Tuesday, March 30, 2010

i'll show you mine if you show me yours . . .

I'm talking about crafts and creations of course.  Get your mind out of the gutter. :)  I've been showing you mine for three months now, and once a week in my Saturday Spotlight post I want you to show me yours.  So . . . take a picture of your latest craft/creation or one you've done in the past and really like.  Then send that picture my way via e-mail - lizbeth694@aol.com - so I can show off your project on an upcoming Saturday Spotlight as a source of inspiration to others.

Check out some past Saturday Spotlights and see that pretty much anything you can make can be a source of inspiration. 

Craft on!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

sunday kids' craft: scavanger hunt for signs of spring

Spring is here . . . maybe.  Although we have celebrated the official start of spring at our house, I'm still a little cautious about fully embracing its arrival.  After all, where I live there is bound to be one more snowstorm as mother nature teases us and toys with our emotions.  But as I am fully anticipating mother nature to "drop the other shoe", so to speak, and cover the greening grass with a blanket of white, I am also enjoying the signs that spring will one day soon be here in all its glory.  

To celebrate the first full day of spring, we went on a scavenger hunt to uncover signs of spring.  I didn't want to tell them what the signs of spring were, so I didn't give them a list of things to find.  (I guess I'm always looking for those "teachable moments" like any annoying mom would.)  Rather, I gave them simple instructions, "We are going on a scavenger hunt in search of spring.  Point out all the things that you see that are different now than the things you saw in winter." 

Their powers of perception were amazing.  Even at four and two, the differences between spring and winter were everywhere, and they were giddy with excitement as they pointed out the buds on the neighbor's tree, the greening grass next to the melting pile of snow that used to be a mountain in our front yard, the bird making a nest, kids playing ball with their dad, the puddle perfect for jumping in, etc.  They spied all these great finds with their toilet paper binoculars, and they took pictures with their imaginary cameras . . . while I took pics with the actual camera.  Check out some of our spring finds.   
After the scavenger hunt, there was more fun to be had in crafting and authoring our very own book, "Snapshots of Spring".

We printed our pictures and went to the craft cupboard and took out:

* 5 - 5 x 7 craft foam sheets in spring colors
* scrapbook supplies with spring colors and themes (stickers, paper, cardstock, brads, etc.)
* ribbon
* hole punch
* scissors
* glue and glue dots (the best invention ever for crafting with kids)

1)  Let your kids pick out there favorite pics.  I was working with a 4 year old and a 2 year old.  So . . . knowing that I was up against the clock when it came to their attention spans, we picked out only 7 photos. 

2)  Use hole punch to punch holes on left side of each foam sheet.  We punched two holes in cover sheet then used that sheet as a top-guide to punch the other holes so that they would all line up.  This is a good step to do first so kids know where not to put photos, stickers, etc.  You will notice from my picture that we did not do this first . . . so . . . I learned from experience that you SHOULD do this step first.

3)  Choose foam sheet for the cover your book and design your cover.  We used a utility knife (Okay, I used a utility knife.  I'm all for letting kids do most of the work on kids' crafts, but I draw the line at letting a 4 year old use a utility knife.) to cut a square out of the center of the sheet, pasted a picture in the opening and added a contrasting frame around the opening. 

4)  Use other foam sheets as your pages, your canvas for your photos.  Let kids glue photos on and embellish according to theme. 

5)  Line up the holes of all pages and bind together with ribbon.  Tie securely with a little bit of give so that the pages can be turned easily. 

6)  Let kids sign the front or back as the author and illustrator.  (Then explain what an author and an illustrator are - just in case they don't know yet . . . yes, another lame teachable moment.)

We plan on doing this for every season this year.  By December, we'll have a book for spring, summer, fall and winter.  Enjoy your own seasonal expeditions and . . .

craft on!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

saturday spotlight - over 400 dolls and one inspirational woman

Today's Saturday Spotlight was a tough one . . . because there are soooo many people/projects I wanted to highlight this week.  But as I was trying to decide, Sarah posted this exciting update on her blog, Dolly Donations:

"With over 400 dolls in New York, I am happy to announce that we have Officially Completed The Abundant Ground Orphanage Doll Drive!
I would like to thank each and every one of you for sharing your talent, love and compassion with the children of the Abundant Ground Orphanage in Croix des Bouquets, Haiti, through the beautiful dolls you have made."

