Trying Something New – English Paper Piecing

As usual, I jumped into something new without too much thought or planning, hoping that I’d succeed at my first try. I was lucky this time! Of course, I had the confidence that I’d be following the directions of an excellent teacher, and it worked out wonderfully.

The CraftyPod Football Fringe Scarf - trying something new with Tamdoll

About a week before my wedding anniversary, I saw this blog post: Crafty Football Blog Hop: How to Make a Football Fringe Scarf over at CraftyPod. It didn’t matter that I had never done English Paper Piecing (EPP) before, or even that I hadn’t sewn anything in a very long time – it was unique & had footballs. My husband is a sports fanatic, and loves professional, college and local high school football.

Since he goes to more local games than professional ones, I decided to use the high school colors and picked out some coordinating fleece. I actually looked for a pre-made scarf to sew the footballs onto, but couldn’t find one, and I think that saved me some money. With the small quantities of material called for in this project, the total came to less than $10, and that made me very happy. (I’m sounding pretty cheap here. But I really believe that the thought that goes into something is waaaay more valuable than the expense of it.)

Waiting until the night before I needed it wasn’t the brightest idea – I was up a few hours past my bedtime & had to improvise* on a couple of parts … then, so I wouldn’t wake my house with the noise,  wake up in the morning to complete the machine sewing portion. I did it! And I’m pretty pleased with how it came out. So was my husband. ☺

Diane‘s clear instructions and paper piecing videos made this project very do-able. I can see other EPP projects in my future, and probably some more scarves with other team colors.

When was the last time you tried something new? Did you like it?


* What I improvised on – I didn’t have any gray fabric paint, so I used what I had at home – Fabric Pastel Dye Sticks to color the lines in the footballs. There was no drying time required this way (just a hot iron needed), although the coverage wasn’t as solid as I would have liked.

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle ATC Swap

Sometimes too much of a good thing, is just… too much. (Rainbows of colors to choose from, varieties of mediums, unlimited ideas and possibilities – it can be overwhelming!) Having limits and guidelines to creativity can often funnel thoughts into inspiration. When infinite possibilities stall the beginnings of a project, a limited focus can make a path more clear.

As soon as I saw the title for the ATC (Artist Trading Card) Swap going on at Willowing & Friends, I knew I wanted to participate – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I loved the earth-friendly topic & wanted to jump right in.

blank cards for Reduce, Reuse, Recycle ATC Swap

Of course, when I sat down to create, I froze, not knowing what I was going to do next. Looking around at the mess on my desk, I saw an abundance of recyclable items –  pieces of paper and scraps just lying around, waiting to be re-purposed.

Reduce, Reuse, Recyclebeginning ATC cards for Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Swap

By focusing on the theme of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, I became determined to only use what I had on my desktop to complete the cards for the swap.
Desktop Recycling ATC cards for Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Swap

The images on the cards grew from pencil shavings, the lids of paint jars, gesso, and markers.recycling in action for ATC Swap of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

In the end, I completed two of these & sent them off to my partner -

completed ATCs for Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Swap with Tamdoll

I also decided to scan & upload these images to a new Society6 shop, where they’re available as prints, cards, phone covers and device skins. I named them after the idea I kept having while creating – “There is Beauty in Everything” & “Find the Beauty in Every Thing”.

I think these sat on my desk for too long after completion, because I went on to make a little booklet to hold them, using pieces of: cardboard, a thank you card, and a subway map for the insides; then covering it all with painted paper towels. Yes, this was all on my desk, I did say it was a mess, didn’t I?

Tamdoll booklet Reduce, Reuse, Recycle ATC Swap

Thanks to for the booklet how-to.

Of course, this was a swap & I got the most lovely package from my partner Gracie! I love those cards & have placed them on a shelf next to my desk. The extras she sent will definitely find their way into a future project, too.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle ATC Swap from Gracie Howle

This was fun & a good exercise for me. My personal goal for the year has been “focus” and I think this fits as a good reminder that narrowing focus can help to get things done. There was another limiting factor to this project – the time-frame. Having a commitment to my swap partner ensured that I’d finish this and send it out in the mail on time.

How do you get your projects started and finished in a timely manner?

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Photography, Prizes and Packages

It’s so important to have good photos when wanting to show off or sell work online to people who may never get to see it in person. Photography has always been important to me, especially when I started putting art online back in 2003. Taking the picture is the first step – digitally editing and color correcting is the second. For photo editing on my desktop, I mostly use GIMP and Picasa free software.

On my smartphone, I’ve been using the awesome Pixlr Express app to edit and enhance  photos. It’s really versatile & easy to use, (I could gush on, but you should just go check it out and see for yourself); there are also desktop versions, with the Pixlr Editor being a more powerful tool. Lately I’ve even been using Pixlr to add special effects to images that I use at work – it’s fun and simple. What do you use for photo editing?

At the Pixlr blog, you’ll find great images, photo editing ideas, inspiration and contests. Last month I entered one of my “I see faces on inanimate objects” pictures in their #mysuperpower photo contest & I won one of the prizes! I came across this cool antique car in a restaurant parking lot & instantly saw a face in it. Do you see it?

Photography with Tamdoll and Pixlr

Along with the contest, the Pixlr app had new stickers to use, so I took advantage of a pair of eyes (usually I’d try to draw something with my stylus, but I thought these worked perfectly). Here it is, along with some other faces I see on things and post at either Instagram or Flickr:

Photography Tamdoll sees faces in inanimate objects

I have so many more of these pictures on my computer – most of them are the rear view of cars. One day, after I smudge out all the license plates, I’ll do something creative with all of those tail-light/bumper faces I see.

I got to choose from some awesome prizes, and picked a 6-month subscription to Lootcrate. I’ve received it as a gift before, and the monthly surprise package can be fun. Last month’s box theme was Galactic & that Firefly paper currency will definitely be making it’s way into a future art project.

Lootcrate prize from Photography with Tamdoll and Pixlr

Have you ever tried one of these monthly subscription services?  My daughter gets a monthly “Glam bag” with makeup samples and beauty products from and those are a lot of fun. She’s never been disappointed with her packages each month & I feel like she definitely gets her money’s worth (whether she needs another $10 of makeup each month is another story).

I’ve also received with a monthly DIY craft project – supplies and instructions included in each shipment. I’m sure I’ll get around sometime to creating them and then will blog about it, too.

I have a feeling I’ll be seeing many Lootcrates in my future, even after the 6-month prize runs out.

Whew. I missed blogging, will have to make sure to stick with it more regularly.

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