Happy Hallo-inbet-Ween

The 31st of October for our family – and the many other families in our town house complex – brings with it much hoopla and the usual surge of underworld inspiration. Despite the somewhat hectic schedule of after school and family activities, this years gawesome clambake was no exception to the enthusiastic rule: pumpkins, ghosts and zombie scarecrows being the pick of the haunted harvest crop!

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Far from it’s end of harvest time roots, Halloween celebrations are snubbed and dubbed by many Aussies as yet another Northern Hemisphere tradition spreading its haunting tendrils into our sunburnt turf. Furthermore, for the environmentally conscious citizens seeking to curb habits of over consumption, the spooky paraphernalia and individually poly-wrapped candy can seem like an unnecessary use of non-biodegradable resources. For Scott and me, seeking to relive our nostalgic North American and U.K. past whilst still being true to our families commitment to living a low-plastic-and-waste lifestyle, finding the happy Hallo-inbet-Ween can feel a bit like recreating Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein’s monster.

Stitching together the best parts of the grisly frivolities, our 2019 trick or treat costumes and house adornments saw a murder of crow like children gather at our gates for a lower-environmental impact evening of horrifying fun. For those willing to get in on our terrifying secrets to having it all, say hello to the mysteries of the Hallo-inbet-Ween:

Go grave digging: there is nothing more settling to the anti-thow-away mind than being able to retrieve from the tip-shop’s textiles-bin coffin, some handy sheets and clothing for some quick sew costumes. As for that packaging that encased our new worm farm, well how bout some good ol’ fashioned cardboard box, fency decorations.

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Disect: thanks to K2’s ravenous appetite for chewing through the knees of winter jeans, my sewing room cupboard was replete with truncated denim bottoms (the top halves now hip-cat summer shorts): cut into squares as patches for the scarecrows outfit.

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Stitch: one queen sized flat sheet can go a long way. Folded in half length ways and then draped over K1’s head, I cut and stitched my way to ghost costume Victor-Frankenstien-ory. Finished off using a curvy edge – the off-cuts of which were fashioned into a cover for K1’s brain bucket and a head for the scarecrow – K1 was set to petrify the neighbours into candy giving submission.

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Stuff: well that miniature sized scarecrow – destined for a long working life at our newly acquired, community garden allotment – ain’t gonna fill itself. Doubling as a fun activity for a rare at-home-day-Thursday morning, K2 and I set about sawing, pinning and stuffing with straw those rescued, baby-sized clothes to create our very own charming, carbon loaded scarecrow.

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Enliven: bringing the Halloween celebrations to life is always a little easier with that wonderful ingredient called sucrose. As much as I would love to be that parent who is brave enough to offer dried fruit or jackolantern mandarins (an idea I seriously toyed with), K1 made it quite clear that I was already pushing the “not normal” envelope to it’s sustainability limits and so I went with the bulk buy party pack lollies packed into a paper bag option instead. Throw in a strawbale (and crunchy garden clippings) tunnel, some up-north pumpkins and those fence decorations from upcycled cardboard and skellybob’s your uncle!

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After maniacally battering and entering into over 20 houses in our town house complex, K1 and K2 returned home with a booty of…yep…more plastic wrapped candy than one could poke an electrifying stick at. Given our families strict rule of one sweet per day…it may be an eternity before we see the end of that burgeoning lolly jar!

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Happy Hallo-inbet-Ween!

Dressed to Arrest

“You have the right to remain silent…” – excerpt from the Miranda Rights warning.

Farm safety. Not a topic that many who knew me in a previous, outlawdish cowgirl life would feel I was qualified to pontificate about. However after four months in solitary, maternity-leave confinement, I was craving a chance to break the silence and perform an out-of-subject-teaching-area classroom hijack.

Whether it was the wild, what-not-to-do-on-a-farm tales or the over accentuated Aussie accent, my series of Farmwise Forum lessons stole the children’s attention just long enough to see out the twenty minute sessions of die-dactic tutelage and realise an invaluable booty: a pair of “un-local” kindred spirits.

Like us, Leanne and Jack – a Mountie (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) family and the organisers of the forum – were used to having to squash life into a couple of suitcases and re-acclimatise to the idiosyncrasies of new and sometimes hard-to-crack-into codes of community rule. Upon learning of our temporary transition into a close-knit rural Canadian town, our courageous new cronies took us under their experienced outsider wings. For the next eighteen months, I, Scott and baby K1 would regularly be treated to guided, sight-seeing tours of some nearby – within 3 hours drive! – natural treasures: the desert coulee’s of Writing on Stone National Park and the township of Waterton (based at the foot of the Rocky Mountains)…to name just a few.

