Friday, July 3, 2015

A Case of Vacation Brain

I'm still here, even though it might look like I've abandoned my blog.  The month of June pretty much meant minimal crafting of any kind.  Our normal vacation schedule in any given year is usually just one, but not this year.  Oh no, this year we (mainly me) crammed in three vacations, and all were in June.  First to Boston to see our son, Matt.  Included in our trip was a tour of the Samuel Adams brewery.  And a necessary feature of that tour was a tasting.
Then I was lucky enough to go with Mark to Amelia Island, FL, where he had to attend a conference and I got to loll around all day. 
A sunset cruise was an added bonus to this trip.

Finally, my sister, Sheila, her daughters, and I did a girls' vacation to Daytona Beach, FL.  Lots of fun and we didn't get lost!
Those two little dots in the ocean are my nieces, Emily and Grace. 
So, all and all, a wonderful June, but I didn't get much time to stitch, sew, or bead.  Now I'm finding myself itching to pick up needle and thread and search the beading videos on Youtube for new projects!

I did have a finish that I haven't blogged about yet.  I found a store on Etsy that sells patterns for beaded pen covers.  Having seen some of these on Facebook, I knew that I wanted to give one a try.
Basically, I followed a very easy to read pattern to make this rectangle.  It's done in the even Peyote stitch.
Then I zipped it up by sewing through the interlocking ends forming a tube.
The finished tube fits perfectly on a Pilot G2 pen. 

The finished product (above).  I enjoyed this beading project so much that I made one for my niece, Emily.
You can find these patterns and more like them on Etsy at Fun Pattern Designs. You might find it difficult to choose just one! 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

June Pinterest Attempt

I know.  I know.  We're already halfway through June, I haven't posted in a while, and where was the May Pinterest project?  I really did a May project!  I just haven't been very post-ful lately.  Let's remedy that.

My May Pinterest attempt was the No Sew Pillow Makeover.  Watch the video and you'll see what a great idea this is.  And the finished product on the video looks so good.  My pillow makeover started with two dark brown throw pillows that I thought could use a little brightening up for summer.  Then I purchased some fabric and was ready to go.  I cut the fabric to the correct size and got to work.
The finished product.  Okay but not great.
Close up of the fabric.
It basically worked, but in the end I wasn't completely satisfied with this project.  But I figured out some ways that would improve the finished look of these pillow covers. 

First of all, it would be best to use a firm pillow.  The pillows I used (I think they were about 14") were extremely squishy.  They also weren't the thickest pillows around.  So when I did the wrapping and tying, the pillows tended to squish inward and I couldn't get that nice smooth look as shown on the video.

Because of the loose, floppy fabric, eventually the edges started slipping down which I don't believe would happen with a firmer pillow.  So I took the fabric off of these pillows and tried covering some other pillows I have.  These were 18" square and very firm.  I don't think that using a yard of fabric is enough for this size pillow.  But I tried it anyway just to see if it looked better than my first attempt.
Even with less fabric than this pillow needed, it still looks better.  Now that I look at the video again, it does look like the pillow she's using is a firm one and the fabric seems to have more body to it.

Second, even though I like this fabric a lot, I think it would help to have a darker color if you're covering dark color pillows.  What was I thinking?  Add to that using a slightly thicker fabric than the quilting fabric that I bought.

Would I do this project again?  Yes, now that I know what kind of materials to use.   My advice to you:  Try it.  Use firm throw pillows and a fabric with a little bit more heft than quilting fabric and pay attention to the color!  

Monday, May 25, 2015

Resolution Review Time & A Neater Craft Room

Back in January, I made some resolution-type goals to follow in the crafting area of my life.  The year isn't quite half over, but I think it's a good time to review those goals and see how successful I am.

The first one was to finish some WIPs, and I haven't done that as of yet.  I have worked on some of them though and am happy with that bit of success. 

I also planned to stitch a Christmas ornament every month, but thought it would be better to amend that to every other month.  Two have been stitched so far, and I have kitted up the third!  Yay!  Success!  Going along with this goal was to try out different ornament-finishing techniques.  I haven't gotten to this yet.

