Monday, March 26, 2012

My Favorite Project in a Long Time

My new kitschy centerpiece.
I cannot tell you how long I have had the idea to turn these doll heads into flowers for use in this cheapo vase.  I've wanted to do it for-EVER.

I thought I would make the flowers out of fabric, but couldn't find a way to do it that I was happy with.  Believe me, I tried several different ways.  I also tried yarn, ribbon and paper.  It wasn't until I saw this post on the Auntie Peaches blog about deconstructing dollar store flowers to make new flowers that knew I had my solution.  Genius, Peaches!
This is my favorite dolly flower.
I found the bag of vintage doll heads at a thrift store about three years ago.  I already had the vase.  It was fate that brought us all together, I'm sure of it.
Vintage wired doll head--a great thrift store find.
This is exactly how I imagined it in my mind's eye.  I'm so pleased!  Who wouldn't be?  It's a kitsch masterpiece perfect for my dining room table!

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Monday, March 19, 2012

My "So You Think You're Crafty" Audition

Last week I let you know that I was auditioning for So You Think You’re Crafty.  This is a fun online competition where one crafter is eliminated each week until one winner is left.  I couldn’t tell you which of the projects was mine last week because the voting is done anonymously, but the voting is over and it can be revealed that my project was The Spring Garden Bracelet:
My Spring Garden Bracelet got me through the audition round of SYTYC.

I’m also happy to report that I made it safely through the audition round and will be ready to compete in the first round of the “real” competition come the second week of April. 

Let me tell you a little bit more about my bracelet.  A lot of people I’ve talked to thought that those flowers were beads that I bought somewhere.  They were actually individually made by me with Shrinky Dinks.  I do love my shrink plastic!
Individually made Shrinky Dink flowers

I used a craft punch to cut out the flower shapes then colored them with permanent markers.  If you try this at home, make sure you punch a hole for the wire before you shrink them! 
This is what I started with.

Above shows the size before shrinking, below shows the size after shrinking.

Once out of the oven, I immediately shaped the flower around the eraser end of a pencil to give it a rounded shape.  I didn’t worry about them being perfectly symmetrical.  I’m just not that fussy.  Besides, I liked that no two flowers were quite the same.  It’s more realistic.

The calla lilies were circles that were curled as soon as they came out of the oven.  You have to do this as soon as you pull the shrinky dinks out of the oven and they will be hot.  Be careful!
A circle pinched to form a calla lily.

I used a leaf punch and a heart punch to make leaves.  Okay, hearts don’t really look like leaves, but you work with what you got.

The rest was just a matter of adding some beads, some headpins, jump rings, a length of chain and a clasp.  ‘tweren’t nothing, really.
My homemade beads.

I hope you’ll follow So You Think You’re Crafty now and once my “season” of the competition gets underway.  I’ll be sure to keep you up to date with what’s going on.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fancy Crochet Edged Hankie - A Tutorial

Do you know how you can pass yourself off as a refined lady?  Carry a hankie with a lacy edging.  Where do you get such a thing in this day and age?  Well, your old friend Sarah is here to help with this tutorial!  All you need is a square of fabric, some crochet cotton and a little know-how.
Crochet edged hankies for the refined crafter.

I recently made my Auntie Carol some white pillowcases with a frilly edge for her birthday.  I had a bit of the 100% cotton fabric left over from that project and I decided it would be perfect for handkerchiefs.  In other words, this is a great scrap buster project.
These will make an inexpensive, yet fancy-pants gift for someone in my life.
The supplies you'll need.

Materials Needed:
·         Large scrap of fabric that can be cut down to 10 x 10 inches
·         Crochet Cotton
·         US 1 Crochet Hook
·         Sharp Chenille Needle with Large Eye

You start by cutting a 10 x 10 inch square of fabric and finishing the edge. Make sure you are cutting on the grain of your fabric or your hankie will stretch all over the place.  Now, depending on how you finish the edge, you may want to cut your square slightly larger.  I serged my edges which means I didn’t lose any of the size of my original piece.  If you don’t have a serger, you may want to finish your edges with a narrow hem in which case, you may want to start with a 10.5 x 10.5 inch square.  Once your edge is finished, you have your plain hankie. 
Serged edge; you could also do a narrow hem.

