Guest blog series2 2011

Rachel Wolf lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband and two children. Rachel spends her days living her bliss in a swirling cloud of living, playing, homeschooling, mothering, writing, crafting, and work-at-home-mama chaos. Visit her blog Clean or her organic body care business, LuSa Organics.

Felt Crown Tutorial

A felt crown is required play equipment for any young child. With the right crown you can be the queen, the king, the prince, the knight, or the ruler-of-all-that-you-see. We love crowns for birthdays in particular. Nothing makes a child feel more special than birthday fuss plus a special crown (though we tend to wear them daily in our corner of the world as well.)

A homemade crown is something to be cherished and easier to make than you can imagine. I have not provided a proper pattern because I think each crown is best born of your own creativity. You don’t need me to draw the lines for you. (Really. You don’t!) I cut mine free-hand, but if you want to be more precise, cut a sample from paper first to get a feel for it. It’s a crown. For your kid. Don’t over think it and you really can’t mess it up.

The crown below is sized for a child ages 3-6. For an older child just add a pinch of extra length to the elastic.

Ready? Let’s sew.

Materials

  • Cotton fabric for casing, 3″ x 10″
  • Wool felt (mine is 60% wool), two pieces 15″ x 5″ each
  • 6″ length of 1/4″ elastic
  • safety pin
  • fine glitter (optional)

Process

  1. Sew an elastic casing from cotton. You will sew the seam along the long side. Stitch, turn, and press with seam to the center.
  2. Insert elastic as follows: Fasten a safety pin to one end of elastic. Pull elastic through casing until the elastic tail is even with first opening. Stitch.Pull safety pin, gathering casing, and align the other end of elastic with casing opening. Remove pin and sew.
  3. Cut your crown. Determine which color felt is your background and which is your main color (the front). Fold your background color in half and cut a basic crown shape, with a peak in the center.
  4. Cutting freehand with your shears, shape the basic crown into something more artistic. Wing it. Whatever you create will be lovely! Just let it flow. I folded my fabric in half and cut through both sides at once. (Save your scraps. You’ll need them in a minute.) Hold this modified crown shape up to your child (or even your own head, looking in the mirror) and adjust height and shape as needed.
  5. When you are satisfied with the shape of your crown cut an identical piece out of your second piece of felt. (Lay the already cut crown over the second piece and trace or cut around it.)
  6. Trim off 1/2″ from bottom of the second piece of felt. This will make it smaller and you’ll be able to see the background color all around.
  7. Cut out any embellishments you’d like from the background felt scraps. I prefer to keep it very simple to allow the child to create all the extras in their imagination, but follow your own intuition. Circles, gems, stars, or other simple graphics are ideal.
  8. When you are satisfied with placement, topstitch embellishments into place with matching or contrasting thread onto the main color crown piece.
  9. Pin background crown to main crown panel and carefully sew across top and bottom seams. (Leave sides open for the moment.)
  10. Insert elastic casing with right side facing frontward. Sew. Repeat on second side, being careful not to twist. Your crown is done! For added bling rub with a bit of extra fine glitter. That’ll take it right over the top.

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For more kids craft, creative ideas and activities go to the Action Pack website

Victoria Gertenbach is textile artist living in Lancaster County, PA. where her story continues to unfold. To learn more please visit her blog.

Finding Your Creative Voice

Hello Everyone! I’m Victoria from the Silly BooDilly, and I am delighted to be filling in for Kathreen today as one of her guest bloggers while she is on vacation.

When Kathreen first asked me if I would do a guest blog post, I wasn’t sure what I would write about it. So, I started thinking about various topics which are important to me in regards to creativity, and that led me to the topic of finding one’s true creative voice, something I feel very strongly about.

"Work Quilt #1" 2010. Inspired by the surrounding farmland where I live, as well as old patched utilitarian quilts.

It’s common for most of us, when first learning a new craft, to look around at what others are doing. In fact it’s usually seeing what someone else is doing that first sparks our desire to learn about a certain subject. The next obvious step is to try and recreate something similar in look and style to whose ever work it is that we admire. And if we can find any how-to’s provided by them, books featuring them, or take a class taught by them, all the more wonderful, for this helps us learn about process, techniques, and methods.

But too often, (in my personal opinion) folks can easily get stuck in this apprentice stage, embracing and taking on the style of the teacher/influencer to such a degree that they forget to move forward into the next stage, which is where one takes the technical information that they have learned and figures out how to apply that information to express something that can only come from their own unique perspective, which is how true art is born.

So, how does someone find their own creative voice? Well, I think one of the best pieces of advice that I have ever heard about this topic was in regards to writers. You probably have heard it too, at some point…

“If you wish to be a good writer, write about what you know.”

