Review: DIY Tribe – workshop and sewing kits

We were recently at the Green Gathering festival where The DIY Tribe came and gave some sewing workshops.

Jo was friendly and engaging, the children taking part in our camping group were aged between 5 and 10 and all came with us. Though there were adults and teens at the same session not in our group also enjoying themselves. The session was well prepped in terms of plan, supply of equipment and materials and back ups. If anyone was struggling Jo was attentive and encouraging in the way she approached helping them. She was also flexible to the members of the group who wanted to go in their own artistic direction (and come up with their own designs).

If I had an event where a workshop of this nature was suitable/required, I would not hesitate in asking for The DIY Tribe. More information about the workshops here.

The children were very excited to bring home their makes. They absolutely loved that it was “real sewing, stabby needles and all” instead of the “babyish needle sewing” they have in kits from friends and family. In fact, when I told them we had kits at home, from The DIY Tribe that I had previously got, they were very excited.

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The kits at home

The excitement from the workshop didn’t disappear when we got home. In fact, even though they have now completed their kits at home they are still very fired up in terms of creativity.

The kits came in very cute and neatly packaged little boxes, with the loose materials tied inside the main piece of fabric and then a good quality embroidery hoop, real needle and some paper instructions complete with templates. The kits are designed so that the children have a more real world experience of a sewing project; aside from having collect the materials (it’s all provided) they have to do everything from cutting templates right through to pinning the cut outs to the fabric to sew. All of the preparation is done by them. The only thing you need to add to the kit is a pair of scissors.

The kits are aged at 8+. Aged a little above and a little below that age with motor difficulties a little guidance was required (mostly help with knots) and they both pricked themselves (and me) a ton… but it’s all part of the development and learning process and left us all in giggles. No tears were shed. It was definitely suitable to both of their needs, they just both needed differing levels of support to complete it.

They loved watching their kits slowly evolving into their own little masterpiece and you could see the sense of pride and achievement grow with each stage. It also helped Logan, who’s very much a “I want it finished yesterday” kind of boy in understanding somewhat that sometimes it takes time to achieve what you want to achieve. But the level of difficulty in this kit means the end goal is attainable, though still has an element of challenge (in a positive-learning experience kind of way). And the different materials and stitches required meant that it wasn’t all just the same old technique which made it more fun.

 

In all it took about 1 hour to complete their projects (around 10 minutes prep, 40 minutes making time and 10 minutes clear up). The children are very proud of what they have achieved and cannot wait to frame their projects ready to present them to their grandparents for Christmas (yes, we are collecting our projects through the year to give to the grandparents for Christmas – so Grandparents, we hope you are not reading this).

More information about the kits can be found here.

NB. This is a genuine review. At the time of writing Jo and The DIY Tribe have no idea that this blog even exists (to my knowledge) let alone that they’d be reviewed.

 

Building “the beast”

As promised, I am writing a post about our custom bed, a product of my brain, borne of necessity.  The attic room, our bedroom, is accessed by a staircase that’s only 70cm wide and has a right angle bend in. Given the layout of the room: eaves, radiator, slanted wall due to staircase, alcoves and so forth, I knew it would be difficult to suppose that a double bed could sit against a wall, as well as having wardrobes without having the radiator, among other things, moved. So I knew we needed a storage bed of some variety. I had looked into ottoman beds, but the mattress base tends to come assembled, which we would find quite literally impossible to get into the room. So I tried to look into alternatives. But nothing suitable was coming back. I had a search around on Pinterest a bit, but still nothing overly struck me. Bits and bobs but I didn’t see anything that would suit quite what we were looking for.

After a while sat thinking about what stuff we’d need to be stored etc. I realised we didn’t need hanging space (we are drier to drawer kind of folk, we do own an ironing board, and it does come out for special occasions, but given the children’s inability to do big functions… that’s very irregular indeed). So, I needed drawers, like a cabin bed. Then it hit me… The small Ikea Stuva frames with drawers… perfect. After having measured up the floorspace, I knew I had space for a superking, so now it was down to planning. Once I had the idea though, it just came together…

Fast forward to moving in and all the packages arriving for me to build the frame. I was left to carry all of these boxes up the 2 flights of stairs (whilst trying to keep the children safe…). I am quite disappointed I didn’t lose a stone that week in all honesty, I swear I sweated out more than a stone in weight but whatever…

 

Next came assembling the cupboards as they should stand. I had decided I would need 9: 2 sets of drawers with 2 deep drawers, 4 sets of drawers with 1 deep and 2 shallow drawers and 3 cupboards with doors and a shelving. Then placed into a U shape 30 cm away from the wall so that they were inline with the coving.

 

After a painstaking process of leg adjustments, leveling and screwing each cupboard to its neighbouring unit, I had to add a central and header frame. But ensure that it was low enough that the mdf sheets would slot in and remain flush with the top of the cupboard. And allow for an extension cable to reach the end of the bed, for plans to later be revealed.

 

Once that was on, and we had drilled some air holes in the MDF and hoovered, we could leave the mattress to rest. Although, Bruce got confused and decided that he was called mattress and not Bruce (I should also add that this masterpiece was created by my brain, shopping power and physcial strength and energy… he just helped from the point of drilling holes in the MDF – lazy pants).

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Once 48 hours had passed, I dressed the bed and set about my plans for shelving either side of the bed… The plans were always intended but how they were going to be achieved wasn’t clear in my brain until I got to this point.

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The shelving had to be no deeper than 30cm, but allow maximum capability to store things such as books and the like. But then I found there’s a Stuva unit that is only 30cm deep – so that was perfect. I got 4 and a Besta TV unit, which now houses our TV, speaker and Xbox for when we finally get moments of respite… And that’s the bed (almost) complete. Looking at the picture, there’s a 30cm gap between the edge of the bed and the coving where I intend to do a 30cm square shelving, with double USB port/single plug socket charging point and small cupboard.

Behold, “The Beast”

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PS, good luck trying to get up our stairs and into this after a few beers… it’s a challenge.

A new baby – not ours

We get very excited about babies. Very.

And news came to us, just before we were moving house, that a new baby was coming. Well, the news came the day we exchanged contracts in fact. So it was a memorable day for sure.

Anyhow, we like to make stuff, so the kids set to work on what they wanted to do for the new bundle. They made a felt picture each, in a photo frame, for the baby’s room.

I, being me… home education, children, uni degree, house move, blog, health issues, therapy commitments. Clearly not satisfied I have enough on my plate, commit to constructing a quilted blanket. The children were heavily involved in the quilt in its process, from choosing and pairing the fabric, to being my fabric/thread assistant, or even to just getting me a drink (we have a Tassimo machine, they are happy to make hot drinks roughly every 3 seconds of the day).

Well, eventually we ended up with a quilt, many blisters, very dry hands, sore fingers and a sore bitten lip… but a quilt nonetheless. It may have some wonky stitches, but it was a labour of love and excitement, and I am hoping valued more than something shop bought. It was definitely not a cheap option either, I could definitely buy something for a third of the price, but it’d have less thought and effort put in. And, at cot bed size, will be perfect as a play mat for now, and if it lasts, could be utilised as a quilt on a toddler bed.

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