DIY Christmas Ornament

I saw an example of this ornament on Miss Mustard Seed a couple of weeks ago, and when I was thinking of the little gift that I'd be giving to my piano students after the recital, I thought this might be cute. I hope it's something they will keep and put on their tree year after year. I have a couple of special ornaments that I've had since I was a child, and I hope this one becomes special to the students as they get older.
I got some antiqued music scrapbooking paper and shredded it into 1/4-inch strips (or so--I started out cutting it on my paper trimmer, and it doesn't much matter how exact the strips are). Then I curled them on a dowel and slipped them inside the glass ornament until it looked pretty full. I wrote on the ornament with black glitter glue, put a music note sticker on the back, and tied a bow to the top. I'm pleased with the prototype, although I may try something different with the lettering.


My Creativity Cycle

So apparently all my creativity stops when school starts in the fall.  I have just done nothing since we started back to school, oh, three months ago.  That's not totally true--my creativity just goes in a different directions--focusing on lessons for the kids.  When I realized this and talked to one of our library volunteers about it, she said it's exactly the opposite for her: she does nothing all summer while she's home with the kids, but when they go back to school in the fall, she has the time to be creative again. 
Today, I cut out bunting.  Tons and tons of bunting.  Check out this pile (don't mind the wine glass):

I went through my Christmas fabric (of which I obviously have a LOT) and just cut of 7-inch strips.  Then I cut and cut until I had fabulous little triangles ready for sewing.  Here's what I ended up with:

 With the fall bunting, I didn't match up patterns, but I am going to do that with the Christmas fabric--I have so many different designs that it might get a bit crazy if I don't try to make the same design on front and back.
This stack looks totally out of control. I mean, really, how much bunting does one household need?!?! I know that I'll be making some for my sister, and I plan to make some for our library volunteers, but I know there's quite a bit here.  Maybe I'll give it as hostess gifts when we go Christmas partying this month.  I guess I'd better get sewing.  That's the next step.


DIY Bunting--Part 2

So here's some bunting I gave to my sister for her cute little fireplace--it looks like she could use one or two more triangles in length.  It's surprisingly easy to put together after it's been turned right-side-out and pressed.  I love that seam binding--double-fold, extra-wide.  It's perfect, and comes in great colors.  I bought orange and light brown, and they both look great.  I also picked up green and red for Christmas, so that'll be another project.


DIY Bunting--Part 1

I don't know why I love bunting--it's some kind of nostalgia thing, I think.  Not that I ever had bunting growing up, but I suppose it evokes a simpler time, something old-fashioned.  The hurricane did no damage here, we didn't lose power or anything, so today was a great day to sew! I first had to organize the sewing closet.  The fabric was out. of. control. 

I sorted it by rainbow colors, as I do most things in life (thread, scrapbook paper, construction paper at school, markers), except I added a holiday section, since I have a ton of Christmasy fabric.  As I sorted, I kept thinking about the bunting I wanted to make, and I just had so much autumn-looking fabric that I decided to concentrate on those colors.  I certainly have enough fabric to make special bunting for Christmas, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, and anything patriotic, so I might just stick with the seasonal themes.

I used the tutorial on Joyful Abode, and it worked out great.  I followed her measurements, as I really had no idea what size I wanted my bunting.  Once I hang it on the wall, I'll decide if I'd rather it bigger, smaller, or longer, but for now, it's looking pretty good.

I started off assembling autumn colored fabric from my stash: (ooh, by the way, you can see my DIY pressing table under the fabric.  I love, love, love it!)

Then I made my template the same size and way she did, and cut a bunch of strips of fabric into 7-inch lengths. I didn't actually cut it--I tore it like she suggested.  Can I say how therapeutic that feels?!?! I love tearing fabric!!

