Monday, December 31, 2012

Don't Let the Doorknob Hit Ya, 2012!

New Year's Eve. My least favorite day of the year. Today has actually been a pleasant one, though. Christmas has been packed away (except for the tree), I did the quilting on a quilt that has been oh so patient for several months, my winter wreath is in the dining room waiting to be hung, we had yummy calorific munchies for dinner, and I'm cozy with a cup of tea, ready for bed and my book. Quiet and cozy--just how I like this night to be.

It's been one loooooong year with happy moments having to be searched for rather than asking you to dance a jig with them. Several things have happened, one right after the other it seems, that kept one in a constant state of "Gah! What next?!" I do thank God that I have not been affected in a direct sense, but when it's one's nearests and dearests one's heart and soul suffer just the same (especially when they're already quite sensitive in nature).

However, a whole new year stretches ahead. 365 empty days to fill with hopes and dreams, with making and doing, with new friends and new places. Let's fill them with as much happy as we can cram into them, no matter what shenanigans the universe tries to pull!

Happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Photo Recap

This last week of the year I've been quiet and moody. I always get this way during this particular week. I do a lot of not-much types of activities that equate to a lot of sitting and a lot of eating, and it's usually when I get hit with something coldish and sinusy. I am eager for the turnaround that a return to normalcy will bring.

I was thinking that I haven't made much stuff this year. I thought I would make a quick photo mosaic to capture it. Turns out I've made so much more than I recalled that it was not a "quick" mosaic at all. Add in a few other photo memories and it was two cups of tea worth of time :)


I have a few unfinished items to finish--the hexie project, and a quilt top that was pin-basted this morning and will be stitched this week. There are a few things I never got to and a few things that never made it to the blog (they would have been maddeningly repetitious--for both of us). I am looking forward to new year of creating and sharing--I owe you a tutorial, and I've got a few other patterns I've bought that I'm eager to try. I really want to get my shop nice and stocked, and I'm thinking once again about doing a craft market. I should go do something productive before I overwhelm myself into inactivity (again). See ya later!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

How's tricks?

Hi, gang! How was your holiday? Ours was verrrrry quiet, which was fine as on Christmas Eve I started feeling stuffy, and could have slept through Christmas if it wasn't for the hollers of "Aunt Bee! Get out of bed!" But after copious amounts of tea and a dash of Nyquil I felt much better. We had a nice post-holiday dinner and went to my sister's house for a visit (like we don't see her all the time anyway, but it's nice to get out). I've managed to sew 2 full rows of my hexies together (only 7 left and then just the filling in and the top will be finished! Woot!). I've read a lot, played video games with Zach (he got a game called Guilty Party which is quite fun and I may have finished it myself...if I knew how the Wii worked, that is). There has been much lazing about, and I can't believe I'm going to say this but I'm ready to get back to normal. Which means work. I function better when I'm busy than when I have nothing to do.

Here are a few things from today:

Alicia wants a very specific infinity scarf. I've got the stitching on the scarf done. Now she needs to see if it's the right size and tell me how to finish it and that'll be off the list. 

 I trotted off to Michael's to score some post-holiday deals for a winter wreath idea that's been rolling around my brain. All of this together cost less than what a regular styrofoam wreath form would cost. Win!

I love Christmas baubles, and these adorable chocolates are calling to me. But they're huge! I don't know if they're solid or filled but I'll be finding out :)

 We got a touch of snow today that's already turned rainy. Once again my desire to see how my car handles in the snow has been foiled!

Snow = soup in these here parts, and this one is smelling delicious already!

So that's that. Just a few more days until I'm back at work saying things like "I could really use a day off!"

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Merry!

