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‘Crafts’ Category

  1. It’s been a while.

    July 5, 2015 by Daniora

    I know, I know. I haven’t updated in ages. In fact, the last post I wrote was about how I hadn’t written any posts.

    I’ve always said that the hardest thing about keeping up a blog is that when I have the time to write, I don’t have anything interesting to write about, and that when I have things to write about, I’m far too busy to actually do it. We are soundly in that second category right now.

    In about 3 1/2 weeks, I’m going to Nerdtacular, a geeky convention out in Utah. I am incredibly excited about going, but this also means that every spare second is dedicated to preparation. I’ve got three major things on my plate.

    1. Nerdy dress commission: This first one is simultaneously the easiest and trickiest to accomplish. I was asked by a friend of mine for a custom nerdy dress she could wear to conventions. She picked out some Star Wars fabric that she liked. It’s a quilting cotton, so the actual sewing and construction of the dress is easy. The trickier parts lie in the fact that she lives far away. So I’m relying on the measurements she sent me and sending a muslin mock up to her to try in order to get a good fit. This sort of thing always makes me nervous. I’m sure it’ll all be fine, but it’s stressful. She would like to have it for Nerdtacular, but it was a last minute thing and she understands that I have a lot of other stuff going on too. Still, it would be good promotion to have people compliment her on it and ask her where she got it.

    2. TadShop: I don’t have enough products to sell to warrant getting my own vendor table at the convention. It turns out that I’m not the only one. As a result, a group of my artist friends and I have banded together to form what we are calling The TadShop (long story). We have purchased a total of three tables and divided it up so everyone has their own space. I have, as you may have noticed, rather an eclectic variety of things that I make. Trying to decide what to sell at the convention was tricky. What I wound up doing was figuring out the kinds of things that I buy when I go to conventions. When I really stopped to think about it, there was a definite commonality to almost everything I tend to buy. As a result, Instant Cosplay was born. These are the kinds of accessories and jewelry that you can put on and pair with a geeky t-shirt for your comfortable, non-cosplay day at a convention. That way, you’re still letting your nerd flag fly, but on a more casual level. I’ve got resin horns (like the ones I’m so fond of buying at the renaissance faire), Steampunk miniature top hats and goggles, fleece hats with animal ears, and a few little other odds and ends as I come up with them. Instant Cosplay: Just Add Nerd.

    3. Cosplay: It wouldn’t be a convention if I wasn’t dressing up. Besides, I have a title to uphold. Actually, I came in third last year. This year I’m aiming my sights rather higher. I’ve chosen Widowmaker from Blizzard’s upcoming game Overwatch. There will be a lot of future posts dedicate to this topic, so I’m not going to get into it too much here, but to say that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew would be an understatement.

    In spite of this insurmountable pile of projects, I’m still optimistic.  Finding the balance between these three massive projects is the key. I’ve got detailed to do lists and have commandeered every flat surface in the house as project space. So far, I’m doing a fairly good job bouncing back and forth between projects as needed. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep my momentum. I’ve changed jobs at work, so now at least I’m not coming home physically exhausted like I was. That certainly makes it easier to get things accomplished in the evenings. I’m going to keep rolling with the punches and hope that nothing completely disastrous happens. ::knock wood:: My hope is that these blog posts will serve as a chance for me to take stock of my progress and reevaluate things on a regular basis.

    So, here we go…

  2. Typographic Art

    November 21, 2013 by Daniora


    They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. There are times, though, when a dozen or so words can make a very pretty picture.

    Typographic art is very popular these days. And for good reason. Text based art is can be adapted to any style, mood, or theme. It can be painted, a decal, or framed. It’s also really easy to do yourself. I used Photoshop for my own text art project, but even something as simple as Word will work. There are lots of great resources for free fonts, being my favorite. If you’re one of those people with lovely handwriting or someone who does calligraphy, you can make them by hand instead of producing them digitally.

    Commercially made text prints and vinyl decals are readily available just about anywhere that sells home goods or framed art. There are also plenty available on Etsy, either as prints or as downloadable files you can print yourself.  With just a little time and some creativity, though, you can put together your own text art that will perfectly suit your specific taste and needs.

