Threads of the Pattern

Posts Tagged ‘crafts

In the way that most preteens do, my daughter decided to wait until the very last moment to inform me that she had to have something for science on Monday that:
1. Had to fit into a brown paper bag bag the size of a lunchbox, and
2. Could be experimented upon.

The rules and regulations for said experimentation were dodged around and avoided, and then I learned it was because no matter what her teacher had suggested, she had decided she only wanted to experiment on those grow your own dinosaur tablet thingies. You know…the things that look like medicine and you put them into water and watch them burst out, roaring mightily! (or at least, they did in my imagination…)
So one trip to the Dollar Store later, we had dinosaur tablets and nothing to do with them. We decided she could try and see how they developed in water, salt water and….hey! How about slime?!

Oh. My. God. Do you have any idea how many recipes on the Internet are for Nickelodeon type slime?? Do you know how many of them involve Borax, Clear glue, liquid latex or anything else not easily found under your kitchen sink on a Sunday afternoon? Finally, when I was in the middle of reaching for the wine bottle in desperation, we came across one that stated it was borax free and perfectly safe! And so…a blogpost was born.

Ask.com‘s version of Borax free, Nickelodeon Slime.
(btw…when I think of slime…I thought of THIS. This,however, is not what my daughter wanted. We will definitely be making that though, on a very in the near future time frame. Cause that stuff is rad.)
Anyway, The ingredients are:
2 cups water
4 cup cornstarch
Food coloring of choice.

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The first thing I learned about making slime was this: my daughter can -not- scoop cornstarch! She had white powder substance -everywhere!- But that was ok…what experiments are neat and orderly?

Cornstarch, cornstarch everywhere!

Cornstarch, cornstarch everywhere!

We warmed the water on the stovetop, slowly adding in  cups of cornstarch. I stirred, she poured, and we both waited. I’m not sure what exactly we thought was going to happen, but we were a little dissapointed when all that we could see was white water.

I thought it was an excellent idea to use the strainer to prevent lumpy slime.

I thought it was an excellent idea to use the strainer to prevent lumpy slime.

So, we deviated from the plan. We added in a cup of flour, because surely 4 cups of cornstach was a lot?
We turned down the heat on the stove because that’s what the instructions said to do. It didn’t make sense to me, since every time I’ve used cornstarch in gravy you’re supposed to wait til it boils but…who am I to judge? I’m certainly not the expert in slime development!

Then we stirred. And stirred. And it just stayed…..blah. Milky. Weak!
So we added another cup of flour. And another cup of cornstarch. And we stirred.

Still milky water!

Still milky water!

I think it was about at this time that my daughter looked at me and said, ” Are you sure you didn’t just make this up?”
It was also at this point that I said to myself, ” The Internet lies!!!”
All in all, it wasn’t too bad. It came to a consistency very much like gravy, so we decided it into two bowls and added food coloring.

No, it wasn't Christmas time slime...just the food coloring we had the most!

No, it wasn’t Christmas time slime…just the food coloring we had the most!

My eldest daughter, by the way, despises the color pink, and of course insisted that I have no idea what I’m talking about and used an entire container of red food coloring proving to us both that I was right and no amount of red food coloring is going to make white goo red. Instead it just becomes more vibrantly pink!

red plus red plus red still equals pink.

red plus red plus red still equals pink.

She was not amused.
But I was!
A few hours later we took the slime out of the fridge and stirred. It seems the longer its cold, the firmer it gets. Nice to know!

Just...ew.

Just…ew.

Oh, and the science project? Success, though we inadvertently also learned that it goes bad after a week, fridge or no.
And when it goes bad, it smells like moldy death.

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Hello, Readers! It has been quite some time since we’ve touched base with you! Things over here have been crazy and busy and we are so SO sorry to have neglected you! And so, as an apology, please enjoy reading about the mess I got myself into over the summer!

At the beginning of summer I made a post about all of the crafts I was super excited to try during the summer. With it being January and all and the kids back in school I can successfully report that we have tried none of them. Yes…you read that correctly, none of my Top Ten Crafts were done this summer! Looking back, I think perhaps that list was a bit overzealous, considering the amount of other stuff we had going on this year. Visits and pool time and babysitting, oh my! We did however, get some things started.
First, in preparation for our summertime Grammy visit, I saw something I thought might be neat (probably on Pinterest) and immediately decided that was a fantastic craft to accomplish while my niece was here. I bought wooden letters for each of the kids first initials and some paint. I figured they could each decorate their letter in their own style, with a variety of decorations to do so with. Well….then I actually took stock of my dwindling craft box. I planned to stop at the craft store(s) before they got here…and then I didn’t. So I planned to go to the craft store while they were here, and let the kids pick out what they wanted to decorate with. Well…that didn’t happen either. Before I knew it, it was the last week my niece and mother and law would be here and was still hadn’t done our craft!
On top of that, my niece had called me before they left, challenging me to help her create a jewelry holder, like those fancy metal dress forms. Challenge accepted, little girlie. We brainstormed, came up with a fantastic idea for a tree shaped hanger (more on that in a minute) and I told her I’d pick up molding clay.

