Thursday, November 27, 2014

Handmade Holiday Gift #5: Carved linoleum stamp gift tags

Posted by Kashmira

Almost 4 years ago I made a trip out to St. Louis from Bangalore to visit sis. This was not just any visit - we were meeting after a whole 5 years and remember, this was before either of the two squirmy tykes were born, so we had a bucket load of events and outings planned.

One among them was a free linoleum carving workshop conducted by Blick the art store. I was really looking forward to it because - for one thing, it had been an age since sis and I crafted together, plus this was something completely new to me. Why, I'd never even seen a lino sheet before! 

So in short the workshop consisted of cutting a piece out a lino sheet on which to carve the stamp, drawing a picture of the stamp, marking the areas to be carved, using a lino cutter tool set to gouge out marked areas and finally using paint to impress the carved shape onto paper. We really enjoyed the process and thought it was a neat way to make long-lasting stamps. (I've carved potato stamps before and since they're perishable felt quite sad while cutting them up for fries - kidding!). So sis ended up buying and gifting me a lino sheet and my very own lino cutter set. 

And now that the season of gifts is here, I thought of writing up a post on carving a stamp that can be used for making gift tags for any present, throughout the year.

I started with my linoleum sheet and lino cutter set that comes with interchangeable blades in different sizes that can be stowed away inside the hollow cavity of the tool that unscrews at the bottom.

Then using regular scissors I cut a piece of lino about 3" * 2". The lino is pretty soft to cut into. I drew the picture of a present with a ball point pen. 

Using an appropriately sized blade, I gouged out parts that I did not want impressed. I had to change to smaller sized blades the closer I went to the markings.

Similarly I made a couple of more stamps.

Then painted the stamp with watercolor and pressed it onto a paper cut to gift tag size.

Here's my collection of colorful little gift tags.

I punched a hole at the top of one and threaded a ribbon through it. Gift tag all set to go atop a present!

A couple of years ago I had a party favor order for which I sewed little purses with printed fabric on one side and plain off-white fabric on the other. I carved a few stamps and applied fabric paint on them to stamp on the plain side.

I'd also carved a quaint rotary dial telephone to make these contemporary mobile phone cozies.

Well, that's it for today then. I have travel plans coming up next month, so we will be on a little hiatus. But we will be back in January with lots of craft and sewing. Until then, here's wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving and happy holidays!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Handmade Holiday Gift #4: Butterfly Hair Accessory

Posted by Kashmira

Here is a cute little idea to make for cute little girls as stocking stuffers - the delightful fabric butterflies. This project, much like the gifts in our previous posts of the series, requires small bits of fabric which you can easily find in your stash. Plus it is a great way to make a variety of color combinations.

Here's what you'll need:
1) Two pieces of fabric 4" * 3"
2) Two pieces of fabric 3.5" * 2.5"
3) One piece of batting 4" * 3"
4) One piece of batting 3.5" * 2.5"
5) One tiny bit of felt 2" * 1"
6) One small button

Step 1) Place the larger piece of batting on work surface. Put the larger pieces of fabric right sides together on top of batting. Draw the outline of a butterfly shape within the rectangle while leaving out the border for a 1/4" seam allowance. Mark two points on the outline to leave a gap open while sewing.

Step 2) Similarly stack up the smaller piece of batting and fabric and mark an outline of a butterfly on it.

Step 3) Sew along the outline while leaving an opening open for turning. Leave a gap of 1/4" and cut all around the shape, Clip corners and cut notches along curves. Do this for both butterfly shapes.

Step 4) Turn both butterfly shapes inside out and top stitch, while taking care to close off the opening.

Step 5) Cut 2 little antennae from the felt piece and sew them to the top center of the larger butterfly shape like so.

Step 6) Place the smaller butterfly piece on the larger one and attach the two by stitching a straight line in the center.

Step 7) Finally, sew the button on top of the smaller butterfly shape and voila! The adorable butterfly is done!

This can now be either glue gunned on to a hairband or stitched to an elastic hair tie. It can even be used as embellishment for T-shirts/ skirts etc. These accessories are pretty quick to whip up and soon I had a swarm of butterflies ready!

So go ahead and sew these for a little girl and make her heart go all a-flutter!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Handmade Holiday Gift #3: Scrapbuster Fabric Mod Podge Earrings

Posted by Kashmira

Are you one of those people like me who save up even the littlest of fabric bits in the firm hope that they surely will come to some use some day? If you are or if you aren't, I'm certain you'll find this fabric and Mod Podge craft is easy, efficient and makes a great holiday gift!

