Saturday 31 August 2013

Baby Tights With Monster Bum and Feet

The Monster Bum tights were a hit, and the new footed version triples the terror.

The cool thing about Monster Bums is that you can make the monster face as scary as you like because it's not like babies get to see their butts.  Whether it's a zombie with bleeding eye sockets, the terrifying shark from Jaws or Vladimir Putin's face, the baby will be utterly oblivious to the derriere dread.  You can check out the tutorial for monster bum making here
Blik the Bat and his monster friends on bums and feet
I wouldn't go over the top with anything bloodcurdling for the footed Monster Tights because babies get to see their feet.  They are fascinated by those little wiggly extremities!  It's hard not to envy the incredible display of hip flexibility required for all the toe sucking.  Babies seem revel in showing off their yogic prowess.  I guess the Happy Baby pose is a pretty apt observation.

After I made a pile of monster bum tights for Zaika, adding monster feet to the next lot seemed like an obvious progression.  I sewed the feet using a double layer of fabric both for extra warmth and to keep the potentially scratchy embroidery off baby skin.  Here's a pretty simple tutorial for sewing footed tights

Dressed in her new pants for the first time Zaika abandoned her toys and spent an impressive amount of time conversing with the googly-eyed monsters on her feet.  I think she tried to eat them at one point.  Good to know that she can stand up for herself.

Baby tights with embroidered monster bum and monster feet
Baby tights with embroidered monster bum and monster feet

All the tights are made from merino, merino/cotton or super-soft merino/modal blends.  Those textiles are awesome to work with!
Baby tights with embroidered monster bum and monster feet
Baby tights with embroidered monster bum and monster feet
Blik the Bat bum
Baby tights with embroidered monster bum and monster feet
Blik the Bat feet
Baby tights with embroidered monster bum and monster feet
Pixie the Piggy bum
Baby tights with embroidered monster bum and monster feet
merino cotton blend
Baby tights with embroidered monster bum and monster feet

Friday 23 August 2013

How to Print a Photo Book on the Cheap

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for, so don't expect a glorious photographic masterpiece when using an online printing service.  Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to get a result that won't make you recoil in disgust.  Not using Comic Sans is a given, but there are other tricks.

How to get around the limitations of online book printing services

To commemorate Zaika's first year of life I decided to print a book of the year's photos and digitised keepsakes.  Back in the analogue days these were called "scrap books" and contained everything from photos to hair clippings to hand prints to possibly dried smears of stool samples.

Nearly a hundred pages, three hundred photos and over two hundred hours of image processing later I had a print ready tome.  It should not have taken nearly four months to complete, but I'm an overzealous pedant when it comes to a balance of chronology and visual flow, and the book was like an all consuming gigantic puzzle that threatened my precarious sanity.
Back cover: one year of damned formula spoons
Back cover: one year of damned formula spoons
If I wasn't a bum with no income and could afford to use a professional printing service, all those hours of digital toil would have resulted in a lovely InDesign document where all the images were precisely formatted and aligned with beautifully positioned text in a tidy inoffensive font.  I would be able to use this lovely InDesign document to print numerous copies of the book for the grandparents.  And if our house burnt down, I would reprint the book from my  precious offsite back up hard drive.  The print quality would be excellent, with superb detail, vibrant, true to file colour and crisp text.

Alas, because I am a bum with pretty much no income, the above "if" is wishful thinking.  Instead I had to settle for a daily deal for an online printing service at about a third of the price of a traditional book.  After all, beggars can't be choosers.  I've printed this way on a couple of prior occasions, and I was aware that the layout software offered by these online services is pretty limited, the text is basic, and that the prints come out nearly 1/2 stop darker.  I processed all images to optimise the workflow taking into account these software limitations.  The pedantic pixel management that this required took a hell of a lot of time.  Then I uploaded the processed photos to discover that the software has been "updated" to even shittier functionality.  I swore a lot and proceeded to work around this mess.

How to make the most of the deficient online book printing services after the jump:

Tuesday 13 August 2013

A Week of Food Photography

If you are what you eat, then I am either a vegetable or a fruit.  Possibly an onion or a kiwifruit.  I eat a lot of those.

Eight days of before/after breakfasts, lunches and dinners of a 10 month old. 
Eight days of baby meals: before and after
A few months ago I decided to document Zaika's meals.  In part, I thought that it would be an interesting visual study, and in part because my mild OCD directed me to chronicle Zaika's eating preferences for future reference.  As many a great artist, I was inspired by feelings of dejection.  I would present carefully cut pieces of fruit and vegetables, lovingly assembled sandwiches; and I would be presented back with a pile of half chewed, multi-coloured mush, some of it smeared into my hair.  I spent several weeks photographing Zaika's food before and after meal times and eventually extracted just over a week's worth of chronologically accurate images.

I would love to repeat the experiment again, now that Zaika is older and has a better appetite and a much more varied pallette.  However, the level of dedication that this challenge presents is pretty daunting.  Three times a day for several weeks is a commitment.  Firstly I have to be very organised with the meals because we all eat together, and it's tricky to time everything perfectly.  Also, Zaika finds the contents of my plate to be more palatable than the identical culinary presentation on her tray, so a portion of her many a meal comes off my serving.  Lastly, the gastronomic envy bounces in both directions, and I frequently find myself finishing off Zaika's leftovers.  I'm like a family dog, crawling under the high chair, eating stray chickpeas off the drop cloth.  Exceptionally dignified.

Pasta meal
Nom nom nom mmmm pasta

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Colouring in My Fabric Stash, Again

Last summer I made an unsurprising discovery that my fabric collection was devoid of colour.  Parenting duties mandated for that to be rectified.  Several months down the track, my enticing pile of brilliant blacks has again been diluted by multi-hued invaders.

I'm not on Facebook.  I don't know what sort of a cataclysmic calamity would convince me to sign up.  However, not being on Facebook means that I miss all sorts of things and can't access information on some businesses that hadn't considered their privacy settings.

One of the events that has been consistently eluding me is the biannual 40% off everything sale at the Fabric Warehouse.  This year I was determined not miss it and made it my weekly task to check their Facebook page for that intoxicating announcement.  After weeks of seemingly nothing to live for, my persistence paid off.  I spotted the sale ad, and suddenly life was worth living again.  Morose hyperbole aside, I was pretty stoked.  In the 15min that I had to spend in the store, I grabbed numerous rolls of stretch knits and a few wovens (mostly cellulose blends).
Black is feeling betrayed in a corner somewhere
Coincidentally, the obscenely colourful homeware/craft/fabric emporium next door also had 40% off all their fabric.  I gingerly made my way past the isles of horrible, imported cheap crap towards the visually distressing technicolour sea of textiles.  This ocean of yuk has a selection of kids' prints that's varied enough to offer a design or two that even I don't mind, like some of their Japanese imports.
Lime green ribbing, cotton elephant print, cotton whale print, silver flannelette animal print, red flannelette robot!!! print, gunmetal cotton elastane woven, purple viscose cotton woven, green and red viscose wool knits, red and grey stripe viscose elastane knits
So much for making baby clothing out of old garments only...  I managed a few bibs, etc.  Alas, I don't seem to wear out clothes, and my whingeing hand me downs amnesty resulted only in a few polyester blend shirts and a couple of old sweaters in wrong colours.
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