Archive Page 2

Martha! I Made It! #2: The Duvet

This is going to be a long post.  I hope you read it and validate my psyche, because after this project, I need some validation.  Whew!  I am, however, totally okay with you just looking at the pictures and then posting a comment (ha!).

This project started a long time ago in my head.  Michael and I have been dreaming of getting a king-sized bed for months and months.  When your husband is 6’3″, you need a big bed.  In mid-June Michael noticed that Macy’s was going to have a stellar sale on mattresses and said we should go ahead and do it.  I was so excited and petrified.  We chose gray for our master bedroom, and while I like the gray, I’ve had a hard time deciding what to do with the bedding.  I don’t want more gray bedding- to dreary and plain.  And supposedly gray is neutral, but I think it’s a tricky neutral.

I did have two sources of inspiration.  I saw this photo in a magazine and loved the look of orange, white and gray on the walls.  (My dog is cuter than that dog, BTW.)

Then I saw this photo in (you guessed it) Martha Stewart’s Encycopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts.  It’s on page 150/151.

(I took this photo with my iPhone and hope I don’t get in trouble for posting it, but couldn’t find it online anywhere).

I didn’t like the idea of having a white comforter. With a little black dog who likes to snuggle in our bed while we get ready in the morning, I could just see it getting covered with little black hairs.   And Michael and I are hard on things- white would just get dingy and dirty too quick.  But the tones in Martha’s book were a bit too muted for me- I wanted something a bit more striking.

I headed to BB&B and found some sheets.  I chose a copper color- it was as close to orange as I could find.  I did like it a lot.  I wanted to add a second color as an accent, so I chose an olive green that was near it because they just seemed to go together.  What follows is a sort of pictoral journey, if you will.  But if you don’t want to scroll through them, I’ll put the finished product first to save you the scrolling (aren’t I nice?).  🙂  Ta da!

(Please don’t look in my closet– it needs some work.  Should have closed the dang curtain…LOOK AWAY!)  I think the white pillows made it look complete.  I love it.  Really, I do.  I’m just not sure about the color combo with the gray walls.

Now, onto the process….ah, the process…

One of the wonderful things about Martha’s book is you get templates and patterns.  Lots of them.  This particular template was a doozy, though, since it’s soooooo big.  Many pages to tape together.  I also used that to cut out the teardrop templates.

I set to cutting out the appliques.  There were a lot of them.  It took me an entire morning- I caught up on a lot of Oprah.  The process outlined in the directions basically tell you to use the template to trace the pattern onto your sheet with transfer paper and a tracing wheel.  Transfer paper is also… a doozy.  I even bought the same transfer paper used in Martha’s book- you can find it here.  I wish I could tell you that I love transfer paper and it worked like a charm. I do not love transfer paper, and it did not work like a charm.  After 45 minutes of tracing the pattern onto my sheet, I pulled it away and there was very little to show for my lower back workout.  So I had to resort to my own brainpower because I wanted to get to sewing.  Bad.  What I ended up doing was placing the appliques and tracing them with disappearing ink.  I learned, however, that on this particular sheet at this particular time of year, the disappearing ink disappears quickly- overnight.  So I worked one circle at a time.  I placed the appliques on the inner circle and then sewed them down.  Then I worked my way out from there.

Tracing paper (and Sophie, wondering what in the world I’m doing)

One of my learning moments was the stitching for this project.  Martha’s book talks about using a satin stitch, but I couldn’t find anything in my sewing manual about satin stitching.  So I zig-zagged the appliques to the copper sheet (Martha and her editors said that would be okay).  Let me tell you- a king sized sheet- that’s a lot to work with.  This was my world for several days:

Things moving along…

Here was my problem, though- sometimes the zig-zags turned out okay (pre-trimming)…

And other times they pulled away- either due to my poor stitching skills or they just pulled out of the threads- a little bit of both.  When I saw this happening, I became a bit depressed.  I spent so much time on this project, and felt like it wasn’t going to pan out.  Then (enter angel chorus music) I asked my friend Kari for help.

Thankfully, Kari didn’t have to make a special trip- she was already coming over for a get together.  I brought her back to check it out and she set me straight on how to satin stitch.  Basically you set the zig zag setting on your machine at opposite ends to make it as wide and as close together as possible, and ta-da!  Satin stitch- looks much better, eh?

Once I finished up the satin stitching (several days later) I was finally ready to make the duvet.  I followed the directions in Martha’s book on page 147.  I’m glad I took my time with this part.  My white sheet was significantly larger than my copper, AND they were both larger than my comforter, so I had some work to do.

