Saturday, September 25, 2010

Paper Pumpkin Tutorial For Fall Decorating

My niece and nephew are coming for a sleepover tonight & I thought we should do a fun Halloween craft. I recently saw some adorable pumpkins made with simple strips of scrapbooking paper on a crafty blog and thought I'd make something similar. I can't find the blog post though, so if you've done these in the past 10 days give me a shout and I'll give you the credit you are due!  I did a quick google search and there are several websites with variations out there using pipe cleaners, empty toilet paper rolls and all kinds of clever materials.

***ETA: I found her!  These were taught by Kat from Everybody Loves Raymond ... and Kat!  She has a tutorial up so click on the link and go over and give her some props.  Her's are very classy in black and white, but since I'll be making these with a 6 year old I stuck with the traditional pumpkin orange.  I don't know what blog etiquette is on making something you saw somewhere else, so if I should dump the tutorial part here and just leave up the pictures with her link, someone let me know!

For this project, you will need
- halloweenish scrapbooking paper (double sided looks the best, but its not necessary)
- small scraps of green paper
- two paper brads in a coordinating color
- a pencil
- scissors or a fancy cutting tool
- hole punch

They are super simple. Cut 8x8 halloween orange scrapbooking paper into 1 inch strips. You could use any size paper and you may want to create several different sizes to do a vignette or put in a basket or bowl.   Shorter strips will make a shorter pumpkin with a smaller diameter. 

For this pumpkin, I decided to use two sheets of 8x8 paper, and obviously got 16 strips.  I used craft scissors to make a fun edge on half the strips.  If I were doing it again with 8x8 paper, I'd make about 4 more strips to make it more full.  I wish I had double sided paper because I don't really care for the white showing through, but I didn't have any at work.  (Gasp - yes, I am at work!  Luckily I work for myself so I won't get fired!)  The paper I used for the leaves is double sided, and it just looks better.

Punch a hole into the center of each end of each strip. Try really hard to get the hole in the same place on each strip or you'll end up with a wonky sphere. Since I was using striped paper, I punched at the end of the first stripe, and was able to punch 3 strips at a time with my punch. Stack them up neatly.  Hopefully you can see through the holes with no trouble.

Cut out a leaf shape or two and punch a hole, then stack this right on top at one end.  To create the leaf, take a small square of green paper and fold it in half.  Trace and cut half a leaf shape in such a way that the folded edge becomes the center line of the leaf.  I did it this way so even if it was a goofy looking leaf, at least both sides were even.  I cut two sizes of leaves.  Having the fold line down the center of the leaf adds a lifelike dimension to it also.  Punch a hole in the center of the base of your leaves.  Cut a narrow strip about 6 inches long & punch a hole in one end.  Then cut down the center (almost all the way to the hole) to create 2 curlies.  Stack this strip in between the two leaves and place the three pieces on top of one end of your orange strips.  Put a brad into the holes at each end of the paper strips. You can curl the leaf tentacles around a pencil at any time.

Once your two brads are inserted, begin to fan out the strips.  As you work, they will start to create a ball. Its quite ingenious!

I wanted to do a test run before we make some tonight to be sure I know what I'm doing.  I'm not quite sure how to make them sit flat.  This guy is a little topsy turvy but I think he's terribly cute.  I'll be back later to show you what else we make tonight!

A linking I will go .... Check out the cute projects at some of these link parties!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pretty as a Peacock

I did it!  I finished a sewing project!  Between the bobbin issue and my serious time management issues, I haven't gotten any projects done til last night.  I was determined though, so after another lovely evening at my sisters I finally sat down at the machine and worked on priority number one - the bathroom window curtain.  It wasn't a top priority because of privacy issues, it just was something I was dying to do!

So here's my lovely spa blue bathroom before ...

I recently decided I am enamoured of peacocks.  I ordered this beautiful vase for the shop a little while ago, but I loved it so much I bought it for myself.  Recently I found this adorable peacock fabric from by Dena Designs / Free Spirit, called Peacocks.  It was so cute, I had to have it. 

On to the sewing - it was a super simple way to make a curtain. First I hemmed the sides and the bottom by folding over the fabric about a quarter of an inch twice to tuck the raw edge inside, fingering pressing and pinning it down.  Those hems took a quick trip through the machine.  To make it a little fancier than having a simple pocket for the tension rod, I made the pocket twice as large as what I needed for the rod and sewed an extra seam halfway between the hem and the top (folded) edge of the hemmed fabric.  This allows for a little gathered ruffle at the very top because the fabric is about twice as wide as the curtain rod.  Super easy and fairly quick.  I haven't sewed in ages, so it took a minute or two for me to get back in the groove, but its just like riding a bike - you remember what to do in no time flat! 

