Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Halloween Yard Witch and Cats

It's September and in my book, that means it's time for Halloween!

Or at least time for Halloween decoration making!

My mother and I have always been huge Halloween fans. Of course, it helps when your Mom can pretty much make anything you dream up for your costume. Per her sewing abilities, I have been a skunk, dragon, chicken (real feathers) and various cats, not to mention a gazillion others.

Since Martha Stewart became the Queen of Craft, Halloween has become an even bigger holiday for us. We are always trying to find inexpensive, yet impressive, decorations to create the spookiest Halloween!

Lucky for me, my best friend (Farrah) co-hosts her Halloween party with me every year I am nearby. Along with her ingenuity and belief that anything is possible when we attempt it, we have come up with quite a showing when it comes to Halloween decor. However, it did not happen over one year - it's been many years in the making!

Our first major Halloween project is still one of our favorites. Not only is it impressive, but it involves tools! The kind you have to plug in to use!

The idea comes from the aforementioned Queen of Craft: Martha Stewart. It wasn't actually up on her website last year to make, only to buy (more on that later). However, it is up there this year and I'm going to tell you how to do it!

Witch and Cat Lawn Ornaments


- Jigsaw
- 2 - Sawhorses (or other steady things to put your boards up on)
- Screwdriver
- Hammer


- 1 - 4'x8' sheet of 1/2" (or more) OSB sheathing
- 1 - 4'x4' sheet of 1/4" - 1/2" OSB sheathing
- Black paint (spray paint, latex paint, or whatever you have handy)
- Conduit straps (3 - 4 for the witch, 2 for each cat - use metal not plastic as it will break)
- Wood screws (length short enough to NOT pierce through the wood)
- Witch template
- Cat template
- 6' length of metal conduit for witch
- 3 - 3' length of metal conduit for cats


The first step of this project is the hardest: printing the templates at full size. When we first made the witch, I thought to myself "I have access to a big printer! Why don't I print it on that?" To answer my own question..."because Martha Stewart's templates are easy to print in single 8.5x11 sheets and just tape together." But then, after taping them together, you need to cut out the templates. Why not wait until you use the jigsaw to cut them out? Because, how else are you going to trace around the shape if the shape isn't cut out yet? Ha!

So - first step - print templates, tape them together and cut them out (with scissors).

Next, tape the template to the OSB board and trace the shapes. Trust me, this is much easier than trying to tape the template onto the board and cutting around it. Not awesome. The jigsaw has a tendency to shred and tear.

Why OSB and not plywood, like Martha says? Well, because it's cheaper. You can use anything that you might have laying around if you want except MDF. MDF will just turn to mush in the rain. Also, be sure to use a thicker material (1/2" or more) for the witch since she's tall. She gets caught in the wind easily and can get knocked over or have her top half cracked if she's too thin.

Now a little info about using a jigsaw: it's very easy. Just remember to watch your fingers! Be sure the shoe (the plate on the bottom of the jigsaw that you set on the board) is always on the board otherwise there will be too much movement and you might cut off a digit. Or two.

Also, you can do curves with a jigsaw. However, you cannot do tight curves in one try. Only because the thickness of the blade will prevent you from turning The last thing you want to do is force the jigsaw and cause the blade to snap. Remember to always use sharp blades.

The beauty of the jigsaw is that it's fairly light and easy for us weak (ha, ha) little girlies to use. You can start and stop wherever you need to be with ease.

Wear goggles, girls (and boys). Mostly because of the sawdust in your eyes, but also because you might get a splinter in your eye and that would be bad.

Don't wear flip flops in case you cut something off and forget to catch it and it lands on your foot.

Both of these last two points were ignored by my mother and I, however, we were lucky.

Don't test your own luck.

Please note that in the pictures below, Mom and I used the witch and cats that we had a few years ago for our templates instead of printing them out.

After cutting out the lovely witch and cats, your next step will be to screw in the conduit straps to the back of the shapes. You should only need a screwdriver and some wood screws. Unless you like power tools, then you may want to use your cordless drill.

Next, paint those cuties! Black, black, black!

We used spray paint, but Martha's instructions say to use black latex paint. Whatever you want. Every year, we do have to touch them up a little here and there but the spray paint never peels. It takes more spray paint to cover the shapes than latex though. Be sure to paint both sides. You can see both sides during the day and no one wants to see the unpainted back side of a witch!

Don't forget the finishing details! Attach a cup hook for the lantern. We used a conduit strap for her broom so we can slip it in and out if we need to. The broom came from Walmart and we just spray painted it black.

