28 July, 2009

Going on a blog holiday

Off for a bit of fun in the snow - back next week!

27 July, 2009

Undies attempt 1

Effort: A
Achievement: F

I took a pattern off my favourite pair of underwear and made some up today. I cut it out of an old black tshirt, being clever with the placement so as to be witty while being crafty and all that. They went together beautifully, beautifully. Seriously, I was so impressed with how darn easy it was, and how great they looked when I was done.

I followed the construction technique they used for the originals: sew crotch seam, sew lace around both legs incorporating gussety lining bit, sew up one side seam, sew lace around waist, sew up final side seam. It's quite good because it minimises how often you need to sew seams in the lace.

But. BUT. (or should I say butt?) I forgot to allow for the lack of two-way stretch in this tshirt so while they looked pretty much exactly the same as the originals, when I put them on they were, how shall I say, not quite extensive enough in the vertical sense. They stretched side to side fine, the lace looks great! but yeah, a lot of plumbers crack kind of means they're not going to go into high rotation like I'd been hoping. I'm not sure if I've got any tshirts with the requisite amount of stretch, so may have to go and buy some more appropriate fabric. Still, yay on doing it and showing myself that it's possible to get a good result on my first attempt. Plus the pattern is fine to continue on with. An artist doesn't blame her materials I know but I totally do in this case!

26 July, 2009

Too cold!

It's too cold to sit in the spare room and sew and I'm too lazy cheap to turn on the heater and do anything. So first off a recommendation:

You really owe it to yourselves to go and check out The Toymaker's free paper toys, cards, puzzles, games, boxes and really just everything! The stuff is beautiful and whimsical, and more than a little bit old-fashioned and sweet. While it has things for both boys and girls (and grownups!) I'd say its strength probably lies on the female end of the spectrum, with some delightful toys designed around fairies and stuffed toys. I'm going to print off a few things for Hazel for the car trip down to Taumaranui this coming week.

The last of the pencil rolls went off today, I finished the second two up with lovely pink spotty ribbons for Hazel and Chloe, so I hope they get well-used! The adults seem to be more enamoured of them than the kids to be honest :) Apparently I could have sold several to the graphics folks at my council after they saw one, flattering but oh boy I can't imagine doing any more in the near future! It's not a hard project, just fiddly - but like all things I do I really can't do them more than once or twice before I get bored to the point where I dislike making them. Even if I really really love the outcome. Now I must admit that over the last couple years I've toyed with having an Etsy shop, or a Felt one, but have never done more than that. I think now I know what I probably suspected all along, I'd be hopeless! At least if I kept up my current mindset about doing the same items over and over again. Perhaps if you're doing it commercially you look on it more as a job - just for interests sake I'd be interested to hear from anyone who does sell their wares on how much of a factor repetition and boredom is?

24 July, 2009

Simuliidae larvae

Simuliidae larvae, originally uploaded by weirdbuglady.

My dad's an entomologist and sent along this link to a softie blackfly (sandfly) larvae which is what he specialises in. Go and check out the rest of her stuff, it's really quite brilliant! I just wish I'd thought of doing something like this first :) The fans look just right, although I'd have to defer to him on how anatomically accurate it is exactly.

23 July, 2009


When I very nervously sent off links to my tutorials to a couple of crafty sites I never expected to get this many visitors! To be honest I wasn't even sure if they'd get posted up, but it has really exceeded my wildest bloggosphere-domination dreams (and they're pretty huge let me tell you). The neat part about it is that I get to give back a little of what I've gained over the last year or so, namely heaps of fabulous ideas and great tutorials that didn't cost me a cent. I like the idea of other kids running around wearing a felt mask and saving the universe or clutching a beloved little rabbit and their mums getting all the credit because that's how it should be. So hi to everyone who has decided to follow me, or put me on their Reader or Bloglines - I'm really flattered and I'll try and keep it at least moderately interesting around here. :)

