Happy Halloween fellow blog-lovers! So unfortunately for you--I did not decide to write this blog entry until I had already begun with my design, however I think you should be able to follow along pretty easily from the description. Also...I have already changed my mind about the design several times, so we shall see if you end up with more detail. 

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I wanted the dress to have a sexy low cut back, since I was going for high drama up top--to do this, I sewed a piece of red fabric that was left-over from last year's costume (Poison Ivy's cape) on a slight angle to make a tube dress with a raw edge.
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I then used my floral wire cutters to chop the hook off of a wire coat hanger. I bent the hanger into a sort-of heart shape- and pinned and sewed it, badly, to the top of the tube-dress.
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okay--heres the start of the "evil" heart-shaped top. I did a super bad job of hiding the seam...so I'll have to see if I can fix that later. Luckily the top is flexible.
Next step to my Halloween costume, was to figure out how to make a hoop skirt. I am pretty cheap, and especially don't like spending a lot of money on a costume I will never wear again, (hence reusing Poison Ivy's cape) so I decided to make a hoop skirt using chicken wire and an old full sized fitted sheet I had from a smaller mattress I no longer used (the sheet turned out to be a bit large, requiring some creative sewing, but it worked okay--perhaps a twin would be better if you are buying one). I ended up buying a roll of flexible hardware cloth aka chicken wire from Home Depot, but I do anticipate being able to use this again, since I only used about 1/4 of the roll.   
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To make a wire hoop skirt, I measured out the chicken wire around my waist and made a cone shape
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Connect the hem of the sheet to the cut "waist" of the skirt--pro, it makes a faux waistband!
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And the hoop skirt is complete!!
Firstly, to make the wire skirt- I fitted the chicken wire around my hips, where I wanted the skirt to sit, and cut the wire, on an angle, to make the bottom circle bigger than the circle around my waist.  You can bend the wire edges around one another to make a complete circle out of the cut piece of wire. Unfortunately, this technique was poorly done, and I ended up with a small triangular hole in my skirt. You can fix this by cutting a small piece of wire and bending it to fit in the whole...or you can be lazy like me and just drape the skirt to cover the hole. Once you have the circle together, bend the wire to form the desired shape. 
Here's where I need to advice a safety warning. I highly recommend draping some kind of soft material (think fleece?) around at least the waist of the wire skirt. This will help protect your poor skin from getting cut-up and bruised like mine did. Once you have done this, test to make sure the wire is not poking through the fabric of the skirt (this really started to cause pain after walking down to the party, dancing all night, and walking back). Now that you have protected yourself better than I did...
I draped the fitted sheet over the wire skirt and cut a hole in the sheet where it met the smaller waist circle of the hoop skirt (my cutting is never straight, and don't worry if your cut is too small or large, since we will fix that in a second). Next, pull the bottom fitted edge of the skirt through the inside of the wire skirt. You can adjust the length of the skirt by pulling more or less fabric through the waist. I recommend trying on the skirt to see how long it will be, and to make sure that the wire shape is correct (mine got a little lumpy looking and was a tad short in the front because I did not try it on before proceeding to the next step.)
When you are ready (happy with the length) hand stitch the raw cut edges to the fitted edge of the sheet to make a waistband. This is nice because it hides the seam. You can adjust the draping as desired as you go (although i really recommend trying it on before you sew it completely shut), I liked how this looked asymmetrical when I was done, but you can also drape it a bit more evenly, or cut excess fabric (just be careful not to cut too much). The benefit of the chicken wire is that the skirt can be molded a bit to make your ideal shape--also the sheet is a bit thin, so a thicker fabric may be preferable, but I liked how the fitted hem made the fabric drape (again, please at least be careful to check for raw wire edges and bend them or cut them so as to not hurt yourself!)
  
After trying on the skirt with the red dress, I decided to add a bit of tulle. So I used my conveniently round dining room table to make a hoop skirt (what I should have done with the chicken wire--thanks for the idea, Mom!). I didn't really feel like carefully cutting the tulle, so I cut it in half, layered the pieces, and trimmed the triangular edges to make a rounded skirt...the edges are a bit "raw," but I think it works okay. To make the waist, I simply cut a hole in the middle of the tulle. I then sewed the two pieces of fabric together at the waist.  I did not secure it to the hoop skirt, but doing so will help to keep it in place better. I am not sure how necessary this was in the end--so I guess do as you like. 

