Sunday, September 2, 2012

Christmas Boot Camp 2012

Now that summer is almost over and the kids are heading back to school it's time to do what all sane crafters do...

Start working on Christmas projects!

Okay, maybe not totally sane. But then, I probably wouldn't be so crafty if I were...

My cousin came up with a great idea to come down and visit me for a week and work on getting as much Christmas sewing done as we can. We are calling it our Christmas Boot Camp, and I am loving the idea of having most if not all my holiday crafting wrapped up before Thanksgiving. Another bonus is that due to years of unfinished Christmas projects and a fairly extensive stash, I am going to be miles ahead on the budget! My husband will love that. 

Today I've spent a couple of hours cleaning up the sewing room, making lists and pulling fabrics and half finished projects out of all their hidey-holes. So far I've got 46 projects on my list. I'm kind of excited to see just how many of those can get sewn up in one week if I get all the cutting out and other prep work done ahead of time. 





Utter madness?

Most likely...

But I have a feeling we'll have a great time trying. Get a couple of crafters hopped up on caffeine and fiber fumes and it's a party man!

P.S. That 46 projects doesn't include any knitting... Christmas Boot Camp: the Knitting Edition will come in another month or so.

Monday, August 27, 2012

DIY Jewelry

I got voted out last week. Sigh. C'est la vie... and all that. I can't really complain about it for two reasons. 
1) I'm still pleased as punch that I made it into the top three, third place overall is still quite an accomplishment. 
2) It was a close one again. I lost by less than ten votes. That makes me feel good about my project and that I had a great idea that many people liked. 

I really had a fun time participating in this season of So You Think You're Crafty. It pushed me out of several comfort zones. You might think that the biggest one involved painting... but really it was just putting myself and my projects out there to be judged. That's not easy, but it's nice to get so much positive feedback and to feel more comfortable sharing my ideas. 

The other great thing this contest has done for me has been to take my mind off of all the red tape bureaucratic nonsense that we've been dealing with this summer. We thought we would be moving out, getting the house fixed and moving back in before school started. Well, school starts next week and we not only haven't started packing, we're still trying to get new blueprints drawn up and approved. 
Again... c'est la vie... sigh.

Embroidered Initial Necklace

I saw this idea in a magazine last Christmas and I really liked it, but I couldn't figure out three things.
1) Why would anyone spend $75 on something that they could make for less than $5?
2) How had they mounted the embroidered piece into the frame?
3) How could you protect the embroidery from getting dirty or damaged?
It's an idea that's been floating around the back of my brain for months now, and this seemed like a good time to try it out.

I started out by tracing the size of the bezel finding I was going to cover, and then free handing an initial onto a scrap of linen. I embroidered the piece, cut it to fit and used the Glossy Accents to attach the fabric into the bezel. I covered it with another layer of the Glossy Accents and let it dry overnight, periodically checking for air bubbles and popping them as the medium dried. 

I added beads and a jump ring to create each pendant, then cut a chain to length and added a lobster clap to finish the necklace. 

You could make these as simple or ornate as you wanted to fit the personality of the intended recipient. It's fun and simple way to create a truly one of a kind piece of handmade jewelry.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Week 7: Thrift Store

Evie's Sewing Box

I'm really extra proud of this week's craft. It took me way out of my comfort zone, and it still came out better than I had hoped it would! I got an idea of making a sewing basket for Evie for her birthday, along with embroidery lessons. She's been begging me for months to teach her. I had been browsing the D.I. for months and never found a basket in good enough condition that had the characteristics I was looking for. The week before her birthday I happened to be out by a Savers and took the opportunity to check there. 

Et  voila! The perfect box. It had a handle, wasn't too big, and was in fairly decent shape. And it was $1.99! Sold. 

First step out my comfort zone. Anything to do with paint. I really, really dislike painting. Rooms, furniture, watercolors... there is no type of painting on this earth that I like to do. It takes forever, and there are so many steps that I am sure to mess something up. So... what follows is simply an explanation of what I did, and should not in any way be taken as the right or proper way to paint something.

First thing I did was to lightly sand the entire box. Not enough to expose the wood, but just to rough up the surface and give the new paint something to stick to.

There was a little bit of water damage on one side, so the bottom was starting to pull away, and one corner that had been chipped off. I used wood glue to fill the crack and strengthen the bottom, and then wood filler to smooth out the broken corner and the side. Like I said before, I have no idea if that is the right way to do a repair, but because it was so minor I took a chance and it seems to have worked okay.

A coat of primer. This was mostly to check if I had sanded the filler smooth enough and to make sure the paint would go on evenly.

The next day and a half was spent in spray painting. I could only do one side at a time, so that the paint wouldn't run. I gave the whole piece two or three coats. And once I was happy with the coverage of the ivory I used a clear sealing spray which gave it a nice shiny finish and will hopefully help it hold up to the wear and tear of belonging to a child.

