Recently in Crafting Category

Blog of the Month: Anna Maria Horner

April 4, 2014

I have long been a fan this this month's blog, Anna Maria Horner, for several reasons. The first is she just does so stinking much in a day, I honestly can't work out the math. Of course, she has a few extra hands around the house to help out: her seven children. She also shares my love of bright colors and creatively employing those colors all across her life. Her house is filled with love and tons of fabric, yarn and thread. I have watched Anna Maria on Martha Stewart, recreated her free projects/tutorials and eagerly bought her fabric. Her blog is like looking through a window in her house but without all the weirdo, creepy vibes and you are welcome to pull up a brightly colored chair with a hand worked needlepoint cushion and enjoy a cup of coffee (though she strikes me as more of a tea gal).

If you are a fan of Anna Maria's fabric collections with Free Spirit you will definitely love her blog which is full of her fabric worked into colorful and creative projects. It will get the ideas rolling through your head. You can also get a sneak peek at her upcoming projects, cute kid pictures (like shooting fish in a barrel) and many how-tos on manipulating fabric. Look for her category cloud on the left sidebar for more specific searches. I love her tutorials because they are well done but also they are just fun. Her tutorials are heavily weighted towards quilting but since I am gaining interest in quilting and most of our customers are interested in quilting than this should be right up you alley.

I also really love Anna Maria's fashion posts. The mixed media that Anna Maria includes plus her color combos and embellishments really make my fingers itch. Her home posts are another favorite. It is like a beautiful family reunion, filled with cookies, song and nice smells (sans fighting and not enough bathrooms). I love the glimpses of kid crafts, hundreds of quilts and cozy blankets, and lots of smiles.

 

Blog of the month: Crafty Gemini

February 12, 2014

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I am pleased to introduce this month's blog of the month: Crafty Gemini. This amazing mom is well known for her YouTube videos that cover crafting, quilting, sewing, cooking and family fun in general. This wonderful blog covers it all from teaching kids to sew to any and every tutorial you could want. I was delighted to find this blog but even more so when I discovered all the different creative topics Vanessa, the blog mistress, covers. She runs the gamut from crafting to cooking to homeschooling kidlets. Vanessa includes natural farming on her 5 acre homestead (definition of homestead is a family residence that consists of home, land and outbuildings). There are also tons of posts on cooking with recipes and videos. Yum! All cooking posts, videos and recipes work with natural ingredients and look delicious. I am a HUGE Sofrito fan but I dislike buying it in the store because my favorite brand uses MSG as a flavoring, so when I discovered Vanessa's post on making and storing your own sofrito I almost jumped over the moon with joy.

Vanessa is also an avid quilter and instructor of quilting. While she is not currently offering any classes you can look through all her tutorials and videos on quilting. She also offers patterns and many free tutorials. Check out the gallery of pictures off all the quilts she has crafted for friends and family.  There is a great collection of sewing tutorials as well with projects ranging from baby gear, home décor and general "how-to". It is a one stop shop for your next project.

But of all the topics covered on Crafty Gemini I am most intrigued by the farming. I can't seem to get enough of it. On the one hand I want to follow in her footsteps but on the other hand grabbing all my groceries at the store it so convenient. It is so interesting and great to learn how easy farming can be. You can start with just a small garden and grow from there. If you are interested in growing your own food at any level, this is a great blog to reference.

In conclusion, Vanessa is an amazing woman whose passion for life and sharing all the goodness that can be had from it with all of us makes me love reading her blog. Learning tips on teaching kids new skills and crafts is very inspiring. Taking a gander through her quilt gallery makes for a great idle few hours. The recipes and farming could make anyone want to take a greater part in their diet. I love this blog and love the feeling it gives me just reading it. 

It's Not Too Late for Ornaments (to Keep Kids Busy)!

December 22, 2013

Ahhhhh, the holidays. The house is full of cheery decor, and the kids are out of school. OK, I'm not a parent, but I'm pretty sure the second half of that last sentence caused a needle-scratching-on-the-record sound for some of you. While I don't have kids of my own, I'm certainly related to a lot of them, and I WAS one (and in many ways still am), and I am all too familiar with the challenges of keeping youngsters busy during their downtime from school.

