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Pre-camp Crafting

We moved out of our house and into our camp last weekend while some major renovations are done to our kitchen, bathroom, laundry room and sunroom. And while my commute is now more than five times as long (OK, it’s only jumped from 6 minutes to 35 minutes), I do love coming home to this view:


(Not that we’re swimming quite yet. It’s still pretty cold. We’ve been using the wood stove at night. And we have all three of our cats with us in a one-room cabin, and one of them has already figured out how to climb up the ladder to Parker’s sleep loft to wake him up in the middle of the night. But I really can’t complain about having a beautiful cabin and eventually, a beautiful new kitchen at home!)

The move also means that I had to think about what craft projects I needed to accomplish before the move, since I left behind my sewing machine and nearly all other supplies. (I did bring my knitting, and I’m actually taking an online painting class this summer, so I’ll still be fairly creative!) That made for a hectic few weeks before the move, but the upshot is I finished a few things quite early!

For example, I knew I did not have time to make gifts for Parker’s teachers, but I did find a cute idea for wrapping up a gift card HERE. So I have two of these all ready to go. (Oops, now I see I forgot to make a little gift tag for the present, but I still have time to add that).



And I made a stenciled t-shirt for my best friend’s son, who is a big Harry Potter fan. I can’t remember where I originally saw this idea of taking the key words from each of the book titles, but I tweaked it a bit, almost accidentally. I used my Silhoutte machine to cut a stencil out of Con-Tact paper, and while I was trying to figure out what colors to paint each word, I realized that the recipient’s name _ Cade _ was right there among the letters!

I was a bit impatient, and for some reason my colored textile paint was much thinner than the white, so the colored letters did not come out as crisply as I would have liked.


Giveaway Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway. I now have lots of great ideas for refreshing summer drinks!

The winner is Karen B., who said people think she’s weird for drinking watered down orange juice, but I actually also enjoy orange juice mixed with seltzer water :)


Giveaway Day

Welcome to my giveaway! For first-time visitors, I am a reporter for The Associated Press by day, crafter by night. This blog has been a bit neglected as of late because we are getting ready for a home renovation project that requires us to move out for a few months, starting Saturday! But in the midst of packing, I did find some time to make a few goodies for Sew, Mama, Sew!’s giveaway day.

I am offering a set of colorful coasters I made using the Modern Geometric Table Runner & Coaster pattern featured earlier this month at Sew, Mama, Sew!, and a set of notecards I made using photographs I have taken. The winner will get the coasters and his/her choice of notecard sets, either the “Color Collection,” or “Granite State Seasons.” (I personally like the “Seasons” set better, but I can see how that might not have broad appeal beyond New Hampshire/New England!















For a chance to win, just leave a comment, including which notecard set you would pick.  If you are feeling chatty, tell me about your favorite summer beverage.

I will close comments at 10 p.m. EST Friday, and will announce the winner Saturday. I will ship internationally.

Please check out all the other great giveaways by clicking the image below:


Spring Chicks



I once again thwarted my own efforts to avoid buying new craft supplies in order to make these adorable chicks! I could not resist, so I purchased a bundle of wool-blend felt sheets from an Etsy shop called Felt the Love. (It was a happy surprise to realize when I received my package that she is also located here in New Hampshire!)

You can find the pattern and instructions for making these chicks at Myrtle & Eunice. I found making the legs a bit challenging, but that clearly did not stop me from making a whole flock!





Seeing Green

My son is obsessed with Minecraft, which means I spend a lot of time trying very hard not to appear utterly bored when he wants to talk and talk and talk about it ALL THE TIME. But when he got invited to a birthday party for a girl he may or may not have a crush on, and he told me she also loves Minecraft, I was happy to make her a Minecraft-related gift.


