Box o’ Birds

boxbirds2

There is a woman up north, in New Hampshire to be exact, who is about to pop.

She’s tall and slender, so at this point, as she patiently awaits the arrival of child #3, she probably looks like a lollipop– long, thin legs and a very round belly on top.

Her due date is not far off, which means the phone calls will start. If you’ve ever been pregnant and made it to your due date, you know what I’m talking about. When folks call up and say, “Did you have the baby yet?” or “How are you feeling?” Both my kids were late, so I got a lot of these phone calls. I had the urge to be sarcastic: “Yeah, I had the baby three weeks ago and just didn’t tell you” or “Hey, strap on a 30 pounds cat food and tell me how you feel.” But I was never that rude, even though I secretly wanted to be.

So rather than call with inane questions, I decided to send her a box of birds. She loves these birds (as do I!). I sewed up all colors and patterns, stuck ’em in a box and mailed them north. Hopefully a box of birds will bring a little sanctuary to the days of waiting for baby while chasing around two other little ones.

boxbirds1

Who would you send a box of birds to?

But wait…there’s more for me to give away! That’s right, it’s April 1, and I have some prizes to give away from the March Happy Birthday Giveaway!

Thanks to all who left comments over the last month. I wish I could send all of you prizes! But the random number generator picked #2 and #12. The lucky winners are…

Gina will be getting the adjustable horse hair bracelet and…

Kristi will get the art journal.

Congrats, ladies. Your prizes will be in the mail shortly!

Work of Art

The outside of the journal cover featuring bird and cherry tree silhouettes.

The outside of the journal cover featuring bird and cherry tree silhouettes.

Ever make something so gorgeous, so just beyond the skills you know that you don’t want to give it away?

Here it is! A new journal cover made with Japanese import bird fabric and Amy Butler prints from the Belle and Lotus collections. I’m so excited with how it turned out.

The inside of the journal cover.

The inside of the journal cover.

Over the weekend my friend bestowed this journal cover on her sister as a birthday gift. I told her if she doesn’t like it, to give it back because I’d keepin’ it!

The sister had requested this a bit ago and asked for a zipper closure rather than the loop or Velcro I’d been using. In my mind putting it a zipper was INCREDIBLY hard. So I put it off.

My first zipper!

My first zipper!

As the deadline approached, I finally fished out my sewing machine manual. And I fished out the zipper foot. Who knew I even owned such an animal?

And guess what? It wasn’t hard at all. In fact, I figured out how to sandwich one side of the zipper inside the seam and the other side of the zipper in a flap of fabric.

Along the way, I discovered the other sewing machine feet that I never used and all the cool things I can do with my sewing machine. Part of my machine slids off to sew sleeves! And I can drop the feet for darning and freehand sewing!

Now my sewing machine manual, along with Amy Karol’s Bend the Rules Sewing are by my nightstand for before-bed reading. I’m so excited by all the techniques I can try with my sewing machine. If only I’d read the manual when I got the sewing machine 13 years ago!

But back to the birdie journal cover…

Velcro allows you to keep the top open and slide in a side-fold journal or keep the side closed and slide in a top-fold journal.

Secure the Velcro along the side and you can slide in a top-fold journal.

Attach the Velcro along the top and you can slide in a side-fold journal.

Attach the Velcro along the top and you can slide in a side-fold journal.

Not only does it have a zipper closure, but I used Velcro to develop a pocket that accommodates both top- and side-fold journals or art pads. I have another idea to improve upon this, but that’s for the next batch of art journals.

A little fancing stitching on the business card and sticky-note pockets.

A little fancy stitching on the business card and sticky-note pockets.

My friend’s sister also requested a business card pocket. I included another pocket below it and a pen and pencil pocket.

I’m secretly hoping the receiver of this gift doesn’t like it so I can keep it. But apparently my friend might snag it first. I guess I’d better get back in the sewing room and make a few more.

********Only 3 more days to leave a comment so you can be entered in the drawing for great prizes from Red-Tail Designs! ***********

Wrapping Paper Beads

My little holiday gift to you: an idea for all that post-holiday wrapping paper you’ve accumulated.

