Thursday, January 31, 2013

Randomness: Sketches

I haven't done this in a while (and probably should have saved it so I'm not doing two posts in one day) so why not!

These are my current dotee sketches.

I do have a sketch book (where I do transer ideas for posterity--I don't save these sheets) but when I'm at work my desk blotter is my go to sketch pad. 

There are four dotees sketched out on this sheet.  Top left corner is for the "what's a dotee?" swap.  There's no real theme for that so I'm planning to just make a really basic dotee (though I'm kind of in a monster mood lately, so I might make a more square dotee with moster looking face--haven't decided yet).  I have it narrowed down to either a "classic" dotee made from patchwork or a square/rectangular monster dotee.  We'll see.

Bottom left:  Hat dotee.  The theme is hats.  So a hat has to be part of the dotee (or the dotee itself).  I'm going to make a magicians top hat with finger puppet bunny that pops up out of it.  The hat will be felt (with perhaps a fabric covering over the head opening of the hat, which will be where the bunny comes up out).  The bunny will be the finger from a glove with felt and embroidered accents.  The hanger will be on the rim of the hat so it hangs and looks kind of like a hat hanging on a wall but when you look at it you can see there's more to it (an opening on the bottom of the hat--which is technically the top of the hat) where you can put your finger and make the bunny pop up out.  The only tricky parts will be the fabric disguising the bunny.  I'm confident I can make this one work.

The middle sketch is for a birthday themed dotee.  I want to make a Cake-a-saurus.  A felt cake with dinosaur features.  Google eyes, a mouth, and little lit candles as the spines.  This one might end up looking funky (since it's a weird concept) but I'm confident I can actually produce it.  The hardest part will be the mouth area (and I anticipate the candles being tedious to make but not "hard").

The right hand sketch is for the Wizard of Oz series.  This month is the Scarecrow.  The key to the scarecrow is the brain, so I need to include it in the doll.  I'm going to (yet again) use the gingerbread man shape I have for the body shape.  Then cut off the top of the head to make a brain that's then hidden under a hat (the hanger will come up out of the top of the hat, so the had can slide along the hanger to reveal the brain but not get lost).  The body will be pretty basic.  I'm hoping I have some burlap-y fabric in my stash to make the clothes.  And I'd like to use some linen for the face, to get that bag face look the WOZ scarecrow has.  This one will be a challenge because I want to use a bunch of different fabrics.  They might not play well together, so we'll see.  I really want this one to be good, too.  I want to do crazy good quality for this series.  Other folks in this series are really pulling out the stops (the tinman I received is crazy awesome--I'm going to post pics once I have my full set--I'll show all the ones I made and all the ones I got).

Tonight I plan to finish the Bathtime dotee that's in progress.  It's coming along very well.  I was worried the emboidered face wouldn't come out right but I really like it so now I'm eager to get the whole piece done.  I have good feelings it will turn out very well.  (it's a cat in a washtub covered with bead bubbles and looking really pissed off).

Progress Report: Little Portraits

Painting update time.

I'll show them off in reverse of how I painted them (since this one isn't as exciting to see, change wise).

First up, Priscilla's portrait.



Put another coat of black on and then worked the background a bit. You an see it's darker along the bottom and a bit near the top of Priscilla's head.  The pictures don't do it justice but the changes were minimal (I can't really work on Priscilla while her black coats are wet).

Now Mr. Robot.



You can see the changes on this one.  I made a sweep over the entire canvas and started working on some of the blending.  I'm really liking the green background on this one.  It's fun to have an actual color for a change (lately I've been doing a lot of paintings with a ton of black/gray).  There's a ton more blending to do here but this is definitely heading in the right direction.

Now I just need to get to work finishing the sewing on Cylindra.  Maybe this weekend.  I only have to finish one more swap item by Monday (when I make a post office run) so I should be able to work on Cylindra a bit (her body is done and her limbs are in progress.  But her head isn't even started and you kind of need a head to have a portrait).

I'm loving these small canvases.  You can grab them right off the easel and turn them all directions and really get the paint just where you want it.  LOVE that.

So far, I'm loving these paintings.  I'm sure a week will come when I hate them.  I'm going to bet once I get to putting the details on Priscilla (those circles!) I'll be cussing and ranting.  I always cuss and rant when I paint.

