Archive for February, 2013

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Portable Table displays with PVC

showcase Portable Table displays with PVC

I exhibited at the Craft and Hobby Association a few weeks ago. One problem I always have there is how to display my stuff. I’m exhibiting with designers so it has to look – well – designed and it can’t be just thrown together. Because I have to fly to the show, I have to do something light weight or ship it or buy it there. I don’t like risking the buy it there option as I get to the show the night before and most times I have to teach the next day so there is precious little time to go shopping and make stuff.

I like to be able to carry stuff there and not rely on others to provide it. I’ve been in the position of waiting for things to arrive, having them not arrive or not being there when promised – or I’ve witnessed it happen to others and this just doesn’t do it for me. So, what to do? I looked around Pinterest for ideas and searched the web  and finally came up with an idea.

I was exhibiting fabric designs so I decided on a washing line theme – a back yard fence and a washing line. Then I designed it and as I did I realized I was painting myself into a corner – I needed too much help to do it and that, again, put me at the mercy of tradesmen – finding them and getting it done. A few calls around told me the job was too small for them and too big for me. Then, one night, I discovered the world of PVC pipe. Yeah! PVC pipe can be cut by hand and it is light. You can assemble it easily and it is cheap! What more can you ask?

I drew out my shape and made sure all pieces would be short enough to fit in a suitcase – if not I planned to cut them into pieces and join them with a connector. I worked out what I wanted and went out early to the hardware store. Early is good because I found someone there who would cut the 3/4 inch PVC into 6′ and 4′ lengths – it is 10′ in the store but I can’t carry that in my car! Luckily I had pen and paper with me because some connectors weren’t available and I had to do a quick redesign to determine which bits I wanted. I bought a few end caps, some three way connectors, elbows and straight connectors and lots of PVC pipe. All up it probably cost around $20 and I bought a set of ratchet cutters – they are essential – the PVC isn’t dead easy to cut but with these it is certainly doable – in fact I did it all myself.

The background I made from fabric. I simply designed an image the size of a yard of lightweight canvas fabric in Photoshop and had it printed at – that probably ended up cheaper than printing on paper at Kinkos! I sewed the fabric so it had pockets on three sides and so the pipe would thread through it.

With everything tested and assembled at home before I left it all went together seamlessly at the show. One thing I would do next time is to mark the pieces after testing everything and before taking it apart as it was a bit of a  puzzle to put things back together at the show. The cutters made a handy hammer for putting the  pieces together and I didn’t glue them as they were sturdy enough without. I also found a set of multi-grips were handy to get the ends off when I put them on the wrong way!

I colored some brown paper to cover the PVC uprights for the washing line and used string for the line and small scrapbooking pegs. I found some awesome blackbirds on paper clips that I pulled apart to put blackbirds on the line and I added one to the fence design too. I finished the display with some fake grass – you can buy it from in about any width and length and it worked well when stuck down to the table top with velcro tape.

You can find the blackbirds here:

 Portable Table displays with PVC


Would I do it again? Yes, without a doubt. The flexibility you have with PVC pipe to create things and the ease of working with it and assembling it and the low cost of getting custom fabric printed at Spoonflower makes this totally doable. It would work for a craft display or craft show and, if you glue the PVC to its connectors it won’t go anywhere and could hold children’s cl0thes or similar.


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Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

Flying High – sew a felt helicopter

felt helicopter opener Flying High – sew a felt helicopter

Recently I got inspired by a small wooden helicopter that I’ve had on my desk for some time. Frustratingly every time I move anything on the table the helicopter falls over. But it has a cute shape so each time it falls over I just stand it back up again. Recently I took a good look at it and decided it was time to do something with it.

The outcome is a cute little felt helicopter. It is a fun project that takes only an hour or two to complete. You can make your own design or use mine which you can download here.

What you need:

- Blue-gray, pink and white wool felt

- Recycled plastic container or plastic sheet

- Fiber fill

- Needle and embroidery thread in colors to match the felt

- Scissors

For my helicopter I used a small plastic drinking cup but I think next time I’d use a flat plastic sheet of some kind as the bend that the cup gives just isn’t really needed.

