Tuesday, 5 November 2013

My 'paper' poppy

 It feels like forever since I last blogged....  Oh hang on, it is!!!  My excuse?  The girl has started school and all the running around doing the school run whilst juggling full-time work, cooking and housework (I have to admit 'housework' is a loose definition of what actually occurs nowadays!) leaves me wanting to slob out on the sofa rather than blog.  But alas, I have managed to motivate to get blogging again because I want to share something that is dear to my heart.  I won't go off on one about poppy-wearing - it's not for everyone, but if you're still reading I don't imagine I need to explain their significance at this time of year.

Every year, since I was at primary school, I have worn a poppy.  I remember accidentally stabbing myself with a pin trying to attach my poppy to my school jumper.  Never mind the fact that my poor poppy ended up in a very sorry state by the end of the first day.  My little girl will be turning five this month, and the boy is three and a half.  I'd like them to wear a poppy without stabbing themselves with pins, and I certainly don't trust the boy to keep his looking neat and respectable.  My local Sainsbury's has a selection of knitted and crochet poppies available next to the Royal British Legion collection box but I have two issues with them:
  • they are still not child safe - safety pins
  • they all resemble real poppies, not the iconic paper poppy that I love
Cue me and my experimental hooking.  I think I have come up with something that looks like a 'proper paper poppy'.  I've even solved the pin-risk by sewing a little button to my daughter's school cardi and making a poppy with a button-hole =)  It all started with my wanting to make button-hole poppies for the children, but I've ended up deciding to make as many poppies as I can with a 50g ball of red yarn (it's looking like I'll manage to make 40), and I'll donate the excess ones to various Royal British Legion collection points so people can buy them (a £2 donation is probably an appropriate suggestion).  So before I get carried away typing the pattern, I would like to remind everyone who does decide to make one of these poppies to do their part by either donating a load for sale, or by making a donation via the website: The Royal British Legion

OK.  Let's get on with it then.  I used yarn that knits to 4mm needles with a 3.5mm crochet hook throughout to achieve a poppy roughly the same size as an official poppy.  You will need:
  • Red yarn
  • Green yarn
  • Black yarn and safety pins, or black buttons (and needle and thread if you're going to need to sew a button in place)
  • Yarn needle
The poppy is worked in four simple continuous rounds.  Round 1 is worked slightly different depending on whether you are buttoning the poppy on or attaching a safety pin.  I always use Britich crochet terminology so please refer to UK crochet terminology, and if you've never worked into a magic circle before, you may find working crochet in continuous rounds  a useful read.

Stitches used:
  • ch: chain
  • dc: double crochet (US single crochet)
  • htr: half treble crochet
  • tc: treble crochet
  • slst: slip stitch 
Button-hole fastening:
Round 1: ch 8
Work the first stitch of round 2 into the first chain, thus forming a button-hole

Safety pin fastening:
Round 1: work 8 dc into a magic circle and pull to close

Round 2: (dc, 2 dc into next stitch)  x4 [12]
Round 3: (slst, htr, 2 htr into next stitch, 3 htr into next stitch, 2 htr into next stitch, htr into next stitch) x2 [20]

It's round 4 that gives the poppy its small and big petal.

Round 4: slst into the next two stitches, 1 dc and 2 htr into next stitch, 3 htr into next stitch, 2 htr into the next three stitches, 3 htr into next stitch, 2 htr and 1 dc into next stitch, slst into the next two stitches, 1 htr and 2 tc into next stitch, 3 tc into next stitch, 2 tc into next five stitches, 3 tc into next stitch, 2 tc and 1 htr into next stitch

Cut yarn and pull through.  If making a button-hole poppy, sew in loose ends.  If making a safety pin poppy, don't cut the yarn ends until after you've used them to sew on the safety pin.

Here's a load of safety pin poppies I made on the train to work (note the absence of button hole, and rather dirty train seats):


I worked the leaf in double crochet and slip stitches.  I've made an attempt at drawing a chart because I'm not convinced my typed instructions will be clear enough - if in doubt, refer to the below:

Ch 8, dc in second ch from hook.  Work 5 more dc, then work 3 dc into last chain.  Do not turn work, but instead rotate the work 180 degrees and work 6 dc down the opposite side of the starting chain, wrapping the yarn tail as you go.

