Flip Dolls Pattern Hop

Psst! Join us in April for the Flip Dolls Pattern Hop. Four lovely bloggers and I will be making Flip Dolls using the patterns in my book, which includes tips for making your own characters with my pattern. I'll be making a new variation of the flip doll, and I can't wait to see what else (or who else!) turns up. 

Want to participate? I'll add a linky widget on April 21, so you can link to your own flip dolls. So get sewing! Take some pictures of your doll, post them on your blog/Flickr/wherever, then add the link after April 21. Can't wait to see what you're doing, too!

If you haven't got your copy yet, my publisher is offering a book giveaway on each blog, too. So come sew with us, win a book, and enjoy some clever flip dolls with me!


Make a Weeble Toy

I made these weeble eggs recently. I'd been thinking about trying it for awhile, but I was just sure it would turn out to be harder than I thought - that I would realize you'd need some sort of special shaped metal bearing or something.

But nope. It turns out these are super easy. :)

Give it a try! Here goes:

Find some easter eggs. [The kind with the little bit of plastic keeping the top and bottom together are nice because they will help you keep your drawing lined up neatly after opening. But any kind will do.]

Use a hot glue gun or crazy glue to secure a marble to the bottom inside of the egg. [Be sure the marble is centered on the bottom. If its off center your weeble will lean, like my lion below...]

Use a sharpie to draw on your weeble. [You could probably do something more complicated like paint or glitter-y pens - but the bright color of the eggs contrasted with the black sharpie looks pretty sweet to me, so you might as well keep it simple.]

Aaaaaaaand... WOBBLE!


Toy Portraits and Photo Albums

The girls have taken to making family portraits of their toys. Technically, I was the photographer, but at their insistance, and they helped pose the toys. Once we print the pictures on paper, they like to cut them out and glue them to a different sheet of paper and label them "Cat Family Photo" and the like. 

Seems to be quite a human quality - to make families, to collect, photograph, organize and label things. To try to organize facts and understand things. 

Meanwhile, I've printed more shutterfly photo books for our last few years. Its super satisfying to have those digital images manifested in hand. The kids love flipping through them and hearing stories about things they've forgotten. Love it! If you print your own, be sure to google for shutterfly coupons first! They've got great ones out there most of the time if you look.


The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Unit

We finished reading the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in early December, and I'm realizing now that sharing all the details of our school projects is like adding a chore on top of the work. So I doubt I'll share very many of our study units - but here's a bit of what we did for our introduction to Narnia.

1. We listened to about two chapters each day. Chapters 1 and 2 are here, to find the rest go to the main page of Under the Grapevine.

2. I found some free Lapbook stuff here:

3. There's a fancier lapbook you can buy here with more writing pages for older kids:

It turns out, I'm not really into lapbooks. Maybe its the age of my kids, but it seems like too much cutting for me, and not enough stuff for them. Plus, I don't like all the clip art people use, and I ended up printing some of the original illustrations from the book and pasting them over the clip art - which was just more unnecessary work (for me, not the kids!). Still we like a lot of the ideas and activities other people come up with, so we use them as starting points. We ended up assembling most of our work into a folder instead.

4. Cool map of narnia to print: http://folk.uio.no/solveii/NarniaMap.jpg

5. Really excellent traditional turkish delight recipe (not too many ingredients) with a video: http://titlisbusykitchen.com/archives/turkish-delight

I just felt like we HAD to make turkish delight. To talk about foods from other times and places, to get our hands dirty, to try this thing I'd never had. I was prepared for it to be not awesome, so I think I was pleasantly satisfied.

I bought rose water online because it seems to be the most traditional form, and probably what Edmund had, but I'd like to try it again with a cinnamon version because my kids are more likely to eat that. I really did like the turkish delight, and we all loved making it. It was a really cool process. It got dry and gooey (do those go together) after  a few days, and so we ended up throwing most of it out. So maybe make a half recipe next time? Or share with friends?

On to Prince Caspian!
...well, maybe in a few months. :)


Kittens: Soupa and Moupes

I've been eyeing this kitty pattern from Make Your Own Toys by Sue Havens for a few years. I don't really use patterns very often since most of the time I just like to make it up as I go. Invariably, using someone else's pattern always leads me to do something in a way I wouldn't have planned myself. I think that's probably a pretty good thing. Sue's book is full of really cute animals in a simple and sort of classic rag-doll style. She encourages reusing fabrics, which I love. These are made from an orangey-gold sweater.

So these kittens I've named Soupa and Moupes, although the girls have rejected these names for something more practical, like Kitty.


Spoonflower Swatches and Felt Figures

I love my felt boards! We use these occasionally for play and school, and I realize now I haven't shared half the stuff we use them for. I'll try to remember to share more!

