Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tutu Tutorial Tuesday

A few weeks ago I won a contest on my craft-friend Tess's blog. Check out her site here - misstess.com. In addition to being beautiful, she's wildly creative and fun. The prize I won was a tutu kit - 4 colors of tulle pre-cut into long strips, elastic, and tutu-making instructions. Fun!


 Since McKenna's the dancer in the family, I decided to make one for her:

It came out very fluffy. I'm afraid she's going to tickle all the dancers around her with her great big tutu. So I made her a more manageable one:

And I still had several strips left over so I started playing with them and ended up making this:

Simply take a strip of tulle (approximately 3" x 40"), fold it in half, cut the loop, fold in half again, cut the loops, and continue until you have a handful of tulle strips approximately 4 inches long. Then take one of the strips and tie all the other strips together with it tightly in the middle. Viola! A tulle ball. Now what? Well, you can stitch a barrette to it:

and wear it in your hair.

or tie a couple to some hair bands:

and make tutus for your pigtails:

 or stitch a pin to it:

add a fancy button, and wear it on your chest.

I thought this pin and barrette looked rather Christmassy. It's a cheap and easy present you can make for the funkier ones in your family.

I also made these by going one fold further and ending up with tiny 2 inch tulle balls:

I'm not sure what to do with them though. I finally found what they're good for - a cat toy!  Now I  know why Tess likes tulle so much. The possibilities are endless!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Custom Monster Making

Recently, a friend asked if I was still making kokoleo monsters. I haven't in a while. I used to make and sell them all the time. I stopped partly because of the scary CPSIA that basically makes selling one-of-a-kind handmade toys illegal in America. But shhhhhh, don't turn me in, I made some anyway.

I told my friend, sure, "I'll make a couple monsters for you." and she said, "Great, I'll send you the drawings my nephews did." Ha. I forgot that on my website there's a section called Design Your Own Monster, a service which no one has ever taken advantage of before. (Note to self: Revamp website ASAP.) I accepted the commission anyway, and I'm happy I did. 

Here's Bruce's monster drawing:

And here's what I came up with:

 I tried to be as true as possible to his artwork. The most difficult part was devising a way to make the extremities sturdy; a problem I solved by reinforcing them inside with 2-ply naugahyde. The next problem was the face since it was drawn in outline form; the mouth wouldn't look the same against a blue background so I added a circle of white fleece and it instantly looked more like the drawing. Here's a view of the back:

Next is Brett's monster:

I wasn't sure if the rocket thingies shooting out the sides were part of the main monster, so I looked to the 3 tiny monsters hanging beside him. They were each drawn similar to the big guy and since they didn't have rocket thingies, I figured the rockets were separate. Having solved the last outline issue with white fleece, I did it again for this monster:

Back view:

Now they're in 3-D form, freed from their papers and ready to fly across bedrooms, fight off evil-doers, scare away bogeymen, and snuggle with two very creative brothers. Bye guys!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tutorial Tuesday - Freeing the Frankenteddy

This coming Friday is my birthday. Yesterday, I got a package in the mail from my mother. In it were some nice presents, a few cute Thanksgiving decorations, a birthday table runner, and some questionable clothes. I'm guessing, since the clothes weren't wrapped and they didn't have tags and they looked more her style than mine, that she was donating them to my fabric stash. She knows when she sends me hand-me-downs that they sometimes end up all cut up. As a personal style rule, I steer away from wearing teddy bears and shoulder padded sweaters. I'm all for patchwork too, but in this case the patchwork effect is kinda creepy.

 It was almost as if the zombie Frankenteddy was speaking to me asking, "Please get me off this sweater and make me a real teddy bear. I promise I won't eat your children's brains." So I obliged. Here's how you can free any other poor character out there from the confines of their ugly sweaters.

First, turn the sweater inside-out and carefully cut out both sides together. Don't handle it too much or it will start to fray.

You can hand stitch it, but I recommend doing it on the machine for less mess and faster results. Leave an opening in an inconspicuous area (I chose the inside of one of the legs), turn it right side-out, check to make sure there are no gaping holes where the machine missed, and stuff it, then hand-stitch the opening closed. McKenna helped with the stuffing part:

Much better. Now there's one less ugly sweater in the world and one more zombie teddy bear.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jessie's Tree

 Two summers ago my friend Jessie gave me a box full of gorgeous vintage velvets fabric that had belonged to her grandmother, an artist and quilter. 


  When her grandmother died and the family cleared out her home, Jessie chose the huge heavy box of fabric as her memento and lugged it on a plane all the way from West Virginia to California. She told me that more than anything, seeing and touching those velvets reminded her of her grandmother - her style, her quilts, and her art. The problem though, was that Jessie doesn't sew, so the fabric stayed in the box in a closet in her house. One day she brought it to me and asked if I could use it. I said, "Yes!" It was the kind of haul that would have cost hundreds of dollars retail, yet it was vintage, impeccably kept, and unlike anything available today. All she asked in return was one of my trees. She told me she had wanted one of my tree wall hangings for a while, but thought she might love it even more if it was made with her grandmother's velvet. She said there was no rush, to take my time and let it happen whenever the inspiration struck. 

  Then, a year and a half and 800 miles later when I was unpacking the box into my new kokoleo studio, inspiration struck, and a few weeks later it made it's way back to California in the shape of a tree...


rooted in family, friendship, West Virginia, California, Washington, and love.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Peace Out, Turkey!

Last fall, Sage and I made this peace sign t-shirt.

And it was featured along with a peace-themed tutorial I wrote in the Fall 2009 issue of Kids L.A. magazine.

Since they didn't use these pictures, I thought I'd share the tutorial with you. It's a quick fun project in which your kids can give you a hand... literally. Simply iron some Heat-N-Bond light to the back of some fabric.

