Friday, 27 April 2012

Cards: A new design

Myself and the littlest member of the tribe are off to a soft play party later today (shh, don't tell Josh he'll be at nursery) for the lovely Erin.
I had some new paper I was dieing to try and thought it was non-age specific and just girlie enough for a 2 year old little lady.
The card features raised flowers on the front and a continuing pattern on the interior. I also made Erin a personalised bracelet using crystal effect beads for a bit of a sparkle.

The kids bake cakes

Yesterday was a lovely day at home with the kids. They'd asked to make some cakes, and who am I to refuse? I let them pick their own cake cases (JJ went for Pirates, Lfor a cupcake pattern to match her apron) - a decision I regretted later on when it came to 'sharing' lol.
These cake were pretty much all their own work, from helping measure the ingredients, to turning the dial on the mixer and portioning out the mixture. Mummy was only needed to top up the cake cases and handle the oven.

Obviously the best bit is helping to lick out the bowl...

JJ took great care when decorating his, whereas L got stuck straight in eating it as soon as I'd helped her ice the first cake :D

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Rain, Rain go away...

Well, April is certainly living up to its reputation around here, we've had showers everyday for weeks. I've been making the most of it, teaching the kids lots of songs about rain (hence the title), and they have been dying to get out in the garden, so yesterday we put on our wellies and went for a splash in the biggest puddle we could find.

 jj was a bit reluctant at first, after asking all week to splash in puddles he changed his mind the second his trousers got a little bit wet, but after matching him up and down a few times he soon remembered how much fun puddles can be. Little lady got stuck straight in, one of life's natural adventurers. We all had a lovely time, just wish I'd taken my camera (captured these with my phone on its last bar of battery, lol).

In other more crafty news, I've been developing my Heirloom Bouquet (probably about 30 brooches short of being finished). Mr S has just requested 20 more evening invites so I'm patiently making those.
I'm also slowly working my way down a list of about 20 friends and family birthdays that fall between now and the wedding and making handmade cards for them in advance - which is no small job I can tell you, lol.
Also in the pipeline, a  couple of special handmade Birthday present for my little girl, and a few gifts for other children's Birthdays ... not to mention Minnie Mouse Party planning and general wedding organisation :D Busy busy busy!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Homemade Minnie Mouse Crayons

Another post covering the prep for my daughter's Minnie Mouse Party, this time a gift for the loot bags! Variations of this idea are all over Pinterest, but I've tried to put my own spin on it.

I used a Mickey Mouse Shaped ice cube tray, and only took crayons in my theme colours of white, pink and black (for Minnie mouse) - but this will work with any shape or colour themes.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Character cakes revisited

I've been excitedly trying to work out which kind of cake to make for my daughter's 2nd Birthday. I  have to admit I do love a good character cake. I remember many happy hours spent with my Mum's 'Children's Party Cake Book' (by Cathy Mackinlay, circa 1987), just looking at the photos :D ... Oh and one instance where, without access to sugar paste, I attempted to ice the cake on p55 with peanut butter - which didn't go down well with my parents, who had no idea I'd even made a cake in the first place.

Anyway, it's all got me a bit nostalgic, finger painting, baking gingerbread men and themed birthday cakes were all desirable draws of Motherhood as far as I was concerned when I was a kid - so you can imagine how excited I was when my son's first birthday came along...

Iggle Piggle from 'In the Night Garden' was the hero of the moment during JJ's first year of life, so who else could I base a cake on. I'd planned out the shape, and even made a template to cut each limb out of a 9 by 9 cake tin. This was a learning curve about sugarpaste, buying plain white then colouring it with food dye was a slow and unrewarding process, but I learnt a lot (even if it was simply: do not use food colouring).
By JJ's second birthday, everything had to be Pixar Cars related (and still is a year and a half later), he even got a red race car shaped bed. I wish I'd known then how much of an obsession cars where going to be for him and I'd have invested in a car shaped tin, instead for this cake I layered two large square cakes and then carved the cake out of them (there was so much cut-off Mr S even made an additional 'mater' cake and iced it with butter cream). This time I bought pre-coloured red icing :)

Third Birthday, Josh was still equally cars obsessed and personally requested a 'Chick Hicks' cake (another Pixar/Disney cars character), this is probably my best cake to date, having perfected my 'car shaped' cake the year before.

My daughter's first birthday I set myself a bit of a challenge with this 'Waybuloo' De-Lei cake, when the big day came around I was feeling so under the weather with flu but managed to cobble together this cake for her. Can't wait for this year, its a Minnie Mouse theme and there are so many great ideas out there.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Tutorial: Personalised adjustable leather bracelets

Regulars to the blog may remember the personalised bead bracelets I made for all the little girls who are attending the wedding, I'm going to put these in their activity bags as a little thank you present. But possibly a bit girlie for the boys and I didn't want them to feel left out so I came up with these:

It took a while to find the right beads but the boys version is finally complete, and I've made all nine this afternoon. For health and safety reason I have only made bracelets for the boys who are over 2 years old, although I'm sure rules on such things would suggest they aren't suitable for under 3s due to the small parts (beads), and I should also mention that small children should not be left alone with items with small parts. There, that's the H&S out of the way, now on to the tutorial.

