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21  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Paper Crafts: Discussion and Questions / Need ideas for overabundance of wrapping paper! on: June 17, 2004 11:58:38 AM
So, there was a roll of really pretty wrapping paper left over at my work (it's from two seasons ago, and doesn't go with the current 'look' of our product), so I bought the whole thing for a few bucks... but now I have no idea what to do with it all! If I save it just for wrapping presents I'll be using it up for the rest of my life! It's so pretty; I thought I might use some to decoupage something, but I have nothing that needs decoupaging right now. Any and all other suggestions are welcome!

22  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / wall-hanging crazy quilt, with instructions! on: June 17, 2004 11:51:06 AM
I made this quilt as a Christmas present to my then-boyfriend, now-fiance.

The whole thing's just over a metre square; the nine panels are hand-stitched to a cotton backing from scraps of clothing and other fabric, then embellished with embroidery, ribbon, rick-rack, and so on.

It's hard to show through photographs, but I wanted this quilt to be really tactile, so I chose fabrics with lots of texture: corduroy, faux suede, satin, and so on.

First, I cut out my nine squares of backing fabric. Figure out how big you want your squares to be in the end product, and then make them about a quarter again the size --- this allows for seam allowance, and also for the inevitable bunching-up that happens when you sew lots of fabric together.

Start by laying one piece of quilt fabric onto your backing piece (in the centre is easiest) and then add another, and sew your first seam. Traditional crazy quilt technique says that you flip the fabrics right side together, and sew so that the seam will be hidden when you fold one piece back, but I found that didn't work well for more than one seam on any piece --- you can't sew one side of a triangle and then fold it back to sew another side, for example. So, using lots of pins, I folded the edge of each piece under, and sewed as close to the fold as I could, as neatly as possible (since the sewing will be exposed). Some fabrics fold better than others --- the ones that don't fold well are good in the centre of the panel, where they can just be laid flat and have their raw edges covered by the pieces around them.

Work your way towards the corners, laying piece over piece. Some fabrics look cool with a raw edge exposed, like frayed denim or something. Do a running stitch around the edge of the square, to make sure the fabric lays flat, but don't worry about it being too pretty --- the edges of the square will get trimmed.

Once you have your fabrics sewn on, you can decorate however you like. I used a variety of embroidery stitches to embellish the joins where two pieces of fabric meet; I also decorated these edges with ribbons. I filled in some of the plainer spaces with more embroidery, like initials, hearts, leaves, and flowers.

When your nine (or however many) pieces are finished, you need to lay them all out and figure out how best to trim them. Each square will have shrunken down a different amount, and in different directions, depending on what's been sewn to it. The easiest thing to do is to cut a piece of cardboard into a frame that's the size you want, and shift it around until you've got the best possible 'picture' in it. Then use soap or a fabric pencil to mark out the edges.

Cut out your border pieces (the black lines between the squares) and, with the vertical pieces, sew the squares together in long horizontal strips. Next, sew together the horizontal pieces and the little squares for where the lines intersect --- do this carefully, so the squares will line up with the vertical pieces when you match them up. Then, sew all the horizontal strips together, so you finally have the complete grid.

Next, measure your entire piece, side to side and top to bottom, and then cut the outside border pieces accordingly. Sew them on.

Then, you just need to add a backing --- some quilt batting gives a little bit of loft --- and attach the front to the back in several places. (I sewed around each square, with black thread, so it didn't interrupt any of the pattern on the quilt blocks themselves. Not the most elegant quilting you'll find, but subtle enough...

Last but not least, add some way to hang the piece. (This one hangs from a dowel threaded through a slot in the back lining; an alternative would be to make tabs to hang it by.)

23  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / multistrand necklace on: June 13, 2004 02:32:32 PM
I'm slowly getting ready for my wedding (next Sept.) and I wanted to make a necklace to wear on the big day. My grandmother's pearls looked too traditional with my dress, so...

I saw ads for multistrand necklaces like these in several wedding magazines, so I decided to make my own. Using glass beads in white, ivory, cream, and clear/irridescent, plus some Swarovsky crystals and freshwater pearls as accents, I threaded about fourteen strands onto a pretty clasp. (This clasp is designed with two rings on each side, so each ring holds seven strands of beads --- that way, it lies flatter against my neck than it would if all the strands were bunched on one ring.)

