Tuesday, 22 April 2014

New Deliveries! And A Babygrow Play-Cube Tutorial

Well a lot of things have been happening at The Eternal Maker since we last spoke, as always we've had lots of lovely new deliveries of fabric but we've also had some bigger events going on in our lives too, like planning a new roof for our shop and one very special new delivery - our first Eternal Maker baby!
Yes, we are pleased to announce that our shop manager Rachael had a baby boy shortly after Christmas last year, so in his honour, here's a simple make, for all new arrivals. It can be made with cotton jersey fabric or upcycled babygrows - a lovely way to get more use from those first favourite outfits!

You will need:

At least three babygrows or vests (we used four, first size, vests)
Or..... a selection of any other fabrics. Cotton jerseys give you a lovely soft finish and organic options are great for chewing too! (One long quarter will be enough for your cube but it will look nicer if you use a variety of fabrics) Brushed cottons or minky-type "cuddles" fabric will give you fun textures for feeling.
One long quarter of Vilene
Some toy stuffing
Needles and thread and/or sewing machine
Scraps of "Bondaweb" if doing any applique
Jingle bells and child proof pot, or teddy squeakers, are optional

1) If you are using fabric by the metre skip to next instruction.
If you are using babygrows or vests, start by cutting away any seams and poppers, leaving the largest pieces of flat fabric you can. From vests you will get one piece from the front and one from the back. From babygrows you may get two pieces from the front or back.
2) Measure your fabric pieces to work out the largest size square you can cut from them. We managed to get 6" squares. Cut six 6" squares (or your required size) from your Vilene and mark 1/2" seam allowance guides on all edges with a pencil on the side that ISN'T iron-on (as shown in the picture below). Iron these Vilene squares onto the reverse of your vest or fabric pieces. We have placed some diagonally because we wanted the stripes on the finished cube to be diagonal.
3) Iron the Vilene squares down on the reverse of your fabric and cut out the fabric following the edges of the Vilene. You will need 6 squares to make your cube.
4) We wanted to be a bit fancy and add some applique - if you don't want to do this skip to instruction number 8.
These vests had little animal pictures on that we wanted to use. We cut a heart shape from "bondaweb" that matched the size of the applique we wanted to attach. Then we ironed this on the reverse of the picture - making sure to centre the picture as best as possible.
5)Then we cut out the heart shape from the fabric following the edge of the ironed-on "bondaweb" heart. Removed the paper backing and then ironed on the hearts onto the centre of a couple of the cube squares.
6) So you should now have 6 Vilene-backed squares with any applique on you fancy.
7) Use a small zig-zag stitch to sew on any applique.
8) Start stitching the squares together. Lay them with right sides facing each other and stitch together, following the 1/2" seam allowance guide. Make sure you begin and finish you stitching where the two seam allowance guides cross (otherwise your cube's corners won't work).

9) Continue joining squares to form a cross shape.
10) When you join the squares next door to other squares make sure to stop where the seam allowance guides cross - this will give you a nice sharp corner.

11) Keep working - stitching all the seams together - pulling your work up into a cube as you go. Be careful to only ever sew through two layers of fabric - it's easy to catch another layer in your stitching near the corners so make sure extra layers are pulled out of the way as you go.
12) Make sure you leave a gap in the final seam you join for turning. To keep your corners sharp - leave this gap in the centre of one seam and stitch together the final corners as before.
13) Tie off any threads and turn your cube the right way out.
14) We wanted our cube to rattle so we placed jingle bells inside a child-proof pot and put this inside the cube, well surrounded by stuffing. This is entirely optional, if you are not happy using a child-proof pot you could add teddy squeakers or just stuff the cube normally. Make sure you push stuffing hard into the corners of the cube to help it keep it's shape.
15) Sew up the hole you stuffed your cube through and you're finished!

All you need now is to find a small person to enjoy it!


Thursday, 19 December 2013

New shop samples!

