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1  Archive of Past Craftster Challenge Entries / CHALLENGE 94 ENTRIES / Teal and Red Gingerbread Tudor on: January 01, 2014 05:10:35 PM
So there's a bit of a back story before I get to my 2013 house.  My family and I have been making homemade gingerbread houses almost every year since 1984 (when I was 1)- so far, we've done over 25 different houses- and in recent years, they've gotten more complicated with my mom designing and drafting houses, my dad building special cutters so that my mom could cut out intricate designs for windows, to wiring the houses for lighting, and so much more.
(Here's all of our old houses : http://handmadeisbetterblog.com/2013/12/03/gingerbread-house/ )

This past summer, I got married and had to move cross country (my hubby is in the Air Force- we're stationed in WA and my family is back home in NJ).  I couldn't *not* make a gingerbread house this year so my mom mailed me her recipe and one of our old patterns and coached me through the art of gingerbread house making.
One of our traditions is to make two houses- one for ourselves and either donate the second one or invite another family over to decorate the second one, so I did just that as well-- we invited over some friends of ours to make the second house.

This year I went with a teal and red theme (do you know how hard it is to find teal colored candy at Christmas? lol).  I may have gone a bit overboard with the decorating, but isn't that half the fun of it?
So for my "first" house, I'm pretty proud of how it turned out!
Without further adu- my 2013 gingerbread house!



The other side

Close up of the roof

Close up of the front

Close up of the side

My husband is a pilot so of course there's a runway on the side of the house Wink

Here's both houses- my friends on the left and mine on the right!

Thank you for checking out my entry! I hope you loved it!
2  Halloween / Halloween Costumes / Guess What Day It Is? Hump Day! Camel Costume on: November 03, 2013 09:28:34 AM
Guess what day it is? Guess. What. Day. It. Is. Mike Mike Mike Mike Mike Mike Mike Mike. Hump Day! Woop wooooop!

Yes, my husband and I went as the Geico "Hump Day" commercial.  I have to give my husband credit though- it was his idea!  I'm pretty sure he was only joking when he said "we should go as a camel" a few weeks ago
The funny thing is, his name is Mike, and every Wednesday when he wakes up, I'm greeted with a big ole "Guess what day it is?!?!", so it only seemed natural that we go as the commercial.

*Note* This post isn't done- these are just some crappy cell phone pictures that I took the night we wore it.  We live in Washington, and it's been nothing but rain and snow the past few days, so as soon as the weather clears up, I do plan on going out and getting better pictures of my costume, so be sure to check back!

I went as the camel, and we made my husband a hump day shirt and Geico hat to go with it.  Here's a quick shot of my costume for the thumbnail pic:

I used fleece and fur and this pattern as the general base for my costume, and then I made the camel hump and head from scratch

The hump was basically made by cutting two "D" shaped pieces of fabric, sewing them together and then sewing them to the back of the fleece "shirt" I made.  Here's an action shot of the hump being modeled by our dog (who obviously wasn't too pleased)

The hump:

For the head, I used the basic "hood" part of the pattern I posted above, and then added the nose from a pattern I created.  The "fur" on top of his head was a simple yarn pom pom, and the eyes, eyelashes and nostrils were felt.  The head is what took me the longest- the better part of one day to design and sew, but I'm pretty proud with how it came out!

For my husband's "costume" we used clip art to design a simple t-shirt and brought it to the mall where they have a store that makes up shirts for you.  I also made him a "Geico" logo and attached it to a hat

I didn't make the whole "jumpsuit" that the pattern called for, but rather cut it off just below the waist, gave it an elastic casing, added a tail, and paired it with a pair of leggings and brown boots:

We were a hit at the costume contest at our local bar!

And just for good measure- we carved a camel pumpkin this year as well  Wink
3  GLASS CRAFTS / Glass Crafts: Completed Projects / Tiki Man and Retro Epcot Stained Glass on: February 20, 2011 07:01:28 AM
A local artist guild recently offered a 6 week stained glass class-- I do a lot of fused glass, but never stained glass (Althought I've always wanted to learn).  I'm 5 weeks into the class, and just wanted to show off my first two pieces.

