Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Nice Hot Cuppa

The other day, I came across a tutorial at Gingham Cherry for a teacup pincushion. (If you've never heard of Gingham Cherry, go NOW. She's got the sweetest tutorials and she's just so talented!) I had seen tutorials for this project before, but had always passed them by. Until now!

I made a (rather successful) thrifting run this week. (More on that later!) On a shelf, surrounded by dishes from various decades, was one lonely little teacup. The thin gilt strip around the rim was coming off in places, there are stains inside that tell of years of tea and time spent in a cozy tea hutch, but the beautiful painted scene on the front drew me in. (The price wasn't bad either - $1.00, plus 50% off!) The picture makes me think of pirates...and a story I read, but I can't think of what it is right now. Riddlemaster, perhaps?

This morning, I gathered my materials and got to work. I knew just who needed this treat, but it's a present so I'm not saying a word. I mean, Riddlemaster is one of her favorite books!

I sat down with my teacup, a bit of stuffing, a circle of cotton, some tacky glue and some embroidery floss. I love the idea of personalized gifts, so I started by embroidering the recipient's etsy shop name on the cotton. (She sells the sweetest custom jewelry and jeweled pins for boutonnieres, etc.) Once that was finished, it was pretty simple to run a gathering stitch around the edge, fill my pouch with stuffing, cinch it shut and glue it inside the cup.

(I'd really love to tell you who it's for, but like I said - it's a surprise! Do you think they'll like it?)

A Baby Gift and Some Mending

Here's what came out of the workshop at the end of last week: a reverse applique to mend a pair of stretch pants, and a baby blanket set for a baby shower at the husband's office.

The pants were in a bag of mending I tackled for a friend. Her daughter had taken a pair of shears to her pants, and cut a 3 inch slit across the thigh. I had recently seen a tutorial to repair a holey shirt with a reverse applique and thought it would look cute on these pants. I think it turned out great!!
(* The little girl loved her pants. As it turns out, she's a HUGE fan of Fancy Nancy and, as such, loves anything froofy, frilly or extra on her apparel. Score!)

Here's the baby blanket set. From two yards of coordinating fabric, I got one baby blanket and two burp cloths. The recipient is Indian and, as I understand it, it is considered bad luck in their culture to find out the gender of the baby before they make their Grand Entrance. So...giraffes are good for boys and girls, right? I love the pale, creamy orange giraffes against the bright, striped reverse side.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Make a Stamp on the Cheap

This was a quick project I tackled Sunday night after the kids went to bed. Sometimes the creative urge just strikes, ya know?

I saw this on Dollar Store Crafts, and I knew I had to try it. I've been wanting some way to easily label my handmade cards. (I like to send out a little thank you note with any of my etsy orders, and try to do it on homemade cards whenever possible!)

I got two pink erasers for $.99, pulled a nasty old pencil from our pencil jar in the kitchen, and went to town! In about 45 minutes, I had a cheap, easy way to mark any paper goods I might have laying about the house.

Quick and dirty directions:
You need:
1 eraser
1 pencil
1 pen
A stamp pad, or a bit of tempura paint

Pull the small eraser out of the end of your pencil, and then crimp one side of the metal casing into a "V". That will give you your carving tool - the large half to carve out large chunks, and the "V" to do detailed work. It's not perfect, but we're doing this on the cheap here!

Use your pencil to draw your design onto a piece of paper. (I traced the outline of my eraser onto the paper first, to make sure the design would fit right.) Make sure you use a good ol' Number 2 pencil for this.

Lay your large eraser over the design and press your eraser down. When you pick your eraser up, the design should be lightly transferred onto your eraser. (If you get the design on crooked, no worries - just rub the eraser until the design disappears, and try again!) (I went over the design with a pen at this point, just so I wouldn't lose it.)

Using the modified end of your pencil, start carving! Make sure you carve deep enough - you've got a good 1/4" of eraser to play with, so it's unlikely you'll go too deep!

Try it out! I used a dab of tempura paint on a paper towel to ink up my stamp, but a traditional ink pad would work just as well, and most likely better!

This small steno pad was my first victim. (Thanks, Myrnie, for suggesting I use tempura paints! Saved me from trying to go find a stamp pad. :-))

It's not perfect, but it was fun...I mean, you can tell what it says...right??

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Pretty Frock

I really don't know what else to call it! BBJ is in a Princess Phase right now. She wants to wear dresses every day, and her new favorite is her Easter dress. That's fine, except that the dress has a thin sort of gauzy outer layer and I'm terrified she'll rip it or stain it. So...what's a Mama to do?

Make a new frock! I used one of my husband's older dress shirts. (He's got a closet full, and I told him he had to empty a few out into my craft room if he wanted to buy any more!) I love the idea of making a frock from a dress shirt, because the buttons in the back are already done! I didn't hem up the bottom, but I think I should - she steps on the dress when she's going up stairs.

If you would like a tutorial or more detailed instructions please let me know - I didn't take pictures today because I was in a hurry. I'm planning on making a few more of these, now that I know what I'm doing, and I'd love to share how to do this!

Basically, I cut the bottom half of the shirt off to make the skirt, and then cut bodice pieces out of the remaining fabric, and cut out lining pieces from a thrifted bedskirt. The whole project took about an hour and a half (because I was making it up as I went along) and was very nearly free. (Shirt - on hand, 1/4 yard of a thrifted sheet that cost me $3.)

Do you remember the first time I tried to make a frock from an old button-down shirt?

