Monday, December 22, 2014

Up House Mobile


A few weeks ago I was contacted by Cat from Cut out and Keep, asking if I'd like to be on their Craft Test Team.  The idea is that we get sent a free craft product to try out and then write a tutorial about something we've made using that craft product.  How exciting is that!? 

Anyway I got sent a Multipom, which is a new way of making pom poms - so new in fact, that they'd rather I didn't show you the Multipom, or how it works, just the crazy amount of pom poms that I made using it.

I don't think I've made as many pom poms in my entire life, as I made over the space of two weeks!  

Image copyright Disney Pixar

As I was making the pom poms, the image of Carl Fredricksen's house from the film "Up" kept popping into my head.  How cute would it be if I could make a stuffed felt Up house, with pom poms for the  balloons?!

Image copyright Disney Pixar

First, I found this image of the house in the film, which I thought about recreating out of different colours of felt.  To be honest, I considered it for about a minute as I'm sure it would have just been too hard! 

After a bit more Pinterest searching, I found a gorgeous little paper house pincushion made by RadMegan.  She'd made it from a scaled down PDF that the kind people at Disney had created so that you can print out and make your own "Up House."  Wow, that makes things so much easier!

So all I had to do was to work out how to get the image from the PDF onto some felt. I've been very intrigued by iron-on heat transfer paper and I wondered if it would work on felt. As you can see, it does!

How to make an Up House pom pom mobile

Materials - 

  • 2 sheets of heat transfer inkjet paper. My favourite UK supplier for all things printable and crafty is Crafty Computer Paper, but you can find it here too.
  • 1 or 2 sheets of felt large enough to fit all of the cut house pieces on
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Wooden board
  • Tea towel
  • Parchment paper 
  • Needle
  • Grey, pink, light yellow, brown and ecru embroidery thread
  • Soft toy stuffing 
  • Eyelet punch and eyelet
  • lots of little poms poms
  • An 8cm polystyrene egg
  • Double sided sticky tape
  • Small brass screw in loop
  • Glue
Download the PDF of the Disney PIXAR Up house here.  You might like to print it out onto paper first to get an idea of how it all fits together.  If possible, enlarge your images before printing.  I managed to enlarge mine by 20%

Print the first two pages out onto heat transfer inkjet paper. You don't need to flip the image, just print it as it is. 

Leave the printouts to dry for a few minute and then cut them out. 

Carefully peel off the top layer of each section of the house and position them on the felt.

The instructions say not to use an ironing board, just a hard surface covered in a tea towel. I found an old sheet of MDF, sat it on my ironing board with a tea towel over and this did the job perfectly.

My heat transfer paper came with a sheet of parchment paper which you place between the iron and the transfer paper.

Using the hottest setting and without using steam, iron your transfer paper over the parchment paper, making sure that each area gets at least 20 seconds of direct pressure from the iron.

Cut out all of the pieces, creating seam allowances wherever possible.

Follow the instructions attached to the PDF to form the house, but instead of glueing it together, use a tiny blanket stitch to attach all of the sides of the house together.

Fold all of the seam allowances in as you work so that the edges of the design meet perfectly. Secure each side with a blanket stitch that passes through the edge 1 or 2 mms of both adjoining sides.

Change the colour of your embroidery thread depending on the main colour of the side you're working on - so grey for the roof, pink and yellow for the side walls and brown for the base.

Once the upper part of the house has been stitched, stuff it with polyfil or soft toy stuffing.

Attaching the base is a little tricky, so I found it easier to tack it in place first...

... and then work a blanket stitch all the way around the base in brown

The chimney is a little tricky too as it is so small.  I found it easier to fold over and then sew down all of the seam allowances first and then stitch the sides together to form a tube.

Then sew down the top of the chimney.

To make it easier to thread through the strings for the balloons I attached an eyelet to the top of the chimney.

Thread through as many strings of natural coloured embroidery thread until you can't get any more through the eyelet.  My strings were about 50 or 60cm long.

Knot all of the ends of the embroidery thread together, push them up inside the chimney and then stuff the rest of the chimney with polyfil.

Finally sew the chimney on.

To begin the balloons, screw a brass screw in loop to the top of the polystyrene egg.  Glue it into place.

To create the look of balloons hanging from strings, wrap double sided sticky tape around the egg a couple of times and evenly stick the thread all the way round.

I used a standard double sided sticky tape to attach the strings so that the strings were repositional, but a much stronger one later on for attaching the pom poms.

The very bottom pom poms need to be squeezed in between the strings so that they can be stuck to the very bottom of the egg.  To do this, use little squares of double sided sticky tape and attach 5 or 6 pom poms to the very base of the egg.  

Once your very bottom pom poms are in place, you can start covering the rest of your egg in lots of strips of double sided sticky tape.
Stick your pom poms on as close together as possible, trying to keep the same coloured pom poms apart, with an even spread of colour over the whole of the balloon.

Once the whole of the egg is covered in pom poms, stick quite a few more on using squares of double sided sticky tape to fill it out and make it look less perfect.  You want to create the effect of lots of balloons all out of control.

