My first postcard swap

I’m so excited!  I’m participating in Do What You Love’s Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap (http://dowhatyouloveforlife.com/blog/2013/09/the-great-big-stitched-postcard-swap-is-back-design-course-giveaway/).  It’s my first “swap” of any kind and it’s so much fun.  I’m swapping a postcard (as the title suggests, it has to have some kind of stitching on it) with someone in New Zealand.  This is especially fun because my parents have vacationed in Australia and New Zealand a few times and I’ve heard so many stories/seen pictures that they brought back.  This makes it feel even more “close to home”.

So, here’s my card:

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I used a few pieces of scrapbook card stock paper as a stiffish background (knowing that it would be going a LONG way).  I cut the butterflies out of another piece of paper and glued them on then sewed over the top in a kind of a flight pattern.  I used butterflies because of the airmail connection (you know, because butterflies fly).  I can’t find the normal foot for my machine so I used the “N” foot and a stitch that’s made for elastic.  I actually kind of like the way it came out.  I used a metallic thread on top and a dark green in the bobbin- which made for a neat contrast.  The theme for this swap was “Celebrate!”, so I stamped on that word with the subtitle of “Fly Free” (to go with the butterflies).  I’m celebrating my first swap!

I taped a piece of white cardstock on the back to cover up the stitching and write my message and used washi tape around the edges to firm it up (and as a bit of a border).

I can’t wait to get MY card, and I’ll be sure to share it when I do.

Oh, and just for the heck of it, I’m entering my card into a few challenges:

Created With Love Challenges’ “Sewing- Real or Faux” challenge (http://createdwithlovechallenges.blogspot.com/2013/10/cwlc-62-sewing-real-or-faux.html).  I absolutely love sewing on paper and there are some great entries in this challenge.

Twist of Faith Cards’ “Things with Wings” challenge.  The butterfly is such a powerful symbol of inspiration (rebirth and resurrection) that I think this is perfect for their challenge.  (http://twistoffaithcards.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/challenge-59-things-with-wings.html)

Ooh-la-la Creations Challenges’ “Things with Wings” challenge (http://ooh-la-la-creationschallenges.blogspot.com/2013/10/things-with-wings-at-ooh-la-la.html)  I love all the birds and butterflies in this challenge, but my favorite is a winner from the last challenge, Marina, with a little girl with wings.  Her card is stunning.

Knife-block redo and barstool upcycle

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My wife suggested I paint our knife-block but I hesitated for a bit because it came with a expensive knife set from SharpenedKnife that my parents gave me. But you can’t win if you don’t play, right?  And she found this cool example and sent me the Pin, so I couldn’t resist.

http://www.johnnyinadress.com/2011/03/beautify-that-boring-knife-block.html?m=1

And the first picture is an awesome bar stool turned (literally) into wrapping paper storage. We got the idea from Pinterest (where else?) and then the wife happened across a somewhat broken stool at a huge tag sale to benefit a local animal shelter. I promised to make the stool into a wrapping paper caddy if she promised not to bring home another dog. Here’s the inspiration for the stool:
http://96195.com/pic-759.html

I tried out Crackle for the first time on both of these.  It was actually kind of a ruse for the wife’s benefit. She’s much more of a contemporary, bright color kind of person and I’m more of a shabby-chic kind of person. So, I started with the Rachel Ray green that she wants to do our kitchen in (along with her eggplant and orange). She loved it, but then I put the crackle and yellow over them both (to go with our current shabby-kitchen).
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The stool was a lot of fun to make. I used ribbon to replace a couple missing rungs with bottle caps instead of washers to hold it on. On the feet (now the tops) I decoupaged paper from an end-page from a used book from the same tag sale and wrapped some washi tape around it.  I used one of the thrift store table cloths I got for my parents’ 50th anniversary to make a few pockets to hold tape, bows, ribbon and such. It was my first time using the button holer (is that a word?) on my sewing machine and it was so cool. It says you can use it to sew on the buttons, too, but I didn’t quite trust it (or myself). I had a vision of a flying needles and broken buttons so I just sewed them by hand.ImageImage

For the knife-block I made a stencil out of cardstock to tie in with the boarder in the kitchen and varnished the heck out of it (she tends to make a bit of a mess when she’s cooking, so hopefully that will make for easier cleanup). I told her I could repaint it without the crackle if/when we redo the kitchen. I even think my parents would approve!

