Monday, February 28, 2011

Super Mario Bros. Cross Stitch

Today I made this little Mario cross stitch. It took about 1.5 hours to do (while I was "watching" tv.) It's something I will probably end up adding on to at a later date, but for today we'll call it done. It was fairly easy to do, since the original image was an 8 bit pixelated video game. I'll be honest, It's kind of a hybrid of two much more complicated projects I had planned for this month that I ran out of time to finish (one cross stitch, and one with Mario).

So look forward to much more crafty goodness in March.

Here is a closer look at Mario himself. He's probably not as nice as he could be, but I like him all the same. It's a nice little throw back to the original Nintendo system, makes me wish I still had mine.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Luggage Tags

I'm going to be taking a trip soon to visit my brother and his family in Wisconsin. While it's no tropical beach, it's a vacation nonetheless and I made myself this little luggage tag to brighten my bag up. I just used some of my leftover vinyl from this project, and some felt. There is a little slot opening on the back to slide in a business card. You could also use this little tag as a reusable gift tag, a little photo frame or hook it to your messenger bag or briefcase and keep your bus ticket inside.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Make Your Own: Rubber Stamps

Today I decided to make my own rubber stamp. Above you will see all the tools I used to create it: linoleum cutting tools, a 2.5" x 2.5" Artist Carving Block(they are like those worthless white plastic erasers you used to be required to buy for school--at least I was required to buy them) stamping ink and paper. Start with any image you like (it's easiest if it has bold lines or is black and white. Carve out the negative space (the space you don't want to be inked on the paper) if you use words, keeps in mind you will get a mirror image of what you carve, so plan accordingly.

Here is my final image. I did a little tornado landscape kinda thing. I was pretty uninspired, but it turned out kinda cute, I'm just glad I don't live in that lonely little house that is about to get eaten. NOM!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Food Craft: Roasted Acorn Squash Gnocchi

This was so so good! It is much easier than I thought it would be, though my gnocchi aren't shaped with the most expert hands by any means.

You will need:
1/2 an acorn squash, roasted until soft
1 medium russet potato, roasted until soft
1 egg plus 3 egg yolks
2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting

First, roast your potato and your acorn squash until the flesh is tender, about 40 minutes (my potato took longer than the squash). Set these aside to cool 10-15 minutes.

Next, use a potato ricer or a box grater and grate your squash and potato into a large mixing bowl (I used a box grater as I do not have a potato ricer, but the texture from a ricer is much smoother in the end product).

Separate your egg yolks and mix them together with your whole egg. Add this to your squash/potato mixture.

Add about 1 1/4 cups of flour and mix your dough well, add more flour as needed (the final dough should be firm, not sticky.

To form the gnocchi I separated my dough into 4 or 5 smaller balls. Roll each one into a large "snake" and cut pieces about 1 inch in length. Roll each piece along the back of a fork to give your gnocchi grooves for your sauce (there will also be a nice thumb dent in the back for more yummy sauce!).

Boil your gnocchi in batches, it is done when it floats to the surface. I use a straining spoon to get mine out so the water never stops boiling between batches.

Add any sauce you like. The flavor from the squash is very subtle, so this is a great way to get some extra nutrients in your diet. I added a garlic butter sauce, but a cream sauce, tomato sauce, etc would be fabulous. I think next time I will try a brown butter sauce with nutmeg. Yummy!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lightbulb Terrarium

This super cute terrarium is made out of an old refrigerator light bulb that burned out a couple weeks ago. I got some moss, sand and a cute little hippo figurine to stick inside, though now I think the little guy could use a tiny air plant or something to cheer him up, I'm sure moss tastes terrible too.

Also, don't forget to vote on the blog poll at the right of the page for the kinds of crafts you would like to see more of! February is coming to an end soon, and with it the project a day, and I would like to know what you want to see more of in the months to come!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hand Painted Glassware

These glasses were hand painted by me as a housewarming gift for a friend. I had never painted on glass before (I didn't realize special paint for just such a process was even made). However, I had a friend here in Portland make me a mug with a mustache painted on it and had to go looking for this amazing paint to try it myself. I decided to put those years of art school to good use and do some woodland creatures on my glasses.

