Tag Archives: DIY

Spring 2017

Not the catchiest title for a blog post but there is so much to report from the last few weeks that I needed a catch-all phrase!  This time of year is when I traditionally get moving – on projects, in the garden, around the house, etc.   After the cold short days of winter the arrival of sun, longer days and a garden popping with growth is just good for the soul.

Which means that over the last couple of weeks we have been away camping, I have painted my son’s bedroom (finally) and our garden is full of beautiful blooms and green-ness!   Our camping trip was only for three nights, but we were at our traditional spring campground, right on the beachfront and it was just what we all needed.   We had two other families with us which meant that all the kids were busy and entertained, and the adults got to relax, catch up with each other and take turns watching children.  My parents joined us for two nights which was an added bonus (especially because I left my favourite teas at home and they kindly delivered them for me, avoiding a major first world catastrophe!)

From our tent we could watch the waves, and were very excited on our last morning to be able to watch a mother and juvenile whale breaching and playing right in front of us – my daughter described it as doing back-flips as the baby jumped out of the water and landed on it’s back over and over again.  The day before we had seen dolphins in closer and a whale further out but this was a new level of wonder!

 

We arrived home vowing to book for longer next time – and hopefully with the same group of friends as it worked so well.  In the three days we were gone the garden had really started to blossom – literally!   And the warm weather hasn’t just brought me and the flowers out into the garden – the lizards are appearing to sun themselves.  As long as the snakes don’t join them we are fine!

A shingleback lizard hiding amongst the plants

A blue tongue lizard sunning on the concrete, very unperturbed by me and the dogs.

The most exciting spring news, however, is that at least 7 of our sheep are pregnant, and judging from their size, the size of their udders (who knew I would become an expert on sheep udders?) and the date that ‘Gordon Ramsey’ was introduced to the flock I think we will start to see lambs arriving from next weekend.  I am excited but nervous about this development – hoping that nothing goes wrong, and that all the babies and mothers are healthy.   Yesterday my boy and my father and I constructed a shade shelter/wind break from shade cloth and an old trailer cage frame – I love being able to repurpose in all areas of our life!  I also plan to make another one with some pallets and corrugated iron.   I had hoped to finally get to repurpose the swing set frame that I had originally planned to use for a chicken coop, but have accepted my father’s sensible advise about a different plan (for now!!)

The new shelter being completely ignored by the sheep

We had a livestock issue of another kind last week when my boy spotted a mouse in his room.   Because I am such a chicken I quickly went and asked my parents (who aren’t scared of mice) to help – and while they cornered, capture and dispatched the mouse I delivered the famous ‘I told you so’ speech to my son about eating in his bedroom, not tidying up his mess etc.   Of course, as a result of the mouse he then wouldn’t set foot in the room, insisted on sleeping in my room, on us fetching his clothes, etc. I hoped that it would pass with time but when, after returning from camping, he was still resident in my room it was time for drastic action!   My parents kindly agreed to take all three children for a visit to their other grandparents, leaving the middle child there for a week, and overnighting with the other two.   That gave me the chance to tackle his room – which I had been planning to get to for some months now that his aggressive behaviour has reduced significantly and the walls aren’t being damaged anymore.  The before and after photos show what an improvement a simple coat of paint can achieve!   I also cleaned out his wardrobe, sorted his toys and steam cleaned his carpet and he is once more happily back in his own room, and working hard to keep it tidy!   Success!   I bored everyone with my progress on facebook and Instagram, and one friend asked whether I had ruined the surprise by doing so.  I explained that that surprising my boy is not a good option.   To help him cope with any change he needs to be given lots of warning, to take part in the decision making, and to understand the process.   Before I started painting I discussed it with him, and asked whether it would help him go back in there, and whether the change in colours (which he has been resisting for more than a year) would be a good idea.  Luckily he embraced the idea and was delighted with the result!  Autism parenting requires a whole different mind set!

During all of that time I didn’t get much ‘making’ done.  But it did give me time to think and plan. There is something very meditative about painting walls!  I have my first market stall in three weeks time after a three year break, so thinking about what I need to prepare, what stock I need, what branding is required, etc is a shift in thinking.   After years of supporting other designers to hold stalls at one of the best markets in the country I am starting small, with a primary school fair, but my nerves might be bigger than when I last was involved as a stallholder!   I will let you know how I go with getting organised!

In the meantime it is a long weekend here, the sun is out, and I have piles of washing to attend to!   I hope that you are having a great week, with some achievements of your own!

Tutorial – Making an appliqued cushion cover

Tutorial cushion cover |a little bird made meHello!   Today my Handmade Project – How to make an appliqued cushion cover is being used to launch the new series of Handmade Projects on the Handmade Canberra website!  I designed this  project thinking that it would be a great Mother’s Day present.  But as my Mum is a reader of this blog, I might need to go back to the drawing board!

If you make any cushions using the pattern I would love it if you tagged me if you post them on Instagram – #alittlebirdmademe, so that I can enjoy your efforts!

 

 

How to make your own gadget cover

Make your own gadget case |a little bird made meI promised a few weeks ago that I would prepare a tutorial for you so that you could make your own iPad or gadget cover.  I probably would have bumbled along and forgotten that promise if it wasn’t for our upcoming school fete.  We always have an exceptional craft stall, with a great range of high end products, and this year a friend has been assigned the task of making iPad covers, so I decided that I needed to get my tutorial writing groove on and prepare it for her (and you!)

These gadget covers make great presents for family and friends – you can personalise them with your choice of fabric, or by embellishing them.

These instructions will make a gadget cover that fits an iPad, iPad2,  etc, and will be a little big for the iPad Air.  At the end of the instructions I provide measurements for making this pattern to fit the iPad Air and the iPad mini.

Materials

1 piece of hat elastic measuring 15 cm.

1 button.

Make your own gadget case |a little bird made me

Ninjas!!

One piece each in your chosen outer fabric and inner fabric measuring 28cm (11”) x 45cm (17.5”).

One piece of your wadding measuring 28cm (11”) x 43cm (17”).

