Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Angry Birds Extravaganza

Well, the Angry Birds game hit our home with a bang in 2012, and when Rovio released Angry Birds Space, my son Will thought all his Christmases had come at once.

His good friend had all the original Angry Birds plush toys, and Will had also collected a few. But with the new emphasis on Angry Birds Space, I thought it would be fun to see how hard it would be to make our own plush toy. Long story short: it wasn't hard at all. Here's the proof:

So I started by heading off to Spotlight to gather all the felt we needed, and collecting up some stuffing that I already had at home, as well as getting out the trusty sewing machine. I have to say though, this would be just as easy to do without a machine. This project took about 2-3 hours but would get easier after the first time. I'm just not used to working with little pieces of felt.

Since the blue bird in Angry Birds Space is a cube, I thought he was the easiest character to start with, so I cut out 6 squares of blue felt - all roughly the same size.

That's when the iPad came in handy. We just used Google Images to find a close up of the real plush and cut out out our orange, black and white felt to match.

It didn't take long to approximate the blue bird's expression. In fact it was probably the easiest part of the project.

I used the machine to sew two triangles together for the beak, then turned it `inside out so the stitching was on the inside. See below:

With the eyes. I started using the machine to secure the white felt to the black, but it just ended up being easier to hand stitch - you can see below how wonky my machine stitch ended up on such a tight turning circle. I ended up leaving the final dots (for the pupils) till a bit later in the project.

I don't have a photo of this stage, but I stitched the eyes to the blue square of felt, then stitched the beak ons so it was just overlying the eyes. This replicated the look of the bird and also added further security to the stitching of the eyes. The orange eyebrows went on last.

Meanwhile, I started pinning the other pieces of blue fabric together, like so ...

 ... and then stitched the face on right side in.

The hardest part of the project was figuring out which parts of the cube to stitch together when ... and where. I secured the head feathers to one piece of blue felt, then stitched it on to the wrong side of the bird, making it look like - ahem! - a certain part of male anatomy (or is that just me!). But it was very quick to unpick!

Here you can see it's going on now in the right spot.

You can see some evidence of the red fabric marker i used as a template for the head feathers, but it rubbed right off after this.

Next I continued to stitch the cube together - it was hardest at the corners where I had to gather the seam allowances for each side of the cube without leaving a hole (it's hard to describe this, but trust me - its the most painful part of this relatively painless project!).

Here is the little guy almost finished - his other pupil needs to be hand-stitched on, but here I just stuck a bit of stuffing in to see how he was looking.

Finally, I just hand stitched the last part of the cube closed. This shot is the only evidence that I incuded tail feathers, and even had the forethought to leave the hand stitching for the least visible area. Miracles do happen!

And time for the reveal! This is Will with his original (and shop-bought) Angry Birds, as well as our little hand-made creation in the front.

And one more parting shot:

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sharpie Shirt Experiment

Well, with the school holidays finally at a close, I thought I'd share some of the fun we had with a Sharpie product I found at my local Big W store earlier this month.

For Book Week this year the kids were asked to come as someone they thought of as a "Champion. I have to tell you, there were a LOT of Olympians! However, my son decided to go as Steve Backshall, a wildlife presenter on the UK program Deadly 60. We dressed him in camoflauge pants and a grey shirt and he looked just like ... some kid wearing camouflage pants and a grey shirt! BIG COSTUME FAIL!

So I went looking for fabric paint so I could whip up a Deadly 60 logo for the shirt.
I was in a hurry, it had to be done overnight, and of course I couldn't find fabric paint unless I went to a specialist craft store (I was in a shopping centre). So when I found a pack of fabric markers by Sharpie, I had nothing to lose and thought I'd give them a go.

I ended up just using the black marker since I had limited time. For those who've never seen the show, this is what the actual logo looks like:

And here is what his shirt looked like when I'd finished with it (remember: this was a 10-minute job, so don't have high expectations):

And from the back:

It was by no means the most stellar costume but he was happy, and that made me happy. Unfortunately, a lot of people thought he was Steve Irwin (the Croc Hunter), and Will didn't know who they were talking about (can you believe it's been 5 years since his death? So sad). In fact, it was only when I explained that Steve was Bindi Irwin's dad that he had some idea what they were on about!

Anyway, I thought we could use the Sharpies for a school holiday project to keep him busy for a few hours. I just bought a cheap T-shirt from Best & Less (quite good quality too for $4) and found some cardboard to place inside the shirt to keep from staining the back.

The Stained By Sharpie pens look just like any markers, and were quite simple to use, despite T-shirt material being quite stretchy and `moving' under the pen a lot when used.

We pegged the cardboard in place and this helped also to stabilise the shirt.

And Will went to work! He is currently obsessed with an iPad game called Dragon Story, so that was his inspiration. He asked me to write the game title so he didn't `mess it up'. Awww, I would have preferred him to write it in his cute kiddy handwriting!

Halfway through, there was a drama about the dragons not being perfect. Will is quite particular about everything he does, and I had to coax him not to give up just because he didn't like some if his drawings. We quickly learnt to draw in strokes, rather than moving the pen continuously across the fabric. This technique created a much better result.

As a compromise, after he did his first three dragons (in the middle), I outlined some bigger ones for the bottom under his instructions, which he then coloured.
Here is the final result:

Good thing we used that cardboard underneath!

The verdict?
A good product, and after the first wash, the colours remained vibrant. I'm not sure how well they will hold up to multiple washes, but hopefully I can post an update in a few weeks. There are some obvious colours, such as blue, that aren't in the pack, which was a bit of an issue for this little boy! But overall, they worked well, and the price tag of $9.99 for the pack wasn't too bad.

