Thursday, January 29, 2015

Homer and Marge Simpson beanies and accessories

I am a fanatic when it comes to The Simpsons and so when we decided to take The Kidlet to Universal Studios for a surprise birthday trip, I knew this would be the perfect time to create an homage. At Universal Studios, there is a Simpsons ride and an entire Springfield built around it. Plus you get to meet the characters!

I started first with the Homer beanie. The construction was pretty straight-forward. It's just an average beanie, all in yellow. When it was complete, I needed to add Homer's trademark hair. For the top hairs, I simply chained a long row in black and did a single stitch across, as tight as I could. This made it stand up easily (in fact, it almost manipulates like a pipe cleaner). For the back of his head, I opted for a zig-zag stitch in a single row made of double crochet stitches. This gave it the perfect height and line weight to resemble his hair.

But what is any outfit without accessories? So I decided to make an accompanying scarf out of donuts. Mmm.... donuts! At first, I'd planned to make a full dozen, but changed my mind halfway through to include Homer's muzzle instead. Since the donuts can't easily be tied around your neck to keep you warm, the muzzle piece keeps your neck warm AND it can be used to cover the face if its actually cold.

The large safety pin that you see in the picture above is actually a skirt/kilt pin that I had. I used it to clip the donuts together when worn as a straight scarf - that way they don't blow around or turn upside down.

I did take good notes as I was making the muzzle and scarf - I will post a pattern soon!

The Marge beanie was a no-brainer. I'd recently made my first beanie using the bobble stitch and I knew right away that's what I'd use for Marge. I used the pattern found here and then added four rows to the back part of the beanie, which gives it a bit of a "mullet" look.

For Marge's necklace, I decided that a crochet piece would match best so I simply made red circles and sewed them all together. They started curling into themselves by the end of the day which gives them more of a spherical appearance, but they're actually flat circles.

I was pretty happy with the way everything turned out but it was so exciting when the people who work at the Springfield section of the park would compliment us. And when Marge and Homer came out for a photo op, they insisted on kissing and hugging us -- and Homer tried to take a bite out of the donuts!

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Interested in owning a piece like this?
Check out my shop
or email me for a custom order!
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crochet beanie, scarf, and mittens!

It's been a REALLY long time since I've posted anything here. Not that I haven't been crafting, I just haven't been posting.

Anyway, I had some spare time over the holidays (vacation time plus I was sick) so I spent a lot of it on the couch with my crochet hook. I am still very much an amateur crochet-ist but I am getting better at reading patterns so I thought I'd give a few things a whirl.

The first thing that I did was make a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles beanie and mask for Ryan. The free pattern that I used (found here) is sized for a child but in the comments it suggests increasing a hook size for an adult. That was exactly what I did - the men in Ryan's family are famous for having Big Giant Heads so I used an "I" hook and I believe I added one extra row of green before switching to the mask color.

This came together pretty quickly, even for someone like me who doesn't work very fast. If you're an accomplished crochet master you could probably whip this out in a couple of hours. It probably took me about 4-5 hours, including some breaks, so not too bad!

I liked the result so much that I immediately got to work making one for my nephew, The Kidlet, and used the recommended pattern size from the blog and it fit 100% perfectly. He wanted a red mask and Ryan wanted a purple, so that's what they got.

Me? I'm not a huge TMNT fan and I don't wear a lot of beanies, truthfully. So rather than make another beanie, I opted to make a scarf. I figured that way we'd thematically match but I didn't have to be overheated in a hat. So I adjusted the mask to fit on a scarf and voila! I made one mask in each color and then the rest of the scarf in 'turtle green'. The best part is that where the green attaches to the mask it's not perfectly flat so it bows out a tiny bit, which actually makes it resemble the roundedness of their faces!

I didn't really write a pattern for this because I just made it up along as I went, but if anyone is interested I'm happy to post it here!