Which…I didn’t…because well, it involved a trip to the craft store.
So there we were, craftless and sad. After a trip to the zoo, I had my husband stop at the craft store and I grabbed some shinies for the letters and the required clay for the jewelry box. I really wanted this big brick of clay from Mexico, but the entire package was written in Spanish and I only know the swear words so…I went with something a little smaller but whose directions were plainly in English. Then a day (or maye two) later we started on the letters. The paint jobs were varied, the painters all chose something totally their own, and I got to stand back, take pictures and not get painted on. Then we agreed that the letters should really have a day to dry, in case we needed a second coat.

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(as an aside, I really wish I would have bought some kind of sealer or primer or both, because the paint dried way lighter than it showed wet and it was matte…lame!)
Then my niece came down with a cold. And we went out. And we went to urgent care (for the cold). And then we went out again. And sooner or later ( or, you know, two days before they were leaving) we realized we had to start the jewelry holder! So we put aside the letters to be completed during Thanksgiving break and took out all the goodies for the jewelry container.

This was so rad! I really wish we had started it earlier and also that I had made one for myself because it was way too much fun!
First we took a wire hanger and cut it into various lengths. Then we took a pair of pliers and twisted them together, Ina vague tree shaped form.

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Once we had the limbs going in the direction she wanted and tied them together with tape, we had a pause, because what on earth were we going to use to hold it up?

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Enter my husband, who has a crazy love for molding things with liquid plastic and very little opportunities. He said, “Hey, why don’t I just mold the base?” And so, he was in charge of that.
Except not really, because of course I didn’t like his tentative plan for using a bowl and had to stick my nose into it.

His job, not…you know, the mold…because who wants a mold of their nose?
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Eventually there was a fine metal tree imbedded in an equally fine plastic bowl…and it was 11 o’clock at night. So we had my niece put it away for the night…and in an incredible crafting fail, ran out of time to finish. I ended up sending the molding clay home with her, with instructions for her to send me pictures when she finished it.

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I am a horrible aunt, and Martha Stewart would be ashamed!

Things I learned from this:
1. I am totally not Martha Stewart.
1A. My niece is ok with this.
2. My crafting eyes are bigger than my crafting stomach.
3. I need to learn the difference between acrylic, tempra, water color, oil and water based paints. It would take the guesswork out of life but leave me less likely to make up cuss words when painting anything.

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You only turn one once!

For my niece’s First birthday, my sister decided to have a ladybug themed party. (And by my sister decided, I mean she wanted to do an Adventure Time theme, but we couldn’t find any decorations, so Rose and I helpfully nudged her into the choice of ladybugs.) So, I wandered through the internet, trying to find any inspiration for ladybug decorations or themes. I didn’t find any decorations that shook my creative tree, but I did decide while looking at cute black and red patterned tablecloths that I wanted to make her a dress. Now, anyone that follows me on Pinterest will know that I have been eyeing up pillowcase dresses for Bug for –ever-. Like, since she was born. After the Kosode Incident, I wasn’t sure I wanted to brave the sewing machine again but I reeeeeeeally wanted my baby girlie to have a pretty ladybug dress for her birthday.

A few creative searches on Pinterest and a few more knocks to my sewing prowess later, and I decided to make this dress, for my Bug, with many thanks to Ashley at Lil Blue Boo.

I envisioned black and red polka dots with a bright red top, maybe a little red tulle peeking out of the bottom. However, my local Hobby Lobby had a completely different vision in mind, presenting me with pink and white or black and white polka dots. If I wanted something ladybug themed, I could chose between a Kelly green background with red ladybugs or something baby pink with red cartoon lady bugs.  I ultimately chose the Kelly green, because I thought my niece had way too much pink in her wardrobe as it is.

I also bought a pretty red ribbon, thinking I could use it around the edge, or maybe in place of the straps. I’m kind of a fly by the seat of my capris kind of sewer…I just knew I liked the ribbon.

Now…I’m afraid of sewing. I think we all understand that by now. So you know I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that these directions were so frickin’ easy! They were simple to understand, even for a scardy cat like me. I measured the baby twice, plugged in her measurements in the super simple drawing and bam! I was off like lightning!

The only thing I ignored was the measurements for a pattern repeat…because I reasoned with myself that it was going on a one year old, who would be eating a piece of cake the size of her head that day…and no one would be looking at her booty. Plus…all those little wily ladybugs were going in 42 different directions, and trying to make that match made my head hurt.

