Sunday, January 30, 2011

Purdy Paper Polyhedrons

I don't remember where I saw these originally, but I know I clicked on a link and ended up at the Heather Bailey blog:
When I see something like this, I have to make it immediately. If I were to see this at 3 a.m. I would get pretty annoyed that no craft stores would be open to satisfy these late-night cravings. So I headed straight to AC Moore to load up on Valentiney papers (which were on mega-sale--WOOT!). And a glue stick. I printed out the pattern from here, and set to work. I ended up using a cup to trace all those circles. Cutting them all out may be the least fun thing I've ever done. And I had a claw hand for a little bit until my scissors muscles relaxed. You know how I overdo things? Yeah....I cut out enough circles for eight of these in one sitting. That's 160 circles. Plus I had extra...a lot extra. I recommend smaller doses of these because by the time I got to the end I was just feeling done with it. But they did turn out cute:
I didn't add any little dangly things to the bottom (obviously) because I was just too excited to make one I didn't even want to consider embellishments (although they would have been cuter). My edges are a little...not as neat as they should be, but you can't really tell. I strung them up on some red ribbon, and now they are hanging in front of the kitchen windows.
I showed one of these to the nephew, and I prefaced it with "Do you want to see a shape I made that has twenty faces?" Math is his second language and it's a foreign one to me so I thought he'd be excited. I showed it to him, he looked at it, and went "Mmmm-hmmmm." I said "Don't you think that's awesome? It's made of paper and it has twenty faces!" The response: "It's're always trying to amaze me with things like that. It's not that amazing."

But I like them. I think their construction was pretty interesting, too. They look much brighter in person, but this is the worst window to take pictures near. It's always flooded with light so unless I climb onto the windowsill the pictures will be blah. I wouldn't make this many again, though. I think one would be cute at Christmas with some felt mistletoe or something--kind of like a kissing ball without the poisonous berries. If you choose to make any of these here's a tip on the link: it downloads a zip file to your computer. When you go to unzip it there are two pdf files in the folder. The second one (the larger of the two) is the one that contains the instructions. So if you click on the first file and get nowhere don't despair.

That's all I've got for now. Hopefully my nesting-doll project will be blog ready this week. Which is Bee-speak for "I'm going to start tomorrow." Have a deeee-lightful Monday! And can I get a collective "Reaallllyyyyy????" on the fact that January is already over? Where the h-e-double hockey sticks did it go?

Thursday, January 27, 2011 way I could help it...

You all know I'm experiencing an odd obsession with matryoshka dolls, right? So it shouldn't come as any surprise to you that, when presented with a specific project idea, I didn't even try to talk myself out of buying this:

I was going to start today, but after shoveling 16+ inches of snow I decided to be lazy instead. This weekend, hopefully. I ordered this fabric from Super Buzzy. I really like ordering from smaller shops and businesses instead of from your typical huge online retailers that don't really care about the product or the recipient's delight in receiving said product. I love getting these small-biz shipments because it's almost like unwrapping a gift to yourself. This one came with a little note of inspiration, and some Japanese candy:

I love how they also threw in that little "green" message at the bottom. Little touches like this really tickle me and make me more inclined to shop somewhere like this, even if they are pricier than other shops. The peach gummy on the right was delish. The other one left me feeling like I had licked a scented candle. I ate it anyway. I'm a trooper like that.

OK, so that's not so bad, right? A fabric in a theme I like, bought from a place I've been itching to buy from, for a project I saw that's adorable. It gets worse. Or should I say...better?

I tried to fight this next one. I even clicked away. But I could fight it no more and I'm completely geeked with my nonsensical purchase that I have no ideas for. Yet. It started off delightfully:

...and got better...

Yes, you're reading that right. It's tape. I love the whole Japanese Zakka thing going on...and I especially love the unique translation on the label. Here comes the best part. You might want to sit down.

