Sunday, 23 October 2016

'Muscle glove'

My son has this alter ego called 'Speedy cat', which you may know about if you've read my other posts. Its odd because he's not exactly a fan of cats or anything, it just randomly came to be...and we all accepted that. He sometimes puts on the mask and cape I made him and jumps about the flat menacingly. (none of us, nor possibly himself either, really know if speedy cat is good or bad!)
Well, long story short, speedy cat has special powers and un-suprisingly his most famous power is his speed. And as many little boys do at this age, my son picked up on 'super heroes' from his peers and got into some Superman books from the library. He took an old toilet roll tube, put it on his wrist and started calling it his 'muscle glove'. This 'Muscle glove was apparently the source of all his super powers and had lots of buttons to press for all the different powers he could harness. 
He brought it out with me one evening and was desperately trying to show everyone at a book launch. Unfortunately his rough handling and over excitement meant that the 'muscle glove' didn't last past this evening. I promised him that we could make something a bit more durable and this is the result of that evenings night time activity

The muscle glove is simply some padded fabric that fits like a cuff around the wrist, fastened with press studs and with button like detailing screen printed onto it. I printed two scraps of fabric just in case one went wrong. My daughter got the other one because she hates feeling like she's missed out! 

Here is the pattern for the cuff and the screen print stencils. It actually took me quite a while to get the cuff the right shape and size so that it would fit my kids arms properly.

This is the screen printing. I may as well have just painted it for all the effort it took! I was thinking about adding gold foil to the lightening strike but I may not.

Here the button shapes got quilted just to make them a little bit three dimensional.

And to finish it off, the cuffs got bound and then I added press studs to enable them to fasten. My kids had a lot of fun with these. They spent a great deal of time thinking up all the different super powers they would want to have and it was rather funny watching them practice saving each other. 'Ice blocks' was one of the most interesting super powers!

Bike seat cushion pad

Once my daughter got her bike, she wanted to cycle everywhere. My 4 year old was really upset that he couldn't ride his own bike out of the yard (he's got stabilisers on and barely manages to steer). So I finally got myself a bike and then set about getting him a bike seat that would last a very long time. Any cyclists out there, don't judge my choice....! I know this is a junior seat designed for 5-10 year olds and my son was only just 4 years when I purchased this. However it was a brilliant choice and has made our life so much easier and a heck of a lot more fun too. This seat is the Qibbel junior which comes with a little waist strap and separate foot rests that attach to your bike frame.
The one problem is that you cant exactly sink into it or get particularly comfortable. It has no arm rests and no soft cushion to go with it. My son told me he preferred it when I originally tied a cushion to the bike rack as it was more comfy for his bottom! So of course, I set about to remedy this and came up with my design for the Qibbel junior bike seat cushion! (which has incorporated into the design , very careful fasteners that cover up areas on the seat where I felt the plastic moulding was too sharp.)

I am rather pleased a the minimal design and clean lines. I don't like fussy fabrics and I do like quality. I bought a really nice thick grey wool for the upper. Wool is a naturally breathable fiber, provides cushioning and keeps you warm. I filled the seat pad with cotton wadding and backed it with black suede to give provide a good grip onto the plastic of the bike seat.
Here is my template that  traced off the seat, the first few layers and the internal wadding.

Here is the seat pad all sewn up, just waiting for the last layer to go on. My machine had a bit of a hard time sewing through all these layers. I had to add them one by one and even then I broke about 3 or 4 needles in the process.

Once all the layers had been sewn together and the back put on, I made some binding to cover the outer edges. It's starting to take shape now and I love how the binding gives it a much more finished look.

There are two separate sets of flaps on the back. They had press studs added so that they can be fastened and removed easily, when needed. Once these were sewn in place, the rest of the edges could be bound and the seat pad was finished.
It really does make my sons bike seat look rather luxury and adds a little cushioning where he needs it, so the ride is a lot more enjoyable. I love cycling with my kids, it makes me feel so much more free and able to explore further and wider in the city. And its nice to have a few little luxuries to take along with you also.

Bike cargo rack seat

So the bike has become a favourite possession I guess. The bike bag has also now just been replaced by this rather brilliant cargo rack cushion seat pad. My daughter was giving her friends and her little brother backies but it wasn't too comfortable on their little bottoms. I thought I could make something to remedy that, and I did! All the materials I had in the house, so I didn't get anything special. Some foam, wadding, brown board a staple gun, a bit of velcro and a piece of waxed cotton.

I traced off the shape of the cargo rack frame and cut a piece of brown board that size. I then fixed a variety of foams, wadding and stuffing to the board and fastened a layer of cotton calico over the top to contain it all and give it a nice shape.

I then stretched the waxed cotton over the top, added the velcro straps at the right angle to fasten over the the cargo frame and stapled on a piece of black suede. The black suede finished it all off but also provided a nice amount of grip on the metal. The velcro straps hold the cushion pad in place incredibly well ( a few more were added after this photo was taken) and you cant even see them once the seat pad has been installed as they are all hidden underneath and neatly out of the way.
The seat cushion does look rather retro on the back of her bike but my daughter loves it and very proudly tells people that I made it when they comment on her funky bike. This item is definitely a hit and we actually haven't taken it off since I made it!