To finish it off, thread some clear nylon thread through the brass loop and hang it from the ceiling.  I used a Command decorating clip.

Enjoy your Up House!

Copyright information - the Up House PDF remains the intellectual property of Disney Pixar and is kindly provided by Disney Pixar for personal use only.


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Thursday, November 06, 2014

Layered Cascading Tutu Tutorial

Don't you just love it when your child's school give you exactly 2 days' notice to whip up a fancy dress costume!  Yesterday we were told that my daughter's school were going to be having a "Harvest Themed"  fancy dress day to raise money for the school.  The obvious options were to go as a farmer, scarecrow or milkmaid - none of which we had at home and none of which I could persuade my daughter to go as.  Apparently they're not "pretty enough."

So here I am, trying to create a pretty Harvest costume out of thin air.

I wanted to make an autumnal coloured skirt, which may or may not be decorated with leaves if I manage to find the time from somewhere... (as you can see, I didn't.)

The Tutorial 

I decided to make a kind of layered, floaty tutu, but I wanted it to be slightly different from the kind that is just strips of fabric knotted around a piece of elastic.  I wondered if it would be possible to make the strips twist and twirl like falling leaves as they cascaded.

To make the skirt you need: - 
  • A metre or 2 each of as many different coloured nylon and polyester satin, organza and tulle fabrics you can find.  (I live in a small town and so I was limited to just a few shades of habutai polyester, some lining fabric and some bright orange tulle fabric.)  I already had a few remnants of other fabrics that I was able to put to use.
  • 2 metres or so of 4cm wide ribbon.
  • Elastic
  • Pattern Pieces
  • Candle lighter
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine

Print out the 3 pattern pieces, cut out the grey shapes and tape them together into one long semi-circular strip.

Fold your different coloured fabric pieces up as many times as possible, allowing you to cut out 8 to 10 pieces at the same time.  I found the safest way to ensure that all of the fabric was under the pattern piece was to fold it over and under like a concertina.

If you have a lot more time than me, you could cut each piece out individually, which would make more economical use of your fabric, giving you a few more strips to work with.

In the end I managed to cut 44 pattern pieces out of as many different fabrics I could find. 

To prevent the fabric edges from fraying and to give the fabric pieces more volume, singe around all the edges with a candle lighter - of course this method is only suitable for nylon and polyester.  Never try this with cotton or silk and always do a test sample first over a bucket of water!  The net or tulle fabric don't need to be singed as it doesn't fray.

The skirt could be made completely out of tulle if you prefer, but you would need a lot more fabric and a lot more layers to get a similar effect.

Once you've singed around all of the edges of your nylon and polyester fabric it's time to start assembling the layers. Before you start pinning, work out what your colour pattern is going to be.  I had 5 different fabrics, all in varying quantities, so on a piece of paper, I made a note of the order I needed to arrange my fabrics so that I had an even spread of colour all around the skirt.

Each piece is pinned to the previous piece at the straight edge.  Overlap your pieces so that just a couple of centimetres is left exposed.  Continue from left to right, staggering the overlaps until all of your fabric pieces have been used up.

Alternate the direction of the curve in the pattern pieces as you work your way along the skirt.

Here's a close up of the singed edges of fabric.  You can see that the opacity of some of the fabrics means that you don't need nearly as much fabric, as you would with just tulle, to get quite a dense looking skirt.

To make the skirt a lot more solid looking I added a circle underskirt to the whole thing.  To draw the pattern for my circle skirt I used this ingenious page by the Scientific Seamstress.  It's brilliant!  It allows you to print out lots of pieces of paper that all tape together to form a quarter circle of concentric circles.  I worked out how large the circumference of the inner circle needed to be by loosely measuring my daughter's hips and then adding a few centimetres.  From that I worked out what diameter the waist hole needed to be*.  This gave me the size of the cut out hole in the centre.  Onto that I added double the length that I wanted the skirt to be and this gave me the diameter of the circle I needed to cut out.  I hope that all made sense!

*For reference, the formula for working out the diameter from the circumference is :-
Diameter = Circumference divided by Pi

Once all of your strip pieces have been pinned together, run a long basting stitch across all of the pieces and remove the pins.

Now pin the fabric strips all the way around the edge of the inner circle.  If your layered skirt is much larger than your inner skirt waist, use the basting stitches to gather it all in to the same size. By huge coincidence, my over-skirt was exactly the same size as the inner waist hole. 

To make the waist band, cut 2 strips of ribbon the same size at the waist, with an extra couple of centimetres for folding over.  Stitch them together along one of the long edges to form the front and back of the waist band.  With the wrong sides together, fold along the seam and press the seam along the right side.

With the right sides together, pin the waist band into place, folding over the ends.  Stitch the waist band into place.

Fold the waistband over to its correct position and pin into place.

Stitch the inside of the waistband into place by stitching as close as possible to the bottom edge of the front waistband.

Finally, using a safety pin, thread some elastic all the way through the inside of the waistband, try it on and knot the elastic at the point where it fits comfortable but snuggly.

There you have one swirly, cascading, floaty skirt, that any 6 year old girl would love!

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