Saturday, December 17, 2011

DIY: Fabric Ornament Tutorials

It's not too late!!  Maybe you're even one of those people who have already finished your shopping, making, and baking... and you're looking for another project.  There are some of those people, right?!  Just to be clear, I am NOT one of those people.  Yes, I'm still shopping, making, baking, decorating, cleaning, strategizing, and otherwise preparing for Christmas. In fact, I just started last week, when I took down the last of the [ahem...] Halloween decorations.  I know, I know... pretty pathetic.  Anyway, these fabric ornaments are so adorable, you may have to add them to your "to do" list, no matter how long it already is!  I know I'm planning to make a bunch of the cute little houses to give as gifts... even if I am working all the way up 'til Christmas Eve.  Shh... don't tell.

Here's the round-up of tutorials, clockwise, from top left.
1.  Home for the Holidays ornament from Retro Mama
2.  Owl ornaments from Juicy Bits
3.  Felt polaroid Christmas ornaments from Katie Cupcake
4.  No-sew fabric ball ornament from Everyday Beautiful
5.  Simple sewn bird ornament from The Purl Bee
6.  Holiday mitten ornament from Oliver + S

Happy handmade holidays!

And the owl goes to...

I had so much fun participating in this giveaway and really, truly enjoyed reading all of your comments!  Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by and visited my blog.  I am continually blown away by the online sewing/crafting/making community.  There are just so many great resources and creative people out there (here?), and I enjoyed finding new inspiring blogs during this Sew, Mama, Sew! giveaway.  I hope you did too!

I used a random number generator to draw the winner of Mr. Owl (actually my 4 year old daughter had the honor of clicking the button).  And the owl goes to comment number 80:

Rachel said...
So cute! My favorite tradition is decorating the tree and seeing all the ornaments I've been given over the years!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sew, Mama, Sew! Giveaway!

I'm so excited to be participating in Sew, Mama, Sew's Giveaway Day!  I absolutely love the Sew, Mama, Sew blog.  It's a wonderful place full of tutorials, inspiration, and all sorts of other sewing-related goodness.  Plus, Sew, Mama, Sew! sells amazing fabric, patterns and more on their website.  Okay, enough gushing, and onto the giveaway!

I'll be giving this owl away to one lucky winner!  Mr. Owl was designed and handmade by me with brown wool tweed suiting material (for the body) and 100% wool felt (for the face, wings and feet).

Simply comment on this post anytime before Friday, December 16 at 5 pm PST.  In your comment, please share your favorite holiday tradition, or not... it's up to you.  Please be sure that I have a way to contact you if you are the winner!!  If your email is not connected to your blogger profile, please include it in your comment.  I will use to chose the recipient of Mr. Owl, then I'll announce the winner the next day.  I am happy to ship domestically or internationally.

My favorite holiday tradition is unwrapping the ornaments, and then watching my kids decorate the tree -- now that they can do it themselves!  And also staying in the house (in our pajamas most of the day) on Christmas day.

If you're not the winner, but would love to have an owl of your own, you can purchase a similar one in my shop.  Also, be sure to check out all of the generous giveaways on Sew, Mama, Sew! and to discover some amazing new blogs to follow.  Click the link below to get there.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

From textile to print

I've been busy printing, scoring, cutting, and packaging sets of holiday cards so I can post them in my shop and have them to sell at a couple of upcoming local craft fairs.

The images on the cards began as fabric appliqués.  I was originally inspired by Syko's lovely postcards.  I love the way she uses stitches almost as if she is drawing on the fabric.  I also love the bright colors and whimsy in her work -- check out her stuff if you're not already familiar with it!  Anyway, I just couldn't stop thinking about this idea of turning one medium into another. And maybe I was also intrigued by the idea of using a medium I'm pretty comfortable with (fabric and thread) to create something else I love, but am less skilled with (ink on paper).  So, I rolled these ideas around in my head, and at about this time last year, I designed the Christmas tree appliqué below.  Here is the process of how it went from sewing machine to printer.

The image on the left is a photograph I took of the original appliqué.  For some reason I used a beige-y speckled muslin for the background.  Please don't ask me why, since my intention all along was for the background to essentially disappear.  Fortunately, I am armed with a version of Photoshop which, although rather old (actually, ancient!), still takes care of the basics.

