Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Letter Coasters: A Tutorial

As promised, I'm posting a "how to" on making your own ceramic tile coasters using individually printed letters.  The method is very similar to creating coasters using scrapbook paper, but, if you want to use printed letters, there are a few extra steps.  First, let's gather the materials needed:

  • ceramic tiles (mine are smooth, off-white, and measure 4 1/4")
  • felt or cork (for these I used sticky back felt)
  • Mod Podge (glossy or matte)
  • super glue (optional) 
  • foam brush
  • letters
  • high quality (acid free) paper
  • printer
  • spray clear acrylic sealer (I used glossy)
  • brayer (optional)

Buy your tiles.  I found mine at Home Depot and paid $.16 each. Now, find your letters.  Through Pinterest, I found a Flickr collection of letter photos.  There are hundreds of photographs of all letters of the alphabet.  The collection's owner states they are free to download for non-commercial use only.  

Sizing the letters
Now that you have found each letter you want to use, download and save each to your Desktop (you can find them easily here).  You'll have to size them before printing.  Start by opening a blank WORD document and then insert your first photo.  Look in the upper right on the photo above.  You'll see the Crop tool.  Use this tool to size your photo to a little smaller than your tile size.  By using this tool, you will achieve an exact size for each square.  I cropped my letters to 4.1". 

Print the letters
Decide if you want your coasters to be colorful or not and then print in color or choose black and white.  Print your letters on high quality paper.  I used acid free resume paper, but you could used plain scrapbook paper or even card stock.  In order to avoid smearing, make sure you allow the printed papers to "dry" before the next steps.     

Trim the letters
Trim each letter and make sure each square will fit on the top of your tile.

Paint a thin layer of Mod Podge on tile

Adhere each letter
Adhere each letter square to the tiles.  Using a foam brush, "paint" a very thin layer of Mod Podge to the top of one tile.  Next, place a letter square on top of the tile.  You won't have a lot of time because the thin layer of Mod Podge will dry quickly.  So, make sure your letter square is straight.  Use a brayer or your fingers and gently rub the paper onto the tile.  Bubbles are the enemy here, so take your time and make sure there aren't any under the paper.  Adhere each letter square in this fashion.  Once you've completed each letter, go back to the first square and double check there are no bubbles.  Then, "paint" a thicker layer of Mod Podge on top.  Complete another layer on each tile.  Let dry between layers.  For "LORA," I  used two layers of Mod Podge.

Sticky back felt
Once the tiles are dry, it's time to prepare the backs for a felt or cork covering.  I used cork for one set of tiles, but I found it a bit harder to work with than sticky back felt.  One package of Prestofelt costs less than $2.00 and is enough to cover four tiles.

Prepare the backs

Adhere the felt
Although the felt has a sticky back, I decided to use a couple of globs of super glue for extra strength.  I placed globs of glue in each corner and one in the middle.  I cut the correct size before removing the paper back from the felt.  Then place the felt on the backs of each tile square.  Super easy!

Seal each tile
It's time to seal the tiles, which will make them water proof.  Take them outside if possible for this step.  The sealant is pretty stinky.  Spray a layer of sealer on each tile.  Let dry and spray another layer.  I used two layers, but you can do however many looks good to you.  Keep in mind, however, that the more layers, the more tacky it may feel.  Also, you run the risk of bubbles...they are the enemy!

Let the tiles dry completely.  That's it!

Obviously you can make more tiles if the name you want to spell out is longer.  A black and white version would also be very attractive.  Really, the possibilities are endless...imagine using photos of a bridal couple to give as a wedding gift or photographs of your kids to give to the grandparents as gifts.  These are a very simple and inexpensive project that makes a great personal gift!

I hope you give this project a try!


