Feb 19, 2012

Weekly craft check-in #7: prettified matchbox

There's this big matchbox that sits on the table by the computer. I see it every single day. It was just an ordinary matchbox, but no more! I decided that if I'm going to have to see it all the time, it might as well be a little nicer to look at. And when all it takes is a little paper, glue, a craft knife and about five minutes to make something easier on the eyes, well, I have no real excuse for not doing it. ;)

Prettified matchbox

Check out the bronze metallic paper on the sides, too. Pretty snazzy, and it kind of goes with the "fiery" theme, I think:

Prettified matchbox

Oh, and I forgot: There was also a fine-tip Sharpie involved, so I could write a little label on top of the box.

Prettified matchbox

So that's what I made last week. There was much pondering of cross-stitching, but no stitching actually got done. A nice bag of alpaca is also waiting for me to prep it and spin it up, which you'll get to see soon, I promise.

What have you made in the past week? :D

Feb 13, 2012

Weekly craft check-in #6: stripes and purple fuzz

OK, so I should have posted this yesterday, but ... well, there it is. ;)

Last week's crafty endeavors included not only the ridiculously easy prettified tape dispensers, but some prettified magnets to match. I don't know about you, but we have a ton of those promotional magnets floating around here — the kind you get in the mail from lawyers and appliance repair shops and the like, who are super-eager to have their presence and business contact information in your home. Suffice to say those aren't generally very attractive, so I took a couple and glued some decorative paper on. Now I actually have matching tape dispensers and magnets, which is, I'm pretty sure, a first for me.

Prettified magnets

The other thing I worked on last week was my first needle punch project. It wasn't the first time I've tried needle punch, but my first attempt ended in baffled frustration as I couldn't get the loops to stay in the fabric. Silly me: After finally looking it up, I discovered that I must not have had the fabric taut enough in the embroidery hoop, since it needs to be able to close in a bit around the little loops when you take the needle punch tool out. Anyway, here's my first successful needle punch project ever:

My first needle punch project

It's almost like a minuscule rug, or a bath mat for dolls. ;) No idea what I'm going to do with it, though. (I still haven't figured out what to do with the Garfield cross-stitch, even.)

And oddly enough, the back side of it is almost better than the front, in my opinion:

My first needle punch project

But I hear the Japanese embroidery technique bunka shishu is pretty much needle punch from the "wrong" side. Maybe I should look into that. ;)

So what'd you make last week? Any crafty awesome to share? :D

Feb 8, 2012

Super-simple craft: instant tape dispenser upgrade

Although I wish I could, I can't take credit for this awesome idea: turning a standard, cheap-o tape dispenser into a pretty little thing (or a geeky little thing, or a dramatic little thing, whatever you choose) to brighten your day. It takes, oh, one minute, and all you need is pretty paper, a writing implement of your choice, and some scissors. Well, and a tape dispenser.

Anyway, I prettified both tape dispensers that wandered into my path while I was on a craft mini-rampage Monday evening, and it was so easy that I feel kind of like a doofus that I didn't start doing this years ago.

Super-easy DIY customized tape dispensers

Aren't they cool? I even wonked up the cutting a little and it totally doesn't matter at all. (See, look closely at the center of the one with the swirly paper. There's a bit of a jagged edge around the hole, but it's pretty non-offensive, IMO. I'm sure it would give some people the twitches, but I still think it's way better than the plain version of the dispenser, so I'll ignore it. ;))

Super-easy DIY customized tape dispensers

To make your own, just pop the tape roll out of the dispenser, take out the piece of paper that's already in there, and trace around it onto a nice-looking piece of paper of your choice. (You could even use fabric. I considered it for about two seconds before I decided I'd mind less if I messed up a pretty piece of paper. Which is a silly thing to worry about, since it's pretty hard to mess up this mini-project so badly that it doesn't instantly make your tape dispenser(s) look better.) Cut inside the tracing lines (if you cut outside them, your custom insert will probably be a wee bit too big) and pop your pretty paper back into the dispenser, then put the roll of tape back in. DONE! Seriously. Easy.

Credit where credit's due: I got this from Helena at Craft and Creativity, but she in turn got it from someone else. Maybe we can turn custom tape dispensers into a crafty meme. Go ahead, pass the idea on to all your craft friends. ;)

Feb 5, 2012

Weekly craft check-in #5: Garfield the Grumpy & thoughts on misfit crafts

This week I dug out some long-dormant cross-stitch projects and picked one to finish. And what do you know? I actually did it.

