30 January 2012

One Last Day of Blog Vacation

Do you ever just not want to do anything?  I've been feeling like that for about three weeks.  It's getting better, though--I actually made a couple things with my mom in the past week or so.  You can expect a tutorial on Wednesday, and hopefully regular posting after that.  And in the mean time...

Boo is (in my humble opinion) the cutest little piggy-tail wearing little two year old there ever was!  But I wouldn't be biased or anything.  Maybe a little.  Or a lot.  But just look at those curls!  And those eyelashes!

Ahem.  Back on topic.

I have been working on one project all of my own motivation.  I've been taking/editing family pictures to put up on our wall.  (Our pictures of Boo are sadly outdated.  Why does she have to grow up so fast?  But she's so adorable at every stage, I guess I can't really complain.)  This project isn't quite done yet, but I'm excited to show it to you when it is.

Quick question--do you prefer your family portraits to be in color or black & white?  I usually like color, but there's just something classy about black & white...so I'm undecided...Your thoughts?

23 January 2012

Some More Versatile Blogger Awards

For the sake of not having my Versatile Blogger Award features last until the end of time, I think I'll do several mini-features today.

First up, Lovely Little Snippets.  She has lots of great tutorials {like this, this, this, and I really need to make this} and recipes, too.  I want to try out her Freezer Sloppy Joes.  I'm always up for fast and easy dinners.

Next we have Brown Paper Packages.  (Don't you love that name?  I sure do.)  I discovered this blog back in October when I was making those fabric pumpkins--I love how her fabric pumpkins turned out!  I also like her cute ruffly pillow, and lolly pop decorations.  

And then there's the blog Dipped It in Chocolate.  How could you not love a blog that's about delicious chocolate goodness?  And she's fun to read, too.  She has so many great (delicious-looking!) ideas, so just head on over to her blog and get ready to take a free day off any eating-better New Year's resolutions.

Next up is Daffodil Design.  First, her blog is just pretty, clean, and pleasant to look at.  I appreciate a well-designed blog.  Second, she has such cute printables and projects!  My favorite is this Father's Day Questionnaire--questions you ask your kid's about their dad.  The answers are sure to be hilarious.

I think that's good for today.  If you were featured, feel free to grab your award!

18 January 2012

Still Out Sick

Sorry, no tutorial today.  I am feeling better than last week, but I'm still spending pretty much all my free time recuperating.  I'm hopeful about next week, though!

Until then, have a great week!

16 January 2012

Customize Goody Bags with the Help of the Silhouette SD

Anyone else feeling un-crafty?  I got all this great crafting stuff for Christmas, and I haven't hardly used it.  On the other hand, I was sick all last week.  (Hopefully this week is better.)

Anyways, I did get one thing done recently:  helping my mom decorate goody bags for the seniors of my brother's swim team.  (My baby brother is graduating from high school this year--how weird is that?  I know he's north of six feet tall, but how is he not still 13 years old?)

But I digress.

My mom was hoping we could use my Silhouette SD to decorate the goody bags, and it was a great incentive to really figure out how to use my new toy.  This is what we came up with:

I designed the text in Photoshop and then traced it in Silhouette's software, but I'm sure you could make it entirely in Silhouette's program.  (I just need to learn how.)

We cut it out of construction paper, and stuck it on the bags with spray adhesive.  For this, I used the red tip for the blade, speed of 3, and stuck it on the less-sticky mat.  A tip for working with construction paper--it tends to clog up the blade.  Have you ever noticed how construction paper is slightly...fuzzier than other kinds of paper?  If you don't pull out the blade and clean it out every page or two (take off the tip and just blow the fuzz off) then it stops working as well.  Easy fix.

So, do you think the swim team will like them?  What am I thinking, of course they will--the bags are filled with food.

(If you've ever known a swimmer, you know they can eat.)

Happy crafting, everyone.  And hopefully I'll be feeling up to making more stuff soon.

11 January 2012

My Foray into Floral Design (Plus hints from someone who knows what she's talking about!)

So, I went to a Christmas party last month (obviously) and the centerpiece on the dessert table was gorgeous.  It was just calla lilies and some red berries in a tall vase--so easy, but so pretty!  Well, I was currently vase-less, so I asked for a tall vase for Christmas.

No tall vases, but I did get a Jo-Ann's gift card (hurray!) for Christmas, so I picked one out for myself.  :)

I had some silk flowers left over from my wedding--that's actually Mr. MadeIt's boutonniere sitting on the right of the vase--so all I had to buy was the vase and the little glass marbles to keep the vase stable.

Well, I don't know much about Floral Design, but my sister majored in just that department, so here she is to give you some tips!

Well, this centerpiece is for a table where people will sit.  With that placement, there are two options:  tall and thin, like what Jill did, or short.  The point is to make sure it doesn't block people's view of each other--otherwise, someone will put it on the floor.  
When using a tall, thin vase, you can use long stemmed flowers like Jill, but you don't actually have to.  If you only have shorter flowers, you can do an arrangement that is completely inside the vase.  (I actually think live flowers submerged or floating in a tall vase are beautiful.)  

Just some basic things to consider: 

Scale:  Keep the centerpiece components in proportion to each other and to their surroundings.  A small arrangement on a big table will be underwhelming.  One large arrangement, or several small ones will look better.

Color:  The basic color schemes are monochromatic, analogous (using colors that are next to each other on the color wheel---red, orange and yellow, blue and purple, etc.),  and complementary (colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel---red and green, blue and orange, yellow and purple).  Using complementary colors will give you high color contrast, and using analogous colors will give a softer contrast.
For the purpose of flower arrangements, green is not a color unless you're using green flowers.  All plants have green, so it's ignored.  So, you don't have to worry about making the foliage fit your color scheme.

