Sunday, January 31, 2010

Victorian Beehive Valentines - Free project tutorial!

Who can resist pink, red and white papers, sparkly stickers and ribbons? Ever since I was little I was completely enamored with making Valentines. This year I've been entertained by watching Celia get carried away making hearts and running upstairs to secretly hide them in her room.

The magic of a beehive Valentine happens when you pull up on the center ribbon. The paper expands into a beehive shape to reveal the hidden message underneath. When I taught at the Des Moines Art Center, the education director Peggy Leonardo shared the instructions with me. She had discovered them printed in an old time Valentine craft book. I featured a gilded birdcage variation of this project in my book Simply Beautiful Greeting Cards, North Light Books.  When I recieved a gorgeous selection of papers and stickers from EK Success last month, I knew I wanted to recreate this 'vintage' paper craft. Fancy stickers and papers are inspiring but you can use any paper or rubber stamps you have on hand.

Finished dimensions: 4 1/2" x 4 1/2"

Materials :
Pink and red scrapbooking paper - K and Company Lovely Designer Paper Pad
Retro Valentine Stickers - EK Success
5" length of 1/4 inch satin ribbon

Paper trimmer - Optional

1. Trim the paper for the of the card into a 4 1/2" square. If you plan on sending the card in an envelope adjust the size to fit. Cut a smaller 3 1/2" square to fit in the center of the first. Next cut a small white piece of paper to place behind the sticker, mine was 1 3/4"x 2 3/8". Glue the three pieces together and then apply the sticker to the white rectangle.

2. Cut a second 3 1/2" square for the beehive. Select a lighter weight paper that will be flexible and won't retain the crease lines. Fold the paper in half and then in quarters. Cut rounded slits 1/4" apart alternating between the folded edges. Akin to cutting a snowflake its important not to cut all the way through to the other side. Unfold the paper and apply glue to underside of all four edges. Position the beehive over the center of the card, firmly press down the glued edges.

3. Thread the ribbon length through the top two slits in the beehive. Gently pull up on the ribbon to test your beehive. If necessary use your scissor tips to carefully extend any slits that don't open sufficiently. Decorate the border of the beehive with paper strips and sentiments trimmed from the coordinating scrapbook papers.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Easy embroidered felt heart sachets - Free tutorial!

I just finished creating these Valentine craft project samples for my Feb 8th visit with Curtis Memorial Library's fiber arts club. The children in the group are 7-12 years old. Felt is the perfect material for introducing kids to embroidery, its sturdy enough to hold it's shape without an embroidery hoop. I like to use a full strand of embroidery thread so the stitches stand out. A crewel needle has a sharp enough point to get through the felt without poking fingers. It also has a wide enough eye to accommodate the floss. To keep Celia happy while I created this sample I handed her a felt heart and along with a threaded needle. With a minimal amount of help she was able to stitch her favorite finds out of my button stash onto the front of the heart, she was so proud!

If you're local please preregister at 725-5242 ext 225 and join me for this free workshop. If not follow the directions below, break out the embroidery floss and buttons and get your kids excited about stitching!

1/4 yard or less of pink and red felt - I love the felt National Nonwovens sends me. (
Embroidery floss, pink red and white - I'll use any excuse to break into the box full of colors DMC shipped me. (
Assorted buttons
Poly-fil stuffing (
Scented plastic pellets - from plastic sleeve sachets (available at major box stores)
4" section of ribbon or cording for a hanging loop

Pinking sheers-optional
Crewel needles
Large heart shaped cookie cutter
Sewing machine - optional substitute sewing needles and thread

1. Use the large cookie cutter as your template to cut out the felt heart top, add a 1/4" seam allowance to all sides.
2. Thread the crewel needle with a full strand of embroidery floss and begin stitching flowers, cross shaped kisses, buttons even messages onto the front of the heart. If desired add a blanket stitch around the edge of the heart (see the red variation). Tie all knots on the backside of the heart and trim the ends.
3. Pin the heart to a second uncut scrap of felt, make sure it extends a half inch on all sides of the heart top. Position the ends of the hanging cord between the layers.
4. Machine stitch (or hand stitch) around the edge of the heart, approximately a quarter of an inch inside the cut edge. Trap the hanging cord in your seam and leave an inch and a half opening for stuffing.
5. Lightly stuff the heart and then pour a teaspoon of pellets into the heart. Hold the opening closed and position it back under your sewing machine presser foot to stitch the opening close (or hand stitch closed).
6. Use the pinking sheers to trim the heart backing so that it extends a 1/4" from the heart front.

