Friday, December 12, 2008

Stille Nacht...

Things that have been keeping me busy (and happy) this week:

- Pulling out the Christmas decorations one by one whenever I have a minute to spare and putting them up

- Filling the house wth the smell of ginger, cinnamon, spices and candied peel when I bake

- Watching the rows of hazelnut stars march out of the oven

- Singing Christmas carols to the little boy, and dissolving into giggles with him when he tries to "sing" along with me

- Watching Tim with his little boy

- Watching the little boy... sleeping peacefully, full of milk, his sweet little lashes against his cheeks

- Seeing the grandparents enchanted by their first grandson

- Ordering beautiful wooden eco toys online for his first Christmas (not that he knows what it is yet, but he will next year!) and getting squealy-excited when they arrive

- Taking time to swallow my pride

Monday, November 17, 2008

little folk and... little folk

As those of you who are mums know well, these little people tend to take up a lot of your time. Not that it's not given joyfully - little Ewan is the sweetest baby you could wish for. he's so aware and alert, and the smiles he gives us stretch from ear to ear.

The other night when I was up nursing, in that semi half-awake dream state, I finally came up with something to make with these little wooden people I bought a while ago. I've been struggling to come up with something original, so hopefully it is!

The mushroom cap is made from sculpey, and it's painted with acrylic paints, sealed with a matte varnish. I made him in stages inbetween feeds yesterday, and finished him off today. I'm thinking of either selling these little guys at my etsy store (which is sadly neglected at the moment) and/or at the local markets. What do you think?

To all those who have found my blog recently - hi! I'll come visit all of yours (if I can) again real soon. And I'll try to reply to comments left in the actual comments. I wish Blogger had a better way, but that seems to be it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ewan Shaun MCGuire

Born October 2nd, 3:08pm
3895gm, 54 cm, Head 38.5cm (!!!!)
Worth every hour.

Monday, September 29, 2008

40 + 4

Now into the second half of my due "month", the "official" date was friday just gone, but we all know what babies think of due dates. :) Been out getting the garden sorted, Tim's finally helping out with getting the reticulation done - yay! That'll make it much easier for me to take care of the vege patch this summer. Much more waterwise as well.
Saw a vaguely similar bib somewhere in the wastes of the internet, didn't want to pay the $25 for it, so thought I'd try making something close myself. Two layers of flannel, bias binding etc (maybe next time I'll use a thinner one) and beads which I'm sure are a horrendous choking hazard.

Bring on baby!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

baby, carry me home

I think I must have one of at least every kind of baby carrier now. I was inspired to finally try making a mei tai style carrier recently, which also gave me an excuse to use a little of my precious stash of Lecien's "My Folklore" fabric. I must remember that if I keep a fabric forever and don't use it because it's too "special", I'll defeat the whole purpose of having the fabric!

The pattern I used (or eyeballed) was the simple and useful I don't know if it's obvious from the top photo, but I prefer the curved design to the straight. Luckily I have heaps of polarfleece scraps left over from making winter slings, so it was easy to find some to pad the straps out with. Very comfy from what I can tell, now I just need to borrow someone's baby to test it - or wait a couple weeks and use my own!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

3 weeks

On the home stretch now. Considered full term at this point, so if I was to go into labour now, nobody would stress about it. Except maybe me! But no... no need for that. The image above is me at 20 weeks (and Ms. Bessy) in the first and probably last dress I made with no pattern. One of those character building experiences! Fabric is a bamboo stretch knit from, in the yummiest pistachio green. Love it! Gonna have to replace the bias binding around the neckline with ribbing of some sort if I want to use this dress for feeding.

Finalyl used the stretch cotton sateen I got for a song earlier this year, and sewed myself a baby pouch! Have made them for everyone else, but... now it's done for me too! So, bring it on, baby! Was going to do some kind of block or screen print, but at the last minute, changed my mind and decided to applique some felt instead. Took me a whole viewing of "Matchmaker" and at least one M*A*S*H episode to finish, mostly because I did to mirror image bird-and-branch combos, so I could fully reverse the sling if I need to. I like to keep my options open!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wandering Waif Collection GIVEAWAY !!!!!!!

Wandering Waif Collection GIVEAWAY !!!!!!!

I don't care that it's too late to win this - OMG!!!! SO ADORABLE!!!!! GO GIVE THIS BEAUTIFUL LADY SOME LOVE!!!!!!! Seriously...

*runs away to browse this gorgeous blog some more*

Friday, August 29, 2008


My goodness... what a hellish time I had making this wee thingy. Found the pattern over at and thought it looked niiice and easy. Once I got about half way through and started turning things inside out and sewing what seemed impossible, pointless seams, I gave up, ripped them all out, and made it how I thought it should be made. Much easier! Anyone else ever tried the Grab Bag tutorial? Any help??

I love this fabric to bits, which is why I was determined to not let it go to waste. It's Lecien's My Folklore "Forest".... sooo adorable! I'm keeping every scrap leftover to re-use. As I order a bunch of fabric online nowadays, usually from Etsy, it costs me a fair bit of postage to Aus, so I tend to hoard it pretty frugally. It took me a while to get up the courage to cut into this one!

