30 June, 2009

Printable birthday gear

Oooo I'm so excited about Hazel's birthday invitations this year! I also need to add that I love the internet, internet shopping, and people who design fabulous stationary that you can download and print yourself.

For last year's invitation we used this great template from How About Orange and glued on buttons to make flowers. They were super cute and Hazel was able to help by choosing the buttons and pressing them into the hot glue.

This year, I'm spoiled for choice. Initially I thought I'd get the cute orange and pink alphabet invitations and assorted other neat goodies from A Little Hut, and maybe the alphabet cards for favours because they would add up to a theme* of sorts and Hazel's very into letters at the moment.

Then this evening I was over at the Crafty Crow and I noticed a wee ad in the sidebar for printables and checked it out. I hardly ever do this I have to say, but so glad I did! It was for Go Make Me and she has the cutest printables, including this one called 'Spring Has Sprung' which made me go "eeeee" (in a subdued and mature way). I mean really, look at those little swings!

So now I'm the proud owner of both designs and the only problem will be deciding which to go with this year, secure in the knowledge that I can't lose - the other lot will be next year's invitations!

*I figure there are themed birthday parties, and then there is having the alphabet or trees or polkadots. I refuse to throw anything themed as that's just kind of scary to my mind, but I like the idea of having things tie in together in a loose way. I'm only explaining this in psyche-baring detail because I'm worried someone out there might think I'm one of those mothers who throws relentlessly planned and regimented parties. Are there any other revealing things I need to explain in footnotes on my blog? Not at the moment, but just wait until Xmas rolls around and you can see all my crafting and parenting hangups out in the open :))

Child's Felt Mask Pattern and Tutorial

This is my first attempt at a tutorial so I'd love feedback and constructive criticism (and I do mean that!) Please let me know if you have any problems with downloading the files, it's all new territory for me!



This is a very quick tutorial and pattern for a child’s felt mask.
Get the full tutorial and pattern as a .pdf here, or just the pattern here.

Felt mask

There are lots of great mask inspirations on the internet so I highly recommend it as a resource. I got the idea for star eyes from Creative Kids at Home and their paper masks, as well as ideas from googled images of felt masks, some of them are quite wonderful! Tutorials on making felt crowns, such as the one at Juicy Bits are also a great source of ideas for embellishments and construction techniques.


  • Two pieces of felt approximately 20cm (8”) wide and 9cm (3 ½”) high. Iron before cutting to avoid shrinkage when fusing together
  • 1 piece WonderUnder (or similar) to fuse felt together (optional)
  • Elastic (I used approx. 37cm of 5mm elastic (14” of ¼”))
  • Thread for decorative stitches


  1. Print out the pattern and test for size on your child. You may need to move the eyes further apart, closer together, make them bigger, or make it a bit wider. Test this with paper first before committing to a felt version.

  2. Note: the pattern is designed to print out on A4 paper size. If you are printing on US letter it should be fine, just make sure your printer isn’t scaling it to fit the paper and that the square on the pattern measures 1cm square (just over 3/8”)

  3. Decide which colour felt will be the bigger outer piece and cut it out approximately 5mm larger than the pattern all the way around, curving it in at the temples to match the pattern (see image above). Having two even layers of felt at this point provides more stability for the elastic. Do not cut out eyes at this point.

  4. Cut out smaller upper piece of felt, following pattern exactly. Optional step if using WonderUnder: In order that the felt of the smaller upper section fuses well along the edges, iron the WonderUnder to the whole piece following manufacturers instructions and then cut out the pattern. You may cut the eyes out at this time, or cut through both layers of felt together later when they are fused together. If you would like to make the mask reversible, leave the temple sections free of WonderUnder so you can insert the elastic between the felt layers.

  5. Position the two layers of felt together and fuse well, or pin together if not fusing.

  6. Cut out eyes through both layers and check for size, enlarge if necessary. If you haven’t fused the layers together you may wish to cut after sewing around the edges in Step 6.

