Saturday, December 18, 2010

Yarn wrapped Christmas trees

Trees Every year, the moms board of which I'm a part does a holiday gift exchange. It has to be something handmade and cost under $20. 

I remember the first year I participated and shook in my shoes thinking that I had to make something for someone else. Something that didn't suck.

I've survived without hitting up Etsy so far, but this year, I drew Gail's name. 

Now, Gail is the queen of craft and beauty. Her photography is art. She can sew anything without a pattern. She makes amazing things from paper.

If you can dream it, Gail can make it.

I was nervous.

I commiserated with our mutual friend, Constance, who gave me some wonderful ideas, but best of all, reminded me that Gail would love whatever it was because it was made by a friend.

With that reminder, I settled on something that I thought at first was too modest and easy.

Yarn wrapped Christmas trees. 

I found the tutorial on Pretty Ditty awhile back and have been dying to make these ever since.

They are so simplistically beautiful. The texture, the muted colors, the bright pop of the berries. I just love them.

But they are SO EASY to make. I wasn't sure it was the right gift for the woman who can do anything.

I think though, that she likes them. She took this picture of them, and makes them even more beautiful than they really are.

Then again, that's what her gift is. She brings beauty to the ordinary. Every day.

Merry Christmas, my friend.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pants, pants, and more pants

103_0853 Holy cow. I cannot take pictures. Seriously.

But, here are some pants. And a hat. 

I'm an awesome craft blogger.

Long version: I always make Christmas pj's for the family. Little tradition that started the year I got my sewing machine. 

They have gotten progressively better over the years - of course, that isn't saying much. The first pairs were hysterical. Huge - as in, Kevin and I could both fit in one pair.

Not that we tried.


Not us.

Anyhoo, this year, my pal Nita requested some matching jammie pants for her crew. I made her a pair last year for a Secret Santa swap. It was the first time I had sewn something for someone to wear when I couldn't have them try it on. Made me really nervous.

This made me even more nervous. Especially after she bought the fabric and realized that it can be pricey to make your own stuff. Eek. Don't waste your friend's money! 

I got some measurements and went to work. We'll see. I'm hoping the Christmas photo turns out like she wanted it to.

The picture is of her son's pants and the little hat I threw in because there were some odd pieces of extra fabric left over.

Oh, and someone remind me next year that fleece isn't as wide as flannel. Because if Nita hadn't ordered extra material? I totally wouldn't have had enough.

Next up? MORE PANTS.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

In which I go on about Shutterfly's awesome photo cards

103_0819 I'm no liar. This post will result in Shutterfly giving me 50 free cards. Which is awesome.

In exchange for their generosity, I'm writing at least 150 words on how awesome they are. Which doesn't mean that I don't believe it. Because I don't jump through hoops for hardly anything - you know I really like Shutterfly. And free Shutterfly is even better.

For the past two years, I've used Shutterfly to create our family's Christmas cards. I've made books and calendars too. Their Christmas party invitations have inspired me to check into invitations for the boys' birthday parties in January. It's quick and easy, and my favorite part is that all of your work is saved and your photos stored. 

That means that when you are in the middle of your project and the kids start swatting the ornaments off the tree, you don't have to worry about leaving what you are doing and coming back to it later. I need that flexibility.

This year, I'm looking at a bright, bold design, or if I can get just one perfect picture, I'm leaning towards a lovely gift wrapped look. Of course, if you get one of these fabulous cards from me, act surprised please.

This post was totally sponsored by Shutterfly's Christmas Promotion. Yay for cute cards!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Big Butt Baby Pants

I am in LOVE with this pattern. Made By Rae designed the most adorable wide leg baby pants with a special panel in the bum for cloth diapered babies. It's amazingly brilliant, and I can't stop making them.

When I needed something for Colin to wear at his baptism, I went shopping. I only had a couple of days to figure it out, and all I found was a sweet little cardigan. So, I made some pants. Voila. I'm telling you, this pattern is awesome.

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A few months ago, I bought some of this brown and blue collection, not having a pattern in mind, but knowing that I wanted to do some cuffed pants for Colin with it. I think this was the perfect pattern for it. And quite by accident, it coordinates cutely with this elephant sweater that I found at a consignment sale. 

The picture of him wearing the outfit? Is the best picture I could get. That child would not be still. Plus, we all know by now that I am a terrible, horrible, awful photographer. Which isn't a great quality in a craft blogger. At least this time I remembered to actually take pictures. Bonus.

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You can buy the pattern licensed or unlicensed so that if you want to make the pants to sell, you can. You just have to give Made By Rae credit for the design. You can add pockets easily, and if you've got a little girl, you can add ruffles to the butt panel. It's the cutest! 

Something else I love about this pattern is that it only takes a half a yard to make Colin a pair of pants. Less, if I'm doing a contrasting cuff and bum panel. So I'll be able to destash a lot of fabrics that I have just because they are adorable.

I've made some monkey pants with a polka dot bottom, and I have several other combinations picked out and waiting to go. I'm obsessed. Baby bottoms are already cute enough on their own, but these pants just send me right over the edge. Darling.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween costumes: Super Why and Baby Toga

I'm not sure at what point I decided that Christopher would be Super Why for Halloween this year. It was sometime after he began running through the house singing the Super Readers theme song, and sometime before he creatively turned baby Moses into a clothespin version of Super Why.

My initial vision of the costume went something like this:

  • Find green leggings and long sleeve green shirt.

  • Purchase a gold belt.

  • Make a cape.

  • Use a blue gDiaper over the leggings to complete the look.

Reminds me of the year I was going to be a Smurf. I figured we could just add blue food coloring to some lotion or some Crisco or something. I was only eight years old, but I was already incredibly lacking in my ability to see a craft all the way through . . .

