Dec 012011

I just love making Christmas crafts!  My favorites are quick little projects that can be brought out and enjoyed year after year.  It’s an extra special bonus if its something that can be made with children.  🙂

Way back in July (seems like last week to me…) I posted about this little project that my quilting group made.


Aren’t they cute?  They’re really easy to make, too.

You can find the directions here, but if you are strapped for time (who isn’t this time of year?) I’ve made up several kits for your convenience.  The kits even have those cute little carrot noses, all prebaked and ready to go!

You can purchase snowman ornament/plant poke kits at Etsy, or from my shopping page.

Happy Christmas creating!

P.S.  Did you notice my new button on the upper right of the blog, “Follow me on Pinterest“?  I’ve just gotten started, but there are several fun ideas for Christmas crafts and baking on there as well. (You gotta check out the melted snowman cookies, too much fun!)

Nov 302011

Today’s What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday finds me reorganizing my organizing.  (Read on, it will make perfect sense.  *** grin***)

You can click on any of the photos to make them bigger, by the way.


Once upon a time a while back when I realized I had amassed a pretty good collection of dies, it seemed to important to find a way to catalog them so, a) I would know what I had when I went to work on a project, and be) so I wouldn’t buy duplicates.

Here’s the system I developed:  In order to keep your dies and embossing folders straight, first cut each one out of white cardstock.  (This is a great way to use the white inserts that come with your page protectors.) Then mount them on 12″ x 12″ sheets of black cardstock.  The embossed pieces are colored with a little ink to make the design more clear.  These are then slipped into page protectors and clipped together for easy reference.

When I first started this system, my goal was to fit as many samples as possible on each sheet.  Like this:


However, I’ve found it can be hard to really see what’s there.  So now not only am I giving each die more space of its own, but I’m visually separating them with 1/4″ strips of cardstock.

Also, keeping the different types of dies on different sheets is helpful.  So each of the Tim Holtz Alterations dies has its very own quarter sheet.  All the long strip dies (like the film strip) are on their own sheet and all the embossing folders are together.  The Spellbinders are all on one sheet, too.

The final step in keeping track of your dies & embossing folders is to photograph the sheets and make a print out to keep in your purse.  Here are six sheets all together which prints nicely on a standard 8.5″ x 11″ sheet.


(The red, green and yellow strips let me know which size of Sizzix die to look for, as their large are red, medium are yellow and small ones are green.)


So, whaddya think?  Do I need to buy more?

Happy creating (and organizing!)

Btw, this week’s (and every week’s) What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday is brought to you by the wonderful Julia.  Through her blog you can visit the workdesks of other creative people from around the world.  You just might find yourself inspired.

Nov 232011

Today is the first Wednesday in several weeks that does not find the trench coat on my worktable.  Instead, it is done and hanging in my closet.  In fact, it’s raining today, so I got to wear it, yay!

I quickly discovered that the belt is the perfect length for getting caught in the car door and dangling out.  Must shorten it.  Other than that, I’m loving it.

After finishing a large project it’s good to take the time to reorganize.  I’ve found it’s helpful to keep the pattern you’re thinking of using with its intended fabric.  Things may change later on, but at least you’ll know what your original plan was.

On my table today are just a few (NOT all) of my pending sewing projects.  This will all be stacked in a large basket which gets stored under my table.

Oh dear.


Going clockwise from the top left:


  • Next clockwise is my new favorite draped top pattern, McCalls 6078 with a pink ITY and a red sweater knit.  I’m thinking of making the red one today to wear to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.  Am I nuts, or what?
  • The red dotted fabric is for a dress I didn’t get to in the spring.  Maybe for Christmas…
  • The black, white & pink boucle is for a Chanel style jacket.  The lining is still in its packaging from Fabric Place, with a receipt dated 2007.  I really need to get on that.
  • To the right of that is the pattern I used to make my aforementioned trench coat along with the fabric, lining, buttons and buckle to make another.  (This will not be happening any time soon!)  Here’s a view of the buckle, and a better depiction of the blue color.2011-11-23-woyww-belt-buckle
  • The pattern below that is possibly for gifts for my quilting group.  Thinking, thinking …
  • Next to that is the cutest little chef’s hat, apron and oven mitt set for the granddaughter.
  • The jacket pattern with green fabric and lining are also leftovers from last spring.  I really do need some jackets, gotta get busy.
  • Next to that and last, but certainly not least, is a gorgeous piece of black Regency wool.  This was acquired for next to nothing when my local fabric store went out of business.  I’m pretty sure I took what was left on the bolt.  There’s enough there to make the 12-gore skirt (the white one on the pattern, ooooo, swishy) or the jacket, but not both.  Or maybe I’ll make the button down top from the other pattern and a simpler skirt.  Dunno yet…

