Saturday, June 26, 2010

Beginner Sewing




The Family of the Artist, 1895 
by Viggo Johansen,  Denmark  (1792-1870) 




This bag can be used for nature walks with children, to collect whatever the season provides. They are called nature bags and are used by home schoolers for their nature studies.

It would be helpful if someone could demonstrate up close, because you need to know when to work with the inside (wrong side) or outside (right side) of the fabric.  If for some reason, it does not come out perfectly, just consider it shabby chic or primitive, and use it anyway.



A pattern is not necessary. It can be made with any size fabric. If in doubt, take a piece of paper out of the copy machine, and use it as a pattern. Place it on folded fabric, and cut around it, leaving the fold intact. The photo above, shows the ends turned under twice, to make small hems. Use the iron to get a flat, straight crease.


For beginners who have no hand-sewing experience, it might be helpful to draw your stitching lines with a pencil, just to make it easy to follow with needle and thread.
Beginners can use a large-eyed needle, to make it easier to put the thread through. Thread the needle and tie a knot at the long end.  Search the web for needle-threading instructions. Push needle into the end of a line, and pull it back through from the other side of the fabric, to the other side of the stitch-line that is drawn with pencil.



Stitch both of the folded and ironed sections, all the way to the end of the cloth.
Finish by making several stitches over lapping, make a knot with the needle and thread, and clip the thread.

 Fold the fabric in half, with the hems showing, and stitch up the two sides, in the same manner. These two hems form the opening of the bag.



Turn the bag inside out and push the corners out with the scissors.


For the handle, cut a strip of fabric as long as you prefer, and iron both sides in toward the middle, as shown.



Fold in half again and press down firmly with hot iron. Stitch together with an over-cast stitch on the open edges.



Insert the handle inside the right and left corner of the bag.




Add trim and buttons, or leave plain.





Boys love to have a "messenger bag" or collectors bag, for rocks and sticks, arrowheads, and all kinds of treasures. You can make the one on the left by cutting out the pockets of worn out trousers and sewing together. To make a handle, use a seam, cut out from the same pants.


A collection of bags from fabric scraps and trims. There are numerous other uses for them.




These are made by children, from paper. The paper is folded in half, the sides are glued, leaving an opening. Handles are made from the same piece of paper and inserted inside the bags.  These could be used as special gift pouches for guests. Insert a pretty paper napkin, and a home made biscuit.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

6/17/2010


Press here for more information about this and other beautiful 18th and 19th century paintings.




This is a scrap-art project that takes only a few minutes. 



All that is needed is a seed or bulb catalog,(the kind with shiny, photo type pages works best) a blank card, a couple of stickers, and a bright, contrasting scrap of paper to use as a background.




A side view of the dimensional butterfly sticker. I showed how to make your own layered clip-art in an earlier post of dimensional cards. This sticker was from a card of similar stickers, with little sparkle bits already glued on it.




Find a picture in the catalog and cut it out. If it has a catalog number on it, it is easy to cover it up with a sticker.  Paste the scrap of paper on the folded card, using a solid glue stick, and add the clipping and large butterfly sticker, or cut out a butterfly from a Birds and Blooms magazine.   This card fits in a normal card-size envelope.

I have just returned from visiting a friend who is recovering from illness. She has been making collages from old issues of Birds and Blooms magazines. They are put in frames, under glass, and look quite impressive. She chooses one of the larger, scenic pictures, and then cuts out paths. She makes the paths get smaller into the distance of the picture, and surrounds the paths with trees and flowers she has cut out. She tries to tell a story with her pictures, often having a house somewhere in them, with gates, birdbaths and fences. One of her collages looked like this:




This one is covered in clear contact paper, but the ones in frames looked much better.

In case you missed this folded village card craft, here are a couple of pictures of the finished project.


Be sure to click on for a larger view...



...and download your pattern from The Pleasant Times.  Fill up your page with several of the patterns and then print it on white card stock. These can be colored with any medium (paint, crayons, pencil, chalks).  The message can be written on the blank side. Fold the card at the seams and then put it in a small envelope as a gift tag or a greeting card.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Eden of Home


Country Cottage, by Joshua Fisher

An interesting  way to make anything worthwhile and beautiful, is to think back to the beginning of time; to the Creation. There are several lessons that can be taught about the Garden of Eden, and taking care of the home is one of them.

