A great summer style that’s always on trend is stacked bracelets and bangles. They’re a quick accessory that instantly adds flare and color to your outfit. I was inspired by my newest fabric collection, Tangier Ikat for Free Spirit Fabrics, to use the intricate painted prints in a way that would show off their mix and match aesthetic. When searching for inexpensive bangles, make sure they’re smooth and flat, because textures will make it harder for the fabric to stay on and stay smooth. Try to get at least 10 in varying widths, from about ¼” up to 1”.
• Stackable bracelets
• Fabric scraps
• Measuring tape
• Hot glue gun, or
• Strong double stick tape
1. Measure the width of your bracelet and the circumference around to get the length pf fabric needed. I really love the look of ripped, frayed fabric edges around my bracelets, so cut about 1” into your fabric, and then rip it the rest of the way down. Make sure you rip about ¼” more fabric than the width of your bracelet, so that the frayed edges stick out 1/8” on each side.
2. Use hot glue or strong double stick tape around your bracelet and adhere the fabric on. I only did this on the outside of mine so that the original gold would still peek through, but you can adhere a coordinating fabric to the inside as well for added color.
3. Repeat this simple process for the rest of your bangles! The more you make, the greater the effect will be, and the more options you’ll have for your outfits.
I love how quick this project is; you can make a dozen bangles in just half an hour. This would be a great mother-daughter project anytime!
I’m feeling so ready for hot summer days and cool breezy nights with the windows open! And I’m also so excited about the samples we just got of my new summer fabric collection, Tangier Ikat. It’s so sophisticated and chic, yet bright and playful at the same time! Exactly what I want to make so many new pillows, tea towels, and aprons out of. Maybe even a bright dress or two? Free Spirit Fabric is going to debut this collection mid-May, where retailers will be able to take orders and stock their shops just in time for the start of summer. Here’s a preview of the entire collection – I hope you like it!
Here in Northern California, we certainly don’t get as much rain as other states, but it does happen! And when the drizzle starts, we’re ready. I’m very happy with the four new umbrellas from C.R. Gibson, all coordinating with our existing fashion accessory collections. We had a little photo shoot in my garden to show them off!
Every year my friends and I get together for a big craft weekend. This time, I had a great time trying out new techniques and projects. I had lots of fun felting old wool sweaters and turning them into plush animals for my family. And now that it’s the season for spring cleaning, there’s no better time to go through your closet for sweaters with holes, stains, or styles you just won’t wear again. Thrift stores are also great places to find old wool sweaters in many colors and patterns.
• Wool sweaters in many colors
• Embroidery sewing needle
• Embroidery floss
• Pinking shears or scalloped scissors (optional)
• Store bought felt in more colors (optional)
1. When choosing sweaters, keep in mind that they must be animal fiber like wool, alpaca, and cashmere. Some wool sweaters have been treated for washing, so pay attention to the tag when you start because you don’t want to use these. Big bulky sweaters might shrink and felt so much that they are too thick to sew into plush, and might be better suited for handbags or pot holders. Thinner sweaters should felt up just right to have a nice drape that is easy to sew.
2. Felting sweaters is easy! Simply wash them in hot water with your normal detergent, and then a cold rinse. You want enough water in the machine that they can move around, but not so much that they float to the top and don’t have anything to rub up against. Agitation helps the felting process, so washing the sweaters with some towels can be quite helpful.
3. Dry the sweaters on high heat. If they’re not fully felted at the end, you can repeat this whole process another time. You know you’ve done it when the sweater has shrunk considerably and you can’t see the knit stitches anymore.
4. Now you’re ready to create your plush! You can cut off the ribbed cuffs and cut the sweaters at all the side seams so you can lay it out flat and draw your shapes out in pencil.
5. I created an owl by simply sewing two circles with pointy ears together, and then layering the details (eyes, wings, feet) on top. Simply draw the shape out and cut two pieces and sew them together. Little details like pink cheeks and sewn facial expressions will make your animals come to life and give them life.
