kcw - curious george dress

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

it's kcw (kids clothes week) again! this week i'll be sewing up a storm (whenever the electricity co-operates with me!) and getting some new clothes onto the kids' shelves. this season the theme for kcw is "storybook". when i first heard the theme, i didn't think i'd participate. after all, i have limited access to fabrics that aren't wax prints, which made me think it would be impossible to make something from a storybook. but after some inspiration from the kcw blog, i started thinking a little more creatively. i looked through some classic children's books and got some ideas. 
i decided to make something based on this sweet dress i saw in curious george. not only is curious george a classic, well loved children's character, but he is very loved in our house (known by his danish name, peter pedal).
at market, looking for fabrics, i saw this bright yellow fabric, and immediately thought of curious george. on closer inspection, i could see the paper boats on the fabric, and thought of the story, curious george rides a bike (or peter pedal in danish), where george makes the newspapers into paper boats. the perfect curious george fabric! 
lucy was the perfect choice for a curious george dress, as she happens to be a very curious george type child...inquisitive, always up to mischeif, but so sweet and charming that you can't ever be upset for long.
i made the dress using one of my favourite patterns, stof og stil 63011. the only problem is that i only have the pattern in a size 6. as lucy is, at best, a size 2-3, i had to make some adjustments. it's a little big, but i'd rather too big than too small. 
lucy was so excited about her new dress, that she kept running in to see if it was done, and cried when i asked her to try it on and wanted to take it off again. i think she likes having a "curious george" dress.
she said, "when i have my peter pedal dress, then i can pretend i'm a monkey and do all the things peter pedal does." The funny thing is that she already does.
is anyone else out there sewing along in kcw this season? link up to your projects in the comments below! i'd love to see what you're up to.

marina romper in navy

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

After the success of Lucy's birthday marina romper, Isabel asked if I could make one for her. Of course, I said yes. 
I had this navy fabric with bright pink and blue floral print, and it seemed like the best choice for a fun, active outfit. Instead of ties at the shoulders, I inserted elastic in the shoulder ties to make it easy to take on and off. Otherwise, a very fast and easy sewing project.
 Isabel loved it. Of course, in our house we call it a jumpsuit. So, every time Isabel wears it, she does this...
 Happy jumping, Isabel!

weekend

Monday, 6 October 2014

 This weekend was just the right tempo.

Lazy mornings, slow days, and afternoon naps.

Saturday it rained all day. Hard. 

The water seeped in through the windows, and I dashed around the house with small cloths, 
laying them under the windows to stop the flow.

The girls and I watched a movie together, but all we could hear was the sound of the rain, 
pounding on the tin roof. 

We had guests over for dinner, and everything felt so normal again.

Friends, food, laughter.

Sunday we woke up feeling under the weather, and took turns sleeping.

I managed to get behind the sewing machine and mend some things. 

Alexander was playing outside the fence and found a puppy, his legs tangled in twine.
He brought him home.

The kids have fallen in love. His name is Nick. 
They give him cuddles and fill his bowl with milk.

Perhaps we'll find a home for him.
Perhaps.