I was a busy bee of a child, and I perpetually drove my parents crazy trying to "help" with holiday prep. Until one day, my mom had a genius idea: She told me what we REALLY needed were some felt animal ornaments for the tree. (We didn't, but I had no idea -- I was super jazzed to be trusted with this VERY IMPORTANT task.) And then it kind of became a tradition; each year, new ornaments made their way to the branches of the Christmas tree. It wasn't until years later that I found out these little doo-dads had been called "busy birds" by my adult family -- because they kept me busy and not underfoot.

So, if you have a kid in your family who is ready for this important responsibility, here's how I made mine. You can always come up with a totally different animal -- it's a great way to not just keep a kid busy, but also to foster creative thinking and designing. These are perfect for kids that are comfy with a needle and thread, but they don't require crazy levels of skill. And felt is super forgiving.

I just sketch out a two-piece pattern, consisting of a basic bird body and an insert that will add some additional shape. I cut two of the body piece and only one of the inset piece. If you want a shorter, chubbier bird, just adjust the proportions to your liking.

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To start stitching, I first attach the inset piece to one of the body pieces, starting about an inch from the tail end. I just use a small whipstitch for all of the sewing.

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Here's the inset completely attached to the body. After this, I attach the second side of the bird.

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As I'm nearing the mid-back of the bird with my stitching, I take two to three slightly longer stitches -- later, we'll be using the extra bit of gap to insert feathers.

4-busy-birds.jpgI start stuffing with poly fill as I go -- it's easier for me than waiting until I'm almost done stitching. A chopstick works great for poking the filling into the head and tail points.

4a-busy-birds.jpgThis is what the underside looks like as I close it up. You can see how the inset gives the bird a rounded belly.

5-busy-birds.jpgNext, I use two seed beads to give the bird its eyes. (That tail of thread you see is me holding my needle and thread to the back for the photo -- I don't take a stitch over the head.)

6-busy-birds.jpgAnd then, I poke some feathers through those longer stitches at the back to give the bird a tail. You can dip the points of the feathers into a little glue before carefully inserting them into the stitching in the back.

7-busy-birds.jpgIf you'd like to also add some feathers for the wings, poke a small hole in each side of the body with an awl, and then insert glue-tipped feathers.

8-busy-birds.jpgTo make the bird tree-ready, I glue a ribbon-covered metal hair clip to the base so it can perch on a branch. (If you want to see the process of gluing the ribbon to the clip, there's a photo series in this post.)

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You can see the gap in my wider stitches more clearly in this photo, circled in black:

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If you want to add a little sparkle to your bird, you can always tip the edges of your feathers with a little glitter nail polish.

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12-busy-birds.jpgAnd that's it! It's a basic enough project to not be daunting, but it's time- and concentraion-consuming enough to keep helpers occupied for a little while so you can get cooking, wrapping and other holiday tasks done. While my two samples are fairly basic, you can really keep kids occupied if you let them add paint and other trims to their birds. And while my focus has been on keeping kids busy, every parent I know cherishes hand-made ornaments their children have produced. They become a beautiful way to commemorate each year.

I hope your holidays are joyous and peaceful, and filled with creativity!

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Quickie Gift -- Leather Hair Accessories

December 16, 2013

We're officially down to the wire. If you're still hoping to make gifts this year, you're going to have to hustle! 

In case you're still pondering what to concoct for someone on your list, we have a few ideas if you've got someone who loves accessories. Leather and faux leather continue to trend, so why not whip up a few hair accoutrements for someone special? Here are four ideas:

1. Leather Hair Bow

Start with a piece of 4-by-4-inch leather. I used Perfection Fused Leather for mine, because the light weight and supple nature of it makes it easy to work with and turn. If you're using a heavier leather or vinyl, you might want to go a bit bigger to avoid major frustration. So long as you start with a square, this technique will work.

Fold your square in half, right sides together, and stitch along the raw edges opposite the fold, leaving about a 2-inch gap in the middle of your seam.

Then realign the tube you just stitched so the first seam sits about centered along one side. Stitch each end closed. 

Turn your closed tube right side out. These things tend to keep air in, so it will likely be a bit pillowy. Set this piece aside.

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Next, cut a piece of leather about 1.5 by 4 inches. This will get cut shorter, but I find it easier to work with a little extra length and then cut.

Fold in one side of your leather the long way and hot glue into place. Don't use too much glue -- you don't want to create bulk.

Then fold in the remaining side and glue it down, again being careful to add glue sparingly.