You might remember that some friends and I gathered a few weeks ago to add some dolls to the donation total.  We sent off 18 dolls over the course of a couple of weeks (and we have about six left to finish for the next dolly drive).  Through Sarah's inspirational cause over 400 dolls were made and sent to children in Haiti.  If this is the first time you've heard of Sarah and Dolly Donations, be sure to become a follower of her blog so that you can become a part of the next dolly drive.  

Be inspired and craft on!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

tenth craft till christmas: monogrammed wall art

If you've been following along on my tenth craft till Christmas this month, you know that I've been struggling a bit with . . . I mean, succeeding immensely at . . . procrastination.  When I finally set to work on this month's craft, I just couldn't get myself psyched up to do a towel with Heat n Bond applique.  Great idea . . . check it out . . . but it's just not for me this month. 

So . . . I decided to experiment with Heat n Bond to come up with my own variation of this idea.  After last month's Molly Monkey - which was a HUGE learning curve for this sewing novice, this little craft added its own little learning curve to my crafting/sewing repertoire because I've never used Heat n Bond (hadn't even heard of it until three weeks ago) and I had no idea how to do hand stitching. 

Here's the process I used to make these monogrammed wall hangings for my kids' rooms. 

First things first . . . rummage through your supplies and grab the following:
  • a 13 x 15 rectangle of fabric for the background (this is the piece you will stitch your monogram onto)
  • 1 - 10 x 5 rectangle of fabric for two of the letters
  • 1 - 5 x 5 square of fabric in coordinating color for one letter  (You could also use 3 5 x5 squares is you wanted all the letters to be in a different color.)
  • Heat n Bond or similar product cut to similar size - either 3 - 5 x 5s or 1 - 10 x 5 and 1 - 5 x 5
  • embroidery thread
  • duct tape (I used clear.)
  • an 11 x 14 picture frame
  • piece of cardboard to fit frame
1) Decide on the size you want your finished product to be.  I choose 11 x 14 for one and 5 x 7 for the other.  This tutorial is based on the 11x 14 version as the project model, but with your own variations, the options are endless.

2) Set up your design using your favorite computer program with the size you have chosen as your template document.  What you see below is what I wanted my finished monogram to look like.  Now, you know the perfect size for your letters.

3)  Copy and paste each of these letters onto a blank page. (Depending on the size of the letters you might be able to fit more than one letter on each page.)  Print and cut out each letter.  Put aside.

4)  Iron 10 x 5 and 5 x5 piece to similar sized Heat n Bond pieces using product directions. 

5)  Place paper letters BACKWARDS on Heat n Bond, trace with pen/pencil and cut out.  (Please pay special attention to the word in all capitals - BACKWARDS.  This might seem obvious to pretty much everyone except me, but I learned this the hard way.   If you can see the black outline of your paper letters, you DO NOT have them the right way!  See exhibits A and B below.) 

6) After repeating all the above steps because you cut out your letters backwards . . . oh, wait . . . that was probably just me . . . so, if you cut out your letters correctly the first time, congratulations!  Head on down to step 7.

7)  Remove Heat n Bond's paper-backing and place your letters on your 13 x 15 background fabric facing up.  Then iron letters on background fabric using product directions.

8)  Using embroidery thread hand stitch letters on to background.  I used the backstitch for the VERY FIRST TIME!  Woohoo!  You could also use the stem stitch - a fave of mine, or any stitch that trips your trigger.  This was a painstaking process - ugh! 

9)  Take your 13 x 15 piece (that now has the letters embroidered on it), and place it facing down on your work surface.  Then place the 11 x 14 cardboard down on the backside over the fabric.  You can see in the first picture below that I actually used the matting and cardboard that was already in the frame.  Then wrap the cardboard similar to the way you would wrap a present using duct tape to secure the fabric tightly in place.  It won't wrap completely closed like a present because there are only two extra inches on each side. 

10)  Turn it over to make sure the monogram is in your preferred place.  Then place it inside your picture frame.

11)  Tada!  You've finished a beautiful personalized piece of wall art. 

Now, reality tells me that my 2 and 4 year old girls will not think that these personalized pieces of art are the most amazing Christmas gifts under the tree next Christmas.  However, hopefully they'll appreciate the love that went into each and every stitch . . . someday!

This is great for gift giving - whether for a wedding gift with the couple's initials, wall art for a child's room, a gift for a friend, or to add a little something to a bare wall in your house.

Think creatively, give generously and . . .
craft on!

**Linking this project to the CSI Project for the week of June 22.  Click on the button to check out more great ideas for wall decor, frames, etc.

Visit thecsiproject.com

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

i'm not cut out for this!

