30 January 2012

Make a Rainbow Tail

As promised, a tail tutorial to go with the Unicorn Horn Flower Crown. This tail is a very simple and quick project, and certainly isn't limited to unicorns or rainbows. Kaia specifically wanted a rainbow tail for her unicorn costume, and I thought keeping the bands of colour separate would have more rainbow impact than the strands all being mixed together. 

You will need: 
  • Yarn
  •  Stick or Large Book
  • Needle and Thread 
  • Cloth Ribbon (Thin and Wide)
  • Tacky Glue (I Used Quick Dry)
  • Belt
We picked out Bernat Mosaic Yarn - Psychedelic, their Calypso version is nice, too. 

This yarn has its colours in long sections, so as I pulled the yarn off the skein I wrapped it into equal lengths. This is pretty easy to do by wrapping your yarn around a book, but Kaia wanted a very long tail, one that came all the way to her feet. I held one end of the yarn in my hand, and wrapped it around a crochet hook I held between my knees, back and forth, between hand and hook, until the yarn started to shift to the next colour. Then I cut it.

Make sure both cut ends come out on the same side, even if it means chopping off a little section of yarn before starting your next colour, so that one end of your yarn has only loops. Use another short length of yarn to go under and around the loop end, and double knot it. Trim the knot ends short, (but not so short that your knot might slip out.) Do this for each colour. You will have a separate bundle for each colour.

Once you are through gathering your colours into bundles, run another, longer, length of yarn through all of them and tie them together. This length of yarn goes through the top loop, just as you did for the separate bundles, right under the short length of yarn you already tied. Now the bundles are all tied together on the inside. Wrap yet another length of yarn a handful of times tightly around the outside of the bundles, just below the knots, and double knot it. This sucker is not coming apart.

Cut the loops off the bottom end of the tail, and trim them more evenly. I hadn't trimmed yet in the following photo, but when I did, I cut it in staggered layers so they wouldn't all be precisely the same length. Cut two short lengths of cloth ribbon and ready your needle and thread.

 Wrap the ribbons loosely over the knotted end of your tail, and tack very securely into place. I sewed through the yarn wrapping the end and all the way through the tail. Okay, I didn't do a very pretty job, but it is very secure, and it will not be visible. These are so you will be able to put the tail on a belt.

Put a little tacky glue on the yarn wrapping the knotted end of the tail, and put the wide cloth ribbon around it. Make sure the seam is where you want the underside of your tail will be.Turn the cut end of the ribbon under before tacky gluing it down, and then stitch it in place. My ribbon was wider than I liked, so I actually turned the long edges of it under as well.

Your tail is ready to thread a belt through!

Kaia is as happy as can be with her new unicorn outfit, and I really like the way tying each colour individually keeps the colours in distinct bands. Honestly, I think I would still tie smaller bundles even if I were making it all one colour, just because of how much more securely attached the strands of yarn are this way.

We need to find a better belt for her, but tiny belts are hard to find! We have improvised for now. It doesn't come quite to the floor as she had asked, but I didn't want her, or anyone else, stepping on it and tripping her up, so I made it a bit shorter and she has yet to complain. ;)

She's been galloping around non-stop, and if I thought it was hard to get her to stand still for photos in her headband, it was next to impossible in the full getup!

Her tail has stood up to being brushed no problem, with not a single strand lost.

As always, I would love to know if you tackle this project, and especially if any part of the tutorial is not clear. In case you missed it, I linked up to the unicorn horn flower crown at the beginning of this post. They make a fun set!

(I am sharing this post at The Magic Onions and Frontier Dreams, two sites that give me happy warm fuzzies <3 )

27 January 2012

{this moment}

Joining Soulemama's {this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

26 January 2012

Make a Unicorn Horn Flower Crown

Because who should have to decide between a flower crown and a unicorn horn? Kaia really wanted to wear both for her Birthday, and this is what I ended up with. 

When she first told me she wanted to be a unicorn for her Birthday party, I started poking around the Web, trying to figure something out. I was really disappointed with what I found. I didn't want her to be encumbered by a big, hot, bulky costume for her indoor party. I wanted something she could don on her own when she wanted to play. I didn't want a modeling clay horn held on with an "invisible" elastic band. These just don't seem practical to me for a young child. I wanted a horn that would go on easily and comfortably, one that was lightweight, was not fragile, and would stay in place well on her head while she cantered around the house wildly, rearing and jumping. Because you know that is what is going to happen when you place a unicorn horn on a 4 year old. (Omygosh, she's almost four!) I think I actually achieved all of these standards I set myself, and I am really happy with how the whole thing came together, (and so is she!)

When I made the horn, I was thinking I would experiment a bit, start figuring things out. I didn't expect to be happy with the first thing I twiddled with, so I'm stuck without any pictures. I made a paper model in order to do this tutorial. Not the prettiest pictures, but hopefully they at least make the process easy to see.

You will need:
  • Craft Felt in Various Colours
  • Stuffing
  • Sewing Thread and Needle
  • Extra Strong Quilting Thread
  • Small Length of Elastic
  • Headband
  • Hot glue
  • Scissors
  • Plastic Gems
  • Fabric Leaves (Or Make Felt Leaves)
 I used sparkly white craft felt for her horn. Aside from the fact that it is, obviously, sparkly, the sparkle felt is quite a bit stiffer. Cut out a skinny triangle and fold it in half lengthwise, right sides together. Sew up the open long side, marked with sharpy in the following pictures. Leave the bottom open. (That triangle was supposed to be relatively symmetrical. The real thing was, I swear. Pretend that it is relatively symmetrical, okay? Thanks.)

