Monday, February 27, 2012

Craft Book Challenge Week 9: The Art of Handmade Flowers

I like to haunt the stacks at the Amarillo Friends of the Library book sale. I enjoy finding books the library has removed from circulation and books that patrons have donated from their personal collections.

I wonder where this week's book came from. I picked up The Art of Handmade Flowers in a $5–per–bag sale. It was originally published in Japan and was purchased somewhere you could pay in yen. I wonder if the original owner was able to make any fabric flowers because the steps to make them seem intimidating. You heat a teaspoon to use as a mini iron!

Can you imagine the patience required to make a bouquet of satin roses? All I can see is trying to keep them dusted!

The authors, Miyuki and Tomoko Iida, suggest starting with the carnation. They also say you can color your fabric with crayons. What?! Oh, wait, they also say that to make your flowers look like theirs, you have to dye the fabric. Crayoned carnations it is! Can't wait to see them myself.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Felty little flowers

I now know why none of the projects in Indygo Junction's Needle Felting caught my eye: I need to work small, miniscule, tiny. The book's projects are full-scale craftiness. When you don't know what the heck you're doing, a large project is scary.

Flush from success needle-felting a bunny using a Clover felting mold, I pulled out my small heart and flower cookie cutters to use as molds, and stab stab stabbity stab later...

I'm discovering that focusing on one crafty endeavor a week is really helping my creativity. There is no other reason that I would stitch French knots over my purple bunny. French knots and I generally do not get along.

I put a pin back on the blue rose to wear on my blue pea coat. I'm going to pop the flatter felts onto cards for Easter. Can you see the heart shapes in the rose petals?


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ooooh, shiny (and fuzzy)!

I am a crafting magpie, which leads to lots of shiny objects lining the edges of my craft room nest.

This week's book falls into that category of stuff I like but will never do. Don't get me wrong. The projects offered in Needle Felting will enthuse and inspire someone, just not me. I didn't find one project that got my creative juices flowing.

When needle felting first caught my eye, I picked up all the lovely colors of wool roving I could find and made a pair of needle-felted booties for my nephew. He's five now.

Today I did needle felt a bunny using a Clover felt mold. It's actually the best result I've ever gotten using my felting needles.

I do have some of my own ideas brewing. We'll see what tomorrow brings. This magpie isn't ready to give up on her stash just yet!


Monday, February 20, 2012

Craft Book Challenge Week 8: Needle Felting

In Like A Lion, Out Like A Lamb

March roars in like a lion
So fierce,
The wind so cold,
It seems to pierce.

The month rolls on
And Spring draws near,
And March goes out
Like a lamb so dear.

by Lorie Hill

The house is creaking with gusts up to 55 mph today, which turns my mind to warm, comfy crafting materials.

I'll be diving into my stash of wool sweaters from the thrift store, roving, wool yarn, and felt this week. Even if I don't make anything useful, at least I can cuddle under the wool to keep the winter winds away.


Week 7 Wrap Up: What to do with Paper Cuts

Before I move on to this week's craft book, I wanted to talk about what you can do with fun little paper cuts.

  1. Greeting cards
  2. Collage elements
  3. Book covers
  4. Wrapping decorations
  5. Ornaments and mobiles
  6. Table decorations and doilies

If you scan your cutout, you can print the design on stationary or print the design on iron–on transfer paper for T–shirts, aprons, book covers, etc...

You can also make your own paper cut patterns using

  1. Photographs
  2. Coloring books
  3. Embroidery patterns
  4. Your own drawings

Here's a link to the embroidery pattern I used to make my quick lunch bag wrapping.

Any more ideas? Paper cuts are too fun not to use and share.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Paper Cuts

I hate snow. So my paper snowflakes don't look anything like snow.

Yesterday, I spent a relaxing afternoon trying different paper folds for cutting from Creative Paper Cutting.

Double Fold (fold in half, turn, fold in half again)
Dachshund silhouette from

Triple Fold (snowflake fold)

I use a no-measure paper template to make this fold more easy and accurate. I actually used geometry to figure it out!

Quadruple Fold (fold in half on the diagonal, repeat, repeat)

Snow is forecast this weekend. I may cover my windows with my doilies so I don't have to look at the real stuff.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Week 6 Update: Cushion Victory!

Home sewing is like doing a 5,000–piece 3D puzzle. Pieces that you swear should go together usually don't. And you'd better not lose the picture that shows you what the finished puzzle looks like; otherwise, you're never getting that model of the Taj Mahal built.

