Bunny ear headbands: a tutorial

Orange dot and tan linen bunny ear headbands for Easter

I’m not a huge fan of the fluffy bunny ear headbands that abound at Easter but these, my loves, are an entirely different kettle of fish. These I love. These transcend festive timelines and should, nay SHALT, be worn at any time of year.

The beauty of this tutorial is in the simplicity of the wire insert. No need to sew casings, thread wire delicately through small spaces; the fabric alone and the coiled wire I use is enough to get your ears perky but malleable. Not a phrase I thought I would ever write.

What you need:

Supplies for Easter bunny ear headband

  • Fabric – 1/4 metre is plenty.
  • Plastic headband form (1.5cm wide, 38cm around the outside arc).
  • 45cm florist’s wire or other thin, malleable wire.

What to do:

1. Cut the following pieces from your fabric:

a) One rectangle 5cm x 39-40cm.

b) two rectangular pieces 5.5cm x 35cm that will end up looking like this:

Bunny ear headband pattern measurements_edited-1

2. But let’s make our headband cover first.  With right sides of your fabric together, sew the first piece of fabric into a tube using a 3mm seam. I just use the narrow part of my presser foot as a guide i.e. sew keeping the left hand side of the presser foot on the outside edge of your fabric.

3. Turn the tube so that the right side is now on the outside. Turning tubes this narrow can be a bit of a pain. If you’re struggling, this is a good method. I actually have a little device I bought that helps with this process. Any good sewing shop should have one.

Tube of fabric for bunny ear headband

4. Take your two rectangular pieces and lay them right side together. Measure and mark 6cm from one end, then measure and mark 23 cm on from that.

5. From the end of your 23cm long marking, freehand some curvy bunny ears to each end of your fabric rectangle. These don’t have to be perfect (and indeed better if they’re not in my view because you show me a perfect bunny and I’ll show you…well, never mind but I will show you if you want me to) so don’t be too concerned about getting it completely even.

Bunny ear pattern drawn onto fabric strip

6. Cut out 2 of your bunny ear pattern and sew (right side together) using the same 3mm seam allowance, leaving a 5cm gap to turn your fabric right side out.

7.  Once you’ve turned your ears right side out, you might like to gently press them. Or not, if you’re a rough nut like that.

8. At each end of your wire, make a rough coil like this:

Wire insert for bunny ear headbands

When you lay your wire on your turned out bunny ears, the coils should reach about 2/3 of the way towards each end.

9. Insert wire into your ears. You will need to bend it to get it in and then manipulate it straight again once it’s inside.

10. Sew your 5cm gap closed.

11. Slip your thin fabric tube over your headband form and either glue or sew ends closed.

12. Tie on your bunny ears wherever you like ’em. If you’re a lopsided bunny-lover, the world is your oyster at this point.

Fan of the droopy ear?

Tan linen bunny ears headband

I used slightly different measurements for the longer linen ears : 23 cm in the middle and 11cm at each end. Also, I had to wind two pieces of wire together so the insert was long enough.

If your headband form is a different size I think this works as a general rule for covering: measure the width, double it and then add 2cm extra which allows for wriggle room and a 3mm seam allowance.

Orange dot and tan linen bunny ear headbands

Obviously these would look a lot better if I had actual kids to model them but since these are Easter gifts for my girls,  and we are still 3 sleeps out, we will have to make do with these pics sans heads.

orange dot bunny ears headband 2

I’ll update the post after Easter to include photos of  them being worn. If they’re worn. I’m tipping they will be. But then I’ve been wrong in the past. That one time. Just that one time.

We are staying put this Easter and I am looking forward to a quiet long weekend. Does anyone have extra-exciting plans this chocolate-gilded weekend? Please someone tell me they are egg hunting in the gardens of Raffles in Singapore or attending mass at St Peters. Whatever your plans be they modest or grand, travel safely my darlings and, if you do celebrate, Happy Easter. If you don’t, just grab the chocolate anyway yeah?


