Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bootie trials

So the other week I decided I wanted to try out making some baby booties. I'd seen some really cute ones somewhere and figured I could do just as well. I got out some red fleece that I had left over from making my kids Christmas stockings, and thought some nice soft booties would be good. So here's my first attempt, not too bad - but I realised afterwards that I'd put one sole on upside down so the shape was all wrong. These were very easy to sew, and in different colour combinations could look really cute. One that I'll keep for use one day, for friends babies.

Then I thought I'd try something a little more structured, and voila the flowery Mary Jane.

Quite cute I thought, just using up some flannel fabric from Joann's that I'd used to make my daughter's bean bag from, and lined in a pink flannel gingham. I liked the overall shape of the 'shoe' but didn't like the inside.

All those exposed seams, not good on little feet and toes, and are just plain ugly and messy. So I thought I would line it properly, basically just attaching the soles differently so the seams are turned under. So, cue shoe number 2:

Similar from the outside, but it's the inside detail that counts.

Much better for little toes. Theoretically these could also be reversible, especially if you were so inclined to join the seam inside carefully with hand stitching, rather than whizzing it through the machine! So a pleasant afternoon sewing, but I think overall they are just too fiddly for me. This was the largest size too, so I hate to think how fiddly a newborn size would be.

When I'd finished sewing them I bought them downstairs and had them sitting on the kitchen bench - admiring my handiwork. Forgot about them sitting there until my husband came home, took one look at them and asked if there was something I hadn't told him!!!! Ha ha ha!! And no, there isn't, and no I am not!!!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The consumer review

The product has been put out for consumer review and the results are in!! Soapie (as it was called by the 4 year old) or Soapette (by the 8 year old) is a resounding success - hooray! 

Here's Ollie putting Soapie through his paces - great for scrubbing those filthy, little boy knees and feet! 

It's just the right size for little kids hands, and works up a great lather. 

 And an unexpected bonus - it floats! So no losing the soap at the bottom of the bathtub anymore - yayy!!

Elyse also road tested Soapette in the shower, but she didn't want photos!! She also said it worked a treat though. Hmmm, do I see another product for my etsy shop.....???

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tales of toweling, robes and soap.

After spending lots of time on jobs around the house recently, I finally got back to the sewing room. I made two swim robes for one of my favourite people in Houston, after she saw the ones I made for my kids here and here. Well actually they were for her two daughters who do swim training twice a week. They are the perfect thing for throwing on after training. They will get the girls dry quickly and keep them warm on the quick trip home. Saves them having to get dressed at the pool, as they are going to jump in the shower as soon as they get home. The robe will keep them warmer than a towel as they can wrap it around them, tie it up and pop the hood on. Perfect!

Here is the older girl's robe. I forgot to take a photo of the other robe - doh! Will have to get both girls decked out one day and take photos of them. I included a pocket on this one, so she has somewhere to put her goggles and cap on the way to and from the pool.

As for the robes I made for my kids, I made this from an Ikea towel, well 3 towels actually - she's much bigger than my kids! The good thing about using towels is aside from finding nicer towels than buying toweling fabric, they they can also save you some time. Here I've use the little tape hanging hook that Ikea have on their towels as the keeper for the belt. 

And I cut out the sleeves so that they used the towel edge as the hem, rather than having to use bias tape.

If you've ever sewn toweling you know that it makes a huge mess!! Never clean up your sewing room floor until you have finished the project!! Well I had finished yesterday, so I was cleaning up - and found some pieces left over from my daughters pink robe. I had initially made the sleeves too long, so I cut 3 or so inches off them after I had sewn the seam. These off cuts were the inspiration for something I'd been meaning to make for the kids for ages. Whenever they are in the bath the soap always slips through their fingers and they are forever losing it at the bottom of the bath - they think it's hilarious, but it drives me nuts and they spend half the time looking for the soap. I've bought a couple of soap holders for kids, but they are never much good. So. I wanted to make something that would work properly.

So from the cut off sleeve, I made these.

Little toweling soap bags! Now the soap won't slip through their fingers, we will be able to find the soap because of the bright colours and the bags will get all soapy when they rub them on their skin as they use them like a face cloth. Brilliant - well I think so anyway!! 

