Saturday, August 3, 2019

final prototype for 'Twas The Night Santa Claus ornament

This tiny, pink, wool felt Santa Claus ornament is the first in a new series of ornaments I'm designing based on Clement C. Moore's 1823 poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas. Most folks know that poem by its famous first line, "'Twas the night before Christmas".

Mr Pinkensparkl you see here is in the final proportions for the pattern, except maybe I'll vary what he's holding in his right mitten. Or maybe I'll give a couple options for that. Still mulling that one over.

If you like making super tiny accessories, you are going to love this ornament. I'll include all my tips for doing this. Get your reading glasses and Ott Lites ready for action. haha! Cup of coffee is also very helpful.

This new series will feature some familiar North Pole citizens, along with some other things to evoke the magic of the classic poem. I'm having so much fun making these Santas! They are very similar to making the people ornaments from my Twelve Days series, only with less embroidery and more Christmas sparkle added in the form of sequins and glass seed beads. I love the vintage look that the combination of wool felt and sequins give them.

The best kind of mess is on my desk lately. All the wool felt colors I'm using for my samples so far are from Benzie Design, not to mention their fantastic array of colored seed beads and sequins. Their sequins are a bit smaller than the ones I've found at the craft store -- 4 mm as opposed to 5 mm, and Benzie sequins are not cupped, they're flat. They work really well for the small scale of this ornament, and I find the seed beads are such nice quality -- uniform size and shape with holes that you can fit a regular sewing sharp through. #winning

No worries, you can still use the fantastic and wonderful and magical Sulky Stick N' Stitch to sew these ornaments more quickly and accurately. I have found that the seed beads and sequins I have do just fine for the few minutes you have to soak them to wash away the stabilizer. Yay!

Stay tuned for updates on this Santa Claus ornament pattern soon. I'll be releasing him sometime in August, but can't give a date. Too many variables! 

Friday, July 26, 2019

Snow Bird pattern revisited

I recently took another look at a pattern I wrote in 2013, Snow Bird. It's a fun, uncomplicated hand sewn ornament. You can comfortably sew it up in one or two afternoons and have a really special handmade gift to give to someone. I like that it has a little Christmas sparkle added by sequins and silver lined seed beads. As I reviewed the pattern, I was inspired to make one, seen in the first photo above. *sigh* My weird wrinkly wrist. I had my arm at a strange angle trying to take the shot and simultaneously be my own hand model. Anyway. The felt colors I used are a mashup of FOTF and Benzie:
Head/wing details: FOTF Orange Red
Wings: FOTF Shrimp
Body: FOTF Lavender Pink
Beak: Benzie Peacock

I used sequins and beads I have in my collection (which are now catastrophically and maybe permanently mixed after I accidentally dropped the container they were sorted in) but also some lovely new sequins that were so kindly sent to me by Benzie Design. They are 4 mm and flat as opposed to the 5 mm cupped ones I usually find at my local craft store, so the smaller size is really nice for small details. They come in some reeeeeally gorgeous colors with coordinating seed beads. In spillproof containers. I'll have to experiment more with those!

As it happens, I've learned a couple things since 2013, so I did a few revisions to the instructions while I was updating the contact information (there's no such thing as my flickr page anymore haha). There was nothing wrong with the original instructions, but I changed them to utilize freezer paper for all the pattern pieces instead of just for the beak. I think that method is quicker and more foolproof when it comes to transferring accurately to felt. I also included a handy template to take the guesswork out of the beak placement.

Do you have your Christmas projects lined up already? Perhaps you need a Snow Bird in that list? You can find the PDF pattern here in my Etsy shop.