Supplies

  • Wrapping paper, catalogs or any colorful paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue, such as Elmers
  • Wooden skewer, or other thin rod

Directions:

1. Flatten the wrapping paper and cut out a long skinny isosceles (equal on two sides) triangle.

2. Place the design-side of the paper on the table and fold the widest end of the triangle back on itself about 1/4 inch.

3. Roll the paper around the skewer, beginning at the shortest side of the triangle and ending at the point of the triangle. Don’t let go or the whole thing will unravel.

4. Place a dab of glue at the point on the wrong side of the paper and press firmly to the rest of the paper. Your first bead! Carefully slide the bead off the skewer and allow it to dry.

5. Repeat with more paper until you have enough beads to make a bracelet, a necklace, a skirt, curtains for every window in your house.

Not only can you have fun, you can get your geometry in the for the day. Experiment with different widths and lengths of triangles to see how the beads turn out.

If you don’t manage to make all your wrapping paper into beads, see if you can recycle it at your local recycling center.

Happy Holidays!

Off to the Snail Races!

Aren’t these the happiest snails you’ve ever seen? When I saw this pattern for snail races a month ago, I knew this was the perfect gift for my nephew’s first birthday. It’s so cute!

The snails are made from the same sweater I used for the handwarmers. I think i have just enough sweater left to make my 2-year-old a snail racing game, too.

I made a few modifications to the game.

The snails advance on the racetrack by color rather than number, using a big colored dice I “borrowed” from another game. The color blocks on the racetrack are 13″ by 4 1/2″ pieces of fabric, stitched together and surrounded by blue bias tape.

The top of the racetrack is open so the snails can nestle inside for storage. I stitched between the green and yellow color blocks so the kids can’t shove the snails all the way to the bottom.

Snails going to bed.

Snails going to bed.

Snaps (yeah for Melody’s new snap setter!) keep them snug.

Snapping the snails into bed. Yet another 30 minutes of entertainment for the kids beyond the gameplaying!

Snapping the snails into bed. Yet another 30 minutes of entertainment for the kids beyond the gameplaying!

Snug as snails in a racetrack.

Snug as snails in a racetrack.

Craft Your Turkey: Bone Whistle

A turkey bone whistle

A turkey bone whistle

You’re rolling around on the floor, stuffed full of turkey and cranberry sauce and you can’t help but wonder: What do I do with that turkey carcass? (If your dog didn’t devour it while you were distracted by football. My dog ate an entire rotisserie chicken last week. He was just practicing for Thanksgiving.)

Sure there’s the usual: Snap the wishbone and hope your dreams come true or make soup stock.

If you want something more lasting, make a turkey wing bone whistle. That’s right, get all the relatives back at the table and make whistles.

All cultures around the world have made whistles and flutes from bird bones. Native American Indians played eagle bone whistles to signify bravery, and early Americans called in turkeys while hunting. You can find out more about bird whistles these sites.

Alaska Native Knowledge Network

Lewis & Clark: Gifts of the Mandan

History of Whistles

To get started on your turkey bone whistle, you need:

  • turkey wing(s)
  • saw or sharp scissors
  • pipecleaner or other wire
  • sand paper
  • Elmer’s glue

Warning: This project does not work with Thanksgiving Tofurkey.

1. Harvest the wing(s) from the turkey carcass. One wing makes one whistle. Do not wrestle dog for the wings, as you may get hurt. Boil the wing bones to loosen meat. You should find you have 2 bones (1 large, 1 medium-size) that are connected by ligaments and 2 smaller bones that are fused into a single bone. Keep the large and medium bones and dispose of the rest.

2. Scrape off as much meat as possible with a knife.

A pipe cleaner works well removing the marrow.

A pipe cleaner works well removing the marrow.

3. Using a saw or sharp scissors, cut the ends off of the bones, to expose the pith and marrow inside. Using the pipecleaner, knife or other sharp object, clean out as much marrow and boney webbing inside as possible.

