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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My wish for each and everyone of you: a happy and prosperous 2010, with no bad real life surprises and filled with lots of the things that you value.

~hugs Karin

Finishing off the Old Year

Amazing how fast a year rolls by! I've packed away the Christmas ornaments; my house is reasonably clean except for the craft room which will never achieve a different status than absolutely cluttered. I'm ready, willing and anxious to see what 2010 brings. But before that happens, I'm going to finish off the remains of this year ...and that includes the last of the swaps that are still in limbo somewhere.
I'll start with the earliest first which was a MAKE swap. It consisted of building and dressing a bed. Here's what I made:

...and here's the tutorial that I wrote, October the 8th! and have kept all this time waiting until my bed arrived at it's new owner's home:
This is the Tatiana pillow from Macy's Waterford bedding collection. It's also the first pillow that I decided to make.
Yes, yes I know what you're all thinking. After all how many times have I said: "I'm no dressmaker" and "I flunked Home Ec in grade school"? Yet here I am with the most difficult pillow there is to start with!

Where would you start if it was you? Why, where else....the library, especially after an exhaustive google search that turned up nothing! I am now the possessor of every worthwhile pillow making book that our library has! Unfortunately, all the pillow patterns are for real size ones!

Apparently, this pillow is made from a donut shape. The pattern called for a 12 inch diameter fabric disk with a 5 inch inner circle cut out to form a ring. This will make a 6 inch pillow face.
Step #2 said to measure & mark points around the disks at alternating 1" and 3/4" intervals. Tuck each 3/4" fold under the 1" section. Pin and baste the pleats, in place, 1/2" from the edge.

Step #3: Gather the pleats around the inner ring to close the center gap.
(the rest of the steps were for making the ends of a bolster.)

Well that sounds easy, right?
Attempt #1:

So if you need a piece of 12" diameter fabric to make a 6" pillow, it would stand to reason that in order to make a 1" diameter dollhouse pillow, you need at least a 2" diameter piece of fabric. My thinking is that a little bigger is better than too small, so I made my circle 3".
A five inch hole for the inner circle seems awfully big. So I just put in a little hole. BTW, my pillow pattern is made from a dryer sheet

I used to have some of my grandmother's dressmakers chalk but the last time I saw that was several moves ago. Since you need hems anyway, I figured it'd be OK to mark the points in pen and instead of using 1" and 3/4", I used 10cm & 7cm. As you can see, this allows you to make half your pleats before the fabric gets too bunched to do any more.

Attempt #2:
So if the real pillow fabric disc is 12" and the inner circle is a 5" hole, then it stands to reason that a dollhouse pillow disc that's 3" diameter should have an 1-1/4" hole.
So continuing with 10cm & 7cm marks, lets you get almost all the way around before the fabric bunches up too much again.
Let's rethink this....

Attempt #3:
OK so this time, I tried making 8 pleats only. But these have to be evenly spaced.....hmmmm!
I got my piece of semi-rigid foam.....drew a 3" circle onto it....divided the circle into 8s....then drew eight more lines at 15 degrees from the first ones.
The lines on the foam allow you to place pins easily. This photo shows my basted pillow face. Success!!! ?
Well yes and no.

I need to sew my pleated fabric circle to the pillow sides and to ensure that the pillow is a 1" diameter, I used my dryer sheet inner circle as a template. I laid it over my pleated circle and proceeded to sew. I'd read somewhere that you should keep your seam allowance as small as possible to avoid bulk and in order to avoid fraying, place glue on all edges using a needle.

Dryer sheets tear wonderful....except when sewn and glued! between 2 pieces of fabric! And somehow the pillow face wasn't centered. Oh well.....

Attempt #4:
The braid that you see along the edge comes from a drapery tie-back tassel and there's a bead in the center.I'm not sure if the pillow isn't too thick and will do another one. I've already cut out the pieces but since my pillow frayed in one spot when I turned it right side round, I've smeared glue on all edges before sewing. If you're planning on making one of these, cut your outer circle at 2-3/4" and your inner one at just under an inch....anything smaller will make your fabric bunch too much to handle.
One pillow down and 8 more to go....OMG, did I say 8???
Stay tuned. If you need me, I'm out shopping for chalk. Oh and just call me Coco from now on.....

