Craftsy Sale 19.99 or Less!

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

If you missed the Black Friday sale, or were just wishing you had snagged that one class (or three or four, like me).  Craftsy just announced a new sale with all the classes on sale for $19.99 or less!  So head on over and treat yourself to something fun!  Why live with regret?  :)
Craftsy

Re-creating a Vintage Toy

posted in: Dolls and Softies, Patterns | 0

This last winter I was asked by my sister’s co-worker to make a new version of a vintage toy.  The toy was one she had given her daughter when she was around 2 and it became the little one’s lovey.  Now that she has a little grandson, she wanted a boy version for him to love.  She brought me the original—man, was that poor toy loved!  Missing ears (dog chewed them off), some repairs, years of grime love, stains and lumpy stuffing made for…well, you can see the sad state of a much loved toy.

 

Meet the original Boo Kitty.  She is sporting a lovely Spring calico in soft pastels complete with small ruffle cuffs.
Meet the original Boo Kitty. She is sporting a lovely Spring calico in soft pastels complete with small ruffle cuffs.  Despite the years, she’s still smiling—must be all the love!

 

I admit, when I saw that toy, I might have swallowed hard at the thought of trying to reproduce it.  The tortured state of the critter wasn’t really the part that had me nervous, I can make up an ear, but rather it was the three dimensional aspect, which can be hard to get exact, and even more so, the absolute faith that this woman had in me, her co-worker’s sister, to make a reasonable copy of “Boo Kitty”, a toy that held a great deal of loving memories for her and her daughter.

After spending a few hours searching for a similar pattern with no luck, I knew I would have to create my own.  So, I thought you might enjoy learning the steps I went through—then maybe you can recreate an old toy yourself!

The first step was to document the original (so I could return it before the daughter noticed it missing as this was to be a surprise from the grandma) with lots of photos at all angles.  I also scanned the face because I knew that no matter what the body looked like, as long as the face were right I’d be halfway there. If it wasn’t right, the project would fall flat no matter how well made.

 

You can see the two piece back of the head and the main body has the front, two-piece back and a bottom.  Also the feet have toes pointed up and hinged knees.
You can see the two piece back of the head and the main body has the front, two-piece back and a bottom.

 

From just the two shown photos (I won’t bore you with the dozen I actually took for documenting) you can see how the head has a one piece front and a two piece back, with a slight curve to the back of the head while the front is flat.  Also the body is similar, but with the added bottom piece.  The separate arms had little gathered ruffles with attached hands.  The legs have hinged knees and the toes point up.  Boo Kitty was obviously missing her ears and some filling and what was there was compressed and somewhat bumpy due to years of lovin’.

Another step I took is one similar to that used to copy garments that are already made—only because this was a dimensional object, I put the pattern paper on top of each section to carefully pin and trace the pieces.  While this didn’t give me an exact replica, partly due to the condition of the toy, it did give me a place to start with pattern pieces and allowed me to really look at how this softie had been designed.  I decided to lose the ruffled sleeves as this was to be a boy’s version, so that simplified the arm construction just a smidgen.  For the missing ears, I measured what was there and then drew up a basic cat ear in keeping with the scale of the whole softie.  As a toymaker, I did use a bit of my imagination to decide how this kitty must have looked new.  In my head, I tried to rewind time and remove the years of being slept on, thrown in the washing machine, attacked by canines, spilled on, dragged everywhere, danced with and squeezed tight.  Among other things, I figured that the head wasn’t quite as flat and sat up straight, the feet were better shaped, and the arms probably didn’t hang down quite so much before the shoulders lost their stuffing and repairs were made.

Once I had the basic parts traced and created, as in the case of the ears, I smoothed out the lines and made up a test dummy.  I made notes directly on the muslin so that when I came back to it on a different day, I’d remember exactly what I was thinking.

 

You can see how I labeled each piece and then when sewn, wrote the changes directly on the softie.
You can see how I labeled each piece and then when sewn, wrote the changes directly on the softie.  This lets you know exactly where you wanted to trim, curve, or reshape a piece.

 

Then I reworked the pattern pieces and tried another mock-up of the toy.  The first round of changes made some things much better, but also caused that some other changes became necessary.  An example is the neck shoulder area.  You can see how adjusting one part’s shape caused it to look very different.

 

For the second prototype, I didn't bother filling in the part of the legs that were already fine.  Then I wrote the new adjustments needed on the softie.
For the second prototype, I didn’t bother filling in the part of the legs that were already fine. Then I wrote the new adjustments needed on the softie.

 

I didn’t like how the head was looking and the arms/hands needed some adjustment.  So, more tweaking to the pattern pieces and a test of just the parts that needed a redo.  No point in wasting material, stuffing and time on remaking what is already fine!