This is the back of the upper cushion!

I didn't dare take this construction apart so I traced the pieces with chalk.

Last week I wanted to sew the cushion for my Week 4 upholstery project. I've never liked sewing welting, and my mind was not changed. The book More Sewing for the Home did lead me through cutting out a new cushion pattern, sewing on the welting, and sewing all the pieces together. I couldn't have done it without the pictures leading me by the hand.

I spent as many hours putting this sucker together as it probably would have taken me to put together a 3D puzzle when all the pieces are the same color. I sewed into my finger once, repinned everything at least three times, refilled the bobbin too many times to count, and yelled at my sewing machine... a lot.

But I have a cushion that fits and is straight. Don't look at it too closely. Who does that anyway?


Monday, February 13, 2012

Craft Book Challenge Week 7: Quick Crepe Paper Valentine Swag

Hey, ya'll! Thanks for stopping by from The Graphics Fairy. I'm so honored she featured my decoupaged plates.

Here's a quick valentine project from the book I chose to work in this week.

This project took longer to write up than it did to cut out! It's perfect for last–minute Valentine's Day decorating.

  1. You'll need regular party crepe paper. Measure the width of the crepe paper to create your heart pattern. Cut the crepe paper into 2–foot lengths. This length is easier to work with than longer lengths.
  2. Cut a heart from a piece of card stock so it will fit within the width of the crepe paper. You'll need two heart patterns, so cut the heart pattern in two. Set the heart halves on the crepe paper to determine how long to make your accordion folds. You want to leave space between the two heart halves.
  3. Accordion–fold the crepe paper according to the measurement you determined in Step 2. In this case, I folded the paper in 2–in. segments. If you've ever made paper dolls, you'll use the same zigzag folding technique.
  4. Staple the heart halves to the each side of the folded crepe paper. Make sure you follow the example. 

  5. Cut around the hearts, leaving a 1/2–in. wide center connection between the lobes.
  6. Remove the staples. Save your patterns for the next length of crepe paper. You can use the same pattern.
  7. Unfold the hearts length. You should have a line–up of hearts. Make more!
  8. Connect the lengths of cut crepe paper with white glue until the swag is as long as you want. Make multiple lengths in different colors and drape on your doors.

This is the book I chose this week. I need a break from sewing! Creative Paper Cutting is full of easy paper cuts you can apply to just about anything. I'm looking forward to exploring it more.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Never say, "Oops." Always say, "Ah, interesting."

Well, crud. Ever have one of those absolutely fabulous ideas that tanks? Yeah.

This week I've been working on covering my chair. I have the fabric, I have the thread, I have the know–how thanks to this week's book. What I didn't have was a cushy cushion. The original foam was weak. Anemic. Four–and–a–half inches of nothing. I wanted height and loft and comfort!

I added three (!) layers of 1–in. foam to that wimpy little cushion. I then spent hours lovingly sewing by hand an overcushion onto the layers of foam and batting to keep it all together. That cushion was looking fine! Except when I tested it on the chair. Good grief! Looked like the chair had shrunk by 6 in. and added about 15 lb of junk in the trunk. The proportions were WAY off. The batting and the overcushion added just enough height that I had a 9–in. high cushion.

I settled for one layer of extra cushioning, which puts me back to a naked cushion on a naked chair.

In sadness, I went and made some valentines. I feel much better now.

I used this video to learn the fortune cookie fold, but you can find these instructions anywhere. Basically, I slopped paint on the paper until it looked like a fortune cookie. The fortunes all pertain to love. I found my quotes at the Quote Garden. I made an extra one with a friendship fortune for my son's friend who is a girl.

Hoping for more sewing success tomorrow!


Monday, February 6, 2012

Craft Book Challenge Week 6: The herd thins

I often buy books for pie–in–the–sky projects. You know, the projects you think you want to do someday but certainly not now. Considering the number of home sewing books I own and the number of home sewing projects I have ever completed... well, let's just say I'm outnumbered.

I'm working on my naked chair upholstery project this week, but I really need help figuring out how to sew a decent–looking welted cushion. In pulling out my books, I discovered that I have a lot of duplication of information. Not just similar how–to's but outright duplication, even though the sewing books were produced by different publishers.

I chose to get rid of three sewing Singer sewing reference books from my pile because the information was duplicated elsewhere. Ahh, breathing room in the bookcase.

After all that, I didn't choose a Singer sewing book to help me sew a better cushion. I found better, clearer instructions in More Sewing for the Home.

