Arizona After Blog Tour

Arizona After Blog Tour Hoppe Jumpsuit in Ojos Smoke knit

Last year I decided to treat myself to a weekend away in Sydney to attend some workshops that April Rhodes was teaching.  It was a wonderful weekend, so fun and inspiring. I have always loved April’s fabric (something about the colours and the designs just speaks to me and makes me want to, well… MAKE!)  but since meeting her I couldn’t help but also love April herself -  this lady has such a huge heart that it is practically impossible not to. 

April has just released TWO (!) new fabric collections; Arizona After, (a beautiful extension of her first fabric line - Arizona), and Heritage - a collection of knits and rayons inspired by her family’s history and roots.  You don’t need to hear her talk about the meaning behind these fabrics (although you should - there are some wonderful stories behind them) to see that she has poured her heart and soul into these designs.

I have to admit that for me one of the most exciting thing about these new collections is the number of garment fabrics.  I also love how well the prints work for both adults and children's clothing.  I’m going to be begging for more of her designs in rayons and knits in future!

Arizona After Blog Tour Hoppe Jumpsuit in Ojos Smoke knit

For today though, I sewed up a Hoppe Jumpsuit by Straightgrain in the Ojos Smoke knit for Ella and it was a massive hit, both with the girl and with me.  The fabric is lovely to work with and is so soft to wear.  The Hoppe Jumpsuit is also a really satisfying pattern to sew.  It comes together so quickly.  I actually can’t stop making them (I’ve made 3 already and have more on the cards.)

I made a toile of View B (no pleat) to test the fit (a size 8 skinny for my rather-tall-just-turned-7 year old) and while the toile fits well I think that View A (with the diagonal front pleat) makes it seem just a little too long in the body.  If I were to sew another for her I might go down a size and lengthen the legs for her instead.

Arizona After Blog Tour Hoppe Jumpsuit in Ojos Smoke knit

The Hoppe Jumpsuit is just so easy to move in, and perfect for active little people.  It seemed only right to thoroughly put it through its paces while taking photographs so we headed to our new favourite place to play – a treehouse that someone has built by the creek near our house. It can be a besieged fort or a pirate ship, a secret hideout or a nest, a palace or a treehouse - and is such a great place to let little bodies and imaginations run wild.  

Arizona After Blog Tour Hoppe Jumpsuit in Ojos Smoke knit

Make sure to check back on April’s blog and Instagram all throughout July for the up-to-date info on the Blog Tour.

Next up will be the ever wonderful Mr Domestic, followed by a final Instagram loop with more amazing prizes to be won!

P.S. Don’t forget to tag all of your makes with #heritagefabrics and #arizonaafterfabrics. Happy Sewing!

Fabric was provided to me by April Rhodes but all opinions are my own.

It's Giveaway Day!

Sew mama Sew giveaway day
Sew Mama Sew giveaway day
sew mama sew giveaway day

Rooooaaar!  I'm so excited!  It's Sew Mama Sew's annual Giveaway day!  I love Giveaway day and This time I have 2 prizes up for grabs.  Winners can take their pick from any of my PDF felt mask sewing patterns.  They are perfect stocking fillers and make a wonderfully quick and easy last minute handmade birthday prezzie (I should know - pretty much all of the kids in my daughter's class got these for their birthdays this year...!)

Enter using the Rafflecopter below.  Entries close at midnight Sunday American Eastern time. Winners will be notified via email.  

Follow @willow_and_stitch on Instagram HERE:

Great! Good luck!  

If you don't win, want to peruse all my sewing patterns or simply can't wait then you can head over to my Etsy shop to take a look.

Now head back to Sew Mama Sew to enter more wonderful competitions!