Then I used my rotary cutter to cut out as many triangle shapes as I could:

When I was finished, I matched up two complementary triangles for some sewing.  I am not sure why I did two different fabrics, except that's how Joyful Abode did hers.  Since it's going against a wall, this first one, I think I could use a plain back, or the same fabric as the front.  Either way, it's going to be great...

Altogether, I had enough fabric for 41 triangles.  Can you believe I still sewed one with NOT right-sides-together??!?!? How many years has it been?!?! Oh, well.

I used the serger to sew the long sides together.  I lover that serger, except for threading it.  Which is why it still has black thread in it.  I just can't bear to rethread it.  I don't think you can see any threads, though, so no worries.

When this part was all finished, here's what I had, a happy little pile of bunting:

Part two tomorrow--turning the bunting right-sides-out, ironing, finishing the top edges, and hanging.  I think I'm going to use zig-zag for this set.  I'll let you know later this week how it goes!!


Irene's Plans

I had plans for this weekend, and none of them involved sitting at home listening to the wind buffet the house, the rain pound the windows, and the electricity flicker on and off.  Hurricane Irene has her own plans and I am at her mercy.
I got a surprise in the mail today, a package from a seller on Ebay.  I bought this to put in that little curio cabinet thing I worked on last week:
I took off the thread from most of the spools and put them on the cabinet bare.  They look so cool. 
And now I have two needle cases...is that an official collection?

Then I worked on finishing some paper piecing that I started about seven or eight years ago.  I found the leaves sitting among a bunch of scraps, so I thought about putting them on a wall hanging.  Jenny helped me pick fabric for around the piecings, and as I worked on it, I decided to make a pillow instead of a wall hanging.  I ordered a form from Jo-Ann's, so when it comes in and I get it together, I'll post a picture. But here's the casing of the pillow:

I'd like to work on some bunting for one of the walls in the sewing room, so I've been studying lots of bunting examples online.  I think I need to get some seam binding to use across the top of the bunting.  I have some bright green quilt binding (who knows why!!), but that's a little too wide for the bunting project.  So I'll work on the pieces tomorrow and put them together next weekend.

Just in case Hurricane Irene takes out our power (the worst is yet to come, we're being told), I've been thinking about some power-less projects I can do tomorrow.  I'm listing them so that I'll remember what I want to get done someday:
1.  organize the fabric in the sewing closet by color
2.  cut bunting
3.  put together the scrapbook paper files
4.  cut out the valences for the basement
If only I had an old sewing machine with the treadle, I could sew all day tomorrow!!


Soft Pretzels

Yummm!!! I haven't posted recipes yet on here, since this is a crafting blog, but I suppose cooking is a kind of craft, right?!?!
I had a hankering for soft pretzels today after seeing some posted on Pinterest this past week.  I called my mother-in-law and got her age-old recipe.  She made the recipe when her kids were little; it came from a children's magzine back in the late 70's called Geographic World.  She even read me the direction, "Get a parent's help when boiling the water." Cute.

Easy ingredients, easy directions...

1 package active dry yeast
1/8 cup hot water
1 1/3 cup warm water
1/3 cup brown sugar
5 cups flour
extra flour
kosher salt

Mix the dry yeast into the hot water and dissolve it.  In a large bowl, stirring constantly, add in the warm water and brown sugar. 

Add the flour 1 cup at a time, continuing to mix together until the mixture is smooth and does not stick to the sides of the bowl (I used a wooden spoon, but when I got to the last cup, I had to use my hands).   

 Lightly flour a board and knead the dough until it is stretchy and smooth.

Grease two cookie sheets very well and sprinkle with coarse kosher salt. Break off golf-ball size pieces and roll to be about 14 inches long and the width of your thumb. 

Fill a frying pan with 1 cup water and 1tbs baking soda. Bring to a gentle boil. Use a spatula to lower each pretzel into the pan. Leave them in for 30 seconds and lift them onto the cookie sheet.

Sprinkle with more salt and bake at 475 degrees for 8 minutes.

