Sunday, 19 April 2015

wedding bloomers

Hers and His wedding bloomers
Still on the wedding theme, what to get for the couple who want no presents? Something practical and a touch sentimental with a finite lifespan.

Whilst working on the Cameo project I came across Spoonflower cameo fabrics and suddenly very much wanted to make my own version. Being a bit nervous about non-uk sites, I was delighted to discover Woven Monkey. I would recommend it. For really big pieces it could get quite pricey but great for small projects.

 I could have spent more time on the colour scheme but was going a bit cross eyed by that point. The final print was a bit bigger than I realised but looking at the site I should have figured that out if I had been concentrating.

The cameos are of the bride and groom and their 2 dogs. They actually do look like them, which cracks me up.

After the fabric arrived I spent some time considering what to do with it. I thought about a bag, oven gloves, tea towel, pyjama the end I settled on his and hers underpants.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

bridesmaid activist doll

Bridesmaid girl
Inspired by Tree Change Dolls:

After discovering Sonia Singh's beautiful work a couple of months ago, I got a bit carried away in a frenzy of charity shop doll buying. Sonia saves poor rejected Bratz dollies and gives them their faces back, and some warm clothes and sturdy shoes or feet where they have stumps. 

The new dolls are so delightful it is little wonder they have become something of a global phenomenon. What is even more amazing is that the artist has seemingly rejected all sorts of offers to get rich quick from this. She is very generous in sharing her craft secrets and just seems to be a really good person. She is very much into recycling and reducing waste so I feel a little bit guilty about my first attempt because, well, I cheated a bit. 

I really wanted to make a little dolly for my niece as bridesmaid and I couldn't find a second-hand one with the same hair colour. Time was pressing so I..cough...bought a new 89p doll. Which I know probably encourages the factory to make more astoundingly cheap dollies, and thus the planet is a step closer to meltdown. So I apologise. The second thing about my dolly was her original face was quite nice. OK she had crazy eyelashes, but I think when you see the Tree Change before and afters you get the point - the more the contrast the greater the satisfaction.
My dolly before the makeover
Sonia Singh Tree Change makeover
The first thing I did was remove her face with acetone (nail varnish remover). Sonia uses eucalyptus oil as well but I haven't come across that in the UK. Maybe tea tree would do the trick.

Then I gave her a bit of a haircut and painted the scalp brown with acrylic paints (89p dolls have quite marked alopecia). I mixed my own brown (with tubes of red, yellow and blue, black and white I figured I had a good base for all colours). Then I painted on the eyes with a tiny brush. DO NOT BE FOOLED into thinking this is easy just because Sonia Singh's creations are so perfect. It is a fine line between creating an amused glint and a psychotic glare. And don't get me started on teeth. At one point she looked like she had tooth decay. In the end I was reasonably happy. The natural eyebrows make a big difference. I sealed it with a coat of Matt varnish as suggested by Sonia.  
face detail
For the shoes there is a really good video below. I had a go making my own 'Oo-goo' with cornflour and bath silicone caulk sealant. My hands got quite sticky and as there were no measurements it was tricky to get the balance between too sticky and too dry.


Some of the shoes looked a bit cracked so I DecoPatched them. This makes them a bit stronger and prettier.
bridesmaid shoes
Finally I made a dress to look as close as the bridesmaid dress as possible. It seemed to go down a treat.
Worth every stitch. Mum made the real girl's dress - so lovely
after a good play and a ride in the confetti flower petal basket 
And finally if it is all looking a bit too girly, her alter ego 'the NHS Activist' to remember all the marching she has done this year with her mum Bad Hair Day Lady and her aunties and uncles
Born in the NHS
Hand embroidery. T shirt made from old pants!
Scottish outfit
Thanks Sonia this was so much fun. Next doll will be a recycled one!

Friday, 3 April 2015


Wedding cameo album cover
Although for myself I don't really get the marriage thing, the forthcoming wedding of my not-so-little-anymore brother has been unexpectedly exciting. His lovely wife to be is no other than Sunshine of the kaleidoscope quilts. It is a good thing to have fellow crafters in the family and I think one day we will have to make a group quilt in the old tradition.

The wedding has generated a number of unexpected and fun craft projects - this is one of my favourites. The idea came from seeing a pet dog cameo cushion (something like this). Along the way my cushion morphed into a photo album cover. I forgot to take a photo of the finished piece, no matter.

Step 1: Get profile shots of the couple - to save time rooting through albums for suitable photos (who takes profile shots?) the direct approach of asking for profile shots is best.

Step 2: On Picasa or similar photo software increase the contrast a lot, cut the cameos our, colour with black pen, rescan and increase contrast again until happy with the final cameos. I did both left and right profiles and picked the best.

Step 3: Design a frame - to do this start with an oval and then draw half the frame. I incorporated a number of symbols in the frame for special significance - a Scottish thistle because it is a mixed marriage ;-) Pisces and Aquarius, bicycles, 2 dogs which look a bit like wolves, initials, roosters for their Chinese birth year, and a stylised coat of arms which is a mix of the 2 surname coat-of arms with the eye of faith.

Step 4: Use Picasa to flip the image so you have 2 identical halves. Then on the computer, fit them together with the cameo in the middle. That bit was very fiddly.

Step 5: Print the finished Cameo onto Wash away stabiliser - I used Madeira Avalon Film. In the past I have done this using ordinary paper (for the Dear Aunty quilt and Doodle quilt)  but it takes a lot to pick out the bits of paper from the crevices after machine embroidery. For small projects I definitely recommend this, but it would be too pricey for a big project. I  printed the frame separately from the cameo as I did this in 2 steps

Step 5: Cut out fabric silhouettes of the cameos, glue them to a cream oval the size of the centre of the frame in the correct position. Machine embroider around the cameos. Soak away the stabiliser. Dry.

Step 6: Stick the cream oval with cameos onto a patterned fabric. Peel the stabiliser off the backing and stick over cameo. Free motion machine embroidery over the frame design. Repeat soaking and drying steps.

soaking away the stabiliser - very easy!
Detail of the frame 

Step 7: This wasn't planned, but I haven't mastered getting the tension right when machine embroidering - so as you can see the centre of the frame is all bunched up - I have inadvertently created a trapunto effect. So there was nothing for it but stick some sponge in the middle to smooth out the wrinkles and make it all look very deliberate. To keep that in place I sewed an oval from the front, around the frame.

Step 8: Use this to cover a small photo album and make it pretty with bits of lace. Job done.