Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Cool For Cats....(part 3) Toms In Tuxedos!

This is the last in our 3-part series of tutorials to make your cat the best-dressed cat in town. Today we're going to show you how to make a cute cat-tuxedo, so your cat can pretend he's James Bond, while you pretend he's actually your butler (as if a cat would ever wait hand-and-foot on a human!)

Obviously, some cats already have their own immaculate, natural, tuxedos (and matching white gloves) and may prefer to stick with other accessories, but others may need a little a little human intervention to help them 'get the look'

You will need:

1 plain black adjustable cat-collar with a 'quick-release' clasp

1 x 4" (10cm) square piece of Black felt

1 x 4" (10cm) square of White felt

Approx 15" of 1/2" wide black ribbon

A needle and some white & black thread

A small amount of iron-on hem-webbing (optional)

Unlike the bow-ties & bandanas in the previous two posts, the tuxedos are actually easier to sew by hand.

First, cut your basic felt shapes as shown in the pictures below, curving the sides inwards toward the bottom to form a 'bib' shape. The white layer will need to be slightly smaller than the black layer.

When you lay the white layer on top of the black, you should have a narrow border of black visible at the sides and bottom

Next, cut a piece of your ribbon approx 5" long, so that it overlaps the sides of your 'shirt-front'.

You can secure the ribbon to the felt using by laying a  small amount of hem-webbing between the ribbon and the felt and ironing it if you wish, or if not, just pin it into position, turn the felt over, and stitch the overlapping ends of the ribbon to the felt. 

Next, cut another section of ribbon, approx 6" long. Overlap the ends to form a loop, and stitch it together, then find the centre of the flattened loop, and stitch all the way through to form the basis of your 'bow'

Then cut a small piece from your remaining ribbon, approx 1.5" long, wrap it around the centre of the bow to form the 'knot', and stitch into place.

Next, sew the back of the bow to the centre of the band of ribbon on the shirt front, making sure to sew through both the ribbon AND the felt, securing all the layers together.

Place your white layer on top of the black layer, and sew them together just above the top of the bow-tie.

If you try to stitch along the top line of the ribbon, when you thread your collar through, it should line up with the bow tie, giving the appearance of being one continuous piece.

Then sew around the bottom curve of the white layer, to secure it to the black layer. Again, at this point, you can also secure the two layers at the centre of the 'bib' with iron-on webbing, but be sure to place it low enough that it doesn't block the channel where the collar fits through.

Finally, turn the tips of the 'shirt-collar' over and secure the with a few tiny stitches.

Of course, you can make your own variations - If you'd like to make one for your dog, then just increase the basic dimensions until it is the right size (and remember to leave a much deeper channel than for a cat, as dog-collars tend to be thicker, as well as deeper, and will need more room) Alternatively, you could use festive Christmas ribbon for the bow tie, as it's almost that time of year....but don't expect your cat to bring you trays of hot-mince pies or Christmas pudding!

NB. As with all the other pet-accessories featured on our blog, we recommend (for cats at least) that you only use them with a quick-release, or 'breakaway' collar, and would also advise only using the accessories indoors, so that you can ensure your cat's safety.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Cool For Cats... (part 2) Bandanas For Beginners

Hot on the heels of our cat bow-tie tutorial, we now have another idea for turning your cat into a fashion icon - Cat bandanas!

Like the bow-ties, these are also fairly inexpensive and quick to make. You can either buy a full-sized bandana to cut down (in which case you'll have enough fabric to make four or five and share them with your friends) or any scraps of leftover cotton fabric that you may have.

If you're using a full sized bandana, the first thing you'll need to do is remove some of the edge. most bandanas have well over an inch of fabric between the border and the hem, and unless you trim it, as you're only using a small part of the patterned section, you'll lose some of the bandana print. 

So, first, fold over the hem of the bandana to the point where you want your hem to be, and iron it so you form a well defined crease.

Then, trim off some of the excess edge, making sure you leave enough to fold over and form a new hem, using your ironed crease as a guide-line.

