Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Turning a Sweatshirt into a One-of-a-Kind Jacket

As I mentioned previously, I have recycled jeans into several different things over the years.  My sister in Arizona knows this, and when we saw each other two weeks ago, she brought me something she wanted recycled.

She was working on a denim throw.  She found some pre-cut 6 inch squares at her local thrift shop, but needed more to finish the blanket, so she went to her closet and pulled out a denim dress that no longer fit.  After cutting what she needed, she had this left over:

The front of the dress, with embroidered detailing.
The embroidery on the front of the dress was definitely worth saving!  She thought she'd like it turned into a jacket, so I went shopping and picked up an extra large grey sweatshirt.

I used the iron to crease the center front of the shirt, so I would know where to pin the placket.  Before I could start pinning, I needed to trim off the back yoke a bit to fold and press up a hem.

 Then I started pinning.  I aligned the shoulder seams of the dress with the shoulder seams of the sweatshirt.   I carefully pinned the front placket down the front of the sweatshirt, unbuttoning the front to pin right along the edge.  I pinned along the sides of each front piece and along the back yoke.

Once everything was pinned in place, I used my sewing machine to stitch it down, following the original stitching lines of the dress.  For most of the sewing, I used an 'even-feed' foot, a presser foot that moves both layers of fabric under the needle evenly.  When it came time to stitch next to the buttons on the front placket, I switched to the zipper foot so I could get in close.  Applique scissors were the tool I needed next.  They are sometimes called 'duckbill' scissors, because the have a wide flange on one side.  This allows you to cut the fabric on top very close without snipping into the fabric underneath.  

I turned the shirt inside-out, and started trimming away the sweatshirt, first by cutting up the center front, and then by trimming next to the stitching lines.  With sweatshirt fleece, you don't need to worry about fraying.

When using applique scissors, you lay the flanged side flat against the fabric, cutting carefully so you don't snip it!

In less than an hour, the jacket was complete!

Hope this is what my sister had in mind!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Can you think of a way to use this?

Here's a quick little craft project that I worked on a few weeks ago.

It is a three tier terracotta display.  I saw something similar on Pinterest, but when I went to the local craft store, I was limited to the sizes of clay pots that I could buy.  I'm thinking that when Spring rolls around, I'll be able to find much larger pots and trays at the hardware store or local nursery.  The trays on this project are 5", 7" and 9" in diameter.  I used two clay pots, 2" and 4" in diameter.  Including paint and brushes, I spent less than $15.

The pieces are glued together with E6000 glue.  This adhesive it great for all kinds of applications!  I glued the pots together before I started painting, because I was afraid the paint would interfere with the bond.

I painted the pots with regular acrylic craft paint, which was a pain, because it soaks into the porous clay and takes three or four coats for complete coverage.  (I thought the craft store carried special paint for terra cotta, but I couldn't find it.)  Then, as a finishing touch, I sponged on metallic silver acrylic craft paint, which gave it a glossy shine.  You could top coat the project with an acrylic sealer spray, but since I didn't have any on hand, I skipped that part.

So what would you use this for?  I took this one to work, and it's sitting on the register counter at The Bead Garden.

Made up larger and painted differently, one of these would work great just inside your front door as a catch-all for keys, change, sunglasses, etc.  Can you think of another way to use it?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Another "Charming" Project

I can't believe it's almost the end of February! The days seem to be rushing by, but that's o.k., because it means Spring is on the way soon!

I did 'lose' a few days last week...my dear brother-in-law's father passed away on February 3, and although his dad had spent several decades in the western United States, he was buried in his home town of Spencer, West Virginia.  My d.h. and I decided to make the trip so my brother-in-law, sister and nephew would have some family with them during this difficult time (he is an only child).

My sister made reservations for all of us at a lovely bed-and-breakfast, The Cunningham House. Spencer is south of Morgantown and north of Charleston, and there are no hotels in the town.  
Ruby Bradley
The Cunningham House is one of two Bed and Breakfast inns in Spencer.
The owners, Sonny and Sherry, were gracious hosts.  In the late 90's, they purchased, gutted and restored the house to it's turn-of-the century glory, but added a private bath for each guest suite. Their website seems to be down right now, but you can contact them at 304-927-2022 if you're interested in staying there sometime.  Spencer hosts a Black Walnut Festival in the fall every year (http://wvblackwalnutfestival.org) and there are two vineyards within a short drive of the town.

Before we left Philadelphia, my sister called and asked me to bring my jewelry tools along because she had a few things that need to be fixed.  I did some on-the-spot repairs for her, but one project needed to come home with me to finish up.

She had collected a number of heart charms, and a couple of inexpensive cameos, and was wearing them clumped together on a chain.  What she really wanted was to space them out somehow, so you could see each charm.  A long chain was included in the pile, so I decided to use that for the re-make.