Here's the thing . . . I'm not cut out to do giveaways!  I've actually spent time today thinking about the possibility of making travel rolls for everyone who posted a comment because I CAN'T STAND the idea of only one person winning.  I feel horrible!  The reality is that I don't have time to make travel rolls for all of you, but I REEEEEAAAALLY want to.  So hopefully my heartfelt thanks for reading and commenting will be enough.  

That brings me to the winner of the travel roll.  My oldest daughter - who can now count to 100 and does so at any opportunity - picked the number 4 because as she says, "That's how old I am and it's a good number."  I took out the two posts that I made in response to questions and that brought me down to the fourth post left by an amazing artist named Katy David who said, "I LOVE the chrysanthemum print on that subtle straw color. Beautiful and a great idea! Want want want!"  So Katy e-mail me at lizbeth694@aol.com with your address, so I can send you your brand new travel roll.  

Again, thank you for reading and commenting.  I honestly do wish I had enough travel rolls for every single one of you!!!    

Craft on!

Monday, March 22, 2010

learning to ride a bike at age 32

Okay, I'm not actually learning to ride a bike at age thirty-two.  (Yikes, now you know how young - or old, depending on how you look at it - I am.)  But I am learning - teaching myself some basic stitches I probably should have learned about the time I was learning to ride a bike.  Since I'm a crafting and sewing novice, I've been learning as I go.  Thank goodness for the internet with its wealth of tutorials, videos and step-by-step instructions available at the click of some keys and the push of a button! 

Last night, I confessed my supreme success at procrastination and re-committed myself to working on my tenth craft till Christmas which involves fabric scraps, Heat n Bond, a photo frame and some embroidery thread.  Last night I learned to use Heat n Bond - not so successfully at first . . . hence the backwards "R" that a few of you guessed right last night and this morning.  Tonight I learned this . . . 
That's right at the age of thirty-two I finally learned to do a backstitch.  I also learned how to do a stem stitch - which, by the way, is now my new favorite stitch.  Of course, since I now know a total of only three stitches, I guess being at the top of the list isn't that great of a success for the stem stitch. 

So . . . I'm excited to be making some progress on my tenth craft till Christmas, and at some point I can't wait to share even more pictures of it with you.  In the mean time . . .

craft on!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

my middle name is procrastination

Okay, that's not really my middle name, but I've been really, really, REALLY good at it for . . . well, my entire life.  (This probably isn't news to some of you - like my high school Spanish teacher who recently began following this blog.  Hi Mrs. Maxwell!)  And my utter success at procrastination has been really shining through on this tenth craft till Christmas.  After all, perhaps you've noticed that it's March 21, and I have yet to post even once about this elusive craft since my initial tenth craft post the first week of March. 

I've had a few people ask me how it's going, and I have reluctantly confessed my lack of motivation.  But it's true, ever since I posted about the tenth craft, I've had zero desire to actually work on it.  I've turned to wood and paint and anything with the word "roll" in it, but I just couldn't muster up an ounce of excitement over something called Heat n Bond . . . maybe it reminded me too much of my rocky start with fusible interfacing.  

Well, tonight I got over it.  I looked at the calendar, realized that I had only ten days left until the end of the month, and got to work.  I wasn't jazzed about the idea of working with a towel, so I decided to create my own little craft that involves fabric scraps, Heat n Bond, and a picture frame.  I'll post more about it later this week.  

However, in true Elizabeth-form, my initial experience with Heat n Bond did not go according to plan.  There were many flops and flubs and failures tonight.  This picture is case in point.  

If you've been journeying with me since January, you know how I love to play guessing games.  So . . . here's another one - this one is eeeeasy!  What's wrong with this picture?

Craft on!     
SYS Thurs

Saturday, March 20, 2010

saturday spotlight - rolling pins aren't just for baking

This is a first for Saturday spotlight . . . I'm highlighting the craftiness of someone I don't know.  Although I didn't plan it, my posts this week had a common theme.  See if you can guess the theme.  On Monday, the girls and I used toilet paper rolls to make rain sticks and binoculars.  And on Thursday, I finally made a craft for myself, a friend and a giveaway - a travel roll-up.  

