Tag Archives: sewing

Busy Bee

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Today I entered this Tuesday Brag Day on the Tip Junkie Blog… http://www.tipjunkie.com/homemade-projects-228/

Tip Junkie handmade projects

AND I also entered Wednesday’s Made By Me Linky Party on JAQS Studio… http://www.jaqsstudio.com/2012/02/made-by-me-20-linky-party.html

I have actually been very busy these days – got one project 3/4 of the way done, and have ordered fabric for two other projects – will post pictures ASAP!

Hope it has been Spring-like weather in your neck of the woods!

A hint of things to come:

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The Year for Fabric Arts

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This year I am going to focus on FABRIC. I still crochet when I am watching TV, but I want to improve my applique and quilting skills.

So far this year, I have made an owl – stuffed one mounted on a lovely piece of driftwood I found…

And, today, I finished a pillow I have worked on for some time. The centerpiece is a square from a quilt my grandmother made me over 50 years ago. The quilt got so shabby and well-loved that I, oh-so-carefully, cut it apart to use as craft projects. I found an old chintz flowered fabric for the back, and since I wanted to use a 14 inch pillow form, I used that pansy fabric around the edges of the quilt block too. Each corner of the quilt block is accented with antique lace, made by my great-grandmother, and I added small dragonflies to the corners as well, since I love dragonflies.

I am so pleased with the way it came out. Next time I make my bed (!!) I will show you how it looks with the other pillows I have made. I had so much fun making this though, that I may sabotage the pillows I made before, to create other pillows with yet another family quilt that is too ratty to use anymore.

Below is a closer look at the corners of the quilt square and of the back:

 

I really do love coming up with ideas to use the materials I have on hand – I have a serious problem with letting go of toilet paper rolls, meat trays, tin foil, old pictures, fabric scraps and much more. I honestly thought I was doing better – until I finally admitted that I was still keeping S**T, I was just HIDING it better! ROFL

What’s on your plate (or crochet hook, knitting needles, sewing machine etc.) for this year? Are you going to try any new crafts? Are you going to fine tune some old ones? Share!

Holidays are Here – Are you doing Homemade Gifting this Year?

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I am. I almost always do. My kids (30 and 31-1/2) don’t really appreciate it much, so I tried harder this year to meet their interests – or at least my daughter’s. I think I will end up buying things for my son, because homemade is definitely not his gig, unless it is out of the kitchen. Sigh.

My sisters will both get handmade gifts – as will my landlord, neighbor and the friends I share gift-giving with. I am giving gifts of charity donations this year as well, donations to my sister’s charity, Oma Village, and to a green organization that will send a magazine and ideas on living green to my recipients. Please, if you are considering charitable giving this year for your gift list, please remember, giving and doing good deeds are in the spirit of the season for most religions holiday beliefs.

Here are the crafts I have begun for giving. My daughter and I have begun, in the last few years, exchanging small gifts on each Sunday of Advent. We are behind this year, since our move has kind of gotten in the way of making things. But here is the first gift for her; a handmade Santa shelf sitter:

Pinned together ready for hand stitching

 

Blanket stitching completed

 

 

 

This pattern is based on a pattern in an older craft book I own. Called Homemade Gifts Under $10, it was published in 1998 in the Clever Crafter Series from Leisure Arts Inc.

You can see the Santa I am making on the cover

Because I am a buttonoholic my Santa only shares a pattern with the book – I have added buttons for a belt clasp, the snowflakes on the hat are buttons, and the holly leaves and berries on the hat is also a button.

Cute little guy all done!

For my favorite sister, I am making some things from the kitchen – pound cake to go with the luscious Pomegranate Sauce I am making from the pomegranates on the tree in our new back yard. I have also made her a clever little crocheted sunflower towel holder – different from the ones that cut a towel in half and crochet a topper, this one will hold any towel. The back, hanger part, will be plastic canvas. Glad to know I could find a use for all the leftover plastic canvas I have! J It comes from the same book.

