Monday, October 19, 2009

Baby bangle

When I saw this blog I knew I had to make a bracelet for my little lady. She loves accessories. Since she's only three, I worry about sharp metal bits and pointy pieces. I bangle made of paper and thread? Perfect!
My first two attempts went wrong. The base wrap tangled with the thread and the thread itself wouldn't line up. I think the problem is in the material. Your base can't be made out of floppy, glossy junk mail paper, and cotton balls don't work as padding.

I switched to heavy card stock and wooly serger thread and tried again. The bracelet on the left and the ring on top are the result. These went to my daughter. She's bashed them about a lot, so they look rather worse for wear.

My big guy doesn't like to be left out, so he requested a bangle for himself. He even chose the colours. I switched to plastic for the base and made the ones on the right and the bottom. They're holding up better than the paper based ones, and have even survived a few dunkings. I'm looking forward to making more of these in the future, perhaps one for myself next time.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Birthday dress

I did make a little something for my little lady's birthday a few months back. I turned an old shirt with a ripped seam into a little dress.

Here's a close up of the smocking. It's a simple diamond stitch in a pastel rainbow of colours. It was quick and easy to do because diamond stitch works up fast. Actually, it took longer to gather the pleats than to do the actual smocking. If I were to do it again, I'd choose slightly darker shades.

I've made her quite a few dresses out of old clothes, but this will probably be the last. She's gotten big enough that getting enough fabric is too much of a struggle. Here are some previous dresses from re-purposed material.
The pink one is from an old batik sarung and the blue one was a baby blanket.

It's not like I don't have any new fabric to work with. I think it's more that if a piece of fabric manages to stay out of the rag pile, it must be very comfy, very pretty, and well loved. I like the thought of passing some of that love on to my little girl.

I'm quite pleased with the results, since this is only my second attempt at smocking. Here's my first, a top I made for myself when I was a teenager. Clearly I hadn't yet learned that sometimes, less is more. There is way too much fabric in the smocked section, resulting in a HUGE ruffle. I had to stitch some elastic along the top just to hold it up. I can only wear it when I'm feeling super skinny or else I feel eight months pregnant.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I just got through two birthdays and some tight deadlines at work. My kids have birthdays two weeks apart. So far I've resisted the temptation to combine their birthday celebrations. I figure they are beautiful little people (5 and 3 now) and deserve their own special days.

Each kid gets two events, one at their play school, one with the family. For my big guy's birthday, he had cupcakes and origami to take to school. I made almost 100 cupcakes and 100 models. I'm kicking myself for not taking pictures. The cupcakes were quite a sight en masse.

Oh well, imagine the cupcakes in the picture (made for another occasion), multiplied by 4, in pink and blue and green and chocolate. My big guy loves to help decorate cupcakes. Every time we go through the baking supply section, he talks me into buying a tube of sprinkles. He's also beginning to learn how to fold origami.
For the little lady, I made goody bags. She's a sweet girl, and her face lights up when she sees something 'piddy' (pretty). Each bag had a washi egg, a bright bundle of cookies and other bits and pieces.
I feel light when I look at those pictures. They represent a very successful stash-busting exercise. Aside from the baking supplies, everything there (origami paper, florist paper and ribbon for bags, cellophane for cookies) came from my stash of craft supplies.
Each kid also got a home baked cake. The big guy got a big chocolate cake with chocolate cake. I did try to take a picture, but it was just a big slab of brown. Not good to look at. Here's the little lady's cake. It's a butter cake, with butter cream icing and marzipan flowers. She enjoyed the cake, but when she tried to eat the flowers, she was absolutely disgusted. Yuck! Oh well, perhaps I'll try using fondant next time.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Frayed denim

I live in jeans, and as a result, I have quite a lot of old denim. So I thought I'd make a frayed denim blanket. Making it was harder than I thought it would be. I've never tried to handle that much weight through a sewing machine, and putting in that last row took some wrangling. Thank goodness for my mother's beautiful old Bernina. I'm glad I decided to offset the rows instead of doing a grid. If you tried to match the seams, you'd have to sew through 8 layers at each seam. With an offset setting, there are only 6 layers.

Fraying the seams caused me quite a bit of anxiety. It took me over a week to cut all the seams. I tried everything, scissors, clippers even electric scissors. The scissors could barely cut through the cloth. The clippers worked, but only through two layers. So, it took two passes to finish a seam. It took forever, it hurt my hands, and I got bored. The electric scissors were the most comfortable, but they kept slicing through the stitching.

In the end, the easiest was to use a simple blade cutter. I put the seam on a chopping board, then hacked at it with the blade. It still hurt the hands, but it was quick and strangely satisfying.

After cutting the seams, the blanket went through a wash and dry cycle at the laundromat. There aren't many self service laundromats in my area, so even that was a bit of a challenge. I got a funny look from the girl in charge of the dryers when I pulled all the fluff out of the machine.

Here's the blanket before and after washing. The seams did fluff up nicely, but I don't think the effect is worth it. Too much effort. Next time, I'll find something else to do with my old jeans.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Almost round

Today, I have a collection of almost round things to show. First are these washi eggs. I think I was influenced by all the decorated easter eggs floating around on the web; all those lovely spring colours. I spent part of my childhood in Canada, so easter eggs, chocolate bunnies and candy chicks definately have some resonance for me.
It took me the longest time to figure out how to blow out the eggs. I googled for instructions and kept reading about drilling holes and using rotary tools. So I hijacked one of my father's drill bits and gave myself sore fingers spinning the thing around on the egg, trying hard not to crack the shell. In the end, I got frustrated and just tapped the drill bit against the egg. That worked wonderfully; a beautiful, tiny hole, no sore fingers. I still don't quite have the knack of it though. I can't find a straw/tube slim enough to slip into the egg without creating a gigantic hole. Next time I'll try a sports ball pump or something like that.

