This past Wednesday was a pretty gloomy day weather-wise. It wasn’t terribly cold, but it was relentlessly gray and damp. While working at Schnarr’s Hardware in Webster Groves on that day, I was given the task of helping to hang garlands and wreaths on the outside of the store. We were preparing for the Old Webster Holiday Open House which runs from 10 am – 4 pm today.
Whether it was the physical exercise involved or something inherently joyful about decorating, almost immediately my dull mood turned lively and creative. Over the next few days I got some of my Christmas stuff out and started brainstorming on decorating ideas for the store and the home I share with my husband Tom. I finally got some ideas for the endcap in the Garden department that I decorated and update from time to time. I added some paper flowers I made with tin birds, seed packets from Botanical Interests, some little tin watering cans, a canvas mat with attractive lettering and some holiday faux greenery and floral pieces. I’d been stuck for awhile on ideas but I finally felt inspired. If you’re going to the Open House today be sure to stop in Schnarr’s – there are some new holiday items to see and and lots of festive lights and decorations!
For many years when I lived alone in my condo I did not bother with displaying Christmas decorations. I made them because I love to make them and always will, but since I didn’t have many visitors I thought it was not worth the effort just to decorate for myself. Before I met my husband, I was dating a guy for the first time in many many many (did I say many) years and I did decorate a bit while seeing him since I finally had someone else to decorate for. I think I have learned a lesson from these experiences – it’s exciting to work on decorations and displays for business purposes because selling things and creating excitement in a store is a lot of fun. But it’s also worth doing just for yourself, whether you live alone or not. You can choose to shop for a lot of new items, use old favorites or combine old and new. If you find that decorating lifts your winter mood, you are worth the effort all by yourself! You could look at it as a form of necessary self care. Tom and I will have to be somewhat restrained in our decorating at home because we have cats, but we can do something and I’m going to make the effort. (The mistletoe is up already, to make sure we get lots of use out of that!)
In this project you can practice your skills in fabric painting, fabric coloring and applique. I had a lot of fun with my stashes of fabric, trim, buttons and threads to create different blends of colors and textures. I used blank burlap bags and fabric remnants to make festive and reusable containers for small holiday gifts of different kinds. I wrote this last year and it didn’t get published by Canvas Corp at that time because they got sold to another company and disbanded their Creative Crew that I was on. It might seem a little early for Christmas projects but if you make your Christmas gifts it’s really not unreasonable to start working on them now. Also you can use the same techniques with different themes to fit the season. I had a ton of fun making these. Enjoy!
Printed canvas sheets
Burlap wine sacks
Burlap shoulder bags
Assorted burlap, trim and other fabric remnants
Gold fabric paint
Assorted sewing and embroidery thread including gold metallic
Clean scrap paper
Small paint brush
Sewing and embroidery needles
Iron and ironing board
Select images from printed canvas sheets by Canvas Corp and cut around them with fabric scissors. Tape an assortment of cutouts to a piece of scrap chipboard or cardboard. Outline the images with gold fabric paint. Let dry, and heat set the paint with an iron if necessary. Place the fabric pieces between two pieces of clean scrap paper to protect the iron and ironing board from paint and ink.
Color the images with fabric markers, and heat set if necessary. The particular fabric markers I used did not require heat setting.
Lay out the burlap blanks that you are going to use on a work surface. For my samples I used Canvas Corp wine bag and tote bag blanks. I also had some remnants of burlap that I decided to cut into rectangles to make into little Christmas themed door hangers with pockets that could be used as ornaments or to hold object such as greenery or small gifts. These burlap remnants had a very loose weave so I backed them with green fabric pieces. Match up your decorated printed canvas cutouts with a burlap bag or piece and go through your fabric and trim stash to find scraps that look good layered behind the printed canvas pieces. Pin the trim and fabric remnants together with the printed canvas pieces on top. You might want to leave some fabric edges raw or hem them for slightly different looks. You can explore a lot of design options by working on several pieces at a time. Pin your printed canvas piece on top of the fabric and trim arrangements. Don’t pin the canvas/trim/fabric assemblies to the bags yet – some of the sewing will be easier to do before the assemblies are attached to the bags. Here are a couple of burlap wine bags with pinned assemblages ready to be sewn…
…plus a couple of burlap shoulder bag examples…
…and some rectangles that will become door hangers with the addition of a loop of braided trim for hanging.
