Sunday, December 17, 2017

A Nativity Lamb

This year the boys were in a nativity play. The focus of the play, rather than telling the whole story, was the experiences of the Shepherds. Sprog dressed up as a cute little shepherd using a slightly modified costume we were provided with.

At the rehearsal the night before Widget didn't want to do anything but hold onto Mummy. I was pulled into the play as another shepherd. Since I would be carrying him anyway it was suggested that Widget become a lamb or sheep instead of a teeny tiny shepherd. This was all great in theory, but a costume was needed. Overnight. And all fabric stores were closed.

I dug into my stash and got to work.

For fabric I used some white t-shirting I had picked up at the second-hand shop, two old long sleeved t-shirt (one black, one grey), and some white fleece I had leftover from making Paw Patrol vests and capes.

I used the scuba hood pattern from Brindelle and Twig, and the Junior Jogger pattern from Peekaboopatterns as the base for top and bottom respectively.

For the bottoms I made a straightforward version, with grey for the legs, and black cuffs.

For the top it was a little bit trickier. The arms, front, back and hood inner were white, with black cuffs on the end of the sleeves, but the hood outer, and a back over lay was made out of fleece. The back overlay I cut the shoulders to fit, but cut wide down the sides and over the bottom to create a kind of sheep fleece effect. I kept the fleece to a minimum given that our Christmas is in summer. A singlet would be enough to keep him warm. 

To the hood I added ears. I cut large triangles, and included a pink triangle inside them, then folded them over to create an ear look. To get them right I basted them into ear shapes and basted them on to the hood, before attaching them securely. 

The tail was a couple of rectangles of fleece, sewn together with curved ends, stuffed with scraps and pinned in place. I put them on the top for two reasons. 1. It would be more comfortable, and more visible. 2. It meant the pants could be used as regular pants. 

On the day to complete the effect Widget had a bit of face paint. He liked the look so much he insisted on keeping it on while we went out for lunch and shopping with the Grandparents for the boys Christmas book despite the temperature being in the early to mid 20's and the sun beating down. 


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Bob the Builder Builder's Yard - Cake Version

Sprog has turned three, and with a birthday comes a party. I already made him a shirt for his Bob the Builder costume, now it was cake time. To make things fairly easy for myself I chose to do a cake version of the Builder's Yard where Bob has his office, and all the work vehicles are parked. It is also implied that Bob lives there.

It looks like this in toy form:
It a very busy time of year for us and I after a particularly stressful start of the week I decided to ease my workload. I went to the supermarket and ordered a plain slab of chocolate sponge cake to carve and ice. 

I had borrowed some Bob toys from a friend and used a selection on the cake.  The design itself was simple, a large square of double sponge, with a house and shed along one side, a lean to on the other, a wooden fence on 2 sides and chocolate gravel on the yard itself. Added to that was Pilchard the cat, Spud the scarecrow, and of course, Bob and Wendy. 

The house and shed were layers of sponge cut to size, then iced with fondant roofs and windows. Pilchard sat on the roof of the house. The lean-to was in another corner with Spud the scarecrow hiding on the roof waiting for the opportunity to create mischief.

The fencing was made of alternating wafer sticks. Alternating so I would get maximum coverage without a change in visual from one type to another. They held themselves up from being stuck to the buttercream icing.  For the gravel I tossed white and dark chocolate buttons in the food processors and whizzed until it was small enough and spread it over the rest. Leftover wafers filled the lean-to, the bucket on Scoop (the red one). Leftover gravel was put down for Scoop to scoop up. Unfortunately the carefully placed gravel did not make it to the party, it was too enticing for the newly minted 3-year-old to play with. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Maui and Moana dress ups

Sprog and Widget were invited to a Moana party and wanted to dress up. Sprog, age 5 1/2 chose Maui, and Widget, age not quite 3, wanted to be Moana.

Image result for maui and moana Image result for moana

My general plan was for Maui's costume to be a shirt and shorts base with a leafy skirt and other accoutrements over top. I used the Beachcomber Shorts from Peek-a-boo Pattern Shop and the Bookworm Button Up from Blank Slate Patterns. Both of which I have used recently for Sprogs Star Wars Shorts, and Widget's Bob the Builder and Pirate shirts.

For fabric, I went to our local emporium where I knew they had tapa cloth styled cotton in multiple cotton. I hoped for tan and red, and ended up with brown and red. The red was for Moana,   In addition I found a large green/blue broach style button for The Heart of Te Fiti (I really really want to spell that the Te Reo Maori way of Te Whiti), a white shell coloured beading with silver ferns on it, a plastic "grass" skirt, and some plastic sacking like material. I'm not really sure what it is.
For the Maui costume I bought some large squares of felt in an off-white/bone colour, and some green weed mat, which would be the basis for Maui's leaf skirt, but supplemented with green scraps from my stash.  

