Tuesday, December 11, 2012

2012 MBU Review

All right Kiddos, I decided to wander over to the dark side and soak up what Pinterest has to offer.  I will admit, it is a really fun site to hang out on and see what is popular.  Sort of feels like being invited to hang out with the cool kids at lunch.  But eventually I realized the cool kids aren't all that original, just like in high school.  Now this is not Pinterest's fault, they have created an awesome site that is fun to use and a great way for me to break up my day and find some inspiration.

On the DIY & Craft page in particular, I think I ran into a snag that a lot of people have.  This is finding  a "pin" they think is cool with a link to nothing, no instructions, or not the original blog post.  But worst of all is when you have discovered the craft Holy Grail, so to speak, and you give it a whirl and it fails miserably.  There are sites devoted to the Pinterest Fail, and they are hilarious.  I can't speak for their content but from what I've gathered if you think that you have discovered a DIY that is too good to be true, it probably is and you might be able to fact check on one of these "fail" sites.  Some of them include revised instructions that give people like you and me a chance to get it right.

I few other aspects of the DIY category that were a let down went as follows:

  1. Not as many original "Pins"as I had hoped - Often the "Pins" are just repeats of what you've seen just a day ago.
  2. Not actually a DIY or a Craft - For example, a "pin" for DIY sugar cookies is just a misuse of the term DIY.  It is called BAKING people and it belongs in the Food and Drink category not DIY.  It wasn't long ago that people cringed at the thought of store bought baked goods, because they had made their grandmother's coveted recipe and it was darn good.  DIY food - HA!
  3. I think the biggest let down for me is seeing what most people see as or consider Crafting to be.  According to my computer's dictionary Crafting is defined as - an activity involving skill in making things by hand. - a skilled activity or profession - or the members of a skilled profession.  I agree with this definition.  I am not skilled at the craft of quilt making, I stand back in awe of those who do posses this craft.  I understand the work involved even though I can't do it and because of this understanding I respect the price tag that goes along with a well made quilt.  I will not grab a rotary cutter and a glue gun and create a "Faux Quilt Wall Hanging" with said tools.  I am disappointed in those who promote these sorts of short cuts and "crafts".  It truly undermines our community.
Now all that being said, if you are still with me there are some really cool crafts I did find on Pinterest and I do plan to make them in the future and I will include those happenings here. I have tried to include links back to the post that I found to be the most helpful.

  1. An awesome DIY rug or mat is this one  on a blog titled Sara Wandering.  I like that she includes clear instructions and materials, as well as an update on how well the mats have held up, something I really like.  The last thing I want to do is go through  the creative process only to have it fall apart quickly.
  2. One of my favorites is a cute package for a small gift or treat.  It is paper strung together so that when tied up it makes a pear.  It took some time to find a blog post in English but I found one and here it is, a Favor Floret.
  3. Everyone on Pinterest seems to be gluing candlesticks and plates together for various uses.  I like this particular use I found to brighten up the kitchen sink.  Most of the "pins" look a bit cheap and thrown together.  But this one at JoshuaTrent.com looks sturdy and intentional, and in my opinion the best DIY cake stand yet.  I can't wait to make one for my kitchen
  4. The last one I want to include is a tutorial for "shrinkies".  I think they are a really fun activity for kids but I realize the store kits probably get pricey.  This tutorial by rustsunshine is awesome.  It is a recycled material and has great pics.  If the drawings stay on and don't scratch off then I'm sold.  
Now I have a few tips for those of you who gleam lots of inspiration from the marvelous site that is Pinterest,