Reindeer Mask Tutorial - Bonus Pattern Piece

Reindeer Mask Tutorial

Can you believe we’re halfway through November, moreover, that it’s only 5 weeks until the Silly Season starts?!  I can’t, but that’s mostly because I live in topsy turvy land these days.  I’ve been in Australia for 12 years now but I still can’t get used to Christmas and Spring occurring at the same time.  I really need those environmental clues of the Northern Hemisphere, the autumn leaves falling, the nights drawing in, the chill in the air, to get me into the christmas spirit.  I pine for snow and log fires, sledding and hot chocolate, mittens and hot water bottles.

That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a hot christmas.  It’s a lovely holiday here, full of light and the joys of early summer.  Little girls in white dresses, cherries and stone fruit, seafood and cocktails, bright sunshine and cool breezes.  We throw open all the doors and lounge around in the garden, enjoying balmy evenings under twinkling fairy lights.

Nonetheless, I do find that it requires more of a conscious effort on my part to make December feel festive, and because I am determined that my children should find it as magical as I remember the holidays from my childhood being I tend to overcompensate by going all out with the decorations, music, christmas craft activities, and, of course, handmade gifts.

One of my favourite Christmassy things to make are these little Reindeer masks. I’m heading to Swagger Child Design Market this Sunday so I have been busy stocking up on them, and today I’m offering you a free pattern piece so that you can make them too.  The cute little fawn in my Woodland Creatures Sewing Pattern can be transformed into a festive Reindeer with the addition of these antlers.  Download the pattern extension piece here and scroll down for the tutorial.  If you don’t have a copy of the Woodland Creatures PDF and would like one then you can purchase it here.

Tutorial:

1. Download the bonus pattern pieces and print out.  Make sure that you set your print settings to 100% or select ‘no scaling’.  Measure the 1” square on the page to check that it has printed correctly.

2. Cut out the pattern pieces and pin them to a double layer of felt.  Cut around each piece and then sew the two layers together, sewing 5mm (¼”) from the edge.

Reindeer Mask

TIP:  For a neater finish and an easier time sewing, draw around your pattern pieces while they are pinned to the felt.  You will need a white marker or chalk pen to do this on the dark brown felt.  DO NOT cut the felt out.

Instead sew 5mm (1/4”) inside your drawn line and then cut along the white line once you have sewn the two layers together.

Doing it this way stops the felt from shifting as you sew which can be a particular problem when sewing around curves.

Reindeer Mask Tutorial

3. Sew your fawn mask following instructions on the PDF pattern.  When you come to sew the 2 layers of the face together, sandwich each antler between the 2 face layers, positioning each approximately 1cm (½”) from the ear, and letting the base of the antler extend at least 1.5cm / ¾” into the mask.  Pin in place before sewing around the face.

Reindeer Mask

As you can see I use the same technique for sewing all of my masks i.e. I sew before cutting wherever possible - It's quicker and gives a much nicer finish!

Well, that's it.  You're done!

Happy Holidays.

Reindeer Mask

Lessons learned from mass production and selling wholesale!

Owls Masks for Seed by Willow and Stitch

Yet again I find myself wanting to start a blog post by saying ‘It’s been rather quiet around here recently’ and while that might be true of my little blog - it most certainly isn’t true of my life in general; It has been BONKERS around here recently!

Masks for Seed photoshoot by Willow and Stitch
Tails for Seed photoshoot by Willow and Stitch

September seems to have passed in a blur of felty activity.  It all started innocently enough - with an enquiry from stylist Tamara Maynes asking whether I could design and make a few masks, tails and ears for a photo shoot she was doing for Seed Kids in a few days time.  I love a challenge, particularly when it involves creating some new designs so I was happy to do it.  I was expecting that the campaign might help my business by advertising my masks on a large scale and being associated with a big brand - what I wasn’t expecting was to get a call from Seed a week later, asking whether I could make 500 masks for them to stock in stores to complement the campaign!  

 So. Many. Birds.

So. Many. Birds.