 

2-leather-hair-trims.jpgOnce the glue of this folded piece has completely dried, cut it down to about 2.5 inches long.

Join the two ends together and stitch, creating a small loop. In the photo below, you can see the remnants of the tissue paper I used to cover the loop while I stitched -- this prevents the leather from sticking under your machine's presser foot. 

Turn the loop right side out.

3-leather-hair-trims.jpgPull your tube that you assembled earlier throught the loop. This takes a little cajoling. Because the leather tends to want to stay in place, you don't even need to glue it at this point. You can if you like, but leave the back of the bow free. Thread a narrow headband through your bow loop, and you're all done! Easy peasy!

4-leather-hair-trims.jpg2. Simple Gathered Flower

Cut a piece of leather about 1 inch wide and 20 or so inches long.

Hand sew a running stitch along one of the long edges, and then gather tightly to create a ruffly flower.

Stitch the gathered circle closed. 

Glue a circle of felt to the back of the flower.

Glue on a button to cover the gathered center. 

5-leather-hair-trims.jpgNow the flower's complete, and it's time to make a clip to attach it to!

Start with a simple clip.

Glue a piece of narrow grosgrain ribbon (I usually use 3/8 inch size) to the underside of the upper arm of the clip.

Next, fold you ribbon to cover the upper side of the clip and glue in place.

Fold your ribbon under the picher part of the clip and trim it to fit. Daub a bit of glue on the underside of the top clip pincher and catch your ribbon into place.

Glue the grosgrain covered side of your clip to your accessory, and you're all set.

6-leather-hair-trims.jpg3. Leather Rose

This one works well if the back side of your leather is nice. The Perfection Fused Leather is perfect here. 

I used the same rose-making method I always use -- Melanie's awesome tutorial! You can also go right to the video here

I used daubs of hot glue to keep things in place as I went -- you can see on the back it's a bit of a mess. But a felt circle covers all sins in this instance, and a clip makes it hair-ready.

7-leather-hair-trims.jpg4. Glittery Vinyl Star Stack

Cut several starts out of leather or vinyl. I used Sparkle Vinyl.

Glue your stars together in a strip. You can go in a straight line or an arc, all aligned the same way or turned slightly askew -- it's up to you!

Glue a small strip of felt to the back of your star grouping.

Then glue on a clip, and you're all set!

8-leather-hair-trims.jpgClip-backed accessories are great because they can be attached to all kinds of things. They can clip directly into a hairstyle or onto aheadband. They can spruce up a handbag strap or we worn on a shirt. They can even clip to a bracelet. The ultimate versatile gift!

Test out other shapes and ideas for your leather accessories -- flowers, concentric circles to create bullseyes, hearts -- whatever your mind can conjure. They key in any hand-made gift is that it's something made especially by you.

The coolest pillowcases ever!

December 10, 2013

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Around the office, we are buzzing about all the really cool fabrics for kids of all ages we have in stock right now. We are dreaming up quick gift ideas, and the one that keeps coming up is to make pillowcases with a theme. Sew4Home has a great Sleepover Pillowcase project that's quick and easy. Here are just a few of the really cool prints we have: Peanuts, Star Trek, Star Wars, Marvel Comics, Family Guy, Angry Birds, Strawberry Shortcake, Sesame Street, The Big Bang Theory and Hello Kitty. Check out the Famous Character Cotton Print fabrics if you want to see all the great prints of characters you know and love.

Burlap Halloween Part 2: Ghost

October 2, 2013

Burlap Ghost1

This one is super easy and lots of fun for kids. When my oldest came home from preschool the other day and I told her there was a ghost in the yard her eyes grew large and filled with curiousity. She carefully crept up behind it and tenativiely touched it. As it swung around to face her in the breeze she held her breathe and gasped when the haunted face turned to her direction. It was perfect and she loves it. It is just the right blend of spooky and chic. This ghost is easily tailored to match your style or decor. I paired a silvery burlap with grey chevron twill trim because I prefer a classic/modern style to my decor. You can amp it up with fall themed fabric trim, halloween trim, purple burlap with orange trim or even the classic black burlap with silver or orange trim. 

Burlap Ghost2

To make each ghost you will need 1 yd of burlap and 1/2 yd of trim fabric. With a large zig zag stitch, stitch along each raw edge to prevent fraying. 

