Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Minnie Mouse Birthday Party

I'm not one for children's parties, I freely admit that, and up until now I have quite successfully shirked out of them. The girls have had friends round for a party tea (with parents) and a vague hint of a few party games. But now Willow is at school and has seen how proper parties are done, there was no getting out of it this time around. For quite a long time I was dead set on paying for them to go to a soft play area, where the parties are run by the staff and I wouldn't have to get involved at all- easy! But when Willow suggested that she'd quite like a party at home- even with limited numbers- and one where they could make things, I got my thinking cap on. Obviously the crafty gene has rubbed off on my girls! 
Thank goodness for the Internet is all I can say. Once we had settled in a theme of Minnie Mouse, it was pretty straight forwards to find things to fit said theme. I'm someone who hates party bags with a passion and their plastic tat filled interiors, so after I stumbled upon a pattern for making bags they could decorate, they could then make things to go in the bags. These I found on the ikat blog: 

And the finished article:

I cut out some pretty patterned paper, provided glue along with copious amounts of glitter and sequins and let them set to. I will be finding glitter for months to come, but they were happy for a considerable length of time. 
We also made Minnie Mouse headbands, out of some ridiculously sticky backed foam and some spotty bows, and decorated cupcakes. 
As it turned out we had too much stuff to fill the time. My bean bag toss game complete with spotty bean bags didn't get played, 

Nor did pin the bow on Minnie

And we barely squeezed in the cake

But  I think it was seven happy children that left the premises after two crazy hours, there were certainly two happy ones here. 
So would I do it again? Actually, I probably would. And I have learnt a few things too. One, have all the food made in advance. Leaving proceedings with a husband who has no idea how to play musical statues (or so he claims) to roll out and make two pizzas was not a good move. And also, take notice of parents who have obviously been there and done it but decide not to impart their wisdom, but instead raise an eyebrow when you say it just the two of you doing it, and follow it with, 'You're brave'. Two adults is just not enough for nine children. 
And on the plus side, I have also learnt that if you give a group of girls a load of glitter and some glue, or cupcakes, icing and sprinkles, they will create an unholy mess, but be happy as anything doing it. And happy children makes for a happy mum! 

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Too Many Bags..?

Is there such a thing as too many bags? My husband may well think so. He won't say it to my face but I can tell from the look on his face when I emerge from the workshop with my latest creation. And although, this week I am two bags up on last week, I still need one for my cameras and a sports bag. Oh, and maybe a rucksack too!
The first bag of the week is this lovely offering. 

I have mental images of being able to head off down to the beach with this one (hence the ladies in bikinis), but s the weather stands at the moment, I could be waiting a while to fulfil that particular picture. 
This was made using a fab freebie pattern from the u-handbag site. It's called the Love Basket and was easy to make but the addiction of the bamboo handles gives it a professional finish. I do like adding handles to bags, but they do substantially increase the cost of the raw materials, which always needs to be taken into account if you're planning on selling your lush new creation.  
The second bag of the week was one I bought. Now, I can't actually remember the last time I bought a bag. I tend to just have a close look then make my own version, but this one I couldn't resist!

It's so unusual and fun, puts a smile on my face. (Search for Jump From Paper)

It will be bags to one side for this week though, well unless they're party bags that is! I have a house full of five year olds next Saturday and a Pinterest board full of ideas, I just need to get the two to meet!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Alice In Wonderland Costumes

Cute! My two girls all set for a Mad Hatters Tea Party this afternoon. They were so excited, they were in their costumes from lunchtime and asking every ten minutes if it was time to go yet. When you have two children to get fancy dress outfits for, it can get expensive, but these were made from t-shirts and scraps.

So, Alice first. I got one blue t-shirt and some blue cotton jersey which I ordered from eBay. I had to order a metre length of jersey, I only used about a 30cm length of a 160cm width piece. Now, life would have been a whole lot simpler had the t-shirt not been enormous. I got an age 5-6 for my five year old, but it could have almost fitted me as a skinny fit. So I had to reshape it before I started.
I turned the t-shirt inside out and drew around one of their old t-shirts to get the size. As I cut off the sleeves too I cut a half moon shape from them to make a cap sleeve and reattached these first before sewing up the side seams. I have only had a few goes at sewing jersey and I must admit, I'm not a huge fan, give me nice interfaced quit weight cotton any day. I have found that a long straight stitch reinforced with a zigzag stitch seems to hold quite well and allow for stretch without breaking.
The t-shirt remade, I cut the bottom off it 25cm for the armpit. Obviously the easiest way is to check with child present, as is also the case for determining the length of the skirt. That however, is the only bit of sewing where I find having a small child around is a good idea. And I didn't, so I had to use my judgement and other items of clothing. To make the skirt, cut a length across the width of the fabric. Mine was 160cm by about 30cm. Join the short sides right sides facing to make a tube, mark the centre with a pin, then gather the top edge either by hand or machine until it matches the bottom width of the t-shirt. Pin to the top, right sides facing- and use loads of pins!
Join with a zigzag stitch. And that's the dress done! Having subsequently tried this on young Wilbs, I found it to be a bit on the short side, so I attached a length of lace to the bottom of the skirt. The one great thing about jersey is that it doesn't fray, so you can leave the edges unhemmed.