  • Find the original post if you can.  Just like a game of "telephone" key components can get lost when a tutorial is posted and reposed again.
  • Evaluate the materials list.  Consider what you have used in the past and ask yourself if the material will actually perform like the blogger claims.  Maybe you have more experience with it than they do and know that their craft will fail in "10, 9, 8, 7 ............" You get the idea.
  • Photos, my husband loves to say "look at the picture! No Close ups!"  A smart blogger is going to take the best photo they can.  It is a lot of work to craft for a blog.  So if it doesn't come out exactly as planned they might dig deep in their bag of tricks for a great photo that hides some flaws.  I don't necessarily agree with this but I can see why they might do it.  Trust me if I screw it up, I'll let you know.
  • I guess my last tip is Think Long Term.  Ask yourself if it can be washed, played with by a two year old, and used again and again.  If it can't then maybe you want to move on to a different tutorial.  Use your first discovery as inspiration to find the best out there.  Don't waste time and materials on something that won't last more than a minute.
I really have enjoyed this year of crafting, and I know that I will continue to enjoy crafting for life.  I close out this post by saying THANKS! To Pinterest for giving us so much enjoyment, information, tutorials, and inspiration.  I wasn't a fan a year ago, but I am fan now.  Craft on!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Needlepoint part Three

Okay now that we all have mastered the Basket Weave Stitch, we can move on to creating a pattern for our baskets.  There are a few things I like to consider when I make anything and making a basket will be no different.  There are two main design concepts that are important to consider when designing anything and they are FORM & FUNCTION.
One of the first things I like to consider is, how will this item, and in our case this basket, be used?  Function - My sister will be using it on top of her refrigerator to hold bread and chips.  So it can be larger in size and since bread and chips are light then it doesn't necessarily need to be super duper sturdy.
Evaluating how an item will be used and thinking of it's use day in and day out will allow you to choose the right materials.  Choosing light weight materials for a heavy duty purpose will lead to an item that just doesn't last.  Choosing heavy duty materials when it's function is lighter weight will result in a loss of form - to bulky.  In the end you have wasted materials. Wasted materials means more money spent, and one of the main reasons we all DIY is to save a little cash? Right?
So now that we have evaluated the basket's function, let's talk form.  Form can be described as the visible shape or configuration of something.  If we look back at the function then form is basically decided for us.  It will be used on top of a refrigerator - rectangular, and will hold light, but bulky items (chips and bread).  So we will have a rectangular basket that can be made from lighter weight materials, like Plastic Canvas, needlepointed with knitting yarn.
Now you know how and why I chose the materials and shape I did for the basket so you can decide what  suits your needs best.
As far as a pattern, I chose to alternate panels of basket weave, forwards and backwards. I did this because as I mentioned in part 2, I think it is just as beautiful either way.  The colors I chose because they match my sister's kitchen.  When I lay out a pattern mostly I rely on math.  I measure and divide evenly, and honestly do it again and again until I am pleased with the outcome.  I have no shortcuts to offer you in this matter.  I believe I come up with pleasing patterns and designs but it comes from hard work and sometimes starting over, and over.  It doesn't pour out of me. It is because of this that I understand why needlepoint kits in particular are a bit pricey.  Not only are the materials sometimes expensive, but who ever designed them worked hard to make them the way they are.
Once your pattern is laid out how you want it, then you can begin needlepointing your panels.  In my case I have 5 panels to work with. One for each side and a bottom.  Once your panels are complete, you can simply whip stitch them together.  Then your basket is done.
Now, if I am an honest blogger, I have to admit my basket isn't complete yet.  So I have included today photos of mine in progress, to demonstrate the joining of my panels.  When it is done I will update with more photos, but with our Week in Needlepoint coming to a close, I wanted to wrap things up as best as I could.  I know it was a lot of information, but thanks for sticking with me and good luck with your basket.
View from the corner

view looking up through the bottom

view of the corner, from the inside

view of the corner, from the outside

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Needlepoint part two

Okay, I know that after yesterday's compelling post on needlepoint,  all of my wonderful readers are just dying to know how to continue with needlepoint.  Well today I will share with you the basket weave stitch.  I have read that it is the "Holy Grail" of needlepoint stitches because of it's simplicity, canvas coverage, and ability to reenforce the canvas as well as not warp the canvas.  For the purpose of our basket project it is one of three stitches that will be used to complete the basket.  The other two stitches names are the whip stitch and the tent stitch.  The basket weave stitch will cover 90% of our project so let's get to work.

