Monthly Archives: October 2013

Feeling lyrical

I have been finding myself with lyrics of songs running through my head over the last few days. I made a treasury on Etsy yesterday called “Let me take you down, ’cause I’m going to….” (followed of course by “Strawberry Fields.) As I sat down tonight to write this post the first thought in my head was “Do you ever stop and wonder…” which is the first line from Gomez’ Sound of Sounds. I read many years ago that if you listen to the lyrics that you find yourself singing absently, they will give you a good indication of your where your subconscious thought is. Now the first song I can work out easily – not so subconscious really – I saw a picture of some felt strawberry food, the song came into my head and away we went. But I do like the lyrics too – “Living is easy with eyes closed” and “There’s nothing to get hung about”…. quite psychedelic for a sweet sounding song really!

The second song? Ah. That is a little more complex. That shows that I am trying to work out how much of the last few days/weeks I share, and how much I make veiled references to, and how much I just don’t write about. Part of me wants to pour my heart out and completely overshare, but the sensible, logical part of me knows that this isn’t just my life I am writing about. So my compromise is to say that it has been a tumultuous couple of weeks, dealing with my boy and the issues that travel along with him. I have had to take time off work again, as I am worn out and worn down. I hate walking away from my team and not being a consistent leader, but I also know that I have to put my chicks and my health first. Miss N is leaving us earlier than expected, which is a shame, but means that she is home for the snow that she is missing. The best part of all of this though? My amazing mother, with the blessing of my father, flew in today to stay with us for a little while to help support all of us. The house feels lighter already. The boy loves her. He is insisting that she sleep on his trundle bed tonight, as Miss N is still in the spare bed. And bless her – she has agreed to do it. I am so lucky to have such wonderful parents, and that they are still fit and healthy enough to be able to do this.

The chaos of the week was added to when the washing machine decided to stop working mid-way through a cycle on Monday night. Of course the extended warranty finished a few months ago. I have never loved this machine – it has leaked and was noisy and no amount of service calls have fixed either problem. So, with the powers of internet research at my fingertips, the new one arrived today and has been put through it’s paces and we LOVE it. It is quiet! So quiet that we have checked several times to see if it is on! I feel more relaxed already!

But amongst the chaos was also joy. I awoke this morning to a notification that I had sold one of my bags, and that it had sold to someone in Arizona! The chicks have been waiting for the day when, in their words “some random person from overseas” buys one of my pieces. The middle chick announced “You are big in America Mum!” I laughed and enjoyed their joy and celebration! The bag is all bundled up, with a couple of extra gifts added, and ready to mail.

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The part that I really liked though, was that the purchaser has asked me to include the story of the fabric, and my philosophy in making it, etc, with the bag, as it is a gift. What a lovely idea! I am thinking that it might be a nice touch to add to other pieces that I sell, to personalise the sale even more. He also gave me some feedback about my search phrases, and other information on my Etsy shop, so it was a lovely exchange on all levels.

The other joy is the support that people offer when you least expect it. After a relatively public incident with the boy earlier in the week I have had lovely texts, random hugs “just because”, long late night phone calls to discuss craft, kids, and life, and quiet smiles of support over the heads of children being picked up from school. My community is amazing. My chicks and I are loved and supported – all four of us.

Other lyrics that have stayed with me this week include “It’s such a perfect day, I’m glad I spend it with you” and of course, “Plucked her eyebrows on the way, Shaved her legs and then he was a she” but that is because I heard the news that Lou Reed has passed away. I was horrified to hear that Miss N (22) had not only not heard of him, but didn’t know his songs! Sacrilege! So I tormented the chicks and her with Lou Reed songs over breakfast and had a beautiful walk down memory lane. The best article I read about him was called “13 reasons why you will never be a cool as Lou Reed.” Says it all really.

With a bit more sleep under my belt, I hope to get back to sewing in the next few days. I have realised that with Mum here I can make all the Christmas presents for the family in New Zealand for her to take home. Which has focussed me on Christmas a little earlier than planned – which may mean that I am organised earlier this year. But let’s not hold our breath on that one! I am thinking of some Christmas gift lists I might put together for you all to help with handmade gift ideas – which as usual seems like a nice idea but is really my completely selfish way of working out what I want to make for my friends and family! I do have a head start though – I am a guest contributor on Sew Mama Sew as part of their Handmade holidays series for November, with my eco friendly gifts being featured on 10 November! (To say that I am excited is an understatement!!)

