Monday, September 30, 2013

Custom Peg People Embroidery

I've been working on a little project for the Mama Do That Etsy shop:  custom peg people embroideries and embroidery patterns.  I guess I just wanted to have something available at the shop that could be used for memorable events and be given as a unique gift.

One couple wanted to get a custom embroidery in celebration of their second anniversary.  I thought this was a cute way to celebrate since the traditional material for the second anniversary is cotton.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Personalized Ribbon Bookmarks

These little bookmark people are easy to make and can be a lovely gift.  Set the bookmark ribbon over the page you’d like to keep marked and the bead people on the end will hold your place.  These bookmarks can be fun because you can personalize the bead people to look like anyone you’d like. 

To make these bookmarks I painted hair, eyes, and pink cheeks onto wooden beads using acrylic paint and strung them on the ends of a piece of ribbon. I measured the ribbon by doubling the length of a standard size book and adding a few inches for the bead people.   Immediately after each wooden bead, I strung a glass bead for a tiny body.  I secured these beads in place by tying a knot at the end of both sides of the ribbon.  

You can keep the ribbon from fraying by melting the ends carefully using a match or candle or by painting clear nail polish on both ends of the ribbon.

Can you guess who I patterned my little bookmark people after?  My kids, Micah and Ev, of course!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wool Felt Acorn Tutorial

I started making felt acorns seven years ago.  I was living in an area with a plethora of oak trees and there seemed to always be hundreds of acorns on the ground.

I made these little felt acorns to pass the time. I was far away from family with no car and no television. I also made these felt acorns to share with family members.  My mom and her side of the family have a connection with acorns. Along with other reasons for the connection, their high school mascot was the 'mighty acorn'.  You can't beat that for a school mascot!

Felt Acorn Tutorial

Two small pieces of wool felt
Embroidery floss
Wool roving or other stuffing
Real acorn caps

Embroidery needle
Hot glue gun
Hot glue sticks

Step 1: Cut the felt

Cut two pieces of felt to 1 square inch each in size.  In this tutorial I use two different colors of blue wool felt so it's easier to see how I make the acorn.

Place the felt squares together. Using your scissors, round off two corners of both of the felt squares.  This makes your basic acorn shape.  The rounded corners are the bottom of the acorn nut.

Step 2: Blanket stitch

Thread your embroidery floss through your needle.  Choose how many strands of thread you will use based on how much you want your thread to show.  I chose to use a contrasting color of thread and use two of the six embroidery-floss strands.

Place your two pieces of wool felt together so they are totally lined up.  Starting at the top corner of the acorn, blanket stitch around the edge of the two pieces of cut wool felt, sewing them together. When you finish, you should have something that looks like a tiny pocket. Trim the extra thread.

Step 3: Stuff and Glue

Stuff your felt acorn with tiny pieces of wool roving until it is firm.  It will be helpful to have several different sizes of acorn caps at this point.  Try different caps on your felt acorn until you find the perfect fit.  Once you find the acorn cap you are going to use, flip it over and put hot glue around the inside edges and in the middle of the underside of the acorn cap.  Gently push the felt acorn into the underside of the cap, open side up, and hold until the hot glue has cooled.

And you're done!

It was this little acorn that I crafted seven years ago that got me thinking about sharing my crafts with others.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Homespun Homeschool: Stringing Beads with Preschoolers

Stringing beads can be a fun activity for kids, but sometimes it’s hard for little hands to direct the beads onto a floppy string.  We've found the perfect solution for preschool kids who want to participate in bead stringing, but can’t quite get the hang of working with the string. 

Pipe cleaners are firm enough so little hands can control them, but flexible so that once the beads are on the pipe cleaner, it can be bent into bracelets and crowns. 

Micah spent almost an hour making all sorts of pipe-cleaner jewelry including bracelets for me, crowns and anklets.    

Monday, September 23, 2013

Primitive Wool Felt Acorns

It was the first day of fall yesterday and the weather here didn't let us forget it.  There was a brisk wind in the air that made me want to put on a sweater. 

This year I plan to keep these hand-sewn, fall acorns out the whole season long to celebrate.  As far as I’m concerned they can stay out from now until Thanksgiving.  These primitive acorns are made of wool felt and stuffed with wool roving.  It warms me up just thinking about these fall, felt acorns. Autumn is a beautiful time of year.  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tutorial: The Backstitch

Just three years ago I was admiring a friend's hand embroidery work.  The tiny stitches looked so perfect.  I commented that I could never embroider.  I've tried before and it always ends up looking like a mess.

