Archive for the 'Projects' Category

Moving to Maker|Geek

Two and an half years without a blog post?

It’s official: this blog is dead, Dead, DEAD.

I’m just not doing enough creative projects to keep it going. For at least half of the past 2.5 years, this was because I was living in rented accommodation with limited space for getting crafty. More recently my excuse has been that I’ve been focussed on settling into our new house. Though a contributing factor is that my hobbies and interests seem to be moving away from activities that create a tangible output (sewing, knitting, drawing) and towards hobbies whose only output is enjoyment (piano, sailing, tennis, reading).

Let me assure you, I haven’t completely lost my maker-mojo. However, from now on I’ll be guest posting any of my creative projects on Dan’s website:

So head on over there for woodworking, electronics, welding, geeky projects, and the occasional crafty interjection from me.



I thought I’d update this post to be a little more verbose. Original post can be found below the horizontal rule.

I’ve been getting to grips with vector graphics lately. The impetus for this is that my husband is creating an Android app and needs some UI elements. Check out his blog for pictures of some playing cards I designed.

Today I felt like I was on a roll, so I whipped up a quick animation or two to match the logo of his website: MakerGeek. Inserted below. Unfortunately WordPress doesn’t play animated GIFs, so you have to open them in their own tab to watch them spin.




All of this was done in Inkscape and GIMP. I do have Synfig Studio on this box, which would have done tweening for me, but I haven’t yet got comfortable with it. So I chose to create each individual frame in Inkscape. It’s a 2.5 second logo at 24 fps = 60 images. Because it’s a fairly simple animation I really only had to draw one picture and manipulate the colours and rotations of various elements to get the effect I wanted.

Once all 60 frames had been created I opened them as layers in GIMP and used the animation option in the ‘Save as GIF’ dialogue to transform the layered .xcf into an animated GIF. (Though magic with ffmpeg will get them into .avi or another more useful format.)

I’m pretty chuffed with the results and full of grandiose ideas for animations that I could make with this new-found method and enthusiasm – though I fear that a lack of skill and artistry may let these ambitious ideas down.


My first crack at animation. Neither WordPress nor Facebook seem to want to display it in it Giffy glory, but if you right-click on it and open in a new tab it will play.

Wedding dress

Now the big day has come and gone I can post about my wedding dress without worrying about spoiling the surprise for Dan.

Making my own wedding dress was something I was set on from the start. I can sew, so why pay stupid amounts of money for a dress you are only going to wear once. Not to mention that all the dresses in the one bridal shop I cruised through were fugly – every one of them in a ruched/gathered style and in the kind of off-white colour I had previously only experienced adorning the walls of student accommodation. Plus they all cost between three and four figures. While I’m not exactly sure, because my awesome Mum insisted on paying for the fabric, I’m pretty confident that pattern, notions, and fabric for my dress cost less than £100.

The dress is very simple. I opted for this partly because it’s my style, and partly to avoid making things difficult for myself in what were soon to become some very stressful months. The wedding was on grass, which could have been mud had the weather been inclement, so no train. The requirement for simplicity and lack of train meant that I pretty much had the pick of prom dress patterns. I went for a princess-seamed, halterneck style. The pattern was simple enough that it would do for both wedding dress and bridesmaid dress, so the plan was hatched to make identical dresses for me and Frances, but in mirrored colours. For me: white with a blue ribbon; for her: blue with a white ribbon. This tactic had the additional advantage of allowing us to effectively have a practice run of cutting out the bridal dress, in cutting out the bridesmaid dress.

Mum came down to help me with the cutting out and getting me started on the sewing by fitting the bodice for me, I had some fun with time lapse creating a video of us doing that. Once that was done I took the white fabric and she the blue and we got sewing. Mum made all of Frances’s dress and hemmed and finished off mine. She pretty much rocks.

The only hitch in the process, apart from the self-inflicted stress and angst, came early in the project – when out of nowhere a greasy black blob (only a mm or two across) appeared on the bodice fabric. Thankfully it was on the inside and not visible through the fabric, but it certainly put the wind up me.


