Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Decorated Dancing Shoes

The latest Iron Craft challenge was to "Make a project using a technique, material or subject that begins with the letter D." So of course the first thing I thought of was to do something dance related... I remembered seeing some blinged out dancing shoes on Pinterest and decided I'd go with that.

I went to Pinterest to find the original pin that sparked my interest and instead I found a different pin with framed shoes covered in pink glitter. They were absolutely gorgeous and I was just about to start planning my sparkle shoe project when I remembered I hate working with glitter! Not only does it get everywhere while you're working with it, but it continues to spread the sparkle 'joy' forever... I knew that the finished shoes would end up hanging in the little miss' room, and I could just imagine them spreading their 'joy' all over her room - and not in a good way! So I went back to the original idea of blinging them out with crystals.

New Irish dancing shoes are not cheap, but the little miss had a pair that no longer fit her that were in decent enough condition, so I decided to use those. They had been taped up a bit at the toes and on the bottom as they had been her busking/outdoor preforming shoes, and once I took the tape off the finish wasn't looking too hot anymore. So instead of polishing them up I spray painted them silver (as I coincidentally had a little bit left over from a different project). After two coats of spray paint the shoes were ready for blinging!

The little miss wanted the shoes to be green, of course, so I went to my favourite online bling shop (Rhinestonz & Beads) and started perusing the green crystals on offer... I didn't want the finished shoes to be too dark, so decided on peridot. Because it's just a craft project and doesn't need massive stage sparkle I went for the options that were budget friendly. I went for a 350 pack of Perciosa 8cut ss16s (they were on clearance), 100 Arabesque ss20s, and two larger acrylic accent stones. I used just plain old craft glue as I found it worked better than Gem-Tack (which I usually use for my blinging); as it's tackier and dries quicker than the Gem-Tack.

I thought that 452 stones would be enough to decorate a pair of tiny size 8 shoes, but I was wrong. Thankfully I had a stash of crystal Arabesque ss20s to fill in a few gaps! The final crystal count on the shoes was 627. Don't ask me how I ended up using an uneven number, it hurts me to even think that one of the shoes in the pair has one less crystal on it.

Thankfully I always separate my project crystals into even piles so that I don't overuse in one area and run out before I get to the next section... 

I had a plan in my head as to the pattern I was going to make with the crystals, but had to make some ad-hoc changes as I went when I realised that my purchased crystals were not going to go as far as I had thought. I was very glad for my fairly sizable stash of  plain crystal Arabesques, which not only saved me from having to wait for more crystals to arrive, but also helped keep the cost from getting out of hand.

After leaving them to dry completely overnight, I laced them up with some fancy ribbon to match and hung them in the little miss's room.

Overall I'm happy with how they turned out - especially for a first try. But the cost of the crystals (even using budget options) was a bit higher than I had hoped. It almost made me think I should have gone back to the glitter idea. Almost.

*note: if you want to check out the other decorated Irish dancing shoes I've pinned, you can find them on my Pinterest Irish Dancing board here.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Iron Craft Catch Up

I knew I wasn't going to be able to blog every Iron Craft challenge I completed, but I will do my best to blog the big projects and some of my favourites. I'm so excited about the current craft challenge, but can't post a write up about it until reveal day (which is next week).

In the meantime, here is a round up are the challenges I've completed so far, that weren't lucky enough to get their own blog post in time for reveal day...

I always find this kind of challenge difficult as I already do so many crafts!!! There's always more I want to try, but the cost &/or accessibility of materials usually gets in the way. So for this challenge I decided to use a new technique for something I already do... I blocked some items that I had crocheted. I am a self taught crocheter and never really thought I needed to block stuff - it seemed like an unnecessary additional step. It wasn't too much of a pain to do (except for rendering the dining table unusable for the duration), and I'll do it again - but not for every project. 

The challenges are obviously dreamed up in the Northern Hemisphere, because in my world it's more like dreading winter... I was running very short of time with this one too as I was busy making crafts for my kids' school gala as well as for the Little Sprouts Easter Country Fair. I decided that some of the badges I was making for these events looked a bit spring-like, so used them as my challenge entry. 
These badges were made in the same way as my key tags tutorial (found here), except they have a broach pin on the back instead of a ribbon & key ring.

The reveal day for this challenge was on St Patrick's Day, and you'd think with my little Irish dancers in the house I would have done something Irish; but no. We're all pretty kitted out with St Patrick's Day stuff in this house, and I was still super busy with the gala & fair crafts, so I decided to make some of my gala baking green instead. I made the little miss' absolute favourite peppermint fudge - which, surprise, surprise, is green. It's super easy to make and is sooooo yummy. And it looks cool too, if I do say so myself.
For this challenge I made myself some finger-less gloves. I've been meaning to make myself a pair for ages, so figured this was a good opportunity - especially with winter creeping up. And yes, I seem to have gotten stuck on the green theme.

And that brings us to Challenge #7 - "D" is for. I'll give you a hint... it's something to do with dancing. You'll have to wait for reveal day which is officially April 14th, but for those of us in the NZ time zone it's not until the 15th. 


A few months ago the little guy turned 5 and we had a "How to Train Your Dragon" birthday party for him. Many hours were spent browsing Pinterest and the internet in general, and we came up with a few games/activities to keep the kids busy. But first Mr almost 5 insisted on a Toothless costume...

So I made one up as I went. I was originally going to have the wings on the back and the sleeves would be Toothless' front legs, but the little guy wanted wings he could flap with his arms and I realized that was going to be way easier to do, so we went with that... The 'top' over laps in the front and does up with a bit of velcro at the neck. The tail goes on like a belt and again does up with velcro. Once Toothless was finished the little guy requested his sister be Stormfly, but that was just a bit beyond what I was willing to do, so we rummaged through the little miss's closet and came up with an Astrid costume instead.

On party day we set up a shield decorating station where the kids could decorate their own shields. This was good to get the kids involved in something as soon as they got in the door, and also kept them busy while waiting for the other dragon trainers to arrive. I pre-made the shields from cardboard, tape & ribbons so the kids could hold them on their arms. We just put out our stock of coloured pencils & markers and the kids loved it.

Next the kids needed to earn a sword to go with their shields, so we played pin the tail on the Toothless. I had planned to make swords, but then I found some inflatable ones for $1 each and figured there was no way I could make anything for cheaper, and they were nice and safe to be played with even after the inevitable sugar rush. Everyone got a sword, but they were handed out in order of who got Toothless' tail closest to the right spot.

After a bit of sword fighting mayhem, we played another game... Feed the Gronckle. Every good dragon trainer knows that gronckles eat rocks, so I made up some rocks out of scrunched up newspaper covered in tape. I printed out a picture of a gronckle and stuck it to a large box. I cut out the bottom of the box and also the mouth of the gronckle, and the kids took turns throwing rocks into the mouth. It was great fun, and the kids kept going back to this one throughout the party.  

 And then one last organized game before cake time... It was our own little version of sheep racing.
The kids lined up into two teams and took turns putting a sheep pom-pom between their knees and delivering the sheep past the line placed at the other end of the room (without using their hands). If they dropped their sheep they had to go back and start again. Again, lots of good fun and the kids really worked together to help each other out with this one. It was pretty much impossible to get a photo of this one, sorry... But then there was cake, a fire breathing cake even!

The party finished up with opening presents and then running around the deck and more sword fighting - fortunately the hanging balloons were a favourite target.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

2015 Iron Craft Challenge - #2 Love is in the Air

The second Iron Craft challenge for 2015 was to make something for someone you love. The challenge was so open, and since most of my crafts are made for people I love, I could have made almost anything! But since a new busking dress was already on the cards for the little miss and dreaming about the design has been keeping me up at night, I figured that's what I'd make.

The little miss's last busking dress is getting ridiculously short on her, but with school starting next week I don't think she'll be doing much busking in the short term, so I wanted to make something that she would be able to wear as an everyday dress as well as busk in. And I wanted to make sure it had some growing room in it. This dress gave me the opportunity to try out a new crochet collar design and some Celtic knot applique - both of which might appear in some form on the next Irish dancing solo dress I make...

I usually draft my own patterns, but for this dress I used a vintage pattern I had laying around - Simplicity 9796 Girls Princess Seam Dress. Possibly my favourite thing about this pattern is that it's so old it comes in regular and 'chubby' sizes - lol, gotta love the 70's! I altered it by leaving off the sleeves, making the neckline higher, adding a crochet collar and Celtic knotted butterfly applique on the front, and by special request from the little miss I made a sash for the back. The collar was made using the Pan pattern by Krisstin Hrund. I attached it to the dress so that instead of doing up in the front, the open ends are secured at the zipper. It's my favourite collar I've made so far and super easy too!


There is a lot of love in this dress... I love the little miss, and she loves anything Irish (especially anything Irish dancing), I loved the process of making this dress, and both the little miss & I love the finished product!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Scrap Fabric Key Tags - Tutorial

These key tags are super easy and quick to make; and best of all they're a great way to make use of those fabric scraps you've been hording for ages (or is that just me?).

What you'll need:
  • Scraps of fabric
    I use a printed fabric for the 'front' and plain thermal backed* fabric for the 'back'. But you could probably use any non-stretch fabric for both the front & back.
    *I have a lot of these scraps as I often use this type of fabric to line the bags & baskets I make. 
  • Stiff Pellon, Buckram or similar
    I have scraps of this stuff laying around as I use it for stiffening the skirts of my Irish dancing dresses, it is also commonly used in millinery. Basically you want something that's going to stop the fabric from being soft & floppy.
  • Ribbon
    You'll only need a little bit. I have found that grosgrain ribbon works best as regular satin ribbon can catch on the metal key-ring and pill a bit.
  • Key-ring
    This one's pretty obvious.
  • Pins, thread, scissors & sewing machine
    Again, all the obvious stuff.

  1. Start out by selecting a fabric scrap that you want to use as your front. I tend to use a picture from my fabric prints, but any pattern you want to use will work fine.

  2. Cut the fabric into the shape & size you the key tag to be.

  3. Trace around the fabric shape on the stiffener and wrong side of the backing fabric and cut them out.

  4. Pin all 3 pieces together with the stiffener in the middle, and the front & back fabrics with right sides facing out.

  5. Fold your ribbon scrap in half (right side out if it has one) and melt the cut edges with a lighter or lit match - this will stop it from fraying and also helps the ends stay together nicely while sewing it all together.

  6. Insert the ribbon at the top of your key tag between the backing and stiffening layers & pin.

  7. Using a straight stitch on your sewing machine, sew all the layers together around as close to the edges as possible.

  8. Trim any edges where they layers don't match up to ensure there are no layers sticking out from the others.

  9. Using a zig-zag stitch on your machine, stitch all the way around your key tag going across the ribbon as shown. I set the machine stitch length to around .4 and the width to around 4.0.

  10. Tie off & cut any loose threads.
  11. Insert  your key ring to the top of the ribbon.
  12. Enjoy your new key tag!

Note: you don't have to use your new key tags just for your keys... The little miss puts them on her bags as zipper pulls and decorations. Since I've used plain backing fabric we put her name on them with fabric markers too.

You can see that these are very well used by the little miss!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

DIY Sparkle Socks (Bling-ing Irish dancing poodle socks - tutorial)

So anyone who is (or has) an Irish dancer knows that you can never have enough bling, including on your socks! The little miss' sparkle socks were starting to look not so white, and although they made her feel even more dressed up wearing them, you couldn't actually see much (if any) sparkle from them when she was on the stage. This isn't really surprising as the sparkles on them were fairly small* cheap plastic/acrylic gems. I knew I could do better and decided to make my own...
* The stones were size ss12 to be precise. That size of gems was standard on socks at the time we bought them, but it looks like larger stones are now more common.

After deciding on the size stones I wanted to use, I counted on the socks how many I would need, went to my source for crystals, and calculated the cost of all of my options... Swarovski crystals probably would have provided the best amount of sparkle, but the cost was rather much higher than I was willing to spend on socks. Preciosa weren't much cheaper, so I decided on Arabesque. My preferred crystal supplier has only recently started supplying Arabesque crystals which are marketed as a low cost option, but they still have a nice sparkle - just not as much as the Swarovski or Preciosa options. I looked at the gems on the little miss' store bought socks and figured even the low cost option would be better than what she was wearing - especially since I was going up a size (actually two sizes).

I wanted the crystals on the socks to be clear crystal rather than the AB coated ones, which now also seems to be standard at the places I usually buy from. I went with size ss20 and I'm really pleased with the outcome. I used just over 50 stones per sock (keep in mind these are size petite socks for tiny children's feet).

So enough of my babbling, here's how I did them...

First I got some scrap polar fleece fabric* and rolled it to around the same width as the little miss' calves, wrapped the rolled fabric in baking paper and taped it in place, and pulled the socks up over them. The fabric was so that the socks would still stretch to fit her when the glue was dry, and the baking paper was to stop the glue from going through the socks and sticking to the fabric.
*You don't need to use polar fleece, anything you could roll up & fit in the socks should work.
I double checked the placement of the stones. I wanted them to look like this:

And then I started gluing*.
I squeezed out dots of the glue where I wanted the stones to be, I got into a rhythm of dabbing on a row of glue dots at a time and then pressing the stones onto the glue.
*I use Gem-tac glue.

I worked my way around each sock, and then left them overnight to dry.

The next day I took the 'stuffing' out of them and voila!

They've been worn a few times now and they haven't lost a stone yet. :)

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

2015 Iron Craft Challenge - #1 Crochet Strawberries Headband

This year I'm taking part in the Iron Craft Challenge over at Just Crafty Enough. Basically a new challenge is given each fortnight and then you post a photo of your completed craft on the group Flickr page. I was looking to do a weekly/monthly type craft challenge and a friend of mine who has participated in Iron Craft in the past recommended it to me. I am so excited!!!!!!!

As this year is the 4th anniversary of the challenge running, the first challenge of the year was to create something around the theme of 4th anniversary gifts -  either traditional, which is fruit or flowers, or modern which is appliances. After a little bit of thought (and some Pinterest browsing) I came up with this crocheted strawberries headband.

I based the strawberries on this strawberry pattern (but downsized it slightly), and the blossom was based on the first part of this simple flower with the addition of a button sewn into the middle. I attached them to a long chain stitch that wrapped around the little miss's head three times and made a loop in the end opposite to the flower so that it could hook over the button.

I can not wait until tomorrow when the second craft challenge is posted...