Monday, July 15, 2019

baby name banner for Teddy Graham

A blessing in the form of a tiny baby boy will soon be joining my extended family. Theodore Graham will no doubt be super cute just because of his parents, but I'm also crossing my fingers for some curly red hair. Please oh please! See what you can do, Lindsey. :-)

This wool felt teddy bear banner was designed to coordinate with human Teddy's nursery in muted and manly shades of gray, maroon, navy blue, and brown. Since Theodore is quite a long name, I did this banner at half the size I did for the previous two banners. The finished length is just right, I

The banner was constructed basically in the same way as the others, with nice wool felts for the flags, stiffened white acrylic felt for the backings, and grosgrain ribbon. The letters are also backed with the stiffened felt. (It's really inexpensive and can be found in most big craft/hobby stores located near the acrylic craft felts.)

The fun part was making the bears. I designed the two affable fellows at the ends to be spiffed up in fabric bow ties and collars. Their look was a bit trial and error and involved a lot of squinting. (I squint when I test out colors and arrangements. I don't know why.) I could have done them completely as applique, but I wanted them to have some dimension. Their ears and noses are craft store pom poms. The bow ties are two layers of quilting fabric adhered together with Heat n Bond® (a really great iron-on adhesive), which gives the fabric the right amount of stiffness and will prevent the edges from raveling. The eyes and collar are stiffened craft felt.

I designed the whole banner on my Mac first, then output it directly to my old 'bad' batch of Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy (see this old post for more on that). As I've mentioned, I'd use even the good stuff for this because it really streamlines the whole process. You just print each flag once on the Sulky and use it four times over to cut the backing, flag, letter backing and letter. It's so easy. Then I used my usual method of glue basting everything together and then sewing it down.

I did attach the ribbon differently this time. I usually thread an entire long piece through the sewn channels on the backs of the flags, space the flags as I like, then secure them in place. It occurred to me that is a waste of good ribbon. So this time I glued on short, measured pieces of ribbon between the flags on the backs, then hot glued the back flaps in place. Tada. It looks the same but uses less ribbon, and it's less frustrating to do. (Unless like a complete numpty you find you've glued the flags in the wrong order and have to puzzle out how to fix this after the flaps were already hot glued down over the ribbon. *loud clearing of throat*)

I did manage to fix that without having to start over, so it's all good. There were some pretty negative comments made about myself to myself, I'm afraid. But all's well that ends well. I'm so pleased with this banner, and I can't wait to welcome little Theo to our family, no matter what color his hair turns out to be. :-)

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Twelve Days update: you can sub Pellon 70 Peltex for the wings, and two other notes

Hey, guys! I always like to share updates with you that might make the construction of your ornaments easier/faster/better/cheaper. (As I typed that, the opening sequence to The Six-Million Dollar man began playing inside my head.)

FIRST ITEM: Way back when I wrote the bird patterns in the series, I specified double layers of heavyweight iron-on interfacing to give the wings stiffness, and used Pellon® 70 Peltex® to reinforce the beaks.

I discovered recently that the 70 Peltex actually works well for the wings. Quite well. Okaaaay...better. I did this in the set I just made for FOTF and really liked the results, and it was less trouble than cutting multiple pieces of interfacing. So why didn't 2014 Larissa think of this? Mmmmnot sure? Maybe I did and decided against it? You know me. Detail obsessed oriented. I'm sure it crossed my mind. Maybe I thought it would look too thick? But 2019 Larissa knows better.

So as I'm going through and revising the patterns (just minor changes and tweaks) to make them more streamlined and consistent in the way they are made, I'm subbing in one layer of the 70 Peltex in all the bird wings (and also the tail in the case of French Hen) instead of the double layers of iron-on interfacing. It's a win-win because
1) it works better to help the wings keep their shape over time, and
2) also makes for one less item to buy, because you already use the 70 Peltex in the beaks. Yay! (You can skip buying the craft weight iron-on interfacing.)

So make a little note to yourself on your existing patterns to use the Peltex instead. That includes Turtle Dove, French Hen, Colly Bird, Goose a-Laying, and Swan a-Swimming. (Partridge does not have a free standing wing, so that is not affected.)