(For wadding I use Vilene H640 fusible fleece.  Here in Australia you can buy it at Spotlight by the metre.  There is a thinner version – Vilene H620 that is also fusible but the H640 is thicker and provides more cushioning for your device.  You could also use non-fusible wadding such as cotton or bamboo, or polyester by simply stitching it around the edge of the outer fabric instead of fusing it.)

Instructions

  1. Attach the fusible fleece to the wrong side of the outer fabric, following the manufacturer’s instructions. You should have a small gap on either side of the fabric where the fleece doesn’t meet the sides.  This is to help you reduce the bulk in your seams.

When I attach the H640 using an iron I place the fleece on the ironing board with the adhesive side up (that is the rough side) and then place the fabric on top of it with the wrong side on the fleece and the right side facing up.  I then use a pressing cloth (a piece of cotton, calico, or a tea towel) over the top of the two pieces and spray it lightly with water.  Then iron the pressing cloth, applying a small amount of pressure, and holding the iron in each spot for a few seconds before moving it along.  You may need to go over the piece a few times to ensure that the adhesive has properly melted and adhered to the fabric.

  1. Fold the outer piece, with its attached wadding, in half with the right side together and the wadding facing out, so that you have a side that is 28cm high and about 22cm wide. Stitch a line from the top of the long side down that side, and then across the bottom.  Use a 1 cm seam allowance here.Make your own gadget case |a little bird made me
  2. Clip the corners at the bottom of the outer layer, then turn it inside out and poke the corners out at the bottom.

    Make your own gadget case |a little bird made me

    And if you are really lucky you will accidentally line up your pattern so that it almost matches perfectly!

  3. Fold the inner fabric in half, with its right sides together and stitch that down the long side from top to bottom, then sew across the bottom for about 5 cm, leave a 10 cm gap, then sew the remaining seam. This will give you a gap for turning your creation in the right way at the end.Make your own gadget case |a little bird made me
  4. Take your hat elastic and fold it in half, then wrap a piece of cotton around the end where the cut ends meet, to bind them together. This will stop the pieces separating when you are sewing them, and give the stitches something to catch so that the elastic is secure in the seam.Make your own gadget case |a little bird made me
  5. Pin the elastic half way across the back side of the outer piece so that the elastic sits on the right side of the fabric, with the cut end just over the raw edge of the fabric and the loop pointing down. Put the pin on the fleece side of the fabric.Make your own gadget case |a little bird made me
  6. Now place the outer piece inside the inner piece so that their right sides are together, and the seams on each one lines up. Make your own gadget case |a little bird made meStitch around the top edge of the two pieces, about 1 cm from the edge, to join them together.  When you cross the point where the elastic is sitting, reverse back and forward a couple of times to reinforce the stitching at that point.Make your own gadget case |a little bird made me
  7. Turn the piece inside out, using the gap in the lining, and tuck the lining down inside the outer piece. Press or iron the seam that joins the inner and outer pieces so that it is flat, and then top stitch a row around the top of the cover.Make your own gadget case |a little bird made me
  8. Now you are ready to close the gap in the lining. To do this you can either hand sew it shut or, as I tend to do, tuck the seam in and then machine sew across the edge of the folds.  Tuck the lining back into the cover.
  9. Yay! The last step!  Time to sew your button on.  To measure where you button should be sewn fold the elastic loop down to the front side of the cover and mark where the bottom of the loop falls, then sew the centre of your button a millimetre or two below that point.  And now – ta da – you are done!!Make your own gadget case |a little bird made me

To adjust this pattern for other gadgets you need to measure the width, height and depth of the gadget.  To help you out I can report that the measurements for making a cover for the iPad Air are 28cm (11”) x 40cm (15 ½”).  The iPad mini requires fabric that is 24cm (9 ½”)  x 33cm (13”).

You are welcome to use this pattern to make items for sale on a cottage industry scale, for fundraising or as gifts.

Make your own gadget case |a little bird made me

 

Friday Finds: A list of DIY gifts for Father’s Day

While I am informed that ‘handmade is the new black’, the joy of handmade has not spread to the men in our lives as much as the women and children. Today’s list, however, is set to change that! I have gathered together a list of links to free patterns to make a wide variety of things that will all be well received by the men in your life. Remember – handmade doesn’t mean poor quality – it means high quality because it is imbued with the love of the person making the gift!

Father’s Day is a day to reflect on the men in our lives – our fathers, grandfathers, and the fathers of our children.  I am very lucky to have known both my grandfathers, and to still have my father.  I have memories of dancing on my Opa’s shoes in the lounge room, and of my Pop taking us for outings to the only ice-cream parlour in Auckland at the time (because as an American he missed ice-cream parlours).  My Dad is truly one of the good guys.  He provides me with love and support, humour and wisdom as he has always.  I am always grateful that I am his daughter, so Father’s Day is a special day in my life each year.

As you all know, sewing is my ‘thing’ so the first part of this list are ideas that are for sewn gifts for men.
First up – a hat! I love the styling of this pattern for a men’s flat cap from aboutgoodness.com.

Another idea is an apron for Dad.  I have used this pattern from Purl Bee and really like the way that the strap is adjustable so it can fit a multitude of sizes.  When I made an apron with this pattern for a family member I used printable fabric to print a picture of the children holding a sign with her name and made the pocket from that.

Last Christmas I made my father a sun hat using this pattern from April Cobb.  The pattern is a good basic one, and you can personalise it with your choice of fabrics.  I had to include some orange in the one for my Dad because he is from The Netherlands!

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Another idea that I am keen to make myself is this tutorial for an iPhone/iPad stand from the lovely Michelle at Factotum of the Arts.

If you are a fan of making bags like me, then a cargo duffle bag is a great personal gift that he will get a lot of use from.  Noodlehead has the free pattern for this bag on her site.

For a ‘metro’ Dad in your life, Sew4Home has a pattern for this ‘Metro Bag‘.

For a Dad who likes a nice hankie, Purl Bee has a detailed tutorial on how to create a rolled-hem Hankie.

