Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Week 37 Craft: Rustic Fabric Christmas Tree

OK, it's happening.  Halloween hasn't even passed and I've already moved on to the Christmas crafts.  Personally, I think Tim Burton got it right with Nightmare Before Christmas - just combine the two!

This week's craft was inspired by my need to seriously whittle down my stash pile.  Like most of you I buy fabric because I can't pass up the great price, or the great print, always with the best intentions of using it.  And like most of you the latest inspiration NEVER seems to fit with the fabrics on hand.  Sigh....So here is a project that will help clear up at least a little of that long forgotten pile of fabrics.  As a matter of fact, this gives you a chance to use up some of your ribbon and paint stash too.  The only thing I bought for this project was the peat pot.

What you need:
mini peat pots
acrylic paint (pick a color that coordinates with your fabric)
cotton fabric scraps
ribbon scraps
large upholstery needle
branch from one of your trees (or a small dowel or wilton lollipop stick)
glue gun

1. Separate you peat pots.  They break apart quite easily either by folding the seam back and forth, or by cutting with scissors.  I found mine at Home Depot.  I think I paid a whopping $3 for 50 of them.  50!!  You can make a whole forest of trees!  The top is 2" square, so these will be petite.

2.  Paint your pot(s).  You only need to paint the outside.  I chose burnt umber to keep with the rustic look of the fabrics I selected.

3. Sort through your stash and select at least five fabrics.  I decided to stick with greens, but these would be super cute in hot pinks and purples, or black and white, or whatever colors your heart desires.

4.  Cut out two squares of each color.  My largest is 3", then 2 1/2", 2", 1 3/4, 1 1/4" and 1".

5. Place your squares wrong sides together and using a 1/8" seam allowance sew all four sides.  Leave a small opening on one side for stuffing.

6.  Now it's time to distress the edges just like you would for a rag quilt.  Get your squares wet and wring them out.  Now is not the time for being gentle.  Really rub them around in your hands to help with the fraying.  Toss them in the dryer with a few rags and let them dry. I don't really think you needed photos for this part, but who doesn't love a "water action shot"?

7. Once dry, loosely stuff your squares.  Don't over do it; you just want a little dimension.  Sew the opening closed.

8.  Time to sharpen your stick/dowel/lolli.  Grab a knife and whittle it to a point.  Be careful!  I'm guessing you could use a pencil sharpener if you're worried about cutting a finger off.

9.  Grab your upholstery (tapestry?) needle and work it through the center of your largest square.  The large needle is to create an opening so the stick fits through easier.  Don't have an upholstery needle?  Use the tip of sharp pointed scissors.  Once you have a hole work your stick through.

10.  Work your way through the rest of the squares except for the smallest one.  With a glue gun, glue the final square on top instead of poking it through.  Trim your stick to your desired height.

11.  Drip a big bunch of glue from your glue gun into the bottom of your peat pot.  Place your stick into the glue and hold in place until it hardens.  I propped mine between two glasses so it would stay upright while the glue hardened.  While your tree doesn't have to be perfectly upright you do want it to stand on its own, so take some time to make sure it is balanced.

12. Grab a few small stones or some dirt to place in the peat pot to help with the balance.  Glue some moss on top to cover the stones/dirt.

13. Once the moss is in place add some ribbon to give the peat pot a little bling.

There you go!  These make the sweetest little trees; mine ended up at about 6 1/2".  They are so petite they would work as unique little place cards on your holiday table.  

I left space between my squares so the "trunk" showed more, but you could easily place the stuffed squares one on top of the other.  If you did it that way, you wouldn't even need the trunk - you could just glue the tiny pillows together and glue them on top of the peat pot.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Week 36 Craft: Posed Dollar Store Skeleton

Here is a quick, easy and completely silly craft to tuck into that corner that just needs a "little something halloween".  This is my second craft inspired by Mizerella blogspot.

First go around I was inspired by the silver paint for my Skeleton Door Hanger.

This time around I tried the posing for my primping girl skeleton:

What you need:
Skeleton from Dollar Tree skeleton garland
Pot of boiling water
Scraps of tulle and ribbon
Needle and thread
Ultra fine black sharpie

1. Check out Mizerella's post for how to get your skeletons into the pose you want.  The basics are to heat the skeleton in the boiling water to make it more plyable, remove it from the water and very slowly bend the arms and legs into the position you want.  Once in position hold it there until it cools.  Be gentle!  These skeletons will move somewhat, but just like me, the joints are stiff and brittle.
2. I used two layers of black tulle and one of shiny orange to make her skirt.  I used pieces that were about 15" long and 2" high.  With your needle and thread run a gathering stitch through the top of the tulle and gather tightly.

3. Take your piece of ribbon and sew it into place over the gather.  Leave tails on either end to tie a bow around the waif like waist of your skeleton.

4. I wanted to give her just a little glam so I used the sharpie to add some eyelashes and fill in her sockets.

5. Her head still looked a little too plain, so I added a tiny headband.  

She found a home nestled next to the soap in my guest bath, so she can primp in the mirror for all of eternity....and wonder if that skirt makes her look fat.

Week 35 Craft: Dollar Store Skeleton Door Hanger

The witching hour is near, you hear a slight rustle behind you, but when you turn nothing is there.  Was it your imagination, or something much more sinister?  This week's project is intended to send a fun little chill up your spine: a Skeleton Door Hanger.