    My kitchen is a hallway. It’s a long, thin room with a pretty awkward wall at the far end. That wall was empty for months after we moved in. I thought for a while that I would try and create some sort of window type of wall art, since the kitchen lacks any openings other than the doorway. I tried finding something that would suit my needs, but nothing seemed quite right. I also ran into the added challenge of having to choose something that wouldn’t be too obtrusive since the sink is right against the wall. The last thing I needed was to hang something that we would knock off the wall every time we did the dishes.


    Then I wound up with a pile of frames from a yard sale. There were four matching 8×10 black frames. I decided they would fit perfectly in the space that I had to work with. It was then just a question of finding something to put into them.

    I thought at first that some food-based photographs or illustrations would work. Again, I scoured the internet, but I didn’t find anything that really caught my attention. When I was browsing on Etsy, I did find a few posters that were typographic art of quotes regarding food. I liked them, but none really fit my needs, and I couldn’t find four that went together.

    Well, this art degree has to be good for something. I sat down to find quotes about food and cooking that fit my personality. A quick Google search yielded more results than I could handle. I had to pare it down to four, content in the fact that when I got bored with these, I could always swap them out for new ones.  It was then a fairly simple matter of choosing fonts and arranging the words in a pleasing manner. I added colored backgrounds, y’know, for color. One could just as easily put the text over a stock photo or something with a little more interesting than a plain color field, but this worked better for my purposes.

    Once I was happy with the way they looked, I took the file down to my local Staples to have them printed on card stock. I could have printed them at home, but having them printed out had a couple advantages. The first was that with a colored background I’d be using a TON of very expensive ink. A color print on card stock usually runs about $1. Secondly, with large fields of color like these, I find laser printing generally looks a lot smoother. All I had to do then was trim them out, frame them up, and hang them.

    The finished product.

    The finished product.

    Of course, hanging them is easier said that done. I know, they’re not perfectly even. Then tend to not hang perfectly straight. In spite of that, I adore them. They’ve been up for almost a year and I have not yet felt compelled to change out the quotes yet, so I must have chosen well.

    As a bonus, here’s the file of the prints that hang in my kitchen. Feel free to use them yourself!

    Additional bonus. Kinetic typography is a thing. There are videos. I adore them. Here’s one all about words.

  3. Emma’s Nemo Dress

    November 14, 2013 by Daniora


    Strike a pose!

    I mentioned the other day that independent pattern designers are becoming very popular, especially with the kids’ clothing set. I happen to agree with this. The patterns are generally reasonably priced (though not as cheap as when I buy my paper patterns on sale for a dollar) and most have the added benefit of being an instant download pdf. Who doesn’t love instant gratification?

    One of my absolute favorite independent designers is Jen over at Tie Dye Diva Patterns. Her patterns are impeccably drafted, and her instructions are always crystal clear. Even better, she has a very active Facebook community page, so if you do have a question, you can ask her directly.

    While most commercial paper patterns are printed on large (36″x48″) pieces of paper, most instant download patterns are designed to be printed on standard letter size paper and taped together. All you have to do is print and assemble them, then cut whatever size you need. I’ve read a tip about using tissue paper to trace the size you need, but I haven’t gotten around to giving that a try yet.


    Finding Nemo? More like Found Nemo.

    When Sue told me Emma was having a Finding Nemo themed birthday party, I offered to make a dress. Unfortunately, Nemo fabric is hard to come by. I was able to find a really cute Nemo applique from The Enchanted Hollow on Etsy.


    When it arrived, I was delighted with the quality, but was a little concerned about the size. There were several size choices available, and I thought maybe I had gone a little crazy and gotten one a bit too big. I got over that and decided it would work well on one of the Tie Dye Diva “Perfect A-line” dresses. I found a cute teal corduroy with silver sparkle. The lining (though actually, the dress is designed to be reversible) is an orange print. I put the Nemo applique down the bottom. The simplicity of the dress and the solid colored fabric were perfect to go with the somewhat over-sized applique.


    All I had to do was add a couple of orange buttons and it was all set for Little One’s birthday. She loved her dress and just kept pointing at the applique and exclaiming “Nemo!” That’s what makes sewing for the kidlets so much fun.


