Showing posts with label toys. Show all posts
Showing posts with label toys. Show all posts

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What's That New Quilt Gonna Look Like?

As promised and on time!  So unlike me.  Okay maybe I promised more than one block when I posted yesterday.  Procrastinating is what I do best in life, so getting one done when I said I would is amazing progress.  If I had a therapist, s/he would be so pleased with me.

What do you think?  I added some of the stash to the Shades of Black charm pack I won from Quilt Taffy.  I cannot wait to get this one together.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Kite Flying Time!

With the warmer weather, I'm in the mood for flying kites again.  It's been a long time since I made these kites using David Michael's book, Making Kites, but they were easy for a novice to make and are as nice as the first day they flew about 12 years ago. 

Michael's book has a ton of ideas for making kites and spinners from all kinds of materials--poster board, shiny metallic wrapping paper, acoustic tiles, garbage bags, and, of course, ripstop nylon.  While the book gives clear and concise measurements and directions for some of the kites such as the Delta Star on the cover, sometimes you are on your own to figure out the measurements.  That can't be too hard, though, since I managed to do it easily for the two kites above!   

Want to start with something easy?  Try the Delta Star with all the measurements and directions.
  
 Making Kites (Step-by-step) 

Since I wanted to do a plain, old-fashioned kite, I used the Diamond Two-Stick pattern from  the book.  Unfortunately the books lacks measurements for this one.  Just in case someone else wants to try this one, I'm posting a semi-tutorial with the measurements I used.  My kites are about 31 inches across by 34 inches finished and fly just great.  Why those numbers?  No reason whatsoever.  It just kind of looked right and was smaller than the dowel length sold at the store.

Did I follow the Diamond's directions exactly?  No.  I don't think I am capable of that.  Rather than cutting out two triangular pieces and having to sew them together, I cut on the fold for one main piece.  I used a 35" line on the fold, slanted down and out 21" on the side, and drew a straight line from that point to the bottom on the 35" line.  All edges have a 1/4" seam folded twice for a clean finish.

Some things I learned along the way:
  • See that little green square between the two green circles above?  Don't do that.  I thought I would sew some of these squares on to thread the dowel through.  I actually had another one 3/4 of the way down.  They make it difficult to bend the dowel to fit into the pockets--very bad idea. After breaking a few dowels, I removed the one I had put on toward the bottom.  Putting on ties is a much better idea.  You absolutely need the tie at the point where the dowels meet anyway. 
  • I  also tried using 1/8" dowels figuring they would be lighter.  They are but they also break easily. The book says use 1/4" dowels and now I do!
  • Buy extra dowels and carry them with you.   Cutting the kite flying trip short because of broken dowels is so annoying!
  • For the side dowel pockets, make them rectangular rather than square.  Some of mine are square, and I think it gives the dowel room to move around.  I ended up sewing another line to make them narrower. And, don't make them too long!  It just makes it harder to bend the dowels into place increasing the chance of breaking them.  An inch and a half finished length is more than enough.
  • Use button or even upholstery thread to sew on the plastic ring for the kite string.  Those rings take a LOT of punishment from the wind.
  • Carry a needle, thread, and a couple of small rings to make repairs if needed.  You may never need it, but it's nice to know it's there. 
Back to the construction.  The fin is attached in the middle as you will see in the book (and in the pic below), down 3 1/2" from the top.  This is the piece that will hook to the kite string.  I used a 26 1/2" long  piece of fabric for the fin, slanted down a bit and out 16".   (This is not on a fold--you only want 1 triangular piece not a diamond shape.)

You don't want to come all the way back in at the 26" mark, though as you would on the main piece.  Square that off by drawing a line 2 1/2 inches down at the other end and drawing the line from the 16" point to the 2  1/2 inch point.  I think this picture shows how the end is squared off as opposed to coming to a point as on the main kite piece.



Sew on those corner pocket pieces and a circular plastic piece on the tip of the fin.  You are ready to tie on your string.  I used the plastic pieces they sell at Joann's for making Roman shades. You do need a tail--just a long strip with smaller rectangles spaced down.  I took a tuck in each of the small rectangles to make them look a bit like bows.  My tails are 30" long with five 5 1/2" long "bows" about 6" apart.

Last, about all those geometric shapes on my kites--I was just in the mood for doing appliques.  I cut out shapes, pinned them on, and did an applique stitch on the machine.  Then I cut out the main fabric on the other side to have the shapes show on each side.  