I just wanted to take a minute to wish you all a wonderful Christmas! We're home from services, ready to dish up some stew, light the yule log ("Not that I have a log. Not in the sense that you think I said I did"), and chill out for the evening. I hope your days are merry and bright, and that we can all find a moment amid the hustle and bustle to quietly reflect on all that we have (and what may be missing from others' (or even our own) lives this season, leaving souls a bit hollow and aching--I'm thinking of recent events that I won't expand upon here so as not to harsh the Christmas mellow). I raise my mug of Lady Grey to all of you, and wish you a festive day of merriment! Hugs, kisses, and cozy thoughts, my lovely lovelies!!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cute Things. And Then Some.

Wanna see two cute things? No? Too bad. :)

When I returned to my desk from lunch the other day I could see that someone had left me a little gift while I was away. I couldn't imagine who it was, and I'm one of those people who tries to think of every possible person before I look at the tag (it drives other people crazy). This gift made me giddy with delight. I kept it right where I could see it the whole day as it made me smile with its cuteness and thoughtfulness.

I always draw a blank when it comes to cute things to do with mason jars, but this is so stinkin' adorable! Lime green and red (yes please!) with cute little embellishments, a pin cushion on top, and fabric and buttons inside. Let's check out the fabric--

Yeah, those are matryoshka and polka dots. What a perfect gift. I don't want to take it apart--I want to just sit and look at it. It came from one of my crafty buds at work that I sometimes get together with to make things. She does paper crafts and jewelry, and makes some really cute things. Thanks, Teres!

Thing 2. I told you all that I bought my dream car back in May. Recently MINI sent me a "yay you bought a MINI" package with a few goodies in it. A really nice notebook and pen set, a mousepad, little things like that. They sent me one thing that it took me a few minutes to figure out what it was:

I thought it was an eraser, then decided it was just a cute little thingee that serves no purpose. But hang on--

Wouldn't have figured that one out if they hadn't printed the size on the bottom. It's so teeny, too! I hope mine will handle ok in real snow--this one seems to do ok :)

OK, here's a third cute thing. A cute thing that needs a trim, but cute nonetheless.

And here's a blurry Christmas tree! A tree that my dad insists is NOT leaning, but totally is.

And here's what my tree would look like if I had a toy camera--

I'm glad I don't have a toy camera. I have enough photo problems.

Well, kids, my last day of work is tomorrow. I'm looking forward to lunch with friends, early dismissal, and lots of cozy doing whatever I feel like in pajama pants and slippers. All. Day. For almost 2 weeks. I love this time of year!!!!!!!! See you soon!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Christmas Makery

This was one full weekend of making and doing and Christmassing, that's for sure.I haven't done much crafting or making through December, and I don't like that. It makes me feel like I'm forgetting something as I've always got something I'm working on, and once I've gone through the mental checklist and assured myself that everything is done I get fidgety. So I went to the crafty store on Friday and bought a few things to keep me occupied. I bought a few simple bits, and finished off the supply gathering Saturday morning with some out-and-abouting. Nothing I made was my own brainchild, but the results of some normal blog-surfing and Pinterest time-sucking. I did try to add my own little twist, though.

First, I saw these cute little paper trees on a link party last week. I had the cone-shaped cardboard center of a one-pound cotton yarn cone that I was holding onto for miniature Christmas tree inspiration. Now that I'm thinking of it I would have had a much easier time using Meream's delightful doily tree tutorial, but I suppose I'll just have to empty another yarn cone and make another (oh woe is me :) Since I was using a cone with varying diameters and not an even-diameter stick I had some trial and error in getting my little pleated circle skirts just right (and there's a bit of error in it, but I'm not pointing out anything specific to you--it's anal retentive nonsense, as it really does look how I hoped it would). Wanna see? The light is practically nil--it's done nothing but be cloudy and rainy so I apologize for the icky indoor lighting.

It needed juuuust a touch of red--this little bow hits the spot (as the little berries I had were decidedly not little when compared to the tree).

 It's a little difficult to see, but I added some iridescent glitter paint. I was in the scrapboook section of the store waffling between the sheet music print and an old newspaper print--I'm glad I went with this one. I love things made of sheet music but I don't have the heart to cut the real stuff up.

