Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thrift Thursday: Vintage Stationary

I love finding vintage stationary at thrift stores and estate sales.  Somewhere, hidden in a drawer for 20-30 years, these papers stayed blank and never sent.  Thankfully, at least they were preserved, and when I happen to find them still bold and bright and crisp and blank and often for less than a dollar, I have to get them. Kokoleo customers might recognize some of these prints that I've used for the hand-written thank you notes I include in my packages.

I'm drawn to the kitchier patterns, like day-glow daisies and patchwork,

 butterflies and cartoon animals,

scalloped edges and fancy borders,

 and unique invitations (Evite be damned!),

or anything offbeat. These notepads reminded me of R. Crumb cartoons:

I tried to write a thank you on one once but it just came across as angry and yelling, so I didn't send it.

And since I don't want to end this blog post with screaming  and finger-pointing, I'll leave you with these sweet little girls...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Giving Tree

I'm a member of the PTO at Sage's school this year and my job is to create displays for the front hall. This winter we decided to make a "Giving Tree" where people could pluck off paper apples containing classroom material requests submitted by the teachers. The hope is that families will purchase some of these items and donate them to classrooms in need. As a former teacher I know how often I purchased items for my classroom without expecting reimbursement. 

Here's the tree (pre-apples) that I made for the hallway:

 After I stapled it to the wall I realized it was a little too fat but oh well, the kids didn't notice. I also made a felt banner with hand-cut letters in the style of the hand-drawn font on the title page:

While researching reference material for this project, I came across this animated version of the story I don't think I've ever seen before (though I've heard and/or read the story 100 times or more). It's from 1973 and narrated by Shel Silverstein himself. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Peek into the Process of a Custom Plush Commission

Two weeks ago I received another custom plush commission and a young girl's "Googly Eyeball Lady" drawing arrived in my inbox:

I have to admit, as adorable and imaginative as she is, I was a bit intimidated by the task of recreating this 32-eyeballed lady. When I do a custom plush commission, it's important to me to stay as true to the child's work as possible. Since this was a very detailed line drawing, I did this custom plush a little different than others I've done - I copied it. Here's how:

First, I enlarged it in Photoshop and printed it out in three parts which I then taped back together:

 Then, since the line drawing was faint, I traced it with a Sharpie:

and place it under white fabric and traced it with a pencil:

  You can barely see the pencil lines here without the drawing underneath:

First, I ironed on some stabilizer to give it added strength. Next, I referred to the original often as I sewed over the lines with an embroidery stitch on my sewing machine. When the stitching was completed, I ironed another layer of thin stabilizer onto the back to seal it and secure any loose stitches.

Here's a picture in progress I sent to to my customer so she could select a fabric for the back:


She chose this one:

And here's the finished product:

The Googly Eyeball Lady is now a Huggable Cuddly Googly Eyeball Lady.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Custom kokoleo sensory/ fidget accessories for a girl with autism

Recently, I was asked to create a "sensory skirt" for a young girl with autism. My friend Jen is a special education coordinator for a public school in West Virginia and one of her students was having trouble sitting still on the school bus and was starting to throw things.  It was suggested that a "ribbon skirt" might help to keep her hands occupied on the ride so I was commissioned to make one. The reference photo I received was simply ribbons stitched to a ribbon waistband, but Jen and I decided that a variety of textures might be better, so I made this:

It's composed of  various ribbon, ric-rac, lace, tulle, grommets, machine-embroidered alphabet ribbon, and elastic - stitched together to make a funky kind of tutu.  It was intriguing enough to keep a fidgety child occupied for a while, I thought, but not interesting enough.

I have always been interested autism. When I was teaching I had students who were considered "on the spectrum" and I did some research on the disorder so I could find ways to reach them. One thing I remembered reading was that some people with autism are calmed by weighted clothing.  The tutu I made seemed too lightweight and too prone to become a tangled mess, so I looked around my studio for the most heavyweight  material I could find. The velvet I got from my friend Jessie's grandmother was perfect. Next, I found a pair of cut-up jeans I'd been using for various projects and I cut out the pockets. Then I needed items of fidgety interest - zippers, ric rac, shiny brass buttons and some super-soft fringe.  I assembled all the pieces on the velvet and double-stitched them down securely.

In each pocket, I hid a plaything - a fuzzy pink heart in one and a smooth embroidered vinyl smiley face in the other. Each were attached securely to the inside of the pocket with some ric-rac. Since this girl's problem was throwing things, I figured I'd give her toys that would come back to her when she tossed them.

The waistband is a thick elastic that wraps around like an adjustable belt and secures with a metal double-ring  buckle at the hip. The thick fringe trim plus another velvet piece on the back make it substantially weighted, yet soft, like a thick lap quilt.

I envisioned the girl's mother wrapping this apron around her daughter's waist before her bus ride and then the young girl sitting in her seat, comforted by the weight of fabric on her lap, moving the zippers back and forth, up and down, tracing the zig-zag pattern of the ric-rac, seeing her reflection in the shiny brass buttons, running her fingers through the super-soft fringe, and pulling out the fluffy heart and smooth smiley face to play with on the ride to school. That's my hope at least.

