Wild Horses

The Rolling Stones Said it best:

“Childhood living is easy to do
The things you wanted I bought them for you
Graceless lady you know who I am
You know I can’t let you slide through my hands
Wild horses couldn’t drag me away
Wild, wild horses, couldn’t drag me away”
We’ll ride them someday.”…..

Middle childhood (ages 8 to 10) is a time when horses become magical. They are living creatures that can carry a child when his own parents no longer can. (Although part of growing up, this physical separation is a small heart break for many small kids.)

horse-book1

Horses can fill that emotional need to be carried with a fantasy. And because few children have access to a farm or horses, a love for horses is a gentile introduction to the concept of love and longing.

But maybe this just me thinking too much.

My eldest daughter is crazy for horses and I was too at her age. So I bought her my two favorite horse books, which she now likes too. They are: “The Gift of the Sacred Dog” and “The girl who loved Wild horses” by Paul Goble. Both books are based upon Native American legends of the Great Plains. They describe horses as divine creatures who needed special care and respect.

My daughter’s birthday is next week, and she wanted a horse party. So I organized a horse themed craft for the party. As a full disclosure, I searched on Pinterest and found a great pattern, created by a local artist, Ann Wood. I love Ann Wood’s art installation which she created in 2009. She has generously provided the instructions on the Design Sponge Website. (She also has some awesome crafting kits on her own site!)

I loved her interpretation of a herd of wild horses because it reminded me so much of Paul Goble’s stories. The way in which her horses are painted and then grouped together imbues them with  mystical beauty and grace.

So lets get to crafting. I have made a few modifications to Ann Wood’s directions. One was to replace the buttons with brads. Another was to use more kid friendly materials.

horses-supplies

Supplies:

Heavy to Medium weight Card-stock paper

1/8″ round paper punch

Paper clips or Binder Clips

Long Popsicle sticks or wide paper straws

Glue sticks or Rubber cement

School Glue

Sequins, Stickers, Glitter glue, Markers or Glitter

Brads and Brad Eyelets -3/16″

Small google eyes

Directions:

  1. Cut out two copies of the horse template by hand. I used Ann Wood’s template to cut out the horses using my Silhouette Cameo Machine and a Pixscan mat. horse-photoscanhorse-blog(Yes, this is totally cheating. But I got 12 horses to make! Each horse requires two copies of paper. That’s 168 little body parts!)
  2. Glue pieces of duplicate parts together. Place the differnet pieces of the horse in position. One pair of legs, should be under the body and one pair on top of the body. Hold it all together with binder clips or paperclips.
  3. Locate the center of the leg joints and place a dot there. Use a 1/8″ hole punch on this dot. (The doubled paper will be too thick to punch all at once so you will have to punch the top leg first, use the hole in this leg to make a mark on the body below. Next punch the body, mark the leg below and lastly punch the leg below with the whole.)
  4. Take the body or each leg separately.  Place a 3/16″ eyelet in one hole.  Place the paper and eyelet between two old dictionaries and press down hard to flatten the eyelet’s collar. Repeat (You can also use an Eyelet Punch and save your book covers from dents.) Each moving piece should now have it own eyelet. (This mult-eyelet assembly will allow the legs frequently with less damage to the paper.)
  5. Attach the back leg, body and front leg together with a brad. Repeat with the other pair of legs.
  6. Glue the eye, tail and mane in place. Decorate the horse with glitter, stickers and sequins.
  7. When decorations are dry, glue a Popsicle stick to the back of your horse with school glue.

    Horseassembly-7

    All Done!

 

 

 

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Bunting Banner

Where have I been for the last month? I wish that I could say that I was on a beautiful tropical beach. But…. poor baby me.  I have been making decor for my school’s Annual Gala! And the most exciting thing that I made was a huge bunting banner.ps84

At first fabric banners may seem like a big job but it’s a decoration that can be used  year after year. A colorful bunting also makes a cute room decoration.

bunting7

Materials:

bunting-materials

 

Directions:

  1. Determine the size of flag that you want to create. Your flag does not have to be a triangle. It can be a rectangle, scallop shape or a dentil.
  2. If you are creating your own design, sketch the shape on your cardboard and verify that the outline is perpendicularly aligned. Note that the finished design will be 1/4″ smaller due to the sewn seam. Cut out your design with a non-sewing scissors. (I personally prefer to use my acrylic quilting triangle.)
  3. Iron your fabric on high heat and starch. Move to cutting mat or clean table. Place template on the wrong side of your fabric. If you are double stacking your fabric (folding a larger piece of fabric to cover both sides) place the fold at the top of your flag. Use the calk marker to outline.bunting-layout
  4. Cut out your flag from the fabric on the chalk line. Take the two fabric sides of your flag and place them right sides together (pattern side to pattern side.) Then place batting under the two layered fabric pieces. The batting should be touching the wrong side of one piece of fabric.

    bunting-sanwich

    See the batting under the two fabrics.

  5. Pin the fabric and batting together with safety pins. Cut the batting about 1/2″ from the fabric’s edge.bunting2
  6. Sew the sides of your flag with a walking foot attachment on your machine. You should have a 1/4″ seam allowance. This means that the middle of your sewn seam is 1/4″ from the fabric’s edge.             bunting3
  7. Remove your pins and cut a small V in the tip of your flag where the sewn seams meet. (This is so the tip of your flag will be pointy.) If you have double stacked your fabric, cut the fold at the top of the flag open. Trim the batting at the sides to within a 1/4″ or less of the sewn seam to reduce bulk.
  8. Turn the flag inside out so that the batting is now on the inside and both right sides of the fabric face out. Iron your flag flat.
  9. Place this flag aside and finish the rest of your flags.
  10. Choose which side of your flag you wish to be in the front. If you want to do any lettering on your bunting, do it now. The most simple way is to use a iron-on fabric applique. (See the method described in this previous post: Appliques Away!)
  11. Use your walking foot to quilt across the surface of your flag. You can sew straight lines across or on the diagonal. Leave a long tail at the start and finish of your stitched line. To achieve equally spaced lines attach a quilting guide to your walking foot.
  12. Use your flag template to cut off the top of each flag and trim the quilting tails so that all the flags are the same height.
  13. Knot and bury any tails remaining on the sides of the flags.
  14. Take the 2-1/2″ jelly roll strips. These strip will join to hold the flags. Estimate how long your bias will need to be with three 3″ between the flags and 18″ on each end. To join the strips, place them perpendicular to each other.
  15. These joined fabric strips need to become bias tape. Fold the strip in half and iron. Then fold the upper and lower edges inward to the newly ironed seam. Pin these folds in place and iron along the length of the strip as you remove the pins.
  16. Pin the top of the open bias strip to the top of the back of the  flag.  Pin the flags at the same distance apart. Be sure to place the flags in reverse order while pinning because the flags are upside down. Sew the bias tape in place with a 1/4″ seam. (Note that I am using a foot attachment for a 1/4″ seam. This makes it a lot easier!) You don’t have to do each flag separately to the bias tape, it is easier and smoother to sew along the bias tape in the area between flags.
  17. Turn your flags over so the fronts face up. Wrap the bias tape over the top of your flag and pin in place. Fold and pin the bias tape in between the flags too. Match the color of your thread to the bias tape.
  18. Sew the bias tape down using a 1/4″ seam across the entire project. Be sure to back-stitch at the beginning and end. Cut the bias tape on a 45 deg angle at 18″ from the outside flags.

    All done!

    All done!

 

School Spirit in Patches- Quilting by Students.

My best school memories are from Kindergarten. My Teacher’s name was Mrs. Swan and she owned a farm with her husband. She loved taking the class to her farm for field trips. We even got a Pumpkin picking trip and hayride back to school out of the deal. Well, whatever, I still think that was super cool.

Oh the Nostalgia!

Oh the Nostalgia! Just kidding my elementary school was built during the Eisenhower administration. It was single story concrete block construction and it had a flat concrete slab roof with carport.

Now I know that my kids, who live in Brooklyn, will never have the same experience as me. And this is not particularly bad. After all, my kindergartener and second grader get to skate at Rockefeller Center and are serious doughnut connoisseurs. But there are moments when nostalgia for a bucolic childhood weakens me and I do crazy things. LIKE volunteer to organize and make a class quilt project. Yes that was totally crazy.  Again Cray Cray.

The basic concept of a Class Quilt is to give each student a white cotton square of fabric and have them draw with fabric markers images that describe their heritage, family or neighborhood. The fabric squares are then collected, ironed and sewn into a quilt that displays their collective heritage and school spirit.

Let’s go through it.

Supplies:

  • 1 White cotton Layer Cake of fabric (A layer cake is quilting slang for 40 pieces 10″ by 10″ squares of light weight cotton.)
    Depending upon the quilt design which you wish to use, you may want to cut down your cotton squares before the kids get them. I have found that 10″ square make a huge quilt while 8″ squares leave enough room without the extra 2″. I asked the kids to leave a 1″ border on the cotton squares so I could leave room for seam allowances ect, but they totally ignored this.
  • One or two Jelly roles. These are packages of fabric composed of 2-1/2″ strips. The strips are perfect for making sashes which are placed between the blocks.
  • Colored Fabric Markers. Make sure that they are designated as fabric markers and not just permanent like a Sharpie. (Sharpie does make specific fabric markers which are good. But I prefer Tulip.)
  • Light Box. Or just get the app to make your iPad into a light box. It’s called Light Box Illuminator Viewer.
  • Masking Tape (blue painters tape.)
  • Stencils or black and white photocopies of Flags, country shapes, symbols or figures.
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Quilt pattern or simple idea of how you want to layout the patches.
  • Sewing Machine with an adjustable blindhem foot or a 1/4″ quilting foot.
  • White Standard weight thread.
  • Bobbin Washers
  • Various cotton fabric depending upon which pattern you choose. Most of my fabric was bought on Etsy. But the most simple of quilts will only need one Jelly Roll either in a solid color or varied patterns to be used for sashes. (Again a Jelly Roll is quilter slang for 40 strips of fabric measuring 44″ by 2.5″)
  • Rotary cutter, ruler and board.
  • Square-up template

Directions for the Kids:

  1. Sketch out your designs on pencil and paper. Think about images which celebrate your family, your heritage, your community or all three. Then outline your designs with black marker on the paper.
  2. In school transfer the drawing to a fabric square and color it with fabric markers.
  3. If transfer is difficult use stencils, a light box or shapes that you can trace around to help you.
  4. Be sure to have you name or initials on the fabric but not too close to the edge.

Notes to Consider:

It is very important before you start this project that you pick out quilting pattern to follow. This is because the pattern will determine the size of the fabric pieces that you give to the kids. (I really recommend using fabric pieces of 6″ or larger.) The pattern will also determine the finished size of your quilt. (Otherwise you could end up with a huge quilt or a lap size quilt.) You must also consider the total number of student patches to be integrated into a design and use this number to select your pattern. The smaller the class the more flexibility you may have with pattern selection. If you have more than 20 students, simple is better.

Since I am still new to quilting and not exactly a pro, I decided that the easiest method  for me was to pick a pattern which required the minimal need to have exact corners meet. I chose a pattern called “A slice of Life” from Missouri Star quilting.heritagequilt-missouri If this pattern seems too complicated, because you really have to keep track of your block orientation, just use a simple frame pattern. I would recommend the French Window Panes from Sweet Jane. Sue Pfau’s book Quilts from Sweet Jane has loads of other options too.

Directions for the Adult:

  1. To set the fabric marker designs, lightly iron each student patch with the design facing down. Make sure that your iron has absolutely no water inside. Do not wash these patches either! If you are concerned about your ironing board discoloring, place a sheet parchment paper down first.
  2. At this point you can proceed with your own pattern if you choose. I followed the above pattern for one quilt. (But cray-cray me. I volunteered for another class quilt too. Needless to say, the second quilt had a simpler design.)
  3. To start, thread your machine and place a bobbin washer in your bobbin case (if you have a top-loading bobbin case). This will prevent knotting of the thread while sewing. Don’t forget that unlike regular sewing, quilting only has a 1/4″ seam allowance. So use the quilting foot or adjustable blind hem foot.heritagequilt-sashinng
  4. As per my pattern directions, I made six huge nine-patch blocks with 2″ sashing. (Each nine-patch block had 4 student blocks, one on each corner. The four center blocks were made from patterned fabric.) (6 nine-blocks x 4 student designs per nine-block = 25 spaces  the for students) heritagequilt-blocka
  5. After this I cut down each large nine-patch into four blocks (each 16.5″ by 16.5″.)The cuts were made a cross vertically down the middle and horizontally through the middle of the nine-patch…………. Because the final block orientation of these new blocks were to be different from the initial giant nine-patches; I had come up with a system, layout and a key.The arrows on the key indicated which way up should be for the student block.

    As per my diagrams the letters are located above the grid and numbers are located on the grid’s side. This system worked like a Punnett Square. Each new square was labeled by the location in its original nine-patch. (Example A1, A2, B1, B2, ect.) The layout had each space for a student design labeled. So by looking at the final block orientation and location, I could go back to the initial nine-patch block diagrams and determine the correct orientation to sew each student block in its nine-patch. (Yes, I know my brain hurts too.) But you can use a new app called Quitography to test out a design before the massive headache.

  6. I squared up each 16-1/2″ patch. This means that I re-measured each patch and cut it down as necessary. (Don’t panic if many of your patches are less than 16-1/2″! Just cut an extra 1/4″ around each patch so that every patch is now 16″ by 16″.) You must use a “square-up” acrylic template for this.
  7. Sew your patches back together to form your quilt top. Congratulations, you are halfway there.
  8. But this was too complicated for another quilt!
    So you can tell that the second quilt’s pattern was much simpler with a ladder pattern.

At this point if you are a beginning quilter like me, I would really recommend to send your quilt out to be basted, quilted and bound. This means that a professional will create a quilt sandwich, sew that sandwich together and then finish the edges.

I would recommend sending your quilt to Missouri Star Quilting. They are super nice, profession and reasonable in terms of time. They did a fantastic job on mine.

All Done!

All Done!

Pillow Talk? – Let’s Clean It Up!

Do you have various fabric in your closet and don’t know what to do with it? I do. I particularly have lots of shawls, wraps and head scarfs that I have been given as souvenirs from other people’s vacations.

Let's Clean Up!

Let’s Clean Up!

So for many years the fabric has piled up in my small Brooklyn apartment, taking away space from more useful objects like towels and sheets. I even packed away my wedding china in a storage facility to make room for the growing pile of fabric. Well, now that New Years is here, I can delay no longer! TIME TO CLEAN STUFF OUT! (My New Year’s resolution is to make use of my existing fabric or donate it.) And one great way to use my fabric is to make pillows!

A few months ago at Loop of the Loom studio, I saw a kid (really a 12-year-old kid) get out the sewing machine and make a pillow out of his loom project. I was amazed at both the simplicity of the idea and its practicality. It was explained to me that this is a traditional method of making pillows in Japan.

The pillow’s size is determined by the dimensions of the fabric available. (Standard pillow inserts may not work. This pillow type is usually stuffed by hand and sewn closed. You can also make your own pillow inserts for the ease of washing.) This pillow can be made out of any rectangular fabric whose length  is a minimum of 3.33 times its width and a maximum of 3.5 times its width. The length of the fabric selected will become the diagonal dimension for the finished pillow. C:UsersKimberlyPicturesBaaBaaBrmy patternsnew-Japanesepill

Directions:

  1. Follow the above diagram to determine if your fabric is large enough to make a pillow. (Cut down the A dimension if needed.) Iron your fabric and fold at the center line with the fabric’s wrong side facing outward. The fold that you just made is FOLD A.
  2. Pin the fabric with the wrong side facing outward. Sew a 1/2″ seam along one long side of the folded fabric so that two sides of the folded fabric are closed (one sewn closed, one closed by the fold) and two sides are open. This seam is labeled: SEAM B. C:UsersKimberlyPicturesBaaBaaBrmy patternsnew-Japanesepill
  3. Sew along the side opposite to the fold with a 1/2″ seam allowance.  This is SEAM C. You should now have a fabric pouch.
  4. Draw two lines with chalk. The first line will be 1/2″ from the pouch’s opening on the outside or wrong side of the fabric. Turn the pouch inside out so that the right side of the fabric is facing out. pillow-step3        Draw the second line at 1″ from the pouch’s opening. Turn the pouch inside out again so that the wrong side of fabric is on the outside.C:UsersKimberlyPicturesBaaBaaBrmy patternsnew-Japanesepill
  5.  Trim the pouch’s opening with pinking shears above the 1/2″ chalk line. Trim the corners of the pouch by cutting a diagonal slice from seam line to seam line. The wrong side of the fabric should still be facing outward.C:UsersKimberlyPicturesBaaBaaBrmy patternsnew-Japanesepill
  6. Fold the pouch in half again so that you have almost a square. Iron the pouch so that the side SEAM C and FOLD A meet.
  7. Unfold your pocket so that the new fold (FOLD D) is now a crease. Iron open Seams B and C. Open the pouch. Take two pins. Place a pin on each side of FOLD D.C:UsersKimberlyPicturesBaaBaaBrmy patternsnew-Japanesepill
  8. Fold a cuff over along the inside 1″ chalk line. Sew the cuff with a 1/4″ seam allowance for only half of the pocket. This means that you only sew from one pin to the other.
  9. Turn the pillow inside out so that the fabric’s right side is outside. Pull the fabric out so that the Seam B is flat on the on a table. This seam will be pillow’s center diagonal. Pull the pouch cuff’s ends outward to form a square. Make the sewn cuff and the pinked edge meet to form another diagonal line.  Move the sewn cuff to cover the pinked edge. You may have to fold and tack extra fabric at the cuff’s corner edge. Iron the pillow flat.

  10. If the pinked edge and the sewn cuff do not overlap enough, turn the pouch inside out again. Then re-sew Seam C inward in 1/2″ increments until they meet. Don’t forget to cut off the old seam with pinking shears!
  11. Stuff the pillow with poly fill and close the open seam with a blanket stitch or snap buttons.

Here is a print out of the pattern:

pillowsheet1, pillowsheet2, pillowsheet3, pillowsheet4
Happy New Year Everyone!

2016 happy new year concept with sand and clock

 

Angel Tree-Topper

So again I am posting about a craft that I did for our Sunday School Class. I wanted something that the kids could give as a gift to their parents for Christmas. And I think that it is important for kids to a feel the sense of pride in giving to others that they love.

Materials:

Directions for Adults:

  1. Use your Screwdriver and 5/16″ Drill bit to make a whole in each sphere. This is where you shall put the cone’s tip to make the angel’s body and head.angel-4
  2. Paint your cones with white acrylic paint, your spheres with flesh-tone paint and your Stars with Gold paint . Each object may need two to three layers of paint. Cut off hanging strings. Wait until completely dry.         angel-1
  3. Use a carpenters awl to make two wholes in the cone’s sides for the arm holes. Make sure that the arm holes align.angel-3
  4. Push your sphere onto the cone’s tip as far as possible. The hole in the sphere will get larger. Otherwise, make the hole larger by cutting out from the original hole. Remove the sphere. Use the glue gun to attach the sphere to the cone and dry upside down.                     angel-2
  5. Thread one pipe cleaner  through your holes in the body. Trim the pipe cleaner 1″ and upturn the ends to resemble hands.angel-5
  6. With the glue gun, glue the gold stars to the body and wrap the arms around the star so that the angel looks like it is holding it.                                   angel-6

Directions for Kids:

  1. Decorate the faces and hair of the angels with goggle eyes, red felt, yarn  craft glue. Do this first so that it will dry first.
  2. Create the wings from the tulle ribbon by folding the ribbon over itself a few times and secure in the middle with another piece of tulle or white ribbon in a knot. Glue or staple to the angels back and fluff out the tulle. (I personally like the stapler best because when 12 kids need help attaching the wings, the glue takes too long.)   angel-7
  3. Decorate your angels body with ribbon, glitter or even stickers.
  4. Add colored yarn to the head for hair.angel-8
  5. Flatten your silver cupcake sleeve on the table. Place some glue in the middle and attach to the back of the angle’s head.

Congratulations on your beautiful angle for the tree!finished angels

 

Twinkle Twinkle Winter Lights

The Holidays are Here! …….Hooray?……. This can be a racing, frantic and utterly overwhelming time. And of course, most of us over-commit to dinner cooking, card writing, present buying, cooking baking. It is almost impossible to slow down but I still try to.

I like this season of growing darkness before the Winter Solstice. The sun sets earlier and earlier each day making it feel like the end of time. The air becomes crisp and clear. And the sky takes on yellow sodium hue. The cold is like an ancient relative coming to visit.

Beautiful landscape of winter forest with wild river. Tranquil wild landscape

Bank of the Fox River in Winter, Waukesha, Wisconsin.

I grew up in Wisconsin and remember the landscapes well. The snow would cluster in patches around trees and fences each December. The last light of the day would ooze among the black tree trunks like a candlelight slinking down stairs. The natural world around seemed to snuggle down for a cup of hot Coco and a nap. Nature has wound down to a white silence. And into this quiet deepness comes the warm lights of Christmas.

bubblelites-1

My favorite Holiday decorations have always been lights. As a kid my Grandparents had Christmas lights from the 1960’s that were a complete fire hazard but still beautiful. Some of the lights were lamps filled with colored water that boiled inside and created a mesmerizing trance. It seems like I spent hours staring at those lights. (Maybe I did.) But I wanted to make some lights that didn’t need electricity, in fact, not really lights but a garland that resembled glowing lights.

litepaint-13

Glitter Lights  

Materials:

Directions:

  1.  Place each wooden light in a small hobby vice that will attach to your table or counter top. Take a 5/64″ drill bit and your electric screwdriver. Drill a hole straight through the stem.litepaint-14
  2. Place a tooth pick through the hole and paint the bulb of the light white. Suspend your lights so they dry. I tried many methods with varying success. By far the best method was to use the Imperia pasta drying rack with parallel dowels. Repeat until you have three dry coats of white paint.
  3. Remove the painted bulbs from the pasta drying rack and paint the necks of the wooden bulbs silver. Either return the bulbs to the rack or place the bulbs in a test tube rack to dry. Repeat for a second coat of silver. (I got my Styrofoam test tube holder from the lab at my doctor’s  What a find!) litepaint-9
  4. Paint the lower half the bulb section gold by filling a very small cup about the size of a shot glass with paint. Then dip the tip in gold paint. This will create a smooth line at the bulb’s center. Let this gold paint dry for two hours.
  5. When your bulb is completely dry lightly paint the top of the bulb with glitter paint. Then when dry, paint the bottom. While the paint is still wet dip the bulb into a small container of glitter only to cover the gold paint. Place the bulbs back on the rack to dry and leave over night.
  6. Remove the toothpicks and thread the braided cord ribbon through your holes. Use tweezers to help you tease the cord through the hole. Make a small knot before and after your bulbs so they stay in place. Repeat with other finished bulbs spaced equally along the cord.                                             litepaint-12

Happy Holidays and have Wonderful New Year!

 

Snowflake Ornaments

This coming Saturday, December 5th is P.S. 84’s Winter Fundraiser and Family Portrait Day. It a great deal because you can get your little darlings photographed by some of New York’s most talented professional photographers and parents!

Part of this event includes a craft fair and I will be selling some of my holiday creations. Some of these creations will include decorative snowflakes! And I am totally glad to share my process with you!Snowflakes-materials

Materials:

  • 100% cotton Yarn in a fingering or DK weight. (Cotton fabric is best because it will distort the least during starching. Cotton is always a good fiber or non-clothing items such as toys and dish cloths because it can hold up to repeat washing.)
  • 3.5 or 3.75mm crochet hook in wood. (Everyone has their preference but I think that wood hooks work best with cotton because they don’t split the yarn strand like plastic or metal.)
  • Sharp scissors
  • Tapestry needle to tie in ends. (Clover is my favorite)
  • Cornstarch powder
  • Epsom Salt
  • T-pins or blocking pins. You can use regular sewing pins but make sure that all your pins are new. Old pins can rust onto your snowflakes. And note that the cornstarch will destroy the pins for fabric.
  • Blocking board or clean cardboard covered in Saran wrap.
  • Parchment baking paper
  • Clear thread or fishing line.

Close-up woman knits crochet Christmas decoration - snowflakes

I used several patterns to make my snowflakes and some were original. But for the purposes of this blog post I will refer you to the ultimate snowflake pattern book: 100 Snowflakes to Crochet by Caitlin Saino. This book is fantastic because the patterns are presented in both written and chart form. The patterns are also ordered in degree of difficulty, size and yarn required, which is especially useful for time management.

Once you have made your snowflake you must starch it. Unstarched, they look like sad limp jellyfish. But starched they are elegant creations. (Or alt least I think so.) The method that you use to starch greatly depends upon your final use. You can use many methods using liquid starch, salt starching, cornstarch and even Elmer’s Glue. I used the cornstarch method. This method is hard as concrete but still has the ability to be washed out and re-starched.


Directions for Starching and Blocking:

Snowflakes-paste

Making the Starch:

  1. The starch mixture ratio is 1 part cornstarch to 4 part cold water. (I use 1/4 cup cornstarch to 1 cup water.) Combine cold in saucepan and whisk until fully blended.
  2. Set the stove flame to medium and bring the mixture to a very slow boil. You must watch and whisk continuously for about 10 minutes. If left unattended, the starch will scorch and turn brown. Cook until the mixture has the thickness of paste and then remove from the flame.
  3. Let the mixture cool down to handle. Place one snowflake in the pan and immerse. Use a wooden spoon to press the paste into the cotton fibers.
  4. Remove the snowflake from the pan and massage the starch into all the fibers. Press out excess starch from the fibers with your hands. Wash your hands clean and place the snowflake on the prepared blocking board. (After starching many many snowflakes the starch dried and chapped my hands so much that I eventually had to use gloves. so don’t forget to moisturize!)

Snowflakes-blocking1

Blocking:

  1. Whether you are using a blocking board or plain cardboard covered in Saran wrap it is important to cover it with Parchment paper before laying down your snowflake. The paper will make removal painless and cleanup simple. If you choose, lightly sprinkle the surface with Epsom salt. (The Epsom Salt adds a crystalline texture and has the added benefit of preventing your house pets from eating your flakes. But I really prefer to use Epsom salt on the white snowflakes only.)
  2. Position your snowflake so that all the arms are flat and straight. Step back to see if the arms are aligned and proportional with each other.
  3. Start pinning in the center of the snowflake and work your way out. Use Q-tips to wipe the excess starch from the spaces between the yarn. If using Epsom Salt, sprinkle on top while wet.
  4. Let your snowflakes completely air-dry before removing your pins. (If the snowflake’s center is not fully dry before you remove the pins; the flake will bow and look like a potato chip.)

    Warped Snowflake like a potato chip

    Warped Snowflake which now looks like a potato chip.

  5. Depending upon humidity, the snowflakes will dry in 24 to 48 hours.
  6. Once removed, break off the loose starch and hang with invisible fishing line.

Snowflakes-finished

Yay! It is an indoor blizzard!

Thank you to everyone who has bought my Snowflakes. I really appreciate your support. I wish everyone a merry holiday season.

Gingerbread Joseph

I usually don’t blog about my Sunday School crafting because I don’t like to talk politics or religion. But because the amount of work that I have to do leading up to Christmas is staggering. I will take a post topic where I can get it.

So, as disclosure, I teach Sunday School to the pre-school crowd at my church. The schedule is: read a Bible story, do the craft, go to the bathroom, eat a snack, say a prayer and then bye-bye. Its sounds simple but the kids really got my number and only a double shot of espresso gets me through.

Brothers Sell Joseph into Slavery Konstantin Flavitsky, 1855

Brothers Sell Joseph into Slavery
Konstantin Flavitsky, 1855

So this week’s story was Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors. Basically Jacob has 12 sons and his favorite is Joseph. Jacob gives Joseph a beautiful and expensive robe. (Kinda like giving your 16 year-old a red convertible.) Understandably, the other brothers go crazy with envy. So they throw Joseph down a well and sell him into slavery in Egypt. Eventually things work out and Joseph forgives his brothers. Father Jacob and the rest of the family come to live with Joseph in Egypt during a famine and stay. This nicely explains how the Hebrew people end up in Egypt which leads to Moses and the Exodus. Next week’s class is Baby Moses in the Nile River.

coatofcolors2

Materials for Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors:

  • One pack foam Gingerbread men (I got mine at Micheal’s Crafts) But you and also trace a cookie cutter on colored card stock.foam
  • White cotton cloth, I used white cotton from a Junior Layer Cake.fabric2
  • Colored Scraps of Fabric, most of mine were from a quilting project and were cut in smaller pieces.
  • Google eyes
  • Fabric glue
  • Stapler
  • Black marker or Sharpie

Directions:

  1. Cut the cotton into a small tunic
  2. Place the tunic on the foam man and staple into place.

    Staple Tunic at the sides

    Staple Tunic at the sides

  3. Give kids dressed men, fabric glue in small bowls with brushes or Q-tips and fabric scraps.
  4. Help kids to attach the fabric scraps to the white tunic with paste. Help them to glue on eyes and draw in face and hair.coatofcolors4

All Done!

Appliques Away! Three Kings Banner

Things around here have been super crazy as I race towards my Christmas Craft obligations. Wwwwwhat? Isn’t it still Autumn? Why am I being a crazy and starting Christmas projects. Alas, time allocation and logistics make it impossible to do otherwise. Jingle, Jingle Jingle. When is Christmas over?

My Finished Banners

My Finished Banners

My main WIP is a trio of banners for my church’s Nativity play. Each banner is to be carried by one of the Three Kings of the Epiphany. (Or carried by the kings’ servants, depending upon the number of boys that sign up.) I tried to find a good (not country kitsch) patterns to follow while making the banners, but no luck. (It is actually pretty hard to find Christmas quilting or Applique patterns that do not have Santa, snowmen or candy canes in them.) The best source for images of the Nativity is Adoration Quilts by Rachel Brown. It is a lovey book with great designs and loads of great ideas. But I required patterns for a larger scale. So I had to design my own.

Mosaic of the Three Magi offer gifts to the Virgin Mary in Saint Apollinare Nuovo. This Arian church was dedicated in 504 to Christ the Redeemer in Ravenna Italy on November 4 2012

Mosaic of the Three Magi offering gifts at the Church of Saint Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna Italy. The mosaic dates from 504 A.D.

The Three Kings of the Epiphany (sometimes called the Three Wise Men or Magi) visited the new born Baby Jesus in Bethlehem by following a great star in the sky. Most modern scholars think that these men, the ultimate number is not  known, were Zoroastrian Astrologers from the region of Persia in modern Iran. But European Christian tradition and folklore, especially during the Middle Ages, created a very different narrative.

TOURS, FRANCE - AUGUST 8, 2014: Stained glass window depicting the Three Kings who see the Star of the East in the Cathedral of Tours France.

Stained glass window depicting the Three Kings who see the Star of the East in the Cathedral of Tours France.

The traditional version of the Magi’s Visit depicts three kings from three different kingdoms in Asia, Africa and Europe. John of Hildesheim, a writer and Carmelite friar in the 14th century, wrote one of the most popular folk accounts of the three kings named the Historia Trium Regum. John of Hildesheim was highly educated and traveled extensively within the Holy Roman Empire of Charlemagne, so he was very influential among the clergy. His writings describe each king’s life before the journey to Bethlehem, their lives after reaching the Baby Jesus, and the history of their relics.

Look even Playmobile subscribes to John of Hildesheim's text!

Look even Playmobile subscribes to John of Hildesheim’s text!

The three kings of the middle ages were named: Casper, Melchior and Balthazar. The kings brought valuable gifts fit for a monarch. (Kinda like bringing wine to a dinner party. It’s just rude to show up empty handed.)

Balthazar was an old King of Saba, possibly in Europe or Macadonia, who brought the gift of frankincense. Frankincense is dried tree sap from the Boswellia tree and is used for perfume or incense, particularly in religious worship. So this gift is symbolic of of Jesus’s deity.

Frankincense is still used in many religious services

Frankincense is still used in many religious services

Melchior was a small middle-aged King of Arabia who brought a gift of gold to the Christ Child. Gold is only useful to the living and thus a symbol of Jesus’s humanity.

Casper was a tall young King of Ethiopia who brings a gift of myrrh. He is depicted with dark skin in some European countries. Myrrh is dried tree sap from the Commiphora myrrha tree. Myrrh was used as an antiseptic, an anointing oil and an embalming oil. (nowadays, it used in most all-natural toothpaste. Don’t worry it has antixodent properties.) Additionally Myrrh has traditionally symbolized death due to its use in embalming. Thus this gift foreshadows the suffering and death of Jesus for humanity’s sinfulness.

I wanted to pay homage to the European narrative while not contradicting the logical modern legacy of the Magi. And so the images were simple and recognizable. I fashioned the crowns to look like a turban, an African crown and a European crown. The three landscapes are desert, grassland and snow.

The trees that produce frankincense and myrrh were from the Arabian peninsula and north Africa. So it did not seem to make sense that Balthazar, the European King would bring either of these things. Thus I switched around the gifts to make more geographical sense. The Arabian king brings myrrh. The African king brings frankincense. And the European king brings gold. I hope that historical purists are not too insulted.

There is one banner for each of the three kings. Each banner incorporates a crown, a gift and a landscape. The styling of these elements is influenced by the European tradition. The main method of construction is the use of Applique.

What is Applique? Applique (or appliqué in French) is the method of one material applied to another surface material. The technique is common in home sewing and the textile industry. The method of attachment can refer to anything from painstaking hand-sewing beads to a wedding gown, down to ironing on a 50 cent denim patch over a hole in your jeans. The method that I am going to use is somewhere in the middle.

Making and applying your own Appliquenavityquilt-1

Materials:

  • Printable Freezer Paper. This material can be bought in any supermarket and is used to wrap food. I prefer the craft specific version which is an ink-jet printable 8-1/2″ x 11″ sheet.
  • Lite Steam-A-Seam 2, Double Stick Fusible Web. (I highly recommend this brand for its durability and the paper placement on both side of the fusible web.) (Very Important! If you are using a web with paper on one side you must place parchment paper under and over the applique material to protect your iron and work surface from the web glue.)
  • Sharp sewing scissors
  • Cheaper scissors for cutting the fusible web paper
  • Iron which is not used for steaming or is totally dry.
  • Parchment paper
  • Ironing board or pressing surface.
  • Pressing starch with sizing.
  • Base fabric (100% cotton quilting fabric) which will serve as “the plate” upon you will serve your design.
  • Applique Fabric in various colors: 100% cotton quilting fabric is needed to stand up to the iron’s heat
  • Sewing Machine with thread to match fabric

 

Directions:

nativity patterns myrrh-crown copy

Arabian King’s Crown

  1. Print out a pattern that you like on to a sheet of freezer paper with an ink-jet printer. Print with an ink-jet printer or draw upon the matte side of the paper. The glossy side will lie against the right side of your fabric.

