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Tag Archives | Embellishments

Creative Metal™ by Walnut Hollow

Reported by Lisa Fulmer

Creative Metal™ is a selection of tools and texture plates for embossing or debossing soft metal sheets. You can adhere the decorative metal designs you create on to frames, boxes, vases, etc. My first thought when I saw this product at Winter CHA 2010 was to create my own metal embellishments for greeting cards and artist trading cards.

The beginner kit comes with a TON of stuff, including 2 pen-sized handles,18 different interchangeable tips, metal scissors, a ruler, a paper stump tool, a texture plate, and a foam work pad. It came with only one 3.5” square piece of practice metal…I definitely could have used another sheet or two to practice on, before opening up my pack of “good” sheets (sold separately).

I spent about 30 minutes with the instructions and the piece of practice metal, trying out all the different tools and parts to see what they did. I was surprised at how heavy my hand was; I tore the metal several times. After a little while, I got the hang of using a lighter touch. I found the paper stump tool to be easier to play with first, then I graduated to the metal tool.

I also played with two additional packs of texture plates. I found these to be a bit challenging to keep the sheet in place and feel my way around the pattern as I pushed the metal into the crevices. Could just be that I lack patience and I was trying to move too fast…you definitely want to work slowly to prevent the tool from slipping and denting the metal in the wrong places. I found if I pressed the metal sheet all around the texture plate with my fingers first, I could see a trace of the pattern, making it easier to start using the tools. Once you have debossed the pattern, then you can turn the metal over so the design is now embossed. Either way looks nice!

Using different tips, you can make the edges of the design nice and crisp, or smooth the metal around the edges to “erase” stray dents. My boo-boo’s were still noticable…but with some practice, my skills improved! I actually liked the smaller patterns best; it was easier to control the debossing.

I really liked the “ball and cup” tip sets that came in two sizes. First you dent the metal with the ball on the foam pad, then you turn the sheet over onto a hard surface and seal it into a cute little raised dot.

All the different border wheels were fun and super easy to use too, with or without a ruler.

My favorite tip of all was the one for writing and drawing…I love the look of freehand lettering and doodling in the metal. The metal is soft enough that your normal handwriting comes across nicely as a debossed image. If you can write backwards, the letters look even better embossed.

Tinting the metal with alcohol inks was really fun, too! I doodled an embellishment for an ATC…I used one of the rollers to add texture to the petals of a punched flower for a greeting card…then I went all crazy, cutting and debossing petals that I painted first with red and gold alcohol inks to make a big flower for a holiday wreath. And I’m saving all my metal scraps to make a cool mosaic one of these days!


Pros

  • The instructions for each piece in the kit are informative and free projects are included
  • Metal sheets come in a variety of sizes and colors—small squares, strips or larger pieces on a roll…in aluminum, brass or copper
  • Lots of cute project ideas on the Walnut Hollow site
  • Metal is soft enough so that the edges are not sharp
  • Plenty of accessories in the line, including different project kits
  • Reasonably priced – the beginner kit I used is $30, but you can get started with a tool, a few tips, a pad and some metal sheets for under $20

Cons

  • The paper texture tool (aka “stump”) came unglued after a few minutes of use and started to unravel…but a little gaffer tape fixed it right up
  • The soft metal sheets are fairly fragile…hard to handle without denting them
  • The smoothing tools don’t completely restore the surface
  • Working with the texture plates takes quite a bit of practice (and patience) to get a nice design without the metal slipping around, or tearing, or getting dented in the wrong places


Have you used the Creative Metal™ set by Walnut Hollow? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Disclosure

Janome Sew Mini sewing machine

Reported by Erika Martin

I’ll be right up front and honest with you all. I bought my Janome Sew Mini sewing machine when it was on sale and had free shipping. I couldn’t pass it up. I wanted a machine of my own, and the price was right. Besides, I saw what everyone else was doing with it and knew it would be a perfect fit for me. I was so excited when it arrived and was determined to use it right away, but I never got around to even opening the box and it sat in my closet for 2 years. I kept telling myself I would take it out and break it in, but it didn’t happen until this past May when I needed to make a bridesmaid dress for a wedding I was in. Since then, I never put it away.