The paint I found came in a little set of 8 colors from the company Folk Art(they make mostly acrylic paints). I was pleasantly surprised that the whole set was only about 4 dollars, so this is a project that anyone can try without having to invest a lot of money. Also, any glass will do. You could go to a yard sale or thrift store and pick up super cheap glasses, vases, old jars, etc. The important thing is that you clean the surface thoroughly with alcohol and allow it to dry before painting. If you are not sure where you can find the paint in your area, I found some online with a huge assortment of colors, including chalkboard paint, here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Felt Containers

If you are like me, you have little bits of this and that all over the place. These things need a home. What better home than a little fabric container, in this case: felt.

I used two colors of felt to give the containers some extra strength as well as being extra nice to look at.

They are then sewn together to make a little box (you could get really fancy and make a matching lid if you wanted to keep your odds and ends hidden from view--just make sure to add a little extra length so it fits around the box itself).

Insert your treasures and you are ready to go!

This box is currently holding some spools of thread I don't have room for anywhere else (it's getting a little crowded by the sewing machine lately). You can make these boxes any size you like from teeny tiny to extra huge, just keep in mind that the larger you make them the more flimsy they will be. You may want to add some interfacing or extra layers of felt or batting to help them keep their shape.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Clear Vinyl Tote Bag

I am really excited about how this one turned out. It is a tote bag made from clear vinyl, and has pockets on both sides that you can place anything you want in. I chose, yet again, some Picasso prints from a book. However, it would be great for things from old calendar images, shopping lists, that bus pass you always lose, your own original art, or book pages (though I recommend being like myself and using pages from "bargain books").

I used 12 gauge vinyl and an industrial needle on my sewing machine. Also, I opted for thread that would stand out from the vinyl, while you could certainly try to find something that would blend in and not become a feature of your bag. This is not a project I would recommend for beginning sewers, as the vinyl can be a bit tricky to maneuver.

One of the best things about this bag is that if you get tired of the art on your bag, you just get to switch it out and you have a brand new bag that can match anything. It also happens to be nice that it is waterproof (being in Portland) and that all you need to do to clean it is wipe it with a wet towel or sponge. If you wanted to take it out in the rain very often I would probably sew a flap over your picture pockets to keep more water out, as these pockets are open.

I chose to use a nylon corded handle because I find them to be pretty comfortable to carry around, but you could opt for canvas, or even make a matching handle with the vinyl itself.

Here is my original concept sketch if you would like to try out your own bag. Measurements are not included, as you can make this bag any size you wish.

Click to enlarge

Sunday, February 20, 2011

No Sew Baby Blanket

These baby blankets are super easy to make, no sewing machine required. All you need are two pieces of fleece (of equal sizes) and a pair of scissors. You can find kits for these in the store, but I have found that you can very often find fleece on sale and you have a much larger number of choices if you pick out your own fleece by the yard.

Then, all you do is lay the two pieces on top of each other so all sides match up evenly, and cut a bunch of strips into each side, about 3/4" wide and 3-5" long depending how long you want your fringes to be (you will have a square cut out of each corner of your blanket, if the strips are going to be 4" long, each square would be 4x4"). Also keep in mind, that fleece often only stretches in one direction, so the top and bottom may need to be cut longer than the sides or vice versa. Tie the strips from the bottom fabric to the strips from the top fabric as knots so they hold tight. There you have it, a blanket with no sewing.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Striped Crocheted Scarf

As it continues to be a little chilly here in Portland, I decided to make myself a new scarf. I found this lovely alpaca yarn at Twisted and it was simply too soft and beautiful to say no to. The colors are "alfalfa" and "cotton candy" (the cotton candy has some lovely little specs of pink, blue and green in it that this picture doesn't show very well).

I'm excited to get to wear it out today to meet some friends for coffee!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Food Craft: Chocolate Revel Bars

If you like oatmeal cookies and chocolate you will love these! They are a family favorite and disappear immediately. Enjoy! :)

You will need:

(for the cookie crust)
1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups brown sugar (I use light brown)
2 eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups flour
3 cups oatmeal (regular not quick oats)

Mix together and put 2/3 into a 13" x9" pan and spread out evenly.

For the filling:

1 (12 oz)bag chocolate chips
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup nuts (I used almonds, but any nut will be fine)

In a double boiler, melt the butter, chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Add the vanilla and nuts and mix until incorporated.

Spread the chocolate mixture over your cookie crust, then dot the remaining cookie mixture over the top of your bars. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Cool and serve!

