Thursday, September 26, 2013

Week 17: Print on Fabric

Ideas & Inspirations: Ever since I saw this DIY on Poppytalk's blog on how to Print Your Own Fabric, I wanted to give it a whirl! Not only did this project look easy to do, but it also required a very low cost investment, and that is so how I roll!

What I intend to do with said project: I have not decided what to make with my fabric once it is printed, but I'll add it to my fabric stash. Maybe it will end up being featured in a blog post down the road? Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Week 16: A Polkadot Apron Tutorial

I'm excited to finally show you my apron and show you how to make your own! I'm mostly settled into my new apartment now and am busy getting my new crafting area ready for some quality crafting time.

-0.5m navy polkadot fabric
-0.75m bright pink fabric for band & strap
-scrap polkadot fabric for pockets
-2.5m of lace

Step 1: Cut Apron Pieces

Here are the measurements I used (length x width):

Top or 'Bodice' = 10" x 13"
Bottom  or 'Skirt' = 18" x 22"
Waistband = 76" x 4" (I pieced several strips together to get this length) Cut 2!
Neck strap = 20" x 3"
Pockets = 5" x 6"Cut 2!

Step 2: Trim

Round the top corners of the bodice piece and the bottom corners of the skirt piece.

With RIGHT sides together, trim the ends of your waistband on a 45-degree angle.

Step 3: Attach Lace

With right sides together, sew lace around the top and sides of the bodice using a zigzag stitch (seam allowance will depend on the width of your lace). Press seam to the inside and topstitch the edge, making sure to catch the seam underneath - this will keep your lace laying flat. Repeat for the bottom and sides of the skirt.

Step 4: Gather

Using a running stitch, gather a few inches on the bottom of the bodice and the top of the skirt. Stitch in place.

Step 5: Sew Band Together

With right sides together, sew the waistband pieces together, leaving an opening at the top wide enough for the bodice (approx. 13") and an opening on the bottom wide enough for the skirt (approx. 20"). Use a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Flip right side out and press.

Step 6: Piece the Apron Together

With right sides together, attach the bodice to the top front piece of your waistband and the skirt to the bottom front waistband. Use a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Press seams toward waistband.

Flip your apron over to the backside, and there will be two openings where the bodice and skirt pieces meet the waistband. Press the opening of the waistband under 1/2 inch. Pin in place so that the front waistband and back waistband are lined up. Then top stitch the entire edge of the waistband - this will close up the openings that were on the reverse side of the apron.

Step 7: Sew the Neck Strap

Fold the neck strap in half lengthwise with right sides together and stitch it up. Flip right side out, press and topstitch. (Okay, so topstitching is not totally necessary, but I'm so much happier with the end result when I do it!)

Step 8: Make the Pockets
Trim the bottom corners of the pockets to round them out.

Make a pleat down the middle of the pocket. Play around with pleats (or gathering) until you are pleased with the result. I ended up with a 1" wide pleat at the top and a 5/8" wide pleat at the bottom. Stitch in place.

With right sides together, sew the lace to the top of each pocket. Press the seam to the inside and topstitch.

Step 9: Attach Strap and Pockets
Pin your strap to the back side of the apron bodice. It's a good idea to try it on at this point and adjust the angle (or length!) of the strap to fit properly. Sew in place and reinforce by adding a second row of stitches 1/8" to 1/4" above your first row.

To attach the pockets, press under 1/4" along the side and bottom edges. Pin them to the apron skirt (again, try it on and adjust as necessary), and topstitch in place.

And now you have an adorable apron to wear whilst making pies or whatever your baking vice may be!

What I enjoyed the most: I really enjoyed making this apron pattern up as I went along. I am a fairly methodical type of person and like processes to be well organized. So it was a good exercise for me to freestyle my cutting, and not know where to place my pockets or how to attach the waistband. I just had to figure it out and make mistakes.

Next time I would...Play around more with the shape and maybe try a less conventional style of apron. I've made aprons before with a similar shape to this one, so maybe I should try something new? I'm intrigued by vintage aprons that look more like dresses and there are a few aprons worn by the maids on Downton Abbey that make me envious!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Week 16: Make an Apron

Why I want to make this: An apron is a perfect example of something I have made plenty of times, but never for myself. (Hint: Aprons make great handmade wedding presents!) 

