Monday, April 25, 2011

Fun with my Silhouette- Back to Craftiness!

Wow, it's been a long time since I have posted here.  Things have been a little bit busy since Christmas, especially with the Disney Princess Half-marathon (Read more here!), but now that things are starting to calm down, I've been able to get back into my craftiness.  To say I've missed crafting would be an understatement - I'm just happier when I have time to craft.

Well with Easter this past weekend, I was tasked with coloring the family eggs.  Now this is a perfect opportunity to get crafty, I mean you can go pretty basic with eggs or you can get involved!  I had an idea to use my Silhouette digital die-cutter to make stickers to use as a dye-resist, kind of like what you do with a white crayon.  I figured this would ensure a pretty crisp image and I was right.  The hardest part? Deciding what designs to use and how big to cut them (just for reference a large grade egg has about a 5.5 inch circumference at it's widest).  I cut more designs than I needed, just in case something didn't work too well.

I used Wilton icing dyes (it was all I has on hand) and they worked extremely well and dyed the eggs quickly.  I hate when you have to leave eggs in the dye for what feels like forever to just get a slight hue.  Here are just a few of the eggs I made that came out just as I imagined.

And here's a close-up of my Brody egg.  I have a 6 month old mutt puppy and this design looked so much like him that I couldn't help myself but make a egg for him.

After the eggs were such a hit, I was on a roll with my Silhouette and decided to finish a project that's been in the works for the better part of 3-4 months.  I bought 4 canvases a while ago with the intent of making some art to hang above our fireplace.  Several designs later, this is what I finally decided on...

I painted the canvases navy blue and then used a few different designs from the Silhouette studio to cut these branches, leaves, and the bird from white vinyl.   Why vinyl for the design rather than painting it?  Well, painting takes forever and I'm too much of a perfectionist, plus if I get tired of the design I can simply peel it off and make something new.  I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.  Now I just need to finish the rest of the decor for the house!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Post-crafting Hiatus- I made pants!

So, I've pretty much been MIA for the last 3 months it seems.  While I've still been crafting, I haven't done nearly as much as I would have liked.  So, what have I been doing instead?  Well, we have a new furry addition in our home!

Meet Brody!  He was six weeks old when we got him in November, still quite the baby. His mom was a corgi/lab mix and they assumed his dad was a dachshund and chihuahua mix, so that makes him a Corgidor Chiweenie if you want to paste a designer tag on him.  We have absolutely no idea how big he will get, we're hoping in the 20-30 lb range and no more.  He's currently 13 weeks old and 10 lbs of seemingly never-ending energy. 

Now that he's pretty settled and the holidays are over, life is starting to calm down at the townhouse.  Thank goodness!  I'm excited to finally get back to crafting, as my to-do list is miles long and growing every day!  One project I did manage to knock off my list, mostly because it was time-bound, was my Christmas pj pants. As I mentioned before, I have this self-imposed tradition of having a brand new pair of pj pants to wear Christmas Eve into the morning and while opening gifts.  Well, I typically buy a pair every year, but for some insane reason I thought, oh gee, making them can't be that hard.  Again, this was a pre-puppy idea.

On the morning of Christmas Eve, yeah I kid you not here, I sat down and got to work.  I had no backup plan, so if I failed, I would be forever ending my tradition, so I soldiered on determined to make the pants work.  Well, either my brain was fried, or the pattern was poorly written, because I seam-ripped the pants not once, not twice, but three times until I got the construction done appropriately.  This was supposed to be a simple pattern using 4 pieces of fabric....

Finally, once the pants looked like, well, pants, I went ahead and tried them on to fit the elastic in the waist.  Oh my goodness, who designed this pattern?  The legs in the size small pants were like tree trunks.  Apparently this was a unisex pattern, despite the fact that all of the models on the packaging are female.  So, I went ahead and used an old pair of pj pants to mark off a more feminine shape and back to the sewing machine I went.

And, to add insult to injury, I decide to go beyond the pattern and add trim and cuffs to the legs, yeah won't be doing that again anytime soon!

All in all, I'm glad they are done and I really see why a $10 pair at the store are worth it. I will say that I still love the fabric, which was pretty much the reason I decided to torture myself with making them.

Anyway, drum roll please... here's the finish product.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Crafting A.D.D.- This has got to stop

Please tell me I'm not the only one with this issue!  I have serious crafting A.D.D.   For some reason, I have so many projects on my plate right now and instead of finishing them, I keep thinking of new things I want to do and try.

