Sunday, February 9, 2014

World Pillow

If you dream big enough, you can fit the whole world on a single pillow.


And that's precisely what I did for Katelyn. She has spoiled me over the years. She did the long-arm binding for me on my first-ever quilt, as well as making me the now-legendary Union flag quilt. We now have an informal tradition of sending each other care packages with handmades and other cutes inside. So this is part of my contribution. I also made her the camera ornament I shared a couple months ago. 


This pillow was fun to make, but it took much longer than I thought it would. As usual, I was guided by that crazy voice in my head. 'Paint the whole world,' she said. 'It will be easy,' she said. As usual, she was wrong. 

The design process was pretty straight-forward: I enlarged a world map and printed it off to the dimensions I wanted. I cut around the continents [easy] and all the little squigly islands [why are there so many??]. Then I used the negative space as a template to trace the outline onto the fabric. In hindsight, I would definitely recommend either printing your map out onto sticker paper, or
taking the extra step of tracing the map design not directly onto the fabric, but onto a sheet of contact paper, which then gets cut to the outline of the continents and stuck onto the fabric. Doing it that way would allow you to simply sponge paint into the negative space and not worry about the outline of the continents. I was kicking myself for not having thought of that. As I did it, I had to paint with a very fine brush around the inside edges of the land masses. Oh well. You better freaking love it, Katelyn. :)

Once my paint was dried, heat set, machine washed, and re-applied to the bits that washed off the first time, I was ready to begin the long and painful process of illicitly internet stalking Katelyn, to find out the locations of all her travels. Some of this was easy, as we have taken several amazing trips together. I remembered some of her childhood stories, but not all. So I trawled through her blog archive, her facebook albums, and her 'been there, done that' pinterest board. Phew. Stalking is hard work, people. 

All the locations got little embroidered hearts, and of course Stuttgart got the biggest one. [This is where we met and worked together]. I'm not entirely sure I got everything, and there may be one or two in the US that I guessed on, but I'm sure she'll make it to all of them eventually. :)


***

Real-life update: I've been thinking about the purpose of this blog recently. I do love blogging, and don't intend to stop. However, I'm slightly re-jigging what kind of personal life information I want to share on here. Part of the reason for that is... I have a new, amazing job! It is really everything I could have hoped for and after my first week, I love it. I'm not trying to be cryptic or mysterious here. Everyone that knows me personally [and in all honestly, I think that's the entire readership], knows about the job either via talking to me or via facebook, so I'm not trying to hide anything. It's just that I now represent a really cool company and I don't want to ever put myself, or said company, in a weird position where I have to be careful what I portray as a representative of an external body. 

So, to sum up this novel, you can now expect mainly just stories and photos of my crafternoon delights. :) 

xoxo

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Last Few Christmas Crafts




I didn't have time to make too many handmade presents this year. Apart from the doggy-face tree ornaments and embroidered pillow, these are the only handmades I gave this year. I think it makes sense they were both for my mom, since she is categorically just the best. I made all of these while on vacation in the States for Thanksgiving (that post is coming eventually). I  had brought all my embroidz supplies with me, knowing we'd be spending loads of time in the car, and I was able to get both of these done on the road to and from NYC. They are both just little doodles I made. I think the fox was a lot cuter in my head than he turned out, but overall I'm happy. 


My aunt Judy and I also made these vanilla-peppermint candles for my mom. We were trying to recreate this one Whole Foods candle scent she loved from years ago, that is sadly not available anymore. I have made candles before, but never using soy wax. It burns cleaner and for longer, so that's a plus in my book. They were incredibly easy to make. We mixed 1 part peppermint essential oil to 1 part vanilla scent oil to get the delicious balance. The sweetness of the vanilla takes the strong edge off the peppermint without being too sickly. Thanks Joody! :) And thanks to my sister for all these photos. 

xoxo

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Christmas 2013

Happy new year! I have just been having the absolute most chilled out two weeks on record with my family in Germany. We had my Grandpa visit from France for a few days over Christmas. Santa was nice as usual :) and then we went to the mountains of Garmisch for 3 days and did some hiking, eating, and playing in the snow. Reading, embroidery (or embroidz as I like to say, on account of how street I am), and chai tea all came to play. 

