Monday, January 16, 2012

T-Shirt for Me

It started out as a project to clean up my craft room. In the process, I kept finding old projects I had meant to create - which distracted me from my original goal, to clean up my craft room. This is one of those projects.

Over a year ago, I picked up a couple of t-shirts from Target on clearance and an iron-on design from Jo-Ann's, also on clearance. (I have a bad habit of seeking those clearance sections out.) And I had an unopened Silhouette rhinestone kit that I'd been itching to play with. Since my iron was already out (something I never use) for another project (and another blog post), I decided I would try my hand at making myself a t-shirt. Voila...

I ironed the design on the right shoulder and the bottom left. You can't really see the design on the bottom but it's there - a very faint shadow that adds a little extra design element. The iron-on was for light-color fabrics, so it was more like a dye than an applique design (like the iron-on material for Silhouette, for instance). It got darker the longer you left the iron on it.

Next up was to get the rhinestone design cut from my Silhouette. I found the heart (from the rhinestone starter kit CD) and the swirl (flourish_3_2362) design and cut them out in the correct rhinestone size (I wish that was an easier process - how are you supposed to keep track of what size rhinestones you need for the project?).

Then the trouble started. I don't know if my blade was dull or if I just didn't cut deep enough (I used the default settings for cutting the rhinestone material) but the little circles didn't cut all the way through. Ugh. So I had to painstakingly push out and remove each of the bajillion circles from the design. Huge pain.

Okay, moving on. It was time to place the rhinestones in the template. Fun! Only not. At all. The kit comes with a paint brush thingie and tells you to gently brush the rhinestones into the template until they are all facing up. Only that doesn't work at all. The brush just pushes the rhinestones away, especially any that you actually get into the template (by accident). So I broke out my tweezers to place each rhinestone into the template. Deep breath.

I was able to pick up the rhinestone design perfectly with the transfer tape and place it on my t-shirt. Whew. I placed a pressing cloth over top of the rhinestones and set my iron on top. After 60 seconds, I checked my progress. Only my iron wasn't plugged in. Sigh. Plug in the iron. Try again. 60 seconds later, it was looking good. I gave it a bit longer, and then removed the transfer tape. Beautiful rhinestones left behind. So pretty.

Uh-oh. Then I noticed that my pressing cloth had sucked out all of the dye from my original iron-on design. Sonuva.... Luckily, it was faint enough that I decided to just try to iron the design on again, over top of the rhinestones. There was just enough dye left in the transfer paper to make the design show up again. And if it's a little offset from the original, it just gives it a little extra shadowing. (Or so I told myself.)

So in the end, I did end up with a new t-shirt, even if I did have a few (several) moments of wanting to throw the whole thing outside. It ended up looking very pretty.

I may not be making more t-shirts very soon, but I do like wearing this one. It reminds me that seeing things through can be rewarding. Occasionally.

Linking up to:

Monday, January 09, 2012

Gallery Wall

I made my very own gallery wall. I actually finished this up last fall but haven't had a chance to blog about it with all the holiday projects. I've seen so many beautiful gallery walls with words or quotes inserted in them all over Pinterest, and I decided to do something similar.

I had a bunch of framed black and white photos of my boys from newborn age up to age 5. (Now that they're 8, I definitely need some new ones.) They're all framed in black frames with white mats - I like the consistency of using pretty much only black frames throughout my house, so that the frames all match, no matter what shape or molding they have. And I had a blank wall in my foyer that needed decorating. So gallery wall, it was.

Before I started hanging, I needed to clean and reframe some of the photos. These had been hanging in our house in Kansas City for several years and were in need of some TLC. I was kind of amazed at how dusty the inside of a picture can get when it's been hanging on a wall for 7 years. I used this opportunity to open each frame up and clean it. I also penciled a name and a date on the back of the photo and on the front of the white mat. (Only Dad and I can tell them apart some days...)

My handy tool set included:
  • Swiffer duster - to dust :)
  • Windex wipes - to wet clean the glass (love these!)
  • Norwex polishing cloth - to dry and shine the glass
  • Painter's tape, glue, and clips - to glue and hold the frames together in a couple of spots that needed some love
  • 3M Command hanging strips - I am obsessed with these strips. I used these strips to hang all the photos on my gallery wall, even the big 20x16s. The hanging strips aren't as cheap as just nailing into the wall, but they are super easy to use and leave your walls intact. I have these in multiple sizes and keep them around continually. (The 3M Command wall hooks are a must as well - they go up quick, hold well, and come off really cleanly.) 
Then it was time to hang everything on the wall. I should have planned this out - but that is not my style at all. LOL. Instead, I just put up the first photo, and then the eyeballed where I wanted the next one to go, etc. In the first iteration (yes, there were several - see "I'm not a planner, above"), I had three straight lines of photos across the wall. And it was awful. They were straight and level, but it looked all wrong.

I took everything down and started over. Sigh. Another try. Still not what I wanted. I was driving my husband crazy at this point, with all the picture frames laying all over the floor of the living room for a week while I tried to figure out where I wanted to place them.

Finally, I had the bright idea of leaving an open space in the middle for some word art. That made all the difference in the world, and I was able to stagger the photos around the wall. So much better.

For the word art, I used phrase Live & Laugh (live__laugh_C00896_23067) from the Silhouette store. Under that, I added shape Flourish 1019 (not sure where this was from, I'm not finding it in the Silhouette store). Both were cut from black vinyl. I just love, love, love how it turned out. It makes me smile everyday.

The whole wall turned out really great for our space. Now, I just need to add some more recent photos of our boys...