Well, my original intention was a bed piled high with pillows but then real life got in the way as it usually does and it just never happened....just like I never did send off that "first" completed pillow that the "tutorial" was based on. It ended up looking more like a footstool in height.
It was interesting to reread what I'd written; I'm not usually one to do that. In my defense I did make 3 fancy pillows and an ordinary one in which I tried to show a sleep indented center but I guess I'll have to wait awhile longer for the "Coco" designation. LOL

We have one last item in our 2009 closet: the "Happy Holidays" swap which was delayed for one reason or another. CanadaPost, as always, will keep my swap parcel to play with; so while I can't show you what I'm going to receive, I can at least show you what I made: Each person got a wreath for their door, some rolls of gold wrapping paper, and a shopping basket filled with Christmasy paper plates, apples and oranges, some all day lollys and one package each of Christmas cookies and one filled with candy and candy canes. Enough for 2 bunte Advent Teller like you're seeing below:
the wreaths were either the tradional red & green or silver & gold:
and the baskets can be used for whatever.....they were made thanks to a CDHM tutorial.

Well that's it for 2009! I'm ready to party....

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How Cool is That!!!

What you're looking at is the main intersection of Elmvale (population 1,700) at approximately 11:45a.m. today...

Here's a photo of the Olympic torch being handed off to the next torch bearer.

What a thrill for us! It looked like the entire village turned out.
And here's what the coffee shop in town looked like at 11:30: The end of that line-up is just outside the door.

Just a bit of 2010 Olympic Torch Relay info:
■ Over 100 days in length.
■ Approximately 90 per cent of Canada’s population will be within a one-hour drive of experiencing the Olympic Flame.
■ Over 45,000 kilometres will be travelled. Here's how to follow the relay as it travels thru Canada.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Rosanna's swap

I can finally show you what I made and received from Rosanna's swap. If you recall, the rules were to make an object Christmas related that was neither red nor green and to send it in an unusual container. There were 34 of us involved!! And we weren't allowed to open our gifts until Christmas Eve.

I think Rosanna really deserves a big hand for this one ....and Rosanna, if you're reading this, please count me in on any future swaps. I had a blast!

I sent to Julia in Wales and in return received from Sonia in Spain.

Let's start with the container: I made a sparkly blue Christmas cracker
....which held the boxes containing the tree stand and the tree topper

I hope Julia liked it!

From Sonia, I received 2 entryway topiary trees.... along with a Christmas card. Sonia, thank you so much! You did a lovely job. Love the colors. Her container was a glasses case ....and the lens cleaning cloth! How did you know we were one short? (We're forever losing our sunglass cases LOL)

P.S. Rosanna, I never peeked!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Needlepoint Embroidered Pillows

Elly in Amsterdam has finished my three pet pillows.
Top left is Tzi, my 16 yr old Shih Tzu who was dognapped 2 years ago. I never saw her again!
Top right, is PuppyCat, my Maine Coon kitty who died when she was only two, of hereditary cardiomyopathy which unfortunately is a condition all too common in that breed.
At the bottom is Luna, my current dog, a hairless Chinese Crested.
The pillows are no more than 1" square and are made of needlepoint embroidery. They're just exquisite!!!! I can hardly wait to see them for real.

The cost, you ask? .....merely a donation to a local animal rescue group! How could I go wrong!? Although I won't receive my pillows until the new year, I've already sent my donation to the Animal Alliance of Canada as well as one to Project Jessie. I thought both these organizations could use the money sooner than later.

A couple of posts back, I wrote about gifting and regifting and was reminded by Karin Corbin that most of us are really "fat cats" who should think more of the needy, the unwanted and the homeless before we start giving unwarranted and useless (re)gifts. Karin's advice was spot on (as always, LOL).
Look around you: isn't there a roof over your head keeping you dry; aren't you're warm and well fed. Most of you are surrounded by family (furry or otherwise). What more could you really need?
Especially at this festive season, please spare a few dollars to those who aren't as they furry or two-legged.