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How do I use this thing? (and some ICADs)

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I came across this 3D stencil in one of my (many) boxes of craft supplies and thought… “What the heck?”  One of the prompts for last week’s ICAD Challenge was “ivy”, so what better time to experiment.  I recently started playing with gesso, and figured that would be as good as anything to stencil with, and then figured I could just paint over the relief for a cool design.  Not.

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The gesso (surprise, surprise) seeped under the stencil, despite at my best attempts at taping and holding it down.  I ended up with a bunch of big blobs.  So, I thought, maybe I can just trace the stencil on top of the gesso like any other normal stencil.  Of course, it’s not a normal stencil, so when I tried to trace inside the openings the foam kept moving and that was a disaster, too.  I tried a trusted Sharpie, but it didn’t work too well on top of the gesso, so I just resorted to painting inside the stencil as well as I could (given my level of frustration and disappointment at this point) with my handy-dandy acrylic paint.  I threw a random quote on it from my collection and was about to call it a day.  But…Image

I had all this paint left over on my plate and this frustrating foamy stencil that I still didn’t know how to use.  So I did a little more experimentation and used it as a STAMP.  And I LOVED it!!!  I made two more cards with it that way.

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And then I just wanted to use up the rest of the paint, so I did the one below.  I used the sewing theme again (which I love), and experimented with some new, metallic thread and a zig-zag stitch.  So, here’s the last one in this “series”:

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So, I guess that what started out as a big mess turned out okay.  It usually does.  (And, if it doesn’t, that’s okay, too.)

And here are some other bloggers who are doing ICADs (it seems like the numbers are growing like weeds- really pretty, interesting weeds).

http://livingadreamlife.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/icad-25-happy-birthday-eric-carle/  – I had no idea it was Eric Carle‘s birthday… I’m seeing a Carlesque ICAD coming up in my future.

http://sitscrapandrelax.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/icad-20-24/  – I just came across this blog and love it.  This series is really neat, she calls it her “She Art”.  The last two are portraits she learned how to do by watching an instructional video on YouTube.  How cool is that?!

Oh… and how DO I use that thing???

Father’s Day pillows

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I’m so excited!!!  I made it to “Make”, one of the all-around coolest craft and DIY blogs with a head-spinning variety of ideas.  They posted my Father’s Day gift project of making pillows out of old t-shirts.

http://blog.makezine.com/craft/fathers-day-pillows-from-upcycled-t-shirts/fathers-day-pillows-1/

The one I started with, above, is for my dad.  How could I not make this t-shirt into a pillow for my pop!?!  I had made him a couple other pillows out of t-shirts for Valentine’s Day, which he loved, so now he has a collection.  I made even made a card using a sewn-on heart from a left over scrap of fabric.

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I got a little more daring on this one and added a ribbon trim.  I got the idea while browsing through some Father’s Day ideas on a great blog for a trim store:

http://blog.mjtrim.com/2013/06/10/fathers-day-diy-fun/

This one’s for my father-in-law who loves Orange Crush.  It won’t go with anything in his house, but I couldn’t resist.  Another scrap-fabric card finished it out.

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The last one is for my friend’s birthday.  “Piebald” is a band from Boston that I’d never heard of (which I rather like after checking them out).  I just liked the phrase (the name of one of their albums):  “The Rock Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”  I put the ribbon trim on this one, too, and made an accompanying card.  I just gave it to him and he said he wants me to make another one with a t-shirt he has that ripped (but that he can’t bare to get rid of).

Here are a couple other Father’s Day crafts I’ve found on blogs.  There are so many cute ones out there, why waste your money on Old Spice and ties (my go-to gifts for my dad when I was growing up)?

http://inspireschelsea.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/fathers-day-diy/  – These are an extra-cute way to use kids’ handprints.

http://calmchaosblog.com/2013/06/14/diy-more-recovered-corkboard-fathers-day-edition/  – This is a great idea for a neat cork board… I may just try it for myself.

