Friday, January 4th, 2013

Mini felt house awesomeness

felt covered jar mini house 41 Mini felt house awesomeness

Yummy felt houses – made from jars – useful and cute

These felt houses are made on a jar base and the top of the jar is glued inside the conical top so it is a fully functional jar.

They are made on a paper mache cone base which you can find at a craft store – mine came from Michaels – it is around 6″ tall and it fits over the top of a small jam jar or something similar. I used a jar from Kozlowski farms which is a multi-sided jar – but a round one might be easier to use.

Here’s what you need:

Recycled jar with lid

Paper mâché cone

Felt in assorted colors

DMC #5 Pearl Cotton embroidery thread – assorted colors

Fabric glue stick

Scissors, pen, pencil, paper, embroidery needles

Start by making sure the jar fits in the cone comfortably and that the jar lid isn’t too tight on the jar – you want to be able to get it on and off pretty easily later on.

Lie the cone down and make a paper pattern for it. It’s easiest to wrap it with paper, tape in place, cut to fit securely, remove the paper, cut it to open flat and voila! there is your pattern.

Cut the house lid  from felt leaving a little extra on the long edge – about 1/8 inch for sewing and make sure it overhangs the bottom edge by around 1/4 in.

Sew up the long seam to make a cone shape and place the felt cover on the paper mache  cone. Now cut small scallops around the bottom edge of the felt cone cover. It is easiest to make marks approx 1/2 in apart around the base then cut a small V shape at that point. Round the corners either side of the V and you have a small scallop. Now do a button hole stitch around the entire edge to make the scallop edge.

For the house, make a paper template the size you need plus around 1/4 in. Mark on it where the house ‘bits’ will go. Because my jar was multi-sided I wanted the doors to be on the  flat sides not an edge so I made sure everything would line up.

design in the flat for jar Mini felt house awesomeness

Transfer the pattern to the felt you will use - I just roughed it out with a lead pencil – and then embroider away. I used felt for the windows, doors, cat and the letterbox. I used my new fabric glue stick to put it all in place. I learned about it from Lime Riot’s felt embroidery tutorial – I used to use Fabritac but it stinks and it is really messy when used in small amounts – I am finding a fabric glue stick is so much easier to use and I can place it more accurately.

I sewed everything on and embroidered everything with size 5 DMC Pearl cotton – I like its luster and I prefer using it to other embroidery threads. The flowers are basically lazy daisy, french knots and some straight stitch. Nothing too complicated here. I cut the cat freehand and stitched it on and sewed the whiskers.

I did all the embroidery on the felt laid flat – it’s just easier to work that way. To finish, pin the felt to fit the jar, trim any excess and sew the side seam. Cut a piece of felt the shape of the base of the jar plus 1/8 inch and sew onto the sides.

To finish, glue the top of the felt to the jar first making sure that the cone roof will fit onto the jar without the felt all bunching up – you could add some ribbon trim at this point if desired or finish the top edge in some other way.

Glue the jar lid inside the roof – I use Ranger Glossy Accents as a glue – it makes a great glue for metal and because it is all hidden any drips won’t matter.

Once it is all dry you have a cute jar which you can use until some quaint small creature of the forest decides to move in and call it home.
felt covered jar mini house 31 Mini felt house awesomeness

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Up Up and Away – make a cute Felt Balloon

felt balloon 3d opener Up Up and Away   make a cute Felt Balloon

Balloons and Felt are so in right now so the combination has to be a winner!


I love hot air balloons and I think lots of folks do too. Balloons were a popular theme at the Craft and Hobby Association  Summer show in 2012 with lots of manufacturers having hot air balloon papers, stamps and other scrapbooking elements.

I’ve been making a few felt things lately and the combination of felt and hot air balloons just seemed so obvious to me. The fun was in getting everything to work right and the first thing to do is to cut the panels for the balloon.