an ordinary day in september

Friday, 3 October 2014

After being asked to share more pictures of our life here in Rwanda, I decided to capture a single, ordinary day in pictures and words. This is Friday 26th September.
5:56am - the sun is up, and so is Lucy. We hear her shouting from our bedroom, "Come and see this lizard! Hello!"
6:10am - after dragging myself out of bed, I head outside to walk Sheila, our dog, around the yard so she can do her business.
6:25am - I get in a quick pilates workout. To my surprise, and the kids' amusement, Christian agrees to join me.
6:45am - the shepherd arrives with the day's milk, 2 litres. Christian goes out to get it while I head to the shower. Today there is both water pressure and electricity, which means I can use the shower (instead of filling a bucket and tipping it over my head). Happy dance!
7:00am - breakfast. Our weekday breakfast consists of weetbix and fresh fruit (banana and passionfruit) for Christian and I, and cornflakes and yoghurt for the kids.
7:15am - Christian's hair is looking shaggy. He has a late start today, so I give him a haircut, followed by Alexander. The girls get a fringe trim.
7:35am - our house help, Jackie, arrives, and is very amused to see me cutting hair.
8:30am - while I clean up all the hair, Alexander retells me last night's letter story.
8:40am - after playing a memory game with the girls, Christian heads off to work. Today he's meeting Marieth, our colleague, to do some paperwork and accounting.
8:45am - we start our first lesson of the day, talking about staying healthy and treating minor sickness. Of course, we play doctor. In the meantime, Lucy entertains herself with some animals in her bedroom, "It's the jungle!"
9:20am - we move on to letter work. Today it's the letter L.
9:30am - after giving the house a tidy up, Jackie is ready to start the laundry. There's a lot today.
9:45am - I'm surprised to see Christian back already. He starts cutting and grinding the meat we bought at market yesterday so it's ready to go.
10:10am - morning tea break. I cut up some pineapple and apple, and the kids enjoy eating it on the verandah. I make myself the first cup of coffee of the day.
10:30am - while the kids play outside, I sit down and work on colouring my clothing sketches. So much fun!
10:50am - Christian does some emailing. Although it's slow, the internet is working.
11:00am - after a good break, we're ready to settle down to work again. Handwriting, followed by maths.
11:25am -  I get started on lunch prep. We're having leek and potato soup.
11:50am - Alexander has finished his maths work, and starts practising the recorder. The girls have decided to help Jackie wash the verandah, which means they will get soaking wet.
12:00pm - Christian has been invited to a school graduation, which is supposed to start at 12. He heads out to find Fred, the student we know, so they can go together. As he leaves, he tells me he has no idea how long it will last.
12:05pm - the soup is on. While it's simmering, I get Alexander started on his Danish work. We follow it up with reading on the verandah.
12:35pm - the soup is done, and so is Alexander. While I'm putting the lunch out, there are a couple of dramas to attend to. The girls are soaked (as expected), and Alexander has scraped his shin on the obstacle course outside, and is screaming. I give him a cold cloth and the girls some dry clothes.
12:55pm - we finally sit down to lunch, the kids, Jackie and I.
1:20pm - Jackie cleans up after lunch, Alexander plays outside, and the girls play stop dance. I take Sheila for a walk around the yard again.
2:00pm - Alexander has started making himself a hockey stick with two sticks and masking tape. The girls want to make one too. I start working on some photo templates so I can make a photo book of our summer holiday.
2:45pm - Lucy is complaining that she's tired, so I put her to bed. Outside, Isabel and Alexander get into an argument. Isabel comes inside and lays on her bed, and Alexander heads outside the gate to play football/soccer with his friends from the neighbourhood.
3:00pm - Jackie has made bread.
3:40pm - the girls start arguing, so I put on a movie for them, "Emil og Ida". They love it!
3:55pm - Alexander is home again, asking if his friends can come in with him. I agree, but limit it to those he was with as lots of kids start running over to see if they can come in too.
4:20pm - Jackie is finishing up washing the floor, then heads home. We'll see her again on Monday.
4:50pm - Christian is home again, and is exhausted from his outing. I send the girls outside to play.
5:20pm - the girls and I take Sheila out for a walk, just as Gerard, the night guard, arrives. Alexander asks if he can stay home with Christian.
5:45pm - we walk quite far, and spot a few wildflowers on the edge of the corn fields. Isabel picks one for me, and one for Christian.
5:55pm - we arrive home from our walk. We help Christian water the strawberries, as we aren't allowed to go inside. Alexander has made a surprise for us - a lovely drawing.
6:05pm - I give the kids a warm shower while Christian gets dinner organised.
6:15pm - dinner time. We usually eat a light meal in the evening consisting of bread and spreads. Christian has also fried up some eggs. During dinner, the power goes out. Luckily, the candles on the table are lit, which make for a smooth transition. Once again, we are thankful we gave the kids their bath before dinner.
6:40pm - Isabel tries to draw by candlelight while we clean up after dinner and get ready for our Friday night movie. Christian makes popcorn and I put some lollies/candy in a bowl.
7:05pm - the kids have voted for "Emil og Ida" even though the girls have already seen it today. We laugh at Emil's funny antics, and Lucy is especially amused by how Emil's father shouts his name.
8:15pm - the movie is over, teeth are brushed, and it's time for bed. We get the kids settled, and Christian announces he's also ready for bed. It's easy to feel tired when it's so dark.
8:30pm - I make myself some peppermint tea and watch a movie. It's relaxing to watch by candlelight.
8:42pm - the power comes back on, so I walk around the house switching off lights.
10:30pm - the movie is over, teeth are brushed, and it's time for bed. 

Our days here are a different kind of ordinary. A lack of external activities means most of our days look, and feel, exactly the same. However, the unpredictability of the culture here means things can pop up or change at any time, making every day feel different. One thing we're learning is to stop and take advantage of things when you have them, such as water, electricity or internet.

To get a glimpse of our everyday life back in Denmark, you can see an ordinary day in January 2013February 2013, or September 2013. I'm planning to join Ali Edwards in documenting an entire week from 27th October to 2nd November. Care to join in?

blue leaf dress

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Just before we left for our summer holiday in Denmark, I decided to sew up a dress for Isabel, using this lovely leaf print fabric. I used a pattern I've used a few times before, so I knew it would be a good fit on Isabel. I sat sewing the night before we left (as you do), taking extra time and care to use french seams for a neat and tidy finish. I finished late, hung the dress where Isabel would see it, and stumbled off to bed. 
The next morning, Isabel and I were both excited to try the dress on her. I pulled it over her head, and it got stuck. No matter how I tried to pull it down, it wasn't going to go over her head. It's supposed to slip over her head! I started hyperventilating. We were leaving in just a few hours! I sat down and started looking at how I could adjust the dress. There were two decorative buttons on the back. I figured out that I could use the extra fabric in the fold to make an opening in the back of the dress.
I unpicked and resewed the back piece. Not perfect, but pretty good, and now it could fit over her head. And just in time, too. Isabel put the dress on, we loaded the car, and started the 3 hour drive to Kigali. 
We stopped at a restaurant with a playground (woo hoo! Such a rarity here), and I got a couple of shots of Isabel in her dress. She stood very patiently while I took the photos, then ran off to play on the playground again. 
Late night sewing is never a good idea. Those french seams must have used up more than the original seam allowance, because the fit across her chest is quite snug. Still, the blue looks great on her, and she really loves the dress.
Here's a little action shot of Isabel in her new dress, in the streets of Kigali. How fun are that guy's pants?