Ok, Hazel is having a moment in her bedroom after getting into the stretch lace I bought yesterday to make some undies and cutting off a bit to staple to a piece of paper and she's crying up a storm. I should go and see if she has an apology for me so we can both have cuddles. The incident did make me measure to see how much I really needed (just estimated at the shop yesterday) and I'm way WAY under what I need so a snippet off it isn't a big deal in the end (luckily for Hazel!). That awful child at creche yesterday may have been right about me needing to lose some weight. Out of the mouths of babes and all that! Who knew that two thighs and a waist could add up to so much. :P

22 July, 2009

Aierbazzi font

Rhymes With Orange posted a link to Font Squirrel and I found the most gorgeous font ever - Aierbazzi! It's not actually a font in the traditional sense, because it gives you something like this:


This was just done by pressing keys semi-randomly, but if you had the character map you could get pretty specific with your placements. If anyone does a cool one let me know! Hey, you could actually just send the list of keystrokes couldn't you, like abytvg, and then people could generate their own. Mine was done at 700pt in Photoshop, I couldn't get Word to recognise the font, not sure if that's because it's a Windows font and I'm on a Mac. Next time I'll try in Illustrator because I reckon you could get all fancy with kerning and orientation...

Birthday Invitations

Birthday Invitations, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

I finally got around to distributing Hazel's birthday invitations I created from Go Make Me's .pdf - took an embarrassingly long time but I make the excuse that I was busy discovering that my printer won't print on any paper heavier than 200gsm. An expensive lesson to learn! I think they turned out really well even on that weight paper. I just realised that the swings are facing the wrong way to the camera on the two front trees, you can see on the back one that they actually look quite 3-D and sit-on-able. I also had some 'issues' with my printer scaling things, so some of the trees ended up being smaller than they had to be! So printables aren't all sunshine and roses, there can be "technical difficulties" in producing them :P

19 July, 2009

Sewing Green Slippers

Sewing Green Slippers, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

I made these slippers from a felted wool sweater on Friday - and then did another pair for Mat that evening! They still need suede on the bottom though. Then I finished sewing one of the pencil rolls so I truly felt like some sort of project queen. They're lovely slippers and it's a great pattern. I altered the sole shape a little to suit my foot which has a big big toe and small little toes (perfectly adapted to the stiletto shoe!) and I did the whole sole with suede on the base. The pattern calls for two circles, one on the ball of the foot and another on the heel, but I figured that this was a bit more practical although not as cute-looking! I'm having a bit of trouble with the insole though. The pattern says to "slip" them in but they shift around something chronic so I'm going to have to tack them down. Otherwise I'm totally and utterly thrilled with them - so comfy and soft!

Coloured Pencil Roll

So this is what I've been all mysterious about - pencil rolls.

Pencil Roll 1

The pattern is from 'Last Minute Patchwork + Quilts'. The pins were necessary because I discovered as I went up and down the lines to form the pockets (see second photo) the fabric was being pushed up and down alternately and it looked awful! I'm not sure if this would be a problem if all the fabrics were cotton or not, but the linen was certainly prone to moving. Just goes to show the importance of choosing the right fabric for the project! Luckily it wasn't a deal-breaker, just a PITA.

Pencil Roll 2

I decided that since I was doing two for today, I might as well cut out the fabrics for four altogether, another one for Hazel and a spare for one of several more birthdays coming up! I haven't gotten to those two yet, I must admit that after I've done the same project a couple of times I usually lose interest in it, although this time there were new issues with the second even after I'd dealt with the first's issues, so I'll be striving to do better on the third! Seems I should have done Hazel's first to iron out the problems and then go on to do better versions for friends but that's not how it worked out and what will they know? Unless they read this post that is...

17 July, 2009

Shedding blood for the cause

Here's a handy tip for anyone stupid enough to use that many pins on a fairly small area of fabric - when you inevitably impale yourself on one several and bleed on the present you are making for someone else, wad up a length of thread and soak it with saliva. Then dab at the blood with it until the immediate area is soaked and the blood will magically disappear! I was told this by a friend who made costumes for Opera Australia and bugger me if it doesn't work! Something to do with the enzymes in the saliva apparently. It certainly saved my bacon when I made my wedding dress - and in this case too. Drops of blood may be all very romantic in fairy tales when they fall on the windowsill or the snow, but not in real life!