Linking up to:

   Tuesday To Do Party      

Fox Hollow Cottage

Monday, January 02, 2012

Baby Quilt

I made a quilt! It's the first one I've ever made - and I love how it turned out. I made this for my brother's baby girl and gave it to them as a baby shower gift. It matched their color scheme so well, even though it was just a mash-up of beautiful, crazy colors. So happy they like it!

It's an incredibly easy quilt pattern - the classic rag quilt. The front is smooth...

...and the back has all the seams, frayed to be super soft.

This quilt is super easy to make. Here's the directions in a nutshell:
  1. Cut your squares of fabric and batting - mine were 6-inch squares, with the batting cut just a 1/2 inch smaller. Make your squares larger or smaller depending on how big you want the finished size to be.
  2. Make little quilt sandwiches with a piece of batting in between two pieces of quilt fabric.
  3. Sew an X from corner to corner on each sandwich. This is easier if you sew them in a continuous line, leaving just a tiny gap between each square. So, sew one line of the X for all your squares, then clip them apart, then sew the other line of the X for all your squares, then clip them apart again. (It will make sense when you start sewing.)

  4. Lay out your squares in the order you want to the rows to be. Sew the squares together in long rows, keeping the seams to the same side.
  5. Sew the rows together. This part get tricky because your quilt will get super bulky and you'll have to roll it up to fit it into your sewing machine. Just be patient (not something I'm good at!).
  6. Edge the quilt with a double-line of stitching all the way around.

  7. Clip the seams just up to the stitch line. Clip them about a 1/4" to 1/2" apart. Yes, ALL of the seams. This will take a long time and you might want to wear a glove to protect your hand. Use good scissors. Watch a movie while you're doing this because it will take a long time.
  8. Wash the quilt at least once - you might want to do it twice. This is what will fray your clipped seams. Check your seams after the first wash to see how it looks. When you're happy with the fraying, put it in the dryer. This will fray it some more. You will have SO MUCH lint you will think you surely broke your dryer. Also, you and your clothes will be entirely covered in lint and thread. Go outside and shake everything off. You can also use a lint roller or brush to get more of the lint off.
That's it - your quilt is finished. You will love it even if it seems like you will never be clean of lint again.

One more time - isn't it lovely? I'm ready to make another one for our bedroom. How long will it take to make a king-size one? I'm sure I'll be ready to cut off my hand by the time it's done...

Linking up to these parties:

Christmas Gift

I love making gifts for Christmas - this one is easy to do and looks so pretty when it's finished. I gave these to my "moms" this year and also to the boys' teacher. Everyone really loved them.

Just find a frame that you like - I used a 5x7 frame for my gifts. I then framed some beautiful Christmas scrapbooking paper behind the glass. On top of the glass, I adhered a white vinyl "joy" cut from my Silhouette. This was a free shape they gave out during their 12 days of Christmas (joy_C03059_1). I was so happy to use it - it was perfect for what I needed.

That's it - very easy to make and lovely as a Christmas present. You could customize these for any holiday or birthday. I'll be making more soon, I'm sure...

Christmas Home Tour

I know Christmas 2011 is officially over, but I thought I would finally get my Christmas decor photos posted. (Resolution for next year - post this earlier!) Let's start in the foyer...

I posted about this wreath already, but this is what you see first when you step through our front door. A bright and cheery spot.

Next is our living room. This was our first Christmas in our new house, and we put our tree up in the living room. The boys love to decorate the tree. We had a lot of fun putting up our ornaments and remembering the special memories attached to each one.

The coffee table with Christmas decorations - the photo album is one of my most favorite things. It has our Christmas card photos for every year since the boys were born.

I set up several of my Christmas house on top of the hutch. I used boxes under the snow to elevate them and then put up lights behind them. Very pretty!

Finally, our mantel. Probably my favorite of everything this year.

I made the new Christmas art piece.

I used a $5 garage sale frame and painted it black, sanded it a bit, then varnished it with a very light coat. I covered the background with a pretty silver wrapping paper and put it behind the glass. On top of the glass, I hung the red felt star (from Target). Very easy and very cute, I think.

I also made the garland for the mantel. The evergreen garland itself is a cheap one from Jo-Ann's. I added two long red berry swags and a strand of lights. The pine cones are actually light covers from another strand of lights that I used here instead. I also stuck some Christmas holly picks in the garland after I hung it on the mantel.

I also framed a few new stitching projects I finished up this year.

"Home for the Holidays" is a free pattern from You Can Make I love the red with the turquoise - such happy, festive colors.

The Santa cross-stitch is a kit from Jo-Ann's. Very simple but cute.

At night, the lights on the tree and the mantel make everything look beautiful.

That's it for our Christmas tour - hope you had a wonderful holiday!

Outdoor Christmas Decor

I've had a lot of fun with our front porch this year for Christmas...

Isn't it pretty? I love it. I hate to take it down now that Christmas is over.

The bench is a work-in-progress but started out as a garage sale find that was missing a seat. Byron cut and attached some boards so I could use it for now - I plan to paint and finish it up once the weather gets warmer again. The sled is another garage sale find. I'd love to find some old ice skates too. The rest are bits and pieces from my holiday stash.

The ladder behind the bench and the old chair are the same ones I had out for Halloween, just dressed up for Christmas instead.

I wove lights in and around the chair and trees on the bench so that it really looks pretty at night.

We didn't put up lights all over the house this year, but Byron did put in green and red lights for our exterior lights - it looked really nice.

That's it for the outside - next up, a Christmas tour of the inside of our home.
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