What you need
Leather thong (we've used dark purple)
Alphabet beads with a large hole (3mm min)
Silver beads with large hole (mine were 4mm)

1. Seek out Alphabet beads to spell the name you want on the bracelet, two silver beads and a length of leather thong approximately 12inches for this child bracelet, more for an adult.

2. Thread your beads onto the leather thong, making sure all the letters are facing the right way.

3. Take one of the ends of the leather cord, loop it around and feed it back through the whole set of beads.

4. Now time to tie the knots, I have to admit I'm not quite sure what this knot is called (possibly an overhand?) but basically you loop the cut end around itself and the other strand and feed it back through itself. Repeat at the other side.

5. Test the knots by sliding the knot forward and back on the main 'loop' of leather. Once happy tug the knots as tight as you can to keep them secure and then cut the excess cord (I left 1mm in case of knot slippage)

And there you have a finished bracelet, ready to wear and adjustable as the recipient grows.

Tutorial: Child's knight costume tabard made from a tea towel

This was the first part of my son's St George's Day Knight's outfit which was made at short notice and with a few items I picked up from our local supermarket. A tutorial for the Cowl shown below is also available.

This design has arm holes, fastens at the back and is also reversible. I'm also working on a simpler 'hand towel tabard' tutorial too, as I sort of made this up as I went along.

I found this pack of red and white teatowels quite reasonably at the supermarket, I used the middle one as it already had red stripes, and it came wrapped in this handy red cotton tape which I also used, however its probably easier to use a plain white towel and then add your ribbon (cotton tape or even red fabric paint) in the right places afterwards. The other two teatowels I've saved for other projects, or they might just end up in the kitchen drawer.

What you will need:
1 Tea towel (with red stripe or plain white)
Red ribbon, or cotton tape
Hemming web
An existing T-shirt (for sizing)
4 Silver buttons (optional)

1. Take your subject and wrap the teatowel around them to check if it will fit. Place the teatowel right side down, and bring the two sides into the middle. Press the fabric to keep in shape, and turn over.

2. Now time to cut the arm holes and a dip for the neck. I used an existing T-shirt to work out the size for the arm holes (once hemmed these will be larger - perfect for growing room) then I cut a triangle out of each corner giving the garment a sort of 'house shape, unfold and pin a hem in the V shaped void. Copy the neck line of the t-shirt onto the middle of the front and cut. Now pin your hems.
3. If you have an over locker, use it to seal the ends to stop fraying, otherwise use hemming web or, as I did, use a close edging stitch to bind the ends. 

4.  Lay the garment out flat, lay the red ribbon/tape horizontally across the centre allow for a good 1 inch overlap at either end and cut, cut a matching piece of hemming web and sandwich this between the tea towel and the ribbon, folding over the ends. Iron to secure, as per your web's instructions. If you are using a plain tea towel attach the vertical line of the cross in the same way, running from the neck to the bottom.

5 .Line up the arm V slots and overlap the top tabs, pin and sew together.

6. There are many ways you could choose to fasten the back of the tabarb; buttons/toggles/drawstring, but I went with Velcro straps. To make the straps, I took two 6 inch sections of the cotton tape, hemmed both ends (making them about 5 inches) then cut two 3.5 inch sets of Velcro (male and female). I used sewing Velcro but the new iron on kind would be much easier. Attach the 'loop' piece of the Velcro to the end of the straps (leaving 1.5 inch free), repeat on the other strap. Line up your strap with the 'scratchy' Velcro in two places on the back of the garment, attach the Velcro to the tea towel in these places and attach the corresponding strap directly opposite.

7. Technically you can finish here, but I decided to add decorative buttons to the corners of the straps - I quite liked the idea of the back being decorative, and as it turned out this made the whole thing reversible. The buttons were probably the most expensive part of the garment though, costing as much as the set of 3 tea towels (shhh don't tell Mr S).

This is the back of the tabard on my son - still plenty of room for him to grow.

And that's it, pop a grey top underneath and you're away (to a land of castles, dragons and Damsels in distress.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Tutorial: Child's knight costume cowl

I made this as part of my son's St George's day Knight outfit the rest of the items are also available as tutorials.