    Felt mask detail

  7. Sew around outer edge of inner piece using either a decorative stitch, zigzag or plain straight stitch (see image above). This step prevents the felt from stretching when pulled tight by the elastic. Do the same for the eyes, particularly if you’ve gone for the stars, as they seem prone to being pulled out of shape. Next time I will draw in the stitching line around the stars instead of trying to do it freehand, and practice my decorative stitches around curves.

  8. Sew elastic in place on one side, adjust length to suit the desired head size, and sew the other side in a similar manner.

  9. Stand back and let your hero get on with saving the universe!
Super Hazel and felt mask

29 June, 2009

The Red Coat

Red coat, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

This morning I started pulling apart a red wool jacket I'd made back in the early 90s (very boxy with big leather buttons) with a mind to make Hazel an Oliver + S winter jacket with it. When I stuck my hand into one of the pockets I felt several bits of paper. Sadly my first thoughts of "oooo unexpected money, how lovely!" were dashed, but I did come up with a train ticket to Chatswood dated 15 June 1996 and a ticket stub from a Otago V Brumbies rugby game in Canberra dated 12 May 1996. I guess you don't need to be an archaeologist to decipher this evidence from the past! Yes, I was living in Sydney then, we'd been there for about a year at that point. I'm surprised that I didn't wear the jacket much after that, but I suppose by that time it was at least 5 years old and starting to look dated.

I do love the wool it's made from though, it's the most perfect red, not too yellow, not too blue, just rich and saturated. I remember when I made this I really wanted to do all the edges with black blanket stitch and my mum convinced me not to. The wisdom of age over youth for sure in retrospect :) We did do a lovely job on it, my mum and I, handmade buttonholes and all. It may end up being too heavy for a coat for Hazel, but I'm enjoying spending time with it again after all these years.

So what were you doing in May/June 1996?

28 June, 2009

A little seamstress joins the ranks

I feel like I should be holding some sort of arcane initiation ceremony to celebrate this event - the crafting community just grew by one today!

Teaching Hazel to sew

I've started teaching Hazel how to sew using hessian and old tapestry wool. She's really excited about it and her first project is to sew a tree for her daddy.

Teaching Hazel to sew

There are so many skills involved in this, and so many things she needs to remember as she pulls the wool through that I'm in awe that any of us manage to get good at it! Even threading the needle is a big and daunting prospect but she really works at it and does get it eventually. She doesn't always show such persistence so I'm hoping this is a good sign for her career as a seamstress!

25 June, 2009

Another bunny

Finally finished the felt bunny I've been documenting for the planned tutorial. It's also the first one Hazel gets to keep! I'm content with the pattern now, it looks enough like the originals to satisfy me without the law of diminishing returns kicking in!

More felt rabbits

I'm taking my sewing machine in to be serviced tomorrow so hopefully this will force me to sit down and do the tutorial and get it up and out of my brain. And the mask one too, which is sitting half finished because I need to make some changes to the pattern.

I recently started subscribing to the Pioneer Woman full feed instead of just her cooking section (my god when does that woman have time to do anything?!) and was reminded of her Photoshop action sets (and here) which I've never bothered to download. I did this time just for interest's sake and had a quick play on the bunny photo. Probably not the best subject but I thought this 'vintage' one was kind of fun in a "now hold that pose for 5 minutes sir, and don't blink" kind of way.

More felt rabbits

It renders his slightly bug-eyed desperate look more historically accurate! I think I need to redo the eyes actually - Mat keeps picking him up, looking at him, and then staring wildly around the room with his eyes open as wide as they'll go. Oh yeah, I live in a supportive atmostphere ;)

Hazel hasn't named him yet, although he's passingly referred to as 'Bunnywunny' which is a tribute to one of her favourite books at the moment That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell

24 June, 2009

As promised

tshirt and skirt, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

The tshirt and (unaltered) clothkits skirt. I'm quite pleased with the tshirt in general, and adore the skirt but they really don't go well together! :)

So the tshirt was a big learning experience for me, both because it was a knit, and also because I really had to use my overlocker seriously instead of being a bit of a dilettante. The pattern is from 'Sew U stretch' book, sort of a combination of a couple of different patterns. Considering it's my first effort it's pretty good I think. Not perfect but wearable for sure. It sits well across my shoulders which is saying something because I have a very wide back and deep chest. Apparently I have the lung capacity of an opera singer - what a waste! It's a bit tight across the bust though, a bit loose at the waist, and a bit tight across the hips. Easy enough to fix those issues for next time. I don't like the sleeves though, they're too wide for the length, but again, fixable! Unfortunately the overall effect, combined with the A-line skirt is to make me look far more straight up-and-down than I really am (I do have a waist in there somewhere!) I just love the idea of making tshirts though, especially that I can have them as long as I want (no cold tummy!) and not too tight across the bust. I expect eventually I'll end up with a pattern that works and then just do variations on a theme.

