Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Needle Felting with Sizzix Dies fromTim Holtz!

Simply Scrumptious! Don't you think?

Last week or so I have been using Tim Holtz and Sizzix dies for a whole new world of crafting joy. It's needle felting. You cut the wool with BigZ and other thicker dies. The Tim Holtz Alterations line is terrific for this. We all know they cut paper, light acrylic, vinyl, chip board, grunge board, and so on. And yes we may have heard they also cut fabric. But have you cut wool felt? And have you used the pieces to make a dimensional sewing project?

Gifties! My two grown children --and their spouses-- needed some holiday decorations. As newly married pairs, neither couple had much for personalized Christmas decorations yet in their homes. How about some nice big Christmas stockings?

What is needle felting? Needle felting is the craft of layering wool felt accents over wool felt base fabric and needle poking them with a special tool in order to integrate the fibers. Wool has this wonderful attribute of being able to bond with herself and make firm bonds without glue. Needle felting combines several of my favorite parts of creativity. It combines my love of fabric, fresh creativity and project design using supplies tools I own. I am able to use recycled wool scarves, skirts, sweaters and pants in these projects too which is a real bonus.

Needle felting gives me a quick sense of accomplishment with amazingly simple techniques. The finished pieces have an old world look and a wonderful tactile feel. They are created with an old world skill and simpler tools. I like that a lot.

Here is how I made these heirloom stockings in much less time than you might think! I worked on these off and on for less than 4 days total. Maybe 2-4 hours each?

First I drew a paper stocking pattern in a shape I liked that was large enough to fit an ample sized batch of goodies. I pinned the pattern to some 100% cream colored wool fabric and then cutting two identical pieces for each stocking. I used one of my spiral swirly Tim Holtz stamps and some ink spray to give the base fabric some interest.

I then cut lots of trees and stars and leaves and holly pieces with my Sizzix and Tim Holtz Alterations Big Z Dies. They cut our recycled and store bought wools with no problem! The names are made with an older Sizzix set of alphabet dies called "Fun Serif Alphabet" but you could use any other that will fit in the space. The stars are also an older star die from Sizzix.

His unique shapes are perfect for an old world project like this. Don't you just love the trees?

Even the words and smaller pieces cut beautifully.

Now comes the design fun! I laid the pieces out on the stocking base to decide where they looked good. Pin them in place. For my more traditional son and his wife I planned out a classic holly theme. For my daughter and her husband, I planned an outdoor tree theme. He is a astronautical engineer and physicist and loves winter so I put more stars and more glitter on his. She is a bio-systems and bio-products engineer in paper processing so I have lots more trees on hers. Each set of stockings reflected that couple. I wish I had found the larger deer die in our stores here, but everyplace was out! Dang! But I can felt that additional piece "into the woods" later I think. :D

When designing, allow space at the top for your choice of cuff. John and Steph's set of stockings used a sweater waistline for the ribbed top cuff in green. The other set of stockings had a red wool fabric top cuff. Plan ahead!

Felt, Felt, Felt, Felt. It takes about 20-40 pounces with the felting tool to secure an accent piece to it's base fabric.

Felt the accents on BEFORE you sew the stocking front and back together.

Sew together, add cuff, add dimensional accents like buttons and add a loop to hang.

John and Steph's stockings all filled up! Love that TH holly die above! And that tree die shape is amazing on the project below.

You can see I added Stickles to simulate snow on my scenes. My choice of glimmer color for my snow and stars was the Stardust Stickle. I exhausted my supply stash of three bottles but it was SO worth it. Trees and holly need snow!

Stickles make a big difference! Glitter it up! Featuring the Tim Holtz NOEL die, holly, street lamp, branches and more!

I just knew I had to work in my liberal dose of metals! Here is my assortment for this project. Some pieces are Maya Road and some are Tim Holtz. I used word charms that described each child. I also used circle charms with symbols meaningful to that person. Stars and moon for our astronautical fellow. Birds for the nature lover. Rx like symbol for the doctor and a big heart for the smart, sweet gal he married. Each set went onto a dog chain on the loop of the stocking.