I also decided to go for broke and try and design some TMNT mittens to go with the beanie. I adapted an existing mitten pattern for the thumb and palm section and when I got to the finger area, I split the stitches in half (turtles have only two giant 'fingers'). To be honest, these were mostly ad-libbed and took a LOT of trial and error (mostly error) to get them into a general shape. These took me forever and so I only made one set. Do they match? Absolutely not! If you know what you're looking for, you can see that the seams spiral all over the place and the stitch counts are totally uneven. I tried dressing them up with colored cuffs but they still look pretty dull. Ryan says that they're cool and that he'll wear them; lucky for him he'll never have to prove it! It is rarely cold enough around here for gloves! :)

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Interested in owning a piece like this?
Check out my shop
or email me for a custom order!
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Concept to Collaboration

Last night, I was invited to attend a gallery event at the Fowler Museum at UCLA which was being put together by Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching. (Since the event was open only to current students, we didn't discuss the event publicly - so don't feel left out!) As an extension of the Alighiero Boetti exhibit, we "stable" embroiders came to work on a collaborative piece. More about that in a minute.

First, let's talk about ME. Okay, so I am generally pretty clueless (duh) but last night was a pinnacle moment. I wore a blue sweater which matched my blue nails and my blue sewing kit... 'twas a bit much, I concede. I also had blue sunglasses (last night's look re-created today in the middle image below)... oops!

Peggy Bundy hairstylere-creation of the blue ladyblue nails
tools of the trade

Regardless of my matchy-matchy blueness, I was so excited to see some of my fellow embroiderinos who had traveled from near and far across Southern California to be there. I was so excited to meet Jessica Charleton (nee Kallam) in person after following her online for years. It was great to meet some new friends, too, like Drop Dead Quirky who I didn't realize was Shannon's real-life friend (jealous!). Of course, Shannon (Giggly Mama) and Mark (FilmResearch), and Ellen Schinderman were all great to see again -- old friends are the best friends, right? I think I successfully scared off Jenny Hart, who has been an embroidery hero of mine for many years. She was so sweet and cute and funny (you know her darling blog? Her cheery emails? SHE'S JUST LIKE THAT IN REAL LIFE!!). I was a bit of a dork and she probably left thinking that I am the Queen of the Weirdos (I mean, with that Peggy Bundy hair style, who wouldn't run the other way?!). I hope our acerbic little gossip group didn't terrify her too much because we really, really, really liked her!!

Okay, so, the show: Boetti is a collaborative artist, which is controversial in itself, and for this show the pieces on display were hand embroidered LARGE pieces that were stitched by people (mostly women) in Afghan refugee camps. Part of the "controversy" if you want to call it that is that the ladies doing the work didn't really know or possibly couldn't understand what the end-vision was for each piece. They were stitching away for hours and days and weeks on these gigantic maps and coded alphabet 'samplers' without knowing exactly what the end product would be or how it would be represented. The pieces ranged from maps to alphabets to icons of people and machines -- some of it likely to be unfamiliar to the people doing the work. Could they know if these things would be offensive? Political? Dangerous? Inspirational? Admittedly, looking at the gallery online, it's unimpressive. You really have to see these works with your own eyeballs to appreciate the labor, the craft, and the SCALE of these projects.

As an adjunct to the gallery exhibit, Jenny Hart was asked to create a collaborative piece that would be assembled in a similar fashion. She chose a piece of prose (known only to her) and the words were written on individual slips of paper. Participants - we "stable of stitchers" as well as students - would choose a word at random and then select how it would be depicted: lowercase, backward, cursive, repeating, etc. and write it on to a piece of fabric. The only "rule" was that no one could stitch their own words. The "stable stitchers" were on-hand to kind of get the ball rolling and assist students who may not have embroidered before. It was a lot of fun to interact with students who popped in to the room to see "what's this?" between rounds of Drag Queen Bingo and see how they went from "oh, I can't do this. I don't embroider" to "man! I'm almost done but I have to get back to the dorm! Can someone make a call for me and tell them I'll be 20 minutes late?" All of the finished words will be assembled by Jenny Hart and the final piece will be presented on May 31st (open to the public!) at the Fowler Museum.

