Monday, April 30, 2012

baby gift for Darcy

{In Which I Sew A Bib and Changing Pad from Laminated Cotton, Have a Crisis, and Learn Something New}

My niece, Erin, recently had a beautiful little baby girl. I haven't met sweet little Darcy yet, but oh, I will soon. And just so my grabby sisters and nieces all know – IT'S GOING TO BE AUNT LARISSA'S TURN WITH THE BABY.

Ahem. The occasion called for a sweet handmade gift and so I thought I'd sew up a bib and a changing pad. I was excited about this. Easy, gratifying, cute, and let me just share that I've had a couple projects go south lately and I needed a win, people.

I just happened to have some beautiful Amy Butler Soul Blossom laminated cotton on hand and it turns out everything else I needed was waiting in my stash. (Which just reinforces my OCD compulsion to buy random spools of ribbon and bias tape.)

The laminated cotton means you can easily wipe the bib and the pad clean if needed, so this makes them ideal for being on the go. I have to confess I actually bought the laminated cotton by mistake online. I thought I was buying regular quilting fabric. It was a doofus move at the time but it sure came in handy for this project, and I'm glad I have some leftover to make something else with.

But. I had no idea that it doesn't just obligingly sew up like regular fabric, so after I got the bib cut out and pinned together, I couldn't figure out why it would NOT feed through the presser foot. It seemed to stick like glue. Which is in essence exactly what it does when laminate meets the shiny metal underside of the presser foot.

After several foiled attempts and several fruitless minutes spent adjusting foot pressure, stitch length and ripping out stitches (I loathe ripping out stitches), then the lowest point which was a bad idea involving baby powder, I crammed the bib in the trash and complained about it on my Facebook page. After just a few seconds this totally awesome Person Extraordinaire, Christina, gave me a link to FutureGirl's post about the very same problem. Keep in mind I've never sewn on oilcloth or vinyl so I had no idea there was anything such as a roller foot or a teflon foot, like I do now from other helpful commenters. Thanks, everybody! So after reading FutureGirl's extremely timely and low tech quick-fix, I cut out some blue painter's tape and stuck it on the bottom of the presser foot and suddenly I was back in business. Note: regular shiny clear tape does not work. It has to be dull tape, not shiny.

I feel I should say something poetic and profound about what happens when the immediacy of facebook is magically combined with the hive mind of valuable DIY knowledge on the internet, but I'll sum it all up and say it was less than twenty minutes from nasty temper flare to successfully finished bib.

If you are wondering, I used a couple of free patterns for the bib and changing pad:

Bib: Nested's free bib pattern has a pocket included and is designed for velcro closure, but I used a pearlized snap instead. Just FYI, I also did not construct it as suggested, but instead traced and used the outline as my stitch line when I sandwiched my uncut front and back fabric RST (I used a light table to line up the pocket in between those layers).

Changing Pad: SewTakeAHike's diaper changing pad tutorial gave me the rounded corner idea and the dimensions I needed, but instead of using velcro I added a ribbon tie, and mine is three layers: cotton laminate, batting, and chenille.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

more floral cards

Still loving the tole painting look for cards. These were made with some punches, some hand drawn/hand cut shapes, a white pencil, an X-ACTO and some glue.

Hmm. I need to make a really big one for my mantel, I think.

Monday, April 23, 2012

the paper cart delivers

Well, the Sterilite carts arrived. In cardboard boxes that could have easily housed largish zoo animals (and which are currently occupied by my kids). I love the carts. LOVE THEM. As much as someone can love ugly plastic furniture, I love them. Because they work.

I always feel a bit hesitant to show pictures taken in my studio. I think I have an inferiority complex from all the stunning, color coordinated and neat-as-a-pin studio tours I've seen on blogs. Let me just be clear: my studio will never win any beauty awards. It's more about function than form. I'm trying to own that. I feel very lucky to even have a dedicated space to create, no matter how crowded and mismatched it is. That in itself is a huge blessing. Huge. But I digress.

The drawers had these nice, hinged lids on them. Which I spent a few minutes popping off with a flathead screwdriver. It seemed a shame. But I wanted easy access and didn't want to have to take the drawers completely out in order to get to the paper.

I stacked the two units together and installed the casters on the bottom unit. Which are a really nice feature because it's helpful to move the cart out of the way when I'm not doing a paper project.

