Monday, December 28, 2009

little christmas elf...

Here she is - the newest woodland elf: Serenity! I loved making this little hat for her - I think it's the bees knees. The hat is from the book bend-the-rules Sewing - it combines some of my favorite elements: quick, easy, and so darn cute.

Initially, as a 100% wool purest, I had my doubts about wool felt. While I still won't be making any heirloom pieces with it, I have grown quite fond of the material. It's great when you need something sturdy without the aid of a stabilizer or interfacing. I was excited about how well the flower turned out. It's one of my few attempts at machine applique (I'm a hand stitcher) and I made the wee pom-pom in the center.

ahem... yesss... it is a little big for miss Serenity's head - but hey, the only model I had was Sophie :) She looks pretty swell in it too!

You'll have to excuse all of the camera shake. I really don't like to use the flash (it just looks too harsh even with some photoshop help).

Saturday, December 26, 2009

christmas in the kitchen...

At our house the holiday decorations stick around until at LEAST New Year's Day. I think if we can start listening to Christmas music on November 25th, we can keep listening and looking at pretty ornaments beyond Christmas day. This past summer Derrick and I put up some shelves in the kitchen. The boards are from an old barn we tore down at my grandma's farm before the auction. I painted them with a light coat of white paint and we put them over an antique cupboard - we call it our hutch. (this is where our little village of houses is this year)

I l.o.v.e. my feather tree and snow-head ornaments! The gingerbread guy was a wonderful handmade ornament from Marlene - I see him alot during the day as he is right next to the cookies :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

up on the roof top...

Looks like no snow again today, I am still hoping against hope for a white Christmas and NOT the rainy-green one that is predicted. Oh well, the inside of the house is still lookin' pretty cheery. Last year Derrick and I started making these little 'putz' houses. The history of putz houses is really neat, I'll leave explaining it to the experts.

We like working on them - he is the architect, tracing the house outlines and wielding an exacto knife, and I am the decorator adding all the little embellishments and glitter. They are incredibly time consuming for such a little house. This year I put them on our 'hutch' (well, it's a cupboard with shelves above it, kinda like a hutch).

Looking through the window of this house, you can see a picture of my mom as a little girl sitting next to their tree with a Christmas village nestled underneath.

My little hand-dyed trees worked out beautifully! I use vellum for the windows - I think it lets the perfect amount of light through.

This year we made time to put together three houses - two for others and one to add to our little collection. (the one in the picture above lives with us now :)

"A merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night..."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

the dog ate my christmas tree...

Well, fortunately she wasn't able to devour the entire tree. We thought we would be really tricky and only put vintage plastic bulbs on the lowest branches... all except for one gold bulb apparently. Which coincidentally happens to be the one Sophia knocked off the tree. Seeing the sparkle and shine of a ball falling through the air, she had no choice but to attack it, and crack went the Christmas bulb. Luckily, no glass shards were ingested (phew!) I should mention this was in the middle of our dinner service at last nights Christmas party. Never a dull moment...

So here are a few more snaps of our tree since yesterday I talked about our tree but didn't get around to showing it to you.

Here is a close-up of my improvised tree topper. I've noticed that the latest trend is to have greens sprouting out of the top of your tree - and I love the look. So I took some shiny, glittery stems that complimented the ornaments and wired them to the top bough. Then I covered the top 'branch' with one of the vintage bulbs (I just took the hanger part off). I think it's fun.

See that snazzy gold bulb at the bottom? Rest in peace little gold bulb...
Hope your holiday decorating is going great - only a few days left!

I'll leave you with a special holiday treat from Late Night with Conan. (yes. I do realize that this clip is not remotely related to anything crafty. You never know, a good laugh could give you energy to go and finish those last handmade gifts.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

beginning to look alot like christmas...

Okay, so it isn't an original title for a blog post this time of year - but it is very appropriate. With a week left, we finally got our decorations out and our Christmas tree put up. Who knew all it would take is a little snow to get me in the holiday spirit?! This week I hope to show you a little peek into our home in all of it's winter glory.

Sunday night we put the tree up. Normally our little tiny Charlie Brown-ish tree is plastered with all of our childhood ornaments. This year (especially since we were so late) we went simple; just using vintage bulbs. They're a mixed lot of my grandma's bulbs and thrift store finds.

One of the boxes we opened had no metal hooks - so we improvised with some wire. (note: this paddle wire is perfect for crafting hooks, if you snip the wire in the center of the flat sides, the bends in the wire are perfect for making a loop on each end)

I'm off for a busy day of prepping for our Christmas party tonight (and watching the snow out the window :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

they're available...