Cut 2 pieces 9'' by the width of the fabric (approx 56'', if you use quilting cotton you will need to piece the trim to match the width of the burlap). With wrong sides together press each piece in along the length, matching up the raw edges. Pin to the selvedges of burlap and sew with 1/2'' seam. Press seam towards burlap and topstitch in place. Repeat for second trim piece. 

To create the head, I used an old stuffed animal that would not be missed for a few weeks. So I would not damage it I used safety pins to attach it to the inside of my ghost. This created just the right shape underneath. If you don't want to use a plush animal you can use an old pillow, stuff a sack with newspaper, plastic bags or rags. Then hand stitch a long ribbon (3 ft or more depending on where you will hang your ghost) to the top.

Burlap Ghost3

Cut 2 eyes and a screaming, howling mouth from black felt and glue in place with a glue gun (I traced a spool for the eyes and just free handed the mouth). Adding the head first allows you to place the face in the right position. Finally hang your ghost in a tree outside, off the stairs inside, from the deck or a doorway. Anywhere you need to scare. 

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Burlap Halloween

September 27, 2013

A few years ago I decorated my porch in burlap for Halloween. I started with this burlap banner and went from there. This year I plan to do even more Halloween decorating with burlap. I'm thinking of a more historical, rustic inspired Halloween with less emphasis on scary and more on the seasonal aspect and that is where the burlap comes in. Burlap is so rustic and a great medium for fall/halloween decorating. Its natural, unkempt appearance makes is easy to work with.  I do love decorating for halloween but with so much going on I hate to put up decorations for only one month when I can get several months out of them by decorating for the seasons and not  so much the holidays. This way while others are storing Halloween decorations and breaking out the goods for thanksgiving, I can be kicking back with a glass of wine and reading a good book or knitting a new sweater. Here are some of my favorite ideas that can span the holidays:

Burlap Halloween Treat Bags from Craft Unleashed. You can use them as name cards at thanksgiving.

Handpainted Halloween Burlap Table Runner (complete with tutorial to paint your own) from Knockoff Decor. Paint it with a fall scene on the other side. 

Lil Luna has 50 Wreath Ideas. I really love the burlap spider wreath by Annalily Design. This is just too cute to pass up. Attach the spiders with pins for velcro and change it up for fall. 

This Ella Claire Burlap Buntingis so lovely and perfect for sofisticated spooky decor. 

U Create has the most adorable Ghost Halloween Lights I have ever seen. 

Finally, Fall/Halloween Decor would not be complete without a pumpkin. I love Adelyn Stone's version here. Perfect for hall tables, tablescapes and niches. 

View our selection of burlap here

Product of the Month: Glue Gun

September 25, 2013

Possibly the single greatest addition to the crafting world has to the the glue gun. It allows non-sewists and sewists alike to create wonderful projects. The glue gun helps finish details with ease. It is great for home decor projects, upholstery, crafting and accessories. I love every opportunity to use my glue and I try to use it as often as possible. Not only is it a quick way to finish certain projects but it also allows for a better finish to others and makes the impossible possible with still more projects. If not for my glue gun I would have had several hours worth of hand sewing to finish my Chalk Cloth Snack Box. For my Fall Wreath last year, attempting to sew all those cute rosettes and wool felt bid onto a straw wreath would have been a nightmare but it was wrapped up neatly with a few minutes of hot glue. 

Remember my Anthro Inspired Bib Statement Necklace, finding and sewing on gems would have been a lot of time and effort but gluing on easily accessible, beautiful glass beads allowed me to create the exact look I wanted.  Holly used the glue gun almost exclusively on her top hat fascinators.  

Finally, a glue gun is a must to finish off your upholstery projects. I use it to add my final detail of double welt to the back and bottom of my chairs. It cut the last few hours of what would be hand sewing the welt onto my chair. I feel that the glue holds it on more securely and it is invisible. 

