Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pram carrybag

Here is a bag for carrying a lightweight pram around. Why would someone need this? Well, I often find that, when catching a bus or ferry, I have my hands full carrying kids and gear. I don´t have a spare hand free for the pram. Or if I do, I need that hand to hold onto a railing or something. I´ve had Wellington bus drivers start the bus again, while I´m still finding a seat, while carrying a 6 month old baby, all my bags, and holding a 4 year old´s hand, plus dragging a pram behind me. So, having a hand free is pretty useful.

It is basically constructed in the same way as the large version of the drawstring bag from Heather Ross´ Weekend Sewing book The length is 90% the length of the pram (some of this is lost when the base of the bag is cornered, and the width is the circumference of the pram (when folded) plus about 10cm. The material is all recycled - some old placemats of all things, and the black is my husbands old work pants. There was a quite a trick to doing the shoulder strap though. Although I can still use it just fine as is, I didn´t quite get it right on this bag, and I know how I would do it differently next time...

Baby seals near Kaikoura, South Island, New Zealand

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Handmade Checkers game - first draft

I want to make a floor checkers/draughts game for my son, which I´ll print on fabric with linocut stamps. Above are the first drafts of the checker pieces. They are 8cm wide calico circle beanbags. One side will be a seagull printed in black fabric paint. I haven´t drawn a seagull for the reverse side of that beanbag yet (you turn the beanbag over when you queen a piece). The opponent will have 3 minnow fish design (the reverse side is one big fish when you queen the piece). I´ll probably print those in some sort of bright red colour. The stamp images have to be cleaned up a bit and the beanbag template made half a cm larger to fit the images better. But I think this will work out OK.

The checker board will also be stamped on calico, with some sort of ocean image, possibly printed in 3 different colours each. I´ve done about 20 different possible templates - who knew drawing the ocean would be so hard? It needs to be so clearly a water image that even a five year old would recognise it - nothing too esoteric. I´ve settled on the bottom left hand design, with the lighthouse on the left hand side. [I´ve since finished this game here].

Lena Corwin´s book Printing by Hand explains how to do stamping, screenprinting, linocuts, printing etc. It was really good because, although I decided to do linocuts in the end, I was able to think through all the other printing possibilities too. My next project after this one will be a Chinese Checkers board for the floor which I´ll probably screenprint.

East Cape, North Island, New Zealand

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bandana from Alabama Chanin book

After ages thinking through how to paint fabric, which paints in NZ to buy, colour choices, etc etc, I decided to just check what t-shirts I had in my cupboard and go for it. I was looking for something very loud and 60´s, as I am really into making vintage clothes at the moment (once I lose those joyfully obtained, but hard to shift, Xmas kilos).

I cut up my two loudest old t-shirts, and used red paint and bright orange thread. The shirts did have a side seam, but I figure that would be at the bit that ties, so it probably wouldn´t matter.

Well, I wonder whether my tshirts were just too old, or stretched? Do they have different cotton fabric in America? Maybe this fabric was too cheap and thin? It was very hard to sew, and stretched way too much while handsewing. More than I think they would be supposed to. I won´t keep going with this particular project. So I used the chance to try out different lengths of stitches etc, and cut out the leaves to get a glimpse of how the final effect might have looked like if finished.

I did buy some new knit fabric to make into a skirt, which has nothing like the stretch of my old shirts, so that´s fine. But I had been hoping to turn all my old tshirts into Alabama Chanin creations, keeping in with the recycling ethos of the book, and I think this seems unlikely now.

A Church on the point, Bay of Plenty, North Island, New Zealand

Handmade Dots and Dashes Game

I´ve only ever seen this game done with pen and paper, but I thought it would translate well to a floor game. I think the game is called Dots and Dashes, but maybe it has other names too.


This has been made with 10 cm sticks (cut from longer twigs after we trimmed the garden hedge). The sticks are about 5mm thick and easy to cut.

You need one set of markers for each player. Its usually a 2 player game, but no reason why it couldn´t have more players. The kids and I collected pebbles from the river, and initially I thought we would have a different coloured set of stones for each player. The blue stones turned out terrifically, but I really preferred leaving the stones unpainted. in the end. So, use stones, shells, driftwood, pumice, large sticks cut into disks etc etc.

I´d make about 60-80 sticks in total, and collect about 10-30 markers of each type for each player. If your kids are young, they will probably be happy to have the game end when the markers run out, so do a small number, say 10. For older kids, collect more markers. Pictured right are some different types of markers I found at the beach and river. I´ve since made little bags for the game to hold the pieces.


  • Each person chooses whether they want the their marker to be shells, pebbles etc (whatever you have collected). Each player has their pile of markers beside them.

  • Have the sticks in a pile so everyone can reach them.

  • To start, put a stick in the middle of the floor.

  • Then each player lays down one stick in their go. You can lay down a stick to make the side of a square in any direction, but it has to be touching the end of an existing stick.

  • The aim is to be the person to lay down a stick that finishes the fourth side of a square – then that person puts one of their markers in that square and it gives them one point. At the end of the game, the winner is the person with the most markers placed.

  • The game ends when the last stick is used, or person has used up all their markers (whichever you choose).

I was inspired to do this game for my 5 year old son after reading The Creative Family by Amanda Soule-Blake.

It wasn´t quite all smooth sailing collecting the pebbles and things for the game though.... My eldest preferred to collect gravel instead of pebbles at the river ;o), and my one-year old biffed the eldest on the head with his pebbles a few times. We collected sticks together from our garden hedge, but my eldest took them away to make a house for his wombat. So, I really did most of the actual collecting and making myself when the kids weren´t looking. But since making the game, we do make a point of gathering things together for it, like pumice and driftwood at the beach, and that´s been a lot of fun. And I´ve had a lot of fun thinking through the logistics of making the game.

My eldest might be a bit young for a game like this, but I think he´ll grow into it. He kind of likes it, but prefers to make pictures with the sticks and stones instead. But that has been fun too. Here are some other things to do with the pieces...

Kaikoura, looking south, South Island, New Zealand

Christmas embroidery

Here is a Christmas Wallhanging from the 2008 (I think) Christmas Crafts magazine, called It´s Christmas Time at Last. I made it in 2009 but just finished the backing last week.