The first word that I selected was "did" and, true to form, I chose blue floss to work with.


Our end of the table immediately clicked and the hours literally flew by. We talked about everything (and everyone!) under the sun and had a blast. I only remembered a few times to click some pictures and Amy (DDQ) successfully evaded them all. She's a crafty one!

Shannon & Ellen Concept to Collaboration Shannon, Ellen, & Marksitting next to Cathy and Jessica

It was a great night - very productive, lots of fun. I sincerely hope that we can make it happen again sometime, even if for no real reason!

Also, I have to thank Jenny Hart again for including me in this group. I sincerely appreciated being a part of it. And I also want to highlight her generosity in letting me keep my scissors (squee!!) and gifting me with a set of the new Shy Girl/Shy Boy pillow cases to embroider!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I want to AXE you a question

My bestie, Kate, wrote an amazing novel that was published last year, called The Woodcutter and ever since then my ideas for gifts for her revolve around lumberjacks and fairies. I'm sure that a moratorium will be called soon enough - until then: one more!

So last week Kate was sick sick sick with that horrible flu that was swirling around, so I decided what she needed was a pocket lumberjack to AXE her if she needed a tissue. Inspired by a design I saw online, I came up with this denim pouch with a lumberjack applique on the front.

His face and beard are appliqued felt pieces and his eyes are safety eye buttons (no choking hazard!).

tissue holder

I used a piece of leftover denim from an old pair of jeans and created a pattern for an envelope-shaped pouch to hold the tissues.

border complete

I used a small piece of velcro to hold it closed and protect the tissues.

tissue holder

Inside the pouch holds a single pocket-sized pack of tissues.

tissue holder

Thursday, December 8, 2011

new iPhone case

A few months ago at a tradeshow, I was given a rubber iPhone case. I've been using it because it's practical but I wasn't thrilled about the logo. So boring! I stumbled across a few different versions of puffy painted iPhone cases (like the one Crafty Chica made, below) and inspiration hit!

Puffy Paint iPhone4 Case

So I took up my logo'd case...


And used some acetone to remove the logo. I used acetone made for nail salons (pure acetone, not drugstore-type nail polish remover, although that might have worked too) and a Q-tip and started rubbing.


The acetone loosened the screenprinted logo pretty easily and little scrubbing circles with the Q-tip removed it completely in about 10 minutes.


After it was totally clean, I got to work! Using my theory of "anything that holds still is an art table" I pulled a piece of saran wrap around a cat food box and set to work. I decided to use a bright blue because it makes me happy and I used my dot painting technique to create a circle pattern. I used a glossy acrylic craft paint which I already had on-hand. If you needed to purchase some from Michaels, you'd pay about $1 for the 2oz. bottle.


It all came together pretty quick. From start to finish, I was done in less than one episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun (recommend TV viewing while painting!).


Ta da! For a total cost of nothing and under 30 minutes of work, I completely customized my phone case. Now it looks like MY PHONE and has a bright burst of happy color!


My two cents: I really like the outcome of the craft paint vs. puffy paint. Puffy paint leaves a peaked "kiss" on the surface which gives more texture but because I stuff my phone into a zipper pouch in my purse, I was afraid they'd snag and lift off or the peaks would tear. The acrylic gloss holds a textured dot but it's flatter and there are no "kisses", so it has a decent texture for gripping (on the arm of the couch, say) but won't snag on my zipper pouch.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I should probably stick to knitting

A while back, I decided to finally get down to learning crochet. I bought a book, watched some YouTube videos and trawled the internet for project ideas. I became enamored with granny square quilts. They're so ubiquitous that it seems every house in America has one. At some point your great aunt Ruthie sent one to the family and it's just been sitting in a linen cupboard somewhere, right?

