Crafters In Disguise

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Epic New Blog!

In order to bring you more crafts, more often, my friend SmallRiniLady and I have started a new blog together:

Crafters in Disguise

Please follow me on my new blog!

Every week we will have new posts with crafts, art projects, costumes, etc. We'll be alternating between the two of us for variety and scheduling posts ahead of time... in fact we are already booked with lots of posts up through the end of the year!

Yes, I will of course re-post crafts from this blog as well but I will add new text and even some new pictures, and I promise to have new crafts as well, as fast as I can make them!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Organizing the House

Since moving in I have spent many hours unpacking and organizing what we have, attempting to set up the new house utilizing what we have in order to minimize what we will need to purchase. I did stop at Ikea this week to pick up these wire basket drawers, which have turned out to be really great for fabric storage. I love being able to easily see all of my fabrics, organized by color.

In the craft room I also moved my desk to the corner to make more room for the ironing board to the right of it (not pictured). This also puts my drawers of thread and tools within arm's reach while I am sitting at the table.

This is the extra bedroom, all that it has so far is a twin bed, which I have draped my quilt upon. I need window treatments and bed linens! I am thinking about doing a painting for the wall above the bed, or perhaps a grouping of smaller pieces. The closet in this room houses my costumes and the vacuum cleaner.

This is the library/music room. I picked up the chair at Ikea, which I might make a new slipcoved for someday. I think I might add an area rug and curtains, but I haven't decided where I want to go with the style yet. I would like to get better bookshelves first (these are falling apart) and perhaps MORE of them, but that will have to wait for another day. Right now it is clutter-free, organized and functional, which is more than can be said for the rest of the house!

We ran out of space on the first two shelves so I picked up this white one at Target. It is the RE brand and cost about $27. I do not recommend this bookcase, I actually returned the second one I had bought because it is not very sturdy. It is basically one unit sitting on top of another and might actually be dangerous around children. If we ever have any of those, then it will definately be time to upgrade the bookshelves!

Lastly, here is the office. My husband helped me hang the curtains last night. I still need to steam or iron them and hem the bottom, but I think they look nice and they make the room feel airy and cosy. I managed to crop most of the boxes and clutter out of the picture, but you can still see this room needs help! I'm thinking a bigger desk and some storage/organization, such as shelves.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Quick Quilted Pillow

Tonight I made this pillow! I had fun picking out whimsical fabrics from my collection of fat quarters. I love the yellow print especially, it looks like it was inspired by Mary Blair. I tried to pick out coordinating fabrics that also looked like they could belong in a Mary Blair painting.

To make this 8"x12" pillow, I cut out stripes of fabric 9" long and of different widths from the five fabrics. After sewing them together with half-inch seam allowances, I cut out a 9"x13" piece of fabric for the back and two duplicates of a plain yellow fabric (which I had leftover from a Gryffindor Quidditch robe), and then I sandwiched quilting batting between the nice fabric and the plain fabric. I quilted the layers together by hand-sewing with three strands of embroidery threads in vertical lines one inch apart, alternating between two lines of orange and two lines of lime green thread.

After quilting both the front and back, I put the two quilted pieces together back-to-back and sewed the edges (except for 4 inches on the bottom), clipped the corners, then turned it right-side out and pressed. I stuffed it with polyester fill and hand-sewed it closed. Ta-da!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chair Transformation

Every once in a while I discover a fabulous fabric in the remnants bin at JoAnn's. This is a great way to get a yard or less of expensive fabric for a big discount. The only catch is that you then have to figure out what to do with that small amount of fabric!

So I had this piece of green and white decorator fabric which was obviously too small to make a curtain out of. I could have made pillows out of it, though I would have had to pair it with another fabric. However, I recalled one of those home improvement TV shows where the designer took a family's old dining set and made these little slipcases for the tops of the chairs to instantly update them and make them fresh and white.

