When I have the time, I really like to make my own gifts rather than finding something at the shop. As well as being thrifty (sometimes) and creative (sometimes!), I like to think the time, effort and love that went into the gift is more than it would be if I’d bought the gift and… it means I don’t have to go near a mall – a huge bonus for me!
Christmas is usually crunch time with many many gifts to make, buy, think of. This past Christmas, I managed to make quite a few of the family gifts for the women (women are so much easier than men!) and my go to idea was a zipper pouch. I made some in cotton Shwe Shwe off cuts and then also some in a cream canvas that I had hand printed with the girls previously as part of an “art project”.
The pouches are all lined (sorry no picture). The Shwe Shwe ones are lined in bright green cotton and the hand print ones are lined in PUL left over from my nappy making.
The pattern is basically one that I’ve figured out as I went along but there are hundreds of tutorials out there and I particularly like the ones by Ros from Sew Delicious because they are clear with great pictures and it looks like she’s made a few thousand pouches in her time!
When I started running out of time and energy for sewing zipper pouches (and realised that my family has increased in size since I’ve returned to South Africa!), I fortuitously came across some plain canvas shopping bags. I them snapped up and had lots of fun making hand prints with the girls. I did consider trying to be a bit more creative (I’ve seen fun versions where hands are turned into owls, feet into butterflies etc) but my artistic skills weren’t going to extend that far.
Here’s little B demonstrating how it’s done:
The gifts were very well received and I had fun putting them together. Now for ideas for this year…?
For Christmas, I wanted to make outfits for the girls but of course I was quickly running out of time and my sewing agenda was focused on Christmas presents and christening dresses (more on that later). I was cute Christmas tutus in the shop and thought “I can make those” but my smart husband made me realise that the time and fabric cos would be far more than just getting them at the store…which is what we ended up doing.
Nevertheless, I was determined to add my own little bit of spice so, after the success of the Halloween t-shirts, I decided that painting Christmas t-shirts would be fun.
But this time I also wanted to get the girls involved in helping me make the shirts :-).
I used electrical tape (only because I didn’t have any masking tape) to tape off a chevron design…
…got the girls geared up in the their Ikea ‘hazmat’ suits (fantastic plastic coverall aprons) and set them loose on the t-shirts with hand printing.
Our lack of green paint meant that our Christmas Tree design came out quite red with a bit of blue in there too.
I peeled off the tape, added a stenciled yellow star (not pictured), and voila! We have modern, designer chevron Christmas t-shirts! It was a really fun project and so great to get the girls involved in the creation.
Despite all the current chaos in our lives, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make something cute for the girls for Halloween.
I was inspired by a cute onesie I saw at Cotton On but they stopped at size 12mo so my big babbas weren’t gonna squish into those. So of course I decided to make them!
I have never screen printed anything or even done much in the way of fabric painting but after this debut, I’m hooked! Why didn’t anyone mention how fun it is to paint stencils onto fabric?! I got some fabric paint from the hardware store plus some contact plastic (the heavy duty type you use for drawer liners) and then two plain white vests.
I drew some test designs (ok I traced from the screen of my phone!!) and then cut them out of the contact plastic with a craft knife. I stuck the plastic onto the fabric and painted using a sponge to dab the paint on. Let it dry and voila!
Next was to create the text for my Twinkle t-shirts. A little more difficult and fiddly but I got it to work. Same procedure but just made sure the yellow star stayed away from the black paint. I reused the same stencil for both shirts and it worked fine to use the same one twice. In my early experiments I used he same stencil multiple times and I think the limit it three times.
And voila! Two little Twin(kle) tops!
I made sparkly skirts to go with them. A simple circle skirt with while fold over elastic sewn in at the waist band. And the fabric didn’t even need a hem! Hoorah! Super easy and fun and my little ‘B’ loves her skirt! Little ‘A’ who is still crawling doesn’t love it as much 🙂
Our short trick-or-treat escapade was a fun little outing. And I had to show fellow twin mom the shirts.
I’m definitely keen to try more screen printing! I’m not sure I can even classify his simple stencil paint job as screen printing but it’s fun nonetheless.