The lids are cut out of a piece of chip board that I had left over from an Ikea purchase. It was perfect, not too thick, but strong and sturdy.

Second major step out of my comfort zone, power tools. I unfortunately don't have any pictures of cutting the lids, because I don't have any power tools. I had to go over to my dad's house to use his, and by the time I'd gathered all my materials and plans I'm lucky I only forgot to take the camera and not one of my children. I honestly don't know who was more nervous about me using the power tools, me or my dad. After I explained what I was trying to accomplish, he took over the cutting out of the lids. I did use the drill for the holes myself though! :) 

The holes are to allow the lid to be tufted.

Using spray adhesive I covered each lid with two layers of batting cut to the same size as the lid, and then a piece of fabric cut larger so that the ends could wrap around the lid.

I tufted the lid by sewing covered buttons in place with heavy duty upholstery thread and pulling them tightly through on the back.

From the front.

I folded the edges, pulling tightly and mitering the corners, tacking them in place with hot glue. 

For the lining I carefully measured each side and then added 1/4" allowance to be turned under.

Using hot glue I tacked the top in place first so it would lay nice and flush with the top edge, then slowly and carefully tacked along the sides and corners of the box with glue and stretched the fabric into place. 

For the bottom I cut a piece of heavy duty interfacing to just fit and then used the spray adhesive to cover it with the fabric and turn under the edges.

Then hot glued it in place in the bottom of the box.

I used the same technique to make the covers for the bottom of the lids.

I hot glued a loop of ribbon for a handle before gluing the bottom cover in place. I took the time to add a little extra glue to each corner and make sure they were securely joined along all the edges.

I found these hinges at Michael's for .99 for a bag of two! I wasn't sure if they would work, but I grabbed a screwdriver and just went for it. I attached them to the outside of the box and the underside of the lid.

When the first side was on and neatly opening and closing I jumped up from my chair and did a little happy dance! I was so thrilled that it worked exactly the way I'd envisioned.

A perfect sized sewing box for my newly turned six year old.

Hinged lids that open and close.
(Seriously, I'm still so thrilled at how cool that is!)

Ready for our stitching lessons.

She was absolutely thrilled with her gift and has already started working on her first project. 

She can often be found sitting next to me in the living room happily sewing. In fact today I thought it was too cute for words, she climbed up on her daddy's lap and said, "I can teach you how to embroider Daddy, I know all about it now."

Friday, August 3, 2012

Week 6: Out and About

So did you guess right? This one was my entry...

Doll Carrier Backpack

My little girl is at a stage where every time we go anywhere she wants to bring her doll and a whole bunch of stuff to go with the doll, clothes, hair brush, a blanket, etc. And we all know what that means... I'm the one that ends up carrying the doll and trying to keep track of all the bits and pieces. I was looking at getting the American Girl backpack for her birthday, but it is almost $50! I thought, "I could make that for a lot less."

I used a fine wale corduroy for the body of the bag, and lined it with the bright pink polka dot cotton for a pop of color. The straps for both the doll and my daughter are piped in a matching pink. I decided to have the bag zip shut so I didn't have to worry about losing the doll accessories, and the shoulder straps to hold the doll in the pocket snap shut so the doll won't fall out either. 

For half the price of buying the American Girl version I made a great backpack and doll clothes to go in it! I think my daughter is going to love it when she gets it for her birthday next week. :)

Evie was thrilled with her presents. She wanted to do a doll fashion show to show-off all the new clothes that were in the backpack!

Pink print shirt and denim blue jumper with ric-rac trim.

Black and white polka dot dress with white piping detail.

Not gonna lie, the whole time I was sewing this one I was thinking, "I want a dress like this!" :)

Shorts and tunic top with matching bow detail.

Bunny pj's.
(And the whole time I was sewing these I was thinking, "I don't go to this much work for my kid's jammies!")

Bathrobe, to which I added belt loops because otherwise I knew the tie would just end up perpetually lost.

I am thrilled with how everything turned out and how well they fit the doll! I'm loving that the Velcro closures on them mean that Evie can dress her doll herself and isn't coming to me every 5 minutes for help putting her in a new outfit. I had so much fun sewing up these doll clothes, but it was a long week of cramming in lots of sewing. I am going to try to be smarter and have a goal to sew one doll outfit a week, that will put me in great shape for Lila's birthday in November and then Christmas. Yup, my girls are going to have the best dressed dolls around!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Week #5: Let's Hear it for the Boys!

So I first have to say that I know these pictures are not good. My original plan was to finish in time to go "on location" and show them in action, actually fishing. But there were two problems with that plan.

1. I couldn't figure out quite how to hide the fact that Brian is in a wheelchair which would have been a pretty big give away.

