Monday, January 30, 2012

Liebster Award

This evening I found out that my "old" friend, Courtney, had received a Liebster award over at Mon Petit Lyons. Old as in, "of long ago", not actual age!!! I think I was roughly half my current age when I met her in or minus a couple of years:) I was especially honored that she then passed the award along to me!

So what is it???

The Liebster is a blog-land award for us little guys. It's just a way to throw a sliver of spotlight on the smaller blogs out there in craft land.

And this I borrowed directly from Courtney...Liebster means beloved, favorite, dearest in German. Who knew? So now it's my turn to spread the love.

Here are the rules:
* choose 5 up and coming blogs with fewer than 200 followers
* mention them on my blog
* send them a message and let them know that they've been honored

1. First up, is a lovely lady who I "met" in a round about way through the blogland. I think we first connected via Handmade Holiday, but I honestly can't remember. She's an amazing knitter and has blessed my home with numerous toys that my girls simply adore. She's also the one who inspired me to give knitting another try. Let's hear it for Melissa at Wild Faerie Caps!

2. Next up is a professional photographer who just happens to craft on the side. Seriously! How does she manage it? Her quilts are amazing and you can bet that the pics on her blog are out of this world. Now run, don't walk, but haul tail over to see the stupendous quiet book she made for her daughter's birthday (and she might be just a bit hard on herself with that one!). Put your hands together for Traci at Stolen Moments!

3. The clothes...ACK! They are too cute! That was the draw that led me to follow our next award winner. And the patterns make it super simple to have the same serious cuteness for your own little one. Her new dress pattern makes me squeal...let's send some love to Becky at Owly Baby! And, no, I don't just like her because of her name:)

4. Prepare to be amazed! The dolls on this next blog completely blow my mind! They've inpsired me to begin drafting a new doll pattern with more 3D construction (gussetts, gussetts, and more gussetts, oh my!). Let's make some noise for Bybido!

5. And last, but not least...this Happy Find came to me through Kids Clothing Week Challenge and some random flickr browsing. I fell in love with a super cute little skirt that she made for her daughter and began to blog stock her almost immediately. Let's give a shout out to Venus. Now she can be your Happy Find too!

Please go visit these lovely ladies...and pop in and say hello to Courtney too. She has a Valentine's Day week coming up soon that you don't want to miss! Be sure to let them know that you heard great things about them, and maybe click that Follow button to keep in touch with them:)

Have a great week!

Easter Swap Project Inspiration #3: Homemade Bouncy Balls

Couldn't you just see a handful of these in spring colors brightening up your little one's Easter basket? Or simply bouncing through your house on a rainy day? What fun!

Disclaimer - I haven't had a chance to test this "recipe." So, I make no promises for how it works or how difficult it may be...but the ingredients are pretty common and relatively inexpensive. And the directions seem really do mold the ball by hand, but I'm guessing that if there were imperfections then they would just contribute to the fun of bouncing it:)

Definitely seems like it's worth a shot...and a great no-sew inspiration for our fun Easter swap! Have fun bouncing!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Easter Swap Project Inspiration #2: Do you crochet?

For my crochet friends out there...I found this adorable little pattern via, can you guess? Yep, PINTEREST! Seriously, what did I do before I could "pin" things?

Pop on over to Easy Makes Me Happy...what a great blog title! Doesn't easy make you happy? It sure makes me grin:) Check out the Easter egg pattern and then browse around for a while. She has such cute crochet patterns available in her Etsy shop too!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Easter Swap Project Inspiration #1: Tips for Softie Construction

Have you heard? There is a handmade Easter toy swap in the works! What a great way to fill your little one's Easter basket with gorgeous handmade gifts without having to persoanlly master 16 different crafts! Want to join us? GREAT! Check out the rules and sign up here...sign ups are open until January 31.

Now on to the inspiration...

Over the next few months, I will be sharing tons of great ideas for making toys for your little snuggler. You'll find some projects of my own design, but lots of love for other artisans and their handmade wares, as well. Fall in love with something? I'll always be sure to include links so you can find your way back to purchase them.

For our first inspiration, I'm sticking with a topic that I know well...but, I promise to branch out in the coming weeks:)

These super sweet teeny tiny little bunnies have been lingering in my Etsy favorites since last year. I just adore them! Don't you? Hop on over to arixystix and grab a may even want to pick up a chick along the way:) What a great little addition to any Easter gift!

Or if you're thinking of creating softies for your contribution to our little Easter swap, then skip ahead and check out my top tips for fabulous softie construction.

Simple Soft Toy Construction Tips:

1. Stitch length is or paramount importance! You want those stitches nice and tiny. The seams of a soft toy are under constant duress simply from the stuffing, but add a pair of tiny hands, lots of hugs, and possibly a round or two of tug-o-war and things get dicey:) A short stitch length will help ensure that the stuffing stays where it is intended...on the inside!