It took about 30 minutes to make my own slipcover for the chair in my crafting room. It probably would have been a lot faster if I didn't waste time figuring out how to do it, but once I figured it out it was really easy and I could have replicated it quickly if I had more chairs (and more fabric) to go through. However, for this IKEA dining set I have banished the other 3 chairs to the downstairs office and entry way (in lieu of a bench). Maybe I will use the pink and white remnant fabric I also picked up to cover one of the other chairs.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

All Stuffed Up

Another day at home with a cold, another craft project started and completed! This project took probably an hour, I wasn't actually timing it though. I used a storebought pattern and the bear turned out much larger than I was expecting so I think for future bears I will take the pattern to a copy machine and shrink it down to a smaller scale!

I have a friend who makes bears like this for a charity called Operation Teddy Care. They give the bears to counselors, medical professionals, military personnel, etc. who then give the bears to kids who are impacted by abuse, neglect, illness, conflict, war, and so forth. I think this is a wonderful outlet for crafting energies so in the hopes that I might someday be proficient (and proliferent) enough to contribute to this cause, I decided to try making a bear. I've made wearable things, pillows, quilts, and bags before but never stuffed animals, so this was quite a fun opportunity to sew together a three-dimensional cuddle friend.

As a bonus I was able to use up most of this blue fabric I had leftover from a nursing cover I made for a friend a couple of years ago. Now I will need to make more stuffed animals and use up more fabric!
I also took the opportunity to snap a couple of new shots of my "Midnight Fantasy" quilt which is currently adorning a twin bed in our guest room. This is the first quilt I ever made, which I completed back in 2007. It is actually sized for a queen bed, but on a twin it drapes over the sides to cover the mattress nicely, which is a good thing because we don't have sheets on this bed yet!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Congrats Grads!

Two of my cousins just graduated from college and I am on my way to a family BBQ tonight to celebrate their success! We got them gift cards, and since I have like 200 plain white pillowboxes sitting around I had to decorate a couple to put the gift cards in. I decided not to use one of the pillowboxes I had decorated before because I wanted something that was brighter and more colorful and more appropriate for a congratulatory gift.

The scrapbooking paper I used for both of these boxes came from the same big stack. For each box I used two different coordinating papers. I made Peter's first, cutting out a 5-inch strip of the striped paper and wrapping it around the width of the blank box. The other paper I had was a bunch of squares so I wrote CONGRATS and PETER on two strips within the design, then cut them out and used double-sided tape to attach them to the box.

For Kari's box, I selected a nice spring green plaid and then I wanted to use a polka-dot paper to write CONGRATS and KARI. However, when I wrote out CONGRATS it was longer than the box because there was a lot of white space between the dots. Taking a tip from my sewing knowledge I decided to box pleat the paper, in effect making the word pop up away from the background. I think it turned out pretty cool!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sewing Again!

I started this project about a year ago, it is intended to be a small patchwork quilt made from fabric scraps. When I left this project I had all of the squares cut out, but had only sewn a few of them together because my sewing machines weren't working correctly. Then we decided to put the condo on the market so I had to put all of my crafting things away. FINALLY I am able to pick up where I left off! I finished piecing together all of the squares today!

My new craft room has lots of natural light and lots of space to lay out quilts on the floor. The best part is I don't have to put it away when I am done working for the day, I can just close the door!

I need to make a trip to the fabric store to get some soft flannel or cotton for the back side of the quilt before I can put it all together and have a finished project. I have a working sewing machine now as well so I hope to be working on more sewing projects in the near future!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Issaquah Cuisine

There are some really great places to eat in Issaquah... Jak's is a really great steak place, XXX Rootbeer is a unique experience and Tutta Bella has yummy pizza and Italian food. Most recently my friend Kris encouraged me to check out this locally-owned diner called the 12th Avenue Cafe. She said this baked potato dish called "The Montana" was really great so I had to try it.

I ordered the Small and only finished a third of it! My husband and I both enjoyed the leftovers though.

I have also made a couple of trips to the Burger King right off of Exit 15. Both the drive-through and take-out have been good experiences, and I also had a bit of a chuckle over my order number.

