Friday, December 28, 2012

All You Need is Love

Earlier this week I sent prayer flags to my two partners in the Prayer Flag Swap Round 2  on Craftster
(which I just happen to be coorganizing, with my friend Susan). One flag reached its destination yesterday, so I now can reveal it to the world!

My partner, StickerChic87, loves the Beatles, and one of the phrases she likes is "All you need is love", from one of their songs.  She also loves images of houses, so I used both of those to make her flag.

I left all the edges raw, and cut the fabrics free-hand, so everything has a "wonky" look.  I think the secret to keeping a project like this from looking poorly-made is to include an element that is carefully crafted.  In this case, it is the top section.  I made the word "love" by setting cardboard letters on white fabric, and then spraying the fabric with Tulip Fabric Spray Paint. After removing the cardboard letters and letting the paint dry, I stitched around the letters with white embroidery thread, and added embroidered seed stitches (using a rainbow thread) all over the red area. Then I machine-stitched it to the flag.

I find prayer flags to be enjoyable and satisfying to make, because they come together rather quickly and easily for me. Since they are intended to be ephemeral (one way to use them is to display them outside and let them gradually deteriorate, thus releasing the prayer into the world), exquisite craftmanship is neither required nor expected.

StickerChic87 says she loves her flag and that it was just what she was hoping for--which is exactly what I was hoping to hear!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Wishing you a
happy, holy, blessed,
joyful, peaceful, wonderful

Friday, December 21, 2012

Five Tiny Dresses and a New Blog

Now that the year is drawing to a close, and I have finished my 365 Sewn Hearts, several people have asked me, "What's next?"  I've been thinking and rethinking that; and the answer is...

 It will not be in the "365" format; at first I thought would do that again, but then I decided to be kind to myself and not add that pressure to my life!  Instead, this new blog will focus on my new love, Blythe dolls.  I will be able to ramble on about them in a separate place, so I don't bore my non-dolly readers--that's good for me and for you!  I expect to post there once or twice a week, while continuing to post here about more general sewing, crafts and art.  Blythes will still show up here occasionally, when I have made something for my dolls that fits the context of this sewing these dolly dresses, for example!

First, I proudly admit that my dolly family has grown to five.  I wanted them all to have a Christmas outfit, so using the pattern for the party dress at the Blythe site, Puchi Collective  I whipped out these five tiny dresses. My stash of Christmas fabrics is rather huge, so it wasn't hard to find some small-scale designs for this project. I decided to add a detail of some sort to each waist and hem...that was where things got a little tricky, because I didn't want to repeat any of the trims or ribbons. I've recently discovered a couple of shops on Etsy that specialize in extra-small notions which are perfect for doll clothes, so I will be doing more shopping there in the future!

Now, getting back to the new's called Blythe Happy. I invite you to take a look--I've started blogging there already.  If you aren't interested in dolls, you still might find something fun--for example, there are more pictures there from my walk through Colonial Williamsburg...I brought one of the Blythes with me and took pictures with her there, too.

 If by some chance I manage to "convert" a reader to Blythe--oh happy day!  I want to hear from you!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas in Williamsburg

It's been such a warm and lovely December here in Virginia that I decided to go down to the part of town known as Colonial Williamsburg to see the decorations. All the buildings there have been restored to how they might have looked in the 1700's, and you can take tours inside some of them.

The Christmas decorations are understated compared to our bright and shiny modern displays; everything here is made of natural elements.

Almost every building has a wreath (or three)...

This double wreath is really unusual.

The wreath below caught my eye because it is wrapped with strips of fabrics.

This next one is so charming, with the wooden spoons, cookies and cookie cutters!

Even the signs are decorated (the center of this one is a cluster of pomegranates.)

After walking all over CW (as we locals call it), I felt like this squirrel, so I went home to rest for a while!

Monday, December 17, 2012


I've started "releasing" the bunnies I made last week.  While mailing Christmas presents, I left these two at the Post Office:

The next day I went to the library, and two more bunnies hopped into obvious hiding places.  This first one is in the "pet" section (even though there weren't many books on rabbits!)

And this little bunny is hiding on the top floor, on a seldom-used computer desk.