Along the way I learned the math for creating the panels to make a circle – once you understand the formulas it is quite easy to make your own panels. However, to help you out I’ll give you the pattern I used as a free download and save the math for another post.


felt balloon 3d 1 Up Up and Away   make a cute Felt Balloon

Start by cutting the panels for the balloon – you need 6 sides so a good combination is to use 3 of each color or perhaps 2 of 3 colors – I used two colors only.

balloon pattern e1354661826345 Up Up and Away   make a cute Felt Balloon

As always, use wool or wool blend felt – it just stands up to the process so much better and the stitches won’t tear away from the felt when you stuff it later on. Use embroidery thread – at the time I made this I was still using 6 strand thread but I’ve changed lately and I now use DMC #5 cotton as it is so much nicer and has a cool luster to it. Sew up the side seams – I like to use a simple blanket stitch and to put the stitches on the outside.

felt balloon 3d 2 Up Up and Away   make a cute Felt Balloon

Stuff the balloon with fibrefill or your choice of filling – carded wool will work too and is much nicer if you don’t like plastic filling!

felt balloon 3d 3 Up Up and Away   make a cute Felt Balloon

Cut a small circle of felt and sew it to the top to cover the seams at the top – the very top is never a pretty site so this just hides the mess!

If you want a wire for hanging the balloon, before you put the top on, twist a short length of wire – around 4″ of it into a loop and pull the ends outwards so it will go inside the top of the balloon as shown – but don’t put it in there yet. First cut a small hole for the wire in the middle of the felt circle  bend the wire ends back together and push through the hole in the felt.

Bend the wire ends back out and insert into the balloon – then sew the top in place. If you forget – it’s pretty easy to add the wire though a small hole in the felt circle after it is sewn.

felt balloon 3d 4 Up Up and Away   make a cute Felt Balloon

To make this basket I took some brown felt and cut into a slightly curved length so it would be smaller at the top than the bottom and sewed it into a round shape and added a base of brown felt.

felt balloon 3d 5 Up Up and Away   make a cute Felt Balloon

Then I twisted some wire into a loop and added three sides for the balloon ‘string’. I used fairly substantial copper wire – I suspect around 18-20 gauge.

felt balloon 3d 6 Up Up and Away   make a cute Felt Balloon

I put the wire in the ‘basket’ and stuffed it with more fiberfill.

felt balloon 3d 7 Up Up and Away   make a cute Felt Balloon

Then sew another small circle of felt on top.

felt balloon 3d 8 Up Up and Away   make a cute Felt Balloon

Finally put the wires into the balloon, add a small circle of felt to the base of the balloon and sew into place making sure to catch the wires as you do so it all holds together.

felt balloon 3d opener Up Up and Away   make a cute Felt Balloon
Free downloadable pdf pattern for the balloon gores (panels)


Sunday, December 30th, 2012

Felt circle embroidery #18 – Yummy red and gray

embroidery on felt stitches wool DMC 18 Felt circle embroidery #18   Yummy red and gray

I love gray – my school uniform was gray and I’ve always loved it as a color so here is yet another color scheme founded on gray, this time with some red and blue. I did stitches I have done before but some different arrangements of them.

Row 1: Tiny red detached cross stitch are used around the edge of the first circle. Again, getting the spacing right is critical or it is really obvious.

The bead  is attached with long stitches each finished with a French Knot.

Row 2: Herringbone Stitch – a fun stitch to use to run around the edge of a shape and one that adapts well to stitching in a circle. I love this stitch as it is basically the stitch I use when hemming fabric it’s nice to use it in embroidery when it actually gets to be seen.

Row 2: The outside edge of the sand color felt is a row of Long and Short Blanket Stitch – it is a bit more bendy than I wanted it to be. In retrospect if I had tested the stitch position before stitching it I might have made a neater job of this stitch.

Row 3: Basque Stitch (aka Twisted Daisy Border Stitch) – this is a twisty sort of blanket stitch variation that I had used before on the edge of another circle. I like it’s twisted look.

Between rows 2 and 3 are some assorted French Knots used as a filling stitch around the Long and Short Blanket Stitch.


Thursday, December 27th, 2012

Have a whale of a time making this felt whale!

whale Have a whale of a time making this felt whale!

This felt whale is easy to make and very cute to boot.

I’ve been playing around with making my own stuffed creatures from wool felt and my own patterns. So far I have made an elephant, some hot air balloons, a  helicopter and now a whale.

