Featured Maker: Jill Maldonado

Featured Maker interview with Jill Maldonado Today we are excited to talk to Jill Maldonado of Material Rebellion! Jill specializes in using reclaimed textiles to make bags, pouches, journals, blanket fort kits and more all with the goal of encouraging kids to discover the power of their own creativity. She is also passionate about fighting the problem of textile waste in the fashion industry and has built a sustainable product line and business using all reclaimed textiles. We are so excited to learn more about her creative path and how she has grown her own creative business.

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What is your background?

I grew up on an island in the lakes region of Maine. After going to, then dropping out of college, I moved all over the country studying dance and choreography. Inspired by the moments contained within the dance, I picked up photography. That led to an interest in film, so I went back to school and got my BFA from NYU (and also met my husband). After graduating, I jumped into web development because there were practical matters to attend to and it was the beginning of the dot.com boom, so it was easy to enter the tech world and build a career there.

Most of my creative impulses were set aside until many years later when my children attended a Waldorf school. With an emphasis on educating children through their “head, heart and hands” the school had a wonderful handwork program. In each grade, the children mastered a new way of creating with their hands – from finger knitting in kindergarten to stained glass in their senior year. It was my great joy to help teach first graders how to knit (I learned right along side the kids since it was new to me.) Teaching and learning with the kids reawakened my creativity. That’s putting it mildly…it’s more like my creativity woke up like a hungry bear that had been in hibernation. It needed to be fed! Around the same time, someone gifted me with a used sewing machine. After spending three days (and many hours on YouTube) learning how to thread the machine, I taught myself how to sew. It didn’t take long before my creative drive outstripped my budget for fabric and I turned to my children’s outgrown clothes as a source of material for my projects. From there, I spent several years refining my techniques for repurposing materials from clothing.

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What do you make and sell?

I make thoughtful playthings that encourage kids to discover the power of their own creativity. My favorites are rainbow pencil rolls, blanket forts and covered journals.

What made you decide to take the leap and start your own creative business?

I was unhappy with my job and giving a great deal of thought to making a change when I met an amazing artist (she later became a good friend) who inspired me to get serious about my creative work. I really wanted to be a living example to my children of how we can forge our own destinies if we have the courage to step away from the path of least resistance.

How did you get started and when did you launch your business?

When the stars aligned in such a way that I was able to leave my job in January of 2013, I got serious about creating a product line. As I got deeper into that process and began developing production techniques, it became obvious that my old hand-me-down sewing machine wasn’t going to be able to keep up. I was hesitant to spend money on a new machine since I wasn’t entirely sure this was going to be a viable business. My dear, sweet, supportive husband secretly organized dozens of friends and family members to chip in and purchase me a new sewing machine for my birthday. It was an incredibly poignant moment for me…the show of support, the care and effort involved…it encouraged me even more so to make a go of it.

My first workspace was my dining room table. It wasn’t long before I moved downstairs and took over our basement. Three years later, with a name change and rebranding along the way, I have just moved into my own studio space. It’s a big step, but the business needs room to grow. Once again, my family is right there with me in making this important move. The support of my family has been a consistent theme in the growth of my business. They are always cheering me on from the sidelines and step in to provide important feedback every time I come to a cross roads about what I should do next.

Do you have any philosophies or ideals you try to represent with your work?

Yes! There are two philosophies that form the WHY of what I do. One relates to the materials I use and the other to the products I design.

I initially started using reclaimed textiles to serve my own need for inexpensive materials, but the more I learned about the textile waste crisis, the more committed I became to being part of the solution. The environmental impact of the fashion industry is immense. For example, it requires 2,900 gallons of water to produce one pair of jeans. That same pair of jeans, at the other end of its lifecycle, will produce as many as 3 pounds of CO2 as it breaks down in a landfill.

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I am very fortunate to work in partnership with Goodwill Industries. They sort, bag and deliver t-shirts and jeans for me to use as my raw materials. The price that I pay per pound supports the Goodwill job training program and I use almost a thousand pounds of materials a year that aren’t fit for Goodwill retail outlets.

The philosophy that drives my designs is the value of open-ended play for children. I love creating things that inspire the imagination and encourage creativity. When I create new designs, I’m thinking about making something beautiful, durable and flexible in its use. I want everything I make to open a world of possibility for the child (or adult!) receiving it.

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Where do you look for inspiration?

My inspiration is drawn from the two philosophical elements that drive my business. First, I find inspiration in the materials I use. Denim is a wonderful fabric to work with. I’m always awed by the variety of washes, the different textures and the way each pair of jeans wears differently. I also love playing with all the bright colors and soft knits of the t-shirts.

I am also inspired by my experience with Waldorf education. Sometimes we forget that the most powerful element in a child’s play is their own creative force. I want everything I make to be an instrument of the child’s creativity rather than supplant their creativity.

Waterfront view from Jill's studio.

