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Archive for September, 2012

Oh Baby, Baby

Friday, September 28th, 2012
By Twistie

Last week on Project Runway: the designers make costumes for the Rockettes, no word on whether Heidi will be guesting with them at showtime. Christopher wins with a prim yet sexy and slightly jingoistic ode to New York City, and Ven goes home for making… a mildly sparkly cut off mother of the bride dress. My heart goes pitter-pat for joy.

What will happen this week? Read on, my friends, to find out.


What’s a Broke Crafter to Do?

Thursday, September 27th, 2012
By Twistie

Let’s face it. Nearly everyone has a time in life when they have more creativity and will to decorate than they have cold, hard cash with which to buy supplies (not even from Viking Direct). Sometimes we just have an urge to see how little we can spend on a project.

What to do? What to do?

I, for one, would go browse the projects at Dollar Store Crafts. After all, that’s where I found instructions for making this cool origami crane tree out of junk mail and fallen twigs. It was in the One Dollar and Free section.

There’s also a Five Dollar and Under category, and one for Ten Dollars and Beyond.

Whether you’re looking for a fast, inexpensive way to spruce up your home, a project to keep the kids quiet that won’t bust your budget, or some general inspiration for what you can do with your latest craft store find, Dollar Store Crafts probably has something for you to play with.

Good Idea/Bad Idea: Soap Additives

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012
By Twistie

Sometimes the same artist has a really Good Idea, and a really Bad Idea. This new feature will help us all identify which is which.

Let’s start the ball rolling with Etsy artist Fetosoap. The tagline for the store is: Everything from natural to novelty handmade bath and body. Let me tell you, she isn’t kidding.

First the Good Idea:

I love, love, love this soap. It’s vegetarian-friendly, hypo allergenic, and scented with a soothing combination of honey, almond, and vanilla. The charming honeycomb and bee motif is there because of the natural local honey used, which also creates the natural amber coloring. Recommended for dry or sensitive skin, it’s $6.00 a cake. Pretty, practical, and all natural? I’m there!

And yet somehow the same artist produced this Very Bad Idea:

Yes, it’s a razor blade (a real one that has not been dulled) embedded in a bar of glycerine soap. Glycerine, by the by, is hydrophilic (it soaks up water) so the razor blade will rust over time. And since using the soap could, over time, result in a trip to the ER, it is recommended for display purposes only. Then again, if you choose to display potentially lethal soaps in your bathroom, I recommend trying to find insurance against the possible consequences since we all know That Person who uses the display only guest towels and reaches immediately for the display only soap.

I think I’ll stick to the first bar of soap. After all, it’s much prettier, smells nice, and has no negative consequences if someone chooses to break it in while you want it to stay pretty… unless they have a horrible honey allergy.

It’s Only a Paper World

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012
By Twistie

Don’t sit on those chairs! I mean it!

Why not?

Why, because they’re made of nothing but tracing paper and tape, that’s why.

They’re the work of Natasha Frisch, an artist who works exclusively in the medium of tracing paper. Her designs are precise replications of everyday items, only in a far more fragile form and white in color.

Frankly, I’m blown away.

Take Gertie Home With You

Monday, September 24th, 2012
By Twistie

If you love to sew and you love vintage, chances are you already know Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing.

It began as a Julie/Juliaesque project wherein Gretchen Hirsch (aka Gertie) worked her way through all the patterns in Vogue’s New Book for Better Sewing, published in the 1950’s. Fourteen fabulous vintage outfits later, well, Gertie kept on going. she’s still blogging away about sewing vintage style clothes, and all the issues that go with them. She teaches online courses, and appears on the PBS show It’s Sew Easy.

I guess all that was left to form a complete media empire was to write a book. And that, my friends, is precisely what Gertie has done. Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing features twenty-five vintage-inspired patterns (in ten different sizes, no less!) conveniently located in an envelope attached to the book, instructions for sewing and fitting all the garments (including tips for sizing vintage patterns up and down to fit your body), advice on choosing the right fabrics and sources to get them from, all written in the same breezy style as her blog. The tattooed, bespectacled Gertie herself models all the clothes with aplomb and fabulosity… though I think it might have been useful to have at least a couple looks modeled by someone else instead or in addition to Gertie, just to show how they would look on other body types.