Monday, January 28, 2013

For a Swap: Valentines Day Dotee

Yup, it's another dotee for a swap.  And another valentines day dotee.  This one was a group swap (so available only to folks in that group) and I wanted it to be extra fabulous since the founder of the group let me join even though I technically don't meet the requirments for joining (some groups have requirements like "have completed X swaps" and such.  I didn't have the required swaps done but the founder was nice enough to let me in anyway, so I really want to kick ass on my first swap with the group).

The only requirement for the dotee (aside from standard dotee "rules") was there had to be a heart on it somewhere.

I was stuck for a long time on what I was going to do and almost dropped the swap because of it and then inspiration hit.  I was browsing some crafty blogs I like to eyeball and one had a free tutorial for a mailbox and letters playset (valentines themed). 

I'm calling it "Hungry for Love" (no I don't put the titles on the dotees or any of that, I name them just for myself mostly because I like puns).

Time for closeups!

The doll is hollow so you can really pack a lot of stuff inside if you were so inclined.  I had four little pieces of cute valentines paper that were extras in a swap I received (the previous valentines day dotee swap).  I decided to keep a little bag of extras that I get from swaps so I can use them in future swaps.  These paper slips were perfect.  Folded in half they were the perfect card shape (and the paper was card thickness).  I didn't write anything on the mouth cards, I figure the recipient might like to reuse them or something.

The dotte is all felt with ric rac teeth and goodle eyes.  It's double thickness felt but no stuffing of any kind.  The hanger is ribbon.

The tail. . .

Is the fourth card .  It's a simple tail (no beads, just red/white striped bakery twine) but it's still really cute and really matches the whole dotee (if I do say so myself).

The flag moves up and down (limited range) and has a little heart on it.

So does. . .

The back panel.

No glue used on any of it (I don't hate glue, but I like to use it only as a last resort).  The dotee is a bit "fragile" (meaning it can get crushed down but you can fluff it right back up) so I'm going to have to ship it in a little box.  Good thing it was a USA only swap AND I got a box from another swap that I can re-use.

My partner hasn't been assigned yet, so I'm not sure where Hungry for Love will be heading.  But all I have to do now is box it up and send it, so I'm ahead of the game.

I'm also working on another dotee for a Bathtime themed swap. That one is going very well (and has the partner assigned--I got lucky and got a USA person even though it was international).  I also have to work on a third dotee for a Hat Dotee swap.  Partners were already assigned (that one's going to Canada) but won't be due for a bit.  But I prefer to get them done quickly, so once Bathtime is finished, I'll move on to Hat.  (I think I have my final idea picked for Hat--I need to do a test run with it before I decide).

Other dotees on my list include:  Wizard of Oz (Scarecrow), Birthday, Easter, Purse, Pair, and one "anything goes" (it's a "what is a dotee?" themed swap, so I think I'll go "old school" on that one and make a more classic styled dotee).

I'll be showing them all off as they get done.

I'm loving dotees (and hope to host my own swap either late February or March--I have a lot of swaps to complete before I can commit to being a host).

Thursday, January 24, 2013

New Paintings: Little Portraits

Hold onto your hole(s), folks.  It's time to start a new painting project.

And this time it's not just ONE painting, it's two.  At the same time!

*screaming and fainting*

Ok, it's not that dramatic.  Each canvas is only 8x8, so it's not really a challenge to work on two during the three hour class time.  In fact, I need to have two because each is so small they quickly get covered with wet paint that needs to dry before I can work with it again.

So, what am I up to this time?


This is a twist on what I originally wanted to do but couldn't get oval canvases in time.  Originally I wanted to do two Robot Portraits each on an oval canvas.  I was miffed when the ovals weren't available in time but now that I'm working with the 8x8s I'm very happy.  And I'm still doing portraits.  One is even a robot.

See, when you have a small canvas you feel so much more productive.  I went from blank to that there last night.  And I'm happy to add, I got no help from my wife.  Previous paintings I had him get my photo for me (print it out) and even supervise on gridding both photo and canvas.  I don't need him for that anymore.  I just put the canvas over my photo to trim it down (folded down the paper to get it to 8x8).  Then gridding it out was easy.  Even my puny math muscles can handle dividing 8 by 4 and drawing some straight lines.

