Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
--Scottish Saying

My thoughts and prayers are going out to all who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy.  I hope your lives will soon return to normal.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Halfway to One Hundred

I'm slightly more than halfway to my goal of 100 hearts for the charity Christmas tree for The Giving Heart in December.  But 100 is actually my "safe" goal--that's the minimum number I think would be enough for the 7 1/2 foot tall Christmas tree.  My true goal is 200, but it's too soon to tell if I will be able to reach that mark.

Here are the first 51 hearts:

I love how colorful they are!  Now I'm off to my sewing room to start on the next 50; each of those hearts will feature the name of one of the organization's volunteers.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bookcases Aren't Just for Books

I love bookcases!  We have quite a few of them in our house, and they hold a lot more than books.

I have two Blythe dolls who were in desperate need of a place to "live". I've seen some interesting dollhouses made from bookcases (like this one on LA Weekly), so I decided to clear off one of the bookshelves in our family room to make a little place for Grace and Bonnie.  Below you can see the progress I've made on their humble abode.  I've only finished Step One: Walls.

I didn't want to apply anything directly to the bookshelf that was permanent, so I used foam core board and scrapbook paper to build three free-standing walls.  I hadn't worked with foam core board before, and I was surprised at how easy it was to cut to size with an X-acto knife. I can imagine making a lot of things from this crafty material.

Here are the bookcases, below.  As you can see, they actually hold  very few books, so turning one shelf into a dolly apartment isn't really that far-out.

The dollhouse is looking rather bare, though, isn't it?  The chair and ottoman in the picture are both actually pincushions; I've had the chair forever, and I received the beautifully-made "ottoman" in a craft swap from alwaysinmyroom on Craftster.  The next thing I have in mind is to put a couple of pictures on the long wall, using some ATC-sized wooden frames that I already have. I just need to come up with some art to go in them!

A little more furniture might be in order as well.  I can see that Grace and Bonnie may end up playing Musical Chairs to decide who gets to sit when they are tired of fact, things are starting to get a little tense already...

So tell me, dear reader, what's on your bookshelf?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween Wreath

Here's the wonderfully creepy-cute mummy ninni monster I received from my partner Bunnie Boo in a recent craft swap on Craftster:

The heart under the wrappings, the stitched mouth, and especially that crazy red eye make me love him so much I HAD to find a way to display him prominently for Halloween, so I decided to make him the focal point of a wreath for my front door.  Here's the final product:

It came out great, right?  All it took was a quick trip to my local JoAnn's store.  The Halloween decorations were on sale, so I only spent $13 there--that was my cheapest visit to that store, ever!  Here's what I got (and what you will need if you want to make a similar wreath):  a wire wreath form, 1 1/2 yards of black, stretchy, sparkly fabric, a package of Martha Stewart bat cutouts, and a package of "spiderwebs" with plastic spiders.  I also used polyester quilt batting and cotton cheesecloth, both of which I had on hand already.

If I had found a black wreath, I would have used that for my base, but there weren't any in the store, so I made my own black wreath by first wrapping the wire frame with quilt batting strips...

...then cutting the black fabric into strips and wrapping that over the batting.  I sewed everything in place (because glue guns get messy and the glue is permanent, and I like to have the option of changing things later if I wish.)

I loosely wrapped strips of cheesecloth around the wreath for a "festive" look, then arranged the mummy, spiderwebs, spiders and bats.

I make excuses to go in and out my front door just so I can look at my wonderful mummy-ninni wreath now!  It's the creepiest thing I've ever made, and I love it!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Lorax

If you live in the U.S., I know you have heard of the Dr. Seuss character called the Lorax.  He had his own animated movie this year, and even though I didn't see it, I saw plenty of ads for it on TV, so I had a idea of who the character was.  That came in handy when I started to make a ninni monster for one of my partners in the Halloween/Autumn Ninni craft swap on Craftster.  That partner happens to love the Lorax. Since his body is already very ninni-shaped, I decided I would turn a ninni into a Lorax for her.

This is your basic ninni:

The image below is the Lorax as drawn by Dr. Seuss:

This next image is from a trailer for the movie:

I used all three of those to come up with my Lorax ninni.

I made his mustache so large it looks like he doesn't have any arms!  Here's another picture of him from the side where the arm is visible. Since this was a Halloween-themed swap, I used spiderweb-printed fabric.  (So, maybe the Lorax visited a haunted house, and came out covered with spiders and webs?)