Homemade edible confetti: a tutorial

Edible cake confetti 5

Edible confetti. What’s not to love.

edible cake confetti 4

After I had the idea I googled it and it turns out you can actually buy this stuff. Hence the “homemade” in the title of this post. But making it yourself means you can control the colours and the additives. And spend time when you should otherwise be doing mundane housework enjoying the meditative qualities of kneading fondant icing and flexing your punching muscles.

Edible confetti on cake on white stand

What you need:

  • Fondant icing (I use Orchard brand, available in large supermarkets here).
  • Gel food colouring (I use Americolour and Wiltons brands).
  • Icing sugar and a sieve
  • Baking paper
  • Paper punch (a handheld circular punch works best for this project)
  • Rolling pin
  • Cake cooling rack (good but not essential).

Edible confetti on cake 1

What to do:

1. Start by sifting some icing sugar through your sieve onto a corner of your workspace. Make a little pile of it. You’ll use this to dry the fondant out a bit as you knead it.

2. Tear off a golf-ball sized piece of fondant and knead until smooth and pliable. If it is too sticky, add some sieved icing sugar.

3. Add a drop or two of food colouring. These gel colours are very intense and you only need a little. Better to add a little and more as needed.

4. Knead the colour through the icing until it is even, adding icing sugar as you go to keep it soft but not sticky. It tolerates quite a lot of icing sugar being added without compromising the texture or colour so don’t be afraid to add a fair bit if required.

5. Roll out your ball of fondant as thinly as you can between two sheets of baking paper. It doesn’t have to be paper-thin – just thin enough to get into the paper punch.

Green fondant icing rolled out

Peel your flattened fondant off the paper and place on another piece of baking paper on a tray to dry for a few hours. When it is dry and you can lift the whole thing off the paper without it drooping too much, transfer it to a cake cooling rack if you have one to let the air get to all sides of it. If not, just leave it on the tray and allow to dry for 24 hours.

Once the icing is stiff enough, get punching.

Icing with paper punch

Try not to do this:

Edible confetti on my fingers

That’s it.

I am loving how this looks. Quite “spectacleear”, as my 4 year old would say.

Edible cake confetti 2

And there you were thinking your paper punches were limited to use with paper, washi tape, masking tape, soap and fabric. Oh, you!

This is a post in twirling betty’s paper punch-a-palooza series. If you enjoyed it, you might also like:

1. Paper punch stencils

2. Paper punch fabric luggage tags

3. Paper punch washi tape stickers

4. Paper punch fabric confetti

4. Paper punch sparkly snowflake envelope

5. Paper punch soap confetti

6. Paper punch washi tape cake stand decoration

7. Paper punch stencilling on clothes with masking tape or freezer paper

Large paper punch-a-palooza series header

Decorating clothes with free motion sewing: a tutorial

Daisy top for Daisy

It’s been babypalooza around here. No, I have not been delivered of any more of my own (“delivered of” – love that phrase,  used most recently by Buck Palace to announce bonny Prince George’s arrival), but friends and family are popping them out all over the place.

Most recently, my darling brother-in-law and his bewdiful wife had a baby girl.

To celebrate I made her this little top using the free sewing technique I’ve talked about before when I made these napkins, and these personalised paper gift bags.

Now as you can see, this is not a neat and perfect art. By its very definition free motion sewing gives a sketchy, scribbly look which I adore but won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

Close-up free-motion Daisy

But if it is, then that is awesome on a stick and here’s a little how-to.

What you need:

  • Garment to sew onto (duh!)
  • Free motion sewing foot
  • Eraser pen for fabric
  • Your design.

What to do:

1. Print your design onto paper and trim it down so you can slip it under your garment.

2. Trace the design using your eraser pen. If the fabric is too thick to see the pattern underneath, you may wish to use another method for transferring your design like a transfer pencil and hot iron. However be aware that not all transfer pencils wash out so make sure you use one that does.

