Saturday, October 7, 2017

A Renaissance Pirate Shirt and a Bob the Builder Shirt

Widget has been saying for ages that for his birthday party this year he wants a Bob the Builder party.

He has plenty of dungarees, so with a hat and the right shirt he will be ready to go. I have been looking for yellow and red check for a shirt like Bob's for ages. I finally found some. Last year I bought a pattern for the Bookworm Button-Up from Blank Slate Patterns but not got around to making it. I was in the middle of sewing it up too.

While I was collecting the stuff needed for the Bob the Builder shirt, Widget was invited to a Pirate Party. Over the last couple of years Sprog has attended a few pirate parties, and each time I have made something as part of his costume, there'e been a telescope, and a sword and scabbard; A pirate vest; and a pirate captain's hat. After the last party I felt that the vest needed more than just a t-shirt under it. It needed a pirate shirt.

I spent the week telling myself I didn't need to make a shirt. This morning I woke up and started sewing the shirt. I found the fabric in my stash. I think it was originally lining for curtains. It has a great washed out look and some sun discolouration.

I used the Bookworm Button Up pattern, with a few alterations, inspired by the shirts on the TV show Outlander, which is partially set in the era when pirates were swashbuckling.
- No pockets, no button tabs on the sleeves
- A wider collar
- No interfacing
- The front and back pieces were widened at the bottom to create a looser drape.
- the front was cut on the fold rather than as two separate pieces, then a cut about 1/3rd down the front from the neckline was added. I added a placket around the cut, and left plenty of extra at each end to use as ties to keep the neckline closed.
- I pleated the fabric before cutting out the sleeves, and kept those pleats for the assembly. This is again to put in more swishy fabric to create the voluminous look.

He was the best dressed little pirate at the party. Widget it not much of a model though.

After we came home from the party I went back to the original plan, finishing the Bob the Builder shirt. I still have to put on two buttons on the cuffs, but I have a very happy little Bob the Builder. I found the shirt really easy to put together. 

Coupled with some denim dungarees, a tool belt and a hard hat, he is all set for his party in December.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Little Gentleman Suit

A friend was looking for a suit for his son's sixth birthday, but was having trouble finding anything in a colour other than black. I offered to make him one, with my labour being our present to him.  I used the Little Gentleman Pants and Vest, and the Little Gentleman Suit Jacket from Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop. There is also a tie and bow-tie pattern in the Little Gentleman range, but I haven't bought or made that one yet.

The fabric choice was dark blue baby corduroy and some red/peach linen I had in my stash for the linings. The boy for whom the suit is being made, Darville, likes to wear suits as everyday wear, so it needed to be durable.

Darville measured as a 5/6 for height and chest measurements, but a 3T in his hips. I cut everything out as a size 6, to give him some growing room. I made the trousers up as normal, then took in a half inch off each side to get a better fit. The size 6 also has half elastic in the pants, for a flat front, compared to 3/4 elastic in the  smaller sizes. To allow room for growth I put in 3/4 elastic here too.

The lining of the vest is in the red/peach linen, as are the welt pockets. The vest pattern doesn't have pockets on it, but the jacket does. I lined up the armscye of the cut out vest, and the armscye of the jacket front pattern piece to place the pockets. The vest pockets were important for the pocket watch he was also getting as a present. The pockets on the jacket were left off.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Edible Thunderbirds - Thunderbird 2 and Thunderbird 4 cakes

Sprog had a Thunderbird party. When asked what Thunderbird he wanted for his cake his reponse was "2 and 4". No amount of questioning seemed to get him to budge, so I gave in and made two.

The cakes were both made by the same method. A packet mix with food colouring, yellow or green, then cut and sculpted, coated with coloured buttercream, followed by coloured fondant, and features in more fondant. The Thunderbird two was a double cake batch baked in a lasagne dish, the Thunderbird Four cake, was a single mix in a loaf pan to get the height.

To set them off I made a Tracy Island using a round table, a blue tablecloth, a washing basket, and a green duvet. The final touches were the rocket toys we had to represent Thunderbirds 1 and 3. 

Thunderbirds are Go! - Costumes for Sprogs's 5th Birthday

We had a very important birthday this month. Sprog turned 5 and started school. A birthday requires a party, and the theme of choice was Thunderbirds are Go! Inspired in large part by a Thunderbirds dress up Sprog got as hand-me-downs from his bigger cousin Bruiser.

