Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Guest Post: The Anti-Craft aka Molly Keene

When Lois said that she needed guest posters, I only hesitated for a second before throwing my hat into the ring. Had I hesitated for two more seconds, I would have had a fascinating (and potentially humiliation-sparing) revelation:

I don’t craft for a reason. I’m horrible at it. I am the Anticraft.

Alas, patience and common sense are two things I lack in spades, so here I am – guest posting on a crafting blog about the crafts that I know best…

The failures.

I suppose it all goes back to grade school; my tissue-paper trees (you know, the ones you make where you wrap the paper around the pencil and then glue each piece on the paper plate) were abstract masterpieces. By this, I mean that they were a hot mess, not unlike many pieces of abstract art. I’m quite sure that my mother had the same reaction that I’ve had in many an art gallery:
(I know I’m supposed to appreciate this, but I have no idea what it is, but I have to say something…SAY SOMETHING!!!!)
And then the choked out phrase uttered by all mothers everywhere:

Later on, it was dioramas. Mobiles. Things with Elmer’s and glitter. I discovered that I was a pretty decent painter, but I painted with my father, who 1) had to be nice to me and 2) was actually a really talented artist. So “decent” is relative – it’s like saying I make decent pies because I can read the directions and stick the sucker in a stove.

And then I became a Latter Day Saint. You know, a Mormon. Here’s the thing about Mormon women: they are the Special Forces of crafting. The Navy SEALS of felt and glue. Quite frankly, most women I know are some sort of MacGyver when it comes to making creative things. Conversations go a little something like this:

Me: Oh, wow, how did you make that wreath/ pillow cover/ potholder that doubles as a cure for cancer?
Them: Oh, it was totally simple. I simply used fallen macaroni, a dab of Hodge Podge  (what I heard, I swear), and a piece of wire from my fifth son’s Eagle Scout Project. It was so. Stinkin’. EASY. You can do it, too!

And, fool that I was, I believed their honest, shining little faces and their sweet, musical words. Little did I know that I was headed down a path of craft failure previously unbeknownst to be in existence.

We moved to Michigan a few years ago, and in our ward (congregation), there was a monthly crafting group. It was full of women that I really liked, and sweet, adorable McCrafty (I changed the names to protect the innocent) held up crafts every month in our Relief Society meeting.

 It’s really easy, I’ll have the stuff all assembled and be there to help you.

I looked at her felt wreath covered in flowers/ vinyl lettering/ holiday blocks and decided that it was time to take a leap of faith.

Crafting nights usually resulted in words hissed from my mouth that wouldn’t be welcome in a bar, much less a church activity. I burned myself with hot glue guns. I wrapped felt into lopsided flowers. Vinyl letters peeled off in sections, rather than in one whole piece. But nothing – no, nothing – compares to the humiliation of the Holiday Blocks.

 I still get grumpy when I think about the Holiday Blocks.
McCrafty was kind enough to invite me over to her house to do my blocks. As in a private tutorial. It was like the remedial crafting class – a last ditch effort to save my crafting soul. She swears it was just because I hadn’t been able to make it to class, but I knew in my bones it was to help me experience some sense of success…and protect the other sisters from my hissed mild profanity.

I sat, going through the steps – painting, sanding, etc. – and I felt that I was experiencing some element of success! I could feel the giant, crushing weight of Martha Stewart start to raise off of my soul. I was doing it! I was CRAFTING!!!!
Then came the words. Words uttered from a small boy – innocent words.

Yeah, I’m making these for my teachers at school for Christmas.

My world came crashing around me silently. He looked at me across the table, and talked about how it was easy and how his mother said they’d like them. It had taken me hours – LITERALLY, HOURS – to get these @#$% things to a presentable state and Sammy Second Grade was discussing the ease with which he’d completed them? You had to be kidding. I moped out of the door and home, and put my holiday blocks on a shelf. They remained there until February. Maybe it was depression; maybe it was carelessness. Maybe it was both. But dust coated their cheery d├ęcor like something out of Martha Stewart’s worst nightmares.