Waterfront view from Jill’s studio.

What does your workspace/studio look like?

After three years of working in my 120 year old, unfinished, windowless basement, I’m so excited to finally be in my own space! My new studio occupies a very unique place on Main Street in Great Barrington, MA and opens out onto a nature trail alongside the Housatonic River. It was important to be close to home, since I make it a priority to be available for my kids, and my view of the river refreshes my senses every day. I can’t wait to grow into this new space and do things I never could have done before, like teach workshops!

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What are some of your favorite tools or techniques?

I absolutely LOVE my Accuquilt Studio Fabric Cutter. It’s essentially a die cut machine. I have some of their “off the rack” dies and have had some custom made for my designs. The cutter allows me to cut pattern pieces quickly, accurately and efficiently, plus it saves my wrist from the repetitive strain of cutting everything by hand. My OTHER favorite tool is a power rotary cutter that my husband gave me. It’s not something I would have thought I needed, or spent the money on myself, but it truth, it makes quick business of breaking down a pair of jeans into usable pieces.

Is your business your full time job? Or do you have a day job?

Yes and yes. My business is my full time job AND I have a day job. In order to grow my business, most of my profits get rolled right back into things like equipment, show fees and marketing, so I have a part time job at the Berkshire Market Co-Op. I chose to work there because in many ways, it’s a center of the community and aligns with my values of supporting local producers. I truly enjoy my co-workers and find that it balances the long hours of quiet that go into my creative work.

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What does a day in the life of Jill Maldonado look like?

I get up super early in the morning. It’s a great time to get a couple hours of “computer work” done – checking orders, emails, web traffic and social media stats or planning out what I’m working on in the studio that day. After my husband and kids head out, I take the dogs over to my studio (we have three rescued Pomeranians) and get busy making. At 2:30, it’s time to walk the dogs and meet the kids when they get home from school. If no one needs homework help, I have another couple of hours to get administrative tasks done (more computer work) and make a plan for the next day before I start dinner.

Visit Jill’s website, Material Rebellion, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Thank you so much Jill for sharing your story with us! Do you want to be our next Featured Maker? Visit our Contribute Page for more info!

FEATURED MAKER: Kristy Jane

Please welcome our newest Featured Maker: Kristy Jane! Kirsty is a freelance graphic designer and jewelry maker from Byron, New York. She fell in love with sea glass while living in South Florida where she learned metal smithing, pottery and began making jewelry. We are so excited to learn more about Kristy’s life and work today and we hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as we have!

Kristy-Jane

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What is your background?

I am a small town girl at heart. I grew up in Byron, NY (pop. 2,500) which sits just south of beautiful Lake Ontario. I am also a creative at heart. As a kid, my favorite thing was putting pencil (and crayons) to paper. This love of creating stuck with me through college where I studied graphic design. Fast forward 22 years of jobs, loves, and life lessons. Being freshly divorced, it was time to spread my wings and head to South Florida (West Palm Beach) where a grade school girlfriend lived at the time.

How did you get started and when did you launch your business?

Well it didn’t take long to completely fall in love with the sand and the sea and the inspiration it offered (not to mention great soul-searching). I began sea glass hunting as a daily hobby (one that I am still addicted to) and my collection grew so much that I knew I had to create something with it.

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What made you decide to take the leap and start your own creative business?

Working as a freelance graphic designer has always offered me the freedom to create and dream up new ideas. As fellow creatives know, this can work against us at times! I decided to take some metalsmithing and pottery classes at the local art center. I was just kind of searching and wanted to broaden my skill set. I really wanted to create something unique and sea-inspired and I knew I wanted it to be jewelry. I soon made my little garden shed into a workshop where I spent countless hours being creative (and drilling sea glass). I bought my own kiln after the pottery class I had taken and that’s when I discovered my design. You see, I had so much sea glass that wasn’t jewelry grade and I wanted to do something with it. With the help of my teachers at the art center, I came up with my kiln-fired sea glass on porcelain line (Coastal Chic Collection). This was it…I had my idea and so I launched Kristy Jane in 2012. I built my website and created business cards, etc. and entered some retail art shows (some successful and others not so much). I was getting lots of positive feedback from people about my jewelry but they just weren’t willing to pay for it. I knew my ideal client was out there but I just wasn’t in front of them. That’s when I dove into the wholesale world and did my first show in Boston.

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Do you have any philosophies or ideals you try to represent with your work?

We all love to go on vacation. We daydream about being at our happy place. My customers will wear a piece of my jewelry and when they look at it, they’ll be reminded of that place. Sometimes a tiny soothing thought like that can help us through our every-ordinary-day.

What’s your process for coming up with ideas for new products?

Oh my gosh, I never know when or where I’ll be when a new idea pops into my head. Sometimes it’s even in my sleep! I will wake up with a new design idea in my head so I jump up and sketch it out on paper so I don’t forget it. I also absolutely love perusing [Robert Redford’s] Sundance catalog for inspiration.

