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?

May 182011

Today’s desk shows my preparation for getting serious about learning how to improve my machine quilting.    Last fall a fellow quilter recommended Diane Gaudynski’s Guide To Machine Quilting.  I checked it out of the library and had to agree, it was fantastic.  So I bought me a copy and have been carefully reading it, taking notes and buying new tools ever since.  (More about that another time.)


The quilt on the table is one I made years and years ago (1996, I think?) for a guild challenge.  It won first place, and I won a pack of fabrics, with which I promptly started the quilt below.  It’s called the The Country Songbird Quilt.  I actually have the center section completely done and the applique for the pillow section is complete.  Just have to quilt that, then add the borders.  THEN bind all those scallops, blah.  (The photo below isn’t mine, it’s one I found online, so I know finishing it IS possible, lol.)

Back to the quilt on the table.  I never did any quilting on it, so I’m going to use it as a practice piece before beginning work on a queen size wedding gift quilt.  The wedding was, ahem, last August?  I believe the etiquette rules say you have a year to get them a gift?  (Maybe that’s just wishful thinking, haha.)  Anyhow, it’s my goal to have it completed for them by their first anniversary.

guide to machine quilting

Can you believe this woman’s machine quilting?!  If I can get just a little bit close to what she does, I’ll be happy.

Here’s a close up of the practice quilt.  Surface embellishment is definitely my thing.  But whatever you do, don’t ever, ever try to do silk ribbon embroidery with satin ribbon.  Yup, even after 15 years I remember what a royal pain in the behind that was.


On top of the quilting book is my sewing machine manual.  I had pulled it out for help replacing the light bulb and started reading other pages, too.  Would you believe that after owning this machine for 13 years, last night I learned three new things from that manual?  Silly little, but very helpful things I wish I’d known.  Read those manuals, ladies & gents!

Beside the books is a pile of bracelets I’ve been working on.  Several got listed in my Etsy shop this past weekend.  If you’d like to make your own, I put up a video tutorial here.

To the right of the bracelets is a white notepad.  See that long list on the left?  That’s a list of most of my pending sewing projects.  The slightly shorter list on the right is of crafting projects.  Sheeeeesh, no wonder I was feeling overwhelmed.  Still am, kinda, lol.

Finally, the white sticky-back felt is to make some jersey bracelets.

Time to get off the computer and get busy!

Happy woyww, all.  🙂

P.S.  To check out what folks from all over the world have on their workdesks today, go here.

May 142011

Here’s a fun weekend project for you.


Doncha just love those funky red chunks?

knotty beaded bracelet with turquoise rounds and red nuggets

So grab your favorite something to drink, then sit back, relax and watch the how-tos.  Then make sure to grab some beads and make a few!



At the beginning of part three I show a diagram which I promised to post on the blog.  Here it is:

knotty beaded bracelet slider knot diagram

Also, here’s a close up of the slider:

knotty beaded bracelet slider closure close up

And, finally, our finished bracelet again.  Have fun!


If you just gotta have one, but don’t feel like making it yourself, there are a few available in my Etsy shop.

May 112011

In the interest of full disclosure, today’s workdesk is not just as I found it this morning.  I had to whip the “top secret art quilt project”  off the table and replace it with a project from another work area.  (Otherwise it would have been a fairly empty table and that would have been boring, wouldn’t it?)


I’m getting set up to make a bracelet, AND make a video showing you how easy it is to make the bracelet.  I’d love say I’m going to have it up later today, but common sense keeps yelling at me, “Are you nuts? No way, not gonna happen!”

Actually, I’m off to such a slow start this a.m., I’ll be lucky to get the video shot today.  Sheesh. We shall see .

In the meantime, mine is not the only desk out there for perusal.  You can check out many other folks’ workdesks at this link.  Try it, it’s rather fun.

Have a great Wednesday!


May 092011

Since Saturday was National Scrapbooking Day, and Sunday was Mother’s Day, I thought I’d share with you my First Mother’s Day scrapbook layout.

I had a LOT of fun with this, after doing many boy-type pages with blues and greens, I went all out girly.  🙂

first-mothers-day scrapbook page left

This one is FULL of fun techniques, it was such a blast to do! Here are just a few of the products and techniques:

  • The QuicKutz Spooky Scroll border die to make the arches. I don’t think they look spooky at all, but put me in mind of a garden trellis.
  • For the journaling tag, the Spellbinders Nestabilities Mega Dies, Labels 8
  • For the flowers, several layers of white mulberry paper, cut with the Sizzix Flower Layers #3 die.  Simply crumple each of the flowers after die cutting, then stack, offsetting the petals.
  • I used Dimensional Adhesive to make a pocket for the Mother’s Day cards I received.  The one you can see, “For You Daughter,” was actually from my mother-in-law.  How sweet! It still brings tears to my eyes when I read it.
  • The transparencies are Prima Clear Paintables.  They come in 12″x12″ sheets with four 6″x6″ designs on each sheet.  It was a blast painting the back side with alcohol inks and blending solution.  Go here (steps 1-15) to see terrific step-by-step instructions by Tim Holtz for this technique.  (One of these days I’ll make a video for ya’ll.)
  • The background papers are from K and Company’s Que Sera Sera Collection.  LOVE those papers.  I’ll be sad once I’ve used up the whole paper pack.

first-mothers-day two page scrapbook layout

Each of those little squares was done with a different technique involving distress inks, rubber stamping, embossing and painting with a variety of media.  I’ll share each one in a separate tutorial some time soon.

first-mothers-day scrapbook page right

It’s hard to believe that little baby is now 23 years old and a Marine.  Jeepers, where does the time go?

I’ll leave you with the journaling:

My first Mother’s Day was May 8, 1988, Joshua was just 17 days old.  Our church always had special recognition for the mom’s on that day: the mom with the most kids, the grandma with the most grandkids, the newest mom, etc. My friend, Karen Wilson, went into labor at nearly the same time as I did.  Our husbands were surprised to see each other in the waiting room at the hospital.  Sadly, by the time I was ready to go home with Josh, she was still in labor.  It was awful and lasted over 72 hours for her.  So, when she got the Newest Mom roses, beating me out by less than 48 hours, I was happy for her.  She told me later she thought of sharing them with me, but decided she’d earned them.  I heartily agreed!