Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Diamond in the Rug

When I was a kid, I had a tabletop loom. I loved moving the yarn over and under to create fabric, but I never could prevent the yarn from pulling too tightly in the middle and creating an hourglass shape.

My mission this week was to make a rug using simple weaving of fabric strips. I couldn't make it that easy on myself. 

Enter graph paper. I found a diamond weaving pattern on an origami site and obsessively worked to translate the pattern to an over-under code. I also was constrained by my fabric amounts. Fabric is thin and must be folded several times to give it the weight necessary for a rug. A rug requires a lot of fabric.

I chose a green sheet and several lengths of lightweight white cotton broadcloth from my stash. The amount of fabric I had meant I could design a rug that was 23 in. by 47 in. I cut each fabric 4 to 6 in. wide and folded the strips down to 1 in. wide each.

That means I had 47 23–in. lengths in green and 23 47+–in. lengths in white. (I did splatter the white broadcloth in watered–down acrylic paint to give it a little more depth. Plus, white in a rug?!? Insanity!) I did spend quite a few quality hours with my iron to produce that stack.

Finally, it was time for the weaving. I started with the middle strip, which I had calculated to be Row 6 in my six–row pattern repeat. I marked it with a pin so I could keep track of my row count.

After the first pattern repeat, the weaving went quickly.

Notice my mistake? I cut the green strips at exactly 23 in., which gives me no room for adjustment on the sides. I cut the white broadcloth with several inches to spare. I had to use pins to keep my rows from shifting.

I thought I needed to snug up the rows to keep the pattern looking seamless, but I overtightened everything while I chatted on the hands–free phone for several calls.

Now its all too tight. I haven't had a moment to spare this weekend to loosen it back up. When I get it just right, I'll sew the loose edges together and cover the ends with the extra green fabric used as binding.

A tabletop rug goes quickly once you get your strips made. It's the prep work that takes awhile. I do have another tabletop rug planned because it is fun to see the pattern develop, but I'm going to take my time with making the strips. I may have another rug to show in, oh, six months or so.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Printing on Fabric & a Monogrammed Journal

I've been digging through and organizing my fabric stash. After I finish that project, I have to cut strips for my tabletop rug.

So, in the meantime, here's the guest post I did for Hani at Craftionary last week.

One lesson I've gleaned so far in this craft book journey is that what you learn from one book can be applied to other projects. A few weeks ago, I made starched fabric flowers using a Japanese craft book from the 1970's. The starched fabric is like paper... and paper can be run through an inkjet printer. Hmmm. Thus was born:

I did not draw that fabulous A onto the journal. I printed it on fabric using an inkjet printer and colored it with colored pencils.

This is what I used.

1. Supplies: corn starch, matte finish spray or other fixative, gesso, Mod Podge, white or blue gel glue, tacky glue, composition journal.
2. Design source (I used Treasury of Floral Designs and Initials as my craft challenge book.)
3. White cotton fabric.
4. Embellishments (adhesive pearls, wide lace).
5. Tools: ruler, scissors, flat paint brush, pencil, colored pencils.

I stiffened my fabric with a glue/starch mixture. Here's the recipe: Add 2 tsp cornstarch to 2 tsp water and stir. Boil 1/2 cup water in the microwave. Add the starch mix to the hot water. It should thicken immediately. Then mix in 2 tsp white or gel glue. Easy!

I cut two 10x12 chunks of white fabric and saturated them in the starch mixture. When the sheets were partially dry, I pressed the slightly damp fabric between two paper towels with a hot, dry iron. The starched fabric acts and feels like paper. I trimmed the fabric sheets to 8.5x11 inches to fit my printer tray.

I scanned the floral A from Treasury of Floral Designs and Initials and printed it on the fabric using my inkjet printer. The fabric fits into the printer as if it were paper. I printed both a front design and a back design on the sheets of stiffened fabric.

After painting several coats of gesso onto a plain composition book to hide the design, I Mod Podged my printed fabric sheets to both the front and back of the journal. I did not seal the top with Mod Podge as I wanted the fabric texture to remain. The result is a faux linen journal.