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Where do you look for inspiration?

I moved back to Western New York to be close to family (life by the ocean couldn’t hide my home sickness) in 2014. I looked to the beautiful shores of Lake Ontario to remind me of my love for the sea. The first day back I went edge walking near my parents cottage in Fair Haven (Little Sodus Bay). Much to my surprise, I found the most perfectly worn heart shaped piece of beach glass! I think it was a sign…I found it because I was back where I’m supposed to be. Being happy and surrounded by the ones you love brings clarity in all other aspects of life.

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What does your workspace/studio look like?

I must say, my little garden shed turned jewelry workshop in South Florida was my favorite. Lots of tropical inspiration all around me. Now it’s in the basement but I have really cool antique furniture that I use for my bench and storage cabinets. When I go there…time just goes by and before I know it hours have gone by. I also like to set the mood with music and maybe a glass or two of wine. Life is good.

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What are some of your favorite tools or techniques?

After taking both the metalsmithing and pottery classes, I bought my own kiln so I could build inventory. I absolutely love to open the lid of the kiln to see all the beautiful pendants of which no two are alike. The way the glass flows with the glaze and crackles and creates little miniature seascapes….I feel like a little kid on Christmas morning! I want to play with glass slumping and metal clay next. The creativity never ends!

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Is your business your full time job? Or do you have a day job?

I have been a graphic designer at some level since I graduated college in 1992. Since about 2007, I have had an in-home design studio and work with a handful of great clients. It has given me the freedom to explore the jewelry world, which I am grateful for.

What does a day in the life of Kristy Jane look like?

I split my days up between my freelance graphic design and my jewelry business. When I get tired of looking at the computer screen, or am waiting on client approval, I can change gears and go edge walking to collect more beach glass or go to my workshop (now in the basement) and create beautiful things, or one of the other thousands of things to do to market both of my businesses! It’s a definite labor of love and I couldn’t be happier.

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Visit Kristy’s website and follow her on Facebook!

Thank you so much Kristy for sharing your story with us! Do you want to be our next Featured Maker? Visit our Contribute Page for more info!

DIY: Fairy In A Jar (with a free printable fairy!)

I have been fascinated by the whimsical mystery of the fairy folk since I was a little girl. I remember looking for them while playing outside and making up tiny little fairy houses using sticks, leaves and flowers I would collect in my own backyard. This project is a fun activity to do with your kids. Download the free printable fairy art and let them color their fairy. Then help them create a little terrarium in a jar for the fairy to be displayed in!

DIY: Fairy In A Jar (with a free printable fairy)

Supplies Needed

Free printable fairy
• White card stock
• Coloring supplies (watercolors, markers, colored pencils, etc.)
• Glass jar
• Small wood slice (small enough to fit inside the lid of the jar)
• Faux flowers
• Tiny mushrooms
• Moss

Additional tools:
• Scissors
• Glue stick
• Kraft glue
• Hot glue gun

DIY: Fairy In A Jar (with a free printable fairy)

Download the free printable fairy art and print onto white card stock. You’ll notice that there are two different sizes. Choose one to fit your jar (you can also shrink the art down smaller if necessary). Color in the fairy (front and back) with your favorite coloring supplies.

DIY: Fairy In A Jar (with a free printable fairy)

Once you’ve finished coloring, carefully cut out both fairies with scissors and use a glue stick to glue them back-to-back. Choose a faux flower and cut off a few petals into the shape of a skirt. Glue a petal skirt onto the fairy using kraft glue (both front and back sides).

DIY: Fairy In A Jar (with a free printable fairy)

Next plug in your hot glue gun. Once warm, squeeze some hot glue onto the center of the wood slice and place the fairy’s feet into the hot glue. Hold in place until the glue is dry and she can stand up on her own. Add a few tiny mushrooms around her feet.

DIY: Fairy In A Jar (with a free printable fairy)

Place the mounted fairy into the lid of the jar. Add some moss around the edges then place the jar over the fairy and tighten the lid. Optional: hot glue some ribbon around the base of the lid.

DIY: Fairy In A Jar (with a free printable fairy)

If you want her to be secure inside the jar you can hot glue the wood slice base to the inside of the lid. I personally liked being able to take her out and let her explore my garden before returning back to jar for display.

DIY: Fairy In A Jar (with a free printable fairy)
DIY: Fairy In A Jar (with a free printable fairy)

RECIPE: Pansy Shortbread Cookies

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Do you believe in magic? Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved reading stories of the fairy folk living in an enchanted forest, playing with the animals, and sipping tea from rosebud tea cups. If I were ever invited to join them, I’d bring these Pansy Shortbread Cookies to share.

