Sunday, December 16, 2012

Leather Sketchbook Cover, with Pocket

 A recent whimseybox contained a piece of soft leather (approximately 8.5 x 11"), and some metal studs.

I have looked at the box contents pretty regularly, but was undecided on what to do. I knew I wanted to paint on it—but on what?

 After rejecting a variety of ideas (maybe purse straps for a sewn purse? or a purse bottom? but this leather is so soft it's almost suede, and will get filthy fast; maybe I would use a clutch? nope...; a bracelet or 4? no, this soft leather doesn't have the body of a stamped leather bracelet) and some pinterest searches, I settled on a basic wallet and/or sketchbook cover. And, I would use every piece of the leather!

Cutting guide
First, I squared up my piece of leather. Then, I cut the piece in half, so I had two 8.5 x 5.5 pieces. One of these became the main body piece. The other I cut into three pieces, each 5.5" wide—one 2.5" long, one 3" long, and the rest became the pocket flap.

 I first sewed on the sketchbook-holding flap, using binder clips to hold it in place, and the teflon foot on my sewing machine (and a size 90 stretch needle, as specified by my machine). Then came the pocket body, and then the pocket flap. Then I hand sewed the snap in place (a vintage snap from my grandmother's sewing basket).

Inside, with notebook and pencil
Next up was the painting, which was much more difficult than I expected—it took so much paint for the paint to show. I don't know if it is the soft texture of the leather, the acrylic paints, the brush I chose, or operator incompetence. I did the outside, waited an hour or so, and then the inside. Then I let both sides dry completely overnight.

Pocket snap and inside painting
The next morning I chose a piece of ribbon for the tie (part of the whimseybox packaging!). I then cut two slits for the ribbon to go through, and where a pencil can go.  After threading the ribbon through, I "painted" the ends with fraycheck.

Supplies and finished project
I want to put a small sketchbook in this, but all I could find was the small composition notebook at CVS (and all they had was red or blue!). An eraser, colored pencils, or cash and ID can fit into the pocket.

Thanks to the following sites for inspiration:
Vintage Craft Studio on flickr
the Kenton Sorenson wallet
World of Pineapple leather tips and tricks
Martha Stewart's leather crafts

Linked to:
Sew Darn Crafty

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Winter Coasters

Winter-themed coasters

 A recent Whimseybox included 2 unfinished tiles, a small bottle of modpodge, and a foam brush.

I have been thinking about making coasters, but finally pulled together my idea. Winter! Now that I have finally had to wear a scarf a couple of times, it finally feels wintery around here.Which means tea! And hot apple cider!

First, I painted the coasters with blue water color (of the cheap-o kid variety, it's what I had). I wanted this to look uneven, like the sky. I also painted part of a card, for cutting shapes.
Painted coasters, and a card for cutting.
What shapes? Snowflakes!
Snowflakes, mid-modpodge.
I cut some snowflakes, modpodged the coasters, and stuck a few on. Then modpodged over them.

Next, I cut 2 pieces of blue tulle that came in a past whimseybox. I wanted to add some texture—but not too much, because coasters and texture don't really mix. I put the layer down, added more modpodge, and then added a few more cut shapes, and more modpodge. And then a sprinkling of Crystal Snow superfine white glitter. My coasters need sparkle!

Paint, shapes, tulle, more shapes, glitter, beginning to dry.
After leaving them overnight to dry, I turned them upside down and trimmed the tulle—the coaster itself was the straightedge.

 The next day, I cut some oversized pieces of light blue felt I had on hand, modpodged the bottom of the tiles, and stuck the felt on. Then, I felt like they needed something else. I found 2 different snowflake stamps in my drawer, and silver and platinum ink pads. The coaster on the left has platinum, the right one has silver. (Tip: when using cheap-o kids foam stamps, don't press too hard! They collapse. Oops.)

I left them overnight again, to dry completely. On day 3, I trimmed the felt, and then sprayed the tops with 2 coats of acrylic sealer.

Done! With all supplies (except for tulle and felt).

Now I need a cup of tea!

Monday, September 10, 2012

What I Want to Be Doing...and What I Have Been Doing

What I want to be working on:

Looptastic Mini Quilt from class with Elizabeth Hartman

What I have been working on:

4th grader's uniform pants—4 of these!


Last August I bought E-man 5 pair of uniform pants and 1 pair of shorts. He never touched the shorts, and then in March I had to get 3 more pair of pants because of the ripped knees (and it is always the left knee). I believe I cut off the others and gave them to Goodwill (since E refused to wear shorts.

