Desert Bus 2017!

This year I donated one cat cube to Desert Bus For Hope, a shift banner cube that will be up for silent auction (between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m. EST November 22nd).  Thanks to Stephen Schmidt Photography for once again taking such great photos.cube1.png

Unless you are familiar with Desert Bus lore, this cube might not make a lot of sense – a Desert Bus day is broken into 4 shifts, and there is a banner that is brought out at the start of each shift. You can see the banner art in the playmat at the top of this picture. From left to right the shifts are Dawn Guard, Alpha Flight, Night Watch, and Zeta.

IMG_20170720_224948

One thing that was nice about piecing this cube together was that there are no edges that have to line up exactly across each side of the cube, which has always been the most challenging part in the past. The Alpha Flight decal was obviously the most intricate, and I was really happy with how it turned out.

IMG_20170809_162857

This is the 4th year that I’ve had a cube at Desert Bus, and I haven’t gotten any less excited about getting to be a part of something so amazing.

Update: congrats to warkface with a winning bid of $987.65!

Advertisements

Desert Bus 10!

This year I donated 2 cat cubes to Desert Bus For Hope, a blue D6 that will be a giveaway (between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. November 14th) and a Desert Bus 10 cube that will be auctioned live at 2 a.m eastern on November 13. Having a craft in a live auction is literally a dream come true, so I’m really excited for that. Thanks to Stephen Schmidt Photography for taking such great photos for these.

Edit 1: The Desert Bus cube went for $1250 at auction!

cubes

The Desert Bus cube is unlike one I’ve ever done before as most of the design is on the inside rather than the outside. It’s also a lot more intricate – getting the lettering right was tricky. I won’t go through every single step, but here are a few of the making-of pictures.

Usually I’ll print out a pattern, cut it out, trace it to interfacing, and cut it out from fabric, but the letters have such a specific look to them that I didn’t want to lose the precision from tracing multiple times. To get the letters/logo correct, I printed them directly on to the paper side of the fusible interfacing from my printer. It worked really well, but on one try the webbing got caught around a roller in my printer and it hasn’t been quite the same since, so proceed with caution.

20160716_184044

Letter spacing was also kind of tricky, so I used a paper pattern to match those up.

Everything laid out before putting the sides of the cube together:

20160723_150547

The D6 was a little easier to put together just because I didn’t have to match up any horizontal lines between sides of the cube. For the numbers,  I ended up scanning a D6 to make a pattern as I couldn’t find a font to match the Chessex die. This was the only in-progress pic I took:

20160505_194920

As always, I’m so hyped for Desert Bus and glad that I’ve been able to contribute for the past 3 years. It only takes one $7 donation to Child’s Play Charity to help a kid, and if these cubes can raise ~$1500 this year I’ll be on track to help 1000 kids with something as silly as cat beds, which is pretty awesome.

How to deal with 100 square feet of foam

My cat cubes are made out of foam covered in fleece, and the first one I made used a twin sized mattress topper for the foam – they’re easy to find, especially around back to school time, and relatively inexpensive. Once I had the technique down, I realized I would need a better source of foam, and luckily the internet has plenty such places. Here’s how I break down 100 square feet of foam so it fits in my house without taking up too much space.

The cost works out so that it makes the most sense to buy 5 half sheets of foam. Each sheet is 82 X 36 inches, and it comes neatly packaged in a 17 lb. box

Everything is vacuum sealed, and once you unwrap it you end up with a lot of plastic and a hissing, rapidly expanding mass. (Video is best at 2x speed)

Once the sheets are free, I lay them out and mark up where I need to cut. Each sheet is enough for 8 cube sides plus an extra strip of foam that I haven’t come up with a use for yet.

Cutting happens on a large cutting mat, and I just drag the foam towards me a few times to get through it all.

In the end, everything fits on top of my Ikea Expedit. It took a few days of after-work work to break it all down into squares, but it is so worth it to just get it done and put away.  This is the second batch of foam I’ve bought – the first time I just left the large sheets rolled up in a corner of the living room, and when company came over we would hide it in a closet or the trunk of my car 😛

img_20161105_201321952

Six squares are missing here, they were turned into a Pokecube

More Baby Blankets!

I like making these for new babies, and while sometimes the babies aren’t brand new by the time I finish, it’s still a fun way to give a present that is both useful and unique.

With Silas, he was old enough by the time I started that I was able to find out his favorite animal/color combination.

20160205_170439

Dogs with big eyes and bright orange were the favorites

The dog pattern came from an online coloring book, which I’ve found to be one of the best places to get simple line drawings to turn into applique.  It does go through a couple of creepy looking stages though before the final thing is ready.

For the back I used Minky fabric for the first time, and while it was fine, it was harder to work with than fleece and slid around a lot while I was trying to get the two sides to match up.

 

All in all though, I was happy with the final product and Silas got his blanket just in time for his 1st birthday.

Unlike Silas, I knew Diego’s name and nursery theme before he was born, giving me a little bit of a headstart on getting his blanket together. I couldn’t think of a way to get enough color contrast for a monkey decal on the front of the blanket, so instead went for a monkey patterned back and really big letters for his name on the front.

20160408_143512

One problem with using a patterned fleece is that it can be hard to match up the colors – you can see that a little here with the difference between the greens, but they are on opposite sides so it isn’t super obvious.

I managed to get this one finished and sent out within 4 months, and it was a hit!

Screenshot_20161101-210903.png

 

Last Minute Christmas!