 I started Maui with a shorts and shirt combo to act as the base. 

The beachcomber shorts I made as per the pattern, but with a higher back rise and a shorter front rise to allow for Sprogs shape. This made them a bit snug to pull on but a great fit once they were.

The shirt was adapted. Firstly, I didn't do the collar, but included the collar stand for a Mandarin neckline. The front was cut on the fold instead of in two pieces. I still cut one placket piece as per the pattern and used it on a half placket for a pull over the head shirt. Pockets and sleeve details were left off. Sprog was so pleased with it he wore just this part of the costume as much as he could all weekend.

Next up was the leafy modesty skirt. I cut a variety of leaves from the weed mat I hat bought, and leftover scraps. In three stages I layered these and sewed them onto a belt of elastic 60mm wide and slightly less than Sprog's waist circumference. The first stage was large cloth leaves, in case he decides to just wear the "leaves" at some point to make it more comfortable against the skin.


Maui's accessory is his hook. After sketching with tailors chalk I cut out a hook shape, then used the leftover from the middle of the hook to fashion a handle. On the handle I sewed straight lines with tan thread to distinguish it from the action part of the hook. When sewing up the hook before turning it inside out I was careful to leave a gap on the inside of the hook. Pulling the whole length of the felt hook through the narrow end wouldn't leave me able to push the barb points out.

Very carefully, and using a zipper foot I attached the handle part to the hook part then started stuffing. For a stiff hook it was necessary to have it very tightly packed. This hook is going to be swung about a lot by small people so it needs to be robust. Any weakness in the stuffing would allow a bend in the hook. There is still one small weak spot I am not happy with, but short of opening it up again I'm not sure I can get rid of it. I hand-stitched the close in two stages to get tight packing. The final step was to wrap the handle with twine to give it a bit more of a Maui look. I stitched the twine down then wrapped it around up the handle, and then back down again, securing at the seam lines using the hot glue gun.

Maui also wears a necklace of what I assume to be trophies, shark's teeth and the like. Sprog went to the beach with a friend and came back with some shells, one of which was perfect for a necklace.

And it was done!

Moana was easy to envisage but harder to execute. It's in three main parts, the top, the skirt, and the necklace.

For the top I wanted to have a shirred bodice for comfort, with a top section folded over for the beading. I ran into trouble when I couldn't get the tension right on my machine to use the elastic shirring thread. Flag that, Plan B was to use wide elastic to get a snug yet flexible fit. I put a section of elastic in the back between the two sides, then left the excess to 'wave in the wind'/be tied together as Widget wishes.  On the front I attached two flounces each with a row of silver fern beading handsewn along the edge of the flounce.

A section of the cloth was doubled over and sewn shut with curved ends to tie over the top of the skirt.

The skirt was easier in execution. I folded the weird sacking material on the angle to mimic Moana's skirt in the picture then layered the folded line with the 'grass' skirt and some cotton, then slowly attached the three together. The cotton layer was simply to make it more comfortable on bare legs. Slowly because every time I went fast I broke a needle. Then I checked against Widget and marked the length for once around his waist and attached velcro in two places, one at the end and the other one waist circumference away. Once attached I cut the sacking material shorter, shaped it with points, and used a single punch tool to punch holes in it. When I tried it on Widget he had trouble getting it to stay up. Little boys have no hips. I solved this with a pair of shortened Junior Joggers (Peekaboo patterns), with an extra wide yoga waistband and a strip of velcro on the front of the pants, and the inside of the skirt.

The last accessory for Widget was Moana'a necklace with the heart of Te Fiti (Whiti!). I removed many of the ferns from a length of the trim I put on the front of the bodice then interwove it with three lengths of cord, halfway down feeding two of the cords passed through the back of the broach/button. I hot glued the back of the button to ensure it would hang the right way up 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A Renaissance Pirate Shirt and a Bob the Builder Shirt

Widget has been saying for ages that for his birthday party this year he wants a Bob the Builder party.

He has plenty of dungarees, so with a hat and the right shirt he will be ready to go. I have been looking for yellow and red check for a shirt like Bob's for ages. I finally found some. Last year I bought a pattern for the Bookworm Button-Up from Blank Slate Patterns but not got around to making it. I was in the middle of sewing it up too.

While I was collecting the stuff needed for the Bob the Builder shirt, Widget was invited to a Pirate Party. Over the last couple of years Sprog has attended a few pirate parties, and each time I have made something as part of his costume, there'e been a telescope, and a sword and scabbard; A pirate vest; and a pirate captain's hat. After the last party I felt that the vest needed more than just a t-shirt under it. It needed a pirate shirt.

I spent the week telling myself I didn't need to make a shirt. This morning I woke up and started sewing the shirt. I found the fabric in my stash. I think it was originally lining for curtains. It has a great washed out look and some sun discolouration.