The first piece I did was a Tiki Man

The second piece I did was the retro Epcot logo (a bit more difficult considering all of the curves)

Thanks for looking!
4  Archive of Past Craftster Challenge Entries / CHALLENGE 58 ENTRIES / Aloha! Tropical Tiki Hut on: January 03, 2011 09:40:13 AM

A little back story--
My family has been making Gingerbread houses for 25 years (this year was number 25!).  Usually we make one as a family, and sometimes we invite another family to make one with us as well.  My mom has been perfecting her recipe over the years, and it's fun to see the houses evolve.  We've gone from simple a-frame houses, to houses with bow windows and lights on the inside!
This year, I decided I was going to "stray" from the normal house (we still made a traditional one---my mom will be entering it in this contest as well) and make a Tiki Hut.  I don't know why I picked a Tiki Hut- I guess I was feeling tropical!

I used the same recipe as my mom, I designed the "hut" on paper first, then made a little construction paper template so I'd have pattern pieces to cut out of the dough.  We spent an entire Sunday baking, cutting, and drying all the pieces- and a good 4-5 hours of that also consisted of me moulding the green leaves, pink flowers and tiki faces from clay push molds.

A week or so later (after the pieces had sufficiently dried out and hardened) we had our night of gingerbread decorating!

Here are my pieces cut out and ready to bake:

After I assembled my hut and was waiting for it to dry, I decorated my accessories- here we have the gingerbread bartender, a life preserver, surfboard, guitar and boom box.

Overall view:

The back- Theres the beach, with some sweedish fishies and a pretzel crumb shoreline.  Also, a Mr. and Mrs. Tiki Face are guarding the back of the hut

Around front, the Ginger-tender is there to greet you with a cold one- Jack and Coke anyone?

After you're refreshed, relax under the umbrella on a plush pink towel.  Your favorite tunes are waiting for you inside this wonderful 80's style boom box!

Right behind you is the cooler- should you need another drink!

Even though we're on a tropical island, the hut has been lovingly decorated for the Holidays!

Continuing around the other side--- grab a seat at the bar, pick up the guitar and start strumming away...

One more full shot:

And last but not least- I thought the hut needed just one more thing.  And everything's better with Christmas lights, right?  So a mini pack of LED's was added after the hut was completed.

A few more artsy shots- I was playing with the bokeh (blurred lights) in the background-

I hope you enjoyed this little bit of paradise in an otherwise frigid winter!  Comments welcome and appreciated!  Grin
5  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / Goodwill Goodness turned Mitten/Hat set (with easy hat tutorial!) on: December 22, 2010 07:49:17 AM
I've been inspired by the different "repurposing" threads I've seen on here, so I set out to scour Goodwill to find the perfect 100% wool sweater to felt and turn into mittens.


I think I succeeded!

I found this wonderfully ugly sweater in the womans department:

I threw it in with everyone's wash for a week until it had sufficiently shrunk and felted.
Why is it that if you had a sweater that you DIDN'T want to shrink, it would shrink in one wash---yet this took 6 or 7 tries!)

I then made my patterns:

I lined up the edge of the mittens on the bottom of the sleeve for a tight cuff.  I also lined up the cuff of the hat on the bottom edge of the sweater for the same reason.

After about an hour or so of sewing, I had my new set!


I also made lining out of fleece and sewed it into the hat and mittens so they wouldn't be itchy.  Bonus--they make them super warm!

Because I was so in love with the sweater, I didn't want to mess it up if I had incorrectly figured my patterns---so I found a peach colored wool sweater in a local thrift store to practice on.  It came out just as nice, so I'm showing them off too  Wink


Since they're so plain, I'm thinking of doing a little embroidery on them, but I don't know what yet---maybe some cherry blossoms or snowflakes?

Tested in the snow--


Hat Tutorial

I searched all over Craftster for a fitted hat tutorial and came up with nothing, so I made my own.  It's easy peasy.
1. Measure the circumfrence of your head (where you'd want the bottom of the hat to fall).  Divide by 5 (because we are going to be making 5 panels) and add one inch (for a half inch seam allowance on each side).  For example- if your head is 30 inches, that divided by 5 is 6, plus one inch would be 7.  
2. Next measure from the crown of your head, down to where the bottom of the hat would fall.  (say that's 9 inches).  Add an inch or two if you would like a cuff (depending on how much you want to cuff it)
3. Cut out a rectangle those two dimensions (mine would be 9 inches by 7 inches).
4. Taper the top edge (as I did in my photo above).
5. Cut out five pieces, sew all 5 together in a large circle so the points meet at the top.  Finish the bottom edge by folding it under or over depending on your prefrence, and ta daaa!!  Perfectly fitted hat!

