Friday, July 31, 2009

Leah's Stuff Cute Month Awards Ceremony!

** Birds fly in, hang the drapery for the stage. Hummingbirds and bunnies set up the sound system. To open the show, a giant cupcake will lower from the top of the stage, and then I'll burst out of it! The audience (stuffed & live animals) bursts into applause. **

Cutest Cupcakes (pictured left) goes to Michelle's Hedgehog Cupcakes!

Cutest Design Studio (Responsible for the Cutest Olympic Mascots) goes to Meomi!

Cutest Video Featuring Stuffed Animal Playing Instruments (pictured left) goes to The Boy Least Likely to for their video "Be Gentle With Me"!

Cutest Manga goes to Yotsuba!

Cutest Flickr Group w/o Cute in the Title goes to The Secret Life of Toys!

That's all we've got for this month's awards! Join me in August for Incredibly Useful month!

If you have any cute awards you'd like to ceremonially mention, go right ahead in the comments!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cute Month - Not Necessarily Cute Projects Revealed!

Commissioned Plaques - 5 of 5
Commissioned Plaques for gehrlein

Part of my distractions from cute things for the past month have been two ongoing commissions that I've recently completed! The ones up there are five mixed media plaques that Commissioner Gehrlein requested have "whatever I want on them."

"Whatever I want" is hard to fulfill! I managed not to over-think it entirely.

Avernus Falls MapAvernus Falls Map

Commissioner Nick (of Hobotaku fame) wanted an oldey-timey city map for his new LARP, which I'm hoping I delivered on. Click on the map image for a larger version. Sea Monsters will be added later!

Unrelatedly, there was a crazy storm last night that knocked this tree down across our cul-de-sac. I thought it was lightning, Will said it was the wind.

Post Storm Damage
Tree Down - Post Thunderstorm
I think lightning makes for a more exciting story.

Don't worry, there's more cute projects NEARLY finished!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Cute Month - Some Cute Stuff

Djonesgirlz Totoro Needlebook

Whenever I want to work on a project, I spend some time on flickr looking at other people's to get inspired. Sometimes it's intimidating. I need to make a needlebook so I was searching for some online and found this ridiculously cute Totoro one! And look at that sheep! Oh dear.

For the rest of you, if you're ever in need of just general cute browsing on flickr, there's a group for you! It is called (and I quote):
the CUTE THINGS EVERYTHING CUTE!! flickr pool. There are so many cute things on here! SO MANY! SO MUCH CAPITALIZATION! AND EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!!

Besides, flickr, and icanhazcheezburger, is there anywhere else online to go for super cute OMG?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cute Animal Week: AstroCat Completed!

AstroCatAstroCat Complete!

Yay! Let's go to space! The cuteness is a pretty good payoff since I spent a lot longer than intended working on this (because of sewing machine hassles).


For those of you who don't know, they debuted the Owly animated short at Comic-Con this week!

So far, it hasn't been leaked onto YouTube yet, but I'm sure we'll eventually get to see it! More info over at Owly creator, Andy Runton's blog

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cute Animal Week: There was Another Trouble!

My Nemesis
My Nemesis

So, I know I keep taunting you with this "astrocat" business, but it's an unintentional tease! Yesterday, I spent three hours taking apart my sewing machine attempting to equalize the tension between the upper and lower thread. I was getting what people term "birdnesting" or "rat's nests".

It turns out the reason the upper thread tension wasn't working was because if you thread the machine when the presser foot is down the upper thread tension just won't work. This is not mentioned anywhere in the manual, but fortunately, the internet provided.

I did some maintenance while I was in there, and I won't even getting into the laughably unintelligible directions in the manual for where to oil.


In happier Leah Riley & Animal News - I gave Jason (the writer over at Indie Squid Kid and personal pal) my mixed media piece "Three Hearts Beat as One" for his birthday, and he made a whole post about it! Totally Airwolf!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cute Animals: I'm having Troubles

Money Eating Trow (original plushy) - Eating MoneyMoney Eating Trow (original plushy) - Escaping
Money Eating Trow

Sometimes, when I try to make cute things, they come out weird. Like that! I was just trying to use up some scrap fabric and voila! Some sort of money eating troll thing! Hooray!

