Friday, August 29, 2008

small magazine

My ever-hip friend, Robyn, brought my attention to another online mommy magazine, Small. Especially appropriate for fall were the ideas for kid's costumes. Enjoy the latest issue here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

new issue of lmnop available

Go here for the free, if hefty, download of lmnop, issue no. 4.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Molly Monkey Pattern Improvement

I love you guys. All you brilliant crafters out there who are constantly coming up with cool stuff. Especially stuff that helps me out! I learn so much from you.

Crafter Nzaloo wrote me to suggest an easy solution to the tight tangle of limbs as you sew Molly's body back and front together. This can be especially difficult if you stuff the limbs very firm. My original Molly has nicely squashy arms and legs, so it was manageable, but this suggestion will allow you to stuff your Molly to whatever firmness you like without wanting to strangle me as you sew it. Here it is!

Instead of leaving an opening in the side, leave an opening in the back seam above the tail. That way, when you sew the body front and back together, the arms, legs and tail can stick out that hole and leave you with a lot more room to maneuver. SO MUCH EASIER! Brilliant.

UPDATED NOTE: This trick along with leaving the limbs unstuffed before you sew improves the situation greatly. See details here.

Thanks, Nzaloo!

Note: The pattern has been updated with this new method. Get it here.

Monday, August 25, 2008

pillows from placemats

And here's the flip side of the blue pillow:

Remember my trip to Anthropologie way back in June? I finally completed my project with the placemats I bought and turned them into pillows for my couch. I owe this nifty idea to my friend Robyn (repurposing maven), who first suggested this when I was lusting after some placemats in Crate N Barrel years ago.

It just could not be simpler. You buy a placemat that is two layers of fabric. Use a seam ripper along one side of the placemat to open a few inches of seam. Stuff it with polyfil. Sew the seam.

I'd like to embellish the yellow/coral/white pillow somehow with an applique. The blue pillow had bias binding, which is a little more tricky, but still easy to get apart and put back together.

Friday, August 22, 2008

paper pennants

My little daughter recently had a birthday party and I was in my typical manic fever, looking for an EASY, fast way to decorate, as I had mismanaged my time (huge surprise) and guests were arriving in an hour. Not to mention that I still had to shower. It's embarrassing to admit, but this is pretty much the normal sequence of things in my world.

So I cut out colored paper triangles and taped them with low tack tape to my mantel. I loved the look so much I did more in the kitchen. I thought well, THAT was easy. Isn't it cheerful looking? Actually, her birthday was two weeks ago, and the paper pennants are still up. I like 'em. (Don't leave even low tack tape on sheet rock overnight -- you don't want to mar the finish of your walls. But it will be safe on glossy trim and glass.)

If you had a wee bit more time than an hour, you could also cut out or stencil letters on them first, like this. You guys out there with those fancy die cutters for letters could whip this out in minutes:

So simple. And fast. Fast is good in my world. And because they are not on a string, you can put them as far apart or close together as the space calls for. Also, totally re-usable. I'm going to squirrel mine away in a drawer for the next party.

I did mine with whatever scrap paper or construction paper was on hand, but you don't have to. Your local craft store has a hugemongous assortment of cardstock scrapbooking papers, so go crazy. Do solids or patterns or mix them willy nilly. I sized mine so that I got two pennants out of every letter-sized piece of paper, with leftovers.

Postscript: after I wrote this post, I noticed another blogger had a very similar idea, only way greener, using newspaper. But hers is on a string. There must be some mystical crafting collective unconscious out there. Check it out here:
maya*made: newspaper bunting: a tutorial

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

the great 5x5 exchange for july/august

Here's the latest installment in the 5x5 exchange between me and crafting bud Robyn. I'd add a link on Robyn's name to her craft blog, but it is still languishing out there in no man's land, neglected. It actually exists but has no posts. Robyn, do your duty and share your crafting genius with a craft-starved world! (I guess she is kinda busy. But still.)

Anyways, here are the fabulous squares she sent me for July, above. Aren't they pretty? And so color coordinated. It put me under pressure to coordinate mine for her for August.