(Creeper graphic by Danixolider on deviantART)
I quickly came upon this tutorial for a plush Creeper on Instead of fleece, I used some kind of “cuddle” fabric from Jo-Ann’s. (Going against my pledge to avoid buying new craft supplies. But I used a coupon, so we’re talking maybe $2 worth of fabric). Before cutting out the pieces, I ironed very light-weight fusible interfacing to the back of the fabric which made it easier to cut and sew because it added a bit of stability. Still, there are bits of green fur all over my craft room …
Unlike the tutorial, I also sewed everything by machine instead of by hand, except the last bits of closing up the openings after stuffing. And I used felt shapes ironed on with fusible webbing to make the face.

Here’s a little tip that I figured out for the first time, even though I’ve had my sewing machine for about a decade. Because this project involved sewing basically a bunch of cubes, I wanted to start and stop sewing 1/4 inch from the ends of each piece. Duh! There are markings on my sewing machine foot that make it very easy to do just that. For years, I’ve just been sort of eye-balling it, when all along there were these handy little guides.



I also was able this week to cross another project off my list: the long lingering “Passport Jacket,” one of several Sew Lisette patterns I purchased back in 2010.

I intended for this to go with the dress I made, but now that it’s done, I don’t like how it looks with the shape of the dress. I think something with a fitted skirt looks better, and I like how it looks with jeans.

This jacket is probably the most complicated garment I’ve ever made, and it was mostly trouble-free, except the facing along the back of the collar is all bunched up for some reason, even though I unpicked it and sewed it twice. And I got all the way to the last step, hemming the sleeves, when I accidentally cut where I meant to fold, so the sleeve hem is tiny.

Overall, I think I  like it, though I can’t tell whether it is supposed to stay closed with one button or swing open … it tends to swing open a bit.


Use it or Lose it, American Girl Doll-style

While I really like having the opportunity to make gifts for little girls, I must admit, I find sewing doll clothes _ particularly tops _ very frustrating, what with all the tiny sleeves and hems, etc. But in making my latest batch (birthday gifts for my best friend’s 7-year-old daughter),  I found some easy workarounds.


Knitting a sweater, even a doll-sized one, is not a quick project (at least for a relatively new knitter like me), but it was mostly stress free, considering it is the first sweater like this I’ve ever made. (Much easier than the cardigan I made for my niece, because this one has no seams, it’s all one piece).The free pattern can be found at Sophia’s Sundries HERE.

The matching headband was super easy and quick, thanks to a tutorial I found HERE.



The skirts involve a very clever repurposing of a pattern I already had, for a hat! I saw this idea on an Oliver + S blog post by Rachel at Nest Full of Eggs. Her version uses bias tape around the edges, but I decided to simplify it a bit by just sewing the skirt and lining together right-sides-together, leaving an opening for turning, and then turning it right-side-out.

Very quickly I had two reversible skirts!




I didn’t have any purple fabric to make a skirt that actually matches the sweater, but I was trying to stick to my pledge to “use it or lose it” and not buy new craft supplies. In fact, the animal print fabric is left over from a baby quilt I made for a girl who just turned 13!

Here’s a peek at where the other fabrics/supplies originally came from.

The purple yarn is leftover from the monster I made for my niece.

The pink satin fabric and the hair elastics I used for the head bands are leftover from the fabric flowers I made for my cousin’s daughters in 2010.

And the denim fabric is leftover from the tote bags I also made in 2010. They were so easy, I should make some more.

Skip To My Lou

Free Printable Valentines

With Valentine’s Day falling during the Winter Games this year, I thought it would be cute to come up with an Olympics-themed Valentine. But what can I say? My son is more crafty than athletic (Gee, wonder where he gets that …) and he decided he’d rather make his classmates rubber band bracelets instead. But I developed my Olympics idea anyway, and wrote about both ideas for my latest AP craft story. You can read it HERE, but know that news links often expire quickly, so if the link doesn’t work, just google my name and valentines.




Parker was happy to eat the chocolate  ”gold medal” I used for this photo, but he was determined to stick with the bracelet idea, and has made about 15 so far. He has informed however, that he will not be writing “LOVE, Parker” on any of the cards.

