Thursday, October 30, 2014

DIY Halloween Costumes - Rainbow and Thomas Train

Posted by Nupur

There are dozens of adorable costumes lining store shelves at this time of year- from cute kittens to scary vampires. And about a million Elsas this year. But there is something charming about a homemade costume put together imperfectly but with love and a bit of imagination.

Lila is three years old and this is probably the first time she's understanding a bit about Halloween and dressing up in costumes is all about. In the last week or two, she has been coming up to me with costume ideas that are fanciful to say the least.

First off, she wanted to be a guinea pig princess. Then she wanted to be a bat pumpkin. Finally, she wanted to be a mad orca. I don't think I have the faintest clue of how to make my toddler look like a belligerent killer whale, so I looked at a pretty multi-colored skirt that she recently got as a gift from her grandma and said, how about you dress up as a rainbow? I wanted a costume that was easy to wear and fun to look at.

So we started off with this sparkly rainbow skirt. At a consignment sale, I found a rainbow striped sweater. This was good, because the costume would be worn all day at preschool, including on the playground where the kids need to be dressed warm. I looked for rainbow striped tights, but found multi-colored tie dye ones instead and figured they would do.

With all the components in place, I wanted to add a little something- a mini science lesson maybe! Rainbows form when sunlight refracts and reflects in rainwater droplets. So maybe I'd put a sun and clouds and rain on the shirt.

I cut the sun out from soft yellow/orange craft felt and sewed it on with a simple running stitch.

For a whimsical representation of raindrops, I cut out tear-drop shapes from stiff blue felt and sewed them onto 3 pieces of blue rick-rack with matching thread.

For the cloud I drew a double layer of a cloud shape from batting remnants. Sewed 1/4 inch around the shape leaving an opening in the bottom. Then I clipped the edges and turned the cloud inside out. Stuffed the shape with some fiber-fill. Tucked the ends of the rick rack raindrops into the underside of the cloud, then sewed it shut.

Finally I sewed the completed cloud onto the sweater with blanket stitch. The rainbow costume is ready to go!

Posted by Kashmira

My little fella Viv has never really worn a costume before (other than trying on a tutu I'd made for a friend's daughter and twirling about in it at 15 months of age!). He's never experienced a Halloween celebration earlier either, so unlike his (slightly) older but (much) wiser cousin Lila, there was little point in asking him for dress up ideas. 

As I walked about the house trying to come up with a suitable costume, I realised it was a no-brainer really coz everywhere I go there's a triangle-eyebrowed Really Useful Thomas the tank engine staring at me. A Thomas tent in the play corner, a Thomas book on the shelf, plastic Thomas bowls in the kitchen, a Thomas towel hanging on the peg, Thomas toothpaste on the bathroom counter, a Thomas outfit in the closet (oh and Thomas underwear!) and Thomas shoes on the rack. Phew! Wait, what? No Thomas socks or hat? How have we managed to not be suckered into getting those things too by the merchandising gurus? The other day he noticed that he had his Thomas outfit on (yes, outside and inside) plus his Thomas shoes and drawing a lesson on excess from The Hungry Caterpillar said, "If you wear too much Thomas, you get a stomachache!". Judging by the Thomas explosion in our home, that theory is quickly disproved.

Anyway, I looked around on the internet and there were tons of tutorials on making Thomas trains from cartons, some of them very detailed too. I decided to simplify it as much as I could. Good thing I procrastinate so much about taking recycling to the bin because I had plenty of cardboard boxes to pick from! 

I started with a slightly longish rectangular one in which he'd stand and cut off the top and bottom flaps. I didn't find any paper that was the blue shade of Thomas, but luckily found a shower curtain that color at a dollar store and used it to cover the box. Similarly another flat long box that would go at the back.

Then I joined them together using red duct tape.

As luck would have it, I had a round, black restaurant doggy bag box that would be perfect for Thomas's raised face. I drew those triangle-eyebrows and the rest of his features on grey paper with a black marker and stuck it on, with a layer of plastic covering it to prevent tearing.

Then I added details like the yellow number '1' and wheels plus ribbons from the sides to go over Viv's shoulders. Oh how excited he was when he finally saw it, choo-choo-ing around the house in a mad frenzy. 

Yes, he's also been practicing for trick or treating by shouting at the top of his lungs 'prick or treat'! I don't know how much Viv understands about Halloween, but I do know this - he's wearing his beloved Thomas and the boy's going loco!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Blogger's Quilt Festival - Seabed Blankie Quilt

Posted by Kashmira

Welcome, dear reader, looks like we've reeled you in today to visit our crafty little blog! This Monday we wrote about our very first entry of A Rainy Day quilt at the Blogger's Quilt Festival. We're really excited about participating and showcasing our work alongside some tremendously talented quilters..and so we'd like to take this opportunity to enter our second project - the Seabed Blankie quilt - in the Applique Quilts category!

