Jun 092011

Have you ever bought or made a matching jewelry set only to find that everything matched all TOO well, and you’d never wear all the pieces together at one time?

Of course we want our look to be put together, and we want our accessories to go with and compliment each other. But what we don’t want is the matchy-matchiness we often find.

Here are a few rules that I generally follow when either purchasing or making sets of jewelry.

1. Don’t have any one major element in more than two of the pieces.

The set below works together nicely.  It would definitely look like way too much, however, if I’d used the blue ceramic beads in the earrings as well.

knotted necklace and bracelet set blue ceramic brass

2. Have something different from all the others in each piece.

In the above photo the brass lattice and wooden beads are only in the necklace, the green rounds and chips are only in the bracelet and the little turquoise beads are only in the earrings.  This helps each piece of jewelry stand on its own, yet they all are related.

3. If using the same shape as in another piece, make it a different color in another piece.

Red chunks are primary in the bracelet, so in the necklace they’re mostly blue.  Also, I didn’t use the rounds from the bracelet in the necklace, but chose to use turquoise chunks and barrels only.


bracelet set turquoise and red nugget chunks
4. If using the same color as in another piece, make it a different shape in another piece.

In the below photo you’ll find antiqued brass in all three pieces, but they are a very different shape in the earrings.

knotted necklace and bracelet set tiger eye beads

5. Don’t be afraid to use different tones and shades of your colors; it will only make the look richer.

Look again at the blue ceramic bead set and you’ll see many different shades of blue, from the very light to rather dark.  You’ll also notice many variations of browns, from the wooden beads to the brass lattice and elephant beads.

Keep these simple rules in mind whether making or buying jewelry and you’ll be more satisfied with the way your pieces blend together, rather than match perfectly.

Happy crafting!

Jun 082011

Well, so it’s What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday and you want to see what’s on my desk?  (Go here to learn more about WOYWW and travel the desks of the world, it’s fun!)

Last week I showed you my sewing machine table, this week the scene has changed a little.  My trusty machine needs some work, but at least I was able to finish machine quilting this wedding quilt before I brought it in to the shop.

Today, THIS is what’s on my workdesk:

Naturally, the black cat who likes to roll in the dirt seems to have quite an affinity for this mostly white quilt.

Here’s the scene a few days ago, while I was in the midst of quilting it:


2011-06-08-whats-on-your-workdesk-wednesday-cat and machine quilting

And today, she seems supremely unconcerned that I will have to give this thing a serious wash before giving it away.

2011-06-08-whats-on-your-workdesk-wednesday-washing cat


What’s funny, though, is that right beneath her is a a pile of binding strips, all thoroughly pinned together in preparation for sewing.


2011-06-08-whats-on-your-workdesk-wednesday cat sleeping on quilt

Miss Molly doesn’t seem to care one bit.

Hope I can find my lint brush when she gets up.

Jun 072011

Today I have a video tutorial for you showing how to make necklaces to match the Knotty Bead Bracelets I shared  few weeks back.

These are so easy and fun, I can’t stop making them!

Here’s the necklace we make in the video:

knotted turquoise and red necklace

And here’s one I just finished today, love those chunky squares.

knotted necklace with square stone beads

As I mention in the video, this one is a favorite, I wear it all the time.  Love those blue ceramic beads.

knotted blue ceramic bead necklace

I finished this one over the weekend, just in time to wear to a picnic on Sunday.  Those tiger eye stones got HOT in the sun.  So hot, in fact, that I had to take it off.  Who woulda thunk it?

knotted tiger eye bead necklace

Love these colors! (I didn’t make this one, but purchased it.  After I got it home and took a more careful look I realized just how simple it would be to make similar styles.)

knotted twine necklace purple green blue necklace

And here’s your tutorial.  Have fun!


Jun 022011

Father’s Day is coming up fast, so I thought I’d share this layout, my hubby’s first Father’s Day.

first-fathers-day scrapbook page leftI made a pocket to keep the cards he received and had a blast coloring in the frogs with watercolor pencils.  Aren’t they adorable?  Oh, and the baby’s kinda cute, too.  🙂

The title is made with Grungeboard Alphas.  First I painted them with the Denim Paint Dabber and Peeled Paint Distress Crackle Paint, then for added dimension I went over them with Rock Candy Distress Crackle Paint.

