Monday, December 12, 2011

Quick Crafting

Still not a lot of crafting going on - it's been difficult to get motivated. I did manage to whip up four juggling balls, a doughnut, and a cupcake for a stocking exchange at work:
The picture was snapped with my cell phone - not the greatest - but I didn't mind since I've been making the doughnuts, cupcakes, and juggling balls/hackey sacks for a long time. The other goodies in the stocking include a puzzle cube, two fun pens, two puzzle books, some suckers, and two lotions. The card is handmade - leftover from my stash of cards from Christmas past. I think this particular card is from 2009, the last year that I handmade our cards. The stocking is from Hobby Lobby - I wish they had more, I want one for myself!

So, I think this brings me up to 27 crafted projects in 2011! Even with my upcoming vacation from work, I know I won't meet my goal of 50 projects. But, it's okay. I'm proud that I managed to complete a little over half my goal. If I truly counted each item made (as in, each altered puzzle as it's own project) my total is 37 projects. Hmm, even better!

Even though I won't meet my goal of 50, I plan to complete a few more projects by the end of 2011. Starting this Friday at 4:30 p.m., I'll be on vacation until January 3, 2012, which means plenty of time to craft, and hopefully time to develop a healthy habit of regular exercise. Here's a mini-list of the projects I hope to finish by the time I return to work in 2012 (in priority order):

  • denim cupwarmers (Christmas gifts, and project for the blog at work)
  • cord bracelets (Christmas gifts)
  • messenger bag 
  • wallet to match 
  • accessory bags to match
  • afghan - "c" (need to finish by the end of February)
  • amigurumi "d" and "r"
 I'm also going to do some baking this year. I've gotten away from baking in the past couple of years, but with all the time off, it's worth it to give it a go. Sugar cookies are a must, as are buckeyes. I won't bother with peanut blossoms this year - Husband doesn't eat them, and my mom's are always better anyway. I also found this recipe for chocolate fudge S'more thumbprints, so I'll give them a try. I think I'll try rice krispie treats again - my last attempt failed, but maybe I'll have better luck this time.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Two New Projects ... Finally!

Life's been crazy, but I managed to finish a couple of projects for my nephew's birthday ...

An iSpy bag! There are over 50 objects hidden in the bag. Objects were grouped and photographed to make the little cards. I typed the items on the back so he can use the pictures to find items now, and the words when he's older. My sewing is getting better - straighter lines! The grommets are a first. I used the cement porch outside to hammer them in, and ended up with tiny rips in the fabric. Next time I'll use a towel between the cement and the fabric! A few little dabs of fray check seemed to hide the rips.

A drawstring bag for ...

Dinosaur Train Memory! The images were printed from official Dinosaur Train field guide. Have you ever watched the show? It's so cute! And, check this out - Dinosaur Train geocaches! I'd really like to get into geocaching and letterboxing ... do I really have time for another hobby, though?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hiatus is Over!

Wow, the craft hiatus is definitely over. Get ready for a long post, because I've got quite a few projects finished!

Agenda Cover
Okay, so this has been finished for a while, I just haven't had a chance to post pictures. Even though the bias tape isn't stitched perfectly, I'm happy with the overall piece. It's a major improvement over the super-ugly brown color of my 2011-2012 calendar. The bad news - I'm a little sick of seeing the fabric, and it's the same fabric I'll be using to make the liner for the corduroy bag! Oh well, I'll like it again soon!

The pattern was provided by a co-worker. The original pattern is for a legal pad cover, and it took just a few modifications to get it to work as a cover for my agenda. Of course, there were quite a few mistakes in my mod planning! It was definitely a learning experience. I also added the business card holder and the extra flap pockets. I also added the cardstock monthly tabs - it's so much easier to flip between months now!

Little House of Horrors
It's finally finished, and posted. I've been working on this project for over a year! Inspired by Knickertwist's amazing fairy and whimsy houses on Craftster. Once I saw her amazing work, I knew I wanted to try my own version. We needed some type of Halloween decoration for our mantle and we love horror movies, so a horror movie inspired little house seemed like a natural fit.

