Sunday, August 17, 2014

2 twisted wine cork wreaths

While I was in California last year visiting with my family, I got the chance to make my parents a really BIG wine cork wreath to hang over their living room fire place.  The space demanded a big wreath, so I made one using a pool noodle and larger child sized hula hoop as the wreath form.  I wanted a lot of movement in this wreath so instead of just stacking the corks symmetrically around the form, I twisted them around it.  I'm revisiting this project now because I just finished making a smaller version for my apartment door.  I love how both wreaths turned out and I have a few little tips to share with everyone that I learned along the way.

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Tip 1: Burlap

As you can see, I covered the form with wide burlap ribbon so that the corks would have something to grip onto when I hot glued them down.  The burlap is also the perfect color base for the wreath so your gaps don't show the pool noodle color (no one wants blue pool noodle poking out form under their cork).

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Tip 2: Sort your corks

The part that I found the most fun was choosing the individual corks to go on the wreath.  There are so many really cool ones out there to choose from; plus, I put a few special ones on the wreath too.  

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But, before you start gluing, sort out the small, long, and special corks.  As I put the corks around the wreath, I found that sometimes I needed a smaller or bigger one to make my row fit right.  I even had to cut a few corks down a bit to finish my row, but I always hid those ones at the back.

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Tip 3: Placement

I did a lot of looking around the internet at different cork wreaths before I designed this one and I didn't see any that twisted the corks around like I did here, maybe it's because getting the placement right is hard.  If you're using a pool noodle like I did then I found that 6 corks per row was just perfect.  Once you get your first few rows in place it's important to make sure that you re-adjust  your corks as you go so the angle stays the same all the way around.  Because corks are not all uniform in size, it's easy to loose the angle.

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Tip 5:  Add a hanger before you glue the last few rows.

It took exactly 365 corks to cover this wreath, two bags of full sized glue sticks (not minis), and three days that involved wine and margaritas.  I blame the spot that got a bit wobbly on the margaritas :)  Just a note. This wreath turns out pretty heavy so make sure to use a sturdy length of wire to make a hanger before you add the last few rows of cork.  There is no good way to wrap a wire around the corks after you finish.


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Tip 6: Support the weight at the top and bottom

Even though I loved this wreath plain, I wanted to add a few wine country touches with grapes, leaves, and even a humming bird.  I love the little hummer because my parents always have a zillion hanging around their feeders.  When we hung this wreath, we used a 25lb picture frame hanger at the top, but also supported the weight of the wreath with a nail at the bottom to keep the wreath from sagging.  The bottom just sits on a large nail secured into the stud.  

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Tip 7: Choose a very even form

When I made the smaller version of this wreath for my front door, I only supported it from the top, but I used a lot of the same construction tips from the big wreath.  I only wish that I hadn't used a straw form because it is not uniform enough all the way around to keep the corks from getting off track.  I should have made another pool noodle form or bough a foam form so that I didn't have to deal with the the wobbles in the straw.

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I love how the door version turned out too, and I'm happy to have a nice wreath to celebrate the end of summer for my door.  I hope that my tips can help you make your own wreath to decorate your home.

How everyone else is celebrating the last part of summer?  Any special trips, activities, or projects planned?  

Thursday, August 7, 2014

August Illustration

So, just doing a quick share today.  It's been a few months since I posted a monthly illustration, and this month's was inspired by our upcoming move back to the USA.  Yep, it's official.  We'll be moving back to Texas (where it all began for my family)  in November.  I'm going to miss Germany, but I'm also ready to be with our family back home.

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We just told our families today and everyone is excited.  My brother-in-law is especially happy that everyone now knows because he's been keeping the secret for the last week while I finished the moving announcement.  I think it was totally worth the wait so we could share the news in a cute way, and my husband understands my particular brand of crazy enough to go along with me.  He's a good guy :)

I really, really can't believe that it's already August!  Summer has just flown by, and I can honestly say that this is one of the best summers that I've had in a really long time even with all the rain we've had over the last month.

We went to the Alps for vacation and hiked all over for a week. I could absolutely see myself living there it was just so beautiful.

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We also visited a few museums in Innsbruck, Germany and they had the most beautiful antique spinning wheels on display.

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It's amazing the level of detail in so many antique pieces which is missing from today's utility items and tools.


