Monday, May 18, 2009

Birthday Tote/Guestbook

Another birthday and another fabulous party!! My friend Sarah had her 5th 25th birthday this weekend and celebrated with a giant moonbounce in her backyard! (Never under estimate the power of a moonbounce on "adults." I use the term loosely.)

So as a gift/memento of the occasion, I crafted her a tote bag!
So here's how you do it:
  • Buy a blank tote available at your local craft store. You can also make a tote as I did for my bridesmaids' but actually, I like this a little better (sssshhh, don't tell).
  • Find an appropriate photo by doing my favorite thing: A Google Search! This one popped up and it was perfect for the party beat out a picture of a really creepy guy lounging in a moonbounce (my quote for that was going to be "Who invited him?")
  • Add a quote. I like to use this vintage typewriter font I found and downloaded here.
  • Make a publisher file. I love Microsoft Publisher and could find 8million ways to use it. For this, it's great for arranging your "artwork."
  • Print art onto transfer paper. You can get this at craft/office supply stores. If you're transfering onto dark fabric, be sure to get the paper appropriate for your project. Since this was light fabric, I had to mirror image my art and words (VERY important and spelled out in the directions that will come with your paper.)
  • Finally, use your creativity to add a few little goodies. In this case, the transfer was not a 100% the buttons were not just a cute addition, but also the perfect way to hide my boo boo.
The markers were a happy accident...I found them at Old Navy and they are specifically for writing on tees, totes, jeans, anything fabric related. So everyone signed and now Sarah has a tote and guestbook from the super fun night!
Happy Birthday Sarah!

Quick Gift for our Four Eyed Friends

I made one of these for my grandmother years ago and it recently she needed another. You can buy glasses chains, but beading is such a nice break from real life. You get to play with sparkly things and it doesn't take too much time. Also, they are very popular with the ladies in her I'm sure you have someone in your life who would like one!

I get my supplies from Beadazzled in the DC area...if you're ever there, these shops are amazing and worth a visit! My good friend Chelle works at the Tyson's location and makes the most amazing jewelry and also teaches lots of classes. Visit her!

The Cheater Quilt

When I graduated from high school (yes that's me above), my grandfather knitted me this blanket to take away to college. He taught himself to knit years before and for my very special blanket, he used a picture from a coloring book to create his own pattern of Tinkerbell (brilliant, right?). I was the 2nd grandchild to receive one (my older sis got a Pooh Bear 4 years before) and my brother received the last (Cleveland Indians...Wahoo Wah!)

We have since lost my grandfather to Alzheimer's and he is always missed and remembered fondly as an amazing man. Perhaps I connect most with his creative abilities. He was a Marine who taught himself to not only knit, but to play the piano and paint. So I wanted to carry on this special tradition. Knit, I cannot....but quilt? I could try!

So as a gift for the first high school graduate in my family since my brother in 2001, my cousin is getting this: I dub it The Cheater Quilt!

I had the best intentions to piece and quilt but am under a bit of a time constraint and trying to actually quilt with my machine proved very difficult. But with practice I will get better. So instead, I made the front one color (fabric A) and the back another (fabric B). I had to do the math (I consider myself a "word person" and I had multiple trips to the fabric store) with 44" wide fabric I got 4 yards of A and four yards of B. I split both fabric A and fabric B into for pieces measuring 22"x72" and stitched them together to create a front and a back that measured 88"x72"....almost exact to the 72"x90" twin batting! Very important....get a good iron and press your seams. It just makes everything lay better....sewing 101, I know.

So actually quilting this thing was not easy and after attempting one 9" design I was done. Instead, I tied little hot pink ties all over the top and it looks quite cute! To do this, use a tapestry needle and yarn...make sure the knots are square knots!! Otherwise with wear and tear, they'll come undone. For those of you who did not spend years in the girl scouts/boy scouts/traveling the world on a sailboat, learn to tie a square knot here.