Ch 2, rotate the work 180 degrees again, refer to chart and work 5 dc

Ch 2, turn.  Work 1 dc into second chain from hook.  Work 1 dc into next stitch then slst into next 4 stitches.

Ch 3, rotate the work 180 degrees again, refer to chart and work 5 dc

Ch 2, turn.  Work 1 dc into second chain from hook.  Work 1 dc into next stitch then slst into next 4 stitches.

You should end up with something that looks like the picture below.  Use the yarn ends to stitch to the poppy, positioning it at 11 o'clock if you can.

Black middle:

If you are making a safety pin fastening poppy, make a black middle by simply working 10 dc into a magic circle and pulling to close.  Use yarn ends to sew the black middle in place, then use the red yarn ends to sew your safety pin in place.

Enjoy, and don't forget to donate!!!

Monday, 24 June 2013

Fabulous frugal flowers

If you've read my post on making a quilted cushion cover from old clothes or making a handbag out of hubby's old jackets you'll know that whilst I love to craft, I am loathe to spend endless amounts of money on fabric and buttons! Why not just reclaim fabric and buttons from the clothes that the kids grow out of so quickly before throwing them out?

There are so many pretty hair clips in the shops but alligator clips are the only ones that stay put in my little girl's hair because it is so fine. I bought some plain alligator clips from eBay and googled fabric flowers. I spotted 'Kanzashi flowers' and they are so adorable that I decided to have a go at making some. I am certainly no expert as this was my first foray into making such flowers, but they seem to be a type of modular fabric flower built from multiple identical petals.

There seem to be three main types:
  • petals made from square pieces of fabric - I was too lazy to make try these as they all seem to involve pins, spray starch and an iron.... Too much effort! 
  • petals made from circular pieces of fabric - I was too lazy to try these because cutting circles is far too much effort! 
  • petals made from small strips of ribbon - I may try these yet, but I don't happen to have any ribbon lying about so watch this space!

So here's my take on the Kazashi flower: petals made from octagonal pieces of fabric. Hang on, how can someone too lazy to cut circles cut octagons? Well, as it happens, I have a number of 2.5" fabric squares in my 'quilting spares' box.  A few simple folds and a snip and you can turn the squares into octagons =)

You will need:
  • 5 fabric squares per flower
  • 1 button per flower
  • scissors
  • thread
  • needle

Fold a corner to the opposite corner to form a triangle, ensuring that the right side of the fabric ends up facing outwards.

Fold the triangle twice more like so:

Hold the triangle with the long side on the vertical and the 'loose' ends facing upwards. Snip off the end at a right angle to the long side, to the half-way point of the diagonal:

Open out your piece of fabric and you will have a rather rough octagon. Repeat the snipping on all remaining squares.

Now that you've prepared all of your octagons, you can start sewing your flower together. I cut a length of thread roughly 60cm long, folded it in half then threaded the folded end into my needle to give myself a quadruple-thickness thread. I've used a contrast thread to bring out the dark pink flowers. The button will cover the thread anyway so don't worry that it shows up too much against the fabric.

Fold an octagon in half along one of the original fold lines, making sure the right side faces outwards. Work running stitch approximately 2mm away from the edge of the cut edges, making sure to sew through both layers of fabric.  It may take a bit of trial and error to get the correct length of stitches, but try to start by going in at the underside of the petal and emerging at the underside at the other end. When flattened out, it will like like this:

I work ruffling the petal as I go, but flattened the petal out in the above photo just for illustrative purposes.  In practice, your working petal will look like this:

Keep working more petals until you have five on your thread:

Loop back round to the first petal and add a few stitches to tighten everything up.  And a button to cover up the join.

I used 2.5" squares and ended up with 2" flowers - perfect for gluing on to alligator clips for decorating my little girl's hair =)

Friday, 10 May 2013

Cuddlie Steggie

What is it about toy manufacturers that they tend to market trains, cars and dinosaurs at boys? My little girl has always liked trains and cars, and has been bugging me for what seems like forever to get her a dinosaur. She doesn't stray too far from the sexual stereotypes though; she likes Rosie from Thomas and his friends, and cars need to be pink and sparkly.  Of course she doesn't want a gnarly dino with sharp teeth and claws like the ones her brother has - it has to be pink with big eyes.

