Friday, 3 December 2010

Super Hero Ninja Cape

My first commission! An adult sized super hero cape with a ninja logo and eye mask.
Look how tiny my satin stitch had to be to keep the detail on the ninja. 
You can't see them?- that's right! I think the width of his sword is only about 5ml so it was eye straining work. I should also add that I love interfacing to stabilize the fabric so it won't fray and also wonderful hem tape which I cut into tiny tiny bits to hold all of it together whilst sewing.
But even with all this help I could not do the letters, so I used the freezer paper method to make a stencil and paint them on.
The mask is made of cotton and rimmed in bias binding tape, mostly by hand.
I like how this turned out and I hope the buyer is happy, but most especially I hope they help a young hero kick some bad guy ass. :)

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Reworked for Oxfam II

My newest reworkings for Oxfam:

This corset was stained and was a bright white underneath the muck. I stained it with tea and sewed on the front lace panel and sewed on the buttons.
Next was a grey skirt which just needed a little something so I made a removable brooch of Zipper flowers:
And finally, a little cupcake bag/tote, made from some place mats and a scrap of the sweetest cupcake fabric.

Hopefully these will give you some inspiration to look at you clothes in a different light :)

Plush Baby Elephant Tutorial

I finally got round to creating the tutorial for this little guy that was requested so often. Just in time too- only 2 months crafting time left till Christmas! This elephant is perfect for kids and if making it for babies you could replace the eyes with a bit of sewn fabric or paint them on with fabric paint. 
Let's start:
 You will need some fabric- I used a cotton print of a medium weight (for home furnishings) but I have made this pattern using a much lighter, softer cotton and also corduroy. I used a piece about the size of 4x A4 notepad sheets. But the pattern can easily be scaled up or down, just make all the pieces larger or smaller together. You'll also need some stuffing  (I used fibre fill but you can use fabric scraps, old pillow stuffing etc), some coordinating thread and two buttons for eyes. A pair of scissors is necessary and I forget to picture a bit of twine or ribbon for the tail.
The link to the pattern is below, although as long as you cut the basic shapes you will be fine. Just remember to cut the long pieces that go around the circles longer than you expect (so give yourself plenty of leeway) and it'll work.Its homemade and these "quirks" are cool and make it lovelier.

These are the first pieces to cut. You will need:
  • 1x A Body (The long side of this piece needs to be able to wrap around the circumference of piece B to form a tube)
  • 2x B Body
  • 4x C Ears
  • 4x D Underside Feet
  • 4x E Sides of Legs
The piece of the left is B, it is included to show the size to cut the side of head/trunk piece. This piece is cut in the shape of a 9. It is also cut on the fold, with the long straight edge (right most edge), on the fold.
This photo shows the final piece to cut at the top. The bottom is the 9 shaped piece from above, opened up. Don't worry about making the part at the top too long. You can adjust where the back wedge shape begins later on in the process.
Finally! Let's start sewing!
The head:
Begin with the pieces we cut out in the photo earlier. With the pieces right sides facing, begin sewing as shown, by starting at the V of the forehead and working around the circular edges.
It should look like the photo below as you reach the end. Don't sew this point all the way to where the trunk starts as you want to leave a bit of a gap to stuff the head (you'll insert stuffing where a real elephants mouth would be)
When you turn the piece above over it should look like the photo below.
Starting from the forehead V again, sew the other side of the head in a similar way.
It should look like the photo below when completed.
 This may be a bit confusing, but this photo shows the V of the forehead of our elephant and the  trunk (tail of the 9 shape) is opened flat to the right. This may be clearer:
At this point, fold the right sides of the trunk together and sew to look like this:
Now, turn the head so the forehead is on the work surface facing away from you and sew the end of the trunk closed. In the photo below the arrow is pointing to the gap you've left to turn the head the right way round and stuff,and the dashed line is where to sew the trunk closed at the bottom. I have finger pressed open the seam we did in the step previously.
 Turn the head the right way round and stuff.
(A note about stuffing- when using fiber fill- mold the piece in you hand a bit before inserting and try to keep it all as one bit, instead of putting in individual blobs of stuffing. This helps prevent a lumpy look)
We made a head! have a cup of tea and take a well deserved break.
The body:
Start by taking 1 of the B pieces and sewing the long side of piece A around its outer edge with right sides facing. This should form a tube shape like the photo below. Don't close the side of the tube!

Similarly sew the final B part to cap the other side of the tube. Through the side of the tube you've left open, turn and stuff the body. Then, sew the opening closed by using the extra flap shown above and trimming the excess, if necessary.
You should now have this:
Pin the head to the body using pins. A note whilst making children's toys- Remember to keep track of your pins! I use large colourful ones to be very certain, but just do a good final check before handing the toy over.

Sew the head to the body. I just do a bit of a whip stitch around the "neck" part twice to make sure it is secure and doesn't wobble.