These kinda go together, right? All in their un-ironed glory. From left: a square from a shirt I was trying to refashion like Robyn did to one she found at a thrift store. That project is on hold. Mine is a men's shirt, and it is baffling me. Of course, hers turned out perfect. The second is a snippet of the new Michael Miller I bought. Third up is a print I found at Hobby Lobby and love. I made my very first shirt for myself out of it. Next is a wee square from my new Amy Butler, which will hopefully become a fall dress for myself. Last is a sweet little print that went into my daughter A's peasant dress.

Can't wait to see what I get from her for August. (hint, hint)

Monday, August 18, 2008

fabric covered letters

A while ago, I bought some large, resin, 3D letters from Hobby Lobby for my girls' bedroom door. I painstakingly painted and antiqued them and mounted them on the door. I loved the look. See below.
    I failed to factor in daily exuberant door shutting and opening. After glueing the L together twice, then the ampersand falling and shattering in a hundred pieces, I gave up. So I decided to do some letters that were feather light. I absolutely adore the fabric covered letters at Anthropologie, but I don't want to cough up that kind of cash, plus not sure they have an ampersand anyway. 

I puzzled over how to construct a 3D letter out of cardboard to cover with fabric, then gave it up as too time-consuming. I ended up just printing the letters actual size from my laser printer, mounting them on chip board for stiffness, and cutting them out. 

Then I sprayed the front of each letter with adhesive and placed it on the wrong side of the chosen fabric. I trimmed the fabric around the letter to within about 3/8 inch of the edge, then turned the fabric to the back side and glued it. Have I said before how much I adore Fabritac? Dries almost instantly.
   Folding the fabric smoothly around the edges to the back side takes finesse. Just like in sewing, you have to clip the curves and junctures to get the best result. In the photo above, the ampersand is in progress, so you can see there are some allowances that are turned and glued on the back already and some that aren't glued yet. Note how I snipped out the corners to fold over smoothly. Any curves that fold over to the back must be clipped into smaller bits like you see above. The deeper the curve of the letter, the more clips you should make so that it looks smooth. Straight parts do not require clipping.
  The view from the front, above. The result was colorful, feather-light letters that stay on just fine with plain ol' tape. In hindsight, I wish I had chosen less vibrant colors of fabric. I feel like more subdued colors and bolder patterns might have looked better, but these'll do for now. 

It occurred to me belatedly that I could have bought some lightweight 3D brown cardboard letters from Hobby Lobby (local craft store) to cover with fabric, but I'm such a typographic snob, I probably wouldn't have seen any that were just right or the perfect size. Once I get a vision in my mind, it is really hard to shake it. 

I hope this helps if you want to do something similar!

Saturday, August 16, 2008


(ok I bought just a tiny bit more of fabric today. well, two fabrics. but it was a consolation for having slogged myself and my children all over town for 4 hours looking for perfect and cheap patio furniture)

Friday, August 15, 2008

new fabric, new project

I confess I treated myself to some new fabric the other day. I totally violated my resolve to use what I have first. BUT I couldn't resist! I really ought to develop some self discipline. Someday. These are (left) Amy Butler's Midwest Modern Martini Mustard, and (right) Michael Miller Ginger Blossom Tile Caribe. And I also got a little charm pack of Tula Pink's Nest. Oops. But I promise to use it for something!

So I have two patterns I'd love to try for myself, for a change. On the left, the sleeveless version. On the right, the sleeveless version with the v neck. I was thinking the gold/grey Amy Butler fabric would be good with the left one. Not sure which fabric I'd use for the other one, but these latest purchases seem too busy. I'll have to see if I have something appropriate in the stash. I see the Michael Miller fabric as a really cute skirt. Or bag.

I have learned one thing -- I'm not touching that new Amy fabric until I've made a cheap version from thrift fabric or muslin first. I do not have a pattern body. I'm square shouldered and short waisted. I have to make all kinds of adjustments and it drives me insane. One thing I do (did) have in my corner was the duct tape dressform my bosom friend Robyn helped me make for myself.

