Ninja Guys

The boys started karate in January.  They are having an awesome time with it.  I made them these little ninja guys a few weeks ago.  They are just the 2-3/8″ people pegs from Casey’s Wood that I painted with acrylics and then sealed with some Mod Podge.  I made the mistake of making their eyes with a Sharpie, and the marker bled.  Wouldn’t recommend it.  I bought a paint pen for the next people that I made and it turned out much better.

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Sunshine rainbow plushie

I was feeling very crafty this weekend, and after all the great energy of Saturday night’s craft project for Craft Hope, I spent Sunday morning crafting as well!  In addition to the owls that we made, I had an additional idea of making sunshine plushies based on this tutorial from Chez Beeper Bebe.  Well, we decided that it would be most efficient to only make one type of plushie, so the idea of the rainbow sunshine was put aside.  Well, it was so cute and I had already bought the supplies, so I made two on Sunday morning.

Oh my goodness.  Super-cuteness!!  I want to make more! Mine are a bit bigger than her template.  I just used my favorite Fiestaware serving bowl as my template.  The other change that I made (when crafting the second one) is that I embroidered the face prior to sewing anything together.  I found that much easier and quicker.  Easier to hide knots, etc.  Maybe part of that is that I used a back-stitch for my embroidery instead of the split stitch called for in the pattern.  The fabric is just regular cream colored fleece that I picked up at Joanns. And I made sure to go over each ribbon as I was sewing three times to try to make it super-sturdy.  So, sew over the ribbon, back-stitch over the ribbon, forward-stitch over the ribbon again and keep going until you get to the next ribbon!  I just placed the ribbons as I went and didn’t bother pinning them in first, since I’m not a “pinner.”

And I would like to comment on her story about how the “corporate toy-making man” patented this whole idea of folding ribbons into toys.  I think it’s insane personally, as the whole process is so basic, I don’t see how it can be unique enough to be patentable (but I’m not a lawyer, what do I know?).  And this is not the first story that I’ve heard where they have gone after small craftspeople who are making toys with ribbons.  Of course they can send mean letters to these people who they know can’t fight them, or won’t because the only person who wins in that fight are the lawyers who you are paying.  I can certainly tell you that I haven’t bought one of that company’s products in a VERY long time, and I have no intention of ever doing so.  I understand that they are protecting their patent but the way that they go about it just doesn’t feel right to me.  In any case, make one for yourself!  Because they are super-easy, absolutely adorable, and I can’t wait to give them to my baby friends.

Christmas Project Status and Open House over at Alewives

Okay, not a lot of posting going on because I’ve been busy getting ready of Christmas of course!  So, here’s what I’ve been up to, and some little information about a cool little Virtual Open House at my favorite fabric store.

Alewives Fabrics is located in Damariscotta Mills which is in mid-coast Maine.  If you are ever here in Maine (or you are you lucky enough to live here), then make the trip!  It is the best fabric store that I’ve ever visited.  Seriously.  My husband is lucky that it’s an hour away otherwise I’d have spent enough to send Rhea (@AlewivesGirl on Twitter, co-owner with her mom in the store) on a trip to Aruba.  Rhea is having a Virtual Open House today on her blog.  Just visit the blog, leave a comment, and she’s giving away some fab prizes.  And in the meantime, while you wait to see if you’ve won, check out her online store.

When I was there last time (at the Liesl Gibson sewing with knits class), I bought some awesome fat quarters of the new Anna Maria Horner Innocent Crush in velveteen.  Oooh!  It’s awesome.  I think I’m going to make some pillows from it.  And Rhea has a great eye for combining fabrics and her 20 fat quarter sets are fab.  I got a cotton set of Innocent Crush of that too.  Not sure what I’m going to do with that.  Hmm…I need to finish my Turning Twenty quilt with Amy Butler Daisy Chain, and then maybe I’ll make another one!

So in Christmas crafting news:

1) Still working on the Hood Tree Skirt.  I ran into a snag.  The front is 42″ round, so they say to use a 44″ square piece for the back.  Well, yes, you’d think that would be easy right?  Fabric is about 44-45″ wide.  Well, not when you’ve pre-washed it.  So, all my Christmas fabrics are only about 42″ wide and won’t work as the backing to compensate for any shifting that might occur as I quilt it.  And it needs to be big enough because the little houses applique go straight to the edge.  Can’t cut any of those off!  So, I need to piece the back.  Sigh.

2) I did succumb to a little “me” shopping at Sew Fresh Fabrics on Etsy.  They had some of comfortstitching’s new Sherbet Pips by Moda in stock! So, I got a charm pack!  So excited.  It’s not coming out until April otherwise. You can see the style in the Little Girl on  a Tree Swing mini quilt that I did a few months ago.  I can’t wait to make some stuff for the guest room with that fabric!  Sew Fresh Fabrics is great!  I also bought some Kona cottons and they mark all the pieces with little stickers with the color name.  So useful!

3) I am making some of these cute little owl ornaments.

4) And I have plans for these little house ornaments, a freebie project from the new book Scandinavian Stitches.

5) Hubby and I are going to use his woodworking skilz to make the boys Harry Potter-esque style magic wands!  We need to work on those.  Maybe tonight.

6) I’m making some more kid-drawing placemats for my mother in law.  Finally got the kids to sit down and make some special drawings, and I’m currently cleaning them up in Paint Shop. Then I will print on that inkjet fabric paper and make into placemats.  The problem is that last year’s placemats have not washed very well.  That inkjet printer fabric seems to hold onto stains.  I’m going to try to Scotchgard them this year and see how that works out. I don’t think I ever shared pictures last year??  I meant to do a tutorial for it but got side-tracked by the fact that they weren’t washing well and didn’t really want to recommend it until I figured out that problem.

