A Hodgepodge

A hodgepodge, defined as a mixture, especially of things that may not go together.  That about sums up this post.  Dug up a few things on the way back part of my phone, added some new stuff, and some totally irrelevant stuff, so yeah, here it is!  First off, I think I will share my bird woes.  This is Dinglebird:

We named him Dinglebird because he will spend hours at a time hurling himself at our windows.  My windows end up looking like this:

Mostly a lovely mixture of mud and poop.  Yippee.  Yes, we have tried EVERYTHING.  Those stickers on the window?  Made to keep birds from flying into them.  They work great on other birds, but not Dinglebird.  Scare tape?  Yeah, you have to be kidding, like that will keep him away.  Hawk silhouettes, oh please.  Loud noises, flapping flags, you name it … nothing.  We put up with Dinglebird’s antics for at least a couple of hours a day for two months.  According to the neighbors, he was visiting them as well.  He even was going after upper story windows.  And then one day, he quit.  I don’t know if he finally built a nest, or flung himself to his death.  Either way it’s rather peaceful.

We are pretty sure that this does not belong to Dinglebird, but someone else was trying:

I had to remove it, as it was in a spot that would not be safe.  I found it before it was too far along, but I figured if we had baby Dinglebirds, our windows would not survive!

Hubby and I got really brave this past weekend and went to a couple of garage sales.  We figured as long as the folks having the sale wore masks, and we did too and kept our distance it would be fine, and it really was.  Folks were being really nice and behaving themselves, so we were able to relax and enjoy, and we found some pretty funny things.

How about this?

I have to say I have never seen a Ta-Bed.  That is even it’s official name.  Check it out:

Can you just see yourself, pitching the computer in the corner and making up a bed for your guests?  I sort of wanted it.  Luckily for us, we had no room for it, as we were a couple towns over with a car.  On the same vein of sort of wanting things, Hubby wanted this:

Seems a bit of an overkill for taking care of Dinglebird, but I bet you might not need those no trespassing signs, if folks knew you had this.  I did do some looking, and it is legal to own a machine gun as long as it was made before 1986.  The price on this one was $6500, and so luckily hubby was able to leave it alone.  Also, after looking at the research, this was a deal!  Who knew?

We did purchase a couple of things at this sale.  Give this a gander and a guess as to what they are:

They are brass, about 16 inches long.  They are open on one of the long sides and closed on the other.  There are two tiny holes on the back of each near the ends.  And we were thrilled to find them.

Give up?  Blotter ends.  They are for a decorative desk set, and there would have been a large blotter inserted into each side and tacked in place with tiny nails in the small holes.  We love Arts and Crafts style things and were so excited by these.  I will have to figure out how I want to put together a blotter for them.

I also found this:

Did I need a German silver mesh purse?  Nope, and when they said $35.00, I really didn’t need it.  We were going to pay them the couple of bucks they wanted for the blotter ends and walk out, but sales must have been slow, as they ended up letting us have both things for $25.00.  And now I have a purse I don’t need, but like enough to enjoy owning, and a heck of a deal on the blotter ends.  It will really annoy a good friend of ours who likes Arts and Crafts things too.  Wins all the way around.

And last up a couple of really old finds that I had from days back when I could go to thrift stores.  Seems like forever ago!

This plate really puzzled me.  It was a presentation piece from a couple, not a business or anything.  The decal was put on off center, and whole thing was just weird.  Someone must have liked it a lot at one time, as it still had a plate hanger on the back.  They proudly displayed that crooked plate for all to see.  They must have been really “special” friends.

I guess the first plate is preferable to the second one:

Come on, how exciting could that well really be?  I get that if you lived in the middle of the prairie and you struck water, especially if you were digging by hand, you would be pretty chuffed, but after the initial excitement wears off, water is water.  And even if you continue to blither over your well, would you make a plate so others could too?  I know Kansas can be pretty boring, but now we have proof positive, and we also know they have a thing for plates.

This last thing just made me smile.  I wanted it, too:

It’s just a Mylar balloon, but who wouldn’t want a shiny, sparkly, unicorn balloon?  Maybe I have been home too long, and even a balloon in a grocery store amuses me.  Needless to say, I didn’t think it would amuse Hubby, so I snapped a pic, loaded my grocery cart for the first time in a couple of months and headed back home.  Seems like the story of our lives, but we will get through it.  Stay strong, and wear your mask!

