Okay, we’ve been sick. We’ve been feeling all around miserable around here this past week. So I’ve been slacking in the blogging department. Hey, I can’t keep it ALL together ALL the time. I’d run out of duct tape.
So I thought I’d share this quick little project as a sort of mini half-post. I promise I’ll write a better one in a few days.
I’ve told you before how much our daughter loves Star Wars, and has a crush on C-3PO? So I should also mention, she’s a pretty rough-and-tumble little girl. She’s not afraid of a few bumps and bruises. Which also means sometimes she wears holes in the knees of her jeans. When I decided to get a little more life out of those jeans with a patch, I thought, “Oh, cool! I’ll put some simple, cute design with iron-on patches, and BOOM, done.”
…Until she said, “Can you do one as C3P0 and one as R2D2?”
Well, darned if I don’t like a challenge. So I did.
It took me AGES to figure out if that was even possible. I thought about hand-sewing felt, about stitching the detail on with embroidery thread. I thought of all kinds of magically impossible ways this could possibly work, and was coming up blank every time. Until finally, I lowered my standards.
I finally just cut a simple outline of the body out based on the references I printed out (in black & white in the center), filled the detail in with Sharpie, and ironed them on. Bam, easy peasy.
She liked them so much, she insisted she wear her Lego Star Wars shirt to match.
FAIR WARNING: One trip through the washer, and the edges started rolling and looked horrible, so maybe this isn’t such a cool project after all, unless you’ve got wicked mad sewing skills. …In which case, can you please sew my daughter some Star Wars patches?
Anyway, we’re all on the mend here. Hope you’re all feeling well!
Sometimes, inspiration is found in strange places.
There are some children’s books that are so dull and obnoxious that every word irritates you as you read it to your wide-eyed kid. These are usually the same books that your kid is madly in LOVE with, and therefore insists you read them over and over and over again until the grumble inside your head starts to show on the outside of your face. But there are good ones, too. Sweet ones with beautiful drawings and lovely stories and poetry, charming and funny and endearing.
And then there’s Calef Brown. He’s a different sorta bird.
We discovered “Polkabats and Octopus Slacks” quite by coincidence, but the fact that the poems are so strange and lovely, combined with the use of the words “polka turds” cracked the Kid up, and we were hooked. I had never seen a kid’s book like that before. I’ve read them all tons of times, and I have yet to be bored by them. He’s a whole lot of funky, a little bit full of one of those giggles you cover with your hand, but all kinds of fun.
One of my daughter’s favorites (especially, I think, since we like to combine animals and people in our own doodles), is in a book called “Flamingos On The Roof.” I was reading one of her favorites, called “Allicatter Gatorpillar,” when she said, “I sure wish I could see an Allibutter Gatorfly.”
You know what? I would, too, kid. That sounds like fun.
So I decided to sew one. Challenge accepted.
I’ve made a few dolls before…..thing is, I can only follow a very simple pattern, and can’t really do anything fancy. But this shouldn’t be THAT difficult, right? I’ll walk you through what I did for your own amusement, but I’ll have you know I’m no perfectionist when it comes to this sort of thing. With things like this, I sort of frantically jab and tie and cut everything together and glue it and tape it and bandage it up and say (dusting my hands off), “whelp, that should just about do it.”
So I sketched out a little shape of the gator part, and just sewed the top seam, from the tip of the tail to about the bottom of the…”chin?”
I wanted the wings to be bendable, so I dug in my wire drawer for some very flexible wire I have used in sculpture before, and laid it out on two separate wing shapes. There was a front & back to one side, and a front & back to the other. I sewed them together without the wire, right sides together with the end open, and turned them two make two top wings. Then I did the same for the bottom wings. (PS, from the looks of my desk, I should probably make better use of my cutting board.)
I wanted the wire to go all the way across to span the top two wings for strength and the bottom two wings the same. I pushed the wire into the open wings, and held the wire in place with machine stitches. I also stitched the top set of wings to the bottom set, so they’d sort of stay in place. Now I had a pretty cool pair of wings…with no way to attach them together. I decided to at least get some embroidery floss and sew the open ends to each other to sort of hold the wire in place and keep the wings from just sliding off. This is where all hell broke loose.
So now I’ve got all these exposed seams on the wings. How the heck do I get it on the body? I can’t sew through wire. So I made a little green “belt,” wrapped it around the open seams (which covered them fairly well) and then stitched that onto the back of the gator’s body. Pretty sloppy, and if you look at it closely, the wires will pop out. Good thing I bent the edges so they don’t totally cut you like a brassiere underwire.
So with the wings shoddily attached to the gator skin from both the outside and the in, the time for stuffing had come.
After what seemed like 18 hours of hand-sewing the bottom of the gator’s body (a good tutorial for hidden stitches here, by the way), it was time to paint the eyes. I got out my acrylic paint, and risking my daughter’s critique for putting both eyes on the same side of the head (it’s like that in the illustration!!), I painted them on. I wanted to add some antennae as a final little touch, and found some bendable wire floral rope that I had lying around that I can’t for the life of me remember why I own. Do I have any clue how to attach it to the head? No. In hindsight, I probably could’ve just used embroidery floss to tack it to the back (Yep, I probably should’ve done that). Instead, I cut a couple of tiny snips in the back, threaded the wire through, and glued a fabric panel down with fabric glue. This did actually keep the antennae standing upright, but I suppose a few good stitches could’ve accomplished the same effect without making this fella look even MORE strange.
And so here is the final result in probably the weirdest little doll I’ve ever made. The thing is, though, I think he sort of matches the style of the one in the book, which is sort of what I was going for. I mean, an allibutter gatorfly’s not SUPPOSED to be “cute”…right?
Well, it’s okay if he’s a little creepy. When I picked my daughter up from school and presented her with it, she sighed with delight. “He’s so BEEEAAAUUUUTIFUL!” she said.
And that’s all that really matters.
I’m not a big one for character clothes, and sometimes it’s hard finding kids’ clothes that don’t have cutesy sayings all over them. So in getting ready for the first day of school, consider customizing a plain ol’ dress or shirt! You can usually find pretty inexpensive plain clothes any ol’ where, hiding in the kids’ section of WalMart or your local craft store–shirts for around $4 or a little dress shirt (like the purple one above) for around $9.
A tricky, fun tool to have is this fusible, iron-on web. The directions are very easy, written on the back side of the package. Super easy.
Simply stick the web like a sticker to the back side of the fabric you’d like to fuse to your clothing (in the case above, a brachiosaurus and pteranadon my daughter wanted on her dress shirt). Then draw the design on your fabric and cut it out (it’ll have the fusible web stuck to it). Then iron it on your clothing, and BOOM you have a customized piece of clothing of whatever you like!
You could do this for all sorts of things. When I was in roller derby, we’d customize all sorts of things for ourselves. It’s not just for kids! Backpacks, bags, pants. So far, it seems to have held up after several washings, and with living through the wear and tear of a 4-year old. No sewing required, but I’m sure if you wanted to get crafty, you could embellish with beads or embroidery. So have at it! Get creative!
(On a side note, if you want to get your kid involved, I’ve also let ours go crazy on a $4 shirt with some Sharpie markers. Now it’s one of her favorite shirts!)
My daughter just started preschool at the end of last school cycle and she loves it. She loves having a backpack and a packed lunch. I have very fond memories of the little notes my mom would leave for me in my lunch box. Since my daughter’s only 4 and can’t read, for awhile I was having a ton of fun decorating her lunch bags with Sharpie doodles…
But being a bit of a pseudo-hippie, it bothered me a little, throwing so many bags away every day. I mean, I’m not super hardcore, but when I notice ways I’m being wasteful, I try my best to find ways that might be a little better and aren’t TERRIBLY inconvenient. We used cloth diapers when she was little, we use cloth grocery bags (when we don’t forget to take them into the store), so why not whip up a few quick reuseable bags?
When I looked around online, there were a great many DIY options, several of which seemed quite complicated for an amateur like myself, with zippers and pulltabs and fancy fabric and such….except for one: this tutorial from Rhinestone Beagle. Our local fabric department didn’t have any of the fancy nylons I had seen in some DIYs, but they did have very inexpensive fusible vinyl, which is SUPER easy to use. You iron it on, and boom–whatever you’re making is water resistant. So that was good. Secondly, I’m not good with zippers, but I can sloppily fake some velcro like no one’s business, so score another point for this tutorial. Thirdly, I worried that certain opening fasteners would be difficult for my kid to open at lunchtime, so if I wasn’t fancy enough to put in my own zippers, I wanted one that folded over a bit. And lastly: I felt a little like I was taking the easy way out, not being able to doodle something new with every lunch. (I felt I had to live up to things like this)…I compromised by going with a plain fabric, so I could doodle some monster faces on the bags (with Sharpies, of course. …They should sponsor me).
And there you go! Personalized lunch bags!
Now, in hindsight, they’re a BIT small.
…Okay, they’re tiny. The sizes I had seen online just seemed so HUGE, so I sort of winged it and made them smaller. But I can fit a cookie or two in there, or a couple of small strawberries. But just for giggles, I decided to try a few of the fancy ones. I found a shop on Etsy called Cute Little Bugs, who seemed to have the best quality & the best deal. Zippers, nylon liner, cute fabric, and even a little tag for you to write your kid’s name on it. Super cute. And they’re not tiny at all.
So, as my daughter gets ready for her second year of Pre-K, I think I’m going to have to look into trying again to make some more baggies of my own–this time human-sized. That can fit actual food inside. The point is, I want to make lunch a little special for my kid. And there’s always room for some creativity!
I know I do a lot of posts about derby, but this one is pretty crafty, too…
With just a little tweaking and customizing, I can do a lot with a single pattern. I’ve bought a lot of patterns from MMMCrafts on Etsy, and the one I’ve had the most fun with is this Little Red pattern. I’ve never actually made Little Red, but I used the same doll pattern to make a sweet Princess Leia doll for my Star Wars-lovin’ daughter (separate Chewie found here, by the way).
But when my very good “derby wife,” Sunny (also the early founder of my derby team, NPBT), was moving out of state, I wanted to make her something cool & quirky & special.
Since she has short hair, I just left off the ponytails. I handpainted our team logo on her “shirt,” but I’ve done similar things where you can use iron-on transfers with computer paper and just iron on a logo.
Since our colors were red, white & green, I made the bottom half a different color to look like derby shorts. She has several tattoos, but I added several more to decorate her arms all up. I used acrylic paint for her face and tattoos, which (if you’ve ever gotten it on your clothes by accident you know) stays on fabric really well.
I put her number & name on back, made cute little wheels out of buttons and paint, and painted on the kneepads and wrist guards. The high socks are just a strip of fabric instead of doing one solid piece for the leg, as the pattern said.
I liked it so much, I had to make one for myself! Uh…I mean, for my daughter.
If I had a long, long time to spare, I’d maybe consider doing custom orders, but they sure do take awhile, and I might have to charge a bit for them. For now, give it a try it for yourself! It doesn’t even have to be derby-related. I think it’d be COOL to have a doll that looks like your friends or family….
Facebook family already knows this, but I love roller derby. My good friend Sunny introduced me to it a few years back, and after getting the hang of being on skates for the first time since I was a little bugger, and slowly working my way to an awesome pair of new super awesome (albeit expensive) skates thanks to my Alaskan friend Shocker’s shop 2n1, I got pretty comfy on quad skates. Not enough to skate circles around anyone by any means, but I loved playing blocker. Shoulder hits. Plow stops. Smacking into a jammer on the run, sitting on a pack to slow them down. I love the aggression, I love the action. I love skating.
I started derby in Alaska, on a very small team called the North Pole Babes in Toyland (from North Pole, Alaska. No, really–it’s a real place. Santa lives there.). I’ll spare anyone the team’s history, as I’m sure every team has their high points and low, but one of the most wonderful and at the same time CHALLENGING things about derby is that it’s all self-run. The skaters run the team. That means logos, merch, websites, fundraising, sponsorship, you name it. They do it all. Since I got in at ground level, I was lucky enough to have been given full reins with graphics and web design. I designed NPBT’s logo (the Christmas girl in skates shown a few times in the quilt above), along with an alternate logo (the skullflake in the lower portion). I designed t-shirts and merch (along with other derby designs) for the team (which are still available here). Although drama surrounds any good group, I enjoyed myself, and I loved what we had created.
When we moved from Alaska, I had to leave the team. I had survived a bruised & torn collarbone, a badly sprained ankle, bruised jawbone, and tore some ligaments in my knee thanks to derby, and enjoyed nearly every minute of it. Now my ol’ bones are creaking, and whether I find another team and play again, or go zebra (referee), or forgo it altogether, I will never forget how awesome derby was for me. I loved it. I breathed it. I snuggled up in it.
Well, I wanted a way to commemorate my derby time in the frozen north, and you amass a HUGE amount of t-shirts in derby. So I decided to make a t-shirt quilt. I wasn’t crazy about the square, sterile blocky versions I’ve seen around. That’s just not derby. Derby is crazy and mixed-up and all over the place. So I gathered some of my favorite NPBT shirts (plus a Juneau shirt from my first away bout) that I was willing to transform, and cut out the best parts of them. I began by cutting the shirts to a roughly similar size, then I started piecing them together in random strips of regular fabric. Since our colors were mainly red & white and our theme was somewhat year-round Christmasy, I was a little worried about it looking like an ugly Christmas sweater, so I added other fabrics I thought were awesome.
And there you have it! A little wonky, a little crooked, and a whole lotta cool and snuggly. …And believe me, I still have TONS of derby shirts left over…. Not to mention a ton of patches on my skate bag and stickers on my helmet.
When my daughter was around a year old, I found this tutorial on UK Lass in US for a fabric dollhouse, and was consumed with making my own version of it.
I made some minor adjustments, and little improvisations, made a few happy accidents, but overall it was a pretty fun project! I’m quite mathematically challenged, so even the simplest measurements confuse me…I remember having to re-do a part of it, due to it not folding out properly. The key to most projects and improvising with them is being able to visualize what it will look like when it’s finished. Once you know that, you can modify any parts you like as long as it doesn’t interfere with the basic structure of the piece. I added pockets on the side walls to hold the tiny painted-rock owls that “live” in the house. I made yarn “nests” and all kinds of fun things to give it a foresty feel.
My daughter’s 4 now, and doesn’t play with it much. She’ll sometimes stuff a dinosaur in there, but overall, it was still fun to make.