Sunday, October 21, 2012

Christmas Light Ball

Many years ago I was taught how to make Christmas light balls. Of course I gave them as Christmas gifts that year.  My Mom left her’s behind when she moved, so she asked me for another one.  Since we are putting up my Mom’s Christmas lights this coming weekend, I sat down and got another one made, and this is how I did it. 
50 9 oz. clear Solo cups (they need to be very bell shaped, $4 a package of 40)
120 1 inch brass fasteners (we use to call them brads, $4 a package of 100)
String of 150 Christmas lights (+/- $12 a string)
Soldering iron with ½ inch tip (have had it a long time)
Box knife
 This is the type of cup we need to make Christmas light ball.  I did NOT buy this kind.  The ones I bought were good enough cups but they were not wide enough at the top.  I did not discover this until after I did the next step.
Step 1. Heat up the soldering iron and used it to melt a half inch hole into the bottom of each of the 50 cups.  Used the soldering iron to kind of ream out the hole (you need a hole a little larger than ½ inch diameter for 3 lights to fit through the hole).  Let them cool then then used a box knife to chip away some of the excess plastic left from the melting process. (Holes melted-too late.  I am too cheap to waste the cups so I punted.)
Step 2. Using the awl, poke a hole in the side of one cup. 
Poke a hole in the side of another cup and use a 1 inch brad to connect the two cups together. (Here is where I punted by switching to 1.5 inch brads and separated the cups more by using the extra length of the brad to separate the top of the cups.) 
 Poke a hole in the next cup and poke a hole in a previously attached up (try to make it level) and use another brad to connect the new cup to previous two cups.  Keep up this process, until you have 12 cups connected into a circle.  That is the 1st row of cups.
Step 3. For the 2nd row, connect 9 cups into a circle.  They will not lie flat, until you lay them onto the first row.  Our goal is to create a sphere, and once you lay the 2nd row on top of the 1st row, you can see where the 2nd row almost completes half of a sphere.  Use the awl to poke holes where two cups touch between the 1st and 2nd rows.  Each cup in the 2nd row should be attached to at least one cup in the 1st row, and every cup in the 1st row should be attached to a cup in the 2nd row.  This means that several cups in the 2nd row will be attached to more than one cup in the 1st row.  This will make a stable ball.  If you pick you the almost complete half of a sphere, it will feel solid. (Even with the brads making space the ball felt solid). 
Step 4. Now for the 3rd row, there are only have 4 cups left, attach them so that they form a square.  Then, put them in the empty space on the top of the semi sphere. 
See where the 3rd row cups touch cups in the 2nd row, and use the awl to poke holes and use brads to attach the 3rd row to the 2nd row.  This time you will not have very cup in the 2nd row attached to a cup in the 3rd row.  If you try to attach every cup in the 2nd row to a cup in the 3rd row you will have a warped shape, not a round half sphere.

Repeat steps 2-4 to make the second half of the sphere.
Step 5.  Now get out the string of lights. Plug in the lights to make sure they all work.  If you want you can leave them pluged in while you insert them into the cups.  Start with the light furthest from the male outlet and stick the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd light through one of the 4 cups in the 3rd row.  Put 3 lights into each of the other 3 cups in that row. 
 Now move up to the closest cup in row 2 and start putting 3 lights into each of the 9 cups in row 2.  Watch that you don’t skip any lights as you fill the cups.  Taking the lights out and then redoing them can be a pain. When you get back to where you started in row 2, move up to row 1 and then work your way around. 
Step 6.  Now, start inserting the lights into a cup in the 1st row of the second half of the sphere.  Next cup to receive lights is the closest to the first cup in the second row then the closest cup in the 3rd row.  Then put 3 lights into each of the other 3 cups in that row.  Now move up to the closest cup in row 2 and start putting 3 lights into each of the 9 cups in row 2.  Again watch that you don’t skip any lights as you fill the cups.  When you get back to where you started in row 2, move up to row 1 and then work your way around to the last cup.  You have 50 cups and 150 lights so you should come out even.
Step 7. Now put the two halves of the spheres together and use the awl to punch holes through two touching cups and connect them with brads.  Be sure the light plug is outside the ball. Pick it up, does it feel solid? No?  Take the time to tighten some of the brads where it feels loose.  Now does it feel solid?  Great! Done!
Plug it in and see how it looks.  I used a string of lights with a variety of possible motions. These can be, and many times are, outside lights. Enjoy!



