May 6, 2011

Embroidery: Satin Stitching

Posted in Look, Make tagged , , , , at 10:08 pm by onetinyacorn

Embroidery is such a meditative process; I can’t get enough of it. Here are my first two attempts at satin stitching:

1. I was inspired by this image. Since the only hoop size I had was 6 inches (and–oh, small towns–I can’t buy them anywhere here; I have to order them online), I scrapped the monkey because embroidering a monkey that small would have ended up looking like a brown blob. I created the background by sewing alternating strips together, then satin stitching the elephants. I learned a few valuable lessons during this process: satin stitching looks best with shorter stitches rather than trying to cover 2+ inches with a single stitch. Also, when embroidering over multiple fabrics, make sure the weave of all fabrics is the same. That red fabric had a looser weave, and that was difficult to manage.

2. My second attempt at satin stitching, also in a 6 inch hoop. This took many episodes of Buffy to finish. It’s my own doodle; I was thinking of this Dylan poster when I sketched it. I finished the eyes with a glint of silver thread. Word to the wise: metallic thread is a pain in the ass. Don’t use it in large sections, because it tangles like nothing else.


February 11, 2011

New Embroidery

Posted in Look, Make, Shop tagged , , , , at 10:25 pm by onetinyacorn

Here’s two new things I’ve whipped up recently:

1. A matryoshka luggage tag. I took a piece of white calico, reinforced it with lightweight fusible interfacing, folded it in half, and ironed it. After stitching the matryoshka (I purchased the pattern from Sublime Stitching), I sewed one of those clear plastic pockets that come with new wallets onto the back. Whipstitched that puppy together, and now I have a stylish luggage tag.

2. Fight Club embroidery.

November 4, 2010

Halloween 2010

Posted in Look, Make tagged , , , , , at 8:50 pm by onetinyacorn

Ah, what a difference a year makes. Last Halloween, I was pretty new to town, and bummed that I didn’t have any local friends yet. This year, I spent three fun-filled days with some of my most favorite people. Here’s the breakdown:

Friday: So, one of my jobs at the library is to basically organize and  host parties. Sweet, right? We had lots of attendees show up to carve pumpkins, decorate cupcakes, and make masquerade masks. Afterward, I high-tailed it to a distant, exotic land (Colorado) to catch a late showing of Paranormal Activity 2 (while still wearing my Superwoman costume).

Paranormal Activity 2 was fairly scary, and much better than its predecessor. Although I recommend watching the first one as well, because they pick up some threads from that one and weave them together nicely. One thing that annoys me about both movies are the characters, though. I find them to be grating, and the women come across as hysterical. Weak.

Then there was costume-gazing about town, and giant $2 slices of pizza and cheap beer amidst punk music at Surfside 7 in Fort Collins. I loved that place.

Saturday: Medusa night! We went out to a local bar, and I got tons of compliments on my costume.

Here’s how I made the costume:

Materials: 6 foot-long rubber snakes, lime green duct tape, and green plastic-coated copper wire (20 gauge–it came in a 50-foot spool). Makeup that I had lying around the house.

I unwound the wire, and duct taped it along the bottom of each snake, using 1/4 inch strips of tape and placing them every 2 inches or so along the length of the snake. After all 6 were wired, I constructed a “hat” out of them by weaving them together and using long, thin strips of duct tape where two snakes intersected.

The makeup was just a shimmery gold cream, with iridescent gold-orange powder applied liberally on top so that it wouldn’t smear. I used lots of deep purple eyeshadow in an attempt to create a “smoky eye.”

Sunday: Soooo sleepy. My snowflake friend and I (Superwoman again) left work and grabbed a drink and delicious fried foods at a bar. And then I slept very soundly, for a long time.

And thus ended my favorite weekend of the year. Perhaps next year I’ll make it a whole week. I’m already thinking about my next costume…

October 28, 2009

DIY Tarot Deck

Posted in Look, Make tagged , , , , at 10:23 pm by onetinyacorn

Learning how to read Tarot cards has been an intention of mine for a few years. It just seems like a fun thing to be able to do. I decided to start by making my own deck, beginning with the 22 cards of the Major Arcana. Now, here is where knowing the symbolism in each traditional card would help. I started with a base image for each concept, and can add symbols as I learn about each card.

I cut 2.5″ x 3.5″ cards out of cardstock, sifted through my substantial collection of magazines for appropriate images, and rubber cemented those suckers on.

Tarot Deck

February 22, 2009

Green Tea Cupcakes

Posted in Make tagged , , , , at 7:41 pm by onetinyacorn

Every time I make these, at least three people ask me for the recipe. They’re my favorite cupcake recipe, with a moist crumb, and a delightful medley of almond and  green tea flavors. As cupcakes go, this is a fairly innocuous recipe, health-wise. You could even substitute half of the oil with applesauce, although that creates a slightly rubbery texture. This is the original vegan recipe, although you can substitute non-vegan ingredients and everything works out just fine.

