Archive for ‘things I made’

December 26, 2011

patchwork dog

Alas I only had time to make a couple of Christmas presents this year. I’ll post about my favourite one tomorrow. This patchwork Scottie dog, which I gave to my sister-in-law Kate, I do like well enough; but because I used a pattern and didn’t invent it myself, it didn’t involve the three-act drama I enjoy so much during my improvised crafting endeavours: first act, optimistic experimentalism; second act, panic; third act, relief/horror at the end product.

Anyway, if you want to make your own patchwork dog, you can find the pattern here. Behold my effort:

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I’ve never done patchwork with small pieces before, but it was very quick to sew by hand. Plus it was pleasing to work in some of my sillier fabrics.

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I deviated from the pattern by sewing a border strip out of 30 squares instead of one fabric, which meant the dog could have a rather apt piece for its mouth:

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And, entirely by chance, it ended up having quite an apt little bit of pattern at its far end too.

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UPDATE: here’s another for the litter. A gift for a Philly girl, hence the map patch.

Different colour scheme for the flipside:

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December 16, 2011

Veronica Mars blanket

“Baby it’s cold outside…” and also inside my flat. Once the temperature dips below 10°C, it’s time to bring out the Veronica Mars Blanket.

A couple of summers ago, my friend Catherine Hirst taught me to crochet. Like most crochet novices, my first project was a granny square; finding this quite pleasant, I just kept going until it was 6 feet square, even though it was August and rather too warm to have half a ton of yarn in my lap.

The reason it is called the Veronica Mars blanket is because my husband and I were blowing through all three series of Veronica Mars at the time. If you’ve never had the pleasure, I wholeheartedly recommend adding it to your DVD box set binge-list (aside from the third series, which is a bit rubbish). It has everything: murder mystery, a feisty girl detective, high school drama, AND it even passes the Bechdel Test.

November 20, 2011

croc & choc

It was my brother Rick’s birthday yesterday, and once again I found myself in the same impoverished state that produced my other brother’s birthday present last month.

Unlike Andy, and everyone else in the family, Rick is a clutter-hating utilitarian, so I had to make him a gift that was functional. However, Rick is a highly competent adult, and thus has already equipped himself with all the functional objects he might need. Hence he is utterly infernal to find presents for, but he’s a very good egg which means I still want to give him birthday presents.

The problem: what to give the man who has everything he wants/needs, throws out anything he doesn’t, and who, incidentally, lives in a chilly house?

The solution:

Draught-excluder!

Materials: green fabric from my sister-in-law’s late mother’s huge stash of upholstery textiles (the leaf print looked suitably suggestive of scales); scrap of red needlecord for the mouth; white felt teeth; stuffed with rags and half a disembowelled cushion. I sewed pintucks along the back, for the crocodile’s armoured ridges.

Grrrr, terrifying. Of course, my little niecephews immediately grabbed it and started thwacking each other.

Now my mum wants a draught-excluder for Christmas. What sort of beast should I make for her?

Here’s the other birthday thing I made for my brother:

Cross-section:

Interior: chocolate sponge, coffee buttercream. Exterior: Toblerone frosting.

November 7, 2011

the mind Boggles

People often ask me what is my greatest crafting feat. Here’s how it came about.

A few years ago, I lived very near to my friend Josie and we were both underemployed. As a result, we watched a lot of ANTM, and we played a LOT of Boggle.

At the height of our obsession, we decided we had to share the joy and play boggle onstage with the audience at comedy gigs. We used to draw the grid on a flipchart, which was neither large enough for most of the audience to be able to read, nor showy enough for a gig. Bigger, we had to think bigger!

My mind was tickled by the engineering puzzle of how to expand the Boggle set, but make it easily portable so we could take it to gigs. Plus, I had to keep costs to a minimum.

So having expended about £25 on Primark bedsheets, iron-on fabric stiffener and acrylic paint, followed by a very tedious afternoon or two of construction, I became the proud inventor of the World’s First* Fully Collapsible Giant Inflatable Boggle Set.

*I haven’t confirmed this, but nobody has told me otherwise.

I’ve made some improvements to it since, so that all the blocks tie together at each corner and it lies flat; but my favourite picture of it in action is this one, from its first ever outing:

That was taken at the inaugural Latitude Festival in 2006. Martin White and Matthew Crosby are sportingly holding it up so the audience could see.

The pieces are each about 14 inches cubed, and I replicated the distribution of letters from my real, normal-sized Boggle set, for maximum accuracy. Inside each cube is one of those toy punch-bag balloons from the Pound Shop, and when those are deflated the whole set packs into a shopping bag.

Despite having cracked the issue of the Boggle set, the audience participation Boggle never really worked very well. However, the giant Boggle set still comes in handy sometimes, eg for leaving subtle messages around the place.

October 13, 2011

Doll-ald Rumsfeld

One of my main reasons for starting this site, aside from vainglory and having too much time at my disposal, was to have a repository for the various items I’ve made over the past few years. I tend to give away almost all of my pictures and handmade objects, so this is my opportunity to remind myself of things past.

Today’s Thing I made in early 2008. It was commissioned to appear in this, but I don’t think it made the final cut, so this is the official world debut of…

…the Donald Rumsfeld doll!

Remember him?

Here’s the doll sitting on a scale replica of what Donald Rumsfeld himself used to recline upon in the Pentagon.

October 10, 2011

The three faces of Andy Zaltzman

Maybe he doesn’t like photoshoots; maybe he’s gathering material for a museum devoted to his own image; but for some reason, my brother has asked me to paint him for his past three Edinburgh posters. He always does this a couple of days before the deadline, so there’s only enough time to churn out the pictures, but not enough to improve them. Also, today’s lesson is that practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect, as I think these get worse as they progress. The first is my favourite:


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October 9, 2011

Knobs!

Get your minds out of the gutter. Yeesh.

My brother is of the opinion that functional objects might as well be decorative too, and his children have a preponderance of built-in cupboards in their bedroom, so I was charged with titivating two dozen plain 4cm wooden knobs.

As happens in most of my projects, I put the knobs on a shelf and forgot about them for the best part of a year, until my brother gently intimated that his kids might actually like to be able to open their cupboards someday. So I busted out the acrylic paints and got to work.

Annoyingly, the only pictures I have are crappy camera phone ones, their lack of clarity compounded by the glare of the shiny varnish. Therefore please pretend that the photos are from the early 90s and you’ve never seen HD before.

Observe that there are several different sets, with quite a strong Greek myth bias because my brother and his wife both have Classics degrees and therefore the children were born fluent in the dead languages. The opportunity to tell the story of Theseus and the Minotaur through the medium of knobs was too rare to pass up.

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October 6, 2011

shut it you staaaaaag

This week’s lesson is that necessity is the mother of invention.

It is my brother Andy’s birthday today, and being thoroughly broke at the moment, I needed to come up with a present for him that cost £0. Luckily, he likes homemade presents* and weird shit for his house. So, using a few items I’d consigned to scrap plus some craft supplies from the stash, this is what I made him:

I’m pretty sure my brother hasn’t got one already.

A lady called Nichole tweeted me to ask if I had a tutorial for the DIY stag’s head. I don’t, because I was making it up as I went along; but here’s roughly how I did it:

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