Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Where the heck have I been?

I feel the need to apologize. I haven't exactly been crafty lately. I have had a lot going on and, sadly, crafts haven't been at the top of the list. I have been sewing like a crazy lady and my husband has been home from work working on our neverending list of home improvements. The flurry of activity has been great for us, but none of it is too interesting for the blog.

We also have a photo shoot tomorrow for new items in my Etsy shop. I am so excited about a few of these dresses--well, all of them! Be sure to check them out next week and tell me what you think.

Thanks for your patience and don't give up on me yet!
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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Christmas? Are you kidding me?

I know Christmas seems really far away. I know this seems ridiculous on the surface. I also know it can help to accomplish my goals, though! So, I thought I would re-focus and concentrate this month!

Did you check the Christmas links in the navigation bar? There are a few (awesome ones, of course!), but I'd love to see more. Please add your link so we can get stuff done before the middle of December--or later! Remember, it can be anything that is a good gift idea; it doesn't have to be a Christmas "thing" or idea. I see so many out there--let's put them in one place!

This month, I am planning to make a list of friend and neighbor gifts. You don't need every idea you like, just the ones you want to consider for use this year. I have seen some great ideas. Actually, some of the ideas I have seen for teacher appreciation ideas would adapt well for neighbor gifts. So, add a column to your Christmas gift list and start listing ideas for neighbor gifts.

One of the ideas at the top of my list is to make a glass plate which has "Cookies for Santa" etched into it. I have seen this idea or similar ones floating around the blogosphere for a while, but I don't have one original source. I am a little undecided since I did a Cookies for Santa Kit last year. I don't think I can go wrong with cookies, though--in any form.

I am also planning to complete one gift. Just one. It will put me well on my way, though. I can do that! Hmmm...I am thinking I should complete the one gift that I can use for more than one person--that would really get me ahead! And, don't you think the "Cookies for Santa" plate would work perfectly here, too?

Here are your goals this month:
Write down/Compile ideas for neighbor/friend gifts.
Complete one gift for someone on your list.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Is "Guck" a Bad Word?

I've been sewing a lot lately.
I had just finished an Etsy order and was ironing it before I folded it neatly to mail it to the customer. As I ironed, some "guck" from my iron (which, I am ashamed to admit, has been on there for some time--and, BTW, never caused a problem) melted onto the most perfect little gathers along a ruffle on a dress.

I am pretty sure I said something ugly. It's all a blur. 
I made a whole new dress for the customer.
Are you feeling sad for me or do you think I am a complete fool?

Well, either way, I got smart before I made that second dress. I googled "how to clean an iron" and then got right to work." You can see what I tried:

In the end, the Magic Eraser and a whole lot of elbow grease worked out just fine. I had to scrub and scrub and scrub, though.

Note to self in the future: Do not use the same iron for Heat N Bond applique as you do for regular ironing.
 And, *ahem* when you do, clean it at the first sign of guck!

Now is probably a good time to add another reminder...change your sewing needle regularly! Sometimes I forget and when I do, I sure can tell the difference once I remember to change it. If you can tell a difference, you waited too long!

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Birthday Party Bracelets

We had a small birthday party last week. The emphasis was on small. Each of my girls was allowed to invite 3, and only 3, friends! You have to understand, I am not a fan of birthday parties at all. This was a big thing for me to give in to this. Once I said yes, though, we needed some fun things to do at the party.

These bracelets and their variants have been floating around for a long time. I used FamilyFun as my source this time. Theirs were water bracelets but I stuck with something even easier!

1/4 inch outside diameter vinyl tubing (Lowe's)
3/8 inch outside diameter vinyl tubing (Lowe's)
hot glue gun
tiny beads or other decorations to fill bracelet (JoAnn's)

Step 1: Cut your 1/4 inch vinyl tubing to the appropriate length to wrap around the wrist plus a little more.

Step 2: Squirt a small amount of hot glue into the end to plug it and seal it off so nothing will fall out.

Step 3: Fill bracelet with tiny beads or other decorations. These will have to be pretty tiny since the opening is less than 1/4 inch. We found it easiest to mix our bead colors in a sandwich bag and then scoop them into the tubing while it was in the bag.

Step 4: Squirt hot glue into the other end to seal off the tube and prevent decorations from coming out. I used low melt because the first thing that happens is the air pushes the center of the glue right back out again. I waited a couple of seconds for it to cool and then just wiped it off and squirted some more glue right down the center. It worked like a charm. I think hot melt glue would have burned my fingers.

Step 5: Cut the 3/8 inch vinyl tubing into inch long pieces. Insert the ends of the bracelet length into the 3/8 inch tube so it acts like a connector piece.

And, it is done! This was really fun for 8 and 9 year old girls. It was quick, but a little tricky to get the beads into the tubes even for girls this age. It might be better to use slightly larger tubes; just be sure the connector piece makes a snug fit with the bracelet piece. I think younger children would love this activity--just use really thick tubing.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Banner with a Twist--It's Reversible!

Banners are everywhere and I finally jumped on the bandwagon. I have been avoiding it because they seem to take a lot of time to really make them pretty and then you can only use it a limited number of times. These banners changed that!

Most of the banners I see are made out of paper. What can be made from paper can usually be made of fabric, too, so that is the direction I took. It occurred to me that it should be reversible so I could use it more. Kind of like a two for one deal after doing the work. Besides, after taking the time to make it, it ought to be used a lot!

