Yay, it’s finally my turn on the Simple Sewing blog tour! Simple Sewing: 30 Fast and Easy Projects for Beginners is a book that my very dear internet blog friend that I’ve never met, Katie Lewis, wrote and just published. I am thrilled for her and this book and I’d tell you to go buy it even if she weren’t my very dear internet blog friend that I’ve never met. I can’t say enough good things about this book, but I’ll save that for later and first just show you what I made!
Now, I feel like I must prepare you before you see these pictures. You see, I crafted. If this blog was only about me, it would just be called “erhours”, because me and crafts do not mix. In fact, we are mortal enemies. Basically I murder everything that I touch with glue. So when I got out that E6000 for this project, the thrill of doing something that is usually off-limits for my clumsy non-crafty hands overcame me and I became high with power. Or maybe fumes. Either way, I ended up with this:
You see, I had this gold pleather hanging around, and it is so much brighter and shinier than all my other fabric on the shelf that it literally sits there screaming LOOK AT ME! CHOOSE ME! And then I thought it would be fun to cut a little scallop trim out of pleather to go around the top of my sunglasses case. And then that was a miserable failure, so I decided I could handle cutting straight lines to make a fringe (turns out I couldn’t, so please don’t look closely). And then I decided that some of my sunglasses cases could have fringe, and the others could be adorned with my beautiful shiny new ribbon. And then (here’s where the fumes just took over), I decided that ALL of them could be decorated with fringe AND ribbon. You can see where this is headed.
So, in case you were wondering, no, these really aren’t my style at all. And yes, I adore them*. I even have a favorite:
Ok, so enough about my experience with E600 and more about this awesome book and project! The sunnies case started as a basic rectangular pouch for your glasses, as you’d expect. Katie’s book is full of beautiful photography and well written instructions, so it’s not her fault at all that I took this so far in another direction. Though, I think she’d agree (maybe, hopefully) that one of the best things about this book is that the basic projects are really easy to build upon and make your own. Instead of sewing a lining, because pleather doesn’t fray, I only used one layer. I used glue to attach the fringe and ribbon, and I also added a strip of velcro to keep the top shut, just in case anyone else’s purse is a swirling vortex of black hole that sucks everything from the place it’s meant to be.
I chose the sunglass case pretty easily, because I needed one and because I thought they’d be fun to construct en masse. But when I gave the book to my 7 yr old to pick a project, she sat with that thing for half an hour. So really, if you buy the book, you’re getting free babysitting too. She finally settled on the stocking for a friend’s newborn and we’re in the middle of making it together. I love how she can come pretty close to figuring out what do in each step on her own. I’ve only had to give a little guidance and help her operate the machine, but the instructions are so clear cut, and the photography so detailed and simple that I don’t need to do much. At the same time, the book isn’t condescending if you’re an adult learning to sew. In fact, I’d say you couldn’t do better if you want to give sewing a try. The first section of the book deals with all the basics, from techniques to materials, and then you can choose a project and get hands on experience. And of course, experienced sewers always appreciate projects like these, that are great when you just want to sew something quick, or need a last-minute gift. Or get high on glue fumes and embellish something more than you’ve ever embellished anything in your entire life combined.
But if you’re feeling lucky, you can enter the rafflecoptor below for a chance to win it! There are three ways to enter, shipping is only available in the U.S.
Make sure you stay tuned to Katie’s blog, The Red Kitchen, to see a bunch of projects from the book, including my partner today, Sabra from Sew a Straight Line. Well, yesterday. But since the internet hates me, I’m posting 22 hours late. I guess my partners today are now Cherie and Mandy. They’re all worth a visit anyway, so go check it out!
So, which one is your favorite?
* I can say that, because I’m a girl.
In case you’re living in denial, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but in two days you’re going to have to start caring about Christmas. It’s coming, whether we’re ready or not. If you’re a check-list-checker, probably the first thing you’ll be looking to do is order Christmas cards. I’m more the type that delays this task as long as possible, then panics and stresses about it unnecessarily, and finally gets it done just in time. Because that’s the true meaning of Christmas you know, procrastination and panic.
