I have been so lazy lately.  My husband had surgery and getting him through all of that was draining. By the time he was better, all I wanted to do was nap. So I napped for the better part of two weeks. Then, I got started doing little things, but avoided the computer.

Then, my daughter announced she wants to have an Anime Murder Mystery Party. Everything for this party has to be created from scratch! I’ve been trying different foods and recipes (no pictures) and party favors (again, no pictures). Things are coming together. Slowly.

sootspritesI made a trio of soot sprites out of felt, which is very easy. If you want to make them all you need to do is make a pattern (basically six ovals all of the same size) or search for a pattern online. You may need to adjust the pattern to the size you want. Cut out your felt, sew it together three sections at a time. Make sure to leave an opening in your ball to add stuffing, and then sew up or glue the back. The eyes are just felt circles glue together and then to the “face.” I will set them next to a bowl of Konpeita with a sign that reads: “Please do not feed the soot sprites.”

I plan to make more plushies as party favors for Alexis and her friends.


I decided to make the invitations with a Death Note theme.

I decided to make the invitations with a Death Note theme.

While most of the communicating the kids do for parties and such are throw social media and cell phones, paper invitations are still appreciated by parents. So I made them myself. I made fold over cards on card stock. The outside has all of the information the parents will need: date, time, address. The interior (shown) here features information the teenagers will need.

To make the I inverted the color from a scan of the Death Note DVD set. Then, I used a website to generate the Death Note style font. I did not install the font on my computer. I am not sure how safe that is, but I did type in my words, save the graphic it generated, and then combined the various script graphics into the invitation. Each set of words was limited to 40 characters. The result was a lot of layering in Photoshop.

I wish more anime themed things were available easily in our area, but there it is.


Spoonflower Drawing Challenge, Day 1


I admit, I cannot draw well. My doodles are generally undecipherable to me. When I make a cross stitch design on paper, I use a combination of Photoshop to start, graphing paper to find my stitches, and cross stitching software to finish. Still, I have some ideas for reverse appliqué that will need somewhat more legible drawings. So when Spoonflower issued a challenge to draw everyday for 30 days I decided to give it a try. My skills can only get better, after all.

Day 1: Cactus



My Obsession With Romeo and Juliet


The Reconciliation of the Montagues and Capulets over the Dead Bodies of Romeo and Juliet: Frederic Leighton [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Reconciliation of the Montagues and Capulets over the Dead Bodies of Romeo and Juliet: Frederic Leighton [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I have not always been a fan of Romeo and Juliet. I was an early overachiever and first read a version, not Shakespeare’s, of the tale when I was in the fourth grade. I voraciously read anything I could get my hands on, and I didn’t like everything I read including Romeo and Juliet. They seemed to me at the time as two people who had poor decision-making skills. And why would you throw your life away for something as silly as love?

In the ninth grade, because I think everyone has to read Shakespeare’s version around that age, we read the play in school. I was not excited. We had to memorize part of the play and perform it in front of class. I was not excited. But I dutifully memorized Juliet’s part in Act II, Scene I. I didn’t dislike it after that. I understood what she was experiencing more. Then, we watched Franco Zeffirelli’s movie version, and I enjoyed it. I still didn’t necessarily like Romeo or Juliet. They still displayed poor decision-making skills, after all.

The change came as a senior in high school when we were, not excitedly, forced to perform Act 3, Scene 5 – a play about a group of teenagers rehearsing Romeo and Juliet for a school production. The play breaks down act 3, scene 5, and Shakespeare’s work is performed in its entirety within the play. Doing that play, and against performing as Juliet, I finally fell in love with the source material. I still thought Romeo and Juliet could have done things differently and had their happy-ending, but I no longer loathed them as individuals.

That began my consumption of every Romeo and Juliet production I could find. I have seen the play many times. I have seen the movies multiple times. I informed my husband that I would be seeing Romeo and Juliet with Hailee Steinfeld in the theater a few years ago. He surprised by taking me and holding my hand as I cried when they (spoiler) died again.

I particularly enjoy derivative works of the story. So it is should come as no surprise that I love the anime Romeo x Juliet. It is a loose adaptation of the classic tale, so the story does not always unfold in an expected way. (Spoiler) Though it does still have a heartbreaking ending.

The image I have been toying with to make the perfect cross stitch.

The image I have been toying with to make the perfect cross stitch.

The past six months or so, I have had this idea that I want to do a Romeo x Juliet cross stitch.I made a few that weren’t quite right. I tweaked the image I wanted, played with color, and manipulated the design to near perfection. I even bought all fifty colors I would need for my design. I started working on it. It has been slow going because the center just happens to be Juliet’s cheek and lip. I made it a bit complicated and didn’t pay attention to where the center ended up. Sigh. So it has been very slow. I started mid-June and have given it maybe four hours. Then, one of the cats ruined my pattern sheet! And I don’t have a backup because of the hard drive crash. Now, I basically need to start over. Create a new pattern and match the colors I have already purchased to my new design. This is a down side to wanting to create stitched art. If I stuck with pixels or small projects, I could remake this easily like I did with some other designs of mine. Due to the large size and complicated color palate, redoing this is going to be murder. At this time, I am considering reducing the colors to 20. This will reduce the detail considerably, so I am torn.

What do you think I should do? Try to remake the 50 color design or simplify it so I can get back to work?








Make It Yours: Reversible Curtain Sewing


By now, you’ve measured your space and bought or found the fabric you’ll need.

