Wednesday, January 15, 2014

a Minecraft Party for a Marvellous Munchkin

When my son turned 9, he had two requests - he wanted to have a Minecraft themed party, and he really wanted to "Mine".

"Minecraft-ing" that's not virtual? 

'Really my child, why can't we just have a plain ol' pool party, or go to a play centre instead', was my response. Luckily, Pinterest and Google images came to my rescue, and I am happy to report that the birthday party was a huge success... and when I say HUGE, that's exactly what I mean... you'll see in a minute ;-)

So after doing lots of Pinning from other fabulous Minecraft parties ideas, I decided to not get too technical or adventurous, and rather stick to uncomplicated and low-budget :-)

With the help of my darling daughter, we've created a life size Mr. Steve, a Creeper, a Pig, Spiders for decoration, and we came up with a very authentic looking "Cake Block", that was the easiest of all to make. But the absolute hit of the party was the piñata, made to resemble a wall of "Grass Blocks" that each boy had a couple of goes at "Mining".

See what I mean with HUGE? ;-) 

Mr. Steve was made from various sized boxes. A squarish box that once held my printer for his head, the box the pool cover came in for his body, and his arms were made up of two shoe boxes hot-glued together on each side. Every piece was covered with brown paper before painting the parts. We've used normal kids poster paint, and mixed blues, yellows and white together to get Mr. Steve's particular turquoise coloured shirt. I still wanted to paint his "pants" as well, but time just ran out. The face was basically a matter of drawing the shapes with a ruler and pencil, and try and try again till it seemed quite right. I found the inspiration for that here.

To say that the birthday boy loved his life-sized figurines, is an understatement :-)

The Creeper was also just two big boxes covered in brown paper before painting, and two shoe boxes to balance it out. I got the template for its face from here. The poor Piggie didn't get a photo opportunity by himself.. you can only just see him peeking out the left corner of the next photo.

The spider decorations were made from black balloons, black streamers, and red electrical tape for the eyes. I copied from here

I found the inspiration for the piñata here.  Unfortunately, there wasn't a link to a website attached with more instructions, so I'll just tell you what I've done. The whole construction was basically a variety of boxes taped, and hot-glued together. I've placed some take-home goodies inside each box, and then covered the whole thing with newspaper. More layers of newspaper glued on top with kids craft glue, formed a sort of papier mache unit. Then I've printed out "Grass Blocks" from here, to mark each box that was to be "Mined". It was supposed to be strong enough to withstand multiple blows, but weak enough to at least break through by the fifth hit. I cheated a little by cutting a tiny "X" into the middle of each "Grass Block" with a craft knife to ensure the whole piñata doesn't collapse after the first hit.

I really should have taken a "before" photo! At least on this photo, you can clearly see the "X".

Surprisingly each "Miner" stayed in their own territory.. and even more surprisingly - the "axe" hubbie created from folded cardboard and packaging tape, survived long enough to demolish the boxes till it was completely flat, and all that was left over of the "axe" was its handle! Then of course it made a perfect spot for the birthday boy to sit and enjoy his cake 

The cake itself was a plain sponge cake - recipe found here, and design found here. As you'll see if you follow the link to the design, our cake is not quite as grand. Instead ours are very plain with only Betty Crocker Vanilla icing for covering, and already coloured-red-just-roll-out-and-cut fondant used for the squares. But apparently it tasted AaaWwwwESOME MUM!! 

And of course no party ever goes completely without hick-ups ... the number 9 sparkler candler meant to go on the cake was no where to be found (still haven't found it!), and the only other candle available in the house was a gold star... oh well.

As far as low budget parties goes, this one was a roaring success according to the birthday boy who labelled it "the best EVA"!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

From Simple Towel to Super Swim Robe

Last year I made the kids each a swim robe from a beach towel, and every time they wear it, I get asked where I bought it or how it's made.  

It's a very simple method handed down from Grandma, and with the hot weather approaching here Down Under, I thought it was time I made myself one too, and share it here with you :-)

First up, buy the longest towel you can find. Since it's folded in half length wise, if it's too short, it might not cover everything you want to ;-) After folding it in the length, fold it again in the width, matching up the sides. Use a pin to mark the fold. This becomes the center of your robe.

