Monday, August 31, 2009

warm and cozy purse

In anticipation of fall fast approaching (sooner than expected in the Chicago land area) I started sorting through all of my sweaters. There is this one particular cardigan that unfortunately I have become a little to plump to wear anymore, yet I can’t bring myself to get rid of it. (What can I say I’m a sucker for toggle buttons) Just recently I decided it was time to do something about it…. instead of giving it away I choose to rethink it. Inspired by an article I read in Country Living Magazine. I decided to make it into a purse. This way I don’t have to completely give it up.

The execution was pretty easy. I just cut off the arms and sewed the body like you would a pillow, obviously leaving one side open. If you make the bottom of the sweater the top of the purse, you don’t even need to hem it! I added a wide pink ribbon under the buttons, for a little added detail. I lined the purse with some micro-suede left over from another project for added structure. The sleeves became the straps. All and all the process was pretty cheap and easy. I did screw one thing up though. I ended up putting the straps on last which was a mistake; it would have made more sense to put the straps on before I lined the purse so the connections was between the liner and the outside. But this is an easy mistake to go back and fix, so I am not too disappointed. It made for a great afternoon project.

More ideas…..It would also have made a great pillow or wonderful addition to an activity blanket for toddlers learning how to zipper, button, snap, and tie. (Just think of the many fun little images that could be hiding under the buttons for your toddler to discover) I am for sure all of you could think of tons of ideas as well. So don’t throw away those sweaters, start crafting!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cake, cake, and more cake.......

You can always find a reason to make a cake. A meaningful cake always adds a special touch to a birthday, party, or just a plain old ordinary day. And when it comes to cake decorating, the possibilities are endless….
Recently for my friends 30th birthday she went all out and had a big bash on a yacht. So of course a cake was in order. I wanted to make her a bold, fun, and sassy cake (just like her). I went with polka-dots, feathers, and of course sparkle! To keep with the party theme I choose to decorate in shades of blue just like water. Plus she just isn’t a pink kind of girl.

For the 30 cake topper, I strung seed beads on wire and shaped appropriately. You can find directions from Martha here. The feathers were from a boa and I used real ribbon to trim the base of the cake.

If time is of the essence or you just can’t bake, consider buying a pre-made (always perfectly frosted) cake from the grocery store and add your special touches in the decorations. For instance for my friend Terra’s birthday I bought a devils food cake with Butter cream frosting from the store and topped it with bold sunflowers, blueberries, and strawberries to create a country summer look. The sunflowers and fruit represented her organic and natural side and the yellow reflected her bright personality.

So for your next cake adventure, explore. Think about the person and what they mean to you and try to incorporate that into the cake. And don’t be afraid to use non-edible items to decorate. Have Fun!

Additional ideas and images.....

Here a few snap shots of fun cupcakes I have made in the past. If you are looking for cute ideas I highly recommend the book Hello, Cupcake! By Karen Tack & Alan Richardson.
(Sorry about the picture quality the images are from my archaic cell phone)
Here are a few samples of cakes that my sister Jenny has made.  She always has fun whimsical ideas....

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bachelorette party decorations

My friend is getting married next week so she asked me to throw her a bachelorette party I was thrilled to put it together for her.
For the decorations I made the oft-mentioned tissue paper pom-poms from Martha Stewart in varying colors (white, pink, orange, green, and blue), you can find how to make these here. I hung these above the kitchen table along with garland made from yarn pom-poms and beads.

I used picture hooks to keep the garland suspended.

To make yarn pom-poms wrap yarn around your pointer and middle finger 75-100 times. Cut a separate piece of yarn, about 6" long, and wrap it around the yarn - going through your fingers. Cinch the yarn and cut the ends. For a larger pom-pom wrap it around 3 fingers 100-125 times.
I strung the pom-poms and beads using jewelry thread and a needle - next time I will use a clear thread. To keep the beads in place you have to go through the bead twice otherwise they slip all over the place. Be careful because they can become tangled quite easily.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A glimpse into my apartment

My camera broke a while ago so I've been more or less pictureless for the past year or so. If it wasn't for photo-taking friends there would be no documentation of my senior year in college. Sad face.
Over time I've become accustomed to not having a camera, but just last weekend my boyfriend (Frank) forgot his camera here. Shame for him, but yay! for me. So I decided to take a couple pictures of my apartment's living room. It was the only room that was truly clean so that's why it's all you see - although there is a glimpse into the kitchen.

I live with my friend, Joey, and together we painted the kitchen a deep midnight blue with white trimming (it's an old apartment with all the amazing vintage details). Then a couple of months ago while he was away visiting his family I painted the living room and yellow/orange color called...I think...Mango Tango. I was regretting it after I initially painted it, but once it dried it darkened up and now I love it.

All of the wood furniture in the living room was handmade by Joey. His parents own a bunch of farms with an excess of old barn wood, so before we moved into the apartment he just decided he's make us some furniture and now we have some really amazing pieces.
Joey and I also like to dumpster dive in the alleys nearby and here is one of our favorite finds (left). 3 perfectly good windows that were left for garbage pick up! Now we have them hung above the couch (pillows from etsy shop Ellen's Designs).

