Friday, November 25, 2011

I've Gotten the Sewing Bug

Over the past few months, I've been exposed to lots of sewing machines and have even had the chance to use one, when my son's preschool had a mini-fundraiser.  The fundraiser was a class to teach you how to sew a lined zipper pouch. 

Here she is!

She's even lined!
 Even though I'm not 100% happy with the top corners of the pouch, I still can't believe I made that! 

I sell felt "wrist rockets" in my Etsy shop; these however require sewing.  My first set was sewn by one of my friends, Amy, and I haven't really had a need to sew anymore until just recently.   I'm going to donate a few to my son's preschool, since they are holding a craft fair in December.  Here they are, ready to be sewn:

Wrist rockets
Besides these recent events, I haven't sewn in YEARS. Probably since I was a kid. My mom had an old black, curvy Singer sewing machine similar to this one:

I distinctly remember sewing little socks for my infant brother. They were horribly mis-shapen and didn't fit at all, nor did they stay on, and the fabric was hideous, but I thought they were so cute! And the most important part is that I loved making them.

This has given me the sewing but and I've been researching sewing machines online.  I see some great sales today, like the Singer Curvy 8763 Sewing Machine (reg. 299.99, on sale 179.99):

Is has all of these beautiful scrolling stitches, automatic threader and other fabulous features that I'm sure I'll need. But I'm a beginner and wonder if this machine is too advanced with it's automatic button hole function.

Then I stumbled across this steal:

Singer 1409 Promise Sewing Machine for $59! Marked down from $99.

At that price I wouldn't feel bad about moving on to a better and higher priced machine once I mastered this one, and to make sure that I really do love sewing. But it doesn't have those pretty stitches that I really love. And that is what inspired me in the first place.

One of my friends, from Quetzal Handmade, has the Singer Confidence:
It has that beautiful scrolling stitch that I love so much.  Look at that gorgeous scrolling stitch:

Yes, that stitch alone sparked my interest in starting to sew again.  Thank you, Friend!  

Though I love that stitch and the machine, I'm not sure if it is a little too much of a machine for a beginner or if I should even spend that much on a machine, especially when I'm just starting out.

I just came across a neat webpage which compares all of the Singer machines. Looks like they've been doing it for years. They compared the 2011 machines and give tips for buyers. And one of the main tips is to not buy a new machine for under $100. Sigh. So here I am at square one again. Plus, the reviews on any of these machines sort of scare me. Some are fantastic, but the next review will bash it. Just not sure what to do or buy. I'm open to any suggestions! And the pressure is on because tomorrow is Cyber Monday!  HELP!

Monday, November 21, 2011

I'm Not The Only Crafty One In This House

I love when I'm at the dining room table crafting and my son comes over and sits next to me and starts his own craft. Here's what he made the other day:

Nope, it's not a magic wand that can "see" into the future. He runs around the house pointing it and makes shooting sounds. It's his "star shooter". I'm guessing that lasers come shooting out of the eyes? Well, of course they do!

I also get a lot of "help" when I am working on projects.


Lab Assistant


Taste Tester

Shaker Upper
Who knew I'd ever have a crafty son?  I love having my little man around to help me. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon When You Take the North "Poll"

Melissa & Doug want you to tell them which of their educational toys you think is the best! Just click on the image below to place your vote in the North "Poll!" You'll Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon** to use at just for voting!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Making Cosmic Crayons

For my son's 3rd birthday party last year, I wanted to hand make some of the items to put in the goody bags that the party guests would take home, so I decided to stick with the space theme and make planet and star crayons, or cosmic crayons!

To get started I needed some crayons.  And to save money I decided to post a "Wanted" posting on my local Freecycle site (Freecycling is the act of giving away usable unwanted items to others instead of disposing of them in landfills.).  I was very lucky to get a large shoebox FULL of crayons!  They were sorted, and bagged by color!  All peeled, as well.  I think that just saved me at least an hour or two.  We ended up making “planet” crayons, and then I made star-shaped crayons later at home, as well.

They were so easy, almost cathartic, to make!  Auntie Becky was using a hammer to smash them and I was chopping like no one’s business. 

This cutting board (below) holds special meaning for me.  My dad, who passed away almost 20 years ago, made this before I was born.  We use it all the time at our house and I still marvel at how well made it is, and how each square was shaped to fit together perfectly.  And there are no flaws on the board, and none of the squares are separating, even after all these years.

We placed them in the oven and baked, uncovered, at 300 degrees, for 5-6 minutes.  When they were in there, I was a little worried because it looked like the different colors were just blending all together, making one yucky color. 