Cravats are a very wedding-specific thing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone wearing one in real life.

When Dan and I first got engaged and were talking about wedding colours, I happened to be in C&H Fabrics browsing the remnants table and saw a shiny bit of lightweight satin in one of the colours that we had talked about. (That same piece of fabric had its debut on this blog in the Blue Roses post – as a synthetic fabric rose).

I had a Google around for free cravat patterns, but had no luck. Though I did find a random forum post, which I am unable to rediscover for the purposes of linking to, that gave some measurements and instructions from which I could fairly easily devise a pattern.

A cravat is basically a long rectangle of fabric, with a point at one end and pleats in the middle. Out came the greaseproof papaer and the metre long metal ruler. 15 minutes later I had a pattern I was pretty chuffed with. My first one from scratch. I whipped up a quick cravat in a sexy lime green remnant of a similar weight of fabric. Job’s a good ‘un.

Four cravats later, and the total cost to me was 73p per cravat. When I think that Tie Rack sells them for £20 a pop, I can’t help but feel a little smug.

Stuffed baby blocks

Stuffed baby blocks

Originally uploaded by Kat Shann

I know I’m supposed to be getting on with sewing my wedding dress, but I’m easily distracted.
A couple of weekends ago we went to a Welcoming party for Dan’s newest nephew. True to our slightly disorganised form we found ourselves in the week beforehand with no present and no ideas for a present.
One lightbulb moment and a visit to the fabric stash later and I was on my way to making these blocks.
While it looks like it would be a lot of fiddly sewing, they were actually fairly easy. Each face is 7 x 7 cm. I cut four long strips of 9cm wide fabric in the gingham and the turquoise. These I sewed together at the long edges in alternating colours. As you can tell from some basic maths I did the stitching with a 1 cm seam allowance, mostly because the squares on the gingham were 1cm along the side and following the lines made the sewing easier and quicker.
So far so easy, now I had a long strip of fabric that I could take a 9 cm wide slice off of for each block. The next bit was slightly longer winded.
I had 18 white cotton squares that needed painting. I used Dylon iron-to-fix fabric paint, pinned the squares over black on white drawings of the letters, and traced the letters with paint. (On the back of each block is a number between 1 and 9).
Constructing the individual blocks was slightly fiddly, but easy to achieve on the sewing machine. On each block I left one side open, in order to turn the block through and stuff it. This side I sealed up with handstitching.

The blocks were well received, and I now have the task of filling in the rest of Alexander’s name in time for his birthday.


You know what they say about people from Yorkshire – they don’t like to part with their money. The thing I love to hate when it comes to weddings is the cost. It’s the happiest day of your life and everyone is out to make you pay through the nose for it. So a big saving that we could make is on garments. I have a sewing machine and I know how to use it. The DIY approach also means that you get closer to the thing that you want than if you try to find it pre-made. And the participants get to keep the waistcoats afterwards.

If I made waistcoats and cravats for the key gentlemen (groom, best man, and father-of-the-bride) and asked them to wear their own suits we could save a packet.

I found a simple waistcoat pattern online: McCalls 4321. Dan and I chose the fabric. Apply the one to the other and you get…

They’ve all turned out really well. I’m pretty happy with the three I’ve made so far. And the best part is that I have enough fabric left to make a fourth waistcoat for our newly promoted usher/musicmonger.


Dan recently bought himself a new gadget: an Acer Aspire. As usual I set about making a cover for it. As his first act was to remove the Windows 7 installation that it came with and install the latest Ubuntu netbook image I thought that a design based around the Ubuntu logo would be most appreciated.

Once I had decided to use the Ubuntu logo the inspiration to use one of the outer circles as a fastening was almost instant. A quick trip to C&H for the necessary fabrics and a big orange button and I was ready to go. The cover is a simple lined envelope, with craft vilene, to give structure, and wadding, to cushion the laptop.

On a roll, I used the same method, and some fabrics I had left over from previous projects, to make a similar case for my own laptop.

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