(Perhaps I've never shared that picture. *sigh* I sent it to BBJ's cousin. She's almost two years older...and the frock was STILL too big for her!)
Looking at this dress makes me so, so happy. What's the last project you did that you just LOVED??

PS - BBJ loved it, too. ;-)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

An Apron For a Boy

When I asked for y'all's help the other day in designing an apron for a boy, I never expected such an overwhelming response! Not that I didn't think you guys would pull through...but I've never seen so many comments on a blog post confirming that I was WRONG. hehe

Oh well - I heeded everybody's advice, and took out the anemic, lopsided, girly little embroidered "M" on the bib of the apron, and replaced it with another reverse applique, using the skull fabric from the body of the apron. (Thanks, Simone!) It wasn't too hard to do- I took out some of the stitching from the top of the apron, slipped a square of fabric inside, traced an "M" onto the white cloth, sewed around it twice (through all three layers of fabric - can't be helped at this point!) and then cut out the white fabric inside the outline. Voila!

What do you guys think of this?

Much more manly, yes?

(I still need to come up with a better way to photograph these aprons! I know they'd look best on some sort of a dress form, but it's hard to justify a $100 purchase just to make my aprons look good in photographs!)

All packed up and ready to go...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Aunt LoLo Needs YOU!

Ok, Peeps - here's my problem. I made an apron last night for a little 5 year old boy. After talking it over with his Mom, she decided that Skulls was hip and cool and would appeal to her Kindergartner.

After doing my first reverse applique project yesterday, to mend a pair of knit pants, I was pretty enamored with the whole idea of it. I decided to incorporate it into the apron. I embroidered the boy's first initial onto a piece of white cloth, cut a pane in the front of the apron, and double stitched around the pane to 1) ensure the applique wasn't going anywhere 2) give the fraying a place to stop.

I figured skulls were pretty informal, so I didn't want a neat and tidy little applique. I went with a sort of Steampunk/Rocker vibe.

Here's my dilemma: My husband hates the patch. I'm going to blame it on a lack of sleep, but he gave me a 5 minute monologue, complete with diagrams and wild gesticulations, explaining how the font of the "M" is too formal for the skulls, the frayed edges of the applique not frayed enough and the overall vibe too "sloppy" without looking intentionally so.

Since he's NEVER had such a strong opinion on anything I've made before, I decided to bring the problem before you - my loyal readers. My husband suggests taking out the embroidered "M" and replacing it with an appliqued "M" that is blockier, perhaps in a bright red. (He also took offense with the blackness of the "M" - too much black going on.)

What do you think, guys? Do you like the apron as is? Would you change it to a blockier M? Changing it really isn't tough, so it's not a big deal. Please be honest! I've never made an apron for a little boy that actually went to a little boy. (The other one is still in the shop - anyone need an apron covered in baseballs??)
(Oh, and please don't just dog on my sweet husband in the comments - we were both tired last night, and I didn't take offense at what he was saying. In general, he has much better taste in clothing and accessorizing than I do - that's why his comment made me stop and think!)

The apron:

A close-up of the "M":

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Finished Products

It has been too long, y'all...too long, since I showed you what I've been working on! With my husband home for two weeks, and a vacation thrown in for good measure, I just haven't been updating you guys on my crafty activities. Rest assured, though - there have been crafty activities!

(I apologize that none of these pictures are great. They were either snapped by the husband on a point and shoot, or hastily shot with the larger DLSR while trying to avoid the two year old trying to get in the shot!)

First off, remember these aprons? This was a custom order for a friend - a matching Mommy apron and two toddler aprons. I think they turned out pretty cute!

This one was a custom order for a friend's daughter. The girl turned 7 a few weeks ago, and her mother took her to the fabric shop to pick out her own fabric. I think we were all surprised that the girly-girl picked out brown and yellow, but I think the apron turned out sweet, anyhow! (I over-estimated the size of a 7 year old's waist, compared to my toddler's waist. That bow around the middle goes around her waist three times!! Better too big than too small, right?)

(I'm looking for creative ways to shoot my aprons without having my daughter model them. There are some aprons that are just too big for her. What do you guys suggest?? This hanging on the door thing isn't doing it for me....)

This apron was for a sweet lady who won it on 5 Minutes For Mom's Ultimate Blog Party. I love orders like this - it just had to fit a 9 year old girl. I used a vintage sheet I found while thrifting the other day, and I think it turned out really sweet!!

Finally, just call me The Dolly Doctor. I've taken on a little mending for a friend. This is the first project I can cross off my list from the pile. The doll was handmade by her Grandma and my friend never played with it, but her own daughter loves it. In the process of all that love, one of the legs had come off of the body, and the hair had been completely removed. (Do you know how difficult it is to figure out how a head of yarn hair goes back on?! The front and the back look remarkably similar.)

As a side note - don't you just love those eyebrows?! She looks like she's got secrets...but she's not telling.

On the plate for this week: a set of burp cloths and a baby blanket for one of my husband's co-workers, more mending (simple stuff, but I'm going to try a reverse applique to fix a hole in a pair of knit stretch pants - any suggestions??) and an apron for a little boy. I'll keep you posted!

(Oh, and a quick welcome to my new followers this week. I hope you guys enjoy your time here!)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Go Make A Skirt!

OK, this isn't my tutorial, but I had to save it in a safe place. A fierce skirt, with an elastic waistband? I'm in!

Find the tutorial for the Punky Petticoat here. at Urban Threads. (If you love fresh embroidery patterns, by the way, check out their shop. Where else can you find zombies that dream of cupcakes and bunnies that eat crafts for lunch??!)