Monday, October 25, 2010

I am slowly going crazy

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, switch
Slowly going crazy, am I?
6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Do you ever spread yourself so thin, you wonder how you haven't blown away like a leaf? I'm having one of those months, years, life times. I love being involved and having a lot going on, but things have been getting a bit out of hand. It's really no one's fault but my own.

Moral of the story? I don't have much time for this post, but I wanted to show a picture of my completed Ursula costume. I am pretty happy with how it all came out.
The dress is a summer one from Old Navy that's too long so I've only worn once. I thought the white vine design sort of resembled seaweed. The tentacles are made from triangles of sparkly purple fabric, black cotton and one layer of quilt batting. I sewed them right onto the bottom of the dress - I'll just cut off the inch or two that I sewed them to, then hem to the length it needed to be in the first place. I connected the tops of the two tentacles in front and two in back right to the dress. The left two and right two tentacles have ribbon loops to go over my fingers, so they move with my arms. As we were outside and it was windy, I put on a shrug too.

The eels are felt. I just made elongated ovals and sewed them together like a single piece of an Amish puzzle ball - 2" seams inside-out so I could make their fins. I curled them up and tied them with a rubber band for the week so they stayed that way when I attached them. Then I used a Sharpie to make eyes, nostrils and a mouth. They are attached from the inside with safety pins too.

Shell necklace, crazy makeup and half a can of Auqas Net later, I'm Ursula!

What do you think? 

We are having our Halloween party on Saturday and I think I am going to skip the hair thing this time. It is so gross to have that much hairspray and white coloring in my hair. I was impressed that I retained that volume the entire night!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Winter warmers

If you've noticed my Flavor of the Week pics on the right sidebar, you've probably figured out that I am obsessed with cute things that will keep me warm during Iowa's brutal winter - especially in gray. I try to avoid the outdoors as much as possible between November and March, but I still freeze inside. At the office, it's the worst. My hands freeze while sitting at the computer all day. Solution? Cute, fingerless gloves in soft gray that match everything.

I haven't crocheted in a really long time, but it seems that I still know what I'm doing. I just made these up as I went, trying them on frequently.

I want to keep these at work, but I am wearing them as I type this and I am realizing I'm going to want a pair for home too! Now I have to decide what color to make those.

What do you think? To add a bit more interest, I did a triple crochet row every third row and I added the small tabs with cute buttons. Both of those details are rather hard to see in the pictures though.

They aren't enough to make me wish it was winter, but they make me dread the snow just a little less.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tattered Halloween Curtains

After I put up the Halloween decor, my cheery yellow kitchen curtains were looking a little out of place. I was going to sew some tattered curtains but I don't have a lot of extra time these days, so I opted for the no-sew version.

I made them out of crepe paper - although Martha recommends black trash bags. These babies cost about $1.50 for two medium windows! Tear off strips in varying lengths. Wrap around your curtain rod, forming a loop, and Scotch tape on the backside. Then stretch out the sides of the paper, alternating sides and spacing. Be careful not to tear them completely in half, but I just left any smaller tears because I think it makes them look more worn and creepy.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Halloween math

2 fat quarters
+ 1 free pattern
4 Halloween treat bags!

These are so cute, I can hardly stand it. They were super simple to make too. The fabric is Boo to You by My Mind's Eye. The pattern came from the Fall 2010 Quilts and More magazine.

They are just the perfect size for a gooey popcorn ball and a few pieces of Halloween candy. I've made 12 now but I want to make more by Halloween because I have a few trick-or-treaters in mind that will be getting these. I cannot believe it's October already!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Benefit for boobs

A couple of weeks ago I was asked by the local Torrid store if I would be interested in donating a gift basket for a raffle at their event to benefit breast cancer. With about 300 things on my plate right now, I figured what's one more? Plus it's a great cause.

The event is called Breast Cancer Can Kiss My Booty and it's this Saturday (October 2nd) from 3 to 7pm at Jordan Creek Mall in Des Moines. They are going to have window models, a runway show, swag bags, a raffle, snacks, karaoke, and door prizes. If you're local, I hope you can find time to stop in. They will also have $15 off any pair of jeans when you donate $5 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

In my gift basket/raffle prize I included two different sets of Halloween wine labels, a set of creepy jar labels, a set of four spice jars with Halloween labels, a tote, a set of Boo frames, and two tiny treat bags (post on these to come soon!). Total value of almost $65! I'd be excited to win it, so I hope others will be too!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

For the birds

The new Halloween decoration showed up in the mail this week! It's a vinyl wall decal.
I apologize for the horrendous photos. My camera sucks.
I bought this one from Byrdie Graphics on Etsy. I cannot say enough nice things about them or this graphic. The shipping was super fast. The directions were clear and the application took only a few minutes. The result is great! I'm so happy with it!

