Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Crafty Quote for the Day

"One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries." A. A. Milne

I just "re organized" my craft room...I found this very appropriate.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Crafting: Hostess Apron

Only one last minute project this year: a sweet hostess apron for my mother (isn't she adorable folks?). The woman has everything so I always opt for completely frivolous gifts and I think this one qualifies! After all, it was her who always said "something made is always better than something bought."

I used Butterick Pattern #4945 but changed it up so the apron would be reversible (and I wouldn't have to do any stupid hemming...I HATE hemming and Christmas is just not the time for stupid activities you hate).

The concept was a little something she could throw on when company comes and she's doing the "around the kitchen" last minute preparations. She refers to herself as the "Queen" so I knew I needed a 50s vintage photo of a beauty queen with a silly saying. I used Avery transfer paper and the eyelet stitch on my machine. There is just something about turqouis and red together that I can't escape!
Anyway, here are some silly pics of it. I had to try it on and I actually think I'm going to make one for myself because I never make anything for myself. Merry Christmas to me!







Friday, December 26, 2008

Crafty Quote for the Day

"My recipe for life is not being afraid of myself, afraid of what I think or of my opinions."
-Eartha Kitt

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Eco-Chic

The latest and greatest...I needed a break from the linen sampler. This is what I came up with:


It's a (reusable) grocery tote that I've been meaning to make for a long time. But today, I thought of a great slogan (I'm not the first to think up said slogan, so technically, that's recycling) and then designed something to hand embroider. And all the materials came from my stash (reducing)! HA! Take that three R's.
I used muslin and a heavy weight interfacing to give it some shape. The inside and straps are the same green cotton eyelet I fell in love with over the summer and hadn't gotten around to using. I just think that the satin stitching on the leaves turned out really well. Hooray for a productive evening!
***Side note: Now that our "Fred Friends" $10 dixie swap is over, I can say that this is what I made it for. I added in a 6pack of Sam Adams Winter Lager so the men in the group would want it too! I can't help but think that with a $10 limit, what is better than craftiness and beer (except for the iTunes gift certificate that was "stolen" at least 5 times).

Mele Kalikimaka!




Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Linen and Me: A One Act Play

If you'll recall...I wanted to try a stitching project using linen instead of Aida. The following is a recap:

Meghan: #$#@#!! WHERE ARE THE SQUARES!!!??!!?
Chad: What are you talking about?
Meghan: The #%&^$* squares that everyone said I would "see" after a few stitches.
(Chad looks up from his carnage infused video game at Meghan like she has lost her mind while she dramatically rips out stitches)
Meghan: @#)$(#$(* it.
::Later that Evening::
Meghan: What if I did a row of half X's and then doubled back to finish them...would that be easier? Yeah...that could work.
(Chad doesn't look up from his video game because he knows what's about to happen)
::Minutes Later::
Meghan: %#*@)* I'm going to bed.
AND END SCENE

I did try again and after a few nights of working I'm ADDICTED. It's a slow process but I'm improving and by gum if it isn't about 1000 times prettier than stitching on Aida. If you need help "seeing" the squares or figuring out a technique that works, check out this site...it helped me a lot.
And don't forget, cursing loudly makes you feel better and really infuses your piece with love and positivity. @@#$#%!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Crafty Quote for the Day

Alina Fleury: "Fun for us is a yard of fabric and a bottle of liquor."

So true....

A Very Little Christmas: Go Nuts!








When I told Chad I was making soap for Christmas gifts, he caught the DIY Fever! We found a recipe (his grandparents) for candied pecans and his mother (THANK YOU KATHY!) sent us 10lbs of fresh pecans from his aunt's pecan tree in Alabama.


Let me say that I hate nuts. I think that nuts should stand trial for the corruption of innocent baked goods. But that's because I've never had a fresh pecan coated in holiday cheer and sugary deliciousness. And super cute in a mason jar tied with a ribbon. The project was a success!


So, my dear readers...think outside the box when sending Christmas gifts. We may not all have the hook up for fresh and delicious pecans, but check your local farmer's markets. Or even better, find a family recipe that you remember from your past. Chad and I spent a delightful Sunday together creating something that was meaningful and representative of him, his family and his background. And they're darn delicious too!




A Very Little Christmas: Soap Making Extravaganza

Oh Martha Stewart Living....your glossy pages of crafty wonderment suck me in every time.