Matcha powder  is simply green tea, ground to a silky consistency. It can be found in any pan-Asian grocery store (such as Lotus in the Strip district here in Pittsburgh). It is a little pricey, but it goes a really long way.


Green Tea Cupcakes (from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin tins (or grease them with a tiny bit of oil).

The Cupcakes

In a large bowl, whisk together:

½ cup soy yogurt
2/3 cup rice milk (soy milk works well, too)
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup canola oil
½ teaspoon almond extract

Beat well to blend in yogurt.
In a separate large bowl, sift together:

1 ¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
3-4 teaspoons matcha powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾  cup sugar

Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two batches, mixing after each addition. Beat a little longer to break up any large lumps.
Fill liners 2/3 full and bake 20 min.

Green Tea Glaze

2 tablespoons  margarine (I use butter, as a non-vegan. If you are a vegan, I like Earth Balance brand)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/8-1/4 teaspoon matcha powder
1-2 tablespoons rice milk
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
a few drops of vanilla extract

With a fork, beat butter or margarine to a fluff. Mix in confectioners’ sugar and matcha powder to form a crumbly texture. Slowly beat in 1 tablespoon rice milk, almond extract, and vanilla extract. If icing is too thick, pour in an additional teaspoon of rice milk.

Marzipan Flowers (optional)

I tend to skip this step, unless I’m making these for special occasions, simply because it’s a bit time-consuming. They are quite pretty, though. This recipe does not come from the cookbook, but from my head:

3/4 cup almonds, blanched (buying them pre-blanched will save you quite a bit of time)
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 drop red food coloring
few drops of water, if necessary

Toss the almonds and confectioners’ sugar into a food processor and process away! The goal is to grind those almonds into a fine powder–or as close to a powder as you can get them. Otherwise, your marzipan will be grainy. Toss in the wet ingredients, except for the water, and process again. You’ll want a dough-like substance to form–something resembling cookie dough, except maybe a bit dryer. If a dough is not forming, add a few drops of water at a time.

When you get the right consistency, spread out your marzipan on a countertop that has been lightly dusted with confectioners’ sugar. You can use either a small cookie cutter (1-2 inches in diameter), or a knife to create your flowers. You might want to try cutting out individual petals, then pressing five petals together to form a flower.

To Assemble

Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, use a tablespoon to pour green tea glaze into the center of each cupcake. Spread out a bit with the back of the spoon. Gently place marzipan flowers on top of the glaze. Let glaze set before serving.

December 14, 2008

Sweater Project #3: Arm Warmers

Posted in Make tagged , , , , at 10:25 pm by onetinyacorn

Okay, this one is kind of a no-brainer. Nevertheless, I love arm warmers, and my new pair is warm yet lightweight–perfect for throwing into my bag in the morning, and whipping out as the climate changes.

skill level: beginner

time: 15 minutes

materials: sweater, ruler, marker, scissors or rotary cutter and mat, elastic thread and needle (optional), buttons (optional)

1. Fold what remains of your sweater so that the sleeves are aligned on a hard, flat surface.

2. Determine how long you want your arm warmers to be, and measure up from the ends of the sleeves. I left the edges raw, and haven’t had any problems with unraveling. If you have a loosely knit sweater or just don’t like the look of raw edges, add an extra 1/2 to 1 inch to your arm warmers. Of course, this will add bulk at the tops, so be forewarned if you’re working with a thick sweater. You could also cuff them at the tops. Maybe add a few buttons along one side…go crazy.

3. Mark a dotted line where you will be cutting. You could cut it at an angle for superhero-esque cuffs (I think that in that case, you’d definitely want to eliminate the raw edge. If the knit is too bulky, you can just machine-finish the edges with an elastic thread (or with a stitch designed for stretchy fabrics).

4. Cut along the dotted line.

5. That’s it! If desired, finish/embellish as stated above.


November 30, 2008

Sweater Project #2: Professor Sweater

Posted in Make tagged , , , , , , at 3:48 pm by onetinyacorn

I’ve always wanted a jacket with elbow patches–the kind that professors are purported to wear (although I’ve never actually seen one wearing them). I decided to use leftover cashmere from my hat project to make my own patches.

Professor Sweater

skill level: intermediate. Beginner if using non-stretchy fabric (corduroy, for instance).

time: 1 1/2-2 hours

materials: 2 sweaters, cardstock or scrap paper, scissors, marker, pins, iron, spray starch (optional), needle and thread (preferably embroidery thread).

1. Lay out what remains of your sweater on a hard, even surface. Use a large-ish expanse of the fabric–enough to accommodate two of your ovals. I used the back of the sweater. Don’t use the arms, as you’ll be using those for project #3. Smooth out any wrinkles in the fabric.

2. On cardstock or scrap paper, sketch an oval shape to the dimensions that you desire for your patches. You could use a template if you’re a symmetrically-challenged artist. Draw a larger oval around your first oval–make it approximately 1/2 an inch larger all around.

