how to calculate yardage for plastic canvas


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How to Calculate Yardage Needed for Plastic Canvas Stitching

how to calculate yardage for plastic canvas

Sometimes you have a project in mind, and yarn on hand, and boy it sure would suck to get mostly completed and realize you don’t have enough yarn to finish. In my case, I’m impatient.  Sunday night I had one hank of appropriately-colored gray yarn, and a gray wrench to stitch, and I would have loved to get started… but first I needed to know if I had enough yarn to fully cover the entire thing.

Here’s how you figure it out.

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Step 1- Cut a set length of yarn.  In my case I cut a strand of yarn that is 36 inches long.  A few reasons for this- 1) my measuring tape is in inches, making that a convenient measure, 2) 36 inches = 1 yard, and yarn labels list yardage, so I won’t have to do any conversions, and 3) 36 inches is a comfortable working length for when actually stitching, so my beginning and ending tails can be reasonably included in these figures.

Note- this will only be a helpful estimate if you use yarn that is the same, or at least the same thickness, as the yarn you plan to use in your project.sprocket wrench wip 14

Step 2- Take a scrap piece of plastic canvas, the same gauge as your project, and begin stitching.

Make sure to use the same stitch you will be using in your project, as some stitches take up more yarn than others, for example cross-stitch.

Keep going until the yarn is nearly done, and fasten off as usual.sprocket wrench wip 15

Step 3- Do some math.  My 36″ of yarn allowed me to fill an area that was 6 holes wide by 19 holes high.  Yes, I’m counting in HOLES, not stitches.  Why?  Because some of my pieces are oddly-shaped and the stitches I’m using are slanted and I don’t feel like having to figure out how many stitches will fill irregular areas.  Counting the holes is simply faster for me.  You can count stitches if you prefer as long as you make sure to count total STITCHES needed later.

So. 1 yard (36″) of yarn will allow me to stitch an area comprised of 114 stitches.

Then all you have to do is count the number of holes in the project (or stitches, if you’re doing it that way), divide that by your swatch yardage (in my case: 114) and the result will tell you how many yards of yarn you need to fill it.

To that resulting number I would pad it based on certain factors- areas where you have to cut excess away, areas where you accidentally used too much to tie-on and get a few stitches short on that piece, etc.  So for smaller projects I’d say this is a good way to know if a finite amount of yarn will work.  For larger projects I’d say this was a good way to estimate the minimum amount of yarn you’d need.

Make sense?

If you were going to purchase yarn for this project and the count you end up with gives you the yardage of just UNDER a ball of your required yarn, I’d spring for an extra ball.  Best case scenario: you don’t end up using it and can return it.  Middle-of-the-night-likely scenario: you remember you have that second ball once you run out of yarn.  For Sprocket’s wrench, I’m trying to avoid buying yarn.  I have two different yarns in an appropriate gray that I can use, but one of them only has one, already-started, skein.  I’d prefer to use that one, but I don’t want to risk running short.  So I’ll count up how much my pieces will use without padding for any extra.  If I see it’s pretty close to the amount of my preferred yarn I have I won’t bother starting with it, and I’ll use the other one instead.

Note– this method does NOT include yardage for whipstitching the edges together.  That’s fine with me, because some of my edges are joined with a different color, of which I have plenty, and if I run out of my gray for the sewing-up I don’t mind using a slightly different shade for the assembly.

sprocket wrench wip 07


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Skylanders Sprocket Cosplay – Wrench Part 2

More progress on Sprocket’s giant wrench.  First I traced out the shape for the smaller set of jaws by placing plastic canvas directly on top of my to-size sketch.  The resulting shape isn’t completely round, but I’m ok with that, considering my medium.  Plus I’m getting a slight Millennium Falcon vibe I’m completely cool with.  :Dsprocket wrench wip 05

I cut out that piece and then traced it onto more plastic canvas so I’d have an exact duplicate.sprocket wrench wip 06

I used a dollar store permanent marker to do my tracing.  It didn’t rub off while I worked, either on the plastic or my hands, which was a welcome surprise.  I didn’t want to risk it showing through the stitching later, so I tested out removing it with some water and a Q-Tip I had handy.  When I saw it would work I moved to the sink and most of it came off quite easily with a quick scrub under running water.

There are five more pieces needed to complete the smaller jaw- two 3 hole by 10 hole rectangles (to connect the top and bottom at the flat ends where the jaws are open), and three strips, one for each outer edge and one for the inside curve of the jaws.