I decided that out of all the goodies in the magazine I wanted to try making soap. The instructions are a basic melt and pour...the supplies are available at your local craft store. (PS...I heart AC Moore. They post coupons on their website and I never pay full price when I visit on a Tuesday...I am a marketing executive's dream).

Hours and hours later, a friend and I had made three different kinds: lemongrass, eucalyptus, and Martha's suggestion, peppermint. As you can see, we took the layering idea and ran with it. The peppermint ended up looking a little more like 1-2-3 Jello, but that's okay. Wrapped up in some cellophane and presto! You have a pretty inexpensive gift that took effort, time and thought.

So very important: Martha, while magical and the queen of all things crafty, sometimes lies (I like to think her interns lie and imagine what a better job I would do if employed by Martha Stewart Living). The directions said the soap will "pop out" of the mold. Yeah, that's a total lie. If you use a loaf pan as directed, freeze it after the soap dries....and then you need to use an ice pick to free the chunk o' soap from the frozen pan and then a knife to "trim" the sides to make sure it doesn't look like Freddie Kruger broke into your kitchen to wash his blades before shoving the bars down your throat and muttering "You're all washed up, kid."

So here's a better idea, invest in some soap molds. The lemongrass bars I made in a cupcake pan and my god they are cute...and pop out much easier. But I do not suggest the loaf pan or anything Pyrex.

After it's all said and done, soap making is a lengthy process and we all know how I feel about lengthy processes. But considering I now have kitchen shelf devoted to the left over glycerin base and all the fragrance, I will be trying again. Stay tuned kids!






Monday, December 8, 2008

A Very Little Christmas: Origami Paper Crane Ornaments

I love trees decked out and overflowing with holiday goodies. But since we aren't buying new ornaments, it's time for some creative tree decorating ideas.

The paper crane is a very traditional shape and perfect for filling in your tree's bare spots. The crane also symbolizes world peace along with the Japanese legend that states any person who folds 1,000 gets a wish. Very holiday-ish I think.
If you want to spend money on origami paper, it is available at craft stores. I like to use regular paper or even magazine pages for a glossy, eclectic look. The only thing you NEED is a square. Animated directions are found here.
Definitely experiment with the sizes of paper. While the larger cranes look great sticking off the edges of the tree, the smaller ones are too cute nestled in the branches. I like to follow the "odd" rule. Everything looks better in odd numbers.

I also thought of making a wreath out of brightly colored cranes placed snuggly together. Use a foam form and attach your little winged friends with a stick pin. Maybe next year :) Happy Folding!

Friday, December 5, 2008

My Latest Obsession: Samplers

It started with a good friend of mine, Claire, who had an excellent idea before I was engaged. She wanted to write a book for brides (I will not reveal her idea, because it's too brilliant. You'll have to wait for it to be written) suggesting a hobby/something to obsess about instead of weddings. When I started losing sleep over a coconut cake vs. a fondant cake (they were battling it out in a celebrity death match) and thinking of contacting the florist again to make another change to my already insane "vision", I realized needed a more time consuming craft.

I'm a big fan of quick projects because I distract and get bored easily (we all have our faults...this is a judgement free blog). Which brings me to stitching. A little embroidery here and there I can crank out in no time. But counted cross stitch was my very first craft that I abandoned for it's utter lack of instant gratification. But being un-gratified until March sounded like a good idea to me!

So what would be worth the work and look nice on display without being annoyingly country and sap-tastic? Vintage and Colonial Samplers! And so the madness begins.

Chad's reaction: What's a sampler? Why does it have an alphabet? I don't get it.

I tried to explain and realized I didn't know much about them either. Apparently, samplers have been around since the 15th or 16th century. Back in the "day", there were no printed patterns, charts, or companies devoted to creating kick ass busy work. So instead, women would see something and say, "That's totally awesome. I would like to stitch that" thus making a mini version or Sample (see how it's all coming together) of a previously stitched original. Eventually a woman's cloth of samples became a beautiful showcase for alphabet styles, motifs, borders, flora, fauna and her voice. (WARNING: Hot second from getting philosophical about crafting). I like to think of these as the socially acceptable art form of the past. It's not like we were encouraged to write, speak, be educated or think. But stitching? Totally cool. It's like every sampler from back then is a symbol of a woman's individuality that she was otherwise forced to keep to herself. Geeking out crafty style right now.