Another simple to make but thoughtful gift is a coffee cup cozy.  Hawaiian Paperdoll shares a great pattern on her site.

Another idea, and one that I have been playing with myself, is making Dad a wallet.  A nice simple pattern for a wallet is found on Allisa Jacobs website.

For those of you who like to crochet here is a list for you!

The manly man hat by Green Dragonfly is a great pattern!

I also like this ripple afghan in ‘manly’ colours (whatever ‘manly’ colours are!) from Lion Brand Yarn.

If Dad likes a bit of Dr Who or Star Wars, then Moogly has a great collection of patterns for crocheting a great range of gifts with these themes.

  Star Wars on MooglyDoctor Who Crochet Patterns - all free! Grab your hooks and allons-y! Dr Who on Moogly

Or you might like to make Dad his own Death Star Cushion with this pattern from Pops de Milk.

I plan to make these Opa House Slippers for my own Dad one day……  The pattern is on Ravelry.

Of course Dad could always use a new gadget cover – and there is a great list of free patterns in this post I prepared a couple of weeks ago – DIY Gadget covers.

As usual there are many other great lists of gifts that you can make for Father’s Day.  If you are interested in seeing more lists, or other ideas, you might like to look at the Pinterest board I have created as a place to store these ideas, appropriately titled “Gifts for Men“!

The most important thing to remember though, is that if you make a gift with love, you pass your love with the gift.

Friday Finds – a list of tutorials on DIY gadget covers

Hooray – I have decided to re-start my Friday Finds posts.  This means that I provide a list of tutorials that you can use to make your own handmade whatevers.  (That is a technical term we bloggers use.)

Today I am cheating a little.  In my monthly newsletter (have you subscribed yet?  Why not!  Go on – over there on the right hand side!) for this month I included a list of links to tutorials for making iPad, lap-top and other gadget covers.  I was motivated to do this after I made my own laptop bag for my new laptop, affectionately named Reeba Toshiba.  I have roadtested the bag a few times now and am very happy with it.

Lap-top bag from re-purposed denim, leather and cotton

Front of my Lap-top bag from re-purposed denim, leather and cotton

 

 

 

 

Back of the lap top bag

Back of the lap top bag

Lining and strap detail of the lap top bag

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I plan to prepare a tutorial so that you can make your own, but in the meantime wanted to share some of the tutorials that I have gathered to gain ideas and inspiration on how to make your own gadget covers.

Tablet covers

A felt envelope case with a difference Purl Bee adapts to gadgets of different shapes and sizes.

Nancy’s Notions has a tutorial for making an Ipad cover that folds over the tablet to protect it.

A great tutorial that can be adjusted to fit a variety of tablets and gadgets is found in a guest post by Lindsay from Inspiring Creations on U-Create.

Jessi from Practically Functional has a tutorial for making an iPad stand and cover using a hard cover from a binder folder.

A different take on making a cover from a book is found on the V Spot blog in their free tutorial.

Creative Home Expressions has a tutorial on how to make a sleeve for a Kindle that closes with a loop and button.

Sew for Home have a pattern for an iPad or tablet case with a difference – it has pockets and room to carry a mobile phone along with the tablet. 

Dollarstore Crafts have a tutorial on making a gadget cover from a pair of old jeans.  (And you know how much I love repurposing denim!)  

Laptop covers and bags

A tutorial on Curbly uses placemats to make a laptop cover. 

On the Handmade Wagon you will find a tutorial for a laptop case that has a gusset (you know – a seperate piece that goes around the sides).

The Crafty Kitty has a tutorial for making an organice canvas laptop sleeve that closes with a button and loop.

Craft Habit has a tutorial to make a lap top bag with a strap.

Other lists

If you haven’t found something that you love in any of these links, then you can have a look at the list I have gather on my Pinterest board – Gadget Cases DIY or look at these lists that other sites have put together.

Sew Mama Sew – Gifts for gadget lovers

Shelterness – 15 Really cool DIY iPad covers

Topinspired – Top 10 DIY Laptop/iPad Sleeves

BuzzFeed – 28 Adorable DIY Gadget cases

I hope that you find something that inspires you to make your own case!

Friday Finds – a list of tutorials for DIY Valentine gifts

 

While there are many who declare that Valentine’s Day is ‘too commercial’ , I have a soft spot for the day.  Not because I receive lots of hearts and flowers and cards.  In fact quite the opposite.  It is my eldest chick’s birthday and her father declared that this meant that we couldn’t possibly celebrate Valentine’s Day as it would detract from her special day (!!)   With her birthday as the focus,  I have a range of different heart shaped cake tins collected at garage sales etc and she loves her heart shaped cake each year.   So it is a special day for me.  However I also like the concept that there is a day that allows people who love each other to be reminded that saying it to the person they love, or treating the person they love to a present, is a good thing.   Not everyone has a relationship that involves daily gestures of love and romance, so a bit of an annual prompt can’t be a bad thing!

Before getting too far into a debate that I don’t want to have, instead I bring you a small collection of ideas for crafts that you can do to celebrate Valentine’s Day with something you have made with love.  The great thing about many of these tutorials is that they can also be used for other celebrations or occasions by simply changing the materials, or the colours.

The first is a paper garland of hearts.  It was originally made as a fourth of July garland but could really be used for any celebration – and using colours that you and your special someone love would make it a great Valentine’s Day celebration.

Lovas World – DIY Paper Heart Garland

Lova's World: DIY Paper Heart Garland

The next is a delightful idea to make your own dice, and to use hearts instead of ‘dots’.  The tutorial, on the website Design Sponge also has ideas on the puns you can use when presenting the dice as a present!

Design Sponge – DIY Project Heart Dice

 

I discovered these gorgeous little Amurigami crochet hearts on the site RoxyCraft – their tag line is ‘patterns that don’t suck’.  I love it!  The potential to make these for all sorts of occasions is huge – but as a Valentine’s Day crochet pattern I think they are a winner!