The girls are busy making up new samples for the shop and I thought I'd write about this one on the blog quickly! This tote is so simple to make and we've got a free DIY tutorial for it here! The outer, lining and straps fabric all came from the same single 80cm cut of fabric and because the fabric used is so fantastically different across the whole width, it makes the perfect reversible bag! The fabric used is Echino Decoro 2013 Rhythm, which you can find here amongst some other great options!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Little House Playmat Sew Along - Week Five

Welcome to the fifth and final week of our little house playmat sew-along! We hope you've enjoyed the project so far, we certainly have. Firstly I have to apologise for the slight delay in getting this post out - we lost power for a few days which caused a little bit of panic but it's all back now - phew!  This week we will be making the little critters who live in your playmat - not only are these really cute on their own, they would make excellent christmas decorations if you add a little bit of ribbon! - OK, let's begin!

This week you will need: 
First things first, you'll need to print out your three A4 sheets of templates. Each of the links below will open up printable PDF files, when printing make sure you un-tick any box that says 'Shrink to fit', as this will alter the size of the pattern pieces.

Cut out your paper templates and pin them to the chosen coloured felts and cut out as directed. We used our lovely woolfelts in a variety of plain and marl colours.
Mark any embroidery you need to do with a disappearing fabric maker – we found a “Sewline Duo Pen and Eraser Pen” was really useful at this stage.

To sew on the creatures eyes – take the white eye circle and place in position – then use running stitches very close to each other in varying sizes to create the pupil – this will also attach the white eye circle.
Using  photo 2 below as a guide, hand embroider the following components and remember if you have cut out two pieces for a creature these both need to be embroidered but in a mirror image to each other.
If you need a helping-hand with your embroidery, I've included a handy simple stitch guide for you here.
Photo 2
The Hedgehog’s Spikes – add some black v-shaped spikes

The Hedgehog's body – add a nose and mouth and an eye – sewing on the white eye circle as described earlier

The Squirrel's body – add running stitch black stripes to the tail, add a black V shape to accentuate the ear. Stitch a mouth and nose, and attach and stitch the eye as you did for the hedgehog.

The Duckling's Body – Attach the eye circle and stitch the pupil as before.

The Bear's snouts – add a nose and mouth

Owl’s Tummy – Stitch on some back V shapes for feathers

Owl’s Eyes – Stitch the black inner eyes onto the white outer eye pieces using the same method as before. 

Wool Label – Stitch the word wool in black across the label

Ball of Wool – Stitch straight lines of running stitch in a complimentary colour to the felt you have chosen to suggest the threads of wool.   

Parcel – use a back stitch to sew what looks like string or ribbon tying up the parcel

Cake Case – use a running stitch to make the creases in the cake case

Cake Icing – sew on the red circle cherries using the same method as when you attach the creatures’ eyes.

Now you need to appliqué on some components using the sewing machine, and machine sew some components together – remember you can stitch and then trim pieces you are stitching together for extra neatness. Have a look at photo 3 below for guidance. Also, don’t forget if you are working on both sides of a creatures to make the two sides, mirror images of each other.
Photo 3
Hedgehogs Body - Machine sew the hedgehog’s spikes to the hedgehogs body, working down from his forehead, around the ear and down to the foot – repeat for both sides  of hedgehogs body in mirror image.

Duckling – Sew together the two beak pieces. Sew together the two feet pieces and put to one side.

Bear – Sew together the two snout/nose pieces. Appliqué on the bears’ ear pieces – remembering to work in mirror image.

 Owl - Sew together the owl’s two feet pieces. Then machine appliqué - onto one body piece only – the owl’s tummy, beak and eyes.

Ball of wool – machine stitch the wool label across the centre of one of the wool ball pieces.

Cake – machine sew on the icing onto the top of the cake, working only along the wiggly bottom edge of  the icing. Then sew on the cake cases to the bottom of both the cake pieces.

(Note: you don’t have to do any machine stitching for the squirrel or parcel at this stage)
Now begins the sewing together of the creatures – hoorah!

For these stages you can also refer to photo 4 below – which shows the finished creatures in all their glory.