7) Christmas Eve pajamas.  I make the boys pajamas every year that I give to them on Christmas Eve.  Haven’t started this year’s yet!  I’d better get cracking!  I have some quilt flannel with cartoon soccer players on it that I might use.  Or I have some baseball fleece.  Hmm…

Halloween Flags

Halloween flags

Inspired by a recent post on the Twig & Toadstool blog, J (who is now 6yo) and I made these flags yesterday before dinner.  It was a quick project, and probably took about 45 minutes.  The pattern is a download from the Toymaker website.  There are four flag patterns to choose from – owl, pumpkin, cat and skull.  Like Twig & Toadstool, we went for rainbow paper instead of spooky/Halloween paper.  J chose two of each design, and picked which color paper each would go on.

Then, he cut out the straight border lines on the top and side, as well as the scallop bottom.  I did the inside cuts with an x-acto knife.  Then we used a glue stick to attach some shiny tissue paper to the back.  To hang the banner, I folded the top down about 1/2 inch towards the back, and ran a length of baker’s twine through, and then taped the folded part down.  Since I hung it in the window, and you can’t see the back, it’s not important that the back look as nice as the front.  Then, we have these odd draw pull knobs on our window molding from where the previous owners had a valance hung.  So, I tied the baker’s twine to a few of the knobs and voila!

You can’t really tell in the pictures because of the morning sun casting a shadow, but the paper is bright blue, green, purple and yellow.

I love it!

Adding a new picture which shows the colors of the flags.  Such a fun and easy project!  I need to think about how to adapt the concept for Christmas.

Camping Shirts 2010

I started a little tradition three years ago and started making camping t-shirts using freezer paper stencils and fabric paint for our annual camping trips with our good friends.  The boys are all best buddies, and it is so awesome to see them hanging out and having fun.  They actually love the t-shirts and wear them year-round.  Even now that they are getting older — it makes a crafty-mama’s heart grow two sizes!

You can see my original tutorial for the freezer paper stenciled shirts from 2008, here.  Once again, we went back to the exact same campsites.  Awesome sites.  And this year we had perfect weather as opposed to the washed out 2009 trip.

The first year were bears, last year were moose (we do live in Maine after all), and this year were bald eagles!  The bald eagles turned out super-cool, if I do say so myself.  I gathered inspiration online, and then freehand drew the bird on a piece of paper.  Hubby cleaned it up a little bit for me – my talons weren’t talon-y enough, I guess.

I did something new this year, and decided to try printing them out on my inkjet printer, straight onto the freezer paper.  With the intricate designs, I have found that it is hard to re-use a stencil.  So, I had four of these babies to draw and cut out.  I cut freezer paper to approximate 8.5×11″ letter-size paper, and slid it into my paper tray, making sure that it would print on the paper side of the freezer paper.  It worked marvelously!!  And then I cut out the designs with my little Xacto knife which was a 100% improvement from using my embroidery scissors like I did last year.  I did three coats of paint this time, which on the turquoise shirts, worked really well.  Two coats didn’t seem quite enough.  As always, just wash them inside out.  They hold up really well.  The boys still wear their bear shirts from 2008.

2008 Bears

2009 Moose

2010 Bald Eagles

Walking up the path from the beach -- they are getting so big!

The boys all chose the bald eagle mascot this year.  They love coming up with ideas for the next year’s shirt.  It’s great.  I actually saw a bald eagle in our backyard yesterday!  It was super-cool!  Our golden retriever had a lot of fun barking at him.  This was a juvenile, hence the non-white head.

Bald eagle in the backyard

Pussy Willows in Wool

Betz White posted the cutest wool “pussy willows” a few weeks ago on her blog.  Well, I didn’t really read it clearly, and I thought she had actually used real pussy willows.  She actually just used bare branches to which she attached the felt balls to make them appear to be pussy willows.  Ah-ha!  Well, as I said, I didn’t read that clearly, and when I saw some pussy willow branches in the store, I snapped them up.  (To be told later, of course, by my friend that she has a ton in her yard!  Note for future reference.)  Well, after buying the pussy willows, I read the directions again, and realizing my mistake, decided to go for it.  And put the pussy willows out on our hall table, and added two branches of “wool” pussy willows to add in some color.  I love it!  And the high arrangement looks really good in front of the stairs.  I’ll have to remember that for future arranging.  In retrospect, I’m glad I only did two branches because I was making the felt balls by hand and my hands were getting tired rolling wet, soapy wool balls.

Rainbow window stars

A few weeks ago, we had school canceled for a snow day so the boys and I made these window stars using Garden Mama’s tutorial.  The boys are 7.5yo and 5.5yo and did a pretty good job with the folding.  Even when it’s not perfect, it’s really not noticeable.  Now, I’ve been busy making them for friends, school, etc!  I shared them with the Elementary teacher at J’s Montessori school, she shared them with the art teacher, and now they are on the hunt for kite paper so they can do them with Elementary and Extended Day students (i.e., the Kindergarten-age children).  I purchased my kite paper at Mercurius (awesome art supplies but wholesale only — I got mine in a co-op) but I’m sure you can buy it elsewhere.  I saw it at Nova Natural online or Waldorf School stores are a good place to check too.  You can also use tissue paper, wax paper, etc., but I really like the sturdiness of the kite paper.