Local Heart, Global Soul

February 9, 2011

A Step-by-Step Exciting Little (Mr.) Earner…

Filed under: Craft,Kids and Family,LIFE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Our children have chores to do each week..  mind you, some weeks we are more successful than others at actually achieving getting them done, since homework, reading, sports, and various other activities take up an ever increasing amount of time, and we build in time for playdates on a regular basis to that it’s not all work and no play.

Our kids are expected to help set the dinner table, clear it, dry dishes, make their beds, hang up their coats, stash their shoes and a whole list of usually quick and easy tasks.

We hope it will help them build up awareness and expectation that everyone works in a household, that we are a team, that they can be proud of doing a  job well.

Himself and I have struggled with the concept of pocket money… we would rather that they earn treats like family outings of their own choosing, but there comes a time when they want some coins in their pockets and to have the joy of shopping for, and paying for, something themselves.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

When Little Mr. was four, he expressed interest in saving for some Playmobile toys. After some time he had amassed Euro 12,– and Himself was duly dragged to the toyshop to make a purchase.

Little Mr. returned in tears and Himself in a foul mood, having failed to get Little Mr. to understand that the Euro 12,– in his pocket was only enough to pay for a small  Playmobile accessory toy and not  the massive Police Station that cost Euro 80,– plus that Little Mr. fixated on the minute he entered the shop.

Little Mr. had not yet understood the concept that the amount of money he had to spend, would only buy toys to that value in the shop.

So, instead of paying money out each week, we set it aside for them, but now that both kids are older we want to try again. Little Mr. isn’t quite ready for actual cash in his pocket so needs something simple to work towards. I also want our kids to put some effort into “earning”  their rewards, so we have devised a plan.

Little Mr. wants some Playmobile furniture. I’ve made a six-piece magnetic jigsaw puzzle  and the idea is that if he does a reasonable amount of chores in a week, then he can earn one puzzle piece. Once he earns the sixth piece, he trades the puzzle picture for the real box of toys. To add an element of excitement, he doesn’t know which furniture he is getting in advance, he will only see it as the pieces build up.

I’ve added a step-by-step tutorial so that if anyone else wants to make something similar they can see how I went about it.

Buy the toy and make a photocopy of the outside of the box ( then hide the toy away). The photocopy can be in colour or in black and white…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

On a separate piece of paper draw a large rectangle, then divide that into six equal squares. (I used a separate piece of paper because I knew that I was working this out as I went along, also  I’m prone to making mistakes and didn’t want to ruin my colour  photocopy).

I used a bottle cap to trace circles, and after a few hit and misses, devised a rough jig-saw puzzle layout.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Tape the corners of this paper to a window and position the photocopy over it, use as little tape as possible to avoid ripping off any of the image. (I can’t manage this on crutches and have a small cheap light-table so used that instead) Trace the puzzle image onto the photocopy.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Cut the pieces out with a pair of scissors.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If you want, you can just glue your magnets onto the back of the pieces now. I have a laminater (it cost less that Euro 20,–) and want to laminate my pieces. The laminater sheets come in various sizes…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

First, I found when I cut my pieces out that I destroyed the lines around the edges… I wanted mine back so re-drew them.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The pop the puzzle piece into the laminate sleeve…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Laminate all the pieces and using a small pair of scissors, cut out the shape, leaving a margin of plastic around all the edges, Don’t worry about a perfect fit.. this puzzle is symbolic, and the clear plastic bits can overlap without detracting from the overall effect.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Attach magnets to the bottom with glue and Et Voila!  Puzzle pieces ready to be earned.

April 25, 2010

Embroidered Flowers For Elizabeth, a very crafty book Review…

Filed under: Craft — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Yesterday I received the book in the post that I won in a random draw of new forum members of the Australian stitching company and publisher, Country Bumpkin.

My winning book is called “Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth” and  is signed by the author Susan O’Connor.

The “Elizabeth” of the title is the English Queen Elizabeth I, and the book depicts flowers in the theme and style that can be found in Elizabethan embroidery.

The Elizabethan era is characterized as a time that enjoyed efficient, stable government largely due to the reforms put in place by Henry’s VII and VIII, and together with successful overseas expansion this era enjoyed an increase of wealth comparative to the era preceding it.

Poetry and music flourished, and whilst leisure time was still rather limited for the masses, festive days were a chance for those who had established some wealth to show off their finery.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Elizabethan and Tudor portraits by notable painters such as Hans Holbein the Younger, Anthony van Dyck and Nicolas Hilliard show richly decorated garments embellished with embroideries, Blackwork, jewelery, fine laces, silver and gold threads, and featuring floral themes as well as insects, birds and fruits.