Still, that’s a minor quibble. If you love vintage clothes, if you love Gertie’s teaching style, if you’ve got a stack of old patterns you’d love to use if only you knew how to size them to your body, then this is the book for you.

Best of all, Amazon has it for the bargain basement price of just $22.88 (list price $35.00) and it qualifies for free Super Saving shipping, too.

Rock On!

Friday, September 21st, 2012
By Twistie

Last week on Project Runway: Designers are visited by their mommies and other people close to them so they can be well and truly emotionally frayed as they design their own fabrics. There’s far too much human plumbing in the workroom. Dmitry wins the day by creating an amazing jacket with floating panels to pop his print underneath, Gunnar is sent home for making a scary/depressing print and making a throwaway outfit with it. Ven is told that one more rose will get him axed… and I find myself praying he finds another way to work the dratted thing in.

What happened this week? Follow me to find out!


Things That Do Not Resemble Lima Beans

Thursday, September 20th, 2012
By Twistie

There are many things in the world that do not look like lima beans. For instance, there’s this Lamborghini:

… these Louboutins:

… Angelina’s earrings:

… and most of all, this crocheted lima bean brooch by Etsy artist Krowchet:

Fabulous Fondant

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012
By Twistie

Are you planning a spooky centerpiece for Halloween? A bountiful one for Thanksgiving? Looking for a pretty decoration for a fall wedding? Just into either pumpkins or cake decorating?

Well then, head on over to King Arthur Flour for the step by step instructions on making these winsome fondant pumpkins.

But wait! First you’ll need the fondant. Not to panic. KAF carries pre-made fondant, or you can check out the instructions for making your own basic rolled fondant at

Feed Your Head

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012
By Twistie

It’s a little known fact of my life that I first played Dungeons and Dragons when the rules were printed in three staple-bound booklets. There were no metal figures, no board, no websites devoted to giving you hints. There were Rules Munchkins, but they have been with us since the carving of the first cribbage board.

Nevertheless, dice became a way of life early on. Cool dice have remained a bit of a fondness in my world.

It’s also a little known fact that when I was a kid, I spent a lot of hours listening to the sets of LPs (that’s long playing records, for those of you who were born after the first time I had to re-purchase Sgt Pepper in a new format) my parents bought for me and my brothers of the late, great Cyril Ritchard reading Lewis Carroll’s Alice books. Oh, how his plummy tones enhanced the fun of Jabberwocky!


Finding a combination of dice and Alice was really a dream come true for me… albeit one I didn’t know I had until I spotted (get it?) these Alice in Wonderland dice by Etsy artist harshec. Each die in the set of four is hand painted after the John Tenniel illustrations, beloved by generations of Alice fans. One die is all Alice, the other three have pictures of other denizens of Wonderland and the world behind the looking glass, such as the Caterpillar, Humpty Dumpty, the White Rabbit and more.

So far these gorgeous dice are the only thing on offer at harshec’s store, but I really hope there will be other possibilities soon! Oh, harshec? If you’re reading this, I would really love a set of Oz dice based on the Jno. R. Neil illustrations and including the Nome King, the Woozy, and General Jinjur. Just in case you’re looking for another idea.

Quickie Question: Favorite Craft in School?

Monday, September 17th, 2012
By Twistie

I don’t actually have that many fond memories of school. To say I wasn’t popular is a laughable understatement. And of course there were subjects that bored or confused me with teachers who had no clue how to reach me. That happens. Learning is something I adore, but formal schooling and I were not the best of friends.

Still, there are bright spots in my memory of those days. I’m sure it will come as no great surprise to many of you that quite a few of them revolve around handcrafts.

Probably my single favorite, though, was the section in my high school art class that was spent learning to make various kinds of prints. I loved silk screening, in particular. I tend to enjoy fiddly bits, like fjords, so the precise cutting with the craft knife appealed. Oh, and while I have had many an anxiety issue, knives are something I’ve always felt comfortable with. Then there was the fun of smooshing the paint through the screen. In some ways it reminded me of playing with dough… hmmm… and suddenly I’m getting why this appealed so strongly to me: there are a lot of parallels with baking, which is one of my favorite things in the world to do.

And as with baking, there’s the joy of the reveal of the finished product. Whether it’s a loaf of crusty bread or a cool design on a tee shirt, there’s nothing quite like transforming humble materials into something unexpected and useful.

What about you? Is there a craft you learned to do in school that you found particularly rewarding? Is it something you still do?

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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