31 October 2008

happy halloween!

Running around getting ready for a friend's wedding later today, so creepy LG is here to hold down the blog and wish you all a Happy Halloween! Have a great one, folks!

28 October 2008

wow, thanks!!!

Just wanted to take a moment to thank the kind folks at craftzine blog and WhipUp for posting about my recent tutorials. Thank you so much! And thanks to everyone who has dropped by from these two wonderful sites. Hope you like what you see and come back.

27 October 2008

you too can have bats in your belfry

In the spirit of fun Halloween tutorials, I offer this cute and easy bat finger puppet. I would have made a ton of these for the shop if the idea had occurred to me sooner, but as it didn't, here's the tutorial and a quickie PDF pattern for you to make your own to put in your favorite little hobgoblin's trick-or-treat bag.

You will need the following materials:

  • a printout of this pattern
  • a piece of black, brown, or dark gray felt, approx 8 x 12 or so (doesn't have to be 100% wool, although that is what I prefer to work with)
  • a small piece of fabric for the insert (like about 2 x 3 1/2 inches)
  • embroidery floss
  • buttons or plastic safety eyes or teeny felt discs
  • a small amount of polyfill or cotton or wool stuffing
  • (optional) fabric glue

1 - Trace the shapes onto tissue paper and cut two of each shape - except for the fabric head panel - out of the felt. Each shape has been drawn taking into account a 1/8 - 1/4 inch seam allowance so no need to add that. You will now have:

  • 2 pieces for the body
  • 2 ears
  • 2 wings

2 - Now cut 1 head panel out of fabric. It should all look like this:

3 - Fold ears slightly and place and pin to head, like so:

4 - Now sew fabric head panel right side down, like so:

As soon as the head panel is sewn onto the one side, remove the pin.

5 - Sew onto other side:

sew onto other side, remove pins

Remove the pin there as soon as you're done.

6 - Before you sew the rest of the body, adjust the ears. Stuff them in slightly to ensure that their tips will not be accidentally sewn together or to the body:

7 - Now sew the body down the front and back, like so:

trim threads and head

8 - Trim the ends of threads and snip around the head so that you can invert it neatly and easily:

head trimmed, ready to invert

9 - Carefully invert your finger puppet with the blunt end of a pencil:

stick blunt pencil end in and invert carefully - remember to be patient

yay! you have successfully inverted your bat

10 - Now detail the face. You can get as creative with this as you wish. There is no need to only use safety eyes. You can sew or glue on buttons, beads, or sequins or sew on and embroider felt eyes. Please bear in mind the age of the recipient. I feel a little silly saying so here because I know all of you already know this, but it is worth mentioning that it is NOT a good idea to use buttons for a puppet for a toddler. You can also draw on a face with fabric markers or fabric paint. Do whatever you like to detail your bat and give it the personality you want.

11 - Once your bat face is done, now stuff the head with your preferred stuffing, be it polyfill or wool or cotton:

detail and stuff

12 - Finally, we get to the wings. Position them and either pin them to place and hand-sew them (using the whip-stitch) or glue them with your fabric glue. I prefer them to hand-stitch them myself:

Now when your favorite little hobgobblin comes a'trick-or-treating you can give them a treat that lasts longer than candy, is more interactive, and won't give them cavities or empty calories. Happy Halloween folks!

24 October 2008

uhhhhh, fail!

fingerpuppets in progress

I had big plans for this shop update, but I should have known last week when I lost all my steam and took a few days to deal with personal business and to continue certain fix-it projects around the house that I have too long neglected that I wasn't going to get everything done that I had hoped to get done. There was also a bit of prioritizing as well, being as I am working on a couple of side-projects that I will talk about here soon enough. So today's update is not going to happen. Sorry about that, folks. There is still a lot of stuff in the shop from my last two updates so if you haven't already had a look at those items, please do have a peek. In the meanwhile, as I mentioned in my last post, I am going to continue to post project ideas and other fun stuff through Halloween, and I am definitely going to have one more (hopefully huge) update in mid-November before the holidays. After that, the focus of the blog will shift to the creative process and more holiday crafting ideas as I work my tail off for Bazaar Bizarre. Come December, I will start to update the shop again regularly. You may be reding this thinking, "Dude, you don't have to tell me all this and take me through it step-by-step." Well, I guess I'm just thinking aloud here. That and I don't want anyone to think that I am abandoning the shop, you know. Thanks for all your support and patience! And have an awesome weekend, people!

more fingerpuppets in progress

21 October 2008

trick or treat!

homemade trick or treating bag

Would you like to make a nifty little trick-or-treating tote like this one for your little hobgoblin this Halloween? It's easy! First, you'll need one of these:

And you'll need this here. You can blow up or reduce the image to print it to whatever size meets your project's requirements. For the mirror/inverted image to use with the transfer sheets, please go here.

I did it the hard way since I didn't have either of those on hand and just ironed some lightweight fusible interfacing onto some Kona cotton, then cut it to size (8 1/2 x 11 inches in this case), and ran it through the printer. It kinda smudged a little, so I don't know if I would recommend anyone else do that, but I guess in a pinch, it'll do. In order to make a simple teeny tote like the one I made up there, just follow these instructions here:

1. Once you have transferred the image to your fabric using your preferred method and cut the fabric to size, cut another piece of fabric to the same size so that you now have two pieces. Again, in this instance, both pieces measure 8 1/2 x 11 inches. Also, cut another piece of fabric for the handle. I cut a piece with interfacing on it that is 5 1/2 x 12 inches.