Before moving to Minneapolis earlier this year, I used to design, make and sell fabric products and accessories in Bangalore, India under the brand Kala Koyree. This quilt was one of the products I designed for our Kids category. 

Over time, as my fabric stash grew and starting overflowing out of it's storage space, one day I sat down to re-organize it all and grouped all the fabric according to color. That's when I could 'sea' all those lovely solids in the most fantastic shades of blue stacked together and knew I just had to make an ocean-themed quilt. All the blue background blocks in the quilt are Indian weaves called Mangalgiri cottons. Mangalgiri is a town in southern India known for its handloom fabrics, characterized by pure durable cotton. I always seemed to gravitate towards these fabrics because of their distinctive designs (some weaves have typical narrow stripes - see the seahorse applique below)  and vibrant colors.

I decided to keep the composition very simple 'on porpoise'. Just 6 different shades of blue in 2 rows, each housing a popular sea creature. For the fabric sea creature appliques I decided to use the traditional, famous block-printed cottons from Gujarat (a state in western India) which I absolutely adore. These fabrics are typically used as dress material, but I used them in my products all the time.

I started off by drawing outlines of these sea creatures and cutting them out of fabrics that would contrast well with the blue background. Each applique features a unique color and block print meant to represent the unparalleled hues of ocean residents. 

I appliqued the creatures to the background using a zigzag machine stitch and deliberately used white thread (as opposed to a coordinating color) so that the applique would really pop up against the dark background.

Now for the eyes - I had a piece of white fabric with black polka dot print and the size of the dots seemed perfect for the little creatures, so I make appropriate fussy cuts to make the eyes and it looks quite cute, don't you think? (It is obvious I'm 'fishing' for compliments here? :))

Once the individual blocks were done, I decided to make the seabed using a wide strip at the bottom of a cotton fabric with wavy prints which went quite nicely with the theme. I used grey fabric to make a couple of rocks and starfish. And here's a fun block print I found in my stash - a paisley print surrounded by a spiny outline, just like some real starfish!

I used a blue polka dotted fabric for backing, reminiscent of the bubbly, foamy sea.

And that's our Seabed Blankie Quilt for today which will hopefully help to float away in a sea of dreams! 

If this quilt has got you hook, line and sinker, then please take a moment and nominate us here. Voting begins on November 1 2014.

Quilt Name: Seabed Blankie 
Pattern: Original
Finished Size: 42" * 34"

Monday, October 27, 2014

Blogger's Quilt Festival - A Rainy Day Quilt

Posted by Kashmira

We're very excited to enter the Blogger's Quilt Festival for the very first time! This one of a kind quilt will go into the original design quilts category

Our entry - A Rainy Day Quilt - was inspired by the Indian monsoon season: the deliciously wet green grass, fat raindrops, little wild flowers popping up after the parched summer days, the sound of croaking frogs and streets dotted with colorful umbrellas.

It all started with the quirky little block-printed umbrella fabric (that I used for the border to frame up the quilt) that gave the idea for a rainy day snapshot. I simply adore doing appliques - it allows for such freedom and artistic license in terms of composing a freestyle picture. I designed the quilt top with a few elements in mind:

The umbrella: This was going to be front center, the focal point inspired by the umbrella print fabric.

The raindrops: I decided to use up fabric scraps from 5 or 6 different shades/ prints of lovely blue fabric to create a pretty pitter-patter-raindrop collection. 

The bird and frog: Now, this was the funnest part of all. At the time that I made this quilt (late 2012), my son was a few months old and I knew it wasn't long before he would start to crawl around. That's how I decided to design this quilt as a play blanket where he could have a good time sticking and un-sticking two cute friends to the quilt. First I drew patterns of a frog and bird on a piece of paper and cut out those shapes out of fabric twice (for front and back). Then with a piece of batting sandwiched in between I sewed them together and added details like the wing and buttons for eyes. I added further detail to the frog by giving him a smile and outlining the shapes of his front legs using a zigzag stitch. Lastly, I sewed on a piece of velcro to the back of the frog and bird.

The opposite velcro pieces I sewed on the top of the umbrella and in the grass, so that the little birdie could be perched on the umbrella and the froggy could merrily croak among flowers!

All the fabric shapes have been appliqued to the quilt top using a zigzag machine stitch. Needless to say, I had a lot of fun creating the quilt and my son really enjoyed playing with the frog and bird (not to mention the bursts of giggles that the rippy sounds of velcro produced!)