For the record, I'm using THIS photo.

Giving it a quick look, I think I have the angle of the top of Mr. Roboto's head off a little.  But I can get that all hammered out as I work the painting more.

So, once I had that canvas completely covered I needed to move on to the next.

Once again, I got the entire canvas covered before class was over.  It was timed pretty much perfectly.  This one's not as exciting to look at yet but that's just because of the subject.  Yet again I'm working with black so it will take a bit for this one to really start taking shape.

Reference photo:


The shaping is pretty decent but I know it's going to morph a lot as I work on this.  I'm really excited to work on her button eye.  I love the coloring and the three bright dots on it.  It's also going to be a fun challenge to get her circle spots rendered well.  (for the record, the reference photo is cropped a bit top and bottom to fit the 8x8 canvas)

I'm aiming to get both as nicely blended and "realistic" as "Jackie and Xerxes".  So that means I'll most likely be working these for the rest of the semester.  If I get to the point where both are wet and I need something to occupy my time I'll probably start another 8x8.  I think I want to do another pair featuring T.P. Day and Mr. Durr.  And of course I need to make one for (the yet unfinished) Cylindra (the companion robot to Mr. Roboto).

One last pic for the road.

I just enjoy "work space" photos.  In this one you can see the photo my wife is using for his current photo.  Yeah, that's me striking a pose there.  At first I was grossed out that he was using my photo for a painting but I'm used to it now.  I hate photos of myself but I kind of like a painting of myself.  It doesn't hurt that the image is rather small so you can't immediately tell it's me.  I teased him that he needs to make me thinner in the painting (since I'm not that fat anymore).  At least get rid of my double chin!

I'm glad to be back to painting and loving the little canvases.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Trying Something New: Paper Piecing

Over at Quiet Play they're doing a Block of the Month project.

January's block ("Measure Twice") was a nice beginner intro to paper piecing.  I have been interested in paper piecing for a while but most of the blocks I had seen either looked too involved for a raw beginner or they just didn't interest me.

I actually liked "Measure Twice" and it looked like it really was beginner friendly.  Very few pieces so less chance to really cock it up.

So I thought.

THIS was my first go at it.


I forgot to add the little piece at the end of the measuring tape strip (piece three).  In a moment of hubris, I thought I could just add it on after I had already attached piece 4.  So I pulled piece 4 away from the paper up to the point where piece 3 needed to attach to piece 2.  But, as the second photo there shows, I cocked that up too.  So I had to scrap this, my first attempt.  (this was after I had made a mistake with the first two pieces, that had me tearing them apart and starting over using the same paper template).

After one complete FAIL, I saw what I had done wrong (mostly just not paying close enough attention to what I was doing) so I insisted that I give it another try.

THIS is my final product.

As you can see, it's far from perfect.  In fact, it's still just this side of fail.  The top right corner fabric is not big enough to cover the temlpate and there is also a bit of size issuse along the right side, too.  Not a huge issue (I can just trim the block down to hide those flaws) but technically it's not correct.

I think my big issue was that top fabric.  I should have picked something more forgiving.  I was trying so hard to match up the pattern (even though the pattern isn't hard and fast--the cages go all directions) that I forgot to make sure the piece would be long enough AFTER I matched the images.  And even then, I didn't match the images well enough (it's pretty crappy at the match point).

I did do well on the text fabric, which makes me happy.  I wanted the blue text to show (since it matches the blue of the bird cages really well) and be right side up, which it does.  So that was a win.  BUT, it doesn't line up properly with the next piece and the next piece is also too short so. . .

Yeah, maybe I should really consider this block yet another FAIL but I'm not.  It's salvageable and it was good for me to try something new and see it all the way through (not just give up when it didn't work out the very first time).

So, what do I think about paper piecing?

It's not bad.  I can't say I LOVE it though.  First, it seems kind of wasteful unless you're using actual scraps to start with (which I was).  I was hacking away at this fabric making smaller and smaller scraps which seemed kind of nuts.  Second, it's not very forgiving.  If you don't estimate correctly for the bit you're sewing, then you can't move on to the next step.  And if you have to tear apart two pieces, you're also removing the paper which means you kind of have to free ball when re-attaching those pieces (which could lead to more inaccuracies later on in the block).  So every time you add a new piece you're basically running the risk of cocking up the whole block and having to start over.  I'm not a fan of that kind of pressure.

