10 December 2010

A Simple Drawstring Bag

After our pomander ball lost some of its novelty, Kaia became frustrated that she couldn't remove the clementine and play with the shiny green bag. I made a very quick, simple drawstring bag for her out the the same material and lined it with a scrap of black corduroy. She's quite happy with it and willing now to let the pomander ball continue to be a pomander ball. After making one, I think I may make more as reusable "wrapping" for holiday gifts, so sweet and simple.

Trace and cut two circles of fabric. I traced a dinner plate with chalk and the circles are 9 inches in diameter (or nearly 23 cm.) Sew them right sides together, leaving a gap just big enough to turn your pouch right-side-out.

And yes, I am working on my kitchen floor. That is so I can look at this on the floor next to me while I work:

Back on task. After you sew around the outside, turn your fabric right-side-out and sew up the hole. Put another line of stitches a bit further in, all the way around. There only needs to be enough space in between to accommodate the string you plan to use. I used ribbon, so my gap is a bit larger than it would need to be for, say, a shoelace. 

Cut two little holes next to each other through the first layer of fabric in the space between your stitching. I then went around the holes with a few blanket stitches to help strengthen them followed by wrapping the edges with stitches, as a buttonhole is done. I would post the picture but it turned out to be terribly out of focus, so I will spare you. Now you're pretty much done, run your string through one hole, around the bag, and out the other. I did this by tying my ribbon to a safety pin and pushing it through. Either simply tie knots at the ends of your lace to keep it from pulling through, or, if your lace doesn't knot large enough (like my ribbon,) tie some beads on the ends.

Pull tight, fill with little treasures or yummy treats! Kaia filled hers with glass stones we're using for another project. I suppose I didn't need all of them. ;)

07 December 2010

An Angel of Winter

Inspired by Twig and Toadstool's Queen Winter Kaia and I decided to craft a little miss for ourselves. I will say that I am less than thrilled with the outcome. I plan on reworking her, but Kaia is in love with her and that is what matters the most, anyway. 

This is how we made her. In addition to these things, I also used some gold ribbon and a strand of gold elastic. Kaia picked out the wings, and so we made an angel. White feathers, (we are really not feather buyers, but we were given some in with a load of craft stuff,) pipe cleaners, fake snow, an acorn, and glitter.

Let me say in preamble to this photo that I would KILL for Photoshop right now! Okay, that isn't true, but know that the desire is very strong. I hate MS Paint more every time I have to touch the filthy thing, it makes even the easiest of tasks horrifically painful and an extraordinary amount of work. Paint is what I have, though, unfortunately, so bare with these next couple pictures, I tried, I swear.

I started with one of the white pipe cleaners. I bent it into a circle to create a base and twirled it up to help give the body some thickness. I bent the top into a small horizontal circle to give me a place to glue the head on.

This pictures makes this step look way crazier than it is. I changed the colour of the line as I went to help differential them for each other in the middle, if it is hard to tell what is what, click on the picture and zoom in on it, the larger version should help. Basically, I bent one end of the pipe cleaner around the center of the figure, brought it out to form an arm, doubled it back on itself, twirled around the center again and into the second arm, also doubled back on itself, and then twisted the end around the center of the figure again to secure it. I left the ends poking out and downward to help form the dress.

I wrapped a small handful of the snow tightly around the figure's waist and then more loosely down to the base. I wrapped more snow until the skirt was full. Another small handful I wrapped across the chest and down the arms for sleeves, billowing them at the cuffs.

I hot glued her acorn head into place, sans cap. Then I cut one of the shiny pipe cleaners up into short and long pieces to be her bangs and hair. This may be the first place I really went wrong, I am not terribly happy with her hair. Possibly the bangs are just too short, possibly she shouldn't have bangs at all, possibly this just wasn't a good hair material.

I glued her bangs on first with little dabs of hot glue on the top of her head. I made her longer hair into ringlets by wrapping them around the thin end of a chopstick before gluing them in place, in the same manner as the bangs. 

Now her hat. Loved it off of her, am not so fond of it on her. I think it is the way it fits over her hair. I may pull all her hair off, glue her hat directly onto her head, and then attach the ringlets underneath it. I first covered the acorn cap in white glue and gave it a healthy coating of glitter. Then I glued a thin layer of "snow" over the top of the cap, leaving a shiny band around the edge. I followed that with a few spring off one of the feathers. To make the halo I cut a small length of the gold elastic, dabbed a smidgen of hot glue on the end and connected it into a circle. That was glued onto the hat with just a little dot at the back.

I crossed her chest with the elastic and knotted it in back, where it will be hidden, to help keep the fluff in check.

I wrapped the gold ribbon around her waist and tied it into a bow. I then also cut four small lengths of ribbon and glued them spaced out under the belt to trail down her dress.

I glued the feathers on her back for a cloak.

Then glued her wings on top of that.

Not being satisfied with the hat, I added a white pipe cleaner brim. 

And there you.... oh, wow. Just... wow. All the parts looked so pretty on their own. Ah well, Kaia and I had fun crafting her together, which is what I value most in our projects. Kaia, at least, is very happy with our winter angel. Maybe I will make peace with letting her be what she is, or maybe I will have another go at her, we'll see. She is presiding over our winter table, although the winter table is still being added to. :)

Best wishes!