I just love it!  One reason I wanted to add a curtain is because I'm renting the house and I don't want to put too many holes in the place.  Adding a curtain on a tension rod is an easy way of personalizing the space in a temporary way.  The other reason is that when the light is on in my bathroom at night, there is a flood of light that shines out into my neighbor's yard.  It just seemed too bright to me, and I felt like I wanted a little more privacy than the window film provides.  It felt like I was announcing to the world that I was in the bathroom.  Yick! 

So now I have a personalized perky peacock spa bathroom where I am totally comfortable.  I was so tickled to see it this morning - it started my day off just great!

Check out the buffet of creativity at the blogs where I linked up
Beyond The Picket Fence

The Girl Creative

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bobbin lesson: All bobbins are not created equal

I took my sewing machine into the Singer Sewing Repair Center yesterday for some help on my thread-gets-caught-up-on-the-bobbin issue.  There are sewing machine repair places that are closer, but I figured with my luck I'd end up with some wacky, rare problem that only a Singer person could fix and decided it was better to take her to a dedicated professional.  A 45 minute drive later, it turns out that it was an easy fix.  I was using the wrong bobbin size. 

Did you know that there are different bobbin sizes?  There are!  My Singer came with some clear plastic bobbins and I loaded them up with various colors for specific projects.  When I needed more I just bought a package of metal ones, and wound a white one first.  I needed white for the bathroom curtain that I wanted to hem last week, so I popped in the metal bobbin with the white thread.  Its too tall!  The lovely ladies at the Singer Center informed me that my machine will only use Class 66 bobbins.

So the next time you go to buy bobbins, make sure you know what size fits in your machine.  All bobbins are not created equal!  You probably knew this already. I probably would have known this if I read the manual a little more carefully. 

So I got some Class 66 bobbins and made my way home, with dreams of sewing through the night.  Then my niece called and invited me over to watch the new Tinkerbell dvd and who could resist that?  The sewing has been postponed until this evening.  (And its a great movie! Tinkerbell is the cutest.)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Re-thread is the old re-boot

Its been a busy week for me between work and my niece having surgery on Thursday.  My plan was to spend a little time sewing before work this morning and I got all set up with the machine in its new home in the sunroom.  Its a simple Singer machine and I call her "little bird" since she's well, a Singer.  (I crack myself up.)  I haven't used her in probably 3 or 4 years so I needed to refamiliarize myself with everything.  Put the spool on and got the thread all threaded properly.  Found a white bobbin and loaded it.  I had a little trouble bringing up the bobbin thread so I took that part of the machine apart and blew some air in to get the dust out.  My project was going to be hemming a simple curtain for the bathroom window, and I had the brilliant idea of doing a test patch of sewing before I put the good fabric in.  I am so relieved I did, because the bobbin thread got all wound around itself and there are loops on the backside of the fabric and the whole thing is a big ole mess. 

I checked the manual and of course it says to re-thread the machine and try again.  Apparently re-threading the machine is the equivalent of re-booting one's computer.  I am not amused.  The manual suggests that the tension isn't right, but I don't think I've ever touched the tension so that doesn't seem to be the answer.  I suppose something may have happened during the move, but I made sure she came in a car instead of the moving truck because I wanted her to have an easy ride.  900 miles in the car is alot of jiggling and jostling.  So anyhow,

I rethreaded and the same darn thing happened. 

I checked Singer's website for troubleshooting help.  It said to rethread the machine.

I rethreaded and the same darn thing happened.

So I left my little patch there and I'm going to have to take it in somewhere.  I am very sad.  If anyone happens to have any ideas for me between now and Tuesday morning please feel free to pass them on.  Tuesday is my day off, so the little bird and I will be taking a ride to the sewing machine doctor.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The pot of gold at the end of the Rainbow

I finally got into the local quilt shop here and boy, oh boy am I in trouble!  Its called Rainbow's End Quilt Shoppe and one of the workers said its the largest quilt shop in Florida. I don't doubt it!  They have row after row of gorgeous, yummy fabrics in quilting cottons and home dec and flannels too.  The Amy Butler stuff is right inside the front door which of course was totally drool worthy.  But, I had a specific mission so I did a full lap of the shop and then made my selections.  They have a ton of cute Halloween fabrics, and you should see the room full of Christmas fabrics!  They have everything I've seen on the web - tons of lines from Moda and Michael Miller.  I can't wait to go back!  I really want to score some of the Snow Flower Collection by Dena Fishbein, but without a specific project in mind, I didn't think I should indulge just yet.

