Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Weekly Project: Light Box

This is a project that has been on the to do list for I think a year now. I've been wanting to make a light box to allow me to take better pictures of items for the blog or storefront. I first came across the idea from Strobist, and its on how to make a DIY lightbox. Well my attempt is now complete. There are a few tweaks I need to do but I'm pretty proud of it.

  • White tissue paper
  • Masking tape
  • box cutter
  • posterboard
  • ruler
  • cardboard box

The first steps were to cut out squares in the box on 3 sides with the box cutter. I left a margin of approximately 2 inches around to ensure stability of the box. Tip I found to make it easier. On each side leave a small part of the middle uncut. I mean small, like 1/2 an inch. That way when you are trying to cut the last side you aren't fighting with the box for leverage. After all four sides are cut like this just just go back and quickly slice the remaining piece. I found it much easier overall.
IMG_8999 IMG_9000

The second steps were to tape the tissue paper over the holes. I cut the tissue paper to be slightly larger than the hole and then using masking tape I taped it to the inside of the box. I don't think it really matters if it's on the inside or out. I just found it more esthetically pleasing to put it on the inside. Make sure the tissue paper is taunt but be careful about ripping it.

The third step is to add the poster board. This part is really simple. Just cut the posterboard to the width of your box and insert. The goal is is have a smooth curve instead of the sharp corner at the back of the box. My piece of posterboard wasn't long enough so I had to combine 2 pieces which really ruins the affect. I'm going to replace it shortly.

The fourth and final step, Light! The key to all of this is light and I think I need brighter bulbs in my set up. I picked up 2 lamps from a flea marker for dirt cheap, I think $5 for both. Just shine in however much light you want from any angle to get the best macro shots.
IMG_9012 IMG_9014

The Test Shot
I drabbed one of Wee Rose's toys for some test shots. First I'll show you with no post editing.
IMG_9015 IMG_9016
They came out very dim. Why I think I should buy some brighter light bulbs. In general we keep 60w (or the equivalent for our lamps. We aren't big on bright lamps) and I think I need 100w or more.

Post processed
IMG_9015_2 IMG_9016_2
I'm not the greatest at post processing just yet but I think there is a bit of improvement. Definitely need brighter lights though. Also I only have a Cannon Powershot Camera. Nothing fancy, no DSLR yet. My hope is that with the light box I can ditch using the awful on board flash and have much truer colors.

Friday, July 22, 2011

New Look

So I've been playing around today with updating the blog.

  • I redid the header and I love it all except for my little bee. He just doesn't seem to go with the style anymore so I think I'm going to have to say good bye or just redo him. 
  • I think it has a bit of a cleaner look now. I noticed most craft blogs have the simplest layouts, normally all white and I realized why. They show off pictures better.
  • I need to redo a few of my buttons, like the current Etsy button on the right hand side is atrocious
  • I'm wondering if I should remove the blog archive and just leave the labels only. Any opinions?
  • I also am trying to get a +1 icon in the share link to the left. It isn't behaving though.Until I have it all fixed it is still available at the bottom of the post.
Testers Needed!

This weekend I plan to do my first prototype of a pattern I want to make freely available on my blog. But after I test it I would like a few testers willing to give me feed back on it.
  • I'd need both people who are able to sew it and test it (this is baby product)
  • Also some who may be unable to physically test it but can give feedback on the visuals. Such as, are the fonts legible, is it simple to follow, does it make sense?
  • If you're interested send me a message at

