Friday, May 14, 2010

A Just Plain Fun Mother's Day

I always love my Mother's Day gifts, but this year's gifts were especially fun.  Since I have a deep and abiding love of glittery hanging things, one gift was this awesome star with iridescent rays.

It's hanging over my elliptical trainer so I have something attractive to look at while suffering exercising.

Then there is this bright, blingy stained-glass peacock mobile that matches my denim furniture.  So he's at the other end of the sun room.

I also got a new member for the rubber duck collection!

He quacks and gives off a blinding blue light! (I found out about the blinding light the hard way.)  I'm torn.  Part of me wants him with my keys and another part wants him with my collection:

This picture reminds me that, once again, the sewing room clutter is getting out of control.  And thinking about the sewing room reminds me that I got Martha's new book!

(That's my rubber duck on the cover not Martha's.  Somehow I just know she's not a rubber duck collector.)  There are tons of project ideas in the book.  The problem is deciding which I want to do first.  Check it out here.  It is an incredibly nice book for the price.

And last but not least:

Not one but two Dunkin' Donut gift cards!  I love their coffee but feel guilty spending two bucks for a cup of it.  This should keep me in guilt-free coffee for quite a while.

I hope you all had a fun and blingy Mother's Day as well.

Home-made Produce Bags

Wisdom of the Moon had a tutorial for these bags on her site in January.  Since I had an overabundance of voile from making draperies, this project had to happen. 

I so wanted to do the cute little vegetable stamps Wisdom had on her produce bags!  Unfortunately, I could not find a single veggie stamp anywhere.  I finally gave in and got an alphabet stamp set instead.  I cannot--absolutely cannot--stop experimenting.  While I wish I had just gone with the nice simple, "fruits and veggies" lettering on all the bags like this center one,  I did not.

I had to keep adding more

and more, until I just got carried away.  This one ended up looking like something Jackson Pollack would have done if he had been on crack with nothing to express himself but a set of alphabet stamps and a rainbow ink stamp pad:

Cashiers (who usually seem just a bit annoyed to be dealing with my many different sized cloth bags anyway) are beyond speech when they get this bag.  They just sort of hold it up to me as though they don't know whether they should pay attention to what is in the bag or on the outside.  I don't use it unless I really have to. 

All in all, the bags are exceptionally easy to make and work well.  I used round elastic cord for most of them and textured ribbon for one.  Both of these work fine.  I think Wisdom of the Moon used string.  Give them a try, but go easy on the stamping.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Crafty Giveaway from In the Next Room

In the Next Room is having a giveaway to celebrate a new degree and opening an Etsy store.  Take a look at it here--lots of fun, crafty items are included.

Fabric Matching Games ala Chez Beeper Bebe

Chez Beeper Bebe has a tutorial for making matching games from fabric that inspired my attempts.  I have the worst time sticking to directions.  I always end up venturing off the path to try some new idea.  These have numbers of changes from the very nice ones on the tutorial.  So here are my three versions.

This first one has farm animals to match up and a bag that closes with a button.

I used the same fabric for the bag lining and the backs of each piece.  For all three sets, I sewed around the square leaving an opening for turning and to stuff in a square of batting.  I hand sewed them shut and sewed in about a quarter of an inch around the outside to stabilize the batting.  This is a picture of the bag closed.  I used a loop of very thin, rounded elastic (I can't think of the right name for it now) sewn into the back top seam of the bag to pull over the button which is sewn  a few inches down the front center of the bag.

Since I had enough animal prints to do another, I tried out a new bag design.

For this one I tacked the ribbon to the back with a few stitches to keep it from getting lost.  I did the bag as two long strips sewn together leaving an opening for turning right side out. Then I stuffed half of the bag to the inside for the lining.  I made the strip just a tiny bit narrower at one end so that the lining end would fit in nicely.  Since I forgot to put the fabric picture on the front before sewing up the bag, this one just has the picture held in place on the bag with double-sided iron-on.  There is no finishing stitch around the edge of the picture.  The button bag has the edges sewn which I would prefer.  However, I don't think these kinds of things get used heavily enough to make much of a difference.  Here is the bag with the pieces:

The backing is the same as the other set.

