March 31, 2011

365/ 56 & 57 Of Pirates and Best Friends

Saturday I got a call from one of my most favorite friends whom I do not get to see enough. My dear friend Kathy Hart had a solution to my problem with embroidering text onto the backside of my Dead Parrot Pirate Art Quilt. Kathy is one of those amazing people who sees something, wants to make it herself and does it--and does it very well. Totally fearless and awesome gal!!

So she called me to tell me exactly what I needed to do in order to get the embroidery looking good. Just from looking at the picture on my blog, she could immediately tell that I was using too many threads. The DMC floss can be pulled apart so that you have six strands. My thinking was, hey this will go quicker if I use it as is, nice and thick. Wrong. Kathy knew that. 

Kathy also said that my stitches were going the wrong way and that I should outline stitch the letters and then fill them in with satin stitch--but those stitches needed to be horizontal and alternate the lengths within each row. I love it when my friends have the answers I need!

Here is the before:

I also decided to embroider on top of Sulky Light Tear Away Stabilizer. First I traced the letters onto the stabilizer and then temporarily sewed the strips onto my quilt with a running stitch.  Here is my sampler I did after I talked with Kathy:

Much better. From the sampler I also learned that it was better to do the outline stitch then remove the stabilizer prior to filling in the letters and skull with satin stitches. The sampler looks fuzzy because I didn't remove the stabilizer until after I was done with the embroidery. It's very difficult to all remove that stuff from under the stitches. 

Close up of the skull prior to embroidery on the stabilizer and after I removed it:

Feeling like maybe I knew what I was doing, I moved onto the quilt back and got all of the stablizer sewn on. It's much different trying to do embroidery on a quilt. I learned that my stitches were much too loose and have redone the "Y" in Yo three times now. And the "o" is missing. I have decided to continue with the rest of the quilt and will finish up that first "Yo" last. 

Here is my progress as of last night:

March 28, 2011

365/55 Upcycle Wrapping Paper Insert Tutorial

This one I made for the tut
Yesterday my daughter and I were busy wrapping gifts for my Mom, niece and brother. My brother really wanted lots of socks, so that is what I got him. What is really cool about his gift is the impromptu way that we wrapped it. I liked the idea so much that I thought I would make a tutorial to share. And he liked the gift wrap so much that he kept it.

Below is the, but if you want to download it for later here the is pdf:

Making wrapping paper out of the thin wrapping paper insert (WPI) that is in the middle of rolled wrapping paper is easy, a fun family activity, saves money and is a great way to upcycle materials in your home. WPI is great for odd shaped gifts, bulky items or those with sharp edges that might rip regular wrapping paper.

WPI tube
  • wrapping paper inserts (WPI) from the middle of wrapping paper rolls (these rolls are made of thin card board rolled up, not the traditional card board tubes)
  • sharpie, crayons, markers, paint, stickers or whatever medium you feel comfortable with or have in your home--no need to buy anything. In fact don’t buy anything. The challenge of using what you have on hand is part of the fun.
  • stapler
  • regular or colored staples
  • scissors
  • your imagination or a child who likes to draw

    Step 1:  Remove the WPI from the wrapping paper roll and unroll it. You want the WPI to curl up over your gift, so decorate the opposite side. If the WPI is curling up, then turn it over so that it can be flattened slightly.  I am holding mine in place with cans.
Step 2: Most of the paper rolls are brown, so in order to use light colors paint the roll first with white acrylic paint or gesso. Allow WPI to dry. Or love it for what is and proceed to Step 3.

Step 3: Decorate your WPI. Use a black sharpie or dark marker to create multiple images with a common theme like balloons, birthday cake, candles, words, happy faces, doodles, laughing chickens or perhaps a hint as to what is inside. Get fun and funky with your WPI! Children have a great time with this part and the bonus gift is their artwork. I have an Uncle who kept a large paper bag that I decorated for his gift  many many many years ago.
Step 4: The black sharpie looks great all by itself or you could opt to color in your images or words with crayons or paint.

Time to wrap your gift with your new wrapping paper.
  • Place your fun and funky WPI  on a flat surface with the design facing away from you.
  • If necessary, cut the WPI to size if it is too large.
  • Put your gift in the center of the WPI.
  • Fold over 2 edges of the WPI so that they overlap each other and it cover the gift.
  • Staple the WPI where the edges overlap. Just go as far up as the stapler lets you. It does not take many staples to get the job done.
  • Now staple across the bottom edges to close up the ends being careful not to put a staple in the gift.


