Roman Blinds

I’m the queen of crappy pics lately but I wanted to post this project for the record.  I made my sister some roman blinds at the beginning of the year.  This was actually a long-ago Christmas gift IOU.  I was a bit intimidated by the process and didn’t really like the original fabric I had chosen.

Over winter break, I finally decided the time had come to finish this project.  Part of the motivation came from the fact that I have been trying to weed out my stash of stuff, including all my unused craft supplies.  I had all the pieces for this project — dowels, wood slat, rings, string — and needed to clear it out of my craft closet.  I finally found fabric I *love* by looking at shower curtains at TJ Maxx!  This was a Cynthia Rowley cloth shower curtain that I cut in half lengthwise to make two blinds.  The great thing about using a shower curtain was that the bottom and one of the sides were already hemmed, and I didn’t have to worry about lining up the design perfectly since it was already taken care of.  I wish I had better pictures because I really love how these turned out.  They look beautiful against the dark wood window frames and give the whole room a cleaner look.

I used Martha’s tutorial as inspiration but sewed my dowel pockets from the lining itself (pic one, above). And I did everything by machine.  This worked out fine since I used white thread and the front fabric pattern hides the stitches well enough, but if I had used plain fabric, it would have looked sort of messy.

Butterfly Mandala

This is what happened.  My (not so) new apartment has very tall ceilings and once I got things arranged to my liking, I found I had a very tall empty wall over my bed.  I wanted something big to put there that would fit with the India-inspired color scheme — bright orange curtains, pink rug, yellow throw pillows, multi-colored bed scarf.  Lots of thinking, looking at pictures on the interwebs, more thinking.

In October, I became obsessed with paper maché and made a dio de los muertos mask.  Around the same time, I became obsessed with mandalas, so I decided to make a giant paper maché mandala for my wall.  I put it together with cardboard, newspaper, flour paste, and gesso, but then came the difficulty of deciding how to decorate it.  Paint? Collage? Fabric?  I stared at it for a few more weeks, tried collage but it looked like crap so I peeled it off and stared at it for another week or so, painted one design and hated it, gessoed over it, stared at it again.

Butterfly Mandala

After a few more false starts, I got the idea to use butterfly wings as inspiration — butterflies having an important symbolic meaning in my life.  The designs in each of the mandala petals are copied from different kinds of butterflies, but I used monarch coloring throughout.  After staring at it for another week or so, I decided on a simple flower in the middle.

Butterfly Mandala

Since I only used paper maché on one side of the cardboard, it pulled the cardboard into a convex shape as it dried, adding to the three-dimensional quality.  You can’t quite see it in the photos, but the inside section is cut out, adding more dimension.  I didn’t put any kind of hanger on the back, so I just drilled right through it with a couple of wood screws, which are black and disappear in the black paint.  It measures 38 inches across but looks smaller on the giant wall.

It’s really dramatic — very colorful and almost tribal – and I’m kind of loving it.

Corduroy Lap Blanket

I’ve been holding off on posting this project since I couldn’t get any good pictures, but here it is anyway, for better or worse.  My ma asked for a heavy duty lap blanket for Christmas.  I inherited many yards of corduroy from someone and had been thinking it would make a great blanket.  I went for a large-scale chevron pattern — the squares are about 10-12″.

Corduroy Lap Blanket Fleece Backing

I backed it with heavy fleece — no lining necessary — and wrapped the fleece for binding.  I didn’t actually quilt the thing, which was a bit of a mistake, as now whenever she washes it, she’ll have to sort of shake it out to get it to lay flat.

The pictures are really bad and the colors are off.  Looks sort of garish here but I promise it’s much better in real life! And very cozy!

Adventure 3D collage

Every year I make a birthday card for my niece and they’ve gotten more elaborate over the years.  The rule is that it has to be made of paper to qualify as a card but this year I cheated a bit.  I got  a new ipod for Christmas and was looking at the cute plastic box that it comes in and the idea came to me that I should put a mini-diorama in it.

Adventure 3D Collage

The diorama is made completely of cut paper from an old Metropolitan Museum of Art desk calendar.  The photos don’t quite do it justice.

Adventure 3D Collage

My niece is studying abroad this semester — a grand adventure for someone who has let a relatively sheltered life.  I am so excited for her.  (And jealous too!)  Makes me think about my own travels overseas, especially when I was her age, and to long for some adventure of my own.

On the back, this favorite quote from Helen Keller.

Adventure (back)

Chocolate Meringue Pie

I haven’t done a whole lot of stitching this year, but I have made a whole lotta pies.  The pie of the autumn/winter season was what my mom’s old 4H cookbook calls chocolate cream but is really chocolate meringue.  I had trouble with the first one I made as the filling did not set and though delicious, it was more of a milkshake than a pie.

4H Cookbook Cream Pies

I figured out that the reason it did not set was that the filling never got hot enough, so the second time I made it, I skipped the double-boiler and cooked it in a saucepan, whisking the whole time so it wouldn’t burn.

4H Cookbook Meringue Topping

I make a 4 egg white meringue so there is more of it.  You have to use 2T of sugar per egg white in meringue, so I upped the recipe to a 1/4 cup of sugar.

I have started using J. Kenji López-Alt’s method for making pie crust (here) and it really is perfect every time! I love it!

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(Sorry for the bad pun.)

I made this apron for my sister a couple of months back for her birthday.  It’s a very simple project and I recommend it to newbies.

I didn’t take pictures of the process, but it’s easy peasy.  This apron is lined so if you want you can make it reversible by selecting pretty fabric for the front and the back.  I made one for myself just using muslin for the lining, but this one is lined using the bright blue fabric that I used for the neck loop and ties.

1) Make a pattern using craft paper or wrapping paper — measure how wide you want the top and the bottom of your apron to be and where you want the waist to sit.  Once you draw the pattern and cut it out, hold it up against yourself to make sure it lines up where you want.

2) Make the ties and the neck loop by making fat double-fold bias tape. (Although you don’t really need to cut the fabric on the bias…what is that called?)  I made mine about 1 -1.5″ wide.  The neck loop is roughly 18″ long and the ties are about 30″ apiece, so you’ll need to make at least 80″ total.  Hem one end of each tie and sew the open side of the tape closed.

3) Pin the neck loop and the ties to the right side of the front fabric.  Here is a little sketch:

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Yes, it seems like the loop and ties are going the wrong direction, but trust me it will work out!  Sew the loop and ties down, using a smaller hem than usual and go back and forth a couple of times to make them secure.

4) Line up the front fabric and the lining, right sides together, with the loops and ties sandwiched in between.  Pin the whole shebang, then sew all around the edge, leaving a six inch gap in the middle of the bottom for turning.

5) Clip the corners then flip it inside out through the gap.  When you turn it, the loops and the ties will come out, right where you want them to be — magic!  Iron your apron, then top stitch around the whole apron, closing the gap in the process.

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6) I added a pocket at this stage.  If you wanted to make a reversible apron, you might want to put pockets on the two pieces before you sew them together, but I thought it would be sturdier to sew through both pieces of fabric.

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I hope these directions make sense!

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Here is a very belated wedding gift for some friends — she was living in upstate New York, he was living in northern Spain, but they managed to meet and fall in love.  I don’t know how well you can see it in the photo, but the map lines are made of one blue line and one green line, side by side.  Simple but I kinda love it.

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