So, I photographed the textile, taking care to get as little glare on the shiny buttons as possible (something else that was fixable in Photoshop).  Then I imported the image and began playing with brightness and contrast until I was happy.  The image on the right (above) is what I ended up with.  I was having so much fun, I then started playing around with hue and came up with four more funky versions of the tree.

Last winter, I printed these on pre-scored card-making printer paper from Avery and called it a day.  But I wasn't quite satisfied.  This year, I've experimented with several different paper types, weights, and textures. I finally settled on Paper Canvas from Red River Paper.  I has a lovely textured surface, a nice weight, and it takes color beautifully.  I bought myself a bone folder and a mini paper cutter... and away I go!

I'll be selling them in sets of 10 (some with only the original tree, and some with the original plus assorted funky colored trees).  Oh, and I've added a new card design this year.  It has similar bright colors of fabric, but is made of many circles... that form a circle...  Can you guess what it is?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Etch A Sketch Masterpiece

Ok, so it may not be a masterpiece, exactly... but this temporary miniature objet d'art did warm my heart.  My four year old daughter was drawing on her Etch A Sketch recently, when she exclaimed, "Mom, look!  I made a sewing machine."

I love that that's the object she pictured when she looked at this drawing.  A sewing machine.  Of course it is.  I'm so proud!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

DIY: Upcycled Sweater Tutorials

I love, love, love these two sweater skirts from Anthropologie, especially the one on the left.  The skirts, and the fact that I can't really afford to buy either one, got me thinking about my stash of felted and unfelted sweaters, and what I might be able to make with them.  I thought I'd share here some of my favorites of the tutorials I found for upcycling sweaters into fun skirts, and a dress (Isn't the dress amazing?!).

1.  Anthropologie Inspired Sweater Skirt from Your Homebased Mom
2.  Upcycled Sweater Dress from Simply Step Back

3.  Child's Skirt from Crafting A Green World
4.  Hip Huggie from Betz White

I tend to use tutorials in the same way I use recipes.  That is, I peruse them to get a good idea of the concept, the process, the flavor combinations... then I use what I've learned to create something of my own. So I'm not quite sure what I'll do with these lovely ideas yet.  But when I figure it out, I promise to let you know!  And if you end up trying any of these tutorials, or making something else based on any or all of them, I'd love to hear about it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sneak peek.

I've been very busily getting ready for Constructor, which happens in just FOUR short days!!  I know my friends and family are sick and tired of me talking about the fair.  To them I say:  It will all be over soon and then (hopefully) I'll return to normal.  In the meantime, forget it.  It's all I can think about.  Have I made enough?  Am I pricing everything right?  How can I best display [fill in the blank]?  What have I forgotten?  Etc, etc.

Since none of this new stuff is in my Etsy shop, I thought I'd give you a peek at what I've been spending all my time making.  These are mostly process photos, and, really, much of it is finished now.  Just a few more things I'd like to make!!

It's been a lot of fun.  I've really had a blast creating all this stuff!

Perhaps I'll see you on Saturday.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Still 39.

At least for a few more hours.  According to my mom, I was born at around 1:30 pm Eastern Standard Time.  So, I'm not quite 40 yet.

I have to say, though, I'm feeling pretty good about this next decade.  When my friend asked me about my weekend on Tuesday morning, I happily told her about how much I enjoyed spending it with my extended family, and about the screen printing I was able to do.  It wasn't until about five minutes later that I even remembered to mention a little health problem that had crept up during the same weekend.  (Yeah, I get to spend the morning of my birthday having an ultrasound of my leg just to make sure I don't have a DVT, or deep venous thrombosis -- I'm pretty sure it's only a superficial clot.) 

Overall, I feel really lucky.  I have a wonderful and supportive family.  I have friends who will watch my kids in a pinch (and at a moment's notice), and who will listen patiently as I ramble on about my next crafty idea.  I live in a community I love.  And, for the most part, I am doing what I want to do right now.  I've sold a couple of items from my shop to actual strangers (as opposed to friends or relatives!).  And in the last two weeks, I've started preparing for my first big (really cool!) craft fair -- Constructor.  Even better, if Constructor's motto is accurate, then I'm officially a "bad-ass crafter."  Wow!  Who says you can't be 40 and bad-ass?!