Next are these almost round origami balls (they're actually cuboctahedrons). I still feel stunned looking at these thing. Who would have thought that you could get such lovely curves from straight, square papers. Those clever, clever origamists...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Little boy sewing

I've been doing a bit of sewing for my little guy lately. This is the backpack I made for him to take to school. It's fully lined, and it's got just enough space for a change of clothes, his activity books and his colour pencils.

This is the top of the bag. I don't know if you can see from the picture, but there are three loops there. Two are for the straps. Originally the plan was to thread the straps through the loops, fold them over, then sew them down. I put the bag on my little guy and just knotted the straps to get the right length. The knots held so well that I've never gotten around to the sewing. I almost didn't put in the third loop, but now I'm glad I did. It's perfect for hanging the bag on a hook.

I have a beautiful piece of pink cloth that I'm itching to turn into a bag for my little lady, but putting in that covered zipper caused me quite a bit of hair pulling. I'm not going to attempt another bag until I've figured out a saner method of inserting a zipper into a lined bag.

Here's the new 'baju melayu' (traditional Malay clothing) I made for my little guy. Yes, it's pink. He chose the colour himself. He's a sweet guy. Once, I put some ribbon flowers on his sister's dress. I had some extra flowers, so he requested that I put them on his pants. I put them up near the waistband, hidden by his shirt, so it wouldn't cause too much teasing at school.

I haven't made a 'baju melayu' for my little guy in a while, so I decided to do a 'tulang belut' (eel spine stitch) on the neckline. This stitch is a feature of traditional 'baju melayu'. It's a decorative stitch which also helps to strengthen the neckline. It's kind of like a herring-bone stitch lying on its side.
Mine isn't as even as it could be, for a few reasons. Firstly, I don't practice it enough. Secondly, I cheat. As you make the stitches, you're supposed weave them over and under each other. I cheat by doing the stitch correctly, but omitting the weaving. It speeds things up a bit.

After all this little boy sewing, I feel a bit guilty. The little lady needs clothes too. I have to get moving and plan some dresses for her.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Paper quilling

When I was looking for the crepe paper iris pattern, I saw an article for quilling. I couldn't resist, so I made these little uglies.

As usual, I neglected to read instructions carefully, so I cut 1.5 cm strips instead of the usual 3-5mm. The result is way too bulky.

These picture frames were next. For the black and pink frame, I had planned to do the white scrolls all the way around, but my little guy (my son) got involved. The big red ... roses? ... on the right are his idea.

The last paper item for the day is this little Kusudama ball, design selection and phtography courtesy of my little guy.

Monday, March 30, 2009


I made these temari a few years ago. The balls look a little worse for wear because I let them be used in the traditional sense (basically, I let my kids play with them).

I was learning to make these following tutorials from the excellent, but now sadly defunct, Temari 101 website. The site was great. The first ball featured overlapped diamonds (the small blue one). It took me two tries to get it right. The black, red and white ball was my first try.

The next tutorials featured a whole bunch of spindle balls. I made one (the pink one), then I had my first baby. Temari require marking with lots and lots of pins. Pins and babies don't mix, so I stopped for a while.

The kids are bigger now, so I ready to try some more. The black one is another spindle ball.

The yellow one is my mis-guided attempt to follow these excellent instructions. I'll have to try again some other time. I seem to do better with my second attempts.

The ball at the back is the Rainbow design from the Temari Traditions book.

These two are my latest. They are both attempts of the Triads design from Temari Traditions. The design is a fully covered ball (meaning that the entire surface off the ball is covered with stitching thread). Getting the effect requires precise marking, something I'm still working at. The purple ball looks pretty good though, so I'm happy.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

More paper flowers

The thing with my son is that once he starts making something he won't stop. After the button flowers, he wanted more flowers. So I broke out my paper craft books.

We upgraded from pipe cleaners and scrap paper to proper floral wire and crepe paper. He cut and glued, and I assembled. We did the roses sort of like they did here, but much lazier, just drawing everything free hand.

The iris is from one of my old craft magazines. Now he's insisting he needs more than one purple flower.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Quick origami decorations

I was itching for a quick finish project, so I made these origami decorations. These are the first three balls from this book. They are made of six paper squares, folded, then glued together. The folding part comes together pretty quickly, and putting on the tassels is very satisfying.

I must have been feeling an urge to minimize when I made these. The first one is grape fruit sized. The second is orange size. The last one is lime sized.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Paper hearts

I did some crafting with my 4 1/2 year old today. We made the paper flowers from here. My little guy chose the paper. I drew the hearts. He cut them out, and we assembled them together.

The stems are pipe cleaners. I haven't played with pipe cleaners in years, forgot how much fun they are. Have to get more pipe cleaners...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Strappy dresses

I thought I'd start with some of my daughter's dresses. These are two strap tops I made for my lovely little lady recently. This first sunny dress was a real breeze to make.

It came together in a charmed three hour session during one of my daughter's rare naps. I even managed to get the heart-flowers embroidered before she woke up.

The second dress was the complete opposite. Here's the first version. That pink ribbon added a touch of colour, but it made the dress too stiff. The straps were too long and the whole thing just fit my little lady. Trust me, 'just fits' is not how you want to describe the dress of a growing two year old.

I decided to un-pick the side-seams, straps and skirt and fix the mistakes. In two days of seam ripping and re-sewing I managed to attach the back opening backwards and sew the skirt so that it was twisted like a pretzel.

It finally did come together though. She's worn it a few times, so now I feel better about all that un-picking.