SECOND ITEM: Specific to the Swan a-Swimming pattern, also make a note to yourself about using a cotton pipe cleaner inside the water of the swan instead of using the interfacing or even the Pellon. It won't hurt to use either of those, but I think a pipe cleaner works better:

That's another minor revision I'm making in the pattern because a cotton pipe cleaner keeps the water nice and straight and not bendy. Bendy water looks weird. When storing the ornaments, the water tends to bend upward around the swan if you use the interfacing or Pellon. Even if your pipe cleaner gets curvy in storage, you can easily straighten it. I used a pipe cleaner in this one.

OK, THIRD ITEM: Circling back to the wing and beak Pellon, I thought I'd mention that when I made the baby banner recently, I noticed stiffened craft felt has about the same thickness and stiffness of the 70 Peltex.

Soooooo if you find that you have trouble locating the 70 Peltex to use for the wings and beaks, you might try the stiffened felt? *Emphasis on the ?* I hesitate to even mention it because I haven't used it in the ornaments myself, but I know you guys are perfectly capable of trying it out for yourselves if needed. You guys are smart. Be careful if for some reason you have to press over it with an iron -- I'm pretty sure it will melt or shrink if there is direct contact with the iron.

Friday, May 24, 2019

baby name banner for wee Noah

I designed this wool felt name banner for my sweet friend Holley who is welcoming her 5th child very soon. Little Noah doesn't realize this yet, but he is such a lucky kid to have Colby and Holley for parents! You'll never meet nicer, more loving folks. I'm a big fan of their four other kids too. In short, I love them.

While photographing this, it came to my attention that I'm running out of blank walls at my house. Blank walls are kinda boring from a decor standpoint but they are shazam for photographing baby banners you want to blog. Luckily I have this one bare wall left in our room, but it doesn't give much contrast between the wall and the white felt backing. Use your imaginaaaaation to add color to the wall. *Makes rainbow shape with fingers*

I've made one other felt name banner. It was for a sweet little girl baby, so it was flowery and pretty and right in my wheelhouse. I took what I learned from that first one and used it to improve the construction of this one. First of all, instead of regular felt, I used cheap, craft store stiffened white felt as the base for the banner. It's right there next to the stacks of craft felt. It rocks for this. So easy to cut, keeps it's shape, takes glue and hot glue well, and you can sew through it. Did I mention it's cheap? OK. Also no stretching out of shape like the felt I used to back the first banner. It adds just the right amount of stiffness and body to the pennants. I used it to back the lettering too. (And I had an epiphany while using it -- it would make a great substitute for the stiff Pellon stabilizer in my Twelve Days patterns. I'm not sure it's actually cheaper than the Pellon per sq inch, but it might be easier to find.)

The construction was similar to my first one. I designed the banner in Illustrator, and then I output the flags with letters in place on my faulty batch of Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy. Since I can't use it with my felt ornaments, this is a bang-up way to make it so useful -- and to be honest, even if it wasn't the 'bad' stuff I'd still use it like this because it's just makes construction so easy.

There's a way to do it so you only have to use up one sheet of the Sulky per flag. Cut from the outside in and re-use it until you've cut everything out. So:
1) I cut the backing outline out of the stiffened felt, peeled off the stabilizer, then applied it to
2) cut the flag color felt, peeled off the stabilizer, then applied it to
3) cut the stiffened backing for the letter, peeled off the stabilizer, then applied it to
4) cut out the letter itself.

I used a selection of felt colors from my vast, embarrassing stash of wool felts to match the colors that Holley would like for Noah's room. They are a mix of wool-blend and 100% wool felts. (Benzie Design and Felt On The Fly colors.) I don't sweat mixing these two types of wool felts. I always have mixed them because getting the colors I want trumps being fussy about matching fiber content. And I already have the stiffened felt thrown in there that's made from plastic or something, so it's all a smorgasbord.

I wanted to add interest by giving the animals some 3D elements. This meant using small amounts of stuffing and some of my prodigious pom pom stash. I have a thing for poms. Like three gallon-sized jars, a half gallon jar, and two small jars for the mini poms kind of thing.