Ideas & Inspirations: What I love about an apron is that it's one of the few items of apparel where it seems more than acceptable to be frilly, girly, cutesy-wutesy, and even downright ridiculous. And I do plan to make one that meets all of this criteria!

What I intend to do with said project: Wear it and make a pie! Seriously, I have recently taken quite an interest in pie-making. All I wanna do is make pie and wear an adorable apron!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Week 15: Create A Bouquet of Paper Flowers

Keep summer alive all year with this paper flower bouquet! These were so easy to make -I'll definitely make them again!

I started playing around with a few different materials and was able to create the white carnation and yellow daisy on my own. For the blue roses and the red anemone, I found a couple of great tutorials: DIY Crepe Anemone by Craftberry Bush & Paper Flowers by Haute to Sew.

White Doily Carnation Tutorial:

  • 9 paper doilies
  • washi tape
  • craft wire
Step 1: Fold each doily in half 5 times. Don't be too fussy with your folding. The main purpose is to add texture and dimension.

Step 2: Unfold your doily & poke a small hole in the centre

Step 3: Tape one doily to your wire stem.

Step 4: Layer all doilies onto the wire stem. Poke the wire stem through each doily and slide them up to the top.

Step 5: Secure with washi tape. You can use floral tape also -I just couldn't get it to work for me! I chose to continue with the tape down the entire stem for a fun look.

What I enjoyed the most: I enjoyed creating and designing my own paper flowers. I let the materials I was working with (doilies and twist paper) inspire me and I was pleased with what I was able to come up with.

Next time I would... Invest in some new paper. I just went with what I had in my paper drawer and luckily the colours I had worked. But next time I would like to go to the craft store and carefully select the papers and colour palette I'd like to work with.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Week 15: Paper Flowers

Why I want to make this: This idea started when I was working full-time in a very beige, dull office space that was desperately in need of some colour. Even though I don't work in that space anymore, summer is whizzing by so fast (seriously, where did July go!?) and I figured I should capture the colours of summer to keep all year round!

Ideas & Inspirations: There are so many ideas and projects out there! I've started pinning some on Pinterest if you'd like to take a peak.

What I intend to do with said project: I'm hoping this will be a nice piece for the new place. Did I mention I was moving? Yeah, I've got a little basement suite I'll be moving into in September. A little colour for the new space perhaps?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Week 14: Simple Wall Art DIY

Painting is so not my forte, but I gave it a shot and ended up with this floral, pastel, geometric painting for my wall!

  • plywood
  • wood stain
  • cotton cloth
  • washi or painters tape
  • acrylic paints
  • paintbrushes

Step 1: Prepare the Plywood Canvas
I decided I wanted my plywood to be much darker in order to contrast well with my pastel palette of colours. So I stained my wood a 'walnut' colour before I started.

Step 2: Tape It Using my washi tape, I created some lines in a random criss-crossing pattern.

Step 3: Paint! 
Paint whatever you'd like! I must say that the final product was much different that what I originally had in my head. I expected it to be much more abstract, and much to my surprise, I had to remind myself not to be too detailed.

Step 4: Remove the Tape
Once your paint is fully dry, carefully remove the tape, being careful not to remove any extra paint.
And the tape was quite pretty too!

What I enjoyed most: I enjoyed experimenting as I painted. Being a novice, it was fun to accidentally discover what my brush could do.

Next time I would... Create something much more abstract. I think the wood lines would better compliment an image that was sort of a mish-mash of colours coming together.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Week 14: Paint Something

Why I want to make this: I consider myself an artist but I am SO not the drawing/painting type of artist. I want to do this project to challenge myself and try something I'm a little uncomfortable doing.

Ideas & Inspirations: Instead of using a traditional canvas, I'd like to use some plywood that I picked up at the Reuse Centre recently. I am naturally drawn toward more abstract paintings because I think that's where my brain works best! But we'll see what I end up creating.

What I intend to do with said project: This is the perfect type of project to hang in the craft room! It will serve as a reminder to challenge myself more often. Hopefully it will turn out to be something inspiring for me and not something that will discourage me when I look at it.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

DIY Garden Labels


Another garden DIY for you! When planting my garden this year, I went on a quest to find some garden labels. I was astonished by the lack of pretty options! I even went to several specialty garden shops. So, naturally I decided to create my own.

