Sock Puppets

sock puppet

With the winter school holidays upon us, I though I’d give this post to the kids πŸ™‚

I made sock puppets with a small group of children last school holidays, they were a hoot!

What you will need to make your own sock puppet:

  • A sock
  • a piece of cardboard
  • felt shapes for decorating
  • google eyes
  • wool
  • any other decorations you can find
  • Craft glue. PVA will frustrate you as it doesn’t really stick fabric. You want the clear gummy kind.
sock puppet making materials
grab yourself a sock, a piece of cardboard, some felt, and anything you want to use to decorate your puppet! Don’t forget the glue!

Now on with the making!

First thing, cut your cardboard into an oval like shape and bend in half. This will become your mouth.

sock puppet mouth
cut a rectangle of cardboard 12cm by 7cm. Fold in half, round off the ends.

Next up, decide where you want your mouth in the sock. You want it towards the end of the sock, but experiment with placement, you might make a feature of some of the elements in the sock!

cut a hole in your sock
Cut a slit in your sock approximately 7cm long (the width of your cardboard)

Run a line of glue around one side of the cardboard, and gently stretch the opening in the sock (which you just cut) around the cardboard and gently press into the glue.

glueing a sock puppet mouth
Run a line of glue around the inside edge of the cardboard. Carefully stretch the sock over the cardboard, squishing the sock into the glue around the edge.

You might like to cut a piece of felt the same size as the cardboard piece and glue over the top of the cardboard and sock edge to make it look neat.

gluing a felt mouth into a sock puppet
To make the mouth look neat, cut a piece of felt the same size as your cardboard. Spread glue over the cardboard, and particularly on the edges of sock. Glue the felt one, starting in the middle and working your way out to the sides.

The next part is where your imagination can really be let loose! Use google eyes, wool, felt shapes, pop poms, buttons, and anything you can get your hands on to decorate your puppet and really bring its personality to life!

an undecorated sock puppet
This is what your sock puppet should look like. Now it’s time to let your creativity run wild! Use felt shapes, wool, google eyes, pom poms, feathers – anything you can find really – to decorate your puppet and bring its personality to life!
sock puppet
sock puppet
two sock puppets

Have a creative week!
<3 Cate

Shopping Bag Pouches

I wrote the tutorial for my shopping bags last year. For Christmas this year, I made sets of shopping bags for Guys side of the family. Instead of just giving them a stack of bags, I decided to make it into a shopping bag kit of sorts, making a little pouch for the bags to go in, complete with a key ring to keep a trolley token on!

I made the pouches using the leftover fabric from making the bags.

After cutting out bags out using my shopping bag pattern, you end up with scraps looking like this. To make a pouch, you will need the scraps from two bags.
You will have a large section of fabric, with curved corners, and pieces attatched to the sides. Cut the attached pieces off, so you are left with a rectangle like shape with two curved corners.
You will have four pieces of fabric the same size, that look like these. If they are not quite the same size, trim them a little so they are.
cut a rectangle approximately five inches long
iron both edges into the middle, then in half.
stitch close to the edge
Pin two pieces together along the top edge, right sides together.
sew along pinned edge
iron seams to one side
Lay the two pieces rigth sides together, making sure centre seams line up. Pin at centre. Fold loop piece in half. This will be sandwiched between the two layers to one side.
The loop is sandwiched in between the two layers, about an inch down from the centre seam. I put a key ring on the loop before sewing in, as it is easier to do now rather than later. Then make sure it is pinned in. Then pin right around.
Sew right around the edge, leaving a opening on the end opposite to the end you attached the loop to. This will allow you to turn out the pouch.
Turn right sides out. It should look something like this. Stitch the gap closed, I was lazy and did a top stitch with the sewing machine close to the edge, but hand sewing this could be neater. It will be on the inside though, so should never really be seen!
And then the magic happens. You kinda just stuff half the bag into the other half, smoothing out edges and corners as you go. It should look something like this. Top stitch around the top seam, this will hold everything in place. I also added a snap in the middle to hold the top closed. I didn’t get photos of that process, but follow the instructions on the snaps packet and you should be sweet πŸ™‚

In most of the bags I made, I put a keyring on the loop before I sewed it in. I didn’t do that in this one, I put it on after, which made it a little harder, but equally achievable!

Since the laws in Canberra changed, forcing all supermarkets to chain their trolleys, we have had to carry a coin to detangle the trolleys before use. We sourced little trolley keys, which come straight out after unlocking the trolleys, so you don’t have to worry about finding another trolley to get your coin back!

The set of bags complete πŸ™‚

I hope all that made sense πŸ™‚ Please feel free to contact me with any questions!