Added a few last minute holiday items to ye olde etsy shoppe...

pink & blue hand-dyed trees

4" & 5" plain trees (ready for you to hand-dye them :)

springy snowman

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

is it snowing in here or is it just me...

Shhh... don't tell, but this little guy might end up being someone's Christmas gift! The inspiration for this project came from the rusty spring. When we cleaned out my grandma's farm for the auction there was a HUGE pile of scrap metal (which actually was one of the more profitable items at the auction - who knew?!) Amongst the rubble were a bunch of old bed springs. I knew I had to do something with them, I just wasn't sure what. This snowman is a compiliation of a pattern I saw for a much smaller snowman head and my own creativity. I think he turned out pretty swell.

He is mostly made of muslin that is painted after sewing (his head, hat, and holly leaves). His nose is a painted 'twistie pod' - and no, I'm not exactly sure what a twistie pod is except to say that it is some kind of natural element that is intended for snowman noses. I love his scarf - a coveted piece of Westfalenstoffe fabric that has been in my stash for quite some time.

My most favorite part is the little red bird - he started life out as one of those pink-flocked-1970s-wedding birds. I pulled out his wings and tail feathers (ouch) and painted him red, then I painted his wings with tacky glue and sprinkled some chunky vintage glitter on. He's too cute!

I would love to hear some more ideas on projects to use up my nostalgic rusty spring collection - what do you think?

note: I made this snowman a friend - they didn't get along too well, so he's looking for a new home. He'll be in my etsy shop soon!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

currently under the needle...

I had this plan, a vision really, of a world where all my projects were completed... Then I woke up - after months of working steadily at my pile of ufos (unfinished objects) I feel like I am no closer to being done. So here is a new project that I started and is currently underway. Procrastination got the better of me with this round of the ORBC quilt along. I got to the 'pick out your fabric stage' and never moved forward. Then I was inspired by this post on cluck cluck sew. Isn't it great?!? I was instantly smitten with it. The material once meant for my ORBC quilt is now cut and on it's way to becoming something different - still with circles though! The fabric in the foreground is my inspiration, a favorite Kaffe Fassett that has been waiting for the 'perfect' project to come along.

Friday, December 11, 2009

secret santa...

My secret Santa gift is on its way to a warmer climate! This is the first time I have been involved in an online exchange - it's been great so far! I was inspired by the season, so I went with fat quarters and fat eighths in reds and greens - the red one is one of my favorites, I used it for a half apron and it turned out lovely.

I made these little ice skating snowmen. You may be thinking 'pipecleaners, really?' I know they can be a little 1989-Family Circle-magazine-crafty, but I love kitschy Christmas decorations. The other day at the thrift store I scored some sweet felt clip on birds for the tree (you know the kind with the glitter :) Hope my exchange partner enjoys her gift!

Today I got a little yellow tag in my post office box - that (generally) can only mean good things. And it was a good thing... a REALLY good thing! My secret Santa gift from Dana arrived! I felt so honored THE Dana of the Old Red Barn Company and quilt along fame was my partner (that's just pretty cool in my opinion). The fabrics are lovely and the package smelled super (she included one of her own chestnuts and brown sugar soaps).

Oh, and maybe you wanted to know who will be adding a little tree to their Christmas decor?! My sweetest friend Jordan picked #7 (she wasn't sure why I was asking her to pick a number, but she was glad to help me out :)

#7 had this humorous comment:
"You know, it really is difficult to decide which color is best (truly, you should sell them in little multi-color groves). My vote is for blue because blue is new to the Christmas scene. Red and green are expected, but blue says "I'm here to stay, green. Pack your branches, red." Know what I mean?? "

So a little tree will be on its way to Duff, who, judging by her blog, wins everything! Thanks for all of the nice notes - I enjoyed reading all of them!

p.s. Lynn, the pillow is making it's way to you, sent it priority mail on Wednesday...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

g-i-v-e away...

Last call for the little tree giveaway... I'm drawing a winner tomorrow (edit: the winner will be drawn around midnight Thursday nite, feel free to enter all through Thursday!). Leave a comment on the last post. Best of luck...

The hubby is out with some guys, so maybe I will sneak away to the craft room!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

going green... err blue or pink...

It's the holiday season isn't it? After hosting my very first giveaway, I'm hooked! It was so fun to hear from all of you and to share something that I put together with my own two hands. So, who wants a free tree? Yup, I'm giving away one of my hand dyed trees (see this post if you're not sure what I'm talking about).