Then fold the edge back under along the crease line and lay your bandana (or piece of fabric) flat. If using a full sized bandana, you will be working with the corners to utilise the pattern and give the look of a normal, folded bandana when worn. For any other piece of fabric, you may wish to make yourself a template first. You will need to cut a piece that looks like this...

Next, fold the raw edges from point B to point C and stitch to form your new hem.

Then, turn the raw edges between points A & B inwards and secure. This will give a nice neat edge to the channel you are about to create, where your cat's collar will fit.

Finally, ensuring that there is enough room to easily insert the clasp of your cat's collar at either end, turn over the top edge of the bandana  so that point A matches up with point B on either side, and sew along the edge, right across the bandana.

And there you have your finished bandana - just thread your collar* through the channel and add a cat!

(if using a full sized bandana, as well as the four corners, you should also be able to make a fifth bandana from the centre part of the fabric. (see above right)

*As with  the bow-ties in our previous post, we recommend only using the bandanas on collars with a quick-release 'breakaway' clasp as shown below.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Cool For Cats...Pussycat Bows

Here's an easy and inexpensive way to make sure your cat is the best dressed feline in your street this Christmas, just like our model, Milo!

All you will need is a scrap of soft cotton fabric approx 9" (23cms) square, and some matching thread. You can easily sew the bow-ties by hand, or with a sewing machine.

First cut a square of fabric 4" (10cms) square, adding a little extra at each edge for seam allowance, and fold the square in half, right side facing inwards.

Then, stitch along the longest edge of the folded fabric 

Turn the fabric right side out, and arrange so that the seam line is approx 2/3 of the way down the flattened  'tube'. Then turn the raw edges at either end of the tube in on themselves, and sew closed (see below)

This will form the main part of the bow-tie. Now you'll need to make the 'knot' at the centre. From your scrap of fabric, cut a piece approximately 2.5 inches (6cms) by 4 inches (10cms). Fold it in half lengthways, with the right-side facing inwards, and sew  down the long edge. Then turn right side out, as before, and flatten with the seam line in the middle.

Take the main body of the bow-tie, and with the wrong side/back of the bow tie facing you, lay the long piece you have just made right-side/front upwards on top, at the centre, turning in the raw edges as you do so. The strip should end slightly above the seam line of the larger piece. Then sew through ALL layers of both pieces (two rows of stitching will ensure it won't come undone) The stitching  you will see on the front of the bow-tie won't be noticeable once the 'knot' is in place.

Your bow-tie should then look like this...

Obviously, the long thin part of the bow-tie is much longer than necessary, but this makes it easier to sew, and gives you plenty of room for adjustment for your final 'knot'

Once you've got an idea of how much length you actually need, cut off the excess, and turn the raw edges in on themselves. Pin the end to the rest of the bow, and then make sure you can get the clasp of your cat's collar through gap that's left.

Once you're happy with how it looks, remove the collar, & simply stitch the loose edge to the attached part of the knot

Once it's finished and secured, re-thread the collar* through the back, and it's ready to wear!

*SAFETY NOTE: We recommend ONLY using a quick-release or 'breakaway' collar for wearing any type of cat-accessory. Should the bow-tie become caught on anything while your cat is playing, a collar with a catch like the one below will quickly come undone and prevent serious injury or stress to your pet. Under NO circumstances would we advocate threading the bows onto ribbon, or cord, and tying them around your cat's neck.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

"In The Rigging" T-shirt DIY

This summer, like most summers in memory, nautical trends seem to be dominating magazine spreads. I'd seen a lot of anchor-print tops and scarves in shops, but none were quite right for me - either they had lace or cutouts in funny places, or the designer had gone overboard with the diamant├ęs, or they were navy and subsequently too similar to my old school uniform (never again!)

For a long time I'd wanted to try stencilling clothes with freezer paper, so this seemed like the ideal chance. Armed with a cheap stripy t-shirt (black and white, not navy this time) and a roll of the paper, I freehanded my outline and got to work. I stretched my t-shirt out over a drawing board and secured it with small bulldog clips and pegs to prevent movement, and then ironed over the stencil to securely bond it to the shirt.

