Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year-End News

Happy (Almost) New Year!

I got a head start on my projects list by getting this done:

He's so forceful, the little one! 

You can make your own with this kit, now available in my shop!

As with my other kits, I designed the fabric and had it printed by Spoonflower.

Bonus 'cron:
Now that the recipient has received, I wanted to share this...

In real life this Captain America-inspired Christmas present is less washed-out. I had to surreptitiously take pictures in a dark corner as the sun was going down to avoid ruining the surprise!

 Have a fantastic 2015!

Monday, December 22, 2014

That Season Is Definitely Here

Whew! It's a whirlwind here. Christmas is a-coming!

I know it's been a bit of a popcorn-fest on this blog, but I made these "popcorn baubles" up and wanted to share.

This recipe is tweaked from one of my grandmother's old, old, old cookbooks:

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/3 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
32 cups of popped popcorn (takes a bit over 2 batches for me to get enough from my air popper. I get it popping while the syrup is cooking.)

Cook the first 3 ingredients in a small pot over medium to medium-high heat. I stir occasionally most of the time, but, really, I’m a ditz sometimes and I haven’t figured out a way to mess up this recipe up yet.

Put the popped popcorn into lightly greased, shallow containers (don’t include unpopped kernels if you can. They’re no fun.) I use 2 disposable aluminum roasting pans from the grocery store (but I wash them and keep them instead of disposing of them.)

When the syrup reaches softball stage- I use a candy thermometer to tell -quickly stir in the vanilla and salt then pour over the kernels. Stir to coat.

When it’s cool enough for you, grease your hands (butter is tasty!) and get to forming the sweet, corny goodness into balls.

Let cool all the way. If they haven’t been devoured after that, wrap in plastic to keep fresh and/or to hang them.

That's it! In about an hour, you have classic popcorn balls!

You can have bunches of fun dressing them up, like Christmas ornament baubles (above)
or Ice Planets:

I found this fantastic Firefly-inspired dessert idea here.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Exploding Etui Tutorial

I love fabric boxes! All kinds...I think, anyway. But what's so special about these ones? 

They explode!

I made this one for me. The inside grommet tape will hold straight pins and needles (sharp and blunt-tipped) and safety pins that I can use to keep things (little bits of ribbon, bias tape, baggies of supplies) in place while toting them around in this box. 

Etui simply means a small case. I use mine for storing sewing supplies, but they can be used to hold stamps, makeup, etc. Can you imagine one as a little dollhouse, a woodland scene or a city needing saving by some tiny action figures?

Want to make your own exploding box? Read on! No sewing is needed. Perfect gifts for those who don’t sew to make friends who do. Want to sew? Go for it! Glueing is much easier, though, and very sturdy!

You will need:
Chipboard, photo matting, cardboard or the like (maybe balsa wood?)
Thin quilt batting (I used cotton)
Glue (white tacky glue is fine)
Cord (silky cord works nicely)

Grommet tape, fabric, ribbon, ? for inside
Stuff to decorate outside (grommet tape, embroidery floss, beads, etc.)

Determine what shape, dimensions, features, whatever you want for your box. Cut the chipboard (or substitute) however you need. My new box is 4” x 6”. I cut four 4x6 pieces and two 4x4. Then I cut four 3.75x5.75” pieces and two 3.75x3.75 for the inside.

  Glue one side of all your pieces to the quilt batting. Cut batting to same size as board.

Cut your fabric so each piece is about a quarter to a half an inch bigger on each side of its board. Don’t glue the fabric onto the batting!

Lay chipboard batting side down on the wrong side of the fabric. Glue the corners of the fabric on the back (chipboard side) first then do the same with the edges.

Make sure everything dries securely.

Clothespins work well. So does sticking things under a book or laptop to dry.

To make a hinge cut a strip or cloth as long as the edges you’re joining and about 1.5”-2” wide. Glue in half so right sides are showing both ways. Make enough for all the pieces you are hinging together.

