Saturday, 20 July 2013

Riley the repurposed Rabbit - a tutorial

A few years ago I had a different blog which, for reasons beyond my untechnical brain, was compromised by computer gremlins. One of the posts I had on there was a tutorial on how to make a rabbit from an old t-shirt, a perfect way to enable a child to hang on to their favourite top long after they have outgrown it. I thought it was worth a re-share, so here it is:

Caitlin, my eldest daughter, had a favourite t-shirt. She had outgrown it, then wore it for a cat-painting workshop at the local art gallery. This marked the demise of the t-shirt - a great big splodge of red paint across the front, which no amount of washing could totally remove. She was very sad to see it go so I decided to repurpose it. And so that you can have a go too, I decided to make a tutorial! It’s a bit flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, but I’m pretty happy with the end result -

Introducing Riley, the Repurposed Rabbit!

So - if you would like to make one yourself - here is what to do!
Firstly - take an old, long-sleeved t-shirt. This one is age 9-10, just to give you an idea of the size.

(you can still see the red splodge on the front!)
Now cut off the arms.
At this point, if you want the right side of the t-shirt to be the right side of your rabbit, then you need to turn it inside out. I used the wrong side as the right side for my rabbit, as the stain didn’t go all the way through, so my finished rabbit is stain-free!

On the body of the t-shirt, draw a head, body and ears. I made the head 12cm in diameter, the body is approximately 16cm x 22cm, and the ears are 16cm x 5.5cm at the widest point. (However I wish I’d made the body a bit thinner, Riley looks as if he’s had a few too many carrots). Leave a good gap between each piece (unlike me) as a seam allowance. If you are not confident on your drawing skills, you could draw them on paper first. I'm a bit gung-ho, as you can probably tell, since the body on mine is not terribly symmetrical. All adds to the charm, I say!

Taking care to go through both layers, I pinned around each of the shapes. Once I had done this I flipped the material over to check I had put each pin right through, and that the material wasn't bunched up underneath in any place.

Cut them out leaving a seam allowance all round, but retain the leftover bits. (Can you tell I can’t bear to throw anything out??)

Now take one of the sleeves. This is to make the arms. Cut it off at the top to make it straight, and cut off the bottom so that the main piece is 23cm long. Don’t throw away the leftover bits!
(Yes, I know, rabbits don’t have arms. But for the sake of clarity, they do for this tute. For that matter, they don’t generally have blue and white stripes …)

Fold the sleeve so that the seam is in the centre. Pin either side of the seam.

Cut the sleeve in half along the seam.

Round off and pin the ends.

Now do the same for the legs, only cut the sleeve so it is 30cm long.

Using a fine needle and a fairly loose tension, machine sew round all your pieces, leaving gaps at the tops of the limbs, and bottoms of the head, ears and body, for turning out and stuffing.

So next … turn all your pieces the right side out and stuff ‘em! Don’t stuff the ears though.

Note the wooden spoon. I had the great idea of using it to push the stuffing down inside the limbs. It doesn’t work - the spoon just goes right through the stuffing. Don’t try it.

I’ve also stuffed my rabbit quite loosely as I wanted it to be quite floppy.

Oh yes - stuffing. In the interests of repurposing, I did not buy my toy stuffing.

This may give you a clue as to where I got it though:

OK - on with the tute:

Apologies for this next picture. You have not had too much wine. (Neither had I, but I seem to be suffering from camera shake on this shot).

Fold in the open end on one of the arms, with the seam in the centre. Slip stitch it closed. (Do you know I took about ten of these photos and every single one came out blurred. grr.) Repeat with the other arm and with each of the legs.

Take the arms, fold in half again, with the seam inside, and slip stitch along the opening.

Sew up the bottom opening on the body, then attach the arms and legs to the body. For some reason I haven’t got a photo of this!

Now take the ears, fold in the opening and pin. Secure thread firmly at one end and slip stitch to the other end. Pull up the thread so that it gathers, stitch firmly to keep the gathers in place. Repeat with the other ear.

(Don’t worry about the turquoise playdoh in the corner of the picture. This was Calum’s contribution and has nothing to do with the rabbit ;-) )

Attach the ears to the head. (I would like to say that I planned it so that the stripes lined up, but that would be a lie).

Now go and have a rummage round in your button box and find some buttons for the eyes and nose. Caitlin chose to have two buttons for each eye - I quite like the effect!

Add some mouth and whisker details with sewing or embroidery thread, securing the ends under the nose button for neatness.

Now for the tail. Take the leftover bit of sleeve from when you made the arms, and cut off the seam at the bottom and straighten up the top. My bit of sleeve is 7.5cm long.

Turn inside out and sew a running stitch round one end of the piece.

 Gather, stitch in place, then turn right side out and stuff. Sew a running stitch round the open top and pull tight.

Oversew the ends, then attach to your rabbit.

(yes, I know the stripes don’t match up at the back. I’m not that dedicated!)
Et Voila!!
Here is Riley posing a little self-consciously:

And here he is chilling out watching TV when he thought I wasn’t looking: 

Hope you like my Riley! If you follow my tute and make one yourself then please let me know and I’ll feature it on my blog. Happy repurposing!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

A place to play

Every child needs a place to play .. and so does every adult! Here's my "play space", a fabulous shed in the garden.