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Monday, December 5, 2011

Finding Christmas MoJo

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  And feeling like it, too!  I must confess.  I usually begin the holiday season with great intentions for being "Christmasy," but I always fall short and end up feeling a little "Scroogish" by Christmas day.  I'm not sure why, but I suspect it is a combination of the stress of shopping, fighting the crowds, money (spending it), as well as realizing that I'll never actually attain that same Christmas feeling I had as a child.  This year, however, I'm feeling the spirit.  I'm on a roll!  Don't tell anyone, but I've been listening to Christmas music...and might even been singing a few songs, too!  I've been crafting, sewing, decorating and baking!  I can't wait to show you a few of the presents I've made, but first, what do you think of the awesome cork board pictured above?  Meaghan, my Handmade Gift Exchange partner sent me a box of goodies which included the hand painted frame with an inserted cork board, handmade push pins that look like vintage typewriter keys, plus shells from the Outer Banks and hot cocoa mix from England!  I absolutely love everything she sent.   If you missed the photographs of the journal cover I sent Meaghan, have a look at this previous post.  Participating in the Craftaholics Anonymous gift exchange has been such a great experience.  I'm so happy I have gotten to know Meaghan; I feel I've made a true friend.  Thanks again to Meaghan for the thoughtful gifts and to Linda for hosting the exchange!  

If you are a Pinner, no doubt you've seen the pins about making your own coasters using ceramic tiles, Mod Podge and scrapbook paper.  In the last few days, I've made two sets of coasters to give as gifts.  I made the first set of four using scrapbook paper.  I backed these with cork I had on hand.

I tried something a bit different for the next set of four.  Instead of using patterned scrapbook paper, I used regular paper that I had a printed individual letters onto.  Again on Pinterest,  I found a link to a Flickr collection of letter photographs.  After scrolling through hundreds of l's, o's, r's, and a's, I found the perfect letters to spell out, "Lora."  I printed these letters and adhered them onto my 16 cent tiles.

I backed these tiles with felt.  I really like how the turned out.  I will be posting a "how to" in the coming days if you are interested in making your own.  So, stay tuned!

Besides the coasters, I  completed a few sewing projects, too.  I've made two French press cozies with matching mug rugs, as well as a zebra print pillow.  (I forgot to photograph the mug rugs)  


Wow, where has the time gone?  I haven't even gotten to show you the goodies I've been baking up!  I must run for now, but look for a few scrumptious Christmas candy recipes, as well the tutorial for my version of tile coasters in my next post!

I hope you are enjoying this Holiday Season.  I know the Holidays can be difficult at times for some, including myself, but, at least for the moment, I have found my Christmas Spirit...and I'm holding on tight!  

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Handmade Gift Exchange

In my last post, I told you a little about the Craftaholics Handmade Gift Exchange.  Today, I am super excited because I get to show you the gifts I made for my partner, Meaghan!  But first, let me say, "thanks" to Linda of Craftaholics Anonymous for hosting this exchange.  Through her, and the gift exchange, I "met" Meaghan!  We've been corresponding for the past several weeks and I feel I've made a true friend!  The photo at the top of this post is of the journal cover I made for Meaghan.  I used TAP (Transfer Artist Paper) to transfer the vintage lady image.  I embellished the image with small beads.  I tea dyed the doily and attached it using a vintage button.  By the way, I sewed the journal cover to fit a standard sized composition notebook.  If interested, leave a comment or send me an email and I will detail the specific dimensions and sewing directions.

Besides the journal cover I sewed.  I tried my hand at a little jewelry making.  You might remember I tried making a dictionary necklace charm a few weeks ago using Dimensional Magic Mod Podge.  That project didn't exactly turn out, but for Meaghan's charm, I used better quality paper and a different kind of bezel.  I also added a few bits of bling!  This time, success!