Charms: before above and after below.

When my son saw my cart full of wools at the secondhand store, he asked me (with a semi-critical tilt of his head) if I REALLY needed ALL those wools? Yes, son, I do!!! Now that the stocking are all done, he knows WHY! These were a big hit with all four grown children on Christmas day. I almost hate to give them away to the kids....Ahhh, the sacrifices we parents make...all for love. ;D

Friday, December 16, 2011

What's Your Scrappin Style??

Do you feel behind in your scrapping? Do you wonder if you will ever finish that album? Do you wonder how some scrappers get caught up and stay caught up? If so, sit a spell and take this little eight question scrapbook quiz. It will help you see what your goals and your style are within the hobby. No two scrapbookers are identical --as we all know. But we do sometimes put a lot of pressure on ourselves to either get a lot done or to be super artistic on every page. And there are some of us who have never looked realistically at our hobby or our style. If you are just beginning to scrapbook and hope one day it will all get done or just plain feel overwhelmed by the number of photos stacking up...read on!

I love good photographs and I love this hobby. Scrapbooking is not only a hobby for me but also a part time job. So, I spend a good portion of my week thinking about it, doing it, reading about it , and chatting about it! A few months ago, when a friend was complaining about how many rolls of film she was backlogged, I was curious just what kind of numbers she meant. She stunned me by saying she had taken over 15 rolls of film for one two-hour event! I have since talked to several other gals who shoot photos at this amazing rate!

I am sure she got lots of fabulous photos in that group of 540 photos from that one event. But was it really worth it? She also had many rolls of film that had never been developed from the last year. Her guilt over not having the money to develop all those rolls of film or the time to scrapbook them into pages the way she hoped was overwhelming her. I want this hobby to stay fun. I also want my dear scrapping friends to be realistic and NOT get discouraged about this hobby!! This is supposed to be fun!

I felt bad for these gals because they often feel so guilty about not being "current" in their albums. Often, their goal had been to include every picture into their albums. All this stress leads to scrapping block (like writer's block!) because they feel overwhelmed! Honestly, that above incident compelled me to do the math so that we can all have a little perspective on our hobby. Even if you do not do 15 rolls per event -- do you do six rolls per big event or per month?

Let's take a look at the statistics involved here. It may just impact our personal scrapbooking goals and style!! It should affect how choosy we get about our photo opportunities, how fast we scrap, or at least what photos we choose to include in our albums. Keep in mind not only the money involved but the time as well. I know some gals say money is no object when preserving a history of a childhood or marriage. I agree. But I also know that none of us has unlimited resources financially. Even if we had buckets of money, what about in terms of time? Something has to give.

Do you Take Six Rolls a Month?
If you take only 6 rolls of film at every big event and each roll has 36 photos on it then that makes 216 pictures for that event. If you have a significant 'event' in your life every month (and some of us have more but let's just say one per month) then you have 216x12 which equals 2592 photos a year to scrap up into albums. If you are doing six rolls of film per month for any reason these numbers will apply to you. Keep in mind this is just for keeping current.

Just the Facts, Ma'am
We can get about 6 photos average on a page so 2592 divided by 6 is 432 pages created a year (If we could keep up!) If you have to do approximately 432 pages a year and there are 365 days in each year then that means you need to do one to two pages a day or 7-10 pages a week to keep current when shooting 6 rolls a month! Ask yourself, "Is a page a day my current goal and rate? "

One photo album can hold an average of 50 pages. 432 (pages to do ) divided by 50 (pages that will fit in each album) is 8.64 or lets round down to 8 albums a year. After all, not all photos turn out and we do give some to grandma, right? If we multiply that by the approximately 20 years your kids are home it will equal 160 albums for you to do during their childhood.

And if you give half the the albums (80 albums!) to them when they go away to an apartment or college or their own new homes with their new spouses (who are also lugging 80 albums ). Do you really want them to have to tote all that around for the rest of their lives? So, bottom line is we need to do 8 albums a year JUST to keep current at the rate of six rolls a month. This does not include any special occasion albums such as wedding, vacations, gift albums, or graduation. Not to mention swap pages for SB Buddies!