Well, I can tell you that I've given up on trying to find one in the shops and instead got out my knitting needles and some odd balls. With just less than a 50g ball of Rowan all seasons cotton, less than 20g of Debbie Bliss Amalfi, a pair each of 4cm and 3.75cm needles I managed to rustle up a 28 cm long, 12 cm high, 9 cm wide steggie =)

I knitted mine in the round using circular needles, but have written the pattern for straight needles so as to not scare anyone off! You don't need any fancy techniques, but sewing on the feet can be a little fiddly. If you'd like a go at knitting the body and feet in the round, just knit every round and knock a knit stitch off the beginning and end of each row.

You will need:
  • Yarn and appropriate needles.  I like to use needles smaller than the ball band recommends when knitting toys to give a tighter finish that the stuffing won't show through
  • Stuffing
  • Safety eyes, buttons or felt circles
  • Yarn needle

Techniques used:
  • Cast on, cast off
  • Knit
  • Purl
  • Garter stitch (knit every row)
  • Stocking stitch ( knit a row, purl a row)
  • k2tog: knit two stitches together for a right-slanting decrease
  • k2tog tbl: knit two stitches together through the back of the loops for a left-slanting decrease
  • m1: make a stitch by picking up the horizontal strand between stitches and knitting into the back of it
  • kfb: increase by knitting into the front of a stitch, then into the back of it before slipping it from the left needle
  • pfb: increase by purling into the front of a stitch, then into the back of it before slipping it from the left needle


Starting at the head, work the head, body and tail in one piece as follows.

Cast on 8, leaving a 60 cm tail for seaming.

Row 1: k2, m1, k1, m1, k2 , m1, k1, m1, k2 [12]
Row 2 and all even rows: purl
Row 3: k2, m1, k1, m1, k2, m1, k2, m1, k2, m1, k1, m1, k2 [18]
Row 5: (k2, m1, k1, m1, k4, m1, k1, m1) x2, k2 [26]
Row 7: (k2, m1, k10, m1) x2, k2 [30]
Rows 8-12: Work in stocking stitch without shaping for 5 rows
Row 13: (k2, ssk, k8, k2tog) x2, k2 [26]
Row 15: (k2, ssk, k2tog) x4, k2 [18]
Row 17: k6, ssk, k2, k2tog, k6 [16]

Start increasing for body.

Row 19: (k2, m1, k5, m1) x2, k2 [20]
Row 21: k3, m1, k6, m1, k2, m1, k6, m1, k3 [24]
Row 23: k4, m1, k7, m1, k2, m1, k7, m1, k4 [28]
Row 25: k5, m1, k8, m1, k2, m1, k8, m1, k5 [32]
Row 27: k6, m1, k9, m1, k2, m1, k9, m1, k6 [36]
Row 29: k7, m1, k10, m1, k2, m1, k10, m1, k7 [40]
Row 31: k8, m1, k11, m1, k2, m1, k11, m1, k8 [44]
Row 33: k9, m1, k12, m1, k2, m1, k12, m1, k9 [48]
Row 35: k10, m1, k28, m1, k10 [50]
Row 37: k11, m1, m13, m1, k2, m1, m13, m1, k11 [54]
Row 39: k12, m1, k30, m1, k12 [56]
Row 41: k13, m1, k30, m1, k13 [58]
Row 43: k28, m1, k2, m1, k28 [60]
Rows 44-48: work in stocking stitch without shaping for 5 rows
Row 49: k28, k2tog, ssk, k28 [58]
Row 51: k13, k2tog, k28, ssk, k13 [56]
Row 53: k12, k2tog, k28, ssk, k12 [54]
Row 55: k11, k2tog, k12, k2tog, ssk, k12, ssk, k11 [50]
Row 57: k10, k2tog, k26, ssk, k10 [48]
Row 59: k9, k2tog, k11, k2tog, ssk, k11, ssk, k9 [44]
Row 61: k8, k2tog, k10, k2tog, ssk, k10, ssk, k8 [40]
Row 63: k7, k2tog, k9, k2tog, ssk, k9, ssk, k7 [36]
Row 65: k6, k2tog, k8, k2tog, ssk, k8, ssk, k6 [32]
Row 67: k5, k2tog, k7, k2tog, ssk, k7, ssk, k5 [28]
Row 69: k4, k2tog, k6, k2tog, ssk, k6, ssk, k4 [24]
Row 71: k3, k2tog, k5, k2tog, ssk, k5, ssk, k3[20]
Rows 72-74: Knit 3 rows
Row 75: k2, k2tog, k4, k2tog, ssk, k4, ssk, k2 [16]
Rows 76-78: work in stocking stitch without shaping for 3 rows
Row 79: k1, k2tog, k3, k2tog, ssk, k3, ssk, k1 [12]
Rows 80-82: work in stocking stitch without shaping for 3 rows
Row 83: k2tog, k2, k2tog, ssk, k2, ssk [8]
Rows 84-86: work in stocking stitch without shaping for 3 rows
Row 87: k2, k2tog, ssk, k2 [6]
Rows 88-90: work in stocking stitch without shaping for 3 rows
Row 91: k1, k2tog, ssk, k1 [4]
Rows 92-94: work in stocking stitch without shaping for 3 rows
Row 95: k2tog, ssk [2]