Enter the backstitch.

I'd love to share with you this free little tutorial on how to embroider using the backstitch.  If you don't know this stitch already, be prepared for your life to change.

Backstitch:  It's exactly what it sounds embroidery stitch that moves backward.  A backstitch is quite simple and has helped me improve my embroidery a ton!

Here are the steps:

1. Thread your embroidery floss through your needle and tie a knot at the end of the long tail of the thread.

2. Poke your needle through the back side of the fabric you are about to embroider.  If you have a pattern transferred onto your fabric, start your needle right on the pattern line and gently pull the thread through until it is stopped by the knot at the end of the long tail of your thread. Poke your needle back down through the fabric one stitch length away on the pattern line.  Pull the thread through and make one regular stitch.

This picture shows about three completed stitches.

3. Here’s where the term backstitch starts to make sense. To make your next stitch, poke your needle through the fabric one stitch length ahead of your last finished stitch. Gently pull the thread all the way through the top side of your fabric.

4. To finish the stitch, poke your needle back down through the fabric at the end of your last finished stitch and pull the thread through. You are stitching back, one stitch at a time.

Keep it going all the way around your pattern line until you finish.  You got it!

And what I mean by "be prepared for your life to change," is that after this tutorial, you might know how to do a backstitch. Enjoy.

Lemon-Themed Children's Party

Ev's lemon birthday party was a success.  With some planning and organization, I was able to entertain 13 kids for an hour and a half by myself and all under $25.  Sweet!

How in the world was I able to do it, you might ask?  Let me tell you.

Right next to the front door I had a craft table set up with a simple color, cut, and glue lemon-tree craft. Upon arrival, every kid had something to do.  No one was getting squirrely, waiting around for others to arrive.  This type of activity was a go-at-your-own-pace, start-when-you-get-there activity.  

For those who finished the lemon tree craft early, the next activity was ready to go and also self directed: cereal necklaces. We bought yellow cereal to go with the lemon theme.  Green ribbon was cut, tied and set out ready for kids to get started. Each child strung as many pieces of cereal on the ribbon as they wanted.   

When the kids finished this activity, they went right onto the next.  Our version of a clothespin-in-the-bottle game was set up in two stations.  For this game, instead of clothespins we dropped green and white striped straws into mason jars.  

Just around this time the party goers were finishing up with all three activities.  I gathered everyone together and had them sit on the floor while each person had a go at the pin-the-lemon-slice-on-the-lemonade game. It was great fun and clean up was easy because I used adhesive putty to stick everything to the wall.  After one more party game, the kids wanted cake.

Cake they had!  I had no idea this cake would turn out so huge!  It's a yellow cake with a yummy lemon butter-cream frosting.  And let me tell you, I rejoiced when I was able to get away with a semi-frosted cake. I am loving this trend of not frosting the sides of cakes.  

After cake, Ev opened up her presents and thanked everyone graciously. We sent our guests on their way, but not without stopping by this treat drawer for some Lemonheads and picking a lemon balloon from the ceiling.

The $25 was mostly spent on treats and lemons.  The birthday decorations were homemade, like the felt lemon ornaments on this yellow branch , a birthday embroidery, and a lemon tree birthday crown.  The party games and activities were practically free.  Kids know how to have fun without all the fancy stuff.

After our guests all left I heard Ev say to herself, "This is the best day ever."

Job accomplished.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Small Drawers, DIY Orange Ombre

I received this small chest of drawers as a gift.  The front of each drawer had the same three decals on it: a crown, a meter stamp, and a saying right in the middle.  The quote on the drawers went a little something like this, "If all of your actions are measured in gold, then this quote is way too long for anyone to remember."

I could have been okay with the meter stamp and maybe even the crown, but the quote had to go, especially since it was repeated on each drawer.

So I did a little ombre paint job that seriously took me about 30 minutes.  I used white acrylic paint on the top drawer.  The only orange paint I had was bright orange so I toned it down a bit by mixing in some white for the bottom drawer.  I added a little more white paint to the orange/white paint mixture for the middle drawer.  A couple of coats on each drawer with a clear coat of gloss and the project was finished.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Homespun Homeschool: Petroglyph Field Trip

We took a little field trip to visit the Parowan Gap, a nature-made passageway between two large mountains.  The Parowan Gap is known for its petroglyphs or ancient Native American carvings into the rock mountainside.