Seriously, I'm going to concentrate on this cute thing and get back to you tomorrow.

In the meantime, you should click here and see a baby bear and baby lion hilarious interacting (from Korean tv). Thanks to Will for that link!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cute or Weird

Stuffed Platypenguin outsidePlatypenguin Outside Enjoying the Flowers

I attempted to make a stuffed animal from this sketch of mine. I'm not entirely sure how successful I was in terms of resemblance, or cuteness, but I like him anyway.

He's just a prototype, so he's mostly made from scraps (old sheets, a button that fell off of some pants). He really likes flowers, though. Poking his beak in them all the time, like he's a hummingbird instead of a platypenguin.

SpaceCat SketchTune back Tuesday or Wednesday for a Real Life AstroCat
(Well, real plush.)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cupcake Brooches

Strawberry Cupcake Brooch / PinVanilla and Orange Cupcake Brooch / Pin

Recent Creations - More Cupcake Brooches / Pins

Once I got done being completely distracted by swaptree this morning, I finally put the cupcake brooches I made this week in my Etsy shop.

I'm also working on a cupcake apron, but I have a feeling that it's going to be one of those projects that might spill over into Cute Animal Week (which is next week). Cute Animal Week! Yay!

Here's something to get you prepared for Cute Animal Week:
Annie & AlexAnnie holding the teeny kitten Alex

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cupcake Necklace!

Cupcake Corset NecklaceCupcake Corset Choker

I have a lot of ribbon (and still no proper way of storing it). So I'm making things with ribbon. Maybe if I sell enough, I can buy a storage for it. But then it might be all gone? Ok, don't over think it.

Ahem - One thing I've made with my delightful cupcake ribbon is this corset necklace. Perfect for sweet lolita outfits, tea parties, or just people who love cupcakes. (Thanks, as always, to the lovely Alison who's modeling this.)

It can also be worn as a headdress/headband! You can lace it onto you anywhere you want, really (it's tempting to make a pair for sock garters).

Cupcake Corset Choker (closeup)Cupcake Choker Detail

Here's a nice closeup so you can see the cute hearts on the eyelet lace. Eyelet lace is pretty much the only lace I can handle on my skin, which is why it's the only kind I'm going to use when making these - I am all about comfort first!
Or at least in the top five.

I'll be filling my etsy shop with cupcake stuff all week so check back if you're desperate for your very own cupcakey-ness!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cupcake Distractions

Now for Cupcake Inspiration from Argentina!

Whenever I get sad, my favorite way of cheering myself up is looking at Lulu cupcakes flickr photostream. I don't know who these people are, and I am incredibly grateful that they are in Argentina and not here in North Carolina, because I think I would be addicted.

They tend to make a lot of different wonderfully awesome looking cupcakes - Like candy explosions dreamt up after watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!
So, if you're having a bad day, just stare at these cupcakes. STARE AT THEM. You will feel better, or at least hungrier.

If you prefer retail therapy, then check out this ridiculous cake purse:
Cake Purse

It's for sale here at Gymboree.

Yes, Gymboree. I know it's a children's store. It has a cake purse. A Cake Purse.

That is all for today's cupcake / cake purse zen.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cupcake Week Begins! Felt Cupcake Pin

Purple Cupcake Pin
Julie's Belated Felted Cupcake Pin

Cupcakes are just bursting with popularity these days. That's not why I'm having a cupcake week, it's because I *love* cupcakes, but I think that's why they're so popular - almost everyone does!

Even though I've made some cupcake projects in the past (like the flying cupcakes), I am going to be making all new cupcake stuff this week, and putting it all in my shop. And, if anybody happens to order any of it, I'm going to include a mixed CD of cute songs, because... because they're so cute!

This is a felted cupcake pin I made for my sister for her birthday - it's a bit belated, since her birthday was in March (I have an excuse! Surgery!) so I'm sending it out today (with some other stuff). But I'm going to be making more of these because I love the way this one turned out. I even bought a beading needle so I can use smaller beads for the sprinkles!

