DIY Pinata

DIY Pinata | Pattern . Paint . PanYesterday was my oldest nephew’s 8th birthday, they were here in Cornwall on holiday and my sister had mentioned how he’d like a pinata, so to avoid packing for my very imminent house move I decided to DIY one. Lots of tutorials use paper mache, but that seemed like too much mess, so I went with cardboard and tape. Lots of tape.

You will need:

  • cardboard – I used 2 cereal boxes
  • sticky tape – I used brown packing tape for the construction and regular tape to attach the tissue paper
  • scissors
  • string, yarn or ribbon – length depends on where you’re hanging it, but a finished length of 2-3m-ish. Mine was 6 x 3m lengths of yarn.
  • sweets/chocolate – preferably things that can’t get crushed. I didn’t think about that and the chocolate bars and chewy bars were a bit squashed/broken, whereas the jelly sweets were fine.

What to do:

  1. Cut the narrow sides of the cereal boxes off the front and back pieces of the box.
  2. Overlap these narrow strips and tape together to make one long strip. This will become the sides of the pinata.
  3. Using a front piece of a box, draw the shape for the front/back of your pinata. Cut out 4 pieces.
  4. Using the packing tape, stick 2 of the front/back pieces together and repeat for the remaining 2 pieces.DIY Pinata | Pattern . Paint . Pan
  5. Using the packing tape, stick the long cardboard strip to one of the front/back pieces. Leave a gap so you can fill the pinata later.
  6. Repeat to add the other front/back piece to the pinata, again leaving a gap.DIY Pinata | Pattern . Paint . Pan
  7. Fill your pinata with the sweets/chocolate.
  8. Tape the gap shut.
  9. Make your hanging string: double/treble/quadruple or more your yarn/string, and tie a knot at each end to keep the strands together.
  10. Find the centre of your yarn/string, and tape this to the bottom of your pinata. Add more tape on either side. I stopped taping at the widest part of the top.DIY Pinata | Pattern . Paint . Pan
  11. Cut your tissue paper into5cm strips and cut fronds into each strip.
  12. Tape a rectangle of tissue paper to the bottom of the pinata.DIY Pinata | Pattern . Paint . Pan
  13. Add the frond strips around the pinata using regular sticky tape from the bottom up, overlapping by 3-4cm. I put tiny bits of tape at each corner and in the middle of the front & back pieces.
  14. Cut the fronds shorter just above where the string is.
  15. Hang, bash and eat!DIY Pinata | Pattern . Paint . Pan

I was a bit worried that my pinata would explode after a couple of hits, but it lasted for over 15 minutes of kid-hitting before the grown-ups gave it a couple of whacks to help the splitting. We did use a foam-type bat though, so using a wooden one would speed things up.


Almost Ava Again (and DIY piping cord)

Ava | Pattern . Paint . PanMy last Ava is probably one  of my most worn Me-Mades despite it’s issues because it’s looser fit makes it so comfy and it also seems less dressy than my various Simplicity 2444s. So I thought it was about time I took a break from S2444 and re-tried Ava. This is some cheapo (£2.18/m) floral polycotton and contrast navy polycotton (£3.06/m) from Trago Mills (just for a change!). I still have over 1/2 a metre (of 2m purchased) of the floral and 1/2 of the 0.5m of the navy left, so the dress was £4.83, plus a £0.04 Malaysian zipper from my stash.

Even though the sizing guide gives finished garment measurements, when I measured the actual pattern pieces, I found there was a massive difference, which would explain why my first dress was so loose. Here’s the sizing chart from the pattern:IMG_6424a