As with most pious, agrarian Albertan communities, Thanksgiving is a big deal. Drawing the short straw for the public holiday shift, Jack landed border patrol duties for almost the entirety of the harvest celebration. As if having a sixth sense for the mouthwatering aromas of a perfectly cooked, prized Hutterite turkey, Jack walked through the front door. After unbuckling his mid-calf length black leather boots, he flopped in enervated fashion, into his seat placed at the head of the dining room table. After a restorative non-alcoholic glass of on-duty bubbly, he then regaled us with tales about his day of munitions takings. In the interests of hustling to the chase, I thing it was fair to say that the sleepy border town police station’s stronghold had realised a sizable investment of purloined, semi-automatic weapons seized from cowboys hoping to take advantage of a reduced, vacation day police force.

Fare-welling our now familial friends was always going to bear a heavy emotional load. So as to soften the parting blow, when our Canadian venture came to it’s post-doctoral-contract end, Jack presented Scott with a collectible gift: his felted woolen Forces jacket…from a previous life as an intrepid fighter pilot. For almost eight years of subzero, winter morning cycling commutes to work, Scott has donned the formidable blue blazer and successfully kept out the icy temperatures as well as seen off some rather aggressive, bike-hating bullying tactics by many a curmudgeon car driver.

Inspired by Dad’s Canadian habiliments – and an overindulgence in criminally themed Lego blocks and books – a recent fancy dress party saw me raiding my scrap materials bin for a selection of old clothes and used fabrics that would see K1 and K2 dressed to arrest…or be arrested.

For those keen on seizing the prize for the best of the fancy dressed, my whistle-blowing secrets for environmentally conscious Cops and Robber Costumes:

Resources:

2 x pair of jeans (thank goodness for Jean Therapy!)

1 x long sleeve collared cotton shirt

1 x black T-shirt

1 x old, black (or another dark colour) business shirt (adult sized)

1 x baseball cap

1 x flourescent vest

2 x belts

elastic

yellow, nonstretch fabric

old, white singlet

blue permanent marker or paint pen

newspaper

white paper

Handcuffs, baton, duffle bag and mask:

Almost all of this part of the costume comes from a single business shirt.

Handcuffs:

Cut the cuffs off the business shirt. Cut both the length of buttons (starting from the collar) and the length of button holes. Starting from the top most side of the first button, cut into button strips of approximately equal lengths ensuring that you snip just in front of the proceeding button. Repeat for the button holes.

Join one button hole strip and one button strip by zig-zag stitching together the two strips at the points farthest from the button/button hole. Repeat for the remaining strips. Just like Christmas ring bunting, join together each button hole and matching button to make a length of 6 – 8 rings. Attach to the cuffs using button-less strip.

Baton:

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Roll up several sheets of newspaper to make a paper baton and secure with a rubber band. Cut one of the business shirt sleeves down the main seam and lay out flat. Place the baton on top. Leave 1.5cm of fabric at each end of the baton to stitch. Cut a rectangle of fabric that will be large enough to encase the baton (including a 3 cm seam allowance on the long edge). Stitch (right sides together), using a 1.5 cm seam allowance, around the outside of the rectangle, leaving open one short end. Turn to the right side. Thread the newspaper baton into the fabric sleeve. Turn over the top one centimeter of fabric at the open end. Press and stitch closed.

Duffle bag: on a white piece of paper, draw a large (block lettered dollar sign). Pin this onto the yellow fabric. Cut around the outside. On one of the side panels of the business shirt (front), trace around a side plate (of 18 – 20 cm). This will form the base of the duffel bag. Calculate the circumference of the plate and then add 3 cm for a seam allowance. For the body section of the duffle bag, create a paper template using the previously measured circumference (plus seam allowance) as the width. Choose a height length that will allow you to use almost all the back of the business shirt. Pin the template to the back of the shirt. Cut out.

Pin the dollar sign to the middle front of the main body piece. Slowly stitch around the outside of the applique. Pin together the body section of the duffle bag (right sides facing) at the raw edges of the longest sides (height). Using a marker pen, place a mark at the raw edge 6 cm and 8 cm from the top. This will form the casing of the finished product. Using a 1.5 cm seam allowance, stitch down the side of the fabric until you reach the first marked point. Leave the two centimeter gap un-stitched. Stitch the remaining length. Press the seam open. Fold two centimeters of the top edge over to the wrong side. Press. Fold over another four centimeters ensuring that the folded edge does not cover the hole. Stitch together near the base of the folded fabric to form the casing.

