Wednesday, July 30, 2008

kid crafts

ahhhhh...crafting with the kids. We recently had a day of fingerpainting. I always end up with a new perspective about crafts. Kids don't worry about messes, keeping the paint colors pure and staying in the lines. They don't worry about ending up with something that is Martha-worthy. They do worry about having enough blank paper and whether you are stingy with the paint.

When I my five year old says, "Mommy can we craft something?" (or from my youngest, "can we decowate someting?") it just makes me all misty-eyed. The Crafty Crow is a great resource site for all kinds of crafty projects to do with your kids.

For example, this stained glass project caught my eye, from In A Nutshell. Made with tissue, waxed paper, construction paper, a hot iron, animal images from the internet and glue. Grab the kids and have some crafty fun.

Monday, July 28, 2008

drum roll please...Molly Monkey pattern done!

NOTE: Please do not upload my PDF to another server. Leave it right here where it can be downloaded conveniently for free and also updated with any improvements or changes (which it has been, twice at least!). Links are always always welcome, but please do not link directly to the PDF download. Please link to this post. Thank you!

ALSO NOTE: If you are having trouble with the placement for the face, you can print an extra pattern piece for the face, then cut the eyes out and poke holes with a large pin on the lines for the nose and mouth. Then you can lay your template over the felt face piece to draw on the eyes and make dots to guide for the mouth and nose placement with a disappearing marker.

At long, long last, I've completed the Molly Monkey pattern, and it is here for you to download, gratis. Help yourself! It is a zip file that is 1.5 mb. Uncompressed, it turns into a nine page PDF file, which can be opened and printed by a variety of PDF reader programs, like Acrobat Reader.

I put a lot of crazy hours into the pattern and doll design, so please never sell, publish or distribute the pattern. That is a violation of my copyright.

Wonderful and intrepid volunteer crafters, Olivia and Chandra, made Mollies from the first draft of the pattern so that you could have the much-improved second draft. See their Mollies below: Chandra's is the Molly with the pink beret, Olivia's is the Molly with the blue beret. I was so excited to see their creations!

Chandra's Molly
Olivia's Molly
If you find any errors, be a pal and make a comment to me here. Feedback is most welcome. I've already had several suggestions to improve the pattern and I've been updating the PDF file as I get them. Thanks y'all!

If you make a Molly and would like to share your photos, I'd really love to see them. Pleassssse post them here in my Molly Monkey group on Flickr.

If you are just ecstatic with your pattern, perhaps you will click the donate button on the right and zap me a few dollars with PayPal. It would be most appreciated!

Friday, July 25, 2008

family clothesline diorama

Well, the little project that was living in my head for a while is finally a completed reality. I love the end result! It is destined for our mantel. Each clothing item on the line represents a member of our family.

Finishing it took a lot longer than originally intended, because I got distracted with other urgent projects that had actual deadlines, and also because my diorama muse went on vacation. Don't you hate it when that happens?

The end result uses less paper and more fabric than I originally envisioned, and the little clothes are all a bit more elaborate than my first idea. I cut off the ends of toothpicks for the clothespins and used embroidery floss for the clothesline. The trees are actually brown corduroy, which is really hard to tell from the photos. I rescued a clear plastic package from the garbage (how very green of me, ha) after I realized it was a goldmine for cutting out non-visible supports for some items (like the birds) and for making the clothes appear like they are blowing in the breeze. I'm not pleased that the clothesline doesn't hang in a symmetrical curve, because the daddy shirt is heavier than the others. I may be compulsive enough to open it up and weigh down the orange dress to compensate, but we'll see.

It was really fun to make, but I'm glad it is finished!