*All photos that look like they were taken with a camera that isn't also a phone, are from my delightful photographer Schwester. Unless she's in them too, in which case from my delighter photographer dad. 

The tree I fashioned in my apartment in Edinburgh for pre-Christmas with Chris.



Maddie brought Christmas crackers over from England because why not. 

Here we are learning (again) about the Latin names for allllll the plants. :)


But, alas, now the holidays are over and it's time to put my big girl panties on, and get a big girl job. The pizza truck I was gushing about in this post was fun while it lasted, but sadly it has ceased to exist. I believe things happen for a reason, though, and it was great as a post-graduation job while I was getting my CELTA and adjusting to life 'on the outside'. Now it's a new and exciting year, and I'm ready for some new and exciting things! So please keep your fingers crossed for me. :) 

xoxo

Monday, December 23, 2013

Ask Me About the Army

Here's a pillow I made for the boyfriend for Christmas. If you know him at all then you'll get how funny and fitting this is. Even if you don't. All he ever talks about is the army, and plus right now he's working on a recruitment contract so it's even more appropriate. I gave it to him earlier this week and he loved it. It will be a conversation starter at every party ever [and then anyone involved in that conversation will immediately wish they had disobeyed the pillow. :) ] And now when I'm over at his I'll have a quality-assured throw pillow to snuggle up with and not just last night's pizza box. 






Who says you can't combine armed forces with handicrafts?! Long live embroidery.

xoxo

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hilarious (If I Do Say So Myself) Handmade Dog Ornaments

For the first two weeks in December Chris and I flew over to Baltimore to visit my aunts (this was my birthduation present from them). They spoiled us for two whole weeks and one day and I basically had the time of my life. And I do have lots of incredible pictures from the trip, but I think to start things off, I'll share the tree ornaments I made of their dogs as gifts. Now, let's just get one thing straight here. Everyone, yes EVERYONE, wants their pet on their tree. Don't even try to pretend otherwise. So with that said, I present the plush, festive versions of Sophie and Riley.



Here are the very simple steps: 
1. Edit photos of pet (or whatever) to your specifications. I was very pleased to find Tarisa already had fish-eye versions of her pups on facebook so I didn't have to alter them much. I just turned them b&w and increased the contrast. Make sure to flip them vertically so they come out right in the next step (i.e. so they're not reversed when you iron them on).
2. Print photos onto iron-on transfer paper.
3. Iron photos onto solid white fabric according to transfer paper manufacturer's instructions.
4. Embroider whatever fancy details you desire. I went with girly eyelashes and a sophisticated mustache, but obviously, not all pets are this classy. Only you know your pets. Use your best discretion. :)
5. Decide and prepare how you want to hang the ornament. I braided together some embroidery floss, but you can also use ribbon, string, whatever you want. 
6. Trace a circle around the dog's face, about 1/2 inch larger in radius than you want the final ornament to be. Don't forget, the finished product will be smaller than you think as it puffs out and becomes more 3D with stuffing.
7. Cut around this, and cut the same size circle out of plain solid fabric (for the backing). Place both circles right sides together with the hanging ribbon sandwiched between these layers starting at what will be the top point of the ornament, and facing inwards (so you can only see the open end sticking out on top).
8. Sew around the edges, leaving roughly 1/4 seam allowance and making sure to sew the ribbon securely. Leave around 1.5 inches unsewn at the bottom.
9. Stuff the ornament in on itself through the hole (so the right sides are facing out. Fill with polyfil, and hand sew the opening shut. Dun-zo!

