Wednesday, 31 October 2012

My Creative Space - A Family Tree Bracelet

There has been a lot going on in my creative space this week now that I am feeling better healthwise and my trusty sewing machine, Bernadette/Bernie, is back with me from the sewing machine service centre.  But I thought I would share my family tree bracelet and a quick "how to" for putting one together for yourself.  I should add that this bracelet was inspired by this post over at Twirling Betty, and by my desire to have a personalised bracelet which included my family's initials, especially my dad's, because I'm still coming to terms with losing him far too soon.

My bracelet is made up of six ceramic bisque connectors which I painted and embellished myself.  I have a small wrist and only included my parents, my children and hubs and myself, so the six ovals were enough to make a bracelet for me (along with some long oval jump rings).  Those with larger wrists or more family members will either need to include more ovals or add beads between each oval.
I found painting these small oval very fiddly and  would definitely recommend stringing up each piece on some sort of wire to help with painting, if you want to paint both sides like I did (I ended up dangling my ovals on pins attached to a solid cardboard box).  I used acrylic paints from my local craft store, though I'm sure any acrylic paint you own would do the job.  After allowing the paint to dry, I used a silver roller gel pen to write each person's full initials per oval.  If you're from a family of multiple initials, like I am (my dad has five initials and most of the rest of us have four), you'll have to squish your writing up a bit to fit in all the initials.  Alternatively, you could just write or stamp each person's first initial per oval.

Each oval was finished off with a clear gloss coating to protect the writing and paint.  I should have used a low odour spray varnish for my final coat, but it was a windy day when I made this bracelet and I opted to use clear nailpolish as my "varnish".  I know, it was a foolish thing to do, and I had to open a lot of windows to get rid of the fumes.  I should apologise for the smudged look of the initials of my bracelet.  In real life, the initials are silver and crisp, but I blurred them in the photos to protect the identities of my family members (because we superheroes do that, LOL).
Thanks for sticking with me on this long and indulgent post.  Would you make a "family tree" bracelet for yourself or another family member?  And if you would, who's names or initials would you include?

Monday, 29 October 2012

Things I Love

image Florentine Cutaway Scroll Body Resonator Guitar

 I don't know if I have mentioned this on the blog before, but did you know that I started learning to play the piano at the tender age of four?  Besides the fact that it is easier to take on this kind of endeavour at a young age, my parents enrolled me in music lessons because they noticed that would make up little dances to the supermarket muzak whenever we went shopping and that I apparently had a real sense of rhythm and music.  Sometimes I think that perhaps they should have enrolled me for dance classes, but knowing how uncoordinated I am, music was probably the better choice!

image Map of the World Map from Old Sheet Music Art Print

Anyway, fast forward cough thirty-one years, and I am grateful that my parents made the effort to give me a grounding in musical appreciation.  From the little girl who would dance to shopping centre music, I have grown into a woman who loves most musical styles, with my CD and MP3 collection ranging from classical music through to all sorts of rock, pop, dance and jazz.  I do, however, draw the line at country and western music, he he he.

image Music iPhone case

 But I don't just love listening to music, I also love all things handmade related to music.  I love wonderfully handcrafted instruments, carved busts of famous composers and music-themed accessories and jewellery.  Of course, being a pianist I especially love anything piano-related, though I do love the look and sound of stringed instruments too, especially the cello.  So what about you?  Do you play an instrument (or instruments)?  Or do you just wistfully enjoy the beauty of others' performances or music-themed creations?

image Baby Grand Piano Bookcase

Friday, 26 October 2012

How to use baker's twine...other than tying up packages, I mean!

image crochet button anklet baker's twine blue aqua pink grey

As I looked back over this year's posts, I noticed that there have been a lot of posts commenting on how illness had affected my creating for the week.'s post is, unfortunately, no different.  But in spite of catching Mr Cheeky Monkeys' bronchitis germs, I have managed to create quite a bit this week.  Or maybe that's because falling ill has meant that I've had to sit around and enjoy the sunshine rather than going out for my regular exercise run!