The first two chapters of the book of Genesis record the creation of the very first home and family. The description of the beautiful garden, and the couple who lived there, can be an example in creating our own homes, for a number of reasons: It had everything the man and woman needed for living, and to make a living. We assume by its description of the rivers, the precious gems and the flora, that it was also a lovely, pleasant place.



Stephen Darbishire

If God saw fit to create such a lovely place for Adam and Eve, we can, in our limited way, provide a place of beauty and happiness for our own families.  The work of the house can be approached as though it were a special Eden, a reflection of that first home.

Log Cabin Covered Porch, by Sung Kim

 Like the Garden of Eden, the home will  have to be cared for and maintained. Not all of the work will be completely pleasant, and that is why homemakers enjoy the little extras in the home. That is why homemakers are interested in the special touches, from fresh foods and special napkins for the table, to bright cushions and scenic pictures for the living areas. Not all housekeeping will be easy. That is why women are interested in choosing good working tools and cleaning products. Straw brooms, polishes, detergents and storage containers of a certain quality and appearance, become very important in making housekeeping meaningful and uplifting. These little touches create a nice atmosphere in which to work.

Making work worthwhile means that you have to have some kind of vision beyond the current job. You will not just be cleaning up the kitchen or doing the laundry. You will be making life more pleasant for yourself by having this work done. In the short-term scheme of things, you are making life easier for yourself by being able to find things, but in the long term, you will be building a life for yourself that your own generations will one day refer to when they talk about the things you did to make the home more comfortable. If you have children, your attitude will influence them one way or another. These are among the future results of homemaking with thoughtfulness.




On the first day of the Creation, God made the lights. Light is an important factor in homemaking. Choosing curtains that let in soft light, or having a flickering candle on a mantelpiece, is better than working in a gloomy, unlit room. When photographs are made for house magazines, light is the first thing that is prepared, so that the home will be shown at its best.  Small lamps, chosen for their style or sentimental value, positioned in corners and on furniture side pieces can make housekeeping enjoyable.

The second day of creation, the heavens and the waters were separated. Some things belong in one place, and others in another place.  If the earth were all jumbled up in a big mess, we could not function as human beings. Consider the home as a type of creation in the making. You may have to separate things and  create places for them,  to make order.  In a huge mess, begin by placing things that are alike, together in piles and finding a place for them. Books, clothes, toys, and papers, all need to have their own places. This is part of creating order, and making home living enjoyable. 



Arranging Flowers, by Leonard Zorn

 The third day, the dry land, called the earth, appeared, and was separated from all the great bodies of water. On top of that ground, God added green grass and herbs and fruit-bearing trees. The concept of interior home design must have come  from the Creation, because designers  usually take care of the big things first, like the floors, the walls, and the drapery. Then, like the plants added to the earth,  they add the furniture, and lastly, the accessory items of pictures, lamps and other useful or decorative items.

The fourth day, all the different kinds of lights were placed in the heavens--some for day time and some for night time. There are such nice choices for your private Eden of the home: humble curtains that let in light as the morning appears, and pretty lamps with special shades for extra evening light. Soothing, scented candles light the home with memories of simpler times. My favorite scented votive is called birthday cake, which makes a wonderful aroma for the house when stored in decorative containers and left unlit.




Sunshine in the Country, by George Turner

The fifth day, all the living things that could fly or swim, were created. A friend of mine has an old painting of a farm home. In the scene, are animals, with a little creek flowing through the land. Children are playing outside on a home made swing. There are clouds in a blue sky, and daffodils in a flower garden. Although she does not live in the country, this lady's  picture is a reminder of the relationship of the home to the creation. I think it is very good for home makers to remind their families of where life began, by having pictures on their walls, with scenes of the birds of the air and other living things. A small plant or container of flowers brings in fresh scent and gives you a close-up view of nature. If you have things growing outside, try a handful of spearmint stalks, mixed with the humble forget-me-not, which brightens the center of a table and scents the home.




