Thursday, 21 August 2008

How Charming...

I couldn't resist that title!

I recently finished off a charm bracelet kit that I bought years and years ago through the school bookclub. The kit had the bracelet, beads, wire, clips and instructions to make 5 different under-the-sea themed charms.

I love the finished result, but they were soo fiddly to make!! The instructions required that at some points, 4 lengths of wire would pass through one bead each time and there was no way that was going to happen! So they worked with a little bit of instruction-tweaking, a fair dose of patience (well, sometimes), pliers and help from Crafty Things. If I was going to remake the charms I would use finer wire to make life much easier.

I started off with the turtle, and didn't really have many problems until I came to attach the lobster clip used to clip them on the bracelet. It was one of those 4-length circumstances. Hmm well, quite a bit of frustration later and it was attached safely. Next was the fish. No trouble with the charm but I'd learnt about the clip attaching now. The instructions said to attach it to the centre bead of the big fin but it already had two wire lengths through it so the fish's mouth it was. Next was the crab and I made the charm and then left it for a while (i.e. years) until I attached the clip. Instead of putting the wire through the one bead I used a few of the nearby ones to secure the clip and that worked ok. The octopus and seahorse were made in quick succession. I had a little trouble with the octopus' legs - the wire tail would go into the bead ok but not out the other side because I'd pulled the row a little too tight. The beads had no room to move and there was no way to change it. So don't look to close at his legs because it's extremely untidy. I had similar trouble with the seahorse. You make a right angle turn at the end of his head involving sliding the wire through the entirety of a previous row. The row happened to be bent and the wire refused to got through properly until we could get the row to straighten up a bit.

When I first got the kit the bracelet was quite a bit too big for me, since I've always had small wrists, but now it fits pretty well. As you can see in the top photo, the charms are pretty big (approx 3.5cm long) which makes doing some things (for example typing) difficult. But I'm happy with it.

Who knows, I might just collect myself other, smaller, charms and make it into a really intricate, full charm bracelet that isn't quite so themed.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Still Sewing

Well I am still sewing along but it will slow over the next few weeks as other parts of life take priority. This time I have had some fun making lined drawstring bags as per the instructions on this blog. These are a great size for stashing small items in for packing and I have also found them useful for taking coins to the bank. My DD is busy selling chocolates to raise funds for her school band trip later in the year so many coins find their way home.

I am going to vary the size of the bags when I make the next ones. Maybe some big enough to put shoes in. They will be very useful on our trip that is getting nearer now. The fabric is a varied selection from the stash - some is over ten years old and some purchased recently.

Next little sewing task came from the purchase of this great little felt kit from paper-and-string.

A terrific little felt kit to make a little owl ornament from felt. Look at how wonderfully it was packaged and I was also lucky enough to order at a time when some free felt squares were being added to every order. Lucky me!! I wanted to start as soon as the parcel arrived last week but I was very good and finished off the drawstring bags, did the housework, went to work, taxied children and all that other stuff that intervenes with perfectly good creating time - not to mention watching lots of Olympic events on television. Anyway I have found a little time for the creative stuff of life and here is the little critter all finished up.

I enjoyed stitching it and will be creating a few extra a one is never enough for owls - you have to have a parliament or they get lonely! I got everything needed to make one owl aside from thread and needle. There was a pattern, instructions, felt, felt ric-rac, beads and ribbon. I used press and seal to cut out the pattern pieces - have found this very useful with felt. It is see through so that you can lay it over your pattern and trace of pieces and then lay it over the felt to cut out the pieces. Probably not very environmentally friendly being plastic but I get very accurate pattern pieces this way.

The weather has been very wintry this week so finding good light for photos has been difficult. There was a little bit of sunshine earlier so the little owl found its way outside for a quick pose in the trees. The pouches were just photographed inside as there were no dry spots to put them down outside. Another wintry shower is moving through as I type - wetting the clothes that I foolishly hung outside on the clothesline in a vain attempt to get them dry. Oh well they will just have to have a second spin through the washing machine later and then get hung on the clothes-airer - just have to wait for what is already on it to dry first!