I REALLY hope they will be found by someone who will love them!  If you want to be a part of The Giving Bunny Project, just hop, skip or jump over to Urban Threads to get the bunny pattern, directions, and printable tags.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Because I'm short on time today, I used the reliable Random Number Generator to choose the winner of December's Surprise Giveaway--it's not nearly as exciting as watching a cat choose the winner, but it sure is fast!

There were 32 comments, and the winner is number 31...


Congratulations, Linny, I have just sent you an e-mail.  This purse will be in your mailbox soon!

Thank you to all of you who read my blog and left comments, and an especially BIG thanks to all who voted for The Giving Heart in the charity Christmas tree contest.  I will be sure to announce it here if they win!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Surprise! It's Giveaway Time! (Now Closed)

Giving stuff away is fun, that's why I'm happy to announce December's givewawy!

You might remember this bag from when I posted it this summer; I love the fabric so much I had to show you the bag right after I made it. I actually made two of them; I am using one right now, and the other one will go to one of you!!

This purse is the smaller size that I make, but it is big enough to hold a large wallet and a big pouch full of whatever you need to carry!

9" tall
12" wide at the top
8.5" wide at the bottom
4" deep
12.5" drop to the straps

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below.  

If you happen to be one of the FABULOUS people who voted for The Giving Heart's charity Christmas tree--THANK YOU--please leave a second comment below, for a second chance to win. (If you haven't voted yet, you still can; click HERE to go to the voting page; scroll down and click the box next to "The Giving Heart".  Then come back here and leave a second comment.)

If you sent handmade hearts to The Giving Heart--Kay in England and Pam in Illinois are the two that I know of--please leave a third comment for yet another entry in this giveaway.

If you are not registered with Blogger (your comment will show up as "anonymous"), please include your email address so I can contact you if you win.  The giveaway will close at 9 a.m. EST on Saturday, Dec. 15th (three days from now).  I will announce the winner here on this blog shortly thereafter.

Good luck, and thanks for visiting my blog!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Please Vote for TGH

Remember all the hearts I made for the charity Christmas tree for The Giving Heart?  They have now been added to the tree, along with a TON of other beautiful ornaments, and here it is!  Pictured with the tree, below, are Larry Davis, who decorated the tree, and Vicki Neilson, the director of The Giving Heart.

I want to send a huge THANK YOU to two of my readers who made and sent hearts for this tree:  Kay in England, and Pam in Illinois.  I truly appreciate the time and effort you two put into this project.  If anyone else sent hearts, please tell me!  Since they went straight to the organization I may not have heard about all of them.

I need everyone reading this to do a favor for me:  Vote for this tree!  The charity that receives the most votes will win $1000!  Click HERE to go to the voting page; select "The Giving Heart" from the list.  You won't see pictures of all the trees (unfortunately), but surely this is the best tree, right????

I'll even give you extra incentive to vote:  I will be having another "surprise giveaway" soon, and if you vote for this tree, you will be able to put your name in that drawing twice!  (Kay and Pam, you can put your names in three times!  Woo hoo!)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Release the Bunnies!!!

The hip embroidery website called Urban Threads has just announced a fun new project that I am VERY excited about!  It's called "The Giving Bunny", and it's very similar to the Art Abandonment idea I've shared with you before:  you make as many of these uber-cute bunnies as you want, then leave them in public places for strangers to discover and claim as their own!

Urban Threads offers the pattern absolutely free, AND they have this great, free, printable tag to go out into the world with your bunny to explain what it's all about when someone finds him.  That's all there is to it!  Sew a bunny and release him into the world!  Oh--and you get to name your bunnies too!

As you can see, I've been busy making bunnies, but I did them a little differently that the directions from Urban Threads--I don't have an embroidery machine, and I didn't want to spend time embroidering the faces, so I made the eyes and noses from wool felt and sewed them on.  That's faster for me!

I want to point out a great feature in the design of these stuffies:  they have a tail, which means they will stand upright when you set them down.

The instructions say to use pom pom for the tail, but I didn't have any pom poms on hand, so I made the tails from the same fleece as the bodies.  I just cut a 2 1/2" circle, stitched around the edge with large stitches, and pulled the thread to make a ball.  I stuffed it with a puff of poly-fill, then tightened the thread and tied a knot.