Start by cutting the felt following the pattern. You need two blue-grey pieces for the rotor, two pink pieces for the body and a single long body piece. Cut a couple of white windows, and four blue-grey pieces for the skids. Cut a couple of pieces of recycled plastic just a little smaller than the skids themselves. I always but always use wool felt – it just holds up so much better in use than the fake stuff which tears along the seams way too easily.

felt helicopter step1 Flying High – sew a felt helicopter

Using blanket stitch and matching thread, stitch the felt over the plastic to make the two skids. The plastic in them will help stabilize the helicopter later on. Note that the hole in the plastic for the skids is much larger than the hole in the felt!

felt helicopter step2 Flying High – sew a felt helicopter

Sew the windows onto the helicopter sides and then sew the sides to the long panel. The long panel ends attach at the tail so the widest part of it goes around the main body of the helicopter. On the pattern I’ve roughly marked out where each piece should match up with the body of the helicopter.

felt helicopter step3 Flying High – sew a felt helicopter

As you stitch up the helicopter body, stuff it firmly with fiberfill.

felt helicopter step4 Flying High – sew a felt helicopter

Put the two rotor pieces together and sew the pieces together using blanket stitch around the edges. Fill the rotor with fiberfill as you go and make sure you push the fiberfill right down into the ends of the rotors so they are pretty firmly stuffed.

felt helicopter step5 Flying High – sew a felt helicopter

Finish sewing up the rotor and attach it to the top of the helicopter. Before sewing the skids to the body pin them in place to test the placement. You need to make sure the body will stand on the skids and that it will balance there. Once pinned in place, sew the skids to the body.

felt helicopter step6 Flying High – sew a felt helicopter

I think this is a cute and fairly quick and easy project. You could make three or four and some stuffed clouds and use them as a mobile in a child’s room.

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Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Embroidered Circles #25 – White on white circles

embroiderd felt circles 25 Embroidered Circles #25   White on white circles


The big challenge with this color scheme is that it is white on white on white on white! Needless to say I didn’t pick the colors – someone else did for me. I always get a challenge when someone else picks the colors and this was a big one. I wanted to use edge stitching that drew attention to the edges because precious else would.

Row 1: Blanket Stitch – the outside edge is along the felt edge.

Row 2: A mini sort of edging stitch started out being scroll stitch but ended up being a small blanket stitch. There are limits to just how close you can get to the edge of a circle of felt even when it is wool blend! Looped around the outside of this is a set of loop stitches.

The filler stitch is alternating colored french knots.

Row 3: Cross stitch – each stitch is bumped up against the next.

The center is my floral stitch – lines of stitches pulled into a flower shape.

Dare I say it, I think I’ll be cutting out another set of white circles later on and trying this again. It was a great challenge and I think I can  do better still.

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Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Felt embroidered circles #24 – Raised Edge Embroidery

embroiderd felt circles 241 Felt embroidered circles #24   Raised Edge Embroidery
This is my newest felt circle project and it is so amazingly beautiful. I’ve been experimenting with stitches again and this has a Double Knot stitch and a Rosette Chain stitch. The Rosette Chain stitch is such a cute and lumpy edge  stitch and it gives the pink layer the look of a raised edge. It is, however an unforgiving stitch and it’s not easy to get it looking beautiful – I found I had to make each stitch very carefully – tweaking it into place with the needle. The result is great and worth the effort but it is that – quite a bit of effort because it really doesn’t want to form that nice loopy look!

The color scheme here is lovely – soft pinks, light tan and a dark olive green. The pink felt is quite bright but it gets tempered by the other colors so it doesn’t look so over the top.

Row 1: A sort of triangle stitch – just straight stitches make into a triangle shape. Interestingly I can’t find this stitch in any reference book – I’ll have to do a  how to for it.

Row 2: Double Knot stitch – this is a stitch with a knot on one end and then another small stitch added to it to make it balanced. It’s quaint.

Between this row and the next is seedling stitch – I usually make it with one stitch at a time but this is two side by side – it’s very pretty and you need less of them to make them look right.

Row 3: Rosette Chain stitch – a wonderful stitch with a raised look to it.

The bead is held on with one of my new flower stitches. I did this in two colors – you can see the green stitches are the ones which hold the bead on and the tan ones are the loops that make the flower.

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Monday, February 11th, 2013

Way Too Cool – Make your own fractal trees

context free art trees Way Too Cool    Make your own fractal trees

Download this app and make  fractal trees to use in your art

I’ve been designing some how to draw features for the blog. While I was doing some research for one of the  posts which is on  creating fractal trees, I found this absolutely wonderful app. What it does is to make your trees for you.

