Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fabric Scrap Organization

     I’m really bad at before and after pictures.  I have been organizing today, and every project I have taken on would have been a great before and after… Oh well.  I don’t have a before picture of my scrap fabric bin, but I can share how I made such a vast improvement.  And yes, it is a vast improvement.  My scraps actually fit in my scrap bin! And they still fit even after I added all my yarn!

     My method to decide what it worth keeping and what is not is simple.  I asked myself one question, and poof! most of my scraps disappeared.  (Although this may not seem like a big deal to most people, I have *some* pack-rat tendencies, so I’m really proud of my latest attempts to get rid of unnecessary things)  I asked myself “is it worth ironing?” I’m not a big fan of ironing, but after several wonky outfits, I have found the importance of ironed fabric.  And so if the fabric scrap in question was worth ironing, it was placed in one pile, it is was not, it was trashed before I could think twice!

     After a quick ironing (it doesn’t have to be perfect because I will iron it at least once more before I use it) I fold the scrap into a roughly square shape.  This is easier said than done on some scraps.  But it can be done!

     When it is square, I put it into a pile with all the other like colors (I love to organize by color, if the husbandman wouldn’t have a heart attack, I would even sort my bookcases this way)

     Then I took some piping and tied it around each bundle (any string or yarn would work, I just had a lot of piping left over from my cupcakes.) And that’s it! Everything is now neat, folded, sorted, and easy to find!

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Weekend Bloggy Reading

Favorite Nursery Rhymes

     I have been toying with some ideas for my first clothing line.  I am so sad that No Big Dill's month of Once Upon a Thread is coming to an end, and I was thinking on how to use some of the wonderful ideas she came up without copy-catting. Then some little voice inside the chaos of my mind whispers, why not do nursery rhymes? Aha! What a great idea for clothing for little ones! They can be sweet, vintage, clever, and at times, just a little bit over the top.  (The only unfortunate thing about this voice was that it decided to speak to me in the middle of the night and would not be hushed until I finally gave up and wrote it down and sketched it out...)

Images from Google
     My creative side seems to love this idea and has run miles with it! The only problem is that I have run out of nursery rhymes to sketch out and play with!! So I'm asking for your help. What are your favorite nursery rhymes?  I'm going to go sit down with my parent's Mother Goose book illustrated by Tomie dePaola, and my old Beatrix Potter books, but I really want to know which nursery rhymes have stuck with you.  Which one do you tell your children? Which ones just make you smile?

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Winter's Last Fling

     We overslept for church Sunday morning, and during the chaos of trying to make both of us presentable, it never occurred to me to open the blinds and look out the window.  Luckily for me, for whatever reason, this did thought did seize the husbandman.  Confused, but willing to play along, I walked over to the blinds at his suggestion, opened them a crack, then squealed, did a happy dance, grabbed my camera, slipped into the husbandman's cowboy boots and clumped outside as fast as I could!

     Before I confuse you about why this sight was so important, let me share an important anecdote about myself.  I love snow.  I mean I LOVE snow.  In my mind it is the best thing ever.  Spring is beautiful, and I love spending time in the warm sunshine, and its a close second to winter, but nothing beats snow.  This is one of the reasons, I'm struggling with the fact that the husbandman has decided to go to FSU of all places for grad school.  Tallahassee, in August?! No snow, not even close.

     So when I saw about an inch of snow on the ground, in late March, it made my year! I don't think I have ever loved snow as much as I did three days ago. I was so grateful that it had come around one more time.  Moving to Florida is going to be hard for me, and I was so happy that He saw fit to send me one last snow storm, just a few days after we made the final decision. It had completely melted off by the time church got out, but it was there, it lifted my spirits, and it gave me peace.

     How about you? What sights make you melt inside?  Was Virginia the only place that got snow?

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Camera Questions

     I'm back! The cupcake challenge went very well, I'll have a whole post on it up soon. How was your past week? I have a question for any camera lovers.  My little Fujifilm FinePix is struggling to keep up with the hard use I've been putting it through, and I think it is finally time to replace it.  These are the three I'm trying to chose from:

Fujifilm FinePix S1800

     This one is the one that I first wanted, it has all the  brand new technology that I love such as Smile and Blink Detection, Tracking Auto Focus, and Auto Picture Rotation.  It also comes with HD Movie Capture and an 18x Fujinon Optical Zoom Lens.  It has amazing reviews from every site I checked. The only con is its size. I love to be able to tuck my camera in my purse and just go.  This wont fit. 