Posted in Friday Finds | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boredom Busters #10

Well, I hope things are getting better in your state.  Things are attempting to get back to sort of normal around here, and we are getting busier with yard work and outdoor things, so we will be scaling back the Boredom Buster posts.  We have a couple more fun ideas, but we will probably space them out further, so unless we get a huge outcry and clamor for lots more, these will slow down.  Hopefully, there will be no need for them again this fall, but if there is, no fear, we will return, and our usual Friday blog posts will remain in place.  They may still be a bit odd here and there, but we will persevere.

First up, yet another doll pattern:

These cute tropical wrap pants and top are great for your doll’s getaway.  Aren’t we glad our dolls can hit the beach, even if we can’t?  (Not really, but I am pretending anyway!)

Here is the pattern:

And the basic instructions:

Tropical Pants and Top

  1. Cut out pieces.  Cut two pants pieces, and two top pieces from your fabric.  Also cut two top pieces of lining.
  2. For pants, narrow hem outside edges and bottom of pants. I like to use Fray Check and only turn the fabric ONCE, so it is not as stiff.
  3. With right sides together sew crotch seam. Clip curves and press.
  4. Sew a casing on each side of top of the pants, by turning the top under 1/8 inch, then under again ¼ inch and stitch close to the fold, leaving both ends open.
  5. For the front cut a 2 ½ inch piece of elastic and insert into the casing. Gather the fabric till it just fits the elastic and stitch elastic just inside the end of the casing.  I like to stitch it at the same time I sew on the hook and eye, saves time; add the hook and eye, or you can use snaps, but I like the less bulky hook and eye.
  6. On the back, insert a ribbon, string or other tie that is about 12 inches long. Add some beads or other sort of weight to the ends and knot.
  7. To put the pants on your doll, fasten the elastic side around the doll’s waist, slip the rest between the legs, and bring up and tie a bow in front. Just a basic wrap pant.
  8. For the top take one each of lining and fabric and stitch right sides together around the edges leaving the straight back end open.
  9. Clip corners, trim seams and turn right side out. Press inside a quarter inch on the open end and hand stitch closed.
  10. Overlap the front tie area and stitch in place to look like a tie.  I usually add some beaded decoration or something.  You can also slip the ends through a jump ring and stitch in place.  Cool look as well.
  11. Fit to your doll and sew two snaps on the back.

Here is a quick photo of how the front of the top works seeing it on the front and back:

And a photo of the top of the pants:

I was looking for some cool printable things and found this site:

FREE Printables of Insanely Beautiful Vintage Posters That You Can Transform Into Vintage Wall Art

Tons of really cool old posters, maps, postcards etc.  Free for the downloading.  Print them small for your dolls, print them larger for your walls.  Use them for scrapbooking, card making etc.  Heck, if you don’t have a color printer, print them in black and white and make them look like hand-colored images with color pencils.  Hours of fun!

And if your dollies have been deprived of fast food, here is a great place to get them a fix:

Fast Food Minis

Some cute print and assemble things, and at least they are guaranteed to not be fattening.

And last up today, yet another recipe.  We have been missing out on the main food group of chocolate, so that must be rectified immediately.  I love this recipe, as it makes a smaller cake.  Perfect for a quick quiet birthday, or a major craving!

Upside Down Chip Cake

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

4 teaspoons water

1/2 cup flaked coconut

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 cup flour

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup butter softened

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup miniature chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in a 9 × 1 ½ inch round baking pan.  Stir in the 1/2 cup brown sugar and the water.  Sprinkle coconut and pecans in the pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and baking powder.  Add milk, the 1/4 cup butter, eggs, and vanilla.  Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 1 minute.  Hand stir in 1/2 cup chocolate chips.  Spread batter in prepared pan.  Bake 40 to 45 minutes till firm.  Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.  Loosen sides and turn onto a plate.  Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips.

I like to make this in a heart-shaped pan for Valentines or a romantic dinner for two!

Please venture out into the world carefully.  Wear your mask to keep yourself and others safe.  And always remember, when you are wearing a mask, you can stick your tongue out at whoever you want, and no one will know.  Isn’t that worth it?

Posted in Boredom Busters | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

I’ve Got Some Lemons, Let’s Make Lemonade!