Again, I'm so happy I participated in this gift exchange.  It's been wonderful getting to know Meaghan, who lives in one of my most favorite places, North Carolina!  I'm so pleased that she likes the gifts I made for her and I am excited to see what she has made for me!  My package is on its way to my neck of the woods.  I will post about it when it arrives.  In the meantime,  please jump over to Craftaholics Anonymous and have a look at all the fabulous handmade gifts made and exchanged all over the country!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Transfer Artist Paper (TAP) Project

Where to begin?  I've gone nearly another week between posts!  I'm afraid I've been a slacker blogger of late.  I'm sorry.  I promise to get my blogging act together!  So what have I been doing this past week?  Well, besides the torture, I mean, physical therapy, I organized a birthday party for my now seven year old daughter!  The party was a success...even the cheetah print cakes!  I also got a bit of sewing done.   I  completed a couple of projects for my Craftaholics Anonymous Handmade Gift Exchange partner.  Unfortunately, I can't show you what I made for her just yet, but I can show you a few other sewing gifts I've made this past week.  Be sure to check out all the handmade gifts exchanged at Craftaholics Anonymous in the coming weeks!  My partner should be receiving her gifts soon!  I hope she loves them!  I can't wait to see what she has made for me, too!

A Fairy Journal Cover

Spaceship Ear Bud Case

Spaceship Ear Bud Case (back view)

I made the Fairy Journal cover for my friend, Molly.  (I hope she isn't reading this post!)  I used TAP (Transfer Artist Paper) to transfer the fairy image.  I must say, I was pretty impressed with TAP.  The image transferred to the canvas fabric perfectly!  I embellished the image using beads and embroidery.  I made the ear bud case for her little boy, Tucker.  I found the pattern and tutorial for the case at Dog Under My Desk blog via Craft Gossip.  I think it turned out cute and it was really easy, and quick, to sew.  These are great for using up fabric scraps and would make great stocking stuffers, too!

For all you readers in the United States, have a terrific Thanksgiving.  Enjoy your day of turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and of course pumpkin pie!  I made a "practice" pie a few days ago...


I also made a fantastic meal of chicken and dumplings this week.  The recipe would also be great for your leftover turkey.  

I leave you with my mom's recipe for awesome dumplings:

4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
pinch salt
flour until stiff
Drop in boiling soup and cook for about 15 minutes

Happy Thanksgiving!
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ups and Downs

Geisha Girl Cosmetic Bag (Flat Bottomed)
Surfer Girls Cosmetic Bag (Flat Bottomed)
Wow!  It's been awhile!  I've been MIA for over a week.  I cannot say the reason for my absence is that I've been busy creating, sewing, baking, or doing anything fun.  In fact, the only thing I've been busy doing is physical therapy.  Having this new knee is a lot of work!  "They" said I'd have ups and downs in my recovery.  The last couple of weeks have been full of "downs."  I've been going to torture therapy sessions three times a week, which actually does help, but geesh, I'm ready to be back to normal!

When not at therapy (or napping), I have been working on a few projects, mostly presents for upcoming birthdays and Christmas.  I made the two image transfer cosmetic bags above and added them to my Etsy Shop last week.  I've completed half of a poncho I've been knitting for my daughter.  Her birthday is in a couple of weeks.  I've also done a little more freezer paper stenciling.

This time, I used sparkle acrylic paint mixed with textile medium to create fabric paint.  I've never tried this technique before.  I think it worked pretty well, although the fabric is a little stiffer than had I used regular fabric paint.  This t-shirt is for my step-daughter, Samantha.  She is involved with a dance troupe at her college.  I hope she likes it!

A few nights ago I read a jewelry tutorial at Marla Plain and Small.  Marla's tutorial describes how to make jewelry charms using Dimensional Magic Mod Podge.  I tried the technique using a silver necklace bail and paper I cut from a thesaurus.

The Dimensional Magic is actually some pretty cool stuff.  It really does add dimension and the charm would have been really cool had I not used such a thin piece of paper.  I think the poor quality of paper is the reason why the words on the reverse side can be seen.  I will definitely try this again, but I will use higher quality paper, maybe even laminated?  If any of you have used this product, let me know.  I'd love some pointers!
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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Still Wild: Fusing Plastic!