I wasn’t quite sure how long they would be.  I guessed it would be one square long for each square around, but I didn’t want to assume that, cut and stitch them, and find they didn’t perfectly fit when eased around the curves.  Plus, being familiar with knitting and easing neckbands and sleeves into curves, I know sometimes you need a bit extra to ease into place.  The answer?sprocket wrench wip 07

Pac Man!

Basting, actually.  Starting with the inner piece, I cut my 10-hole-wide strip longer than I needed and basted it in place, starting with the center 4 holes and working out to either side.sprocket wrench wip 08

Voila.  A strip I know fits because it, well, fits.

:D  Amazing how that works!  Hehe.

It turned out to be 10 holes wide by 62 holes long.  Last thing for the smaller jaws was to use the same basting technique to figure out how long to cut the 2 strips for the outsides of the jaws, and they turned out to be 10 holes wide by 47 holes long.

On to the larger jaws…but first… cutting plastic canvas leaves a lot of smaller pieces, many of which can be saved and used in other projects.  The problem with keeping all the cut-offs is that they can get easily confused with the pieces I do need.

To minimize confusion, I ran a length of waste yarn through the good pieces, keeping them grouped by section so I didn’t risk mixing anything up.  Once that was done and things looked a little less messy, I moved onto the larger jaws.  I worked them the same as the smaller- tracing the shape onto plastic canvas, then cutting it out.

Instead of tracing the cut shape for my duplicate, this time I tried tracing the uncut shape and it worked just fine.  (Laying a fresh piece of plastic canvas over the one with the dark outline).  Then I cut the 2 3 hole by 10 hole pieces for the two narrow tips.

I did the same trick of basting in longer pieces to figure out how long a strip to cut for the lining of the inside of the jaws (10 holes wide by 88 holes long) and for the jaws’ outside curves (2 strips each 10 holes wide by 73 holes long.)

I completely forgot to take pics of the large jaws so picture the exact same process as the smaller ones, but… uh, bigger.

Technically I’m done, but I want to give it a little more stability on the inside, so I cut some spacers, 20 holes long by 10 holes wide, that I can tack into place along the inside of the wrench’s handle.

The last pieces to calculate and cut are the decorative trims…except…

This is where I stalled.

Because I had an idea and I wasn’t sure how to execute it.

See I figured… I’m gonna be in full costume, carrying around a giant wrench, and there was only one spot in the outfit that might work to incorporate pockets.  So between my phone, my ID, money (cus shopping!), and the entry program, I’d have ‘stuff’.  Plus I’d likely accumulate more ‘stuff’… business cards and things.  But I really don’t want to have to carry a purse.  So what if… I mean, I’m carrying around a giant, hollow object…

See where I’m going with this?

:D

The wrench is going to be my purse.

The 17″ wide handle is perfect, giving me a 5″ section I can keep my phone and ID in, and a 12″ section plenty big enough to hold a rolled-up program or any art I might get.  (I’m hoping to get something Archie-related).

The only thing giving me a hard time was how to handle the closure.  I spent some time drawing sketches and ruling stuff out, then when I hit upon a possible solution I made a little swatch to try it:

sprocket wrench wip 10

What I wasn’t sure of was whether or not a hinged lid with a stitched lip would stick out over a stitched base.  sprocket wrench wip 09Seeing how well it lays flush over an unstitched base, I’m going to go with that.  I showed my sample to Yannick and he suggested flipping it on its side, so the handle opens along its narrow end.  I told him I’d already thought of that and discounted it because I couldn’t figure out how to not make the sealing flap look silly.  He suggested hiding it along the decorative trip that would already be visible.

And just like that, it clicked.

Here’s what I’m planning:sprocket wrench wip 12sprocket wrench wip 11

Kinda like this.  Ish.

I re-cut and adjusted the top of the handle to reflect that, and then cut the 2 small and 2 large decorative trims for the jaws.

With that, I think all the strips (except the velcro lining bits) are cut.  Next post- how to calculate how much yarn I’ll need.

mc party collage


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Throwing A Minecraft Birthday Party

First came the lootbags, then the toppers, and then the cake.  Now’s where it all came together – the final Minecraft birthday party.mc party collage

Once again, this was Henri’s 6th birthday party, from back in January.  Jakob just had his own Minecraft party but I didn’t change much except for the cake, and that will get its own post shortly.