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Okay, I think that I've tortured you enough with my holiday photos, but really look how much work went into carving this spinning wheel!  :)

What were you all doing this summer.  Projects? Trips?  I'd love to hear about all your adventures. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

There are Superheros Amongst Us

Because I have been super busy with school this summer (it's my Senior Year of College), my kids are doing a lot of solo play.  It's great to see them all at an age where they can just have fun together without Mommy having to come in and direct things all the time.  Lately, they've been really into playing super hero games with each other, but the blanket capes were constantly needing to be tied and retied.  This was making my little super heroes a tad cranky, and Mommy said "no" when they asked me to pin the blankets around their little necks (I suspected that that might end badly).  So, we dug through my stash and made a trip to the fabric store in order to find the perfect super hero cape fabrics!

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Each cape and mask is double sided with an appliqued initial on one side.  I used a modified version of Sherri's cape tutorial, from her thread riding hood blog, for the capes.  I modified the shape and length a bit according to my kids' sizes and I added some light weight stabilizer around the collars to make them a bit more stable.

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I used some satin fabric from my stash for my daughter's pink puppy cape and adding the stabilizer really made a big difference in how it was laying.  It's going to be a while before I'm convinced to use any kind of silky fabric again, that stuff is slippery!

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For the masks, I used Dabbles and Babble's superhero mask templates.  By adding a seam allowance I made them double sided by flipping them inside out.  I also used a bit of stabilizer between the layers to help the mask keep it's shape and I really suggest that you don't cut out the eyes until after you satin stitch around the eye holes.

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This was a great little summer project and my kids insist on wearing their capes everywhere.  I think that I'm going to have to make a few for the nieces and nephews for Christmas too.

Friday, April 18, 2014

2 Fat Quarter Stocking Tutorial

Welcome to the fourth month of the HO, HO, Ho and On We Sew link party - April!

I'm thrilled to guest host this month's the HO HO HO and on we sew linky party.  It has really helped me to to get motivate to start early on my Christmas and Hanukkah gifts this year, and I hope that you will join me by linking up your Christmas project too.

Celtic Thistle Stitches  

Every month on the 18th, Paula at Mud, Pies, and pins and Fiona at Celtic Thistle Stitches will be hosting a link party where we can showcase our work and get inspired by each other and the variety of guest hosts that they have lined up. There is also a wonderful giveaway for entering the linky party.

To Add your link click below!


This month's prize was kindly donated to us by Raystitch, http://www.raystitch.co.uk/  It's great little mini Cross Stitch Kit that would be great framed, as a pin cushion or even threaded with a ribbon for a pretty ornament.

Raystitch HHHaoWS giveaway

My Project this month is a Super Simple Stocking Tutorial.  This pattern is suitable for most beginners with some basic knowledge of sewing and you can download the stocking pattern here.  The best part is that it's fat quarter friendly; you only need 2!  

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This stocking is based on the set of stockings that my mother made for our family back when I was a little girl.  Hers always seemed to be just the right size for most stocking stuffers (not too big that it never seemed full, and not too small where nothing would fit).  They were made from pre-quilted calico and rick rack and I've always adored them.  My mother was kind enough to fish this one out for me and trace it so that I could share this pattern with you today :)

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My version is the same size and shape as the original, but it includes a lining and is quilted by machine instead of using pre-quilted fabric (although you could use pre-quilted fabric if you want). It finishes to around 13h x 11w inches.

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The pattern comes in four pieces that you will have to tape together.  Make sure to turn the "scale to print" feature OFF!  

Supplies You Will Need
2 Fat Quarters (one for the body and one for the lining)
A piece of batting as big as a FQ
A piece of scrap fabric to back your stocking body for quilting (this doesn't show so it can be any cheap fabric that you have on hand)
A scrap of Felt or Fabric for the Initial
Medium Rick Rack for the loop and to trim

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1. Lay your pattern pieces out on your FQs and cut 1 normal and one reverse for both the body fabric and the lining.

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2. To add quilting to your stocking you will need to take the body pieces and make a quilt sandwich.  I used a piece of cheap muslin for the backing (since the lining will cover this) and a scrap piece of batting for the middle.  Lay your body pieces on the top and pin through all three layers.

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3. Quilt your body pieces using any technique and pattern you desire.  I quilted a simple diamond pattern to accentuate the dot design.Cut you quilted body pieces out.

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4. If you plan on adding any embellishments such as an initial or trim, now is the time to do it.  For an initial, print your letter out to size using your favorite font.  If you are going to use a fusible to adhere your letter, make sure to choose the "mirror print" option so that when you flip your letter right-side-up, it is not backwards.

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5. Sew down your letter using a zig-zag or straight stitch and sew a straight line through your rick-rack to secure it.

