Making a Quick Quote Picture

I use Picmonkey a lot for this blog.  I use it to make all my collages because of the ability to do a little bit of photo editing (like fixing the contrast or brightness when one picture is taken in light that is different from the rest), and the ability to add text to my pictures.  I love that even the free option (which I currently use) is full of features.

Last night I finished reading The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut, and one of the quotes near the end really stuck out to me, so I wanted to make a quick quote picture for it, and I thought you might like to see how simple it is to make!  (Note:  This is just me showing you something I use.  This is NOT a sponsored post.)

Step 1:  Set Up

Step 1

First you need to decide what kind of project you want to do.  Usually I pick “collage,” but for today’s project I picked “design.”  Once you make you choice, the page will open and you can pick the canvas color.  I picked black because I wanted something fairly stark looking.  One of my favorite options is that you can make the canvas transparent.

Step 2:  Add Text

Step 2

Next I typed up my quote.  In order to get to the text options, select the “T” on the let side of the screen.  I chunked it into different parts based on the phrasing, and changed the font for the different parts.  You can type it all up as one text box and change within that, but I prefer to make each chunk its own text box.  This makes it easier to change my font as I go.  I am not really great font mixer, but I like to contrast thin cursive options with chunkier print options.  For this picture I had three fonts because I wanted “love” to be different from everything else.

Step 3:  Embellish

Step 3

Once I was happy with my fonts, I picked the overlay options to add just a little pop of color.  Overlays are the butterfly icon on the left.  I wanted a heart and an arrow and that was it.  I played around with the doodled hearts until I found one I liked.  Then I added the arrow and right clicked on it to send it behind the text and heart.  I considered adding more embellishments, but I decided not to because I wanted the focus to really be the word “love,” and doing more would probably detract from that.

Step 4:  Save

Screenshot (10)

Across the top of your work space are a few options such as merging the layers.  This is also where you select “save.”  Once you decide to save, the left side menu will change so you can name and save.  Once saving is done, you will be back at the work space.  You can work some more after you save, but once you navigate away from the page, your work is lost.  It’s also important to know that the site doesn’t automatically save the progress of your work, so make sure you’re saving as you go, especially on a larger project.

Once you’re done, your image is complete and ready to use.  I did this when I woke up this morning and the entire project, screenshots and all, only took me about 10 minutes (but of course I’ve done this before and knew exactly what I wanted and where to find it).  Do you use any sort of photo editing/designing sites?  What do you like and why do you like it?  I would have never found pickmonkey if a friend hadn’t shown it to me, so I’m always willing to try something new!

Love Quote Vonnegut

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My First Quilt

One of the hobbies I recently picked up was quilting. I enjoy sewing, but have learned that clothing isn’t necessarily my forte (though that might just be because I need more practice).  My great-aunt was an amazing quilter-doing everything by hand.  She had a set number of quilts she would do in a year, and it was always filled as soon as she opened up bookings for the year.  She charged a pretty penny or her creations, and everyone who commissioned one thought it was money well spent.  So I guess it was inevitable that I would eventually give it a try.

ians quilt

Review

I decided on a Craftsy course that taught beginning sewing methods.  When I signed up, the course was free, so it seemed like an excellent way to try quilting without too much investment.  I started with the mug rugs, because I had enough scraps from other projects to not need to purchase fabric.  I probably made about ten different mug rugs before I decided I was ready to try something big.

I know myself, I work better when I have a purpose, so I enlisted my brother as a client.  He gave me colors and helped me pick the fabrics.  It took me forever to complete because it was always a secondary project-something to work on while I was between other projects, but it is finally done.  I can see all the flaws in it, but I also have learned how to fix them or avoid them.

Would I do the course again?  Absolutely.  Not that I need to, but I found it very informative and helpful.  Plus, the “patterns” were super useful, and I can use them again any time I want.  Not all Cratsy courses are the same, so you might feel differently about others, but I really liked this one.  As for quilting?  I’m already practicing small scale in preparation for the next one.

