Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Canopy in Purple

It's so flowy!  It's surprisingly easy to make!  It's a whole lotta tulle!

You'll have to excuse the poor photo quality.  It's currently suspended from a curtain rod that I rigged across the molding in my hallway - not a lot of natural light here, even with the front door open.  I think it's over 7 feet in length from the loop that it hangs from to the hem of the tulle, and the diameter is that of your average hula hoop.  This is the only spot I could find in the house where I could assemble it without drilling a hole in my ceiling.  My sister is the lucky homeowner who will have to break out her drill once I give this to my niece.

These little butterfly clips hold open the entryway in case she wants to drape it over the head of her bed or something.

I'd seen a couple of tutorials for canopies this past summer and I ended up following the one I found in my Family Fun magazine because it was the least complex.  Aside from the hula hoop, there were just three main ingredients:  felt, tulle/sheer fabric, and glue - lots and lots of glue.  Can I just say that I love draping tulle and whatever that sheer purple fabric is?  It's so forgiving for those of us who have trouble cutting straight lines!

I used a couple different tutorials for making the felt flowers.  The loopy flowers, the pointy flowers, and the big hibiscus-looking flowers were all so simple to make - especially since I cheated and substituted glue for some of the sewing steps.  Oh!  I finally found a use for the dragonflies Susannah and I made last month!

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tutorial for Christmas Mouse Hoop-La

Round up these supplies:
template for mouse (download here)
cardstock paper
erasable fabric marker (mine was water soluble)
felt scraps (any blend of wool or man made material)
graph paper (any gauge will work)
fine tipped Sharpie pen or something similar (in a dark color)
7 inch wooden embroidery hoop
Scotch tape
a window
10in. x 10in. (roughly) piece of fabric
embroidery floss
embroidery needle
craft glue

Download and print the template for the mouse.  It's easier to trace it you print it onto cardstock, but regular paper will do in a pinch.

Open a Word document and type the words using the font "CAC Shishoni Brush" at size 65.  In case you missed it, the words are "not a creature was stirring."  Print the words out onto regular paper.

Cut out the mouse body pieces (the three raindrop shapes) and the words. 

Trace the mouse body pieces onto your felt using the fabric marker.  You can choose any colors you like.  I went with a heather brown for the body and ears and a light pink for the inner parts of the ears.  You'll need one body piece and two of each ear piece.  Cut out each raindrop shape and remove any tracing marks.  Set them aside.

Draw a circle on your graph paper by tracing around the inside of your embroidery hoop with a dark-colored pen.

Tape your piece of graph paper to a window.  I've heard that there is such a thing as a light box for tracing purposes, but since I don't have anything fancy schmancy like that, I use a window.  Oh, and make sure there's daylight outside! 

Tape the words and the mouse body piece how you want them to be laid out within the circle.  I chose to do the words near the top (using the graph paper lines as a guide so that nothing was crooked) and the mouse near the bottom.  Just be sure to leave some space on either side of the mouse for his ears and whiskers.  The tape peels off easily so you can adjust things as you go.

Pencil in a mouse tail.  I chose to make mine cross over the letter "g" - but you feel free to make your little mouse's tail do whatever it wants.  When you're happy with the tail, trace over it with a fine tipped pen.

Iron your fabric and tape it over the graph paper on the window.  Tape all four corners and add a couple of pieces of tape to each side to keep the fabric from shifting while you're tracing.

Trace the entire design (the outer circle, the mouse body and tail, the words) onto the fabric using the fabric marker.  When you're done tracing, remove everything from the window and make sure your fabric is tape-free.

Trace a circle about 2" outside of your original circle.  I happened to have a larger embroidery hoop, so that's what I used.  It doesn't have to be a perfect circle by any means.

Cut along the large circle that you just made.  I used pinking shears, but regular scissors will do.

Secure your fabric in your embroidery hoop.  The traced circle should act as a rough guide so you can center your design.  Check to make sure that it's still centered when it hangs by quickly hanging it on the wall.  It'll hook onto any nail or tack.

Stitch the letters.  I used 4 strands of a dark pink embroidery floss (DMC 3731) and a back stitch.  I think a stem stitch would look really nice, but alas, I know not how to do that one.  Make sure not to embroider the part of the tail that crosses over the letter "g."  See the photo below for more detail.

Stitch the mouse tail.  I used 4 strands of a dark brown embroidery floss (DMC 838) and a whipped back stitch.

Attach the mouse body.  Pin the felt body piece onto your fabric, using the traced raindrop shape as a guide.  I used a running stitch and 2 strands of a light brown embroidery floss (almost matching the color of felt) but I don't know the color code because it was part of my thread scraps.  What?  Doesn't everyone have a nest of random lengths and colors of thread that they can't throw away because they might need them some day?

Leave some space at the point of the raindrop shape for embroidering the nose later. See the photo below for more detail.

Erase all the leftover tracing marks.  I used a squirt bottle to lightly mist any visible marks with water.  Set it aside to dry while you work on the ears.  To speed up drying you can prop it up near a heater vent or use a low setting on your hair dryer...or just be patient.  It really doesn't take very long.

Assemble the ears by pinning the smallest raindrop shape to the larger raindrop shape.  I used 2 strands of a light pink embroidery floss (almost matching the color of the felt) and a running stitch.  Again, it was a scrap thread so I don't know the color code.  Don't judge.

Pinch the point of the ear between your thumb and pointer finger.