Leave me a comment and let me know what color tree you like best. I'll let you know the winner on Friday - that means you have through Thursday to enter. Best wishes and Merry Christmas; I'm off to pack up Lynn's pillow and my secret Santa gift for shipping tomorrow.

p.s. this giveaway is partly because of the MANY wonderful comments I had on the trees; thanks for your kindness :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

the envelope please...

And we have a winner: Lynn was chosen by the random number generator! As soon as I hear from her, the pillow will be on its way. I am so excited to have some new followers: thanks to everyone who entered, it certainly made me feel good :)

Hopefully I will have some FINISHED projects to share with everyone tomorrow! (last week I spent too much time perusing blogs and entering giveaways!)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

g-i-v-e away...

I have been considering a giveaway for a while now, and when I read about Sew, Mama, Sew's December Giveaway Day - it was fate! So, up for grabs is a wonky log cabin pillow! (it uses Urban Chiks Blossom by Moda, the same as I used in my quilt top)

The pillow case fits a 14"x14" pillow form (INCLUDED if you win :) I used my new sewing machine foot to make the cording; the back is envelope style so that you can easily remove the case for cleaning, etc. It would be a fun addition to your bed or sofa!

What you need to know about entering...
1) For one entry: comment on this post. Please leave me an email addy so I can contact you if you win.

2) For a second entry: follow me! Please leave a SECOND comment to let me know that you started (or are already) following my blog.

A winner will be drawn at random on December 6th at 12 pm eastern. (Just in case you are wondering YES! I will ship internationally) Ooh this is SO exciting, can't wait to see who wins :)

a note: excuse the indoor lighting... the sun doesn't come out in ohio in december...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

o christmas tree...

Nothing says kitchy-vintage Christmas like a pink bottle brush tree! I recently decided to deck out the house using bunches of these little trees. A couple of thrift stores and an antique mall later, I realized that my dream of finding vintage trees was not going to come true. I looked online and favorited a few on etsy, bid on one on ebay... my thirst for little trees was not satisfied. Then it happened, I found a tutorial for dying your own trees! A quick trip to Pat Catans and I was home with nearly 75 trees of all sizes (up to 5" of course).

It is really a pretty easy process: remove the wooden bases from the trees, let sit in a bleach & water bath. RINSE WELL. Dip in dye (I just used Rit powder dyes - you only need a little dye and a very short dip to get LOTS of color!)

These trees are made by limiting the amount of time you leave your little green trees in the bleach bath. I think it really gives them a vintage flavor, it's as if they have been around so long they faded. It might be neat to try a bleach bath after dying.

These trees are just bleached - no dye needed for some frosty white trees!

We thought that the pink ones almost looked like candy!

I may have some of these up on my etsy soon... check back :)
ALSO: I will be participating in Sew, Mama, Sew's Giveaway Day - so stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

i'll file away...

I am an unabashed saver - I live with the motto: "maybe i'll need this later" This carries through to bills, receipts, documents, and papers of all types. Behold, the perfect Hawaiian themed file cabinet!

I am really horrible with remembering to take 'before' photos (I am usually SO excited just to get the project underway) so this is as close as it gets. I bought this 2-drawer file cabinet at Goodwill for $5 - it was beige with marble-look drawer fronts - at first glance I thought they were covered with some horrible contact paper. So step one was to spray paint it black.

Then I searched the web for some vintage beachy postcards - and found the motherload! Arkiva Tropika is packed with great tropical ephemera - old menus, postcards, brochures, and the like. I printed those out on some medium weight paper and cut them out.

I laid out all of the images so that they fit on the top and two sides. Then came the modge podge! I painted the mp on the back of the image and on the file cabinet and smoothed them down with my fingers and the occasional aid of a popsicle stick. Then I plastered the top of the image with a nice even layer of mp. Once an entire side was complete, I would paint mp all over it again - after some drying time, this step was repeated five times for each side.

I think it turned out pretty fun and unique - much nicer than a boring old file cabinet :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

i'd like to thank the academy...

Well, really, I'd like to thank Dee over at DeeRoo Designs! She hosted a wonderful giveaway and yours truly, moi, was the winner! It was a very exciting day to get the mail, I tossed the bills aside and ripped open the manila envelope. Fabric, a circle cutting ruler, a Christmas star block, and a lovely little note - how thoughtful. I am especially excited because that Michael Miller with the purple and green dots - see it? - it's going to be perfect in my ORBC quilt-along round 4 quilt. Now, I jsut have to get to work on that. Hopefully I can clear out a workspace and get down to business next week.

hmm... perhaps winning has inspired me to host a giveaway... keep your eyes open :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

pillow expo...