I made a little crown using playing cards that I had folded into halves and then securing them with duct tape. I don't necessarily recommend using the duct tape, since I didn't really like how obviously duct-tapey it looked. If you have  more time, I recommend trying some double sided tape placed inside the fold of the card, or else maybe some glue. I did not have time really, since I was doing this project the night of the Halloween Party I was attending...good call on my part, obviously.
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Tulle over the hoop skirt
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to make the crown, I folded playing cards in half--since I was planning on embellishing the dress with "hearts" cards anyway, I figured I may as well use the black cards for the crown. Waste not. Want not.
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For the points of the crown, i folded the card the same way i folded them for the circle part, and then i folded the tip into a point.
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I connected 7 of the folded playing cards by weaving one end inside the previous end and adjusting the size to fit my head. I then duct-taped them together at the seams. I also duct-taped the pointed cards to the middle of each seam...then I spray painted the whole thing gold.
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since I am not overly fond of all the duct-tape, I painted the ends with some sparkle nail polish...although I am still not sure it was such a good idea...I'd suggest using the duct tape on the inside of the crown, so as to not make the outside look so messy.
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Heart shaped scepter made from playing cards, duct tape and spray paint

I made a scepter to go with my costume by rolling playing cards and securing them with duct tape. The heart was made by folding playing cards and pinching them together at one end and curling them at the other with a little duct tape. I then sprayed the whole thing gold to match the crown. 

Now...on to the cape! (almost done!)

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Playing cards line the edges of the cape
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Cape was made with big draped sleeves and decorated with playing cards
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Spray painted paper roses sewn to the hem of the dress to make pick ups
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Close up of the playing cards that line he collar of the cape
To finish the costume, I made a cape from a large piece of satiny fabric that I bought at Walmart. I pinned the fabric around my chest where a button would be placed (if I felt like doing all that work). I also pinned the fabric to create sleeves that drape around the feet when not being used. I then draped the fabric where I had pinned it in the middle to make a sort of collar. I pinned playing cards to the back around the collar and then used the machine to sew all of the pinned places.

Last but not least, I added a few paper roses, for a bit of a fun finishing detail, to the bottom of the red dress.  (To make your own roses, see my tutorial here!) The roses helped to create pickups in strategic places, but if I hadn't already had some lying around, I doubt I would have gone to the effort. A couple of hand-stitches keeps them in place...and for a bit of extra fun, I spray painted them red (before attaching them to the dress, make sure they are dry!). 

 Probably it would have been a good idea to drape the sleeves of the cape a bit to hide the cut edge, and the collar is pretty uneven, with a messy stitch that shows where I sewed across the playing cards,, and the dress is not great...but I think the end result is sufficient for a Halloween costume.  For make up, I recommend pasty white powder and bright red lips (i tried to draw my lips in the shape of a heart and it didn't really work....but good idea I think!) So good luck with your own costumes and have a very Happy Halloween!!

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Voila! All Hail the Red Queen! lol
 

I cannot believe how beautiful the garden is looking...and how simple it has really been! (Especially when you consider the start!) We haven't had any veggies yet (though we did get a couple of strawberries!) and the flowers have been a bit sporadically haggard...but overall the yard looks better than ever! To gloat a bit more, I've decided to share some of my photos with you, I hope you enjoy!

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The front garden bed is still doing remarkably well, though I have been pulling grass out once a week (and it's still a bit untidy--oh well)
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Our tomatoes are looking fantastic! The early girl in the front has a little bunch of vine tomatoes growing, and this monster beefsteak is large and in charge. We also have tomatoes growing in a container--in CO, this is pretty exciting!
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We finally have some sunflowers budding in the little bed behind the veggie garden! They are almost as tall as the annual salvia already! The gladiolus bulbs are so strong, I can't wait to see them all flower, and if I've timed it correctly, maybe they'll flower alongside the sunflowers! (What luck!)
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Roses on the side of the house are my favorite to cut and place in a little vase on my kitchen table. They are plentiful enough that I don't feel guilty about cutting flowers, and they are just so pretty! (Especially since there's nothing else planted back there)
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I really can't believe how enormous the zucchini is!! We have at least four little zucchini growing, and the thing just keeps on blooming! It has seriously dwarfed the cantaloupe and watermelon planted nearby, but those little guys have flowers and so hopefully we'll get some fruit soon! In the meantime, I need to find a good zucchini bread recipe!
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The poppy is still surviving, with some new buds about to bloom..the marigolds have done very well, spreading only a little, and the Shasta daisy is bigger, but still flowerless
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Peppers galore! We'll soon be swimming in them from the looks of these healthy plants!
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I am so happy to see my roses in bloom! I transplanted this little guy at the end of the summer last year, and it's doing so well! I just love the hot pink color of the flowers beside the yellow marigold.
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The butterfly bush is blooming!!! I'll keep my camera ready for flutterbies!

