Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Crafty’ Category

The past two weeks have kept me more busy than normal. Volunteering, working on things for a banquet, a party here, meetings, etc., all mixed in with doctors appointments. I was really ready for these past weeks to be over.

A few nights ago was one of the parties and a group of us have been working for several months to get the decorations finished. It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work.

004

Bringing a group together and working to come up with ideas that we all can agree with and be happy with can be a challenge. We really wanted to keep the decorations simple, but make a statement with an old-fashioned Christmas theme in mind. From a center piece on each table that was a simple as a stack of wrapped presents, to foot after foot of red and green paper chains. From a small handmade box with a treat for each person to other die-cut things on each table, I think we were successful.

025

The banquet went very well, and we had a lot of very nice complements on the decorations. That put a smile on my face.

Have you come up with some simple and creative ways to decorate for a large party or banquet? 

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Are you inspired by all the great handmade gifts our writers have been making? We like to cook things for the ones we love as well! Here’s some handmade recipes for holiday giving!

****

Of course, sweets are the mainstay of homemade holidays, but this year I decided to go savory. Every year I grow tomatillos, make pints and pints of salsa verde, and then it sits on the shelf because no one eats it. Naturally, this year I decided I’ll make it in half-pint sizes, and then use it for gifts. I made 20 half-pints. When I went to check for this photo, I was down to 11; I think my husband has been eating it because of the nice small sizes. I used Rick Bayless’ wonderful recipe, and grew everything myself except the limes. By the way, this stuff is great on pizza!Salsa

***

Well, Xan has me drooling over her salsa verde.

With the successful zucchini growing season this fall, I (Sincerely, Emily) knew exactly what some people were going to be getting this year for gifts! Zucchini Relish!  I started making this recipe back in the fall of 2009 with a few zucchini from my garden (before the nasty borer got to it!) and more from the farmers market. Now I am thrilled I can use all of my own, homegrown zucchini for the recipe. I have not harvested my horseradish yet, or I would have used that too!) I found the recipe over at Homesteading in Maine and I also have the zucchini relish recipe posted (with permission) over at my blog too.

Zucchini Relish 2We love this relish on sandwiches in place of mayo.

***

Read Full Post »

I really enjoy giving handmade gifts (like the fabric napkins that I posted about last December.) Those gifts are usually made by me. One of my nieces has a birthday at the end of November. In fact it was just a few days ago so I had to wait until it was passed before I posted about her gift this year.

Since she was very very young I have always made her pillowcases. A pillow case for each season plus summer, winter, fall, spring themed ones as well. I can still look into my magic ball and see more pillowcases in her future, but wanted to come up with something different for this birthday.

As I was snooping around a thrift store a few weeks ago, I saw a small jewelry box. It was pretty plain (sorry, I completely forgot the “before” photo) but it had potential. I knew I could give it a facelift, but it also appealed the the frugal and thrifty side of me as well.

My original plan was to paint the entire jewelry box white and then “white-wash” it with a metallic silver to give it some pizazz and sparkle. I started with the white. I found a can of white spray paint in our garage and decided to use it to make quick work of covering the whole box. It needed two coats and even then the spray paint wasn’t covering the wood very well.

not covering the wood very well at all

I decided to get out my acrylic paints and go for better coverage with those. That worked a lot better, but the spray paint left a glossy finish and the acrylic paints left a mat finish, so I knew then I would need to apply a clear glossy top coat in the end.

Once the paint was on it was time for the silver metallic “white-wash.” I started wiping the silver on and instantly was not happy with the look at all! It was not looking all shiny and sparkly like it was in my vision. As I wipe it off for the full “white-wash” effect, it even looked worse. Again, sorry, no photo because at this point I knew I wanted to get as much of the paint off as I could and needed to work quickly.

So I just took one huge step backwards and needed to paint those surfaces white again and come up with another plan. By the way, this was Tuesday and I intended to mail the box on Wednesday. Nope, that didn’t happen! Not with another coat of white paint, plus dry time, plus what ever design I was going to paint, plus dry time, clear coat, dry time – you get the picture. I knew if I wrapped it up in one of my fabric gift bags before it was completely dry that the bag would be stuck to the box when my niece went to open it – not good.