So I bought a chart and have been working every night since Tuesday. I chose to stick with Aida (the kind of material that has pre "punched" holes for the thread and much more affordable than linen). I'm totally intimidated by the thought of using linen because it's flimsier fabric and therefore my stitches look wonky and awful. But after I finish this one, I'm moving on to another (an AMAZING love/wedding sampler) that requires linen for the different stitches. Eeek! I'm sure I'll have another "When Keeping It Crafty Goes Wrong" entry for you...stay tuned.

Chad is worried all that will be hanging on the walls is alphabets, birds, funny little stitched people and houses. I promised I would only take over one room...or maybe two. The best news is I haven't changed my mind or over-thought the wedding one bit since I started. I feel productive and let's face it, there's nothing sexier than a woman who rocks the domestic arts!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Very Little Christmas: Fabric Bookmarks

Yeah, you can get bookmarks at the bookstore. Or you could just grab something laying around...but really, where is the fun in that?? I got super excited about these and the best part: they took no time.

These are for my Secret Santa exchange at the office. She loves to read and thought something made is much better than something picked up at a store within our $10 limit.

After some experimentation, I found the finished bookmark should measure about 2.5 inches x 8.5 inches. I always add an 1 inch for seam allowance so the fabric should be cut into strips of 3.5 x 9.5 (so each side will have a .5 inch allowance). I loved mixing and matching all my old fabrics and especially dug the idea to quickly stitch her first initial on one. And you HAVE to top stitch these otherwise they do not lay flat and you lose the more "polished" look.

Practicality was my biggest challenge (as always) and I had to remember these are meant to go between the pages of a book, so less is more.

There is nothing like a project that leaves so much room for creativity and personalization. And I'm thrilled my photos are getting better!


Have Yourself a Very Little Christmas

I'm the same as a lot of people this year: a giant retail induced Christmas is just not possible. Chad and I made the decision a month ago to forgo the traditional pile 'o loot under the tree to focus our resources elsewhere. We've coined the term "A Very Little Christmas" in which we only use the decor we already have, make small tokens of appreciation for the ones we love and plan to spend Christmas day enjoying each others company.

So play along for a minute while I share an idea. One of my coworkers came up with a "Cookie Exchange" that has become an office tradition. Everyone bakes cookies, brings a to-go box and we exchange. Simple, yes. Brilliant, definitely. Budget friendly? Absolutely!
I also thought this is a great idea if you have a large group of friends and family. Think about hosting a Cookie Exchange and providing cute little to go bags as favors, playing Christmas music, maybe having a little eggnog and placing the event close enough to the 25th so everyone leaves with snacks for their holiday guests. There could even be a score card rating for each cookie with a small prize for the winner! If you're looking for a cheap solution, stay baking related and give out a cookie cutter.

Now to the fun part: Making invitations! Emails and Evites are nice, but there is something about attention to detail that people love. I used Microsoft Publisher (my favorite computer program EVER) and Voila! A little token to hang on people's doors to get them in the spirit. If I was doing this for friends, I would have used felt to make the cookie and attached a cute print out with a safety pin. But for office use, I thought this was perfect.
Check out it out!

I am really starting to love the idea of doing a "Very Little Christmas". After we made the decision, I felt so much better. Like I can really enjoy this time of year without the "buy something!" stress that commercial giants put on us. When it really comes down to it, do any of us really need the STUFF? I think most will answer no...it's the people we know and love that make the holidays special. My Christmas will be small in scale and big in meaning.


Stay Tuned for more "Very Little Christmas" ideas!


Monday, November 24, 2008

Slacking

It's been too long. I have not been posting because I have not been crafting which is very sad. Why? I'm a total slacker...and because of this, I'm excellent at coming up with excuses why I haven't done jack. I thought I would make a list:

1. My fiance's schedule has changed which has completely thrown me for a loop. He's now home the same times I am and I can't help it...I'm a total sucker for that man.

2. After the "Baby-Palooza Craft-a-thon" I have outfitted my new niece Darcy with bibs, booties, a lovely Little Bo Peep doll (her room is sheep themed and I thought she could use some help keeping them in check), a turkey dress, 101 onezies, burp cloths and a tutu. I'm pooped and in need of alternative inspiration. Chad suggested college football (Roll Tide) but for some reason a hounds tooth ball coozie doesn't seem very practical.