Thankfully, while I was searching the internet for a how-to on making a cape, I came across Georgia's blog, Puking Pastilles. I was then introduced to the beauty of the buy now, download now, print now, business of patterns. 

How could I have not known about this?


Georgia has the most brilliant super hero costume pattern available for purchase in her Etsy shop. You can make it out any combination of colors that you like, and she even has free pdf's of many of your kiddo's favorite hero emblems

Thus was born the most non-crappy Super Why costume that I could possibly achieve.

Seriously. I had no idea that I could make anything like this for my sweet boy. As soon as I even mentioned it, he started asking to wear it. The poor dear was tortured every time I made him try on the different pieces of it. He would come close to tears each day I told him it wasn't ready yet.

Finally, on Wednesday this week, I finished. Of course I didn't take pictures along the way because I am the world's worst craft blogger. but I can tell you that the blue shiny fabric ain't so swift for sewing, but it makes a beautiful cape. 


The appliqu�0160;was tricky. I used gold ribbon for the strands around the book. At first, they held on with just Heat and Bond. Slowly but surely, it started peeling off though. Last night, I was hand stitching all of the ribbon on with some clear nylon thread - invisible super hero thread. 

My only complaint with the costume is that it fits so well. As soon as he grows a smidge, he's not going to be able to wear it. I did have to cut the pants twice, as the pattern definitely wasn't designed with tall boys in cloth diapers in mind. 

For the life of me, I couldn't remember what was on the back of Super Why's cape, and I wasn't about to make a second book applique because I was starting to feel lazy. So I put a green question mark. I'm not sure if that's right or not, but Christopher is thrilled with his "mark cape." 

He's a happy Super Why, that's for sure.



As for Colin, one day I was staring at his beautiful bald head and the very large ears which protrude from it, when it hit me. Those ears and that head were crying out for a laurel wreath. Thus was born the inspiration for the Baby Toga.

I actually took the pattern for the top of the Super Why costume as a guide to draw my own pattern for the toga gown. I liked the way the back split open and closed simply with a piece of velcro. The end result was a little too short, but seeing as how he'll be sitting in a wagon with a blanket over him, I think it will be fine.

The wrap ended up a little more elaborate than I intended, but I'm quite pleased with it. Again, I have no close up pictures of it, and one of the gold ribbon trim would be quite impressive here, but you'll just have to take my word for it. I hemmed all the edges of the wrap, even though I probably didn't need to. It's not like Colin is going to be requesting to dress as Caesar for the next 12 months of his life.

The laurel was the trickiest, and I'm not 100% happy with how it turned out, but it's alright because he won't wear it anyway. Hats and socks. The boy hates both. Anyway, I covered some craft wire with the gold ribbon trim and then hot glued some fake leaves to it. Today, at the church's Halloween parade, I figured out that if I was holding Colin, he would use one hand to hold onto me, and I could put a cookie in the other hand - thereby leaving him unable to yank the laurel wreath from his head. Brilliant, I tell you.

Not nearly as many people thought Colin in the baby toga was as funny as I do. Meh. It made me laugh, and these days, that's worth a lot.

So there you have it. Halloween craftiness for 2010. Maybe I'll post the treat bags I tried to throw together today. They are horrible. I'm so not ready to go pattern free on a bag. So. Not. Ready.


Teacher Gift Rose Arrangement


I admit. I saw this in a magazine with fake roses, liked it, and thought I could do better with real flowers and a lot less money than $130. The best ideas are often ripped off, are they not?

These arrangements were put together with roses from Trader Joes, some moss and flower foam stuff from Joann, and some tin containers from the dollar section at Target. I paired them with gift cards to Starbucks to make end of year gifts for Christopher's preschool teachers last May. What? I know I'm awfully behind on things here. Forgive me.

Anyway, super affordable, and i think they turned out kinda cute. Not sure I'll be delving much further into flower arranging though.



Monday, October 11, 2010

Personalized Signs for the Boys' Room

103_0669 One thing I don't do is draw. As in, most first graders can draw better than I ever will. I have a few doodles in my pocket, and I can do some decent lettering, but I DON'T draw. Seriously. Terrible at it.

I always wanted to paint though. I love paint. I love the way oil paints smell. I love the way watercolors dry on the paper. I love all of the metal tubes of acrylics. On Saturday mornings, I used to forgo cartoons in favor of Bob Ross and his happy little trees and the mountains they lived on. I wanted to cut in with some Burnt Sienna and highlight the crests of the waves with whatever magical mixture of blues and whites he used that day.

Alas, I also suck at painting. Who would have figured? Of course, Bob Ross isn't actually that great of a teacher. He goes too fast (lightening speed if you are 10), and he doesn't ever answer any questions. And he's dead, but that's not really his fault.

Yes, I do actually have a point. Or a project to share.

These personalized signs for the boys were fun and a great way to release my inner painter in the form of my outer doodler. That sounded a little ick, sorry.

I bought the wooden letters from a shop online that I'm too lazy to find right now. They were super nice though, and had great prices. So if you need wooden letters, ask me and I'll find them for you.

The canvases are 30x10, which is apparently a weird size. It fit the letters for Christopher perfectly, and when I bought it in 2007, I didn't plan ahead for Colin. So, when it came time to make Colin's sign, I had to special order a whole box of that size canvas, leaving me with 5 extra. I guess I'll be blogging about what I did with those at some point.

The painting was done with acrylic, and I used regular wood glue to adhere the letters to the canvas. For around $30 (not including the extra canvases I had to buy), we ended up with what I think are some cute name signs for my boys.

Any ideas for those extra 10x30 canvases are welcome.