The same friend who asked me about my weekend gave me some words of wisdom regarding this momentous birthday of mine.  She said our thirties are the "decade of children", while our forties are the "decade of ME."  I know this varies widely for individuals, depending on when, or if, each of us has chosen to start a family.  For me it is mostly true.  And I think it's an idea I can embrace.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Screen printing... and robot love

I've wanted to try screen printing for a long time.  I've been ogling this book for ages.  And I've checked this one out of the library too many times to count.  Both books feature several types of DIY printing (with rubber stamps, linoleum blocks, even with potatoes) for fabric and paper.  For some reason, though, it's the screen printing technique that got me.  I've held myself back from buying supplies on several occasions.  Not until I know how to do it, or have time to learn, I told myself.  I already have too much fabric and crafty stuff and not enough space to store it!!

Then I (finally!) signed up for a Saturday workshop at the Needle Shop.  It was an exhilarating four hours of printing, printing, and more printing!!  Our instructor taught us the photo-emulsion method of screen printing, which involves burning an image onto a screen treated with a light sensitive coating.  While we were waiting around for our screens to dry, and then the emulsion to dry, and then for the image to transfer... we created stencils with plain ol' masking tape.  Below are two t-shirts I made using the robot design I (literally) masked on a screen.  I also have some tote bags with this print for sale in my shop.  This masking tape process is so cool because it's instantly rewarding.  And inexpensive.  The only drawback is that the stencil doesn't last through repeated printing and washing.  And I love my little robot so much that I'm in the process now of making a new, more permanent, screen with this same robot image.

I think what I love about screen printing is the mass production factor, with a caveat.  Yeah, you can spend several hours drawing a design and preparing the screen.  But, then you can print almost forever (unless you've used masking tape to make your stencil).  Yet, because the ink is applied by hand and not machine, each print is ever so slightly different.  So, it's mass production in a cool, crafty, artsy sort of way.

Monday, April 25, 2011


So I finished this top back in the middle of March and was planning to post it right away.  Then I got a really icky case of poison ivy which kind of sucked the energy out of me.  While I was recovering, I got involved in a few volunteer projects and a campaign to save the arts and foreign language at my son's school, and I took my kids to visit their grandparents during Spring Break.  But, really, those are just a bunch of lame excuses.  There's no real reason, except for my own tendency to procrastinate, that kept me from sitting down at the computer for thirty minutes and letting you know that I finished this top.

I'm pretty happy with it overall.  I love the way the cap sleeves turned out!  Aren't they cute?  And it fits me well.  I got a little nervous about the sizing at the last minute, so I used a smaller seam allowance along the sides than the pattern called for.  I'm glad I did.  I might make it a couple inches longer next time and more tunic-like, but the length is really fine.  It was pretty quick to make, given that I only had small chunks of time after bedtime and during preschool to work on it.  And, for a "very easy" pattern, it has a good amount of quality detailing.  I like, for instance, that the yoke is entirely faced.  The pattern, by the way, is Vogue V8495, style A.   

I'm still waiting for the warm weather to wear this in, but I have a feeling when it comes, I'll be wearing it often.  If so, I may need to whip up another... maybe in an over-scaled abstract floral print... or a solid linen... In the meantime, I'm onto other projects and preparing for a big (four-year-old!) birthday celebration tomorrow.

And I'm still coming down from the high of an inspiring screen printing class I took Saturday.  (Thank you, Needle Shop!)  More to come on that soon... I promise.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Creating with kids

Just a quick post to let you know about a fabulous new downloadable mini-mag for crafty kids.  Published by, 'Action Pack' is truly "packed" with 20+ pages of science experiments, recipes, craft projects and outdoor activities for kids ages 7 and up.  This first issue is all about origami and beeswax, including a recipe for a very yummy sounding Honey & Cinnamon cake.  It also includes cute printable labels for decorating some of the projects, like the beeswax lip balm.  For $5, and completely advertising-free, I consider this a bargain.  I just bought a copy for myself... um... I mean, for my kids!  You can purchase one for your kiddos (and find out more about it) here.

