Two months ago, we sold our house in Sydney and moved to a semi-country area called the Blue Mountains. We love it here. The air is fresh and clean. The traffic is non-existent. Our new house in a bushy area is incredibly peaceful. But the move meant our kids would attend a new school — a public school. Having only experienced Steiner schools before, the new school has been as much a culture shock to me as to the kids.
For one, this school has a lot of events — and I mean a lot. Every week there is something new. Crazy hair day, cake stand sales, snake education (yes there are snakes around here), excursions, and Harmony Day dress-up. It’s hard to keep up, and I admit, I’ve failed to prepare the kids for a few of these events, much to their dismay and embarrassment.
So when the school sent us a note that we needed to “make” special hats for our kids for the Easter Parade (and oh by the way, could you also contribute cakes for the cake stand?), I saw this as an opportunity to redeem myself as a Committed Parent.
I consulted my children about the designs of their Eater hats. My 5-year-old son immediately requested a “pirate bunny” hat. My 7-year-old daughter didn’t have any ideas. So I thought I’d make her something bright and rainbow-y, because she likes rainbows. I got this Japanese hat-making book out (“Oshaberina Boshi” — or “Chatty Hats” by Yumiko Itoyama), and got to work.
For the pirate hat, I modified this brimless hat pattern.
I used black canvas for the hat, and dark blue canvas for the lining. I modified the pattern to make the sides wider, to make it resemble a pirate hat. Then I painted a skull-and-swords pirate symbol on a piece of fabric (yes you can laugh at my feeble attempt)…
…and attached it onto the finished hat with fusible web. Lastly I made a tiny eye-patch for a store-bought bunny doll, and pinned it to the hat. Finished!
For my daughter’s rainbow hat, I decided on this tulip hat pattern.
I used six different Kona cotton colors in pastel shades.
Then I pinned some store-bought pastel eggs at the top for the finishing touch.
I was very pleased how these hats came out. And the kids seemed happy as well!
I didn’t forget to make carrot cupcakes for the cake stand, either.
The Easter Parade was so much fun to watch. It wasn’t quite what I expected though, because other kids had truly crazy and bright-colored hats, which looked like they were made by the kids, not the parents. The black pirate hat especially looked demure and tame among the ocean of colors.…
But it doesn’t matter! Because for once I felt like a Committed Parent on top of a school event. And my kids were happy to wear the hats I made, sing happy Easter songs with their classmates, and eat yummy cakes for lunch — though maybe not necessarily in that order.
I hope you all had a happy Easter weekend!
I love the new polar bear fabric by Mico Ogura. The bears in pants and scarves are super adorable, and the print comes in beautiful shades of blue, pink, and yellow. Aren’t they great? These are insulated snack sleeves, by the way.
But my favorite color is grey. So when a client asked me to make not one but two tote bags in this grey polar bear fabric, I knew they would turn out pretty special.
This is tote bag number one: It is a simple gusseted tote bag, but very large in size.
The bag has a recessed zipper closure at the top. There are two inside pockets: an exposed zipper pocket, and a patch pocket. I love how the bear heads are lining up at the zipper side and on the handles!
Here’s what the gusseted bottom looks like.
And here’s tote bag number two!
It’s smaller than the first one, and great for everyday use as a handbag.
It has an oval bottom like my bucket diaper bags.
There are two patch pockets inside, and a carabiner tab on the side.
I hope these polar bears will bring my client lots of smiles!
I have made quite a few phone cases in the past, but I am quite excited about this one I just made.
The Liberty of London oilcloth is beautiful of course. But what I love is that this case is just the right size for my iPhone 5, and nothing else. It had to have a flap closure for the perfect sizing — a zippered pouch will always be a little too big, to compensate for the narrower zipper opening. This flap closes with a small magnetic button.
I developed this case for a customer actually. She wanted a phone case of this exact dimension, in a different Liberty fabric. So this blue case was one of the trial versions I made. But it so happened that I needed a new phone case for myself, too, so lucky me, I get to keep this trial version!
I added a simple strap for this case, so I can wear my phone case cross-bodied. Here’s a confession: I’m one of those sad people who are glued to their phones. I tend to misplace my phone all the time though, in my own house, especially when my clothes don’t have a pocket. With this phone case, I can wear the phone on me all the time.
Plus, because the oilcloth fabric is waterproof, I can now enjoy my daily walks even in the rain, knowing my phone will not get wet. Hooray!
Ever since I started making insulated lunch bags, customers have been requesting that I make them in a larger size. I honestly don’t know why it took me nearly two years, but I finally made one today. Just in time for another hot Australian summer!
I love this big size. It’s only two inches wider and two inches taller, but the difference in capacity is pretty significant. Just look at this comparison photo.
The bag looks so roomy inside, I can fit lunch for my whole family in it. If you are using the bag just for yourself, there is enough room for your morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, a water bottle — plus a couple of ice blocks to keep everything cool for a few hours.
Even at this large size, doesn’t the bag still look cute? I love this black and white stripe fabric.