I also have the snuggies I showed last week to make.  Christmas gifts will have to take priority from this point on.  Right now I’m off to whip up a red top.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Creating!

P.S.  If you’re wondering why I’m sharing a photo of my workdesk, go here to check out the messiness, neatness and general creativity and fun other workdesks around the world.

******Update 11/23, 5:15 p.m. – The red top is done!  It only took a smidge over an hour.  Toldja I love that pattern.  🙂 *******



Nov 222011

I finally finished my trench coat, sewed the buttons on during the Patriots game last night. Go Pats!


Sadly, the pattern I used, Simplicity 4084, is out of print.  It was a freebie from Threads Magazine a few years ago, so some of you may have it kicking around.  I like that the styling is classic. After all that work, it’s not going to go out of style anytime soon.


Here’s the coat unbuttoned, which is how I’m sure I’ll wear it 99% of the time.  Likey.  🙂


Here’s my review of the pattern.

Pattern Description: Lined Single or Double Breasted Trench Coat – I made view A, the double breasted version with piping. (Far right on the pattern cover.)

Pattern Sizing: 6-14, According to my measurements I should have made the 14, I made the 10. It’s a little tight across the shoulders, I can’t wear a sweater or jacket under it, but it should be perfect once I reach my final weight goal. 🙂

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow? I thought the instructions were easy, but there were a LOT (91 steps and 28 pattern pieces!) With four views to choose from, my eyes kept jumping around on the instruction sheet. I finally started using a pencil to check off each step as I completed it, this kept me on track.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love all the interesting details: pocket flaps, front & back yoke, sleeve tabs.

Fabric Used: I’m not sure of the exact content, my local fabric store was going out of business (boo!) and this was labeled “Rain Wear.” It feels (and ravels) like a rayon, has a very tight, unforgiving weave, and water beads up on it. It wasn’t the easiest fabric to work with (easing the sleeve heads drove me crazy) but I’m happy with the results.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I made bound buttonholes, just for a challenge. I like the professional look they give.

I could not find a 2″ belt buckle anywhere, but found this buckle on a belt at Salvation Army for 99¢. So I made the belt 1.5″ to work with this buckle.

I used 1/8″ cording for my piping, instead of the 1/4″ called for and didn’t use a contrast fabric for the trim. I prefer the more subtle look.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? When I bought this red fabric, I also bought enough of the same Rain Wear in blue. I also have buttons, the lining and a gorgeous silver belt buckle, so I think I HAVE to make another one at some point. 🙂 It won’t be any time soon, though, as this was a huge project.

Conclusion: This pattern is not for the faint of heart. None of the steps are overly complicated, but there are a lot of them. The final result is worth it though.  It would probably be worthwhile to make a muslin, using just the main pattern pieces, to get the fit you want.

If you’re interested in making a trench coat yourself you might try McCalls 5525, which has many similar details.


Happy creating!

Nov 212011

This year will be our first holiday season with an empty nest.  It’s kind of a happy/sad time for me.  Happy because we really are enjoying the peace, quiet and lower electric bills; sad because I miss all the crafty little things I used to do with my kids around this time.

Projects like these leaf painted napkins are great because you not only get the fun of spending time creating something special with your kids, but they get to experience the joy of making something for others to enjoy. (And then the guests exclaim, “Ooooo, did YOU make these?” and the kids beam. 🙂 )

The below directions ARE NOT MINE, I found them here and want to be sure kayte terry gets full credit for putting together these step by steps.  (Just wanted to save you the bother of clicking over to another site.)

