Vinyl Compass

My father-in-law also has a lot of DIY projects, and I’m always impressed by it because I feel like he just knows a lot. He is a man who wears many hats, including but not limited to carpenter, electrician, engineer, boat captain, father, grandfather, etc. He has a fondness for building chairs out of wood (he’s made one or two out of heavy duty plastic, as well), and most recently he upgraded his dock and built a small table with a hole in it for an umbrella stand (see picture below). The table points due south, so he thought it would be cool if I could design a compass rose with a prominent S for him to decorate the table with.

Materials: Adhesive vinyl, Silhouette Cameo, Silhouette Studio, pirate icons (Design ID #29899), Airstream font.

Methods: I actually bought the Cricut Vinyl Sampler from my local Jo-Ann because I didn’t have time to order any online from Silhouette America, plus I wasn’t sure what color I needed yet. As far as I am aware, Silhouette America products aren’t available in stores (please correct me if I’m wrong!). My father-in-law had a rough idea of the look that he wanted, so I went with his suggestions along with my own bit of inspiration. I measured the table in order to determine the size of what I had to work with (at 12″×12″, the piece of adhesive vinyl was more than enough for the job). The compass included in pirate icons (Design ID #29899) had the look I was hoping for: a simple compass but somewhat reminiscent of a captain’s wheel. Since we wanted the center of the compass to be the umbrella hole, I drew two circles and used the “merge” option to eliminate the center of the original design. I also shortened all the sides except for one so that the direction most noticeable would be south. My father-in-law requested I use the Airstream font for the cardinal directions.

Results: According to Silhouette’s instructions, adhesive vinyl doesn’t need a cutting mat unless the piece is too small for the rollers. I did not use the cutting mat, and I performed a few test cuts before my final cut. At certain places, the blade seemed to cut through the backing, which was worriesome. I’m not sure if this is because I was using Cricut vinyl, but overall it did the job. After adhering it to his table my father-in-law coated it with a few layers of sealant. I hope it lasts a long time!


Cloth “Unpaper” Towels

An “unpaper” towel is a reusable, washable, cloth alternative to the traditional paper towel. With a 1-year-old in the house, there are a lot of messes to be cleaned up in the kitchen and dining area. It’s basically a constant battle for mommy and daddy! Now that our son is eating solids, he’s decided that his way of letting us know when he’s done is to gleefully toss whatever’s left on his tray to the floor. After rapidly going through a number of paper towels every single day, I am more than happy to switch to a greener, more sustainable alternative.

If you’re interested in making your own unpaper towels, there are many different tutorials available online if you just do a simple search. For my purposes, I found this one to be the most helpful and most similar to what I had in mind.

Materials: Terrycloth, flannel, KAM snaps (and snap pliers), coordinating thread.

Methods: I intentionally sized my cloth towels to be a little smaller than actual paper towels because I felt that the bulkiness and heaviness of the fabric would make a larger size too unwieldy. I bought one yard or so of terrycloth, and after measuring it, I determined that in order to minimize waste, I could cut exactly twelve 9.5 × 11 rectangles. I didn’t want the towels to be too small either, so I sewed it with a 1 cm seam allowance, turned them inside out, then topstitched at 0.5 cm.

Results: Hooray, I can strike another “to do” off my Pinterest list! I look forward to testing them out. I’ve noticed that some tutorials advise to stitch across the square to prevent the two fabrics from pulling apart, but I opted not to, figuring I’d see how they do first before modifying them further as needed.

2014-07-20 Addendum: I’ve been using the cloths and they’re great! They don’t fall apart on you when you scrub food off the floor or a high chair, and the flannel side is so very soft and comfortable in your hand! One thing I would do differently next time, though, is the snap arrangement. I noticed that this tutorial specifically mentions to put the sockets on the terrycloth side, and I would have to agree. When I made mine, I didn’t think it made a difference, so I arbitrarily put the studs on the terrycloth side and the sockets on the flannel side (link: anatomy of a snap). However, the sockets are smoother, rounded, have a lower profile, and are thus less likely to snag on something as you’re cleaning. Definitely put the sockets on the terrycloth side!

Final Fantasy VIII-inspired tank top mod

I realize I haven’t blogged in a very long time (wow I skipped all of April and May!), but it’s not because I haven’t done anything. On the contrary, I’ve actually done a fair amount of sewing & crafting, but these past few months have been more difficult in terms of having the time and motivation to actually document what I’ve done.

When I’m not blogging myself, I actually spend some of my free time browsing other blogs. I’ve linked to a few of them that I follow (see column at left), and a recent project on one of them caught my attention: Glittery Angel Wings Tank. Inspired by this project, I wanted to do something similar with one of my tank tops, and the first thing I thought of was Rinoa Heartilly.

Materials: Rinoa wing stencil pattern, Silhouette Cameo, freezer paper, iron, tank top, fabric paint (I used Jacquard Lumiere), paint brushes. These two sites were very helpful for use as references: Official Rinoa Heartilly’s Duster Pattern & Rinoa’s Costume.

Methods: Same as UW infant bodysuit. I recently bought a light hold cutting mat for my Cameo and it is much better for use with freezer paper than the standard mat. I definitely recommend the light hold mat for freezer paper!

Results: I still want/need more practice with freezer paper stencils and fabric paint, but overall I like it. The Lumiere paint is much less viscous than puffy fabric paint like Tulip brand, and for me it makes it more difficult to manipulate. The freezer paper tends to get saturated with liquid too quickly and starts to curl up on itself or pull away from the fabric. I’ve tried using a sponge brush vs. a synthetic fiber brush, and for Lumiere the synthetic fiber brush seems to work much better.