My final lyric that has been running through my head tonight is from Steve Earle’s ‘Every part of me’. “I love you with all my heart, all my soul, every part of me”. Sums up how I feel about my chicks really. No matter how much heartache I go through for them, I still love them with every fibre in my being. I am lucky!

I hope that your week is going well, and that the lyrics providing the musical score for you life are wonderful ones!

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Tutorial – A cross body bag

Despite my intentions to prepare and post tutorials throughout the year, it has taken me quite a few months to actually sit down and write one up. I decided that if I was going to prepare one, it had to be for a bag that I like to make, and that I hadn’t already seen a tutorial for. So here we have my design for a cross body bag.  I love the versatility of these bags – great for slinging across your body when you are travelling, walking, shopping, or for having over your shoulder when you are feeling a bit more dressed up and business like!  The options for mixing and matching fabrics are endless – you can bling it up, or use recycled jeans, patchwork it, or have classy linen in muted tones.  As usual, the only limits are your imagination!

The qualifiers that I feel compelled to include up front include that the photos were taken at night with dodgy lighting, and then in the day with great natural light, so they aren’t terribly consistent in their quality.  Also, I made a couple of mistakes along the way – so I share those with you, and how I fixed them up.  The lesson – don’t copy me – learn from my trial and error!!  The pattern includes instructions for an outer pocket and an inner pocket – but of course I didn’t follow these instructions in making the bag in the photos, so the outer pocket photo is from a different bag, and the inner pocket is different dimensions….but you will get the drift – I promise!

Final dimensions – 9″ wide, 9″ long and 2″ deep.

Materials (in each case slightly more than you will need)
1/4 yard outer cotton
1/4 yard of inner cotton
1/4 yard fusible fleece (I like Vilene H604 as it is thicker and gives better body)
A magnetic snap (14mm or 18mm)
1 1/2 inch tri-glide strap adjustor and matching rectangle ring
Strong interfacing – 2 pieces approx. 2″ square (support for the magnetic snap)

Cutting pieces
Outer cotton
Body – rectangle 10 1/2″ x 21″
Flap – rectangle 10 1/2″ x 8 1/2″
Adjustable Strap – 2 x (1) 2″ x 10 1/2 plus 2 x (2) 2″ x 44″ (Width of fabric). (2 pieces – your choice whether you make it all from the outer fabric or a side from the inner)
Pocket – 5″ x 10″

Inner cotton
Body – rectangle 10 1/2″ x 21″
Flap – rectangle 10 1/2″ x 8 1/2″
Pocket – 2 x 8″ x 5″  (In these photos I used the outer fabric for the inner pocket – it provides a nice contrast, and highlights the process at the same time!)

Fleece (designed to be a bit smaller than the fabric to allow for tidy seams)
Body – rectangle 10 ” x 20 1/2″
Flap – rectangle 10 ” x 8″
Adjustable Strap 1 1/2″ x 10 1/2 plus 1 1/2″ x 44″

Notes on fabric
It is up to you whether you use all the same fabric for the inner and outer, or whether you mix it up and use the lining fabric for the outside pocket and the outer fabric for the inner pocket, whether you have a combination of fabrics on the strap, or just one. This one pattern can look very different through using very different fabrics. It is also a great pattern for embellishing with applique on the flap. I have made it using drill cotton, and quilting cotton. Using the fusible fleece gives it body and form, even when it is lightweight fabric.

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If you want to make a standard strap, without the adjustable slides, then just use the 44″ width, without the shorter piece. The magnetic snap is optional – but I find it useful to be able to close the bag for a bit of added security.

In this pattern the orange Chinoiserie (by Anna Griffin) is the outer, and the green millefiori (by Kaffe Fassett) is in the inner.

Instructions
1. Fuse the interface (the 2″ x2″ pieces) to the outer body piece, and the inner flap piece.  This interfacing is for providing support to the magnetic snap.

For the outer body piece, the interfacing will be attached to the wrong side of the fabric, so that it covers the point 7″ from the top of the piece (the top is the 10 1/2′ width), and half way across. (I usually just fold it length wise to find the middle, then put the piece of interfacing across the half way mark. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For the inner flap, the interfacing will be attached to the wrong side of the fabric, 9″ from the top of the flap (or 1 1/2″ from the bottom!), and half way across.  (The flap is 8 1/2″ wide and 10 1/2″ long). When determining which is the ‘top’ of the flap, consider the direction of any pattern – the snap will be at the bottom of the flap, so at the bottom of any directional print.

