DIY: Three Ways To Paint A Watercolor Feather (For Beginners)

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Can you believe it’s almost spring? Here in Portland, the rain clouds have been taking more frequent breaks to let the sun shine and people are preparing their gardens for the new year. One rainy afternoon I felt the urge to get out my watercolors and play. I had fun experimenting with a favorite subject (one that fits our DIY Craft Challenge theme this month), FEATHERS and decided to share a few of my favorite ways to paint one.

This is a great project for those who are just learning how to use watercolors. Be sure to check out my other posts on Watercolor Basic Supplies & Techniques and 8 Watercolor Techniques For Beginners.

Materials Needed:

• Watercolor paper
• Watercolor paints
• Small + medium size brushes
• Black fine tip pen (I use 0.3 Copic Multi Liner)
• Pencil
• White gouache
• Sea salt
• Feathers (for inspiration)

Prep Your Paper & Sketch

Start by cutting your watercolor paper to three pieces of equal size (I cut mine to be 4″ x 6″). OR you can simply paint all three feathers onto the same page. Then lightly sketch a feather shape with pencil. To do this, first draw an elongated oval shape. Then sketch a straight line down the middle (this will be the stem).
DIY: Three Ways To Paint A Watercolor Feather

METHOD #1: Color Wash + Black Pen

Start by creating a color wash within the feather shape. To do this, first paint your feather shape with a thin layer of clear water only.
DIY: Three Ways To Paint A Feather
Then prep a few colors by wetting the pigment with water. While the feather shape is still wet, use your brush to drop color randomly onto the wetted surface (I like to use two or three colors for this). Allow the paint to flow together. You can even lift your paper slightly to help it run together.

DIY: Three Ways To Paint A Feather

OPTIONAL: Wait a minute or two, and while the paint is still wet, sprinkle some sea salt over the top. Let dry completely, then brush off any remaining salt from the paper.

DIY: Three Ways To Paint A Feather

Once dry you can decide whether or not you want to do a second color wash layer. I chose to add some more red/orange paint to the bottom of my feather to achieve a darker, more vibrant hue. Don’t forget to paint a stem!

DIY: Three Ways To Paint A Feather

Next get out a fine tipped black felt pen. I use a 0.3 Copic Multi Liner. First draw two lines down the center. You want the lines to come to a point near the top of the feather to create the stem. Next you can begin drawing lines from the stem starting and at the top of the feather and working your way down.

DIY: Three Ways To Paint A Feather

Experiment with leaving space between the lines at different intervals. You could also try different mark making techniques like dots, dashed lines, or even illustrated patterns.

TIP: If drawing with pen directly onto your watercolor feather is too nerve-wrecking, you can lightly sketch your lines with pencil first and then go over with pen.

DIY: Three Ways To Paint A Feather

METHOD #2: Color Wash + Watercolor Details

Start by sketching your feather shape. I chose to sketch my stem in an arc/curve shape this time. Then create a light color wash by first painting the feather shape with a thin layer of clear water and then dropping paint at random onto the wetted surface.

DIY: Three Ways To Paint A Feather

TIP: To paint a lighter shade color wash, all you have to do as add more water to your paint to dilute the pigment.

DIY: Three Ways To Paint A Feather

OPTIONAL: Because I like texture, I chose to sprinkle some sea salt over the color wash (just like in Method #1). Let dry completely, then brush off any remaining salt.

DIY: Three Ways To Paint A Feather

Next create a second layer with feathery details. First choose a darker color (I chose a dark green) to paint the stem.
DIY: Three Ways To Paint A Feather

Using a small brush, begin to paint whispy lines starting at the stem going out to the edge of your color wash. Experiment by using a few different colors of the same hue.

DIY: Three Ways To Paint A Feather

Once you complete your second whispy layer, you can continue to add more color or detail (while the paint is still wet) until you achieve a look you like. Once finished, let dry completely.

DIY: Three Ways To Paint A Feather
DIY: Three Ways To Paint A Feather

METHOD #3: Color Wash + Gouache Details

Sketch your feather. This time I chose to create a slightly more detailed sketch. Start with the basic feather shape and then using your actual feather as inspiration, lightly draw ‘more wild’ feather shape.

DIY: Three Ways To Paint A Feather

Fill the feather shape with a color wash the same way we did in the last two methods. Paint the shape with clear water and then use your brush to drop in color at random.

DIY: Three Ways To Paint A Feather

Then while the paint is till wet, choose a darker color and add in some stripes. Do this by dropping in the dark color in intervals, leaving gaps in between each ‘stripe’. You can keep adding color until you get a look you like. Then let dry completely.

DIY: Three Ways To Paint A Feather

Then add some white gouache to your palette and using a fine tip brush, paint a line down the center of the feather and add in some white dots. Let dry and you’re done!

