Thursday, January 28

my heart..... artful thursdays #4 valentine envelope tutorial

i adore ruffles. they are so sweet and feminine and make me all nostalgic: sheer ruffled cafe curtains, layered and ruffled crinoline skirts, pink ruffled glass cake stands, little ruffled lace panties for your 3 year old.

so there is no wonder i have been sewing piles of crepe paper ruffles. i finally rolled up a bunch and put them in this jar next to some vintage pink hats i have collected. they are at least a bit contained in the glass and look so fancy.

this week for my artful thursday project (it's not too late for you to join me!) i wanted to make some ruffled valentine envelopes. if you haven't ever tried to sew on paper with your sewing machine check out this sewing on paper tutorial i did a while ago.

gather a few supplies from your stash:
sturdy paper you can sew through, music paper, ledger paper, old notebook paper, etc.
crepe paper, pretty trims, tulle, stamens, paper die cuts, glue, a pencil and some scissors.

i have been making my own envelopes forever because i like interesting paper for an envelope. the easiest way is to take apart an envelope you like, trace it to your paper, cut out and glue. if you need to design your own envelope for something here is a basic easy pattern to get you started.

cut out a scrap paper rectangle 10 inches long and 5 inches wide. fold in half lengthwise. (this gives you your center) measure and mark off with a pencil 1 3/4 inches from left and 6 inches from left. these are your two folds. corner round the two left hand corners. now mark 1 1/4 inches from the right edge of your rectangle. draw a shape like mine and fold paper in half lengthwise and cut. this makes a little dip inside your envelope for your card to show through like this:

trace your envelope template onto your envelope paper with a pencil and cut out. fold the envelope paper like your template. now you are ready to add your paper ruffles or trim. you could also use lace, ric rac, gathered tulle, or ribbon for your ruffle.

open the flap of your envelope and lay it down on some scrap paper. apply a thin line of glue stick along the edge and attach your ruffle. this will hold it in place while you sew. make sure the glue is dry before you start sewing. (if you are not sewing your ruffle use tacky glue instead to attach your ruffle)

after the ruffle is in place open the flap of your envelope and lay it with the envelope opening facing down on your sewing machine. leave the bottom half folded up so you can sew it together. stitch around the ruffle and the three sides of your envelope.

now you are ready to decorate. i glued a bit of tatting over the stitches holding the ruffle in place. (did you just say, "she used what!") yes, part of using up my stash is using lovely pieces of old tatting instead of saving them forever....
this tatting was wound around an old cardboard photo mailing tube with a hand typed label.

tear a piece of old tulle (mine is from an old wedding veil) and glue it to the center of your envelope flap.

next i painted over a vintage heart shaped paper die cut. after it dried i sanded off a bit of paint with an emery board. you can paint any german paper scrap borders this same way. from an old thrift store copy of shakespeare's love sonnets i cut the words my heart and attached them to the heart with some glossy modge podge. this creates a glossy coating and makes your paper die cut a bit more sturdy.

now layer on a few glittered stamens. wire them in the center and glue in place over the tulle. if you don't have any glittered stamens make them with a little glue and some glitter.

last step is to attach your paper heart in place on the envelope flap. since the embossing on my heart is almost 1/8 inch i used some scotch brand foam poster tape.
you did it! you now have your first, completely gorgeous valentine envelope. my guess is now that you have your template you will be making a few more....
go ahead, use up that stash and make someone else feel adored this valentine's day.
xo julie

Wednesday, January 27

sweet violet valentine greeting

i usually stick to a pink and cream or red and cream palette for my valentine creations. this year i was totally inspired by this sweet postcard. it was printed in germany around 1900 on silk! it is rather stained and frayed but i tried color copying the image onto glossy cardstock and was so thrilled with the result!

this is 16 images to a page, each one is 2 1/2 inches tall and 1 1/2 inches wide.

i found this amazing vintage dennison two toned crepe paper on etsy. one side is a faded periwinkle color, the other a soft violet. i gathered it into a ruffle on my sewing machine. when you fold the ruffle in half you get to see both colors.

the tiny vintage violets were wired into a posy and pinned on a vintage hat. imagine wearing such a hat to the market.

my plan is to cut out the tiny cards and sew the ruffle to the top and bottom of the card, back it with some vintage paper i will be able to write a little note on and mail them out in a glassine envelope tied with this pale ribbon.
now i just need to find some violet colored sweets to go with it. hmm....