I got an email from Jen today. She said the girl like the tutu, but REALLY liked the apron. That makes me happy. I hope it helps.

Are you interested in a custom fidget apron for someone with sensory issues or autism? Send me an email and I'd be happy to discuss a design to fit your needs.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thrift Thursday... For the Family

Wait, it's Thursday already? The week went by fast. I had plans of photographing some of my collections of thrifty treasures (vintage mugs, stationary, wrapping paper, fabric)  but never got around to it. I've been pretty busy with commissions, which I haven't blogged about either. That's next on the agenda. But this afternoon, instead of doing any of that, I went shopping. It's was half-price day at Value Village and I found some awesome deals. Armed with $58 I made off a recent pillow commission, I got all this:

A Kenneth Cole faux leather jacket in shiny new condition for Sage. 5 bucks (originally $9.99). Even he admitted it was pretty cool, and he's pretty picky when it comes to his clothes. He also got a Shawn White flannel and Mossimo cords for $5. Pants, a shirt and a jacket for $10 - not bad considering they would have gone for about $100 retail.

McKenna got this shirt and embroidered jeans:

for $2.50, and a striped shirt, black velvet Levi's, and these rain boots, which I wish could fit me:

The kids also got to pick out one toy each, the getting of which was dependent upon their behavior in the store (yes, I bribe them). Sage got a Nerf Super Soaker ($4) and McKenna got a Playdough tiki pirate ship playset ($3). Toys weren't on sale but it was a small price to pay for being allowed to shop in relative peace.

McKenna also got these CDs:

because she listens to music every night and I was getting tired of the same old songs. We listened to most of them when we got home and they're great. ($2 each, not on sale) She also asked for this book:

Which freaked me out a bit because I had this book as a kid and loved it. It's a scratch-and-sniffer and though it's lost all it's sniff-ness, for 69 cents I had to get it.

It was slim pickins for kokoleo finds, but I did get this Shakespeare linen:


for 99 cents. I'm envisioning a pillow or tote in the near future, the perfect gift for some Shakespeare nerd. (As a former English major, I know they're out there.) 

I also got Erik a pair of Steve Madden shoes for $2.50 but he told me if I post a pic of them on my blog he won't wear them because he doesn't want people commenting on his blogged-about thrift store shoes. But he liked them.

Finally for myself, I found some new-with-tags running pants for $5 and this frilly top and flower pin:

 for $5 total. And I, unlike Erik, don't mind if you comment on my thrift store finds.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Thrift Thursday Returns!

I haven't done a "Thrift Thursday" in a while and I think it's time to revive the tradition. Here's my latest acquisition:

A tiny painting (5" x 7") of the massive Mt. Rainier. At least, I think it's Mt. Rainier. (It looks similar to the pics we took on our visit to Mt. Rainier Park). Purchased at the Goodwill in Kent where, when you stand in the parking lot on a clear day you can see Mt. Rainier in the distance.

It cost me 99¢. The frame is a little worse for wear and I may revamp it, but I'm loving the little window to the outside world it gives to my windowless bathroom.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

How to Make an Ice King Mask (and Princess Bubble Gum too)

Last one and then I'm done. These have all been published on Instructables (and featured on their home page - whoo!) but I thought for posterity's sake I'd publish them on my blog too.

I used this pic for all the characters I made:

and came up with this for the Ice King:

White Fleece works well for the beard and eyebrows, but you'll need some sturdy material for the other face pieces. I used vinyl, but you could also use posterboard.

Cut out the face piece as shown.

Before you cut the eye holes, hold it up to the wearer's face and mark where to cut.

Lay the face piece on top of your fleece and cut out the beard. Cut out some eyebrows from the scraps.

Cut out a frowny mouth and pointy teeth.

Cut a crown and 3 red gemstones.


 Cut out a space in the beard for the eye holes.

Apply a generous amount of fabric or tacky glue to the back of the mouth and face pieces and attach them to the beard. Do the face first, then lift the nose and insert the mouth underneath.

Glue on the eyebrows and teeth.

Glue the gems on your crown. On the back of the crown, I glued on a thick fusible stabilizer to reinforce the points and make them stand up. You could also use cardboard.

Attach the crown to the face with glue or a sewing machine straight stitch. Measure around the head and secure with a straight stitch or heavy duty glue.

With a sharpie, draw lines on the gemstones and under the eyes.

For the robe, I got a blue graduation gown at the thrift store. To keep the beard in place, I used glue dots on the shoulders.

My husband found it difficult to see while trick-or-treating in the dark, so he simply turned the crown around and wore it backwards. (Also a good tip if you want to drink at a party.)

For Princess Bubblegum, I made a crown out of the same vinyl I used for the Ice King's crown and added a green "gemstone" (cut from an old shower curtain). I reinforced it on the back so it would stand up.

For the outfit, I bought a pink shirt and skirt at the thrift store and made a purple sash to go around the waist. For the hair, I bought a Rapunzel wig and sprayed it hot pink with temporary hair color (which rubs off on anything that touches it).

Whew! That was quite a labor of Halloween costume family love.


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