Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Leather Craft Night

There's nothing like a boozy craft night to turn a bad week into a good week.

My friend Jessica came across a huge supply of leather and was nice enough to share it with our friend Suzie and me. We ordered pizza, listened to the Lemonheads, and thumbed through craft books for inspiration.

Suzie cut out different colors to make a flower, loosely based on the necklace on the cover of 30-Minute Necklaces. She also braided leather strips to make what kind of looked like a lanyard keychain from our crafty kid days.

We were inspired by a lot of jewelry projects, like Mystery-Braided Leather Cuff
and Camp-Inspired Leather Crafts.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fabric-Covered Storage Boxes

Part of my Hurricane Sandy organizing meant dividing my craft supplies by craft -- sewing, embroidery, knitting -- to make everything easier to find.

I didn't have enough room in the closet, meaning some of these boxes are going to be out in the open on a shelf. If I'm going to look at these every day, they may as well be pretty!

I bought a plain white box from The Container Store for $4 and used a hot glue gun to cover that sucka in scrap fabric leftover from my Peony dress. Then I filled it with my embroidery supplies.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Crocheted Legwarmers

Fall means boots. It also means crocheted legwarmers.

The photo above appeared on the Martha Stewart Living Instagram, taken by my lovely coworker Justine, who always makes me look cooler than I actually am.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Organizing and Crafting

Thank you to everyone who emailed or messaged to check on me during Hurricane Sandy. A lot of my friends are still without power, some are even trapped in their homes because of power lines and trees. It's going to take a long time for things to be normal again.

I was fortunate that I didn't lose power and -- despite being scared -- managed to host a pretty fun hurricane party.

But one can only play the ukulele and watch 80s movies for so long. Halfway through the storm, I got an itch. An organizing itch.

I started with ribbon, placing the spools on a wire hanger that is more easily accessible than the fabric storage bins I keep them in.

I restacked my fabric in the bins so that I could easily see what was inside each one. I'm also going to donate a lot of fabric scraps to a local arts center.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Prettying Up the Table

One of my biggest issues at home is my kitchen table. It's my catch-all for mail, keys, notes, magazines -- anything I throw down as I walk into the apartment. I think Sew, Mama, Sew's table setting contest is the perfect opportunity to clean up the table and make it pretty.

The best part about my table? I used fabric from scraps and the giveaway table at work, so it didn't cost me anything!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I Ain't Afraid of No Silk

I hold myself back a lot when sewing. Buttonholes, zippers, bias tape -- at some point I have run from them and later been forced to conquer them. This was the case when my friend Liz asked me to alter some sleeves on a dress she was wearing to a wedding.

Alter some sleeves? No problem! But when I found out the dress was silk, I got a little worried. I had never worked with silk before and if I messed this up, Liz was going to look like a bag lady at the wedding. I bravely changed my machine needle, did some test stitches on a scrap of the silk, and whatdya know? It turned out pretty well.

In honor of my bravery, some of my favorite silk fabric picks.

Clockwise from top left:

Aqua/Gray Misc Jersey Prints from Mood Fabrics

Teal Green Dot Silk Jaquard from Denver Fabrics

Bone Floral Voile from Mood Fabrics

Champagne/Rose Floral Jersey Prints from Mood Fabrics

Viburnum Fleurs from Vogue Fabrics

What are you scared of when you're sewing? Maybe I can persuade you to try it!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Flowery Folky Peony Dress

I can't gush enough about Colette Patterns, and here's proof: I've made yet another Peony dress. You can see all the details -- including where I bought this amazing fabric -- in my post on Sew Weekly.

Sew Weekly is becoming a really great motivator for me and my sewing. I love seeing so many variations on one pattern.

Are you a Sew Weekly member? Let me know and I'll add you as a friend!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Craft Supplies for Grandparents

My parents are two of the coolest grandparents in the world. So when asked me to recommend some craft supplies that all grandmothers should have, I had a hard time narrowing down some of my niece and nephew's favorite stuff.

