Thursday, 20 November 2014

A Birthday Surprise: Crocheted Betty Boop

In between all this Christmas holiday making, I have a few birthdays.

My birthday is on Monday. Logan's birthday is on December 11th. And my dad's girlfriend Shai's birthday is on December 13th.

So I decided to take a break from holiday making and make one extra special dolly for Shai.

I know that she likes Betty Boop. At least I hope she does. She has put a few photos up on Facebook that lead me to believe I'm on the right track though.

I used this pattern to make Betty. It was a neat pattern with lots of sculpting. I added the earrings and bracelets myself and made the face out of felt instead of trying to crochet nice eyes.

She turned out super cute! I may even have an order for another Betty soon if I ever get done all of these Christmas gifts. Lane increased my list the other day by stating that not only does she have 2 teachers, but she has 2 teaching assistants and a ballet teacher to make for. ACK!

Anyhoo... I'll be sending Betty out to Victoria for the 13th. Maybe she'll sing Happy Birthday to Shai? :D

A link to my Betty Boop project on Ravelry.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Handmade Holidays 2014: Holly Dolly

I guess today is as good a day as any to begin in on Handmade Holidays this year.

Every year I try to give handmade items as gifts whenever possible. Usually this means that for the entire month of November I'm busy working on making said gifts for Christmas. The deadline for putting anything in the post is mid-December if I want the presents to get to my far flung family in time.

This year I decided to go with mostly crochet because that's what I've been learning this past year and it's something new and fun... well... that sounds good doesn't it? Really, I've decided to go with crochet because I can sit and binge watch The Mindy Project and Nashville on Netflix while making gifts. Yay!

The first gift I have to share with you is Holly Dolly.

Isn't she the sweetest little Christmas elf you ever did see?

I used this pattern to make her:

She is going to be sent to my sweet little cousin Caitlyn in Vancouver this year.

I bet Miss Holly Dolly will have an excellent home over there.

Holly was a pleasure to make. I love love love love love love love love love making toys! And I loved loved loved loved loved loved loved making Holly Dolly - as in Have a Holly Dolly Christmas hehehehe ;)

How have you been doing on your Christmas list this year? Doesn't it feel like it's always sneaking up on you? Yipes! It's like I magically forget how close Christmas is every year even though it's always on the same day.

Oh well, I'm not feeling too stressed yet. I've made a dent in my list so far.

I'll be sure to keep you updated on all the wonderful handmade holidays items I'm busy working on!

A link to my Holly Dolly project on Ravelry.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Iron Craft #23 - Cozy Up

This week's challenge: "make something around the theme of cozy." (Courtesy of Just Crafty Enough)

Now that is a project I can get behind.

I love all things cozy.

Naturally, I was going to make something for myself, but that didn't end up happening. I've been in the fray of Christmas present making and didn't feel like I should stop to make something for myself.

I showed Logan a pin on Pinterest where some fantastically creative Martha Stewart kinda mom transformed her kid's bedroom closet into a cozy little book nook. Ever since then, Logan has been bugging me and bugging me to get something together for him.

His room is quite small, but he never really uses his closet for much, so it was the perfect idea to create another play space for him in there.

In order to make this cozy space, we first found an awesome Mario bed sheet at the thrift store to use as a curtain. I measured and sewed a simple line across the top and threaded a curtain rod through it. Terry hung a curtain rod from the top of the closet.

For the inside, to make it extra cozy and fun we bought 3 of those stickable dot lights that we placed around the inside. Logan can turn them off and on easily and adjust the amount of light he wants.

We added a pillow and the rag rug that I crafted for Logan last year for comfort on the wooden floor.

Kind of a quick craft this week, but one that Logan really loves and is super cozy!

I wonder what he's up to in there? I went upstairs to check one day and found him reading a comic book. Awwww.... adorable.

To see all of the Iron Crafters' cozy projects, check out the Flickr Group.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Birthday Beer Koozies

Both my brother and my sister had birthdays last week.

We're all November kids! Yay! My birthday is next Monday in case you wondering ;)

Anyway, I decided to make them some cute beer cozies.

For my brother - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cozies.

His favourite is Michelangelo. I've made these one other time, for my brother in law's birthday as well. Easy, fun pattern.

Here's a link to my project on Ravelry.

Then for my sister, these striped ones. They fit a little tighter than the turtles ones, which I like. They seem a little more sturdy so it doesn't feel like the bottle is going to tumble out when you hold it wrong.

I used this pattern for the striped ones.

And here is the link to my project on Ravelry.

