Category Archives: Fabric and Fiber Arts

Two new posts about me on the Canvas Corp Brands Blog

Yesterday was my two month anniversary of getting married! I’ve been really busy with moving my studio, plants and personal effects and before that working on wedding projects so I’m a bit behind on writing new blog posts and coming up with new projects. However here are a couple of new articles about me on the Canvas Corp Brands blog that you might enjoy:

Crew Interview – Carolyn Hasenfratz

Two of the four table runners that I made for my wedding reception.
Two of the four table runners that I made for my wedding reception.

The following article was written before the wedding so it makes it sound like the wedding is coming up but it was really in August. The instructions are still good though!

Make a Table Runner With Printed Canvas Squares

Tutorial – Nautical Alphabet Initial Flag Banners


Canvas Nautical Flag Banners
Hand sewn-canvas nautical flag banners with my (former) initials CMH


One of my many DIY wedding projects was to make banners displaying Tom’s and my initials in nautical flag symbols. I made two sets, one with my (former) initials and one with his. To make them I dyed canvas flag blanks from Canvas Corp a lime green background color then appliqued fabric and felt on them by hand sewing with embroidery thread.

To learn how to make them, go to the Canvas Corp blog:
Nautical Alphabet – Initial Flag Banners

For more DIY Wedding ideas, see my Wedding Pinterest Board

Ring Bearer Pillow Made from Upcycled Wedding Dresses

Ring Bearer Pillow
Ring Bearer Pillow

I inherited the wedding dresses of my Mother and Grandmother but neither was in a condition to wear for my upcoming wedding, nor did either dress fit me anyway. I decided to take them apart to use what decorations and fabric pieces that I could for the new dress I’m having made and for accessories. The first accessory to be completed is this ring bearer pillow.

The satin flower on top of the bow was one of two that were on my Grandmother’s dress. One had been sewn to each shoulder. The large satin bow had been on my Mom’s dress where the train was attached to the back. I dyed the bow and some of the fabric from my Mom’s dress a light lime green color with Procion MX dye. Lime green is my favorite color and will feature prominently in the festivities along with coral, navy and white.

I sewed a lacy section from Mom’s train to the front of the pillow and embellished it with glass and faux pearl beads. As I sewed on the bow assembly, I added some ribbon for tying the rings on. I spent $0.00 making this because I already had all the supplies I used on hand. I’m very pleased with the results!

Sew a Pillow Front From Selvage Pieces

A pillow front decorated with fabric selvage pieces.
A pillow front decorated with fabric selvage pieces.

Yes, I hand-sewed all those selvage pieces to the front of a blank canvas pillow cover. It’s the third one I did, and I’m in the middle of a fourth one now. Hand-sewing is something I love to do to relax. When I don’t have anything specific to make but I’m in the mood to sew, adding another strip or two is a great soothing activity for me.

Read my tutorial about how to make a pillow like this on the Canvas Corp blog:
Sew a Pillow Front From Selvage Pieces

Decorate a Bookmark With Paper, Fabric and Buttons

Bookmark made from paper, fabric and buttonsMy bookmark tutorial has been posted on the Canvas Corp Brands Blog. I included a free downloadable PDF template with my tutorial. Enjoy!

Read more:
EMBELLISH A BOOKMARK BY HAND-SEWING FABRIC

Self-help techniques for depression

Last year at this time I was fighting major depression as a result of abuse. I am thankful that this year is much better for me but I know some people who are really struggling right now. I vividly remember how last year’s Holiday season made me feel worse. Winter weather and less daylight contributed to the struggle also. I had counseling and intensive outpatient therapy to help me recover. I learned some new techniques and tips to help me pull out of depression and here are some actions that I found to be the most effective for me. Please keep in mind that I’m not a professional therapist or a doctor and I needed professional help along with the following practices I could do on my own to recover. Please get professional help if you are suffering from depression. If you are afraid that you might harm yourself, please call 911 or a suicide hotline immediately. Here is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number – 1-800-273-8255.