The next step is to blanket stitch around the edge of your plain hankie.  You will need a sharp chenille needle with a large enough eye for the crochet cotton you are using.  You want to use a doubled length of yarn to make your stitches (the doubled yarn gives it some strength).  I like to cut my yarn long enough that I can blanket stitch all the way around without have to knot off and add more yarn on.  That can be a bit of a pain as it tangles, but it’s my preference. 
Blanket stitch around the edge to create a base for the crochet stitches.
A couple other things about the blanket stitching.  I like to cover the entire hem with the stitch rather than put the stitch through the hem.  This is a personal preference thing.  I think it looks tidier this way.  The second thing is that I use the hem stitches to gauge how far apart I need to put my blanket stitches.  That's why they are so even!  I would count every third stitch and insert my needle.  
Next I crochet the edge.  I made two simple rounds for this edging:

Round 1:  *3 sc in each blanket stitch space,* join to beginning sc with sl st
Round 2:  Ch 4, sc, *sc, ch 3, sc,* join to beginning ch with sl st. End off.
You can see how the first round of crochet stitches is worked onto the base of blanket stitches.

You’ll want to work in the ends of your yarn to hide them and you’re done with the edging.
It's pretty, but it needs something more.

Now, one more added detail.  The cherry on top, as it were.  I decided to add an embroidered motif to my handkerchief because I’m extra refined. Since I had the red and pink edges going, I thought a cherry would be the perfect embroidered accent. I used a running stitching with two strands of floss.  I was extra careful to make sure my work looked good on the back since it would show.
I transferred the motif with a fabric pencil and light box to get a nice, clean, fine line.

Using two strands of floss keeps the embroidery in scale with the rest of the project.
You are now completely prepared to faint onto the nearest sofa, whip out your hankie, daintily dab your brow, and weakly mutter, "Oh dear, I must be having one of my spells!"

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

So You Think You're Crafty - I'm Auditioning!

Have you ever heard of So You Think You’re Crafty?  This is a craft competition blog that pits 10 crafters against one another.  Each week there is a new theme and the crafter with the lowest number of votes gets eliminated.

It’s audition week at SYTYC and, you guessed it, I’m auditioning!  I won’t tell you which project is mine until the voting is closed.  Still, I do hope you’ll hop on over to So You Think You’re Crafty and vote for your favorite project.  Maybe it will be mine!

I’ll let you know which of the projects is mine and the voting outcome next week.  The real competition begins in April. 

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Monday, March 12, 2012

A String Quilt - Another UFO to Be

This last weekend I started another quilt project.  Just what I need!  Another UFO!   Lately, I can't finish a quilt top to save my life, but I'm very good at starting things.

This one is a string quilt.  What's a string quilt, you ask?  It's a scrap quilt made up of all those leftover strips of fabric you end up with over the years.
My bin of "strings" or strips of leftover fabric.
I decided to randomly sew together strips.  Some people sew their strings to a muslin base.  I don't do this; I just sew them together, then starch them really well so they hold their shape.
An example of a bunch of strips sewn together.
Once the strips are sewn together, I used a 6.5 inch square ruler to cut out my blocks.
A 6.5 inch block  I cut on the diagonal.
When you cut on the diagonal like I did, you end up with these big triangles between the blocks.
You end up with big triangles between the blocks.
Don't throw them away!  All you have to do is sew the long edges together and you can usually eke out another block.  Sometimes, you may need to add another short strip between the two long edges.  Waste not want not!
Sew together on the long edge and you can get another block out of it.
I have no final vision for this quilt and can't even say if it will ever get finished.  For now, I'm just going to have fun making the blocks and emptying my box of strings.
One possible layout for my blocks.
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Friday, March 9, 2012

My Wall of Paint by Numbers

Hello!  How are you doing on this fine Friday?