This little guy is made in blue felt but he could be any color. I filled him with some pony beads to make him more stable but next time I’d add a sealed bag of sand instead – I’m becoming a fan of sand in the base of these pieces as it weighs quite heavy, you can sew it into a little pouch to use really easily and it’s natural!

The pattern is free – from me – and you can download it here.

You will need:

blue wool felt (body, back and flippers)

white wool felt (belly and eyes)

pink wool felt (mouth)

black wool felt (pupils)


needle and thread

sand or something to weigh it down with

Cut two body pieces and a long strip which goes from the head across to the tail – all in one color is good. Also cut four flippers from this color.  Cut a belly piece and eyeballs from white, and pupils and mouth. Please, do yourself a favor and use wool felt because it really is far superior to the other stuff. Wool felt stands up better to being stitched close to the edge and it really feels much nicer to work with.

Sew eyeballs and pupils in place on the face.

Sew the mouth to the body both sides then add the belly piece and stuff it with fiber fill as you go. Add a pouch of sand or something to weigh him down and continue to sew him up inserting the belly and long back strip between each side as you go.

When he is all sewn up sew the flippers together in pairs and stuff as you go. Sew to the body in a position they can help support him and you’re done. He would look great in a mobile for a kids room or he’s happy to sit on your desk to keep you company too.



Monday, December 24th, 2012

Painting Water colors on the iPad in ArtRage – Lavender in a pot

ipad artrage lavendar watercolor final Painting Water colors on the iPad in ArtRage   Lavender in a pot

I painted this image in Art Rage on the iPad.

One cool feature of Art Rage is the ability to paint water painting style strokes. To do this, you’ll select the watercolor brush which is the one that has the pointed tip.

From the options for the brush you can select an option such as Just a Spot, Delicate on Dry, Dried Strokes or Low Blending. Any of these will give you interesting results as the paint then interacts with the paper and other paint on the canvas.

ipad artrage lavendar watercolor brushes Painting Water colors on the iPad in ArtRage   Lavender in a pot

Then select the brush size and a color and start painting on the image. Here I used the watercolor brush and some pencil lines drawn with the pencil tool.

The finished result is a watercolor style image. However I ran into some problems with this image because I didn’t leave enough room at the top of the canvas for the image to “breathe”.

Although you can’t see it in the final image this is what the image looked like on the iPad.

artrage lavendar watercolor original e1349908373187 Painting Water colors on the iPad in ArtRage   Lavender in a pot

Over at my Photoshop blog there’s a solution to this using Photoshop and the new Content Aware Fill tool to create some empty canvas to fill the missing area.

Here’s the link to that post.

In future I’ll be a little more careful about planning ahead, but there’s always Photoshop if disaster strikes.

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Recycled Christmas, Hanukkah and Birthday Wrapping paper


christmas wrap recycled packing paper Recycled Christmas, Hanukkah and Birthday Wrapping paper

Recently a lot of companies – I think Amazon included – are using scrunched up brown paper as a packing material. It comes perforated and it is about 15 inches wide and each ‘piece’ is 8.5 inches deep. I’ve been saving it up because it is nice clean brown paper and it flattens and folds up pretty neatly.

I put mine in a stack under some  heavy books so it flattens out nicely.

With all the paper I had mounted up I was thinking about what to actually do with it. Then Hanukkah came around – at Hanukkah you give  8 small presents so it can chew up a lot of paper – and I had a lot of paper!

Shortly before Hanukkah I was shopping at our local supermarket and they had foam stamps in Hanukkah shapes – a menorah, star and so on. The light bulb went off. I bought the stamps – they were about $4 and dug out my Ranger Adirondack Denim ink pad – it’s a great blue ink – and Hanukkah colors are blue and white so everything was ready.

Now you could iron your paper if you want to but I left it as I had it stored. I smooth and flatten it and fold it up so it is still a bit scrunched but it looks cute.  I lined up the paper on  my desk and got to work. All it needed was some stamped images – I did 8 images per panel and did a whole bundle in around 5 minutes. The ink dries pretty much as you work so I just folded the paper up concertina style as I had finished each set of panels.