Action #1
Help someone else who is suffering – No matter what your situation is, there are always going to be people who have it even worse than you. I’m not saying this to invalidate what you are feeling because you feel how you feel no matter what other people are going through. Maybe you can visit a lonely person or make a phone call, make someone a nice baked good or homemade gift, do a good deed for a neighbor or volunteer for a charity. No matter how humble you think your gifts are, someone out there can use them. I know that one of the most depressing thoughts you can have is that you don’t matter or no one would care if you are gone. It’s not true, even if other people have tried to make you think that. Doing things for people helps you prove that to yourself and the gratitude you get is very healing.

Action #2
Explore DBT skills for emotion regulation – DBT stands for Dialectical Behavior Training. While in group therapy we practiced some DBT techniques which helped me out a great deal. The concepts were new to me and I wish I’d known about them earlier in life. I kept printouts about the anger and sadness emotion regulation techniques hung up in my bathroom for months so that I could perform normal life functions and do things I needed to do for recovery. I recommend you get the workbook and if you can, take classes. When I was feeling overwhelmed with emotions the techniques on the worksheets were invaluable.

This slide show provides a good overview of distress tolerance and includes some good techniques: DBT Distress Tolerance Skills

For example, I had to learn to tolerate distress because I was in a situation that I could not fix. You can’t make the trauma not have happened. There were people in group therapy with me that were rape victims, crime victims, were homeless and in other situations that could not be undone or fixed quickly. You have to learn to tolerate your situation to avoid making it worse. For example there were many times at work when I had to run to the refrigerator to put a cold drink on my head and do breathing exercises so I could do my job – that’s an example of learning to cope to avoid making things worse. It wouldn’t help my recovery to add financial and career problems to the trauma I already had. I was left with a huge therapy bill, enough to buy a good used car, and adding unpaid bills to my other problems would not make me feel better!

Intrigued? Here is some more information about DBT.
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

Action #3
Attend support groups – Some people tell me that support groups are not effective for them but I find them valuable. It’s a good place to discuss painful things with people who understand some of what you’ve been through and will listen without being judgmental. Sometimes there is no one else in a person’s life to provide this. If you do have people in your life who will listen you have to be careful not to burn them out. It feels good to provide this service to other people in the group because you know how valuable it is. Also you can learn from the other members’ experiences and get good information about resources you may need.

Action #4
Use AND statements in your internal dialougue – I learned this in a support group and it’s one of the most helpful things anyone has ever told me. “I feel ______ AND I’m going to _______.” This is a good way to remind yourself that there are a lot of things you can do despite how you feel.

Examples of AND statements I’ve used to motivate myself:
“I’m angry AND I’m going to give this customer extra good service and make their day easier.”
“I’m sad AND I’m going to take a walk and enjoy nature.”
“I’m tired AND I’m going to go grocery shopping so I have nutritious food to eat.”

Action #5
G.R.A.P.E.S. – This is an acronym to help you remember to take steps each day to help recover from depression. When you are really depressed, it’s difficult to take any kind of action. I learned from experience that if I did everything on this list daily I would improve. It was hard. It took a long time. But it did work!

  • Being Gentle with yourself
  • Relaxation
  • Achievement
  • Pleasure
  • Exercise
  • Social

I made a set of felt ornaments for a friend to put little pieces of paper in as a reminder of which activities have been done that day and motivation for getting as many as possible completed each day. I suggested she start with the papers on the sun side and move them to the moon side as they are finished to get more out of the cycle of each day. I also made a set for myself. The patterns for the sun and moon came from the book “Forest Fairy Crafts”.

I made a PDF file that includes reminders that you can print out on cardstock or on clear sticker paper to incorporate them into different systems that you might use for motivation such as calendars or planners. I threw in some motivational sayings that are designed for cards the size of ATCs (artist trading cards). Some people call these “self care cards”.
Download PDF here

Action #6
Light Therapy – Other people can explain better than I can the science behind improving your mood with light. I just know that it works. I give myself exposure to a natural light lamp and try to get natural sunlight on me as much as possible. Of course that is difficult in winter when you have to cover up to be outdoors but I use the outdoor activities I enjoy and gardening to motivate me to get what sun exposure I can.

