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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.
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.
Here's the inset completely attached to the body. After this, I attach the second side of the bird.
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.
I 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.
This is what the underside looks like as I close it up. You can see how the inset gives the bird a rounded belly.
Next, 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.)
And 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.
If 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.
To 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.)
You can see the gap in my wider stitches more clearly in this photo, circled in black:
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.
And 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!
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.
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.
Once 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.
Pull 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!
2. 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.
Now the flower's complete, and it's time to make a clip to attach it to!
Start with a simple 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.
3. Leather Rose
This one works well if the back side of your leather is nice. The Perfection Fused Leather is perfect 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.
4. 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!
Clip-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.
May 22, 2013
Crafter's everywhere love their epoxy and no epoxy is better, more universal than e6000. It is the work horse of the craft world. I have used mine to fix shoes, repair jewelry, affix candlesticks to create works of art and bring countless toys back from the dead. When I am not feeling the sewing love and just don't have the time to knit and want to make something, well, pretty for me, I always grab the e6000. It can do anything that you need and it is the one glue I have found that dependably glues felt to felt.
Here are some amazing DIY I have found that highlight e6000. Grab a tube and make your favorite:
January 23, 2013
Eco-Felt (about 1/8 to ¼ of a yard depending on the size of you bib)
Lace (scrape piece, you can even use several pieces)
A piece of Organza at least 20'' long and 3'' wide for ruffle
Floral Stones (available in most big box stores like Target, Wal-mart, Garden Ridge, maybe even the Dollar Store)
One Chain (You can recycle an old or broken necklace like I did)
Fold a sheet of paper in half and draw out half of your necklace shape on the fold of the paper. I used the bottoms of various glasses to create my 3 circular shapes. Once you have a shape that you dig cut it out on the fold and open it up. That is your pattern for your felt.
Trace your pattern onto your felt and cut out 2 pieces. Set one aside. Fold your ruffle in half and on your remaining piece of felt pin your ruffle onto the wrong side of your felt. I placed mine in a very loose fashion, just sort of tucking here and smoothing there. It is not gathered just sort of tucked in places especially where 2 circles meet. It doesn't need to be perfect. Stitch in place
Add your piece of lace over the right side of your felt and stitch around the edge of your felt using a thread that matches your lace (then if your stitches are off it won't be noticeable). Trim your lace to the edge of the felt; it will curl up a bit making your felt visible.
Next, layout your stones in a pattern you like. You can experiment here with different colors and designs. These stones really catch the light, add color and weight to help your necklace hang well (if it is too light it will flop around and look unfinished). Once you have your pattern glue down your stones using your glue gun (Don't worry about glue strings you can pick them off later).
Figure out the length of chain you need (I pinned my chain onto my second piece of felt and slipped it on and then adjust the length). Hand tack the chain onto your felt and then glue your 2 pieces of felt together, sandwiching your chain and ruffle in the middle.
This necklace looks great with a blazer or over a casual sweater. I love it with my little black dress and a plain white tee. It is my new go-to accessory.
January 2, 2013
Now that I have kids I have embraced a new love for appliqués. I used to think of them as cute little additions to bags or pillows but now I know them for disguising stains (or worse bleach marks), holes in play clothes or to cover up old and ugly appliqués on otherwise cute clothing gifted by grandmothers, cousins or random ladies that my mom knows from work whose daughter hasn't had kids yet so they have no other outlet for their baby clothes indulgences. I love appliqués and probably sew about 3 a week onto various garments. Last month my daughter's tricycle seat kept snagging her knit pants so I used some cute handprint appliqués over the holes. For Christmas she was given a few plain t-shirts so I added a snowflake (project below) and dinosaur appliqué to jazz them up. And don't get me started on all the plain white onesies I have for my new addition. Appliqués are part of my daily life so I was very excited to write about our Janome Appliqué foot.
