Friday, October 31, 2008

Like high school but without the acne

I’m not in general the best person in social situations. Small talk pretty much scares the hell out of me. It’s not my forte. I never know what to say, or I’m afraid whatever I do say is going to make me sound stupid. It stems from a pretty healthy fear of rejection I think. My close friends and my husband have great fun pointing out my social ineptness and therefore I’m trying to slowly but surely make more of an effort to overcome said deficiencies.

I figured that perhaps some sort of online chat situation would be a non-intimidating avenue to explore. Plus, I’m also eager to promote my Etsy shop and make more crafty connections and therefore the Etsy Chat seemed like the perfect thing to do. I boldly logged in and browsed the active chats. I chose a Vintage chat since I’m pretty keen on vintage stuff and with one click of my mouse I was in on the chat.

I had some problems initially with my pop up blocker not allowing me to see some of the stuff on screen. However, once I got that issue resolved I was greeted warmly and was prepared to chat!

It was awful! It was like high school all over again. There were inside jokes that I didn’t get, there was slang that I didn’t understand – I get LOL but there was BRB and PYT and TLC and R-E-S-P-E-C-T – okay, maybe that’s not exactly the acronyms used, but the point is that I didn’t know what the hell they were talking about half the time. I didn’t have any burning questions to ask these complete strangers, I didn’t see any threads of conversation that I felt I could add input to without coming off as a complete dork.

I finally just gave up and left. I felt embarrassed and exposed – like I’d just walked around the entire dance floor at prom and then realized that the back of my dress had been caught in the waist of my pantyhose. Terrible.

I think I just need some more experience. Maybe next time I’ll look for a chat room with only one desperate person in there waiting for someone to talk to. Of course then I’ll feel the pressure of being the only source of conversation.
Man, it sucks to be socially inept.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Intimidated – vintage quilt blocks

Years ago my grandmother gave me a large sack full of hand pieced – let me say that again – hand pieced – quilt blocks that she had found at a church bazaar or rummage type sale. Or perhaps someone gave them to her I can’t quite remember. Anyway, she gave them to me thinking that I could possibly use them in my crafts and I was excited to receive them because they truly are beautiful. I have nine patch blocks, appliqu├ęd sue bonnet blocks and meticulously cut and sewn honeycomb patchwork and they’re absolutely gorgeous!

However I’ve been so intimidated by them that they’ve sat in boxes under my desk for years just waiting for me to muster the nerve and inspiration to do something with them. Some of them, I’m sad to say are stained and badly disintegrated, but others are in excellent shape and they’re begging to be given new life.

I’m particularly fond of these honeycomb blocks. Whoever put these together took great care with the color palette and the placement of the fabric pattern within the block.

I’ve got a few ideas for these pieces rummaging around my head but it’s fairly intimidating. To me these items are precious and I’m afraid to waste them on any less than worthy project. However, I’ve been trying to tell myself that any use for them would be better than letting them rot away in a dark lonely box and I’m hoping this mindset will allow me the freedom to be creative with them.

So stay tuned and hopefully I’ll be able to show you some finished projects soon. Do any of you have any thoughts on possible projects for these pieces? Have you made something out of old quilt blocks that you’d like share?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cowl or double chin cozy? You decide

I recently finished my first ever knitted cowl project with the fabulous bargain yarn I purchased a few weeks ago.

I didn't really follow a pattern, I just pretty much knitted a short version of a scarf, made some buttonholes (which really was a big accomplishment for me since I'd never done buttonholes before) and Bob's Your Uncle, I have a cowl.

I absolutely love this yarn. It's a wool blend but not 100% wool. I felted it ever so slightly after knitting it just to tighten it up a little since I made it a little too large. I kind of half expected it to be a little itchy but it's really not.

I think it looks quite nice actually and nothing like a double chin cozy as I had feared. On a separate note, it's really no fun taking pictures of yourself. I mean first of all you can never get the right angle. My nose really isn't as large as it appears in the following picture and I'm really popping my eyes open here because the previous 10 shots I'd taken made me look like Courtney Love before rehab - or even after rehab really - is there a difference?

Look below, do you see the seemingly half asleep/half conscious eye situation going on? And this is one of the better shots. I think I was squinting to see the camera. You see I had an elaborate set up which involved a mirror in front of me so that I could see the reflection of the camera's viewing screen so that I could try to frame myself in the shot. And man, maybe my nose is that big?!

Anyway, sorry I got off track. I still have a little yarn left which I think will be enough to make a skinny little scarf for my soon to be 2 yr. old baby girl. Plus I have two skeins of the pink/rose colored yarn that is destined to be another cowl. I think I might try a more textural tube-like cowl for that one.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Altering hand me downs - a fabric applique tutorial

This weekend was one of those rare occassions when we had relatively few obligations and I actually found some time to work on some projects.

I'd been wanting to do something with these old sweatshirts that my son wore. They're the perfect size for my daughter but were covered in stains and not very feminine. So I decided to spruce them up with some fabric appliques. It's a simple process but I thought I'd do a quick how to for those who haven't done it before.

What you'll need:
Sweatshirt or other piece of clothing you want to alter
Fabric for the applique
Heat N' Bond
Sewing machine (optional)
Needle and embroidery thread (optional)
Buttons (optional)

I knew I wanted some simplistic nature silhouettes for these sweatshirts but didn't really have the confidence to draw them freehand so I searched online for free clipart until I found images that I could print out and trace. I did have to alter them slightly to make them big enough and to make sure they covered all the stained areas of my sweatshirts. I had to alter the branch pattern several times to cover all the stains on the orange sweatshirt and had to use a heart shape here and there as well.

Once your image is the right size and shape you'll need to transfer it to the Heat N' Bond. Be sure to reverse your pattern (Notice in the picture below how the deer on the Heat N' Bond is reversed in direction from the finished product. This is imperative if you have an image that needs to face a certain way. if your image does not have a right and wrong side then this is not an issue) and trace it on to the paper side of the Heat and Bond.

Cut around your image but do not cut on the lines. Then apply your Heat and bond to your fabric per the manufacturer's instructions. Be sure to apply the Heat N' Bond to the WRONG SIDE of your material. One of the fabrics pictured here is a woven fabric and therefore doesn't have a right and a wrong side so I dont' want that to confuse you.

Once your heat and bond is applied to your applique fabric, cut out the image. Peel the paper backing off and position it on your garment. Then adhere it with your iron following the manufacturer's instructions.

A note on Heat N' Bond. Heat N' Bond can be purchased at most craft/fabric stores in varying strengths. I used the lightweight version because that's what I had on hand and I like it because it's not too stiff and is fully sewable. I knew that I wanted my applique pieces to be stitched onto the sweatshirt as that was the look I was going for. However, if you're not a huge fan of sewing or want to make this project even quicker, be sure to purchase a very strong/heavy duty version of Heat and Bond (look for "Ultrahold") that can withstand repeated wearings and washings without needing sewing reinforcement around the edges.

I sealed the edges of my appliques with the blanket sitch setting on my sewing machine. If your sewing machine does not have this option or any other decorative stitch, then a small zigzag stitch over the edges or even normal straightline stitching along the edge of the appliqued piece will keep it in place just fine during wear and washings.

I felt that my bird and branch applique needed more detail so I enhanced it with some hand stitching. 2 strands of embroidery thread, a needle and a simple running stitch was all it took to add some more charm to this piece. To finish off the fawn I simply added some buttons.

Here are a couple more pictures of the finished products.

This is my first tutorial so I hope that I made the directions clear and concise and that you'll find this information inspiring and helpful. Post a comment or send me an email if you have any specific questions that this post did not cover.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Finally! Retro Tags are here!

I've been working on some retro inspired tags for what seems like months and fnally I've got them printed, assembled photographed and listed.

There are some general gift tags and then some Christmas gift tags as well. Click my Etsy showcase to check them out!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Halloween Grab Bags

I love Halloween. It’s a pretty close second behind Christmas as my favorite holiday and is only trailed slightly by my 3rd favorite; Talk like a Pirate Day (Aaaargh!) Anyway, since my son is in preschool now I have the opportunity to flex my Halloween gift giving muscles and I came up with the idea of sending him to school with little Halloween treat bags for each of his classmates.

I didn’t want to send him with candy as I figure the kids will find plenty of opportunities to rot their teeth without my help, so I came up with this:
I purchased Halloween pencils at the dollar store as well as plastic Halloween rings. Within each ring is a rolled up joke (preschool appropriate of course) in case they need some help finding the perfect joke to add to their trick or treat arsenal.

The piece de resistance however is the cute little finger puppet bats. I got this idea from Domesticali who generously shared a tutorial on making these little guys on her website. I made mine from plain felt instead of wool felt since that's what I had on hand.

Aaron helped me stamp some brown paper lunch bags with Halloween rubber stamps and we placed one of each item inside each bag.

Crafty eh?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bargain Yarn

(Lion Brand Landscapes - wool blend)

I grabbed 2 skeins of each of these yarns at Big Lots for $1.50 each. Finding good yarn at a place like that is pretty rare but I’m always on the lookout for crafty bargains and I got lucky this time and found these beauties nestled within a mound of purple eyelash yarn.

Haven’t decided exactly what to make yet but I’m leaning toward a cowl (also called a tube scarf or scarflette).

They’re all the rage now and I’m one to jump on a bandwagon when it’s something I think is pretty cool. And from what I’ve heard,”cowl is the new scarf” don’t believe me? Check out this flickr blog group: Cowl is the new scarf

As much as I love scarves, sometimes the ends annoy me. They entangle the kids when I bend down to put their boots on, they get wrapped around my purse straps etc so I’m thinking a cowl would be an improvement. Of course some of those issues may be attributed to my natural awkwardness, it’s hard to say.