Action #7
Meditation – I never tried meditation before I was in group therapy. I was having severe sleep problems and a group meditation session got me closer than I had been to sleep in quite some time. I decided to download some apps to help me meditate on my own and I’ve enjoyed using them ever since. There are guided meditations designed especially for problems such as sleep, anxiety and depression. Meditation has been a great discovery for me!

Action #8
Collect motivational and comforting sayings – fighting depression feels like you are fighting your own brain and your own thoughts all the time. Putting an input of healthy thoughts in my brain is helpful. I put some of them in my journal where I can use them for inspiration, a journaling prompt or just a reminder to get my thoughts in a healthy direction. You might put such sayings on the wall, on a fridge, on a computer slide show, on a Pinterest board or wherever it’s convenient for you.

In a support group meeting that I go to, we read affirmations at the end. We are supposed to pick ones that resonate with us at the moment. Sometimes I or other people have to look at the list a long time before we see one that we think is the truth. I know what it’s like to read an inspirational or motivational saying or affirmation and think “yeah, right”. Give it a chance and give it time and maybe more and more of them will seem true to you.

Action #9
Try new activities with a group – Doing something fun with a group of strangers may not be a substitute for having a close friend to do activities with. However, I think it’s much more likely to lift your mood than staying home alone. You’ll also get the opportunity to make some friends. For example I do a lot of activities with groups on Meetup.com. There are groups you can join for every interest and activities for every budget.

Action #10
Journaling – there are several ways my art journal helped me fight depression.

I wrote down thoughts which helped get them out of my mind. Once expressed, it was easier to get my mind on something more pleasant.

I gained new insights through writing. Forcing myself to organize my thoughts by writing them down made me understand situations better.

I kept track of my tasks. I found it much more satisfying to do what I needed to do to get better if I made a task page or some kind of task listing for it in my journal/planner. I found it motivating to fill in or mark completed tasks as opposed to just keeping track in my head. Seeing tangible evidence of the completed tasks made me feel proud.

Do artwork that expresses your feelings. Some of my best artwork was made when I was really having a bad time. It makes me feel a little bit better to know that if I had to go through the feelings, I at least got some strong artwork out of it. Here are a couple of art journal pages that I did Christmas Day 2016. I hope I never feel again like I did that day but I did get quite a bit of satisfaction out of my artistic expression.
“Going Cheap”
“Secrets”

I made gratitude lists. It’s easy to forget about the good things we still have – referring to a list of things to be grateful for is a good reminder that life isn’t all bad. As an exercise when I felt like I “hated everyone and everything” I decided to go through two magazines and make a collage out of things I was grateful for. I realized that even if I could not enjoy them now I would again in the future.

I made a list of my progress. Seeing what I’d achieved in recovery then referring to it when I felt frustrated by my seemingly slow progress was a great motivator for me. I had been taken down so far by abuse that performing normal, everyday activities became milestones. Keeping track of them DID help me realize I was slowly getting better and gave me determination to keep working.

Action #11
Spiritual practices – In my life I’ve gone back and forth from having religious faith to having serious doubts. I’ve resolved my doubts for the most part at this stage of life but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy for me to take time out for prayer and worship. However, I’ve found spiritual practices are one of many things where if you don’t “feel like” doing it, if you do it anyway the feeling will follow. In other words, let feelings follow the actions, don’t let feelings dictate your actions. Is this proof of the existence of God or just how the human brain works? Either way, if you’re open to it spiritual practices have been a source of strength and healing for me. I’ve prayed for strength in many tough situations and received it and I am very grateful.

Christmas Craft Bender – Part 2

Here is another chapter in my post-Christmas wrap-up!

I made quite a few felt ornaments as gifts. I really love to give ornaments with pockets as gifts because they can be made into a more substantial gift by tucking something in the pocket such as gift card or some money. Small objects like jewelry, flash drives, memory cards or candy could be included. Or for a gift with a lot of value other than monetary, you could put personal notes or prayers in the pocket.

Felt heart with pocket – this design could work for Valentine’s Day of course, but I made a few in Christmas colors to serve as tree ornaments.
Here is the flower Pocket Treasure Keeper made in colors that a friend of mine likes.
Here is a version of the flower made in Christmas colors.

