Sunday, January 29, 2012

No-Sew Tutorial: Fabric Push Pins

A cute & quick project for the non-crafter. Even if everything you have made until now has turned out wonky, glue-y and hopelessly homemade I promise these fabric push pins are absolutely fail-proof and will turn out perfect every time. They are rather addictive to make, and once you get going you may find it hard to stop. A set of 12, nicely packaged, would be a very sweet and cheerful teacher gift. But they are so inexpensive you may find yourself making them for everyone you know.

Materials & Supplies:
Sharp scissors
Glue gun
Fabric scraps.
Solids or very small prints work best, since you're covering a tiny area. Avoid stretchy or bulky fabrics like velvets, corduroy. A basic cotton or linen is easiest to work with.
Thumb tacks Everyday tacks are OK but since you'll be at the fabric store anyway, pick up a set of Quilter's Tacks or Upholstery Tacks. They are more substantial than ordinary thumb tacks and make a nicer finished product. I was able to buy these brass tacks from Fabricland for .20 a piece. A box of Quilter's Tacks (which I prefer) is $2.30 for 24.
Covered button kit. I used size 24. Make sure you buy metal buttons. Plastic won't work - you'll see why further down. The kit comes with four buttons and the little doo-dad to apply the fabric:

STEP ONE: Remove the button shank:

This is a fussy step, but don't get frustrated. I used a small pair of jewellery pliers to wiggle the shank until it came loose, but you could use any pliers or scissors. Just be careful: the edges of the metal disc can be sharp. Don't worry if the disc becomes dented in the process; you'll smooth it out in the next step.

Printed on the back of the button kit is a circle template. You will need this to cut the right amount of fabric to cover the metal button. Cut out the template, then cut out your fabric.

Lay your fabric circle, pattern side facing down, over the opening of the button maker. Place the metal dome over the fabric and push the dome inside so the fabric is flush and flat on the bottom.

Tuck the fabric inside the button maker:

Place the flat metal disc (the one you removed the shank from earlier) on top of the fabric.

Use the blue tool from the kit to press down firmly and evenly. The idea here is to trap the tucked fabric between the two metal pieces. You'll want to make sure the disc is flat and snug with no loose fabric visible. You'll be left with a taut and perfect fabric-covered button.

Press on the bottom of the button maker to pop out your button:

Fire up your glue gun and add a daub of glue to the head of the tack. Press the tack evenly to the back of the button. Done!

Once you already own the button making kit, replacement buttons are $2 for six. I'm looking at ways to package these to make them appealingly gifty. Will post any ideas later in the week.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Personalized Notecards Gift With Purchase

Happy and lovable Valentine cards are here and ready to spread cheer through your neighbourhood and classrooms. This year brings two new lower-priced designs:

Everyone loves FREE, so don't miss out. Spend $50 on anything in the shop and receive a set of eight personalized notecards with my thanks. Choose from the Mini Moustache or Doodle Hearts designs.

To get your hands on a set, add the notecards to your cart as usual, making sure to choose your colour and personalization info, and then enter the code "valentine" at checkout. A set of eight cards will be added to your order free of charge.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Sunday

Ask me last week and I'd have told you there was really nothing one could do to prepare for the long-reaching effects of a fenderbender. But after being involved in a minor collision with major inconvenience I have learned a few things. I will never, not ever again, drive my kids to school while wearing pyjama pants. I will carry a phone and a pen with me at all times. And I will not wait until the morning a house guest is due to arrive to vacuum the living room and set up the sofa bed. Because those three hours I thought I had to make banana bread and grab an armful of tulips? They were spent dealing with a squished station wagon, while my visiting sister was stranded at the airport.

But even the worst of times have their strange pleasures. While I probably won't wash down codeine with red wine in the name of hospitality again, it did make for a particularly enjoyable game of Scrabble. Pharmaceuticals, bed rest and making the late night acquaintance of Big Shrimpin' aside, I also had the time to come up with a new Valentine card design:

Oh the nerdy joy of changing an illustration's hair colour! Such fun. Even better was adding a hint of blush to the cheeks and a dash of white to the eyes to enliven the expression. Such fun, I tell you.

Now it might have been the codeine, but I found these message-and-candy pairings charming:

The images are too small to make out the text, so here's what they read:
1) "Be COOL Valentine" with a chocolate mint patty taped on.
2) "Have a BALL this Valentine's Day" with a packet of malt balls affixed.
3) "I'm CRAIS-y about you" with a pack of Craisins. (I guess you could also do this with a cute box of raisins, and change the spelling to cRAIS-y)
4) "You BLOW me away" with some Hubba Bubba.

Cute or codeine? I don't know, but my grade three is CRAIS-y for puns right now so I'm going with cute. If you would like your very own pun-tastic cards to amuse and impress your friends, they are now in the shop. Click for Boy cards or Girl cards.