The camera is still incommunicado with the computer so you'll have to see stock photos of what I got.  I was looking for something to do a ruffle on the bottom of the sun room sheers and I wanted pink, pale blue or aqua and pale green of some sort.  I am normally all about the cabbage roses and sort of shabby chic patterns, but I wanted to bring my decor into the 21st century so I was aiming for a more modern pattern.  I ended up with a Moda fabric from their Swanky line and it's gonna make a cute border I think.  There are 4 full bands of the pattern in the width.  Very cool.  I'm gonna use it upside down so that the pale is on top.  This is not as bright as what I saw in my head for the ruffle on those sheers, but I think it'll look pretty cool.

Then I found this great fabric in the clearance section - its from the Floragraphix II collection from In the Begininng.  Too awesome.  I bought all they had left (just under 2 yards, but it was fun to say "I'll take it all!")  I have no clue what I'll do with it, but I think it may go to my shop.  My new logo has teal in it, and this might look nice as a backdrop for the french door to the stockroom, or maybe a table skirt?  It doesn't have dragonflies, but its pretty darn cool.  (The shop is called Dragonfly Garden, in case you didn't know.)

Then I got a couple fat quarters of Leaf Trellis by Lila Tueller, also for Moda.  I just love Moda.  No clue what I'm doing with this either, but I'm really liking the color combo so I might look for more.

A couple other fat quarters made it into the pile, but I don't know where they come from.  I'll have to share pictures later when I can get them uploaded.  There was definitely a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for me there today & I can't wait to go back.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Fabric Stash

Work has kept me away from personal tasks all week, but I have been able to take some time today to get some small projects started around the house.  Last week I purchased two of those marvelous magnetic curtain rods to use on the french doors in the sun room and I put them up today with bright white voile sheers.  My old house had all cream trim but this house is all bright white so I'm working on new window treatments.  The sheers are just about an inch too short, so I thought the best thing for me to do was unpack the quilting stash to see if there is any cute fabric that I could use to create a ruffle at the bottom of the sheers to extend them a bit and add some character.

What is even better than stashing craft supplies is when you rediscover your stash after you've been away from it for a while.  You get to appreciate all that loveliness without spending a penny, and you see even more possibilities than the first time around.  About 3 years ago, I packed up the bulk of my fabric and put it in storage.  Today I got to see it all again when I unpacked the boxes and filled up my quilting cabinet.  There's a ton of home dec fabrics too, but I saved those for another day and another cabinet.

Fat quarters and yardage and strips and scraps, oh my!  Pardon the lousy photo - I can't find my cord for my camera and I keep forgetting to order a new one.

How do you store your fabric?  I have a nifty fat quarter pile - these are mostly simple prints that I bought on eBay when I first started building my stash.  Then I have a lovely pile of yardage that is just organized by color and finally there is a pile that contains collections that I want to keep together.  One photo box has squares and the other has scraps and strips.  I am kind of surprised it seems so small when I see it here.  Not shown are a couple of plastic sweater boxes that contain coordinating yardage to do specific quilts and I want to keep those items stored together.  I have one sad box that contains a lovely hunk of blue and yellow and white teapots that I was going to make into a lap quilt for my mom but I never started it.  Now that she's gone, I might make it for my sister instead or I might make it and donate it somewhere.  I really wish I'd done it for her so she could have been wrapped in love from me.  It made me very sad to unpack that fabric today and I hate to have regrets.

Most of my fabric stash has not been washed.  Do you wash yours as it comes in, or as you prepare to start a project?  I guess I'm just being lazy by not washing it right away.  My other concern at the moment is that none of this fabric is what I was hoping to find to improve the length of my sheers!  I wanted something in pink and aqua and pale green, or at least two of those colors and I need more than a fat quarter.  I may just have to break down and visit the local quilting shop tomorrow - it's important to support local businesses right?  ;)

Hope you enjoyed the small view into my stash.  I keep opening the cabinet door to look - its inspiring to see it all again after so long!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Treasure Tuesdays

I've decided to start a new feature called Treasure Tuesday where I post a little treasure that's new (or new to me) or even a collection of treasures with a theme.

