Saturday, February 27, 2010

Seasonal Decor Blocks

**For more fun ideas, check out post 2 when you finish reading this post!**

These have been floating around the blogosphere for a while now, but it took me a few months to finally pull everything together to make my set. I first saw these when
Little Birdie Secrets posted about them, but I modified it slightly. I
love that you can make up to sixteen seasonal words (maybe more?) with only seven blocks.

I started with a 4"x4" I picked up at Lowe's for a few dollars. I wanted blocks bigger than 1.5". In retrospect, I think the smaller blocks would have worked, but I do like the larger blocks. I found out that I needed to get the lumber when I had my in-laws' truck because the 4"x4"s are too wide for them to cut down for you in the store (unlike the 2"x4"s, etc). I then took it over to use my FIL's miter saw (which I totally covet) to cut the 4"x4" into cubes. It made 19 cubes, so I have enough for another set and perhaps some blocks for my son.

I got tired of waiting for the weather to warm up, so I tried spray-painting them while it was at least light outside even though it was still below freezing. I don't recommend it.

I wanted a combination of colors that would be neutral while allowing me to combine them with seasonal specific colors, so I went with black and ivory. The first coat was a very minimal coat of black just on the edges.

I probably could have gone darker. Live and learn. The next 18(ish) coats (reminder: I
really don't recommend spray painting when it's freezing outside) were Krylon Ivory. When I finally decided it was enough and that I should just decide to like the texture and grain of the wood showing (which didn't take long; I do like it), I sanded them all down. I sanded a little extra on the edges so that the black would show through a little.

I used my MIL's cricut to cut the letters out of plain black scrapbooking paper. At first I intended to use vinyl, but I decided I was too cheap). I bought some mod podge to see what all the fuss was about (I know, how can I call myself a crafter? thankfully I saw the error of my ways. Mod Podge does rock). I attempted to accomplish a slightly more whimsical (pun
definitely intended) effect by varying capital with lower case letters and the letter thickness from block to block. This is the result:

I think that I do like the result of the varied letters. I haven't decided where to put the blocks, though! They look awful on my white mantel, but the living room furniture is in flux right now, so hopefully you'll see them soon (with other seasonal decor!) on a bookcase or end table.

This is the list of letters you need for each block (borrowed from Little Birdie Secrets):

Block One: H Y E D
Block Two: A C R S
Block Three: R P E T
Block Four: V N L O
Block Five: E O M D
Block Six: S M K I
Block Seven: T F B W

And these are the words you can make:


I'll be posting to the parties listed to the left.

**edited to add: I got to looking at this list last night and realized that if I add one more block, I can make 4 more words. Adding a block 8 with the letters U A G L, you can make the words Lucky, Love, Santa, and Glory. Can anyone see any other words we could make with those 8 blocks? Maybe one that uses all 8?

**another edit: also posting to -

Monday, February 22, 2010

Crazy Nine-Patch Quilt

By following this tutorial from Oh, Fransson! I was able to turn this pile of loveliness...

...into this fun and quirky crazy nine-patch quilt top (please ignore the mess. and the awful picture. which I blame on the bad lighting in my office/craft-room)...

...that I have no idea what to do with OR which print to use for the backing fabric. On the plus side, that's a lovely dilemma to have. But any suggestions? It's on the smallish side (42"x42"), which could make it a nice throw. Should I keep it all for myself? Or hope that one of my preggo sisters-in-law has a girl so I can use that delicious pink swirl minkie loveliness? As I said, a lovely dilemma.

Also, please take a moment to admire the gorgeous mitered corners:

I can't find the tutorial I saw MONTHS ago that showed how to do these, but I'm so glad I remembered the gist of it. If someone knows where it is, please leave a comment so I can give credit where credit is due. Or even just a similar one, so we can share the joy.

**Edited to add that I'm linking to these parties:


St. Patrick's Day Wreath

Remember this wreath?
What do you think that wreath has in common with this wreath?

They're actually both THIS wreath!

When I finally got around to it, I took down my valentine's wreath and in about 2 minutes had the boas and felt unpinned and stuffed into a gallon ziploc bag:

That ziploc bag is the whole motive for this wreath - VERY minimal storage during the other seasons. I may be singing a different tune when I try to refluff all that in a year, but until then, so far my plan is working perfectly. :)

So how did I turn my plain wreath into a St. Patrick's Day wreath? First I gathered about nine yards of 3"-wide green fabric (I happened to find a twill that was a shade of green I liked, but just about any cotton would work). I blogged in more detail about my extremely accurate gathering process here. I also grabbed a spool of green tulle. I wanted some of the fluff that the valentine's wreath had but less diva-ish.

My first step was to gather the tulle as well. I just gathered until I got bored and then started pinning it onto the wreath. When I ran out of length, I gathered some more. To pin it on, I started on the back side and just pinned in a zig-zag around the wreath:

When I got back to where I started, I continued the zigzag pattern but in the bare spots between the previous zigzag. Like the technical explanation? I hope it makes sense. So this is what I had when I was finished with the tulle.

I then grabbed my gathered 3" cotton and began pinning the same way I pinned the boa and felt for the valentine's wreath:

THIS is the monstrosity that resulted. It's TERRIBLE! I thought it looked like iceburg lettuce which is NOT the look I was going for!