Inspired by the wonders of nature and the magic that can be found within it, I decided to make a batch of cookies fit for fairyland. This recipe is simple to make and so pretty! Make it your own (or please the fairies in your own backyard) by changing up the ingredients to suite your favorite flavors. I chose to make a lavender lemon shortbread cookie using lavender-infused sugar and dried lavender harvested from my garden. You could also try these Lemon Thyme Shortbread Cookies, these Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies or these Cardamom Orange Zest Shortbread Cookies.

flower-cookies-2Some Tips On Choosing Edible Flowers:

I used a few varieties of pansies that I had growing in my garden but you can experiment with other edible flowers too. Some things to keep in mind…

  • Choose flowers that will fit the shape of the cookie.
  • Only use edible flowers that you can identify correctly
  • Only use edible flowers that are grown organically (pesticide-free).
  • Edible flower suggestions: Chamomile, Johnny-Jump-Ups, Borage, Lavender, Marigolds, Pansies, Rose Petals, Violas, Violets.

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Pansy Shortbread Cookies
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 36 Cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup lavender infused sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons dried lavender
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Fresh, organic pansies
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • Fine sugar (for finishing)
Instructions
  1. Cream the butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Stir in the flour, sugar and salt; beat on low speed for 1 minute. Crush the dried lavender using a mortar and pestle. Then add the vanilla, lavender and lemon zest to the mixer, beating until just incorporated.
  2. Let the dough chill in the refrigerator for approx. 1 hour. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease baking sheet and set aside.
  3. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to ¼" thickness. Cut out with round or scalloped cookie cutters and place 1" apart onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 14-18 minutes, until the cookies begin to turn light golden around the edges and on the bottom. Remove from oven and transfer to wire racks to cool.
  4. Once the cookies are all baked and cooled its time to decorate with flowers! Use a pastry brush to brush a cookie with egg white and place a pansy on top. Then brush the pansy all over with egg white and sprinkle with fine sugar.
  5. Repeat with remaining cookies and return them to the baking sheet. Bake in the oven for another 5 minutes, then transfer to the wire racks to cool.

 
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Serve these at your next tea party or package them up as favors at your next fairytale gathering! And don’t forget to leave a few out in your garden for the fairies to enjoy 🙂
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May DIY Craft Challenge: Once Upon A Fairytale

Thank you to everyone who participated in last month’s DIY Craft Challenge! We just love seeing the awesome things you all make and feel so inspired by the ‘garden’ themed submissions we received. Be sure to check out our roundup post of what everyone made here!

Once Upon A Fairytale…

This month we are diving into a world of magic and make believe! ‘Fairytales’ is the theme for May and we invite you to find inspiration in your favorite storybook. So channel your inner child (and invite the kids in your life to join in) and enter a world of wonder this month. Have tea with the fairies in your backyard, host your own fairytale theme puppet show, or bake a cake that’s fit for a Queen! Wherever this month’s theme takes you, we hope you’ll share your own handmade magic with us!
1605_diychallenge_logo_wideMay DIY Craft Challenge: Once Upon A Fairytale

Inspiration Sources:

1. Emerald City Fairy House by Florence Griswold Museum
2. Finger Puppets by Lia Griffith
3. Storybook Clock by Amanda Patterson
4. Fairy Tea Set by Twig & Toadstool
5. Felt Mushrooms by Lil Fish Studios
6. Clothes Peg Fairies by The Imagination Tree
7. Fairytale Storytelling Game by Let’s Play Music
8. Paper Plate Dragons by Pink Stripey Socks
9. DIY Woodland Acorn Necklace by Flamingo Toes
10. Doily Hot Air Balloons by Joann’s
11. Sandcastle Place Cards by Oh Happy Day!

HOW TO ENTER

Click here for details on how to enter your project to the DIY Challenge! Don’t forget to share your projects with everyone on Instagram using #diycraftchallenge.

The challenge officially begins today, May 1st and ends on May 29th, 2016. We will post a roundup of everyone’s projects on May 31st. Have fun and happy crafting!

Need more inspiration?

Take a look out our Pinterest board for more stitch inspired project ideas.

DIY: Plantable Felt Vegetable Garden (Part 2)

DIY: Plantable Felt Vegetable Garden tutorial (Part 2)
Stitching up felt veggies has become my newest obsession. They’re easy to make, and so much fun to watch kids play with! Yesterday, I shared PART 1 of this tutorial where we made a garden planter box, tomatoes, strawberries and faux plants for them to ‘grow’ on. Today we’ll be making… you guessed it! More veggies for our play garden!