I varied each strand's length slightly, and sort of wove them together as I beaded them, so that the strands all jumble together and don't look too "organized". To spread out my small supply of pearls and crystals, I put them mainly in the front of the necklace, and used the cheaper glass beads for the rest.

I liked that I could vary the colour of the entire piece with each new strand --- if it was too white (my dress is a bone colour) I could add more ivory or cream to the next strand, and the whole effect would be corrected.

Note: this picture is NOT my dress! (Just in case my fiance sees this...  Wink)
24  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / more fabric flowers! and tutorials! yeah! on: June 13, 2004 02:19:01 PM
I wanted to make my little sister a special something for her birthday, and I know she's been admiring the fabric flower brooches in the shops lately, so rather than shell out the $30 CDN for a mass-market piece, I decided to make my own. This is loosely based on a design for a tulle hairpin that I found in (EEK) Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, but because I was working with organza instead of tulle, I couldn't do the folds quite the same way...

To make the petals, cut out a number of rectangles (about 2x4") of fabric. (I made about 24 petals for this flower, but you could make more or less, depending on the look you want.) Trim the top edge into a point, removing the upper corners --- basically, you want the shape of a gothic arch. Then, on each petal, fold the sides to the centre, and to the centre again, until you've gathered the fabric into a little scroll. Sew the bottom tightly together, and trim off any excess fabric. (I tried to take pictures of this process, but it's too fiddly to shop up well, especially with transparent fabric!) If you want the petals to be more curved than tubular, try folding the top edges in to the centre, and then folding the sides in --- the top will unfurl somewhat, but you get a more natural petal-like shape in the end.

Cut a small circle of fabric (something sturdy) and then start sewing the petals to it, one by one. Sew one at each compass poiint (quarters), and then fill in the gaps (eighths), and fill in the gaps again (sixteenths) until the circle is filled out. Then, repeat the process again to create a second tier of petals --- for best results, use slightly smaller petals for the second tier. If you like, add more tiers, until your flower looks full.

Sew a bead or button or whatever you like to the centre, to finish it off and to hide the stiching. I used a plain white glass bead, and then painted it with nail polish to match my fabric (white looked too cheap against the silver).

Sew a safety pin or brooch back to the back of the fabric circle. (Or, if you made a smaller flower, you could sew it to a bobby pin... Or you could attach the flower to a skirt or dress or whatever...)

(Apologies for the blurriness, I didn't want to use a flash because the organza was too reflective.)

I used the flower as a decoration on the rest of my gift to my sister, in coordinating silvery fabrics, but once they're unwrapped she can take off the flower and wear it!

25  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / gift for a cook in the family on: June 13, 2004 01:46:18 PM
Just thought I'd share an idea I put together a couple of years ago for my grandmother, who is a fantastic cook. Over the course of several visits to her place, I snuck around and collected her best recipes, copying them out late into the night. I typed them out, and asked each of my cousins, aunts, and uncles to write out their favourite one on a piece of card that I had cut to 4"x6". When I got them all back from the relatives, I compiled all the cards in a photo album, and added family picture throughout. This way, Granny has a collection of all her favourite recipes, made even more personal by having each of her loved ones add their own unique touches.

Then, because my family is spread out all over North America, I put all the recipes and many of the pictures together into a web-site, so that ALL of us can access them. Now, we all have access to her fabulous tourtiere recipe or her infamous pink mac-and-cheese whenever we want, wherever we want.

If anyone's interested, the site's at http://www3.sympatico.ca/anne.whitcombe/recipes.html --- happy cooking!
26  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / purses from pant legs! on: June 13, 2004 01:37:52 PM
If you're fond of making old jeans into cutoffs or reconstructing them into skirts, then you know that when you're done, you end up with the bottoms of pant legs lying around. I decided to take the bottom of a pair of jeans and turn it into a purse!

It's about as easy as you can get, since the side seams are already sewn, and the bottom (which becomes the top of the purse) is already hemmed. Basically, all you need to do is sew up the one raw edge (which becomes the bottom of the purse), add a handle, and decorate! I added a couple of other pieces of denim, frayed slightly to give a worn effect, and a collection of buttons as decoration, all sewn on by hand with contrasting thread. For the handle, I used an old belt that I wore as a kid, which was basically just cotton webbing with a sliding buckle that I left on because I thought it looked fun --- but you could use almost anything.
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