 But after a while in the fridge, we flipped them out of the muffin tins, onto a thick towel, and they looked spectacular on the other side!! 

I used a silicon star mold for the stars:

Yay for metallic crayons for that extra sparkly effect!    

And now for some really close up photos of crayons:

Each kid got a couple of crayons bagged up in their rocket goody bag container.

Along with some space-themed coloring pages and a few other fun space related items!

And now I'm planning this year's party.  I hope I have enough time to get the things done that I want to get done!!! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The "Midnight Hour" Pumpkin (Cinderella's Pumpkin Carriage)

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I just love how something as simple as a pumpkin can be transformed into something so magical.  I've been wanting to make this "jack-o-lantern" for YEARS!  It's so beautiful.

I first saw this picture in a Hallmark magazine years and years ago, tore out the page, stashed it away and KNEW that I had to make it someday.  I was transfixed when I saw it:

The "Midnight Hour"
A lot of what makes this picture amazing is not only the pumpkin itself, but the photography with the lighting and the background scene.  And I love the two little mice, Jaq and Gus, in the foreground. 

I decided this is the year that I'm going to make this.  I searched online to find a photo and a how to, and I found it HERE.

Then I started gathering the materials:

You'll Need
3 ornate metal belt buckles
1 pumpkin, about 12 inches tall
Pencil or marker
Craft glue
1 ornate lamp finial
Cordless drill fitted with 1/4-inch bit
4 gourds, about 4 inches tall
2 quarter-inch dowel rods, cut to the approximate diameter of your pumpkin
4 ornate drawer pulls
Heavy-gauge florist's wire

Now, let's get messy!  Gut your pumpkin and save the seeds!!  They are so healthy for you and so ridiculously delicious!  Wait!  Don't rinse them and try this recipe!

Prep the "windows" and "door":  Remove buckles from their belts, by using heavy duty scissors (I used medic scissors - they cut through anything).  You can also use a seam ripper, and just cut the thread holding the belt together.  I couldn't find any ornate buckles, but I was lucky enough to find matching "windows". 

Then I used a screwdriver to remove the prongs from the buckles.

Use the buckles to trace out the holes for the windows and door.  Using a knife or one of those tiny pumpkin saws, cut out the openings.  I had a battery powered one that I bought years ago, tucked away in my Halloween box.  I can't believe it still worked!

Next, prep the pumpkin and buckles for painting:

I was originally just going to use a glitter spray paint, to keep the original pumpkin color intact, but when it went to use it, it didn't work!!!  ARGH!!  This isn't supposed to happen!!  It's brand new!!!  So, here I am, Halloween night, 5:30pm and no time to run to the store!  Thank goodness I had a can of gold spray paint in my paint stash.  Doesn't everyone?

I love spray paint because it's easy and it dries quickly.  I especially love this can of spray paint since it's over 10 years old and still worked just fine. At 5:30pm. On Halloween night.  

Don't forget to spray the lid!  I love how the lid looked like a crown once I cut it out.

The original instructions call for a lamp finale, for the top of the carriage, but I couldn't find any under $10.  Luckily, Micheal's was having an early Christmas sale, and I was able to find this ornament, for less than $5, on sale.  I just turned it upside down and removed the hanging jewel.

Cut the pumpkin stem down as far as you can get it, or break it off if you can, then drill a hole a little bigger that the width as the tip of your lamp finale or ornament, and about 1/4" deep.  Fill with hot glue and insert the finale/ornament.  Let dry.

Then take out your newly painted buckles and your handy dandy glue gun and start gluing on the windows and door.  The pumpkin isn't flat, nor is it dry, so go crazy to make sure they stay on.  No one will see the extra glue once it gets dark.

For the wheels, I drilled a hole through the center of each gourd. Then inserted a dowel rod into the holes of two gourds to create an axle, and secured with glue.  The holes I made were a little too big, so I had to stuff them with some paper towels.  Make two sets.   I inserted a drawer pull into the outside hole of the two gourds facing forward, for hubcaps.

Then line up the two sets of wheels next to each other at about the same width as your pumpkin. Then wrap wire around the dowels to fasten the axles together and to create a webbing for the pumpkin carriage to rest on.  Then place your "carriage" on the wire.  Voila!  Light up the candle and send that girl off to the ball!

Be sure to get her back by midnight or the carriage will turn back into a pumpkin!

I'm linking this tutorial post up to "Home Stories A to Z" Tutorials and Tips Link Party:
Home Stories A2Z

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