DIY: Three Ways To Paint A Feather

Three ways To Paint A Feather

DIY: Paper Maché Birdy Penny Bank

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My friend Tara is a paper maché inspiration. A couple of years ago she made a couple of piggy banks that were so amazing I decided I needed to make a bank of my very own. A birdy bank.

I love that papier maché gives you the opportunity to make basically anything out of recycled materials. This is a great project for kids and adults alike- just be ready to take it in shifts over a couple of days so that the form has time to dry between each coat.
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Basic Supplies and Tools

  • A table cloth or paper cover and an apron. This is a wonderfully messy project!
  • A balloon
  • Newspaper
  • Flour and water (to make paste)
  • A piece of chipboard (like scrap from a cracker box)
  • This template for the feet, beak, wings and tailfeathers (which you will cut from chipboard.)
  • Masking Tape
  • Glue – Hot glue works great, but other thick glues work in a pinch
  • Scissors and craft knife

Finishing Supplies

  • Sand paper or sanding block
  • Acrylic paint
  • ‘ glue or similar
  • Brush

 

Step One: Starting the Paper Maché and Form

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Blow up one balloon about 5.5″ in diameter, and crumple up a piece of paper to make a head about 2.5″ in diameter. Tape the “head” to the balloon*, roughly the opposite side from the tied end.  (If you would prefer the inside of the birdy to be smooth, cover the balloon with a layer of paper maché before attaching the head.)

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To make your simple paper maché paste, mix one part flour with one part water. (You can change this ratio if you prefer a more watery or thicker paste. Practice makes perfect.) Stir the paste with your finger until it is smooth.

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Tear your newspaper into small strips and pieces and begin to coat your body form with a layer of newspaper. Dip each strip into the paste, and pull it through your fingers to remove excess paste and moisture.

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Overlap the pieces of newspaper on your form, and cover all but the tied end. It may be helpful to set the balloon on a cup or bowl to lift it off of your surface.

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When you have completely covered the form with one layer of newspaper, set it aside to dry. If you have a fan or space heater, set this little guy in front of that and it will dry faster. Make sure to let it dry almost completely before moving to the next layer of material, or you will have a soppy mess. At least wait a few hours.

Step Two: Adding more Detail

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Since your bird looks nothing like a bird yet, it’s time to add some appendages. Download and print this template and cut each of the pieces from a piece of chipboard.

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To build the birdy legs, cut into one side of the chipboard as shown, and roll the other end into a cylinder. Secure the roll with a couple of pieces of tape.

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Then tape across the foot to attach it to the leg. The flap left at the end of the leg will be glued to the base of your balloon form.

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Roll the beak to form a cone shape, and tape it in shape. Stuff a little piece of paper into the open end of the cone to make it easier to attach to your birdy head.

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Glue works best to secure the wings, legs, beak, and tail feathers to your form. Hold them in place until the glue is holding firmly. When everything is in place, begin to add another layer of papier maché,  covering all the new parts of your bird in addition to adding another layer to the main form you’ve already covered.

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As you add paper, make sure to leave the end of the balloon visible; this is where you’ll be breaking the balloon and pulling it out. Paper maché is very forgiving and it’s easy to cover up this hole.

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When you’ve covered the form with one or two layers of paper, let it dry again. You may find that you have to stop before you’ve completed covering the whole thing because life gets in the way of your messy fun, or your messy fun become a little too messy. No worries! Just make sure that your paper is as smooth as you can make it, and let the bird rest.

Step Three: Removing the Balloon and Making this Guy a Bank

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Yes. It looks silly. That’s okay, the best things are silly. When your form is completely dry, you’re ready to remove your balloon. Gently grip the balloon’s knot, and pierce the balloon to let the air out. As it shrinks, it should pull away from your paper. If it sticks in a spot, gently pull it out of the hole.

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No bank is complete without a place to put the money. Mark a line down the back of your bird, between the wings, about 1/4″ wide and 1.5″ long. Use a craft knife to carefully trim out the piece you’ve marked.

To finish the bottom of the bank, you have a couple of options. You can either add an access hole for money to be removed or go with the ol’ piñata method– keep the money inside until it’s time to smash! (Which is definitely satisfying.)

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If you’d like to make your bank reusable, find a small lid or something else that would work as a plug. Trace around the shape and cut any extra paper. It you’re having trouble keeping the cover in, trace it onto a scrap of chipboard and make a ring the perfect size, then glue that on top of your form and cover it with paper. The chipboard with provide a little extra stability. (Yes, I know this all looks kinda amusing. Giggles are allowed.)

Step Four: The last of the Papier Maché

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If your form is feeling pretty secure, it’s time to start adding the last layer of papier maché. The paint will not completely cover the paper (unless you want it to) so this is a great time to start having fun with your paper color and prints. Save gold and orange colored paper for the beak, cover the wings and head in dark colors, and use white newsprint for the breast. When you’re happy with the way it looks, let it all dry overnight!