Sunday, October 14, 2012

Felt Applique Pillows

Of late I have been creating many pillow covers using felt and the applique method.  I have written up how I did one of them, so that you will know how it was done.  Please realize that I used the same basic method for each of them.  So this is how I made the felt applique Turkey for a pillow.
15” x15” square of 100% cotton muslin (preshrunk)
Felt (colors, dark brown, beige, orange, dark red, and dark green, yellow, @ $.25 each sheet)
DMC floss, #’s 608, 815,725, 3341, 3371 (+/-$.50 each skein)
Embroidery needles
2- 10 mm wiggly eyes
E-600 glue

Stitches used:
Blanket stitch
Running stitch
Back stitch
Satin stitch

 This is a picture of my craft foam original turkey. 
I color and black and white, copied it using my printer.  Then I cut out all the pieces I would need as pattern pieces to cut out the felt.
I cut the base and the feet out of the dark brown felt.  I cut the body out of the beige felt.  The word “thanks” and the bow tie were cut out of the dark green felt.  Some of the feathers were cut out of the orange felt, and the rest of the feathers and the waddle out of the dark red felt.  I cut the beak out of the yellow felt.  I put them all together to make sure they fit.

 I centered the dk. brown base on the muslin square.  Using the dark brown floss and used the blanket stitch to attach the felt base to the cloth.
I ended up doing the word “thanks” twice.  Both time I used the running stitch to outline each of the letters of the word, but the first time, I used dark green floss that matched the felt.  Big mistake, you couldn’t see the stitches and so couldn’t read the word.  So I redid it with a lighter color of the same shade of green. I used a little satin stitch to fill in the hole in the capital letter A.  Now you can read the word.
Next, I attached the beige body again using the blanket stitch, using a nice, light brown floss. This is the one color that I don’t have a number for. Sorry about that.
Then I attached each of the feathers, using dark red floss on the dark red feathers and orange floss on the orange feathers.  I attached each feather with a blanket stitch and using a back stitch to draw the veins on the feathers.
 The blanket stitch was used to attach the beak with yellow floss, the green tie with the green floss, and the waddle with the dark red floss.
Last but not least I glued the eyes to the face just above the beak.  Done!  I think it looks better than the original. 
These pillows were made using the same basic method, creating a pattern from a picture, cutting out the felt and using embroidry stitches to attach them to the pillow front. Lots of fun! Enjoy!



Saturday, October 6, 2012

Make Your Own Car Seat Pillow

Have you ever watched a child (grandchild) sleep in a car seat and wonder how bad a kink neck they would have when they woke up?  Me too.  I found this Car Seat Pillow here on Pintrest.  Loved the idea, so I decided to make one and see how it turned out.  I ended up making 5 for the grandkids that live locally.  So here is how to “Make Your Own Car Seat Pillow”.
6 inch strip of fleece (0.167 yards, 15.24 cm, your choice, prices run from $1.25-$2.00 per strip)
2.5 inches of hook and loop fastener (6.35 cm, $1/1 yard,  I used what I had)
Sewing machine
Straight pins (not shown)
Craft stuffing (+/- $5 per pound, I did 3 with one pound)
Ruler/tape measure (not shown)
Fold the strip of fleece in half and measure it 27 inches long.  Cut off the ends.  One of these ends will be used to make a strap to put around one of the car seat straps.  This little strap will not interfere with the working of the car seat straps, yet it will help the pillow stay in place.
Sew one side of the hook and loop fastener to one end of fleece end being used as a strap.   Turn the little strap over and sew down the other side of the hook and loop fastener. 
Placing the strap right side down, place it toward the middle, of one side of the long fleece strip. 
Use a ruler, and measure the center of the little strap, putting two straight pins 2 inches (5cm) apart.
 Sew a straight line down the 2 inch marks.  This will make it wide enough to fit any size car or booster seat strap.
Hook the hook and loop fastener side together.  Good.
How take the long 6 inch wide strip of fleece and put it right sides together.  If you look at a piece of fleece you will notice that one side is brighter and a little fuzzier than the other.  The brighter, fuzzier side is the right side. 
Sew a straight line with a ¼ inch (64 mm) seam down each side of the long fleece strip.
Turn the tube you have made inside out.  Now I want you to do something a little unusual, pull the open end of the tube back down along the outside of the tube.  This will make it a lot easier to stuff the stuffing down into the bottom of the tube.
Keep stuffing until your reach the opening, then pull the rest of the tube up a little at a time and keep stuffing as you go.  When you finally have the tube full of stuffing, stop.
Now fold the raw edges of the opening in ¼ to ½ inches.  Pin the opening closed with straight pins.
Now you have two choices, sew the end closed with the sewing machine or whip it closed by hand, your choice, I chose the machine.

Roll the pillow in between your hands to smooth out the stuffing and you are done.
 The grandkids loved the new car pillows that I had made for them and my 5 year old granddaughterndemonstrated for me how she would use it.  For little babies, you can make an arch out of the pillow and put it around the top of their head.  Put the strap to hold the pillow in place where ever it will work best.   Enjoy!