Sponsorship Changes in time for 2014 Holidays

Let’s start with the obligatory “I don’t even want to think about the holidays yet!” Chances are, though, you’ve already been thinking about the holidays if you run your own business. Especially if you run a handmade business.

We’ve made some changes to our sponsorship options in time for the 2014 holidays. There are no changes to what we’re looking for in a Crafty Partner, and those requirements are the same for our new option – Creative Buddies! We will give preference to handmade businesses, but what we’re really looking for are independent creators and artists who provide quality work and great customer service.

Crafty Partners get the spot immediately below our social media links over there on the sidebar. There are three spots available. Banners will be shuffled on page load, but all three display at all times. This is a 250 x 100 pixel banner, and you will get regular promotion on our Twitter feed during the month. This is a great choice if you want to get the word out about your business on Twitter but are not a regular Tweeter yourself.

Creative Buddies have a 125 x 125 pixel space below the Crafty Partners. We can accept up to six Creative Buddies at a time and your ad will be shown for 30 days, just like the Crafty Partners. Again, ads are shuffled but are displayed at all times.The price is an ad swap – you display our ad and we’ll display yours. This is a great option if you would like to get your name out there to a broader audience but have already reached the limits of your holiday advertising budget.

Take a look at our sponsorship options and information, and feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

New Framed Cross-Stitch Art – Witches Stitches

We’ve already released the pattern for you stitchers out there, and now you can own the completed Witches Stitches art in our shop!  This one was a lot of fun to stitch up and both of us took turns doing so.  You can still pick it up in time for Halloween and be able to show it to all of your friends who love puns as much as you do!  Or, you can keep it all to yourself.  Whatever works for you!

Tutorial : Bleach Pen Mandala Shirt

If you’ve got a little time to waste this weekend and some old shirts that you aren’t ready to throw out but really don’t like looking at, I’ve got something for you to do! We recently covered how to draw a mandala. Now we’re going to talk about how to draw one with a bleach pen.

I did this last Sunday afternoon with a ratty old shirt worn for painting and mowing the yard, a Clorox Bleach Pen, and a piece of cardboard that came from the side of a box. I’ve been told you need to soak the shirt with baking soda when rinsing it out to neutralize the bleach. I don’t know how true that is, but I went ahead and did it so you also might want to have a little baking soda on hand. Maybe two tablespoons.

The darker petals in the mandala in the photo above are just a trick of the light. You can see, though, that the shirt has a couple of small holes, some fading, paint splatters, and is just generally worn out. It was the perfect shirt to try this with… no way I could ruin the shirt if it didn’t work. I’d suggest doing the same until you get the hang of drawing with the bleach pen. Worst case, the shirt isn’t really any worse. Best case, you’ve given new life to an old rag!

I slipped a big piece of corrugated cardboard from the side of a box into the shirt so the bleach wouldn’t go through to the back.  I want to say a piece of wax paper or butcher paper would probably also work, but I don’t know for certain. If you’ve done something similar before and know it will work, or want to be brave and adventurous with this project, you can try one of those if you don’t have access to a cardboard box.

Decide where you want to start the center of your mandala.  I wanted to disguise that hole in the shirt, but didn’t want it to become a hole at the center of the mandala. I started near there. This is a great way to create some cool off-center designs, so you don’t have to start right in the middle of the shirt front. Mine is low and slightly to the right (from my point of view while wearing it.) You could make one for an expecting mother that puts the design right on her belly.

Shake your bleach pen, take the cap off, and start drawing! I had never used a bleach pen before, so I learned a few things doing this. You need to squeeze a little, but don’t squeeze too much. Just enough to make a white line is fine. I made some of my lines a little too thick and it was just a waste of bleach. It comes out as a sort of gel, so it doesn’t really spread everywhere, but you can make it stretch a lot further if you don’t use more than necessary.

I let mine sit for about 15-20 minutes when I was finished, and you can see that lines drawn earlier bleached more color out of the shirt than lines drawn toward the end. Keep this in mind when deciding what order to do your main lines and details in. You can make everything fade out from the center, or you can draw all of your main shapes and then go back and do smaller details so that the details look faded.