 Look at those beautiful golden brown pretzels--a little skinny, I know.

The recipe made about 25 pretzels.  I put most of them in the freezer so we could enjoy them fresher for a while.  I called Barbara back to ask about putting cinnamon-sugar on them instead of salt, but she was so repulsed by the idea that she wouldn't even answer the question.


One More Quick Fix

So I bought this cute little, what-should-I-call-it--crafty curio display?--thing at a craft show last year.  It was only $7.00, just cute as a button, but it has just sat around since then.  I never hung it on the wall, and that was mostly because it was a little too 'country' for me.  It is made from a yardstick that's been carefully cut and glued back together to make this house frame.  It's mounted on fabric covered board and has a hanging hook in the back.  It's about 10 inches tall and about 6 inches wide.  It will look cute with some thimbles, needle cases, and old spools in it, I think.
The background fabric has little bluebirds on it, and while I like bluebirds, this just didn't do it for me. So last night, after I finished the clock, I set about putting different fabric on the back.  I started by trying to peel off the green felt that covered the back.  Nope.  That felt was going nowhere.  So Plan B--just cover the thing with the new fabric.  Nope.  I could see those little bluebirds through the chevron fabric.  Ugh.  Plan C: somehow cut off the bluebird fabric.  This little house is practically indestructable.  I had to cut it off, and cut the batting from the fabric.  I don't know what kind of glue the creator used, but I think we should use it for building houses.  Who needs nails?!?! Now the front goes with the rest of the room and matches the bookshelf and pressing table.

Finally, finally, I put the new fabric on and glued it to the back. It's not as neat as the original back, but I'm not too worried. The back will be against the wall and no one will see it. 

DIY Button Clock

I found a tutorial online at Epheriell Designs for making a button clock with a embroidery hoop, and I worked on it yesterday.  I like the way it came out, and I think it fits in perfectly in the sewing room.  I used a khaki linen color, which I was a little unsure about at first on the grey walls, but as I studied the room, I have a lot of khaki and taupe in the room, so it actually fits in well. 
First, I folded my fabric into a square and marked the center and the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock positions.  I laid out the buttons and marked a dot where each one would go.
The dot for the clock mechanism doesn't look quite in the middle,
but don't worry--it is!!

Then I sewed all the buttons on.  I coordinated the threads to the buttons, which meant I threaded the needle about 10 different times!! (And that's when I'm feeling old...it's hard to see that little eye!!)
All the buttons are sewn on and I'm ready to work on the back.
First, I traced the circle on the inside with a pencil:
This way, I'd be sure to get the placement correct after I take it apart to iron it.  Then I took the fabric out and traced a circle on a lightweight piece of chipboard.  This gives stability to the clock mechanism and, I found out, also keeps the fabric from sagging in the embroidery hoop. 

I used spray adhesive to fix the cardboard onto the fabric, and then I put it back into the hoop.
I have learned to use a tarp or piece of scrap fabric as a backing on whatever I'm gluing.  That spray adhesive goes everywhere!!

So here it is--I pressed the fabric, glued the cardboard onto the back, and reset it into the hoop.  I cut the fabric to about 1 1/2 inches around and just stuck the unfinished edge onto the cardboard. 

The fabric was still sticky enough on the edge in most spots to just adhere it to the cardboard, but in a couple of places, I used a little more adhesive so it would stay put.  Then I used an awl to make the hole in the center, and I assembled the clock mechanism.

As we say, "Ta Dah!!" I'm pretty happy with how this turned out, and as soon as I decide where to hang it, it'll be all finished!


Finishing Touches in the Sewing Room

Summer is winding down--only a week and a day to go before I'm back at school again.  I've accomplished more this summer than past summers, so I feel pretty good about everything.  I'd really like to finish up the sewing room, and my good friend Jenny is coming over on Sunday to help with a few little bits (she doesn't know exactly what yet, but she has such a good eye that she's the only one I trust to help me). 
Today, I started two button projects: a little wall hanging and a clock.  All I did was lay out the buttons that I want on the clock today.  I'm not thrilled with the fabric I picked; it's a little too khaki.  It doesn't look great against the grey walls, so I'm still in the planning stages of that.