Finally, use something to pound the metal conduit into the ground and slip your decorations in...then let the fun begin!

Oh. The back lighting....hmmm...we use some simple spotlights. Don't set the witch and cats up the same day as your party (or Halloween) because you will need to do a little adjusting with the lighting before getting the perfect spooky appearance at night.

Also, if you feel like you have no craft skills at all, you may order these silhouettes at Grandin Road. They are crazy expensive though! $149 for the witch and $59 for the three cats. Especially when one piece of OSB is only about $10!

The witch and cats look perfect in a cemetery yard setting. More on Halloween decorations coming soon!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Felt purse for Colleen!

For Colleen's Christmas present, I decided to make her a felt tote. Well, more like a small version of a tote.

I'm not going to go into the details on this one because I did use a pattern to start the design and then made some adjustments according to what I wanted my end product to look like.
Basically, I saw some other projects on the internet (Etsy to be exact) where a solid color color (like charcoal) is backed with a bright color (orange, lime green, turquoise, etc) that is exposed by cut outs in the fabric.

Here's an example:

I used pattern # 3715 by Simplicity for the basic shape of the purse.

For the purse basics, the decided to use a wool felt. Wool felt, unlike polyester felt, has a lighter color and doesn't stretch. So nice.

Because Colleen owns an orange Vespa and it's one of her favorite colors, I decided to go with orange felt.

For the orange felt, I cut a piece the same size as the gray fabric. I used some glasses in a variety of sizes to make the circles on the gray fabric (I used a fabric pencil). After cutting the holes out, I hand-stitched the orange running stitch around the edges of the circles and then down to make the "stems."

Next, I simply sewed the purse together using the instructions with one more minor change.

I wasn't too fond of the purses straps. Mostly because I sewed them together and it was SO HARD to turn the felt inside out. Instead, I just used a larger stitch on my sewing machine (more like a basting stitch) and sewed two strips of felt together with 4 equal stitched lines in them to make the straps stiff and sturdy. I used the orange thread on this to add that touch of orange color.

My final change was that I didn't like the closure on the purse. I ended up putting a magnetic piece inside of it (matching the turquoise of the flashy interior color) to hold it closed. Although it's a bit strong, it works like a champ!

For the inside of the purse, I wanted something cute and flashy. I went to my favorite fabric store, Sarah's Fabric, in Lawrence, Kansas. Sarah's has an amazing selection of cotton quilting fabrics. Perfect for purse projects!

I had two issues with the final project. Too OCD, I believe.

First, I disliked the way the inside fabric met the outside felt. It wasn't sharp because of the thickness of the felt. I wanted it to be precise, not blurry.

Second, the purse has a tendency to slouch. Next time, I will add some stiffener to the sides (like I kept telling myself to do the whole time I was sewing it) so it will stand up on its own.

I think that overall it turned out really cute!

Baby Mobile - Hooty Hoot Owls!

Earlier this year, I went with Farrah to our favorite little gift shop in Columbia, The Butterfly Tattoo. They specialize in cute gifts for girlie girls and funky baby products.

Trent and Kara were expecting their first baby and Farrah had heard through the grapevine that Kara had fallen in love with a particular crib bedding at the boutique. It was the perfect solution to their office gift.Of course, as soon as I saw the print on the crib bedding, I was in love. Infatuated is probably a better word. "Silly Owl" by LittoKids Inc. is the bedding. And boy, oh boy! It is adorable!

Inspired by retro designs, it features this cute little owlie (I named him Arnold) surrounded by a kind of fleur de lis meets mid-century pattern in orange, white, gray and brown. It rocks. So super perfect for a little baby boy (or girl).

With that in mind, I decided to give them the gift of handmade: an owlie baby mobile.

The first step was to find a usable image of the owl. Harder than it seems, LittoKids has very few closeups of their bedding. Silly company. I finally found an image that some dummy like me had uploaded :) Yay for dummies!

The image had a few issues so I used photoshop to touch it up and mirror it to use as my owl pattern. Cute!

When doing any kind of hand-stitching project with numerous matching felt guys, I advise you to make one first and figure out what you are doing before moving on. That's what I did!

Owlie Parts (Cutting):

My first step was to decide what kind of parts I needed, in what color and to make a pattern for those parts. After making the pattern from the original image, I cut out all the little owl body pieces.

Here's what I ended up having:

2 - full body - brown

1 - breast - orange

2 - wings - orange

1 - eye foundation - orange

2 - eyeballs - white

2 - owlie corneas - black
(not shown)

1 - beak - black

2 - feet - black

1 - heart - orange

Wow. That's a lot of little pieces! And a lot of little pieces leftover too! If you're a packrat like I am, you end up keeping all those little pieces for weeks until it drives you crazy!