I figured it couldn't be too hard, so I jumped in with both feet. An ambitious outlook to complete my own lap quilt (8 rows of 12 squares). I gathered up my supplies and got to hooking!

Master of crochet!

My first attempts were pretty loose and bumpy, but I figured once I got the hang of it, it would be no sweat! The two above each took 3 hours. No exaggeration. How does any grandma find the time for an entire quilt?!

The more I practiced, the quicker the squares came together. Still, I was averaging about 30 minutes per piece, but these things are a labor of love, right? I dragged my yarn bag and hook with me across the country while traveling for work and would hook up a few more squares every day while watching TV in my hotel room.

About 4 months later, I had enough to start assembling! Over the course of the last two weeks, I sewed together all of my squares and last night finished the last one. HUZZAH!

Only... they were still pretty loose and bumpy. I thought that it was acceptable for a beginner's project and since I was keeping it myself I could overlook the bumps. I also was hoping that a hot water wash and hot-hot dryer would help felt it all together.

It did... sorta.


About 30% of my squares started to unravel. I guess I didn't finish all of the squares the same (honestly, I was winging it since I didn't REALLY know what I was doing). Toward the end, I had started tying the loose strings into knots and then weaving in the tails. It seems to have worked. Except for when it didn't.

I wouldn't say it's garbage-worthy just yet. I could still sew together some patches and probably fix a lot of it. But it's going to be MORE WORK. Either that, or the cat just got a new blankie!

I still don't know how grannies for centuries have managed to build these quilts. I have one that was given to me as a gift for my birthday and I marvel at it daily. The consistent stitches! The lovely scalloped edge! The even sewing! So at least I have one beautiful blanket to look at while I'm patching up my own quilt that looks like rats chewed it!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

glitter painted coffee table

My friend, Brad, is a store designer. A couple of years ago, he was working for Urban Outfitters (Ryan's old job) and they had a store plan to decorate with a bunch of tables. Which meant that he had to make a bunch of tables. What most people don't think about with store design elements is that they're only used for a limited time and then they're disposed of. So after this particular display was done, Brad had about 15 tables that he couldn't bear to part with -- they were a lot of hard work to make by hand! -- so he asked us if we wanted to take any of them. I snapped up this (handmade) coffee table that was painted in matte lime green.

comfy table!

For the past couple of years, I had intended to repaint it. I love the lime green, but it needed some freshening up. I had been debating forever what and how to paint it... glossy green? More matte? Maybe a brighter green or add a harlequin print to it? After stalling for a REALLY long time, I saw that Krylon started making some really great glitter spray paints. After seeing some projects pop up here and there online, I thought THIS IS IT! I'll glitter paint my table!

I decided to stick with the lime green color palette that I already had on the table and chose the Citrus Dream type, which is mostly lime greens with a hint of golds and yellows. The can says that it will cover a 5x5 foot square area, so I picked up two cans thinking it would be more than enough for my 2x4" table.

My first test was on a plain, balsa wood embroidery hoop. One quick spritz did a pretty good job of covering, so I thought this would be a cake walk. The directions say that the paint dries in 20 minutes and can be handled in 24 hours. I figured within an hour, I'd have it totally painted and ready to gloss coat the top...


