Monday, 31 October 2011

Trick or Treat

Unfortunately for us (well, me really!) the Halloween party wasn't going to happen so all thoughts of a mini Beetlejuice costume have been put on the back burner until next year! But that wasn't going to stop me entering the festive spirit.

We have been growing pumpkins on the allotment specially for today, and although it's been a pretty bad season for most of our vegetables we were able to harvest three lovely bright orange ones!

I wasn't sure how scary would be too scary for Wiss so I admit that my carving was a little tame, but I think the use of green LEDs really help create a spooky atmosphere.

I'm planning on using the scooped flesh to make Rosemary and Pumpkin Muffins, and Spiced Pumpkin Soup. Yum yum! I love the changing seasons and nothing beats comfort food on a crisp, cold day. I hope you've had a Happy Halloween too, and I'll leave you with Wiss's scary face.......Be prepared to be terrified. Aaaaaarrrrgh!

Kid's Clothes Week Challenge continues...

After another busy push to make enough stock for Dulwich Farmers Market last week, I felt like I was able to spend some time this week making some more of the items on my KCWC wish list.

First on the list was a pair of Flat Front Kid Pants from a bright blue needle cord fabric I've been stashing. It's a really vivid blue but if you can't wear bright colours when you're little then when can you?! I discovered the double needle on my sewing machine - what a great feature! I used it to sew fake pockets and a fake fly to add a little bit more detail, along with a patch pocket on the back.

I teamed them with the moustache applique t-shirt I'd made during KCWC before. I'd seen an image months ago (before Pinterest!) and knew that I wanted to make one for Wiss. I couldn't find the actual image again but a quick search brought up this. And all in great time for Movember, the charity moustache season!

Now the weather has turned I really needed to get round to making the fleece mittens from Oliver & S Little Things to Sew. They were super quick to make, although I think I will make them a little more gathered around the cuff next time. Fingers crossed Wiss will wear these mittens this winter!

Two more items made, an endless list still to go, but I love it!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Some late winter sunshine

I know we had a freaky late Indian summer a couple of weeks ago (30 degrees in October??!) but winter feels like it's definitely on it's way  now. It's dark in the mornings and it's dark for my cycle home, and we've already tried out the central heating.

Remember those bespoke Life Preserver shorts I finished at the end of the summer? Well, they went on a little late summer holiday to Italy and they hung out in the sunshine and walked by the sea!

It is such a great feeling to see something I have made myself being worn...and they look like real shorts! I am so chuffed, I cannot tell you. Thank you Laurence for commissioning them in the first place and modelling them in Sperlonga for me!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

This is Wiss at Dulwich Market

I made my debut at Dulwich Farmers Market and Craft Fair today! This was still only my third stall selling and I was excited to see what a different audience would think of my products.

As usual, I had planned to make so much more than I was able to in the time and it seemed that my son and my sewing machine were in cahoots with each other and neither wanted me to get much done last week! But I had enough to work with and this morning I set up my stall in the Cloisters of the college.

It was really lovely to meet and chat to so many new people - it's a great way to get feedback on my products and find out what the customer wants. As Alan Sugar says, you need to "smell what sells" but it's so interesting that it's never the same product! At my first market the Flannel Monsters were flying off the stall, but I didn't even sell one today. The waterproof bags seem to be consistently popular though and I will be making lots more of these for the next fair. They have sold well in sets with the changing mats but also on their own as wash bags or for swimming costumes. It looks like I'll just have to go fabric shopping soon!

I gave out lots of business cards and hope that I will get some some new visitors to my site. I also got lots of compliments on the business cards themselves - they are pretty damn fancy but I can't take all the credit myself. I ordered them through Moo - they are thick and silky to touch and the best thing is you can upload up to 20 different images to showcase your products. They also print minicards, stickers and postcards too.

Back to the sewing machine for me tomorrow night because I have plans for a Halloween costume for Wiss...!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Kids Clothes Week Challenge 2011

October 10 - 17 was Kids Clothes Weeks Challenge over on Elsie Marley. The idea is very simple - you spend an hour a day making some clothes for your little one(s). Great! This was my first attempt at a group blog event and I was really excited. I spent the week before thinking about what I would make and collecting together the fabrics. Here is what I wanted to make for Wiss: one pair of pyjamas made from a John Deere tractor print flannel fabric I'd had for ages, a pair of mittens and a scarf from navy fleece, an upcycled jumper, a few t-shirts...I even thought about making a coat!!!

As you can see my ambition always far exceeds the amount of time I have but, hey! you've got to think big I say. The pyjamas were my number one priority so I started with those...on Tuesday! Even though the challenge specified one hour every day that wasn't really going to work for me. I had a cinema date with a friend on Monday night* so KCWC started on Tuesday for me, but I promised myself I'd make up the extra time on the days I could do!

I used the Basic Kid Pants for the bottoms, but added a cuff at the bottom from an old t-shirt of mine. I really need to learn a bit more about sewing with jersey and how to make the stitches give a little with the stretch of the material, but these work ok for now. I was really pleased with how 'finished' these turned out - the inside is as neat as the outside and the seams won't fray. Practice does pay off!

