Friday, June 27, 2014

Superhero Masks - A Kids Obession Turned Creation

Superheroes have really become almost an obsession at our house.  For years now my husband and I have loved going to see these types of movies together, and now that my kids are a little older they have discovered them as well.  Whether it is the cartoon version or the live action they watch superheroes, then they play action figures, and dress-up.  My nine year old daughter has even said that she would like to be Captain America for Halloween this year.  Her six year old brother followed that idea with a request to be Ironman with a "real suit of armor".

As you know I have been designing felt masks for my mother's Etsy Shop: Our Cozy Creations and the superheroes are great sellers.  So we have been trying to branch out and expand our choice selection and I often find myself asking my kids which superheroes they like the best and why.  "The Avengers" are a group that continue to come up time and time again.  Both my girls wishing that they made action figures for the girl superheroes and not just the boys.  So my sister and I have been designing masks for the little girls in our lives that want to be as amazing and super as the little boy's in our lives.

Well the other night I was struggling with my design for Wasp from the Avengers.  You can read about that here.  Starting fresh the following morning I was not only much better at being objective about what I had accomplished the night before but my daughters were also awake and could give me their opinion.  So here it is.  While working on this design I can say I learned more about "The Avengers" comic book characters then I ever thought I needed to know.  And that knowledge has spurred me into action to create one more design so that the original team of five will be complete and available.  This design was taken directly from some of the current cartoon animation my kids watch from time to time right now and is stamped with child approval, my girls especially were thrilled after they saw me add the rhinestones to it.  If you are curious you can check out my inspiration from another artist: MonteCreations on Deviantart here.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

New Leopard Felt Mask Design

I found some time yesterday evening to do a little bit of crafting and design work and I discovered something.  I should stop sewing when I start to get tired.  My first project was a cute leopard mask. which I managed to finish right around 7:30pm after my boys and the baby had gone to bed.  I was on a roll and in the mood to keep designing so I started into another design for Wasp from "The Avengers".  I worked at it and sewed and redesigned and cut felt clear up until about 10:30pm when I was ready to scrap the entire thing and break into tears.  I was exhausted and unhappy with the entire design.

Fortunately I have a very supportive husband who recognized the signs of exhaustion that I was in denial about because I quote: "Just want to get this right".  He convinced me to set it aside and come back to it another day when I am feeling less tired and more fresh.  So here is my new leopard mask design now available at Our Cozy Creations on Etsy.  And Wasp you may ask?  More to come on her when I figure out what needs to change with her design.

So a note to myself and any other crafters who tend to find themselves frustrated late at night while working on a project.  Take a break, get some sleep and start again fresh another day.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Receiving Blanket Embroidery: A Gift of Love - A Quick Baby Blanket Tutorial

Today's project is a gift of love.  One of the gifts I was given when my youngest daughter was born was a set of 2 newborn receiving blankets embroidered with a cute teddy bear and her name.  They were given to me with instructions to enjoy finishing off the blankets as I wished since my friend knew I enjoyed crafting.  This little project turned into a great stress reliever for me at a time when I needed it most during recovery.  When I was healthy enough to actually work on finishing these blankets, my daughter had far outgrown the newborn receiving blankets. So, I had to come up with another plan for them.  After a fun trip to the fabric store for some cute coordinating baby flannel fabric,  I got to work.  I wanted a nice large reversible blanket that would work for her for quite a while, so I used the size the ones given to me as my base size.

Prewash your fabric: I always do this for baby projects and anything that will be washed often to pre-shrink it and remove any extra dye from the fabric.

Square up your edges: Use a rotary cutter, cutting mat and quilting rulers.  Then, cut eight squares (two of each fabric) all the same size; mine are 19 1/2" inches by 19 1/2" inches.  You can get this size with 3/4yard of each coordinating flannel.  I already had two squares, so I only needed three other fabrics, but you will need a total of four fabrics to complete this project.

Next, using matching thread, sew your squares together in pairs with a 1/4" inch seam allowance.  This blanket was done with pink and purple together and then gingham and print together.

Pin your pairs of squares together so you now have a four patch and sew.  I like to use a Three Pin Technique.  This technique is used for helping to keep your fabric from moving while lining up points and corners or matching seam lines while sewing.  Iron your seams in opposite directions from each other so they will nest snuggly when pinned.  Then,  you put the first pin directly into the center of the seam with the second and third pin closely placed on either side of the first pin.  Sew up your seams and then iron flat.

Now you should have two large four patch pieces of fabric.  With right sides together, start your edge seams just past the middle on one side and sew all the way around to just short of the middle when you reach that first side again.  I used a 1/4" inch seam allowance again.  When you are finished with each side you should have 5-6" inches of open edge that has not been sewn.

