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11  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Zipper Critters...with tut. Very pic heavy on: November 11, 2016 11:40:30 AM
Every year I try to come up with something new for the sewing table at our church's fund raising Holiday craft fair. It's a very nice fair with lots of hand made and one of a kind items.

I felt the need to make cute little critters this year and these little guys can hold a special little treasure or note. I plan on filling the pouches with a treat before luring in prospective purchasers.

They have big eyes and a little pouch protected by big zipper teeth. Note: I added a photo at step 3.

I've made patterns for all the critters, but with a few modifications, they could become anything!
- Contrasting fabrics for the body and belly
- Contrasting lining
- Felt for eyes, noses, beaks, heart, etc.
- Sport zipper. 7"-9", I actually prefer the longer one. You will be cutting off part of the zipper. Any zipper will work in a pinch.
- Poly stuffing
- Goodies to hide in pouch

I don't normally cut out the bodies until I'm ready to assemble, then stitch around the complete body as one of the last steps. But if you prefer to cut out the bodies, remember to add a 1/4" seam allowance.

Step 1: Prepare the front
- Cut out and applique the eyes, nose/tooth/beak, belly, tongue (if any), and heart. I use a fancy stitch on my sewing machine (it looks like a row of plus signs), but any applique method would work. Iron on interfacing works as well. Cut the front in half on the zipper line.

Step 2: Install the zipper
-Cut an approximate 2" x 3" piece of fabric from the body color. Fold in half and place over the top end of the zipper to shorten it (see the pictures). Stitch on each side to anchor. Leave the pull on the outside end. We'll be slipping that under this piece later. This way you don't have to try to stitch neatly around that bulky pull.
- Cut a piece of contrasting lining to match the upper and lower pieces of the front.
- Right sides together, stitch the top of the bottom front pieces to the zipper as shown below. Don't stitch too close to the zipper or you won't be able to slip the zipper pull under the fabric stop. Fold the pieces down and press. Top stitch.
- Repeat with the upper half. Note: for the dog/bunny, I shortened the upper lining to just below the ears.
- Now slip the zipper pull to the other side of the fabric zipper stop and trim the zipper away to just inside the body stitching line.

Step 3: Prepare the back and inside lining.
- Cut out the back. Stitch the back seam and tail leaving an opening in the center back for turning. Trim. Clip all curved seams and above and below the tail. Turn the tail and press the back seam open.
- Cut a piece of lining the same size as the finished back. For the dog/bunny, I shortened the lining to just under the ears. Add the lining to the inside side of the front. For the dog/bunny, it sewed the tops of the lining together just below the ears. See picture below.
- Note: I just noticed there is no piece for the Kandy Korn back. Fold the front pattern in half to create the back. Sew the top two colors together first and then treat as one piece when assembling.

Step 4: Join the front and back
- Match the front and back, right sides facing. I cut out the front pattern piece and pinned to the back to use as a stitching line. If you cut the fabric with a 1/4" seam allowance, match up all sides. Stitch around the complete body.
- Trim and clip all curves. Turn the body inside out.
- For the dog only, press the ears and fold over to the front. Stitch across the ears to create a floppy ear effect. You will be stuffing up to this fold/stitch line. See top photo.
- Stuff the critter starting with the ears and tails. Don't over stuff you you won't be able to fit anything in the zipper pouch.

Pattern pieces: These were made to fit on an 8 1/2 by 11 inch sheet. Enlarge or reduce for different size creatures. They are all about 6 - 7 inches tall when finished.  If you want a PDF of the patterns, PM me with your email and I will send you the set.

12  Halloween / Halloween Costumes / Baba Yaga and her House on Chicken Legs - Where will she go next - Pic heavy on: November 04, 2016 10:06:50 AM
This year was the Second Annual Trick or Trunk at our church. It was so fun to see all the decorated trunks and decorated kids. They (and we) had so much fun.

I love witches, especially old folk tale witches and Baba Yaga and her house that runs around on chicken legs is a favorite. I was so impressed that more kids recognized me than adults.

Everything was from my stash or old clothes except for the cardboard display board that became the basis for the house. Creating from stash is so fun!

The house was the most fun. Finding the black cardboard display board made it so much easier. Boxes for roof, window/door trim, details. Paper bags for siding. A crow, a skull or two and a string of candy corn lights that I picked up a few years ago on a dollar table. And lots of paint. I have a Diehard battery pack for jumping my car that has outlets. That made lighting the car so easy.

And Chicken Legs...made from chicken wire and paper mache. Toes were courtesy of paper toilet cores.

The mask was formed over a wig head and with an eye mask attached. I just kept adding layers and bits of paper mache until she looked wicked. I must have put 20 layers of paint, crackle, paint, more texture, various aging and coloring techniques. Until I was happy with the results...and a few moles.

