This year's holiday craft

Every year I like to make a little something around this holidays. This year I was inspired by these lovely little bird ornaments, so I gave a shot at making something similar with my illustrations.

First, I printed out some images on to iron-on sheets, then ironed them on to a large piece of linen:

Next, I cut them out, and matched each with a piece of bright, patterned fabric for the back:

Then, I added a small piece of ribbon (at last something to do with my re-used ribbon collection!), sewed, and stuffed them. My assistant inspected each very carefully.

Once they were approved, we hung them on the tree or gave them away. Perhaps next year they will find their way to my Etsy Shop.

Made by hand: produce bags

Longtime readers of this blog will remember that each holiday season I like to do a little craft, and send it out to those I've worked with that year. Since this year marked the release of What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?, I thought it fitting to make something environmentally friendly.

So this year's project was to make reusable canvas produce bags, to replace the plastic ones we all use at the supermarket. Just think of all the plastic produce bags you might use in a year! I got the idea from browsing, where I've purchased many non-leaching water bottles and travel mugs. Here are the bags they sell.

I decided to make some roughly at those sizes, but with more interesting fabric, which I found plenty of at Ikea. Below are instructions should you like to make your own. I just made this pattern up so feel free to improvise- and I'd love to hear how you change things up!

First, lay out your fabric. If there is a cat sitting on top, remove him.

Next, cut out a rectangle shape with the fabric doubled up (I cut at the folded edge of the fabric, so that the bottom edge of the bag did not need to be stitched). I made bags either 8 x 10" or 13 x 17" roughly, but you could do any size.

Sew a zig-zag stitch along the top two edges of your bag individually, to prevent fraying. Then, on one side of the bag, sew a seam about half an inch in from the edge. Go over those edges with a zig-zag stitch as well.

On the opposite side of the bag, cut into the fabric about half an inch, and three inches down from the top. Fold over the edges in this little section and stitch them down. Then sew along the rest of the side edge, about a half inch in, and straight down from the folded over section. Go over the edges with a zig-zag stitch as you did on the other side.

Fold over the top edge of the bag roughly an inch and a three quarters, and stitch it down.

Turn your bag right side out.

Get some rope or string (I used simple cotton cord from the hardware store).

Once again, remove cat (sheesh):

Cut a length of cord and knot one end. There are a couple ways to thread the cord through the top of the bag- you can run the end with the knot through, nudging it along with your fingers on the outside of the bag, or just attach a safety pin to one end and nudge it through that way. I think the pin is easier. When its all the way through, knot the other end of the cord.

Here is what a finished bag looks like, filled with apples.

I packaged them up by first printing out a simple label...

then tying it around the bag with some twine.

Voila! Finito!

Snowflakes on parade

Lately I've felt the need to tackle the little things that always fall to the end of my to-do list. Maybe its because the year is drawing to a close or maybe its post-deadline mania, but I've been taking great pleasure organizing, mending, and rearranging our apartment... hemming pants that have been sitting in the corner of the bedroom for months, cleaning out the flat files, and purging everything I can stand to part with. It feels soooo goooood.

For the longest time I've been meaning to frame my Robert's Snowflakes properly. I was lucky enough to win hand painted snowflakes by Alissa Imre Geis and Giselle Potter a few years back, two of my most prized possessions. Since then I am embarrassed to say they have been sitting in sloppy frames that didn't fit. No more!

I found these two little 3D frames at Ikea and got out my snowflakes...

and of course my trusty YES Glue, that stuff glues everything.

Then I cut some little rectangles out of foam core, two for each snowflake.

And glued them down, one on top of another, to some archival acid-free mat board.

Then I very carefully put a little dab of glue on the stack of foam core and placed a snowflake on top. I was weary at first of putting glue anywhere near these little paintings, but in the end I think they will be better preserved this way (and there was not much on the back of them, unlike some snowflakes).

Once they were dry I put the mat board in the back of the frames and voila- floating snowflakes!

Now on to going through my fabric stores and organizing my paper drawer. I just looove an organized paper drawer.