The papers are from K & Company’s Hopscotch Boy 12×12 Paper Pad and the stamp is Penny Black’s Toadily Clear Stamps set.

For watercoloring first I stamp with Black StazOn Permanent Ink (you have to use a waterproof ink or else it will run when it gets wet.)  Then I use a basic set of watercolor pencils, Faber-Castell 24-Color GRIP Watercolor EcoPencil Set is great.  A Waterbrush is perfect for doing the blending.  (This link leads to a medium size brush, but you should be sure to get fine and large sizes, too.)

first-fathers-day scrapbook page rightI asked Gary to write his own thoughts and memories for this layout, but he hasn’t done it yet.  In the meantime,  here’s what I wrote:

Gary is a wonderful, hands-on dad who loves hanging out with his new little guy.
Photo, opposite page:  Changing little boys’ diapers can be a dangerous activity. You have to be ready for anything that might spring up.  Gary always gets a fresh diaper open and ready, just in case.  Josh doesn’t seem to mind wearing it for a minute.
Photo, top middle:  The matching shirts Mom made for her two guys.
Photo, top right:  Josh often gets fussy right before his dinner time, but it takes a few minutes to warm up the bottle in hot water on the stove.  To keep him distracted, Gary flies him around while we’re waiting.  (Gary’s mom finds this maneuver quite horrifying.)

Warming up the bottle in hot water on the stove!?!  I was so very thankful when we got a microwave a couple years later.

first-fathers-day two page scrapbook layoutCropping these six photos to 3″ square, then matting them all on a 7″ x 10 ¼” rectangle lets you get a lot of pics onto one page without it looking too busy.  I like the added touch of rounding just the two left corners, it makes the whole more cohesive.

Happy crafting, all!

Jun 012011

The only changes in this workdesk for the past two weeks is that the pile of stuff has grown deeper.  I’ve been busy machine quilting a queen size quilt and haven’t done anything other than that except go shopping.  Hence, more stuff.

2011-06-01-whats-on-your-workdesk-wednesdayIn the top left corner is my jewelry making board, piled high with beads.  The beads  have to be reorganized before I can make anything else, which is why the new organizers are in the bottom left corner.

Next to the bead tray are two new patterns.  Did I NEED new patterns?  No. Do I NEED new tops? No. Were they really cute and only $1 at Joanns?  Yes.  Nuff said.

Other items on the desk includes a bracelet to be remade, it was a cool looking pattern but it’s irritating to wear, a package of supplies to make Roman shades for my living room, a list of projects to be completed, a new water erase marking pen, a plan for a scrapbook layout and my plan for quilting the queen size quilt.

I’m about halfway done with the quilt, I really hope to finish it in the next couple of days because (a) it’s going to get too stinkin’ hot around here to have a quilt draped over you, and (b) it’s keeping me from doing anything else.

Are you wondering why in the world I posted a photo of my workdesk?  Well, if you go over to Julia’s, you’ll find she’s done so as well.  In fact, you’ll find a long list of links to many other folks who have also shared in this What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday.  Check it out, it’s kinda fun!

Happy crafting.  🙂

May 292011

Here’s a super-easy but immensely practical craft to help keep your paper goods from blowing about during your next cookout or picnic.  I call them picnic weights.

 picnic tablecloth weight

It will probably take you longer to collect the materials than it will to make the craft.

You’ll need:

  • 9″-12″ squares of material to make the bundles, (tulle, netting, fabric scraps, old hankies, linen napkins, use whatever you’ve got)
  • something heavy to be the weights (rocks, marbles, glass beads, again, use what you’ve got)
  • rubber bands
  • 18″ of ribbon for each weight


Lay out your square of fabric.  I used approximately 9″ x 18″ pieces of tulle leftover from another project.  I doubled the tulle to make a 9″ square figuring it would make a more full ruffle at the top.

Lay your weights in the middle of the square.

picnic weights step 1

Gather the corners and twist.  Hold your bundle together with a rubber band.