However when I measured the pattern pieces and minused the seam allowances (5/8″ or 1.6cm), the finished garment size for the size 12 was 113cm at the chest and 86cm at the waist. What??Ava | Pattern . Paint . PanSo I decided to go down two sizes and make the 8 this time. I also redrew the seam line between the back upper and lower bodice to be a straight line as I think the original curved line kind of emphasises the curve in my spine.Ava | Pattern . Paint . PanI also decided to try my hand at piping, but as it was all a bit of a whim I had to DIY some piping cord by twisting 4 strands of the yarn I’m using on my jumper (yes, it’s still in progress, 1/2 an arm and the hood to go) then using my widest zig-zag stitch to bind them together. I haven’t used piping before so I can’t comment on how it is in comparison, or how it will wash (cheapo acrylic yarn that’s meant to be machine washable at 40), but I like the effect. From a distance the piping matches up either side of the zipper, but up close the bottom line is out by a few mm’s, but not enough that I could be bothered to redo it.Ava | Pattern . Paint . PanI had to re-sew the centre of the ‘v’ between the two front bodice sections because I stupidly thought I could get away with not stay stitching and just pinning loads. It made a nasty, wonky ‘v’, but once I stay-stitched the ‘v’ on both pieces, they came together well are are pretty even. Ava | Pattern . Paint . PanInstead of doubling over my bias binding the neck and arm holes, I used the bias binding as a sort of reverse facing. All the interior seams are serged because I was being too lazy to french them, and the hem is serged, double turned under and machine stitched. I made covers for the top and bottom of the zip to stop any scratching and look nicer!Ava | Pattern . Paint . PanAs you can see in the top zipper cover photo, I ended up having to increase the SA at the top of the bodice by 1.5cm, tapering into the original seam line about 5cm above the waist, as there was still a lot of gape especially if I raised my arms. And I couldn’t be bothered to trim and re-serge the edges obviously.

Altogether, despite how grumpy I look in the photos, I’m pretty happy with this version; it is a better fit, but then I can’t be  fatty and eat too much, and I’m not 100% convinced about the fabric. I think something other than floral should be next…except I have one last piece of floral in my stash to use up.Ava | Pattern . Paint . Pan

Mosaic Letters

Mosaic letter | Pattern . Paint . PanI suppose I’m a bit of a craft butterfly, flicking from one type of project to the next depending on what I’ve not been able to pass by without buying, what random things I’ve been given/upcycled or what I’ve seen on Pinterest/blogs. This project is no exception being a combination of the above. My Nan had bought a load of random, colourful plates from car boot sales years ago to make a mosaic for her garden but never got round to it. I thought it would be fun for us to do some crafting together, and when I saw this project at the end of last year after a google search, I really wanted to try it. I originally made a ‘G’ back at Christmas for my niece’s bedroom door, along with a mosaic-ed jewellery box, and then an ‘N & M’ for my sister and her boyfriend back in the spring (plus a sequined ‘&’). Mosaic Letters | Pattern . Paint . PanAt the same time I started a ‘B’ for myself, but it sat half finished until this week when I decided that with my imminent house move, I should get all my half-done projects completed.

To make your own mosaic letter, you will need:

  • Cardboard letter (mine were £0.99 at Trago Mills)
  • Plate to smash up (check out charity shops, car boot sales or ask your family/friends)
  • Old towel to cover plate while smashing it up
  • Hammer (I used a cross-peen hammer for accuracy – that’s the one with a wedge shaped hammer head)
  • Safety glasses (optional but advisable)
  • PVA glue (or other glue that doesn’t set too fast)
  • Glue spreader (I used a piece of cardboard!)
  • Tile grout (available at DIY stores, my small bag was £1.19 and still has some left after 5 letters)
  • Disposable container to mix grout (yoghurt pot etc)
  • Old spoon to mix grout
  • Sandpaper
  • Paper towels
  • White paint (I used some gloss paint as I like the shine, but emulsion, acrylic or poster paint could also work).
  • Paint brush

And this is what to do:

  • Decide if there are any motifs you want to keep whole on your plate. Mine had a flying bird so I made sure that I was more careful when breaking around that area.
  • Wrap your plate in the towel and (wearing your safety specs) break your plate with the hammer so the pieces are around 1cm or smaller. I tried to get a range of shapes and sizes and sorted them by size to make arranging the mosaic easier.
  • Select pieces with right angles for any corners, and decide where you want any specific motifs to go.
  • Cover part of your letter in PVA glue (I did about 1/4 at a time).
  • Starting with your corner/specific motif, place your mosaic pieces into the glue. As the glue takes a while to dry, I found I didn’t need to plan where each piece would go (and I can never transfer the pieces into exactly the same place anyway).Mosaic letter | Pattern . Paint . Pan
  • Once the whole letter has been covered, allow the glue to dry fully.
  • Mix your grout according to the directions on the packet in the disposable container with the old spoon. Mine was 3 parts powder to 1 part water, and I ended up using 4 tbsp of powder and 4 tsp of water).Mosaic letter | Pattern . Paint . Pan
  • I found it easiest to use my finger to squish the grout into the grooves but I did get some little cuts from the sharp edges, so maybe a flexible spatula would be better. Make sure you grout the edges of the letter too, but don’t worry too much about getting grout onto the cardboard. Use your finger to straighten the edges of the grout and remove any excess grout from the crockery pieces.Mosaic letter | Pattern . Paint . Pan
  • Once the grout has completely dried, use the sandpaper to remove any excess grout from the cardboard and remove any bumpy bits around the edge.Mosaic letter | Pattern . Paint . Pan
  • Scrap off any excess grout from the crockery pieces (I used a bobby pin hair clip, but on previous versions I just used my fingernail as there wasn’t as much to remove) and then a dampened paper towel to clean any dust off.
  • Paint the cardboard white, leaving to dry between coats.Mosaic letter | Pattern . Paint . Pan
  • Admire your handiwork!

I really love my letter and think it’s a great cheap project as I only had to buy the cardboard letters and grout, so approximately £1.20 per letter, but I’ve seen strong PVA in the DIY section of pound shops, as well as different paints, so even if you had to buy these it wouldn’t be too expensive.Mosaic letters | Pattern . Paint . Pan

Same Same But Different

Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . PanI think I’m definitely getting my money’s worth with Simplicity 2444. It’s the perfectionist in me wanting to get it as close to right as I can figure out how to. I really thought I’d nailed the chest bagginess this time, but perhaps changing the neckline brought a bit of it back.Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . PanAfter my last version, I overlapped my adjusted pattern by 1cm at the neckline and added it to the waist darts, before redrawing the neckline to be lower and wider. Now I think it should be a couple of centimetres lower.Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . PanI also decided to try an all-in-one facing rather than fully lining the bodice for two reasons; 1) I’ve not done any kind of facing before, and 2) I was getting fed up of having to trace, pin and sew 12 darts for every lined bodice. I interfaced and overlocked the facing before attaching to the bodice. I did sew the original pleat skirt but it just wasn’t looking right, so I ripped it off and just gathered it. I did my second blind hem by hand because I felt like doing some hand sewing (that lasted about 15 minutes max).Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . PanFor some reason, this is the first time I’ve sewn pockets into any of my dresses, which is wrong because pockets are virtually essential.Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . PanThe fabric is a polycotton I had on my Ebay watch list but then found at Trago Mills for less (£2.18/m) and as a double bonus, I was only charged for 1m of my 2m (I later found out there was a patch about 2cm from one selvedge edge that was mis-printed for about 5cm, so perhaps that was why, but it was small enough not to effect my cutting out). It’s definitely not great quality fabric, but it’s fine for a £2 summer dress. You can’t get a dubiously produced budget high street dress for that!Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . Pan

Pattern Hacking 2444

Hacking Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . PanI debated whether or not to post this dress, but in the interests of being unbiased and sharing my not-as-successful projects too, here it is (plus the unfortunate sight of me without makeup).

I’d been interested in having a go at rotating bodice darts, and seeing as Simplicity 2444 was the closest, well fitting pattern to me at that precise point when motivation struck, that was my base. However, it presented problems due to the original dart positions, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure if what I did a) was correct or b) would work. I didn’t take photos of my steps as I went, but this is what I did to produce 2 darts that both point towards the bust point (as opposed to the 2 diagonal darts, neither of which point exactly to my bust point):

  1. Found the bust point by trying on my white & blue S2444 and then marking this point on my pattern copy.
  2. Mark the middle of each of the original darts at the bodice bottom.
  3. Draw a line between this middle point and the bust point. Repeat for 2nd dart.
  4. Measure 2cm down from the bust point to mark the dart apex point.
  5. Draw lines between the dart apex point and the original ends of each dart leg on the bodice bottom. (Think how clever you are and how you’ll never have to buy another pattern ever again).

