Sunday, November 22, 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

27 Birthday

This years birthday is perhaps my best ever!

It started a week out, with what I like to call "birthday week". Usually this is only a ceremonial title, but this year was marked by aiming to do three things each day that built me up body and soul. I'd had a rough few weeks with sickness and stress, so I wanted to take care of my self.

The three things I aimed to do each day were:
  • Read my bible
  • Exercise (walking to Kindy, or the 30 day shred workout video)
  • Sew
These are three things that I usually want to do daily, but some how they get bumped off the priority list fairly easily and end up being a rare occurrence. 

Prioritising them in to my daily activities changed my whole week! I had less time for other things, but they gave me fresh starts and energy to get through each day with strength! Each I found were just as important as the others, and I thoroughly enjoyed the change of pace in my life.

Imagine life if I continued in this fashion...

Throughout my birthday week I also:
  • Celebrated with friends. They put on a lovely lunch for me and I was treated to gifts, flowers and cake.
  • Received breakfast in bed and a surprise present from the hubby.
  • Danced for an hour to Taylor Swift with my 4 year old who has developed some awesome new dance moves!

  • Had a backyard full of friends come over for a BBQ 
  • Celebrated with a day off from work with the rest of Canterbury for our Anniversary and Show Day!
  • Worshiped in Church

  • Visited the beach: Played in play grounds, drank coffee, ate ice-creams and built sandcastles.
  • Visited my Sister who is here from London, and also had other family come to stay.
  • Celebrated with an extra day off (4 day weekend!) with the husband and went on adventures (a post on that soon)
It was a great, fulfilling week. And now that we are back to "regular life" I have lessons to be learnt to include my body and soul into my daily priorities also. 

Thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday! It certainly was a very happy one :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Weekend with the Girls


Graeme was away for a few days with his friends celebrating a 30th birthday, and the girls and I embraced the weekend and had a lot of simple fun together.

Usually I try and skip through the day as fast as possible. I get much more excited about life's big events than the every day. In fact, I find very little joy in the everyday, this has been a real challenge for me in my parenting and raising my children. So often my eyes are above the day, dreaming about some big thing happening soon, willing away the hours. Only to realise the hours have gone and another month has passed, and I wonder where that time went.

Lately I've been trying to lower my gaze, get my head out of the clouds and see a little joy in front of me. I've been trying to see my children through their eyes, this is their childhood they are living. These ARE the big moments for them.

So anyway, at the weekend we slowed down. We went to the park and rode bikes with a friend. We had another friend come to stay for the afternoon and evening. We played with water, made daisy chains, watched movies, played in the bath, rode the bus to church, had a food court lunch, bused home and counted kowhai trees on our way (zero).

The weekend was simply: Wonderful.

I enjoyed my girls, and I think they enjoyed me being fully present in their (little) BIG moments. Now if only I could carry on this way of living everyday...

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Our Dresses made it to Cambodia! See The Photos

 Solar Power in Auckland

 Dresses For Cambodia

Earlier this year I shared with you my desire to give my friend Sarah, who is a missionary serving in Cambodia, some little dresses to take back with her so that she could give them to some little girls she meets on her travels.

My aim was for about 20 dresses. As I was sewing alone, I felt like that was quite a lot!

You all responded, and a few months later my sewing room had a mountain of dresses in it ranging in sizes from 1-8 in all the colours of the rainbow! [You can see all of the dresses here]

You all blew me away with your generosity, and so that is the reason I am writing this post. Not only is it important to share about a need and desire, it is also important to report back and share about generosity and good deeds, so the world can see what can be achieved when a few women gather together.

Together with our sewing machines combined we sent over 180 dresses to Cambodia last month!

Ladies, you inspire me to no end. Each of you who sent in a dress were so eager to give and bless. We didn't make these dresses to feed a nation, we made them to bring a smile, and for a small moment let a girl know around the world that she is loved.

180 smiles.

The dresses ended up at the Princess Project, which is an organisation run by an Australia couple called Ben and Cherie. They have been living and serving in Cambodia and raising their children there for 8 years.