This is the first book to let me know it's OK not to cut your welting on the bias. In fact, you really don't need to cut it at 45 degrees unless you need the welting to go around curves, and even then, you can get away with less than 45 degrees.

So, back to the chair. My first order of business is to beef up the anemic, thin cushion on this oversized chair. I have an experiment in mind that may plump that sucker up to new heights, or it might fail miserably. Then it's on to the fun: staples!

Do you have any pie–in–the–sky projects you've bought books and supplies for but just can't bring yourself to do? It's OK, I've been there too.


Friday, February 3, 2012

How to Inkjet Print on Tissue Paper

Printing on tissue paper opens a huge world of collage possibilities. The problem is, how do you do it without destroying your inkjet printer?

I used to print on tissue paper by ironing it onto freezer paper. It worked, but the process was time–intensive. A too–hot iron meant the tissue paper was not coming off the freezer paper.

The main issue is keeping the tissue paper from tangling in the inkjet printer's rollers. The solution is easy and quick.

Watch your print area!
Trim out the image while it is taped to the carrier paper.
Come see the project I did using vintage labels.


Tissue Paper Plates

This is the project I've been dying to try. If napkins can be decoupaged onto things, why can't tissue paper? What if I printed the tissue paper first?

 I have a large stash of white plates I've picked up at thrift stores for less than $1 each. I've been wanting some plates with vintage black and white labels for my daughter's black and white bathroom, and the Graphics Fairy has a large collection of beautiful labels. I used four vintage apothecary labels in black and white (here, here, here, and here).

I resized the images in Photoshop Elements and printed them out onto regular white tissue paper. This is the type of tissue paper you wad up and throw away after you've opened a gift. Stop doing that! Run a hot iron over that wrinkly tissue paper, and it's ready for art.

As I mentioned yesterday with the napkins, a flat piece of paper needs to be snipped to provide ease when gluing it down to a curved surface. I snipped around the blank areas, avoiding the writing as much as I could.

Again, I used varnish to glue the tissue down to the plate. Wrinkles are unavoidable. I used a very wet flat nylon craft brush to smooth out the air bubbles and smooth the wrinkles as much as possible. A dry brush will tear the tissue.

After the plates were dry, I gave them several coats of Rustoleum Crystal Clear Enamel spray, hot glued a few pop tabs onto the back, and actually got them hung in the bathroom on the same day I finished them.

And yes, it was worth the effort.

Update: I use a Kodak ESP 5250 printer. Here's how to print on tissue paper the easy way!

Featured at
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Linked up at
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Update 2: Want a matching sign? Here's how to make a large vintage sign with clip art.



Thursday, February 2, 2012

Napkin Decoupage on Plates

Napkin decoupage is not for the perfectionist. Wrinkles are unavoidable. If you don't mind a little imperfection in your art, using napkins is a great way to get some color and a large variety of images onto your surface.

I chose to use plates, because a) they're cheap, and b) I have a ton of them. In fact, I bought a bunch of second–quality Fiesta salad plates several years ago with the intention of hanging them across my kitchen walls. In that batch were three white plates.

They just didn't go, but in my napkin stash I found a fabulous fruity design with the colors of my plates.

Napkins are layered to help with absorbency. You'll only need the top layer for decoupage, but it's easier to cut the napkin when it is two layers thick. You'll peel the top layer off after everything is trimmed.

I decided to use the pear in the center of all my plates because my attempt at cutting and placing tiles failed miserably. It was easier to cut one side out and slap it on the plate. You can use varnish or thinned craft glue to paste the napkin onto the plate. The only rule is the brush must constantly be wet. A dry brush will drag across the wet napkin and possibly tear it. NOTE: You will not get all the wrinkles out of the napkin.

Since you're pasting a flat piece of paper onto a slightly curved surface, you need to snip the edges of the napkin to add ease. In my case, you can see where the snipped edges overlapped a little after I pasted it down.

I used varnish to paste up my plates. I started in the middle and worked my way out. For the edges, I was able to paste squares into the empty holes. I let the edges hang over the side and trimmed them when the plates were dry.

The final touch was several thin coats of Rustoleum Crystal Clear Enamel spray. It added the shine needed to mimic the other Fiesta plates. I figure that no one is going to be looking for wrinkles in the plates, so I'm not going to point them out.

Now I need to bribe my son to help me line up all these plates on the wall near the ceiling. I am the shortest in this house, and I need all the help I can get.