Maybe Matilda: July 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I'm sure this makes me a creative misfit, but the truth is . . . 

I'm getting tired of chevron. And burlap. And excessive ruffles. And headbands worn straight across the forehead. And especially chalkboard paint used on anything and everything. (Edited! Thanks to Toni for reminding me that I'm also so over mustaches and the various Keep Calm & Make A Stupid Poster prints.)

I get embarrassed when I find out someone I know in real life reads this blog. It makes me feel a little ridiculous.

I might be the absolute worst teacher of sewing and crochet there ever was. I think everyone I've ever tried to teach has sworn they'll never attempt it again.

It takes like 200 shots of me modeling something I've made to get the two or three decent pictures that make it to the blog. (You thought Forrest's outtakes were goofy? They're frameworthy compared to some of mine.) And usually, in the two or three decent shots, I'm looking away from the camera. Boy howdy, I sure end up with some doozies.

I've never been to Anthropologie, and I feel somewhat annoyed by how much I'm supposed to love it.

#1 way to get me to unfollow your blog? Write about how amazing your husband is. Really, try it.

Anything you'd like to confess?

While you're here . . . my knotted crochet headband tutorial is over on Artsee Bloggers today (a really fun new creative blog directory)--go check it out!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Painted Doily Tee

In case you missed this one when it was posted on Lolly Jane last month, here's a fun tee shirt refashion for you--a painted doily tee! (And, as an update for anyone who's maybe been hesitant about using paint with fabric medium on clothing, never fear: I've worn and washed this shirt many times since writing this post, and it's held up fine and dandy.)

I think we're all a little smitten by doilies at the moment, and as a hardcore crocheter, I couldn't be happier about it. I love the delicate, ladylike look of a doily and wanted to work it into something wearable that wouldn't feel too prim and proper . . . because, really, I don't throw garden parties with tea and crumpets very often, do you? So I picked up a package of little paper doilies and created this:

I used blue and black paint mixed with fabric paint medium to create a row of doilies working their way up the side of a $2 Walmart tee. I love that it works sweet feminine doilies into a unique design with fresh, modern colors. And $2 for a cute summer top? Yes, please!
Here's how I made my painted doily tee!
 You'll need:
- a tank or tee
- a package of paper doilies (you could use multiple sizes if you'd like; I just used one size)
- one or more acrylic paints
- fabric painting medium (I bought mine at Joann, and it has lasted forever!)
- foam brush or sponge
 - a piece of cardboard to place inside the top to prevent the paint from bleeding through

Place your cardboard inside your top so the paint doesn't soak through to the back. Mix your paint and fabric medium according to the directions on the bottle (mine says to use a 2 to 1 mix of paint to medium). I wanted my top to include a range of colors and each doily stencil to have a bit of a color mix, so I swirled the blue and black together without mixing them completely; that way, when I wanted a lighter doily, I dipped my brush in a lighter section on my paint plate, and when I wanted a darker one, I picked a darker paint section, so none of my doilies came out exactly the same. I like a little variety, and the imperfections are what make it fun!
 You can arrange your doilies however you want on your top--I wanted mine to wind up one side of the tee, and I worked from the bottom to the top, so I placed my first doily down near the hem of the shirt and lightly sponged my paint over it.
You don't need to get too aggressive with your paint--a little goes a long way! Just lightly sponge it around the patterned part of the doily. I thought it looked best to paint a little past the outer edge of the doily as well, but you don't need to go very far. Just let your brush go a tad over the outside edge. What you see along the bottom of the doily in the picture above is a bit too much!

Peel up the paper and admire that lovely paint job . . . oooh, isn't it pretty?
Now just keep arranging the doilies and painting over them. I liked to vary between lighter and darker shades on each doily and overlap the edges.
Work your way up the side of the top (or however you want your pattern!) and admire your colorful stencil work!
I worked all the way up one side of the top and placed one doily on the opposite side of the shirt as well, for a little variety (although you can't even see it in any of my pictures . . . it's there, I promise!).

Make sure to read the directions on your fabric medium--you'll probably have to to let your shirt air dry for 24 hours or more and iron it to set the paint. Don't you hate waiting to wear your new creations? I just about went crazy waiting an entire day. But I think this top is worth the wait!

 (I'll be linking up to some of these parties!)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Letter in a Frame Door Decor, or, Why I Should Stop Being Dumb and Start Decorating

I've been awfully busy lately trying to make our new little apartment feel like home. My husband and I have rented since we've been married, and this whole time, I've been saving all my decorating ideas for when we buy a house. How dumb is that? 