The patterns for the ornaments shown came from the book “Forest Fairy Crafts” by Lenka Vodicka-Paredes and Asia Currie. When I first started teaching at JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts, the Education Coordinator lent me this book from the classroom library to get ideas for kids hand sewing projects. I haven’t made any of the fairies in the book but I have made six different projects from the Pocket Treasure Keepers section. I’ve taught these projects to kids and adults and they are a big hit with both groups. Pockets are just really fun! I changed the stitching and design details on some of my samples but used the patterns unaltered. The patterns are very easy to use because they are printed at actual size.

Besides super cute patterns, “Forest Fairy Crafts” contains tips for teaching hand-sewing to kids. There are overviews of materials and basic skills plus a handy troubleshooting page. The directions are easy to follow and the photos are clear and beautiful. If you are interested in teaching a child how to sew or just want to make the appealing projects I highly recommend “Forest Fairy Crafts”.

Christmas Craft Bender Part 1

I’ve been so busy making Christmas presents that I haven’t had much time to write about them. I’m still working on making and giving even though Christmas Day was a couple of days ago. In my religion Christmas lasts until December 6, so I’m not worried!

Melissa and Stephanie from Schnarr's Hardware on Halloween and the Elsa and Anna ornaments
The lovely Melissa and Stephanie from Schnarr’s Hardware on Halloween and the Elsa and Anna ornaments I made

At Schnarr’s Hardware in Old Webster, we handed out treats on Halloween. Melissa and Stephanie dressed up as Anna and Elsa from the movie Frozen. We were using some Frozen fabric in a holiday project for the teaching department at JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts. I decided I knew a couple of people who needed Frozen ornaments for Christmas! I cut out the Elsa and Anna images from flannel fabric and sewed them to felt circles. I added sequins and beads and a little decorative stitching with embroidery thread and decorative iridescent thread, sewed in a ribbon hanger and stuffed the ornaments. These were such fun to make!

Tom and my new craft room!

My fiance Tom is pictured on the left with the fleece blanket I made for him from St. Louis Cardinals themed fabric. I got some much needed practice sewing fleece on a machine and it sure feels nice to snuggle with him under this blanket! I just adore fleece! I was moved to tears when I saw his Christmas gift to me on the right – a craft room! This is located in my future home where I will move after we get married in August 2018. Tom is quite a guy, wouldn’t you say? I am so lucky to have him in my life!

Fun Demos at JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts – Pom Poms, Tassels and Ornaments

I love showing people how to use products and helping them make stuff! I got the chance to do that yesterday at JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts. First I demonstrated how to use the Boye Pom Pom & Tassel Maker. I had a lot of fun making samples for this demo and the customers had a great time trying out the kit. It’s really fun and useful for crafters of all ages.

Making pom poms with the Boye Pom Pom & Tassel Maker

I made a garland and decorated gift packaging ahead of time for the demo. I’m also going to use the tassel tool for making a tassel necklace and some boot cuffs. Personal adornment sure does provide a lot of potential for tassels and pom poms!

Making pom poms and ornaments

After the pom pom and tassel demo, I switched to ornament making for the JoAnn Make to Give event supporting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Participants at our store made 47 ornaments! My boyfriend Tom who also works at JoAnn looks in this picture like I felt after we did all that! It was uplifting to watch kids get creative with the supplies and have fun putting them together. We used clear plastic ornaments that are designed to be filled with fun stuff and decorated them with colorful pom poms, Sharpie paint markers, ribbon, glitter paper, googly eyes, chenille stems, yarn and more. You can see what ornaments people made in JoAnn stores all over the country on Pinterest and Facebook.

Make to Give is happening again on November 28 from 2-7 pm at selected JoAnn stores, so I hope you can join us!

Holiday Table Runner With Wired Burlap Ribbon

To celebrate the Holiday season, here are instructions for making a table runner with some of my favorite supplies – wired burlap ribbon, felt, beads, embroidery thread and sequins!

Read more on the Schnarr’s Hardware Blog:
Holiday Table Runner With Wired Burlap Ribbon