craftmas, General Sewing, Other Crafts

On the first day of Craftmas…

My true love gave to me: a calendar to count down daily!

Back in the summer sometime, in the course of scrolling through Etsy, I came across a panel of 24 mini-stockings meant to be made into an advent calendar. Did I need it? No. But also maybe yes. In either case, it was delivered to me in short order. If you’re curious and/or want to try this at home, kids, it’s the “Merry Christmas Mini Stocking Advent” by Makower.

The instructions included were pretty straightforward: lay your stocking panel wrong-sides-together on top of whatever fabric you want for your stocking backs, pin and cut.

Of course, I had help.

Once they were all cut out…

…I could pin each front-back pair and sew them together.

It’s funny how much smaller they are once they’re turned right side out! From here, the instructions cheerfully directed me to press the top edge under 1/4″ and stitch close to the edge, then cut ribbon into 6″ length and fold in half and stitch the ends to the inside edge to create hanging loops. There was no way those tiny little things were going to fit around the needle plate on my machine, and I wasn’t about to hand-sew a hem. Instead, while they were inside out, I pressed that top edge the recommended 1/4″, and then turned them right side out and pressed everything – including the top edge. It still created a neat finish, and I can always sew them later if I change my mind.

Rather than deal with making ribbon loops, I decided to attach them to their display rope (that’s a very technical term) using mini clothespins. Thankfully, both the clothespins and the Command Hooks supported the weight of the chocolates I had tucked inside.

I really like that each stocking’s design is oh-so-slightly different. Even the ones that look the same have small differences!

After the day’s chocolates have been, um, dispensed with, the stocking gets re-attached, toe-up, to keep the wall from looking empty as the 24th draws closer. I’m looking forward to turning this into a yearly tradition, where the only decision is what kind of treats to fill them with.

Thanks for looking! πŸ™‚

Other Crafts

Baby got cake!

I hate painting. It’s not the actual act of painting I dislike, but all of the trappings that come with it: the prep work, the masking, the moving of things, and the inevitable chaos that descends with the furniture/appliances pushed to the middle of the room and all the things you would normally use on a daily basis shifted somewhere else or packed into boxes. Compared to that, the painting part is a breeze.

I thought a newly painted kitchen could use some sort of kitchenwarming (paintwarming?) flair (since you can’t gift yourself), and found the perfect match in heat-transfer vinyl.

Because I’m a clever, clever individual, I forgot to take a picture before I unwrapped it, and did not quite manage to hold the label flush to the roll. I’m not sponsored by Siser, by the way; I just really like how easy their Easyweed actually is.

I found a couple of fun designs on the Silhouette design store, and started cutting!

Are they “sister designs”? Nope. Do I love them? Yes! I sing modified versions of “Baby Got Back” to the cat all the time, so this is beyond appropriate. The tea towels I used were some that I found in my crafty stash, so this was a great way to use them instead of waiting for the perfect project to come along…or maybe this was the perfect project?

And they certainly turned out to be a perfect match for the paint! I can’t say that I’m eager to start cooking again (painting the kitchen is a great excuse to not cook), but at least I can admire my handiwork while I do it.

Thanks for looking! πŸ™‚

Other Crafts

Easter greetings that are quick like a…well, you know

I’ve gotten myself hooked up with a few different snail-mail groups over the last several years. Who doesn’t like getting a bit of mail that’s not a bill or a solicitation for money? I wanted to make a few notecards to send out in anticipation of Easter, but I’m not the single most artistic person out there (read: I can’t draw or paint).

Last year, when I was still essentially scared of playing around with the Silhouette Cameo cutting machine, I had downloaded a file of three bunnies shaped like…well, like those marshmallow candies that are everywhere at this time of year, and with the wording “Hanging With My Peeps”. My friend and I cut out a few repeats of the pattern out of heat-transfer vinyl and made tea towels. I thought about using the file again, but didn’t want to mess around with getting the lettering on straight. Mind you, the bunnies were cute on their own…

I wound up cutting out six sets of the three bunnies. When I resized the file so that they’d fit on the blank notecards I bought, I discovered they’d fit perfectly on sheets of this glittery cardstock I’ve had for probably the last 15 years. I bought it because it was sparkly and pretty, and then had no idea what to do with it. Also, that much pattern can be a bit much in one big chunk, but in smaller shapes? It works!