I think these napkins would be especially elegant in dark shades of red or green, painted with gold, silver or pearl paints.  Save yourself some bother and buy the napkins already made up!

What you’ll need (makes four napkins):

  • A selection of leaves in different shapes (make sure they aren’t too brittle)
  • 1 yard solid cotton or linen
  • Waxed paper or newsprint
  • Sponge brush
  • Fabric paint 
  • Brayer
  • Iron
  • Rotary cutter and mat 
  • Sewing machine and thread

Printing the Leaves
1. Lay your fabric out on a large, flat surface. Make sure your surface is protected with waxed paper or newsprint.

Here we're using autumnal colors for the leaves, but shades of green would be pretty, too.

2. Lay out another small sheet of waxed paper, and lay one leaf front side down on it.

Daub, rather than brush, fabric paint on the leaves to coat. Don't forget to get a little paint on the stem.

3. Put a small amount of fabric paint on a sponge brush and daub the back of the leaf to coat.

Place the leaf on your fabric, then roll over the entire leaf with a brayer to print it. Don't roll too hard.

4. Flip the leaf over, and lay it on fabric as desired. Roll a brayer over the leaf to print it. If you have never done this before, you might want to practice on a few scraps of test fabric first.

(Sandy’s note:  If you make a mess, and get some splatters, just do some “creative splattering” all over once you’ve printed the leaves.  Of course you meant it to be that way!)

5. Continue with the design as desired. Let the paint dry, then iron on the wrong side of the fabric to set the paint.

Making the Napkins
1. With a rotary cutter and mat, cut fabric into four 17 x 17-inch pieces.

(Sandy’s note:  Personally, if I’d bought a yard of fabric, I’d cut the squares to 18″x18″, just to not waste anything.  Having an extra 2″ would drive me nuts.  I’d probably find a way to use the 4″ strip on the other end too, lol.)

2. On one side of one napkin, fold over the edge 1/4 inch, press, and fold over 1/2 inch. Press again. Repeat on the other side. Sew down both sides close to the seam. Backstitch at each end. 

(Sandy’s note: If you own a serger, here is an excellent time to be super speedy and use the rolled hem instead.)

This is what your hems should look like at the corners.

3. Repeat on the other two sides.

4. Repeat with the other napkins. Clip all threads.

Happy creating!

Nov 162011

Today’s workdesk shows that dratted trench coat buried under what promises to be a much simpler project. It’s McCalls 5970, they call it a “Comfy Blanket,” but YOU know what it is, a snuggie!  (It doesn’t get much easier than a blanket with sleeves, lol.)


I’m always looking for something to make for my husband and two sons for Christmas and this fit the bill perfectly.


You might notice there are FOUR pieces of fabric on the table, not just three.  Of course I have to make one for me. 🙂

Wish I had time to babble some more, but I’m off to do errands.  Go here to join in the What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday fun.

Happy creating!


Nov 152011

Since I haven’t been able to work on my lampwork beads for quite some time, I’ve gotten back into a variety of sculpture that doesn’t require torch, kiln or special studio: polymer clay.  After having an idea for some fun potential products, I got sidetracked in my research by Christi Friesen’s book, Steampunkery.

Christi is a riot. Even if you never pick up a package of polymer clay, you’ll love reading her descriptions of how to go about making each project. It’s a hoot!

I got so sidetracked, in fact, that I spent a blissful Saturday afternoon creating this little steampunk chameleon. steampunk-chameleon-002

Isn’t he adorable?

(It helps to have friends who repair clocks for a living. They were able to supply me with all kinds of fun brass gadgetry. I also ordered some smaller bits and bobs here

Still working on a name for him, any suggestions?

Next I’m going to try for the dragonfly, them maybe a steampunk kitty cat.  Oooooo, the possibilities…

By the way, if you want to dip your toes into Polymer clay, I highly recommend any of Christi Friesen’s books.  These are a few I own, love and use.

Happy creating!


Nov 052011

You know, I’ve always been just a bit suspicious of those blue water-erase marking pens. They seem almost too good and too easy to be true, and I wondered about the long-term results.

Now I’m thinking I was right to wonder.