I just recently had the revelation (thanks to Jaime of Crafty, Scrappy, Happy, who does the most amazing job transforming rentals to reflect her style) that not being able to paint walls does not equal not being able to decorate. Makes sense, right? But for some reason I've spent the last 4 years living in what are very obviously student apartments. How about I start living in an apartment that I wouldn't be embarrassed to invite people into? One that actually reflects my personality and style?

So, for my first effort to make this apartment a little less we're-renting-this-dump-so-we-don't-really-care-what-it-looks-like and a little more welcome-to-our-home, the front door seemed like an appropriate place to begin:
 (By the way, nice work guessing what this was from the extreme close-up photo in this post! The winner is definitely Kim who predicted "book letter picture frame wreath"--holy specific guess, Batman! Right on the money!)

Do you ever have one of those projects that ends up coming out 100% absolutely completely in-every-possible-aspect different from how you imagined it? That's this one for me. First I was just going to make a berry wreath, until I remembered that my one attempt at making a wreath in the past led to merciless mocking from my husband (much deserved mocking . . . it was rather stupid-looking) and an inglorious demise in the dumpster. Then I thought I'd make a moss-covered letter B (our last name is Brown; so exciting, right?) until I found the moss at Joann's . . . dude, did you know it's like $7 for a package of moss? Moss! The stuff grows for free on rocks! 
Then I remembered a frame I'd bought at the thrift store ages ago (and to think Jeff tried to talk me into tossing it when we moved . . . for shame!), and painted it red. Then the wooden letters were on sale for $2-3 apiece at Joann, and I tore some pages out of a book I'll (hopefully) never get around to reading, and slapped on a little bunch of rolled flowers that my mom, sister and I made but never used for anything, and voila. Door decor complete. Total project cost . . . maybe $5? $6? Not bad, especially considering I couldn't have even bought a stupid package of stupid moss for that amount.

My sister and I enjoyed a moment of dorky excitement when we noticed that the very first piece of the very first page we tore from the book and mod podged to the letter just happened to say "the letter B" . . . surely the gods were smiling upon this project.
So there you have it--my first project in our new place, hopefully a good start to making this little place feel like home rather than just the apartment.

 And there's the door in all its alphabetical glory for you. And I'll leave it up to you to decide if our door has a bit of a fun house mirror effect, or I truly have one elephant leg.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Wearying Life of a Baby Model

 I was looking through some older photos last night of my little guy modeling my hats for my etsy shop, and couldn't stop laughing . . . maybe it was partially due to the sugar rush from my last-minute-9:30-at-night cookie-baking spree (when will I learn that those are always a bad idea?), but definitely in part because if you check out my shop, you'll see cute little pictures like these:

 (yeah, that's my son in a girl's hat . . . what? He doesn't know the difference. And let's be honest here, up until a certain age, babies are pretty gender-neutral. Would you have guessed he's a boy in that flower hat?)

But what you don't see are the hundreds of duds that we take before getting that one good shot:
So, as a bit of a public service announcement on behalf of my little model Forrest, we'd like you to know just how dang difficult his life as a baby model can be.

Focusing on batting those big blue eyes and giving a sweet gummy smile can be difficult when you'd rather taste the props:

And the product itself must be carefully inspected . . . quality control, people!

Of course, there's always the issue of distractions--who wants to smile at mom when there's a bug to examine right over there?
Or a mirror on the wall with a handsome fellow inside?

A model can't choose the times of his photo shoots, and sometimes they just don't jive with your mood. Some days you might feel like shouting instead of smiling:

Or you might be overcome with an uncontrollable case of the giggles mid-shoot:

And let's get real. No matter how delicious your little face looks most of the time, some days just aren't your finest, appearance-wise:

Even when you are looking particularly scrumptious, temptations abound. Like those tasty fingers dangling conveniently right on the end of your arm . . . go ahead, give them a suck or two:

And by golly, you do your best, but sometimes the product just won't cooperate with you:

Did we mention how exhausting this job can be?

So now that you know that there's an awful lot of this . . .

. . . behind every one of these:

. . . I'm sure you'll appreciate it so much more.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Yeah, it's another crochet baby blanket. Like you didn't already know.

(First: the winner of the 3 pattern giveaway from Violette Field Threads is Marcy! Yay! (Marcy, I've sent you an email . . . let me know if you don't see it!) For everybody else, remember, you can save 15% on  your purchase from their shop with coupon code Matilda!)