Step Five: Sanding and Painting

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If you’re anything like me, your form will need a little sanding. USe sand paper or a sanding block to smooth off any edges of paper, clumps of paste, or rough edges- making sure not to sand below your papier mache layers.

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To make a transparent paint layer, mix equal parts glue and white acrylic paint with a little water.  (Add more glue for more transparency, or more paint to cover the paper more opaquely.)

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Gently apply a layer of paint and glue to the whole form and let it dry.

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When it dries you will still be able to see a lot of your newspaper pattern. If you like, add another layer of white paint, or start to add more colors to bring out details. To keep some of the transparency, you can water down your colored paints and streak them across your form.

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Let it all dry, and get ready to fill it with money!

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Using this balloon method you can make pretty much any animal you want! I’d love to see!

DIY: Heart Bath Bombs (For Valentine’s Day)

DIY Heart Bath Bombs (for Valentine's Day)
Happy February! Today we are sharing a BONUS project on how to make pretty Heart Bath Bombs for your friends and family this Valentine’s Day. Alison and I got together with some friends to make these and they turned out wonderful! We used all natural ingredients and scented them with pure essential oils of lavender and rose geranium (ie. Heaven!).

DIY: Heart Bath Bomb (for Valentine's Day)

Ingredients:

• 2 cups baking soda
• 1 cup citric acid
• 3 tablespoons kaolin (white) clay
• 1 tablespoon hibiscus flower powder
• 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
• Rose petals
• Witch hazel
• 25 drops lavender essential oil
• 25 drops rose geranium essential oil

Additional Tools:

• Heart silicone mold
• Mixing bowl
• Spray bottle
• Parchment paper

DIY: Heart Bath Bomb (for Valentine's Day)

Gather your supplies and pour some witch hazel into a spray bottle and set aside. Next add rose petals to the bottom of the silicone mold (be careful not to add too many, you just want a light sprinkle) and set aside. In your mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (baking soda, citric acid, clay, hibiscus powder) and mix with your hands, breaking up any clumps.

DIY: Heart Bath Bomb (for Valentine's Day)

Next combine the olive oil and essential oils together, then add it to the mixing bowl and use your hands to fully incorporate.

DIY: Heart Bath Bomb (for Valentine's Day)

Now comes the fun part. Spray witch hazel, a few sprays at a time, into the mixture using your hands to incorporate. You’ll want to work quickly as the citric acid will fizz with each spray. Continue to spray a little at a time until you reach a clump-like consistency that holds together in your hands.

DIY: Heart Bath Bomb (for Valentine's Day)
DIY: Heart Bath Bomb (for Valentine's Day)
Finally, pack the mixture into the silicone mold. Really push it in tight! Let dry in the mold for 10-15 minutes, then turn onto parchment paper and remove the mold. Let bath bombs dry overnight.

DIY: Heart Bath Bomb (for Valentine's Day)

We’d like to wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day! Don’t forget to check out our Monthly DIY Craft Challenge and submit your own handmade project!

DIY: Heart Bath Bomb (for Valentine's Day)

DIY: February (Peace Sign) Badge Kit

February Badge Kit Tutorial #diycraftchallenge

We are so excited to be back and have our DIY Craft Challenge up and running again. This year we are changing things up and have created a little DIY Badge Kit available for purchase in our Etsy shop! Each month we’ll have a different DIY kit to go along with our DIY Craft Challenge theme. Since this month’s theme is Stitches & Threads, I’ve created a fun embroidery inspired badge using basic embroidery stitches. We invite you to visit our new Etsy shop to purchase a kit OR if you already have the supplies on hand, feel free to use this tutorial to make your own!

The monthly badge kit is designed to be a mini (warmup) project to get your creative juices flowing for the DIY Craft Challenge. We’d love to see your finished badges so be sure to snap a photo and use #diycraftchallenge on Instagram! And don’t forget to submit a ‘Stitches & Threads’ inspired project of your own this month. For more details on how to submit, CLICK HERE.

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February Badge Kit Includes:

• Two 2″ felt circles
• Embroidery floss
• Embroidery needle
• One 1.5″ paper circle (for template guide)
• Pinback

Additional tools needed:

• Sewing scissors
• Felt tip pen

CLICK HERE to purchase a kit!

Step One: Create A Template

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First you want to sketch a peace sign onto one of the felt circles to be your guide for your embroidery stitches. Use the paper circle provided to draw a circle. Then sketch a vertical line down the middle. Complete the peace sign by sketching two more lines starting at the middle of the vertical line and moving diagonally to form two pie shapes (see photo below).

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Step Two: Stitch the Design

I’ve chosen four different embroidery stitches for this project. Feel free to change it up and use different stitches than the ones I’ve chosen!

