Thursday, November 20, 2008

Finished Brenna's Present Part One

Here is the long entry that I have been promising. I made a felt board for my niece, Brenna, this year for her birthday. I hope that she gets a kick out of it. I had so much oddly relaxing fun making it. I did learn a few things along the way, mainly that I tend to go overboard with my projects and that crafting while on cold meds is not a good option for me.

So I got this idea from, well where else, the internet. After looking at several free design pages, I decided to strike out on my own. I got the letter and number templates from a wonderful book by Phyllis and Noel Fiarotta called A B C 1 2 3 Craft Book.

That book in and of itself was a gift for Brenna's younger sister Claudia last Christmas. I went and looked up letter sets for display boards, and cut that many of each letter. I did some as capital letters and others as lower case letters. I also cut out all the numbers and made a signs for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division as well as the bar for under the problems.

To make this all easy on me, I copied the letters on paper first and then used that as a template to cut around on the felt. I used the smallest rotary cutter by Olfa. It worked really well for this. I could almost act like the cutter was a pencil and just draw around the templates.

After cutting out all the letters and numbers, I decided she needed shapes to play with as well. So I got out a set of plastic Tangograms, and used those as templates for geometric shapes. I cut them out of every color of the rainbow and also included black and white. Along with the triangles, square, and parallelograms, I also got out the new trusty circle cutter and made some circles.

I then ironed out my fabric. I chose a green frog fabric, so that this board can eventually be handed down from Brenna to Claudia and then the youngest Craig without care about being too girly. I cut the frog fabric into an 20 by 13 inch rectangle. I also cut the same size of blue felt out of the left over felt from last year's over purchase of felt.

I wanted to make pockets on the back for her to put the letters and shapes. I tried to figure out how big to make them. I was working on cold medicine at the time and was not thinking too straight. I was underestimating the pile of letters, numbers, and shapes that were amassed in a gigantic army waiting to be unleashed on the felt board. I ended up cutting four 6 by 8.5 inch rectangles to make into pockets. I also made a flap to snap closed on the pouch. Those were shaped like home base on a baseball field. They measured 5 by 2 by 4 inches. 5 being the flat edge and 4 being the triangle edges. I also wanted to line the insides and decided to keep with the blue and green theme, so I went into the fabric bins and found some great plain blue cotton fabric.

I then edged the sides of the pockets and the top edges of the flaps on the serger.

This is where things got a bit silly. I tried to set the snaps and was not thinking. I placed the snaps into both sides with out measuring. The next day when I got down to work a little more clear headed and less sick, I realized my mistake. The snaps ended up making the flaps a little over an inch too far from the pockets. I ended up getting more of the blue fabric out and adding an edging to the pockets. I really liked how they ended up turning out. I then sewed them to the back fabric.

I then decided that I did not want a flimsy board. This board needed some body to it. I decided to add some left over fun foam to the inside. I glued a blue and a green piece back to back with each other. This way I could make sure that they would not show through any of the fabric; I would place the blue side to the blue felt and the green side to the frog fabric.

I then sewed the blue and green together on three sides, then inserted the foam, then finished off the other side. I got some yellow quilt biding that was left over from the puppet theater project and edged the board in that. If you need to know how to place quilt binding onto something with the mitered corners, Heather Bailey has a great tutorial here. I then realized that the letters, numbers, and shapes had really gotten too large for the pockets I had made. I went on to make some pouches to hold them all. I figured that she can use the pouches for storage, and distribute some to the pockets when she is going to be mobile in the car or on a plane ride to visit Grandma and Grandpa. Here it is all finished.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Hopefully it gives you some ideas for your present making. If you love this idea but just don't have the time or inclination to make one, there are some sellers of this type of craft on Etsy.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Must Complet List

