August 27, 2009

A book by any other cover would not be the same

Back-to-school week is something I’m never ready for. Going from “what should we do today” to a scheduled day beginning with breakfast at seven and ending later that afternoon with activities and homework to follow is quite a jolt. Taking the time to sew fabric book covers last night was definitely not on the schedule, but maybe that’s why I wanted to do it so badly (rebellious I know.) It might not have happened, if I hadn’t stumbled upon a relatively easy tutorial for fabric book covers over at CRAFT moments before we tackled book covering homework. All of those bare texts needed to be protected from the daily assaults of grade school.

Bright and interesting patterns will keep my eager students homes away from home nicely decorated. We even used a pink, fuzzy kind of fabric that will make a soft landing spot for a head should the plight of “The Ancient World” become too overwhelming. Just giving them another reason to love their books.
Filed Under: kids, projects, sewing
August 24, 2009

i love back-to-school?

hmmmm…still undecided over here. While I do appreciate having more time for uninterrupted work, I’ll miss the laid back days the summer brings. I think my kids have mixed feelings too. They love seeing their friends and moving up a grade, but at the same time school is a full-time job with work involved. My kids (with the exception of the preschooler) go back tomorrow so we’re spending the day making sure we have all of the supplies on the list.

In addition to the first case back here, I finished sewing personalized pencil cases just in time for my other two back-to-schoolers. They got to pick their fabric and I took it from there.

My second grade boy…what more can I say?

In the spirit of back-to-school, I’m including my lunch survey which ran in the December/January edition of Family Fun. You can go to Family Fun to download a copy or since you’re here scroll over to the right in my “Printables” section. Click on lunch survey to read about the inspiration and then click on the survey itself to print. Fold this up with a pencil and place in their lunchbox. You’ll find out all kinds of tidbits about those first days of the new school year.

Another tradition we’ve had around here is a back-to-school cake. There’s nothing like a cake to sweeten a special day. For this cake, I used the basic plan of the Family Fun School Bus cake. Since we don’t have bus service, our method of transportation is minivan carpooling. I adjusted the school bus cake as necessary including the “harried mom driver.” I think we’re almost ready. I love back-to-school. And repeat.
Filed Under: baking, family, kids
August 20, 2009

Taking on the Chica’s Challenge

When I stumbled upon a call for entries for the Crafty Chica Tote Bag Challenge, it made me wonder if I was ready. Ready to graduate from zippie pouch to tote bag. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a go.

Making slight modifications, I built off what I had learned from zippie pouches. This time, I created straps and sandwiched them between the outer fabric and the liner. I also squared off the corners of the bag’s bottom so it would be nice and roomy for a beach towel or whatever else.

One goal of mine in making this bag was to buy nothing new (that in addition to making it look like a bag in the first place.) That large piece of stripey fabric was a heavy weight fabric sample that I purchased from an interior designer’s $1/swatch yard sale awhile back (awesome sale…goosebumps just thinking about it.) I used a water resistant type of white fabric for the liner.

Here’s where I really had fun. I started the pocket by making a quilt sandwich…liner, batting and pink felt on top. Then using a variety of fabric scraps, ribbon, a vintage vinyl tape measure and even a clothing tag, I appliqued the pocket with my sewing machine. I created the butterfly pocket much like I would a painting or collage. I used fabric as my paint (cutting pieces of all shapes and sizes) and the sewing machine became my brush (adding line and texture.) I only broke three needles…I’m working on that. A needle is not quite the same as paintbrush. To finish off the pocket art, I applied gold and silver fabric glitter.

After attaching the pocket to the bag (before the bottom was stitched up), I added red ball fringe to the top. Initially, I tried to sew the fringe, but realized that wasn’t such a bright idea. The little bally things were getting in my way and the zipper was in there along with the liner meeting the top, etc. etc. In the end, I used fabric glue which worked much better and saved my sanity.

Here’s me with my first ever bag. And the icing on the cake…I was one of three runners up in the Chica’s challenge! My prize, besides adding tote bag to my sewing resume, is a crafty chica bobblehead and a gift certificate to the MakerShed store.

I definitely see more bags in my future. Next time I promise step-by-steps, keeping it real (broken needles and all!)
Filed Under: projects, sewing
August 17, 2009

Chalk it up

Here’s a summer project that’s been on my list. I’ve had a quart of chalkboard paint in my studio closet for the longest time. My original intention was to add some chalkboard real estate to the basement/kids area. However, my recent read of Jen’s blog about her chalkboard paint tray transformation inspired me to do something similar, but I changed my chalk tray up with a button twist. (disclaimer: please don’t worry as the poor children weren’t left out of the quart…this tray was in addition to giving them chalk space, but that’s another post.)

If you don’t have one of these that you’re willing to transform, don’t fret. Any respectable thrift store will have a few to chose from. I purchased my silver tray at a yard sale for 25 cents. I wanted something simple with an easily embellish-able edge.