One of the most exciting things about this yarn, besides the softness and subtle color variations is that they take size 13 needles (cue shaft of light and angelic chorus) which means that whatever project I decide on should take minimal time with a yarn as chunky as this.

One of my fears with a cowl though is that it could make me resemble something like a tortoise or worse yet give the impression that I’ve simply knitted a cozy for my double chin. But, I think for $3 and minimal time and effort, it’s a project worth pursuing. I’ll let you know how it turns out, unless of course it does end up looking like a double chin cozy and then I think it’s best if we all just forget this ever happened.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Button, Button, who's got the Button?

I don’t, that’s for sure!

What am I babbling about? Well I’ll try to give you the short version but I’ve been obsessing about this for the last 3 days so this post may go on for hours.

I want a button/badge maker. Yes, one of those machines that makes the pinback buttons. I know what you’re envisioning – you’ve just conjured a mental image of a cheap and cheesy happy face button, and I used to be just like you.

I mean why would anyone want to make those things? Who would wear them unless they’re running for office or are a member of the band booster club? I don’t even like those photo buttons people get of their kids for soccer or baseball. Don’t get me wrong I’ll take any opportunity to show off my kids but pinning a picture of them to my breast is not my idea of fashion.

But then I started thinking outside the box and I started seeing some really cool small buttons that I loved. I realized that I could make the little 1” buttons with cool retro clipart and funny little sayings. I could make buttons out of vintage cards and other ephemera because the beauty of these astound me so much that I would love to wear them on my coat or attach them to my purse. They would be as beautiful as a $50 brooch to me. I could make them into magnets – the possibilities really would be endless!!

See these fabulous buttons from kitsch and curious and you'll get an idea of my vision:

The best part is that I could whip out hundreds of these things in no time! Don’t get me wrong I love every aspect of crafting but when it takes me 2 months to knit a scarf I wonder how I’ll ever find the time to make any inventory for my budding business. And why does it take me 2 months? Because the only time I have to knit is after the kids are asleep, or on road trips, or when I’m stuck in the bathroom after an ill advised trip to Taco John’s (Oh don’t pretend to be all grossed out– my bathroom is clean, don’t tell me you’ve never knitted while sitting on the porcelain chair-it's called "multi-tasking"!)

Whereas the button maker is called “Badge-a-minit” which despite their atrocious spelling – implies that you can churn these babies out in no time and I’d have so much inventory that I could swim in it! I could take them to craft sales in 5 gallon buckets and just dump them on the table and wait for the people to flock over!


I started researching these badge making machines and I was astounded. It was like a slap in the face. Do you know that some of these things range in price from $200 to over $1,000. You’re talking to the gal who walks through the dollar store and says, “you’ve got to be kidding me, I’m not going to pay a dollar for that!” Yes, I’m that cheap.

However, I realize that this is a machine that needs to be sturdy and functional and I thought I could get sturdy and functional for $25 - $50. Well I was dreaming. Now I did find one on ebay one day and let me tell you – my fingers were inching towards the Discover. It was a 3 in 1 (makes 3 diff. sizes of badges) a wonderful deal really. It had been gently used and was practically brand new and at the time had a bid of $165. Unfortunately I don’t have $165 lying around and then my friend forced me to crunch the numbers and figure out how many badge/buttons I’d have to sell to pay for the machine and well if I figured $1.00 per button I’d have to sell approximately 270 of them to earn what the machine cost me and well that seemed like a pretty daunting task unless I was whipping them out for the Obama campaign or something.

So long story short, I don’t have a badge/button maker and I’m a sad, sad, sad gal. I’m trying to let it go, trying to convince myself that it’s not profitable and that I’ll regret it, but it’s still there on the edge of my creative mind, taunting me with project ideas. Winking at me with its shiny metal parts, shaking its buttons at me seductively. What’s a girl to do? I think if I kept looking on ebay and other places I could probably find a 1 or 1 ¼ inch badge maker for around $50 - $75, but even then when you factor in material cost I’m afraid it would take me forever to earn enough off of it to justify its purchase.

I'd be like that guy at the craft sale with a table full of $2 decoupaged lightswitch covers and people wonder how he even covers the booth fee with the sales he gets. I don't want to be the light switch cover guy - I don't like Elvis or Betty Boop! Does my desire for it alone justify buying it. Do you think I could pull in a profit on buttons?

Any thoughts?

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Hello all and thanks for visiting my blog! I’m just your average working mom trying to juggle a full time job, 2 kids and a husband while still enjoying and trying to sell some of my handmade goodies.
I hope to offer you plenty of info and entertainment to keep you coming back for more. Stay tuned!