Now tie a ribbon around the bundle, covering the rubber band.

 picnic tablecloth weight

That’s it, you’re done!  Make one weight for every stack of plates or napkins you will have.

picnic tablecloth weights

Some other uses for these weights:

  • hold down the corners of a picnic blanket
  • hold down the edges of a tablecloth
  • at the beach, to keep down the corners of a beach towel or blanket

Have a wonderful Memorial Day, everyone.  Don’t forget that it’s not all about cookouts and get-togethers with friends, but about remembering those who sacrificed everything for our freedoms.

May 262011

Lots of fun details in today’s layout.  It all started with the scalloped edge diaper pin paper by Creative Imaginations.

The woman holding the baby (who is now 23 years old and a Marine) was my mother-in-law.  We lost her in 2005.  I still miss her.  She would have been proud of Josh.

The title was done with a combination of rub ons (“baby”)  and die cuts (the Sizzix Sizzlits Script alphabet set.)  It’s a great way to stretch your supplies.  Plus, I think titles look more interesting when they’re made up of a variety of elements.

The tags are made with the Sizzix Scallop Tags red die and tied with a bit of embroidery floss.

baby-shower 12x12 scrapbook page

The blue scallops are done with Tim Holtz’s Scallops On The Edge Die.  ( I LOVE this die, it’s so versatile!)

The stack of packages is fun, but WOW, it took forever.  They were cut with the Sizzix originals Gifts yellow die, and I inked each one with Vintage Photo Distress Ink.  They were placed onto the Spellbinders Nestabilities Labels 8 Mega Die with either one or two layers of Dimensional Adhesive.

By the way, the blue bow came on a package of candy.  I always save bits and bobs like that to use in crafts, you never know when they’ll be just the perfect thing.

This 12″x12″ layout started simple, with just four 3.5″ square photos, matted on a 7.5″x11″ rectangle. A 3″x11″ strip to the left gives you plenty of room for a title, journaling or more photos.  This one is very open to interpretation, and also can be turned in any direction. Then the embellishing can begin!

scrapbook-sketch-4-3.5-photosHappy crafting ya’ll!

May 252011

Since my worktable looks remarkably the same as it did last week, I thought I’d share with you a different work surface.  My husband finished building this sewing table for me last fall.

custom built sewing machine cabinet with lift

A little over a year ago I started shopping for a sewing machine lift that I could have my husband build into a cabinet for me.  (The site is in need of some major updating, but here’s some of his other work.)  Brand new the lifts were $150, so I started checking Craigslist every day.

One week I was busy over the weekend and didn’t check the listings until Tuesday.  That’s when I found an estate sale that had been the previous Sunday, and they had had a sewing machine lift.  Augh.  I was sure it was gone.

However, when I called the number, the guy told me they still had the lift, but the dumpster was going to be picked up at 5 p.m.  If I got there before then I could have it.  For FREE. Well, you can imagine how fast I jumped into my car!

You see, the lift is the mechanism that lets you have a perfectly flat surface all around the machine; excellent for machine quilting.  Then, when the free arm is needed to do pants or sleeves and such, you press a button and the machine is lifted up.  Like this:

sewing cabinet with machine lift up

Isn’t that the coolest thing?

I’m beyond thrilled with it.  It was especially nice to take all of my personal measurements and make it a perfect ergonomic fit for me.  No more sore shoulders and neck from sewing.  🙂  He even thought of the little tray in front of the machine, having noticed that with my old set up I always had a bunch of tools in that area.

So that’s my main workdesk for this week, I’m determined to get that wedding quilt done!

If you’d like to see what this whole workdesk thingy is all about, go here to see what Julia has to say about it and check out other desks from all over.

Happy WOYWW!

May 232011

You may not think of your computer scanner as a crafting tool, but there is so much you can do with it!

Lately I’ve been using my scanner mostly to scan old photos that I plan to scrapbook.  There are several good reasons for scanning them instead of using the originals:

  • You preserve the original, especially important if you don’t have negatives
  • You can correct any flaws in the original photo (see here for an example of a rescue of a really bad old photo)
  • You can correct color shifts that may have occurred over time
  • You can print out enlargements
  • You can print out multiples for creative uses

One problem with scanners is that they often introduce color casts.  For the longest time I didn’t realize this was why I was having so many problems getting nice colors, especially in the skin tones, from my old reprints.  Not only was I trying to adjust for poor quality originals, color shifts over time, but my scanner was making everything really, really blue.