The trick to this was figuring out what to put on each side so there were the right number of letters and spaces to match the number of penants. I needed "Happy Birthday" and quickly realized it might be more versatile as two separate banners. I came up with a few combinations that would work for the reverse side, but I finally ended up with "Yay" and "Celebrate" and those are generic enough to be used frequently.

To make this banner, you will need 2 different fabrics for the penants, 2 contrasting fabrics for the lettering, extra wide single fold bias tape, and Heat N Bond. Note: I found two different fabrics that don't coordinate for the penants, but then found bias tape that matched both since it will show on both fabrics.

Start by tracing your penant pattern on your fabric. I purposely chose fabric that could be turned any direction just to make this easier. I traced with a water soluble pencil on the right side. Since I cut right on the line, I wasn't too worried about it showing, but just in case, I could wipe it off with a damp cloth.

Next, adhere the Heat N Bond to the back side of the fabric following the manufacturer's directions.

Lay your second color of fabric over the Heat N Bond with wrong sides together. Trim it so you have a piece the same size as the other piece. Fuse these together.
Cut out your penants. I used pinking shears for the sides and straight scissors across the top.

Fold your bias tape in half so the edges match up. I didn't use double fold bias tape for this reason--the edges don't always line up and I end up opening it, ironing it flat, and then ironing the fold back in. It is easier to just iron the fold in myself and know that the edges will match up properly.

Leave a little end for hanging your banner up and then sew the bias tape together near the edge. Place each penant in as you go. The corners should touch in the top fold as you add each penant.

Next, choose a font for your letters and print out letters the size you need depending on how big your penant is and whether or not there is a background (see notes at the end of this post). Cut out your letters.

Trace your letters backwards on the Heat N Bond paper.

Adhere this to the contrasting fabric with your iron. Cut around each letter and peel off the paper.

Adhere letters to the banner with your iron.

That's it! Pretty easy, but it takes a little time--
which is why I want to be able to use it a lot!
And, learning from my mistakes...It probably would have looked better (different?) to use a shape (circle or scalloped circle, I think) behind each letter. This would have allowed the letter to pop a little. I wanted it plain so I could make the letters bigger, but they get a little lost in the busy fabric anyhow. If you want a busy fabric with just letters, you could also use a bright and solid colored letter which would also help it to pop a little more.

Friday, April 9, 2010

At least my brain gets a vacation!

OK. It's not a craft and it's not handmade, but I still thought it was a good idea. Sometimes I forget how simple it can be.

I bought all of these things at Target in the dollar section for my daughter to use in our sand box. Sometimes the $2.50 items sneak into my cart, too, and I don't know if any of these fit into that category. (BTW, each item wasn't $1 either--some were grouped together.) I brought it all home and realized how cute it would be as a simple gift.

Not crafty, not creative, but FUN anyhow.

It was a good reminder to me that, sometimes, you just have to enjoy good ideas and go with them--without any guilt because it was easy!

It's spring break and I think my brain is on vacation anyhow. We sure don't have vacation weather, so some part of me ought be on vacation!

Monday, April 5, 2010

She Definitely Wears Flowers!

And she wears them well with ruffles!

I saw a blouse I liked on a contestant for the TV show American Idol. It kind of stuck in my head and then I realized just what I wanted to do with the look. I am feeling pretty pleased. I like the way it turned out. I like the one color/one fabric. I like the flower mixed with the ruffle. I like the size of that ruffle--it won't get ignored, will it? And, really, I don't think you could find a better model to sport this look!
What do you think?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Please Don't Eat Me, Easter Bunny!

See, I am not a bad Mom. We got to see the Easter Bunny this year after all. 

These days, I hate the mall. I hate the commercialization of holidays. I hate going almost anywhere with all three of my children at the same time. And, yet, I didn't forget the Easter Bunny. Well, I almost did, but lucky for me, he (she?) was standing on the corner at the gas station today. I know you wish you were in my car when I flipped a speedy u-turn. In an instant, I recognized the opportunity to make up for my lack of enthusiasm for all things festive and I wasn't going to pass that up!

Avery happily sat on the bunny's lap for a picture, but she didn't want any part of a good picture. Oh, well. She wouldn't even get close to Santa Claus so this is a huge thing. It took them an extremely long time to get the picture out to us so they gave us both pictures. What a treat--look at the picture and you can see just how generous they really were.

In a few years, she won't even remember where she had that picture taken (except their logo on the corner of the picture--jeepers!). She will only remember how fun her experience with the EB turned out to be. That and running around knocking over potted flowers while I repeatedly told her to stop and to get away from the street which was about 6 feet away. Fun with a capital F for her!
Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I pick you!

A long time ago, I received a card that said,
"If friends were flowers, I'd pick you."
That has been one of my all-time favorite quotes for a long, long time. I wish I knew who wrote it so I could give proper credit.

Not being a fool today on April Fool's Day, I decided it was time to show my followers how much I appreciate you. So many of you leave me nice comments and send me the most supportive emails. Thank you!

So, instead of picking a flower today, I'd like to pick a follower.

Here's how it went down--a little elementary, but it worked!

And, the winner is . . .

You have won the baby shoes pictured at the top of this post
 for the little flower (or follower!) in your life.
 They are 0-3 months size, but seem to be generous.
And, if you don't need them, please pick someone you appreciate to give them to! Please email me so I can get the info I need to mail these tiny shoes to you.

Thanks! And, thank you to all of my followers.

I have another giveaway in mind--be sure to sign on as a follower so you don't miss it!

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