Friday, 23 November 2012

Did I mention that we have reached 3,000 dresses!

More lovely dresses have been arriving all week taking our total to well over 3,000 dresses! Amazing.Thank you to everyone who has made a dress or pair of shorts. Hundreds of dresses and shorts have gone off to new homes this month so I thought I would do a little recap to update everyone.

250 dresses were collected by a friend to be shared between projects in Zimbabwe, Pakistan and the Middle East.

36 dresses were taken to a project in Uganda

Gill from Omushana collected another 178 dresses to ship to Uganda. She updated me this week to say that 132 of the dresses will be on a shipment that leaves in December. 70 will be donated to a group called Forest Friends that supports needy children and 62 will be donated to the Hope for Orphans Group that received dresses earlier in the year. Gill will be taking the remaining dresses when she visits other projects in February.

Gill took some dresses earlier in the year that had been made by the lovely staff and customers at Space to Sew in Shrewsbury. Space to Sew have been amazing in their support of 'Dress A Girl' running workshops and teaching people how to make the dresses. They have sent lots of dresses direct to projects abroad including Uganda & Zambia. They even got a local radio presenter making a dress live on air! A huge thanks to Domini and her team. You can read their lovely blog here These are some of the photos from Gills first trip with dresses from Space to Sew. Gorgeous!

50 dresses are being distributed in Haiti in the next few weeks

150 dresses and 76 pairs of shorts are being taken to India next week to be distributed with the help of this charity

and Maria from Cordial & Grace who hosted the fabulous charity sewing day in Bristol last week has already sent off 20 dresses to Cameroon via Ape Action Africa and 10 dresses to Kenya.

I was also contacted recently by somebody who services old vintage sewing machines who wanted to donate some to projects abroad. I have put them in touch with several of the charities I have worked with previously and hopefully we might even get some vintage sewing machines out to some of these projects too!

Hopefully we should gets lots of photos back soon!!.

Dresses and shorts have arrived from Pam (6 dresses), Claire and her colleagues from Gillingham School in Dorset (22 dresses), Jill (30 dresses & 15 shorts taking her total to a fabulous 345 dresses and shorts!!), Sara (3 pairs of shorts), 25 dresses from the Cordial & Grace Sewing Day, Jackie (4 dresses), John & Sue Sprittles (4 dresses), Dorothy (10 dresses), Sue (2 dresses) Jane (4 dresses) and Guarlford WI (28 dresses). Thanks everyone. They are all gorgeous!

I have a dilemma!  The thing I love about the 'Dress A Girl' charity and why I originally got involved is that it doesn't involve money. People can do something practical to help without having to give financially. People have been very kind in sending dresses to me and I can get dresses taken to projects abroad free of charge. The only problem I am having now that the charity is so successful is the cost of transporting the dresses around the UK to the people who take them abroad. A lot of people drive to collect the dresses from me (sometimes driving for several hours to get here!) and I always try to find a way of transporting them without incurring postage costs but sometimes there is just no other option than posting. I have received some small donations previously and some charities have been able to contribute towards the cost of postage which has really helped. But as more and more dresses arrive, I need to think seriously about how this is going to work in the future.  So does anyone have any great ideas? Any links to lovely courier companies who might want to help us out? Its not a lot of parcels - a couple a month but they are often heavy!! I really don't want to
fundraise or collect money from people if at all possible. Would love your thoughts.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Pinterest Challenge and Floppy Dinosaur Scales

Its been a manic few weeks here and I almost forgot to post my Pinterest Challenge entry for the second month running. Note to self - must do better!!

So for this months entry I made Sam a 'Hoodie-a-sauraus using this fab tutorial which I found on Pinterest

Sam loves Dinosaurs so I thought a dinosaur hoodie would be the perfect present to make him. I had bought a green hoodie from ebay a few months ago with the intention of making this and then promptly forgotten about it. So after a lengthy search to find the hoodie, I got started and here is the finished article. I finished it off with some big green buttons for dinosaur eyes.....

Dinosaur Hoodie

 Dinosaur slippers (not made by me!).

