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Excel Weekly Menu Planner: Free Download

Excel Weekly Menu Planner: Free Download

A few weeks ago we made a little menu planner in Excel so that I could better keep track of what items I had to use in my fridge, freezer and store cupboards, and to help me shop more sustainably with less waste. I have […]

Teacher’s End Of Term Gifts: Beautiful Personalised Notebook and Pen

Teacher’s End Of Term Gifts: Beautiful Personalised Notebook and Pen

I’d always intended to get around to making gifts for the teachers of my little boy’s nursery, as we have handmade them for every gifting occasion for the past two and a half years that he has attended. This year, however, we did not get […]

Making Round Up: Dinosaurs, Manatees And Bats.

Making Round Up: Dinosaurs, Manatees And Bats.

The first half of July has been full of new things I have put my hands to making. It has taken so long, but I have finally found something of ‘me’ in this experience. After sewing for simple necessity, I’ve been enjoying both hand and machine sewing things less necessary and more for the pure joy of it.

I started to feel a bit more capable as I finished of the little felt Dinosaur kit that had arrived as a cover gift from Mollie Makes magazine. He was the least practical of projects (the best kind) and I think he’ll be joining my Christmas tree decorations this year. He was very easily hand stitched with very simplistic little decorative touches, and only took an hour to complete. It was just the little stepping stone self care project that I needed.

Next, I found a small piece of gingham fabric, just big enough to squeeze a manatee out of. She was an extremely simple piece of sewing, with a couple of safety eyes and some nostrils painted on with acrylics, for personality. I love manatees. They are my absolute, number one, favourite animals ever. manatees are my kind of personality: slow, and happy, and thoughtful. The pattern for this little friend is from DIY Fluffies and is an extremely simple make. She can be made from woven fabric and sewn very, very quickly.

Beautifully times for around our anniversary, Russell finished the tapestry cushion kit that I put together for him back in Christmas of 2017. It took a good two and a half years to finish, though he worked on it quite sporadically. I remember as he was stitching it that I thought it would be the most ridiculously huge cushion ever to be made. I imagined this big cumbersome thing that we threw onto the floor because it had no rightful place on the furniture, but it turned out only to be an average sized cushion, smaller than those that we have on the sofa. Partly this is the transformation of the flat, laid-out piece of needlework into this full and bouncy 3D object, but it is also partly the cotton canvas and yarn shrinking the second it hit the water. It turned out perfectly cushion-sized in the end.

The work is 100% Russell’s. The illustration that I had the canvas printed from was by Hello Hinny, with a few minor tweaks to eye shape (to make them more stitch-able) and to extend the background out to a square. I made a lapped zip back from some heavy cotton drill I bought at Ikea last year (waiting for this very job) and took the opportunity to re-back the handspun crocheted rainbow cushion with the same fabric and matching zip. I need to make a new pad for that one as it has definitely lost a bit of loft over time, mostly because it is my little boy’s favourite cushion and so suffers all of the abuses that an imaginative 4 year old might throw at it as he jumps upon it at great heights.

Finally, a bat. My next door neighbour is just finishing her time at primary school, at the same time my little boy is about to begin his, and I wanted to make a little gift to mark the change for her. I always used to pick up the (now discontinued) £2 polar fleece blankets in various colours any time I went to Ikea, as they were great for making soft toys from. I chose a bat simply as I only had bits of grey and purple fleece left, and the colours seemed to work. Since making the first one I have whipped up a second as my Ma requested one for herself. Features have been appliquéd on and I have given them little beady safety eyes purely because I have a box of them at my disposal and they look rather comical. The pattern for this one is a free one from Choly Knight (who has an absolutely incredible range of free toy patterns available).

So, that’s thats a few little projects completed to brighten up the home or other people’s days. I know that one little bat has found its way into prime cuddling position as it has been taken to bed as a cuddle pal over the last few days. I hope it shan’t be too long before I am able to give the there bat to my ma, as needing to stay at home rumbles on.

I hope that you are well, staying safe, and have a little bit of brightness in your home today.

Growing Paper Plants

Growing Paper Plants

I have given up on green things. I have a love of the wide green outdoors: the kind of outdoors of woodlands and shaded streams rather than sunny spots and beaches. As we are in a flat and so have no garden, and can’t go […]

Putting Together An Isolation Wardrobe

Putting Together An Isolation Wardrobe

I’ve never enjoyed clothes shopping, and I’m happy to wear my clothes until they are worn out and unfixable, so my wardrobe this spring and summer are the same as my wardrobe last spring and summer, but this isn’t working for my four year old […]

Pyjama Days

Pyjama Days

We don’t just have pyjama days anymore. My little boy in particular, likes to have whole pyjama weeks since we started lockdown. Pyjamas are the most comfortable clothes that we own, and right now comfort is very much sought after. Because of this we have found ourselves needing a few more sets of pyjamas now that they were being worn both day and night and into the humid summer.

As the weather was warming up we really wanted some nice short pyjamas to help with being as comfortable as possible in the heat, but all of the shops were sold out online (I assume because of everyone having pyjama weeks) and fresh on the success of my self-sewn slippers I decided that I should try to make some pyjamas myself. My son really loves the deep fabric waistband style of knit cotton trousers that brands such as Maxamorra make, so I looked around for a shorts style as close to that as possible and found the MadeByMe shorts pattern on Etsy to print at home.