Next up we'll have some sophisticated cupcake wear!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Wonderland Week: Finished Steampunk Alice Outfit!

Wonderland Party: Steampunk Alice (Leah)
Steampunk Alice Costume by moi

Shew, holy crap. I finally finished everything I was going to finish for my Steampunk Alice costume. I made the skirt, the apron, the bow on the apron, and the buttons on the socks (you can see those further down).

Steampunk Alice: Sock DetailSock Detail!

This is a weird angle, but you can see the spade buttons I made using shrinky dinks (yes! Shrinky Dinks!). Also, it includes the skirt and apron I made, so despite it's strangeness, it's a pretty useful picture.

Steampunk Alice: Bow DetailBow Detail
The bow was pretty easy, even though I've never made a bow before - mostly I just held it in the correct shape and sewed it together. Then I sewed on the gear, and added an eyelet to thread the concho through. Then I glued a pinback to the back so I can attach it to the apron, or elsewhere, if I want!

Wonderland AccoutrementOther accoutrement detail

I made some spade tiles out of Scrabble tiles (did I mention I have a whole mini-drawer full of Scrabble tiles? Well, I do). Also, I had this bottle with the label from the Mad Hatter Tea Party at Camelot Treasures forever ago. I think everything turned out pretty well, and I guess I should make proper detail pictures of just the skirt and just the apron, but right now I'm a bit pictured out. I'll eventually add more to my flickr stream, so watch there!

Wonderland Party: Scavenger Hunt, Team Diamond - The Ground is LavaThe Ground is Lava

The Wonderland party itself was super-fun! There was a scavenger hunt at the beginning that split us into teams and required us to take themed pictures. I was on Team Spades (of course!) My favorite picture is featured to the left, of Team Diamond and their "The Ground is Lava" picture. For more pictures of the party and the scavenger hunt click here!

Also, technically, we're at the beginning of Cupcake Week! Go Cupcake Week!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Wonderland Week: Skirt Done!

Steampunk Alice: Skirt Done!Hooray! Skirt Finished!
The skirt is done! Of course, the apron is still in pieces, and the accessories are in the "if I have enough time" category now. But! The skirt! It's done!

I've learned that when you're working with patterned material, especially stripes, you have to be super detail-oriented when you're cutting out the pieces and sewing them together. And by that, I mean that I wasn't, so the lines don't necessarily match up all over the skirt (oops).

The other thing I learned was how to put in a zipper using this tutorial! This is the best zipper tutorial I've found, so thanks to Kim for putting it on the internet. I did use the glue stick, but I skipped some of the other steps and just pinned instead. The zipper looks really great, if I do say so myself.

I did attempt my first "freehand buttonhole" sewing using the sewing machine, which is a bit messy.

I'll get Will to take nice pretty pictures of the skirt soon, I just wanted to have something to show. Now back to the studio to put together an apron! And maybe an armband and ribbon and headdress. Heck, if I had another week, I'd finish my parasol.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wonderland Week: Wintergreen Transfer Tutorial

This is a printmaking technique I learned in college - it's very useful for transferring photocopied images onto nice paper, or stones. I wanted to test its use on fabric. It totally works! Here's a quick tutorial for everyone out there itching to transfer designs.

- Photocopied versions of your designs (note: it will be reversed!)
- Wintergreen Oil (mine is synthetic)
- Paper towels
- Tape
- Fabric / paper you want to transfer onto
- Iron*
- Tissue Paper*
* May not be necessary

Note: You will be using a concentrated oil, so you might want to wear gloves. You definitely do NOT want to get it in your eyes. It's also good to do this in a ventilated area, or at least one with an open window!

Step 1: Cut out your photocopied designs and place them copied sides up on fabric to figure out where they go. I had to measure mine from the edges and everything. I designed these spades for my Alice apron - they're pretty much symmetrical so I don't have to worry about the reversal.

Wintergreen Transfer Tutorial: Layout

Step 2: Flip over your photocopied designs (re-measure to make sure they're in place) and tape them with the photocopied side down.

