Friday, January 30, 2009

Luv Addict

My sweet, oh-so-sweet sister came over tonight, to watch the youngest monkeys so I could have an evening out with my 3 oldest daughters. I really needed the break! We went to a Family Force 5 concert tonight. . . . loud, fun and clean! This is our favorite song.

My sister deserves a medal. (I love you, sis!)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I miss you guys.

You have no idea.

Monkey 7 was sick -- croup -- last week. Now, little Owen (Monkey 8) has had a nasty cold since last Friday. He ran a low grade fever on Sunday, but none since then. However, he will not sleep in his bed. I think the congestion really bothers him when he's lying down flat. Soooo, I have been holding him, for many hours, night and day, all week. I love my sweet little guy, but enough snuggling already! Anyone want to come over and fill in for a couple of hours so I can take a nap??

I do want to thank Amy at Mia Sophia's Day for her very sweet write-up on my sachets and wool dryer balls. I'm very happy that they worked for you! (Go check out her lovely, and I mean lovely, felt hair accessories and pendants! Her stained glass panels have been a favorite of mine for a long time.)

Also, how about a super-crazy-awesome mention on Montreal's CBC website?

Seriously, I do miss you, and I will be back soon (hopefully) to catch up on all of your amazing posts and stories, and maybe have a post and pictures to share as well. Now, I'm off to bed. . . . Owen is sleeping for the moment.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Make your own paperback wallet!



I wanted to share my tutorial for making wallets out of old paperback books (or any paper media, really.)

This basic wallet was not my idea... the original link does not work (but here it is anyway.) The original design was flawed, and the wallets ripped the first time you opened them. I changed the design, and made them much, much stronger. My own wallet is over 1 1/2 years in use now, and still going strong. Not bad, huh? I don't mind if anyone sells wallets made from this design, just please don't sell my tutorial. If you have any questions, you can post them in the comments below, and I'll try to answer any you may have.

(And let me apologize in advance for the book cover I used in the tutorial. My regular readers know that this is really not my style! I made this tutorial waaay before I started selling wallets, and had just wanted to experiment with any old cover. . . and now I'm too busy/lazy to re-shoot the photos.)

Enjoy!

Gather your supplies:



  • paperback (or other paper media) that measures at least 4 inches wide, and 7 inches long
  • scrap paper for template (cut to 4" X 7")
  • cardstock for interior
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • packing tape (or other strong tape)
  • glue (optional)
  • pen or pencil
  • snaps (I prefer heavy-duty)
  • snap fastening tool (optional -- many snaps contain the tool)
  • hammer
  • clear vinyl -- available on the bolt and in many remnant bins at fabric stores or even Wal-Mart
  • thread
  • tissue paper (optional, but recommended)
  • sewing machine (recommended, but not necessary if you like to hand sew)
Make template and cut pieces:


**Cut a template measuring 4" X 7" from scrap paper.
**Fold template in half across the middle. You will now have 3.5" on each side.
**Fold ends of template in 1" on each end... these will be the pockets. When those ends are folded in, the wallet should measure 2.5". See pic above for help.... I know I don't explain that part very well.
**Using your template, cut out your cardstock interior piece.
**Fold cardstock interior the same way you folded the template. Set aside.
**Now, cut a piece of vinyl slightly larger than the template. Set aside.
**Using your template, place it on your paperback bookcover where you think you will want to cut. Make sure a crease does not cover a face, or major design element. If it does, don't worry. There are ways around that, as I'll explain in the next step.......
Adjusting for creases or too-short covers
**I don't have an action shot of this step, but I do have a finished example. It's easy to figure out, and I'll try to explain.....
**In this picture, the center crease would have been right across Jack London's face, ruining the design. I needed to shift the design down a bit, but the cover would then be about 1.5 inches too short. You'll need to basically extend the cover a bit with some extra cardstock!

**I just took a piece of scrap cardstock about 2" long, and 4" wide. Place that scrap piece on the back of the book cover on the too-short end. Glue the scrap piece to the bookcover, and then reinforce that part with a small bit of packing tape. (Elmer's purple glue stick works great!) Let it dry a few minutes.

**Now, you can cut out your cover using the template.
**Fold cover just like the template.
Place cardstock interior inside cover:
**Make some folding adjustments to the interior if you need to to get them to fit. It's OK (and normal) if the interior doesn't fit exactly inside the cover. Don't worry -- that will be trimmed later.

