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.



Friday, August 22, 2014

Shopping the Stash: New Pillows

I am afraid of welting. It’s fiddly to sew, and you have to use the dreaded zipper foot, which always looks easy until I try it. So for two years I have lived with brown and orange accent pillows that came with my couch when I have none of those colors in my living room.

Leaky pillow that is the wrong, wrong, wrong.

Recently, however, the great molt started. The pillows were leaking feathers everywhere. It was time to tackle the welts.

Pillow molt

I’m not going to cover how to sew welting to pillows. It really is an easy process, and my fears are completely unfounded. I’m a terrible perfectionist with my sewing, and that usually is the cause of my sewing trepidation.

Instead, let’s talk about shopping the stash. As crafters, we all have a stash of possibilities: fabrics, glues, markers, papers, sequins, etc.

 Suzy Cucumber's fabric stash

This pile is but a mere fraction of my decorator fabric stash. Turns out I’ve been hoarding a perfect fabric in my stash. I found it at the craft thrift store for $4 for 2 yards. I had plenty to fussy cut a medallion motif for each pillow.

To solve the molting problem, I used fabric glue and strips of white cotton (again from the stash) to seal the leaky seams of the pillows. No way was I going wrestle feather pillows under the presser foot!

Sealing a leaky feather pillow with glue.

I used the old pillow cover for a pattern and cannibalized the zipper and welting to use in the new pillow.

Yes, I had to sew the welting in the second pillow twice.

New matching pillow

I’m so happy with the end result. No more crappy pillows for me! I’m going do a bit more shopping in my stash and see what else I can come up with to redo my accent pillows.

Have you forgotten about any treasures in your stash? Do tell in the comments.



Friday, June 13, 2014

Quick Fix for Wrong Color Thread

You know how you’re happily sewing along on purple fabric with purple thread and you completely forget your bobbin is white thread because it hasn’t mattered until now?

SC Sewing Mishap

Yeah, me too. I even zigzagged it so it would really show.

Since this purple cotton is the lining of a purse, I just colored over the white thread with a violet Prismacolor pencil. Anything to avoid the seam ripper!

SC Sewing Mishap Fixed


I also broke four needles up to this point, and I can’t blame it on machine error. Rushing usually is my enemy and led directly to the white thread debacle.

What are your worst sewing disasters? This is one of my minor booboos.



Monday, June 9, 2014

Wildflowers on the Back Roads

Sometimes you just have to go for a drive to see what’s in your own backyard.

My husband and I took a Saturday drive south toward Lubbock and the South Plains just to see what we could see. I wanted to see wildflowers.

The Texas Department of Transportation actively seeds and encourages wildflower and native grasses along Texas roadways. The practice started in 1932, even along the back roads.

I found a wealth of wildflowers along the farm to market roads. At 75 mph, they all look the same. I was amazed at how many varieties I found in a short time. With the help of the Wildflower Center and an index of Texas Wildflowers, I was able to identify most of the wildflowers.

Englemann Daisy

Engelmann Daisy


False Garlic

False Garlic



Lone Sunflower


Red Prairie Coneflower

Red Prairie Coneflower


Yellow Prairie Coneflower

Yellow Prairie Coneflower


Scarlet Guara

Scarlet Guara

Scarlet Guara aka Scarlet Beeblossom


White Prairie Clover

White Prairie Clover


Yellow Spiny Daisy

Yellow Spiny Daisy

Also hidden along the back roads are unique examples of roadside attractions. So many little towns were well–traveled before the interstate highway system bypassed them and their dreamers. We found Bob’s Oil Well service station in Matador, Texas.

Matador, Texas Roadside Attraction

Bob's gas pump, Matador, Texas

Widespread thunderstorms ended our trip, but even the sky was beautiful.

Looking up at the Storm



Friday, April 25, 2014

Spring Refresher

I have one clock that is still set to standard time. I changed every other clock in the house for daylight savings time but not the clock in the kitchen. I mentally add one hour when I look at that clock. It’s always on the back of my mind to get out the stool and change the time, but I haven’t gotten there yet.

Our house and yard has been stuck on the back burner just like that clock. For years we’ve had projects and ideas simmering, but life got in the way. Most of our time and money went to fencing and then it went to two universities and their residence halls. (#1 is graduating this May!)

With kids out of the house, we talked about possibly moving and came to realize we had work to do if we ever decided to sell the house. And then we decided to fix up our house for us instead of for someone else.

Instead of spring cleaning, I’ve been spring repairing.

SC Lists

I went through every room and wrote down every little thing that bugged me. Having that list has been empowering because I put a big black line through every finished project.

It’s about dang time.

And the clock still reads one hour earlier than it really is, but I put that item on the list. I’ll get there eventually.

Since my crafting time has become spackling time lately, I’m expanding Suzy Cucumber to include all the other crap I hack around here. Because being handy is a craft too.



Thursday, February 13, 2014

Quick Cutting a Monogram Valentine

sc monogram valentines

What kind of Valentine do you give a 20–something? As long as it contains money or food, I don’t think it matters that much.

Since my first inclination is to craft what I need, I used my new–found Adobe Illustrator skills and quickly designed monogrammed Valentines for my kids.

SC d heart

Part of the reason I want to improve my Illustrator skills is that I can open the files in Make the Cut software and then cut out my design on my electronic cutter.

sc d mtc

I find the whole process amazing. I once cut out a huge, intricate love knot for my parents using a scalpel. My index fingertip was numb for days.

sc j mtc

It literally took me minutes to design and cut out these two flat Valentines for my kids. I popped the cutouts from the background papers with foam dots. Don’t worry kids, money is attached.

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!



Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Book Lover’s Dream with a Free Printable

The bargain book sale at the library is like Christmas to a wannabe librarian.

$3 for a paper grocery bag of books culled from the shelves of five branches along with donations from citizens… oh, yes. They try to keep the shelves organized by genre, but I make my best discoveries by combing every shelf.

(I already have the schedule for this year’s sales on my calendar.)


Digital calligraphy, printing, designing, faux painting, decorating. It’s the best $3 I’ve spent all year.

Inspired by the library–ness of it all, I saved a defunct checkout card pocket and recreated it using my new Adobe Illustrator skills. I also remade a checkout card from one of the many library books I currently have checked out.

I like to loan my books, but I like getting them back even better.

The pocket and card printables are pdfs. Click on the links to download.

LINKS: Library Cards printable and Library Cards Pocket printable.
Library Card Printable   Library Card Pocket Printable

For the library cards, print and cut.

For the library card envelope or pocket, print and cut out. Score all the dashed lines. Fold up the bottom dashed line and crease. Fold in the two side tabs on the dashed lines. Fold the whole bottom up on the middle dashed line. Don’t glue the tabs shut. Glue each tab to the body of the pocket.

Glue the pocket into your book to loan with acid free glue and start your own library.

Suzy Cucumber Library cards

What kind of books would you search for at a library book sale?