A Study of Elephants and Dots

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I’ve avoided MINKY fabric thinking it was similar to fleece (which I can’t stand). However, this summer I was at a fabric warehouse and came across some grey elephant fabric that I knew would be perfect for a particular couple’s new baby.

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While they are having a girl, she wasn’t keen on going all pink. When I found the coordinating grey and yellow dots, I knew I had to try using MINKY fabric.

I have discovered that while fleece and MINKY fabric are similar in appearance, their textures are quite different. MINKY stays soft and silky after washing. There is also a lack of static electricity. Yay! It also didn’t dry out my hands while working with the fabric.

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After a quick bit of research, I decided to use a tutorial from Make It & Love It for a self-binding MINKY blanket. Ashley does a marvelous job of explaining each step with very helpful photos. Now that I have made one, I want to make many more.

The blanket came together quickly. Other than me cutting the fabric pieces the opposite of my original intention (I wanted the dots to be the back so I wouldn’t have upside down elephants), it was a quick project.

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After realising I cut the dot fabric to the small size, I cut the elephant fabric a little larger to prevent the elephants from folding around the top and bottom edges. This strategy would have worked had I also cut the dot fabric a bit larger as well.

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Other than a wonky corner, I’m quite pleased with how this blanket turned out. I may need more MINKY fabric.

I’ve completed another stash project (though this fabric was bought for this particular project). I get to go shopping! Or just stay on my roll of using up currently owned supplies it is still only February.

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Scarves and a 5K

The year we married, I started running for exercise. I had no goal or plan or ambition, it was just an inexpensive way to exercise. Since we live in Florida, I can run outside nearly all year, so I didn’t need to join a gym.

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After about a year, I let work and life push running out of the picture. I was enjoying being married. Work was extra stressful. I really just couldn’t be bothered.

One day someone from one of my internet friends posed a challenge. He wanted to create a team to pledge to run 2,016 miles in 2016. I knew I wanted to start running again, so I joined in. I’m sure I’ll mention our progress again as the year goes on. We are right around 200 miles already.

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To add to the inspiration, I discovered a Hogwart’s Running Club. I had to join. I’m now a proud member of the Hufflepuff team. You are welcome to follow the link to find details on joining.

HRC does virtual 5Ks throughout the year. Each run is done in support of a charity. In tandem with the race is a challenge that each house competes in. The first run of the year is the Molly Weasley Ugly Jumper Run. The charity of choice is One Warm Coat.

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Each house is challenged with gathering scarves to give to One Warm Coat who can then give out the scarves with the winter coats. I cannot speak for the other houses, but us Hufflepuffs go right to work. Wizards and witches were shopping, knitting, and sewing scarves left and right.

I was finally able to sit down and stitch up a pile of scarves myself. I rooted around for my excess collection of fleece and got to work.

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The only fleece that was long enough to be scarves was the black fleece. However, I didn’t think it was long enough to cut fringe into the ends. I opted to add colorful squares and rectangles to the ends of each scarf.

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Each scarf got its own design of squares. With the limited choices I had to be a little creative. I managed to stick to my resolution for yet another project. I had these fleece on hand from when I made Angry Birds. I always have thread.

Now I just need to sort through my collection and pull out the scarves I no longer need.

 

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Look Out! Elephants!

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I swore after making this diaper bag pattern the first time, I was never going to make it again. It took me days to complete. That was 6 diaper bags ago. I’m comfortable enough making them, that I’m considering offering them for sale.

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I’ve liked each bag I’ve created, but I’m quite proud of this bag. This is the first one I’ve made where I have needed deliberate pattern placement. I wanted to make certain that the elephants were centered on the front and back of the bag. Oh, and the bottom too!

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I modified the pattern a bit. While cutting out the pieces, I forgot that the side panels fold to create the ends of the bags. To keep the design centered, I shifted everything a few inches. Rather than having corner seams, there are now seams down the center of the ends. This small change didn’t seem to effect the rest of the bag construction.

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I am quite proud of how well I matched the design of the pocket with the main bag piece. If it weren’t for the gathers from the elastic, it may not even be noticeable.

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My favourite detail on this bag is the strap. I love how it ties rather than being a continuous strap.

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I used the Pretty Bird Quick Trip Diaper Bag pattern from Sew4Home. I now love this pattern. I found the elephant fabric at fabric.com. The lining fabric was found on the quilting cotton wall at Joann’s Fabric.