You might want to have a plan for what to draw. I didn’t this time, but I would if I did this on a shirt I bought for the project. Just winging it is kind of fun, but I did feel a sense of, “Need to keep drawing! Don’t let the bleach sit too long!” (But don’t make yourself rush! I think I spent around half an hour drawing mine.) If you think that might lock your brain up, sketch out your ideas on a piece of paper first.

If you’re familiar with using paint pens and such, you might have good control for getting finer lines and smaller details. If not… well, you don’t see the variance in line weight on my shirt that you saw in the mandalas I draw on paper. Just like drawing a mandala on paper, though, don’t worry too much over a mistake. Work with it. Let it be part of your unique design.

After I let the shirt sit for the bleach to take effect, I just picked the whole thing up – cardboard still inside – and carried it off to the bathtub to rinse. We have a detachable shower head, which I used for the first part of rinsing the shirt. The gel dried a little. Not to the point of being hard, but it didn’t start running down the shirt, either. After I turned the water in the shower on, I whipped the cardboard out of the shirt and quickly stuck the shirt under the water.

After rinsing, I put the shirt in the sink with water and a little baking soda to soak for about five minutes. Then I thoroughly rinsed the shirt and hung it to dry.

You could do a lot of things to a shirt with a bleach pen. Fancy name writing, a favorite quote… anything you can draw or write in just one color. The color will, of course, depend on the color of the shirt and how long you let it sit after drawing. I wouldn’t suggest using any shirt that is so light in color that a small bleach spot might go unnoticed. And make sure you get the bleach pen made for whites. This is one time you do NOT want to use color-safe bleach, so make sure you’re also wearing a shirt that it’s okay to get bleach on. I didn’t have that happen while I was doing this, but why take chances? I suggest buying a new bleach pen for this project so you’ll know it’s not too old or about to run out. It’ll say on the package if it’s only intended for white fabrics.

Now you have a wearable piece of your own artwork!

What We’re Working On

Christmas crafting already? Yes! We’re well into October and have seen other crafters start on their Christmas projects in September. We had all our planning done by the end of September. Actual Christmas crafting has now started with David working on a gift for one of our nephews. I’ll be handling gifts for the nieces this year… after I get mine and David’s Halloween costumes out of the way.

I finished the Flower POW Mug Rug! Almost immediately, I turned back to my little box of hexies, fabric squares, and hexie templates. I’ve decided I’m going to make a small throw pillow. Even with it being small, I’ll need over 200 of the hexies for it. (I have small hexies.) This is my side project/personal project, so it means the rainbow afghan is what gets put on hold. Maybe I’ll have that finished for next winter.

I’m learning ways to hide the stitches on joining hexies! These are part of a pincushion I’m making. The more time I spend with the hexies, the more I want a little pincushion to keep in the box. After making one for David and time spent making biscornu, I think I’m really coming to enjoy pincushions as a relaxing project that doesn’t take a lot of time to do.

This was my weekend project on Sunday afternoon, so it’s no longer a work-in-progress, but there is a post about it in the works. This is a ratty old yardwork shirt, so testing something crafty on it could only result in an improvement or an inability to actually ruin the shirt. I’m going to say it ended up being a big improvement! The post on how to make your own mandala shirt will be coming soon.

English Paper Piecing and My Neighbor Totoro

We’ve got one more pattern to release this year, but I’m taking a short break after getting the Witches Stitches pattern out. That just means a short break from things planned for our store. My crafting “breaks” are really spent working on personal projects.

This is the pincushion I made for David last week. I made a couple of hexies with the English Paper Piecing method back in the spring for a hoop art piece, but hadn’t done it again. Cutting out the templates was hard on my hand, most of the tutorials I saw used hexagon shaped fabric pieces that would mean more cutting, there were other projects to work on… It just didn’t seem to be for me, even if an individual hexie was quick and easy.

Rebecca from Hugs Are Fun! tempted me into giving them another try. “Maybe,” I said. “Maybe a small project. Maybe…” And suddenly everything looked like it needed to be made with hexies!

This solves the cutting templates issue. I can just punch out a whole stack of identical hexie templates in a minute or two! And Rebecca was kind enough to share a picture tutorial on how to make hexies with square bits of fabric, which is much faster and easier for me to cut.

A week later, I’m working on CraftyPod’s Flower POW Mug Rug. (We became aware of CraftyPod in the earliest days of Craftypodes when search engines kept asking if that’s what we actually meant to type.) Diane Gilleland is amazing at writing directions for a project!