I know, I know. I have no idea what I'm using it for. But I'm sure one day a situation will come along where someone will say "I really wish I had some pink matryoshka tape," and there I will be, saving the day, with three color options to boot. I couldn't bear to take the label off yet, though. I ordered this from the 'Felt Cafe' shop on Etsy. Again, small shop, small gesture that I love:

OK, I have to go listen to a flute recital. It's a riveting performance by an eight year old boy that features such classics as "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and "Hot Cross Buns." Have a happy Friday!

OH! And I just hit 100 followers, and I'm almost at 200 posts. I smell a giveaway. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Quilting Practice

I tend to go overboard sometimes. I won't lie. Why make one when I can make twenty? Never mind if I don't need any at all. But sometimes I get an idea in my head and I must go with it or I will literally lay (lie?) in bed thinking about it until it's out of my system. Such is the case with my weekend quilting adventures. I had a pile of lovely red and white scraps sitting on my sewing table for a few days, and thought "Hey, that would be a nifty quilt block!" I didn't have enough for a quilt, so I thought "Oooowwweeee potholders! Yesssss!" So I dug out a bunch of scraps and settled in for the afternoon.

First I decided to practice on a single square of fabric without any piecing, the front and back being the same (I haven't quilted anything in a looooong time). I am in love with this fabric but only had a small bit left--perfect for this project:

The binding isn't my favorite--red might have been a better choice. And it's reeeaaalllly stiff. I was using that Insul-bright stuff that has metallic something or other punched through to reflect heat or cold back to the source. I followed the directions and used two layers of that with some cotton batting in-between. I showed it to my mother, who thought it was a bit too stiff for a potholder. When I reread the directions, they recommended it for use in oven mitts, so there'd be one less layer. She told me she would gladly use it to set hot dishes on as the ones she has are falling apart from ages of use. 

This one is the reason I wanted to try making SOMEthing quilted--the colors just looked so cheery together.

It looks wonky on the bottom but it's really not--it's just the way I cropped the picture. The cherries and polka dots contrast is my favorite. So fresh and pretty! There is one thing I didn't notice until I was almost done, but seeing as what it's going to be used for it's no biggie:

This is really a blah picture but if you look closely at the stripes you can see it's more of an off-white instead of a true white that it's butted up against. But again--it's a hot pad. And we're drippers and sloshers around here so I'm not going to worry too much.

And this is the back: it looks like a picnic :)

Then I got carried away. I had bought a pack of coordinating fat eighths months ago, and decided that I must use every one of them. This is a little bit too busy but it all goes together anyway. It's just a LOT:

I'm not sure what I was thinking with this one. It probably would have been better if I had chosen two or three, but go big or go home is how I roll (haha) so there they ALL are. I'm a big fan of grid quilting--it's easy to do and I can use blue masking tape as a guideline. On the first two, because they were square, the quilting lines created squares. Because this one is for a casserole dish, more of a diamond pattern was created:


And here's the back:

Ummmm.....was there anything else.....AH! I used my walking foot for this because it was layer-licious. It definitely helped keep everything nice. I think the backs would have been way squiggly without it. If you look closely you can see my pitiful binding job. If any of these were quilts I would have hand-sewn the binding on. I've resigned myself to the fact that it just looks so much better (I hate hand-sewing). But for this I machine-sewed it and it's kind of icky. But by the time I get to the end of a project I'm eager to be finished. If I could get away with it I would leave all the ends hanging off of the afghans I make (isn't weaving in the ends the worst?).

Then I ran out of the insulated batting so I had to stop. Who knows what I would have come up with? I probably would have made a quilted hot water heater cover (which is one of the recommended uses of the stuff--true story) out of 572 circles that don't match.

Chins up, lovelies--it's Wednesday! We're halfway there!!

Monday, January 24, 2011


So I had a day that was slightly less than fun. Something I can't even imagine experiencing happened to a co-worker of mine. It was on my mind all day, and as each new detail came about it just made my heart feel heavier. There was a point where I thought I was going to start crying at my desk. I came home and logged on, expecting to see the usual coupons and spam medicine ads in my email. Oh, they were there all right, but then I saw a note from Helen, aka Serendipity Child. She had sent me word, on a day that I needed it, that she was awarding me this:

This award does not come without its duties. I must:
1. Thank and link back to the person who gave me this award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Award 15 bloggers.
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.