Oh, and I used my rotary cutter to cut it out and OMG revelation! I'm so sold on that way instead of cutting with scissors.

I'm so sick of my hair though, totally over the blunt bob look. I've got a haircut booked for Monday and I really need a change. You know when you're not sure about a change and not sure and then suddenly if you can't get it cut RIGHT NOW you might die? I'm feeling like that right now. I'm fighting getting cut really short again because I'd like to try and grow it out a bit more - my ponytail in this photo is a mere stub but darn it, I want my hair out of the way!

23 June, 2009

A classy joint

napkins, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

I managed to finish up the cloth napkin from Sewing Green I was doing the other night and another one, so we are now the proud owners of two (2!) napkins, with six more to come. Hazel chose this binding fabric, oddly enough it's the same as she chose for the Chibi Rabbit and Kitty! She likes cherries as she often tells me. At first I thought it was going to be a great choice, but now I'm not so sure. I like the effect well enough, but it's not really me, if that makes sense. I'd love them in someone else's house, but am not so sure about mine! I'll probably do the rest in plain red. Mat was so relieved when I admitted I didn't care for them so much because he thought he was going to have to suffer in silence :)

He did, however, provide the napkin rings. He was given two at his christening - one has his initials engraved as a monogram, one was left blank for his future wife. How's that for forethought! I'm not sure eve where to take 'mine' to get it done to be honest.


21 June, 2009

I'm still here, honest!

I'm just lost in the land of craft-that-does-not-lend-itself-to-blogging if you know what I mean. I've been working steadily away on the bunny tutorial, cut out a tshirt to sew, made one (count 'em ONE) napkin, and made new curtains for a little puppet theatre we got from the toy library. And yes, it's been busy but nothing to show for it really and no time to blog about it.

I've also been reading and re-reading 'Sewing Green' and 'Sew-U Home Stretch' for inspiration. The napkins are inspired by the former, the latter is teaching me how to make a long-sleeved, v-necked tshirt. I'm insanely nervous about doing this tshirt thing, I've been wanting to for ages - Jess may remember me reading the book on the Accela from NY to DC last September! I don't know why knits and my overlocker intimidate me so, but there it is. You'll probably all hear the cussing and swearing (what's the difference between those two things anyways?) emanating from Auckland later on tonight. If it's a failure then I'm not posting photos and I expect you all to forget that I ever mentioned it in the first place.

Last night I started on the napkins from Sewing Green. Well just napkins really, with the idea of binding the edges from the book. I royally stuffed up the first lot of fabric strips I cut to make the bias binding, I made it too narrow by half. Then the new strips just wouldn't work with my little bias binding maker, I think it was slightly too narrow still, or the fabric was too light or something. Total disaster. Cue more swearing and singing of fingers with the steam out of the iron. I gave up and did it the old-fashioned way by folding in half and then folding in the edges to meet the middle. Needless to say there's only enough to do two 15x15" napkins! Then I decided that I just needed to do one up and started on it at 10pm. Oh yeah, that was a good idea. Anyways, the binding stretches, the linen napkins stretch, and the first side is decidedly wonky. But I pressed on and got two more sides done before Hazel had a spack attack after being woken to go to the toilet by Mat and I had to go and deal with that. She's been a thumb sucker since she was able to get it in to her mouth and it's beginning to have dire effects on her teeth so yesterday we started painting the yukky-tasting stuff on it and night was when the full effects of no thumb really hit! Still, I wouldn't trade all the self-settling and comfort she's had from it for a few bad nights now. No sirree! Well I don't think so anyways... She accidentally stuck her thumb in Mat's mouth when they were rough-housing this morning and he bolted for the kitchen looking for something to wash the taste out of his mouth.