Reinforce:

**Place a small piece of packing tape (about 1" square) in the center of each end of cardstock and paperback cover. Make sure you put the tape on the back side of the cover! ;)

Place vinyl:

**Place the vinyl on the cover and interior. Place paperclips on each end, on both sides. Don't use pins.

Adjust all layers:

**Just press and work the vinyl (it can be stubborn) and line up the long edges of the cover and interior, and make sure the pockets will fold and lie fairly flat when you close the wallet.

Mark snap placement:

**Using your pen or pencil, lightly press/mark the spot for the snaps on each pocket. It will be in the center of each pocket... 1/2" from the cut edge, and 2" from either side as in the picture above.

Place snaps:


**UNFOLD the wallet, but keep the clips in place, and lay the wallet flat. Don't shift the papers and vinyl around, or it won't fold back up like you had it.
**Place your snaps on your pen/pencil marks according to the instructions that came with them. The business ends of the snaps will be facing up, towards the cover side, not facing the interior side. I hope that makes sense.

Trim pocket ends:

**I don't have a photo of this step, and apparently I forgot to do it on this wallet, but trim the excess overhang of vinyl and cardstock interior to be even with the cover on the pocket ends.

Refold, and replace paperclips:

**Refold the wallet, and replace the clips on each end, but this time, clip the pocket to the rest of the wallet, like it will look when it's sewn.

Sew:

**Sew along the long edge of the wallet, very close to the edge (about 1/8".) Be sure to remove clips as you come to them!
**Repeat for the other edge.
**Tie off thread on each end.
**Trim any excess vinyl or paper along the sewn edges now.

HELPFUL TIP FOR SEWING VINYL:

**If you're blessed with a rolling foot or teflon foot, definitely break it out for this project.
**Otherwise, use a scrap piece of tissue paper (or the paper that the vinyl is usually wrapped in)... about 1" wide and 8" long... and place it along the long edge before you sew, and hold it in place with those paperclips.
**Sew through all layers -- even the tissue paper -- as described in the previous step.
**When you are finished, just tear off the tissue paper. It will come off clean and very easily!

Finished!



Other tips:

**When fitting the cover to the interior cardstock, it's much easier to make folding adjustments to the cardstock interior than to refold the cover, and it's much less noticeable!
**I love the heavy-duty snaps (and they don't tear the paper, miraculously, because of the extra packing tape reinforcements!!) I have also used smaller and decorative snaps, and they work fine, too... they're just a bit harder to set, and mess up a lot more often during placement.
**Old book covers and papers get brittle and soft with age. BEFORE you fold them (as they will just break into pieces) cover the entire backside with packing tape. The paper may still crack when you fold it, but it won't show or fall apart.
**Try different media -- I've made these for artists and photographers, and had beautiful results! Some day, I want to make a wallet from a photo of my kiddos! :)

I apologize if some of my directions are weirdly worded. Please feel free to ask more questions if you need to!

Friday, January 16, 2009

My first craft fair, and a cool mention

I signed up today for my very first craft fair! I had been reluctant to try one in the past, mostly because of the huge fees for some ($250 for the dinky booth) and I would hate to sit in a booth alone. I'm really shy, and it's very, very draining for me to make small talk. (Funny, it's easy here.)

Today, I received a convo from Funky Finds about a Spring Fling they've put together in Ft. Worth. The more I read about it, the more I wanted to give it a try. It seems like a good fit for me -- cool sponsors (Dallas Craft Mafia and Sublime Stitching,) other neat and reputable vendors, a low entry fee, good venue, and not very far from my home. It's also the first year for this event. Some vendors may be turned off by that -- not enough traffic. But this suits me fine for my first try, and to see if I like this sort of thing.

Oh, what about sitting alone in my booth? Problem solved! I invited my sisters to join me in this endeavor, and they accepted. Even if I didn't make any sales, I know I would have a ridiculously fun time with my crazy sisters.

And a cool mention. . . .

Mike mentioned my eco-friendly dryer sachets and wool balls in his recent post, Toss Those Harmful Dryer Sheets in the Trash. I learned a lot in the article -- very informative! Please drop by and pay him a visit. (Thanks for the shout-out, Mike!)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Our gnome comes home, and a blog feature

Our Roaming Gnome, Gerard, has finally arrived from his travels across the U.S. He came home with some neat souvenirs:


And his photo album chronicled some fun adventures:



We are happy to have him home again, at least for a few weeks, before he roams again!