Once all the knots are tied, it's time to bind. I needed 2.5 yards of fabric C to make sure the binding was without seams. I split the 44" fabric into 8 strips of 5.5 inches each. With wrong sides together I sewed them into 4 strips and then folded them in half again. Lay all layers of fabric and batting inbetween and stitch. I actually stitched the bottom and the top of the binding...again, it just made for nicer finishing.

For the initial block, I traced a computer print out onto fabric C and hand embroidered using a back stitch. The block was then stitched on using a small zigzag stitch on my machine. The effect, I think, is quite cute. I'm sending it to Cleveland tomorrow and I can't wait until she gets it!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Using Microsoft Excel for Crafting Purposes

I may just be reiterating things tech savvy crafters already knew. But I was so excited I figured this out and keep thinking how handy it will be for all KINDS of different projects.

I wanted to make a computerized grid without spending loads of money for a new program. With Excel it seemed easy but there was some math I had to figure out. In Excel, the size of the "cells" are preset when you open the program. The size can be changed, but it's not as easy as setting the Row Height to 5 and then the Column Width to 5. No no...excel recognizes the width of the column by how many letters can fit into the slot so making it the same "size" as the row height isn't gonna do much good.

The way I figured it out was the Row Height has to be an incriment of 5 and the Column Width is the division of the Row Height by 5...make sense? So if your Row Height is 30, then 30/5 = 6...and your Column Height becomes 6. Tah Dah!!!

So here's a little tutorial to explain exactly how to make this magic happen:

First, select all the cells in your book. To do this, click on the cell to the Left of the "A" and above the "1". Your entire sheet should turn blue like so....
Next, go to your top tool bar, click Format. On the drop down menu, select row and click on "Height." A box will appear and you select your number (remember to make it one divisible by 5!) For this one, I chose to make my Row Height 15.

Next, repeat the same steps for Column by going to the FORMAT option on your tool bar, selecting Column and selecting width. Imput the correct width...for example, as above I chose 15 for the height so therefore the Column width would be 3 (15/5 = 3).

When you're finished you will have a graph...which as you see below, I have used to help visualize a quilt I'm going to attempt. As with every graph, each cell/block is equal to a certain measurement. I did this to help myself figure out how many 9" quilt blocks I needed for a twin quilt. And to be honest, I wanted to play around with some different color combinations. All of this can be accomplished with the color fill button. And the great thing about Excel is it even has the option to throw in some patterns!

So my other thinking is that with this program you can plot cross-stitch patterns, create other tutorials (which I plan to do in the future!) and in general be a crafty nerd! Woo Hoo!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day (or any day) Corsage

We were lucky enough to have my parents visit for this Mother's Day....that's them above! Instead of going out for brunch (it was also the local University's graduation weekend = madhouse at all local eateries), Chad and I cooked up a lovely brunch complete with mimosas, eggy goodness and key lime cheesecake I baked myself!

On a side note, my mother is really the one responsible for my crafting. She taught me how to sew when I was a kid, signed me up for arts and crafts camp, encouraged my wacky creativity and gave me my first (and only) sewing machine. So thanks Mom!

We completely forgot to get her flowers, so I had to improvise. Some ribbon, a good tutorial and a little imagination later and voila: A lovely corsage for momma!

I think I will promise to start doing my own tutorials...but truely the link above is where I learned this fun skill. It's really perfect for making brooches or even a whole bouquet as shown. If you like crafting with ribbon, Offray's main "How To" site is also really wonderful. Enjoy!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Derby Day!

Who doesn't love a good hat? My dear friend Alina and I got together this past Saturday to share some beverages and craft....we made mint juleps and watched the most exciting 2 minutes in sports!

My hat was vintage that I purchased years ago for a high school play. I hadn't done much to it since then and thought it was a great excuse to give it new life! I used tulle and handcrafted the flower. I think it turned out rather lovely!

We did not have a pre-existing base for Alina's hat, but as we were watching the Derby coverage she was drawn to the smaller, chic looking ones. I found a shoulder pad in my crafting stash that would serve as the perfect base. She looked lovely!
Next year, I'm throwing a derby party....this was too much fun!

If you'd like to take a look at some AMAZING "Hat Porn" check out the Kentucky Derby's Official site and their Hat Parade!