(note: I find I am dissatisfied with the birdies. I'd like to make them more 3D looking.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

the great 5x5 exchange cont'd

Here's the latest batch of charm squares for our exchange. Above is what I got from Robyn for June. So pretty! Love 'em. Below is what she's gettin' in the mail soon for July. From left 1) from quilt shop in Fayetteville, TN 2) from quilt shop in Decatur, AL 3) yellow fabric originally chosen for a dress for R's daughter 4) scrap from little A's peasant dress 5) scrap of a vintage pillow case purchased while thrifting with Robyn in LA, and which I mangled last night attempting to make myself a top. Total disaster.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Katy Kitty in the works...

the design is mostly done...
and the fabrics are picked out.
daughter's birthday deadline approaching! can't find red corduroy! aaaaaaahhhh!
(edit: yes, I found some at Joann! whoo hoo!)

Monday, July 21, 2008

make a headband cover

I don't know about you, but good-fitting headbands are hard for me to find. They often give me earaches and headaches. Also, those elasticized headbands that go all around your head just don't stay on me well. They keep slipping off the back of my head. Maybe because I have such a freakishly high forehead. But I'm loving all the cute, wide, fabric headbands out there right now and I need some.

Soooo...recently I bought my daughter a handful of those el cheapo thin, flexible plastic headbands and noticed they do not hurt my head. So, I thought, why not cover it with wide fabric? And make it so I can switch covers at will?

So I stole a flashy gold one that she doesn't like for me to use. I measured the circumference of the headband with a measuring tape, added a bit for breathing room, then drew out a silhouette of a wide headband that tapers to a point just behind the ears. (sorry I didn't think to take photos of the whole process, but it is pretty straightforward, and there is a free pattern included below in case your headband is the same kind as mine)

I added the seam allowance, cut out two from my fabric*, and stitched it all around, right sides facing, leaving 2 inches open for turning. (before stitching, you could add interfacing too if you want a stiffer look).

*Savvy crafter Olivia offers this improvement: before you stitch, replace the slit with a buttonhole and you won't have to dab it with Fraycheck like certain impatient crafters named Larissa.

I turned it, then topstitched the opening closed. You could topstitch the whole thing if you were so inclined and liked that look. Then, on the bottom side, about an inch or so above one end, I used my seam ripper to cut a slit about half an inch wide in one layer of fabric, so basically I had a slit to feed in the headband (skip this slit/fraycheck step if you already did Olivia's buttonhole idea). I dotted Fraycheck around the cut to keep it from fraying.

Then I fed in the thin plastic headband through the opening until it was all inside. Voila. Instant, comfortable, wide headband, that I can switch out whenever I want with the other fabric covers I plan on making. You can see a lump where the thin headband is inside, but to me that just looks like a wrinkle in the fabric, kinda the look I was going for.

Pretend there is a Heather Bailey-esque arty photo of me wearing it here. Not happening.

Do you want to make one? Here's my free pattern, although you should measure your headband first to make sure it will fit. Make sure the pattern prints at actual size, not 'sized to fit'.

Friday, July 18, 2008

make your own shoulder bag

I made this messenger bag a while back out of Jade Somerset by Braemore. I found the pattern free from the good folks at Sew Young, Sew Fun. Sadly, their site no longer exists.

However, there are plenty of other options out there for a free bag pattern, including:

this tutorial by Tiny Happy,
this hobo bag at JCarolineCreative
this one on the Robert Kaufman fabric site
this free yoga bag pattern from Amy Butler (navigate down to free patterns, then scroll)
and this one from Craftbits

(Late note, I eventually posted my own version of a free messenger bag pattern since I can't point you to the Sew Young Sew Fun version. Here it is.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

more vintage mystery fabric

Ok, these are from another quilt I stare at a lot. I think it was made by my husband's great grandmother from Arkansas. It is really vibrant and cheerful, but what absolutely fascinates me are the tantalizing bits of this one particular fabric that I would kill to have a whole piece of.

It looks like a little dutch or german girl who is picking mushrooms and putting them in a basket. There's also coordinating fabrics with just the dot and flower motifs, or maybe this is all part of one huge repeat, who knows?