However, shortly after construction, the poor thing burst apart. I didn't reinforce the seam at the back, and after I stuffed it (probably too tightly) the tape at the seam couldn't handle the pressure. So now the stuffing is laying everywhere and I have to retape it and restuff it a second time. Meanwhile, my girls are having fun running across my craft room and jumping in the 'snow'.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

gettin' in the mood for fall

hence the new blog header and colors. Yay, I love fall! My favorite season. Bring it on.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

customize some keds

I saw this cool idea on A Little Hut, via Art Backwash.

You can go on and design your own custom pair of Keds using any personal image or pattern, as well as Keds' own existing color palette.

These are two I designed, the first features a Martha Stewart freebie PDF image I had on my computer, and the second uses Ked's own palette . I'm not going to buy them, but it was sure fun to play with.

I've done Tshirt designs with Zazzle in the past and been very satisfied with the end product, so I'm sure the same would go for these shoes. So fun!

Monday, August 11, 2008

introducing...Katy Kitty!

Katy is the doll I designed for my oldest daughter's birthday. She turned six last week. Way back before May, both my girls requested homemade dolls for their birthday, after seeing little Miss Audrey's bunny in progress. My youngest decided on a monkey, so I came up with Molly. My oldest girl promptly requested a 'red kitty cat'. Why red, I don't know. But her wish is my command, so now here's Katy.

I really enjoyed designing her and making her. I wasn't under such a manic deadline as I was with Molly. Plus, after designing Molly and working out most of the kinks with her pattern, I was able to take it further and embellish it for Katy without coming up with something totally from scratch.

Which gave me plenty of time to make her some cute accessories besides her beret, like her ear bow, her little backpack and notebook, and of course the new little twist on the shoes.

My favorite part of Katy is her shoes. I just love these wingtips, and I wish I could have a pair like them for myself this fall. Have you seen any?

In case you are wondering, Katy's sleeves and skirt are from Tula Pink's beautiful Flutterby fabric line, part of a charm pack I bought a while back when I was designing Molly.

As Molly's pattern is available for free download, I'm planning to make Katy's pattern available as well, although this time for a very reasonable price. Watch for the announcement soon.

Friday, August 8, 2008

make a pom pom

(sorry, somehow this picture was omitted the first publishing)
Wow, I never knew how totally easy this was until I had to make a pom-pom for Katy Kitty's new beret. (I got the excellent idea for putting a pom-pom on the beret from Molly Monkey pattern tester, Chandra).

I followed Bella Dia's very well-done tutorial and made one! It only took like, five minutes. And I had a nice little pom-pom the exact color and size I wanted. Now I'm trying to think of all kinds of uses for pom-poms so I can make more.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

sewy owl

I had another little shadow box from Ikea to fill, and I decided to do something quick because I had some folks coming to my house and I didn't want to have an empty shadow box on my mantel. A looming deadline really fuels creativity. Or gives birth to mediocrity. Maybe both.

Anyhoo (hey that's a clever pun) I decided to do an owl, since I like them and they are easy. I thought I'd make it a 'sewy owl' (get it) since I love all things to do with sewing. I stuffed the owl, gave it button eyes, put pins in it and gave it a sewing ruler perch to sit on. I also added some safety pin eyebrows.

The results might be lame, I can't decide. What's not lame is the background paper. I love that stuff. It is Martha Stewart wrapping paper. However, it is a big pain to work with because it is in such a tight little roll that I have to grapple with it to cut it and then I have to iron it for a while to get it to lay down.

At first I gave the owl much cuter big brown eyes (above), but I found that bothered me a bit in my living room. I didn't think 'adorable' blended well with the other stuff in there. So I redid that part.

Now I'm not sure I like it at all. Oh, well. It will reside there until I can think of something cool(er) to replace it. Or, more typical for me, I'll stare at it for so long that resignation and acceptance will set in.

Monday, August 4, 2008

owl notecard for you

Note: This printable is no longer available.
Here's yet another notecard. I am just addicted to designing these things.

Friday, August 1, 2008

spell with flickr

I think this is so cool. Brought to you by Erik Kastner.

Go ahead and spell something. If you don't like how it looks, click on a letter and you get a new one.

How it works:
"Spell with flickr grabs images from flickr (the One Letter and One Digit groups) and uses them to spell what you've typed in."