I would suggest that the same holds true for the visual arts. Create what you know. Create what you care about. Create what you are drawn to. Create what you resonate with. Create what you love.

If you follow your heart it will lead you to your soul.

"Barn Door" 2011. Inspired by the beautiful worn and weathered old white barns near where I live.

Start paying attention to what in your environment makes your heart skip a beat. What do you find yourself looking at, photographing, collecting, thinking about? And ask yourself, “why?” Why do you like what you do? Break it down… for example, if you find yourself photographing close up shots of flowers and insects, ask yourself what it is that attracts you to them… is it that you love the relationship between the two? Their colors? Their shapes? If you have a collection of found bird nests on your mantle and artwork of eggs and feathers hanging around your home, ask yourself why… do you like the freedom that birds seem to have? Are you attracted to their ability to weave a nest, (I know I am). Is there something about the shape and/or color of their eggs that lifts your spirit? These types of questions can help you define what it is that you want to explore and express in your art.

Remnants #5 and #4, 2010. Inspired by the lines and shapes found in the old farms near where I live.

If you are attracted to architecture, (as I am) ask yourself, what style of architecture you are drawn to, and what aspects about that style are you most drawn to? And for the record, don’t be surprised if you find yourself drawn to more than one type, even if those types seem to be completely different. (This just proves that you are multi-dimensional!) I for one am very drawn to mid-century design for it’s clean esthetics and use of line. For me it represents order and simplicity, the ability to say more with less. However, I am also extremely drawn to old farm structures, primarily for their worn exterior with peeling paint, their holes and broken windows, their patched and mended areas and their wonderful odd lines and off kilter shapes. For me they represent quiet beauty, endurance, an undying strength of spirit and a life well lived. I also daydream about owning a darling little beach cottage one day, as I love the seaside and associate it with true bliss. And last but not least I have a real attraction to cute vintage trailers as I associate them with one of my favorite childhood books, “The Boxcar Children” which sent my 8 year old self day-dreaming of young independence found in the act of setting up housekeeping in a small place of one’s very own.

Embroidered Miniature Houses, 2011. Inspired by my attraction to little beach cottages and small retro trailers.

Regardless of how many different architectural structures I am attracted to, I know that each one holds something personal for me, and that’s the key…

As soon as you start to examine what truly resonates with you, and figure out why it pulls at you, you will begin to create your own personal foundation that you can then build upon with a body of work that reflects you as an creative individual.

Everybody has a story to tell. What’s yours?

