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Monday, 28 April 2014

Comic book/Superhero bedroom decor

I had good intentions, gentle readers.  I did.
When we first bought this house - almost a year and a half ago now- Walters bedroom was the first one painted. My intention was to paint his bedroom, assemble all his new furniture and decorate his bedroom to make it a space he would really love.
The room got painted, and all the furniture assembled.  Then that's where we stopped. His bedroom got to that unfortunate place of "good enough for now".
Walter wants a comic book/ superhero bedroom. He has taken to drawing and painting pictures of super heroes and sticking them to his walls with tape.   Something needs to be done for this boy.   But a real bedroom makeover will cost a few hundred dollars.   Dollars that are otherwise accounted for in our family budget.
I could start small though.  Little things whose cost we could squeeze out of our weekly entertainment budget.  So that is what I have done.   I made him toss pillows for his bed that were inspired by comic books. I had almost everything I needed on hand, so a set of three will only cost about $9. (I only managed to get one done last night, but a set of three will be on his bed)

First, I found some free clip art printables with the iconic super hero sound effects. I printed them out in full page size.  These are what I used as a "pattern" for my letters.  If you have even an iota of artistic ability you can likely skip this step.  I, however, need a pattern very much.
Super hero sound effects
 I cut out my letters and pinned them to a piece of felt.   To be sure I wouldn't run out of felt, or have to switch dye lots in the middle of one of my words I bought felt off the bolt from the fabric store instead of using small felt sheets.  I bought more than enough red, blue and yellow felt to do all three pillows. The felt was on sale for 40% off (*grin*) and I bought a half meter of each colour. My total came to $9.66 after taxes.
I cut the letters from my felt with the paper pattern as a guide.
Paper pattern pinned to felt, ready for cutting
 Next I cut out the red felt.
POW background
 I pinned the letters to the backing...
Then I ran it through the sewing machine using yellow thread.
POW secured to red backing. 

 I have tons of smallish pieces of black felt on hand.  So I decided that would make as good a pillow as anything.  I measured out the size of black felt I wanted.  Roughly 10''x 12''.
The black background make the colours pop
 Using red thread I sewed the background to the black felt.  I did have to switch thread colours back to yellow to affix the parts of the "P" "W" and "!" where there is no red visible against the black.  I didn't want red threads running over the yellow felt.
With right sides together I sewed the pillow front to the pillow back leaving a space for tuning and stuffing.
Then I turned the pillow right side again.
Looking good 
 Using on hand pollyfill stuffing I filled the pillow. Then I stitched closed the opening.
Filling the pillow
 Looking back at the original clip art image, I wanted to add the black and white highlights seen there.  Using some fabric paint I copied what I saw.  I think the fabric paint really helps make it look like it came out of a comic book... you know...  comic book-y. ;)

Walter loves it and when the other two are finished they will be adorable on his bed.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Super Mario inspired birthday gift for boy

My son Walter attended a birthday party this past weekend for one of his friends turning six. 
I had no idea what this particular six year old boy might like, so I asked his mom.  Among other things listed, she said he liked Super Mario. 
 Perhaps because That Guy has been offering cooking classes for kids (as well as teens and adults) from our home for the past three months, when I heard "Super Mario" my mind immediately flew to delicious Italian foods.  

So I decided to marry the two ideas and make a Super Mario inspired kids apron and cooking set!

Fortunately a child's apron does not require much fabric at all. I was able to pull the red and blue fabrics from my stash along with big yellow buttons.  Two packages of black biased tape cost about $4 after my fabric store discount. 

First I quickly measured and sewed together the blue and red fabrics. Press your seam open.
I used a cotton broadcloth for this project which comes folded in half on the bolt. I used half of the unfolded width for the width of the apron. 