The next step is to measure how wide you'd like the neck opening to be. You can measure this either from collar bone to collar bone, or use a favourite T-Shirt as I have below.

Mine measured at 10 inches. Next, using the pin you've positioned in the center of the towel, measure 5 inches to either side of the pin, and position another pin on each side.  This will mark the neck opening you're soon going to cut.

At this time, place another row of pins down the center to form the front cutting line. Cut from the bottom to the fold (where center of neckline is marked). Make sure that you only cut through one layer of the towel.

Next, cut on the fold from center pin to the pins that mark the opening of the neck. Folding the cut open will give you an idea of what the neck opening will measure.

Cut the triangles of to form the front neckline.

Trim the corners a bit till you're happy with how it looks.

Towelling is so messy to work with! We'll bind the edges with hemming tape or a wider bias binding and that luckily eliminates the mess :-)

The next step is to stitch and cut the sides. Measure from your shoulder to approximately your elbow, this forms the "length" of your sleeve. I've chosen 10 inches and placed a pin from the top to mark the measurement.

The final measurement is around your widest part! Measure loosely to include seam allowance. Divide the measurement in half, and then in half again. From the front (cut) center of your robe, use that final number to mark your side seams with pins. The photo below shows what your robe should look like after the sides have been cut out.

Sew the side seems and use your hemming tape/bias binding to finish of the raw edges around the front and neckline. Or if you want, you can just overlock everything. That would probably be much quicker :-)

Use the pieces that you've cut from the sides to form your belt. I've attached mine to the center back of the robe. For the kids' robes, I have attached the ties from their sides.

When that bit's done, you are finished! "Lucy" kindly offered to model the robe :-)

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Not-So-Boring White T-Shirt

I was looking for a white T-Shirt for Miss C. recently, one that's not too blah but also not covered in slogans, skulls or OMG's. Ever tried to find a plain white T-Shirt for a Tween that fit that category, isn't see-through AND doesn't break the bank?? If you have, and your in AUS, please share!

Inspired by all the lovely upcycling creations on Pinterest, I decided that I'd give "making" one myself a go. You can find my inspirations here for other delicious T-Shirt mods. Seriously, what did we do before Pinterest? 

At BigW, I bought two white T-Shirts for $3 each, taken from the same shelf, same size. Quite interesting how the whites differ, and even the finishing quality.

Since the front T-Shirt's neckline's a bit dodgy and the fabric much thinner too, I decided to cut that one up to decorate the better T-Shirt. Folded in half, I've cut strips of around 5cm wide, starting from just under the armpits.

Since the cut wasn't completely straight, when opened up, the strips has a bit of an angle to it. Not that it mattered one bit. When gathered to make up the ruffles, it wasn't noticeable at all.

Then I just pinned the ruffles randomly onto the T-Shirt till I was happy with the layout and pinned it into position.

Sew the bottom ruffles first, that way you can still reposition the top layers if you want to change the look a bit.  In hind sight, I would have bought another white T-Shirt to add more ruffles, but the effect of the ruffles to the side looks cute too.

Miss C. approved :-) Apparently, I need to make another one now in a cherry pink colour, with the ruffles running across the body... that is if I can find three plain T-Shirts in that colour! 

As always, you are welcome to pin from this post, but please DO NOT use the photo of my daughter. Thank you :-)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book Character Day Battles ... Batman to the Rescue!

Some parents dislike Book Character Day with a passion.. around here, we love it. Not just because we celebrate with a fun dress-up day, but also because we love reading! This day is a reminder to everyone about the fun associated with a good book and the characters within the pages... and of course it gives me an excuse to be creative ;-)

This year, my son is a bit obsessed with Knights after our trip to the UK, so I thought we had it all planned when he decided to instead go as his favourite superhero - Batman.

I have found a quick Batman cape tutorial over at Craftiest Things recently, but his main request was to have an authentic looking Batman utility belt. That proofed to be a bit more difficult to find. This image (below) I found on Pinterest was about the best reference to Batman's utility belt... but as you can see, hardly little kid material ;-)

I decided to make my own, and I kept it plain and simple with only two pockets made out of felt, looped through a belt made of yellow strapping.

The yellow belt was easy enough. I measured "Batman's" waist, and added 4 inches, looped the ends through a set of strap buckles and sewed it in place.