These freeze very well, and are a Christmas demand by many from my mother.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Foxy Key Chain

I've had this little guy cut out and sitting by my sewing machine for about a good month now, but have been neglecting the poor little guy. Originally he was going to be a raccoon, but by using the red, I think he's definitely gotten a bit more foxy (and I'm ok with that). I also didn't really know what he was going to be when he grew up, turns out it is a key chain.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fleece Fingerless Gloves

This morning, upon waking the weather was decidedly unacceptable. There was, in fact, some snow falling from the sky, but luckily I live in Portland instead of farther North so none of it saw fit to stick to the ground. Either way, something extra to keep my hands/arms warm while I did some other crafting was in order. Preferably something soft.

Fingerless fleece gloves to the rescue! Excuse the horrible photos, as the weather took away any shot I had at good lighting, and I'm not about to go out in the cold wet rain/snow and ruin my new creation. :) I've had this fleece sitting leftover from another project for quite some time and today was the perfect day to give it a good use. The pattern was very simple, and admittedly makes me look like I have incredible hulk forearms. All I did was trace around my hand/arm (giving plenty of allowance for seams and the 3D nature of my awesome hulk arms, sew it up and turn it inside out. You could, however, leave the raw edges on the outside if you are into looking as punk as Avril Levigne.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Matchstick Notepads

Today's project is small and simple. These little notepads fit just about anywhere and make a great party favor. I generally keep one in my purse so I always have a scrap of paper when I need one. They are also small, so you can use scraps of card stock or a thicker scrap booking paper to make them. The opened size of this notebook is 5 1/2" x 2 1/4", and the paper measures 2 1/4" x 2".

This was a great rainy day project for today, they are colorful and quick. You can easily make a lot of them at one time, and if you happen to have a little paper cutter available it is even faster because you can get even straight cuts without a ruler and scissors or Xacto knives. Also, by securing the paper with a staple instead of glue it has very little mess and cleanup.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Roller Derby Pinup Pillows

I have been excited about this blog post for a whole week! Not only is today Valentine's Day, it is the birthday of a friend of mine. She happens to love Roller Derby, and just moved into a new place so I thought a nice Derby themed Birthday/Housewarming present was in order. I'm very excited with the results. I Google image searched for Roller Derby pinup girls and found a calendar full of them to use as a guide for my cutouts.
I also knew I wanted some sort of Damask type pattern as the background and found this one. It's a little funky with some bright pink thrown in.
I foresee myself making many many more of these. It was a fun project and I totally love them!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Perfect Pincushion

Today's project is a Perfect Pincushion. Perfect because it uses small scraps of fabric, takes a short amount of time and requires no real pattern to make!

First you will need your fabric, I chose 2 different fabrics but you could make both sides the same as well. Make sure each piece is large enough to draw your circle on. You can use any circular object as a template that you like. This pincushion was made by tracing a CD (I have an extra large one I made by tracing a dinner plate as well).

I stuffed it with regular polyester fiberfil, packed in very tightly. If you wanted something with more to it you could certainly stuff it with the material of your choice. I wrapped embroidery floss around to make it seem to be in 8 sections, and sewed buttons into the center for a tufted look. Easy as pie!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Origami Print Purse

What is black and white and red all over? This bag! We've had this fabric at work for quite some time now (Yes, I work at IKEA) and I have been trying to think of something to make with it. I was messing around with patterns and thought a nice big purse to carry all my junk around in would be perfect. I got out some tissue paper and made a pattern (I like tissue paper because it is cheaper than getting special pattern paper, easy to pin to fabric and you can get all the fancy colors and color code your projects so you find the pattern you are looking for faster).

Here is the finished bag, not too shabby. I am a fan of huge circular bags, I actually made this one by tracing a garbage can lid to get a huge circle, then free handed the handles in to the pattern. You can make any shape or size you like though. Also, my bag and handles are all one piece, but I usually make bags with separate handles that are added on to the main body of the bag itself. I am always experimenting, and this one turned out pretty nice.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Food Craft: Dark Chocolate Truffles

Feast your eyes on these! In honor, yet again, of Valentine's Day I decided to throw you yet another gift idea: Dark Chocolate Truffles. You can certainly change up the recipe a little bit depending on your taste, but I assure you these are super easy and VERY delicious.

You will need:

1/2 pound (8oz.) dark chocolate (I get mine in the bulk bins at the grocery store)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon coffee flavored liquor
1/2 tsp vanilla

Cut up your chocolate as finely as you can (try to get uniform pieces so they will all melt the same, or you will get some little chunks). Place the chocolate into a bowl (I use a glass mixing bowl).