So the next time you make a craft, or enter a crafting competition, or tell someone how deliriously easy that craft was, or how you could have done it with your eyes closed, or even how much absolute joy it brought you…
Think of me.

The Anticraft.

Who is watching Pinterest with envy and longing. 

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guest Post: Customized Embroidered Ornaments from Caren Adams!

Hey there Auntie Lolo readers, I'm Caren Adams from cadamsCREATIONS, and today I'm going to share a great way to make customized embroidered ornaments from your pile(s) of fabric scraps.

Do you have a creative child (or children) in your life? My son has been gifted with an amazing imagination. He thinks up stories that last for hours and hours, draws aliens that are too adorable to throw away, and has actually started to do bits of embroidery himself. With a real needle. Oh, and he's only five.  OK, I'll stop gushing about my Spunky, and start teaching you how to turn sketches (even the bits that kids have dreamed up!) into ornaments.  (Don't be intimidated by the hand-stitching - just use simple back stitches and you're set!)

How To Make A Custom Embroidered Ornament
Muslin, linen, or other cotton fabrics (prewashed) for the embroidered side. 
Scraps of other festive backing fabrics.
Quilt batting.
Bits of ribbon (I used 1/8-inch)
Embroidery Floss
Note: use whatever size circles you prefer.  Mine are about 2.5 inches (finished size), but I am terrible at math (and seam allowances).  I used the outside of a roll of packing tape as my circle template!

1. Find a picture you want to use. Try to use a line drawing if possible. Simple images are the easiest to re-create in small scale. (One of the images I wanted to use was too big for an ornament, so I took a digital picture of it, resized it on my computer, and printed it.)  Your image should be about 1/2 the size of the circle you're using so that you don't cut off an antenna or something.  [Experience talking here, folks!]

2. Copy your picture onto a transfer medium. In the past I have drawn directly on the fabric, but I mess up too often for that. So here are some other ways to get your image onto the fabric:
a. Iron-On Transfer Pen. This usually makes fairly fat lines - not so great for smaller images.  Also, your image will be reversed when you transfer it.
b. Freezer Paper.  Freezer paper is thin enough for you to use like tracing paper, however, your image will be reversed if you iron it on the back of your fabric - just iron it on the front, it'll make your life easier.  If you go with freezer paper you'll be sewing through the paper and will have to tear it off after you embroider the image (be careful to not tug the stitches out).
c. Wonder Under.  This is a double-sided sticky mesh that acts like double-sided tape for fabric. To use this you'll want to reverse the image, draw on the paper side of the Wonder Under, iron it onto the back of the fabric, sew through it, then carefully peel off the backing paper (making sure not to pull the stitches out) and iron it on to your backing fabric.

d. Stick and Wash Away. (This is how I do mine.) Stick and Wash Away is a new product by Pellon that I just love. You copy the image (or print it in your printer!) directly onto the fabric side of the product, peel the paper backing off, then stick it on the front of your fabric. No reversing the image, no ironing, and no pulling the stitches when you're finished.  As a great perk - it acts as a stabilizer so you don't need to use an embroidery hoop. When you are finished embroidering, just soak it in a bowl of water and it washes away!

3. Cut out your circles.  Now, I know some of you have a nifty machine to do your cutting, but if you don't, you can just do what I did and use a template.  I used a roll of packing tape, but you could use a cup, small plate, or even the spool from the ribbon.  Draw the circle on the back of the fabric and then cut the circles out and stick (or iron) on the transfer medium (see #2, above).

4. OK, now that you've got your transfer method all figured out and your circles all cut, let the embroidery begin! Use the simplest of stitches - straight stitches and back stitches are typically all that is needed. You may choose, if you are adventurous, to throw in some other types of stitches (I have posted about great embroidery references and tutorials in this post).