(Cue dramatic noises of surprise and shock!)

Seriously, I hardly ever finish cross-stitch projects. Once, I was sure I never finished them because I just wasn't any good at cross-stitching. Now, I realize that I never finished them because counted cross-stitch just doesn't really suit me. (And don't get me started on the kind of cross-stitch where you take a piece of fabric with a printed picture on it and stitch over it. Not that there's anything at all wrong with it if you enjoy it, but me, I'm more inclined to just hang up the pretty picture than to spend all that time stitching over it to make it pretty much look the same. ;))

Anyway, the problem wasn't that I was bad at cross-stitch (though I'm still not that awesome at it, it's true), and it wasn't that cross-stitch and I just don't get along. It was that I hadn't found a type of cross-stitch that really fit me. But a few months ago, I came across some pictures of other kinds of cross-stitch in an old needlework book I have, and suddenly I'm enthused again about learning it.

I'm realizing more and more as I keep on crafting — even from the stuff that I finish but hate hate hate making, and from the stuff that comes out merely blah — that when I'm drawn to a craft, there's probably something awesome about it that I will totally love. That doesn't mean, though, that the most readily available form of that craft is suited to me. And if I confuse the readily available project ideas and kits with the whole of a certain craft (which I have done a ton of times...), I just might miss out on some obscure form of the craft that really, really flies my starship.

So the lesson is, apparently, that sometimes I just have to struggle through the projects I have ready access to, even though they don't really suit me, in order to get good enough at a craft to discover the parts that I really, really like.

Life is kind of like that, too, huh? ;)

But rather than get off on a hippie tangent about life, the universe and everything, I'll just share with you the cross-stitch project that I finally finished:

Garfield cross-stitch

It still needs some of the plastic canvas cut off, but it's essentially done. OK, except for that part where I decide what to actually do with it. But WOO. I must have bought the kit for this project somewhere on the order of eight or nine years ago ... and it's finally done.

There's hope for me yet! ;)

Just for kicks, too, here's a picture of our resident orange cat:


If he ate lasagna, he would pretty much be Garfield. He's grumpy, doesn't like kittens, sleeps all the time (though what cat doesn't? ;)) ... and actually, we've never tried giving him lasagna. Hmm. Maybe if we tried it, we'd discover that he really is a Garfield cat. You never know.


So what'd you make this past week? :D

Jan 29, 2012

Weekly craft check-in #4: Water Dragon blouse

This week I exercised my newest sewing machine some more by finishing an old, stalled project. It was supposed to be a non-boring work shirt, and I think I like it even as a non-work top (which is good, since I'm not at the job any more that I started sewing this for ;)).

Water Dragon top

I'm calling it the "Water Dragon" top partly for obvious reasons (scaly? silvery? shiny?) and partly because it's the Chinese Year of the Water Dragon, and I finished it not too long after the Chinese New Year. ;)

I also got to try out the new remote shutter switch for my camera. I think the photo came out OK for my first session with it, don't you? ;D

So .. What'd you make this past week? :D

Jan 22, 2012

Weekly craft check-in #3: a little sewing project

Time again for a crafty check-in! Did you make anything this week? I'd love to hear about it, or better yet, to see it — so feel free to post your blog links in the comments here or post your pictures in the Craft or Bust Flickr pool!

This week, I tested out my newest sewing machine acquirement by making a simple green clutch.

Leafy clutch

Leafy clutch

Leafy clutch
A peek at the inside of the clutch

I downloaded the directions for the clutch for free from BurdaStyle, a sewing Web site where you can get free and paid patterns and share your sewing projects with the community. It's the 1, 2, 3 Sew Pintuck Clutch pattern.

The clutch came out pretty well, considering I haven't sewn for a while, I was using a sewing machine I'm not used to, and the ironing board was out of commission so I had to do my pressing on the floor. ;) (I'll probably use it as a pouch for knitting notions rather than a clutch, though. Shhh.)

More sewing projects are planned for the coming weeks. Wish me luck with my printable pattern adventure. ;)

Jan 15, 2012

Weekly craft check-in #2: a DIY reed diffuser

That week just zoomed by for me — anyone else?

I did manage to get a little makey-makey in, though. I worked a little on a sweater that's been waiting patiently since early 2010, and I also used up some random stuff that's been sitting around the house in a DIY reed diffuser experiment.