After exploring this awesome location where both nature and humans have made their mark, we decided to create our own rock art.

We carved using the tip of long screws.  It was hard and helped us better understand the work that must have gone into the actual petroglyphs.

Here is Micah's rock art.  You can barely see the little guy he carved.  One of the carvings we saw at the Parowan Gap was a little man that looked like he had mouse ears.  Micah decided to do his own interpretation of that carving.  

And Ev decided to use a piece of rock art that we have at home as her inspiration for her own rock art.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lemon Tree Felt Birthday Crown

I made this birthday crown for Ev.  It goes along with her lemon party theme.

As I finished her crown I felt gratitude and not because I was done with this project.  In fact, I enjoyed this project.  

I felt gratitude for another reason. While sewing I thought to myself, if I were to purchase a crown like this I might spend between twenty to fifty dollars.   I felt gratitude because I have the ability to give my children gifts that I would want them to have even though our budget doesn't include a fifty-dollar felt birthday crown.  

If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  

Wood Board Wall Art

We stopped on the side of the road a while back and did so for two reasons.  First, there was a hiking trail  that looked like it could be pretty cool.  And it was cool.  We even saw a jack rabbit while on our hike. Second, I spotted this piece of wood in a pile of dirt and weeds and knew I could do something with it.

The wood sat in my laundry room for a while and finally this project idea came to me.  It was a simple project.  I just painted the word 'love' in black acrylic paint on the board and did a coat or two of clear gloss over the top.  It hangs by two saw tooth hangers in the master bedroom of our home.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Hand-Embroidered Trinket Bag

My daughter, Ev, and I designed this little birthday girl with a piece of cake and a purple, party blower.  I embroidered it in the colors she chose and just recently added pink fabric and turned it into a trinket bag. We'll use it each year on her birthday to house the tiniest of gifts.

She doesn't know it yet, but this year she will find a darling tiny horse charm on a thin necklace chain inside her birthday trinket bag.

Birthday Tradition: Stockings

Do people cross stitch anymore?  My mom has always cross stitched and I'm glad she has so that we could be the recipients of this sweet, hand-stitched stocking.

We started a new birthday tradition last year when we received this birthday stocking.  Each year on our kids' birthdays, we fill their stocking with tiny toys and goodies.

A tradition can be a beautiful thing, especially for children.  Big or small, traditions give something for us to look forward to, bonds us to those we share the traditions with, and creates lasting memories.  My parents started some family traditions in our home that gave me so many great memories that I'm continuing those traditions in my home with my children.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

Lemon Birthday Decorations Made from Felt

I just finished my second project for Ev's lemon birthday party.  These little lemon felt ornaments were so easy and fast to make.  I cut one lemon out of yellow wool felt and used it as the template for all of the other lemons.  I did the same thing for the lemon leaves.  To make the project even easier (than sewing) I used a dot of hot glue to secure the leaves as well as the hanging ribbon on the back.  I happened to have had all of the materials, so this birthday project was free and only took me about 30 minutes.  

I plan on hanging these wool felt lemons on this branch on my wall over the dessert table.

Grey and Yellow Birthday Banner

I'm getting read for Ev's seventh birthday.  I don't plan on spending very much money on her party, but I do want it to be special.  Her birthday has become the perfect reason to push me to finish some crafts that have been waiting in the wings.  Believe it or not, these crafts have a lot to do with celebration.

This birthday banner and three tiered cake in yellow and grey will go perfectly with her theme: lemon party.  I love that Ev was the one who picked the theme too.  Brilliant!

I have these little embroideries for sale in my Etsy shop.  They are the perfect, sweet way to celebrate any special day.  Just display them in your home in a high traffic area and everyone will know that there is a reason to celebrate.  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Homemade Birthday Gifts

Ev has been invited to several birthday parties this past year.  I love homemade gifts (probably more than most people do, especially if by most people I mean six-year-old girls).  Each gift Evelyn has given to her friends this year for their birthdays have been homemade by me.  They range from embroidered felt birthday crowns to flower wands and hair clips.  I even made a small thread wrapped, bendable Merida doll for one of Ev's friends who loves the movie Brave.

I think Ev might be getting a little self conscious about the whole homemade gift thing.  Come on!  There used to be a day when every gift was homemade and the gifts actually lasted.