Halloween is my husband’s favorite holiday, so every year I try to add at least one crafty item to our decorations for him. Since he’s home more now, this year we were able to work together, and the result was three spooky cool projects…
Spider Web Halloween Countdown Calendar
While we have several candy holding countdown calendars around here (including this Count Von Count one I posted about earlier this year,) as we get older and, well, rounder, I’ve started looking for non-food options 😀 Which is why we decided to recreate a countdown calendar I originally saw on Pinterest ~ each day you add a toy spider to the web. No additional calories at all!
We scoured thrift stores for the perfect gothic frame, which he cleaned and painted while I sourced and attached the numbers, web and spiders.
I’m showing a picture from earlier this month with just a few spiders, but as October goes on the weight of those cheap plastic arachnids is really stretching the web! We’ll need to solve that problem for next year.
Haunted Dollhouse Mansion
This is project that took the longest – we’d actually been biking to garage sales for over a year, hoping to find a dollhouse available for cheap. (Once, after seeing a dollhouse stored in an open garage during a ride, I almost knocked on the door to see if they’d sell it! I couldn’t go through with it, but that I even thought about doing something so brazen should tell you how determined I was to create a haunted dollhouse this year.)
We ended up lucking on this Calico Critters Cloverleaf Mansion at a thrift store one afternoon back in July – lots of missing pieces as you can see! I tried eBay for doors and porch, but they either weren’t available or people wanted exorbitant prices. So we made the missing parts ourselves…
Here it is glowing at night –
and a close up so the purple of the lights shows a bit better –
A LOT of work went into finishing this project, but I thought I’d just call out a few things if you are thinking about making one yourself.
One, Blick Art Materials (used to be called Dick Blick) has an AMAZING supply of spray paint in shades you just can’t find at the local hardware store. The main gray for the body of the dollhouse came from there – 3 cans! (This is a really big dollhouse :D)
Two, we tried several different ways to get the silhouettes in the windows, but what worked best was transparent overhead projector sheets. Given the ubiquity of PowerPoint these days, I hadn’t thought about overhead projectors in years, but going old school did the trick. (The silhouettes themselves are free printables created by Dave Lowe. He’s an illustrator as well as a set and prop designer and I’m combing the archive on his blog for other amazing Halloween decor ideas. Stay tuned!)
Three, there’s black foam core on the backside, trimmed to fit. Partly to clean it up, but also because the purple lights in the windows shine brighter with it there. The lights are just mini LEDs you can get almost anywhere, but ours came with remotes which makes turning the lights on and off so much easier than removing the foam core back ever day.
Cat Eye Chair Covers
Since these were sewing/embroidery, this was a project I did alone ~ but my husband did make it easier by being gone on a solo bike ride while I was working 😀
(The TRICK / TREAT quilted pillows are from 2013! Sometimes when I look up stuff like this to post, I can’t believe how long ago I made them; feels like just yesterday.)
Doing these Halloween projects together was a lot of fun and there’s plans for a (my favorite holiday) Christmas craft or two that take advantage of both our skill sets, as well. But time’s sure passing quickly ~ maybe we should add working together to build a time machine to our to-do list!
Have you ever have one of those projects that you just can’t make work no matter how hard you try? Welcome to my latest disaster…
Although I was originally on a wait list, I ended up getting a Funko Harry Potter Advent calendar when they were released last year. It was a lot of fun opening the doors each day during December. But, while the Pops themselves were nice quality, I worried that the cardboard box they came in would not hold up long term and I started looking for a different option.
Ultimately, I purchased a wooden Advent calendar that looked like a book ~ perfect for Harry Potter, am I right? ~ back in January and have been working to update it off and on for about nine months now.
I HATE it.
The paint is both too thick AND too thin (don’t ask me how).
The pearls look so cheesy.
And the hinges don’t line up.
I thought I found the ideal numbering system in the wax seals, but they aren’t coming across like I’d hoped.
The interior picture keeps coming loose in spots.
And to top it all off, the drawers themselves aren’t large enough to hold some of the Pops!
I’ve finally decided to give up.