16 July, 2009


Pins, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

A little OTT perhaps but necessary (and rather pleasing to the eye)! I love linen but boy do I not like sewing with it, it stretches, bunches, skews and the weave shows every wonky cut or uneven seam. It makes me feel inadequate! I'm attempting to pin it into submission here, I'll let you know how the struggle goes next post although I doubt there will be any close-ups of my topstitching - I'm rapidly discovering how unforgiving stitching in the ditch is!

13 July, 2009

A work in progress

A work in progress, originally uploaded by Ansis68.

I'm back! I'm working on this hush-hush project at the moment, but couldn't resist taking this photo today, I loved the springy-ness of the pieces - much more interesting than when they're ironed! Wouldn't a skirt or jacket that be so neat done like this? I know it'd only last a wee while, but it'd be fun while it did. A skirt would literally bounce up and down when you walked I think.

I've been learning so much sewing all these strips, what with all the cutting, keeping an even seam allowance (that dreaded 1/4" even with the proper foot!), keeping all the strips even across the top, squaring them up... steep but fun curve.

Off to see the film Ponyo with Hazel and Mat tomorrow, I'm really looking forward to it!

10 July, 2009

Here's my doctor's note

I've been laid low by the dreaded conjunctivitis the last few days, it's been heinous. I've had it before after catching it from Hazel who very thoughtfully brought it home from creche, but never this bad. Apparently I also had something with a long name which means my eyelids were involved as well, but essentially I was looking like the Eye of Sauron with very puffy lids. I doubt Sauron actually had the puffy lids because that's only terrifying on a "omg please don't let me get whatever she's got!" kind of level, but I totally had the blood-red-evil-overlord eye. Still do actually, but due to the wonders of modern medicine (aka antibiotics up the wazoo) that's all I've got and it's more like Sauron's second girl cousin's pink eye now. Still not up to doing anything involving staring hard, which includes the computer, cutting fabric or sewing, so I guess I'll be off blogging and sewing for a couple more days. Luckily watching tv is ok, I must blink often enough doing that. Obviously Sauron wasn't much into quilting.

07 July, 2009

The Hazelnuts Felt Bunny Tutorial

Periodically, people have trouble printing the pattern off from Scribd. Scribd told me a couple of years ago "This was a known issue that our development team has recently resolved. If you continue to encounter this issue, please let [us] know. " It appears that a few people are still not able to print so they have asked me to say that if you do have trouble please contact them directly so they can help you and/or email me at the address listed in my contact details, specify if you want A4 or US letter, and I'll send you the file asap.

The Hazelnuts Felt Bunny

This pattern is my attempt to recreate two felt bunnies my brother and I were given back in the early 1970s. Apparently my grandmother also used to make similar bunnies in the 1950s in New Zealand, so I was keen to resurrect this pattern and make it available to others. The pattern and this tutorial are protected by an Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License, details can be found at the end of this tutorial.

A4 paper: Tutorial and pattern 464KB
US letter: Tutorial and pattern 470KB


• One piece of darker felt approximately 25cm (10”) wide and 23cm (9”) high for main body.
• One piece of lighter felt approximately 15cm (6”) by 18cm (7¼“) for tummy and inner ears.
• Embroidery thread
• Stuffing
• Thick yarn for pompom tail

1. Print out the pattern. 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”)

2. Cut out the following pieces (I find it easiest to trace around the pattern pieces and then cut):
Darker felt
2x Body
1x Head gusset
2x Ears
Lighter felt
1x Tummy cut on fold (or retrace with two halves together to form new pattern piece)
2x Ears

The more accurate you are at cutting, the better the bunny will fit together. If the pieces deviate during stitching, just trim any excess away to get a good match between pieces.

If you want extra embellishments on the bunny (see last step for one idea), do this now before sewing it up.

3. The cross stitch will hold the two pieces together securely, although the distance you set it back from the edges will depend on how sturdy your felt is. Pure wool felt is less likely to rip out than a blended or purely synthetic felt, so judge accordingly. For this demo rabbit, I’ve used pure wool felt and the stitches are generally 2mm from the edge (just over 1/16”) and 3-4mm wide (approx. 1/8”). I do half the cross all the way up one side…

…and then complete it by stitching back the way I’ve come. I find this helps me keep the stitches evenly spaced. Use three strands of standard six strand embroidery floss. I try and select a colour that is a shade or two off the lighter tummy colour and that also tones well with the darker body, in this case a peachy pink.