Yes, this is the very same horror house project that sent my into my craft hiatus! I had stayed up super-late one night to try to finish the piece. My original plan was to glue sticks to the roof. The plan failed, and I gave up. Then, I found the moss at the bottom of the project bag. I had picked up the moss at the dollar store several months ago - I think I had originally planned to use it as carpet in the bedroom of the house. But, last night, I used it on the roof of the house. Not only does it add a little earthiness to the house, it also helps cover up the hot glue mess. Hooray!

Inside shots:

Upcycled Jewelry
At work, we have a huge teen event coming up, and I'm facilitating an upcycled jewelry workshop. I needed to whip up a couple of samples - a pop tab bracelet and a woven bracelet using a kumihimo weaving wheel and cassette tapes. I also tried using an 8-track tape, I think the results turned out a little bit better - what do you think? (The 8-track is the thicker bracelet.)

No pictures, but I also finished a Dinosaur Field Guide and dinosaur memory game using printables from Dinosaur Train's web site. The two pieces will be gifts for my nephew's birthday. So happy the hiatus is over!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Crafting Hiatus

Wow, I can't believe how long it's been since I've posted. It's been a crazy few weeks. I did finally finish the agenda cover, but I haven't taken pics yet. The little horror house just did me in. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning on July 31, hoping to finish the project. I've put so many hours into it, and I was determined to have it finished for the July challenge on the "50 Projects..." board. Around midnight, I realized I wasn't going to finish in time for the deadline, but I kept at it anyway. Finally, as I tried (in vain) to glue sticks to the roof, I gave up. I actually gave up. I think it broke me - I haven't crafted anything since.

What happened? The hot glue was just messy, and it kept showing through the sticks. It looked terrible. Sure, the house project is supposed to be a little house of horrors, but that doesn't mean it should look sloppy. It just wasn't the quality I expect of myself. And, after all the work went into all the other little details of the project, it just doesn't feel right to put together a sloppy roof. I think I've found a solution, but I haven't been able to bring myself to go back to it. Hopefully this week I'll have it in me to give this new idea a try.

So, with this hiatus, I'm not sure if I'll be able to meet my "Post on every Craftster board..." goal. I'm going to keep trying, though!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Craft Fail and a Tiny Win

Let's start with the fail - they're not horrible, but these stenciled totes definitely did not turn out like I expected. Here's where both bags started:

Grabbed my seam ripper and took out all the embroidery. Then I traced and cut my freezer paper stencils. When I started ironing the stencils to the bag, I wondered if there would be issues. The bags are made from a canvas-ish type of material and the freezer paper didn't seem to want to stick very well, especially in the areas with delicate cutting. Anyway, here are the two finished bags:

If you look closely, you can see where the paint bled under the stencil. No huge deal, but I'm not thrilled either. I'm also not thrilled with the paint itself. I usually use paint meant for screen printing fabric - I think it's by Speedball - but I didn't want to spend the extra $ to get the super nice metallic paint. Instead, I used Plaid's Simply Screen paints. The paint just didn't give me the solid metallic look I was hoping for. It could just be because of the canvas-ish fabric, or because the fabric is black. Oh well - the totes are just for organizing and carrying various craft projects. At least they weren't gifts for other people!

Here's the tiny bit of win - a fused bubble wrap bracelet:

The bracelet looks kinda sparse - I think it needs some charms or something. Maybe later I'll turn this bracelet into the shrink art playbill bracelet ...

The technique is from this tutorial on Craftster. After fusing the bubble wrap, I wasn't sure I'd be happy with the final look. It didn't seem to look as nice as the fused pieces in the tutorial's pictures. Once I punched out some circles, though, it was all good!

So, July has been going well. This weekend I plan to break out the sewing machine to tackle that tote bag, the wristlet, the agenda cover and maybe even a superhero monster ninni!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Pillows and Dino Shirt

The sound effects pillows are finished! What an adventure - first time sewing piping, first time using the zipper foot, heck it's the first time I've even changed the foot on my sewing machine. Here's the finished product:
And, the close ups:

All three pillows were supposed to have envelope backs. Unfortunately I was too cut-happy on the yellow shirt and I had to stick with a plain old regular back. After learning my lesson, I was able to use the envelope style on both red pillows.