In the book there is a concise, albeit short historical background, (naturally these are not great volumes of historical information available on embroidery existing at this time in history) and at the beginning of the book (photograph on Page 8, and pictures in the photo at right) showing Margaret Layton’s linen jacket, embroidered with silk circa 1610, an exceptionally beautiful  and very rare surviving specimen of Elizabethan clothing that is an amazing inspiration for any stitcher in itself…

This book continues the A-Z style of instructional diagrams, complete with clear and concise photographs that illustrate each stage of the stitch so that even a beginner could master the technique displayed.

Certainly some stitching experience would be an advantage, so that tension and evenness of the stitching could be maximized in the final stitched result, but I am also sure that with the aid of the photographic sequences, that any determined beginner could also achieve a very acceptable result.

One nice feature of this book is that Susan gives instructions to complete an embroidered blanket, where each of the elements in the book can be put harmoniously together to form a single project…

…but that if the entire project is too big for what the stitcher requires, then each of the parts can easily be used to make a separate, smaller project, ideal for decorating household items, clothes or as a framed piece.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

When I saw the colour code for the yarn used, I had a small panic because I knew that Paternayan Wool Yarn would be next to impossible to find here in The Netherlands, but that’s been thought of too and Page 73 of the book features a tread conversion chart not only Paternayan Wool to DMC stranded cotton, but also to Au Ver à Soie, Soie d’Alger , a beautiful French Silk thread.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One small improvement that I can see and might suggest could be that for instance on Page20-21 where the stitching directions for the Poppy are given, it might have been nice to have the poppy bud stitching directions also in the step-by-step photograph instructional diagrams instead of solely in written text.

For people like me who have a good knowledge of basic embroidery stitches but who have not ever put the stitches together to make a flower like this, and with no possibility of a local class or someone to show me in person, the maxim of “ a picture tells a thousand words” would indeed be helpful as I take my first tentative steps alone into this kind of stitching.

Don’t get me wrong, there are step by step photographic directions for the petals of the Poppy on Page 22, but the bud is more complicated (or appears so, with regards to the positioning of the satin stitch) and there are no step by steps for that. Seeing the entire Poppy project depicted from beginning to end would give beginners like me in this work a little (OK, a lot) more confidence.

Wonderfully detailed photographs both aid and inspire the stitcher…

Thank you Country Bumpkin for a beautiful book… now all I have to do is try and decide where to start…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

All in all, this is a wonderful book, if there were additional step by step photographs showing how the all the flowers were built up in their layers were available for every component of the project, then for me at least,  it would be a perfect book.

My rating for this book would be 8/10 as I read it though… and possibly more, but I’ll have to stitch something out of it first to really test how well a beginner can follow the instructions as they are set out.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Watch this space for a future stitching updates on this post.

Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth // Author: Susan O’Connor // ISBN 978-0-9805753-4-7

Published in Australia  by Inspirations Books // Country Bumpkin Publications, Australia.

March 26, 2010

Teaching Kids to Stitch: Blanket Stitch.

Filed under: Craft — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m going to be teaching our Scouting Group kids to embroider.

I have bought some Aida fabric for them to get started on and was about to whizz around the pieces with the sewing machine poised on Zig Zag to hem them neatly, when I thought.. hey this is stupid!

What kids need most is  to practice their hand stitching!

And what better practice can you get than with the very versatile Blanket Stitch?

Lesson One…  Blanket stitching the outside of our fabric to hem it and stop it from fraying.  Blanket Stitch is an easy to learn stitch with simple variations can easily be adapted to decorative as well as purely functional uses.

I keep a small ring-binder folder, where over the years I have stored sketches I have made, fabric samples stitched and many notes about stitch variations etc.

In this way I can keep all my “inspirations and practices” in one place and also make notes about things I tried that didn’t work so well.

It doesn’t matter how arty or how sketchy your notes in your notebook are, the main thing is that your notebook  it makes sense to you and that you can build up a small stash of your ideas, samples and  practice pieces.

So… here is my sketch page for Blanket Stitch, and then my sample piece to show the Scouts.  Daughter is starting to hem her piece of fabric as well. Here are the photos of the start of our stitching  journey…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The fabric is edged…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 25, 2010

Teaching Kids to stitch… Starting at the very beginning(Part 1).

Filed under: Craft — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’m taking on teaching basic embroidery stitches to children.  Our local  Saturday Scouting group  kids to be more specific. I’ve taught adults embroidery a few times, mostly those have had previous stitching experience and been quick to learn. The Scouts will not only be a far younger group but also one with zero needle and thread experience.

Although I am not a fan of Aida Fabric, I have bought some for the kids to use as their first  test piece simply because I think it’s the fastest way to overcome any initial fears they may have and boost their confidence. The large holes of 14 count Aida will help the to “get” the alinement  of stitches in a more practical way.