Ready to sew it up!

Up close in our room.

And the final product again.  *sigh*  I love it.

I’d love to know, if you’ve gotten this far (thanks!) what you think of the copper and gray situation.  Is it bad?  Different?  Too different?  Awesome?  Okay?   And what would you hang above it?  Please don’t tell me to make something.  Ha!
Whew!  I’m ready for a teeny, tiny, miniscule project now.  Maybe a pincushion or something…

31DBB Day 3: Promote your Post

I am so excited about this challenge.  Excited and overwhelmed.  I really want to make the most of it, which is why I decided to write a new post for the Day 3 task.  My list post was okay, but didn’t really relate to Crafting Crazy very well, so I’m choosing to promote my preceding post instead.  I just finished signing up for Digg, and posted my article there.  I’m curious to see what happens- if I get more hits, etc.  I’m also going to see if I can convince a few blogging friends to link to me.  I need to try link parties, too- haven’t had the brain power to figure them out yet.

Go 31DBB!

New Series on Crafting Crazy: Martha! I Made it!

I love Martha Stewart.  For a while I was in denial.  I was one of those people who was all like, “That Martha- she’s too perfect.  Who really lives like that?  I mean, it’s nice and all, but…..”  Then I couldn’t deny it any more. I just like the look of nearly everything in her magazines.  I don’t watch her show very often mainly due to a lack of time, but I do like the simplicity of the Martha Stewart Style.  So, I gave up, gave in, and now I’m a Martha Wannabe.  I have a long way to go.

Enter her new treasure, “Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts.”

Soon after I purchased my sewing machine I went out and bought this book.  (Thankfully I had some help with a generous gift from our PTA at school- it was Teacher Appreciation Week and we all got $50!  Nice, eh?)  I actually went to Barnes & Noble and pulled a bunch of sewing books and literally sat on the floor and drooled over patterns and pictures of things I’d love to know how to make (remember- no idea what I’m doing).  I ultimately chose this book because it has a little bit of everything- clothing, gifts, doggie coats, you name it.

I thought it might be nice to showcase what I make from this book.  It’s one thing to look at a project in any book and say, “Hey- that’s rad.  I could make that.”  It’s another thing entirely to follow the directions (I’m not always good at that) and see if you actually get what’s pictured.  And since I’m such a novice, I think at the very least I will give a good laugh, right?  So here we go:  Installment #1 of, “Martha!  I made it!”

On page 311 in the book are “Felt Baby Shoes.”  They looked adorable, and awfully simple to make. First I just went to Michael’s (or Joann Fabrics- can’t remember) and bought a cheap sheet of crafting felt in pink and white.  I wanted to see if they would turn out right using the pdf pattern included with the book.  In less than 15 minutes I had an adorable pair of shoes, but because the felt only cost 29 cents/sheet, I could tell they were not going to last very long.  So I headed to the back of the Encyclopedia and looked up where Martha got her felt. I love the back of the book- you can look up where they purchased certain fabrics and such- not everything is listed, but in this case I was lucky.  I surfed over to Magic Cabin and ordered some of their wool felt.  When it showed up I started drooling it was so nice.  And here’s my end result:

First and most importantly, meet Clare.  Isn’t she adorable?

Clare’s mommy, Elizabeth (E for short) agreed to let Miss Clare model my shoes.  Of course, Clare gets to keep them, too.  I wanted to see if they would actually fit a baby’s foot.  For reference, Clare is 3 months old.

Here are the shoes- I think they turned out adorable.  You’ll see that I added a little heart to the bottom of one for flair.  I know- I’m so forward-thinking, right?  No one does that, I’m sure.  Ha.

And now my critique of the directions and steps in the book.  I think these will be helpful to anyone else in case they decide to make something from this book.

This How-To was great– the pattern was easy to use, the felt is very easy to work with.  I do need to buy some smaller pins because I did stick myself a lot since I only had standard size pins.  I used a 1/16″ punch for the little holes just as they described and it was very easy to use.  I have to wonder if gluing rick-rack, as they suggest would hold up, but that will have to wait for another pair.

Other notes:  In the future I will not use buttons.  These shoes barely fit Miss Clare, so these are best used as a newborn gift so that mommies can decide when to use them. Because Clare is 3 months old, the buttons had to be readjusted a bit and they did work, but I would worry about the felt not holding up to her little kicks and such since the fit was a bit snug around her cute ankles.  Clare was also kicking up a storm, so they were hilariously challenging to get on.  I did use a crafting knife to cut the button holes- it was very easy, but I’m glad I used the sharp knife and not a pair of scissors.  This allowed me to be more exact.