2. Fuse fleece to wrong side of outer fabric – body of the bag, the flap, and the strap. The fleece will cover the piece of interfacing that you have attached to the wrong side of the outer body.

3. Sew the strap. Place the wrong sides of the two short pieces together, and sew down either side with a 1/4″ seam.

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Turn inside out. Press the strap flat, with the seams flat, and top-stitch along both sides approximately 3/8″ from the edge. If you want to, you can stitch another row parallel to this, about the same distance in.  I usually turn the strap by attaching a safety pin and feeding it through the inside of the tube.  It can be a bit tight, but is manageable.
Repeat with the long strap pieces.

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4. To assemble the strap, fold the short piece in half, with the fabric that you want on the outer facing out. Slide the rectangle ring along the strap to the fold mark,

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then sew the ring in place securely, about 1/2″ away from the ring. (I normally use the edge of the presser foot as the guide.)

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Take the long piece of the strap, and fold it over the middle bar of the tri-glide buckle, and sew it down, tucking the raw end of the strap under to make it neat.  I normally sew a bit of reinforcing at this point.

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Then take the other end of the long strap, and slide it through the d-ring on the short piece, then back through the tri-glide buckle, going over the fabric attached to it.

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You now have your strap in one piece. If my pictures and description aren’t great then this tutorial by Nicole M Design is very helpful!

5.  The next step is to make your pockets.  For the outer pocket, fold the piece in half with the right sides together, so that you now have a 5″ square.  Sew along three sides, leaving a gap of about 3″ on one side, with a 1/4″ seam.  (The pocket in the photos is not the same dimensions, but the technique is the same.)

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Snip the corners carefully, then turn it inside out and press the seams flat.  Top stitch along the top of the pocket about 3/8″ from the edge.  (With a second line parallel to give it a nice finish if you wish.)

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This pocket will be attached to the rear of the bag, so you will be measuring from the opposite end that you measured for the interfacing.  I normally fold the pocket in half, and fold the body piece in half, so that I can line up the middle of the bag with the middle of the pocket.  Then measure 2 ” from the top of the bag, and, with the middle’s lined up, pin the pocket to the right side of the fabric.  Stitch along the side, across the bottom and back up the other side, making sure that you catch the seam that has been left open for the turning.  I normally try for about 3/8″ topstitching here too – and reinforce the tops of the pocket with a bit of extra stitching.  (I do love the reverse button on my machine for this!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI didn’t put a pocket on the bag I was making for the tutorial – but here is a photo of one I prepared earlier!

6. For the inner pocket the process if similar.  Put the two pieces together with the right sides together, and stich around all four sides, again leaving a gap for turning it out the right way.  Carefully clip the corners without cutting the stitches, then turn it out, and iron the seams flat.  Top stich along the top of the pocket and then attach it to the inner body of the bag.  Again I like to match the middle by folding the pocket and the bag and then lining them up, 2 1/2″ from the top of the inner piece.

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Stitch down the side, along the bottom and up the other side, again reinforcing the stitching at the beginning of the stitching and the end.  Then stich a line from the bottom of the pocket to the top at the mid point mark, reinforcing the stitching at the top and bottom.  This then gives you two 4″ pockets which are the right size for slipping a phone into, or keys, etc.  (In this bag my piece was smaller than 8″ wide, because I was trying to use up pieces that I had already cut, so the pockets are 4″ and 3″.)

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7. Assemble the flap.  If you want to embellish your flap, this is the time.  Some ideas are to use a solid fabric that contrasts or compliments your main fabric, or to use the same fabric as your main fabric for the body of the flap, and then applique on to it.  Once this is done, then you will create the curve at the bottom of the flap.  To do this place the two flap pieces with their right sides together.  Fold the fabric in half lengthwise, and then mark a spot 2″ from the bottom outer corner up the side and 2″ along the bottom.  Using chalk draw a curve between these two points (there is no such thing as a wrong curve with an area this small), then cut it through the four layers of fabric.

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8.  Before you sew the flap together you need to insert your magnetic snap.  To do this, fold, or measure to determine the middle of the flap, and mark a spot 9″ from the top of the bag (or 1 1/2″ from the bottom!)