 I love the little sproingy spring that makes the star look like it's floating above the tree. They didn't have silver or I'd have gone with that, but this looks cute too.

 We're running low on available space so I nestled this in among the snowmen--it won't get fiddled with too much there.

Secondly, the other Bethany shared a quick tut on how she made some "snow"-encrusted candles. I had quite the time finding these candles (they're the flameless LED kind) at a price that didn't break the bank, but I succeeded eventually. They're vanilla-scented, which I could do without, but not strongly, so I'll live :) I did exactly as she did but I added a few extra steps: I dunked my left hand in Mod Podge, I got epsom salts everywhere, I had paper towels stuck to me...I think that's it. Otherwise I did as directed :) 

The 3-pack I bought had 3 different sizes, so I clustered them on a tray. OK, it's not really a tray. I didn't feel like venturing out shopping anywhere to get a silver charger plate so I covered a paper plate in tin foil and camouflaged it a bit with a few small adornments to make it look naturey.

 Don't they look like you could touch them and be shocked at their cold? The epsom salts (after a vigorous shaking) seem to stay on quite well. I haven't had too many fall off that would be considered an abnormal amount.

 They don't take much time to make at all (I think the drying part takes the longest). 

Finally, today my sister brought the wee 'un over, and we all made Christmas bark. We usually do chocolate-covered pretzels but they're so time-consuming we went the lazy-but-tasty-if-not-tastier route. This recipe can be found all over the internet (it's Saltine crackers, butter, brown sugar, and chocolate chips--google 'Grandma's Christmas Bark' and the recipe with those ingredients will be the one you want. It is absolutely delightful (and would be a good food gift instead of the usual stuff).

The bottom layer tastes just like toffee--if someone didn't stop me I could probably eat this all day long and not tire of it.

We also made a tray of peppermint bark. In past years we melted the white chocolate and stirred in candy cane bits. This year we had a bag of mint bits but didn't notice they had almost a chocolatey consistency to them, so when we stirred them in to the melted chocolate it turned pink. To keep it from looking like spilled Pepto we put other mint bits on top. I couldn't get the color just right in the photo, but it is indeed the most perfect shade of peppermint pink--

 I adore this "mistake" because usually you taste the white chocolate with some minty accents. This has the peppermint flavor throughout, and is so deliciously smooth and creamy. They taste just like those pastel-colored mint non-pareils. Yummmmmmmmmy.

And then finally, we decorated the tree. This tree is the most luxuriously pungent Fraser Fir possibly ever. We go for a hard-core-dripping with ornaments-not a free branch type of tree trimming, but I love it I love it I love it I love it.

 You can tell everyone in our house is tall--the bottom is much less packed than the top. That's not to say it's bare--as Rachel put it "The bottom is normal. It's the rest that's crazy." True. Have I told you, though, that I love it?

Amidst all this we had ample time with the nephews, I finished my wrapping and shipped a few things, I squeezed in some knitting and reading, and am now watching 'A Christmas Carol' as I type this. I have had one delightful weekend, and I hope you have had the same :)

I'll be sharing at these link parties this week:

Under the Table and Dreaming*** Skip to My Lou *** Pinkapotamus *** Sew Can Do *** Craftomaniac *** Homemaker on a Dime *** C.R.A.F.T. *** Sarahndipities *** Today's Creative Blog*** Creative Itch *** Funky Polkadot Giraffe ***Chef in Training *** My Girlish Whims *** Sew Much Ado *** Free Pretty Things for You *** Tea Rose Home *** Someday Crafts*** Somewhat Simple *** Fireflies and Jellybeans *** Suzy's Artsy Craftsy Sitcom  *** The Shabby Nest *** While He Was Napping *** Tatertots and Jello *** Be Different Act Normal *** To Sew With Love *** Craftionary *** 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Favorite Interfacings (Try and Control Your Excitement)

Interfacing's not terribly sexy, is it? Can you imagine folks sitting around, playing this sort of game--"Quick--if you were on a deserted island, what would be your must-have interfacing? Hurry! Answer!" I doubt you'd get many folks to play with you (I totally would, though, bee tee dubs). Interfacing is the hard-working stuff that gets hidden within the layers of your project, but is oh so important to it (much like your skeleton is to you).