  • wooden rounds with a 1 1/2 to 2 inch diameter*
  • drill
  • paint (again, I used my $1 mint-coloured mistint jar)
  • paintbrush
  • fine-point Sharpie
  • Mod Podge or other sealer
  • 12 gauge wire or larger (coat hangers work too!)
*I couldn't find any cheap wooden rounds, so I made my own by sawing 1/2 inch slices off a tree stick and giving them a quick sand

1. Drill a small hole in the top of each of the wooden rounds. 
2. Paint lines, triangles or other geometric shapes on your wood rounds. I free-handed it (surprisingly!) but use tape if you want more precision.
3. Once your paint has dried, use your Sharpie to print your vegetable names on each label. Go over your writing with black acrylic paint if you want a bolder look.
4. Apply a layer of Mod Podge or a poly sealer over all sides of your label to protect it from the elements.

5. Cut your wire approximately 18 inches long. Make a small semi-circle for your wooden round to hang on and then make a large semi-circle in the opposite direction.
6. Plant your label in your garden with the straight part of your wire digging straight down into the soil

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Garden Fence DIY

Now that it's mid-summer, I'm sure many of you already have bountiful gardens that you've been working on for months. I'm an amateur gardener, but I decided to jazz up my little garden a bit this year. So I just thought I would share with you this week a few garden DIY's -like this dollar store garden fence remake.

  • small garden trellis 
  • paint (I used a small misstint jar I bought for $1) 
  • paintbrush

I did one fairly thick coat of paint and did my best to cover the overlapping areas. I'm sure it would last longer if I used some sort of sealer to keep the wood in great condition, but I opted for this inexpensive garden project instead. With that said, my little fence is still looking great and it's already been rained on and even HAILED on a few times!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Week 13: Dissecting a Vintage Hairdryer

I found this wonderful little vintage hairdryer at a thrift store and thought it would be perfect for disassembling.

Disassembling some of the parts was quite simple, but for others I wasn't sure it could be done without breaking something. Once I had them all separated, I polished up the pieces and spent about an hour assembling the them. Here is the result:

Now, I wanted to put my own spin on this project and it happened so beautifully as I was in the midst of arranging my pieces. So then I just ran with it.

What I enjoyed the most: Once I got going with creating faces with the pieces, I could have gone for hours. Taking random objects and transforming them into something unique is a great exercise in creativity.

Next time I would... Work inside. It was a nice day and I decided to work on this from the backyard. But then I had to deal with the wind moving my objects around, the harsh light of the sun, and even a few pesky magpies.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Week 13: Disassemble Something Old

Ideas & Inspirations: About a year ago I stumbled upon a photograph by Canadian photographer Todd McLellan and it has stuck with me ever since. In his Disassembly Series, he takes everyday objects, like this typewriter, and meticulously arranges its components in a striking way. Then in contrast, he creates an image by manipulating the individual parts to appear as though the object is exploding. McLellan just released his book, Things Come Apart, showcasing 50 iconic objects, which is available through Thames & Hudson or Amazon. I thought it would be neat to attempt to dissasemble an object of my own and see what happens!

What I intend to do with said project: I'll have a cool photograph, so perhaps I will frame it and display it if it turns out nicely. I'm also hoping to somehow put my own spin on this concept. We'll see how it turns out.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Week 12: Chocolate Bonbon Recipe & Tutorial

You sure are in for a sweet treat today! I'm going to show you how to make moulded chocolates with flavoured fillings.