I leaned my decorative ladder against the branch and added a couple of feathered crows to the rungs. I think the whole thing looks fun together and goes great with my Edgar Allan Poe display.

The cats, however, are not that impressed with the fake birds. Alven has been swatting at them since they went up. They have already been moved once because of him and I imagine Winston will be even worse once he notices them. Ah well.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Little House of Horrors

It's no secret that Halloween is my favorite holiday because it's all about fun with no obligations or pressure, until you become known as the Halloween Queen in your circle of friends. Then the pressure is on to have the best decor and costume, but I still love it.

When getting out your holiday decor takes the same amount of time as watching two and a half Halloween movies, it can be a daunting task. With the help of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Hocus Pocus and about half of Bram Stoker's Dracula, we got them all out last night. It's official, we need a bigger house or less Halloween decor. Since a bigger house isn't in the cards for a while, I made a bag for Good Will. It's sad, but past time.

The newest display of Halloween fun came without a single new purchase! It's Edgar Allan Poe's writing desk. I got the idea from a magazine and ended up having everything I needed.

The clock normally hangs in the living room and the framed "chalkboard" is actually a frame I had with black fabric inside and the "chalk" is white paint right on the glass that will easily come off after Halloween. The candelabra is from Good Will a few years ago.

The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (with dust jacket removed), plus a couple of antique English  literature textbooks and a pair of unused glasses set the stage. The skull just adds a bit more creepiness.

The recently acquired typewritter was my grandparents' and the old photos are actual relatives - great, great grandparents I think. I was going to start typing The Raven, but Terra had a better idea and suggested using The Shining instead. Now the paper says "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," over and over again. What do you think? I really love it.

One more display to show you quick. Most of the items pictured are from Good Will or the Salvation Army including all the candlestick holders and candelabra, the lanterns on the top of the two shorter bookcases and the pedestal bowls. One can of black spray paint later, they fit right into the Halloween display. The books are all books I own and have read with titles like Murder, Entombed and Shadows. Remove the dust jackets and you've got a creepy library going.

I've ordered one new decoration from Etsy this year and I'll post pictures once it arrives along with a few of the other displays in the house and yard. Happy Haunting!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pins around the rosies

As I mentioned in the last post, I decided to make myself some cute and functional pincushions to replace my old, ugly and generally crappy ones. Here's part two: a comfortable wrist pincushion that protects your arm from getting poked.

Again - this is a pseudo tutorial - not super detailed, step-by-step, but enough to get the job done for an intermediate sewer.

For the flower: You need two 3.5ish inch circles. (I used the lid to a jar of peanut butter to make the circles.) Plus a decorative button and coordinating embroidery thread.
1. Sew the circles together, right sides together, leaving a 1" hole.
2. Turn, stuff and hand sew closed.
3. Thread a long piece of thread from the bottom, looping around to the bottom again and pull tight to create some pucker. Repeat 4 times until you have split the circle into quarters. Repeat, splitting each quarter in half so you have eight "pedals."
4. Sew button to the top center. 
Winston, my "helper cat" immediately thought this was his.
For the wrist band: You need a 2.5 inch wide, 20ish inch long piece of felt, a Cool Whip (or similar) plastic lid and a 1.5 inch piece of Velcro.
1. Fold the felt strip in half. Sew both long sides. Turn right side out.
2. Cut a 2" square out of the plastic lid. Snip off or round corners. Insert the plastic into the wrist band and center. Sew a seam on either side to hold in place.
3. Flip in open end and sew all the way around the wrist band about 1/8 inch from the edge, closing the open end in the process.
4. Sew the loopy side of the Velcro to one end on the top, and the hook side of the Velcro to the bottom of the other end.

Hand stitch the flower to the top layer of felt on the wristband, centered above the plastic insert.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pushing Pins

I've been sewing a lot again and finally got fed up with my pincushions for the final time. I had one of those tiny tomato pincushions with the even tinier strawberry attached to it. My wrist pincushion was an 89¢ Wal-Mart special that typically inflicts more injury than it's worth. So I started scouring blogland and found so many cute, fun and funky patterns that I was overwhelmed. From my research, I did come up with two things: 1. I wanted one HUGE cushion that is stable and heavy enough it doesn't go flying every time I pull a pin out of it, and 2. I needed a comfortable wrist pincushion that I can't accidentally stick pins all the way through and into my arm.

