Tuesday, October 7, 2014

(Easy) Loomed Gorilla Arms for Halloween


My daughter makes short films. She also loves Halloween. So, she usually has some costume project in the works. She needed furry arms, so we hit the craft store for inspiration. We came away with a small 24–peg loom and two skeins of Yarn Bee Haute Fur in the color Wolverine.

SC Yarn Arms materials

My daughter is an artist, but she has no interest in knitting or crochet. She did love the loom, however. Her term for it: “idiot–proof.”

I showed her how to e–wrap the loom twice and how to lift the bottom loop over the top loop. And that’s all she did—round and round and round—until the skein was done.

SC ewrap

She whip–stitched the top of the tube closed so it was like a mitten. Since the yarn is thin, she had no problem poking her leather–gloved fingers through the holes.

She just tucked the tops of the arm tubes into her shirt sleeves to hold them up.

Sophisticated, yes? They got rave reviews from the campus crowd.

She got both arms done in about two days. Plenty of time before Halloween.

We decided the bright colors could be used for stuffed animals or mythical animals. Brown for bears/dogs/cats… anything!

What animal would you be?



Saturday, September 27, 2014

Machine–Embroidered Monster

Technology is awesome. Sometimes it does make life easier.

My mom introduced me to the world of machine embroidery when my kids were super little. She also gifted me her old Babylock Esante when she upgraded machines. She recently got the machine to end all machines—a Babylock Ellisimo Gold 2. It’s gorgeous. It sews amazingly, too.

She was having so much fun that it made me want to pull out all my old embroidery gear and see what trouble I could get into.

I’ve been intrigued by in–the–hoop patterns ever since I made a zipper bag using my mom’s embroidery machine. No messing with the zipper! The machine does ALL the work. You follow the sewing steps, take the pouch out of the hoop, flip it right–side out, and BAM!

I got the Monster Bash treat bags from Little Airplane Designs through Creative Machine Embroidery to give my machine a chance to excite me again. My kids had long outgrown the kiddy designs I had. OK, these are kiddy designs, but I couldn’t help myself.

Oh, my gosh. I am in love with in–the–hoop.

SC Embroidery in action

My old machine (no full–color, full–size screen for me) performed like a champ.

I could not (and would not) take the time to applique a cute monster face onto felt. And sew on a zipper without it causing me mental anguish? Forget about it!

AHHHHH! The cuteness! It hurts!

Let’s make some more. They take less than 30 minutes to make.

Have you ever played with an embroidery machine?



Thursday, September 25, 2014

When Technology, Crafting, and Freebies Collide

I love technology, especially when it can be put to crafty purposes. So when my daughter pointed me to to build myself a free 3D bracelet, I was there within 2 seconds.

Made With Code is Google’s new initiative to get kids excited about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). I can get with that since my son is studying astrophysics.

What did I make my bracelet say? Self–promotion, of course!


How cool is that?

Four to six weeks later, I got my free bracelet.

SC Wrong Way Google

Nancy, if you’re out there, I’ll trade you.

Ah, technology.

What’s your new favorite crafting gadget? Mine is my ancient embroidery machine. Hey, it’s still technologically superior to my cog sewing machine.



Friday, August 29, 2014

How to Make a Large Vintage Sign with Clip Art

Have you ever seen a piece of clip art and wanted to put it on your wall? Since clip art is raster–based, you can’t scale it up without losing a lot of detail. The blocky pixels that make up raster clip art simply become bigger blocks.

A few years ago, I found this toilet water label on the Graphics Fairy site and pinned it to my Pinterest along with my intentions.

SC Inspiration Pin

So how do you make a little clip art label into a 3–ft tall sign without losing a lot of clarity? You make your graphics program upsize a little at a time. This is the process I used:

1. Open your clip art in a graphics program that gives you control over the file size, like Photoshop or PaintShop Pro. I use Photoshop.

2. Most clip art is 72 dpi. Change the resolution to 300 dpi while restraining the file size.

3. Start enlarging the image 0.5 inches at a time without restraining the file size. The image will begin to look terrible on screen, but keep going until the image is the size you need to print out.

4. Print out the image using the tiling setting. I set a generous overlap of 1 in.  using legal–sized paper. You need overlap to accurately match your pages. Print at actual size. The result may still be slightly pixelated, but we’ll fix that.

SC Tiled

5. The best way to align and attach a tiled print is to tape the first page on a large window and align the next pages in the sequence, matching the images. Use a glue stick to attach each page.

SC Gluing process

Optional: After the sign was together, I covered the whole paper with a layer of matte medium while it was still on the window. I didn’t want to worry about the paper buckling when I decoupaged it onto its base as can happen when the paper is unsealed. I sealed both back and front with a layer of matte medium.

SC Gluing

6. If the image is not quite as crisp as you want it, you can use thinned paint and add back the missing details. Since this sign is vintage looking, the hand–painted details make it look more authentic.

SC Depixel details

You can really see the difference between the unpainted pixelated letters and the painted letters. I didn’t worry about being super precise with the painting. You’ll get a better result with a looser style. I did thin the paint with thinner made for craft paint. It keeps the paint from getting too watery but allows it to flow easier.

SC In process painting

7. Cut out the paper sign and place it on a piece of insulation foam. The foam is lightweight but rigid. Trace around the sign with a craft blade, just scoring the surface. Snap the foam at the score to produce a clean break. Trying to cut it all the way through will result in a raggedy edge.

SC Mount paper

8. Paint the edges of the foam to match the background of the print and let dry. Glue the print to the foam using ModPodge or decoupage glue.

9. A large pop–top ring from a can works well as hanger when hot–glued to the back. You also can hot glue a saw tooth hanger to the foam.

SC Easy hanger

Here she is, in the tall skinny area above the toilet, just as I envisioned her.

SC Tall Vintage Sign

You can see the seams where I glued the tiles together only if you look very closely and you catch the angle just right.

SC overlap

The sign is 16–in. x 37–in. The whole project took about a day and a half because I was kind of making it up as I went along. Plus, you need drying time. No use rushing.

SC Sign Size b

The vintage sign is now mounted in the same bathroom as the vintage plates I made with other antique labels.

SC Sign in place

If you make a vintage sign, please post a link in the comments. I would love to see your results using this enlarging method. Let me know if you find a better and more accurate enlarging method, too. I found these instructions a million years ago, and Photoshop has had a few revisions since then.