Breastfeeding pillow

About 10 weeks after Clementine was born, I really hurt my shoulder and couldn’t lift my arm above my head. Clemmie (like her sister and cousins) has a very big and heavy head! So, it was constantly pulling on my arm as I breastfed her. It was definitely time for me to make another breastfeeding pillow.

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I like these easy, effective and useful sewing projects, especially when 6 months down the track, you are still happy with your product. I use this pillow 4-5 times a day, every day and it is still going strong. As it is not especially easy to clean, I usually put a cloth under Clem when I am feeding her to catch any milk or spew spills (gross but important…).

Are you ready to make one? They make great presents too.

What you need…

  • fabric (anything would do here but something softish is nice for your baby)
  • matching thread
  • wadding – the soft, pliable kind not the stuff for stiff cushions
  • needle
  • newspapers
  • pen
  • scissors
  • chopstick

The how to…

  1. Draw and then cut a U-shape out of your newspaper ensuring that the middle of the U-shape is large enough to go around your waist. I leave about 25 – 30cm between the two sides of my U-shape, which leaves enough space for your baby to lie on the cushion, after you have sewn it with your seam allowance. This is your pattern._MG_4533-2
  2. Fold your fabric in half, lie your pattern on your fabric, pin and then cut your fabric. You should be left with two U-shaped pieces of fabric.
  3. With right sides together, sew around the U-shape of your fabric making sure you leave an opening of about 8 cm. I either go around the edges again with my overlocker or sew a second seam, just for strength._MG_4534-2 _MG_4536-2_MG_4537-2
  4. Pull your fabric through your opening and press along the seams with a chopstick to make sure the pillow is fully opened.
  5. Fill your cushion with wadding. Make sure you really stuff it in there as over time it compresses quite a lot._MG_4539-2
  6. When your cushion is full of wadding, thread a needle and hand sew closed the opening, making sure it is nice and strong._MG_4593-2
  7. Start putting it to good use or give it away!
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DIY self-binding baby blankets

Just before and just after I had Clementine last year, I had a sewing frenzy, making things for Clementine and for other friends who were about to have babies. One of my favourite things from this time was the self-binding baby blankets that I made. I gave one to my friend Lori for her baby Holly and I see it on her pram all the time, so other people think they are good too – I am not just being biased.

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I found tons of great blogs showing how to make these self-binding blankets (see here, here and here). You can see that they are all very similar.

In the end, I followed this one from Sew Much Ado. While it all sounded so easy, I did not find it that easy to start with. My first couple of goes had to be pulled apart and re-cut and re-sewn a number of times. BUT when I finally got the hang of it, it was a relatively quick project. My mistake was cutting my corners in completely the wrong direction at Step 4 which meant that my mitre-ing did not work at all. You can see in my photos below my initial error and then how I fixed it (the correct one is the one with the ruler). If you look carefully at the photo that is a close up of the corner, you can see the stitches that I unpicked from my first, incorrect, attempt.

In the end, I think these blankets look ace. In fact, writing about these blankets makes me want to make some more. Maybe in the next few weeks I might have another crack. I need to do lots of sewing to justify that new machine I bought a couple of weeks ago!!

This time around I have not added instructions here as there are multiple different sites with instructions already up – but here is a photo log of my project, warts and all.

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Upcycled armchair

If you follow me on Instagram (and please do! @littleivyblog) you will see that a few weeks ago I finished upcycling a 1960s armchair. It was my first ever try at fixing up a piece of furniture and I was nervous.

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I bought the chair for $36 on eBay (the owner was a little miffed as she thought she would get a little more…). It was pretty ugly but it had good bones and I didn’t need to replace any of the springs. Then I bought some new foam cushions from Clark Rubber (so easy – you just tell them what size you want and they cut it for you) and some upholstery fabric that was on sale at Spotlight. I didn’t want to spend too much just in case the whole project was a complete disaster.

In the end, it turned out to be an EXPENSIVE project. But that was because my sewing machine packed it in while sewing the first cushion and I had to upgrade to a new sewing machine. I absolutely love it and it has encouraged me to sew more but it did make for an expensive project!

In terms of the fixing up the chair, I thought about getting online to check out some videos and then thought, how hard can it be?!

Turns out that it is a little time consuming but not that hard. Some chairs have different cushion configurations so you may need to alter how you do the cushions.  You can use the old cushion covers to make a pattern. Below is how I went about mine.