RoxyCraft – Crochet Hearts

For some simple ideas, beautifully executed, take a look at the site Sew Jane Work where Holly has a tutorial for making a tote and a pencil box decorated with hearts.

See Jane Work – DIY Valentines Day Projects

Vanessa at V and Co has a beautiful collection of tutorials on her site, but it was this gorgeous ruffled heart pillow that caught my eye – a combination of reverse appliqué and ruffles to make a beautiful pillow.  (And of course, you could adapt it to other occasions by using different shapes for the cut out!)

V and Co – Gathered Heart Pillow

(While you are there have a look at her patterns – her heart quilt is beautiful!)

A group of bloggers created a linkup party last year with 14 days of love and on day 4 JoJo and Eloise provided a tutorial for making a simple heart shaped pouch.  A lovely simple gift to make, with many uses, including as a way of presenting another gift!  From this tutorial you can click through to the other Valentine themed ideas from that collection.

DIY Heart Felt Pouch

14daysofcraftinglove

A different use of felt results in these gorgeous Valentine’s envelopes from Shop Bonne Nouvelle.

Once again I can imagine different uses throughout the year for both little people and big!

And then combining the two ideas into one great gift DesignSponge has this tutorial for a stuffed heart with an outside pocket.

Sewing Stuffed Hearts

Felt hearts with a different twist are found in the tutorial from Food ‘n’ Femininity on how to make heart coasters.

These Lego hearts are perfect for the geek-love in your life.

Lego Necklace

Free printables

Beautiful free printables to create your own Valentine’s cards or gifts can be found at the gorgeous blog Design is Yay where Wita has made some shabby chic money envelopes that cover both Chinese New Year (today!!) and Valentines Day.

Others include:

Camille Styles – DIY Printable Valentines

Pizzazzerie – Freebie Valentines Day DIY Gifts

Twig and Thistle – Updated DIY Valentine Treat Bags

BHG – Valentines Day Coupons 

More………..

As usual I am not the first blogger to collect ideas on DIY Valentine’s gifts, so do have a look at these links if you haven’t found your inspiration in this list.

Soap Deli News – 80 handmade Valentines Day Gifts you can craft

the 36th Avenue – Handmade Valentine Crafts and Ideas

My delicious ambiguity – 10 of my favorite Valentines Day Gifts

For even more Valentine ideas gathered in one spot have a look at my Pinterest board – a little bird made me’s Valentine’s Day Pinterest Board

Friday finds – tutorials for Back to School projects

The summer school holidays are stretching on in a haze of heat, sunburn, bushfire warnings and crankiness at being told to drink more water and stay in the shade.  And that means that it is time to think about pushing the little bodies back into uniforms and shoes to see if they still fit (because it is a well known fact that amazing feats of growth happen over the summer school holidays every year – especially if you have stocked up on their school uniform at the end of last year!)  It is also time to think about what they need for going back to school.  Which is the basis of the following list of tutorials.

Each of these has been found on the blog of another crafter who has also been faced with the back to school dilemma, so I present simply a gathering of their ideas so that you can think about some projects to help the back to school process begin!

School bags

While some schools require a uniform bag, complete with school logo, many still allow students to bring along a bag that reflects their individual personality.  That is where the following patterns come in.  With the amazing range of fabrics available the possibilities for individual fashion statements are endless!

I just love the vintage feel to this bag by Hannah13 from Sew Adorable Fabrics that is posted on the Riley Blake site – Vintage inspired boxy school bag

The Quilt as you go Improv Patchwork school bag by TeresaDownUnder provides lots of opportunities to personalise a bag for your student.

Quilt-as-you-go improv patchwork school bag | Sewn Up by TeresaDownUnder

 

For a completely different look this bag by LisaMarieblog uses burlap – DIY Burlap messenger bag

The lovely people at Plaid have already collected a lovely selection of tutorials with their collection of 5 DIY back to school bags

 

Library Bags

There are so many bags that children need for back to school.  Library bags are a definite need, especially in the junior school.  (The librarian at our school is constantly pleading for parents to remember to pack books in bags to protect them!)  They can be as fancy or as simple as you like.

The 20 minute library bag by And Sew We Craft is a great place to start.

The Library Bag Tutorial from Pam at Threading My way is along a similar vein – with lots of potential for using different fabrics to make a statement.

Another option is the Simple Library Bag Tutorial from Embracing Life’s Journey.

Samelia’s mum provides a beautifully detailed tutorial to make a  Library bag with name applique tutorial.

Library Bag with Name Applique

While Sewing by Moonlight provides a different take again with her Nancy Drew Blog Hop Library Tote Tutorial.

 Pencil cases

In addition to the various zippered pouches you will find listed here, the tutorials below might also assist in making a new pencil case for your school goer.

At Crazy little projects you will find a zippered pencil case bag pattern – nice and straight forward!

Then there is this one Ann Kelle’s site for a Pencil case

A slightly different take on the traditional at Heidi and Finn with their pencil case

And yet another style with A Spoonful of Sugar Designs

Snack and lunch bags

Of course, in addition to the books and pencils there are also nutritious lunches and snacks to be thinking about and if you are packing them in these lunchbags or snacks bags they are going to look good as well as tasting good!

A Kids Lunch box pattern from Crazy Little Projects guest posting at Skip to my Lou is a good place to start.

The Girl Inspired has a great tutorial for a re-usable snack bag.

As does/do Sisters Sisters

and Rugrat Design posting on Lazy Green Mama.

And Sew Can Do

And for the ultimate collection of patterns for lunch bags, over at fresh juniper she has collected 50 patterns together for lunch bags and totes with tutorials!

I hope that you find some inspiration in this collection to assist you with the back to school requirements!  (I can tick ‘new school shoes’ off my list, but have found post it notes from the eldest chick stuck to a pillow on my bed, and the screen of my computer, that list her ‘stationary’ requirements.  Think a trip to the office supplies store is in order – plus a quick lesson on the difference between things that don’t move, and things that are used to write on and with……)

If you have ideas to add to the list, please feel free to add them in the comments!