You can download the cards here:






Valentines Through the Years

I have two new Valentine ideas to share, but I have to wait til next week, when an article I wrote for AP is published. In the meantime, here’s a roundup of all my past Valentine projects all in one place. I don’t think I’ll ever top the light saber Valentines from two years ago!

Click on the pictures to go to the posts:

Valentine Tissue Cozies



Embroidered Valentine

Valentine Pocket Warmers

Lego Star Wars Valentines


Light Saber Valentines

Light Saber Valentines

Scratch Ticket Valentines




Finish First-Update #1

I am making a bit of progress on my unfinished projects! (Which is the upbeat way of saying, “I finally delivered these Christmas gifts nearly a month late!”)

It took only a few minutes to finish these “Snowball buddies,” so I really had no excuse for procrastinating. Though they are designed to be Christmas ornaments, they were belated gifts to two of my cousin’s daughters, so I attached little clips on them and thought maybe they could attach them to their backpacks. And that is exactly what the girls thought of when they opened them, so that was a relief!



For my cousin’s other two daughters, I made some polymer clay earrings. These were so easy, I’m going to make some for myself as well. I used two tutorials: the Geometric Clay Earrings tutorial at Rays of Purple and the Polymer Clay Geometric Dome Earstud tutorial at The Creative Muslimah. For the faceted earrings, I mixed translucent clay with colored clay, except for the gold pair. For those, I used white clay and painted them gold later. I also tried another tutorial that involved coating round balls of clay with tiny glass beads, but that one didn’t work very well. What a mess.

I used my Silhouette machine to make the earring cards and to cut their names out of card stock to decorate the little tins I put the earrings in.



And for their little brother, I made this cute fleece knight helmet/hat. Parker would’ve loved this when he was little! I only had light gray fleece, but I really like the original at Wine & Glue, where I got the free pattern.


Here’s the adorable recipient, all decked out in his knight accessories:


And finally, something for me, and something to cross off my unfinished project list! Here are my new mittens, after a trip through the washer and dryer to soften them up and shrink them a bit. The wool felted a bit in some spots but I think that just makes them more durable.


Finish First



The problem with being all smug about making Christmas gifts in part to avoid crowded stores/malls is that you can then find yourself in a panic at 10:30 p.m. Christmas Eve still racing to finish say … a stuffed Perry the Platypus …. and then almost dissolving into tears when you accidentally cut a hole for an arm in the back of the head.


My decision to make a stuffed platypus for Parker was made rather late … and even though Perry should not be hard (he’s basically a rectangular box with legs), I’m not very good at engineering arms and legs from scratch. I thought I had figured it out, but I had already sewn part of the body together when I tried to cut a hole for the legs. And ended up cutting along the back/head instead of the belly. Oops. So, in a move that was very unlike me, I walked away.

It did make me a little sad not to have something homemade and special for Parker under the tree, though I did make him a Minecraft shirt which he seemed to like. And honestly, we splurged big time on the Legos this year, and he was thrilled. So I will finish Perry soon, and maybe make him a Valentine’s Day gift.


So, that’s a long intro into my New Year’s crafting resolution, which is FINISH FIRST. (as in, finish old projects first, before starting new projects)

Last year, my crafting resolution was USE IT OR LOSE IT, and I think I did pretty well using up fabric and other supplies rather than shopping for new. And I uncovered and re-organized so many long forgotten supplies when I moved my craft room into a new space this fall. But before I dive into those, I’m determined to finish up all the lingering projects. And to keep track and hold myself accountable, I pulled them all out and photographed them so I can post them here.

First, a few knitting projects.

These mittens are a combination of several patterns. I wanted something dense and warm, but with a way to use my fingers if needed. (Part of my AP job involves shooting video, often of snowstorms this time of year, and I need my fingers to operate the camera!)  I started these back in March and ran out of yarn when I was 90 percent done. I just need to add the ribbing along the finger opening on one mitten.