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Then take the round flat piece of metal that comes with the snap, and centre the middle hole over your mark.  Mark the two long pieces with pencil or chalk, then cut those two long marks with a seam ripper, or a box-cutter with a sharp blade.  Then place the non-magnetic piece of the snap on the right side of the fabric and pass the two prongs through the two cuts.

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On the reverse side now place the metal guide over the prongs, and then bend the prongs down into the centre of the snap as flat as you can.

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9.  Then place your inner and outer flap pieces, right side together, and stitch around the edges, using a 1/4″ seam.  Don’t sew across the top of the flap.  Clip the edges of the curve, without clipping the seam, then turn it inside out, and iron it flat, making sure that the seams are properly pushed out.  (I have a lovely enamel blue chopstick that I use for this purpose – part of a sushi set my sister gave me years ago!).

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Then top stich around the edge about 3/8″ from the edge.  Again, you can do a second row parallel in order to give it a nice finish.

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10.  Next is putting together the bag inner.  Fold the inner body piece in half width wise, with the right sides together, so that you end up with a square of 10 1/2″ by 10 1/2″.  Sew up the two sides, using a 1/4″ seam.  If you have an overlocker (serger) this is a good time to use it to finish off the seams for some extra stability.

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11.  Then you are going to square off the base of the bag.  To do this, fold the side seam of the bag so that it lies on top of the fold across the bottom of the bag.  This will leave you with a triangle from the corner of the bag.

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(This is the outer bag in the photo – because I forgot to photograph the inner!)

Measure, pin and mark the point where this triangle is 2″ wide, with the 1″ mark falling on the side seam.  Repeat for the other corner.  Then sew across the mark.  Clip the corner off about 1/2″ from the seam.

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12.  Before assembling the outer body of the bag, you need to insert the other half of the magnetic snap.  Following the same procedure as you used for the flap, mark the spot 7″ from the top of the bag.  (If you like to have a bit more room to fill your bag a bit more, then you could move it up to 6 1/2″.)  This time you are cutting through the fused fleece, the interfacing, and the fabric, and inserting the magnetic half of the snap.

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13.  Then fold the outer body piece in half, right sides together, and sew up the two sides, with a 1/4″ seam.  Then square off the two bottom corners using the same method as the inner, and measuring 2″ wide.

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14.  Once this is done, turn the outer part of the bag so that the right side is facing out.  (Starting to take shape isn’t it?!)

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Now is the time to attach that strap, so take one end and pin it so that it sits long the outside of the side seam of the bag, and reaches just over the top of the bag’s top edge.  The right side of the strap should be facing the right side of the bag.  That means that the top of the tri-glide buckle will be facing in towards the bag.

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Sew across the top of the strap about 3/8″ from the edge to secure it to the bag.  Then, making sure that the strap isn’t twisted, sew the other side of the strap to the other side of the bag.

15.  Next up is the flap.  Line it up so that the top of the flap sits next to the top of the bag, with the right sides facing each other.  The flap should fill the gap between the two straps, and should be sitting on the opposite side of the bag to the side with the snap, and over the external pocket if you added one.  Pin it in place then stitch along the edge of the point where they join, about 3/8″ from the edge.  (This is to hold it in place and then you will stitch over it again a couple more times.  The main thing here is to remember that the next seam needs to be wider than whatever you have used here, so that your initial holding stitch doesn’t show.)

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16.  Now comes the magical part where the bits come together and turn into something greater than the whole of their parts!  (So poetic!)  Put the outer of the bag inside the inner bag, with the right sides together.  Tuck the flap and the straps inside in between the outer and inner so that they are flat at the top of the bag.  I like to have the inner pockets on the opposite side from the outer pocket, so the inner pockets go on the side away from the flap.

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17. Match up the side seams and pin along the edges, easing if you need to so that the two bags match up.  Then stitch along the edge of the top, using a seam between 1/4″ and 1/2″ – remembering that you need to cover the earlier stitching of the straps and the flap.  Start about two inches away from the middle on the front (the side where the magnetic snap is, and the flap isn’t) and sew all the way around, stopping about two inches from the middle on the front.  (In other words leaving a gap of about 4″ at the top to allow room to turn the bag out to the right sides.) Add some reinforcing stitching over the two straps, and the edges of the flap.

