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! 🙂

General Sewing

Don’t panic and always carry a towel

Towel Day is still a few weeks away, but if you’re looking for a more travel-friendly option that hooks conveniently onto belt loops, backpack straps, etc., I’ve got your back. I’ve talked about making this kind of hanging hand towel before, but this time I have a step-by-step guide to walk you through the process, if you’re feeling crafty and want to try it yourself.

I started by cutting out my “topper” from my fabric of choice. I came up with (using that term very loosely) the pattern by tracing around an existing towel-top I already had.

As with most sewing projects, you want to start with your right sides together before sewing your seam. The wide (bottom) part gets left open, but you’ll sew up one side, around the peak, and down the other side.

To make it easier and less bulky when it’s time to turn these right side out, I snipped off the very tip of my point. You could also trim the seam allowance all the way around if you’re concerned, but I’ve never had a problem with it.

Et voilà! These will need to be ironed to make those edges nice and crisp. While you’re at it, fold the raw edge to the inside slightly and press it into place, too (probably 1 cm or so – just enough that you’ll be able to catch the edges when you sew it all together. I just eyeball it, because it’s pretty hard to screw these up. If these are going to be hanging as a set, you might want to work on them side-by-side to ensure you’re shortening them by the same amount).

On to the towel part! Normally, I take a single hand towel and cut it in half, but I couldn’t find a hand towel in the colour I wanted, so I opted for two facecloths instead. They’re a bit shorter side-to-side than a hand towel half would be, but work well. (Not pictured: me hacking off the thick hem at the edge that’s going to go inside my topper, because no way was my sewing machine going to get through all that.)

Fold your towel (facecloth) into thirds-ish so that it looks like it will fit inside the opening of your topper. A hand towel half would have had more overlap in the middle. Clearly, I tried to test-fit this before realizing I’d need to get rid of the one hem.

Hey, look, it fits! There’s just a little bit of extra space at the end of my topper, and that’s OK. If you’ve got more than just a little bit, try tugging on your folds gently to make your towel fill the space better. Because these were going to be hanging up as a set, I used the lines on my towel to gauge how much I had inside the topper and how much would hang down, and tried to keep both towels even. If you’re making a single one, go crazy! Well, within reason. I probably had about 2 or 3 cm of my towel up inside the topper to make sure it all got sewn together and there was no risk of it tearing out if someone were to give it a good yank. This is probably a good time to mention that if you like one side of your topper better than the other – maybe it’s got a cooler pattern placement or whatnot – figure that out now, and make that your front. I’m pretty equal-opportunity about my veggies, so however I grabbed it is how it got positioned.

Good choice making that the front, WittyChild! So many pretty colours… I sewed close enough to the folded edge of my topper that I wouldn’t have a big ol’ fabric flap flapping around and flipping up on me, but far enough away from the folded edge that both the front and back got “caught”, and I didn’t have that delightful experience of the front looking fiiiiiine while the back had a big gap where the fabric didn’t get sewn to the towel (or vice versa). If you folded up your raw edge evenly back when you were ironing all the things, you’ll be thanking yourself now. I don’t pin this into place before I start sewing; I just take it slow. Fine, I did try pinning the towel not pictured above, and broke a sewing machine needle when it hit one of the pins. There’s something to be said for my lazy-girl approach.

It’s time to add your buttons! I was so excited when I found these perfect orange specimens in my stash, but now think that I might have bought them with this project in mind and forgotten about them. Still! I knew I wanted my buttonhole to be near the point to allow maximum folding-over capability in case I found myself with a particularly chunky cupboard door handle at some point, and so I positioned my button where I wanted that buttonhole and then used a marking pencil (sewing pencil? Tailor’s pencil?) to mark where the top and bottom of the button are to determine how long the buttonhole needs to be.

Of course, if I had been just a little less excited about the buttons’ shiny orange-ness, I might have noticed that the card they came on had a handy measuring guide. Spoiler alert: my folksy home-remedy way of sizing worked perfectly here, too, since my buttons weren’t thick or irregularly-shaped.