The end of last week and this weekend really put me behind. The cold I acquired in the middle of the week is really zonking me out. I ended up making a semi major mistake with my present for Brenna's birthday, and I hope to get it all ironed out and both fixed and finished today. I am also going to finish dying the play scarves for her birthday present as well as getting her "birthday cake" finished as well. Needles to say I want to have her gift all wrapped and boxed waiting for the postage, so I can get it sent out in time to arrive for her birthday rather than its usual late state. My other goal for today is to finish my Grandmother's gift and start my Father-in-Law's gift. I will have pictures of those for the massive post holiday wrap up. Before any of that can be accomplished, I just want to finish off the pants that did not get done in time for Shadow Dance. I almost had them done, but not quite. Today also involves an errands run for both crafting supplies and household supplies. I may also pick up new pots and herb plants. I have decided to throw in the towel with my current set of plants that keep getting infected with slime molds. I cannot win, so I am starting over with new pots, soil, and plants. That is the plan, pictures tomorrow, I promise!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Short Post

I was starting to feel bad last night and now today I have the full blown sore throat and head cold thing going on. Today I plan on getting a good chunk of the work done for the pants I need for Shadow Dance on Friday. I am also going to print up some more business cards to take with me. I am still working on finishing off that present. The snaps are giving me a hard time. I think I need to take out the bigger hammer to get them tamped down. I also have the cake for the birthday present to finish. I would really like to get the present wrapped up by Sunday, no pun intended. I also have tutoring at 826 today. So, with out further adieu, I am going to get some breakfast and get to work. I will keep you all updated on my Twitter Feed. I promise a better entry tomorrow.

Monday, November 10, 2008

This Seriously Needs to Come to Completion

I still have not gotten Brenna's birthday gifts finished. I think that I like cutting things out of felt too much or have some sort of obsession with it because I cannot seem to get this done and call it quits. Today is when I am going to call a halt. If it is not done by when I want to go to bed, then it does not get cut out. I also would really like to get the board all finished as well. I also went and got some more fabric for some other gifts that need to be made. I found a wonderful pattern on the internet, and it just so happens that a person on DIY Scene had it for sale. What a sweetie! I will post pictures of that gift once it is finished as well because it is for a two year old, so I don't suspect that he will see it here before the holidays. ;) I have also decided to make myself a "gift this year. I want to make some sewing machine covers. I have some wonderful sushi themed fabric I bought for a potential gift but ended up not using it. So I bought some other supplemental fabric this weekend to make some sewing machine covers and other sewing accessories.

I thought the fabrics were too cute to pass up. Plus, I need something to cover up the machines this Thanksgiving when the sewing table becomes a food table again. I also need to make a pair of pants for myself for Friday's Shadowdance show.

In the world of my jogging program, I have decided to repeat week three again. I am kind of disappointed that I needed to repeat the week again, but I think it is the best decision for my training. This week was really hard for me and seemed to be a bigger step up than the weeks before. I think that if I repeat the week again, I will be able to move into week four more easily. I am also working on getting all our music on iTunes. I am now into the letter E. Dan had a lot of music I did not put on at first, and now that he also has an iPod I feel the need to get everything into the music library.

How am I going to get this all done when I never get things done? Today they are supposed to launch at the husband's company, so this week should be a week of him being at the office and me not needing to do anything like intensive cooking. The only intensive cooking I am going to be doing is banana bread for breakfast, pumpkin pie for the hubby, and some sourdough bread for the week's lunches. Well there is a rotary cutter and some felt calling my name... and the gym too.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Less Productive Than Hoped

I was a little less productive than I has hoped yesterday, but I do have the excuse that Dan ended up scrubbing the launch yesterday. He ended up coming home rather early, so I had to also make dinner when I did not anticipate it. I was going to surprise him with cookies and a new tie blanket when he got home late, but I had to move the schedule up. I got them done before he got home, but the work suffered. I also got most of the cleaning done yesterday as well. I also cannot finish that up today seeing as the water to the building is being shut off for pipe work. It puts a little wrench into the situation... hey.. hey... pretty punny! Anyhow, I am going to continue the constant cutting work on the birthday present. I hope to get a bunch done on that before I head into the city to do work at 826 Valencia this afternoon. I cannot wait to get back there after missing it last week. I miss the kids and helping them find a joy for learning. After working there I have a meeting for a new project I am going to help with; more on that in the future. Then I am going to head home, either with Dan or not. I am not sure how this is going to work. They are launching today, so it may be a late night for him or it may go the route less traveled and deploy with no problems and he can just come home. Who knows? Well I am off to upload the Writer's Almanac for today and then off to the cutting table. There is work to be done! :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I am not one to belabor a point, but I just wanted to say that I am proud of the voter turn out. I don't really care who your particular candidate was, I am just glad that so many people finally decided to take up their civic duty and vote. That is all I am going to say on the topic of voting and all the referendums because I am still a big believer in the privacy of the voting booth.