Made by hand: buttons

Since I posted about the buttons I'm making for Abigail Spells below, I thought I'd add another installment in the Made by Hand series, in case you are dying to know more about the crafts we undertook for our wedding :)

We made little bunny buttons for our guests, similar to the ones I'll be making for Abigail... they aren't exactly made by hand, but they were designed by me and a lot of fun to put together. First I sketched these bunnies:

Next I scanned them into Photoshop and filled them in with color:

I sent the file off to Pure Buttons and a week or so later had these in my hands:

We set them out on the gift table with the napkins, expecting folks to take them.

What we didn't realize is that our guests would all put them on and wear them throughout the wedding! In retrospect I guess that was kind of obvious. But still, it was a nice surprise to come out and see a crowd of people all bunny-clad...

Photos © Kelly Lorenz

Made by hand: paper bag flowers

Early on in our wedding planning, fellow planner-in-crime Alison discovered this ingenious craft by Martha Stewart. I love how simple the project and sweet the result. After months of contemplating a million options for how to decorate the room where we held dancing after our wedding, we decided these paper flowers were a quick, easy, and charming way to go.

Here is how to make them...

You'll need about 9-12 bags depending on the size of the flower and how big you want the petals to look (the more bags the smaller the petals). I bought yellow, green, and white bags from Michaels in a few different sizes.

The first thing you do is cut off the bottom of the bags.

Next cut a petal shape by trimming the top edges of the bags.

Using a hole punch, punch a hole in the center of each bag, along the bottom edge.

Attach the bags to each other by placing a small (2-3 inches in this case) piece of double stick tape to the bottom side edges of each bag, then place another bag on top of it. Don't adhere the whole edge, just the bottom bit, or the flower won't open.

Once all the bags are taped to one another, string ribbon, yarn, or thread of some kind through the holes and tie a knot. This part is a little tricky because if you make the loop too small the flower won't open, and if you make it too big it will be too loose. So you might have to experiment a little.

When you're ready to hang the flower, tie a long piece of ribbon or yarn or thread to the loop. Then put some double stick tape on the top paper bag, and pull the bag on the bottom around to meet it. Make sure the long piece you've attached hangs down the center of the top flower petal (between taped edges). You will use this to hang the flower with.

Made by hand: organza roses

Early on in wedding planning I posted about making organza roses, but didn't include much of a "how to" or include the end result, so I thought I'd do that here.

I got the idea from browsing on Etsy, looking at the lovely fabric flowers made by Viemoderne and Tijusai:

So I searched around on the internet for instructions so I could make my own. Turns out its really pretty simple.

First you get your hands on some synthetic organza fabric and cut out circles of varying sizes:

Next, you run the edges of the circles over a flame for just a second (too long and the fabric will discolor). I used tweezers to hold the thin, slippery fabric.

Heating the edge of the fabric will melt and curl the edges slightly. I wanted relatively flat petals, so I gave the fabric less time over the flame. For a more curled petal, leave it a touch longer.

Layer the petals on top of one another. I alternated a matte organza with a shiny one to mirror the matte/shiny stripes in my dress.

Hold them together by sewing through the center, anchoring the stitch on the top of the flower with a bead of some kind. I picked a tiny glass bead because I wanted a pared down look, but you can use any combination of colorful beads in varying sizes.

Before the wedding I pinned a few to my waistband.

I also sewed a few to bobby pins for my hair.

Made by hand: paper cranes

More wedding craft talk! I am almost through our craft-y wedding details, I hope you won't mind me indulging me a few more posts... if you're not into weddings though, please do skip ahead.

An element of our handmade wedding that was especially meaningful were the strings of origami cranes created by my mother and our guests. This was a spontaneous project in that I had been so distracted by the rest of my wedding planning that I'd neglected giving much thought to decorating the ceremony site. Fortunately my mom loves to make cranes and has been doing it since I was a kid, so we picked up some pretty origami sheets on our way up to the wedding site.

The day before the wedding everyone pitched in to help with great enthusiasm. Before long we had a rotating table of crane-makers, instructed by my mom, working late into the evening.

She takes her crane making very seriously; there were breathing techniques applied and lots of careful mental focus. As exhibited here by Alvina (fellow Blue Rose Girl), very sweetly at work.

The next day the cranes were carefully strung together (here the mother of the groom does some stringing).