I have a lovely old oak table for sewing on, where I keep all my bits and bobs to hand:
On the left is my trusty Singer sewing machine, on the right is my upcycled lampshade that I crocheted with hand-dyed silk. In front of it is a drinks mat made from sea glass I found on the beach.

The stripy thing you can see is my little desk bin, for all those bits of thread and fabric snippings. I had seen something similar on Planet Penny's website and decided to have a go. My knitting needle holder originally had shortbread in it! And old spice jars make great button holders.

I made my "to do" list from a cheap photo frame with wrapping paper in it, and I use a white board pen to add things to it. I made the little birds from air-drying clay and copper wire.

I have a fabulous wee set of drawers that are full of lots of bits and bobs - sewing thread, beads, tape measures and "found" items. On the top I keep my pincushions (I have three but I don't know where the other two are at the moment!), plus some more air-drying clay sculptures (these were created by modelling around small bottles and tinfoil, wrapped up with masking tape before applying the clay).

More buttons, safety eyes and handbag clasps in another old spice jar arrangement. I cheered this one up with red paint and polka dots. I painted the picture but haven't got round to putting it up yet. The yarn is some I hand-dyed myself , in a lovely plate made by a ceramic artist friend of mine. The stones were painted by my eldest daughter.

My bookcase holds all sorts of treasures - my sock monkey stash, my ideas notebooks, and all my sewing and knitting inspiration books. Some are old favourites, some are new additions, all are often referred to. I used to have three times as many but I have pared them down recently. Just at the bottom of the picture you can see my Parker Knoll armchair covered in a Rainbow Granny blanket - for more pictures of it have a look here.

My favourite item in my shed is this picture by a lovely artist friend of mine Charlie Meyer - for more of her work have a look at her regularly updated Facebook page . It never fails to cheer me up!

Anything else you want to know about what you see, just ask! Do you have a place to play too?

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

A new bag

I'm forever losing things in the bottom of my bag, it's so annoying! So when I saw this tutorial by Liberty at Crafts reDesigned to make a bag with lots of pockets, I just had to give it a go.
I'm very pleased with the result! The handles were a bit tricky to sew on, but my trusty 1940s singer sewing machine rose to the challenge. I used brown corduroy for the base and the handles, blue denim (the reverse side) for the middle stripe and the lining, and two fabric samples for the main exterior and the pockets. If you can get hold of fabric sample books (my local soft furnishing shop gives them away for a donation) they are a great source of cheap, excellent quality fabric that will otherwise go to waste.  Upholstery fabric tends to come in pretty large pieces, about 20" square, which is perfect for making bags like this!

Here's a picture of the inside:
All my bits and pieces (purse, phone, ipod, pens, keys, sunglasses) are all tucked away in the pockets, all easily accessible and (hopefully!) easy to find!

I followed  the tute pretty much to the letter, except that I added a magnetic snap closure just before I sewed the topstitch round the top of the bag.

If you fancy having a go at making one yourself, do have a look at the tutorial , it's really well-written with lots of clear pictures, though I think it helped that I had made a few bags before.

I'm just thrilled with the result! I'm sure I will make another version soon.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Look, I knitted the world!

I found this lovely pattern via Ravelry and, though I can crochet perfectly well, I much prefer to knit. So I wondered if the pattern would translate to knitting ... and bravely decided to give it a go. As knit stitches do not form a perfect "square", I was a little concerned that it might come out slightly elongated. If you've ever looked at knitting graph paper you will notice that the squares are slightly wider than they are tall, so that when you create your design it comes out "square". I wasn't sure if the same thing applied to crochet ... anyway enough waffling - here's the end result:
As you can see, it worked perfectly! I was quite delighted. Here's Europe and Africa:
And look! The chart even has Antarctica on it:
If you would like to have a go at making the globe and you are not on Ravelry, visit Crochet Parfait for full and comprehensive instructions on how to crochet it.

I gave the globe to my two little boys to play with, they were delighted!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Handmade slippers

 Despite the lack of activity on the blog, I have still been busy making. I always wear slippers in the house, but my old slippers were in a right state, just about ready to drop apart. Rather than part with at least £20 for a new pair, my other half suggested I should make some instead. So I did! I bought felting yarn (Filzit yarn, four balls), followed the wonderful pattern by Pilgrim Purse , and knitted my slippers. I felted and shaped them, stuffing them with plastic bags to keep their shape until they dried. Although you can felt in a machine, I did mine by hand so that I could ensure I got them just the right size for my feet.

Once I was happy with the shape and look of my slippers, I set about decorating them! I used my needle felting skills to add a simple colourful design.
 Needle felting is quite easy to do and not too expensive to start up - have a look at Gillian Gladrag's delightful site for some great tips and starter kits.

Once I had finished my needle felting I added leather soles to the bottom of my slippers. Because however much I tell myself that I won't go outside in them, I know I'll forget ...
I used a bradawl to poke holes through the leather at even intervals, which I had marked previously with a pounce wheel. That made it much easier to attach the leather to the soles. You can see the pounce wheel in the top left of this picture.
And here are my finished slippers! They are a little bit wider than I would have liked, but it means they are nice and airy for the summer. I think I may knit woollen liners for the winter!