It is called Context Free and it is open source, you can download the Windows installer here:


fractal trees with context free art 1 Way Too Cool    Make your own fractal trees
Download the program and install it and run it. When you do, choose Examples and select Demo1. Immediately a set of trees will be drawn for you.


fractal trees with context free art 2 Way Too Cool    Make your own fractal trees

If you click Render on the toolbar each time you do so a new set of trees will be rendered for you.


fractal trees with context free art 3 Way Too Cool    Make your own fractal trees


You can vary the trees by altering the code. It doesn’t matter too much that you don’t know what’s happening just try some other values in the lines such as those that say rule4 and so on. You can’t break the program. Well actually you can but you just start over and it’s all fine.

fractal trees with context free art 4 Way Too Cool    Make your own fractal trees

If you like the look of a tree, note the letters on the toolbar – they are the randomization letters that let you render the tree again in future – though you’ll also have to re-enter any of your changes or save the new code!

fractal trees with context free art 5 Way Too Cool    Make your own fractal trees

If you want a transparent background – and you probably will – here’s how to make the background transparent in Context Free Art:

In the top of the code, just after the startshape FOREST line type this:

CF::Background = [hue 120 sat 1 b -0.5 a -1]

You have to set a background color to something – here it is green, but the a -1 bit sets it to transparent.

fractal trees with context free art 7 Way Too Cool    Make your own fractal trees

So now your trees look like this:

fractal trees with context free art 8 Way Too Cool    Make your own fractal trees

You can also choose Render > Render to Size to choose a size to render the trees to – so you can make the final image larger.


fractal trees with context free art 9 Way Too Cool    Make your own fractal trees



When you want to save a tree design choose Render > Save Image and you can save it as a png file as this saves transparency – which is something that the JPG format will not do.

fractal trees with context free art 10 Way Too Cool    Make your own fractal trees

This allows you to do all sorts of things with the tree later on in other software such as Photoshop:

context free art trees Way Too Cool    Make your own fractal trees


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Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Felt embroidered circles #23 – more flower stitch goodness

embroiderd felt circles 23 Felt embroidered circles #23   more flower stitch goodnessThis is another of the felt circle projects that incorporates a flower center used to sew on the bead. I also used a whipped running stitch all around the larger circle in brown and tan cotton that looks just so amazing and is so simple to do.

The color scheme is an old favorite you just cannot go wrong with brown and blue – or pink and brown for that matter, they were made for each other. This scheme is brown and tan and two blues – one light and bright one and one sort of dusty turquoise. The thread are, as always, DMC #5 pearlized cotton – it is a treat to sew with and way worth the price.

Row 1: Blanket stitch – the edge of the stitch is on the outside here. The uprights for the stitch have been used to help anchor the stitches which attach the bead in this amazing flower shape.

Row 2: Chain stitch. Another simple stitch that looks great in a contrasting color.

Row 3: Lots of rows of whipped running stitch – first sew the running stitch then whip it by looping a thread in and out of it as required. The whipped effect lifts the running stitches and gives the project some extra dimension.




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Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Felt circles #22 – Easter Theme and a flower center

embroidered felt circle with flower attachment for bead Felt circles #22   Easter Theme and a flower center


This is the latest in my felt circles project. If you’ve been following my blog you will know that I have been embroidering felt circles for some time now. This one marks a slight change in direction. With this one I discovered that I could make flowers on the bead by stitching the bead on using pairs of stitches all around. Then between the pairs I looped some thread around the stitches and pulled it a little bit and voila! a flower – it is totally awesome. I plan to do a post on this process but for now, here is this project.

I didn’t pick the colors for this – someone else did but I really like them. They are bright without being over the top and the stitching came out looking great.

Row 1: Trusty blanket stitch. Depending how you start it the line can be on the outside or inside edge of the stitches. Here it is  on the inside and I used it to catch the stitches anchoring the bead to make the flower.

Row 2: Double chain stitch. This is a good stitch for going over the border of two pieces of fabric and, when you look at it you can see the double chain bit – the chains are laid down almost side by side instead of one in front of the other.

Row 3: Love this. It is a filling stitch called Cloud Filling. You make a set of offset very small straight stitches in two rows and then loop a thread through them – I used a contrasting thread and the effect is a sort of curvy stitch. These filling stitches that have multiple colors aren’t much more effort than a regular stitch but they look great and they are well worth the effort of making them.



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