Craftcation 2017

Coworker: “So where are you going on your time off next week?”

Me: “Um….craft….cation…?”

Coworker: [blank stare]

Its super hard to explain to anyone why a grown woman would need to use up her vacation days to fly across the country to go crafting with a bunch of strangers. (….because I’m a grown woman and I do what I want?)

That is, unless you’ve been to Craftcation.

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So what is Craftcation? Its a 4-day Conference that happens every year in Ventura, CA. Hundreds of crafty creatives get together and attend hands on craft workshops and classes for creative business owners. Its run by the incredible Nicole Stevens and Delilah Snell of Dear Handmade Life.

I made the decision to attend Craftcation about this time last year, as I went onto the Dear Handmade Life website/social media and saw all of their Craftcation 2016 coverage. I had never heard of anything like it, and everyone looked so…happy! Attendees gushed about the amazing experience, and I knew I had to do it. I bought my ticket in October as soon as they went on sale, booked the hotel, and hoped for the best.

I attended by myself. I’m usually quite shy but I wasn’t worried (even though I usually worry about everything.) Between the posts that Dear Handmade Life published and the insights from attendee group on Facebook, I was assured that it wouldn’t be an issue navigating the conference solo. And they were right. Even though the majority of attendees would call themselves introverts, once I was there everyone was super pumped and friendly. I also had 3 random roommates that turned out to be amazing people. (Shout out to Rachel, Robin, and Nica!)

The conference officially starts on Thursday, but on Wednesday they host a few classes and a Happy Hour event for those who arrived early. I arrived too late in the day to take advantage (train issues. Long story), but after my first In-N-Out experience (animal what?) and a walk to watch the sun set on the beach, I settled in to get ready for my first day.

The next few days were so great and went by way too quickly. I took a total of 7 classes, attended 3 business workshops, as well as the Keynote speech (Jenny Hart!) during Dinner on Friday and the Closing remarks (Tiffany Han!!!) on Sunday. I had my headshots taken and went on a Walking Photo Tour with Sarah Deragon , and met Crochet Idol Twinkie Chan!

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Was distracted by succulents at Olivas Adobe (and hey, there’s Delilah!)

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Downtown Ventura as seen from City Hall

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Blue skies at City Hall

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Watching photography master Sarah Deragon at work during the Photo Walking Tour

Other highlights of the conference:

  • My minor freak-out in my Fabric Block Printing class when they told us we would need to draw our designs. I powered through and ended up making a really cute (in the way a mother finds her children cute?) scissor pattern on my tea towels! This was my favorite class and something I want to continue doing!
  • Showing up an hour early with my roommate to the branding workshop by Lela Barker to make sure we all got seats. It was at least 40 minutes before anyone else showed up, but whatever! The workshop was great. (Lela Barker is amazing!) It made me realize I have so much thinking to do about my sewing business.
  • Finishing my Succulent Terrarium only to ask myself how am I getting this home? It made it home, but not before getting manhandled by TSA.
  • An impromptu photo shoot with my roommate at the Dance Party. Because after the Walking Photo Tour I’m obviously a pro photographer.
  • Skipping class to go fabric shopping at SuperBuzzy. Good thing I set a budget, or I would’ve needed a 2nd suitcase.
  • The Food. They provided a few lunches with registration, as well as a dinner. Not only were the venues lovely (Lunches were at City Hall. Dinner was a Olivas Adobe), but the food was DELICIOUS. I don’t remember exactly what we ate, only that I kept wishing we had a fridge in the room so we could take back leftovers every time.
  • Wanderings. I was blown away by Wanderings. To be honest, it sounded kinda…cheesy. Rooms volunteer to host a pop-up shop or activity, and we wander through the hotel from room to room. I seriously underestimated my fellow attendees. Such a fun, bizarre, and exhausting experience, but I loved it!

There were so many moments where I’d walk around and think where else could this ever happen? Like when I walked to the hotel terrace and found a group of girls huddling around a table full of fabrics and a button maker that another attendee had brought so everyone can make magnets. (I made 5.) And when I’d walk by and see a class in progress in the middle of the Marriott Lobby. I met so many lovely people, and most of all left inspired. Not only to finally do something with my business, but to create freely and without judgement from myself.

Craftcation 2018 dates have already been set for April 4-8. Maybe I’ll see you there?