FujiFilm FinePix Z800EXR

     This was my next thought.  Its compact, and has almost all of the features of the S1800, plus a few cool ones of its own like Motion Panorama 360 and a huge touch screen. But it does not have the smile detection or the tracking focus, which were my favorite things about the S1800

Nikon COOLPIX S4100

     This one is the dark horse.  I tend to have extreme brand loyalties, and I am used to the Fujiflim, I have never used a Nikon.  I know its one of the huge camera brands, I just know nothing about them personally.  And this model has no reviews.  That's big for me.  I don't how it handles or anything else about it.  However, it does have the smile detection I was looking for while still being compact.

     What do y'all think? What do you use? What do you recommend? What is your dream camera?
     Oh, if you wanted to know what my dream camera is, I'll show you.  This is amazing, it just looks breathtakingly vintage, add in the features, and its perfect. If I win the lottery, this would be it! (it even has it's own webpage...)

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011


     I'm so sorry for falling off the edge of the world.  Things here have been crazy, covering everything from hitting a deer on a major highway to sewing frantically for the cupcake challenge.  I thought I could keep up with the blog too, but there just aren't enough hours in the day.  But, I will be back next Monday, the 28th I believe with several wonderful posts to make up for the time off (there are several bouncing around in my head including How to Get Away with Spending the Day Outside in the Sunshine and The Cupcake Challenge!)
Just some of the things I need for cupcakes (Taking all my hand sewing outside? Yes Please!)

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Felt Cupcake Tutorial

     Lately I have been frantically sewing felt cupcakes for my first job, my aunt's Cupcake Challenge.  And since I'm making so many of these, I thought I might go less stir-crazy if I knew someone out there was making them too! And in order for someone (anyone?) to join me, I have to share the inside secrets of how I make them. So... here you go! How to make a felt cupcake to wow your friends, family, or random strangers you meet walking down the street in a little over an hour!

For each cupcake, you will need:
  • A few scraps of felt, (I always look in the remnant bin first, it will be more than enough to make a cupcake, I usually get at least three out of mine)
  • A sewing machine (not necessary, but nice)
  • A needle and thread (the pieces get too small to sew on the machine)
  • Beeswax (again, not necessary, but very, very helpful when hand sewing)
  • A package of piping
  • A button
  • Fiber Fill stuffing
  • Pinking shears and fabric scissors 

                                                      There are three pattern pieces. The
                                                      first is a circle 4.5 inches in diameter.
(I just traced a bowl.) Cut of a wedge from the middle to make it look like Pacman. Then you will need half of an arch, 6in inches at its widest point, three at its narrowest, and about three inches tall. (I cut apart a cupcake liner and then just made it a little taller.)  Then you will need one more
                                                     circle, this one almost 2 inches
                                                     in diameter. Then cut out one of each
                                                     circle and two arches to look like this:

     Fold the big circle in half and sew up the Pacman mouth. This is your top, and sewing the slice up gives it some shape, making it rounded rather than flat.

     It should look like this when you are done, the middle is about two inches higher than the sides.  Don't worry about the seam, it will be covered with the "frosting".

     Then sew place both arches together, one on top of the other, and sew the straight sides together. (You could also cut the piece on a fold and then you'd only have to sew one seam (this is how I created the pattern to work, but I forgot when it came time to cut everything out) either way works just fine.)

     It should look like this when you turn it right-side out.  Place to the side, you wont need it quite yet.

     Pick a color piping to use. I don't pin the piping to the cupcake top, but you can if you wish (it might get a little bulky though and hard to sew.  The felt does a great job of holding everything in place, so you really don't need to pin it, but if it makes you feel better, go ahead.) Try and keep about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch between the first row of piping and the edge of the felt, this makes it much, much easier to sew the top to the body. Sew as close to the piping cord as you can, I like to sew right on top of the manufacturer's stitches, it helps blend the two colors of thread if you can't get an exact match. (This is great chance to use up filled bobbins, no one ever sees the bobbins thread, and it makes no sense to wind new bobbins for such a small amount of sewing)

     When you come back around to the end of the piping, tuck it under the second row and just keep going! (You may have to slow down here, Madeline had a hard time getting over both cords, and needed a helpful tug.)