In a small saucepan, heat your cream just until it comes to a boil (bubbles will begin forming around the edges). Add the heated cream to the chocolate and allow to sit a few minutes.

Add in your vanilla, cinnamon, cayenne and coffee flavored liquor (you could also use just a Tablespoon of regular fresh brewed coffee). *you do not have to add the cinnamon and cayenne, but I find it adds a nice flavor to the truffles.

Whisk everything together until it is smooth. If you happen to have a few larger chunks, do not fear, you can place the bowl into the microwave for 10 seconds, then remove and stir again. Do this until your mixture is smooth, then allow the bowl to sit at room temperature for 1 hour (and good luck not "tasting" it every time you walk past for that hour).

With a small spoon or cookie scoop, scoop out small balls of the truffle mixture and place on a cookie sheet (to avoid a huge mess I generally line my sheet with parchment or wax paper) and place these into the fridge for 30 minutes to set.

Take out and gently roll to form round balls, then roll these into any coating you want. Pictured below I have toasted coconut, powdered sugar, cocoa, roasted almonds and candy melts (if you want a hard outer coating I highly recommend the candy melts--you can get them in several colors as well). You could also fancy it up with a sprinkling of some salt if you are into the sweet and salty flavor. I have made these several different ways and no one has ever complained.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Very Hungry Caterpillar Tote Bag

I have been making this tote bag for awhile now. My nieces love it, and it is a great size for taking to the library or carrying all your little treasures around. I myself would not even be deterred from using one of these, I loved this book growing up.

The artwork is what gets me, and I love all the bright colors (and I love food...). It's one of those projects that just makes me happy when I make it.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a copyright of Eric Carle LLC.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Glass Magnets- Picasso Edition

I have made some glass bubble magnets before. I like them because they are a pretty easy project, you can do them for anyone's taste and the materials are easy to find and generally on the cheap side.

Today I was going through some books I had originally planned on getting rid of and found one of my favorite paintings, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Picasso, and thought "This would make me some awesome new magnets".

They turned out even better than I had originally thought, and made a nice sized set of 5 (the 5th face in the original painting was just a tad too close to two of the others making her a casualty of the set) including a fruit still life at the bottom of the painting. You could do this with any artwork or illustration you like, and modify the size, etc. with a copy machine.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Beaded Earrings

Today I threw these together with some beads I liked, craft wire, and some earring hooks. I may wear them to a little event tonight and show them off. You can get the jewelry findings at any craft store (I think even Wal-Mart sells them). As far as beads go, you can find them at rock shops, craft store, bead shops or even take an old necklace you no longer like, but enjoy the beads or stones from and repurpose it into a new necklace/bracelet/pair of earrings.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Custom Envelopes

With Valentine's Day coming up, I thought I'd make something a little more traditional (we can't all do it up with zombie cards, right?).

To start, you can make a template with any size and shape of envelope you want, just carefully open all the glued down edges (an irons steam setting can help soften the glue if you have trouble). I modified an envelope I had, so that rather than triangles folding in to the middle I folded up one rectangle with 2 side flaps (as pictured). This way, the main body of the envelope will fit onto one 8.5"x11" sheet of paper or cardstock. You can choose any color paper (for larger envelopes I suggest starting with a 12"x12" sheet of scrap booking paper), to make straight folds i gently scored all of the edges with an Xacto blade before folding.

For the inside, you can use an image from any magazine, other patterned scrap book paper, an original drawing or photograph, whatever you feel fits the occasion (I used an add from a magazine-It doesn't have to be something fancy). I stuck the whole thing together with a glue stick, it's cheap and it works better than more liquid glues and dries faster with less mess.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Crafty Super Bowl!

It is Super Bowl Sunday, so what better day to do a Packers themed craft? I myself was born in Green Bay, so we are going to ignore any other team that may be playing in this year's game. I decided to whip up these coasters as a Super Bowl party hostess gift (Who does that? Super Bowl hostess gift? I can't help myself). The top stitching around the "G" was a little harder than anticipated, and I was in a hurry so they look a bit less than stellar, but I am overall pleased with the outcome on a 30 minute project start to finish. You could, of course, make little football fields for coasters as well and just stitch in the yard lines to keep it simple.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Zombie Valentine's

Well, here it is, the requisite February Valentine post. Rather than do it up all hearts, lace and sentiment, I chose zombies!