Just like everyone out there it’s getting hard to keep myself to myself!  I really want to go garage saling or to the thrift stores.  I was thinking that Kathy and I should set up a goody bag swap for each other so we have some new things to play with.  She’s ahead of me because she brought me a book and two doll outfits this week when the Summer Intern mowed my lawn.  It’s nice that we can sit outside, six feet apart of course, and just talk, talk, talk, with the drone of the mower as a backdrop.  I’m lucky to have several friends who are on the same page as me; we visit outside, don’t touch, bring our own drinks, and of course sit a ways apart.  It’s a new social setting, but it is better than nothing!

I thought I would torture you first with the last two scans from last Friday’s crafting nightmare, Make it with Plastic Bottles.  I just lost heart there for a bit last week, since it was all so bad, but time gives you some perspective and seven days makes one week.  Thank my hubby for that bad joke.

I would call these two pages, “Quick Gifts for your best Frenemy”:

On the left is the ubiquitous curler holder made from a bleach bottle.  It’s actually rather tame, with a felt drawstring top, rickrack, and flower decoration.  At least your curlers would smell clean as you rolled your hair, and if some bleach accidentally got in your hair, well, “Blondes have more fun!”  I searched the internet for other pictures of bleach bottle curler storage, and found pictures of bleach bottle piggy banks, Santas, bleach bottles with crochet tops, and then this, which made me stop looking:

Oh, dear God, two more Ruffles the Ugly Bunnies!  That’s the internet for you—be careful what you’re looking for because there’s always something worse to see!

Okay, I’m going to put the original picture right here as sort of a brain wipe so you can forget that you saw the previous picture:

The only reason to repeat the photo is that we NEED to talk about the craft on the right page—the Mexican Hat.  You have to hear how they made this:

Remove the top part of a one-pint beach bottle.  Cut the sides of the remainder into
3½″ long × ¼″ wide fringe.  Push the fringes up and out to form a brim.  Trim (decorate) plastic by running different color rickrack in and out of the plastic fringe.  Glue where necessary.

The kicker is when they say to make a hole in the crown and “insert artificial fruit or flowers”.  Yeah that’s what a Mexican Hat needs to make it a slam dunk—artificial fruit or flowers.  They still haven’t said why this would be considered a gift, and not a white elephant!  I could give you a nice bouquet, or maybe delicious chocolates, but no, I want to give you a homemade Mexican hat.  With friends like me, you do not need enemies.

I promise that this is the last thing you will ever see from this craft pamphlet:

The helicopter on the left is really okay.  I’m more concerned with the right page where they make JEWELRY from detergent bottles.  I cannot imagine how pinchy a bracelet made from a plastic detergent would be, never mind that I have no faith that anyone could make nice rounded edges like that with “pinking shears”.  The earrings rely on the painting skill of the crafter so they’re doomed already.  I just don’t see how any of these things would look like anything a person might wear in the self-conscious 1960s, unless one of your kids made it.  Most moms would coo, “thank you” and place the offering tenderly in their jewelry boxes, never to see the light of day again!  If you got one of these creations from a friend, you might give her some side eye and ask, “Everything okay at home, Darlene?”

I let you think that you were safe from homemade craziness, but here is one from the thrift store:

Now, who wouldn’t want a three foot tall fake bird cage made from fishing line, Styrofoam, fake flowers, lace, and a poor stuffed canary that isn’t going onto the bottom of that cage for love or birdseed!  I’m afraid it was decor for a wedding, but maybe it was just something to spruce up Grandma’s house.  She doesn’t want a real bird because they are loud and messy; this is the perfect replacement.  I’m surprised that no one could figure a way to work a plastic bottle into that mess!

Speaking of birds, I saw this at the back of a BH&G magazine a few months ago:

Who knew that flamingos had that kind of staying power?  I read that they became all the rage in Florida in the 1920s with resort owners.  The Flamingo Hotel in Miami made the connection between the bird and luxury.  Las Vegas made the connection again in the 1940s.  And, here, we thought that they were only for lawn ornaments!

Well, I’m trying to keep Friday a little shorter since we’re putting out two posts a week.  I want to end on a yummy note.  Here’s my sisters’ recipe for rhubarb bread.