I love layering many sweaters together, mixing and matching colors, patterns and textures. That’s one of the reasons doing this project with a group is so great: you can all share your stash of felted wool. The plush that my friends and I created had so much personality from the reused material! Experiment with different big decorative stitches when putting your plush together, like a blanket stitch. Look online or in embroidery books for these easy to learn techniques.
Sometimes a large, empty wall is the elephant in the room. The space can be hard to fill, yet just as awkward to leave empty. I think a collection of similar objects, such as decoupaged plates, is the perfect solution. Clear glass plates are easy to find, and I use color copies of my own hand-painted designs as the artwork to back them.
Clear glass plate, cleaned and dried
Paper cutouts, such as photocopies of family photographs, vintage wallpaper, or botanical illustrations (all paper used for decoupage should be fairly lightweight, similar to computer paper with matte finish)
Small foam brush
Mod Podge or diluted Elmer’s Glue (3 parts glue to 1 part water)
Cork from a wine bottle
Metallic gold marker
Photo by John Ellis
1. Plan the arrangement of paper cutouts on the plate. If using one large cutout, leave a 1/2-inch border all the way around the outside edge.
2. Use the foam brush to spread thin coats of Mod Podge or diluted Elmer’s Glue on the back of the plate. Do the same to the front of the paper cutouts (the side with the image).
3. Carefully place the paper cutouts, image side down, on the side of the plate coated in Mod Podge. Gently press the cutouts flat with your hands; work out any air bubbles or folds in the paper by rolling a cork over them, being careful not to tear the paper.
4. Let the plate dry to touch completely.
5. Use the foam brush to apply another coat of Mod Podge or glue to the back of the plate. Be careful not to lift the edges of the cutouts as you brush. Let the plate dry completely.
6. Repeat step 5 at least two more times, letting the plate dry completely between each application. I recommend 20 minutes between coats.
7. Use the X-ACTO to trim the edges of any cutouts extending beyond the rim of the plate.
8. Use the metallic gold marker to add a gold border to the edge of the plate.
Stenciling a wall is a lot easier than you might think, and is an inexpensive way to add interest to your walls and room. If you’re artistically inclined, you can design a pattern yourself, but if you’re not, many lovely patterns already exist—online, in books, and in prepackaged kits. The simple supplies are available at most craft or hardware stores. I’ve included one stencil at the back of my book, The Painted Home.
Black permanent marker
Low-tack masking tape
Acrylic or stencil paint
Plate or palette
Stencil brushes, either flat-tipped or domed
Rags or paper towels
With the permanent marker, draw or trace your stencil design onto a Mylar sheet.
Use an X-ACTO knife to carefully cut out the design.
Plot your pattern. With a ruler and pencil, lightly mark guidelines on the wall. Use a level to check all verticals and horizontals.
Beginning at the bottommost corner of the wall, adhere your stencil to the wall with low-tack masking tape.
Spread rags or paper towels on the floor to catch any spills or drips.
Put a small amount of acrylic or stencil paint onto a plate or palette. Store the remaining paint in an airtight container.
Dip the dry stencil brush into the paint and daub it on a rag or paper towel. You don’t want excess or watery paint to run down the wall.
Holding the stencil brush perpendicular to the wall, apply the paint. For a speckled effect, lightly tap; for a smoother effect, use a circular motion.
Repeat steps 4 through 7 until the wall is covered.
If any paint accidentally drips or gets onto the wall, you can clean it up with a damp sponge before it dries. The wall will be dry in about 12 hours.
Last week was the start of spring, and here in California all the flowers are in bloom and looking so beautiful. To me, that signals the start of Wedding Season! I love everything about weddings, and now I’m happy to say we’ve got great new products to help you plan a beautiful wedding for yourself.
To start, I’m so happy to share with you my TV appearance on The Better Show, taped in NY back in January. Watch it to learn all about my new edible sugar decals that you can apply right onto any smooth white cake to get an instant inexpensive artistic wedding cake that looks like it cost you big bucks!
