Sunday, 28 September 2014

Make your own polymer clay buttons

Don't you love how fun ideas always come to you late at night? It was a couple of months ago when I was testing the Firefly Dress from Boo! Designs. I wanted buttons for the grey and blue dress I had made and the talented ladies in the testing group had suggested hot pink. Then the idea of making the buttons came to me. So I stayed up watching youtube videos about making polymer clay buttons.

I wanted to share some of what I have learned while starting my newest crafty addiction. 

First of all, what equipment is needed?
Truthfully? next to nothing. It really depends what kind of buttons you want to make. Do you want fancy decorative ones, plain ones, perfectly shaped ones, rustic imperfect ones??? The options are endless and so you need as little or as much equipment as you want.
The things I use are:
- plastic surface (I use a container lid with a smooth even surface - the one in the pics is the underside of a decor cupcake container)
- rolling pin (I use a plastic cylinder from the kids play dough set)
- cutter (I bought a blade sold in the polymer clay section at my craft store)
- extruder (Again I bought this from the polymer clay section, though I suspect you could use a play dough one if you had a sturdy enough one)
- shape cutter (I mostly use the circle side of a piping tool because I like the size it makes - nearly an inch. I also have some small icing cutters that make cute shapes)
- something to poke the holes (I use those little corn cob holders)
- a baking tray (The one I use is a little quiche tin base)
- oh, and obviously some clay would be handy ;)

What kind of clay?
The brands I know about are Sculpey and Fimo. I think either is fine. I personally found that the sculpey is easier to work with and softer. The Fimo takes a lot more conditioning to be able to work with it but it seems to be stronger once baked than the sculpey. 

There are so many ways to make buttons. I suggest doing what I did and watching lots of videos and trying out different techniques.  In the post below I wanted to share one of my favourite techniques. I love how interesting and different the buttons turn out using this technique. 

To start, you need to chose the colours you want to include. For this one I picked five colours (two pinks, two blues and a purple) you can choose as many or as few as you like. I then like to break each colour in half and condition the clay. That just means to knead it until it is soft enough to work with.

Here is the extruder fitted with the square end. It is metal and fairly heavy weight.

I find it easier to work with half of the blobs at a time. So I line them up and then roll them lightly to make them a shape that will fit inside the extruder. 

Then you need to push the whole lot out and repeat with the other set of blobs (I usually put them in a different order for the second lot so they turn out differently). Don't be put off by their bland appearance at this stage. Next you cut them up into even pieces. I cut mine to 2" lengths. 
HINT: if it is warm or the clay is too soft it is worth considering popping the long pieces in the fridge for a few minutes before this step so they cut cleanly rather than squashing down.
Then stack all the pieces together as shown above. The order doesn't matter a lot, but I try to separate the cross sections that look similar. Then gently press the pieces together so there are no gaps between them.

Then get a bigger piece of the clay in any colour and condition it and then roll it flat. This will form the base and makes the pretty pieces go further. Again if  the block is getting warm it is worth cooling it in the fridge for a bit before slicing it. Then using the super sharp blade (really very, very, sharp, be careful) slice the block into thin pieces. Aren't they pretty...I'd be happy to just make them to this point and see how they turn out. Next spread them all out on the backing clay you rolled out earlier. I then gently roll over the top to fill in any gaps between the pieces. If you want the squares/lines to be a bit warped and curved you can use the rolling pin and roll a bit more. If you do just make sure it was a little thicker to start with.

Now you cut your shapes. Circles are easy but you can make any shape. You can use lids or other household items to cut them out and place them on your baking surface. It is easier to cut them straight onto the baking surface so you don't have to pick them up and move them and cause them to misshape. Then you need to put holes in them. I use these little corn cob things but you can use anything pointy (like knitting needle/match stick, tooth pick). 

Then pop them into the oven and bake them as per the instructions on the packet of clay.

And... voila... buttons :)

(you can make them glossy with clear gloss spray too)

I have made the buttons on lots of Eloise's clothing since making the ones for the Firefly. It is a fun way to personalize the things you sew.

And here are some others I have made too.

1, 6 & 7 are made starting with canes (google "canes", they are so much fun and can be as complicated or easy as you like).
3 & 5 are made using the kid's play dough molds
4 & 8 are made by making a leaf cane (again, fun to it, THIS is the video I watched)
2 & 9 are made using the extruder method described above. THIS is the video I watched.

If I get a chance I can pop back and do up an explanation of some of the other techniques.

Thanks for popping by, please leave a message to let me know what you think or to ask any questions.

Kerry xx

I Heart Pattern Testing: Boo! Designs Firefly Dress - Pimped Firefly

Time for another Firefly. During the testing Kristie asked us to make one Firefly according to the pattern and then to make a "pimped" version. So we had the creative freedom to mix it up however we wanted. Wow, the other testers are a clever bunch of sewists! Their pimped fireflies are AH-MAY-ZING! Jen from One Thimble is showcasing them at the moment and it is worth popping by to the One Thimble Blog to check them out.

