Finish It Update

So yesterday was the deadline for my Finish It challenge and I must say I definitely fell short from where I wanted to be, but I still feel good about what all I got done. The craft fair helped me finish a lot of projects that were sitting in the bins, namely the owl pincushions, 12 of which had the body pieces sewn together and just needed some stuffing and finishing, the wrist warmers that just needed their buttons sewn on, and the hairpins which had all the covered buttons done and were sitting in the jar of hairclip bases.

Vanessa took this one. ^

Even though I did not finish everything on the list, I am most proud of myself for not starting any new projects, save for the squirrels for the craft fair. Everything else was either a continuation of a line of unfinished projects or stuff I had made earlier and saved.

But the best part of this challenge was by far the fact that some of my friends participated in it and finished all of their projects!

Suzanne from my knit group, who is most definitely the most talented knitter among us, had a bunch of seriously big projects to complete, including blankets, sweaters, and various Christmas gifts, and she managed to finish every last one and even did some unfinished home improvement-type things like framing artwork, etc, well before the deadline. I wish she had a place where she posts pictures of her amazing works, she should be proud to show the world what she can do!

Another friend from S&B, Vanessa, also finished most all of her projects, her most recent update on her progress can be found here.

So, in summary, I am still going with the challenge to myself even if the broader one has ended. No new projects until all the old ones are done.


Felt Mushroom Tutorial

A couple of readers recently messaged me asking how I made the little felt mushrooms that are featured on the banner for my blog. Funny timing, because I was just gearing up to make a few more of them for the craft fair at the RAC. I have made quite a few of these since Christmas last year, and they take me a lot of time to do, so I am understandably a little burnt on cranking them out. The thought of making them for this year's fair never crossed my mind until Jill was on the phone with one of the organizers discussing our space. The lovely lady that bought some of them from me last year, who happens to work for the RAC, was in the background yelling,"More mushrooms!" Thusly, with such an enthusiastic request, I had to make at least a few for fun.

But these may be some of the last I make, and most definitely the last big grouping for a while, so I figured I would make a little tutorial so people can make their own. They would be great in Christmas colors as decorations, maybe with a loop of embroidery floss through the top for an ornament hanger, or in any color as a sweet little gift.

Felt Mushrooms

Eco-Felt (felt made from recycled plastic bottles), in a color of your choice.
Scrap of coordinating cotton fabric.
Contrasting embroidery floss.
Clean scrap paper, like newsprint.
A few vintage buttons.

1. I did not use a pattern to create these mushrooms, but I do like to use something to trace a circle for the top. Depending on how big you want your shroom to be, it could be a glue bottle, a coffee cup, or even a small saucer, who knows! For this tutorial I used a water bottle which makes a large mushroom.

Using a fabric marking pen (the kind that fades in 24 hours), trace your circle template onto the cotton fabric, cut it out, then lay it on top of the felt and cut out a matching circle.

2. I like to use three buttons per mushroom, but feel free to go crazy with it or even use felt dots or embroider a million French knots too. I like to attach my buttons with simple square knots.

3. Sandwich your felt and cotton circles with wrong sides together. Using the whole strand of embroidery floss (don't split it), blanket stitch them together until you only have about an inch left to go. I like to start the stitch from the inside to hide the knot easily.

4. Now comes the stuffing. Something interesting that I never really told anyone about my first batch of mushrooms was that they were actually intended as a political art statement. I never had a chance to tell people about the idea before I sold them at the fair, so I guess now is as good a time as any.
I stuffed the mushrooms with a torn and crumpled voter information sheet that I got with my voting materials that year. Get it? A bunch of fungus stuffed with political information? Yup.
But feel free to stuff yours with whatever you wish, maybe an old love letter or your driving test. Or plain old newspaper is fine, be sure it is lightweight so it doesn't get too lumpy.

