Saturday, March 17, 2012

Angry Birds Birthday Party

Lincoln celebrated his birthday with an Angry Birds-themed party.  For weeks I asked friends and neighbors to save large boxes so we could build this beauty - a live action version of Angry Birds

Behold boxes and pigs.  We modified a water balloon launcher to fit playground balls, a.k.a. the angry birds.

We bought rubber playground balls and painted them to look like angry birds.  More accurately, Ben painted.  I wish I could take credit, but I just bought the balls.  I sprayed two coats of sealant over the painted area, but I don't think the sealant did much good.  After a few days of playing with the balls, the bird paintings are pretty well chipped off.  At least they looked great for the party.

The red bird.

Sorry for the awkward crop.  Almost all of my party photos have other people's children in them, so no go for the blog-o. You'll have to trust me that this super cute kid has gorgeous eyes, because he does.

We used green balloons for the pigs.  Ben filled each balloon with a scoop of sand to weigh it down before inflating it.  Artistic credit again goes to Ben.

I bought the long, thin boxes at the Container Store.

 The kids loved knocking down the pigs and rebuilding with the boxes.

The kids had enough fun playing Angry Birds outside that the indoor portion of the party was pretty minimal.

We had a golden egg huntThink Easter egg hunt.  I bought a pack of gift bags at Target and added tags with pictures of Angry Birds.  The children used these bags to hold their eggs during the hunt.

If you look to the right of the gift bags, you'll also see a pile of small rubber balls.  I bought balls for each child at the dollar store.  We started the party by building small versions of the Angry Birds game indoors.  We had stations of things the children could use to build towers - wooden building blocks, Jenga, Lincoln Logs, Solo cups, you name it.  Then we had a variety of small balls - Nerf balls, small rubber bouncy balls, etc. that the kids could roll - ROLL - at their towers.  No, I did not allow 12 kids to throw balls in my house.  Though of course a few had to try it anyway.

I bought a pack of Angry Birds mylar balloons on Amazon and had them filled at my local grocery store.

Lincoln wanted cupcakes instead of a traditional cake.  Gotta love easy.  Find the printables from Sherry K Designs HERE.

I printed each Angry Bird large enough to fill an 8.5x11 piece of paper, then cut out the birds and strung them together to make a banner.

Angry Birds t-shirt tutorial
And of course the birthday boy wore his new Angry Birds t-shirt.  Find my DIY tutorial HERE.

Friday, February 24, 2012

TUTORIAL: Angry Birds T-shirt

Preparations are in full swing for this handsome little man's Angry Birds-themed birthday party.  I surprised him with this t-shirt to wear on the big day.  Here's the DIY tutorial.

  • Image of Angry Bird - see below to print your own
  • Red t-shirt
  • Small pieces of black, white, and yellow knit fabric
  • Paper-backed fusible web, such as Wonder Under or Heat 'n Bond Lite (I used Heat 'n Bond but either product will work.)
  • Optional: transfer paper (tracing paper) and stylus or pencil
  • sewing machine, thread, scissors
  • iron and ironing board
1. Print image of Angry Bird onto computer paper.
Right-click on the image above to save it.

Crop and size the face to fit your t-shirt.

Print your image.  I printed the face large enough to fill an entire 8.5 x 11 piece of computer paper.

2. Fuse fabric to Heat 'n Bond Lite.
Use your Angry Bird picture as a guide to know how large to cut each piece of fabric.  TIP: It's easiest to use one square of black large enough to cut everything black, one square of yellow large enough to cut everything yellow, and one square of white large enough to cut everything white rather than use a seperate piece of fabric for each piece of the applique.

Cut your Heat 'n Bond slightly smaller than your fabric.  This prevents the adhesive on the Heat 'n Bond from sticking to your ironing board.  Follow the directions that came with your Heat 'n Bond to fuse it to the wrong side of your fabric.

3. Trace and cut shapes for your Angry Bird applique.
If you have transfer paper (tracing paper), lay it face down on the right side of your black fabric.  TIP: If you're worried about the tracing paper leaving marks on the finished product, flip over the black fabric and trace the image on the wrong side (onto the paper part of the Heat 'n Bond).  Your image will be reversed, but you're guaranteed to not see any marks from the tracing paper.