2. Take the piece of fabric with the image on it and place the matching piece of fabric over it, right sides together. Pin to hold in place. Starting at the upper right hand corner, sew around three sides (with a 1/4 inch allowance), leaving the top open. Once you are done sewing, trim your corners on an angle, like so:

3. Once the perimeter of the bag is sewn, now you're going to shape the bag. Stand it up and push the sides at the corner in, like so:

Flatten and mark it with a disappearing ink fabric pen or water soluble pen, like so:

Now sew along those lines, keeping the bag flat as you had it when marking it. (Pin the bag in place to be precise.) The result will be two "flaps" that you push down to the bottom of the bag once you turn it inside out. If you want to be particular about it, you can sew the tips of these two flaps together. Either give it a couple of stitches by hand or a quick two stitches on the machine. I am not being as particular with this model bag.

4. Fold in the top of the bag (about 1/2 - 3/4 inch) and press flat all around, like so:

You can fold it in twice and hide that cut edge if you want to make sure the hem doesn't fray. Now iron it to get a nice crisp top edge:

Once the bag is the height you want and ironed to a crisp perfect edge, pin the edge so that you are ready to sew. I stick the pins in vertically, points towards the edge, so that I can pull them out easily as I am sewing, like so:

5. Sew the handle now. Fold the piece of fabric for the handle in once from one side and then in from the other side, press with the iron for crisp smooth edges, and run it through the machine a couple of times, making sure you stitch both edges and sewing another couple of rows of stitches in the middle to give it some substance:

Once it's sewn, you will trim the edges:

Only you won't leave your rotary cutter lying around open, and you will have the presence of mind to use your ruler with the numbers going the right way, which I clearly didn't. (Because I sew like a maverick! Getting all maverick-y with my tools!) Now place the handle where you want it to go on your bag and pin it in place:

6. Now you're ready to sew the top edge of your bag and attach the handles. Pull off your machine's extension table/accessory box so that the free-arm is open and place your bag on the machine like so:

Leaving about 1/4 inch allowance, sew all around the top of the bag, including the handle ends where they have been pinned. Pull out the pins as you sew so the needle doesn't hit any of them.

And you're done!

bag - done!

If you want to make sure that your bag looks great and that the handle is sturdier and neater than this:

then perhaps you want to sew another row of stitches either around the whole bag or just to reinforce the handles.

Anyway, have fun with this image. Reduce it to make little paper treat bags or enlarge it and put it on a t-shirt or make a sign for your window or door. If you guys have any suggestions or additions to these basic instructions, please let me know. This is my first time writing a how-to like this really (besides a very quick and non-detailed sew-as-you-go softie thing a while back), so there's definitely room for growth, but I hope this works as a basic tutorial. Enjoy, and Happy Halloween!

20 October 2008

call it a premonition

This week is going to kick my ass. I woke up this morning with no voice, much to the relief of Mali and the gang, and what I have now is scratchy and strained. I have no idea how or why or where this came from. All I know is that I have a million deadlines this week, in addition to a personal to-do list a mile long. So the shop update will take place on Friday. After that, there will be only one more update before the holidays, in late November. Also, no more commissions and no wholesale. I want to take the month of November to concentrate on Bazaar Bizarre and to work on a big project that just keeps getting thrown onto the back-burner. It's now or never, and I have to get it done. Please do keep an eye on the blog, however, as I am planning to post some fun Halloween stuff (starting tomorrow) in addition to tips, techniques, and ideas over the next couple of months. There's going to be shift here with less of a focus on the shop and more of a focus on the process and how you can do it too. So please drop in for that. Hope you all had an awesome weekend and that your week is off to a great start.

P.S. - The pieces I contributed to SuperPlush! are available for sale through the GhettoGloss wesbite. Please have a look and contact them if you are interested in anything you see.

P.P.S. - Please excuse the gratuitous dog photo, but I have no interesting softie-related photos to share at the moment because my studio is a mess of half-finished items and parts and pieces and other insanity. So you'll have to settle for the pretty puppy shot. Say hi to the nice people, Malachi!

17 October 2008

what's going on

I am frantically trying to catch up on life and the shop and everything this week, so I apologize for the lack of shop update. There are still several bats up in the shop at the moment, however, as well as tons of cards for sending creepy greetings this Halloween. And next week's update should be a doozy! I'm thinking maybe Wednesday, but I will let you all know as soon as that is decided. (I should know in the next day or so.) Thanks for stopping by and I hope you all have an awesome weekend.

06 October 2008

up in a few

Hey folks! Just wanted to let you know that I'll be adding a few new bats to the shop at 3PM EST today. Please check 'em out if you can. Thanks!

I am not sure when the next update will be as we have some friends staying with us this weekend and the next few days will be spent on the great clean-up that we've been meaning to undertake, for goodness knows how long now, which entails everything from organizing my work area (which is great) to painting the foyer (not so great) to all the little things we overlook on a daily basis. I am going to cut a whole bunch of new pieces now and try to get some sewing done over the next few days. I am thinking maybe the next update will be on Wednesday. I'll let you all know as soon as I have a better idea.

Also, I am totally overthinking the bat pattern. This is my problem with it, well, besides getting the diagrams right on Illustrator. I keep thinking you will all hate me after this because it is so darn fussy - so many fiddly little bits, so much packing in of the stuffing, and just wait until you break out the 3 1/2 inch long doll needles to button-joint. I think button-jointing is kinda fun, but there are times when you accidentally poke yourself with the needle for the fifth time and everything is fumbly and it is most decidedly NOT fun. Anyhoo, I am enlisting Matt's help with Illustrator, and we should have that ready next week. Sorry again about the delay. I will make it up to you with some other fun stuff for Halloween so please do stay tuned.