Monday, April 30, 2012

Chococat Pouch

The "I Love Cats or Dogs Swap" is just winding down on Craftster, and I made this cute little zippered pouch for my partner.  She has two black cats, and she loves things that are kawaii, so I immediately thought of Hello Kitty's friend, Chococat!

I make the Chococat patch by printing an image from the computer, cutting it out and tracing the different parts onto wool felt.  I hand-sewed all of the parts of the cat, then machine-sewed the patch onto the front panel before assembling the pouch.

My partner's favorite colors are hot pink and turquoise (hey, me too!) so I gave the pouch a turquoise lining.

I finished it off with a kitty charm for a zipper pull.  My partner loves it!  On Wednesday I'll show you the dog-related items I made for her (yes, she loves dogs too!)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Something New!

I made something new this week:  a full-sized ladies' wallet!  I'm really excited about it, because I've always intended to work up a design for a wallet, and this came out great!

See, on the left side it has a long slot for bills, and behind that is a long zippered pocket.  On the other side are six slots for cards.  A lot of wallets have the card slots facing upwards, towards the open side of the wallet, and I don't like that--I'm afraid a credit card could fall out unnoticed.  I designed this so the card slots and the bills pocket face the fold of the wallet, so when it is closed and snapped shut, nothing can fall out.

Why did I make it?  Because, when I was in Arkansas last week, I got an order on Etsy for this cupcake purse (below); the lady who ordered it says she is CRAZY for cupcakes!

She requested the long, single strap (instead of the two shorter straps I usually put on my bags)--which is no problem; then she asked if I make wallets to match my purses?   Well...I thought about it and decided that just because I haven't done it before doesn't mean I can't do it!   I said I would be happy to make a matching wallet.

As soon as I got home from my trip, I got working on it.  Past experience has shown me that any time I design something new, it isn't really good until I make the third one.  I didn't want to waste the limited cupcake fabric making the first two "practice" wallets, so I used this blue lollipop fabric instead (I have a lot of it for some reason!)   The blue wallet in this picture is the third one--sure enough, the first two were not good!

I was very happy with this blue wallet, so I went ahead and made my customer's wallet in the cupcake fabric.  I've sent her the purse and wallet, and she should be receiving them today.

I have just started using the blue one in my own (non-matching!) purse, so I can test it in action.  If I am totally satisfied with it, I will add it to my Etsy inventory.  It's so exciting to do something new!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

We Forked and Talked, Part 2--The Goodies!

In my last post, I left you in suspense about the contents of the big yellow bags we each received at the Fork and Talk event in Little Rock last Saturday (hosted by Craft Gossip and sponsored by EK Success Brands.)  Let me show you everything I got, starting with the bag!  It is one of those big, reuseable shopping bags; I never have enough of these!

We got this nice assortment of scrapbooking supplies; most of the items pictured below are stickers (yes, even the ones that look like cake decorations!), but there is also a large package of ephemera, and some beautiful Martha Stewart glitter.

We also received three heavy-duty paper punches in different designs, several rubber stamps, and a large ink pad.  My favorite in this group is the stamp set on the far left; you can use it to turn index cards into recipe cards, and the food images on the stamps are really cute!

Then, there were the two embroidery kits (in the back); one makes a pillow and the other is for embroidering kitchen towels (I love that one!)  There was also a kit to make a ring, and the item in the foreground is a finished flower clip to put on your bag or shoe or shirt.

Yes, there's more!  We all got a great set of perler beads, some Martha Stewart pie-shaped boxes for goodies (not just pie!), and a big, wonderful pad of scrapbooking paper.  I will use that for all kinds of things other than scrapbooking (which I don't do!)

The picture below shows my favorite thing in the bag: an American Girl Crafts kit, containing a nice wooden box, and lots of  stencils and paints to decorate it with.  I know I will have fun with this, but I can't guarantee mine will come out looking like the picture (I have a feeling mine will include weird things glued all over it!!)