One tip: The packaging recommends storing the markers horizontally so they won't dry out, and of course this makes a lot of sense.

One final look:

Linking up to the Sunday Showcase Party at Under The Table and Dreaming and I Heart Nap Time's Sundae Scoop.
I Heart Nap Time

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Spooky PicMonkey Portraiture!

Well, I have a few projects in the works but while I finish them off, I thought I would follow the lead of Laura at Corner House by sharing some of the fun we had recently with PicMonkey.

Laura shared her wonderful scary shots in a post a few days ago, and by chance it appeared online the morning after my son and I enjoyed some school holiday fun by playing around with our own photos.

Halloween is not a traditional celebration in Australia but, of course, given how much US culture pervades here, we know all about it. As kids we yearned to dress up and walk the neighbourhood asking for lollies, but if you did it, people would just look at you blankly.

Nowadays, more Halloween decorations are appearing in our stores, and I think a few kid-centric areas are starting to do it, but not in my town yet. We certainly won't be stocking candy at my house.

(Funnily enough, we are finishing off a Halloween themed project that I'll share in the next few days though! I decided to do it as another holiday activity for the boy and to get in on all the spooky fun I see online!)

Will had attended a Blood & Gore workshop over the holidays, where he learnt some of the principles of creating fake wounds for stage makeup. It was only a bit of a stretch to create this freaky shot:

The bruising on his neck he created in the workshop and if you squint you can see he has made up a black right eye, but the vein on his neck, the pasty skin and heavy overlaid texture are all courtesy of PicMonkey. I think the expression on his face helps spookify it too!

Next we decided to go into the yard, and create some scary poses. Will wanted to be a zombie but the light was fading and he got bored with posing before I could get a really good shot. Hence this:

Flash overload! However, it didn't turn out too badly in the end:

Will decided on all the effects and wording! I can be a control freak so I tried not to cramp his style :)

Next he wanted to see what I could look like, so he selected this fuzzy photo from the archives. Actually, he took it so actually it's not bad:

This is what I looked like once he was finished:

Note the indoor full moon! If you're going to use the eye effects and are planning to take some photos especially for this purpose its useful to know that posing with wide open (ie zombie-like!) eyes work best - you'll see what I mean when you try it.

The next one is one of my favourites, both before and after Will got his paws on it.

Here is the original:

 And here it is with the full zombie effect in play:

 This one is probably the most subtle, so I think that's why it's my favourite. You have to forgive the `heavy handed' edits - my 6yo doesn't like a photo effect unless it's over the top!  Laura's edits are a lot softer and more realistic, but alas, there's no reasoning with little boys.

 I wasn't a fan of PicMonkey at first - I loved Picnik and I still miss it! - but am starting to enjoy PicMonkey the more I use it. It was a lot of fun, so give it a try sometime - with or without the kids!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Quick Chevron Update


I completed this very small project slowly over a few days last week. I had an old box that had been sitting around the house for ages, too ugly to use for anything special but kind of too nice to throw out. Lately I've been trying to become more organised around the house and I'm trying to start by using stuff I already own to resolve `trouble spots' for clutter. It kind of kills two birds with one stone: it reduces the stuff sitting around to be used `one day' (which is clutter in itself) and it also means I can fix a household problem for zilch, which is always handy. In this case, I'm hoping this box will help me with a daily organisational battle in our household: homework!

The box was actually the packaging for a kindergarten fundraiser - it contained a ready-made stash of birthday and greeting cards (not a bad idea for disorganised types like myself who are usually realising they don't have a card 5 minutes before a party!). Sorry, once again I forgot to take a photo until midway through the project, but suffice to say, the colours were a bit off, especially for its new intended purpose. What's that, you ask? To corral Will's homework into one place and to store the three items we're always searching for at homework time: his lead pencil, sharpener and eraser!

This box is just for us (nobody else will be looking at it unless they want to do homework duty), but I hope that prettying it up will make us more likely to use it. So I just picked out some leftover chevron fabric to spruce it up a bit. This fairly heavy fabric had the advantage too of not being at all transparent, so I didn't have to worry about the colour of the box underneath showing through.  

First up, a disclaimer: I didn't really give this project enough thought before I started. I trimmed the fabric too closely when I cut it out when I really needed to approach it more like covering a book, leaving enough `leftover' fabric to fold over each edge of the lid.

The purple/pink/blue you can see lining the inside is what the exterior looked like (except with promotional logos and photos as well). In the far background, you can see a magnetic lip that adheres to hold the box closed.

 I took this photo a bit late (after adding one of the end pieces) but it's meant to show how for the base and lid I used just one continuous piece of fabric. I used spray adhesive on both surfaces to adhere this piece, wrapping it around each curve, and using a credit card to remove air bubbles. I had to lift the fabric a few times to reposition but it didn't seem to affect the eventual `stick'.

Above you can see the complication of the bottom edge being beveled and jutting out further than the sides - it made it hard to wrap the fabric around and adhere it. Consequently, this edge looks a bit tacky, even after I've added the end fabric piece.

Above is just a close-up to reinforce the tackiness!

For the end pieces, I got smart and used enough fabric so there was plenty to fold over, creating a more secure edge on the inside. 

I then used Mod Podge on the turned edges in order to provide some extra adhesion. 

Then I used anything I could find (paper clips, pegs, bobby pins) to seal the fabric down. Doesn't look very professional, does it? But it did work!

Classy, huh?

So far I haven't done anything to pretty up the inside!  For its purpose it will do for now, unless I get keen in the next few days to go that extra mile.
Here are some final shots:

And one to show it nonchalantly at work on the phone table, hiding the homework mess!

Thanks for stopping by!