Sunday, 26 October 2014

Kids Clothes Week: 'Dancing Men' singlet

In my post on how to sew with words on the Kids Clothes Week blog I wrote about using freezer paper stencils to paint a word in Dancing Men code, which features in a Sherlock Holmes story. The freezer paper worked brilliantly, but I decided to use a different (coded) phrase on a singlet for K and, having run out of time today to painstakingly cut out a freezer paper stencil, went for the quick option and printed an iron-on transfer. Somehow the transfer looks much more plasticky on this top than it did on the Pierre top, so I'm not 100% happy with it. Another weird thing is that this singlet, though drafted in an identical way to the previous one, does not fit as well around the chest. I guess I can put that down to fabrics behaving in different ways - unless, of course, K has shrunk overnight...?

By the way, if you're wondering what the coded phrase is, I'm afraid I can't tell you because I want K to read the story and work it out for himself!

K was more than happy to get outside and model today as we had basically chained him to his computer and forced him to complete a school project. Well, that's what you get for leaving things til the last minute.

And that brings my Kids Clothes Week sewing to an end, and while it's been fun, I'm more than ready for a break! Did you manage to finish everything you wanted to sew?

Kids Clothes Week: Mama Jumbo dress

For this dress I took my inspiration from a South African children's book, Zanzibar Road by Niki Daly. In this story, Mama Jumbo arrives in Zanzibar Road carrying all her possessions in a basket on her head, then builds herself a township-style home out of corrugated iron and bits of wood. Throughout the book she wears a series of wax-print dresses - not at all South African, but then, she is an immigrant... And since I adore colourful African fabrics - kangas are my favourite - I decided to make a 'Mama Jumbo' dress for R.

I used pattern M from Girly Style Wardrobe, but turned the facings to the outside to make a blue border around the neckline and added matching pockets with a blue band at the top. The fabric, amazingly, is not actually African - I bought it at Darn Cheap about a year ago and although it's clearly a wax-print-style design, it has a very shiny quality more like sateen. I'm so happy with the result, and I think the style and colours look just beautiful on R.

The KCW website is full of amazing things ranging from the practical to the incredible, so it looks like everyone's been extra-productive this season. As for me I have just one item left to finish up and - hopefully - photograph today. Bye for now!

Friday, 24 October 2014

Kids Clothes Week: Pierre top

There once was a boy named Pierre
who only would say "I don't care!"
Read his story, my friend
For you'll find at the end
that a suitable moral lies there.

That, for those who don't know, is the prologue to Maurice Sendak's tiny book Pierre. Pierre is part of the Nutshell Library, a  collection of four miniature books (and the other three are pretty cool too). I had these books when I was growing up, and my sister bought a copy for my kids a few years ago.

Since Pierre is a favourite at our house, and since my son K shares some of Pierre's lack of respect for parental authority, I thought it would be appropriate to use Pierre's catchphrase on a top for him. Originally I was just going to use the words, but I thought they might seem a little less harsh if combined with Pierre's image - less 'ten-year-old ratbag' and more 'clever literary reference'. Those who find the phrase a little negative will be heartened to know that at the end of the story the moral is 'care' (but what would be the fun of putting that on a kids' top?).

While K is not short of attitude, I get plenty of smiles as well. And gosh he's a ham - most of the photos I got were of ridiculous faces and silly Michael Jackson-like crotch-grabbing dance moves.

Anyway, on to the details: the singlet is made from brushed cotton jersey and instead of ribbing I used a very stretchy cotton jersey in a different colour. I drafted the pattern based on one of K's tops and the sewing was very straightforward. I printed the image and text onto T-shirt transfer paper and ironed it onto the top. It seems to have adhered well but there are some slightly whitish bits that feel like they may be residue from the paper. Either they'll come off in the wash, or else I overcooked the whole thing and... well, I've never used these transfers before, so I'm a little scared to wash it and find out!

My next KCW project, which I will attempt to photograph tomorrow, is - coincidentally - also blue and green. Back very soon, I hope!

A tutorial

Something different today - I'm posting a tutorial on Sew Mama Sew. Click on over and have a look!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

It's Kid's Clothes Week, but... the time I finish sewing, photographing and blogging my KCW stuff it'll probably be the weekend. So in the meantime I'm just going to post about a gift I made for my nephew R a couple of weeks ago, when he turned 7: a cubby-house kit!

I saw these things online a few years ago and loved the idea of making one, then forgot about it until R's birthday this month, when it struck me that it would be the kind of thing he'd appreciate. My kids are always trying to build cubbies (what you in the US seem to call 'forts') and getting frustrated when their sheets and blankets don't stay put. Clothes pegs and bulldog clips will only get you so far, unfortunately. This kit solves that problem by including the following:

* 2 sheets with loops and ties at each corner and in the middle of each edge
* 2 sets of nice big clamps for attaching sheets to chairs etc
* a torch and some glow-sticks for use inside the cubby

Other kits I've seen include rope as well, but for safety reasons I'm not comfortable with that and I wanted the cubby to be something R could play with unsupervised, so I didn't include it.

I used op-shop sheets and attached the loops and ties using strips of cotton jersey. All the other things I bought at a two-dollar shop. I was thrilled to find the perfect fabric at Spotlight for making the bag: a cotton drill with a cool camping print. I made a simple two-tone drawstring bag based on this tutorial, sized to fit the contents of the kit, and attached a label so R would know what it was (otherwise imagine the disappointment of thinking you'd been given sheets for your birthday! He'd think I was the worst aunt ever!).

I wish I had managed to take photos of the contents, but alas, it was a bit of a busy week and all I could manage was the bag... but apparently R has already built a giant cubby with his kit (apologies to my sister for encouraging her children to take over the lounge room) and it worked brilliantly.

Back soon with some Kid's Clothes Week sewing, provided my model is cooperative!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Hooray for marble runs

Whenever I hit on something that captures the imaginations of both my 6-year-old and my 10-year-old, it's like I've struck gold. And today I'm sharing that gold with you!

School holidays have just ended, and unfortunately almost every day of them involved what felt like hours of squabbling between K and R, to the point that I thought there must be something seriously wrong with my parenting (which there may well be)... BUT then I remembered that I'd been saving toilet rolls and cardboard rolls for months so we could make marble runs. And this turned out to be the best holiday activity ever.

Some giant sheets of cardboard (found in the shed, left over from our cardboard Christmas tree), my carefully hoarded cardboard tubes and a roll of masking tape resulted in a happy and productive morning. Marble runs provide a lot of opportunities for problem-solving: the marbles get stuck, they fly out at the wrong spot, they fail to do what you expect them to. But because the whole construction is held together with masking tape, it's easy to alter things, experiment, try again til you get it right. Educational and fun - so perhaps I'm not such a crappy parent after all.

K and R are so proud of their marble runs, and so am I. I'm also proud of myself for thinking up an activity that was so engaging they forgot to fight. Hooray for marble runs!