I'm showing you this "Java" kit last (below), because we were all asked to evaluate it.  We started working on it at the Fork and Talk event after the lunch, and it was a good group activity since we could chat while we sewed.  The kit includes pre-cut felt pieces to make a coaster and a coffee cup cozy, and the thread.  It should also include directions and a needle--but my kit was lacking these!!  One of the ladies at my table was kind enough to let me borrow her needle for a while so I could get started on mine.

The kit is well-thought-out and easy to do.  The instructions give you the basics, then advise you to look at the picture to decide which color thread to sew where--I like that, because I hate to read directions! 

This would be a good kit for any beginning sewist, young or old (although I don't think many young girls drink coffee, but they could make this as a gift for an adult.)  I hope that a person who starts sewing with this kit would use the experience as a stepping-stone to explore other ways of using felt, and fabric, and sewing in general.

Just before everyone left the restaurant, we posed for a group photo.  I'm in the back on the right.  I love this picture!  It captures the happiness and energy we all felt from spending time with other crafty-minded women!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

We Forked, We Talked...

I just got back from my weekend in Little Rock, Arkansas, where I attended the second blogger's meet-up, called "Fork and Talk", hosted by the website Craft Gossip and sponsored by EK Success Brands on Saturday.  I had so much fun!  Since I had also attended the Fork and Talk in September, seeing the editors and many of the same bloggers was like meeting up with old friends!

The meeting took place in a private dining room at the classy Trio's restaurant.  I took the picture below facing the mirrored wall, so you can see the whole dining room.  This was before we started. That's the quilting editor, Scarlett, seated at the table.

Needlework editor Denise got things started, then we went around the room and each blogger told a little about herself.

When it was my turn to speak, I showed off my Scrappy Snappy Pouches, because they were such a hit when they were featured on Craft Gossip last fall!

I sat next to Suzy, whom I have kept in touch with since the last meet-up (she has joined Craftster and we have been craft-swap partners); she announced that she is expecting her first baby in December!  Congrats, Suzy!!!

We had a lovely lunch, with our choice of five selections from Trio's menu.  (The "I Heart" buttons I made and handed out to everyone were a big hit!  You can see that I had some left over, so they are posing with my menu!) 

I had the Quiche Lorraine--YUM!

We played a fun game:  each table was given an 8" x 10" photograph of the editor at that table, and we gave the photo a makeover!  Here are the editors posing with their photos.  And the winner is...

SCARLETT, at my table!  We won--again!  I was at her table last time too!!

Everyone at the table got to choose a prize, and I was quick to snatch up this vintage embroidered tablecloth that Scarlett had brought.  She has encouraged me to get crafty with it--so I am going to cut into it when I am brave enough!  I'll show you the results when that happens!

As things were winding down, we each got a packet containing everyone's business card, so we can find each other on-line and keep in touch.

And for the grand finale...we each got a BIG BAG OF GOODIES from EK Success Brands!  I am going to keep you in suspense about what's inside...check back on Thursday, when I reveal the contents!

Thanks so much, Craft Gossip and EK Success Brands, and especially to the four editors who worked so hard to make the afternoon a fun success:  Denise Felton (needlework editor), Scarlett Burroughs (quilting editor), Anne Weaver (sewing editor), and Stacie de Klerk (jewelry editor).  It was fantastic!

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Blog is a Book!

If you have a blog, you are probably aware that there is at least one place you can go online to have your blog content turned into a book.  I decided to give it a try, and I had all my blog posts from 2011 printed and bound so I could give the book to my mom, who doesn't use a computer.

I used Blog 2 Print after seeing one of their ads online.  The process was easy but pricey--it costs around $50 for one copy!  The price goes up if you choose a hard cover, or if you have a lot of pages.  I chose the soft cover and my number of pages was included in the basic price.  I searched online for a coupon, so I ended up paying only $45.  I wouldn't have done it for myself, but I want to be able to share my blog with my mother, and this seemed like a great way to do that.

The front cover (above) doesn't please me as much as the back cover (below).  The small image I saw on the website as I chose the background for the covers didn't help me that much!  I would have used a picture with a dark background for the front cover if I had known better.  They offer a lot of different cover colors and designs, so if I ever decide to do this again I will choose my cover photos to coordinate better with the cover.