As you can see, the animals (I still say aminals in my head because two kids) are a mix of machine sewing and hand sewing. One thing that did not improve from last time: I had like a month and a half to make this thing and I was still up to 2 AM on the night before the shower sewing it together. I've come to accept this about myself, but still hoping to magically wake up one day as a motivated non-procrastinator.

I used Tacky Glue to baste the parts together before sewing and I used hot glue to add the poms and some of the felt elements to the banner, as well as to secure the folded flaps on the back for the ribbon (last time I sewed that but didn't like the seam showing) and also to secure the loops in the ends of the ribbon for hanging. I only burned myself a couple of times. *thumbs up*

If I had to do it over again I might add more animals? Maybe use the same gray for the end flag as the beginning flag? I'm not sure I'm completely happy with the overall design in terms of balancing the animals and colors. (Don't worry, I feel this way after making everything.) But that doesn't keep me from being happy with this baby boy banner. I got to use some of my favorite materials and favorite animals. It was a fun project!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

FOTF complete jewel tone kit now available!

Photo courtesy of Felt On The Fly

Super cool announcement! Felt On The Fly now has a COMPLETE materials kit available -- enough 100% merino wool felt (with some extra built in, JIC), DMC floss, and notions to make all 15 jewel toned ornaments in my curated Sapphire, Gold and Emerald colorways.

See her Etsy listing for details on what's included and to purchase. (Her kit does not include my patterns. Those can be purchased in my shop.)

See my FOTF color guides if you'd like to view more photos of the jewel toned Twelve Days ornaments you can make with the FOTF Jewel-Tone Colorway Kit.

Janet also supplies helpful printed color guides along with the kit, which is really handy on the go or off the grid. Using her kit with my patterns, you will have most everything you need to get going on your heirloom handmade ornament set. I love that there is a little cushion built in to the felt so you don't have to freak out if you make a mistake or change your mind about a color. That happens to me a lot! I've purchased kits in the past for projects that have just enough, so it makes me sweat bullets as I go along. Not necessary here, and you may be able to make additional ornaments with the leftovers, especially if you vary the colors.

You can find the complete set of patterns here in my Etsy shop.

Friday, May 10, 2019

what I'm up to

Hey, guys. I've been absent for a while #becausehomeschool. We are finishing up a crazy hard year for us. Freshman year and junior year. We are on the homestretch now with just a few more days and then FREEDOM. Final projects, exams, standardized tests, school events, graphic design projects for school, etc... have taken all my time/sanity lately.

May is super manic always for us anyway just because of family events – our anniversary, Thing 2's birthday (she can get her permit now YIKES), extended family birthdays, Mothers Day, plus all the graduation events for the happy seniors in our lives. You know what I'm talkin bout. I'm hoping to get through the gauntlet and get back to pattern development and crafting when the dust settles, and then the girls can focus on their video game achievements.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

FOTF felt & floss color guide for
Lord a-Leaping (Gold colorway)

Here are the colors to use for Lord a-Leaping (#12 in the series*) if you are making my Twelve Days ornaments with Felt On The Fly's beautiful Gold felt bundle. Sewing pattern can be purchased here.

*You may be thinking, 'Wait, no, his leaping Lordship is number 10!' And you are right! He is #10 in the modern carol. But not in the original carol from 1780, which is what this series is based on. But maybe 1780 style is not your jam? No worries, see this post to easily re-number yours.

Hat: Coral
Coat and Sleeves: Dark Teal
Cravat and Cuffs: Caribbean Blue
Vest: Raw Umber
Body and Legs: Gold
Boots: Brick
Decorative embroidery floss:
DMC white B5200
DMC 892
DMC 3808
DMC 3852
DMC 918

Heart Front: Gold
Heart Inset: Dark Teal
Decorative embroidery floss:
DMC white B5200
DMC 892
DMC 720
DMC 830

Decorative embroidery floss:
DMC white B5200
DMC 3852

Heart Back: Coral
Decorative embroidery floss:
DMC white B5200
DMC 3808