Now for the color!

I used Prismacolor colored pencils to color in the front and back monograms once the Mod Podge was dry. The starched paper accepts the colored pencil with no drag. A layer of  Krylon Matte Finish should help protect the fabric from dirt. The final step was to glue a strip of wide lace down the spine, place a few adhesive pearls on the circles in the original design, and glue in a strip of matching ribbon as a bookmark.

Here's the back design.

And if you're thinking you can print full–color designs that are ready to frame, yes, you can.

Egg print from The Graphics Fairy; band poster by my daughter.


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Monday, March 26, 2012

Craft Book Challenge Week 13: No–Loom Rug Weaving

Shortly after we moved into our current home, I became obsessed with rugs. The original owners had the concrete stained and waxed black during construction. I like more traditional decor, so those floors had to be covered with something. Plus, I could not keep my kids' socks clean. I wanted some foot cushiness.

Even the dogs preferred the rug to the floor.

These rug making booklets represent a small sample of my rug obsession. The author, Diana Blake Gray, is master rug maker who is on a mission to keep traditional rug making alive.

We've since covered all the floors with tile, wood parquet, and carpet, but I'll never turn up my nose at a good throw rug. This week, I'll be tackling a Kitchen Table Rug. I can't wait to dig into my fabric stash to see what's possible.

Anything in your home driven you to utter DIY desperation?


Knot Pillow #2

Inspired by NotKnot pillow; designer  Ragnheiður Ösp Sigurðardóttir

Carrick Bend Mat
So, is it worth all the work? Maybe. I do think the inspiration pillow is definitely worth the price. 


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Figure–8 Knot Pillow

Turns out the Figure–8 knot from The Arco Book of Useful Knots is both useful and pretty. However, this pillow was annoying. Not the knot tying. Stuffing the "cord" was UH-NOY-ING. It took forever.

Materials used:
1 pair of wool tweed pants cut into four 4½–in. strips (the length of each leg)
Polyester Fiberfill

That's it. Cut 'em. Sew 'em together. Stuff 'em. Tie 'em. I don't have any measurements because I totally winged it. I did double the tube when tying the knot. I also hand–tacked the turns on the back because someone will invariably try to untie it.


I worked on iteration #2 and ended up throwing the whole mess away. Stuffing 8 yards of fabric tube STINKS. I have a plan, though.

Are you working on something that is driving you crazy? Do tell.


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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Visit with Another Suzy

Hey ya'll! My interview is up at Suzy's Artsy-Craftsy Sitcom.

In honor of Suzy and her epic Ukrainian Easter egg skillz, here are some more painted eggs for my nieces and nephews. I can't send a real egg to my nephew. He'd use it as a hockey puck.

I got my new Ukrainian egg dying kit today. I may actually get to dye eggs before Easter, which would be a first.

Thanks again to Suzy.


Visiting today

Thanks to Hani @! She is featuring a tutorial I did using starched fabric and my inkjet printer. I even got to sneak in an extra craft book.

Check it out!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Craft Book Challenge Week 12: Getting Knotty

As of midnight last night, I had no idea what craft book I was going to dig into this week. I just wasn't feeling inspired by anything.

Pinterest to the rescue. Knotted pillows? I'm in.

Image Source: Notknot pillow from The Reykjavik Corner Store; designer Ragnheiður Ösp Sigurðardóttir

The only knotting book I have in my stash is The Arco Book of Useful Knots. Useful is not always pretty.

I checked my other books and found a chapter on rope crafts in Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts and instructions on how to knot a monkey's fist in The Button Maker.

I'm getting knotty this week. I'm also traveling. I'll let you know where I am tomorrow.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Murphy's Law for Crafters

Murphy's Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
Murphy's Law for Crafters: Missing tools will be found the moment you buy replacements.

We've all done it. What have you replaced that you know you already have?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Painted Ukrainian Easter Eggs

If you thought you might learn a few tips on producing traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs this week, you'll be disappointed.

Behold my epic tjanting skills!

