to cover books). Then once complete another piece of contact was placed over the top holding all of the bits in place and attaching it on to the card.


  1. This method looks equally effective with randomly placed bits. This makes it a really good first collage for children without wielding glue.
  2. You can also cut out a shape from the card (such as a birthday cake, animal or a Christmas tree) and attach the contact before they start collaging.
  3. These look great pinned on windows.
  4. You can get a stained glass look using lots of cellophane in the collage.
  5. Like most crafts it can be improved (in the eyes of a two year old) with lots and lots of glitter.

Here's Rainbow's collage materials.

The little box contains paper scraps - some cute from wrapping paper, others scrapbooking scraps.

The bigger box contains all sorts of little odds and ends - straws, fabric, bubblewrap, bottletops...

There is a much bigger box under Rainbow's bed that holds a collection of empty boxes and cartons and rolls.

The round containers hold dyed macaroni, scraps of cellophane, scraps of Easter egg wrappers, dyed matchsticks and buttons

The open draw is also meant to hold masking tape and sticky tape. Rainbow also uses clag and PVA glue but these are stored out of her reach, along with the paint.

These craft materials have recently moved onto her toy shelf so she can help herself. Though this will probably change once you know who is mobile. I would love to solve this problem by getting Rainbow a desk (out of Moonshine's reach for now) but we really haven't got the space for anymore furniture.


When Russell went into collect Moonshine this morning the first thing he saw was her nappy on the floor. There she was sitting at the top of her bed in a rather large puddle. So now I have two girls who don't want to keep their clothes on! Thank goodness for our warm climate.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Stomp Stomp

We went to 3 parties this weekend (a first, a second and a third). Each party ending with an enormous party bag. When I was little the party bag contained a handful of lollies. These days they contain drinks, chips, bags of biscuits, mini chocolate bars, games, toys, stickers and the lollies. Last year I use to take out all the toffee style lollies and lolly pops and drip feed the rest to her over several days but this year I've decided the best approach is to let Rainbow gorge and devour the whole bag. I think this is better for the teeth then periodically bathing them in sugar and also it reduces a little the idea of junk food as 'special'.

We often do this with meals too. If there is dessert we put it out with the main. Then Rainbow eats what she wants rather than holding out for dessert. Similarly if we're having something like a casserole (which Rainbow isn't so keen on) we serve hers with some things that she does like (maybe whole grain bread, yoghurt, fruit, cheese...). This means she can eat what she wants, her meal is basically healthy and there's no senses of cooking a special meal for a fussy eater.

This is the philosophy of a woman with a very sweet tooth!

Anyway - 3 parties this weekend. The first was a 2 hours drive (each way) on a fairly straight road so i decided to take one of my hand embroidery projects. I wish I'd packed the other one too as I had finished it in about 1/2 hour (even with passing it back to Rainbow for her admiration every 5 minutes.

To make the shirt I basically scanned and printed one of Rainbow's drawings so that it would fit on the t-shirt. I really love these early drawings. I also printed the writing. I then traced it on to interfacing and ironed it on. I used chain stitch for the elephant, backstitch for the writing at the top and to outline 'stomp' and satin stitch to fill it in. I've always hated how my satin stitch looks but I realised it's because I'm comparing it to machine stitching which looks so much flatter. I found this tutorial which helped.
One thing I discovered sewing in the car is how much easier it is sewing in daylight. You probably can't tell from the photos but some of the letters at the top are blue while others are black.

Rainbow loves her new top "It's so pretty." so I'm pleased.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Baking a Silver Lining

The past two mornings have started at 4.40. Damn you West Aussies for voting no to daylight savings!
Every cloud has a silver lining. It's amazing to have the kids dressed and fed and Moonshine down for a nap before Russell leaves for work. I've also had time for some baking.
Yesterday I baked a Nigella Lawson chocolate cake. I found this one on the Internet. It's not a sinful as most of her cakes almost a bit like a chocolate sponge. It looks really impressive and serves well so would make a great entertaining cake. I just did a half batch (and 1/3 of the fudge icing). Nigella had another layer on top so hers must stand 8 or 9 cm tall. She suggests it serves 10. They must be massive slices.

I also made Moonshine some baby pancakes. She loves them. They're very healthy with no processed sugar and very little fat and don't contain egg white or milk. They're very sweet with the banana and fruit juice. Moonshine's also had sultanas as I used muesli rather than oats.
I found them a bit sticky to cook as a pancake so cooked them for about 15 mins in the oven on baking paper (like cookies) and turned them half way through.
That got me thinking anything pureed could be turned into baby biscuits. So this morning I was making porridge with apricots and banana. (1/3c oats, 1 chopped banana, 4 dried apricots, 1 1/2 c water. Cook for about 10min. Mash or puree) So I dolloped some on the baking paper and there we go. The resulting cookie was a little flat so I rolled it up 'baby cigar'. (Perhaps not the best title!) Perfect finger food.

Tomorrow I'm planning on baking chocolate chip cookies for a friend and her two (almost three - 2 weeks to go!) boys. A year or so back I went on a hunt to find the best chewy choc chip cookie and this is the best! The problem is if you count on a child's sleep they'll do the opposite so we'll see.
Nothing crafty to show this week - my beloved machine is away being serviced. I have two hand sewing projects that are oh so close to being finished but I'm too tired to do it. It took me so long to get Moonshine to sleep this afternoon that Rainbow fell asleep on the couch waiting for her story. I then tried having a sleep but Moonshine woke after an hour. (See what I mean -you can't plan around children - she normally sleeps 2 hours in the afternoon!)
Moonshine's latest trick is that she can get from lying on her back to a sitting position (via rolling over and hands and knees). She gave me a real fright last night when I went to her. I could hear her crying but couldn't see her in the cot. Eventually I found her sitting in the corner. She then proceeded to pull herself up to her knees using the side of the cot so we'll be lowering the mattress this weekend. I'm excited for her that she's learning all these new skills. It's going to be life changing for Rainbow and I.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Up Up Up

Can you tell what this is? The photo isn't so good and I kind of squished it with the tweezer.
Look who got their second tick! What sort of mother takes a photo before removing parasite from baby. Our ticks don't have lymes disease (like the ones in the northern hemisphere) or cause paralysis (like those in the eastern states). By the time I got the tweezers it actually had let go so Moonshine has no effect. Unlike me who's covered with itchy sores from weeks gone by. They seem to particularly like me. Two new ones from the weekends trip. I wondered at one point whether maybe they were breeding on me but they don't breed on animals. They drop off lay eggs in the grass. Then once hatched they climb up long grass where they stand with their front arms raised waiting to leap on a passing animal. Isn't that a cute image - little insects chanting 'up, up. up'.