Thursday, May 21, 2009

Whip it Good! Playtime Indiana Jones Whip Tutorial

My son is absolutely obsessed with Indiana Jones! OBSESSED! I'm not quite sure when it happened or what triggered it, but there's no going back now. We've been eating, sleeping and breathing archeological machismo for weeks! I could recite the screenplay of Raiders of the Lost Arc in my sleep!

Of course the most appealing thing about Indiana Jones to a 5 year old boy is his whip. I'm more into the smoldering good looks and excessive masculinity but that's just me.

Anyway - everything in the house that could possibly be used as a whip has been - a wayward piece of ribbon, a hand towel, an unplugged extension cord (yikes) and I finally determined that I just needed to make the kid a whip.

It had to be realistic yet safe* and soft and so after some brainstorming and experimentation I came up with this: The Indiana Jones playtime whip.

I realize there probably isn't a high demand for such an item, but I thought if there were other people out there with Indiana Jones obsessed kids they might enjoy this tutorial. Of course this isn't just an Indiana Jones whip - it could be a lion tamer's whip, or you could use this same technique with a few modifications to make a safe playtime cowboy lasso.

Here's what you need:

Flannel fabric in your choice of color. (I used 1.5 yards but only because I didn't want to have to piece it together to get the length I needed. You could easily get away using only 1/2 yard) I chose flannel for its minimal fraying and its softness but you could experiment with other fabrics as well.

Sewing machine or hand sewing supplies

Piece of tape or a helper.

Step 1: Cut your fabric

Cut 6 one inch strips.

As I mentioned above I used 1.5 yards of fabric so my strips were the length I wanted (this resulted in a finished whip of approximately 45 inches). You can use less yardage and simply cut more strips and piece them together to reach your desired length.

I'd recommend the diagonal method to sew your strips together to avoid bulky seams that would be visible in your finished product. To piece your strips to avoid bulk overlap two strips perpendicular to each other and sew diagonally.

Clip the excess fabric close to the seam and ta da - a bulk free seam. It's also a good idea to stagger the location of your seams along your strips so they don't all end up in the same spot on your whip.

Step 2:

Stack all 6 strips on top of each other and sew.

Nothing fancy, you just want to hold all your strips together.

Step 3: Braiding

Here's where the fun part comes in. If you've got yourself a partner have them hold the end of the whip while you braid the strips.

Since I ended up making mine in the wee hours of the morning I had to rely on a piece of packing tape to be my helper.

To get the proper bulk you'll double up your strips - so essentially you're braiding 3 strips of doubled fabric (that's why we started with 6 strips instead of 3).

Step 4: Finishing

Once you get about 3 inches from the end you'll want to stop. Sew through all layers of fabric to hold your braid in place and to create the business end of your whip.

To make the handle end simply fold over the top to make a loop and tack it down to the rest of the whip.

Cut a 4" by 5" rectangle of flannel for the "handle". I seamed the 4" top and bottom of this piece for more of a finished look but that is completely optional.

Wrap the handle fabric over the whip being sure to cover up where then end of the loop meets the body of the whip.

Then simply sew the handle as close as you can along the body of the whip and clip the excess fabric with pinking shears or regular scissors. I also tacked the top and bottom of the handle to the whip as well so there was no chance of it migrating down the length of the whip later.

And there you have it - a soft playtime weapon - which as any parent of young boys knows - is a very good thing.

I've been whipped quite a few times wit this thing since it's creation and I can personally vouch for its softness. It doesn't sting at all - at least not when whipped around by a 5 year old and I think that's the greatest test right there.

*As always with any toy - especially rope-like toys - please be sure to supervise your children at all times to avoid any risk of strangulation.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

There are starving crafters out there who don't have Cricuts you know!

I'm going to make a confession and hope that you won't think less of me.

I've had a fabulous brand new Cricut Expressions sitting in my craft room since my birthday in March and I just finally used it a couple weeks ago.

I know, I know - It's awful. I'd been pining for that machine for years and then when it was in my hands I was at a loss. I could give you lots of excuses - no time, no planned projects, can't afford other cartridges etc. - but the truth of the matter was I was frightened. Here was this fabulous thing and I was humbled and in awe. Was I worthy?

Well I finally got over it and took the new toy for a spin to create some cupcake toppers for my sweet little nephew's first birthday party (it was a bug theme obviously). I also made some larger bugs to decorate the walls.

But what I've been having the most fun with is using it to cut some intricate images for freezer paper t-shirt stencils.

I'd been wanting to try this technique ever since I saw it several months ago on a craft blog but the mere idea of meticulously cutting images with an xacto knife was enough to make my head hurt. So I got to wondering if I could use the Cricut. And as you can see - yes you can.

I won't give you a meticulous step by step since there are tons of great tutorials by people out there (just do a search), but if you're curious the trick is to apply the freezer paper to your cutting mat with the waxy side up - otherwise it won't stay put and will move and rip when you're cutting your image.

Also you'll need to adjust your speed, pressure and blade settings. I put my blade at 2, speed at low and pressure at medium, but do a sample to determine what works best. Oh and if you're doing text you'll need to utilize the "flip" function on your Cricut since you'll essentially be cutting on the wrong side of the paper.

Once your Cricut has done it's work just iron the stencil, waxy side down to your t-shirt, grab your fabric paint (I used Tulip brand Soft fabric paint) and go to town.

Now that the Cricut and I have become more intimately acquainted I'm sure the projects will continue to flow.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Under the Sea Terrarium

I kind of have a thing for Playmobil figures. They're just so darn cute and I love their little accessories. I found this merman and mermaid at Target a couple months back and bought them for myself - yep wouldn't even let the kids play with them. Why? Because I had a vision! An Under the Sea Terrarium. A small little glass encased world with mossy undersea hills and lush foliage. And finally this weekend I created it!

It's smaller than what I had originally envisioned but I couldn't find an apothecary jar that I liked that was larger than this one. Plus since I have tendencies to kill plants I thought I'd better start small and see if I could get it to survive before I went all out.

It was super simple. I just put some charcoal on the bottom, then layered in some soil and then placed in some fabulous moss and a small succulent-type plant from my very own backyard.

Paired on a shelf with my newly potted succulent from IKEA, it's my new favorite household accessory!