 

Prototype number three focuses specifically on the parts needing adjustment.
Prototype number three focuses specifically on the parts needing adjustment.

 

Then, one more go at the head to get the shape just right.  The idea isn’t necessarily to have an exact duplicate, which would be very difficult to create with fabric pieces that have been stretched, washed, and loved for years and getting a pattern from something you aren’t cutting apart.  What you want is something that is close enough that when someone looks at it, they clearly see a similarity, but that also has your own touch added to create a unique version.

 

The final prototype zeroed in on the last adjustments needed---the head/neck area.
The final prototype zeroed in on the last adjustments needed—the head/neck area.

 

When I felt I had it close to perfect, I drew out the pattern pieces for a fresh start.  I decided that for a boy version, I would add a little bow tie.  I opted for applique to avoid any choking hazard or loss of parts (and grandma approved).  I pulled a lot of different fabrics from my stash until I came upon a beautiful red, white and blue plaid to use for the main body.  Then I found this red micro polka dot fabric for the tie.  Plaids and polka dots are such classic prints, kind of fitting for a reproduction of a vintage toy.  I also had previously matched the skin tone fabric of the original so that I knew I had almost an exact match.  I also used some shiny embroidery floss to hand stitch the face to replicate the original.

 

All finished and waiting for his first hug!
All finished and waiting for his first hug!

 

I like to stuff toys firmly so that they can stand up to years of hugging, snuggling, and being dragged around and washed.  Knowing that this toy would probably need washing at some point in the future, I used polyfil for stuffing.  Polyfil seems to hold up pretty well over the years.  This Boo Kitty is stylin’ a bow tie that has been fused down and then handstitched with a blanket stitch.  His face is hand embroidered—why yes, that is some mighty fine satin stitching, thanks for noticing—and he sits up by himself.

Each plaid piece was carefully cut to keep the plaid straight and matched up properly as much as possible on a three-dimensional toy.

 

Look at that beautifully matched plaid!
Look at that beautifully matched plaid!

 

The new Boo Kitty turned out close enough to the original, that when the grandmother saw it, she gasped and cried, “Boo Kitty!”  Then she got all teary eyed and hugged me—that says it all!

 

What do you think?  Did I nail it?
What do you think? Did I nail it?

Craftsy’s Black Friday Sale is Back!

posted in: Contests and Giveaways, Crafts, Sewing | 0

You know I can’t pass up adding another class to my library—you should treat yourself too!  I wait for this sale every year (yeah, I’m really not into Walmart’s big tvs.)  I believe in expanding one’s self and furthering one’s education, and Craftsy really makes that possible for me.  I can follow the lessons on my terms (which is generally in pjs at midnight when its finally quiet) and learn a variety of subjects.  Did you know they’ve been adding drawing and painting classes?  There’s also some woodworking ones that look lovely, although I don’t have the tools for them, and those new food classes make me hungry just looking at the pictures.  So take some time and go browse Craftsy’s classes, you might just find the perfect class (and at these prices, you might find several).

 

Craftsy

 

Great news!!  Craftsy has decided to extend their Black Friday Sale until December 1st at 11:59 MT this year.  That’s a good thing because if you’re like me (who currently has around 28 sitting in her cart to choose from) you might need a wee bit more time to pick your favorite!  Have fun—and I’d love to hear about which ones you choose!

 

The above banner is an affiliate link (which helps pay for this website), but I’d recommend a Craftsy class even if it wasn’t because they are terrific.

Sweater Bunnies and Storybook Toys

posted in: Dolls and Softies, Reviews | 0

My sister gave me a pile of sweaters and clothes for potential upcycling (or at least that’s what I saw when she handed them over, she may have intended actual use as clothing, I didn’t ask) awhile back.  The stack included a lovely baby blue sweater that was oh-so-soft and just screaming to be made into a cuddly softie.  So what could I do, but obey the call of the sweater and make a toy.  I decided it needed to be a bunny. Well, sitting on my shelf was the book Storybook Toys: Sew 16 projects from Once Upon a Time Dolls, Puppets, Softies and More  by Jill Hamor, which despite its rather lengthy title, has absolutely adorable patterns in it and had been sitting there waiting for me to break it open for months.  If you’ve never seen Jill’s work, you should take a moment and check it out–although not right this minute, finish looking at my bunnies first.   And while I’ll give a more in-depth review after I’ve tried some more of the patterns, I just had to show off the bunnies.  (But I’ll just tell you now, you’re going to want your own copy.  Either go to Amazon or follow this affiliate link to get Storybook Toys at Amazon!)

Now who doesn't want to hug this little fellow?
Now who doesn’t want to hug this little fellow?