image crochet button garland baker's twine brown vintage pink grey

So while I sat in the sunshine watching the cheeky monkeys running around the garden the other day, I had a little play with an idea that's been in my head for a while - using gorgeous baker's twine for crochet projects.  I recently received a large spool of twine from my friend Chibi Run and the cheeky monkeys have been pretty keen for me to share it with them.  My first non-packaging use for this pretty twine was as a fun button garland.  This delicate garland was really easy to put together - I simply strung a stack of buttons onto the twine then chain stitched a long chain, occasionally incorporating a button into the crochet.  If I'd thought properly about it, I would have crocheted a loop at the start and end of the garland for ease of hanging.

image crochet button garland baker's twine

I also made some summery anklets for the cheeky monkeys using the same technique, simply adding a clasp to the ends for wear.  You could easily make bracelets or necklaces this way too, or turn your garland of buttons into an embellishment for a gift.  Though that would technically mean that you are using baker's twine for packaging...   ;)

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

My Creative Space

image baked chocolate cheesecake

As with last week, there hasn't been much Two Cheeky Monkeys or Domum Vindemia creating this week, especially now that my sewing machine has been sent for a long overdue service.  Instead, I have spent my week making things for the various members of the Two Cheeky Monkeys family.  Firstly, I made a baked chocolate cheesecake to help Mr Cheeky Monkeys celebrate his birthday.  Like all the cakes I make, this one was not particularly pretty, but it was pretty delicious, tempting even the cheesecake-despising little cheeky monkeys to give it a try.

image doily apron skirt yellow white purple bow poetica serenad moon light art gallery fabrics rhapsodia mystic aura fields patricia bravo

I also finally had time to make some skirts for the cheeky monkeys, even though my sewing machine was having little hissy fits and demanding that she be sent for a servicing.  The monkeys chose all of the fabrics themselves, though there was a slight hiccup with our fabric order, which turned out to be fortuitous in the end (long story short, we ended up receiving the purple Poetica fabric for free, allowing me to use it as an accent waistband).

image doily apron bow skirt poetica fabric sweet melody aqua art gallery serenade moon light purple

I was left with the task of designing and creating the skirts, which, though the design looks fairly straightforward, took me a while to wrap my head around the "how to" part!  I have to say that, although I am normally very nervous about mixing and matching different fabric prints, I am really pleased with the final results and the cheeky moneys are pretty ecstatic with their new "apron" skirts.  So what have you been making this week?  Have you been madly creating for others, or have you been working on stocking up your online (or B+M) store for the Christmas shopping rush?

Monday, 22 October 2012

A little salad in my garden

image coral lettuce salad garden

I love growing edibles such as herbs and vegetables in my garden (actually, I love having Mr Cheeky Monkeys growing edibles in our garden...) and I get a real thrill from harvesting something we've grown to add to our lunch or dinner.  So I was highly amused when I discovered that last year's lettuces had self-sown not only around the herb garden, but also in the middle of the rather inhospitable bark-covered area where my children ride their bikes and play.  This little clump of coral lettuces is just one such group of interlopers, but I don't mind, I'm just happy to have lettuces growing in my garden.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Sweet Bow Necklace Tutorial

image asymmetrical fabric bow necklace two cheeky monkeys

Today's post is the last of my fabric bow tutorials for the time being.  Sad, I know, but as the end of the year approaches, my life gets increasingly crazy.  Anyway, as you may know, I have a penchant for asymmetrical designs, especially necklace designs. So I thought I would show you how to put together an asymmetrical fabric bow necklace.  This is a super quick tutorial and can be adapted to produce several different necklace looks.