2. Um... I finished them at 10 pm the day they were due.

It was crazy! I got up at 9 am, went to the bathroom, threw on some clothes and then went downstairs and sewed like a mad woman for the next 13 hours, not even stopping for a bathroom break! (I didn't mean to, I just realized that was what had happened when I finally made a mad dash upstairs... ah, the things we do for our art...) The only thing that made this possible was my sister, Caite. She came down and took care of my kids, made us breakfast and lunch, and became my sous-seamstress! She cut out pieces and pinned stuff and kept me sane. :)

Father and Son Fishing Vests

Jake was rocking the store mannequin pose. "Hey Mom, how about I look off in the distance like I'm contemplating life?"

I really wanted to make something special for my "boys" this week. My husband is an avid fly-fisherman and our son is finally old enough to be a good buddy to go with on fishing trips. (As in, he'll actually sit and fish  instead of trying to jump into the river..) My husband was in need of a new fishing vest as his old one was falling apart, so I designed them matching vests.

The vests are constructed from a light cotton twill and lined with cotton so they will be lightweight and comfortable to wear. The pockets and yokes are made from rip stop nylon for strength and durability. The dad vest has a zipper pocket in the front lined with nylon to hold his phone and wallet, things you definitely don't want to lose or get wet. The patch pockets are mitered at the corners to allow them to expand out for greater capacity, and all the pocket flaps have Velcro closures for easy access. The patches on the top pockets are made of the cuddle fleece that people usually use in blankets, the fuzzy texture makes a great surface to hold flies.

The dad vest also has a large zipper pocket that is almost the size of the entire back. Useful for holding maps, gloves, even an extra shirt once the sun comes up and the temperature rises. The D-rings in the back can be used to clip a net to while fishing, and then to hang the vest from at home. 

My boys were thrilled with how the vests turned out and can't wait to go fishing in them!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Week 4: Ombre

Whoo... that was a close one. I squeaked by in 5th place. But the upshot is that I squeaked by and am moving on to week 5: Boy themed crafts.  I have to admit, I was feeling pretty confident about my crafting this week... until I saw the other entries! This competition is getting fiercer every week...
You really ought to take a look, there are some pretty crafty ideas.


Of course, I'm hoping that you'll vote for mine. :)

Ombre Dyed Silk Cowl

This week's theme has been the most fun! I started out by dying some fabric for a skirt.

What you'll need to dye, minus the clothespins. They did not end up serving any useful purpose...

My first attempt:
Or, what I did wrong...

1. I used too much dye. The whole bottle in fact. I wanted to make sure I got a vibrant color, but I know now that I could have gotten the same color without washing half the bottle down the drain. 

2. I attempted to rig up a system to lower the fabric slowly in sections. (Notice the aforementioned clothes pins?) Yeah... did not work. I think for this to be successful you'd need to be able to have your fabric be spread completely flat so that you would get straight lines. My tub of dye wasn't big enough, and I wasn't about to fill up my whole bathtub with dye. It was also awkward to get the pole out at the end, since I wanted all the fabric to be dyed, and not left white. 

3. I really loved the colors I got at first. What I did not take into account was how much more dye would be washed out when I ran it through a cycle to set the color in my washing machine. I learned to dye it darker than I want the finished product to be. (i.e. I should have left it to set longer in the dye bath.)

Okay, let's be honest. Wearing a skirt made out of this a person would end up looking like a giant candy corn...

The lines between the different shades didn't come out as straight as I wanted, but the color was gorgeous and the dyeing process had me hooked!

I quickly went out and bought a few (ahem, five) more colors and started dying every piece of white clothing I could get my hands on. 

$9 dress from Wal-mart, now I won't look like a giant marshmallow...

A dress, some tee shirts, my daughter's stained cardigan. I even dyed some shirts for my son. Just plain, not ombre. (Because he's a boy and he looked at me like I was crazy when I suggested it.)  I was seriously debating whether or not my husband would wear ombre colored socks, when I stumbled across a bolt of antique silk that I was given by my grandmother years ago. It's almost 65 years old and has yellowed with age, but I thought that I would try to dye some of it and see what I got.

My lines still aren't perfectly straight, but they are getting better. And yes, the color looks really off here because I have fluorescent lights in my laundry room.

It came out so beautifully. I took three yards of the silk and dyed it in three concentrations.

 After I set the color and the fabric dried I cut it in half and then into 8 1/2" strips. I sewed two strips together, matching light to dark on both ends, with a french seam. Then I did as small of a rolled hem as I could on both long edges.

The silk is so light and airy it's a perfect summer accessory, and the pink is a great punch of fresh color.

Ombre dying isn't difficult, but it does take some playing around to find the techniques that work best for you. And be forewarned, once you start dying you may not be able to stop!

I did another piece of silk in a teal color. This time I went for a much subtler gradient of color. I dyed this piece in 5 minute increments, so the darkest part sat in the dye bath for over half an hour while the lightest part only sat for 5 minutes. 

So pretty.