Monday, 30 November 2015

A Bookish Advent Calendar

It's almost the first of December! Time to dust off your advent calendars, if you're like me that is. 

I never really liked chocolate advent calendars as a kid. The chocolate never tasted that nice, in the Australian summer it always got a bit melty, and we usually shared 1 calendar between 3 (me and my 2 sisters.)

I always loved opening little windows on my paper calendar and finding a new christmas picture underneath. I'm pretty sure I can remember making my own out of an old cereal box once upon a time too.

Part of my Advent Calendar Collection!

I still have my calendars from when I was younger, and have started collecting paper calendars over the years. My kids don't know about the chocolate ones yet, and have their own paper ones too.

Last year I was excited by the concept of the book advent calendar. I had dismissed it though, as I thought; 'how on earth can I buy 24 new books, all christmas themed each year?' It turns out this isn't what most people do anyway!

Our first book advent calendar
I came up with another slightly different spin as well. I've ended up wrapping some Christmas themed books, two new books, and some old favourites that have been missing from story time. I also made up the following letter to be given to the kids on the 1st of December to make it that little bit more magical;

Dear Children;

Santa told us we needed to practice our gift wrapping before Christmas. He sent us to your house and we wrapped up 24 of your books! One for you to open each day until Christmas.

You might even find we’ve wrapped up a surprise or two for you.

We hope that you have been good enough to get on Santa’s nice list this year. If you have, that means we will get to wrap gifts for you, and Santa will deliver them on Christmas Eve.

Merry Christmas!
Love The Elves xxx

I made the numbered tags using number stamps and Christmas tree shaped tags from The Make Good Co. Alternatively, you can download these fantastic tags from the Simple As That Blog;

Tags from Simple As That

There are many other ideas for book advent calendars. Below are a two that I might try in the years to come;

No wrap - read Christmas books all the time

The 'no wrap' book advent calendar. Placing 24 Christmas books in a basket and having the title of the book written down in a numbered box or pouch. From Reading Confetti.

Clever wrapping and stacking from Here come the Girls

At Here Come the Girls Blog, they do Christmas books and films for their countdown.

What is your favourite way to countdown to Christmas?

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Who Sews? Ally Sews

Earlier in the year, when I was looking for dolls to make under for my own Tree Change Dolls project, I had an amazing op shop find. A trio of sweet little Madeline dolls. Little did I know at the time, that the lovely little dollies staring back at me were made by a company called Eden, and were never actually released in Australia. 

Madeline Eden Dolls

They are the sweetest dolls, unfortunately the wardrobe I came home with was very limited (they have one pair of shoes between them).

I had seen some lovely handmade Barbie Doll and other dolls clothes on Instagram and Esty by Ally Sews. I contacted Ally, a 17 (nearly 18!) year old who is Ally Sews and asked her if she would be able to create outfits for them.

She even has accessories!

Ally was lovely and extremely obliging. I sent off a volunteer Madeline, and she came back with a beautiful handmade and very extensive wardrobe. I was so so delighted and Sophie is going to LOVE them!


I of course, had to find out all about Ally's Handmade Adventure;

How & when did Ally Sews come about? 

I've always known since I was little that I wanted to be a designer and make things. At the end of last year, I had only a small amount of fabric and not alot of money and decided to open an etsy shop and make do with what I had, my shop gained momentum really quickly so it all worked out...and I get to do what I love everyday :)

What's been the most exciting place one of your items has travelled? 
Barbie never looked so good!
They've travelled to lots of cool places!! Chile, Sweden and London are a few I'd like to visit someday. I'm from Texas and the only place I've traveled to is Australia so it would be awesome to go back or travel somewhere else. I mean...It'd be very hard to not buy ALL the fabrics wherever I go though ;)

Are you studying? 

I don't study, I left highschool a few years ago and got a job doing sewing alterations. I take sewing classes sometimes too.

What is your favourite thing to sew? 

Doll clothes of course

Where do you work from? 

My bedroom. 95% of my belongings is sewing stuff and fabric so it's basically a craft room with a bed lol!

What do you love most about what you do? 

I love sewing for children, it's so much more fun and fulfilling than when I was sewing normal stuff.

Do you have any other crafty outlets?

 I *attempt* crochet and knitting. Still learning.

What's next for Ally Sews?

This year's been pretty huge for my business and I can't believe it hasn't been a year yet. Soon my doll clothes will be sold by a few online retailers which is exciting. Next year I just want to continue doing what I do and make new styles of clothes.

I cannot recommend Ally's dolls clothes highly enough. If you're looking for a lovely, well made and special gift for a child who loves dolls, look no further then Ally Sews.

Did you like dressing up dolls as a child?

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Handmade Challenge - November Update - Panic

Ahhhaaahhhhhhhhahhhhh PANIC!

I still have 4 things left on my Handmade Challenge List, two items part done (not even half done) and another two not even yet attempted... Oh no, oh no...

I'm making the Three Bear's House for my little fabric dolls house. I had these gorgeous Goldilocks and the Three Bears peg dolls made by the very talented Sarah from Bear & Co. So now I am attempting to create a house worthy of them.

They are so sweet!

Based on a storybook from when I was young

Part of a bolero
The bolero is possibly 1/3 complete, probably even less than that.

I have been trying to find a piece of felt large enough to make the Christmas tree skirt with no luck.

I do have a large sheet to cut up to make the card table tent. Does it count if I just put the sheet over the table and call it a tent? Perhaps I can sew something to it that looks like a window...

If I can pull this off, it'll be some kind of Christmas miracle.

Is anyone doing any better on their challenge list?

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Down 2 Earth

You may remember, back in April this year, I rescued and 'made under' some Bratz / fashion dolls. I didn't do the most amazing job! However it was fun and I loved doing it. I managed to trade some knitted jumpers, for shoes, with another person making under dolls which was great.

One of my make-under efforts

Still on my 'to do' list however, was to make outfits other than knitted jumpers for my dolls... I was never going to get around to it! So I ended up approaching the lovely Sam from Down2Earth Dolls who agreed to a trade, and made me some sweet outfits for my little ladies.

Sam's dolls are amazing. The time and personalities she gives to each doll are breathtaking. Especially their eyes. Of course I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share Sam's Handmade Adventure;

How and when did Down2Earth Dolls come about?

I saw a segment on The Feed (SBS) in April featuring Sonia Singh and her Tree Change Dolls and I just loved them! I really wanted to have a go giving dolls make-unders. It wasn't as easy as it first appeared, but I found a lovely facebook group (Rescued Dolls) where women around the world share their tips and tricks for every aspect of doll rescue and my own style grew from there!

A not so beautiful Before and much better After shot!

Have you always been crafty?

I have always loved being crafty! I remember my sister and I making our whole family Christmas presents from when we were 5 or 6.

Down2Earth Dolls your day job? 

Down2Earth Dolls is a hobby business. Before having my son nearly 3 years ago I was an Electron Microscopist and Cell Biologist at Monash University. I got my PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology when I was 26 and I absolutely loved my job but trying to juggle kids and a science career wasn't for me. I left Monash just before Louis was born to become a stay-at-home Mum and it is brilliant! It can be a challenge to fit in doll make-unders around the kids but it is a lot of fun and nice to have a creative outlet that provides a small income (mostly squandered on more fabric!).

Where do you find your inspiration?

I love faces so I'm always on the look-out for beautiful eyes in instagram images and unusual kid's faces in the shopping center. I'm also slightly addicted to vintage fabrics (well, all fabrics, really) and draw a lot of inspiration for the overall look of my dolls from fabrics I've collected.

Who is your favourite doll?
I have had a few special dolls but Callie is my favourite so far! She just has a lovely face and beautiful brown-blonde hair.

I love this doll too, she looks so friendly

Where do you work from?

I share our home office with my husband! I have my own desk and gorgeous vintage wingback chair (highly impractical but I insist) and swap around my drawing supplies for doing faces with my polymer clay for doing shoes and my 1952 Singer sewing machine for sewing outfits. It's nothing fancy but at least I don't have to pack everything away all the time. My husband is getting used to being stared at by shelves of dolls!

What do you love most about what you do?

I love creating new unique personalities from mass produced toys- it's such a joyous thing to be able to create something with your hands that makes other people happy. I also love the fact that I am doing a tiny bit to keep usable items out of landfill.

These beautiful dolls are making me want to try again!

Do you have any other crafty outlets?

I'm always trying something new! I did jewelary making for a while, applique had a bit of a run a year or two ago and now my sister and I are playing around with making some felt ball and flower garlands! Oh, and I'm just dying to try my hand at weaving but I know my husband won't be amused if more yarn makes it's way into our house!

What's next for Down 2 Earth Dolls?

Well, I'm super duper excited because Down2Earth Dolls has been accepted for a stall at this years Etsy Made Local Markets on Nov 28th at Brisbane City Hall! It's going to be amazing with all the local Etsy talent selling their awesome wares under one roof, just in time for Christmas! I'm going to be crazily sewing dresses, sculpting shoes and painting little faces for the next few weeks!

Have you been putting your skills towards making under dolls? They'd make a terrific eco-friendly Christmas gift!