They run this organisation by finding children collecting bottles and rubbish for recycling. They find their parents and in return for the parents agreeing not to send their kids out on to the street to make money/rice for the family (one massive bag of bottles equates to about a bowl of rice I have been told) , the Princess Project pays for them to go to school, runs an after school program for the children and provides enough rice for the family for the week.

They believe that prevention is key and education breaks the cycle of poverty, and just last month enrolled 90 children and youth into school!

It seems like hard, emotion, soul wrenching, joyfilled work. Ben and Cherie run their organisation through financial partnerships all around the world. If this is something you would like to contribute to, here is a web page about how you can be involved.

The photos they took of them giving out the dresses are below, along with a little story I have to share about one little girl in a purple dress...

And personally, this is the smile that made it all worth it for me::

Finally, on her return home one of my friends, Sue, was telling me that a few days after the dresses had been given out, she was in a village helping to build a chicken coop for a family when a little girl approached her in a beautiful purple dress::

The little girl didn't say a word, but got up close to Sue and poked out her tummy swaying from side to side.

Can you imagine it?? I can. My daughter does this to me ALL the time when she wants me to comment or notice something she's wearing. 

Sue immediately recognised that this must be a dress that we had made, and asked her about it.

Isn't it amazing? I was so struck by this story. All over the world, girls must be looking down, poking out their bellies and turning slightly, waiting for someone to notice something. All over the world girls are the same. My 4 year old daughter and this girl in her new purple dress are just the same.

My friend Amy spotted this photo on Facebook and was ecstatic to see the smile this girl had while wearing the purple dress she had made.

2 more things before I go:
Our friend Sarah is doing well, thanks to the money we raised she was able to pay off the cost of all of her immunisations, medical bills in Cambodia and back ground checks while she was there. She is now returning to university in Auckland to finish her almost-finished teaching degree and once she has certificate in hand plans to return to Cambodia to love on these Kiddos. She can't get them out of her heart. 

Instead of Sarah taking the dresses as planned, our Missions Team from my church happened to be visiting Cambodia last month to assist Ben and Cherie so the dresses went in their suitcases. They were very pleased to be able to give them out, and wanted to thank everyone for making them. 

Dress a Girl around the World is a brilliant organisation you should get behind if you really enjoyed being part of Dresses For Cambodia! It's like this, except they are doing it all. the. time! There is a chapter of it in New Zealand, or if you are heading to an area in need, contact them to take some dresses with you. They are always wanting to sneak dresses into peoples luggage! 

If you sent in a dress, thank you! Can you see yours in any of the photos? Tell me about it! 

I so loved organising and sewing for this project. Thank you for making it easy for me, and for being a blessing. However, looking at these photos, don't you feel so much more blessed in the giving?! I certainly do! 

Love, Sophie xx


Friday, October 23, 2015

Modern Mexican Embriodered Dress

 Daily Deals by 1-Day

If you've been following me on Instagram, you'll know that this dress has been months in the works! 

It started with me discovering the bright flowers in Mexican embroidery and falling head over heels in love. If I could cover myself in pretty colourful flowers every day, I would. 

Although I love the beautiful embroidery, I'm not such a fan of the traditional peasant dress that the stitching is usually done on. I feel much more comfortable in clothing that fits my curves and accentuates all the good bits. 

And so formed this idea of doing my own embroidery on a dress. First I had to learn to embroider! I practiced satin stitch on a scrap of fabric I later turned into a pouch

And as it turned out, I was fairly good at it. 

I then practiced making this dress pattern for myself (I had previously used this pattern to make 3 bridesmaids dresses earlier this year, but hadn't fitted one to my own body.)

It turned out the pattern needed a LOT of adjusting for my body. 
These adjustments included::
  • Taking in the back neck line so it didn't gape (I used this gaping fix tutorial and it worked a treat) This is a problem I have never had before, and may be related to this pattern.
  • Lifting the waist line up by 3cm (it made all the difference)
  • Sway back adjustment to avoid puckering in the small of my back.
Now that I have perfected this pattern I think I'll need to make another version at some point. If I had known that the pattern would require such restructuring I would have ditched it and chosen a new one, but once you get started on something it's hard to stop! 

