A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: video games


Secret project update: Getting there with the sewing!

7/16 rows done

I’m going to pretend this is festive by saying that you could wear this Mario costume to a New Year’s party. If anyone from Nintendo is reading and feeling litigious, then any resemblance to your character is purely coincidental. I think that should cover me!

Here’s a pic of the finished cossie

All finished

Definitely not the most flattering picture of me, but it’s the only one where you can see all the elements of the costume. Isie, if you ever read this, don’t be annoyed that I covered you up, I just wasn’t sure you’d want your image used on here!

I’ve got a few pics of my process so we’ll start with the hat. Here we go!

Mario’s hat

You will need:

  • Fabric or all-purpose glue
  • Cheap red baseball cap
  • White felt
  • Scissors (proper sharp ones)
  • Scrap paper and pencil

This was really very easy.

  1. Find an image of a Mario M online and use it to create a template on the scrap paper. To make sure it’s the right size, I found a circular object that looked a good size and used that to draw the large circle like so.Measuring M for hat
  2. Here’s my finished template
  3. M template
  4. I folded it half so I was sure it would be symmetrical, then trimmed it up a bit.
  5. Place the template on your felt and carefully cut around it. You could use a fabric pen to draw it on but I worried that it would stain the felt and end up looking dodgy.
  6. Cut out M
  7. Now you just carefully glue it in place. My hat had a helpful seam down the middle so I knew the M was perfectly in the centre. Put glue just on the bottom of the felt and below the cut-out M. Carefully glue just the first half. This allows you to make adjustments more easily.Sticking M
  8. Once you’re satisfied that it’s looking good, glue the rest and voila!M hat finished

The moustache

This is very easy. All you need is:

  • Black felt
  • Scrap paper and pencil
  • Sharp scissors
  • Tit tape
  1. Again, find a good reference image online and draw your template. The folding-in-half-for-symmetry trick works here too.Moustache template
  2. Again, lay on your felt (pin if you wish, but I didn’t) and cut out
  3. I found that I had to trim this one a bit more- if you don’t pin the template, it can slip around a bit.

The ? Box

This was actually the most complicated part of the whole enterprise! Don’t bother with it if you’re stuck for time, though it does look very cool and you could use it to give a present to a nerdy friend once you’ve finished with it.

My box has two sides with ?s, two with brick print and the top and bottom are plain yellow.

You will need:

  • Lots of paper. Preferably, coloured paper- 6 sheets of yellow, one orange, two brick-coloured and one black. Yellow wrapping paper would be ideal. If you don’t have coloured paper, you’ll need paint.
  • A cardboard box
  • Squared/graph paper
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Black permanent marker
  • Patience
  1. If you don’t have coloured paper, paint your paper and leave somewhere to dry flatPainting paper yellowSix yellow sheets
  2. Prepare your template for the ? Again, find a good reference image online. Since it is 16-bit, this actually makes this much easier. I used the squared paper so my dimensions were perfect. The shaded bits will be black and the rest, orange.
  3. ? template
  4. Draw around your template onto orange paper and cut out carefully.
  5. Using the black marker, carefully draw and then shade in all the hatched parts of the ?Half done ?
  6. Make another one. I love this pic.
  7. ??
  8. Using the squared paper again, cut out four pixels for each corner of the block.
  9. Stick the yellow paper all around the box, overlapping the corners so that it is completely yellow. You could also spray paint the box, I imagine, or use wrapping paper if you’re sensible.
  10. Hold your breath and glue on your ? and pixels
  11. Finished box
  12. For the brick pattern, you really only need the ruler and a marker. Again, a reference image helps.
  13. Carefully rule out your grid pattern with the marker. I used the width of the ruler for the brick and then the edges of the numbers for the black parts. This avoided some unnecessary measuring. Although I did measure a bit to ensure that the lines were straight.Brick pattern outline
  14. Colour in all the black bits
  15. Brick pattern
  16. Cut and stick to your box

The rest

You’ll need

  • Some blue dungarees. I got mine cheap on eBay.
  • Yellow Fimo (optional)
  • White gloves

I created some little discs of yellow Fimo for Mario’s yellow buttons. This was slight overkill, so I’d only do it if you have Fimo lying around the house. You could also use stiff card.


