Archive for the ‘Crafts’ Category

Crafting Adventures: Super Sculpey Sculpturing Compound

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Earlier today, my daughter had a play date with her best  friend O.

In a post earlier this week I wrote this…

This Friday, my daughter, her best friend and I will be having fun with soap making. I’ll be making several pounds of liquid castile soap. No this isn’t one of the partially prepared soaps since I’ll be making the real thing. I have plenty of sodium hydroxide aka lye available. It’ll be a nice learning experience for my daughters friend and fun time for everyone involved.

But, we didn’t have her as long as we’d originally planned. I found that out a few days ago. That meant many of the activities I’d planned; hay rides, making cold processed soap and making lip balms had to be put on hold. Which is fine… My daughter (and her friend) weren’t the only one’s slightly disappointed; I was too. But, there will be other times when they have much more time together.

Today, they hung out together for about three hours. O, is crafty like my daughter and so after about an hour of running around my daughter’s room being silly, they were ready to settle down and make something with clay.

Super Sculpy

Since their play date was shorter, I decided a nice alternative to all the events I had planned was to  create items with Sculpey Super Sculpturing Compound (clay.) My daughter and I worked with this clay a few months ago and really liked it a lot. Since the girls love to be creative, I thought this was the perfect activity!

Making clay figures, pendants, beads, jewelry and Christmas ornaments

The two girls made human figures and I made  a few pendants, beads, jewelry, and some Christmas ornaments. After everything was assembled, I baked the items in the oven at 275 F. I kept a watchful eye on the clay to make sure it didn’t burn. By the time O’s mom came to retrieve her, her items were ready.

We sent O home with her sculpted doll that she made (which looked a lot like her.) Additionally, I gave her a few of the pendants that I made. And as an added bonus, she received her very own box of Super Sculpey Clay. She was thrilled! Her mom, is into craft making also, so I won’t be surprised if she starts purchasing that clay for some of their crafting adventures.

Upcoming clay projects: Making Buttons, stitch markers and other items…

The few hours spent with them was a lot of fun. So much so, that my daughter and I are planning on making more items from clay tomorrow, after her school project is completed. Tomorrow, I plan on making buttons and stitch markers. I’ll be designing and sewing a few holiday outfits for my daughter and one for myself. I would love to make my own funky buttons to compliment the outfits I create.  My daughter has no idea what she wants to make. I’ll be sure to post pictures of some of our creations.

Crafty cravings…

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

knit all the yarnsThe past few weeks I’ve been wanting to doing a bit of knitting and sewing, but unfortunately I really haven’t had a chance to do too much besides about thirty minutes of knitting within the last month or so.

Today, I had that opportunity… I had a chance to knit for about two hours while my daughter and nephew played. It’s a simple project, a hat. The yarn used is a washable wool and the color is dusty rose with silver thread running though the yarn. It most likely will be a hat for my daughter since she loves that color.

I must say, knitting,  was the perfect way to spend my pass the time after playing with my daughter and nephew for several hours outside. I was able to start the hat while I watched them ride their bikes. I didn’t have time to take pictures, but hopefully I’ll get a chance to do that tomorrow.

There are a few (quick) sewing projects I’d love to create for my daughter, after we return from our Lutheran church tomorrow, but I’m unsure if I’ll have the time. Tomorrow will be another busy day, but hopefully I’ll be able to do some sewing. Over the past several weeks, my sewing machines have been begging me to get creative with them, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to do anything. Hopefully that will change soon.

Playing with stitches – Brother PC420

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

Earlier this evening, I sewed with my Brother PC-420. The fabric used was from repurposed jeans.

Repurposed clothing: These cut up jeans will be used for a few sewing projects

Repurposed clothing: These cut up jeans will be used for a few sewing projects


Recently, my father gave me a pair of his jeans. He no longer wears them. I cut them and earlier today I started sewing…

Having read numerous reviews about my Brother Project Runway PC420PRW, I already knew that it should be able to handle several layers of fabric without any issue… and I was right.


