Thursday, October 23, 2014

what I'm up to


Through some misguided vote of confidence I've been put in charge of planning my extended family's Christmas gathering this year. So naturally I've decided to make it as heinously complex as possible with a progressive dinner! And caroling! And a trivia contest! And Secret Santa gifts! And no football watching, gadget staring or napping whatsoever! We will have old fashioned fun if it kills us.


Also I'm attempting to finish this simple-turned-soul-sucking throw quilt I planned to whip out, oh, nine months ago. I'm so tired of seeing the stack of fabric that I intentionally put right in my way on a crucial corner of the work table. Every day an inner dialog like this:

Oh. There's that stack of quilt fabric. Again.
(stab of guilt)
I should really finish that because it would be nice to be able to use this end of the table.
And I totally will.
Later.
(Places coffee cup on top of stack)

So even though there are many things I'd love to be making right now, like Liberty tops and French Hen ornaments, I'm forcing myself to work on this stinkety quilt project. Which I'm having to do the hard way now because in my novice quilting fervor I started right away to whack it all apart and sew it together nine months ago to create a random, rectangular pieced throw. No design needed! Sewn randomly together! It'll be quick! I'm gonna love it!

After staring at it for months and not loving it, I've decided I can't possibly continue with that idea, I simply must make one that looks more like this:


I'm learning through this process that perhaps I'm not cut out to be a habitual quilter. Because cutting squares is BORING. Especially when you have to cut each one individually from your fabric because you are a doofus and have already cut it once and now have to turn it just so in order to squeak two squares out of each piece. GAH. At least with the white fabric I've been able to cut several squares at a time.

Another reason I'm not cut out to be a quilter is I freak out over small inaccuracies of cutting and sewing. How do you people make everything come out so neatly matched? I sweat over everything because I know my mistakes are going to snowball as I go along. Which requires tedious pauses to square up each square. It drives me insane.

Wish me luck. I'm plodding on with it, casting longing glances at my felt and shirt patterns.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Nani IRO Wiksten blah blah blah


Yes, it's another Wiksten tank (also here, here and here). I'm building quite a collection of them. I've worn them a lot in the summer and now they'll make great layering pieces for fall. I purchased this beautiful Nani IRO double gauze a few months back but only just got around to making this because we took a family trip to the Bahamas.

As I stood over my work table I puzzled for some time about the best way to cut out the tank and still have the most interesting pieces of the large abstract print located in the best spots. I was also trying to save enough fabric to eke out something else in future so that doubled the quandary. There was no perfect solution in the end so I just closed my eyes and cut.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Review: One Minute Paper Airplanes


My youngest adores making paper airplanes. She researches designs on the internet, has conferences about paper aerodynamics with her Dad, and if you come to my house you may accidentally sit on one of the many test models that litter our living room floor, couches and ceiling fans. So when Tuttle Publishing asked me if I'd like to review their book/kit, One Minute Paper Airplanes, it was a good match.

 

The book comes in a glossy box that includes the stack of pre-punched planes and a catapult launcher. Written by a man who has a true passion for paper airplanes, the book has great tips on construction, troubleshooting and flying, plus a lot of smart people stuff about camber and dihedral and lift. There's a built-in science lesson in there for the kiddos.


The tools you need are pretty minimal - a craft knife, scissors, ruler (I recommend a bone folder too) and a stapler. You can use glue in place of a stapler, but a stapler is much faster. A preview of the 12 airplane designs that come with the kit:



I gave Thing 2 the choice of which plane to try first and she chose the Archaeopteryx:


The book recommends you use a craft knife instead of popping the plane parts from the template. That's a good idea because some of the parts are pretty small and you want to avoid ripping the paper. We used a bone folder to score the fold lines, which made it a cinch to get accurate, straight folds. Despite the book title, it took us more like, um, 15 minutes to assemble our plane. We should make better time on the next one, but I'm not sure we'd ever be able to do one in a minute flat!


Archaeopteryx ready to fly! There's great information about test flight and trouble shooting and how to make small adjustments so you get the longest flight.


Our first launch went way higher than we anticipated into the top of a crape myrtle, but luckily most of the leaves were gone and it drifted down on its own.


The included catapult launcher is really fun. (Do not launch inside the house!) The planes can go quite a ways. I tried several times to get action shots but the launches were always too fast to catch with my camera. My thanks to Tuttle Publishing for letting us review this book and kit! We had a lot of fun and look forward to assembling and flying the other planes.

Monday, September 29, 2014

welcome home and happy birthday, Hobyn


Did I tell you? My dear bestie and her family have now moved back stateside. Yay! Their years in Rio were lovely but there's no place like home. And now it's her birthday. So I thought a couple of mementos from her time in the warm southern climes of Brazil would be appropriate!

First I put together a photo book of our time together in Rio. I love making iPhoto books. I spend way, way too much time arranging everything just so. (If you'd like to see more about the trip, go here, here and here.)

Then with the help of my intrepid brother-in-law, Robby, I was able to make the Brazilian coins I brought home from my trip into this charm bracelet.


Sometimes it's a little unfair how pretty coins from other countries are. I especially like the two-tone gold/silver ones.