Blue and red fabrics sewn together and pressed
with seam open
Next I folded the fabric in half and, using chalk, drew on the apron top shape.   Then I cut the fabric along those lines.
Apron shape drawn on the fold.
 I also cut a piece of solid coloured fabric for the backing of the apron.   Cotton broadcloth is a lightweight fabric so I added the backing to both give the apron a bit more weight as well as neatly hide all the seams
Apron front and back cut
 With a bit of the blue fabric scraps I created the straps for Marios iconic overalls. I pressed raw edges under and ran a quick top stitch to keep everything in place.
Overall straps
 I pinned the straps to the apron front and then top stitch those in place.
Straps pinned down
 Next I added the big yellow buttons, and suddenly it was identifiable as Super Mario inspired.
Big yellow buttons on
 I chose black biased tape for this project as a nod to the cartoon nature of Super Mario.  Inside the fold of the tape was both the front and back layers of the apron.  One package of bias tape did the top and the bottom three straight edges.  Do not do the rounded edges yet.  Pin the tape in place with care and use a zig zag stitch to help be sure you are catching all fabric with every stitch.
Almost done!
 Next, open the second package of black bias tape and cut it into three equal pieces. Taking one of the thirds, find its midpoint. place that midpoint in the center of the raw curved edge and pin in place.  This will leave "tails" of bias tape at the top and bottom of the curved edges.  These will be the ties for around the neck and waist. Once you have pinned, zig zag stitch the entire length of your bias tape.

That Guy's cooking classes require that we have certain cooking related supplies on hand. Like chef hats and new wooden spoons and child sized rolling pins. I added a pizza cutter and a mixing bowl that I got at the dollar store for $2 each. Gift total now $8.

I also decided to really send home the Super Mario theme by carefully drawing the logo onto the chef hat with a red marker.  I think it's totally adorable, and the birthday boy loved it!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

DIY gift for Dad- Massage shirt under $5

That Guys birthday recently passed.  As the years go on it seems to get harder and harder to think of a unique, creative, useful, frugal gift for him.   This year, however, he pretty much told me what he wanted.

Years ago, as a Fathers Day craft we made these very shirts with the daycare kids as gifts.  Of course That Guy got one from Walter.  It has been loved and worn countless times.  So many times that when I was folding the laundry a few weeks ago and I cam across the shirt. It was stretched, fraying and worn.  Even the fabric paint on the back had started to curl and pull away from the cotton. Poking his head into our bedroom where I was folding, he spotted me with his beloved shirt in my hands and he said "I would really love a new one of those some day".  Well that settled it!

But I did not want to recreate a shirt he had already been gifted.  But the idea was sound.  The idea of a shirt he could wear, lay on his stomach and the children could "massage" him by playing on his back.

So when I saw a shirt on Pinterest with drums and a piano keys on it I knew I had found something great.  That Guy even plays drums! (He is quite convinced playing the drums makes him a rock star.  What it really makes him is a drummer for our church worship band ;) )

I bought a new white t-shirt for just under $4
White t-shirt
 Then I went online and googled "free clip art drum" and found this image.  I liked this one because there were no drum sticks in the picture.  It was also one of the most simple drawings I could find
 I had to play with my printer settings a bit to get it to be the size I wanted.  I wanted two drum images to fit side by side down the back of the shirt.

Originally my plan was to faux screen print these drums on the shirt.  In fact, I was originally quite certain that I had a Cricut cartridge with drums and piano images on it.  Originally this project was going to be easy peasy lemon squeezy.  Then the reality that I actually have only imagined I have said cartridge hit.

Plan B was to trace this image onto freezer paper, cut it out by hand with an Xacto knife and continue with the faux screen print approach. As it turns out I am very bad at tracing. And cutting with an Xacto knife. And holding back frustrated grunt-curses.

Plan C was to slide the printed clip art image under the shirt and simply trace with black fabric paint. Turns out I am STILL (one hour later) very bad at tracing.  However, it also turns out that the level of required perfection for a gift to be acceptable drops dramatically after grunt-curses have begun.

So Plan C it was!
Two drums "skillfully" (hahaha!!) traced
The only simple, free clip art image I could find for a piano keyboard was only one octave.  So I printed two copies of it and taped them together.  Then I slid the paper inside the shirt and traced like I did the drums (that is to say, poorly).

However, as imperfect as my lines are I think the finished shirt is adorable!
That Guy can wear it and lay down on his stomach. Then Walter and Audrey get to play away on the instruments all while giving That Guys back some much deserved love.