The images are from the pillows at Jellio. Who can afford to spend $60 - each - on those pillows? Mine are better anyway - black piping and colors that help tie the guest room together. Making and using the stencils was fun - I love the reveal, pulling off the freezer paper to find the crisp, clean lines is exciting!

This dinosaur shirt isn't on the list, but I had a spare child-sized t-shirt and my stenciling supplies were out. My nephew loves dinosaurs, so crafting up a quick dinosaur shirt was a nice way to clear another supply out of my craft closet:

It's a size or two too large, but it'll be a great pajama shirt or smock.

Stenciling supplies are still out - now it's time to work on those tote bags!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

July's List

The moderator for the 50 Projects craftalong posts monthly challenges. The challenge for June was to craft something inspired by another post on Craftster. Most of my crafty to-do list is inspired from other posts on Craftster, so it should have been an easy challenge! Unfortunately the altered puzzles took longer than I anticipated and I didn't get a chance to participate in the June challenge.

Today, I noticed the July challenge - craft something for the holidays. I don't want to add anything else to my list at this time, but I could definitely finish the little house of horrors! After all, the plan is to use the finished house as a Halloween decoration. Trying to get the house finished will be challenge - there are other projects that have to take priority right now.

So, to help keep me on task and motivated, here's my July priority list:
  1. dino shirt for nephew
  2. sound fx pillows
  3. BSG tote
  4. Whedon tote
  5. bubble wrap necklace
  6. cord tote and accessory bag
  7. agenda cover and tabs
  8. wristlet
  9. horror house
  10. sound fx canvases
I'd also like to craft a couple of Monster Ninnis while I have the sewing machine out. I have some leftover fabric bits from other projects, and I'm sure I'll have some leftover fabric from the matching bag/tote/wristlet/agenda set. But if the Ninnis aren't finished for July, no big deal.

The shirt for my nephew is a bonus project. The shirt was leftover from making the pillow covers and since I'll have the freezer paper stencil supplies out anyway why not stencil a dinosaur on the shirt. The shirt will be a little  big, but he can use it for pajamas or a smock. The BSG and Whedon totes - I hadn't planned to work on those projects either, but since the stenciling supplies are out, why not?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Altered Puzzles

They're finally finished! I wanted to create some kind of artwork to hang on the wall opposite the mural in the guest room. Inspired by the altered puzzles on Craftster, I decided to create an altered puzzle series using comic book characters.

The first one made was the Batman themed set. Compared with the other three, I'm not as happy with the result - it just doesn't look as nice. But it's okay - it was my first, so it's to be expected that I wouldn't hit my stride until working on the other puzzles later!

Next up was the set for the rest of the DC Comics crew:

Then it was time to move to Marvel, beginning with the X-Men:

Finally, the rest of the Marvel gang. This one was started - and finished - yesterday:

Today, all four were hung on the wall in the guest room. The final result:

I'm surprised at how low-cost the project was. The puzzles are from the dollar store and I used scrapbook paper already on hand. The pictures were printed on our printer here at home, using nice photo paper that has been stashed in the drawer for a few years. I already had two black 12x12 frames, so I picked up two more when they were on sale at Hobby Lobby. The most expensive pieces were the mats - I think they were about $6 each. Not too shabby!

Also surprising - the amount of time it took to complete. Finding (and choosing) the pictures took time. Cutting and trimming each character and the other papers used was very time consuming - especially filing the excess edges around each puzzle piece! The most time consuming part? Trying to figure out how to arrange the characters on the puzzles! I went through a whole pad of mini sticky notes and arranged (and re-arranged) the notes on the puzzle pieces at least three times. It was fun, though!

Monday, May 30, 2011

While the City Sleeps ...