Sew around each printed canvas cutout with gold embroidery thread. Secure the trim pieces with embroidery thread in a complementary color. If you want to, add a few buttons or other embellishments as accents. Once all the layers on your assemblage are sewn together, pin the assemblage to the front of your bag and sew in place. You are done!
I’ve been wanting to try reverse applique for a long time. I also like piecing together fabric scraps to see what I can make with them. I decided that pieced fabric would be interesting to sew behind the front of an apron with a large Easter Egg shaped cutout on the front. Here is how I did it.
First I gathered together some fabric scraps. I picked out pink, blue and green pastels and decided to add some navy blue and red to the mix also. Why add those colors to the traditional Easter pastels? Right before I started sewing this apron, I stayed for the weekend at a home with a great art collection that included several prints by my all-time favorite artist, Alexander Calder. One of the things he was known for was the use of primary colors with black. Here is a composite of some selections from this collection, with a couple of other artists’ works (Joan Miró and Roy Lichtenstein) thrown in that use similar color schemes.
The finishing touch on the apron was to sew a row of rick-rack to the top edge of the pockets.
As you can see, I made more pieced fabric than I needed just for this apron. That’s because I have another idea for using more of it. What will it be? I have a pretty wild idea. If it turns out well you’ll see it here on this blog someday!
While getting ready for my wedding last summer, I took apart the wedding dresses and veils used by my grandmother, Edith Linkul, and my Mom, Lois Hasenfratz. Neither dress fit me or was in good enough condition to wear as is, but I got a lot of usable fabric, lace and trimmings from these pieces. I started several of these stuffed hearts with ribbon hangers to give to people who helped out with our wedding for Christmas. I didn’t get them done in time for Christmas. I may revive this idea for next Christmas. In the meantime, I finished a few of them off in honor of Valentine’s Day.
All three of the hearts pictured here started out by cutting satin hearts from my grandmother’s wedding dress. I layered netting from my grandmother’s veil on two of them and leftover tulle from my veil on the other. I embellished all three hearts with lace from my Mom’s dress, champagne color faux pearl beads that came from an old necklace of my Mom’s, and small gold colored and clear glass beads. The wide piece of hanging ribbon that suspends the heart on the left came from my grandmother’s veil.
I was really glad when I got all the accessories finished that I made for my wedding, but I wasn’t ready to stop making things from the old and new materials I had amassed for wedding projects. As long as I have wedding supplies left in my stash, I’m sure these materials will keep popping up in various projects! What a great way to remember the happiest day of my life and pay tribute to my Mom and grandmother! (I need more practice getting the heart shapes more symmetrical too as you can see.)
I worked really hard the last couple of weeks to get ready for our first party that we’ve hosted as a married couple (aside from our wedding reception). I’ve been gradually moving my stuff in to our home which had already been Tom’s home for quite awhile. In preparation of getting married, Tom gave away some of his old furniture so that we could combine our furniture and use what was most useful and most to our taste. We both have a lot of hand me down furniture so whatever we do is going to end up pretty eclectic. We both have a fondness for Mid-century Modern design and that is the base style of Tom’s house so we are gradually going to go more in that direction as we decorate. We haven’t moved any larger furniture pieces from my condo yet so a couple of rooms are a bit empty for the time being. That worked out well for the party because there was space to set up card tables and TV trays to make a game area.
Eventually we will add bookshelves, my aquariums and perhaps bean bag chairs to make this kind of a reading/writing/meditation room. The plants really help get the right mood started.