Hedgehog – Place your two completed hedgehog body pieces together with the wrong sides facing each other. You may want to pin these together while you are stitching. Machine stitch around the edges, working around 3 to 4mm from the edge at all times, joining the two sides together. Start your stitching at the bottom edge of the hedgehog’s lower foot and stitch up around the body, then follow the edge of each spike and the down until you reach the bottom of his spikes – leave the bottom of the hedgehogs body open and use toy stuffing to stuff through this gap. Use enough to give the hedgehog a little body but not make him too plump (A pencil or chopstick will help you poke stuffing into all his spikes and nose etc.) Once plump enough, sew up the open gap using the machine and tie off, secure  and tidy up any loose threads. As a last finishing touch you can trim any excess felt from the edges of your work – you can go down to about 2mm away from the stitch line (just be careful not to cut through your stitching at any stage).

Squirrel – He’s nice and easy – just place the two body pieces with their wrong sides facing, pin, sew, stuff, trim and finish in exactly the same manner as the hedgehog.

Duckling – Place the two body pieces together with wrong sides facing and slip the beak and feet pieces in between the layers and pin in place. Starting at the duck’s chin, machine stitch along the edge of the duckling head enclosing and secure the beak as you go. Work around the rest of the duckling’s head and wing – sew into the main part of the body following the line of the wing to give shape to the wing. Stop stitching  in the middle on the body – turn and stitch back to the edge of your work following this line of wing stitching, then continue to work around the edge following around the tail and bottom of the duckling – secure the feet with stitching as you did with the beak and then remember to leave a gap for stuffing as before. Trim and finish.

Bear – Firstly place the two bodies pieces wrong sides together and insert the snout in the correct position and pin in place in between the two body layers. The bear is slightly different as some portions of him (his ear, tail and one arm and one leg) are sealed off with stitching and won’t be stuffed.

Start stitching at the base of the chin and firstly enclose and secure the snout, and then begin working your way around the body - refer to diagram 1 for the direction of your stitching.
Diagram 1
Leave a gap between his arm and snout for stuffing. Stuff the bear lightly and you will need to use a pencil or chopstick to poke stuffing into all the parts. Finish in the normal manner.

Owl – Place your two owl body pieces together and insert the foot piece at the base between the layers.  Starting at the base of the owl, machine stitch as normal, enclosing and securing the foot piece as you go. Work all the way around the body, stuffing and finishing in the normal manner.

Ball of Wool – Place your two ball of wool pieces together with wrong sides facing – stitch around the edge, stuff and finish as normal – easy!

Cake – Place your Cake pieces together with wrongs sides facing each other. Starting at the base of the cake, stitch around the edge, stuff and finish again in the same manner.

Parcel – Hey, we’ve saved the easiest to last! With wrong sides together stitch around the parcel shape, stuff and finish as normal!
Photo 4
And that's it, you've completed all your little critters for the house playmat! Don't forget you can easily alter these by sewing in a piece of ribbon to make christmas (or any-time-of-year) Decorations! We hope you've enjoyed our sew-along as much as we have here at The Eternal Maker! If you've completed any part of this project we'd love to see!

Monday, 4 November 2013

For anyone that's been following the little house playmat sew-along; due to a slight technical difficulty we've had in the shop over the past couple of days we're having to push week 5 back to Thursday 7th November instead of today. We're so sorry for any inconvenience caused by this, we'll be sure to announce when the next instalment is available.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Little House Playmat Sew Along - Week Four


Welcome to week four of our little house playmat sew-along! This week we will be stitching together all the finished components, you’ve been working so hard on, to produce your house playmat.

The construction of the playmat is in itself simple but the need for accuracy is quite important. As is the need for quite a bit of patience – we don’t recommend doing these stages if you are in a rush!  You will be sewing through a lot of elements in one go and fitting a lot of components together at once, so please don’t become disheartened if the dreaded unpicker has to come out – we can assure you that we had to use ours on a couple of occasions! Remember to refer back to week one if you need clarification of the names of the different parts of the playmat.
Having said that, this should be a very satisfying week for you all – your playmat will finally look like a playmat!