The pattern seems to take a lot less fabric than the simple straight wide leg style shorts, which allowed me to squeeze more pieces out of the fabric that I had (fabric, by the way, that I bought when my little boy was less than a year old, when I was put off sewing by a simple length of fold-over-elastic (a story for later*).

Because I was able to spend a bit of time shuffling my pattern pieces around my fabric, I was able to squeeze two pairs of shorts and a pyjama vest out of the fabric I had, though I cut the fabric so tight that I had to make all of the bands and shorts cuffs from some contrast ribbing.

Buoyed up by making something wearable and practical I decided to cut into the only other bit of knit fabric that I possessed: some dinosaur fabric that I also bought for baby clothes before getting too nervous. I managed to squeeze another couple of pairs of shorts, a pyjama vest and a short sleeved pyjama top from this second piece.

The second pair of pyjama shorts (which are currently in the wash) are almost identical to the ones above with the one difference being that the shorts cuffs are made from the dinosaur fabric, to prevent as much fabric waste as possible.

The pyjama vests for both sets are made using another MadeByMe pattern for ‘tank top & shorts’. The patterns I have tried from this seller seem to be well produced and true to size, with some patterns providing layered PDFs for single size printing.

Because my little boy is tall and slim, I have used the size 5-6 shorts but used the age 2-3 waistband. Otherwise, the patterns are made to the pattern specifications for the 5-6 size.

The T-shirt is a mod of the vest pattern, adapting the pattern pieces to widen the shoulders and adjust the neckline very slightly, and to add a short sleeve.

I have sewn all of the pyjama pieces almost entirely using the overlocker, an achievement of which I am quite proud, not for the element of skill but of bravery. Friends, I have even had to buy new thread cones because I have been using it so much! I only swapped to the standard sewing machine to finish the bottom hems with a twin needle.

I still have refinements to make in trying to find the balance between the tunnelling and the degree of stretch I want from the twin needle, and trying the woolly nylon (which I have owned for ages and always forget about) in the bobbin, but these are mere tweaks. For now we have lots of lovely pyjamas and some more pyjama weeks ahead.


*Four years ago I was making an envelope-neck style t-shirt for a 6 month old and had no overlocker, twin needle or knit bias binding, etc, and somebody told me that the best thing to use was fold-over elastic. I really couldn’t stand working with that stuff and found it so bulky on such a tiny garment that I decided sewing children’s clothing was not for me. A silly thought, I know, and it has taken me until now, until a scarcity of pyjamas of all things, to rectify this wrongthink.


Coddswallop

Our First Two Years Together

Our First Two Years Together

It’s been two years since our family grew by one. I think we were always a family, Russell and I. From, perhaps, the day that I felt like I trusted in his goodness to let go of that little bit of certainty and security of the path I was on, soon to have my own little place to live, and took the leap that I could trust in this human to be good and to care and love enough that I could uproot once more and move in with him to a pokey little cold flat in Whitley Bay. Boy it was cold. And it was so tiny! But perhaps it was my favourite of all the places that I have lived due to it being where our story began and the first place in which I had felt safe in a very, very long time.

But my favourite chapters of the story so far all burst into colour two years ago when a tiny human popped into our world, a mixture of Russell and I. This whopping great blackcurrant stained baby shot into the world at a faster rate than I could really handle it. But after all the worry and panic there lay this 9lb bruise with a wrinkle for a nose and Russell and I cradled pure love in our arms. It had not been so very long previously that I did not think that I could trust anyone to truly love in my lifetime, and now I had these two pillars of love, one huge and protecting and one (not so very) tiny, heartbeat fluttering fast upon my chest, and I knew that I would never feel the same again. And our family was strong.

I truly love being a parent, but as so many people will tell you, parenthood is tough. Gosh, yes we have our off days. Tired, grumpy days, days of illness and the mystery maladies of baby and toddlerhood, sometimes that write themselves apparent three days after the screams and sobs with a scarlet rash and sometimes which manifest on no physical symptoms that you will ever detect and are put down to some mystical condition which may or may not have existed. And you are always, always doing it wrong. So says that lady in the supermarket, or the health visitor who you’ve known for four minutes of your life, or that relation who’d do that differently, or the neighbour who is old enough to remember when babies did not cry because in those days 10 month old babies did as they were instructed, and probably earned their keep down the mines at the same time.

If my little boy knows or feels anything I would hope it is just how perfectly I love him and that I love learning from him more than from any of those people. I hope that Russell and I can teach him, above all else, how to be kind, how to be thoughtful and how to have empathy for all the people whose lives touch on his. I do not expect that as he grows and natually makes mistakes for him to always be good, or that he will always make the right choice, but I do so hope that we will always have time to put three chairs around the table and to talk about how we feel and how others might feel, and the effect of our actions on others. And from him I am learning how to best see the world anew. How the most basic and fundamental feelings that I have can be best nurtured and put to use. I am tougher in my resolve to surround myself with good and kind people and to not let damaging influences into our lives without guard, and to that end I have a strong determination to stand up for my family and to know when to say ‘no more’.

I hope that our third year together will be one of greater learning and growth. I hope it will be full of rainbows and colour, but when there are grey days that we can make things better with love and understanding. I hope that that there will be laughter, kindness, and, importantly, dinosaurs.

 

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