18.  Now turn the bag right side out by pulling it through the gap in the stitching.  You should end up with something like this below.

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19.  Now tuck the inner down inside the outer and iron the top so that the seam is flat and the gap is turned under ready for top stitching.  Next comes the top stitching.  As you will see, there are two options for this.  I started by sewing all the way around the top of the bag, making sure to catch the gap and close it, by sewing on the outside of the bag.

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20.  Unfortunately when I inspected my handiwork I discovered that this had happened to the inner lining.

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The top stitching over the flap was messy, had caught up the lining, and generally didn’t look very tidy.  So I unpicked it and re-stitched, this time sewing on the inside of the bag.

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And the finished product was much neater!

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A quick press with the iron and hey presto – you have a bag!

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I can’t wait to see what combinations you come up with to make your own bags – or bags as Christmas presents!  If you want to put a zipped pocket on the inside – or outside for that matter – then this tutorial from U-Handbag is a great guide on how to do it.  (And using a contrasting lining is always a nice touch!)

If you want to make the bag larger, it is just a matter of adding to the width, the length, and/or the depth (by making a wider triangle across the bottom corners).  To keep the flap covering the bag, you need to make the flap the width of the bag, less the depth of the bag.  In this case the width was 10 1/2″, and the depth was 2″,  so the flap needed to be 8 1/2″ wide.

Please let me know if you have any questions, and if I have missed anything along the way!  Happy sewing! If you want to use this pattern to make bags for selling, please credit me with the pattern by stating “Pattern by Theresa van Gessel of alittlebirdmademe.com.

Friday finds – a list of gifts to make for a 7 year old boy (with links to free tutorials)

In a few weeks time the boy will be turning 7. Oh my! My baby is really not a baby anymore. And then it is a month until Christmas. (Now I need to lie down!) So it is time to start thinking about gifts. Again! I do love handmade gifts for my kids. Last Christmas the boy was very upset when he opened his Christmas Eve present and found a pair of pjs I had made him. “A fabric present?” he spat in horror. Once I had him calmed down I explained that I had made the pyjamas for him with my love, so that when he slept in them he was surrounded by my love. He has embraced the concept with relish and joy and is so excited to wear or use things that I have made him now, and reminds me that it means that he is carrying my love with him. But…… there is a limit to the number of gifts that you can sew for a boy, even one as gorgeous as mine, as they get older. And to be honest, for a girl too! But I am determined to find special things to make for my special boy, to complement the Lego I will no doubt give in and purchase for him……again.

This list is designed to work in the same way that the one for 9 year old girls worked – to help me filter through ideas and distill some of my own to suit my boy. (With the girls list I took the concept of a reading nook and adapted it to make curtains for the middle chick’s top bunk to give her a space of her own.) And hopefully it will help some of you with the holiday season creeping rushing up on us!

My boy may be extra energetic (truly hyperactive!) but I think that all boys this age need the ability to run around and make noise, and burn off energy.  So I have been thinking of gifts that will enable that.

Skateboard sling – The boy Trifecta  (You can tell that she is the mother of boys!!)

Water gun holster – The Boy Trifecta

I also think that a satchel, with an adjustable strap to be worn across the body, with lots of external pockets would be great for carrying Nerf guns and bullets, or going on an adventure, or a variety of other outdoor activities.  There are a number of patterns you could adapt to this by just adding pockets, but here are a couple of suggestions.

Toddler messenger bag – Kyle and Renae Hill

Messenger Bag – No Time to Sew

Of course if they are going to be outside, then a hat is a must.  Being able to personalise it will help.  (I am thinking that a Star Wars hat might be just the thing to encourage my boy to keep his hat on!)

4 in 1 Bucket Hat – Sew Much Ado

Sun Hat – April Cobb Designs

At 7 is he starting to think that he is a bit grown up, and to want control over his own ‘things’.  So it is probably time for his own wallet.  Both of these patterns look just right!

Basic Boys wallet – Noodlehead

Summertime wallet – The Purl Bee

wallet

Some games for indoors are required too.  I need to accept the reality that my chicks are going to play with their electronic games, in the mix of all the things that they do.  So a cover for a DS, and/or an iPod touch are always useful.

