Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cross-stitch fever.

I said that in my head to the tune of Cat-scratch Fever (fever!) - my dad's music tastes really had a much deeper effect in my childhood that is really becoming apparent now.

Anyway. I've been behind on my crafty and the projects I want to get into, and I blame my sister. We made a run to JoAnn's last week in the midst of some errands, and she spots something. The damage was done as soon as she opened her mouth to say, 'If I were a baby, I'd really want this.'

This was my project:

And here's where I'm at now:

So I'm playing catch-up, and hoping Stephie was right as I curse her under my breath (kidding!) when I stab myself with the sharp needle (why did this kit come with a sharp needle?!), before I'm letting myself really dive into anything new. I've already got a half-way taken apart bench that I want to reupholster and the start to another beaded bracelet lying around my room.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Best Friend Bracelets.

A crafty afternoon-turned-evening was in order for two of my dearest and longest friends. And thanks to Pinterest and these Chan Luu bracelets, we had our project: beaded wrap bracelets.

And, of course, the carnage of our nearly 7 hours of beading. Well, beading, eating, trying out the 3-D TV, running for supplies, and whatnot:

And here's a tutorial with the modifications and tips we used - 


-Leather cording. I bought a 3-yd pack from JoAnn's.
-Tape measure.
-Binder clip.
-Magazine or something firm (cardboard works.
-Fastener of some sort (ie bead, clasp, button).
-Bead Fix (optional.

1. Measure your wrist and decide on the length of your bracelet. For my 6-inch wrist, I wanted a bracelet to wrap around three times, and used roughly 47 inches of cording. For a single wrap bracelet, I used 18 inches. The logic follows that the cording length should be three times that of your wrist for a single wrap, and seven times for a triple wrap. For my triple wrap, I added a few inches to my wrist so that it would be loose. And it's always better to have more cording to cut off than to be short.

2. Measure out your thread. I used 4 feet of thread for my single wrap, but for my triple wrap, I started with 12 feet and needed more. Thread the needle, fold the length of thread in half, and tie a regular knot.

3. Fold your cording in half. As I was using a bar-and-circle closure (for lack of better term), I threaded on the bar end at the top of my fold. Hold the end of the thread next to the cording fold, and tie a knot. This secures the bar, and the thread and cording are then tied together.

4. Clip your bracelet to a magazine or something sturdy.

5. Do some figure-8's with the thread around the cording. I do 8 for peace of mind. To start, lead the thread over the right, then under the right, then over the left, and under the left, for one figure-8. Push the string up to the top and keep it tight. Here's a picture of it loosely that may explain it better:

 This is what it should look like when the figure-8's are next to each other and tight:

6. Start threading your beads in the middle of your figure-8's. When you are bringing the thread from under the left (and heading to go over the right), string a bead. Wrap the thread over and under the right, then pass the needle and thread back through the bead before going over the left for the next sequence.
Keep stringing your beads this way, all the way down.

7. When you're done (and I know I'm done by periodically wrapping the bracelet and making a judgment call), do another 8 figure-8's. I then threaded on my circle piece, and tied a knot with the cording and thread.

8. Measure once more on your wrist, just to be sure, then cut the excess.

And you're done! I added some Bead Fix in the knots, just to be sure the thread and cording would stay together and tight. Be careful with that stuff - it's strong! 

As for the running-out-of-thread bit on the triple wraps, we tied the end of the thread to the cording, and started a new length of thread by tying it to the cording as well. We tried tying more thread to the end of the thread, but the knot didn't fit back through our beads (and maybe it would with bigger beads). We dabbed the knots with Bead Fix, and tried to make the transition as neat as possible. You can't tell on any of ours, but it was a frustrating trial-and-error session, made more frustrating by having 12 cumbersome feet of thread tangling and then dying out. The single wrap bracelet was definitely easier for this reason.

But it was all worth it. Now we all have chic friendships bracelets priced at $20, rather than the $250 retail. LOVE. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dress Rebirth.

I think white dresses were a trend a year ago. I say I think because I'm usually a tidge bit behind, and I have been known to make things like this up.

Sidenote: it must be a gene from my mother. In the car today, she said, 'I heard no one wants Pryor because he's untrainable.' To which I said, 'Where did you hear that?' Mum: 'Oh, I didn't.' Me: 'What? Did you just make that up?' Mum: 'Well, yes, but it could be true.' Me: 'Yes, it could be true, but it could also be just as true that he is quite trainable.' Oy.

So anyway. I might be totally imagining the white dress trend. It may have just been a trend in my closet.

But this summer, I've been paying more attention to what I'm wearing. I'm sure there is a good amount in my closet that never gets to see the light of day because they're not in the rotation. I'm fixing this with a tip from a friend - I set up my hangers to all face the same direction, and when I wear something, wash it, and hang it back up, then I face the hanger in the opposite direction. I'm forced to think about what I'm wearing and to mix it up. It's horrible. I like my comfortable usual things. But I'm finding things, like I have four white dresses. Living in DC, I try to wear dresses as often as possible between April and October. It's a little extra breathing room in this killer humidity. But four white dresses was a little limiting in the wearable months. I don't follow the no-white-after-whenever, but the surprise rain storms in the spring/summer do keep me from the white, so the more months I could get out of a dress, the better.