Christmas Swaps - 5Star Swap

Well I thought that yesterday's posting would have been the last until January but today the postman finally bought my parcel from the 5 Star Swap

From Kathi I received: a Poinsettia flower in a vase, a basket with "pine" cones, an art deco Christmas tree and a bead wreath.... And if that weren't enough, she also sent material, findings and some bits & bobs. I'm overwhelmed! ......

From Deborah I received: a cute little snowman, a bow with bells and a tiny decorated brush tree that looks like she hand made it; absolutely fabulous....

Jaime gave me a teeny tiny Christmas tree inside a dome; there are prezzies under the tree as well. How cute is that!.....

....and from Jill , in a home made box: a place mat with a Santa plate containing cookies and a candy cane, a carrot for the reindeer as well as a glass of milk, along with a note for Santa. That'll earn brownie points from Santa!.....

Last but not least, from Kim, a letter in which she asks for advice, "because I feel like the only way I can improve is through practice and learning from other people", a hutch and a box with all the bits (a filled punch bowl with cups & the ladle, an xmas stocking, a wreath and a tiny tree, 3 cards, 2 gingerbread men and a gingerbread house) to decorate it with and a photo of how she set everything up.... Kim, you rock girl! I can't see you needing much advice

I sent each person a wreath and "ein Bunten Teller" containing a candy cane, some candies and an all day lolly, gingerbread, chocolate, cookies, an apple & an orange....In Germany where festivities are held on Christmas Eve, the tree isn't set up or decorated until that afternoon. Presents are set out on a festively laid table and traditionally include a decorative plate overflowing with all the cookies & cakes that had been baked in the weeks preceding Christmas. These plates known as "Bunter Teller"(colorful plate), are a special paper plate decorated in Christmas scenes and in addition to the traditional cookies contain lots of chocolate, nuts, marzipan and fruit.
I think this is probably where Santa's cookie plate originated from.

Give yourselves a big hand, ladies! Thank you so much for my prezzies; they're all great!!!!
Just as I made that sleeping mouse in the teacup who's waiting for Santa, this year, I have an idea for next year for a Christmas card that will made as a vignette. Tune in then, I'll be using some of my swap prezzies.

I have 2 more swaps to come Rosanna's swap and the swap at AllThingsMini.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

from me to all of you!

Your comments and encouragements have been my greatest present during the year.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Money Tree

DAY 19 - Finale:

finally done! Unfortunately the prop holding up the larger leaf shifted in the oven and so the coin fell off with some "fingers" still attached. It'll have to be fixed with some magic sculpt and then painted.
Now to start my Mommy Tree.....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Money Tree

OK Let's try this again before the Christmas gremlins come around again...

DAY 17 & 18:

DAY 17: Friends coming over today so no time for sculpting. I did buy some heatable epoxy and another pipe cutter so it stands to reason that I'll find mine soon.
DAY 18: leaf pipe stems are epoxied on; will use the casting resin on the pebbles that I bought.

Money Tree

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Uh Oh!

We've gotten lots of snow in the last 24 hours. At one point it was coming down at the rate of about 3 inches per hour. Ken's snow blown twice and I've cleared the porches off at least four times.
Well this morning, it finally quit. We're now in a winter wonderland ....and not too cold either. So I went out to take some photos.
Come on with me....we'll go thru the gate Hope your boots are high ones. Ken blew out a path last night, but the snow was still ankle deep and off the path it'd be up to your calves.
.....and past the feeders which are normally bustling with activity. See the woodpecker? He's one of 4 kinds that visits.
.... past our fence of evergreens
We're almost at the shore.....and there he is!! Walking away as usual Apparently the little stream at the edge of our property has not yet frozen over
I phoned the wildlife sanctuary but they can't do anything because the lake is not yet frozen enough to hold a person nor open enough to allow boat travel.
I'm sending Ken out for some cracked corn and a bale of straw. I'm not sure what else I can do.