The Janome Appliqué Foot is a clear sewing foot attachment that has a wide opening for your needle to accommodate zig zag stitches off all sizes. The clear foot lets you see your path and helps with steering. My appliqué world just opened up when I started using this foot. It was like taking a ride on a glass bottom boat. I could see my path before me and a little bit behind which is important for making sure your stitches are even. My stitch path has greatly improved and my stitches look more finished though it does take some getting used to.
Print out the Snowflake Appliqués downloaded here: Snowflake Applique1.pdf *Fold a sheet of 8.5 by 11'' piece of Heat n Bond 3 times into a triangle and trace the large appliqué onto the wrong side your folded Heat n Bond. Apply Heat n Bond to the wrong side of your fabric according to the directions and cut out. Center your appliqué on one of your t-shirts side seams and iron in place. Install your appliqué foot and coordinating thread into your sewing machine and using a medium stitch length zig zag stitch around the snowflake. Repeat the above from the * for the inner appliqué using either white felt or other fabric you prefer for your snowflake.
December 14, 2012
I have seen these
great Woven Felt
Baskets all over the design scene lately. They are popping up in all the design
shows and stores. They are a great storage option for living rooms and kids
rooms. The look can easily be modified depending on the colors you use. You can
make one for a little boys room in blue
one for a girls room in cream
green, one for your room in a bold Fuchsia
and one for the living room in cashmere
tan to blend in. They are really a snap to make and lots of fun. The only
supplies you will need are a calculator, 72'' wide felt, a glue gun and some embellishments.
Each strip is woven of doubled felt to give strength to the basket.
To make your own, first you need to decide how big and what shape you want.
Square Basket (Width, Length and Height is X)
Length of each strip is the width of the bottom plus the height of the side (X+X).
Length of each ring is the width of the side times 4 plus 1 '' (4X+1)
Rectangle Basket (Width is X, Length is Y and Height is Z):
Strips A are the length of the bottom plus the height of the side (Y+Z)
Strips B are the width of the bottom plus the height of the side (X+Z)
Each ring is two times the width plus two times length plus 1 ''(2X+2Y+1)
The number of strips needed for the width is the number of inches (i.e. you want the bottom of your basket to be 15'' then you will need 15 one inch strips). The number of strips needed for the length is the same process. And it is also the same for determining the number of rings for your height.
Here is a great example, for a basket 15''w by 17''l by 12''h you will need to cut:
Strips A- 17, 29'' strips
Strips B- 15, 27'' strips
Rings- 12, 65'' strips
And you will need approx 2 yds of Rainbow Felt (remember each strip is doubled)
Once all your strips are cut you will need to assemble your rings. Glue one short end to the other end, overlapping one inch. Once all your rings are glued set them aside. Start weaving your bottom by laying out all your width strips parallel. Then weave in your first length strip using an over-under method. It helps to start at the center and mark your centers with pins or small chalk marks. Once you have all your length strips woven into your width strips, your bottom is complete and you can add your first ring.
Flip the strips that will go inside the ring toward the center of your basket and leave the rest lying out. Place the ring on top and then reverse your flip (flip all the inside strips to the outside and all the outside strips to the inside). Place another ring and do another flip. Repeat the ring and flip until you are out of rings. Glue and trim (if needed) your strips to the top ring, starting with the outside strips first and then doing the inside. Hold your strips in place until the glue is cool before moving on to the next strip. Finally add the trim around the top by cutting a 3'' wide piece of felt that is the same length as a ring. Start gluing it or hand sewing it in place. If gluing start with the outside first and then glue around the inside. Your basket is now basically done. You can finish it off with some embellishments as you see fit. I added a whipstitch around the bottom of my trim and added a few small pom-poms. Try adding rope handles or braided fabric handles. You can even try fusing some fabric onto your strips to add a print or extra "wow" factor to your basket. Vary the sizes and using them for anything around the house.
It will cost less than $13 to make a huge 15''by 17''by 12'' basket!
Here is a Target version for $25 15''by 15'' by 11'' for gray and cream
West Elm's large basket is $49 for 18'' by 14.5'' by 11 for gray only
Both start at twice the cost of our DIY version and by making your own you can choose your colors!