Here's what I came up with to fulfill want #1:

I used some coordinating scraps of Viviana by Lonni Rossi for Andover Fabrics. I wouldn't call this post a tutorial, but I think that most beginner sewers could figure this out. Start with two 6" squares (one each of two different fabrics) and a long strip (about 25" x 3") of a third fabric.
1. Cut the two squares into 4 triangles each (corner to corner).
2. Using two triangles from fabric 1 and two from fabric 2, piece them together to make squares again. Repeat with remaining triangles so you are back with two squares.
3. Sew the strip around one of the squares. Then sew the ends of the strip together, cutting off excess.
4. Sew second square to strip, leaving a 2" hole on one side to turn and stuff.
5. Turn right side out, stuff, hand sew the opening closed and attach a button to the center of each side. Viola!

I really like the depth this has. It all has a weight to it so it stays put. It was quick and fun to make and now I might even pin things I'm sewing like I should!

Stay tuned for a pseudo tutorial for a very comfortable and adorable wrist pincushion.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pretty in Paisley

My friend Rae Lynne of Drip, Drip, Drop and fame, is a self-taught and very talented fabric and fiber artist. She was looking for a new logo, and I'm always looking for trades that get me cute, handmade things without draining the checking account!

Here's what she got:

And here's what I am getting in return (I think - it's sort of a surprise):

I think we both are pretty pleased with the results of our collaboration! What do you think?

What's black and white and FREE all over?

This quilt top that I just finished. Thanks to my friend Meredith who donated all the fabric (except one pattern that was left over from a past Halloween costume) I made this entire quilt top without spending a penny! What's better than that? I have the pieces all cut for a second, similar quilt from all these same free fabrics. So two quilts for the cost of backing and batting. Can't argue with that! I think they will both end up being Christmas presents this year.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'm a quilter!

It's official. I'm 28 going on 68. I finished my first quilt this week and I love it and I loved the process of making it! My grandma would be so proud.
I used 4 smaller prints from Alexander Henry - bats, cats, trees and spider webs. Plus one larger print - The Ghastlies - in 4 different colors. The whole quilt is 88 inches square. Every part of it is my favorite part, but my most favorite part is that it's Halloween but not bright orange and black. At first glance, it doesn't scream "Halloween!"

I am calling my freehand curly-q quilting design "bumble bee" because it looks like the path a cartoon bee would leave behind it. My friend Alisa was nice enough to teach me how to quilt on her mom's long arm sewing machine and we had so much fun! I can't wait to finish the other two tops I am working on so we can do it again.

For the back of the fabric, I used another Alexander Henry fabric with craggy and gnarly owls. The swirly branch lines that the owls are perched on are what inspired the bumble bee quilting pattern.

So what do you think? Not bad for a first crack at a quilt!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It was contagious!

I built a Halloween treasury on Etsy and now I'm featured in 6 treasuries!
They're creepy and their kooky, Mysterious and spooky. They're all together ooky, And you can find them here.

Friday, September 3, 2010

It's beginning to feel a lot like Autumn

Today's high is only in the 70s and the low tonight - in the 50s! To me, that means Halloween! So I created an Etsy treasury that's creepy and elegant mixed with a little fun. Time to start planning a spooky party. So excited!

Monday, June 21, 2010

What I'll do for $100

We bought a new car tonight. Yay for new car. Boo for new car payment. I am sure none of you could care less about that though. The good part of the story is after we test drove it and looked at several other cars, we were walking with the salesman back to the dealership. There was a big puddle we were all walking around. The salesman turns to me and says, "I'll give you $100 off right now if you go jump in that puddle." and then he laughed. So I jumped with both feet into the puddle and made a big splash like a little kid would. He looked at me like I was nuts and then busted up laughing. When he brought out the paperwork, the first discount on the list was $100 for jumping in a puddle. It made me really happy. It's the little things, isn't it?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ghastlies quilt

Remember the Alexander Henry "The Ghastlies" fabric that I wrote about in the My First Quilt post? I bought 8 pieces of 5 different patterns from the line and have started my quilt! I only bought 1 yard of each pattern so I barely have enough to make the quilt. This lead me to be very nervous about cutting it all out, especially the 4 main pieces (above fabric in white, gray, pink and green).

I wanted to be able to get the best 9 squares out of each yard possible, but I wasn't sure how to go about doing that. I found a roll of semi-transparent parchment paper and cut out 9 11" square pieces. Then I could lay them on the fabric and rearrange to my heart's content until I had it perfect. Then pin and cut. It worked fantastic.

I designed the blocks to be super simple, as this is my first attempt at quilting and I don't have a very long attention span for very detailed sewing. Each block only has 5 pieces. I am making 36 blocks, so that was 180 pieces to cut out. It went really fast and I had just enough of each fabric to get the pieces I need. Here they are all cut out:

I started sewing the individual blocks together today and have 8 done. They are going really quickly and I think I'll be done much sooner than I thought! Plenty of time before Halloween.