This is the list of supplies:
1) Mod Podge
2) Scraps of fabric (Note: Avoid using light colored fabric because the printed side of cereal box shows through after Mod Podge application. The other option is to use medium-heavy card-stock that is plain on both sides.)
3) Used cereal box
4) Paintbrush for applying Mod Podge
5) Earring fish hooks and jump rings (not pictured)
6) Glue gun (optional, for adding embellishment, if required.)

Start by cutting up the cereal box in little squares/ rectangles roughly 3" * 3"

Cut bits of fabric to fit within the cereal box piece. You will need 2 pieces of fabric each for making a pair of earrings. Start by applying some Mod Podge to the cereal box surface on one side. Place the fabric piece over it and apply Mod Podge liberally over it. Create brush strokes from the center going outward to prevent wrinkling.

Take the other piece of fabric, flip the cereal box square over and proceed to apply Mod Podge in the same way. Make sure that the fabric is aligned on both sides of the cereal box so that the earrings can be cut within that space. It helps to hold the card between your fingers and thumb to avoid contact with Mod Podge area on either side.

Then prop the card up against a wall so that both sides can dry.

Here I've gone ahead and similarly Mod Podged a variety of fabric pieces.

Once the Mod Podge is completely dry (5 to 6 hours/ overnight), the fabric adheres nicely to the card and is quite stiff. Next simply cut the card into desired shapes - and there! You have your earring base. Flip over both shapes to check that the fabric covers it well. Here I've cut 2 identical rectangles. 

Next, take a largish hand sewing needle and make a hole top center for the jump ring to go through and attach the fish hooks. Ta-da! Easy breezy (coz they're really lightweight!) earrings ready to adorn!

You can jazz them up a bit (or a lot) simply by adding on more Mod Podged fabric highlights or other embellishments using a glue gun like so. The possibilities really are limitless!

But if you choose fabric with interesting prints, the earrings look unique and eye-catching without any add-ons at all. 

Another way to change it up a bit might be to cut slightly off-beat shapes.

So this was our Mod Podge fabric earrings edition. Stay tuned for more holiday gifts!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Handmade Holiday Gift #2: Scrap Buster Key Ring Purse

Posted by Kashmira

Welcome to our second post in the holiday gift idea series. I've been meaning to make a little coin purse that also doubles up as a key ring so that it can hold maybe my driver's license and a bit of money for when I'm just running an errand and the wallet feels too heavy. (Unlikely scenario, since I never seem to have anything in my wallet anyway to make it heavy. But hey, we can all hope!)

Here's what I started with:
1) Few strips of fabrics 5" * 1.5"
2) One fabric scrap 3" * 2" (for loop)
3) One 6" all-purpose zipper
4) Two fabric scraps 4.5" * 4" (for lining)

I started by sewing the fabric strips together to create the outer panels of the purse. Then I pressed the seams open.

Next I folded the loop fabric scrap in half lengthwise and pressed the crease. After opening it up, I folded the two long edges towards the crease and folded in half once more and sewed the edges to create the loop.

Then I trimmed the outer panels to 4.5" * 4" and cut 2 lining pieces the same size.

Next I made a sandwich by placing zipper and one outer panel rights sides together, then placing on lining on the zipper wrong side up and sewing across it.

 Then I opened it up and top stitched together.

I then placed the other outer panel ride side, place the zipper on it wrong side up and then the other lining panel wrong side up and pinned together.

After sewing across the top, opening up and top-stitching over the zipper, here's what I had.

Next I made sure the zipper was half-way open and pulled the lining panel to one side and outer panels to the other side, right sides together. I placed the loop between the outer panels and pinned all around and marked a gap about 2.5" on lining edge.

Then I sewed all around with 1/4" seam allowance, while leaving the top gap open for turning the purse inside out. Also I cut the corners out to reduce bulk after turning.

After turning it inside out I sewed the opening in the lining closed.

 And here's the little purse ready to get attached to my key ring!

This is a great stocking-stuffer idea and a good way to use up some fabric scraps. See you next time with another great holiday gift idea!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Handmade Holiday Gift #1: Fabric Bookmark!