These make great gifts---thrifted sweater, plus about an hour of your time for sewing---you've got a great gift!
6  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / Retro Christmas Rag Quilt on: October 31, 2010 01:28:12 PM
I've made a few quilts in my time, but never a rag quilt before.  I fell in love with these flannel "retro" Christmas prints when I was in Lancaster, PA over the summer, but didn't purchase them.  Recently, I was poking around on Fabric.com (finally buying my Amy Butler Weekender bag pattern!) and since I needed to spend another $20 or so to qualify for free shipping, I went ahead and bought those flannels.  What better way to use a bunch of flannels then with a rag quilt!  I did a little google-ing to research how to make one (who knew the back was cut up into squares too?) and then went to town.

Finished product, just so a nice picture shows up in the thumbnail...

All my squares neatly stacked up:

A sampling of the prints:

Obligitory "cat in the shot" picture---he's lying on it after it was all pinned---ouch!

"This quilt is mine!  Allllll mine!"

After pinning, sewing, snipping (and lots of it---ugh my hands hurt!) and three runs through the washing machine, I deemed it sufficiently ragged.  I took it outside (on a blustery day) to photograph it, and here's my results!

My favorite picture:

The back---I ran out of squares for the back, so I used leftover squares from the front and ran them down the center.

Another cool picture--it really shows off the rag seams

All in all, I'm really happy with how it came out.  It was much more work then I had thought, but its the perfect sized lap quilt, very snuggly, and festive without being overly "Christmas".  I love how the colors are un-traditional, but still very cheery!

More "in progress" pictures on my blog:

C&C welcome!
7  GLASS CRAFTS / Glass Crafts: Completed Projects / Vino De-Lights - Light up wine bottles! on: October 29, 2010 08:30:27 AM
I've made a few of these before for craft shows, but decided that they would make great holiday gifts - so this challenge was a great excuse to get my tush in gear!

This first one is what I'm officially entering---I love these glass Evian bottles!  I saw them last year at Marshalls and bought a bunch of them just for this purpose!


With the lights off:

Close up of the "topper" (nothing more than some crystal beads from Michaels and a napkin holder from Kohls!)

Close up of the pretty lacy design printed on the bottle

Even though this one is made out of a water bottle, I usually make them out of wine bottles.  My dad drills a hole in the back with a diamond cutter, then I use my crochet hook to "stuff" a string of 20 lights in the hole.  After it is in, I use silicone to "plug" up the hole and give it a neater, finished look.
I decorate them with just about anything---silk flowers, beaded picks, ribbons, tulle, shells, etc

Even starfish and raffia! (I live at the Jersey Shore---beach themed housewares are huge around here!)

Oddly enough--I don't drink much, so that's where the true recycling comes in---people save me bottles with interesting lables, and I've even gotten some from local resturants.  

Thanks for looking!
8  Halloween / Halloween Costumes / Halloween Mickey Shirt on: October 06, 2010 11:42:10 AM
Last year, I was in Disney World for Halloween, and saw this shirt and fell in love with it.  Unfortunately, we arrived on Halloween, so the shirt was sold out in my size.  Like any Craftster, I took a picture of it, and using freezer paper, replicated it yesterday.

Here is an in-progress shot:

And the best part?  I used glow paint on the ghost!!

Action Shot:

Here's the original shirt:

Comments and Critiques welcome!
9  Archive of Past Craftster Challenge Entries / CHALLENGE 55 ENTRIES / Who Wouldn't Want To *BE* Mama? Cooking Mama Halloween Costume! on: October 01, 2010 10:08:49 AM
Forget wanting to be Martha Stewart---I want to be Cooking Mama!

Who wouldnt want to be Mama?  She can do it all!  First she came over and made some killer pot stickers.

But Mama is human, like the rest of us, and we all make mistakes, dont we?  Unfortunately the stove must have been on too high, and she burnt the pot stickers.
Dont worry, Mama will fix it.

She decided to take a whack at a different recipe, and moved onto baking.

Didnt her chocolate cake come out beautifully?

She was so happy!

Mama is so well rounded.  Not only is she wonderful in the kitchen, she works her magic in the garden as well!

But, just like in cooking, not everything goes as planned.  Not enough water, I guess  Sad

Recently, Mama ventured into the crafting world!  Shes tired of her yellow apron, and wanted a nice pink gingham apron to compliment her sparkly kerchief.

Shes such a jokster!

