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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Seed Bead Embroidery

I've always wanted to embroider with thread. Then, I got a Martha Stewart kit and realized that I really don't have the patience.  However, I love the look of beaded scarves and shawls.  I have some beautiful pieces that I really treasure.  After stamping, sewing, and dyeing a bunch of fabric to turn into scarves, I thought I would give it a try.

Here is an assortment of seed beads, thread, and some straight beading needles.

I bought a lot of my seed beads in bulk for $40 from an old co-worker in 1999.  He has been really into it and had tons of them.  Some are plastic, some glass.  Various sizes and colors.
The fabric is below.  I stamped (using bunta mango stamps http://learningcurve2012.blogspot.com/2013/02/bunta-block-printing.html
) a design that I wanted to follow.  See the three blue beads.  Ugh, it was SLOW GOING.
I started randomly beading in and around the designs.   Next small I will focus on a small area.
I have a LONG way to go on this one.  Okay, it might take years to finish.  Look for an update in 2023
Bead embroidery tips: Be prepared to lose a lot of beads in the process.  Some fly, break, tumble away. I do pick some up later so I don't have to panic after I string one and drop ten. I also use beeswax to strengthen my thread. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Toddler Busy Box

I wanted to make an activity box for my nephew.  In a few short months, he will have a little sister who will be nursing.  Jackson already knows how to play alone but I wanted to give him some new activities to do so he won't be restless.  I started researching "busy boxes" online. Many of the ideas I found were a little more advanced but I tried to adapt them to a 21 month year old.  As with making anything for Jackie safety is first! I adapted many of the ideas from:
http://engagingtoddleractivities.wordpress.com/tag/busy-box/
1. Color sort with clothes pins:
Take a the cardboard from a frozen pizza.  Brush off crumbs.  Draw lines to create a "pie."  Color in like the color wheel.  I used crayon.  Then, I printed out the colors using my label maker. I laminated one side with clear contact paper. I took eight clothes pins and colored them with the same colors.  The toddler will "sort" by clipping the clothespins to the corresponding color.
 
 
 
 2. Pipe cleaner color sort:
I traced another pizza cardboard on a piece of chalkboard paper. (You can use any type of paper.)  I then punched holes in the cardboard using a regular hole puncher.  I then took paper reinforcements and colored them the same colors as my pipe cleaners.  The toddler will again push the correct color then the hole. 
 
 3.  Interactive family/sorting books:
At our local World of Value outlet, I found chipboard 9 X 9" scrapbooks with o-rings for $1.99. (Now I am kicking myself for not getting more!) All I had to do was use a glue stick to adhere the pre-cut paper to the hole-punched chipboard. Then, you use an metal "book ring" through the pre-punched holes.  Anyway, I wanted to make Jackson more books with pictures of him, the family, and animals.  (Next time, I will do trucks.)  For his first year, my sister took a monthly picture of him wearing his age.  So we have "Just Born" to "11 Months."  These are really great to see the progression of our boy from an infant to a runner.  I already made a great set of magnets that he loves to play with on the refrigerator.  So I printed these out, laminated them, and then used Velcro to attach them to the book.  I also used stickers to put the age in the corner of the page so Jackson can "match up" his age with the number.  Let's face it, Velcro is a lot of fun to rip off.
 
 
I also used stickers from Aunt Patty as embellishments.  Thanks!  I then made a second book which is a school them to do more family, dog, and farm animal pictures to "match up."  I also added some smelly stickers in the pockets.  I hope he doesn't try to eat them.


 
 4. Hole punch fish to thread yarn through:
I used my Pet Shop Cricut cartridge to cut some fish images.  I glued the fish to cereal box chipboard and cut out with scissor. Then, I punched holes all around the fish.  I laminated them with contact paper and re-punched the holes.  On one, I used the paper reinforcements but I don't think they are really needed.  I tied a scrap piece of yarn around one end.  I don't know if a toddler could do them but I figured he can at least unstring it.  I didn't make the yarn too long for safety reasons.
 
 
 5. Pom-pom push container:
I also tried to make some simple "pom-pom push" things from recycled containers.  I just cut a coin size slit in the lids and put some colored pom-poms in the container. 
 Finally, I found an old briefcase in my garage. I washed it out. Then, make a sign, laminated it, and used rainbow duct tape to attach.  I also added big crayons, Crayola markers, coloring sheets, watercolors, an apron, and even some baby paper dolls.  I don't know if Jackson will like this.  He really likes to be throwing balls but is starting to color and use Playdoh.  I am going to keep searching for ideas.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Burb Cloths

Besides making baby bibs, burp cloths are the easiest projects I've come across.  My sister found a blog that had great directions and a free burp cloth pattern.  She asked me to start to make some.  Before I visited the site she recommended. I just googled baby burp cloths and hand drew a quick pattern.
I had some 12 x 18 black construction paper. I folded it and drew a shape on one side.

I cut and then trimmed the bottom because it looked a little too wide.

My sister gave me some remnants of yellow fleece that she found for a few dollars.  I used fleece for the back and cotton for the front.

I traced my pattern and outlined in black Sharpie.  I wasn't worried about the line marks because I was planning on sewing this inside out.

I turned the burp rags inside out and sewed around. I did pin the cloth together as the fleece really seemed to move. IMPORTANT: The best place to leave your opening to turn right side is ON THE SIDE.  I then flipped and sewed around the border. Then, I quilted the front so it lay flat.

 

I finally cleaned my rotary mat for easier cutting.  I also used yellow thread and I really liked the way it look.  This was such a great project to practice different stitches on.  I used the zig zag and a few other ones.
 