Once they were all cut out, I took the plunge and started shuffling them around to see how any three given patterns looked side-by-side-by-side. I have a hard time with being random, and this takes every ounce of self-uncontrol that I have in me.

Once I was satisfied with my groupings, I glued them down on my card blanks:

I elected to colour in their eyes and noses just to give them a bit of definition.

And there we have it: quick, simple Easter cards!

I did use a cutting machine for my bunnies, but I think this could be achieved with a bit of patient tracing and cutting with scissors…although if I were doing that I’d probably not bother trying to neatly cut eyes and noses. I used a plain UHU glue stick to affix them, nothing fancy. And they were a great way to use up smallish pieces of paper that might not have gotten used otherwise.

Thanks for looking! πŸ™‚

Other Crafts

It’s not always silent

Happy National Grammar Day! If you’ve been reading me for a while, you likely know I have a bit of a fixation on grammar. And spelling. And language. Nothing aggrieves me more than getting a mass email at work from “You’re Social Committee”.

I’ve marked this occasion (I’m loath to call it a holiday) in the past by flying my language-freak flag with a tea towel, and one fun if amateurish t-shirt. I shouldn’t be so hard on the shirt, actually. Despite its clearly homemade vibe, it doubles as a nod to The Simpsons and still makes me laugh. A few weeks ago, I found the perfect design to try my hand at another shirt, and kept my fingers crossed that the execution would work as well as the idea.

I started out with a plain maroon t-shirt from Michaels, and some silvery heat transfer vinyl, and got the design ready to cut on my Silhouette cutting machine. (A note: this picture is the most accurate representation of the shirt’s colour. Don’t ask me what happened in the later pictures.)

This is the back side of my cut. See the outlines of the letters?

A confession: it took me two tries to get this cut out properly. When I initially adjusted my cut settings for “heat transfer vinyl, metallic”, it cut straight through the vinyl and the plastic carrier sheet. When I adjusted them to “heat transfer vinyl, smooth”, it didn’t cut quite all the way through the vinyl on the first pass, and I had to feed it back into the machine for a second go.

While I was weeding the excess vinyl from my design, I discovered that if I pulled/stretched it too much, it sprang back on itself like curly ribbon – you can see a little bit of that above. Between my cutting issues and weeding issues, I should have realized how finicky this stuff was going to be.

Did I mention that this metallic vinyl was finicky? After following the application instructions, I still found that parts of it really, really liked hanging on to the plastic carrier sheet and were reluctant to adhere to the shirt (although an extra taste of my heat press solved that). It’s a bit hard to see in this shot, but the serif on the bottom of the “r” in “your” positively refused to join the rest of the letter, and the serif on the bottom of “I” folded over upon itself. Finicky.

Although the instructions advise to wait 24 hours before laundering my newly festooned garment, and it’s been several times that, I’m still convinced this (finicky, finicky) stuff will all slide off the first time I wash it. But I have pictures now to prove that, however briefly, I had an almost-professional looking grammar shirt.

Thanks for looking! πŸ™‚

Other Crafts

I have all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile

Other subject lines that were considered for this post:

"I've got garlic in my soul."
Rejected because: As an individual of Ukrainian descent, of course I have garlic in my soul.  Heart, soul, genes - you name it, it's there.  If I still ate meat, I'd probably be working my way through a coil of kubasa from Tenderloin Meats as I type this.

"I wouldn't touch you with a thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot pole."
Rejected because: In these fourth-wave days of aerosolized droplets, this actually sounds like sound public-health advice.  Thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot poles: when two metres just isn't enough.