DIY reed diffuser

In short, I took some leftover sweet almond oil, the dregs of a bottle of vodka, and some otherwise ignored fragrance oil and shook it all up in the sweet almond oil bottle. Then I poured it into a vase I rescued from under the sink and stuck some bamboo skewers into it. I've heard that the rattan reeds sold specifically for these diffusers work a little better, but hey, the skewers were on hand. I also would have preferred essential oils to fragrance oil, but I figured I might as well use up some fragrance oil while I'm experimenting. It'll be less annoying than using up my lovely essential oils if it doesn't work out. ;) And if it does work, I can use essential oils next time! I'm still waiting for the skewers to marinate and hopefully begin to actually, you know ... diffuse. (I'll also flip them over in a couple of hours, which should help the scent start circulating.)

Did you make anything this week? Share it in the comments if you like, and don't forget to post links to relevant pictures or blog posts if you have them. ;D

Jan 8, 2012

Weekly craft check-in

Sunday! That means it's time to talk about what got made over the past week. (Woo, Craft or Bust!)

At first, on reviewing the past week, I thought I'd hadn't done anything creative or made anything at all. That'd be a great start to the new crafty year, right? ;) I did do a lot of cleaning, though; the Great Craft Room Rescue I've been blathering about for a while appears to finally be under way. (I'm not going to say it definitely is, though, as that might psych me out. ;) Let's just pretend it's like the economy. I won't officially declare the state of the craft room at a high or low point until enough time has passed that I can get a good perspective.)

So I thought I was going to have to say, "What'd I make this week? A mess! And then I cleaned it up."

Part of the aforementioned mess: Some of the tissue paper and wrapping paper I've collected over the years, spread out over the dining room floor so I can sort it and put it back into the craft room in some semblance of order.

Box o' yarn
A lot of my yarn is actually (gasp!) in fabric boxes now. No, not homemade ones like I wanted to make last year (and still want to make), but at least they're an improvement on random sizes of cardboard boxes. ;)

Then I realized that I took some photos of a vase of roses we have in the house at the moment, and according to my own rules, that counts as doing something creative. Ta-da! So I "made" photos. Win.

High Orange Magic

I also got my Very First roll of Swedish tracing paper in the mail this past week, which will hopefully encourage more crafty goodness to ensue. I've been wanting some of this stuff for years, as I've developed an aversion to cutting out paper pattern pieces: For one thing, pattern paper is generally wimpy and easy to tear, and for another thing, sewing patterns cost enough that I don't like the idea of only being able to use them once, in one size.

I also like to draft my own patterns, and while I don't mind doing the initial drafting on paper (usually newsprint, since it comes in large sheet sizes and is readily available at the craft store), I still don't like storing patterns permanently on normal paper, which insects like to chew on and which is more fragile than fabric-like Swedish tracing paper.

Plus, you can sew Swedish tracing paper. Like. How cool is it that you could theoretically use Swedish tracing paper for draping an item of clothing, then take it apart and use it as your permanent master pattern without having to transfer marks or cut anything else?

Anyway, now I'll be able to use the patterns that came with some of my sewing books without actually cutting the printed paper that came with the books. Ha-HA! Not that I really ever get rid of books, but it's nice to have the option of doing it ... and I'm probably not the only one who hates it when used craft books are missing crucial things like, oh, the patterns that you need to actually complete the projects inside the book. ;)

Swedish tracing paper
Yay! My first roll of Swedish tracing paper!

So that's what I did this week. What did you make this week, my cohorts in crafting? :D

Jan 1, 2012

New year, new crafty challenge!

Random craftiness pic

That's "new" in the sense of "renewed," really, not in the sense of "totally not seen before!" ;)

That's because I'm talking about Craft or Bust. If you don't know, it's my annual crafty challenge to myself — and to anyone who wants to join me — to create something, even if it's something tiny, every week of the year. (Maybe that sounds kind of low-key to you, but it's harder for some of us than for others! ;))

Anyway, if you'd like to join me, just leave a comment on this post with your name and goal, and if you want to be linked to when I mention you in a CoB context, also leave a URL for yourself.

You're free to join whenever, stay as long as you want, and most of all, enjoy yourself! This is a creative challenge, not a way to stress yourself out, so don't worry if you get behind. There's always next week.

If you're in a signing-up-for-stuff frenzy, you can also sign up to get e-mail reminders and updates and join the Flickr pool for sharing your crafty pics.

Happy crafty new year! ;D
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