The most deadly dinosaur - The Sam-a-sauraus

It looks better in the photos than it actually is in real life. In reality the Sam-a-sauras has floppy scales!! #PinFail The tutorial suggests using felt for the scales with iron on stabiler (interfacing) . Unfortunately I didn't have any green felt or stiff interfacing and was far too impatient to wait until I could get some! Not to be deterred by the fact I didn't have ANY of the right materials for the job and in my usual rush to finish, I decided to use some green fleece and velvet fabric instead thinking that the interfacing I did have would be strong enough to make the scales stand up (it wasn't!). They are ok but flop around quite a lot. I even sprayed them liberally with spray starch (I didn't even know we possessed spray starch -its a man thing for work shirts apparently!). The starch didn't seem to do anything though. Still Sam loves it and whats a wobbly scale or two between friends?.

Sam has now decided he wants me to make these

Wish me luck! Don't forget to link your Pinterest inspired projects up to the Pinterest Challenge each month.

Monday, 19 November 2012

and the winner is...

What an amazing response to the fantastic Fabric HQ fabric giveaway and so interesting to read about all your favourite fabrics. All so different! The winner of the super dooper fabric bundle is...

SewMama Sew! Congratulations. Please can you email me your address so I can get Fabric HQ to send out your lovely prize! Don't forget you can get 10% off all fabrics at Fabric HQ by quoting SS1

Also Fabric HQ have just started a lovely blog so you can keep up to date with all their fabric goings on! I've just found out they will be getting patterns for the Washi dress in soon. I'm definitely going to buy one. My first attempt at grown up clothes!

Thanks to Fabric HQ for the fantastic prize and well done SewMama Sew for winning!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Its a Sew Fest!

Yesterday with the help of the lovely Maria and Laura at Cordial & Grace (a gorgeous sewing cafe in Bristol), we held a charity dress making day making pillowcase dresses for the Dress a Girl Around the World charity. We held free dress making workshops all day. We started at 11am and finished at about 10pm so it was a BUSY day! We finished 21 dresses during the day, decorated another 9 and sent several home with people to finish! It was so much fun. Have a look at the fabulous dresses that were made during the day.....

A huge thanks to everyone who came along and made dresses. I was delighted to meet several of my 'Twitter' friends at the event and made lots of lovely new contacts for the charity. Huge thanks also to Maria at Cordial & Grace for all her help and support. If you are ever in Clifton in Bristol you should pop in and say hi and taste one of their fabulous cakes! I'm hoping to do a dress making course at Cordial & Grace next year. Its a lovely venue. You can find their website here and their facebook page here. The local paper sent a photographer so we are hoping we'll get a photo in the local paper!!

This takes our grand total of dresses to well over 3,000 dresses!! Amazing. Thanks everyone.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

'Ahoy me hearties'

The lovely people at Abakhan set me a challenge every now and then to see what I can make from £20 of their products. This is always really hard because there is such a lot to choose from on their website. It takes me longer to choose what to have than it does to make things! You can pretty much get anything fabric or craft related on the website and its very competitively priced. I spotted some skull and cross bones fabric whilst I was browsing and with a pirate obsessed 4 year old in the house knew what my theme was going to be this month. PIRATES! 

I ordered 1m pirate fabric (£4.90), 1m red gingham fabric (£3.35), 2 metres red twisted cord (84p), 1m bleached Calico fabric (3.95), 5 fabric pens (£1.28 each), and 1m red gingham ribbon (38p). I wanted to make lots of little things that would make good presents to show that £20 actually goes quite a long way if you have the time and inclination to have a go at making things. Most of them were pretty simple to make and didn't take lots of time.

A few months ago Izzy and I had spotted some dolls we wanted to make in a craft book from the library but we didn't have any fabric paints. Once I spotted that Abakhan stocked them, I knew I had to order some so that we could finally have a go at making the dolls. The library book with the doll template had gone back to the library so I had to draw one freehand. I am rubbish at drawing so if I can do this anyone can! I just drew a very basic doll shape on a thin piece of card. You then cut two doll shapes out of the calico fabric and let your children loose with the fabric paints!! (Note to self - next time put newspaper down as the fabric pens WILL stain your lovely John Lewis oilcloth table cloth!) Remember that you have to design a front and back for your doll! This is the pirate that Izzy made for Sam.