^^BOOK PICTURE              ^^MY WORK

Hope your holiday season is filled joy, family and creativity!

Microcrafts – Book Review

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I love little things. I live in a little house, surrounded by my treasures, and many of them are small things tucked into my bookcases betwixt and between the books, or nestled on tables in whimsical profusion. I even have miniature dachshunds! 🙂 When I had an opportunity to review Microcrafts: Tiny Treasures to Make and Share, I jumped at it! Compiled by Margaret McGuire, Alicia Kachmar, Katie Hatz and Friends, it is a splendid look at the things you can make yourself to give as gifts, or tuck into your own bookcases.

This is one of those books where reading the How to Use This Book section is imperative. It gives you some perspective on how the book was compiled, and how to use the book to get the most out of your creative spirit. 25 projects are given in the book, all with great photos, directions, patterns and even some key tips and tricks. If you have never created in miniature before, you will be both challenged and delighted in the works you can make.

One of the things I enjoyed reading about was the things that are highly adaptable to using with children. Boats, for example, created with shells and leaves, are so reminiscent of my childhood that I can’t wait to share them with Xavier and Xander, my grandsons! The tiny creations called “Candy Charms” are delightful – earrings, necklaces, pins and more can be created with some “blobs of polymer clay…” and items you should have in your craft supplies.

I must admit that my favorite section was the one on Books. I collect miniature books, but none are as small or as clever as the little, tiny treasure books here. I don’t have all my craft supplies unpacked yet, but believe you me, making some of these are at the top of my list. Each item on the list of supplies is delineated carefully and in detail – not just a sheet of scrap paper, but one -1×1-1/8 inch sheet! There are even marvelous instructions on how to miniaturize the project even further to make tiny little earrings to match the necklace project. The actual size of the completed books is a mere 1×1-¼ inch, and the earring books are ¼ of that size! Tiny treasures indeed!

If you are a cat or dog person, there are crafts in this volume for you as well. You can create tiny dogs and cats with felt and fabric scraps – they would be great attached to Christmas presents or made into jewelry. The microtaxidermy made me laugh out loud, and the deer heads are absolutely adorable; the details and instructions make it simple even for those of us not experienced in working with polymer or modeling clay. The whimsical abounds here, and the possibilities are endless. The book has wonderful hints and tips (“Use a toothpick to apply small beads of adhesive to microcrafts without risking a giant glue blob emergency”) and appendix sections include Supplies and Techniques, Ideas for Modifying Microcrafts (adapting the instructions in the book to make the projects into jewelry, mobiles, toys and more.) There is a good column on Resources for various materials, tools and ideas.

Take the time to read the amusing and delightful miniature biographies. They will give you blog, website and contact information, and pictures of the talented designers and crafters who love working with “mini!” And don’t forget to take a look at the photo on the last page! It will make your day – and make you smile. Quirk Books and the compilers have done a terrific job in this book, so if you love creating or collecting tiny things this would be a charming book to add to your bookshelf. ENJOY!

 

Microcrafts: Tiny Treasures to Make and Share

Quirk Books, (quirkbooks.com) Philadelphia

978-59474-521-8 Hardback

 

 

NOTE: Reviewer received no compensation for her review, although a copy of the book was provided for review purposes.

Trends in Crafting

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Crafters are as subject to trends as are those who follow fashion. I thought I would share a few of the finds I have come across online that seem to be making the news with crafters who want the latest goodies!