I guess someone at Burger King doesn't like Jedi Knights!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Week 1 in the [New House]

We spent the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend moving all of our wordly posessions from my in-laws' place to our new house. To accomplish this feat, we invited family and friends (about 2 dozen people!) to come help. Fortunately my husband is friends with a bunch of 20-something strong young men who are wonderful, helpful people. We started around 9:30 after picking up two trucks (one 10' and one 16') and we finished at about 2pm after two trips with the 16' truck and only one with the 10' truck.

Our house is three stories (basement, main floor, bedrooms on upper level) so as you can imagine I was very greatful for the guys who hauled all of our things up the stairs and put them in the right rooms. I think I only had like 5 boxes that ended up in the wrong place. It really helps to label all of the boxes clearly AND put signs on all of the rooms so everyone knows what goes where. Pointing out which floor it goes to is key to not having to move things up and down the stairs later!

So here we are almost a week later, settling into the new house and resuming our typical lives at home though in a new environment. My husband in enjoying going through his collections and putting them up to display on shelves and I am actually enjoying cooking in the new kitchen. I went through my collection of science fiction books and most of them are now in our new library (one of the extra bedrooms). It is really nice to have them all in one place again instead of just in boxes. We need better shelves though, the cheap RE shelves from Target are really not very good, it is basically one shelf sitting on top of another, not even connected well. They used to have better shelves for the same price but I guess with the recession they cut back a little by removing the support braces and only finishing one side of the top piece. That was disappointing because we liked those inexpensive shelves. Unfortunately the carboard backing to those shelves did not survive multiple moves and our third shelving unit is completely trashed anyway. Nicer shelves are going on my wish list!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

iMove, Final Edition

The last 7 months or so have been pretty exciting! My husband and I decided to sell our 1-bedroom condo and buy a big new house. It took 6 months to get an offer we liked (I blame the crazy market and the winter season), but finally the condo has been sold! My husband bought it five years prior at the peak of the market but we actually managed to sell a little higher than the purchase price.

I am really looking forward to the new house and the prospect of never having to move again (at least not for a while, right?). Ever since I have graduated from high school I have seriously moved at least once a year, sometimes twice a year (during college). That makes me a l33t PRO at moving, with more than ten years of experience. Allow me to outline my experience:

1. 2000 - graduated high school, left my childhood home to go to college
2. moved back home for the summer
3. moved back to college my sophomore year
4. Mom remarried; I moved my stuff from my childhood home to Mom's new house
5. moved to the new house for the summer
6. moved back to college my Jr. year
7. moved back home for the summer
8. back to college for my Sr. year
9. 2004 - graduated, moved back home and Mom started charging me rent to make me get a job
10. moved to a tiny basement room of a house in Greenlake with 4 roommates (cheap rent)
11. got my own studio apartment (no roommates!)
12. moved to a 1-bedroom apartment
13. Fall 2008 - got married, moved in with the hubby (the 1-bedroom condo)
14. 2010 - sold the condo, moved in with hubby's parents (temporarily!)
15. COMING SOON: the FINAL move to our new house! (Seriously, we better not move again in the next 15 years...)

In less than two weeks we will be closing on our new house! I am already planning out where to put everything. We found a great new house which was new construction a couple of years ago but was barely lived in. The neighborhood is gorgeous and new, and Target and Costco are conveniently close by (woot!). The best part is that we are going from a 1-bedroom+den condo to a house with enough space that my husband will get his own man cave in the basement where he can display his action figures and I will get.... my own CRAFT ROOM! Woohoo!

Seriously, I cannot wait to start working on crafts again, it has been impossible to work on anything ever since we staged the condo and put it on the market. I have unfinished projects to complete and blog about! I feel like my life has been in limbo the past 7 months. Heck, I even cancelled my World of Warcraft subscription. Fortunately I had a StarCraft 2 beta key from BlizzCon 2008 so I have had a game to play whenever I have 20 minutes to kill. It's much easier to just sit down and spawn zerglings for a few minutes than it is to get sucked into raid dungeons for 3 hours straight.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Some Idle Idol Advice

With the new season of America's favorite televised singing competition well underway, next season's hopefuls are currently dreaming about next year's tryouts. Many young adults and teens will show up woefully unprepared and unrealistic about their chances but the smart ones will be browsing the web for all the helpful hints they can dig up to hopefully gain an edge.

