Archives for December 2009

500th post and year in review

2009 craft mosaic

I made a whole lot of stuff this year. I didn’t complete all my crafty goals, but I came close enough to feel pretty durn proud of myself. I’ve always had a tendency to overextend myself, I’ve gotten pretty used to it by now. Plus, I made a whole bunch of things that I didn’t exactly foresee last January. I really loved having a written list of things I wanted to accomplish. It satisfied the OCD in me to have any kind of a list, but it was also a way of quieting those crazy-making voices reminding me incessantly of the projects running through my head. I’ve got a whole new list just waiting to be written up for 2010.

And to satisfy all you adoptive internet Aunties….the year of Atti.
Atti's 2009
Looking through this mosaic, I can pinpoint the exact moment he went from baby to boy. Oh my sweet little lamb. How I have managed to avoid gobbling him up is just a mystery to me.

I feel like I should do something totally massive for my 500th post, but I don’t really have anything up my sleeve. I’m still lolling around in the blissful aftermath of the holidays. Long days lounging in my jammies and working on projects I don’t normally have time to devote to.

This year has been a big deal for me, full of all kinds of new opportunities and paths I see stretching out before me. It’s hard to really describe because there aren’t really concrete things I can point to, just a lot of good friends, supportive readers, and great experiences that made me realize the things I want to accomplish aren’t so insurmountable after all.

Happy New Year


Snowfall Tree Skirt

Before I put Christmas away for good, I thought I’d share one last project I finished off this month that didn’t fit it with all the Woodland tree stuff.

Snowfall Tree Skirt and Cheetara

Last year’s new tree was my snowfall tree, and like always I put off the tree skirt. I used Amy Butler’s tree skirt pattern and added a million and a half sequins in different sizes and colors.

Snowfall Tree Skirt

This tree is in the very worst place in the house for photos, so the color is awful, but I used a white flannel as the base and a silver crepe backed satin as the band. I wanted the sequins to be as reminiscent of snowfall as the rest of the tree, so I used a bunch of different sizes in silver and white and kind of a clear iridescent color.

Tree skirts are so not my favorite things to make, but I just love the finished result.


2009 Year of Pleasures #50, 51, and 52

Somewhere along the way I seem to have missed a couple of weeks, but that’s OK because this month brought a whole lot of pleasure.

Baby and Dad setting up the Christmas Tree
Atti loves his dad so much. Bear was trying to set up the Christmas tree and Atti scooted over to help by slobbering all over his face.

Scared of Santa
But he didn’t seem to recognize him under the beard and glasses. Even dad couldn’t make Santa OK this year.

Atti at the kids table
We spent Christmas Eve with Bear’s family, and this was the first year with a kid’s table. My default instinct is to protect Atti and hover when he deals with typically functioning kids, keeping him with me and helping him to interact as much as we can, but this time we strapped him into a booster and stepped back. He did great.

It was totally one of those “My baby is growing up!” weepy mama moments.

Atti’s still so young that we really wanted to keep presents to a minimum. The extended family spoils him with toys anyway, so we really don’t need to add much to keep him fully stocked.

Christmas Morning
Plus he’s got this full-time fuzzy playmate to keep him occupied.

Atti, Gizmo, and Elmo
Our big splurge for him – and it was a big splurge – was this crazy robot Elmo that sings songs and blows kisses and tells stories. We never would have spent so much money on a toy, but we’re hoping that it will help his development. Robot Elmo blows kisses and waves bye and uses his hands in all kinds of ways we’re hoping will rub off on him.

He and Gizmo have been equally fascinated.


Merry Christmas

From our Christmas card this year:

Christmas Card Pic

Christmas Card Pic

Christmas Card Pic

Merry Christmas!


Woodland Tree

Woodland Tree

I raced to snap some pictures in between present making and present wrapping, so they’re not exactly magazine worthy, but I think you’ll get the idea anyway.

Woodland Tree
Since this is my fourth full sized tree, I had to go a little smaller. It’s a slim 5 footer, and it fits nicely behind the couch next to the sliding glass door.

Woodland Tree

Thanks so much for following this tree along with me. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas surrounded by everyone you love.

Woodland Tree


Glittered Ornaments

My last ornament post! Phew!

This one should really barely even count as an ornament post since it’s hardly a tutorial. But I figure that Martha has done demonstration after demonstration on how to glitter something, so maybe I should point it out as an option.

