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1  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Craftster: Inspiring and Sharing and Learning New Skill - Decorative Dish Towels on: August 13, 2013 10:03:12 PM
To me, Craftster is about sharing projects/ideas/information and encouraging others in their creative pursuits. This can lead to learning new skills and venturing into new areas of craft.

I love coming up with unique and useful handmade gifts for my friends and family. Since getting my embroidery machine a few years ago, customized dish towels and fuzzy blankets have become my go-to handmade gift. Since so many of my friends have them now, I was starting to struggle to come up with new designs that I liked. I decided to stretch myself to try something new, so I bought a few simple stock design and digitized my own text to go with them, based on an image that I saw printed on an apron in a boutique while on vacation several months ago.

My friend loved the towels...and now several other friends want the same towels. I think I know what everyone will be getting for the holidays this year.
2  GLASS CRAFTS / Glass Crafts: Completed Projects / Craftster: Inspired Crafting - Fused Glass Sewing Dish on: August 13, 2013 09:30:17 PM
To me, Craftster is about sharing projects, inspiring and encouraging others and receiving the same time.

It was based on the amazing projects that I found on the glass board that convinced me to take a local glass fusing class. Inspired by the pictorial rather than abstract dishes and tiles that I've seen here, in my final project of the class I combined glass fusing with my other passion, sewing. I used black frit on clear glass to roughly create the shape of an old sewing machine.

Prior to taking this glass fusing class, I had been pretty focused on sewing and never really ventured into other crafts. I now keep this dish displayed on the dresser in my bedroom to remind myself to continue to stretch and try new things while not giving up on my current projects.
3  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Craftster: Sharing and Encouraging - Cinnamon Swirl Bread on: August 11, 2013 06:22:06 PM
To me, Craftster is about sharing both successes and failures at trying new crafts and projects, encouraging others and getting encouragement at the same time.

Bread making is one of those projects that I've had recent success and failure with. About a year ago, I tried making cinnamon swirl bread. It looked good in the pan, but all of the cinnamon filling seeped though and hardened on the bottom of the bread pan, forming a sugary, gluey rock holding my bread to the pan.

Flash forward to last week, when I needed a last minute item to take to a morning party. I couldn't get cinnamon bread out of my head, and finally ended up giving it another try. To my relief, this time I was successful.

My main inspirations were these recipes from The Pioneer Woman and AllRecipes.

I don't have progress shots, but I basically followed dumped the bread dough ingredients in my bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer and let the machine do all of the work making the dough. After the dough was done, I rolled it out on a flour-covered cutting board. I doubled the recipe for the cinnamon filling in the AllRecipes recipe, poured it over the top then rolled it up and placed it seam side down in a greased bread pan.

My best advice is to make sure that the seam on the bottom of the roll is sealed tightly - maybe even rub a bit of water on your fingers to give extra moisture to the dough - if the seam isn't tight, the cinnamon and sugar filling will seep out the bottom and bake into the pan rather than the bread. Also, I let mine cool in the pan too long and it stuck a bit. Next time, I'll take it out of the pan as soon as it comes out of the oven and line the pan with parchment paper for easier cleanup.

The moral of this long, rambling story is: don't be upset if your first attempt at something new isn't successful - crafting and cooking take practice and a bit of luck.
4  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: General / Little Black "Go Anywhere" Dress on: July 07, 2013 08:35:49 PM
Here is my entry in the Little Black Dress Contest.

I have had this fabric and pattern (McCalls 6282) paired and sitting in my closet for several months, so this was great motivation to get it done.  I knew when I saw this fabric, a black knit with a subtle floral print in a raised texture, sitting on the clearance table at JoAnns that it was meant for this pattern.

I loved the lines and shape of the dress, but I didn't exactly follow the pattern. I knew from holding the pattern up that I was going to need to shorten it. I also knew that the gathers, as drafted, would be far too overwhelming on me. So, I used the lining pieces as my base, and added smaller gathers.

My 20 year-old brother, who usually doesn't care about my sewing saw this dress and immediately said it was the nicest thing I've ever made. When I got this fabric, I had thought it would make a casual dress. The consensus is that this pattern/fabric combination made a dress that looks far more expensive than it actually was. Which is great, because I now have an extremely versatile dress that I can wear on a number of different occasions from interviews/work to parties.

See more details on my blog
5  Archive of Past Craftster Challenge Entries / CHALLENGE 78 ENTRIES / The Back to Basics Backpack on: September 10, 2012 07:15:11 PM
I'm calling this the Back to Basics Backpack because it is deceptively simple.  No zippers or crazy gimmicks.  Just nice fabric and lots of space, making this backpack both cute and usable. 

