Monday, 16 November 2015

Harry Potter art canvas

Hello! This year Rebecca and I decided to give each other Halloween gifts ... and then we both promptly didn't finish them in time for actual Halloween. BUT, I have finally finished Rebecca's gift and she has received it and now I can show it to you!

Bec has always said very kind things about my art canvases (which, to be honest, seems like a term which is a bit too fancy for what I actually create, but you can see them here, here, here, and here), so I decided that she better have one of her very own. I decided on a Harry Potter theme since Bec and I are Potterheads from way back, and making this type of canvas is easier if you know lots of random little things about a fandom.

In this picture you can see a library card for Hogwarts: A History with (nerd alert!) names and approximate appropriate dates for confirmed canon Hogwarts students, a laminex heart that I made from a sample card from the hardware store, a stag cutout to represent Harry's patronus, and a whole lot of stamping done with my mini alphabet set. I really love this stamp set, and I use it so much; I didn't really try to get the letters straight on this project though because I felt like it gave a more Daily Prophet style feel.

I made a winged key simply by cutting out two vaguely wing looking shapes from scrapbooking paper and sticking them underneath a wooden key embellishment. I inked the edges of the wings and curled them up a bit to give a bit more texture.

Since woodland themes are just going out of fashion in scrapbooking now, I found a huge kit of embellishments and cutouts at the discount shop for super cheap - huzzah! The wings, blue stag card, and the stag cutout from before are all from the same kit. I stuck the wings on with double-sided sticky foam which kinda makes them look like they're floating - perfect for the wingardium leviosa spell! ^___^ I wish I had brought up on supplies a few years ago when owls were in though, because no owls were included in this particular woodland kit ; ___ ;

Other things that you can spot on this canvas include a vintage suitcases sticker from a Amy Tangerine remarks set, a silver crown and Union Jack from a Ruby Rock-It Vintedge (yup, that's how it's spelt!) Imprints sheet, two clocks and a pointing hand also from Ruby Rock-It, two chipboard letters that I coloured gold with a paint pen, kraft paper tags that I wrote and stamped on to make the Hogwarts Express luggage tags and the tag under the HP, and a random gold embellished circle gift tag that I drew a lightning bolt on. Oh, and washi tape. Always washi tape.

The most important step of making an art canvas is to mod podge everything down afterwards. Seriously, I tried to skip this step because I thought double-sided tape and glue would be enough. Spoiler alert: it's not. 

I brought a few more canvases while I was at the discount store (seriously the best place to get canvases in this city) so I may have to spread out all my supplies (again) and make a couple more! What fandom would you choose? 

- Lisa xx

Monday, 2 November 2015

Halloween 2015: Mermaid costume and spooky sweets review

Hello! So, Halloween is over for another year. I adore Halloween; I'm always so sad when it's finished! I've been told a few times this year that my hair looks like "mermaid hair", which is SUCH a lovely compliment that I decided to go as a mermaid for my costume ^____^

Rebecca and I were planning on hitting our regular rink for their Halloween skate session and then a party afterwards so I wanted something that would be comfortable enough to skate in.

I figured leggings and a skirt would be a practical combination and when I found this gorgeous shimmery scale fabric at Spotlight, I knew I was on the right track. I used this tutorial by Cal Patch to make my own pattern for the leggings and, aside from making them a little tighter around the knees next time, they worked out wonderfully!

I'm not yet at the stage where I feel comfortable enough wearing only leggings, so I also made a circle skirt with the same fabric. This video tutorial by Annika from The Pineneedle Collective was extremely helpful for this, but as my sewing machine was still broken at this stage, I had to get a little creative with sewing it together. I ended up doing the entire thing on my overlocker, and not hemming the skirt or adding elastic to the waistband. I'm a little worried that the waistband fabric will eventually stretch out; if that happens I'll have to reverse engineer in some elastic, but it was fine for a costume.

For the top, I printed out a picture of clamshells and used them to make a freezer paper stencil. I mixed up some light blue and light green fabric paint (I just diluted the colours I had with more white fabric paint) and used sponge brushes to add the blue on the top and green at the bottom. Then I used a brush dipped in both colours to mix them together in the middle of the shells and create a colour gradient look.

And then I put silver glitter all over them! One can never have too much glitter ^___^ Lastly, I made some hair accessories simply by attaching, with E6000, hair pin backings to some shells and starfish I had in my stash  (hoarding from childhood holidays *does* come in handy! ~___^)

The day after Halloween I hosted a crafternoon, and took the opportunity to test out some spooky recipes!

The strange pink lumps below were meant to be the Bloody Popcorn Brains by Not Quite Nigella, but mine are not quite as pin-worthy! My popcorn turned out really sticky, so making them into any real shape was seemingly impossible. I just ended up blobbing down lumps, adding some raspberry jam and calling them Blood Clots! They taste amazing though and are perfect for a special dessert treat or for curing diabetic hypoglycemia (I'd personally opt for the former!). 

