Monday, October 13, 2014

OUR HALLOWEEN MANTLE .....

I've had a lot of fun over the past week, decorating our mantle for Halloween.
My friend Val has a Zombie Patch that she puts out at Halloween, and I love it .... so .... I decided to create a patch for us this year too.
I have my zombie dolls ... each one, a precious work of art, created by some of the talented ladies in our swap group. I had a few pumpkins, but not nearly enough, and I didn't have a sign ..... Oh yes, I needed a sign !!!
It's been a busy week .... "growing" pumpkins !!!! Thanks to THIS AWESOME PUMPKIN TUTORIAL, it was easy and fun. I wanted fabrics that would let my pumpkins stay out past Halloween and into Thanksgiving, so the fabrics I used were autumnal, rather than Halloween. I plan on swapping out the Zombie Dolls for scarecrows and pilgrims, once Halloween is over.

So let me share my mantle with you .....


I covered the mantle with some scary fabric (the technical term Walmart use for it :-)


For my sign, I painted the wood white. I then stuck on stickers that spelled out "Zombie Patch", before painting over the white, with black. Once the black paint was dry, I peeled off the stickers. Some red paint, cheesecloth, modge podge, and a zombie head, and the sign was complete :-)
The Queen of Hearts, and poor Alice :-)


The White Rabbit, and his companions ....


Jack Skellington, and The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe ...... minus all of her children !!!!



I love that each pumpkin is so different, despite being made from the same pattern (I just changed the sizes of the pattern pieces). Some have felt leaves, while others have silk leaves. The stems are all made from rolled up felt, except for the stem on the daisy pumpkin - that one is made of Sculpey.

So how have you decorated your mantle .....

Friday, October 10, 2014

CAL UPDATE ...... WEEK 1

I survived the first week !!!!
Once I got the hang of the pattern, I was"A" for away :-) Ok, I'd be lying if I made it sound like I got it right away ..... I had to restart my first square .... uuhhmm ... FIVE times - Yes, you read that right !!!
However, once I found the "hidden" stitch, I was on my way .....



There you have them ..... All 6 !!!
I used yarn colors Lilac, Seafoam and Aqua for these 6 squares. To be 100% honest with you, I'm not so sure anymore, that I like the colors .... But, that being said, I have the yarn, so I'm going to soldier on, and use the colors I chose to make the blanket ..... Hopefully as the weeks progress, and I add more colors, I'll like them more.
I love the design of this first square though .... I think it's really pretty :-)
Week 2's pattern was released today ...... Ummm ...... I'm thinking It may take more than five attempts to get this one right !!! I'm determined to get it right though ...... that was one of the main reasons I decided to take part in this CAL, to stretch myself and learn new stitches and techniques ...... Popcorn Stitch anyone ?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

MY FIRST EVER CAL ....

I've never done one of these before ..... A Crochet Along !!! I've read about them, I've seen the gorgeous results of them, I've considered doing them .... but I've never actually taken the plunge.
Until now that is ..... While on Facebook a couple of weeks back I found THIS CAL LINK, so I decided to take a closer look. Wink from A Creative Being is hosting it. I loved the idea of a new pattern every week, with the promise of a new blanket completed just in time for Christmas ..... Cold, hopefully snowy days (who an I kidding - this is Texas after all), spent snuggling under a new handmade blanket - what's not to like :-) How exciting that we'll have no idea what this beauty will look like until the end ..... oh the anticipation !!!
So, I signed up !!!!

The first pattern will be released tomorrow, ON HER BLOG. She partnered with a Dutch wool company called Scheepejswool, who put together two different kits for the CAL. The response has been overwhelming, and the company ran out of kits. The wool looks beautiful, but honestly it doesn't fit into my budget, so I decided to pick out a reasonably priced acrylic yarn, in colors I love, and I'm crocheting along using them.


Aren't those colors so pretty ... Brittany told me they remind her of Easter (that wasn't my intention). I like them more for the shabby chicish look, I may (or may not) get.
I'm using Yarn Bee's Soft Secret yarn. It's soft and cuddly, with just the right amount of shine.
The colors I've chosen are (from top left, to bottom right) :
Seafoam, Olive, Butter
Lilac, Rosey, White, Fog
Soft Pink, Aqua, Smoke
Pink, Hot Turquoise

I'm looking forward to it, although strangely, I'm a little nervous (What if I don't know how to do some part of it???)
My plan is too post about each weeks pattern, a day or so before the next weeks pattern is to be released ..... I'm hoping this keeps me accountable, so that I wont fall behind.