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Jenny Bartoy is a mama of two little boys in Seattle, Washington and a former project manager with a passion for sewing, drawing and crafting.  She blogs about her handmade projects on Stumbles & Stitches, a creative conversation with her friend Angel. Jenny sells fabric art and other handmade items in her new Etsy shop.
Hello Whipup.net readers! I’m so excited to be here and share a favorite project of mine: burlap art. I love repurposing materials, it’s such a fun and eco-conscious way to create. For this project, I used part of a burlap coffee sack as my canvas and small fabric scraps to create my picture. Inspired by nature, this design features two birdies calling to each other through the woods at sunset.
You can often find used burlap coffee sacks on Craigslist and Ebay, or if you’re lucky, through a local coffee shop where they roast their own beans. While stamped and distressed coffee sacks look pretty cool as a background, other perfect materials can be linen from thrifted curtains, canvas from a painter’s drop cloth, a vintage napkin… The possibilities are endless when repurposing!
The finished size of this fabric art is 9 x 9 inches. For this project, you will need the following materials:
  • Printed template [link to “Calling Birdies Template” PDF]
  • Background: burlap or other fabric, 15 x 15 inches (includes extra material to wrap around stretcher bars)
  • Lining (if using burlap): muslin, 15 x 15 inches
  • Trees: one piece of fabric, 10 x 7 inches
  • Birdies and leaves: dozen small fabric scraps
  • Fusible web appliqué paper (double-sided iron-on adhesive)
  • Thread, needle, scissors, pen, sewing machine
  • Canvas stretcher bars, 9 x 9 inches
  • Nails/hammer or staples/staple gun
1. Let’s start by prepping your fabric. If using burlap for your background, you’ll want to line it with a square of muslin.  Pin your two layers together and stitch all the way around. I do a straight stitch, then a zigzag stitch around that. Burlap has a way of coming undone if you don’t secure its edges!
I’m using the inside of a coffee sack here, where the ink has seeped through from the stamping.  The letters are backwards, but I like that it’s a more subtle print than the bold black characters on the front of the sack.
2. Select your fabric scraps for the trees, birdies and leaves. For my version, I imagined these birdies at sunset, so I chose scraps in warm colors like yellow, orange, red and purple. To contrast and create an impression of shadows, I selected a grey solid for my trees and white/beige checks for my birdies.
Choose a color scheme that speaks to you! You could do sunset, or autumn or spring, or even completely neutral on a colorful background. Iron your fabric scraps onto fusible web (please follow manufacturer’s instructions).
3. Print out my template at 100% on 8.5 x 11 inch letter size paper [link to “Calling Birdies Template” PDF]. Cut out the shapes and trace them onto the paper side of the fusible web, on the back of the fabric scraps you’ve prepped. You’ll need to trace 3 tree trunks (draw them backwards!), 2 birdies (one in each direction) and 12 leaves.
Cut out your fabric shapes. I like to cut an excess of leaves from a variety of scraps, then play with the color arrangement until I’m happy.
4. Place your fabric shapes onto the background fabric. You can follow my template, or change it up! Face the birds away from each other, move the leaves around…  Remember to keep all the pieces within a central 9 x 9 inch space, your finished project size.
At this point, I like to snap a digital picture of my layout. It allows me to see it from a different perspective and notice what may need to be tweaked. It also helps me remember exactly where I placed each piece before the next step.
5. Remove the birdies and leaves, set them aside. Peel the paper backing from the trees and fuse them onto the background fabric (please follow manufacturer’s instructions for fusible web).
6. Stitch around the trees with your sewing machine, or a needle and thread. Your thread color choice depends on whether you want the stitches to contrast or blend into your appliqué.  I used dark grey thread on everything to create overall cohesion.
I outlined each appliqué piece with a straight stitch, roughly 1/8 inch in from the edge – it adds texture to the finished project. Since the fusible web is adhering your pieces to the background fabric, you can skip this step if you prefer. Or you can zigzag stitch around the appliqué, try a blanket stitch, or go crazy with embroidery floss and a needle. Have fun with it, it all contributes to the finished artwork!
7. It’s time to add the birdies and leaves! Follow the same steps as for the trees. When you’re done top-stitching, add legs for the birdies by stitching 2 little sticks under each bird’s belly. You can either machine-stitch or embroider them.
8. Carefully press your fabric art one last time, cut off any errant threads and make sure you’re satisfied with the overall look and details – it’s your last chance! Then it’s time to attach your fabric art onto the canvas stretchers.
I recommend googling the proper technique for attaching fabric onto stretcher bars. My method is to lay the fabric art face down on a clean flat surface, then center the stretcher bars on top. Begin by folding over each edge of the fabric art one at a time, and sticking a nail/staple in the middle of the bar. Taking turns with each side, gently pull the fabric taut and secure it evenly around the canvas with nails/staples. Finish by neatly folding the corners in and nailing/stapling those down.
Ta-da!  You are done!
Thank you Kathreen for inviting me to post on WhipUp! I hope you’ve all enjoyed this tutorial. I can’t wait to see what you make and hope you’ll come share it with me over on Stumbles & Stitches. My talented friend and blog-mate Angel is working on her own version of this project and will be showing it off too!
Note: The template shared here is for personal use only. Please do not sell it or any projects made from it. If you share your project online, please credit the design to Jenny Bartoy of Stumbles & Stitches. Thanks in advance and happy stitching!

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Beneath the Rowan Tree is a shady little spot where life and art and craft  and parenting meet. Lori Campbell is the mom, author and natural toy artisan behind the BTRT blog and shop, and designer of the positive apparel found at Daydream Believers. She’s always in a mess and the chaos can be colorful and fun, challenging and funny, sweet and bittersweet and company is always, always welcome!


Beeswax polish is a wonderful, all natural way to preserve and protect your wooden treasures, toys and trinkets (furniture, too!). Here’s how to make your own!

This is the finish we use on our wooden toys at BTRT. First and foremost, because it is natural and safe for little hands (and mouths). Add that it provides a beautiful gleaming finish that brings out the warmth of the wood, that it repels water, dirt and oils, and can be re-applied as needed to restore the beauty of any natural wood surfaces.

And it smells good. (oh that your monitor was scratch and sniff right now!)

And is great for your hands!

Supplies Needed:

(Set aside about 30 minutes to complete this project.)

  • Beeswax (50 ml melted wax will make nearly 8 oz. of polish)
  • Jojoba Oil (5 oz./ 150 ml will yield 8 oz. of polish)
  • Glass measuring cups in suitable volumes
  • Pot
  • metal spoon
  • essential oils, if desired
  • glass or other non-porous, sealable containers


You can make as much or as little polish as you like, simply keep your beeswax to jojoba oil ratio at 1:3. For a softer polish, increase the jojoba (technically a wax, but liquid at room temperature). For a harder polish, increase the beeswax.