18 June, 2009


A mail-order company here is selling those heatable wheatie-warmers shaped like bunnies and horses. Hazel wants one. This was our bedtime conversation just now

Hazel: Are you going to buy me a bunny one?
Me: Well...I might make you one instead.


Hazel: Buying one would be faster...

I'm not fooling anyone am I, not even almost-four-year-olds.


On a more positive note, 'Sewing Green' arrived this afternoon which totally took me by surprise! All the other crafting books I've ordered from Fishpond have taken a couple of weeks to come from overseas first, this one must have been sitting in their warehouse. It's lovely! I'll post more about it in a day or so but I'm really in love with some of the projects although I'm not overly confident about my ability to source all these woolen sweaters from op-shops that they seem to require. Like 3 or 4 per project... I might have a look around tomorrow and see what the supply is like. Probably not good considering the cold snap that's hit us the last couple weeks! Some of the projects are a bit 'meh' though - I'm sorry but I really don't need yet another apron pattern, particularly the utterly useless half aprons that don't cover the part of the body most likely to get coated in flour! But that's probably my particular pet peeve - they're in every single recent craft book I have I think, it's a pandemic! :) Otherwise there are many projects that I'm absolutely dying to try out, especially the log-shaped draft-stopper, complete with leaves and bracket fungi! Eeeeee!

17 June, 2009

Autumn and spring

Autumn and spring, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

It's a funny time of year, autumn leaves and spring bulbs.

In an effort to spend my birthday money I bought 'Sewing Green' by Betz White.

It's been lurking on my wishlist over at Fishpond for awhile now and they sent me a $10 off coupon today which clinched the deal. I'm really looking forward to having a read, it's been getting nothing but good reviews in the bloggosphere!

15 June, 2009

Well Phew!

My blog was frozen today because Blogger's little spam robots had flagged it as potential spam. Aside from the annoyance and nagging fear that I'd done something truly heinous by accident, it was kind of a harsh editorial comment. This is how Blogger defines a spam blog "...can be recognized by their irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text, along with a large number of links..." Ooof! ;) I have no idea what triggered it but I think I'll take it easy on the links for a bit, you can all go Google them yourselves. My students hate it when I make them go and look things up for themselves, but hopefully I won't alienate too many of my highly intelligent and self-sufficient readers.

I had a lovely time in Wellington and up in Marton at my in-laws. The talk went well from my perspective and I had lots of really nice unsolicited compliments on it from people that I really admire so I feel all energised and go-gettish about the work again. I should probably write a paper while the feeling is still fresh!

The only downer was that not a single person, not one, commented on my Clothkits skirt. Philistines! I did see one lady covertly studying it while we waited at a crosswalk, I guess that'll have to do me. I need to take it in at the waist for the billionth time though, it kept slipping lower and lower on my hips as the fabric stretched out, until I began to worry I was about to show everyone my bellybutton! I really have the worst time fitting skirts, I take them in and take them in, and then sew them up and realise I should have taken it in more, and pick it apart and take it in, but not enough and have to do it again. I just have a fear of it being too tight and don't take into account fabric stretching. Plus this is an A-line which I'm really unfamiliar with in terms of how they're shaped. I always sew more fitted, curvy skirts and had a feeling that A-line is not for me - but it is! When I get the waist right that is, and now I can straighten the line over the hips a bit more and get it sitting just perfect.

11 June, 2009

A holiday of sorts

Beehive, Wellington, originally uploaded by Jonathan Ah Kit.

Off at conference being an archaeologist, back soon!

08 June, 2009

Our favourite book at the moment

We got Pancakes for Findus out of the library and it's become Hazel's favourite. They're not books I'm familiar with, but apparently the Findus and Pettson books by Sven Nordqvist are pretty popular in the right circles (and translated into 44 languages!)

At first I wasn't entirely sold on it but I really adore it now, particularly for the wonderful illustrations. Nordkvist has a great way of playing with scale, so there are lots of little animals, houses, baths, stairs etc. hidden away in bushes or up trees. You can see some in the picture below (click to enlarge).