Clip your corners seam allowance at about a 45 degree angle.  This will allow them to lay flat instead of being bulky with extra material when the project is finished.  Then, using that opening turn your project right side out.

Now, iron that open section with the seam allowance neatly folded on the inside and with thread that will blend into the fabric stitch this opening shut.  You can't see it on my blanket because I covered the edges with a decorative stitch.

To finish off this project with a bit of embroidery flare, I chose a variegated thread that went well with the fabrics I picked and then selected a decorative stitch I liked on my machine and stitched it all the way around the edge of the blanket.

And your project is finished!  My finished blanket ended up being approximately 38 1/2"inches square, which is a nice big size. At six months old, she still has plenty of growing room and space to snuggle in it.  It was so nice to have a project I could work on a little bit at a time and rest in between each step while I recovered from surgery.  It really gave me something to focus on besides how painful everything felt and how useless I was feeling because I was on such limited activity.  I can't thank my friend enough for her thoughtful gift that was an answer to an unspoken prayer just for its ability to keep my spirits up while I worked on it.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Those Little Rebels We Call Socks Tamed At Last - Laundry Tips & Organization

As mom's most of us have at least one household chore that we really don't enjoy doing.  For some it's laundry and for others it's cleaning bathrooms.  Lately since laundry is one of the few household chores that I am not medically restricted from, I have discovered that socks have become one of the most frustrating things to deal with.  As a family of seven it often feels like we have a million of these little buggers.

They come off all over the house like shoes typically do and find their way to places I would never imagine they should be.  I have found them on the kitchen counter, in the trash, under the couch, in the bathtub and the toilet (thanks to my four year old).  Plus that is just the dirty ones.  Heaven forbid they actually make it into the hamper where they belong.  Once clean I find them in places like stuffed in the kids closet because they didn't want to put their clothes in their dresser, in my diaper bag, because you never know when someone will need a clean pair with a six month old and a potty trainee.  They even miraculously find their way inside folded sheets to be discovered the next time we put clean ones on someone's bed.  I used to say I was an organized person before I had kids, now I only say I usually find what I need even in the chaos.  And I constantly remind myself:

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:"
Ecclesiastes 3:1

So it must be organization season this week at my house because I have been working hard to tackle our sock mania and I have come up with a few tricks and tips that I would love to share with you.

1.  Turn Them Right Side Out - I find that washing socks left turned inside out more often then not leaves dirt and bits of grass or whatever stuck to my kids socks.  So I work at turning them right side out a little at a time.  When you pick a pair up to put in the hamper, turn them right side out before tossing them in, when you make the kids who left them pick them up and put them in the laundry remind them to turn them right side out and finally when I am sorting laundry to put in the washer I turn any socks right side out that escaped the process before.  I have found this cuts down on the aggravation that builds up while I am folding laundry because I no longer discover still dirty socks that have to be washed again (I used to call these the perpetual dirty sock) and I don't spend a lot of time all at once doing a very tedious task.

2.  Dresser Drawer Bins - I measured the inside of my kids dressers and bought some plastic tubs that would fit.  They don't need lids because that would make it to much for my kids to deal with.  Just about any open basket or bucket that will fit in the drawer will work nicely.  I like two per kid for the essentials.  Into one goes all those little sock rebels.  As long as they are turned right side out and in the correct kids clothes pile I don't even bother to fold them anymore.  Which saves me time and countless amounts of aggravation.  Into the second bin goes their underwear.  Finally in the left over space they keep little things like tights, belts and ties for dress clothes.  This plastic bin idea works fantastic with baby clothes too.  Since their clothes are smaller I buy smaller bins so more of them fit in the drawer.  I keep one for socks, bibs, hats, hair bows, pacificers & clips, and even those newborn hand mittens and booties  all separated by a bin since they are so tiny they are impossible to fold anyway.

I am finally mature enough to willingly admit that my mom did know something when I was a kid.  I know most teenagers insist that they will never be like their parents when they grow up and often say their parents couldn't possibly understand what they are going through.  Fortunately as I have gotten to be an adult I have realized that this is not the case.  I know without a doubt that my mother understood all too well the constant struggle with socks raising a houseful of girls.  This last tip is directly from her sage wisdom all those years ago when I was young.