I make these dress up masks in my ‘spare’ (ha!) time so I wasn’t sure whether it would be possible to make so many in such a short time frame (I had 3-4 weeks) or even whether I wanted to commit to such a large project, but my husband persuaded me that I ought to do it; ‘I’ll help’ he said (and don’t you worry, I most certainly held him to it!)  I was expecting him to regret his offer (he generally dislikes doing anything that might be classified as ‘arts and crafts’ - weird really as he’s actually very artistic) but he seemed to rather enjoy it, and he certainly has a better appreciation for the work I do now!

 All the pandas

All the pandas

Panda Masks for Seed by Willow and Stitch

This really was a huge amount of work and while I have to say that I don’t really enjoy this type mass production there were definitely some interesting lessons that I learned while doing it:

Firstly, I need to accept offers of help more.  I don't know why but I usually turn down offers of help;  I suppose that I don’t want to impose on anyone or take advantage of their kindness so I try to do it all myself (and there may also be a tiny bit of stubbornness in there too!).  This time I was fully aware that I simply may not be able to do it all myself so I began to accept the offers. 

It made me feel enormously grateful to be surrounded by so many supportive and generous people. An activity that might, alone, have been tedious and stressful was turned into a pleasant way to spend an afternoon, particularly when you added in a cup of tea, a little cake and some happy chatting. (honestly - anything is bearable if you have tea and cake - don't you think?!)  There was also something surprisingly rewarding and soul nourishing about accepting the help; being able to admit that I needed it and finding that there were friends and family there ready and eager to offer it.  I suppose it's all related to our very human need for community and connection, but whatever the reason I was very touched so thank you so much to everyone who helped!

I also discovered lots of ways in which I can fine tune my making processes to find the most efficient way of doing things, for example I realised that sewing around the outline of the mask BEFORE I cut them out makes the whole process much quicker because I don’t have to deal with the double layers of felt shifting as I sew or cut.

I found here are a lot of hoops to jump through when you are selling to a large company, different people to talk to about different things, forms to fill in, barcodes to order and attach, accounts to set up, even using a courier service for the first time was a challenge!

Lastly, but probably most significantly, I realised that I have massively underpriced my products.  This is a bit of an uncomfortable thing to talk about, mostly because I feel a little like I'm standing here yelling 'I'm worth more than this!' but I did find it very interesting.  When I was contacted by the store they asked me what my wholesale price would be for a large quantity.  I had no idea!  I have obviously done some calculations to work out the cost of materials and my time for each mask and then added a bit of profit on top of that, although if I’m honest when I was setting the price originally I based it mostly on what I thought people would be willing to pay. As it turns out when I looked into it in more depth I realised I have been effectively selling masks at the wholesale price for the last year - oops!  

Exactly what, if anything, I'm going to do about this is going to require a little more thought but I'll come back and talk more about the whole thing once I've got it all straight in my head!

In the meantime here's a picture of a cute little monkey...

Goodnight!

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Wild Things - A New Safari Mask Sewing Pattern

Wild Things - Safari Felt Animal Mask PDF Sewing Pattern from Willow & Stitch

Are you ready for the kids to go totally wild?  Want to take a safari without ever leaving home?  Watch your backyard become the African savannah or turn the living room into a water hole with these lovely dress up masks.

This Wild Things Mask Sewing Pattern features patterns for Lion, Tiger, Giraffe, Zebra and Leopard masks.  You can even make the Leopard into a Snow Leopard for a mountain adventure. 

Wild Things - Leopard Felt Animal Mask PDF Sewing Pattern from Willow & Stitch

I'm so pleased with this pattern.  I think the designs are my favourites so far and I've put a lot of extra effort into the pattern and tutorials.  I've come up with a better (and easier) way of sewing the eye holes, and added whole sections explaining each technique used to make the masks.  There's information on how to resize them to fit dolls (or newborns), printing guides and notes on materials to use.