DIY: Plantable Felt Vegetable Garden tutorial (Part 2)

Materials:

• Felt (pinks, purples, greens, and oranges)
• Needle and thread (in coordinating colors)
• Pins and fabric scissors
• Fiberfill
• Pipe cleaners
• Velcro
• Faux greenery (for the ‘plants’)
Free printable pattern

Helpful Links

PART 1 (Tutorials for the planter box, tomatoes, and strawberries)
Felt Cabbage tutorial by Fairfax
Felt Mushroom tutorial by Fairyfox

A special note: There is no right or wrong way to sew any of the felt veggies in this tutorial! You can use a sewing machine, or hand-stitch them all (like I did). My mom and I discovered different ways to make these as we went along and all methods are correct! So if you find your own way, that’s great! And if your tomato turns out a little wonky, even better! Since discovering a ‘real’ odd shape veggie growing in your garden is one of the many pleasures of growing anything.

Step One: Beets!

DIY: Plantable Felt Vegetable Garden tutorial (Part 2)

Print out the pattern provided and cut out your pieces from pink and dark green felt. Thread your needle with pink thread and tie a knot at the end.

DIY: Plantable Felt Vegetable Garden tutorial (Part 2)

Slightly overlap each edge with the one adjacent and whip stitch together (as shown below in photo 1). Repeat on the other three edges until the beet is sewn all the way around (photo 2). Next, use a straight stitch to sew around the outside of the beet (photo 3). Stuff with fiberfill and cinch the opening closed and set aside (we will cinch closed completely, tie a knot and tie off later) (photo 4).

Now to sew the beet’s stalk and leaves! Cut a length of pipe cleaner and thread a needle with green thread (photo 6). Place the pipe cleaner on top of the green stem and then place a pink stalk on top of the pipe cleaner. Holding all three pieces together, whip stitch around the entire pink stock with the pipe cleaner enclosed inside. Trim any excess pipe cleaner from the bottom (photo 7). Repeat this process for the second leaf/stalk.

Now all we have to do is connect the stalk/leaves to the beet. Insert the stalks into the center of the beet and cinch closed (around the stalks). Make a few stitches back and forth and around the stalks to secure the beet and the stalks tightly together (photo 8). Tie off and you’re done!

DIY: Plantable Felt Vegetable Garden tutorial (Part 2)

DIY: Plantable Felt Vegetable Garden tutorial (Part 2)

Step Two: Carrots!

DIY: Plantable Felt Vegetable Garden tutorial (Part 2)

Cut out the pieces using the pattern provided from orange and light green felt. Thread your needle with orange thread and tie a knot at the end (see photo 1 below). Poke your needle into the tip of the orange triangle and pull through (photo 2). Turn the edges together, with them slightly overlapped, whipstitch all the way up to create the shape of a carrot (photo 3). Stuff the carrot with fiberfill (photo 4) and straight stitch around the top. Insert the leaves and cinch the carrot closed. Make a few small stitches around the base of the leaves to secure together and tie off.

DIY: Plantable Felt Vegetable Garden tutorial (Part 2)

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Step Three: Eggplants!

DIY: Plantable Felt Vegetable Garden tutorial (Part 2)
Cut out the pieces using the pattern provided, thread your needle with dark color thread and tie a knot at the end (photo 1). Slightly overlap the edges of two purple felt pieces and whip stitch together up one side. Then add the third piece and whipstitch that on so that all three pieces are now connected (photo 2). Next bring the edges together and sew up the last side to create an eggplant shape (photo 3). Stuff with fiberfill, stitch closed and tie off (photo 4).

DIY: Plantable Felt Vegetable Garden tutorial (Part 2)

Finally, add the leaf. Thread your needle with green thread and backstitch down the center of each ‘petal’ of the leaf to secure onto the eggplant (photo 5). Cut a small piece of velcro (the soft ‘loop’ side) and stitch it anywhere near the top of the leaf. Repeat to make as many eggplants as you like! (I made three to grow on one plant).

Step Four: Make the Plant!

Just like with the strawberries and tomatoes, I used faux greenery to make a plant for the eggplants to ‘grow’ from. Simply cut off a plant size sprig and stitch little pieces of Velcro (using the ‘hook’ or sticky side) onto the leaves and/or stems. Once you’ve finished adding the Velcro, you are ready to plant your eggplants!
DIY: Plantable Felt Vegetable Garden tutorial (Part 2)

DIY: Plantable Felt Vegetable Garden tutorial (Part 2)

DIY: Plantable Felt Vegetable Garden tutorial (Part 2)

DIY: Plantable Felt Vegetable Garden (Part 1)

Plant the seeds of joyful gardening and teach your child how to tend to their very own felt vegetable garden! This is a great project that can be turned into the ultimate garden playtime complete with a garden planter box, plants, and ‘pickable’ fruits and veggies. Also, don’t forget the play watering can!

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My twin nieces will be two years old this June and I plan on gifting them their own felt garden to play with. I first had the idea last winter and had originally planned to make this as a Christmas gift but with the craziness of the holiday season, I wasn’t able to start working on it until Christmas day! Since then, my mom and I have spent many evenings stitching up these felt veggies. Not only are they simple to make and impossible to ‘mess up’ (since imperfections in homegrown veggies is part of the magic of gardening), these felt veggies are also addicting! Once you stitch up a strawberry, you’ll be hooked by its utter cuteness and want to make more!

