Well, between the hexagons and the cold winter nights which make me less inclined to sit with a sewing machine and more to stay snuggled handsewing and watching TV with the Hubster, I’ve felt I haven’t much to say, hence the 2 week gap between confessions.
But then my sweet, craftilicious-supermum-and-all-round-gorgeous friend stopped by with her 4 year old, and I put up THE PIRATE SHIP. She was smitten. Instantly. I knew the kids would be, as they always are, but Alison was completely in love too. She desperately wants to make one herself for her children but felt she needed some pointers. So I thought I might detail the process here, although I didn’t take photos at the time, so you might have to make do with some sketches! It’s very simple though, and all raw edge applique, so not difficult!
I made this for Kiddo’s 4th birthday party with a pirate theme – it hangs over the bannister, making a pirate den out of the space under the stairs. All children love it – especially becasue of the portholes which they can look out of – or use magnetic fishing rods to go fishing out of.
Behind it I put a wee soft cushion area, and drew some porthole pictures which I stuck onto the wall with bluetack.
Ours is obviously for under the stairs, so is pretty huge, dropping down the flight of stairs, but this could easily be smaller and hung to divide up a child’s room, a corner of a room, or as Alison is hoping to do – for some bunk beds.
I can’t really give full instructions or a pattern just because everyone’s size will be different, but the shapes are really simple, so here’s how I did it. I also made a load of red and blue bunting from my fabric, so you might have leftovers too.
Materials (all fabric from IKEA, it’s all extra wide, about 150cm wide):
- 2.5 metres bomull fabric in natural from IKEA (£1.50 per metre) for background
- 1.5 metres red ditte fabric £3 per metre
- 1 metre blue ditte £3 per metre
- 1 metre black ditte fabric £3 per metre
- thread, scissors, fabric pencil/chalk or similar
- safety pins (or normal pins if you don’t think you’ll lose them on such a big item!)
- clear vinyl if you have it (I didn’t but might add this in for the portholes)
- sewing machine – using a zigzag stitch
- I guess the most obvious thing is to measure your space and decide how big it should be. Then cut the background fabric as large as you want it to be. Lay it out on the floor like a big sheet of paper. From now on, it’s like making a big picture on that “paper”
- Next cut the top of your blue fabric into waves or a choppy sea. you could leave it flat so it looks like a horizon, which would still look good.
- Lie it on the bottom of your background and smooth out the wrinkles.
- Next draw out the ship’s base. (is it a hull? I should have more seafaring knowledge!). My ship was about 24” tall and 50” wide, but your might be smaller. The shape is simple; here’s a drawing:
- lie it onto your sea. Now cut 2 long strips of black fabric, maybe a couple of inches wide. Use them as masts for the sails, on your picture, with the ship’s hull covering the ends.
- It will already be starting to look like a cool picture! Ok. Now for the sails. I cut big rectangles, roughly the size I wanted the sails, one big, one medium and 2 smaller. I actually freehand cut everything without drawing it and it was all fine, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it being perfect. But the top and bottom lines of the sails should be parallel, and the curve should match on both sides as much as possible. Here are drawings, alongside drawing of the pirate flag elements. I didn’t want the skull and crossbones to look too scary!
- Now lie all your bits onto your picture and voila! It should look like a pirate ship. I actually did the portholes after I’d sewn the rest on.
- Once you’re happy with it, pin everything onto the fabric with safety pins. Take it to the sewing machine and use a zigzag stitch all the way round every line of your picture to secure it. It looks better if you use the same colour thread as the applique fabric, like blue for the sea, red for the sails etc. I know it will fray a bit over time. I know it’s not perfect or obviously not a commerical shop-bought product, but it still looks cool, and is durable enough for many many playtimes! Noone has noticed on ours because of the size of it. Sure, if you can be bothered to turn under the edges and applique it properly, go ahead, it will look wonderful!
- Once it’s all sewn up, draw 3 circles for portholes using the red fabric. Mine were about 9” diameter, I didn’t even bother to draw round a plate – but it would have been neater if I had. It’s still fine! It’s all very forgiving. Pin onto the hull of your ship and zigzag all the way round. Next draw an inner circle in the middle of each and cut this out , through all the layers of your picture. Zigzag round the raw edges to secure, you should probably do this a couple of times for each, or use a close zigzag. My inner circles are 5-6” diameter. You can sew some clear vinyl or lace onto the back of the portholes, and probably should if you have very young children whom you are worried might stick their wee heads in and get stuck, or worse, dangle. *shudders*.
- Then I took my hanging up the stairs and asked the Hubster to hold it where I wanted it to go. I did 3 marks where I thought ties should go, then very firmly sewed long tapes (actually I made them with 3 inch strips, iron in half lengthways, open, iron the lengthways edges to meet in the middle and sew up the side to make a strong tape). Our bannister is made of slats so I wrap my tapes round the slats and tie firmly, but I guess would have had to put some nails in otherwise, or found another way to hold it in place. It takes a few minutes to put up and take down, so I just get it out for playdates. Which is pretty frequent these days! At least it’s getting plenty of use 🙂
And get ready for some swashbuckling!
Not into pirates? How about a house with windows and a door? Or a castle? Or a wee simple car, hold on, like this one (I’m getting my pencils out!)
Or if I had boys’ bunk beds to decorate like my friend Alison, I would be very tempted to hang the hanging in front of the beds, to make a den for each boy. I would definitely use clear vinyl for the windows, I wouldn’t be able to sleep thinking of the accidents that could happen otherwise, but then I am paranoid. I think I would do a scene, like an aeroplane or spaceship for the top bunk and car for the bottom. Actually what I’d do is a spce scene, with 2 rockets, some stars and planets, and space themed bedding – and glow in the dark planets and stars all over their rooms! Those boys would have such adventures, they’d never go to sleep!
Well, me hearties, I know it’s not “posh sewing”, but it is a fun sewing project, and I hope you’ve had fun thinking about what you might do… or not – not everyone wants a big pirate ship in their house. Although my 4 year old wouldn’t believe you 😉
Till the next time, have fun – and I’d love to see any wallhanging dens you make!