A few other photos to share:

The shoes on Miss Clare’s adorable feet (this girl has long toes!)

Full shot- I feel horrible for cutting off her head, but still- is she not just the cutest?  Talk about baby fever… E said that she wore them for quite a while and didn’t seem bothered by them at all, which is also nice to know.

Thanks, E, for letting me use Miss Clare!  I can’t wait to see what other shoes I can come up with.  I have all sorts of color combinations in mind.

Next up on Martha, I Made It!:  a duvet cover.  Yikes.  It’s coming!

If you got this far, please leave a comment and show me some love- thanks!

What’s in YOUR Bookmark Bar?

This is Day #2 of the 31DBB challenge (see the button on the right to get more info!).

I’ve been wracking my brain with this one, trying to think of a list that I could share that would be helpful and worthy of someone else’s eyes and time.  Something that came to mind is what I have in my bookmark bar in my browser.  This is such a useful tool that, until recently, I didn’t realize could be so helpful in my day-to-day technological life.  So while this may not be a crafty post, it certainly keeps my crafty self a bit more organized.

If you’re a new techie and don’t know what the bookmark bar is, there is a bar that runs across the top of your browser window to which you can add the places you most commonly visit on a daily basis online.  If you’re a tab-o-holic like me, I like to have several tabs open at once, and these buttons make it easier to jump from place to place with less typing and more surfing.

Here’s a screenshot of my bookmark bar, in case you still aren’t sure where to look:

So, you’ll see a few of mine listed above, but I’ll go ahead and list all of my bookmarks here.  I’ve linked them up if necessary/helpful, and given them a description in case you aren’t familiar with them.

  1. Yahoo:  About once or twice a day I click on Yahoo to mentally check out of  my world and see what’s happening in the rest of the world.
  2. Google Maps:  Because everyone should know where they are going.
  3. Cozi:  I’m not completely sold on Cozi yet, but my husband and I are trying it out as a means to coordinate when the school year starts out.  Jury is still out.
  4. Picnik:  If you’ve never tried Picnik give it a whirl- you can do so many cool things with photos in a simple way.  It’s like Photoshop for dummies.
  5. Blog Frog:  If you’re a SITS-tah- holla holla!  This is a great place to find online communities.  This is how I heard about the 31DBB challenge.
  6. Facebook:  duh.
  7. Something for Sanity (my family blog)
  8. Crafting Crazy (you’re reading it now!)
  9. Big Tent:  I’m part of a local group of moms, and Big Tent is where we meet up online to have online forums and arrange get-togethers.  It’s a great tool if you need to gather a group, and you can also start online groups across the country/world, I imagine.
  10. All Recipes:  This is my go-to site for finding recipes.  I love having a recipe box, and now their “pro” app on the iPhone lets you access your recipe box on your phone- no more cooking with my laptop above the range or scrawling down recipes on post-its.  One step closer to paper-free!
  11. Bank:   I’d give you my bank info, but then I’d have to kill you.
  12. Pingg:  I’ve started using Pingg instead of Evite for invitations to things.  My friend Kari turned me onto it and I love it.
  13. Mobile Me:  I’m a Mac girl, and Mobile Me keeps my world connected via my iPhone.   I also love to use it to share photos with family- no clogging inboxes anymore.
  14. Ravelry:  If you knit, you should check out Ravelry.  Tons of free patterns and communities, and you can find a local group to knit with if you want!
  15. Kaboodle:  Do you Kaboodle?  With Kaboodle you can dream of things you want, or keep track of things you need, or a combination thereof.  Kaboodle is like the ultimate registry for your family.  I have a list for my kids, myself and my husband.  Then, if I see something online and think, “That’s rad!  I want that!”  I add it to my Kaboodle list.
  16. Add to my Kaboodle:  This is a button you can add to your bar- see something you like?  Click the button and add it to the list you like.  When you’re done it takes you back to where you were- awesome!  You can get this button on the Kaboodle main page- scroll to the bottom and look for “get the buttons.”

I just realized I need to add Twitter to my bar- off I go!

That’s it!  Hope you find something you like!

Go 31DBB particpants!

Day 1 of the 31DBB Challenge!

Hi everyone!