Okay, so here's the current "To-do" list:
  1. Hack my Ikea end tables- I have 4 cheap Lack style tables that I want to put my own twist on.
  2. Sew Christmas flannel pj pants- Personal tradition, I buy a new pair every year to wear on Christmas morning, for some unknown reason I thought, in the midst of everything else I have going on, I'd make a pair, rather than buying them for say $10 at Target.  I really am a glutton for punishment.
  3. Sew quilted tote- There was a pattern sale, I had no intention of making one, now I have the pattern so the next logical thing is to make the tote...
  4. Finish decorating powder room- this involves painting the vanity, framing out the mirror, installing a new vanity light, etc.
  5. Finish decorating dining room - partially done, have to fix the wall where I had to change the mirror hanger position, need new sconces, a vase and some reeds to which I plan to add mini lights.
  6. Make Christmas cards- I've hand-crafted cards for the last, I dunno, 4-5 years, not sure if I should accept defeat and just buy them this year or keep the tradition alive and get back to papercrafts.
  7. Decorate for Christmas- I have absolutely no holiday decor.  Part of me is thinking to get the bare essentials to make it through this year and then stock up after the season when everything is discounted.

So, what are you tips for conquering crafting A.D.D?  Or am I doomed?  I'm thinking of "forcing" myself to pick one project and finish it, just to start.  I just hate the thought of "forcing" though, shouldn't crafting be more natural?  I think having so much to do is just overwhelming me and instead of tackling it, I avoid it.

Maybe I should take a day or two off of work and get to it! 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veteran's Day!

I love Veteran's Day! It's one of those few days a year that people think, I mean really think, about the men and women who serve our country and allow us to maintain the freedoms we take for granted.  

I was fortunate to grow up in a military family.  No, it wasn't always easy, but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.  My dad taught me at an early age to respect our country and what it stands for. 

This is one of my favorite pictures of my dad and I, so I thought I'd share it with you today.  My dad served in the US Navy for 25 years, rising to the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer before he retired.  Now my brother has followed in his footsteps and is making his career in the Navy.  I am so very proud, and lucky, to have these two wonderful men as my family.  

On this Veteran's Day, I'd like to say "Thank You" to all the men and women serving in our wonderful country's armed forces and also to their families!  God bless you all! 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fleece remnants = Easiest dog toys

I happened to visit a local chain craft store twice this weekend (yep, I think I spent more time there than at home this weekend, oops).  On my second trip I was actually there for a specific item, but ended up wandering past the remnant bins and a few pieces of fleece caught my eye.  The remnant bins can be incredible if you're there at the right time.  This particular store offers 50% off of the current sale price per yard on the remnant, so you can sometimes get it ridiculously cheap.  The only problem is that you really don't have a wide selection.  If you're not particular, you can really clean up.  Let's just say I walked out of this craft store paying $8 for over 4 yards of patterned fleece. Score!

One of the prints I bought was a brown fleece with light and hot pink dog bones, from which I knew I'd make the easiest dog toys I have ever seen.  Basically you tie three or four strips of fleece together, braid them and tie the other end off.  Presto- easy and instant dog toy.  My parent's doxies are chewers and I knew these would be a great addition to their collection, especially because it was so cheap if they demolish them and they can also be washed if needed.

I started by cutting 4 strips of the dog bone print and 2 strips of a plain brown fleece, my strips were roughly 2 inches wide.  By folding the material in half, I really only had to make 2 cuts from the patterned and one from the solid, great time saver.  Once you're done cutting the strip just snip across the top to make the individual pieces.  The best thing about these dog toys is that your cuts don't have to be perfect, the braiding will hide any imperfections.

Once the strips were cut, I layered them and tied off the one end.  I somewhat tightly braided the strips and when I had about 6 inches left, I tied off the end.  The last step was the cut the ends of each strip in half to create more fringe.  That's it, about 10 minutes and I was done.  The girls got them on Sunday night and absolutely loved them.  It's great that you can get them a toy that will entertain them for less than $4.  I also made a fleece pom-pom but my camera battery died before I could get a picture of it!

So, why was I at the craft store in the first place?  Well on Saturday I found a really cute flannel print and decided that I am going to attempt to sew pajama pants. You see, I have this personal tradition over the last few years of buying a new pair of flannel pj bottoms to wear on Christmas morning, only after seeing this fabric I decided to attempt to make them myself.   I don't typically do apparel construction, so this is new territory for me. (I'm hoping that I don't think at the end of this that I should have just bought a pair at Target for $10 and been done with it.) Stay tuned to see how this turns out!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Cake Cookies

I have an addiction from which I never want to be reformed - I love pumpkin and anything pumpkin.  Unfortunately, there was a shortage of pumpkin earlier this year and, as a result, all of my local grocery haunts had empty shelves where the pumpkin once graced.  To say I was sad would be an understatement...  Well, we finally have pumpkin back in stock in the Pittsburgh area, so I have now stocked up (there is a case of pumpkin in my pantry, I shall not be without again!)