The back is some patterned card stock, the zombie is done in felt with machine sewn details. If you want to try your own mixed media card with sewing, I definitely recommend a thicker card stock, especially if you will be sewing to fill in some larger areas, as I did with the mouth, shoes, etc. Thinner paper will be more likely to tear, but will work as long as you are careful.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Food Craft: Earl Grey Pots De Creme

So the huz and I were at one of our favorite Happy Hour spots several months ago, The Observatory, and happened upon a yummy dessert. THIS yummy dessert. OK, I'm not gonna lie, mine is a bit more of a pudding, but it is darn close and SO yummy. Really, do yourself a favor and make this. It's delicious.

You will need:

3.5 cups whole milk
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
4 bags Earl Grey tea

To get a good Earl Grey flavor I started by heating 2 cups of the milk until bubbles started forming around the edge of my saucepan. Put in your tea bags and allow to steep for 15-20 minutes. Measure out your other ingredients while you are waiting. (I added the rest of my milk to this after the 20 minutes was over).

Sift the cornstarch, sugar and salt into a large saucepan and add all of your milk. Whisk this together until everything is dissolved. Turn on your burner to a medium heat and stir continuously. Add in vanilla, and then add egg yolks one at a time until they are all incorporated. Continue cooking over medium, to medium high heat while stirring until your pudding thickens (this happens very suddenly so don't walk away). Remove from heat and continue whisking another 30-60 seconds. Pour finished pudding into any serving dish you like; I picked some white coffee cups with matching saucers, but any cup or bowl will do. If you were to make this for a large group, it would be adorable in little espresso cups.

*Note: this makes a rather huge amount of pudding, the original recipe I doctored up to make this said it was 4-6 servings. I like me some pudding, in a nice sized serving and I would argue it makes closer to 8.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Patchy Derm the Pachyderm

This fun little gal is Patchy Derm the Pachyderm. I made her out of some corduroy I got in a bargain bin somewhere, but isn't she fabulous?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Portlandia Inspired Pot Holders

My husband and I had a good chuckle at these as I was making them last night. I wanted to make some cute pot holders, complete with felt appliques. Since I am always being asked "where are the crafts for guys?" I thought now would be a great time to show some off. After all, guys gotta get their cook on in the kitchen too, am I right? I started with some old suiting fabric I had in my stash, a pleasant blue and gold plaid. What to add? Mustache! Not gonna lie, it definitely has some of that hipster flair to it. However, it is just so awesome I couldn't help myself.

Second, for the ladies, I made a black & white flowered pot holder (the back has hot pink eco-fi felt), and I "put a bird on it" a la Portlandia, the new IFC show I love to hate. Gotta admit, it's also pretty cute (though I'm not calling it art).

I used eco-fi felt for all of the appliques, as it is made from recycled bottles and can be washed, as opposed to traditional wool felt which gets all yucky when washed. A tip for anyone wanting to do their own appliques: I use a heat and bond adhesive on all of mine. The glue heats up with an iron, and has a paper backing (great for drawing your own designs on) and then you peel the back off, iron it to whatever is getting the applique and it won't budge while you are sewing it on.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tiny Gift Bags

That's right everyone, it is February, and starting off the month full of projects are these cute little gift bags!

I have a few birthdays coming up this month, as well as Valentine's day, and these bags are perfect to fit a little something special in for the lucky people in your life. (They are also a great way to use up your smaller pieces of fabric). They will easily fit jewelry, a small bag of candies, lip gloss, a watch, cuff links, etc. and can be made with any fabric or ribbon you want. I happened to have a couple complimentary patterns with blues and greens, and leftover red ribbon--I think it adds a nice contrast.

Each bag measures about 4 inches square (I started with fabric scraps that were about 5.5"x9"). I folded a flap at the top and sewed it down so a ribbon tie could be used, then sewed the bottom and side shut(leaving the holes open to insert my ribbon). I generally use a safety pin when making a tie like this, just pin one end of your ribbon and feed it through the hole to the other side and pull it through.

These bags could also be fancied up by using two fabrics and making the bags reversible, but for such a tiny gift bag I decided not to over complicate things and stick with one pretty side (you're stuffing it full of treats anyway, so the inside will probably be overlooked by your recipient).

I hope you enjoy these little gift bags, and remember every day this month I will be featuring another fun craft project!