    “Nemo, Nemo, Nemo, Nemo, Nemo!”

  4. My Autumn Wreath

    November 12, 2013 by Daniora


    Apologies for the fuzzy iPhone photos. In my determination to get this project completed, I neglected to photograph it as well as I should have.

    Since my Halloween wreath is still sitting about 90% finished next to my crafting table, I was determined to get my Thanksgiving one up in a more timely manner.

    I wanted something autumnal but not specifically Thanksgiving. I needed something that I could put up for more than a few weeks.  I went browsing around the web and found this precious yarn and felt argyle wreath on Etsy. In my typical fashion, I thought “Hey, I can make that.”

    Let me start by saying that I don’t think I’ll be making another yarn wrapped wreath any time soon. It. Took. Ages.


    The difficulty was compounded by the fact that I used a flat ring wreath form instead of a round one. So I’d be going along, wrapping the yarn nicely and then realize that, because the outer circumference is larger than the inner one, that my wrapping was no longer straight. So then I’d have to do this weird wedge backtrack wrapping thing to try and straighten it back out again. Nonsense.

    Once I got the wreath form wrapped, it was time to put the argyle pattern together. I measured out a diamond that I thought would look good and started cutting them out of the two colors of felt. I wasn’t worried about filling the entire space since I was making my little felt owl who would cover any gap in the pattern.  Once the diamonds were glued down, I used a dark purple yarn to crisscross over them completing the argyle.

    ArgyleWreath1Then it was on to the decorations. I found a pattern for a felt owl over at Bugs and Fishes. He went together pretty fast. Then it was just a matter of putting together a few quick felt flowers (another tutorial I’ll have to do in the future) and viola! A wreath. On my door. In time for the holiday!

    How shiny is the paint on our door? Holy cow

    How shiny is the paint on our door? Holy cow.

    Wreaths are one of those things I have come to love about having a place of our own. Wreaths and door mats. The rest of the house may be a disaster a lot of the time, but my front door is always inviting.

  5. Auntie’s Fairies: A pattern review

    November 5, 2013 by Daniora

    Little ladies

    There are a couple of highlight events that we participate in every year. One of them is PAX East, in the spring. The other is King Richard’s Faire, every fall in Carver. The Faire is like my costume Olympics. This year was pretty tame; I only made two and a cloak. Last year I had 8!! costumes that I made. So far next year is already looking like it’ll be another big year.

    One of the problems I run into with doing a lot of costumes for the little ones is that I can’t start them too far in advance; I’ve run into problems with them sprouting up in the time between when I take their measurements and when the Faire happens. As a result, I have to find patterns that are quick, easy, and reliable.

    There’s been a lot of backlash lately in some of my online sewing groups against the big pattern companies (Simplicity, McCalls, Butterick, Vogue) in favor of independent designers. I’m all for supporting small business and independent artists. They are fantastic. I’ve also run into some less than stellar patterns from the big companies. For now, though, finding the costume pieces I need from a small designer is tough to do, and I haven’t quite reached the level where drafting my own patterns is practical. So I keep buying the big patterns when they go on sale for a dollar or two and, as my husband can tell you, I’ve created quite a collection.

    One of my absolute favorites is Simplicity 1792: The Disney Fairies.


    Simplicity 1792: Toddlers’ and Child’s Disney Fairies Costume Sewing Pattern

    For the last two years, Auntie Mimi’s little girls have been pretty, poofy fairies. These costumes are a delight to sew and are so adorable. The fabric requirements are fairly minimal, which means that you can splurge a bit and get some of the fancier special occasion fabrics to make your fairy a little extra sparkly.

    Because it gets a little chilly here in New England in the fall, they usually wear long sleeves and tights under their dresses, but it doesn’t take away from the cute factor of these costumes.

    My favorite part about making these is putting together the tulle layers. It’s a little tricky and you wind up with a circle about 6 yards in circumference that gets gathered down to a little 20 inch waist. It’s crazy. Since the skirt is so full, it bounces and sways as the little ones run around. They always turn heads, especially in a group (It helps that they are completely adorable little girls).

