Archives for October 2009

The big Wrapup


There were times when I wasn’t sure I was going to make it.

I’ve had this ridiculously awful cough, a drink a jar of cough syrup a day, give yourself a headache from all the hacking, try not to breath to hard or else you’ll start again, kind of cough, for a month now. I’m am looking forward to nothing more than taking a couple days off and working on something I feel like working on, without any holiday deadlines attached.

But knowing me, that won’t last long. I’ve already got ideas going for Christmas.

Whimsical Halloween Tree

I’m sorry these pictures are so awful. Winter light is hard for all of us, but my house especially tends toward tomb-like this time of year. No windows on the front of the house makes it cooler in the summer, but also really really dark. Plus everywhere a tree goes is a corner, so even darker.

I think as the years go on I’ll find some great scraggly Charlie Brown Christmas trees and spray paint one silver and the other acid green, but for this year I just couldn’t justify buying more trees when I’ve got so many in the garage already, so I just had to make do with what I had.

Gothic Halloween Tree

I also really should have taken pictures earlier in the month. Our little boy cat Gizmo has taken both of these trees apart so many times all the ornaments gradually made their way further and further up to the top of the tree.

Thank you all so much for playing along with me. Thanks to all of you who bought patterns and played along in the giveaways. This has been a whole lot of work, but so much fun. I’m obviously out of my mind doing so much all at once, but I just couldn’t help it. You gotta follow the ideas where they lead, right?

Hope you all have a wicked good Halloween, and no one loses a filling on any caramel apples.


Gothic Prom Dress Tree Skirt

Gothic Tree Skirt

That’s what it looks like, right? Because that was what I was totally going for. I had planned on doing a simple simple tree skirt, using some more of that neverending stash of black wool, and some ornate black lace backed by white for the top. But then I got to Joann’s realized I left my coupon at home and the only black lace cost 10$ a yard. I just couldn’t do it.

The black tulle, on the other hand, cost a buck fifty a yard, so I bought four of them and figured I’d just go nuts when I got home.

Gothic Tree Skirt

I cut a layer of the tulle the same shape as the other tree skirt layers, and then I took everything I had left, cut it into strips about six inches wide, folded them in half and sewed them up to give a ruffle. You can give a tug to one of those threads for a fluffier ruffle, but I liked them just the way they came off my sewing machine. So then I just pinned them down and sewed them.

After these two tree skirts I’ve finally managed to use up all that black wool felt. I’ve literally been carrying around 15 yards of it for ten years. I saved just enough to make myself a little pencil skirt, but the rest of it is done. Used up in tree skirts, trick or treat bags, tree ornaments, and one little stuffie that I’ve never been able to make again exactly the same way.

Black Cat


Halloween Tree Skirt

Trick or Treat Bag
Last year at about 4 pm on Halloween, I realized that I had forgotten to put something together for Atticus to put his treats in. Utter nonsense, of course, the little guy was eight months old and immobile, and he still hasn’t tasted sugar. I don’t think anyone would have missed him not having a trick or treat bag. But it was just one of those moments of new mom insanity where I just couldn’t let my beloved child experience the holiday without everything being JUST SO.

Closeup Trick or Treat Bag
I raided my never ending stash of black wool and scraps of silk dupioni for a long ago design project, and I whipped this together using last years obsession of machine applique.

I fell so in love with those sharp saturated colors against the black wool, that I thought I *had* to have a table runner made just like this. That’s what’s been in my head all year when I wrote “Halloween Table Runner” on the crafty to do list.

Whimsical Tree skirt
After spending all year working on these Halloween trees, I decided to call an audible and change that table runner idea into a tree skirt for the whimsical tree.

I’m in tree skirt overload over here right now, finishing up skirts for all my old trees and now two more for Halloween, and I have yet to get through a one without some majorly unladylike swearing sessions. I don’t care how carefully I measure for the center spot, I cannot seam to get a decent circle using the string and marker method. I’ve basically been starting with that, getting some kind of an egg shape, and then cutting it by hand to get the right shape as the skirt gets smaller and smaller and smaller.

This one had the added frustration of some mystery issues with the machine applique that I just could not troubleshoot. The orange and green stars went on like butter, but for some reason, when I tried to sew on some purple stars, made out of the same fabric just in a different color, it wouldn’t work. Stitches kept skipping, bobbin threads tied up in knots, no matter how many times I changed the needle or the threads, the purple just would not work. So I finally just decided to give up and call it finished with just the orange and green.

Whimsical Tree Skirt is doomed
Gizmo is hard at work covering any empty spots with loads of white hair.


Stuffed Spiderweb Ornament

Stuffed Spiderweb Ornament
This ornament is really just a variation of one I’ve done before. Whenever I sit down to start designing ornaments, I always start by thinking of different mediums I could use to create a theme, and embroidery is just so darn easy.

It’s nice to get this one finished and on the tree. I’ve been carting around little pieces of embroidery all month. It seems like a spiderweb is so dainty the stitching would go crazy fast, but I made them big enough that each one took me hours. I think it’s worth it though, it really fits my spooky theme, and brings my colors in together.