Back when Craftster still roamed the interwebs, one of the members posted a picture of this same scarf she had made for herself, along with a bit of a rant how, as soon as she posted it on social media, everybody and his brother dogpiled on her: “Can you make me one? I neeeeeed it!” Several duplicates later, she was sick of the yarn colours and didn’t want to see the darned thing again, when all she had originally wanted was something cute to wear to a holiday party.

My crochet skills at the time were pretty rudimentary and I wouldn’t have dared attempt this for myself back then, but I’ve gained a bit of confidence and really wanted to try it this year. I didn’t include it as a Craftmas post because a) this was for myself, and not a gift, and b) I didn’t have it finished by the 25th. But who cares? It’s still warm and cute!

It’s folded in half in the picture above – the bottom half (not seen) is solid red, and altogether it measures 138 cm in length. I didn’t take a lot of in-progress shots because it worked up fairly quickly and there wasn’t a lot to be said. It’s done in Corner-to-Corner (C2C) crochet, which means that instead of working in either horizontal or vertical rows (depending on your perspective), you work it on the diagonal.

Like this:

See how that one side is much longer than the other? There are lots of great tutorials for it online, so I won’t attempt to elaborate further except to say that if I can do it, anyone can. The way you work “squares” of stitches at 90-degree angles to one another makes for a lovely soft and squishy texture.

The eyes and nose are crocheted, too, and then sewn on, and the mouth was free-hand sewn on. I was going for his devious, plotting smirk.

(I promised my model anonymity in the form of decapitation.)

Even though Christmas is over, I’m still going to wear him until the weather warms up – hopefully he’s recognizable by the general public.

Thanks for looking – Happy New Year! πŸ™‚

craftmas, Other Crafts

On the third day of Craftmas…

…my true love gave to me: a sparkly bauble for the tree.

It happened like this: my friend was trying to think of something he could give his immediate team at work for Christmas that wasn’t just a three-pack of Lindt chocolate or something else that had been done before. I saw a tutorial to make glitter-filled ornaments, and that pretty much settled the matter. (Are you noticing a theme in this year’s Craftmas posts yet? Hint: it’s glitter! I swear that was unintentional.)

We started out with a container of 80mm disc ornaments from our friendly neighbourhood craft store and removed the cap from the top of each…

Mike McEwen’s Beijing dreams will go unfulfilled, sadly…

…poured a bit of Polycrylic (we had to venture a bit further afield for this; the big box store next to the friendly neighbourhood craft store charged twice as much for half the amount) into each one and swirled it around to coat, before inverting the ornaments in an egg carton to drain the last few drops out…

…and then went wild with glitter! We poured some into each Polycrylic-coated ornament using a funnel, and then shook/swirled it around to coat the entire inside before emptying the excess glitter back into its container.

We didn’t stop there, though. We used the cutting machine to cut everyone’s name out of permanent adhesive vinyl, plus “2021” for the back of each one and a few snowflakes for good measure, and then set to work personalizing each one.

Of course, we had to remove the excess vinyl (“weed”) first:

I made a couple for my neighbours, but he was a machine putting together the ones for his coworkers!

We even had a bit of pop-culture fun with these:

All in all, these were a really fun project to put together. We have almost an entire can of Polycrylic left over, so I suspect there will be more sparkle in the future.

Thanks for looking – Merry Christmas! πŸ™‚

craftmas, Other Crafts

On the first day of Craftmas…

…my true love gave to me: a card to spread greetings merry!

When my friend and I first made our foray into the world of cutting machines last year, we didn’t realize their full potential. I made a couple of Schitts Creek-themed masks using heat transfer vinyl (HTV), and we experimented with HTV on tea towels, but…how many vinyl-ed tea towels or whimsical pop culture masks does anyone really need? As such, the Silhouette sat largely untouched until I discovered that by upgrading my software to a paid (ahem!) version, I could open and cut SVG files rather than importing only PNG or Silhouette-formatted ones.