 

 

Friday finds – a list of Geeky gifts to make

While I was reading the Gifts for Geeks list of Handmade Holiday gifts posted at Sew Mama Sew I realised that the chicks and I like a lot of geeky things! Which prompted me to pull together the following list of ideas that I have collected for gifts to make for the people in your life who love geeky things! Our geekdom stretches beyond Dr Who, Star Wars, and Lego but I have stuck to our favourites!

Dr Who
Being a woman-of-a-certain-age I remember watching Dr Who in my teens, when it was a BBC production, when Tom Baker was the Doctor and when, having a choice of only 2 television channels at the time (it was North Queensland in the early 80’s) we regularly were in trouble with the nuns for being late for dinner, as Dr Who finished a few minutes after the dinner bell went. Now my eldest chick watches it and it is slick and shiny and has a much bigger budget, but the basics are still there! Time Lords, TARDIS time machines, travelling companions, and the occasional Dalek. Luckily the resurgence of it’s popularity means that there are piles of tutorials on how to make things for fans!

Although I haven’t had any luck finding ‘licensed’ Dr Who fabric, there are quite a few “police box’ designs available through Spoonflower that can be used to make great gifts, like the messenger bag I made!

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Dr Who snow flakes tutorial

Free Printable Doctor Who Stencils

Printable Colouring Pages – Doctor Who

Tardis Garden Shed – Build your own – Gadgetizer

DIY Tardis Bag – Quiet Nerdy Thing

How to Paint the inside of a glass ornament – Hey Hey Heather K

DIY Tardis Shoes – PS

Dr Who Sewing Kit – Craftster

Dr Who Free Crochet patterns – Moogly
Doctor Who Crochet Patterns - all free! Grab your hooks and allons-y!

Star Wars

Once again my age is an advantage in understanding Star Wars.  I remember going to the cinema to see the first movie.  We went into the city, and it was very exciting.  When the next two movies came out we were living on an island in the Pacific that didn’t have a cinema with proper movie releases (although there seemed to be an abundance of Kung Fu movies available to watch in a shed near the beach!).  When the next three were released I was busy with babies and didn’t see them.  Despite that I have developed a great knowledge of all the movies as my son is quite taken with them, and all things related to them!

If none of thesetutorials grab your fancy, there is a great range of Star Wars fabric available and you can use it to make bags, hats, skirts, pillowcases, etc!

DIY Star Wars Christmas Ornaments – DIY Geekery

Soft cuddly Chewbacca – Draw Pilgrim

Star Wars Stencils – Grrl

Star Wars stencils

Star Wars Snowflakes – Matters of Grey

Stormtrooper snowflake templates!

Star Wars Egg Ornaments – Instructables

Lightsabers made from pool noodles – Bit Rebels

DIY Star Wars Pillow – Craftiness is not Optional

Star Wars Peg Dolls – Pink and Green Mama

Free Star Wars Crochet Patterns – Moogly

Free Star Wars Crochet Patterns - Roundup on Moogly!

Lego

Lego was an important part of my childhood.  My grandmother would always bring some back from any trips to the Netherlands (there were only a few grandchildren at that stage – now it would break her bank!).  My mother still has all of our Lego and it has been used by all the grandchildren too.  Now my children love Lego.  They have the themed sets – Star Wars, Chima, Harry Potter, City, Ninjago, Pirates of the Carribean, the Hobbit (not ALL of them obviously) but they also have just general bricks and it is rare for them to use the patterns – they build using their imagination.  The tutorials below include ideas to store Lego bricks, ways to use bricks to make things, or making other items that look like Lego bricks.

Lego Earrings – Coupons Are Great

make-Lego-earrings

Lego Key hanger – Felix Grauer

LEGO DIY Key Hanger by Felix Grauer in style fashion home furnishings  Category

DIY Lego Beanbags – One Artsy Mama

Train table to legl table – Over the Big Moon

Lego Ninja hat – We lived happily ever after

DIY Lego Storage Solutions – All Things with Purpose

Lego Cufflinks – Instructables

DIY Lego and art travel boxes – Repeat Crafter Me

DIY Lego magnets and necklace – She’s Called Claire

Lego Tray – That’s My Letter

Lego Spice Rack – Instructables

And finally – not a tutorial – but a lovely way of bringing all three themes together, this great picture from The Dalek Hugger

Stormtroopers and the TARDIS.

I hope that you find something suitable to make for the geeks in your life!

Tutorial – A cross body bag

Despite my intentions to prepare and post tutorials throughout the year, it has taken me quite a few months to actually sit down and write one up. I decided that if I was going to prepare one, it had to be for a bag that I like to make, and that I hadn’t already seen a tutorial for. So here we have my design for a cross body bag.  I love the versatility of these bags – great for slinging across your body when you are travelling, walking, shopping, or for having over your shoulder when you are feeling a bit more dressed up and business like!  The options for mixing and matching fabrics are endless – you can bling it up, or use recycled jeans, patchwork it, or have classy linen in muted tones.  As usual, the only limits are your imagination!

The qualifiers that I feel compelled to include up front include that the photos were taken at night with dodgy lighting, and then in the day with great natural light, so they aren’t terribly consistent in their quality.  Also, I made a couple of mistakes along the way – so I share those with you, and how I fixed them up.  The lesson – don’t copy me – learn from my trial and error!!  The pattern includes instructions for an outer pocket and an inner pocket – but of course I didn’t follow these instructions in making the bag in the photos, so the outer pocket photo is from a different bag, and the inner pocket is different dimensions….but you will get the drift – I promise!

Final dimensions – 9″ wide, 9″ long and 2″ deep.