OK, then. Seven things.

1. My blog name--interestingly, I just (literally--JUST) got an email from someone asking how I came up with my blog name. I realized I had never shared where I came up with it, so here's the story:  When my nephew was born we were sitting around joking about what he would call me because it was proving impossible for all the kids in the family to say my name. They said I was going to be Aunt Bea--I rebelled against this because I kept thinking of Andy Griffith. Finally I told them that I would accept it as long as it was understood that it was b-e-e, not b-e-a. I could settle for being called something akin to an insect (?) that gets to roll around inside flowers all day. When I was trying to come up with a name for my blog I wanted to use Bee. As it happened, I was watching "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." One of the characters is Dee, and they call her Sweet Dee. So I kind of fused the two. Sweet Bee was already taken (by a blog that isn't even posted to, much to my annoyance) so I had to come up with something else, so I threw in the 'Buzzings.'

2. My favorite candy is the conversation heart. I've seen a ton of Valentine crafts using them, and all I can think of is what a waste of perfectly good hearts... On a side note, my favorite brand is Necco. This year, for the first time ever I can only find Brach's and Sweethearts. All 3 brands are very distinctly flavored, and Necco is the most superior, in my opinion. Their absence isn't thrilling me.

3. I love to read. I used to devour books, but then I got into crafting, so now I only sip at them. I do most of my reading just before bed. I've been seeing a lot of crafts where books are cut up and folded and glued into charming things. While they're adorable and pretty clever, I can never see myself destroying a book to create a decoration. I use my books as they are as decorative items--is there anything more charming and inviting than a stack of books just waiting to be explored?

4. I am single (although you probably gathered that). Other people seem to have more of a problem with it than I do, as if it's some unnatural state of being. I have fun in my world of all me-all the time. I get to do what I want, when I want. There are certain drawbacks (like when you need a wedding date) but for the most part I am perfectly happy. I'm probably overly picky, but the general consensus seems to be that the caliber of guy is not what it used to be.

5. I curse a lot. I try hard not to, but I can't help it, it's such a terrible habit. I try to vanquish it every year for Lent, but then I get in my car and game over. More curses have been uttered in my car than in where you'd expect lots of cursing. I won't curse in print, though. It's like I really said it if I put it in a permanent state, whereas if I utter it it's gone.

6. I regret not asking more of my grandparents when they were alive. I can't imagine what I'd be able to do now if I had shown the slightest bit of interest in sewing when I was younger (my maternal grandmother was a seamstress and went to school for it). I realized late (but still in time) that I wanted to learn certain things, and my paternal grandmother has taught me most of them. The stories I could have heard, the lessons I could have learned...gone. There are many pictures and word-of-mouth stories around, but the treasures I could have collected will never be. This is probably why I'm constantly telling my nephew about how things were when we were kids.

7. OK. I'm going to admit something to you that you may consider odd, but you guys are so lovely and leave me such delightfully warm comments that I'd like to share. I live at home (I always thought that was a funny way to say it--where else would you live but at home?--I guess I should say I never moved out). It's fairly embarrassing as society tells you that you should be out by a certain age. But I don't know that I could live easily with a roommate, and I don't think I could live totally alone (I'd be the neurotic one sitting on the couch all night with a baseball bat, ready to swing at the slightest noise). And, hard as it can be to believe, I like my family, lol. I have instant opinions for anything I create or want to create, there's always someone to talk to, there's always food, lol, and my dad kills the big scary bugs. I'm not sure if it's a weird thing to feel weird about or if it's actually weird to still be home, but I wanted to share.

Sheesh, that ended up being wordy. And now I need fifteen blogs to award.