The story behind this bag: Last spring, I made myself a backpack.  Just a big drawstring backpack in nice home decor fabric, with suede details.  I got tons of compliments on it, because it easily held all of the books that college English majors need to carry to class each day.  Most professors required specific editions of each book (and not electronic ones), so all those books add up and over-fill most cute store-bought bags.  One of my friends saw it and loved it, so when I saw this challenge, she and this backpack were the first things I thought of. 

I have a stash of home decor fabric samples from a great organization in California that takes fabric samples bound for landfills and redistributes them to teachers, local organizations, and general crafters.  I took one of those, and folded it until I got enough pieces to make the bag with no scraps leftover.  Then added some suede (or faux suede, as it may be) that my mom found at the flea market several years ago to fill in the gaps.  The back, bottom, straps, drawstring, and drawstring casing are suede).  I used a layer of fleece and neoprene to lightly pad the back of the backpack so it is comfortable to walk and bike with, since my friend bikes to school most days.  The backpack wound up  around 12 inches tall, 13 inches wide, and 5 inches deep, the same size as the one I had made that she originally liked.  There are small open pockets on either side, and several pockets on the inside for small things like keys, a wallet, and pens.  The flap has a magnetic snap with two choices to snap with on the body, for snug closure with different amounts of stuff in the bag.

Some detail photos:

The snaps, drawstring, and casing

The lining and inner pockets

I put the bag in the mail a few days ago, so she should have it before classes start.  Hope she likes it as much as I do.  My friend is lucky I graduated, or the backpack would have become mine.  One can never have too many bags, after all.
6  Archive of Past Craftster Challenge Entries / CHALLENGE 67 ENTRIES / Evelyn in Duct Tape on: October 09, 2011 10:56:22 AM
I have been loving this pattern for the Evelyn bag by ChrisWDesigns.  As soon as I saw this challenge, I knew I wanted to make a version of it in duct tape - perfect for the rainy season when any purse I use gets wet while biking in the rain.  I left off some of the pockets (like the elastic ones on the sides) because they wouldn't do well in the rain.  There is a zippered pocket on the back of the purse, and it closes with a magnetic snap.  I tried to use the black tape to put some details on the flap (a simple line and a bow), but the dark tape did not want to be photographed.  

7  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Mini Reusable Zippered "Book" Bag on: September 07, 2011 10:12:10 AM
As soon as I saw this contest's theme, I knew that I wanted to use Elizabeth Lowell's romance novel Beautiful Dreamer and that I wanted to make a reusable shopping bag (new shopping bag for the start of the new school year).  I love the story's focus on never giving up on a dream, as well as the image and colors on the book's cover.  I created a similar design to the front cover in photoshop, added two of my favorite quotes from the book and printed the image on iron-on transfer paper.  I then used this image to create a book-shaped zippered pouch to hold a folding reusable grocery bag. 

The bag, expanded and full of miscellaneous items

The finished zippered "book" bag next to the actual book

The front and back of the "book"

The quotes are: "In the midst of adversity they search for a beautiful dream big enough to hold them both" and "A dreamer is not a fool."
8  Archive of Past Craftster Challenge Entries / CHALLENGE 65 ENTRIES / Embroidered Memories Pillow on: August 08, 2011 10:17:46 AM
I just got back from a summer abroad trip in Australia.  It was an amazing trip filled with a variety of fun excursions and activities (and some classes).  Instead of buying a bunch of cheap souvenirs, I decided that with the rest of summer vacation, I am going to craft my trip.  This is the first of several projects.  It features the names of some (but not nearly all) of the places that we visited and things we saw while in Australia.  The designs are machine embroidered.  The text is done in Minstrel font (from Planet Embroidery) and I digitized the outline of Australia to go beneath these words.


9  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Convertible Grocery Tote/Backpack on: December 30, 2010 08:57:41 PM
A few weeks ago, I made myself a bag that converts from a shoulder/tote bag to a backpack.  I've used it for a variety of things including shopping, school and traveling.  One of my friends saw the prototype for this bag and commented that she'd love one in a sturdier fabric to use when she rides her bike to the grocery store, as it can be easily worn either as a messenger style or backpack when her small bike basket is full.  At this point, I had already nearly finished the gift I'd been planning to make her for the holidays, a padded case for her new GPS.  Then I saw this challenge and decided to make the bag to wrap the GPS case. 

This bag has a zippered pocket on the outside, a flat patch pocket on the inside, boxed corners and zips closed on top.  It has canvas as the exterior and is lined with a layer of vinyl, then cotton.  It also has fully adjustable straps, which can be used to change the bag from a shoulder bag to being a two strapped backpack.

As a shoulder bag, more like the typical grocery bag

As a backpack

And here's how I used it to wrap the GPS case.
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