I then rotated one dart to be a waist dart with a vertical central line and the other to be a bust dart with a horizontal central line.   Hacking Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . PanBut then, after all that faffing around, I chose to use some gingham fabric that has a bit of stretch to it, so in the end, I can’t really tell exactly how well my alterations have worked. Fool.

I bought this brown and cream gingham fabric from a fabric shop on Ebay and I’m pretty sure they mistyped the price, as when I purchased it, it was £0.99/m with free P&P. To be fair, I did wait a few days to see if they noticed and changed the price, but then saw that other people had bought some so thought I might as well and could just use it as a muslin. It was advertised as a brushed cotton, but I’m not convinced at all. On the plus side, it’s quite thick so no see-through-ness is going on. The stretch did give me a bit of trouble with pattern matching in a few places, but I was also pleasantly surprised as most of it does match up (although some of my top stitching leaves a lot to be desired).Hacking Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . PanI also drafted a peter pan type collar and a-line, curved hem skirt, both finished with a binding, and a faux placket that I haven’t got around to adding buttons to. As the fabric was so stretchy, I didn’t need to add any fastenings, however when I cut out my pieces, I forgot to minus the centre back seam allowance before I cut it on the fold, which also doesn’t help me see how my alterations fit!Hacking Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . PanI think in a different fabric, it could be wayyyy better, but in this I kind of feel like a dinner lady or a cleaner. It’s been worn around the house a few times because it is comfy and a decent length, but I’m not convinced it’ll ever be worn in public! However, I have another dart hacked 2444 peplum pattern drafted, but it also involves stripe matching and so far is proving to require too much brain power to cut the fabric. Sometime soon!Hacking Simplicity 2444 | Pattern . Paint . Pan

Blackcurrant Gin Recipe

Blackcurrant Gin | Pattern . Paint . Pan Almost a month ago I bought a carton of blackcurrants at a farmers / craft market in Wadebridge, with no idea of what to do with them. After a bit of googling, I was momentarily torn between blackcurrant gin and blackcurrant biscuit slice, but it wasn’t too tough a decision. After a bit more research into different gin recipes, I found there was quite a lot of variation in the amount of sugar added, and seeing as I like sweet things, I chose one with lots of sugar! Blackcurrant Gin | Pattern . Paint . PanThe recipe couldn’t be simpler (1/3 fruit, 1/3 sugar, fill up with gin); the most time consuming step is pricking (stabbing) every currant, but of course, there are also many, many days of your bottle/jar sitting in a dark cupboard tempting you to drink it. My willpower didn’t last long, but I’ll try to pass it off on being intrigued as to how the flavour would change over time. After one week it still tasted quite strongly of alcohol (complete with face scrunching grimace), but by week 3 the fruit and sugar had masked that (delicious and dangerous!). Blackcurrant Gin | Pattern . Paint . PanIt’s very drinkable straight or topped off with lemonade for a grown up version of blackcurrant cordial/squash! I’ve been shoving it in front of anyone who comes near me and it’s been universally approved (or at least it has to my face!). I now have big plans to experiment with other fruits; this page has a lot of information as does this blog.Blackcurrant Gin | Pattern . Paint . Pan