To keep things nice and tidy trim hinges like so:

Push outside pieces close together (making sure it’s the layout you want) and glue the hinges on the back. Weigh down and let dry. (Afterwards, I put on the outside grommet tape. It's completely optional.)

Take this opportunity to get interior decorating! 
For the pin and needle holders I cut grommet tape to a little longer than the length of the chipboard...

…centered it onto the piece then glued it down on the back.

 Glue down inside pieces. I started with ones that wouldn’t have silky cord string attached (the lid underside and the bottom.)

 Cut and attach cord. Mine are around 22-23 inches long. Glue to back of front piece then glue back piece on top and help it dry securely. 

Cut small pieces of cord for the loops. Glue them down so about a quarter of an inch sticks up past the edge. Thread long strings through and adjust loop size as needed. It should be a snug fit. Glue back piece on top.

Let dry. The waiting is the hardest part!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend Snow!

It snowed!

Around here, we don't get a lot of snow. Some people like that, but I am not one of them. 

When I got up this morning and saw snow, I ran outside. This happened:

Happy snow day!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

That Season Has Begun

It started off non-festively. I entered the mall looking for a geeky card of some sort to send along with this exploding sewing kit...

(Oh, what a horrible picture! It is much more red in real life. Tutorial with good pictures to come.)

...which I ended up not finding. However, I did end up leaving with my first Christmas present purchase of the year.

Since then, I've started Christmas crafting. Boo. But, hopefully, I'll skip the last-minute rush and, you know, I get to craft so yay!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Aaaaaand done!

I did it! I actually did it!

I've been making these for ages- not kits, just the surprisingly handy little macaron (or macaroon if you prefer) coin purse key fobs. I love how they're a little (1.5"!) canvas. The perfect size for a tiny design! 
I've hand-drawn or painted my others, but, for the kits (this one now available in my shop, more to come), I learned to make designs to upload to Spoonflower. It's not nearly as scary as I thought it'd be! I didn't have to learn Photoshop for it either. I have developed a kind of block against learning Photoshop.

Lots of photos were taken for the instructions. Lots. Of. Photos.

Two whole test 'croons were made: One for the photos and one to make sure my instructions made sense. The white and yellow one is the latter. I wanted a kind-of blank sample, but I do love yellow so much. And orange. Red is good too. Warm colors make me happy!

Finishing a project makes me happy too! 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fabric Paper (Popcorn) Bag Bag Tutorial

I’ve always wanted a bag based off a paper bag. I really like paper bags. They’re such a good size for so many things! I also really like popcorn. This Halloween I wanted to join the circus if you'll recall, so I got off my duff and made this:

Now it's time for this:

I used:
A paper lunch bag
Fabric for the outside (and fabric paint, masking tape, sponge brush, etc. to paint the stripes on the muslin if you're doing that. There are tons of great tutorials out there for painting fabric. This tutorial is just for the bag part. You can jazz it up or tame it down anyway you want!)
Lining fabric
Drawstring closure fabric (I used unpainted muslin. Cut 2 pieces as long as the top edge of your bag + 1/2” seam allowance and as tall as 1/2 of the finished bag width + 2” seam allowance so it can close in the middle.)
Interfacing (I used some cheap, light-weight stuff to give it a lunch bag personality.)
General sewing supplies like scissors, sewing machine, pins, etc.

After settling on a plan of action, I snagged a paper bag from the pantry and cut it open like this to use as my pattern:

Next time, I will square it up before cutting. What a silly mistake!

I just added 1/2” for the seam allowance by measuring that far away all around the bag except for the top (I wanted mine a smidgen shorter, so I didn’t add any on the straight parts there.) Draw where you want the seam allowance to be for the curved cut-outs at the top of the bag. Cut like this for the outside and lining.

Make and attach pockets if desired. (I just had one inside to hold my ID and such. Don’t forget to allow for the gusset and top seam when positioning.)