Materials needed
As I mentioned yesterday the materials you will need are worsted weight yarn, plastic canvas, a tapestry needle and a pair of scissors.

But before you start cutting canvas an marking patterns let's practice the basket weave stitch.  Remember in part one, I mentioned that needlepoint is a craft that takes a lot of time.  It is also a craft that if you foul up, you can't really just cover it up.  You HAVE TO TAKE OUT ALL OF THE MISSED STITCHES.  If you are like me then there is a good possibility you don't see your mistake until you have filled in 4 rows and going back is just as daunting as starting over.  Don't let me scare you - this is fun - I PROMISE!  Let's just start as we mean to go along.

The Basket Weave Stitch

  • Cut a length of yarn no longer than your arm.  
Now I know it is tempting to cut a longer piece of yarn; but there are reasons to using a shorter length of yarn.  As you pull through the canvas again and again your yarn will "whittle" down if you will.  If you cut 6' of yarn to work with not only will it get tangled but your stitches will look smaller by the time you are at the end of your piece of yarn in comparison to the beginning.  So - a short length of yarn.

  • Thread your tapestry needle 
If you don't have a tapestry needle and you are considering using a regular sewing needle I beg of you to get a tapestry needle. You lower the risk of piercing through threads and the canvas with a tapestry needle, not to mention you won't poke your fingers with a tapestry needle.  Also no doubling your yarn, your work will look crowded.

up from the back down from the front
  • Your first stitch will come UP from the back of your canvas and down through the hole that is immediately below, and diagonal. 

working the 2nd & 3rd stitch

completed second row
  • Your second and third stitches will be to the right and one row down, moving towards the left.

  • Your 3rd row will be the same but with 3 stitches and moving left to right

Row 3 worked in green for contrast

Row 4
  • Row 4 down and left to right 
You will just continue working the canvas this way until the area is filled. Eventually your space will look like this:
Large section filled with basket weave stitch.

That is the basket weave stitch.  Simple yet elegant.  There are a few sites that may be able to explain the process better than me.  Check out the American Needlepoint Guild site.  There is lots of info there. My favorite find on that site is a needlepoint stitch used in Bargello needlepoint.  It is called the round bargello stitch.  I think it looks like a flower.  I can't wait to incorporate it in a sampler.

Enjoy practicing the basket weave stitch.  It won't take long to master it, and when you do filling in the panels on your own basket will be easy as pie.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Needlepoint Part One

A new craft I am really enjoying is one I never thought I could enjoy.  


I always thought it was to boring, to old, and that it just looked overly simple.  Surface embroidery somehow seemed more artistic and sophisticated.  Oh little did I know.  This week I'd like to post a "HOW TO" needlepoint a basket, but it is a lot of information.  I've decided to break things up and post  as we work through the week.

First off a little background and key word definitions because if you are like me then you maybe thought all needle work was the same.  But in truth they are all very different and require a vast knowledge and tons of practice with different stitches.  I am new to the craft and will share with you what I have learned and give links to the sites that have been so helpful to me.

Let's start with a few definitions:

  • Surface Embroidery (according to wikipedia) - is any form of embroidery in which the pattern is worked using decorative stitches and laid threads on top of the foundation fabric or canvas rather than through the fabric.
Doesn't that sound fun? No? Well pictures always help.  When I think of surface embroidery I think of all those cute appliques on baby clothes, tapestries, and stumpwork.  Elizabeth Braun of  Sew in Love gives a beautiful pictorial on her blog of a bee. 
Sew in Love - Stumpwork Bee