I gently washed the sweater.  Sometimes I go for a felted sweater, but this time I still wanted to retain some of that knit texture.  I had some pink satin ribbon for a bow and used black felt for the eyes which I hand stitched on.  I used some scraps of pink minky fabric for the inside ears and the under tail for extra softness as all bunny ears and tails should have.  I used regular DMC embroidery floss for the nose, white dot in the eye and to stitch down the black eye.  I used some Fairfield Poly-fill for stuffing. I really like how the ears are floppy.  This bunny has that kind of Velveteen Rabbit look that is just such a classic toy look.  If you look online, you’ll see some adorable versions made with chenille, corduroy, and some have a belly area with a contrasting fabric too.  I love a pattern that looks just as adorable in multiple versions.  The pattern went together perfectly and the instructions were great.

Everything about this bunny's shape says vintage toy.
Everything about this bunny’s shape says vintage toy.  You can see its little tail peeking out.

With some careful placement of pattern pieces, I managed to just eek out enough for two bunnies which ended up being a good thing as both sisters told me they wanted it when they saw me sewing.  So each was claimed by a sister and no fights broke out—now to just make myself one!  These were really quick to make up…definitely a pattern to keep in mind for quick gifts.

Twins!  Because if one is cute...two is super cute!
Twins! Because if one is cute…two are super cute!

I’m thinking a white chenille one, maybe one with plaid and, of course, I just have to make a velveteen one!

Bunnies need friends, so I plan on making more of these!
Bunnies need friends, so I plan on making more of these!

McCall’s 5631 Skirt Review

posted in: Sewing | 0

Yes, I’m finally back.  Do you ever have that moment when you’ve lost the password book that you so cleverly put all your passwords in for safe keeping and easy access?  No, just me?  Awkward…

 

Well, I’ve been wanting to share the results of this skirt for quite some time now.  (Oh, and please disregard the lack luster photos from the 30 second photo shoot my “model” gave me—yeah, I’m talkin’ to you sis!)  The pattern used was McCall’s 5631, it’s one of their “Crafty” line.  We went with a one piece skirt body (rather than an attached band at the bottom, sorry can’t recall which version that is) and stitched the ribbon on top.  The fabric used is a 100% cotton with a slightly off white background and a red toile-like floral pattern.  The red is actually more of a slightly darker Christmas red rather than the tomato red that seems to be showing in the photos.

 

McCallsSkirt1
Really a perfect casual, but fun skirt. And no, she wouldn’t normally wear it with that top.

 

This skirt pattern has it all…literally.  There’s a yoke with facing, side zipper, pleats, gathers, fullness and, for this version, ribbon trim.  Whew!  The only thing missing were pockets.  If you want to test a lot of sewing techniques at once, choose this pattern.  If you want to go insane on a “simple” skirt, choose this pattern.  If you want to know one thing I will never sew again as long as I live, it’s this pattern!

Was it particularly difficult?  Not really, I admit, and if you just take one step at a time, you’ll get there eventually.  There are just a lot of steps.  I also found that with such a full skirt, there was a lot of fabric to maneuver around.  Which translated to a few sessions of picking out stitches where fabric had gotten caught in the stitching while trying to get the skirt body attached to the yoke.  I also had to resize it three times as my sister, who was the recipient, lost some weight between the time I started and finished.  (What can I say, I’m a really slow project finisher—I get distracted easily.  Also, this started off as my sister’s chosen project for a first sewing project—yeah, I’m still bouncing back and forth between laughing hysterically and crying.  The latter because I was the one who ended up having to finish it.  But, I did get a Craftsy class out of the deal, so not so bad.)

First, the skirt body has pleats around the entire top.  The instructions mention basting the pleats down, but my sister liked the look of another store-bought skirt that had the pleats permanently stitched down and seems the instructions never indicated whether to leave any stitching in, we went with permanent stitching part way down the pleats.  I think it helped visually to contain some of the skirts fullness and helped it appear more grown-up.  The satin ribbon was sewn onto the front and back separately, so it was a bit fussy to keep them lined up.  To solve this, I basted just the ribbon area just a hair to the inside of the seam line and then checked for perfect alignment.  Once I had that, then I stitched down the entire side seam—saves onerous picking jobs if you don’t have it perfect the first time.  I also do this with striped bands of fabric and other sewing where a particular spot is important to line up.

The top of the skirt body was also gathered prior to attaching to the yoke.  This is the part where you really need to watch how the fabric is laying.  Between the folds of the pleating, the bunching of the gathers, and the volume of fabric, it very easily gets bits folded down or caught into the seam.  Go slow and watch the fabric!  I’m speaking from experience. . . unpleasant experience.

 

McCallsSkirt1c
Here you can see the pleating and gathering along the top of the skirt body—that’s a lot of fabric to fit in there!