Reference THIS POST full instructions on how to:
– Thread your needle & tie a knot
– Tie off your thread (once you’ve finished your stitches)
– Chain Stitch
– Fern Stitch

First, stitch the outline circle using a chain stitch.
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Next stitch the inside lines to complete the peace sign using a Fern Stitch.
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Lazy Daisy Stitch: Embellish your peace sign with one or two Lazy Daisy flowers. Bring the threaded needle to the front at A. Insert the needle back into the fabric at A and then just poke the needle back up to the front at B. Loop the thread under the needle point then pull the thread through to create a loop (with your thread coming up inside the loop). Then anchor the top of the loop to the felt with a small stitch, from B (inside the loop) to C (outside the loop). Repeat this lazy daisy stitch for each petal (always starting at the center) to create a flower.

Lazy Daisy Stitch #tutorial #embroidery

Note: You’ll notice the Lazy Daisy stitch is quite similar to the Chain Stitch.

Video Link: Lazy Daisy Stitch

Step Three: Finishing Your Badge

Finish your badge by stitching the front and back felt circles together using a Blanket Stitch. Blanket Stitch is a decorative stitch primarily used for edging. Start by holding the two felt circles together (right sides facing out). Insert the threaded needle through just the top layer (front) only and pull the thread through (this way your knot will be hidden between the two circles). Next, starting at the same place as your first stitch, insert your needle into the back circle, pulling your needle through both layers. Pull your thread through leaving a small loop. Insert the needle back through the loop and pull tight to create your first stitch. Begin your next stitch approx. 1/8″ away from the first. Bring your needle through both layers of felt. Pull the thread through, leaving a small loop. Insert your needle through the loop and pull tight. Repeat this process until you’ve stitched all the way around the edge of the circle. Insert the needle back through the loop of your first stitch to connect the circle.

Blanket Stitch Tutorial #embroidery

Video Link: Blanket Stitch

Tying Off

When tying off, you want the end the thread to be hidden in between the two layers of felt. To achieve this, you can tie a knot (optional) and then insert the needle in between the two felt layers coming out at a different spot. Pull the thread through and trim thread close to the felt with scissors. The end of your thread should now be hidden in between the felt layers.

Optional: Add a pinback

For easy pinning you can add a pinback to your badge. Simply stitch it into place making sure to insert your needle through the back layer of felt only.

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And that’s it! Show off your Peace Sign badge by pinning it to your bag/purse or stitching it onto your favorite denim vest or jacket!

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CLICK HERE to purchase a February Badge Kit from our Etsy shop!


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SHARE YOUR PROJECT ON INSTAGRAM USING #DIYCRAFTCHALLENGE

 

DIY: Heart Embroidery Sampler (For Beginners)

DIY: Heart Embroidery Sampler (for beginners)

Embroidery is one of my favorite craft mediums. It’s the perfect ‘lap’ project to work on while watching a movie and I love that I can pick up my project, work on a few stitches and just as easily put it down again. I first learned embroidery from my grandmother, who taught me to sew when I was a kid. Since then I have accumulated a big collection of vintage embroidery kits, endless boxes of floss, and have been known to transform my own art into embroidered masterpieces.

In case you haven’t heard, the DIY Craft Challenge is back! This month’s theme is Stitches & Threads, which pairs perfectly with embroidery. I’ve been longing to create a beginner embroidery tutorial for quite some time now, so this month is the perfect opportunity! And since it’s February, I made sure to design a project that can also become a Valentine for someone special in your life!

What is an embroidery sampler?

An embroidery sampler is created as a demonstration or test of skill in needlework. It’s the perfect way to practice different kinds of stitches and make something pretty at the same time.

There are hundreds of different types of embroidery stitches in existence. For this beginner project, I’ve chosen just seven: three basic outline stitches (Running Stitch, Back Stitch and Chain Stitch) and four decorative stitches (Threaded Running Stitch, Cross Stitch, Star Stitch and Fern Stitch). To make these stitches as easy to learn as possible I’ve included both photos with written instructions and a video link for each stitch.

7 Embroidery Stitches For Beginners

MATERIALS:

  • 8-inch diameter embroidery hoop:
    The Heart Sampler pattern was created for an 8” hoop but if you would like to make a different size sampler, you can shrink or enlarge the pattern provided to fit your hoop. I’d recommend not going smaller that 6” for this pattern.
  • Hand-sewing/embroidery needle:
    You’ll want to use a medium sized needle with a sharp point and a long opening, or eye, at one end, for easy threading.
  • Embroidery floss (7 different colors):
    Embroidery floss comes in a small bundle or skein and there are tons of colors available (check your local craft store). A length of floss is made up of six smaller strands or plies that are twisted together. You can use all of them or divide them up and use two, three or four plies for a thinner line. For this project, we’ll be using all 6 plies on all our stitches EXCEPT the star stitch, where we will use only three plies.
  • 12”x12” square of fabric (quilter’s cotton or linen works best):
    The looser the weave of your fabric, the more forgiving it can be when taking out stitches and starting over. A finer weave fabric is more likely to show holes from your needle.
  • Sewing scissors:
    Sewing scissors are sharp and used only for cutting thread and fabric. Avoid using your sewing scissors to cut paper or anything else beside fabric so that you don’t dull the blades.
  • Iron & ironing board
  • Fine-lead pencil (or nonpermanent fabric marking pen):
  • Crayola Light-Up Tracing Pad (or light table or sunny window)
  • Washi tape (or masking tape or pins)
  • Paper cutter (or scissors & ruler)
  • Heart Sampler Pattern