Sewing: Jean bag, work in progress

Sewing: Jean bag, work in progress


With this “jean bag in progress”, there were several occasions where I was sewing through four layers of fabric at a time! My Brother PC-420 blissfully sewed through all layers without any issues.

My daughter guessed that I was making a bag, and she was thrilled to learn that it was for her.  There’s still a lot to do with before it’s finished. I’m going to add an embroidered design; I’ll be using my Brother Se-400 for the machine embroidery.

You want to know something interesting, my Brother PC420 is very similar to some of the Baby Lock machines. It wasn’t too long ago that I learned that Brother manufactures some of the Baby Lock machines.

I’m already familiar with Brother sewing machines… when I was helping to make quilts at our Lutheran church. The church has sewing machines available for the quilting group. The quilting group was my first time working with Brother sewing machines, and I left being impressed with some of the Brother sewing machines. These machines were used exclusively to create machine sewn quilts and they consistently sewed through multiple layers of fabric without any issue.


Brother PC-420 a few of the decorative stitches

Brother PC-420 a few of the decorative stitches


I’ve already checked out the basic machine stitches when my nine year old daughter and I sewed a dress for her Springfield doll. I must say, this machine does a wonderful job with basic sewing stitches.

Since I got the basic stitches covered, I decided to check out the Brother PC-420′s decorative/embroidery stitches…

Theses stitches aren’t elaborate, so if you’re looking for a machine that really embroiders you’ll need to purchase an embroidery machine. For sewing machine embroidery I use the Brother Se-400, it sews and embroiders but I only purchased it for its embroidery features. Even though it can only embroider a 4″x4″ area, I’m extremely pleased with my Brother Se-400.


Brother Sewing machine needle plate

Brother Sewing machine needle plate


While sewing a few of the decorative stitches on my Brother Pc-420, I almost got the muslin fabric caught under the throat plate! Whoops! The machine wasn’t at fault, it was mine! The design I chose had a lot of stitches in a tiny area. I attempted to do this without stabilizer. If I was using a sturdier material like jeans, I might have been fine… but since I was using muslin the machine wasn’t liking that. Fortunately, I stopped the machine in time before I got a lot of fabric caught under the needle plate.  Although I’m still a new at machine embroidery, I know better.

This past week, I’ve put the Brother PC420 sewing machine through it’s paces and it’s doing an excellent job. It’s a computerized machine, which makes. I normally sew with mechanical machines, but I’m enjoying the computerized features that the Brother Pc-420 offers. Such as the automatic thread cutter and needle threader. Who knew something as simple as that, would be a big sell for me? Having the option of selecting stitches using the screen is a nice touch also.

It’s still too early to write a detailed review of this sewing machine, but eventually I’ll get around to reviewing it here on Celebrate Life.



Passion Play; Designing & sewing costumes for our Lutheran Church

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Each year our Lutheran church performs the Passion Play. Have you seen it? It’s a reenactment of the events leading up to the death of Christ in Jerusalem. Last year was the first time my daughter and I saw the show and I was impressed by the performance, the sets and the costuming. I guess I shouldn’t have been, there are some talented folks at the church and I know at least one owns a theater, and another produces plays. Our church offers a few showings over a week period so it gives the church members and guests several times to attend the play.

This year is a first for my daughter and myself. I believe she’ll have a part in the play (non-speaking part — I couldn’t convince her to try out for a speaking role) and I’ll be designing some of the costumes.

The clothing design has me excited, I’ve always enjoyed working behind the scenes; Sketching the design, cutting the material, and transferring my vision into an outfit.  During my twenties, I’ve participated in local fashion shows.  I even had some of my designs featured in boutiques. I stopped when I didn’t want to do it anymore… but recently (as in the past few years) I’ve been thinking about doing something…

Martha and Mary Magdalene (c.1598)painted by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

Martha and Mary Magdalene (c.1598) painted by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio


I’m designing a robe for Mary Magdalene. Her brother, Lazarus and her sister, Martha are also mentioned in the Holy Bible. As a child, I was always fascinated by Mary and read the the small tidbits of information about her at an early age. She obviously was a follower of Christ, and based on some things she did, it led you to believe she was wealthy.


He's Risen!