The Hair was various strands of white and gray yarn, some unraveled, sewed to a lace piece, covered with a head scarf. It worked out well and used up lots of bits of yarn.

The costume was made from:
- some rust colored corduroy for the skirt
- an old linen shirt for the apron
- another linen shirt for Baba's shirt minus the collar and cuffs
- another woven brown shirt for the stole plus some patchwork and fringe
- old hiking boots and thermal underwear (it was quite a nice night, cool, but calm and pleasant!)
- a twig broomstick. She rides around in a mortar, propelled by sweeping with a broomstick.

13  Halloween / Halloween Decor and Parties / Little skulls all in a row...with tut on: October 01, 2016 03:21:17 PM
I needed a string of skull lights for Halloween decorations, but I can't find any this year. Eyeballs and pumpkins, but no skulls. I haven't really searched anywhere, I draw the line at 3 stops. I did find little skulls, but at a rather high price. I have a rule about Halloween costumes and deco....the cheaper the better and if I can make it, so much better and fun.

So I made some skulls.

I took two styrofoam balls, one about 2 1/2 inches and one smaller, maybe 1" I cut the smaller one in half to serve as the lower face/jaw and wrapped both in plastic wrap. I made two of these. I should have made more as waiting for the paper mache to dry slowed the process. After the first set, the second set stuck to the plastic, so I coated the form with a bit of vaseline. You could make larger ones with larger balls or balloons.

I made dents for the eyes. I used a 2-1 mix of Elmer's glue and water and newspaper torn into strips. I used about 3 layers of paper.

Then I trimmed and painted with a layer of black, some cracking with a layer of glue and graypaint, a touch up layer, eyes and details, then a coat or two of gloss gel. I used a sharpie to draw the features. I did not go for realism, but character. They are not lights, but hung with white christmas lights, it should work.

I'll post the complete display when finished.
14  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: General / Stash buster patchwork wrap skirt on: September 02, 2016 02:21:59 PM
I love wrap skirts...they grow and shrink with you. And so comfy.

I have a patchwork wrap skirt made by women in Africa out of sun washed recycled fabric in yellows and blues. It's wonderfully worn, faded and unfortunately, falling apart. The skirt was not made very well in the first place and the fabrics are now, after many washings, just too thin. I've patched and sewn and hoped. But now I need a new one.

This is 100% from stash and I wanted a partial rainbow effect, or ombre effect with the patches. It was a bear to figure out and there were a few rip-rips along the way. I miscalculated the hem patches and had to add pieces to fill in.

I also changed my mind on several fabric choices, had to scrounge more and cut way too many blues...no problem, they became the tie belt.

I just love it!

I made a chart, but it still was a lot of figuring out along the way to get the colors to fall in the right places...somewhat. Keep in mind that you want the waist to be able to wrap at least 1/3 to 1/2 the way around you. The front hangs a little flat, so I wrap to get the diagonals in front. Vary the size of the squares or add more to get the width and length you want.

15  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / I love NINNIs! on: August 26, 2016 06:48:36 AM
I love these little Ninni swaps. They are so cute and easy to make and fun. Simply fun. Here's the gallery https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=449843.0

My partner loves Nancy Drew, so what better than a Ninni Drew, Nancy's little sister. She has a few of her sister's books, and Nancy's old flashlight and magnifying glass.

The props were made out of paper clay and painted. The lens is a large flat glass marble thingy and the lens of the flashlight is a small jiggly eye. The books were simply printed out old covers.

The pleated skirt was the hardest. I had not made little pleats since my DD was just a little thing (she's in her 30's now). But I managed, it's a bit wonky, but looks good on Ninni. I made the back plain, no costume/embellishments...is that cheating? And the bag was repurposed from another doll I received in a swap. My friends niece co-opted the doll and the bag stayed behind. Sometimes you just have to let them find their own home.

16  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Oh baby, what happened to you? on: July 01, 2016 01:25:21 PM

I picked up a porcelain baby doll at a yard sale, ill fitting dress and minimal features. To me she was creepy. So what did I do? Make her even more creepy. Luckily, she is now living with WiccadWitch, who seems to love her more than I could. It's nice when your children are loved by someone else. Here she is in her innocent glory.

She hit the terrible twos and look at her now.

I used alcohol to clean the porcelain parts then coated her with several layers of gesso, sanding between coats. Then I painted her black. I used the tried and true "Elmer's glue cracked paint" technique to get the cracked look. You paint on Elmer's glue, medium thick, let it get a bit tacky (don't wait too long), then paint a to coat of acrylic paint. I used an off white craft paint. Let it dry. You don't have to cover the area completely with glue, in fact it looks a bit more realistic if you leave some areas uncracked. I wanted a very aged look, so I was a bit heavy handed.