5. Take off the paper.  If you're using freezer paper or Wonder Under, CAREFULLY remove the paper so you don't pull the stitches.  I used Stick and Wash Away, so at this point I gave my little guys a bath.  Here they are drying off:
don't they look happy?!!!
6. Make a fabric sandwich: batting, back, then front, right (sides together).  Insert a loop of ribbon for hanging at the top.  Put the ribbon between the front and back pieces with the cut edges hanging outside the circles - pin the loop INSIDE the fabric sandwich so you don't sew it into the seam!  I used about 10 inches of ribbon and looped them in half so with the seams that makes them about 4.5 (ish) inches.  
7. Mark where you want your gap (for turning).  Stitch around the edges with a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

8. Turn your ornament right side out and iron flat.

9. Optional Embellishments: At this point, you could call your ornaments finished.  Mine appeared to be lacking something, so I started playing with embellishments.  I used a knotted blanket stitch around the edge of Spunky's "space dog":
I did a running stitch along the edge of the "Space Mouse" - the running stitch shows on the other side, too, for a nice bordered effect.

pretty cool effect, if I do say so myself!
Then there was what I call the "Space Carrot".  He's a bit off-center, but I like it that way.  I think I may use a fabric pen to write the year on it!
I didn't stitch this one in orange on purpose!
So there you have it.  A quick, easy, and unique way to use up some of your scraps!  Think of what a sweet gift this would make for teachers, extended family, friends, etc.  I think I'm going to tuck one in my Christmas cards this year!  (It may help if I write an explanation on the card.  Just in case they are wondering why I'm sending them a picture of a carrot for Christmas!)

PS - kids love these, you could play games with them if you want to.  Spunky and his little sister have been having lots of fun playing with them!
If you're not one to celebrate Christmas, these would still make fun decorations.  Like I said, just a fun way to use up some of those scraps.  Enjoy!  :) Caren 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Shabby Apple Winner!!

We have a winner!! 

Never have I had the first comment win on a giveaway before now....

The Loops said...

I like Shabby Apple on fb!

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JOY Banners on GroopDealz!


My JOY Burlap Banners are on GroopDealz today for 56% off!! I hope you will go and check it out and please let me know if you share the link (there will be prizes!!) Thank you for the support!!

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Pintastic Friday!

Are you in a turkey coma today? :) Or do you need a nap from Black Friday shopping? I know I do! Here are some fun ideas to look at while you rest from the Holiday madness :)
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Thursday, November 24, 2011

29% off my Etsy Shop!

Today I turn 29! I was going to give you guys a code tomorrow for 25% off my Etsy Shop for Black Friday but I decided it would be even better to offer 29% in honor of my birthday! It starts today and goes all weekend! 
(Scroll down for code)

Here are just a few of the items you can get at 29% off...


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Happy Thanksgiving!

I love this quote, it is exactly how I feel this year. 

I hope all of you have a great Thanksgiving and know that I am grateful for you! :) 
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Free Prints Wednesday....

Is everyone running around trying to get your last minute food shopping done for tomorrow's big meal?! Or maybe you are doing some last minute table decorating and need some free prints? Well I am fresh out of cranberry but I do have free prints!

Love this quote! And Capital B made this in different colors too!
Any kids coming over for Thanksgiving will have a blast making Mr. & Mrs.  Turkey Potato Head's from Kiki Creates!!
Your kids won't be bored while playing Thanksgiving Bingo from The Crafting Chicks!

Living Locurto made these cute candy bar holders that are perfect to hand out to your guests.

I love this print from I heart Nap Time! I framed the orange one right after I saw it.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Love this Tuesday!

I have to admit that I almost skipped right over Thanksgiving decorations and went to Christmas. I know, I know. Thankfully I decided against it. I love Thanksgiving decorations and I have some cute ideas to share today...

Homemade by Jill made this gorgeous wreath! She teaches us to make our own too! 

I really want to make one of these felt garlands from Twinkle & Twine. So cute!
What a cute turkey! Learn how to make it at She's Kinda Crafty
Create this cute place card with simple directions from The Twinery! 
This is a really great idea! The tutorial is over on

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