After making the haunted house box card and pumpkin banner for the Halloween Spooktacular Swap, I was feeling good about my paper-crafting abilities and scanned SVGcuts.com for something cute and Christmassy. I wasn’t disappointed.

I liked the elegance and (relative) simplicity of the Rooftops Box Card, and decided it was perfect to send to my aunt and uncle.

It creates such a neat effect with just four shades of cardstock.

A better angle to show the dimension (I used 3D foam squares to affix Santa’s sleigh):

And just for good measure, a close-up of the glittery snow I added before assembling:

There may or may not have been glitter all over everything, including my pants, by the time I was done.

I also decided to try my hand at North Pole Rudolph. This one was part of a larger set, and didn’t have an instructional video so I was left studying the product image carefully and trying to make mine look like hers. I think (?) I succeeded.

More glitter on this one, too, but what’s Christmas without at least a little bit of glitter? The designer had used a red adhesive gem for his nose, but I had mini pompoms, so that’s what I used. I hope it stays on until it arrives at its destination!

It’s a little hard to tell from the picture above, but this is a tri-fold card:

(The colours are truer in the first shot, but this proves that it can actually stand up.)

It just dawned on me that I didn’t take pictures of the back of either card, but be it known that I stamped a festive message on each one. They went out in the mail yesterday, so should be ready to spread good cheer in just a matter of days.

Thanks for looking! πŸ™‚

Cross-stitch and Embroidery, Other Crafts

Halloween in a box

After what felt like a lifetime away from swapping (it was, gentle reader, a little more than a year), I signed up for the Halloween Spooktacular Swap on Lettucecraft at the very last possible moment to turn their five-some into a sextet. My partner described her style in her questionnaire as vintage with a touch of gothic. The original parameters of the swap were for either one medium or two small items, but we agreed that an extra crafted item would be fine, too. With these guidelines, I pulled together a perfectly vintage-y, slightly goth-y Halloween package.

The very first thing I decided on was this vintage-inspired banner.

I cut out the pieces using my Silhouette machine, “aged” the pumpkins a bit, and then glued the works together. To add a bit of dimension, I used adhesive foam squares in between the pumpkins’ layers to make them pop.

A few close-ups:

One of her favourite Halloween themes listed on her questionnaire was “Sleepy Hollow”. Etsy came through for me, and offered up the perfect little pattern designed to fit a 4″ hoop.

But what to do for an extra crafty item? Maybe something like…

…run with her love of old-school movie monsters and alter an Altoids tin into a spooky tea bag tin (individually wrapped, of course, because we all know not to eat open Halloween treats).

It would have been weird to send a package without a note or card or something, right?

The haunted house card (and the banner!) came from SVG Cuts. This was the second time I’ve put one of their box cards together, and it was deceptively simple to make.

I added in some candy (of course) and a few little Halloween-y extras just for fun, and voila – Halloween in a box.

Thanks for looking – stay spooky! πŸ™‚

Other Crafts

I can see clearly now, Lorraine is gone…

I have a confession: I knew this blog turned the big 1-3 this year (how am I the parent of a teenager, however digital?), but got myself confused about the actual date, and thought for one brief, shining moment that this was its champagne birthday. It was not. For anyone hoping to witness that milestone, you’re stuck with me for another eight years.

As soon as I realized my error, I scrapped my foolish plan of turning on the oven in the ridiculously oppressive prairie heat just to make some sort of elaborate birthday cake. Instead, I thought I’d share some of the irreverent fun (“Not that much fun.” – Ed.) that I try to bring to the proverbial table.

For the uninitiated, a “mondegreen” is a misheard lyric. For example, the title of this post: Johnny Nash actually sang that he could see clearly now because the rain [was] gone. With my love for wordplay, it’s probably not surprising that I find these misinterpretations amusing, and have been known to deliberately sing the wrong words to songs even when I know better.