Your gift is now secure inside and looks great! Because this stuff is sturdy, you can save it to use for the next gift--if they let you have it back.

Notes: I would not use this type of wrapping for a very young child due to the staples.

What to make your gift snarky? Use duct tape instead of staples to wrap it up--all over. Kids will giggle and roll on the floor at the silliness and won’t even care about what is inside. Now you have given them a fun memory as well as gift. 

Let me know how you liked the tutorial. To share the tutorial please use this link:

March 26, 2011

365: 53 & 54 All Wired Up

"I do believe there come a time when everything just falls in line, We live and learn from our mistakes...."

Great song eh? I really do have shameless fun creating my blog titles. But ya know, that song fits the craftivity I started last night perfectly. Last night my efforts sucked and looked hopeless, this morning -- you shall see. It all started with my Mom...of course it did. I promise this is not a therapy posting. lol.

It was Mom's birthday at the beginning of the month and my brother's and my niece too. Jeez. So what to do? Well if you have been reading my blog (thank you again for your lovely comments and encouragement!) you already know that I made my niece a really pretty wire frame and bead necklace

Mom said she wanted me to make a Pandora style bracelet and green. Thanks Mom. Although I make lots of different kinds of jewelry from some strange stuff like milk jug plugs, I am not glass bead maker. Ya okay that one class I took doesn't count and those beads would drag King Kong's neck to jungle floor. Being a Suze Orman follower, I decided to make do with what I had. I am an artist and up for the challenge.

A week later I had the answer. I really liked my niece's bday necklace so why not make something similar, but as a bracelet for dear Mom. Ya that's the ticket. I dragged the needed tools, beads, and wire to the couch... a terrible workbench to be sure. I made everything: wire frames, jump rings and clasp, but not the beads.

Don't show Mom this until after Sunday, that's when everyone gets their belated present. Here is her bracelet:
End link and clasp
Center Frame


The artsy view.       

March 25, 2011

365:52 Y, y, y...eeeeee?

Today's post is about the letter "Y". Not just a letter, but the sound is also a word as in "Y, damn it, Y?" And the source of my late night "sigh". The answer? Because you are new at this. Love that one. But it is true. How easily those words of wisdom fall out of my face when my daughter is struggling with a new project, yet how briny and thorn covered when I must choke them down!!

Last night I began the embroidery of the song on the back of my Dead Parrot Pirate Quilt. It just so happens that the first letter I had to embroider was...."Y". How appropriate. Here is how it turned out:
Arrr, me 'earties Not exactly the look I was a goin fer. It be barnacle covered fer sure, if ya know what I mean. I thought I was clever. Just print out the text I wanted, in the size that would fit the designated space on the quilt back, pin it above that area for handy reference and off I go. Ya, I be off the map and this letter be goin oft ta Davy Jones' Locker. 

BTW: I outlined the letter first with split stitch and then used satin stitch to get a raised look. A great idea, but...

Embroidery is new to me, most definitely when it comes to text. I did research some sites on the how-to-part and there might have been something about, I dunno, practicing? I have a new plan. In addition to "practicing", I am going to print or trace these letters onto Sulky Light Tear-Away Stabilizer. Then I can embroider directly onto the image and just "easily" remove the stabilizer when done. Easy Peasy. Bwahahahahaha.. I mean Arrrrrrrrr... If that not be to me likin then there is always paint.

March 23, 2011

365:51 A Better Looking Dead Parrot Pirate

Yo Ho Me 'Earties! I did as stated and finished up the quilting of the fireworks on the Dead Parrot Pirate. And true to my word here are better pictures of today's efforts. 

All that remains (ha ha ha ha) on the front is the free-motion quilting of waves in the 3" black border. I don't I have the right color thread so I need to shop for that tomorrow. Maybe a dark shiny blue or greenish blue color. But not black. And of course he needs his one eye sewn on. Arrrrr.

Aye matey, now you can see the pearl as it glows and glistens in the dead claw. A real treasure to be sure.
This is the backside of the quilt with the Articles of the Crew on it. You can see some of the fireworks in grays, blacks and silvers. I am hoping to embroider the song Yo Ho on the narrow border in the back. And perhaps those skulls as well. Perhaps I'll begin this part tonight until I can get the thread I need for the waves. 

Close ups of the "fireworks".
Now that you have seen the better photos, what color threads would you use for the waves?