I’m just tired of looking at it and fussing over it. I’m tired of spending money on it and I’m really tired of spending time on it.
So, for now, it’s off my to-do list. In a few months, I might come back to it… or I might throw it out.
It’s always disappointing when an idea in your head doesn’t come together like you hope. But, as much as I’d like to be, makers aren’t magicians. Sometimes, a project just fails.
It’s been a couple of weeks since The Crafty Crusader and I exchanged items as part of our International Feminist Craft Swap ~ I quilted her a Serena Williams pillow sham and she knitted me a miniature pussy hat for my Feminist Funko Pop Collection. I’ve spent the last few weeks customizing a Pop to wear the hat and she’s finally finished!
Though I don’t watch Marvel’s Runaways, I started with a Karolina Dean vinyl figure because of the placement of her hands. I suspect she’s supposed to look like she’s casting a spell (?) but for my purposes, they were perfect for holding a protest sign!
Also, I liked that she was young, because I’m very impressed by the next generation of female activists like Emma Gonzalez, Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg. Having nearly reached my 5th decade on this planet, I’m really rooting for these younger women to fix what my generation has (tried and) failed to!
Unfortunately, it turned out that the Dean figure was a bobble head. Because Funkos are newer on the toy doll scene, some other company already has the “non-bobble” vinyl figure license from Marvel, so Funko’s agreement with them states all Marvel Pops have to have bobble heads (who knew small doll heads were such a big deal?)
Anyhow… that means the first thing I had to do to customize my pussy hat Funko was remove the bobble. I researched a few different ways online, but ended up going with my initial idea of a balsa wood connector for her head to rest on. While I couldn’t match the skin color precisely, I don’t think people will be able to tell once she’s on display.
Then it was time for the fun part!
I decided that my Pop was a activist from a long line of activists and wanted to honor those who had come before her. Early 20th century suffragists wore green, purple and white, so I customized her hair to ‘suffragette city’ green, her pants to ‘votes for women’ purple and her tank top to ‘a woman’s place is in the House – and the Senate’ white! I also managed ~ and I honestly didn’t know my hands were this steady ~ to paint VOTE on her shirt with the “O” as the female gender symbol. (Check out her teeny tiny green shoe laces, too!)
Now when she wears her pink pussy hat, it’s like she’s linking the historic women’s movement with the movement of today – plus, that pink yarn really pops with her green hair!
I have also made a series of little protest signs for her to hold. Most of these sayings I got off the internet, looking through pictures from various rallies. I’ve decided I’ll change her sign depending on what administration action offends me most that day. Sadly, as you can see, there are a LOT of signs!
(ETA: These were all made before impeachment proceedings started in Congress. Looks like I need to get my markers back out…)
All this time, I’ve been referring to this as my “pussy hat Funko” or my “Women’s March Funko”. But the more I got into it, the more I felt she needed an actual name. Given the state of world today, Hillary or Elizabeth were strong contenders; Ruth would have been great, too. But ultimately, I settled on Marcia.
My pre-quilting career in public administration started in a small suburban Kansas community called Leawood. Originally hired as an intern, I moved into a special projects role with an emphasis on economic development that worked closely with city’s elected mayor, Marcia Rinehart. This was the first time in my life that I truly realized that a woman could be in a position of power (sadly, I was in my mid 20s at this point.)
Mayor Rinehart was an amazing woman. She was confident and assertive, even forceful when needed ~ city council meetings she chaired never got out of hand no matter what the topic! Yet she was also easy to relate to and really cared about her community and what the residents** needed. Mayor Rinehart was re-elected several times between 1987 and 1997, and when she retired, she’d been Leawood’s longest serving mayor to date.
Leawood was a pretty conservative area, so there’s a chance that Mayor Rinehart might not appreciate having a pussy hat-wearing, feminist Funko named after her. But she was a powerful woman with a powerful influence on me and I hope she’d realize that I truly mean it as an honor.
**Funny aside – Mayor Rinehart is also the person who taught me that people who live in a city are properly called residents, not citizens; you can only be a citizen of a country! 20 years schooling, including a political science undergrad and a public administration graduate degree, never taught me THAT distinction.