4. Begin by stitching the darker body pieces to the lighter tummy, one side at a time.

5. Stitch the two body pieces together at centre back from the bottom, ending at the point marked on the pattern for the stuffing gap (see photo on right below).

6. Then attach the head gusset beginning at the insertion point (A) marked on the pattern. In this example I started on the left side but it doesn’t really matter. Begin at Point A and stitch half crosses all the way to the end of the gusset piece and then return (steps 1 & 2). When you get back to Point A keep going down towards the top point of the tummy and then back up (steps 3 & 4). Stitch up the other side of the gusset and then back again (steps 5 & 6).

For steps 5 & 6 continue past the head gusset to the top point of the stuffing gap, sewing the two body pieces together at centre back. See photo below.

7. Place the dark and light ears together and cross-stitch around the edges, leaving the bottom free. Fold the ear in half lengthwise with light felt inside. Using sewing machine thread that matches the darker body felt, whip stitch the cross-stitched edge at the base up to the dashed line on the pattern (1cm), as well as the bottom edge. Make sure that the outer felt is level with, or slightly longer than, the inner so that it’s not sticking out when you sew the ears on. For example, I trimmed off the excess white at the bottom of the left ear.

8. With your fingers, gently pull the felt apart on either side of all the seams to flatten them out. You can also press the seams between your fingers. The seams will inevitably be ridge-like initially, but as the bunny is played with, squashed, and generally loved, they will work themselves flatter and flatter.

9. Stuff the bunny firmly with your choice of fill. Be careful not to stretch out the felt around the gap as you stuff. I’ve always used polyester fibrefill, but I suspect that wool rovings would be ideal in achieving a firm stuff. Pay particular attention to getting the paws and legs full. The initial firmness is essential because as the seams flatten out and give a bit the bunny will soften up. Sew up the stuffing gap, matching the stitches to those already there for a seamless look.

10. Attach the ears on using the same thread you sewed them with in Step 6. I position them so the ear’s folded area ends at the head side seam so I can attach them really firmly at this point. The rest of the ear is whip-stitched through the head felt and some of the stuffing if I can catch it (for added stability). The actual ear position is up to you – this is where your bunny starts to express its personality!

11. Cut out eyes from scraps of felt, I’ve used pure white and black. I used a regular hole punch for the black and cut the white slightly larger. Sew the black pupil on to the white, ad then both onto the bunny. Again, the eye placement is up to you, where you put them really gives the bunny its character so play around for awhile to get them just right.

12. Embroider on nose and whiskers. I’ve used the same embroidery floss I did to sew up the bunny. The nose is a simple satin stitch over the V formed by the head gusset and body pieces. To do the whiskers make a small knot at the end of a good length of floss and insert the needle into the seam near the nose, pushing it between the two layers of felt and out at the beginning of the first whisker. With a bit of gentle pulling the knot should pull through, get caught in the stuffing and hold firm. Sew the whiskers as desired. On the last whisker, determine the desired length and tie a small knot in the floss just fractionally past that point. Insert the needle at the whisker endpoint and down into the stuffing, emerging from the felt a distance away. Gently pull on the floss until the knot pops through the felt. Keeping tension on the floss, trim it close to the surface and it will slip back beneath the felt.

13. Make pompom for tail. I’ve included the template for the tail on this bunny, but it is a big one, so if you want a less luxurious version, adjust accordingly. If you weren’t a kid like me who made, what from memory seems to have been endless numbers of pompoms (Why? What for? Where did they go? It’s a mystery), I suggest this little tutorial over at Kid Craft Central. If you were like me don’t worry, it’s like riding a bike and it’ll come back as you go! Leave long tails on the wool you use to tie it off with so you can attach it easily to the bunny.