Feel/Mood: Consider the feeling you want to create or complement.  Big, bold flowers for a little girl's fairy princess birthday party might not be the best choice.  Light airy flower and leaves might fit better.  Also, do you want the arrangement to be dramatic or subtle/soft?  A show-stopper or an accent?

Balance: An arrangement needs to look stable.  If it has a big bloom stretching way over past the edge of the vase, unless it has something to visually balance it, it will make people uncomfortable because it will look like it's about to fall over.  Large things have more visual weight then small things (surprise!), and dark things have more visual weight than light colored things.  Sometimes you can even provide balance with a knickknack next to the arrangement.

Symmetry: You probably already know the two kinds of symmetry--symmetrical and asymmetrical.  Symmetrical things are probably easier for beginners.  For asymmetrical arrangements, just keep in mind that things need visual balance.  

Here's a rule that is helpful for any artistic endeaver: step back once in a while.  It will help you see what's working and what isn't.  

Finally, have fun and experiment!  Remember, unlike painting, drawing, sculpture or other art forms, your materials are beautiful to begin with.  Your job is to show them off.

09 January 2012

Yearly Family Photo Books with Blurb

It's that time again--time to make our 2011 Family Photo Book.

I don't do scrapbooks.  I like them, and I'm impressed with those who do do scrapbooks, but they're not for me.  My own personal style tends more towards simple--no embellishments, just pictures and some text.  And that's why I use Blurb.

A girl at my church showed me a Blurb photo book she made with her wedding pictures, and it was lovely.  So I tried it myself for my own wedding pictures and loved it.  I thought Blurb was really easy to use, their books are great quality, and the price was not bad, either.  And I've made one photo book each year since.

Here are a few of the Blurb books I've made.  (Notice the nice hardback binding!  These are quality books!)

And here's the back of our 2009 book.  (Aww, look at that little face!)

I think the best thing about making these yearly books is that all the many many pictures we take each year don't end up just forgotten on the computer's hard drive.  Each year, I go through, pick out the best, and they actually get printed.

And they make wonderful wedding presents, too.  Made a couple of those.

There are five book sizes of photo books to choose from.  I make my books at 7" x 7".
Your books can have as many as 440 pages.  But mine are usually 80.
There are four different binding methods to choose from.  I use Hardcover with ImageWrap, which means the cover art is printed on the book, as opposed to using a dust jacket.

And my 80 page, hardcover, ImageWrap 7" x 7" book costs $35.  Which when I shopped around, was the best price I found for a comparable product.

{This is not a sponsored post.  I just love Blurb and thought you might, too.}

04 January 2012

Rag Quilt Baby Quilt Tutorial

Ah, rag quilts.  They're easy to make, soft and fuzzy, and are already quilted by the time the blocks are put together.  I made this rag quilt for Boo before she was born, and I thought I'd share it with you today.

(Since I made this quilt before I started blogging, I'm a little short on in-progress pictures.  But the quilt is so easy to make, you don't really need them.)

You need:
fabric that frays.  I used flannel.  I've also seen rag quilts made of denim.
general sewing supplies

First, cut your fabric into squares.  I cut mine to 5" square, and I cut out 110 squares.  This made a nice sized baby quilt.  Of course, you could use more or fewer squares, or make the squares larger or smaller--it's a very flexible project!

Then cut your batting into smaller squares--take off 1" from the height and width.  So I cut my batting to 4" square.  I just did this with scissors--precision isn't terribly important.  You'll need half as many batting squares as fabric squares.

Sandwich together fabric + batting + fabric, right sides of fabric facing out.  You can pin them if you like, but they'll probably stay together just fine without pins.

Now, take each square and sew around all four edges with a 1/2" seam allowance.  (Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end.)  While you're at it, go ahead and sew inside the square to quilt the blanket.  I made X's on my squares...

...But  a single diagonal line would be lots faster.  You could even sew cute shapes, or just squiggle down the square.

Once all your squares are sewn (and quilted!  Isn't it nice to have that done already?) then it's time to put them together into a quilt.

Take two squares and set them on top of each other, right sides facing out.  (There may not be much of a difference between the two sides, in which case you just need to make sure your seams all end up on the same side of the quilt.)  Sew them together, going over your sewing line from sewing around the squares.

Continue until you have all your squares made into rows, then sew all your rows to each other.

(Woo-hoo!  Almost done!)

Now it's time to clip the seam allowances so the fabric frays nicely.  Be sure you don't cut through your seams, though!  I made my clips every 1/2" or so.

You'll probably want to use scissors with a spring in them, to help your hands not get too tired out from making all those little cuts.

 Now all that's left is to send the quilt through the washing machine to encourage the nice fraying-fluffyness.  Wash it at a laundromat the first time or two--you don't want that much lint in your machines!  After that, you can stick it in the wash like normal.

I just realized another nice thing about making a baby quilt rag quilt style--all those baby-induced washings will just make the quilt all the more nicely frayed!

And speaking of babies, mine is waking up.  I'm going to lose nap times one of these days--not looking forward to it.  (Boo, you can keep taking naps as long as you want!  I really wouldn't mind!)

Happy crafting!

02 January 2012

I thought I'd try out a new craft--Designing Fabric!

My MIL thought I'd be good at designing fabric, so I decided to give it a try.  Here's what I've come up with so far...

I'm working on a few others, but they're not done yet.  What do you think?  Which do you like best?  Do you have any ideas for future designs?

This is all just for fun right now (I don't know how I'd go about getting fabric-makers to actually produce my designs), but hey, I can dream!