Flower pattern

3. Fit your free motion sewing foot to your sewing machine. I have a standard Brother foot that I modified using this really excellent tutorial. You don’t have to modify your foot – just makes life a bit easier. I’m all for easier.

Modifiedf free motion sewing foot

4. Sew over your design.  Free motion sewing can take a little bit of getting used too so you might want to practise on some scraps first. Here are some good tips and here’s a video of a guy doing a free motion sewing portrait. It’s amazing but his fingers seem to go so very close to the needle it makes me shudder. No blood on the fabric – that’s my rule.

T-shirt for Daisy

You’ll notice how the fabric has puckered – especially around the flowers. That’s what happens with stretchy material and, again, I like it because it gives texture. However, if you want a flatter result, simply iron some tear-out or wash-out stabiliser behind your design before you begin.

So can you guess my niece’s name?  And no, smart arse, it’s not Roughly-Sketched Indeterminate Flower.

And I’m worried you might think they called her Carnation.

Free motion Daisy with stem

It’s a daisy, people. And so is she.

PS: Alex and Jo own and run the fabulous  and beautiful St Isidore on the NSW South Coast. The restaurant is in both the 2013 Gourmet Traveller’s Restaurant Guide and the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide. Do go and give it a go if you’re in that part of the world and tell ’em I sent you. It’s a cracker.

Washi tape jam jar lids: how-to

 Washi tape confetti jam jar lid

Ahhhh washi tape: is there anything thou canst not improve?

confetti washi tape jam jar lids

I have been bottling up a storm lately. Well, when I say lately, I pretty much just mean today. I bought 17kg of tomatoes at the farmers’ market this morning and at this point have 4kgs worth bottled and sitting on my shelf contemplating a saucy life. But more on my direct transition from my thirties to nonna-hood in a later post.

  Jam jar lids with washi tape

For now, I wanted to share another way you can use washi tape; to prettify the lids of your homemade bottled stuff.

Washi tape strips on jam jar lidI LOVE giving away bottles of stuff I’ve made but I’m always slightly irked by the crappy lids on my oft-recycled jars and bottles. Baking paper and baker’s twine are nice but they are outta there once the bottle is opened for the first time.

Washi tape around edge of jam jar lid_edited-1

Decorate your tops with washi tape and the lids will stay as perty as your preserves within.

Trio of washi taped lids

If your lids are a dark colour or heavily patterned, pop a small disc of white paper on top before you start to washi (yes, it’s a verb now too) so your tape is light and bright.

Strips of washi tape on white disc

Trim overhanging bits with an exacto knife or that surgical scalpel you’ve had lying about in the top drawer.

Trim edge of washi tape from jam jar lid

PS: The stuff in these bottles was meant to be plum jam but it never set. So I called it plum sauce. And it was delish on crepes.

ON AIR sign: a tutorial

ON AIR lamp lit up

I came across this SMYG lamp on my most recent foray to IKEA and I gots me an idea. I do love an IKEA lamp hack. Here’s my last one.

I initially bought it with the idea of personalising it for my niece’s birthday but then she’s in the US and this sucker is a bit heavy to post overseas. Not to mention the whole plug conversion pain in the arseyness. It’s a word. You know it is.

So I had a little ponder about things that light up and as I’ve always loved old-fashioned ON AIR signs thought I’d have a crack at that.

ON AIR lamp 2

What you need:

IKEA SMYG lamp. In Australia the product number is: 002.017.77.

Spray paint

Exacto knife or paper scalpel of some description

A bit o’ tape.

What to do.

1. Print your stencil then carefully cut it out using your exacto knife. Go slowly. I give you that advice from bitter experience.

I originally wanted to use Helvetica as my font but the capital “R” was not right. So I ended up using Arial Bold printed at 120 points. I like its simple, utilitarian look.

TIP: Don’t forget to save your in-between-y bits like the centre of the “O”, “A” and “R”.