The Spooky Worm Halloween Jello by A Spicy Perspective was voted "grossest-looking" by my guests; some wouldn't even try it due to its appearance! I'll grant that it's creepy looking, and the tapioca pearls lend an interesting texture to the jelly, but Scott, Rebecca, and I all quite liked the taste. I used lime and grape jelly and they turned out these lovely pastel colours, which went really well with the "witchetty-grub" lollies I found in the supermarket (I couldn't find plain old jelly worms like the recipe called for anywhere!). I used little ramekins as my moulds, but the jelly didn't come out cleanly. No matter, I think it looks even more gross this way ~___^

I'd never made chocolate bark before, and I found The Pioneer Woman's Halloween Bark tutorial very helpful even though I didn't follow her recipe completely. I melted white cooking chocolate, poured it into a tray lined with baking paper, and then pressed in salted pretzels, Star Wars character cookies, mini M&Ms, and pop-rocks. After sitting in the fridge for a while, it was ready to be broken up and served! This was the most popular dessert at the crafternoon; the salty-sweet combination was considered most superior by my friends ^____^ I personally think that the addition of the pop-rocks makes it a very appropriate Halloween treat as there is something rather creepy about your sweets making random cracking noises ...

Scott's favourite was the coffin cake; which is just a plain chocolate cake with peppermint icing. Can't beat the classics, I guess! I got the coffin-shaped pan from Spotlight and it does have a cross indentation on it, but that didn't show through very well on the finished cake, so I added my own with writing icing.

And that's it! Gosh! Did you have a fantastic Halloween? I hope you did, and that you dressed up! I love hearing about and seeing other people's costumes ^____^

- Lisa xx

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Captain America and The Winter Soldier crochet mismatched fingerless mitts

Hello! True to my word I have been taking a short break from blogging to work on some slightly more involved projects. I've also been fitting in a lot of extra hours at work, 2-3 skating sessions a week, and a heck ton of gardening! ~___^ So here's one of the projects I've finished: mismatched Captain America and Winter Soldier fingerless mitts. Yay!

I made these for Rebecca, as it was her birthday recently, and we share all the feels about Cap and Bucky. I have seen versions of this around before, but they were all knitted and since I'm still not a very confident knitter I decided to crochet them instead.

I used Twinkie Chan's instructions for a basic mitt pattern to determine the size these should be (as this varies depending on hand size) and used a 4mm hook and some 100% DK weight wool to make them.

For the Winter Soldier mitt I crocheted in the back loops every second row to create a kind of ridged pattern to mimic the segments of his metal arm. The star was extremely frustrating to make because most applique patterns were way too big. I ended up making it up as I went along, but I'm still not totally happy with it. If I ever discover a way to make a nice small star, I'm going to steal this mitt from Rebecca and replace the star ~____^

For the Captain America mitt I just did a plain treble repeat and I used Handy Knitty's pattern to make the "A".

The little wings on either side of the A were a little tricky to do, because again most patterns were much too large. I ended up using a similar technique to how Handy Knitty forms their letters. I chain stitched nine, slip stitched in three, chained two, slip stitched in three, chained two, slip stitched in five. The extra chain stitches form the two lower wing protrusions, and if you're trying to imagine how it is worked up, please enjoy this extremely high-tech Paint drawing, in which the red arrows indicate the direction you are working in.

The two sides are made exactly the same way, and I just flipped one over once I was finished crocheting. They need to be sewed down to really look like Captain America's helmet wings, but once they are attached I think they look pretty neat.


Can you believe it's less than a week until Halloween?? I haven't done many spooky projects this year, but I will have a costume to show you which I am pretty darn happy with. What are you going as this year? Are you making your costume? ^___^

- Lisa xx

Monday, 28 September 2015

Pastel alphabet bead bracelets

Hello! The other day I was going through my beading stash and I found some glittery heart and star beads and some alphabet beads in a little kit which I am 90% sure I've had since I was a child. I didn't actually have enough alphabet beads to make many words or phrases, but I made one bracelet, decided I needed to make more, and went out and brought more alphabet beads. What I've learnt: there are never enough "e"s.

Nonetheless, I made quite a few little bracelets and I'm quite pleased with how they turned out.

In my stash I also found some cute plastic heart beads with small shiny gems in them, faux pearls, and some random coloured plastic beads. I used stretch elastic for threading the beads onto, and found it a complete and utter pain to work with. There was one bracelet in particular that broke four times! I've found the best way to preserve your bracelets, and your sanity, is to do two double knots, and then coat the knots in glue; I used E6000 and found it worked well. The other tip is to roll your bracelets on, rather than stretch them out too much.

I made five bracelets in what I think of as the pastel colourway, and then decided to try out some black alphabet beads and make some Halloween jewellery ^___^

When making these, I found that cutting the elastic to ten inches, and then beading to cover six inches was a good way to get enough bracelet to go around my wrist and enough ends to make tying the knots not totally painful. If you have more dexterous fingers than me though, you may be able to get away with shorter ends.