It is always exciting when I can showcase a FINISHED item in my post, and today I have three! I can hardly believe it myself, but I followed through with making coordinating pillows for my wonky log cabin. In total, I made four pillowcases and three throw pillows. I love them!

Nope, can't take creative credit for this one either; but didn't it turn out well? (thanks cluck. cluck. sew.) I love the little nest in the center, and isn't it perfect to go with the wonky log cabin?

Remember this one from a post awhile ago? This one was the most time consuming - I made a template from a picture with the aid of photoshop. Then I traced the template onto wonder-under. Several hours of cutting, ironing, and zig-zag stitching later - this pillow finally emerged!

I love selveges... I didn't know that I loved them til everyone else began using them, but I do. Check out the selvege flickr group for more inspiration.

Update: The two larger (18") pillows are 'envelope' style, so the covers can be taken off. The selvage bolster is sewn closed.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

easy-peasy quilt [tutorial]...

Hot off the presses, this little number has found a new home. My friend Anna is getting married in December and I whipped up this throw for her and her future hubby. Handmade is best for two reasons: (1) it is a unique gift made specifically for someone, crafted from the heart (2) being on a limited budget, I am able to gift something really nice for less than I would pay in the store (and with better quality). As mentioned previously, I don't quilt, so it's knotted, but I like the look. Though a simple project, I thought some of you out in the blogosphere might enjoy a short little tutorial with some helpful tips along the way. Without further ado, here's the recipe:

Easy-Peasy Quilt Tutorial

Finished Size: 60"x70" (10" Blocks)

Ingredients * 1 yard each of 4 coordinating fabrics
* 1/2 yard for binding

* 3 1/2 yards for backing
* 2 yards batting (or enough to fit)

* Perle Cotton or crochet thread for knotting

* Rotary cut each of your 1 yard cuts into 3 - 10.5" strips

* Cut each strip into 4 - 10.5" squares

[hint: I took some [not all] of my strips and sewed them together in pairs along the long edge. Before unfolding, I cut them into 10.5" pieces. Now when you open up the pieces you already have 2 blocks sewn together. Not sewing all of the strips together allows you more chances to vary the random pattern of the finished block layout]

* Layout your blocks in 7 rows of 6 blocks each
[hint: take a photo of your layout, this will save alot of time when you can't remember which piece you liked where]

* Sew the 6 blocks (each row) together
[hint: PRESS. I used to avoid the iron for as long as possible, it seemed like such a time suck. But then I met Row... steamy, hot... wait we are talking about an iron here, no need to be alarmed. To be clear, my friend Jordan bought me a Rowenta smooth glide iron as a wedding gift and I LOVE it. Pressing during the process makes for a better outcome. After sewing a seam, press the seam without opening it up. Then open it up and press the seam to one side. Repeat this for EVERY seam]

* Pin the rows rst (one row at a time). Make sure that your intersections line-up. Sew the seven rows together, continuing to press as you go.

* Piece the backing: remove the selveges of your backing fabric cut a 75"x43" piece (43" is about the width of your fabric after you remove the selveges). Cut 2 - 20"x43" pieces; sew these two pieces together end to end (you now have 1 - 20"x86" strip). Sew the 20"x86" piece to the 75"x43" piece; trim the excess from the 86" piece so that it is even with the 75" piece. (you now have a 75"x63" piece)

[hint: you may be asking yourself, 'self, why do I need a 75"x63" backing when my quilt is only 70"x60"?' I find it easier to trim your backing to exactly fit your quilt top once the 'quilt sandwich' is made. This is helpful because I am not a perfect cutter or sewer!]

* Make a quilt sandwich: lay out the backing wrong side up, place your batting on top of that, then your pieced top right side up. Voila! quilt sandwich. I use basting pins to hold my quilt together - starting from one end and working up, pin the basting pins where each of the blocks meets another one (where 2 or 4 points intersect)

* Trim the backing fabric and batting about 1/8" from the quilt top on all four sides

* At this point you pick your quilting option. Again, I don't quilt - so this comforter is knotted. Take the perle cotton or crochet thread and thread a needle that accommodates it. Pull the thread all the way through so that the 2 ends meet. Removing one pin at a time, knot the quilt where 4 corners intersect. A square knot is the most widely recommended knot for tying quilts. Here's a

* Prepare the binding strips: Cut 7-2.5" strips from the binding material. Here I will refer you to the best online tutorial I have seen on binding.
Heather Bailey has great illustrations that are easy to follow along with.

Enjoy your finished quilt!