 

I believe the instructions call for a regular zipper, but my sister had purchased an invisible zipper instead, so that is what we went with.  I think for a side zipper, it looks much nicer and less obvious than a regular one.  Invisible zippers are a bit more work than a regular zipper (although my mom, who prefers them, would disagree), but not really something to be scared of, so I’m not sure why so many people and patterns avoid them.  If you haven’t tried one, do it—there are many times this type of zipper would be far prettier to use.

Once everything had been stitched together properly, I did end up taking something like 5 inches off the length as my sister found it was way too long for her taste (and that still left it below the knee).  Originally, the longer length was what she had wanted but after trying it on and seeing the fullness, it was just too much.

 

McCallsSkirt1b
The fullness of the skirt makes it fun and flirty, while the stitched down pleating keeps it from being to junior. Makes you want to twirl, doesn’t it?

 

I think my main dislike for this pattern comes from all the picking and refitting rather than the design itself.  Also, I tend to think skirts shouldn’t take so much effort so when they do, it drives me bonkers.  Not sure why that is really as I don’t mind spending a lot of effort on jackets, tops, pants, quilts, toys and such.  Just skirts…oh, and t-shirts.  However, don’t let that dissuade you from trying this one.  It really is a well drafted pattern and I’d probably feel differently if I hadn’t had to refit and re-stitch quite so much.  The end result was a lovely skirt with classic styling and a professional finished look, if I do say so myself.  Most importantly, my sister loves it and it looks really great on her!  We also now get a kick out of saying things like, “you know what this skirt needs is some pleats and gathers…” whenever we’re looking at apparel or patterns.

 

DIY Fluffies Whale Review

posted in: Dolls and Softies | 0
whalebaby2a
Whale pattern by DIY Fluffies

 

Pattern:  Whale

Company:  DIY Fluffies

Cost:  $9

I found this little cutie pie on Etsy when searching for a potential baby toy for a friend’s shower.  Their nursery theme was nautical with adorable little whales and sea creatures.  This not only fit the theme, but looks an awful lot like the whale motifs seen on cute baby things these days.  Perfect!

This softie can be made with polar fleece or a woven like quilting cotton, denim, etc.  The eyes are felt, but you could certainly embroider some on or use plastic safety eyes. I blanket stitched my eyes in place before sewing the sides to the top.  Finished, the whale is roughly 12 inches long.

I had found the perfect piece of blue baby wale corduroy, which I had planned to use on a whale toy at some point, at an estate sale.  The piece was big enough that I cut out two whale bodies and might just weasel out a third from the leftovers later.  It is so soft!  I also had some minky like fabrics from my mojo dolls which I used for the bellies—I love the different textures of the fabrics for baby toys.

For the baby shower, I made one with a yellow belly to go with their blue and gold colors.

 

whalebaby
This little guy is off to live with a beautiful princess!

 

And for the other, I used a soft mint green belly.  This one was immediately claimed by my younger sister (I know, right, how am I supposed to get stuff listed on Etsy if everyone locally keeps buying it all!?  LOL!)

 

whalebaby2b
I sat this one up a bit more so you can see the belly better.

 

I like how the green fabric has ribbing lines kind of like what you see on real whales.

 

whalebelly
Here you can see the belly fabric–doesn’t that remind you of what you see on real whales? I see now that one of his flippers is in backwards, shoot!

 

As far as the instructions for this pattern, there were places things could have been much clearer.  For instance, when you are sewing the sides to the top piece, it doesn’t really give a specifics on where to stop at the tail.  Also, sewing the shaping darts could have been better illustrated and explained.  There are actually two patterns included, one with seam allowances and one without.  I think someone brand new to sewing toys might struggle a bit due to lack of better specifics in both illustrations and instructions.   While it is a simple toy, one page only is really not helpful for a beginner.  I’ve sewn plenty of softies and dolls, and still had to stop and reread and fiddle with pinning to get what it was supposed to be, so take your time and don’t let yourself get frustrated.  It does all fit together.

Sewing got a little tricky with the tail when sewing the belly piece on.  The area where the top and two side pieces meet at the back isn’t well explained and I kind of had to guess on where to stop (maybe it would be more obvious to someone else).  The tail curves upward when finished, so there is some “extra” fabric in the way when sewing this—just keep an eye on it so you don’t accidently stitch it in the seam.  Also, the matching marks didn’t line up on mine very well, so what I did was pin the front, pin the tail and then adjust along the sides until the bottoms of the side pieces matched the belly piece.  It does match up, its the marks that don’t necessarily always get there.  I then trimmed my seams with my pinking shears which helped the curves turn smoothly.

