Showing posts with label Tutorials. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tutorials. Show all posts

16 October 2013

Horse Chestnut Spiders



When I was little, one of my favorite things to do was create critters out of acorns and horse chestnuts. With help of an awl and some match sticks, we would bring all sorts of animals to life. Now that I have a child of my own, I want to pass these simple nature crafts on to her. Unfortunately I have a hard time finding horse chestnuts here in the US. Acorns a plenty, but chestnuts not so much.

Imagine my delight when I stumbled onto some chestnuts the other day when Lola and I were searching one of Milwaukee’s parks for tiny doors. Not only did we find two of the three doors hidden in Humboldt Park, we also found a plethora of nature’s craft goodies. Sycamore tree bark, beech tree nuts, acorns and acorn caps in every size imaginable, and of course, horse chestnuts.

To make horse chestnut spiders, you need just a few things:
  • horse chestnuts
  • pipe cleaners in the color of your choice
  • awl and/or hand drill
  • wire cutters and pliers
  • glue
  • beads for the eyes


Start by poking holes in the chestnut, four on each side. I used my awl for this but found that it was easier to use a small hand drill because my horse chestnuts had dried out and were quite hard. If I had made these spiders as soon as I found the chestnuts, it would have been easier.



Next up are the spider's legs. For one spider, you’ll need two pipe cleaners, one for each leg. Cut the pipe cleaner in four pieces using your wire cutters. Because pipe cleaner points are sharp, I always bend the tip back with my needle nose pliers.

Working on one side at a time, drop a little glue in each hole. I used Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive. It’s perfect for working with paper but glues chestnuts and pipe cleaners just as well. It dries clear, which I like.



Insert the legs in the holes and let dry. Once the glue is dry, bend the legs upwards from the body just a little, and then bend them in an angle about halfway down the leg. Glue on two little beads for eyes and you’re all set.



Lola and I created several spiders which we used in our #spookyspace that we made as part of Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores’ Celebrate the Season campaign. You can read all about that here. There is a 50% OFF coupon to use at Jo-Ann's this month, too!



I will be linking up my spiders at:
Friday's Nature Table at The Magic Onions
Pin Me Linky Party at Diana Rambles
Creative Friday at Natural Suburbia
The Humble Brag at One Project Closer
Happy Hour Projects

14 October 2013

Spooky Space



Lola and I were tickled orange when Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores asked us to participate in the Celebrate The Season Campaign by creating a #spookyspace for Halloween. Our original plan was to turn Lola’s woodlands bedroom into a spooky forest, but our stairwell is painted in such a lovely pumpkin orange, I couldn’t possibly pass that up as a back drop to my spooky space.



Since I could not use the tree in Lola’s room, my first order of business was to find a nicely sized dead tree. There happened to be one available on the roof deck, but any large branch would have done just as well. After cleaning the smaller branches up a bit, I brought it inside. I considered spray painting it, but rather liked the gray so I left it as it was.

Spooky spaces always have spider webs. I created one with 16 and 22 gauge wire. I started by cutting four 12” lengths of the heavier wire. To prevent poking anyone’s eyes out, and because I like the look, I curled the ends of the spokes before I weaved the thinner wire around them. To make it easier to work with, I cut the 22 gauge wire into roughly 3’ lengths. I needed about four of those.



Again, I thought about spray painting the spider web, but felt it looked perfect as it was. Some might consider this laziness, but I am all about aesthetics, honestly. After attaching the spider web to the branches with wire, I hung five cute little fleece crows, found at Jo-Ann, in our spooky tree, along with some cheese cloth ghosts from Halloweens past.



One of my favorite things to do, is make garlands with felt cut-outs. For this I use my trusted Cuttlebug® die cutting machine and Sizzix Bigz dies. I love these dies because they cut though fabric as though it were butter. The Cuttlebug® works with every brand die, so if you’re thinking about buying one, that is the one I would recommend.

I found some lovely suiting fabric in the remnant bin at Jo-Ann’s which I paired up with black wool felt. I affixed them to each other with Heat’n Bond Lite. It bonds really well while still allowing for sewing. By ironing the two fabrics together, it also takes care of any fraying edges. After creating my double layer, I cut the fabric into smaller pieces and ran them through the Cuttlebug®.



For this particular garland I used Tim Holtz’s tattered leaves die. From the pile of leaves I cut, I was able to sew two 6’ garlands. Nothing special, just line up the leaves and sew them together with a straight stitch, leaving about an inch of thread in between.

Once the garlands were finished, it was time to stage our #spookyspace. I found two beauty school heads at a thrift store a long time ago, and wrapped one in gauze. Though it’s not new, my Halloween Wreath was brought out as well since it is still one my all time favorite decorations. It looks really good against the metal door.