Thursday, January 21

vintage tablecloth dishtowel....artful thursday #3 tutorial

last february at the art nest candice brought a lovely blue finch dishtowel from anthropologie to hang in the kitchen. it was so pretty and reminded me of the nest so i bought one, for $18.00.

every time one of the boys wiped up spilled oatmeal with it i cringed and considered threatening physical discomfort....
then i found this great vintage daisy tablecloth at a thrift store for $2.00 and i thought why not make a whole drawerful of little pom pom dishtowels!

here is the pile of stuff i gathered from my stash:
vintage daisy tablecloth, pom poms, ball of trim i took off another tablecloth, embroidery threads, bird image.

step 1. cut or tear your tablecloth so it measures 27 inches long by 22 inches wide. don't cut off the selvage edges or tablecloth hems, i just used what was already there and added to it. cut your rectangle around stains and holes.

step 2. copy a bird image onto a page of Avery t-shirt transfer paper then iron it onto a piece of fabric. i chose this this lovely sheer hankie as i liked how the daisies on the tablecloth showed through just a bit.

step 3. hem the edges of your dishtowel by ironing the edges under 1/4 inch, then roll that over and iron. stitch along the folds. i added a little seam binding loop as i was hemming the edges. less bulk than a tablecloth strip i thought. plus a great way to add some surprise color.

step 4. fold under the bottom edge and sew the pom pom trim on using two lines of stitching to secure.

step 5. fold your dishtowel like you will to hang it to figure out where you want to sew your bird image. pin in place.

step 6. use embroidery thread and sew little x's around the outside, french knots, and running stitches to outline the leaves.

won't these pretty glasses look great with my new dishtowel?

i will have to do a part 2 titled 'all from one tablecloth' as i have a feeling i will keep right on sewing with this great fabric. mama magpie posted on her blog today about making a beautiful laundry sorter with her old tablecloth.
i hope you dig out one of your vintage linens and make something happy this week, julie

Wednesday, January 20

tiny book swap ***swap is full*** thank you!

***SWAP IS FULL*** thank you!

here is the news on my first little swap of the year. if you read my last artful thursday post you saw the tiny birthday wishes books i made.
i already gave out two of them to friends with birthdays, it was so fun. i added a bit of glass glitter to the little birthday candle flame and tied it with some tinsel string. then i slid the book into a tiny cellophane envelope and tied it to a tissue paper bundle.

here are the tiny book swap details in case you want to join:
**make your own little 8 page book. sign your initials on the back cover so we know which one was yours. i will send along the names of all the authors so you can visit them online. you can use any theme or topic you want for your book. color copy your books, cut them out, and fold them up. you can decorate them with a bit of paint or glitter if you like. my finished book measures 2 inches wide and just a hair over 2 5/8 inches tall. no worries if yours turns out a bit bigger or smaller :)

**mail your tiny books to me in a sturdy envelope with $3.00 for postage and packaging by February 1st.

**i will mail you back one of each of the tiny books in the swap. your tiny package will arrive by valentine's day filled with little stories and warm wishes.

i am thinking i will make a little hard cover book to house all my tiny books. maybe with clear hair elastics in the spine so each book can be opened to the middle and slid under the little elastic band.

post me a little note to my email at to let me know you want to play or with any questions and i will update you on how many books to make and where to send them.
i already have cassondra, elise, marina, valarie, lynn, michelle, kristin, jennifer, cathy, cristina, connie, song, michele, tina, stacy, nicole, susan, vesna, suzanne, jenn, rachel, kara, jamie, cheryl, leslie, lori, and kristi on the list.
have fun, julie

Thursday, January 14

birthday wishes....artful thursdays #2 tiny book tutorial

welcome to artful thursday no. 2. i have a new artful thursday button designed by rachelle and a new list of regular artful thursdays blogs for you to check out on the left. stop by and see what Hope, Elise, Michele, Lilia, Tammy,and Jennifer made today.

i have had the papers to make one of these little birthday books collected and stacked on my desk for an entire year now. today is the day, especially since my baby sister kris and i are both celebrating our birthdays today! she was born on my 10th birthday. when i got home from school for my party that day no one was home. my nice (but scary) next door neighbor came over and said i could sit in her front room until someone came home for me. mrs. lewis' front room was not for kids. i sat there without swinging my legs against her orange floral couch for maybe hours. it was definitely a tragedy. but now i have this amazing sister. she is a true kindred spirit and a cunning planner just like myself. it was worth it to miss out on one little birthday so i could share so many other birthdays with her.

i thought it would be fun to have these little birthday books all ready to mail out to friends and family on their special day this year. (ok, look surprised if you happen to get one of these this year and you are reading my blog)

get started by collecting 8 tiny scraps of paper 2 by 3 inches from your stash. i used vintage papers from old ledgers and thrift store notebooks and journals.

the set up for this project is the only tricky part. if you are sloppy with your measuring and cutting your little book won't fold up and look right. the pages will overlap in the folds and drive you crazy.

1. fold a piece of white printing paper in half for your template. measure off 1/4 inch along both long sides of the paper and along one end. these are the red lines. this will give you a little wiggle room for printing.

bring the middle fold up to the top red line and crease the paper. this will divide the paper in half for the pages of your book.

2. the next step is to fold the paper in half lengthwise and crease. you now have 4 rectangular sections shown divided by the black lines.