I am posting something in two places on my blog in an effort to make sure my blog “homework” is done.  You see, I’ve joined in a 400+ women movement to seek to improve my blogging skills.  In the next 31 days I will be posting EVERY DAY.  That’s right- every day.  This is a huge commitment for me, but I think it will be worth it.  Below is my first assignment, which is to write an “Elevator Pitch.”  This is meant to promote myself and my blog by describing who I am, what my blog is, and why people should read it. I’ve also posted it in my “About Nat” page, because it will stay there until I need to change it. I’m so excited to do this challenge, and hope that I can rise to the occasion!  If you want more info about the 31 Days to a Better Blog Challenge, you can click here.

My short elevator pitch is simple:  Crafting Crazy:  An Adventure in Threads.

Here’s my long elevator pitch:

My name is Natalie Chiles and I am Crafting Crazy.  The “crafting” part of Crafting Crazy comes from my newfound lust interest in making anything I can.  I have always had a creative side, but lately it just seems to keep coming even when I’d like to take a break.  The “crazy” part of Crafting Crazy comes from several places.  The biggest one is that while I have a lot of creativity ready to let loose, I would not consider myself an expert in the newest craft I have taken on: sewing.  I mess up.  A lot.  But I feel that messing up is often the best way to learn.  (Hopefully I won’t waste too much money in the process)   My hope is that, through this blog, I can show others that learning is the key, not perfection.  I am a lifelong learner, and I’m not embarrassed to make mistakes (most of the time), so I will post the good, the bad and the ugly for all to see.  I’d also like to use this blog as a way to track my journey as I take on this new crafting life and hopefully generate some products that might make other people ecstatic.

Some other parts of the “crazy” in Crafting Crazy:

  • I don’t follow directions all the time.  Need to work on that.
  • I knit.
  • I can be a bit obsessive in some areas.
  • I bake sometimes.  I used to bake all the time, but now that I have kids I think I’ll be baking a lot more.  I will post cooking and baking things from time to time because I do feel that food is a craft all unto itself.
  • I scrapbook, though I haven’t in quite some time.  Perhaps some of that will come through in my projects- we’ll see!
  • I recently moved into a house that needs lots of TLC without lots of cash.  How does one solve this?  One gets crafty, I think.  Home improvement posts will also show up here and there.

Please check out my other blog here.  I wanted to start Crafting Crazy because I don’t want my kids to have to sift through posts about their childhood and come across eight million posts about sewing, crafting and cooking in the mix.  I hope they’ll thank me later.

Thanks for stopping by!   Please leave a comment if you do- I love to know when people are reading my posts!

And since a few people have asked already, yes, those are my eyes in my header.

What was I thinking?

….or WAS I even thinking?  Not sure.  I will have more to post about this soon, but thought this might entertain some of my crafty friends.  If you hear moans and groans of frustration, it’s probably me.

The Mantle Refurb

I recently posted about our house, displaying a ridiculous amount of photos of it.  I didn’t show too much of our mantle/fireplace area because I knew this post was coming. This area of our house needs some major remodeling, but we’re going to have to wait for a while before we can get to it.  When we were doing the major clean-up before we moved in, one thing I did was paint the brick fireplace a clean white, which really helped.  I couldn’t get past the mantle- it has been used and loved and now, as you can see below, it is covered with scratches and wear and tear.  I have longed for a mantle for years, but was a bit deflated with this one because it is just plain tired.  And who can blame it?   It’s probably about as old as I am!

Before:  tired, scratched, worn, you get the idea

(Do you like the Kleenex boxes stacked to the left of the clock?  I think we were winding up a “sickie” phase at the time of sewing.  And those are Anna’s play cupcakes to the right.)

I headed to our local Home Fabrics store.  That place is dangerous!  I bought a ridiculous amount of fabric and got to sewing.  I am so (sew) happy with the end result.  It was really easy, too- I’d show a tutorial or something but I was too dang excited to get this thing on and I didn’t take any pictures.  I love how it hangs, how it looks, etc.  I thought I might have to hot glue it on there, but the frames and such seem to be holding it on just perfect.  The other thing I did (not shown) was I sewed a secret pocket on one end to stash our keys for the gas fire-place.  They were always hidden behind a frame and I was worried they would get lost.


Basically I cut a realllllly long piece of the fabric to cover both the top and the overhang.  I finished the sides and then folded them over and hemmed them.  Then I cut two squares for the ends and sewed it all together.  Hooray for improvisation!  Now we just need to decide what to hang above the mantle.  Someday maybe we’ll have a flat screen up there, but for now….  Any ideas?

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