But the wall hanging was so cute and easy. The original idea came from the Freckled Nest blog back on May 3rd--Spring Button Flowers.  I know it's August and I should be thinking about fall! Ooh, I did see a fabulous applique tree/leaves pillow...but that's for another day! Oh, well.  I followed her directions with just one change--I started stitching the stem at the bottom, where the 'invisible line' is.  That way, I finished it up at the top where the button was, and I could tie off my threads up there.  I felt like I had a more precise point at the line when it was the beginning of my stiching instead of the end.  But other than that, I just followed her guidelines and here's the project:

First, I planned where the buttons would go and stitched them on with
yellow thread, then I drew the horizon line and stem lines lightly with a
marker that would wash off.

I started by going in and out of the fabric but then switched to
this method of doing three or four stitches at once.

I'll wash it tonight to get out the sewing ink, then cut off the
extra fabric (I just tucked it under here), and then hang it
in the sewing room.


DIY Bottlecaps

This was a fun, quick project.  Here's all you need to create the bottlecap magnets or pushpins: bottlecaps, stickers, clear epoxy stickers, 1-inch punch, magnets, thumbtacks, rubber mallet, hot glue gun. 
After doing a little research, I bought bottle caps that had never been used.  They're bright and shiny, and they're not dented, either.  The first step is to use a rubber mallet and pound the edges until they're rounded.  I did this on the basement floor--you definitely don't want to do it on any surface that you don't want marred.
The caps on the left haven't yet been pounded--just a few gentle taps with the mallet (keeping the inside of the bottle cap facing up) turns those sharp edges downward.

See how easily they turn under into perfect little circles?

Then I moved over to the craft table for the next part.  I bought some cute stickers that were in a circle shape, but they were a little too big to go inside the bottlecap, so I used my 1-inch punch to make them the perfect size. 

I set the sticker inside each bottlecap and then put the epoxy sticker on top of that.  I press the epoxy sticker down--you can see I have a little more adhering to do around the edges.
Here are the ones I made today:

I wanted to try these as magnets, and I used a sheet-type magnet (like for a business card), but the bottlecaps are a little too heavy.  I'll need to get the button-type magnet that will hold something a little heavier, but I love the way they look on the black fridge.  I made a set of these into pushpins by hot-gluing a flat-top thumbtack onto the back.  I'm going to give these a try on my bulletin board before making any more--I want to be sure the hot glue really holds the bottlecap on. I could try one of the craft adhesives I have, too.

This is another set of stickers I used. I like these colors, too. Kind of muted.



Sewing Room Before/After

It is finished!! It took an entire week from start to end, but the sewing room makeover is done.  (Well, almost...I have a few things to hang up, but I haven't decided where to put them yet.) Last Monday, I started by moving everything out of the room and painting the walls grey.  After breaking the sewing table and spilling a gallon of paint on the floor, which put me behind by a day, I finished painting.

Then I painted the lamp and bookshelf.  I reassembled the bookshelf with fabric on the back wall.  I put together the Ikea chaise longue, and created a pressing table out of a TV tray.  Then I used the big drill and fixed that sewing table good! 
The before--looking into the room from the doorway.

The after
The before--looking from the back corner.

The after.
The fixed-up sewing table and pressing table.

The pressing table, chaise longue, and bookshelf.
I think that the bookshelf was the most dramatic part of the project--from a cherry-colored particle board boring bookshelf to something exciting and fun to look at! I found the fabric at Hancock Fabrics where all the home decor fabrics were 50% off--yea!!

The last thing I did, which was the first part of the project started, was to finish the fabric valences.  I just adore them, right down to their little white pom-pom trim!