After the success of last years Paw Patrol themed outfits in lieu of party bags I decided to go that way again. I  requested the wearing of blue on the invite to go with the theme, and made hats and sashes for each party attendee. There was also themed cake(s). 


The hat I made using a free pattern from UrbanDon. Although this is a pattern for adults and I was making it for kids I didn't change it. Kids have big heads, and I didn't have time to futz about figuring out how to alter the sizing when I work full time and had 9 hats and sashes to make.

For fabric I used whatever I found cheap at the local hospice shop and supply store. I ended up with two fabrics, each in Thunderbird light blue/grey, and each appearing to be a cotton drill. I also bought a bunch of piping in as many colours as I could find, and lightweight cotton to match, more or less, the piping.

The pattern is easy to follow. I altered it a little as I didn't add the Petersham ribbon. It was a dress-up, and I couldn't spot any straight away when shopping so I dropped it. My other alteration was to topstitch the seams of the hat to get a crisper edge. If I was making this hat for regular wear I would reinforce it with interfacing, but topstitching gave a crisper edge for 4 and 5 year old purposes, holding it pretty much in place when hats were yanked onto heads. 


For sashes I basically cut 4 swathes on an angle. On the one that was going to be the front I ironed on an International Rescue logo I bought on AliExpress, then topstitched to secure it. When the four pieces were stitched together I summoned Sprog and pinned where to secure the top and the angle needed on the hip for it to fit him, then sewed where I pinned.

And done!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Baby dungarees with matching hat

My brother-in-law and his partner had a baby. I thought about the usual baby gifts, but decided against them, in favour of dungarees for baby, the first girl baby in the family for 3 generations. We'll nickname her GinnyW, cause my husbands family tends to produce boys they way the Weasley's do.

I used the same pattern as for my boys dungaress, the Okey Dokey Overalls from PeekabooPatterns. In consultation with GinnyW's Mum and Dad it was decided on full length summer weight dungarees, with popper openings on the legs.

As a fabric I used linen bought from Backstreet Bargains, leftover from making my favourite Leralynn dress. I had both main fabric, with whales, and the mint contrast fabric left. I used the contrast fabric for all the pockets and the linings. I would have likes to use it for the lining of the hat as well, but I ran out, so it was reversible whales for that, using the free Reversible Bucket Hat pattern from Oliver + S

Modifications were minimal. I used regular buttons, with whales on them, instead of dungaree buckles, and added a couple of little loops to fold the straps back through, just like on the ones for my boys. To accommodate the fold back I also lengthened the straps somewhat.


I packaged them up and sent them off to the UK in time for her first summer. I left the buttons on the straps unsewn so that Mum or Dad could check the placement first. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Another summer dress - the Leralynn in Linen

Months ago when I made a Leralynn dress I bought some linen to make another. It's such a comfy dress, and has pockets! and a hood!

This week I finally got around to sewing it together. The first take ended up a bit less tailored than I hoped. In fact, it looked like a maternity dress.

Take 1:

I took about 4 inches all around under the bust, an inch from the seam on each side curving from the dart out to the waist, and then back out for the bottom of the pocket. 

I still have work to do on mastering darts, but I like the new version

The photo's aren't the best, but you can see the slimmer version and the scoop hem. I hate having a dress too short at the back, but I also don't like it too long at the front or my calves get cut off at the widest part. 
It's a brilliant summer dress in the heat that we have been having lately.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Summer dungarees

Sprog and Widget loved their winter dungarees, but since I made them at the end of the winter, and we don't have much of a winter here, they didn't get a lot of wear out of them. I sized up so they should still be good for next winter. I had leftover digger fabric and plenty of it so Widget had another set of digger dungarees due, and Sprog chose Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 


I altered the pattern slightly changing the fastenings. 

For the shoulder straps I added a loop on each side of the front flap instead of the button, and fed the straps through before looping them back to button up. The boys have had dungarees with straps like this that were really secure. It's really easy to lengthen or shorten the straps by moving the button. The hips were a simple switch from button and buttonhole to a snap popper.