The apron was made using a couple of white fat quarts I had previously bought for other things. Not sure what now and they've been in the fabric basket a while!
I made four straps from the width of the quart by 5cm. Fold and press in half along the length, then open out and fold edges into the centre. Press back in half again and sew.
The top was made from two 18cm square pieces. I marked 2cm in from each bottom edge and drew a line down to them from the top corner. I also shaped the top a little. Sandwich the straps in between the layers, pointing downwards and sew around the side and top edges. Clip the corners, turn the right side out and press, then top stitch. (Ignore the placement of the straps in the photo. I realised in time that they were wrong, wrong, wrong!)
The lower half of the apron, I cut two rectangles, the measurements I gauged from the skirt. I rounded the corners and sewed around the sides and bottom, turning right side out and pressing. I gathered the central 12cm. The central band was 22cm by 6cm. Cut two of these. Attach the top to one of the long sides, right sides facing, and the bottom the the opposing long side, sandwiched with the other central band piece.
Fold down the band piece that is only attached to the skirt and fold under the top edge so that it matches with its counterpart. Pin. fold in the sides and press, inserting the straps as you do so.
Sew all around the central band and that's it!

The white rabbit was made in a similar way to the Alice dress. I made up layers of netting, white fabric and something I used as a net curtain once upon a time, joined the sides and gathered it to make up the skirt, then joined it onto a white t-shirt. The waistcoat was another t-shirt, cut into a waistcoat shape and I stitched a pocket to it.

Hopefully I made two outfits that can be used again under another guise, either as fancy dress again, or just as dresses for the girls to use anytime. But you don't need to splash out a fortune, and they don't take a huge amount of sewing skill or time to throw together>


Sunday, 9 June 2013

Style and Reinvention

Having a bit of a break from things is always a good way to have a little mental tidy up and also to have a bit of a creative exploration without any pressure. Reading a magazine in the bath yesterday, I was struck by the fact that most successful designers/makers have a particular style that makes them instantly identifiable. In wondering which direction to go myself, it got me thinking, did I have a style?

In short the answer is no. I do exactly that. I sew stuff. I make stuff. My tastes and what I decide to make very much reflect my mood on the day or what has been sparking my imagination that week. Some days I can be steampunk, others, vintage, flowery, retro, girly, manga, Victorian, shabby chic, burlesque or modern. It varies as much as the play list on my ipod which ranges from Metallica to New Kids on the Block, Tchaikovsky to Swedish House Mafia and Professor Elemental. That's just me.

So is my lack of a signature style a problem? I know of people that are very much into their chosen genre, sometimes at the exclusion of anything else. And they can be possessive about it too. I suppose we've all been there though. I remember when I was in my teens and music was everything, that you couldn't listen to Indie and Metal, couldn't like Blur and Oasis. Yet its the merging of styles that often progresses things. Recently I saw someone one Facebook complaining that their retro event was being invaded by youth, jumping on the bandwagon. The suggestion was that they should go and find their own thing. Yet without the injection of newcomer, of new blood, it all becomes staid, it won't move on. Music wouldn't be the rich variety we are now blessed with if different genres hadn't meshed together over the years.

I tend to cherry pick. I take the bits I like from certain styles without getting to heavily into it. But that's just the way I am. I know a little about a lot, I'm a jack of all trades. Maybe one day, all of the different elements will mold together into a signature style for me. But that won't come if its forced, it needs to be organic. If I was looking to set up a global enterprise then I appreciate that a signature style would be useful, if not essential. But I'm not. I'm a backroom crafter, doing what I do and loving what I do. And that's more important than anything else.

Coming up..( if this isn't making a rod for my own back I don't know what is!)
Outfits for a Mad Hatters Tea Party
A Minnie Mouse themed Birthday party.