Trace your hand.


Cut it out, iron it on, and stitch it down. It's that easy! When Sage tried that shirt on the other day it didn't fit anymore and his hand was bigger than the hand we traced a year ago. Time flies and kids grow fast; every now and then it's good to stop and record the moment.

When I was trying to come up with something to make for this week's Tutorial Tuesday, I thought of that project and decided to combine it with the quintessential Thanksgiving craft - turkey hands! This time McKenna lent me her hand.

I added some felt, a button, and a turkey beak and waddle left over from last week's turkey craft...

and stitched them together like this:

 High five... Turkey!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Tutorial Tuesday - Turkeys!

In an effort to hop back on the blogging bandwagon I'm designating Tuesdays on  a patchwork world as Tutorial Tuesdays where I'll share simple craft tutorials, sewing tips, patterns, and who knows what else. We're finally settled in Seattle and kokoleo is back in craft-action and a tutorial assignment is just what I need to inspire me to share what I'm doing in my studio. In honor of fall and November and Thanksgiving, Tuesday Tutorial #1 was inspired by this turkey...

that McKenna and I made in her Crafty Drop-In class at the Renton Community Center led by Kelly Desimone-Affleck. (Check out her cool custom greetings and design shop tomato-tomato.) It's a finger puppet made from a cut-off glove finger. I'm not sure if Kelly made up the project or found it somewhere, but it's cute.

Now, you might be thinking, "So your first tutorial is going to be a a total knock-off of someone else's idea?" No, because people who write tutorials based on other people's projects are lame, especially when those people claim the projects as their very own and don't give props to those who gave them the idea. Just sayin'.

Months ago, on a whim, I signed up to do a charity craft bazaar at a local church. I figured it would be an easy affordable way (only $25 for a table) to get back into craft show mode after several months hiatus. Last Friday I panicked because I realized I hadn't really prepared for it. I have tons of kokoleo inventory but no holiday wares or cheap crafty trinkets that the type of people who attend charity church bazaars like to buy. So I decided since I had a bunch of leaves left over from McKenna's costume that I would make a bunch of turkeys. And I did.


Instead of using glove fingers and craft foam I used brown, yellow, and red pleather, and then combined all the pieces with hot glue.

And instead of finger puppets, I made magnets:

and pins:

and barrettes:

And I didn't sell a single one. In fact, I only sold two things that day and they were to fellow vendors. Worst show ever. The turnout and venue were so bad I left 4 hours early, and I never do that. Note to self: Never, on a whim, sign up to do random craft bazaars you find on craigslist. 

So now I'm stuck with a bunch of goofy turkeys. Want one? Be the first to comment and I'll send you one free of charge. (Spammy robots are not eligible).

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Happy Halloween!

I can't let the fall go by without a Halloween costume round-up. Lord knows I spent a ridiculous amount of time on them, I really ought to immortalize it with a blog post. Presenting... a coffin and a pile of leaves.

But not just any coffin... this coffin had a mummy in it.

 I successfully steered McKenna away from the princess route and talked her in to being a pile of leaves. I spent all of $8 worth of leaf garland from Michael's. The brown shirt and brown pants were already in her closet and I  just stitched leaves to the arms and ankles, then made a hooded bubble-shaped  top from some brown fleece I had in my studio. I stitched each leaf up the middle, maybe about 80 leaves in all. When I had her try it on she said, "I think I want to be a ghost now." Ahhh, three-year-olds. Luckily she came around when it was time for trick-or-treating.

 People thought she was A. a tree, B. "Fall", and C. Marjorie the Trash Heap from Fraggle Rock.  When asked, she told people, "I'm leaves!" duh!

Sage wanted to be a mummy in a tomb. He was adamant about the "in the tomb" part. And the tomb had to have R.I.P. on it, and eyeholes, and a door that opened. Alrighty then. I took up the challenge though, based on his drawings.


Years ago I needed light blue vinyl for a purse and found something ridiculous like 14 yards for $24, so I got it and I've had tons of it ever since, enough to make a coffin for my son, which is kinda creepy now that I think of it. I figured I could sew heavy naugahyde better than I could duct tape together cardboard, so I did. The top ended up being floppier than I thought it would, so I had to reinforce it with cardboard at the top and in the door. I even sewed the cardboard to naugahyde in some places and miraculously did not kill my machine. I put a handle on the door and holes in the back so it attached to him like a backpack, and then we painted it black. It was a good thing it was waterproof because when the kids went to trick-or-treating in the downtown Renton it acted as a full-body umbrella and he stayed warm and dry inside.

 I made the mummy part for him after he went to bed one night - tattered muslin pants, tattered muslin stitched to a thermal underwear shirt, and a tattered muslin mask. The best part about making it was being able to leave all the threads hanging. Thankfully, when he tried it on in the morning, everything fit perfectly.

On Sunday night, we attended a Halloween party in our neighborhood. After spending all my time making costumes for the kids, I didn't have much time for my own so I threw together a costume I've worn several times before - Raggedy Ann.

 Sage said, "Raggedy Anne again? You really should get more creative with your costumes." Har.

Erik went as one of the Blues Brothers - Elwood. Here he is with Sage playing the part of Jake.

 Raggedy Anne, Elwood, a mummy in a coffin, and a pile of leaves - no cohesion whatsoever. Someday maybe we'll do the family-theme thing. We went trick-or-treating with our friends in the neighborhood - about 30 of us altogether - kids and us parents trying to keep up with them as they ran from house to house, many which gave out full-sized candy bars. This neighborhood rocks.

Have I mentioned that I love it here? The trees, the autumn leaves, the brisk air, the friends, the house, the brand new life - everything. Best move ever.


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