Monday, April 20, 2015

Upcycled T-shirt Part 1: A Superhero Cape

So here goes - another upcycling project! Last Friday was Superhero Day at my toddler's preschool. Now mine is a boy that refuses to wear anything other than t-shirts and pants, no, not even button down shirts. Hence, wearing an entire superhero costume was totally out of the question. (Yes, last year he did wear a Thomas train halloween costume, but hey - anything for a bucketload of candy!). Which is why all he got was a 15 minute Superhero Cape made from an old Tshirt of mine!

You will need:

1) An adult t-shirt that has seen better days
2) Two lengths of about 7" ribbon
3) Bits of felt to create superhero logo
4) Images of superhero-y symbols (If you don't know what I mean, see below!)

Here's what you do: (I apologize in advance for the really really wrinkly pictures!)

Step 1: Lay your old t-shirt flat on work surface

Step 2: Cut out the sleeves. Then cut off the shoulder seams and use either the front or back for next steps.

Step 3: Cut a straight line from one each bottom end to the top shoulder seam to eliminate armhole curvature.

Step 4: Fold in the neck binding and sew across it, if you need to. I did because it had gotten really shapeless.

Step 5: Sew one piece of ribbon onto a shoulder seam each. Right here, take a moment to rejoice because the existing t-shirt hem eliminates the need for you to hem the bottom edge!

At this point you're done, but not quite. Now, there are rules to be followed to be a successful caped crusader. Other than a pair of underwear worn on the outside of their pants, every superhero must have an iconic symbol, his or her own calling card. Something powerful, that strikes fear, like an animal whose prowess they identify with, or the first letter in their name and so on. You get the idea. So I 'Marvel'd at some images and got jolted by an idea that struck hard - a lightning bolt would be perfect as a symbol. I had a blast designing that!

And here's my Vidyutman to the rescue! (Vidyut = lightning in sanskrit and V is also the first letter of my son's name. As you can see, I put in more time and effort coming up with a name and logo than actually making the cape. I could totally see myself channeling my inner Edna Mode from The Incredibles! Gosh, what a fun job.)

But of course, after rushing to rescues and working hard to save the day, even a caped crusader is entitled to curl up exhausted on the nearest couch! (Added bonus: the cape can double up as your blanket.)

Tearing up old t-shirts didn't end here however, as the weekend dropped another upcycling project in my lap. I look forward to telling you all about it next Monday!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Talking Hands: Cardboard Box Hand Puppets!

Posted by Kashmira

There's a group of parents at our apartment complex that likes to get together with a planned activity for the kids to do as a bunch. Usually one of the grownups decides and takes the lead on their chosen activity. 

For instance, last summer one set of parents did a planting session - they got saplings, soil and pots and taught the kids how to plant, water and so on. Then another time one mom arranged a baking afternoon wherein kids rolled out pre-made cookie dough, cutting out cute shapes and once they were baked, had a gala time decorating them with frosting and sprinkles etc. These indoor activities usually happen in the apartment community hall, which is also equipped with a small movie theater. No prizes for guessing one mom also did a movie evening with the kids, complete with Ice Age, popcorn and ice cream!

I was looking forward to doing something with the kiddos. (Something crafty of course, no doubts there!). I spent some time researching a good craft, in other words - 

1) That which would hold their attention and they could have some fun with. 
2) That which could be made with things readily available at home

I borrowed 'crafting with kids' themed books from the library but nothing really enamored me. Then I remembered these hand puppets made from cardboard boxes that I'd seen on the internet sometime but which I could not find when I recently tried looking. 

So first you take a small cardboard box (around 6" * 6" works quite well) and cover it with paper. Then with a tool like an xacto knife you slice in the middle on three sides of the box, so that it can bend and you can put your hands in the back to move the puppet. (In my first clown sample, I cut the box first and then covered it, but other way around is better.)

From here on it's a free for all - totally depending on what character you want to make your box. All you need are materials like construction paper, markers, felt paper, ribbons, buttons, yarn and what have you. I got all my clown parts ready first - the eyes, mouth, hat, bow etc. Then I first glued the mouth on first, since that's the starting reference point. Then went the rest of the parts. I used a glue gun to make the yarny hair stick.
Once the hat went on, my puppet was ready! I also made a very basic, no frills puppet theater so the kids could rock out.
Ten enthusiastic kids and their gung-ho moms showed up to 'make a new friend'! There was no dearth of fun, laughter, glue or creativity. At the end of an hour and a half we had a fierce lion, a stripy tiger, an adorable-but-trying-to-be-scary monster, a girl robot, the quintessential superheroes Spidy and Ninjas (2!) and the most glamorous nurse you ever saw!

Best of all, each kid took a turn at the puppet theater putting up a little show with the puppet they made and proudly held up their creations for this pic!

This was a fun evening indeed and I'm going to try and do some other crafty thing again with the kids. Of course, I will let you know all about it right here, so stay tuned :)

Monday, April 6, 2015

T-shirt Applique: Aviary Tweet Birthday Gift!

Posted by Kashmira

Last month was my husband's birthday. I knew exactly what I wanted to gift him - a store bought plain t-shirt with a home made applique on it!

I spent a lot of time wondering what graphic I should do on his t-shirt. Then I remembered how that morning we'd seen birds of a feather flocked together on a newly washed car. No, just kidding. What I actually remembered was a few days ago, after looking at some cardinals on the trees outside my husband and son played a game while pretending to be daddy and baby cardinals. That's when the idea just flew into my mind - a cozy bird family!

In my excitement to get started I almost decided to wing it and just directly cut the shapes out of fabric. But yes, that would have been a bird-brained idea. Plus it would require real talon-t. So I created these pattern outlines on paper first.

Then I took my fabric and some Pellon Wonder-Under which is a fusible web. You iron it on the wrong side of fabric, cut the required shape, pull out the paper layer from the web and iron the applique on your main fabric. The fusible web gives your applique a bit of stiffness and prevents the fabric from bunching up while sewing.

Then I cut a couple of leaves from that fabric and appliqued them at the end of a twig I'd done using a zigzag stitch.

 Next I followed the same fusible web process to cut the bird shapes out of some funky and bold fabric. After cutting the first adult bird from fabric, I flipped the pattern piece over to get the other one facing the opposite way so that the two birds can look dotingly at their young 'un :)

I'm proud as a peacock to report that the birthday boy crowed in delight when he saw his gift :). As toucan see, it may not be migratest achievement, but it didn't turn out bad at all! This is aviary easy, fun and quick way to make a personalized gift. But you know what they say - talk is cheep! So I'm going to let you go and try it for yourself. Owl the best!