Well, you guys are good guessers! My teaser post last week didn't turn out to be that big of a tease, apparently, since most of you guessed it spot on . . . I finished up another baby blanket recently! (My other crochet baby blankets are here and here)
How fun is that?! I'm really enjoying the cute pattern on this one. As usual, it took me days and days of poring through crochet patterns on Ravelry and Pinterest before making a decision (I don't know why choosing a pattern is always such a struggle for me . . . I guess because crocheting a blanket is a real time commitment, and how frustrating would it be to get halfway through and realize you hate how it's turning out?). 
I used the Sunny Spread pattern and just made fewer squares than the pattern calls for to end up with a baby size. It was a really fun pattern to make (I'd definitely recommend it if you're searching for a blanket pattern!), and I loved watching the little wheel motifs take shape, but let me tell ya, I hated connecting all the squares. You know how people sew quilt tops and then send them out to be professionally quilted and bound? In the future, I might just crochet mountains of squares and find a sweet old granny to put 'em all together for me. But considering our debilitating poverty (darn you, student loans, darn you to heck!), I hope Granny is okay with payment in the form of homemade cookies and slobbery baby kisses.
I'd like to make another Sunny Spread blanket with colorful circles, like this one from Raveler CaseyPlusThree--it looks so fun with the bright centers! But the thought of weaving in a thousand little different-colored yarn tails makes me want to cry . . . which is why I've only crocheted single color blankets so far.

(Also, if you know a little cutie who needs a sweet purple blanket, this one's in my shop!)

And since you're all such hot shots at identifying projects in the works, wanna make some guesses at what these are?





 I'll be sharing my blanket at some of my favorite link-ups . . . check them out if you're looking for gazillions of great ideas!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Nerd Alert: A Harry Potter T-Shirt

My sister Bekah has made brief appearances on my blog before, and like it or not, you're going to get to know her a little better today. #1 fact to know about Bekah? HUGE Harry Potter nerd. Seriously. Huge. I love me some Harry Potter, too, but this girl puts me and my fandom to shame. If I'm not mistaken, she's re-read all the books in the series every summer since they first came out. It wouldn't surprise me much if they are the only books she has ever read.

More proof of her tremendous nerdiness:
1) The other day, she met a guy who said he worked in smelting. Like any hardcore HP fan, she immediately said, "Poke him with your Smelting stick, Dudley!", an obscure reference to the 1st book. When he was confused, she began acting out, in painstaking detail, the entire scene, until she realized she looked like a crazy person and sidled awkwardly out of the room.

2) When she came to my house the other day and saw a piece of dowel left over from a project I'll be showing you soon, she picked it up and said, "Is this your wand?", then pointed it at me and shouted, "Expelliarmus!" Thank goodness she went with a harmless spell.

3) I once called her at 11 at night because it was driving me crazy that I couldn't remember the name of the tub-thingy that Dumbledore used to store memories in (think fast! Do you know what it's called?). Over the phone, I said, "Bekah, what's that thing in Dumbledore's office--" and she said, "The pensieve." Just like that. She knew what it was. I hadn't described it yet. Unbelievable!

So I shouldn't have been surprised when she called me yesterday morning in a tizzy because she didn't have a Harry Potter t-shirt to wear on this most important of days. We brainstormed a bit . . . my favorite idea was a t-shirt that would say, "I solemnly swear that I'm up to no good," on the front, and "Mischief managed" on the back (a tribute to the Marauder's Map, of course), and she wanted to recreate this Harry Potter pillow on a t-shirt (too much work).

So we settled for something a little more subtle out of necessity (the necessity being we only had about an hour, and I didn't have many supplies on hand):

Just a simple tribute to the boy who lived, made with a cardstock stencil (not the smartest idea, for the record, but I couldn't find my freezer paper) and acrylic paint mixed with fabric medium. I was going to protect the poor girl from internet scorn by cropping her wand out of the picture, as shown above, but what the hey, I know she's not ashamed of this:

That's my girl. What a dork.

(If I decide I enjoy feedback from strangers more than I enjoy keeping random blog readers from laughing at my family [which I do], I'll link this up to some of these bad boys.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Let's try this again, shall we?

Item the first: Have you entered the pattern giveaway from Violette Field Threads? Go do so now. And I neglected to include in that post a very awesome news nugget: you can save 15% on your purchase from Violette Field's shop with coupon code Matilda! Excellent, right? (Right!)

