Tuesday, March 31, 2015

More Spring Crafts . . . and Happy Blog Birthday!

Today is my blog's first birthday! I can't believe I've been writing these weekly posts (and a few extras, here and there) for a year. It has been a real learning experience, and I can't wait to get started on another year of crafting and blogging.

When I first starting posting, I did very little promotion. I wanted to make sure I could come up with a project each week--and write about it--before I went "public." My strategy worked, sort of, but it also kept some of my early projects from being seen. So, to celebrate the blog's birthday, I'm re-sharing a few crafts that appeared on the blog last March and April. Just click on the link below each picture and it will take you to the original page and directions. Enjoy!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Button-Covered Easter Egg

I've used buttons to decorate everything from ornaments to purses to pillows. So when I was trying to think of a crafty Easter egg project, I thought why not cover an egg in buttons? As you can see from the pictures here, I had quite a stash of red, aqua and purple buttons on hand. You can use any buttons you have, as long as they're flat and fairly small. If the buttons are too big, they won't fit on the curves of the egg. 

The directions for this project are pretty simple. I  just glued the buttons to the egg with craft glue.  I set the egg on a bottle caps to it them steady and glued on the buttons, working on one section of the egg at a time. Getting the buttons to fit together tightly is like putting together a puzzle, so it's good to have buttons in a variety of sizes. When the egg is dry, use it only for Easter decorating--not for Easter snacking.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Makeover for Rechenka

Rechenka the rag doll was born some time in the 1990s. I made her for my older daughter after we watched the episode of Reading Rainbow that featured the picture book Rechenka's Eggs by Patricia Polacco. It tells the story of an old Russian woman named Babushka, who creates beautiful pysanky eggs. Rechenka is the name Babushka gives to the goose that comes into her life miraculously.

I think the reading of the book and the making of the doll coincided. When I made the doll's dress out of colorful fabric I had, it reminded us of Patricia Polacco's colorful illustrations. I guess that's how the doll came to be called Rechenka. Although she was much loved for many years, the doll eventually started showing her age--her fabric was dingy and her braids had detached from her head (not a good look). Now that she's about 20 years old, I figured Rechenka deserved a makeover.

Top left : Pre-makeover Rechenka. Top right : Post-makeover Rechenka. Not drastic, but a definite improvement.

I started by giving her a bath in the washing machine on the gentle cycle. The fabric didn't come out like new, but it definitely looks fresher. After Rechenka air-dried, I performed a bit of surgery on her head. It always bothered me that loose strands of embroidery floss were visible through the fabric on the face. (I guess I was a messy stitcher back then.) I opened the side seam, snipped and removed the stray threads, and stitched Rechenka's head together again. Luckily I was able to conceal the seam when I tacked the braids back in place. To finish the makeover, I trimmed the frayed ends of the doll's hair and tied fresh ribbons around her braids and waist. 

Now Rechenka is all ready for Easter! I'm sure my daughter, who's now 24, will be happy to see that I finally got around to repairing her doll.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Easter Bunny Eggs

Easter is still a few weeks away, but it's not too early to start decorating Easter eggs. The best thing about these bunny eggs is that they require no messy dye. They do require craft glue, though, so it's definitely not a kids-only project.

To make each bunny, glue on wiggle eyes, a pink felt nose (I made mine with a hole punch), small pompom cheeks, and white paper teeth. While the glue dries, make the ears. Lightweight paper actually works better than card stock, I found. For each rabbit, cut a pair of ears that match the color of the egg. The top of the ears should be pointy, but the bottom should have a straight edge that can be folded into a tab for gluing. Cut inner ear pieces from pink paper and glue them to the center of the large ears. 

When the glue is dry on the facial features, use a black fine-tip permanent marker to draw an upper lip. If you want to conceal the top of the teeth, punch two circles from paper and glue them above the lip lines. (I did this for brown rabbit.)

To attach the ears, fold the bottom of the ears back, apply a thick dab of glue to the tabs, and press them into place. I wrapped a rubber band around the eggs to hold the tabs in place while the glue dried.