Wintergreen Transfer Tutorial: Wintergreen Oil

Step 3: Open up the wintergreen oil (trust me, if your nose is in any way sensitive, you want to wait until now) - fold up a paper towel, put it over the open end of the oil, and tip it 2-3 times. It doesn't take much oil, and it is smelly.

Step 4: Blot the paper towel full of wintergreen oil on the face down photocopy until the entirety of your design is wet (it will become pretty much see-through, so it's easy to tell if you miss any spots). You probably want to close up the wintergreen bottle at this point, too.

Wintergreen Transfer Tutorial: Dab!

Wintergreen Transfer Tutorial: Wet Paper

Step 5: Rub/press the paper towel over the design, being careful not to move the design (good thing it's taped down!). If you own a baren, you can use that. You don't have to do too much - the more you rub/press the more the image transfers, but after a certain point the ink starts to bleed/feather a little, and your image may be a little blurry.

Wintergreen Transfer Tutorial: Baren Press

Step 6: Remove the tape and peel back the paper -Tada!

Wintergreen Transfer Tutorial: Ta-da!

Step 7: Let the design dry and iron (I was impatient to make this tutorial, so I didn't let mine dry, but it's probably a good idea). Put some tissue paper over the design and iron it. The tissue paper will keep the ink from transferring onto your iron (it will transfer onto the tissue paper, however slightly). I don't know if the ironing is necessary but it seemed like a good idea.

Wintergreen Transfer Tutorial: Ironing

Step 8: Wash. I washed mine with Woolite, cold/cold, on the handwash/casual setting. It came out fine!
I also washed it by itself, so it wouldn't transfer onto anything else, but that may not be a problem. I didn't have time to check before this. I also let mine air dry, because I worried the heat in the dryer might make re-transfer.

Now, it depends on what you're doing with this whether you want to wash it or not. Keep in mind that the fabric will overwhelming smell like mint for a week or longer if you don't wash it. Also, if it will be touching human skin for a prolonged period of time (especially around the eyes!) then it's a good idea to wash it.

Wintergreen Transfer Tutorial: Both Transferred!

And now you're done! There you go! Practically photocopying designs onto fabric! Next time I'm going to make Will a cool button-up shirt.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wonderland Week: Components for Steampunk Alice

Steampunk Alice: Skirt PiecesSkirt Pieces for Another Paneled Lolita Skirt (or, as I like to call it "Here I Go Again on My Own! Going Down the Only Road I've Ever Known!")

I don't have anything finished to show yet, but I do have a lot of things sitting around just waiting to become awesome stuff. There's potential in these things, so hopefully I won't screw it up!

Steampunk Alice: Card Suit ConchosCard Suit Conchos!

These I'm particularly fond of - I ordered them last week. They are conchos. Before last week, I didn't know what a concho was. (Those decorative metal things on leather cowboy stuff)

I was looking on etsy for things with spades on them, since that's the motif I'm going for here, when I found some leather money clips with these on them. Since I wasn't looking for a money clip, but I loved the design of the "metal thingy", I checked out the listed materials (yay for that on etsy!)

So, I ended up combing through leather supply websites looking for these, and about half an hour later, I found them. Turns out they don't refer to them as "Alice in Wonderland" related, but more poker related. I got them here in case you're curious.

Steampunk Alice: Spade DesignsNewly Drawn & Photocopied Spade Designs

The spades represent the least practiced part of the costume - I'm going to attempt to transfer these photocopies onto fabric using some printmaking techniques. Then I have to find out if the transfer will hold up to a washing. If all goes well, I'll have a really cool tutorial for you guys soon!

Ok, I need to get into the studio so I'll have something to show!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cute Month, Wonderland Week!

Steampunk Alice Design, Front
Steampunk Alice Design, Front

All this week I'll be making a Steampunk Alice costume - which means all the posts are going to be Alice in Wonderland related. Of course, it could have been a normal Alice costume, but what fun is it if I can't mix some of my favorite genres, like steampunk, Alice in Wonderland, and lolita, all into one convenient costume?