December 7, 2012
With 2 kids, I am constantly looking for ways to involve them in the holidays but without the risk to any of our decorations. That is a hard task when Christmas rolls around: glass ornaments, ceramic table toppers and porcelain angels abound. However, when I saw this Felt Christmas Tree project idea on Pinterest, I knew it was just right for my family. I set about planning my tree. I wanted it a bit different to blend with my funky/traditional Christmas decorating theme that I always seem to end up with so I cut my tree from turquoise felt. Next I cut several different circle shapes from red, green, blue and purple felt and some square and rectangle as well to serve as presents.
To decorate each ornament I used a combination of fabric and felt. I cut small polka dots from felt for my 3 yr old to decorate ornament. I also cut a snowflake inspired overlay for another. A simple white flower centered on a red circle serves as nod to the traditional. For my fabric decorations I let my love of polka dots have full access. I used several sizes of polka dot fabric and cut using my pinking shears for a decorative edging. Some of the presents feature ribbon and some felt add-ons.
I recommend using fabric glue for affixing fabric to felt but for felt-on-felt and ribbon on felt use your glue gun or a simple running stitch in a matching thread. The felt really soaks up the fabric glue so you need something thicker to stick anything other than fabric. When gluing fabric to felt, apply your glue to the fabric and then press it to the felt. Don't apply the glue to the felt first as it will soak it up.
Lastly, I hung my tree with thumb tack so my little one could hang "real" ornaments from the branches. I made her some small pom poms and tied the ends into a loop for hanging. You could also make more felt ornament for hanging. My little bit loves her Christmas tree and re-decorates it every morning after a visit to her advent calendar (free pattern available here). It makes a great backdrop for her Christmas photos. The best part is it is unbreakable and cheerful!
P.S. I realize the length of her pants ruin my credibility but she could not be persuded to wear anything else
September 17, 2012
Help your kids make their own super hero costume by first whipping up a pair of solid colored tshirt and pants combo using a Kwik Sew tshirt and Oliver + S knit pants pattern. Next, follow Martha Stewart's basic costume instructions on turning this basic emsemble into a superhero's bread & butter!
The creative types over at Spoonful.com have a huge selection of kids costumes both quick and fun. I love the Princess Fairy Costume. My little one isn't into princesses but she has plenty of pals who are. Their moms are always asking for great ideas to create their own instead of buying the plain or low quality big box store versions. I would gladly recommend this adaptation as well as showing them Fabric.com's amazing Tulle selection.
For this lovely Flower Costume from Parenting.com all you really need is some great felt. Our Rainbow CraftFelt is a green fabric (as in good for the environment) that you can feel good about your kid wearing and playing with until they outgrow the costume. This pattern uses found and recycled articles from your kid's wardrobe and makes them floral with huge felt petals. It looks like a lot of fun that older siblings can help out with!
September 15, 2012
For everywhere but Georgia it seems that fall is in the air. The leaves are turning and there is a bite in the air. I can feel it in my bones even if I can't feel it in the temperature outside. I yearn to choose jewel tones, leaf motifs and drink apple cider. So, of course, I made a wreath to channel my inner thoughts. At least my door can look as festive as I feel even if my family is still in tank tops and shorts.
To make a Fall Felt Wreath like mine you will need to visit a few tutorials. The first is a free bird pattern that is designed to use as a mobile, and I did use it to create one for my first born and plan to make a second for my soon-to-be little one, but this time I crafted just one bird from felt. When you make yours be patient when turning it since the felt is thicker than the quilting cotton this pattern was designed for so it will be stubborn. Once you triumph you can use a small whip stitch to close the tail after your firmly stuff. The second tutorial is the felt rose bud by Creative Jewish.
The supplies you will need are one straw wreath form that can be had from your local grocery store, hardware store or big box store, some scrap yarn, about 100 yds of 2 colors. I choose two tonal colors in a cotton blend and a wool blend for pom-poms and to wrap the wreath. You will also need several pieces of felt in fall colors for roses and the bird. Lastly you will need your glue gun.
