Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Skylanders, a whole new language.

Last September Roux started school and came home talking about Skylanders. I don't have a clue and as we have no games console roundly ignored it all.

Skylanders chat continued. 

The adverts on tv started. 

"Can I have Skylanders for Christmas"

In January I gave in and bought an Xbox360 and the game (plus nearly 20 Skylanders!) in the sales and with it bore a new obsession in Chez KitschStitch. Roll on February and I'm now planning a Skylander party for a very excited nearly 5 year old. 

Just like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Party I threw for him last year, there was very little in the way of official merchandise that I could get in the UK (and I was unwilling to import from the US for megabucks) so I had little choice but to get crafting. 

The Skylander figures themselves are highly detailed so I've left them for now but do have some ideas. Instead I decided to choose the first bad guy you encounter in the game - Chompies. 

These wee critters arrive en masse frequently and are pretty easily killed, they also looked to be fairly simple and the easier to start with. So I gathered together a few supplies and decided to have a go. 

You will need:

• Polysterene balls (about 3" in diameter)
• Floristry wire or any other sturdy wire. I chose floristry wire as it's already green. 
• Green tissue paper 
• Green poster paint 
• Modelling clay (air dry) or fimo 
• White paper
• Red card
• PVA glue
• Black felt tip pen
• Masking tape

You will also need scissors, wire cutters, paint brush and a pot to mix the glue. 

First, take some modelling clay and divide into two equal parts. Roll these into balls approximately half an inch in diameter. 

Cut the floristry wire into 3 inch sections. 

Squash the balls into rectangular shapes and mould into feet, ensuring that you get them almost identical so they look like a pair. 

Push the wire into the bottom of the Polysterene and then into the feet. 

Repeat for the others. 

I've used quick drying modelling clay but you could have just as easily used coloured fimo. This will need to dry over night before painting but it was considerably cheaper than fimo and my shoestring budget meant I selected cost over my time. 

Next you need to make the eyes. In the Swapforce version of Skylanders, Chompies have large almost oval eyes so for this, I made a quick template of an elongated oval with a flat bottom that was about two thirds the height of the ball. 

As I like to recycle where I can I used the packaging for the Polysterene balls to make the eyes. 

For the eyeballs I drew around the template the drew a smaller shape inside of that and cut it out. The space at the bottoms indicates where the outer eye section will be folded and attached to the head. 

Using this smaller template I cut out the eyeballs from thin white paper (I used plain copier paper) and drew the pupil on with a black pen. 

Putting the eyeballs to one side (to be glued on after the head has been made green) I attached the outer eyes to the heads with a small strip of masking tape. 

To make the heads green I first attempted to paint them but it failed miserably as you can see in the photograph below. 

The left side of this shows the head after 3 coats of thick paint. You could still see the Polysterene and the brush strokes were visable. It just wasn't going to work. 

Instead, I decided to do something similar to papier mâché so made up a mix of PVA glue and water (60:40) and using tissue paper started covering the head. 

If you've never done this technique before it's really easy. First apply a thin layer of the glue and water mix to the Polysterene, then apply a couple of squares of tissue paper. Paint over the tissue paper with the glue mix and apply another layer and so on. Continue until the head is covered and there are enough layers to ensure you can see the Polysterene. 

Once you've covered the head, paint the now dry clay and add the eyeballs. 

Draw a mouth onto some white paper with a black pen. Cut it out and glue it onto some red thin paper. Cut that out and apply to the face with glue. 

Now make 5 more!

And done! Roux spotted them in the morning and declared them to be amazing Chompies so I'm very happy they are recogniseable. 

I hope you found this tutorial useful and if you do make any please share them with me. I'd love to see all your Skylander makes and could set up a gallery to show them off. 

Next up are bigger ones and a chompy pod. 

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Incy Wincy Spider

Hallowe'en has been rapidly approaching (in my mind) as I had lots of crafting things that I'd been pinning with a view to trying and I'd been giving a lot of thought to costumes...

Roux and Hurricane were simple, he was desperate to go as a Werewolf and Hurricane swung between a Princess (roll eyes) and a Princess.  She definitely wanted to be a Princess.  In the end I managed to talk her into being a Vampire Bride which is at least slightly scary.  I don't know if it's a British thing but when I look at Hallowe'en costumes from over the pond they seem to just be general fancy dress and anything goes but over here, in Britain we like our costumes to frighten so a Princess just would. Not. Do.

