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11  Skull and Bones Necklace and Earrings in Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: Reconstructed by keeperrox on: October 24, 2008 08:07:10 PM
I needed some jewelry to go with my Halloween costume, so I took a trip to the craft store(s) tonight.  I started at Joann's, because I also needed some tulle and a zipper, but they didn't have anything that really struck me.  I headed over to Michael's, and parused their jewelry section for a while.  I found a couple of things that could have worked, but I didn't really love them.  My costume is skull themed, so I figured I would grab some clay and just try my hand at making some skulls.  I've never really worked with clay before (other than a few pottery classes, but still), so I wasn't wild about the idea.  Before checking out, I wandered over to the clearance section where they had a bunch of Halloween items.  Digging through the mess I found some plastic skulls, foam skulls, and some other bits and bobs that got the wheels turning.  Towards the bottom I struck gold!

I couldn't find this on their site, but it was on sale for $3.99, which was pretty much the lowest price of all the pendants and beads that I was looking at in the jewelry section anyway.  I'm pretty sure it's made of resin, because it's too heavy to be made of plastic and there aren't any seam lines on them.

I had a chain and jumprings at home (unfortunately, they aren't the same color as the rings on the skull and bones, but I really didn't want to spend more money), so I just picked up some sterling earwires (again, wrong color, but my ears are sensitive) and this is what I came up with.  Don't mind the dark eye makeup, I was giving it a test run tonight, too.

Tell me what you think!
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12  Re: Black Apple Doll Gallery in The Swap Gallery by keeperrox on: October 21, 2008 10:46:28 AM
Everyone, meet Maggie!  Trisha2010 was such a wonderful partner and crafted such a gorgeous little dollie.  I think I will be putting it away for any future daughter I have, as I feel she deserves the kind of love only a child can give a doll.  Without further ado, here is Maggie, complete with linen (look?) and satin dress, linen capris, felt booties, and linen and lace bonnet with a satin lining:

The card reads: Hello!  My name is Maggie, but my friends call me Magpie! (Because I collect shiny stuff)  My most favorite food is celery... and the best season of the year is Spring!  Some of my hobbies include marbles, and dumpster diving. (People stupidly throw away the most wonderful treasures!  Silly them)  I am so happy to be living with you now, and I hope we become the most bestest friends!!  Love, Maggie

She was almost completely handstitched (I know!) and her face was handpainted.

She also has what seems to be a painted undershirt on under her beautiful dress.

Her cute little capris have a little patch pocket on the back.

Along with Maggie, my fabulous partner sent along some fabric and buttons to make some more coordinating outfits.

Also, she made some shrinky charms out of her drawings.

The whole package was perfect.  I will truly cherish her for a long time to come.
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13  Re: Black Apple Doll Gallery in The Swap Gallery by keeperrox on: October 19, 2008 09:40:51 PM
Trisha2010, I'm so relieved you like it.  I know I didn't go for the fairytale themes, so I was worried that you would be disappointed.  The second face just wasn't right, either.  The practice face came out so well.  I wish I could have just taken that and made her face from it.  It just looks less wonky.

The one eye on the left looks better as does the coloring in both, the shape of the mouth is nicer, and the shading on the nose came out better.  I've never really painted before, though.  So I didn't really know what I was doing either time.
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14  Re: Help!!! Joann's Home Decorating Fabric in Interior Decorating: Discussion and Questions by keeperrox on: October 19, 2008 09:19:45 PM
It's a heavier woven cotton that is printed in various patterns (striped, geometrics, florals, etc.).  In my Joann's, its located over by the special order stuff, but it's on regular shelves like any other bolt.  I used it here, on my couch facelift:

I've also used a Hawiian Floral print in navy and cream on my beach bag.  I used a yellow, teal, navy, and cream stripe for the lining and straps. 