Lori and Paula’s Rhubarb Bread

2 eggs
1 c brown sugar, packed
1/2 c sugar
2/3 c vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
2½ c flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 c buttermilk
1½ c diced rhubarb
¾ c walnuts
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp cinnamon

Heat oven to 350°F.  Grease well two 8½″ × 4½″ × 2½″ loaf pans; set aside.

In a bowl beat eggs.  Add brown sugar, ½ c sugar, oil and vanilla; beat well.  Combine flour, salt, and baking soda.  Add in three parts alternately along with buttermilk to egg mixture.  Fold in rhubarb and walnuts.  Pour into prepared pans.  Combine 2 Tbsp sugar and cinnamon—sprinkle over top.  Bake for 55 to 60 minutes.  Let cool 10 minutes.  Remove from pan, cool on racks.

I really don’t care for rhubarb at all, but like this bread.  Sisters make it for B.H. and mail it to him because he has to go outside of the marriage to meet his rhubarb needs. 😉

Stay safe everyone; this thing isn’t over yet!

Posted in Friday Finds | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Boredom Busters #9

Here we are, still churning these out.  Now you know why Deb and I are never bored—missing thrift stores and garage sales, but never bored.  There is always the next flower bed, the next craft, the next book or movie, the next nap, oh wait, maybe those don’t count?

I recently purchased a fun vintage doll collection and found a cute mommy-made outfit in there.  Unfortunately, someone had added buttons and buttonholes at one point and it ended up being a tear in the outfit.  You can see it near the edge in this photo:

I wanted to put snaps back on, but there was no way to sew it to the tear, so I thought I would share my technique for fixing small holes in fabric.  I use this often for doll clothes, but you can use it for other things too.

First off, I checked the fashion and realized it had a pretty large hem, so I opened up the back seam,  and the hem, and was able to carefully snip off a strip of fabric:

Next carefully iron the area you want to fix, laying down the loose threads as much as possible, and keeping it flat with no distortions.  Then cut a small square of your fabric and a matching square of fusible interfacing.  I keep a roll of the strip stuff with my sewing things.  You can, of course, use the larger yardage fusible interfacing too:

Lay the square with the good side facing the same way as the original fabric with the fusible interfacing sandwiched in between, then press according to the interfacing directions.  I had a couple of holes in the fabric, so I did two squares.  This pattern was pretty wild and the holes were small, so I didn’t try to match fabric orientation or pattern, but on larger holes where things will show through more, you should do your best.  Here are the pieces pressed in place:

Then I refolded and stitched the facing, the hem and the back seam, and was able to attach new snaps, to make the outfit good as new, or at least more than good enough to reattach a snap:

If you are going to be washing the repair often, I also recommend darning around it for strength.  If the hole is large and too much of the interfacing will be exposed, you may need to cut around the hole, or you will iron it to your ironing board!

The outfit is cute though. and was worth saving:

So this one is totally doll related, but there is non-doll project coming up, so stick with me.

Does your girl need some pearl earrings to complete her look?  Worried about the dreaded green ear (you should be if you are using original earrings!!!)  Here is a quick easy way to make safe pearl earrings for any doll.

Gather your materials:

Super glue,

Fishing line

Assorted pearls.  I use 2-3 mm ones.  You can also use glass beads

Optional:  Clear wire-filled twist tie from dolls, toys etc.

This is super easy.  Cut lengths of fishing line about one inch long; you can trim them shorter when you are done as it is easier to work with longer ones.  Dab a dot of superglue onto the line and stick on a pearl till the fishing line just comes to the end, don’t let it stick out.  You’re done!  Well, let it dry and cut it to length, but that is about it.  If the doll’s earring hole is small, you may need to use pliers to carefully hold onto the line near the head to push it in.  For FR dolls or a doll with just slightly larger earring holes, use two pieces of line per earring and let a little extra glue hold the two pieces together.  For Barbie, with her big earring holes, carefully run a knife around the outside of the wire twist, only cutting the outer plastic.  Slip the outer plastic off, add a dab of glue on the fishing line, and insert into the tube up to the pearl.

You can safely leave these earrings in for display.  I would be careful with dark-color dyed ones, as I have no idea how fast the dyes are.  For the above example, I would not leave the dark pink beads touching the doll’s face for long, just in case!  You are golden on the white ones.

Up next, a project for you or for a gift.  I don’t know why it is, but I am always tripping over single cuff links.  Perhaps it is because they show up in button boxes a lot, but they do tend to pile up.  For many of the old styles, a single cuff link is still two matching pieces, so why not earrings?

