Archive for ‘Craftiness’

March 1st, 2012

It’s Pinewood Derby time!

I love this time of the year. Not only do the days start getting longer and we actually see some signs that spring might be on the way, but it’s also the best time of the year for scouts. For Girl Scouts, that means cookies! For my Cub Scout, though, that means the Pinewood Derby!

We talk about ideas for his car all throughout the year, but he doesn’t usually settle on an idea until really close to the day of his pack’s derby. I know some families spend weeks working together on their son’s car, but we usually get it done in two or three afternoons and evenings of work. Alex’s car last year was a burrito on wheels and so, in keeping with the food theme, we happily present his car this year, “Sushi To Go!”

Pinewood Derby Car

We had so much fun making this car! Alex loves the Crayola Model Magic because it dries quickly so his creations can all become permanent pretty much over night. It’s also super lightweight when it dries, which makes it great for a derby car. The cars can only weigh 5 ounces at the most, and a good chunk of that is taken up by the wood base and wheels. He used the Model Magic to make the “rice” for the California rolls, the rice and salmon for the nigiri, and the wasabi. The carrots and cucumbers inside the rolls are match sticks with the ends chopped off and painted, and the seaweed around the rolls is scrapbooking paper we found at Michaels. I’m especially pleased with how the ginger turned out. He used a very pale pink velum paper, ripped it into pieces, and coated the pieces in glossy Mod Podge. They wanted to roll up like that when they were wet, so he went with it. I think the whole thing looks fabulous!

Pinewood Derby Car Prep

Alex won 4th place in the looks category at his pack’s derby and will get to compete at the district level! He’s SO excited! The car was pretty fast, too, but not fast enough to make the cut for districts. Either way, he’s proud of his car and that’s a very good thing. I’ll let you know how things turn out at the district event. There will be some tough competition there, I’m sure. I’ve already seen a pretty amazing Angry Birds car…

June 9th, 2010

Simple Pillowcases for the Small Set


I started making seasonal pillowcases for my older son a couple of years ago.  It was originally just a Christmas thing, but quickly became a good excuse for me to stockpile cute holiday themed fabric.  There aren’t a lot of holidays in the summer, so I made a few random and cute ones for those months.  I started with a simple pattern from somewhere, but I’ve changed it here and there over the years.  Alex has a standard pillow on his bed, but Declan still uses the toddler-size pillows so I modified the pattern for the smaller ones.  These are really simple to make and would make a great project for a beginner or as a project to work on with the kiddos.

The standard size makes a large case for the pillow, but I think that makes it easier for smaller hands that might have trouble putting a pillowcase on a pillow. Here’s what you’ll need to make the standard US pillowcase:

  • 1 yard of cotton fabric for main section – if you’re using a pattern that has a directional design, you will need more than one yard to get the correct size of the main section facing the right way.
  • 1/3 yard of coordinating cotton fabric for the cuff
  • coordinating (or contrasting, if you want) thread

Step 1

  • Wash and dry your fabric just as you will when the pillowcase is part of your normal laundry routine.  This will allow most of the shrinkage in the fabric to happen before you sew.  It’s always frustrating to me when my seams end up all wonky because I was in a hurry and skipped this step.
  • Press your washed fabric.

Step 2

  • Cut main fabric to measure 27″ x 41″ (most fabric comes off the bolt at 44/45″ wide)
  • Cut the cuff fabric to 10″ x 41″

Step 3

  • Press the cuff fabric in half lengthwise, wrong sides together.
  • Turn one long edge under 1/2″ and press

Step 4

  • Lay main fabric on a table, right side up.
  • Match the long raw edge of the cuff fabric (not the folded edge) with the long raw edge of the main fabric. Pin in place.
  • Sew these two layers together with a 5/8″ seam.

Step 5

  • Press the seam you just sewed toward the cuff side.
  • Fold the pillowcase in half, right sides together, and sew along the bottom and open side using a 1/2″ seam.
  • Trim your corners.

Step 6

  • Turn down the cuff so that the folded edge you pressed is on the inside of the pillowcase.
  • Pin in place and turn right-side out.
  • Stitch “in the ditch” (That’s just the area where the two fabrics come together). This should catch the folded edge on the inside and will look neater.

Step 7

  • Press the finished pillowcase and enjoy!

If any of this doesn’t make sense, please let me know.  I tried to write it out logically as I went along, but there may be something in there that I missed.  I’d love to see photos if you make some of your own!