But, when life hands you lemons, make egg salad.
I know that makes no sense. What I really mean to say is when all else fails, go back to what you know. I need a lot more practice to wield a tjanting. I can handle a paint brush and a pen.

I began by painting a paper mache egg with an Eastery color. After lightly sketching a design from the book Eggs Beautiful, I simply traced my lines with extra fine and regular permanent markers in black.

Real pysanky uses dyes in multiple colors.

I painted the eggs with the base color of my design and traced over all my penciled lines with a liner brush dipped in white paint thinned with extender. I then just painted the different colors over the white as necessary. The white helps the color stay true. For the blue egg, I painted the entire design in white and then overpainted the yellow and orange. I applied a layer of floor wax to add shine.

 If you'd like to try faux Ukrainian Easter eggs you'll need:
1. Some sort of sealer to add the shine.
2. Acrylic craft paint and paint extender.
3. A pin board for drying. (Poke pins into a scrap of foam core.)
4. Liner and small round brushes for detail work and a flat brush for base coating.
5. Pencil, and permanent markers for the doodled eggs.
6. Real blown–out or paper mache eggs.
7. Patterns, or make your own.

If you'd like to do real pysanky with wax and dyes (and I still do), see Suzy's tutorial on Suzy's Artsy–Crafty Sitcom. She clearly details the process. The author of my book is the original owner of the shop she recommends for supplies. I'll be ordering a new kistka and dyes, and you may still see some true eggs done before Easter.

In the meantime, I'm going to paint a few more eggs. I even stole a few of my kids' plastic eggs to make more paper mache eggs.


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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Craft Book Challenge Week 11: Ukrainian Easter Eggs

Photo by: Charles Keeler, Eggs Beautiful
Yesterday, I was looking for my kistka (melted wax stylus) to make Ukrainian Easter eggs. I never did find it, but I now have an organized laundry room, attic, game cupboard, and craft shelf.

I gambled that the little art/craft/hobby store where all good supplies go to die would have something.

Oh yes, they had something. For about $13 I got a cake of beeswax and fine and medium tip tjanting tools. They're used for both batik and Ukrainian Easter eggs (pysanky).

My mom bought Eggs Beautiful on a trip to Minneapolis one year along with the kistka and the aniline dyes necessary to produce the bright colors. I sat at the kitchen table for hours playing with the patterns and the wax. I'm ready to try again. Now to find some dyes.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Craft Book Challenge Week 11: Uh Oh!

I had a book picked out for my craft book challenge this week. But, I can't find the little tool that I need to do it. I know I have one, but where is it?

? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

In my search I found:

  • A set of glass eye droppers.
  • A 2000 Chipper Jones baseball card that is worth $1.
  • A Northern Exposure trading card that is worth $5 according to eBay (where did I get this?).
  • A pile of birthday cards from six years ago. (I knew the monkey one was from my brother without even having to open it.)
  • Several glitter candles (gone).
  • A paint graining tool I've been looking for.
  • The rest of my Shrinky Dink stash.
  • A story I wrote in high school.
  • My old–school Spirograph and Fashion Plates.
  • My grandfather's 35–year–old playing cards.

I do not, however, have the mystery tool I'm looking for. My last hope is to search the attic. Failing that, I'll hit up our hole–in–the–wall art shop. They're still selling craft books from the '70s. And the final straw, order from the Internet and push this book back. It's Easter–related. That's all I'm saying.



Saturday, March 10, 2012

I Double Dog Dare You (to try hand lettering)

When I'm working on something scary (like my upholstered chair), I often have to dare myself to try. Not just dare myself, but double dog dare myself. Once I get started, I usually get in the zone and just go. It's making the first cut or taking the first step that is the trouble.

I thought I'd better make a reminder that sometimes the first step is getting the courage to try. I opened Hand Lettering to the Roman lettering page, grabbed graph paper, and got to sketching. I like to use blank 4x6 index cards as my canvas.

I drew out a 6x4 in. area and made judicious use of the eraser until I was happy with my sketch. (The book even suggests you trace their letters, which is not cheating!)