For the two pockets, I've cut two rectangles out of yellow fleece, sewed the sides shut, and cut the corners round to neaten it up a bit.

DON'T copy me here - silly me sewed the sides shut before adding the velcro closures... Anyway, with a bit of manoeuvring I managed to sew the velcro on, but it would have been so much less fiddly if I wasn't asleep on the job, and actually did it before closing the sides up!

The idea is for the little bags to slide onto the belt, so I measured the width of the buckle and then cut slits in the back of the felt pockets.

Of course there are neater and more sophisticated ways to do this, but as all time-poor mothers will testify - we do what we can, in the time we have :)

Not that "Batman" cared about that detail. He only noticed that the belt had no weapons to go with it! 

So, of course I had to come up with the goods. I found images on the web that closely resembled the weapons of choice and printed that out to use as a template. I had black felt in my stash with a sticky backing, and stuck that onto a piece of card. Then it was simply a matter of trace with chalk around the template, and cut out the "weapons". 

"Batman" approved his belt:)  Only complained that it wasn't tight enough.. guess it didn't help that I measured over his pj's ;-)

I made a couple of changes to the Batman cape tutorial, and thought I'd share it here too. Craftiest Things' tutorial is a no sew, and while I think it's absolutely brilliant, I opted to add a couple of pleats in the back of my cape and used press studs to attach the cape to "Batman's" t-shirt.

I think the real feature of the cape is the sculpted edge on the bottom. I've made the "circles" a bit larger and on a slant to enhance the effect more.

Of course Batman needed a mask too:) That is another template from the wonderful web, traced onto black foam and tied with elastic. It's probably been the quickest creation for Book Character day ever, but my boy loved it, and I know this dress-up will get used again and again:)

ps... you are welcome to pin any of the photos in the tutorial, but please, do not pin or copy pictures of my kids! Thank you :)

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I've been neglecting my blog lately...

Unintentionally of course!  It's just been one of those months where real life interfere with sewing life and then very little projects gets done. Not to mention that the weather's been completely dreary and as you all know, that spoils any photo session if you're depending on natural light:(  

So, I could post nothing until sunny Queensland actually turns sunny again and I can take some decent photos, or just share what's been happening.

My sewing in the last month revolved around the Skater Dress pattern by Kitchy Coo. It's not that I'm obsessed with the pattern (no, really!).. it's just such an easy sew and with the Peplum hack, it's just perfect. *sigh*

I bought this very cute dotty fleece from Spotlight and made Celine a long-sleeved version of the Skater Peplum.. now if Winter actually shows up around here, she might get to wear it.  Seriously, what's up with the weather Down Under??  I know we normally do only have around 3 weeks of Winter (and not continuously I might add), but I cannot help fear for the coming Summer, if we don't start to get some real Winter weather soon! 

Anyway, this is what it looks like:)

Also from Kitchy Coo is this glorious fabric. I love the texture! It's a bit pricey to order and get it mailed to AUS, but I have yet to find anything at the local Spotlight that can compete with the quality.. and if I'm going to go through the effort of making something special for my girl, I can just as well do it with the good stuff ;-)

This pattern really is so versatile.  We are visiting Euro Disney soon and my darling daughter wants to dress-up as a princess.  But apparently it's not cool when you're a Tween to be walking around in floor length Disney Princess outfits.  So, clever Mum(me) suggested a t-shirt based on the colours of a princess dress! 

Anyone for an apple?
Snow my dearie - how about you??
No.... Of course not!
*cue crazy laugh*

Of course I used the Skater pattern for this beauty again, and two recycled adult t-shirts and half a meter of yellow knit from Spotlight.

I've kept the front v-neckline of the blue shirt but used a piece of the blue to finish of the back neckline.

I've cut the sleeves out of the recycled blue sleeves and then cut it through the middle to add a strip of red.

Then I divided the blue parts in half again, added another red strip and sewed it all together.  Finally, I've placed the pattern piece on the new sleeve piece and trimmed it to an exact fit.

And the final product - a Snow White Skater Peplum t-shirt. Completely unique! Unfortunately, the model was on strike with the weather, so here's the final pic with my invisible model ;-) .. bad light and all!