February Darbysmart DIY Box

I am SO BEHIND on these boxes!  I feel like I never get to them until the next one is arriving at my doorstep.  So, here we are, end of March, and I am finally reviewing my February box.  To be fair, though, these boxes ship on the 17th and usually arrive at my door around the 23rd, so it really has been only a month.  Right?  Ugh, I’m trying to justify myself.  So sorry.

February Darbysmart Box

Review

This month I got materials to take a platter like plate and add some stenciling to it.  The box contained the plate, two bottles of paint (turquoise and black), a foam brush, sticky stencils in the alphabet and some flower pattern, and some hot chocolate on a stick.  When I saw the hot chocolate, I was SUPER convinced that this was a food platter of some sort.  But when I went to the DIY directions, I found out it was actually meant to hold jewelry?  Odd.  Though, to be fair, I guess it can be whatever I want it to be.

Personally, I thought the flower and leaf patterns were ugly, so I stuck with the letters.  Since this project isn’t really the sort of thing I would keep, I decided to make it for my mother-in-law.  She had showed me something she wanted to make that was all about family, so I decided to put “friends” and “family” on the long sides of the platter and “fun” on the short sides.

The process was super simple.  Since the stencil letters were stick on, i just arranged them until I was happy with the placement, and then used the foam brush to apply the paint.  Once the paint was on, I removed the stencils and let dry.  I repeated this for each word.  (Dry time was only 3 or so minutes.)  When the brush went outside the stencil area, I used a Q-tip to clean up the errant paint, and that seemed to work pretty well.  Once all the lettering was done, into the oven it went.  30 minutes later I was done.

I think I would have enjoyed this project more if I had gotten the smaller, round dishes that were shown in the directions as those are something I might have kept and used.  I also wish the stencils had been a little more….interesting?  I’m not sure what the right word is here.  I guess I wish they had been more my style.  But, obviously they are someone’s style, so there’s that.

While everything was in the oven, I made my hot chocolate and drank it, thinking about how I now need to buy some bubble wrap so I can ship this to the MIL.  Was I excited about this project?  Not really.  I did like that this definitely felt like my money’s worth of product, though.

A Crafting “Now What?”

Sometimes I see a picture online and I wonder to myself if I can recreate whatever it is that I am seeing.  And that’s what led me to try and make this deer head.  (This isn’t the image I saw, this is the one I made.)

deer

Basically, I traced a deer head onto vellum (I didn’t have any tracing paper).  Then, I cut some colorful magazine pages into strips and glued them onto the vellum, going well over the lines so I would have complete coverage.  Then I flipped the paper over and used the original tracing lines to cut out the deer head.  Once it was cut, I “sealed” it with modge podge.  And then…..what?  No, really, what was there to do?  I loved how it looked, but I had nothing to do with it.  The process was fun, but I had no use for the final product.

Eventually I decided to put it on a canvas that I had painted to look like wood, but that didn’t really work out for me.  Turns out, the vellum I had refused to stick to anything with any of the adhesives I had.  I have stronger stuff now that I think would work, but it literally peeled off the canvas the three times I tried to glue it down.

So, do you have any projects that you have started and didn’t know what to do with them when you finished?  Do you have any suggestions for those of us that have finished projects but nothing to do with them?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

January DIY Darby Box Review

One of my biggest problems when crafting is not wanting to “waste” my materials on anything less than the best.  Somewhere my brain knows this is silly, but I still have difficulty committing.  So, when January’s DIY box came, I kept staring at it, wondering what the perfect design to carve would be.  And that’s why this review is coming so late. I spent so much time thinking and throwing out design ideas, that I didn’t actually finish this until my February box arrived at my door.  That was the final push I needed to do this!

january darby box

Review

So what came in the January box?  It was full of materials to do a linoleum block print on tea towels.  The kit included two tea towels, a foam tray, a paint roller, black ink, a linoleum block (wood backed), and a carving tool set.  I’ve done a little bit of linoleum printing before, but I was super excited about having another crack at it.