So, I set up shop on the lawn. I got a big drop cloth to protect the grass, which was a REALLY good call because the glitter flies EVERYWHERE.  My table was pretty scruffy and had cup rings and even a pink patch where some felt got stuck to it (don't ask) but after a quick wipe down, it was ready to start. I figured that the glitter would cover the imperfections, like the cup rings, so I didn't repaint the table first.

glitter painted table, work in progress

Immediately, the paint was disappointing. Firstly, it's EXTREMELY fickle coming out of the tube (which I have since read is common for this paint). When you press the trigger, sometimes you'll get a blast of glitter and sometimes you get a blast of the clear adhesive. Mostly the adhesive. I found that the best thing to do was to shake for at least 60 seconds between sprays, but still you're glitter/adhesive ratio is spotty. The picture below shows the table after two cans of paint. As you can see, there are a lot of uneven patches, where the glitter would rush out suddenly -- even in the steady hand of a pro (my husband, Ryan), there was no amount of "smooth, sweeping motions" that could make it look any better. It's a bit hard to tell in this photo that after 2 cans of paint there was virtually no coverage of the tabletop below. Yes, it's sparkly but it's not GLITTERY and also you can see the cup rings and scuffs that were there to start with. If we had primed the table top white, I think it would have looked a hundred times worse.

Another paint can note: the can frequently jams and won't STOP spraying. This, too, seems to be common and there's no real solution for it. Unfortunately, it also wastes a lot of paint in the process. We would just point it at the table when ever it happened, but it was a sputtering stream and probably added more to the splotches.

glitter painted table, work in progress

Another view of the "patches" of glitter below.

glitter painted table, work in progress

After letting it dry for a couple of hours, we did a touch test of one of the spotty areas and to our complete surprise, it came completely off. Because the glitter/adhesive mixture is so fickle, sometimes it is literally just spraying a pile of glitter so that any breeze would take it away. The drop cloth was a mess, which you can kind of see. I could pinch up piles of loose glitter. We were afraid to touch anywhere else because it left a gaping hole - straight down to the table top - where we'd lightly touched. Which then required MORE paint.

glitter painted table, work in progress

The picture above shows the table about 30 minutes after spraying a 5th coat. It should be dry, but you can clearly see dark streaks running across which we were hoping was wetness. It may have been, but it mostly seemed to be an uneven distribution of the glitter itself.

Below is where we decided to stop. This is 7 coats of glitter paint as even as we could possibly get it. LOTS of delicate touch ups to get the glitter where we wanted/needed it to be, including sprinkling the loose glitter from the drop cloth onto the table top.


This is what it looks like now. We're going to go overboard on the sealant (which, by the way, the paint can does not mention or recommend but is made by Krylon and available with the glitter paint) to hold in as much glitter as possible. I would recommend that anyone using this really load up on the sealant, otherwise the first handling of your object will totally wipe it away. Not to mention get it all over (our house has glittery footprints everywhere and my bathtub will have green sparkles for the next 10 years).

I'm reasonably happy with it, although this took 2 days instead of 1 hour, and about 8 cans of glitter paint plus 2 cans of sealant to get it this far. It's still VERY imperfect and there are spots where the dings and scratches show through (could have been prevented with a fresh base coat of green). I like it, but I'm not willing to invest any more time or money in it. What I had envisioned being a quick project for under $20 has now been a significant pain in the neck. If it had turned out better, I would epoxy coat the top so that it would last forever, but since it's still not quite right I'll make do with shellac and sealant coats.


In the end, I would NOT recommend this paint to someone wanting to take on a major project. It might be fine for small pieces or ceramic or something, but it is such a pain in the neck to even just get it to spray out of the can, that I probably would recommend a paint instead. In fact, on our 4th trip to the craft store for MORE PAINT I found a Martha Stewart craft paint in Golden Beryl that is the exact same color and is touted to have the same overall effect. The bottles are small, sure, but they're $2 so... yeah. You could probably pull off this whole table (legs included) for around $20.


  • your base coat/primer WILL show through, so a complimentary color is recommended
  • you will use more than expected; don't buy based on can's recommendations
  • a sealant is 100% necessary to prevent the glitter from wiping off when you're done - DON'T touch it before you seal it
  • you will make a gigantic mess - be prepared to have glitter in your hair, clothes, food, and pets for a good long while. Because it's microglitter, it's nearly impossible to vacuum or even wash off and it will turn up everywhere. Trust me.