Wild Things - Snow Leopard Felt Animal Mask PDF Sewing Pattern from Willow & Stitch
Wild Things - Tiger Felt Animal Mask PDF Sewing Pattern from Willow & Stitch

The patterns are just as easy to follow as ever and are perfect for beginners.  They're quick to sew and make a perfect gift or stocking filler.  I think that practically all of the children Ella's class have gotten a couple of these masks for their birthday this year!  I had a particularly amusing / gratifying experience this last weekend when I took Ella to a 'Superheroes' party for one of her school friends (you can see pictures of her freezer paper stencilled Wonder Woman costume here) - I looked around the room and realised that about half of the kids were wearing masks that I had sewn and Ella had chosen to give to them for their birthday's.  It made me giggle and warmed my heart!

Wild Things - Lion and Zebra Felt Animal Mask PDF Sewing Pattern from Willow & Stitch

Anyway, back to these little wild things; we had so much fun shooting these pictures.  I can tell that these masks are going to get a lot of play time.  The leopard and snow leopard were particular favourites with my little testers. Anything that ROARs was a big hit too of course!  (Any excuse to make a lot of noise really!)

 Roooooaaaar!

Roooooaaaar!

Wild Things - Giraffe Felt Animal Mask PDF Sewing Pattern from Willow & Stitch

As with all of my other PDF Mask Sewing Patterns this one contains bonus printables of all of the masks.  You can print these at home onto card then let the kids colour, paint or decorate them however they like.  Whey they're finished you simply cut them out and thread them with elastic.  It's one of our favourite rainy day activities and is also great as a birthday party craft activity.

 Colour...

Colour...

 Cut...

Cut...

 Play!

Play!

To celebrate the pattern release, I'm offering free copies of not only this pattern but the ENTIRE collection of Willow & Stitch mask patterns to two lucky readers.  One here and one over on Instagram.  You are welcome to enter both giveaways as many times as you like.  Good luck!

Making Flower Crowns - and a Fairy Birthday Party

Handmade Flower Crowns

I've been dying to have a go at making these gorgeous flower crowns ever since I saw Siobahn Rogers' beautiful crowns on instagram.  So, when my big girl announced that she wanted a Fairy party for her 6th Birthday it seemed like a good opportunity to give them a go. 

Handmade Flower Crowns

Given that it's the middle of winter here I didn't have a massive choice of flowers at the market, but I managed to find some pretty pinks and yellows and some lovely native Australian greenery to go with them.

I didn't think that Ella's party guests' attention would stretch to making the crowns from scratch so I wanted to prepare as much of it as possible in advance.  There is a great tutorial here on Siobhan's website.  I bent the wires into shape and made loops at the ends through which they could be fastened with ribbon and I trimmed all the stems and arranged the flowers into little bunches so that the girls could choose 5 or 6 to wind onto their crowns. (This was the point at which I began to regret the whole exercise...!)  Anyway, finally, about 2 hours later I had enough bunches for all of our little fairy friends to make a themselves a crown.  

Handmade Flower Crowns
Handmade Flower Crowns

We even had a few bunches left over which I popped onto the top of the birthday cake.  I'm going to be doing this for every little (and big!) girl's birthday cake from now on.  It was quite incredible - the cake went from being very ordinary to amazingly special in about 10 seconds flat!

 Just put a flower on it.

Just put a flower on it.

 A happy little Birthday Fairy in her Flower Crown.

A happy little Birthday Fairy in her Flower Crown.

As one of the party games we had about 50 balloons which we filled with confetti and silver stars. We gave each of the children a pin and let them go nuts.  Literally.  It was complete madness.  The balloons lasted about 10 seconds, vanishing in an explosion of pops, bangs, glitter, confetti and delighted squeals.  

Confetti Filled Balloons

I had thought I might get some cute photos of children being showered in confetti.  Wrong. What I actually got was 10 seconds of insanity.  When I looked up from comforting the poor kid in the corner who turned out to be terrified of balloons popping, all that remained was a few shrivelled pieces of rubber and an almighty mess.

Confetti Filled Balloons - the aftermath
 One of our little fairy's handmade birthday presents - her very own fairy garden.