To make it hold together better, I sewed back and forth across the opening a few times.

Then I just stitched it onto the bunny.

I will be releasing my bunnies very soon, so I will show you pictures when I do.  Go ahead and try some yourself!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Crafting Hope

Craft Hope, that wonderful organization that collects and distributes hand-made items to brighten the lives of those in need of hope, has just announced it's latest project:  Dolls, Animals, and Monsters. Oh My!

For this project they will be collecting handmade softies--dolls, animals, sock monkeys, monsters, you name it---for kids who live in the northeastern United States who experienced the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy.

My first thought was, "Hey, I like to make stuffies!  I want to make some for them!"  My second thought was, "Hey, I have my own pattern that I can use to make the stuffies!"  That pattern is for the Mystery Critters, which I first showed you about a year ago.  Yesterday I got out my template and started sewing; these three little friends will soon be on their way to New Jersey!

They are pretty quick and easy to make, and you can put any kind of face on them you want.  I made mine without anything that could pull off or pose a choking hazard, so they will be appropriate for any age child. If you would like to make one or two or a dozen, click HERE to go to the pattern and tutorial.  I hope you will join me in spreading hope to those children.  All the information about the project and where to send completed stuffies can be found by clicking HERE.

Just as I was finishing these stuffies, I came across another fabulous stuffies-for-sharing project that I'm dying to tell you about...I just have to sew a few of them, then I'll get back to you with this new idea soon!

Update:  LimeRiot asked me how I sewed the critter's faces; that's such a good question I will answer it here.  The pattern for the Mystery Critters does not include the face (that's what makes it a mystery--it will look different for every crafter).  I made my faces by cutting a paper oval to use for a template, then ironing my good friend Heat n Bond Lite (the sew-through kind) to the back of the face fabric.  I traced the pattern onto the Heat n Bond, cut out the face, and ironed it onto the body.  Then, using a short and narrow zig-zag stitch, I machine-sewed all around the edges.  For the eyes and nose I used Heat n Bond Ultra Hold, which is not sew-able.  The mouth was hand-stitched with embroidery thread--that's why I had to use the LITE version of Heat n Bond for the face, so I could sew the mouth on.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Guest Post for Pam

Hi!  I'm Leslie from Leslie's Art and Sew.  Pam invited me here today to tell you a little about who I am and what I do, and especially to tell you about the project I started this year called Hope Hearts.

I'm a wife, mother, and craft blogger; I spend time every day making things (usually sewing them) and interacting with other crafters online at Craftster.  I've always liked hearts--I like the shape, and what they symbolize--and they show up frequently in my work.  In fact, this year I accepted a challenge from my friend Susan to sew a heart for every day of the year!  It started out slowly, but things have really snowballed in the last couple of months, and I went far beyond the 365 hearts I needed to complete the challenge!  You can read all about it on my other blog, 365 Sewn Hearts. The Hope Hearts project is one of the reasons I exceeded my goal, and it is what brought me to Pam's attention. I want to share that story with you now.

About a year ago, when someone at Craftster suggested a heart craft swap, I jumped right in!  We all made different sorts of hearts and exchanged them, with the idea of displaying them in our homes in a jar.  Towards the end of the swap, I learned that one of the participants, Amanda, had some devastating news:  her husband was just diagnosed with advanced cancer.  She comment on a heart in the swap gallery--a heart with the word "hope" on it--she said she liked it because the word "hope" had suddenly taken on special meaning for her.

I decided right away to organize a few of my crafty friends to make similar hearts for her, because I know two things:  one, that hand-made gifts are a very meaningful way to show that you care; and two, that the journey through cancer treatment is long and hard, and people going through it need the emotional support that small acts of kindness can give. (I went on that journey when my husband had cancer.  I know all about it.)

Amanda was deeply touched when she received our hearts, and she wrote a lovely post about it on Craftster that you can read by clicking here. Below are the hearts we sent her:

After that positive experience, I was asked twice, during the next few months, to contribute hearts for people who needed to feel loving support as they went through a difficult illness.  After the second one, I realized that there are a lot of people who are sick and need emotional support, and I wanted to help other crafters provide that support, so I began making a Hope Heart kit available to anyone who asks.  The kit is free. It contains information on how to make the hearts, templates, and three finished hearts. (Just visit my blog if you wish to request a kit.)