This precious little pitcher came from TJMaxx this week and it falls under my new appreciation of what I think of as modern vintage. Looks like an antique but it's clean and new, and had the bargain price of $2 and that wasn't even a markdown.  Its not exactly a toile, but it has sweet rose blossoms on a busy background.  Its fluted too, and just look at that handle!  In Ireland, I think it would be called a jug.

I can't quite decide if it's blue or purple, but after I put the purple scarf-in-progress near it, I'm thinking purple. I might use it for straight knitting needles or keep it clean and pristine for milk, syrup or something else from the kitchen.  It's a treasure!

I'm going to try hosting a linky party.  Please post a link to a specific post on your blog that is all about a treasure or a collection of treasures.  Posting a link back to my blog would be great too.  I'll have a button soon!

Friday, September 3, 2010

FO Friday

A finished object! I started this great scarf last fall in case the Redskins football game was cold. That weekend ended up being gorgeous so I wasn't in any hurry to finish. Then I misplaced the pattern and messed up so I had to rip it back a bit. I know, 'excuses, excuses!'  I just finished it because I needed the needles for another project.

     Pattern:  Misti Chunky Ribs & Ruffles from Misti International
     Yarn: Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick in Claret (I used about a skein and a quarter)
     Needles:  US size 11

It's a really easy pattern to memorize, and a good way to learn how easy it is to make ruffles by simply doubling the stitches. I think this scarf packs a big punch with just a little effort.  Once you're past the ruffle, its only 15 stitches per row, so it goes quickly. 

And here's a little memento from the game last fall!  I'm on the right in my Bruce Smith jersey (Bruuuuuuuce) and my friend Katrina is sporting her burgundy & gold feather boa.  She is a very girly-girl and not the type you'd expect to have fun at a football game, but she knows almost as much about football as I do!  And that's saying alot for a woman. 

Now that I'm in Tampa, I suppose I'll need to do pewter and red instead of burgundy & gold. I think the scarf may end up going to charity!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Work in Progress: The Craft Room

I've gotten alot of work done in the little sunroom at the front of the house.  I've decided it will be a craft room / studio space since it is so sunny and light.  French doors on one side face the neighbor's pool, and windows on the other side look out into my little courtyard.  I think if I place a chair in the right spot, I'll be able to sit and knit while watching birds at the birdfeeder and that thought makes me very happy.  There may be cafe rods at the center of these windows the next time you see them though.  When this room is lit at night there is not alot of privacy.  The french doors on the other side of the room are definitely getting sheers, but I haven't quite decided about these windows yet.  And don't mind the box of empty boxes in the forefront of the shot, but it does show that I've gotten some work done!

This week I got all the yarn loaded into the knitting cupboard which is pretty exciting, although the books and notebooks of patterns don't fit.  I think I have a plan to solve that problem although it requires some work in my master bedroom.  I did get alot of the boxes that were in this room unpacked and that feels good.  The knitting cabinet used to be full of canvas bins with yarn organized by weight, but since the stash has gotten somewhat larger in the past few months, I decided to do the mounding technique that alot of knitters use.  I never thought the shelf would be this full!

Sorry for the photo quality - clearly I need to use a tripod!  This shelf doesn't even include cottons, acrylics, crochet thread, 2 chenille cones, or my tiny fiber stash for spinning.  You can definitely fit more in by not using bins or containers though, so I've learned an important lesson.  I've also learned I need to put a moratorium on yarn purchases!  The next big decision is seating.  For a no-cost solution, I have an old black wicker chair in this room now and it needs a cushion.  I'm thinking of using Heather Bailey's Peonies from the Pop Garden collection, since this room is where alot of HotPinkPeonies crafty-ness will occur.  And the green background to this fabric looks nice with the already green walls.  A pillow in this would also look nice if I decide to paint the chair white or, saints preserve us, hot pink!

My other option are two brown garden chairs that I got at Target this spring when most of my furniture was still in Virginia.  They are not necessarily all that comfy for long term sitting, but it would make a cute conversational area against this wall.  My option for pillows for these chairs is a Michael Miller fabric from the Lagoon line called Bird Swing.  It has a brown background, so it looks great with these chairs.  A big shout out to Material Gal on Etsy - her prices are great and the selection is even better!  I got both these fabrics from her.

Decisions, decisions.  I'm leaning towards the black wicker with the hot pink peonies fabric.  I mean really, who are we kidding?  What do you think about these two choices?