Posted by Kashmira

'Tis the holiday season and I'm sure a lot of us have 'gifts' on our minds! So we thought, what better ideas to blog about than a set of nifty, relatively easy and quick handmade gifts/ crafts that will surely dazzle and impress the recipient! 

Welcome to our first in the series: this one is for all the bookworms out there and I know there are plenty. My toddler son too loves books and has been devouring them ever since he was just a few months old.. that is, until I informed him books are not food and therefore should not be eaten.

So anyway, today I want to show you how I made this delightful two-sided fabric bookmark - finished size 7.5" * 2.5".

First I gathered the following supplies:
1) One piece of printed cotton fabric 8" * 3"
2) One piece of solid cotton fabric 8" * 3"
3) One piece of printed cotton fabric 3" * 2"
4) One piece of cereal box card 7.5" * 2.5"
5) One piece of coordinating ribbon 7" long
5) Thread that contrasts with solid fabric (for free-hand machine embroidery)

I started off by drawing a vase shape on the back of the little printed fabric piece and cutting the shape out.

Next I appliqued the vase at the bottom of the solid fabric piece, after positioning it such that there is a gap on all sides for seam allowance. Then with fabric marker I drew a floral design and proceeded to 'embroider' it using a dark colored thread (in this case, chocolate brown). I did this by using a simple straight stitch and just going over the drawing I made.

Time to assemble the bookmark! 

1) I placed the appliqued piece on work surface with right side up and positioned the ribbon top center with a little bit jutting out at the top so that it gets caught in the seam.

2) Then I placed the printed piece over it and pinned all around.

3) Next I sewed all around 3 sides with a precise 1/4" allowance, left the bottom edge open and clipped corner.

4) Finally I turned it inside out and gave it a good press.

Then I slipped in the cereal box strip to stiffen the bookmark and pressed the bottom edges in 1/4". Tip: Trim the cereal box strip if required. Also, if this feels cumbersome, try folding the edges in first and then slipping the cereal box strip inside.

Finally I went back to the machine for a last top-stitch all around. My delightful little reversible bookmark is done!

So I hope you enjoyed our novel bookmark idea and if you did, you might want to - ahem - bookmark this page and come back again to give it a try! Stay tuned for more handmade gift ideas.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Quilt Tops for Community Service

Posted by Nupur

I volunteer with a group of quilters who do community service. They take donated fabrics and add plenty of time, talent and love to make quilts to donate to local hospitals, domestic violence shelters, nursing homes and foster homes. The handmade quilts are a gesture of warmth and support to people who are going through a difficult time in their lives.

Apart from the recipients, who benefits from this community service? The quilters themselves, of course. They spend time together, develop friendships from volunteering together and hone their quilting skills. In this group, many hands can be involved in working on a single quilt. Someone may use a pattern and cut up donated fabric to make kits for quilt tops. Then someone pieces the top together. We have 2 or 3 long arm quilters who do the quilting. Then a fourth person may put the binding on the quilt.

Every time I made a quilt top for this group, or bind a quilt, I learn something new and get a little bit better at this craft.

At one such meeting, a quilter pulled out a single block that she had made in a quilting workshop- it was a beautiful embroidered dragonfly on batik fabric. She did not have a use for the block- could we use it in a quilt for donation? I volunteered to take the block, plus an assortment of batik fabric- some strips and some larger pieces- and see what I could put together.

The center block that I started out with. This was a sampler made by
another quilter.
Most of the batik I was given was pale colors. I started sewing strips around the center block, just adding them on more or less randomly to get the top bigger. 

This quilt top was looking boring. It needed a pop of color so I brought in the only vibrant batik I had on hand- a green/teal one. I decided to make six large (12 inch) blocks to add length to the quilt top and this rail fence tutorial was just the thing. 

I ended with a bright border all around. The quilt top is ready. I enjoyed this modest challenge of building the whole quilt top starting with the center block.

On another occasion, I picked up a kit from the community service team. It was for a lap-sized quilt of Mary Englebreit fabrics, in a crazy nine patch design. Part of the magic of quilting is how clever the methods are- a few simple steps yield a complicated looking result. 

This kit contained 9 big squares and each was a different fabric. The instructions were to stack them up, make one cut, change the order of the pieces, seam together and repeat the steps 4 times, and magically, you get 9 blocks, each containing bits of all 9 fabrics. 

This was so easy and so very cool! I put black sashing between the blocks, sewed in the borders and seriously, this was one easy quilt top ready to be handed back for quilting and donation.