Have a creative week!

The Half Granny Square Scarf

I’m onΒ  a mad crochet spree at the moment. It keeps my hands busy whilst my mind wanders.

The half granny square scarf has become a staple – around my neck – and on my hook –Β  since my Mum showed me how to make it a few years back. I’m always wearing one in winter! And I’ve nearly finished a cotton one for those cool summer evenings!

Even though I’m terrible at reading and writing crochet patterns, I think this one is so simple, I can show you how it’s done! And lets face it, if you’ve ever crochet, you’ve probably tried your hand at granny squares, and this is just like that, except missing half the square!

I have written the following assuming you have a little bit of crochet knowledge. Choose a hook that suits your yarn.

You start off like any other granny square – Make a slip knot and then chain 3. Then make a slip stitch into the first chain to form a circle.

form a slip knot

Chain 3

Slip stitch into first chain to form a circle

Chain 3, then make 3 treble into the middle of the circle.

Chain 3

Then 3 treble into middle of circle

Chain 2, then another 3 treble.

Chain 2

Then 3 treble into centre of circle

Chain 1, then 1 treble.

 

Chain 3. Turn.

Chain 3

3 treble into first gap. Chain 1.

Treble into first gap

Chain 1

3 treble into next gap, 2 chain, 3 treble. (This is the point of the scarf. This is the only place you do 2 chain. Always do 2 chain at this point)

3 treble

chain 2

3 treble into the same gap.

chain 1, 3 treble into next gap

Then chain 1, 1 treble into same gap. (This will be how you turn at the end of every row)

chain 1, 1 treble into same gap.

Chain 3 and turn.

Chain 3 and turn.

From here it is pretty straight forward. 3 treble into each gap, with a chain in between. Making sure when you get to the point you do 2 chain so you can fit two sets of three treble. And when you get to the end of a row you add an extra set of treble.

Here’s a rough drawing of how the stitches should work out…

half granny square scarf simple structure

Like I mentioned before, I wear these scarves constantly throughout winter! I wear them with the point at the front (kinda like cowboy style), but have been known to wrap it around my shoulders depending on how cold I am!

This is me wearing the very first scarf I made (photo taken a couple of years back whilst I was trying to master the timer on the camera!)

This is the scarf I wore all winter of 2018. I made it from “Moda Vera Bouvardia” which is one of my favourite yarns to make these scarves from as it is warm, soft and comes in pretty multi colours!

These next two are for sale, so message me if you would like to own one!

Another one made from “Moda Vera Bouvadia” The colours are so stunning!

A cotton/acrylic one! Lovely for summer evenings!

Have a creative week <3

How to Make a Simple Felt Flower

As I sit down to write this, I am a little bit annoyed at myself. I was hoping to have all my felting done and dusted. Alas, I am still working away at my bouquet. I showed you all the flowers I had made last week.Β  I will be at least a week behind schedule when I finish them. With two months until the wedding, this isn’t a massive stress, but with two months until the wedding I had hoped to have at least STARTED my wedding dress.

Everything else is starting to come together. I found the most spectacular necklace and earrings from Mariana. I’m experimenting with beauty regimes that I would never have tried before (can you say manicure?) and the landscaping is coming along – we just need to plant the backyard and we have started the front yard.

So today…

I teach you now how to make a super simple flower.

It basically starts off felting a couple of circles. I draw circles on the back of bubble wrap as a guide to size and shape. Then I layer roving over these areas.

The first layer of wool roving is layed down on top of the bubble wrap, with circles drawn underneath as a guide to size and shape

A second layer of wool is placed on top of the first, with the fibres running in the opposite direction.

A third and final layer of wool is placed on top, again changing the direction of the fibres.

A little bit of dish washing liquid is squeezed on top of the layers of roving.

And then wet down the wool with warm (as hot as you can handle) water.

Gently fold in the edges, so the wool takes the shape of the guide drawn underneath.

Edges neatened so it takes on the circle shape

 

Place another piece of bubble wrap on top and gently massage. This will help the fibres start sticking together and allow you to move it to more rigorous techniques

 

Place your circles on a sushi mat

 

And roll! I tend to count to 20, unroll, move the pieces to a different direction, re roll and start all over again. Continue this until your pieces hold together well.

Then I take the circle, find the centre , push it down into a funnel like shape, then place this back in the sushi mat and continue rolling

Continue rolling your flower until you are happy with how it has felted. I sometimes take mine to the kitchen sink which has that awesome drying area to one side. This is great for being extra rough on the felt and I can get a really nice thick felt rubbing it over this for a couple of minutes.

