Friday, September 18, 2009

Halloween decor...too soon?

I have a love of all things Halloween. It's my absolute favorite holiday and it's smack dab in the middle of my favorite season - fall. So imagine the utter glee and happiness that came over me when Martha (Stewart, of course) began talking about Halloween decorations and costumes. Sweet bliss. Some of the favors I'm kind of "eh" about, but some I love and one especially is my favorite - felt pumpkin people. So adorable and easy!

I did make some adjustments to this project, instead of using felt for the body I used fleece. The felt available to me when I went shopping was lacking in color selection. I know that she said to dye it, but really? I'm not going to do that. So I bought some orange fleece in a color that I love (bonus, the bolt was near the end so I got extra at 50% the sale price) and began measuring away. I didn't have a circle template that got up to 4", let alone 5 1/2" so instead I stuck a pin in the fabric and used a ruler to mark out 2" or 2 3/4" from the center and then connected the dots to make my circles. Success!

I digressed again from the instructions and filled my body and head with general polyfill. Excelsior? I guess I'm not up-to-date on my craft terminology, but I've discovered that it's essentially wood wool. If I didn't already have polyfill I might go ahead and buy the excelsior, but I liked the polyfill so maybe not. I know that when I make this again I will put some beans or rice or lentils in the bottom to make my pumpkin man sturdier. Also, I didn't want to buy some stiff hard wire so I just sewed the head onto the body.

I finished the project as Martha instructed and overall I'm pleased with it. Oh, except I didn't have pinking shears so I just went with a straight mouth. I don't think mine looks as happy as Martha's. I gave him a darling scarf to perk him up (plus it hides any misc. stiches from assembly).

So here he is - Publius Puck Pumpkin:

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bachelorette Party favors

This has been a long time coming. The wedding happened a couple weekends ago and it was amazing. Two really great friends of mine got married and the day was absolutely beautiful. However, before all that greatness could occur, I had to throw the bride a bachelorette party. I've already discussed the decorations with you (beaded garland and tissue paper pom-poms) so here are the favors that I made with Julie's help and the help of a couple of our coworkers.

(Not exactly risque, but still awesome.)

These are all felt magnets that I made. Many people have made cupcakes and cupcake magnets before with this design. In fact, a quick search on etsy provides me with blackcatmima and shopmamapapaya and flashyfish. I'm not trying to promote them, although why not - love thy fellow crafters, but I'm just trying to get it out of the way that those cupcakes aren't some design that I maliciously stole. If you've made ones just like it, awesome, and if you haven't, you should because they're cute and fun.

For the 1 cupcake:
Cut out 2 bases in brown, yellow, or white felt at your desired size in the shape of like a squared off bowl
Cut out 2 cupcake tops in a color of your choice at a size that is wider than the base. Scallop the bottom portion.
*It is important that the bases match each other and even more important that the tops match because when it's time to sew them together, it becomes a hassle. I suggest you make a template and use it.
Sew beads onto 1 top piece for sprinkles and 1 red button as a cherry (although, I have never had a cherry on a cupcake).
Sew the beaded top onto one of the bases.
Sew the other top onto the other base, make sure that they mirror what you have just sewn so they match up.
Sew the two pieces together, leaving room to fill with polyfill and to insert a magnet.

The cake piece was a lot harder and I really can't say that I have mastered a perfect way to sew this. That wasn't the best cake piece magnet, but the bride took the best one and I didn't photograph it beforehand. This one takes patience and maybe you can tell me a better way to go about sewing this.

For the cake piece:
Cut out 2 rectangles at your desired size to make the prominent side and magnet side of the piece. Sew one end together and leave the other 3 sides alone.
Cut out another rectangle that's the same height as the other two pieces, but thinner to make the end of the cake piece (where all the frosting would be in real life). Sew together with the other piece so that you have a triangle.
Cut out a triangle base to cover the bottom of the triangle and sew it on.
Measure the triangle for the top part of frosting and make it large enough that you can scallop the edges and have it overhang the sides.
Sew beads onto the top piece
Sew along the scallops around the top of the cake piece - leaving enough room to fill and insert a magnet, or 2.
*It's the top part that causes me trouble. Maybe I could sew the top triangle and scallops on separately. Hmm...*
Also, if you want you can add a strip of colored felt for the fruit/filling layer or bead the cake piece so that it looks like a funfetti cake. So many options!