There are a lot of ways you can incorporate Minecraft ‘foods’ into your own party.  A quick look through Google images or Pinterest will show idea after idea, I pulled some of them out and added my own to get what worked for the small group of kids we had.  If you’re having a larger party, or its for a gaggle of teens, you can really go all out with some creative food arrangements.  I’ve seen everything from pretzel-grid trap doors to a soda maker doubling as a brewing station!

mc party dinnerI didn’t go quite so elaborate.  Only 10 kids, a few lingering adults, and I knew the children would be rushing through the food to get back to playing video games (we were at an arcade).  The place provided pizza, so I added a quick veggie side dish to the table.

mc party dinner carrot

Clear enough?  :)

mc party dessert

I had a little more fun preparing the dessert table…mc party dessert 02

Regular and Golden Apples…mc party water buckets 01

…Water Buckets… (blue raspberry Jell-O… would have been cuter in plastic shot glasses if I’d thought about buying some in time)…mc party tnt

…and TNT  (red licorice bundles with black licorice whip wicks).

Combine these with the Minecraft lootbags the kids got when they left, and it made for a party they could all dig.  (Get it?)  ;)

Can I just say that I love the dollar store square dishes and platters?  Love them.

mc party cake closeupHenri really enjoyed his 6th birthday party, and I had a lot of fun putting everything together for it.

You can download and print the images below to make your own Minecraft party.  I copy/pasted a bunch onto an Excel spreadsheet so I could fit as many to a page as I needed.  The TNT strips were sized at 3″ tall by 5″ wide (the block of 10 strips), the water bucket graphic is 1.75″ wide by 2″ high, and the apples and carrots were 2.25″ by 3″.tnt 3inby5in water bucket 2inby175inred apple 3inby225in golden apple 3inby225in carrot 3inby225in

sprocket2


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Skylanders Sprocket Cosplay – Wrench part 1

The kids were remarkably cooperative in going to bed on time last night so I was able to whip through the stuff I had to do (finish making Jakob’s birthday party loot bags) so I could get to what I wanted to do: start my cosplay!

For assorted reasons involving the late hour, my inability to leave my sleeping children home alone while I went out shopping, and the contents of my craft stash, process of elimination led me to start with what I had the materials for- Sprocket’s big-ass wrench.

The first step was figuring out how big it actually is.  I started by using the official Skylanders image:

sprocket2

and then doing some calculations.  First I measured the width of her right hand’s fingers, as they appear on my screen, where they’re gripping the wrench.  I got roughly 0.5″ (adjusted for the angle).  Then I measured the wrench itself, and got roughly 5.5″.  Basic math says that her wrench is 11 times as long as the width of her knuckles.  Next I measured my own knuckles, and got 3″.  Multiplying my own knuckle width by the same 11 times gives me an estimate that my wrench should be roughly 33″ long.  Using those two sets of numbers I was able to do math (yay math!*) to figure out how large to scale up the measurements I took off my computer screen and figure out some decent approximate dimensions.

Once I had my numbers I could start to plot it out.  I taped together a few sheets of my kids’ construction paper and began to sketch out the wrench’s shape.

sprocket wrench wip 01   I didn’t think they’d miss the pink.

I sketched in pen ‘cus it was handy and I was on a roll so when I was done I went over the final shape with a colored Sharpie to make sure I used the correct outline when tracing the plastic canvas.sprocket wrench wip 02

Oh.  Yeah.  Did I not mention that?  This is going to be an entirely YARN-BASED cosplay.

*grins*

My plan is to stitch the whole thing in gray yarn with a 2nd layer for the detailing, and to join them with darker gray yarn to give the outline detail.

First up- cut my pieces.  Since the prop is going to be three-dimensional I need to cut the top, bottom and sides, plus the inside of the jaws, and then probably a few inner bracers for support.  Unfortunately my largest sheets of plastic canvas aren’t quite long enough to cut the whole length from one sheet, so I’m going to get around that by having my joins where the jaws begin, so any structural weakness will be compensated for (and any visible joins hidden by) the shape change.sprocket wrench wip 03

I have a bunch of packs of plastic canvas but only one sheet long enough to span the spanner (heh) without a join.  Luckily it’s wide enough to give me all four sides.sprocket wrench wip 04

The top and bottom are each 3″ wide by 17″ long, which translates to 20 holes by 113 holes, the sides are 1.5″ wide by 17″ long so that becomes 10 holes by 113 holes.  All the depth-giving pieces will be 10 holes wide by whatever length needed to fit easily around the curves.

I stopped at that point so I could go to bed.  Next will be the socket’s jaws and the decorative overlay, and then swatching to see how much yarn I’ll need.

*For real.  I love math.

sprocket2


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The Fix is In!