So let’s begin.....
Firstly lay your central house panel sized piece of wadding onto your work surface, now lay the house panel, with it’s right side facing up, on top.  Lay the brick fabric back house panel on top of this, with the right sides of the two fabrics facing each other. In between this sandwich of fabric, you will insert your webbing pieces – this creates the hinges on the sides of the playmat. Cut 10 pieces of webbing, each 8cm long. Peel back the back house panel slightly so you can see what you are doing. Measuring down the side of the house and working from the top corner where the roof meets the straight edges, pin your webbing pieces evenly, five on each side. The main part of each of the webbing pieces needs to be laid on the house panel with one end flush to the edge of your house panel. Repeat this on the other side of your house panel. See photo 1 below.
photo 1
Fold the back house panel edges back over to completely enclose the webbing pieces. See Photo 2 below

photo 2
Now pin all the layers together, all the way around. Sew the layers together, working up one side of the house panel, up and down the sides of the roof and down the other side of the house panel – make sure you leave the bottom edge of sandwich open and free from stitching. 
Once stitched around the edges, clip any excess fabric away from the corners of your work being careful not cut through the stitching and then turn the house panel etc right side out as shown in photo 3 below.
All your webbing pieces should be secure – give them a tug to make sure (re-stitch if necessary) see photos 3 and 4 below for reference.
photo 3
photo 4
Now is the time to quilt any parts of the house panel you wish to. We firstly secure the layers together with safety pins (photos 5 and 6 below) – this stops the layers sliding around but you can also achieve this by tacking the layers together. You can use hand stitching or machine stitching and you can quilt as much or as little as you like. In the end we choose machine quilting and we followed the edges of the rooms for our quilt pattern.
photo 5
photo 6
So that’s the main part of your playmat finished for the time being - now you can start constructing your first door panel!

To begin with you are going to need to make some Velcro tabs that hold you playmat closed.
Cut three 10cm x 10cm squares of wadding from your scraps and then cut six square pieces of 10cm x 10cm from the scraps of your brick fabric. Then cut three 6cm lengths of Velcro (you need to use sew on Velcro – stick on will not be strong enough) and separate the hooked sides from the looped sides of the Velcro.
Take one of your fabric squares and sew one of the 6cm strips of the hooked side of the velcro approximately 2cm in from three of the edges. Repeat this three times over as shown on photo 7 below.
photo 7
Now take one of your wadding squares and lay it on your work surface, lay the brick fabric square with the velcro attached, on top of it, right side facing up. Then lay on top of this another brick fabric square, this time one without any Velcro attached, right side facing down, see Photo 8.
photo 8
Sew around three sides of this fabric sandwich, leaving the side furthest away from the Velcro open for turning. Again clip the excess fabric away from the corners and turn your tab right side out. Repeat these steps to make three complete Velcro tabs all with hooked Velcro attached. See photo 9 below - Save the other pieces of Velcro for later.
photo 9
Now take your right hand side outside door panel piece and lay this right side up on your work surface. Working up from the bottom of the longer edge of your front door panel, measure up approximately 10cm and place your first tab here. Space the following two tabs along the same edge with approximately 11-12cm between them each. Lay the tabs on so that half the tab is laying on the panel and half of the tab is over hanging the edge. The velcro end of the tab must be laying on top of the front door panel, see photo 10. 
photo 10
Once the tabs are pinned in place lay one of your inside front door panel pieces on top of the right hand side outside door panel, matching the edges and with right sides facing each other. Then lay a piece of wadding on top, again matching the edges of your panels. See photos 11 and 12 below.
photo 11
photo 12
Sew around the long edge of this fabric sandwich enclosing and securing the Velcro tabs, and then stitch along the roof edge. Leave the short edge and bottom edge of the sandwich unstitched and open. Clip any excess fabric from the corners of your work – minding that you don’t cut through any stitching. Turn the front door panel right side out to check your stitching and that the tabs are secure.  This will now be known as your right hand door panel sandwich.

Now repeat this process of sandwiching up your fabric for the other door panel. Take the left hand side outside door panel and lay it right side up on your work surface. Then lay your left hand side back door panel on top with the right sides facing. Then add another door panel sized piece of wadding on top. (You won’t need to add any tabs this time.)

Again pin and stitch this sandwich together only working along the shorter vertical edge and the roof’s sloping edge. This will now be known as your left hand door panel sandwich. Again clip any excess fabric from the corners of your work. Turn your left hand door sandwich so that it’s right side out – and check your stitching.