Spiderweb Ornament Step 1
Embroider a spiderweb. I’ll post a pattern if anyone really wants one, but I thought spiderwebs were pretty doable by just about everyone. I used black cotton perle floss and some leftover crepe backed satin I had lying around. I do a lot of embroidery on that fabric, partly because I’ve got a ton of it, but also because I like that contrast between the homespun embroidery and a fancier fabric.

Spiderweb Ornament Step 2
I couldn’t figure out how to make a spider in embroidery. I asked all my super smart embroidery friends if they knew of some magical 3-D stitch, and while they were all consulting their samplers and stitch books, the stupidly simple thought occurred to me that I could just use a bead. I secured the bead with a couple tight stitches, and then used three long stitches to make the legs.

Spiderweb Ornament Step 3
Pin it to your backing fabric, right sides together, with a hanging loop sandwiched between the two layers. Then just sew around the stitching. You could make this neater if you felt like it, but I was digging the wonkiness. Nature isn’t perfect after all.

Spiderweb Ornament Step 4
Stuff and close. If you’re going for heirlooms, use a whip-stitch or something similar. Me? I always close my ornaments with a little fabric glue. Saves me hours and people aren’t going to notice. Especially after the next step.

Spiderweb Ornament Step 5
Run a thin strip of fabric glue around the seam and adhere a little black satin cord, hiding the edges in the hanging loop. I almost left this step off, but it just looks so nice and finished I had to do it.


2009 Year of Pleasure #42

Apple Crates

Last Saturday, desperate to drink up the fall before it’s gone, we tossed the whole hacking, coughing family into the car and drove into Julian, a little mountain town full of apple orchards, gold mines, and quaint tourist trappings.


It was a wonderful day. Atti was at his best behaved, most snuggly and thoroughly adorable, we spent the whole day wandering around in the sunshine and eating apples in every form known to man, brought home juice and caramel apples and apple butter and more juice, and went to the last remaining open orchard of the season for fresh apples we’re turning into pies and tarts and baby food.

Apple Orchard

It ended up being a day perfect in it’s imperfection. The apple crop was weak this year, so the U-Pick orchards were all closed and we could only buy what was at the farm stand. We went for afternoon tea at a place that sounded like perfection and ended up being four pieces of bread eaten while seated in the middle of a store. We wandered through shops that sold truly unfathomable levels of junk to a captive audience. But we laughed the whole way through, enjoying our sweet little family and a perfect fall day, with loads of sweetness in our bellies.

Sunny Boy


Bye day

I still have loads of Halloween stuff to share, although even I am beginning to run out of steam by this point.

We went to our big Halloween party last Saturday, and when I went to Target and saw Halloween everywhere, I actually had to stop and remind myself that the holiday hadn’t actually come and gone already. My mind is already full of Christmas plans and Thanksgiving dinner.

But for today I am going to beg off. I got rearended on Wednesday, spent all day yesterday between the autobody shop and driving an hour away to my very wonderful dentist who managed to get by without giving me a root canal, but still had to mangle my mouth to get two temporary caps in place, and I am going on week 3 of the worst cough I’ve ever had. A muscle pulling, doubled over, eye popping cough. And now Atti’s catching it.

I am staying in my pajamas, snuggling my baby, and spending the day playing free hour downloads of silly computer games.


Mummy Ball

We’re getting down to the end here, and we’re starting to reach all those ornaments that are so easy they feel like cheating.

Mummy Ball

I bought that great textured polka dot fabric to replace the binding on my tree skirt, and I had a whole bunch of bias cut binding left over I couldn’t bear to get rid of.

I cut it into 1″ strips, pinned one end down to a styrofoam ball, and just started wrapping. And then for a hanger I tied a great big black ribbon, and used a glue covered pin to hold that in place.

See? How much easier could it get?

Mummy Ball


Atti’s Halloween costume

I was racking my brain trying to come up with an outfit for my little guy this year. He’s not obsessively into anything that would make planning a costume easy. I was in the middle of a phone call with my friend Sara, complaining about this very problem, when the perfect idea hit.

I’ve made no secret that we are ridiculous saps around here. I call Bear, Bear, friends and family have always called me Tree (even though it’s spelled funny, my name is actually pronounced TREE-sa, so that’s an easy one) and when we talked about a kid that was a little bit him, a little bit me, it was easy to see that it would have to be a Koala Bear – a little bear who lives in a tree. I know, I know. We’re disgusting.

Koala Bear Costume

It was a really easy costume to make, so let me walk you through it.

Koala Bear costume Step 1

Fold a piece of fun fur in half and cut it to the size of your kid. The fold makes up the shoulders, so I just laid Atti right on top and cut the other three sides. Then I cut out a notch for the neck, and cut the front of the vest up the middle.

Koala Bear costume Step 2

Refold the vest to lay right sides together, and sew up the sides, leaving a few inches open at the top to make arm holes.

Koala Bear costume Step 3

Cut another piece of fun fur for the hood. Long enough to touch shoulder to shoulder, and deep enough to cover the back of your child’s head.

