Monday, January 31, 2011

Valentine Cards

After Christmas, I must admit that I often feel a desire for even more traditions, more celebration, more crafts.  Thankfully, Valentine's Day is here shortly.  So, I started making some fabric Valentine's Day Cards.  I had so much fun.  I love quick projects where I can have freedom and flexibility and creativity.  I like making it up as I go along. 

Fabric cards are so easy.  They do dull your needle quickly, punching through cardstock.  So, if you decide to make your own fabric cards, change your needle when you're done.  All you need is a pile of scrap fabric, some cardstock and a sewing machine.  You can use a straight stitch or zig zag.  I wanted to do some loops, so I got out my free motion foot for a little extra embellishment.  I also used vellum paper to write little messages with a sharpie.  Then I stitched the vellum paper onto the fabric and card.

Happy early Valentine's Day to you!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Knight's Tunic Tutorial

Make a Knight's Tunic for a Child

Make a knight's tunic costume for your child.  This tutorial depends on the materials you have and the size and age of your child.  I give you a lot of guidelines so you can see what to do, but not exact measurements.  You can use this as an inspiration, a guide.  
Make it out of what you have.  Make it for who you love.  Make it the way you want.

What you will need:
a sweater that fits your child to use as a template
a solid color recycled wool sweater, felted in the washer (more instructions below)
leather, canvas, pieces of sweater (from the sleeves) or other strong fabric for shoulder straps
fabric for an applique embellishment on the front
fusible webbing (for the applique)
fabric pencil or marker
matching or contrasting thread
sewing machine

1. Go to your local thrift store or your closet and find a used wool sweater in an adult size.  For this project, cotton and acrylic will NOT work.  Wool can be felted in the washing machine to a thick, dense material, suitable for a knight.  I recommend a gray sweater, but use what you like.

2. Put your wool sweater in the washing machine on HOT with a bit of laundry soap.  

3. Put your sweater in the dryer on HOT.

4. Take it out and see how it "felted" down.  It should be fairly stiff and thick.  If not, send it through this process again (double checking to make sure it is wool and not another material).

5. After it has been washed to a thick felt, you will want to cut off the sleeves.  If your sweater has a normal neckline, you could leave it as it is.  If it is a turtleneck, or if you would like to make shoulder straps like I make, cut out the neck also (look at pictures for a more detailed example).  Lay down a sweater that fits your child and follow the sleeve lines and neck lines.

6.  Cut two pieces of fabric for the shoulder straps.  I cut mine out of recycled leather from a skirt I bought at the thrift store.  You could use the sleeves of your sweater if you'd like, or any other sturdy fabric you have laying around.  I cut mine 2 inches wide and about 10 inches long. Since I cut mine out of leather, I didn't have to hem them; they won't unravel.  Felted wool also won't unravel.  If you choose to use canvas or another material, you will need to make your straps about five inches wide, sew the long sides right-sides together, turn them right sides out and press them.  However, I recommend using a fabric that you won't need to hem, such as leather or felted wool.

7. Pin the two shoulder straps onto the front and back of the tunic, leaving plenty of room upon which to sew them.  Make sure the left and right strap are sewn on evenly so that they hang the same on each shoulder.

8. Sew a square around the edges of the shoulder strap, with an X in the middle.  

9. Cut a design out of paper for the embellishment on the front of your knight's tunic.  A cross, a dragon or a fleur de le are some good ideas.  My cross is not exactly symmetrical, since I drew it by hand, but I like it.  Feel free to do a google image search to find exactly what you want.  Print the image you find and trace it onto your paper.

10. Cut out your image and use it as a template.  Use a fabric pencil or marker to trace your stencil onto your other fabric.  I used a bright red leather jacket I found at the thrift store.

11.  Use a fusible webbing or steam-a-seam or other fusible applique backing.  Follow the manufacturer's instructions to apply this backing to your applique design.  (Ok, I am going to admit something for you here.  I tried steam-a-seam, my trusty side-kick--picture above.  Then I tried a fusible webbing.  Neither worked since I was trying to adhere leather to felted wool.  So, in the end, I resulted to using double-sided sticky tape.  I'm quite sure this is a major, major no-no.  But I did it anyway, out of desperation. worked.  I don't plan on washing this outfit, but rather relying on simple spot cleaning, so I think I'm ok.  Thanks for listening to my confession.)

12. Set your sewing machine to a satin stitch (get out your instruction booklet if you've never done this before).  Stitch carefully around your design using a satin stitch.

Let your knight begin training.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ten on Ten January

Ten on Ten 
Take a photo every hour for ten consecutive hours on the tenth of each month.

morning coffee...hmmmm.

It is 1 degree outside.  The river is steaming by the bridge.

As usual, the canine leads the pack and the toddler is the caboose.

A smile while he helps me cook.

And Little O helps me sew.

The boys nap and I sit in my favorite and very odd chair.

Self portrait.

Issac and family come over for a visit.  He is three months old today.

Love watching the men wash dishes.

Off to the vapor caves to sweat and talk.

Another tenth of the month.  What a beautiful journey to see the day in photographs.  And so interesting to see how they have progressed differently.  Always tempted to show that coffee mug first and the sky last.  I supposed I begin the day looking down and end it looking up.  
Happy Tenth to you all!

Coconut Lemon Body Scrub

Make your own delicious coconut lemon body scrub.  This is a scrumptious exfoliating and hydrating scrub for your body.  It is easy to make and costs a fraction of the body scrubs you can buy.  I've been making different recipes of these for months now and this is my favorite.  Feel free to take this as a starting point and alter your recipe as you like.  Add your favorite essential oils.

1 cup coconut oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup almond oil
2 T. coarse salt
1/8 t. lemon essential oil
Five 1/4-pint canning jars or other small containers

Put one cup of coconut oil in a stainless steel pot on the stove on low.  If you have a diffuser, use it.  If not, put it on your lowest setting.  You want to just barely melt the coconut oil.  Don't let it get too hot.  It has a very high melting temperature and thus will melt quickly.  

In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, salt, almond oil and lemon essential oil.

When the coconut oil has just melted, stir it into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.  Keep stirring while you pour into jars to make sure to get an even balance of ingredients in each jar.  You will be able to fill five 1/4-pint canning jars with this recipe (the itty-bitty jars).  When you open the jars, you may need to remix the ingredients, as the coconut oil will naturally rise to the top.

Make some labels and then get in the shower with your new scrub.  Share the others with friends.

Instructions for use: Bathe or shower normally.  Gently massage your skin with your coconut lemon body scrub.  Rinse.  Dry off.  Enjoy your silky smooth skin!

Caution: the oils from this scrub can leave your shower or bath floor oily, so please be careful.
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