lap duvet

Lap duvet

Lap Duvet

I finally handed over the last Christmas gift yesterday, a simple whole cloth quilt made of a couple of yards each of soft swiss dot cotton and a linen/cotton blend. Bamboo batting is sandwiched between; quilting is simple bar tacks. It’s just right for covering the lap while knitting and watching tv.


Or, it seems, for their little Lucy to lie on.

not much to show for all my elving

I’d been planning a blog reveal of the handmade Christmas gifts, but the photos are crap. Hastily taken, unstyled, out of focus. I’m a bit bummed, actually. I knew I needed to allocate time and attention to the photography, but I just didn’t.



These are the best shots, and they are hardly blog-worthy. A little pinny for Cali (aged 2) and some garments to wear under it, or separately, depending on the weather. As for the rest, you’ll just have to believe me.

All the toddlers got clothes, and many of the women got lavender sachets. Two loved ones received handmade journals. And for The Guy and me, I made some stadium cushions, so our bums can be comfy when we go to the Bowl or Theatricum.

I really enjoyed the making; I spread it out over many weeks and didn’t stress too much about it. And, as always happens, the process fired me up for yet more sewing and crafting. I loved the bookbinding projects, and see many more in my future.

I’m thinking of taking on the Colette Pattern of the Month, even though January’s pattern, the Violet shirt, isn’t really my style, and fitting patterns to my unique body shape drives me crazy.

What about you? Did the holidays leave you creatively exhausted, or energized? What projects do you have coming up? Inspire me!

embroidered flour sack kitchen towels: tutorial

Teatowel tag

Lots of my loved ones received this Christmas gift: a set of two embroidered flour sack tea towels. I thought you might like a tutorial for this easy project.

Note: If you wish to share this tutorial, please repost one photo and link back to this original post. Do not repost the entire text and pictures. Thank you!

embroidered flour sack tea towels

Start with purchased, unadorned, flour sack kitchen towels. (I got sets of four at Target.) Wash and dry them on high settings, to gain maximum shrinkage. Unstitch the hem over the labels, and discard the labels. Iron the towel, stretching it out as you go.

embroidered flour sack tea towels

Draw a line parallel to the selvedge with a disappearing marker. I did mine 1.75″ from the edge, because it seemed a pleasing distance and that was where the previous label had been. Unstitch a little of the hem on the both sides of the towel, for an inch or so on each side of your drawn line.

Thread your needle with all six strands of embroidery thread. The length of the thread should be about 125% of the width of your towel. Tie a knot in one end. Slip your needle inside the hem, and come up through to the right side of the towel within the hem allowance.

embroidered flour sack tea towels

Taking smallish running stitches, sew evenly along your line till you get to the other side.

embroidered flour sack tea towels

Do your finishing knot within the other hem allowance. Stitch a second row just above your first, starting and finishing as above. You can use the same or a different colour thread. I didn’t draw a second guide line; I just eyeballed the distance.

embroidered flour sack tea towels

With white thread, restitch the hems over your embroidery. This will hold your knots tightly and prevent unraveling. Press your towels, fold them nicely, and tie a ribbon around the set.

Embroidered tea towels

I made two versions of the label: this one is for those with littlies in their lives. Spot the difference?

car caddies and (too) tiny pants

More handmade Christmas roundup.


Above photo by Nettie.

For toddler nephews, a pair of car caddies. Apparently they were a big hit, which of course gladdens this crafter aunty’s heart. I should have included a matchbox car with each, but thankfully they can supply their own :-)


For Corey-pie, stretchy pants. But I was delusional about babies’ growth in the first four months of life, so these are gonna be no use to him. Cute, but tiny! Ahem, time to make some bigger ones! Sorry, Corey!

blank story books: free download


The blank story books I made for Miss Six back in July were so well-received, I thought I’d whip up some more for the other smallish people in my life. This time, I created a PDF that you guys can download and use. Just print whichever you pages you fancy, double sided. I reckon eight pages (two sheets, double sided, folded) is about right for a little kid’s story, but you can bundle them up however you like. Mix and match.


My covers are cut from manila file folders, and hand stitched with dental floss. Easy peasy. I’m sure you can do something prettier or fancier. Give a handful of ’em with a pack of pencils, crayons or markers, then sit back and enjoy the stories they create.

These PDFs are for your personal use, or for giving as gifts. You do not have permission to sell any materials created from these files.

Download for 8.5″ x 11″ paper here.
Download for A4 paper here.


christmas without you


I miss my family at Christmas. The excitement of littlies, the chaos, the food, the crackers, the tree. Yesterday we opened gifts via FaceTime, and later videos were posted (so I could see how much glee the bubble wrap brought), and that was all lovely. Thank goodness for the technology that allows these connections.

Today good food and wine were shared with dear people, and pleasantness abounded, but …. I miss my family. Especially at Christmas. Love you guys so so much. Big hard hugs to you all.

toddler fedoras


Felix has loved this hat since Tui first gave it to him. He’s been wearing it daily for about a year — even to bed, sometimes — and its looking the worse for wear.

Baby fedora

So I decided to make him a new one for Christmas.

Baby fedora

And, while I was at it, I made one for Cali too.

For both, I used this pattern. The fabric came from thrifted suit pants (finest Italian wool, $1 each!) The lining is cotton voile from my stash.

The project was a bit challenging, and my top stitching is far from perfect. But the babies won’t notice that, I’m sure.

I hope Rhea will send me photos later, but for now I have some Christmas morning FaceTime screen grabs.

Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 1.31.14 PM

Felix thought the hat was fine, but that the bubble wrap was AWESOME!

Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 1.31.59 PM

Cali kept hers on for approximately 2 seconds before pulling it off.

Merry Christmas, everyone!



This year’s elving is proceeding apace, and the Australian gifts are wrapped, boxed, and customs-declared. Tomorrow I get to annoy the post office lady with parcels to seven different addresses, while seventy-five people wait impatiently behind me. Ah, the joys of Christmas.

12 days of christmas

morning has broken. day is done.

Morning has broken

Morning has broken, like the first morning.

monotone sunset

Day is done, gone the sun, from the sea, from the hills, from the sky.

Lately, my weekend routine has me seeing the break and end of day on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean. Between, I’ve been tucked away in my Topanga treehouse, sewing up a storm. I’m just about done with the overseas Christmas stuff. Hopefully all will be mailed this coming week. Then I tackle the US gifts.

I am so very content these days. I somehow wangled myself a fabulous life.