Thursday, February 25, 2016

World Book Day - How to Make Cute Costume Props

It's World Book Day soon and so I thought I'd share a little trick for making fancy dress props that I used last year for World Book Day.

My little girl wanted to go as Princess Primrose from Alex T. Smith's book, "Primrose." If you haven't come across any of Alex T. Smith's books, I can assure you, they're a real treat, both for parents and young children.

We have all of Alex T. Smith's Claude books too, which are a joy, as they have a nice balance of pictures and text for the young reader who enjoys reading to themselves but can be overwhelmed by pages and pages of text. The sense of humour in his books is delightful to children and a pleasure for parents to read aloud.

Primrose became one of those books that my daughter wanted to read again and again, so it was an obvious choice for her to dress as Primrose on World Book Day.

Thankfully I didn't have to make an awful lot for this costume and I was determined not to spend too much on it, just to use materials that I already had.

She wore her favourite pink party dress, with a pink cardigan and top.  I made her some blue bows out of fabric similar to the ones I made the previous year for her Lulu costume.  I then made her a pink crown to wear in her hair as Primrose always wears a pretty pink tiara.  In total I believe I spent £1.50 on pink wire as I had everything else already.

Image copyright Alex T. Smith
reproduced by kind permission of Arena Illustration

I really couldn't resist making her a stuffed Percy the Pug as I thought that anyone that knew the books would recognise him instantly.  

I thought I'd share how I made Percy as it's a really quick way of making props for World Book Day Costumes - or any other fancy dress costumes for that matter.  Percy was the perfect size for this project, but any small character that you can get a decent image of would work well.

How to Make a Stuffed Fancy Dress Prop 

To make a small stuffed costume prop you will need:-
  • A good quality image to work with
  • Computer and inkjet printer
  • Iron on heat transfer paper - I get all of my printables from Crafty Computer Paper in the UK, but you can also find them here.
  • 2 A4 pieces of felt.  I used flesh pink felt.
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors
  • Needle and thread
  • Stuffing
Find your image that you want to work with - either scanned from the book or using an online search.  I was lucky enough to find digital images of Primrose and Percy on the Arena Illustrations website.  (They also very kindly gave me permission to reproduce the images and blog about it here.)

Image copyright Alex T. Smith
reproduced by kind permission of Arena Illustration

Resize your chosen image so that it will fit onto a sheet of A4 paper with a 2cm margin all the way round.  As you can see, I also copied the bow separately in Photoshop to give the prop a more 3 dimensional feel.

Print your image onto iron on heat transfer paper.  I had some left over from when I made my pom pom Up house mobile.  Please do take a look at this post for a bit more information on using the heat transfer paper.

Iron the fabric onto a sheet of felt.

Cut out around your character leaving a 2cm seam allowance.

Image copyright Alex T. Smith
reproduced by kind permission of Arena Illustration

Cut a second piece of felt to be the back of your stuffed character.  I did actually recreate the back of Percy using Photoshop but it wasn't really necessary.  If you're going to recreate the image on the reverse, don't forget that it needs to be a mirror image.

With the right sides together, stitch the front and back together, a few mm away from the outline of the character for a more cartoony effect.

Leave a good sized gap for turning it the right way around.

Now stuff it and stitch up the hole.

And here's Percy, proudly wearing the bow tie I made for him.  This was just cut out a few mm around the design and stitched together with a blanket stitch around the edge for a hand made look.

My daughter loved dressing up as Princess Primrose on World Book Day and a few of the children actually guessed who she was, solely from Percy the Pug so I think it really helped to finish off her costume perfectly.

If you enjoyed this, you might enjoy this:-

DIY Cascading Tutu
Up House pom pom mobile
World Book Day - Lulus spotty bow

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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Freeform Resin Jewellery Part 2


Recently I posted about a new method I've been working on for making lots of little beads, pendants and nuggets out of Ice Resin and glitter without using a mould.

I managed to make over 40 little glittery resin jewellery elements out of 20ml of Ice Resin. Do please take a look at my technique - if you've ever despaired at how long it takes for resin to set in a single mould you will be intrigued by this method of making dozens of resin beads at a time.

As it doesn't use moulds, you don't have nearly as much control over the beads that you end up with, but part of the joy is trying to decide what each piece wants to become.

I've been looking over my glittery resin nuggets and trying to decide what to turn them all into.

These two would make good ring cabochons...

... while these two small rounder ones would make pretty studs.

As I didn't use any moulds it is almost impossible to get two stones that are identical in size and shape, but I think that adds to the hand made charm of the pieces.

Theoretically, the more glittery resin nuggets you make at a time, the greater chance you have of finding two stones that are similar in size and shape. These two, for example, are similar enough to become a pair of earrings.

Both of these jewels would work glued onto necklace bails as they have slightly flatter ends.

Turning Glitter Resin Gems Into Jewellery

Some of the materials I used to turn my gems into jewellery are:-
Silver plated adjustable rings
Florist Foam
Cocktail sticks
Sterling silver glue on flat pad ear studs
Sterling silver French drop earrings
Fishhook earrings
Leaf necklace bails
Drill and 1mm drill bit
4mm and 5mm jump rings
Round nosed and flat nosed pliers
8mm silver plated wire

Before attaching the stones to your adjustable ring bases and flat pad earring posts, insert them into some flower foam so that the stones will stay level while the glue dries.

Then you just need to apply a small amount of glue with a cocktail stick onto the flat area of the ring and earring posts and quickly apply the stone, adjusting it so that it sits centrally and flat.  I like to use E6000 glue but a two part epoxy glue would work just as well.

To attach the glitter resin stones to the leaf necklace bails, just put a little glue on the textured part of the bail with a cocktail stick and then secure the stone in place.

Leave all of the glued pieces overnight to set completely.

To make the drop earrings I just drilled a hole from the back to the front using a variable speed power drill.  You can use a hand drill or a ratchet Archimedes drill, but after quite a bit of experimentation I found that I got a better finish with an electric drill.

The hole needs to be about 3mm from the edge - too close to the edge and the resin will be weaker - too far and and you will need a very big jump ring to attach it to the earring. I like to draw a dot on where I want my drill hole with a Sharpie pen.

To open jump rings use two pairs of pliers and always slide it open to the side rather than stretching the two ends apart.
I use a 5mm jump ring to go through the actual resin bead and a 3 or 4mm jump ring to attach it to my French drop earring finding.

Open the loop on the base of the fishhook ear wire to the side with a pair of pliers and then slip the smaller jump ring onto the ear wire loop. And your beautiful glittery resin earrings are finished!

To make a bracelet I simply took lots of similar sized nuggets and drilled a hole on either side.  Using this same principle of inserting larger jump rings through the drilled beads and then connecting them with smaller jump rings you can make bracelets or necklaces in any length.

The resin doughnut looks great just looped onto some thong and worn as a long necklace.

To turn this larger resin pendant piece into something I could use on a necklace I simply wrapped it with some 8mm silver plated wire. I formed the coil shape first with some pliers.  I then held the spiral of wire at the front while wrapping the rest of the wire around the top and then the bottom, finishing by forming a hanging loop at the top with some round nosed pliers.

It then just needs a jump ring to attach it to a long chain and you have a one of a kind necklace.

I'm so pleased with how my freeform resin beads turned out and there's always something much more satisfying about making jewellery out of elements I've made myself and are completely unique rather than mass produced beads that I've purchased along with countless other jewellery makers.

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