After cutting out the little pieces, I assembled the front of Arnold's body.

Owlie Parts (Sewing):

First, I added his little orange breast using a running stitch. I used 4 strands of a matching orange embroidery thread to attach the breast to his little brown body.

Next step, I attached the wings and orange eye foundation in the same fashion.

Now for his eyeballs. I used the normal 4 strands of (white) embroidery thread to attach the whites of his eyes using a running stitch.

Finally, add his little eyeballs with black!

I nearly forgot to stitch his beak and heart on last!

After I put Arnold's front pieces all together, it was time to give him some dimension.

Starting at his right owlie ear, I began attaching Arnold's back to his front using all 6 threads from a matching brown embroidery skein. At his bottom half, I had to remember to add his cute, little legs into the stitching. His legs are just single pieces of black felt.After binding Arnold together everywhere but the top of his head, it was time to add his stuffing.

The hardest part to stuff in the owlie was his little wings. I stuffed his bottom half, just a tiny bit of stuffing at a time. After he was pretty plump in his southern region, I added a little bit of stuffing into his wings. I had to use something (a pencil) to get that stuffing to the end his little wing tips.

After stuffing my owlie, I stitched up his head. Arnold the Owl's body is all done!

I was able to successfully add a ring to the top of Arnold's head for adding his hanging string. Yay me! I just used a couple of black embroidery threads and stitched in on there firmly. Finally, I added a string to hang him to the mobile!

Then I finished Arnold's 3 brothers!

I'm pretty sure little Clark likes them since in the picture below, I was told he fell asleep on his belly and rolled over to look at his owlies during the night! I'm sure that was the reason...

Creepy, Crawly Wreath

Post started in October 2009

I promised Christie that I would try to update the craft blog because even though neither of us have been mega-busy at our work (me having been laid off this work, her not having a ton of stuff to work on besides her typology class), we haven’t been motivated to blog. Funny how when you have tons of time, you use it for other things.

However, I have been a craft maniac. I haven’t been a total craft loser.
I guess my first craft post back will be the Halloween wreath.

Over Labor Day weekend, Mom and I were wandering around Pier 1 when we came upon a really cool Halloween wreath. It was $25. It was super cute, but much too expensive. Mom and I took a picture and moved on.

Here are the list of supplies you will need for certain:

- 1 - 12 - 14 inch wreath
- black spray paint
- 1 - black feather boa
- hot glue gun and glue
- various creepy crawly plastic creatures

The first thing we did was spray paint the wreaths black. We invested in straw wreaths for two reasons: 1) Spray paint doesn’t eat through straw and 2) Straw wreaths are much cheaper than styrofoam.

After the wreaths were thoroughly saturated in black paint (they don’t need to be perfectly covered), I wrapped the wreath with the black feather boa (mine was black with silver flecks in it). I attached one end of the boa onto the wreath with hot glue and allowed it to dry (be careful not to burn your fingers like I did!). Then I wrapped it around the wreath. It won’t completely cover it, but it’s fluffy and looks pretty good. Just attach the other end of the boa to the original end of the boa with hot glue.

I flipped the wreath over to the "back" side. I took some white embroidery floss (6 pieces) and hot glued the ends, criss crossing them to make a web. At the intersections, glue the crossings so it will make a stronger connection. Once again, don’t stick your fingers in the glue!

When the hot glue has dried, attach your creepy plastic creatures onto the wreath in the bald spots. Mom and I bought a big spider and I suspended him under the wreath. Creepy!

I addition to the big creepy spiders, I added some middle spiders and some small spiders here and there. I also added some creepy critters ON to the web.

I have a wreath hanger that goes over my door. If you don’t have a hanger, hammer a nail into the very top middle of your door (I’m talking the top end) and loop a black ribbon over it to suspend the wreath.

In addition to the wreath, I added some spiders I had left over to "crawl" up the door. Since I live in a rental and who wants the fear of chipping the paint on the door anyway, I used an old Farrah trick and cut up pieces of 3M double sided foam to attach to the spiders/door. When you are ready to remove the spiders, it should come right off the door without peeling any paint. Clever trick, Fe. Mine are arranged as if they are crawling up the door to the wreath and the door handle.

Please note that I am REALLY afraid of spiders. I could hardly touch the middle sized spiders when I put them on the wreath. Yek.