2. I was kidnapped by wolves. Thank goodness they spared me my thumbs. Go ahead and laugh, but just try to thread a needle without 'em.

3. Halloween 2008 = Sad Face. Our annual party had to be cancelled with the promise of a 2009 return. Until then, all of my ridiculous costume ideas are filed in the part of my brain that resembles a Broadway show on acid.

4. The cats ate my crafting. Stupid Kitties.

5. Work. I work because I think I would hate crafting if I tried to make it a living out of it. I admit, I need to keep my day job.

6. "The Dress." I ordered my wedding dress back in May. From May until September I anxiously awaited it's arrival (I ordered from a picture so I didn't actually see the dress in person). What I didn't realize was all that angst + new job + new house was manifesting itself in the size of my ass. September the dress was here with no intention of fitting around the extra 15lbs. So I joined a gym and have been working hard....I can't say enough good things about Curves for those of us challenged by the concept of gym equipment. 2 months later, the dress fits. It's not cute by any means and I could literally drown in my own cleavage, but I have some time. Go me.

7. I had salmonella and SARS (aka a stomach virus and cold that I diagnosed myself! Thank you WebMD).

8. I have always liked football, I just never had a team to root for. I have been adopted by the SEC and I have to say I look super cute in Crimson (see #1).

Monday, October 20, 2008

DIY Date Night

I am marrying a man with the best sense of childlike enthusiasm ever. My life is awesome.
World, meet Chadson. This is the man who was going to take me out on a "suprise date" one evening. All he told me was that we were going to be outside. The clouds looked ominouswhen I was driving home from work and he greeted me at the front door with disappointed look on his face. The original date was going to be a riverside picinic for dinner and watching the sunset over downtown.
But with the rain, my superhero of a fiance came up with another (dare I say better?) idea. When I walked upstairs, the tent was out, there were weenies on the stove and all the fixings for toaster oven smores. His replacement date of choice was our very own "Living Room Camp Out".
We set up the tent, watched scary movies, ate pimento cheese sandwiches along with our weenies and enjoyed each other under the "stars." Well, under our ceiling, but we used our imaginations....I highly recommend it :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Gooble Gobble Turkey Dress

I swear I make things other than baby stuff. But recently I've been consumed with the cute and tiny. Also, I saw my new niece smile for the first time!! It was via Pic Messaging because I still haven't officially meet the little darling, but still very exciting!

Really I finally have an excuse to execute all the nutty ideas that keep me up at night. This one turned out pretty well. Darcy has been given lots of "holiday themed" gear...Easter Dresses, 4th of July dresses, Christmas dresses, Halloween onesies, etc. So I was trying to be different and since Thanksgiving is a huge deal in my family, why not make a turkey dress?

I had a really great paisley print that was ever so autumnal and the best part...it was already in my collection! No trip to the fabric store needed....well at least for fabric. I did take full advantage of a giant pattern sale...you can't beat patterns for 99cents!


This particular pattern also gave a guide for some sweet embroidery which I will probably use at a later date. The whole thing was just too "typical baby" and I wanted to make this a little funkier...my sister and her husband have a great appreciation for the unusual. They love me after all! I will say that the jacket was very easy, but the dress was a super pain.
My favorite part was creating Mr. Turkey. I'm getting better at applique on my machine. This is the first project I've done in a while that has actually turned out right...after the great coat disaster of '08, I've been doubting my abilities. I'm pretty pleased with this though! I just hope it fits my tiny little niece!






Monday, October 6, 2008

Top 10 DIY Halloween Costumes in the Past 5 Years

I love Halloween. Back in college a friend of mine reminded me that homemade costumes, no matter what your skill, are always far superior to the overpriced "bagged" costumes you have to buy in a crowded store.

In honor of one of my favorite holidays, I thought I'd put together a list of DIY ideas and photos of costumes I've either made or had the honor of seeing friends make. Nothing like being resourceful!


10. Fred and Barney....Not because these costumes are especially well made or anything (they are literally hot glued together). But LOOK at these guys. Could they be more perfect for the role??


9. Indiana Jones....my brother did this without much cash. Just one trip to the army supply store and he was Indy. I think he may have gotten the jacket at Goodwill, but regardless, it was awesome. I handed him the "idol" at the last minute....it's a cocktail glass from a sushi restaurant.