I've always preferred the idea of a gothic Alice, more with a spade theme than the hearts or diamonds, so I've also folded that into the idea. I used to call this gothic spade-sprinkled Alice "Black Alyss" (a sort of reference to Frank Beddor's Looking Glass Wars) but I thought that might be a bit confusing (or silly?)

This shouldn't be too hard, since I only need to work on the apron, skirt, and various accessories, as I plan to wear a blouse and vest I already have for the top. Here you can see how I break down costumes when I need to put them together - by color. This is especially helpful when I'm making pieces, as I can see at a glance how much material I'll need.

Steampunk Alice Design, BackThe steampunk lolita skirt I made a few weeks ago was the prototype for working on this, so I have at least one under my belt before I started here.

On the other hand, I've never made an apron from scratch, and I'm planning to use some unorthodox transfer methods to get the spade designs on the apron, so we'll see how that turns out. I'm crossing my fingers that I avoid a debacle.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Kitchen Cafe Curtains

Kitchen Cafe Curtains: Detail w/bird
New Matroyshka Cafe Curtains for the Kitchen

Today's cute is the new cafe curtains I hemmed for above the kitchen sink. I made them, but the term "made" is only a technicality, as the fabric has a white screenprinted scallop border along the top and bottom, with pre-cut holes for curtain rods. You just trim off the fabric outside of the white scallops and hem the sides, et voila! Ready to hang curtains!

The screenprinting will prevent the fabric from fraying, so that really is all you have to do. It's just crazy enough to work!

I just love the matroyshkas (apparently, they're really coming back in style, at least for Japanese fabric designs) and the cyrillic scattered on the gingham. I got this fabric on sale from the Repro Depot Japanese fabric section (though they seem to currently be out, they have other cafe curtains, though). They still have it over at Super Buzzy, and in green!

Now I'll try and find other parts of the house to encuten. That's a word now.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pattern Sale - There's a bonnet, so that's cute

JoAnn's Haul: Pattern Sale!Pattern & Stuff Haul from JoAnn's!

Just in case you didn't know already, JoAnn's is having pattern sales throughout the month in order to clear out their stock. This weekend, McCall's patterns are on sale for $0.99 (regularly around $16) and Vogue patterns for $3.99 (usually around $25).

Here's a quick rundown of the pattern sales at JoAnn's:
July 2 - 5: McCall's $0.99, Vogue $3.99
July 9 - 11: Butterick $1.99
July 16 - 18: Simplicity $1.99

I went first thing today with a list of all of the patterns I wanted to buy, fortunately, most were in stock (they won't do orders for the sale price). I ended up paying $10 for $120 worth of patterns! Woo!

I got some lolita-style JSK patterns, vest patterns, skirt patterns - and my favorite is the Little Bo Peep costume pattern on top there, which is a pattern for a dress, bloomers, and a bonnet. A bonnet!

Speaking of: Does anyone have some suggested Butterick or Simplicity patterns I should pick up (in the near future)?

So hit up JoAnn's fellow sewists! You can use the store's pattern books to figure out which you want, but I'd suggest hitting up some places online to look at patterns (like online pattern reviews) and make a list before going - that way you can dart in and right back out of there with your new goodies!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July is Cute Month - Maybe?

Zipper Bag (for Annie)
Cute Zipper Bag for Annie

I was going to declare July a Cute Month, and celebrate things like Cupcake Week, Wonderland Week, etc. but it turns out there are already national cupcake holidays!

The difficulty, though, is that they're WAY WAY at the end of the year, with October 18th as National Chocolate Cupcake Day, and National Vanilla Cupcake Day on November 10th*. Also, there seems to be an epic battle over which day is plain ol' National Cupcake Day, delicious battalions lining up to fight for either December 15th or October 18th (battle not actually epic, sorry).
* National Food Holiday List

BUT! This can be my own personal Cute Month, which will be a vacation away from all those things I make that aren't cute... like, err...

To make it slightly different, I will attempt to make things even cuter than usual. Wish me luck!
Also, happy Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day & National Gingersnap Day!