It took forever,  but I finally decided on a herringbone design.  I’ve always enjoyed geometric shapes, and thought it would be a good design if I gifted the towels to someone.  Simple and inoffensive.  While I was much more impressed with this kit than December’s, I was a little dismayed when it finally became time to carve.  My block was REALLY hard, like, didn’t want to cut at all hard.  It took a lot of force to make the cuts.  I actually spread them over several passes several hours apart because it was hurting my hands so much.

I think my final project turned out just okay.  It isn’t the perfect final product I always want, but this is also literally the second time I have worked in this medium, so it’s not like I should be too hard on myself for not achieving perfection. I haven’t decided if I will keep or gift these yet, but I am super glad I made them.  I’m also excited to use the stamp again for some other purposes!

Burp Cloths

As I mentioned previously, my niece recently had a baby.  As part of her gift, I made her some baby bibs.  The other part of her gift was burp cloths (coordinated with the bibs of course).  Burp cloths are one of the easiest sewing projects I have ever done.  For them you will need:

  • Soft fabric (I used baby fleece, but terrycloth is another good option)
  • Coordinating thread
  • A sewing machine

Check out the sewing instructions here, or my pin on my Crafts as Gifts board.

Burp Cloths

Review

Burp cloths are a simple and quick project.  I decided to add a little extra interest to mine by adding the stripe in the center of the patterned side.  I also added the iron on appliques, just like I did with the bibs.  In fact, I used the same shapes on the burp cloths as I did with the bibs.

I ended up making a set of four burp cloths, and the entire process took around an hour.  I did it assembly style.  I cut all pieces for all the cloths as once.  I sewed all the stripes together.  I sewed front to back, etc.  This made the entire process very efficient.

I will absolutely make these in the future.  They are quick, simple, and easily to customize.  Besides, my understanding is that one can never have too many burp cloths as they are constantly used and abused.

Sharpie Onsies

I have a small obsession with Sharpies.  For a while there I was buying them all the time and had a huge collection.  Over time I have slowly weeded out the dead ones and stopped myself from impulse buying more, but I always get excited when I see a craft that includes Sharpies in the supply list.  For this you will need:

  • Sharpies
  • Onsies (or other cotton items)
  • Rubbing Alcohol

Check out all the directions here, or my pin on my Crafts as Gifts board.

Sharpie Onsies

Review

I started off on this project ALL WRONG.  In the video she explicitly states that some colors work better than others and it is important to test before you start your project.  So I ended up with some heartache when some of my inks didn’t bleed as well as others.  Basically Each onsie I used had a smattering of colors that did and did not work rendering each one un-giftable.

That said, she is absolutely right that this does work with colors that work.  I couldn’t get any pictures that really showed how well the ones that did work turned out, but that had more to do with my embarrassment over skipping that vital testing step than anything else.

One thing she doesn’t mention, but I think is worth noting is that you will probably get Sharpie all over your fingers while you are doing your initial coloring.  An easy solution to this would be to wear some plastic gloves.  Or don’t.  Just know that dyed fingers is likely to occur.

So while this time it didn’t turn out, I am excited to give it another go.  I also want to test this on paper and see if that has similar effects.  I see a lot of work in my Sharpies’ future!

Vintage Shirt Soak

Somehow I seem to see this pin all the time.  It doesn’t matter what I’m looking for or what areas I am looking in, I seem to come across this pin multiple times a month.  I don’t have any stiff feeling t-shirts, so I’ve always just sort of ignored it.  But then I realized I had some fabric that was stiff, and decided to give it a try.  You will need:

  • Salt
  • Water
  • A Bucket

Seriously-that’s it!  That’s all the ingredients for this soak!  You can check out my pin on my Craft Ideas board.  Unfortunately the link in the pin no longer works, but it doesn’t matter as the pin picture tells you everything you need to know.

vintage shirt soak

Review

Oh my goodness.  Do you have any idea how much half a cup of salt is?  It’s insane!  I rarely use salt, but I still have the good sized Morton container that was mostly full.  I ended up doubling the recipe, and it used nearly all my salt.