All my pieces were cut quickly, and I even ironed it! (Don’t have a heart attack; I really do know how to use an iron.) All that was left was to thread the sewing machine and jump in there!

Did you read the Sewing Machine Wars? Do you remember the tip on avoiding thread barf? I sure do, which is why I had to take a picture of my properly threaded sewing machine, before I began.

This proves that even the most resistant sewer –can- learn from her mistakes!

I’m almost sad to report that it went together so nicely, I was afraid to even pause to hit skip on Pandora! I worked for 3 hours in sheer disbelief at my good fortune!

The loose gather for the skirt worked (mostly) and the top folded very nicely over it. Let me say, also, that this was a genius way to add a banded top! I wasn’t really sure what I was doing as my aunt and I read the directions and folded away, but man, it’s a beautiful thing when it’s done!

Then…it was time for the straps. I toyed with the idea of using the ribbon, but in the end I decided I wanted them to match the dress. I didn’t have bias tape (OK…I don’t even really know what bias tape is…) but I followed the directions as best as I could, with my Aunt cheering me on, telling me that turning those babies right-side out would be a piece of cake!

If cake is made with a healthy amount of cursing, a gigantic, Throw-The-Straps-Across-The-Room size fit, then yes, it was just like a piece of cake. Nevertheless, with help, I prevailed and the straps were turned the right way, ironed and sewn into place.

By the time I got to the ribbon, I was tired, sweaty and pretty disgusted with my Fabulous Ideas. So..rather than sew it on, I cheated. I used fabric glue and not a little bit of prayer that it would hold up.

It was ironed again after this picture, I swear.

On the day of Bug’s birthday party, we slipped her chubby butt into it (I measured a little –too- well, not giving her any growing room, of course) and she was the best looking one year old on the planet.

See? You can’t even see the seam!

Things I learned:

  1. Sew the damn ribbon on. Fabric glue is messy and tiresome.
  2. I need a better way to gather fabric for pleats. The method described in the tutorial was rockin’ but my Rosemary’s Baby sewing machine didn’t care for it at all.
  3. Ponder buttons or a zipper for down the back next time. While the dress was utterly fabulous, it might not fit her next month.

Mistakes and fears aside, I had a ton of fun with this project, and seeing my beautiful niece in a dress that I made was 100% worth it.

Have you tackled a project you were more than a little afraid of? How did it turn out?

At the new year, Rose and I decided my whole clan needed fantastic garb to go along with the Japanese persona I have chosen for the SCA.  Rose chose this pattern for us to follow for a start, and it was on! Life being what it is (hectic and crazy), the clothing wouldn’t be finished in time for the closest event, so I took a deep breath, promised myself the sewing machine wouldn’t eat me, and offered to help. She had already done the hard part, I assured myself, in making the hakama (pants) for my son.

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Aren’t they adorable???

We cut out the pieces for his two kosode (like a kimono, only from the Heian Period) , and I was totally psyched! All rectangles! How hard could it be? Piece of cake! She helped me pin the first one together to show me how it was done and I thought, ‘Omg! What was I worried about? Sooo easy!’

And then….she left.

This would be the very first time I attempted to sew anything with my aunt’s very old and crotchety Kenmore, without her watching me, steering me clear of committing any grievous sins against the poor, little used machine. To say I was terrified would be an understatement.

The next morning, I bravely pulled up my big girl panties and made a deal with myself that I would do nothing, -NOTHING- else until the job was finished! I got out my camera, to document the feat of the century, put on my booty shakin’ music (which happens to be a lot of glee songs and 90s music, TYVM) and sat down to work…

…and the needle broke.

This was immediately followed by a lot of cursing and yelling and shaking my fist at the Powers that Be.

20 minutes and 4 sewing needles later, I decided the Powers that Be either hated my guts, or were laughing at me. A lot.

The NEXT morning, after my husband had knight in shining armored over to Walmart and brought me replacement needles (in two different sizes ‘just in case’) I once again sat down, determined to have at last -someone- dressed in new garb by the end of the day. With the Glee cast egging me on (Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ , hahaha) I started up the sewing machine again.

…and then the thread on the bobbin barfed all over the yellow kosode.

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But was I discouraged? Hells no! I am a mother of 4, dammit! I’ve faced tougher problems before my morning caffeine! And hey! At least the needle wasn’t broken!

Thus my seam ripper,became my new, non human, best friend. I used said seam ripper no less than 10 times, before, finally, I called my mommy and asked what I was doing wrong.

Oh yes, I went there. I am 32 years old, and the moment all my options are exhausted, I call my mommy. It’s a good thing I did, too, because the mistake I was making was so newbish, I would have been embarrassed to reveal it…if, you know, that stuff was embarrassing to me.