Other Useful Tools:

  • A needle threader (helpful when you find yourself struggling to thread your needle!)
  • Thimble (can prevent you from stabbing yourself in the finger with your needle. Ouch!)

DIY: Embroidery Sampler (For Beginners)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Step One: Prep the Pattern & Fabric

Download the Heart Sampler Pattern HERE and print out onto white copy paper. Then cut 1.25” from both the top and bottom of the page to create a square piece of paper with the pattern at the center.

Cut your fabric to size. I cut mine to be 12”x12” square leaving me plenty of extra. You could also get away with a 10”x10” piece of fabric too. Press your fabric to rid of any wrinkles using a hot iron.

How to use the pattern:

Use the lines of the pattern as a guide for your stitches. You’ll notice that each line has an assigned number to indicate which stitch to use. In this tutorial I will demonstrate how to make each stitch. There are a few stitches that are used more than once (like the running stitch, back stitch and chain stitch). Feel free to fill in these stitches as you go along.

Step Two: Transfer the Pattern to Fabric Using the Light Method

The easiest way to transfer a design onto a light-color fabric is to trace it. Place the square paper pattern face down onto the center of the square fabric and secure with washi tape or pins. Flip over and use a light table or my favorite tool, the Crayola Light-Up Tracing Pad, to transfer the pattern to the fabric using a fine lead pencil or nonpermanent fabric marking pen. You can also tape your fabric/design to a sunny window and use the natural light to trace.

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Step Three: Prepare the Fabric & Floss

Place the fabric into your embroidery hoop making sure the design is centered. To make your fabric taut, spread it over the smaller inside hoop and fit the larger outside hoop over the top with your fabric in between. Tighten the little screw on the outer hoop and gently pull on the edges of the fabric until you have a taut surface to work with.

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Threading your needle:

Threading the needle can be a little tricky, especially when using all six plies of floss. It may help to slightly dampen your finger and twist the end of the thread into a point, or try squeezing the floss ends flat between your thumb and forefinger. Then slide the needle’s eye onto the floss (instead of pushing the floss through the eye). If all else fails, use a needle threader.

Once you’ve threaded your needle, knot the longer end of the floss by first wrapping it around your finger, then roll it off and tighten into a knot.

Video Link: How To Tie A Knot For Hand Sewing

Step Four: Stitching the Design

running-stitch

1. Running Stitch: To begin stitching the Heart Sampler, let’s start with the most basic embroidery stitch- the Running Stitch. Begin at the center dashed line of the heart pattern. Starting at the bottom, pull the threaded needle to the front of the fabric at A (see photo above). Then return to the back of the fabric at B. The distance from A to B can be as long or short as you want. For this project, I recommend making small, even stitches of equal length. End your last stitch so that your needle is to the back of the fabric and tie off.

Video Link: Running Stitch

Tying off:

On your last stitch, return the needle to the back of the fabric. To tie off, pass the needle under a previous stitch creating a loop. Bring the needle back through the floss loop, and tighten. I recommend pulling the thread gently when tying off to ensure that the knot ends up snuggly next to your fabric (and not half an inch away). Avoid yanking the floss.

Video link: How to tie off a stitch

Embroidery Tip!

Your thread will get twisted up as you make your stitches. To correct this problem, hold up the hoop and let the needle and floss dangle straight down so that the strand can untwist itself. Just make sure not to lose your needle!

back-stitch

2. Back Stitch: Move over to the next line on the pattern (from the middle running stitch). Starting at the bottom of the pattern, bring your needle through to the front of the fabric at A (see photo above). Then go backwards and return your needle to the back of your fabric at B. Next your going to move your needle forward, coming up at C. Repeat this process to create consecutive back stitches by once again working backwards, poking your needle through at the end of the previous stitch, then moving your needle forward. Be sure to make small, even stitches of equal length. Once you reach the end of the line (of the pattern), tie off.

Video Link: Back Stitch

cross-stitch

3. Cross Stitch: Next we are going to try our first decorative stitch! Starting at the bottom of your pattern, bring your needle through to the front of the fabric at A and then back down again at B (creating a diagonal straight stitch). Next make a second stitch from C to D. Make sure each cross (x) overlap is in the same direction. Once you finish your row and tie off, notice what the back or your stitches look like. The back of a Cross Stitch row should look like the image shown.