I checked out the website, but I didn't see anything in their signature series.  This stuff that I'm looking for isn't anymore than $8-$10 a yard.
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15  Meet Francine, the Black Apple Doll (10 pics) in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by keeperrox on: October 19, 2008 06:28:57 PM
I don't normally post things I make for swaps, but I was really proud of all the work that went into this one.  She was the first doll I have ever made, so I felt that she deserved her own post.  Plus, I thought I did something pretty neat with her face(s), and I thought this might give someone else some inspiration.  Her new owner has named her Francine, which I think is quite fitting.

My partner and I agreed to make a muslin doll, with changeable outfits.  That got me thinking about different faces that would match.

Her hair is attached only at the top, so it flips to reveal either mood - in this case, awake or asleep.

Unfortunately, I liked the face I painted for the practice run much better.

Overall, I'm happy with the way her faces turned out though.

I also made 3 outfits.

Autumn Flirty-Skirty (Floral top, Corduroy Skirt, Red Beret, and Red Mary Janes)

Prima-Ballerina (Sparkly purple top, Eggplant tutu, and Cream ballet slippers)

Goodnight, Sleep tight (Flannel Argyle nightie, Argyle and minky blanket and pillow, and cream wool felt bunny)

And here she is all packed up, snuggled tight, and ready to go!

With the exception of the cream wool felt, everything else was made with things from my stash (all fabric, paints, poly-fill, and other notions!), so even though I have put a moratorium on swaps for a while, I thought this one was okay to join!

Comments, questions, criticisms, and all else appreciated and welcomed!
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16  New to Embroidery - Need Guidance in Needlework: Discussion and Questions by keeperrox on: October 12, 2008 02:36:35 PM
Recently I found this Porche drawing of a Volkswagen Beetle. 

My husband has a minor obsession with VWs (he owns a '73 and collects anything VW related), and I want to replicate is somehow for him for Christmas.  I printed it out, and then traced over the main lines of the drawing with a thin black Sharpie.  I then traced it on to some plain white muslin and I want to embroider it in black.  I've never really embroidered before, so I'm not really sure where to go from here.  What stitch would be appropriate for this?  Should I use all 6 strands or split it into something thinner? Any help or tips you have to offer would be greatly appreciated!
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17  Chicken and Asparagus Pasta in Recipes and Cooking Tips by keeperrox on: September 26, 2008 09:33:42 PM
Chicken and Asparagus Pasta

This is something that I make at least once every other week from fall through spring. The sauce for this dish is created with chicken stock. You can use a variety of protein selections (or leave them out entirely) and vegetables.  It's a recipe I modified quite a bit from one in Cook's Illustrated The Best Light Recipes. Serve it with some toasted garlic bread and a nice white wine. Note the optional changes at the end of the recipe.

  • 1 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, diced
  • 12 sun-dried tomatoes, julienne
  • 1 head garlic; cloves minced or pressed
  • 1 tbsp anchovy paste
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock (low-sodium recommended)
  • 1- 14.5 oz diced tomatoes
  • 1 pound rotini pasta (I used gamelli this time around)
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup Romano cheese

1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil for both the asparagus and the pasta.

2. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tbsp of oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan (12 inch or larger). Add chicken to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes each side. Remove from pan and cover with foil.

3. Add an additional 2 tbsp of oil to the pan; reduce heat to medium, and sauté the onion, bell peppers, and sun-dried tomatoes until the onion and peppers begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic, anchovy paste, and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.

4. Increase heat to medium-high and deglaze pan by pouring chicken broth directly into the center of the pan, scraping up any brown bits. Slice the chicken breasts into bit sized pieces and return to the pan to finish cooking. Add diced tomatoes with their juice, reduce heat to medium low, and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.

5. While sauce is simmering, add 1 tbsp of salt and asparagus to boiling water and cook until bright green, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer asparagus to a large dinner plate to allow to cool slightly.  Do NOT shock in ice water, because the asparagus will never get warm enough when it's added to the pasta.

6. Return water to a boil and cook according to package directions for al dente. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water and drain the pasta.

