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!

DIY: Watercolor & Wax Paper Jewelry

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Sometimes I come up with a project that I enjoy so much that it’s hard to stop to write a post. This, my friends, is one of those.

It’s a simple combination of watercolor, melting wax, and punching shapes- but it’s oh so satisfying.

 

SUPPLIES

  • Thick paper for Watercolor
  • Watercolor paints and brushes
  • Pencil
  • Straight Edge
  • Paraffin Wax
  • Scraping Tool, like a vegetable peeler.
  • Iron, ironing board, towel or other surface to catch wiley bits of wax
  • Parchment Paper
  • Scissors
  • Large Thick Material Punches (optional but recommended) I used circle punches in 2″ diameter, 1.5″ diameter, and 1″ diameter
  • Small hole punch
  • Thin cord or ribbon
  • Jump Rings (optional)

Step One: Paint it

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Gather your paper, pencil, straight edge, paints and brushes.

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Draw several parallel lines with your pencil to create stripes of varying widths.

Begin filling in each stripe with a color in the order of the rainbow. (ROY G BIV –  Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet).

If you fill a small stripe, use a similar color next to it (Orange red and Red for instance.) It’s okay if your paint is a little irregular, or you have small white spaces.

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Now it’s time to paint the back of your pendant. Draw some non-parallel lines on a new piece of paper, and fill them in with some of the same colors you used on the other side. Leave a little white space as well. Set your paintings aside to dry.

Step Two: Wax it

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Now you will need your ironing setup, parchment paper, and wax. You might have a little wax escape during the ironing process, so it’s a good idea to have a scrap towel or cotton fabric to protect your ironing board. Remember to keep an eye on your ironing so you don’t singe anything!

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Sandwich one of your dry watercolor sheets inside a piece of parchment paper. Shred a pile of wax on top. (You can always add more wax, so this is a good time to play!)

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Turn your iron to it’s lowest setting, and gently melt the wax between the sheets of parchment paper. You will see the paper start to look wet. Continue working the liquid wax into the paper until it starts to be consistently translucent. You may want to add more wax.

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Flip your paper over, and add a pile of wax to the other side. This will be the “glue” that holds your two sides together.

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Lay the other piece of paper on top of that pile…

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shred some more wax on that, and iron again following the earlier instructions.

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Continue to add wax until the papers are translucent and consistently wet looking. When you’re happy with the look, put a little bit of weight on the stack, and let it cool for a couple of minutes.

IMG_6356_waxedpaperjewelryWhen it is still warm, but safe to touch, uncover the paper, and use your finger or a tool to smooth any puddles of wax. (Playing in wax is one of my favorite things!) Now let it cool completely (a few minutes.)

Step Three: Punch it

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I am loving these thick material punches from Fiskars. I have long abused normal paper punches, and they have a habit of breaking at the worst possible moment. These punches go through everything like butter.

IMG_6361_waxedpaperjewelryUse a punch (or scissors) to take shapes out of your waxed paper…

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until you have a nice little pile of shapes to work with. To turn solid shapes into pendants, punch small holes on one or two sides. You can run cord through these holes (or attach jump rings.)

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After you have everything cut out, polish the shapes by using your fingers to rub excess wax off the surface and edges.

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Feed thin ribbon, cord, or chain through the holes in your pendants. You can feed your cord through, wrap it several times, or tie a lark’s head knot. Anything goes! Leave enough room to slip the necklace over your head, and you’re set.

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Double sided rainbow pendants!

Now I want to wax all the paper. Someone stop me before I go too far!

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!

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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)

DIY: Patio Friendly Pile-Up Cushions filled with Styrofoam Peanuts

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The weather was nice for a few days in April, uncharacteristically, and began the countdown to the Pacific Northwest Summer. Ahhh; the handful of blissful weeks that makes you fall in love with the trees again, and wipes the memory of the last 8 gray months.

Safety Husband and I have been trying to be more mindful, and that extends to the way we interact with our home. We are who we are [not catalog people] and we want everything at our house to be conducive to the way we live. (Safety Husband is really into Ham Radio, so he would also like to make a great deal of the house conductive*, but that’s a different story.) We have several outdoor areas that would make great external living spaces, but we haven’t done a great job of outfitting them for the task.

All this to explain why I decided I needed to make a giant pile of outdoor cushions that I could lay upon like the Princess and the Pea. I wanted them to be cheap, washable, refurbishable, and also work with our inside decor. Fabric and wood don’t do well outside over the Seattle winter, and I can’t store things in out non-existent storage space. So I put together a handful of pillow forms from scrap material, filled with recycled styrofoam peanuts; then covered them with painted canvas covers. In one afternoon I had 7 assorted cushions, and dreams of the perfect summer.