Scrap-busting Handbag Organiser

Handbag Organiser | Pattern . Paint . PanMy handbag is a black hole. Forget the billions spent on space exploration and CERN experiments, just come study my bag instead.  I think it’s shape is partly to blame, plus the fact that I feel like I must carry loads of things because one day I might need them. The only reason I can find my wallet is because it’s pretty massive, but trying to find anything smaller is a right mission, and always a million times worse when there’s any kind of urgency (ringing phone, keys in the rain etc). And forget choosing another bag instead, this is my AUD$8 real leather Op-Shop bargain from Albany, WA back in 2009 and I am never parting from it.Handbag Organiser | Pattern . Paint . PanI did a bit of googling, and even made a pinterest board, but then got distracted. In frustration last summer, I tipped everything out and made a list of what I apparently ‘need’ in my bag but then got distracted. This was repeated again in April, when I also measured everything and made some scale plans…and got distracted. So on Tuesday I finally decided I had to do something about the mess, pulled out all my fabric stash and stared at it for way too long trying to find some inspiration. I decided on using all my green/aqua/blue scraps of various patterns (which make up a high percentage of my total scrap pieces) plus a piece of heavy white upholstery type fabric, some black linen type fabric, cream polycotton, black and white Ikea duvet cover and white winceyette. Score for a totally free project!Handbag Organiser | Pattern . Paint . PanI was having trouble figuring out which part of my organiser to make out of which fabric and keeping track of how many I needed to cut of each pattern piece, so I drew out each rectangle on some wrapping paper and layered the pieces up as the organiser would be. Then I wrote the fabric type and number of pieces needed on the front and back of each paper piece which made cutting and then assembling much easier. Handbag Organiser | Pattern . Paint . PanI reinforced the two large sides and the base with some plastic sheets I recycled off a ring bound folder thing. Together with the pretty heavy upholstery fabric I think it gives an OK level of stiffness while still being flexible. I used the winceyette to line the pockets for my kindle and phone, to hopefully give a bit of screen protection, and lined the make-up pocket in black to hopefully hide any marks better. Handbag Organiser | Pattern . Paint . PanThe sewing was pretty simple. The only trouble I had was right at the end, when I tried to attach the base piece to the sides, as by that point there was up to 15 layers of fabric! I broke 3 needles before giving up and hand stitching the remaining 3 sides to the base (my fingers were not impressed especially as I don’t have a thimble down here!). I then hand stitched the bias binding to the edges as my attempt at machine stitching it was hideous. Also the flaps on one side are rather useless as I didn’t take into account how much longer they’d need to be to fit around the items in the pocket. I changed the direction of the centre pocket to make a closure tab as the weight of my kindle was pulling it out of shape.Handbag Organiser | Pattern . Paint . PanSo what do I think I need to carry in my bag?Handbag organiser | Pattern . Paint . PanOverall, when my stuff is in the organiser, there’s definitely less space for additional items (before I could cram my netbook in there if I needed) but hopefully the organised-ness of it will outweigh that. I’ll have to see how it works out!Handbag Organiser | Pattern . Paint . Pan

The Tiniest Clothes

Little Geranium Dress & Perfect Diaper Cover | Pattern . Paint . PanI’m one of 5 girls and 2 boys, but that trend seems to have been reversed in the next generation as I so far have 5 nephews and only one niece, who I was 9000 miles away from when she was a baby.

So when one of my closest friends had a baby girl, my plans to make burp cloths from some Makower jungle animals fabric went out the window when I realised I finally could make tiny dresses!Little Geranium Dress | Pattern . Paint . PanI settled on the free Little Geranium dress by Made By Rae and Perfect Diaper Cover by Dana Made It, with some mini blue and white floral cotton from Trago Mills. To be honest, it was a bit of a mission choosing fabric, trying to take into account my taste, my friend’s taste, my friend’s husband’s taste and suitability of colours and patterns for a tiny baby, but at least I’m happy with it!

I followed the directions for the dress despite my normal construction method for a lined bodice being different, and next time I’ll go back to my old way as I just find it easier. My skirt gathering was a little crap as I stupidly didn’t mark half and quarter points to line up with the bodice. I used sew in poppers instead of button holes as apparently they are easier to un/fasten than buttons. Overall, it wasn’t as fast to sew as I thought it would be, but this was down to the fiddliness of sewing something so small when I’m more used to sewing for at least an age 5. It’s a great basic pattern with big potential for variations, and is also available in larger sizes (0-5 and 6-12years) for $10 each size group.