Glittered Pinecone
I went to the dollar store early in my planning, and scooped up anything that fit my theme, knowing that it didn’t matter what it looked like as long as the shape was recognizable. Everything looks good under glitter.

Cheap Dollar Store Birds
I mean, aren’t these birds just the mangiest looking things ever? With those creepy bulbous eyes?

Glittered Bird
But covered in glitter they give me a really great punch of color.

Glittered Deer
This is the loan mammal on the tree, done before I thought about the implications of that. I tell myself that this is fine because the scale is so off, and because I’m a maniac and no actual animals were harmed in the making of this tree.

Deer shape
I cut this deer out of fun foam, just like I did last year’s snowflakes and this year’s bats. It’s just a great technique. Then I covered it in glue, and poured glitter all over it.

Glittered Deer Pattern
Here’s a simple pattern for any last minute ornaments. Just click on the picture to get to flickr, click on “all sizes” and then download the original side.

There. Woodland tree accomplished! Eventually I’ll address a tree skirt, I always put that part off, but for this year I am completely out of time for fussing with decorations. I’m still frantically making presents.

And by the way. If I cave again next year and decide to make a scrapbook for someone? Please. Please, dear readers. Someone smack me around until I come to my senses.


Acorn Ornaments and Moss Balls

Acorn Ornament

I googled from one end of the internet to the other looking for inspiration for an acorn ornament, and I ran into the same problem every time. If you have an acorn cap, you can make loads of great stuff. But it all hinges on the acorn cap.

And I live in San Diego. Oak trees aren’t exactly lining the streets. Palm fronds, yes. But no acorns and no acorn caps.

But I think I solved it anyway.

Wool Yarn Ball
For the acorn part, I balled up a bunch of wool yarn until my ball was about 2 inches in diameter. Then I took the balls I made, put them inside a pillowcase so my washing machine wouldn’t eat them, and washed them with tons of soap and the hottest water I had. Then I did it again, then I ran them through the dryer so they came out thoroughly felted.

Clay Acorn Cap
I decided to make the acorn cap out of polymer clay. I know it seems scary if you’ve never worked with it, but this part is easy. I worked the clay in my hands until it was nice and soft, and then I rolled it up into a ball that was around 3/4″ wide.

Flatten the ball into a disk, and then begin pinching the center to bring up that little point. Rub your fingers over the clay to smooth out your pinching marks, and then poke a large needle through the point to make room for an ornament hanger.

While the clay is still wet, try it on your wool acorn, and bend it into position. Then bake according to the directions on the package, and when they’re cool, glue onto the wool piece.

Moss Ball
By this point I was running through my checklist of all the materials I wanted represented on a Woodland tree. Mushrooms, acorns, dirt, twigs, berries, leaves, wood…but I still had to deal with moss. So I thought it would be appropriate to pull out the old “Just glue stuff to a ball” style ornament.

Painted Styrofoam Ball
I’ve learned to always paint my object first before I treat it with anything. When you don’t, you either have to live with white styrofoam peeking through or do a million coats.

Moss Pinned to ball
I found these sheets of fake moss at a floral design store, and just gluing them didn’t really work. They were too heavy. So I cut a couple of rectangles and started pinning them to the ball with dressmaker pins. This worked out great. It was totally secure, but it still left all the little stray bits free to look all mossy. I pinned the rectangles onto the ball almost like how a baseball is sewn together. One rectangle going vertically, and the other going horizontally. But it was completely forgiving. In some places where I cut it short I just added more and it blended right in.


Stuffed Bird Ornaments

Fabric Bird Ornament
With the exception of a glittered deer I made before I thought the whole thing through, I didn’t put any animals on this tree. I was thinking about doing some cool things with faux fur, but then I decided that was kind of morbid. In my imagination this was a tree the animals from Bambi decorated for their own celebration, so with that thought in my head, hanging animals just seemed gross.

Birds, on the other hand, actually belong in a tree.

Fabric Bird Ornament Step 1
Using the pattern I’ll include at the end, I cut out two pieces for the body and two little wings. Then I used a quick zigzag stitch to applique the wings in place.

Fabric Bird Ornament Step 2
I sewed the two pieces together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance, leaving open about an inch of the belly to turn the whole thing right side out, and leaving open the end of the tail.

Fabric Bird Ornament Step 3
I opened up a little bit of the sewing on the head so that I could insert a loop of ribbon for an ornament hanger. I tried to do this part as I was sewing the pieces together, but it was a pain. Nothing would lay flat, the hanger kept getting in the way, so I just said forget it and added an extra step. Turn the bird right side out.