04 December 2010

A Delicious Pomander Ball

We made an absolutely scrumptious smelling pomander ball, as suggested here on Acorn Pies. I made these, too, when I was a child, though we never wrapped them in spices. This proved to be an even more fantastic project for Kaia than I even could have suspected. She adored every single step of the process and I think we may need to buy a crate of clementines because she really wants to make more. We had swiped just two clementines from my parents, but I think we'll need to be adding pomander balls to our Christmas packages. ;)

Kaia went through my scrap fabrics and picked out a shiny green one. It was left over fabric from a dress my Mum made me for a high school dance. Wow, what taste. I remember my Mum trying to talk me into practically anything else, but she made it as I wished, haha. I think it will look much better on the clementine. Kaia picked out a ribbon and I traced a plate onto the fabric and cut out a big circle. I poured a selection of spices into their caps, laid out some cloves, the ribbon, placed the clementine in the middle of it all and invited Kaia to come sit. She climbed up onto the stool, her eyes lit up and she immediately began touching and trying to smell everything!

She smelled the clementine and I had to talk her out of eating it. That's okay, that's what I swiped the second clementine for.

I poked some holes into the clementine and showed her how to push the cloves in. I started with a large embroidery needle but she still had difficulty and I ended up using a bic pen, which worked perfect.

She really enjoyed doing this, and carefully pushed every single clove in. 

She was both awed and thrilled by the finished clementine.

I thought we may need to start poking holes all over the place when we got to the bottom, but when I asked her if she wanted me to make more holes or if she wanted to move on to the spices, she eagerly reached for the spices.

She smelled each and every spice and seed with great pleasure. This turned out not only to be a sensory experience, but also a practice in breathing as she attempted to master very gently inhaling and withdrawing before exhaling. A few caps got their spices blown out of them and needed to be refilled, and we got one face full of cardamom that needed to be carefully wiped clean, but this did not keep her from loving every second of it.

After giving each selection due consideration, she unfailingly would proclaim that it smelled so good and sprinkle it on the clementine. Our clementine is wearing, in addition to its cloves; fennel, fenugreek, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, and turmeric. I must admit, I was a wee bit surprised at how well all these scents combined, it smells just lovely!

We gathered up the fabric and she held it ever so dutifully clenched in her little fist while I tied a loose knot in the ribbon. She happily pulled it tight, and I tied a bow. She can't stop sniffing it.

  She moves it around all day, hanging it here, hanging it there, smelling it, running about with it, or giving it to her baby to hold while she pushes them in the cart. She wanted to make another the moment this one was done. Guess I will get cutting!

01 December 2010

Make A Pennant (And My Two Cents on Visual Media)

I have to admit, Kaia's desire for a pennant was media derived. We do not do much of that kind of thing around here. We don't have television, and at nearly 3 she has just seen her fifth movie, which is feeling like a lot. All Miyazaki films - Ponyo, Kiki's Delivery Service, Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Howl's Moving Castle. Gorgeous, hand watercoloured, astoundingly beautiful, creative, and imagination inspiring films. Miyazaki filled me with wonder in my childhood, and was a strong artistic influence on me. 

I am still trying to figure out exactly where I feel visual media, such as movies, and the world of art meet and separate. Film is certainly a platform for art, and I will not shield her from all forms of the medium, nor do I think anything that appears on a screen is inherently bad for you. Especially when either of us are very sick. ;) I don't feel that in the music videos and movies I have allowed her to see that I am letting her have a little bit of a bad thing, but that when used selectively and in limitation the medium can be an experience in art and imagination. I am not really interested in wondering about our TV-free lifestyle, the adverts alone are enough to keep television from being something I consider life enhancing. In any case, Miyazaki is very firmly seated in the "artwork" category in my mind, and I especially enjoyed the sweet little scene about breastfeeding innocently placed in Ponyo. 

That said, the pennant has nothing to do with Miyazaki, sorry! The idea was from They Might Be Giants' music video for their song, "Seven Days of the Week (I Never Go To Work)", one of Kaia's absolute favourite songs for the moment. They Might Be Giants was my first favourite band as a child, and the first tape I owned. I am very excited about their more recent child-oriented album releases, Here Comes Science, Here Come The ABCs, and Here Come The 123s, and sharing what was some of my favourite music as a little person with my own little person, who loves it as much as I did. And wants her own pennant.

So, on to our pennant! I wanted it to be two colours, but you could use just one if you want. Cut out two triangles of the same size, however big and whatever shape you want your flag to be, and sew them together along one edge, wrong sides out.
Decide if you would like to adorn your flag, you'll need to have it sewn on before you sew your flag up. I loosely sketched a "K" for one side and a star for the other side with a disappearing fabric marker. Cut out your shapes, added fusible webbing to the backs, and iron in place. My fusible webbing says that no sewing is necessary, but it just doesn't look finished to me without it, so I inexpertly sewed around the borders as well in contrasting thread. If you were going to opt out of sewing yours on, you could do this bit after the rest of your flag is done if you want.
To make the opening for a flag pole, turn the point in on the bottom of your flag where your fabric meets and sew it in place. Fold your flag in half, wrong sides out, and sew from the edge of your turned point to the far point of your flag. There will be a hole at the bottom of your flag now with a finished edge for your pole.
To stiffen the flag and keep the two sides from wrinkling up I cut another large piece of fusible webbing to fit just inside the seams. Make sure it is cut to stop short of where your fabric is turned, you don't want to fuse the entire thing together or you won't be able to put it on anything. Turn your flag right sides out and iron together.
Now turn the top point of the flag in, just as you did the bottom point and sew the last side of your flag. Then put a line of stitching from the inside of one turned point to the inside of the other, (away from the side seam) up your flag. This will keep your pole in place. I also went over the top turned point a few more times just to be sure the flag pole wouldn't break through it, this will be a stress point.
All sewn up:
Now insert a stick or dowel rod and you are done. Our stick is not perfectly straight and is a bit snug, but it fits none the less.
Ready for marching around and playing! Kaia especially enjoys holding on to the very end of the stick and waving the flag around as high as she can possibly get it.