My dog, trying to "help."

My dog, trying to "help."

4. Boil again. Scrape the outside of the bones again and run the pipecleaner through the bones to remove the last bits of marrow. The bones will be somewhat transparent when they are wet, and you can see where the marrow still remains.

The flat end of the small bone goes into the large bone.

The flat end of the small bone goes into the large bone.

5. The smaller of the two bones will have a very rounded end and an almost flat end. Insert the flat end of the small bone into the smallest end of large bone. If the bone doesn’t slide in, sand until the small bone fits inside the big bone. Don’t take off too much.

6. Put glue into the joint of the two bones and let dry.

7. Embellish the whistle with permanent marker.

8. You’re ready to call turkeys! Place the smallest end of the whistle between your lips, sightly off center. Purse your lips around the bone and suck in, like you’re kissing. You sound like a turkey! Even more than usual.

One year as a gift, I made a turkey bone whistle from a wild turkey my father harvested for our Thanksgiving. I drew the turkey tracks on the whistle with permanent marker and added copper ring and leather carrying strap.

I made a 3-part turkey bone whistle for my dad.

I made a 3-part turkey bone whistle for my dad.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Handwarmers

Last Christmas my mother-in-law crocheted me a pair of handwarmers, or fingerless gloves. They’re perfect for this transitional season when it’s too cold to go gloveless and not cold enough for the whole mitten.

I needed an extra set to keep in my car when I forgot my favorite pair. Alas, mom-in-law has been on a sock-knitting frenzy. Not wanting to mess with her heel-toe mojo, I decided to make a pair of handwarmers myself out of a fulled sweater sleeve.

So here’s the tutorial on the sweater-sleeve hand warmers I promised. I’ve been using these a lot, and they’re so cozy!

1. Full an old wool sweater. Find a fun wool sweater in the depths of your closet or at a local thrift store. I got my sweater for $7 at the Quakertown, PA,  Salvation Army. (Awesome thrift store, by the way. It’s HUGE.) Run the sweater through the washer and dryer with other clothes, preferable on hot to shrink and full the sweater.

2. Cut the sleeves off. I thought the stripes were funky and decided to go with whole-arm-warmers. These reach to my elbows, so I cut them to a length of 15 inches.

3. Cut holes for your thumbs. The cuff of the sleeve is the top of the handwarmer, by your fingers. Measure 2 inches below the top of the cuff. Cut a hole 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch, through both layers of fabric. The 2 inches allows me to fold them down a bit when I need more dexterity and fold the cuff up to my knuckles when I need the warmth.

4. Machine sew around all the cut edges.

5. Blanket stitch with yarn around all the cut edge. Blanket stitching entails putting the needle through the fabric, then taking the needle back through the loop you just made before pulling tight. Repeat, repeat, repeat…

6. Be cozy!

Recent Projects

Some projects I’ve been working on:
I shipped this bracelet off to its owner this week. The first project completed from the recent batch of horse hair the mailman brought me.
 
This custom horse hair bracelet includes sterling silver star beads. They really make the bracelet glow.

This custom horse hair bracelet includes sterling silver star beads. They really make the bracelet glow.

 More birds! I finally got a decent picture of the bird mobile. I have about 5 more birds flying around here that I’m going to make into a mobile for me. 

The bird mobile for a baby shower last weekend.

A bird mobile for a baby shower last weekend.

In addition to the mobile, the babies (yes, babies) have some snazzy homemade bibs. The farm and bug flannels mix it up a bit.

Bibs for the babies, too.

Bibs for the babies, too.

The babies’ dad is a big Yankees fan. I cut the Yanks logo out of the main fabric then stitched around it. For the future: a Yankees baseball. 

These bibs were more for the dad than the kids!

These bibs were more for the dad than the kids!

These handwarmers should come in handy (ha!) this weekend at the powwow. The weatherman says it will barely reach the 60s. That’s going to feel cold after these last few sunny days. Next week I plan to post a tutorial on how to make these handsocks out of a felted sweater.

Stripe-edy handwarmers I whipped up this week.