Look at all the shapes! Okay, just four shapes. But that’s a lot for someone who just did their first EPP project a week before. You can see my progress on our Instagram feed.

We don’t have any plans for EPP projects for the store yet. I’m enjoying doing this on my own time, and we’ve already got projects planned well into next year for Craftypodes.

I’ve also been trying to find more anime to watch. Most of the time I have for watching is while I craft, so I’d prefer dubbed rather than subtitled. Sadly, I often seem to prefer the subtitled versions. It’s also difficult for me to find anime I enjoy because I am, apparently, really picky about it. I’ve enjoyed Dragonball, but I’m not all that interested in Dragonball Z. I don’t like Naruto. I liked Death Note, A Certain Magical Codex, Lady Death, and I’m really enjoying seeing Sailor Moon for the first time! I’ve tried to get into Hellsing and can’t understand why it’s not grabbing me, but it’s not.

Someone suggested Howl’s Moving Castle to me months ago and I finally got around to watching it. I can see why so many anime fans go wild over Studio Ghibli films! The only one I’d seen before was Spirited Away. I loved Howl’s Moving Castle, and this led to a conversation with Shawna from Scrawny Girl and Tessa from Krmbal about how everyone just loves My Neighbor Totoro and me needing to find out what the big deal is about it.

Oh my stars and purple horseshoes! This movie is everything I want from anime, except for the fact that it wasn’t long enough and there wasn’t enough of Totoro in it! So, of course, this ended up being part of my crafting. (My rainbow afghan will never be finished if I keep sewing instead!)

I traced around a couple of hexies with my marker that washes out. Then I drew characters from the movie on both hexies and embroidered them. This Totoro is about an inch tall. Just under an inch and a quarter if you count his ears.

I sewed the hexies together, back-to-back, with a little bit of ribbon sewn in a loop at the top. Handstitched Totoro keychain!

Taking time to try new things and work on personal projects not only keeps me from burning out, but lets me learn new skills that will make their way into our work. Remember to take time for yourself. It’s not selfish. It’s a necessary part of being a healthy, well-functioning person. Take a break sometime soon and watch My Neighbor Totoro. Or learn English Paper Piecing. Or both!

New Cross-Stitch Pattern – Witches Stitches

Halloween is coming, and that’s a good time for telling stories. There’s a story behind this pattern.

The Witches Stitches cross-stitch pattern started as a joke. I had a few Wiccan friends some years back who were very into arts & crafts, which gave rise to all kinds of jokes about “being crafty”. It was really the term “quilt binding” that set this all off, though. The idea of witches having to cast binding spells on quilts… why was it necessary to bind quilts? Are they really all that dangerous?!

I drew the witch hat, spool of thread, and wand doing double-duty as a needle as a logo for a fictional seamstress shop where witches would do magical sewing. It went on shirts, mugs, etc. When David and I decided to start making our original stitched designs available as patterns, we knew this had to be stitched!

I find it easier to do the first draft of a pattern on graph paper and then clean it up as I copy it into the software.  There was an extra step for this one, though. I first redrew the picture onto the graph paper. I was very pleased that I could draw it again after about five years! Then I turned those long, sloping curves into stitchable lines. This was a little more challenging than I expected, and I’m afraid that’s why we’re getting the pattern out a couple of weeks later than intended.

We made up for some of that lost time by both working on the stitching.  I did a lot of the hat, but David stitched the wand before I could get to it. I was kind of looking forward to stitching that bit. He says he really liked doing it!

Warning: This is not a beginner pattern! The pattern includes a supplies list, pattern chart, and some tips, but it does not include instructions on how to make the stitches. You will need to know how to make a cross stitch, backstitch, 3/4 stitch, 1/4 stitch, and French Knot. The finished work measures about 5 1/8 inches by 7 1/2 inches on 14-count Aida cloth.

The joke did evolve over time to include things like a Handmade Arcane Goods (H.A.G.) Guild. Maybe that means there will be more patterns related to these fictional witches next Halloween. You can buy this pattern now through Craftsy for immediate download, or through our store and we will email your pattern to you within 24 hours.

Happy Halloween stitching!

1 2 3 38