- fabric to make your bow, or one ready made bow
- small felt scrap to match your bow
- delicate jewellery chain in your preferred necklace length (I made mine to be 60cm long), or you can purchase a premade chain from a craft store or supplier
- one jewellery clasp, bolt ring or lobster clasps work well
- jump rings
- jewellery pliers

1.  Make your fabric bow; you can use either a no sew or a sewn bow method, whichever you prefer.  I recommend making a teeny bow for the asymmetrical necklace as this will lessen the tendency of the bow to follow gravity to the middle of your chest rather than staying to one side.  I used a bow which had a final size of approximately 3.5 x 1.5 cm.

image how to make a fabric bow necklace

2. Skip this step if you already have a pre-made chain necklace.  Attach the jewellery clasp to one end of your jewellery chain then attach the clasp closure to the other end of your chain.  If your clasp did not come with a matching tag or jump ring closure, simply attach a large jump ring to the other end of your chain.

image attach jewellery clasp and closure to your chain to make a necklace

3. Put on your newly made necklace chain and decide where you would like your bow to sit.  Mark this spot with a marker pen or tiny piece of tape and take the necklace off.  Cut the felt scrap into a small rectangle which will just cover the back of the bow centre.  Put a dab of fabric glue on the back of the bow and attach it perpendicular to your necklace chain at the spot you previously marked (make sure to remove your piece of tape before you do this).  Then glue your felt scrap to the back of the bow to hide the chain.

image how to make a fabric bow necklace glue the bow onto the necklace chain

4. Allow your glue to dry and then wear your new necklace with pride!  You can subtly change the look of the bow necklace by attaching the bow lengthwise to the chain.  Those who like to make a statement with their jewellery could make a large bow and attach it to the lowest point of the necklace to give a sort of stylised bow tie look!

I thought I would include a photo of myself reluctantly modelling the Sweet Bow necklace, just to give you all a little giggle.  I say reluctantly because I loathe taking self-portraits and I was seriously struggling with the lighting today!  For those of you who don't feel up to making one of these cute necklaces yourself, I will soon be adding a range of them to my stores (see the sidebar) and am happy to take custom orders if you want to contact me via email.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

My Creative Space

image beaded bracelets delicate feather charm macrame arm candy jewellery jewelry

There hasn't been much creating for Two Cheeky Monkeys or Domum Vindemia this week (okay, there hasn't been any creating for my stores), but I have been having fun making more bracelets for myself.  I know, I really don't need any more bracelets, but I am using this as an opportunity to try out or improve on new techniques I've learnt.  This week I've mostly been practising good, old-fashioned macrame knots - focussing on the square knot in particular.
As you can see, the middle most bracelet is simply a series of square knots (made with waxed linen cord) with a simple filigree charm in the centre.  The right most bracelet was made with pretty ceramic beads I was given by a lovely fellow jewellery-maker and I've used a row of square knots to make a sliding closure.  And the little golden bracelet between the two I've already mentioned?  It was so simple to put together I'm embarrassed to admit I have never done it before!  A pretty charm, two lengths of chain and a clasp are all you need to get yourself a cute little bracelet - simple, right?  So have you tried any new creative techniques this week?  Or are they still on your "to do" list?

Monday, 15 October 2012

Things I Love

I have long been fascintated by marine life, perhaps it's the biologist in me, and one marine creature I especially love is the seahorse.  I don't know what it is about them that fascinates me so much.  Maybe it is their rather unique shape, or their relatively small size, or the quirky fact that the males are the ones who gestate and "give birth" to the baby seahorses (now I like that!)  Whatever the fascination, I also find myself drawn to seahorse-related creations, and the ones below are some of my current favourites. Do you love seahorses?  Or do you prefer other sea creatures?

image seahorse art print watercolour watercolor

image seahorse rubber stamp wooden norajane

image seahorse mosaic glass

image seahorse lampwork glass bead

image seahorse cardigan navy blue yellow

Friday, 12 October 2012

How to Sew a Fabric Bow

image fabric bow how to sew

Things have been so busy here at the house of Two Cheeky Monkeys that it was only earlier this week that I realised I had never posted my promised tutorial  for sewing a fabric bow.  Very terribly remiss of me, I know, but never fear, that error is now being corrected!  For those of you who missed the no sew technique for making fabric bows, you can find the tutorial here.