The jewelry box did have a cut design into the wood so I felt I was a bit limited and so I decided to follow that pattern with dots. Dots are super super easy to do, if you know the trick. Use the end of your paint brush – the end without the bristles. Dip it in your paint and then touch it the surface you want the dot on. The size of the end of your brush will determine the size of your dot. Be sure to do a few test dots before you do this on your actual project and depending on the medium you are using you may get 1-2 dots before you need to reload the end of your brush, or you may only get 1 dot. The silver metallic paint I was using was pretty thin, and I wanted a substantial dots with a sparkly impact, so I needed to dip the end of my brush in the paint for each dot.

I did get the front and top of the box done and was going to move onto the sides, but time was not on my side.

I hope that my niece will like her new jewelry box.

Have you ever given something old a much needed facelift?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

My 9 year old niece is visiting us in Texas for the first time and we are doing a lot of new and fun things while she is here.

Visiting my friends next door is definitely a high point where feeding the “wild” deer has ranked #1. The first day she went out with my neighbor, then he decided she could go out on her own the next morning.  The deer were a little shy that first day on her own, but the second day she had one eating out of her bucket and she could reach out and pet it too. What an experience!

After she fed the deer, she would join Poppy (the bunny) who was out hopping and running around the yard for a little exercise. It was hard to tell who was having more fun: Poppy or my niece. Poppy would run and hide, my niece would run after him and then he would pop out and run to her. She would then pet him and he would turn and hop off in another direction. When Poppy was ready for a break, he would head for his resting spot under and bench, dig a little, then sprawl out and cool off for a while. When he was ready to go, the games continued.

Blackie (the cat) had to get in on the fun too. A good belly scratch was in order and my niece loved it as much as Blackie I think.

This list doesn’t end there. There were Koi and other fish to feed out in the water gardens. She talked to the cockatoo and the macaw.  Fed the turtles and peeked in on the doves. Our daily visit was full of adventures. Full of new experiences and learning opportunities and there was a lot of time to explore.  Then we would head home and eat our lunch before heading upstairs to make cards.

I have made cards to give to my niece before and also made cards for her to put together, but this was the first time we have made cards together, so I went through choosing designer papers, and colored papers. Talked about layouts and other creative options. She had a great time adding ribbon and using the stamps and ink and then she put the cards together. Before we knew it, she had three cards made up and was ready to send them off in the mail, so we dropped them off at the post office on our way downtown to meet my husband for dinner.

We stopped and met my husband at work to look at some of the airplanes that he flies and maintains, then we headed downtown to Riverwalk. It was a week night and not very crowded down there. We had dinner at a Mexican restaurant followed by a boat tour on the river. We had a lot of fun down there.

I also showed her how to knead bread. I completely forgot to get the aprons out, so there was a bit of flour covering her when we were done. Not a disaster by any means, it was actually funny and we both had a good laugh.

As you read this, we are out on yet another adventure. Today is my quarterly manure pick up day, so we will head out early this morning to shovel horse poo into our truck. She will get to meet my friend and cowboy (who is also a singer/songwriter). She will get to meet his four horses; 3 paints and 1 kiger mustang. And she has even asked if she can help load the manure (really, she asked!)

I have wonderful memories of spending time with my Great Aunt. She introduced me to so many creative and wonderful things.  I remember how special I felt to when I was invited to spend time with an adult (My Great Aunt.) It gave me a feeling of independence and confidence, yet I realize now that I still was under the care and watchful eye of a family member that loved me.  I only hope that I have helped to create some wonderful memories and experiences for my niece and that I have more opportunities as the years go by.

Do you have someone that made you feel special when you were younger? Someone who taught you things and opened up your world to creativity and fun?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

Read Full Post »

I’m a brand new knitter. I love it. I love the stockinette stitch: it makes me giggle all over with happiness. I’m new to knitting, but i’m not new to crafting with yarn: i originally learned that ‘other’ yarn art: crochet. Some deem crochet low brow, kitchy, less advanced or somehow just not as refined as knitting. But you know what? Crochet is just as good as knitting, it’s just DIFFERENT (and usually way faster!)