Item the second: You know how I stink at doing the teaser posts where you get a sneaky peeky at something I'm working on? (If you didn't know, just pretend I didn't say anything. I'm totally awesome at it. If there were a teaser post award, it would be sparkling on my trophy shelf right now, and I would have thanked you in my acceptance speech.) Maybe you don't even want me to try and tantalize you with works in progress . . . well, you're gonna have to deal with it, people, because I can't pump out a new project every day of the week, and how boring would this blog be if you only get, like, one new blog post each month with the one thing I've made? No one wants that.

So I'm flexing my teasing muscles (which are rather out of practice from not living in the same state as my little sister for such a long time) and letting you peek at this:
Are you tantalized? Intrigued? Captivated? Enticed? (High five,!)
You think I've got this teaser post thing down, dontcha? Little do you know, this project has been finished for weeks and I've just been too lazy to take pictures since these in-progress ones that I snapped last month. But let's go with the first one and chalk it up to improvement.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Violette Field Threads :: A pattern review, two cute girls in two cute dresses, and a giveaway!

*Giveaway closed! Thanks to all who entered, and congrats to Marcy, the lucky winner!*

I was contacted a few weeks ago by Ericka and Jessica, the masterminds behind Violette Field Threads on etsy, to do a pattern review and a giveaway. 

And after taking a peek at the beautiful patterns in their shop, I couldn't type "YES!" back fast enough! Their shop is filled with absolutely beautiful sewing patterns for your little princess . . . from boutique-style dresses like the Stella One-Shoulder Dress:
. . . to fun and quirky tops like the Olive Bustle Shirt:
. . . to delicious accessories, like the Delilah Statement Necklace:
After drooling over all the lovely patterns in their shop, I decided that my two sweet nieces shouldn't go another day without wearing the darling Viola Sweetheart Dress . . . 
How cute is that? I just love the ladylike scalloped overskirt, and the sweetheart neckline is so fun. I'll admit--I was a little nervous to get started on it . . . if you've been around this ol' bloggy for a bit, you know that while I love to sew, making clothing from scratch is not my forte. But for a pattern that adorable, I was more than willing to give it a shot.
Success! Look how dang freaking cute my little nieces are in their Viola dresses! (By the way, little M on the right has a bright future in cosmetology--she gave herself and her sister haircuts the night before their family pictures were taken a week ago. The timing couldn't be more perfect, right?) 

I bought the fabric for the dresses before I had even received the pattern from Ericka and Jessica (I was that excited to get started)--it was one of the 50% off the red tag clearance fabric sales at Joann's, and you know I can't resist a deal like that, so I grabbed a couple yards and, if I had to guess, probably spent about $5 on fabric between the two dresses. 

(Fun fact: they were both still smiling while they modeled the backs of their dresses for me. Talk about cooperation!)

My main goal in sewing these dresses was to not sew any pieces on wrong--I have a real knack for sewing pieces on backwards, or with the wrong side out--and you're never going to believe it, but I (yes, I, Little Miss Seam Ripper) actually made it through two dresses without once having to tear anything apart and do it over. I'm giving all the credit to the excellent pattern . . . it was so incredibly thorough, with pictures every step of the way and detailed instructions that left me no room to sew bodices inside out or attach skirts upside down.
(Look at big A on the left! Do you want to give her kisses or what?! I totally do.)

These dresses honestly might be the most well-made things I've ever sewn, with every raw edge finished, top stitching galore, and nice straight seams. I don't mean to toot my own horn here, but . . . toot toot. These dresses rock, almost entirely because of a really, really great pattern that was smarter than I am and didn't let me make any stupid mistakes. And for how advanced the dresses came out looking, they really were not difficult to sew . . . at all.

So here's the fun part . . . do you have darling nieces or daughters or neighbors or friends or little-strangers-on-the-street that you want to prettify with the help of Violette Field Threads? Because one of you lucky ducks is going to win 3 patterns of your choice from their shop!

Here's how you can win:
(leave a separate comment for each entry, and make sure I have a way to contact you!)
1) Head over to Violette Field Threads on etsy and tell me which pattern you can't wait to get your paws on! 
2) Become a fan of Violette Field Threads on facebook! (leave a comment saying so)
3) Become (or already be) a follower of Maybe Matilda! (leave a comment saying so)

***EDITED! If you just can't wait to see if you're the winner, you can save 15% on your purchase from Violette Field Threads by entering coupon code MATILDA at checkout!

This giveaway will close a week from today--Monday, July 18th--so get cracking!
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