I adore enameled jewelry, so the top row was a no-brainer for me.  I prefer not drilling holes in the piece just so as to do as little damage as possible, but I found the first pair already drilled.  The next two were super simple.  Just superglue two small jump rings to the top edge of the piece, attach a chain and an ear wire and you are done.  You can see I left the button shanks intact as well.  The bottom one is a more common example of the sort of cuff links you find, but these more rounded button styles lend themselves to this type of earring:

The first pair is the above cuff link turned into earrings.  The next two pairs are actual buttons, but the same idea.  Each earring consists of the button, an eye pin with beads strung on it, then made into a top loop and an ear wire attached.  The middle pair uses bead caps glued to the Victorian steel buttons and the last pair has a couple of extra beads attached with head pins.

Just makes you wonder where I could go with these:

Sort assorted cuff links, beads, head pins, eye pins, and ear wires and you can go to town!  Check out your jewelry box, button box and your hubby’s top drawer and see what you can do!

And last up, ’tis the season for this recipe:

Old Fashioned Rhubarb Cake

1/2 cup butter

1  1/4 cup sugar divided

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk (I have substituted regular milk and it is OK)

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups chopped rhubarb

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream the butter and one cup sugar till light and fluffy.  Add egg and beat well.  Combine buttermilk and vanilla and set aside.  Combine flour, baking soda and salt.  Add alternately with milk mixture and still till blended.  Stir in rhubarb.  Spread in a greased 13″ × 9″ × 2″ pan.  Combine remaining sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the batter.  Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes.

This makes a a great springtime desert.  The cinnamon and sugar bake into a crisp crust on the top!

Stay safe, stay busy, and please let us know if you finish any of these projects; we would love to see the results!

Posted in Tutorial, Unexpected Bonus | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Crazy and Not-So-Crazy Craft Patterns Lucky XIII

Lucky for us, but maybe not so lucky for the rest of you!  We see these vintage (mostly) craft books and laugh ourselves sick at the projects themselves and the examples we’ve seen over the years.  Kathy came over in February and showed me a craft book she had found at Who Gives a Scrap?  We laughed at the book, and then I whipped out this baby and it was contest over.  These plastic bottle crafts are the Unholy Grail of bad crafts for us.  Our mascot is but one example.  Poor Ruffles the Ugly Bunny remains the worst thing we have ever seen and that’s saying something!  There have been some contenders, but really, he has a face only a mother, or maker, could love.  How I wish I had bought him when we first started out; he’s made us laugh for more than 10 years.

Does anyone remember the craft store, LeeWards, any more?

LeeWards started in Illinois in 1947 and was purchased by Michaels in the 1990s.  This craft book from 1963 was printed by Graff Publications for a whopping 50 cents, which wasn’t all that cheap.  According to CBS News, gas was 30¢ per gallon, and a loaf of bread cost about 22¢.  An average American made $4400 per year, or $84 per week.  A person had to really want to craft to spend 50¢ on patterns!

The back cover gives you an idea of what else Graff Publications was printing:

I would be interested in seeing the Copper Enameling booklet, and the felt and fabric crafts could be fun.  I’m curious (not in a good way) about the Styrofoam projects, including Christmas Styrofoam.  The Easy Skits for Groups sounds like something we were forced to do in Girl Scouts!  This list has something for everyone to laugh at.

I just had to include the introduction and table of contents:

Just so you know what you’re dealing with, let me quote starting at the second paragraph:

Plastic items are delightful and enduring.  With glue, a pair of sharp scissors and a few odds and ends, you can be on your way to a new, fascinating “scrap-craft” hobby.

Oh my!  I myself might have said, “… a new, fascinating ‘crap-tastic’ hobby” , but potatoes potatahs.

Let’s start out with something that generally makes Kathy and me happy:

Dolls, right?  Not as easy to make from plastic bottles as you might think.  I give them credit that there isn’t an Aunt Jemima copycat, uh … never mind.  I can’t really imagine that a little girl or boy would want to play with one of these scary things instead of Barbie, Chatty Kathy, Penny Brite, or any doll that was available in 1963.  Who on earth gives a child a Turk doll or a Welsh girl doll?  Mom, honestly, Barbies only cost $3 in 1963 and you spent 50¢ and time on this mess!!