When I learned to sew I didn't get the best explanation on what the stuff was, so I learned as I went. I trial and errored a lot of different things, learned about my favorites, what would work in a pinch, the virtues of each, and so on. I have a few favorite stand-bys I buy by the bolt, and some I buy as necessary. I can't stand cutting it and fusing it/sewing it, but I wouldn't dream of making a hard-wearing bag without the stuff. There are tons of varieties with tons of purposes, but I'm going to focus on those I find best for bag making.

I'll be honest--sometimes I skip it, depending on the bag. All of the easy totes I wrote tuts for over the summer? None have interfacing. If I'm using home dec weight fabric I'm more inclined to skip it there, too (but not always). However, if I want a more structured bag that is going to get a lot of heavy use I stick some in for sure. I'm one of those folks that carries one bag per season--I don't care for changing my bag to match this or that (OK, I'm too lazy to do it) so I need my stuff to see me through. Using the interfacings I'm going to tell you about I've never had an issue with excessive wear and tear.

 Remember this bag? It's made out of Walmart fabric and interfaced well. I've used it as my fall bag for 3 years in a row (I love it that much)--and the only spot there is the tiniest bit of wear that you have to reeeeaaallly look for is on one of the outside corners.

The products I use are all made by Pellon. It started as a coincidence as that's all I could find when I started sewing, but ended up being just fine as I love love LOVE their products. I've tried going the cheap, generic route and regretted it. When it comes to interfacings I suggest you buy the best you can afford (if that's an option). But if you must go cheaper then do so--it's better than omitting it altogether.

Guys? I'm getting tired of typing 'interfacing,' so it's going to be IF from here on out...


First up, I always have Shape Flex on hand. It's a woven, fusible interfacing that comes in white and black, so you have some color options depending on your fabric colors. It works beautifully with quilt-weight fabrics--it maintains the drape of the fabric, strengthens it, doesn't bulk things up, and is so easy to apply! You can press right on top of it and it won't melt or burn (unless you put the iron down on it and walk away for an hour). My biggest complaint with it is that it only comes twenty inches wide--I'd love it if they made it the width of standard fabric. Maybe one day... I purchase this by the bolt from Joann's. You can definitely find it elsewhere, but I like to tack on one of those 50% coupons they send to make it a real steal. I bought a twenty yard bolt back in March and just now am getting close to replacing it. They also sell sew-in woven, if that's more your inclination.

My second love is Thermolam Plus Fusible Fleece. It's a needled-fleece with adhesive on one side. It comes in white, but I'd love it if they released it in black, too. This is my other standard IF by my sewing table. I use it in almost every single bag I make. It keeps the bag soft and squishy, yet strong and structured. I also buy this from Joann's with one of their coupons (because I don't like paying more than I have to for this stuff--it's such a necessity but I hate paying too much for it. And here's me telling you not to be cheap, right? LOL). For this one you must use a press cloth if you iron right on top of it or the stuff will melt and stiffen and you'll say bad words and such. I tend to put my fabric side facing up and fuse it that way. They also sell this as a sew-in which is just as nice as the fusible.

Almost every bag you see on my blog has those 2 interfacings in it (unless noted otherwise). I stand behind these products completely (and I'd stand in front, under, to the side, wherever if I had to :)
Third, I keep a much smaller bit of Peltex on hand. This is quite a firm interfacing for when you want to give bags a boxy structure that will keep their shape on their own. I use this much less often than the other two as I like pluffy squishy bags more, but is my go-to when I need something boxy and stiff. I normally buy the sew-in variety, but they do have this in fusible and even double-sided fusible. This can be quite bulky in the seams, though. What I like to do is cut the Peltex smaller than the size needed by the width of the seam allowance on each side, and then iron the full-sized woven on top of it. It's held in place on the edges, where you want it to be, and when you sew it together there's no extra bulk in the seams. BUT your project will still be nice and structured. This helps when you have to do that top-stitching around the top edge of the bag where all the seams and layers come together--saves a few needles, that's for sure!