This year I’m happy to say that I’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the actual true meaning of Christmas because my Christmas cards are DONE! We had about 10 great family pictures from our recent New Zealand vacation, so that part was easy (though I must say, my #1 piece of advice for Christmas card pictures is that you should wear make-up if you think there is any chance you might take a snapshot that will eventually be mailed to everyone you know and then posted on the internet).
There are tons of options when it comes to picking a Christmas card, and this year I went with Pinhole Press.
I was really drawn to their clean, simple website and design interface, and they had a broad selection of holiday cards. I’m fairly picky (or as Katy recently told me, “selective”, which sounds so much classier), so usually I can only find one or two designs that I like on any given website, but I immediately found 7 or 8 on Pinhole Press that I loved. I prefer a bold statement card without a lot of frills or decoration and they really fit the bill.
I finally settled on this card because one side features your entire 5×7 picture with no text, so recipients could technically frame it or display it if they really loved you enough.
The other side has space for some text which you can customize to any message. The only change I would make to the Pinhole Press interface would be an option to change the font and font color. I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen this one, but I’m fine with it. Other than that, the interface for customizing your card was the most user friendly of any I’ve ever seen. I was very impressed with the simplicity of the whole process.
The paper quality is excellent, a nice thick matte card stock. The picture quality is slightly less crisp when you print on cardstock versus photo paper, but it’s a trade I’m willing to make for a nice substantial card like this. (plus, it helps with the no make-up issue.)
Pinhole Press has a ton of card options for any occasion, but they also offer framing services, photo books, decor, calendars, journals, labels, and my personal favorite – reusable wall decals! They can even turn your photographs into a puzzle. I received this fun puzzle of our family picture and my girls were so psyched about it I wished I had saved it for Christmas. I chose the option for a 12 piece puzzle, but you can also choose 60 or 252 pieces if you’re adventurous!
What kid wouldn’t have fun putting together a puzzle of themselves? Or perhaps decapitating their siblings’ picture whilst taking it apart?
Pinhole Press compensated me for this post, but all opinions are my own. I genuinely recommend them for your cards this year if you’re still shopping around. Right now they have free shipping if you spend $75 too!
Years ago I happened to try a broccoli cranberry salad at a pot luck. I’m still surprised I tried it – raw broccoli is generally not my thing, but THIS. THIS form of raw broccoli is my thing. Because it’s small pieces of broccoli swimming among the amazingness of good ingredient friends that all work together to form the yummiest salad ever. Bacon, golden raisins, cranberries, walnuts? It was so good that I harassed the poor woman who brought it until she shared her recipe. She was so tired of hearing from me about it that she titled it “The Coveted Broccoli Salad” – and that it was. I love to make it for new moms – because it’s the kind of thing you can just grab a spoonful of if you’re in a hurry. Or serve as a side dish. Or have a whole bowl for lunch.
Here’s the recipe that I’m 101% sure you’ll love too, unless you hate yummy things: (the nuts can be skipped if you’re a no-nut person. I think it’d still be good without them. Similarly, if bacon is not your thing, you could skip that. But skip the nuts AND the bacon? Dunno. That’s getting kind of crazy.)
Until this time, I’d always used dried cranberries rather than fresh. It works well, you just skip the sugar that you’d otherwise add to the cranberries since dried cranberries are typically already sweetened. And for good reason- I tried a fresh one without the sugar and regretted it immediately. WHOA. But fresh cranberries with sugar make this delish, and I really enjoyed cutting them, because who knew how beautiful they are inside? I had no idea! I also had no idea that there are tiny adorable seeds in there.
And while I’m on the topic of natural beauty, shredding cabbage is also lovely.
I think it’s a colorful and fun side dish for thanksgiving. No cooking involved and easily made-ahead. Just as good if not better the next few days as the flavors soak together but the broccoli and cabbage remain pretty crunchy.
I made this this past Saturday to join a group of Virginia Beach bloggers for a get-together at Jess’ house. She sets a lovely scene, doesn’t she?