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Basics of Hand Stitching

Holloughby has a great post today up showing some basics of hand stitching, including great pictures. I'm not the greatest of hand stitchers and really I love how clean and neat decorative hand stitching can look on a finished project. I'll probably refer back to this over time.
Oh hello!
This week I'm going to show you the basic techniques that I use when I'm sewing the Sewing Tuesday projects.You can go through the information here and practice it on a scrap of fabric, or go ahead and start any Sewing Tuesday project and come back to this page if you get stuck. :)
Sewing Terms.
  • Right side - This is the patterned side of the cloth, or the side that you want to show on the outside.
  • Wrong side - This is the back of the cloth, the un-patterned side, the side you don't want people to be able to see. Usually the wrong side of the fabric ends up on the inside of your sewing.
  • Seam - The line where the stitches hold two bits of cloth together.
I like to have a length of thread that's just as long as my arm so I don't get in a tangle. You could have it shorter if you like, maybe if you are only doing a tiny bit of sewing.
  1. Hold the reel of thread in one hand and the loose end in the other. 
  2. Put the hand with the reel under your chin. 
  3. Stretch your other arm out away from you as far as it'll go letting the thread unravel as you go. 
  4. Chop the thread next to the reel with sharp scissors so you get a nice blunt end for threading your needle.
Single thread.
This is good to use if you are worried you might go wrong. It's really easy to take off the needle and unpick a few stitches, then just re-thread the needle and carry on. You need to watch out that you don't pull your thread out of the needle by accident while sewing though, or get the free end tangled up in the stitches. The arrow shows you where to tie the knot.
single thread
Double thread.
I like to use double thread as it's a bit stronger, good for stuffed items. I love making stuffed items. The thread can't slide out of the needle while you are sewing, so you can maybe go a bit faster. It looks like this:
double thread
Tying a good knot.
I tie knots this way but you can use your favourite way. Some people don't tie a knot at all, they just do a few teeny stitches on top of each other to hold the thread at the beginning of their sewing. I like a knot though as it feels safer, especially if I'm going to stuff the thing and then play with it!

1 = Index finger
2 = Middle finger
T = Thumb.
Wrap the thread a few times around your middle finger, keep hold of the other end in your other hand.
a knot
Rub your middle finger and your thumb together to tangle up the threads you wrapped around.
b knot
Work the tangle towards the end of your middle finger, bring in your index finger and run it down the thread towards the tangle ready to catch the tangle between your index finger and thumb.
c knot
Pull the thread gently with your other hand and slide the tangle off your middle finger. Use your index finger to pull the tangle to the end of the thread, hopefully making a knot!
d knot
When you are a beginner, this doesn't always work and it does take practice. It's worth it though as when you get good at it, you can tie big knots really fast.
Please go directly to Holloughby for the rest of the post which includes specific stitches and tying off at the end.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Yumm.. Apple Pie

Originally Posted July 7, 2011 on Finagling Life

This week I didn't get to finish completing any project but I did work on Wee Rose's baby blanket some more. I'm glad I decided to make a more toddler sized blanket because of how long this is taking me. I swear I'm closer to done then is in that picture.
Instead I made my first good apple pie. I love apple pie and I've always been good at the seasoning but not so much at the top pie crust. Well I got it figured out this time. I also took pictures because I was so proud. I used this recipe for the pie crust and this one for the apple filling.
Apple_Pie_07-04-2011 (6)   Before the top crust goes on.
Apple_Pie_07-04-2011 (1)  My second attempt to get the top crust right. For the holiday I used a star cookie cutter instead of just slits.
Apple_Pie_07-04-2011 (3)  And voila! My final pie out of the oven. It looks pretty darn cute if I don't say so myself.
I think next may be a berry cobbler. I've tried it in the past to minimal success, now to find a good recipe.

Weekly Project #1: Crochet Flower

Originally Posted June 28, 2011 on Finagling Life

Crochet Flower_06-27-2011_2 (2)
I have a large amount of WIPs (work in progress) laying around I realized. This past weekend Hubby and I worked diligently on tidying up and organizing the house some. In doing that I came across an almost completed project. It was a modification from this pattern at MyGurumi. Everything for this crocheted flower was done except it wasn't put together. I had made the stem, all 5 petals and the 2 leaves but they were just sitting in the box. I just finished putting it together and then took apart a wire coat hanger to add into the stem so that it would be stiff.
What is worse is this project was intended as a gift. Yes yes I know really bad of me. But not it will make its way to the intended recipient and I hope they like it.
This got me thinking though. I have a laundry list of intended projects or in progress projects. So each week I'm going to either finish a project or report on the status of one. I have one or two I expect to take longer than a week to complete so I must at least show you all what I have gotten done.
In a way this is to make me accountable. After I have completed my intended projects I'm going to move on to creating at least one thing each week out of my craft supplies stash. This includes my fabric stash and my yarn stash. I can not buy any new primary supplies to create a project, notions will be allowed though. I really don't have that large of a stash of them and things like interfacing. I can not buy any fabric to complete it though. And I hope to continue this through the and of the year.
I guess we can call this a mid years resolution since I never made one in January.

