Monday, 26 November 2012

QR quilt

The International Quilt Festival of Ireland has a category in 2013 called "What's App-ening?" (<rolleyes>) which is actually very cool idea: make a quilt that is a readable QR code. I've been mulling it over for a while, and then today I found out about a website where you can create a valid QR with an image.

Here's mine:

I'm not sure I'll get around to making it in time to submit, but I really like the idea.

Saturday, 24 November 2012


I have not been posting much, but I have been getting some stuff done. I have a cat toy that will be winging its way to its rightful owner, a mere 3 years late, whenever I finally make it down to the post office. It was one of my Projects of Shame. The ones that sit in a box, glaring at you every time you try to clean up. I had hand stitched most of it about 3 years ago but kept not getting around to finishing it. What's worse is, it took about half an hour total to get it done. *headslap*. It does feel pretty good to tick it off my todo list though.

It's based on pattern from a book a friend gave me. Which I have forgotten the name of, but to which I will give credit. But not now, because it's raining.

(Edit: it's from Amy Butler's "little stitches for little ones")

K loves it, so hopefully its rightful owner will too.

I've also done the head of another cat. That project has been percolating at the back of my mind for a while. I love the idea of making toys from old clothes, so when C ripped one of his favourite shirts I yoinked it immediately. There's something delightful about using existing features in a project. I've used two of the button holes from the front of the shirt to make eyes (one of the button holes was green, so the cat has coloured eyes \o/). The seams at the sides of the shirt had these funny inserts which made the perfect nose. The corners of the collar became the ears. On the whole I'm very happy with the head. I think I need to percolate a bit more before I start into the body though.

Of course, I got stuck into it, so I forgot to take process shots. These will have to do you :)

I've also been working on some dungarees for K, but I'll post about those when they're a bit further along.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Design course: prototypes

I've just submitted my assignments for this week (a whole 6 hours before the deadline!). We had to prototype three of the concepts from last week.

(I'm experimenting with watermarks here. Please let me know if you have any tips.)

Prototype 1: the costume (I just realised I already blogged about this! Well here are some better photos, and here's to more sleep tonight :) )

Prototype 2: The Appa plushie. I decided to just prototype the embroidery, so here's a first draft face and horn.

Prototype 3: Rocking horse. I cut up a pillowcase, drew on it, and hung it on a (borrowed) rocking horse. Oh, and I added a part of a Tripp Trapp high chair that has always looked much too useful to throw out, representing horns. Lazy? Perhaps. Sufficient? I hope so :)

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Design course: prototype 1 -- Child's costume

One of the assigments for this week is to make three prototypes of potential solutions to our chosen "gap". My gap is currently phrased as "I cannot hug Appa".

I'll be making prototypes for a children's Appa costume, an Appa rocking horse and an Appa plushie (which was my original idea).

I threw together a costume prototype in my craft time this afternoon. It was a lot of fun, and I'm really happy with how it turned out. I think I'll probably need to retake the photos to adhere to the course guidelines though.

This costume is in two parts, which was a decision that came out of the process of making the prototype. Dolls are even harder to get clothes on than kids in some ways, because they're not as bendy. They don't whinge about it as much mind you.

Appa's middle legs are just empty sleeves here; they would be stuffed in the full-scale costume. The trousers are also holding themselves up here, whereas on a child they would need braces or something. The horns are just scraps with a little bit of wire in them. I'm not sure exactly how I would horns at full scale.

The shape of the hood obviously needs work too, but as I said, I threw it together :) Overall, I'm very happy, and much more confident now that I could do a decent Appa costume for a child.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Quick hit: another crown

Hoody Bear got his own crown this afternoon:

I actually put this one together in half an hour. Practice pays off :)

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Design course update

As I said before, I'm doing a design course with University of Pennsylvania through Coursera. This is just a quick update of some of the sketches I've been doing for the project.

For this assigment we just had to do a sketch of any chair that met some guidelines (such as clear lines, and filling the frame).

Orthographic view of a chair.

Chair from 2-point perspective.

10 possible designs for filling my "gap". Some of these are really reaching, but I had a deadline :)

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Beary's crown

K requested a crown for her bear, Beary. (We're imaginative with names in this house). She was very specific, Beary is a princess, so she needs a heart on her crown. I am resistant to the princess phenomenon*, but I try not to be obnoxious about it, so Beary got a heart, but non-standard colours.

I have a half-written post about K's own crown (which no doubt inspired her request), but I have no process shots from that one, so I was extra careful to take photos today. It took me a little over an hour, which is not bad going.