Cut yarn and pull through two remaining loops. Weave the tail yarn at the nose for a neat finish, pull tightly then use invisible stitch to join the tummy along the two sides of the work, stuffing as you close the seam.  If you are using safety eyes, remember to attached them before you completely close the seam! Hide ends inside the work.


I originally worked the spine as a single layered zig-zag.  After sewing it on however, I found that it kept curling and wouldn't stay upright.  I ended up cutting the whole thing off and making the spine from scratch, but this time as a double-thickness zig-zag worked in one long garter stitch strip (bear with me - you will quickly see it take form).
There are three sizes of spike and I have broken them down as such. DO not break yarn between spikes; work them as a continuous strip.  At the beginning of each spike there will be 4 stitches.

Work a strip of 1 small spike, 2 medium spikes, 3 large spikes, 2 medium spikes, 2 small spikes.

Cast on 4 leaving a 60 cm yarn tail for attaching spine to back.

Small spike:
Row 1: k1, kfb x2, k1 [6]
Row 2 and all even rows: knit
Row 3: k1, kfb x4, k1 [10]
Row 5: k1, k2tog x2, ssk x2, k1 [6]
Row 7: k1, k2tog, ssk, k1 [4]
Row 8: knit

Medium spike:
Row 1: k1, kfb x2, k1 [6]
Row 3: k1, kfb x4, k1 [10]
Row 5: k3, kfb x4, k3 [14]
Row 7: k3, k2tog x2, ssk x2, k3 [10]
Row 9: k1, k2tog x2, ssk x2, k1 [6]
Row 11: k1, k2tog, ssk, k1 [4]
Row 12: knit

Large spike:
Row 1: k1, kfb x2, k1 [6]
Row 3: k1, kfb x4, k1 [10]
Row 5: k3, kfb x4, k3 [14]
Row 7: k5, kfb x4, k5 [18]
Row 9: k5, k2tog x2, ssk x2, k5 [14]
Row 11: k3, k2tog x2, ssk x2, k3 [10]
Row 13: k1, k2tog x2, ssk x2, k1 [6]
Row 15: k1, k2tog, ssk, k1 [4]
Row 16: knit

Final row: K2tog, ssk [2]
Cut yarn and draw end through final 2 loops.

Feet, make 4

Cast on 8, leaving a 30 cm tail for seaming and attaching to body

Row 1: k1, kfb x6, k1 [14]
Row 2: p1, (p1, pfb) x6, p1 [20]
Rows 3-10: work in stocking stitch without shaping for 8 rows

Cast off, seam, stuff and attach to body

All that's left is to sew on eyes if you haven't already attached saftey eyes.  I am unashamedly cheap and always cut the buttons off clothes before I cut them off and I used ones from one of the boy's old shirts =)

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

New Year, New Post!

Happy New Year!!!!  I can't believe we're in 2013 already, and I can't believe how long it's been since my last post...  Actually I can; I've been so caught up with a house move and returning to work in November after four years as a stay-at-home Mum that I haven't really put time aside for blogging.  Of course I've carried on crafting, but I've just been too lazy to dig out my camera and charger to take photos!

