Random Craftiness

I have to say I haven’t been doing too much crafting since I moved. The majority of my craft supplies were given away prior to moving, and the rest is mainly in storage in North Carolina. I brought a few small supplies — one pair of knitting needles and some yarn, one box of jewelry findings, my sewing machine/sewing box and two pieces of fabric. That’s basically it. This is probably the one thing I should have made more room for in the car…everything else I can do without, but my craft supplies make me happy. Alas, I was overwhelmed by having an entire room devoted to it when it came time to pack. And I definitely needed to clean out the collection. Over time, I had built up way too many of those things you buy and think, “I am going to use this when I make something at some point.” So here is an update of my craftiness as of late with minimal supplies and a few economical purchases.

Nobody in our apartment building has their own private outdoor seating area because the outdoor area is just one big long hallway with cut-out breezeways like windows. So everyone has created these little spots outside their doors, most of which include a grill if nothing else. I swear, people down here are crazy about their barbecuing. Our outdoor spot used to consist of a bench and a couch with no cushions someone left behind before we moved in. I decided we needed something just a tad bit classier for our classy friends (haha) to visit when smoking. So…decorating while on unemployment is a challenge, but I like to think of myself as the world’s best bargain shopper, so it was a challenge I attacked happily.

A friend of ours just happens to be one of the maintenance guys at our apartment complex. With his help (and a bribe of coffee and pie), we were able to get the ratty couch carted off. Then he told us the apartments have a storage room of furniture they keep when people move and leave it behind, and as the bearer of the key, he offered to trade the couch for a table and some chairs. YAY, free furniture! The table turned out to be in great condition and reminds me of ones we used to have at school — that fake pickled wood that looks surprisingly like real wood. We also got some ubiquitous plastic lawn chairs in good shape, but looking a little dirty and dinged up. One coat of white spray paint, and they look brand new! (Spray paint = $2.98 @ Home Depot)

Next, I went in search of table decoration to offset the lovely black plastic ashtray we have. (Note to self: get a cooler ashtray.) Found cool table runners at Pier One…for a lot more money than what I spent on the place mat you see pictured! SCORE! (Place-mat-turned-table-runner = $4 @ Pier One)

One more cool accessory needed…and I am a sucker for Moroccan themed decor. So I splurged and got this glass lantern at Pier One also. It takes tea candles only, which is sort of annoying, and they are not very easy to get in and out. But it looks super cool glowing at night. I think it’s a nice complement to the conch shell and succulent plant I already had. (Lantern = $8 @ Pier One)

Finally, I was going to make chair cushions, but it turned out to be cheaper for me to buy new ones on sale. This is one of my most favorite shades of green, and they have a nice embossed diamond pattern in the fabric. Matches the table runner perfectly! (Cushions = $16 @ World Market)

And, voila! Outdoor seating for two, for only about $30! (Four, if you include the Depression-era wooden bench, with paint-splattered red vinyl seat that I inherited from my grandparents, which also sits outside. One of my most-prized possessions!)

I’ve also made and donated three baby blankets to an organization that formed in the wake of the devastating tornadoes we had recently here in Alabama. We are fortunate to live about three hours away from the area hardest hit, and although there was still a small tornado that caused some damage in our county, it was not nearly the ruined mess here that you’ve seen on the news. This group was formed by a friend of a friend, and they are having people donate handmade baby blankets and things to babies who were orphaned by the tornadoes, moms-to-be-soon, and new moms who may have lost anything “special” that was being saved for their babies. It’s supposed to provide a special heirloom, with meaning and significance — a keepsake.

I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on fabric and notions, so I used one of my favorite fabric-hunting tricks and hit up the closest Goodwill’s linens section. You can almost always find decent, usable fabric there in large pieces and other forms (blankets, curtains, etc.). It’s perfectly fine for cutting up and sewing with after a washing. I ended up buying a couple of blankets, a crib sheet, and a set of curtains, and this was enough for four blankets, although I only made three. I did buy the satin ribbon for binding at Walmart, but it was only about $3 per roll, and I only needed one roll per blanket. When I was little, my blankie had satin ribbon binding, and to this day when I feel it, I remember laying in my crib and being calm and relaxed. So, I included that in all of my blankets.

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Crafty Love! Guitar Stuff

As y’all have probably noticed, I’ve been playing a whole lot of guitar lately. I kinda go through phases with it and play nonstop for weeks, but then I burn myself out and have to stop because my fingers are blistery and in so much pain I just can’t play anymore. I really enjoy playing an instrument that I can actually use to entertain my friends and make them laugh and smile, as opposed to the classical violin and piano I played growing up. I’m just not interested in the seriousness of that anymore. There were a lot of reasons I stopped playing those instruments…I don’t have a piano anymore…I got burned out after playing violin every day for 17 years…I wanted to learn something new…I was sick of being defined as “the girl who plays violin”…I wanted to be able to play popular music and sing and try to have a voice people might actually enjoy listening to that doesn’t sound like a 13-year-old in the church choir.