    I will say that having a serger definitely comes in handy for this pattern. The waist is made up of the bodice, two layers of petals, two layers of tulle, and a cotton lining. This can get a little… out of hand.


    So many layers and loose threads.

    However, one quick pass on the serger and everything is all neat and tidy. This is even more important since a lot of the costume and special occasion fabrics that make a fairy sparkle and shimmer have a tendency to fray pretty badly. Plus, a nice finished edge is much more comfortable for little ones to wear.


    Neat and tidy!

    For that little something extra, I whipped up some double layer fabric flowers. Two of my little ones got headbands, one got a hair clip. I’ll do a tutorial on them soon, since they were so fast to make and created such a big impact.


    I think I could dress my little ladies up as fairies forever. Watching them dance around and run through the trees, it’s hard not to believe in magic.

  6. Ava’s Hello Kitty Birthday

    November 2, 2013 by Daniora

    Kitty with a sugar pearl necklace.

    Are we glossing over the fact that I haven’t posted anything in over a year and a half? Yes, yes we are.

    My little buddy Ava turned 4 this spring. She wanted to have a Hello Kitty themed birthday. She asked her mom if Auntie Mimi would make her a Hello Kitty cake. Of course Auntie Mimi would make her a Hello Kitty cake.


    Since Ava is our little princess, a castle cake seemed to be the right answer. My girl loves pink too, obviously. Since there were going to be a whole bunch of people there, I went ahead and made some Hello Kitty cupcakes to go with it.

    Picture 433Picture 432

    While I’m not the biggest fan of Wilton’s fondant (the taste, mostly), there were two Wilton products that I fell in LOVE with.

    The first is one of their silicone fondant press molds (I used the global one). They’re super easy to use and make really beautiful impressions. All I did was loosely press a piece of fondant into the mold, then used a small plastic rolling pin to roll it flat into the mold. Once the excess fondant had been rolled out, I could just peel the pieces out of the mold and trim around the edges. Simple!


    The basic castle shape. You can really see the details from the fondant mold.

    The other are their sugar pearls. They come in a variety of soft colors (I got pink, of course). They were the perfect flower centers and accents to my fondant pieces. I just pressed them into the fondant while it was still soft, and they stuck perfectly. A word of caution. They are roly poly and will get away from you if you let them.

    Perfect centers for flowers

    Perfect centers for flowers

    Picture 429

    Sugar pearls….. everywhere.

    Kitty with a sugar pearl necklace.

    Kitty with a sugar pearl necklace.








    In addition to the cake, because that’s never enough, I made a party dress for Ava.

    Ava's Party Dress

    Pretty in pink.

    It was my first time using the pre-smocked fabric. It was really super simple, but I don’t know that I’d do it again. It sort of feels like cheating. It’s really only one seam and sewing on the straps. It’s also fairly pricey, running around $0.50 an inch (I know that doesn’t sound like much, but it comes out to $18 a yard!) It did turn out pretty cute, though.  Of course, the attitude sells it.

    Attitude for days!

    Attitude for days!

    I love doing stuff for the kids’ birthdays. Any excuse for a celebration.

  7. Ava and Emma’s Quilts

    April 3, 2012 by Daniora

    I would like to apologize for the color quality on the images in this post. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I took these pictures.

    Companion quilts

    Ava and Emma are sisters and two of the most precious little girls on the planet. When I decided to make quilts for them, I wanted to make two that would go together and that would reflect their playful attitudes. Ava is two (almost three!) and Emma is still pretty new, so I wanted to make something kid friendly, but not something they would grow out of in a couple of years. The Moda “Amelia” line was absolutely perfect. Since I wanted the quilts to go together, I chose a pattern from another of my favorite jelly roll books, Two from One Jelly Roll Quilts. I wound up using the same pattern for both quilts, but I swapped out the dominant color; one pink, one blueish purple.

    Emma's Quilt

    Ava's quilt


    Each quilt is made up of a series of nine patch blocks, some with borders, some without, alternating with special blocks designed to make it look like the blocks are overlapping. I was able to make all the nine patch blocks for both quilts at the same time.  Then I made all the other blocks and assembled the quilt tops. My biggest complaint with any of the Lintott jelly roll patterns is that their borders are never big enough. I opted to put a thin black border and a wider colored border to match the dominant color in the quilt. I love the way the black really makes the patterns in the other fabrics pop.