Gather your supplies

  1. Set your pot on the stove, high heat, and fill part way with water to boil.
  2. Put your measuring cup for melting the beeswax in the pot to heat with the water. OR create another double boiler of your choice.
  3. Make sure your jars or containers are clean and dry, set aside.
  4. Figure out how much polish you plan to make, and measure the jojoba oil into the second measuring cup.


Melt the Beeswax

SAFETY FIRST:

  • Beeswax has a melting point of 143-148 degrees.
  • All waxes may ignite if they are heated to their flashpoint.
  • Never melt your beeswax in the microwave.
  • Always use a double boiler set up and remove the wax from the heat once it has melted.
  • Mind that your pot does not boil dry.
  • Use a grater to shave off smaller amounts of beeswax for faster melting.
  • Choose a small chunk, melt it in the measuring cup and eye up whether I have enough, adding more if needed.
  • If I over-melt, I simply pour off the excess into a non-porous container to cool and store for later use.

Mix the Oils

  1. When your beeswax is liquified, pour the needed amount into the glass measuring cup holding your jojoba oil.
  2. Make sure you have figured out your ratio and measurements ahead of time!
  3. Place this mixture back into the double boiler to melt together (the beeswax will immediately begin to harden in the cool jojoba oil~ you could heat the jojoba ahead of time, but why dirty more dishes?), stirring regularly until you have a liquid mixture.


Fill Your Jar(s)

  1. Pour the mixture into your waiting containers. I suggest heating the jars with hot water to avoid shock breakage when the hot liquid wax is poured in!
  2. Add essential oils at this point.  Just a few drops, and stir. Lemon and lavender are my favourites. We actually use flavour oils for added insurance of safety for toys that end up in kids’ mouths!
  3. Set the jars aside to cool and set up. This may take one to several hours depending on your ratios and temperatures.

Go Polish Something!

  • I prefer a flannel cloth~ preferably an old one so there will be less lint. I keep my cloths in the jar for storage so they remain lint free and ready for polishing.
  • Apply one or more thin coats of polish to your wood. Allow to dry, buff to shine! Enjoy!

Bonus idea: Your melted beeswax can be used for making toys and ornaments. Simply pour it into the candy moulds used for chocolates, which come in endless shapes and sizes.  Let them cool and pop them out.  To add a string for hanging, simply use a hot needle to pierce the wax.

{Some folks are unsure about where to find beeswax. You can try a local apiary (we get ours from a local honey farm), or checkout online source - search for beeswax and ‘encaustic supplies’}

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Amy Adams is a Designer and Crafter who blogs under the name LucyKateCrafts where you can see more of her softies and patterns. Her first book was published in April 2011 by C&T Publishing as part of their imprint range, Stash Books, and is full of cute and quirky softie patterns for all sorts of wildlife including a swan, otter and hedgehogs. There are other insects, such as a dragonfly and bumble bees, to go along with the ladybird, in the book.

Lady bird felt softie

You will need:

  • 1 piece of fabric 3” x 6” (7.5 x 15cm) for the body
  • 1 piece of craft felt 3” x 4” (7.5 x 10cm) for the wings
  • 1 piece of craft felt 1” x 2” (2.5 x 5cm) for the eyes
  • 2 small buttons
  • sewing thread
  • stuffing
  • small pebble to weight the ladybird
  • plus the usual needle, pins, scissors etc

Making the body

  1. Cut 2 body shapes using the template provided from your chosen fabric, place them right sides together and pin.
  2. Sew round the edge leaving the turning gap open.
  3. Turn the body right side round, stuff with a little of the stuffing, then pop in the pebble to give the ladybird a little bit of weight. Continue to stuff until it is almost full then fold in the raw edges of the turning gap and sew it closed.

Adding the eyes and wings

  1. Cut 2 eye circles from the smallest piece of craft felt. Hold one in position on the body (the opposite end to where the turning gap was), and anchor in place by attaching it on with one of the small buttons.
  2. Repeat for the other eye.
  3. Cut 2 wings from the other piece of craft felt and attach one to the body using small random straight stitches along the short straight edge. Flip the other wing and attach in the same way so both wings line up as indicated on the template.

Embroidery embellishment

  1. Add some french knots dotted around each of the wings. To do this, anchor your embroidery thread to the ladybird’s body with a knot underneath one of the wings. Bring the thread up through the wing, wrap it round the needle 3 times and then take the thread back down through the body, coming up where you want the next french knot to appear, pulling the previous knot tight as you go.
  2. Add some antennae by passing a short length of embroidery thread through the head from one side to the other, just above each eye. Remove the needle and tie a knot in each end of the thread, trimming the length if need be.

Your ladybird is now complete. If you have any trouble getting hold of small buttons for the eyes, here are some ideas of other alternatives.

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