Lastly, I threw in a pumpkin or two, some rubber mice, a few horse chestnut spiders, and our spooky space was complete. I hope the neighbors like it, too.



If you’re feeling crafty and are looking for inspiration, take a look at Jo-Ann’s Celebrate The Season and Simply Spooktacular websites. What’s more, here is a 50% off coupon for you. Enjoy!

I was compensated by Jo-Ann for writing this post. However, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

12 August 2013

Summer of Jo-Ann: Ice Capades

This post is sponsored by Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores.

Walking into Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts the other day, I was struck by the fall and Halloween d├ęcor that dominated the store. I am still in summer mode. Truth be told, it feels like summer has just begun. Possibly because all we have been doing lately is packing and unpacking boxes. We are moving house, you see. My poor daughter. She was so looking forward to a summer of fun filled activities and crafts compliments of Jo-Ann. Unfortunately the craft room looks this:


Lola and I had poured over Jo-Ann’s summer catalog together and picked out a few fun crafts. We were going to sew an alligator, we even have the fat quarters in funky colors. But while there is light at the end of the tunnel, the sewing machine is still very much buried in stuff. I think I have too much of it. Stuff, I mean.

However, we had picked up a Toob of Penguins, some gray, white, and blue felt, batting, and Elmer’s spray adhesive as well. A lovely Antarctic diorama was also on our to-do list. All we needed was some sturdy cardboard to set it up. If there’s one thing that you’ll have a lot of when moving, it’s cardboard. Armed with a rough design, a ruler, and a box cutter, we set out to create our landscape.

We attached a little white tissue paper to our cardboard to cover up some of the brown. Then we added a layer of batting. I found some glitter snow fabric in my stash, but it was not enough to cover the entire scene so we put regular batting on the bottom, and saved the good stuff for the mountains and the rocks.

Once the cardboard was covered in batting, I attached gray craft felt to the back, and the bottom – I get a little carried away sometimes, and hot glued silver ribbon around the edges for that extra icy sparkle.

I used a hollowed out log, perfect for an ice cave, and gave it a felt roof. I cut water out of blue felt, and used various plastic containers to create rocks and a slide.

The rocks are loosely covered with white cardboard and glittery batting, and can be placed anywhere on the cardboard. I added a few real rocks and then it was time to invite the penguins in to play.

Behold our Antarctic diorama:

While I was fussing over penguin placement and pictures, three little ones were watching my every move, ready to jump in. When I was satisfied with the results, I turned it over to the munchkins to play with.

There are so many wonderful projects to make this summer, or later, for every age and every skill level. Just browse through Jo-Ann’s Cape Discovery catalog and see for yourself.

24 December 2012

Last Minute Gift Bags

We had a few small presents to wrap up for Lola's teachers on Friday. I thought I'd make some fun gift bags in the shape of a stocking.

I drew a stocking shape on a sheet of paper and cut it out. After tearing off a piece of gift wrap, I folded it in half and traced my template onto it. I sewed the stocking about a quarter inch inside the lines I drew and cut it out.

I had never sewn paper before but it was easy. I did find it's best to use a little bit heavier paper. The really thin stuff doesn't sew very well. It's easier to sew the stocking outline first and cut later. That way the paper doesn't move when you cut out the stocking.

Once I had all my stockings sewn and cut out, I punched a little hole in the top and stamped initials on them. Insert gift, and tie with pretty string. And there you go. All wrapped up.

Merry Christmas, everyone!



















21 July 2012

Woodland Felt Block Tutorial

Nothing pleases me more these days, than hearing of a new baby arriving. And not just because babies are so sweet, cuddly, and full of promise, but also because it gives me a legitimate reason to design and sew a new felt project.

There is a little boy on the way. From stalking his parents’ Facebook page, I have concluded his nursery will have something of a woodland theme. I saw a wooden wall somewhere and a big cardboard moose head came floating by in my newsfeed one day. I like woodland. I decided to make a felt block with woodland cut-outs.


My block measures 5” x 5” x 5”. I tried a few different things before I settled on using silhouettes only, cut from one piece of felt. No embroidery, no use of different felt colors. The cut-outs are approximately 2 to 2 1/2”.

For the side panels and the silhouettes, I used a mixture of hand died, multi-colored wool felt and a good quality craft felt. The soon-to-be-dad is an avid fisherman so naturally one side featured a fish. The others sides contain an acorn, a mushroom, a tree, a deer, and a maple leaf.

 

 

 

After cutting the felt, I attached the cut-outs by using a blanket stitch and a back stitch (for the deer’s antlers only). I sewed the four sides together, then attached the bottom piece, and ended with the top piece. I stuffed the block with very soft Poly-fill and a large jingle bell for the baby’s amusement.

That’s all there is to it. A soft felt block, suitable for a baby.

I hope it will be loved.