So, while at the store the other day, I picked up a package of Betty Crocker Pumpkin Spice cookie mix with the intent to not follow package directions and instead use a Weight Watchers trick and add a can of pumpkin puree to the cookie mix.  Yep, no eggs, no butter, no water.  Just cookie mix and a can of pumpkin  How easy is that?  And it's somewhat healthier to boot.  (Now mind you, if you want crispy cookies, this is not the route for you to go, by adding the pumpkin your cookies will be more of a cake consistency.)

Mixing takes a little bit more elbow grease to get everything incorporated.

 Once out of the oven, they sat for a bit to cool.  Here's a tip, however you drop the cookies on your baking sheet will be what they look like once cooked.  These cookies do not expand, so if you want a round cookie take the back of a spoon and in a counter-clockwise motion smooth the cookie out to a thinner and rounder shape.

 Mmm, marshmallow cream, cream cheese, powdered sugar, a tiny bit of unsalted butter and pumpkin pie spice!

A couple of the finished cookies, so yummy and they aren't lasting long!  The mix only made about 3 dozen, and after some taste-testing by myself and the boyfriend, as well as giving a bunch to my parents, there's probably 18-20 left. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Yes, even dogs need clothes...

A few months ago, my parents adopted two very adorable dachshunds - Latte (a tan long-haired) and Madison (a smooth pie-bald).  The are total sweethearts and goofballs at the same time.

Well, as it's gotten colder over the past few weeks, the girlies have really been affected.  When you only weigh 10 lbs, I guess that's to be expected.  So I started to look around for something to keep them warm.  Yep, I bought them clothes...  But hey, at least it's not like we're playing dress up for kicks, their clothes serve a purpose.  I ended up getting them both hoodies- look how cute they are!

Unfortunately, the way that doxies joints are, these two tend to pull their front legs out of the "arms" in the hoodies.  They'll work for keeping them warm, for now, but they definitely needed something sleeveless.  Let me tell you, I definitely learned that there is money to be made in dog couture.  Some of the stuff I found was absolutely outrageous, I mean come on, a bikini for your dog?  Like that is at all necessary.

With the amount (or lack there of) of fabric required to make dog clothes, you would probably expect they aren't that expensive.  WRONG!  Even the simplest of dog coats that I found were upwards of $30-50.  There was no way I was spending that for a coat I wasn't even sure would fit the girls correctly.  (Dachshunds have longer backs and most dog clothes are made for an average length back, typically 4-6 inches shorter than the doxies.)

So, I'm sure you know where this is going- if I couldn't find what I needed already made... I would make it myself.  I just so happened to be at a local craft store while they were having a pattern sale.  Now mind you, I did not go to the craft store with the intent to make the dog coats, I was actually there picking up stuff to refinish this bench. Anyway, I noticed the pattern sale and, for giggles, decided to see if by chance there was a dog coat pattern.  Bingo!  So for $2, I walked away with two sets of a fairly simple pattern.  Why did I buy two sets?  Well, most patterns include multiple sizes, which I needed, but they overlap the pieces rather than nest, so by cutting out one size, you make it impossible to cut out anything else.  Advanced seamstresses use tracing paper and the nine yards, but for a buck a pattern, it wasn't worth my time.

Next decision was fabric.  The pattern showed a cute hounds-tooth (haha, get it?) and sherpa selection.  Eh, I wasn't about to spend a ton of money on coats I wasn't even sure the girlies would keep on.  I, instead, opted to buy a no-sew fleece blanket kit.  Let me explain my rationale here: fleece by the yard was on sale, sure better selection, but it would have cost me more money and yielded me less fabric to go that route.  By buying the no-sew kit I had 2 coordinated pieces of fleece and enough of it to make 3 coats, or in my case extra in case I screwed up.  Think outside the box sometimes, it can save you money!

An investment of about 3 hours of my time and I had two cute fleece dog coats, a small and a medium, with straps that looked like they'd fit a horse.  Who's dog did they measure these things for? So, despite finishing the coats off with a top-stitch and pressing them out, I knew I'd be seam ripping them to correct the length of the straps.  After fitting them on the girls, I had to shorten the straps by about 4 inches each (see what I mean when I say dog clothes, and patterns, were not made with a dachshund in mind?)

Regardless, the finished products are uber-cute and the girlies love them.