To attach the base (don’t mind my tracing error), pin the base and the body together. Right sides facing. Stitch using a 1.5cm seam allowance. Turn the bag in the correct way. Cut a few pieces of string or a cord and thread through the casing by attaching a safety pin to the end.

Mask:

Measure the circumference of your child’s head. Get creative and sketch a mask template (without holes) onto a white piece of paper equivalent to the circumference of your child’s head. Ensure the thickness of the mask at the back of the head is large enough to encase the elastic. Cut out and pin onto the other sleeve of the business shirt. Cut out two masks. Pin the elastic between the two mask pieces at the back. Using a close, zig-zag stitch, go around the outside of the mask. Hold the mask up to your child’s face to approximate the eye holes. Draw, cut out and stitch around the inside of the holes using, again, a close zig-zag stitch.

Police Shirt and Cap, Prisoner Shirt:

Police shirt: once again, get your creative, police badge drawing skills on and create a star shaped template out of white paper. Pin onto the same yellow fabric used to make the dollar sign. Cut out. Place onto the cotton, collared shirt at the breast pocket and stitch around the outside.

Cap: draw a rectangle (wide enough to sit on the front of the cap) onto a white piece of paper. Pin onto the yellow fabric. Cut out. Write the police departments name on the front in paint pen. Pin onto the hat at the center-front. Stitch around the outside.

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Prisoner Shirt: draw (onto a white piece of paper) and cut out a rectangle large enough to sit on the front of the black prisoner shirt. This is the prisoner identification code. Pin this to an old singlet. Cut out. Write the police department at the top using paint pen and then the prisoner identification code below. Pin this to middle-front of the black shirt. Stitch.

Your once darling children are now dressed and ready to steal…or arrest the Fancy Dress show!

In Animate Rescue

Fatso will always go down in diary-life history as being my favourite cow in our heard.

During the afternoon milking hours, my younger brothers (Tommy and Jimmy) and I would often be found lurking around the dairy. When we weren’t scooping milk from the poddy vat – kept as a back up during high production times for the 10,000 L milk-holding-behemoth and for storing colostrum during calving periods – then you could bet your bottom, parlour-duty dollar we could be found scaling the fences encircling the awaiting 400 head of cattle in an attempt to endear ourselves to the mongrel-breed giants. While most turned away in brazen disinterest or afternoon-heat lassitude, Fatso would always humour our nurtural senses with a winsome nudge of the neck or head into our outreached hands. Fatso was also highly prized by my older, more productivity minded brother Charlie. For despite her age (a sturdy 8 years), Fatso was one of our top producers, was always “in-calf” and had a well formed, tit-cup-enduring udder.

Two days after giving birth to her 5th baby, Fatso developed an unrelenting tremor in her legs. Having been witness to this symptom in calving periods past, Charlie and Dad astutely shifted her to a more comfortable and therapeutic location. While mum disagreed with her apprized native garden being used as a palliative care ward, my more optimistic brothers and I reveled in the opportunity to nurse our Milk Fever (Hypocalcemia) stricken, beloved cow back to good health.

In the first 12 hours, Jimmy, Tommy and I took it in turns to deliver her plenty of calcium rich clover, read her our favourite picture book stories and nestle ourselves into her rapidly collapsing frame in the hope that our love and Dad’s regular, medicinal injections would breathe new life into the highly venerated old Murray Grey-Fresian girl. When we awoke the following day, Fatso had collapsed onto her side. In an attempt to provide relief from the advanced stages of her metabolically-commandeered fate, we hand milked her burgeoning udder.

Jimmy, Tommy and I didn’t wait to see the truck arrive. Forlorn and aggreived, we spent our afternoon bunkered down in the calving shed. When we could no longer stand the wrenching sound of winding chains undignifyingly pulling Fatso into the haulage cart, we busied ourselves at the feeding troughs whence the loud sloshing sounds of colostrum being pressure-hosed into teeted milk-troughs helped ward off the accosting and vivid imagery that would remain with us for days to come.

On a particularly grey day last week, following an uncharacteristically large dump of rain, my morning school cycling troop spied a rather curious addition to the road side vegetation. Having developed a habit of sequestering many a verge-side dumpings into the family home, K1 and K2 felt obliged to investigate. Upon discovering that the item was not made of wood or metal, I issued the standard firm and immediate “No way…that’s just gross and totally unhygienic” repost made to all stuffie (and other fabric related item) rescue requests.

