Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Summer Gardening

There are a few items that are almost always on my grocery list every time I go to the store. Cheese, peanut butter, yogurt and Triscuts to name a few. Sometime in college I discovered the awesomeness of Triscuts + cheese + salsa (known simply as TCS). It is a staple in my home, still, after several years out of college. Place a piece of cheese (I use Colby Jack) on a Triscut and place in microwave. The Triscut will stay crisp, even after being in the microwave. It doesn't take more than 30 seconds for the cheese to melt to the proper consistency. After heating, add the salsa, and eat quickly! They really are best when still warm.

Anyway, a month or so ago I grabbed a box of Triscuts. It wasn't until after I had gotten home that I realized the box was extra special! There were FREE dill seeds inside! I was filled with the same zeal I had as a child when I opened up a box of cereal to find a free toy (which also made me wonder when cereal companies stopped putting toys in their boxes?).

I have a collection of herbs that sit in my window. I never actually use the herbs (though I should) but by keeping them alive, I somehow convince myself that I am mature and responsible. I didn't have any dill, so I was even more excited to get a new herb to add to my collection.



This square piece of cardboard had to be soaked in water to allow the cardboard to be peeled apart to reveal the seeds. It's been a few weeks now, and my dill is thriving! It's been so much fun watching it grow - I feel like a proud parent!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Napkins + White Gel Pen


I had started these by doing embroidery, and quickly realized it wasn't going to work out. 1: it was going to take WAY too long and 2. the back of the embroidery would easily show, and it did not look pretty. I than remembered the gel pens (I used a Sakura Gelly Roll pen) are permanent and also easy to work with. You can also achieve more detail, especially when working small.

I had to draw somewhat slowly to make sure the line of ink wasn't breaking up, but it was much quicker than the stitching. After you draw your artwork, heat set the ink with an iron. After that it can be washed and dried and the ink will stay in place.



Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lunch Tote

Even though I was busy with other projects, I couldn't resist participating in my friend's Easter swap. I join in on projects hoping that it will somehow force me to do the things I've been wanting to do. And it worked! I had been wanting to make a lunch tote for myself (I'm a big proponent of bringing your lunch to work) and thought a lunch tote would be the perfect "basket" for a swap. I bought cloth napkins (something I had also been wanting for awhile) at Bed Bath & Beyond (12 napkins, in 6 colors for $10) and used a white jelly roll pen to spruce them up a little (the ink won't wash out). I also added a glass jar from Fishs Eddy, a sandwich container and some candy.

The most important feature I wanted the lunch tote to have was a large flat bottom - so my containers wouldn't tip over. I ended up finding two patterns out the internet and combined them. The top portion is from here, and the bottom portion is from here. There is a layer of cotton batting, and because of the way it's sewn together, it's also reversible.


I used the fabric from the "inside" to create the flower on the outside of the tote. I cut out one of the flowers in the print, and fused some fabric on the back (to add weight and stability). I ran some thread through the middle to add more dimension and also cut a flower shape out of plain fabric to add more depth and layers. I attached it to a pin back, so she can easily remove it. I used a white jelly roll pen to write her name on it. I'm sure labeling your lunch isn't as important as it was in grade school, but it seemed like a fun element to add.


I now have my own lunch tote (an owl print that is somewhat grade school-esque) and I just sent off one for my mom as a belated Mother's Day gift!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cat Nip

It seems everyone in my life has gotten a cat(s) recently, or already had them. I cannot wait for the day that I will have one or two of my own, but until than I will treat other cats as my own. I had been wanting to make cat nip toys, so my mom purchased some from her food co-op. The only downside is it comes in large quantities, and now I have a big ass bag full of cat nip (see photo below).

Now I am on a mission to come up with some clever cat nip toys I can give to my friends and family. The first toys I made were inspired by my good friend's cat Nimbus (because he looks like a fluffy gray cloud) and so I made nimbus cloud cat nip toys. He destroyed them within 24 hours, but he enjoyed them, and that's all the matters.