While I could have hung each charm from the chain with a jump ring, like I did with the religious medal necklace featured in a previous post, I decided to use some gold-plated beads for spacers. The holes were large enough to string onto the chain, and by using two between each charm, there is just enough room for the charms to hang free but still be close enough to jingle a bit when she wears it.

While you wouldn't classify this as 'fine' jewelry, it's a fun piece to wear and show off a collection of similar charms.  Best thing is that we recycled bits and pieces of jewelry to make something new!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A little Valentine

St. Valentine's Day is just a week away and it's time to start thinking about making a little gift for the people you love in your life.

(Did you notice that I said SAINT Valentine's Day?  I think people have forgotten that February 14 is the feast day of St. Valentine...not purely a Hallmark holiday.)

I digress.  Back to making a little gift for someone you love.

Here is a simple bracelet that will take an experienced beader just 15 or 20 minutes to put together; a newbie can finish it up in about 30 minutes, with a little help.

I used red rondelle crystal beads, with gold beadcaps, strung on Softflex beading wire for one half of the bracelet.  To give the beads some 'breathing room,' I added a size 11 seed bead between each crystal unit.

I crimped one end of the beading wire to an open jump ring and added a lobster claw clasp.  The other end was crimped to about three inches of chain to complete the bracelet.  I covered the crimp beads with gold-plated crimp covers to give it a finished look.

Selecting the charms was the fun part!  Most were attached with open jump rings, except for the red crystal ball.  I used a headpin and two small gold beads on the top and bottom, then attached it to the chain with a wire-wrapped loop.  There are ten charms on this bracelet, but it can be made with fewer.  Depending on the number of charms and the cost of each, a bracelet like this can be made for between $10 and $20 dollars.  (All of my supplies came from The Bead Garden (www.thebeadgarden.com), my local bead store.)

Don't you think it's charming?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Oops! Let's try that again!

You may remember that I made my beautiful daughter three necklaces out of a strand of coral beads she purchased.

Unfortunately, she really didn't like one of them...the silver one with smaller, coral beads.  If you don't remember it, this is what it looked like.

For years she wouldn't wear anything except silver jewelry, but now she seems to like gold better.  Plus, she thought it was a little short.

So, I cut it apart and started over (one of the benefits of knowing how to make jewelry!). I was lucky to have three beads that were left over from the previous necklaces.  Those were incorporated into the new design.

I used 18 inches of gold-filled chain, and wire-wrapped each bead directly onto the chain, or to the bead above it, which was then wire-wrapped onto the chain.

I'm happy to report that she liked this design much better!!

So the moral of the story is...if at first you don't succeed, try, try again!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Skeleton Keys are Hot!

Old-time skeleton keys are hot on the jewelry scene right now!  It's a fun and easy way to incorporate 'steampunk' style into jewelry.

Recently, Leslie at The Bead Garden (www.thebeadgarden.com) got some in the store, and we both were itching to make up samples using the keys.

Instead of hanging my key vertically, I decided to wire it horizontally to chain, to act as a cross bar.

I added more chain below the key and brought the two ends together by wiring on the fish 'heart' bead.  A ring hangs below the heart, giving me a place from which to dangle shorter pieces of chain and charms.  .
Deciding which charms and beads to use was tough!
 I varied the length of chain for each charm, so they  had some 'breathing' room.  
After 30 minutes, my necklace was complete!  You can make one just like this for under $15!

I stuck to a mono-chromatic palette, but Leslie used color to make her keys pop. Go to her facebook page to see her design (http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Bead-Garden/151078615990).  And, if you're local, stop in to pick up the supplies to create one for yourself!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Shrimp for Dinner -- I love it!

I found myself in an empty house last night, and didn't want to make a huge mess in the kitchen to make dinner for just one.  What to do?  I spied a bag of E-Z Peel, raw shrimp in the freezer, and had an idea.

Usually, I grill shrimp on skewers on the outdoor grill.  Popping in and out of the house on a frigid night like we're having in Pennsylvania right now was not appealing.  So, why not use the Foreman Grill?

I cut two slices of bacon into quarters, rinsed 8 pieces of shrimp under water until I could peel the shells and tails off, then folded a piece of bacon over each shrimp and put them on the preheated Foreman Grill.

I checked them frequently and after about 5 minutes, the shrimp were pink and the bacon was crispy.  I unplugged the grill, and brushed a bit of bar-b-cue sauce on each piece.  I left the grill open and let the sauce warm for a minute or two more.  Finished!
That bacon was sizzlin'!
I added a salad with a bit of dressing, and had a complete meal.  The best part:  360 calories, 14 grams of fat (from the bacon) and 14 carbs (from the bar-b-cue sauce).  

Dinner is served!
These would be great as an appetizer, too...just add toothpicks and impress your friends!
Important tip:  use frozen, uncooked shrimp, so the bacon and the shrimp cook together.