Stripe-edy handwarmers I whipped up this week.

 

 Hope to see you this weekend at the powwow. I’m off to dig some warm sweaters and long johns out of the closet to supplement the handwarmers. Enjoy the fall weather!

Fall Fun

Guide to the fall hotspots in the neighborhood

Guide to the fall hotspots in the neighborhood

I always thought of myself as a packrat, but maybe I’m really part squirrel. This realization came today as I weaved through the streets of our town showing three kids where all the “good trees” are, those dumping acorns and beech nuts and colored leaves.

Swirly squirrely mask.

Swirly squirrely mask.

Autumn is here. So says the calendar today. So said my mom yesterday. “A fall party,” was my 5-year-old’s answer to celebrating the beginning of fall. Did I really expect a different answer from her?

By this morning she’d concocted grand plans of 5 friends, handmade invites, decorations wafting from the ceiling and treats. All to be accomplished in the 4 hours before school.

I was thinking more along the lines of collecting colorful leaves for this craft.

When her Monday Morning comrade arrived we took to the neighborhood streets, my memory of nuts guiding us to the beechnuts and acorns, hemlock cones and chestnuts. Honestly, it’s amazing we have such variety here in little ol’ Easton.

Back at home they ate walnuts and pecans for a snack (like squirrels) and started the craft. The 5-year-olds loved cutting the spirals and the fall streamers slowly devolved into masks, many of them squirrel masks. Moms know how deviating from the craft is both endearing and infuriating at the same time…after I got out all the supplies for the craft we were supposed to do. But I’ll save that rant for another day.

Two 5-year-olds with screwdrivers make short work of my chair.

Two 5-year-olds with screwdrivers make short work of my chair.

We had some time to kill before going to school, so I gave the two 5-year-olds screwdrivers and told them to take apart a chair that had seen its better days. The only thing the chair had to do with autumn was that it was fall-ing apart. They thought the joke was funny.

My plans of celebrating fall with a cute craft ended in me making one fall spiral. I like it. I think they had more fun taking the chair apart (after removing screws, I let them bust it apart with a rubber mallet). Maybe tomorrow I can convince my kids to glue leaves and nuts to another spiral. Or maybe we’ll just destroy another chair.

Come to think of it, the plumber’s coming tomorrow to bust up the basement and make the sump pump hole bigger. Maybe the kids can get in on some sledge hammer action.

Happy autumn!

My (rather pathetic) fall swirly streamer.

My (rather pathetic) fall swirly streamer.

Canning Jar Bling

Sparkle and shine from canning jar rims.

Sparkle and shine from canning jar rims.

My canning jars needed an upgrade. They’re hand-me-downs from my mom, so after years of pickles and preserves, it was time for new rims. But what to do with the old rims?

Turn them into dress-up bling!

They have all the necessary ingredients for 5-year-old jewelry bliss: jangly noises when worn together, shiny metallics, and sparkly beads.

My helper got creative and wove wire in and out of the holes, string beads along the way.

My helper got creative with the bracelet at the upper left. She wove wire in and out of the holes, string beads along the way.

Here’s how my 5-year-old and I made old canning jar rims into fun new bangles.

Supplies

  • old canning jar rims
  • block of wood
  • safety goggles
  • hammer
  • center punch
  • pliers
  • metal file
  • non-toxic spray paint
  • latex gloves
  • newspaper
  • Postion the center punch on the inside of the rim.

    Position the center punch on the inside of the rim.

  • screwdriver (for removing spray paint cap)
  • beading or craft wire
  • round nose pliers
  • beads
  • messy workbench (optional)

1. Place the side of the rim on the block of wood. Position the center punch where you’d like the hole and hit with hammer until you punch through the rim. Punch hole from inside to outside of rim. If a smidgen of metal remains in the hole, pull it off with a pliers.

2. After you’ve made as many holes as you’d like, file each hole with a metal file to remove sharp edges.

Filing the burrs.

Filing the burrs.

3. Spread newspaper in well ventilated area, don latex gloves and spray paint inside and outside of each rim. We used gold and silver and gave each band two coats.