The eyes are wool felt; the mustache and eyebrows are two layers of yellow fabric that are fused together with Heat n Bond.  I machine-sewed all over them to give them some detail.

It's amazing how many different things you can do with the simple ninni monster pattern!  If you visit our craft swap gallery, you can see all the pumpkins, bats, witches, Frankensteins, and everything else in residence there. One of my partners sent me the most wonderful little mummy, and I've turned it into a creepy decoration for my front door...which I will show you next time!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Fabric Rainbow

Look what I got in the mail!

This fabric is from Moda; the line is "Good Morning", and this is a 40-piece fat-eighths assortment.  A fat eighth measures 9" x 22".  That's a total of 5 yards.  I saw this at when I was browsing last week.  I LOVE all these colors, and the prints are fun.  It was even on sale, $55 instead of the usual price of $65.  But...I got it for MUCH LESS than that...

I only paid $5!!!

Every time you shop at, you earn points towards a coupon.  I have been letting my points accrue for several years, and there was a $50 coupon waiting for me. Since they give you free shipping on orders over $35, I didn't hesitate--I treated myself to this delicious bundle of fabric!

That's why I shop at!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Rubber-Stamped Clay

Did you know you can rubber-stamp on clay?  You can!

I made these polymer clay stars to be the surprise inside the latest set of altered matchboxes I made for my on-going Art Abandonment project.  

I rolled out the clay and made the stars with a small cookie cutter.

I used a set of snap-together 3/16" alphabet stamps from Polymer Clay Express (yep--these are the same stamps I used in my last post to add words to a fabric heart) and a black stamp pad from Staples to stamp the phrase "Make A Wish" onto the soft clay.  Very gentle pressure is all you need; if you push too hard you will get impressions from the square edges of the stamps, and that doesn't look good!

After baking the clay (at 275 degrees for 15 minutes), I let it cool, then brushed each star with Sculpey Gloss Glaze.  The glaze dries to the touch in about an hour, but you should allow 24 hours for it to harden completely.

Half of these altered matchboxes were for an "Art Abandonment" craft swap on Craftster.  For that swap we sent our partner a total of six items:  five for her to abandon in her town, and one for her to keep.  My partner prefers darker colors, so I made the box below for her.

I have some exciting news to report:  two of the people who found my matchboxes left replies on the Art Abandonment Facebook page !!  Here's the first one, with the picture I took when I abandoned that box:

I found Altered Matchbox #7 by L.A. at the main Post Office in Williamsburg, Virginia. I was looking for a check (which did not arrive), but found this instead, and it cheered both me and my 7-year-old, and started a conversation about what we might wish for, and might have nudged us to visit the Occasion for the Arts before going home... and later it was an appropriate image for the day for my Project 365 ... Thank you!

The second reply was a response to the comment above:

Omg!  I found #2 in the same place but behind a John Hancock statue.  Aren’t they great?

You can just barely see the box in front of the statue's hand, on the bench.  Apparently it fell behind the statue after I left; I'm glad someone found it anyway!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Heart Bombing

You may have heard of "yarn bombing", where crafters covertly cover public objects such as a bus or a tree with hand-made knitting or crocheting.  It's a kind of graffiti or street art.

"Heart bombing" is different--it involves deluging an individual with hand-made hearts.  It's an act of caring for someone going through a difficult time.

I'm working with two of my friends to do a mini "heart bombing" for a third friend, "S", who is having surgery soon.  We are each sewing some hearts to mail to her to let her know we are thinking of her and wishing her all the best.  I already have a few hearts on hand that will be perfect for her, but I wanted to make her one that was new and special.  Here it is:

It was easy to put together.  Below you can see that I cut out a linen heart shape (using a template), then cut simple shapes for the house and tree free-hand.  For the words, I used a set of rubber alphabet stamps that snap together so I can stamp an entire word at once--I love that because I don't have to agonize over the placement of each letter as I stamp the words.  It's quicker, too!  (If you are inspired to buy some of these stamps, do yourself a favor and get TWO sets.  That way you can spell just about anything without having to un-snap and re-snap your letters.)

I chose the phrase "life is good" to encourage my friend to focus on the positive.

With the edges left raw, I sewed around the perimeter of each shape using my sewing machine.

I finished the hearts the usual way, and I included a loop of baker's twine at the top so S. can hang up the heart if she wants to.  I made two so I could choose the best one to send to her.