I have to say that I really want to make Kathy the Cool Cat on the opposite page.  As any good toy, it starts out as a bleach bottle.  Just add paint, a Styrofoam ball, felt, and toothpick whiskers and what child wouldn’t be delighted?!

I’m thinking that Cool Cat is about a 1000 times better then some of these “toys”:

The toy at the top left is a totem pole, which I played with for hours as a kid!   The weird pink thing next to it is described as a “Buggy Toy” which is filled with beans or stones, decorated with decals, and then … the fun begins?  The racing car might be okay if your tot has never seen a toy car before.  I’m pretty sure that any kid who had encountered a Tonka truck or a metal diecast race car would shove this plastic car to the back of the closet, or maybe smash it with a Tonka Truck.

I’m leaving the most disturbing thing for last.  I’m referring to the “Devil Mask” on the right side of the picture.  What’s more horrifying—the thing itself, or the idea of a child wearing it, terror showing out of the eye holes?  Mommy Dearest should set up a therapy fund immediately after inflicting this on her child.  I cannot even imagine how this craft was designed, approved, and put into the booklet without someone saying, “Really?”.  I was living in the 1963, and none of my friends’ moms would have done this to them; not even for Halloween.

Just a couple more as the thought of that mask is really agitating me:

The two friends on the left are for your desk.  Puppy can hold your pencils, pens, and brushes, while Piglet can hold paper clips, and other “desk supplies”.  You know, they seem almost tame.  I do have a question about why none of the animals seem to be able to keep their tongues on their mouths.  I’m not sure that the piglet is really better than just keeping things in the middle drawer of your desk.  I guess when all you have to work with are plastic bottles, you start to get kind of crazy trying to come up with enough projects.  Maybe that five martini lunch didn’t help either.  I don’t have much to say about Dragg, the Dragon.  Cool beans if it’s your thing.

I have several more to share, but I’ll just save them for later.  I hear my bottle of Bombay Gin calling my name, plus I want to go out with a bang:

Or maybe a fire!  Who thought it would be a good idea to make a real electric lamp out of three bleach bottles?  Not me!!  Besides the fact that it is as ugly as sin, I mean just look at that shade, it’s a hazard.  It’s decorated with gold rickrack, brass fasteners, and gold foil and or sequins—uff da!  I would be worried about putting an outdoor Christmas light bulb or a nightlight bulb in there, never mind a 40 watt bulb.  I wonder if bleach bottles melt before they start burning and releasing chlorine gas all over the house?

B.H. didn’t even look at the lamp; he is full of outrage at Porky Pig on the left page!  Something, something … “quadrapedal, blue, and female”… something, something.  I’m out!

Hope everyone is hanging in there and being safe.  I’m feeling better, really!, now that the weather has improved.  Being outside is therapeutic and makes you feel a part of something again.

Posted in Book Review, Ugliest Thing Ever, Weird Collections | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Boredom Busters #8

Here we are, yet another week of stay at home.  Colorado is in a “Safer at Home” mode which means stay home if you can.  We can, as if you don’t, you are exposed to the maniacs out there who think the whole problem is overblown and are perfectly willing to sneeze on you.  Deb and I were lucky enough to have a nice warm day on Saturday.  I took the summer intern over to mow her lawn, and we sat 6 feet apart on her driveway and got to have a nice long chat in person; it was heaven.  Now, if there were just a thrift store in her driveway!  [Deb here.  What was I thinking?  I have more than enough stuff to fill a couple of medium-sized thrifts!]

A couple posts ago, I did a cute peasant top and promised instructions for the skirt in a future post:

Well, the skirt is super easy for someone who sews, but I though it might be a good idea to give a really basic tutorial on how to make a skirt.  Once you can do this, the world is your oyster for making your doll adorable things.  Heck, you can use the same idea to make yourself a skirt, or size it to any doll you like.

I dug through my stash of vintage linens and found this lovely piece of old lace.  Not sure what it is, but it is just a scrap.  Sure would make a pretty doll skirt, wouldn’t it?

So, let’s see how to do it.  In my case I needed to remove the top bit of lace first.  It was hand stitched, so just a few snips and it was loose:

Decide how full you want the skirt and cut the fabric in a straight line from bottom to top, so you have a rectangle shape.  You can make this same basic shape with any fabric.  Then Fray Check the heck out of that lace, as it is handmade and will ravel easily.  We will be stitching it later, but it is still a good practice for this kind of thing, as it keeps it from raveling on the finished doll skirt as well.