In the below example, the photo on the left shows my picture as it came off the scanner.  The middle pic is after adjusting for the scanner cast (how my photo looks in real life) and the right pic is what the picture should have looked like originally.

A                                                                                     B                                                                            Cscanner-color-correction-3-babies

Believe it or not, it’s actually tough to get from A directly to C.  It’s better to correct for one problem at a time.

To correct for scanner color cast you only need two things:

  1. Photo editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop Elements
  2. A photographer’s gray scale (sometimes called a gray card or a gray wedge.)  What you need is something that is exactly 50% gray, that is, precisely 50% white and 50% black.  (I found mine on Ebay for just a few dollars.)

The first thing you need to do is scan your gray scale and open it in Photoshop.  Use the same settings you use to scan in your photos.

Next, you’ll need to create a new Curves layer.  (This seems to be done a different way in every version of Photoshop I’ve seen. In Photoshop 7, which is what I have, you click on the small black & white circle under the Layers palette, then select “Curves.” )

scanner-color-correction-step-1-make-curves-layerNow that you have your Curves layer, click on the Curves graph in the layers palette  to open the Curves dialogue box.

Click on the middle eyedropper.  It should say something like, “set gray point.”


Now click on the section of your scanned gray scale that is supposed to be 50% gray.  (Notice how blue mine scanned in!)


Photoshop makes the adjustment and now that section of your gray scale truly is 50% gray.

At this point, your white section might look a little off.  If it does, click on the right eyedropper (“set white point”) and then click in the white area.  It should turn perfectly white.  Go ahead and click on the middle eyedropper and then the gray section once more.

Can you believe the difference?  No wonder I wasn’t happy with the way my photos were scanning!


Once you’re satisfied with your adjustments, go ahead and click “Save” in the Curves dialogue box.  Make sure to give your Curves layer a meaningful name, such as “scanner cast correction layer,” and save it someplace you’ll be able to find it later.

scanner-color-correction-step-4-save-the-adjustment-layerThe last step is make a Photoshop Action so we can easily and automatically apply this layer to any photo we scan in.

To do that, open the options in the Actions palette and select “New Action.”  Give your Action a meaningful name like “correct HP scanner color cast,”  and assign it a Function key.  (For quick reference I have a list of all my actions and their function keys right next to my keyboard.)


Now click, “Record.”

From the toolbar at the top left of your screen select Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves


When the Curves dialog box comes up click on “Load,” and select the layer you saved earlier, it should be named something like “scanner cast correction layer.”

Now you can click “Ok,” and then stop recording. (In Photoshop 7 the “Stop playing/recording” button is the green square, not the red circle.  This makes absolutely no sense to me, but there you have it.)


That’s it, your Action has been recorded and will play every time you press the corresponding Function key.

Now the next time you scan anything you can simply open it in Photoshop and press the correct Function key.  (You DID write it down somewhere, didn’t you?)  You’ll instantly have an adjustment layer that corrects the color for you. (If you want to save your photo as a jpg, bmp, etc, you’ll first have to go to Layers > Flatten Image.)

(If you ever get a new scanner, you’ll have to redo the process, as each scanner adds its own particular color cast.)

By the way, scanning is not only for photos.  Have you considered scanning in household objects to make to make your own custom papers?  How about scanning buttons, ribbons, fabric, paper clips, thread, pasta, utensils, seashells, book covers, food packaging, lace, pushpins, rubber bands, bubble wrap, confetti or yarn, just to name a few?

Have you ever needed “just a little bit more” of a particular paper or pattern?  Now you can scan it in, correct the color and print exactly what you need.  You can even print your own papers to match fabrics.

Ooooooo, yes, the possibilities are ENDLESS.

Have fun!

May 222011

So this morning before church I did a bit of clean up in my sewing room.  All the piles of fabrics to be sewn into garments went into a basket, the stacks of patterns rubber banded together so they’d stop slithering all over the floor AND I pulled out the wedding quilt to be machine quilted, along with all its accompanying patterns and plans for said quilting.

I even vacuumed the floor where all those piles had been.  Wow, that was noisy. I’m guessing I now know where all my missing beads are.

The wedding quilt-to-be was placed next to my sewing machine on the ironing board with the plan to begin work on it when I got home from church.

However, when I got home, I found this:


Well, what would YOU have done?