2. Stuff your toy until it is fully stuffed...then go back and stuff it again! Seriously, the more stuffing you put in it the smoother the seams, the firmer the squeze, and the longer the life of the toy. Think back to the days of cheap quilted comforters...remember how all that stuffing would shift over time and suddenly only your feet were warm??? Same idea! So when you think you've stuffed enough, go back and add at least two more handfuls, maybe more.

3. CURVES! - When you are designing your toy keep those curves subtle! Any sharp curve will pucker and bow when you turn it...the result isn't pretty! Trust the one who has created hundreds of doll prototypes trying to perfect a graceful doll neck:)

4. Curves again - Where there is a curve there is a pucker. You can reduce the appearance of these puckers by carefully clipping the seam allowance while the toy is still inside out. On an inward curve, you will clip tiny little triangles of fabric out of the seam allowance...similar to what a pair of pinking shears will create (bonus tip - yep, you CAN use pining shears to accomplish this!). On outward curves, you want to trim as much of the seam allowance as is possible and still maintain a sound seam. Be sure you don't clip through your stitches.

5. Embellish first - If you're planning to add any details, appliques, or embroidery to the outside of your toy, do it before you put it me again. I've had more than one toy that I just wanted to see come to life, so I waited to add the face...and each time I kicked (and pricked) myself!

6. Find inspiration in the world around you and from other artists, but make the toy your own. Not only is this just good crafty manners, but it makes the toy that much more lovable if you can feel a piece of the artist in the design. PS - outside the realm of the swap, but still...if you are planning to sell anything you have made that was heavily inspired by another artist...check first! Most people are super open to sharing their creative products so long as you get permission and give credit:)

7. HAVE FUN! It's a toy, for goodness sake! It should bring a smile to your face as well as the face of the recipient:)

Now, if you haven't already...go sign up for the swap. And remember, lots of projects coming to inspire you, most of which require absolutely NO sewing, so don't be shy:)

Monday, January 9, 2012

An Easy Handmade Easter Swap...Who Wants to Play?

So, about that Pinterest obsession...well, this time it has tipped off a fantastic little idea. I found a group of moms who hosted an Easter toy/goodie swap at a playdate. Each mom contributed multiples of fun little things to fill Easter baskets and everyone went home with a wonderful variety of exciting handmade things for their little ones.
That led me to the very obvious conclusion that I should host a similar swap right here on the blog! Don't you think it's a GREAT idea? I thought you would:)

So here are the rules...
1.Leave a comment here that you want to play along. Also note the number of children you are swapping for and their ages. Be sure to include your email address if you are a No-reply commenter.
2. All items must be handmade, but that doesn't mean you have to sew...over the next several weeks I will be sharing links to all sorts of projects that you might want to try.
3. Spread the word...the more variety the better!
4. Should the number of participants get way out of hand then I will divide everyone into circles so that you don't end up making 4,652 bunny baskets:)
5. Create one small gift for every child in the swap and mail them so that they reach the recipient at least one week before Easter.
6. Have patience with the swap mama...this is the first time I have hosted a swap. I will forget things, get confused, and make mistakes, but we will work through those as they happen.

I will close sign ups on January 31. After that I will send everyone an email asking for your shipping info an then another with the swap details. I would so greatly appreciate it if you would let me know after the second email, what you plan to make. That way I can prevent any duplications before they occur.

Does that cover it? Come on y' along, ok?

Now a little Etsy love... I am drooling over that little play set up there and I know Bee would flip for it too! can find it here

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pinterest, Pinterest, Pinterest

Have you caved to the addiction? I held out for quite some time, but finally gave in a few months ago. I can honestly say that I am much LESS productive since.

But then, I find things like this from ohdeedoh. It's so easy, doesn't take any additional time out of my morning, but it makes my girls positively giddy! And especially on a day where everyone is under the weather and just a bit on the grumpy side (or in Bee's case, a LOT on the grumpy side), a little pick me up can make a real difference.

So, I'm hooked. And I can admit it, embrace it even. I will continue to pin a million more things that I will ever be able to do. And that's ok with me:)

And in case you're wondering...I very rarely use a pre-made pancake mix. I've pretty much memorized the basic mix that we make because we eat a lot of pancakes, and I do mean, A LOT. But the snowman shown above was made with Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pancake Mix. And that's a strip of bacon, a few blueberries that we froze earlier this year when they were in season, and some vanilla yogurt. I opted for blueberries and yogurt instead of the marshmallows and chocolate chips from the original post. I wish I could say I did this for health reasons, but in all's just what I happened to have close at hand. And no breakfast is complete in our house without yogurt.