Folks, fellow newbie sewers…don’t forget to feed your bobbin thread up through the floor of the machine with the needle before you begin!  If you do? Say…10 times or so? It won’t make a pretty sewn line. It will make thread barf.

Lots of thread barf.

After the mistake was fixed, the kosode came together pretty quickly.

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I had a moment of panic when I got to the collar (or eri) because I couldn’t quite figure out how to attach it when it wasn’t as long as the kosode. I couldn’t remember – was it supposed to hang out? was I supposed to sew it down? Maybe I had done it completely wrong?

Finally, after reading and rereading the directions, I pinned it from the center of the back and just um..tucked in the ends. yeah…I choked and did a whatever move. It came out pretty nice, except for the jacked up seam that was totally a user error and had nothing to do with the Rosemary’s Baby of Sewing Machines or the awesome instructions.

The second kosode came together so quickly, even -I- was surprised!

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Useful tip? Don’t rely on the foot of your sewing machine to keep your seams pretty. and try to pay attention to your seam allowance! That’s why there is one, for pretty seams! Mine aren’t so pretty, but hey, it was for a 6 year old. He just thought he was a Jedi, anyway.

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Since the epic sewing machine battle, I have retired it to the confines of it’s sewing table unwilling or unable to get up the nerve to press my luck and make another set of garb. I had a moment in the spring where I really thought I would take it out and make my niece a dress…and then I had a margarita and let the feeling pass quietly into the night. Crafting ADHD being what it is, I know I must conquer the sewing machine…but I’m hoping the terror of using it will fade from my memory first…kind of like childbirth.

Is there a crafting item that you are unwilling to use? Or maybe one that just resists all attempts at being conquered?

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Every year, I try to plan our summer vacation. And every year, I’m thwarted by bad weather, mismatched vacation times and lack of proper crafting supplies. So this year, I decided to pick out the things I’d like to make (most of them with the kids) and hope for the best!

10. Melted Crayon Canvas

This is as close to being a fancy artist as I’ll ever get. I want to hang this in my newly remodeled bathroom when it’s finished!

9. Handmade Sidewalk Chalk

Sure, you can buy sidewalk chalk at the dollar store…but this is Hand. Made. I want to try and use pieces of the cardboard roll my bathroom floor came in to make the biggest piece of sidewalk chalk ever! So full of win!

8. Pillowcase Dress

I foresee my 1 year old niece having a closet full of these by summer’s end!

7.  Floaty Balls of String

Ok…that’s not what they’re called. But it was either that or “Floaty String Goodness”.  I want to make a bunch of these, get a string of white Christmas lights and hang them around my pool deck. This vision was met with various levels of wow, from “Omg!” to “You still haven’t finished my knitted socks.” (Thanks, Uncle Jim.)

6. Rag Rug, via Hula Hoop

Remember those pot holder crafts we used to make? The ones that ended up being about 3 inches square and not appropriate for any kind of hot surface? My mom’s pot holder drawer was full of them when I was 9! This is a much, much larger version of that, and I totally can’t wait to see if my kids and I can make it!

5. Homemade Play Dough

Thank you, Erika the SAHM, for giving us this year’s attempt at homemade play Doh. Every summer we end up tossing old, hard Play Doh and making our own version, to various degrees of success. This year, we’re using this one.

4. Handmade Journals

Recently, my sister’s boyfriend had a birthday. I really wanted to make him a handmade gift, but came across this journal, made from a game board too late to do it.  I am so excited to make these, and am already planning one for each person in my family for Christmas.

3. Superhero Cape

My 7 year old son is obsessed with superheroes and Jedi at the moment. I have been eyeing up the instructions for this cape for 4 months now! I really would like to have one made for him this summer (he is requesting Batman) and maybe a Robin cape for my sister’s boyfriend. The only thing holding me back is the fear that he will never take it off again.

2. Hair Chalking!

Both of my girls and I would love to have some brightly colored hair, but unfortunately, age prevents us. (They’re too young, I’m too ‘old’) We bought some sidewalk chalk to experiment with, but I think I’ll end up going to the art store to get art chalk, as it seems to work the best according to the websites I’ve checked out.

1. Beaded Bracelets

I recently found a box I have had since I was 16, containing a bazillion seed beads. This led to an obsession with relearning how to make beaded bracelets. Crafting ADHD has once again reared it’s ugly head, and I have trolled too many websites and books to mention since then. Hopefully, this one will turn out to be The One!

As summer wears on and we discover new things, I’m sure there will be other things to do. My son, for instance, has me saving gallon milk jugs for something spectacular that he isn’t willing to divulge just yet. He’s mentioned piggy banks and jetpacks, though, so I’m sure it will be interesting at the least! What crafts are you most excited about? What’s on your Crafting List for summer? Please post pictures of anything you’ve made or are planning to make this summer!



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