You'll need:
  • chocolate moulding wafers
  • chocolate moulds
  • double-boiler
  • small paintbrush
  • small spoon
  • light corn syrup
  • margarine
  • vanilla or other extracts
  • food colouring
  • salt
  • icing sugar
Step 1: Choose your chocolate

  • I usually use moulding wafers, but I was in at the Duchess Bake Shop this week and sampled some amazing dark Valrhona chocolate and decided to splurge.
  • If you are a beginner, I highly recommend moulding wafers as they are much easier to work with and don't require tempering. Wilton's Candy Melts are a great choice.
Step 2: Select your moulds
  • I've been collecting moulds for a few years now and find that some of the simpler ones really are the best.
  • You can find moulds at Bulk Barn, Michaels and certain kitchen supply stores.
  • Make sure your moulds are deep enough for fillings -many are designed purely for moulding melted chocolate.
  • Select one mould for each flavour you are making so that you can tell your different flavours apart!
Step 3: Make your filling

  • Mix the ingredients above until you have a dough-like ball. A pastry blender is handy to begin mixing, but don't be afraid to use your hands!
  • If you are making several different flavours, then divide your filling into separate bowls. I made three: strawberry, peppermint and an experimental flavour, maple pecan.
  • Add your extract flavour of choice and a drop or two of food colouring. Mix until your ball of filling is all the same colour.
Step 4: Melt your chocolate

  • Melt your chocolate wafers in a double-boiler -I usually use a cereal bowl that rests nicely inside a small pot of water. Heat at medium-low heat and turn it down to low once the water is nice and hot. Be careful that no water or steam sneaks into your bowl of chocolate. Water and chocolate do not mix well! Once it is fully melted, remove from heat.
  • Alternatively you may start the melting process in the microwave, but I prefer the double-boiler method. It gives you more control and if you keep it in the pot of warm water, it is slower to harden and you can work with it longer without re-heating.
Step 5: Mould your chocolate

  • Using a small spoon (a baby spoon works great), scoop a small amount of chocolate into your mould.
  • Using your paintbrush, brush the sides and bottom of your mould in a nice thick layer. It seems tedious but it goes much faster after you've done it a few times!
  • Once all sides of your mould are covered, tap your mould gently on the table. This will help fill in the gaps, but will also release any air bubbles you may have.
  • You can wait until your chocolate hardens, but it's a long enough process already, so pop your tray into the freezer for about a minute.
  • When you take your mould out of the freezer, hold it up to the light and look through the bottom. If there are any spots where the light shines through your chocolate, then fill in those areas with your paintbrush. Then pop it back in the freezer to harden.
Step 6: Add your filling
  • Take a small spoon of filling and place it inside your chocolate-lined moulds. Use the spoon or your finger to gently push the filling down.
  • Leave about 1/8" of room at the top of your moulds for the chocolate.
Step 7: Top it off 
  • Spoon a small amount of chocolate into your moulds, on top of your filling. This will be the bottom of your chocolate when you're all done.
  • Alternate between gently tapping your mould and using your paintbrush until the chocolate fully covers your filling and looks smooth.
  • Don't worry if it spills over the edge a little bit as it can easily be cut off after you take them out of the moulds, but avoid over-filling.
  • Pop your tray of moulds into the freezer for 1-2 minutes, until the chocolate is fully hardened.
Step 8: Remove your chocolates from the moulds

  • Once the chocolates are set, turn your mould upside-down onto a flat surface lined with parchment paper and tap gently.
  • Be careful becuase if you are too rough, you may crack some of your chocolates.
  • The chocolates should slide out nicely, but if you have trouble, try returning them to the freezer for another minute. 
  • Admire your beautifully moulded chocolate!
(Optional) Step 9: Decorate!

  • For the peppermint ones, I melted some white chocolate and used the end of my paintbrush to embellish with polka-dots.
  • For the maple pecan ones, I brushed a bit of extra chocolate on top (as a glue of sorts) and sprinkled some crushed pecans on top.
  • I wanted to buy edible glitter for the strawberry ones, but had a hard time finding it. Instead, I purchased Wilton's shimmer dust. I just dabbed a little bit on the top of each chocolate. It's not as sparkly as I was hoping, but it did add a bit of colour. 
  • I tried to add the above embellishments first, by placing them in my mould before my chocolate, but the results were not effective at all. Add them after!
  • You can also drizzle a bit of white chocolate over your chocolates to make them look extra pretty, or get really fancy and try drawing or writing something on top of your chocolates.
Step 10: Package your chocolates