The story is also fun, Pettson wants to make birthday pancakes for Findus (the cat) but has run out of flour. When he goes to cycle to the store he discovers his tyre is flat, the repair kit is locked in the tool shed, the key has fallen down the well and so on! Of course they eventually unravel the chain and Findus gets his pancakes.

There's another one in the library where they try and trap a fox, unfortunately it's out right now but I'm putting in a reserve for it when it comes back! Definitely on my wish list at Fishpond for birthdays and Xmas. All the reviews say for 5-7 year olds but Hazel's not quite 4 and is very keen on it so I think they're being a bit conservative.

Walking and sewing and writing papers

We went for a great walk up in the Waitakeres on Sunday morning. The weather was only marginally sunny, but it was so wonderful to get out of the suburbs and into the bush. When I only spend time around the neighbourhood or in the city it's easy to forget that New Zealand is a wonderfully different and strange place compared to Canada, and the bush never fails to make me feel both a foreigner and in awe at the same time.

Auckland City Walk, Waitakere Ranges

The only problem with wanting to take photos of this amazing place is that it's So. Dark. under the canopy, most of the photos came out blurry or murky. Or both! Perhaps the best way to experience it is to watch Lord of the Rings ;) I have the utmost respect for those professional photographers who can take photos in the deep bush and have them come out! I guess they lug around lighting because seriously, there is no other way. In this one I had to overexpose the sky to get the path to show up. I can't resist the tree ferns and nikau palms against the sky though, like architectural lace.

Auckland City Walk, Waitakere Ranges

And a nice stream to walk beside
Auckland City Walk, Waitakere Ranges

Hazel had a great time, walked for an hour and a half with no complaining and even a bit of running at the end. Ah to have the energy of a kid! Her main concern was that there might be bears and foxes out there, which we were able to assure her didn't exist here. Here we are at the end of the track, before I collapsed gratefully into the nice warm car. :)

Auckland City Walk, Waitakere Ranges

On the home front I'm alternating between working on my talk for the NZAA conference in Wellington on Thursday, and sewing up the Clothkits skirt. It's taking me longer to do the skirt than I anticipated, but it's come together really nicely. The fabric is a lovely heavy yet drapey cotton so I think it'll look fabulous when it's all hemmed up. The talk isn't taking me as long which is worrying me! It's only 20 minutes, but actually that can be harder than doing an hour because you have to edit ferociously.

06 June, 2009

Can you help me relocate a blog?

I knew I'd forgotten to note down some good blogs in the SMS frenzy! I'm hoping that someone might be able to help me with this. The blog was giving away a pattern that was for various items of women's clothing, like a rather sexy-looking nightgown, a singlet, etc., all essentially variations on a theme. I could have sworn I bookmarked either the shop (etsy?) or the blog but nope and I'd really like to go back and look at the pattern as I'm in the market to make some nightgowns and so-on. Any suggestions gratefully recieved and in the meantime I'll go back to slowly making my way through the giveaway lists again!

I'm almost finished the first Clothkits skirt - I went with the Trellick Tower one. It's taken a bit longer than I'd hoped as I've had to do some adjusting to get it to fit, like curving the back seam to fit into the small of my back, and darn if that isn't hard to do on yourself! I think I've got it sitting nicely now though.

Felt mask for a little superhero

I've just discovered that Hazel is simply the mild-mannered alter-ego of Super Hazel!

Super Hazel and felt mask

She was running around with a little mask she'd made herself out of paper so I offered to make her a bigger one. And of course I couldn't just do a paper one could I? Oh no, it had to be a felt one. I managed to finish before she completely lost interest in the whole operation, so probably in under half an hour. Hazel was dead keen on the star eyes on the paper masks at Creative Kids at Home , but they were too small so I made them bigger as much again. The mask itself is just two layers of felt fused together with Underwonder and reinforced with stitching. We went through every single stitch my machine does before settling on this one - thank goodness I have a fairly basic machine! I've put up a tutorial for the mask in another post, or you can download the full tutorial and pattern here or just the pattern here

Felt mask

I'm quite pleased with how it turned out, and she really likes it. I'm still not sure about those star eye holes, but she assures me they're the right size and she can see out fine so who am I to argue?