2. Unscrew the plastic panel from your lamp.

3. Cut your stencil down to a size that will fit nicely on the panel and then tape it on.

ON AIR stencil on plastic panel

Initially I has thought to use double sided tape around each letter to get it to really sit flush against the plastic. But I gave up on that idea as too much like hard work and just used double sided tape for the centre bits of the “O” etc. So just really nestle your paper on down as close to the plastic as you can and tape the sides on like this:

ON AIR stencil taped to panel

If some bits of the stencil are clearly sitting up a bit from the stencil, you can use little bits of double sided tape here and there to get any recalcitrant sticky-uppy bits sitting really  flat.

4. Tape a plastic bag around the rest of the plastic panel so you don’t get any paint on it.

ON AIR stencil ready to be sprayed

5. Spray your plastic panel. With spray paint. What are you? A wild cat?

Because I’m impatient, I gave mine two coats of White Knight Quick Dry Gloss Enamel in Royal Blue. If you’re more patient that I, three or even four coats would give a really solid look.

6. Allow to dry. If you have had some leakage out the sides of your stencil, you can use a cotton tip dipped lightly (don’t soak it) in nail polish remover to carefully clean those up. I didn’t have any leakage (on my stencil – just so we’re clear) , but there was some slight fuzziness around a couple of edges that messed with my perfectionist tendencies. I did some really minor cotton tip work.

ON AIR lamp close up

7. Plug it in, light it up and pretend you’re Daddy Warbucks sending out a message to Annie’s real parents.

You can rotate the angle of the lamp. Like so many IKEA products, it’s a clever little piece of design.

ON AIR lamp

It’s also designed to be hung on the wall. Which I think I’ll do but haven’t decided quite where yet.

Other ideas: personalise with a name; make one as  nightlight for a baby or toddler’s room and stencil “SLEEP” on it. When it’s on, the kid knows what it says and to stay the dickens in bed. We could have used one of those.

Either way, I think if you have a go I think you’ll feel pretty smyg about the results. Annoyingly smyg.

IKEA Smyg lamp

Image source: ikea.com.au

Simple felt and fabric ipad cover: a tutorial

I love any opportunity to make something to snuggle something else within. And this ipad case is snuggly in extremis.

I hit on the idea (and it slapped me for being so presumptuous) the night before our trip to Far North Queensland last year. I’ve been using it ever since and it has held up like a trooper. I also love a pretty trooper.

Yet another thing I love is the ikat-inspired fabric.

Ikat, as I’m sure you know, is so hot right now. But did you know real ikat has been hot in Indonesia since the dawn o’ time? Did you also know we get the English word “amok” from Indonesian? As in “she saw swathes of authentic ikat  in Jakarta and very nearly ran amok”.

What you need:

  • Two pieces 3mm (1/8″) thick wool felt. Each piece measures 27cm x 22cm (10 1/2 ” x 8 3/4″)
  • 1 piece fabric measuring 25cm x 20cm (9 3/4″ x 7 3/4″) (if your fabric frays easily, you may wish to add an extra centimetre or 1/2 inch to the fabric measurements then hem your piece to end up with a rectangle 25cm x 20cm. We are going to stitch along the very edge of the fabric though so if it’s not too bad, just cut straight to size. You could also dab some Fray Stoppa or similar around the edges if you’re concerned.
  • 1 piece sturdy ribbon or twill, 60cm (approx 23 1/2″) in length and at least 2.5cm (1″) in width.
  • Elastic of a similar width to your ribbon. It needn’t be exact.

What to do:

1. Place your fabric in the middle of the sheet of felt that will be the front of your cover. Just eyeball it. Choose an overlocking-type stitch (or even just a tight zig-zag) on your machine and sew the fabric to the felt.

2. Now, leaving a seam allowance of approximately 1/2cm or 1/4″, sew your front cover to the back.

Case done!

3. Fold each end of your ribbon or twill in 2cm (3/4 “). Fold another 2cm (3/4”) so the messy ends are now effectively hidden and stitch around the square end you’ve created to make it really secure.