    Step 1 and 2

    Step 1 and 2

  2. On your pressing surface, iron your base fabric. Your base fabric is the foundation upon which the applique gets its strength. It can be cut down to not show afterward but for now it is the land upon which your will build your house. Use the pressing starch lightly to get out all creases. Then iron your freezer paper (again mat side up) to your fabric.navityquilt-3
  3. Use your sewing scissors to cut 1/2″ around your whole design. This may seem like a lot but it can be trimmed down later.
  4. Either print out a second copy of the design on to a new freezer paper sheet or remove the first copy from your fabric to use again.
  5. Iron and starch your first applique fabric. Iron your freezer paper to the fabric and cut out the piece you wish. Repeat from step 4 for all the separate pieces of the design.
  6. Once all the fabric has been cut, put away your scraps. (Don’t throw them out, just yet!) Take out your fusible web and choose a piece which will lie below the others.
  7. Cut your fusible web to the approximate size of your fabric piece.
  8. Peal the lighter paper side off (the side without a grid). (You could draw directly onto the grid side and avoid the freezer paper step. But remember to draw all your designs in mirror or reverse.)
  9. Place your fabric on the fusible web right side up. Re-cover the fabric with the lighter paper side.
  10. Lightly iron and allow everything to cool. Cut around your fabric and leave no selvage.
  11. Remove the paper from both sides of the fusible web and fabric.
  12. Place and position this applique fabric piece on your base fabric piece. Cover with a piece of parchment paper to protect your iron and then press. Your first applique piece should now be secure.
  13. Follow step seven layering your applique pieces as desired.IMG_6238
  14. When all the pieces are secured in place. Use a sewing machine to lightly sew-down all the pieces. Practice first to determine what stitches you want to use. (I use a straight stitch for this.) If you have left a large margin between your finished design and the base fabric, you can use a blanket stitch around the design. (But be very careful to prevent the bunching of your stitches or the base fabric’s edge!) Trim your base fabric as necessary.
  15. Repeat steps 7 through 10.
  16. Select were you want your finished applique.
  17. Remove the paper from the back side. Place your finished applique on fabric in the desired location and iron. Sew to base for a secure hold.

 

NY State Sheep and Wool Festival Recap

Two weekends ago was the The New York State Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, New York. And like many local craft fanatics, I was in attendance. (Yes, this post is sooo late. But leaving the husband and kids at home for the weekend does mean you have to repair the resulting damage after.)                             Rhinebeck-outside

The day was crisp and sunny with all of Autumn’s beautiful colors on full display. Rhinebeck was the picture postcard of a northeast fall.

The Dutchess County Fair ground on Saturday was full for this exciting event. The array of wool related crafts and supplies was amazing and quite frankly almost overwhelming.

Craft specialties on display included: spinning, weaving, needlepoint, felting, knitting and crochet. In addition to the wool-related crafts, the festival featured livestock judging, sheep dog competitions and tons of craft workshops.

The livestock competitions and displays were mostly limited to Thursday and Friday but many animals were still in residence over the weekend. The different sheep breeds varied drastically in size, color and wool. I am not an expert on sheep but it is easy to see why breed specific wool makes such a difference in a yarn’s texture and gauge. A big draw at the festival were whole-cut fleeces from one sheep for the proposes of making your own yarn. Of course you must wash it, card it, dye it and spin it first.

The finished craft vendors and exhibitors were not grouped by their discipline, which made navigation a challenge. In truth, the festival organizer needs to hire a logistics consultant to assign booths. But the amazing creations and products were worth the subway-crowding experience. It was definitely worth the trip up the Hudson.

Among the craft supplies and finished products were large amounts of felting supplies and felted crafts. Many finished crafts were Montessori inspired creations like those from Flowering Heart Farm. While other creations were completely original like the designs from Going Gnome. The growing popularity of felting was reflected by the Best in Show Award which was given to a felted purple blanket of wild flowers.

A wonderful highlight of the festival were the Hooked Rugs. (These rug designs are not your typical “acrylic rainbow rug hook kit that you hide behind the macrame”.) The designs and kits from Hooked on Ewe and The Paisley Studio were beautiful and stylish. Every finished pattern kit was of heirloom quality. I had to restrain every finger on each hand not to take up another project before Christmas. But now I do know what to ask for this Christmas.

Many of the craft supplies were works of art in themselves. One booth by Melissa Jean with handmade porcelain buttons was amazing. The glazing and firing process gives colors a multi-surfaced appearance. Many buttons were whimsical shapes like flowers, stars and leaves which made them all unique.

I will admit it, I have never used a spinning wheel or dyed anything. Perhaps I will catch the bug someday. But until a magical new closet appears out of the ether, new hobbies are on hold.  The spinning bug definitely bit a majority of attendees at the festival. So If you ever decide to start making your own yarn this is the place to get your own spinning wheel, carding machine or dying kit. I can’t wait for next year!