SUPPLIES

  • Fabric scissors and optional pinking shears
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Pillow Form Fabric: approximately 24″ (2/3 yard) of 45″-wide lightweight scrap fabric per pillow
  • Pillow Cover: approximately 24″ (2/3 yard) of 52″ to 60″-wide canvas-type material per pillow
  • Styrofoam Peanuts: about a grocery sack full per pillow. Make sure that you are using styrofoam peanuts instead of the cornstarch ones that melt under water. Imagine the mess!

DECORATING SUPPLIES

  • Tulip Color Shot Fabric Color:  I used Teal, Blue, and Green.
  • Scissors
  • Tape: masking, packing, cello, washi. Whatever you want!
  • Con-Tact Paper: A great option for cutting out larger masks or covering more material.
  • Decorative punches and scissors
  • Compass, or fun shapes to trace

 

Step 1: Making the Pillow Forms

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Take your scrap pillow-form material and fold it so that the selvedged edges touch. Cut the other two sides with pinking shears so that you have an approximately 23″ square (45″x23″ unfolded.) Sew a 1/2″ seam along the two pinked edges, then do the same for about half of the remaining side.

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Fill the form about halfway full with peanuts, then sew the opening closed to seal your pillow form.

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Hire a professional to test the security of your stitching.

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Repeat until you have run out of material. (I made 7 pillows so that I could make a GIANT PILE.)

Step 2: Making the Pillow Covers

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There is dirt outside, so you want to make sure that your pillow cover can be easily removed and laundered; this also means you want to pre-wash your fabrics so there is no future shrinkage.

Cut your fabric to about 23″ wide. With the back side showing, fold the width of the fabric into a tube about 22″ wide. The overlapped pieces will make the flap for inserting and removing your pillow form.

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Stitch up the two open ends of your tube approximately 1/4″ in.

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Then turn the cover inside out using the open flaps. Make sure to press the corner all the way out with your finger or a pencil.

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Stitch around the outside edges of your pillow cover, about 3/8″ in- then you’re done!

Step 3: Decorating the Cushions to Match your Life.

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Decorating the pillows was definitely the biggest fun in this project (other than sitting in the sun on the cushions later.) If you’re a selfless person, you could share that fun with your family and friends, and let each person design a mask for their own pillow. Masking the pillow is as easy as using tape and scissors. Build shapes out of strips of tape, or cut shapes out of contact paper. (ABOVE: I used a compass to draw circles, then cut and arranged them on the front of my cover.) You could have the initials of everyone in your family, silhouettes of your pets and favorite animals… anything really.

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Once you’ve settled on a masked design, take it outside and spray it down with your fabric spray paint. (I used Tulip Color Shot Fabric Color which is washable and flexible.) Remember that spray paint doesn’t ever go on consistently, so embrace the irregularity and leave some patches lighter than others.

After you’ve got a nice coat of paint on, let your cover dry for an hour or so before pulling off the mask.

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Then let your covers air out for a few more hours.

When everything is dry (not sticky or smelly) you can put your pillow forms into your covers. Slip the form into the open flap, then push it down under the inner over-lapping flap. Press the corners of the form into the corners of the cover and shake and stomp it until everything looks nice.

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Then build the tower of pillow on which you will reign.

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Or, you know. Share with your friends.

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Wheeee! Pillows.

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*I have a feeling that SH will have something to say about this line in the post when and if he reads it, so I’m going to put a disclaimer- like all nerdy types, there is typically a method to his madness, so I am sure the most of the house will remain non-conductive, or resistive, or whatever. Just, you know, antennas. He likes antennas.

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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SHOW+TELL: Growing Garden Journal Kit

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I don’t really have a green thumb, so I’m always trying to learn more about my garden in hopes I can make it flourish. This year, in anticipation of spring planting, I am going through my notes and compiling it all in a garden journal. I made a ring-bound set of cards with a thick chipboard cover that can grow with me and with my garden!

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In addition to helpful information fields on the front and the back of each card, I left a little space for a plant doodle or collage.

IMG_5664_growinggardenjournalSince each card is decorated differently, it’s easy to sort through the book and quickly find the plant I’m looking for, plus it’s fun to illustrate the plants. (It would be a great project with the kiddos.)

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I decorated the book cover with scraps from my seed packets and collage materials. (Waste not, want not!)

I’m excited to add more layers and more pages as I go along, and I thought I’d make up a few kits in case anyone wants to follow along with their own gardening adventures.

You can find a kit on the Adventures-in-Making etsy shop – here
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April Growing Garden Journal Includes:

  • Punched Chipboard Cover pieces (labeled “Growing Garden Journal”)
  • 15 front/back printed and punched plant cards on assorted cardstock
  • 1 binder ring
  • Additional plant cards are available as a refill.

Garden Journal Kits and Refills available here.

All you need is a pen and some plants to write about!

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 🙂