All in all here are the expenses for the wreath:
Straw wreath $2.49
Feather boa 40% off of $7.99 at Joann
Bag of 100 creepy crawly critters $4.99 at Big Lots
White embroidery thread free leftovers from other projects
Hot glue free leftovers from other projects
So all in all the wreath (we actually made two - one for each of us) cost about $10. Much less expensive than the less cute one at Pier 1.

Sorry the picture isn't the greatest! This pic was taken before I got my new camera (that is now lost as of Saturday night).

Baby Mobile - Weiner Mobile!

Super Lesley, a Columbia friend of mine, had a cutie patootie little girl earlier this year named Rosie Eileen. One of Super Lesley's many quirks (many, I say! - just like me!) is her true love of all things Dachshunds. Her and her husband, Don, own three little girl doxies: Lulu, Bird and Sheba.

Before Christmas, when I was doing all my felt creature research, I found a girl on Etsy who makes felt Dachshunds. I knew as soon as I saw them, I knew I had to make one. Or two. Or four.

Four because that's what fits on a baby mobile!

Puppy Body (Cutting):

I began by "borrowing" a picture from the earlier mentioned website to have a pattern to cut out my felt doxies.

I cut two identical doxie bodies in a brown felt.

I also cut out two ears in brown and a square piece of light pink for under the ears.
Later in this post, I will discuss Doxie tails, but for now, here is pic of the puppy's brown body pieces.

Puppy Ears (Sewing):

Using 4 strands from the embroidery thread (same color as the brown felt), I used a running stitch to stitch the brown felt to the pink felt. After knotting the end of the thread and snipping, I trimmed the pink felt closely to the edge of the brown felt.
Puppy Eyes (Sewing):

For the puppy's eyes, I took the puppy body and lightly dotted in the outline of the eye because I'm a much better seamstress when I have a line to follow. Please note in the picture below that I used tracing paper...a luxury us architects keep around the house ;)

I then took 4 strands of black embroidery thread to make the line of the eye (closed). I used a simple back stitch, following the slight curve of the eye. I ended up doing two rows very close together to simply make the eye show up better. I then took 2 strands of the black thread and sewed on the eyelashes. You can make these as long or short as you wish!

My doxies are all girls, so I went for mid-length eyelashes.

Repeat for the opposite body side of the puppy.

Puppy Tail (Cutting):

Let's just pretend that if you are making felt doxies, then you have been around doxies. Therefore, you should know that most doxies have skinny, long tails that curve slightly upward. I didn't use a pattern for my tails and just cut them out based on how the tail looks. It took a few tries for the first tail but once I got it out, the other three were much easier! I didn't do any sewing to the actual tail piece since I used only one thickness of felt.

Puppy Body (Sewing):

For each puppy, I used pins to hold their cute, tiny bodies together while sewing them. I started around the ear area and worked to the tail then to the underside of the body and back to the tail. Once again, I used a simple running stitch.

Don't forget that when you get to where the tail should go, to add the tail! I forgot once and had to pull and restitch my puppy's behind!

Once I got the back foot stitched, I went ahead and stuffed it with some polyester filling. Otherwise, it would be too hard to get the filling deep down into the foot area as it's pretty tiny. As I stitched more of the puppy, I would add filling to the finished part to keep the filling more evenly spaced. It has a tendency to bunch up in a ball.

Puppy Ears (Sewing onto Puppy):

My first suggestion for the ears would be to make sure that they line up perfectly on each side of the head.
Starting with one ear and 2 strands of embroidery thread, begin attaching the ear by hiding your knot under the ear. Once again, use a simple running stitch to attach the ear. Do the same for the other side/ear.

Puppy Nose (Sewing):

For the nose, I used 4 strands of thread and used a stitch similar to a satin stitch. Beginning on one side, using future stitches to hide the knotted end, I basically looped the fabric over the end of the nose/felt and came back through near the original stitch from the backside. Do this several times until you feel you have a likable nose size!

Puppy Bow:

I used a different color 3/8" wide ribbon for each puppy. I simply tied the ribbon around the puppy's neck and trimmed it to my liking.

Adding The Puppies To The Mobile:

Using a tiny jewelry circle, I attempted to attach this to the back of the puppy's back and it just didn't work.

In the end, I just used all 6 steins of the embroidery thread and sew it through the puppies. I tied a nice knot and then kept the length of the thread to use for the actual hanging part to attach to the mobile. After tying the thread around the mobile, I snipped off the extra bit! Don't want baby reaching up for that!