It’s weird to think that buttonholes are just a series of glorified zig-zag stitches. If you don’t have a buttonhole function on your sewing machine or simply hate adding them to projects (I myself loathe sewing buttons on, but love making buttonholes. Somewhere, my sewing soul mate is out there, the one who hates the buttonhole function but loves sewing those suckers on), you could always use what the fabric store cheerfully calls “hook and loop tape”, but be it known that this stuff will eventually lose its grippy power and cause your towels to fall to the floor at the slightest provocation, such as staring at them too intently, and that’s just impractical and a little unsanitary.

Oh my stars and garters, cutting the buttonhole open once you’ve sewn it is the single most satisfying part of this whole project. It almost makes sewing on the buttons worth it.

After folding my point down to about where I’d want it, I used that marking pencil through the buttonhole to mark where my button is going to sit.

I might not like sewing them on, but I am endlessly pleased by the fact that the thread matches so well.

And there they are, ready to decorate, cheer, and dry! I keep both of them on door/drawer handles close to the kitchen sink for easy access when I need one, but they also work well on oven doors, dishwasher handles…

Thanks for looking! 🙂

craftmas, General Sewing

On the third day of Craftmas…

…my true love gave to me: a gift that’s very “hand”-y!

When I was little, my grandmother used to cut decorative hand towels in half and then crochet a topper on each half, complete with a loop for hanging. When she had a good stash built up, she’d bring them out at a family gathering and let us pick which one(s) we wanted. These were a serious staple of my childhood, and I can’t imagine a kitchen without one.

My own crochet skills are not as sophisticated as hers were, sadly, but when I saw this glorious fabric:

…I had the perfect plan for it.

I took a towel I had bought somewhere else (charity fundraiser?) and traced around its fabric topper to draft a pattern for myself. I found some plain red towels at the store that matched the red lettering pretty much perfectly. I cut each towel in half (width-wise, not lengthwise), folded each half in approximate thirds (lengthwise, not width-wise) to fit into the topper. Once they were fit in, I sewed the topper shut, et voilà.

The first time I tried making towels like this, I attached some Velcro unbranded hook-and-loop tape to make it easy to hang the towel from an oven handle or whatnot. Unfortunately, after repeated washings, the Velcro-like product lost its “stick” and the towel would fall to the floor at the slightest provocation, like some sort of kitchen-linen fainting goat.

Sooo…I worked through my dislike of sewing buttons and sewed on buttons. It honestly wasn’t as painful as I remember, and now these towels aren’t going anywhere until you decide they are.

My mom has laid claim to two of them; the rest will be tucked into various Christmas gifts as a fun little bonus. In fact, one has found its way to its new home already:

I want a dishwasher handle like that!

Thanks for looking! 🙂

Cross-stitch and Embroidery, Other Crafts

She’s still preoccupied with 19…19…1985

Nostalgia makes everything better, doesn’t it? Food is tastier, music is better…all because of the memories associated with it.

When the “I Love the 80s” swap showed up on Craftster, I was so, so in. The cartoons! The neon colours! I think that was probably the first generation of kids that was marketed to hardcore by businesses, and it showed in the Pinterest rabbit hole I found myself falling down. I think I could have made a career (if a low-paying one) out of curating just the right Popples and Strawberry Shortcake pins.

Apparently not many people feel that way, because when sign-ups closed, there were only three of us signed up. We did a round-robin swap, which sounds more family-friendly than “three-way” – Person A sent to Person B, Person B sent to Person C, and Person C sent to Person A. It was a three-point swap, which meant that your swap package should take three or more hours to craft or cost $30 or more in supplies.

I found a truly outrageous pattern to stitch up:

I found neon craft acrylics to paint the hoop, too. Between the colours and the sparkly aida fabric, it popped. But it felt kind of underwhelming on its own (despite meeting the 3-hour mark), so I made a felt-appliqué My Little Pony to go with it.

Luckily, the same purple paint complemented Glory’s mane and tail perfectly.

I felt pretty good about my package, but hoo boy, did my partner ever spoil me!

A mug rug! The 80s-est (it’s a word now) notecards ever! Even a Caboodles! But the Lisa Frank shrine really shone, and needs a little love of its own.

I was seriously blown away by her generosity, and quite frankly by the utter perfection of her choices. It seemed like if it was on my swap questionnaire, it found its way into my package. I thanked her profusely, of course, but couldn’t let that be the end, so I felt-appliquéd a hoop for her, too.

What else do you send someone who brought such cheer to your day but Cheer Bear? All right, and some chocolate, too. (By the way: that purple door in the background isn’t long for this world. Pretty soon you’ll be seeing a different backdrop for hanging crafts.)

This all culminated in mutual goodwill, and I was a little sad to see it all over – this was probably the most fun I had ever had in a swap, playing with the colours and characters. As it turned out, one of the Craftster members hadn’t been able to take part in the official swap, and so with a brief private-message exchange, we were able to work out details of a private swap.

My new partner was a collector of My Little Pony as well, and in the course of our exchange, I quickly hit on exactly what I had to make for her.

Gusty!

And Medley! (I’ve also seen it spelled “Melody”, and if someone knows which is right, let me know.) Gaah, the detailing on her wings stressed me out. I kept worrying the definition wouldn’t come through.

I still wanted to include something else with them – I might be a lot of things, but I’m no one-trick pony (ha!). While Googling the Wuzzles at work one day, I discovered just what an amazing collection of vocal talent that show had. Bill Scott (you might know him as Bullwinkle J. Moose, Dudley Do-Right, Mr. Peabody…) was on it, but – and this is what did it for me – so were Henry Gibson and Joanne Worley. I had never heard of them, or of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, as a kid, but present-day Witty Child just about fell out of her chair.

But how to immortalize their characters? More felt appliqué? Nah. Embroidery would be nice, but I’d want to do a fill stitch of some sort to capture the colours better than an outline alone could do, and I didn’t have the time for that. And for the first time ever, Michaels provided me with something useful, in the form of fabric markers.

The markers gave me the colours I was looking for, and worked really well on the tea towels I used. They even held up after being washed, and I can’t imagine how many hours and needle-induced callouses they saved me.

It seems that my partner and I were kind of on the same wavelength, because I got home one day after work to find these waiting for me:

Felt-appliquéd My Little Ponies! Cotton Candy will always be #1 in my books. And Lisa Frank kittens! That neon yellow on both of them (fleece for the ponies, and embroidery floss for the kitten) positively draws the eye. Who am I kidding, I can’t stop looking at either one of them.

80s-themed crafting: can’t stop, won’t stop.

Thanks for looking! 🙂

General Sewing, Other Crafts

Cleanliness is next to…patriotism?

I’ve always been drawn to those nifty kitchen towels with the crocheted tops that allow one to hang them from a handy hook on a kitchen cabinet or drawer pull – I think it’s because my grandmother used to make them, and we always had one around the house.  The only problem was that up until recently, I didn’t know how to crochet (this has since been remedied); discovering that you can sew a fabric topper pretty much opened up a whole new crafty avenue to me.

I had the perfect fabric in my stash: a cool, sparkly American flag-patterned cotton that’s a bit bold in large doses but adds just the right dose of flair to an otherwise utilitarian object.

Hanging in the backyard:

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I’ve put these for sale in my Etsy shop – I think they’d make a lovely hostess gift with the summer party/barbeque season heating up.

Thanks for looking! 🙂

craftmas, Cross-stitch and Embroidery

[Insert bad Jerry Lewis impression here]

(Typical Millennial: “Jerry who?”  Just Youtube “jerry lewis typewriter”, kids.)

It all started like this: my friend Jeanette is a writer by trade – and yes, I am terribly jealous – and has a writerly affinity for typewriters.  As the weather turned cooler and one could utter the word “Christmas” without being pelted by tomatoes, I started searching about for a suitable gift.  I had two criteria: it shouldn’t be too grand, so as to not embarrass the recipient or strain my budget; and it should be easily and inexpensively shipped internationally.