This one is in French – but you can translate it using google!  DS Wallet – By Gabs

Electronics cozy – Make it – Love it

He doesn’t have an iPad or Kindle, but if he did I would be using this pattern DiY Harry Potter Kindle Cover – Skip to the Details

to try and emulate this picture (which despite much searching I cannot find the originator of to give credit to.)

If I ask my boy what his favourite games or Lego are at the moment he will answer with one of the following – Star Wars, Ninjago, Chima, Spiderman, or Minecraft .  So this pillowcase might go down well!

Ninjago Pillowcase – Crazy Little Projects

Or I could get away with a soft toy if it looked like this!

Chewbacc Softie pattern – Draw Pilgrim

I could probably also get away with this!

Boyville tutorial and download – Lil Blue Boo

DIY superhero peg dolls with free download via lilblueboo.com

For when he has a group of mates over and they all need a light saber I love this concept!

Havoc and Mayhem

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Given the sheer volume of Lego that he already has, perhaps this is actually what is called for!

Lego Storage – Freshly Pieced

For quieter times (we can but hope) I think that these games would be great!

Take along games – Dana Made It

A place to sit and read (or in our case to wriggle and squirm) all of his own would also be good.

Bean Bag Chair – Alderwood quilts

Bean Bag Chair - Free Pattern.  www.AlderwoodQuilts.com

He does love his bath – joined by many action figures and Lego “guys”, so maybe his own bath stuff could be good too!

Boy Bath Bombs – Design Dazzle

Homemade Bubble Bath – eHow

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I also found this great idea on Pinterest – but cannot find the source.  Under the photo it says

“Science Experiment Tool Box! Made an 8 year old boy birthday gift with ingredients, supplies (all from the dollar store), & instructions for 4 experiments: make a lava lamp, balloon inflator, foam fountain, & gak (dragon slime).  I had some 7 year old help with the labels ☺. Thank you Science Bob!”

Science Experiment Tool Box! Made an 8 year old boy birthday gift with ingredients, supplies (all from the dollar store), & instructions for 4 experiments: make a lava lamp, balloon inflator, foam fountain, & gak (dragon slime).  I had some 7 year old help with the labels ☺. Thank you Science Bob! #scienceisawesome

In addition to the links that I provided in my post on the Science Party, the site referred to, Science Bob has a great list of experiments!

Ideas that have already been successful for him, but might be useful for you to consider:

Super Hero Cape – Ann Kelle

Fort Kit – Saltwater Kids

I have also previously made him a Jedi Knight cloak – and it is the source of much envy by his friends who visit.  I didn’t do this from a link, but used a pattern that I had already purchased and used to make Harry Potter robes (of course!).  Oh – that is another idea, as he does love his HP robe.  The pattern I use for these and other costumes is Simplicity 1583 – I just adjust the sleeve width depending on the character!

And finally, many of the ideas that I used for his sister in this List, would also work for him – just with different colours or fabric.

So – I hope that you can find some ideas in here for the young men in your life.  Now to narrow down the options for my boy, in time for his birthday!!

Supporting a good cause

As many of you will be aware, there have been severe bushfires in New South Wales over the last week or so, and many people have lost houses, businesses, pets, etc. The charities that work to support these people are doing a wonderful job, as are the firies out there on the front line. A number of Australian artisans have banded together to raise funds to support those charities, and have created treasuries on Etsy to showcase items that, when sold, will contribute to the charities.

The first showcase treasury Helping Hand Wandarrah Style Number 1 is up and running and includes some beautiful items. I have included one of my bags in the collection, and will donate 100% of the proceeds of the sale to the Vinnies appeal (Vinnies NSW Bushfire appeal.)

Bushfire treasury

 

The second treasury Helping Hand Wandarrah Style Number 2 also contains some gorgeous pieces that would make beautiful gifts, or a treat for yourself.
Bushfire treasury2

Some sellers are donating 50% of all items sold from their shops, or a percentage of an individual item, or the full proceeds of an identified item – click through on their items to find out the details. Get your Christmas shopping started and look at some beautiful handmade items that will also help to support some very worthwhile causes. Or consider making a donation directly!

If you also wanted to share these links with family and friends, that would be wonderful!!

Hope your week is going well!

Explosions and goo – a science party!