The “recipe” is simple enough.  Add a bunch of salt to water, add fabric, let sit, wash and dry.  As you can see, I used several different fabrics.  I wanted to see how the solution worked on a few different stiffnesses.  I don’t know what was on each fabric, but they were all cotton.  Some just felt stiffer than others.  I will say that all but one of the fabrics I tried was thicker than your average t-shirt.

I doubled the recipe because it really only makes enough for one, possibly two t-shirts, and I was trying 4 different pieces of fabric.  I wanted to make sure everything was nice and submerged, so a cup of salt it was.  (Seriously-so.much.salt.)

When I pulled the fabric out of the bucket to wash it, the fabric felt disgusting.  It was coated in salt.  I thought this was a good sign.  I popped it into the washer with some towels but nothing else, just in case things didn’t work out properly.

When I pulled the fabric out of the washer, I was skeptical that the 3 day bath had done anything, but there was still one more step, so into the dryer it all went.  When everything was finally dry, I was eager to see how this experiment turned out.

Verdict?  It did have a noticeable result, but just barely.  The fabric that felt the softest was, of course, the one that was closest to t-shirt thickness.  The others were also softer, but not like the thin one.  And even that just felt somewhat softer.  Perhaps I would have thought it felt much softer if I was wearing it instead of feeling it with my hands.

I did go back with the other fabrics and soak them again (for longer this time-5 days), and I think I got a better result.  Unfortunately I used the same pieces of fabric, so I can’t be sure if they were softer because of a second soak or because of the additional time.  Next time I’ll be a better scientist.

Would I suggest this?  Sure.  I mean, I think it really would work on a t-shirt.  I just wouldn’t get super excited about trying it on anything else.  You’ll probably get some positive results, but don’t dream too big with non-t-shirt fabrics.

Wooden Holiday Decorations

While I saw scoping out Pinterest for my next craft project, I came across several pins from the Etsy store Stick With Me Vinyls.  While looking at the products I was immediately struck with the idea that my mother-in-law would love something like this.  However, I prefer to make things on my own, so I immediately set out to determine a crafting process and see if I could recreate what I saw in the shop.

The products in the shop, first of all, are really well made.  I love the colors and the lettering.  But I could tell that the slick look came from vinyl, and that wasn’t an option for me.  I would need to figure out something different.  After consulting with my husband about the use of some power tools, I had a plan of attack.  If you want to try and recreate your own decorations, here is the process I followed.

Materials

  • 2x 4
  • Acrylic paints
  • Foam brushes
  • Black sharpies
  • Gloss spray sealant
  • Table saw
  • Hand router
  • Orbital Sander
  • Sandpaper