Here's a glimpse at the inside pages.  I chose the space-saving option of having the text run along the side of the pictures.  Although it is different than the actual layout of my blog, I think it looks fine, and it kept me below the number of pages that would have cost more!

Everything in all of my posts is included, but the reader comments are not.  That's too bad, because the comments add a lot!

If I do this again, I think I will pay the extra $10 for the hard cover.  After paying $45, I want my book to last!

I'm on my way to Little Rock, Arkansas this weekend for the Craft Gossip Fork and Talk event; conveniently enough, that's where my mother lives, so I will be visiting her and giving her this book!  (Of course, my mom is the real reason I travel to Arkansas regularly; it is a great bonus that I can schedule my trip to coincide with this blogger's meet-up.)   I will post again on Tuesday; see you then!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Felt Badge Display

Here's what I made for my partner in the Felt Badge Swap at Craftster.  She likes trees, poppies, and the color orange.  I made this badge using wool felt, embroidery floss, and seed beads:

I loved it so much I decided to make one for myself in my favorite colors:

I'll tell you a secret:  every part of the felt is hand-cut, except the flowers.  I used a leather punch for those!  It is similar to a paper punch, but it has six different sizes of holes to choose from.  I don't think I would have been able to hand-cut perfect 1/8" circles!

The back is covered with a second pink felt oval, and the two are blanket-stitched together.

Now that I have a pretty good collection of felt badges, I need to display them.  I found this cool shadow box at a bookstore; it is really just a bulletin board under glass.  It measures 9" x 12".

The top swings open easily, and it closes with a magnet.  I just arranged my badges and pinned them in place.

All ready to hang on the wall (it has picture hangers already installed on the back.) 

I bought a larger one too, so when my collection expands, I can transfer them to a larger home!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Craft Gossip Invitation!

I've gotten my invitation!  On Friday I will travel to Little Rock, Arkansas, to attend the second "Fork and Talk" blogger's meet-up, hosted by editors of the website Craft Gossip, and sponsored by EK Success Brands (which produces crafting supplies and kits, including Martha Stewart and American Girl Dolls).

I attended the first Fork and Talk last September.  Since then I've had several of my projects featured on the Craft Gossip website, which has really helped to boost my readership, and inspired me to constantly work to make my blog as interesting as possible.  I love Craft Gossip!  Since I also love making little crafty things and giving them away, and I know all the other bloggers at the meet-up love Craft Gossip too, I decided to make pin-back buttons to bring with me and distribute to everyone at Fork and Talk next Saturday.

I got this wonderful button-making machine for my birthday last year.  It makes high-quality buttons, and I've discovered that I can be very creative with them--often I print words from the computer, like I did for these buttons, but I can also draw a tiny piece of art and turn it into a button.

The words are printed on pretty scrapbook paper, and the hearts are stickers (I started out cutting each little heart from was taking too long, so it was stickers to the rescue!)

I'll be blogging all about it next week--I can't wait to see what new products will be in the swag bags--I'll show you everything, and I just might be giving some of it away to readers!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

I was pleased and honored last week when Charlene at t'was brillig and gave my blog the Liebster Blog Award!  Thanks, Charlene, I appreciate it!

What is this award?  My impression is that is it just a fun way for bloggers to draw attention to small blogs (under 200 followers) that they enjoy reading.  There are some "strings" attached--the blogger who accepts this award must do the following:

1.  Thank the person who have you the award.
2.  Link back to their blog.
3.  Copy and paste the Liebster award to your profile.
4.  Pick 5 blogs that you feel deserve to be in the spotlight (they must have 200 followers or under).
5.  Blog about it and leave a comment for your nominations to let them know that you have chosen their blog.

I am happy to announce my five choices for this award.  Here they are, in no particular order:

1.  For Excellence in the Field of Photography:  Susan at The Sloppy Sewer.  She is a busy career woman, so she doesn't have time to blog frequently, but when she does, it's worth reading!  I especially love her photo essays.

2.  For Excellence in the Fields of Home Decor and General Crafting:  Suzy at unRuffled.  She has a lot of projects that she has done in her new home, and recently she has branched out to show us some knitting, sewing, and craft swaps.