Fabric Bird Ornament Step 4
Now here’s the part that was interesting. Open the tail and fold the edges in about 1/4 of an inch. Stuff in a small piece of batting so that the tail becomes perpendicular to the rest of the body. (I’m so not a Stuffie maker, so I was way too proud of myself for finding such an easy way to add a little dimensionality.)

Fabric Bird Ornament Step 5
Topstitch the tail closed by sewing a triangle. Start in the middle of the base of the tail, go out to the edge and across, and then back down to your starting point.
Stuff the bird and close her in your favorite method. Mine is fabric glue since it’s just a Christmas ornament.

Fabric Bird Ornament Pattern

To download the pattern, click on the picture to go to flickr, then click on “all sizes” above the photo. Download the original size. Although you could really print this simple pattern at any size you wanted to make a whole flock of different sized birds.


Velvet Leaves

Velvet Leaf Ornament

Years and years and years ago, inspired by the Carol Duvall show and all the embossed velvet projects she features, I made this garland consisting of a gazillion embossed velvet leaves I glued on to wire and braided together. When I brainstormed what would be on a woodland tree, I knew that I’d have to revisit this project.

* Oh look! Here it is. Complete with TERRIBLE pictures. Either I’ve gotten better at picture taking this year, or last year I was just LAZY!

Being a MUCH better crafter this year than I was ten years ago when I made that sad garland, the finished project looks WAY better this time.

Velvet Leaf Ornament Step 1
Cut two pieces for each leaf you want to make. I folded my fabric wrong sides together and cut them both out at the same time to get as close to an exact match as possible.

Velvet Leaf Ornament Step 2
Run a bead of hot glue down the center and place a length of floral wire into it. Watch those fingers!

Velvet Leaf Ornament Step 3
Run a little more hot glue around the edge of the leaf, and place the other leaf piece on top.

Velvet Leaf Ornament Step 4
To stop any shedding the velvet might want to do, and avoid dealing with hemming anything, and to add one more opportunity for my beloved glitter, I ran a line of fabric paint around the outside edge of the leaf. I know you probably hear fabric paint and shudder at the thought of puffy atrocities, but if you apply a thin coat then all you’ll see is the glitter and you’ll still solve all those other problems.

To put them on the tree, I grouped a few together and then twisted their wires around a tree branch. For a garland I just braided the wires together.

Velvet Leaf Pattern

There’s nothing special about my pattern, I just drew a bunch of leaf shapes so you could use whatever pattern you want, but I thought I’d share mine just to make things easy. Click on the picture to get to my flickr account, click on “All Sizes” at the top of the photo, and then download the original size.


Twiggy Stars

I still have so many ornament ideas that I’m going to have to post twice a day until Christmas, so I’m going to try and be brief. I don’t think it will surprise regular readers to hear I went overboard again. Go figure.

Twig Star Ornament

If you live someplace relatively rural, you could probably make a fabulous Woodland themed tree from what you found in your backyard. For us suburban or urban types, even finding stray branches can be a challenge.

Bark covered twine
I found this bark covered wire in the floral section of my craft store, right next to the wreath making supplies. I’ve never worked with it before, but now I can think of all kinds of things I want to make with it – including just wrapping it all the way around a wreath form.

Twig Star Tutorial Step 1
I didn’t measure anything, I just cut off a hunk and started bending, so all measurements are pretty much educated guesses.

Cut off about 2 to 2 1/2 feet of wire. Make your first bend about 6 to 8 inches from one end.

Twig Star Tutorial Step 2
Open that bend to about a 45 degree angle, and bend again about 3 inches further up your wire.

Twig Star Tutorial Step 3
Bend again about 3 inches further, crossing the rest of the wire underneath the first side of the star’s leg, and then out through the center of the star to cross over the top of the other side.

Twig Star Tutorial Step 4
Bend again, going under the first wire it crosses, and over the next one, meeting the other end and forming the last leg of the star. Twist the wire together to close it off.

Twig Star Tutorial Step 5

Leave a gap big enough for a tree branch, and then twist the wires again to make the hanger. Cut off anything left over.

Twig Star Topper
I figured that since I was making stars, it would only be appropriate to make one big enough for the topper, too.

Twig Star Tutorial Topper
I made this the same way, except instead of that final twist, I cut one end off and twisted it around and out of my way, and then I took the rest of the wire and coiled it around so it could sit on that tippy top branch.