Each drawer can hold 12x12 inch pieces (I discovered a lot of my 12x12s are actually bigger than that but if I turn them the right way they stay flat) and I keep all my scraps on top of the whole pieces. It's very easy to take a drawer out to rummage through it. And I like that I can see the color of the paper through the plastic so I can zero in on the drawer I want quickly.

Organizing all the small paper in the new carts has left my big ol' wooden flat file to do what it does best: House large sheets. I've just rediscovered a stack of expensive Arches papers from college. Bonus.

And that solves my dilemma with the ridiculous pile of solid colored art papers. (I am not going to worry about the ludicrous pile of patterned art papers for now. Or the preposterous piles of fabric. One thing at a time.)

Having the paper organized so nicely has put me in a card making mood! See, I even purchased a new X-ACTO knife. If you've ever seen a picture of my old one with the grimy, 20 year old masking tape around the grip, you'll be thankful. (I still have it though.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

birthday card for Paula

Paula is positively delightful in every way. And she is my sweet mom-in-law. And this is her birthday card. I was excited to get out my knife again, which is an improvement. The beachball of death has been spinning on the right side of my brain lately.

A cut paper card like this is pretty easy to do if you are careful and have a sharp blade. I draw/print the design backwards on the back side of the card stock, then make all the tiny cuts first, then the big ones. Actually, while I was on a roll I made another one. I always need birthday cards.

Monday, April 16, 2012

what I'm up to

Gah. Martha would not approve. No one is going to be pinning beauty shots of my studio anytime soon. Unless it is a 'hoarders' board. Just keepin it real. I'm trying to organize. Feeling down in the dumps is not helping.

One of the things that would help: marshaling my ludicrous pile of art papers. Way back when, my Schmoopie bought me this great vintage wooden flat file. It's so huge. I love it for my large sheets that need to lay flat, plus portfolio pieces and tissue paper, cardboard, mat board and bristol etc... But the bulk of my paper stash is smaller sheets and it is getting crazy out of control. Every time I open the drawer I can hear some sheets at the back becoming freeform origami. I've got to do something.

I have so many 12 x 12 inch and letter sized pieces (plus tons of small scraps) and I can't find anything without just emptying the huge drawer. That's when it starts looking like a paper explosion  (first photo). I'm trying to figure out a good way to:
  1. keep it all easily accessible and separated into colors
  2. while at the same time be visible at a glance 
  3. arranged so that small scraps do not get lost from view
  4. it must fit easily in my space-poor craft disaster area
I haven't seen anything yet that seems to answer all those problems without knocking out a wall. But I think this Sterilite cart might mostly do the job (image courtesy a screen capture from I like that I can roll it out for my project, then roll it back out of the way into a corner when I don't need it, and that the drawers lift out and have lids. I just ordered two of them and I'm hoping I can stack them.

I looked at a bunch of stores online and this is the best price I have found. Have you noticed that if you add the word "scrap" to a storage item the price doubles?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

bunny dreams

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

travel bugs (now called TravelWees)

{Late note: This pattern is now called TravelWees instead of Travel Bugs, and is now available in my Craftsy store for instant download and also via email in my Etsy shop.}

Well, it's official. My friend is now in Brazil. Olá, meu amigo Robyn, over the equator and far away!

I sent a package to her kids before they left the US because I thought it might be nice for her older two to have a travel sized buddy like their younger brother, Asher. Something to play with on the long airplane ride. I had all this fur left over from the beards. And some nice chenille stems from my sister Lita (thanks, Lita!). So here are the Travel Bugs. 

I think they ended up kind of Seussy looking (like they might live in a truffala tree), and probably a little too cutesy for her older boy, but he can secretly like it. I meant for his to look a little weirder and fiercer but somehow it stayed cute. Sorry, Gage. Maybe you can add some fangs? Audrey, Leafling looks like she might enjoy a tiny bow in her hair. Do you know any crafty kids that could make her one? And don't mention her mustache. Girls don't like to call attention to those.

I consume a lot of Altoids® Curiously Strong Mints (where's my sponsorship?) so I always have tins on hand. I was lucky to have a British 50g tin in my pile for Boogerby (that's the blue one) because he is so FURRY and all that hair would not fit in an American tin. The 50g tin is slightly deeper than the American. Also, it is not embossed. I'm actually not sure how I came to have a 50g tin. I don't remember buying any in London. That's curious. (rimshot)

Travel Bugs bring their own maps and their own food. Plus, they already have airplane hair, so they make you feel better about yours.