Making the feet
Make the feet using the same method as the body to sew the long side of piece E to the circle D to make a tube with an open side.
Then sew up the open side, turn right way around and stuff (not too full, leave some fabric at the top and aim to make short, dumpy legs)
Close the top of the leg up, like a parcel. This doesn't have to be too neat, just enough to hold the top together whilst you sew the leg to the underside of the body.
 To make the ears
With right sides facing, sew two of the ears together but leave a little space to turn them right way round.
Before turning snip the fabric towards your line of stitching without actually cutting you sewing! This will help the curved seams lay flat. (green lines in picture below)
Using the method for connecting the head to the body, attach the legs to the underside of the body. Then attach the ears:
A close up of ear sewing- the pink is how to stitch them on:
Sew on the eyes, making very sure, if this present is for children, that you do this securely and well.
 Lastly, using some string, twine or ribbon make your elephant a tail (ass shot!) and sew it on:
Well done!
 Edit: Here are the basic pattern pieces. It is over two pages. 
This is my first pattern so hopefully it works. The pages should each be printed on a standard A4 sheet (but you could scale it up, as long as you scale all the pattern pieces at once).  You should probably cut out the pattern pieces and arrange them on your own fabric, as I just tried to fit them on a page and you may have patterns that require the pattern pieces along the grain/fabric design etc. I have not included any seam allowances as I mostly hand sew these and use a tiny allowance- so add one if you like.Please leave me feedback if changes are required so I can edit it to make it a better pattern for others and I can get better at it :)!

You've completed a baby stuffed elephant! Leave me a comment below if you need any additional help (or to point me and others to pictures of the ones you've made). I'll leave you with ones I've made using this pattern before, for inspiration :)

Friday, 22 October 2010

Swallow Stencil Shirt

So we went on Holiday (oh yes! it was a Holiday, not a mere holiday), to the Greek Islands. To give you some idea I give you this picture
 I know, I know.
Anyway, we came home to a quite chilly (!understatement!) England and I thought I was about ready to start some of the tutorials that I'd like to share and perhaps craft a few Christmas presents.
However, dh had other ideas and (by cooking one of his finest dinners ever) convinced me to spend some inspiration on one of his plain white work shirts. (Secretly, I was pleased to try out the freezer paper technique for stenciling on fabric after the awesome examples I've seen online, so there wasn't even a hint of bargaining :) ) .
Of course we're still relaxed and playful from holiday so the photo taking became a bit of an event.
I warned you!

 I like it. It's weirdly country and a bit stark but I'm thinking that makes it interesting. And work shirts are so dull and mind-numbing, especially when women can be so much more flamboyant. Also- freezer paper stencils are the most awesome and amazing thing. What a joy. Print, cut out, iron on a paint proof stencil that won't move or leak. JOY!
lol! Back with a tutorial soon!

Here's a quick how to for this kind of stencilling.
"Freezer Paper" is something I'd never heard of before but seems quite common in the USA. It is similar to the waxed paper you would use for baking (ie one side feels waxy and one side is matt) although when subjected to a heat (like a hot iron) the wax side melts slightly. This slight melting causes it to fuse in a water tight way to fabric. But! It can be pulled off fabric easily too.

So- buy some freezer paper. I did a quick google search and a quilt shop in the UK sold and posted some to me. Its not very expensive (especially when compared to those printable iron on transfer things). It came in a large sheet, part of which I cut into 2x A5 sheets. I then printed a stencil I had found online onto the NON-WAXY side with my cheap printer. Then I cut out the black space using a pair of small scissors.
Using a hot iron I fused the freezer paper stencil to the fabric. It is worth spending some time on this step and ensuring that all the edges are fully fused before caring on.
Time to paint- I used Dylon Fabric paint which was supposed to be soft even without washing and it wasn't the puffy kind, just a good dye-like paint. Remember GO SLOW. Definitely put a piece of cardboard or newspaper underneath your fabric to prevent transfer to the back of your shirt. Make sure you mix your paint well as the top layer is always a bit watery and this will seep under your stencil (so cause blurriness) even if your stencil seems perfect. I found it best to not load my brush too much and work up to an even dark colour instead of gooping it on. Take your time- it is worth it.
Only when it is dry (or else annoying smudges!) Pull the stencil paper off slowly and use a hot iron to set the paint (or however the manufacturer of the paint suggests). Because this is a cotton shirt I could iron very hot for a long time.
And that's it! Hope it helps and if its not enough, I used some YouTube videos and craft tutorials to help me. Just search for freezer paper stencil.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Gibbous Inspired Corset Makeover