What did you make for Father’s Day?

Skirt/Pants Bags

photo-56I’ve been home with a sick boy for the past couple days so I was finally able to work on this project.  I got the idea from my friend’s Etsy store:  TheGreenCat (http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheGreenCat?ref=search_shop_redirect).  She upcycles anything and everything and is an amazing seamstress.  Me… not so much.  But I figured out how to use my sewing machine and nothing can stop me now!

photo-57This one was a thrift store find mini-skirt.  (Our Maggie certainly found it comfortable.)  I tried to contour the sides a little, cutting it at a couple different angles and resewing until I ended up with a somewhat rounded bottom.  I put in a large snap closure and used the bottom of the skirt that I cut off to make the straps.  There was very little fabric left over, which I’m pretty proud of.

photo-58I really liked the pattern on this thrift store (what else) mini-skirt.  The other cool things about using pants or skirts, I discovered, is that the pockets can be preserved on the final product and who doesn’t love special compartments for their phone, keys, etc…  This particular skirt was cool because it had a pair of build in bike-shorts so it’s like it’s lined.  I did make sure to hand-sew over the zipper several times so that it wouldn’t accidentally unzip and spill someone’s stuff everywhere.

photo-59And this one is what kind of got me started.  I got a desperate text from my wife a couple weeks ago asking me to bring her new pants because hers had ripped (she won’t be mad at me for posting that because she promptly put it on Facebook).  It wasn’t the typical butt rip, though, it was ripped/worn on the inner thigh.  I couldn’t just throw them away, so I made them into my first bag.  I used a little of one of my favorite ribbons for a kind of loop/button closure.  I also like the look of the red thread on the khaki fabric.  It’s a little whimsical (not that a purse made out of pants could every be anything but) and it has a little good feng shui built in.

Here are some others I’ve found on blogs… so many cool techniques, so little time:

http://styleitpretty.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/upgrading-skirt-to-handbag/ – This one’s a great tutorial- and she really went all the way with a lining and everything.

http://liliandmums.wordpress.com/2012/05/19/how-to-2-part-1-mini-skirt-purses-full-tutorial-with-photos/ – Another one with a tutorial.  I love the use of the jeans skirt and linings!

http://cupandpenny.com/2013/02/20/this-purse-was-a-skirt/  – I love the bohemian shape to this one, with a fabric flower to boot.  Make sure to check out her tutorial on how to make a french seam.  Who knew?

And in case you’re interested, here they are in my Etsy shop:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/152056945/upcycled-skirt-purse

https://www.etsy.com/listing/152053178/upcycled-skirt-purse

THANKS FOR LOOKING!

More inspiration

Winter Owls’ owls in the pram (above) are so incredibly cute I had the urge to run to the closest thrift store for fabric and start my own collection.  Easter was coming up and I happened to have two old towels that were about to be donated to our dogs and a big ribbon and button collection.

Here’s what I came up with…

Easter Snuggies

They’re nowhere near as cute as the owls, but my niece and nephew (4 and 1) loved them.  I glued the eyes on the one on the right hand side (in addition to sewing them) to make it less likely the 1 year old would pull them off and swallow them.  They started out as chicks (in my mind) for Easter but then the feet were more like duck feet and I only had enough room for one foot on each.  I guess they ended up being more like Easter Aliens.  Oh well.  They make me laugh.

Winter Owls

It has been a busy sewing week and my house looks like a bomb has hit it. My brother and his family are coming over to visit from the United States so I have a lot of tidying up to do. Thankfully it’s cooler in Melbourne at the moment which always makes me feel more like handling cosy fabrics like vintage chenille bedspreads. My dear friend Mary tells me she has the blue bed spread at her parent’s beach house. I did tease that they might find a few owl shaped holes after the next time I visit there…

Some of the owls went to a local school fete and the rest will fly off to my Etsy store soon. My younger son and I found this lovely old pram on a pile of junk put out on the nature strip. He was rather horrified when I asked him to pop…

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