It has been so hot since school started. (I mean so hot—at 6:40 this morning it was 80° inside.) At least he and his brother gets to sit in classrooms with a/c, while I broil at home. So, he finally tried his shorts, which thanks to the adjustable waist fit just fine. He now only wants shorts, so I got his 3 ripped pair out of the drawer. Finished them (there are only 2 in the bottom picture because he was wearing the other pair at school.) Then he found another pair of pants in some drawer that would last maybe 1 or 2 more wearings before being ripped too. So, now I have done 4 pair. I can now do 1 pair in 15 minutes, yay me.

Linked to: Sew Darn Crafty Week 82

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Sewing Finish

In spite of the directions, I managed to finish my teddy bear today.

Yesterday's post addressed the issues I had with the directions for the front of the bear (ears, hands, 2 front body pieces, and embroidering the face).

Last night I worked on the back—the two back pieces, and the leg paws. Then I redid the leg paws today. I'm still not happy, but am not enough of a sewer to know a better way to do this.

So, those legs. The directions simply state "Sew the feet paw accent pieces onto each leg following step 2c instructions." Step 2c refers to the ears, "Fold the bottom of the ear accent pieces under 1/4" and press. Position the ear accent pieces right-side-up over the ears on the right side of the bear front. Topstitch in place to close the fold."

This was how I did the ears. The bottom if topstitched down, the rounded top was topstitched, which was then sewn into the hem when the front and back were attached.

But this made no sense for the feet. Topstitch down when the leg seams are already sewn? How is that physically possible, unless sewing by hand? ON top of it, the foot paw accent pieces are huge.

First, I tried sewing them on, trimming the excess fabric that did not fit into the smallish foot opening. This resulted in two very different sized paw accents. Oops!

I ripped, and re-cut the foot accent. This time I basted around the paw accent, tightening up the piece. I then pinned it in, intentionally creating puckers. Which worked, but resulted in these puffy feet.

Interestingly, the photo in the book shows no topstitching on the ears or the foot accents. It must have been sewn an earlier version of the pattern. Apparently the text was not updated.

This was intended to be a Christmas present for my aunt. I am a little frustrated by the ugly puffy feet, but have a few months to sit on this idea.

Bear back

Linked to:
Sew Darn Crafty
Fabric Tuesday 100

Monday, August 13, 2012

Plodding through a difficult pattern...

Well, in spite of a day and a half of frustration, he is looking cute. The pattern is Teddy Bear from Joel Dewberry's Sewn Spaces.

I cannot find any errata online for this book. None of the patterns even show up in a search on Pattern Review!

So far:
• The pattern calls for 3/4 yard of the main fabric. I had a yard (the minimum purchase at Sew Modern for a 40% off fabric), and I still could not get my pieces on at the same angle for the pattern—but it is pretty close. The book example shows a directional print, so obviously someone took the time to line it up right—but they had more than 3/4 yard!
• There are no grain lines shown on the pattern
• Front and back pieces are both labelled back
• The pocket pattern piece shows a dart. Which is not mentioned in the directions. Now that I have the pocket on, I see the point of the dart. I have already ripped this off once though, because the directions' idea of "bottom" and my idea were different. I am not sure the pieces would survive another taking apart. See bullets 1 and 2 above.
• There are no hints as to where the face should be embroidered. I am really bad at this sort of thing. I think my eyes might not be in the same place

I am finished with the front. And am proceeding very slowly.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Owl Eyes Mini Quilt

Last weekend (August 5) I took an all-day workshop with Elizabeth Hartman of Oh, Fransson! at Sew Modern. I have been so excited for this class--I actually called and signed up as soon as I got the email announcement. And then made various piles of my scraps. And moved them around. And started over. And changed my mind again. And so forth.

Owl Eyes mini quilt
In the class we started two mini versions of quilts from Elizabeth's book Modern Patchwork: Owl Eyes and Looptastic. These two quilts use very different methods of applique. I prefer the method used in Owl Eyes (at least for constructing the quilt top—the quilting was difficult!). So I also managed to get that mini finished up today.

Backing/binding fabric

I ended up using Insul-Bright as the batting in this quilt, because I am going to use it as a hot pad on my kitchen counter. I have been thinking of making something like this for months, as when the 12-year-old makes cookies and I am making dinner, I always end up with too many hot things for my stovetop, and my poor formica counter can't take anything. Which means I end up making a mishmash of cork trivets and potholders to handle the bar cookie pan or whatever i think might be the coolest of the hot things.