In my last post, I managed to "build stitched layers" successfully!  So, next up to try out of the Sew Wild book is Fusing Plastic! Author Alisa Burke writes that "plastic bags are easy to transform with heat."  "When fused together, they create a versatile and strong surface that you can paint, alter, and use in mixed-media and sewing projects."  Burke goes on to say that she likes to use Target bags for her plastic fusing projects.  Unfortunately for me, I could only find one of these bags in my house.  What can I say?  I'm more a Walmart shopper.  I have a million Walmart bags, but these bags are mostly all white (and boring), so I decided to use a few plastic sacks from my daughter's favorite store, Justice.



The instructions for this technique begin on page 68.  There are basically 6 steps in this process.  First, collect your plastic sacks and cut the bottoms and the handles off.  Next, stack the bags on top of a scrap piece of fabric.  Smooth out any wrinkles and then place another piece of scrap fabric on top.  With your iron on low, "press slowly back and forth across the surface."  Once the pieces are fused together, remove the scrap fabric pieces and your fused plastic is "ready to stitch or paint."

So, was it really this easy?  Yes, for the most part.  However, I think because the Justice bag plastic is heavier or thicker than that of Target or Walmart bags, the low setting on my iron didn't cut it.  I had to crank it up a bit and press relatively hard to achieve fusion.  Using a zigzag stitch and hot pink thread, I made a quick wallet using my fused plastic.

I didn't plan it, but I like how the words, "be positive" and "share your light" ended up on the inside of the wallet.  Pretty cool huh?

Okay, another Sew Wild project completed!  What's next?  How about glue resist?!  Sounds fun!

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sewing Wild

Sew Wild by Alisa Burke

I've gone wild!  Well, maybe unrestrained might be a better word to describe my stitching style for the past couple of days.  A few weeks ago, I bought Alisa Burke's Sew Wild.  This book is about Burke's style, her process and "messy approach to sewing."    Throughout the first part of the book, Burke describes different surface design techniques including using paints and inks, dyes, glue and bleach.  Burke discusses different stitching tools and is a big advocate of using the darning needle, or free motion foot, on your sewing machine.  She also explores color theory and pattern.  There is also a section in the book about finding inspiration for your design.  Burke uses a variety of techniques to create several different projects, including a hat, bag, scarf, and a quilt.  Burke encourages us to Go Wild!

I decided to release my inner wild woman and create a panel of stitched layers.  This lesson begins on page 82.  Basically sew bits and pieces of fabric, in layers, on top of a background fabric.  Burke uses her own fabrics, those she has created using paints, dyes, etc.  Since I haven't created my own fabrics, I used scraps left over from my Mug Rug.  I started with about a 12" X 12" piece of muslin, backed with batting,  and then began laying out my scraps in a rough layout.

I stitched the scraps down using straight and zig zag stitches.  Next, I took smaller scraps and placed them on top, in between to fill in the spaces.  I sewed these pieces with varying stitches as well.  I got a little messy wild here.

Before I was finished, I sewed even more black lines all over the piece!  I decided to make a little bag, so I cut a square from the piece and whipped up a 4" X 4" Shabby Chic Scrap Coin Purse.  I added a little frayed edged fabric flower.  I've added this little purse to my Etsy Shop!


Although I'm pleased with my results, I must say it wasn't that easy for me to get Wild and Messy!  Don't get me wrong, I've been known to "wing" some sewing instructions and measurements, but purposely being messy is hard!  It was difficult to "let go," but it was fun.  I really like this book and will definitely try more techniques, including stenciling, masking, and monotype printing!  So, look for more posts about the projects in Sew Wild.  First up:  Fusing Plastic!  Doesn't that sound fun?!  I'm off to round up Target bags!

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P.S.  Thanks for the positive feedback regarding the Sew Loquacious Handmade Holiday.  Remember, you can add any handmade holiday post by completing the link information on the Handmade Holiday page!