Dec 29

advent-detail2

My family tries to exchange primarily handmade gifts whenever possible. We’ve found that it has helped us focus on what Christmas is really about and get away from feeling trapped by all the consumerism that surrounds the holidays. I love to see what my parents and siblings come up with to give each year, and I enjoy plotting and planning my own handmade gifts. It’s also interesting to see which ideas are hits (duct tape wallets), and which are misses (the homely crochet-altered t-shirt I made for my mom this year – she actually laughed in my face when she opened it. Strangely, it entertained me rather than offended me.)

advent-nativity

I hit the jackpot this year with a great advent calendar my mom made for me. It’s a nativity scene theme, and is really cute! I’m sure we will get decades of enjoyment out of this gift!

portlandtea

My sister made these adorable little packets that are filled with her own blends of loose tea. She sewed sturdy gift wrap into bags, and then sealed them with buttons and added a custom label to each. I LOVE the packets – so creative and cute!

wrap-spool

My sister also got lots of mileage out of trinkets received in the Sampler, by attaching them to gifts as gift tags and baubles. I love this handspun yarn on a spool… I’m so sorry, I didn’t get a photo of who the sample is from, and this gift wasn’t for me!

lootbag-e

One of my handmade gifts to everyone were monogrammed loot bags. I made about eight of them the day before Christmas Eve, and seriously, the entire project took me two hours or less to sew. I assembly-lined the whole thing (cut everything at the same time, sewed all the monogrammed letters on the corduroy, sewed up the bags, etc.) and it was amazing how quickly the whole thing came together. Oh, and I got to burn through some of my stash fabric! I bought a whole bunch of holiday/winter fabric several years ago when it was on super-sale. It felt SO GOOD to use some of it up!!

lootbag-applique

The loot bags were also very useful for everyone to put their Christmas swag into. You know how all that little stocking stuff gets all over the place! In my imagination, everyone will put the loot bags in their Christmas boxes (or their stockings?) to use for next year, so I hope it comes true! Or, if they want to keep them out to use all year, that would also be fine! (Not that I attach any strings to gifts I give – do what you want with them, or not, y’all!)

tractorsheets

My mom was so nice to fulfill a gift request I made: to make two crib sheets, two pillowcases, and two curtains for the boys’ room. She complied and used some adorable construction vehicle fabric.

tractorcurtains

Now I just need to paint a mural on the wall, and they’ll be all set!

What did you make or receive this year?

Dec 18

These are nothing near as exciting as the chenille stem wonderment that’s going on over at Craftypod, but here are some ten second pipecleaner ornaments for you to make. Or, more probably, for your kiddos to make! This would be a great scout or classroom project. Or, these could make cute package tie-ons.

What you need:

  • Cookie Cutters
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Ribbon (optional)

To make:

Bend a pipecleaner along the edges of a cookie cutter, paying special attention to each crease and corner of the cookie cutter. When you have bent around all edges of cookie cutter, fasten ends of pipecleaner together to finish shape. Tweak the shape of the ornament, if needed.

You have to hold the pipecleaner with both hands simultaneously while doing this, but I was taking a photo

You have to hold the pipecleaner with both hands simultaneously while doing this, but I was taking a photo

If your cookie cutter’s sides are longer than one pipecleaner, you will want to start by bending two pipecleaners together (leave a loop at the top, if desired, as in the star ornament shown in the photo at the top of the page).

I think it could be cool to do a couple pipecleaners twisted together to make a sturdier frame, and then wrap some fabric or ribbon around the pipecleaners (wrap-style) to make it a little less, uh, tacky-lookin’.

Dec 17

I’ve seen this yarn-filled glass bulb project around, but I can’t remember where I saw it last year. I was so inspired by that post author (whoever you are!) that last December I got three boxes of these glass ornaments with which to make this craft. I was kidding myself because I was 9 months pregnant, it was Christmas time, and we were moving on December 26th… so I didn’t get around to making these ornaments until last week!

The idea I saw centered around putting yarn from your stash into the glass bulbs. I love this idea because I have some pretty novelty yarn that I bought randomly with no projects in mind (like the Noro shown in the bulb above), that just don’t suit my crochet/knitting style.

My twist on the project is that I also used a length of the same yarn to hang the bulb with, showcasing the yarn another way.

To make them: I either fed the yarn through the hole in the bulb slowly (to create the coiling/balling effect), or I had a big mass of the yarn and shoved it through the hole with a pen (this method used for the pink ornament).

These are hard to take good photos of if you’re in a hurry (as I always am), so I hope you will get the idea! I like the orange eyelash yarn – it looks like fire in a bulb in real life!

p.s. If you know where I saw it last year (I think it was linked to on a pretty big blog), let me know and I’ll link to it!

Dec 7

Yesterday my friend and her sons came over. I took the two year-olds and made salt dough ornaments with them via Sister Diane’s recipe in her cool Christmas Zine.

I added a cup of cocoa powder to one batch because I want to make a garland inspired by these felt ornaments (which were inspired by gingerbread, so it’s a chicken and egg kind of thing).

(Sorry for the poor photos… someone’s fingerprints are on my camera lens and I didn’t know it until now, and it’s night. Impatient!)