Those sorted I looked to mine and Elf's, he's recently been christened that moniker as he often resembles a very grumpy Elf when he's not getting his own way.  In other words if I'm not feeding him, gazing into his eyes, entertaining him or if I dare to commit the sin of actually putting him down I'm frowned at and quite often cried at.  Anyway, due to his dislike of being out of my arms I needed to be able to incorporate him into my outfit and me into his.  99% of the time he's either worn in a sling/Mai Tei/Close carrier/ring sling or in my arms so whatever I put him in wouldn't really be seen.  I started googling and scanning Pinterest but most of the (frankly amazing) outfits were for back carries, facing out or weren't scary.  We've already covered that it had to be a 'scary' outfit so dressing as a cute ladybird just wouldn't do.

I came across this image from the ergobaby blog a few times but couldn't find anything about it so I set about making my own.  It's not exactly scary but it's a spider and they're vaguely frightening aren't they?  I used to be terrified of them until I had mad moment and stuck a tarantula on my bonce and solved my fear in one foul swoop, sorry, I digress...  Unfortunately for me, the internet went down for quite a bit of the night I started making it and I couldn't get pinterest to load meaning that I had no image to reference to.  If I had my time again I'd have done quite a few things differently and when I eventually managed to see the photo (after I'd finished) I realised where I'd made a few mistakes and there is lots I'd do differently but that's what this blogs for - I've made the mistakes for you and I encourage you to make it again correctly.

Shopping list

  • Fake Fur (around half a metre will do with left over)
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Buttons for the eyes or black felt
  • Elastic or ribbon
  • String or thick cotton
  • Knitting needle, piece of dowel or just something long and thin to help with turning of the legs
  • Scissors, needle, thread, sticky tape

I'd wanted black fur but my carrier is grey so grey would be better.  
I took half a metre (it cost £3 from Boyes) and roughly measured from one edge of my Close Caboo to the other and used that as a guide for the width.  The sides are slightly curved with a straight edge at the top and a rounded bottom, I've shown this in the photo below.  I also cut 8 strips that were approximately 3 inches wide for the legs

Once you've cut out the body, flip it over and sew elastic or ribbon to the two top corners.  Elf didn't want me to make this costume and spent most of the evening grizzling so you can see I just grabbed the first cotton reel to hand (blue) and everything is sewn rather messily as a lot of it was one handed while nursing.

That done, you need to add eyes, I do think large black circles of felt would have been better but hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it.  I tried a combination of black and white buttons until I found something suitable and then centred them towards the top (again, knowing what I do now I wouldn't have put them so high up)

That's the main part of the body done, now attention turned to the legs.  These took the longest and I'll admit they are very awkward.  First, you need to sew each of the legs up one side so you create an inside out tube with the fur on the inside.  Doing it this way means that the stitches will be hidden.  An example of this is photographed below along with the pipe cleaners that I started twisting together to the length of the legs.  As you can see, Elf had deigned to lay down at this point but wanted to be a hindrance involved.   Also evident around the body you can see a proof of the other downside of using faux fur - it's all over the carpet and got all over my clothing too, there was quite a bit of cleaning up to do.

Turning was so difficult/time consuming I didn't really manage to get any images of me doing it.  It doesn't really matter though as it's pretty self explanatory, start turning it and just feed it through with your fingers, if you get a bit stuck then you might find a knitting needle will help.  If you don't have a knitting needle then a piece of dowelling or something else long, thin and not sharp will suffice.  

Once you've sewn and turned all the legs you'll need to twist the pipe cleaners to the right length and feed them through the legs.  I found that two strands made the legs just right, not too floppy and not too stiff.  The only problem is that it's they catch on the inside as you try and feed them through, I do have a solution though and it's not pretty but it works.  You need that sticky tape that's in the photo below.

Wrap the ends of the pipe cleaners around the top of the knitting needle/pointy thing and tape it down then just push it through the leg with ease then sew one end (the foot if you will) closed.

Evidence of my shabby oh-no-why-do-you-want-constant-nursing-when-i'm-trying-to-craft sewing is clear here.  Sew the open end of the legs to the body making sure you don't go all the way through the body so the stitches don't show on the front.  

Sew them to all four corners first then sew the remaining legs in between.

And the body is done!  I'm missing a picture here, it was getting very late so I'll pop back with one when I get chance to lay it out properly.

Now to the web, you need the string and a large area of floor to work in (at least the span of your arms)

Again, more hindsight notes - use thicker cotton/string than I did here and do more strands to the web.

Roughly measure the span of your arms and use that as a guide for the length of the spokes of the web.  Here I used two strands of cotton per spoke.  First make a cross and knot them together in the centre then lay more lengths the same size making more spokes always anchoring them with a knot in the middle.

