Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Laundry Monster Cometh...

Growing up with three younger sisters meant that there was always a LOT of dirty laundry waiting to be washed!  Often my mother would refer to the ever-growing pile as "the Laundry Monster" whom she could never permanently slay.  Now that I have a family of my own to take care of, I too have a "Laundry Monster" ever present!  But what better way is there to do battle with a monster... than with another monster? 

Behold!  I give you the space-saving Laundry Monster Hamper! 

This vicious beast will happily eat and conceal all of your dirty clothing until the next laundry day!  A convenient zipper along the bottom of the monster then allows you to quickly transfer your stinky socks to the washing machine with minimal effort.  The shape of the monster is based on the shape of the hanger he has in his head, which allows the monster to be hung just about anywhere.

The monster is made from blue fabric and black lining fabric that began 36 inches long and 20 inches wide.  I angled the top of the fabric pieces to mimic the angles in the hanger that would form the monster's head. 

Using paper, I created some templates and played around with the monster's face until I found a look that I liked.  I then traced the mouth onto the wrong side of the blue fabric and cut out the eyes and teeth from white fused plasic bags.  The first tricky part came with arranging the teeth within the mouth backwards in preparation for sewing.

I had to sandwich the teeth between the blue and black fabric facing out from the mouth.  I made sure to pin them in place in such a way that as I sewed along the mouth outline I would sew through them.

After sewing on my outline, I cut out the center of the mouth and clipped the curved edges.  I also bent some wire into the shape of the mouth outline for some reinforcement.  The moment of truth came when I turned the fabric right-side out!

Ta Da!  The teeth ended up facing inside the mouth and all of the raw sewn edges are neatly hidden.  I then slipped the wire ring between the fabric and the lining and sewed again around the mouth to hold it in place. 

After embroidering the eyes on, all that was left was to sew on the back of the monster, leaving openings at the top for the hanger and the bottom for the zipper.  Once those were in place the beast was finished!

...just remember to regularly brush and floss to prevent sock build-up.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day High Five!

On Sunday my husband, Zach was able to celebrate his first Father's Day as a new dad!  Our son, Mordecai, is only two and a half months old, but he was still able to help me make a special gift for his daddy. 

The first tricky step was getting a tracing of Zach's hand without him suspecting or knowing too much.  I then traced the hand outline onto some freezer paper and ironed it shiny-side down onto a new, plain blue T-shirt.  This gave me the pattern for a reverse applique design.

I had an old, paint-splotched green T-shirt that I cut up and pinned to the inside of the blue shirt, behind the hand pattern.  This way, I was able to sew directly along the hand pattern through both layers of T-shirt material.

After doing a simple machine straight-stitch, I carefully peeled away the freezer paper.  Then came the tricky part!

I had to carefully trim the blue T-shirt away from the design to reveal the green T-shirt material underneath.  This had to be done without accidentally snipping the green material!

The end result turned out well, though.  I really like how the reverse applique gave me a casual, textured edge around the design. 

Last but not least, I added Mordecai's handprint to the center of the hand cutout.  Have you ever tried to get a handprint from a two month old?  It's not easy!  I waited until he was asleep so that he wouldn't wiggle as much... but the paint still got everywhere!  In the end I had to paint in his handprint a little since the true handprint was too light... and Mordecai had blue fingers for a week!

The end result:  priceless!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fusing Plastic Baggies

A while ago I was given a really cool change purse that was made out of plastic shopping bags:

The bags were fused together to create a thicker, more durable plastic material.  However, it wasn't until recently that I discovered how to do this myself with my own shopping bags.  It really is quite simple. 

In addition to an iron, all  you need is waxed paper, scissors and a bunch of plastic baggies.

Cutting off the bottom of the bag and the handles allows the bag to be opened up more, creating a larger finished piece.

You'll want to turn the plastic inside out so that the ink from any printing on the bags stays contained and doesn't get all over your iron.  Using two bags folded in half (about 8 layers of plastic baggie) gives you a nice thickness.

Sandwich the stack of baggies between sheets of waxed paper and iron each side (on a medium/high setting) for about 20-30 seconds each.  You may have to play around with the iron setting and the length of ironing time.

If you can feel the sheet "crinkle" or can feel the baggie layers sliding over each other, simply iron it again.  The final sheet should feel like one thick layer.

Peel back the waxed paper to reveal your fused plastic sheet! 

Ta da! 

Hmm... I wonder what kinds of patterns I can make with different bags from different stores...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Fun Stuff: Paper Structures

Paper has been a part of the building process for thousands of years.  Traditional shoji screens in Japan are used as windows, sliding doors and room dividers.  As these screens are nothing more than thin paper over a wooden lattice, they provide privacy while still allowing light to filter through.  More recently, weather-resistant papers such as Tyvek are used as moisture barriers in new construction projects. 
However, paper is capable of being much more than a thin cladding material.
Many buildings created by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban use paper as a load-bearing, structural component.  The paper is formed into large tubes, much like those used in casting concrete columns (think of a paper towel tube on steroids) and these tubes are used in place of traditional building materials such as wood or metal. 
The very first project for which Shigeru Ban used paper tubes was for a temporary structure known as Paper Arbor. 
 It was a simple construction; 48 tubes were stood upright in a circle and held up a roof.  However, when the project was dismantled six months later it was discovered that being exposed to the elements of wind and rain had hardened the paper tubes and they had actually increased in strength and durability.
Other amazing projects of Shigeru Ban include the Japanese Pavilion for the 2000 Hanover Exposition. 
This elegant structure was composed of a grid of paper tubes that were then bent into an arc shape, much like the poles of a "pop-up" tent.
Most recently, Shigeru Ban has developed inexpensive disaster relief shelters made out of paper tubes.  From Kobe, Japan in 1995 to Port-au-Prince Haiti in 2010, these structures are built for natural disaster victims around the world. 

Not only are they a safe shelter from the elements and a necessary source of privacy, but they also provide the victims with a sense of dignity.  Who  knew that paper was capable of so much!

For more cool paper structures by Shigeru Ban, check out:  http://www.shigerubanarchitects.com/

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pajama Time!

My husband is pretty rough on his pajama pants.  Many of them look like these:

Either they are missing legs (because holes in the knees just got too big) or the crotch is ripped.

I decided to try and salvage some of his pajama pants so that he could get a little more use out of them. By combining the usable parts of two pairs of unwearable pants, I was able to create a new pair!

I could have simply switched the legs of the two pants, but I wanted to make the switch-up look intentional.  Adding the extra stripes created a pretty nice design.

Sewing it all together was pretty easy, and the final result looked pretty cool!

Ta da!