  • Handmade chocolates go very nicely in a handmade box.
  • For these, I found some great metallic cardstock on sale and created my own boxes. I tried a few testers with scrap paper to make my own unique box, but there are lots of downloadable box patterns on the internet that might interest you more. Like the one you'll find here.
  • I typically line my boxes with parchment paper before I place the chocolates in, but this time I created my own candy wrapper cups using a gold-spotted vellum paper. You can also buy candy wrapper cups (they look like mini-mini-muffin papers), but I find the colour options very sad.
Storing Chocolates
  • Contrary to popular belief, chocolates do not need to be stored in the fridge or freezer. In fact, storing them in the fridge or freezer exposes them to things chocolate does not like: moisture and odours. Moisture will make your chocolates lose their beautiful glossy look and chocolate can adopt any flavours/smells that it is exposed to, so be careful!
  • The best place for your chocolates is in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. 
  • The only time when the fridge/freezer is your friend is if you have a filling that will spoil. I usually make truffle fillings, which are cream-based and sadly, they went bad on me one Christmas. Oops!
What I enjoyed the most: I love making chocolates! But I really did enjoy the decorative touches I added this time. I was that much more proud of my final product. Also, I really enjoyed sharing this process with YOU! Awww....

Next time I would... Learn to properly temper chocolate. I had never really done it before and did my own version of the 'seeding' method and did it without a thermometer. I'm sure professional chocolatiers around the world are shaking their heads at me right now.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Week 12: Make a candy box and fill it

Why I want to make this: Back when I was in high school, a dear older lady from my church offered to teach me how to make chocolates. She had been making moulded chocolates with various fillings for 40-50 years. She would make them at Christmas time and everyone would receive a handmade treat from Mrs. H, right down to the mailman. I've tried to keep the tradition and lost art alive by making chocolate each year for my own friends and family.

Ideas & Inspirations: With the chaos of Christmas time, I usually am too focused on producing a large quantity, that it doesn't allow for much time to experiment with presentation. These chocolates taste amazing, but I'm hoping to have them look just as good. And to create a wonderful handmade box.

What I intend to do with said project: This is tough. I'm just doing a small batch! But I'm trying to make healthier food decisions. Who will I give them to!?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Travel Treasures to Inspire

One last post about my travels. This time with just a few inspirations I found along the way.

As I was strolling through Brooklyn, I stumbled upon some graffiti that caused me to stop and take a picture. It was so simple and yet so eye catching. I like you.

I think this would be a great image to centre some craft projects on! Any ideas?
When I was in Nova Scotia, after walking down a very foggy Lawrencetown Beach, my friend and I stopped by the seaside vintage store Fancy Lucky. Lots of precious vintage clothing and accessories in there, but this is what captured me.

I aspire to this!
Turns out that this little unsigned gem was made by the girl working the shop that day. She was charging a whole $1 for this hand drawn piece. She does these 'just for fun' but she did admit she hadn't had time recently to create more. Needless to say, I encouraged her to raise her prices! So to that shy artist in Nova Scotia: I hope you keep creating art and loving what you do! Who knows, maybe someday I can link this post to your site!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fabric Finds From New York City

The first full day I was in NYC, I hit the fabric shops. In the garment district, there is an entire city block (both sides of the street) of fabric and sewing shops. So much to see and buy! There were also a few others scattered around the city that I had read about and made sure to stop by.

My favorite fabric and sewing stores I visited in New York were: Mood FabricsDiana FabricsThe City Quilter and Tender Buttons.

I was pleasantly surprised by the prices of the fabrics (or at least the fabrics I was interested in). The most I paid for anything was $12/m, and many of the shop workers were willing to negotiate. I wish it was that way in more Canadian fabric stores. Here is what I found:

Coral-patterned silk with coordinating silk lining. I was hoping to whip this into a dress to wear to my friend's wedding but that has since passed.

Teal and coral floral rayon, likely to be sewn into a top.

Ivory coloured floral lace to play and experiment with.

Large geometric print cotton for a dress or top, or maybe both!

Brown leather remnant for a wristlet and orange leather for a new purse.

I started planning my newest quilt project at the City Quilter and this is what I have so far. I'll have to add another fabric or two to make it a tad more balanced.

I bought more fabric that I thought I would. I'm getting better at not buying fabric unless I have a specific project in the works. But one thing I was hoping to find in NYC was cute and happy sewing notions (e.g. clipper scissors, unique rulers, pins, etc.) but all I found was a needle case!

Handmade marbled Fimo needle case by Off the Grid Designs