Saturday, April 20, 2013

Flower Power

So I have a niece with a hair loss problem, and her birthday is coming up.  I was wondering what to get for her birthday, and I had an idea.  The headbands with the big flowers have been really helpful for camouflaging her thin spot, but they are not cheap.  So I thought that I could surely make some that would work better than the plastic ones that they sell. 

Step 1
 So I got a pack of elastic headbands,and I pulled out all of my silk flowers to use for embellishing. 

Step 1 - Cut 2 round pieces of felt and adhere them on either side of the headband.  This will allow the felt to be moved along the headband.the headband.  Personally I used hot glue. 

Step 2
Step 2 - Take apart your chosen flower.  You need to get it down to just the individual parts.  This is so that you can glue each layer individually to make it stronger and make sure that it will hold up. 

Step 3
Step 3 - Glue the leaves if there are any to the center of your felt round.  This will make your flower look more realistic.

Step 4
Step 5
Step 4 - Begin to glue the petals to the center of the leaves or felt round.  You start with the largest petal round.  You discard the plastic from the bottom of your silk flower.  If added this makes the flower unstable and if you don't glue individual petals the center will separate with use and the flower will fall apart. 

Step 6
Step 5 - Glue second round of petals.  Let each layer cool before adding the next layer.
Step 7
Step 8
Step 6 - You should be starting to get to the smaller bunches of petals by this point.  Continue to glue, but be sure that you are still getting the petals centered with the ones before.

Step 9
Step 7 - At this point you should be adding the last of your petal groups.  Continue until you have used all of your petal groups.

Step 8 - If there is a two piece center to your flower you need to glue the first piece to your petals.  And yes this does need to be done separately.

Step 9 - Trim your center down almost to the bottom of the post that goes through the flower.  You want to leave just a scissor blade length of the post on the center.

Step 10 - This step you do want to do while step 8 is still warm.  This piece needs to be placed into a pool of hot glue.  This will help to ensure the longest possible use of this flower.

Now you have a beautiful flower on a headband for the special little girl in your life.  Now you can make an assortment.  I even made one with gladiola flowers.  Since gladiolas are long spikes of flowers I glued them to a strip of felt also glued around the sides of the headband.  It turned out really nicely rounded, perfect to fit around a little girls head.

Update: her expression upon opening her gift

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Slippery Subject

OK, so how to use our cute, tiny mold for our soaps.  Well I thought that I could use a clay form out of the mold and make a soap mold with the shape in the bottom of the mold.  Well, the results were sadly far below my hopes.

On the right is the one out of my homemade mold on the left
is the one from the muffin tin.
So I used supplement bottles wrapped in plastic wrap as a form.  Then I wrapped them in oven-bake clay and stuck seven together in a circular group.  Then I had to take my "forms" out.  Well, that didn't work as well as I hoped.  When I pulled the mold out of the toaster-oven, they weren't as smooth as I had hoped as you can see.  For one thing I don't think I baked it quite long enough.  It was very brittle.  As you can see from the picture it didn't hold up intact for long. 

Soap mixed to medium trace
So I took a step back and refigured.  I decided to use my silicone muffin pan to form the soap and then use a stamp made from the mold.  Of course, before I could use the stamp, I had to make one.  So I took the left over clay from making the mold and filled the mold with clay and formed it with a handle.  I think it will work much better than the mold that I made. 

soap cooking - almost completely gelled
For those of you in my situation, i.e. want to try something new and either don't have the time or patience with the math (yes those both apply to me), I am posting the links here for lye calculators and an awesome soap calculator.  The soap calculator will give you your lye as well.  To be honest, since math has not been one of my better subjects for a great many years, I probably would never have attempted soap without these tools.  ;)  The soap calculator let me input how much of each oil I was planning to use and figured the water and the lye for me.  It even gave me the input on where in the range of standard measurements my recipe landed.

Soap Curing
I had to find a recipe that would only use locally available since the party is so soon.  So I started out with olive oil, coconut oil and sunflower oil.  I also used a little cocoa butter and lavender essential oil.  I started by measuring and mixing the oils.  Then I measured out the water and lye.  I waited to add the cocoa butter and lavender until it was done cooking. 

soap curing and labeled
I don't have pictures of my first batch of soap, but I made pictures of the next one.  The first batch took FOREVER to go together.  For one thing we stirred for 2 hours before my friend got back with the immersion blender.  After that I was at trace in about a minute.  Then I started to cook it in the crock pot.  Now I started cooking it at about 9:30 PM.  It was still not quite neutralized at 5AM.  I made a 2lb batch to start with and scented it lightly with lavender essential oils.

The second batch I made I left unscented, but added 2 spoons of black cocoa.  I used a little different formula this time.  I used the soap calculator with this one as well.  This time I mixed the cocoa into about a cup of nutralized soap.  Then I lightly mixed it into the rest of the soap and molded in recycled cracker boxes that I cut the fronts off of and taped the end together.  When I unmolded it the next morning, I cut it with a paring knife into squares, leaving the top textured.  The top isn't very swirled, but you can see from the pictures that the sides look really cool.  I think if I do this again I will use Hershey's cocoa.

