Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Bling-ing the Dress...

Straight after making the first Irish dancing dress for my Little Miss, I was itching to get started on the next... However, there's no point replacing her perfectly fine dress while it still fits her! You can see posts about making the dress here, here, and here.

Whenever I start searching random stuff on the internet, I always end up looking at Irish dancing dresses and thinking about the next one. So much looking, and thinking, and planning, and getting frustrated at having to wait!!! And then I found some photos of dresses before and after adding crystals. Light bulb! So I played around with a picture of the current dress in Photoshop, purchased some crystals, got my Gem-Tac out, and ta-da.

I used photoshop to try out a few layouts because it's a lot easier than trying to lay out stones on slippery satin. The Little Miss and I both had a play with layout ideas and then we decided on which one we liked best (and that I thought I would be able to execute best).

After we settled on a design, I did my best to lay the stones out on the actual dress to get an idea of how many I would need for each area of the dress to make sure I didn't get carried away and run out! I wrote down approximate numbers of each size needed for each area and laid out on the table the maximum number of stones that could be used for the area I was working on.
I used some blu-tack on the end of a pencil to pick up the stones and push them down onto the dress - I would roll the pencil to remove it from the stones, but sometimes also needed a little help from my fingers to get the stones to stay on the dress not the blu-tack. I started by putting the glue directly on the back of the stones, but for areas like the sleeves where placement was more precise, I found it easier to put a little dab of glue where I wanted the stone to be and then press the stone into it.

Because of the poofiness of the skirt, I found putting a cushion in the bodice helped make a flatter surface to work on. I started on the front bodice, skirt and sleeves and let lay on the table overnight to set. I then turned it over and did the back. I let it sit for a short time and then I couldn't resist and had to go back over the front and add even more stones! After about an hour I hung it up to let the glue set completely. I also added some stones to the headband I made to match the dress.

I used size ss20 and ss30 Preciosa* flat back crystals in 'AB Crystal'  for this dress. I ordered 100 of each size and ended up using 89 ss20's and 78 ss30's for the dress and another 9 ss20's and 5 ss30's on the matching headband.

I'm very pleased with how it's all turned out, and I had fun doing it, but I still have a ways to go in perfecting my glue application!

Oh, and most importantly, the Little Miss is thrilled with it! She spent quite some time playing with the reflections they made from the sun.

*Most ID dressmakers will only use Swarovski crystals and would shun my use of Preciosa, but the Little Miss is still a novice and only competing locally (not to mention she's only just turned 6!) so I decided to go with Preciosa as it's a little cheaper, but not low budget acrylic. I compared these stones up close to the Swarovski ones I have and the Swarovski's do have a little more sparkle, but not enough for the average person to notice - especially from a distance. But that's just my opinion, and I'm glad I chose to save a little bit of cash on this one.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Shoe-box Rocket

First off I have a confession: I did not make this shoe-box rocket. In fact, it wasn't even my idea. My wonderful husband came up with this one, but it's so cute and loved so much by the Little Guy that I just had to share it with you all.

 All you need is a shoe box and some extra cardboard (the husband used the box lid for this). The box itself forms the main part of the rocket, and the fins, wings, and nose are made from the lid (you can use your extra bits of cardboard if you don't have a lid). He made slits in the sides of the box, slipped the wings through them, and then taped them (and the other bits) on with packing tape to secure it all together.

I should note that this is not at all how I pictured the rocket would be. In my mind it was going to be a stand up rocket shaped like a milk carton, but I'm so glad it wasn't! I never would have even thought of making it so that the Little Guy could pile his toys in it and fly them around the house.

This rocket was made in a few minutes a few months ago and it's still well played with and still going strong (although the nose has been repaired a few times with a bit of tape).

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Candy Apples

For some reason I've become slightly obsessed with candy apples. Maybe it's the fact that I've been watching season one of Once Upon A Time (the evil witch apples thing) or maybe a Pinterest image got stuck in my subconscious. Most likely it's a combination of the two. A quick search on Pinterest turned into a long look at pretty candy apple images and then there was no way I was getting over this obsession without making some of my own...

I've always been partial to caramel apples over the red candy ones, so I decided to go with caramel and chocolate. And the Little Miss hates anything caramel flavour, so I did some with chocolate only. I used the recipe from this blog and prepared my apples and toppings as per their suggestions.

It turns out that my caramel coating skills are pretty atrocious. The caramel started to harden so quick that it was tricky to get the toppings to stick, but then it didn't harden enough, so it all slid down the apple and turned into a sticky apple sitting in a pool of caramel. Adding a coating of chocolate helped with this though.
I found that my melted chocolate was a bit too thick for dipping the apples in, so I painted the chocolate on with the back of my spoon. This actually worked really well and it gave me more control, which I like. And as far as rolling the apples in the toppings... I put the toppings in wide shallow bowls, as my research suggested, but found that the caramel/chocolate was coming off onto the toppings and the toppings weren't sticking to the apples very well. I ended up pouring on the little toppings (like sprinkles & little candy hearts) and placing/pushing on the others on with my fingers which worked much better.