Plant Based Fibers are really hot right now. These include hemp, soy, silk and bamboo yarns and fibers for all kinds of craft projects. There are actually many pluses to using these fibers and yarns. They are “green” and sustainable in use, are generally softer than machine created acrylic blend yarns and fibers, and some are even very suited to wash and wear type use. (Not usually silk and soy – you’ll have to check the individual properties thereof, when you purchase!) There are spinners who sell their originally spun and dyed fibers on Etsy and Artfire. Of course organic cottons continue to enthrall me, and have for years. Now, though, they are more readily available and in a wonderful variety of earthy colors and textures. Check out Ravelry if you aren’t already a (free) member – they describe and explain  many yarn types on their site.) There ARE some drawbacks to be aware of though. Many plant fibers have zero elasticity. You may find that a cotton/hemp blend might give you more flexibility. Plant-based fibers can be really expensive. For example a 50gr (88 yard) skein of Pakucho brand yarn is around $9 online plus about $4 for shipping (per skein)

Stripes seem to be back in too – in fabric, jewelry and home decor. I have seen some zigzag striping too – which was a bit scary to me! But stripes are tricky when crafting.  One fun thing to do is to make simple plate/light switch covers with scraps of striped fabric or wallpaper. Striped fabric can be great for quilting, or for making slimline skirts for yourself or a favorite girl-child. An example of Quilting with Stripes can be found on Geta’s Quilting Studio Blog. This tutorial is great if you want to try something new in Quilting! I am looking forward to trying another project from 100 Pretty Little Projects to make some striped ornaments for the holidays.

Combined/Mixed Media continues to be popular – as do Recycled Crafts. One of the hot projects is “repurposing” wool sweaters in felting projects – yet another hot craft! Using old jewelry, combined with paint or even crochet makes for some interesting eye candy! I think we will see more and more steampunk, vintage, Victorian, and fantasy themes used creatively. Because of the economy, more and more of us are reusing, and finding new uses for old things such as curtains, sheets, and clothing. I have been saving old jeans for years, and in 2012 will be starting a mega quilting project for my king sized bed, using jeans, and fabric printed with books, adding embellishments and top stitching. I expect the project to take me at least a year, so I will try to share it with you as I go along! Not until we move back to California in 42 days 17 hours and 35 minutes though!

In crochet (and some knitting, I believe) Amigurumi patterns are continuing to be a popular form of crafting. Add this to the natural, organic yarns, and I bet you will see some really creative and adorable work. For those not familiar with some of the terms in this posting, check the bottom of it for some definitions and links.

Last up on my blog today on trends is personalized, handcrafted accessories. MP3 carrying cases made of fabric, covers for laptops and tablet computing devices, diary covers, crocheted or knitted holders for hooks and needles, even original cup huggers for your hot latte, complete with a pocket for sugar packets or your frequent buyer card! Many books and websites have great patterns for these kinds of projects, or you can really dealve into your creativity and design your own!

Definitions!

Amigurumi: the Japanese art of creating crocheted or knitted stuffed animals. The word comes from a combination of the Japanese words ami, meaning crocheted or knitted, and nuigurumi, meaning stuffed doll. (Thanks WIki!) SEE PICTURE ABOVE RIGHT.

Steampunk: Refers to a time period when steam power was utilized – often thought of as Britain in Victorian times, although Steampunk is NOT Victorian in nature. It encompasses the elements of science fiction and early modern machinery (think blimps and Jules Verne for example) I think of it as alternative crafting!

This marvelous watch can be YOURS to make! Cutout and Keep has some wonderful steampunk crafts and how-tos.

Hope I gave you some ideas and inspiration for crafting!

A Belated Day THREE book review…

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Yesterday was a hectic day for me, and I didn’t get the Day THREE book review posted! Sorry! Here it is – hope you enjoy it.

I got this book from the library, but believe you me, it is going to the top of the buy-as-soon-as I-am-in-funds list! I know it is popular in certain circles to belittle or defame Martha Stewart. But true crafters appreciate her creativity, and despite the enormity of publications, products and media that she and her staff produces, she is well worth watching, reading and learning from.

Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts (Basic techniques for sewing, applique, embroidery, quilting, dying, and printing, plus 150 inspired projects from A to Z) comes with a CD, which features print-at-home patterns and templates.  The projects are clever, and the explanation and pictures with each one are detailed and thorough. The templates are necessary, so I don’t suggest the book for those without a CD player on their computer – and a printer.