Used a few leftover bits to make a wee baggie for my new bible. Didn't bother lining it, it was a cute and satisfying 15 minute project after the frustrating grab bag!

My boss's wife loaned me an overlocker! (ka-loo, ka-lay!) So i pulled out a piece of soy-cotton jersey I've had laying around for a while, and knocked out this top. It's a midriff top to wear over short sleeves, or just layering in general. It was dead easy! I used a favourite shirt of mine to create a template for the body, and faked the rest. So nice when things turn out the way they looked in my head. Looks a little wrinkled cos I've already been wearing it for a couple days! This piece of fabric was another one I was hoarding and couldn't figure out what to do with. If I had lotsa cash, I would spend a bunch of it at and buy up all their beautiful stretch jerseys (bamboo and soy!).

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

visiting the family

Spent this weekend visiting my parents in Perth, probably the last trip we'll manage down there till after the baby's born. Only 4.5 weeks to go now! That 6-and-a-bit-hour car trip is just about as long as I can handle sitting still at the moment. I feel tired today and techincally, all I did was sit on my rear! But no, I did do a lot while we were away, without (what have become) my necessary nanna-naps in the afternoon.

I so prefer the type of bush that's found closer to the coast - for one thing, it's actually interesting, and they have (gasp!) wildflowers! Unlike our patch of red dirt. All these photos were taken on a morning walk with my mum. I thought the little seed pods above looked like little butterflies perched on reeds, with the sun shining through their wings.

Of course, no trip to Perth would be complete without a trip to Ikea! We got together a few last items of furniture that we "think" we need. I'm sure we could have done fine without, but I'm blaming my "nesting" urge. Which, weirdly enough, has so far manifested in a huge creative surge over the last few weeks. I haven't had one of those phases in about 2 years, so I'm milking this one for all it's worth.

Friday, August 15, 2008

dyeing - and loving it!

Ok, my quest for more "interesting" baby clothes continues. After once again walking into the regular shops and sighing in disgust over the wall of blue-or-pink that is almost all that's available to me for this little Mouse, I thought I'd try my hand at dyeing. Insipred by Amy over at Angry Chicken I thought to myself, surely it can't be that hard...

And it wasn't! I'm really happy with the results actually. The green I picked came out even better than I'd hoped it would. The only problems I had were with the lino printing. I've been carving little printing blocks out of lino for weeks now, and every time I have tried them out using regular ink, they've worked really well. I'm unsure if it's the fabric paint, or just the roller I'm using to apply the paint (which is a sponge, rather than the proper, solid roller), but they all came out really faint. This time I did go over them with a brush, just cos I didn't want to waste my beautiful green onesies, but next time.... I think a trip down to the art shop and a discussion with Dannii might be in order! I haven't block printed since I was in high school, so I'm trying to remember all the ins and outs. Tips, anyone?

Thursday, August 7, 2008


I've been saying I'd make my friend's little girl a kimono using this ( ) tutorial, and finally got around to it this morning. I had just enough dark red fleece left over to make not one, but two! I figured even if I don't know the gender of this little Mouse, red is still a pretty good colour to go with.

I love mushrooms! Appliqued a little felt one to the front, might go back and add more detail later. For now I just want them to be finished!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

boxing helena!

My friend Shaun always used to call me that. I never figured out why, but it always made me laugh. It's coming up to his birthday which is why I'm thinking of him, I guess - he would have been thirty two this year.

I still miss you, Shaun. And when I see you afterwards, you can bet that's the first question I'm gonna ask.

Anyway, totally not how I intended to start this post - as I've been sewing this morning! And I've decided to venture into the wonderful world of tutorials! After finding this adorable little tutorial over at applehead , I lay awake at night (as I often do) wondering how I could apply this on a slightly larger scale. See, I've been wanting to buy boxes to fill the shelves in the baby's room, and after seeing this I began to think, maybe I could make my own...

(A side note - "Maybe I could make my own" is a phrase that my mum will be very happy to hear me using, as it's a principle she's tried hard to instill in me over the years)

So without further ado - the modifed Fabric Box Tutorial!!

Firstly, make your pattern. I managed to figure out (and it took a lotta brain cells) that (a) is the height of your box, and (c) x 2 is the width and depth. So in my case, (c) was 10cm, which doubles makes 20cm. I made mine 21cm high (a) and really, (b) is irrelevant. I just thought it looked more professional that way. (d) should be exactly the same as (c). (Wow, I suck at these!)

Next, take your awesome Ikea fabric (Fredrika!) and lay that sucker on there. Remember to double it over first! The edge I didn't name (and clearly should have) should be situated on a fold. My mum is like my dealer - she gets me access to stuff I can't get way out here. Thanks for being my fabric pimp, mum!

Cut that sucker out. Leave about 1cm seam allowance on all sides (not so important on the bottom seam, but still leave a little extra). At this point, if your kitty is weaving around your ankles and demanding that she be given a tidbit, it's probably best to oblige her so she leaves you alone.