Madmoiselle Poirot
Michelle's Cozy Cottage
My Little Blogspot
Stuff By Ash
Sunshine and Chaucer
The Loops
Wildflowers and Whimsy
Bunny Mummy
Kandipandi's Pad
Garden Peas and Fleas
Bored and Crafty
Between U and Me
Dreaming of a Country Home
Iron Violet Designs

Seriously--I could keep going. I purposely didn't choose the superblogs, though. You know the ones--they have 150 million followers and certainly don't need another mention. I chose smaller, cozy blogs, the ones where you really get a feel for the person behind the monitor. I hope you find a few that you enjoy as much as I do. And if you hate blog awards, you can just ignore me :)

OK, now I have to go send fifteen emails. Later, taters!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Super Simple Heart Garland

I had a bunch of pink felt left over from Christmas (I don't even KNOW why I had so much pink felt--I have no idea what I was going to make from it but when that fleeting idea paraded through my brain I probably thought it was going to be spectacular, if anything made from cheap-o acrylic felt can be spectacular). I didn't feel like doing anything requiring much thinking this past week, so I borrowed this idea and made my own version.

I only needed 4 sheets of felt (a red, a dark pink, a light pink, and a white) to get 99 hearts of just the right size for this. There should have been 100 but somehow I goofed and the red was shorted by one. It took maybe an hour to cut all of these out (I freehand terribly so I used a template from Google Images shrunk to the size (roughly 2 inches high and wide) I wanted as a guide), and about ten minutes to sew them all together.

I went from the dip in the heart to the point, instead of point-first. The first few are a little further apart then the rest because it took a few to find my groove to chain-stitch them together. I dig it big time:

Apologies for the blech lighting. We've been having ice, snow, rain and gloomy days. And when there's sunshine--my camera battery needs charging. Anybody else not feel like going to work tomorrow? Back soon, lovelies--I've been practicing my quilting! Ta for now!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Get a Grip Already!!

Hello, lovelies! I had a custom order I was working on this week, so I've been a bit absent. I should have thrown in a bit more exercise to make up for the gluttonous amounts of buttercake I ate on Tuesday, but I digress. No, wait--let me re-digress. Have you ever had butter cake? One of my work mates brought in a freshly made cake on Tuesday. We put it in the oven to heat while I chair-danced in anticipation. The gooey, oozy, sweet and buttery yum could not be equalled. My aerobics instructor frequently says "When you're about to eat that (insert fatty treat here), think of how hard you'll have to work to work it off and ask yourself if it's worth it." I can assure you, dear readers, every single bite was worth it. The cream doughnut I had over the weekend was stale and not worth it, but this was.

Also--I wanted to say hello and welcome to my new followers (and my older ones too)! I do so hope you enjoy your stay. I try to mix it up with a little of this and a little of that, so hopefully we'll have good times together :)

OK, getting back to my point. I love craft gadgets. Could the points of scissors poke out some corners just as easily as a bamboo point poking thingee? Yes, of course. But I have one anyway. Actually, I have two. I just love having all of these little things that can make a task so much easier. And when it's a bit easier I enjoy it more. I wanted to show you a few things I received in a box of sewing goodies for Christmas. I put them to use right away...

First up: a gripper for my cutting ruler.

It's not very large, which is fine because it does the job well and can be used on several rulers. One of the handles moves to release or engage the suction cup on the bottom. I love this because it safely keeps my fingers out of the way when I'm rotary cutting. I once had the blade barely touch my finger and it left me with something akin to a wicked paper cut. I can only imagine if I was doing some serious cutting when that happened. If you'd like a larger size there's the one that I think looks like a princess phone:

I opted for the smaller one as it would be easier to store. So far I'm happy with it.

Next up: when you cut do you find your ruler ever sliding out of place? I'll be moving along, thinking "What a perfect cut I'm making!" when objects start to think for themselves and my ruler slips over here, and my blade goes over there and then I start cursing under my breath. Well, since I stuck a few of these little babies on the underside of my ruler I haven't had that problem:

The only thing I'm less than thrilled with is that if you're trying to slide your ruler a hair to make an adjustment you can't really do it with these or it could pull your fabric. Still, I'll take the extra 2 seconds to set my ruler over having to waste fabric or neaten up messy cuts from my ruler slipping.