New Blog Tool -

Originally posted June 7, 2011 on Finagling Life

Besides sewing and crafting you all should know by now is that I'm a huge geek and I'm always on the look out for the coolest newest technology. Well I came around this in my blog roll and thought I'd share it since so many have their own blogs they may find it useful. It's a service that helps to embed about anything you want into your blog. Want to imbed a CNN video, a tweet, Facebook, or something from deviantART? It currently supports 218 services.
Here is a test embedding an article from Wikipedia.
blog (a blend of the term web log)[1] is a type of website or part of a website. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. Blog can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.
Most blogs are interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments and even message each other via widgets on the blogs and it is this interactivity that distinguishes them from other static websites.[2]
Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, Web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability of readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (art blog), photographs (photoblog), videos (video blogging), music (MP3 blog), and audio (podcasting). Microblogging is another type of blogging, featuring very short posts.
And a video from National Geographic

Technorati Tags: ,,

A lot of the services are video or photo services so for someone who often writes blogs commenting on current events, movies, etc. this could be really useful. I'm not sure  how often I'll get to use it. I know it'd be a lot more if I started making Youtube videos of tutorials etc. but I don't see that happening too soon. Until then it's just a nifty thing to know.

Big Butt Baby Pants

IMG_8758_2Originally posted June 6, 2011 on Finagling Life

When it comes to sewing patterns made by RAE has some great ones. Last fall I purchased from her the Big Butt Baby Pants pattern which is specifically designed for the big butt of a cloth diapered baby and I finally got around to sewing 2 pairs this weekend for Wee Rose. See we were starting to run into an issue with her in regards to pants. Because of the cloth diapers and that she's a chunky monkey she's gone up in sizes by leaps and bounds. She'll be 11 months next week and already we're putting her in 18 month clothes. If it's a t-shirt often she can wear a 12 month size but if it's pants the 12 months look like Speedos.

IMG_8721_2I'm happy to say that the pattern is a huge success!! I forsee myself making quite a few pairs of these in the next few months. For my first try I used some quilting cotton I had laying around which I have no pictures of her in. It was really to make sure I didn't screw up using the cute fabric. For the second pair I used this adorable cotton print fabric I made a dress out of for my niece. There was the perfect amount left to make Wee Rose the pants.  The size I made is a bit long but I just cuff the pants up and she seems to get around okay. I may do a basic hand stitch to keep them where I want but easy enough to remove once she grows taller. The patterns has directions for multiple variations including a ruffled butt panel. I think I may try that out for the next pair. I also want to set some jersey knit and make up a few that would be great for pajamas. This may call for a thrift store raid to look for interesting fabric.
made by RAE has a lot of great patterns for boys and girls. Please go check her out!

First Plushie, A Ferret

Originally posted January 25, 2011 on Finagling Life

He began life as a line drawing. I've been wanting to make plushies for ages now but I've  been scared to start until I found this blog, While She Naps. In it the author is doing a series on the basics of plushie making. It was as if a light bulb went off in my head and all of a sudden I started "getting it". Below if my first try, a ferret who was requested by my husband. He has yet to name the guy.
FerretPlushie_012011 001
Sew together but not stuffed.
FerretPlushie_012011 002
Showing where I turned him right side out.
FerretPlushie_012011 008 
All stuffed with eyes and nose sewn on.
FerretPlushie_012011 005
I over stuffed the neck a little but I think he's still cute. After posting pictures on Facebook I may have 2 orders in the works. Seems like my business is finally starting up.