Then onto the flower centres. I have been making felt balls for this. I take some wool and twist it around my fingers until I have something that vaguely resembles at ball. I then use a needle felting needle to shape this into a nice neat ball

A nice neat ball shaped by needle felting it

I then take the nice ball I shaped by needle felting and wet felt it to make a nice firm ball. I simply add a little dishwashing liquid and run it under the tap (again, as hot as you can handle, don’t burn yourself!) and roll it in the palms of your hands. Channel your inner child from the days of rolling play-dough balls! Make sure you keep checking it so you don’t roll it into a funny shape!

Now you take all layers and sew them together. I find it easiest to sew one layer at a time, starting in the centre and working out.

Sewing the layers together.

I used this technique and variations of this technique to make all my flowers. You can vary how many layers you use for a different look. You can leave out the ball for the centres and just use beads instead. I went to town with the beads, stitching them around the ball in the centre.

These were made with three layers of circles. I added some sari silk to give it some texture.

And these ones have two layers of felt circles

Today I’m madly sewing stems and figuring out if I need to make any more flowers! Hopefully *cross my fingers and toes* I’ll be reporting the beginnings of my dress next week!

Until then, stay creative!

Paper towel flowers

Hey there!

Whilst I was making my wedding invitations I used a lot of paper towels to blot up excess dye. They looked so pretty I couldn’t throw them out, instead turning them into paper flowers.

This would be a great activity to get the kids doing! Especially after absorption experiments such as walking rainbows, colour mixing and colour separating. Personally, I just had tonnes of fun splashing dye around!

You will need :

  • paper towels
  • Food colouring
  • pipe cleaners
  • scissors
  • paint brushes/pipettes/spray bottle
  • jars or paint tray

To start, rip your paper towel off in squares. Then have fun colouring them. Use droppers to drop spots around, use brushes to brush colour on, use a spray bottle full of water to encourage the colours to move. Experiment. Have fun. I watered the dye down slightly, use glass jars, yogurt containers, plastic packaging to dillute colours in. If you need to move them around, be very careful as they will be fragile whilst wet. Leave them to dry before doing the next steps.

Once your towels are dry, make stacks of four.

take four paper towels

and make a stack

You will then need to concertina fold them. Fold all layers in about an inch along one side. Flip it over and fold it back the other way, the same distance as the last fold. Continue folding like this until you run out of paper to fold.

To begin the concertina fold, fold along one edge of the stack about an inch

flip it over and fold it back in the opposite direction

continue folding until you can’t fold anymore!

Using a pipecleaner, secure your papers by wrapping it around the center. Twist ends together.

Using the pipe cleaner, secure the folds by wrapping it around the middle

paper towels all secured with pipe cleaner

Cut the ends into a curve.

cut the ends so they are curved

and you should end up with something that looks a bit like this…

Gently tease the papers out. The paper towel I used was two-ply, so I separated those layers out too. You need to be very gently with this step as it is easy to tear the paper.

start gently teasing the papers out

gently tease all the layers out

gently tease and fluff out the layers, being careful not to rip the paper. Fluff until your happy with the results.

Fluff out the layers, and wala! you have a paper towel flower!

Make a bunch!

Use them as decorations, or make a bunch to give to some one special!

 

Slow Dyeing

I discovered in my dyeing research adventures, that using a slow cooker is a legit way to dye yarn, more specifically, wools and what not, as they need the heat source to set the dye.

Much to my delight, when a neighbor was having a clean out, I managed to grab a bag of yarn! And it was all white and natural colours! Perfect for dyeing!

Inside the bag was 7 and a bit balls of 4ply nylon/acrylic blend (all white) and 8 balls of cotton (half white, half natural). I was happy to find out that my “Landscape” dye would work on the nylon/acrylic blend! This presented the perfect opportunity to try out “Slow Dyed Yarn”

I picked myself up a cheap slow cooker, and set up a “Dye Studio” in the laundry. Some plastic table protector helps keep the washing machine and bench tops clean. The slow cooker sits nicely on top of the washing machine, whilst I have supplies and running water close at hand! (I’ve even cleared a shelf off to store stuff, so it has turned into quite the studio space, but shhhh told tell the housemates!)

Welcome to the Dye Studio!

To dye the yarn, I first skein it. I use a niddy noddy to wrap the yarn around, then some cotton string to tie it together in (at least) four places.

After that I soak it in a vinegar/water solution for half an hour, then gently squeeze out excess fluid, but leaving it fairly wet.

Whilst it is soaking I mixed the dyes. I have “Landscape Dyes” suitable for dyeing wool, silk and nylon.

Lay it in the slow cooker. I manage to get two skeins in at once.