The pros?  The finished blocks (even funky half fails like the one I made) look really cool.  And if you had more skills than I do, you could blast through some serious scraps (including really bitty pieces) with this technique, which is also cool.

Will I try it again?  Perhaps.  I plan to keep with this series to get all the patterns so I have them to play with later on in life (a few of them look very involved, too advanced for me).  I like all the patterns in the set and if I practiced more I'm sure I could do them all.  But at this point there are other projects I'm more interested in so paper piecing will go on the back burner (for now--if other blocks in this series seem beginner friendly I'll probably try them when they come around).

For a swap: Unique Holiday Dotee

This was made for a swap bot swap.  The parameters were Unique February Holiday (excluding valentines day). 

There's a whole little website the host uses for these unique holiday dotees which makes he whole process so easy.  February was loaded with a lot of good ideas but the one that stuck with me was:

National Organ Donor Day.

I really love this dotee.

The original sketch was to make it more like the game Operation, with the doll portion on a little square bed.  But the pattern I had (yes, it's jut a generic gingerbread man shape) was right at the top of the size limits (6 inches) so I scrapped the Operation idea and just went with the basic body with organs.

Represented are those organs most commonly (and easily--well, if any organ donation can be considered "easy") donated by LIVE donors.  Lung, liver, kidneys, bone and bone marrow.  Just for clarification, live donors don't donate whole lungs or livers.  They usually only donate bits of those organs (and livers can regenerate!).  I was going to add a heart, but heart donations by live donors really only happen in cases of heart/lung transplants, so they aren't as common.

The doll is all felt with polyfil stuffing.  The tail is completely beaded with a big bead at the bottom.  I got some bubble like beads for another dotee I'm planning (a "bathtime" dotee) so I figured why not use one here.  I'm still not very good with the tails.  I think it's because I just don't care for them much in general.  But this does give me a chance to use up some of the sead beads I have, so that's a good thing.

I didn't get a snap of the back, but I did add two patches to the back.  One noting what holiday it's for and the other with my name.  Signing your creation was a requirement of the swap, so I had to do it.  Normally I don't care to sign them.  I did finally get a fabric pen, but it doesn't stay well on felt so I had to make a cotton patch and adhere it with heat and bond (after writing on it).  It turned out well (but it's not fancy at all).

I hope the recipient likes it.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Crap and double crap!

I forgot to take a picture of the latest Dotee I finished.

See, this is why I should snap the pic right as I'm finished and not tell myself "oh, I'll get a pic of it when I get to work, before I pack it up".


I'm not that pissed about it or anything, just annoyed.  It was the first in a Wizard of Oz dotee swap series (it was the tin man), so now I won't have a full collection of pics when it's all over.


And while I'm moaning about crafty things that have annoyed me as of late, let me whine about painting for a second.

I can't get oval canvases in time for my painting class which starts next week.  So I have to use plain old square/rectangle ones.

OHHH, my first world problems!!

I was going to get all pouty about it and choose to do a different project all together, but I really don't want to come up with a whole new idea.  I'm already loving on the idea I have and it will turn out just as well on a regular canvas as it would on an oval one.  In fact, it might turn out BETTER on the regular (it might be easier to grid out the painting if it's not on an oval canvas).

I still may go looking about to see if I can find oval canveses in time for class, but then again I might not.  I think it's good to go with the flow on this.  And I might just get really small canvases (smaller than I've ever used) so I can get both canvases finished in one class semester.

Ok, enough whining.  I have a lot of stuff to work on this week like:

Unique Holiday Dotee (have my idea all mapped out, just have to execute it)
Jan Block of the Month (paper piecing)
Cylindra (robot companion for Mr. Roboto and one of the subjects for the aforementioned paintings)
Other dotees (bath, birthday, hat, easter, next wizard of oz which is scarecrow)
And whatever else I can find to get up to.

Time to get back to work.

Monday, January 14, 2013

For a swap: Looking for Love Dotee

Front and back.

