30 December 2010

Homemade Christmas Gifts Part One

I want to do a post to record all the homemade Christmas gifts that I made this year.

I made the big bag from Heather Ross's Weekend Sewing for my sister in law. I managed to squeeze enough fabric out of a denim skirt and used a cool fly table cloth for the lining.

And a little zip up pouch to match.

I made a tote bag with a butterfly applique for my older sister.

And a couple of pillowcases for her too since she loves butterflies.

A little make up bag for my younger sister that I put a few homemade soaps into. I used this tutorial from Noodlehead.

We used our printer and some shrinky dink paper to make some magnets of the many faces of Henry for Grandparents and Aunties. We got the idea from here.

A Banana Republic Hat with mittens that I sewed up from this pattern. I sewed a pair from a knit material and a pair from fleece and put them together to make lovely lined mittens, didn't even need elastic to make them stay on.

An antimacassar to protect the back of my mum's favourite chair.

From left to right I made the Amelia Earhart Aviator Cap, Iceland Earflap Cap, Fancy Ribby Hat for Henry, Banana Republic Hat, and another Iceland Earflap Cap.

29 December 2010

Featured on Totally Tutorials

My own tutorial for the no snap sleeper has been featured on another blog! Totally Tutorials is an awesome collection of some of the best free craft tutorials out there, a perfect place to go for some craft ideas.

Henry's First Christmas

Henry has had a lovely first Christmas. We have been celebrating Christmas the past 4 days with various friends and family. Henry got loads of presents. He loves seeing new things right now so he loved every single toy.

Here he is opening his natural wood blocks. I am happy to report that he likes them. I was lucky to find a candy tin that fits them perfectly and he's very into putting them in and taking them out.

Here he is playing with the paper!

21 December 2010

Henry Meets Santa

There was no line for the Santa at the mall this afternoon so Henry had a quick visit.

Henry was very interested in Santa but soon got fed up.

20 December 2010

Henry's Natural Wood Blocks: A Tutorial

I'm waiting until after Christmas to post about most of the Christmas gifts I made this year. But I think I can post about these natural wood blocks I made for Henry without fearing that he may read the blog. They're all wrapped up for him now and I love how they turned out. I used a beeswax finish on them which makes them look quite nice I think.

Here is a quick run down on how I did them. I'm sure it's mostly obvious but there might be something in here that's useful for someone.

The only tools you will need are a handsaw and some sandpaper. I used my table saw and my drill apparatus for sanding because I already own them, definitely don't be put off by thinking you need those tools.

I started with 2 branches between 1 and 2 inches in diameter. One has a thick flaky bark that I think was from an evergreen and I'm a bit worried that the bark will continue to flake off. So I cut a block from the other branch that has a thinner less flaky bark. But it just didn't look as beautiful so I mostly used the flaky bark branch. I will have to report back if the flaky bark is a problem.

Edited to add: The flakey bark has not been a problem but a few flakes have come off even after all my sanding. And I'm sure a few more will come off in the future. But overall they're ok and I'm glad I used the more beautiful stuff.

Advice for choosing wood: Pay attention to the bark, the best stuff would be something with a tight bark that won't flake or peel off but that still has interesting bark. It is possible to get rid of most of the flakes of a flakey bark but not all and it will be more work in the sanding department.

I used my table saw like so to make the cylindrical blocks but a hand saw could definitely be used.
And I used my table saw like this to make the more rectangular pieces. If you don't have a table saw I can't really think of a good way to make this type of block.

Oh that's not really how I did it. That would be TOTALLY UNSAFE. That was to let you see better what was happening. This is how I did it, with the safety shield down and push stick.

Here are some blocks that I cut:

Next I put all the freshly cut blocks on a baking sheet and put in the oven at 200 F for an hour hoping to kill any bugs that could be in there. Be sure to do this step before sanding because the drying oven might make another layer of bark flake off and will cause more sap to seep out.

Next step is to do a bit of sanding. How much sanding you do and how "natural" you want them to look is up to you. I'm not a fan of sanding so I tried to do just enough to get rid of the most flakey outer layer of bark and to get rid of the blobs of sap.

Here is a picture of my sanding set up but even I could have handled sanding these by hand. I also own a hand held disc sander but find this easier for small pieces. You can buy sanding discs at Canadian Tire that fit into a regular drill. Warning: the sap from the wood completely wrecked my sanding disc.

And here is what they looked like after they were sanded.

Next step is finishing. I bought a big block (a little more than 1 lb) from the beekeeper at our local farmer's market for $8.50. And I used 1 oz beeswax and 4 oz olive oil. I ended up with 3/4 cup leftover beeswax polish so you don't use very much.

I melted them together in a double boiler.

And then let it cool down a bit so I could touch it. And it turned into one semi solid mass. (So I had to reheat it a bit to be able to pour the leftover polish into a glass jar for later.) It was so awesome seeing that little bit of beeswax turn all the oil into a kind of solid mass. I definitely have to try making lip balm some time with all my leftover beeswax.

Then I took a rag and used it to rub the mixture into the blocks. At first it just seemed like the blocks had an oily layer on them which I did not like. But I left them to absorb the mixture for 24 hours and then the next day I used the same rag to rub them again. And I was able to remove all the oily residue but the blocks were left looking beautiful and finished.
Here are some pictures of the finished products:

And now they're all wrapped up for Henry to unwrap on Christmas day. At 10 months I know he is a bit young for them but he does love knocking down towers so he should at least like them for that reason.

18 December 2010

A Sweater Knit for Henry

I finished knitting a sweater for Henry that I've been working on for a while. I used this simple pattern for the Telemark Pullover and some thrift store acrylic yarn. It's one of my biggest knitting projects thus far. I'm quite happy with how it turned out, might use the pattern again. I think it is maybe the first thing ever I've made that is the perfect size for him right when I finish instead of at least one size too big.

Henry has been in a quiet snuggly mood this morning which is perfect as I am having a sick day.

17 December 2010

Out there in the Blogosphere

OK so I've been trying to take the blog to the next level, try to make a name for myself in the world of craft blogs. But I'm not getting my hopes up, won't even let the word sponsorship enter my head yet. And then this, a picture of mine and my name on a real craft blog! Thank you Prudent Baby. So exciting! I know it would be no big deal to a real established blogger but to little old me it's huge. And the most important thing to come out of this: Why did I let my sister wear those horrible jogging pants in my picture!?! Hahaha mostly kidding.

I am very in love with everything crafty right now. Yesterday I sorted out the room I do my sewing in and turned it into 'my sewing room', actually no, I think I'll call it my studio, that's more awesome. It's not beautiful and still a little makeshift because I know one day it will become the bedroom for baby #2 but it's still pretty great I think.

And in the spirit of not letting fame go to my head I will end off with a picture of Henry for my real fans who are my family who I know only check the blog to see new pictures of Henry.

15 December 2010

The Dino Puppet Pattern and Tutorial

I have a pattern uploaded and a tutorial made for that dino puppet I created for Henry a few weeks ago. It is a simple hand puppet that you can make talk. It is sized for an adult hand.

Click here to download the pattern.   Sorry I have lost track of the pattern.

And here is a little tutorial to explain how to make it.

You need just around a quarter yard of material but you'll want at least a different colour for the teeth. I like to use felt because it's a nice stiffness. Part of what makes it look like a dinosaur is the poof of the head so you need something a bit stiff.

So step one download and print the pattern pieces. They are very simple and there is lots of room for error so you could definitely look at the pieces and just approximate them.

First pin the top of the head to the main head piece like so:

And sew:

Next pin the throat to the main head piece:

Try to make the bottom jaw approrimately the same size as the top jaw (have the same amount of orange between the brown on top and bottom like in the below picture).

Sew the throat piece to the main head piece and you should have something like this:

Now pin the mouth pieces into the open mouth area. Try to fill the space that is naturally created without stretching it out. If you have to cut away some excess mouth that is ok.

The mouth piece that you cut in half should be on top of the other mouth piece while it's in this inside out state.

Sew the mouth piece on. You'll turn at the corners of the mouth. This is a good time not to worry about little imperfections like bunching.

All sewed up:

And turn it inside out and you'll have something like this:

Now just hand sew on the teeth. Be sure to line up the two front teeth with the front of the mouth. And sew some buttons on for eyes. I like to use a thick thread like embroidery floss in a colour that contrasts the button to create pupils. And Voila! Loads of fun!