When I said this project was simple; I meant really simple. First, you’ll need to cut out your rectangles to the measurements you made earlier. Measure twice before cutting. Sometimes I measure twice incorrectly. That is really annoying. So just be careful with your measurements.

The example curtain I am using is from Captain America fabric that my daughter wanted. The store only had enough for a single curtain, and it was 42 inches wide. So I adjusted my secondary fabric to 42 inches wide as well. I needed to change fabric the pictures of the original fabric were completely blurry and unusable, so I changed to another pattern. A little cutting with the rotary tool, which I highly recommend when cutting rectangles, and I had my cut pieces.

pinned before sewingNext, pin your two fabric together right sides together. The order for sewing on this project is probably a bit different than you are used to or will be told to do so in the future. I make sure the top and bottom line up perfectly, or as close to perfectly as possible. I sew the top first using a one-half inch seam allowance. Then, I press the seams open. You definitely want these seams pressed open.

Then, I sew the bottom seam allowance of one-half inch. This can be tricky if there was any error in cutting, sewing, or drape that escaped noticed – this happens, don’t worry about it. Press these seams as well, but they don’t have to be open. Next you will need to measure three-to-four inches down from the top on both sides. You will leave this portion open for the curtain rod. It also is big enough to accommodate a hand for turning and enough room to stitch the seam allowance down with the sewing machine later.

pressed outSew both sides leaving the gaps and backstitch a couple stitches at the opening. Press the seams open. You want to press the seams open all the way to the top.

sewing the curtain rod opening downFor the next step, you have a few options. First using your sewing machine, you can sew the seam allowance down being careful not the close the gap or stitch what will be the circle for the curtain rod closed; this is what I do. You can also hand stitch your seams down. This will take longer, but has the advantage of being easier. You can use fabric glue to hold the seams in place; the disadvantage is that you can’t hang your curtain up immediately. Last, you could leave it alone and risk fraying later. It is up to you.

Hang your curtain up, and you are done.

Advanced techniques for this curtain would be to sew a straight line from the bottom of the left side gap to the right side gap. This creates a channel. You can also top stitch around the curtain to give it a more finished look.

captain america curtain marvel character curtain

Make It Yours: Reversible Curtains Preparation

A selection of the boring curtains available in local stores.

A selection of the boring curtains available in local stores.

“Make It Yours” is my series of projects you can do to make your house, and yourself and other items that you own, more friendly to your design tastes. At no time am I going to claim that this is cheaper than the alternatives. For example, if you want curtains for your home, it could be cheaper to buy them. However, you are limited to what you can find pre-made. There might be a custom option that is cheaper than making them yourself too.

For me though, it is generally easier if I just make it myself. Maybe, my tastes run a little too esoteric for prime time.

This week, we’ll learn how to make very simple reversible curtains because I like my curtains to look nice from both sides. Nothing fancy here, a novice can complete this project, and you can have them finished within an hour.

You will need:

  • Sewing machine or hand needles
  • Exterior fabric, yardage will be determined
  • Interior fabric, yardage will be determined
  • Thread to match
  • Pins or bulldog clips

First, measure the width of the window, including any additional area of the wall or window frame you want the curtain to cover. You can also measure the length of your current curtain rod to get an idea. Now, measure a second time just to be sure. Add one inch to your measurement. For example, the window I want new curtains for is 34 inches wide, so my first measurement is 35 inches.

Keep in mind that the width measurement is for a single very simple curtain. With these measurements if you make a single curtain, you will not have much in the way of gathering (folds) when you put your curtain up. Many will want a pair of curtains per window. To determine the width each curtain will need to be, you will need to do a little math. Each curtain should be about 75% of your total width. In my example, I would then need a width of 26.25 inches. Or you could just make two full size curtains have a lot of folds – this technique can be very pretty with lightweight fabrics or cumbersome with heavier ones.

Next, measure the length you want your curtains to be. This is up to personal preference. Perhaps, you want a half-curtain with a valance in your kitchen window, or you want a floor length curtain for the living room or you want the curtain to stop at the end of the sill. Decide and measure; measure again. Remember measure twice, cut once. We’ll repeat this mantra over and over again. Add one inch to your measurement. Add additional inches equal to the depth of your curtain rod if you have a rod that bends around the side of the window. In my example, I have 37 inches that I want to cover. So I need 38 inches.

If you don’t have fabric, now is the time to figure out what you will need. The fabric you purchase factors in your width, and you are limited to the stock on hand there. Most fabric at a typical American fabric shop (local quilt shop, JoAnns, etc) come in widths between 36 to 54. You may find some specialty fabrics come in other widths, so this is just in general. The length of your fabric will determine the number of yards you need. If you need help with the inches to yards math and don’t want to use a calculator, there are all kinds of apps that can help. In general though divide your inches by 36. My measurement ends up being 1.06. I round-up to quarter yards, so I need 1.25 yards of each fabric.

Remember to consider, how many curtains you are making as well. Using my example, if I wanted two panels out of each cut I would need a fabric that is at least 52.5 inches wide. If I fall in love with a fabric that is only 44 inches wide, I will need an additional 1.25 yards (for a total of 2.5 yards) to make two curtains.

Once you have your fabric, launder it. Wash it on the highest temperature the fabric can handle and dry it. This should take care of any shrinkage. My method is to wash my fabric on speed wash with about one-quarter to one-half the normal amount of detergent. Do not use fabric softener. I dry my fabric based on what it is. Then, iron your fabric.

In the next post, I will share step-by-step instructions on making your curtains.