14. Attach the tail to the bunny butt. The tail is not only bunny’s pride and joy, it helps to keep it sitting up straight, so needs to be in the right spot to stop bunbun keeling over backwards or tipping forwards. That position will depend on your individual bunny and the pompom size. Once you’ve got that sorted thread a needle on to one of the long tails of the pompom and push it through from one side of the central seam to the other. How far out from the seam you start really depends on the size of the tail, but you want to make sure you’ve got a decent amount of felt and stuffing included, but not so much that when you pull tight the felt puckers. Do the same for the other long tail, putting it through just above or below the first one. Tighten until the pompom is firmly against the bunny and tie the two tails together with a granny knot or two, and trim the ends.

Congratulations! You’ve finished your bunny!

15. Extra embellishments

One of the original bunnies had felt flowers appliquéd on its back, reproduced here on another bunny I did.

I cut the petals and flowers freehand, you can see the various shapes and embroidery in these photos. The single flower on the right was attached all the way around with blanket stitch, with a stem stitch stem and satin stitch centre. It sits in the lower half of the left side of the back (sorry I don't have a photo of it in situ). The multi-petalled flower had petals held down at the base with a triangle of straight stitches and French knots in the centre. The leaf was done the same as the petals. The other type of flower, seen only on the top of the left photo and on the bunny above, were cut from one piece of felt and had a few straight stitches in the middle to hold them down.

If you'd like to customise your bunny eyes a bit more, see my post on it here

Angry bunny eyes

Final note: If you don’t feel like all this hand sewing, the pattern would also work well if you added a seam allowance to all the pieces and used a sewing machine. Use lighter fabrics than felt, and clip the curves religiously.

Please share a photo or two of your finished bunny at the Hazelnuts Felt Bunny Flickr group
I’d love to see what you come up with.

Creative Commons License

The Hazelnuts Felt Bunny by Jacqueline Craig is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.hazelnutgirl.blogspot.com/.

To paraphrase the CC explanation: This licence lets others remix, tweak, and build upon my work non-commercially, as long as they credit me and license their new creations under the identical terms. All new work based on mine will carry the same licence, so any derivatives will also be non-commercial in nature.

06 July, 2009

Fat quarter bundle surprise

I need to preface this tale by saying that here in NZ aside from a few quilting stores and even fewer other fabric shops, the only place to get fabric and crafting supplies is a chain called Spotlight. They are renowned for poor customer service and pretty average fabrics. But sometimes you find a gem, hidden away, purely by chance. Like this linen tape awhile ago.

I'm in the process of making a couple of birthday presents for some of Hazel's little friends and I needed some fabric of particular colours I didn't have in my stash, so I thought perhaps they'd have some fat quarters that would do - nothing exciting but in the right colours. It's a very uninspiring collection I must say! But as I poked and prodded a fabric caught my eye. It was part of a bundle of 3 fat quarters (originally 5) that had been pulled apart and loosely tied up again with ribbon. Here they are:

Fat quarter bundle surprise

So do you see what caught my eye? Oh yeah baby, HEATHER ROSS! Sorry to shout but really, Spotlight and Heather Ross fabrics are not something that you would normally consider in the same sentence, let alone the same universe. It was all I could do to keep from passing out (you see how fabric deprived we are down here). You can bet I searched high and low to see if there were any more but alas!

Fat quarter bundle surprise

I very casually purchased that bundle, discounted of course because there were only 3, almost holding my breath in case the girl at the counter said "wait a minute, that shouldn't be in there, I'll have to charge you twice as much". But she didn't and I ran across the parking lot to the safety of my car. Ok, so it was pouring rain but honestly, I felt like I'd got away with something slightly immoral and illegal (but not fattening). The bundle was from a commercial fat quarter operation so it doesn't have anything to do with Spotlight at all, but it's such an unexpected thing to find in a generic fat quarter assortment. Actually the other ones are pretty nice too, whoever put it together had taste!

ETA: Eeeeee! The orange stripy one is Heather Ross too - both from her Lightning Bugs and Other Mysteries collection. Double score! I think I need a drink...