4. After the paint has dried, add beads. Cut a 2 inch piece of wire. Grab the end of the wire with a round nose pliers and roll the pliers make several loops in a row. Thread wire through hole in rim, so the loop is on the inside.

5. Thread bead(s) onto wire. Cut excess wire so you have 1/4 to 1/2 inch of wire above beads. Grab the end of the wire with a round nose pliers and roll the pliers back toward the wire to make a series of small loops.

Little spirals of wire hold the beads in place.

Little spirals of wire hold the beads in place.

6. Although you are finished, allow the bracelet to cure for 7 days to a month so that the paints are non-toxic to the skin. Rust-oleum said its spray paint is nontoxic within 7 days. Krylon suggested waiting 30 days for paint to cure fully to a non-toxic state. If you’re not sure, call the manufacturer.

Safety and other notes

  • Always wear eye protection when hammering, filing and spray painting.
  • Be sure the paint you use can be worn against the skin and that it does not contain lead.  If you’re unsure, call the manufacturer. I used Krylon silver crafter’s paint and Rust-oleum metallic paint.
  • Spray paint can be removed from your forehead with nail polish remover.

Catching Up

Spots of beads here and there add some zing to this fabric folder o' thank you cards.

A spot of beads here, a few stitches there.

These last few weeks I’ve been trying to catch up and finish projects I started long ago. Of course, before I did that I had to put together this birthday gift for Melody.

I was trying for a mosaic effect here. Whether I accomplished it or not, it's still looks neat.

I was trying for a mosaic effect here. Whether I accomplished it or not, it's still looks neat.

Couldn't help but highlight the bright, buttery of these flowers.

Couldn't help but highlight the bright, buttery tones of these flowers.

These bicolored teardrops were a great find at My Father's Beads. I couldn't pass them up, even though I had no idea what to do with them. Their time has come.

These bicolored teardrops were a great find at My Father's Beads. I couldn't pass them up, even though I had no idea what to do with them. Their time has come.

When we saw the gratitude wrap, Melody pointed out that it was the adult version of the art sketch books I make for kids. I like the idea of having a stash of cards that I can write on the go and not worry about mangling them in the depths of my purse.

I made my own pattern for this (as I do most of my projects) so that three quarter-yards of fabric will yield two card wraps. Cut two quarter-yards of fabric in half and you have the inside and outside for two books. The third quarter-yard allows for pockets and a little left over. (There’s fusible fleece sandwiched between the inside and outside, too.) Little measuring, less cutting, more time for embellishing.

Embellishing was the fun part. This Amy Butler Burgundy gothic rose print just cried out for some beads.

The final product outside...

The final product outside...

...and inside.

...and inside.

Inside, the pockets and liner are from Portabello Pixie’s Farmer’s Market line of fabrics. Maybe I’ll finish the second card wrap this week for another birthday.

I did actually finish some projects though…

Curtains for my 5-year-old’s room. I’ve had this fabric sitting in my studio for oh, about 2 years. Finally I got to stitching it up.

I envision some pink beads hanging from the green tiebacks. Yet more embellishing to do!

I envision some pink beads hanging from the green tiebacks. Yet more embellishing to do!

Cutting and sewing with really big pieces of fabric makes me nervous. What if I cut it wrong? What if it’s not the right length? What if it turns into a horrificially difficult project like my living room curtains? What if the bottoms don’t line up when I hang them? Plenty of worries to put off a project for 2 years.

Turns out, they were long enough to fit inside the windows (think tension rod), but not quite long enough to hang from a curtain rod. I added the green satin at the bottom, and love it. It makes the room glow in the morning sun.

I also whipped up an artist book for a recent birthday party. Four hours before the party I was adding the felt flower. Better late than never!

And I finally finished some gourds we’ve been working on (I’ll post a tutorial on those another day).

So I’m all done, right? Not a chance. I have at least 10 new projects in the works, or at least stewing in my head. Here’s a sneak peek at one…

What do you think this is going to be?

What do you think this is going to be?