 We've lived in our house for about eight years. Slowly but surely we've been working on making each room our own. The last easy* room to work on was the very small guest room. Not only is the room small, the previous paint was hideous - some weird shade of blue-ish white. Here's a before picture:

After much deliberation, we decided on a comic book/superhero theme. I looked around online and couldn't find any bedding/wall art/accessories that fit my vision. We couldn't settle on one particular superhero. We couldn't even decide between DC and Marvel. So I went with a general comic book feel. Since husband was set on using our old full-sized bed in the room (instead of a twin) there really wasn't room to have a headboard. One morning, the idea of doing a comic book panel mural on one wall just hit. I'm not good at drawing things - especially on large scale, so at first I wasn't thrilled. Then, I realized that a panel featuring a city skyline wouldn't be too hard. I could sketch it on some graph paper and use my trusty ruler and level to transfer the design to the walls. Here's the original sketch:

The next step was paint. We chose a dark blue for the walls - drastically different from the earthy tones in the rest of house:

Then, the mural wall was prepped and painted Ultra-White:

Next up - transferring the design from the paper to the wall:

I used contact paper to make a mask for the moon and mixed the ultra-white and the blue to get various shades of sky:

Then it was time to prep and paint the buildings a rich black color:

Finally, it was time to paint in the windows. I thought about painting the windows white to keep a simpler color scheme, but I'm happy I ended up with the yellow:

For the finishing touches, I added brushed nickel outlet covers, curtain rod and hooks, and my husband installed a new brushed nickel light fixture. Also added black curtains and new bedding:

The room isn't totally finished - the four altered puzzles will be hung on the wall opposite the bed and I'm going to paint two 18x18 canvases to hang next to the window. I'm also going to screen print and sew three throw pillows for the bed. We also need some kind of shelving to display some collectibles (there was a painting fail yesterday trying to paint an old white bookshelf black). But, the room is ready for guests! And, here's a link to the Craftster post.

*meaning not the kitchen, bathroom or laundry room!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Red Amigurumi Car

I started this little crochet car over eight months ago. To goal was to gift it to my nephew for his 2nd birthday. He was really into the Tonka Chuck & Friends toys, so when I found this pattern on Etsy I thought it seemed perfect:

Of course, between my work schedule and other projects popping up, the little car was put on hold. Most of the pieces were crocheted and stuffed - just needed to crochet the bumpers and the side/back windows and assemble all the pieces. I don't know why, but assembling projects like this always makes me nervous - maybe that's part of the reason why I put finishing it on hold? Thanks to this blog, I was driven to finish the thing, even though my nephew left his cars and trucks behind in favor of dinosaurs. And, here's the Craftster post.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Time at home?

This weekend - a holiday weekend - is work free for me. Thank goodness for the holiday weekend - no one wants to come to a program on a holiday weekend. If it wasn't for holiday weekends, I'd have had something scheduled every single weekend since the end of February! A few weeks ago, I decided to take some vacation time Thursday afternoon and all day Friday. My mind started racing, thinking about all the possibilities with my four-and-a-half day weekend. I can finally finish the mural wall in the guest room! Crochet! Altered puzzles! Spray paint register covers and the guest room bookshelf! The chance to cross so many projects off my lists and feel that sense of accomplishment! Heck, dh and I could actually go see a movie - like, a movie in the theater! Maybe we'll even see three! Oh, the possibilities ...

Maybe I just need to get some sleep. Lots and lots of sleep.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ugh, so happy this is finished ...

I'm pleased with the final piece, but this beaded bookmark was the project from hell!  Now I remember why I got rid of the bead loom I used to own. I ended up crafting my own makeshift loom from a piece of cardboard and a photo storage box. It worked, but it was a pain to use!

My original plan was to buy a new bead loom - after all, they are only $5-$6. And with a 40% off coupon, it's definitely worth it. Alas, as hard as I looked in every Michaels, Jo-Ann's and Hobby Lobby, a bead loom was not to be found. Then, as I shopped at Hobby Lobby last night for work, I finally stumbled across a frakkin' bead loom - two days after finishing this wretched project! The icing on the cake? The loom came with pre-sorted beads and perfectly-sized needles.

Why are the beads and needles the so-called icing? Because I cheaped out and purchased the value bag of mixed colored seed beads for $3.99. After many hours sorting the beads, I began stringing. Why are the bead so cheap? The sizes aren't uniform, and the needle I was using didn't fit through the holes of  many of the beads. Ugh.

So, after many hours - many more hours than I anticipated - here's the finished bookmark:

And, here's the obligatory shot of the bookmark in use:

And, here's a picture of the craft fail after dear husband pulled on one of the big beads:


And finally, here's the Craftster post.