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Materials:

• Felt (reds and greens)
• Needle and thread (in coordinating colors)
• Pins and fabric scissors
• Fiberfill
• Embroidery floss (green and white)
• Velcro (loop and hook)
• Brown felt (for the ‘dirt’)
• Wooden crate
• Faux greenery (for the ‘plants’)
Free printable pattern

Step One: Make the planter box

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You’ll need a wooden crate, brown felt (or cotton fabric), and fiberfill. I used a sewing machine to sew the pretend dirt but you could also hand-stitch them together. To create the rows of ‘dirt’, you’ll basically be making four mini bolsters that fit snuggly into the crate.

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Start by cutting two 4 ½” circles (see pattern) and one rectangle 15 1/8” x 11 ¾” in size. Fold the rectangle in half (hamburger style) and sew along the edge leaving approx. 1/2” seem allowance to create a sleeve. Then pin one felt circle to the sleeve with the wrong sides facing out as shown in the photo 2.

Sew all the way around the edge of the circle. Then repeat on the other end, making sure to leave a 2” opening so you can turn the whole thing right side out (see photo 3). Turn right side out and stuff with fiberfill (photo 4). Then hand-stitch the opening closed. Repeat this process to make three more mini bolsters (or however many will fit in your crate).

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A special note: There is no right or wrong way to sew any of the felt veggies in this tutorial! You can use a sewing machine, or hand-stitch them all (like I did). My mom and I discovered different ways to make these as we went along and all methods are correct! So if you find your own way, that’s great! And if your tomato turns out a little wonky, even better! Since discovering a ‘real’ odd shape veggie growing in your garden is one of the many pleasures of growing anything.

Step Two: Tomatoes!

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Print out the pattern provided and cut out your pieces from red and green felt. Thread your needle with red (or pink) thread, and tie a knot at the end (photo 1). Slightly overlap two red pieces and whip stitch them together as shown in photo 2. Then repeat with the other two red pieces. Next, whip stitch the two halves together, leaving a small opening to stuff with fiberfill. Then stitch the opening closed and tie off your thread (photo 3).

tomato-tutorial

Thread a length of green embroidery floss (or green thread works too) and back stitch the leaf to the top of the tomato as shown in photo 4.

Finish up the tomato by adding a stem with a Velcro leaf. Start by threading your needle using green thread and tie a knot at the end (photo 5). Then roll the square end of the stem piece together and stitch closed as shown in photos 6 and 7. Cut a small piece of Velcro (the soft/fuzzy ‘loop’ side) and stitch into the inside of the leaf. You can also trim the length of the stem to your desired length (photo 8).

Lastly, stitch the stem onto the tomato and tie off your thread (photo 9). And that’s it! You’ve made your first tomato! Repeat to make as many as you like (I made three to hang on a single plant).

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Step Three: Strawberries!

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Cut out your pieces using the pattern provided. Then thread your needle with red thread and tie a knot at one end (photo 1). Whip stitch the two red pieces together along the rounded edge only (just like you did with the tomatoes). Then straight stitch around the opening, stuff with fiberfill and pull the threads to cinch the opening closed (photo 2). Tie securely with a knot and tie off.

Next add ‘seeds’ to the strawberry using some white embroidery floss. Start by inserting your threaded needle into the top of the strawberry (the knot will soon be covered up by the top leaf) and make small straight stitches all around the berry (photo 3). When finished, poke the needle back up through the top and tie off. Then, thread your needle with green embroidery floss and sew the leaf onto the top of the berry (making sure to cover the white knots) (photo 4).

strawberry-tutorial

Finally stitch a small piece of Velcro (fuzzy ‘loop’ side) onto the top of the strawberry. And you’re done! Repeat to make as many strawberries as you like! I made 4 berries per plant.

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Step Four: Make the plants!

I used faux greenery to make plants for the tomatoes and strawberries to ‘grow’ from. Simply cut off a plant size sprig and stitch little pieces of Velcro (using the ‘hook’ or sticky side) onto the leaves and/or stems. Once you’ve finished adding the Velcro, you are ready to plant your berries and tomatoes!

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Additional Links:

Here are links to two great tutorials by Fairy Fox that I used to make both the felt cabbages and mushrooms.

Cabbage tutorial
Felt Mushroom tutorial

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Be sure to stay tuned tomorrow for PART 2 of this tutorial where we’ll be making carrots, beets and even eggplants!

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FEATURED MAKER: Stephanie Rose + “Garden Made” Book Giveaway!

Please welcome our newest Featured Maker: Stephanie Rose! Stephanie is a Master Gardener, author and creative mastermind behind her blog, Garden Therapy. Stephanie and I started working together in the blogging world almost five years ago and I am so excited to learn more about her life and work today. She has also graciously offered us a signed copy of her new book, Garden Made to give away to one lucky winner! See details on how to enter at the end of this post…

stephanie-gardentherapy-a5-1600x0Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What is your background?