Another resolution that has not been successful as of yet is learning to do some different crochet stitches.  BUT I did find a cool Facebook page called "Starting Chain" which has videos of different stitches.  Nice clear instructions and totally doable.  Gives me some inspiration and confidence to succeed at this one!

And what about the Pinterest project goal?  Am I the queen of that or what?!  I have managed to create a Pinterest-inspired each month of this year so far!  Look for more of these posts.

I have also been extremely successful with the craft room cleaning resolution!  It is now completely organized.  I went through stuff and did a purge of unneeded supplies.  Yes, I still have the box of pine cones.  Don't laugh.  I labeled boxes and containers and put items in their rightful places.  Now I know where everything is.
The closet.  Now I know what's in there!
Why didn't I do this sooner?
More awesome organization in the armoire.
Makes me want to go in there and create something!
An old bookcase is perfect for display and organizing materials.
The spool holder.  I just got a second one installed today.
Added a little "pretty" in the way of a colorful window valance.
So I'd say that the resolution to get organized was a complete success.  Now I just have to keep it that way.  Or somewhat that way.   I am finding that I do find things quicker, which makes crafting more pleasant and fun.  If I only have an hour to work on something, I'd rather spend that hour working on something than searching for something I need. 

The spool holder:  If someone had asked me a couple of months ago how many spools of thread I had, I would have guessed 25 or so.  This spool holder holds 60 - count 'em 60! - spools of thread.  And I have overflow.  Hence the installation of a second one.  Thank goodness for Joann's coupons!

I knew I wanted a bright and colorful valance and went back to fabricguru.com and found this happy fabric.  It was quick to sew and I enlisted the help of Mark to install the curtain rod just today!  I think I'm done sewing window treatments for a while.

Thanks for putting up with this wordy and extremely picture-heavy post.  I hope that you liked the little virtual tour of my craft room.  Visit again soon for some more crafty fun.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Other People's Creations - Supersize

Usually my "Other People's Creations" feature comes in a post alongside of some of my craftiness.  But today, I am devoting this entire post to some of the most amazing creativity I've seen in the past few months.  And none of it is mine.  This post is going to be picture heavy, so get ready to ooh and aah.

First off is the quilt that Stephanie made.  Just by looking at it, you would never know that this is her first quilting project. 
Steph took a quilting class at her local quilt store and you'll have to agree that this is an awesome first project!  Great color combination and beautiful work!

She also put her knitting skills to use in making this lovely knitted blanket.
Just look at the detail.  Steph will be donating this blanket to the veteran's hospital through the afghan group at her church.  That just warms my heart.

Let's move on to a little stitching.  No.  Make that a LOT of stitching.  Peggy, one of the Sisters In Stitches, brought her latest finish to Stitch Day last weekend.  We all had to stare at it for a while.
The design is "Alpine Seasons Crossings" by Chatelaine.  I've shown photos of this while in progress, but after 20 months of stitching, it's finished.
Note the beadwork.
Detail of the center.
You know what?  These pictures don't do this beautiful work of art justice.  But it's the best I can do in this space.  Absolutely gorgeous!  And wonderful inspiration for all of us stitchers.

Last is a gift that I received for my birthday from my sister, Sheila.  You know how I love getting handmade things and this is no exception.
It's a wall hanging that she made from squares and rectangles of textured and patterned polymer clay.  Isn't it awsomely pretty?  She crafted each piece and then attached them to a canvas. 
A little close-up detail.  I can see the imprint of Spirograph wheels and cookie press discs.
Her own flower design.
An imprint of some tiny branches, a few beads, and more cookie press discs.
She used a leaf from her yard to create the imprint on the right.
Another leaf imprint and a bead.
How lucky am I to receive such a wonderful gift?  I love everything about it - the colors, the shapes, the patterns.  The Spirograph imprint is meaningful because it was one of our favorite toys as kids, and Sheila still has our Spirograph.  Every single piece!  The cookie press disc imprints are also special.  Our mom made cookie press cookies every Christmas, and we continue the tradition.  I have hung my wall hanging on the wall at the entrance to my craft room, where I'll see it each day. 