However, I’ve also decided to leap away from Aida Fabric as soon as possible. I think that as soon as they have mastered the principle of a stitch they should practice it on a finer fabric …. too many times as a cross stitcher I have encountered people who started on Aida and were just never quite brave enough to try a linen or even-weave fabric, even though they liked the background look of them more than Aida.  Apparently eyesight had nothing to do with it,  these stitcher’s had no problem seeing the work. Then Why?  …because  “It just looked harder to stitch on” …

Usually in these circumstances I found that a quick introduction to linen, coupled with some one-on-one tuition whilst they overcame their first feelings of quiet panic, as they vault the mostly mental hurdle, resulted in the phrase: “this is so much easier than I thought, Why wasn’t I brave enough to do this years ago?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If little girls 100 years ago were capable of producing beautiful, intricate designs on linens in the forms of decoration or samplers, then why should we  not assume that todays children are also perfectly capable of working on linen after some practice to master the basic stitches  first?

I’m going to work on the principle that if they don’t realise that some people fear linen, and they are taught by someone who isn’t afraid of it, then they won’t be either.

I have an eight year old daughter. She’s my willing “guinea-pig” for my Teach-Kids-to-Stitch-Trial.   She’s very keen. I want to see what bits of the work enthuse her, which bits she finds too easy,  struggles with and which of the “experiment” projects she likes best.

We will then transport this information into my learning curve, edit, expand or delete as appropriate and bring the result into the Scouting Group.

It will be a long term commitment, moving  slowly step-by-step over time as they fit in handcraft into their regular Scouting Program.

I have a small assortment of size 5 Perle cotton threads of different brands in my stash, I will be using these initially because they will stitch as a single thread and I shouldn’t have the  problem of the kids constantly splitting the threads as they would with 6 strand embroidery thread.

Thus, I shall be adding yet another “Series” of posts to my Categories List, and posting updates to the series in the future when appropriate.

January 4, 2010

“I ” bags” the bag!”… kid cuddle cosy bag for winter, that is…

Filed under: Craft — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Our kids like to curl up  on the sofa in the morning and wake up slowly  in their pajamas in front of children’s TV,  whilst they eat breakfast until it is time for dressing, teeth brushing, school bag packing and out the door.

I will already be at work whilst all this activity is taking place so this is the routine that my husband likes too, can handle and orchestrate relatively smoothly in my absence.

It’s easy enough in the warmer months but when it’s cooler or downright cold, the gas heater takes a little while to get the chill of the room and the kids will often be fighting for a favoured super-soft blanket (of which we only have the one) and like as not the one who ” bags” it first will not always be willing to share.

Time for a solution… and no, giving away one of the kids is not the solution… but on some days when they are at their most squabblesome (like most  parents I suspect) I might consider it  … for a nano second.

What is needed is something that they can climb into, very soft and very warm for that snuggle time when they first get up and just before they go to bed.

Something that they will be totally comfortable in, roomy and soft… a cuddle cosy bag,

I also can’t be bothered to try and find a pattern or follow one,  because life is just too busy and tiring at the moment so decide to just improvise and see if I can make a quick, easy, lazy version.

I have detailed step-by-step photos using some paper cut-outs to represent the pattern because my fabric was dark and the stitch lines don’t show up well enough.

First I took a square piece of fabric that measured a decent length longer then  the kids feet at the bottom when the top of the fabric was level with their shoulders, and double the width of them ( with a baggy look, very roughly measured)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then I folded the fabric  in half and cut it vertically down the middle (so each of the two places are wider than the kid and slightly longer.. in this pattern ” baggy” is good !)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now cut two squares off the top, these will be the sleeves.  NOTE:   Small glitch solved: Next time I make one of these I will make them more square rather than rectangular, because this gives a bigger opening into the sleeve and when I made the rectangular ones for my four year old the sleeves turned out about two times longer than his arms! That was less problem with my eight year old  because she has long arms anyway.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now cut a little semi-circle into the top of both of the long rectangle ” body” pieces. DO use one of your kids tee-shirts to measure roughly  the size it will probably be smaller than you think !  You can adjust these easily enough later if you need to.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now do a zig-zag around all the edges you have so far. Beware this soft fabric is easy to sew but it will leave a trail of fabric fluff as you handle it, so wear some old clothes when you sew this up (my clothes took several washes to get all the fibers off.)

Now…  you have all your pieces and they have been edged so that they won’t fray.  Take the two ” body” pieces and join the two shoulder lines together, stopping at the neck.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Where I have drawn the dotted lines on the photo above, turn the fabric over on the line and sew a small tunnel for some elastic later. Do this on both ends, making sure that you tuck the fabric over so that the extra fabric is on the ” wrong” side of the fabric.