You have to leave the pieces to dry which takes a day or two. Once its dry you put the painted sides together and sew around the edge leaving a gap for turning it back out, turn out and stuff and sew up the gap. Voila! You have a little doll that your children have designed. You could probably do this with felt tip pens instead but the fabric pens did give the dolls a slightly stiffer, waterproof texture which I liked. Izzy designed the pirate for Sam and then a girl doll for herself. (I'm not sure why her lips appear to be in her neck!). Some of the fabric pens we used were florescent and some sparkly. There are lots of different types to choose from.

It was really good fun making the dolls and Izzy and Sam love them! This would be a great activity to do at a party maybe? The children could decorate them and then get them back at a later date made up as dolls instead of a party bag (although that does sound like a lot of hard work!!) You can make different types of doll by just changing the design slightly eg cats, snowmen etc. 

Of course a pirate has to have a hammock sleeping bag and pillow to sleep in


and a purse to keep his gold coins

A pencil roll for map drawing. You can find a tutorial here

and a drawstring bag to keep his treasure in. I LOVE this red twisted cord. I will use coloured cord whenever I make PE bags now I think as it looks fab! You can find a tutorial for the bag here

A pirate is bound to lost some teeth in pirate sword fights so will need a tooth fairy cushion to keep his teeth safe

A pirate always need a bandana to wear to show he is a pirate (make it reversible with the gingham and it can also double as a cowboy scarf!). 

 and a pirate most definitely needs a cushion to sit on after a long day of finding treasure. This is a really easy envelope opening cushion. It literally takes 10 minutes to make and involves 4 straight lines of sewing! Anyone want a tutorial?

Sam can't quite believe his luck. How many pirate presents?? Thank you Mr Abakhan!!

It was great fun making all these little presents for Sam. Let me know if you make something similar. You can find the Abakhan website here

Monday, 12 November 2012

Help my daughter is turning into Alan Sugar!

My 7 year old daughter has recently discovered money. Partly because we have started giving her pocket money each week and partly because it is a concept they are exploring at school. She seems to have developed strong entrepreneurial skills very quickly! Last week she charged her 4 year old brother 50p to sleep in his room with him. (She was going to anyway as he has bunk beds and she likes sleeping in the top bunk!) I am also fleeced, I mean asked to buy things from her 'shop' on a regular basis. I wouldn't mind if these things were 5p or 10p but she charges a pound or more for everything she sells! We've had to have a little chat recently about the value of money and the fact that money doesn't grow on trees (I winced as I said it!). Her prices have come down a bit but this entrepreneurial spirit was on show once again last week when we tested out a lovely drawing set from the Find Me a Gift website.

Find Me A Gift very kindly send Izzy a product to review during each school holiday. Izzy is always very excited by the things she receives as they are always such lovely, thoughtful, creative gifts that involve drawing, making or sewing. This one was no exception. A lovely magic pen kit called Trio Magic which you can find here.

Trio Magic contains special magic pens which are kind of triple pens which allow you to draw with 3 different colours at the same time. It also has special activator pens which change the colours of the triple pens. The kit also includes blank greetings cards, blank envelopes, A3 sheets of blank 'wrapping' paper, a blank photo frame and some boxes to colour in and make, allowing you to design all sorts of different things. Izzy couldn't wait to get started.

She even let her little brother have a go (I'm surprised she didn't charge him!)

Lots of designing went on. It kept them quiet for hours!

I should have known it wouldn't be long before the shop of Izzy and Sam opened though!


 I ended up buying some of Izzy's 'products' from the shop and then of course I had to buy the same amount of Sam's things too and then her dad had to buy some when he came home from work. Izzy now has more money than the rest of us put together! She has also developed a very clever ploy. If you say that you have  no money left, she announces that its because you don't like what she has made. See how clever us that is? Works every time!

We really loved this product which retails at £14.99. We used up the blanks fairly quickly but it doesn't really matter because you can just use the pens on normal paper to continue making pictures. This means that  they will last and be played with over a long time. In fact a week later Izzy is still using the pens and gaining in confidence as to what you can do with them. They would make a great present for Izzy's age upwards. Although Sam really enjoyed using them he was probably a little bit young to get the most out of them.

Find Me A Gift have thousands of gift ideas on their website including some lovely stocking filler ideas. You can find them on facebook and Twitter too. In fact I've just found a fabulous Christmas present for Izzy on the website. A Print Your Own Money Set which can be found here. A good investment for me I think!