The next two are pretty sharp (and I intend this as a pun--you'll see :)  Needles can be pretty pricey. They tell you to change your needle every project. I try to make them last as long as I can. When the machine starts making the noise that lets me know it needs a new needle then I change it. But now I have this nifty needle sharpening pad:

I'm not sure about it yet as I've only used it once, but I'm hoping that it will make my needles last a bit longer.

And finally, have you ever dropped a pin? Sure you have. Have you ever found it by stepping on it? No matter how hard I try to get each pin in the cushion I do have some epic pin-dropping failures. And since I have a curious dog, it's not the best idea to leave my sewing area with a rogue pin lying in wait. So I got a magnetic pin caddy and I love it. I just need to let go of the pin in the general area and the caddy sucks it into position. Plus, if I drop one, I just kind of wave this thing over the area until I hear the 'click' that lets me know my feet are safe again. And my nephew enjoyed conducting experiments with it to see how far away you could be and still get the pin to come to you. It's pretty far, lemme tell ya!


I had posted some of these before as major "wants" and when my mumsy said she needed a few more ideas I was well-prepared. So that's that.

I found all of these at Nancy's Notions. Click each picture to go to the product page.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I heart fabric wreaths

Is anyone else missing Christmas? Everything looks so bare, and I miss holiday crafting. Up next on the calendar for things-we-can-decorate-for is Singles Awareness Day. Er.....Valentines Day. I say that jokingly. I heart Valentines Day (see what I did there?). I know it's supposed to be a manufactured Hallmark holiday and blah blah blah...I might agree with that if the colors were anything other than red and pink. If it was purple and gray or something I'd be all "Meh. Whatever."  But it's pink and red. And white. And there's usually sparkles involved. I always felt my mother should decorate for this day with the same vigor as she does Christmas, but I'm willing to admit this is unrealistic overkill.

Sheesh, I'm rambling. One of my favorite things I've seen and made recently is the tied fabric wreath. Easy, pretty, and simple to customize according to taste and decor. So that's what my first craft is for the holiday. I started off with this:

A 10 inch hoop (as I couldn't find a heart that wasn't Styrofoam), some plain wooden hearts (as I couldn't find something to hang in the center of the wreath that I liked), and 3 half-yard cuts of fabric.

I cut the fabric from selvage to selvage in one and a half inch strips. I then cut those strips into 7-inch lengths (though I'm thinking 8 inches might have been better). I used my rotary pinker to minimize fraying. And then I just tied and tied and tied. Then I smooshed and tied and smooshed and tied until I couldn't squeeze a single thing more on that hoop. I could have left off some of the strips but I was determined to use each and every one of them.

I was hoping to find a cute decorative thing to hang, but I have not been able to find a single thing that I liked or that matched just right. I asked sister Alicia to paint me a heart to hang instead. She did a double-sided heart, and I can't decide which I like better:

So then I put it all together, and this is now on the front door:

From a bit further away it almost looks like a flowered wreath the way the colors kind of meld together, but closer you can see that it's not.

This is so easy to make and I think it's so adorable that I want to make one for everything. Have a few more looks:

And that, said Bee, is that.
Have a swell Monday :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A place for everything...

Every year around this time I get this overwhelming feeling of "Oh I have way too much stuff! I must purge!" Last year I was very successful at this, and I hope the boxes and boxes I gave away have found good homes. This year, however, my fabric stash was preying on my mind. I tried to organize it doing the old fold and stack method, but I never wanted to touch it for fear of toppling it, so I just kept adding to it. I don't know why, but I was getting this overwhelming feeling of "Gah!!! What am I going to DO with it all?" and so I avoided it.

Now, I don't have a sewing room. My stash is mainly on some shelves in the spare bedroom. And in a big plastic storage tote. And in some dresser drawers. Or, I should say, WAS. A few weeks ago, I read a stash-changing post here. And this past snowy Saturday I made a thermos of tea and committed myself to organization.