I've been pleased at how very little we've had to do to get the garden in ship-shape! The bf has been dutifully watering every night, and I've been weeding about once a week (sometimes more often if it bothers me enough). Sometimes if I've let the weeds take over, I'll take a hoe and stir the dirt to make it easier to remove the weeds. All in all, definitely worth the minimal effort..and pretty soon, we'll be swimming in vegetables! I've just planted a few button bells in some of the empty places, so hopefully those sprout soon!

 
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A grapevine wreath is decorated with paper flowers, a map to my heart and a burlap bow.
Today I want to share this lovely spring wreath that I put together recently. I used some paper flowers that I made from colored paper and a map that I printed from the interwebs. For some extra fun, I also added a "map-to-my-heart", which is hard to see in the above picture. To finish the wreath I attached a piece of burlap that I tied into a bow.
For detailed instructions on making the paper flowers above, please check out my Plethora of Paper Flowers blog post. You can also find some great tutorials and printables online or make your own pattern from your favorite flower. To attach the flowers to the wreath, I cut and hot glued floral wire to the base of the flower and allowed them to dry. For a more finished look, wrap floral tape around the glue blob to hide it
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Hot glue floral wire to the base of your paper flower buds and allow to dry with the wire pointed upward.
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Try to center the hot glue in the middle of the bud. I used a lot to give my wire something to really hold onto.
With the floral wire thoroughly stuck, it's easy to bend and arrange the flowers on the grapevine. Simply twist the wire through a few pieces of the wreath (being careful not to break anything off) and voila! Now when you want to change the wreath for the seasons you can simply detattch the flowers and redecorate as you see fit!
Believe it or not, I also used floral wire to stick the bow and the heart (check out this tutorial to make the heart) to the wreath. To hide the wire, I bunched up a bit inside the center knot and slipped it through the wires of the wreath, wrapping it around the grapevine as with the flowers. You could probably also hot glue these into place, but I like the semi-permanence of the wire. Watch out though, the placement of the wire could warp the heart. Good luck and have fun!
 
For this easy project, I washed some used kitchen jars and made vases to hold some of my paper flowers (to see how I made them, check out this blog post). I have been making so many of these guys lately that I just needed somewhere to put them until I am ready to use them in other crafts (I think a wreath is in order!).
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This was an olive oil bottle that I transformed using a spare piece of lace!
The first of these three was made using a spare piece of lace and some twine. I simply wrapped the lace around the bottle and secured it in place with the twine. My lace is wrapped twice, which makes it stiff enough to support itself at the neck of the bottle. I also simply folded the excess lace ubdrneath the bottle. If you'd like a more transparant look, or have less lace, you could cut a measured amount and use mod podge to seal the fabric to the glass. Alternatively, you can stiffen lace with fabric starch to make a delicate vase minus the glass olive oil bottle.
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Burlap wrapped spaghetti jar
Similar to the above oilve oil vase, here I used a piece of burlap and secured it with twine at the top and bottom of the jar. Since burlap frays easily, I recommend cutting in between squares to get a straight edge. Also, as above, mod podge will seal the burlap in place and help prevent fraying (but make sure to trim any strings before you do this or they'll stay there!)
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Hot sauce bottle with pearlescent mardi-gras beads
For this simple vase, I painted a spare mardi gras bead necklace with a pearlescent paint. This was a little tricky, since the plastic material of the beads is resistant to paint. After using several coats, you can still sort of see the gold through, but I think they look much better! I didn't want to hide the fun shape of this bottle, so I simply wrapped my faux-pearls around the bottle! I am thinking about making another by painting the inside...maybe a peach or a light blue? What do you think? 
 
