Saturday, December 10, 2011

Oh, Baby!

Babies have started popping out everywhere in my family during the past couple of years. With little ones around, I've been able to broaden my crafting horizons and am looking forward to making more things as they grow up. My sister-in-law, Tara, will be having a baby boy, Brayden, anytime now! Maybe this post will get things moving...

First up...doll beds!


I saw this doll bed at an antique store and immediately thought of my two year old niece, Delaina (Tara's first child). It was only $7, so I snatched it up with plans a brewin' to paint it and make a bedding set. The bed was made in North Carolina, which is the mecca for furniture in America, so painting it was probably "wrong" of me...but the bed was asking for it.

First, I spray painted the bed in Krylon's gloss ivory.


I wanted to make a mattress/sheet, so I bought two squares of foam for $1.99 each. I cut them to fit inside the bed and had a little leftover for pillows.


I found some green fabric in my stash (recognize it from my headboard?) and placed the foam and a sized piece of plywood on top. Then I used a staple gun to attach everything together.

Sorry, dolls, your mattress doesn't look very comfortable. 


For the comforter, I cut two pieces of fabric to form a reversible blanket. I pinned the fabric right sides together and stitched around the perimeter, leaving a hole large enough to insert batting. After turning it right side out, I placed the batting inside and stitched all around the edge to close up the seam and give the comforter a more finished look.

I also added buttons covered in the reverse fabric. 


With the leftover foam, I made a couple of pillows and pillow cases. They are very accurate...the pillows are as hard to get into the cases as in real life. Ugh.

I also made accent pillows with Delaina's initials. (I'm pretty sure they will get lost in about five minutes, but oh well).



I don't have any dolls, so you know I had to use a cat...

Bear wanted to be on it too, but I didn't want him to break it.

Merry Christmas, Delaina! I hope she isn't reading this.

Next up...appliqued onesies!

I stumbled upon a tutorial for appliqued onesies after my sister (the "hot mom") had her first baby, Benjamin (the "adorable, fashionable baby"), so I gave them a try. I thought they turned out cute, although not perfect.  And of course a new baby, Brayden, is on his way so I gave them another shot. 

The preparation is pretty easy, but the sewing is a little annoying. You can make your own template or print one from the internet. I made my own because I was too lazy to plug our printer into the laptop and mess with sizing. After I made my templates, I traced them onto the fabric, cut out the shapes, and placed them onto the onesies using a light fusible web. The fusible web is like a thin, sticky piece of paper that makes adhering the fabric piece to the onesie easier than pinning since you need a flat surface.

Then all you do is stitch the shape you chose onto the shirt! After I made my first batch for Benjamin, I thought the zig-zag stitching looked messy, but it turns out that the problem was just my sewing skills. For Brayden's first onesie, I tried a regular straight stitch, but I think the zig-zag is a lot cuter, even if my stitches zig and zag all over.

The most important thing to remember is to make sure you are not sewing the onesie front and back together. They are so small, so getting them bunched up and sewn together is really easy if you don't pay attention. If you're sewing along, feeling confident about your've just sewn it to itself.

I made three for the new baby in various sizes....

#1: A tie
Because he might have to go to a business meeting. 

#2: Baaaby Baaaluga

#3: An elephant...this one is my favorite!

"Hello. I'm a cute baby elephant."

Warning: These may turn your baby into a male model.   
Work it, Benjamin!

And lastly...owls! 

I have to admit I would have made these whether I knew any kids or not. I'd probably just set them around all over my apartment so I could look at them anytime I please. They are just so cute. They were my obsession before the scarfs, as you will see from all my pictures. I'm not going to explain how to make them because they are a very original idea from another blog and I am jealous that I did not think of it.

Check out New Green Mama's tutorial for instructions.

The owl is very easy to make, but it is also very time consuming. The legs are the worst part. I despise them. I can never seem to finish one without ten problems and legs being thrown across the room. That's probably due to my sewing skills again. The eyes also take a lot time because you have to hand stitch the three layers. One owl probably takes me at least three hours from start to finish. They're worth it though...just look at 'em!

I made this fella for my one year old nephew, Nathan. I heard he loved it so much he started ripping off its legs (that's okay...they only took me an hour each).

This owl blob is baby Brayden's. I figured he didn't need any wings or legs to put in his mouth.

Benjamin with his owl. Hoot!

Here is Delaina holding her owl. So sweet! (It matches her bed.)

Then I ran out of babies and started making them for adults....

This one is Aubrey's. She named him Olivander. He's British.

I made these lovebirds for my bosses' 50th wedding anniversary. I added Velcro to the underside of the wings so they could hold hands. I didn't want to deal with the legs, so I added sand to the bottom, allowing them to sit upright. I don't know what use they have for stuffed owls, but I made the them anyway... Must. Make. Owls.

These three ideas would be easy and affordable gifts for any babies or toddlers on your Christmas list.  I used fabric scraps for everything, so I only had to buy a couple items to complete the projects. If you decide to make any of these crafting endeavors, have fun!

Aubrey, you need to have a baby so I can make you baby gifts...