Isn't it cute??? Looks like a little kimono.... no, calm down Helly, get this one finished first. That's next in the list.

Do the same with your felt, only don't bother leaving a cm of allowance. It'll help that sucker fit right in. I didn't have any nice, handmade felt, so I went and bought a length of the fake stuff. It'll serve this purpose! (Plus it's three days till pay day, so I went the cheaper option!) Again, make sure that bottom seam is on a fold.

Turn your fabric inside out and sew (a) to (a), like you were closing up the sleeves of a cute little kimono. I used a straight stitch.

Next, begin to curse and beat your machine as the thread tangles continuously and inexplicably. After restraining yourself from tossing it out the door (You'd really like to finish this project and get to that kimono, wouldn't you?) examine things closer and realise it wasn't the machines fault, it was the thread. Apologise profusely and re-thread, all the while promising you won't say such awful things to your beloved machine again.

Um, now.... bring (c) and (d) together. I don't really know how to explain it better, but, to quote a favourite Terry Pratchett line, "It'll be.... obvious, right?". So, sew along and close up the ends. And yes, that's my baby house in the picture. Say hi, baby! It's your first blog appearance!

Before you do that, you should decide which way you want your seam to lay and iron it flat, right? But hey... I forgot. Still, it worked out ok.

Voila! One Floppy Box!

Now, repeat the above steps with your felt insert, Ok, now bung your felt insert in, no need to turn it inside out obviously. Make sure it's gonna fit neatly. Also at the point, check to see whether it's upper edge is shorter than the fabric edge. If it's longer, take it out and trim so it sits about 1cm below the raw fabric edge. This'll become obvious why, because now you have to fold the fabric edge under the felt and pin it, getting ready to sew it down.

Which, when you've done it, should look like this! Yay! I sewed it about 1/2 cm from the edge.

Then, in a mad panicked moment, rush into the other room to check that you actually did get the dimensions right, and breathe a sigh of relief when you see that you did.

Now, go and make more! There now, don't you feel clever? I know I do!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

who am i?

I am, apparently, someone who heads for the cereal at night when I don't have to cook dinner.

I am also someone who is learning to ignore that voice we all have, the one that screams at you, tells you you're not good enough, so don't even try.

Someone who is learning that so many of my limitations are temporary.

Someone who would die without some outlet for creativity.

Someone who is very lucky to have the husband that I do.

Someone who is loved by God, anyway.

Someone who is becoming the free, happy, and yet organised person that I have always wanted to be - one day at a time, even when it feels like two steps forward, and thirteen back.

Someone who has a hopeful future and the potential for joy in every situation.


And now that I've gotten than off my chest, I would like to show off something I tried to do last week. After hanging out on for obscene amounts of time, I found a great little project involving cloth, walls and starch. Only problem is - it's practically impossible for me to come across starch at all! I tried every supermarket, little shop, cleaning agency, and the closest I got was a bottle of cannned spray starch. Crossing my fingers, I thought I'd try it anyway, and to my surprise it mostly worked. There are still one or two bubbles that appeared after the starch dried, but I'm holding off fixing them until I can get some of the real stuff.

Once I've ironed out the kinks (ha! a pun.) I'm gonna do a design on the baby's wall - I can see birdies, all cut out of different shades and patterns, probably involving some blue (not by choice, but the house was painted yellow with blue carpets when we moved in, so I'm just trying to work with it!) ((Oh, and not because we're having a boy, either. All that gender-colour-specific stuff bugs me anyway)) and flying along the walls. Lets hope I can find some of the starch soon! Nothing more frustrating than wanting to create and being thwarted by a lack of resources and materials.

Oh, this is our bedroom wall, by the way. Again, not my choice of colour schemes, but here we are. If I had my way that wall would be a light pistachio green, and the blue carpet (which shows up long blonde hair so well!) would be a woven, knotty wool sisal. At least, that's how it looks when I close my eyes.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


It's finally rained, after nearly three months without any. And it was satisfying rain as well, heavy, constant, soothing. I can almost see the lawn growing in front of my eyes now. The photo on the top bar (and to the left) was taken outside this morning, before the morning sun could evaporate the last of the raindrops. It's amazing how quickly water disappears in the desert. The red sand drinks it in greedily, like a great thirsty beast.

The last time it rained like this, we had a visitor in our backyard for about a month - a rare burrowing frog, that only comes out once every few years after monsoonal rains sweep down from the north. It was wonderful to hear him calling every night. It's a sound I've missed - along with the ever present crickets and cicadas - since moving away from the sub-tropics.

Although I've sewed today, I still don't really feel like I've accomplished anything. Time for another trip back to to remind myself of how to be productive - I just have to remember not to get so caught up reading all the wonderful posts that I forget why I went there!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

the first

I've started another blog... oh dear. I can see a pattern emerging here. I seem to start a lot of these things and never finish them. But I've come to realise that there is no such thing as a finished blog - because there is no such thing as a finished life. I think I would like to document a little more about my life - and to keep learning to find joy in the everyday things.