This bracelet looks a lot like the one I made myself when I was a young teen. And that is because this one is made from the same silver necklace that I frankensteined to make my own coin bracelet some thirty years ago. *coughhoardercough*

Just goes to show you, pack ratting pays off. I think that double chain makes a cracking charm bracelet! And goodness knows the silver finish has proven impervious to the passage of time. (And I still have enough for at least two more bracelets!)


After my failed first two attempts at drilling tiny holes in the coins myself (I don't know why it was so hard for me, this tutorial makes it look like a piece of cake), I handed that job over to a professional. Thanks, Robby! Once that was done, the rest was easy. Harvested jump rings and put the lobster clasp on and finished. I love the cheerful clinky clink sound it makes on your wrist.


I also threw in these pattern weights for her that I've been meaning to make for months. Pretty easy to make. The tutorial is here.


Basically you hot glue two 3/4" oversized zinc washers from the hardware store together and then wrap them tightly with ribbon to make it purty. If you hate to pin patterns you need to make yourself some of these. So that's everyone. I still need to finish my own set. I have been known to anchor my patterns with scissors, rulers, jars, coffee cup, and anything else within arm's reach on my craft table. These will be really handy. And less sloshy.



And lastly, her birthday card. A September birthday deserves a warm, orangey autumnal card. (It's also pumpkin spice flavored.) It is made from paper, wool felt, ribbon, and those tiny pom poms you can get en multicolored masse at the craft store. I never thought I'd have a use for tiny, pale orange pom poms but I did. Hoard, people.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

curated felt color collection for Turtle Dove ornaments



Once again, Benzie Design has come through with a bundle of felts and floss that you can purchase if you want to make Turtle Dove ornaments that look like my samples in the picture above! It's an easy and quick way to get the matching wool blend felts and flosses for my pattern. I highly recommend Renae's shop. I've always received the best customer service and lovely wool-blend felts! Since the collection is ten beautiful colors, you'll receive some extra colors in the same palette that you can use to build your felt library.


The photo above shows the pretty felts alongside the matching floss bundle. You will need the matching flosses in order to sew your pattern pieces together, so purchasing the floss add-on is handy. PLEASE NOTE: You will also need to purchase contrasting colors of floss for the decorative embroidery from your local craft store:

Blue/orange Turtle Dove decorative embroidery colors:
DMC Blanc (white) or B5200 (snow white)
DMC 310 (black)
DMC 3844 (dk bright turquoise)
DMC 3804 (dk cyclamen pink)
DMC 947* (burnt orange)

Grey/mustard Turtle Dove decorative embroidery colors:
DMC Blanc (white) or B5200 (snow white)
DMC 310 (black)
DMC 3799 (v dk pewter gray)
DMC 3852* (v dk straw)
DMC 947* (burnt orange)
DMC 666 (bright red)

*These colors are included already in the floss bundle

Another note about the Benzie collection: rather than make a separate listing for each 12 Days ornament pattern, it's now a single listing that is customizable. Choose the options that you want from the pulldown menu. You can purchase the curated wool-blend felts only OR you can purchase the felts bundled with the matching floss. The pulldown menu includes options to purchase the Partridge & Pear felt/floss collection as well, and that list will grow as I release new patterns in the series. Pretty awesome!

Monday, September 22, 2014

you'll be gladder without your bladder


Gladder. That's not a word but it's funny. I quite enjoyed making these cards for Chelsea and Mattheus. It was a nice break from Christmas ornaments. My niece Chelsea has recently parted ways with her recalcitrant gall bladder...


(if you didn't know, this is really and factually what a sick gall bladder looks like)

 ...and neighbor Mattheus had a birthday.


Both cards are 4.25 x 5.5 inches folded (that way you can get two cards from one 8.5 x 11 sheet of card stock, so I prefer this size). You can see I was feelin' the black/chartreuse/green/orange color palette. The paper eight and the gall bladder were drawn and cut from card stock and then enhanced with colored pencils and punches. I used foam pop dots to elevate them on the black card stock and then added white gel pen details. Taped an iTunes gift card inside and voila!

FYI: If you are wondering about a felt color collection for Turtle Dove, Renae at Benzie Design is working one up as we speak! Great choice if you would like to make some Turtle Dove ornaments that are the same colors as mine. The felt bundle (with matching floss) will be available in her shop soon. I'll post about it!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Turtle Dove pattern in the shop!



I'm done, I'm done! Here's the second ornament in the Twelve Days ornament series, Turtle Dove. (Here's the post for the first set, Partridge & Pear.) I'm really happy with the way this turned out and I'm still loving the Sulky stabilizer which makes this handmade ornament series so so easy to make. If you can handle basic embroidery stitches you can totally do this project, and do it well.


The key is the Sulky Printable Sticky Fabri-Solvy, a ridiculous name for a wonderful felt crafting stabilizer. You simply print my ornament pattern on the water soluble stabilizer, adhere it to felt and then embroider right through it. No tracing or transferring complicated embroidery patterns by hand. Outstanding! Read through this earlier post to learn more about how the process works. I've listed some sources where you can purchase the stabilizer in the pattern.


You can purchase this instant download Turtle Dove pattern PDF in either my Etsy or my Craftsy shops. Go to the listing to get more details on the pattern itself. I hope you enjoy it!