Use a stylus or the plastic tip of a mechanical pencil to trace the outline of the black face background.  Press hard enough for the transfer paper to leave an image on the black fabric.

NOTE: If you do NOT have transfer paper, simply cut the image with scissors and trace around eaach piece.  Cut around the black backround first, then trace.  Then cut out each piece of the face and trace each one individually.

Here's what the outline looks like.  Cut out the face, then use the rest of the black fabric to make the pupils for the eyes.

Repeat the process for each piece of the face.  You should have:
  • Black background
  • Two black pupils for the eyes
  • Two pieces of white fabric for the eyes
  • White fabric for the teeth/mouth
  • Two yellow pieces for the beak

4. Fuse each piece of the bird's face to your shirt.
Peel the paper backing off each piece of fabric.

Follow the directions that came with your Heat 'n Bond to fuse the face to your shirt.  Fuse the pieces IN THIS ORDER (you're working from the bottom up). 
  • Fuse the black background onto the t-shirt.
  • Fuse all the white and yellow pieces onto the black.  You can do all five pieces at the same time.
  • Fuse the black pupils onto the white eyes.
If you try to adhere all the pieces at once, the bottom pieces won't get hot enough to stick to the shirt unless you overheat the top pieces.  TIP: If you got eager and put everything on the t-shirt and started ironing, don't worry.  Check the edges of your applique to see how well everything adhered to your shirt.  If you have small patches of the bottom pieces that are loose, go ahead and sew down the applique (see below), then turn the shirt inside out and try setting the Heat 'n Bond from the inside of the shirt.

5. Sew around each piece of the applique.
Use a zig sag stitch to sew around the edges of each pieces of the applique.  I used thread that matched each piece - yellow thread on the beak, white on the eyes and mouth/teeth, and black for the pupils and background.

If my presser foot looks funny, it's because I used a clear applique foot so I could see my work more easily.  A regular foot will work just fine.

Here were my settings.  Stitch width = 2.7.  Sitch length = 2.0.  I used short, overlapping stitches to secure the ends.  TIP: It's important to use a zig zag stitch, not a straight stitch, since knits need to stretch.

Iron the shirt one last time to set the stitches.  Then voila! - you're done!

Please leave a comment if you make a shirt (or tote bag, or towel, or whatever else you want to applique) using this tutorial.  I'd love to see your good work!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Image Credits and Watermarks

In my best motherly voice:

Gather 'round, children. Let me give you a lesson on blogging.

The first thing to know about blogging is this: always, always watermark your photos.

Second and probably most important, if you use a picture from another source, you MUST give credit.  Or eventually someone will flood you with nastygrams, threaten you with bloodsucking lawyers, and complain about you to all of their friends.

Case in point:  See this cheery Valentine?  I posted it back in 2009.  That was back when my blog was even smaller than it is now and I never thought about watermarking my photos.  (For the sake of today's post, I dug up the photo and added the watermark.)

Fast forward to today.  A national retail craft chain included my card in this inspiration board.  You likey these Valentines?  We carry supplies for you to make your own!  Buy now!  Nevermind that the inspiration board is a bit of a hack job, the problem is that the retailer removed the artists' watermarks, altered the photos, and failed to compensate, credit, or even notify the artists.  In my case, my photo didn't have a watermark, but someone did lift it from my blog.  (The bright red lines were added by the lady who sent this screenshot.)

Yes, I know people post other people's pictures on their blogs all the time.  But for a retailer - who has a marketing department, social media staff, and a legal advisor - to post someone else's photos is a different situation in my book.  Retailers should know better.

Craft stores publish project ideas all the time.  The difference is this: projects created for publication are created by designers who receive compensation for their work.

Of course I like sharing my work; that's why I blog.  But if people use my idea - either to re-post the original work or use it as inspiration for a different project - I always appreciate receiving credit, especially with a link back to the original post.  I try to do the same for others.