Today heralded the middle chick’s birthday party. She and I decided, with the help of Pinterest, to have a mad scientist’s party. I am exhausted, but she reports that it was the best party ever, and her friends were all very excited by it all. The preparations involved a trip to Costco at midday on Saturday – a mistake I will NEVER make again. However this morning, a bizarre thing happened, and we were ready for the guests to arrive half an hour before the appointed time. This has never happened before! The difference this time? The three chicks helped. Yes – you read correctly. They helped! There was assistance galore from the two girls, and even a modicum of following instructions from the boy. It truly was miraculous!

The explosions I hear you ask?

I warned the little scientists that the nature of experiments meant that some might not work. The first experiment – making elephant toothpaste – was a bit of a fizzer. But not in the way that we expected. Instead of our mixture foaming up and out of the bottle, it slowly fizzed and rose over half an hours, then slowly subsided. A good lesson in not always succeeding! We used the instructions from Preschool Powol Packets but don’t be dissuaded by the fact that ours didn’t work – I was using 3% hydrogen peroxide and they recommended at least 6%.

Next we made time bombs – vinegar and water in a bag, then added baking soda in a folded piece of paper towel, sealed it and waited. We probably went a bit overboard on the papertowel so they took a while – but the suspense was delicious! And they DID explode!  We found the instructions at Geeks Raising Geeks .

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To counteract the delayed gratification experiment, the next one involved instant effects. The ingredients? Diet Coke and Mentos. I read about this on a number of sites after the middle chick requested it. The main trick with this one is to get the original Mentos, and drop them in at the same time if possible. We made a paper tube and had a piece of paper that was pulled out to drop the Mentos in. On the first go we used 4 Mentos. Second time round we used 10. For the third bottle we used 14. Each time the eruption was larger with more Mentos. The kids loved it – smiles, amazement and delight!

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Eruption number 2 (10 Mentos)

After a bit of refuelling with snacks the next experiment was making bouncy rubber balls. No photos unfortunately but they did enjoy the sticky-ness that turned into bouncing balls. Only a couple of failed experiments with this – the birthday girl and my boy – one had the mixture too dry and the other too wet! The recipe for these was from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas.

The final experiment? Making their own “Lava Lamps”. We found the instructions at SL Smith Photography. The ingredient that made them bubble was Alka Seltzer. I had planned to send them home with a tablet each to show their families but they had so much fun doing it at the party that the tablets were all used up. I suspect that any brand of fizzing or effervescent tablet would work. Again there was much oohing and aahing.
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Lots of fun and only a bit exhausting for the hostess! Luckily my beautiful friend Ms C stayed to assist with the festivities – what a godsend! Although it went well I think it might be a while before I decide to host another party at home!

The rest of the week has been a return to our routine. I have been back at work and the chicks back at school. The boy has had a good week – the strategies that the school and I agreed on appear to have worked so far. With the good weather they have all been riding to and from school with Miss N supervising – it took a few days for them to settle down for her, but now they seem to have it sorted. I have enjoyed the return to my office and my team. It is busy, but having had my time to rest, I have been able to jump back in with energy.

I did manage a little bit of sewing still – the bag that I posted earlier in the week, plus a few little zipped pouches using laminated cotton for the outer. Then, thanks to the request for a pattern from the lovely Meredithe at Pomegranate and Chintz I decide to make another cross body bag but to photograph each step so that I can write a tutorial for it for you! The photos are done – now I need to sit down and write the instructions!

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Hopefully later in the week……. However before that can happen I will need to buy a new keyboard – after the party one of the chicks helped themselves to some of the lemonade we had purchased for an experiment that wasn’t performed (inflating balloons by tipping ‘Nerds’ into soft drink) and spilt some on the keyboard. The result several hours later? A ‘d’ key and ‘k’ key that are sticking (I have spent most of this post backspacing after each word ending in ‘d’!!

I hope that you are all safe and well. There are terrible bushfires in New South Wales and more weather that will create difficulties for the fire fighters, so my prayers are with them all, and with those who have lost their homes already this week. It is a very early start to our fire season, so I am very grateful that my father did clean my gutters a couple of weeks ago! Thanks Dad!!

Be safe everyone.

And the winner is…………

Congratulations to Heather Sharp, the winner of the Cushion Cover Giveaway!!

I am looking forward to working with you to design the cover of your choice – and to sharing it here on the blog!

To everyone else who entered, thank you for helping to celebrate my birthday! A week after the event it is probably time to slow down on the celebrations and return to normal life!! (Perhaps……)