The Little Miss is going to a princess birthday party tomorrow, and I know that the birthday girl is a fan of Snow White, so I thought this red ribbon apple would go nicely on the top of her present.

Over all I'm pretty happy with how they turned out, although I think I'll just stick with chocolate ones next time. I'm thinking these would be a hit next time I need to provide baking for a fundraising event.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Irish Dancing Birthday Party

Anyone who reads this blog will already be aware of the Little Miss' love of Irish dancing. Well, she's turning 6 this weekend and decided that she would like an Irish dancing party (surprise, surprise). We had to bring the date of the party forward a week as half of the kids couldn't make it on her actual birthday, and it wasn't until after the new date was all sorted that I realised that meant I had one less week to put together a party!

Of course the first thing I did was grab my laptop and start searching the internet for Irish dance birthday party ideas. And guess what... it turns out that Irish dancing parties aren't actually that common of a birthday theme and there really wasn't much for me to find. I did find this blog and got some inspiration from it, but my Little Miss is more into the the dancing and pink than green and leprechauns.

I wanted to come up with an activity to start the party off with - something that the kids could do in their own time as they arrived, that would allow my daughter to be able to meet & greet each guest, and that wouldn't be too overwhelming for any children that didn't know anyone other than the birthday girl and the Little Guy. So I bought some extra wide ribbons and cut them into sash lengths and had the kids decorate their own prizewinner party sash. The girls spent quite a while decorating and it was a nice mellow way to start the afternoon. As each finished, I pinned their sash on and they made their way into the lounge to do a little dancing. (I really wish I had taken a photo of all the girls lined up with their beautifully decorated sashes on before they took them off.)

  I also made some shoe bling for each party-goer that I found over at this blog. They're meant to fit over the heavy dancing shoes, but the girls just put them over whatever shoes they were wearing (the girls that actually do dancing will be able to wear these over their dancing shoes later on if they like).

A lot of dancing and some dancing games came next while I swapped the ribbons & markers for party snacks. There was snacking and then a few more games while I set out the table for cookie decorating. I made some sugar cookies the night before in the shapes of Irish dancing dresses, four leaf clovers, hearts, and a few gingerbread men shapes (for the two boys) to decorate. The kids LOVED doing this! It was interesting how differently the kids approached this activity - some spent a lot of time decorating a few cookies very elaborately and then packed them away to take home with them, some decorated quickly and ate each cookie as they went, and some did a combination of the two.

Then it was time for presents, cake, a little more dancing, and home time. I actually had another activity (spinning paper fairies) printed off just in case, but it turns out it wasn't needed. Oh, and to make the cake I used this technique for the icing. Sadly I placed it off centre, but unsurprisingly not a single party guest noticed.

The Little Miss had a fantastic day and it looked like all her friends had a lot of fun too. Both my husband and I noted that it was the calmest & quietest birthday party we had ever seen - apart from the last 15 minutes which was filled with screaming and running off their sugar highs!

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Missing In Action

I'm a naughty blogger... I held off venturing into the blogging world for so long because I wasn't sure I could commit the time and effort required to keep a current & active blog. I know lots of other blogs don't have regular and/or frequent updates, but I enjoy following ones that do and hoped to be a fairly active blogger myself. I have come to realise that there are some times that I will have more availability to write about the stuff I've been doing/making and others when I have too much that needs doing to write about it.

I'm hoping that I'm coming into a period of time that I can write about some of the stuff I've been so busy doing over the last couple of months... Some of the things that have kept me busy recently are:

  • co-organising a quiz/auction night for the little guy's kindy (we raised $10,000! so I think my time on that was well spent),
  • creating and selling my Lilly-Belle creations at markets & through Facebook,
  • working on toilet training the little guy,
  • dancing - there's always lots of dancing, especially since the little guy started classes this term too,
  • the little miss's birthday party (you'll be seeing more about this one soon!),
  • and enjoying life in general.

So, just because I haven't been writing doesn't mean I haven't been making! I'll be back to start sharing my creations & experiences again soon...

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Fleece Hats

It's starting to get cold here in Wellington. I'm fortunate to have good heating and warm clothes for me and my family, but there are a lot of people that do not. I decided that I wanted to do something to make winter a little warmer for some of these families, so I came up with the idea to make hats for school aged kids and donate them to KCA who will distribute them to children who really need them. I could have whipped up a bunch of plain hats in no time, but I wanted the kids to have something fun & funky. I won't be able to make cool head coverings for all of the children in my area that need and deserve them, but I can make it a slightly more comfortable winter for some. I was really keen to make hats for school aged kids rather than toddlers and babies because I feel that sometimes the older kids get forgotten about and I wanted them (or at least a few) to have something that was new and made just for them with love.