About 10 years ago I made this quilt.  mini-mariners-compass-quilt

It’s from Fons & Porter’s Fat Quarter Friendly, and was not a simple project. Those paper-pieced stars are only 5.5″ across; some of the triangles are itty-bitty. Anyhow, I just pulled it out to put up with my autumnal decor and discovered this:


No, those blue marks were NOT visible last year. (Btw, please don’t judge my appliqué work and machine quilting too harshly; I have improved a lot in the last 10 years.  😉 )

I tried spritzing with water, but this time around the marks did not disappear.  I then washed the entire thing in a load of laundry.  No joy.

After an online search, I found someone who said a white vinegar solution helped.  I let the quilt soak for a day in a 50% white vinegar solution, then ran it through the laundry again.

The results?


Only minimally better.


My suspicions were confirmed.  Whatever it is in those pens that makes the marks does NOT go away after spritzing with water.  It may no longer be visible, but the chemicals are still in there and can possibly become visible again at any later date.

I suggest you only use these kinds of marking pens on projects you aren’t going to care about in 10 years.  If you must use them, consider thoroughly immersing your entire piece to completely wash out any traces of the marking pen. (If that’s even possible.)

For me?  I’m going to stick with more traditional methods of marking from now on, such as chalk or a very fine, light pencil line.

Oct 312011

Perhaps some of you, at one point, have read my About Me page, and have read there that I love to do lampworking. Perhaps you have wondered why I never post any lampwork projects.

The sad story is that I haven’t been able to get out my beloved torch since three years ago for my birthday hubby said he’d build me a studio for lampworking. This sounded like an excellent idea, as the basement sawdust and hot glass don’t mix very nicely. (Burnt carbon makes black streaks in glass beads. Ick.) Anyhow, all my tools got packed away and work commenced. It’s been slow, but he is making good progress, and hopefully I’ll be back in the business of playing with fire very soon. 🙂

In the meantime, today’s holiday reminded me of some beads I made a few years ago. This kitty cat is a favorite of mine. The quality is not the best, I need LOTS more practice to get good, but I like it and wear it.


The cat is actually made of two beads, the head and the body are separate.  I love how the sparkly bead in the middle looks like a fancy collar.


I wear the cat year round, I only strung the candy corn beads on for pre-Halloween wear.

And here’s a funny story about the candy corn beads. You might notice that they aren’t shiny like the cat beads. In order to make them more realistic I dipped them in an acid etching solution which gives the beads their matte finish.


Shortly after I’d made them I proudly brought my new beads to show my friend, who had taught me how to lampwork. My teenage son, her teenage son and one of their friends were hanging out at her house that day. The friend, who was a nutty kid, spotted the pile of “candy”, dashed into the room, tossed them all into his mouth and sprinted out. It was only a few seconds later he came back into the room, looking appalled and spitting out my awful tasting acid etched glass beads.

I only wish I had a picture his expression, it was priceless.

Fortunately, no beads or teeth were broken in the ordeal, lol.

May all your Halloween candy be real and yummy!

Happy Halloween and happy creating.


Oct 262011

Since I’ve only found the time to sew once in the past week, my workdesk today looks much the same as last Wednesday.  (The bound buttonholes are coming along nicely, I’ll show you the results soon.)

Instead of boring you with a repeat workdesk, I thought I’d show you what I bought today.  Quilt fabric!


Don’t those cupcakes look too yummy and adorable? (I’m on the last day of a very restrictive phase of a diet, so I must have food on the brain cuz I HAD to buy this fabric, lol.)

And these jungle critters:


Don’t you just want to squeeze them?

These will be for charity quilts that my guild is making.  Here’s a link to the pattern we’ll be using.   Here’s how it’s laid out. four-patch-quilt

Many of us in the guild love this pattern because you can showcase a large scale print in the bigger squares and add coordinating fabrics all around.  It goes together quickly and easily. I’ve used it to make several baby quilts for gifts, too.

The fabric on the left in each photo is the backing, the fabric on the right is for the large squares (and the outer border for the jungle quilt.)    The stripes are for the narrow inner border.

I’ll try to remember to take pics when these quilts are done.  🙂

Happy sewing and creating and happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday!

P.S.  Just what IS WOYWW, you may be asking?  Go here to find out, it’s lots of fun!