To make my transfer, I scribbled with a pencil on the back of the pattern and traced it to the card using my light board and a sharp pencil. I actually had to trace it out twice because I had a marker bleed on the first one. Having a graph paper master pattern allows you to make multiple copies of your own work.

Add color. (I bought that paint set when I was in junior high and had to ride the city bus to the mall.) I used a fine Sharpie to outline.

I framed my piece in a dollar store frame so I can display it wherever and whenever I'm working on something.

Here's one for you.

Do you have a project where you need to double dog dare yourself to get started?


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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Week 4 Project Update: Upholstery (Victory!)

A mere six weeks ago, back in the heady days of Craft Book Challenge Week 4, I began the process of stripping the ugly away from my oversized chair.

Let me be the first to tell you that stripping a chair is the easy part. Reassembly is where the angst comes in.

I did make some errors. (HA!) Seems my fabric did have a directional pattern that I discovered AFTER I had cut out most of the large pieces. My cushion would not earn an A+ in Home Ec. (Machine operator error.) Also, no one tells you how to use strip tacks. I even went to the library to see if any of their upholstery books could tell me how. Only one book had that information (Simply Upholstery by Sunset Books), and still I had trouble. I got only the last one perfectly set.

However, the fabric pattern is busy and no one in this house can spot what is upside–down. What needs to be straight is straight. I matched the pattern on the front apron. Most importantly, the chair is done, can be sat upon without falling apart, and looks dang good, if I say so myself.

So, what would I suggest if you're thinking about reupholstering a chair?

  1. Believe in yourself. 
  2. Start simple, which I was advised and promptly ignored. You can ignore this suggestion if you follow #1.
  3. Get a good guide. Make sure it has the information you need for your piece of furniture.
  4. Label everything as it comes off the chair. Write how it was attached, the order in which  it was attached, and where. (I used chalkboard chalk on the back of the original fabric.)
  5. Take pictures. You won't need to refer to them all. The act of photographing helps you remember the process.
  6. Use a video camera/phone and talk yourself through difficult assemblies. Again, I didn't have to watch all my videos, but it helped to know they were available.
  7. Avoid striped and obvious patterned fabric for your first project. Don't make it any harder than it is.
  8. Do buy upholstery fabric. I found a steal in an upholstery outlet at $5/yard, but I had to drive 500 miles round trip to get it.
  9. Use the original fabric as your pattern but cut everything at least an inch larger on each side to give yourself wiggle room for errors.
  10. Break the process down step by step. I had a list of the order of assembly and worked on each step separately. Each step completed is a mini victory.
  11. YouTube and search engines sometimes provide the answer when you're stuck. Many online experts generously share their knowledge.
  12. Don't rush and don't trim the excess fabric before you're sure you can.
  13. Don't dwell on the errors. No one sees them but you.
  14. Don't be afraid to make a mistake. I found several errors in my "professionally" upholstered chair. Besides, mistakes are opportunities for learning.
  15. Use an air compressor with a stapler attachment if at all possible. Your hand will thank you. You will use hundreds of staples.
  16. Be proud of yourself. You learned a lot and have something beautiful and functional to show for it.


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Monday, March 5, 2012

Craft Book Challenge Week 10: Artful Lettering

I am a font junkie. Nothing is more beautiful to me than an artfully rendered alphabet. I also love gorgeous hand lettering. It adds such a personal touch to whatever it is applied to.

I'm working in Hand Lettering by Marci Donley & DeAnn Singh this week. I'm always up for learning a new lettering style. If the letter shapes are beautiful, even practicing can be fun.

I like to use graph paper because you can really see the space relationships between the strokes.

I pulled a pattern out of Treasury of Floral Designs and Initials for Artists and Craftspeople (eye candy!) and freehanded it onto my kitchen chalkboard with colored chalk that I remember having used as a kid. The lettering hand is Draftsman.

So, if you've never been here before, or you're stopping by again, let me offer you a big Welcome! I hope you're inspired to add a few letters into your life this week.