Pure wool and Natural plant dyes

My daughter was given two lovely pure wool vests but they had small stains on. We decided to have a bit of fun with them in a bid to cover the stains and make them pretty to wear.

We decided to experiment with natural dyes using things we had in our kitchen and the garden. Both my children found this experiment a lot of fun and they enjoyed collecting berries from the garden as well as flowers and some spices from the kitchen. We used Lavender, hibiscus, turmeric, blueberries, raspberries and salt.

We washed the garments in a solution of warm water and salt first before proceeding to apply the dyes by squashing them into the fibres of the garments.

The blueberries had some amazing blue, green and purple tones that were incredibly rich and quite unexpected. The raspberries and the turmeric were nice and strong and fairly consistent colours.

The results of our various experiments....

I wasn't able to capture the beautiful colours of our finished vests but you can see the different techniques we tried. The two longer vests were 100% linen and the shorter length ones were 100% merino wool. My daughter was really happy with the outcomes and my son really wants to do it all again!

Bike bag

I've been absent from the blog for a while now. Life changes all the time with kids and I don't have the free time I used to. I've still been making things, just not at the rate I used to. I miss it though. I tend to only have the time to make things that are specifically requested by my kids and here are a few of the things I made in the last few months. Mostly made at night, once the kids have fallen asleep, hence the badly lit photos!
This one was definitely a practice. My daughter had just got her first bike and it came with a cargo rack. We had gone for a few rides and had tried to tie bags and coats etc on to the rack but it wasn't a great solution. She asked if I could make her a bag and I said I'd try, despite not having any nice waterproof fabrics at the ready. I'd class this bag as a first try! I didn't have enough of any of my fabrics to make the whole bag so I had to patchwork it, which is a little crazy. The bag works fine and it is really spacious. My daughter was really happy when she saw it the next morning, despite the fabric mix up making me cringe a little, she has used it a fair few times. When I finally have the time to remake it, I will definitely invest in a more sophisticated material and make the attachment press studs a little more easy to fasten and remove.
  Otherwise the pattern worked really well and it fastened to the cargo rack very securely, so it was generally a success.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Spin painting

This was actually the kids idea and not mine. They had been looking at artists who used bright colours for a school project and had seen one of Damien Hirst's spin paintings. They thought it was amazing and wanted to make some themselves. So we set about making some little devices to recreate small scale versions, using things we had around the home.
I got them to do some colour mixing.
Then we threw ourselves into the fun of it....and got nicely splattered with paint until we managed to make a more sophisticated mark 2 model!
The kids had so much fun but we had to stop at nightfall!
Below are a few pieces they made. 
For our second attempt we made a paint shield...
..and a better base to pin our paper to. The first time the pins kept getting flung out. This time they stuck fast to the layers of wool i attached underneath a layer of packing foam.
The little one also enjoyed it but wasn't patient enough to do more than two pieces.
These are a few of the small discs. A lot of fun was had and you really could go on forever, its not something you could get bored of easily.

Egg rolling 2016

I'm a bit late posting all of these images but here are the eggs from this year's Easter Egg rolling competition that we hold every year. As usual it was a lot of fun.... And as always I was nowhere near winning! Next year.... There is always another chance!
The kids and my eggs. it was a rather last minute decorate this year. Will try harder next.

Reversible balaclava

Nothing special, just a quick balaclava my daughter wanted me to make for her this winter. Her brother had something similar and she was feeling left out. Would have been more fun using prints but I only had these three colours to hand, so just threw them together. It was a very handy hat, I'm sure I will make more in the future.

Claude and Sir Bobblysock

Here is the costume I made for my daughter for world book day this year. She is Claude the dog from the series of books by Alex.T.Smith. They are probably the first books she read on her own and she laughs out loud when she reads them.
It started with this book which was the first of the Claude books she owned.
Then there was this diabolical sketch by me!
And it progressed on to making a fur print stencil for screen printing.
Which ended up as this white with grey print jersey for the leggings.
Then there was a beret and a Sir Bobblysock,
and then a few more colour ways were printed for fun, because i just cant help myself!
And those lengths of jersey ended up as some leggings.
A few more samples and i think i did a pretty good job. I always try to make fabric costumes rather than paper as i want them to last and be able to be used again and again. The little red riding hood cape i made the year before last is still being worn regularly. In fact my daughter keeps it on her coat peg she wears it that much!
And the result...! She loved it and it was comfy for a days wear.
The little one likes to join in as well, so he got a pair of fur print leggings and his own collar too!

Fleece snoods for Calais

The Injustice people experience in this world is one of the most upsetting and paralysing things for me. We can't solve everything and indeed most of the time we feel powerless to do anything. Having felt very much like that these past months I decided to do a bit of sewing to make my small donations go a bit further. A neighbour made a few trips to 'the Jungle' refugee camp in Calais and having gathered medical supplies already, I decided to make some snoods and balaclavas to send when he went again. I hope they helped some people feel a degree warmer in the bitter winter weather.