Now  take  the sleeves and also sew a  “tunnel”  in the ends (the shorter ends if you have a kid with longer arms as their “sleeve” pieces will be more rectangular than square)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now place the shoulder pieces next to the body pieces, pin on the long side and sew ONLY along the line where the body and sleeve meet ( we will sew the rest closed later)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now, with all the seams on the inside, fold the whole ensemble over at the shoulder points and it should look like this:

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Now ( turn inside out so that the ” right sides are together)  pin and sew: starting at the a wrist of one of the sleeves, sew towards the arm pit, then tun and sew down to the hem at the bottom. Repeat  for the other side.

Now all that needs to be done is to insert some elastic into the sleeves and into the hem and adjust the neckline ( only if needed) once you have tried it out on the child. Keep the elastic loose at the bottom because the child needs to be able to slip this over their head to get into it, and then can draw the elastic tighter once they are in it to keep their feet warm.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

My kids love to cuddle up with these over their pyjamas…. and they are really warm !

July 6, 2009

Quick and Easy felt Wreath Ornaments… Step-by-Step

Filed under: Craft,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

I usually avoid craft kits kits like the plague, preferring to take an idea, and build more or less the same item out of my own materials… but this time I happened to see a kit whilst browsing a craft website looking for something else, my daughter took a shine to it and on a whim I bought it. As usual with 8 year old kids, by the time it actually arrived in the post, daughter had lost interest and found yet another thing to fancy and beg for… (which for me wallet burned and lesson learned, No, I didn’t buy)

Since I didn’t want it to let it sit in the cupboard forever looking forlorn and surprising myself that I actually liked it a lot more once it arrived than when I had seen it in the photo… I picked it up to make one of the ornaments for a friend who I know appreciates hand crafted gifts.

So I sat down one evening and got going with the pattern… first cut out the pieces you need (there were several patterns of various shapes in the kit)… I did also photocopy the felt pattern itself because then if I wanted to make more of them later, I could get them all the same size. (personal use only, we are not talking mass production here LOL)

Wreath Christmas Ornament (photo © Kiwidutch)

Wreath Christmas Ornament (photo © Kiwidutch)

Using a metallic thread, lazy daisy stitch an inner circle as marked…

Wreath Christmas Ornament (photo © Kiwidutch)

Wreath Christmas Ornament (photo © Kiwidutch)

Then using tiny cur out circles in cream felt, sew them on.. you can use a simple running stitch to secure it but I prefer Blanket stitch because I like the neater outer edge…

Wreath Christmas Ornament (photo © Kiwidutch)

Wreath Christmas Ornament (photo © Kiwidutch)

Then in the center of the wreath, sew a ring of sequins using seed beeds in the middle to keep them in place. ( a beading needle makes this quick work…)

Wreath Christmas Ornament (photo © Kiwidutch)

Wreath Christmas Ornament (photo © Kiwidutch)

Then add sequins in the center of the cream circles, secured with larger circular beads…

Wreath Christmas Ornament (photo © Kiwidutch)

Wreath Christmas Ornament (photo © Kiwidutch)

Then, after cutting out the center hole, I sewed the backing layer to the front side using Blanket Stitch.

Wreath Christmas Ornament (photo © Kiwidutch)

Wreath Christmas Ornament (photo © Kiwidutch)

I then Blanket Stitched the outer edges together and once several scalloped edges had been completed, I stuffed it with small bits of filling as I went. I carefully added an organza decoration to the top and inserted a thin piece of ribbon into the top ( the ends tucked in between the two layers of felt) so that it can be hung easily onto the tree.

Wreath Christmas Ornament (photo © Kiwidutch)

Wreath Christmas Ornament (photo © Kiwidutch)

I cut out the pieces and sewed the metallic thread and the circles on one evening…

Wreath Christmas Ornament (photo © Kiwidutch)

Wreath Christmas Ornament (photo © Kiwidutch)

… and after the kids were in bed, finished the rest off the next evening. So, a quick and easy ornament in two nights. Note to self: next time shift the organza flower down a bit to match the position of the rest of the small cream circles, yep , sigh, I’m a perfectionist.

Wreath Christmas Ornament (photo © Kiwidutch)

Wreath Christmas Ornament (photo © Kiwidutch)

I’m planning to re use the basic shape and general idea to make more of them, each with free hand embroidery and a slightly different look, but with the same beads and colour scheme. That way they will all look like a matching set when hung up together on a Christmas tree.

I was pleasantly surprised at how good the finished result tuned out.. moral of the story, never judge a kit by it’s cover.

Have a go and surprise yourself!

« Previous Page

Blog at WordPress.com.