Video Link: Cross Stitch

threaded-running-stitch

4. Threaded Running Stitch: First make a line of small close Running Stitches. End the floss. Start a second floss strand (in a different color) at the same spot as the first line of running stitches, bringing your needle to the front of your fabric at A. Working on the front only, without stitching through the fabric, insert the needle under the first Running Stitch, then through the second Running Stitch. Continue weaving back and forth under the Running Stitches until you reach the end of the line. End floss and tie off.

Video Link: Threaded Running Stitch (Warning: This video is not in English, but her demonstration of the stitch is all you really need).

chain-stitch

5. Chain Stitch: Start again at the bottom of the pattern and move your way up. Bring the threaded needle to the front at A. Insert the needle back into the fabric at A and then just poke the needle back up to the front at B. Loop the thread under the needle point then pull the thread through to create your first chain. Begin the next stitch in the same way by inserting the needle back into the fabric at B (now under the loop), coming up at C (outside the loop). Bring the thread around and under the needle point and pull the thread through. On your last stitch, end the chain by inserting your needle into the end of the last chain (outside the loop). Pull the thread through to the back and tie off.

Video link: Chain Stitch

fern-stitch

6. Fern Stitch: Fern Stitch consists of three Straight Stitches of equal length radiating from the same central point A. Starting at the top of the pattern and moving your way down, bring the thread through at A and then make a Straight Stitch to B. Bring the thread back through again at point A and make another Straight Stitch to C. Bring the thread back through at point A (for the final time) and make a final straight stitch to D. Repeat this pattern by moving the needle down and coming up through the next center stitch to begin the next three radiating stitches. The center stitch follows the light of the pattern design.

Video Link: Fern Stitch (Note: This demonstration is done differently than described above. Either method works!)

star-stitch

7. Star Stitch: This is an Eight Point Star Stitch. Begin by first making a basic cross stitch. Then make another cross stitch diagonally on top of the first one to form a star.

Video Link: Star Stitch

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Step Five: Finishing for Display

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Once finished, turn your embroidery sampler to the back and take a look. My grandma always said that the back of your embroidery project should look just as neat and tidy as the front! But don’t worry. It’s OK is yours doesn’t look so tidy, since no one is meant to see the back of your project anyway (unless you show your grandma and she wants to check your stitches lol).

You can now prep your project for display. If you plan to make your heart sampler into a pillow, for example, you can remove it from the hoop and move on to your sewing machine. Or you can leave it as ‘Hoop Art’ by using the embroidery hoop as a frame for the project. To do this, make sure your Heart Sampler is centered in the hoop and the fabric is nice and taut. Then use sewing scissors to cut away the excess fabric.

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DIY: Playing Card Ornaments

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An old deck of cards in one hand, and the perfect Christmas Tree outside… something weird’s gonna happen.

We love games at this house. Card games, board games… you name it. I don’t love worn-out cards, though, so I’ve been looking for a clever way of getting rid of a couple of our older decks. After playing with strips of paper as Christmas ornaments, I started thinking about ways to turn flat cards into 3-d shapes. Internet searches gave me a few options, including this great tutorial for making ornaments out of MTG playing cards. After following the tutorial, I made a couple of tweaks and ended up with another great collection of ornaments for our outdoor holiday tree.

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Supplies

  • A deck of cards
  • Thin-ish wire: I used 22 Gauge floral wire
  • Assorted beads or buttons: Make sure the wire will fit through the holes.
  • Wire clippers and pliers
  • Craft knife or paper cutter
  • Awl or large needle for piercing cards
  • Ribbon or string

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To begin you will cut several playing cards into 1/2″ strips. Choose 16 of those pieces to turn into your first ornament.

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Poke a hole, at the bottom and top of each piece, approximately 1/4″ from the end. (You should be able to pierce through multiple cards at once.)

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Trim a length of wire, approximately 10″ long, and put a small loop in one end. String at least one bead as a stopper, then start feeding your card pieces on, one at a time. This will be the bottom of your ornament, and the side showing from the bottom (shown above) will be the side of the card facing out on your ornament.

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The red side will be hidden on the inside of this ornament.


Once you have all your card pieces fed on the wire, add about 1-1/2″ of beads as spacers.

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Starting with the bottom piece of card, gently feed the wire through the pierced hole at the other end.

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Do the same with the next lowest piece of card, letting it rest against one side. Repeat with the next lowest piece of card EXCEPT let it rest on the other side of the center.

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Repeat this action on each piece, going back and forth between each side of the ornament. It should begin to form a sphere.

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There should be just enough space to feed the last (most interior) piece through. If you feel like the pieces are too cramped, you may want to gently tear a piece or two off your wire.