Perhaps you want to CAL too ... it's not too late .... tomorrow is D Day (or C Day ... that probably sounds better :-)

Monday, September 29, 2014

WHO KNEW ...... A PASTRY CLOTH .....

I had honestly never heard of these ...... not even in stories that my Granny told. So when I came upon THIS PASTRY CLOTH TUTORIAL on Pinterest, I was intrigued.

I decided I needed one ..... hands up, if you hate those little sticky bits of pastry and cookie dough you find stuck to your counter top, no matter how much you flour the surface before rolling it !!!!
Let me tell you, this little ( or not so little, as mine turned out to be) beauty has revolutionized cookie baking for me .... it's genius !!!

Check out the tutorial link - the blogger lists all of the reasons you need one, and here's another reason - I'm telling you they work ... they work .... they work .... like a bomb.
They're dead easy to make too. You do need to use the type of fabric she recommends (although in my research, it seems that painters drop cloth would work too). I got my fabric at Joann's. It was $6-99 a yard, but I used a 40% off coupon, so it made it reasonable. At Joann's this fabric is kept where you find all of the utility fabrics .... yes, I walked around looking for quite a while !!!!


One of the two sides of the fabric is kept plain (this is the side you roll on), while the other side I decorated ... just to pretty it up.
As per the tutorial instructions, I painted some stripes with fabric paint. I decided to take mine a step further ....... my mason jar rubber stamp .... love it !!!! I used special ink for fabric (Hobby Lobby keeps it), With some alphabet stamps, I then named the jars ..... Cute :-)


See, mine is quite large. I think I bought 2 yards, or perhaps 3 yards, cut it in half, and that was my fabric depth, while the length was the width of the fabric. TAKE NOTE ... dont skip pre washing your fabric .... this stuff shrinks like no other !!!!


When you're ready to roll out your dough, dust your pastry cloth with flour, and get rolling ....


Look how beautifully the dough lifts from the cloth .... it makes cookie cutting a breeze !!!!

Your pastry cloth does not need washing every time you use it. - in fact some articles stated that these cloths were never washed back in the day. Once you're finished, dust off the flour, and roll it up. These articles, suggested that the best place to keep your cloth, when it's not in use, is in the freezer, so that's where mine is ... rolled up in my freezer. Something to do with the residual oils and fats.

I thought one of these would make a lovely gift for the cookie or pie baker in your life. Wrap it together with a few cookie cutters, or a spatula or two .... and there you have it :-)



Thought I'd end off, by showing you the finished cookies ..... it's time to play around with some Halloween cookie ideas ..... Doing the Monster Mash !!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

JACK SKELLING ZOMBIE .....

This is the last of my zombies for Halloween 2014 !!!
This was my response to a challenge given to us by my friend (and our Zombie Doll Swap Mama) VAL ... Create a Zombie Doll for our own collections !!!
I love Jack Skellington ... the character from Tim Burtons movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Such a dapper chap. The theme of this years swap was animated zombies ...... it was a done deal !!!!
I promised some of you that have asked me how I create my dolls, that I would explain in a little more detail, my creative process .... so here goes !!!


WHAT I USED TO MAKE JACK :
- Paper Mache ball
- Aluminum Foil
- Masking Tape
- Piece of Dowel
- Lengths of Chain
- Sculpey
-Paint
- Hands from a plastic skeleton

- I glued a length of dowel into the paper mache ball. I then rolled sausages of foil to create his body shape ... wider at the shoulders, more slender at the hips (don't I wish that was a description of me !!!). Once I was happy with the shape, I glued the other end of the dowel into the foil, and I covered his whole torso with masking tape.
- Time to condition your sculpey, and roll it out to an even thickness ..... now start covering his head, neck and torso. This takes a little time to do, but the sculpey is very easy to work with, so press, roll and smooth away, until your happy with the look. At this point I added his nose, his wounds and his eye sockets too.
- Happy with the way he looks .... Good !!! Now it's time to cook him !!! I put him in the oven at 275 Deg F for 30 minutes. When the 30 minutes is up, take him out of the oven and let him cool completely.
- Once cool, I painted him. Gave him an all over coat of white paint, then accented his eyes, mouth and wounds with black and red paint. Leave him to dry, and then give him a coat of varnish.
- I screwed little circle hook things (you attach them to the back of pictures - they're what you tie the wire onto before you hang them), into both shoulders and both hips. The only way that I could think of to create his skinny legs and arms, was to use lengths of chain. Attach those lengths to those circle hook things ... Voila arms and legs !!!
- Attach those skelly hands .... make some sculpey boots ..... and Jack is born !!! He's in need of some clothes now ....