I found another great fabric with musical instruments that I thought might work for this project.  I should probably have looked for a fabric that would work with the browns/tans instead of the black I chose for the bag and backing.  It's a bit drab for kids, but here it is:

I tried a drawstring for this bag.

I squared off the bottom of all three bags by sewing triangular corners and serging them. 

I really can't decide which bag I like more.  The drawstring and ribbon will probably travel better.  The button one, though, has the advantage of providing the wee ones with some eye-hand coordination practice.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Super Giveaway to Help a Handsome Little Man

Six-year-old Liam has Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2.  His mom, with the help of over 50 artists, is raising the money needed to remodel Liam's bathroom with a fantastic giveaway.  Stop by here to find out how to participate.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The new clothes line aka manufactured wasp nesting sanctuary

I finally replaced the clothes line (aka clothes tree or clothes umbrella in some parts for the universe).  The old one was, well, old.  Then, the tree limb fell on it.  I followed all the directions putting it up.  I even used a level to be sure the base was straight.  And:

It's a little crooked.  It looks better from this view.

I got it at Home Depot.  This one-and-only-model-available is strangely short.  To use the inside lines, I need to bend down.  My last one was taller.

My  real concern is that there are rows and rows of holes in the  pole.  You push it up like an umbrella and it falls into a set of holes.  I understand that some people might not be strong enough to push it up really tightly and that the plastic lines might loosen over time so that you could push it up another notch.   Consequently, it is reasonable to have several sets of holes to accommodate these circumstances.  But the majority of the center pole IS holes.  I started counting them but stopped at 43--yes,  there are more that 43 sets of holes on the center pole.   In my neck of the woods, that qualifies it as an official wasp nesting sanctuary.  I have a sinking feeling that I will be battling the little stingers all summer.  A few years ago I had to tape over holes in the base of some new patio chairs that were attracting the wasps.  Taping up 43 plus holes multiplied by the 3 sides would be a monumental task.  Besides, I don't relish looking at peeling tape for the next ten years. It's annoying enough to keep up with the tape on the chairs.

Lesson learned:  If you're buying something for the yard, make sure the wasps are not going to like it as well.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The laundreary room (no, it's not misspelled)

You may have a laundry room, but I have a laundreary room as in:

I made that sign a while ago.  It's not that I hate doing laundry.  I just don't find it all that interesting or fulfilling. I find it dreary.  I've gotten better at it.  I seldom have things shrink or colors run.  I always check the pockets carefully.  Cell phones are small, expensive to replace, and don't work at all after being agitated in sudsy water for 20 minutes.  I shake each piece out before putting it in the dryer rather than grabbing the big ball from the washer and tossing it in the dryer.  It was years before I figured that one out.  I do love to iron, but nothing is going to take the wrinkles out of twisted synthetic material that has been in the dryer for 45 minutes.

I blame the appliance manufacturers for the laundreary problem.  Laundry machines are boring.  Where are the fun gadgets?  Where is the music, video, touch screen?  Why can't the detergents and softeners be dropped in every few months and dispensed automatically?

And timers!  What are the manufacturers thinking??  Timers are boring at best.  More often than not they give off some ear-shattering noise akin to the sound one would expect from a high strung ocean liner.  Have the designers of these machines never heard any pleasant sounds that might attract us to the laundry room in a peaceful manner rather than in a frenzied rush to stop the horrific noise?  How about a pleasant vocal  recording that announces that the laundry is ready to be dried or folded?  I think my dryer has the same sound device used in World Ward II air raid horns.  Consequently, I don't use the timer and usually forget to take the clothes out until the laundry has cooled down and the wrinkles are set.  It's a good thing I like to iron.

I guess my laundreary sign is going to stay until manufacturers give us something more innovative than a window in the front of the machine.