3.  Mark Your Socks - I mark my kids socks so I can tell them apart easily while sorting.  Socks come for a large range of shoe sizes in one bag, and for all of my daughter's lives so far; they have always worn the same size and usually the same style of sock.  The first time I bought two of the exact same packages of socks for my girls I knew I had to do exactly what my mom did to my socks.  You pick a color of sewing thread that will stand out against the color of the sock and you sew a button stitch onto the corner of a toe seam.  This is simply the back and forth stitch used to attach a button to a shirt and it quick and easy to do.  Make sure that you pick one side of the seam either left or right for all your socks and stick to it.  This way you only have to check one spot on every sock you wash and sort.  For those without a sewing machine this could be done by hand with a simple whip stitch but it would definitely take more time.  For my girls since their are only 2 of them I only had to mark one set of socks.  I know the ones without marks go to the other daughter.  And I am now doing this for my boys as well.  So THANK YOU MOM for teaching me by example how to tackle socks and all the other sage advise you gave me throughout the years.

"Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion."
Doctrine & Covenants 132:8

It is amazing how much a little bit of order in our socks has simplified my family's life.  No longer do I hear "Mom I don't have any clean socks!"  except maybe on laundry day.  They always know right where they are and they don't disappear in between other folded clothes like shorts and pajamas on their way to the drawer.  Plus even though I don't match and fold their socks anymore they never have trouble finding a match themselves.  Which means one less thing I am doing for them.  YEAH!

The animals in the ark may have come two by two, but the socks in our family go into the bin one by one.  My 9 & 10 year old girls have developed a love for wearing mis-match socks.  Especially to school.  I think this is their way of showing their personality since they have to wear uniforms.  And to them the brighter and more colorful the better.  So often I have socks in the laundry without their match even being dirty.

The laundry issues with socks escaping to the far reaches of the house may never be completely conquered but at least their stress creation is a little bit lower for this mother and maybe for you as well after reading this.  Do you have laundry or clutter tackling tips that you love and work for your family?  I would love to hear them in the comments below.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Pajama's Made of Fish - Who would have thought? Simplicity # 2481 Pattern Review

Summer seems to be a time of growing.  Every time I look at one of my children they are taller, older and eating more.  This is a timeless issue that leaves all mother's wishing they could pause time and keep their children young.  I admit I am guilty of not only wishing they wouldn't grow so fast, but also wishing they would hurry up and grow out of whichever phase they are in that is straining my patience at the time.  Well as we all know we don't control either of those things, and one of the biggest needs produced by growing is clothes.  Whether it's the new school uniforms I dread buying before school begins in August or their struggles with clothes getting to tight and small or worn out and holey it is a constant battle.

Not too long ago JoAnn fabric and craft stores had their Simplicity sewing patterns on sale for $1.99 each and I couldn't resist investing and buying a ton of patterns in the hopes of making a few of my kids clothes over the next year.  I also hoped maybe I would get to teach my older girls a little more about sewing as well.  My first project was a new set of pajama's for Clarissa since I am constantly catching her wearing her sister's.  This lead me to pick Simplicity Pattern # 2481 which is the first pattern listed in the sewing patterns section of my new amazon store.  I love this Amazon store because I get to share the products I love with you with the backing of a great company.  Plus when you buy it through my website I get a tiny referral bonus from Amazon at no extra cost to you.  I am hoping that this bonus will keep my creativity spinning since craft materials aren't free.  So feel free to check out my Amazon shop at the top of the page by clicking on the tab and see what products I love that you just might love too.  But I digress.

So pajama's made of fish you ask?  Why the strange title of my post today?  Well new pajamas turned out to be quite the little adventure in my house.  Clarissa was so excited about getting to pick out her very own fabric for these homemade pajamas, and she very thoughtfully went through all three of my under the bed rolling totes that I keep fabric in.  As I sat there watching her she oo'ed and ahh'ed as each fabric was brought out and I began to sound like a broken record telling her again and again that my quilting fat quarters weren't big enough to make her anything she could sleep in.  Eventually though she had a stack of fabric to choose from narrowed down that she said she loved.  There was nothing in it that I had expected.  When I think of my girls I still do so in a semi-stereotypical way: pink & purple with ruffles and princesses.  All of which applies less and less to my daughters as they grow older.

Her first choice was not the pink, frilly, or even the bright butterfly fabric I might have expected.  It was fish fabric I had tucked away from more then ten years ago.  I was shocked.  And then not only did she not want to put a pink or red to match to coral on the fabric, she wanted to use bright orange to match the pretty fish.  When I asked her why this fabric she told me because turquoise is my favorite color and I love dolphins.  The only girly thing about her choices were the 2 matching glittery buttons on the front of the shirt.