Christmas is almost over (it's not over until the Epiphany as far as I'm concerned) and the decorations will be coming down on Sunday. Every year, I let the children each choose a decoration for the tree.  This year the girl chose a little Kokeshi doll.  Not the most traditional of choices but it's so cute that I agreed to it.   She was not a happy bunny when I told her the tree and decorations would be coming down she requested 'but not my Mummy Doll' (I've got black bobbed hair so I guess it does look a little like me) so I decided to crochet her her own little Kokeshi doll =)

Why not make your own one for Chinese New Year (yeah yeah, Kokeshi dolls are Japanese but it'd still look cute for Chinese New Year) which falls on 10th February this year? I made mine using various oddments I found.  It doesn't really matter what type of yarn or hook you use provided you use a combination that produces a tight piece of work because it won't look very nice if the stuffing shows through.  I used a 4mm hook with yarn that knits to 4mm needles (but you may need a smaller hook as I crochet quite tight) and my doll stands 14cm tall.  This project is worked in continuous rounds starting with a magic loop.  See my tutorial on working crochet in continuous rounds for more details.

What you'll need:
  • Yarns in main dress colour, black for hair, ivory for skin and various scraps of yarn for embroidery detail.  I used a bit of gold fingering to add a bit of sparkle
  • Crochet hook
  • Yarn needle
  • Polyester toy stuffing
  • 2 safety eyes (optional).  These plastic eyes that can be bought in a number of sizes really add to the professional finish of your toy.  Make sure to insert them securely.  If you are giving the toy to a baby, you may prefer to embroider the eyes
  • Small piece of plastic that can be cut with scissors for reinforcing the base (a clean piece of milk bottle 5x5cm approx is ideal)
  • Small ball for adding weight to the base (optional) 

Techniques used (UK terminology):
  • ch: chain
  • dc: double crochet (US single crochet)
  • slst: slip stitch
  • inc: work 2 dc into next stitch
  • dec.  You can use dc2tog, double crochet 2 together: insert hook in next stitch, yarn over and pull up loop (2 loops on hook), insert hook in next stitch, yarn over and pull up loop (3 loops on hook), yarn over and draw through all 3 loops on hook.  If you prefer to use invDec, invisible decrease: then hook through front loop only of next two stitches, yarn over, draw through loop (3loops on hook), yarn over and draw through 2 loops (2 loops on hook), yarn over and draw through both loops on hook
  • back loop only
  • working in continuous rounds.  Unless otherwise stated, all parts of toy are worked in continuous rounds


The hair is constructed of four black pieces: two overlapping circles (one larger than the other to create a 'side-parting') and two small balls for buns.

Make two

Round 1:  Ch 2 and work 6 dc into 2nd chain from hook (or work 6 dc into a magic circle) [6]
Round 2:  Work two stitches into each stitch round [12]
Round 3:  (1 dc, inc) x 6 [18]
Round 4:  (2 dc, inc) x 6 [24]
Round 5:  (3 dc, inc) x 6 [30]
Round 6:  (4 dc, inc) x 6 [36]

For the smaller circle, work two rounds without shaping and fasten off.  For the larger circle, work five rounds without shaping and fasten off.  Leave long yarn tails for attaching to the head.

Make two

Round 1:  Ch 2 and work 6 dc into 2nd chain from hook (or work 6 dc into a magic circle) [6]
Round 2:  Work two stitches into each stitch round [12]
Round 3:  Work 1 round without shaping
Round 4:  Dec x 6 [6]

Close the hole and leave long yarn tails for attaching to head.


Round 1:  With ivory, ch 2 and work 6 dc into 2nd chain from hook (or work 6 dc into a magic circle) [6]
Round 2:  Work two stitches into each stitch round [12]
Round 3:  (1 dc, inc) x 6 [18]
Round 4:  (2 dc, inc) x 6 [24]
Round 5:  (3 dc, inc) x 6 [30]
Round 6:  (4 dc, inc) x 6 [36]
Rounds 7-13:  Work 7 rounds without shaping [36]
Round 14:  (4 dc, dec) x 6 [30]
Round 15:  (3 dc, dec) x 6 [24]

If you are using safety eyes, insert them now between rows 13 and 14 before the hole becomes too small.  You may want to position the hair on the head to help you decide where to insert the eyes.

Round 16:  (2 dc, dec) x 6 [18]
Round 17:  (1 dc, dec) x 6 [12]

Fasten off but do not close hole.