I love the new chair. It looks great and is very comfortable. I love it so much that I just bought another one on eBay to fix up soon. I now want a new couch to match but that is a big expense and probably a long time off!

What you need…

  • sand paper (about 120 and 240 grit)
  • stain (there are lots of varieties – I used what I had on hand!)
  • new foam cushions cut to size
  • 2.5 – 3 metres upholstery fabric
  • matching upholstery thread
  • elastic

The how to…

  1. Remove your old cushions from your chair. Sand back all the wood on your chair. Then dust it off and stain the wood. It will take at least two coats, I did three._MG_5047 _MG_5049 _MG_5051
  2. Measure up your old cushions to determine the size of the foam needed.
  3. Lay your foam for your seat cushion on your fabric – making sure the grain is going the right way. Leaving a seam allowance of 1.5cm, cut a length of fabric long enough to cover the top, bottom and one end of the cushion. Turn the cushion onto its side and, again leaving a seam allowance of 1.5cm cut two side panels._MG_5106
  4. Turn the fabric wrong side out and pin the side panels to the edges of the long fabric. Do a test run on your cushion to make sure it fits and then sew along both sides and one end of the side panels. I actually did a test run after pinning one side to make sure my fabric alignment was okay. To do the corners, snip a small triangle off each corner (there will be four at this point). You will end up with an open ended envelope._MG_5109 _MG_5112
  5. Allowing a seam allowance of 3cm on the long sides and 1.5cm on the short ends, cut a piece of fabric for the end of your cushion, then chop it in half lengthwise._MG_5115
  6. Go on YouTube and look up how to add a zip – I am not going to give you instructions as mine was AWFUL this time around, but there are plenty of good videos out there. I should have followed my own advice here! Then sew this panel into place (with the zip open, which I also neglected to do and then spent ages trying to open my cushion cover!
  7. Turn right way out and then push your cushion inside, it should be a relatively tight fit.
  8. For the cushion for the back of the seat, again make an open envelope but this time around leave a long flap which will attach with elastic to the bottom of your chair. Here is a good example of how to make one but don’t forget to change the length of the outside flap and leave a gap on the sides at the back of your cover to allow you to slip your cushion in._MG_5118 _MG_5119
  9. When you are finished, sew a loop of elastic to each corner of the bottom of your outside flap to attach to the underneath of your chair.
  10. Put your cushions back onto your armchair._MG_5122
  11. Sit back and admire your handiwork or buy another chair off eBay and start again! (PS. Here is a link to the wallpaper and to the DIY plant stand.)_MG_5305
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Cute little skirt

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I made this very cute little skirt today while Clementine was sleeping. Actually – I finished it after her nap as I needed to rethread the overlocker which took me almost as long as sewing the entire skirt as I had never had to do it before! Thank goodness for YouTube.

I used this great little pattern from Pitter Patterns – Simple Skirt and decided against the sash as I wanted the skirt to be a bit more casual (plus it was faster!).

Because I was hurrying to get it done while Clem was asleep (about 40 minutes) I forgot to take many photos but I think you can get the drift from the ones I did take.

This is such an easy pattern to use and a VERY simple skirt to make. I had all the bits and pieces for it at home as well so it was quick and cheap. Always a bonus.

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Change mat covers

Every now and then I complete a project which makes me think, aagghh, why didn’t I do this 3 years ago? It is so easy and quick and makes such a difference. This is one of those projects!

_MG_5123Last week, while Clementine was sleeping, I rummaged through my fabric boxes and found some flannel which I thought would make lovely, warm, change mat covers (and it does). Clementine’s (previously Mae’s) change mat was ripping slightly at the edges which was not very hygienic but also looked awful. 30 minutes later and the mat had a new lease on life. I liked it so much I made two. The first I made was slightly on the small side – see the photo below – but it still works. The second is much better! (PS. How is the tan on that doll!)

This project would also make a great gift for a new mum or dad.

There are loads of projects online for inspiration for this one. See here and here for examples.