He’s Risen!

I also have the honor of designing Jesus’ Resurrection robe. He was buried in the tomb that Joseph of Arimathea had set aside for himself.  Joseph was a wealthy man and was referred to by the Romans as “Nobilis Decurio” which means “Minister of Mines” there a few that speculate that Joseph was a merchant and that Jesus might have accompanied him on some of his journeys by ship.

And while we don’t know that for certain, I’m thinking it’s safe to assume that Jesus body was prepared with fine linens and spices. I’m designing two other robes also. The rest of the costumes are carried over from the past years and others are being rented.

Knowing that the Crucifixion was set during the first century A.D. is helpful. Men and women both wore robes (pants didn’t come until later) the types of robes they wore differed between the sexes. Having knowledge of the characters/time period is important in creating appropriate clothing.




I already have the designs in my head, the only thing left is to purchase the fabric and start sewing. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to do too much until the second week in February and while I know the style of dress that Romans and Jews wore during that period. History along with designs throughout the ages has always fascinated me… I’ll be doing some more reading since I want to add little extras into what I create. I read more than the Holy Bible, there is lots of information available around that time period that can give you a better understanding of many things written  in the Bible. You just have to be willing to do some research.

Tomorrow I meet with the director (who also works in theater) and so I’ll be sure to bounce off some of the ideas I have (and show him a few of my sketches) and of course I’ll listen to his suggestions also. Lent is just around the corner, it is one of my favorite Christian celebrations. I’m thrilled that I’m at a church that actively participates in religious celebrations throughout the year. I was raised Baptist, and besides the obvious celebrations (birth and death/resurrection) that church didn’t recognize most of the Christian celebrations.

Purchasing fabric online

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

My daughter and I didn’t get to the fabric store this weekend, however I have had a chance to check out a few online fabric stores…

Ordering fabric online is a strange concept for myself since I’ve always purchased it from brick and mortar stores but I’m willing try something new. The first blogger that got me interested in possibly purchasing from online fabric stores was Quilts, etc.,  if you haven’t checked out Karen’s site you should. Her site mainly focuses on the numerous gorgeous hand sewn quilts that she creates, her work is inspirational. I’m always impressed with her skills and the gorgeous fabric that is displayed in the quilts she makes.

I think Curls & Q might also purchase some of their fabric online. I love their site, it’s an eclectic blog and has a delightful mix of knitting, sewing and various other crafts..

I love brocade silk

I love brocade silk


I must say this above fabric has me tempted… Isn’t it lovely? If I want to make the purchase I’ll have to act on it soon,  since the sale ends tomorrow. Also if I do make the purchase it’ll mark the first time I’ve ordered fabric online.

I love brocade silk and I think this would work up nicely in a package I’m sending to someone. I enjoy sending packages to people and do it often throughout the year. It doesn’t have to be much, but its my way of letting them know I’m thinking about them. This past year, I’ve added two blog pals to that list (Q and Nicky ) and I’m really looking forward to sending them something. To be perfectly honest, I’ve been working on their packages for a while and just when I think I’m finished I decided to add something else. I really need to stop that you know. ;) I’ve given myself a few more weeks after that the boxes are being shipped.

I’m really looking forward to getting my embroidery sewing machine tomorrow, it’s a shame that I won’t have too much time to play with it, since I have a board meeting tomorrow evening. But you know I’ll be squeezing a few moments of playtime. How could I possibly resist? ;)

Machine embroidery sample; Monster High

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

I’m going to document my progress with sewing machine embroidery so I’ll be posting many of my new mistakes. One annoyance I’ve always had that many online don’t post their learning mistakes. That can be discouraging for some (not me since I’m very stubborn and will persevere until I get it right.) I really have no issue just showing mine, since we all start at the beginning with something and the results might not always be awesome.