So what do you think of my amazingly talented friends' creations?  As much as I like to stitch, sew and craft, I also like to see what other crafters are doing.  It's why I follow so many different blogs.  I find it inspiring, and I hope that you found this post inspiring too.  Now get out there and craft!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Home Decorating Fun

That title is a little misleading.  I didn't actually have fun doing this home decorating project.  But I do love the result.  You see, we've been in our home for about 5-1/2 years and it was just time to change the curtain valances in the family room and kitchen.  The ones that were on the windows when we moved in were ok.  They just weren't my favorite style and were a little dated looking.  So after spending the past 5-1/2 years slowly changing things for the better in our house, I made the decision that 2015 was when I'd start dealing with window treatment issues.

The first thing I found out was that home decorator fabric can be very expensive!  Luckily, I found a great online source for fabric:  Fabricguru.com.  They have a huge, amazing selection and affordable prices. 

I don't have a "before" picture, but here's the result of my hard work.
Look at Moxie.  It's always all about her.
I am not a big fan of working with huge pieces of fabric, which is why this was more of a work project for me rather than fun craftiness.  But on the plus side, I got exactly what I wanted and saved a ton of money.  I was also very fortunate to have a good curtain rod hanger.  Thanks, Mark! 

So now that I'm on a roll, I bought more fabric to make a valance for my craft room.  I went with a little wackier fabric for that one.   

Tomorrow is Stitch Day and I'm looking forward to doing a lot of stitching, something I've been neglecting lately with all of this home dec!  I've also started a beading project that I hope to work on a little today.  Keep checking back for photos of my progress!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

April Pinterest-Inspired Project

I admit it.  I really like Pinterest.  During the past year or so, I've become more of a pinner than in the previous year after I started my account.  It's not an obsession, like I've seen portrayed in a video that's been going around.  I look at Pinterest this way:  it's like a virtual scrapbook for all of your good ideas and all of the cool things you see online. 

As you may know, I have a goal of trying out one of my pinned ideas each month.  I'm trying to vary the projects so that I'm not doing the same type of thing every month.  This month I chose the Mason Jar Pin Cushion Sewing Kit.  Just click over the words for the link to the instructions. 
This was a fun, easy project and I used a lot of things I already had in the craft room.  OK, I did buy the Mason jar.  And I found an adorable PINK measuring tape to go with it.  But that's it.  The pin cushion top only required a small piece of fabric, some fiberfill, felt and hot glue. 
Some little pins that I made with beads from my vast collection.

Little needlebook.

I also included some tiny spools of thread, scissors, a needle threader and some floss.  The needlebook and pin card were made with fabric covered cardboard and felt. 
Wouldn't this be a cute gift for someone just starting out on their own?  Or for someone just getting into sewing or quilting?  You also might want to keep this in mind for Christmas gifts for the crafters and seamstresses in your life!

So to sum it up, this was an inexpensive, relatively quick, and fun project to put together.  Let me know what you think!

Friday, April 24, 2015

New (To Me) Cross Stitch Product Alert!

Sometimes when I'm stitching, I'll inadvertently pull through a thread tail onto the front of my work.  Then I'll go to the back and attempt to pull that thread tail back with my needle.  There are times when I can successfully do this, but most of the time that tail is just elusive. And cutting the thread sticking out on the front of your work seems like a good idea, but it's pretty scary getting those sharp scissors that close to your stitching and fabric.
Snag Nab-It to the rescue!  Thea, one of the Sisters in Stitches, told us about this amazing product at our last Stitch Day.
I tried to get a good close-up of it so you can see the detail.  One end is a kind of blunt point and the other end is textured.  Just stick the pointed end into your fabric where that pesky thread tail is making you mad.
Then pull it through.  The textured end will grab the offending thread and put it right back where it belongs!
All gone!
I don't know how long this handy little tool has been around, but it now has a permanent place in my stitch bag with all of my other stitching necessities.  It's made by Dritz and I bought it at Joann's, and they're also available online at various places.  It would also be handy for pulling snags through on sweaters.

I completed my second ornament of the year last night.  Yes, I know I'm not keeping up with the one-ornament-every-two-months goal, but I'm still doing pretty well.  It's from the 2013 Just Cross Stitch Christmas ornament issue.
I'll get another one going soon.  I've been busy with a major home decorating sewing project that I'll  post about as soon as it's done -- hopefully next time!