Some of the projects I intend to do include Washcloth Puppets (page 132) made with a terrycloth washcloth and washable felt. So clever, and so easy!

AND, the Mason-jar Sewing Kits (page 280) which will make wonderful gifts.

(NOTE: Please remember that these are copyrighted pictures/photos, the property of the authors, photographers and/or publisher, and as such are displayed for review purposes only. Please do NOT copy or distribute!)

Whether you are an accomplished seamstress/tailor, or a novice, you will really get a lot of knowledge from this book. It isn’t called an encyclopedia for nothin’! Right after Martha’s introduction, there are four separate sections in the “Getting Started” segment. These include – fabric glossary, thread glossary, setting up a sewing area and good things for sewing.

Last, but definitely not least, the end of the book brings the reader to:

  • tools and materials
  • tips and extra techniques
  • CD patterns and templates
  • sources
  • buyer’s guide
  • projects by technique

As always, should you do some projects from the book, please send me pictures to post on the blog!

It’s a GOOD THING! 🙂

Book Reviews – a Trio of Treasures – DAY ONE!

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I am going to do mini reviews this week on three books recently read. First up, Fabric-by-Fabric One-Yard Wonders 101 Sewing Projects Using Cottons, Knits, Voiles, Corduroy, Fleece, Flannel, Home Dec, Oilcloth, Wool, and Beyond by Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins.

I read this book on my Adobe Digital Reader, and I will have to say, up front, that reading craft books via an e-reader of any kind is an exercise in frustration for me. In this instance, it actually means I cannot give a full honest appraisal of the book’s usefulness, or the patterns (which are provided in an attached envelope in the real hard cover book) because reading a book this way is not conducive to a hands-on approach. Other books I have read and reviewed in this format were actually similarly difficult, (Simply Great Breads and the Crocheted Prayer Shawl Companion) because you cannot print books you get via this medium, for review. In the latter instances, I just kept my computer handy and referred to it as I crocheted or baked. Fabric-by-Fabric One-Yard Wonders unfortunately does not lend itself to that kind of use. Nonetheless, I can tell you about the book’s strong points, and writing style!

Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskins have written another best-selling fabric book, One-Yard Wonders: 101 Sewing Fabric Projects; Look How Much You Can Make with Just One Yard of Fabric! I have not read that one, but get the sense that this one is more detailed insofar as it deals with different types of fabric, how they handle, the tools needed to cut and sew on different fabrics. Chapter 1 starts with Fabric Fundamentals, which was quite useful, whether you are an experienced seamstress/tailor, or a beginner. It gives you guidance on how to get the best from your sewing machine, what kind of needles to use for different fabrics, and details on presser feet, tension and thread weights. Good basic stuff, handy to have in one place. This chapter also has an excellent list of 31 Equipment Must-Haves.

The remaining chapters “take on” each kind of fabric, providing a pattern and tips on working with cotton, wool, knits etc. The patterns are illustrated with sketches, as well as photographs of the completed project. There is an excellent Glossary at the end of sewing and fabric terms, which, whatever your skill level, is really handy to have at your fingertips.

If I had had the actual book and patterns, there are several I would have tried, including the adorable Hedgehog Bookends or the adorable Knight in Shining Armor. (NOTE: Please remember that these are copyrighted pictures/photos, the property of the authors, photographers and/or publisher, and as such are displayed for review purposes only. Please do NOT copy or distribute!) From Hats to Belts to Scarves, this has some unusual ideas for fabric and sewing. If you have kids, and/or teens, there are projects in here that would be right up their alley! (LOVE those Clichés!Cliches!)

The Bottom Line? I liked it, I really liked it! I would not give it full marks because I was unable to test the patterns myself, but the layout, ideas and writing are great. This book will not be published until mid December, 2011, so that I don’t think it will do for making Christmas gifts for this year, but plan ahead for next year, or better yet, give the book as a gift!

Enjoy!