It’s almost June, and that means a few things; the kids will be in summer camp, I can sleep in on Sundays because swimming lessons pause over the summer, and oh yeah- I have to start working on my cosplay for September’s Montreal ComicCon!

Uh.

Waitaminute.

Three years ago it was in September.  Two years ago it was in September.  Last year I missed, but am pretty sure it was in September, right around Rosh Hashana.

This year it’s in JULY??

*pouts* Not fair.  That’s WAY LESS costume crafting time.

Three years ago I went to my first con.  I went on the Saturday with Jakob, and was blown away.  I guess I hadn’t expected to get the CON experience I’d heard about/seen online, and it was, it truly was.  Jakob was dressed up as a SuperTiger (tiger costume with a superhero cape, his idea) and had a BLAST.

mtlcon1202

He’s not normally shy but he was beyond extroverted, walking right up to people in costume and asking for pics with them, and posing for the many, many pics people asked to take of him.  I think he felt like a mini celebrity- making a “growl” face and batting at people in the crowd with his tail.  mtlcon1204

(Plus the girls loved him.)

mtlcon1201

Happy, tired tiger.

We had SO much fun, in fact, that we went back again on the Sunday, and brought Yannick and Henri.  And this time I had to dress up too.  I borrowed my sister’s Little Red Riding Hood costume (hey, she’s in a ton of media, comics and video games… Uh, Red, not my sister) and though it was a pain navigating the double stroller around, we had a really great time.  (Maybe a bit less for Yannick, who had to keep smiling as he took pics of me with all the people who came up and asked).  Heh.

mtlcon1203

In 2013 I went back again, this time just me and Yannick, no kids.  I did my first ever homemade cosplay, but I still have yet to post pics of it here so instead here’s a quick hint at who I played:mtlcon1301Last year I didn’t go, mostly because life was a bit too hectic, and also because I hadn’t had a chance to make the one cosplay that’s been burning a hole in my brain since I got the idea.

I still haven’t had the time, but I did have another idea, one that I’d first had about two years ago when my kids began playing Skylanders.  I muddled it around last night and think I’ve settled.

Sprocket!

sprocket2

I’ve loved the character since my boys (and I) first started playing the game.  First of all, she’s a girl.  And her element is Tech.  And she’s tough.  And wields a big ass wrench and rides a freaking cannon!

sprocket3 sprocket4

Her official Skylanders bio says:

Personality

Resourceful, Sprocket isn’t one to sit back and let others do the work. She jumps in with both armoured feet, creating solutions for every problem imaginable.[1]

Biography

Sprocket was raised with all the privileges of a rich, proper Golding. But she cared little for fancy things. Instead, she spent most of her time growing up in her uncle’s workshop, learning how to build and fix his many mechanical inventions. But everything changed on the day her uncle mysteriously vanished. When she eventually discovered that Kaos had been behind his disappearance, she constructed a battle suit and went after him, leaving the luxury and comfort of her family’s wealth behind. From that moment on, Sprocket was dedicated to fighting the forces of evil, whilst never losing hope that she would reunite with her beloved uncle.

Awwww yeah!

What officially sold me on the idea, however, was when I hit upon how I plan to make the wrench.  The best part is that not only will it be lightweight, but if it works the way I think it will, it will have an enclosed compartment to hold my phone and wallet and stuff.

I’m not planning on sticking exactly to the costume as shown, though.  I found a Deviant Art drawing someone did of Sprocket, and have asked permission to cosplay as that version instead.  It’s simpler, more realistic, but still identifiable.

The really best part?  One of this year’s con guests is Jewel Staite!!!  I will be going to ComicCon dressed up as a female mechanic and (hopefully) get to meet one of THE most awesome female mechanics – Firefly’s Kaylee!  *kermit arm flail*

 

 

minecraft cake


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How to Make a Minecraft Cake

From the lootbags to the toppers, next up in the Minecraft-themed birthday party is the yummiest part… the cake!minecraft cake

Jakob turned 8 over the weekend.jk8

I know.  I don’t know where the time went.  I’ve been blogging since before he was born, and now he’s 8 and such a good kid.  Of course he wants a Minecraft-themed party too, but, um, I haven’t begun to do anything for it yet, so instead I’ll finish showing you what I’d done for Henri’s Minecraft party, back in January.

mc cake front

To be honest, it’s not my favorite-looking cake.  I’m a lot prouder of the loot bags and the toppers than I am of how the cake turned out.  But- and here’s the important part- HE loved it.  (And it was delicious).

