Wednesday, 26 May 2010

No-one is available to take your call right now.

We're very busy doing this

and this

and some of this

over at grandma pickledweasel's while we're having a magic new bedroom made in our loft. This involves a lot of mess and the removal of ceilings and our bathroom, so we'll be staying at grandmas for about a month. It's great fun, but there's not much time to blog, so I apologise in advance for the lack of posts.

If you'd like to leave a message, please speak after the tone.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

I am a bag lady.

I really like making bags, they're so satisfying. They're functional, relatively easy (once you work out how to decifer the pattern, and choose fabric that doesn't run in the rain), and you can put your own stamp on them.

Here's two more I've made in the last couple of weeks. Folklore Bag No. 326 3, a present for a friend.

And a bag from the latest issue of Sew Hip.

My brother got me a subscription to the magazine for my birthday, and although I really love reading it I very rarely make any of the free patterns. I would love to do one of the quilts they've featured in the last few issues, but it just seems a bit of a big scary project. Anyway, this bag is a present for a five year old - what five year old doesn't like ruffles?

I scaled down the pattern by a third, and put pleats in instead of gathering my ruffles, as they're backed with denim and were too stiff to gather. In the magazine they sewed a row of buttons along the top ruffle to hide the seam, but I didn't have enough buttons that matched. I made a flower using this tutorial instead, and mounted it on felt and put a brooch back on so it's detachable.

In other news, Munchkin also has bag lady aspirations. Why else would she have taken off her sleepsuit and her nappy and intentionally wee-ed all over her cot two nights running?

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Sitting on top of the world

Today Munchkin is a whole two years old. She doesn't quite understand the concept of it all, but she has got the hang of presents and cards and cake :)

I was all set to make her a squillion presents, but I thought about it for a while, and I figured I was probably doing it for me rather than her and I didn't have the time anyway. So I thought about what she would really like, and made that instead. I bought this fabric about a month ago, not knowing what I was going to do with it but at the same time knowing that it would definitely be used and not just sit in my stash. When I brought it home Munchkin took it out of the carrier bag and lay on it, looking at all the different countries, so the obvious choice was to make a floor cushion out of it.

There is a guy down the road from us who makes cushions and curtains and has a shop where he sells upholstery fabric on the cheap. He made the inner for me for £4.50! I told him he should be charging more, I was expecting to pay at least a tenner :)

Munchkin loves it, and I'm hoping it'll be a favourite lounging spot for years to come.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Easy peasy lemon squeezy foam stamp tutorial

This is such an easy thing to do, it probably doesn't even warrant the word 'tutorial' in the title, but I've bumphed it out with some other bits and bobs about using stamps with fabric paint, so hopefully you'll learn something :)

You will need:
  • Foam stickers or shapes (if you want to know where to get them from, have a look in the hints bit at the end of the tute).

  • Foam board, 3mm or 5mm (again, hints on where to buy at the end)

  • Ruler and pencil

  • Scissors or craft knife

  • Glue (if you have foam shapes, you won't need it if you have foam stickers).

  • Fabric paint

  • Paintbrush

  • Fabric to test on

  • A new t-shirt / bag / tea towel / cushion cover for your final design

Choose the foam shape or shapes that you want to use for your stamp. Check the surface of your shape for any bumps or dips - this flower was a bit wiggly on one side, so I made sure I glued that side rather than printed with it, as even small blips can show up when you print.

Work out what size piece of foam board you need to cut. Try and have as little white space as possible around your foam shape, that way you'll know exactly where you will be stamping - if you have a weeny shape in the middle of a huge piece of foam board it'll be hard to know exactly where to place your stamp.

Cut your piece of foam board with a craft knife or scissors, and stick your shape on. Make sure you use a decent glue so the stamp will last longer.

Ta daaaaaa! That's it. But if you want to get the best out of your lovely new stamp, please read on.

This bit is important: Test your stamp. Find an old t-shirt or vest and play around with your stamp first. Try out different fabric paints with it, work out which way round is the best, etc etc. You'll find that your stamp comes out differently depending what fabric you're stamping on to. So if you want to print on a t-shirt, use a scrap piece of jersey to test with, if you want to print on a pillowcase, find some cotton. You get the idea :)

Prepare your surface for stamping. Wash your vest / tea towel / pillowcase before you stamp on it. A lot of fabrics are finished with chemicals that can reduce fabirc paint absorption, so make sure your fabirc is clean first. Iron, iron, iron. Any little wrinkles can cause blips in your stamping, and you don't want that. Use guides if you want to do things in straight lines - I ironed munchkin's top down the middle and then centred my flower over the ironed line, and for lettering I use masking tape as a guide.
Make sure your stamp is totally covered with fabric paint. The easiest way to tell if you've done this is to hold the stamp up to the light:

Always clean around your stamp before you print with it. See that bit of red on the foam board in the picture below? See the teeny red splodge next to the flower on the t-shirt? I completely cocked up did that on purpose to show you what happens if you're sloppy with your paint. The best way to clean is by using a baby wipe. The same goes for cleaning your stamp when you've finished using it, or want to change colours.

And while we're on the subject of cocking up intentional mistakes, mind where you're wafting your paintbrush :(

Make sure you follow the instructions for fixing your fabric paint. If it says iron for five minutes, then iron for five minutes (yes, I know it's really boring ironing the same small patch of t-shirt for five minutes, but it's worth it). If you've made a mistake, for example by waving your paintbrush around and catching the arm of your t-shirt with a big splodge of red paint, then I'd suggest it might be best to start again on a clean t-shirt. I've tried all sorts of things to get fabric paint out (even if it hasn't been heat sealed with an iron), and it's bloomin difficult.

Where to buy: Foam shapes seem to be everywhere - most craft shops stock them, and I've found lots of different ones in Tesco, mainly seasonal (Easter, Christmas etc.). I've even picked some up in pound shops in the children's art bit. Remember lettering will come out in reverse, so foam alphabet stickers aren't great unless you like mirror writing.

Foam board can be a bit harder to come by. eBay is probably the easiest way to buy it, although not the cheapest. If you're buying in bulk then Paperstone, Discount Graphic, and Art Discount all sell it by the box. Rymans sell it too, although it might be worth giving your local stor a ring first to see if it's in stock.

A final word on fabric paint. It's worth investing in decent stuff, because it can have a huge effect on your end print. I like Colourcraft paints (although their website isn't great), and I love Stewart Gill paints, especially the True Colour range.

There you go, pretty much everything I know about making and using foam shape stamps, in a blog post. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

A Little Bit of Kiwi Sunshine

Isn't this little tyke a cutie? This is Pepi, and she lives in New Zealand with her ex-pat mum and dad.

OOooh, look what a cute little tunic she has on, I wonder who made that for her? Hmmm, that fabric looks familiar...

Her mum saw the tunic on my blog and emailed me to ask if I'd make one for her to buy. I feel a bit funny about making clothes to sell, as I still don't think my sewing skills are up to scratch to produce garments that are of high enough quality. So I said I'd be happy to make her one and she could just cover postage and fabric costs.

In the end there were no wonky seams or holes under the arms or anything, so I think if on the off chance that anyone else asks for a custom item I'd be confident in charging them proper prices. And now the little tunic is happily living in the New Zealand sunshine, spending its days going to the park and generally having fun :) You can read all about Pepi and her family's experiences of living in NZ on her mum's blog. But just to warn you, you might get a bit jealous when you read about the free swimming pools and the beautiful beaches...