This particular pattern has several style options available in a single pattern.  Something I have come to appreciate because it means I have more creative options with each one.  Or as my daughter put it: 
 "This is so cool mom, I get to be my own clothing designer."
She choose the style A shirt with the buttons, and the B option to change the fabric on the bottom half.  With the pants she said very emphatically: "NO POCKETS MOM."  Because it had been fabric I had previously used I had various shapes and sizes cut out of it and she was put to work ironing it.  After a bit of creative pinning I managed to find just enough going the right direction to get all the pieces cut out.
Things I loved about this pants pattern:  It is absolutely great for a beginner and Clarissa is in the middle of making a second pair of pants all by herself so my hope that clothes would spark my kids desire to learn worked. Hooray!  Because it is multi-size I was able to easily adjust for her small waist and extra long legs.  My TIP:  It's hard to tell which side is the front and which side is the back without the pocket for orientation so do a one inch satin or zigzag stitch just below the elastic in the back as your last step.  The top will cover it up and you will always know which way to put it on.
Things I loved about this shirt pattern:  I totally love having built in choices like buttons or Velcro, and whether I want two different fabrics or to have it all be the same.  I also love that the neckline is finished with bias tape.  I always struggle with neck lining and interfacing and the bias tape is quick, easy and looks great.  Things that need to be fixed about this shirt pattern:  Step 5 should say inside instead of outside because you are pressing the edge of the bias tape toward the center of what will be the inside when it is finished.  It was a bit confusing at first.  My Tip:  For the last two steps 16 & 17 hemming the sleeves and bottom edge zigzag stitch the very edge and set you stitch width to the 1/4 inch they say to press.  This will give you automatic fray prevention and a fold line so you can skip ironing those teeny tiny edges and possibly your fingers.  I figured this out the hard way.
There are a couple things I think you could do to further modify the style of this pattern.  First put pockets on both sides of the pants instead or just one or not at all.  In the pattern they have the pockets match the pants fabric.  I think they would have looked really cute in orange on her outfit to match the solid color in the top.  Also you could easily shorten the sleeve length for a short sleeve pajama and the pant leg length and turn them into shorts.  Overall I give this pattern 4 out of 5 stars because even with the little bit of confusion on the bias tape it is super versatile and has tons of styling options.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Insomnia a Chance to Reflect

Ever since my three month stint in the hospital last year with pregnancy complications I have suffered from really bad insomnia.  As I am sure many others have suffered with this issue for various reasons before me and will continue to after me it has caused me to take time and reflect in the wee small hours this morning.

I would have called my day yesterday a failure and said that I actually managed to accomplish nothing.  Not a single task was completed as far as I was concerned when I crawled into bed last night in my first attempt to sleep.  But then my husband with his constant loving humor started cracking jokes and reminding me that I was not allowed to beat myself up, I already had been by ongoing health issues.  So he tried to point out that I had accomplished more then I was giving myself credit for.

First, all my children were alive, well fed, and had clean clothes.  Is this an accomplishment when it is something I do out of love for them even on the days that I feel at my worst and isn't something I consciously think about because it is second nature?  I am not so sure.

Next, I pointed out that I had attempted to do laundry today and it wasn't finished.  His response was but your daughters willing worked on it today without complaint and you washed and dried six whole loads.  That is something.  Immediately my rebuttal was but they aren't folded or put away so it isn't complete right?  This was the nugget of wisdom gleaned from this for me:  "Tiffany" he said "laundry is an unending cycle so it must be counted each step along the way."

Then he asked me a question:  "Why do you refuse to take credit for all the good things you do?"  Selfishly I wanted to continue my little pity party and so I said very determinedly "because after 34 years it's a very ingrained habit so why change now?"  Well the joke is on me because he responded as he often does with things like:

I've braided my nose hair for the last 34 years, why stop now?
I'm in the habit of snoring when I sleep so why change now?
I love to shave my back hair into patches like a chess board why change now?
I've done cocaine for the last 34 years why change now?
I've smoked all my life it's too late to change now.

As we laughed over the silliness and absurdity of all these statements, because they would never apply to my husband at any time in his life I began to understand his point.  Just because something is a habit or you have always done something a certain way, doesn't mean it's right or even that good for you.  It is so easy to be over critical of yourself and not remember the good you do at the end of the day, because so often we simply live in the moment and at that moment I was tired and hungry and hurting.  But it reminded me of a song by Hilary Weeks called "All The Good"

