Monday, January 25, 2010

Xmas Gifts 6: Bean Bag Cubes

My husband enjoys laying on our family room floor. From there he reads, uses his laptop, and watches TV. He's always grabbing for something to prop up his head. But he doesn't use soft objects like a normal person would (no offense, Amore). I've seen him use books, VHS tapes, and remote controls (all standing on their ends) as pillow substitutes. I don't know, maybe it's a macho thing that he can't use anything fluffy? So for Christmas I made him some bean bag pillows to do the trick. The beans make them sturdy yet pliable, so he can shape them the way he wants. I made them in different sizes as well.

Actually, I didn't mean for them to turn out so big. I used up most of a 5-gallon bucket of pinto beans from our food storage, and still didn't have quite enough! I'm considering picking the bean bags apart to make them smaller because they are also quite heavy.

I made each bean bag out of fabric I already had on hand, fabric that I like, so that I wouldn't mind seeing them strewn all over the family room floor. I also put some appliquéd messages on them, though I suppose that's not very manly. The appliqués are already coming apart, so I obviously need more practice in that department.

The inspiration for these came from Paper and String's fun doorstops. And, although I only saw these after I had finished the bean bags, they also remind me of Dana's giant Rollie Pollie pillow, but only because (1) we both made some sort of pillows, (2) IKEA fabric was involved, and, (3) let's face it, I just adore her and want to be as cool as she is.

I still have one more Christmas gift to post, then on to some more fun (and more current) stuff.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Family Mailbox

When I was little my mom made us an indoor family mailbox. It looked like a little cottage home with slots on the back for each family member. We sent each other notes and items we had ordered from each other's mail order catalogs throughout the year, but the busiest time for our family mailbox was Valentines Day. A few years ago I bought a paper mache house to make my own family mailbox. Since Valentines Day is right around the corner I thought now would be the perfect time to paint it.

I tried to make the coloring and style look a little like our own house. Wouldn't it also make a fun toy house to play with a little wooden peg family?

What's inside? Two Valentine cards!

I thought the house would be so cute photographed on our front lawn. Then I remembered that it's January and all we have is footprint-covered snow. I tried it on the snow, but the white washed all the color out of the pictures, and my little monkey wouldn't stop throwing snowballs at it. So the Christmas tree skirt and my front porch steps will have to suffice.

I was having a lot of fun painting the jasmine plant climbing up the side of the house. Then it suddenly reminded me of a Thomas Kinkade painting so I immediately had to stop. The other side has a birdhouse and agapanthus plants. Hmmmm... I wonder if it would work to paint flowers on the side of my real house to make it look like I have a garden. Do you think my neighbors would notice?

Here's the before picture. House purchased from Hobby Lobby.

My oldest little monkey and I have already exchanged several letters with each other using our new mailbox. A new (old) family tradition!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Xmas Gifts 5: Ashley Purse

My second vinyl purse attempt. This one is a little bigger. It's more like a slim diaper bag. In fact, I tried to make it the same dimensions as my Similac diaper bag from the hospital. I'm embarrassed to admit that. You know the one I'm talking about. It's really the perfect size bag. Ashley's bag is much cuter, though. I love the little bird on it.

I stitched along all the seams to help the purse keep its shape. I was a little disappointed at first because right up until the very last step it looked more like a messenger bag with its flap missing. Then I stitched those final outer seams along the top section and--voila!--the whole thing came together. I was pleased.

Isn't this the cutest little guy? I just want to toss him some bread crumbs.

Here's the lining. Recognize it? It's from IKEA. The little bird on the front of the purse is from this fabric. I love the little inner side pockets. They are perfect for keeping keys and chapstick handy.

Just as I was about to send this home with my brother to give to Ashley in California I realized I didn't have any pictures of the purse on a human. So here I am, modelling the purse at 11 o'clock at night while my brother snapped the picture for me. He actually paid me a huge complement: When he saw the purse he looked a little surprised, maybe even dumbfounded, and told me it looked like the kind of bag his friends would buy from some hip store. He's in with the cool, film student, artsy crowd, and I know nothing about cool, so I was very pleased to get the complement.
(In case you were wondering: The bracelet I'm wearing is one of the gifts my sister Ashley gave me for Christmas. My sister Bridey made me the knit hat for Christmas last year).

