Not too long after I graduated from college, and was living on my own for the first time, I started putting two and two together that making things for myself might be cheaper than buying them. So when my mother called and asked what I wanted for Christmas that year, I gave it some thought and said, "You know, I have always wanted my own sewing machine." My mother quickly responded, "You will never use it." Perhaps her response was brought on by the fact that my aunt had actually given me a sewing machine not too long before, and I promptly returned the relic after it billowed smoke on a trial run and the man at the repair store told me it would be cheaper to buy a new one. But, my mother did come through with the machine by way of Santa that year (yes, I still and always will celebrate Santa). A Brother LS-1520 Sewing Machine with about 14 stitch setting purchased at Walmart for about $100 (You can get the same machine at the same store for less these days, but I digress) and I totally fell in love with it. This machine and I have had an on and off passionate affair for many years. I have read and reread the manual 100s of times. I have learned basic small machine repair. I have oiled and tweaked and cussed it out on several occasions. And sometimes, I actually make things with it, once again proving my mother wrong (Ha. Ha. Ha. evil laugh). I started fondly referring to my machine as the Tank. For a while, I would visit expensive sewing machine stores and think I had to have one of those fancy smancy models to be able to produce a fine garment. But then I spent a weekend sewing on one of those machines, and as it turns out, I was not impressed. The thread kept getting caught inside the bobbin case, most likely my fault, and I had to take the machine apart every few stitches. After that weekend I promised I would never bad-mouth my machine ever again. Clearly it was tough enough to withstand my amateur mistakes, and still run like a top. I have a fondness for sewing machines. Like stray puppies and kittens, I just want to make sure they all find a good home. So when I found the thread on Crafter asking people to show off their machines, I had to flip through it. Photos proudly posted like parents with brand new babies. There were 57 pages of postings. 57 pages of love and adoration for machines fondly referred to as Baby, Beastie and Gretta . Not all were expensive toys, like the ones at quilt stores with complicated German names and price tags that rival my car. Some were Goodwill finds, Freecycle scores, and hand-me-downs from parents who loved these machines before. So in honor of the day of Thanks, I am bestowing thanks to my own mechanical partner in crime, in which all garments are possible.
Apparently I have a bag fascination. I have found two in the past week I want to make. If you take my bag obsession along with my pillow fascination, my closet dwelling sewing machine might have to find a permanent home somewhere in my tiny apartment. This messenger bag is adorable, and I am just dying to make it.
My niece Ava LOVES horses. It started out with My Little Ponys but now it is all horses. Her birthday is coming up, and I guarantee that she will most likely be getting the entire toy horse wing at Toys are Us, so I decided to stick with that theme. I love this print. There is something so Little House on the Prairie about it that I just fell in love when I saw it. The process was actually a lot easier than I thought. I made the pillow cover from a tutorial I found on craftster.org. I traced a horse silhouette I found onto the plain pink fabric, and ironed a fusible backing.I embroidered my details and then cut out. Then, I sewed the horse on the pillow cover. Start to finish, it probable took me about 12 hours. I can't be sure because I slept in between. Either way it is a great weekend project. Now I want to fill my whole house with throw pillows. I will try to restrain myself.
I can often be found wandering around office supply stores. I love binder clips, pocket notebooks and can completely lose myself in the sharpie aisle. So when I can across Indie Fixx this morning and their awesome compilation of indie office supplies, and tutorials to make your own, I clicked on each photo with the hunger of a young teenage werewolf who bursts out of his clothes when he attacks. . . and I'm sorry, I got off track there. So check out these office supplies, while I try to pull myself back together.
I stumbled across the absolute cutest blog today. She is a German artist named Mymaki. She has the most adorable characters on each of her items. I bookmarked her before I realized I could use Google translator to actually read some of the stuff she wrote. Honestly, her work spoke for itself. Mymaki - I likey.
Today I got to give my news stamps a real work-out. I took another gross of ornaments to Street Scene and I needed to whip out a few hang tags for pricing. The stamped cards look really cool and my production times was a cut in half.
Sometimes we all get in a creativity rut. I came across this on a website called Indie Fixx, which posted a Top Ten Ways to Be Creative Everyday by an artist named Nicole Docimo of Blue Bicicletta. She is too cute, with her hand drawn lists and calendars. Love, love it. Sorry the art is so small, but check it out here. Or check out Nicole's etsy to see her work.