With your free hand, pass a needle with 1 strand of brown embroidery floss (to match the felt) through both layers of outer ear felt (the larger raindrop shape).  Start at the bottom and go up through the top, leaving a tail of thread.  Then turn your needle and go down from the top and through the bottom.  That's probably confusing to read, but hopefully the photo below will clear it up.  Basically, you're just trying to discretely secure that pinched shape. 

Knot together the two strands of embroidery floss that are dangling from the bottom of the pinched ear.

Use some really sharp scissors to snip off the excess embroidery floss and the bit of felt just below the stitches you made.

Pin an ear on each side of the mouse body and stitch them into place with 1 strand of embroidery floss to match the smallest raindrop shape.  I stitched a three-pronged shape right at the pointed end of the raindrop.  You should be able to see it in the photo below.

Now it's time to stitch on the face!  For stitching each facial feature, I used the same dark brown embroidery floss that I used to make the tail.  With your fabric pen, draw an elongated "x" shape across the tip of the nose (or where the nose will be pretty soon).  Use 1 strand of embroidery floss and back stitch the whiskers.

Use 4 strands to make a cluster of french knots at the tip of the raindrop shape, overlapping some of the whisker stitches. 

Use 3 strands to make one french knot for each eye.

There you have it!  Your finished mouse in all it's fuzzy felt splendor!

Now that the embroidery is done, let's secure the fabric to the back of the hoop and make everything look neat and tidy.  Trim about half of the excess fabric off.  You just need enough left over to fold to the back of the hoop and glue down, a little more than 1/4 inch.

Make a line of glue about 2 inches long along the wooden part on the back of the hoop.  Fold over the fabric and press it down onto the glue.  There will be little creases in the fabric, but it'll be smooth enough to hang flat on the wall.  Work around the hoop in 2 inch sections, making sure that each section is secure/dry before you move on to the next.

Now you've got a nice little wall hanging! 

You can either call it quits here or continue on and add some embellishments around the hoop to kind of frame it in.  You might add some coordinating ribbon around the flat sides or some buttons and felt stars, like I did.  Just use your craft glue to attach them to the hoop/fabric.

Now you're done and you have the cutest little Christmas decoration to keep or give away ('tis the season, you know).

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

That Chirping Sound Is Coming From My Yarn Basket.

If I didn't have other obligations, I'd go on a bird-making spree!  These amigurumi birds are so simple to make and so darned cute...everyone should have at least one.  Perhaps after the holidays I'll make that my mission.  To each man, woman and child:  a bird!  That'd be an interesting New Year's resolution.

I used a tutorial from a great blog called Bitter Sweet to make little blue bird and little pink bird.  I did just two things differently than the tutorial suggested.  One, I used a G hook because I didn't own an F hook at the time.  Two, I sewed on a small half-circle of felt for a tummy. 

I gave these to a friend of ours for her fourth birthday - but not before they had a chance to get into some mischief.  Apparently, crocheted birds have a very low tolerance for alcohol.  Something to keep in mind if you plan on making any of these.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Truly Corny Thanksgiving Greeting

Corny pun alert!  I stretched my punning abilities to the max coming up with the wording for these last-minute Thanksgiving cards.  The front is simple enough. 

An ear of Indian corn - which is extra special because it's made from the fingerprints of my favorite five year old.  We got the idea from a project that Susannah did at preschool last week - her teacher always plans the best activities.  We had to find a template online because my corn-drawing skills just aren't what they used to be. 

Cute little greeting with a simple and obvious pun on the front...but then when the recipients open it - BAM! - they're hit with a barrage of creative (or annoying, depending on how you look at it) puns.  One after the other....corny puns abound!

I made this photo extra large so that you don't miss a single pun.  Happy Thanksgiving.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Dragonflies in November?

I saw this quick and easy tutorial for making twig dragonflies back in September (at Somewhat Simple).  Susannah and I have been collecting these maple keys (I've always called them helicopter leaves and Susannah refers to them as bunny ear leaves) for the past few months in anticipation of this craft.  I love how they turned out - and the glitter makes them kind of Christmas-y!

Looks a bit like they just jumped out of a plane and are skydiving, doesn't it?  Like I said, these were really simple to make.  Just some maple keys, some twigs, a bit of glitter (we used glitter glue because I'm a mean mom and I have issues with loose glitter in the house), some beads for the eyes and a hot glue gun to hold it all together!

I think the red one is my favorite.  He's like a chameleon dragonfly on the changing blueberry leaves.

I love nature-inspired projects...especially this time of year.  They go nicely with the nut critters we made, too.  Now we just need to make something out of all the beautiful leaves and we'll have a complete fall collection!

    Point of View: A Creative Collaboration,a creative collaboration,point of view,point of view a creative collaboration

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Nut Critters

We live in a neighborhood with lots of nuts.  Not my neighbors - they're perfectly sane.  I mean actual nuts...lots of nut-bearing trees.  Chestnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts and acorns abound this time of year and Susannah and I invariably collect the really good lookin' ones when we're out walking around.  Then, we use them for crafty purposes.   

We used some glitter glue, felt, beads and a hot glue gun to create these little nut critters.  The turkey has a chestnut body, an acorn cap head and helicopter leaves (you know, the things that drop from maple trees) for its feathers.   

The hedgehog is my favorite.  He's got a chestnut body and an acorn cap face.  We glued zig-zagged strips of felt onto the chestnut to make his spines.  Isn't he cute?

Isn't there an old saying...something about "a hedgehog in the hand is worth two in the bush?"  I think that's how it goes. 

Half of a walnut shell transitions nicely to a turtle shell, don't you think? 

I'm not sure what we're going to do with these nut critters, but they're a great rainy day craft project and, judging by the weather forecast, I think we'll be making more in the days to come.


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