In case you can't tell, it's a magnifying glass.  My swapee's profile noted numerous times how much she liked Sherlock Holmes (the original version, not that new stuff that's been cropping up lately).  When I think of Sherlock Holmes I think of magnifying glasses (along with that funky hat and a pipe).  The theme of the swap was "valentine inspired".  So it needed to be red and pink and hearts and such but not necessarily profile based.  But I like when I can do both, so I did.

The back is a little heart and when you turn the magnifying glass over, the front shows a close up of the heart, all smiling and being cute.

This whipped up SUPER fast, too.  All freehanded, too.  I did test out the shapes for size (and had to cut the white circles twice--the first one was too small).  I even free-handed the hearts and they turned out well.  I'm notoriously bad at making hearts.  They always look Vulcan but these were plump and very heart like which stunned me.

It's really a super simple design.  Circles for the front and back "glass".  Narrow strip for the side of the magnfying glass glass area.  Sew the circles to the rim.  Stuff with scraps of cotton batting.  Yup.  I just layered some batting scraps in there (and that first felt circle I cut that was too small!).  Oh, make sure you attach the hearts to the glass first with a few stitches.  The handle is just a rectangle of felt rolled up and sewed closed.  Super simple!  Attach the handle to the wall of the "glass" and then add your embelishments (I glued the ribbon to the handle--again, I don't like to use glue but in this case it looks very neat and the ribbon wouldn't have held stitches well at all--very loose weave on the ribbon).

Just make sure to attach the hanger as you're sewing the back glass to the rim strip.  I forgot and hand to pull a few stitches out and go back.  No biggie.  For the tail, just hide the knot up inside the roll of the handle to keep it looking neat.  I didn't embellish the tail much since the rest of the dotee was pretty fancy.  I just used the red and white striped bakers twine (which I love) and a jingle bell.  The jingle bell is definitely my go to for tails.  (though I did another dotee this weekend and I actually made a beaded tail--I'll be showing that off later this week).

While I'm yapping about dotees, I have to admit to having one HUGE peeve about other folks' dotees.  Don't take this the wrong way, I'm not bashing them (hey, maybe they're new to sewing, everyone's a beginner at one time) but it irks me when I see a hanger that's sewn on after the fact.  Those big gnarly stitches holding it on just detract from the dotee.  It doesn't make me hate the doll or anything like that, but I just notice that right away and it's kind of a let down.  I'm super picky about trying to make my dotee hangers and tails blend into the doll, not look like an after thought so it's just something I notice.  Again, not bashing others just a really nitpicky thing I have going on.

This dotee is off to his/her new home today.  And with this one done and he one for the Wizard of Oz swap (not yet partner assigned) done, I'm officially ahead of the game on my dotee swaps.  I have one other swap I'm signed up for (bath time dotee) which I've sketched up some ideas but I'm waiting to see if I can make it profile specific, so I haven't started it yet (the wizard of oz one didn't leave much room for profile tailoring since it's a very specific theme--I liked that).

I think I need to make a new embroidery hoop for my office cubicle, so maybe tonight while I'm watchign t.v. I'll work on that.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

For a Swap : Kitty Hoop

This is for yet another swap bot swap.

The parameters were to make something (anything you wanted) using an embroidery hoop.

My partner mentioned she hasn't been able to do much embroidery type crafting lately because she has two kittens and they get in the way (chasing the thread).  That is what inspired my hoop.

It was kind of hard to photograph.  The yarn ball kept spinning around.  But I guess that was a good thing since that was kind of the idea.

I also had a bit of a concept (if you'd call it that) for this hoop, too.  It's all about using what you have and recycling.  The entire thing is made from stuff in my craft hoard.  I bought nothing for this one (though at one point I thought I might have to buy safety pins for the kitties--but just when I was about to give up I found one more among the detritus on my living room crafting t.v. tray table).  A lot of the supplies came from thrift stores, too.  The ribbon wrapped around the hoop, the yarn, and the styrofoam ball used for the yarn ball all came from the Goodwill near my house.

I also wanted the whole thing to be easy to disassemble so the supplies could be repurposed into a new craft (if the recipient so desired).  Yes, part of that was a way to say to the recipient that it was ok if they didn't like the hoop so much.  They can just appreciate it for what it is then take it apart and make it into other things.