You might think a group of bloggers getting together would be sort of DIY crazy, but it was relaxed and very, very real. Jess, Alida, Cindy, Linda and Zoe were there. We talked about our kids and patience and potty training and how hard it is to parent them as they grow and make their own decisions. We ate a very normal mix of homemade and boxed-mix and store-bought food. Nobody was up at the crack of dawn making elaborate anything. Reading blogs and scrolling through Pinterest would lead anyone to believe that food/craft/DIY bloggers lead fantastic lives, and maybe they do, but not in the everything-over-the-top sense. Enriched moments here and there is more the case. In this get-together, as with any as I think about the upcoming holidays, taking the time to be kind and genuine is what’s important.
I love a handmade touch on gift wrap. Nothing crazy, just a little something. A handmade gift is even better, of course, but there’s not always time, and even if there is, aren’t there some people on your list who’d rather you NOT give them something handmade? The same people who’d ask for video games– at least the ones on my list. So to start making a pile of gift tags I started with this assortment of options, all of which are available in-store at Michael’s or online via Plaid. I have two favorites here – the brushes, which have rubberized handles that are sooooo nice to use, and the paint, which is multi-surface. Paper, glass, ceramic, metal, plastic, fabric… I don’t know how they made it work on everything, but I’m so glad they did. And it covers smoothly and evenly. I’m a total nerd about paint and now this is the only craft paint I buy because it works so well on everything. I’m also a packaging nerd and I love the clean simplicity of the whole line. I’m a bunch of other kinds of craft nerdy but I think that’s sufficiently demonstrated throughout my blog posts. For this project, my supply list includes:
- card stock
Taped your stencil to sturdy card stock and use a light coat of paint with a wide brush. Here’s the critical step: remove the stencil and use a detail brush to clean up edges and fill in the “bridges”. When you’re finished, nice smooth lines and curves. Ready to dress up a package. To sturdy-up a gift tag on card stock, lightly coat both sides with decoupage medium. You’re adding a thin coat of plastic, in effect. Martha’s decoupage is even safe for the dishwasher! For more about Martha’s product lines, find them on Facebook, sign up for the newsletter or check out Plaid’s Martha Stewart Crafts Pinterest board. I wrote this post as part of a sponsored campaign with Plaid and The Blueprint Social, but all opinions are my own. Though the sponsors would probably agree that I’m a paint and packaging nerd.
I’m finally sharing something that’s been on my mind for forever. I see it daily and I can’t stay quiet any longer. There are countless stencil abusers in the world, and maybe I can make a difference. Maybe I can help save one project from a ragged finish. Today I will share what stencil abuse is and how you can join me in helping to stamp it out. Stencil abuse can kill (a project)! This is as serious as serious gets (in crafting world)!
As you already know, stencils were created to help save time and give people who don’t have freehand sketch and lettering skills a leg up at painting shapes and letters – or, for folks who have these skills, a quick way to repeat a shape over and over. They’re endlessly useful as embellishment goes. But there’s a step in the process that I see skipped all the time. Much like the difference between “alot” and “a lot”, once you know this, you’ll notice it every time.
So, you take a simple stencil. Here’s an easy one. A script “love”.
You do what you do. You tape it to a surface you want to stencil (or use spray adhesive on the back of the stencil if you want to get fancy) and apply a thin layer of paint.
And you have this. Nice, right? Yes. But you can use a detail brush to neaten some edges, and while you’re there?
Fill in those little bridges.
Bridges are there to hold the island in the middle of the “O,” for example, but they’re not there because they look good. They’re there just to serve the purpose of holding the stencil together. So, grab the detail brush and…
Fill them in! And neaten any raggedy edges as you like.
In my detail-oriented mind, this little extra makes for a far more finished-looking product. Sure, there are times when you want the “packing crate” look that’s offered by stencils– in this project, for example. But about 97.2%* of stencil projects fail to follow through here. Be brave, friends. These are bridges made to be burned.
In an effort to shed light on stencil abuse to help eradicate this worldwide issue that affects crafts globally, won’t you share this post? You have a crafty friend or twelve who’ll thank you for it! And me. I’m your crafty friend who’ll sleep so much better tonight.
*based on a highly scientific study I’ve conducted over years of blog reading.