Who wants a diaper bag?

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T.S.N.E.M -Quilting Edition

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It took me a couple weeks to settle on a project. I wanted to try paper piecing, but couldn’t settle on a project. Or to copy a quilt pattern onto a canvas. I was finally reminded by another participant’s project about the quilt kit I had requested from Quilts for Kids.

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I had requested the kit 4 years ago with the intention of making it my last summer project but got waylaid by another project or work stuff. As you all know, it is very easy to bury projects with supplies for other projects. I’m very glad I was reminded of the little kit I had hiding in the corner just waiting its turn.

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My kit came with pieces to make a Nine Patch Quilt. No easy beginner quilt for me. I jumped right in and followed the detailed instructions for constructing the top. In fact, I had pulled the project out just to get a handle on what I would need to do and accidentally made the entire top in about 3 hours!

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Since I knew my blocks didn’t line up exactly right. Even the pre-cut provided brown doggie squares weren’t quite right. I wanted to quilt each square individually. I probably spent way more time than necessary working on the quilting of this quilt, but I rather like how it turned out. On the 9-square squares, I stitched around each little square. Ugh! For the big squares, I did 3 shrinking squares. I also added a few lines around the framing pieces of the quilt.

To complete the quilt, I used black quilt binding and attached it like bias tape.

 

The quilt has been shipped off to be loved and used by a deserving child. I would like to send more, but that will have to wait until I’m able to more easily sort through my sewing scraps. If I’ve inspired you, check out Quilts for Kids and send in quilts or request a kit to start your own.

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I’ve even kept to my resolution goals. I did need to purchase batting and binding, but the rest of the materials I already had on hand. Woo!

February’s challenge is to try a tactile craft such as candle making, clay, paper mache, or candlemaking. None of these sound particularly interesting, nor do I have supplies on hand. I’m going to have to spend some time searching my Pinterest Board: Crafty Corner for some inspiration. Or just stare long and hard at all of my supplies until inspiration hits.

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T.S.N.E.M.

No, I haven’t lost my mind, but I am a teacher and we love acronyms. At least I’m told I do; in reality, I can’t ever remember what they stand for. So why then am I starting off a post with and acronym? It was faster than typing out Try Something New Every Month.

In an effort to help use up my craft supplies as mentioned previously, I’m joining the monthly challenge offered by Swoodson Says to try something new every month. The basis of the challenge is to use up those supplies bought with the intention of trying that new project you just pinned and then stuffed the supplies away and forgot about it.

There are a few months in there where my project will be a stretch of the basic parameters, but I’ll make it work. You can check out the challenge here: T.S.N.E.M.

Each month will have an overarching theme that is very broad – even if you’ve been quilting for years, maybe there is a technique or shape or block you haven’t tried, as an example. (I’ve included the complete list at the end of the post.)

January’s theme is quilting. There is no way I’m going to make an entire quilt in the month of January. But I think I have an idea forming. Here is some inspiration that I found:

A pretty quilted pillow. That could be fun. I’m sure I have plenty of scraps to do something similar.

A stretch here, but a quilted canvas. Hrm…I think I’m on to something.

Another pillow and just in time for Valentine’s Day. I know I have Valentine’s fabric stashed somewhere.

Maybe some bibs. I know many people having babies soon.  

I’m intrigued by paper piecing. I’m not certain what it entails exactly, but this may be the month to find out.

Not sure this skirt fits into quilting. This skirt is 16 panels of 2 fabrics cut and sewn into zig-zags. I really want this skirt. It’s also a really big project.

I have borrowed all of these photos to show projects I would like to do. Each photo is linked to the blog where I found the project. Next week, I’ll have my own quilting project to share.

Try Something New Every Month Theme:

January – Quilting

February – Tactile Craft; paper mache, clay, soap, candlemaking

March – Painting

April – Edible Crafts

May – Hand Sewing

June – Heavy Craft; leather, wood burning, glass etching

July – Yarn Craft; knitting, crochet, weaving

August – Printmaking; fabric or paper

September – Machine Sewing

October – Needlework; embroidery, cross-stitch, crewel, needlepoint

November – Papercraft; origami, scrapbook, calligraphy

December – Choose your own!

 

 

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I will not…

…start new projects until I finish all of my other projects already in the house. Has been my resolution over the past few years. I usually manage to keep it until spring break and I see shiny new fabric when I venture into the craft store for the first time since Christmas.