So I had to forgo using any glues and the like so I would waste as little supplies as possible.  For the ribbon, I just wrapped the starting tail under as I wrapped (sort of tieing it off).  For the end, I wrapped it tight around the hoop closure then I used a small piece of clear tape to tape it down on the underside.  For the yarn ball I just tied the yarn around the ball then wrapped.  I held the yarn steady with a pin as I wrapped then just removed the pins once it was all stable.  There is no glue or tape or anything on the ball.

The kitties can even be re-used.  The safety pins can easily be removed (and re-used) and the kitties applied to something else.

Now, time for some closeups of the kitties.

I was only going to make two (to mimic the recipient's two cats) but I couldn't find a pic of her cats.  I found only one pic of one cat (a tabby).  And two cats wasn't enough.  The ball demanded at least three (to make it feel well covered).

It wasn't until I was needle felting the calico cat (that's how I got the spotts on) that I realized what I had done.  I had made my three cats, Cringer, Monte, and Cecil.  Well, I was thinking about Monte when I made the tuxedo cat.  I deliberately used the siamese body shape and made it tuxedo.  Monte was a siamese-y tuxedo (and the favorite of my cats, though I love them all).  None of the cats are exact replicas of my cats, but the similarities are there (Cringer is a calico, Monte was a tuxedo, and Cecil was a tabby).

I've been making these cats for a while now (oh, for the record the pattern is HERE) and I think I'm finally sold on the fact that they need whiskers.  It took a while to convince me but seeing the mixed colors on this tabby cat seals the deal for me.  Whiskers for everyone from this point forward!

I also really like the effect of the needle felting.  I just used tiny felt scraps and needled them on.  I'm sure if I played with needle felting more I could get really cool blends.  I'm really liking needle felting for adding effects to other projects.  I'd like to get more into making needle felted figures/sculptures, but not right now (I've tried it and liked it but it's very time consuming for me, being a beginner).

I hope the recipient likes the hoop.  I'm very pleased with the results.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What I Got from a Swap!!!

This is so full of awesome I'm just busting at the seams.

I did a swap with one of the folks over at Regretsy (Jeh Em Bee).  That's who I made the stego and the glove bear for.  In return I got. . .

"Yip, yip, yip, yip.  Bbbbbrrrringggg!"

Hee hee! 

My yip yips are hard at work on the phone this morning.  It's nice having a pair of super cute helpers at the office!

For those that aren't familiar, Yip Yips are from Sesame Street. 

Yes, my crocheted ones are just about spot on.  Hmm, maybe I'll see if I can add antennae to mine (not that they NEED it, but just to see what it would look like).

I love my yip yips so much.  This was an awesome trade.

Monday, January 7, 2013

REVIEW: Pink Chalk Fabrics Scrap Bag

I had my eye on Pink Chalk Fabrics scrap bags for a while.  But they were out of stock for the longest time and, to be quite honest, I didn't NEED to buy any fabric.

But then the end of the year clearance came along and what was on sale but some awesome ostrich print fabric I'd had my eye on.  And I did need to buy two yards of solid color (orange) fabric for a swap so. . .why not grab a scrap bag while I was at it (since they were finally back in stock).

First up, pics of the fabrics.

15 different prints.  Each piece was a good size, too (no tiny strips or little chunks).  And only one of them was just too big of a print for the project I'm working on (that car print was really large and I'm doing a postage stamp quilt, so I just squirreled that one away for now).  I was able to cut out a few 5 inch squares from each along with 2.5 inchers and still had a nice piece of each fabric to use later for whatever comes along.

My only beef (if I can call it that since the product description does mention "some may have minor flaws") were the minor flaws.  Yes, I realize they were possible but they still annoyed me.  Of the 15 fabrics I received, two were flawed.

The chevrons had a very noticable stain on the white part.  And the white bird fabric had a very long (and dirty) sticky mark left over from tape.  There was also a smaller tape mark in another spot on the fabric.

Normally these types of flaws don't bother me (especially when the product description notes they could be there) but these ones did for some reason.  Maybe I had forgotten the "may contain flaws" warning in the description (I think I did) or maybe it was because I had waited so long to finally purchase this scrap bag that I was more excited about it than normal (so I was let down a bit).  Or maybe it was this:

One of the scraps had clearly come from pre-washed fabric.  You could tell from the feel and the fabric had that "wavey" look that pre-washed (but not starched) fabric has.  And it had the tell tale snarly strings along the edge (from frayed threads).