This extra-large lunch bag is available now in my shop. There’ll be more fabric choices in the future, but if you contact me, I’d be happy to make a custom lunch bag in your choice of fabric.
I have been meaning to make serviettes for my shop for the longest time. We use cloth napkins at nearly every mealtime, and they are incredibly versatile. The only reason I waited this long to make them for my shop was that they are boring to make. I mean, they are just… square cloths. And folding the four sides with a hot iron (before sewing them) isn’t the most fun job.
But last night I had a sudden inspiration. I can skip the ironing part! Instead of ironing all the folded edges first, I gently rolled the hems with my fingertips as I sewed them. This technique took a bit to get used to, but once I got the hang of it I was thrilled with the result. The hems are narrow, clean, reasonably straight, and best of all I didn’t have to burn my fingers with a hot iron.
As a bonus, I found this napkin-making process relaxing. The simple motions were therapeutic instead of boring, and I loved that I could sew while listening to my favorite podcasts (This American Life and The Longest Shortest Time). It was a little addictive actually.
These napkins are about 7″ square (18cm). Great for entertaining, everyday mealtime, or for packing in the kids’ lunch boxes. They also double as a reusable wipe for cleaning your little ones’ faces. You can also use them as mini placemats to brighten up a snack time.
Isn’t this tree fabric adorable? It’s 100% organic cotton. But my favorite might be the stripy one — the cotton linen fabric has a nice linen feel, and the yarn-dyed stripe pattern means you can see the stripe just as clearly on the back side as well. Then again I love these tulip organic cotton ones, too… Just adorable! All these cocktail napkins are now available at my shop.
I have recently launched my new product range — EpiPen cases for children and grownups. Over the years, people have asked me to make EpiPen cases, because they couldn’t find any commercial ones that are pretty. It took a while for me to come up with them, but here they are!
These are the ones for children. Aren’t the mini elephants adorable? I love this sturdy, laminated cotton from Japan that is waterproof and stain-resistant. The matt finish of the vinyl coating is gorgeous. The material feels solid and smooth in your hands.
I used ripstop nylon for the bag lining. The pouch is not machine washable, but it’s easy to wipe it clean, inside or out, with a soapy damp cloth. The pouch has a layer of padding inside to protect the EpiPens — it feels nice and cushy.
Each pouch comes with a special medical ID card. Amy from Gloriousmess!, who is an amazing designer and a medical doctor, custom designed these for me. I particularly love the “Dr. Piggy” version for children — so cute! For grownups, Amy designed one with a red cross. The cards are printed on thick, high-quality paper to keep inside the pouch with your medical devices.
The pouch comes with a D ring tab on each side, and one carabiner tab. With a carabiner, you can attach the pouch securely to a handbag or school bag, so you can easily find it in case of an emergency.
I also made an optional, adjustable strap for wearing cross-bodied — in case of school outings, for example. You can remove the strap and keep it inside the pouch when not wearing it.
Here are my little models testing the pouches with the shoulder straps.
I couldn’t have designed these pouches without the help of kind friends who tested them and gave me feedback. I don’t own any Epipens myself (except for the smaller, trainer ones I use for taking photos) or have any experience with anaphylaxis, so their feedback was crucial. So thank you, Tanya and Sam! Based on their recommendations, I made the pouches large enough for two EpiPens and a small bottle of antihistamine.
For older children and grownups who might find the elephants too childish, I love these classic stripes and polka dots.
And for the ultimate in prettiness, I made these Liberty of London pouches with their laminated cotton fabrics.
These pouches are great for lots of other uses as well. I’ve been using mine to carry blood glucose testing devices, and a set of medication tablets. It happens to be just the right size for it, and I love that I can keep it in my handbag without getting it all dirty.
These medical pouches are all handmade with love from start to finish. They are now available at my shop.
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all the support and comments on my Facebook page. There is nothing more gratifying than coming up with a new creation in the morning, sharing it on Facebook, and getting immediate feedback from my customers. Like yesterday, when I shared this photo of a mini coin purse.
I made the coin purse with Liberty of London laminated print called Mirabelle. Normally I wouldn’t use white fabric for a coin purse, because it’ll get dirty very quickly. But that’s the magic of laminated fabrics — they are super stain resistant!
The pattern is my own. I made similar coin purses a couple of years ago, and just modified that pattern. The ones I made before had separate compartments for coins and cards, and were more complicated to make.
This time, there is just one compartment for coins and folded notes. But simple is good, according to your comments. Because school children only need to carry a bit of change.
Encouraged by the positive feedback I received, I made four more of these coin purses that very afternoon.
I took their photos immediately afterwards, and by the evening, the coin purses were added to the auction album. These all feature laminated prints and nylon lining — all Liberty of London prints except the elephant one. Don’t they look so cute together?
Opening and closing a zipper can be fiddly for little ones. But with the key ring tab on one side of the zipper and my Piggledee tag on the other, it should be much easier. I attached a key ring and a swivel clip, so you can secure the coin purse to a handbag or a school bag. You can also attach it to your key chain, and that might be all you need for a quick trip to the shops.