I went to the following website and downloaded the pattern for free.  http://www.newconceptions.com/free.htm
It was really easy to print, cut, and glue the pattern on a piece of paper. I did cover the pattern with contact paper.
 

I think this shape is nicer than the one I drew.   However, both do seem to stay put on the shoulder.  I can't wait till my little niece is using these. 

My sister came over to sew.  She stitched the remaining bump clothes together.  I think in total we made around eight or nine.  Some of these we plan to keep and others we will give out as gifts.

 
This is the pink remnants I bought at Joanne's for Valentine's Day.  Check out that "baby bump"!

 

 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wires, Wires Everywhere

 
 
                  Before                                                                After                                       
 
      I help supervise a tutoring program two days a week after school.  We rotate into classrooms just keeping an eye on our college tutors and students.  When sitting in these classrooms observing, I've often been struck with "classroom envy."  I think about the organization of the room, the decorations, the posters and signs and often think, "Great idea!"  One of the coolest ideas that I just had to "steal" was the cloth wire "skirt."  They made the computer areas look much neater.  Since I have as much technology as I can get in my classroom, I have a ton of wires.  My LCD projector and ELMO are on a cart so the wires not only run across the floor but bunch up near the computer.  Not only was this dangerous, it was really messy looking.  I think I've tripped over the wires at least once a day for a year.  I've tried various hooks, taping wires together, etc. but it never worked.  The cloth skirt is exactly what I needed.  Since rainbows are my favorite thing, I decided to use my awesome tie-dye ribbon on a blue broadcloth.  I also got to use my tie-dye thread in my sewing machine. 
 
View from the front.  My next goal is to work on eliminating the other clutter.  I want to really cut back on things that I never use. 
 
The first thing I did was "measure" by bringing in the cloth and marking it with tailor's chalk and masking tape.  I left space to hem the fabric. Then, I sewed the ribbon on the top.  I brought in Velcro and just added a circle every foot or so.   I need to push the boxes under the cloth in more.  Or better, I could get rid of them.
 
I only made a cover for the front.  I've been thinking of making one for the side.  Is this necessary or overkill?  Our whiteboard stuff is in the blue bin.  Attendance and daily handout materials on kept on the desk. 
 
 One of my students offered to tape down the other loose wires on the floor. He used masking tape first and then covered it with tie-dye duct tape. 
 
 

I didn't want to overdo it on the carpet as I've gotten in trouble for leaving marks on the carpet in the past from masking/duct tape. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pink Triple Strand Necklace Inspiration

 

These days we are thinking pink!

Where does inspiration come from? Why are some of us compelled to create?  Last night I spent two hours making this necklace.  I am thinking how I get "inspiration."  I don't always create because I want to, sometimes I just have to. For me, creating is like an itch that I must scratch. I really miss having a place to sell my jewelry.  I used to sell soap, cards, decoupaged boxes, candles, and jewelry on consignment.  However, when I got my full-time teaching job ALL I did for years was school related.  I stopped having time to make things just to sell. That store is now out of business.  Now, I just create because I have to.  I get an idea in my head and it must come to life.  How does this happen? Read on.
 
 
Frequently, I find ideas on the web that inspire me.  However, although I did "pin" things on Pinterest and use One Note, I do really print those images out.  Another way I get ideas is from catalogs. My mom gets dozens of catalogs that she gives to me.  My favorite is Robert Redford's Sundance.  I have never bought anything from it.  Let's face it, everything is just way too expensive.  However, I find myself tearing out necklaces, bracelets, scarves, pillows, and even boots that I love. 
 
 
I have been making collages from magazines my whole life.  I have a lot of canvas boards of in progress collages that I "transform" into a vision board.  All I do it cut out the images that I want and glue them on.  I really don't like to start with the terrifying blank canvas so I might paint or use glue random things down first.  Sometimes I use spray adhesive but it's probably easier to just use a glue stick. I then cover them with matte gel medium or decoupage medium.  Sometimes I get crazy and use E900 to glue 3D materials like buttons and metal on the board. If I have it, I will use big pieces of cardboard.  I really liked the necklace from Sundance. I though that I could try it.  I did have chain but not the garnet tear drop beads.  That's fine because I would never "copy" the design, just let myself go in any direction I wanted to.
I found pink beads in my stash that we beautiful. Some were use cheap plastic beads.  However, I found many real semi-precious gemstones. I got most of the them at the night market in Chiang Mia, Thailand many years ago. The faux pearls were taken from an old costume jewelry necklace.  I am don't usually use large beads so I thought I would give it a try.  I also added a small heart charm to the top layer of beads.  I have a massive collection of seed beads that I bought from flea markets and an old coworker.  I found a silver three spacer finding that connected the three strands into one. 
 
I am most comfortable using tigertail and crimp beads. All you do is thread the tigertail wire through and then smash the crimps with pliers. It could not be any easier. I used faux silver clasps from Michaels. I did have some issues with the metal being weak and bending.  I work on the floor bending over my work trunk.  At times I have to work on my side because my legs fall asleep and my back cramps.  Also, half of my seed beads end up in the carpets so it's easier to pick them up.
 
 
So that's how the magic happens.  I flip through a catalog and minutes later, I am digging through my stuff. 
We are getting my nephew started on the creative path. I bought him washable large crayons.  He is sitting at his booster seat at the kitchen table. I think he likes putting the crayons in the box just as much as he likes to color but it's a start. I put a poster below his tablet to protect the work surface.  Now bad for 20 months old! I think he is ready for play-doh and finger painting.