 

 

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Mythical Creatures Brunch: Totoro

Have you heard of Geek Girl Brunch? If you haven’t, go check it out right now.

I joined as soon as they launched a chapter in Miami, and I am not exaggerating when I say its one of the best things I’ve done in the last few years. I have met so many great people through Geek Girl Brunch (GGB) and it has legitimately changed my life.

Last weekend the Miami Chapter had their November brunch with the theme of “Mythical Creatures” in honor of the new Harry Potter movie “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”. It took me a few weeks to find the proper inspiration and I finally made the decision with less than a week before the event. I decided on one of my favorite mythical creatures: Totoro, from “My Neighbor Totoro.”

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As soon as I made my decision, I knew exactly how I would make this happen, and all without having to buy a single thing! (You see, hoarding does have its benefits!)

All I needed was a grey dress, grey and white fleece, and a headband. The most complicated part was the headband. I had purchased a few pairs of kids bunny ears at Target back around Easter (yay for the Dollar Spot!) so I used one as the base for my Totoro ears.

I was crafting this all the night before, so I didn’t get any progress pics. However the process is simple. Once I had the headband and wires exposed I shaped them into the general shape I wanted. I traced this shape onto the fleece and cut out 4 times (I added a seam allowance, but in hindsight I would make it smaller, or eliminate altogether) and sewed two pairs together to make 2 ears! (Sew right sides together, trim excess fabric, and turn right side out!)

If you don’t have a sewing machine I’m fairly sure you can recreate this by sandwiching the wires in between two layers and gluing together.

I slipped them over the wires and glued down the base of the ears to the headband. To cover up the band I cut out a rectangle long enough to cover from end to end, and tapered the width to match the headband. I measured out the location for two slits through which I could squeeze the ears through, and then glued it all down with a glue gun. (I won’t show you the inner part of the headband, because like I said….I was in a hurry so it does NOT look pretty!

The bib was the easiest part to make. I grabbed a piece of fleece, eyeballed the width and height I wanted, and cut out the shape with scissors. I cut out and glued the little crescents with a glue gun. Once dry, I safety pinned (from the inside) to the front of my dress. Definitely not the most impeccable items I’ve ever made, but it was quick, fun, and dare I say cute!

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My best attempt at imitating Totoro’s expression.

Geek Girl Brunch always does a fantastic job at the brunches. If you consider yourself even mildly geeky I’d suggest you check it out! The brunches are very popular, thus a bit difficult to get into, but so worth it! (Did I mention there are swag bags?!)

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Group shot  courtesy of GGB Miami

 

 

Mollie Makes: Amigurumi Doughnuts

Its no secret that I’m a fan of Mollie Makes magazine. The moment I see my magazine in the mailbox I start dancing with excitement….what fun projects will be featured this month?!

When I spotted these adorable amigurumi doughnuts in last month’s issue I absolutely knew I needed one of my own! For those who aren’t familiar with amigurumi, it is the Japanese art of crocheting stuffed objects with anthropomorphic features.

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Crochet has a special place in my heart. I want to say that it was the first crafty skill I learned. I was about 7 or 8 years old, on vacation with my family in Colombia and my mother’s aunt decided to teach me during the time I was there. I vividly remember the frustration of having to mirror everything that she was doing (Yay for being a lefty!) and working with a very fine crochet hook and thread (it was mustard yellow). My little hands would get sweaty and keeping tension was a struggle. Thanks to her infinite patience I stuck with it and more or less learned the basics.

So back to the doughnuts….aren’t they adorable?!

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Look at those happy doughnuts!

I decided to make the pale pink doughnut with white icing. (Um, how awesome is it to have a yarn stash and not have to purchase anything??)

Once again, I found that the Mollie Makes instructions assume an existing level of craftiness. In this case, you need to know the basic stitches. Its also a UK magazine, so I think they may use different terminology for crochet?? I thought they were referencing a Double Crochet stitch, but I used a Single Crochet instead (since its the basic amigurumi stitch).

There’s just something about crochet….its so relaxing because of the level of repetition. It gets me in the zone every time. (On that note, you don’t really want to be watching TV or singing music you’re tempted to sing along to. That’s how you lose count of your stitches!)

The steps were pretty basic. The hardest part for me is the actual stuffing and sealing of the doughnut. My hands are just awkward like that.

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Donut, or bagel? 

My favorite part: making the face!!