My first thought had been a Christmas ornament of some sort, but a quick search revealed that most available were either overpriced or underwhelming, or both.  Also, while a hard clay ornament might have been okay to ship internationally had an appropriate one been found, the thought of a blown glass one made me nervous.  I did see a cute necklace online, but that seemed just a little personal.  Could I make something instead?

Thank heavens for Urban Threads.  I found a simple hand embroidery pattern on their site, and a charcoal-gray tea towel in my stash.  And all households need at least one hand-embroidered kitchen linen, right?

typetowel

The picture makes the towel look lighter than it really is.  I chose the colours I did to really pop against the gray, with just a hint of silver metallic on what I believe are called the typebars, plus the little doohickey on the right hand side.  It came out looking really great, but my stars, the 39 little keys just about killed me!  Also, for any embroiderers or aspiring embroiderers out there: watch the surface you choose.  This particular towel has ribbing (or cabling?), and although it adds to the tactile appeal, those darned keys came out a little wobbly looking if they happened to fall on a cable.

And now, for a little comic relief:

Other Crafts

And don’t get me started on bad spelling…

Hidely-ho, grammarinos!

For the past few years, National Grammar Day has come and gone without my even noticing.  This had to stop!  I’m a huge grammar geek, and knew that this year I would have to do something to commemorate this holiest of holidays.  On Sunday, I took a break from my math lab (more scholarly and less financially productive than a meth lab, for what it’s worth), and came up with this:

bad grammar towel

The wording is hardly original, but I try not to let that bother me.  I typed the text out in Word, then traced it onto my towel and went over the words with Aunt Martha’s ball-point paints.

Now I just need another grammar quote so that I can make a partner for this one…

craftmas, Cross-stitch and Embroidery

Christmas Presents Ahoy!

Happy New Year!  I could offer the standard excuses for not updating sooner (I spent the entirety of November pounding out a novel!  I stitched my little fingers to the bone!  I got abducted by a herd of rogue Simmentals!), but instead, I think I’ll just show off all the stitchy Christmas presents I managed to finish.

For my friend Rachael in Eng-er-land, some easy-to-stitch, easy-to-ship Animated Kitchenware tea-towels:

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There they are, posing sweetly on my oven door.

Avon lady and dear soul Heather got a small Margaret Sherry design:

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I was so happy to have an excuse to use my opalescent aida cloth!

My parents each got a custom shirt from me.  My dad used to work for the railroad and is still very much into trains, so I made him a Chessie shirt using a pattern that I found online:

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It was stitched onto the pocket of a denim shirt using waste canvas…I do like the colours!

My mom collects all things hedgehog, so I used the Sublime Stitching Forest Friends pattern to come up with this:

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It’s just a plain blue t-shirt from Michael’s, but sufficiently jazzed up now.  Also, Sublime Stitching’s T-shirt Stabilizer is a godsend!

Last but not least, this Subversive Cross Stitch pattern (I tweaked the colours and omitted the border) seemed just too perfect for coworker and co-conspirator Sue.  It’s now sitting on her desk, spreading sunshine and lollipops to all who venture past.

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Thanks for looking; as always, if you have any further questions, please feel free to leave a comment!

Cross-stitch and Embroidery

Naughty or Nice?

I do apologize for the long-time-no-posts….I’m going to blame work for this one, but I’m hoping to be posting a lot more soon, what with the holidays rapidly approaching.  At any rate, on with the crafty goodness, yes?

I had purchased the Lisa Petrucci designs from www.sublimestitching.com some time ago, though I hadn’t yet committed them to fabric.  Then my friend Dan got her own place, and decided to go and have a birthday shortly thereafter (inasmuch as one’s birthday can be determined by free will, of course :P), and somehow, a set of hand-embroidered tea towels seemed like the perfect housewarming/b-day pressie.  Especially when they’re this cool.  I particularly like the devil – clearly, being bad is more fun than being good!

Hanging side-by-side on the oven door:

And close-ups:

And now, of course, I want to do the devil again…for myself!