around here {august/september}

Monday, 29 September 2014

Around here, we have started our new school year. We celebrated the first day of school with pancakes for breakfast, new school supplies (dragged home with us from Denmark), and first day photos. We are using Oak Meadow this year, which is a natural, creative approach to learning, and it suits us to a T (with a couple of classic Fiona modifications, of course. I really can't help myself!)
Around here, we planted a vegetable garden. Christian spent days digging the insanely hard ground about 60 centimetres down (a technique called double digging, which we've learnt from our agricultural colleague). We took out the collection of seeds we've bought, been given, or taken from mature plants at our project's test garden, and let the kids loose. It was a great learning experience, and we can now see the beginnings of our vegetables poking their heads through the surface of the ground.
Around here, we've been baking like it's our job. Baked doughnuts, carrot cake, lots of bread, hamburger buns, cinnamon rolls, crackers (knækbrød...nom nom!), and coconut macaroons have made their way from the oven to the table. After a long period of no baking, it feels good to get into the kitchen and create something delicious with the kids.
Around here, Lucy finally gave up her dummy/sut/pacifier. We celebrated her transition from babyhood to childhood with chocolate cake, which she and Christian made together, reading from the book, "Farvel, Sut" (Goodbye, Dummy), and hanging her dummies on our very own dummy tree (a fun Danish tradition). She can look at them every day, but only cried and asked for them the first night. after that, we told her they were dirty, and she's been fine.
Around here, the rainy season has apparently started. We're not really sure what that means. We had a week of very heavy rain daily, followed by three hot and dry weeks. Apparently the rain will come later, which will be good for our plants.
Around here, we are celebrating that we have been granted a building permit for our development project. After seven months of applying, waiting, visiting different offices, finding more paperwork, and starting the process again, we are so thankful that we now have a green light to build. Christian is just itching to get back to his first love, building (even though pigs, cows and agriculture has been very educational) and has a fun "new" toy to help him make straight foundations, a rarity around here (our floors slope so much, that when you wash them, the water runs from one end of the house to the other). The first stage of building is a clinic and multi-purpose room, which we already have lots of plans for. 
Around here, there have days where I feel like it would have been better staying in bed. The car's timing belt broke (again!), Christian broke the kitchen tap off (who knew that was possible?), the kids complain, the water runs out, the electricity switches off in the middle of making dinner, the internet is too weak to load anything, people ask for more and more and more (being content and satisfied is a universal struggle), and we get corrected in church for singing the hymn wrong. At these moments, when I just want to crawl into bed and cover my head, I remember to turn to the One who called me here, and to cast my burdens on Him. 

What's been happening with you lately?

a bouquet of baby geraniums

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

this spring, three really good friends of mine gave birth to beautiful baby girls. i really wanted to make each of them a handmade gift, something both beautiful and original. for all three of my friends, their baby girl follows a big brother (or two, or three!), so i wanted to make some little dresses that were sweet and feminine. enter the geranium dress pattern. going all the way down to 0-3 months, this is a perfect pattern for new baby girl dresses. small, sweet, and well constructed. i pulled out three different fabrics and sewed up these sweet little dresses in a couple of days.
surprisingly enough, i've been a bit scared of trying buttonholes. after all, i spend a lot of time and energy constructing a beautiful little dress, and i don't want to ruin it with dodgy buttonholes! this time, however, i just needed to give it a shot. i tested it out (on a fabric scrap) and couldn't believe how easy it was! just look at those beautiful buttonholes!
here in rwanda, the selection of fabrics is limited to an amazing array of african wax prints (and their cheap chinese counterfeits), a very small collection of solid colours, and school uniform fabrics. buttons are also limited to school uniform buttons, but these fortunately go with any kind of fabric, so it's a bit of a winning situation there.
i wasn't sure how my friends would respond to the bold prints and strong colours of these three african print fabrics, so i chose some that mimic the fantastic design of classic danish children's brands (which i know my friends love).
we were really lucky that we managed to get back to denmark this summer for my sister in law's wedding, so i could give each of these gifts in person. i'm happy to say that each of my friends loved their handmade baby gifts, and the strong prints were a hit!
i've now got a couple more friends that have just given birth to sweet baby girls. the pattern is set. the only decision now is which amazing fabric to sew them up in!

what do you think about african wax prints? does anyone have a good suggestion for baby BOY patterns??
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