The sugar decals can be purchased here, on the Global Sugar Art website. You can also get step by step instructions on how to apply the decals and make fondant shapes with them here. There are even decals for cupcakes and cookies!
While we’re on the topic of weddings, I’m also excited to share with you some new CR Gibson wedding products: bridesmaid invitation boxes and beautiful coordinating thank you cards. I think these came out so well, and the bridesmaid invitation boxes are so one-of-a-kind! With the invitations, you get 4 lovely keepsake boxes with fabric flower petals inside, and a “will you be my bridesmaid?” or maid of honor tag inside. There’s room for you to include a hand written note, or a little something special like jewelry for your special women.
I love the bright, fresh florals in all of these collections, including the edible cake decals. And I love the idea of DIY weddings, where even the cake was made by hand!
Lovely embroidered and printed vintage handkerchiefs are easy to find at the flea market. I pick them up whenever I find special ones that I love. There are all kinds of craft projects that you can use them for. And since I’m almost always wearing a colorful scarf, this project seemed pretty perfect to me! You can easily customize them and make yours longer or shorter. You could also add some small white pom pom trim at the ends of the scarf for extra cuteness!
• 5 coordinating handkerchiefs
• Sewing machine, or
• Needle for hand sewing
• Coordinating sewing thread
1. Lay out your handkerchiefs end to end to find your ideal layout. For example, you can have the handkerchiefs fade from lightest to darkest, or use all mix-and-match colors together.
2. Sew the handkerchiefs right sides together, so that all the seams are on the same side. Or, if you want visible seams for visual interest, lay your handkerchiefs flat, one on top of the next one so that the right side on the left faces the back side of the fabric to the right.
In my opinion, you can never have too many fabulous scarves, so what better way to build your collection than by making your own (and it’s much faster than knitting!)
(Thanks to Katrina for modeling my scarf for me when I’m feeling camera shy!)
A shadow box is a picture frame with extra depth, so you’re not limited to flat materials. You are able to create a miniature stage to display collectibles, meaningful objects, and personalized scenes. Shadow boxes also come in a wide variety of sizes, so shop your local craft stores for one that complements what you would like to display.
Hot Glue Gun
If your shadow box has a glass cover, remove it.
If you would like to paint your shadow box a different color, do that first and let it dry.
Measure the back wall of the box and cut a piece of decorative paper to this size. Spray the back of the paper with spray adhesive and put in place.
Use decorative photo corners to hold a postcard or photo in place on the back wall.
Arrange small items in your box and secure in place with hot glue.
Add a tag with a name or description written on it.
Once everything has dried, close up your shadow box.
A shadow box is a perfect customizable gift. You can create a box that holds memories of a special occasion like a vacation, graduation, or wedding day.
The mementos and small items you can use for this project are endless! Here are some suggestions to get you started: tags, postcards, photos, beads, shells, feathers, coins, millinery flowers, fabric, toys, figurines, jewelry, etc.
Everyone likes a little something sweet, and it’s always special when an event is put together with custom themed decorations and favors. Wrapping your own candy bars also saves a lot of money when compared with companies that offer the same service. And yours will look so much better because of the three dimensional elements!
Candy bars with foil wrapping
Scrapbook and textured paper
Pop-dot adhesive stickers
Double stick tape
Carefully remove the outer wrapping of your candy bar, leaving the foil wrapping intact.
Lay the wrapper out flat and trace these measurements onto a piece of patterned or colored paper with your ruler and pencil. Cut this rectangle along the pencil lines.
Wrap this main rectangle around your candy bar and secure with some double stick tape along the back.
Decorate and customize the front of your candy bars. Little paper accents can be added on with pop-dots for dimension.
This project is endlessly adaptable to any event: weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and more. Not only is the end result unique, but also the process of creating them can be a party in itself. Set up a table full of little bowls of trinkets, embellishments, candy bars, and decorative paper, and invite your friends over for a deliciously sweet craft night. This project is even more fun with a Sizzix die cutting machine. I was able to cut specific paper shapes in seconds this way. For more information on the Sizzix die cutting machine, go to www.sizzix.com.