I used the Bookworm Button Up pattern, with a few alterations, inspired by the shirts on the TV show Outlander, which is partially set in the era when pirates were swashbuckling.
- No pockets, no button tabs on the sleeves
- A wider collar
- No interfacing
- The front and back pieces were widened at the bottom to create a looser drape.
- the front was cut on the fold rather than as two separate pieces, then a cut about 1/3rd down the front from the neckline was added. I added a placket around the cut, and left plenty of extra at each end to use as ties to keep the neckline closed.
- I pleated the fabric before cutting out the sleeves, and kept those pleats for the assembly. This is again to put in more swishy fabric to create the voluminous look.

He was the best dressed little pirate at the party. Widget it not much of a model though.

After we came home from the party I went back to the original plan, finishing the Bob the Builder shirt. I still have to put on two buttons on the cuffs, but I have a very happy little Bob the Builder. I found the shirt really easy to put together. 

Coupled with some denim dungarees, a tool belt and a hard hat, he is all set for his party in December.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Little Gentleman Suit

A friend was looking for a suit for his son's sixth birthday, but was having trouble finding anything in a colour other than black. I offered to make him one, with my labour being our present to him.  I used the Little Gentleman Pants and Vest, and the Little Gentleman Suit Jacket from Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop. There is also a tie and bow-tie pattern in the Little Gentleman range, but I haven't bought or made that one yet.

The fabric choice was dark blue baby corduroy and some red/peach linen I had in my stash for the linings. The boy for whom the suit is being made, Darville, likes to wear suits as everyday wear, so it needed to be durable.

Darville measured as a 5/6 for height and chest measurements, but a 3T in his hips. I cut everything out as a size 6, to give him some growing room. I made the trousers up as normal, then took in a half inch off each side to get a better fit. The size 6 also has half elastic in the pants, for a flat front, compared to 3/4 elastic in the  smaller sizes. To allow room for growth I put in 3/4 elastic here too.

The lining of the vest is in the red/peach linen, as are the welt pockets. The vest pattern doesn't have pockets on it, but the jacket does. I lined up the armscye of the cut out vest, and the armscye of the jacket front pattern piece to place the pockets. The vest pockets were important for the pocket watch he was also getting as a present. The pockets on the jacket were left off.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Edible Thunderbirds - Thunderbird 2 and Thunderbird 4 cakes

Sprog had a Thunderbird party. When asked what Thunderbird he wanted for his cake his reponse was "2 and 4". No amount of questioning seemed to get him to budge, so I gave in and made two.

The cakes were both made by the same method. A packet mix with food colouring, yellow or green, then cut and sculpted, coated with coloured buttercream, followed by coloured fondant, and features in more fondant. The Thunderbird two was a double cake batch baked in a lasagne dish, the Thunderbird Four cake, was a single mix in a loaf pan to get the height.

To set them off I made a Tracy Island using a round table, a blue tablecloth, a washing basket, and a green duvet. The final touches were the rocket toys we had to represent Thunderbirds 1 and 3. 

Thunderbirds are Go! - Costumes for Sprogs's 5th Birthday

We had a very important birthday this month. Sprog turned 5 and started school. A birthday requires a party, and the theme of choice was Thunderbirds are Go! Inspired in large part by a Thunderbirds dress up Sprog got as hand-me-downs from his bigger cousin Bruiser.

After the success of last years Paw Patrol themed outfits in lieu of party bags I decided to go that way again. I  requested the wearing of blue on the invite to go with the theme, and made hats and sashes for each party attendee. There was also themed cake(s). 


The hat I made using a free pattern from UrbanDon. Although this is a pattern for adults and I was making it for kids I didn't change it. Kids have big heads, and I didn't have time to futz about figuring out how to alter the sizing when I work full time and had 9 hats and sashes to make.

For fabric I used whatever I found cheap at the local hospice shop and supply store. I ended up with two fabrics, each in Thunderbird light blue/grey, and each appearing to be a cotton drill. I also bought a bunch of piping in as many colours as I could find, and lightweight cotton to match, more or less, the piping.

The pattern is easy to follow. I altered it a little as I didn't add the Petersham ribbon. It was a dress-up, and I couldn't spot any straight away when shopping so I dropped it. My other alteration was to topstitch the seams of the hat to get a crisper edge. If I was making this hat for regular wear I would reinforce it with interfacing, but topstitching gave a crisper edge for 4 and 5 year old purposes, holding it pretty much in place when hats were yanked onto heads. 


For sashes I basically cut 4 swathes on an angle. On the one that was going to be the front I ironed on an International Rescue logo I bought on AliExpress, then topstitched to secure it. When the four pieces were stitched together I summoned Sprog and pinned where to secure the top and the angle needed on the hip for it to fit him, then sewed where I pinned.

And done!