Although i’ve been spending most of my time working on knitted hats, scarves and recently trying out lace (all with my handspun yarn) i took the time to write out a pattern of sorts to help folks reintroduce themselves to the functional art of crochet. Ever seen someone shopping at the farmer’s market carrying one of these sexy market bags? Want one for yourself? You could spend $25 on one of them and support an artisan, which is nice in its own way. OR you could learn how to make one yourself, and them make dozens of them in all sorts of sizes and colors for mere pocket change! Hold your onions in the kitchen, shop for tomatoes at the market, throw in some paperbacks for a day at the beach: the possibilities are endless! *Disclaimer: i am not a master crochet pattern writer, and i usually just ‘wing’ these bags. The pattern i wrote out is not the end and be all of the best way to make them, in fact – if i did it over i would have all the mesh holes be much smaller – so learn this pattern, then fiddle with it to suit your needs.

Visit my two part series (one, two) over at An Austin Homestead for the tutorial, and post photos of your crochet craft at my Flickr group. Just want the quick basics? Already know how to crochet? Make an easy crocheted market or produce bag by following these basic guidelines:

  1. Crochet a flat circle, first using single crochets, then doubles, then triples until you have a circle about 9-10 inches wide
  2. Build the height of the bag by alternating triple crochets with simple chain stitches, crocheting around the chain below, in between two crochet stitches to create a mesh
  3. Keep going until you get as tall as you like!
  4. Finish by alternating double crochet and chain 1 several times per mesh hole, then weaving a draw string through the top

Visit An Austin Homestead for the full shabang!

Do you crochet or knit? Do you ever ‘wing-it’ or are you a strict pattern follower?

*This market bag pattern, and all tutorials found on An Austin Homestead, or re-published at Not Dabbling in Normal are presented for your personal use only. Tutorials and/or objects made from my tutorials may not be sold commercially (that includes Etsy or Ravelry!). If you want to sell something based on one of my tutorials, please email me at gonudesoap at gmail dot com and we’ll try to work out a fair deal. Please play nicely!

Read Full Post »

With all my traveling, sewing, soap making and present wrapping, i missed out on participating in much handmade holiday conversation here at Not Dabbling, so my post this week will be a run down of all the projects i worked on this year.

Check out An Austin Homestead in the next week or two to see all my projects revealed. You can also find all my original handmade holiday posts in the archives on the left sidebar.

I got started with my holiday gifts early this year, beginning in September with some canned blackberry jam made from berries i picked just down the road, blended with dried cayennes saved from my Austin garden.

While i harvested gobs of berries and sold veggies to folks at the local farmer’s market, i was inspired to make my own produce bags for use at market and at home. I played around with my crochet hooks and came up with a sweet and easy pattern. I made at least 6 of these to give to several family members as Christmas gifts. *And i’ll be posting a tutorial on how to make your own market bag soon- so stay in touch and crochet with me!

My spinning wheel was a big contributor to my gifts this year. Not only did i give some beautiful skeins of “meriboo” (merino/bamboo) yarn to my mother in law, i also spun the yarn for several knitting projects for other loved ones. One mother has a new scarf, one father has a new hat, and each sister has a headband or hat. I am especially proud of two hats i knitted for my two best friends. One is in Texas, the other in New York and thus one has ‘not so warm’ hat, and the other an extra warm hat made of handspun quivit fiber (musk ox). I don’t yet know how to follow a knitting pattern, so all my projects come out rather “uniquely” which makes them even more special: they’re the only ones like them!

Giving my handmade gifts filled me with so much pride this year. I think my recipients loved their gifts, and i could tell they were all touched by my truly ‘hands on’ experience with each of their presents. Whether spun then knit, or picked then canned: all my gifts started with me from scratch to become treasured and useful possessions that will hopefully remind my recipients of me whenever they taste, wear or use them. To sit down to spin yarn for a project for someone you love to enjoy for years to come: THAT is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. For me, at least.

In these dark days after Christmas (and other gift giving holidays) and before the new year, what thoughts and gifts are you pondering – both given and received? What present (given or received) stands out in your memory as the most treasured this year?

