Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Playmat Begins

Been a busy month and not much of that was spent on craft, only a little knitting and some planning of different projects I hope to start before bubs is born. I've begun the baby playmat and yet again think I may have bitten off more than I can chew. I've decided on sizing and drafted a design, cut my hoop in half for the overhead toy dangle framework (there's got to be an easier way to say that), and bought what I hope is all the material needed so now comes the interesting part - putting it together. I say interesting because I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to do all of what I have grand plans to do but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. I love projects that make me think, puzzle solve and learn a new technique or two along the way.

I wanted bubs to play in a sensory playground so I've decided that in the 4 corners of the playmat to have different things to touch and play with while overhead there will be other toys to dangle and entice. For the corners I've chosen:

  • a big worm whose segments are made of different materials such as fur, tule and spotted puff paint

  • 2 flowers with puffed petals

  • a tree with felt leaves to ruffle little fingers through

  • butterflies with crinkly wings

  • Here's a pic of the templates I've drafted for each of the bits I need. (Apologies in advance - these pics aren't the clearest as they were mostly taken at night and the lighting and focus are off - I still need more practice with my camera)

    I've started work on the worm and have all the parts ready for assembly. The blue fur was easy, a simple cut, as was the green tule over some green cotton homespun. The next two segments took me two nights to complete as I hand sewed tight rows of hot pink strung sequins and of orange feathers wool onto the segments. Then I spotted yellow puff paint onto the yellow segment which gives it a nice bumpy effect. I've decided not to activate the puff paint and it feels nice as it is.

    Each of the material segments ready for embelishing....

    ...and handsewing in the sequins to make sure none of the little suckers get loose.

    Then onto the face which I forgot to buy material for so I've improvised. I wanted a pale pink cotton but the lightest I had was lolly pink then remembered that I had some sheer pale pink organza which I layered over white cotton homespun. Into an embroidery hoop and I sewed the eyes and mouth with some glossy black embroidery floss. So once they're pieced together it should look something like this.

    Next step is to cut out the tree parts and the butterflies.

    Monday, September 7, 2009

    1st baby quilt fix

    My sister makes quilts and she's self-taught for the most part. I think a friend of hers may have given her a few pointers but basically she worked it out herself and makes some lovely colourful quilts. As a result when she taught me how to make quilts, I didn't learn how to finish them properly as she hates hand sewing and prefered to machine sew the binding on as tho it were bias binding. So one weekend in January 2008 we sat down and I made my first ever baby quilt with a very simple design of squares in yellows and greens.

    Here's the bias binding look. Not the neatest of finishes and over time the binding tends to fold back on itself.

    Recently I made another baby quilt for a friend and since it was to be a gift, decided to learn how to finish the binding on the quilt properly (I actually don't mind hand sewing). I found a number of websites with tutorials and fiddled with how wide I wanted the binding to be, learned how to mitre the corners properly and then found a video by Marci Baker which was brilliant in learning how to easily join the ends of the binding together so that the join isn't visible, or at least no more than any other join along the very long strip of binding. And it was so easy to do that I decided to replace the original binding on my first baby quilt.

    I started with unpicking the original binding (tedious, tedious job), ironed out the bias binding folds along the binding strip, folded it in half and attached it to the edges of my quilt. Then sewed it on, folded the binding over the edge and hand stitched it in place. I used a ladder stitch which I found to be the easiest hidden stitch for me.

    It took me most of the day, on and off, to hand stitch it in place but I wasn't in a hurry and had the little one to run around after. And it's so satisfying watching it come together so neatly. No more lazy bias binding dodgy jobs for me - this isn't difficult to do, just takes a little extra time and looks so much better, as you can see.

    Tuesday, September 1, 2009

    Kiddies Art Smock

    I've started sitting the little one down to try drawing (read: scribble back and forth on anything in reach) and while it all washes out of clothing, hair and skin, I was getting tired of soaking clothes each time we had a drawing session so I needed to make a smock. I had some soft demin left over from an attempt to make a baby sling (little one hated being in it so never got around to using the rest of the material) so decided to try making the art smock out of this.

    I modified a pattern that I found here. The original pattern is for a size 4-7 and my little one is still a size 1 so I got out my trusty calculator and measuring the lengths, widths, etc, I resized the pattern to 82% of the original and redrew the whole thing on greaseproof paper. I didn't bother with the applique, sewed straight to the edges of all parts and didn't bother cutting nicks in the material to join the arms to the body and in the end it made no difference, the smock still came together very well without the extra fussing. I did however zigzag the edges of each piece because as soon as I cut them out they started fraying. Oh, to have an overlocker. Sigh.

    Three done, one to go.

    I found the corners really tricky as my machine kept eating the fabric whenever I started the next side. Here's my solution:

    I used a needle and thread to hold onto the fabric (inserted needle and pulled thread only half way through then grabbed hold of all bits of thread/needle) while I sewed to the end of the current side, spun the fabric 90 degrees and started the next side. I used the thread/needle to help pull the fabric through until it cleared the presser foot and then just pulled the needle and thread the rest of the way through the fabric to remove it. Worked like a charm and saved much frustration without having to break the thread between sides or getting the fabric gobbled.

    The end result:

    Tried it on the little one and it fits perfectly but I'll need to make another larger one to use in the near future. Also I'll cut the back in half lengthwise to make it easier to get on and off and make it more comfortabe to wear with the extra length I want in it, so it's less dress-like and more smock-like.

    And now the best part -we can start playing with more of the messier activities, like finger painting and I can't wait!
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