I would use these eggs for decorations only, not for eating. But if your kids are anything like my daughters were when they were little, that shouldn't be a problem. They didn't like hard-boiled eggs, and they wouldn't eat anything that was "too cute."

Monday, March 16, 2015

St. Patrick's Day Welcome Cards

I'm continuing my St. Patrick's Day celebration this week with another Irish-themed project. "Failte" is a Gaelic word that means "welcome," which I thought would be the perfect sentiment to stamp on these table decorations.

Each tag is made from four different layers. First, I used letter stamps to print "Failte" on beige paper. I cut those out, leaving just a small border around the letters, and then cut slightly larger rectangles from sage green card stock. To create an aged, metallic look, I dabbed a stiff paintbrush onto a copper ink pad and applied the ink to the edges of the sage rectangles. To make the patterned background paper, I used green ink to stamp two different Celtic knot rubber stamps (these are from All Night Media) onto a sheet of beige paper. I cut a piece from the patterned paper that's a bit bigger than the sage rectangles.

Assembling the tags requires no fancy craft supplies, just double-stick tape. For each tag, I taped a "Failte" rectangle to a copper-edged sage rectangle, and then taped that to the patterned background rectangle. The whole thing then gets taped to an even larger rectangle of green card stock. My paper has a pretty linen texture.

I used a small hole punch and twine to add hanging loops to the tags so they can be used as ornaments. The copper swirls are made from some extra wire I had in my craft supply stash. I just threaded the swirls onto the twine before I knotted it.  

So you're not a rubber stamper, but you'd like to make your own "Failte" table decorations? No problem. Instead of using letter stamps, hand-write "Failte" or use a Celtic font on your computer. You can substitute Irish-themed decorative paper for the hand-stamped background. Tomorrow's the big day, so you better get busy!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Cross-Stitched Irish Flag

St. Patrick's Day is a major celebration in my family. Actually, it's more of a season than a one-day holiday. The big event is my mother's annual dinner, where we eat corned beef, cabbage, colcannon and soda bread, drink Irish coffee and Bailey's, and wear our green. 

I planned on cross-stitching an Irish flag pin to wear this St. Patrick's Day. I knew I wanted the design to include a shamrock, the colors of the flag, and some Celtic-style patterns, but by the time I did that it was too big to be a pin. As you can see from the photo above, I ended up framing it instead of wearing it.

To make your own cross-stitched flag, just follow the chart below or click here to download and print a copy of the chart. I stitched the design with DMC floss in snow white (#B5200), Christmas green (#699), and orange spice (#742), but you can use any green and orange floss you like. The fabric is 18-count Fiddler's Aida. I used an oatmeal shade so the white floss would stand out.

Cross-Stitched Irish Flag    ©2015 Kathleen Berlew

By the way, the background I used for the photo is an Aran sweater I knitted for my husband when we were dating -- about 27 years ago! He brings it out once a year to wear to our St. Patrick's Day festivities. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Green Eggs and Ham Hoop

Do you like green eggs and ham? I do! So I made this green eggs and ham hoop to celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday.
Green eggs and ham patterns.

To make your own serving of green eggs and ham, print out the patterns, adjusting the size so the circle matches the size of your hoop (mine is 3" in diameter). Cut the egg whites from white felt (obviously), the large ham piece from dark green felt, and the small ham piece from bright green felt.

Place a piece of orange cotton fabric in your embroidery hoop and use matching embroidery floss and running stitch to sew the ham and egg pieces in place. Sew on small green buttons for the egg yolks and embroider the round ham bone with white floss.

When I made green eggs and ham, I wanted them to have black outlines like the illustrations in Dr. Seuss's books. To get that effect, I used two strands of black floss and embroidered in split stitch around all the pieces. I also added some detail lines on the egg whites, ham, and the orange background.

I didn't do anything fancy to finish the hoop. I just trimmed the extra fabric even with the hoop. Now I can hang it here, there or anywhere!