We plan for this alcove to eventually hold a Mid-Century Modern storage and display shelf unit. We haven’t decided yet whether to custom build it or buy parts, but what we have in mind is something that looks mod and takes the place of a china cabinet with both open and closed areas for storage and display. For temporary use, I put up a couple of card tables to use for a food overflow and game table and used metal display racks that I use for craft shows to display banners that I sewed together a few years back. While making those and two related table runners I rubber-stamped some of the fabrics I used. I set up my lava lamp and made some small floral arrangements here and there to try to tie the colors together. One of the guests gave us the lovely pumpkin full of candy as a housewarming gift. We love it! The serving tray was my Mom’s from the 1970s – it’s a souvenir from Rockhome Gardens, a tourist attraction in Illinois that we visited when I was very young on one of our many Sunday drives. I’m going to blog about how I made the faux clock candle sconces soon so stay tuned for that!
Here is the main food table. I put together a simple veggie and dip tray and the guests were starting to fill the rest of the table with food they brought. We were blessed with lots of food!
Tom and I love the 1970’s-looking nature mural on the wall and we are not planning on changing it. I displayed some felt crows I made last year with some faux flowers and Colonial Candles from Schnarr’s Hardware.
I made some turkey chili with black beans and butternut squash. I set up a cheese fondue in my rice cooker set on warm (since I don’t have a fondue set) and served it with bread cubes and cut up sausage kept warm in an electric skillet. In this photo you can see a couple of pieces of the retro glassware I like to collect. That was a hobby my Mom and I shared – she loved looking for Mid-Century ceramics and I loved looking for Mid-Century glassware. Neither of our collections was particularly complete or cohesive because we just bought when we saw something we liked for a bargain price. More items from our collections will appear in our house as Tom and I work on it. My collectibles inspire me a lot in my design work and I like to have them around me and put them to use if I can.
I set up fondue chocolate in my potpourri crock pot and served it with dunking cookies, grapes, marshmallows, pineapple and strawberries.
My photo of the drinks table didn’t take – a shame! But I’ll get it next time. I want to show off Tom’s really cool Mid-Century punch bowl!
Supplies and Materials
Cardstock and a variety of decorative papers in shades of green
Downloadable templates “St. Patrick’s Day Card 1” and “St. Patrick’s Day Card 2”
Chipboard (can be scrap – for making templates)
Small circle punch
Paper flower embellishments
Craft knife and blades (X-Acto or something similar)
Rubber stamps (St. Patrick’s Day, appropriate greeting, Celtic designs, spirals)
Stamping ink pads and re-inkers in the following colors: dark brown, shades of green
Acrylic stamp mounting blocks
Awl or needle tool
Small hole punch
Optional – buttons, white craft glue such as Turbo Tacky Glue, needle, thread
The first part of the process for the pair of cards is to stamp out St. Patrick’s Day and Celtic motifs onto small pieces of scrap paper. Use stamping inks in various shades of green and dark brown. Mix in some neutrals if you want. You can make the backgrounds more interesting with the use of background stamps or techniques such as brayering.
Once you have a quantity of stamped pieces finished and the ink is dry, gather them together with some scraps of paper in various shades of green. Make a collage by gluing these scraps down with a glue stick onto a 1/2 sheet of white cardstock. You can create interest by cutting the scraps into smaller pieces by tearing while using a ruler as a straight edge or by cutting apart with decorative scissors. Burnish your collage periodically with a bone folder under a piece of clean scrap paper so the glue has a nice tight seal. Set aside for now and let the glue dry.
2. Cut a 8.5 x 5.5″ size piece of card stock to use as the background of your card. Score it and fold it in half.
2. Trace the shamrock from the template onto the back of dark green decorative paper. Cut out the shamrock with scissors. If you want to make several cards, you can trace the shamrock onto chipboard and cut it out to use multiple times for tracing.
3. Trace the half-leaf shape onto chipboard and cut out. Trace onto four different pieces of decorative paper in different shades of green. Instead of pre-made decorative paper you can use some parts of your collage if you want (if you do this be sure to leave at least a 3 7/8″ x 5 1/8″ sized piece intact to use on card #2). Glue the half petals in place as shown on the card sketch in the PDF file.