WHAT I USED TO DRESS JACK :
- Black Felt
- White Button
- And lots of patience, because sewing those white strips onto the black felt was laborious !!!!

I cut a pattern based on his shape ..... you'd need to do the same for your guy (each one is unique). Constructing his clothes was done pretty much the same way as you would construct any garment ...shoulder seams, side seams ...... there's no hems, facings or closures though .... now isn't that a bonus !!!

I finished him off, by crocheting lengths of chain stitch with red yarn ..... No zombie is a real zombie until he eats some brains :-) Stick them into his mouth .... yum !!!!


I'll let you in to a little secret ..... this time yesterday, he was headed to the dustbin !!! He came out of the oven, and his head was sooo squishy and the sculpey had cracked in places ....... the ball that I though was paper mache was actually plastic, covered in a thin layer of paper, so it melted !!! SOOOOO check what your ball is made of  .... it must be 100% paper mache to avoid squishy brains !!!
I'm glad I didn't chuck him out, and decided to use him anyway, because I love the final result !!!

October 1st is not too far off  (oh, I'm excited !!!).... I'm trying to decide how best to display my zombie patch this year ..... I'm wondering if I have time to make some paperclay trees before it's time to decorate ? I still need to get my Halloween wreath done, and  ..... and ..... and ....

Friday, September 19, 2014

SPARKY- FRANKENWEENIE'S CANINE CHARACTER ....

I'm a traditional Disney type of animation girl .... Mickey Mouse, Dumbo ..... you get the picture.

My friend Val over at Yarnigras, recently hosted her Annual Halloween Zombie Doll Swap, we're busy wrapping it up now. The theme this year was Animated Zombie Dolls !!! We gave our secret partner some ideas of animated characters we liked, and it was up to them to create and zombify a version of them. It was possibly the most challenging zombie doll swap so far, because my partner chose (A) An animal character, and (B) A character I'd never heard of ...... It was Sparky, the dog from Tim Burtons movie Frankenweenie !!!!

Google Images became my instant BFF ....

Paperclay it was going to have to be, as I saw no other way of getting the shape I needed to create him. Cone shaped styrofoam, styrofoam balls, sculpey,  and lots of scrunched up aluminum foil covered in masking tape was used to get the shape. After a bit of trial and error, I got it, and I was very happy with him !!!!


His back view ....


His front view ....


His right side ....


His left side .....

His two big, rather infected (yuk) looking wounds were made from sculpey, that I glued onto the body, after they'd been baked.

I hope my partner liked him ..... I had a blast creating him, and learned a lot through the creative process :-)


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

APRONS ....

I did a bit of apron sewing recently ........ quick, cheerful, and a great way to feel as though you've accomplished something in a short space of time.
This little sewing exercise was not without its drama however - I had finished the one apron, and only had about 1/4 yard of binding to sew on the second apron, when my sewing machine died !!!! No LCD display, no response from the foot pedal .... it was truly dead !!! I was sooooo mad !!! It has faithfully served me for 10 years, we have sewed many many miles together, and I loved working on it .... the least it could have done was go out with a spectacular show of fireworks and smoke, not just seize up and die !!!
A plan is underway to rectify the situation .... thanks so much Mom and Dad, I appreciate it more than you know :-)
Until I've decided exactly what I'm going to do, I've dusted off a little, beginner, basic machine that I had for Brittany (I thought she may one day like to sew ...... who was I kidding), and I'm getting by with that.

But, enough of my tale of woe, and back to the aprons ......
This time I used SIMPLICITY PATTERN 1936. I've used it before, and like it a lot. It has a flouncy bias cut skirt, and is very economical on the fabric yardage it uses.


This daisy apron, was one my Mom asked me to make for her. She wants to give it to a friend as a birthday present. It says 1950's housewife too me. I think that must have been a really fun era in which to be a young housewife. Everything was made from scratch, you'd have dressed for dinner .... I find something oddly appealing about that. I have some recipe booklets from that era, that have been handed down too me. Every now and again, I pull them out, and look at them. I find the illustrations particularly charming.


This one is my new Halloween apron. I needed a new one, and when I saw this fabric covered in cheerful, funny faced jack o lanterns, I knew I had to have it. I can't wait for the 1st October to roll around, so that I can pull out my Halloween kitchen goodies (I'm going to try and get some new kitchen towels, and maybe even a new pair of oven gloves made in time), and just enjoy the fun month that October always is. I have a few plans for some new porch decorations too ....  I may have already decided on what we'll be handing to our Trick or Treaters this year, and I have a few new recipes pinned  that I'm hoping to try ....

Time is flying by ....... I even begun making my first Christmas gift today !!!