The original inspiration came from the Mizerella blogspot.

The post on how to make costume awards out of dollar store skeletons cracked me up.  So I jumped in the car and headed for my nearest Dollar Tree.  Not only did I find the skeleton garland, it's also where I found those great orange mugs for my "painted mug" tutorial.

What you need:
Plastic skeletons garland (found at Dollar Tree)
Chrome spray paint
Chenille twist wire
Thin black ribbon (or twine)
Fun Fur in black
Scrap of ribbon
Jingle bell (found at Joann's)


1. Start by cutting the twine off of your skeleton garland.  The garland comes with four, but I only used three.
2. Take some sewing thread, double it up and make a knot...just like you would if you were going to sew, but leave out the needle.  This will make a handy loop that you can gently set your skeleton in.  What you are looking for is a way to suspend the skeleton for painting that won't get in the way.

I looped the threads through a stick and suspended the stick between two sawhorses, I'm sure two chairs would do nicely if you don't happen to have sawhorses lying around.

3.  Using the chrome spray paint go ahead and paint the skeletons.  Go nice and slow, the spray will get those guys spinning pretty quickly.

Let them hang out while they dry.

4. Once dry it's time to "string 'em up".  I used 1/8" wide ribbon and tied a noose around their necks.  The flat ribbon made it a little tricky to work with, but I wanted to stay with all black.  Oh, and I didn't know how to tie a noose, so I googled it.  Yeah..... that will make you feel a little uncomfortable.  It's not like you normally need to know how to tie a noose just for fun.   Here's  an easy to follow video.  

5.  Next up is making the loop for your door hanger.  I took the ribbon nooses, made them in various lengths and tied them to a piece of chenille twist tie.  Cross the ends of the tie over each other and twist around to secure the loop.

6.  Using the Fun Fur crochet around the chenille loop; it's not 100% necessary to do, but makes the loop look much more substantial as well as more "finished".  Don't know how to crochet around a loop?  Here's a great tutorial from the Kraft Farm.

7.  Now it's time to guild the lily.  I wanted to stick with the black theme as much as possible, so I tacked on a piece of striped ribbon and a black jingle bell I had laying around from one of last year's projects.  Go as simple, or crazy, as you like.

All that remains is for you to hang this on your favorite victim's door.  The skeletons will sway as the door opens, creating an ever so slight that the undead coming for you?  The tiny tinkle of the bell - a harmless, random noise, or the sound of a ghostly cat roaming from room to room?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Week 34 Craft: Pumpkin Cup with Boney Brownie

This week's inspiration comes from two of my very first pins. I just fell in love with these little skeleton brownies fromWants and Wishes.

They were part of a very clever halloween party display.  The other pin was every popular "sharpie on a coffee cup".  We've seen it a million times, but the original photo came from the Brookish Etsy shop.  

Their shop is lovely and you should definitely check it out.  Anyway...those two ideas have been stashed in my "to do someday" file and when I saw orange mugs at the dollar store last week they sprang to the "to do NOW" file.

What you need:
Your favorite brownie mix prepared in a 9x9 pan so they are thicker
White chocolate covered pretzels
Wilton 4" lollipop sticks
Wilton edible ink pen in black
Wilton treat bags
2 1/2" round cookie cutter

Orange mugs
Sharpie OIL BASED pen in black
Acrylic Sealant spray
UPDATE: I tried a second set of mugs with a Deco Art Glass paint marker.  I was MUCH happier with the results; no flaking, and I didn't have to use the acrylic sealant.

Make your brownies and use the round cutter to cut your shapes.  Why round?  It fits into the mug better.  Yes, this creates a lot of waste...if you call having all the crunchy edges left to eat for yourself waste.

Insert the lollipop stick into your brownie towards the back.  
Stack your pretzels on the stick; if you are using the 4" lolli stick it will take 7 pretzels.

With the edible pen draw an appropriately skeletal face on a marshmallow.

Please note: Make sure you use a light touch, or let your marshmallows get a little stale.  I found that the pen wanted to rip up the marshmallow.  

Insert the marshmallow onto the stick making sure you don't poke it through the top.  Now how cute is this?  

Place your creation into a treat bag.  Want to know a trick so you don't mess up your treat bags?  Next time you pick up a large drink from your favorite convenience store get the plastic cup and save it; cut off the bottom and voila!  You have created a wide mouth funnel for yourself.  Insert it in the treat bag and then slip your Boney Brownie in without getting any smear marks on the bag.  This also works great for adding sauces into vacuum freezer bags.

Now onto the mugs.  For every post I've seen about using a sharpie on a coffee mug I have seen a post that says it doesn't work.  The Cabin Connection blog took the time to experiment with the different methods to see which worked best.  Turns out it is using an oil based Sharpie pen, baking it and then coating it with acrylic sealant spray.  I was a little nervous about the sealant, so I taped off the top of the mug where your mouth would be so that would remain sealant free.

Take a moment to draw your design on a piece of paper to use as a reference.  While you can easily remove any mistakes with acetone before you bake, it's still a messy job.

I found it easiest to draw the outline and then fill in.  Please note: be VERY careful with your mug until you have sprayed on the sealant and allowed it to dry.  The paint flaked off very easily - even after baking.  

Your mugs are done and ready to hand out as treats!  If I had more time I would have added a card with: 
No "bones" about it, knowing you is a treat (let the bad halloween puns begin!)!