I tried out for American Idol two seasons ago, realistically expecting that at my best I might get through the first round, but just planning on having a fun day seeing what it was all about and trying to sing well enough to not get pushed through as one of the "bad singers". I managed to lose my voice during the "warm-ups" (and due to standing in the cold and rain for 4 hours) but was able to walk out with a good experience and my dignity in-tact.

In the two years since my humbling audition experience I have learned a lot of "need to know" tips that others may not be aware of.

Start preparing months early:

Take vocal lessons from a contemporary singing coach early on. Get at least one session with a coach who can help you discover your problem areas and give you a training plan that you can work on on your own.

Develop your chest voice. If you don't know what that is, find out or quit now! Work on the range of your chest voice, how you transition to head voice on higher notes, and develop your range and tone. Do "nyah nyah nyah" exercises to train your chest voice to sing higher so you can belt those high notes. If you can do that, the judges will love you.

Eliminate tension. Watch yourself in the mirror or videotape yourself singing and look for any place where you are tensing up physically. It looks bad and it constricts your tone. Relax those muscles and try singing it again.

Learn 2-3 audition songs. Find songs that fit your voice, style, and your range. Learn them inside-out. Once you know the song, try singing it slower, faster, higher, lower, louder or softer until you figure out the best way to sing each phrase.

Get someone else's opinion. Perform in front of friends (not your parents, they are biased) to get their opinions. Find someone who really knows music, not just someone who thinks you are wonderful.

On the day of the audition:

DRINK WATER. Make sure your voice and throat are in the best condition possible. DRINK WATER. Start drinking water as soon as you get up. You need to start hydrating yourself at least an hour prior to singing. This will help your vocal chords and throat be at its best. Don't eat anything that day that will coat your throat like dairy or sugary foods. Pack apples and celery sticks for breakfast and lunch the day of the audition and bring a two or three bottles of water. Throat spray for singers such as Vocalese or Entertainer's Secret are also helpful right before you are about to sing.

Do your own warm-ups. After you get your seat (which is assigned), go to the bathroom and do all your warm-ups. Don't blow out your voice screaming for Ryan Seacrest.

Don't be sick. Take Vitamin C for a week or so prior to the audition, wash your hands, do whatever you can do avoid getting ill.

Dress comfortably but stylishly. This is a job interview, after all. Personality is great, but you also want to show that you are taking the audition seriously. If you are going to wear high heels, bring slip-ons to wear until the actual audition. Dress to fit your voice type too, don't wear a cowboy hat unless you are singing country. If you have a rock vocal style, don't be a poser and dress like a goth or rock star unless you already are one. An outfit from Express would be more mainstream, but looking like you're going to a garden party would really be weird if you start singing some Janice Joplin.

Bring a friend... or not. Ask yourself - will this person make me more extroverted or more introverted? Will this person make me nervous if they are watching me audition? Or will I have a lot more fun if I bring this friend with me?

Bring your Nintendo DS. I made friends in line purely becuase we both had Animal Crossing. I gave him pears and he gave me a golden rose. Seriously, you will probably spend a lot of time waiting so bring something to calm your nerves. Boredom can also make you a lot less patient and nobody wants to see you rant and rave on live television because you got cut after waiting 8 hours for an audition. Or do they?

The main thing is to have fun and be realistic. If you want to win, you have to put in the work.

After the audition, if you walk away without a golden ticket, there is always next year.

Lastly, if someone tells you that you can't sing, that really means you are a very bad singer and clearly have no idea what you have gotten yourself into. HOWEVER - this does not mean that you can never sing. It just means that you need a LOT of work. If you seriously want to sing, get a vocal coach and learn what singing it about. Singing doesn't happen overnight, it can take years of practice, especially if you are starting from scratch without any clue or natural talent. But there is ALWAYS room for improvement and the first steps are the ones that will make the biggest difference.