One of our little fairy's handmade birthday presents - her very own fairy garden.

I really loved this project, it made me wish I was 6 years old so that I could run around wearing flower crowns every day. We'll definitely be making these again, particularly now that I have all the supplies, perhaps we'll go for a nature walk and try making one out of wildflowers next time.

Handmade Flower Crowns

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Doll Costumes | How to scale dress up masks to fit any size doll

Doll Costume | Batman Mask by Willow & Stitch
Doll Costume | Spiderman Mask by Willow & Stitch

Aren't these just the cutest?  One of my customers gave me the idea for scaling my mask patterns to fit dolls and I think it is just brilliant!

I'm making these doll costumes as part of the children's Christmas presents, I know they're going to love involving their little buddies in their current favourite games of 'superheroes' and 'rescuing'! 

Doll Costume | Wonderwoman Headband by Willow & Stitch

To scale the masks to fit your doll is very easy.  The trickiest part is working out the factor you need to scale by.  All you need to do is measure the doll's face to the width that you want the mask to fit.  Max and Molly's faces were approximately 10cm wide.  Next measure the width of one of the mask patterns that you want to scale.  The batman mask was about 18cm wide.  

Scaling masks to create doll costumes

To find the factor that you need to scale by, simply divide the width of the doll's face by the width of the mask and multiply the answer by 100:

10 / 18 = 0.55 

0.55 x 100 = 55%

You only need to do this once for each doll that you are sewing for.  The scale will remain the same for all masks for that doll.  

Re-print your mask pattern, but when you get to the print settings screen, select 'Custom Scale' and enter the scale that you calculated above.  I am scaling to 55%:

Once your pattern pieces are printed you can sew the mask as usual according to the directions.  You will, of course, need to adjust the length of the elastic to suit the doll's head.

If you want to try this then you can use the free batman mask pattern HERE or you can purchase any of my mask pattern sets on Etsy.  There are currently Woodland Animals, Fairytale and Superhero Mask pattern sets available.  Spiderman and Wonderwoman are going to be part of the next pattern sets which I will release early next year.

I'm also going to be giving away patterns to 2 lucky readers as part of Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day so if you'd like to try your luck you can enter via the rafflecopter below.  Comment here and / or follow Willow & Stitch on Instagram or Facebook for extra chances to win!

Willow & Stitch Sewing Patterns

Thank you so much for stopping by.  I'd love for you to take a look around my site.  Check out the Patterns and Tutorials page for lots of free sewing patterns.  Don't forget to head back to Sew Mama Sew when you're finished so that you can enter lots more giveaways!

Here's hoping this festive season leaves you with a full belly and a full heart.

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Gracious Threads 'A New Look' Blog Tour | Lazy Days Lounge Pants

Gracious Threads 'A New Look' Blog Tour | Willow and Stitch
Gracious Threads - Lazy Days Lounge Pants | Willow and Stitch

It seems to be 'Blog Tour' week here at Willow & Stitch.  Today I'm joining in with the Gracious Thread's 'A New Look' blog tour.  Jess is celebrating her new look website and shop with this brilliant tour where we all get to create a 'new look' of our own using her patterns.

Since my little girl is such a fan of dresses I thought I would sew up something completely different for her and made these 'Lazy Days Lounge Pants'.  Surprisingly they were a big hit with her.  She loved having something so comfy to wear, and something that didn't restrict her movement in any way.  She immediately decided that they were going to be her yoga pants and started showing me her moves!  I had no idea that she knew any of this - turns out they do some yoga in her dance classes.  Don't you love it when they surprise you with things like that?It still always seems miraculous to me when she knows something that I haven't personally taught her,  I'm really not sure why because it happens all the time now!  Check out that 'down dog!'.....