"Flaws" are things like a bit of annoying sticky from tape (hey, it happens) or a tiny stain on white fabric (again, it happens) but PRE-WASHED fabric means USED.  I was purchasing a scrap bag from a online fabric store so I expect the scraps to be "first run".  Trimmings from other cuts, end of bolts, bits and pieces left over from doing other business.  I do not expect USED items.  If I want used fabric scraps, I'll buy fabric scraps from etsy or ebay (or the thrift store--which I do--I'm not anti "used", I just don't want or expect "used" without warning). 

To me that made this purchase a dud.  For the price ($14.95--not un-reasonable since it was a good sized bag) it was NOT worth it.

I won't be buying the Pink Chalk Fabrics scrap bag ever again.  I'll also think twice about buying from them again for other purchases as well.  If it hadn't been for the ostrich fabric (that I really wanted) being on sale there (and I couldn't find it other places I like to shop) I probably wouldn't have made this purchase anyway.  Overall, Pink Chalk's prices aren't that great and their shipping was a bit slow (I cut them slack since it was over the holiday--I'm not totally unreasonable here).

Overall, the scrap bag was a bust.  The other items I bought were perfectly fine.  If I were grading this (first time) purchase I'd give it a C.  Pink Chalk won't be on the top of my shopping list (unless they have something I desperately want that I just can't find anywhere else).

For a swap: Valentine House

I made this for a swap-bot swap.

Free pattern/tutorial is HERE.

The idea was to use the tutorial to make a valentines themed house.  You were to keep the same design (using linen or linen blend on the front of the house, have one door, one window) but you could mix up the decoration under the window (as long as you put something there).

Here's my house.

I went pretty basic for the front, following the pattern/tutorial pretty much spot on with the exception of chimney placement (I put it on the other side). 

Instead of putting a little felt bird under the window, I went with some text.  I was really wondering what to put there then I discovered some fabric in my stash that I had completely forgotten about.  The "kiss me!" text comes from one of the word balloons on that fabric.  Then I just had to use that same fabric for the back of the house (even though I had already cut out a different fabric for it--eh, no harm, no foul--it was just a FQ I got as a gift--nothing super fancy).

Think that window looks boring?  (ok, it is a little understated what with the white stitching)  Well I'll have you know that's part of a SKULL right there.  That scrap came from some Dia de los Muertos fabric.  If you look closely you can see the teeth and nose (I put it on upside down to minimize how much you can see the skull-ishness).

Check out the house number.  420 anyone?  Yeah, I couldn't resist using that.  Well, I really wanted 69 but it wasn't in the numbers.  I used some scrap from the barcode fabric I had and 6 and 9 just weren't next to each other. I could have cut them out separately but that would have looked weird (and too forced for the joke).  But 420 was natural on the fabric so I went with it.  Spark 'em up!

I only bought one thing new for this project.  That was the ribbon for the hangar.  It was from the dollar zone at target and, if I may say so, a rip off.  The ribbon itself is fine (not crappy quality) but the amount you get for your dollar is pathetic.  Eh, live and learn (and really what did I expect for a buck at Target?).

This was my first go round with this pattern/tutorial and for the most part there were no issues.  I did have a bit of a hang up doing the box corners.  But part of that might have been my machine (it was being crabby for the whole project--not sure exactly why, I'll have to look into that).

I'm excited to send this off to the recipient.

Next up?  I have to finish the hoop I have to make for a swap.  I got the hoop part done I just have to sew up a couple of bitty little kitty pins and it'll be done.  Then, a valentines themed Dotee doll.  Still pondering what I want to do with that one.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Made for a Swap

I finally got this done.  I planned to get it all out of the way over my vacation week but. . .yeah, I could trot out excuses like "I got a cold" (which I did, and it did knock me on my ass for a few days) but to be honest the reason it took so long was two fold.

First, I couldn't decide what to make.  Well, one part of it I couldn't decide on.  Then once I decided I just wasn't excited about the choice. 

Ok, let me just show you what I made then blather some more.