For you seasoned crafters, none of the supplies will come as a surprise. But they're perfect for grandparents who want to bond with their grandkids through crafting -- something we all support!

Let me know if you have any recomendations of your own. My niece and nephew would love to try them!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sewing Pattern Giveaway

It's once again time for Sew, Mama, Sew's Giveaway Day! I have the same patterns up for grabs as last time. These are my last two!

Simplicity 2381 Bags
Simplicity 2286 Misses' Pull-On Skirt with Trim Variations (Size A)

To enter, just follow my blog and then leave a comment below telling me what sewing project you're working on right now. Giveaway closes May 25 at 8 p.m. EST (5 p.m. PST).

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Meghan's Birthday Ring

Do you ever see something small and insignificant -- a button, a color, a flower -- that reminds you of a friend?

When I saw this bead, I immediately thought of my friend Meghan. She sometimes wears a jade bracelet (in this same color family), and coincidentally has a awesome pair of pants this color. It was only appropriate that I make the bead into a ring to give to her on her birthday.

And whaddya know? She was wearing the matching pants at her birthday party. Perfect.

What I liked about this project: Simple yet awesome

What I listened to while I made this project: The Moody Blues

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Cherry Blossom-Themed DC Trip

A few weeks ago, I felt like the earth was literally pulling me south. It was still cold in NYC, and I was feeling uninspired and just -- blah. So I went to Washington, DC.

My first order of business was to make a new tote. I got a canvas Baggu (on sale!) and used my printer and a craft knife to add iron-on cherry blossoms. Instant spring, yeah?

I hung out with good friends, staying in a house with a 24/7 built-in party. My friend Jess was awesome enough to do a full National Cherry Blossom Festival weekend with me, too. I absorbed enough inspiration to last me a few more months, or at least until my next trip south.

The Textile Museum had a really inspiring project called the Wishing Tree. A basket near the garden entrance held fabric strips that had wishes on them, and visitors could choose one to hang on the tree with all the other wishes. I chose one that said, "I wish everything will be just perfect." And then I tied that unrealistic wish right onto the tree while wearing my big sunglasses. (They wouldn't let me take photos inside, but you can see a lot of good images on their site.)

The Japanese flower arranging exhibit at the National Arboreum was also inspiring, although we didn't enjoy the bees swarming our heads outside.

What inspires you when you're in a creative funk?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Etsy Terrarium Workshop

My lovely Etsy terrarium, in a fishbowl I found in the giveaway bin at work

Making a terrarium is one of those things that's been on my to-do list for a while, but for various reasons (money, laziness) I never got around to it. A few weeks ago, Etsy Labs hosted Hands-On: Dirt, where Etsians like my friend Lynn and I could talk to CSA representatives, check out a vertical garden system, create seed bombs, and make terrariums.

I have a traumatic history with plants (see last summer's blog post dedicated to dead plants), so I'm excited to have a low-maintenance terrarium hanging out in my apartment.

As soon as I got home from the Etsy workshop, I signed up for the CSA (community-supported agriculture) in my neighborhood. This summer's gonna be all about fresh fruits and veggies, plus plants that will not die!

Lynn, showing her terrarium who's boss

The workstation, full of moss and other fun greenery. Is it weird that I wanted to roll around in it?

Lynn's terrarium in a cup

The photo booth is a must at every Etsy event!

Do you have any planting planned for summer?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Colette Patterns Spring/Summer Palette Challenge

I'm a huge fan of Colette Patterns. I own several of their patterns (one being the Peony pattern I made my owl dress from) and love browsing their blog for sewing ideas. So when the gals at Colette proposed a palette challenge, I said ooookay!

Colette Patterns Fall Palette Challenge

I created a Pinterest palette board to collect all my ideas. The palette that sparked my inspiration was a beach-themed fashion spread in Marie Claire, which is ironic because the beach is a very scary place for me during summer. It features a redheaded model in colors that I never really considered before, like melon and white. And they didn't eve airbrush her freckles out of the photos!