05 July, 2009

The quest for daytime crafting 1

Thanks so much for all your commiserations, suggestions and moral support on constructive ignoring of your children. I'm quite determined now and I'm calling it "The Quest for Daytime Crafting'. I'll keep you posted on progress! I had to laugh at some of the suggestions you had, they brought back memories of my mum and what she used to do if I came complaining that I was bored. She usually told me to tidy my room which was a great incentive to find something else more entertaining!

The last couple days have been good, I've managed to get a fair bit done on the quilt and she's been quite relaxed about it. However, it's been the weekend so Mat's around to distract a bit, the real test will be this coming week - probably Thursday. I'm just going to be firm about it (har har) and ease her into it by helping her find things to do initially, and be willing to break away a few times to inspect whatever she's doing. Then as she gets used to that I'll start being a bit more firm about not interrupting me and see where we go from there. I need to keep in mind that I AM doing her a service, especially as an only child, and she will be a much happier individual for it in the long run. Plus, there is nothing wrong with being bored occasionally, I'm not sure why we're all so scared of it these days.

abraham darby

And apropos of nothing, a photo of a rose called Abraham Darby that I took a few years ago. I imported all my old photos and old iPhoto libraries into my current one and while it's become far too large and unweildy and will need to be backed up and pruned, I'm finding all sorts of old photos I'd forgotten about! I did a series of close-ups of flowers before Hazel was born with the intention of putting them on blocks of wood - never happened but they're so gorgeous!

03 July, 2009

Attention seeking

I've run across a couple of discussions in the bloggosphere lately about how much attention mums should be paying to their kids. This really hit home for me today oddly enough, or perhaps as a consequence of having it on my brain, I don't know!

Hazel's going through a phase of demanding that I "keep [her] company" - I must be in the room with her, and of preference, giving her my undivided attention or even better, playing with her. I don't mind this to an extent, I like paying attention to her and I feel that as an only child she perhaps has more call on my time than if she had a sibling to harass or be harassed by. But I feel that there must be limits, that I should be able to do my own thing for at least short periods of time. She disagrees. Both of us got quite petulant today at various points when our wishes were thwarted. I had some idea of getting back to the quilt, but I quite literally couldn't put up with the whining and complaints about how long I was taking and when was I coming back into the living room and gave in.

I really don't know how much crafting/me time I can reasonably expect to get with her at this age, perhaps I'm being over-optimistic for a four year old; but on the other hand I have absolutely no intention of being at her beck and call the rest of my life. She needs to learn to entertain herself at some point! She actually can, for quite long periods of time, but generally only when she realises that she's not going to get any joy out of me for whatever reason. Is it simply a matter of forcing her to rely on her own imagination and resources and getting her out of the habit of automatically turning to me for entertainment, or do I need to accept that I'm still pretty much the centre of her world and just suck it up for awhile longer? It seems from other bloggers that there is crafting to be done during the day with kids in the house, or am I allowing the unreality in blogs to colour my perception of reality and my situation? Bottom line is that I'd like to sew and stuff in daylight hours - even if just to figure out fabric colours!

02 July, 2009

Are you ready for Christmas?

Christmas Colors, originally uploaded by jonmatthew photography.

Are you planning on making lots of things for Christmas this year? Did you swear last Christmas that this year you'd really take the Handmade Holidays pledge and start early enough to succeed? Well here I am to remind you that there are only 176 days left to get crafty for your nearest and dearest. Thinking about this might be harder for those of you in the throes of summer I will admit. I distinctly remember thinking last year that if I wanted to make things for this coming Xmas I'd need to start in July. Hahahaha! I've actually tried to think about it but I'm darned if I can think of a single thing to give anyone. 'Tis (not) the season - yet.

I've been on a bit of a sweater felting binge after reading Sewing Green, doing old sweaters from up in the attic instead of dropping them at the local hospice op-shop. It's always so amusing to put an adult-sized garment in the washing machine and take out one that could almost fit Hazel. All except this one seemingly unfeltable thing that says it's pure wool but I swear, it's just not budging, even after two washes at 60C and through the drier! I think it actually IS wool, it's just such a thick yarn in a very loose knit (it's from Peru originally) that it has actually felted you just can't tell! Perhaps I'll send it along to the opshop after all, slightly smaller (but not much) and very clean!


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