Also, keep track of the fronts of the flippers, I got one in backwards on the green belly whale.  (He’s all sewn up, so its too late now…and not super obvious except when looking straight at the bottom.)  Incidentally, stiff fabrics like corduroy are not the easiest to turn so be prepared on those little flippers!

I think it took a bit more than half a bag of poly-fil stuffing.  I like to pack it in there so the toy stays firm over time, and this one takes awhile to finish stuffing!

Even though I would put this one at an intermediate level due to the instructions, or lack thereof, I think if an advanced beginner took it slow they’d do just fine.  If a child wanted to make this, I would definitely recommend some parental help with the tail piecing.  After making two, I would still make this one again, and plan to—wouldn’t a plaid whale be so adorable?  Maybe this time with big black safety eyes.

whalebaby2

A Picnic Blanket for Stars

posted in: Family Life, Quilts and Blankets | 0

While Stars was healing from his super ear infection and aural hematoma, I worked on a little “picnic” quilt for him.  I thought it’d cheer him up to have something nice to lay on when he finally felt well enough to go outside.  (And it would help keep him from rubbing his ear in the grass and dirt.  Shh!  Don’t tell him about it’s sneaky dual purpose.)  Also, I needed something to keep me from worrying.  The first bit, he couldn’t even stand and it was really bad there for awhile.  I watched him around the clock, so having something pleasant to focus on was good.  The problem continued when the doggie ER didn’t give enough antibiotics to really clear the infection, so it came back and Stars shook his head which caused blood vessels in the ear to break leading to the big ol’ hematoma.  Draining helped relieve the pain some, but it just refilled.  Breaks my heart to see him so down.

 

When the antibiotics didn't clear up the infection, he started shaking his head which created the aural hematoma.  Here he's got his ear wrapped after draining.  Poor little guy!
When the antibiotics didn’t clear up the infection, he started shaking his head which created the aural hematoma. Here he’s got his ear wrapped after draining. Poor little guy!

 

Stars is a trooper though, and put up with all the extra manhandling and pill taking like a champ.  Although, he much prefers to not have his ears wrapped.

 

You can see the puffiness of his ear, but he's such a cheerful bugger, he just keeps on smiling.  The hematoma got pretty big.  The blanket he's on is just a child's sleeping bag.
You can see the puffiness of his ear, but he’s such a cheerful bugger, he just keeps on smiling. The hematoma got pretty big. The blanket he’s on is just a child’s sleeping bag.  Do you think he’s smiling because he knows he’s getting a new quilt?

 

I wanted something durable, because I knew it would get a ton of washing.  The quilt also needed to have a little padding to it to help his old body not feel all the bumps of the ground.  I used some more of the denim rectangles that I had received from my grandma’s stash (she would approve, she loves Stars) for one side and a bright panel from Ikea on the other.  The panel I found brand new at our local Goodwill for $3.99!  (I know, happy dance, right?!)  For the batting, I went with the weighty loft Dream Poly Deluxe.  You can find it here at Fabric Depot.   I’d never used any of the Dream Poly battings, but the sample they had out felt very dense even though it was thin.  It ended up being a great choice because with the denim, twill type panel and batting, something thicker would have been difficult to fit under my sewing machine foot!

 

Super cute Ikea panel with great coloring.
Super cute Ikea panel with great coloring.  Thanks Mom for holding a really heavy quilt while I took photos!

 

I didn’t want to try to sew a binding on—-can you imagine fitting that under with the denim (and seams), twill and batting?  So, I did what I call a pillowcase finish.  I sewed right sides together of top and bottom leaving a space open for turning.  I also sewed the batting in at this point by simply layering it on the top.  Then I turned the whole thing right side out, quilted it, and top stitched around the edge.  I did go back and handstitch where the opening had been to make it more secure and better looking.  While not the most traditional way to get a quilt quilted, it was so much easier than attempting to add a binding!  My thumb and fingers were pretty sore after stitching that opening closed though.

For quilting, I just followed along the design lines of the printed panel like outlining.  I used some A&E Inc thread labeled Signature, Pixelles Size 30 in a variegated green.  I like how you can see the shapes on the denim side.

WIth the sunlight, you can see the outline of the design created by the quilting.  The green thread blends in pretty well otherwise.
WIth the sunlight, you can see the outline of the design created by the quilting. The green thread blends in pretty well otherwise.

 

Stars loves it!  In fact, if we go outside without it, he’ll go over to his favorite spot under the apple tree and wait for me to put it down first.  The quilt has been washed many times and is holding up wonderfully, so I would definitely recommend the Dream Poly and will probably make my own outside quilt soon.

 

Stars on his new quilt!  Look at that happy boy!  Why yes, that is my super duper raised bed garden in the background.
Stars on his new quilt! Look at that happy boy! Why yes, that is my super duper raised bed garden in the background.