8. Mrs. Mia Wallace....my good friend Rachel was sooooo perfect! A trip to Kmart, some fake blood and a little baking soda, she was ready for Jack Rabbit Slim's twist contest.




7. Elvis....The King never goes out of style! I will admit that the jumpsuit came out of a bag. However, the cape I made from a large photo copy of the real thing. And you can ALWAYS addmore! For example, the belt was kind of cheesy, so some chains from the hardware store and some extra rhinestones in the shape of an eagle and it looked much better. And the hair? That's all his....I do love a man who isn't afraid to commit! (P.S. He's going to marry me. No really people, he is!!)






6. Girl Jumping Out of a Cake....2 cardboard boxes, some pipecleaners, a sheet and a roll of double sided tape. Just don't try to get in and out of a car.



5. Peggy Bundy....She bought the shirt at Target NOT in the costume aisle. Rachel is a great example of how you don't need to buy an overpriced costume even if you don't know how to sew. She is a MASTER at putting these things together!!


4. Optimus Prime....He made this with spray paint, duct tape and a fantastic sense of humor. I was so impressed when he actually TRANSFORMED on my living room floor!



3. Team Double Dare....such a great Throw Back! I think he actually did his own artwork on the shirts, but this was a great couple costume with little needed!


2. The Pink Flamingo....I mean, who doesn't want to cover themselves in hot pink and dance around on one leg all night? I did actually make the dress, but the feathers were hot glued on and the headpiece was made out of cardboard and a headband. My favorite part? Goodwill seafoam bridesmaid shoes that I transformed into feathery flamingo feet...thank you hot glue, thank you!


1. The Asian Lettuce Wrap....my brother's girlfriend at the time wanted to be this for Halloween but had no idea how to do it. Again, I am always completely pleased with how anything I make out of felt looks when it's finished. The obi is constructed withbrocade and some interfacing...The "lettuce" is felt with flimsy green organza top stitched on in the likeness of lettuce leaves. She put chopsticks in her hair and looked AMAHZING!!



I hope this helps get some creative juices flowing...and just think, it's only for ONE night/ONE party/ONE time. It doesn't have to be constructed perfectly. Use everyday, mundane objects and you never know what you'll end up with!

When Keeping It Crafty Goes Wrong

I am a Coat-A-Holic. Which, in my head, meant I should try my crafty hand at sewing one.

I had it completely figured out. I found fabric at the store the other day and thought, wow...that stuff is AMAHZING but what would I ever use it for? On the way home I thought, YES! It would be a coat! Perfect! So I researched patterns and found the perfect one(Butterick B4665)...and magically, the pattern was on sale for $1.99. This HAD to be karma and divine intervention from the powers that be. On a side note, the pattern is fantastic. I highly recommend it.

My problem came with the fabric. Again, I knew what I wanted but I failed to check the price tag. The dream fabric could be all mine for $25.99 a yard. I needed 4 yards and thought: for $100 and hours of labor I could make a trip to Tyson's and buy a coat.

So instead, I spent 2 hours in the fabric store deciding on an alternative. I knew I wanted it to follow my "PrepClectic" sense of style: One that has about a 3 in 5 chance of going horribly, horribly wrong. Not great odds in my closet.


So I picked a houndstooth-esque print. My fiance is a Bama alum and HUGE fan...I thought it would be just perfect. I wanted it to be light blue with red buttons and a red lining (it's my favorite color palette right now...I blame Sophia Coppola's Marie Antoinette and this dress.....drool.)


I'm in line for the cutting table, two elderly ladies behind me started just gushing over the bolt like it was their first grandchild. That should have been a clue. So I got home, cut it out and constructed the outside and holy hell....it's ugly. I mean looks like I stole it off a bag lady kind of ugly. I didn't even have the heart to put the lining in! It turns out the "light blue" is definitely seafoam green against the cream background. So with the red it gives the effect of a Christmas elf booted from the North Pole because it wanted to make fashion not toys.

I do however want to salvage the project. I bought some cool brown zebra print thinking it would make a good lining....so perhaps I can pair that with something a little less Dorothy Gale on the Crack Brick Road.




Yikes.











At least it's keeping Taco warm....bad taste kitty! Bad taste!