Monday, December 31, 2012

Hopscotch Rug

I tried to make a lot of my Christmas gifts this year (big surprise, right?). Luckily, most of them were well received. Either that, or the people I made things for are just really nice.

One of my favorite gifts I made was this hopscotch rug for my nephews.

They live in Utah, and in the winter time there's so much snow that it's impossible to play these kinds of fun outdoor games. Now they can play it on rainy days, snow days, or swelteringly hot days, all within the comfort and safety of their home and the weather outside won't matter. 

The boys opening it up on Christmas Day.

But let me tell you, it was a beast to make! There is just so much fabric to it.

I found this nice and heavy orangey-brown upholstery fabric for the base of it, and then I decided to use grey broadcloth for the lines and to bind the edges. I went with bright green fleece for the numbers. 

I made each square 16 inches by 12 inches, measuring from the outside edges of the squares. The grey lines themselves are about 1 inch wide.

I wish I had gotten 3 full yards of the upholstery fabric, but I only got 2.5, so the numbered squares only go up to 9 instead of 10. Oh well!

I made 6 little round bean bags to use with it, each a different color.

I even included a little pocket in one corner of the rug to keep the instructions and bean bags.

On one side of the instructions I wrote the rules to the game (there are so many different ways to play--I just picked the most basic, common way). On the other side I wrote a brief history of hopscotch and the care instructions for the rug.

I love how it turned out! But it was a lot of tedious work. If I ever make one to sell, it will be a little on the expensive side.

My nephews played it a couple of days after Christmas. At one point, one of them said, "This is actually really fun!" I guess they thought it was going to be boring. It's great for teaching them coordination and to use up some of that pent-up energy that kids tend to have.

What other games would you like to see made into a rug like this?

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Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Post

Things I've done this season to help me keep in tune with the Spirit of Christmas:

  • Gave a ginormous box filld with baby clothes and blankets to my cousin who is about a month from her due date and had none.
  • Carefully thought out and hand-made most of our gifts to family members.
  • Participated in my church choir's Christmas performances this year, inviting the Spirit into others' hearts.
  • Mended clothing for friends/family for free.

I hope that each of you remember what this holiday is about and I wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Not-So-Ugly Christmas Sweater

Bob and I attended a White Elephant/Ugly Christmas Sweater party over the weekend. The problem is, neither of us have ugly Christmas sweaters.

We went to a few thrift stores a couple of weeks in advance and they were picked dry of everything Christmasy.

So I opted to make them.

I found a long turtleneck shirt that is an awful baby-poop green (I know this color from many dirty-diaper experiences) and decided that the awful color would make for something wonderfully ugly.

Boy was I wrong.

It turns out that I can't make ugly things.

You like how I'm leaning back against an invisible... something?

After getting home, I looked at the tag on the inside and it turns out that it's a men's big and tall shirt. Ha!

I have a bunch of bright red crushed jersey knit with coarse silver glitter on it. I drew a Christmas tree on some scrap paper, and used it as a pattern to cut a tree out of the red jersey.

I used clear thread (it's like really fine fishing line that I've seen quilters use a lot) and zig-zag stitched around the edges of it, being very careful and using the hand wheel of my machine a lot. Then I topped it all off by hand-sewing bells onto the tree as ornaments.

It sounded tacky in my head. But it didn't translate as tacky onto the shirt. I'm really not that upset over it, I guess.

I went to Costco for lunch on Monday (because I was craving a Polish dog) and as I was walking through the parking lot pushing Graham's stroller, a girl stopped me and asked where I had gotten my cute sweater. When I told her I made it she was surprised, and then sad that she couldn't get one for herself.

I wish I could bulk order some long turtle neck shirts in this color because then I'd make more to sell. Maybe next year.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Car Caddies

I love these things. I've seen a few basic tutorials for these, but (me being me) I'm not satisfied with plain, basic anything. No, no--I need everything I make to be a work of art (because I"m anal crazy OCD just that way).

I've made a few of these before, and I generally use whatever fabric I have, because leftover scraps from previous projects are awesome for these things. Plus, it makes each one more individual and unique. I also rarely use a pattern. I just know the size it needs to be and then I make up the design for the road on my own. It's been different every time.

A few months ago my friend Holly asked me to make a personalized one for her son, with his name on the pockets instead of numbers. I was swamped with other projects at the time (and let's be honest, when am I not?) so I planned to have it done and to her by Christmas. Then my cousin Marissa asked me for two as Christmas gifts too.

So I made a pattern this time, because it was easier to cut all the little tiny pieces of fabric out all at the same time, and then do each step on all three at the same time. I also have a feeling I'll be making more of these in the future, and a pattern will help them go quicker.

Here's how these turned out this time around.

Can I brag for a minute here? The numbers/letters are painted on using white acrylic paint. I free-handed these! No stencils used! It did take longer than using a stencil, but I was curious about whether I could do it or not. Survey says... I succeeded.