What you need:

  • flannel or cotton material about 125cm x 97cm (the size might vary slightly depending on the size of your mat but this seems about average)
  • matching thread
  • elastic 2.5cm wide x 96cm
  • safety pin

The how to:

  1. Fold your material in half lengthways and then width ways. Then find the corner that is open (i.e. has no folds). At this point if you have been haphazard with your cutting like I was you can trim your fabric so it is more even!
  2. Cut a square that is 19cm x 19cm from the open corner._MG_5065
  3. Open out your fabric so it looks like a cross. With right sides together, pick one corner and fold the two sides of one of your squares together and sew with a 1.5cm seam. Do this on each corner of your fabric. When you lay your fabric out it will now look a little like a boat._MG_5066 _MG_5067 _MG_5069
  4. Fold the seam towards the wrong side of the fabric 0.5cm and iron down. Then fold it a further 3.5cm and iron. This will make a casing for your elastic._MG_5071
  5. Sew along the bottom of the casing leaving a gap of about 5cm._MG_5072
  6. Attach your safety pin to one end of your elastic and (holding the other end) pull the elastic through the casing. Sew the two ends together. (Don’t get distracted halfway through and make a bit hash of it like I did – but if you do it doesn’t matter as it will be inside the casing – thank goodness!!)_MG_5074 _MG_5077
  7. Sew close the opening and voila – you are done!_MG_5078 _MG_5079 _MG_5080 _MG_5082
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DIY plant stand

Boy has it been a while since I have visited Little Ivy Blog! It appears that my two (very cute) daughters are a little time demanding. Anyway, enough whining, I am back (at least for one post!) and I am here to tell you about this great little plant stand that I made a couple of weeks ago.

Are you like me? Do you go on Pinterest and pin like crazy and then never look again? Well, last week, I was browsing my Pinterest boards and came across this post from Mandy at A Beautiful Mess and I headed straight off to Bunnings to get my bits and pieces, as I had a gap above my bookshelf that desperately needed filling._MG_5085

I decided to make mine one level only and I think it still works really well. In fact, I think it looks absolutely fabulous!

This is surprisingly easy to complete, and relatively quick too (exactly what I need at the moment). Plus I had the stain and the white paint in the shed so it was a pretty cheap DIY activity too. If you don’t have a jigsaw, some craft stores keep round bits of wood that you could use instead – just make sure it can handle the weight of your pot, soil and plant.

What you need:

  • One piece of square dowel (cut into lengths of 30cm)
  • One piece of pine wide/long enough to fit the circle of your plant stand
  • A bowl to trace out your circle (and pencil)
  • 4 x L-Brackets and matching screws (mine came as a pack)
  • stain
  • primer
  • white paint
  • clamps
  • jigsaw
  • drill
  • baking paper

The how to:

  1. Trace out a circle of the size you want for your plant stand (I used a mixing bowl to do this) on your piece of pine.
  2. Clamp down the pine and using your jigsaw cut out your circle. (Don’t run into your clamp with your jigsaw and cut an odd-shaped “circle” like I did the first time… it only takes 30 more seconds to set up properly!) Sand the edges._MG_5026
  3. Stain the 4 pieces of dowel in an appropriate colour (I used Merbau as it is what we had on hand). I did two coats on all sides.
  4. Prime and then paint your circle white. I did one coat of primer and two coats of white paint._MG_5028
  5. Trace your circle onto a piece of baking paper and fold in half one way and then the other (so you are left with a triangle). Then make a small cut on the edge of marked line. Place your baking paper back on top of your circle and draw (with a pencil) through each of the four cuts. This will mark out the placement of the legs of your plant stand, making them evenly spaced._MG_5033
  6. Measure 10cm down one side of each leg and mark in the middle._MG_5032
  7. Line up your L-Brackets on your legs and then on the underside of your table top (at the previously made marks) and make a mark inside each of the holes of the L-bracket. You will have two marks on each leg and eight marks (total) on your table top.
  8. Drill the screws into the L-bracket at the previously marked out spots on each leg._MG_5031
  9. Clamp the table top down and then line up each leg in the marked spots and drill the final two screws of each L-bracket into the table top._MG_5035
  10. Choose a great pot and a great plant and voila – you are finished! How easy was that?!_MG_5040
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Summer overalls

I have just finished these absolutely gorgeous little overalls for Clementine. They are so cute!

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I used this pattern from Tadah Patterns: Vintie Overalls.

The overalls were really easy to make, as the comments suggested it would be. The snap panel was the most confusing part for me, but after stopping for lunch I realised that it wasn’t that hard (I was probably just hungry!).

Instead of buttons on the shoulder straps I used snaps so that I could have two different sizes. Can’t wait until she is big enough to wear them!!