The paper holds up well for wrapping. The perforations don’t tear open if you’re careful – and because it is perforated you don’t really need scissors except for small gifts. Because it is kraft paper you could finish by using string around the parcels for a cute look. It’s simple, effective, inexpensive and a great recycling project.

I am already making paper for Christmas – this time I’m making stamps using some foam sheets I have  and for birthdays – think cupcakes, streamers, balloons – it’s too easy!


Monday, December 17th, 2012

Drawing in Sketch Club on the iPad – cute owl drawing

owl Drawing in Sketch Club on the iPad   cute owl drawing

One of my favorite applications to use to draw images on the iPad is Sketch Club.

One of the cool things about Sketch Club is that it has layers and blend modes and a mix of brushes. Some work a little bit more like procedural drawing brushes such as its fur brush and it has a Smudge brush too.


sketch club brushes 1 Drawing in Sketch Club on the iPad   cute owl drawing


Here I created this owl image basically using the brush tool with a range of the different brush types used at different sizes and opacities.


sketch club brushes 2 Drawing in Sketch Club on the iPad   cute owl drawing


I used a mix of colors with low opacity brushes to get a somewhat Seurat impressionist image. That way the dot and texture brushes do most of the work for you.

The eyes and marks on the owl’s chest were also done with brushes this time with a medium size, light opacity angled brush – I used a reduced opacity so that some of the underlying texture would come through.

Over the top of everything I added some very low opacity brush strokes in contrasting colors to give the image some texture.

Of all the apps on my iPad, Sketch Club is one of those that I keep coming back to. It’s just extremely smart, extremely easy to use and flexible. I don’t like spending hours selecting colors and brushes when I really just want to get to work. Other applications have more sophisticated brush options but Sketch Club is a good tool for getting down to painting without a lot of fuss.


Friday, December 14th, 2012

Recycled MiO container – Mini Felt House

felt embroidered house mushroom opener Recycled MiO container   Mini Felt House

Have fun tuning a recycled MiO container into a super cute felt house.

With this project I finally nailed the recycled MiO container felt house. Yeah!

Inside this felt house is a MiO container filled with sand to weight it very nicely.

This one took a bit of time to make –  I pulled the roof off a  few times and continued to rework the shape until I got what I  wanted. What I wanted was to  give the impression that an inverted flower cap or something similar was the roof of the house.

To make this you can download the free pattern here.

MiniMiaHouse1 Recycled MiO container   Mini Felt House

You will need colored felt for the house. I used grey, dark crimson, a cream for the house and little bits for the decorative elements. You should always use wool felt or a blend that includes wool as this stands up to a lot more punishment than the fake/polyester stuff.

Cut your house shape from one color felt – use this for the back, front, sides and base of the house. Cut out a door, windows, hearts for the flowers and the roof pieces. You’ll probably want the underside of the roof to be a different color than the roof itself – I used a dark crimson.

felt embroidered house mushroom 3 Recycled MiO container   Mini Felt House

Start by sewing on the  windows and door of the house. Sew a French knot for the doorknob and then embroider the flowers on the rear of the house using mini hearts as flowers and adding beads if desired.

The stems of the flowers are a backstitch and detached lazy daisy stitch.

Once you’ve got the front and back of the house embroidered and finished sew up the house around the MiO container. You can add some stuffing front and back so that the house becomes slightly rounded rather than the exact shape of the MiO container, if desired.

felt embroidered house mushroom rear Recycled MiO container   Mini Felt House

Sew the pieces for the roof together. The roof is four pieces with a twisted top shape. Then sew up the piece for the underside of the roof. I made mine from multiple small pieces of felt sewed together with blanket stitch to give a ribbed effect but you can do it any way you like. I’ve given you the pattern for the basic shape for the underneath of the roof – how you prep the fabric before cutting is up to you.

Sew the underneath of the roof to the top of the roof and then stuff the roof and make sure to stuff  in under the area that’s going to be attached to the house. At this point I suggest that you pin the roof to the house to make sure that you’ve got enough stuffing so it sits above the house and so you to see as much of the underneath of  the roof as you want to.