Nowadays if I play violin, I mainly play Old Time Appalachian tunes that remind me of songs my great-grandpa Phin learned growing up in the mountains of North Carolina and used to sing to me when I was little. I would lay in the floor on my back in front of where he sat on the couch, and put my knees on my forehead and my feet on his knees. He would sing, “Shady grove, my little love, shady grove I say…shady grove, my little love, I’m bound to go away.” And then he would push my feet towards the TV and flip my legs back over. It was the greatest game, and he had to sing that first verse of “Shady Grove” every time before he flipped me — it was required.

Check out this cool  guitar stuff on Etsy!

5×7 Fine Art Print, Las Guitarras
$9 by Zuppaartista

Recycled Guitar String Pendants
$26 by Plucking Pendants

Handmade Picks in rosewood, ebony, bone, and horn
$29.95 by Brossard Picks
*Disclaimer: I gave my dad these picks for Christmas last year, and he loved them. He actually gave one to a covetous picking buddy, whose response was, “Gee, at least I got one thing I wanted for Christmas this year!”

Acoustic Guitar Pick-Up
$35 by Mojohound Music

Personalized Note Cards
$18 by Dean Penn and Paper

Crafty Update: New Curtains!

I have been trying to make some curtains for my craft room for a while now and finally finished them today! I’m really happy to have them because A) I’m content with how they look, and B) I desperately needed some privacy because my next door neighbor’s house is like thisclose to mine, and I don’t enjoy feeling like people can see in at all. Even though I never can see in their windows and go out of my way to avoid looking over there in case their blinds are open and I might be able to see something. But you never know if other people are that considerate.

Anyways, the curtains, like most things I make, were a complete rig job. However, I was happy that when I told my sewing teacher that was my typical modus operandi, she said, “Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that! Whatever gets the job done!” The reason I am taking a sewing class in the first place is to learn how to do things “properly” instead of rigging everything. But my sewing machine is currently on the fritz, and I’m doing everything by hand. I have a replacement part, but I can’t figure out how to install it. Handy people, please help! Plus, I’m always using random materials I have collected in my projects, so there is usually a bit of fudging required.

For some reason, I collect scarves, but I don’t really wear them. Well, I wear warm scarves in the winter, but not flimsy frou-frou scarves. I just always find cool ones at thrift stores with awesome retro graphics or fabrics, and I think (like everything), “I will totally make something with that sometime.” For once, I actually fished one out of my scrap drawer and used it as a sash for my curtains. I also used some old thrift store vintage buttons on the sash corners, which hold the curtains back when I want to let more light in. Attached to the back of the buttons are gold earring hooks (I am resourceful like that) which hook into some picture hanging eyes I screwed into the window frame. The fabric is a fairly inexpensive natural-colored cotton I got at Hancock a long time ago that is called “linen look.” I’ve used it in many projects and just happened to have a little left.

When the curtains are closed, the earring hooks hang on a piece of the inside window frame so you can still see the buttons, but they still stay closed. I’m not real crazy about the pink buttons, but I didn’t have any other ones that were the same size, and I do think the color stands out more than my other choices, which were mainly light-colored shell and wood. They kinda go with the colorful 60s graphic of the scarf/sash.

So now I have cute curtains on at least one window in my house (I have about 3 more to go), and my neighbors can’t look in. Yay! If anyone wants instructions or help making some similar, I am more than willing to offer my rigging assistance. 🙂 Now if I could just figure out how to make bedroom window coverings that are cute AND function as black-out curtains. Right now, the black out part is working like a charm, but they’re super ugly. Any suggestions?

Crafty Love! India

Last weekend I finally finished unpacking my house and got my craft/sewing room all organized. And I realized that my bedroom is in need of some serious decorating help. It’s pretty much the one room in my house with zero personality because I was more concerned with blocking all light from the windows so I could sleep than making pretty curtains or hanging art or anything. I’ve always wanted to have either a Moroccan- or Indian-themed bedroom — I even have a book on Indian decorating elements. Actually I wouldn’t mind if my whole house was decorated in that fashion. But right now it’s my bedroom that needs it the worst. So I am going to start there. I started looking for things on Etsy, but of course I found other cool things besides just home decor, so I had to share them all. I need about five more jobs!

Traditional Mehndi design hurricane candle holder
$55 by All About Henna

Guitar Strap Woven with Recycled Sari Silk and Cotton
$40 by A Spinner Weaver

Aqua-Lime Brocade Stripe Cushion
$20.50 by Behirah

Bohemian Sunset Earrings with Carnelian and Caribbean Blue Chalcedony
$29 by The Stella Blue Gallery

Elephant Parade Matted Print
$12 by Signet Studio