I've done nothing crafty this week so I thought I'd show you something in my house that is a bit unique.  It's my wall of paint by numbers!
The Paint by Number wall in my TV room.
Yes, I "wallpapered" a wall in my TV room with old "PBNs" I found at thrift stores.  It is, by far, the best wall in my house and I have to say, I have some pretty interesting walls.
My favorite PBN--I love the colors and the subject matter.  My friend Tina found it for me at a swap meet.
I was inspired to do this by a restaurant in Minneapolis called the Hot Plate Diner which is decorated with paint by numbers.  I thought that was a brilliant idea and knew I wanted a PBN theme somewhere in my house.
I like the dramatic movement in this one.
Amazingly, the thrift store gods smiled on me for months when I started this, providing me with lots of PBNs.  It's been awhile since I've found anymore, but my wall is filled so I guess I shouldn't complain.
I love the colors in this one.
I'll collect any subject matter, though I'm partial to slightly odd color schemes.  I simply bought what I found which is how I ended up with so many religious themed paintings.  Maybe the cosmos was telling me something?
Ya gotta have a last supper!
I do have to say, the cornerstone of any PBN collection would be a Last Supper.  Mine has an inscription on the back saying it was painted in 1968 by Mrs. B. Johnson and her daughter Lorraine for Pastor someone (I can't remember his name).  Mrs. B Johnson and her daughter Lorraine did a great job, I must say.

A paint by number wall may not be for everyone, but no one ever seems shocked to come across it in my house.  Sometimes, a decorating scheme just fits.

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Since My Embroidery Floss was Out . . .

I wrote a month ago about organizing my embroidery floss.  I still think it looks pretty like a rainbow (geeky).

Since it was all out just staring me in the face, I decided I had better embroider something.  I remembered that I once had this old tablecloth with embroidered dogs on it.  It was on it's last legs, but the dogs on it were so I cute I wanted to preserve the patterns.  I'd show you the tablecloth, but I'm not sure what became of it.  I might be hiding around this house somewhere or it may have finally met its demise.

I had managed, before the tablecloth's untimely disappearance,  to transfer the dogs to tea towels to be embroidered, but had never advanced the project any further.  Well, the time was ripe to get this project done!

I have two towels with a dog at each end of the towel.  Here are all four of the little Scotties:

How cute are they with their hats?  I love the hillbilly dog!

I don't have a plan for these tea towels.  They'll go in the gift drawer and I'm sure someone will be happy to get them.  Do you ever make things just to make them, or do you always have a plan for what you're doing?

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

My new Brother PQ-1500S Sewing Machine

Well here it is!  My brand, spanking, new Brother PQ-1500S sewing machine.  Sweet!  
The new toy.
It arrived about two weeks ago and I've already put it to plenty of use.  You may remember, I bought this as a bit of a splurge, then the a/c in my car died not two hours later.  Believe me, that repair is not going to be cheap.  But the machine was bought and paid for so there was no going back on the deal just because "life happened" if you know what I mean.
It's not bathed in light from the window, that's the holy glow emanating from within it.
This machine is not designed for everyday sewing.  It only has one stitch:  the straight stitch.  It is perfect for quilting.  It pieces with speed and is ideal for free motion quilting.  That is why I wanted it for my quilting frame.
My first project is a small charity quilt quilted with a pantograph design.
The speed on this machine is phenomenal--1500 stitches per minute.  It flies!  Another feature I love is that it has a button that cuts your thread for you when you are done sewing.  With the quilt on the frame, that is really convenient.
Another view.
Below you'll see my first attempt at using a pantograph.  If you're not a quilter, I'll explain that a pantograph is a design drawn out on a long roll of paper that sits on the shelf above the quilt on the frame.  You follow the design with a laser pointer and the machine sews it.  It takes a bit of practice to get the movement nice and smooth, but for my first time, I think I did okay.
Close up of the finished quilting.
The next project on the frame is this quilt.  I think this will be another charity quilt.  I've had this quilt top in the closet for so long I don't even remember when I made it!  This time, I'm going to practice all over stippling.  I do love my new machine!
The next project on the frame.


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