I’m amending this resolution to be something along the lines of:

I will not purchase supplies for a project until I search my craft supplies to make sure I don’t already have the necessary items.

Along with:

I will keep messes in my craft room under control so I can find supplies.

Finally:

I will honestly do my best to follow a project in/project out policy. I will complete (or give away supplies for) one project before I add supplies for another project.

Ohh…Look!

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I Like to Read

Schermafbeelding 2014-02-15 om 17.42.41A lot. I read everything. Signs, boxes, brochures, articles, books, magazines, web sites. I just can’t stop reading. I do not comprehend not wanting to read all the time. I just don’t get it. And I will judge you for not reading.

This of course means that I have an account over at goodreads.com. I do my best to log the books I have read. Though I’m sure I’ve missed a few (or a lot). I also participate in their yearly reading challenge. Last year I beat my goal of 65 books, by an entire 3 extra books. Go Me! I will admit, this includes audio books. However, it doesn’t include books read for work or to my classroom. That just wouldn’t be fair.

Reading Bingo

This year, I am once again taking on the reading challenge. And I’m upping my goal. I like nice round numbers. I’ve set my goal for 70 books. To make this happen, I’m probably going to have to read a few books under the 300 page mark.

Given that I am a voracious reader, I also keep 2 reading Pinterest boards going. The first is my Reminders to Read board. Anytime I come across a book that sounds interesting, I pin it. I try to read books from this list first. I also have an ongoing list on my phone for when I see a book in a store that I’d like to read but don’t want to purchase just then.

pilha-livrosAs I read the books, I shift them over to my Books Worth Reading board. Unless I think they are total crap, they the pins just get deleted. I don’t often delete pins. A book must be particularly terrible for that to happen.

Of course, there is always my goodread’s shelves that are teeming with the books I’ve read. I try to keep my wish to read shelves there to a minimum and store them on Pinterest.

Outside of the Goodreads challenge, I don’t usually join challenges, but this year, I’m going to use this check list to shake up my reading a little bit.

If anyone knows sources for any of these images, please let me know. Every path I tried lead to a broken link.

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Hello….

… from last year.

I’m never quite as organised as I wish or sometimes appear. I always laugh to myself when someone declares me organised. I think I just know how to appear organised. I admit to being good at organising but keeping up with everything is rather difficult. Every year I hope to do better. This isn’t about resolutions, this is about remembering.

This year I:

Read a pile of books.

Donated my hair.

Dyed my hair pink. Hot Pink! It was fun.

Opened a home-based bake shop.

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Baked about a million cupcakes.

Ran three 5k races.

Celebrated my first wedding anniversary. There was cake. I don’t have photos.

Vacationed at Disney.

Visited my Gramma in Arizona.

Spent a weekend in Cincinnati.

Spent a weekend in Austin.

Picked lemons, strawberries, and blueberries.

Visited a handful of museums, but not nearly as many as usual.

 

Overall, it was a great year at our house. There are a few things I’d like to improve next year. I’ll save that for another time. I hope you had a great year as well.

 

 

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Pip-Boy and Nuka-Cola

 
  

Until a few months ago, I had no idea what this meant. I still don’t really other than it has to do with Fallout 4. Which is a video game that was released on November 10th. Waaaayyyy back in June, it was announced that there would be a special edition released that would include a Pip-Boy. From what I gathered, a Pip-Boy is something worn on the arm by characters in the game. What I knew for certain was that my husband was really excited about this, but they were sold out…everywhere.

Thanks to my being home during the summer, I was able to monitor websites fairly closely and was ready to pounce when they came available. From then, it was just a matter of telling but not telling my husband to purchase the game.


The game finally arrived this week. There was a bit of a delay in the shipping, so by the time it finally arrived, we were both excited. It felt like Santa had arrived.

 

 

With all this excitement, I was inspired to make him a cake. When I finished my orders for the week, I used the tiny little 4-inch cakes I made with left-over batter to construct him a cake.

I used the few details I know about the game to help me design the cake. I know there are vaults in each version of the game. The vault for Fallout 4 is 111. The vault door was the inspiration for the top of the cake. After covering the cake in grey frosting, I added some copper powder to make it look old and rusted; just like everything on the screen looks in the game.

 

The cake is made using 1-2-3-4 Pound Cake recipe from Swans Down with a couple of alterations. I used 1 cup coconut milk. I also substituted the almond extract for coconut extract. Each layer was made from leftover dough from orders this week. One order included turquoise cupcakes which is where that one colored layer is from.