Once I was happy with the pattern, I started to embroider onto my fabric that was marked out in pencil. This took weeks sitting in front of the TV each night stitching away, trying to match up my flowers and neatness on both sides. 

As I was stitching onto a large piece of fabric it was hard to tell how the embroidery would look when it was finished, in hindsight I wish I had brought it downwards a little, and also turned it into more of a V shape with the bottom of the V lining up with my sternum. However, I couldn't have known that at the time.

The dress bodice is fully lined and hand stitched closed, and includes an invisible zipper down the back.

I am super crazy happy and proud of this dress. It fits me like a glove, I love the happy colour, and I am very proud of my stitching.

And also, pockets! Who doesn't love pockets?
Thank you so much for encouraging me in my stitching and dress making, my friends will be very happy this project is finished as they've been hearing updates about it for months! And now they will get to see me in it all summer long!

Blue fabric: 100% cotton
Embroidery: Hand stitched and designed by me using DMC thread
Dress Pattern: New Look 6223

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sewing With Kids - A How To

Cheap Flights by House Of Travel

Yesterday while I was sewing a dress for myself, Milla, in 4 year old fashion, asked what age she would be allowed to sew. 

She took me by surprise, and I suggested that she could learn any time. 

And so, capturing the moment, today we sewed up some fabric that I had purchased for her, with the idea of making her and Katie a matching skirt and dress.

My 4 year old is a concentrator and a rule follower, so I knew that she would ace this. My aim wasn't for her to sew the whole skirt herself, but to introduce her to the machine, how it works, and for her to feel respect, and also a healthy fear, towards the needles, pins, scissors etc.

Here are some easy tips on sewing with Little People for the first time::

Sewing with Little People:
  • Keep it simple! A project that can be completed in an hour will bring instant satisfaction, and something they can wear or play with is an added bonus. 
    • Think easy: Skirts, shorts, tote bags, peasant dress, pillow cases, head bands, PJ pants. Are you feeling inspired yet?
  • Have everything you need prepared before you begin, I had my measuring and pattern piece already cut out and ready to go, along with my sewing machine all set up before I even mentioned sewing.
  • If your person is really little, like mine (only 4 years old!) set them up at a smaller table so they can have the joy of pressing the presser foot with their feet!
  • Explain different parts of the machine to them, let them have a go at lifting up the presser foot, doing the back stitch button and the foot pedal. Try them out on a large piece of spare fabric first. 
  • Breathe and encourage. You may suddenly realise just what you have gotten into! 
  • If your Little Person is older and you are leaving all the sewing to them, use little pegs on the edge of the fabric in lieu of pins.
  • Change it up at each step. For one part I asked my daughter to be the presser foot controller, another time she was in charge of back stitching, then she had a go at the foot pedal, another time she helped me feed the fabric through, and then she was in charge of taking out all the pins. 
  • You'll know based on your own child how to keep them interested, safe and learning. 

We made a circle skirt for our Intro to Sewing 101. Milla had a go at all parts of it, and she tells me her favourite was pushing it down with her foot. 

I clued myself up on the Dana Made It Circle Skirt Tutorial so that when it came time to sew, I knew exactly what I was doing. 

The maths (pi and radius, yikes!) checks out, and fits perfectly! 

Instead of using the wide exposed elastic band like in the tutorial, I made a little casing with some extra fabric and the same waist measurements, and used 3/4" elastic inside it. 

To finish it off we used pre-made bias binding along the edge, which I let Milla choose the colour of. She was thrilled to have some choice and control in a process which is completely new to her. 

As binding is quite tricky for little fingers, I pinned it all in place and sewed very slowly around. I noticed half way through that Milla also had her foot on the foot pedal, ever so gently, just feeling for how I was pushing it down. During the binding step, Millas job was to pull each pin out before I sewed over it. 