I’m a Master Gardener, author and the creator of the crafty-gardening blog, Garden Therapy. I make garden projects in my small, urban Vancouver (Canada) garden to show the world that everyone can get a little garden therapy, no matter what your knowledge, skill, ability, or garden size!

What do you make and sell?

I mostly make crafty garden projects as I love to be out in the garden all year long. I also make all my own natural beauty products and soaps, plenty of handmade gifts, and a bunch of healthy recipes from the garden. I don’t sell the products I make, but instead share the DIY instructions so that everyone can learn to make them too. I have over 700 projects on my blog, Garden Therapy that you can browse through, as well as a print book, Garden Made: A Year of Seasonal Projects to Beautify Your Garden and Your Life, and three eBooks:

What made you decide to take the leap and start your own creative business?

In 2006 I had to stop working at my corporate job due to sudden illness. I was hit hard and suffered from crippling pain for many years. After a few years of being confined to bed, I was able to slowly start moving. I used gardening as a way to heal my body and strengthen my mind. I learned to use gardening, photography, and writing as a way to add joy to each and every day.

How did you get started and when did you launch your business?

I began blogging as a way to reach out to others and ease the isolation. I met plenty of lovely people like me and began to share not just what I was making, but HOW I was making it. When I started to feel like I could begin working again, I decided not to go back to the corporate world, but give blogging and writing a shot as a full-time gig. I’m happy to say that it has worked out better than I had hoped! I’m able to work from home, spend time with my family, and do what I love for a living.

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Do you have any philosophies or ideals you try to represent with your work?

I’d like the projects I make to inspire others to try making themselves. While I do really love all the beautiful handmade creations around my home and garden, I love it more when I see that someone has made it for their own home or garden. I know that they are spending their time feeding their creativity and enjoying the garden.

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What’s your process for coming up with ideas for new products?

Generally I have a long list of things I want to make so I gather the materials in my studio and get to them when the time is right. Sometimes that is days, other times it can be years. I may find a birdcage and keep it for 2-3 years before one day turning it into a succulent planter. Or I could see a candle planter at the garden center and rush home to make one that day!

Where do you look for inspiration?

Because I craft from the garden, I look for inspiration on garden tours, garden centers, catalogs, and in parks. I collect materials wherever I go and keep them in my studio until they become something.

What does your workspace/studio look like?

I have a garden full of creative projects and a studio space to store all of my stuff. One day the studio will be set up for more than just storage but until then you can find me out here in my play garden.

Hopscotch Stepping Stones featured in Stephanie's Play Garden

Hopscotch Stepping Stones featured in Stephanie’s Play Garden

What are some of your favorite tools or techniques?

I love to work with outdoor succulents which are colorful and ornamental. I also like to work with lighting in the garden. I’ve made citronella candles out of tin cans, solar lanterns from mason jars, and a little solar chandelier out of a hanging basket.

Tell us about a challenge you’ve overcome in your business? Or something you tried but didn’t work the way you planned?

A few years back I started an Etsy shop to sell some of the things I made and quickly learned that it wasn’t for me. I didn’t like packaging, shipping, and all the non-creative work involved. I enjoyed making the crafts and writing about them so I wrote a number of books to sell instead.

What does a day in the life of Stephanie look like?

About ¼ of my time is gardening & creating, ½ is writing and editing, and ¼ marketing and website housekeeping. I try to spend a little time outdoors or gardening each day to ensure that I continue my recovery and stay healthy.

Visit Stephanie’s blog, Garden Therapy and check out her YouTube Channel!

Thank you so much Stephanie for sharing your story with us! Do you want to be our next Featured Maker? Visit our Contribute Page for more info!


Enter to Win A signed copy of Stephanie’s book!

We are so excited to be giving away a signed copy of Stephanie’s new book, Garden Made: A Year of Seasonal Projects to Beautify Your Garden & Your Life. The giveaway starts today, April 6th and will end on Wednesday, April 13th. We’ll announce the lucky winner on Thursday, April 14th. Just click on the link below to enter. Good luck everyone!

Stephanie's book, Garden Made

Stephanie’s book, Garden Made

CLICK HERE TO ENTER TO WIN!

The April DIY Craft Challenge Is “In The Garden”

Thank you to everyone who participated in last month’s DIY Craft Challenge! We just love seeing the awesome things you all make and feel so inspired by the ‘bird’ themed submissions we received. Be sure to check out our roundup post of what everyone made here!

Play In The Dirt

Spring is here, the sun is shining, and we’re taking inspiration from our own backyards this month! The theme for April is “In The Garden” so we invite you all to go outside, find inspiration in your surroundings and make something inspired by the seeds you plant, the flowers you pot, and the creativity you grow.