Now it's on to Christmas presents! Ack! I have so many. Are any of you done Christmas shopping or making yet? Hmmm.... on second thought, don't tell me, I don't want to know. I haven't even started to make a dent in mine!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

How To: Wire Doll Display/Photo Stands

Oh. My. Gosh. You Guys!

This marks the first tutorial I have written in over a year.


This also marks the first tutorial that I'm premiering on the front page of simultaneously with this blog post.

Why all the hoopla over a simple doll stand tutorial you ask?

It's super cute first of all...

Well, for almost a year now (I started learning how to crochet on January 1st this year) I've been working toward achieving a dream of mine. I have always wanted to be a toy maker. When I was younger, I was always fascinated when my mother would sew toys for us. My favourite Toy Story movie is number 2 - the under rated one - because there is a scene in it when the old toy restorer comes to the bad guy's apartment to fix up Woody before he's sold. I love that old guy. I love his precision and love he obviously has for his job. I even have a recurring dream about a blue porcelain doll that my mom had sitting on her dresser when I was little. I only have this dream when I'm stressed out and it's basically this blue doll leading me through a maze of an ice castle that it all blue and white and that we never make it out of. I've had this dream since I was about 10 years old in times of supreme stress. Weird.

Anyhoo... I am totally in love with doll making books and knew that I had to learn how to crochet in order to better be able to make some of these fantastic dolls. So I worked and worked at it and learned really fast. I know that the only reason I caught on so fast was because I was fueled by a passion for making toys.

So, in the new year I will be retooling my little Etsy shop to reflect this rekindled passion. I will be selling toys of all kinds. Fabric toys, crocheted toys, toys for girls, boys, adults, geeks. Toys of my own design and toys that have wonderful pattern designers that have graciously allowed me to make their designs. I will also have the standard mama cloth, potty trainers and nursings pads. And the teddy beds that I love making will still be in shop because you will definitely want some storage for all your new pals!

As I am getting ready to launch into a new area, I realized that I will want to participate again in local craft fairs. Which lead me to thinking about displays. Which lead me to thinking about how to make doll stands. Which lead me to try out a few variations. Which lead me to making the stands that are featured in this tutorial. Which lead me to stop yapping and actually get on with this tutorial already! SHEESH.

Materials Needed:

- An old wire hangar - the more bendy and flimsy the better
- a roll of duck tape - they sell tons of cool patterned duck tape, so I went with that
- a pair of pliers - or some serious brute strength of which I have none

Time Needed:
- this is a simple one - it took me about 20 minutes to make one

Skill Needed:
- heck, if you have the talent enough to make a doll, or even go out and buy one, then you can do this project

Step One:
Take your pliers or your arm strength and untwist the hangar. You can try to make the hangar relatively straight, but don't worry too much about making it perfect. It's going to be wrapped in duck tape, so if there are bumps, they will be smoothed out anyway.

Step Two:
Begin by forming a circle on the middle of the hangar. Don't use the entire length of the hangar for this - just the middle. But make the circle as large as you feel it needs to be to make it sturdy. This is the bottom of the stand and the part that will balance the doll, so it should be the most sturdy.

Kinda like this. The two ends of the hangar will be pointed upwards for now.

Step Three:
Begin shaping those two ends. If you have a doll in mind for the stand, it would be great to measure to make sure the supports are at the correct height for your doll. The stand can be bent and moved around to fit when it's done if you don't have a display item in mind just yet though. I bent my two support ends out and around to get this sort of shape.

Keep in mind that it doesn't have to be perfect because the duck tape will smooth out any roughness. You just want two supports that will fit under a doll's arm pits like crutches. If you are looking to support something small like a Barbie Doll, you might even want those supports to touch a little in the centre (making a semi-circle) thus securing the doll a little tighter. For my purposed, I wanted the support but not too tightly because the dolls will be changed out and people will want to come by and pick up the dolls to look more carefully at them - or give them a cuddle ;)

Step Four:
Start wrapping the entire thing in the duck tape. I am not the most graceful wrapper, so I ended up cutting off chunks of the tape and wrapping everything in small pieces instead of twirling the stuff around like a pro. Make sure to wrap the pointy ends of the hangar really well so that you don't harm yourself on the stand.

Ta da! Even if your wrap job is as messy as mine, it still looks awesome because the duck tape is so much fun.

Step 5:
Try it out and make more!

Here is Holly Dolly trying out the doll stand. These stands also make really good props for taking superb product photos as well. Isn't she so cute?

I made a taller one with smaller supports for Betty Boop out of duck tape that had gummy bears on it. :D

It may look a little wonky, but it works! And the great thing about these stands is that they are still adjustable with the tape on them. I could bend the middle piece back for a shorter doll or tighten the upper supports around the doll if needed.

Then you can make little scenes with your dolls.