 

We found a new vet (our old one had retired, which we hadn’t been told) who Stars loves (he actually bounds up the ramp to see her).  She gave lots of antibiotics (first an ointment, but then cephalexin pills) and some Temaril for his skin.  Strangely enough, when he started the Cephalexin and Temaril combo, his hematoma began to go down at a dramatic pace.  When we ran out of the Temaril (a few days after the antibiotic was done) the hematoma started filling back up, so we had him back on the combo again and it when down completely.  He’s finishing up a last round of antibiotics and some prednisone (yuck, I know, but they were out of temaril) and his ear is looking good so far!  I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

At least our boy is feeling better!

 

Stars is very pleased to be the recipient of a new quilt and has spent many cool mornings recovering under the apple tree, his favorite spot.
Stars is very pleased to be the recipient of a new quilt and has spent many cool mornings recovering under the apple tree, his favorite spot.

Craftsy Sale

posted in: Sewing | 0

You might have noticed that it’s been a long time since my last post (although, I hadn’t realized quite how long myself).  Our poor Stars has had quite a run of health issues, including a visit to the doggie ER, so I’m only just now getting back some sort of blogging free time.  (For a bit there I was doing around the clock meds and monitoring.)  Not complaining though, because he’s doing well now and we came close to losing him, only a few issues to work on, so it’s all good and he continues to improve back to his mischievous self.  I did, after a bit, continue to work on sewing projects (two quilts, a skirt, a dress and some toys) which I’ll show off later and watched a few of my Craftsy classes (full reviews later) in an effort to distract myself from worrying over Stars (I think he appreciated the break from constant checking so that he could sleep).  I also decided that while it was super hot weather I would rearrange my entire room and move lots of heavy stuff around (no wonder Stars thinks I’m crazy!).  But, I can fill you in on those things later, right now I just wanted to check in with you all, because. . .

. . . there’s a great sale going on over at Craftsy right now–up to 50% off of classes!  (Oh, how they know my weakness!  Did you see that Alison Smith teaches two couture classes? And that Suzy Furrer has a new patternmaking class on sleeves?  Be still my heart.)  Probably wondering what to sign up for, so many choices, so I have a few suggestions.  I recently finished watching two quilting classes:  Playing with Curves by Ann Petersen and Finishing School:  Edges & Bindings by Mimi Dietrich.  Both are fabulous and will get you excited about those areas of quilting.  Both are beginner friendly, but still interesting for those with some experience in quilting.  Or, maybe you’re looking into some sewing classes?  I recently finished watching Suzy Furrer’s Patternmaking Basics:  The Skirt Sloper which was fabulous (still watching the Bodice Sloper one, which is also wonderful) and am also about to start re-watching Pam Howard’s  The Classic Tailored Shirt class as I need to make some new shirts and its been awhile since I watched the first half.
Craftsy

So which ones am I considering?  Well, in sewing, I’ve narrowed it down to Suzy Furrer’s Patternmaking + Design:  Creative Sleeves, both of Alison Smith’s Couture classes, Steffani Lincecum’s Coatmaking Techniques (I really do need a dress coat) and the one by Sara Alm on sewing sheer fabrics.  In quilting, there’s a precision piecing class by Norah McMeeking, a foundation piecing by Carol Doak, and Sarah Fielke’s class.  I’m also sure I’d love some of those classes on free motion quilting too.  They’ve also got a couple in the cooking section that have drool worthy images that make me hungry just thinking about it—I mean Thai food, Mexican street food, Italian pasta, so yummy—who doesn’t want to learn to cook any and all of that (or order take out if you live near a decent restaurant which I currently do not).  Anyway, there’s a lot to choose from, so I hope you’ll treat yourself to a class whether it’s for something you are currently working on or something you’ve always wanted to learn.  If you’ve enjoyed any of the classes I’m considering for myself, I’d love to hear your opinion—might help me make up my mind.

 

 

In the interest of full disclosure:  the above banner/links are affiliate links (which is why I didn’t put links to all the other classes mentioned, no need to overwhelm you).  I appreciate the support when you use them, but if you aren’t comfortable with that, you can also go to their site on your own and still see the sale.

Etsy Has Instant Downloading Now

posted in: Digital Scrapbooking, Family Life | 0

When Etsy modified its setup to include instant downloading for digital purchase, I was like “Woohoo!” because that’s what I love about digital–it’s instant!  Nothing like being able to start on that new pattern right away.  And, truthfully, I really don’t mind taping patterns together (I know some people dread it).  I just watch some tv while cutting and taping and it’s done in no time.