4. Sew your elastic to each end of the ribbon to create a loop. Make sure the elastic is slack as you sew it.

The last up-close photo shows you little bits of pilling on the felt and wear on the elastic. Bear in mind though, I have been using this baby non-stop for over 12 months and I take my ipad pretty much everywhere.

Slip your ipad in, slip the ribbon loop over to secure and sigh with contentment. Maybe stroke your pretty little trooper just a bit. Up to you.

As if you won’t.

And if I need tougher protection, I snuggle my snuggly case into this very fab protective case.

It was designed in Italy, made in China and I bought it in New Zealand. So it was well-travelled before I even met it. I love a well-travelled travel companion. This is the brand.

Let me know if you make one my loves.

Fabric (clip) magnets : a tutorial

Now that you know how to make my fabric clips, don’t feel constrained to use them just in your hair.

They make cute magnets too.

All you need are these things:

It appears I have a thing for making magnets. Oh well, better that than cocaine I suppose.

The photo at top is me as a little tacker with one of our succession of beloved labradors. Owners of dogs will be familiar with the “Flat-eared I’m not enjoying this and I will not deign to look at you” face that Alistair is sporting. Perhaps that’s where the expression “hang dog face” comes from?

And there’s nothing like some animal print to enliven your fridge front and pep up the display of your wedding photos.

Yep, that’s us almost 12 years ago on our wedding day in Bali.  Some of those flower petals went down my cleavage and the lining of that top is still stained pink and red in places. Not that I wear my wedding dress that often any more. Mainly just to pick up the kids from school these days really. Oh, and during the summer solstice of course. Same as everyone really.

In truth, these days one would struggle to fit oneself in that dress. Bloody child birthing. Yep, I’m blaming the whole thing on my kids.

twirling betty’s fabric clips : a tutorial

These little clips kicked off the whole shebang.

Back when I came up with these in 2007, twirling betty didn’t even exist. All that existed was my daughter’s crazy baby hair: a  mohawk at the top  and mullet at the back. I christened it (the hair, not the child) a momullet.

Sick to death of twee clips for little girls in predictable pinks, I decided to have a go at making my own. And these clips were born.

It wasn’t as simple as the following tutorial would have you believe. There were lots of trials and even more errors but I finally hit on the perfect prototype when I discovered tacky craft glue. Ahhh tacky craft glue – let me count the ways I love thee.

So here, my darlings, is a tutorial for the craft that pretty much started it all for me.

Look how little my model was back then. Now, after I burst into song (usually from the musical Annie) in front of her friends she puts questions to her friends along these lines (and this one is an actual quote): “My mum: cool or weird?”. For the record, her friend just shrugged.

And you know what I always say: it wouldn’t be twirling betty without polka dots now would it?

Happy weekend everyone!

EDITED TO ADD: In response to queries (sorry I didn’t include this originally): in the old days I had to search high and low for my supplies – especially the particular kind of clips I like. After a quick search I found them here (for Aussies) and here (for US and European readers).

I really don’t recommend alligator clips ie. the ones with ridges  along the bottom. They just don’t grip hair (especially fine hair) all that well. For great grip, simply line the inside of your clips with a strip of felt or thin craft foam. I use a silicone gel to line mine but, again, a pain to source and buy in small lots.

Fabric lamp shade (IKEA hack): a tutorial

I have always been an IKEA fan. When we lived in Rome pretty much our entire apartment was furnished with IKEA furniture. Which means that when I am wandering around this Swedish store in far-flung antipodean Melbourne I feel like I am in Rome. How’s that for bang for your international buck!

In fact, just a glimpse of the bedside tables we had in Italy can reduce me to nostalgic tears. Sometimes it’s all I can do not to throw myself down onto the closest Ektorp and bawl my eyes out.

I generally manage to control myself but that’s not to say my handsome husband hasn’t found me misty-eyed and gently fondling the familiar curves of a white plastic chair.

Aaaaanyhoohaa, enough about my inappropriate advances on Swedish furniture and on to the tutorial for this lovely fabric covered lamp.