This is a Felt applique owl - embroidered onto canvas,
that I designed and created for a show I had earlier this year.
Let's just say I am a huge fan of surface embroidery.  Next up:
  • Needlepoint - my dictionary defines it as embroidery worked over canvas, typically in a diagonal stitch covering the entire surface of the fabric.
When I think of needlepoint I think of a purse of my Grandmother's, or that ancient pillow on my mother's sofa.  I always wondered why she kept it around, but now that I've done some needlepoint I get it.  It takes a really long time to work a tiny space and the materials are pricey.  We will talk kits another day.  Here is a small example of my first needlepoint attempt.  It is a 2" square of plastic canvas that I worked the basket weave stitch.  It gets it's name from what happens on the back of the canvas while the stitch is worked (right).  I think it is a pretty as the front (left ).  My square is fuzzy because I carry it in my purse.  I do this to remind myself that I have a project to attend to.  Life can get in the way of crafting sometimes and this little trick helps me stay on track.
see the diagonal stitches!
Just like a basket

Okay now that we have established that needlepoint is different, let's get into why it is fantastic!  Needlepoint is a great craft for those who have a long attention span for a project.  It takes a long time to work the canvas and also requires some diligence.  When worked properly with good materials it will last forever!!!!  This is why people take the time to do it.  Rugs are often needlepointed and fetch a major price tag.  It is an economical craft if you look at it from the time point of view, meaning :
cost of materials divided by  # days spent working & how long it lasts.
If you can't see it that way and only evaluate the upfront cost needlepoint may be $$$. But since we are crafty here at MBU, I've found ways around that.  Another reason I love it is because of how many things you can needle point :
  • pillows
  • purses
  • jewelry
  • rugs
  • baskets
  • and on and on and on............

Needlepoint can be worked with many different materials on different types of canvas.  Choosing the best of each will ensure your work will endure.  For beginners I suggest plastic canvas.  Here's why:

  • Plastic canvas is cheap and you can find it in most craft supply isles
  • It comes in different sizes and can accommodate different types of threads
  • It is sturdy - if your stitches are too tight you won't warp the canvas (warped canvas = ruined work)
A bit about canvas sizes - 

  • smaller number = bigger holes   #7 or 7 holes per inch
  • bigger number = smaller holes  #14 or 14 holes per inch
  • big holes - worsted weight yarn
  • small holes - embroidery thread
My last photo for today is materials for starting a needlepoint project on plastic canvas.  What you see is the yarn I chose for my sister's basket, inspired by her very 50's kitchen color scheme of mint chocolate chip and my addition of what I call a "gerber daisy pink", #7 plastic canvas,  a #14 tapestry needle, and scissors.  Remember how I mentioned that MBU has found ways around the hight cost of needlepoint materials?  This project only cost about $12 for everything you see.  Not bad, not bad at all.
materials needed

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Week #2

Hello!  Welcome to week two of the Redesign project.  Rollers and Brushes this week for the the wall in the kitchen.  I'll have a photo update next week about the kitchen.  If you missed week one read this article first.  It explains the whole plan.

What I'd like to talk about this week is more of a share.  As some of you may know I'm a bit obsessed with rugs and different ways to make rugs.  I just love them and more than anything I just love that if you are willing to put the time in, you can make one of your own!  Last night while surfing I found a fantastic site!  I am so drooling over how simple and fun their process is, and it wouldn't take long at all to make one of these beauties.  Check out Vecco and all of their awesomeness!

Another way to make your own rug with little investment and easy to find tools is to crochet a rug. Check out these beauties on Etsy.  All you need to crochet your own rug is strips of material, cut or torn into 1" strips (sheets work very well) and an extra large crochet hook.  Sugar Bee Crafts breaks it down for you.

As the redesign as I have the time project continues check back to see what kind of rugs I make for my own home.  Will I Vecco?  Crochet?  Toothbrush Rug?  Needlepoint?  Locker Hook?  Punch needle? So many to try!

