Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Stripy Pencil Case Tutorial

Great imaginative title, I know!

I've wanted to do something like for ages, but I've just been too scared of zips.  My Mum finds them a nightmare on her sewing machine and probably I would too, but I did these by hand.  In case I'm not alone in my fear of zips I thought I would put together a little tutorial of what I did.

I know I've said before, but I am not very confident when it comes to sewing and although I'm delighted with this there are areas where it all looks very messy.  I think I must be the only person on the planet that can ends up in a tangle of knots within the first three stitches.

Anyhow, to start this project I first decided what size pencil case I wanted and simply cut the felt accordingly (no pictures of this I'm afraid).  Next I lined up the zip with the top of the felt. I had the zip closed and attached one side of the zip to ones side of the felt. At this point I still had the zip closed.  The picture is of the zip open so you can see (just) the stitches I made to attach it.  They're not beautiful little even stitches, but I'm proud of them anyway.

Next I opened up the zip, and attached it in the same way to the other side of the felt.  So far so good.  I then closed up the zip again and used a blanket stitch to close off the ends of the pencil case.  Now it was starting to look like something that could be used.  

After that the next job was to create to the outside cover of the pencil case.  I love crochet and I love stripes and my son loves red and orange, this was a mixture of our favourite things.  This was easy, I started with a chain that was just longer that the pencil case middle I'd already made and then used a  half treble crochet (half double crochet in US terms) stitch to create the rows of stripes, changing colours at regular intervals.  I finished with a row of double crochet (single crochet in US terms), once it was large enough to fit the pencil case middle inside.  Then I crocheted the edges together using double crochet (single crochet in US terms), two stitches for each space.  Here it is before I sorted out all the ends, and tidied it up a little.

Next I slipped the middle into the cover.  Despite checking the size I seemed to have to sort of push it into the corners to make it fit properly.

But phew, in the end it went in fine without any problems.  Next I just had to attach the middle to the cover.

I just did this around the top of the pencil case and it has worked fine.

Next add your stationary to the pencil case and you're ready to go!

 I've made a couple now, and both are in use all the time.  My daughter uses hers to keep her money in, much of which is change, so I can say they will hold a fair amount.  My son has taken his to school and uses it everyday.  So far, so good, I've not needed to make any repairs anyhow!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Egyptian Minecraft Project

I showed you the Tudor house that the rest of my family created on Minecraft a little while ago.  

They have been working on a number of other projects since then, mainly inspired by the kids school work, or by their hobbies (we have an open air gymnastics stadium on Minecraft too.  All the projects have been created in Survival mode too, so they have been learning about collecting and managing their own resources!)

This time I want to show you the Egyptian project they decided on.  The Sphinx.  It is pretty big and you can see if from quite far away - just like the real thing!

As you get closer the details become clearer, you can see the colours they used - made by dying sheep so that when they sheared them, the wool was the right colour already.  You can also dye the wool after the sheep have been sheared, so it is more like real life if you wish, but it takes longer and uses more dye.

Now you can see the sand blocks on either side are in fact his legs.

From a slightly different angle he still looks cool.

I'm always impressed with the amount of work they are prepared to put in, especially when this is coming from pictures, either on the internet, or in books.  He has some glow stone eyes, so he looks pretty cool at night too.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Owl Bags

Did I mention that I liked owls?

I saw this little project a while ago and knew I would have to make it immediately!  I've made a couple of minor adjustments to the pattern, mainly because I can't be bothered to sew on the crocheted circles and beak when I can glue on felt equivalents.  I also have used an i-chord for the strap I found a fab video tutorial for this here and I was too lazy to add the little pigtails to the sides. 

Since I've made a lot of them, normally for my daughter's friends' birthday presents.  As always if I'm making them for presents the photos tend to be a bit rushed, especially if they were on my phone like these:

These were two I made for my nieces.  I like that you can make them so they all look completely different depending on the colours you use.

Recently I wanted to try and make a bigger owl bag, so I used the same pattern principle, but added a couple of extra rows.  To add extra rows on a circle you simply add one more Half Double Crochet  on its own before putting two in the same space.  So following on from the pattern, the next row would be 2 hdc in the first space, 1 hdc in the next 3 spaces all around.  The next row would be 2hdc in the first space and 1 hdc in the next 4 spaces all around.  I hope that makes sense.  I think I got to 1 hdc in the next 5 spaces for the owl bag below.  For my equivalent of Row 5 from the original pattern I did 1 hdc in the next 20 spaces as it needed a larger area because it was a larger bag.

I had also seen that you could create a chunky yarn by using two strands of a normal DK wool, so I tried that too, and I was very pleased with the results.  I did use a slightly bigger hook, but I can't remember which one exactly now (maybe a 6mm, or 6.5mm).

As I've made a few of these, I've started lining them with felt.  I roughly draw around the bag, and then cut 2 slightly smaller versions on felt and blanket stitch around them before slotted it into the completed bag and sewing around the top of both openings.

This time I didn't use an i-chord for the strap as I felt it needed something a bit wider.  I just did a long length of  5 single crochet.  I played around with the colours that made up the bag for a bit of interest, and not because I ran out of one colour, or two colours before I got to the length I wanted.  Honest!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Owl Hats

I love owls, I always have.  I used to have a whole collection of owls, collected from wherever we went on holiday or when I saw a particularly cute looking one.  That was until my Mum decided that I should be the one to dust my collection, then it reduced drastically very quickly!  

This means that I love making owl-y projects.  I am grateful that I am not alone in my love of owls and that other people seem to like them too. It means that there are a number of free owl-y projects out there to try.

One that I have made a lot is this owl hat.  It is such a lovely easy pattern to follow, and I've made it in a couple of the sizes and they have fit well.  The trickiest bit is the first row and making sure that you don't twist your foundation chain.  Once you've managed that, the rest is easy.  The only change I've made is being too lazy to crochet the beak, when I've got orange felt to hand (and when I first made the hat I didn't actually have any orange yarn).

Here is the starting chain, which this time I managed not to twist on my first attempt.  Hurrah!

It comes together quickly, especially if you're making it for a little head!

Here it is without the owl-y decoration, I have a few ideas on how to make different animals using the same pattern.

I love those ear flaps.

Finally adding the finishing touches.  I really like that the owls are sleeping.

And here is our phrenology head modelling the owl hat.  Which I have to remember is a pretty good size for a baby/toddler head!

I think that this hat would be a perfect project if you want to try a hat, but don't feel up to crocheting in the round yet.