Strut your stuff- you look like an awesome diminutive Italian plumber!



I finally went to see my recently married friend for the first time since the wedding, so I was able to take a picture of my framed cross-stitch.


What you can’t see (happily) in this picture is that I improvised the framing process as well. I went to visit my mum soon after starting this project and she happened to have a frame of the correct size. When I went back on my way down to the wedding, however, the frame no longer fit as I hadn’t factored in the size of the date. Luckily, mum is also a bit of a hoarder and so managed to dig out this lovely golden frame for me. Which was slightly too BIG. After more digging, mum came up with the marbled-effect card. Luckily you can’t really tell that I had two pieces of card, laid together and cut by eye.

I’m posting about this as I think it’s interesting even though my sense of perfectionism/harsh superego (shout out to any psychoanalytically oriented readers!) nearly prohibits it. Recently, some friends and I went to a mosaic-making workshop. For somewhat obscure reasons, I decided on a Mario theme and chose the exact design based on the tiles available. Here’s my rather rough-around-the-edges finished productHere’s how this wonderful effect was achieved.Image

Step 1: The highly technical drawingsImage

I laid the tiles down to check that dimensions were okay. The baseboard is just an old piece of MDF.

Step 2: Cut tiles into fragments and glue down with PVAImageImage

Step 3: High and dry

Leave your board to dry for at least an hour, so that the pieces of tile will stay solid when you start grouting. Looking back at this picture, I wish I’d used a darker colour of grout. Oh well, it’s all learning for next time.

Step 4: I’m a mosaic, get me grout of here!

Mix up your grout with water to approximately the consistency of toothpaste and then get messy. Smear it all over the place, using either a proper tool or an old credit card to work it down into all the gaps.ImageLeave for about 10 minutes until it begins to dry, while you prepare a bowl of warm water and a sponge.

Step 4: Clean it up

Gently clean the grout from the surface of the tiles with your clean sponge, rinsing frequently. You’re just wiping off the surface, trying to keep all of the grout between the tiles level. This step takes ages, but you should be left with something like this.Image

Step 5: Polish

Just polish it up with a clean t-shirt and voila!

Now that my best friend’s wedding is a happy memory, I can post about the making of her present. I suffer from some confusion about the niceties of social etiquette, so it took me some time to realise that I actually had to give a gift other than my amazing company. One of my mottos is ‘if you’re going to do it, do it well’, so about a month before the wedding, I decided to embark on an ambitious project. The bride’s sister had made some fabulous hand-drawn invitations.


After some umming and aahing, my quest was clear: to reproduce this in cross-stitch form. Initially, I was naive enough to think I could do the whole thing. Happily, I was disabused of this idea after completing about five stitches. With the help of an online cross-stitch design programme, I managed to create this pattern


Now the real work could begin.

Unfortunately, it only occurred to me to take pictures after a good 100 hours of labour. Lesson for next time, I suppose! By which time I had reached this stageImage

I think I started taking pictures here because I was terrified I would make a mistake and ruin the whole thing. For example, it took me a while to realise that the program had rendered all of the stitches next to black lines in weird shades of green that I didn’t want in my final work. Improvising rocks!

Anyway, here are some more pics




Apologies for some of the dodgy quality. As you can see, rather than taking these on a sensible surface, I shot them on my bed. Awesome.


Here you can see that I’ve done the outline around the groom’s cigarette. This was surprisingly tricky and hard to get right. I expect that cross-stitch perfectionists will cringe at my choice, but it looked weirder when done in any other way.

Nearly done now!


Can you sense the smug satisfaction through the screen? This feeling was only slightly diminished when I realised I hadn’t done the groom’s belt buckle.


Much better!

This photo was taken as an insurance policy in case I burnt the whole project when I ironed it. But, miraculously, I didn’t. The only thing left was to frame it…