Take outer body piece and fold in half right-sides together so the edges of the small rectangles meet and the long edges are even. Sew. Repeat with other side. Repeat with lining, leaving an opening to turn bag through (or not. As long as the stitch length isn’t on teeny-tiny, the seam ripper is my friend. And it sure helps with pressing to sew it all closed)

Press open side seams. Trim to 1/4” if you want.

Take 1 body piece and open out a small rectangle so that the edges meet in 1 line, with the side-seam in the center of 1 side. Sew right-sides together with your seam allowance. Repeat with the other side and with the lining.

Iron in folds (like a paper bag!)

Sew closure pieces right sides together along short sides. Press open seams. Fold seam allowances under so the edges meet the seam like this…

…and iron.
Sew seam allowances down close to the edge, like hems. 


Press top edge of closure under 1/4”. Press under another 3/4”. Sew close to the edge.

With seam ripper open the side seams sewn into the hem. Slipstitch the inside side and the bottom 1/4” or so of the outside closed so the opening is only on the outside and the 1/4” raw edge inside is covered. These will be the openings for the drawstrings.

Time to put it all together!

Slip closure piece on the outside piece, aligning edges and side seams, right side facing right side of outer. Slip lining piece on, right side facing wrong side of closure, aligning edges and side seams. Sew around top edge using your seam allowance. Turn through lining and press, poking the rounds (and everything else) into shape!

Top stitch around top edge 3/4” away from the top edge with the closure tucked down inside.

Slipstitch lining opening closed.

Insert string for 1 side of drawstring in and out through 1 side. Knot. Repeat, going in and out through other side.

Your fabric paper bag bag is complete! Yay!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I ran away and joined the circus.

I decided that this Halloween I'd join the circus!

I made the dress...

...and lined it:

I bought both fabrics at the thrift store ages ago and was saving them with this costume in mind.

For a special weekend at the zoo (discount on admission if you come in costume!) I just wore a back cardi underneath:

But then I got the idea to cut apart some fishnet tape-style yarn, sew it together in strips and make "sleeves":

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love the fun, the food, the mystery, the costumes, the creativity. It's the best!

I certainly had a great time this year.

Next up: Let's extend the season a bit with a tutorial on making your own drawstring "paper" bag. Popcorn bag stripes optional!

ps - check out Sew Geeky's linkup for some brilliant costumes!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

1st Post (and Tutorial!): Customized Fortune Cookies

Well, here it is. My blog. I hope you'll find it interesting!

I've thought about blogging for a while, but, meh, it just wasn't on my priorities list. Now, though, I think it might be fun! Among a few other things, I plan to share my crafting adventures, so, without further ado, here's a tutorial for customized fortune cookies!

I really wanted to put my own fortunes in fortune cookies without all the fuss of making my own cookies. I was afraid that steaming them open would make them tough and icky to eat, but no!

Print/write your fortunes before you start. These are about 3 1/2 inches long and a 1/2 inch wide. I had to fold mine to get them to fit in the cookies so you might want to make yours less than 3 inches. Get your store-bought cookies out of their packaging as well.

Wrap 1 fortune cookie in a damp paper towel. Tuck the ends of the towel under it. Make sure it is covered. 

Put the cookie in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds. Mine took 20 seconds to start and 15 toward the end when the microwave was nice and steamy. You do not want to over cook and you do not want to let the cookie cool off.

Gently open that sucker and take out the old, boring fortune. Quick as a wink stuff in the new, awesome fortune! Needless to say, caution: hot.

As soon as the new fortune is in the cookie, gently but firmly hold the cookie closed and folded in the correct fortune cookie shape until it is pretty cool and holds its shape on its own.

Presentation is everything! Or, at least, freshness. Store your cookies in a baggie or something or eat right away. The Chinese take-out box and packaging is totally your call.

Enjoy! And come back soon for more (hopefully!) interesting posts!