Round 1:  With dress colour, ch 2 and work 6 dc into 2nd chain from hook (or work 6 dc into a magic circle) [6]
Round 2:  Work two stitches into each stitch round [12]
Round 3:  (1 dc, inc) x 6 [18]
Round 4:  (2 dc, inc) x 6 [24]

Round 5:  Work 1 round without shaping, working into back stitches only (This produces a ridge so the doll has a 'base') [24]
Rounds 6-7: Work 2 rounds without shaping [24]
Round 8:   (3 dc, inc) x 6 [30]
Rounds 9-20:  Work 12 rounds without shaping [30]

Before starting the decrease rounds, trace the bottom of the body onto a piece of thin plastic (I used a clean takeaway container):

Insert the plastic disc into the bottom of the body:

Inserting the disc into the base of the body ensures it stays flat after it is stuffed.  You could also add a
plastic bouncy ball to provide extra weight to the base.

Round 21:  (3 dc, dec) x 6 [24]
Round 22:  Work 1 round without shaping [24]
Round 23:  (2 dc, dec) x 6 [18]
Round 24:  (1 dc, dec) x 6 [12]

Fasten off but do not close hole and leave long yarn tail for attaching head.

You have now finished making all of the components of the doll.  Stuff head and sew on hair and embroider a smile.  Stuff body and attach the head to the body by aligning the stitches - both openings have the same number of stitches.

You could leave the doll plain, but I received strict instructions from a certain bossy four year old to embroider cream flowers on her dress!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Trick or treat!!!

I love Hallowe'en.  I remember dressing up as a kid and going trick-or-treating with my friends.  When I was younger it was always done while it was still bright, when I became a teenager I went along as a chaparone for the younger kids.  My husband is against it because he says that it encourages begging but I won't deny my kids or other peoples' the fun I had as a kid and for that reason, since having children of my own, I always carve a pumpkin as a beacon that I welcome trick-or-treaters.  This year I decided to do two, one for the girl and one for the boy.... 

I did a web search for 'free pumpkin carving templates' which returned loads of results but I ended up on Celebrating Halloween and the kids chose a skull and Tinker Bell.... No prizes for guessing who requested which! The templates are downloadable and printable and clearly state which region of the template needs to be carved.  I carved the skull one first, and rather liking the way it turned out changed the Tinker Bell one to be similar by drawing an oval around her such that it didn't go all around her but met her feet and wings.  There are so many silhouette images available on the net that I'll probably just 'make my own template' next year =)

Every year since I have struggled to get my lit tea light into my pumpkin without burning myself so started using a candle lighter.  This year I decided to be a bit smarter and cut it a bit differently so as to make my life a little easier.  The kids loved scooping out the seeds!

After printing out my templates, I cut out the 'carve sections' and stuck them to my pumpkin using a glue stick.

 Not trusting myself to keep the stencil in place, I drew around the cut edges with a drywipe marker.

And off I went carving it with a good old paring knife.  In previous years, I scooped out the flesh to make pies, soup and cake (I have a fantastic pumpkin cake recipe that tastes like carrot cake but better) but was under such pressure from the kids to just get on with it that I just thinned out the front of the pumpkin where I'd be carving.  Ta da!!  Hmmm...  Pretty anti-climactic - it doesn't look that great when it's not lit up =(

All lit up.....  Much better!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Still making a mess, but just a little bit less =)

I've been a bit absent from the whole blogging world for a while.  There's something about moving house that seems to sap away all notions of wanting to start a new project.  We're all settled in now, having moved a month ago.  We were stuck for a week in an Internet black hole (what on earth did we do before the Internet???!!!!!), went on holiday for a couple of weeks to the south of France (I wasn't very well going to spend my time in an Internet cafe when there's sun-bathing to be done now am I?), then I used last week to sew some rather uncreative curtains and blinds (I love my sewing machine but I really do find curtain making terribly tedious).

So, I'm back to my usual sewing thing of using up random bits of old fabric.  As much as I love collecting fabric from the kids' old clothes for my craft projects (they so love seeing their old clothes being given a new life), every so often something made from a rather unattractive utility fabric breaks and I put the fabric aside for when it might come in handy.  When my husband's big black umbrella broke in the wind, I cut out the fabric.  I didn't imagine I'd actually need it, but hubby has this unique skill of dreaming up seemingly pointless items that he wants me to sew.  He wondered in after work one day and said 'My butt is soaked: can you make me a waterproof bicycle seat cover so I can keep my seat dry when I leave it outside in the rain'.  Of course I scoffed, thinking him a mite dramatic, but I went ahead and dug out my umbrella material all the same and made him one.  I wasn't laughing a few days later however when I left my bike outside the gym....  I returned from my gruelling workout (it probably just felt that way because I am so unfit) to find it had been raining.  I cycled home with a rather wet bottom, cursing myself for not having made myself a waterproof sodding seat cover.... That teaches me for laughing at him!