But, l was also excited because that was the one thing making me hesitate on selling patterns and digital designs.  Let’s face it, internet service out here hasn’t always been the most reliable and the last thing I wanted was for someone to purchase something and being all excited to get it and then have my internet down and not be able to send it.  Not cool.  Now I can upload, list and forget (well, almost, I’d still keep an eye on things just for good customer service and all).

So this past week had me digging out old files of digital scrapbooking creations (didn’t know I was a scrapbooker did ya?), printables and patterns.  I’ll be going through them, doing any little touch ups or add-ons I think necessary and then getting them listed.  And while I was looking, I came across some scrapbooking pages to share.  These are all digital (I get them printed through a photo lab).  No glue and cutting and piles of stuff for me…okay, I mean in the scrapbooking department.  I save the mess for the fabric world.  I like it!  Digital scrapbooking lets me reuse my favorite “papers” and embellishments without running out or ruining it by cutting wrong.  If I want four of a page, I make it once, that’s right, once, and then print what I need.  So nice when everyone wants a copy.  It also ties in nicely with the photo restoration that I do and the graphic design junk from my photography days.  It all blends into a lot of fun for me and doesn’t take up a ton of time.  I also started creating scrapbook layouts of favorite family recipes, kind of makes it fun. Anywho, here’s a few for you to see.
I used to participate in the scrapbooking challenges over at DSP (Digital Scrapbooking Place) which is disappointingly no more. If you like scrapbooking, I suggest you find a forum and participate, it really pushes you to get those layouts done. No UFO’s in the scrapbooking department!

 

bitofmarmalade
Bath time with Dad. This one was made with the Orange Marmalade page kit by Rene Bross and the Bit of Both page kit by Lauren Bavin. I like how the colors completely fit the time era (and would have worked well in my grandma’s kitchen décor at the time).

 

I do a lot of genealogy and when I can get a photo of someone, it really makes them come to life. Not just names and dates, but stories of people. This is one of my favorite photos. I’ve got to contact my great-aunt and see if there are any others. So see, scrapbooking is a great way to capture a visual history not just of what’s happening now, but telling the stories of the past before they’re forgotten. Always makes me a little sad to see photos of people in antique stores, forgotten family.

 

Bohemian1
This is my gorgeous great-grandmother. She was only 4′ 11″ tall. She had red hair, loved herbal medicine, gardening, and literature . Her father was a shoemaker (I always wondered how many pairs of shoes she had). This one was made with Bohemian Beauty page kit by Nicole Young.

 

Marla and I did everything together, but this photo kind of sums up our personalities. Marla, sweet and kind, always helping. Me, giggling and playing–helping, not so much.

 

funloving
Yep, that’s me on the left–don’t I look like a mischievous bugger! Don’t you love that 70’s era dress Marla is wearing? Made with the Fun Lovin’ page kit by Rene Bross.

 

I don’t get to work with many current type photos of kids (none of my own, yet) so I took full advantage of having two adorable cousins to photograph and scrapbook. Sadly, they moved (rather cruel of their parents, don’t you think), but I would have kept them if I could have. Miss A and I were like two peas in a pod.

 

plumdandy
For awhile, my little cousins lived nearby. This is Miss P and Miss A playing in the backyard, fascinated by the maple twirly seeds. Sure do miss those little ladies! Made using the Plum Dandy page kit by Rene Bross.

 

I’m just getting started on pages of Aleea.  She always had a delicate fairy princess look about her so I’m anticipating some fun girlie layouts.

 

Precious16
Aleea in this one too–so tiny! The poem is one I wrote specifically for this page. I used Lauren Bavin’s Precious in Pink page kit and Baby Papers backpack. I thought they were a perfect match with the roses on her little sleeper.

 

I’m having such fun using old family photos mixed with the newer digital scrapbooking styles. The bonus is, the original photos stay safe and untouched in their archival storage. You have no idea how many old photos I’ve restored that have been glued to album pages or cut!

 

smileyweb
If you know Marla, then you recognize that big smile. She still has it—and can get even the grumpiest of people to lighten up. I used the Splendid kit from Shabby Princess.

 

As far as I know, this is the only photo of Marla and Dad doing this little trade. It was pretty far gone too, but a few hours of restoration got it back to passable.

 

socksweb1
Dad and Marla used to “trade” socks, so, of course, I had to write a little poem about it. This one uses some ribbon from Marcee Duggar’s Vintage Santa page kit, a paper clip by Becky Soto and some paper and beads from Celebrate Life’s Moments by DSP Designers. I made the tan cardstock and the base shape for the tag.

 

These are some of my favorites. There’s also a couple of me from the same day. So I need to make a coordinating page with those ones.

 

springweb1
Marla smelling Spring blossoms at Grandpa Henry’s house. She’s so cute in pink (not that you’ll see her in it much now). This is the Spring Style kit by Marcee Duggar.