365:50 An hour for a Dead Parrot Pirate

I managed to sneak in a hour last night, while cooking dinner, to work on the Dead Parrot Pirate Quilt. As I was free motion quilting I kept thinking of what a pain it would be to have to remove those tiny stitches if I made a major mistake. And then... I did. One of the corners in the back got folded over on itself and I accidentally stitched it down to the quilt that way. Honestly, correcting it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. So now I have pinned down all the edges of the quilt so that can't happen again. Must learn to listen to that little voice a little sooner.

No picks for last night's post, but I will put some up later today.  Looks like I will have a couple of hours that I can put into this project and finish up the fireworks section on the front. It's getting exciting!!!

March 20, 2011

365/48 & 49 Aye Matey, it;'s that Pirate again...

I did a lot of work this weekend on the Dead Parrot Pirate Quilt. In fact, I am exhausted. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into, but I am enjoying the experience. Since the last time I worked on the quilt I was finally able to make some big decisions. 

Finally deciding what to do with the border of the quilt freed me up to work on it again. On day 48  I added a 3" border of black fabric.

I then attached the batting and began quilting down the pirate and his bones so that he would get all quilty looking or puffy not sure what the term is here. This is the first time I had done quilting without the back fabric being in place and I like the results. Quilting the parrot this way ensures that it will not show through to the back--a very good thing.
It's not so easy to see in the picture, but I also embellished the pearl some more with rainbow transparent thread. The pearl now looks like it is glowing in that dead claw. Better pics coming soon.

The back side of the quilt needed to be important too. It's too large an area to just ignore with plain fabric. So once the parrot was quilted I added the black back piece. Love fusible batting--makes life so much easier.

Now for some fun. I found Articles from a couple of pirate ships and settled on the one from the Revenge. A month ago I had downloaded about 9 different piratey fonts. Dafont is a great place to get some, but the best place for a pirate font is Once I had the ship's Articles to my liking I reversed the text and printed it out on transfer artist paper or TAP. The TAP was ironed onto tea stained fabric and then I attached it to the back of the quilt with Steam a Seam 2 . Honestly I doubt I would do any applique work or quilting without all this fusible stuff. It's magnificent!!

Back to the front: I started quilting the "fireworks with light blue rayon thread. It's a lot of fun to do, but gets tiring. So here is how the front looks now. If you click on the image you can view the larger size and see all the detailed work I did today.

Here is how part of the backside looks with the Article and the fireworks from the backside. I used a black multi-colored thread. Again, better pics next time so you can really see it.

Some time this week I plan to do (learn) fancy free motion quilting on that wide front border. Waves, waves  and more waves are what I will be quilting on the black border using a multi-color black thread or maybe that metallic black thread. The waves should look really cool from both sides--in my head anyway.

March 18, 2011

365/47 Sad? Get Plaid and Ruffled!

Just look at my unhappy face. Poor thing, facing another summer with bunch of bores. That's right. My plain Jane t-shirts suck. 

Not only that, a fair number of them don't fit. The one I am wearing I bought for about $3 dollars on sale. The worst part? I bought two--both black. What's this got to do with 365 Days of Creativity?? I am turning my creative juices loose on my wardrobe. No more boring solid color Ts for me, except a couple...

I cut that nasty rag apart, reassembled it and added ruffle bling. So happy with it, that I have been wearing it all afternoon. Soon I will tackle boring black shirt #2 (or uhmm that Pirate Quilt).

Here is the real before pic and the after pic showing my newly crafted shirt. Don't I look happier, thinner, younger, prettier, taller and richer? Oh shut up.


Lately I have been seeing t-shirt modding, make overs, blinging and refashioning all over the blogs. I was inspired by many, but if you want to try the ruffle thing then hop over to Positively Splendid so Amy can teach you ruffle making that is so easy it's embarrassing and addictive!! Anyone need ruffles? She also has a tute for making a T into a cute bolero with ruffles.

My t-shirt was inspired by the blog Tea Rose Home. There are four different t-shirt tutorials all with different looks. Hers are the prettiest I have seen so far.

All of the tutorials I read suggested buying two of the same shirt, but I didn't want black on black. Besides if I am out shopping, I am not creating anything but debt. Instead I made use my old T and blue plaid fabric that my friend Amy S. recently gave to me. Thanks Amy S.! 