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April DIY Craft Challenge at Adventures-in-making.com

Inspiration Sources

1. Incremental Mini-Garden by No Linde
2. DIY Stamped Spoon Plant Markers by Intimate Weddings
3. Hopscotch Garden Stepping Stones by Garden Therapy
4. Springtime Tic-Tac-Toe by Chicken Scratch NY
5. Ombre Herb Garden Markers by Humble Beads Jewelry
6. DIY Modern Neon Concrete Block Planter by Modernly Wed
7. Illustration by Sanna Mander
8. Chalkboard Clay Pot Herb Garden by The Robin’s Nest
9. Herb Embroidery by Onoe Megumi
10. Moss Hearts by Alissa Burke
11. Pansy Shortbread Cookies by The Cafe Sucre Farine
12. DIY River Rock Garden Markers by West Valley Moms Blog

HOW TO ENTER

Click here for details on how to enter your project to the DIY Challenge! Don’t forget to share your projects with everyone on Instagram using #diycraftchallenge.

The challenge officially begins today, April 1st and ends on April 27th, 2016. We will post a roundup of everyone’s projects on April 30th. Have fun and happy crafting!

Need more inspiration?

Take a look out our Pinterest board for more stitch inspired project ideas.

Have a great weekend! We’ll be back on Monday with our own “Garden” themed projects to share 🙂

DIY: Spring Chicken Plushies

DIY: Spring Chicken Plushie With spring beginning to bloom, my friends’ chickens are starting to lay more eggs. I love visiting them and watching the chickens peck and strut their way around the yard. Feeling a little ‘chicken’ inspired and wanting to work on a new sewing project, I decided to make up a few Spring Chicken Plushies to give as gifts to my friends who have and love their chickens! (I also secretly hope they will trade me a cute plushie for a fresh egg!)

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This is a fairly straightforward tutorial that can be done using a sewing machine or sewn completely by hand. I love coming up with ways to use up fabric scraps and this project is perfect for that since the all the pieces are quite small.

Materials:

  • Cotton fabric (quilter’s fabric works great)
  • Red and yellow felt (use scraps if you have them on hand)
  • Sewing machine (optional)
  • Needle and thread
  • Pins
  • Sewing Scissors
  • Craft scissors
  • Embroidery floss
  • Fiberfill
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Dried lemon balm (optional)
  • Free pattern (click to download)

Download the free pattern, then print and cut out the pieces using craft scissors. Press your fabric and cut out the pattern pieces using fabric scissors. Remember not to mix up your scissors! You don’t want to dull the blade of your fabric only scissors by using them to cut paper.

Use a cotton fabric of your choice to cut out pattern pieces A + B. Then choose a coordinating cotton fabric to cut out pattern piece C. Use red felt to cut out pattern piece D and yellow felt to cut out E (as shown below).

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Once you have your pieces cut, lay the first pattern piece A (with right side facing up) onto your work surface. Place the felt pieces D + E on top as shown below. Then place pattern piece B (right side facing down) as shown and secure with a pin.

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Sew along the edge to secure the felt pieces and pattern piece B into place.

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Next place the second pattern piece A directly on top (right side facing down). Pin in place and then flip over.
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Flip up the bottom (sewn side) of piece B and pin the un-sewn side into place as shown in the photo below.

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Sew all the way around the outside leaving about a ½” opening near the top or neck of the bird. Make small cuts in the fabric (making sure not to cut through your stitches) as shown below.

DIY: Spring Chicken Plushies

Then cut a few notches where indicated on the pattern (this will prevent the fabric from puckering once we turn the fabric right side out).

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Now you’re ready to turn the fabric right side out and stuff with fiberfill. Use the end of a pencil to turn out completely and stuff.

OPTIONAL: Add with a few tablespoons of dried lemon balm then stuff the rest of the way with fiberfill for a scented sachet option.

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Use a needle and thread to whip stitch the opening closed. Set the bird body aside.

Now it’s time to sew the wings. Place two pattern piece C’s together (right sides face in). Sew around leaving a small opening. Turn right side out and whip stitch the opening closed. Repeat for the second wing.

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Thread your needle with a matching thread and stitch the wings onto the body of the bird as shown in the photo below.chicken-plushies-11

Cut a length of embroidery floss. Divide the strands into 3 plys and thread onto a needle. Poke your needle behind a wing (to hide your knot) and come up near the top where you want to start your first eye. Use a straight stitch to add a U shape eye on one side of the bird. Then poke your needle through to the other side and stitch the second eye. Hide the end of your thread by poking your needle back through the bird and coming out farther down near a seam. Cut off excess thread with scissors.

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And you’re done! Make a few to decorate your home this spring or gift them to your chicken-loving friends and family this Easter!

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Click Here for a tutorial on how to make the Felt Cacti featured in the photos above!