I did manage to finish one of these adorable Snowball Buddies, but I gave it away to my son’s friend before taking a picture. But I have two more to finish. Still deciding whether the earless one should be a cat or another mouse.



In other holiday decor, I’m embarassed to admit that I think this next unfinished project dates back to 2009! At least, that’s when I wrote a tutorial for making a simple half-circle bunting for Thanksgiving. I think I made a Halloween version for my sister, who has an annual pumpkin-carving party, and had a bunch of circles left over. And I had some vague plan to make a few different versions for other holidays and give them all to a friend for Christmas, or maybe her birthday. But maybe I’ll just finish this one and keep it for myself.



One of my other long-lingering projects is the Passport Jacket from the Sew Lisette pattern collection. I made the dress way back in June 2011, and part of the jacket, then ran out of fabric for the sleeves. I bought more fabric, and then it sat in a box for more than two years! Time to get it done!



One of my major “use it or lose it” projects was a postage stamp quilt that took care of a big chunk of my random scraps of fabric. I’ve made all the squares, and have sewn most of them together, but still have to add the last row, I think, and then do the backing and quilting.


I also want to turn this curtain into a quilt. I originally made this to cover up the opening to a storage/loft space at our summer cabin, but we’ve since opened up that space and turned it into a sleeping loft for Parker. You can see a bit of it in the picture below, behind the rafters. I’m not sure if I have any more solid fabric to make more pinwheels, or if I’ll just figure out a way to add borders to make it a quilt.




And speaking of curtains, as we continue switching rooms around ahead of our major kitchen renovation next summer, I’m replacing the really old, worn out curtains in our former dining room, now family room/playroom. I don’t think I’ll keep these permanently because I want to paint that room, but I bought some very cheap gray IKEA curtains in October and need to hem them. I’ve finished one pair but need to do three more.


I also have all the supplies to make some birch bark candle holders. I made a few for an AP craft project in June 2012, but I later saw these pretty faux birch candles in the Pottery Barn catalog, and wanted to try replicating the look by gluing tiny beads onto real birch bark. I have the bark, I have glass candle holders and candles, and I have the beads. This should take half an hour, tops, but I haven’t gotten around to doing it, and now another Christmas has gone by!


And here’s yet another project I intended to make as a Christmas gift, possibly for one of my cousin’s daughters and never finished. It was so long ago that it appears the site where I purchased cutting files for my Silhouette machine no longer exists, but I found a free version here. Those files are for the larger Cameo machines that cut 12X12 paper, so I had to split up one piece to cut it on smaller paper, I think, and then tape it back together. My idea was to make a bunch of little notecards and stickers, maybe some personalized stationery. Not sure I like how this particular box came out, but I still like the idea, and since I did purchase the files, I should make at least one at some point.





This next picture actually shows two finished projects, but I have the supplies to make two more. At least a year ago, I was looking for tutorials on making a lap pad/stand for an iPad or Kindle. I found this product, the Lap Log, and it looked so simple, basically a cylindrical pillow with a wooden insert to hold the device. What I liked about it is that you could remove the wooden insert and use the rest as a pillow, which could be very handy for traveling. I was sure I could make something similar for less money, and I got as far as buying a 5 lb. box of bucketwheat hulls for filling, but I couldn’t figure out what to use as the wooden piece. Then a few weeks ago I went back to the site and saw that they sell the wooden inserts for $8 each. So I bought four, and made two lap logs for Christmas gifts, and I have two left over. (Though probably only enough buckwheat to make one more pillow). I ended up making the pillow inserts out of plain cotton fabric, and then making covers with quilting cotton and fleece. They basically have a hemmed opening that stretches all the way across the pillow (anything smaller and it was too hard to get the pillow inside), with Velcro to close off a few inches on either side of the wooden  inserts.