Drawstring Project Bag

March Sew Crazy Challenge complete! Phew, with my limited time to craft, I keep going down to the wire on these challenges.

Many years ago, my mom gave me a small piece of fabric which was leftover from whatever she used it for. The piece was too small to do much with it, but the pattern was so cute that I didn’t want to use it for anything until I was absolutely 100% sure what to do with it. Well, March’s Sew Crazy Challenge from Crazy Little Projects came along, the challenge being to sew a bag. Rather than use any of the suggested patterns, I thought I’d make myself a drawstring project bag. The fabric has cats and yarn, which is perfect for something that’s going to be used to hold knitting projects.

Materials: Outer fabric with matching liner fabric, interfacing, drawstring, beads, elastic cord.

Methods: I don’t have a specific pattern, I just roughly based my design on a project bag from Nicsknots that I’d won in a raffle. For the circumference of my bag, I used the full width of the outer fabric. I then calculated the appropriate size circle to cut out for the bottom (take the full width of the fabric minus the seam allowance, calculate the diameter using π (pi), then add seam allowance for the bottom). Luckily, being the nerdy science/math aficionado that I am, I actually enjoyed doing the calculations, though I made my husband check and re-check my math several times just in case. I only put interfacing on the outer fabric and kept it only in the body of the bag. There isn’t any interfacing near the top where the fabric gathers, because I was afraid it would be too thick to open and close properly. I already had the wooden beads, and the drawstring+clip came from the neck of pullover that I have (I had removed the drawstring from the pullover because I never used the drawstring, but my son wouldn’t stop playing with/chewing on/pulling on it whenever I picked him up while wearing the pullover).

Results: It’s slightly smaller than the Nicsknots project bag I have, since the circumference of my bag was limited to the width of my fabric. The elastic does catch a little when opening or closing, but overall the bag is totally usable and I think it’s really cute.


Chinese Knot Dragonflies (now for sale!)

Update on the laptop: it’s dead, Jim. I’m on my 2005 desktop with limited artwork capabilities until further notice.

A few years ago I opened up a store on Etsy with the intention of selling my Chinese knot dragonflies. After zero sales over the course of time I’d allotted myself to “give it a shot,” I deemed the venture unsuccessful and quietly closed the door. Since then, a part of me has often wondered if maybe I didn’t work at it hard enough, didn’t advertise well enough, or just plain didn’t believe in myself enough, so I’m going to try again.

If you click on the store page, you’ll find a link to my Etsy store where these little beauties are currently listed for sale:

dragonfly keychains

I’m still working out the kinks and am likely to make a lot of newbie mistakes with my Etsy store, but I honestly think I can get it to work this time. Fingers crossed!

Make It and Love It

University of South Florida baby stuff

I’ve held off on posting these creations since they are a gift for a friend, but now that I’ve finished them and mailed them to her, here they are! This whole venture started off on a whim. During my friend’s baby shower, I showed her the nursing cover I’d made and asked her if she’d want one. At the time, I was also obsessing over the Jo-Ann team shop fabrics (I bought some University of Washington fabric for myself, of course) and quipped that she should represent her undergrad by using a University of South Florida-patterned nursing cover. She loved the idea, especially now that she no longer lives in Florida, so I went ahead with my plan. Of course, once I had the fabric I got a little carried away (I ordered 2 yards just to give myself extra to play with). I didn’t actually even make the nursing cover until last.

Before I get into describing my creations, I’d like to briefly state my opinion about these team fabrics and intellectual property. There is a very clear warning printed in red along the selvage stating that the fabric is intended for personal use only. By buying the fabric, you are entering into an agreement that you will not sell anything made from this fabric. Unless you pay a licensing fee to use the fabric to make items for sale, it is a clear violation of the respective university or sports team’s intellectual property to do so. Sure, they’re making millions and millions of dollars off of their product, but if you’re going to respect intellectual property at all, you respect it, period. Sorry to be such a downer, but as an artist I care about these things. Phew! Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s see the goods.

What I made (in order): USF infant bodysuit, tag cube, crinkle blanket, bib, nursing cover.

Materials: For the bodysuit: USF logo, Silhouette Cameo, freezer paper, iron, infant bodysuit, fabric paint (Jacquard Lumiere), brushes. For everything else: USF fabric, Dot fabric, interfacing, cellophane, KAM snaps, D rings, various ribbons.

Methods: The bodysuit and the nursing cover were made the same way as previously described (see UW infant bodysuit & nursing cover). For the tag cube, I wanted to make it easier on myself and sew it from a single piece rather than cutting out 6 different squares and putting them together. I intentionally cut the fabric in such a way that there would be two of each kind of square on opposite faces (2 large green, 2 large gold, and 2 of the smaller 2×2 logos). A lot of people have asked me about its construction, so I’m currently working on a more detailed write-up of it as well as creating helpful diagrams for a future blog post in case any readers want to try their hand at making one themselves. For the crinkle blanket, I didn’t want to put ribbons on it since it’s meant to be played with for the crinkling and not for tags, so I only put one ribbon on the side. For the bib, I traced a bib I already have and like for the pattern, and used a KAM snap for the closure.

Results: This stuff all took a lot longer than I thought it would to make. I’ve been working on it since mid-January! Minky dot fabric is a pain to work with, and unfortunately I did not enjoy it at all. Maybe I need more practice working with knits.

Make It and Love It