December 27th, 2007

Pottery Love

There is an incredible potter in the town next to the one I grew up in. His name is Bill Campbell and he produces Campbell Pottery. His pieces are just beautiful. I also appreciate that they aren’t all just nice to look at – most are quite functional as well. For example, my mom’s everyday dishes are Campbell Pottery. Just eating your average pasta is a more beautiful experience because of those dishes.

I love to visit the studio and store, which are in an old house and barn that they have converted into an awesome space. You can see (and purchase) any number of Bill’s own pieces, but he also showcases the work of many other artists and craftsmen in his studio/store. When we visited in November, they had the most amazing miniature quilts available and I’ve been saving my pennies ever since!

We were also able to pick up a few new pieces at our November visit, thanks to the gifting generosity of some family and friends. The one below is my favorite, though my photos don’t even begin to do it justice. I’ll try to get some better photos of this one and the others and post those later.  Enjoy!



December 12th, 2007

Bless the Japanese

As a crafter, I am in awe of the crafty things produced by the Japanese – the fabric, the notions, the magazines and books, the fabric (did I say that one already?). All of these things provide me with endless ideas about how I can make my world a bit more beautiful with things made by my own hand. I’m not ashamed to say that – more often than not – the things made by my own hand only bear a passing resemblance to the original inspiration. I usually enjoy the creating as much as the creation, so it all works out. Usually.

One of the areas that I have been very reluctant to venture is to wool felting. I absolutely love the look of things appliqued with felted wool accents. At first I told myself my hesitation was because it is quite difficult to find wool felt around here. While that is still true, I have put together a list of online resources, so I can’t use that excuse anymore. When it really comes down to it, I think it’s because my artistic skills are seriously lacking. When it comes to drawing for embroidery or embellishment or whatever, if there’s a pattern, I’m all over it. If I have to do something free-hand, forget it. It will likely be completely unrecognizable. The good people at Clover, though, must know some other people like me.

That is a felting template, I think. I don’t read Japanese, but that’s what it looks like based on the photos. It will allow you felt that adorable hedgehog and the mushrooms, too, using the Clover felting tool and mat, along with the template thing.  Here’s one of the projects they suggest – just too cute!

The people at Clover are also very generous with their project ideas and patterns. Check out this page, which is continually updated with great stuff. Each of the Lessons has at least two projects, so it’s not just whatever they happen to have in the photo. My seasonal favorite is Lesson 42, which has an awesome wall tree and decorations. They are all in Japanese, of course, but the diagrams and illustrations make it all very easy to figure out.

Enjoy!  I’m going to try to find that template somewhere that ships to the US…

December 7th, 2007

Holiday Craftiness

I had some grand plans about holiday crafting this year. I was going to make some autumn-themed coasters for several family members to be delivered at Thanksgiving and thought I would make something handmade for everyone for Christmas. Oh, I was going to make entirely new decorations for the house, too. Uh-huh. Can I blame those crazy thoughts on pregnancy brain? We’ll go with that.

I started out well and had several projects cut out and ready to go when I got a call from my mom that one of my great-aunts had died unexpectedly. The three of us were planning to make the drive to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving, but Alex and I ended up making the trip about a week earlier than planned for the funeral. In the span of three days, I packed up everything we would need for the duration of the trip (including all fabrics, notions, and my sewing machine), drove 15 hours in one day to eastern Pennsylvania for my aunt’s funeral, and then drove 6 hours the next day to my mom’s house in western Pennsylvania, where we would be staying for the Thanksgiving holiday. Whew! That was quite a trip for a 4 year old and his 30 week pregnant mama! I’m glad we were able to be there for my uncle and family, though.

Since my family lives so far away, we alternate holidays between Pennsylvania and Alabama. Since this year was our Thanksgiving year, that also meant we were “doing Christmas” that week, too. I managed to get the Christmas gifts done for everyone, but had to drop my plans for the Thanksgiving gifts. Maybe next year. Using the awesome tutorial from Moonstitches, I made several owl garlands. Some were family names, but most were the basic (and short!) NOEL greeting. Sorry for the poor quality of the photo – natural light is limited these days and I never seem to remember to take photos during that 20 minutes of the day.


As part of the Christmas gift-giving this year, my grandmother got me some things I’ve been looking at for quite awhile. I’ve been waiting for them to go on clearance, but Target doesn’t seem to want to cooperate. Meet The Ducks.


I just love how the little ducks are all chatty, but the big one seems to have a look on her face that says, “These are *not* my children.” The little guys came decorated for the holidays, but I still think I need to supplement their wardrobes in some way.