I often feel like a bit of a fraud putting up photos of Hazel because of course I choose the nicest ones, and while she's really very photogenic, it doesn't really give a true representation of the range of dreadful photos I have of her as well. So here's one to balance things up a bit:

Super Hazel

How typical that this one has much better lighting! I must admit the awful photos are becoming more frequent because she assumes these odd expressions for photos these days - grimaces, frozen smiles, tongue sticking out etc. etc. It's at the point where I have to trick her and take photos when she's not expecting it. Bring back my smiley baby!

03 June, 2009

A commission!

Photo scale bag WIP, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

I'm going to have to change my profile blurb, Mat's asked me to make him something! He needs a bag for his photo scales - that red and white stick there. Important archaeological tool that! This is a photo of my supplies - jeans to cut up for the outside, green for the lining, gingham for the pocket linings. I need to make some inner pockets for a notebook and pen, calculator and compass. I've got the design roughed out and I'm ready to go! But when exactly?

I'm having huge problems allocating time right now. I have four projects that have roughly equal urgency in my mind - the quilt, the bunny tutorial, a clothkit skirt for me (but which one?!), and this bag. Oh, and a paper to write to present at a conference in Wellington next week! So how do I decide what to work on? I guess really the paper needs to come first - that's a hard-and-fast deadline and I'll be standing behind the podium on Thursday next whether the paper is done or not! And I need clothes to wear while I'm up there (now there's a stress dream if ever I heard one) so I need the skirt. Mat's beginning to harass me about the bag, so I suppose that's next - which leaves the quilt last AGAIN. It keeps getting pushed back and Amy keeps getting bigger in the photos. I need more time in the day!

02 June, 2009

An Auckland winter

Hazel at the window, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

When the southerly came through on Sunday the temperature dropped, the rain lashed the living room windows, and with the heater on in the living room the condensation appeared almost instantly.

Hazel covered the panes with her name, or in this case, Santa Claus. Oh little girl, you have a long wait ahead of you! Poor thing, with a Canadian for a mother she's so full of ideas of snow at winter that she can't quite get her head around the idea that it never snows here and that it's summer when Santa comes. I'm determined to get her down to the snow this winter though, it's her birthright! It's crazy how much I miss snow. Snow and mountains. Of course I'd probably get my fill of snow in a couple weeks, but I can never get enough of mountains.

Life must go on

I know that life after the SMS give-away does exist, but it seems strangely empty and without purpose. ;) I was so excited to finally be able to draw a winner for my bunny, and even more excited to win something myself! Oddly enough it was the first give away I entered, and I was the first commenter on it too! I won a lovely linen pouch with a wee orange square on it from Pascale over at //Between the lines//, one of my favourite blogs.

One of the huge benefits of having my giveaway, was that I included the little note that I was going to turn the bunny into a tutorial and now lots and lots and LOTS of people know this so I have to actually do it! I'm sure I would have got around to it sometime, but there's something very motivating about sharing your plans with a crowd. I don't know, maybe something to do with the fact they actually expect you to do it. :D It works wonders for other aspects of life too - like inviting someone over for dinner if you really need to get the house clean but lack the motivation. So anyway, I've begun the bunny tutorial - look!

Bunny pattern WIP, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

I'm reasonably confident I've got the pattern right so I've committed to using some of my very small stash of pure wool felt. Ooooo I know! It's like gold down here, and just about as expensive! Mat's said he'll help me draft the pattern up in Illustrator (or irritator as he calls it) and then I'll have to figure out where to put it up. I don't think Blogger hosts anything other than images?

01 June, 2009

Give away winner!

And the winner is, out of 219 entries (!!)...drumroll please... comment number

I know, all those lovely lovely entries and it's lucky #7 :) Not that I'm really complaining because I only had to count up to seven and I didn't even run out of fingers. So the winner is:

Leanna who said "The little bunny is too cute! I'm from around Dallas, TX -- where it's hot almost all of the time! =)" Well Leanna, this bunny is going to be really glad to be sunning his toes near Dallas and away from this miserably cold Auckland weather :) I've sent you an email.


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