I had a co-worker give me some leftover fabric that was perfect for the nimbus clouds, so I gave a set to her cats as well. Spreading the cat nip love!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

American Girl doll outfit

For my niece's 5th birthday, she got to pick out an American Girl Doll. My sister and her family came down to go to the new store, and the three of us (the boys stayed at the hotel) went shopping! My obsession with these dolls has not stopped since becoming an adult, and I tried my hardest to pursue my niece to pick out Kit (check out that doll's clothes and kitchen set - they're awesome!), but in the end she picked out a My American Girl doll (that happened to look just like the Molly doll) and named her Molly.

I still remember when Santa brought me my very own AG Molly doll! She lives at my parent's home (seems too creepy to be 27 and have her in my apartment) and I used her in a photo shoot to capture the doll outfit I made for my niece's birthday. She's still in pretty good condition - though her hair could use a deep hair conditioning treatment.



I used this pattern from Mod Kid, and used fabrics from JoAnn's. Normally I don't purchase fabric from there, because the quality is cheaper and the fabric isn't as cute - but I happened to find this adorable print that was perfect for the doll outfit. Sewing tiny outfits does have it's downsides, but they are so much fun to work on and are so cute when finished!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Baby Shower Invites

The same baby shower that I made the quilt for, I also did invites. After completing them, I realized I could have created a much simpler version, but such is the downside of being creative. We aren't always practical. I made garland for it too (pictured below) which unfortunately we didn't end up using, but fortunately for me I kept it and hung it up in my bedroom - an easy way to brighten up an apartment bedroom.



It was a book themed baby shower, so I used a book-fold format for the invite (so obvious, I know) hoping it would have the feel of an actual book. I also included a removal book plate (printed on sheets of sticky label paper). I got the idea for the book plate addition from here. Everyone bought a book for the new baby girl, and this seemed like a good way for everyone to personalize them.




If you are thinking about hosting a book themed baby shower, you must check out this one created by the people at Martha Stewart. Amazing! And it even comes with free downloads!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Finally, the finished quilt!




I love the way this quilt turned out! It wasn't a difficult pattern or overly challenging, but anytime I actually finish a quilt, I feel good. Most people probably don't realize how expensive all the materials cost, and how much time really goes into making one. But, it's something that will last many, many years and will fill that person's life with warmth and love - at least that's what I like to think! Quilts are made to be used. They are the best kind of art - the functional kind.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hand stitched binding


This is one of my favorite parts of quilting. I like to hand stitch the binding on, because it gives it a clean finished look. It takes longer, but I already put so much time into it, so why not do it right?
It's really relaxing (unless you are scrambling to get it done before a baby shower) because you can sit and watch a movie and go into auto pilot. I would recommend a thimble though! My fingers were not happy with me by the end.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Quilting, continued...

I decided to go with free motion quilting on this quilt. I haven't done much of this, and it definitely takes some practice to feel really comfortable AND get good results. I have a Bernina sewing machine, and I have the #9 foot, which I used for this technique. It's different from other feet in that it doesn't sit on the fabric, and it also doesn't guide the fabric. You put the feed dogs down on your machine, and this allows you to have full control over moving the quilt around. This allows for more freedom, but also means that you have to have control over your movements! You control the speed, which means you control stitch length.


I didn't really have a plan when I started quilting. I was thinking swirls that would resemble a flower. As I was going, I started adding the scallop/petals. I love the way it turned out - and gave up on thinking it has to be perfect.


In many ways I felt this technique was much quicker than stitching in the ditch, or straight line stitching. It allows for more creative expression, and allows for the quilting to become a design as well that compliments the piecing.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Quilting

I'm so glad to be able to have hardwood floors in my apartment. Not only do they have a lot of character, but they are the perfect setup for preparing to quilt. I use masking tape to tape the back of the quilt to the floor. This allows it to stay nice and flat and helps to eliminate bunches in the fabric.

I start in the middle on the long side, move to the other long edge, than start in the middle on the short ends. I slowly move my way out until it's all secure.


I lay down the batting, and than the quilt top, making sure each is smoothed out. Than I use safety pins to pin it all on place, holding all the layers together.


After it's all together, I un-tape the back layer, and it's ready to be quilted!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The making of a baby quilt...




The top photo is the setup I had while sewing this quilt. I have my sewing machine set up on my Hoosier cabinet, which provides a decent height for sewing projects. As you can see, I'm not very organized, but there's a system amongst the chaos.