And a blog feature:


This lovely blog featured my sachets! This blog is bookmark-worthy, as she features a lot of really cute Etsy finds! (Thanks, Annemari!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A new ReFabulous product!

We've been working on a new product for several weeks now -- recycled wool dryer balls! These help eliminate static in the dryer, just like those PVC balls do. But this is a natural, eco-friendly alternative to both the chemical-laden dryer sheet and the PVC balls.

These wool balls are taken from 100% wool sweaters.

We carefully unravelled the sweaters (don't flame me, my lovely knitter friends!) and then wound a small, tight core.

I fulled the cores, then wrapped the core with more yarn, until the wool balls are just a tad smaller than a tennis ball. The balls were then fulled again, through several hot washes, until they are partially felted.

We tested a batch of dryer balls in our own laundry, and I have to say that they are effective in reducing static! They are the most effective with cotton and cotton blend fabrics, and the least effective on 100% polyester items. (But then again, commercial dryer sheets aren't that effective on polyester, either.) We used one ball in our laundry, and had positive results. Some people use two or more, and claim even better static reduction.


Our product tester, one of my sweet customers, gave the dryer ball's static reduction properties a 9 out of a possible 10 (1 being no noticeable static reduction, and 10 being the best static zapper ever.) Not bad! She was so pleased with the dryer balls, that she said she would recommend them to friends, and buy more for her own family. (Thanks, Sara!)

Pair these wool dryer balls with my dryer sachets, and you have a natural, eco-friendly alternative that both reduces static and lightly scents your laundry! Both are now available in my shop.

Oh -- and my sachets were on the Front Page tonight!

YAY!


(Thanks, vintagedchic, for including my sachets in your lovely treasury!)

Crafting a Green World feature! and a contest



I'm so excited!!! I was just featured on Crafting a Green World -- what a perfect fit for my shop! You can read the feature here. (Thanks, Becky!)

And a contest:

Singer is sponsoring a Sewing With Nature Contest. The main rules state that the item must be sewn with a sewing machine and be "organic." The "organic" part is open to interpretation, so I submitted my Gathering... Everything tote:

It's completely constructed from reclaimed and rescued fabrics. The leaf appliques were all free-hand cut, then machine appliqued.



The tote is very roomy. While I worked on it, I envisioned family picnics, trips to the farmers market or library, apple-picking. These are all activities that gather loved ones together, while gathering necessities and treasures. Practical and beautiful.

The deadline for entering the contest is February 4th. Oh, did I mention one of the prizes is a new, fancy SINGER sewing machine?!? And be sure to check out the Flickr pool for the entries!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

De-cluttering done, and sewing machine drama

After 8 hours, one trip to Good Will (with 12 garbage bags and 2 large boxes) and several posts to FreeCycle, my classroom is finally de-cluttered! I feel lighter. Only 5 more rooms to go. . . .

Two of the things I posted on FreeCycle were sewing machines -- now on to my dilemma:

I was blessed to have 3 sewing machines: a basic Singer, which was my college graduation present over a decade ago:
and two Brothers, that my sister rescued from the garbage this past summer.

The Singer was my everyday machine. It wasn't the best -- the stitches weren't quite even or perfect (or professional-looking) but it was simple and worked hard. The Brothers, of unknown history or age, miraculously, worked fine as backup machines: I suppose my workload was too much for two of them. My handy-dandy Singer died, just before Christmas, when I had aaallll those sachet orders to fill. Nice timing. One of the Brothers died shortly before that (pictured above.) I prayed that my last back-up machine would last me through Christmas (it did.)

I called our local sewing machine repair shop to ask about service fees. I felt sick when he told me it would be $90, per machine, just to look at them. I'm not sure my Singer cost that much new! So, I offered them through FreeCycle. . . . maybe someone can fix them and get several more years out of them.

Now, what to do? I was going to save up my birthday money, and some Etsy sales, and invest in a new, heavy-duty machine. I don't want a fancy computerized machine -- that's just not what I would use. I want a work horse.

Dilemma solved:

My seamstress sister recommended the Singer HD110, with a commercial grade motor (and 1100 stitches per minute! woo-hooo!) I researched that model, read the reviews, and decided that that was the machine for me. I had asked my father if he could repair my other machines, and he said it just wasn't worth it. . . . and then bought me the Singer HD for my birthday!!!! (I'm excited -- this warrants 4 exclamation marks!)