For Christmas, I thought I'd take advantage of Spoonflower to make some My Little Pony felt figures. Because, we need some Twilight Sparkle in our grassy meadow, folks.

Here's a super easy way to turn your custom prints (or any print you find at the store) into felt figures.

1. Print an 8" spoonflower swatch filled with figures. 

2. Cut a piece of sticky felt down to 8" square. Peel the back off and stick your swatch on. 

3. Cut out your figures!

4. If you cut figures from fabric larger than an 8"swatch, cut them out loosely first and try to fit them as closely together on the sticky felt as you can so you waste less.

The cutting takes time, but the custom figures are a hit!


Print and Draw Valentines

I drew some stuff, too.
Easy printable valentines. We printed these, then drew with my copic markers (or you could use sharpies) to turn the hearts into various animals or things. Grey rocket ships, orange giraffes, green trees. It was a super fun prompt!

June used the hearts as a backdrop.  
Louise drew animals: Rhino, cardinal, lion, giraffe, whale, and elephant

Silly portraits are fun!

Purple was hard - so we made boats and hot air balloons. 

Command click to open the pic below in a new window to grab it. When you print, choose "do NOT scale to fit media" and they should print evenly into 9 cards.  Cut apart on the light gray lines. 

Happy Valentine's Day!


Color Robot: A Comic for you

Louise had a brilliant idea while traveling in the car the other day. She pretended to be a robot. A hungry robot. At first she asked for a nail slushie, but then she began eating all of the colors she saw out the window. And so the idea of a color-eating robot was born. The girl's got a one track mind, and immediately upon returning home she began work on her color-eating robot comic. We used How to Make a Comic from our art week as a guide again.

She drew all of the pictures and developed the story herself. We spent some time together figuring out how to do the important facial expressions, and I would occasionally have her rethink how she was drawing something or prompt her with questions like, "do you think you should draw this tree the same way you drew it before?" Sometimes she rejected my comments, but she was up for the challenge. After drawing it, I did the ink for her again and scanned it. Then we were able to print a few copies for her to color. She made one with crayon, and is still working on a watercolor version. 
I cautiously asked if she minded if I colored a copy on the computer, too. I was thrilled that she said yes! She really likes collaborating, and I took her feedback on colors as well. She also insisted on including me on the title page.
This is my finished copy. I scaled it down to fit on one sheet of legal paper. Louise also really wanted to print lots of copies and give them to everyone.  I was a little thrilled at the zine potential. We haven't actually printed any copies yet, but I could see this being folded and mailed to friends. :)

This pic is full scale, 300 dpi. Print and share the love!


Crocodile GIFs

I've been goofing around with gifs a bit lately. Hey, I'm still in vacation mode. I'm still figuring out how to save them without losing quality. I'd hoped to make this the banner for this page, but it's not quite there yet. I'd really like it to have more of a hand drawn feel, but it got a little pixel-y. I made this on in photoshop.

This second one was cleaned up in ai, but made into a gif through photoshop. It turned out nicely!

As a kid, my dream job was to be a cartoonist. So, I'm going to relive that through my kids homeschooling, right? Of course. I think if I can figure all the tech out, the girls and I can try making hand drawn flip books, then scan them in. I'm collecting gif tutorials here.

Feel free to share any advice!


Last Minute Stocking Stuffers [Made By Joel]

I discovered Made By Joel last week, and I absolutely love everything about him. His designs are simple, but oh-so lovely and creative. Explore his site and be sure to check out his crafts by age.

I stapled together the Thaumatrope, Tumble Bunnies, and Paper Woodpecker Toys, with Straw, Skewer, and two marbles in a bag. Several projects are printed two per page, so I cut them apart first. 

I printed a few of his projects (Paper Woodpecker, Bird Thaumatrope, and Tumble Bunnies) onto cardstock for stocking stuffers for my kids and my nieces and nephew. Then I assembled them into kits, with the other materials needed to make the projects. That way, the kids can help make them later - double fun! I should have added instructions to the kits, but didn't get to it - maybe we'll do it together at Christmas - otherwise, hey sis, check out the links above!

As I was assembling the kits, I realized two of the kids in our family were really too young to be given [ahem] marbles and skewers in their stockings, so I just assembled the thaumatropes using plastic straws for the little ones. Whew, that was a close one. His coloring pages are great for little ones, too.

For the cousins: Tumble Bunnies and Thaumatropes, with two marbles and a skewer in a bag. The assembled Thaumatropes with plastic straws for the little ones.

Below is a playlist of several Made by Joel youtube videos. He definitely wins for best use of a pop-up puppet ever! Enjoy!