4. Cut out a narrow strip (3/4″ wide) of light colored paper and stamp or glue a sentiment onto it. Glue this onto a slightly wider (1″ wide) paper strip. Glue to front of card and trim.
5. Glue the shamrock down in place on the front of the card.
6. Punch out a flower shape with a punch and glue down in center of shamrock.
7. Punch out a small circle and glue in place on the strip near the bottom of the card.
8. Punch two holes for eyelets in the center of where the two flower embellishments will go. You can use a small hole punch or a needle tool or awl to start the hole. If the hole is not large enough to accept the eyelet you can enlarge the hole with paintbrush handle or other handy tool.
9. Push the eyelets through the holes and set with the eyelet setter.
Variation – use buttons as embellishments instead of the paper flowers. Attach by gluing with white craft glue then further secure by sewing.
2. Cut a 8.5 x 5.5″ size piece of card stock to use as the background of your card, score it, and fold it in half.
3. Cut out a 3.75 x 5″ size piece of dark green cardstock.
4. Trace the shamrock from the template onto the back of the dark green cardstock. Cut out the shamrock with a craft knife. If you cut carefully, you can use the cutout to make another card. If you want to make several cards, you can save your first cutout and use it multiple times for tracing.
5. Get your collage out and cut a 3 7/8″ x 5 1/8″ size piece out of it. Position your dark green cutout piece over it and place those on top of your folded cardstock card base. Make sure the three layers line up correctly. If you decide you want a sentiment or other embellishment in the lower left area where there is some space, now would be a good time to add it.
6. Using the printed out template as a guide, poke holes in all three layers with an awl or needle tool.
7. Push decorative brads through the holes and spread prongs on the back side. You’re done!
Do you have the patience for playing around with lots of fiddly paper bits? If so you might enjoy collecting paper scraps and making them into interesting greeting cards. I’ll show you how gluing small bits of paper to strips of scrap cardstock can give you exciting design options.
Tools and Supplies:
Self-healing cutting mat
Rubber stamps with greetings and sentiments
Permanent black rubber stamping ink
Clean scrap paper
Old food lid to use as a palette
Rubber stamping ink in complementary colors
Rubber eraser with flat sides
Palette knife and/or old credit cards for spreading glue
An assortment of recycled papers: – here are some suggested sources
Gift wrap and tissue
Used postage stamps
Magazines and catalogs
Old greeting cards
Paint sample cards
Attractive product packaging
Scrapbooking paper scraps
Scraps from your old projects
Paper company sample books and promos
Ephemera from travel – maps, brochures, tickets, etc.
I’ll show you two different card designs that you can make by collaging scraps of paper onto cardstock strips.
Make an assortment of collaged strips
1. Cut some strips from plain scrap cardstock that are 1/2 to 3/4 inches wide. Old folders are a good source of scrap cardstock weight paper.
2. Lay out a bunch of small paper scraps and glue them down in a row down each strip. You might choose papers at random or try to follow a planned color scheme. When glue is dry enough to handle, use a scissors to trim the strips from the back to make the edges even.
3. Choose a color of rubber stamping ink that will help unify your design and squirt a little of it onto an old food lid. Dip the edge of a flat-sided eraser in the ink and apply a line of ink to the edges of your collaged strips. This is a small step that makes a huge difference in the visual appeal of your finished piece.
Instructions to make card design #1:
1. Print a selection of sentiments with permanent rubber stamping ink on strips of light colored paper to use on the card that you make. Select one to use as the main theme of your card.
2. Choose a piece of scrap cardstock or heavy paper to use for the base of your card. Fold it in half. Measure the front of your card.
3. Next select a piece of thin scrap paper that would make a good background for the front of the card. Tear out a piece that is 1/2 inch smaller than the front of your card, using the metal ruler as a tearing aid.
For example, if you fold an 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inch piece of paper in half, the front of the card will measure 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches and the background paper for the front of the card should be 3 3/4 x 5 inches.
4. Next choose a simple shape to put on the front of the card – you could trace around a found object, use a cookie cutter or a stencil as a source. Trace one copy of this shape onto plain scrap cardstock. Make another tracing on the back of a piece of paper that harmonizes with the chosen colors for your card.