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Felt Snowflakes

My sister Ashley made these beautiful felt snowflakes for me for Christmas. The tutorial came from The Purl Bee. Aren't they exquisite? Ashley did a great job. I love them!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Xmas Gifts 4: Horse of a Different Color

Do you remember Rainbow Brite and her horse Starlite back from the '80s? I had both toys as a kid. Several years ago I got rid of the horse by giving it to one of my nieces. It recently turned up when my mom moved. Mom showed up on my doorstep all pleased that she had found it for me.

It was dirty.

And it had rainbow colored hair.

My youngest little monkey took to it immediately, tucking it under his arm and blowing raspberries (that's his horse impersonation). But as much as I love looking at rainbows in the sky, seeing one on a toy horse's mane in my son's arm was a little disturbing. I hated to throw it away and waste it, especially since the kid liked it so much. So a master plan began unfolding in my mind: I'd give the horse a makeover. I wouldn't be wasteful, it would be a fun challenge, my son would have a "new" toy horse for Christmas, and it would be cool to think that it was the toy that I once played with.

I covered the hoofs by sewing little caps of black stretch velvet and stretching them over the glue-covered old hoofs (FYI I used flexible fabric flue). Later, close to the end of the project, I hand-sewed the hoofs in place to the bottom of the newly covered legs.

I made small triangles for the ears, then hand stitched them in place around the base. The next step was the to cut out the body pieces of the gray velvety fabric to fit onto the horse. I used the seam lines from the original horse as a guide. I machine stitched the fabric for the horse's back from behind the ears to the tail, then pinned it in place. All the other pieces were first pinned (or rather stabbed) in place then hand stitched.

These pictures were taken at various wee and not-so-wee hours of the morning on Christmas Day while everyone was asleep. Jane Austen on the DVD player kept me company. It was almost dawn when I went to bed. The horse was still hairless and had pins sticking out in a few places, but I wrapped it and put it under the tree anyway, then finished it up later after it was unwrapped. A 19-month-old child doesn't know the difference, right? Just as long as he can open a present on Christmas morning?

I really would have like the horse to be brown, but I couldn't find the right fabric in the little time I had to look (It was a busy season). So the color gray had to do. The fabric is so soft. It's some sort of velvet, though I don't remember exactly what. The black hoofs are stretch velvet, and the mane and tail are simply yarn. I'm happy to say that my little monkey loves the horse. And now I do, too.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Xmas Gifts 3: Melanie Purse

Inspired by the shape of a favorite purse I own, this purse was my first "big" project in vinyl (and by big I mean in size of the individual item, not in scope of the entire project). I found the vinyl difficult to work with because I couldn't get my machine into the little nooks and crannies at the bottom of the purse very well. Also, the thread was a mess. I adjusted the tension quite a bit, but in the end it seemed to be more luck than science. Other than those hiccups, I'm pleased with how cute the purse turned out. I think the flower/bow (inspired by the flower on my favorite flats) makes the purse, but I also love the green vinyl (from Design Company Fabrics) and the fun black and white Alexander Henry fabric (from JoAnn). This purse was for my sister-in-law, Melanie.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Xmas Gifts 2: Football Fan Blankets

My brother-in-law is a huge BYU football fan. So for Christmas I went in search of his team's fleece to make him and his 18-month-old son matching blankets. While I didn't find the right team fleece I did find this fabulous minky football fabric that is even better. I lined the back side with fleece for thickness and made my own logo on the front out of the same.

This blanket was for my nephew. It's about four feet, square.

Here's the blanket for my brother-in-law. It's about 6 feet long, maybe longer.

I only had to cut the "Y" out once. I used the reverse for the baby's blanket.

He looks pretty happy about the gift, don't you think?
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