 I've sent out nearly one hundred kits so far, and Pam is one of the people who requested one.  She will soon be telling you about her experience of making hearts with her friends.

Creating the Hope Hearts kits is the most meaningful thing I've done as a crafter and blogger.  I'm so glad I accepted the 365 heart challenge that led me to it! Many thanks to you, Pam, for letting me share my story with your readers, and I can't wait to hear more about the hearts you and your friends made.

Visit Pam's Blog!

Today I am guest posting at Pam's blog, The Best Laid Plans.  Pam asked me to tell her readers about my heart projects, and I was more than happy to do so!  I hope you will visit her blog to read my guest post.

If you have come here from The Best Laid Plans, welcome!  Thanks for stopping by!

I want to remind everyone that my Hope Hearts kits are still available. If you would like to organize a jar of hearts for your friend or family member who needs encouragement,  you can request a kit by emailing me at .

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Three Creepies...and a Cutie?

I needed to make a few more Junker Jane-inspired stuffies to really get a feel for her style before the craft swap starts on Craftster.  I noticed that she makes a bunch of ornaments every year about this time, so that's what I decided to try next.

The first three I made have a definite "creepy" feel to them.  Maybe too creepy.  I used bright Christmas fabrics, hoping that would make them look more cheerful...hmmm...

I decided to slightly enlarge one pattern and make one that was cuter--instead of black stitching, I used green, and I eliminated the extra lines on the mouth.  Here's how he came out:

 Yes, he is definitely cuter, he still a bit creepy?  Would he scare a child?  (I don't want to scare children!)

I know that the Junker Jane style isn't for everyone, and for many (like me!) it is an acquired taste.  This experiment has shown me that the details make all the difference in the attitude of the stuffie.  Don't worry, I'll go back to my "regular" style after this!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Who is Junker Jane?

Junker Jane is a cool artist and crafter who makes one-of-a-kind dolls that are always a little more creepy than cute.  The picture below is an example of her work, and you can see more on her blog, Junker Jane.

Her dolls are shabby and stained and patched, but they are overflowing with personality, and they are always unique.

My friend Susan introduced me to Junker Jane's work, and I have grown to appreciate and love her style--so much so that Susan and I will soon be organizing a craft swap of Junker Jane-style dolls on Craftster. To prepare myself for the swap, I thought it might be a good idea to try making something Junker-Jane-style! Here's how I did it.

I started by googling "Junker Jane" and selecting "images".  That gave me about a million different pictures of her work.  I scrolled through them with a paper and pencil nearby, and sketched the details that I wanted to incorporate into my doll.  Then, using a standard 8.5 x 11" sheet of  paper, I drew an outline to use as a template for my doll.

I cut out the paper template and starting looking around my sewing room for fabrics in muted colors, when I noticed the cutter quilt to the side of my work table. Perfect!  The fabrics are already aged, AND  the patchwork section boarders a plain muslin section, which is exactly what I need for the head and body.

Here's the piece that will be the front of the doll:

I chose a few more fabrics to use for the details, and the arms and legs, and laid them out around the quilt section to see it they would work.  They will!

 For the arms and legs, I simply folded the edge of the fabric and sewed a tube with one rounded end.  One of the charming features of Junker Jane dolls is that their arms and legs are all random lengths; usually there are one or two very long limbs, and one or two very short limbs on the same doll.  Keeping that in mind, I just sewed each limb a different length!  Then I turned each tube right-side-out, and pushed a small ball of polyfill into the end.

I hand-sewed the face and body details before sewing the front to the back. The fabric on the left (below) will be the back of the doll.  I sewed front to back with the legs in place, stuffed it, and sewed the arms on by hand.  I added a bit of hair and a bow, and...

 ...Ta-da!!  Isabella is complete!

Here's the back:

I made a tiny friend for her...

...they make a happy pair.

 And I would be happy if you would join us in this craft swap!  Please consider it, if you are a member of Craftster.  If you aren't, sign up today so you will be ready when it's time for Round Two!