Yep, that's right.  Both posts find their common bond it some kind of roll.  I felt compelled to use my Saturday spotlight to continue the theme, and I found this amazing idea Amy at Craft Chi for making a unique print with a rolling pin.  Super creative!  Actually, I plan on trying this tomorrow night for our kids' craft night.  I'm going to make it a bit simpler for kids to do by using foam stickers that we have on hand.  I look forward to posting about our attempts tomorrow night.  Stay tuned and . . .

craft on!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

make it: a make-up brush travel roll tutorial and giveaway

I've been making a lot of stuff for kids lately, so I thought it was time to make something for the adult friends in my life.  Okay...the truth is that I wanted to make something for myself.  Yes, that's right, this little project was born from completely selfish motives...although I did make three of these little roll ups - one for myself, one for a friend's birthday and one for you...or at least one of you.  Leave a comment below by Monday, March 29 at 11:59 PM (give-away is now over, but stick around and learn how to make your own), and my oldest daughter will randomly pick a number to determine who is the super lucky winner of a super amazing travel roll.  (I figure if I use the word "super" enough, you will start to believe that this travel roll is indeed super.  Did it work?)  So let's begin.  

Things to grab before you begin:
*2 - 11 x 8 inch strips of fabric (one for the front and one for the back of the main body of the roll)
*1 - 11 x 8 inch strip of fusible interfacing (this will be sandwiched between the front and back strips)
*1 - 11 X 9 inch strip of fabric (this is for the pocket)
*1 - 20 inch length of ribbon

Step 1-
Iron on fusible interfacing to the 11 x 8 piece that the pocket will eventually be sewn to.  This is a great project to use up that jean material you've been saving from a pair of jeans you no longer wear.  However, I did use a really thin dark jean material.  (My relationship with fusible interfacing got off to a rocky start in January when I first worked with it, but now I've grown to appreciate it's unique role.  If you are unfamiliar with fusible interfacing or how to use it, click here for a little more info.)  

Step 2- 
Fold the 11 x 9 piece in half wrong sides together (the sides that you don't want to show are touching one another) to make the piece 11 x 4 1/2 (or almost 4 1/2).  Iron this piece.  This is the pocket piece.

Step 3-
Use a disappearing ink pen (find this at your local sewing or hobby store . . . LOVE IT!) to mark the lines you will sew on the pocket.  If you are someone who can sew straight lines, then you can skip this.  If you, like me, couldn't sew a straight line if your life depended on it, then the disappearing ink pen is your best friend.  You will want to vary the width of each space based on the brushes or tools (i.e. nail clippers, tweezers, cotton swabs, etc) you plan on putting in this travel roll.  I used a variety of widths - 1 1/4 inches to 3/4 inches.  Make sure the two end widths allow for the seam.

Step 4-
Sew this pocket piece to the bottom half of the front, or inside 11 x 8 piece that also as the fusible interfacing ironed on it (this is the piece that you will not see when it's rolled up) by sewing over the disappearing ink lines you marked on the pocket.  Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of each line.

Step 5-
When you've finished sewing the various-sized pockets, take the ribbon and fold it in half.  Pin the ribbon to one of the sides of the pocket piece at the half way point so that the ribbon lays on top across the piece with just a little bit of the fold hanging over.  Well, that was as clear as mud.  I clearly didn't explain that well, so check out the picture.   

Step 6-
Take this newly constructed pocket piece with the ribbon pinned to it and put it right sides together with the other 11 x 8 piece. (This means that the sides you want showing when the piece is finished should be touching so you can't see them.)  Pin these two pieces together.

Step 7-
Sew these two pieces together with a 1/4 seam, but leave about 2 inches unsown for turning.  (First picture - notice the 2 inch gap.)  I highly recommend leaving the 2 inch gap somewhere at the top of the roll - in other words, not where the pocket fabric is...although the roll is upside down in this picture so it looks like the gap in at the bottom.  Clip the corners to take of the point of the corner.  (This is a wonderful suggestion that I had no clue about until an expert sewer told me about while working on one of my first sewing projects.  This takes the bulk out of the corners.)  Turn the roll right sides out.  (Second picture - again notice gap in top left hand corner.)

Step 8-
Fold in the two inch gap and iron.  Then sew around the roll 1/4 inch or less from the edge, closing the 2 inch gap up. 

Step 10-
Immediately plan a trip to some exotic place...like Des Moines, Iowa...so you can use your travel roll to keep your brushes, nail files, clippers, etc. in order.  (If you have no idea where Des Moines, Iowa is, then this joke will be lost on you.  I can assure you that it is not an exotic destination, but it is a place I've been often.) 

It's highly likely that something in this tutorial doesn't make sense or is unclear.  Please let me know if anything could be more clearly explained or if you have any questions and...
craft on!

**I'm working on a little bag to go with this.  That's been a little more difficult for my non-crafty hands to figure out though, so it will probably be a week before I have that tutorial done. 

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