Apologies for the radio silence from me. Not only have I been juggling twincesses, full time work and general wifing, domestic goddessing (or not) and pure survival but back in June, we moved across the world. For anyone who has done this with small children, you can hopefully understand the complete chaos that we lived through and are still living in! Needless to say, we made it safely across to the beautiful Mother City of Cape Town and are slowly finding our feet and building our nest. But all fun sewing projects are on pause and I’ve just been fixing blinds, sorting out things for the girls and just general boring “admin” sewing.
For now, all I have to share is a quick fix fitted cot sheet that I made in haste when I realised I only had one fitted sheet. I was given a lovely flannel receiving blanket complete with crochet edges as a hand-me-down from my sister-in-law. It was a good size for our travel cots (yes my dahlings have been sleeping in travel cots for months!) and with a quick addition of elastic zig-zagged along the edges, I had a great fitted sheet that works a charm!
Soon after the birth of the munchkins I realised that I needed many more button down shirts for quick nursing access. Also all those cute little nursing for discreet breastfeeding weren’t really going to work with the twin feeding that was taking up most of my time. As much as I like my pattern for the Lesley blouse, I figured, I needed something that was a bit more forgiving and hid some of the mamma ‘magic’ that was still sitting around my waist. And so the Forgiving Floral Shirt was born.
The pattern is an adaptation of my Lesley Blouse: I left out the waist darts, made the sleeves less fitted and the cuffs not as wide (more normal!). Everything else is pretty much the same but I used quite a light interfacing for the collar and the lightweight fun floral makes a whole shirt much more casual.
Needless to say, it took quite a while to come together and even longer to photograph and upload here but I think it came out pretty well and I enjoy wearing it. The photos above makes it looks like the bottom doesn’t line up properly but I think that’s a function of not properly ironing the shirt (who has time to IRON??!!) rather than a terrible sewing faux pas – although it’s highly likely it doesn’t line up 100%. The other thing I don’t really like about the finished product is the button holes: I tried to forego interfacing on the button stand and instead fold over the front piece fabric to create some stiffness. But I think the fabric is too light for that and my button holes don’t look amazing. They work but they look a bit home-made…if you know what I mean?
The fabric was a piece given to me that initially I thought was Liberty of London but I think it’s just pretending to be such high class!
Fun shirt…that I hope to wear more this winter.
Pattern: My own Lesley Blouse pattern with a few key alterations
Fabric: Lightweight Floral cotton from the fairy godmother stash. Thought it was Liberty but actually think it’s just wanna be Liberty
Alterations: No waist darts, re-drew the cuffs to be narrower, less fitted; Double checked the shirt was long enough and the shaping at the bottom provided enough slit on the side.
Do it again: Perhaps…but watch out for the non-interfaced button stands if using lightweight fabric.
For a long time (ie many years before the girls were born), I had thinking about, researching and even buying supplies to make my own modern cloth nappies (MCNs) – diapers for you yanks out there.
I know it’s a bit of a weird thing to have dedicated so much creative energy to way before I could even use such things, but I was intrigued and quickly became committed to the idea for environmental, cost and health benefits. Also I think the modern cloth nappies you can get these days are so much cuter than disposables. When I discovered I was having twins I still wasn’t deterred even though people thought I was crazy and made comments like: “You must really love doing laundry!”. But the challenge was set and I embraced it whole heartedly.
I did lots of online research on patterns and fabrics and made a bunch of prototypes before the girls arrived. Then once I had actual models I could tweak designs and figure out what worked best for us. Once I had a pattern that I liked I spurge do on some awesome outer fabrics (waterproof PUL) and made about 12 nappies that are still in every day use.
Each time I hang up a load of clean nappies I think: “Another pile of nappies that didn’t go to landfill – yay!”.
Ps I realise that I may need to do another post on nappies with more of the technical details…for now just enjoy the pics!
Not only is Christmas a time of friends, family and too much food; but when there are two babies in the house it’s a time for ridiculous Christmas themed outfits! Besides the essential Father Christmas and Elf store bought onesie, I managed to carve out some time to make Aussie Christmas dresses for the girls.
The fabric is a cotton that I found at Lincraft and I just love the Aussie animals on the red one. The pattern is simple self-drafted pattern based in another dress. It’s just a lined bodice that ties at the shoulders and a gathered skirt. The fit around the chest isn’t amazing but it was definitely fine for a dress that sadly will only get a few wears. I did max out the dresses’ exposure by making sure the girls wore them 4 times over the holidays!