She was so careful, and was a real delight to work with! 

We will definitely be sewing together again soon. 

Her twirly skirt is SO whirly! She loves it! 

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog, your encouragement spurs me on! x


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Cinderella Dress DIY

When I saw the new Cinderella Movie from 2015 I was over come with a need to sew a beautiful princess dress. Aside from a wonderful story line about "have courage and be kind", the costumes in the movie were absolutely stunning!!

With my little girls 4th birthday approaching, I showed her 4 dress options on my phone and said that I could make one of them for her (1950's cinderella (which is her favourite), Elsa, New 2015 Cinderella and a pretty purple princess dress). She choose this blue number and so I went out and bought metres and metres of blue satin and tulle. 

In fact there is about 10 metres of fabric to her dress!

I drafted the dress all by myself, using a dress that she already fitted as a guide for the bodice size. I included bodice lining, princess seams down each size, a triangular dip at the front and an invisible zipper at the back. 

And this poofy thing that wraps around the shoulders and tucks into the zipper seam, which is tacked on at the shoulders to keep it in place. 

And the butterflies. Of course. They required their own shopping trip as I had forgotten all about them. When my daughter saw it half complete she enquired as to where I was going to put the butterflies, so we popped out then and there to get some! 

The skirt part has 4 layers to it; Satin, white tulle and 2 soft drapey tulle layers.

While I was making the dress the girls Nana looked after them for the afternoon so I could get some serious sewing time in. When it was completed, Nana arrived to gift these "glass slippers", crown and jewellery. Camilla and I were delighted, it was such a thoughtful gift :)

I am very happy with this dress, and so is our Little Princess.

We took her and her cousin to Disney on Ice for the first time that week and she was allowed to wear her Cinderella Dress, and then it was put away for her birthday later that month. Here she is at both events:

And now she wears it any chance she gets! 

It fills me with so much joy to see Milla spinning around without a care in the world, we really are so blessed! x

Ps, I found this beautiful free Cinderella printable that we framed and put above Millas bed for her birthday.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Tribal Print Knit Dress

When I was recovering from the flu this winter, my walking foot arrived in the post so I decided to tackle this super stretchy spandex-ey knit that was waiting for it. 

Don't even get me started about that Flu by the way. It was one of the darkest weeks of my life so far. I still feel anxious and shakey just thinking about it. 

So anyways, I put my sewing machine in the sunshine, put the kid to bed and sewed up this dress, which is the second time I have made this pattern. Happy!

That walking foot was magical! I first purchased one from Spotlight for $60, but returned it when it didn't fit on my low shank sewing machine. Then I bought one for $9 on aliexpress, and its perfectly fine, so, bargain! Money well spent.

The great thing about a walking foot is that it "walks" over your fabric, so if you're sewing slippery fabric like this then it jumps over it rather that squishes it out of shape between your foot and feed dogs. Ya get me?  Great $9 investment anyway.

So I love this patterned fabric, I love the cling of it, it makes me feel smaller than I usually feel in clothing, and its bright and fun (pinks, emeralds, royal blues, reds, yellows, oranges!) ! I sense more spandex being in my future.

And like I mentioned in my post about the first time I made this pattern, I lifted the waist line up by 3cm which made a huge difference to how the dress sits on my body.

And my pattern matching is preeeeetty close, check out that underarm:

This is my second time making this pattern, the first was this green knit dress (which I also love!) and I highly recommend the pattern, and sewing knits for anyone game enough! How great is it to be able to make your own CLOTHES!? Incredible! I love the process of turning a pile of fabric into something, it's such a thrill for me to say "ta-da!" at the end of it!

I'm still getting the hang of my new camera remote, so for now I have photos with heads and feet chopped off, eek! I'm hoping this will allow me to take more fun and silly photos of myself, and not rely on my 4 year old so much. 

Fabric: Tribal print spandex knit
Green Knit version here

Thanks for stopping by to read! If you'd like to see more of my sewing you can click here.

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