     Try and keep the second row as close to the piping cord of the first row as you can, the rows tend to gape a little because of the roundness of the top when the cupcake is stuffed.  Sewing the rows flush seems to help keep things looking a lot neater.

     Keep going around until you can't possibly make another row. (This one should have had one more row sewn.) Make sure to sew the edge of the pipping down into the middle of the open area, it will fray and you will want to be able to cover it in the next step.

This is what the back looks like (I think it looks neat, excuse the randomness.)

     Then go find a button big enough to cover your open area in the middle of your cupcake, but don't pick one that is so big that it takes over screaming "look at me!"  This is my button jar, I keep it handy, and it is almost always useful.

     Sew down your button. I recently found out that you can sew buttons on with the sewing machine and it changed everything.  Set your sewing machine to a zig-zag stitch, and shorten the distance between your stitches to zero so that the needle just moves back and forth and the feed-dogs do not pull the fabric forward. (It just hit me that you could just turn the feed-dogs off...) Then widen your stitches to the width of the holes in the button.  After several broken needles, I always take care to turn the crank on the side of the machine, rather than using the foot pedal until I know for sure that I have the right width selected.

     Your top is finished! Pin it to the body of the cupcake (the two arches) with the right sides together.  I found that I can sew these two pieces on Madeline if I go very slowly, carefully, and if I have left a decent gap between the pipping and the edge of the felt. I like to use a small zig-zag stitch rather than a straight stitch (it somehow seems more secure.)  Doing it by hand may be easier, its up to you.  Here are some of my tips for hand-sewing.

     Turn the cupcake right side out.  This is the hardest part.  Luckily felt can take some tugging and pushing.

     Go ahead and stuff your cupcake.  I like mine to be a little under-filled so that they are still soft and squishy, but really its however you think looks best. You will have to hand-sew the rest, the bottom is just too small for the machine, it really doesn't take much time and just giving up and hand-sewing it saves a lot of headaches and frustrations.  I like to use a blanket stitch to get everything really neat and tight.

     You will see this seam, but if you work neatly enough it wont matter, and it will be hidden by the cupcake liner anyways so it really doesn't matter.

Ta-Da! Your cupcake is done!! See, that wasn't so bad!

     Now onto the liner/paper/holder (whatever you want to call it.) Cut out one small circle and two more arches out of any color felt that pleases you, maybe match it to the icing or the button. (I did neither, I just like pink.) Use pinking shears (if you have them) to cut out the long arch, to make it look more like the pleated liners. Sew the two arches together, just like you did for the body of the cupcake.

    Sew on the bottom (by hand again) but you can sew it to the inside of the liner so that you hide the seam when you turn the liner right-side-out and slide in your cupcake. Put the cupcake inside the liner, and you're done!! That's it.  I found that this type of "icing" was by far the most popular, but let me know if you want to know how I made the other two types and I'll whip up another tutorial.

     As a side note, I have a question for all of you amazing readers. What kind of posts would you like to see more of? Do you look forward to the tutorials like this one? Do you crave the stories? Or are you just in it for the photography (although that's unlikely, my photography skills need a lot of work, I really want to take a class this summer.)  How can I hep give you what you're looking for?

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Birthday Party!

     Well, after running around like a chicken with its head cut off, sewing frantically, hot gluing my fingers to paper, my finger to the table, and my finger to other fingers (I did a lot of hot gluing), and being so stressed out that the sheer magnitude of my stress stressed my mother and the husbandman out (and he doesn't stress about much) Miss G's first birthday party was a huge success!
     We ate cake
     We opened Presents
     We pulled the decorations off the wall (these ones were made just for her and scattered throughout the kitchen and living for for her to find, I don't anyone else even noticed them)
     We played with our new toys
     We explored the wide outside world
     We made lots of faces
     And we just hung out with family on an amazingly beautiful day
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