Thursday, December 29, 2011


We went camping this week and I thought I'd share some photos here as it's been ages since I've shown you some of the beautiful places on our doorstep.   Awhitu Peninsula is just about an hour's drive from south Auckland: you can see the Sky Tower from the beach, but it might as well be in another country.  The camp ground is in a regional park and we had no power, showers, camp shop, hot water; you get the picture.  Luckily we knew all that and went prepared, but even so I was amazed at how peaceful and unpopulated it was so close to New Years.  

Maybe these photos are not a good reflection of it though; there were actually other people there too!

These photos were taken near the Brook Homestead where the first settlers to the area built.  The macrocarpa has the biggest girth in the country, and the kids and Craig had a great  time climbing it. 

The road to the lighthouse and looking across to west Auckland: Huia and Whatipu looked a stone's throw away in places, but it would take more than 2h to drive there! We'll be back, Awhitu...

Thursday, December 22, 2011


This year Christmas seems to have sneaked up on us, but I still managed a few last-minute projects, like some stockings and a secret squirrel gift.  We are visiting family for a few days over Christmas, and will manage to fit in a camping trip before New Years as well.  To all my friends here in Blogland, I hope you have a wonderful relaxing Christmas with friends and family and that you will return refreshed and full of inspiration in the New Year. I hope I do, because I have big plans for 2012! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Decorating the tree

Putting up and decorating the tree is my favourite Christmas tradition, and I'm so glad my boys have inherited that from me. This year the two of them put our tree up all by themselves, working together: taking turns to hand each other the branches and put it into the right spots.  Very impressive.  

This year I made some new bunting decorations for our tree, which you can see here. I also  took part in the Sew Funky Christmas decoration swap, and thankfully started planning well in advance so I didn't have to rush it like most things this December. Here's what I came up with; some simple layered felt decorations: 
The great thing about the swap is of course the decorations you get in the mail.  My favourite were Emily's peanut people.  This little snowman has the cutest black hat on his head, plus he came with a Santa and an elf!  The next decoration down is Aynsley's ribbon and bead tree; very clever.  

I also have a growing vintage collection, including some very fragile and therefore precious glass baubles.  This little felt mouse with candle was made in Japan (where else?).  I found the wooden angel this week and she has pride of place on the mantelpiece.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I've been labeled, again!

The postie has been busy around our place this week, bringing me two special parcels in the last couple of days.  I got some more fabric from Spoonflower, which I'll list after the holidays because, you know, it's crazy days at the moment.  

The woven labels are from Fancyweaver, and I totally LOVE them.  I am very impressed with the service and quality, and free shipping from Hong Kong.  Here's a previous post I wrote about them. I can't wait to sew them into some new things, one of which is a custom order I should be doing right now...

Monday, December 12, 2011

A last-minute sale

Now that I've finished all my markets for the year, I thought I'd have a little sale on my Felt Heart and Bird Kits. It's a simple project and suitable for adults or children from about 8 or so; the only things you need are a pair of scissors and the time to make them. 

They're on Felt if you're a NZ shopper, and Etsy for international orders, although the latter may not arrive until after Christmas.  But then, they look good all year round; look at his gorgeous garland that Claire made with the hearts for example.  

Ok, enough of the hard sell.  Have a lovely week!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Winding down

I'm really looking forward to this Saturday because it's time for the Auckland Art and Craft Fair again! I've got a table there, so please come and say hi if you're around.  If you've never been, it's a great place to find high quality NZ art, craft and design in one place.  Well worth going if you're not too booked up this weekend.

Speaking of being booked up, I am getting that way, so this will be my last market for the year.  I have quite a few wholesale and custom orders to try to fit in before Christmas, so 'winding down' really just refers to my market presence, not my head space!  Hope to see you on Saturday...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bunting galore

I spent a morning at kindy last week to make some bunting with Joshua and his friends. My plan was to make bunting from some plastic bags so that they can hang it outside without it getting too wet. I suppose the plastic will perish after a few months from being exposed to the sun, but it'll look good until it does. 

I made a second string this morning, and here it is brightening up our play hut in the garden.  This hut, by the way, was built by my clever husband using old kauri wallboards from when they renovated his workplace (an old villa). If you're not from NZ, this wood is now pretty priceless and I can't believe we've used it as shingles and kindling!  

Back to the bunting, I used heavier-style plastic carry bags and got the kids to cut it into squares and rectangles.  This was not easy for them, since the kindy scissors are a bit blunt for the job.  I used bias binding and sewed it all together using the zig zag stitch on my sewing machine. I love the random colours and sizes, although I kept a pretty tight reign on just how random things should be.  Organised randomness is the key, people :)

But that's not all the bunting-making that's been going on. I've also been making mini-bunting strips for our tree, using little pieces of fabric, all from the scrap basket.  The left-over triangles were used for Christmas cards, which will be on my table on Thursday night. I'll be at the Gladstone Primary School Christmas market (8 Seaview Terrace, Mt Albert) between 5 and 9. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Living architecture

Image from The Daily Mail
I saw something on TV the other night that was so beautiful and inspiring, I just had to share it here.  The clever locals who live in the Meghalaya province in India have been building living bridges for what looks like hundreds of years. They train the roots of the strangler fig into functional bridges and ladders which can be used after about 10 years and can last up to 500 years. It's a very wet region and I imagine very poor too, so this is the perfect sustainable solution: a bridge that will stay put in floods and won't decay.  Apart from the obvious environmental and economical benefits, these must also be some of the most beautiful structures around.  You really should watch the video; it's from the very worthwhile show 'Human Planet' that's on Prime at the moment.  

Monday, November 14, 2011


Every year around this time I start worrying about how much I have to do and how little time I have for everything. I made a start today with my felt kits, which are very popular round about now.  Here's a little look at my assembly line on the kitchen table today: so many bits and pieces to get ready before I can put them into the boxes!

Next year I will have more time, as Joshua starts school next May.  While I'm looking forward to being able to work more, I'm also conscious of how precious his last few months at home are. I'm taking things a bit slower this Christmas, and that means doing fewer markets and maybe not stocking my shops as well as I would like to.   

I'm doing Kraftbomb as always: the last Sunday of this month, plus the Sunday before Christmas. Also the Auckland Art and Craft Fair on the 10th of Dec and the Gladstone Primary School Market in Mt Albert on the 1st of Dec. I also have limited stock, including my felt Bird and Heart Kits, in my Etsy and Felt shops. If you would like to see what I have in stock here at home, please just email me and I can create a custom listing for you.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Back in the real world

I really do take my time, don't I? It's Wednesday already and I've only now found the time to report back on our most amazing time in Wellington.  Craig and I had 3 nights there and managed to see and do so many things without rushing around once. Bliss.  

Craft 2.0 was a great success for everyone; the market was constantly busy without being too crowded, and thanks to my wonderful assistant it was possible to do the rounds a couple of times and actually chat with other sellers. I left with a couple of treasures: another beautiful bird by Sarah Wigley and a crochet pot stand by Rachelle from Ahipara GirlSarah's bird already has a friend, as you can see in the photo.  I got the black one last year and it is one of my favourite objects in our house.  I was so pleased to see she had the birds there again, plus a perfect range of small hand-decorated bowls.The colours on Rachelle's pot holder caught my eye, but what really sold it to me was the little detail on the back.  So simple and unexpected. Apart from these two ladies, I was also glad to catch up with Shelley from Sweet William, and meet Joke from Hikkepik.  

On Sunday morning we went back to the Chaffers Dock Building for the food market where we had really great coffee, danishes, bratwurst rolls and fresh strawberries for breakfast.  Mmm. We happened across a small civic ceremony where the mayor of Wellington was giving an awkwardly-translated speech to thank the sister-city Beijing for their generous gift of 100 bicycles to the city.  We delivered some of my fabric (which will be transformed into really cute baby shoes) to  We visited the Wellington Art Gallery and Te Papa for the jointly-hosted Oceania exhibition; well worth the time and $10.  We walked in the sun and talked about what a great city it is to visit, and perhaps next time we'll bring the boys...

Thanks again Wellington for putting on the weather, culture and magic for us! xx

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I'm so excited about this weekend.  Craig and I will be footloose and child-free in the capital, hanging out at the cafes and second-hand clothing shops on Cuba St, staying out late and sleeping in, you get the idea... 

But mostly we'll be there for Craft 2.0 of course! 2.0 is always so much fun and a great reason to visit Wellington and meet some new people.  This market will be held in a new venue though, not at the New Dowse but at the Chaffers Dock Building in Herd St in the city;  Saturday between 10 and 4.  Please come and say hi if you're around :) 

I am also happy to announce that I've had some more fabric screen-printed and there is a full range available at the Holland Rd Yarn Company in Petone. I will also have some on my table on Saturday, together with some new pocket mirrors, key-chain pouches, covered buttons and everything else I can fit into my trolley case. 


Organised chaos

We went away for the last few days of the school holidays and I thought I'd just show you one of the beautiful sights we saw on our way south.  These photos were taken in the Indian Char Bagh Garden in the Hamilton Gardens.  The wild flowers are such a colourful contrast to the formal pavilion at the far end, and I love too how the garden is symmetrically landscaped around a central fountain, yet the planting seems completely random.  

These gardens keep getting better, and if you've never been it's well worth a trip. There are quite a few themed gardens now, like the Italian Renaissance, Japanese, English, American Modernist, and my favourite, the Chinese Scholars garden.  Craig and I used to live opposite the gardens about 10 years ago and it's been so nice to return to what used to feel like our back yard.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


It's spring, and the weather is all over the place, going from warm sunshine to heavy showers in minutes. I took some photos when the sun was out last week: our wisteria in full bloom, new strawberry and tomato plants. we've never had much luck with growing tomatoes, but fingers crossed for this year.  I wish for plump red fruit that squash when you squeeze it, that smell of warm summer days and will carry the taste of summer into autumn and beyond in the form of passata.  

Speaking of sauce, I am utterly inspired by this little book at the moment: Preserves by Pam Corbin, part of the River Cottage Handbook series.  Although it has many recipes using fruit that we don't get here in NZ (or shall I say, get cheaply), I marked about 7 must-trys.  I made the first today, and it's beyond delicious.  I'm not a big fan of lemon curd, but the Bramley Lemon curd is made with about 4 cooking apples and 2 lemons, and tastes just like Ms Corbin describes: 'like eating apples and custard: sofly sweet, tangy and quite, quite delicious'.  Couldn't have said it better myself. There's a copy of the recipe on the River Cottage website.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Colour therapy

Joshua did a painting of a road the other day using some test pots I have in my paint box.  I wish I'd given him a canvas; he's got a natural feel for line and colour and I think his painting would look great on the wall. I dug around my button tin today and came up with a similar colour scheme of fresh spring colours.  Hope you have a nice weekend and start to the school holidays!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

First Thursdays

It's time for First Thursdays again! It's on tonight at St Kevin's Arcade on K'Rd between 6 and 9 and promises to be a good night out with live painting, a DJ and free printmaking workshop by Alphabet City. And that's just in St Kevin's Arcade; there's a lot more art events and happening around K'Rd.  Here's an event map and list.

I managed to make a few new key chain pouches today, so come and get yours tonight.  I even made something for the man in your life: a couple of stag key chains backed with some manly fabric.  I call this range 'Ruby's Man' :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A spring giveaway

Last week I promised a giveaway and I bet you've been wondering whether I've changed my mind or something.  I'm sure that's been occupying your mind all week, hey :) 

Well, I've been meaning to take a gorgeous photo of the prize but no, I've been sewing clothes for myself instead.  But there will be a giveaway because this blog is 3 years old and I have 300 likers on FB and I think you nice people deserve a little thank you from me.

I'm going to put a little parcel together and randomly choose a name out of all my followers.  Of course I know my Blogger followers, but please send me an email (link in right-hand column) or message here if you follow me through a different feed like Feedburner or something else. I'll pull a name from a hat on Monday.  I'm doing the same over on Facebook so if you're a liker there you're in another draw.   

And here's a bit of Ruby in the Dust colour for your day.  I'm so attracted to these strong pastel colours, and when I look at all my product photos it really shows.  These are my brooches that I used to make a long, long time ago.  I loved them, especially in a group like this; I always thought they looked like a bowl of lollies.


A wee while ago my friend Bronwyn was doing a cull of her vintage sewing patterns, and I saw potential in this one, Simplicity 7395.  I liked the look of those patch pockets and have always had a thing for fold-over skirts. This pattern was great to use, and I'm very pleased with the result.  I used 2m of quilting cotton from Spotlight's bargain table, which was just enough for this project and cost me $14.  Not the cheapest I suppose, but I've been eyeing that print up forever, thinking it was out of place in the quilting section... It's a bit hard to see the pockets, but they're there and very generous.  It folds over at the back, and has a good overlap I believe (fingers crossed no sudden wind gust proves me wrong!).



I've never used a vintage pattern before (this one is dated 1975), and there were a few surprises, sizing being the biggest (geddit?).  The pattern was printed in one size, 16, and I'm a 12, so expected I'd need to take it in a lot after first sewing the pieces together. But no, it fits perfectly! The other anomaly was the length.  The illustration for the short skirt makes it look like an on the knee-number, but to get that length, I took about 12cm off the pattern.  So I can only gather that my mum's generation were extremely slim and tall creatures, or sizing has changed a great deal in the last 30-odd years.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Peasant blouse pattern tutorial

I made this blouse last night and thought I have to share the pattern.  It's a really good project if you're new to sewing, as it has only 2 seams and could take less than an hour to make. Let's be realistic and call it two hours, since you'll be making your own pattern and bias binding.
Peasant girl digging in garden
The pattern was inspired by a Cotton On top I have, and instructions from an amazing vintage sewing book called 'Needlework for Girls' by Isabel Horner.This book was first published in 1950 and since it's out of print, I don't think it would be a problem to share a couple of pages with you.  I've put it up on Scribd so you can read it in PDF format.  

The top can be made from 1.5m of fabric, preferably something with a bit of drape and weight.  I used satin, but silk, chiffon or something similar would work well too.  I know it's not the easiest fabrics to work with if you're a new sewer, but as long as you overlock or zig-zag your edges you should be ok.  You will also need some narrow elastic (I used 3mm wide) and about 80cm of bias binding, 2.5cm wide. It's best to make your own using the remnants from your top.

First, you need to make your pattern.  I'm a size 12, so if you're a bit bigger or smaller than me, you're going to have to play around with these numbers (but mostly with width in the body, I expect).

Here are my measurements.  The total height of the pattern piece is 65cm and total width 70cm.  The width can be adjusted for shorter sleeves, but the sleeve length is restricted to the width of your fabric (the maximum width of the pattern piece will be half of the fabric width, which means your total blouse width will be the same as the total fabric width).

Draw this onto a large piece of paper (wrapping or kraft paper) and cut out.   

Now fold your fabric in half, top edge on bottom edge.  Fold this in half side-ways (selvedge to selvedge). You now have a square or rectangle with folds on two sides.  

Pin the pattern piece to the fabric, positioning the piece onto the folded edges like this:

Cut out the piece but DO NOT CUT ON THE FOLDS! They are your friends. If you've done this right you now have a huge single piece of fabric resembling a cross with a hole in it. 

Overlock or zig-zag all the raw edges, except for the circle (the neck).  Fold the top half down with right sides together, top edge on bottom edge. Pin and sew the side seams together like this: 

Also fold, pin and stitch sleeves and bottom hem over by about 1cm. Leave a small gap in each sleeve hem to insert elastic through. You can also add elastic in the bottom hem if you'd like. Cut about 25cm of elastic and use a safety pin or elastic threader to feed it through the sleeve casing.  Try it for size and then stitch or knot the ends together.  

The last step is attaching the bias binding.  If you're new to sewing on bias binding, here's a tutorial, but be sure to use the PROPER way.  It looks so much better, honestly :)

Decide which side will be the back, and mark the middle of the neck. Fold one end of the bias binding over by about .5cm and pin to the neck, right sides together, starting at the point you just marked. Pin around the neck, ending in the same way with a small fold.  Sew it on and then pin the other side.  When you're finished you should have a small gap in the back of the neck for your elastic threader or safety pin, and about 60cm of elastic.  Try it on before you cut the elastic, and then stitch or knot the ends like you did for the sleeves.  

And you're done!  I can be a bit cryptic sometimes, so let me know if you need any more explanations; just email or leave a comment. 

Monday, September 19, 2011


Last week was a tough one in our house; all 4 of us had the flu, Craig had a Big Birthday and was too sick to do anything, Daniel was a wonderful tree in his schooI production and I finished a wholesale order of bags through it all.

Even though I felt like you-know-what, the bags were really fun to make.  As I mentioned before, I had Pauanesia's wonderful stash of vintage fabrics to work with, and I teamed it with some very colourful vintage trims (you can see a picture on my Pinterest page here).  I was in heaven working with all the saturated colour of vintage NZ and Australian tea towels and tablecloths, bobbles and fringing.

This Monday finds us all much better, the bags are on the shelf in the shop and now I can concentrate on getting a bit of sewing done for Kraftbomb this weekend.  I also have plans for a giveaway here and on FB this week, so come back again for that :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Painted wood

I mentioned my growing collection of vintage wooden-handled kitchen tools in my previous post and here's the evidence...  

I have a rule when I come across these: it has to be useful in my own kitchen.  Speaking of that, I used the Swiftwhip for the first time tonight and I can see the electric mixer's days are numbered...

The majority of my collection is by Skyline and were made in England.  These fish slices and spatula are Skyline, and the very useful little apple corer is by Dalson Ware in Australia.  By the bit of paint left on it, it used to be sage green. I'm tempted to paint it again.

These are also Skyline; one gets used a fair bit and the other one not much.  I use the pastry blender to cut in butter when making scones (and a little kitchen tip from me: I grate the butter first).  The vegetable cutter might come in handy when I host an 80's style dinner party :) 
This serrated tomato slicer is also Skyline and works really well.  I think it's a good idea to put the tomato on a chopping board and not to hold it in your hand when using this little number...

As you saw with the vegetable slicer, I don't always stick to my rule of usefulness.   I was so intrigued when I found this strange tool, I had to get it.  I thought I might use it for cutting pastry or pasta, but in my research today I discovered it's a herb cutter. It was made by Tala in England and it has a very interesting hinged mechanism.  I tried it out tonight and boy, does it shred herbs.  A keeper.