For mine I didn't stray too far from the original pattern. I made the top half as per the pattern. I changed the skirt to be a circle style skirt using the Boo! Skater Skirt pattern as a starting point.

The great thing about the skater skirt is the inclusion of measurements for the waistband/length etc. So pimping the Firefly with it was easy. I just measured the bodice circumference and used that (plus I added a button placket). I then attached it the same way I would have attached the gathered skirt. I used a simple hidden bias strip to hem it which added a little strength to the hemline and allowed it to hold it's shape well. I think this pretty blue floral fabric was perfect for this style of skirt.

Eloise is wearing a pettiskirt made using the Twirly Pettiskirt technique I blogged about.
For more information about the Firefly and my review of it, I talked in more detail here and here. It is a great pattern!
And if you want to purchase your own copy of the pattern, you can get it in the latest edition of One Thimble (Affiliate link).

I can't help doing a bit of photo spamming with my favourite little girl ;)

I'd love to know what you think, feel free to leave a message or a question.

Kerry xx

Friday, 12 September 2014

September Showcase - Frances Suzanne - Flipped Betty Skirt

I was approached a while ago to join in with the Flip This Pattern Series on Frances Suzanne. I signed up immediately, I just LOVE this series. This month is a little different to the usual format. This month is all about rising indie designers. So not the big, already established designers, but those with five or less patterns for sale. I was VERY excited when I saw which designers and patterns were included. Some of my favourite designers and bloggers are in this group!!! I decided to sign up to showcase a pattern/designer that I hadn't tried before. I chose the Betty Skirt from Shaffer Sisters.

Look at the line up of patterns and bloggers sewing along for the month! If you click the picture below it will take you to Frances Suzanne's blog post about  the series.

We had the option of making the pattern "as is" or "flipping" it. As soon as I saw the Betty Skirt pattern I knew I wanted to make a pleated, drop waisted dress. I envisioned a vintage looking dress/pinafore that could be worn alone or over a a little top with a peter pan collar. 

I used the size 3T wide pleated skirt for the bottom of the dress but omitted the yoke and elastic of the skirt. I then drafted my own bodice pattern!!!! That's a big deal for me :) I did not do it in a particularly scientific way and so, as I sewed it together, I kept my fingers crossed that it would fit Eloise. When I was finished I looked at it and thought "this will be too small". But, I was wrong. I tried it on her and it fit really well! Yay! (That said, I think I'd make a few little adjustments to my bodice pattern for the next one).

I made a fully lined bodice with back button closure and attached it to the pleated skirt piece after making the skirt as per the pattern's instructions. The lining is a pretty pink quilting cotton and the outer fabric is a thick organic cotton. I added a simple line of piping made from the same fabric as the lining and added pink buttons to match. I was hoping for a very simple looking dress. And... this is what it looked like:

A bit about the Betty Skirt pattern. Wow! This pattern has a HUGE size range, it starts at newborn and goes up to 16X and there is an 18" doll size too! It also has a heap of options. It can be gathered, have narrow pleats, have wide pleats and be made with or without a front button placket. The instructions are really straight forward and there are options for pattern pieces or measurements. Importantly the pleating guide leads to perfectly even pleats. It is one of those patterns you can use again and again for years and not get bored of it. I will definitely be making some regular skirts with it in the future for Eloise.

I LOVE all things grey, Eloise? not so much. SO the pink lining and accents helped to win her over. I also made a little elasticated headband from the lining fabric. I paired it with knee high socks and Mary Jane shoes.  

I know, I'm her Mum and I am supposed to thinks she's adorable... but isn't she adorable??

I swear Eloise is growing before my eyes. She is so chatty and happy and clever too. And she loves to go to the fabric store with me!

She was in the cheekiest mood when I was trying to get photos. She spent much of the time poking her tongue out and rolling her eyes at me. 

I really like the one above. Her "I'm so sweet mummy" look!

I had so much fun making this and I am already planning many different Betty Skirts. I can't wait to see the Betty Skirts and flipped Betty Skirts the other bloggers have made and the ones linked up to the linky party.

If you haven't already, you should pop over to the linky party, have a look at the awesomeness that has been linked up so far and link up any items you have made using a pattern from a designer with 5 or less patterns. I will be linking up some things I have made too. Then follow along the rest of the month as more and more patterns are showcased on Frances Suzanne

There are great pattern discounts on offer from the designers too (they are listed here). The Betty Skirt is on sale for 25% off (with the code SHOWCASE)!! And below there is a rafflecopter giveaway, feel free to enter to win some great prizes.

So quick, grab a pattern (or ten) on sale and sew up some great things for some little people in your life and link them up.

Thanks for stopping by, I'd love to hear what you think of it :)

Kerry xx

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