 This bag can stand up by itself thanks to Peltex :)

If I've got no Shape Flex and the store is out and I neeeeeeed it I will buy the medium craft-weight stuff. It looks a little bit like fibery-paper. That too comes in sew-in and fusible, but I tend towards the fusible. I used this stuff when I started making bags and it does hold up quite well--I just fell seriously hard for Shape Flex when I found it. Sometimes the light-weight stuff works well, too--I tend to stick with that more on small purses that won't bear a lot of weight, or something that might not be used often.

As you can see I tend towards using fusibles--I dislike pinning all those layers together or sewing around the edges and all that stuff unless I absolutely have to. I will always try to figure out a way to make something work with a fusible before I do the extra work. Some people don't like them or have no luck with them, and tend towards sew-ins. I've used both and haven't experienced any major differences that would make me lean towards one or the other (besides my aforementioned laziness, of course). The only instance I can think of in which fusibles absolutely will not work is if the fabric you're using has a fairly open weave--you will have a sticky mess on everything from the adhesive working its way through (either on your ironing surface or on your iron--neither are fun to get off). If you've got any wisdom in the fuse/non-fuse area, please enlighten me in the comments. As I'm largely self-taught I have more learn-as-you-go-knowledge on this particular subject.

If you make bags or are interested in getting started, give some of these a whirl. I don't think you'll be disappointed at all. If you've got some goodies you use that I haven't mentioned please let us know in the comments--I'm always looking for new tips and tricks to improve my projects.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Couch-Crafting

Pretty much my only accomplishment this weekend was sitting my rear on the sofa and stitching away (amongst some shopping, of course). The weather is so dreary and gray there was no hope of decent photos, so hopefully your imagination is working today.

I don't know about you but I go through spurts with my crafting. Since I finished up some orders and organized my stash to within an inch of its life I haven't felt like making a mess and sewing things. But I always feel the need for busy hands so I decided to make some felt ornaments. Because I felt like it. Hahaha! Geddit? A few weeks ago I was in Barnes and Noble. I had gone there with the intent of buying some craft mags but they didn't have any I wanted. Since I had the idea in my brain I needed to leave with some sort of crafty tome. Since I love making cutesy stuff with felt I decided on this one:

I'll be honest--the projects are super adorable but a lot of them are creative takes on basic shapes. My creative thoughts come in waves--the busier I am the more they ebb, and that's where I am now. So I wanted a book that said "Do this" and that was that. If I was at a creativity high tide I might have flipped through and left it on the store shelf.

I picked a few things and stitched them up the other night with my stash of buttons nearby. After working with regular acrylic felt I understand why, if what I've read is true, wool felt might be preferable. The price of wool felt is not preferable to me, especially for some ornaments, so I cheaped out.

Here's what I made:

 I didn't make the box--I just thought it was way too adorable not to share. It was the only one in this design or I'd have picked up a few, just to hoard.

 The super-cute box came from AC Moore (which is pretty much the same as Michael's, but a little cheaper).

 This was the last one I made. Can you tell I was feeling tired at this point? Good thing gingerbread house renditions are not normally known for fanciness and perfection.

 The dove was the first thing. It took me a few tries to get the eyes just right. Have you ever noticed how proper eye placement keeps a bird from looking creepy? I should have taken a few pics of the early tries to show you.

 I wanted this bell to look very sweet and feminine--the pink and the pearl buttons make me think Victorian. Just don't look too closely at it, m'kay?

 And here we have a couple basics. The heart with its buttons makes me thing of a red suit with a white dress shirt--like a funky Christmas get-up.