I used Safety Eyes (they’re like stud earrings that don’t come off!), and red thread for the mouth. Its always fun to experiment with the expressions, but I decided to copy the magazine go simple with a basic happy expression.

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Pin that icing down!

For the icing you simply crochet a few lines, and then stitch them on. While I typically hate doing all these small decorative details, I really enjoyed it this time! It may have something to do with the level of cuteness of this doughnut. (Don’t you want to just take a bite out of it?!)

A hint though: always read the directions all the way through before proceeding…..if I’d have done that I would’ve left the tails a bit longer and saved me some heartache with sewing on that icing.

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Ta-da! I made it myself! =D

This project reminded me just how much I love crochet….and how long its been since my LAST amigurumi project! I can’t wait for the next one!

Channeling my Spirit Animal: Stimpson J. Cat

 

 

A friend of mine recently celebrated her 30th birthday with the best theme ever….Nickelodeon of the 90’s!

Of course, dressing up was encouraged and there were SO MANY great shows to choose from! From the game shows (Legends of the Hidden Temple, Gutz, Double Dare, What Would You Do?), to the cartoons (Doug, Rugrats, Ren & Stimpy), and other classics like Salute Your Shorts, Clarissa Explains it all, Are you Afraid of the Dark, just to name a few.

I decided early on I wanted to be Judy Funnie. However when I realized I’d be Judy Funnie minus the orange hair, minus the purple dress, and minus the glasses….I knew I had to do something else. Unfortunately that was the day before the party. I was out of time.

I brainstormed that morning, and something drew my thoughts toward everybody’s favorite cat…Stimpson J. Cat!

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My spirit animal.

I had a burgundy shirt that would work and I would recreate Stimpy’s goofy face on my shirt!

With some white, blue and pink fleece from leftover projects I could make it happen. I was a little short on time, so after a few attempts at using a satin stitch for the mouth (the sewing machine kept jamming) I decided on using a Sharpie to outline his eyes and his mouth. The tongue was sewn only on one end which left it wagging a little (a feature I was very excited/proud about for some reason).

The hardest part was getting the face onto the shirt. Fleece doesn’t stretch very much. On the other hand the shirt was very stretchy. I hand sewed the top corners, and the rest I safety pinned to allow it to stretch and move without bunching up. (Plus, I wanted to be able to use the shirt later without Stimpy.)

It doesn’t look exactly like him, but for someone who doesn’t draw at all, I’d say I’m close enough! Most importantly I had a lot of fun making it and wearing it!

Any other 90’s kids? What was your favorite Nickelodeon show?

 

The Triforce Pillow

My boyfriend is a life-long Zelda fan. To the point that he has a Zelda-related tattoo…The Triforce. Hence my decision to make him a Triforce pillow.

Originally I had planned on this being a birthday gift, but of course, I am a procrastinator and I missed the deadline. Instead…he got a Valentine’s Day gift this year!

The materials were few: a pillow form (I used 18″), hunter green fleece, yellow felt, and matching thread for each color. Tools needed: cutting tools, measuring tools, a sewing machine and paper (to serve as a pattern for the triangles).

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I prefer fleece to make pillow cases because 1) its softer, and 2) it has a stretch that’s a bit easier to shape in the end. For the “shapes” I  prefer felt over fleece because it WON’T stretch (as much) and is less likely to get distorted while sewing.

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I wanted to keep it simple and opted for an envelope closure for the pillow, meaning the back would consist of two overlapping pieces….it also means you don’t need a zipper or buttons. I added a bit more overlap than I probably needed just to be safe….(you can see the 3 pieces in the picture above. From right to left is the front, the back top piece, and the back bottom).

Next up: The Triforce!

In this case it was super easy laying out and cutting the Triforce….after all, its 3 equilateral triangles. How hard can it be??? (Its not, just remember to make them truly equilateral….which means the overall height is NOT going to be the same as the width. Oops. I missed that on m first attempt.)

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Once I had my paper pattern I used a rotary cutter to make sure all my lines were extra clean…I don’t know about you, but my scissor work can get a little ragged…

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Another word to the wise: Iron your fabric beforehand. Not only do pictures come out better, you ensure you’re laying everything out correctly. (I lightly ironed the felt after I cut it out.)

Cutting: simple. Layout…..slightly trickierI always struggle a little to keep shapes perfectly aligned, and when you’re trying to match these tiny points with a fluffy fabric it doesn’t always turn out right. However, I’d say I did pretty well….