Are you over 21? Can you sew in a straight line? Then good news! Liquor stores are open relatively late on Christmas Eve (9 pm around here), and you’ve still got time to buy presents! And while decorating the paper bag that your purchase comes in is one option, it is also very easy to make a little fabric bag to class things up.

You’ll need a strip of fabric about an inch or two wider than the bottle you’re making it for, and a few inches taller.

20151224_153816

These are mini bottles (perfect for stockings!) but it will work about the same for full size bottles too.

So take your strip of fabric, and turn down both of the ends. Sew those together, leaving the short ends open for your ribbon.

Then sew the sides of the fabric along the long edges up to the ribbon opening.

20151224_162006

Flip it right-side-out, put a ribbon through the tube, fill it with some booze, and no one will know that you bought your presents right before stores closed on Christmas Eve 🙂

Cubes for Desert Bus

It’s Desert Bus time again, and I was thrilled to send in two cat cubes this year.  For those of you that don’t know, Desert Bus is a live-streamed, week long fundraiser for Child’s Play charity, and it is pretty much my favorite thing on the internet.  It’s in it’s 9th year, and for the past few years they’ve sent out a call for crafters to donate crafts to auction and raffle to help raise money, and this year my contribution was these cubes!

There are better pictures on the website, but here are some in-progress pictures from this year’s batch.

The Question Mark Block cube will be up for giveaway sometime today between 1 pm and 9 pm EST , so obviously that means I’ll just have to watch DB all day.  This one came together really well, and I got to learn how to make little plushies!

Edit: The giveaway has finished, and we raised $1739.10! Thank you  to everyone who bid, and congrats to Kuroji Zero who won!

 

The Cat-panion Cube will be in the Cats, Cats, Cats! silent auction lot that runs from 5 am to 1 pm EST on Thursday. I’ve made some improvements to the cube from last year, and I’m hoping the early morning crowd will hype the cat lot and raise at least as much as last year.

Edit: This silent auction has also finished, and we raised $1100!

 

Final edit:

If you have an idea for a custom cube, hit me up on Etsy and we can come up with something awesome. And stay tuned for Desert Bus  next year, I’ve got a few ideas and hope to be able to contribute again. 🙂

Efficient Bunting!

20150724_180723

A few months ago I had a chance to make bunting for a friend’s wedding shower, and it went so well I made some for her wedding too! There are a lot of tutorials on how to make bunting out there, but my goal was to find the quickest and easiest way, because I can always count on myself to wait until the last minute before putting stuff like this together. And besides, who doesn’t want to be known for being able to crank out some emergency bunting? Anyway, here’s my method. It took me about 1.5 hours from start to finish, not including the shopping part.

Tools:

20150711_164857

Fabric, triangle patterns, binding, scissors, marking pencil. Sewing machine optional but strongly recommended if you’re trying to do this quickly.

  • The fabric is 9 inches tall and 60 inches wide, and I was able to get 4 triangles from each strip of fabric. One note of caution – if the fabric has a distinct top and bottom, like with writing or cartoons or anything, you’ll need twice as much fabric.
  • The binding is extra wide double fold bias tape, which comes in 3 yard packets. I put 12 triangles on each piece of binding, but you could probably fit 14,
  • The triangle patterns are simple – 7.5 inches on the short end, 8.5 inches on both of the long sides.

To start, I folded my fabric longways, right sides together, and traced tessellated triangles so that the middle triangles shared an edge. If the fabric has a distinct top, this means that every other triangle will be upside down, so you can either be okay with that or just use right-side up triangles and a little more fabric. Pictures are really better for explaining:

20150711_16452920150711_164559

From there, I used the traced line not for sewing, but for seam allowance. The traced line will end up as the cutting line once everything is sewn together. I left the short edge open so the triangles can be flipped right side out.

20150711_165657 20150711_174735

It’s fine for the thread to cross over itself at the tips of the triangle, my assumption is that bunting will not get a lot of heavy use that might cause it to unravel. If you’re really worried about it, just keep the end of the seams inside the triangle.

Once everything but the short edges were sewn, I used the pattern lines as cutting lines, and it only took 5 cuts to get 4 triangles.

20150711_170617

Repeat as necessary – I had 6 different fabrics. At the end I trimmed everything down, including snipping the tip of the triangle flat, and flipped everything right side out. It helped to have a tool to push out the tip of the triangle – I used a closed seam ripper, which was just about the right size.

20150711_184645

After everything was right side out, I realized that I would need to trim the open edge because there were little ears sticking out from the seam allowance. You can see them in the bottom row of triangles in the picture below. Cutting those off makes the next steps so much easier, so it’s worth it to do all at once before moving on. If you’re not in a hurry, it’s also nice to iron everything flat before pinning it all together.

20150711_210939

When my triangles were all triangular, I lined them up in order and marked the middle of my binding with a safety pin. From there, I pinned everything in place from the middle out, making sure the triangles were all the way up inside the binding and right next to each other.  There’s definitely room to move things around a little once it’s in the sewing machine, but getting the basic spacing makes the sewing part easier.

20150711_212558

Sew it up, and that’s pretty much it! For sewing, I had a tail on each end of the binding but I went ahead and started sewing right at the end in order to make it look a little more finished – having the binding loose after the last triangle looked a little weird.

I had a lot of fun making this, and once I got into the process it was pretty relaxing because there isn’t anything tricky, just a lot of repetition. It is also a pretty inexpensive project – you get to use a bunch of different fabrics, but when you only need to buy 1/4 yard of each the cost doesn’t get too high. Any fabric would probably work, but I stuck with the normal quilting cotton because it holds its shape well and comes in a lot of colors.