Wooden Decorations

Process

  1. Start by measuring and cutting your wooden blocks.  I used the table saw for this.  I did try a miter saw as well as a Japanese handsaw, but, in the end, the table saw was faster and more precise.  I cut:  two 7 inch block, two 6 inch block, two 5 inch blocks, and one 2.5 inch x 7 inch block.
  2. Sand all the edges of the blocks.  I used the orbital sander for this.  I liked the speed of the hand sander over regular sandpaper.  I didn’t go for a super smooth block since I still wanted a bit of a rustic look.  Mostly I knocked off the roughness as well as the printing on the wood.
  3. Lay out your blocks and decide on a color pattern.  When laying out the blocks, it should go 7-6-5-5-6-7 with the 2.5×7 either resting on top of the two 5 inch blocks or below the two 5 inch blocks.  I picked a rotating set of three colors, with the 2.5 inch block being a fourth color.  I have a listing of all the colors I used at the end of the post.
  4. Paint the blocks.  I painted all the “Give Thanks” blocks, let them dry, then flipped them and painted the “Jingle Bells” blocks.  Once those sides were done, I decided I wanted all the edges to be painted instead of raw as well.
  5. Letter your blocks.  I used black sharpie to make my letters.  I started with a paint pen, but it dried out, and all I had left was sharpie.  I am much better with a pen than a paintbrush, so I stuck with the sharpie.  If you’re better with paint, by all means, paint the letters on.  I just mimicked the letters I saw in the picture.
  6. Rout the edges of the blocks.  I did this because I liked he rounded look.  Also, 2×4 will have at least one edge that is rounded over, and I wanted all the sides to match.
  7. Sand just the corners of each letter-square using a scrap of sandpaper.  I did this mostly for aesthetics.
  8. Wipe down all of the blocks with a wet cloth and let dry.  You don’t want any dust on them when you seal them.
  9. Seal the blocks using a gloss sealant.  I liked the shiny look of the vinyl, so I tried to get a little bit of that using a gloss spray sealant.  I also purchased the weatherproof sealant so my mother-in-law could put the decorations outside if she wanted to.
  10. Once it is all dry, admire your handiwork and mail it off!

wooden final

My products

Give Thanks Colors:  Craftsmart-Orange Spice, Craftsmart-White, Craftsmart-Pure Pumpkin, FolkArt-Bark Brown

Jingle Bells Colors:  Craftsmart-White, Craftsmart-Holiday Red, Craftsmart-Lush Foliage, FolkArt-Metallic Gold

Side Color:  FolkArt-Coffee Latte

Think Spring Colors:  Craftsmart-Green, Craftsmart-Pink Chiffon, Craftsmart-Sage Green, Craftsmart-Robin’s Egg Blue

Summer Lovin’ Colors:  Craftsmart-Coral Reef, Craftsmart-Ocean Breeze, Craftsmart-Turquoise, Craftsmart-Robin’s Egg Blue

Side Color:  Craftsmart-Khaki

Sealant: Varathane Spar Urethane Outdoor Water Based Gloss (Crystal Clear)

Quick and Easy Dog Toy

I have a dog that loves fabric and pulling things apart.  He will pull Kleenex out of the garbage and enjoy ripping it to shreds, throwing the pieces everywhere.  Once, I found him playing with some Velcro on shoes.  He was very gingerly pulling the strips of Velcro apart.  So, when he ramped up this behavior last week, I knew it was time to take some sort of action.

This week’s project I know I saw somewhere, but it wasn’t something I pinned.  It was one of those things you say, “Oh, that’s a cool idea,” and then carry on.  I saw it so long ago, that it was when my first dog, Cobalt, was still alive.  Cobalt was not a rip-things-apart kind of dog, so while the idea was cool, it wasn’t useful to me.  That means, unfortunately, that I do not have any links for you today.  If you know of an original source for this project, let me know, and I’ll link it.

For this project you will need:

  • A dog toy ball with holes in it
  • Scrap fabric
  • Scissors

Dog Toy

Process

  1. Take your scrap fabric and cut it into strips of varying size and length.  I cut more than I needed so I would have some replacement strips when they got lost or just needed to be tossed.
  2. Stuff your strips into the holes in the ball, leaving some sticking out.
  3. That’s it!  Share your improved toy with your furry friend!

Review

This project cost around $10 for the ball toy.  I already had the scrap fabric, so there was no cost in that for me.  Cutting up an old t-shirt would be a way to keep your cost down as well.  I used a variety of fabric types, but that was mostly because that’s what was in my scrap fabric bag.

Right away the dogs had fun with it.  I was surprised to see my other dog have so much fun with it too.  Once all the strips are pulled out, you just stuff them back in.  This morning I’ve re-stuffed the ball three times, which is a lot of play for a lazy greyhound!   I think this project is a success.