 

Here’s one of those pages everyone in the family wants a copy of, good thing its digital and I can just have more printed.

 

sweetdreams6
You know I had to include one of Stars! Yeah, that’s the look I get whenever I get my camera out. This one uses the page kit Lil’ Sleepyhead by Nicole Young.

 

I restored these photos of my parents. Colored photos are usually the hardest to do because those old photos start changing and fading far earlier than black and white ones.

 

valentine11
Yes, Mom and Dad met at 16—and they’re still together! Wow, right?! I got a nice compliment from a lady on the forum, she said the writing sounded like a really good romance novel (maybe I should write one, just kidding). I used the page kit and backpack My Shabby Valentine by Rene Bross.

 

Okay, I’ll stop now. I don’t want to turn into one of those grandmother types who show you a billion photos of their grandkids. Maybe seeing a few of my layouts will inspire you to give digital scrapbooking a try. It was getting into digital scrapbooking that got me into designing my own kits and graphic design layouts, so you never know where a craft will take you. I miss getting to interact with the wonderful ladies who designed the kits I used in these, hopefully, they’ll return to scrappin’ one day soon. I had fun finding these and bringing back some great memories…I need to get back to making scrapbook layouts.

Taking a Break in the Garden

posted in: Family Life | 0

Last week, I was asked to teach the ladies of our church ward some gardening.  Didn’t know I had a bachelor’s degree in horticulture science, did you?  Yep, under that pile of fabric-y goodness is a college education, shh, don’t tell!

Raised bed garden
Stars is enjoying some time in the garden…behind him you can see some of our raised beds.

 

I decided to focus on gardening in containers, intensive gardening, and square foot gardening type of methods.  This year, our family is using intensive gardening in raised beds—high yield intensive gardening, but oh so much easier on the back and knees!  Most people no longer have the time. space or desire to have a huge tilled plot and, quite frankly, there are far better, more economical and earth-friendly ways to go about growing food.  Not to mention, the mess of compacted clay soil left behind in new construction when they scrape of the nice top soil and sell it elsewhere at a premium…sometimes I’m surprised these new houses can grow grass!

The evening was fun with lots of questions and laughter, so, I’m sorry if you didn’t get to attend.  However, I thought maybe there’d be some of you interested in the handouts.  They’re charts and information related to the topics.  I also have a Pinterest board set up just on gardening with inspirations, information and ideas that you can check out if you want.  Just a side note, there are lots of charts out there and information on these topics—plenty of opinions and styles to go around, so do some reading, check out extension service sites (being in Oregon, I like to check out ours, Washington’s and Idaho’s as a starting place, although here’s a Wikipedia link that will show you a page with links to all the states’ sites) and don’t be afraid to ask people questions, most gardeners will happily share tips with you (some will even share plants)!

CompanionPlantingChart

Intensive Spacing Guide

Natural Insect Repellant Tips

Square Foot Gardening Guide

Vegetable Container Growing Guide

Vegetable Shade Tolerance

I’m a big believer in having at least a tiny garden…the benefits are just so high. Not only do you know exactly what your food has been through (chemicals, exposures, etc.) but you can pick food when its actually ripe instead of picking early for shipping which means you’ll actually have real flavor!  Gardening, despite what some people may say, is actually a very economical way to put fresh food on the table.  And who doesn’t like to save money and be more independent of stores?  Most vegetables require little water when properly mulched, especially those in raised beds.  Grow them in an intensive manner and once they get beyond tiny seedling size you almost never weed (a big plus in my book!).  Another benefit of these methods is that any fertilizers or pest control methods are concentrated to just the areas of actual garden, not the pathways and in between rows.

My current raised beds were made from some free wood shelves salvaged when the local school decide to remodel and some precut rebar.  We put down some cardboard to block weeds (it’ll break down over time) and used compost we had made ourselves to fill almost all of the boxes (we finally ran out on the last two) and then mulched with straw (we’re still using the same bale, so it goes a long way).  We added a little of that Miracle Gro potting soil to add some slow release fertilizer to get the seedlings going.  The cost for the large boxes was around $35–that’s less than the pair of corner brackets they sell to make boxes with!  The smaller boxes were even less.  With a little creativity and effort, you can build a container garden of some sort on the cheap–especially if you make you’re own compost.  (We keep a small bucket in the kitchen to toss veggie scraps and such in and then take it out to our compost pile each day.  Start this year and by next season, you’ll have a lovely pile of clean beautiful compost to use.

I hope you’ll give some of these alternative gardening methods a try!

Stars in the garden
Stars is always excited to hear that its time to work in the garden (I pretty sure its because he knows I’ll be outside for a long time.).
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