Trim off excess fabric, and turn right-side-out. Using extra strong quilting thread, cut a long piece, (enough to wrap your spirals,) and knot off the end. Make it a good, big knot, you don't want it to pull through the felt once there is tension on it. Run the thread out near the tip of the horn from inside. (Not at the tip.) Pull it all the way through, so that knot is the only part left inside. Stuff the horn as tightly as you can, I used polyfill stuffing. Trim the bottom to even it out if necessary.

Begin wrapping the thread down the horn in a spiral, tightly enough to leave a good indent. This will give your horn a nice spiraled shape, and keep the thread from slipping and sliding around on the horn. (This was the part I was most unsure about. I worried that the fabric would bunch, or that the thread would not be strong enough to pull tightly, or that it would not stay in place. None of those fears came to light, it worked very well.) Tie your thread off inside, near the bottom of the horn. Place your horn on another piece of matching felt, trace the bottom circle, and cut it out. 

Starting from the inside, wrap stitches around the edges of your felt, sewing the circle to the bottom of the horn, and tie it off. Try to hide your knot inside, or at least away from the edge.

I attached it to a nice, wide, cloth-covered headband that we found at a dollar store. To do so, measure a piece of elastic around the center of the headband to get your length, then make it a bit smaller so that it will stretch snugly into place. Sew the elastic ends together to form a loop. Stitch the elastic to the bottom of the horn. Take care to sew the elastic all the way to the edges of the horn, or the base will pull up at the front and back. Also make sure that the seam holding the elastic together gets sewn to the horn, this way it will end up on top of the headband, instead of as an uncomfortable lump against your child's head.

Your unicorn horn is complete! Like magic, the paper horn suddenly transforms into a real one! Oh, wait... *ehem* Anyway, once on the headband, I added a little hot glue under the edges of the horn to help keep it from wobbling any. I think this would be remedied by using a wider elastic band than what I happened to have on hand, though.

 Hot glue the fabric leaves down either side of the headband, overlapping a little and alternating direction. Cut a variety of flowers out of the coloured felt. (Tip: Your husband may get slightly irritable if you attempt to do this in bed, stick to reading a book.) I honestly think layering has the biggest impact on how nice they come out looking. I used hot glue to fix the layers together. I've no idea how well hot glue works on wool felt, but it works amazingly on eco felt. I believe the heat actually fuses the layers together to an extent. For the large yellow flower, I simply cut a bunch of strips of felt, folded them in half, then tacked them all together by their ends with a little thread.

Hot glue the flowers all over the headband, then hot glue the plastic gems to the centers. Make sure to overlap the base of the horn a bit and cover up the elastic band. You are the proud new owner of a unicorn horn flower crown!

I had a very hard time keeping her still long enough to take any pictures...

Her rainbow unicorn tail is now complete, too, and I have a full blown unicorn galloping around the house all day. Find that tutorial here. By the way, it would be really easy to stick a couple ears in there amid the flowers. According to Kaia, however, she already has two ears and didn't want any more. (Don't look at me... she wears plenty of other animal ears, my logic does not often have much effect on her, however.)

23 January 2012

Handmade Holiday: Bookmarks, Magnets, and Shortbread

Almost a month after the fact, I am finally finishing putting up our holiday crafts. I know, so uncool, but "late" is a perpetual state of being for me, so I, for one, am not in the least bit surprised. This is the last one, I promise! And these are simple little random projects, so I will make it brief. Kaia made Papa and me bookmarks, (gosh, was I surprised when I unwrapped it! ;) ) I cut long rectangles out of stiff paper, and she punched a hole in the top of each, and drew on them. She wrote "Mama" and "Papa" on one side of each of ours, respectively, and drew a bunny on the opposite sides.

When she was finished, I "laminated" them with a strip of packaging tape on both sides, trimmed them to size, punched the hole back out, and Kaia threaded and tied a few strands of yarn at the top. She was really happy to make and wrap something for us.

 For my Brother-in-Law, who brews beer, we collected different bottle caps to make magnets with. We even got other people to save some for us. (let's just say... I wouldn't drink some of the beers these caps belonged to. ;) ) We included some local Michigan brews, which he lives away from now, and glued magnets in the backs to make a set. I ended up putting a good dollop of glue in each, letting that dry, then adding another to attach the magnets with so that they would be flush with the caps instead of inset. Without doing so, they would stick to the fridge, but were not strong enough to hold anything.

We also made vegan-style Scottish shortbread, mmm! We cut some into snowflake cookies, and I also tried my hand at using our large wooden shortbread mold. It was a lot harder to accomplish than I had bargained for! As a matter of fact, when I say, "tried my hand", there's more to it than that. I even ended up putting the thing on a stool, climbing on top of it with my knees, and putting all my weight on it to push the design into the dough. I took a hammer to the back of it. I surely must be going wrong somewhere, I'm pretty sure shortbread is not supposed to be forged, but I was unable to find any useful information on it. I completely forgot to take any pictures of the finished products, (sad time,) but here is one of Kaia helping make the dough, and our wooden shortbread mold.

That's all I am putting up for this year, I also made some mugs, and a few other random things, but I am beyond ready to move on here. Next: unicorns, rainbows, fairies, dragons and other fantastical things, yay!