I started out by baking 2 9×11 chocolate cakes.  My kids prefer vanilla but going for the ‘dirt’ look I knew it would be easier on me to have a chocolate base in case the chocolate icing didn’t fully cover everything.  I also filled an 8×8 greased dish with blue Jell-O prepared as Jigglers, and set that to chill.

When I sat down to work on it I didn’t have a plan.  I knew I’d baked enough cake to stack layers, similar to the grass in the forest biomes.  (Yes, I play LOL).  I knew I had enough chocolate icing to slap it all together.  I knew I had a finite amount of “water cubes”, so I started with that.

mc cake back

I turned the Jell-O out onto a mat and squared the edges, then cut it into 2″ sections.  Then, after leveling the cakes, I used toothpicks to divide the cakes into 2″ sections as well.  Then I began to cut.  I held my platter over the cake to figure out how much to cut off to make it fit along at least 2 sides, and then cut away enough of the ‘front’ to fit the water ‘cubes’.  Then I cut the upper layers, holding and testing until I had something that had as little waste as possible while still looking as ‘unboring’ as I could manage.  (Technical term).

I stuck the upper layers down with icing then dirty iced the whole thing before sticking it in the fridge a few minutes to set up.  Then I gave all the sides a thicker coating of chocolate icing.  The ‘grass’ was piped with a star tip and not-completely-mixed vanilla icing and green icing gels, so there’s a slight variation in the color.  I was hoping that the shading, along with the star tip, would help it look ‘pixellated’ like the game.  I also piped some areas, leaving others blank, so as I ran low on icing and mixed in more, the colors would be different even within those areas.  (Best seen in the overhead view, above).

mc cake good

I placed the Jell-O in only AFTER the cake had chilled for a few hours.  I was afraid one would leech water out of the other and that I’d end up with a gooey, dissolving mess.  Then, at the party, I stuck the figures on just before serving, including tucking Mr. Squid under a few water cubes.

Even though I wasn’t as crazy about it, the kids loved it, the birthday boy loved it, and there were enough fondant figures so everyone who wanted one got one to eat.  (Apologies to their parents for any resulting sugar-rush).mc cake 01The great thing about Minecraft is that it’s SUPPOSED to look boxy – it’s all squares!  So whether it’s by shaping a cake, cutting rice krispy treats into cubes, or cutting brownie squares and topping them with green-tinted shredded coconut, there are a ton of ways you can make an easily-recognizable Minecraft cake.

Up next- putting it all together for the party!

photo 3(1)


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I may have gone too far.

In addition to everything else I’ve been working on lately, I had the idea for a new project, a little something for the boys.  In preparation for an eventual post about it, I needed a simple picture.  Both boys, side by side, looking sad.  Easy right?

Apparently not.

 photo 1Ok… Jakob, that’s not bad… I guess.  But Henri, what are you doing?  Open your eyes.photo 1(1)Geez… what?  No.

Jakob, you’re good, kinda.  Stay like that.  Henri, please.  Could you try to look a little less bored?photo 2(1)LESS bored.  I said LESS bored.  Jakob… you look like the eagle from the Muppets.photo 2(2)Um… okay?  Fine.  Henri, that’s the best I’m gonna get.  You just freeze like that.  Don’t move.  Ready and- uh Jakob?  What are you doing with your face?photo 3(1)That’s… not much better.  And Henri- I can see you starting to smile.  You’re not fooling anyone.photo 4Whaa?  Jakob- now you look… I dunno… nauseous or something.  And Henri, come ON!  Now you look both bored AND moderately amused.  SAD.  We’re going for ‘sad’… okay?  photo 5AH!  No!  Henri, you look like the poster kid from some horror movie.  And Jakob- that’s ‘m’ad.  We want ‘s’ad.  Wrong emotion.

*glances at clock and decides to exaggerate slightly*

Ok forget it.  We’ll try another time.  You guys took way too long, now there’s not gonna be any time for dessert. 

*starts to get up, then looks back when the wails start*

What are you two… hey… are those tears??

photo 4(1)

I’m sorry!  *click* I didn’t mean it! *click* You’ll still get to have dessert. *click* Look outside, how bright it is.  There’s plenty of time, silly boys… *click, click, click*

photo 5(1)The downside?  I’ll be hearing about this for years.  Jakob still reminds me about the time when he was about 2 and ‘you were gonna leave me in the park, and you started walking away because I wouldn’t get out of the swing, and you were gonna leave me there forever and I’d never see you again, and that really wasn’t… you really shouldn’t…’.  (The story tends to end when he starts choking back heavy, guilt-inducing sobs).

The upside?  I got my shot.

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