Perfect Diaper Cover | Pattern . Paint . PanThe instructions for the nappy cover are equally easy to follow, but this time I did ignore them for the leg binding. I did try it Dana’s way with folding the fabric in on itself to make a tube for the elastic, but I couldn’t get over how unpretty all the wrinkles were. Instead I made some bias binding, sewed it to the wrong side and folded it all over to the front. I actually prefer the look of this as then the inside only has a row of stitches and no ridge of fabric that could rub the skin. I french seamed the side and crotch seams. I’m not sure how what size little I is now, but her birth weight was about average, so I used the amount of elastic given in the instructions.

I’m really happy with how my gifts turned out, and I’m just hoping they fit for at least a little bit. I don’t know how practical they are really, but every girl should have a pretty dress, even if she’s not yet 3 weeks old! Now to find more baby girls to sew for…

(Apologies for the dodgy photos, these were the trial ones to find which background was best, but I was so excited to get it in the mail that I forgot to take proper photos the next day, duh.)Little Geranium Dress & Perfect Diaper Cover | Pattern . Paint . Pan

Another Wedding Anniversary Pyrography

Wedding Anniversary Pyrography | Pattern . Paint . PanAfter I finished my parent’s wedding anniversary chopping board, I had a bit of a pyrography bug, and made something similar for my sister and brother-in-law.

This time I used a what was labelled as a frame, size 11.5cm x 8mm thick, with a curly screw hook (that’s it’s technical name!) and twine loop, but I can’t find anything similar on google or ebay, which would probably suggest I’m using the wrong search terms. It was in the section with the other wooden items for decoupage and crafting in Trago Mills, and was a bargainous price, no joke.  Wedding Anniversary Pyrography | Pattern . Paint . PanI originally was going to edit my original graphic with new names and date, but then decided it would be just as easy to start again, this time making it the right size from the start. It was definitely much quicker this time around.

Due to the lip on the frame, I cut a circle of graphite paper to fit inside the ring, and traced on the design as before.Wedding Anniversary Pyrography | Pattern . Paint . PanThis wood was much easier to burn, although that also presented problems with having to avoid burn spots if I held the pen too long in one place. Despite making an effort to avoid the lip, I managed to get too close once and the heat from the pen barrel made a burn mark. I tried to sandpaper it off, but although it made it less obvious, it was still visible. My white acrylic paint had run out so I grabbed some oil paint, and then wondered why it still hadn’t dried days later. Duh. So, the oil paint got wiped off, leaving a slightly paler edge, and that burn is still visible, grrr.

I’m happy the result and as a bonus, it’s light enough to be held up by some tape (classy!) so they don’t have to bother with nails in their rental until their house hunt is successful.Wedding Anniversary Pyrography | Pattern . Paint . Pan


Wedding Anniversary Pyrography

Anniversary Chopping Board | Pattern . Paint . Pan My parents celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary this week, and although we don’t normally do presents for anniversaries, I thought it’d be a good excuse to bring out my pyrography pen, plus it seems to be a lot easier to think of gifts rather than something to burn for myself.

So, after a bit of googling for inspiration, I attempted to create a design in GIMP (too much brain power required), Paint (too simplistic) and Inkscape (first time I’d used it so too much effort to figure it out), before finally using OpenOffice Draw. I didn’t think about sizing until I’d virtually finished, so ended up having to export as a PDF from Draw, convert to a jpeg in GIMP then copy, paste and resize back in Draw.Anniversary Chopping Board | Pattern . Paint . PanI printed out my design, then used a sheet of this graphite paper I’d found the day before at Trago Mills for £1.25 to transfer it onto the chopping board, which was way easier and produced a better transfer than my previous DIY graphite paper. I also used a ruler on any straight lines to hopefully prevent wobbliness.Anniversary Chopping Board | Pattern . Paint . PanThe pyrography took longer than I thought, as everything but the crosshatching had to be outlined then filled in, but I’m pretty impressed with the results! I ended up not burning the two horizontal lines as I liked it without and thought I might be pushing my luck to get two perfectly straight, long lines! I totally didn’t pay attention to the grain of the wood until I’d finished, which is now super annoying.

Anyway, congratulations Mum & Dad, 32 years and 7 children is a rarity these days! May there be many more happy years to come (and no doubt more grandchildren!).Anniversary Chopping Board |Pattern . Paint . Pan