On the table for today... I have day two of week three of my jogging program. It is going to be interesting. This week is a definite step up from the last two weeks. I wanted to quit a bit on Monday, but I pushed through. Hopefully today will be easier. I am also hoping to finish all the felt cutting for Brenna's birthday gift and get the other part sewn and finished. I will take pictures of the progress for you all. I also want to wrap up the first stage of the other present I am currently working on that I cannot discuss. I am also taking pictures of that for later posting.

The house cleaning needs to also come to a close. I am not the biggest fan of cleaning, and I tend to allow it to drag out. I figure that if I get enough done, I will reward myself with a trip out to get new knitting needles for another project I need to accomplish for the holidays. I also want to make another pair of pants for myself to wear to ShadowDance when I do vending for Ariellah there. So if for some reason I get all the things I need to get done done, then I will cut out the pants for myself and get started on them. Well it sounds like a lot, but Dan is launching tonight, so I will have the whole day and night alone. I hope I can get focused and down to work. We will see what new thing decides to get me all distracted. I am hoping to be able to just say no to the television being on and put music back on now that the iPod is back to normal operations. Television seems to be way more distracting to me than music. Well enough rambling, time to get to work.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Today's Plans

It is Monday, and I am planning on making it a productive day. I have my day one of week three jog to perform. I think my ankle is back to being able to be on the elliptical trainer again, so I am going to do this as soon as the blogs are updated. I am going to then work on the harp. I want to get through lesson one today. I should be playing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" by the end of the week. Well at least that is my goal. Dan moved the music files this weekend for me off of my computer that is being decommissioned onto the server. Now I am trying to repopulate my iPod and also figure out how to get my playlists back. I am not sure if I can, and I really do not want to remake them, but I will if necessary. I also am waiting to hear from someone about some logins and passwords that I have lost for files I need. I would like to still be able to use the files I bought, but I have not heard from the authors. Hopefully I will hear from them soon and will be able to totally shut down Venus in the next few weeks. I will be moving totally to the laptop then, and Dan will get a new lappy for himself. I feel rather refreshed from doing that cleaning this weekend of the files and computers. I also cleaned up my desk to prepare for the new computer configuration, so it is inspiring me to clean the house. I am going to work on it today. I want to wipe down all the cabinets in the kitchen, clean the bathrooms, dust, vacuum, and also mop the floors. In between all that, I want to work on more of the Brenna birthday gifts. Here are some snap shots of the progress:

The whole pile of letters is for her felt board. I hope to get all the numbers cut out and start on some of the numbers and shapes today as well. I also may start some of the scarf dying processes today for her play scarves. I am rounding out the gift with a book I got from the Chronicle book sale and a wonderful pouch made by SwanAmity on Etsy. She makes some wonderful little bags. Here is the one I got for Brenna.

I am also wanting to get another project finished or nearly ready for completion. I am awaiting some acorn caps from a friend back in Champaign to complete the task, so I can only get so much of it done until I get the caps. Once the holidays are over I will get some pictures of this gift up for you all to look at. I also would like to get another pair of pants cut out, but that may have to wait for a little while. I am determined to not be a crafting mess at the end of December. Well I guess I should get some work done on some things while I wait for the iPod to continue downloading all my files again. It may take a while, and I do not want to try to jog with out it. It really does help to have some high energy music for me. I will try to take some more pictures of today's gifty work for your perusal tomorrow.