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I stitched the outline of the larger triangle first, leaving the inner triangle last.

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Once that’s done, its ready to become a pillow!

I laid the “top” section first (because I wanted that to be on the outside once I flipped it inside out), and the “bottom” section on top of that…

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Sew around the border (1/2″ seam allowance), clip the corners, and flip!

I’ve got myself a pillow!

Er, I mean….the boyfriend has a pillow…

 

 

 

Candy Heart Garland

Sometimes you get something into your head, and there’s no way to get it out except to force it out. This was one of those times.

I got it in my head I wanted to make a candy heart garland for Valentine’s Day, so one random night I got home, pulled out some yellow felt, and started working. I stayed up much too late, and in the end I made….well, a creepy looking heart that was completely the wrong shape, with some lame looking letters. Not what I was going for. Frustrated, I put the project aside and gave it up as a failure.

But it wouldn’t leave me alone. I decided to try again….this time with fleece. And instead of embroidery for the letters  I’d cut them out of felt.

The moment I picked out my fabric colors at JoAnn’s I knew I was headed in the right direction….I mean, how cute are these colors?!

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For the shape, I wanted similar proportions to traditional candy hearts without making them flat on both sides. It took me a few rounds of trial and error to finally get a shape I was happy with.

Once I had my template ready to go I cut out two hearts from each of the fabrics.

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The process of actually making the hearts after this was pretty quick and easy….I sewed all the way around with roughly 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving 1-2″ open, then I flipped and stuffed. The last step was to hand sew that 1-2″ opening to seal in the filling.

My favorite part of the whole process was making the letters. I’ve always enjoyed cutting letters out of construction paper. I find it oddly therapeutic.I purchased a couple of sheets of fuchsia felt from JoAnn’s which I cut into 1″ strips (for a consistent height).

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Why are M’s so hard to make?!!

In my research, I was amused to find that candy hearts nowadays often say “Txt me” or “Email me”. There was none of that around when I was a kid! I went with the traditional “Be Mine” and “Kiss me”….and decided to throw in a “Bae” reference since, you know, I’m cool and stuff… (“cool” is still a thing, right?)

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Because I wanted the flexibility to take these on and off a garland (not ’cause I’m lazy or anything…) I used safety pins to attach a ribbon to the very top of each heart.

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Last step: string a ribbon through those babies! I did tie a loose knot at each to maintain the separation between them once they got hung up.

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In the end I’m very pleased with how they turned out! They’re far from perfect, but they make me happy!

Mollie Makes Wall Hanging Loom Kit

Woven wall hangings. You can’t turn a corner these days without seeing one in a crafty magazine or blog, and every time I see one I get a little kick out of it. You see, back in the 90’s at the height of the heyday of fabulous floral bedding and matching curtains, I too had a woven wall hanging in my room.

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Look! Its a woven wall hanging!

 

No, neither of those is me. Yes, that fabulous room is mine. And that wall hanging? Made by none other than my grandmother.

Naturally, when I got Issue 58 of Mollie Makes I was amused that the free kit was a loom kit! I immediately thought of my old wall hanging and my grandmother’s many talents.

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wp-1454724814818.jpgThe kit came with a mini loom and shuttle, string, yarn, a needle, and a dowel (although I think mine didn’t come with the dowel….I had to use the shuttle instead. It occurred to me a yellow #2 pencil would’ve looked cute too…if I had one.)

You guys, weaving isn’t easy….I mean, once you get into a rhythm its quite soothing. But the setup? I found it confusing. The instructions and photos weren’t 100% helpful with some parts. And I never thought of my fingers as fat….but with this mini loom I felt like a giant trying to be dainty.

So please don’t ask to look at the back of my wall hanging. Its not pretty.

Throughout first half I was trying to recreate the wall hanging from the magazine photographs, but when I realized I had free rein it was fun trying to figure out what I can do through trial and error. Towards the end I was excited, knowing I could reuse my loom with new yarns and make as many wall hangings as I like! (I can just picture me “wallpapering” my walls with little mini hangings…)

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And there is my finished product! I’m embarrassingly proud of it.

Someone told me that my wall hanging looked a bit like a dress. I think they might be right….so here it is being modeled by a doll!

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Have you ever tried loom weaving?