Then finish off with a small neat stitches to stitch the roof to the house.

I was really pleased with this house and the stability that a MiO container filled with sand gives to it. It’s also a cool way to recycle MiO containers because they’re just such a cute shape – just crying out for some mini felt house goodness!





Monday, December 10th, 2012

Mini felt house – recycled MiO container with embroidery


mini felt house with pattern opener Mini felt house   recycled MiO container with embroidery

Turn felt into a cute house and recycle MiO containers at the same time!

This step-by-step tutorial with a downloadable pattern shows you how to make a felt house complete with chimney and chimney stack and embroidered flowers.

I have been playing with felt houses a lot lately and this mini house was designed initially to be based on a MiO container.

Unfortunately I learned a lesson about sizing  patterns with this project and my pattern was too small so this is a standalone project. It’s weighted down with a small sealed bag of sand and stuffed with fiberfill.

felt house via container model 2 Mini felt house   recycled MiO container with embroidery

The basics of the project that you’ll need are a pattern which I’ve created that you can download here free of charge. You’ll need some white or light colored felt, some dark gray, red felt, blue and crimson. You’ll also need some embroidery thread.


felt house via container model 1 Mini felt house   recycled MiO container with embroidery

At this point I was using regular six strand embroidery thread although I now prefer to use DMC size five embroidery thread if you can get it.

Either way basically anything will do for the project. Start by cutting out the pieces. I recommend that you use wool felt as it holds up just so much better than the other kind.

felt house via container model 3 Mini felt house   recycled MiO container with embroidery

Cut a front and back in your basic house color felt and cut one wrap piece and the  base.

Cut a front door, heart and chimney pot from the crimson felt, some mini hearts from red felt and four windows from the blue felt.

Then go ahead and cut the dark gray felt for the roof.

mini felt house patter Mini felt house   recycled MiO container with embroidery

Sew the door and two windows onto one of the pieces of house felt and add a doorknob with a French knot.

On the second piece which will be the back of the house sew on two windows and then embroider some small plants using the hearts as flowers. I added a couple of small beads to each of my flowers and the embroidery was done in backstitch with lazy daisy leaves.

When you’ve got the house shape done sew up the sides and base, add a bit of weight to the base of the house and then begin to stuff it with fiberfill.

Now get to work on the roof. The roof is four pieces of gray felt sewed together with the chimney attached last of all. Add the heart to the front of the roof before you attach the roof to the house.

mini felt house with pattern opener Mini felt house   recycled MiO container with embroidery

Before attaching the roof to the house make sure that you finish stuffing the house and the roof because that’s the last time that you’ll get to add stuffing to the project.

Sew the two pieces of the chimney together, stuffing them as you go and add a small semi-circle chimney stack in crimson. This is the first of a series of houses.

You can make more using this pattern or branch out and use your own.

You can also look out for an upcoming blog when I finally get to make a pattern large enough to make a MiO container house.


mini felt house with pattern rear Mini felt house   recycled MiO container with embroidery






Friday, December 7th, 2012

Felt circle embroidery #17 – Colorful Running Stitches

embroidery on felt stitches wool DMC 17 Felt circle embroidery #17   Colorful Running Stitches

This piece in tan, sand, purple and red really was fun to do and I did quite a lot of experimenting with stitches here including a multicolored one.

Row 1: Coral stitch – this is a pretty simple stitch to do and the knots are pretty easy – as with anything in a contrasting color you need to get it spaced right or it is pretty obvious you didn’t!

The bead is held on by a series of long stitches and they are enhanced with a few rounds of weaving around the stitches.

Row 2 – Chevron Stitch – not to be confused with Herringbone Stitch, this one has bars top and bottom and the angled pieces come from these. It is a cute stitch and works pretty well around the circle here.

Row 3 – At the very edge is a row of Pekinese stitch which is basically a row of running stitch with a contrasting color of thread looped through it. Here is it a bit lost because of the colors I used but it is a nice stitch.

Between the rows 2 & 3 are lines of running stitch two of which are laced with a contrasting color thread.