Next take your doll and measure her waist.  Make the tape snug before measuring.  If you don’t have a fabric tape, use a non-stretchy string and measure it on a ruler.  If the skirt needs to go over a top, best to do it with the top on, so you can allow for the fullness of the fabric tucked in:

I add 1/4″ seam allowance on both ends, and 1/4″ overlap for the snap.  For a fashion doll this means you are adding about 1 inch extra.  (For a human, two 5/8″ seam allowances and an inch on each side for overlap for fastening.  You get the idea.)  For the width, double the height you want the waistband and add your seam allowance times two.  Cut the waistband out, Fray Check if needed, and press under the seam allowance on ONE side.  I also press a seam allowance to the inside of the skirt on each end.  See photo:

Next, set your machine on its longest stitch, or do a running stitch by hand, so you can make the gathers in the top edge of the skirt.  If you are not using pre-sewn piece of fabric like I am, you will be doing this on a raw edge.  This one was just finished because of the lace I removed.  It’s also a good idea to hem the bottom edge at this time, if you don’t have a finished edge, like I do here.

Here you can see the turned-under waistband, and the gathered edge of the skirt:

Put right sides of the waistband and skirt together leaving the seam allowance hanging past the end of the skirt, and pin the heck out of it!  The more you gather, the more you need to pin to keep the gathers straight.  Be sure you don’t fold anything under while pinning.  If you catch something wrong when you sew, just unpick that part and resew, it’s usually no big deal, but more pins will help in the first place:

Sew the waistband to the skirt.  Don’t forget to reset your stitches on your machine before you do it.  I always forget to change it after I gather, and have these huge stitches and have to go back over it again!  Trim excess fabric near the seam, and Fray Check yet again.  This eliminates some bulk in the waistband, especially if you are doing a thin waistband.

Fold the right sides of the waistband together and stitch the ends even with the pressed edges of the skirt.  If the waistband is really thin, I do this by hand sometimes:

Turn waistband to the inside of the skirt and hand whip stitch to the skirt.  I frequently stitch right to the seam holding the waistband and skirt together.  Be careful not to let your stitches show on the front.

Pin and stitch the center back seam together leaving an inch to an inch and a half open below the waistband to let the skirt slip over the hips:

Fit and add snaps to waistband.  You can also do a hook and eye if you like.  And here you go; a finished skirt:

If you want to make the tiered skirt in my top example, the tiers are each 2 inches wide.  The bottom one is 14″ long, then 11″, then 9″ then 6″.  Gather each tier and sew it to the next one, just like you did for the waistband, then add the waistband on top.  Super easy skirt.

Honest, this is easy; give it a try!

Want something even easier?  How about a no stitch cow hide rug?

Use this basic pattern and trace it onto some animal print fabric and cut out.  Try to find no fray fabric, or grab your old Fray Check friend.  You can also use felt and make your own cow spots with sharpies.  Try it with woolier fabric for bear;  white for a polar bear, or let your imagination soar.  Don’t need a doll rug?  Scale the drawing to half size, add a backing and make fun coasters.

I made a matching floor pillow just for fun.  The cow print fabric inspired me.

For something fun to watch this week, Deb and I can both recommend Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.  There are 3 seasons on Acorn TV.  There is also a movie and a spinoff series set in the 60’s called Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries.  These are based on a series of books by Kerry Greenwood.  How can you not love heroines named Phryne (pronounced Friony) and Peregrine, plus if you love ’20s and ’60s fashion, there is clothes porn galore in here.  (That is what Deb’s BH calls it when you have to watch a show for the fashion almost more than the plot, although these have great plots and charming characters.)

And last up, an easy recipe.  For those not familiar with these, they are a Mexican desert.  Somewhat like Beignets, but with less powdered sugar.  Traditionally restaurants serve them with a big bottle of honey.

Sopapillas

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon shortening

1/3 cup warm water

Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl.  Cut in flour until well blended.  Add water and stir with a fork till a stiff dough forms.  Knead for 5 minutes till dough is smooth and elastic.  Cover dough and let rest for 1/2 hour.  Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut in 3 inch squares and deep fry in hot oil till golden brown, turning once.  Serve with honey or confectioners sugar, or make the sopapillas bigger and fill with savory taco fillings for a great meal.