So that's just a mini-tour within a remarkably long post.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Craft Social

Julie and I went to the Craft Social in Evanston this past Friday and it was amazing in all ways. The food was delicious - I ate something that was part smore and part brownie, which means it was like heaven in my mouth. I was super excited about the felt & button flowers and Julie was hoping to make something amazing at the Ink Blot t-shirt table. Turns out the ink blot project was a no-go for this social so while we waited for the felt & button flower leader to navigate through traffic we made some pretty adorable collage owls. Behold!:
After the owl making we returned to the felt & button flower table and it had already started, oops! So once we figured out what we were supposed to be doing we set out to make our flowers. The options provided were to make a felt flower and attach it to a floral stem or to make it into a pin. I was all geared up to making it into a pin, but then decided to save it and make it into a headband (although our leader, Emily, told me that it is perhaps going out of style - say it isn't so!). I haven't attached mine just yet, but I'm looking forward to wearing it. Here's my flower that I lovingly stitched together:

I'm a fan of the double button center.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

And then there was cinnamon...

Project: Handmade Soap
Reference: Martha Stewart’s Craft encyclopedia
Difficulty factor: 6
Cost: approximately $60 (with plenty of supplies left over - the majority of this is initial cost)

We are pretty excited about our first attempt at soap making. All in all it was pretty successful. Being novices at the craft we chose to use Martha Stewart’s directions on soap making. Our intent was to follow the book verbatim to achieve the beautiful soaps pictured in the book. Unfortunately, when we dove in we discovered the directions were not very precise on the portions of ingredients. So Martha, if you are reading these our suggestions would be to add more specific quantities to your recipe. (Yeah right, we wish Martha was reading this!!!)

So the experimenting began. Our favorite formula became 3 white glycerin blocks and 2 clear with a touch of natural honey to achieve a warm oatmeal like color. From there we added blueberry seeds, apricot seeds, and oatmeal to add textures to the different soaps. We also added essential oils, such as honey-almond and lavender.

And then there was cinnamon….. The book displayed a beautiful translucent crimson red cinnamon scented soap. We both fell in love with this look and decided to duplicate it. At first everything was going wonderfully but then we added the cinnamon and the mixture became a sewage brown color, nowhere near red! It did smell wonderful, though. So we forged on and decided to try it again but this time we added a small amount of red and yellow food coloring. This resulted in a pink flesh toned color or as Meghan so genuinely refers to it as, “the color of puke”. Both end products smelled great but neither looked very appealing. We are going to keep working on this one…. We will keep you posted.

Overall the process was pretty simple, it involved microwaving the ingredients stirring in the additives and pouring into greased molds. Once the soaps hardened (overnight) we embellished them with different styles of wrapping. These will make great gifts! And between the styles of molds, additives and presentation the possibilities are endless. This is definitely something we will continue to explore!!! So give it a try and let us know how it goes!

Julie and Meghan

Handsewn Business Card

Julie and I are going to the Craft Social in Evanston this Friday so I decided (rather last minute) to make handsewn business cards. I came up with this idea on Tuesday and printed out the labels last night so it's been a mad dash to finish them. I'm only making 15 since I'm not the quickest with handsewing. My goal is to finish them by tonight so I don't have to do it during lunch tomorrow. (Dream big!)
Here's how to do it:
Printable Linen Fabric
Decorative Fabric
Needle & Thread
Cut the fabric backing/border into the size of a business card - 2" x 3 1/2". You'll need 2 per business card.
Make the labels sized at 1 1/2" x 2 1/2" to give them a 1/4" border. Print them on printable linen fabric and let the ink dry. Cut out the labels and set aside. You should get 15 labels per 8 1/2" x 11" sheet.
Pin the linen labels onto the center of one of the fabric pieces and handsew around the edges.
After making a few of them I got lazy and stopped pinning them, which resulted in a couple of labels being sewn on a little crooked and thus decreasing the border width when I trimmed them. Oops.
Sew the the piece you just made onto another piece of the fabric, printed side out. Trim the edges and you're done!
Easy peasy.

edit: If I make these again I think I would make the font size for the website larger or a different style so that it's a little more clear.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hi. I am Julie,

Ever since I can remember I have been trying to make something out of nothing.....

I love refurbishing furniture and finding new uses for things I already own. I dabble in cake decorating; love party planning, decorating my apartment, and helping friends decorate their homes. As far as crafting goes I love exploring my creative limits by indulging in all different medias. In my mind everything is worth a try at least once.

Style wise I tend to be drawn to modern country. Think barn yard accents with clean lines. And if it is not modern country, I prefer a softer feminine vintage/ shabby chic style.

This becomes a little interesting when you consider the man I married likes clean simple, modern minimalism. Secretly, I must say I enjoy the challenge this brings (just don’t tell my husband though).

Thanks for checking in. Come back soon and read about our exploration in homemade bath products…

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Hello all, I'm writing the first post from my tiny apartment bedroom on what feels like the hottest day ever. Julie and I decided to start a crafting and design website together when we realized our mutual love of all things homemade, vintage, repurposed, and Martha Stewart-related.

I am a full-time landscape designer - working on mostly residential gardens, but occasionally assisting in other landscape realms. When I'm not designing or researching city codes I am usually crafting (mostly hand-sewing) or reading blogs about crafting and design. I'm an avid dumpster diver and some of my favorite things have come out of the back alleys near my apartment.

I'm not sure if I have one specific style since my tastes range from the wildly colorful to more muted pallets. I like shabby chic and modern minimalism. I'm working on balancing all these things together, but in the mean time I'm enjoying the hodge podge of my living conditions (except for the mouse in my kitchen, which is bothersome).

Come back soon and meet Julie and read about our craft adventures!