First, I primed the entire tray–front and back–with a spray primer (don’t skip this step…it makes tray painting so much easier!) Next, I used white spray paint to cover the entire front and then back of the tray. After that was dry, I applied chalkboard paint to the inside of the tray leaving the rim white. I needed two coats to get maximum coverage.

Let’s take a moment to talk about my button collection. I’ve been snatching them up for years at thrift stores and yard sales. Is it possible to have too many buttons?! I was proud of myself for actually using a small part of my button stash for this project. I tend to have some hoarding characteristics when it comes to buttons so this was good therapy.

Back to the tray, starting at the inner edge of the rim (where the black meets white), I attached various sized buttons. It’s kinda like a jigsaw puzzle fitting the right size button into the space. I kept my button palette mostly in the white family, but inserted a few chalky colored buttons for interest.

tahDah! I positioned my finished plate on a plate stand (a stand that was an ugly bronze, but a quick coat of black spray paint changed all that) and wrote my welcoming message.

I’ll undoubtedly personalize the message for the various family and friends that visit and stay in our guest room over the year. We love our visitors, so I’m very excited to have this extra welcoming touch.
August 13, 2009

When junk becomes art

junk n. 1. Discarded material, such as glass, rags, paper, or metal, some of which may be reused in some form. 2. Informal a. Articles that are worn-out or fit to be discarded. b. Cheap or shoddy material. c. Something meaningless, fatuous, or unbelievable.

art n. 1. Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature. 2. a. The conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty. 3. High quality of conception or execution, as found in works of beauty; aesthetic value.

Last week, my vacationing family stumbled upon works of art while on a day trip to Beaufort, South Carolina. These fabulous chairs were spotted right behind Longo gallery, which was sadly closed.

Pretty cool, wouldn’t you say? The perfect illustration of artistic transformation.
Filed Under: fine art
August 10, 2009

An open and shut case

Right before we left for vacation, I finished this project. After acquiring several sweet pillowcases back here in the height of yard sale season this has been a wannabe project on my list. The Internet is a gold mine of pillowcase projects, however I found the instructions for her toddler size dress on page 128 of this awesome book.

Supplies needed were a pillowcase, a pack of extra wide (1/2″) double-fold bias tape, 2 yards of 5/8″ ribbon, 1 1/4 yards of jumbo rickrack, thread and a sewing machine. I will say that the black checked pillowcase was initially a hard sell to Miss Pretty-in-Pink. However, I convinced little Nora that her favorite color would be the perfect accent for the sophisticated black. She considers herself a fashionista so she looked at me with a huge amount of trust and agreed that black is the new pink (when mixed with pink.)

After gathering my supplies, I cut off the top (the closed end) of my pillowcase. I then used a J shaped pattern to cut an armhole on each side of the top of the case.

Next, with two 15″ lengths of white bias tape, I binded the armholes (binding=strip sewn over or along an edge for reinforcement or decoration.) Then, I finished the top of the dress by creating a casing on the front and back (casing=a narrow passage for a rod or cord, as in a curtain or the waistband of a garment, made by folding over a small strip of fabric at its edge along its width and sewing it in place.)

note to experienced sewers:
please disregard the definitions of these basic sewing terms I know you know. I define only for newbies like me who are still learning the language.

As promised, I added a hefty piece of hot pink rickrack to the bottom of the pillowcase. I straight-stitched right down the center of the rickrack all the way around starting and ending at a side seam. The smocking you see was already part of this pillowcase…an extra bonus.

I then threaded hot pink ribbon through the top casing in the front and the back of the dress. I pulled to cinch and then sewed the ribbon at each open end so that the ribbon wouldn’t come out (you know…like the annoying hoodie cords I find in my washing machine or catch my children holding…like those will ever go back in their casing.)

That’s it….finished! This easy project didn’t take more than an hour or so. Admittedly, if someone told me 6 months ago I’d be sewing clothing not only for me, but for my kids, I would have laughed and told them that they were CraZy. I had less fear about making a sculpture out of 250+ Red Bull Cans than pushing a pedal on a sewing machine (which I now know is ridiculous because can art is certainly more difficult and frustrating than sewing, but that’s another story.) The bottom line is if I can sew, anybody can. Case closed.
Filed Under: kids, projects, sewing
August 9, 2009

Claiming this for a week or so

Perhaps you’ve wondered where I’ve been…

…just at the most perfect spot for aqua blue toenails.

Insert big smiley face : ) under “Welcome.”

Little 4-year-old Nora took it upon herself to line footwear up ever night at our condo door. She wanted to be sure that the next morning we’d be ready to get to the beach as soon as possible.

We didn’t want to miss any of this looking for flip flops.

Refreshing having nowhere to be for a long week, but right here.

As it must, the tide came in and our little piece of beach real estate washed away. We’re now back home and diving into reality. For starters, I’m off to restock a very empty fridge.
Filed Under: family

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