This week I dropped off a few of my Christmas ornaments at a local vintage consignment shop called Street Scene. I was putting together pricing labels, and realized after hand lettering my second card that I really needed something that would help me create labels faster. Now, I should have followed my first instinct, which was go to Office Depot and get a rubber stamp made. Something professional with curly cues. But the $20 price tag threw me off. Surely I can come up with something on my own. After scouring the forums and blogs, I fumbled across a few sites that explained how to make rubber stamps with $1 erasers, like this one that I book-marked over a year ago and have been dying to try. However, the Speedball lino cutter almost everyone on the blogs brought me back to the $20 price tag I have been trying to avoid. So, I found another blog where a stamp carving only used an Xacto knife. Considering I already owned an Xacto knife, I gave it a shot. I grabbed a sharpie and drew my company name on a standard pink eraser and got to carving. The result wasn't that bad, but my edges were rough, and of course, I didn't realize I was supposed the be carving a reverse image, so my bluegirl actually read lrigeuld. Take 2 – I found another blog where I learned how to easily get my reverse image in my eraser before carving, AND this carver made all her stamps with only a cuticle cutter. Alright. I could buy a whole manicure set at Dollar Tree for only a buck. So with a whole new package of erasers I gave this technique a go. Rats. The cuticle cutter did okay, but again, my round edges looked rough, and there are a lot of curves in my chosen company name, so that wasn't going to work. Also mad props to the girl who can carve with a cuticle cutter, but I put her in a category of crafters who can knit with pencil nibs and paint masterpieces with a sponge. This is a category I don't fall in. My determination has a tendency to override my common-sense, and the once lofty $20 price tag on the Speedball carving kit didn't seem too outrageous. Totally forgetting that I could have a professional make a stamp for me for the same price that would be detailed enough to include my store site, blog and a tiny portrait of myself, I stomped right into my local craft store and bought the lino carving set. What a difference the right tools make. I carved out a couple of initial stamps and my company logo. I am in love, love love with the linocutter. I was up till midnight playing around with it, and can't wait to play with it some more. I have a decent company logo I can use on price tags, and a little flower for practice. In the end my frugality lost, but I have one more item on my list of, “I want to learn how to do that someday” items and that is truly priceless.
Here is how I did it. Step 1 – trace an outline of the pink eraser on a regular piece of paper so you will know how big your design can be. Then draw your design in pencil in that space. Step 2 – cut out the design and place it face down on your eraser. Then rub, rub, rub the back of your pencil, or your fingernail, on the paper and your image will magically transfer. Step 3 – carve out your designs. Remember to cut away anything you do not want stamped. And that's it. If you want to try the cuticle cutter method, check out this blog for instructions. Have fun buying the Dollar Tree out of eraser packages. I have.
I am having a rush of popularity today, which is weird, because I thrive on being the loner in the cubicle daring people to address her. I've had a few shout outs and a few mentions, and my normal pale, wan, apathetic face is awash with the glow of self esteem. My friend Molly gave me a plug about my vampire lips ornament on her blog, and then ordered a few as stocking stuffers. Then after posting my Vampire ornament on Crafster, the curator at another blog sent me a message wanting to post my fanged lips on Geek Crafts. And my friend at Razzle Dazzle Crafting gave me a huge shout out and showcased the piece of art I made her for her wedding. THEN, today I took a handful of ornaments over to Street Scene - a super awesome vintage consignment store- to sell my ornaments. Fine, getting all gooey that a store will consign my stuff probably reeks of amateurism, but I don't care. Something I made is in a store, and to me that is pretty awesome. I'm not sure what to do with all this love and affection. Normally I would make rude comments over dinner until I officially ran my attractors off - but I don't think I'll do that this time. And who knows, maybe all this respect and self esteem will create a new bubbly, happy full of rainbows and sunshine crafter who scrapbooks and writes funny inspirations poems. Eh - maybe not. But thanks everyone for all the love.
So my dear friend Molly Harper was within driving distance today at the Kentucky Book Fair to promote her new book, Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men. She LOVES the vamps, which is why she has Twilight wallpaper on her laptop, sat through John Carpenters Vampires, and has written her own Southern Vampire series which is HILARIOUS. I know. I am biased, but it is a book series about a librarian who is quickly transformed into a vampire because she was accidentally mistaken as a deer and shot by a drunk deer hunter. I don't care who you are- that is funny. So, I wanted to make something in honor of her literary success. The idea for the ornament came about as an afterthought, but it turned out to be the best piece. It usually works out that way. I whipped it together this morning before we met. I think it looks pretty cool.
I stopped by a consignment shop this week to possibly hock some of my wares. It is this adorable vintage consignment shop where every item is a cross between Mad Men and John Waters. I was in heaven. (I also found this awesome leopard print coat for only $70) So I showed the owner my etsy store on my phone, and her first question was, "Do you do an owl?" Of course because I am always happy to sell out a bit I said, "Sure, I can do an owl."
While I watched How I Met Your Mother, I set to drawing out my template. I found some blue fleece (I accidentally bought a sheet of fleece last year instead of felt, and although I love its softness, it was a pain to embroider on.) and got to work. I also picked up The Embroidery Stitch Bible, at the library and tested out a few new fancy stitches for the feathers. I also stitched on a little scarf to tie it in to the winter theme. All in all I am pretty pleased, but now I want to whip out a whole woodland creatures series. I have bought some brown felt for a raccoon. I'll let you know how it goes.
I've been toying with the idea of starting a craft business for a long time, but never had the guts to do it. Now armed with research, innovation and a little bit of start-up cash, I'm ready to get this baby off the ground.