If this Rainy Day quilt has managed to delight you, please take a minute and give us a vote right here! Voting starts on November 1. 

Quilt Name: A Rainy Day
Pattern: Original
Finished Size: 55" x 40"

Meanwhile, we're off to gawk at the stunning creations of other quilters at the quilt festival. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Very Happy Diwali Bunting!

Posted by Kashmira

Diwali is one of the most bright and colorful festivals in India. The very thought of Diwali brings to mind a row of oil-lit clay diyas (lights) and the quintessential rangolis (patterns made on the floor with colored sand). Of course, what would Diwali be without the 'kandils' or paper lanterns! In fact, kandil shopping is an endeavor in itself, an outing to the marketplace to be enjoyed by the whole family - with rows upon rows of multihued, tinseled, shiny kandils on proud display at local shops. (Yes, even 'themed' kandils, drawing from that year's blockbuster!) And that's how all the houses on the street and balconies of apartments are dotted with paper lanterns for everyone to see and admire.
However, crafty family that we are - no kandil shopping for us, mind. Every Diwali since I can remember has involved a trip to a nearby stationery store for us kids to gather supplies of kite paper, gelatin paper, gold paper etc to make the paper lantern with a little help from my incredibly creative parents.
This Diwali I decided to forgo the big kandil and make a pop of colorful little ones to string up at our front entrance. No trips to the stationery store required either - I've stocked up on some wonderful, wonderful card paper from Joanns, and that is what I used.
I started by drawing a simple but very traditional kandil shape on a piece of paper and then tracing the outline on one of the card papers.
Then I cut a rectangle from contrasting paper and made long cuts about a 1/4" from the top to create the tassels.
Next I cut out a design pattern again from contrasting yellow paper to decorate the lantern top. After I stuck the tassels to the bottom back edge of the top shape, my first kandil was all done!
Similarly I went on to make a couple more.....
.... and then a few others!
Then I stapled them onto a length of ribbon, and here is the colorful bunting hanging on our front door, giving our visitors a warm and bright Diwali welcome!
Have you made anything this festive season? Here's wishing you all a great Diwali, full of love and light!

Monday, October 20, 2014

3D Fabric Applique - Part 3 (Stuffed Cupcake)

Posted by Kashmira

Welcome to part 3 of our 3D applique series in which we bring to you three different techniques to sew textured cupcakes. These applique methods can easily be adapted to any other motif you like!

As part 1 of this series we made a 3D applique using ruffles technique. If you haven't seen that post, here it is.

As part 2 of this series we made a 3D applique using scallops. If you'd like to check it out, here it is.

So on with today's cupcake. We will be making a cupcake stuffed with polyfill for our second 3D applique method.

Here's what I used:
1) A piece of burgundy cotton fabric 5" * 5" (for the cupcake)
2) A piece of pink cotton fabric 3" * 3" (for the frosting)
3) A piece of brown cotton fabric 3.5" * 3.5" (for cupcake liner)
4) A piece of off-white cotton fabric 8" * 8" as applique background
5) A pink button
6) A quarter handful polyfill

Step 1: I started off by cutting a sort of semicircle shape within the 5" * 5" piece of fabric. I didn't measure or anything, just winged it coz hey - the cupcake just got baked that way!
Step 2: Then I threaded a needle, knotted the end of the thread and hand basted around the curved edge of the shape about 1/4" from the outside.
Step 3: Next I pulled on the basted thread gently so that the semicircle shape 'cupped' a bit. Then I evened out the gathers all around the curve.
 Step 4: Once I was satisfied with the cup shape, I made a knot at the back of the fabric so that the cup shape would stay put and it wouldn't flatten again.
 Step 5: Time to get on with the applique! I cut a cupcake liner shape by folding the brown fabric in half and making a slanting cut on the non-folded side. I then appliqued it onto the background fabric by using zigzag stitch.
Step 6: Next I took a blob of polyfill and positioned it over the cupcake.
Step 7: I then carefully placed the cupcake fabric over it and folded the edges under. The basting stitch helps while doing this and also gets hidden under. I  made sure all the polyfill was properly tucked in and pinned it all around.
Step 8: I sewed around the pinned edges with a straight stitch. Our stuffed cupcake is starting to take shape!
Step 9: Now for the frosting, I cut a semicircle from the pink fabric and followed steps 6 and 7 to get it ready for sewing.
 Step 10: Again I went around it with a straight stitch. As you can see it's not an exact semicircle shape, but I don't really think it has to be for this project!
Step 11: Lastly, I put the cherry on top by sewing the button on. Then I inserted a clean toothpick to check if the cupcake is done.. just KIDDING! We're done.