"While my weaknesses all shine
And I forget
Until He patiently reminds me
I forget about
 The good things I've done
The kind words I said
The tiny victories that no one sees
And the changes I've made
And when the count comes in
As I'm adding up the day
In the midst of the "coulds" and "shoulds"
Help me remember
All the good"
So I reflect this morning on the good I need to remember from yesterday:
  • I snuggled with my six month old daughter
  • I helped my daughters learn how to happily work hard as we washed and dried six loads of laundry
  • I helped lovingly direct my kids cleaning efforts so they could be done with their bedrooms in time to go swimming with their dad
  • I patiently helped my daughter sew her own superhero mask even when she interrupted my attempt to finish a dress as soon as her sister went to sleep for her morning nap
  • I remembered to make lunch for myself and eat it (trust me this is an accomplishment)
  • I allowed my daughter to learn and develop her skills in the kitchen and cook lunch even though it would have been faster if I had done it myself
Did I develop talents yesterday?  I sure hope so.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Minion in ME - Despicable Me Minion Felt Mask Design

This week has been what I would have considered a slow week as far as creativity goes.  Between doctor appointments and therapy for my son Jeremiah and my husband being out of town on business for a couple of days, I have felt like I was dragging.  But as I have looked over my week I realize that I accomplished more then I thought I did.

Friday morning we went as a family to the kids summer movie program in our area and watched "Despicable Me 2".  It's a cute movie all four of my older kids loved.  The little minions in both the Despicable Me movies have become quite the phenomenon.  And I have to admit that even I think they are pretty funny.  This movie prompted my inner designer to step forward and demand some attention.

So while my mother was over and we were sewing in the afternoon, I set to work designing some very cute minion felt masks for the Etsy Shop: Our Cozy Creations.  I started with the normal goggle eye minion, because figuring out where to put eye holes for the kids was pretty easy.  And not wanting the girls to feel left out I came up with a way to make both little girl and little boy minions by adding eyelashes and a cute hair bow.

Then I started on the single eye goggle minions.  This was a bit trickier since I didn't want to ruin the look and shape of the minion, but the person wearing the mask still needed to be able to see.  I was never able to figure out how to put on eyelashes that would actually look cute on a one eyed minion, but I think they turned out pretty cute anyway.  So this is what I managed to actually accomplish this week with a little sewing help from my mother since she made up the shop samples after I drafted the pattern.  Coming soon:  Purple minion masks.  I am really excited about these because all that crazy hair is just going to be fun.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Who Ever Thought Crocodile's Could Be So Beautiful?

So ever since I started exploring and checking out more about crochet I have been in love with one particular stitch: The Crocodile Stitch.  Every single time I see this stitch I ooh and awe over what it was used to make whether its a pair of baby booties, a shawl, a hoodie or gloves I tend to go pin happy over it on pinterest.  Well last Thursday I purchased a book with only projects for that stitch in it called: "Crocodile Stitch Fashions" By: Lianka Azulay.  I don't think I could pick out a favorite project in the book because I love them all, but I can share my experience with the first project I tried.

On page 24 is the Crocodile Stitch Cloche and attached to the hat is a simple and beautiful flower.  I also found a free tutorial for just the flower here at Bonita Patterns Blog.  So after finding this book I bought some beautiful variegated yarn to try it out with.  9 different skeins to be exact.  Okay yeah it's probably a little bit overboard, but I have ideas for all that yarn and I promise to share what it turns into as I use it this summer.  Since Thursday whenever I have a few free minutes I have been making flowers.

I have to say that I was quite surprised with how some of my flowers looked when I finished.  You can never quite tell how it will look with variegated yarn until you actually make it.  And several of them didn't turn out anything like I had expected.  Like this blue flower to the right for example.  I would never have guessed that the light blue would be out towards the tips on most of the petals; or how the black and white one had its colors on the same side of each petal.  I had really expected them all to mostly look like the pink and purple flower below with lots of little patches of color sprinkled throughout the flower.

I began and once I had finished the first petal I started to worry.  The center was hanging open and it didn't look anything like the lovely stitches I had been drooling over.  I even asked my dear husband what he thought because I didn't want to fail at my favorite stitch.  After stressing about it I took a deep breath and decided that if I can pull out an entire granny square to redo it for not turning out right then pulling out one flower should be no big deal.  After all its less work and less yarn then a granny square.  With my new found resolve I forged ahead and completed the rest of the petals.  The more of the petals I crocheted the better and more beautiful the flower looked.

Once I finished I took the time to stretch each petal a little and evenly distribute the stitches along each side to help them shape a little nicer.  You can do this by pinching the tip of the petal and sliding the stitches along the chain they are stitched around.  Once this was done I played and pressed each petal a little bit to help them overlap each other and lay nicely.  Eventually when I had them laying how I wanted I stuck a heavy book on top of them overnight to help them learn their shape a little bit.  This worked wonders and helped when it was time to attach all the fancy centers to them.