3. now fold in half each of the four rectangle spaces by bringing each red side line to the center and fold and crease your paper. these folds are the green lines. do they look green?

well now you have your 8 sections ready to fill in with paper. cut and glue in each page so the edges are nice and straight. this is my birthday book with the 8 pages and cover decorated.

i numbered the pages to show you which way each page should be facing. the cute red labels are from lilia and are in her shop. when you are designing your book pages 1 and 2 are facing pages, as are 3 and 4, and 5 and 6.

after decorating all 8 pages your book looks a bit like this:

take it to the copy center and color copy your book, ask for '2 up', this means each full page will have two books printed on it.

cut out around each book and fold along the lines. this site shows how to cut the center slit and fold your book up. I like to use a glue stick to hold the pages together and add a few touches of glass glitter to add some sparkle.

voila! i have a ready to go stack of little birthday surprises to mail. i left some space on the back cover to write a little note.

hey, this is going to be my first swap of the year. make a tiny book, copy and fold up 24 copies, mail them to me and i will send you 24 tiny books back.
and check it out mine is already done.... i'll figure out the swap details and post them next week. or if you just want a copy and don't want to swap, send $2 for printing and postage to my paypal @ and i will mail you a tiny copy of birthday wishes. don't forget to include your snail mail address.

happy artful thursday, julie

Wednesday, January 13

thinking cap

i have had my thinking cap on this week. i love it when the creative ideas come faster than i know what to do with them... i am even thinking about hosting a few swaps this year. (what am i crazy?)

it must be the hat. i bought this wool felt cloche from anthropologie last month. i hated the cotton flowered band that came on it so my plan was to unpick it and sew something else in its place. when i started to take the cotton band off i found it had been hot glued in place!! the stitching must have been just for decoration. i ended up spending an hour ripping off the band and picking off all the glue. finally the hat was bare and i was able to tie around the band this piece of silk, i added a few vintage seam binding loops and then a lovely rhinestone pin yellowed with age.

now this is a hat! i wear it out in this horrid foggy weather with my vintage coat and a pair of gray gloves made in japan in the 50's that have little pearls sewn to the cuffs. sweet.

Thursday, January 7

artful thursdays challenge and flower clip tutorial

thursdays have always been my favorite day... this year i have started a new feature on my blog. it will be titled 'artful thursdays' and will come with an open invitation for you to join me every thursday this whole year. it all started with three things:

1. i am a wonderful shopper of vintage treasures. i enjoy sifting through old grandma sewing baskets, crumbling cardboard boxes filled with old letters, and dimly lit antique stores. this has resulted in #2.
2. i am being buried alive with all my cool stuff. the carpet has surrendered to towering piles. this leads to #3.
3. my studio is slimming down this year. it is time to either use the cool stuff i have collected or send it on its way.

here is the artful thursday challenge: pick a project you have been wanting to try or an idea that has been patiently waiting for just the right time. gather your materials, experiment a bit, and post about it. your post doesn't need to be a tutorial, just show us how your artful day went.
dig into all those cool treasures you have collected. then at the end of the year we will both have 52 cool things made out of stuff that would have just been otherwise hanging out in a dark box or suitcase. i love the idea...

hopefully you will think this is just the inspiration you need to live a more artful life and you will take the artful thursday challenge. send me an email at and i will add your blog to the artful thursday blog list on my side bar reserved for the regulars.

or if you want to just post once in a while leave a link to your post in the comments section of the most recent artful thursday post so we can visit. here is my artful thursdays button made by my talented niece rachelle:

i thought of a few things that will help me get ready for thursday each week. pick up my sketchbook again and start writing and sketching ideas. one friend i talked to about this project said she was worried if she got digging through her stuff she would spend the whole day sorting. right, i can see myself doing the same thing so i plan to gather the supplies i will be using during the week so they are all ready on my desk thursday morning. also how about a little wednesday night straighten up in my studio. all that is left is to pick a time for thursday and plan not to answer the phone.

the inspiration:

i bought this sheer dress off the $5 rack from a vintage clothing store. it has gorgeous aqua flowers but the dress was stained and fraying beyond repair. i have kept it around thinking it would make the greatest little flowers. well today is the day especially after getting the january anthropologie catalog yesterday. love this sweater!

here is my collection of things i thought might be fun to use. circles cut from the vintage dress, an old wedding veil and some lovely silk. i also set out some glass beads, velvet flowers, thread, tinsel, and some funky old hair clips. (i bought all they had and have been storing them all ever since. that lady worries me.)

first step is to set up an old birthday candle and lightly melt the edges of your circles. this glitter bottle worked just as well as some sand and was handy.
any man made fiber will melt and curl: polyester, rayon, and nylon. natural fibers just burn and turn to ash. wool, cotton, and linen. burning plastic is toxic so ventilate.

the circle on the left is perfect, the circle on the right got cooked a bit too much and feels crunchy. each fabric will melt differently so experiment and plan for a bit of shrinkage.

here is the hair clip with the first two circle sewn on. sew around the clip several times to secure and use a dot of tacky glue if needed to hold in place. (no glue gun)

i even burned around the tulle a bit. hold the tiny circles in a set of tweezers to keep your fingers happy.

layer on a bit of tinsel, tulle, and more sheer flower petal layers.

here is how the silk burns. just rub the edges with your fingers to remove the ash.

sew on the tiny seed beads for the center. i like the blue thread in the taupe beads.

finished clip on a vintage music paper oval. try a bigger flower for your hair or a pin for a scarf. hope you will join me next week. julie

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