I have volunteered at a new kind of Oxfam shop called Reworked for Oxfam. The idea is that we take donated clothes and rework them to be sold, sometimes because in their current state no one will buy them or sometimes just to add a bit more monetary value. This means that we are let loose on a varied collection of clothes to do whatever we think will be cool with them. Which is beyond awesome and hugely terrifying. "what will sell?" echos round my tiny head and I had a near break down on my first day from the sheer volume of choices awaiting me.
 So I began with a simple (!) project. I took a slightly scruffy white corset (a gentle, underwear one, not a dominatrix one) and tried to make it more Gibbous inspired. (Have a drool over at Gibbous fashions for gorgeous ideas and out the box fashion thinking).
 Basically I used lots of donated lace and ribbon to cover the corset in interesting textures and then used the sewing machine to add more texture.
 This was surprisingly mentally difficult for me since I like finished edges and neat seams etc and this calls for a more free feel, a kind of relaxed, whatever comes, approach. I am not a relaxed, whatever kind of person :)
I'd love any advice or ideas and criticisms so please leave me a message below this post if you'd like.
I may now go off and dream of lace....

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Single Sock Dino Tutorial

Thank you to all the people who requested this tutorial, your encouragement made it happen!
So here is my favourite soft hearted beast for your sewing pleasure.

To begin we need to gather supplies:
  • A pair of scissors
  • A sock (This one is a bit thread bare and woolly and needs a new lease on life)
  • Some red (or, really, any colour) felt
  • 2 buttons for eyes
  • Some coloured thread for sewing together and making his face
  • Some filling ( I used standard fibre fill, but even scraps of fabric would do)
Firstly, we need to cut the sock:

In this pattern the heel of the sock becomes his nose/face/muzzle (what is appropriate for a T-Rex?)
The part towards the toe of the sock is going to be the top of his head and the part towards the ankle is his body. The body part is about twice as long as the head part but don't be too worried about measurements etc.
Next we're gonna sew up the sock at the body hole.

To do this I turn the tube with the heel of the sock inside out and then run a longish stitch very simply around the lip of the tube, then gather closed. Once I've gathered I stitch across the opening a few times to seal it securely. Again, this is the part he will sit on so it doesn't have to be perfect.

Turn the sock right way round again and stuff with filling. You want to create the rough shape of the filling in your hands before you stuff it into the sock. This makes less lumpy bits. If you do need to add more filling, try making a space in the middle of the already existing filling and inserting the new in there. Um, like a pie filling :).
Now he's starting to look like something. There are two methods for the next bit.
The hole on the top of his head needs to be closed. You can 1) gather the hole closed like we did the other side or 2) do the slightly more elaborate, but I think neater, finish below.
If you do decide to just gather remember to pull the hole closed slowly and tuck the unfinished ends into the gather as you go (else he'll have a weird lumpy, sticky up bit)
This is the method I use:

Hold the toy facing away from you (to the left of the picture above). Pinch the hole closed so it runs in a line from the nose direction to along his spine. In the middle of this long opening make a stitch or two to hold in shape.

Now stitch about a thumbs width away from this holding stitch like in the picture above, then tuck the remaining edges of the hole back towards were the needle is. (In the picture above his nose is facing left and his bum is facing right) Stitch along these two new joins to close this end of the hole.

Repeat on the other side. There's no photo of this but to create his chin you need to sew a running stitch along his front, just underneath the heel of the sock, and from about ear to ear (If he had any!). (Kinda eye where you'd like the fold of his chin to be). Pull on this running stitch to gather it. The photo below shows how the sock dents under his chin but is smooth up his spine to the top of his head

You can also see in this picture how the hole that was at the top of the sock is towards his crown.
Next we need to cut the remaining sock bits to make his arms (sorry, claws) and his tail. The small bits to the left are cut from the leftover sock towards the shin and are folded double. ( the larger bit on top of the left group is just to show the ribbed elastic top of the sock and is not used). The group to the right is the original toe of the sock. I have cut from about the middle of the opening and gently curved the cut to make a pointy tail. The piece on the very right hand side will not be used.

Turn the tail and the arm pieces inside out and stitch into tubes with one closed end. Turn right way around and stuff gently.

Attach the arms and the tail to the body, tucking in the unfinished ends as you go.

Next we cut the felt for the scales. A word on cutting the scales- if you're gonna make more than one of these begin by cutting a rectangle of fleece and cutting the diagonals down the centre of this rectangle, never quite touching the outside edge of the rectangle. That way you get two scale pieces instead of one and a whole lot of useless triangles.

Sew the scales to the dinosaur. You can see how I sew on the scales in this photo.

He should look something like this handsome boy at this stage.

Next we attach his eyes- I liked traditional beady eyes but bigger crazy ones would be cute too.

Finally his face! I just free hand embroider a big toothy grin and some french knot nostrils on mine. If you'd like a bit more symmetry (which mine are seriously lacking!) then use some dress makers chalk, or wash away fabric pen to sketch on a mouth. If you don't know how to make a french knot, the internest will teach you or just sew two little crosses or circles etc.

That's it! Congratulations you've just made the world a more dangerous and cuddly place!
(P.S. Don't feel like sewing? Click here to buy them in the Little Black Teapot Shop )

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