Anna joined the party!

Wasn't that simple?

I hope to work up to designing my own crochet patterns soon. I'm almost there. But until then I can certainly get in gear and create some sewn toy tutorials for you. What do you think?

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Halloween 2014: Princess Belle Costume

The last costume I'll show you guys for this year is Lane's Princess Belle costume.

This was actually the first costume I made for Halloween this year. Lane was pretty set on being Belle for a few months, so I figured it was OK to sew up without the threat of her changing her mind a week before trick or treating.

I used McCall's Pattern 5494. As usual, I really hate sewing from commercial patterns. I do much better when I design the thing myself because I end up getting frustrated and changing the pattern until it fits what's in my head anyway.

This pattern called for 3 or 4 layers of dress. I cut it down to two (and then one small ruched one). I decided that Lane needed a luxe princess dress, so I chose gold taffeta to make it. That way it would make that lovely swoosh swoosh sound when she walked. Of course, taffeta is really heavy, so two layers was all I was going to subject Lane (and my sewing machine) to.

The ruche method described in the pattern might have been good for a normal adult person, but seriously a child can rip that out in about 5 minutes. You have no idea how many times I had to tack up that netty/gauze sparkly layer.

Let's see:
- After she wore it to her pre-school Halloween Party (Oct 30th)
- After she wore it to her kindergarten Halloween Party (morning Oct 31st)
- After she decided to wear it while playing princesses on Friday afternoon while Logan was at school (Oct 31st afternoon)
- After she tried to climb up onto our bed after dinner on Halloween evening (Oct31st just before trick or treating)
- right before she wore it to ballet class (Saturday Nov1st)

Yeah, I'm getting really good at tacking that stuff up. Thank goodness that taffeta is so tough. It didn't rip out when I started tacking the netting right to the taffeta in the hopes that it would gain some strength and stay put for awhile. This girl is a twirling, whirling, rough and tumble kinda princess.

We had a little trouble with the bodice being way too wide. Lane had to wear something underneath the dress. I hemmed it up pretty high so that she could move and walk up steps etc - although even then she came home early from trick or treating for me to safety pin her skirts up. The pattern called for a zipper down the back. I was ready to fight a zipper in there when a friend on Facebook suggested Velcro. I put the idea to Lane and she thought that was a fantastic idea because then she could put on her princess dress all by herself. Zipping a back zipper was going to prove tricky for a five year old. It's tricky for an adult too!

I made a scrunchy out of leftover gold and put her hair in the Princess Belle bun thing. We also got a cute ribbon clip with a Belle pendant on it from Scattered Seeds (a local craft show) that I placed underneath the bun at the back of her head. So pretty!
As you can see, I did end up putting two darts into the bodice just to keep it from making a wide gap. Lane had to wear a warm white blouse underneath anyway because it wasn't the nicest of days here in Winnipeg on Halloween as usual.

Overall, I think this costume worked out. And now Lane has a pretty new princess dress to add to her play costumes box.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Iron Craft #22: Colours of Fall

This week's challenge:

"...create something using the colors of fall, red, orange, yellow, brown, and burgundy. You can use one or a handful of colors in your project. Your project does not need to be fall themed." (Courtesy of Just Crafty Enough)

I've been dying to try out the new quilting table that I bought, but I'm totally scared of working on our new bedroom quilt as my first foray into hand quilting. So I decided to start smaller.

With this:

A smallish, simple throw quilt made out of vintage sheets, and linen and cotton in autumn colours.

I got the quilt top finished for this Iron craft project. Since I've never tried handquilting to this extent before, it will be awhile before I finish that, but I'll be sure to let you all know when I'm done.

The vintage sheet features such pretty autumn bouquets. The throw is a simple square in a square one block design. I backed it with pieces of Lane's old ivory coloured curtains along with a stripe of the vintage sheet.

The design is square 48 inches by 48 inches so a decent size for cuddling up on an autumn evening in front of the TV. Although if it turns out, I might give it away as a Christmas gift this year. It's just so darn pretty.

I've had it stretched out on the quilting table for about a week so far and I've got some of the hand quilting done as you can see in the above photo. I've got a long way to go, but I'm starting to get a rhythm and flow to the stitches.

The table is quite large, so I store it in an empty spot in the rec room where I watch TV in the evenings. I pulled it out and placed it under the light to get this photo of it. It's lovely because it's so lightweight that I can drag it wherever I need. I can also tip it up on both sides or make it higher depending on where I'm sitting.

I'll definitely keep updating about the progress. Hopefully I'll get done before Christmas. I guess it depends on how many other projects take up my time.

To see all the lovely autumn inspired Iron Crafts, check out the Flickr Group.