I'd like to make some skirts and shorts in these colors that I can pair with simple tops. I also like the idea of adding a taupe accessory, like the photo above with the mint green skirt, white top, and taupe belt. I don't have the confidence to wear colors like melon and taupe in clothing, but I could definitely try to pull it in with things like belts.

What colors are you going to wear this season? And do you think pale-skinned people like me can pull off colors like white and melon? I'm nervous!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Peony Owl Dress

At the beginning of the year I joined Sew Weekly's contributors to encourage myself to complete a few sewing projects this year. It took me 3 months to do it, but I finally posted a project. It's up on Sew Weekly now.
You might remember the owl dress from when I finally figured out how to properly install an invisible zipper. I did a lot more than install a zipper on this little baby. Gathers? Check. Facings? Yep.

I've worn this dress a few times since sewing it and always get a lot of compliments on it. It's not without its flaws, of course. (The back waist seams don't exactly meet...) But I'm really proud of it and definitely plan on using the Colette Peony pattern again several times.

I'm such a flake when it comes to finishing my sewing. What pushes you to complete projects?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Kid's Candy Land-Themed Birthday Party

Earlier this month, I showed you the fabric collages I made for my niece's 1st birthday.

Those weren't the only crafty things happening at that birthday!

My mom and sister-in-law put together an incredible Candy Land-themed birthday party for my niece -- nearly everything handmade by the two of them. It was so crazy awesome that I wrote about it for the Martha Stewart Family blog. You can see all the crafty candy insanity there!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Organizing Circular Knitting Needles

As part of my New Year's resolutions, I wanted to organize my craft supplies. One of the problems was my circular knitting needles. Something had to be done about this mess, so I consulted my favorite knitters in the Stitch n Bitch book. Jenanne Hassler's circular knitting needle holder to the rescue!

It doesn't exactly look neat and tidy, but it's a much easier way to store and find needles I need. I took me organizing all of these to realize my needle collection is seriously lacking in the smaller needles!

I shamefully present to you my circular knitting needles and other random knitting supplies, before the needle case.

What I liked about this project: I could use scrap fabric and it didn't take long to complete.

What I didn't like about this project: Iron-on transfers are crazy expensive!

What I listened to while I made this project: Weezer's Blue Album

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Inspiration: Crewel Embroidery

The Martha Stewart employee tag sale is always a dangerous day for me. Forget for one moment that one of my resolutions this year was to stop buying craft supplies, and take a look at this beauty that I got at the sale for 25 cents.

The tag says "Hand-embroidered crewel." I own crewel kits and The New Crewel book, a gift from my cousin and his wife this past Christmas, but I haven't had the patience to sit down and try it. Seeing this embroidery in person is really inspiring.

Have you tried crewel? Reassure me. Tell me it's awesome.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Owl and Elephant Fabric Collage

My niece just turned 1 year old, so I wanted to make a special gift that she could enjoy every day.

I really like these Petit Collages on Martha Stewart, but I wanted to use fabric instead of paper.

I bought the wood boards at Michaels, and I used my huge bag of scraps (inherited from my friend Jessica) to choose fabrics for the collages. Someday I will be able to create a fabric pit that I can just roll around in all day.

I was feeling inspired by the color palettes in Better Homes & Gardens. (The palettes I looked at were in the March issue, but they have palettes online, as well.)

What I love about scraps is preserving awesome fabrics that may otherwise go unused, like this cute doggy fabric.

What I liked about this project: Great, inexpensive project for using fabric scraps.

What I didn't like about this project: I had to spread the glue very thinly to make sure it didn't bleed through the fabric and make dark spots.

What I listened to while I made this project: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by The Flaming Lips

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Crafty Kids' Book

As a kid in the 80s, I felt like the lone crafter. Was I the only one sewing teddy bears and knitting doll clothes? It sure felt like it.