I have five of these mini coin purses in the auction album. Please check it out if you are interested!
I’ve been a little obsessed with laminated fabric lately. Particularly those matt ones that are more subtle looking. From a distance, you won’t know that these fabrics are vinyl-coated — they look like normal cotton fabric. Even up close, it’s hard to tell sometimes. My favorite is the Liberty of London laminated fabrics.
These are the most beautiful laminated fabrics I have ever seen. In addition to the gorgeous Liberty prints to begin with, the laminated ones have great sturdiness, making it suitable for bags of all sorts. It feels amazing to touch — smooth and reassuringly solid, and it doesn’t have any icky synthetic feel. As a bonus, the material is waterproof and stain resistant.
The only drawback is that these Liberty fabrics are super pricey! This is why I had only made small things with it so far — like phone pouches with a wristlet, makeup pouches, and pencil cases.
Top left: rainy day mini wristlet pouch / top right: triangle pencil cases / bottom left: flat makeup cases / bottom right: makeup pouches with a flat bottom.
But today, I made something a little bit bigger — cross-body shoulder bags! These bags are twice as large as my pencil cases, and has a simple zipper closure at the top. It’s a nice roomy size for a small wallet, phone, keys, makeup, and a few other essentials.
Isn’t this blueberry-like print gorgeous? The strap is long enough for a small to medium-sized woman to wear cross-bodied, or hang from one shoulder.
You can remove the strap if you like, and use the bag as an organizer pouch instead.
This print called “Capel” is one of my all-time Liberty favorites. And black goes with everything.
I used waterproof nylon taffeta for the lining. Having waterproof material for the outside and inside makes these bags pretty handy for rainy days. There is also a layer of quilt wadding inside for added cushiness and softness.
Here’s another rainy day bag using laminated fabric — though not Liberty.
I love this zebra-like bag.
There is a tiny gusset at the bottom — just to give some three-dimensional shape to the bag.
These rainy bags will be available at my Facebook auction, which is going on right now. Please come over and say hello!
I’ve been having so much fun making things for the Facebook auction market. There is something about creating for a specific audience — my lovely Facebook friends and supporters — that is particularly motivating and exciting. I love coming up with products I think they’d appreciate. Like these insulated snack sleeves.
Several people in the past have suggested that I make either smaller insulated lunch bags, or insulated version of snack bags. So I made something that’s in between the two - it’s a very versatile size!
These snack sleeves are a little bigger than a typical sandwich bag, and has a flat bottom. It’s a perfect size for a tab of yoghurt and a piece of fruit, OR a smallish container of lunch or snack. I recommend using a mini-sized reusable ice pack to keep the content nice and cool.
This round container with a blue lid is from Ikea — the shallow one, not the deep one. I love these, and use them all the time for our kids’ school lunch box. The snack sleeve also fits other types of small containers. Fill it with cheese sticks, yoghurt, slices of cake, chocolate… or any other snacks that are best served cold. The ice pack and the insulation material should keep the content cool for a few hours.
I used a layer of Insul Bright inside for the insulation effect. The lining is PUL, using the non-coated side on the outside. I used PUL just because I was running out of coated nylon, but I do like the soft hand of PUL — with the non-coated side facing, it almost feels like normal cotton fabric, but with water-resistant effect. Even though the non-coated side is supposedly safer with food, as opposed to the coated side, I’d still avoid putting food directly in contact with the lining. It’s safer to use a container or a wrap around food, before storing it in the snack sleeve.
Here are some of the cute fabrics I used for children.
And for grownups, or for older children, isn’t this mushroom fabric lovely?
I hope to see you at the auction! You can visit my auction album here.
I have been wanting a new tote bag for a while. You’d think I have plenty of bags to choose from by now — but I didn’t. I have several bucket nappy bags, a backpack convertible bag, a beach tote bag… and they are all wonderful for family outings. But they are all too big for everyday use. What I needed was a bag small enough for my wallet, phone, keys, small snacks… and my beloved iPad. That’s it.
So this is the little black bag I whipped up this morning. I used a very sturdy cotton canvas fabric my mother found in Japan a couple of years ago. I love the cute-but-not-too-childish print of cats, yarn, apples, and other whimsical drawings.
I like sturdy bags, so I used black canvas for the lining, fortified with interfacing. There is a little patch pocket inside for my phone. I also installed a carabiner tab on the side for my keys. These tabs are so handy — because there is nothing more frustrating than having to fish for your keys in your bag when you are in a hurry.
The handles are heavy-duty cotton webbing in black. All this blackness means I won’t have to wash this bag for a long time! Plus black goes with everything — especially in winter. The handles are long enough for me to carry the bag from my shoulder.
The bag has a narrow flat bottom.
See, the bag is just the right size for all my needs, but there is still a little room left for extra things, just in case.
I’m very happy how the bag came out! I might make some for my shop in the future.