I will make some for Mae next. (This might be my new summer sewing obsession!)


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DIY fairy wings

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The day before Halloween I realised that Mae needed to dress up for child care the next day. When I asked her what she wanted to go as, she said “Tinkerbell”. That was great in theory, however, we didn’t have any fairy wings and Clementine had just gone down for a nap. Doesn’t matter, I thought. When Clementine wakes up we will wander down to the shops before dinner. After 1.5 hours, we were running out of time. So I decided to make some with things from around the house.

A couple of coat hangers and an old pair of stockings later and voila – fairy wings. Mae desperately wanted to paint them purple (her favourite colour) so I mixed together some red and blue finger paint. After about 30 minutes of painting, we left them to dry in the sun. We were bitterly disappointed when we came back to find that after drying – they just looked like beige tights! So, with dinner fast approaching, I grabbed the left over spray paint (from the upcycled pot plants) out of the shed and sprayed the wings and finished them off with some glitter glue we found in her art box. Not very child friendly but they looked good! Mae is well past eating her wings anyway.

So if you find yourself in need of a quick costume – here is a very quick how to.

What you need…

  • 2 wire coat hangers
  • 1 pair of old stockings
  • paint (not weak finger paint!)
  • glitter glue (optional)
  • elastic
  • needle and thread
  • ribbon
  • tape of some description
  • pliers

The how to…

1) Bend the handles of your coat hangers straight(ish) and the body of each hanger into a wing shape._MG_4563 _MG_4565

2) Bend the handles of each coat hanger over the top of each other to join the wings together. You might need to use a pair of pliers to help you with this (and lots of brute force). Squish them together relatively tightly and then wrap in your tape. Don’t worry too much about what it looks like as you will be covering this join of the wings later on._MG_4568

3) Cut each leg off your stockings and then thread one leg onto each wing and tie off in the centre. I also tied the legs together to ensure they didn’t come off._MG_4569

4) Paint each wing in your desired pattern. I used spray paint for a base coat and glitter glue for highlights. Mae loved playing with the glitter glue!_MG_4571 _MG_4573

5) Measure a figure eight of elastic with one circle over each shoulder of your child. Cut to an appropriate length and then stitch into place._MG_4574

6) Join your elastic to the centre of your wings by tying it with a piece of ribbon. Make sure it is nice and tight so that the wings stay in place when over the shoulders._MG_4581 _MG_4583

7) Have fun with your 2 year old teaching you to fly like Tinkerbell!_MG_4584 _MG_4591

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Step 1 of our new bathroom – demolition!

When we moved into our house, we knew that it had one of the smallest main bathrooms ever seen. It was smaller than many ensuites and could barely fit two people in at a time. It was ugly, plus, it didn’t have a bath. We definitely knew it was time for a bath when Mae went to her grandparents for the day and the main thing she requested for the day was to have a bath!

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After finally finding a builder (long, long story – but we learnt lots of lessons for next time), this weekend we have taken the first step towards our new bathroom. We demolished our old bathroom and one wall of Mae’s bedroom.

Now, when I say we, I really mean Pete and my brother Daz (with a little help from me, my dad and my brother Liam). It turns out that demolishing bathrooms and feeding a cranky 3 month old baby are not that compatible, much to my frustration!

Anyway, the demolition was not that neat and tidy – our lathe and plaster walls were very messy to knock down. But Pete and Daz did an amazing job. Then, like always there were the fiddly bits to complete. In this case, removing screws and nails and chipping away the old plaster glue. Why does the last 5-10 percent of any house project seem to take up an extraordinary amount of time?

BEFORE

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AFTER

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So, our renovation starts on Wednesday. Can’t wait for a new bathroom… and to have a shower back in the house!

PS. Lesson for beginners – when you are demolishing a bathroom wall – don’t accidentally bang the lathe and knock a giant hole in a wall that is meant to be left standing…_MG_4619

PPS. When you knock down walls in an old house, it does almost make you wonder how it stands so well and looks so nice when the plaster is on!

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DIY wallpaper – it is surprisingly easy!

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When we moved into our new house I had a million different ideas about how I wanted to decorate. After hours spent on Pinterest and Houzz I knew that I didn’t just want painted walls. Plus, as we are not planning on moving for a long time I don’t have to make the house palatable to future buyers. After much debating, I decided on wallpaper for our bedroom.