He was determined he wasn't wearing a helmet, so I decided to make him a 'chain mail' cowl. Originally I considered knitting one but we were on a tight deadline and quite frankly I can't knit anything that isn't rectangular, so instead I cobbled together this which is simply made from 2 grey flannels. To give you an idea of size, my son is 3, although you can make alterations to fit a larger child. 

What you'll need:
2 x Grey flannels
Sewing thread & needle
Hemming web
Iron on Velcro (2 inches)

1. Cut off all tags and labels. My flannels were 30cmx30cm and cost £1 each from tesco.

2. Put both right sides together and chalk on your "hood" shape. The easiest way to do with is to use the outline of an existing hood - this way you will also get a good fit. You'll see I've extended the hood outline to the corner of the flannel, this will form the back of the cowl and give the hood a flared out look.

3. Now to form the hemming. You can either: sew directly on the chalked line, cutting the excess leaving a 1.5cm hem and then use hemming web to seal the hemming down, or if using a sewing machine, leave room to double over the hem sew this first before joining the two fabrics together. I decided to cut the hemline out and then sew. KEEP THE EXCESS CUT OFF FOR LATER.

4. My sewing machine is currently broken, so I ended up hand sewing the hood outline. This worked out well as when I reached the top existing hemline of the flannel I was able to blanket stitch the two edges directly together, which gave the front a nice smooth line with no overlap (see above, inside left, outside on the right).

5. Turn inside out and check stitching. Now turn back and start using the hemming web to seal down the internal hem on both sides. This should stop the towelling from fraying. That's the main hood done, just the front fastening to go.

6. Remember that excess 'cut off' we kept from earlier? We're going to use this to form a 'chin strap' close at the front, to keep the cowl on when it's wearer is chasing dragons :) Because my flannels had this ribbing detail I simply cut this out from both pieces to form my straps (if your flannels are plain, you can always cut and fold some of the toweling for this). Blanket stitch the edges to prevent fraying. Now cut male and female Velcro to fit the strap, leaving a gap the width of your hemming web.

7. Cut two pieces of hemming web to the width of your strap (outlined above in red).  Having worked out where the chin will go, mark this on the inside of the cowl on both sides (I was lucky his chin was where the ribbing detail was). Sandwich the web inbetween the 'strap' and the chalk 'chin' mark, keep to the width of the web to allow room for your velcro. Firstly take the 'scratchy' side of the Velcro, this needs to be facing outwards (so little faces don't get scratched) iron it into position as per Velcro instructions, now take the 'loop' side of the velcro and apply this to the inside of the opposite strap. If unsure, try the fastening out a few times before permanently applying.

And there you go, all done! Time to check it fits! You can add some elastic around the neckline or instead of vecro straps make a drawstring close.

St. George's Day - Knight's Costume

JJ's nursery let us know the other day that on Monday they'd like it if the kids could come dressed as dragons, knights or princesses for St. George's day. It was quite short notice and as he's is not into dressing up and refuses to wear anything 'fancy dress' at the moment apart from his cowboy hat - there didn't seem to be any point in buying an expensive costume just for one day.
So with a little imagination and a small amount of resources I made him this outfit, complete with Tabard, Cowl and Shield (the shield is currently still in progress). It was all completed within a few afternoons, and I'm even making a second outfit for my daughter - in between toddler wrangling, naptimes, bedtimes, and meals :D

It was quite easy and cheap to make. The main resources that went into making the outfit were; a tea towel, a couple of flannels and some red cotton tape. :D

The cowl is a separate garment to the tabarb so that it can we worn with or without it, and tucked under the tabard or sit ontop, and I added detail to the straps on the back, which are adjustable and there's still plenty of growing room for my little man.

The cowl can be worn down as well as up, and the tabard reversed. You could even add a crown for a 'King Arthur' look.

Here is the Tabard and Cowl tutorial:

A little sewing and a little baking..

Oops, no blog entries since Monday, which is odd as I've spend a good part of this week on sewing projects: I finally found time to start work on my garter for the wedding and have been working on a surprise last minute project - a Knight's costume for JJ to wear to nursery on Monday for St George's Day! Keep an eye out of full step by steps on both of these projects.

Had my Mum over today, and while JJ was at Nursery we helped Little Miss make some cookies to give her brother when he got home. She loves baking and was surprising good at doloping the mixture onto the baking trays.

The cookies came out lovely, she was so proud when she gave them to Josh.

Monday, 16 April 2012

All change!

I'm in the process of giving the blog a total make-over, so please bear with me while things are up in the air, backwards, upside down or randomly missing. Hopefully it'll all be a change for the better, I'm enjoying dusting off my old adobe photoshop skills but have also discovered an online version of a mobile app I love pixlr-o-matic - a quick way to 'vintage-up' your photos :)
Right, think I'm all done for the day, I'm sure over the coming days and weeks I'll be changing elements and trying to perfect the design a bit, but hopefully not too much!