What you’ll need:

  •  IKEA Tassa Natt lamp. The article number, in Australia at least, is 201.316.08


  •  Fabric.
  • Sticky tape
  •  A low-wattage bulb. I used 15 watts.

What to do:

1. Unscrew front plastic cover from lamp and take off the annoying whimsical dancing frogs.

2. Use the paper as a template to cut your fabric to size. Alternatively, the measurements are roughly (and you can be a bit rough with this) : 25cm x 17.7cm or 10″ x 7″”.

If you want to hem your fabric, add whatever your seam allowance will be to the measurements above.

You can just use a rectangle of fabric and either hem the edges (although I, true to form, didn’t bother) or, as you can see in the next photo, simply sew some cute ribbon or trim along each edge.

3. Using sticky tape on the inside edges, attach fabric to plastic cover.

4. Whack that sucker back into its mounting frame (which you will have previously screwed into your wall)

5. Let the line shine in.

Easy, non? Mais oui.

One word of caution: there is always a risk of fire danger when you add materials to a lamp (or indeed anything that generates heat). I recommend using a very low wattage bulb as I have (15 watts) which, even after hours of continuously being on, was barely warm. That said, this is probably better as a mood light rather than something you would leave on all night long in your or your child’s room.

No need to limit ourselves to kids’ bedrooms though.

I think two of these (perhaps not so much in this fabric) – one either side of a headboard  – or indeed in any room would look fab. In fact, I am working on some wall decorating in our living room and think this might be just the trick in among our pictures.

I also love that the fabric can be changed so easily – always a good thing for someone like me who falls in love with something new every other day.

Here’s the lamp in situ. This is Sophia’s little nook. We live in a small house so when I put both my girls into a bedroom together a year or so ago, I wanted to create a tiny space for Sophia to retreat into if she felt the need. A space just for her. A curtain (IKEA, of course) strung between her wardrobe and the wall makes the perfect little spot.

She likes to sit and read books in there.

Although she’s getting kind of long now. We might need to start thinking about an extension.

So there you have it my darlings, a lovely fabric lamp for a cosy space. I hope you are inspired to brave the never-ending maze of halls and pathways at IKEA and have a go at your own. Take lots of water and a GPS if you want to be absolutely sure you’ll make it back out alive.

Braided headband with beads: a (brief 5 step) tutorial

My most darling young whippersnapper of a friend (well, she’s 23 but I still consider that whippering age) went to an outdoor musical festival the other day. Frankly, I can’t think of anything worse than sloshing around in the dirt with thousands of other dirty music lovers, but this is apparently what the young folk like to do. You dig?

So, she was casting around for some kind of accessories to wear on the day that was in keeping with the whole festival vibe so I decided to make her something that would fit the bill and whipped up (not to be confused with whippersnappered up  (vb) : to acquire oneself a cool, young thing) this headband.

It’s just strands of lovely, soft leather braided, tied and then strung with beads.

I actually love it and would totes wear it if I was ever on my way to a mud pit. I mean mosh pit. I mean fancy dress party dressed as Stevie Nicks. So, um, never. But I do like it.

If you would like to make your own, the simple instructions are:

1. Take 3 long pieces of soft leather and hold them around your head as if the piece were finished and mark the points on your strips where your fingers meet at the back of your head.

2. Now take your strands and slide a rubber band onto them and tie it off at the first point you have marked.

3. Carefully plait your leather strands all the way from the rubber band to your second marked point. Test your plait for length around your head and either extend or unplait if necessary.

4. Sew or otherwise secure the three strands together at the point where your fingers met ie, the circumference of your head.

5. Decorate the ends of your strips with beads or whatever takes your fancy.

We went for a really natural, neutral look but you could go all tribal on this thing’s arse and weave on feathers at different points or twist fabric scraps along the ends.

If it had occurred to me earlier, I would have woven a really thin strip of cute fabric into the braided bit. So if you make one and do that, do send me a photo of it. And of you. Dead centre of the mosh pit thanks.