I like to tear off little bits and crunch them up, then pack the circle with them until it looks how I want it. I stuff them with paper as opposed to batting because you can crunch and sculpt the edges of the cap so it is not poofy, in addition to the eco-ness of using recycled paper and the political-ness of the voter info pages. Also I like the way it feels under the felt, I dunno. Here it is before I squished it down a bit, and it is too poofy:

And here it is after I pressed the edges a bit:

Anywho, stuff it until you get the desired shape, then finish blanket stitching the opening and hide the knot by threading both leftover ends through the needle, putting the needle in between the layers of fabric and coming out somewhere in the middle of the cap, then pull it tight and snip off the excess:

5. When it comes to the stem, I like to freehand the shape. You could make it long and skinny or short and fat, whatever you like. I try to make them relatively proportionate to the top when it comes to length, and a bit on the skinny side, so they look like Shitake mushrooms. The shape I trace for the stem is a trapezoid like this:

6. Fold the stem in half lengthwise and blanket stitch it into a tube, and be sure to leave about 5-6 inches of floss at the beginning and end of the seam, for attaching the cap and bottom:

7. Now to cut out the bottom of the stem. Again I just eyeball it (each mushroom comes out different and special that way), so I look at the bigger opening and try to cut out a circle that will match it. You could trace it if you want but it is not necessary.

Use the remaining floss to attach the circle to the bottom of the stem and hide the knot.

8. Stuff the stem the same way you stuffed the top, using a pencil to push the bits down in. I like to crumple the papers in a longish shape to make them easier to fit inside. Roll the stem between your thumb and forefinger to smooth out any lumps. And make sure you stuff it pretty firmly all the way to the top so the cap will not flop around.

9. Use the floss hanging off the top of the stem to whip stitch it to the center of the cap. You don't have to blanket stitch this part because it is just too awkward. Just make sure it is tightly stitched and relatively neat, then hide that knot and you are done!

Just try not to spend all your free time making these, okay? Lol.

If you have found this or any of my other free patterns useful and would like to help me keep creating them I accept PayPal donations!


Craft Fair Recap

Well, the RAC Craft Fair was a complete success! Lots of my creations found good homes and the rest will go up on etsy, though I don't think I will find the time to do it in time for the holidays, oh well.

Here's a bunch of photos from the fair, and there's a few more on my flickr page here.

My roommate's boyfriend took home one of Sylvia's squirrels! They were by far her best seller. Angela took home a brown one and I got a red one. Insanely cute!

My purdy ladies. A bunch of my friends from the stitch & bitch group I run all came out together to see me, I was so touched. Seriously, you guys are awesome!

Our booth was so full of cuteness!

I made about two dozen owls, the most I have ever made in one sitting. I nearly sold them all!

The little squirrels cracked me up. I was inspired to make them because of Jill and her roadtrip encounter with the mystical white squirrels. Long story.

And last but not least, I spent a good portion of Saturday working on a new tutorial that I know all you readers will be very excited about. Here's some teaser shots, and I will post it in a couple of days!


Braaains... And Turkey.

Thanksgiving was a hoot at our house this year! We had a bunch of the orphans over (people with family out of the area), and we had a great time pigging out, laughing, and playing my favorite boardgame, Zombies! We had seven people all together; me, Dennis, my co-worker Aubrey and her boyfriend Mark, and Carolyn, Alex, and her husband Patrick, my friends from Stitch & Bitch.

There was so much food that every surface in the kitchen, including the stove, was covered with serving dishes and we still had to put a bunch of dishes out on the table! And what's even better is that everything was absolutely delicious! And our epic game of zombies went on forever, with Carolyn finally being the victor!

And I got some lovely hostess gifts. Carolyn brought some amazing fuchsia roses and Alex got me an organic cookbook that contained the recipe for her favorite soup, which she brought to share with all of us. And look at that packaging, are you friggin kidding me?!

In other news the craft fair was a complete success. I will post pictures and info for everyone soon, and I have a special tutorial coming up, but in the mean time check out my friend Vanessa and her blog, We Have Not Met, where she has posted her amazing photos of the event. Thanks Vanessa!