For the quilting I did a simple random free motion loop. Which got to be a bit messy, because every time I stitched up onto the appliques, the machine would slow down. I don't know if this is because of the applique layers, or the zigzag applique stitch itself, or the Insul-Bright. But I chose to not stress about the resulting large stitches. If I had, I would still be working on this.

My quilting needs more practice—an ongoing theme
There is not much cooking going on these days, however. It has been 85° in the kitchen every afternoon lately. Not that that stopped me from having the iron on....

Around the shoot

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Elizabeth Hartman Workshop

Last weekend I took a workshop with Elizabeth Hartman , from Oh, Fransson! In one day we started two mini quilts of two designs (Owl Eyes and Looptastic) from her Modern Patchwork book.

It was a great day--nice people, fabric-y goodness, awesome irons at Sew Modern (for those of us using an iron with no steam while waiting for a Bed Bath and Beyond coupon to show up...yup that's me), and no kids begging for food.

Me with my Owl Eyes mini and Elizabeth!
These two quilts use very different methods for the applique. I prefer Owl Eyes myself, thus it will definitely be finished. I have actually promised at Amy's One Week One Thing Challenge.

I even know what this mini is going to be! I have been meaning to make an insulated mat to sit on my (formica) counter. I don't have enough space on my cooktop to cook and have cookies and a roast sitting there too, cooling. So, this is it. Perfect size, and I thought of it in time to put Insul-Bright in as the batting. Yay!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Spiced Fig Preserves

While the boys were at tae kwon do last night, I decided to do something with the figs coming ripe on our tree. Our tree is a mystery white variety, and I find them a bit tasteless.

The birds had started on some of the ripest figs, but there were plenty left (4 pounds worth). But the fig beetles aren't out yet, so there are actual whole ripe figs (yay!).

I made up a recipe using about 4 online ones as guides. The labels came from All About Orange. I used the blank label, printed on full-page stickers on my inkjet printer, then covered in contact paper and cut out with my circle cutter.

Spiced Fig Preserve

3.75 pound washed, de-stemmed figs
4.5 cups sugar
4 cups water
3T lemon juice
1.5 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
.5 t ground cloves
.75 t vanilla extract

Chop figs, there will be about 9 cups worth. Set aside. Put water and sugar in large Dutch oven, cook until sugar dissolves. Add figs, lemon juice, spices, and extract. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a heavy simmer. Cook down for about 45 minutes, mixture will thicken, and be about 200°. Put in sterilized jars, water bath process 10 minutes.

More figs!

Linked to: Sew Darn Crafty

Monday, July 16, 2012

Red Scarf

It took me three years, but  finally got my act together and finished the Emerald Scarf from the spring 2009 Interweave Crochet. In plenty of time for fall! Done in Valley Yarns 2/14 Alpaca Silk in Really Red. Full details on Ravelry.

Linked to: Sew Darn Crafty

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Vacation Shadowbox

2011 vacation highlights
Now that it's summer 2012, I have finished my 2011 vacation shadowbox—and given that all the stuff I saved from our 2010 vacation is still in a bag, I did good this time! (I did have to wait and wait and wait for my husband to email me some of his pictures from his laptop, as some of his were much better than mine.)

The shadowbox itself is about 16" x 20" (display is slightly less). I cut a piece of foamcore to fit, and got a map of California at AAA. Then I used Scotch photo mount to attach the map to the foamcore, and trimmed.

Next I traced our route in highlighter. I used small tags and map pins to mark the significant places.

Then I had to go through my bag of stuff—maps, info sheets, campground paperwork, rocks, tickets, and miscellaneous random things—to choose the best. This was actually really fun, if difficult. I forgot that kid 2 completed junior ranger at both parks we visited, and forgot I had saved a feather. I picked about 15 pictures and had prints made.

I got out my newish circle cutter (bought at Michael's with a coupon, as yet unused), and began arranging everything and cutting pictures as needed. I used double-sided dimensional papercrafting sticky squares to give dimension. To attach the rocks I used jewelry wire (and a needle to poke holes through the foamcore). I twisted the wire together on the back, and then taped over it to (hopefully) not damage anything—like the table I was working on.

This was a fun project, and it was even more fun to be running 10 months behind. I got to revisit the trip. And now the boys are begging to go back to Carson City.

