Monday, 27 August 2012

Making a Jointed Teddy

Like most projects on this blog, I am attempting something new. This one is no different. I decided that it was time to try and make a jointed teddy bear. I found a free pattern online at The pattern included detailed instructions and a list of materials along with the paper pattern. The pattern I used was called "Sebastian - a 9" Bear". The bear works out to be approximately 9 inches tall when standing up and is adorably cute! I do think that it wasn't the best pattern to use as a beginner teddy maker though as it is quite tricky to work with the small size. I used a sewing machine for most of the construction with the occasional bit of hand sewing to close up stuffing openings in seams and to shape some of the face. I also used a fleece fabric instead of mohair or fur fabric. I was unable to find any fur that wasn't really long (or really expensive). Below I have included my alterations to the instructions given on the website.

- 1/4 metre of grey fleece fabric
- 5 joint disc sets 1" in diameter with screws, washers and bolts
- black beads for eyes
- black embroidery floss for nose and mouth
- green ribbon


1. I prepared the pattern pieces and pinned them to my fleece fabric making sure to match the straight grain of the fabric. As directed in the original instructions, I printed enough copies to have the right number of bear parts without having to re pin or double the fabric. I don't usually do this, but it truly made cutting easier with the fleece fabric! I cut out the pieces directly from the paper pattern without bothering to draw the pattern onto my fabric.

 2. I sewed the body, arms and legs using the sewing machine. The foot pads are a little tricky to insert due to their size, but I still managed to do it on the machine.
I sewed the nose section of the head by hand as recommended in the original instructions and the rest by machine. Once the main sections of the body are stitched up, I turned them right-side out.

3. I began the stuffing process by stuffing the head. This needs to be packed very firmly with stuffing fibre to hold its shape. As the stuffing of the head nears completion, the joint needs to be placed inside the neck opening. The screw should stick out of the bears neck until it is attached to the body. Repeat the same process with the arms and legs, placing the disc and screw through as pre the instructions.
Once all the body parts (except the main body) were stuffed and jointed, I attached them to the body using the other half of the disc joints. This we the most difficult part of making the teddy as his body got very pull of screw and discs very quickly. Ideally, I should have left a larger opening in his back to work through. I ended up with the help of another person securing the bolt with pliers while I held the bear open and screwed on the locknut. Finally it all came together and I was able to stuff and close up the main body section.

4. The ears and face were next. The ears needed to be hand sewn in place with great care to hide not only the edges, but also the thread. I put the face together in a similar way to the original instructions with the exception of using bead for the eyes as I wasn't able to find any I was happy with. To finish my little bear off, I added a pale green ribbon around his neck.

Overall, I'm very happy with the result of this free pattern. Next time I attempt a jointed bear, I'll know better what I'm in for and will probably go for a larger size. Below are the finished pictures. Pretty cute!!

Experimenting with the Fine Arts

I've always loved drawing and painting so I thought I'd give them another go now that I'm older and have more artistic skills.
I began with pencil sketching of a face using a photograph for reference. I measured each section of the face using my pencil as a guide with my arm stretched out fully each time. I think I have captured a fair likeness of my subject, though it could still do with some improvement, particularly in the nose, eye size and teeth.

Some artistic attempts

I also went out and bought some water colour paints. I've never used them before (I've used acrylics for all my painting in the past) so it was a new experience for me. If you've never picked them up, it's really worth having a try. They produce a much softer effect than the acrylics and the technique is markedly different. I'll be working with them again to see what different effects I can produce with a little more experience!

First try with water colours

Looking better... second try with water colours

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Chess Themed Cake

The finished chess cake
My husband is very keen on chess, and so, for his birthday I have decided to make a chess themed cake. After much cake decorating research, I decided that I would use fondant icing to make the chess pieces and the chess board for the cake.
The fondant recipes that I found looked so tedious that I bought black and white ready made fondant from the cake decorating store. It cost me approximately $10 a kg.
Creating chess pieces out of fondant proved more difficult than I had imagined as the fondant becomes really quite soft when it is being worked with. The black fondant also stained my hands after playing with it for a couple hours making the pieces. My chessmen were stretching out of shape all over the place and slowly tipping over. Finally I managed to get together enough pieces which looked like chessmen to use for the cake decoration. I wanted 24 chess pieces as it was my husband's 24th birthday. 
Below are some of the pictures during construction.

Some of the chess men

Rolling out the fondant icing

I measured 2cm squares

Iced mud cake

Placing the chess board squares on the cake

The chess men all in place

It was a beautiful mud cake recipe!!
My husband was very impressed and the cake tasted lovely! The fondant pieces are all edible, however, I find fondant rather too sweet so we pulled them off before eating. The chess board squares are thin enough to eat and enjoy! If I were to try something like this again, I would make sure that the top of the cake is absolutely flat as my chess board had some interesting contours. The fondant was really good to work with though, and very effective. I will probably try using it again to decorate cakes.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Easy Apple Slice

This recipe was given to me by my grandma some years ago and I have recently rediscovered it. It is tasty and very quick and easy.

Stewed Apples
- Use 4 small apples
- 1 tbs sugar
Peel, core and slice apples thinly. Add to saucepan with sugar and cover with water. Boil until apples soften.

Ready to bake
Basic Slice Recipe
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup SR flour
- 125g melted butter
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla

- stewed apples
- nutmeg, cinnamon & sugar mix

Combine all basic slice ingredients and mix well by hand. Line a square baking tin with baking paper/ foil and press slice mix into the bottom of the tin. Cover the top of the slice with the drained, stewed apples. Sprinkle spices and sugar across the top and place in a preheated oven at 200' C for 30 minutes or until cooked.

Cut into squares when cool, or serve warm with ice cream!

Easy Apple Slice