    These are also the first two quilts that I’ve quilted using the longarm machine. My favorite local quilt shop, Bits and Pieces, does machine rentals. You can bring in your quilt and use their machines to quilt it. The fantastic thing is that they have the computer driven machines that you only have to program and it does most of the work for you. This is so fantastic and definitely on the top of my wishlist for when I have way more money and space than I do now. Both quilts have a solid pink backing (cute backing fabric is so hard to find), so I wanted to pick different quilting patterns for each. One has a star pattern and the other has an adorable loopy daisy pattern.

    A loopy daisy pattern I used for one of the quilts.

    I also tried a new binding technique for these quilts. I’m terrible at hand sewing and I don’t trust my stitches to stand up to the kind of wear that I hope these quilts will get. As a result, I’ve been machine sewing all my bindings. The thing is, until these, I’ve been doing it all wrong. I had been sewing the binding to the front, turning it, and then blind sewing it to the back. I always wound up with uneven binding on the back, which I would then hide with a decorative stitch. A little poking around online and I discovered that the way better plan is to stitch the binding to the back of the quilt, fold it to the front and then sew. I did still use a decorative stitch and a variegated thread to make everything just a little cuter.

    Binding stitch with variegated thread.

    I loved making these quilts and I hope my little girlfriends enjoy them for years to come.

  8. Jo’s Knitting Bag

    January 25, 2012 by Daniora

    There’s probably no one that appreciates a handmade gift better than a fellow crafter. This past Christmas, I tried to keep the number of gifts I had to make down from my usual unrealistic goals. I couldn’t help making this kitting bag for my very talented friend Jo.

    Jo's Knitting BagJo, whose amazing work can be seen here, is a fiber artist extraordinaire. She spins, knits, crochets, and now weaves. There is nothing this girl can’t do. It seems like she’s always going off to meet with one group or another or take a class here or there. What better gift could I give her than a bag to carry all her supplies in?

    Given her love of sheep and sheep related products, I figured they would be the obvious choice for fabric for her bag. How happy was I to find knitting sheep along with two awesome coordinating fabrics?

    How cute is this knitting sheep?

    This bag pattern was really great. It’s a ton of pieces, which worried me, but it actually went together really smoothly. It’s got lots of pockets on the outside, and the inside has plenty of space for anything you might want to carry.

    Knitting Bag Lining

    Cute lining fabric with knitting phrases.

    Since giving Jo her bag a couple weeks ago, I’ve received orders for three more in varying fabrics. I guess the bag market might be something I want to look in to.

  9. The joy of washi tape

    January 25, 2012 by Daniora

    It’s no secret that I enjoy wrapping presents almost as much as I enjoy buying them. It’s also no secret that I love cute things from Japan. When browsing around for new and unexpected ways to wrap presents, I came across an article on about using washi tape to create your own stripped wrapping paper. A quick hunt for a washi tape source led me to I could spend millions of hours and thousands of dollars there.

    Some of my favorite washi tape from

    For those not in the know, washi tape is a printed Japanese masking tape made from, of course, washi paper. They come in a variety of widths and patterns. carries a huge variety at much lower prices that most of the other online distributors. They also carry other packaging items, like bakery twine and hanging tags, and other adorable goodies from Japan. One of my favorite things about is their variety packs. It’s a great way to get several coordinating rolls rather than trying to pick them out individually.

    In addition to being used for wrapping, there are a ton of other crafts that can be done with washi tape. It can be used on cards and in scrap books, it adds to any paper project, and I’ve even seen flowers made out of strips of washi tape. With the variety of sizes and designs available, there’s no limit to what you can do with it. is running a contest right now for a $100 or $200 shopping spree at their store. My friends, that kind of money buys an awful lot of printed masking tape. Even so, trying to narrow down my choices from the huge inventory would be almost insurmountable. I think I’d find a way to manage, though.

    Imagine the crafty projects we could embark on together, dear reader, with that kind of resources at our finger tips. I’ve been big into paper quilling lately, and I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that washi tape could lead to some pretty awesome results. Look forward to more washi tape goodies in the future.