So What is Your Scrapbooking Style?
Ask yourself this question while photographing and scrapping...will they really need all that??? Are all those photos really necessary? Couldn't we have done the job with one tenth of the pictures? Do you really need to scrapbook every second of an event? Maybe we should take only a few rolls per event and scrap up only a few pages per event...I don't think my kids will have room for 80 albums --let alone 160-- when they leave home!!

Ask yourself, can I be more choosy about the photos we scrapbook and even before that, about the events we decide to photograph? Should we be taking five photos instead of fifty? Or do I really like to have it all on film? Perhaps I do. Will it really be ok if I only scrap up the best 5 out of the fifty and put the rest in acid free photo sleeves or boxes? Is it your style to journal the story more and take fewer photos? How guilty do you feel about that stack or box or un-scrapped pictures?

Take the pressure off yourself with this little quiz!

Does that seem contradictory? Well there is a lot of scrapbooking GUILT out there and I hope to help you come to terms with your personal style so you won't feel overwhelmed. You will enjoy scrapbooking more when you understand your personal style, make adjustments in your goals or style, and let go of the guilt! Sit a spell and you will get a realistic look at both your goals and what your scrapbooking style means for your album-making!

    Here is the Quiz

    Jot down your answers on a piece of paper:

1) The Task: How many photos do you take?
Do you take:
a) 0-36 photos a month (1 roll)
b) 36-108 photos a month (2 to 3 rolls)
c) 110-216 photos per month (up to 6 rolls)
d) 250 photos per month or more (aprox. 7 rolls or more)

2) Other Obligations: Do you work outside the home ( either paid positions or volunteer work):
a) not really -less than 2 hours a week
b) part time -up to 20 hours a week
c) full time -40 hours a week
d) full time plus overtime -more than 42 hours a week

3) Other Obligations: Do you have family members (any age) besides your spouse still at home to care for?
a) no -just me alone or just me and my spouse
b) yes -one other person besides my spouse
c) yes -two to five other members besides spouse
d) yes-five or more other members besides my spouse

4) Time and Commitment: Do you scrapbook on a regular basis:
a) daily- an hour a day or a page a day
b) weekly- an hour a week or a page a week
c) monthly- a 3 hour workshop once a month with one to two pages done completely during that time
d) I haven't actually done a page in months! I keep putting it off or other things come up!

5) Commitment: Do you feel you honestly spend more time:
a) Scrapping than shopping or chatting about it--I like to design my own pages and get them done using what I have.
b) I'd rather go SB shopping than actually do my scrapping or even chatting-I gotta have the newest stuff!
c) I spend more time chatting than either shopping or scrapping if I was really honest!
d) I don't have time for any of this! HELP!

6) Goals: I hope to one day (before I die):
a) I hope to do a couple of 40 page family albums, and a baby book for each child and perhaps some other albums. The rest may go into acid free boxes or acid free photo sleeves.
b) have the best 30% of the photos in my entire collection into albums on nice pages with journaling done (and weeding out or setting aside up to 70%) .
c) have about half (and not ever scrapping about half ) of the photos from our lives done into a few albums they can look at after I am gone....
d) eventually have about 80% of my photos that I have taken during my lifetime into creative albums with all journaling done (tossing out only about 10-20%) .

7) Style and Expectations: My album pages are:
a) simple and basic and/or I do use some pre-made scrapbook page papers with decorations already added to/printed on them. I try to work fast. It usually takes me about 15 minutes to 30 minutes to create one page including the journaling.
b) Simple and classic in style and take about an 30 minutes to one hour to complete each page. Some pages take longer than an hour but not too often.
c) I like creative pages and try to include them often in my albums. Each page takes me one to two hours.
d) I love the complicated and "WOW!" pages I see in magazines and I do try lots of new techniques. Each of my pages take me about 3 hours or more to do. I admit it --I get carried away and am a perfectionist.

