Thursday, 20 July 2017

Birthdays mean stencilled t-shirts, right?!

So I guess I've created my own making tradition where the boy gets a stencilled t-shirt with his current favourite "thing" for his birthday. But this year the mid-June birthday crept up on me and I had so much else to do. But jump forward to a week after his birthday and I found time to make him a t-shirt just before his party with all his friends.


And this year's "thing"? The fidget spinner of course. These little, cheaply machined, but perfectly balanced, pieces of plastic that allow kids who are minimally engaged with listening to you to express that by constantly fidgeting with something while you talk to them. Anyway, grumpy old lady rant aside they are the current fad and seemed a fun and easy t-shirt stencil to make.

I found an image via an online search that showed a fidget spinner at an angle that I liked and used that to cut the basic stencil. The different coloured sections and the "steel" grey bits were done with stencil cutting, then all the dark grey highlights on the black background were freehand painted on at the end.

The T-shirt is the Oliver + S School Bus T-shirt with the customary crazy amount of extra sleeve length. From memory it's a size 8 t-shirt PLUS another 10cm of sleeve length. Seriously! Here's the camera phone photo I snapped to remind myself of how much extra sleeve length this kid needs:


I liked the idea of a bit of fidget spinner style colour blocking with sleeves and neckband and had all these primary coloured knits in the stash - well maybe I had to buy more red, but that will always be useful for school uniform tops so it doesn't count as new fabric. :)


In a quiet moment at work I propositioned my boss about making a cake for P for his party. She can bake, I can't, and she's been happy to do my kids birthday cakes in the past. We decided on a fidget spinner cake and started looking online for inspiration. Well there were lots of fidget spinner cakes and we found some that claimed to "really spin". But they were just cakes mounted on Lazy Susan boards and we weren't impressed.

A real fidget spinner cake should have the centre section stationary while the outer part of the cake spins. We needed a cake board with a central hole. It must have been a quiet day rather than just a quiet moment 'cause from that point on I found myself in phone contact with a woodwork supplies shop on the other side of town ordering a lazy susan bearing system to be delivered...


I then bought two cake boards from the local party supplies shop and got out the compass, ruler and pencil. Can you feel an overengineered project coming on? I sure could. Exciting huh?!

The size of the central hole was, of course, dictated by the bearing plates central hole and the shape of the outer was drawn to ensure that the metal parts of the bearing plates would be covered.

I hadn't thought through the "how on earth will I cut this" part and assumed that hardware stores could do jigsaw cutting to order - they don't. Luckily a local furniture restoration guy who repaired and recovered our couch was willing and able to help.


Then it was just a matter of covering the top board with aluminium foil and attaching each board to the bearings. I'd planned to screw them but Flipper wielded the hot glue gun he'd given me for my birthday (who says romance is dead) and assembled the stand.


Now that we've finished with it I fully intend to replace the aluminum foil, re-glue it and sell the thing on Ebay! I expect it might do well :)

Anyway, Gabby produced the perfect cake, consisting of three different mud cakes and a cleverly iced and concealed tin for the central section.



Voila, we had a real spinning fidget spinner cake.


So then a couple of weeks later it was Gabby's little boys fourth birthday and I figured another stencilled t-shirt was in order. What was his thing? Turned out he is a big LEGO Batman fan. That seemed like a great idea for a detailed stencil:


It's the same oatmeal merle cotton lycra for the body as P's top. This time the pattern is the Oliver + S Field Trip Raglan Tee and a straight size 4. Turns out he's a pretty big four year old and while the t-shirt is fine in width it's barely long enough in the body and will only be a one season t-shirt.


Pity 'cause I'm kinda proud of my LEGO Batman stencil. One day I really should do a screenprinting workshop so I can use the stencils more than once! These are freezer paper stencils and I do it the laborious, but thoroughly enjoiyable way, by handcutting the stencil.


Then each piece is replaced and ironed into position before painting. These kind of one colour stencils are slow to cut but then really quick to paint. The results are pretty cool!


A round up of previous stencils and note son freezer paper and paints can be found here: Stencil blog post link

If you want to over-engineer a cake stand you're on your own but know this: You're my kind of person and I salute you!

12 comments:

  1. T-shirts, stencils, birthday cake & an over engineered cake stand... my head is spinning! See what I did there? As always, I love reading your informative but numerous blog post and seeing the awesome things you make.

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    1. Nice. Bonus blog reader points for the bad pun Anna.

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  2. You are amazing and one very special Mum, fantastic spinner t-shirt and the cake stand is an engineering feat and Gabby is an amazing cake maker. Love the Lego Batman t-shirt! I'm surprised the kids in the neighbourhood aren't knocking on your door!

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    1. Thanks Sharon, Gabby is a treasure, not just as a cake maker but as an employer too!

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  3. A spinning cake - now that's dedication. The top looks awesome too. You are the queen of stencilling!

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    1. It had to be done Marisa! Once I get an idea in my head there's no stopping me :)

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  4. Far out that is the coolest birthday cake ever!!! ( wondering if I should hire your amazing set up from you for an upcoming 14 year old birthday cake!). Tee shirt stencils are brilliant too!!! I have baby tee shirts, light box, designs and freezer paper ready to make some baby gifts- just have to make time to get them done....

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    1. :) if you're local, look out for the cake stand on Ebay! But of course, now you've seen the workings there's nothing stopping you making one, right?! Enjojy your stencil painting, it's the cutest way to customise baby tees

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  5. That cake is a work of art!
    I am new to the toy but I cannot imagine a better interpretation.

    I hear you on the screen printing course, I would LOVE to do one too.

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    1. We'd find room for you on the couch if you need a crafting visit to Melbourne! Whenever I have a complicated stencil in mind the course isn't on. Whenever the course is on I don't have any projects in my head...

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  6. After reading your comment, of course I had to immediately come and see what you made. The t-shirt is fantastic of course, and I would like to have a closer look at your stencil of 'that' annoying thing that they are all fidgeting with these days. But, I agree with mother of 5 up here, the cake is really a work of art. Thank fully birthday here is over, and by next year this craze is over. So I can only marvel over yours and not worry about having to come up with one.
    I never really realised that our older ones are only two weeks apart. The school bus t-shirt is such a great canvas to make birthday t-shirts, or any other kind, isn't it? He looks all grown up of course, as 9 years do. A very very happy birthday to him, and congratulations to his genius mum for the cake (and t-shirt!).

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    1. Sorry, I didn't take an in-progress photo of the fidget spinner stencil. It is fun to run with whatever the kdis are currenlty passionate about. The toy fads only last as long as the sleeve length on a t-shirt so longevity is never a problem!

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