Read Full Post »

I learned to sew when I was 15 or 16 years old. My mom bought me a machine (the same one I still use) and I had some basic lessons from the store where the machine came from – more to familiarize you with your new machine that actually teaching you how to sew. I then started some proper sewing lessons from a family friend. I remember Making a sweatshirt was my first project. In my 20’s I sewed some clothes from time to time and made a few simple curtains for our house. I would patch things too. In my late 30’s I started making napkins and placemats. Nothing fancy, but very functional.

Recently I have taken a few classes to brush up on reading patterns and re-learning techniques like zippers, elastic, shirring and alterations. I found a great teacher and have re-learned some old things and learned a ton of new things as well.

I am not a seamstress, but I am so glad I have a sewing machine (affectionately called “The Dinosaur” – after all it is over 30 years old and weighs about 40 lbs.) I have made many gifts with my old trusty machine and it is time to dust it off and make a few more…  Christmas and wintery napkins for my brother and his kids. Today over at Sincerely, Emily  I have taken a little walk down memory lane about growing up using fabric napkins. I hope the gift of these napkins will create some good memories for my brother and his kids.

When I started making many napkins I decided to make a template out of tag board. With the template I didn’t have to keep the measuring tape out each time I cut a napkin out, I just use the template and cut around it. I had to make a new template and this one was made out of cardboard. Instead of cutting directly around it (it is pretty thick) I used a disappearing ink pen (specially made for fabrics) and traced the outline and then cut. (! Sorry for the TERRIBLE photo – not sure what happened there…)

Template for napkin

I wanted a 17” square finished napkin and I fold under a full inch on each side so my template is 19” square.

Depending on the width of your fabric and shrinkage, and also the size of your napkin, you can usually get 4 napkins in 1 ¼ yard of fabric. Always wash your fabric in warm or hot water BEFORE you do any cutting. Sometimes fabric can shrink quite a bit. You want to make sure that shrinking happens before you start your project, not after. With napkins that isn’t as devastating as it would be if you made a pair of pants. Make it a habit to wash your fabric first.

I am not an expert at sewing (or the proper sewing terminology). “Pictures are worth a thousand words” so if my words confuse you I really hope the pictures will help.

Now that you have cut out your napkins, start by pressing under ½”. Do this on each side. Steam on your iron helps set that fold or you can use a spray bottle with water to mist your fabric before ironing. It is important that those pressed lines hold and create a nice crisp edge.

Press your edges in

Continue around again, pressing another ½” under. Remember to use steam or your spray bottle. You want those pressed fold line to show as we continue on.

Unfold your pressed edges. You are using the fold lines in each corner to cut away a bit of your corner to help create a nicely mitered corner

Showing your cut line & 2nd fold line (dot)

I have drawn on the fabric so you can see the fold lines easier. I have also drawn the 45 degree angle line where you are going to trim the corner of your fabric off. There are two purposes for cutting this corner. You don’t want any fabric to stick out under your mitered corner, but it also helps reduce the bulk of the fabric you have to sew through at each corner.

Your cut

In the two above photos you also see where I have placed a dot – that is the reference point you are using to make your second fold. Stay tuned… that is coming shortly, but I wanted you to notice that reference point now.

Make your first ½” fold again.

Now it is time to use that reference point (the dot) from the above photo. Fold the corner down at a 45 degree angle. The fold line should be on that reference point. Press that fold to help hold it in place.

2nd fold - fold line is on the dot

Fold over ½” again. Your initial pressed lines should help. Your corners should come together and meet creating a nice mitered corner.  Press.

3rd fold and press

I tend to complete one corner at a time before moving onto the next. Pressing along the way to keep all the folds neat.

You are now ready to sew.

I don’t like to start right in the corner.  I start about 1” before the corner. That way, when I come back around I can sew directly over that first inch of stitching, locking in my threads, and end in the corner. There are no rules here, do what ever you are comfortable with.

My starting point

Sew in once continuous line. Pivot at the corners and continue until you have gone all the way around.

Showing overlap as you come around

Trim your ends.

You are done. Mitered fabric napkins.

Are any of you sewing some holiday gifts this years? What are you making? Add a link to your comment if you have posted about it on your blog.

Sincerely, Emily

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: