Today I’m sharing a couple gifts I made before Christmas. These were mitts I knitted (knooked) for my mother. They were for her birthday in November, but as is occasionally the case with handmade gifts they were a couple weeks late. (Because nothing says, “I love you Mom!” like exactly one knitted glove, right? Oops.) Mom was gracious about the wait. I made these out of sock yarn though the pattern called for heavier. I find that my gauge in knooking is often a little large when the pattern calls for ribbing or something with a lot of stretch. But these worked up quite nicely in the sock yarn, and they’ll be warm and washable. I used the Vineyard Lace Fingerless Gloves pattern and thought it was a good one, but wasn’t sure my choice of yarn showed off the design to its best advantage.
This is a long sleeve shirt I painted. I did one for each of my two nieces, personalized with their initials. I sketched the laurel wreath design on freezer paper, then cut it out to make a stencil. To make the letters I just printed off the lettering I wanted and traced them in good light. As always, I used Martha Stewart craft paint, which works very well and knit shirts and washes quite nicely.
I needed a cute outdoor-friendly salt and pepper set for our new patio area. I bought an inexpensive set and personalized it.
Whoa! Bad head-cut-off selfie! Maybe it was better before I had the phone, when I could only post about projects for myself that warranted enlisting husband’s help. Anyway, I used fabric paint and more freezer paper stencils on a t-shirt. I felt really brave doing this one because it was a shirt I kind of liked as it was, but thought would be improved with a design. Painting on a nice Eddie Bauer shirt requires a lot more fearlessness than painting on the cheapy Costco tee, but it turned out well once I braved it.
And I was just experimenting at this point. I sleep in this old pink shirt, and now I’ll sleep in it more often!And my husband bought a new (to him) car, and to surprise him I quickly painted shirts for all three kids so they could wear them when we went to pick it up. Fabric paint dries quickly and freezer paper stencils are reusable, so I got them done! It’s fun to make a big fuss out of a little family deal. This is what they’ll remember when they are grown, right?
I think I’m reaching new lows here with the mirror selfie. Apparently if I have time to document my projects at all, the best I can do is with a cell phone selfie. But since the point of this blog is just to be a diary for myself of my projects I’m going to go with it. Project recorded! I bought a plain gray t-shirt at Costco and embellished it with a freezer paper stencil. I’ve used and loved freezer paper stencils before (t-shirts for the kids, a bat table runner, Worth’s pocket friends come to mind immediately) but never used the technique to make a shirt for myself. I was downloading some feather and arrow embroidery files for another project (check them out if you are on Pinterest) and I got to thinking that feathers and arrows are kind of like the new owls and chevrons but I like them better. Which led to me thinking that maybe I needed some cool feather and arrow stuff myself, but all the embroidery files for my machine are a little small for adult apparel, and then I thought that maybe I needed to spend $100 buying cool feather and arrow fabrics on Fabric.com (because, you know, it’s like Target–you can’t ever check out with less than $100 even if you only needed one thing), and then I decided that maybe I should just try to use fabric paint and save my $100. And so I did.
I used an Xacto knife and straight edge to make the arrows and just freehanded the rest with the knife. I’m not very artistic when it comes to two dimensional stuff but feathered arrows aren’t too complicated. I used the multi-surface Martha Stewart craft paint and the kids’ paint brushes to fill in my homemade stencil, and that was that. I’m pleased with the shirt and the stencil is still intact after peeling it off, so I think I may put my design on a tote bag next.
Last fall I hit some nice clearance sales and picked up some off-season summer clothes for my kids to grow into. This spring I pulled them out and, all new and with tags and exciting, except that during the intervening six months my son Worth apparently decided he will no longer wear plain pocket t-shirts. They are “plain” and “babyish.” Because, you know, all really big boys go around with gigantic lizards or tractors on their shirts, right? Hmmmm. But instead of just giving up on these perfectly nice shirts I decided to try and liven them up a bit to suit my boy’s taste. I made freezer paper stencils and painted little “friends” coming out of the pockets. Now he likes them and wears them quite happily. I’m a little horrified that I ruined perfectly nice shirts with my bad freehand “art,” but am just going to focus on the positive. I told him this one was a little buddy–but he calls it a pocket monster.
This one is a shark that looks sort of like a blue banana too. But Worth loves it.
And finally…I realize this is probably going to end up on one of those websites where mean women make fun of other people’s blogs, but whatever. In retrospect I should have printed images on the paper to make my stencils, but I felt all self-empowered to do my own bad art, so I did. This one was supposed to be a dog, but Dorothy thinks it is a giraffe, Rob says llama, and Worth calls it a wolf. Really, I don’t care, I’m just glad it is shirt #3 that my son will now quite happily put on and wear.