The dinosaur was the part I did manage to get done before the new year (during my vacation time).  While it's not an exciting item to make, the finished product is super cute.  And it's very easy to make.  The hardest part is cutting out the pattern pieces (which isn't "hard" just kind of tedious).  The rest is just very basic sewing, perfect to do while listening to the t.v.

See.  Very cute.  You don't have to stuff the plates and spikes, so after you do a tiny bit of prep stitching (to get the plates to stand up) you just sew the sides to the back strip and bob's your uncle.  Even stuffing it isn't that tricky (sometimes these smaller felt items can get irksome to stuff, forcing you to roll tiny bits of stuffing and bascially sew around them--tedious as hell but you get nice results for the effort).

After the dinosaur came out so well, my enthusiasm for the glove bear really dwindled.  I wanted an easy project that would make a cute very baby safe item.  So going with the glove bear was the prefect choice.  They sew up very easily (I got the bear done in a few hours start to finish, even with wrestling with the safety eyes--they're cute but so belligerent to install sometimes).

I'm glad I used the safety eyes.  They're really cute and give this very minimalist doll some cute expression. 

Like most projects that I'm less enthusiastic about, once I started working on it I got more interested (that's why I decided to use the safety eyes--I was into making the doll by the time I got to working the head).

I'm glad I decided to make the glove doll.  I haven't made a glove doll in a while and this bear pointed out some tricks I hadn't thought of before, like trimming the bulky fabric off the cuff.  The cuff on this particular style of stretch gloves (mens sized gloves) has a double layer of fabric at the cuff.  As long as you don't cut right where the cuff is sewn back onto the base of the glove, you can lose a whole layer of bulk without doing any damage to the structure of the glove.  Losing that bulk makes the muzzle of the doll much sleaker.

(I learned this the hard way--the first go round with the bear's head, I trimmed the bulk by cutting along the seam where it attached to the body of the glove and I ended up with a nice row of tiny little holes all along what would be the bears snout--had to scrap that head and start over.  No big loss time or supplies wise but still annoying--but a good lesson was learned).

I also trimmed the bulk on the cuff of the glove that makes up the body, so the doll's neck wasn't as narrow and bulky.  Made for a much nicer finished product.

Since I was into the doll once I got started, I even decided to add a little rattle to the tail.  Instead of stuffing the tail with polyfil, I lined it with another fingertip (the tail is one of the fingertips from the glove--I made a double layer of finger tips) then put a small jingle bell inside.  It makes for a cute little rattly tail I think a baby will enjoy (yet not be able to hurt themselves on--if a baby can gnaw that bell out of that tail, well then that baby needs to be examined, I think it might actually be a puppy).

So, this pair (well, trio--I added a little ewok I had in my stash--I made it for a future Regretsy charity sale but there might not be any of those for a while so. . .) is off to Canada in trade for. . .wait for it. . .a pair of crocheted Yip Yips.  Oh, you know I'll be showing those off when they arrive (I'm so excited about them I could pee).

Next up on my crafty to do list?

The kitty hoop and a valentines day themed dotee doll.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Dotee Doll

This was one of the last things I made for 2012.

Funky Cheshire style cat.  I called it a Cheshire Hello Kitty (or maybe I should have called it a Cheshire Hell Kitty, since the 'o' on the "hello" all seemed to get cut off, that amused me).

Cotton fabric fro the body, felt for the facial features, fleece for the tail.  Red and white twine (separated) for the whiskers (re-cycled twine--yes, the same tine I've been using for a lot of stuff).  Ribbon for the hangar and collar (again, recycled ribbon I got on something else, still have quite a bit of it left which makes me happy).  Seed beads on the collar and one elephant sequin.  Embroidery floss and bell for the tail.  I think jingle bell tails are going to become my signature for Dotee Dolls.  It's an easy way to make the tail and give a little zing to the whole dealie.

I have one other thing to show off (that I completed in the final days of 2012) but I have something esle that goes with it (for another swap) so I'll show them both off at the same time.

What's on my to do list?

Glove bear (for regretsy swap)
Valentines Dotee (for swap bot swap)
Crazy Kitty Hoop (for swap bot swap)

I need to get the bear done first before I start on the others (since the bear is the least exciting for me and I want to get that all arranged--I can't wait to finish that swap, I really want to receive the items I'm swapping for.)

2013 here I come.