It then took quite a while for Pete and I to find a wallpaper that wasn’t too “girlie” and we finally decided on the tree design wallpaper. There are different types of wallpaper available. We chose a non-woven textile wallpaper which is easy to hang and to remove. The instructions below are for this type of wallpaper.

Then we had to figure out how to get it up. After chatting to the very helpful people in our local wallpaper store and much googling we found out that putting up wallpaper is surprisingly easy. But the one thing we couldn’t find advice on was wallpapering around the picture rail. In the end we decided to start at the ceiling and to cut the paper at the picture rail line and then begin again immediately under the picture rail. That is, we didn’t cut out an amount of paper corresponding to the size of the picture rail. If you have a different style of pattern, this may not work for you but in our case we decided it was the easiest option and it looked good.

My brother helped Pete to hang the wallpaper and they were both cursing me when the got to the small grate and realised that they had to cut out a small box from that particular piece of paper. In doing this, I can’t reiterate enough how important it is to measure twice (or three times) and cut once!

So, don’t be nervous and go forth and wallpaper. We loved our wallpaper so much we used some of the leftover paper to wallpaper a section of wall in our living room!

What you need…

  • wallpaper
  • wallpaper glue (get this at your local wallpaper store or hardware)
  • bucket with lid
  • whisk
  • paint roller
  • paint tray
  • wallpaper brush
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • Stanley knife

The how to…

  1. Before you start wallpapering make sure that you have filled any cracks and sealed porous surfaces and finished your painting. Also make sure that your walls are clean and dry._MG_3534
  2. Mix your glue with water in your bucket according to the directions on your packet. Use your whisk to really mix it well and remove any powdery lumps. Put the lid on your bucket and walk away for at least 4 hours but if you can leave it for 24 hours do, as it gets more sticky over time. (As a side note, we used the left over glue from our bedroom on our living room wall 3 weeks later and it was still good. Not sure of the protocols on this but it worked for us)._MG_3548 _MG_3550
  3. Use a plumb line (or tie a weight to a string) and mark a straight line in the middle of the wall with your pencil. On advice from our wallpaper store we started in the middle of the wall and worked towards either side. This ensures that the uneven wall joints do not skew your wallpaper and that the pattern remains straight.
  4. Measure the height of your walls and cut an appropriate length of wallpaper using a very sharp Stanley knife. REMEMBER to check the pattern repeat on your wallpaper and allow both this and an additional 10 centimetres to each length. It is much better to waste a little bit on each length than to cut a length that is too short to hang. Note: you will need to change the blade on your Stanley knife on a regular basis to ensure it doesn’t tear your wallpaper._MG_3551 _MG_3556
  5. Pour your glue into a paint tray and using your paint roller roll your glue onto your wall next to your plumb line. Ensure that there are no big lumps.
  6. Line the edge of your wallpaper up with your plumb line. We then found it easiest to begin at the ceiling and to smooth your wallpaper onto the glue._MG_3557
  7. Using your wallpaper brush, brush your wallpaper in an X pattern to remove any air bubbles. Also check the edges of your wallpaper to make sure they are stuck down.
  8. Trim the wallpaper at the ceiling and floor (or skirting board) using a ruler and Stanley knife._MG_3559
  9. Repeat 4-8 above working your way towards the edge. Make sure that for each piece of wallpaper you hang you line up the pattern appropriately and that you line the edges up perfectly. Spending a few extra seconds doing this will ensure a better end product.
  10. When we got to the outer pieces of wallpaper, we found it easiest to trim the width of the paper, while still allowing for plenty of overhang (about 10 centimetres). You then use a sharp Stanley knife (and a very steady hand) to cut down the wall joins.
  11. If you have a grate, like we did, measure (at least twice) the height and width of the grate and the distance from the ceiling and edge of previous piece of wallpaper. Then mark a box on your cut piece of wallpaper at the appropriate spot. Remember to check where the pattern lines up and consider this in your measurement. Then cut an X shape through the box starting in each corner. When you hang your wallpaper the grate will pop through this opening. You will then need to use a Stanley knife and ruler to trim the overhanging triangles of wallpaper (see photos)._MG_3563 _MG_3564 _MG_3573
  12. Sit back and gaze admiringly at your wallpaper with a beer or glass of wine! Job well done._MG_3586 _MG_3966

PS – Quite obviously we still need to change our carpets and curtains. This house is a work in progress!!

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