You work it, girl!

I was delighted to see that my template from previous crowns worked really nicely on Beary.

I also had a leftover piece of elastic which was exactly the right size. This kind of serendipity happens to me all the time when crafting. I love it. It makes me feel like things are going right.

This is the colour combination I settled on:

I like to use multiple layers of felt to give the crown stiffness. Here's my trick for cutting out layers so that the foreground is framed by the background. (I've used two layers for this crown, but it also works on three layers). Lay the layers of felt on top of one another leaving approximately DOUBLE the amount of margin you want.

As I said, I already had a template to cut the crown shape, but it's just made from stiff paper. You could eyeball it if you're confident enough, but I wouldn't recommend trying to fold the felt in half to get it symmetrical. I also recommend that you don't use your best scissors. Felt is a harsh taskmaster, especially when it's made of recycled plastic bottles.

Now move the top layer down so that it is evenly framed, top and bottom, by the background layer.

Trim to the point where your patience runs out or your perfectionism gives up.

Above you can see the decorations cut out, but not attached.

At this point I moved on to covering the elastic for the back. I probably wouldn't do it this way again, but in case you're interested, here's how I did it.

Random bit of cotton, (very) approximately one and a half times the length of the elastic:

Sew each end of the elastic securely.

Apparently I didn't take a shot of the process of sewing the covering closed while holding the elastic under tension. Whether it was because it was a stupid idea, or because I didn't have enough hands, is immaterial. Not recommended!

Next I sewed the embellishments onto the yellow layer. I don't have any process shots of that either, but then I was running out of time to go pick K up from pre-school. For the small pink circles I found a nice little flower stitch on my Sewing Computer (as the manual likes to call it). The diamondy things are sewn by eye. The horizontal line is not straight; the centre third of it is, but the other two thirds slope up towards the edge. It's subtle, but I think it lends it a 3-dimensional quality.

I used a zig-zag stitch to attach the heart, which gives it a slight puffiness that I like. I then accidentally used the same stitch for the edge, because of the impending deadline. Another bit of serendipity, I think; I really like it. I couldn't stand the wonkiness at the bottom right (felt sometimes stretches as you work with it), so I trimmed it again before sewing the bottom down.

I had left the sides open to slip in the elastic and stitch it in with more zig-zag. If this were for a child I would have spent more time securing the elastic, but I think the bear is responsible enough to be careful with her crown.

I love the way her ears poke up in the gaps there. Overall a very successful afternoon's sewing.

* It's been touch and go sometimes, but it seems to be working out okay. She requested Lord of The Rings Lego today because it had scary monsters in it.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Old projects: play kitchen

A few things are conspiring to keep me out of my woman-cave. The result is that I'm not getting much made. In the interest of keeping the blog momentum up I'll try to make some posts about long-complete projects.

A couple of years ago I developed serious play-kitchen-envy when visiting a friend. She had made it herself from a TV stand, and it was wonderful. I had to make one myself! It became an urgent need. I was very lucky to find this old phone table* in a car boot sale:

(you can't see here the two drawers that were originally in that space on the right)

C played along, and quickly became very enthusiastic, so this was a joint project. K decided that the kitchen should be blue, so we bought ourselves a lovely bright blue gloss:

And black for inside the oven:

(Leaving the kitchen drying in our living room like this turned out to be a mistake. We left a vent-window open, and someone used that to make their way in and steal our laptops :( )

The sink here is totally cogged from the one that started the madness. Isn't the coat hook a perfect faucet? The sink bowl is a painted cake tin. We were a bit shy of cutting into the original seat so we cut a piece of ply wood for the purpose.

We used the fronts of the drawers to make doors for the oven, and I found a plastic mirror in the local euro-shop. The rings are drawn on with permanent marker, and the knobs are just small door knobs from a hardware shop.

This is the best view of the grill that C meticulously cut out with his jigsaw.

And a couple more beauty shots:

This was such a fun project, and it was surprisingly easy to get very impressive results. I think we calculated that it cost us about €40, including some paint we can use for future projects.

The catches we bought for the doors of the oven are a bit too stiff for the kids to open. In fact, I should really get around to just taking them off. Otherwise, it's been a massive hit, and gets played with pretty much every day.

* For those of you under about 16, phone tables used to be a very common piece of furniture in Irish homes. They would sit just inside the hall door, and the house phone would sit on top. In my house it was always covered in post that had been opened but not probably dealt with, phone books (I guess you don't remember those either), and all sorts of other detritous.

Edited to add: Looks like my typo in the original post title has been immortalized in the URL. Ah well.