This morning after my daughter and I came inside from playing in the snow I played around with SewArt for a little while…

I converted this Monster High logo…

Monster High Skull

Monster High Skull


to a Monster High embroidery version, and I was able to save it in the *.pes format

Monster High logo being converted to a *.pes file via SewArt

Monster High logo being converted to a *.pes file via SewArt


And here’s a close up of the simulated embroidery via the SewArt program…

Monster High logo turned to an embroidery file

Monster High logo turned to an embroidery file


Switching this logo into a *.pes file was fairly easy and should give you an idea why some companies are able to pass off knock off items as the real thing. If a person/business has the right tools … they will fool some people. Last evening, I saw someone selling a Monster High *.pes file on Etsy, due to trademark issues they would be in trouble if Mattel decided to pursue them, since that person is trying to make a profit off of Mattel’s intellectual property. Mattel doesn’t seem to have an issue with ‘fan based art’ and occasionally I’ve seen them link to those artists, but the difference is they aren’t trying to make a profit and I’m guessing they might view that as free publicity.

Oh by the way, the World of Warcraft character, Agrra, successfully converted to an embroidery file. Blizzard is another company that’s fairly good at giving recognition to fan based art. According to the above simulation it should take about 30 minutes to complete the above Monster High logo and Aggra will take over seven hours to complete. If I hadn’t reduced the detail it would take even longer to embroider ;)

If I have time, today, I might create my own designs and convert them to *.pes. My daughter is thrilled about this program since it means she can make her designs on a graphics tablet, convert to SewArt and transform those into a *.pes file to be sewn on an item.

The only thing left is to see how other images transfer onto fabric. Hopefully I’ll be able to post completed machine sewn embroidery sometime next week.




Embroidery software is new to me…

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

In preparation for my upcoming ‘crafty tech’ purchase… yes, I know it’s a embroidery sewing machine, but since it’s computerized I think it’s safe to say it classifies as ‘tech equipment’, right?

I’ve started checking out embroidery software. It made no sense to do it before, since the software packages I’ve been looking at also offer free trials and how could I test the software without the machine? My top priority is looking for a program that converts regular photos such as *.jpg, *bmp, *.png,  *.gif, *.wmf, *.emf, and other unsupported formats into a ‘workspace’.

From there I could convert it to *.pes which is the file format for Brother sewing machines. And while I looked at a few programs that did this, I wasn’t about to pay $400+if it’s something I don’t want to invest a lot of time with. I’m choosing Sew Art Embroidery Auto Digitiser. It does what I’m looking for and it only costs $75.

Features of SewArt (an auto-digitizer for embroidery files)

  • Reads raster or vector format images (supported input formats include *.bmp, *.png, *.jpg, *.gif, *.wmf, and *.emf)
  • Allows images in other (unsupported) file formats to be pasted into the SewArt workspace
  • Converts images to high-quality embroidery files for sewing
  • Supports output embroidery file formats including Brother (c) *.pes, Janome (c) *.jef, and Singer (c) *.xxx (these may be converted by SewWhat-Pro, or other embroidery editors, to a  much larger variety of embroidery file formats compatible with most home and commercial machines)
  • Contains tools for converting images into color-reduced, smoothed images suitable for digitizing
  • Includes a variety of pattern fills which can be applied to sew individual regions of the image
  • Supports both auto-digitizing and manual digitizing options to give substantial user control over the digitizing process
World of Warcraft Aggra

World of Warcraft: Aggra


How cool is that? Now that means I can (hopefully) convert my favorite World of Warcraft played character into an embroidery file. Well, I don’t actually play Aggra in WoW but I do (mainly play) female Orcs. Of course there are many other reasons I’d love to convert pictures to an embroidery file format…

I’ll definitely play around with it, before purchasing the full version and who knows as I advance with machine embroidery my needs might require that I purchase something more pricey.  At that time, I’ll start looking at other choices.

Guess what? My sewing machine is already in Maryland! It arrived yesterday the day I placed the order. Which means the warehouse where some of Amazon’s products are kept is close by.  lthough it’s here in Maryland, UPS has my package arriving to me on Monday so I’ll have to wait a bit longer. Unfortunately I won’t have time to play with it on Monday since I have a board meeting to attend that evening.

I’ve been frequenting machine embroidery forums, reading lots of information and I think I’m a well educated newb, hopefully that will be extremely helpful when my embroidery sewing machine arrives.