My two year is always very interested in the stuff I make. He saw the first applique and said 'You made a cupcake, mamma!' He saw the second applique and said 'Oh you made another cupcake, mamma!' Then he saw this third stuffed cupcake and without a word put it in his mouth! No marks for guessing which cupcake the kiddo liked the most :)

So finally here is our delectable cupcake platter.

 And with that we conclude our 3 part 3D applique series. I do hope you've enjoyed it and if you do try it out we'd love to see it!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fabric Greeting Cards

The minute you start sewing or quilting, you start collecting little bits of leftover fabrics from various projects- fabric scraps that are just too pretty and precious to throw out. This week, I used some of my tiniest, most colorful fabric scraps to make some greeting cards. I enjoyed it so much that I then led a small card-making workshop for some of my quilter friends. There's nothing to it- just channel your inner preschooler and get busy.

You need some blank note cards or greeting cards or card stock. Gather up fabric scraps (sorting them into different containers by color families- blue/green, red/yellow/orange, neutrals/black/white is helpful), basic crafting supplies (glue stick or white glue, scissors, pinking shears are nice, markers). I also got some stamps and stamp pads to add messages to the greeting cards.

I found many ideas for these cards on various websites and blogs (credited in the captions), and others I made up as I went along. As you can see, we made Christmas cards and birthday cards and some general ones.

Bunting, Single tree, Christmas trees, reindeer
I used Peel and Stick fusible to make this one.
Candles, gifts, flowers, leaves
Cards made by my friends at our little make and take party
Card making is rather addictive and I think I will be making many more!

I'm adding this project to the Under 10$, Under 1 hour Party over at 320 Sycamore. The actual cost was nothing, because I used crafting supplies that I had on hand and fabric scraps that were extras from other projects. And you can make a dozen cards in an hour once you get started!

Monday, October 13, 2014

3D Fabric Applique - Part 2 (Scallops Cupcake)

Posted by Kashmira

Welcome to part 2 of our 3D applique series in which we bring to you three different techniques to sew textured cupcakes. These applique methods can easily be adapted to any other motif you like!

As part 1 of this series we made a 3D applique using ruffles technique. If you haven't seen that post, here it is.

So on with today's cupcake. We will be using the scallops technique for our second 3D applique method.

Here's what I used:
1) Two pieces of burgundy cotton fabric 5" * 3" (for the bottom tier)
2) Two pieces of red printed cotton fabric 3.5" * 3" (for the middle tier)
3) Two piece of pink cotton fabric 2.5" * 3" (for the top tier)
4) A piece of brown cotton fabric 3.5" * 3.5" (for cupcake liner)
5) A piece of off-white cotton fabric 8" * 8" as applique background
6) A pink button
7) Old newspaper/ junk mail for cutting pattern

Step 1A: On a piece of old newspaper I drew a rectangle 3.5" * 1.5". Within that rectangle I drew 3 scallops and cut the shape out to get the bottom tier. I did the same to get the middle and top tiers from rectangles 2.5" * 1.5" and 1.25" * 1.5" respectively.

Step 1B: Then I just rounded the corners of each tier so that the final cupcake shape would look softer.

Step 2: Then I put the pink (top tier) fabric pieces right side together and drew the pattern outline in the center of the fabric.

Similarly, I put the middle tier fabric pieces right sides together, centered the middle tier pattern and drew the outline. Ditto for the bottom tier.

Step 3: Pin each tier fabrics together and sew on the outline drawn. Sew as carefully as possible on each curve and use a smaller stitch length to ensure small bites of fabric. This helps in getting smoother curves. IMP: Leave the top gap completely open on each tier.
Step 4: Make notches and cuts along the scallop curves. Nice, rounded curves totally depends on this step, so it's ok to spend time doing this carefully.
Step 5: Turn each scallop tier inside out, fold the open raw edges inside towards each other and give it a good press. Ta-da! Scrumptious scallops done!
Step 6: Cut a cupcake liner shape by folding your fabric in half and cutting a slanting edge on one side.
Step 7: Position the cupcake liner to background fabric and applique in place using zigzag stitch.

Step 8: Time to assemble the cupcake! I positioned the bottom tier over the top edge of cupcake liner. Remember the open edges of the tier that we turned towards each other and pressed in step 5? As we sew on this folded edge (using straight stitch), we achieve two things at the same time: the tier gets attached to the background fabric and the open gap also gets closed.
Step 9: Similarly position the middle tier in the center of the bottom tier and sew in place.

Step 10: Lastly, position and sew the top tier on the middle tier and finish by putting a cherry on top by sewing the pink button on.

Voila! Our scallop cupcake is fresh off the machine! See you next week for our final 3D applique cupcake. Hope you're enjoying it so far!