There is still more crafting to be done before the actual Christmas holiday, so that’s my plan for today while Alex is at school. I guess I’d better get to it!

October 16th, 2007

Martha Stewart Clearance!

I stopped by our local Michael’s store today and was pleasantly surprised to see quite a few of the Martha Stewart Crafts items on clearance. I picked up a selection of notecards, but they had a wide variety of things marked down. It doesn’t look like anything has been reduced on the website, so it might vary by store. If anyone is looking for anything in particular, let me know and I’ll see if my store still has it. I hope this means they are making room for the Christmas stuff…

I also picked up these Animal Alphabet Cards for the new boy’s room. They weren’t on sale, but it was the first time I had actually seen them in stock so I snatched them up. I love the vintage look of them. Now that I have some decoration for the walls, we just need to get other things in there. Like furniture. At least the walls will look good, though!

October 2nd, 2007

Recent efforts

As promised, here’s a brief update of what’s been on my work table lately. First up was a scarf for me. I had to make mine first so that I would know how to make Alex’s correctly, you see. *cough* I was able to find a good home for my much coveted Heather Ross fabric and incorporate some rich corduroy fabric. I love when I can put favorites together.



Here is the one I’ve started for Alex. Coincidentally, it incorporates some of his favorite fabrics. These are most of the ones we absolutely could not leave the fabric store without. I still need to piece together the back and put it all together, but it’s still 85 degrees here every day, so I guess there isn’t a big hurry.


This one is my favorite. I got a plain hoodie for Alex at Target, but it just needed something extra. I originally thought I would just use a freezer paper stencil to put something on it, but Alex requested an alien and those are just hard to do in a stencil. Then I remembered the awesome book that Heather and Andy got for Alex. As the title states, it’s the true account of the War of the Worlds radio broadcast – in a kid’s version. The illustrations are great and the story is well told. Quite obviously, I was inspired by the cover model. (The one on the left, in case you couldn’t tell for sure…) It hasn’t been cool enough to wear it yet, but I hope Alex likes it. If not, I might have to make one for myself!



August 23rd, 2007

Some finished projects…believe it or not!

I haven’t been highly productive, but I have managed to get a few things finished and some photos taken. The first was an embroidery project from this book. I intended to finish it all in one day, so I used a disappearing ink pen to trace the design. Of course this did not happen. When I went back to stitch the second day (or was it the third?), I had to try to line up the design with what I had already stitched. That didn’t work out so well, but I think I’m okay with how it came out. I’ll use the washable ink next time, though. I added a border of some fabric scraps and threw it in an IKEA frame that I painted black. It’s hanging in the kitchen now.


The second project was a gift for Rod’s birthday last week. Alex made a drawing that I enlarged on the copy machine and made into a freezer paper stencil. It was a pain in the rear to cut it all out, but I’m really pleased with how well it came out. More importantly, Rod loves it and Alex smiles when he sees Rod wearing the shirt he “made.” Rod wore the shirt to a party with people he works with and they have all decided that they want shirts, too, so I need to find a better way to make that stencil…


August 18th, 2007

Christmas Craft Ideas

I’ve been searching the internet for some embroidery patterns of bees.  I haven’t found any that I’m in love yet, but I have found some other cool stuff.  Check out these projects from Clover.  They’re in Japanese, but they are just like a lot of those great craft books and you can figure them out.  I love the Little Red Riding Hood ornaments!  That wolf is too perfect!

August 6th, 2007

So I have this idea…

and I’m curious if anyone else might be interested. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, swaps are one of my favorite things. I also love all things surrounding Christmas – music, food, decorations, traditions – all of it. When Ali pointed out that Christmas is just around the corner, it stirred something in my mind. I thought it might be fun to organize a swap with other bloggers (and non-bloggers, too!) with a holiday theme. We could put together our favorite decorations, music, sweets, stories, and traditions – or whatever floats your boat – and exchange them with someone in another state or country. I’ve noticed Christmas stuff popping up in my local stores, so I guess it’s not too early to start thinking about this stuff…

Obviously I don’t have the fine details figured out yet, but if you think you might be interested, leave me a comment. I’ll leave it open for two weeks – until August 20th – and see how many people (if anyone) are interested. If there are enough people to give it a go, we’ll do it! Since I’m a slacker with keeping this blog updated, I know there aren’t a lot of people who keep up with me. If you do happen to still stop by here and think this could be a fun idea, feel free to mention it on your own site to get more folks interested. The more the merrier, right?

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