The wounds were drawn/painted on, with a heavier white craft glue and left to dry. It left a raised area that I then painted with dark red blood and black stitches. I used black and brown pastels to create additional ageing, a coat of gloss gel, then more ageing with brown distressing ink. The ink runs a bit when you put a coat of gloss gel over it, but that actually worked well.

Her dress was made from an old cotton table runner. I made up the pattern as I went, lots of experience with doll clothes  here. And I wasn't too concerned if it fit her well, I wanted it a bit loose. Then I aged, ripped and bloodied it up.

She needed to travel safely, so I made a coffin packing case to fit inside the shipping box. That was fun, and ended up presenting her quite nicely. A spider web veil and she left in style. I truely could not keep her myself, my wife just could not bear to look at her! Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy

17  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Lagertha Dotee - Viking warrior on: June 05, 2016 05:13:30 PM
Ah, the joy of creating dolls with no arms or legs...it is so much fun. She comes equipped with her shield and sword, dressed in her mail. She just stepped out of the History channel's Vikings.

18  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / Kumihimo Viking bracelet - melding of cultures on: June 05, 2016 05:07:25 PM
In a recent swap, I wanted to make a viking style wrist cuff/bracelet but working in metal was out of the question (and budget). So I made several items using kumihimo weaving, silver satin cord, and waxed black cord. I wanted to mimic the twisted silver look of some of the cuffs.

 I finished the first bracelet and it was too short....and one of the end caps was damaged. Note to self: Inspect jewelry findings before using lots of glue. So it became a key fob. I'm not sure the Vikings had much use for keys...does anyone know?

The second round went much smoother. I made my own weaving disk out of thick foam and it was really easy and fun. I made two sizes, just for fun.

19  CLOTHING / Costumes: Completed Projects / How to make fake (and comfy) chainmaille/chainmail TUT on: May 22, 2016 07:24:54 AM
When I make costumes, comfort is primary, not realism. I applaud those that make period clothing and strive for authenticity, but those old timey folks were often not comfortable. I mean who wants to wear a stone weight ot chainmaille?

So to create a set of arm guards, I wanted some chainmaille to protect those vulnerable wrists and forearms, but did not like the idea of linking 100's of rings together or sewing with them.

YouTube came to the rescue again. I have to say that my first attempt did not really resemble chainmaille, but was easy and for a costume at a dimly lit party, would do. Especially if drinks are free!

*An old sweater or knitted length of fabric. Garter stitch (knit each row), stockinette stitch (knit one row, pearl one row), or the inside of an old sweater.
*Black spray paint
*Silver spray paint
*Well ventilated area, or do this outside. You will also have to let the fabric breathe and cure for at least a week, mine gave off fumes for quite a while.

The back side of of knitted stockinette stitch, or even better, garter stitch looks rather like chain fabric. A heavy weight yarn and big needles would do the trick. Or a thrift store (or back of the closet) sweater. Turn it inside out and take a look.  The smoother and thicker the yarn, the better the look. Think of comfort too. 100% wool can be scritchy, so a blend, cotton, or a manmade yarn would be best.

I knitted up a length of some 100% wool, rather scratchy, rusty orange wool...it was the thickest yarn I had. In the future, I would use something less fuzzy. Big needles made it go fast. Then the cat helped by becoming quite fond of the sample and mangling it a bit. Did I say this was wool with quite a bit of lanolin still present?

I stapled it to a piece of cardboard and gave it two coats of black spray paint. Depending on the color, you might want to spray the other side as well. I used a rusty color yarn, so my maille looks like it's a bit rusted...I like that.

Then a coat or two of silver. I also added a clear gloss layer that did not really do anything.

Then I sewed it into my wrist guards. Simple. The final fabric is stiffer, but still flexible. As you bend the fabric, more of the original yarn will show. Dying the sweater to a darker or rust color first.

20  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Paper Mache Garden Gnomes for a Spoof! on: April 04, 2016 02:16:04 PM
My  wife is a sexton for a church. This involves maintaining the grounds as well. This winter an area washed out and a member helped shore up and replant an area. As they were working, they decided that the area needed garden gnomes, at least long enough to spoof the building and grounds committee (who don't really go for garden gnomes on church property, I really don't know what is wrong with them!).

But the search for gnomes was in vain, they were either hibernating, on holiday, or down south for the winter. Not one of them were willing to come to the Northeast and stand in chilly mud.

So one Friday evening we raided the newspaper pile, grabbed tape, tubes, and watered down glue and made a couple of gnomes. We definitely had different visions of gnomes, but they both seemed happy. The drying time made us a bit nervous, but they got painted and were in place by Monday evening.

It was a big success. Very stony reception to the gnomes! Until the giggles started. The gnomes refused to stay out overnight and now reside amongst the plants in the office admins office. No one tells her what decorations she can have in her office.  Cheesy

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