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Sunday, August 13, 2017

A mouse took a stroll through a deep dark wood...

This post is late. More than late... It's two years overdue. But as they say, 'better late than never...'

Back in good ol' 2015, I had a two year old and a 7 month old, and was wondering what I would dress them up as for Halloween.

I knew my time in selecting their costumes without a fight or their opinions was pretty limited, so I wanted to make it good. We had been reading a lot of Julia Donaldson books and...

I wanted a costume due that would work with the two of them, so my heart was pretty set on making the Gruffalo and the Mouse. The problem being, it's a British book/show and I'm in the US. At the time, I believe the film was either pretty new or a little harder to acquire here. And my costume options were looking pretty limited. Those that I could find were going to have to be imported and were pricey, or were for an age and size greater than my two year old. I decided to start checking out Pinterest and similar sites for inspiration and even then, I found it lacking. So I decided to make my own version.

For the Gruffalo, I took the Simplicity pattern 1351, version B (hedgehog) and modified it a little. I used the side spikes for inspiration of the purple 'prickly spikes down his back', and referred to the book for reference to his facial features.

For the mouse, I had a slightly easier task as I could make some minor tweaks to Simplicity 2506, version D (mouse), and just change the coloring and the bowtie.

Both costumes were fairly simple to assemble, with the greatest challenge being in piecing together the Gruffalo from the book. Thankfully, it's beautifully illustrated and the description given is so clear, that it made it easy to pull together.

I started the costumes in August and had more than enough time, sleep-deprived and all, to pull them together. By the time Halloween came, the boys looked perfect and were cooperative in their costumes. I used felt as the main material for both costumes which is perfect for how our Halloween's have been trending here in North Carolina. Not too cold, but it definitely starts to get chilly at night. The Gruffly has definitely gained in popularity since then so is a bit more recognizable, but I'll admit that at the time, Big Fig was dubbed 'a cute monster' by most who saw him. But I was so pleased with the outcome.

I'm excited for this year. I went shopping today for the materials for our Halloween 2017 costumes. Yes, 'our'. I'm going for a whole family theme. We did one last year and it was a lot of fun. They were all store-bought but the process was still pretty stressful, which encouraged me to try making them myself this time. That and once again, I'm thinking my influence on costume selection is limited. This might be the last year I can sway Big Fig into his costume choice so I'm going big. So stay tuned. I promise to update soon with more details, this time as I actually piece it together.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Quiet Book: Mr. Potato Head

One of my crafting challenges that I've set for myself this year, aside from just getting back into crafting, is to create a quiet book for Ian. If you've never heard of a quiet book, it's essentially a book, usually made of felt, that has little activities, puzzles, and games for your toddler/preschooler to play with.  It's great for car rides and I think the original purpose was for kids to have something to keep them quiet at Church.

There are some amazing quiet book inspiration pages out there and I have a whole Pinterest page dedicated to it. You'll also find a lot of blogs with instructions or whose sole purpose is the quiet book.  I found one such blog that had fun templates like a Mr. Potato Head activity page.  I decided that seemed pretty simple and would be a good starting point.

You can get the templates to make your own Mr. Potato Head quiet book pages here.  Once I downloaded the templates, I cut out the various pieces to assemble my quiet book.  I ordered my felt from Etsy - I found they had the greatest selection of colors to choose from and reasonable prices.
I also have a very extensive collection of embroidery thread. This isn't even the full amount - I have a lot pulled aside for current embroidery projects.  I used a combination of hand-stitching with embroidery threads (especially on the small pieces) and my sewing machine on the large pieces.

I made a whole bucket of various pieces to attach to Mr. Potato Head.  They all get stored in the bucket and Ian can pull them out and piece them on to the potato in whatever way he chooses.
My goal is to create one quiet book page or set of pages for Ian a month until his second birthday. By then he should be about ready to really enjoy the quiet book and he'll have a whole set at that point. I've already completed some of the next pages so I'll share those shortly.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ian's Mustache Bash

A few months ago, I shared some of the party preparation I was doing for Ian's first birthday. He's now almost 15 months old, so his birthday is long past, but I wanted to share the final result.  I did A LOT of crafting for his birthday - starting back in November. Yeah, I might have gone a little overboard, but I was so happy with the result.  The final look was everything I pictured it to be (thanks, Pinterest), but above all that, I had a wonderful time celebrating with friends and family.

Almost everything we did for his party was homemade. I made paper chains for behind his high-chair, the smash cake and desserts were made by myself and my mom, the bunting, birthday boy message cards, food labels for the tables... I ordered a couple of things from online, just because I didn't have that time or expertise.  Luckily, my new Silhouette made everything else extremely do-able and fairly easy.  I never thought I would veer from my sewing/needlework crafts, but this machine is definitely convincing me otherwise.