First, wrap your wreath with both yarn colors. I wrapped mine last because once I had my pom-poms, roses and the bird my wreath needed something more. If you wrap yours first you can ensure it has complete coverage and it will make it even more beautiful. Tie it off in the back and add a little extra at the top for hanging. Next, make your pom-poms, about 5-8 will do. You can either tie them on or glue them in place. Attach them in a cluster towards the bottom so your bird will have a nest. Next, make your bird and carefully glue him in place. Be sure you lean your wreath up against a flat wall before you do this so you can make sure your bird doesn't lean toward the back too much as this will interfere with hanging. If your bird doesn't push your wreath away from the wall then he is sitting just fine. If he does, reposition him more toward the front of your wreath. I positioned my bird's back to the front of the wreath so it would appear he was building his fall nest. Then I clustered some roses right below him, about 4-6 should be good unless you love them and want more, more, more. You can cluster more at the top or cover the remaining wreath. Try topping them off with faux berries, pearls or beads for some added glitz. Glue your roses in place.
You can embellish your wreath further by embroidering your bird's back, draping a long piece of knitted icord around your wreath or cutting out felt leaves and gluing them in clusters around your roses. I hope you will share your own creations on our Facebook page.
September 10, 2012
It's time to get started on your Halloween projects! I imagined nothing would be scarier or more fun than a Halloween wreath until I thought that a monster peeping out of the wreath would be even better! Depending on your eye design you could make your monster super scary or super fun. I opted for fun because my kids are youngsters and scare easily. If yours are older than scary is the way to go. Get them in on the fun too by having them help with the design and fabric choice. You will need about a ½ yd of Halloween fabric or a Halloween color, some monster fur or skin, some felt pieces in Halloween or monster colors and a foam wreath form. You want to stick with cotton for the wreath so you can tear the fabric into strips to get the frayed, monster look. Cut notches into your selvedges every 1'' and then pull and tear the strips to the end. If you don't want your knots to show then you can sew your ends RS together, otherwise just tie the ends together as you wrap your strips around your wreath form. As your ends meet up at the back, knot them together but leave enough to create a hanging loop for your door.
For the eye background you will need a ¼ yd piece of canvas or faux fur or felt in a monsterish color. Since this wreath will be a peep hole for the monster the background will represent the fur or skin of your monster. I went with an abominable monster look since it is still very hot here and I want to channel some cooler weather (it's not working by the way). You can experiment with different kinds of fabric to get the monster look you want, try minky for a super soft monster or metallic knits for a space age monster. On the WS of your background fabric trace the inside of your wreath and then add 2-3'' and cut. You can glue or hand stitch this onto the back of your wreath with the RS facing out the center of the wreath.
To make your eye like mine you will need 2 colors of felt (White, black and green). Cut one circle 3 1/2'' from the green, one 3'' from the white and one 1 1/4'' from the black. Stack the white on top of the green and the black on top of the white. You can either glue or machine stitch your eye together. Draw a sinister but bold eye brow or if you don't draw find a clip art picture of a great thick monster eyebrow and print it to use as a pattern. Make sure your eyebrow conveys the correct message. If it is straight, your monster is not aggressive and unintersted in "human goings-on". If your eyebrow is slanted down towards the nose of the monster than your monster is mean. Make sure the brow you choose has just the right amount of meanness. I went with wary and grouchy! You can glue your eyebrow in place or hand stitch it to your background. Make sure if you glue to apply pressure until your glue is set.
Now is the time to add embellishments as you like. You can add a message to hang on your wreath: "Beware" or "Monster Residence". You can drape spider webs around your wreath or add some plastic spiders using your glue gun. My favorite is to hang old bones from your wreath like your monster just ate and threw them out the door. Add your favorite Halloween tidbits and your trick or treaters will either giggle in delight or run away scared, leaving all their candy behind!