My daughters caught me attaching the centers and instantly asked if I was making these flowers for them.  So Sunday morning I let my daughter Seriah pick one she wanted to wear to church.  I got a whole lot more then I bargained for, because what I thought would be a simple headband with a flower clipped to it turned into a ponytail and a bouquet of flower hair bows.  It turned out cuter then I had thought it would and she was happy so no harm done.  She has always had her own sense of style though because from the time she was old enough to voice her opinion I was no longer allowed to help her pick new shoes.  Her teenage years could prove to be quite interesting.

Finally I finished off my flowers with hair clips.  The beautiful nature of these flowers though allow for such an array of choices.  You could use a hair clip, or a hair barrette, you could attach them to a shawl clasp, or a brooch pin.  I actually really like the pin idea because it would allow you to dress up a purse, hat or suit coat.  They would make lovely center pieces for wedding receptions, or a special dinner.  Or even fun party favors for a little girls birthday party, baby shower, or bridal shower.  The possibilities are endless.  I would love to hear and see any ideas you have on ways these gorgeous flowers could be used to enhance the world around us and the things we do.  So please leave me a comment with your ideas.

Since I have begun to work on further developing my talents and endeavoring to share the love of crafting with you I have decided not only to share my thoughts but to share some of these lovely flowers too.  I have listed them on my family's Etsy site where you can order them already finished and ready to use.  So head on over and check out what we have available right now at: Our Cozy Creations.

I foresee a bunch of these lovely little flowers in my future as I plan to figure out if and how you can make crocodile stitch multi-layered flowers too.  How fun would that be?  So check back and see what other crocodile projects I come up with as I explore this new passion of mine.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Nourishing A Daughter's Talent for Crochet

My oldest daughter Seriah amazes me each day.  Over the last couple of months her self-discovery in the crafting world has been full of bumps frustration, and fortunately success.  In the beginning of April just after my second surgery she decided she wanted to learn how to crochet while her Nana was here helping me out with childcare and recovery.  She tried patiently to listen as her Nana went over the basics and got her started; and I listened to words I knew nothing about like slip stitch, single and even double crochet.  Once she got the hang of it she wanted nothing to do with an actual pattern and set off to create her own masterpieces.  These included: a variegated rainbow sleeping bag & pillow for her stuffed kitty cat, a bracelet, ring, and hat for her four month old baby sister.  She even designed a play toilet and made up her own stitches.  I will never admit to understanding what goes on in her head I mean a toilet???  I can't explain it, but she was creating and discovering a love for crafting.
Can you believe for not following any kind of a pattern my daughter was able to create something so cute and interesting for her sister? 

So I asked her if she could learn to make anything in the world she wanted to what would she like to make.  Her answer as some of you with girls yourself might guess:  Elsa, Anna and Olaf from Disney's Movie "Frozen".  Which she has been in love with ever since the movie came out last year.  So I hit pinterest and tried to see if there was anything out there that would help with this request.  You can check out my Disney Movie Frozen Board here for tons of costumes, crafts and party ideas.  I found 3 patterns that looked pretty good for a novice crocheter like my daughter and were reasonably priced.  You can find those patterns by Sahrit Freud Weinstein on Etsy here:  Olaf, Elsa & Anna Patterns.  I think they are some of the cuter patterns available and for a great price, I couldn't beat that someone else had already done the design work and directions.  She was stoked and went on a Nana-granddaughter date to go buy the supplies she would need for them.

Immediately she set to work on Olaf.  Choosing the largest crochet hook I own and with her loose stitching I predict he is going to be pretty big when he finally gets finished, but she insisted that she wanted him big so I "Let It Go"  HaHa.  Then the frustration set in.  Her Nana showed her how to read the pattern and sat next to her for the first several rounds.  Once it was dinner time the evening filled with normal things like meal prep and clean up, bath time and bed time for the kids.  When all was said and done Nana and I didn't get back to checking on Seriah until the next day.  Where lo and behold she had finished off and stuffed the bottom snowball for Olaf.  This left much to be desired, since she had quit reading the pattern and hadn't bothered to try decreasing as she was supposed to, she just zigzagged her yarn across the opening and called it good.  I spent at least fifteen minutes trying to help her understand why following the instructions was important and ultimately had to take out about half the work she had done and find her place on her pattern again.  My poor girl was completely deflated and her Olaf project has sat in her crafting basket ever since.  But when I ask her about it she continues to promise me to finish it after her next project so I continue to hope.  Otherwise I will probably make one of them for her come Christmas time in the hopes of inspiring her again.