Felt Flowers (To Cover Up The Sad Unadorned Music Box):

Per my mother's suggestion, I checked out a link she sent me earlier this week for felt flowers. I ended up making three of them (purple, orange/yellow and red) with coordinating button middles to put on the music box of the mobile to make it prettier. I'll add some finished pictures but if you feel like making these cute and easy felt flowers, just go to this link and follow the directions!

After making the flowers, I hot glued them to the music box. Woo!

And then I sent those puppies out in the mail!

It looks like Rosie enjoys them :)

Dick Van Dyke makes a furniture comeback!

This past summer, I bought a chair for $4.98 at Goodwill. When it comes to ratty looking, sturdy pieces of furniture, I’m like the cat lady who lets in any old Tom. Instead of 50 cats and an overflowing kitty litter box (I’m down to one cat, thank you very much), I have an infinite number of places to sit, most of which have needed or will need a facelift. The "Dick Van Dyke" chair, as the Goodwill folks named it, was no exception.

The chair came in a yellow stain with a matching faux yellow leather seat. It was very…monochromatic. But underneath all the jaundice, I could visualize a colorful clothing catch all for my bedroom. My clothes needed a place to call home instead of the floor when I tried on 15 outfits in the morning before finally settling back on the first one I tried on and this chair would be that place.

My first plan of attack was to remove the seat. Be sure to save the screws! I put them in a plastic Ziploc sandwich bag for safekeeping. For some reason, the chair had a massive amount of extra screws where the arms meet the legs. None of them were actually holding anything together so I removed them. What was up with that?

After the screw removal, I had a number of holes that I had to fill. Unfortunately, my wood filler was DRY. No worries. Just add a little water IF you have a water based filler like I did. Not too much water, just enough to turn it back into a soft putty. Then I filled any gouges or holes (useless screw holes!) with the filler and a flat metal putty spatula.

This is the part where I add that, while taking the chair down to southern MO to show my Mom my wonderful find, I pulled the chair out of the car and knocked off the edge off the top of the veneer. I taped it to the chair at that time so I wouldn’t lose the veneer. When I was doing my putty work, I simply added a small amount of wood glue to the veneer, taped the crap out of it to the chair so it would be secure and fit closely and let it dry. I filled the holes after it was completely dry.

When the holes have all dried been filled and dried, take your chair either outside or to a well-ventilated room and sand it. I sanded the filled holes down to blend in AND I sanded the entire chair lightly to prep it for primer. I wasn’t about to restain this chair. Great find but not worth the staining effort. It was going to look much better in a nice shade of blue than a nice shade of walnut stain.

I used a spray paint primer on the chair. Outside. I used white. In hindsight, I should have used gray since I’m painting it blue, but the white looks so much more crisp.

After the spray paint has dried, allow the chair to sit in the middle of your living room taking up space for over a month or so. Just because. That’s what I did. No point actually FINISHING a project.

In addition to the fine painting cosmetics of the chair, you will need to recover the seat. My seat feels like a piece of hard plywood. Maybe that’s because it is. No matter what I did, short of creating a new seat with some sort of fabric bottom instead of plywood, it will always feel that way. Therefore, to ease the pain in my tailbone when I forget it’s hard and sit down fast, after removing the gross old fabric (only two layers) and a gross old batting, I covered the existing foam with a new quilted polyester high loft batting. You can find it in the "quilting" and/or "batting" aisle at the hobby store. I was going to replace the foam, but it appeared to be in fairly good shape and not too stinky. I used my trusty staple gun to secure the batting to the underside of the existing plywood chair seat.

The fabric I chose is a thin cotton Kona Fabric. I like the Asian influence Kona Fabrics embrace and it really goes well with my bedroom decor and colors. I didn’t feel like using an upholstery weight fabric mostly because of cost but also because I want to feel like I can change the fabric anytime I want. For some reason, I feel limited with upholstery fabric. I simply stapled the fabric onto the plywood like the batting.

For the actual chair painting, I used Dutch Boy. It’s available at Wal-Mart and comes in these cute little easy pour containers. Plus, it’s fairly inexpensive. I just used an everyday interior latex in a semi-gloss (easily cleanable) for the job. To apply the paint, I used a mini roller for the large parts and a foam brush for the more intricate, hard to reach detailing on the back of the seat (Asian influence?).

When the paint had COMPLETELY dried (another month in the middle of my living room, of course), I screwed the seat bottom back onto the chair and voila! A perfectly cute and useful new piece of furniture!

I think my total cost ended up running around $25 ($5 for chair, $10 for fabric and let's say $10 for the paint because I can't remember!) Not too bad! (I'll post a better picture soon!)