Materials (in each case slightly more than you will need) (NB Edited to correct fabric requirements on 10 Jan 2014)
1/2 yard outer cotton
1/2 yard of inner cotton
1/2 yard fusible fleece (I like Vilene H604 as it is thicker and gives better body)
A magnetic snap (14mm or 18mm)
1 1/2 inch tri-glide strap adjustor and matching rectangle ring
Strong interfacing – 2 pieces approx. 2″ square (support for the magnetic snap)

Cutting pieces
Outer cotton
Body – rectangle 10 1/2″ x 21″
Flap – rectangle 10 1/2″ x 8 1/2″
Adjustable Strap – 2 x (1) 2″ x 10 1/2 plus 2 x (2) 2″ x 44″ (Width of fabric). (2 pieces – your choice whether you make it all from the outer fabric or a side from the inner)
Pocket – 5″ x 10″

Inner cotton
Body – rectangle 10 1/2″ x 21″
Flap – rectangle 10 1/2″ x 8 1/2″
Pocket – 2 x 8″ x 5″  (In these photos I used the outer fabric for the inner pocket – it provides a nice contrast, and highlights the process at the same time!)

Fleece (designed to be a bit smaller than the fabric to allow for tidy seams)
Body – rectangle 10 ” x 20 1/2″
Flap – rectangle 10 ” x 8″
Adjustable Strap 1 1/2″ x 10 1/2 plus 1 1/2″ x 44″

Notes on fabric
It is up to you whether you use all the same fabric for the inner and outer, or whether you mix it up and use the lining fabric for the outside pocket and the outer fabric for the inner pocket, whether you have a combination of fabrics on the strap, or just one. This one pattern can look very different through using very different fabrics. It is also a great pattern for embellishing with applique on the flap. I have made it using drill cotton, quilting cotton, decorator weight cotton, duck cloth and combinations of all of the above! Using the fusible fleece gives it body and form, even when it is lightweight fabric.

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If you want to make a standard strap, without the adjustable slides, then just use the 44″ width, without the shorter piece. The magnetic snap is optional – but I find it useful to be able to close the bag for a bit of added security.

In this pattern the orange Chinoiserie (by Anna Griffin) is the outer, and the green millefiori (by Kaffe Fassett) is in the inner.

Instructions
1. Fuse the interface (the 2″ x2″ pieces) to the outer body piece, and the inner flap piece.  This interfacing is for providing support to the magnetic snap.

For the outer body piece, the interfacing will be attached to the wrong side of the fabric, so that it covers the point 7″ from the top of the piece (the top is the 10 1/2′ width), and half way across. (I usually just fold it length wise to find the middle, then put the piece of interfacing across the half way mark. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For the inner flap, the interfacing will be attached to the wrong side of the fabric, 9″ from the top of the flap (or 1 1/2″ from the bottom!), and half way across.  (The flap is 8 1/2″ wide and 10 1/2″ long). When determining which is the ‘top’ of the flap, consider the direction of any pattern – the snap will be at the bottom of the flap, so at the bottom of any directional print.

2. Fuse fleece to wrong side of outer fabric – body of the bag, the flap, and the strap. The fleece will cover the piece of interfacing that you have attached to the wrong side of the outer body.

3. Sew the strap. Place the wrong sides of the two short pieces together, and sew down either side with a 1/4″ seam.

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Turn inside out. Press the strap flat, with the seams flat, and top-stitch along both sides approximately 3/8″ from the edge. If you want to, you can stitch another row parallel to this, about the same distance in.  I usually turn the strap by attaching a safety pin and feeding it through the inside of the tube.  It can be a bit tight, but is manageable.
Repeat with the long strap pieces.

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4. To assemble the strap, fold the short piece in half, with the fabric that you want on the outer facing out. Slide the rectangle ring along the strap to the fold mark,

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then sew the ring in place securely, about 1/2″ away from the ring. (I normally use the edge of the presser foot as the guide.)

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Take the long piece of the strap, and fold it over the middle bar of the tri-glide buckle, and sew it down, tucking the raw end of the strap under to make it neat.  I normally sew a bit of reinforcing at this point.

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Then take the other end of the long strap, and slide it through the d-ring on the short piece, then back through the tri-glide buckle, going over the fabric attached to it.

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You now have your strap in one piece. If my pictures and description aren’t great then this tutorial by Nicole M Design is very helpful!

5.  The next step is to make your pockets.  For the outer pocket, fold the piece in half with the right sides together, so that you now have a 5″ square.  Sew along three sides, leaving a gap of about 3″ on one side, with a 1/4″ seam.  (The pocket in the photos is not the same dimensions, but the technique is the same.)

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Snip the corners carefully, then turn it inside out and press the seams flat.  Top stitch along the top of the pocket about 3/8″ from the edge.  (With a second line parallel to give it a nice finish if you wish.)

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This pocket will be attached to the rear of the bag, so you will be measuring from the opposite end that you measured for the interfacing.  I normally fold the pocket in half, and fold the body piece in half, so that I can line up the middle of the bag with the middle of the pocket.  Then measure 2 ” from the top of the bag, and, with the middle’s lined up, pin the pocket to the right side of the fabric.  Stitch along the side, across the bottom and back up the other side, making sure that you catch the seam that has been left open for the turning.  I normally try for about 3/8″ topstitching here too – and reinforce the tops of the pocket with a bit of extra stitching.  (I do love the reverse button on my machine for this!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI didn’t put a pocket on the bag I was making for the tutorial – but here is a photo of one I prepared earlier!

6. For the inner pocket the process if similar.  Put the two pieces together with the right sides together, and stich around all four sides, again leaving a gap for turning it out the right way.  Carefully clip the corners without cutting the stitches, then turn it out, and iron the seams flat.  Top stich along the top of the pocket and then attach it to the inner body of the bag.  Again I like to match the middle by folding the pocket and the bag and then lining them up, 2 1/2″ from the top of the inner piece.

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Stitch down the side, along the bottom and up the other side, again reinforcing the stitching at the beginning of the stitching and the end.  Then stich a line from the bottom of the pocket to the top at the mid point mark, reinforcing the stitching at the top and bottom.  This then gives you two 4″ pockets which are the right size for slipping a phone into, or keys, etc.  (In this bag my piece was smaller than 8″ wide, because I was trying to use up pieces that I had already cut, so the pockets are 4″ and 3″.)