I think in the future I will use cold process more frequently, but this gave me the option of getting it done right now and be able to hand them out in a short period of time.

A note of thanks goes out to all of those who are so very generous with the information that they have gathered through experience.  I am very grateful, because while I am trying to stretch my "wings" in new areas craft wise, I do still have to be very mindful of expenses.  So to all of you that have so generously shared information and experience with those of us in need of guidance, I send you a very heartfelt thank you and God bless.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Baby Stuff: Finished at last

So it's all finished.  I hand quilted this and it seemed to take forever, especially to my husband.  I took it with me almost everywhere, including to church.  I paper pieced all of the blocks.  I did use others ideas as a starting place for the four seasonal blocks (Thank you), but I incorporated them into a large block of my own design.

Log Cabin





So I got all of the blocks put together and started quilting.  Now the basics were no problem.  I just quilted around the shapes.  However I still needed to fill in some open spaces inside the blocks in order to have the right amount of quilting i.e. no more than four inches between stitching.  So in the summer block I added a cloud in the sky and leaves in the tree. 

Fall leaves detail
 In the fall block, I didn;t want to add to the busyness of the block, so I quilted along the lines of the pieces.  This gave me complete coverage for quilting purposes.  I also added a cloud in the sky in this block as well.

In the spring block I quilted around both of the birds seperately.  Also while I quilted the greenery I did not quilt on the embroidered flowers.

On the divider strips I quilted a simple vine and
leaf pattern.  The I hand drew with a quilting stencil transfer pencil.  It helped to keep them fairly regular.  I am very grateful to have finished this.  My sister is happy with it also, which makes me happy as well.  All in all I am very grateful to have this quilt put to bed so to speak.

So now on to a new project.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Baby Stuff 2

So to update, I have almost finished two blocks for my sister's babys' quilt and got a third mostly ready to put together when I realized that the horses legs were backwards.  So I redrew my pattern pieces and got everything sewed again.  And yes conundrum strikes again.  I had the piece for the top of the tree in the block ready to attach to the other portions.  Well, I went to put the block together and now I totally cannot find it.  Granted with my usual amount of chaos, I can still usually put my hand on what I am looking for. (My husband claims it is nothing short of a miracle and he might be right some days.)  Usually it is just that even though there is a method to my "madness," no one else understands my method.  Well, tonight I looked under my desk.  I looked where I had left it and all of the surrounding area.  I even looked under all of the other supplies I had right there for the other blocks.  NO such luck!  And of course everyone else was sleeping so I couldn't even ask if any one else had seen it.

So, I put that block to the side to deal with tomorrow.  So now I start working on the center block.  This will be a horses' head looking out of a stall door.  Well, I no sooner got most of the horse together when I realized I don't have enough for the horses' face.  Normally this would be a non-issue considering the amount of cloth I have stored in my daughter's closet.  It is even nice and accessible there, but this material did not come from my stash.  Shh, don't tell my husband I brought more material home!  He might have a coronary.  ;)  So now I am going to have to put off finishing the block until after I can raid my mom's stash again tomorrow.  I am really having fun doing the horses out of soft fuzzy material, but there are some complications when it doesn't come out of my stash. 

Those of you who know me are probably busting your sides laughing to think that I had to get More material to make this quilt.  In my defence, I am not spending money on it.  I am also getting it out of my mom's way since she has the scrap material from like 7 different people in those totes.  It was even a trip down memory lane because she had material in there for outfits that I made as a teenager.  Now before you panic I am only 35! 

So I didn't find any more of the brown moleskin in my mom's stash or mine, but I did find some grey that will work well.  The only drawback is that I now have to redraw 4 pieces so that I can use a different color on the horse.  So now to work.  Oh, and we found the piece I was missing, so I can put the summer block together, and my husband made no complaint about the fabric I brought in either.

Center block all put together

center detail
Now, I have my center block complete, but I am still having problems with the horse on the summer block.  I finally decided to toss the horse and start over.  I really didn't like the design of that block as well and this way I don't have to refigure it yet again.  I really don't know why the legs won't match up with the body.  I must have made a mistake somewhere, but after drawing the section with the legs twice and both times it was wrong, I figure that there must be a flaw in my design.  So I am borrowing some inspiration from elsewhere.  Thank you Lord for Pinterest!!!!!   I also made a decision about the blocks in between the seasonal blocks.  I am doing a very simple log cabin design in blues.

So the next post will finish up this quilting adventure.  It has been a lot of work and a lot of fun.  I will admit that I am almost sick of this quilt though.  It will be nice to work on something else for a change. 

I am sorry about the tardiness of this post but I have been dealing with some technical issues.  I hope that they are now resolved.