Thanks to the internet, it's easier for creative kids today to connect to each other. But crafting -- especially in a small town -- can still feel a little lonely. That's why I couldn't help but feel a tingle when an editor at work passed Crafty Chloe to me.

I wrote a blog post about the book for the Martha Family Room blog, but I plan on recommending this book to every crafty person I know.

When I was a kid, my mom created sweatshirts for my brother and me with a felt Christmas tree and real lights rigged into it. We had to carry a battery pack in our pocket to turn the lights on and off. For every kid who ooohed and aaahed, there was another kid making fun of us. I wonder if life would've been easier for me if a book like this existed during my childhood.

Were you teased for sporting something homemade? Let's pretend we're in therapy and share. "Hi, my name is Ashley and I'm a crafter..."

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Invisible Zipper Mistakes

When it comes to sewing, I'm like the ill-behaved child who does things wrong but never learns a lesson from it. You could beat on me, put me in time-out, take away my favorite toy -- and I would repeat my bad behavior again and again.

Take invisible zippers, for example. Take a look at the "invisible" zipper I installed on a pillow last year:

But Ashley, you're thinking, I can totally see that zipper. It's not invisible.

No kidding. But that was a pillow on my couch that I drool on, so who cares? When it came time to install the same zipper on a dress, I really had to get my act together.

I'm working on this Peony dress in owl fabric. I love it, and I want to wear it. So I gotta do this thing right the first time.

I used the Colette Patterns invisible zipper tutorial to help me along. Important lesson: don't skip steps. I know you want to breeze through it so you can watch the Being Elmo documentary on Netflix. But you don't wanna go down that road.

First important invisible zipper step: Iron those zipper teeth. Really push them out of the way.

I originally tried installing the zipper with my regular zipper foot. Slap me on the wrist, because that was a waste of time. I broke down and ordered an invisible zipper foot ($30?! $30 for a little piece of metal?). Look at the difference with those straight stitch seams. One seam is from my regular zipper foot and the other was using the invisible foot. It's quite a difference.

You really gotta roll those teeth back to get in that little ditch with your sewing machine needle.

Sewing with the correct zipper foot:

The dress zipper looks ten times better than the pillow zipper. It's puckering a little, but I'm proud. I think this mean kid finally learned her lesson.

Do you ever skip steps and then regret it? Surely I'm not alone in this. Share an example, and I promise not to slap your wrist.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Quick Valentine Idea: Abstract Rose Prints

One of my favorite Valentine's Day crafts on Martha is this Abstract Rose-Print Valentine's Day Cards and Gift Wrap. This easy card is perfect -- even for my manliest valentine!

Dig through old boxes (or your neighbor's recycling!) to find the cardboard you need to create the rose stamp. If you're not a wine drinker, find a friend who has a spare cork. Grab two ink pads and you're ready to go!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sequin Headbands

At Christmas dinner, my cousin Keitha was wearing an awesome gold sequin headband. I immediately fell in love with it, so I went to Hobby Lobby and bought some stretchy sequins of my own.

I paid less than $1 for each quarter-yard strand of elasticized sequins. The gold looked amazing with Keitha's black hair, but not so great with my red hair. I went for black and silver instead.

The project was super quick. I measured the sequins against one of my other stretchy headbands, then checked the fit by pinning a safety pin to the band and trying it on.

The final step was sewing a simple seam. I folded the band over twice so that no loose sequins would get lost or tangled in my hair. I would suggest hand sewing because when I tried to run it through my machine, the needle kept puncturing all the sequins. Hand sewing guarantees you really catch hold of the elastic base instead of the sequins.

I'm not so crazy about the silver because it reminds me of my baton-twirling headband from 1st grade. I can't wear it with just anything like I can the black one.

What I liked about this project: It's cheap, fast, and easy -- just like your go-to prostitute.

What I listened to while I made this project: The Bust Magazine Best of 2011 playlist on Spotify (If you have Spotify, get the playlist!)