Once you have the number of spokes desired knot a long piece of cotton the top of one spoke as pictured below and keep knotting to the top of every spoke.

Then start on the inner rings.  By this point Elf was very grumpy so I did one ring and gave up, I advise you to do many more.  I also attached small wrist loops.

And it's done!  I didn't have a mirror to hand so couldn't check the positioning before it was taken.  I'd just thrown it on in the hallway when we arrived so I need to get a better one quickly.

If you're here from Handmade Monday please say hello.

Monday, 26 August 2013

A very special Kitsch Stitch make

Hopefully you'll forgive the shortness of this blog post as my Handmade Monday project required quite a lot of work.

Peanut made his grand appearance at 41+1, on Thursday morning an hour after the midwife appeared. He was born in my childhood bedroom at my parents home and the labour was perfect. Just over an hour of contractions, no pain relief and totally relaxed. The midwives said it was a privilege to have been a part of it.

I'm absolutely smitten with him as are his big brother and sister. He's an eager beaver when it comes to feeding so for now, I have to concentrate on him and my other projects will have to be sidelined. 

When you've got this wee face to gaze at though it's hardly a sacrifice. 

Just because I can look at his two siblings, so in love with their new baby brother. 

Monday, 19 August 2013

Softplay and crochet lessons

Well I'd hoped that this Handmade Monday I'd be introducing you to a handmade baby but at 40+4, Peanut is still incredibly comfy and showing no sign of making an appearance.  Despite contractions that have been happening on and off since Tuesday it seems that I'll be pregnant for a few more days at least.  Never mind, I won't be pregnant forever and I'll miss my bump once it's gone.

So, in an effort to keep both myself and the children occupied I've been filling our days with all sorts of activities, one of those that I enjoy as I get to sit down and drink decaffeinated lattes and crochet is a lovely softplay.

Earlier in the week I'd gone through a few stitches with her and we'd tried the Lionbrand Gecko that I tend to use as a teaching tool so now we went to softplay armed with a magazine she'd bought, a hook and some yarn and she picked it up so quickly I was incredibly proud.  I can't really explain the feeling I get when I teach people how to crochet or do other crafts, I'm proud of myself for being able to pass this skill on and so happy when the person finally clicks.  I suppose I get a bit of a big head really but crochet and crafting is such a big part of my life and gives me so much pleasure that knowing I've passed that onto someone else is a wonderful feeling.

Anyway, it didn't take long for her to click with the pattern and after we'd done the first square together.  The pattern is from this weeks months Simply Crochet which has some adorable patterns in it this month, it's the first time I've bought it but I'm definitely going to look at it again next month.

She'd purchased some lovely pink chunky yarn and fancied making this Sherbet Dip blanket by Nikki Trench who is a favourite designer of mine.  It's a really simple pattern that's incredibly similar to a granny square so it didn't take long for us to both finish our first squares.  

Although at first, it was a bit problematic as it's the first proper pattern she's followed so she needed a snazzy chart to help her count the stitches.  As you can see, drawing charts isn't my forte.

Mine and hers.  There is a little difference in size but her tension is very good. This was the only square I did, the rest is all her own work.

She tagged me in this picture on facebook yesterday to show her progress and I'm amazed.  She's absolutely addicted and I can't believe how many she's made in such a short space of time.  Would you believe this blanket is for Lily, her spaniel pup!  All of this effort and she's giving the blanket to a dog.  I've also introduced her to Ravelry and the amount of patterns she's liked means that she's now going to be busy every night for the next 20 years!

As a 'well done' gift I bought her some wool needles (I've always called them bodkins, does anyone else?) and some wool pins.  I'd mentioned that she'd need probably need some and she looked at me blankly so I thought I'd get her the ones that I tend to use by Pony. 

Earlier this week, she'd seen a Minion Hat I'd been making and said how much she loved the colour combination of bright yellow and blue, I couldn't give her the needles and pins (Oh, there goes an earworm!) without something to store them in so I whipped up a quick needle case.  

I had some scraps of this fabric and I thought it contrast well with some bright blue cotton.

 I replicated the flower and swirl as best I could, added some bobble edging and a felt inner et voila!  It was so easy I almost feel silly writing a pattern for it but I need to practice putting patterns on Ravelry so I think I might have a go with this one.  It certainly would have been a good starter project for Laura to have a go on as it's just rows and rows of double crochet then a circle.  If the baby doesn't make an arrival I'll definitely write up the pattern and put it here and on Ravelry.  

At the moment I'm finishing up an evil minion hat then I hope to have patterns and photo tutorials for that too.