Summer Evening, by Daniel Ridgeway Knight

The sixth day, after creating animals, God created man and woman.  The home was prepared, and now, it was time to put someone in it to care for it. These two people were told to have dominion over the creation. In a similar way, we must have control over the house, so that it can provide the place we need in order to think, to pray and to work. Most people do not have the luxury of outside help from maids and gardeners. That is why it is so important to develop the habit of caring for the home and keeping it orderly. It takes daily attention. There will be interruptions and sick days, but if you have the idea of Eden in your mind, you can always get back on track. 

If you keep in your mind a vision of the reputation you are building for yourself in the future, and the many reasons you want to be a good homemaker, the work does not seem like mere housekeeping. It becomes fulfillment. If you work carefully and enjoy it, rather than rushing around doing it in a hectic manner, it becomes less of a race and more of a gentle walk through your own Eden.




Grandmother's Doorway, by Abbot Fuller Graves

On the seventh day, God rested. Keeping house and doing it enthusiastically can give the homemaker more free time and more opportunities to put her feet up and rest. When everything is in order, there is more time to  seek special creative interests. I often put simple crafts, art projects and sewing on this weblog to show how just a few minutes of creating something special with your hands can lift the mood and result in something beautiful. This same concept can be used in keeping house. You can treat it as a creative work art. These are some of the perks of homemaking. They do not detract from our work, and they enhance the job at  home.

A homemaker wants to make the daily housekeeping a little more interesting.  That is why some of them use motivational things like interesting aprons to protect their clothing, with pockets for lists and found items, special table cloths and table settings, pictures of nature on the walls, floral prints on fabrics used for pillows or blankets, and all the lovely extras that make life at home so enjoyable. Most people are familiar with the film, "The Quiet Man," in which the young woman tells her prospective husband that she must have her things around her, in her house: the household furnishings that belonged to her mother and her grandmother: her table cloths, candlesticks, pictures for the walls, and her dishes.  This is what we still need, today, to make housekeeping enjoyable. If it is just a matter of sweeping the floor and cleaning the bathroom, it cannot be as appealing. When we are surrounded by the small comforts of a hand made blanket and a favorite cup, housekeeping has a different meaning: we are taking care of our own things.



The Family Album, 1869, by Charles Edouard Frere, French (1837-1894)

 We are the caretakers of the family history. We are the ones who keep the photograph albums and make the scrapbooks to record family events. We are the ones who create the special moments for the family. Keeping house so that these things can occur, makes good sense.  Women of the past used to say something like, "Let us get our work done early, and then we can go somewhere," or "Let's get the housework finished and then we can work on our favorite things."

To make housekeeping more enjoyable, try the following things:

Preparing for the next day, by leaving the kitchen clean at night before you retire. It might be possible to try this at least one night a week.
Dressing like a lady the first thing in the morning, and wearing an apron.
Putting a centerpiece on the table, after you have cleared it.
Putting away the dishes after they are washed, and making the kitchen streamlined and clean, as bare of clutter as possible.
Using a matching canister set to store often-used ingredients such as baking supplies or dried soup supplies.
Putting a tea set on display, ready to serve  impromptu visitors.
Folding things to fit the spaces they have to go in.
Laying a special folded towel across the edge of the tub, with a fresh bar of a special hand made soap on it.
Adding a pretty quilt to the top of your couch.
Buy scented candles and place them around the house, especially the laundry room, bathroom and kitchen. Without being lit, they make a wonderful scent for the home when placed in a decorative container and set on a shelf.  
Giving your home and yourself rewards: making a new garment to wear at home, having friends over for a fancy tea, ordering something special for the home, starting a new knitting project you have been wanting to do for years, or working on your photograph album or family memento scrapbook.
Not just cleaning house, but beautifying your living spaces, and thinking about, not just the near future, but the further future of your family.


While these things do take a little extra time, that is one of the purposes of a woman staying home. She has time for things that make her house feel homey and cared for. These are those extra things that calm the spirit and make life at home satisfying and fulfilling.


Due to some setting on this blog that prevents clicking and saving, you might find it difficult to print this article. To print this, highlight and paste on another page, then click print. It may still be possible to download.