I realized that if I could make a satin bridesmaid dress with a budget-friendly, no-frills machine, then there was a lot I was missing out on in crafting possibilities. I bought fabric and started making capris and shorts for my daughter, and some swimming shorts for my husband. I’ve been tinkering and experimenting with it ever since, and it has a permanent place on one of the tables in my craft studio.

I want to show you some fun ways to use the machine on materials other than fabric.

But first, here’s a great bunch of tutorials from GinaK on how to thread the machine, wind the bobbin, etc. I found that these tutorials were so much easier to understand than the little book that came with the machine. I tend to be a very visual learner, so seeing pictures of someone actually threading the machine made this a breeze the first time I used it.

Threading the Machine

Inserting the Bobbin
Winding the Bobbin
Stitching and Tension
Sewing a Zig-Zag Stitch

And here’s a handy trick for those of you that use cone thread.

My mom, sister and I had a custom sewing business for years when I was in my teens. We had a couple of sergers and two regular machines. Because the sergers used cone thread and there was so much on them, it didn’t make any sense to buy more spool thread to match the cone thread just so that we could use it in the regular machines. My sister came up with a great trick that enabled us to use the cone thread for both the serger and regular machine.

She took a ball point pen and pulled the ink straw out of it. She also removed the bottom cap of the pen. She then placed the empty pen casing on the spool holder and it instantly became extended enough to hold the cone thread on.

The key is to find the right pen size to fit onto your spool holder, but if you’re like me, you probably have a million pens that are out of ink that you just can’t bear to throw away, for some reason.


CARDSTOCK

Paper and cardstock are incredibly easy to stitch on. The Janome’s needle holds up very well to card base weight (120 lb.) cardstock and can easily go through a few layers. The foot of the machine grips the cardstock just as well as it does fabric.

For my card here, I used the zig-zag stitch for a decorative finish around my stamped image. The zig-zag is my favorite stitch to use, as it gives a country-type of look and you don’t have to be perfect with the stitch line.

The Janome has 3 different widths of zig-zag stitches to choose from.

I also used the machine to sew my buttons directly onto my card. Most times, I thread some floss or twine through the holes on my buttons, make a knot and then adhere it to my card with a glue dot, but I wanted to see how the machine would hold up to sewing a button.

(Stamp images from GinaK Designs)

With the larger button, I kept the foot of the machine up so that the button would fit underneath. I chose the zig-zag stitch that would allow the needle to zig-zag between the holes. Instead of running the machine with the foot pedal, I used my hand to turn the knob on the side to sew the button into place. It worked wonderfully! The smaller buttons were done by placing the foot onto the buttons so the stitch would go in tight.

When you’re working with buttons on cardstock, use a little bit of adhesive to hold the buttons in place for the first couple of stitches. This will keep them from moving around.

CRAFT FOAM

I recently took part in Christy’s Craft Challenge, which was sponsored by Craft Critique for the month of September. The challenge was to use the materials in the packet to make a butterfly for the Butterfly Project. When I saw the craft foam in the package, I was a little confused as to how I would use it since most of the stuff I’ve seen done with craft foam is what my daughter creates in her art space.

I knew I wanted to make some sort of hanging butterfly and that’s when I thought about sewing the fabric onto the foam and use the foam as a sturdy backing.

I cut out a large, lightweight cardboard butterfly, and traced it onto the back of the fabric. I cut out the fabric, lightly adhered it to the craft foam and trimmed around the fabric butterfly. I put some fiberfill under the fabric butterfly, and then adhered it securely onto the craft foam. I used the zig-zag stitch to finish off the edge of the butterfly.


I added some small flowers (cut from the fabric) to hang from the butterfly, and sewed them onto the foam as well. I created a quick video to show how effortlessly the needle works with the foam.