Next on my sewing list is to make bags for toting these around.  Why didn't I think to do that before?   I'll post a tutorial.  UPDATE:  Click here to see my version of a kite carrier.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Reading Boat and Book

I made this a while back with my niece when she was working on her master's in education.  She wanted to make something for special needs kids who needed help in defining where they should be during a given activity.  While is is great for these kids, really any little guy will enjoy and benefit from it.

The boat is a really simple design with a back V-shaped panel that gives it depth. There were no little people around to demonstrate it,  so my plushy monster, Elliot is in there.  There is a pocket on the center where the lifesaver is for the book that goes with this.

The book was done with appliques and iron-on transfers for the lettering.  I covered the binder clips with cloth tubes to prevent the shiny chrome from vying for the kids' attention.  The overall purpose of the book is to teach the child about patience and the value of staying focused and on task.    It also, as you will see, contains a number of learning activities as well.
Inside the cover is a long poem that is probably NOT going to be read in one sitting at first!  It can be read  in part as the child is being introduced to the idea of using the boat, getting the boat out, and as the child gets settled into the boat.    The poem explains how another child named Patience Bean learns about being patient.  Over time, as kids pick up the rhymes, you should be able to read more and  more of the poem.  If the little one is getting impatient, read the important parts, explain the gist of the it, and move on to the rest of the book.  Click on any of the pictures to enlarge it for reading.

The actual story has few words and lots of activities.  Our "Patience" was drawn by my niece and painted on a little stuffed pillow form, but you could use a photo or scan in a picture for iron-on transfer.  That dot next to her is a Velcro dot.  Kids can move Patience from page to page as you read.
Here Patience asks the reader to look in the pockets for her treasures.  The pockets have different kinds of openings--button, snaps, Velcro--for practicing those skills.  Each treasure is a different shape and primary color so you can get some practice in on those.  Be sure to change up the placement on occasion.

The next page has zippered pockets.
Here a plastic side pressure buckle closure is used to hide the treasure.

 Last is a bottle with a message tied with a ribbon (tacked to the back) that has washed up on the beach.  Plastic cut in the shape of a bottle is sewn on with a zigzag stitch just as the appliques are.

How cute is that!  My niece is so creative!  The message in the bottle for the little person congratulates their patience and perseverance.
If you can't read it, again, just click on any of the pictures to enlarge.

We thought about making oars for the boat but decided against it.  Kids can make imaginary oars that won't accidentally hit someone.  The whole thing folds up nicely and goes into this tote with Patience Bean's name embroidered randomly across it.

If you want to give this a try for personal use and need any information, let me know. ( Please don't make these items for sale.  Thanks.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I Did It!!! My First Stupid Sock Creature

I finally decided to take the plunge and create something from John Murphy's book,  Stupid Sock Creatures:  Making Quirky, Lovable Figures from Cast-off Socks


Stupid Sock Creatures: Making Quirky, Lovable Figures from Cast-off Socks

I've been waiting because I didn't have any cast-off socks.  I like my socks, and no one was offering to donate theirs to the cause.  I felt a certain amount of guilt sacrificing a pair of perfectly good socks.  As it turned out, however, L'ove-Lorna was well worth it.  I am using the new style of naming I've seen in the papers lately which requires one to use an abundance of punctuation.


Is she not a thing of beauty?  Okay, she is cute, at least.  And, look at those eyes!

Filled with love.  And some stuffing.

Here she is in a more formal pose.  Those ears are great fun.


L'ove-Lorna can tie them in a knot but not a bow.




My first sock adventure!  I'm stoked!  I have some pink heart-shaped buttons.  She will probably have a sister by tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fabric Scraps into Simple Doll Quilts

I made my first of these doll quilts out of Keepsake Quilting's  fabric sample boxes.  Keepsake used to sell sets of tiny squares of the sample fabrics.  I loved going through them.   Even the boxes were special.  My sets came in small dark green boxes with gold lettering and gold elastic ties. They looked nice just sitting on the shelf  in my sewing room.  There was no way I could just toss them out when they were outdated.  So, this was my first doll quilt.

 This night-light doll  from a store near Lake Placid seems to enjoy them, too. 

The down side of finally using the samples is that I now know I can do something with even a two and a half inch square of scrap fabric.  When the stash of pathetically small pieces gets too out of control.  I start another doll quilt.
 The quilts also give me a chance to use up some of the children's fabrics I've bought simply because I like the design.

Who could resist this Raggedy Ann flannel I used for the backing on these two?