Crafting is so much more fun than housework.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Sharing Some Gift Sewing

I have had a great time lately making things to give away. The best kind of making there can be!

First I made two bibs for a little arrival in our street. Lovely neighbours who have helped me out on a few occasions so it was nice to just make a little something. These are based on a pattern that I made when my own two were much younger than they are now. I used to make these out of terry towelling and thought that this time I would try something different. I joined some different cottons together to get the front fabric and flannelette for the back. The bibs have a ribbed neckline. Two pieces of fabric were sewn together, turned through and topstitched before the ribbed neck piece was overlocked on to finish them off.

Second was a birthday crown, pattern from The Creative Family book, for a little fellow turning two. This was great fun to make and lasted on the recipient's head for a grand total of two seconds before it was ditched onto the floor. No matter - hopefully it will gain a second life as a dress up item down the track. Gracefully modelled here by one of my treasured bears - Alexander Growly Bear.

I had lots of fun rediscovering the joys of hand stitching with this one. I tried out a variation of a French knot to create the stars on the blue piece of felt. I read about this in my newest collection to the home library. The book was blogged about here but I had to return the library copy. Luckily for me I came across a cheap copy in one of my local bookstores so it came home with me! The stitch has a French knot at the end of a long straight stitch and it is done all at the same time. (Terrible description but I am not sure how else to describe it.)

Being made at short notice I couldn't find any braid to put around the bottom so I settled for a piece of velvet ribbon. I quite like the regal feel that it adds to the crown.

Third, a quick card to go with the birthday gift. I opted out of a little boy type card and went with a design from another book on the shelf called Punch Art Fun For Everyone 3. Lots of great, quick ideas for cards in all of these books - I also have books 1 and 2.

Still working on a few other little things but will save those for another day.

P.S. We are going to Perth WA soon!! A family holiday and a Junior Robocup National competition to attend.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Another Amigurumi Tortoise

The creating is continuing, although I have not got back to my little felt book yet - still mulling over ideas for the next pages, with another little tortoise being created using the same yarn as the pram blanket. The pattern is from Simple Arts Planet and is very easy to make. I used French knots for the eyes so that it is safe around young children.

Another view - the french knot is very clear in this shot. I used to avoid french knots but have recently revisited them courtesy of all the great how-to's that are accessible via the www. I would love to link to a very good video tutorial but I didn't bookmark it. It was a very clear tutorial on making great French knots.

Speaking of knots check out this site. Another great little suggestion that I came across the other day.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Some Stuff

Here's the latest of our sewing stuff. I made another little Arno Cat softy to give to my 2-year-old cousin. It's made from wool felt and was really a joint effort from both of us. I hand-sewed the face and Crafty Things did the machine sewing to put him together and stuffed him.

He is from the Softies book and is very quick and easy to make. He is the perfect size for little people to hold and play with.

Another present has also been made for a friend of mine, whose birthday is tomorrow. I thought of a bag idea that I liked and Crafty Things tried to make it up. It didn't turn out quite as I imagined but I still like it.

The front view. It has two small pleats to give it shape, a longish strap and flap held shut with a magnetic clasp. After it was finished I thought it needed some decoration near the bottom as it was rather 'top heavy' so we came up with adding the ribbon bow. Crafty Things found the instructions to make the double loops which looks more interesting than a normal one. It is on a coil-less safety pin so that it can be taken off. It is lined and we made a matching zippered pouch and handbag organizer to keep everything tidy inside.

The back view. The flap was put on after the bag was finished and lines up with the pleats, kinda by luck. Size-wise it's in between a tote bag and handbag so that the recipient can fit everything under the sun inside it! We put a layer of flannelette in between the bag and lining to make it a bit firmer, like in Amy Karol's book.

Next time, I'd make the pleated part a bit shorter and add a yoke on top so the pleats are further down and not as hidden by the flap. The strap could also be a little narrower.