I simply joined the edges, folded over the top edge and put a buttonhole in it, and threaded through some bias tape to tie it all together. This way when the bar of soap is finished I can put a new one in. I can also take the soap out and put it through the washing machine when it needs it. The pink was actually too big, so once I had finally gone downstairs to get a bar of soap to see how big it was, I made the stripey one the right size. I then had to cut down the pink one a bit, as it was too wide.

 The kids thought they were brilliant, but we haven't tried them out yet. Update to come!

My son, Ollie, was home when I was trying to take pictures of the soap holders, and this is the photo he wanted me to include. Don't you love his staging of alien-guy (no idea who, or what he is) and Mac? Just perfect for a 4 (almost 5! ) year old boy!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

In the beginning...!!!

I was remembering the other day when I first started making Knappy Knickers, or just knickers for over nappies as they were then! It was sights like this that got me reaching for the sewing machine!
Not a very good photo, but it was taken in the mosh pit at a Wiggles concert in 2005! That's my daughter on the right giving her best friend a bear hug. And what do you see hanging out from underneath her dress....?? Yes a saggy, baggy nappy/diaper - NOT attractive!! I actually thought I had a better photo of the offending nappy, but this is the best I could find.

I had had some little stretchy knickers that had come with a couple of her dresses, but they were too small, and I couldn't find any replacements - no matter how hard I looked. And I looked all over Perth to find some. So I did what any good mother does when she can't find what she wants - she makes it!!

I worked out my pattern, bought some fabric and gave it a go. The first few pairs weren't too flash, and the little girl being swamped by Elyse in the photo above was a guinea pig for the first prototypes as well as Elyse. I finally refined the pattern, got better fabric and then we had the following.

Perfect for when you aren't sitting like a lady, or when you're hanging out with Grandad's dog on the farm in summer!

The other benefit to the knickers was that Elyse couldn't get them off, which meant she couldn't take her nappy off!! Yep, we've all been there - when your toddler decides it's time to take all their clothes and nappy off!! Well, the knickers at least meant that she still had a nappy on!

So while Elyse, and a friend, had covered nappies, it wasn't until 2007 that I decided to take the plunge and try selling the knickers at a market. So I sewed like mad to build up enough stock, and stood in the sweltering heat for a day - and sold lots of Knappy Knickers! I have to say, the great response I got at the market did surprise me a little, never having sold something I had made before. I continued on, selling Knickers at local Perth markets for the next year. In that time I decided to reward myself and buy an overlocker/serger from the profits - best decision I ever made as it really takes the Knickers up a notch. Although I must admit I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with it!! 

Fast forward to October 2008 and my husband was transferred to Houston, so sadly just as I was starting to do really well with the Knickers and see benefits of the last year of hard work, I had to pack the Knickers up. 

It took until May 2011 until I decided it was time to do something with my Knickers, and listed my first item on Etsy. Nerve wracking to say the least!! I've had a few sales, but I'm in a bit of a lull now while I try to improve my sad photos, rewrite the descriptions and tags. There are so many gorgeous diaper covers on Etsy so those photos need to be good to stand out. I think I am the only person making stretchy diaper covers like this, so it's hard for people to get away from the idea of the big cotton bloomer type diaper cover. It's also hard taking great photos when my live in models are now far too old for nappies!

Meantime, I finished the swim/bath robe for Elyse and I'm really pleased with it. It's an Ikea towel and some gorgeous Michael Miller fabric. Here's my grown up girl, modelling poolside!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Life after the holidays

So the kids started back at school last Wednesday. After 12 weeks of holidays I think we were all ready to get back to school and settle back into some routines. I spent my first few days to myself catching up on some of the many jobs that need doing around here (still oh so many to go though!), catching up with the school mums for coffee, and then doing some shopping for a new bike! I did my first triathlon almost 2 years ago, and have done a handful each year since then. I only do sprint distance ones, but really enjoy them - well, I don't enjoy the 5am starts on race day, but after that it's mostly all good!! Anyway, I really needed a new bike, so in the weekend I bought myself a lovely new one, and she's called Ruby! And here she is:
She the nicest bike I've ever had, and will probably ever have, and she's gorgeous. Took her for a spin yesterday and it's incredible the difference she makes to my riding. Bring on my next triathlon in October!!