Some of the goodies
Why is there a picture of a bug? That's a 10-lined June beetle. They are an inch or more in length, and many immolated themselves in our campfire at Grover Hot Springs State Park. Kid 2 hid in the tent when they came out. The Stellar's jay feather came from the same campsite—they were everywhere, and they are one of my favorite birds. The pumice Kid 2 found along the trail from Devil's Postpile to Rainbow Falls (national forest land, for the sticklers out there). Again, it was everywhere—coming right out of the ground, which was pretty cool.

The shadowbox is now hanging in our entryway.

Linked to Sew Darn Crafty.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Casserole Carrier

All closed up

Velcro closures
I bought this fabric at Sew Modern (on sale, at the storefront)  few months ago just for this project. And then I determined to finish a skirt first. So, a couple of weeks ago I finally got to this. The skirt? It's done, in theory. I am not really happy with it, and have a plan to add a couple of hooks and eyes to see if I can fix it. Basically, at this point, it makes me look old and fat.

This casserole carrier, on the other hand, does not. It makes me look like I am going to a potluck. Which I have been both times I have used it, ta-da! The pattern is a tutorial from 2 Little Hooligans. I pretty much just followed the tutorial—though I was sure to pay attention to the directions my patterns were facing. I also have not added the spoon holder yet. So far I have actually only used it to keep deviled eggs cold—so I haven't tried it out on heat, now with anything requiring a spoon. When you have six chickens and a 12-year-old who has decided he no longer likes eggs (except in cookies), deviled eggs quickly become your go-to potluck food. And who doesn't like deviled eggs? (Both of my kids.)

I have washed it once, and it came out fine. Woot!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Second Teacher Gift—Done!

Cowl wrapped

I finally finished the second teacher's gift I had to get done. Actually, I finally started it, as this pattern (Radicowl by Tracy St John, in Tangled magazine) is so quick getting it done is no problem.

And there are still two more weeks of school!

Cowl, not wrapped
Linking to: Sew Darn Crafty

Monday, May 14, 2012

Whimseybox Mother's Day Gifts

Mini canvas gifts

April's Whimseybox included one 4" x 4" mini canvas—and as Mother's Day was staring me down from the calendar, I realized this would make a perfect small gift. I just needed two more. Off to the local art store—where, of course, they only had one left, so I went with a 4" x 5" as well.

Since most of my crafting involves yarn or fabric, my mind tends to go blank when looking at a blank canvas. I also don't have a huge stash of crafty goodies to work with, since all the crafty goodness in an art or craft stores makes me want everything—so I buy nothing.

So, with my Whimseyboxes (and looming deadline) as inspiration,  set to work. Two grandmas, 1 great-grandma, and 2 kids and 1 husband who must also be involved in some way.

The Flowers

Made with two colors of Sculpey (from the January box). The pink flower was cut with a Pampered Chef cookie/cheese cutter thing I have never used for its intended purpose. The leaf and stem were made using one of the stencils in the April box. We all put our fingerprints in the pink flowers. After baking the prints did not seem as obvious, I think the shininess of the unbaked clay threw better shadows. Bummer!
Leaf and stem from the stencil

Flowers ready for baking
Can you see the fingerprints?

The Canvas

With two colors of paint from the January (yellow) and April (turquoise) boxes, I decided to try out both colors. I painted the outside of the frame with the pure color, then painted the front with watered down paint, and blotted with a paper napkin. This worked great with the turquoise, but only so-so with the yellow.
Painting—(cat food can is perfect for watered down paint!)

The Writing

I wrote "Happy Mother's Day" with my awesome ballpoint glue pen, then poured glitter (February box) over it. When I came back to it, I simply dumped the extra glitter into the trash, and used one of the stencil brushes (April) to brush away the glitter I couldn't blow off.

After dumping, blowing, brushing the extra glitter away

I glued the Sculpey pieces on with GS Hypo Cement. And then we all signed with the magenta skinny Sharpie that came in the March box. I also wrote a small note around the back of each piece. Then I wrapped each in a piece of tissue paper (from various boxes), packed them up with notes, and off to the post office was I!

Linking up: Sew Darn Crafty

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Happy Halloween!

In May!

Witches Workshop Sampler pattern, F&P Sept/Oct 2005
It's finally, finally done. I think I started it in...2005. Maybe 2006. I originally intended to do the neat spider-y edge in the magazine, but you know what? I have a certain boy who loves curling up under any sort of blanket or quilt. And a curvy edge is not practical for a lap quilt. And a straight edge is much easier too ;)

Now I get to start something new! First I have to decide what. So many choices...