This is our basement playroom. This is also the room with the old fireplace insert and all my fabric on shelves. We bought an IKEA futon when we moved in and I would haphazardly cover it with quilts to try and combat our cat hair issue, since our cranky old cats have staked out this room as their particular habitat. I had a cheap butterfly chair in the corner and we tossed toys into plastic bins. It was fine, blah, a basement playroom. Last year we did most of our homeschool lessons down there, but this year we’re more likely to camp out with our stack of books and manipulatives in whichever part of the house seems most appealing on a given morning, so this room is really used exclusively for playing and crafting. Unfortunately this room also used to flood in heavy rains, which meant that our train table (not pictured) had yogurt cups around the legs, we couldn’t have a rug, and all the storage and furniture had to be made of water-resistant materials. Ugh. This fall, however, we had our basement waterproofed and I decided to improve on our newly dried-out space. I found a sweet vintage toy box to store the dress-up things, an old comfy rocking chair, and an inexpensive rug. I recovered the seat on the rocker and I sewed a new cover and pillows for the futon out of sturdy indoor/outdoor fabric that stands up nicely to the cat wear. A set of old wooden shelves became easy toy storage.
The pillow covers have overlapping back panels so they stay on well but also come off easily for washing.
The old rocker now beckons you to the basement to “reboot” and relax. (Freezer paper stencil and fabric paint.)
I dressed up more old kitty litter tubs with scrapbook paper covered with contact paper to store small toys such as balls, matchbox cars, and little people. Now the whole family gets more (and more pleasant) use of our playroom space. It has a cozy cabin feel with the fireplace and the old pine walls. We appreciated it fully earlier this week when we spent part of the night down there, listening to tornado sirens howl outside!
We did some early Christmas unwrapping today, allowing the kids to paw through the little items that were from their parents, as opposed to the more mysterious gifts that will come from St. Nick tomorrow. I made the kids these canvas art smocks/aprons to wear during their own crafty pursuits. Dorothy had a tiny little painting smock when she was a toddler but it long ago lost its straps and fell by the wayside. My method of keeping the kids clean during art projects has been to send them upstairs to change into old t-shirts when I think about it, but that’s rather inconvenient when one has been hit by inspiration. These sturdy canvas smocks should allow them to act on their inspirations without the burden of climbing two flights of stairs and locating an acceptable shirt. I used fabric paint and freezer paper stencils to paint their initials onto each apron.
Of course unwrapping the smocks caused inspiration to hit immediately, so we had to pull out paints and brushes and canvas boards to try them out.
I made these “favorite newspaper” cufflinks for Rob. He likes novelty cufflinks to lighten up his stuffy lawyer garb and we’ve had fun in the past gluing Legos and bottle caps onto cufflink hardware. This year I used a 1-inch round craft punch and epoxy dots to make cufflinks from his own used newspapers. I punched clear plastic (like from the packaging of new toys) for the backing.
And this is a brand new batch of cold-process (lye) soap. I make unscented “man” soap for my brother whenever he starts to run low. He likes a soap without weird chemicals or fragrances and I like the opportunity to make something handmade for a brother who doesn’t need much. This soap will come out of my extremely expensive and fancy (ha!) dishpan mold later today and I’ll cut it into slabs before I give it to him tomorrow. It will still need to cure for 4-6 weeks, but if I give it to him straight from the mold then he will be able to cut it into just the right size bars himself.
I think I’m setting a new record here for time in between blog posts. Fall is such a busy time anyway, but this year ours has been plagued by time-consuming work duties (Rob’s work, but I’m helping), home repairs, more home repairs, and car malfunction. Ouch. These things do seem to come (unpleasantly) in clusters. I’ll not drag you through the details, but do look for an upcoming post about camping with a Uhaul pickup–once I can laugh about it. But we’ve been crafty in between all these diversions. I made a sweet new dress but don’t have any pictures yet and we’ve gotten a little obsessed with freezer paper. I made these shirts for my kids and nieces for my sister-in-law’s 30th birthday. You can find good tutorials for making freezer paper stencils on other blogs–the basic idea is that you cut out our design for the shirt with a craft knife, then iron the shiny side of the freezer paper to your shirt and dab paint in the missing spaces. I was able to make all four of these shirts from one stencil; you can just peel it off and reuse it several times.
I had picked up packs of plain t-shirts at Target for us to be crafty with this year (they came out to $.80 per shirt, on sale) so I was well supplied when I got the idea to make more shirts to support my friend Toby who was participating in his third Ironman triathlon. The marathon portion goes right by our house, so the kids and I like to cheer him on and be inspired by all the men and women competing in that very impressive event. This time I used a stencil font (I print out the words and trace them onto the freezer paper before I cut) and that made the project easier than the Mollukah shirts because there were no insides of round letters to worry about.
This was a different kind of freezer paper project. I saw this on Pinterest and had to try it. You print directly onto the shiny side of the freezer paper with your computer printer, then dampen the fabric you want the image on, then rub the printed image onto your damp fabric. I thought it worked pretty well. I made a little bag for a friend’s birthday and then another just for fun. These images look better if you’re going for a somewhat rustic or primitive look–they aren’t vibrant or crisp. It’s still a fun, low-cost method and I’m sure I’ll use it again.
Moving away from the freezer paper, I made a baby carrier for my cousin. I make this carrier from my own pattern, based on my most beloved carrier purchased from Babyhawk. I made it reversible in pretty, bright fabrics that reminded me of her. I made a little drawstring bag with her monogram on it to stow the carrier in. I hope she gets as much use of it as I did of mine. I think of the smell of a fuzzy little baby head snuggled up onto a mama’s neck in one of these carriers…and it reminds me that I’ve got my hands totally full now, in spite of the baby-lusty feelings that daydream provokes! Maybe I can just borrow the carrier and its baby from my cousin for an afternoon. 🙂