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When you have all the pieces wrapped back around, add another bead or two, make a loop in the wire, and trim. Feed a ribbon through the loop, and you have a nifty ornament!

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Other things to try

  • Make the spacer inside the ornament longer for a more spherical ornament, or make it shorter for a more compressed “space saucer” ornament. The different shapes will need a slightly different number of card pieces, but I’ve found that they all use between 14 and 16 pieces.
  • String two ornaments on the same wire for a more complex shape.
  • Mix and match back pieces and front pieces for a striped pattern.
  • String an extra piece of beaded wire or string to the bottom of the ornament for even more decoration.
  • Go crazy with bead spacers and see what happens.

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What do you think? Trash to treasure?

DIY: Scrap Paper Strip Ornaments

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Up until the last couple of years, Safety Husband and I would go home to Texas for the holidays, and we never felt the need to decorate for the season. For the last couple of years we’ve talked about decorating the “Christmas Tree” that just happens to be growing in our upper yard, and this year we’re making it happen. I’ve been putting my brain power into making ornaments that are either weatherproof, or are meant to be thrown away in January. It’s been a great chance to work through some of the materials I’ve been… ahem… collecting.

I love vintage ornaments and paper, and after a couple of years of experimentation I was ready to combine those two loves in this one ornament design. Super quick, because they are held together by staples, a couple of basic techniques can build a whole tree’s worth of decoration.

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Supplies

  • Stapler
  • Ribbon (3/8″ to 1/2″ wide is great)
  • Scrap Paper: I used leftover 12×12 scrapbooking paper, but catalog or magazine pages would work well too! If you’re using thin paper, you might want to double up on the number of strips per ornament.
  • Clips: binder clips work great for this, but a clothespin will work in a pinch. (Pun intended.)
  • Scissors

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To begin, cut about eight 1/2″ strips off your paper. (You can vary the number, just make sure you have an even number of strips.)

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Cut a length of ribbon about twice the length of your paper strips.

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Fold the ribbon in half, and stack half the strips on each side. Staple near the bottom of the stack, away from the loop of ribbon.

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The staple will go through all the paper and the ribbon, securing that point. (Staples must be cheating, because they make this too easy.)

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Put a clip about halfway down the paper, clamping the whole stack of paper and ribbon. With one hand, hold the clip, and with the other gently pull on the loop of the ribbon.

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This should cause the paper to pooch out a little on the other side of the clip. Repeat the holding and pulling step, but this time grab the ribbon loop and the two strips of paper closest to it on either side.

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Repeat again and again, adding another strip on either side, until you reach the outer strip.

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Then carefully put a staple through the area the clip was holding.

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Trim any excess paper with a pair of scissors.

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If you want, you can curl some of the extra paper to add a little decorative detail. Simply roll the paper around a small pencil or paintbrush to curl it.

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Once you get the hang of the whole pull method, you can shake things up by doing a similar technique, upside-down.

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Staple in the middle of your ornament, and turn each strip back down. Once you’ve turned each strip, staple them at the bottom to form a heart shape.

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Using these two techniques you can make a whole range of funky vintage ornaments.

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If you get sick of looking at the staples, you can replace them with a couple of stitches. Simply poke a hole in the middle of the stack, and make stitches back and forth to secure the ornament.

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Remove the staple, and you’ll never know it was there.

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Or spend that time making a whole army or ornaments. It’s up to you!

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One set down, more to go.

DIY: Simple Trees for Your Chipboard Forest

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Even before I was done building little chipboard houses I knew they would need a little setting to live in. I wanted to come up with a simple and flexible tree template that I could make a whole forest out of. Inspired by my old paper bird project, I used strips of chipboard to build these trees.

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Supplies

  • Scrap chipboard: from the backs of notepads or boxes. My pieces were 8.5×11″
  • You favorite paper glue
  • Clothespins or clips
  • Craft knife
  • Scoring Tool: a bone folder or dull knife work great

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I began by making two score lines along the long side of the board, at .5″ and at 2.5″.

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Then I cut two pieces, 1″ wide, off the other side for the trunk of my tree. The remaining piece of chipboard had my score marks on it, and I trimmed it into 1″ pieces (each piece has the same score marks).

I applied glue to the trunk pieces, and clipped them together to dry.

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While the trunk glue was drying, I folded each of my small pieces along the score marks, forming an L.

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Piece by piece, I applied glue to the .5″ flap and the top of the L…

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then clipped them to the trunk. In this picture you can see that I folded the two pieces of the trunk away from each other at the base; this will allow the trees to sit by themselves.

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I continued to add tree pieces until I liked what I saw (typically between 2 and 4 tiers), holding each piece with a couple of clips.

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When I was happy, let the glue sit overnight, held by the clips. (Happy little trees, as the man said.)