Friday, January 13, 2012

the art of play

You know, there is more than one way to amuse a kid. When enthusiasm for their toys gives out, it's important to have other ideas at the ready. I've been thinking about this lately as I pack up and clear out un-used toys in advance of our mini relocation. We're moving out for a few weeks while some work is done on our house, and we won't be bringing more than a few treasured favourites along. Keeping babies entertained is also a frequent topic of conversation in the shop; I find moms with babies around seven or eight months looking for "something," but most baby development toys are a variation on a theme: they're plush and colourful, they're good for teething, they usually crinkle, squeak, wriggle or jingle. They serve a good purpose, but you don't need a dozen of them. Here are some un-toy things we've enjoyed:

Catching bubbles
Sorting and stacking Tupperware containers
Plastic bin filled with soapy water, measuring scoops, plastic toys
Reading a book with a puppet
Catching bubbles
Singing and tickling games
Wood cook spoons for drumming and hammering (a plastic container is easier on the ears than a pot)
Bedsheet "parachute" as baby sits in the middle of the bed
Music for dancing in your arms
Box of interesting things to explore and sort: feathers, cups, hats, rubber balls, spoons, small baskets and boxes.

Laundry hamper/basket - they make excellent jails, rocketships & basketball nets
Music & dancing - one of mine loves 1950s Sha-Boom-type stuff; the other likes the Rolling Stones. Both like it when it's loud.
Sidewalk chalk; try using it on black paper too
A scavenger hunt around the yard: find a pinecone, a dandelion, something red
Sofa cushion fort
Finding sock pairs in the giant basket of mis-matched socks (they get "points" for each pair matched)
Face painting
Hide & Seek
Basic craft supplies: glue, tape, paper, feathers, pom-poms
Baking - mine love banana bread

If you have any ideas to add, please send them over and I'll add them to the post.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Glitter Pie

I swear I am my own best customer. I love, make that LOVE, getting a visit from UPS. So happy when I have new stuff to play with. Believe me when I tell you that I agonize over each and every inventory purchase, because not only do I have to pay for it all up front, I also have to warehouse it - here in my commodious 1100 square foot Toronto home. So yeah, it's sort of a big deal when something new comes in. It means I've kind of fallen in love.

My latest infatuation is Glitter Pie Art Studio In A Box. I've been eyeballing it for a while now. I love my arts 'n crafts, I love made in Canada and I love a good buy for under 30 bucks. But I didn't totally get the concept, and then I thought that maybe you wouldn't either. It is, essentially, a box of craft supplies. Groovy and awesome one-of-a-kind craft supplies (feathers, sequins, trims, fabrics, papers, glue...) picked and packed by hand by one Toronto designer/artist, but still a box of craft supplies, right? What ultimately sold me on the fabulousness of Glitter Pie were the crazy good projects demo'd by the company owner, Tiffany Pratt. I honestly can't tell if I'm buying Glitter Pie or if I'm buying Tiffany. I think both. She's so good. And how can you not love a beautiful woman who sports orange hair so convincingly? My kids went berserk for her GoGos Christmas ball decoration idea (Do you too have a carpet full of GoGos? Here's what to do with them!) and I am all over this floral wrist corsage:

Fantastic, right? Tiffany/Glitter Pie has several video tutorials, all of them great, on You Tube in addition to clips from her appearances on the Steven & Chris show. I bet she's their favourite guest. I want to invite her for my next birthday party. If you'd like a box of Glitter Pie for yourself or a crafty little person, you will find it right over here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Thank You. Thank you very much.

I came up with the idea for children's personalized notecards while pondering the holiday thank-you notes my kids need to write this week. In the past they've made their own cards from paper and sticker supplies around the house, but rather than add a project on top of a project, I figured something personalized but relatively pre-made was the way to go. Now I'm obviously biased, but I love these! Hand-drawn hearts and a crisp and cool colour palette. I'm still working on uploading the ordering page for the boy's version, but here's a sneak peek. It makes me smile:

Personalized Stationery For Girls is now in the shop. Mini moustaches to follow. nb: And here is the link to the little guy cards: Personalized Notecards for Boys.

Monday, January 2, 2012

January's Fresh Start

We spent the first day of January ceremonially un-decorating the tree and packing away the baubles and tinsel for another year. While it does feel odd to see tulip pots at Loblaws when last week I was buying cedar branches and stems of bittersweet, I too like a fresh start.

My first post of the new year is a bit of trip down memory lane, all the way back to 2007 in fact, which is when artist Sarah Jane began illustrating and printing her delightful calendar series. I have spent so much attention the last two years on personalized art work that I'd almost forgotten how exceptionally lovely these prints are. I rediscovered them today during a pre-inventory exercise, which lead me to overhaul all of the product images to properly give these prints their due.

Such a fine way to honour a child's birthday.

Happy Fresh New Year.