Monday, February 28, 2011

new tools

I recently picked up some crafting tools that I've been eyeing for a while. First up these scallop shears, made for fabrics. I can't figure out what brand they are. Possibly Nikken? The logo is so impossibly tiny I'd need a microscope to confirm. The "Made in Japan" part is visible though.

I had quite a time tracking some down for a reasonable cost. I didn't realize how hard to come by scallop shears were and how expensive. The Wise Word from fellow savvy crafters is that Fiskars used to make a mean pair of scallop shears but they are no longer available.

Since I wasn't willing to lie in wait on Ebay until some came available, I picked up these instead from ToolTron. So far, so good. They easily cut perfect scallops in fabric and felt (the felt and fabric are slightly wrinkled in the photo, sorry) and they feel weighty and good in my hand. My mind is crowding all up with the scallopy possibilities.

I also bought these Sizzix paddle punches from etsy. They allow you to punch simple shapes from felt or paper. Tried it on one piece of woven fabric and it didn't work well, but I might need to hone my skillz. I use my husband's manly rubber hammer and a regular cutting mat with them and it seems to work fine. And the whacking is very therapeutic, although it takes a lot more whacks then I anticipated to get a complete cut. The instructions say you must use the Sizzix hammer and mat or you Risk Damaging The Punch. I haven't had that problem so far, but there you go. I live on the edge, man. I live on the edge. Any paddle punch tips?

Monday, February 21, 2011

do your jeans stretch out?

Mine do. I don't like the baggy saggy feeling of slowly losing my pants, especially on low-rise jeans. Not far to fall, you know. So I added an extra button about an inch to the side of the real button, just to take up some slack when they stretch. I think the extra button looks fine, and when it is in use you can't tell it's an extra. It doesn't pucker the front or anything. I wish the button were a bit bigger to match the original, but I don't wear a lot of stuff tucked in so it is not big issue.

 buttoned at original button.
buttoned at my new Sag-B-Gone button.

This is what I used and they couldn't be easier to attach. "Dungaree Buttons" from my local Wal-Mart. You just put the tack through the back of the waistband and push on the button from the front. No hammer or man-handling required. Be sure not to put it too far away from the original button. You don't want to create an unsightly pucker. Also be sure it's in the right place before you attach it! It's a lot harder to take off than it is to put on.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

two more messenger bags

I just managed to crank out these messenger bags from my stash for my two girls in time for Valentines Day. Well, Valentines Dinner I guess. Actually, more like right before their Valentines Bedtime. I don't really feel elaborate presents are required on Valentines, besides the requisite chocolate, but these bags were so overdue for them. They've carried the same little raggedy church totes I made them ever since they were babies, so it was high time they had new bags to carry their Bibles and notebooks.

I made plans to sew these months ago, and all of a sudden Saturday arrived and I realized I had until Monday to design and sew both bags. Story of my life. My calendar is out to get me.


Thing 2 had requested a doggie bag at some point in the distant past, so this is what I came up with. She's six, so I figured this was still cool for her to carry around.

The flap is from a thrifted tweed skirt (that turned out to be a bit too mini for me) and the body of the bag is some heavyweight green canvas that was also thrifted. The dog's face is appliqued using fleece and felted wool I had on hand. His floppity ears are fleece and cotton. I don't know why I chose those buttons. I had some black ones, but I liked the slightly crazed look of these two mismatched ones. Probably because it matched the look of my own at the time.

The lining is brown and turquoise cotton.

 Sorry for the wrinkles.

Thing 1's bag got a row of felted wool heart appliques with wool-blend felt hearts on top, because she is eight. Eight year old girls may decide at any moment that fuzzy, floppy eared animal bags are too babyish.

The body of the bag is dark blue denim and the flap is some olive-ish brown-ish heavyweight thrifted fabric. Of course I found out about halfway through construction that the stash denim I was using on the first round had lycra built in, which made it a stinking nightmare to sew in pencil pockets and match it together with the lining. I ended up having to go to Joann and purchase some denim that had no lycra and begin again. That's always nice when you are short on time.

 The lining is some AMH I had in my stash.

Our kitchen still looks Valentiney. (The green walls will soon be a light oyster. Can't wait.) The girls requested to keep our decorations up for the rest of the week. Why not? They both cut out a bunch of 
hearts from paper scraps and I sewed them together like I've seen on several crafty blogs this year. The effect is so lovely. The hearts constantly twirl on any breath of air, and the sun shines through them from the windows. At night they are lit by the pendant light. Big aesthetic bang for zero bucks.

 My dreamy renaissance man baked cupcakes with the kids last weekend. Pink cream cheese frosting from scratch. I do love him so.

Thanks so much for all the comments on the You'll Do Valentine. That was a hoot. We had a swell Valentines Day, and I hope you all did too.  It was a day with (other than manic bag sewing) some garland making, homemade valentines, unrestrained cupcake eating (which began at breakfast), and a quiet lovey dovey family dinner at home.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

needle book

Update: There is a pattern available for this now: the Flora Needle Book pattern, available for instant download at Etsy and Craftsy.

I was tired of being jealous of my daughter's needle book, so I took matters in my own (prematurely wrinkly) hands. It's made of felt and ribbon, with a string/button closure.

I thought I'd be smart and sew in little ridges to slip the needles through. They are staggered so it doesn't make a hump in the book. I'm not sure if it is worth the extra effort. I also thought about sewing in a little tuck in the pages to do the same thing, but didn't want it to run the entire length of the page and make it lumpy in the spine.

I also need a needle cushion. I often stick needles in my pin cushion while I'm working and this is not a good idea, because:
1) I somehow always manage to push them down inside.
2) I forget they are lurking in there and they skewer my finger when I squeeze the cushion in the wrong place.
I need to make a shallow cushion with something to stop the needles poking through in the bottom. Maybe an egg cup would make a good start. I have one I thrifted a while back.

In any case, I'm so glad I don't have to store my needles like this anymore:

Monday, February 7, 2011

valentine schmalentine

Note: This printable is no longer available.
I designed a free minimal-effort card for those who are anticipating a less-than-magical Valentine's Day. At least there's the hope of chocolate.

Print on letter sized paper, fold in half longwise, then again in the opposite direction.

(If you are feeling more optimistic about the 14th, you can try the cards from 2009 and 2010.)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

valentine cozy

Had to replace the fraying silver purse with this new eggplant pleather (clearance, ka-ching) so of course it needed some valentiney goodness to complement it.


Gadget cozies are such instant gratification. It only took a few minutes to put together because I already had the stuff on hand and white thread was already loaded in my machine. This one I made with an elastic button closure so it could hang outside the purse and show off the phone love. I could also really use a hanging cozy just for kleenex inside my purse. I'm constantly digging for a tissue. Maybe next.

(This is an easy mod to my Gadget Cozy pattern. Substitute grosgrain ribbon for the bias binding loop and use graduated stacked hearts instead of the other appliques. Just sew the hearts up the middle and you're done.)