Book Review and Give Away

If you haven't gotten a copy yet, there's another Flip Dolls and Other Toys give-away going on and Sew Can She, along with a book review. Caroline made my Gulp the Whale, and Owl and Pussycat Flip Doll, and they're so delightful! Head over to check out her pictures and sign up for the give away!


A Litte More Spoonflower, Wall Paper, and a Whole Lot of Wood

I've been playing on spoonflower again. Oh, I love it there. I just discovered the wall paper feature, and just fell in love with my cheater print as a wall paper design.

Of course, my walls are all made of wooden planks (not to mention I don't know how to put up wall paper, and that's a lot of color for a wall, yo) - but I've been enjoying looking anyway. I thought maybe I could just do wall paper on one side of my kitchen island? Hmm... something to think about.

Or okay, something to design a print for... How's this?


I put this together using some of my favorite fiesta colors. With my woodsy house, I like folk-y designs. I could print matching fabric to use for the curtain in my pantry, too! Or is that too matchy-matchy?

My designs for my house are here, and my cheater prints are here. I saw that one of their upcoming contests is for cheater quilt blocks with a floral design and a limited palette. I edited my flower garden cheater to use their palette, because I just can't resist a contest. 

flower garden quilt cheater - color palette for contest

And I've been meaning to beg for help from all of you clever crafty folks about my interior design. We have beautiful wood walls... and wood ceilings, and wood floors. It's a lot of wood, folks. I need some color, and some light. But I'm afraid to paint anything - because its beautiful wood. So to recap: its beautiful, but there's too much. 

Here's the one wall I've painted:

 I was disappointed that my pretty staircase had a big ugly vent. I felt pretty confident that if I painted this bit of wall white, the vent wouldn't stand out so much, and the white would make the wood around it prettier. It also reflects some light from the windows to brighten up the kitchen a bit. I feel good about this.

The rest of the walls in the main room are super tall. And even in the smaller rooms, once you paint it you can never go back. So basically, I'm chicken.

What do you think friends? Paint a smaller room or two? Put some giant white paintings on the wall? Help a girl out. 


More Spoonflower Swatches: libraries, cats, upholstery and more!

I just received a whole bunch of new swatches from spoonflower! It's happiness in a soft paper package.

First, is a Library Collection I made, complete with John at his desk, bookshelves, chewed on pencils and a library cat. I don't like the house plant fabric very much, but that sure is a nice yellow.

six prints
the complete library scene
library cat
I don't have any plans for these, they were just fun to make. Some of these are much nicer when you can see the repeat. Like this one.

Librarians at work

This set was meant to be some simple designs for upholstery in our new house.

I haven't made any changes to my Sea Creatures Collection, but I got some swatches for a little swatch - stocking stuffer - project I have in mind. More about that coming up in a few days. In the meantime, you can check out this collection from a few years ago here.

Fish Pink

And this was supposed to be a whole fairy tale collection for my sister, the storyteller - but I got distracted and never finished it. I did put together a little Baba Yaga House in the Woods, which I think is kinda cute. It's begging to be developed into a collection. We'll see.

I also made these two sort of random prints that are now in my Uncollected Collection. I think this nature walk print might be one of my strongest ever. We're really into nature collections around here, so I had a shelf full of things to draw from. When I received the swatch I noticed a fine white line on one side of the repeat. I was able to quick fix the image and upload the revision. Thank goodness for swatches!

A lot of the detail in this one is lost when you look at the pattern on the fat quarter scale. I think that's my only complaint with Spoonflower - prints on a smaller scale don't look as good on the website as the larger prints. So I'm more drawn to the easy to see large prints, but practically I rarely sew with large prints. I wish they had a zoomed in small scale print option!

The other uncollected design was a pretty little fall print just for fun. There were two visible white lines in this one. They're much harder to see on the computer, but obvious in print. Now I'm stretching my background color beyond the edges of the art board to ensure that doesn't happen again.

More fun with Spoonflower! Check out the rest of my designs here. 

Spoonflower swatches: Girls and Dinosaurs, and Cheater quilts

A few spoonflower posts coming up...

I made this collection of prints of girls with dinosaurs sometime a year or two ago, when my girls were really into dinosaurs. Somehow I never got around to sharing them here - or using the prints in a quilt as I intended. I still really enjoy them, so maybe they'll come back around.

I also printed a few versions of my flower garden cheater print.

I have since edited the colors of the multi-color print to match some of my fiesta and house colors. I still really really really really love these. I was disappointed when I realized I couldn't make a twin blanket without a giant seam in the middle, and so I gave up. But maybe I'll have to make a throw for myself, eh? Dang, why am I not doing that right now? [wandering off...]

Flower Garden Cheater