Although I’m not really a crafts-with-paper type, I had had the idea to create a series of Artist Trading Cards featuring various mondegreens, and I finally made it happen. I started by cutting cardstock into 2.5″ x 3.5″ pieces, then used some origami paper cut to size for my backgrounds. After that, I just had to type out my lyrics and find appropriate images. Because I wanted whoever wound up receiving these to know just what the heck I was getting at, I also wrote the correct lyric (plus title/artist) on the back of each card.

“You know how bad girls get.” – The Police, Don’t Stand So Close to Me
“Hold me closer, tiny dancer.” – Elton John, Tiny Dancer
“‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky.” – Jimi Hendrix, Purple Haze
“Breaking rocks in the hot sun.” – The Bobby Fuller Four, I Fought the Law
“Sont des mots qui vont trΓ¨s bien ensemble, trΓ¨s bien ensemble.” – The Beatles, Michelle

There we have it: art (or “art”) for art’s sake. I had no real plan for these, but I’ve sent a couple of them off to crafty pals who hopefully enjoy a side of pop culture with their papercraft.

Thanks for looking – and for sticking with me the last 13 years! πŸ™‚

Other Crafts

Don’t Go Breaking My Heart

Actually, in this case, you don’t need to! There’s a handy pull string to reduce your smashing by 100%.

I had seen these mini pinatas ages ago on the dearly departed Craftster, and saved the tutorial for myself despite being an asocial and unromantic weirdo. I managed to find the original tutorial using the Wayback Machine, but also took my own step-by-step pictures in case that ever ceases to be.

To start with, you’ll need to cut out two hearts from cardstock or posterboard. Mine are just a hair over 8″ across because I was using letter-sized cardstock, but you’re limited only by your imagination and raw materials. You’ll also need a “side strip/strips” whose width will dictate how deep your pinata is (and how much you can stuff inside it). I cut three 2.5″ wide x 11″ long strips from another sheet of cardstock, but only wound up using two of them.

Once I taped my two strips together, I could start attaching them to my first heart. I ran pieces of masking tape along one edge of my new double-long strip and then starting curving it along the edge of my heart and taping it down. Your edge will – nay, should – be shorter than the full circumference of your heart; that gap is where you’ll add your candy.

Here’s one spot where I deviated from the original tutorial: while I only had one heart attached to the edge, I poked a couple of holes in the edge and added a hanging loop, in case the recipient wants to display it.

Once I was satisfied a) with the size of my candy door, and b) that my hanging loop was secure and I wouldn’t need to access the inside of the pinata, I added my second heart and secured it to my edge with even more masking tape.

Now the raison d’Γͺtre: add your candy. If you want this to be hung/displayed for a while, you may want to be mindful of the weight of whatever you’re putting in.

Remember when I said I wouldn’t need to access the inside of the pinata anymore? I lied, kind of. Once the candy is in, you can cover the opening with a folded-up piece of tissue paper, but to add a pull string you’ll need to affix that to the inside of the pinata above the opening, then tape it to the underside of the tissue. It’s a bit fiddly, and if I do one of these again I might attach it before I add my second heart, just to save fumbling around after. Make that pull string good and long so that your recipient has something to grab onto!

And now…you get to decorate! This was less annoying than I thought it would be. The girl who wrote the original tutorial used shredder scissors to fringe her tissue paper, but I did it old-school with normal scissors, and managed to not completely cramp up my hand.

I decided to go for a quasi-ombrΓ© look, and overlapped rows of tissue to keep it looking full and fluffy.

Once I got the heart faces done, I cut short pieces of my fringed tissue to do the sides. I used your garden-variety glue stick for this, and it was shockingly neat: no gluey residue, and practically zero dry time.

Finally seeing the light of day! Once my tissue-papering was done, I made a little instructional tag for my pull string, just in case there were any doubts as to what to do.

This didn’t take me too long, overall – a couple of episodes of Lolita Podcast – but just long enough to serve as a good reason to not be polyamourous.

Thanks for looking…happy Valentine’s Day!