For further reading on other homemaking subjects, you might find this site helpful.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Leisure Craft: Victorian Dress Card From Scrapbook Papers and Trims

Cottage in Derbyshire, by George Turner, British 1843-1910





These cards can be made from medium weight or heavier scrapbook papers, and trimmed with the paper lace that comes in squares, circles and hearts. The buttons on the pink dress are diamond-look stickers. The ones on the left are made by putting green sparkle over drops of white glue. Thin buttons can be used for this, and you can also add some picot ribbon to match, at the hem.



Materials for this project are minimal: fancy paper or card stock, paper lace, stickers.



The template is placed on the fold of the paper. It makes a card just the right size for a long envelope.



It is joined at the sleeve and skirt, on the fold. This is what the card looks like on the inside, when it is opened. You can add extra pages just by making them a little smaller than the skirt section and securing with clear tape.



To make the collars, use the corners of square paper lace or the point of a heart paper lace, or curves of the round paper lace. Glitter glue dots for buttons. Center the neckline of the  card over a corner of paper lace and trace around on to the paper, to get the right shape.


You should be able to print this template by clicking on for a larger view, and printing it.   To make your own template, start by drawing your dress style. Fold the drawing in half, and cut out both layers. Open it up, and it will be even on both sides. Paste to heavy paper or card stock, and you will have a template. Place the left edge of the sleeve and skirt on folded paper or card stock, trace with a pencil, and cut out.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Homestead Craft - Woodsy Fake Cake



This fake cake can be easily made with natural things from the outdoors.

It is covered in bark from the white ash tree, and topped with pine cones. All it needs is a miniature shovel for the slice. The white ash tree bark is very thin, like paper, and peels off easily.


It can be made with silk flowers if preferred. Ingredients needed are: three small stryrofoam rounds (from the dollar store), tree bark, a blank side of a piece of paper, a pen, a serated spatula or a knife with a serated edge,  tacky glue or fabritack, or hot glue. Thin white glue does not dry as fast, but might work.

Trace around the styrofoam round with the pen. If you do not want to buy styrofoam, trying using a short, round box with a lid, and make the cake completely round, with no slice.

Cut out the circle you just traced, and fold it in half, then, in half again. Open it up and cut out one of the fourth sections.

Lay the larger section on top of the rounds, and trace the "V" shape with a pen, digging into the styrofoam a little to make a line to follow.

With the serated edged spatula or knife, slice out the section on each round. Drop big glops of glue all over the inside layers. Glue all three layers of foam together with fabritack or tacky glue. Hot glue works too. This is not a craft for children.

Then, slice off a little less than half of the small sections, as you see here. Glue all three layers together.


With ordinary scissors, or childrens scissors, cut the bark sheets to match the size of the cake, and start gluing them on. White ash has a lot of curly pieces, and you can use them to patch and embellish the cake. Squeeze big drops of glue on to the stryrofoam and then press the bark on it. Cover any edges that have styrofoam still peeking through, with extra curls of white ash bark.
Use the under side of the bark for the inside of the cake, as you see here. The inside is usually a dark brown, while the outside is white.





Place white bark on the ends and widesst side of the slice. Glue the dark side of the bark on to the slice.


In place of pine cones for the top, use whole cinnamon sticks.  Scent the cake with any choice of scented oil.
A friend of mine has decorated her home in a north woods theme. Someone gave her one of these and she has it on her entry table by the front door, where anyone who walks in can get a whiff of the nice aroma. The scent can be refreshed by adding more scented oil or scented spray.  This is a good outdoor craft because you can just let the scraps fall to the ground. It takes about an hour to complete.

Take a look at this real cake, made to look like a birch bark cake.  For more craft cakes, type in "chennille cakes" or "felt cakes" and see the hundreds of creative, hand made things people are doing.

There used to be some McCall's craft books that showed how to make potpourri cakes. The scented fake cakes are very popular now, being seen in show homes and other places where fake food is used. The scent is wonderful for the home.

Things like leaves, cedar branches, or pine cones, could be used in lieu of bark. There might also be some artificial materials such as scrapbook papers, and woodsy decorations, that look just like this.

You may also be interested in this floral scented fake cake.

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