Enjoy your sweet soft heart, make another and share the love!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

loveable monsters - Free tutorial!

I'm so lucky to be able to create crazy creatures for work. Even more fun is to be able to share my crafty enthusiasm in magazines, books and workshops. I devised this pared down softie project for a free winter break workshop that will take place on Wednesday February 17, 10 am at Curtis Memorial Library, Brunswick Maine. The goal is for every child to make a stuffed creation inspired by a childrens' monster story book. This stuffed monster requires minimal sewing and his shape is open ended. Children can easily customize the project adding horns, lips, even additional limbs to make a unique creation. If you're not local please try creating monsters at home, it's a parent and child activity. They'll need an adult to supervise the cutting, operate the sewing machine and glue gun.

Finished dimensions 12"x 10" body arms extend 6-8 inches off the bottom and sides

1/4 yard of fleece will make several monsters
2-3 sheets of stiff felt (available at Michael's stores)
Plastic (screw shaped) stuffed animal eyes that are packaged with metal or plastic disk backs (available at sewing and craft stores)
Fiberfill stuffing

Sewing machine - don't worry (we're only making a straight seam!)
Hot glue gun and melt sticks
straight pins

1. Fold the fleece in half and cut a double layer monster body approximately 12" x 10", leave the top straight and round the bottom edges. Cut 2 legs arms eyes, eyebrows and a mouth out of the stiff felt.
2. Place the body pieces right sides together. Insert the arms and legs between the layers so that a half an inch of the felt sticks out beyond the fleece fabric edge. Pin the legs and arms in place, if necessary place additional pins to tack the fingers and toes away from the edge, you want to avoid accidently trapping them in your seam.
3. Starting two inches from the very top sew down one side, across the base, and back up the other side ending two inches before the top edge. Be sure to leave the top completely unsewn. Remove any additional pins, trim away any excess fabric and turn your monster right side out. Lay the monster flat and cut 1 1/2" slits a half inch apart across the top of the monsters head.
4. Lightly stuff your monster so that you can see how he's taking shape. With your scissor tips carefully poke a hole in one of the felt eyes. Thread a plastic eye into the hole. Determine where you want the eyes positioned and poke a hole through the fleece. Thread the back of the plastic eye into the hole and then reach inside your monster to firmly press the backing up against the the back of the eye. A layer of felt and fleece will be trapped between the two eye components. Repeat the process to attach the second eye.
5. Finish stuffing your monster and then knot the fleece strips together. This will seal his/her head closed while creating shaggy hair.
6. Hot glue the remaining mouth teeth horns and eyebrows in place. Let the glued areas cool before giving him a monster hug!

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Years Kringler!

Almost a week after we planned to make Kringler, Jon woke up making it his first task of the New Year. He’d already loaded the stand mixer, pressed the dough crust onto the cookie sheet and was stirring the pudding like filling over the stove top, all by the time I made an appearance downstairs . The recipe comes from his mother, my mother in law Jan whose mother (Jon’s grandma) is Norwegian. I like to think this is a family recipe that has been passed down although I need to confirm if that is truly the case. Jan would serve this Scandinavian pastry at the annual Boyd family Christmas in their Des Moines home. I have fond memories of feasting on this warm danish while the kids unwrapped their stockings.

If you’re beginning the year with a renewed commitment of health you might want to skip this culinary delight. It has only a few ingredients none of which make an appearance at the bottom of the revamped food pyramid. It’s an ideal treat for a cold winters morning when the pantry is bare. The main ingredients are butter and white flour the flavoring is dependent on the magic of almond extract. Relatively easy to make it has a wow factor when it emerges from the oven puffed up and golden brown.

Wishing you the sweetest of years filled with blessings, happiness, health and lots of crafty goodness!

Scandinavian Kringler
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 TBLS ice water

Puff Topping:
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup flour
3 eggs
1/2 tsp almond extract

1 cup powdered sugar
1 TBLS margarine
1/2 almond extract
2-3 TBLS milk
slivered almonds

Oven - 350 degrees Divide dough in half. Press each half into a 3 x 12 inch strip on an ungreased cookie sheet. Heat water and ½ cup margarine in medium saucepan to boiling. Remove from heat & immediately stir in one cup flour until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth. Stir in ½ tsp. almond extract. Spoon ½ of the batter over each crust. Bake at 350 until golden brown and puffy...about 50-60 min. Immediately remove from the cookie sheet and cool. Topping will shrink. Spread frosting and sprinkle with almonds.
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