Our photographer, Kelly Lorenz, got some beautiful shots of them as they were assembled,

hung from our wedding tree,

and around the edge of the tent.

It was so lovely to be surrounded by little works of art made by our friends and family as we got married.

Made by hand: cupcakes and an apron

One of the loveliest handmade items at our wedding had to be the cupcakes, generously prepared by Grace (friend and cupcake queen). She baked two flavors for our reception; banana coconut pineapple and lemon for the more faint at heart. They were all painstakingly decorated with bees, frosting flowers, or pineapple flowers.

A close-up of one of the bees, my favorite:

To thank her it seemed only fitting to make something in return. So I found some fun cupcake fabric online, then used one of my aprons as a pattern to make a pretty pink cupcake-y apron.

Happy cupcake baking Grace!

Made by hand: table numbers

Last week I began posting about some of the handmade wedding crafts I worked on for our wedding. This week I thought I'd tell you about the making of our reception table numbers.

When we started planning last fall, I spent a lot of time poking around on the web for ideas and discovered this beautiful wedding on Design Sponge. I used it as inspiration for a number of elements on our tables. I especially loved the idea of using tree stumps as a way to display the table numbers- it fit perfectly with our rustic, crafty wedding.

Then I got lucky. When we were picking out our Christmas tree I spotted a pile of sawed off tree stumps in the corner of the lot that were headed for the trash. Score!

A little sawing and filing and we had a place to put cards or signs or whatever we needed to display.

Next we needed the table number cards. I like to save my old calenders for just such a project. My very favorite one is by Snow & Graham.

I picked out two patterns that matched our chartreuse table runners and the napkin patterns (such as the yellow and grey pattern below).

Then sliced them up into 4 x 5" cards.

Next I printed out the table numbers on my inkjet printer and glued them to the back side.

They fit in the tree stumps perfectly.

I love how they looked on the tables with the flower arrangements, which were made by my very hard working friends (more on that later).

Planning the tables was my favorite wedding project, SO much fun.

Made by hand: napkins

I thought I'd post about a few of the handmade projects we worked on for our wedding. We wanted to be as environmentally responsible as possible, do a lot of reusing, and keep throw-away stuff to a minimum... so we decided to hand sew napkins for the table settings, and then make an extra set to give away to guests as a gift (since we had a very small wedding this was manageable). That way we wouldn't be throwing away a lot of paper napkins, and people would have a nice memento from the day.

At first I thought I'd recycle fabric from thrift stores, but couldn't find enough of any one fabric for the job, or a mix of patterns that went well together. So instead I did some searching around online and ended up falling in LOVE with Amy Butler fabric. Her color palettes vintage inspired patterns are so so lovely. I ended up buying a yard of about 30 different designs (though I wanted a whole apartment full).

I estimated about 6 napkins per yard for a 13 x 16" size when hemmed. Finished and folded the napkins looked like this:

How did I have time to do all that sewing before the wedding you ask? I didn't! My mom pitched in and did the bulk of it, thank goodness. She is a much better and faster seamstress than I.

Once they were done I assembled my lady friends and we put them all together, tied with a bit of ribbon.

It was fun to see them all laid out- our color palette for the wedding was shades of yellow and blue and green...

Most of them went into a basket for the gift table.

And the rest went on the dinner tables (the runners were sewn by hand too, with fabric from Ikea).

They were a big hit; the basket was emptied and most of the table napkins went home with folks too! But we do have a nice set left to use and remember the day by.

Made by hand: rows and rows of roses

I promise not to make this blog entirely about wedding planning (though it is tempting), but will be posting some crafty fun from time to time... planning a wedding offers oh so many opportunities to make stuff! Its really important to me that as many elements of our wedding as possible be handmade.

So this weekend I decided to try my hand at organza roses. Turns out its super easy and I think the result is pretty nice. First I gathered a few different shades of organza and cut out circular petals.

The next step is so singe the edges over a flame, then layer them on top of eachother.

Once you have a bunch layered, all that needs to be done is to sew a bead in the middle to hold the flower together.

Do I need 20 organza roses for my wedding? Not sure. But they were fun to make!

*Title of post is a quote from Like Likes Like by Chris Raschka