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On some I trimmed the top a bit, some I left tall. I love the way the variety turned out. These would be great with snowy glitter added, or paint. I’m just happy to have a forest for my little chipboard houses.

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Trees for the little paper world.

 

Yes, I know I sound crazy. Now go make something!

(;

DIY: Paper Spiderwebs to Decorate Everything

Step by step this house is getting properly October spooky. I’m a big fan of decorating with the things I have around, and this collection of tarnished silver and moody ornaments needed one little touch, so I decided to make a spiderweb table runner out of scrap paper and a piece of ribbon.

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SUPPLIES

  • A few sheets of paper, any color you fancy. I used card stock, which was a bit trickier to cut but more durable in the long run.
  • Small clips or tape
  • Your favorite craft knife
  • A hole punch
  • Ribbon
  • The spiderweb templateaim_paperspiderweb

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Once you have printed the spiderweb template, use tape or the clips to secure it to a sheet or two of paper, and cut the spiderweb shape out with a craft knife. You will also punch holes where each X is.

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Cutting Tips

Start trimming the small center pieces out first and move to the large pieces. I actually cut all the inner pieces, then moved on the the next sheet of paper until I have enough pieces. Then I cut the outer shape out of several pieces at once using scissors.

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When you’ve cut out and punched all your pieces, weave a piece of ribbon in and out of the holes to connect several spiderwebs.

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I overlapped the corners of each spiderweb piece to make my table runner…

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and hung them all on one ribbon for a creepy spiderweb banner.

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The possibilities are, as they say, endless! I’m even thinking of creepy spiders to add to them.

The motionless, paper kind.

 

What’re you decorating with?

DIY: Spookily Free and Easy Ghosts

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When I was a kid my mom came up with all sorts of awesome crafts for us to do, and being a typical goth-in-the-making I loved the halloween crafts most of all. One year we made cheesecloth ghosts with balloons and glue and it’s a project that has haunted me to this day.

I decided that I really wanted some ghost friends, but lacking balloons and cheesecloth I decided to make some up, Alison style. (IE: Free, Quick, and Fun.)

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SUPPLIES

  • At least a couple of feet of sheer or thin fabric – old sheets or window sheers work great!
  • All-purpose flour
  • Bottles: Soda, water, or wine. Glass or plastic.
  • Wire or wire coat hangers
  • Plastic bags
  • Rubber bands
  • Scissors
  • A bucket or bin to mix your flour paste in

Step 1: The Form

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To begin will make a simple armature out of wire (or out of a wire hanger). Cut a piece about 24″ long, and twist it together to form one big loop.

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Slip the loop over the neck of your bottle, and twist the arms slightly so that they sit securely on the bottle and point slightly upwards. Using a scrap piece of fabric or paper, form a ball shaped head over the neck of the bottle and secure it with a rubber band.

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To make the armature (form of the ghost) easier to remove, cover it with a plastic grocery bag, and secure it with a rubber band.

Measure the height of your ghost form from the base, across the head, and to the base on the back side. Cut a square of fabric this size to cover your form. (This is a great time to tear your fabric instead of cutting, if you want. Frayed edges are a bonus!)

 

Step 2: Stiffening and Forming the Fabric

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Although flour may not last forever when used as a paste, it works perfectly for a ghost that will only haunt your house for a year or two. Combine 4 parts water with 1 part all-purpose flour in a large container and mix well with your fingers. Soak your ghost fabric, and wring it gently.

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Spread the fabric over the ghost form, with a corner of the fabric pointing forwards.

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Using your creativity (and maybe a clip or two) shape the cloth as creepily as you want! (I loved adding a fold along the “hair line” so that it looked like my ghost was in a cloak.)

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If you’d like, remove some of the excess fabric from the “arms” of your ghost. (Make sure to leave fabric puddled at the front and back; this will ensure that your ghost will sit up when it’s all dry.)

Leave your new little friend to dry overnight, with a fan blowing if you can. When it’s completely dry, gently pull the bottle form out of the stiff fabric. (If it’s not firm enough to stand, you can mix up some more of the flour and water and paint it onto your fabric while it’s still on the form. You may want to use a higher ratio of flour to water.)

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Boo!

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If you’re feeling extra crafty, you can paint right on your ghosts with watercolor or acrylic paints. I have some scary plans for one of mine.

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Use What You’ve Got!

If you don’t have scraps of fabric lying around, this project is also fun with thin paper, tissue paper, or even paper towels. Just make one adjustment: instead of soaking the paper in your paste, lay the paper across your form and paint the paste on with your fingers or a craft paint brush. Saturate the paper slowly and let it fall again the form. You can add multiple layers of paper for more texture (like the tissue paper ghost above) and even cut out a mouth and eyes!

Stick an LED “candle” in it, and things get even creepier!

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Scary Ghost Sound!

What’s frightening you this season?