Oh no!  I guess the bobbin is in wrong!  Mama gets very angry when she has to use that darn seam ripper.  (Dont we all?)

Onto the nitty-gritty.  
Here is a close up of the sequin work.  It is in perfect rows to simulate pixels.

Close up of her eye:

One of Mamas Angry Eyes

I also made the felt food for the photo shoot:
Mamas Cake:

Other pastries not used in the photo shoot:

Pot stickers:

I also made a shrimp, but it came out weird.  
Obligatory cat in the shot picture

Shes got to get into everything!

So then I put it on her



And.onto the actual project.  This is Craftster, so no little project will do.  It must be Epic (yes---with a capital E).  I toyed around with perler beads, tile mosaic, cross stitch, beads, etc.  A "time to cook" clock idea floated around in my head (I still might do that), along with embroidered kitchen towels, a perler bead magnet set, and a few other things.  But none of them were EPIC!  I don't know when the idea actually hit me, but I decided to be Cooking Mama.  As in for Halloween.  An Epic Halloween costume.  Yes--that's it.  Now, what to make the "Pixel" images out of?  Squares of felt? Beads? Nope--you guessed it---not Epic enough.

SEQUINS!! Yes!  I'll pixelate her face out of sequins!

I started out by sketching her face onto some construction paper.

Then I transferred that image onto some inch foam, and cut it out.

I then cut out some flesh colored lycra slightly larger than the foam head, and gently wrapped it around the foam as if I was re-covering a cushion.

Be careful of that hot glue gun though!  OUCH!  This is what happened after the tip of my ring finger grazed some freshly placed hot glue, and in a state of panic, I ripped it off.along with the top few layers of skin.  Yeah.this put a damper on the project for a little while.


But, all was ok, and I was able to finish wrapping the foam.  (Sorry for the blur here---I had left my camera in my fiancs car, and have taken all of these pictures so far with my cell phone.)

Then I painted on the basic elements of Mamas face.  I did this for two reasonsone to give me an idea of where to place the sequins, and two, so that the areas between the sequins would have nice color as well.

The next step I dont have a picture of.  Take a look back at that first picture of sequins.  Yesits a multi pack of sequins.  And it must be separated.  This took hours.  I separated it into black, clear, brown, silver, two shades of pink, etc.  I separated and separated.  And separated.

After I had piles of all my colors, I began gluing the sequins down, one row at a time.  I used a ruler to make sure my lines of glue were straight to really give it the pixilated look.  Here is her kerchief done, and her hair outlined.

Here I am lying each sequin down.  By the time I got to the eyes and hair I got smart and started using a toothpick instead of my glue-covered fingers.

Close up

I dont have a picture of the finishing process, but I finished off the back of the head with some fusible white felt to make it neat, glued a foam hat from the dollar store on the back, and glued on a few layers of netting for the mouth.  I also made Mamas apron and some felt food for the photo shoot!

Thanks for lookingI hope you enjoyed Mamas venture into domestic life!

Edited to add:
Everyone else is stating how many "pixels" their project is, so I decided to count how many sequins I used.
Final verdict? 1,668 sequins!

The breakdown?
Flames-359 sequins
Eyes-210 sequins
Eyebrows- 16 sequins
Ears- 41 sequins
Hair Outline- 142 sequins
Hair- 468 sequins
Kerchief- 414 sequins
Both silver "hilights"- 18 sequins
10  NEEDLEWORK / Sublime Stitching Embroidery / Kurt Halsey Sublime Stitching on: September 06, 2010 05:37:57 PM
Be kind!  This is my first attempt into embroidery!

My sister is a huge fan of a local artist, Kurt Halsey.  Recently, she found this print that they sell as an embroidery iron on transfer, and I got the simple request of "make this please? k thanks" (Seriously--that's all she wrote).  Problem was, it was a small 4x4 print, and I have never embroidered before.  So I printed the picture, traced it onto some fabric and got to work stitching.

Here's a link to the print: http://www.sublimestitching.com/kurthalsey.html

Man is embroidery addictive!

I got this stitched up in one day, went out the next day and found this perfect frame and put it right in!
The stitching isn't perfect, and the fabric is a bit wonky, but I think she'll love it.  Now I have to wait three weeks until her birthday to give it to her, and the wait is killing me!
So I thought I'd share it here.

Here's the overall look of it:

A close up of the stitching:

Now I want to embroider everything!  Comments welcome!
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