I'm thinking of recreating this pattern in Illustrator to use for myself or possibly on Spoonflower if they ever open that up to plebs like me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

vintage quilt fabric

I (lucky gal that I am) inherited several quilts from my side and my husband's side of the family. I think it is important to use them, so I have them out on a rack to cuddle with in the evenings on the couch, and I've been known (gasp) to use them for picnic blankets and tablecloths.

I find myself staring at the fabric quite a bit (strange, I know), trying to imagine how happy I'd be if I could just find fabric like that available to buy. Thought I'd share some vintage fabric goodness with you.

It has this nicely weird cool maroon toile as the backing and binding (above). I just realized I have no idea who made this. If I had to guess, my mom's mom did.

This quilt is so cheerful. It is an amazing mishmash of random fabrics, and I can't help but feel I'd be incapable of recreating this kind of look because I waaaay overthink fabric combinations. I was intrigued by a quilting method I saw online recently that involves throwing your scraps in a bag and blindly choosing them (sorry, I have no idea where I saw this). Maybe I need a method like that so I can just let go of the reins and let it happen.

I wish I had yards and yards of all these old school fabrics. I am really happy that the vintage look is back and can be found in lots of new fabric lines, but there's nothing like the real thing, is there?

Friday, July 11, 2008

another free hello card for you

Note: This printable is no longer available.

I was feeling the need to get in touch with my inner graphic designer, so I came up with this. You can never have too many of these notecards, right? I guess I wasn't done playing, here's another version with more colorful lettering:

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

the blue peasant dress

I really love the way peasant blouses look, and I got a pattern for my girls to make some, Simplicity It's So Easy 3743. As usual, the pattern is too wide and too short, blah blah.

I've made two blouses so far (above). As I was cutting out the last one, I was thinking all I'd have to do to make a cute dress would be the lengthen it. Then I was inspired to design a dress based on the blouse.

So I made a new pattern by shortening the top to just below the arms, took yet more width out, lengthened the sleeves, and shortened the elastic used for the neck and sleeves so it would be more fitted.

Then I added three tiers of gathered fabric in slightly graduating widths. I got it too poofy the first time and had to backtrack. I also thought it would be cute to have a contrasting band of yellowy orange fabric in between each tier, so that made things more complicated. That's so me, why have a simple project when you can hopelessly complicate something already iffy? But I finally ended up with a dress that I think is so so cute.

I added a wee wool felt flower using the wonderful and simple pattern from Wisecraft, but reduced to 60% of the size, and I added two beads to finish it off. Since wool felt is not that washable, I made it a pin so I can take it off to wash the dress.

I was thinking of doing another dress, only leaving off the bottom tier to make it a tunic to wear with jeans and shorts. The actual construction of the dress was pretty easy, but it took a while to work out all the kinks with fit and length since I had no pattern for most of it. Now that that is done, the next one should be easier. If I can remember what I did!

I'd also like to try an adorable variation like the ones with aprons I've seen on The Handmade Dress (above). Maybe another blue one for my youngest with an a-line skirt instead of tiers and a little built-in apron. Aren't these adorable? I wish I had her color sense.

Monday, July 7, 2008

scrumptious jewelry

I don't usually post about jewelry here, but this luscious stuff from Australian crafter Divine Rose is just a feast for the eyes. I have drooled over her necklaces for several weeks, so I thought I'd share the joy. Her stuff is a great blend of new and vintage, and I especially love the asymmetrical necklaces.

Friday, July 4, 2008

feeding my color obsession

Via Design Sponge, I've found a site for people with color (or colour if you are fancy) compulsion, like me: You can create a palette using a photo anywhere on the web, then try it out on pre-existing patterns. Cool.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

mmm...marimekko sale.

Aren't these the most gorgeous fabrics you've ever laid your cotton-pickin' eyes on? Actually, think of them more as art and less as fabric. More importantly, they are on sale.