Originally posted 02/15/13
I have been browsing lately, looking for a good tutorial for paper flowers. I see them everywhere and love them always. They are excellent on top of a simply wrapped package, beautiful paired on long stems in a vase, and elegant on a wreath. They dazzel in brilliant bright colors and understated ivories, with script or type-face telling secret messages, they can be tailored to interests--being made out of maps, or favorite photos. Best of all, they are easy peasy to make. I made these using a very nice template, (lovely prints!) from Ellinee.com but they can be made without a template easily enough.
Sketch (if you're the type) a "flower" shape, think simple to start, onto regular weighted printer paper. On the ellinee.com blog, you'll notice the petal layers (flower shapes that you drew) have v shaped cuts in them (see above). This helps you later on in getting the right shape from each differently sized layer. If you're not using one of ellinee's fabulous templates, cutting a V shaped slice out of your petal layer is good enough (don't bother with the "glue tab" appendage on the side of the V). You can later hot glue each half of the V into the cone shape.
Also, if you've bravely decided not to use the template (you should really try it!) it may be easier to cut out the desired shape in a heavy cardstock material and trace this onto the lightweight flower paper. Each layer should be slightly smaller than the next so as to allow them to nicely fit together. I recommend cutting many at once to save time.
I think it looks very nice to curl the sides of the individual petals in each layer and it gives the effect of an opening flower. This can be done pretty easily using scissors--as long as you are careful not to shred your petals in the process (after doing this several times, I discovered that the rips can be rather easily repaired using hot glue). But do be careful to try and cut the glue strings, and hide these layers best as you can, because it is pretty obvious, (see if you can spot the tears in the finished product-it's like a game!)
After you have your shapes cut, you can fold them into little cones, or cups, which will be nestled like Russian dolls. I like to build my cups so that the petals curl underneath the cup, and folding allows you to see the shape of your petals before you secure them, thereby allowing time to trim any excess etc.
To make the center of the flower, cut out the shape of a single petal, you can make several of these to change the way the center of the flower looks. Curl the rounded edges of the petal to add dimension and roll it into a tube shape (you can use a pencil, or bamboo stick as a way to hold the shape). Glue the tube closed. I suggest cutting glue strings and trying to be relatively neat, but you'll see I've made even this messy center passable in the end...
With the center glued, add additional petals in a spiraling pattern. I suggest doing this loosely, unless you're going for a "closed" flower effect..this can be a little tricky so I recommend holding (or temporarily sticking) the petals in place so that you can look at the overall affect before gluing them in place.
Now let's return to the petal layers; secure the pre-folded cup shape with hot glue (be careful, or maybe buy the low temperature hot glue to spare your fingers...paper is very thin). After you've glued all of your petal layers into cups, stack them to visualize the end effect, make any edits to the design now before securing the layers. I trimmed a few petals, and glued a few I ripped while trying to increase the curl.
After you are happy with all the layers of your flower, secure them together with a dot of hot-glue in the center. Note that the glue doesn't dry immediately and adding too much will cause your layers to slide in and out of place, this is helpful if you want to adjust/rotate the layers, but can be a nusiance if you've set it to dry leaning on one side. I left these alone overnight to dry, since I am eapecially clumsy with drying (must be the millenial impatience), but they're likely dry in less than a half hour if you haven't splurged on glue.
If you'd like, you can add some leaves to your flower (I've cut some for this display but didn't bother attaching, you can see them at the top). They look nice peeking out from the large base, especially if you fold them with lovely dimples down the middle... In any case, you're done now! And that didn't take too long did it?

Updated: 3/12/13
I have been working on a LOT of these guys lately for some various projects, and along with applying for various part time jobs, have been lagging in my blogging...soo sorry to my random occasional (likely accidental) viewers (haha!). So in the delay, I've decided to share some more paper flowers! Get pumped!
I made a few roses with the above template in different sizes and colors, but i really love the ivory ones on the left (get the pattern for free by ellinee.com). Unfortunately, these rosesgot squished in my messy crafting bin, so, after fluffing a bit...I have found a new place for them! I intend to use these guys in a wreath, maybe with some blue ribbon? Or some burlap?
Anyway...the little guys in the front are spiral roses, for which you can find a super simple tutorial on ellinee. I love their idea for sticking these to branches, and will be stealing it (thanks for sharing!) I have these annoying tumbleweed-esque brambles that continually blow against my house and are just begging to be torn up, sparkled, and thrown in a vase. So look forward to that happening in a post near you...as soon as I find one the dogs haven't peed on...(yucky)
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I just love the way the green and blush look together in the rose variant of the ellinee tutorial above.
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I used the above template to design a rose on this faux vintage sheet music. You can find this online to print for free over at Tip Junkie
I used the above template to design a few of my own patterns and color arrangements. You can find free vintage sheet music printables over at Tip Junkie if you don't want to waste your sheet music. And I recommend mixing colors and patterns--I like the way that the blush and green look in the above flower.