8) Flexibility and Motivation: I am motivated to:
a) make a change in how I view my scrapbooking and perhaps change my style a bit to match my own goals. After all the kids will enjoy finished books more than tubs of unfinished odds and ends!
b) I want to get on the right track but I hate to change anything about how I scrapbook. Please give me a reality check.
c) I'm just curious about this goal thing but doubt I will change anything. Convince me!
d) Forget it, I am resigned to leaving my children many boxes of un- scrapped photos and good intentions. So what if I don't finish? The few pages I do get done will be masterpieces.

All right, Lets check your scrapbooking style! --Get ready for the Reality Check!

Your Personal Results
Go with the letter you chose most often when replying. If two letters occurred the same amount, then your style goals should fall into the second letter. For example if "A' and "B" were both chosen 4 times--go with the response for choice "B". I say this because most of our lives tend to get busier than we want them to and not less so!

6 or more A's --Realistic goals and hard work will get you there! You are on the right track! You may even be one of the few who is already caught up! We admire you! You take representative photos at events and do not get carried away by overshooting the event. You make time for the hobby on a regular basis without being bogged down or sidetracked. Scrapbooking several pages is a daily or weekly event for you. You have matched the time you have to the task you want done. You are an inspiration!

6 or more B's -- You will probably get your albums caught up if you work a bit faster and make a few albums in the simple and classic style! Don't get too bogged down! You may need to re-adjust your thinking on either question 6 or 7. Now and then you can add a WOW! page or technique but try to keep it all in perspective.

6 or more C's --Your scrapping pace is probably not keeping up with the goals you had set for yourself. You may want to take fewer photos, scrap a page or two a day, or take some speed scrapping techniques to heart. This is especially true if you have long hours at work or intense family commitments and little leisure time. Take a look at your expectations and tone it down a bit. Something has to flex to get your albums done.

6 or more D's --You have several features here that are working against you finishing all your albums. Take time to check out whether you should either take fewer photos, pare down your goals, or figure out how you can work more often, faster, and simpler. Perhaps get someone to help you with all those photos! Husbands and grandparents might enjoy the project! Consider only scrapbooking the top 20% of your photos and put the rest in acid free photo sleeves or storage. Don't give up quality but find a way to make pages with less time investment. Use some speed scrapping techniques until you get caught up. Make it your goal for the new year to set aside the urge to do pages that will take a week to complete! You may not have the time for that right now. Prioritize your goals. If you answered D on both question 6 and on question 7, reevaluate which is more important to you...fancy or finished? It's up to you.

Your Personal Way is the RIGHT Way!

My main point is to make sure your photo-taking and scrapbooking style matches your budget and your scrapping hobby time. Don't load yourself up for a feeling of failure! Have fun and enjoy the process with an eye on the ultimate goal of getting it done the way YOU want! There will always be someone else with a prettier page or more albums completed. Acknowledge that, tell yourself not to feel guilty, and keep at it!

It really is ok to do less than a page a day if you realize you are NOT going to get every photo you take into albums! If you are a slower scrapper for whatever reason, go for a few representative family albums with just the best pictures or a sampling of events through the years if you are not up to doing a page per day. Artistic styles and speeds vary from person to person. That is ok! Invest in some acid free boxes and labels and let the photos you won't ever scrap up rest in acid free storage. Label them of course! But keep in mind that acid free storage is not a dirty word!! Make sure the photos you do take and scrap up are superb and worth your scrapping time!

Move Along!
Realistically, the goal is to get albums done the way you like them. But remember to move along too. Are you one of the folks who want to do ALL the pics from all the years? Statistically, you will just need to step up the pace to one -three pages a day! You might even get time to do those heritage photos before you die! Keep at it steady! If you cannot --for whatever reason --scrap at that pace, adjust your expectations of yourself.

If you have actually scrap booked fast enough to be happily caught up, then SUPER! I applaud you! Now that we know our own scrapbooking goals and styles, I hope the rest of us can make some scrapbooking changes and adjustments and one day do the same!