Happy handsewing!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Meghan and I went to the Renegade Craft fair this weekend with some of our girlfriends. It was so much fun; we encountered so many creative and talented people. I left feeling inspired, itching to start my next project. The crafts ranged from homemade soaps and baby clothes to hand carved art pieces. If you were looking for it, it was there. Even if you weren’t looking for it, you found it! Unfortunately both of us forgot our cameras so I don’t have pictures to share, but I did pick up the cards of some of my favorite crafters, so check out their websites and see what you think……

Also see if you are lucky enough to have the renegade craft fair visit you….

{this is Meghan now}
I loved that entire craft fair, Julie is absolutely right when she said there were a lot of baby clothes, because they were everywhere. I'm not one to be baby-crazy, but I was wishing for a pregnant friend as I wandered around. Our goal is that next year we will have our own booth there. I was trying to be good about not buying a lot of things, but I did break down and buy a pendant from The Weekend Store (link above).
It's a key from an old typewriter. I've been a big fan of these since I first saw then about a year ago, but I've never bought one until just this past weekend. I happily chose the shift lock pendant and $18 later I am now wearing it. There's something wonderful about immediate gratification. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Just a quick little question...

Julie and I have picked up some previously used burlap bags from a local coffee shop. The problem is that these bags smell, and I mean they really smell. I've read online to air them outside, but that's not going to work out since we both live in apartments without balconies. Boo. Another thing I've read is to sprinkle the bag with baking soda, or soak them in vinegar and rinse off with water.

Has anyone had success with this?

Oh well, hopefully we figure something out for it because I'm all up for burlap pillows and whatnot, but not when it makes my apartment smell like a farm yard. Pass.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

One object, endless possibilities…..

Object: Starbucks store bought Frappuccino bottle

Like many of you out there I am addicted to Caffeine. At this point I am pretty sure that I can’t function without it. One of my favorite treats is the Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino that you can purchase at the grocery store. This particular drink comes in a nice thick glass bottles with a tin lid. I love the fact that they bare a slight resemblance to vintage milk bottles. (Country charm) Recently I have collected some of the bottles and decided to recycle/reinvent them. It is always fun to think outside the box……

First, I removed the labels and underlying residue (hot soapy water works well). Using a little bit of rubbing alcohol I removed the use by date. And of course I washed out any leftover coffee.

Then came the creative thinking….

A couple of the ideas didn’t require any modification to the bottles at all. Just remove the lid and they make a wonderful vase for wildflowers. The bottles are also a great storage solution for office/ art supplies.

They make fantastic gift containers for bath salts or candy. Add your own fun homemade label for a personal touch. You can even tie on a spoon on the side.
I also explored using etching paint to create designs on the bottles. I bought a very reasonably priced frosting kit at my local craft store, using painters tape I created a stencil for my pattern and I was off….. The results: fun and whimsical bottles. I should mention that I had trouble getting crisp lines around the edges and 2 coats of the frosting pain wasn't quite enough. Live and learn....

Other ideas to try…. Candle holder, sugar storage (etching the word sugar on the front would be super cute), lighting bug holder (with holes in the lid of course), display a sea shell collection with a layer of sand on the bottom of the jar. Use them to serve fun summer drinks in. Mix and match different heights for small collections on a table or window sill. If you are lucky enough to have a vintage milk crate, you could line the bottles up and add flowers to some, creating a fun country centerpiece. The possibilities are endless!!!

And don’t forget the lid…. Although it isn’t bad as is, you can always cover it in fabric, paint it, or just add a sticker to the top for a little added detail.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Heirloom crafts

My Great-grandmother mastered the art of crocheting, unfortunately the past time stopped with her. Neither my mom nor my grandma learned from her*. Recently I have decided this is something I want to take up, but my great-grandmother has long since passed so I am on my own to learn how to crochet. I have bought a crochet hook, yarn and I have downloaded a very helpful and free! how-to manual online.

I have made a few practice attempts which are still not quite right. Although I think I have got the general stitching techniques down, I can’t seem to crochet a straight piece of fabric. Oops… Even my little practice squares seem to curve upwards. I am pretty sure this is due to not counting the number of stitches I made on the previous row and subsequently crocheting gradually shorter and shorter rows. But that is just my guess. So I venture on and will continue to practice until I figure it out. I find the challenge fun. I will keep you posted on my crocheting adventures….. In the mean time have a little chuckle at my blunders.

I think my husband said it best when he asked why I made such a small oven mitt and a one sided booty.

*Disclaimer: my mom did learn how to do one row of crochet but never learned how to turn the stitch and to create multiple rows, therefore she is no help to me.