The final quilt will be 6 blocks by 6 blocks, so 84" square. I love huge quilts. It should look a little something like this (except each center piece will be different instead of repeating the same thing over and over):

What do you think?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I'm back!

Wow. It has been a crazy couple of weeks. Three out-of-state trips in less than 20 days, many birthdays, out-of-state visitors to our house, a near car wreck resulting in a broken out back window and a multitude of other madness have kept me off the computer a lot lately.

I actually don't have time to go over all of it but I will have posts and pictures of Ghastly quilt progress, shopping sprees including new clothes and dishes and more coming soon. I did want to let you know that Staci over at Reyn on Fashion cleaned out my closet for me and wrote about it on her blog. If that doesn't sound like that exciting of a topic to you, you should check it out anyway because Staci did a great job of giving tips she used on my closet (including making a "to buy" list of key garments) that you can definitely use to bring an editorial eye to your own closet. Read the post here.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My first quilt?

Alexander Henry's The Ghastlies

I LOVE this fabric. I have been wanting to buy a few prints from this line but had no idea what to do with it. Last night I decided to just do it and bought a few yards in order to attempt my first quilt. Because of the style of fabric, I am thinking that most quilt patters aren't going to work, so I am going to make it up as I go. Do you quilt? I would love to hear any suggestions and tips you have for a first timer.

You can find this line from a number of sellers. I bought it from Contemporary Cloth.

Friday, May 7, 2010

And the winner is...

Fabulous number four!
Congratulations to Katy from The Country Blossom!

Katy will receive two totes of her choice from my shop. Thank you to everyone who entered and started following this blog and my tweets. This giveaway was really fun and I will definitely being doing another in the future.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sunshine and flowers

Remember that beautiful linen fabric I fell in love with and bought at Mood in L.A.? I wrote about it in this post back in March. It's been sitting in my sewing room, calling my name, but it hadn't told me yet what it wanted to be. Last night (about 10 minutes before the fabric store closed) I finally understood what it was aspiring to be. Curtains for the kitchen! I ripped one of the old curtains off the wall and eye balled it for just a second to get an idea for the construction. Then quickly made a list in my head, jumped in the car and made it to the store in time to get supplies.

I didn't quite have a wide enough piece of the print for both windows, so I decided to buy black linen to make a 4" wide border on both sides. The next dilemma was lining. I was afraid that if I used black, it would make the white flowers muddy and less crisp looking. On the flip side, if I used white lining, I did not want the black borders to appear lighter or less solid black looking. So I decided on gray lining, but was still I concerned that would end up diminishing booth the white and black portions. I posed the question to a handful of friends who sew and Alisa had the answer. Yellow lining! It was absolutely the right choice.

That was a lot of talk about curtains without even showing them to you, so here's one:

You can't see the second curtain (for the window above the kitchen sink) because I can't count. I was thinking I needed to make 4 ribbons for the ties. There are four per curtain though (two on the front and two on the back) so I ran out of yellow linen. The second curtain is completely ready to go, so I should be able to finish it quickly.

I can't stop wandering into the kitchen to admire this one. The camera just doesn't do the floral fabric justice. The gray area is almost metallic without being silvery. Most of the accessories in the kitchen are red. Darn. Guess I'll have to go shopping for new stuff including fabric to cover the dining room chairs!

As I was taking pictures of the one completed curtain, I noticed that this corner of the dining area seems to have taken on a wine theme. It really isn't a deliberate collection and just sort of happened over time. I don't dislike it, but some new yellow things will need homes here now!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mother's Day gift idea

SPOILER ALERT: If you are one of the mom's expecting a Mother's Day gift from me, STOP READING NOW!

Why am I posting this before I give these gifts? Because I think it's a really great idea and want other people to feel free to use it for their moms but it wouldn't be too helpful if I post it after Mother's Day, would it? (Mom, I know you're still reading. Stop now!)

I know both my mom and MIL have had gardens off and on over the years, but neither have had a full garden recently. When I started growing my own herbs a couple of years ago, both seemed intrigued. My MIL asked lots of questions about using fresh herbs for cooking and how to grow them, but didn't run right out to Earl May to pick up any plants. So I got them both a couple of herb plants for Mother's Day this year and planted them in cute ceramic pots. It seemed like a good idea, but then I wondered if either of them would actually cook with the basil, chives and rosemary. Solution? Make fun recipe cards with information about each herb along with a recipe we love to make with each variety.

I thought they turned out pretty cute! I printed them on cardstock and laminated each card to protect them from cooking splatters. I plan to punch a hole in the top corner of each one, thread a pretty ribbon through and tie it around the corresponding pot. Once I get them all together, I'll update this post with a finished picture.

I'd be happy to share these if you'd like to print some too. Leave a comment with your email and I will send you print resolution PDF files.


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