7. In a large serving bowl, toss the pasta with 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Pour the sauce over the pasta, add the asparagus, fresh basil, and Romano cheese, and toss together. Add salt and pepper to taste and reserved pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Serve immediately.

NOTE: Because there are so many flavors in this dish, things can be omitted with few problems. Make sure to add liquid if you omit an ingredient that would add it to the dish. I often add cooked, crumbled hot Italian sausage to this as well (as seen above). The asparagus can be substituted with broccoli or even spinach. There are so many options; use this recipe as a starting point and allow yourself to be creative!

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18  Couch Facelift, plus advice wanted! 7 pics in Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General by keeperrox on: September 26, 2008 09:13:27 PM
Hubby got a new job last November that's 75 miles away.  In May, we put the house on the market.  That ordeal is another story for another time.  However, the couch in our living room is pretty much disgusting.  I hate to think that when people come to see the house they might be inspecting my couch.  It's just about 6 years old, and it's been with us in 2 apartments and now this house.  We got it before we had dogs in a color that worked for 2 relatively neat and clean adults, but in just under 3 years, they've pretty much destroyed it. 

As you can see, it is stained beyond what I can keep clean, and from the dogs standing on arm to look out the window, it has become threadbare. 

Here is one of the culprits.

(The green color inside the bone is a piece of foam from his dog bed that I just realized was in there.)

We don't want to purchase another couch before we move, because obviously we won't know what will work in our next home.  So for now, I've done a few things to perk it up a bit.

I made very rudimentary arm covers, to mask the area that the dogs wore out and stained.  Here is where I need some advice. 

As you can see here, below the curve in the frame, the cover is quite loose.  Is there anything I can do now to make it more fitted?

Anyway, I also made throw pillows to replace the ones that came with the couch, because they were getting flat from over use and lumpy from washing.  I used Erin's tutorial from House on Hill Road for putting a zipper in a pillow cover, so now I can wash the covers, and the pillows won't suffer.  Here is what the entire couch looks like for now.

I purchased some very large pillow forms from Joann's a while ago to replace the back pillows.  I haven't found fabric yet, though.  I needed the new throw pillows for both couches in the room desperately, so now I'll have to match the fabric for them with the red striped fabric.  However, the throw pillow fabric matches the rug, so that worked out well.

This is the other couch in the room.  The covers are being washed tomorrow.

When we moved into the house, we needed seating for this wall, because the chair we used in apartment went into the sitting room.  We went the IKEA route and the style matches well enough.  These couches were never supposed to be permanent, but you know how that goes. The old throw pillows on this couch were ones that my hubby made for home-ec in middle school!  Well actually, hubby turned them in, but MIL made them.  They were gross, and were the real reason I made new throw pillows in the first place.

Comments, questions, and criticisms appreciated, as is an answer to my question about fitting the arm covers! Wink
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19  Re: how can i do this!????! in Sewing in General: Discussion and Questions by keeperrox on: August 20, 2008 09:52:06 PM
Assuming that you did, in fact, cut your fabric "on the bias", I would use your iron to curve your bias tape before you pin it to your shoulder strap pad.  This is what I do when I need to apply it to something that is more round than just curved.  Example:

I pre-curved the tape for this apron around the pocket, but not the bottom trim or the straps.

Hope this helps out some!
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20  Re: Make-A-Friend Swap Gallery in The Swap Gallery by keeperrox on: May 23, 2008 09:50:09 AM
My partner's camera is MIA, so here are the pictures I snapped before I sent everything off:

Everything together

Individual shots of the reusable grocery bags

Red lining

Blue lining

Green lining

I used freezer paper stencils and clipart images found here: http://www.wondercliparts.com/holidays/earth_day/

Here they are folded into their little pouches

For the large item, I made her 2 skirts with Amy Butler fabric from my stash.  They are drawstring with contrasting ties.  I make these for myself and wear them all the time, with t-shirts in the spring, tank tops in the summer, and layers in the fall.  I hope she likes them and would LOVE to see action shots!

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