But it was late, so I slept it off and the next day (or two) decided to try a change of tactic. I unpinned the cotton (which took about two minutes), and started pinning it down in the same zig-zag pattern I'd used with the tulle. When I finished, I was MUCH happier. But it still wasn't enough (sorry, I forgot to take a picture). I grabbed a sheet of cheap green felt (none of that expensive wool stuff for me), and cut it into triangles 3" wide and 4" long (or so). I then used a pin along the short end to do a kind of "running stitch" like this:

Then I pinned it tightly into the bare spots:

Which then looked like this:

I then used some of the tulle to hang it from the wreath hanger so that it was in a more pleasing position on the door. No other rhyme or reason.

So for the next few weeks, my changing season's wreath will be all-green for St. Patty's Day, but I've got plans for a quick costume change after that, so stay tuned!

Linking to these parties:

The Girl Creative

The DIY Show Off




Someday Craft's Whatever Goes Wednesday


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gathering on the Fly

When I posted my how-to for my valentine wreath, I had a comment that some pictures of the gathering process I used would be helpful. There are a LOT of tutorials in the craft blogosphere for gathering fabric (in fact, Disney over at ~Ruffles and Stuff~ just posted about a fantastic one today!). But this is how I do gathers when I'm in a hurry AND it doesn't matter if they're not too consistent. If I'm gathering for aprons, for instance, or throw pillows or ANYTHING where I need the resulting length to be specific, I use a different method. Maybe I'll post a tute for that when I get around to making some throw pillow covers!

But when I'm gathering for something like my wreath project, where I can afford to just wing it, this is the fast-and-dirty method I use for gathering.

First, cut your fabric into strips. Lately I've been favoring this tutorial. Jona wrote it for binding, but I use it for anything that I'll need a long thin strip for. That way I don't have to sew a bunch of strips together. Her tutorial is specifically for a fat quarter, but I've used it for a fat quarter, a half yard, and a half cut vertically from a whole yard. Her instructions are very good with great illustrations, but if you have any questions, feel free to ask me. This is the nearly nine yards of 3-inch-wide fabric I got from my whole yard cut in half vertically (so, essentially a fat half?).

So, once you have your strip of material, pick an end to start with and do a few back stitches. I'm not sure why. My mom just taught me to always start and stop with back stitches. :)

Next, use your fingers on the material on either side of the presser foot to scrunch the fabric in front of the presser foot toward the needle:

Now you can sew three or four (or more) stitches to feed that gathered section through the presser foot.

Now do the next few inches:

This is what it looks like after just those two steps:

Rinse, wash, and repeat. This is what it looks like after you've done a few feet:

Once you get into a rhythm, this is a nice quick way to gather on the fly! Please ask if there's something here that's unclear. I'm new at writing these tutorials, but I want to get better!

Teaser: This is the material for my Valentine-to-St.-Patty's-Day wreath transformation which I will try to post about tomorrow.

*Edited to add that I'm linking to these parties:

The Girl Creative

The DIY Show Off


Tips & Tricks

Friday, February 19, 2010

Felt House-A-Long Week 1

For Week 1, I sent out a plea yesterday on my family blog for some creative ideas for my planning, and I'm SO glad I did! I got such fantastic feedback. Shown below are the sketches I'm mostly settled on for my felt playhouse. I reserve the right to make changes, of course. :) Some of the great ideas I haven't incorporated for simplicity's sake, but I might change my plan as I go.
The front is fairly simple. A circular window (I'm deciding between mesh or just an opening), a door with door frame (I wanted some type of awning, but opted for something less involved), a porch light (does this look silly? should I try for a different style?), and a mail slot. I haven't decided if it will be open to deliver "mail" into the house or just into a mailbox. 1207 is the month and year we got married. I considered using Lincoln's birthday, but I want this to be something future chillins can use and love as well.
The left side has a fairly simple window. I love the shutters and I'm considering making then "hinged" so they can open and shut. Since right now I have a boy, I'll just put greenery in the window boxes, but if a girl comes along you better believe some velcro flowers will be added.
The chimney is a combination of two suggestions. I'm going to applique most of the bricks to a "grout" color, but I'll leave several of them to velcro on when he's in a building mood. I doubt I'll do anything spectacular with the grass. It's mostly just there for color.
For convenience, the window on the right side will be the same as the window on the left. Again I'm debating on how to do both the shutters and the "glass." This side will have half of a tree with various fruit (probably apples, pears, peaches) that can be velcroed on and "picked."

The back is another place where I got some fantastic suggestions. Besides the other half of the tree that started on the right side, I'll have a "sliding glass door"(though I confess I'm not sure how yet - it might be a "storm door" instead), and a faucet and hose! Lincoln loves laces and strings (and cords, he's starting to say "no-no" and shake his head when he sees cords), so I think this will be a lot of fun for him. But does that look anything like a faucet and hose storage? Any suggestions on how to improve it? And the porch light is the same as on the front, with the same questions for feedback. :)

As far as supplies go, I think I need to hit Hancocks again. I already have 2 yards of gray and 1 of black (they are really wide, so I think that should be enough). But I still need to get:
at least 1/2 yard of red, cream (or a different shade of gray, for the grout), and green (I think I have all the brown and yellow I'll need.)
I will also need to wander until I find something that speaks to me for a hose and a door handle
iron-on numbers and letters

I have no illusions. I'll probably end up making many other trips for things I've forgotten. If something jumps out at you, please let me know!

So, that's my plan. I'd love some feedback, and I can't wait to see what everyone else is planning!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Dresden Plate Bag?

Meg over at Boutique NutMeg Designs just blogged about winning this giveaway which is why I discovered THIS bag:

I love it! Something like this is the perfect solution to getting my feet wet before tackling an entire Dresden Plate Quilt. It's possible that I'll rush home and get started. Unlikely, but possible.