The little topper was made with candy melts mixed with light corn syrup. I just learned this trick. By mixing the two ingredients together, you create an almost fondant. Though it tastes much better. It also doesn’t dry out when you are working with it. It’s my new favourite discovery.

 

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Furiosa Arm

Howdy folks, another guest post by Anna’s husband, once again about a Halloween creation.

So… it all started with this guy.

Immortan Trump! If anyone knows who this guy is, let us know so I can pat him on the back.

Yeah, when I came across this photo I just laughed and laughed.  Then I decided that a mashup of Donald Trump and Immortan Joe was definitely what I wanted to do for Halloween this year.  Since we usually do couples costumes, we decided that the best thing to do for Anna would be a mashup of Hillary Clinton and Imperator Furiosa, or as we dubbed her, “Imperator Hilarosa”.  Most of the accouterments for the Immortan Trump costume are available online, and most of what we decided we needed for the Hilarosa costume was more or less available at Goodwill with the exception of one thing… that amazing robotic arm.  We found several homemade versions of the arm going for several hundreds of dollars, but nothing that was anywhere near the price we would want to spend on a Halloween costume.  Instead, I made one.

The more-or-less finished result.

It’s difficult to provide you with a complete parts list, but it’s something along these lines:

  • a plastic oil pan from the dollar store, $1
  • a metal lamp reflector that was in the garage, $free!
  • an insulated mug from the dollar store $1
  • some pens from the dollar store, $1 for a dozen
  • a pair of pliers from the dollar store, $1
  • three wooden dowel rods, $1 for a pack of 6
  • six round dowel rod caps from Lowes, $3
  • a couple of sheets of craft foam, $2
  • a small amount of faux leather from the fabric store, $4
  • braided clothesline, $1.50
  • silver, black, and bronze paint, maybe $6
  • maybe $15 worth of rapid rivets (for leatherwork) and pop rivets
  • other assorted nuts, bolts, and springs I had laying around the garage
  • liberal amounts of E6000 clear adhesive

So, somewhere around $40?  That’s tough to believe, but yeah…

Oh, wait.

  • approximately 24 hours total of cutting, shaping, drilling, sanding, riveting, fitting, rinse, repeat.

We started by taping Anna’s hand up in a glove made of newspaper and painter’s tape, to give me something to work around while she was off doing more important things.

She’s a good sport.

I then made the shape of the back of the hand out of plastic cut from the oil pan, and also cut out the shape for the “knuckle” for the middle finger.  As you’re looking at the photos, almost all of the black plastic was cut from the oil pan, and the metal parts came from the lamp reflector.  I’ll post an aftermath photo at the end to show you what was left when I was done.  I also made templates of every piece that I cut out of metal or plastic, if there’s any interest I’ll look into scanning them into a PDF or something.

All of the black plastic parts were shaped by heating them up with a heat gun and shaping them around the edges of my work bench.  I wore heavy leather gloves and the garage is pretty well ventilated.  Since we’re talking about safety, I also always wore my goggles when cutting anything, most of the cutting was done with a Dremel and cut-off wheels, and that sends sharp bits everywhere, especially when you’re trying to be in a hurry and the cut-off wheel explodes on you.

The metal shapes of the first two fingers were beat into a curved shape using a ball-peen hammer, then drilled out by hand with a cordless drill.

The bulk of the first finger was cut out of metal and also beat into shape using the same method.

The two pieces of the first finger were glued together using a long strip of craft foam and E6000.  I then started working on the middle finger, cutting everything out of black plastic and gluing it together with a strip of craft foam in the same manner I used on the first finger.  I  I then fastened it to the “knuckle” using two rapid rivets, and fastened the knuckle to the back of the hand (after making a couple of test fittings to make sure that everything was positioned correctly).  Then the bottom of each finger was put into place, more craft foam and a small “ring” of black plastic for strength.  I also added a bolt to the end of the middle finger, partially for the look but mostly to keep them from spreading apart.

On the right side of this picture you’ll see the inside of the first finger, with craft foam strips that were put into place for support, and also the plastic ring (the thickest strip behind the clothespin).  This is what is hiding underneath the craft foam in the other photos.  Also pictured here are the beginnings of the elbow brace, cut from a plastic insulated mug.