If I'm being honest, I'm more flattered than offended.  I don't blog to make money.  I like sharing ideas and borrowing ideas that others have shared.  The fact that someone noticed my card and liked it enough to think they could make money with it makes me smile.  What's even more amusing is that they used my lousy picture.

Finally, I'm most amazed at the people who hunted me down and told me about my card.  Either I have more loyal blog followers than I thought or your sleuthing skills are amazing.  Either way, thank you!  Though I don't care to take action beyond this post on my blog, I appreciate others looking out for my interests.

So, consider today's lessons learned.  1) Watermark your photos.  2) Give credit where credit is due.

Should I end with an amen?

ETA - the retailer has apologized and removed the image.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Gifts from Grandma

Grandma Patti came to visit a few weeks ago and brought these handmade lovelies.  First, a pair of matching Christmas pillow cases.  One for each of my boys.  What cute needlework!

My boys have slept on these pillowcases for the past month.  I was scared to death to wash them, but fortunately all the embroidery stayed intact and the pillowcases still look great.

Charlotte is still too young for a pillow.  So Grandma made her a new stocking.  Every child needs her own stocking, right?

Growing up I had a needlepoint stocking that my aunt made for me.  I've asked my mom for a it a few times since I've moved out on my own.  My mom still won't give it to me.  I think she likes keeping mementos of family around to make her empty nest feel like home.

Back to Charlotte's stocking - If you look closely, you can see that that every piece is hand appliqued.  Every sequin is topped with a tiny bead and sewn on by hand.  This took a lot of time and love.

Isn't that a cheery, warm-hearted little snowman?

Grandma Patti also knit two bibs for Charlotte.  I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture before I used them (duh me!) and now they're in the wash.  Charlotte will definitely be sporting her Christmas bibs on the holiday, so hopefully I'll get a good photo then.

Monday, December 19, 2011

By Brighton: Christmas Knitting

Brighton picked up a new hobby: knitting.  Grandma Patti taught him to knit while she was here.  But Grandma's a lefty; Brighton's a righty.

My one attempt at knitting bordered on complete failure.  So Brighton took his knitting to his school, where handwork is encouraged, and his teacher taught him how to knit right-handed.

Brighton's making a scarf as a Christmas present for someone in the family, though he won't disclose who.

Doesn't this melt your heart?  It's perfectly off-kilter.

Anyone else finishing up their holiday crafts?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gingerbread House

I am blessed with the most talented, generous friends on the planet.  I really believe that.  Look at this beauty!  Remember the camouflage carseat cover I made?  That mom-to-be brought over this HUGE - probably 18" tall - gingerbread house.  I almost cropped my son's drinking cup out of the photo but decided to leave it because it gives the house some scale.  Look at the windows.  They're colored sugar glass.  All of the edges are piped in chocolate.

The gingerbread house alone is impressive.  But our friend also brought over a complete decorating kit.  Wow!  My boys were bouncing like pogo sticks when they opened this.  Of course they had to take everything out and start calling dibs.

Dad was smart and claimed control of the icing bag.

But the boys had plenty of fun.

With uncharacteristic restraint, the boys saved most of the candies to snack on later.  I thought every inch of the house would be covered by some sugary confection.  But no, they wanted the house to look nice and stopped.

I love the little man waving in the front window.

The back of the house had flower boxes under the windows and a cannon on the ground.  Yes, a cannon.  Why a cannon?  Why not.

The boys built a cannon in the front yard, too.  They tried to build a gumdrop snowman, but it couldn't stand on its own.  So the boys propped the snowman in front of the cannon, then Lincoln decided the cannon could blast the snowman up to see Santa Claus.  I love my crazy kids.  The brownie is a flower box with gumdrop shrubs.

Funny story: We made the gingerbread house last night.  This morning I sent the boys downstairs to eat breakfast and get ready for school.  10 minutes later, I still didn't hear the clank of cereal bowls or pop of the toaster.  I called down in my naggy mom voice, "Are you boys eating breakfast?"

"Yes ma'am."

"I don't hear anything"

"Don't worry, Mom.  We are."

Then I remembered...the gingerbread house was still sitting on the kitchen table.  Nice.  That was breakfast.