- Two pieces of fabric 1cm wider and longer than your intended bow size
   (e.g. for a 6 x 4cm bow, cut two 7 x 5cm pieces of fabric)
- A small piece of fabric 8cm long and twice the width of  your bow centre
   (e.g. for a 2.5cm wide bow centre, cut a piece 8 x 5cm in size)
- Needle and matching thread
- Sewing machine
- Iron and ironing board (optional)

image fabric pieces for making a bow

image sew your two rectangular pieces together wrong side together fabric bow

1. Take your two rectangular pieces and sew them together, right sides facing, leaving a 0.5cm seam allowance.  Make sure that you leave a small gap in the middle of one long end (see arrow) for turning your bow right side out.

image how to sew a fabric bow tanya whelan sugar hill FreeSpirit

2. Carefully clip the corners of your rectangle, then turn your bow right side out.  If you have a large gap which won't be fully covered by the bow centre band, slipstitch the gap closed for neatness.  Press your rectangle with a hot iron to give a crisper finish.

image how to sew a fabric bow tanya whelan sugar hill FreeSpirit pleat your bow

3. Gently concertina fold your rectangle then pinch it in the middle.  Using your matching thread, sew a few loops of fabric around the middle to keep your bow shape in place.  Although this step is not absolutely necessary, it does help when you are making small and fiddly bows or double bows.

image how to sew a fabric bow tanya whelan sugar hill FreeSpirit prepare bow centre band

4. Iron or finger press the long edges of your remaining piece of fabric towards the centre.  Carefully remove any loose threads hanging over the edges.

image how to sew a fabric bow tanya whelan sugar hill FreeSpirit attach bow centre band

5. Stitch one short end of the bow band to the bottom edge of your bow, making sure that it is centred correctly (use a ruler if, like me, you have spatial orientation issues).  Wrap your bow band once around the bow to cover the centre entirely.

image how to sew a fabric bow hand stitch bow centre in place tanya whelan sugar hill FreeSpirit

6. Cut off excess fabric, leaving a little overhang to turn under and hide the raw edges.  Stitch the loose end of your bow centre in place, making sure that you have covered all raw ends.

image how to sew a fabric bow tanya whelan sugar hill FreeSpirit

7. And there you have it, a quick and easy bow you can sew in next to no time.  As with the no sew bow, you can easily up- or down-size this bow pattern to create larger or smaller bows.  You can also turn your bow into a double bow simply by repeating steps 1-2 and then pleating your two rectangles together before step four.

image how to sew a fabric double bow

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Launching the Domum Vindemia Christmas Range and a Special Offer

image christmas ornaments stockings domum vindemia vintage fabric doilies

For those of you who have been keeping track of my creative space over the last few weeks, you will know that I have been working hard on a Christmas range for Domum Vindemia.  I have to admit it's been hard getting this range ready while the cheeky monkeys were on school holidays and with a never-ending stream of family birthdays and parties to attend (why do people have their kids all at the same time of year???)
image christmas stockings vintage fabric doilies floral purple pink yellow domum vindemia

But, I have finally put together a small selection of Christmas stockings and mini embroidery hoop ornaments, all made with vintage fabric and/or upcycled bed linen, of course!  I also dipped into my stash of lovely vintage doilies and laces and have used some of these to embellish my new range of creations.
image christmas ornaments vintage fabric blue white yellow lace doily domum vindemia
You will be able to find my new Christmas range in both my Etsy and Madeit stores, though each creation is one of a kind, so you have to get in quick to get the exact stocking or ornament you want.  Of course, I am more than happy to make up a custom stocking or hoop ornament should I sell out of the one you want!
To celebrate the launch of my new range, I am offering all my faithful blog readers, subscribers and Facebook fans free shipping on any item purchased from the "Christmas ornaments" range.  Leave me a message stating "FREESHIP CHRISTMAS" in the message to seller at checkout, and I will refund your shipping costs on any stocking or hoop purchased.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