I was a bit disappointed to learn that Keepsake no longer sells the sample boxes.  While I really make MORE than enough scraps on my own, my collection is not nearly as diverse and exciting as the Keepsake collection.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Fabric Matching Games ala Chez Beeper Bebe

Chez Beeper Bebe has a tutorial for making matching games from fabric that inspired my attempts.  I have the worst time sticking to directions.  I always end up venturing off the path to try some new idea.  These have numbers of changes from the very nice ones on the tutorial.  So here are my three versions.

This first one has farm animals to match up and a bag that closes with a button.

I used the same fabric for the bag lining and the backs of each piece.  For all three sets, I sewed around the square leaving an opening for turning and to stuff in a square of batting.  I hand sewed them shut and sewed in about a quarter of an inch around the outside to stabilize the batting.  This is a picture of the bag closed.  I used a loop of very thin, rounded elastic (I can't think of the right name for it now) sewn into the back top seam of the bag to pull over the button which is sewn  a few inches down the front center of the bag.


Since I had enough animal prints to do another, I tried out a new bag design.



For this one I tacked the ribbon to the back with a few stitches to keep it from getting lost.  I did the bag as two long strips sewn together leaving an opening for turning right side out. Then I stuffed half of the bag to the inside for the lining.  I made the strip just a tiny bit narrower at one end so that the lining end would fit in nicely.  Since I forgot to put the fabric picture on the front before sewing up the bag, this one just has the picture held in place on the bag with double-sided iron-on.  There is no finishing stitch around the edge of the picture.  The button bag has the edges sewn which I would prefer.  However, I don't think these kinds of things get used heavily enough to make much of a difference.  Here is the bag with the pieces:


The backing is the same as the other set.


I found another great fabric with musical instruments that I thought might work for this project.  I should probably have looked for a fabric that would work with the browns/tans instead of the black I chose for the bag and backing.  It's a bit drab for kids, but here it is:

 
I tried a drawstring for this bag.


I squared off the bottom of all three bags by sewing triangular corners and serging them. 

I really can't decide which bag I like more.  The drawstring and ribbon will probably travel better.  The button one, though, has the advantage of providing the wee ones with some eye-hand coordination practice.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My version of John Murphy's monster plushie


In the fall I watched John Murphy's video tutorial on making monster plushies at Threadbanger's site.  By the winter holidays, I had the time and courage to attempt my own.  These are the first two I did.


Since the fabric used for the arms and part of each one's ears was called cheetah fabric, I  named them Tiger and Elliot.  I guess everyone can figure out how Tiger got his name.  If you are from New York State or really into politics, you may understand where Elliot got his.  Since these were not for little kids I went with button eyes.  Elliot had bloodshot eyes (much as he namesake's) as you can see here.  Yes, he is a blue blood.


I decided to birth some more of these for newly arrived grandchildren of my book club members, and Tattletales were born.  I do consider that my monsters are born rather than made.  They take on personalities.  I swear they do.  These new sweet things tattle on the new owners like Addison's below:


Yes, that says, "Addison did it.  Babies have it way too easy.  These little monsters will toughen them up.  I gave this one embroidered button eyes for safety purposes.   I think they look just as nice as the real buttons.  There is the added advantage of using the little beast to help with learning colors.  The nest came from a pattern by Michael Miller that you can find here.  THEY call it a soft basket rather than a nest.  There are a number of  great tutorials on the right side of the website.  Just scroll down to the "soft basket" one that I think should be called a nest. 


This tattletale was for Reid:

He has felt eyes sewn on that give him a bit of a condescending attitude with those droopy eyelids.  I decided to make his feet the same as the hands.  I like that three-fingered and toed look best.  Actually his feet tuck quick nicely into the basket, but I wanted to show his adorable toes.  Eli's tattletale sneaked out before I got his picture.  I'll have to see if I can get the family to take a picture.  If he behaves as badly as Elliot, they have probably thrown him out on the street.

Elliot is still with me.  My nephew, Randy, takes him home occasionally, but he tells me that Elliot behaves so badly he has to keep bringing him back.  Randy has, however, been teaching Elliot how to play lacrosse.  Or perhaps Elliot stole the equipment from Randy.  I'm not quite sure.  That is Elliot's mother in the background, the couch.  They are indeed cut from the same cloth.  Stay tuned for the story of the reupholstered furniture coming to this blog soon.
 


I got John Murphy's, "Stupid Sock Creatures:  Making Quirky, Lovable Figures from Cast-off Socks.  I'll post my first creation soon. I've had a bit of trouble gathering socks.   It's amazing how attached people are to their socks.  People react badly when asked to part with their them, especially the striped ones.