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Good Lighting: making anything look sweet

Here are some simple but effective tools to create a solid photo or video. Of course, natural lighting is always the way to go; however, not all of us have the gusto to get up at 5 a.m. for the perfect light. So here are a few options. 


Set up some decent lamps. I really love using a few natural light bulbs. I also have this great red and orange bulb that creates an intensely warm light. Explore your options. Whether you are taking family photos or pictures of your scarves for your adorable blog getting creative and setting a good mood ups the craftsmanship aspect of your images. It's good to have some general knowledge about studio lighting set up. For example a key light is your main light source, and a fill light softens the harsh shadows created by the key. If you don't have experience with studio lighting then finding a diagram of the set up is a good idea.

This is my fancy party bulb.


You can buy specialized silk screens to soften your light sources, but I found that my scarf collection works just as well. Plus I get to show off my scarves. I think your best bet is a beige or cream toned scarf like the one below.

You can get fancy to create a specific style or feel. That's where these babies come in!

Another simple and cheap option is to use a poster board. This a technique to soften shadows as well as bounce light back into the image. 

Ok so, this is an example of good lighting. The image is bright, but does not have any blown out highlights. The shadows are dark, but soft and unobtrusive to the image. This is your standard option.

Chiaroscuro like an SOB 

Decent Lighting

The great thing about art is once you know the rules you don't have to follow them at all. Some of my favorite photos are created with bad or odd lighting. The important thing is to know what to do when necessary. I like my makeshift studios because they are inexpensive and mobile. I don't mind if my stuff is broken, because it is easily replaceable. Also a word on flash. Don't be afraid. It's OK to use flash, just do it sparingly!

Used Flash! 

One final thing I've picked up along the way. Do your work before you get to Photoshop. It is an amazing tool, but think how much further your images can go when you have a solid foundation.

- Aubs

Thursday, December 1, 2011

To Infinity and Scarfond!

How many times have I heard someone say, "My neck is cold"? Never, but I don't care. If necks could talk they would say that they want to be warm and fashionable all day long. The answer to their prayers is the infinity scarf! They are my new obsession to wear and to make. I think I wanted to blog about them just so I could make more...

Step 1: Buy 1.75 yards of fabric. I have used all types of fabric. Just make sure what you choose will be comfortable around your neck and will lay correctly. You have to buy enough fabric to make two scarves because you need the length, but only half the width. Give the other one to a friend or use the extra fabric for another project. You could work with half the amount, but you'd just have to do a little more sewing. 

Step 2: Lay out the fabric and fold in half, right sides together. 


Step 3: Remove any attention seeking cats (He is so annoying during craft times! Crafts are not beds! He also likes to play with the scissors while I'm cutting...Ooo, shiny). Cut along the folded edge. Surprise! It's twins - awesome scarf twins! 

Step 4: Take one piece of fabric and fold it in half, right sides together. Then pin the two layers together at the edges. Almost time to sew! (If you are planning on making both scarves, doing a sort of assembly line seems to go faster instead of totally completing one and then starting the other).

Step 5: Starting 2 inches down, sew down the length of the fabric with a 1/2" seam allowance, stopping 2 inches from the bottom. The 2 inches don't have to be exact. You just need an opening wide enough to pull the scarf through later. 

Step 6: Sew a zig-zag stitch parallel to your regular stitch to prevent fraying. You can avoid this step if you own pinking shears. I, unfortunately, do not. I was going to buy some, but they were like $20! Why?? They would definitely save you a lot of time though.

 Now you'll have the same long piece, just sewn together to form a tube.

Step 7: This is where it gets confusing. Starting at the bottom, begin turning the fabric up inside the tube toward the top...kind of like you were going to turn it inside out, but...outside in? Keep doing this until the bottom raw edge reaches the top raw edge.

The bottom edge will look like this. It reminds me of those gel tubes they have near store checkout counters that jump out of your hand when you pick them up and then you have to run around the store looking stupid while they bounce away. "Maybe I can hold it this time...Nooope."

The other end will look like this with raw edges.

Step 8: Pin the two layers of the circle together.

Step 9: Sew completely around the circle with a regular stitch and then with the zig-zag stitch.

Step 10: Almost done! Now you have that 2 inch opening. Pull the scarf inside out through the hole and then admire your work before the last step!

Step 11: Fold the fabric in to line up with the rest of the scarf and pin it closed. Then stitch the opening closed. You can do a blind stitch if you don't want the seam to be visible, but I'm too lazy. If your thread is the same color as the fabric, it's hard to notice, especially when the scarf is bunched up. Now your scarf is finished! You will have one long...infinite piece of fabric. Double it up around your neck and see how cute you look!

Step 12: Look and feel better than everyone else in your amazing scarf! Is your outfit bland? Scarf = instant cool.

Do you need any Christmas or general gift ideas? INFINITY SCARVES! These scarves work for all types of people such as...

Bearded tuba players!

Cats named Bear!

Hot moms (with adorable, fashionable babies)!


Hockey players! (Go Sabres!)

Trendy teens!

...and cats named Scraggles!

See? You can please anyone on your list! But I forgot one person...

Aubrey, this one's for you! You weird dinosaur lover, you.