Lastly, I mixed together the black and pastel beads to make myself a "muggleborn" bracelet. I don't know if I have a favourite out of these bracelets ... but this one is definitely up near the top!

Although I love making quick projects like these, I've found lately that I haven't been making many big projects. I think this is partially because I've been trying to post a new project every week, so I've decided to relax my posting schedule. I'll still be posting, but only when I've finished a project. Hopefully this will actually make for more interesting, involved projects, and more tutorials too! And, of course, if you feel like you're just not hearing enough from me, feel free to check out my Instagram ~___^

- Lisa xx 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

WIP: Wonder Woman quilt

Hello! So, recently I decided that I should make a quilt. The ideal quilt maker would probably be someone mathematically minded, precise, meticulous, patient, and good at sticking to a plan ... I am none of those things. Nonetheless I'm giving it a red hot crack!

I've only done part of the quilt top at the moment; I'm planning on adding a border and then, of course, I will need to add a back and squishy middle and binding and then actually quilt it ... yeah, I've got a bit to go! It's currently 77cm by 72cm (about 30.5 inches x 28.5 inch), but hopefully the border will help it more more lap blanket size, rather than it's currently baby quilt size! ^___^

I started off with a jelly roll pack and some Wonder Woman fabric, both that I got from Spotlight. Unfortunately the strips that came in the jelly roll were not all the same size, so I had to cut each of them down >____< I cut all of my strips so that they were 2 inches wide, and about 25 inches long. 

After sewing four differently patterned strips together, I cut the resulting fabric into 7 inch lengths. Now, here is where my maths failed me slightly. I was planning on making 7 inch squares, but actually ended up with 6 inch by 7 inch rectangles. Oops!

But I decided to carry on anyway, and change my original idea for the pattern into a brick repeat instead. To do a brick repeat you slightly offset your pattern, which means that your edges won't line up properly. To fix this, you make four halves of your pattern squares and use them to fill in the gaps.

Then I sewed all the blocks together! And now I have a mostly finished quilt top - yay! The seams don't all line up probably and I have no idea why (probably something to do with the aforementioned lacking skills) but I'm not really concerned about it enough to unpick it all and start again. 

Maybe this can just be my test quilt; I'll make all the mistakes on this one and then my next one will be amazing! ~___^

Of course, this quilt does have Wonder Woman on it, which means it's still at least a little amazing ^____^

- Lisa xx

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Many hairbows

Hello! I know it's only just gotten into September, but for some reason I am so excited for Halloween this year! I was tidying my craft room (again! This has to happen fairly regularly, in order to try and curb my hoarding tendencies ...) when I came across a pack of "flat fats" (basically 50cm squares of fabric that Spotlight sells) in Halloween prints. I'd been thinking for a while that I might try to make a patchwork cushion but since I'd been thinking (and not doing) that for a couple of years I decided that the cushion idea was going out the window and instead I was going to make hair bows. And since I can't stop at one, I made ten.

Unfortunately I don't own enough Halloween fabric to make ten different spooky hair bows (something I obviously need to rectify fairly quickly!) but I did manage to make four.

These three are from the aforementioned Spotlight pack. I think my favourite is the stripey one, because those little purple gravestones are just so cute! Also in the pack was some awesome purple bat fabric, but as I used some of that for the background of Rebecca's witchcraft hoop I didn't have enough for a full sized bow. I may have to make some mini ones soon!

I also finally used this silky skull fabric that someone once gave me. The piece was kinda too small to do much with, so I put it in my stash and promptly forgot about it. I'm so glad I found it again because it was the perfect size for a bow!

Since one can never have too many hair bows (please, no one tell me otherwise ...), I then used up some more fabric remnants making these six pretties. I can't decide on my favourite here; I think the black and white stripe is going to be really versatile, but I love the dark grey floral pattern as well.

If you'd like to make some of your own, you can check out my tutorial for them on Cut Out + Keep

In other news, my workplace just finished a 100 day fitness challenge - huzzah! Of course this meant it was time for a party (nope, we learnt nothing) and so I baked a raspberry oat cake to help us celebrate. I used writing icing to draw a shoe on the top which was a bit tricky. You can see where I had some trouble with finishing off lines! Nonetheless, it looks like a shoe (big plus!) and the cake tasted really good - yay! ^___^

Currently I'm working on some crochet, but I think it's going to be a while before it's finished as it's pretty huge. The first row involved 364 stitches - yikes! I'm experimenting with broom stick crochet for this as well, which is a first for me. I'm quite liking how it looks so far, so I'm hopeful it will turn out well.

It's becoming sunnier and warmer here, so perhaps a largish crochet project wasn't the greatest idea though! I'll have to start thinking of warmer weather crafts ... perhaps this will be the year I finally make myself a Wonder Woman bikini? Only time will tell ~___^

- Lisa xx