3.  For Excellence in the Fields of Beading and Sewing:  Rebecca at Crafty Mama Beads.  She makes amazing beaded jewelry, and she sews up a storm!

4.  For Excellence in the Field of Cooking: Peggy at  Pork Chop Tuesday.  She shares recipes she's tried for her family, and she tells it like it is! 

5.  For Excellence in the Field of Embroidery:  Sewphie at Threadhead.  Her skill and creativity with embroidery needle and thread are amazing!

Please visit these talented women at their blogs--you will be glad you did!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Octo-Bear Update

Thanks to all who left comments about yesterday's "Octo-Bear" post.  Since a couple of you are interested in knowing how it was constructed, I have good news:  I'm going to make another one, and take lots of pictures, and show you how I did it!  All secrets will be revealed sometime within the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Different Kind of Stuffie

Every month on Craftster there is a Birthday Craft Swap; March was my birthday month, so I joined the swap!  Everyone who joined posted a list of things they would like to receive, and the other people in the swap could choose to craft anything on anyone's list.  The only requirement was that you "claim" at least one item to craft during the month.

I made two claims, and I've already shown you the pink and gray Kindle Cover.  The other thing I made was a little outside my comfort zone as far as style goes, but it was right up my alley in that it was a stuffed toy.  I present to you:  Octo-bear!

 Usually I go all uber-cute when I'm making stuffies, but this one wasn't for me, so I had to make it to my partner's liking.  She had a creature very much like this on her Pinterest, with a teddy-bear for the top part; I used my Mystery Critter pattern for that.  I gave it a zipper for a mouth to make it look scarier, but that wasn't quite enough, so as a final, touch I gave it the scowling eyebrows--THEN it had the proper demeanor!

I had some black and white checkerboard fleece that worked great for the legs; they are stuffed with fiberfil and have heavy wire all the way to the end so they can be posed any way.  Sewing the legs to the body turned out to be very simple (I had worried about it and thought it through a LOT!)  For the finishing touch, I tied a ribbon around it's neck with a key and a coin bearing the words "secret" and "unique". 

My partner said it was the best stuffie ever, so I guess I got it right!  I learned from this swap that I can be flexible with my style when I need to be--that's nice to know.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bedankt, Wendie!

I got the nicest surprise in the mail today--Wendie K., who won two of the prizes in my Seven Days of Giveaways last month, sent me this awesome handcrafted "thank you" package!  Wendie lives in The Netherlands, and we met in a Craftster swap.  We were swap partners, so I already know how talented she is with a needle and thread!

This kitty eating a fish pouch is on my Wist.  Look at the perfect fabric she used on the inside--it has little fish on it!!

I love needlebooks, and this one is so pretty; I love these colors!

On the handmade card, Wendie wrote "bedankt Leslie"; I don't know Dutch, but I can tell that means "thank you".  You're welcome, Wendie, and "bedankt" to you!  I truly appreciate this thoughtful package and I will enjoy using my kitty pouch and needlebook.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Seven More Bags

About two months ago I was contacted by Dale at Dale's Floral Designs in Warsaw, Virginia (about two hours away from where I live).  She had bought one of my zippered purses here in Williamsburg a while ago--it's the frog purse I blogged about HERE--and she liked it so much she wanted to sell my bags in her store.  Her little town doesn't offer much in the way of shopping, which is probably why her floral business is doing so well that she is expanding, and she wants to carry gift items, like my bags.

Since I am not actively marketing my bags at the moment, I didn't have anything to offer Dale in the way of a catalog to order from, so she decided to make a trip to a fabric store to look for fabrics that would make good bags.  She knows the themes that would appeal to customers in her area, but she admits she didn't really know what she was doing when she was choosing fabric!  She's more of a flower person!

Dale sent me seven different prints and asked me to make one bag from each.  I used her fabrics for the front and pockets of each bag, and used coordinating fabrics from my stash for the accent stripe on the front, the lining, and the back and bottom.  Here they are:

Hummingbirds, horses, and cabbage roses

Ladybugs, rosebuds, tropical fish, and crabs

I love them all!  Dale, you did a GREAT job choosing these fabrics!