Next week a tutorial on Needlepointing a basket with yarn and plastic canvas.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

MBU House - Week #1

Here is the plan - Redesign as I have the time.  

I am a stay at home mom of three, with a home that is a bit homely if you will.  Don't get me wrong, I love my house, but I'd love it more with a fresh coat of paint and a chance to craft something for every room. Made By U - DIY Craft Studio becomes the MBU - DIY House!  So with a wicked laugh I have brewed up a plan that will take a long time but, in the end I will have something I love.  I invite you to join me.  

Here's the skinny:

  • Redesign my house one wall at a time.
  • Each week take $20 and put it towards a wall and it's projects.
  • If a project or a wall will cost more than $20 to complete, then I will buy as many materials as I can each week, until all the materials are assembled. ( Cause let's face it paint is more than $20 a can)
  • To avoid being overwhelmed each project will be chosen one wall at a time
  • No moving on from the wall until it is complete.
  • Finish every room in my house by the time my 21 month old is in school. ( 3 years - told you it was going to take a long time)
I know, I know the math is a bit scary.  Redesigning my whole house, wall by wall, for just $20 a week, with three kids, and a husband, and a dog!  Bananas!  But I'm crafty what can I say.  

This week I chose a simple project and also a very short wall, we will call it W#1.  W#1 is a wall in my kitchen that I painted with primer almost two years ago and never painted it a final color because I could never choose one I liked.  Until today!  My inspiration and motivation was the large cork board that has hung in my kitchen since the day we moved in.  As cork boards do - it has changed many times over the years but most recently I had it plastered with photos of my kids and nephews.  Not that they aren't cute to look at - but I always needed a place to tack up odds and ends, and the fridge is a no go in my house because as you may know, toddlers love to steal anything from the fridge.  So down came the photos and I was left with a very boring old cork board
I was convinced that I had nothing around to put towards the project but I decided to pick through my fabric stash instead of doing dishes.  Boy am I glad I did, a square of fabric that never seemed interesting suddenly was perfect.  Tea Pots!  Now, what I did with my cork board we have all seen before, but it is just so cute and I just had to do it.  Now I have a color palette for my kitchen to boot.
A quick material list for those of you who haven't made or seen one of these bad boys up close.

  • Cork board
  • material large enough to cover the area
  • pins
  • ribbon
Simply cut, pin, cut, pin.  TA - DA!

Next week I will buy rollers and tape, so I can work towards painting the wall behind my lovely cork board.  Check back for updates on the "redesign as I have the time" project continues. Week #1 down 155 weeks to go.  Total money spent $0.00

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Great Inspiration!

Well summer is wrapping up for me and my brood.  A busy time of year.  I clearly haven't posted in a while, as I haven't crafted in a while.  This doesn't change the fact that I think of it 90% of the time! 

I have been doing is brain storming for some new ideas and been on the prowl for new materials.  Locally I went and checked out the local leather wholesaler in my town.  What is sold to the public is scraps.  Scrap bins are divided up by size and depending on what you get is then sold by weight.  Larger pieces are around $6 lb.  I really enjoyed looking through the bins and loved my finds.  I can't wait to get started on a few projects.  If you live in western NC check it out.  If not then get your gum shoes on and see what sort of scraps are around your town.
Here are a few of the scraps I bought, the one that looks like snow actually shimmers!

Today I discovered another cool material source, and a free one at that!  One of my favorite Craft Bloggers, who provides endless inspiration to me, is sponsoring a craft give away!  Craft Passion is the coolest site.  I love that she is a working mother and still finds the time to make the coolest stuff.  If you haven't checked out this site you are really missing out.  Just use the link above and follow the instructions for entering in the contest! 

The last site I will steer you towards is MBU's sister - Adorn by Vera.  On my FB page you will see what inspires me as well as what is for sale in my etsy store.  Each are "under construction" check back for update about each! 

So - shop locally, repurpose, recycle, reclaim! Craft on!