Friday, 20 September 2013

Playhouse Renovation - fun water blasting

I'm going to try block the last few weeks from my memory. I was as sick as a dog (where does that saying come from?) and flat my my back. I got the actual flu and it was nasty. I'm still in recovery but feeling so so much better.

Here is one of the dinners we were delivered by a member of our church family (actually the pastors wife who was also nursing her own family back to health). YUM.

Hubby and Mister E donned their raincoats one afternoon and water blasted our playhouse. The amount of dirt that flowed out between the boards was pretty impressive. As is the sloshy moat of mud left around the foundations.

Now that the house is clean I can push my planning into buying. Fabric is on it's way for curtains and other furnishings and once the house is bone dry I'll be off to the paint store ! 

It feels like Spring has arrived in New Zealand, which makes everyone feel happier and excited.... now if only we could all shake our illnesses (and by all, I mean our community at large, as we all seem to be sick with something).

Brenda xx

Monday, 26 August 2013

Zealous MAKES Week 2

What a week. I've been ill and tired and busy but somehow I still managed to get a few things sewn. I think I cut out about a billon bibs (sorry I'm prone to exaggerating... ) but I haven't sewn any together yet, but I must as I have 4-5 markets coming up before Christmas and they seem to be the most popular item.

This dress is called Bloomshine by Pink Fig Designs. I LOVE it and wish it was my size. Although the amount of fabric in this baby is insane and an adult version would just be crazy expensive. I made this dress as a sample in size 5T, now if I could just convince Mister 5 to try it on for me ;-)

(Note, the straps aren't the same as the pattern, I stole that idea of another blogger, and I love it!)

I had fun using up some cute prints this week on skirts. Three 'simple skirts' and two 'posy pocket skirts' by Monkeybug. The simple skirt is my own design but it's pretty basic really. Let me know if you want the measurements to make one. Super easy and quick.

All these skirts are listed on my Facebook page and I can custom make these styles in your choice of fabrics too :-)

Hope everyone has a lovely week planned. I'm hoping my family stays well so I can get some more 'market' sewing done!

Thanks for stopping by

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Playhouse Renovation - moving into location

The day arrived for us to move the playhouse into it's permanent location so what does the weather do? It rains like never before, thunder and lightening rent the sky and our section turns into a bog... but despite the open heavens our friends still came out to help with the job. 

In order for the playhouse to be in the best spot, we had to move the entire sandpit... Like one of those tile puzzles we had to work out which order to move sand and where to put it so we could move the sandpit itself and all without our trailer which was carefully balancing our playhouse :-) 

The sand was moved into a wheel barrow, then onto this blue tarp then into the new sandpit location under the deck... the kids LOVED having the sand to spread over a huge area and push it around with their diggers. 

And I felt like I had been to the gym after shovelling sand all day :-) Bonus! 

The final location is pretty cool, it's under our deck which will give sun protection and hopefully it won't get so wet every time it rains. Check check :-) 

My hubby got busy building a foundation for the playhouse so we were all ready when our friends came over to help. He's such a handy man.

There was some pretty intense discussions on how to get the playhouse off the trailer. I was the photographer so I only got a small sense of how heavy the house actually was. It took 6 strong dudes though with some kids giving moral support. 

It all seemed to go pretty smooth from where I stood.

And look at the cutie cutie little house, doesn't it look adorable. I can't wait to get in there and start cleaning it out and decorating... my brain has been whirring with ideas for weeks. 

Thanks for stopping by. The playhouse renovation series will continue over spring/summer. 

Now where am I going to hang my washing? (we had to move the washing line out of the way)... 

Brenda :-) 

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Little known facts about Alpaca Fibre

Today I thought I'd tell you a bit about Alpaca fibre... we've all heard of lambs wool and how warm it is and water resistent etc... but there is a better fibre out there, who knew! And this beautiful fibre comes from the intelligent Alpaca. (How cute is that little guy above!)

My friend Kathy runs an urban farm (with her husband and family) called Gumtree Gully and they have about 13-14 alpaca. I asked her to tell us a bit about the fibre and why it is so amazing.

Kathy: Alpaca fibre was often referred to as "the fibre of the gods" by the Incas and the best quality fibre was made into beautiful garments for their royalty. It is thought that the Incas developed their fleeces to a higher quality than even available today, and breeders are now endeavouring to return the fibre to that pinnacle of perfection. 

This unique fibre comes in 22 natural shades from white to fawns, browns, greys and black. It is amazingly hard wearing and is used extensively in sock manufacture. Being a dry fleece with no lanolin, it has hypoallergenic properties and the hollow fibres make it very lightweight and very warm, 60% warmer than lambs wool in fact. 

It is fire resistant and does not retain water, making it also ideal for baby clothing. If you have trouble wearing normal wool next to your skin, then there's a good chance you'll be able to wear alpaca as it has very few prickly guard hairs. 

Alpaca is unusually strong and resilliant, and can be reused due to its ability to return to its original structure. Professional climbers have reported they can wear their alpaca socks for days and even weeks on end (!) with no unpleasant 'pong'. This naturally breathable fibre repels bacteria and its resulting odours. So indeed the Incas had it right, this fibre is super soft and fit for royalty, a truly luxurious product that lasts!

60% warmer than lambs wool, that really stuck out to me.

Now if you're a knitter or crocheter you may want to know how easy it is to knit/crochet, so I had a go and was pleasantly surprised. I found it incredibly soft to knit with (especially the pale shades) almost silky, I loved it. And crocheting was much the same, very easy to slide through my fingers and make quickly into flowers or whatever takes your fancy.

To the right is a sample of the items I've made with Alpaca Yarn:

If you're keen to have a go with this gorgeous, naturally coloured yarn, Kathy sells her wool at markets or you can contact her via Facebook or her website.

Thanks for stopping by... the next interesting item I want to tell you about is bamboo clothing... I can't wait to share my findings with you.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Pattern Review: Ruthies Picnic Dress by FooFoo Threads

PATTERN: This is a PDF pattern by FooFoo Threads (FFT). Ruthies Picnic Dress with retro ruffled bodice.

WHAT: A ruffle bodice dress with vintage charm, which has aspects of the fashions in the 40's and 50's. Ruthies dress features a tuxedo style bib and unique pockets with a bow, also a double layered skirt for extra body and twirling. It also has options to add a ruched ruffle along the bottom of the top skirt. And the waist is cinched in with a sash that ties into a beautiful bow at the back.

SIZE: I made a size 2T. This pattern has a large size range at 6 months through to 8 years.

FABRIC: I used cream embroidered lace for the ruffles, which I love and added a polkadot ribbon to the bottom of the top skirt to match the tuxedo bib. I love this swings/kite fabric (sorry can't remember the name) which is complemented with green gingham and red polkadot. I love to make something that is pretty but not pink.

PATTERN PIECES: There are pattern pieces for the bodice, lining, pockets and ruffles with measurements for the skirts, sash and lower ruffles. All drafted for a perfect match.

ILLUSTRATIONS/INSTRUCTIONS: I've come to know FFT patterns as having lots of attention to detail, not making an assumptions and making it very easy for a beginner to learn and complete every step with ease. Intermediate sewers are able to skip ahead as needed and won't need to print all the pages.

SPECIAL TECHNIQUES: This dress has a few intermediate steps that are walked through step by step so don't be scared. Just take your time and you'll be fine. I chose not to make button holes for the back placket and instead used snaps which are a personal preference.

CONCLUSION: I always know when I make a FFT dress I'll get something stunning and unique. This dress is no exception. It fits perfectly, fully lined and great attention to detail. And with the modern vintage look, I can't get enough.
FFT patterns are well tested and have great support if you have a problem. I would highly recommend this pattern and any of their others. Find this pattern here.

Sew glad you stopped by :-)

* I am not paid for reviews nor receive anything for doing them, I'm just providing honest feedback for other mum's looking at buying pdf patterns. 

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Zealous MAKES Series

I thought I'd start a little series called 'Zealous Makes' to share with you some of the things I make each week. This week has been a bit slow with me and Miss 2 being sick but I still have a few things to share with you.

1. This is a new pattern by Little Lizard King called the Retro Glam skirt. This dotty version makes me think of cheer-leading skirts. I personally love the ric rac along the hem, it really shows off the scallops in the skirt pieces. The construction of this skirt took a while but I love the look and can't wait to make a few more in different fabrics.

2. After lot of interest in the business card holder I made myself, I whipped up another 13 to sell. There are still a few left in my FB album: Products ready to ship

I really love the business card holder in 'happy hills' fabric. This fabric really does makes me happy. 

3. The last items I finished this week were my notebook holders. They'll be listed in my shop (FB) later today. I'll be selling these with notebook and pen included. I think they'll be awesome in your handbag for the times you just need a pen and paper. Now to choose which one I'm going to keep.... hmmmmm

Thanks for stopping by!
Brenda :-)

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Playhouse renovation - the arrival

It's arrived. It's arrived!!!!!

The Zealous Family playhouse! We picked it up from another local family whose children have grown too big for it now. I did hear a rumour that the 16 year old couldn't watch her childhood playhouse being taken away - poor sweetie. 

My children are super excited to start playing in it, but first Daddy needs to find a safe place for it and Mummy.... well she has big 'renovation' plans for it. For the last week I've been adding lots of ideas to pinterest and so far I'm thinking it needs a plain paint job inside (the inside is wooden and tired) and some fun bright coloured furnishing!

At the moment the little house is resting on the trailer, taunting the kids.

I'll be posting the renovation pictures as I complete the playhouse this summer! Feel free to show me your playhouse makeover or give me your awesome ideas :-) 

Until then
Brenda :-) 

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Supporting New Zealand Made

If I went around my house and checked where everything was made, I reckon it would be close to 50% made overseas. I'm not proud of that fact but also it's not entirely my fault. It is soooo hard to find things that aren't made overseas (particularly China) and even harder to find Made in NZ products.

I had one of those 'aha' moments a few months back after buying a pack of biscuits from the supermarket. I ate one and thought 'yuck, that must have been a bad batch'. To my dismay, when I read the label, I found they were made in China. Really!!!!! We have food from China. I threw those biscuits out. I can't always control where everything in my house comes from but I refuse to eat food that is 'made in china'.

[Paua Pukeko made by Paua Art in NZ - be in to win this wall art here]

I feel so sad that we are losing so much of the control of products in this country because it's 'cheaper' to send it overseas (well I'm assuming that is the reason). Every week I hear of a new business moving to China/Indonesia. More Kiwis losing their jobs. More products being made with less love, care and integrity. Are some of us so intent on making our million that we put our integrity aside?

[Ruby Sue dress, Made in NZ, for sale here]

Because my 'thing' is sewing. I sew as much of my children's clothes as possible. It's not always cheaper (not often) but they wear unique designs and concoctions that their crazy mum puts together, and they even get input into what I make.

I sell my NZ made clothing at markets and sometimes I overhear people saying how expensive my things are. That makes me really sad as I don't even get close to minimum wage for the time my clothes take to make. But I'm proud to make NZ made products. I'm proud to offer something that you can't find elsewhere and when you buy a Zealous Design you know it's not off a production line, and it has been handcrafted with time and love by me.

Since my biscuit experience, I'm a big label checker. But the best thing that has come out of that experience is my love of New Zealand made. So I go out of my way to buy from small businesses that craft their goods here in our lovely green country. Sure most things are more expensive than the warehouse but when you buy NZ made, you are often buying off a stay at home mum or someone who has put their heart into a product or service. I try to profile small Kiwi business on my FB page from time to time as well to help out other at home mum's trying to keep their family afloat.

If you work from home, handcraft a product or service, let me know!
Sew glad you stopped by


Enter my giveaway here (finishes 18 August 2013)

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Cottage Mama Pattern Release ~ Skip and Play Pants

Check out these awesome pants by The Cottage Mama's. I couldn't wait to start these cuties, I just love the unique trims. There are so many ruffle pant patterns out these but these Skip and Play Pants/Capri are just adorable and the detailed trims, cuffs and buttons make it a must buy.

It was hard to chose fabric as I wanted the pants warm enough for winter so I chose corduroy again, even though so many of my cute quilted fabrics were begging me to use them. I'll definitely be making these again in spring as capri, so they will get their chance :-)

One of my favourite aspects of these pants are the lean leg. My daughter doesn't trip over the fabric like so many of her wide leg ruffle pants. 

And check out just how adorable the ruffles and cuffs are. Not only are they cute but they are actually very easy to make. 

And just to prove how easy they are to 'skip and play' in, my daughter decided to climb trees and run along the beach at top speed. 

To purchase Skip and Play Pants in PDF form, visit The Cottage Mama's etsy store!
To purchase the pants/capris in New Zealand, contact me at Zealous Design.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Home Body and Beauty Market

I've been selling at Markets and Fairs for just over a year now and have learnt so much in that short time. I've also had so much fun meeting customers and other extremely talented crafts people. 

With so many of the products around these days 'made in China' and sold by big multi million dollar companies. I am really trying to make an effort myself to buy from local crafts people or make my own things. When you buy local, you are not only helping support families but putting money back into your local community rather than lining the pockets of rich business men. 

I've also recently got involved in helping organise a market in my local area with two extremely hardworking and talented girls. Both run their own small businesses from home like me, who also needed some outlet for their talents and products. (Check out Kathy and Robayne and their awesome products).

I had no idea how much hard work went into organising a market until four months ago, but even though it's a lot of work, it's worth it to bring so much talent and New Zealand made products together in my local country town.

One thing we've found quite difficult is working out how to reach people to advertise this market. Do people read newspapers anymore? Does everyone have Facebook yet? Do signs on the side of the road work anymore? Let me know what your thoughts are... how would we reach you to advertise a market?? How would we reach your mum or grandma?

Thanks for stopping by :-)

Friday, 7 June 2013

Cottage Mama New Pattern ~ Miss Matilda

A few weeks ago I was given the awesome opportunity to help test out some of The Cottage Mama's newest patterns. Since we are heading into winter down in New Zealand I chose to make my items 'winter friendly'. In my stash was some corduroy which I didn't have big plans for but turned out to be the perfect base for these items.

First up is Miss Matilda's dress/top (sizes 6 months to 10 years. Isn't this adorable! I love the fun ruffles that spice up the neckline and down the button placket. the big bow ties on the side and gives a gorgeous unique look. Lindsay designed the outfit perfectly and the pattern was so easy to follow and sew up.

Miss Matilda has a lovely full skirt that naturally stands out with the corduroy I've used. It also has the option of being shortened into a top, with or without the ruffles. You could also dress it up with a trim along the border of the skirt. 

And of course there is the twirl factor, an important aspect for my little girl who loves to twirl twirl twirl. 

To purchase Miss Matilda in PDF form, visit The Cottage Mama's etsy store!

To purchase this dress/top in New Zealand, contact me at Zealous Design.

Next blog, skip and play pants also by The Cottage Mama :-)

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Pattern Review: Claire's Patchwork Pillowcase Dress by CKC

PATTERN: This is a PDF pattern by Create Kids Couture (CKC). Actually this was the first pattern I bought from them and my first PDF pattern ever (since this purchase last year I have gained a rather large collection).

WHAT: A patchwork dress in the popular pillowcase style, with a twist. There is an adorable keyhole cut and sewn into the back so the shoulder ties can be tied in a bow either at the back or across one shoulder. The dress is finished with a border of ruffles. I love ruffles.

SIZE: I made a size 2T. This pattern has a large size range at 6months through to 8 years.

FABRIC: I used up a lot of my scraps on my first dress. I also made a few for my friends (see photo near end) which I used Happy Hills and Pretty Little things fabric lines amongst others.

PATTERN PIECES: CKC have a unique pattern cutting method, which I've come to love. Most pattern pieces are given in rectangle measurements and the pattern pieces provided are used to cut off sections of the rectangle which leaves you with the bodice pieces. Brilliant.

ILLUSTRATIONS/INSTRUCTIONS: CKC patterns always have photos for every step, you don't have to read instructions over and over trying to work out what is meant. It is so easy to follow you often don't even need the instructions, the photos are so clear.

SPECIAL TECHNIQUES: There is nothing very tricky in this pattern unless you create your own bias tape. You'll need a bit of time and patience putting all the squares for the patchwork together, but I found it quite fun.

CONCLUSION: What I love about this pattern is, it's going to fit my daughter for years. As a 2 year old it is a maxi dress, but on a 5 year old it will be knee length.
I find Create Kids Couture patterns brilliant. They are always well laid out. You don't have to print a thousand pages. They are well tested and have great support if you have a problem. I would highly recommend this pattern and any of their others. Find this pattern here.

Thanks for stopping by! 

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Pattern Review: Diane Kimono by Serendipity Studio

PATTERN: Diane Kimono Dress/Tunic top by Serendipity Studio a paper pattern using tissue. I must comment here to say, I'm so used to pdf patterns now that I find tissue a bit hard to deal with now. 

WHAT: Asian inspired dress/top with a tie to cinch in the waist. This pattern could look a bit frumpy with the wrong fabrics, but I'm excited about making a long dress for summer in some funky fabrics. For this pattern review I made a top so I can wear it in the upcoming winter (over a long sleeve top). I did make a few changes, the skirt in the pattern is one fabric, but due to not having enough in my stash, I made a panelled skirt instead. 

SIZE: XXS through to XXL. I made an XS.

FABRIC: I used fabrics from my stash, I decided to stick with the asian theme: For the main fabric I used Golden Garden in grey by Alexander Henry. I used  the Serenity line by Bo Bunny for accents and Textured Basics by Patty Young for part of the skirt. I love how it's turned out! 

I also fully lined the bodice, which isn't in the pattern, just a personal preference. 

PATTERN PIECES: There are about 5 pieces to cut out and use. I transferred mine to other paper just in case I got the wrong size. I didn't want to have to cut out the tissue. The pattern did suggest cutting to the biggest size then folding the bigger sizes away, but I couldn't see how you would easily do that. 

ILLUSTRATIONS/INSTRUCTIONS: There are a lot of hand drawn illustrations to follow in this pattern. I'm used to photos of late so it took a bit of a mind shift but it was easy to follow once I got my head around it. Instructions were full and detailed with extra instructions for different options to make as part of the dress. 

There are two options for the skirt width and options for gathered shoulders. 

SPECIAL TECHNIQUES: Using bias tape and as usual I made my own using matching fabrics. Threading a tie through a specially sewn casing 

CONCLUSION: Awesome pattern, easy to follow and comfortable to wear. I would say a beginner could easily cope with this as there are no zips, button holes or darts.

Sew nice of you to stop by :-)

Click to find this pattern online.