I had myself a grand old time (fabric addicts will understand, others will quietly mumble "Weirdo." That's ok--I get that). There was something soothing about unfolding and refolding my fabric and making mini-bolts and pretty little stacks of things. My mumsy helped me for a bit (she feigned excitement nicely) and my sister helped with comments like "What are you going to do with it all? What possessed you to buy all this? Did you ever even use most of these? You could totally sell this." All valid comments, but lacking in fabric addiction understanding.

So here are my pictures--these are taken after I bagged up of a lot of things that I will never, ever use and don't even know why I bought. My stash that seemed overwhelming now seems manageable and more inspirational. My stash was minuscule in comparison to some I have seen, but there was enough to make me realize I'd better start using some of it. ANYway, here you go:

I tried to organize more by color but I have several that don't fit anywhere. On these bolts are cuts a half yard and above. I taped the ends with blue painter's tape and wrote the length on that.

 This is my "sizable scrap" box. It holds fat quarters and odd large cuts of fabric. With most of these there is enough to make some decent sized items, but it would have been ridiculous to waste a board on them.

This big bin holds things that I have patchwork ideas for. It's almost full so I'd better get moving.

 This one holds zippers. And nothing else. There must be almost 100 in here of every color. I will probably never use these in my lifetime but will buy more anyway. Because of every color I have I am lacking in black and white, the two I use most.

 The pink bucket holds all of my sets of wooden and plastic bag handles. I can't take anything out though, because if I take one out it's all coming out there are so many in there. The jars in front hold buttons, assorted D-rings and bolt snap hooks and lanyard hooks.

 You may think this one holds plastic bags, but it holds an obscene amount of magnetic snaps (seriously, what is WRONG with me?) as well as oodles of purse frames, both straight and curvy. I'm keeping them wrapped so they don't scratched so it's not the greatest shot, but trust me. It's embarrassing.

So there you have it. I seriously got rid of so much that I think it'd have taken me an extra day if I hadn't. The only other spot I have fabric is in that big plastic storage tote--it's home dec type stuff and some bits of flannel and linen that are still of a usable size but didn't fit with the rest of my cottons.

I seriously feel much less overwhelmed with it all. It's easy now to scan what I have and have an idea of how much there is. It's easier to try and pair things up because everything is accessible. And it beats the landfill-sized pile of plastic bags that half the stuff was in, as well as the leaning fabric towers I had constructed.

Over Christmas I organized my sewing corner. I bought one of these wheeled-drawer plastic thingees and put everything from my sewing table in there. The bottom drawer is all patterns. The top drawer is threads, bobbins, machine feet, and other things I want quick access to. The middle drawer are things I use fairly frequently but can be a bit more buried. I have so much more room on the table now and there aren't a gazillion boxes and bags overflowing with stuff.

I feel so much better now that everything is in its place that it's almost like that feeling you got after you gave a speech in history class or something and realized you were all done with that angst-inducing experience.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Vanilla with a splash of color

There is a blanket of white outside right now. It snowed all night, but didn't leave us with a huge amount of snow (I have mixed feelings about this). I love looking out the window when snow is covering everything, making it all look pretty. But, because I'm me, I like to liven up plain old white with color, so here you go (click the photos to go to the host site):

I'm oddly excited that this is Pantone's color of the year. I love this shade of pink! And I've got a good bit of it or something similar in my stash....

How adorable are these cake cup flowers with lollipop centers from Skip to My Lou? 

An Amy Butler 'Soul Blossoms' quilt from Red Pepper Quilts. For some reason I see her fabrics and am not in love...but then I see things made out of it and think "I want that fabric!"

I had to fight with myself at the craft store yesteray not to buy pom-poms like these...seriously (from Noodlehead).

I have no idea what I'd do with the things made from this book, but I want it anyway because it's flipping adorable.

Hope you're all staying warm. There is snow on the ground in 49 states (Florida being the only hold-out). Even Hawaii has it!! Pretty cool.


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