If you're popping over here from Handmade Monday do say hello.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Sibling Bags

We've had a really hectic week since my last blog post, I've had my birthing box delivered so I've got to get some towels and a shower curtain ready for the homebirth.  It made me realise that I'm 36 weeks (37 tomorrow!) and that this baby could be fairly imminent and I have absolutely NOTHING ready.  

All the nappies have been washed and clothes sorted into bags of newborn, 0-3 etc but none of it has been put together in a nice easy kit to get me over the first few days and I don't have a hospital bag packed just in case I need to transfer and all of that jazz so I'm starting Op BabyPrep and planning to be ready by the end of this week.  

Before that though, I had a party to plan, my wonderful Dad turned 70 this Saturday and it's tradition that we get a bouncy castle for him.  In years gone by he's always been the first one on it and the last one off but unfortunately his illness has put paid to that now.  Instead we had all my siblings and their children and put on an easy buffet.  The weather was much cooler so it was a lovely day and we had 7 very happy children that somehow managed to go until midnight!

Plus it's now the Summer holidays so I've had my two plus my niece and nephew to entertain but that is for another blog post.

So, as part of Op Babyprep I started on the Big Sibling kits for Roux and Hurricane and another one for Peanut.  My two are aware of the bag for the baby and thankfully can't read so don't know whether it says Little Brother or Little Sister but have had great fun choosing outfits and a toy each for it.

I got the idea to do something like this some time ago as I wanted to give the children presents when the baby arrived and was pootling about in my brain trying to decide what exactly I should do when I thought of using paper bags I already have left over from party bags so I typed Big Brother in Pinterest and saw some interesting results.  

So, I decided to go for a tote bag, the idea being that I can fill it with cheap toys (Poundshop, The Works, Yorkshire Trading Co etc) that will include a colouring book, a toy that they'll like (Trash Pack for Roux, Polly Pocket for Hurricane), a photo frame each so they can have a picture of them and the new baby in their room, a t shirt, card and possibly a disposable camera for Roux.  The plan is that I'm going to buy extra tat that I can keep in reserve so when the baby hits a feeding frenzy for a few days the bags can reappear with a new present in to keep them occupied whilst I'm doing nothing other than feed feed feed drink tea feed feed feed.  

Hobbycraft provided me with some cheap fabric paints and the tote bags and I got doodling.  

Then I measured how big I needed the image, thankfully it was the size of A4 paper so I doodled about on a pad until I had the designs I wanted (I'll update this after the baby is born to show their bag)

Note the error!  I'm so used to Hurricane being a 'little' sister that I automatically did her design saying that, thankfully I realised just before I started painting as I'd already done the babies meaning I'd have ended up with two 'littles' one of which might have been wrong.  

I then tried the old fashioned method of tracing, then marking the reverse with carbon and then trying to press it onto the bag and it didn't work.  Pregnancy must be getting to me as I thought it was a fail and was preparing to go freehand when all of a sudden it hit me that I could slide the pad into the bag.  
What a doofus!

I then traced through the bag so I could dispense with the pad and make sure that the writing was exactly where I wanted it.  

Slide a bit of cardboard in the bag so the paint doesn't seep through to the reverse side then let then painting commence.  This is pretty easy to work with but I would recommend a few coats.

It looked a tad plain when finished, I don't do plain...

Take some Modge Podge (wonderful stuff) and some buttons...

Et voila.

As I had the fabric paints out (and had treated myself to some dylon fabric pens too) I decided to go for t shirts too.  Due to school uniform being all over the shops it was really easy to get a pack of two plain cotton t shirts for just £2.  Roux and Hurricane are different sizes but just for this occasion I'm sure that Roux can squeeze into a smaller t shirt (penny pinching Mother) and I already had some plain white vests for the baby.

I wanted to keep the designs very similar so using the scientific method of folding paper until it was the right size I then doodled the same image slightly smaller.  

I think I rate the paint over the pens as although it took longer with the paints you get a much crisper effect.  The pens bled more than I'd have liked on the cotton of the t shirt and I couldn't get a nice clean edge.  Also, it was harder to do the dots, spots and stripes.  I'll keep the pens for quick jobs or just to put names in clothes and continue with the paints.  

It was wonderful sitting in the garden this afternoon finishing these off, thankfully the children still can't read so didn't have a clue what I was doing (and the older cousins are sworn to secrecy).  While I was playing with these sat on the warm grass the 4 children were painting their own bags as homework totes for when they return to school.  Tomorrow the plan is to add monsters, flowers and butterflies out of felt to them.

I'm linking up to Handmade Harbour again this Monday and can't wait to see the lovely things on offer there.