Maybe it was the pleading eyes of my children…or the cute floppy ears… or the winning smile…

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…or maybe it was the fact that for the next two days of seemingly disinterested cycle passings, I couldn’t delete from my mind the fact that Elliot von Snorter, our newest addition to the family furniture collection, had fur almost identical in colour to that of my greatly adored Fatso.

So…for anyone else previously turned grey by the idea of having second-hand stuffies in your home, I can safely say that Rescuing a Stuffie can be done:

Before you even think about bringing potential biowaste into your house, check for condition. If the fabric item has mould spores, tears or any significant areas or fraying, then sadly, you might need to consider providing the once-lovied a respectful burial into your nearest landfill bin instead. Otherwise, once you’ve approved the adoption papers, the revival process can begin.

First, give the fur a once over with a standard comb to remove any burs. Using a quick-unpick tool, unpick enough of the seam to enable you to remove all the stuffing with ease. Place the stuffing into a pillow case with a zip or one tied very tightly in a double knot and throw it into the machine with your next load of washing. Leave to air dry on your hills hoist (or other). Meanwhile, use a stain-removal bar of soap to clean any marks off the stuffie’s hide and leave to soak overnight in a tub of warm water.

Place the stuffie hide into a pillow case and repeat the method used for the stuffing.  Refill your new, now lovie, with the stuffing. When ready to stitch, bring together the two raw edges of fabric – ensuring that you fold each edge inwards slightly to create a neat seam – and pin together. Close the seam using a slip stitch. Give your lovie a once over with the comb or brush to liven up the fur…

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and Elliot von Snorter lives happily ever after as a treasured addition to one of our many reading corners. The End.

Jean Therapy

After nearly 10 years of experimental research, I’ve made the holey grail of discoveries: slowing the rate of those rapidly aging jeans!

My embryonic secret was out the day I contacted Leslie. In addition to being a multi-talented laboratory technician, she was also known for her creative moonlighting habits in the sewing department. Three days and two retrofitted pairs of black, work slacks later and I was set to see out my last eight weeks of deception in comfort. As it turned out, I needn’t have bothered. My shrewd colleagues were quick to note my sudden passion for lurching my students into the age of independent learning as the rapidly developing, in-vivo K1 saw fit to see me chained to the school house lavatory.

Raising a family on a single post doc salary in a foreign country has it’s psychological blessings. Rotting food is a meal half full and used-by-dates equal guidelines only. Heating in -30oC temperatures gains luxury status. And ripped clothes and rags mature into fabric dividends. Not wanting to let an out-of-work, pre-baby 6 months go to landfill, I quickly put my lime-green, retro Brother to stitching work, whipping up nappies, rompers, sleep suits and other such baby DNA (Definitely Non-negotiable Attire).

By age two, K1 had begun to express characteristics of his mothers phenotype: a predisposition to premature, tear-lomeric degradation of jeanetic material. Invoking the creative powers of Leslie times past, I began to tinker with excising junk cloth and splicing this elemental textile with other durable equivalents.

The results…

Well depending on how I choose to translate the repaired jeanotype, I either go punk- rocker style (above left) and patch behind the hole or over the top for the confident, D.I.Y. suave finish (above right).

Of course, by the end of the winter season, my very active little mutants have outrun the sewing room’s rate of repair such that only one course of action remains to keep the jean-dream alive: amputation.

OK…so it might not be a Nobel Prize winning revelation or worthy of a spread in hard Times magazine…but atleast my kids are now decked out for a Hot-Pants summer of poolside commutes or broiling sessions in the mud pie kitchen.

The details for Patching those Britches and Making Denim (and other) Hot Pants has been spliced below:

Patching those Britches

  1. Using sewers measuring tape, measure the length of fabric patch that you will need to cover the hole (I always add an extra inch or so above and below and half an inch either side).

  2. Using scrap paper, make a patch template equal to the width and length measured. Truncate the corners by rounding them out for a smoother finish.
  1. Using a similar (or contrasting) colour fabric of durable strength (I always use denim, corduroy or any other type of heavy cotton), cut out two patches for each leg of the pants (a double thickness patch seems to see the pants through to the end of the season).
  1. Using a quick unpick tool, unpick one side of the pants starting from atleast one inch above where you wish the patch to sit and end atleast one inch below (I always go for the side with the least stitching). Ensure you remove all the thread scraps lest they get stuck in the machine when sewing.