I'll be mailing all four of these hearts to her this week.  I think hearts are even better than flowers, and they last longer too!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Dolly Clothes

I recently had the chance to make some Blythe doll clothes for my partner in a craft swap on Craftster.  I had big plans for an outfit plus coordinating accessories, including an embroidered headband and a necklace, but alas, I ran out of time, so I just made this skirt and t-shirt.  This is my Blythe doll, Bonnie modeling the clothes before I sent them off to Florida.

The t-shirt is from a pattern from Puchi Collective.  I just happened to have a brand-new t-shirt I got for free when I bought several cartons of Coke products; the t-shirt was too small for me, which meant it was perfect to cut up for doll clothes!  I did several practice shirts, sewn on the machine, but they tended to end up with unpredictable wonky areas, so I sewed this shirt by hand.  It's so small it really didn't take long at all.  Because Blythe dolls have such gigantic heads, their shirts all open in the back, and close with snaps or velcro.  (I used snaps.)

The skirt pattern comes from a website called miseducated.  The skirt itself is very simple, so I made it special with applique and embroidery.  It is made from wool felt.

I think Bonnie needs an outfit just like this.  Now that I know the tricks to making it, maybe I'll make her a few!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Witchy Ninni

My friend Susan and I couldn't let October come and go with out hosting some sort of Halloween-themed craft swap on Craftster, so we re-visited our old friend, the ninni monster, to see what all the craftters would do to give him a Halloween or fall-inspired makeover.   The gallery of ninnis is just starting to fill up with ninni mummies and trick-or-treaters, and there is one little green witch that I especially like (because I made her!)

Most ninnis don't have a nose--it really changed her look--but a witch needs a big crooked nose!

I really impressed myself with the broom I made for my witch.  I had seen other people make Harry-Potter-style magic wands using a wooden dowel and hot glue, so that's what I did for the broomstick.

Then I gave it two coats of paint--a lighter one under a darker one.  I rubbed the top coat a bit before it dried to let some of the lighter paint show through.

I was going for a gnarled-tree look, and I think I got it!  The broom "straws" are made from gardening twine, as is her hair.  The hat is wool felt, and the wart on her nose is a bead.

You can make your own ninni with the free pattern from the RevoluzZza website.  It's very simple, suitable for beginner sewists.  Susan and I have found ninnis to be addictive, because there are so many ways you can change the basic pattern.   Go ahead, give it a try!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Computer Printing on Fabric

Carmen, one of my lovely readers, wants to try printing fabric in her computer printer, like I did in my post for Lime Riot about the Chevron Leaf Patch.  Read on to see how I did it; this time I'm printing words to use on a  heart.

You will find other crafters online who print on fabric with the help of freezer paper.  I am using Heat n Bond lite (an iron-on adhesive)  instead, so when I'm finished I can iron the words right onto the heart and easily stitch around the patch.  If you don't want to add stitching after ironing, be sure to use Heat n Bond Ultra Hold.  Not only does it not require stitching, it is nearly impossible to stitch through it (I know, I've tried!)  So choose your Heat n Bond wisely!!

Start by using a word processing program on your computer to print out the words or phrases you want to use.  I centered mine.  If you plan to make several patches, be sure to leave enough space between them to cut them apart when you are finished.

Choose a lightweight cotton fabric (I used bleached muslin) and cut it smaller than your printer paper, but large enough to completely cover all the words you want to print.

Next, cut a piece of Heat n Bond slightly smaller than the fabric.  Center it on the fabric and iron it in place according to the directions on the package.

Here's my fabric with the Heat n Bond ironed on (below).

Using Scotch tape or something similar, tape the fabric onto the printed paper so the fabric is covering all the words.

Here's my fabric, taped onto the paper.

Load the paper into your printer just like always.

If your printer gives you different printing options, choose the "best" quality.  Then press "print" and cross your fingers!

Mine came out perfectly, and I hope yours does too!

Remove the fabric from the paper, and cut out the section you want to use.

Peel off the backing paper

Carefully place the patch where you want it, and iron it according to the Heat n Bond package directions.  Ironing will heat-set the printer ink, so it will be less likely to smear or wash off.

I used Heat n Bond Lite so I can add some stitching.  First, I stitched all around the edges of the patch with the sewing machine, using matching thread.

 Then I added hand embroidery stitches, using the machine stitching as my guide.

I finished the heart the usual way.  Looks great!