Next up: matching dungarees for the new baby cousin, Nickname still to be determined. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Thomas the Tank Engine cake - Part Two - The preschool cake, a simple themed Thomas cake

It is common at our preschool to bring in cakes to celebrate birthdays. Despite having invited what felt like half the preschool to Widget's birthday and having most of his buds, and many of his brother's buds too (as siblings of Widget's buddies) over to the party it was back into cake mode for the preschool cake.

This cake was much simpler, but stuck to the same Thomas the Tank Engine theme. I used the same Bin Inn packet mixes for two 20cm round cakes. I cut the top off one of them and stacked the second cake on top with green buttercream in between, followed by green buttercream all over.

To get the Thomas theme in I raided the kids toys and found a diecast Thomas train. For this I made tracks using licorice for both the rails and the sleepers.  Most tracks have shingle and rocks around them, presumably for drainage and keeping weeds down or something. I made mine using white chocolate chips and dark chocolate chips. Dropping them straight on didn't have the effect I was going for, so I put them in the food processor and whizzed them. This powdered them a bit, and all the rocks became coated in dust as well as being reduced in size. The chocolate rocks and shingle made a great backdrop to the track. For the remainder of the grassy hill I covered with 'grass' using up the rest of the green buttercream. For this I used a multi opening tip like this one.
It took a flick of the wrist and a quick pull away to get little fronds rather than long strings.


The train went on top and the cake was done. It was all gone by the time we picked Widget and Sprog up from preschool.

Thomas the Tank Engine cake - Part One - The party cake

Widget had a birthday. It was his second birthday, and like his brother Sprog at age two he is a big fan of Thomas the Tank Engine. For Sprog's second birthday I made the first of my fancy cakes, a Thomas the Tank Engine.

It took two baked cakes to assemble. I didn't want to do the same thing again, and it took a lot of prep time, although much of that time was due to it being the first time I had done a fancy cake. It was a tall cake and awkward to cut.

This time I again did a Thomas the tank engine, but with his carriages Annie and Clarabel. A total of three cakes. Given that Widget's birthday is in December, and so many people have other commitments we invited a lot of kids, not everyone could come, but including bigger brothers and sisters there were still 20 under-5's and assorted adults at the party. We needed the extra cake!

For the cakes I used packet mixes from Bin Inn. Annie and Clarabel were chocolate cakes, baked in 22cm square tin, sliced in two and stacked on top of each other to create a basic rectangular carriage shape.  For Thomas I used a Buttercake recipe and added blue colouring so Thomas was blue inside and out. I cut the blue cake in half, using one half for the base of Thomas, then cut pieces from the other half to mould his shape. Two smaller rectangles, a circle, a half circle, and an edge bit as the buffer. I stacked them together to check the shape was right. All the cakes, Thomas, Annie, and Clarabel were wrapped in baking paper and frozen, both so I could make them ahead of time, but also to make the crumb coating easier.

 The night before the party I pulled all the cakes out of the freezer, using blue buttercream, or chocolate buttercream I crumbcoated all the cakes. I did a thick layer of chocolate buttercream between the two halves each of Annie and of Clarabel. This was followed by a top coat of chocolate buttercream smoothed carefully. The roof was a rectangle of black coloured chocolate fondant. To finish I put a strip of thin flat licorice around the base of each of the carriages, and stuck on a face I had made from fondant.

The faces for Annie and Clarabel all fondant. Squares of grey, with a pointed nose pressed on. The eyes and pupils were each small balls of white cut in half then gently pressed onto the grey, then even smaller balls of black cut in half and pressed into the white.

At the same time I made a fondant face for Thomas using instructions found on YouTube. which made a big difference to the look of the cake and gave me great pointers used for making the carriage faces too.

The basic shape for Thomas was made from the cake blocks, stuck together with buttercream icing. This was smoothed over using a top layer of blue buttercream. Thomas has a red base plate. In my original cake for Sprog I covered this completely with red fondant then plonked the blue on top. This time I saved a lot of effort by simply wrapping the base plate in red fondant. The roof and windows were all cut from fondant. For the coal store I used whatever was lying around, mostly a couple of skewers and fondant shaping tools to create an impression on the black fondant to look more like coal. To finish him up I added a chimney, fondant over a bit of skewer, and the face, along with Letters of Widget's initial instead of the number 1 or 2 (Thomas' number, or Widget's birthday respectively)

The final touch was cutting train track from licorice, and linking the engine and carriages together.  The cake was a hit, and was all gone by the end of the night.