Who knew these were that easy to make?  I used to do this all the time.  Think it is time to dust this one off and do it again.

Please continue to stay safe, wear your mask, keep your distance, but stay in touch with loved ones as best you can!

Posted in Boredom Busters, Tutorial | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Animal Crackers

You know, what with trying to be good citizens and staying home, wearing masks, and standing six feet away from someone you would love to hug, it seems just a bit much that there is going to be a polar vortex in the NE portion of the US, there are fires in Florida, and there is a terrible, awful, no good 25–35 mph wind in CO!!  Honestly, it seems we’re going to hell in a handbasket!  A side note about that phrase, “Hell in a Handbasket”; it’s been a thing since the time of the American Civil War (1865).  Who knew?

We were worried about this poor hedgey we saw at a local thrift store:

He’s an unremarkable, super sweet hedgehog figure until you get to his belly.  Is this supposed to be some dire warning about not cleaning out your belly button?  I can remember my mom saying that you could grow potatoes in your belly button (or in your ears, depending on what you skipped during any given bath.) but this seems much more graphic!  Oh, the horror!  What if it’s poison ivy and not potatoes?  There’s a lot to unpack here, but at least I understand why the hedgehog has his hands over his mouth and looks shocked.

Now, this chicken reminded us of the chicken from Moana:

It seems totally unconcerned that it’s in a thrift store, just like Heihei was unconcerned about being on a boat.  It sure looks like a gourd that someone painted and footed.  I’m not sure if that green glass wing thing belongs to Heihei (my vote is no) but if not, what does it belong to?  I’m not sure how the chicken can ignore the being directly next door:

I’m pretty sure that  a chicken would eat a seahorse in real life, but probably not if it were at least twice as tall as said chicken.  That is one fierce seahorse, by the way.  He has an extremely stern expression, like he doesn’t approve of Heihei, or something else within sight.  How did the seahorse make his way up to Colorado?  Any damn way he wanted to from the look of him.  I could see him in someone’s garden in Florida, or Hawaii, if you wanted to scare birds, squirrels, and intruders, but seahorses are kind of thin on the ground around here.

Wow, probably Kathy or I should have bought this:

I can always print it off on card stock just so I can have a laugh now and then.  I just realize that if my sarcasm diet isn’t going to work, what the heck am I going to do now?  Rats, foiled again!

We warned you a couple of weeks ago that our library of pictures is getting distressingly small.  I did a bit of Googling, and found some blog fodder at Amazon/Best Life Online website.  I just wanted a few more animal things.  After looking at the article, I could have included twenty weird animal finds.  Who knew that Amazon was good for more than Mrs. Maisel, impulse shopping while drinking, and hysterical reviews?  Now, it’s going to help us a bit with our post!

Oh dear god; what is this??

Well, silly, it’s the Archie McPhee Handi Squirrel, that’s what it is!  I find it shocking that it has an 89% 5 star rating on 220 reviews.  I have to disagree that it turns your hand into a squirrel.  I’ve never seen a squirrel with a giraffe-like neck and I think that all the paws are exactly the same, just rotated.  I did however, get a laugh from the reviews.  Someone said that Handi Squirrel brought him and his boss closer together!  I’m embarrassed to say that I might have to buy this for a friend.

I think that I have mentioned that a neighbor and I hide gnomes in each other’s yards:

I might have to buy this too, I know!!, and escalate our little game a bit!  Oh the gnomanity!

Lastly, I know that we are all under a bit more stress lately.  Amazon is here to help:

I have never really gotten into squeezing those stress dolls whose eyes pop out when you apply some pressure.  It just seems wrong to take everything out on an innocent toy.  But these little peas are so tiny and cute that even if I were having a terrible day, I would only give little pea a gentle squeeze to get him out of his pod and then I would probably laugh!  Seems like the perfect stress reducer, so maybe it isn’t a crazy Amazon thing after all.

What is wrong with me?  I thought I had picked out some crazy Amazon finds, but I’ll probably end up buying at least two of them.  I’m kind of worried what that says about my shopping deprived life!

Stay safe no matter what corner of the world you inhabit.  We’re making all this up as we go along.  If any of you have photos, send them along and we’ll use them!

Posted in Friday Finds | Tagged , , | 2 Comments