This birthday party taught me a lot. The main lesson being that I will never throw a birthday party like this again. At least not until any future babies turn one. It was a huge undertaking and I would totally say I went overboard. It's hard not to get sucked into all of the pinterest ideas out there. I don't regret it, but I don't think it's really necessary in the future.  A couple of things here and there, but I think I'll just focus on activities for kids. At this party we had a little area gated off so that kids could safely play in a small ball pit. I also had a local children's story time performer come in and sing some songs to the kids. I have some great memories from the event and luckily plenty of pictures to remember all of the craziness that went along with the planning.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

New Crafting Medium: Heat Transfer Vinyl

While I've been quiet on the blogging front, I've been very busy crafting. I've been having a hard time finding the mental balance of making things and actually writing something up about them. I feel like I've taken a lot of pictures with the intent to eventually post something, but I somehow never get around to it.  I'm hoping to write a few posts to be released in the near future - maybe it will help to inspire me again. So, if you're still with me... thanks. :)

One of the newest crafts I've taken on has been working with the Silhouette and therefore: vinyl, heat transfer vinyl, and just a little bit of paper-crafting.  I have enough sewing materials, fabric, patterns, yarn, and books that I don't necessarily want to stock up on all new craft supplies, but I've been able to reign in my Silhouette crafting to a so-far reasonable level.

I started by doing a few vinyl projects. Mainly, labeling my water bottles, buckets for Ian's outside toys, etc, but eventually tested the waters by making HTV shirts for a run that I recently did. Don't act all impressed - it was a beer run. A 4k where at every k, you drank a beer. Classy.  But hey, it got me running.

I ended up making all of the shirts for the ladies I ran with, but it made me want to get a better understanding of HTV.  I was frustrated with the pressing process and about ready to throw in the towel by the time I got to the end.  But, through some of my Silhouette Facebook groups, I found some designs that convinced me that I needed to try it again on shirts for Ian.  I did a bit of research and short of buying a press, I think I found a pretty decent method for applying HTV using an iron.  I may still end up getting a press one day, but in the meantime, the iron does the trick.  But I'm happy to share the method with you.

To iron on  HTV, you will need:

  • the garment to iron on (I stuck with cotton onesies). If you're going to use something other than cotton, you will need to do a quick search to make sure the HTV won't melt it. You press down for a long enough amount of time that you will want to be sure before ruining a garment.
  • iron
  • pressing cloth. I used a piece of scrap, cotton fabric. 
  • firm, iron-safe surface, such as an ironing board
  • your design, printed in reverse onto heat transfer vinyl. For this project, I used the Silhouette brand HTV, but you can use any kind - your press time may vary slightly depending on the type, so check with the manufacturers directions.

First, prep your HTV.  Weed out any designs that you don't want to iron on to your surface. If you have text printed on your design, make sure it's a mirror image as you will apply it in reverse to the shirt - which then adhere's it in the proper direction. Make sense? You'll see.

Then, prep your garment. I did a quick iron of the onesie to release any wrinkles and warm the surface up a bit.  Make sure you only have one layer of the garment on the side of your ironing board. Otherwise, you may end up bonding the HTV through your article of clothing.  To adhere the HTV, set your iron to the 'cotton' setting.

Place the HTV, with the clear sheet attached, to the shirt. I used a ruler to center the design. When the HTV is flipped onto the garment surface, the design is readable. See? Told you.

Lay the pressing cloth on top of the HTV/clear sheet.  Press your iron down on the pressing cloth for one minute*. I turn on the stopwatch on my phone. Repeat this process on various part of the design (depending on how big it is) to ensure that all sections have been adhered to the garment.  Remove iron and let cool for a minute or so before handling.

Remove pressing cloth and begin to slowly peel off the clear sheet from the HTV. With letters and small pieces, you may need to be especially careful. If something is not adhered enough, it may either need more time to cool, or may need more pressing time.

Once the clear sheet is removed, your design is done! I do a quick press with the pressing cloth directly over the design, then with the shirt inside out.

I went a little crazy and made a few designs, including one that layered two colors. I can definitely see this becoming an addiction with customizing some of Ian's clothing.

Have you worked with HTV before? How was your experience? Please let me know if you have any other tips to share.

*I pressed my HTV for one minute. I believe the Silhouette instructions said 20-30 seconds, but that did nothing other than cause frustration.  You may want to test on some throw-away garments or vinyl first, but I found that one minute was the only way to get the HTV to actually adhere to my different fabrics.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Sweet Treats Saturday: Sugar Cookie Cupcakes

These cupcakes are so decadent. They really emphasize the 'sweet' in 'sweet treats.' But they're so delicious, and would be the perfect compliment to a platter of sugar cookies.

Don't believe me?

That's how I served them.

It was a tough decision.  Sugar cookie... cupcake... alright, one of each.

Sugar Cookie Cupcakes
Recipe from le creme de la crumb
Makes approx 12 cupcakes

Ingredients for the cupcakes:
1/2 c butter (1 stick), softened
1 c sugar
2 large eggs
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup half n' half

Ingredients for the frosting:
2 tbsp cream cheese, room temp
1/2 c butter (1 stick), softened
5 1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4-5 tbsp half n' half
Optional: Food coloring

Directions for the cupcakes:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin.
2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Mix in vanilla extract and eggs until blended.
3. In a separate bowl, add flour, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture, alternating with half n' half. Mix until blended.
4. Spoon batter into cupcake liners. Bake 15-20 minutes until just browning on the edges. Let cool on a wire rack.

Directions for the frosting:
1. In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter. Slowly add powdered sugar and mix until smooth.  Add in vanilla. Slowly add half n' half until frosting is smooth. Mix in food coloring until desired color is achieved. Decorate cupcakes... and enjoy!

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