In the Bible we are taught:  "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6

I firmly believe this goes hand in hand with the parable of the talents.  Which if you missed that post you can read it here.  I remember growing up as a kid dabbling in or watching my mom dabble in so many different crafts.  I think it gave me the confidence to be willing to try most projects at least once.  And I am truly enjoying trying to nourish that willingness in my own children knowing that if they see it and learn it now it will stay with them when they are adults.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Puff Stitch missing its Puff - My very first Granny Square

Bravery and determination have finally gotten me started and what did I start with?  The very squares that had originally made me think that crochet was only for little old ladies.  HaHa!  I guess the joke is on me because I have to learn the basics somehow.

It's called a Cluster Dome and was designed by: Jean Leinhauser.  I used a book borrowed from my mother titled: "50 Fabulous Crochet Squares" on page 8.  The one thing about this book is that is doesn't tell you how to start, do basic single, double or triple crochet stitches or end colors.  This left me frustrated at night when I knew I couldn't call my mother to ask for help and eventually had me searching the Internet for some answers.

What I found is a wonderful website: "All Free Crochet" It went over the basics for me with simple clear instructions for the moment when I couldn't remember how many yarn over (YO) I was supposed to do again for a certain stitch.  You can sign up for a free account which gives you access to all their free patterns and even allows you to store the crochet patterns you are interested in from their site.  This is awesome because it makes finding something you liked so much easier to do again later.

My center ring of puff stitches and the second ring of puff stitches were so close together in the book's example photo that there was no center hole in the square or any space between the two rounds of puff stitches themselves.  Obviously mine looks nothing like the picture.  So my mother who has been crocheting for many years says tighten your stitching it's a tension problem.  And I thought to myself tension problem?  My frustration levels are starting to rise I am plenty tense.  But I didn't give up.  My goal was to make enough of them to have a 20 inch x 20 inch blanket to donate to the hospital for my mother's Angel Blanket project when I am done.  So I laid this one square aside and started again, calling it practice and having every intention of trashing it.  Before I could do so though, my oldest daughter Seriah saw it and insisted that it was beautiful and she wanted to keep it forever.

Bless her heart my daughter's simple admiration at my first attempt to make something reminded me that nothing is perfect and that is okay.  The Lord accepts our best efforts in all that we do.  And as my crafting was something I wanted to further develop this first attempt was good enough because I had tried my best.  I absolutely love this quote by Chieko N. Okazaki "I've learned that the Lord didn't do it all in one day.  What makes me think I can?"  This is from her book called "Being Enough" page 81.

So I guess that means I can't expect my very first square to be perfect.  Here are the next three squares I made of the same pattern.  It might be difficult to see but they look the same and are the same size and are a hundred times better then my first attempt.  They still don't look puffy like the photo in the pattern book, but at least it is something I can be proud of when I finish it and donate it to my mother's service Angel Blanket project.  More to come as I get the other squares finished and attempt to sew them all together.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sewing is Service A Blindhem Sewing Tutorial

Over the last year with my difficult pregnancy and long term stay in the hospital and recovery afterwards I can not count the number of friends and family who have been here to serve and help our family.  The house work, childcare, prepared meals, and emotional support have been enormous.  And now that things are finally starting to get back to normal I have started looking for ways I can pay it forward and give back.  So I wanted to share with you today's service project.  I am working on shortening the hems on some dress pants and slacks for a neighbor of mine and figured since it was something that is pretty easy to do so I would make a tutorial to share for anyone wanting to know how.  So here it is my very first attempt at making a tutorial.

First whoever is going to be wearing the pants needs to try them on for you.  Then you put a pin in the back of the pant leg where they want to hem to fall.  This is to mark the finished edge of the new length.  You only need to mark one pant leg.  Carefully match seams, lay the pants flat and add 2 inches from the pin.  Cut off extra fabric.  You can add less but I like to have a wide hem in case they need to be re-adjusted in the future.

Next you are going to zigzag stitch around the edge of both cuffs.  I like my stitch length set to 2 inches and my stitch width set to 4 inches for this.  The needle should go into the fabric on one side and then barely into or just over the edge on the other side of the zigzag.

Turn pants inside out; fold and pin a 2 inch hem line.  I use 1 pin in each seam, and 1 pin across from each seam.  Then one in between each of those pins to hold it in place and keep it straight.  Keeping the pins partially pulled up and away from the fabric so you don't melt the heads iron the fold.

Baste hem 1/4 inch from your zigzag line.  For basting set your stitch length as long as your machine allows because you will be pulling this seam out at the end.  My machine goes to 5 inches stitch length.  CAUTION:  Do Not snip the thread ends, and don't reverse sew or lock your thread in.  This will make it difficult to remove when the time comes.  Remove pins.