I've got a great big massive scrunched up bundle of red waterproof fabric sitting about in the garage from when both of our pop-up gazebos decided to fly over the fence into the neighbour's garden....  You'd think that planning a barbeque for July would be a safe bet wouldn't you?  No.  Not in England!  Not long ago I was asked to make holder to stop hubby's bike lock (he has a rather dodgy looking chain one that looks like a pair of handcuffs!) from rattling as he's cycling.  He dragged a waterproof tent bag out from nowhere (I don't know where he has all this stuff hiding).  I made it and put the rest aside.... Until yesterday....

The kids were feeling rather bored and neglected while I was updating my CV (indeed, the time has come to get back to work, pay some taxes and get left with pretty much not much else after childcare costs) and decided upon themselves to get the paint out.  The girl found herself a nice floral artwork apron (I think my niece grew out of it and left it to her) so of course the boy got jealous.  That's when I remembered the random waterproof fabric I'd stashed away:

Not very glamorous is it?  Good job it's for the boy!  With him measuring 24cm across the shoulders, the scrap was just the right size for me to cut two rectangles and add neckline scoops, a lower one for the front.  I then placed the pieces right sides facing and sewed the shoulder seams.

With my fabric being so boring and green, I couldn't resist binding the edges with some of my gorgeous check bias binding that I picked up a while back, without a plan for it, but hey it came in handy =)  I bought myself a binding foot but just can't get used to using it and prefer to do it using the tried-and-trusted method that I've always used.  It can take a bit of practice, but I've found that by putting my needle in its left-most position, I can align the right-hand-side of the presser foot with the raw edge of the work and the needle with the crease in the binding.  Start by sewing the binding to the wrong side of the work.  I like to fold down a piece at the start for a neater look:

Attach the binding all the way to the end, remembering to fold the end up for a neat finish:

Turn the work over so the right side is facing and finish top-stitching the binding in place, making sure to cover the stitches from attaching the binding to the wrong side:

I like to start the top-stitching by stitching around the corner before proceeding to stitch along the length, but that's just a matter of preference:

I finished the apron off by adding bias binding to the neck-line and adding two straps complete with some poppers attached using my beloved Prym Vario Plier:

He looks pretty smart in it, and it might even keep him clean and dry (who am I kidding?) while he's doing artwork.  In fact, he's just emerged from washing his paint brushes and is actually quite dry.  My toilet room floor didn't survive, but a two year old and a three year old wandered into there, filled the basin and washed their brushes by themselves and I've not had to clean/redress either of them so I can't complain =)

Thursday, 21 June 2012

A littl loo-roll love....

I love doing artwork with the kids, even if it all they're doing it dipping their hands into paint and smacking it onto paper!!!  Sure, they make an awful mess and I find myself cleaning paint of faces, legs and hair, but they have fun and it kills at least an hour a day (yes, my three-and-a-half year old and two year old really do love artwork that they will sit still for that long!).  Plus, making controlled mess develops their co-ordination skills so I really don't mind the mess.

I try to vary what they do and if a holiday or birthday is coming up, I let them loose decorating hearts, Easter eggs, Christmas trees or whatever else is appropriate at the time.  When I was teaching them shapes, I cut up manky potatoes and made carved stampers out of them.  Today however, we are living in the Hubbard house (because we're off away for the weekend) and there's absolutely no fresh produce in the house.

Then the kitchen roll ran out too so I decided to make some very simple stampers with the cardboard tube.  I cut it in half to make a circle 'stamper' (no explanation needed there!) and turned the other half into a heart stamper.  I folded it so as to flatten the circle, then turned one point inwards to make a heart shape.  After reinforcing it with a little masking tape to hold its shape, I handed over to the kids and let them do their thing.

So simple and hardly worth posting about, but it kept two pre-schoolers very happy this afternoon!  And the best thing is, I don't have any stampers to clean because they'll go straight into the recycling bin =)