I decided on a variation of the Log Cabin Block. It was a fun quilt to work on, but it required lots of ironing between sewing. I came up with a setup that allowed me to never have to get out of my seat. Part laziness, part time management. I even kept some cereal nearby as a snack, and setup up my laptop near the cabinet to play movies as background noise/entertainment.

The key to ironing is actually pressing. Instead of moving the iron around constantly, you press for a few seconds, move a little and press some more. This allows the heat to actually set in. I also keep a spray bottle on hand, spraying the seam at the end and than pressing, which creates a very crisp, non-wrinkled seam.

I decided on open seams for this quilt, since I didn't have to butt up any seams, and also thinking that it would reduce bulk. Lots of pressing is involved. Press the threads on the sewn seam, press the fabric open and than flip the piece over and press the seam open. This is where I spray the seam with water, to create an open seam that will lay flat. It will end up looking like the last photo.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ashley & Brett


I've been busy, busy, busy working on a couple different projects for friends. Baby shower invites, a baby quilt, and wedding invites.

I've known Ashley for so long, I can't even remember when we first met. We grew up in the same neighborhood our entire childhood and our friendship survived through several different clubs and tree forts and the collection of many stink bombs (black walnuts still in their husks). How I miss those summers...

So, given our long friendship, and the fact that her and Brett are getting married 9 years after their first date (!) I couldn't resist helping them with their wedding invites.

I hand lettered their names, scanned it in at 600 dpi, cleaned it up in photoshop (I use a Wacom tablet), dragged the lettering into a 300 dpi file (to double the size) and than brought that file into Illustrator. I use LiveTrace, tracing options, 'Comic Art' preset, and than adjust the 'Corner Angle' to 60 and click the 'Ignore White' box. I usually have minor clean up to do after vectorizing, but the lettering turns out pretty clean.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

2011 Valentines




I needed to make 7 handmade Valentines for the swap, and so I decided to make origami heart envelopes for all the people in my area (about 28 people) too. I mean really, what's 28 more Valentines?! I had some leftover Neenah Eames paper (which I don't think is being sold anymore) and cut it to a 3" square. It was an easy project to do while I watched tv shows or movies online. I added a little flag for the name and put some chocolates in the back envelope portion. I found the template here.

Valentine's Post Box

The inspiration: an Italian post box!



Use or modify this template for your own post box.

My friend at work is hosting a Valentine's swap this year. The mission was to create a Valentine themed box for another person. And I had the perfect inspiration - an Italian post box!

I started with a granola cereal box, approximately 6.25" x 8.5" and a slightly larger cereal box, approximately 7.625" x 10.125". The smaller box became the basic structure, and I used the larger box to cut out the front and the raised design elements. I turned the boxes inside out (gently pulling them apart at the side seam).

I made a sketch (with tracing paper overlaying a photo of the research) and than used that as a template to cut out the shapes. Some red spray paint and a handful of hearts later, and shazam - you have a Valentine's box!

After drawing all the line work (with a permanent pen - other ink won't stick to the paint) I hot glued all the pieces together (I'm impatient and wanted an instant glue bond, plus the thickness of the hot glue helps the pieces stand higher).

Hopefully she'll be able to use the post box throughout the year, and it was a great way to recycle a cereal box.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Abigail's Apron





I made this apron and oven mitt for my niece Abigail, for Christmas. Of course when she opened it, she barely would put it on for a photo, but I like to think she'll appreciate it one day! Hopefully before she can't fit in it anymore. Though, I was able to fit my hand in the oven mitt - so maybe she'll be using it 20 years from now!

I used the pattern posted above ($1 sale at JoAnn's!) with some minor tweaks. I was somewhat limited on the amount of fabric I had, so the top ruffles were eliminated. Lesson to learn, buy fabrics with intent! It's hard matching random 1/2 yards and fat quarters of fabric together.

I also lined the oven mitt, so all the seams weren't exposed. To add a finishing touch, I added the pink ribbon to both the apron and mitt. Now, if only I can get around to making myself a full sized apron!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Hermit and Her Shell


I am officially starting the blog! I'm hoping to share crafting experiences and insights, and use this as a place to catalog the time consuming projects I get myself into. Plus, I really need another excuse NOT to exercise...