I made some changes to the original tutorial:
  1. First I had to mod my t-shirt so that it would be fitted rather than floppy.
  2. Used a t-shirt I already had and plaid fabric for the ruffles
  3. The ruffles spread apart when worn, so I added black ruffles (left over from reshaping my T) between the plaid ruffles.
  4. Without the ruffle neckline at top.
  5. The vertical ruffles just weren't looking good on the neckline so I added...more ruffles. This time I partially outlined the v-neckline with them. This changed the shape to a "u".
  6. Since the plaid fabric was cotton and prone to unraveling, I used my pinking shears to clean up the edges. Now it's shabby chic. Of course this occurred to me only after I made all those lovely ruffles. This doesn't need to be done to t-shirt fabric.
So, what do you think? Did I do good?

March 17, 2011

365/46 Happy Birthday

So I needed a gift for my niece who just turned 18 and a project for 365. Having too many ideas in my head to pick one that wouldn't be overly complicated,  I scoured my Jewelry Artist Magazines for projects that I had been wanting to try. Wire Totem Earrings by Denise Peck on page 38 of the July 2009 issue was just what I was looking for. 

Although that project makes earrings, I decided to do a necklace version. Okay, I admit it. After completing the instructions the earrings are extremely long 2 1/4" (without the ear wires)--way too long, so I turned one of them into a choker style necklace.

Finished length: 16" choker and the pendant is 2 1/4" long
Materials: Sterling silver wire, sterling silver flower bead (spacer), green translucent flat bead, raspberry crystal bead, raspberry glass flat beads, leather cord.

Tomorrow I might make a much smaller version for the earrings so that she has a set.

March 16, 2011

365/45 All Buttoned Up

I was inspired by Bonkers About Buttons to make my own button book. I added ribbons to the button covers so that the book could stay closed. Inside of the book are tiny zentangle drawings. Maybe tomorrow night I will fill the other side of the book with tiny poems or Haikus.

If you decide to make one of these, cutting the interior pages is tricky. It's a bit of a challenge to have the pages look circular without accidentally cutting circles instead of accordion style pages. Aileene's tacky glue is great for sealing in the ribbons and gluing the first and last pages to the button covers. It dries quickly and holds everything together nicely. 

By the way the inside flap of a winter coat is a great place to find large buttons! :-)

March 13, 2011

365: Day 43 &44 Skullhead Nudibranch

DAay 43: Last night I started another nudibranch. I was looking at images of them and this one particular nudi - a Jorunna funebris (Funeral Nudibranch) just screamed "Make me!"  (The link is too a really nice video on a diving site.) Nudibranchs are very portable projects and the use up something a lot of us have: unmatched socks.

Again I started off with the upper part of the sock or the tube. This time I cute a rounded curve for the front of the nudi prior to stitching. Using an overcast stitch, I sewed up front and turned the sock inside out and stuffed it. The fun begins after the back is sewn shut. I used black DMC floss (split into 3 strands) to begin the embellishing. To make the circles I used the couching stitch. Basically one strand is laid down like an outline and another strand is used to sew the first one down (a two needle stitch). 
The nudi's don't seem to be symmetrical or fussy about their patterns, so neither was I. 

Last up, embroidering the best part--the skull. I think it really looks cool and is in keeping with the style of decoration on the Jorunna funebris.
Day 44: Today I got up early, ooops daylight savings time, not so early then. After photographing last night's creativity it was time to finish my project. To make the rhinophores (long black horn like things) I rolled up some black felt and glued it with Aileene's Fabric Glue. I must say that I much prefer the Aileene's tacky glue as it creates an immediate bond. The only down side is that extra glue doesn't dry clear on fabric. The fabric glue takes awhile to set up, and does not dry clear on the fabric. Just in case you care....

The gills were a lot of fun and take the longest to complete. Those I fashioned out of the remaining portion of the sock (heel to toe) but cutting out a section and stuffing with a tiny bit of stuffing. DMC floss was used the sew the gills in such a way as to ruffle the edges. Just like the last nudi, I used the feather stitch to add detail to the gills.

And here is my little helper Sparrow. She keeps me entertained.

March 11, 2011

365: Day 43 Bead Soup and Spring

I was up late last night making my next creation. For some time I have been wanting to make myself some earrings. Needing 365 project it seemed like a good idea. I made Spring Earrings. Something that would go with the colors I usually wear, a little fancy and sparkly yet casual too.

First I made "bead soup" which is just a collection of beads thrown in together. 

I made these using my most favorite glass and crystal beads. The earwires I made from 18ga sterling silver.

This picture shows a close up of one of the dangles. I think they look like spring.