The past 6 months…

It’s been quite some time since I’ve blogged here. The past 6 months have been quite a whirlwind, in a good way, for me and my home based business, Alhumdulillah. I wanted to take a moment to document what an amazing year I have had so far. I have learned so much and met many amazing people. Here’s a little recap!

IMG_5602

January: I started regularly teaching sewing classes for kids and moms in my home. I taught roughly 3-4 classes a week from Jan-May. It was such a rewarding experience working with children and their moms and sharing this life skill with them. It always brings me joy to see the smiles on the children’s faces after they have completed a project, proudly telling their parents all they have learned. The funny thing is, I was learning just as much as they were! With every new project they requested, my skills were enhancing and my skill set increasing as I prepared each class before my students arrived, Alhumdulillah.

vinyl moon, fabric cut letters

February: I started making my homemade Ramadan Advent Calendars, that I make every year. I also started to research new ways to apply letters and numbers to my calendars- fabric paint was too time consuming. Orders were pouring in from the community daily and I needed a new faster method! I considered creating silk screens, cutting felt/fabric letters, or using heat press vinyl.

March: Because there was such an interest in the calendars, I decided to reopen my etsy shop after 5 years of being closed (I took a hiatus from my shop to teach as a Islamic school kindergarten teacher, and to thereafter focus on my small children)! This month I also decided I wanted to machine cut my letters- be it with fabric or vinyl- and I finally invested in my own Silhouette machine (it’s been on my wishlist for YEARS)! Best investment ever- bye bye fabric paint!

IMG_5978
April:
I was contacted by Salam Shop for a wholesale order of Ramadan Calendars using fabrics of their choice; we met up at Fabricland to choose colours! They also requested a different method for the letters and numbers using printer iron on transfers- but I felt that method was not very durable or long lasting. I really wanted to put my new Silhouette machine to good use- I was still in the researching/testing phase and I was running into a few problems 1) I didn’t have a supplier of bulk vinyl (my preferred method), 2) applying fabric cut letters, though cost effective, was not very efficient by sewing or gluing 3) I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go the silk screening way. So I stalked google, websites, and craft forums for hours and finally discovered a local supplier of vinyl which saved the day! Alhumdulillah, I could now cut all the letters and numbers for my calendars in vinyl with my Silhouette machine. Ahh, a few months of research and testing paid off.

May: My new method of cutting vinyl letters was great, and I had a great supplier… but the process of ironing on each and every vinyl letter and number was too time consuming! So I got my hands on my own professional heat press that could heat the numbers in one go- bye bye iron! Making calendars was much more efficient now.

IMG_6155b
June:
I attended my first real bazaar! It was put on by Kaamilah Boutique to Welcome Ramadan. My main item was my Ramadan Calendars- only because I had been sewing them daily for the past few months and didn’t really have time to develop new product lines! The bazaar was great and I met so many inspiring Muslimah entrepreneurs, Alhumdulillah.

IMG_6243
IMG_6240

Today: Just when I started finding my groove and just when I started creating new product lines for my etsy shop… I have decided to shut everything down! No more sewing classes, and my etsy shop will be closed. Why? It is all in preparation for the last nights of Ramadan, and also for my approaching due date for baby number 4 insha’Allah, Alhumdulillah. I really do look forward to continuing my home business in the future insha’Allah, but for the time being- I feel like I need to catch my breath and focus on this new season of my life with my growing family. I can’t say how truly grateful I am for being able to live my dream, even if for only a little while :).

Onto the next chapter!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Evolution of the Ramadan Advent Calendar

I have been sewing Ramadan Advent Calendars since 2009, subhanAllah! It is interesting to see how my sewing skills and also technique have evolved over the years- I have chosen all blue calendars that I have made over the years to compare :)

2009:

  • Applique pockets
  • fabric paint free-hand written letters
  • fabric paint free-hand written Arabic numbers
  • rainbow pockets
  • fringe trim
  • dowel and ribbon to hang

ramadanadvent

2011:

  • plain non-applique pockets
  • fabric paint stenciled letters
  • fabric paint stenciled Arabic numbers
  • one colour pockets
  • no trim
  • dowel and ribbon to hang

 

ramadanadvent2

2015:

  • plain non-applique pockets
  • fabric paint stenciled letters
  • fabric paint stenciled Arabic numbers
  • rainbow pockets
  • no trim
  • dowel and ribbon to hang

ramadanadvent4

2016:

  • plain non-applique pockets
  • vinyl transferred letters
  • vinyl transferred numbers
  • rainbow pockets
  • assorted trims
  • 3 ribbon loops to hang

IMG_6029

 

Pretty neat to see the progression… what will next year bring insha’Allah? :)

 

Save

Ramadan Advent Pocket Calendars

It’s that time of year again! I’m in Ramadan calendar making mode. Here is the batch I’ve made so far this year. Good news is, I’ve reopened my etsy shop, and you can purchase them there too inshaAllah. I’m really loving the purple one. What’s your favourite? Every time I make a new one my eldest wants to claim it as her own, haha. I think I’ve come a long way since I first made one for her many years ago, my sewing has improved and so has the quality of the Ramadan calendars. I really enjoy making them and seeing each one turn out uniquely different. Thinking about the children using them during Ramadan and counting down the days brings me great joy too. There are so many different treasures you can hide inside the pockets for your children to discover each day. My favourite ideas are: Quranic ayahs, hadiths, duas, dates, Ramadan activity cards, and candy. What are you doing to get ready for Ramadan this year? :)

IMG_5675 IMG_5680 IMG_5684 IMG_5689

Yarn Dolls

IMG_6990
Making yarn dolls with my daughter at her girls bookclub, brought back so many childhood memories. This was a craft to go along with their reading of, “The Last Safe House”, by Barbara Greenwood about the Underground Railroad. I had almost forgotten about ever making these types of dolls, until I was researching how to make corn husk dolls- like the one featured in the book. I had a look around at the grocery and craft store and couldn’t find any corn husk for sale, then I remembered this similar yarn doll I used to make as a kid. Once the girls got the hang of how to make a doll, they got creative and starting adding hair, and omitting legs, in favour of a yarn ‘dress’. My daughter even outfitted her doll with a doll dress from home. Alhumdulillah it was a really nice meeting where the girls each took turns to tell a story orally, and they did such a good job, mashaAllah- there were some very creative fictional, and very interesting true stories too! The girls also had a nice discussion that my friend led about slavery, safe houses, code language and the passage to Canada. We are looking forward to the next book club meeting- my daughter and I are usually put on bookclub craft duty… which we don’t mind one bit!

IMG_6999

Little lessons in sewing

IMG_3993
I’ve had a lot of beginner sewing students visit me this past month, and learn little lessons in sewing, and each time they come, gradually building on their skills.

IMG_4924
I wanted to share some of the projects they’ve worked on in our little sewing studio corner. I hope to keep taking snapshots of their completed projects, and doing an update each month. I love looking back on all the sewing creations, and keeping a photo log so I can show the ideas to new students who might want to try out a project. One unique thing about my sewing classes, is my students always go home with a completed project. It gives them a sense of accomplishment and they look forward to what we will create the next time we see each other.

12446216_1713104735580173_1761570052_n12479486_1676465645929854_2100165870_n12519292_1689336771314283_2073173792_n12519591_1577229399267927_1999638517_n12599089_166476260393151_216243377_n12725189_594268870725646_881780750_n12783491_581747225313239_1447913967_n12747812_938558436231321_1416849001_n10268974_1685774361665381_2005544653_n12501733_1714480318772184_1795319078_n12534325_1650812008517397_98814068_n12677661_171017903271527_2033298423_n

Crowns for all

Somehow when my daughter’s friends come over to visit, she always convinces them to do a sewing session, that I end up overseeing. Why can’t they just PLAY like normal kids, haha. Jokes aside though, sewing is something my daughter really enjoys and she loves sharing her passion with her friends. So the other day when my husband’s 6 year old sister came over, my eldest convinced her that they all needed handmade princess crowns. First step was creating a template by drawing a crown on a piece of paper, making sure it was long enough to go around the circumference of everyone’s head (with a little extra for seam allowance and velcro overlap). Then the girls chose their fabrics, and embellishments- the best part! Buttons, and sequins, and ribbons, oh my! They turned out really great masha’Allah.

At times like this, I wish I were a kid again. The possibilities for pretend play costumes are endless! My daughter has already made a template for a superhero mask. She has a dual personality and can be very girly at times, and very tom boyish too. I sometimes joke to my husband that she is the son he never had! It reminds me of that test I took from the book “Why Gender Matters,” by Leonard Sax, I believe it was- where you determine whether you were more masculine or feminine. I turned out to be neither masculine nor feminine, which when I think deeply about it, is probably true- but is just a little bit strange! Either way, the great thing about pretend play- is you can become anyone you imagine to be. I am looking forward to more sewing, and I am hopeful for a basket full of handmade dress-up costumes in the near future.