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6. Pin your rick-rack loop in place making sure that it is more than 1/4 inch in from the edge so that it doesn't get caught in the seam when you sew the edges.

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7. Okay, here's where it gets interesting :)  Lay your body fabric and lining fabric right-sides together and sew across the top edge using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Repeat for both sides.

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8. Open up your joined pieces and lay the right sides together matching the edges.  Sew the body side using your 1/4 inch seam allowance.  When sewing the lining side, increase your seam allowance to 1/2 inch so that it fits better when you turn it right-side out.  At the bottom of the lining, leave an opening big enough so you can easily invert your stocking.

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9. Trim the excess seam allowance from your lining fabric side and take a moment to notch your outside curves, and clip your inside curves on both the body and lining.  Don't skip this step.  Your seams are bulky and wont turn smoothly without a few notches and clips.

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10. Reach through the opening that you left in the lining and turn your stocking right side out.  Smooth your seems and your curves down from the inside until you are happy with the shape.

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11. Fold the seam allowance to the inside of your lining and sew shut.  Don't worry about making this invisible.  It wont show since it's at the bottom.

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12. Push the lining into your stocking body and maneuver it around until it sits smoothly inside. To give your top edge an added layer of security and finish, top stitch the body and lining together using a generous 1/4 seam.


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Now your are all done and your stocking is ready to hang or to give as a gift!  I hope that you found this tutorial easy and fun.  If you have any questions please feel free to email me.

It's your turn to link up and show us the Christmas project or Christmas gift that you've been working on this month.  You have 'till the end of the month to join us and be entered into our lovely give-away!

Click on the link below to enter!




Also, I'd like to thank our sponsors.
My PhotoQuilting Fabric at the Fat Quarter Shop Ray Stitch HaberdasheryPosie: Rosy Little Things Backstitch   Plush Addict Logo

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Birthday Girl Apron

I know that all moms say that they can't believe how fast their kids are growing up, but it seems that every child's birthday sneaks up on me and catches me off guard.  My youngest just turned four this week and I barely got her present done in time.  Thanks to a husband who stood guard outside of my sewing area, I finished my daughters birthday apron just in time for her party.

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I love aprons.  They are great practical gifts, and it was high time my littlest helper got her own for when she helps me with the dishes and when she cooks in her play kitchen.

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This is a reversible pinafore apron with a crisscross  back.  I like these for little kids because they can get them on and off without anyone having to untie them.  Sorry, I didn't use a pattern for this apron, but here is a free pattern by Japanese sewing books that is similar.  You could use to get the same style.

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I love the retro coffee pots and tea kettles fabric (by blank textiles) on this side of the apron.  I added some useful pockets and decked them out with some scrap binding and bows.

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The reverse side was made from a butterfly fabric that's been in my stash for awhile now, and I scrounged up just enough apple fabric to make two pockets on this side too. I was happy with how quick this came together and my daughter is thrilled to have an apron "like Mommy's" when she helps out.

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Since I had everything out already, I went ahead and made a second apron for my niece.  I used the same brown butterfly fabric for the reverse, but did a full pocket on the front with some appliqued birds.  Since I'm trying to do at least one future Christmas gift or project every month this year as part of the Ho Ho Ho and on we sew link-up party (see my links to the right --->, I'm going to stash this away until Christmas.  I might add a child sized oven mitt to her gift too.

Friday, February 21, 2014

February Sketch

Did you think that I forgot to share my sketch for this month???  While this may be a little late for Valentines day, I firmly believe that it's always the right time to tell someone that you love them or express how grateful you are to have someone in your life.  Right now, I want to thank the whole blog community for always being so wonderful and generous.

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I hope that you like my little Robot buddy.  He's hand drawn and then colored on the computer in Adobe Photoshop Elements.  The font used for the message is called Forget me not and it can be downloaded for free personal use.

As always, I want to show you a bit of my process so that you see how a doodle can become an illustration.

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This was a doodle that I did on a scratch piece of paper.  I did a few different robots, but this was my favorite concept.

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Here is where I redrew the doodle into my sketchbook so that I wouldn't loose it.  I also refined the idea a bit more.  You can see that I first thought about doing a gauge on his chest, but then I changed my mind when I was doing my final inked image.  

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After scanning it, I decided on how I was going to color it with the help of my best buddies!  It has become a household tradition that each time I finish a new sketch, my kids get to color their own copy.  My middle son was a bit bummed that my robot didn't have a sword so he drew his own :)

You haven't seen the last of this sketch!  I have a plan for my little robot buddy; you will be seeing him again very soon.


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