Now apply dye as you wish. I’ve tried laying it on in stripes so far, but its open to a whole world of exploring!

Make sure you get dye right through the layers, as you might end up with patches that don’t come into contact with the dye and get patchy bits. This could be fun to experiment with too though! A gentle squeeze will also help get the dye through the layers, but be careful as this could result in colour mixing (something else to explore!)

Turn the slow cooker on high, place the lid on and let it do its thing. I have left it in for 3 hours whilst I do other stuff. The water should be fairly clear. Then I turn it off, Take the lid off and let it cool. Then rinse out until the water runs clear. If your dyeing wool you’ll need to be extra careful to keep everything a similar temperature to avoid felting, but I didn’t need to worry about that with this yarn! Once rinsed, its time to let the yarn dry. Squeeze it between a towel to get excess water off, then hang on a coat hanger to dry. I tend to hang a coat hanger with a towel on it to catch any drips. This is a habit I picked up from washing handspun, as it helps set the twist, but it works to keep things clean too.

Once dry, you can ball it up on a ball winder, ready to use! And its happy creating time!

And whilst I was doing all that, I was also dyeing up a storm using Drimarene K dyes on canvas shoes and the cotton yarn! Stay tuned to see how they came out!

 

 

Shopping Bag

When they banned single use plastic bags in Canberra, I decided to start making my own cloth bags. I based the pattern off a single use plastic bag, so I knew they would hold a fair amount of shopping! Since then, I never fail to get compliments on my bags, especially at the super market! I found that having bags that were awesome and that match our personalities really went a long way to smooth the transition to no plastic. That and actually wanting to make a change in hopes of creating a better future for our environment.

With NSW currently going through the transition, I thought it was about time I shared my pattern with the rest of the world! It might not be the simplest of patterns, the bias could be a bit tricky, but it makes a super bag that folds down small enough to stash one in your handbag.

Material – I like to use poplin. It comes in an awesome range of prints and is nice and lightweight. I have also used quilting cottons and drill. Of course the heavier fabrics will be much more sturdy, but Guy manages to stuff 6 2L cartons of milk in one bag without breaking it, so poplin has been more than strong enough! I always buy 60cm of 112cm wide fabric. This gives me a little wriggle room. 1m of bias binding should be enough to edge the top parts, I usually buy it in 3m packs. A contrasting colour is nice, or pick out a colour that matches in with the design on the fabric. If your not too confident with bias, go with the wider stuff, as it will be easier to make sure you catch the fabric.

So first you’ll need to download my pdf shopping bag pattern and print it out. I put a 5x5cm square on it that you can measure so you can make sure it prints at the right size.

You will also have to tape these together and cut it out. The pattern already includes seam allowance.

Next up, lay out your fabric. The pattern calls for two pieces cut on the fold. I cut both at once, so I fold the fabric with selvages together, then fold in half again, so the fold is against the selvages. Place your pattern piece with the “cut on fold” up against the edge of the fold, and the other edge towards the selvages. Pin and cut out.

All going well, you should have two pieces that look like this –

Now for the fiddly bit – applying bias around the handles and top edges. Use pins. Lots of them. Some people have feet for their sewing machine that can help with this part too. I don’t. So I use lots of pins, and play close attention to the curved parts, really making sure its well on. Carefully stitch along the bias, staying close the the edge of the tape.

Now it’s time to start stitching the bag together. Lay the two pieces right sides together. Pin along the sides, and the top of the handles where we did not put bias. Sew along these edges. leave 1/2 inch seam allowance. You can overlock these seams. I don’t have an over locker, so I stitch the seams first, then go back and do a zigzag along the raw edge to stop it from fraying.

Turn the bag right sides out and press. Now we work on the bottom seam. To do that, first we need to fold each side in. Fold the handles in half, bringing the edge furthest to the outside, under to meet the edge towards the centre. Press the rest of the fabric to sit flat into the fold. You should have a fold of fabric approx 12cm. Pin. Repeat for other handle and side.

The outer edges of the handle fold under and the edges fold in

A more detailed photo of how the handles fold in and under

You can see that I have folded and pressed one side and not the other. This is what it should look like.

Stitch along the bottom leaving 1/2 inch seam allowance. Trim as necessary.

Turn the bag inside out, making sure everything is sitting flat. Pin the folds down so they don’t move. You will stitch along the bottom edge again, enclosing the previous seam.

Turn the bag right sides out again. Put a couple of stitches along the handles to make them stay folded, and your done!

They fold down neatly so you can stash them in your handbag

A tiny selection of previous bags. These ones have been in circulation for about 5 or so years now.