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7. Assemble the flap.  If you want to embellish your flap, this is the time.  Some ideas are to use a solid fabric that contrasts or compliments your main fabric, or to use the same fabric as your main fabric for the body of the flap, and then applique on to it.  Once this is done, then you will create the curve at the bottom of the flap.  To do this place the two flap pieces with their right sides together.  Fold the fabric in half lengthwise, and then mark a spot 2″ from the bottom outer corner up the side and 2″ along the bottom.  Using chalk draw a curve between these two points (there is no such thing as a wrong curve with an area this small), then cut it through the four layers of fabric.

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8.  Before you sew the flap together you need to insert your magnetic snap.  To do this, fold, or measure to determine the middle of the flap, and mark a spot 9″ from the top of the bag (or 1 1/2″ from the bottom!)

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Then take the round flat piece of metal that comes with the snap, and centre the middle hole over your mark.  Mark the two long pieces with pencil or chalk, then cut those two long marks with a seam ripper, or a box-cutter with a sharp blade.  Then place the non-magnetic piece of the snap on the right side of the fabric and pass the two prongs through the two cuts.

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On the reverse side now place the metal guide over the prongs, and then bend the prongs down into the centre of the snap as flat as you can.

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9.  Then place your inner and outer flap pieces, right side together, and stitch around the edges, using a 1/4″ seam.  Don’t sew across the top of the flap.  Clip the edges of the curve, without clipping the seam, then turn it inside out, and iron it flat, making sure that the seams are properly pushed out.  (I have a lovely enamel blue chopstick that I use for this purpose – part of a sushi set my sister gave me years ago!).

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Then top stich around the edge about 3/8″ from the edge.  Again, you can do a second row parallel in order to give it a nice finish.

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10.  Next is putting together the bag inner.  Fold the inner body piece in half width wise, with the right sides together, so that you end up with a square of 10 1/2″ by 10 1/2″.  Sew up the two sides, using a 1/4″ seam.  If you have an overlocker (serger) this is a good time to use it to finish off the seams for some extra stability.

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11.  Then you are going to square off the base of the bag.  To do this, fold the side seam of the bag so that it lies on top of the fold across the bottom of the bag.  This will leave you with a triangle from the corner of the bag.

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(This is the outer bag in the photo – because I forgot to photograph the inner!)

Measure, pin and mark the point where this triangle is 2″ wide, with the 1″ mark falling on the side seam.  Repeat for the other corner.  Then sew across the mark.  Clip the corner off about 1/2″ from the seam.

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12.  Before assembling the outer body of the bag, you need to insert the other half of the magnetic snap.  Following the same procedure as you used for the flap, mark the spot 7″ from the top of the bag.  (If you like to have a bit more room to fill your bag a bit more, then you could move it up to 6 1/2″.)  This time you are cutting through the fused fleece, the interfacing, and the fabric, and inserting the magnetic half of the snap.

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13.  Then fold the outer body piece in half, right sides together, and sew up the two sides, with a 1/4″ seam.  Then square off the two bottom corners using the same method as the inner, and measuring 2″ wide.

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14.  Once this is done, turn the outer part of the bag so that the right side is facing out.  (Starting to take shape isn’t it?!)

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Now is the time to attach that strap, so take one end and pin it so that it sits long the outside of the side seam of the bag, and reaches just over the top of the bag’s top edge.  The right side of the strap should be facing the right side of the bag.  That means that the top of the tri-glide buckle will be facing in towards the bag.

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Sew across the top of the strap about 3/8″ from the edge to secure it to the bag.  Then, making sure that the strap isn’t twisted, sew the other side of the strap to the other side of the bag.

15.  Next up is the flap.  Line it up so that the top of the flap sits next to the top of the bag, with the right sides facing each other.  The flap should fill the gap between the two straps, and should be sitting on the opposite side of the bag to the side with the snap, and over the external pocket if you added one.  Pin it in place then stitch along the edge of the point where they join, about 3/8″ from the edge.  (This is to hold it in place and then you will stitch over it again a couple more times.  The main thing here is to remember that the next seam needs to be wider than whatever you have used here, so that your initial holding stitch doesn’t show.)

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16.  Now comes the magical part where the bits come together and turn into something greater than the whole of their parts!  (So poetic!)  Put the outer of the bag inside the inner bag, with the right sides together.  Tuck the flap and the straps inside in between the outer and inner so that they are flat at the top of the bag.  I like to have the inner pockets on the opposite side from the outer pocket, so the inner pockets go on the side away from the flap.

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17. Match up the side seams and pin along the edges, easing if you need to so that the two bags match up.  Then stitch along the edge of the top, using a seam between 1/4″ and 1/2″ – remembering that you need to cover the earlier stitching of the straps and the flap.  Start about two inches away from the middle on the front (the side where the magnetic snap is, and the flap isn’t) and sew all the way around, stopping about two inches from the middle on the front.  (In other words leaving a gap of about 4″ at the top to allow room to turn the bag out to the right sides.) Add some reinforcing stitching over the two straps, and the edges of the flap.

18.  Now turn the bag right side out by pulling it through the gap in the stitching.  You should end up with something like this below.

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19.  Now tuck the inner down inside the outer and iron the top so that the seam is flat and the gap is turned under ready for top stitching.  Next comes the top stitching.  As you will see, there are two options for this.  I started by sewing all the way around the top of the bag, making sure to catch the gap and close it, by sewing on the outside of the bag.

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20.  Unfortunately when I inspected my handiwork I discovered that this had happened to the inner lining.

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The top stitching over the flap was messy, had caught up the lining, and generally didn’t look very tidy.  So I unpicked it and re-stitched, this time sewing on the inside of the bag.

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And the finished product was much neater!

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A quick press with the iron and hey presto – you have a bag!

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I can’t wait to see what combinations you come up with to make your own bags – or bags as Christmas presents!  If you want to put a zipped pocket on the inside – or outside for that matter – then this tutorial from U-Handbag is a great guide on how to do it.  (And using a contrasting lining is always a nice touch!)