Sewing-wise I've been a bit quiet lately. In my quest for the perfect fabric shop, I recently went to High Fashion Fabrics in Houston with my daughter, Elyse. Well it's huge and has some fantastic fabric, but as is the way in most fabric stores, not many knits which is what I was specifically looking for, for my Knappy Knickers. Anyway, Elyse and I both saw this gorgeous fabric which I thought would look fantastic on her. It's a Robert Kaufman Organic cotton print, Pick a Bunch Posies, and I made it into the easiest quickest thing I could think of, a basic elasticated skirt.

I love it. Elyse - not so much. Thinks it's too puffy!!! So I might take out some of the bulk of the fabric to make it less puffy. Then she said she didn't like the elastic waist and wanted (what I got from her convoluted description) a ribbed band instead of elastic. So, I've now got the ribbing, stay tuned for the new, updated version of the skirt! 

The other thing I had promised for Elyse was a swim robe, similar to the one I made for Ollie, here. I had bought the towel for it from Ikea ages ago, and had a pattern from here but it was only to size 4 and I didn't have the time to upsize the pattern. So I got another pattern but then had only just enough towel to fit the pattern (I had one bath towel and one bath sheet.) So after a bit of playing around with the pattern layout I got it to fit, and ended up with the band from the edge of the towels down the front of the robe, and on the sleeves. I think it looks quite good, will see what Elyse thinks! Here it is, work in progress. 

Of course I forgot that I hadn't bought all the bias binding for the edging, so will have to make another trip to Joann's for the rest. But for now, on with those jobs....!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

After the holiday

Well, all good things come to an end as they say, and this is what happened to our holiday. We had a fantastic time, Salt Lake City onto Jackson and then Yellowstone. Loved the beautiful country up there, and the gorgeous weather. A couple of days of rain showers, but nothing that stopped us getting out and about to explore the Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks. They were both spectacular, and after being in Houston for a couple of years seeing hills again is fantastic. I'm from Wellington in New Zealand, which is really hilly, so I'm used to the hills and miss them in flat old Houston. It was also great to escape the Houston heat, to some lovely cooler weather.

So here are some snaps of our trip:

 The elk horn gates to the square in Jackson, WY. 
 At the top of Jackson Hole Ski Resort - stunning views, and quite a bit of snow still around.
 Views of the Tetons, spectacular.
 Artists Point in Yellowstone.
 Old Faithful doing it's stuff!
 Some of the locals we met along the way.

So now it's back to reality, and all the back to school jobs. We've been to the doctor, the dentist, bought new school shoes, got the uniforms ready and dropped all the forms into school. We start back on Wednesday of next week, so a girls lunch out will be called for that day I think once the kids are safely dropped off at school. Twelve weeks of holidays are just tooooo many, the kids are at each others throats and are so ready to go back to school. And so am I. I'm ready to get into all those jobs I've been putting off until school goes back! Next week I'll have no excuse for not getting them done though.

I will also have to get serious about my training again. I have been very slack over the holidays, doing the minimum of exercise. Since I've been in Houston I have found a love for running (if you knew me in the past you will realise what a quantum change that is!!!) and have done two half marathons and some other shorter races. I have also started doing triathlons, and have another couple in October - just sprint ones, but still training is needed! Then I have also entered the Houston Half Marathon again, in January, so will have to seriously dust off my running shoes again if I want to have any chance of getting sub 2 hours in that.

Then there is etsy to focus on, and all those jobs I've been putting off. Hmmm, maybe holidays ending isn't so good after all.....?!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

KK on holiday

It's school holidays so we're on our big summer trip. This year we're going to Yellowstone and the Tetons for some fresh air and wildlife - although hoping the wildlife doesn't include a close encounter with a bear! We are currently in Salt Lake City then will drive up to Jackson, WY for a few days before heading to Yellowstone.

I love exploring new places and we always end up walking for miles and miles, mostly the kids are OK but there is the usual dose of moaning, bad behavior and sibling fights!! Fortunately SLC has lots of open spaces for them to race around in and makes lots of noise without annoying too many people!!

I've given myself time off from Knappy Knickers but I still did an on-line search for fabric stores here - couldn't help myself!!

Will try to post some photos of the scenery when we get to the Tetons and Yellowstone, but may not post again til we are home.