Zebra Baby Blanket

Originally Posted on January 24, 2011 on Finagling Life

I made this as a gift for a friend and I thought in a way it could serve as my first tutorial, sort of. I photographed a few different steps in the process.
Blanket_GiftEmmaHagerty 005
The zebra fabricBlanket_GiftEmmaHagerty 001 is 100% cotton quilting fabric with a layer of cotton batting in between. It measures 40" x 40". Nothing fancy about how it was made. I sewed it right sides together, flipped it right-side out and closed up the opening.

Blanket_GiftEmmaHagerty 003

Next I hand sewed a blanket stitch around the entire parameter of the blanket using 3 strands of embroidery thread.

Blanket_GiftEmmaHagerty 004

After the blanket stitch was done I crocheted a row of single crochet stitches. I used a F hook. The yarn is Carnon Simply Soft.

Blanket_GiftEmmaHagerty 006
Last was crocheting the shell edging onto the single crochet row. The pattern is very simple.
sc * skip st, 5 dc in next st, repeat from *

There you go. I really like how this came out and it wasn't very difficult at all. I think the 40" x 40" size is pretty big though. I may go a bit smaller next time.

Stripes Oh My

Originally Posted on Jan 31, 2011 on Finagling Life

Plushie number 2 has been ZebraPlushie_1_2011 (14)completed. I would like to introduce my first zebra. One thing I need to work on is the scale. I've just been creating these guys on what fits on a single piece of paper and I would like them a tad bigger than that. I'm trying to fix that with my next critter. He's a tad bigger but not by too much though.
I actually took a series of photos as I worked on him. More than the ferret.
ZebraPlushie_1_2011 (1)
Here shows the zebra cut out using the freezer paper patterns. The pattern has no seam allowance so I just cut a bit larger than it. Doing that lets me see the smaller details that would be lost if I added a buffer around the guy.
ZebraPlushie_1_2011 (2)
First I stitched together the ear and attached it through the slit on his head and sewed on the muzzle to each of the 2 body pieces.
ZebraPlushie_1_2011 (3)
This shows how the ear is attached to the head through the slit. Make sure all the fabric is pulled in so that no loose strings will show around the ear.
ZebraPlushie_1_2011 (4)
The under gusset shown stitched together with one of the feet added.
ZebraPlushie_1_2011 (5)
A close up of the mane sandwiched between the two body pieces which are right sides together. This was very tricky. I had to think a bit about the placement so that when he was turned right side out the mane would be in the correct place.
ZebraPlushie_1_2011 (6)
The head all pinned up ready to sew. When the plushie is turned right side out the mane will stick straight up.
ZebraPlushie_1_2011 (7)
The plushie after turning. ZebraPlushie_1_2011 (9)
With the safety eyes added. I found these at Joann's though I know there are loads of online sellers too.
ZebraPlushie_1_2011 (13)
And finally stuffed. I purposely didn't sew the under gusset at the tops of the legs. I didn't want him to stand. He's intended for a small child and I though the laying down was cuter. I wanted him slightly floppy too.

Combining Blogs..

So I've had my personal blog, Finagling Life for awhile and I've dreamed of getting my business blog up and going. I just don't have the time to do 2 different blogs though so I'm transferring everything from over there to here. For awhile I would post links back on Finagling Life to send traffic this way but I think that if I ever want to have Treegold & Beegold be my main online presence then I need to start doing that now while I'm still small. I'm going to copy over some of my post popular posts from Finagling Life so expect an avalanche of things over the next few days.

All this is coming about because I am slowly seeing my traffic numbers increasing on Finagling Life and I've started working on a large tutorial and pattern that I am planning to offer free on this site. I am projecting that this pattern may help to increase my traffic by quite a bit and well I really want the traffic over at here more so than I want it back there. I also forsee having more time to put forward towards the blog in the future. I've received some unfortunate news from work. Due to the continued decline of available projects for at least a temporary amount of time I'm being asked to drop my hours from full time, taking about a 20% pay cut along with it. So I'm going to take this opportunity and try to all my extra time at getting Treegold & Beegold up and running strong. Expect a week or so for me to get all the formatting and links done.

I hope many of you see this as a double post because you found the trail of bread crumbs. Commence the reposting.


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