I did something new on these ones too, and I really like it. I used some fabrics with various textures for different little details in it. The road is a rough polyester, the pond a shiny satin, the tree trunk is suedecloth, and the tree leaves are terry cloth.  I used orange acrylic paint and did some very careful painting to get those fish in the pond.

Isn't that cute and fun?!

I couldn't just use webbing or ribbon for the latch to keep it closed. Of course not. I made a velcro latch for it in the shape of a car.

I'm pretty happy with these results. What do you think?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Noel Letters

I made this Christmas decoration about four years ago, but I love it and get it out every year to decorate for the holidays.

I was a missionary for my church, serving in Texas for a year and a half. I made these at a Relief Society activity in the middle of the week around Christmas time. I made a few other things, but they were gifts for family members that year.

These are simple to make though, as long as you're good with a jigsaw or can find pre-cut letters. The letters were all pre-cut for us (that made things way easier) out of 1" thick wood. Then we painted the letters, traced them onto decorative paper, and Modpodged it on. We finished these by adding ribbons, bows, mini ornaments, bells, and other little decorative things.

This is my favorite letter I made.

If you're planning on doing something like this, here are some tips and ideas:

  • Use acrylic paint, and try watering it down. The wood grain will show through the paint, giving it a really pretty, unique look.

  • You can also add water to the Modpodge to make it go a little further.

  • Modpodge the letters, front and back to seal the wood and keep the paint from smearing, should they somehow get wet (you never know with kids or while in storage).

  • To store these, wrap them in waxed or parchment paper. Tissue paper will stick the the Modpodge.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Abstract Peacock Throw Pillows

You may remember the post I did a while ago about the throw pillows I've been making for my sister-in-law. I finally finished the whole set! I love how they turned out. Here they are.

I like the color scheme she chose. I also really like how all of these shapes go together to give you the impression of peacock feathers without blatantly showing one.

I really like this applique technique that I came up with. I've never seen anything like it, but I love the exposed raw edges. It just takes a while to do. It's a good thing I'm sort of patient.

I love these feathered pillows with the surprise of color peeking out from underneath the layers. I think they're fun.

My favorite one is the last one I made. A combination of the colors, the design, the pattern and placement of the applique... There's something about it I find really aesthetically pleasing.

All of them have sham-style openings in the back and are all machine washable (a must-have for anyone with kids).

Along with these, I made one extra throw pillow for fun. It has large pleats that are sewn in place, creating little pocket-like structures all over it. This makes for an interesting texture on the front.

The good news for you: this one is for sale! 
Go see it in my Etsy shop
And thanks for stopping by.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

DIY Marbled Globe Christmas Ornaments

I watched my mom make countless decorations and gifts throughout my childhood for holidays and birthdays. She was and still is an incredibly creative and talented woman.

One of my all-time favorite decorations she made were these beautiful marbled globe Christmas tree ornaments.

They're easy as can be and really inexpensive. I made 10 for about $15. Best of all, you can make them whatever colors you want, which makes it simple to coordinate the colors that your tree and room are decorated in during this holiday season.

Here's all you need:

clear globe ornaments (I used plastic ones. glass ornaments + a baby = bad idea)
acrylic paint (in whatever colors you like--I went with reds since trees are green)
twine, beads, or other dangly decorations you so desire (or none at all)
waxed paper

1. Remove the silver tops from the ornaments and set them aside.

2. Squeeze a small amount of paint into the ornament. Use each of the colors you'd like, but make sure that all the paint combined isn't more than about a tablespoon, or even less if you're making small ornaments.

3. Cover the opening (I used a folded piece of paper towel and my thumb) making sure it is completely sealed, and shake the ornament like you're some kind of crazy person.

There may be small gaps where the paint didn't spread to, so I recommend firmly hitting those areas against your palm until some of the paint gets shaken into them.

4. Let them sit upside down on waxed paper for 1-2 hours so that any excess paint drains out of them. You may need to wipe out just inside the opening to get all the extra unnecessary paint out. Then let them sit right side up over night to allow the paint can dry. If the paint still isn't dry after 24 hours, try using a hair dryer to speed up the process. But honestly, if the paint stays tacky (not drippy--drippy can be bad), it's not a huge deal because the paint is enclosed inside of the globe and won't get on anything.

Don't use a paper towel like I did for this part.
It will seep through and some of the paint will dry to it and it turns into a huge mess.

You may notice that the paint doesn't adhere to the glass/plastic in some places, creating this interesting crackle look. It'll happen more often if it doesn't dry. I find it unique and interesting, so I personally like it. If it bugs you, repeat steps 3 and 4, making sure the paint dries before repeating.

5. Add any additional decorations you want to the outside. I used ModPodge and alpaca yarn, dangly beads, and stamps and cardstock.

6. Once everything is dry and finished, replace the tops on the ornaments. Proceed to decorate your tree or home with them to your little heart's content.

For storing these post-holidays, I recommend heading to Costco and buying a container of apples, eating said apples, and then reusing the plastic container. It's perfect for globe ornaments. You can also use it while making these to keep them from rolling all over the place.

Merry Christmas! Now get crafty and let me know if you make some of your own marbled ornaments. I'd love to see them!