So where to start? By searching the internet of course! I found some really awesome and complex fleece hat tutorials, but I decided to limit myself to simple (yet funky) ones so that I could make as many as possible in my limited free time. All of the hats I made were based on this free pattern.


I did all the cutting out one night in front of the tv - I cut out 14 hats with matching ears/dinosaur spikes and then realized I should probably stop there and actually sew a few up to decide if the pattern was any good before wasting all of my fabric! I started sewing them up the next day and they sewed up nicely, easily, and quickly (a perfect combination). My favourites ended up not having any ears or spikes at all, but just a ribbon threaded around the bottom like in this version of the same pattern. I had enough fabric to make another 9 hats, so I did. I ended up making plain ones with cute appliques on them - and one more ribbon one.

I didn't hem the hats I made. I decided not to for 3 reasons:

  1. I don't have a serger/overlocker, so in order for the hats to still have some stretch I would have to do a zig zag stitch and the first one I tried just didn't look very nice. (*I did a zig zag ruffle on the edges of a few kitty ear hats which looked really cute, but also made them very girly so I didn't want to do it to all of them.)
  2. The pattern is a little too short for much of a hem, and I wanted the hats to be really wearable and cover the kids' whole heads & keep their ears warm too.
  3. Polar fleece won't fray, so I really didn't need to and it would save me some time which would allow me to make a couple of extra hats. ;)
When I started making the hats neither of my kids were remotely interested in having one of their own, but once I finished them all both kids quickly chose one to model and then didn't want to take it off! So it looks like I need to make one more kitty hat and another "rah rah" (dinosaur) hat for my littlies... 

My kitty's a little too small to fill out this hat properly.
But look at that cute little face, I guess I'll be making one more of these...

The little guy immediately started running around saying "rah, rah" when he
put this one on. I'll take that as him approving of my work ;)

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Daddy Pants

Today my husband handed me two pairs of trousers that he no longer wanted. They were both in really good condition still, so he gave them to me to either pass on to someone else or do 'whatever' with. I instantly thought of a conversation I was having in a craft group about ways to up-cycle some great old tweed coats and thus was inspired to up-cycle them... I made them each into a pair of pants for my little guy.

I made them pretty much the same way as in my pajama pants post using a pair of the little guy's trousers that fit him well as a guide in cutting out the new ones. Because I like to save work where I can, I used the existing side seams in the trousers and lined up the bottom with the existing hem - it made me so happy when I came to the part where I would have normally hemmed them and it was already done!!!!

Once I had cut out each side, I placed the 2 pieces right sides together and stitched up the front & back from waist to crotch, and then stitched up each leg. For the first pair I just made a casing around the waist and threaded elastic all the way through. I thought the first pair was really cute, but wanted the second pair to be a bit more polished, so I made them with a flat front and used a wide elastic in the back only.

The little guy loves his new trousers and calls them his "Daddy pants". And I think they're pretty cute too.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Ribbon Charm Necklaces

Whoa this month has been busy! I had a lovely 2 weeks with my parents visiting, but that combined with back to school, the little miss' dancing, and the school gala drawing nearer and nearer, it's been a little full on... But I'm starting to get back into the groove of things and that means it must be time for a new blog post.

I whipped up a tonne of these cute ribbon charm necklaces for the school gala one morning. I made around 50 of them in just over an hour - and that was with the little miss' 'help'.

I had a whole pile of these little metal charms, that came with a bulk lot of buttons I bought ages ago, and no use for them. So I got some inexpensive rolls of ribbon from the local emporium (a roll containing at least 15 meters cost only $1.80!) and made them into cute little necklaces the kids can buy with their pocket change at the gala.

I cut the ribbon into around one meter lengths and folded each into half before threading it through the charm and knotting it through itself.

And then to finish them off I melted each end of the ribbon with a lighter so that they don't fray and unravel - a very important, but often missed, step when working with ribbon!

To display these cute little accessories, I covered a piece of sturdy cardboard with some plain fabric and will pin the ribbons to it to hold the necklaces in place. Voila!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Easy Peasy Buntings

Here is another craft I've made for the school gala... buntings!

So far I've made a total of 9 buntings for the gala. Because the goal of these crafts is to make things that people will want to buy that can be made for a minimal cost without taking up too much time, I decided to make these buntings one-sided and cut them with pinking shears rather than hem them. I then attached them by sewing each triangle straight on to a ribbon (making sure to leave enough ribbon on each end for hanging). Each bunting has 5 flags and measures just under a meter long (plus extra for hanging). The length was really determined by the average amount of scraps I had in each fabric pattern.

I think they're really cute and would be the perfect size to fit over a kitchen window, above a single bed, over an entrance way, or under a hanging shelf. Oh, now that I think about it - maybe I need to make some more of these for our house...