After I finished up the first finger, it was attached on one side using a rapid rivet.  This is also where I had a slight disaster (I split the relatively brittle plastic) and decided to rivet and glue in place a reinforcement piece.  The ribs on the bottom of the first finger were created from strips of craft foam.

The third finger (which contains Anna’s ring finger and pinkie finger) was shaped out of metal in the same fashion as the others, and fastened on one side with a rapid rivet.  It was finished on the bottom in a similar fashion as the first two fingers, plastic ring for support and craft foam for looks.  At this point I decided I didn’t like the way the gaps looked when the fingers were bent.  Even though Anna was going to be wearing a black glove under the hand I figured it would look better with something in that gap, so I took strips of craft foam and embossed ribs into then using a heated file.  Those were glued on one end so they would slide back and forth as the finger was moved.

Next I shaped the piece that covers the palm and wrist, this was originally planned as one piece but I ended up cutting it into two pieces to make it easier to work with.  I say “planned”, though most of this was trial and error as I went.  These pieces were fastened with short pop rivets.  I also painted the little finger with a light wash of black paint around this same time, so that it would wear away slightly as I was handling the glove.

Next I glued into place the dowel caps that would be the “tie rod ends” that connect the hand to the elbow brace.  I drilled a hole in the side of each one with enough room for for some movement of the dowel rods.  E6000 still remains some flexibility when cured, and I was banking on that to give Anna some wiggle room once it was all together.  The dowel caps were glued into place on top of long pop rivets that I scored with a Dremel cut-off wheel.

While that was curing I worked on the elbow brace.  I glued faux leather to the outside of the plastic piece that was cut from an insulated mug (pictured earlier), fastened another piece of the mug on the outside using rapid rivets, and glued on dowel caps using the same pop rivet method used on the hand.

The thumb was made of two more piece of plastic, and put together in a similar fashion as the other fingers, it was finished with a piece of metal that was riveted to small strips of metal that ran from one side of the thumb to the other.  This was probably the worst-documented part of the entire process, sorry about that.  I then attached a chunk that I cut off of a pair of pliers, a small metal armature made from the same metal as everything else, and a small spring that was in my toolbox.  This was all held together with a variety of rapid rivets and pop rivets.

After that was finished I painted the dowel caps black and then dry brushed everything in silver to give it a little sheen.  I also prepped and painted the dowels (silver) and pens (bronze), they’re in the background of the next photo.

After everything dried up, I put it all together for a test fit.  The pens have short sections of dowel glued into them, which are then glued into the dowel caps on the hand side, then the long sections of dowel are glued into the dowel caps on the elbow side, and just inserted into the pens.  This means the length of the arm can be changed.  This gives a little bit of flexibility in the wrist but also means that it will fit other people and isn’t sized just for Anna (there’s a hint in there, somewhere, maybe).  I also started adding some of the additional accouterments at this point, such as the cap nut on the back of the hand, the wrench lashed to one of the supports, some aluminum tape shiny bits here and there, etc.

The wrench took some modifying so that it didn’t interfere with the rods.

Action shot!

I fashioned the pressure lines out of a length of braided clothesline that Anna was kind enough to thread over a piece of wire (she has a lot more patience than I do) and then painted silver, and a piece of aquarium tubing that I inserted a piece of green weedeater line into.  This looked pretty good until it was under a black light, then it looked amazing.  These were glued into the appropriate places underneath patches of craft foam.  I also painted some light weathering in various places, grease spots, etc.

We then fashioned the harness out of a few belts from Goodwill.  It’s basically a strap that goes up the front of her arm and crosses over her shoulder to her back, and fastens to a belt she wears right under, ah, right at the top of her waist.  The other strap goes up the back of her arm, over her shoulder to the front, and attaches to the same belt at her right side.  Once we got everything situated we marked where they crossed (at the shoulder, the right side in front, and the right side in back) and fastened them with rapid rivets.  The “pressure lines” where then lashed together with some fine wire in a few places, and then attached to the back strap all the way up to her shoulder.  If we decide to do a full-on Furiosa costume, we’ll add the shoulder pad and stuff at a later date.

So anyway, here’s how the costumes turned out… I’m pretty stoked at how great it all came together, and we won a couple of costume contests, which is super exciting :D

I’m also happy to report that it was functional, which is very important when it comes to an adult Halloween costume.
Oh, right… I promised that aftermath photo.  Here’s what was left of that oil pan and lamp reflector when it was all finished.

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