Gracious Threads - Lazy Days Lounge Pants | Willow and Stitch
Gracious Threads - Lazy Days Lounge Pants | Willow and Stitch

My little one was measuring up between a size 5 and 6 so I went with the bigger size and they were a really good fit actually, not too big and still room to grow (way too much of that going on at the moment for my liking - I've asked her to slow down but she's hell bent on growing up as fast as possible *sob*).  We both loved that the pants have pockets although I think next time I would make them deeper to ensure that none of those oh so precious posessions get lost!  I also omitted the faux drawstring on the waistband because I couldn't quite be bothered with sewing the buttonholes for it and potentially getting into an argument with my sewing machine which I pretty much always loose.  I don't think they look any worse for the omission!

3 minutes of calming yoga and deep breathing is apparently more than sufficient for a 5 year old however because pretty soon Ella decided that actually (her favourite word) what these pants are perfect for is a crime fighting superhero.  Batman* to be precise.  I'm personally not sure that Batman would be seen dead in pink and red yoga pants but I kept my reservations to myself.  I have to admit she was pretty kick ass.

Gracious Threads - Lazy Days Lounge Pants | Willow and Stitch
Batman Mask PDF Sewing Pattern | Willow and Stitch

To celebrate this new look Gracious Threads is offering 40% off all patterns with the code 'ANEWLOOK'.

I've also got 1 Gracious Threads pattern of your choice to give away to one of my readers. Comment on this post and record your entry here to win!

 Thanks for stopping by!  Make sure you go and take a look at all the other awesome bloggers who are taking part in this blog tour. 

*The batman mask is from a selection of superhero masks that I make and sell through my Etsy shop.  It's available as a free pattern on my tutorials page if you would like to make one for yourself. There are also other superhero, animal and fairytale mask pattern sets available for sale through my Etsy shop.

Batman Mask PDF Sewing Pattern | Willow and Stitch

Bam!  And we're out......

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A Free Batman Mask Pattern for you!

Free Batman Felt Mask Pattern | Willow & Stitch

Bam! Pow! Kaboom!  There have been a lot of superheroes racing around my house recently, rescuing dolls and dinosaurs in distress and generally causing well intentioned chaos.

I've been sewing an AWFUL lot of masks in the last month or so, stocking up my Etsy shop and preparing for the Christmas markets, and silly season in general.  I'm working on getting my second set of superhero mask patterns up in the Etsy shop soon, but in the meantime I thought you might like a little freebie!

Click here to download your FREE Batman felt mask sewing pattern.

The pattern can also be printed onto cardstock, painted, coloured or decorated and cut out - perfect for entertaining the kids on a rainy day or for children's parties.  Be sure to print the pattern at actual size - do not select scaling in your print options.

It's super easy this one; I don't have any photo illustrations for you but you won't need them! This mask should fit most children from around age 2.

You will need:

21 x 30cm (9 x 12") of high quality black felt

Approximately 31cm (12") of 8mm (3/8") wide woven elastic

Black thread

1.  Print the pattern piece and cut 2 mask shapes from your black felt.  TIP:  Draw around the insides of the eyes (with a white pencil or chalk) but do not cut them out yet. 

2.  Lay the 2 pieces one on top of the other, right sides together.  Pin in place.  Use a pin to mark the placement of the elastic on each side of the mask.  

3. Sandwich the elastic between the two layers of felt, pinning it in place so that it extends approximately 1.5cm (1/2") into the mask at each side.

4. Sew right around the outside of the mask, sewing through both layers of felt, and sewing 5mm (1/4") from the edge.  When you reach the spots where the elastic enters the mask sew backwards and forwards a few times to really secure it.

5.  Sew around the eye hole markings, sewing at least 5mm (1/4") from the white lines that you have drawn and keeping the lines INSIDE the circle that you are sewing. Take care not to catch the elastic in your stitches.

6. Cut along the white lines to reveal the eye holes. Again; take care with the elastic, this time making sure you don't cut through it! Cutting the eye holes out after you have sewn around them will give you a much neater finish.

Hope you and your little superheroes enjoy this tutorial.  I always love to see your creations if you feel like sharing them!

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