When I finished my butterfly project, I headed to the dollar store that afternoon to pick up some more craft foam and then made a couple stops to pick up some quilting quarters. I’m addicted to using craft foam in my Janome now, and I’m planning to make a bunch of hangings of all different shapes and colors. Who knew craft foam could be so much fun for an adult?

RIBBON

Not that long ago, my sister made an adorable crocheted necklace and dangled buttons from it. As I thought about that idea in regards to my Janome (and considering the fact that I don’t crochet), the idea to do a bracelet with buttons and ribbons popped into my head.

Here’s a tutorial on how I used my Janome to make a fast, easy and cost-effective bracelet using just buttons, ribbon, a little bit of adhesive and the Janome machine.

Step 1: I started off by cutting a length of ribbon about 4 inches longer than the width of my wrist. I applied a little bit of adhesive on one end.

Step 2: I folded the end over and then stitched the end to secure it.

Step 3: I picked out some buttons to match (I was going for fall colors and chose the new Autumn assortment from GinaK) and used a large button for the closure. I applied some adhesive to the back of the button.

Step 4: I glued the button to the sewed end of the ribbon.

Step 5: I used the zig-zag stitch on the Janome to secure the button to the ribbon.
Step 6: I applied adhesive to the backs of the rest of the buttons and arranged them onto the ribbon.

Step 7: Using the zig-zag stitch, I worked my way down the line of buttons. I had to switch back and forth between different widths of the stitch to accommodate the different sizes of buttons. I also had to maneuver the buttons and the machine foot a few times to make sure I was getting the needle in the hole (so as not to break the needle on a button), but it wasn’t much of a problem.

Step 8: I left a 2 1/4 inch end after the last button and adhered it into a loop, making sure that the loop just barely fit the large button that was first sewed onto the other end.

Step 9: I turned the loop over and applied some adhesive on the underside of the ribbon, where the ribbon crosses itself.

Step 10: I then folded the end of the ribbon onto the adhesive.

Step 11: I used the zig-zag stitch to sew the loop where the ribbon crosses itself.

Step 12: I slipped the large button on the other end into the loop I just created. All done!

This is such a fun accessory to wear and it’s so minimal in cost. Great for little girls, or even big girls like me!

I am totally digging my Janome and one of the things I wish I’d done years ago was taken it out of the box right when I got it. I think of all the things I could have created during those couple of years… I guess that means I have to get started on them now to make up for lost time!

Pros:

  • Great starter machine, especially for younger kids that want to learn how to sew
  • Lightweight and easily moved
  • Compact size
  • Low price point, and you can sometimes find the machine online on sale and with free shipping if you do some searching around
  • Has 8 basic stitch settings and reverse
  • The bobbin is easy to wind, and the machine is simple to thread

Cons:

  • There’s no light over the foot of the machine, so it can be hard to see your stitches if you’re working in a dimly lit area. I like to keep my Ott Lite handy if I’m working late at night
  • Hard to find in stores, so online shopping for this machine is your best bet

Do you have a Janome Sew Mini? What have you made with yours? What kind of materials have you put through your machine with success?

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Crochet Hooks, Yarn, and Flowers

Reported by Katie Renz

Crocheted flowers are nothing new and have graced many a beautiful hand-crafted purse, sweater, hat, gloves or just about anything that can have something attached to it, but have you noticed other places that crocheted flowers have been embellishing? Yes, the crocheted flower can be seen on cards, altered projects, and scrapbook layouts.

Well, when I saw these very cute embellishments, I knew that I had to try this out for myself. First, let me tell you that I knit occasionally and was somewhat familiar with a crochet hook, but I had never completed any crocheted item of any sort. I am definitely no professional, just a gal that wanted to make my own flower embellishments. Today, I’m going to share my journey of hooks and thread/yarn.