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  1. Pin the patches over the hole (or underneath if you prefer) ensuring that you do not accidentally pin through to the back of the jeans. Using a basting stitch (the largest stitch width) sew (about 1 inch from the edge of the patch) the patch in place, removing the pins as you go.

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  1. Using zig-zag (or decorative stitch if you prefer) stitch, slowly sew (on a wide width and low stitch length setting) around the edge of the patch ensuring that you do not catch the back of the jeans as you sew. Repeat for the second patch. If choosing to go underneath the hole (for the punk rocker look) then also sew around the hole so that the fabric sits tighter onto the patch (and is less likely to get snagged on obstacles during play).
  2. Unpick the basting stitch. Sew up the side seam and zig-zag stitch the raw edges to finish.

    Whack them back on your little mutant for their next bout of textile testing play!

Making Denim (and other) Hot Pants

  1. Place the jeans onto your child and mark on the outside of a leg seam (using a washable sewing pen), where your child wishes for the shorts to finish. Add an extra 3 cm to this length. Repeat with the opposite leg. Sever the jeans ensuring that your cutting line is approximately parallel with the seam at the ankle.

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  1. Turn the (now) shorts inside out. Turn over 1 cm of the raw edge. Press. Turn over another 1 cm. Press and pin in place. Repeat for the opposite leg.

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  1. Sewing as close as possible to the outside seam, sew around the leg hole ensuring that you stretch the fabric as you go so as to avoid the seam being too tight around the leg. Sew a second seam ¼ inch from the first. Repeat with the opposite leg.

    Eureka! Some Hot-pants for those sweltering summer days.

Trick or V-eat?

The proof is in the pumpkin and eggplant pudding (watch this space…). My kids really are what they eat…atleast for this years Halloween school disco and Neighborhood door-knock.

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Our haunt at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, was a North American dream home straight out of The Shining: the perfect setting for Scott and my Halloweenception. Built in the days when a wombversational “14” referred to a woman’s child spawn (rather than the number of seconds to hold a pelvic floor contraction), the four stories had since been subdivided. We landed the top two levels. Transfixed by the crazed excitement of big-batching home made treats and pumpkin carving, the practicalities of racing up and down four flights of stairs to the swarming corpses of Trick-or-Treaters was somewhat overlooked. By the thirteenth trek, karma had caught up with me. My eight month pregnant human form had begun to resemble something out of an Alien film with the fetal K1 inwardly signalling a thumping retreat. Feigning disappointment, Scott blew out the jack o’lanterns, politely turned away the remaining bogeymen from our dilapidated door step and hoarded the surplus treats into our kitchen cupboard (well…mostly).

Nearly 10 years on and, just like the cult film, we have rebooted our enthusiasm for the eerie celebration and gone all out…V-eat (Vegetable-Eat) style. Paying tribute to both our R.I.P Canandian experience and a rather tall, 52 Story Treehouse, K1 and K2 have caused a stir-fry among their fellow class sprouts with their upcycled, recylced vegetable land costumes.

Eggplant and Pumpkin Costume

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Resources:

  • Balloons
  • Newspaper, cut into 1 inch strips
  • Paper mache’ glue: made by mixing 1 cup flour with 1 cup water and 1 tsp salt (add more water to achieve a more runny consistency)
  • Toilet rolls
  • Poster paint (red, yellow, blue, white and black)
  • Paint brushes, pencil and marker pens
  • Old green shirts
  • Old green fabric (for the leaves and stem)
  • Old jeans
  • Vegetable netting bags
  • Metal snaps

Making the paper-mache’ masks:

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  1. Blow up the balloon to maximum size. It must be significantly larger than your child’s head.
  2. Using your hands (yep…it’s a little messy) place the glue over the balloon and, working with your child, place the strips of newspaper over the balloon in a cross-hatching type pattern.20181021_165706
  3. Tightly roll or shape the toilet roll into your desired configuration (depending on the vegetable). After you have completed one layer of paper mache’ covering, place the toilet roll on top and use the paper mache’ strips (with plenty of glue) to stick the roll onto the top of the balloon.
  4. Continue covering the balloon with another layer of paper mache’ strips until thick (it should feel firm when you press a finger against the balloon). Leave to dry for 24 hours on top of a ramekin or cup. Repeat again the next day to ensuring a thick consistency over the entire balloon. Leave to dry for another 24 hours.20181024_175706
  5. For the base colour (purple and green for eggplant and orange and green for pumpkin). Mix the poster paint colours together to obtain the desired pigment. Paint the paper-mache’ balloons. A second coat may be required. Leave to dry.
  6. To make the head hole, measure the circumference of your child’s head using a piece of string. Join the string to make a circle. Place this at the lower end of the back of the vegetable mask (not at the very bottom) and use as a guide to trace a circular shape. Using a stanley knife, begin by cutting out the traced circle. You may need to make the hole a little larger.
  7. To make the face, place the mask on your child’s head to work out the approximate position of the eyes (this is not the easiest of tasks to achieve). Using a pencil, draw two small circles (about the size of a beer bottle cap). Take the mask off. Using the two circles to center the position of the face, let your face drawing imagination run to seed (or wild).20181025_164837
  8. Use white and black to paint the face onto the mask.

Neck netting (lace), leaves and bottoms:

  1. For the neck netting: use a piece of string to measure the circumference of your child’s neck (loosely). Add an extra 4 cm to allow for a hem. Measure. Cut a strip of old green fabric (I used an old sheet) 5 cm wide and the length of the string. Fold over and press 2 cm at each end of the fabric strip and fold and press under 1 cm on each length. Fold the strip in half width ways. Press. You should now have a strip of fabric that looks a little like bias binding (that is a length equivalent to the the circumference of your child’s neck). Stack two vegetable netting bags on top of each other. Stretch the netting to the length of the fabric strip. Using a wide stitch, sew the netting onto one half of the length of fabric. Fold over the other half of the length of fabric. Sew close to the seam. Attach metal snaps at the ends.20181024_205433
  2. For the leaves: using a permanent marker, draw onto a piece of fabric (I used one of K2’s old nappies and an old sheet) a stem for your plant and leaves. You can also add on features such as veins too. Cut out the leaves. Pin leaves and stem onto an old green shirt (ours were hand-me-ons from a neighbour). Stitch onto the shirt using a wide stitch.20181026_161811
  3. Bottoms: take your child’s best well-worn jeans from last season and draw a zig-zag pattern at the knee. Cut. At the end of the event, you can trim off the jagged ends, sew a hem and have a nice pair of denim shorts for the summer.

Put it all together and what have you got…

A bumper harvest of vegie-weeners: Trick or V-eat!

ToteAlly Wine Bags

Being vicariously married into a wine growing family has meant that over the years Scott and I have had to upskill our taste buds (ok…so maybe that bit wasn’t so hard) and expand our viticultural lexicon so as to avoid flushing rose’ at our bubbly Christmas gatherings.

These bags – made from upcycled nappies, jeans and jammies – make a great ally to any guy or gal keen on raising their spirits at the next blithesome gathering.

ToteAlly Wine Bags

  1. On a blank piece of paper, measure and cut out: 1 rectangle (12 cm x 37 cm) and one square (12 cm x 12 cm). These will form the template for the tote bags.
  2. Select some complementary coloured, durable fabric (I used denim, flannelette and terry towel). Cut out 4 x rectangle lengths and 1 x square of fabric. Also cut two straps (2 cm x 38 cm – or shorter if you prefer) from some off cuts (I used the seam of jeans and the selvedge of a terry towel nappy).20180828_164413.jpg
  3. Start by sewing together the rectangle strips using a 1.5cm seam allowance. Right sides facing. Trim seam allowances. Overlock seams using a zig-zag stitch.20180828_164528.jpg
  4. Baste stitch on the square base (this is the tricky bit) using a 1 cm seam allowance. Right sides facing. Stitch using a 1.5 cm seam allowance. Trim seam allowances, truncate corners and overlock using a zig-zag stitch.
  5. Fold over 2 cm of fabric at the top to the wrong side of the tote bag. Press. Fold over another 2 cm. Press. Stitch.
  6. Pin the straps (a suitable distance apart) to the hem (made in the previous step) of the wrong side of the fabric. Ensure the base of the strap sits evenly with the base of the hem. Stitch, in a rectangular fashion, around the inside of the strap. Repeat for the other strap. 20180829_154055
  7. Turn the tote bag the correct way in. Press out all the corners.
  8. Cut a square (9 cm x 9 cm) from a heavy duty cardboard box. Insert this into the base of the bag to provide additional protection for the bottle of wine.
  9. Find an honorable Prince or Princess Charming to present your fortified gift: bottoms up!