Saturday, August 13, 2016

DIY Thread Spool Holder

DIY Spool Holder
I need a spool holder. I do own a small wooden spool rack, but I'm not in love with it enough to purchase a larger, more expensive unit. I found the wooden spool rack was a bit wobbly on the table. So here's my version of a super quick and cheap DIY Thread Spool Holder project.


Materials:

  • egg carton (cut the cover off)
  • wooden dowels from the dollar store
  • air drying clay from the dollar store
  • hot glue gun


Step 1: Cut dowels to desire length and insert in to a ball of air drying clay. 

Step 2: Once the clay has dried/harden, hot glue the clay onto the egg carton.

Step 3: Insert your spools!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Three Little Pigs Pop-Up Quiet Book

The Three Little Pigs felt pop-up book

I love pop-up books. I love the delightful surprises that pop-up each time a page is turned. I love discovering the secrets behind every pull strip, rotating pivot, and hinged flap.

So when I saw pop-up books at the book store, I really wanted to buy one for my son. But my husband was quickly against this because he knew the book would be destroyed fairly quickly. I didn't argue with him, he was right...the book I was holding already had rips and tears. Paper pop-up books are made for kids, but aren't meant for kids.

That is why when I started to design a quiet book for my son, I designed it to be a pop-up quiet book. Made with 100% wool felt, heavy weight interfacing, and thread, it should withstand heavy play. No glue, every piece is securely stitched in place. Below are the pages from The Three Little Pigs felt pop-up book.


The front cover has a pocket to store all the finger puppet characters.

An overview of the straw house page.

Detail of the pop-up straw house and finger puppets.

This pig is having a mud bath.

Behind the straw house is a pop-up clothes line.

Turning the page will pop up the back of the stick house. The stick house has been "flipped" to reduced bulkiness.

An overview of the stick house.

Going fishing. The fishing rod is removable.

Turning the page to the brick house.

An overview of the brick house.

A vegetable patch with carrots, radishes, and parsnips.

Back yard camping by the fire.

The "fire" is from a tea light candle I've taken apart.

The blanket hides the battery compartment and on/off switch.

What I also like about the book is that there is no text. Through play, each child tells their own version of The Three Little Pigs.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Making the switch from Eco-fi felt to 100% wool felt.

LEFT: 100% wool felt.  RIGHT: Eco-fi felt.

When I first started making felt puppets, I used Eco-fi felt. Readily available, Eco-fi felts are polyester fibers made from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. Not only is it cheap to buy, but it is made from plastic bottles that would otherwise end up in landfill.

But it wasn't until I came across an old puppet I made for my niece that made me search for a higher quality felt. You see, her puppets have worn out from play. The felt has fuzzed up like a used kitchen sponge. It hurts even more when I think about the hours spent hand sewing her puppets! I came across 100% wool felt when I was reading through craft books, and I decided to look into it.

It turns out that not only is 100% wool felt really expensive, but I have to order it on-line. After searching on-line for a supplier, I placed my first felt order and made the switch.

LEFT: 100% wool felt.  RIGHT: Eco-fi felt

Since making the switch from Eco-fi felt to 100% wool felt, I have noticed a huge difference in quality. Wool felts are softer, smoother, and cut cleaner. 100% wool felt comes with bonus benefits too! Some of my favourites include:
  • Wool felt is wear resistant. Play after play, wool felt will not pill and fuzz.
  • Wool felt has anti-bacterial properties.
  • Wool felt is fire resistant. It self extinguishes itself making it kid-friendly and baby-safe.
  • Wool felt is a natural and sustainable resource. I used to believe that by using Eco-fi felt I was being environmentally friendly. When in fact, I am encouraging the use of plastic bottles...which is not very environmentally friendly at all.
So even though wool felt is expensive and I have to wait a week for it to arrive, I am happy to make the switch. I am happy to know the puppets I make (to the best of my knowledge) are safe for children, environmentally sound, and a step closer to "heirloom" quality.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Making A Garden Teepee

A teepee for the children's garden.

While I was at the library, I came upon a book titled Stitched At Home by Mandy Shaw. Inside, there was a project for a DIY garden teepee. Looking at the photographs convinced me this teepee would make an awesome hide-out for my son when he's in the garden.



The garden teepee is made using outdoor fabric.

Since the teepee is going to be in the garden throughout the entire summer, it is made with outdoor fabric. I'd hate to spend all my time making the teepee only to find the colours have faded (or the fabric torn from the weather) at the end of summer!





“D”rings helps to secure the teepee firmly to the ground.

What I like about her teepee was the added “D” rings. Sewn onto each corner, it helps to anchor the teepee firmly into the ground. 





Appliqué using satin fabric, and metallic thread.

For the appliqué, I used scraps of satin left over from my Superhero Cape Project. I used metallic threads to satin stitched around the edges.





Long strips of fabric ties are sewn onto each pole casting, and are held up with small cable ties.