My Creative Space

image embroidery hoop ornament vintage fabric blue flowers doily christmas domum vindemia

Following on from last week's spate of Christmas creating, I have again spent this week working on Christmas creations for Domum Vindemia.  Using the same vintage fabric as I've been using for the Christmas stockings, I have been putting together mini embroidery hoop ornaments.  This is another idea I've had floating around in my head for quite some time; ever since I bought my first lot of  teeny doilies, in fact.
image christmas ornament embroidery hoop vintage fabric red and white flowers doily
As you can see, I have gone for a mix of "traditional" and not so traditional Christmas colours.  And I have embellished each hoop with a teeny tiny vintage doily in a colour which matches the fabric.
image vintage fabric christmas ornament embroidery hoop green roses bed linen chartreuse doily domum vindemia
I think I prefer the non-traditional Christmas colours, but I am really enjoying the creative process involved in making these little hoops.  I'm not sure if that's because I love anything in embroidery hoops or because it's hard to resist anything mini or teeny.

image cupcake stand dessert pedestal christmas reindeer monika heller-cole
For those of you who love my cupcake stands, I managed to find a Christmas-themed teaplate, so that has now been turned into a Christmas cupcake stand!  After I brought this plate home, I discovered that the image on it was created by German artist, Monika Heller-Cole.
So what have you been creating this week?  Have your creations been Christmas-oriented (gifts, decorations, etc)?

Friday, 5 October 2012

Large Bow Headband Tutorial

image large bow headband navy blue circles andover fabrics two cheeky monkeys outfoxed lizzy house alice band

Welcome to the second in my series of bow-related tutorials!  Today I am sharing a quick and simple tutorial for making a large bow headband.  This tutorial can easily be adapted for making headbands with teeny or giant bows or whatever type of bow catches your fancy.

- one plain plastic or metal headband (whichever you prefer)
- one large fabric bow (mine is approximately 18cm long by 4.5 cm wide), see here and here for bow tutorials
- fabric glue (I like to use Gutermann fabric glue)
- felt scraps (optional)

image large bow headband materials fabric glue fabric bow alice band

1. Decide where you want your bow to sit when you are wearing the headband and mark the points at each end of the bow, making sure that your marks will be covered by the bow when it is attached.  I wanted an asymmetrical look for my headband so placed the bow to one side of the headband.  Next spread a generous amount of your fabric glue along the headband, using your marks as guides.

image how to make a fabric bow headband glue the bow to the headband base

2. Slowly and carefully place your bow on the headband, pressing down gently to ensure the bow and headband have good contact

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

My Creative Space

image christmas stockings vintage fabric doilies red green yellow lace

It's still school holidays here at the house of Two Cheeky Monkeys so crafting time has been highly limited this week.  But I did manage to find a little time to start work on a few new cupcake stands as well as an exciting new Christmas range of creations for Domum Vindemia.

image harriet cupcake stand domum vindemia vintage saucer yellow green floral upcycled spring
The cupcake stands I have been making in recent times seem to be heavily inspired by the beautiful Spring weather in Melbourne, with lots of pieces featuring bright, happy colours or lots of floral patterns.

image cupcake stand vintage domum vindemia lotus japanese plate blue flowers floral

 My new Christmas range for Domum Vindemia will include fun, little Christmas stockings made from vintage fabric and bed linen and embellished with vintage doilies, lace or all of the above.  There will also be some Christmas ornaments in the new range, but I won't say any more about them just yet!  I've had fun hunting for vintage fabrics for the stockings and working on my designs - each stocking will be one of a kind due to the vintage nature of the supplies I am using!

image domum vindemia vintage fabric christmas stockings upcycled repurposed bed linen doilies

So what do you think of my vintage fabric stockings?  Are there any colours you'd like to see (I am also working on yellow and possibly blue stockings)?  Would you like to see Christmas stockings in contemporary, but vintage-inspired, fabrics too?  And what are you making this week - are you being inspired by the weather around you?