    Also, these kitty sticky tabs make me want to die from adorable.

    Zomg, adorable.


  10. Finding Patterns

    September 23, 2011 by Daniora

    Finding Patterns

    Great patterns can come from almost anywhere.

    With both Halloween and Christmas right around the corner, this is one of my busiest crafting times of the year. When making stuff to sell, you generally have to make your patterns from scratch, but when making gifts for others, finding a pattern that suits your needs can be a huge time saver. There are plenty of places around the web that can help you get your hands on these patterns quickly and cheaply.

    1. Simplicity, McCalls, and Butterick: Unless I’m in a bind, I’ll only buy these patterns when they’re on sale for one or two dollars at my local Joann Fabrics. However, looking around online can help you make a shopping list for the sale. These usually occur on the weekends, and the pattern books can be crowded. If you’ve got a list of pattern numbers, you can skip the browsing and head straight to the pattern drawers. These patterns are great for costumes, clothing, and some gift items like bags or purses. These site also sell a variety of supplies and notions that can be hard to find at your local fabric store.

    Note: I generally don’t use any patterns from Vogue. They tend to be overly complex and don’t usually go on sale. Vogue also carries very few patterns for the type of items I make.

    2. Etsy: This is one of my new favorite places to look for inexpensive and unique patterns. They’ve got everything from sewing and quilting to knitting and crochet. Many of them are available as PDF downloads and will arrive in your email inbox within a few hours of your purchase.  This instant gratification allows you to get to the crafting faster. Another added benefit is that many pattern designers allow you to use their patterns to make things to sell, at least in limited quantities. Etsy is also a great place to find out-of-print patterns from the larger companies. These are usually pricier, and you have to make sure the listing states that it is uncut and complete.

    3. Moda Bake Shop, Connecting Threads, Freespirit Fabric: These are three great places to find free quilt patterns. They are available as downloadable PDFs that can be printed when you need them. In addition to traditional quilt patterns, there are also a variety of quilted gifts including stockings, bags, and these adorable floor pillows. If you have a favorite fabric line, be sure to check out their website. Many fabric designers also put out free patterns that they feel will best showcase their prints.

    4. Books: There are an endless number of books devoted to any craft you can think of. Most contain instructions or patterns that you can copy. It’s easy to wind up with a large pile of these books, so check and see if your local library has any books on the subject. While brand new fiction books can be hard to get your hands on at the library, the crafting section is usually well stocked. To top it off, most libraries have copy machines, so you can get your patterns copied before you even get the book home.

    A larger number of crafting books are also becoming available as e-books. One of the nice things about this format is that they are easy to carry, easy to store, and you don’t have to figure out how to hold the book open while you’re working. If you don’t have an e-reader that does color, however, you might want to skip this format; many of these books lose a lot when only in black and white.

    5. Magazines: I especially love special issues of magazines, like those devoted to special holidays or one particular craft. Some of my favorite special issues come from Martha Stewart and Better Homes & Gardens. The best specialty crafting magazines tend to be available at large bookstores and craft stores, but I’ve even picked up some great ones while waiting in line at the grocery store. The benefit to a magazine over a book is that they tend to be less expensive and have a wider variety of projects. They’re a great introduction when you’re getting into something new. These will also include patterns, often as a pull out section on a special pattern paper, no need for copying.

    6: Google: It’s amazing the results you can get just by Googling the pattern you’re looking for. I’ve had great success with things like “Free Stocking Pattern” or “Plush Bunny Pattern”. You might have to refine your search as you go, specifying whether you’re looking for a sewing pattern or one for crochet or knitting, but you can almost always be guaranteed good results. Google is also really great for solving any problems you might be having.  Starting your search with “How do I” can often find the answer you’re looking for in the first couple of links. Don’t be afraid to use too many words in your search; you can always remove some if you’re not getting the results you’re after. The internet is full of blogs and sites dedicated to the hobbies people love, and they are almost always willing to share their knowledge and experience with you.

    Searching for instructions and patterns online is a great way to kick start your projects and often save you time and money as well. Start saving your favorite free patterns today!