IMG_5621 IMG_5637 IMG_5649

 

Handmade Cloth Dolls

IMG_5599

Ever since I was 3 years old I’ve always been fascinated by handmade dolls. It was around that time that my elder brother and I went into a small shop full of amazing handmade treasures. The lady there was so kind, and gifted my brother a stuffed bear, and me a handmade doll. The doll’s skirt could be flipped up to reveal another doll underneath. I still have that doll until this very day and I marvel at it’s craftsmanship. One day I plan to try and make a similar one insha’Allah. For now though, I’ve just been practicing making my own doll sewing patterns, and coming up with dolls like these ones here. My daughters are really enjoying them, Alhumdulillah. These three are a little bigger than the first dolls I made, and I think this size is just perfect for toddler arms to hold. For my next adventure in doll making, I’d like to try to make a doll with yarn hair, a round head, and rounder feet. Making one of those dolls, will be many hours in the making though, so I am in no rush right now as my hands are full with my 3 girls.

Bits of Crochet

IMG_5583

With a new niece in the family coming this Spring inshaAllah, I decided to make a little something handmade for the wee bundle of joy. I’ve always wanted to try crocheting baby booties, and they were surprisingly easy to whip up. In fact they were so easy to make, my eldest made a pair for her dolly! I also added a matching baby bonnet for good measure. Once you get started in a certain craft, it seems you can’t stop. The excitement of creating something and seeing the finished project is just so satisfying. So I also crocheted little bow hair clips, in a variety of colours! I think my bout of crocheting may have come to an end though, as I find myself being drawn to the sewing machine… I am thinking of making a quilt for each of my daughters, though that is no easy feat! If you’re interested in making any of these things, I found them via a simple google search- there are so so many patterns and tutorials online.

IMG_5587

Rope Baskets

Well we’ve seen rope baskets all over the crafty net and just had to try it out ourselves. I had a bit of rope that I purchased when we went camping last summer, with the intentions of using it as a clothesline for wet clothes, but I never did end up using it (it was much too cold when we went camping for me to brave any sort of swimming). So I made a sweet little basket that my toddler immediately claimed for herself to hold her little bonhommes, blocks, and toys. And naturally, as soon as my eldest daughter saw what I was up to, she wanted to get in on the basket making wagon as well. Her and I have experimented with embroidery floss as bit, different coloured thread, ribbon, and making different sized baskets. There are so many different things we can use these baskets for- sewing notions, toys, books. I really like how, if I ever need anything organized at home, I can just whip up a basket to the size I require! We really have our eye on try out dying the rope before we sew it together, hopefully it’s something we will try out next, insha’Allah!

IMG_5528 IMG_5534 IMG_5538

Milk Bag Mats

IMG_5112

We have been collecting milk bags to give to my Grandmother for years and years. Her church group uses them to make milk bag mats for people in need who have no beds. I have never explored the idea further, until a friend of mine and I attended a milk bag mat making workshop as a part of our Girl Guide training. We learned how to cut milk bags to make plastic yarn that we could in turn weave into mats. The milk bags are used because they are durable, washable, water and UV ray resistant, and repel bugs.

We borrowed a few wooden frames from one of the Girl Guide leaders who organized the workshop, and we taught our girls at Girl Guides how to make mats. We had everyone involved from leaders, parent volunteers, Sparks, Brownies, and Guides. The girls caught on pretty quickly and were able to complete a mat in an hour and half, from start to finish. Great teamwork! I’ve also seen these mats crocheted instead of woven, but I can definitely see how much more work that is! The crocheted ones seem a bit more matted too, and not as plush when sat on. So in terms of time to complete and finished product, I would definitely recommend the weaving method. The frame we used completed half a mat, so two completed mats were then hand-sewn together with the plastic yarn to make one full adult mat.

Another type of mat we saw at the workshop was a small square that the leaders have the girls make as sit-upons for camps and outdoor gatherings. I have these on my to-do list! You simply have to make a wooden frame that is the length and width of two plastic bag loops tied together, and that will be the dimensions of your sit-upon. The leader at the workshop also recommended using screws instead of nails, since they are more durable, and easily to loop the milk bags on.

Overall it was a great project on recycling, and community service. Alhumdulillah I was glad to learn about it and share it with the girls!