Koala Bear costume Step 4

Fold to make right sides together, and sew the back closed. If you give the top a little big of a curve, it won’t look like a conehead.

Then just sew the hood to the neck of your vest. Line up the middle of the hood with the middle of the back of the vest, right sides together, pin in place, and sew it down. For Atti to cooperate with wearing it, I couldn’t let it choke him, so I just sewed the hood to the back and sides of the vest, and then cut any remaining hood off at an angle so it blended in. Fun fur is extremely forgiving, and once you hem it, it will look like everything you did was intentional.

Koala Bear costume Step 5
In this picture you can see just how imprecise I was. That’s the best part about Halloween costumes. It’s not like you’re going to be entering it into the fair or anything.

For the ears you’ll need to cut four little half circles. Sew the pairs together on the curve, leaving that flat part open.

Koala Bear costume Step 6
Cut a couple pieces of wire big enough to match the curve of the ears and stuff them inside. This will help the ears to stand up better instead of just flapping next to the head. Once the wire is inside, just sew those ears right down to the outside of the hood. I arranged them so that the round part was facing the front of the hood when I sewed them down. I think this way works best to get them up and out.

Koala Bear costume Step 7

The cutest part of a little fuzzy thing is the paws, so since I had plenty of fabric leftover, I thought I’d make a little pair of moccasins to go with the hoodie. I totally just scrapped this together, but hey, it worked. I cut four pieces of fur about 3/4″ bigger than an outline of Atti’s foot, and then I sewed the pairs together, right sides together, all the way around.

Koala Bear costume Step 8

With these little tribble looking guys, I cut a hole about the size of a quarter right where the foot slips into a shoe, then I turned them right side out. Cut a straight slit down from the hole to make enough room for the foot.

Koala Bear Halloween
When I laid Atti down on the fabric to start cutting out the pieces, he would not hold still long enough for me to do the job. He kept rolling over on his belly and rubbing his hands through the fur yelling, “Kitty! Kitty!” I think in his world, everything fuzzy must be a cat.

You can probably guess by the apples in my hair that I am supposed to be a tree he’s clinging to, and then Bear’s going to wear a big ugly Hawaiian shirt and carry the camera and call himself a tourist. We figure that we don’t have to put a ton of work into making us look cute when I’ll be carting this little sugar snack all over town.


2009 Year of Pleasures #41

I got some SERIOUS bounty from my Halloween Swap partner, Moriah of MLBStudios.

Halloween Swap - Witch

The plan was to swap three different versions of loveliness, and then repeat those lovelies for six items. But Moriah went above and beyond.

Halloween Swap - Skeleton

I love the mouth on this little Ms. Ghost, all puckery, she reminds me of Dolores Umbridge.

Halloween Swap - Ms. Ghost

And then Mr. Ghost looks like she just said something totally scandalous.

Halloween Swap - Mr. Ghost

This big bellied pair is my absolute favorite. I found them so dang inspiring, I wanted to just put the box down and go start messing around with paper clay.

Halloween Swap - Punkinhead

I’ve done quite a bit of work with polymer clay, but a big problem for me is the weight of it. It’s not really conducive to ornaments because they get so heavy. These paperclay ornaments just make the wheels in my brain start whirring.

Halloween Swap - Skeletonhead

Moriah teaches online classes sharing all her knowledge about miniatures, polymer clay and paperclay. I can’t wait to sign up!


Edgar Allen Poe Signs

Poe Sign Version 2

It’s safe to say that I’m not exactly the world’s foremost expert on the Victorian. Or Gothic. I don’t really even know how those two things are different. Or not. I just had this vision in my head of a Halloween full of crows and Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion. Miss Havisham and Edgar Allen Poe. But for all I know I’ve been committing all kinds of historical and design atrocities as I’ve followed this vague notion of an idea.

Poe Sign Version 1

Despite my lack of concrete knowledge, I knew that Poe’s creepy writings had to end up on here somewhere. I searched around the internet to find a few excerpts that were sufficiently spooky, and then set about making an ornament to display them.

Poe Sign Tutorial Step 1
I found these signs at Michael’s in the aisle with all the naked wood. It came with a thick rope hanger like something you’d see hanging on a pirate ship. I pulled off the rope and painted it a creamy ivory color, and then rubbed a black ink pad around the edges.

Poe Sign Tutorial Step 2
I formatted the quotes on my computer, and then searched around online to find out how to make my own rubons. It was really easy. I took a transparency meant for a laser printer, and then ran it through my inkjet printer. The ink from my printer beads up on the transparency, so you can transfer it without it drying. The most important thing is to make sure that you set your printer to print in mirror image, so that the text won’t be backwards when you transfer it. You can also spray your transparency with a spray hair gel to make it even easier to transfer. I had mixed results with this, so I’m not certain it’s necessary, but it sure didn’t hurt anything.

Poe Sign Tutorial Step 3
Then I just stapled a new ribbon on the top to use as a hanger.

Poe Sign Version 3
Doing a whole bunch of these took me about a day, but they completely set the whole tone for this tree I’ve been trying to get out of my head and into reality.