While both your door panel sandwiches are turned right sides out this is a good chance to check if your pieces are the correct size and will meet in the middle of your playmat – lay them on top of your prepared central house panel to check the doors butt up neatly against each other in the centre. You can shuffle them in a bit if necessary. See photo 13.
photo 13
Now we're going to attach the door panels to the main central panel, it is easier to do than it is to explain so bear with me and maybe read the instructions a couple of times all the way through before you start. Maybe have a practice of your construction where you just pin your elements together and then turn them right side out to check you are indeed on the right track.

Ok here goes.....
Take your right hand side door panel sandwich and turn it wrong side out again. Separate the layers so that what was the inside door panel  lays flat on the work surface and the outside door panel and wadding are lifted slightly up and away from it making a kind of pocket. See photo 14. Also lay your completed central house panel right side facing up, alongside it so that the two shorter edges match up. Again refer to Photo 14 below.
photo 14
Now comes the slightly tricky part. You are aiming to fit the central house panel inside the door panel sandwich. Firstly temporarily fold down the roof part of the central house panel. Now, importantly, from the right hand side of the door panel start rolling up your central door panel. Roll it like a swiss roll from right to left,  enclosing the folded down roof as you go. Roll it until just the webbing on the left hand side is poking out on an edge of your swiss roll. Now continuing  with the rolling motion -  the central house panel swiss roll, rolls over its webbing edge and into the 'pocket' you made in the last step. 
Your swiss roll has now been flipped over inside the door panel pocket so that the right side of the house panel is essentially facing the right side of the inside door panel.  And the right side of the back brick fabric panel is facing the right side of the front door panel. Have a look at Diagrams 1 to 4 below for guidance.
Please take care distinguishing the turquoise and aqua colours below as they look very similar - to confirm, the higher line in this colour is turquoise, and is the outside door panel, the lower line is aqua, and refers to the inside door panel. If you're confused by this please comment and we will help you decipher!
Diagram 1,2,3,and 4
You should now have something that looks like photo 15
photo 15
Tuck the swiss roll in so it that it’s edge is about 2cm further in than the raw edge of the inside door panel. See photo 16.
photo 16
Pin this in place, and now close the pocket around the swiss roll, matching all the short edges of the sandwich together so they all lay flush.  You will now have completely enclosed the swiss roll and all you will see is a little bit of the webbing ends poking out. See photo 17.
photo 17
You are aiming to make webbing hinges of about 15mm so pin and tack all these layers together and stitch through the sandwich layers only securing the webbing as you go. You do not want to sew through any part of the central house panel. And you do not want to sew along the bottom edge of your door panel pocket either at this stage. See diagram 5 below for a cross section reference of where you should be stitching.
diagram 5
Check you have caught in all the webbing and all your layers with your stitching and turn your work right side out through the hole still left in the bottom of the door panel sandwich pocket. You should now have webbing hinges between the central house panel and the right hand door panel that looks like photo 18 below.
photo 18
If anything has gone wrong at this stage don’t be afraid to get the unpicker out and have another go – or turn your work back inside itself to adjust your stitching. These stages do require a little bit of patience I’m afraid, but preparation of the layers is the key.
To attach the left hand side door panel, work in EXACTLY the same manner as before but work in the mirror image of what you did for the right hand door panel.

Once you've completed this, your house playmat should now be fully functioning – with hinged door panels on either side. These should fold closed to show the outside of the front door panels and open to show the inside of the front door panels and the central house panel.

Phew! All that remains to do now are two simple little jobs......
 Firstly, sew on, by hand, the velcro pieces you saved earlier. Position them on the front of the right hand side front door panel, matching them to the tabs on the left hand door panel, so the Velcro sticks together when the door panels close.

Secondly, stitch up all the bottom edges of your playmat. You can either over stitch with a machine or we found it easier to take our time and hand stitch the layers together with an over stitch or ladder stitch. You will need to do this in separate stages for each panel and enclose the raw edges as you go. I found it easier to fold my raw edges in and iron a crease in them before I started stitching (you may also need to clip away some bulk of the wadding to make this easier).  Once all the bottom edges are closed your house playmat is fully formed and ready for little hands and feet!

I hope you didn't find week 4 too confusing - if you have ANY questions (and I imagine you may have!) please please just ask away in the comments section and I will do my best to answer thoroughly for you! After all that hard work, next week we’ll have fun making the felt creatures to live and play in our house!