Switch to a blind hem foot on your machine and the blind hem stitch.  Mine is number 7 on my machine.  I took a photo so you could see which stitch I am talking about.  This foot doesn't allow reverse stitching so sew past your starting point a little ways to lock it in at the end.

Fold the hem inside the pants so only your little zigzag edge is sticking out.  Start your sewing close to one of the pants seams.  Keep the seam guide on the foot right in the fold of your baste line.

Once you are done stitching turn your pants right-side out again.  Remove baste stitching by pulling on one of the two threads.  If it breaks don't worry find the new end and keep going until it is completely removed.  Some fabrics can be pretty stubborn about this part.  If it's really difficult you can use your seam ripper from the right side of the pants so you don't chance cutting your other stitching.

TaDa!  You are finished.  Notice that the stitches should be barely visible on the right-side of the fabric.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Beginning Adventures in Crochet

So it's Memorial Day and I can't post without first saying thank you to all our armed forces who work so hard protecting our lives and liberties both past and present and future.

Crochet has always been something that I thought old ladies did once they couldn't do much else physically.  I know that is awfully judgmental and shame on me but there it is.  I have since come to learn otherwise.  For me it started in December right after Christmas when I was finally able to come home from the hospital.  My sister-in-law Ana Burton who is super talented and who I have always admired for all the crafty things she does gave me three
of the cutest pairs of crocheted shoes for my baby girl.  Didn't she do an amazing job?  You can follow her on Pinterest here.  These shoes got me thinking.  If a talented woman with a young daughter of her own can do it then just maybe it isn't just for my great-great grandmother.  So I asked her to show me some basics while she was here helping with my kids while I recovered.  And I learned a couple of things.

First Wing Needles for sewing machines actually do have a purpose; something I had never understood every time I passed them by in the sewing department buying my quilting and sewing needles.  Second they made this amazing thing called "Wonder Invisible Thread"  That when used together with a wing needle and the star stitch on my sewing machine will actually do the edge punching for you so you can crochet those fancy trims on baby blankets without all the fuss of prepping and piercing the fabric.  I was stoked and ready to give it a go, convinced I would never want to crochet anything else except baby blanket trim. HaHa!  Then she went home and all I had managed to do is sew a ring of stars on a 4x4 piece of fleece to practice with and learn how to start my thread around the edge.  Where it is still sitting to this day six months later.  But I promise I have every intention of getting back to eventually.
 Not long after that I had a wonderful gift given to me by my friend and visiting teacher Nadia Taylor at the time.  It was a beautiful handmade crocheted white baby blessing dress.  I was stunned.  Not only that she (who I would never have guessed actually crocheted) would actually have taken the time to make something so beautiful for me.  Immediately I knew that this was the dress we would bless our daughter in at church and the little white shoes would go perfectly.  Again this loving gift inspired me to reconsider my thoughts on this hobby called crochet.  I knew then I had been hooked and crochet was going to be a new hobby for me for a while and I would be learning more then just blanket edging.  So now to all those men and women out there young and old who have known for much longer then I how lovely, relaxing and fun crochet can be, I have seen the light and my eyes have been opened.  The yarn drawer I added to my craft room is already overflowing and I have oodles of projects in mind for the future.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Why I Blog

This last year I have been blessed with a new appreciation for life.  My youngest and last child was born December 2013 and the miracles of God and modern medicine saved both my daughter and I, allowing me to continue to raise my kids and enjoy my family.  This has given me a brand new prospective on day to day living and I have finally realized that when Christ taught the parable of the talents just maybe I was dismissing or hiding a few of mine from lack of courage to share or fear of what others might have to say about it.  I was like the man with one talent.

"And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine."
Matthew 25:25

My husband commented to me yesterday as I sat watching and pausing, drawing and re-watching Disney's movie Frozen; so I could come up with what I was going to use to make the costumes my oldest 2 daughters had been requesting "I so admire your talent sweetheart.  You have the ability to see something and transform it into something all your own that is beautiful."  I looked at what I considered to be a horrible and rough drawing of Anna's coronation outfit and laughed at him.  "My drawing isn't a talent, it looks terrible."  We then had an interesting discussion about talents and what they are.  And by the end of it I began to understand that maybe I have a few more of them than I have given myself credit for and that I no longer wanted to be afraid.

"Then he that had received the 5 talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.  And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two."
Matthew 25:16-17

So regardless of what the world may think I am determined not only to further develop my talents whether they be two or five in the hopes that someday I will hear what these servants heard:

"His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."
Matthew 25:21

Thus my blog is born.  And I will share my crafting journey and discoveries along the way with the world and anyone who happens to stumble across my little niche in the hopes that you to might discover your own hidden talents or be brave enough to try and increase the number of talents you already have.