I am probably going to make royal icing to decorate these because I have everything on hand for it, and it’s cheap, and I don’t want to add any new craft supplies to my collection if I can avoid it at the moment. However, I thought it would be super simple to use dimensional (fabric-type) paint to decorate them… just an idea! Hmm, maybe I can just use acrylic paint?

The boy in the top photo is my friend’s son. He LOVED making these. He played with the dough for about an hour. You can see his creations on the pan above (all the light-colored dough is his). My son made one and was bored, UNTIL I had him make a handprint (a quintessential way to use salt dough, I might add!), and then he couldn’t get enough. We used up all the dough making handprints, which is a good thing because we could have been there all night given an unlimited supply of dough!

I’m going to let him paint his handprint so we can hang it on the tree. I also had the baby make a print or two.

Oct 15

Check out this $5 no-sew candy costume at Dollar Store Crafts!

Oct 13

Scary Frankenstein sandwich!

For this sandwich, I made a PB&J, and then spread a very thin layer of green frosting over the top. I cut off the sides and bottom crusts.

  • jelly: hair & monobrow
  • apples cut with melon baller to make them round: eyes, nose
  • honeydew melon ball in half (from frozen fruit mix): ears
  • frozen blueberry, halved (from mix): pupils
  • piece of lunchmeat cut with melon baller: mouth background
  • piece of apple: tooth
  • heirloom cherry tomato, quartered: weird lips
  • remaining crust pieces: bolts in neck

Thoughts: For this guy, I drew a picture of the face before I started (earlier in the day), but I didn’t have specific materials in mind before I started, and it shows! I am still trying to figure out what a good material for making darks is (the hair, the background of the mouth). And, the flavor mix is a bit odd… um, frosting with lunchmeat on it? If my kid was older than 2, that probably wouldn’t fly!

Buttercream frosting: I had it left over from another project, but y’know, it could be very convenient for fun food making to just have small amounts of different colored frosting in the fridge. It seems to keep for a long time.

Style: I like the off-center facial features… sort of reminiscent of a Picasso. If I would have offset the eyes, maybe!

Oct 10

Another quick fun food idea: Hot Cereal Dracula face!

You need:
A bowl of hot cereal (cream of wheat, oatmeal, etc)
raisins (hair, nose, mouth)
craisins (pupils)
banana slice (cut in half whites of eyes)
white chocolate chip (quartered for fangs)

Oct 9
apple spider

apple spider

I actually dreamed all night of making fun food, and in my dream I came up with this idea: the apple spider. This is a quick fun snack if you don’t have a lot of time to make an intricate design.

To make the body: cut across the top of a small apple, about 3/4″ from the top.

To make the legs: cut the remaining part of apple with apple corer, and use the resulting eight pieces for legs.

Eyes and Web: Eyes are craisins and web is yogurt piped through a baggie (make sure your baggie isn’t fluted at the corners like mine and you’ll get a neater line). Highlights on eyes are also yogurt.

To assemble: put the body and three legs on each side. Pipe yogurt web onto plate and place front legs.

Here’s the first version I tried – with eight eyes and some Dracula gummy teeth.

Nov 7
I Took The Handmade Pledge! BuyHandmade.orgHave you taken the Handmade Pledge for this holiday season, yet?

As of right now, 4367 people have signed the pledge to buy handmade this season at Buyhandmade.org. What do you have to do? Just sign the petition: “I pledge to buy handmade this holiday season, and request that others do the same for me.”

If you need some help finding great handmade holiday gifts, sign up for DIY Alert’s holiday newsletter, the Handmade Holiday Alert! Artists featured are Portland-based, but most of them accept online orders!

Handmade Holiday Alert Makes Buying Handmade Easy

PORTLAND, OREGON In an effort to help Portlanders support local micro-businesses, DIY Alert has launched a limited-run email newsletter called the Handmade Holiday Alert.
“Portland has such a talented community of makers,” says DIY Alert ‘s founder, Diane Gilleland, “and many of them earn part of their living from their handmade work. We wanted to provide these artists and crafters with better exposure to holiday shoppers.”
The Handmade Holiday Alert will be sent to over 700 subscribers each Friday through December 21. Each issue introduces five local makers, and tells stories about their work. Subscriptions are free, and available at http://www.diyalert.com/user/register.
“This is a very personal approach,” says Gilleland. “We’re trying to help shoppers understand that they’re buying from real people — fellow Portlanders. We want everyone to see the positive impact they can have by shopping locally for holiday gifts — not to mention, see the amazing variety of stuff out there.”
The Handmade Holiday Alert also encourages shoppers to buy handmade gifts rather than mass-produced ones this season.
“Handmade things are so much more personal and special,” says Gilleland. “Why give another factory-made gadget, one of millions in existence, when you can give a one-of-a-kind scarf or handbag — something with a story behind it?”
DIY Alert is an online hub for Portland artists and crafters, offering a managed calendar of creative events around the city. The website regularly profiles local artists and crafters, and offers reviews of local creative spots. DIY Alert is perhaps best known for its Crafty Google Map of Portland. (http://www.diyalert.com/Crafty_Portland_Map)