Once the stencil has adhered (using a steam setting on the iron helps enormously!) I dabbed the fabric paint on with a sponge - all we had was a scrubby washing-up sponge, but it did the job. Luckily, I had some silver fabric paint left over from a disastrous earlier attempt at t-shirt design. At first it went on thinly and the shirt's stripes were still visible in between, but additional coats took care of that. I dried each layer of paint with a hairdryer and cooled it off with the cold shot function, but that's because I'm an impatient blogger and I want my new shirt. You can wait for it to dry naturally if you're more patient than me.

Once the fabric paint is totally dry, pull gently on the edges and the freezer paper peels off to reveal clean lines. Set the paint according to the manufacturer's instructions, wash the shirt if necessary to remove any residue from the paper, and you're good to go.

I think I'll wear mine with red lipstick, jeans, black and white Vans, a black leather cuff and possibly a bandana - a little more edgy than your traditional nautical look, but why not?

p.s. 10 internet points and a virtual cookie to anyone who gets the reference in this post's title.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Hobbit House Cross Stitch Chart

Following on from our post a couple of months ago, which featured blackwork charts for a poem from The Hobbit, written in Tengwar, we've now designed a cross stitch chart featuring Bilbo Baggin's house from The Hobbit/Lord Of The Rings films!

The chart measures 188 squares x 88, so stitched on 14ct Aida, it should measure approximately 13.5 inches by 6.5 inches, although you could leave a bigger gap at the edges, or add your own border to it.  You'll need six or seven shades of green thread for the grass and plants, four or five shades of brown/beige for the walls, window frames etc, some pale blue for the windows, grey and yellow for the lantern, colours of your choice for the flowers, small amounts of gold for the door-knob and blue for Gandalf's mark on the door. Alternatively, you could sew a small, decorative brass button in the centre of the door for the door-knob, or use seed-beads for the flowers.

Happy stitching! 

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

How To Make A Japanese Cherry Blossom Brooch/Pin

Spring is almost here again, and in London's parks the blossoms will soon be opening, and filling the trees with gorgeous pink froth like this, (taken in Kensington Gardens last spring)

Unfortunately, the blossoms don't last for long, so I decided to make a pin that would mean we could have blossoms all year round!

To make your own Japanese Cherry Blossom pin, you will need

Pink felt (2 slightly different shades)

Green felt

2 small buttons 

A 38mm brooch pin

Embroidery threads

Hot-Glue Gun

A small, plastic food carton (the sort of thing a microwaveable meal comes in)

To begin, you will need to cut 2 large, and two small flower shapes from your pink felt, and 2 backing pieces (leaves) from your green felt as shown in the templates below

Then you will need to cut a small piece from your plastic food carton, that will fit inside the backing pieces to stiffen it, leaving a big enough border around the edges for you to be able to blanket-stitch the two pieces together comfortably. 

Now you're ready to begin assembling your pin

Arrange the two layers of pink felt one on top of the other and chain-stitch up the centre of each of the five petals, through both layers of felt

Then add your button at the centre  (I was lucky enough to have some vintage flower buttons from the 1950's that somebody had given me, but any buttons will do)

Next, sew your brooch-pin onto the back of one of your green pieces (I've used two different colour greens, so it's easier to differentiate each piece, but you can use 2 the same colour)

I like to finish mine off by covering the stitching with a piece of matching felt, or ribbon, which I attach with the hot-glue gun

Next, use the hot glue gun to fix the piece of plastic to the other piece of green felt, then once the glue has cooled, add more glue to the top of the plastic piece and carefully position the second layer on top

Blanket stitch around the edges of the backing

Then position your two blossoms on the backing, overlapping them slightly, carefully glue into position, and once the glue has set your pin is ready to wear!

You could try other colour variations too, maybe white on white, white/pink, or maybe magenta and cerise, like this one...

Or, alternatively, use blue felt to create Love-in-a-mist (Nigella) flowers, using loops of ribbon stitched into place on the top backing layer to represent the fern-like leaves of the plant, then gluing the flowers into place on top. 

The pins shown in this tutorial are currently for sale in our Etsy shop (at time of posting) with all profits being donated to the Blue Cross animal charity