All my thanks again to Monique at The Crafty Crusader for knitting the pussy hat that really brings Marcia to life!
I’ve been thinking of adding some new shirts to my wardrobe. Since I work from home, I don’t need anything fancy, so I figured I’d make a few cute quilting-themed designs and have them custom printed.
As is my normal practice, I started a Pinterest board to save some ideas to. One of the first things I saw was clipart that read “Sewciopath”. Bingo! 😀
I wanted to put my own twist on it, though. While mulling ideas, I remember a classic quote from the much-missed Sherlock series on BBC. In the pilot, after Anderson tries to needle Holmes by calling him a psychopath, Sherlock responds, “I’m not a psychopath, Anderson. I’m a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research!”
This is beginning to gel.
My plan was to do just text, but I was already on the Internet, so why not click through some Sherlock-inspired images? As is the way of the web, before long my feed was full of cute chibi Sherlocks. One in particular I’m looking at*, and looking at, and looking at… and I suddenly realize it resembles Sunbonnet Sue!
For those who don’t know, Sunbonnet Sue is an image of a little girl wearing a poofy dress and an oversized bonnet. She’s been a common feature of appliqué quilts since the early 20th century. Over time, though, quilters have created different versions of Sue, giving her personality and showing her involved in a number of different activities.**
With a few modifications, the chibi detective’s head on a sunbonnet Sue body became perfect sewing / Sherlock mash-up ~
And now she’s a consulting quilter. The only one in the world.
A local Big Frog store is doing the custom printing – Tim was extremely helpful in choosing the perfect fabric and fit and the finished shirt should be here in about 2 weeks. I feel nearly the same anticipation I did waiting the long months (ahem… years) between Sherlock seasons!
*I tried to click through on the image from Google search, but it didn’t link to anything so I can’t give the original artist any credit. Thank you unknown Sherlock fan / chibi illustrator for the inspiration!
**Perhaps the most famous of the Sunbonnet Sue activity quilts was created by quilters in my hometown (shout out Lawrence, Kansas!) in 1979. It’s called “The Sun Sets on Sunbonnet Sue” and shows the perky little girl perishing in a number of hilarious ways. Maybe a bored British detective could solve her multiple murders? The game is afoot!
A little background first… I’m a collector. Part of it is in my genes (I come from a long line of hoarders) but part of it is also necessary – what kind of quilter would I be without a stash?
Outside of fabric, one of my favorite current collections is Funko Pops. In an effort to reign in my natural instinct to overdo, I’ve limited myself to only female Pops. I call it my Feminist Funko Collection ~
A couple of months ago I started thinking what my collection needed was an actual feminist Funko, a pussy hat wearing representative of the Women’s March movement. Looking around online, I came across Monique over at The Crafty Crusader. She had knitted the perfect pussy hat accessory for one of her Pops and even provided directions!
Unfortunately, my knitting days are long past. I think I last picked up knitting needles as a teen, so we’re talking decades of skill loss. On a whim, I contacted her to see if she’d be willing to knit me one, too. A few conversations later and we’d created our own International Feminist Craft Swap – a miniature pussy hat for me, a Serena Williams quilted pillow sham for her.
ISN’T THE HAT AWESOME?!? I’m hoping to customize this Pop a bit before she goes into the permanent collection – change her hair color, add a feminist symbol to her shirt, maybe pull in some additional suffragette imagery – but the knitted pussy hat is EXACTLY what I hoped for. (True story – when Monique went to look for hat yarn, she found a skein actually called “Pussy Hat” in her stash. It was meant to be!)
Monique seems happy with her quilted pillow sham, too. She shared that Serena Williams is her favorite feminist icon; I agree she’s totally amazing, but I don’t watch a lot of tennis. So I went looking for inspiration online and found this image of Serena’s face by RGB_Rao – their work is stunning and just called out to be recreated in fabric.
I chose solid fabrics to complement the modern, stylized image and created the sham using a mixture of reverse appliqué, machine embroidery and classic grid quilting. This was my first attempt at reverse appliqué and I really hope I did the original artist proud.