And, how cute is this look:

Someone buy me mustard tights!

So, here's my dress before:

It has pockets! And, most importantly, it fits nicely. And, even better, it was $15 at JCPenney.

And here's the after:
 It's navy, though I couldn't get a picture that was fully convincing.

Here's the up-close on the detail. Isn't it weird that the thread turned out like that?

I had tailored the straps on this with a zig-zag stitch, but it wasn't a super quality job because the dress was white and the thread was white. But in this weird thread-dye color, the shotty job was much more obvious. Mum helped me out with a hidden stitch. You can't even see it in this picture!

The process was super easy. I bought two bottles of RIT liquid dye in navy blue, because navy is a dark color and I wanted the dress to be navy, not the faded version of navy. I followed the instructions on the bottles, from the super hot water, to the cup of salt. I soaked the dress in hot water before putting it in the dye/water/salt mix, and stirred for fifteen minutes. I then held the dress under the dye by sticking random bottles in the mix to hold the dress down. I would remove the bottles and stir every 15 minutes. I left the dress in the dye for an hour total. Then I rinsed it out, threw it in the washer for some more rinsing, and let it dry in the sun.

And now, I can't wait for fall!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Winnie the Pooh and his endless wisdom.

Here's my bathroom:

I'm going for the yellow and grey, but am held back by the apartment's no paint rule. The flower picture was always a placeholder in my mind. I got caught in the let's-make-every-picture-a-canvas frenzy after I loved my first canvas so much. Here's my first picture-printed-on-a-canvas: 

It's my grandpa's pond in Michigan, and the photo was taken by my sister. I absolutely adore it. 

So anyway, after that, I was on a canvas kick. And then I got a deal on livingsocial. Well, I couldn't think of anything to print, and the coupon was about to expire, so I got the flower, as my bathroom needed something. I didn't want that size of picture, I didn't want it to be on a 1-inch frame and mirror wrapped, but that's how it was offered, and this was a serious canvas addiction. I think it just needed to say 'canvas' and I would've bought anything at the time.

Well now, it really just wasn't working for me.

So I fixed it:
And I should have closed the toilet seat. Sorry!

I made myself a canvas! I didn't paint over the old one, but made a JoAnn's project out of it. And I'm much happier.

I'm not 100percent on the writing and paint thickness of the letters and whatnot. Some of the letters need to be traced again to be a bit brighter. Opinions?

And do you get the title now? No? That's a Winnie the Pooh quote that I painted. That tubby little cubby is a genius.

And this project was super easy. And a little therapeutic. I've trace the letters a few times, and it's a wonderful night time activity.

I got a blank canvas from JoAnn's (it's 12 inches wide, and I'm not positive how tall). I painted the canvas with a few coats of FolkArt acrylic paint in Metallic Gunmetal Grey. I would let the canvas sit for a day before I went with a few more coats, to accurately judge it in different lights. And then I measured out how I wanted my wording, used a fold of the newspaper as my straight edge, and painted the words with the stencil, with the stamps, or with my own freehand. The yellow paint is JoAnn Craft Essentials in Bright Yellow. It needs a few coats/tracings on top of the grey, but the fade it sort of gives on the edges is growing on me.

I based my layout on this quote I pinned on pinterest

And the glass bottles?!
A total steal from the West Elm sales rack this weekend - $6/each! I was so excited. Except that I stopped in West Elm first and then had to lug heavy glass all over the mall. But I didn't trust they'd be there (there's a lot of glass fiends in the mall on Sundays - that was my thought). Ha.

And even better? My sister loves the flower canvas. Housewarming present! So - cheap bathroom upgrade and housewarming present, for the win. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Jersey Bracelet Tutorial

I made some of these bracelets a while ago, but I thought I'd give my version of the tutorial because I didn't follow the one I tried anyway.

You start with a 60-inch long piece of jersey, about 1-inch wide.

Start with the material wrapping behind your ring finger with about three-inches of slack falling toward your thumb and the rest falling in front of your pinkie and to the left.

Next, wrap the slack on the left around your pinkie and around your ring finger, leaving the slack to fall to the left again.

Then, wrap the piece around your pinkie and ring finger, with the slack falling to the left behind the pinkie again. I grabbed the 3-inch piece in my thumb in this picture, but nothing is happening with that

This is the trickiest step to show in a picture. You want the bottom individual loops at the base of the fingers to be brought over the top loop over both of the fingers. Be careful not to lose the top loop (that is across both fingers). This picture is mid-step. The individual loop over the pinkie has been stretched over the wider loop, but the one one my ring finger has not.
After pulling the individual loops over the wider loop, you'll have two individual loops again. Then wrap the slack from your pinkie to your ring finger with the slack falling to the left and repeat the process of pulling the individual loops over the wider loop.
 A braid will start to form between and behind your fingers.
 When you're at the end of the material, the last little bit of a tail will be threaded through the loops still on your fingers. I do pull tight between the loops, but I didn't realize I was turning my finger purple!
 This is another view of the tail about to be threaded through the loops.
 And I'm still threading.
Finally, tie the two ends together, pulling tight. Trim the extra slack.
And there you have it! The blue and yellow were made from jersey material bought from JoAnn's, and the green was made from a cut-up old shirt. The perfect three-dimensional braid bracelet for summer. 

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