simple sewing

I want to welcome Caroline and Maryanne, a couple of sisters who live in Sydney, Australia. Together they chat on their blog and run sewing classes – sewtogether – for new and young mothers who want to sew for themselves and their children.

We come from a long line of crafting women, who have all had the desire to create. We hope to continue this family tradition, spark this passion in our children and share it with friends. We run a sewing school where our main focus is to help our students discover the joy of creating beautiful but simple things and the joy that can be found through being part of a crafty community.

Seize the Moment Sewing
Once upon a time, ladies of leisure embroidered delicate tablecloths with matching napkins, they spent years making heirloom quilts and months smocking dresses for their daughters (and their sons!) Hand creating beautiful things has always been seen as an act of love.

As life becomes busier and time becomes more valuable it can sometimes be impossible to find time to craft and to create special things for the people we love the most, but it’s all about seizing the moment. Those moments come thick and fast in families – first steps, wobbly teeth, receiving your first library card, swimming lessons, first sleepovers – why not seize those milestones and make them extra special with treasures and keepsakes that you can make in minutes, not weeks? In this case, less time doesn’t mean less love. First sleep-over pajamas, library bags, birthday badges and tooth fairy pillows can all be made in less than an hour, used and loved and then stowed away in a keepsake box for later so that memories remain tangible.

We like to call it ‘Seize the moment sewing’! and to get you started… a tutorial to make Birthday Brooches.

These running stitch birthday brooches are super quick, super easy and perfect for kids who love to wear their age with pride (unlike their mothers!)

You’ll need:
- Felt scraps in a variety of colours
- Craft glue
- Embroidery thread in a variety of colours
- A safety pin

1. Cut out your top felt layer. If you are feeling confident you can hand draw and cut, but I like to print a template off my computer. A 300 point font is a good size.
2. Get stitching. I love the sashiko effect of just using running stitch, but it’s up to you!
3. Glue the embroidered layer of felt to a square of felt just slightly larger than the top layer. I use spray glue as it stiffens up the felt nicely, but any kind of craft glue will do the trick.
4. Cut around the number you have just glued leaving enough edge (approx. 3mm / 1inch) to stitch around your first border.
5. Repeat steps 2 ,3 and 4
6. If you don’t want your stitching to show on the back of the brooch, attach another piece of felt (the same size as your final layer) to cover it up. Stitch a safety pin (or brooch back if you have one) to your embroidered number and…you’re done!

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Lotta Jansdotter’s Simple Sewing for Baby: 20 Easy Projects for Newborns to Toddlers by Lotta jansdotter. Chronicle Books (May 13, 2009).

I love this book – it is so very obviously written by someone with young children – the projects are practical and fun – and simple. Written with the knowledge that as a new mother with a young baby/toddler your sewing time is limited – yet you want your kids to make use of natural toys, wear groovy unique clothes and be surrounded by colour and style – and to top it all off you are on a budget!

I was lucky enough to preview this book before it was released and as I say on the back cover “New mothers are crying out for a way to express their creativity” this is so totally true. I love the photography – the real life situations and along with Lotta’s simple illustrations this book is a wonderful resource.

Projects range from clothing, practical accessories for parents and baby, fun toys and colourful household items. Baby bloomers, a bib that doubles as a kerchief and is cool enough to wear all the time to catch the drool, simple A-line dresses for the girls with a fun little toy attached to the pocket and simple pants for boys and girls. A small complaint about the lack of sizing information on the clothing – especially if you are making this a gift for someone else’s child – the need to measure the child in question might prove awkward.

lotta simple sewing for baby

Lotta also brings her print making style to the book with some decorating tips for clothing and the book includes some of Lotta’s stencils.

The toys too are practical and natural, and washable! A softie rattle, a big ‘buddy’ and soft alphabet letters. There are some wonderful essentials for new baby too – I love her design for the baby snuggler – and the pocket bib, a nursing pillow for breastfeeding mothers, the essential diaper bag (that the dad can carry too).

lotta simple sewing for baby

Many of these projects are not new to the world of new mothers, but Lotta manages to put a new spin on old designs and offers new mothers something fresh to help them out in this exciting journey of parenting and creativity.

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Are you looking for a fast first project in needlepoint? Do you want to make a charming handmade gift in a few hours without getting your hands dirty? The Amish Quilt bookmark uses a simple needlepoint design, which can be done in any color you choose, uses simple materials to make a great design.

Materials: 4″ square of 14 mesh needlepoint canvas : 5 colors of #3 pearl cotton or other thread to coordinate with bookmark : (model uses brown paper packages Silk & Ivory in 125 (salmon), 12 (black), 14 (burgundy, and 65 (iris)) : one square of foam adhesive : bookmark 2″ x 6″ : alphabet stamps

Following the needlepoint chart (pictured), stitch the quilt in the center of your square of canvas.

Needlepoint stitches cover one intersection of the canvas and slant from lower left to upper right.

Once the needlepoint is stitched cut the canvas three threads from each side and unravel two of the threads. Place the foam square in the middle of the bookmark, near the top. Place the needlepoint onto the foam square and weigh down with a book. Attach letter stickers spelling “read” (or another appropriate word) down the bookmark below the needlepoint. If you like, embellish the bookmark with a tassel.

About the designer: Janet Perry is a leading expert on needlepoint. She’s known for her innovative approach to the craft, making it “fast, fun, and affordable.” She writes books, develops stitch guides, needlepoint projects and on-line classes. She blogs daily, and is developing a comprehensive needlepoint site. This is her first project for Whip Up. All images copyright 2008, Janet Perry

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