This craft swap was so much fun – and it was my first craft swap ever, too! I mean, I’ve exchanged gifts with friends who craft before, but this was an actual, official, quid-pro-quo. I got to give a really cool pillow, with a design that I normally wouldn’t have thought of doing, and, in return, I received a really cool knitted hat that I couldn’t have made myself. It’s like the best of both worlds!
I’d totally be willing to do one again, so if you are a crafter or craftivist looking for someone to swap ideas and inspiration with, let’s hook up – contact me at deidre [@] whimziequiltz.com anytime!
A person cannot quilt 24/7/365. At the very least, I need to stop to eat and – briefly – sleep. And, I’ll admit it, I sometimes get a thrill out of cheating on my quilts with other crafts. I call them WINQ projects, or things to do When I‘m Not Quilting.
While Funko’s motto may be “Everyone is a fan of something,” if you aren’t a Marvel or a Stranger Things fan, your fandom has a large chance of being ignored by the vinyl doll maker (don’t get me started on their dearth of female athletes!) So, in addition to creating a Funko Me, I’ve started making custom Pops to fill in the blanks.
I LOVE Gregory Maguire’s idea behind telling the “true” story of the Wicked Witch of the West, but I’ll tell you a secret – I’ve tried four times to read Wicked and have never made it past the first page. (My favorite author is Robert B. Parker. If you’ve read any the spare dialogue / minimal descriptions from his Spenser series, you’ll probably understand why I find Maguire’s prose just too dense.)
Like I said, though, I love the idea, so I wanted to try my hand at the very popular Elphaba Funko Pop, too…
I chose an Elsa Pop as the base. Not the most original idea, as most of the other custom Elphaba versions I’ve seen online are Elsa Pops, too, but why reinvent the wheel?
Her hair, skin and clothing were all painted with watered-down craft paint (an innovation I read about over on I Like Comics Too that has literally changed my life! I can’t believe how much smoother the paint goes on.) I had to cut a large brush down to about 5 bristles to paint around her hands and feet – and to about 3 bristles for the details on her eyebrows and lashes!
This was my first attempt to create Funko accessories with modeling clay. I know the witch hat isn’t perfect; still, for using nothing but my hands (I didn’t want to purchase a lot of expensive tools) I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.
Since I’ve never read the book, I don’t know if Elphaba actually has a black cat, but I do. And while I thought about purchasing a Funko cat to customize as her familiar, there was modeling clay left over after I made the hat and, well, waste not, want not.
Can’t wait to add this Wicked new Funko to my collection. I’ve got more custom Pops in mind that I hope to get to soon, so keep your eye out here for upcoming When I‘m Not Quilting projects!
Quilting is my life, of course, but I do a lot of other crafty things on the side. Reupholstering this chair, though, may be the biggest DIY challenge I’ve ever taken on —
We’ve had this chair for years, bought at one of those fake “going-out-of-business” sales that furniture stores were so into in the 1990s. We’d actually gone to the store just to look around, but this sleeper chair (it has a pull out mattress inside!) was on deep discount.
Turns out, the sleeper chair was a great buy in more ways than one – not long after, my husband had surgery that required a long period of recovery. He spent much of that time on the chair’s mattress with our kitty cat snuggled up beside him.
So, while the chair started looking ratty because the fabric faded, it was structurally sound and we knew it could still be useful. Instead of donating it, we decided to reupholster.
It took about a week to remove the blue fabric, which had been stapled on pretty well. We didn’t want to rip it off, because the fabric was going to be our pattern, so it was extra slow going.
Once we had the “pattern” pieces, it was another 10 days to cut them and reattach. Probably wouldn’t have taken that long if I hadn’t had to remove and redo each section an average of 2 times – hey, it was my first time. There was some learning involved.
Still, I’m completely blown away with how it turned out in the end. From a few feet away, you can’t tell an amateur did it. And even up close, the flaws are fewer than I expected.
That’s not to say I ever want to do something like this again, though! Instead, I’m just going to sit back in our beautiful, new green chair and bask in the glow of actually having reupholstered a chair.