Last night I popped in A Christmas Carol and hopped to with my hook and some yarn and stuffing. I saw this tutorial and got irrationally giddy about the thought of making some. My practice attempt looked like a dirty carrot with an aluminum foil tiara, but I worked out any kinks so my official attempts would be good. Just what the heck am I yammering on about? Why, gigantic crocheted light bulbs, of course!

I'm not usually a 3-D crocheter, so they were weird to do at first. I wasn't sure about their visual proximity to the real thing, but after a night's sleep and fresh morning eyes I like them.

 I did one in each of the four main colors. I used regular cheap yarn for the bulbs, and then some of Vanna's Glamour held double for the socket part.

When I made the first one (the dirty carrot version) I asked my Dad if he knew what it was. He looked, considered, and said (not incorrectly) "'s obviously a...shaped...thing...that has a sparkly top. It's an's an ornament." I squinted and tilted my head and considered it good enough to continue.

Kind of cute, right? I hope--they're going to be a gift for a friend I don't get to see often.

If you want to make the bulb ornaments I did change one thing about the pattern--at the very beginning she indicates 2 rounds of 6. I found that one round of 6 worked sooo much better. Other than that I followed along as indicated.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sometimes you just have to ask....

It's that time of year where the credit card gets a good workout and I come in from work every day and ask "Did I get any packages today?" Usually they're gifts for others so it's not super exciting, just nice to know the Post Office hasn't lost them... This week, however, I was eagerly awaiting a package that finally came.

Here's the story. Back in March I ordered a full bolt each of my favorite interfacings--a woven fusible, and a fusible needled fleece. I use both obsessively in my bag-making and highly recommend them. However, for the past months I've noticed something. The fleece wasn't adhering properly, and often left my bags with a slightly rumply look, no matter how I ironed and ironed. Since I sell to a fairly small circle of people, none of who are as ridiculously detail-oriented and anal-retentive as I am, they haven't noticed. It's especially nice that most of the bags have pleats and outside pockets and all that jazz that help conceal the rumple. But I can't begin to tell you how it irked me.

I tried everything. I followed the directions, I didn't follow them, I did a hot iron with and without steam, a medium iron with and without steam, a press cloth, no press cloth, and a bunch of other "brilliant" ideas, none of which led me to success. And then, just before Thanksgiving, I was giving a good clean-out to my sewing corner. I keep an interfacing scrap bag so I can use little bits to reinforce snaps or use in small projects so I can keep my yardage intact. When I was tidying that up I noticed that the fleece I had from previous batches was very rough with adhesive, whereas my bolt was pretty smooth. After months of head-scratching it finally hit me that there wasn't enough glue! Lest you think I'm slow on the uptake...well, I am. I have no excuse for why I wouldn't think of that sooner.

I wrote to the company and told them, explaining I was going to keep using their products and I didn't want anything but for them to know about this issue. They not only offered to replace what I had used from my original bolt, but they sent me a label to return my remaining yards to them for analysis. I am more than pleased with this--I wasn't expecting or seeking anything, it was essentially a humble request to put more glue on the fleece so my future purchases would be nice and sticky. I even tried to explain to the girl that it didn't sound like a fair trade since I had bought it so long ago, and how stupid am I for not noticing, and I used such and such an amount, and blah blah blah. But she persisted and my big package arrived. Of course I had to tear into it to see what it felt like, and THIS batch feels nice and rough with adhesive. I can't wait to use it.

Sometimes you just have to speak up. You never know what the world will toss your way :)

I'm going to toss a post on my favorite interfacings your way, just in case you have a New Year's res to start sewing bags and want the nitty gritty.

And if you're wondering about the very random autumn pics--I took them on Thanksgiving when the light was just perfect, and then promptly forgot about them. I thought they were too pretty to keep to myself, so I stuck them in a nice, boring customer service/not enough glue post. You're welcome :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...