Check out all of our blog projects featuring the glue gun and you can find of selection of glue guns and accessories here

Blog of the Month: Somewhat Simple

September 18, 2013

Every month I try to feature an up & coming individual blogger but this month I threw out all guidelines to find something different and to find new projects for the up-coming holiday season (we need all the help we can get when it comes to churning out those handmade gifts). I found Somewhat Simple: a collaborative blog written, photographed and produced by a team of talented ladies. This crafty blog is dedicated to projects of all kinds, especially food. Oh the Food! The food section is divided up by meals or purpose: appetizers, breakfast, cakes and drinks. I was drooling at the watermelon coolers and that is only the top post. There are also tips on spicing up instand hot cocoa, sangria and strawberry julius. Now I must tell you about the cupcakes. I love a good cupcake espcially with buttercream. You will find plenty here, like the neopolitan or the homemade hostess cupcakes

Now none-food related crafts. You will find projects from fabric, yarn, paper and more at Somewhat Simple. The collection of pillow tutorials is fun. The section on kids' crafts is awesome, chalk full of great rainy day, summer time and play date activities. This is my first time visiting a blog that featured wood as a medium and I must say I am all about the wooden bunting. What a great addition to a kids room. Finally if you have been looking for a good yarn wrapped letter tutorial, look no further. I am crazy for these fun letters and very much want to add them to one or both of my girls' rooms. I can also see them in my studio over my yarn shelves proclaiming "Yarn". I adore stating the obvious. 

Please check out Somewhat Simple. Come for the cupcakes, stay for the cupcakes and read up on many other great projects when you get tired of cupcake recipes. 

All pictures are from Somewhat Simple and are their property. 

Fluttery, Hand-painted Costumes

August 11, 2013

lead-fluttery-costumes.jpgI get so inspired by animals -- there are so many colorful creatures that I want to emulate! Especially butterflies and even some of the more flamboyant moths. They're the starting point for this week's costume projects.

I wanted to make something I could run in (I participate in several costumes running events each year) but that I could also wear to a party if I wanted. I also wanted completely unique garments. There is also a lovely Luly Yang couture monarch gown that's been swirling around in my head for years, but I definitely wanted to go more casual than that.

I started with an assemblage of reference materials. I sought out photos of Luna moths and Monarch butterflies to inform my designs. Using a photo editor, I made circular repeating collage designs of wings -- these would be used to create the skirting for each of my dresses.

1-fluttery-costumes.jpgI settled on McCall's 6754 for my pattern because it's a simple knit dress with a relatively full, nearly circular skirt. I went with solid activewear fabrics so they'd be comfortable for running.

After cutting my pattern pieces, I assembled my skirts, leaving one seam open so I could lay them flat. Then, I got out my opaque projector. (I really can't say enough about how much I love that thing. It was one of the best investments I've ever made in terms of creative tools.) I had to fold my printed-out circular skirt design to get it to fit into the projector, which gave me only a partial image of my circle, but since I was already going to have to work the design into less than a full circle, that was aok.

I used a very fancy setup for my design transfer. Meaning: I draped my fabric over a box, pointed the projector at it, and transferred a little of the design at a time using a permanent marker. This is not a precision affair. As part of the adjustment from full-circle to partial, I had to edit some elements of the design as I went, shortening a wing here, widening there, and free-handing a few details to fill gaps.

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Once I had the design more-or-less transferred, I set up a painting space on my sewing table by covering it with plastic -- I just used a garbage bag and spread it out flat. Then, section by section, I applied acrylic craft paint that I had mixed with textile medium. If you've never worked with textile medium before, it alters the viscosity of the paint so it doesn't dry so stuff and crunchy. I used a bunch of different brushes and foam sponges. That's definitely a thing you want to test for a project like this -- your design size, fabric texture, paint flow and personal preference are all factors, so it's great to test with a scrap first.

5-fluttery-costumes.jpgTip: frosting containers make great paint cans! Small enough to hold in your hand, and you can just pop the lid on if you need to step away.

As I finished each section, I would let it dry and then reposition for the next section. Since I was working on two at once, I could paint one, then let it dry while I painted the other. This method worked quite well in terms of timing.

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7-fluttery-costumes.jpgOnce all my painting was done, the rest was a breeze. The pattern goes together in a flash.


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11-fluttery-costumes.jpgI am ready to run ... err, flit ... along in my runnable costumes! While I'll probably leave them sleeveless for comfort while I run, I will likely use my upper-arm coverage method if I wear either of these for parties.


Of course, you can adapt this idea to any fabric. Wovens are easier than the activewear fabrics I used because you don't have the problem of the fabric stretching under your paint strokes. Regardless of your fabric choices, this sort of garment does require a little bit of extra laundering care. You can toss fabrics embellished with acrylic paints in the washer, but your design will usually fade a bit. I recommend hand washing with a gentle soap.

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