And if you're looking for even more stuff for you and your kids to do (and at no cost -- well, except maybe for a few supplies), The Crafty Crow, is an excellent resource for all types of art and craft activities.  This is my go to site (literally!) when we're feeling really bored.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Pie... and a project

I was talking about pie Tuesday morning.  You don't have to know me for long to discover this is one of my favorite subjects.  In fact, here I am blabbing to all of you about this not-so-big secret on, what, my third blog post?!  Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah... pie!  So, it was the day after President's Day and for some reason I was taking about pie.  Then my dear hubby remembered that his grandmother always made cherry cobbler (which is kinda like pie, right?) on President's Day.  But, I'm thinking, President's Day was yesterday.  And then I look at the calendar and see that today (last Tuesday, actually) is Washington's Birthday, and, wait a minute, it was Mr. Washington and his famous quote about the cherry tree (true or not), that is the reason for this tasty tradition.  I know I shouldn't really have to have a reason to make pie, but it helps.  I'll just leave it at that for now.

So, I found frozen cherries at the grocery store, a filling recipe to loosely follow, and whipped up this pie.  I always use this pie crust recipe.  Because a really good pie crust makes a really good pie.  Truly.  Although the filling isn't exactly unimportant, for me, pie is all about the crust.

Finally, here's a photo to commit me to my next project.  I'm feeling like I need more practice sewing clothing from patterns.  I've had this pattern and the fabric since late last summer.  Now that spring is just around the corner (It's true!  I saw shoots emerging, alongside the snow, in my front yard today!), I think it's time for a new cheerful cotton top.  I'm making the shirt on the bottom left of the pattern envelope.  I'll let you know how it turns out. 

Monday, February 21, 2011


The kids and I had an impromptu party last night.  After all, who doesn't have an It's-Sunday-Night-And-Tomorrow-Is-President's-Day-Which-Means-No-School-Plus-We've-Been-Stuck-Inside-All-Day-Because-It's-Cold-And-Rainy party?!  The hubby left to catch up on work at the office and, so, missed out.  (We were happy to have him home for most of the weekend, though.)

I think Ellie had the idea first -- to set up for a party in her room.  Then Henry suggested we all make presents for each other.  This is the best part of these parties.  With me helping occasionally (and working on a surprise of my own), the kids worked diligently on their presents for a good 45 minutes.  Ellie made a card for Henry and they each made artwork for me.  For my art from Ellie, Henry, in his teacherly way, drew an outline in pencil for Ellie to trace and color in, then he added some final details that she couldn't draw herself. 

For Henry's gift, I suggested a holder for his markers (after all, it's been kind of driving me crazy to find them in piles on the floor all the time!).  I cut off the bottom of an empty orange juice carton, Ellie picked out some colorful wrapping paper, then we glued the paper onto the container together.  Henry had some trouble coming up with an idea for his gift to Ellie, until she reminded him that she likes pirates... and Scooby-Doo.  Then he got to work.  He asked me to sew some felt into a pouch, but he made the rest himself.  He even added a little handle for pulling the "treasure" out of the pouch.  My surprise was two "Busy Bee" awards, made with medallion-shaped graphics cut from honey-flavored yogurt packaging (noticed while I was carrying it to the recycling pile), some colored construction paper, and safety pins.

The party itself didn't last long.  It began with a short awards ceremony.  Then there was a bit of dancing, some puzzle construction, and several games of tic-tac-toe.  Finally, we exchanged our gifts.  Henry and Ellie both LOVED the presents they received from each other.  The best gift for me was the joy on their lovely faces, watching the two of them working together, and, of course, seeing all the creative juices flowing!

The kids proudly wearing their badges.  And Henry's marker holder.

Ellie's pirate Scooby-Doo treasure and pouch.

Art for me, by the kids.

Finally, I have to share one last thing.  Henry asked me to help him make marble runs with our favorite wooden blocks this weekend.  This photo makes me smile.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Here goes...

I've been standing at the water's edge for something like 23 months... I've been thinking about how exactly to jump in.  A graceful swan dive?  A dramatic cannonball?  A calculated flip in mid-air, followed by a smooth cut through the surface of the water?  I now realize I just have to dive in.  It is less important how I do it than that I do it at all.  So, here goes.  With arms flailing and legs kicking, I'm leaping into the blogosphere!  It's time to stop thinking and get doing.

In case you're wondering, no, that's not me in the photo.  It's my much braver seven year old son.  I think he only stood there for about 30 seconds before jumping in.