xoxo

Friday, November 1, 2013

Squishy Camera Plush

I got an inspired idea months ago while at a catering shift: I was tying cute floral ribbons to the back of 300 chairs for a wedding reception and my mind started to wander ... how cute is this floral ribbon ... I wish I was sewing right now ... making something fun and girly ... what would I make? ... oh, maybe a little camera ornament... then I spent the rest of that shift in a kind of trance and I have to admit I wasn't very social because I was dreaming up this little idea. You know how the mind works, one minute you're chatting away at work, the next you're being award the Nobel Craft Prize for Creation of the Year. Standard.
I wanted to make a prototype before anything else (by which I mean, as soon as I got home from work), and since I was making a big present to send to Katelyn, I decided to just turn my first camera into a little mini present for her. So Katelyn, if you're reading, this is part of your present but I'm keeping the other part secret until you get it. And I really can't say when that will be. Sorry not sorry. ;)
As you can see, I added a photo of us on the back for the screen, like on this pillow. However, I used a different technique to get the photo this time; I used gel medium to transfer from regular printer paper straight to fabric. I followed this technique from A Beautiful Mess, but it took me several tries to get it right. It's really hard not to over peel the paper, which results in a very 'watery' looking photo. If you can master it, it's much cheaper and more convenient in the long run (though it does require 24 hours to set and dry, so not suitable for last-minute crafters!). 
I'm super happy with it! The lens is handsewn to the body, and the final side (bottom front) was hand-stitched after I stuffed it with polyfill, but all other stitching is done by machine. It's intended to be a Christmas tree / doorknob / anything ornament. I am sure Katelyn can find something to do with it! 
What do you think? Can you think of any ways to improve it, esthetically or otherwise? I'm open to any suggestions or ideas. 

xoxo

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A BIG OLE LIFE UPDATE

WHOOOOOOSH. Hello! I'm not even sure I've EVER left my blog unattended for this long. I couldn't even remember what font I normally use to update this thing. I know what you're thinking, 'Woah, that girl must have had lots going on in her life to neglect a blog that has a regular readership of approximately 6-15 people in its busiest periods.' Well, you're right, of course, dear reader. I have had lots going on. 

***

We'll start from the start. I'm now a qualified EFL teacher! I took an intensive Cambridge course (the CELTA) at the end of the summer and I'm happy to say I came out the other end alive... and certified! It was a very heavy 4 weeks but I thoroughly enjoyed it and getting to meet new people, both the other teacher trainees and the EFL students we taught as part of the assessment. Plus, if I'm honest, saying things like, 'Trust me, guys. I'm a qualified English teacher', has not gotten old yet. :) So that sucked up basically alllll of my time in September. 

When language nerds get together for a coffee morning...

Then a bunch of other stuff happened. The amazing Lisa came to visit for a couple weeks [and in true Lisa fashion, greeted us at the door every evening with an open bottle of red and often also a cake]. I made some things. Saw some things [including a giant minion]. Went to stay with Chris's family in Aberdeenshire. I'll just let these photos speak for themselves. I used to spend lots of time formatting all my photos so they were the same size and everything looked perfect, but I've come to realize that a) it's a huge hassle and b) readership of 6-15, so please forgive these if they're haphazard. 

Giant minion, Sunny stroll through Edinburgh.
A glorious vintage fair!
We celebrated Chris's birthday in style, and I don't care if it's tacky to love your own creations, this card kills me every time. :)
Homemade sushi is the best! And Mara wins a prestigious law award! 
While at Chris's family home, I got to meet Toby, aka the Tobster, aka the cutest fluffball in the world. 
The weather was unseasonably gorgeous while Lisa was here so we took advantage and walked the glorious Arthur's Seat, aka Reason #23284384 why Edinburgh trumps nearly every other city.
How you so wise, Scrabble tiles???
I'd say this firmly slid Lisa into first place in the houseguest awards. 
More beautiful Edinburgh, and a cute little handmade shop we stumbled across.
And no update would be complete without mentioning that we had to say goodbye to this little fuzzface, whose kidneys were very sick. :'( She was the cutest little kitty in the world and she will never be forgotten. We love you Mango. I hope you've found a nice human's pillow in kitty heaven on which to perpetually rub your butt. 

xxx

That's definitely not everything that's happened but it's a nice little cross section. There's a lot lot more to come on the crafty front; I have several completed projects and exciting things to share next! Also, I signed up to instagram; it's jennyholb and it's mostly just craft photos. Who's shocked. #NoLongerAHashtagVirgin.

xoxo
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