Once the teepee was completed, I found the fabric kept “sagging” down the poles. I didn't understand the author's instructions with the use of velcro. So to solve this problem, I made long fabric ties and sewn them to the top of each pole castings. Small cable ties are used to secure them in place.



The fabric ties are wrapped tightly around the poles,  and at the same time, hide the cable ties.

Once everything is fasten with cable ties, it is just simply wrapping the fabric ties around the poles a few times to complete the teepee.



Children's play nook.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Personalized Superhero Finger Puppet


Personalized superhero finger puppet.

Meet Super Halfie  my little superhero. Although Super Halfie can't quite fly (yet), he can climb and dash from room to room without losing an ounce of energy.

Super Halfie loves cats. He makes sure they are well feed and get lots of cuddles each day. He is also on a mission to teach his father Cantonese. When his mother is feeling stressed or overwhelmed, he stares at her right in the eye and throws her his super smile letting her know that everything will be alright.

Who is your superhero? Customize your own superhero from my PDF pattern or have one custom made, from my Etsy store.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

DIY Chinese Button Knot and Chinese New Year Outfit for Baby





For my son's first Chinese New Year, I decided to make him a traditional Chinese New Year outfit to wear when we visited families during the Chinese New Year holidays. I don't have a pattern/tutorial to work with so I had to learn everything on my own. I could go to Pacific Mall and buy an outfit, but if I did, then I wouldn't have learned how to make and sew bias strips, taught myself the traditional art of Chinese knotting, and sew baby booties!

Here are the steps I took to create the Chinese outfit for my son:

Part 1 — Create the Patterns


To begin, I picked an old hat, top, and pair of pants to sacrifice, because they will be taken apart and will be used as a guide to create the pattern. The top I picked had a collar similar to the Chinese outfit style. The pants I picked are corduroys, because the fabric I'm using (Chinese Brocade) doesn't stretch. After dressing him up, I took notes that the sleeves should be shorter, as well has his pants.



Next I took a seam ripper, and took the outfit apart, piece by piece.  The changes I made are: shorter sleeves and pants, and the front is cut into two pieces (because I want buttons) and the corners are rounded. As I'm taking apart the clothes, I'm also taking notes of the seam allowance, and how they're sewn together.



Then I took the pieces and traced them onto Kraft paper to create my pattern.

Part 2 — Make double fold bias strips.


There are many online tutorials on how to make and sew bias strips, so I'll skip my tutorial on this subject.

For the finish hat, and cuffs: I cut strips of fabric 4 inches wide to create a 1 inch strip.

For the collar and front: I cut strips of fabric 2 inches wide to create a half inch strip.


Part 3 — Putting the outfits together.

MAKE THE PANTS


The pants were the first piece I made. I've never sewn pants before, but here are the following steps I took:

Step 1a and 1b: Pin fabric right sides together and sew the sides of each leg.
Step 2a and 2b: Sew the bias strips
Step 3: Pin right sides together and sew. Repeat for the back.
Step 4: Pin right sides together and sew.
Step 5: Fold over, sew, and add elastics.

MAKE THE TOP


Here are the steps I took to sew the top:

Step 1: Sew the bias strip. Repeat for the other arm.
Step 2: Pin right sides together, sew the shoulder. Repeat for the other side.
Step 3: Pin right sides together, and sew the arm piece to the front and back. Repeat for the other side.
Step 4: Pin right sides together, and sew the sides. Repeat for the other side.
Step 5: Sew on the collar.
Step 6: Sew the bias strip along the edge. 



Part 4 — Make the Chinese button knots.





This is the stage where it stressed me out the most. It's a bit confusing to learn, partly because I was looking at black and white illustrations. So I hope my colourful photographs will make it easier for you to follow.

MAKE THE FABRIC "STRING"

1. Cut a long strip of fabric about 1 inch in width, and by approximately 30 inch long.
2. Fold in half, wrong sides together, and press (you end up with half inch by 30 inch fabric)
3. Open and fold BOTH the long edges towards the center, and press.
4. Fold in half and stitch close to the folded edge.


MAKE THE BUTTON KNOT

Working over a foam surface (such as a sofa cushion), follow the steps in the following illustrations. The colour pins represents each steps.
Start by putting a red pin in the middle of the string. Then  blue...

Then yellow...

Then pink...

Then white...

Remove all and pins and pull where the red pins are...

You will have something like this...

Get rid of the top loop by...

moving the string through the knot.
A Chinese button knot

Cut off excess fabric, leaving about 1.5 inch of string.

Burn the ends so it doesn't fray (I tapped it over a burner).

Hand sew the buttons onto the outfit.




Part 5 — Make the hat.

The hat was a copied from one of his many sleeper hats. However, I added a one inch bias strip around the edge, and a button on top to finish it off.



Part 5 — Make the booties.

With left over fabrics, I found an online pattern to create these cute little booties to complete his Chinese New Year outfit.