Tuesday, September 27, 2011

pretty pink cashmere cardi

Did you read the article in today's Times about women and coffee consumption and depression?  I did, with a cup of coffee in hand and a smile on my face.

For those of you who haven't had a chance to look at Debra Immergut's and my new blog, Improv Diary, head over for a very easy tutorial on making the above cardigan.  It took me 15 minutes to make out of something I simply never would have worn otherwise.  It is very pink and pretty.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

two bits of news

I have two fun things for you to look at today, if you have a minute.  The first is over at Sew Mama Sew, where I am a guest blogger and have posted a great little hooded tunic project for you to make. You can even see me modeling as a coy little riding hood type, only with more "facial character", if you know what I mean.  Oh well. Age smage.

The other things is this: Debra Immergut- my pal and co-author and senior editor at Family Fun Magazine (so often she is my boss too)- and I have started up a new blog called Improv Diary.  It is really new and just has a few posts currently, but keep checking in.  It will be a great extension of our forthcoming book with Storey, called Improv Sewing: 101 Fast and Fearless Projects (May 2012).  We will post thoughts and tutorials and things we like that express our love of the improvised and the creativity that comes from freeing yourself up to work with what you've got. And, Debra is a great writer and simply a pleasure to read.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I actually *HEART* polymer clay

As a Family Fun Magazine craft developer, I have had plenty of opportunities to handle all of the crafting superstars- pom poms, pipe cleaners, puffy paint, felt and craft foam (I do not heart craft foam). The material I have been most surprised about loving, however, is polymer clay- brands like FIMO and Sculpey, you know the stuff. It is so easy to make cool things out of it and if you have an extractor fan, you can ignore the fact that it is a plastic and probably not actually a good thing for the air quality of your home when your baking it (or outside, when it is extracted).  So, ignoring that successfully, I would like to show you this lovely cuff I made.  I also made a little itty bitty pendant for my boy to wear at school so when he is sad (and he has been sad) he can look at the back where it says, "we love you".  He says it looks like I bought it at a store. Charmer.

Wrist Cuff Tutorial
What you'll need:
- polymer clay in a color you like
- a rubber stamp you like a lot too
- acrylic paint
- foam brush or paint brush
- cloth or paper towel
- oven

1. Take a chunk of polymer clay from the pack and roll it out with a rolling pin or jar.  You want it to be pretty thin to achieve the flexibility needed for a cuff.  Let's say, 1/8". I worked atop parchment paper so it was really easy to lift it off when the time came.

Stamp it with your chosen rubber stamp so the details are all there.  If you don't like the imprint, re-do it.
2. Measure your wrist and then cut the clay so it will wrap around your wrist and leave about 3/4". I used a ruler and a craft knife for a nice clean line.

3. Gently peel the rectangle off the parchment so the shape doesn't get deformed and wrap it around a toilet paper tube. Gently press it so it is secure-ish against the cardboard.

4. Following the manufacturer's instructions, bake your cuff.  I took mine out a few minutes early to ensure it stayed nice and flexible.

5. When it is done and cool, apply acrylic paint all over the stamped area and then wipe off excess so it just stays in the impressions.

Isn't that really nice?  It would be fantastic with stamps all over it so there is a lot of contrast, but I really like my umbrella stamp so I used that today.  Make them for all your gals!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Back to School Pencil Case

I have always thought that the best thing about starting school are the new school supplies.  I'm sure I'm not alone.  Right before the start of the year, Ava had her 12th birthday party and since she only wanted to have 4 kids I thought it would be fun to make the goody bags more functional than years past.  And, since the theme of her party was "Japanese cute", these little binder pencil cases were perfect.  I swear they didn't take long, and besides, Ava helped me and we got to really hang out before she headed off to middle school.  So. Much. Fun.  Ava drew the little cute characters and I cut and sewed them up.


back to school pencil cases

What you'll need:

- cotton canvas
- velcro
- vinyl
- contrasting thread
- grommets (and a grommet setter)
- some art


1) Cut your pieces. 
   Canvas: 5" x 8"
   Vinyl:  8" x 10", then fold in half
   Velcro: 7.5" x 1/2" (I cut a 1" width in half the long way)
   Canvas strip: 1" x 8", the press in half long wise

 2) Fold the vinyl in half, sandwiching the little piece of art in the middle.  Smooth out any bubbles and insert cut edge of vinyl into the canvas strip that has been pressed in half.  One side of the velcro strip (it doesn't matter if it is the loops or the fuzzy side) will be sewn onto the back of the canvas strip.  
note: I find pins get in the way, so I am just careful and sew this together without them.
3) Topstitch along the perimeter of the canvas strip with a small zig zag, being sure to grab the velcro into the stitch.

4) Sew the velco onto an 8" side of the backing canvas in the same manner, then press the velco sides together so they are secure.

 5) Using a zig zag stitch and starting at an edge with velco, sew around the three raw sides of the pouch.  Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and the end.
Set your machine to a straight stretch stitch (it's a utility stitch that goes forward twice, back once, forward twice, etc.)It makes a nice bold line. Stitch right along the edge of the zig zag on the first side, about 3/4" from the closed 8" edge (this will allow space for grommets, and then back up along the edge of the zig zag on the other side.  This reinforced line will make it so pencil tips don't get stuck in the zig zag stitching.  The zig zag makes it unnecessary to hem, which, as you might already know, I am all about avoiding.

6) Add grommets following the manufacturers directions.  They are very easy to do and the whole kit for setting them costs only a few dollars.  You will need a hammer.  Don't be scared off.  You'll want to find loads of ways to use them because they are really quite handy.

The kids loved them and everyone got their favorite animal.  We filled them with paper covered pencils (made by Ava), japanese erasers (of course), and little paper wind spinners that had their names stamped on them (Ava made them with a circle paper punch and stamps and then we sewed them together in the blink of an eye).