5. Cut out both shapes with scissors. Set aside the one in the harmonious color to glue to your card later.
6. Take the shape on plain cardstock and glue your sentiment across the middle or wherever looks best. Just below the sentiment, glue a section of one of your collaged and inked strips from earlier.
7. Moving from the inside to the edges, glue strips of scrap paper in complementary colors on either side of your sentiment and collaged strip for a striped effect. Cut around the base shape to trim when all covered.
8. Using the glue stick glue the colored shape you cut out earlier to the front of the card.
9. You will probably need some more robust glue to hold the collaged and inked shape since all the layers of paper will have made it pretty thick. Use Yes Paste to attach the striped shape to the front of the card. Trim if needed.
10. If needed, glue plain light colored scrap paper to the inside of the card to make a clean area for writing a message.
Instructions to make card design #2:
This second card design is designed to made from a piece of 4 1/4 inch by 8 1/2 inch cardstock.
1. Fold the cardstock in half and the front of the card will end up as a 4 1/4 x 4 1/4 square.
2. Cut a 3 3/4 by 3 3/4 inch square from plain scrap cardstock.
3. Glue a sentiment, a collged and inked strip and scrap paper strips to the cardstock square.
4. Trim around the square and round the corners with a corner rounding tool.
5. Glue the trimmed square to the front of the card with Yes Paste.
Extra Tips and Techniques for working with paper:
Cover up unwanted parts of found papers by laminating with other paper.
You can get wrinkles out of paper by ironing.
How does one glue down delicate tissue paper? Stabilize by gluing to a stiffer piece of paper with a glue stick and smooth out wrinkles with a bone folder.
When working on other projects, if you have leftover paint or ink use it up on plain paper scraps. Save these scraps and add to them whenever you have leftover art media. In time, you will have a lot of interesting scraps to work with.
If your paper project warps or curls, press it between heavy books with clean scrap paper around it to protect both card and books.
Embellishments that can be recycled and used on cards:
Thread, string and yarn
Ribbon and trim
Beads and charms
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.
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”.
I started this year’s design by collaging small pieces of paper onto scrap paper strips that were about 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches wide. I began with the numbers “2018” which I cut from the 7gypsies papers Paddington Blackfriars and American Vintage: 12×12 State Plates Paper. I filled in the paper strips with assorted scrap papers from my small scrap box.
I trimmed my strips with scissors to make the edges as even a possible then I scanned them and used Adobe Photoshop software to refine my trimming job and arranged some of the strips into a rectangular digital collage for the front of the card. I made a selection outline of all the areas with the year numbers and turned up the contrast so that they would stand out more. I added some grid designs and hardware looking graphics using Adobe Illustrator then I saved a PDF file of my cards to take to the printer.
While I was working on the collages for my New Year card, I also completed a project for Canvas Corp Brands. I’ve been selected for the 2018 CCB Creative Crew , the design team that makes samples and comes up with projects for Canvas Corp Brands products. Our first challenge was to decorate a 4 x 4 inch canvas in a way that highlights our personal style.
To create the above decorated mixed media canvas I cut three of my collage strips to fit the 4 x 4 inch stretched canvas from Canvas Corp.
I squirted some StazOn Timber Brown permanent rubber stamping ink onto an old food lid to use as a palette. I used the side of an eraser to print a line of Timber Brown along the edges of each collage strip.
I painted my canvas with yellow acrylic paint and allowed it to dry.
Then I applied Tattered Angels Color Wash paint in Rose Gold with a brush along the sides and around the edges of the canvas.
To finish my canvas, I glued the collage strips to the front with Turbo Tacky Glue and nailed tiny tacks into the corners of each paper piece. All done!
Holiday party centerpiece made with donated and natural materials
Litzinger Road Ecology Center has an annual Holiday party for volunteers. I wasn’t able to go because I went to the Master Gardener party instead which was the same day. I did however get to participate in the fun of making centerpieces from natural materials and donated flower arranging supplies.