I finished these pj bottoms in two and a half hours so that made up for missing the official start on Monday! Unfortunately I was out on Wednesday too so I had to put in the hours on Thursday to make the pyjama top. I used Dana's 90 minute shirt tutorial (but it took me more like 150 minutes!)

So suddenly it was Friday night and although I wanted to carry on making clothes I also felt I should spend some time with husband this week so I did some sewing on the sofa. Using yet another MADE tutorial, I hand sewed an 'L' for a Sprinkle T-Shirt. It took much longer than I thought, so I had to finish it off in front of X Factor on Saturday night too!

I customised another t-shirt using a bleach pen - an idea I grabbed from Cheri. I had not used one of these so was very excited to try it out. I drew a tractor and grass design along the bottom of an H&M t-shirt, waited for half hour and then washed the t-shirt. Unfortunately, all I was left with was a plain green t-shirt! Back to the drawing board for me and the bleach pen but here is what it could have looked like...

KCWC 2011 was a great success - just check out the Flikr group and see all the cool things made last week. I may not have made a big dent on my list but I am still really pleased with the few new items Wiss has in his wardrobe : )

* I went to see Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy but unfortunately I can't tell you what I thought of it as I fell asleep!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

I made it! (part 2)

09.10.11 - what a great date! It also happens this was my first wedding anniversary but rather than breakfast-in-bed and a lazy morning with my husband I was taking part in the Royal Parks Half Marathon in aid of Asthma UK. I was hoping that both husband and son would be there to cheer me on but due to a rugby injury husband was unable to move, let alone look after son! So his mum had to come to look after son and grandson while I ran alone.

It was a beautiful day for running and the route took in Hyde park, Green Park, St James Park and Kensington Gardens as well as a stretch along the embankment alongside the Thames. 12,500 people took part and I crossed the finish line in 1hour 54 minutes and 24 seconds, beating my PB by 30 seconds!

It was a great taster of what the London Marathon might be like - it inspired me but also made me think I have a lot of training to put in between now and April 2012. I know I'm stating the obvious but 26 miles is a very long way!

I was running in memory of a friend who sadly passed away at the very end of last year. This pint and medal were for you, Alex!

Back home, the pain killers were working on husband so we went out for dinner to celebrate our first year of marriage. He was a little stooped and I was walking like a robot, so we must have looked a right pair going up the hill. Maybe it was an insight to what we will be like after 50 years of marriage!

It was a lovely end to a fantastic (but busy) weekend. I slept well that night, that's for sure!

Friday, 14 October 2011

I made it! (Part 1)

Phew! I have just had the busiest weekend but I'm glad to report that all deadlines were meant and everything got done and went well (maybe not smoothly but it was all good!)

Sell It Mama on Saturday was very busy - everyone in South London was on the look out for baby bargains as there was a big crowd when the doors opened.  I sold lots of the changing mat and waterproof bags sets so it seems I made the right decision with regards to the fabric. I had lots of compliments on the choice of patterns and colours available. The individual bags also went down well with people who had older children so had no need for a changing mat but thought they'd still come in useful as a toiletry bag or for swimming costumes.

I was really glad that the new bright range of Bobby Horses was well received - lots of people said they'd make great Christmas presents and took my business card. It seems it was still a bit too early for anyone to commit to some real Christmas shopping yet. However, the good news is This is Wiss will be at the Dulwich Farmer's Market on October 23 and the special Christmas Market on December 18 so there's still lots of time to buy presents!

Back to Sell It Mama, there really are some great bargains to be had from the second-hand stalls and I love the whole ethos of reusing and recycling. Quality hand-me-down items that have been loved already have a special appeal to me. We bought some clothes for Wiss, about 8 toy cars and two big vehicles! We really don't have much space (that's London living!) but we just couldn't pass these up:

This amazing Radio Flyer tricycle was only £10!! They cost at least £120 new but they are made from steel so they are really built to last. It just needs a little clean up and polish and it will be Wiss's birthday present. I reckon it will last him, any brothers or sisters he may have in the future and still be in good condition!

So that was Saturday - a good day all round! I'll tell you all about Sunday in Part 2...

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Not long now! This is Wiss: handmade toys and other essentials, returns!

I've spent pretty much every night for the last two weeks at the sewing machine, making stock for the next This is Wiss stall. I didn't get round to developing any new products (although I have some ideas in my head) but I have made the usual items in exciting new colours...

And I have lots of new fabrics including the fabulous Kokka linen blend ranges...

Check out my website for more details. I've had to make a decision on what to make for Sell it Mama this time as I was up against it time-wise. At the last sale, much to my surprise, the prints were much more popular than the Brights range so that's what I've concentrated on this time. Only time will tell if I was right but I can always take orders for the colours.

I have a few more things that need sorting before the weekend-of-all-weekends arrives but I'm glad to say that most of the hard slog is over! Now, if only I can factor in an early night and some point too....