3. Cut out your larger oval, and position it on the sweater remnants.

4. Using a marker, gently draw a dotted line around the oval template. Be careful not to pull on the sweater. Repeat once.

5. Using sharp scissors, carefully cut out each oval. Check to ensure that they are the same size.

6. Generally, there’s a “right” side and a “wrong” side for fabric. In knits, the “right” side usually looks like a series of v shapes with a vertical orientation, and the “wrong” side like horizontally-oriented dashed lines.

If you care about matching up the sides of the ovals to the sides of the sweater upon which you will be sewing, mentally note which side is which now. Place oval (“right” side down) on an ironing board. Fold in fabric approximately 1/2 an inch around the perimeter, and iron gently. I held the folded fabric, a little at a time, and laid the tip of the iron close to my finger, working my way around the oval. You could also notch the fabric to reduce bulk, although I didn’t and it was fine. Don’t pull on the fabric with the iron, just lay it down and hold for a second or two. If it’s not a perfect oval, don’t worry about it too much–it can be fixed as you sew. If they’re really wonky, though, try to re-shape the oval in the weird spots and iron again (spray starch may help to create a crisper line). When you’re happy with the shape, flip them over and press them for a second with the iron.


7. Take another sweater (or jacket, or whatever you want to adorn with your new patches). Figure out where you want to place the patches, and pin in place. You may want to carefully try on the garment to check your placement. I went a little overboard with the pins, placing them every 1/2 an inch or so around the ovals.

8. You might be able to machine-sew these in place, but given the stretch of the knits and the placement, I opted to hand-stitch them. I used two strands of embroidery floss (the strands being the individual threads, not the grouping of six that form the floss), carefully sewing about 1/8 of an inch inside the edge of the oval. Any small imperfections in your shape can be fixed as you sew, by carefully rolling the edge of the oval in or out as needed. Remove the pins as you approach them while sewing. As always, be careful not to stretch anything while sewing. If any pin marks remain, a quick press with an iron should remove them.

9. Tie off the loose ends, and admire your new sweater in the mirror.

November 25, 2008

1 Sweater= 4 Crafty Projects

Posted in Make tagged , , , , , , at 10:59 pm by onetinyacorn

Every once in a while, I’ll be standing in a store, fingering some mass-produced item and it occurs to me, “Hey! You’re crafty! Why don’t you just make that thing that you want?” It’s always a little funny to me that this doesn’t neccessarily immediately occur to me, despite a lifetime of Making Things. I think it says a lot about the conditioned impulse towards consumerism, but that’s another post…

So I needed a hat. My beloved cashmere sweater had a tear in the neckline, so I decided to sacrifice it. What resulted was no less than 4 independent items. Today I present to you:

The Little Edie Hat

skill level: beginner

time: 30 minutes-1 hour

materials needed: 1 sweater, scissors (or a rotary cutter and mat), marker, ruler, thread and needle, seam ripper (optional–helpful if there are tags from the sweater to remove), and brooch (optional).

1. Lay your sweater down on a hard, flat surface. Smooth out any wrinkles.

2. Measure up eleven inches from the bottom of the sweater. Use a marker to lightly draw a dotted line across the width of the sweater (uniformly eleven inches from the bottom).

3. Use sharp scissors (or a rotary cutter, if you have one) to cut along the dotted line, being careful not to pull the sweater as you go. Cut just inside of the line, so that no ink shows up on the fabric.

4. You should have a tube of fabric eleven inches high. This will become your hat. Save the rest of that sweater!

5. Mark how wide you want your hat to be. I noticed that by folding my tube in two, I had the perfect width, plus extra warmth from two layers of cashmere. (If you are not so lucky, you’ll just have to cut up one side of the tube. Wrap that around your head, and pinch the edge of the fabric where it overlaps on your head. Add an extra inch in width, cut off the excess material, and stitch it up. Presto).

Back to the doubled-up hat:

6. Turn tube inside-out, so that the side seams are visible. Align those side seams so that one rests on top of the other. You can use a machine to sew along the seams, just make sure to use a stitch made for knits. I opted to use an embroidery stitch and hand-sew up the seams with embroidery floss, for turbo strength.Tie off each end of thread.

Center Stitch

Center Stitch

Close-up of embroidery

Embroidery Close-Up

*Public Service Announcement* When you’re in a craft store, you may eye the cheap thread–maybe Coats and Clark brand. I once did this myself. However, after splurging on Gutermann thread, I will never look back. If you compare the strength of the two, Gutermann is much, much stronger. If any stress will be placed on whatever you’re sewing, I would opt for the latter brand. I don’t work for them or anything–Coats and Clark just really sucks. *End of Public Service Announcement*

7. This part’s a little tricky to explain–it’s like origami. You have a tube, bisected by a line sewn down the middle. Take one of those sections, and fold over the other tube, inverting along the way.

8. You’ve got yourself a hat! You can sew up one end, but I’ve found that my hat keeps me quite toasty without it. I’m on the lookout for a brooch to perfect the Little Edie hat…

All done!

All done!

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