If you want to make the bag larger, it is just a matter of adding to the width, the length, and/or the depth (by making a wider triangle across the bottom corners).  To keep the flap covering the bag, you need to make the flap the width of the bag, less the depth of the bag.  In this case the width was 10 1/2″, and the depth was 2″,  so the flap needed to be 8 1/2″ wide.

Please let me know if you have any questions, and if I have missed anything along the way!  Happy sewing! If you want to use this pattern to make bags for selling, please credit me with the pattern by stating “Pattern by Theresa van Gessel of alittlebirdmademe.com.

Friday finds – a list of gifts to make for a 7 year old boy (with links to free tutorials)

In a few weeks time the boy will be turning 7. Oh my! My baby is really not a baby anymore. And then it is a month until Christmas. (Now I need to lie down!) So it is time to start thinking about gifts. Again! I do love handmade gifts for my kids. Last Christmas the boy was very upset when he opened his Christmas Eve present and found a pair of pjs I had made him. “A fabric present?” he spat in horror. Once I had him calmed down I explained that I had made the pyjamas for him with my love, so that when he slept in them he was surrounded by my love. He has embraced the concept with relish and joy and is so excited to wear or use things that I have made him now, and reminds me that it means that he is carrying my love with him. But…… there is a limit to the number of gifts that you can sew for a boy, even one as gorgeous as mine, as they get older. And to be honest, for a girl too! But I am determined to find special things to make for my special boy, to complement the Lego I will no doubt give in and purchase for him……again.

This list is designed to work in the same way that the one for 9 year old girls worked – to help me filter through ideas and distill some of my own to suit my boy. (With the girls list I took the concept of a reading nook and adapted it to make curtains for the middle chick’s top bunk to give her a space of her own.) And hopefully it will help some of you with the holiday season creeping rushing up on us!

My boy may be extra energetic (truly hyperactive!) but I think that all boys this age need the ability to run around and make noise, and burn off energy.  So I have been thinking of gifts that will enable that.

Skateboard sling – The boy Trifecta  (You can tell that she is the mother of boys!!)

Water gun holster – The Boy Trifecta

I also think that a satchel, with an adjustable strap to be worn across the body, with lots of external pockets would be great for carrying Nerf guns and bullets, or going on an adventure, or a variety of other outdoor activities.  There are a number of patterns you could adapt to this by just adding pockets, but here are a couple of suggestions.

Toddler messenger bag – Kyle and Renae Hill

Messenger Bag – No Time to Sew

Of course if they are going to be outside, then a hat is a must.  Being able to personalise it will help.  (I am thinking that a Star Wars hat might be just the thing to encourage my boy to keep his hat on!)

4 in 1 Bucket Hat – Sew Much Ado

Sun Hat – April Cobb Designs

At 7 is he starting to think that he is a bit grown up, and to want control over his own ‘things’.  So it is probably time for his own wallet.  Both of these patterns look just right!

Basic Boys wallet – Noodlehead

Summertime wallet – The Purl Bee

wallet

Some games for indoors are required too.  I need to accept the reality that my chicks are going to play with their electronic games, in the mix of all the things that they do.  So a cover for a DS, and/or an iPod touch are always useful.

This one is in French – but you can translate it using google!  DS Wallet – By Gabs

Electronics cozy – Make it – Love it

He doesn’t have an iPad or Kindle, but if he did I would be using this pattern DiY Harry Potter Kindle Cover – Skip to the Details

to try and emulate this picture (which despite much searching I cannot find the originator of to give credit to.)

If I ask my boy what his favourite games or Lego are at the moment he will answer with one of the following – Star Wars, Ninjago, Chima, Spiderman, or Minecraft .  So this pillowcase might go down well!

Ninjago Pillowcase – Crazy Little Projects

Or I could get away with a soft toy if it looked like this!

Chewbacc Softie pattern – Draw Pilgrim

I could probably also get away with this!

Boyville tutorial and download – Lil Blue Boo

DIY superhero peg dolls with free download via lilblueboo.com

For when he has a group of mates over and they all need a light saber I love this concept!

Havoc and Mayhem

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Given the sheer volume of Lego that he already has, perhaps this is actually what is called for!

Lego Storage – Freshly Pieced

For quieter times (we can but hope) I think that these games would be great!

Take along games – Dana Made It

A place to sit and read (or in our case to wriggle and squirm) all of his own would also be good.

Bean Bag Chair – Alderwood quilts

Bean Bag Chair - Free Pattern.  www.AlderwoodQuilts.com

He does love his bath – joined by many action figures and Lego “guys”, so maybe his own bath stuff could be good too!

Boy Bath Bombs – Design Dazzle

Homemade Bubble Bath – eHow

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I also found this great idea on Pinterest – but cannot find the source.  Under the photo it says

“Science Experiment Tool Box! Made an 8 year old boy birthday gift with ingredients, supplies (all from the dollar store), & instructions for 4 experiments: make a lava lamp, balloon inflator, foam fountain, & gak (dragon slime).  I had some 7 year old help with the labels ☺. Thank you Science Bob!”

Science Experiment Tool Box! Made an 8 year old boy birthday gift with ingredients, supplies (all from the dollar store), & instructions for 4 experiments: make a lava lamp, balloon inflator, foam fountain, & gak (dragon slime).  I had some 7 year old help with the labels ☺. Thank you Science Bob! #scienceisawesome

In addition to the links that I provided in my post on the Science Party, the site referred to, Science Bob has a great list of experiments!

Ideas that have already been successful for him, but might be useful for you to consider:

Super Hero Cape – Ann Kelle

Fort Kit – Saltwater Kids

I have also previously made him a Jedi Knight cloak – and it is the source of much envy by his friends who visit.  I didn’t do this from a link, but used a pattern that I had already purchased and used to make Harry Potter robes (of course!).  Oh – that is another idea, as he does love his HP robe.  The pattern I use for these and other costumes is Simplicity 1583 – I just adjust the sleeve width depending on the character!

And finally, many of the ideas that I used for his sister in this List, would also work for him – just with different colours or fabric.

So – I hope that you can find some ideas in here for the young men in your life.  Now to narrow down the options for my boy, in time for his birthday!!