Now the other important fact is that I’m not going to show you how to crochet, but I will direct you to a site where I got my pattern. This is the flower pattern that I used throughout this article and for all my examples. I ran across a great little blog called Little Birdie Secrets and found a great video tutorial. CLICK HERE to go there. There are numerous free patterns and video tutorials available and it will just come down to your own personal preference, and to be honest, some trial and error.

The first time I walked into a Michaels and Joann’s stores (I didn’t go into any knitting stores) I was rather at a loss as to what to buy. I realized that some of the yarn I saw wasn’t going to work, but that thin, tiny, thread looked awfully small and I wasn’t sure what size hooks to get other than I assumed they needed to be small. I opted to get the variety set of Boye Crochet hooks (pictured above) and figured that was my best option. For the yarn, I just grabbed what I thought I could manage, which turned out to be too thick for my purposes.

Before I get to the crochet thread I want to share a picture of a flower that I made using some yarn that I used to make hats for my boys. I don’t know for sure what brand of yarn it is, but it’s big and wintery. I used an H hook because it was one that I had floating around and I think most everyone has at least heard of the “alphabet” hooks – H, I, J.

This particular flower measures approximately 2 1/2″ in diameter and I wanted to show it to you for comparison purposes.


The picture below is of some yarn that I purchased at the store. All 3 skeins are sized 10 thread which isn’t the thickest, but it isn’t the thinnest either. There is also size 3, 5, and 20. There might be more… I honestly don’t know. I have examples further down of both the 3 and 5.


A term that kept popping up while I was shopping and browsing was “mercerized” cotton. What does mercerized mean and why is it important? Without getting into all the chemically stuff (that I don’t clearly understand) the process of mercerization is simply a chemical treatment to cotton fibers that improves its luster and strength. It also allows the cotton to accept dyes more easily. You can read a more in depth definition HERE.

This next picture is of some flowers that I crocheted using every single hook from the Boye variety set. It shows you the size difference of the flowers. The yarn is DMC crochet yarn and I used the exact same pattern for each flower, just changed the hook size.

As you can see the larger numbers actually mean a smaller hook size and subsequent smaller flowers.


Another example I wanted to show you is where I used different types of yarn but the same size hook (size 2) for each one. As you can see, there is quite a difference between the different threads.

I found the size 3 too large and thick for my purposes (embellishments on cards). The DMC has a nice feel to it. The DMC Pearl Cotton has some neat shimmer to it and the threads don’t separate at all, but color choices aren’t as many as the regular DMC floss. And finally, the size 10 cotton crocheted up quite nicely, but is the thinnest of the bunch.


One thing that I found was that many of you crafty crafters out there have embraced crocheting with DMC floss. The one nice thing about DMC floss is that there is a vast array of colors available versus crochet thread that seems to be limited in color choice. Plus it comes in small increments and you won’t be stuck with yards and yards of thread. The only tricky component is that DMC floss can easily be separated so it can be a little tricky to crochet.


I do have a couple of hints for you flower makers out there. I have found that if I keep a smaller hook on hand while I’m crocheting my flower, it makes it much easier to complete stitches that may have gotten a bit snug. The same goes for when threading your ends. If you use a smaller hook to do this it makes it much easier.

So, this post isn’t really about good or bad, but rather what to look for if you are interested in crocheting your own flower embellishments. I wanted to point you in the right direction, but clearly the size of the flower you want to make depends on your purpose and your own preference. It will also depend upon the style of flower and the pattern you are using as well.

We love choices and this is one area that there is a vast array of choices out there. You really can’t go wrong whatever you choose.

Pros:

  • Creating your very own crochet flower embellishments
  • Doesn’t take a lot of materials
  • Can match just about any project

Cons:

  • Could take longer than you want to spend
  • Your hands could cramp and you could end up with carpal tunnel

All the components to creating your own flowers are very affordable and once you get hooked (pun intended) you’ll have so much fun!

So, as I stated earlier, I am no expert. Flowers are the only things I have crocheted and at this point the only thing I plan on making, but I’m always up for any tips and/or hints about hooks and thread! Bring ’em on readers.