It arrived just a few days ago, and I finally got to try it out yesterday. Looooove it. LOVE it! It's so fast, and the stitches are just beautiful. It's supposed to be able to sew heavy fabrics like denim, canvas and leather with no problems, so I can't wait to make some new totes with it. Thank you so much, Dad! It's perfect.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Decluttering is scary.

Why, oh WHY did I make this mess? Especially when it was still so pretty?

I'm in the midst of decluttering -- one room at a time, as the experts say -- and things look grim. Please tell me things look worse before they look better.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A surprise in the mail

My Etsy friends are some of the sweetest people I know. Really. Look at the surprise I got in the mail the other day:


My thoughtful friend, Milly, made this for me. So incredibly soft, and really long -- it's double-wrapped in the photo. I just love it! Owen loves it, too. He kept petting and snuggling it all day! We're expecting another cold front tomorrow -- perfect timing!

Milly is also our Etsy Texas Crafters street team leader, and works tirelessly to manage (corral?) over 600 members. I don't know how she does it! And this is in addition to running her own lovely shop, Thistlecraft. Please drop by her shop sometime and see her unique recycled CD cards (and so much more!) Thanks so much, Milly!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

FreeCyclin'

Have you tried FreeCycle yet?
I have a few ideas for some picture frames, so I jumped at this offer when I saw it! Most of the frames are wood, so they'll take some new paint very well. Yay for free!

About FreeCycle -- it's free to sign up, and then you'll get emailed some listings for local people who want to give away free stuff. You can get rid of your junk/stuff, too. (This was great when we moved -- I got rid of an old swing set, grill, and bed.) It's pretty hassle-free -- just set stuff out on your porch, and the claimer comes to pick it up! Sure, you could try to sell your stuff on Craigs List, but I like the whole recycle/repurpose aspect of FreeCycle. Check it out!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Even MORE exciting news!

I was just chosen as one of Craftster's Best of 2008!!! WHOA!

My catnip mice tutorial was chosen for the Home Sweet Home category, for Pet-Related crafts! YAY!
I can't tell you how honored (and unworthy) I feel. There are so many fantastic artisans that contribute freely and generously to this amazing community. Please check out the other winners here, and see the incredible talent of my fellow Craftsters! Congrats to you all!
And if you're not a member of Craftster yet, what are you waiting for? Come join us!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ask me anything, and some new pincushion love

I'm so super-excited about this, I had to tell you right away! I'm being interviewed over at Craftster, one of my all-time favorite sites! So if there's any crafty-business-thing you want to ask, or just read what others ask, pop on over here!

And speaking of Craftster, did I tell you I've caught the swap bug again? "Oh, no," you say. Oh, yes. I'm organizing (and swapping in) Another Pin Cushion Swap and helping organize the Embroidered Valentine Tea Towel Swap -- my first tea towel swap! And I've also joined the Tiny House Swap -- how fun! (I'll pass along some pics and links to the galleries as soon as they're available.)

And about those pincushions:

I just made this pincushion for a custom order last weekend:

I love how it turned out! (I'm really loving the light blue and red together.)

And I brought this one out of retirement, in preparation for Valentine's Day:

This one is really a lot of fun to make, and I've made them in different color combinations, too.



I was inspired by the Katamari game my kids and I used to play!

I'll catch up with you tomorrow or Thursday with some more goodies! I'm planning a tutorial on my paperback wallets very soon. . . . .

Sunday, January 4, 2009

It's back!

Ohhh, I'm so excited! Buyfabricsonline is now carrying the rumored-to-be-discontinued blue Viva Frida fabric again!

I had to order up a bunch (well, as much as my paypal account would allow) so I can have a nice, safe amount on hand for all my sewing needs. In the photo above, the color isn't really that blue, or flat. It has more of a green tinge to it, almost an aqua, like in the photos below. The colors are much richer. I'll probably be making another one of these, as this was my all-time favorite tote, and this design/style has sold out right away both times I made one:



I also think I may make myself an apron from this fabric. And, if I can dig up any, I may use some of that flat crocheted-type "lace" as a trim. I can never find anything to do with lace, much less the crocheted kind (so I hope I haven't given it all away,) but I think the handmade-look of it, and its texture, would be perfect for this project!