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Archive for the 'Crafts' Category

Making Your Own Evening Wear

Thursday, August 29th, 2013
By Margaret

Regarding the title of this post: don’t do it.

In fact, I can’t caution you against it strongly enough. Instead of trying to make your own wedding dress, or your prom dress, just go to a site like DressFirst and pick out something nice, click the purchase button, and wait for the UPS man to show up with the package. It’ll save you a lot of heartache in the end.

The problem isn’t that you don’t have excellent tailoring skills, it’s that unless you’re a professional seamstress and/or dress designer, making fancy evening wear is a very specialized skill, one in which minor mistakes can quickly spiral out of control and turn into world-class disasters. And because the typical fabric used in constructing homecoming dresses and prom dresses and bridesmaid dress is so expensive, a simple slip of the scissors or the sewing machine can cost you a bundle.

When you move into formal wear, you’re moving into very dangerous territory. The jungles of Africa have nothing on it.

If, however, you choose to ignore my warnings and do want to start making evening wear, use yourself as the guinea pig first. Wear your own clothes until you get good enough to make things for others. The last thing you want is to promise to make someone a prom dress (for example) only to find that you’re not able to complete the dress in time for the big event, or that your skill set wasn’t up to the task of producing something that’s supposed to be elegant and well-finished.

So, to recap. Want to make evening wear? Don’t do it.

Twistie Is a Sad Sock Monkey

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012
By Twistie

It is with a heavy heart that I have a sad announcement to make: the Maonolosphere is shutting down, and that means this is my very last post to you here on Crafty Manolo.

I still can’t quite make myself believe it, but it’s true.

This blog is very close to my heart. I love handcrafts, and I love writing, so writing about crafting has been an absolute delight for me.

But all things must end eventually, and that includes the superfantastic ones.

I will miss you all more than I can possibly say.

Still, while this is a blow, it’s not the end for me. I’ve decided to take this as the kick in the pants I needed to move onward and upward with my writing. I intend to put together a book proposal, roll the dice, and see what happens.

So stay crafty, my friends. May all your future sock monkeys be happy ones.

Now We Are Sick

Thursday, November 1st, 2012
By Twistie

That’s it. I’m officially curling up on the sofa with Jake the cat on my lap and a succession of stupid movies on the television. I’m too sick to blog today.

But I’ll be back tomorrow, I promise.

The Value of the Unfinished

Monday, October 15th, 2012
By Twistie

This is how many of us view unfinished works. We cringe when we think of the quilt squares that never got sewn together, the embroidery that we lost interest in halfway through, the bit of knitting that never seemed to go anywhere, and the piece of furniture that we abandoned because it just didn’t look like it was going to come out comfortable.

So we hide them away in corners. Sometimes we believe that we will finish them, other times we just aren’t quite sure how to get rid of them, along with all the bits and pieces we picked up thinking we could use them in our crafts, but never found the right project.

Mr. Twistie is, as I believe I’ve mentioned several times before, a musician. He’s also a composer. He has a huge file of songs he’s abandoned over the years in a filing cabinet. They weren’t getting anywhere, he couldn’t make them say what he wanted them to say, the tune and the lyrics never quite gelled together, his songwriting partner hated them, the issue became moot, two phrases and a snippet of a tune never quite turned into anything more… the reasons they languish in his cabinet are myriad.

And yet, every once in a while, he starts going through that cabinet and pulling out bits of unfinished songs and suddenly magic happens.

A phrase here and a stanza there suddenly make sense together. The lyrics from this and the tune from that bring new life to one another. A long lost point gets made, and a new song is born from the ashes of half a dozen old ones that just didn’t make the grade.

Sometimes it really is a good idea to hang onto all those half-finished potential disasters. Sometimes when you look at them again later on alongside some other unlikely stuff, art is born.

It’s a Wednesday Free-For-All

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
By Twistie

(Illustration via the Sword Academy of Calgary where you can learn lots of cool stuff about swords and swordplay, if you so desire)

Darlings, it’s been a long week at Casa Twistie and it’s barely wednesday. We’ve been having that one last heatwave of the year and it’s been unbearably hot. There was an outdoor hip-hop party at the Oakland Coliseum the other night that literally shook my bed until two in the morning… more than a mile away! And yeah, let’s just say Twistie needs a tiny break today.

So have at it, all of you! Tell me about your latest project, your newest toy, the ridiculous or pithy thing someone said to you as you were crafting away, your dream material to work with, or your memories of crafting with someone you once knew.

I’ll get the ball rolling here.

I’ve recently started sending Mr. Twistie to work with a lunchbox filled with goodies. I know, how very June Cleaver of me! The fact is, though, that it’s saving us money and – even more importantly – giving him ready access to food when he works through the day without a break.

One downside, though, we’re going through a lot more bread than usual because he likes sandwiches and they’re easy to assemble and pack in a half-caffeinated state.

So as soon as the heat dials down just a few more degrees, I’m trying my hand at big-batch no-knead bread for the first time.

If anyone out there has any tips or tricks, I’d love to hear them before I make my first batch of dough.

Clutching at Straws to Make Mathtastic Mobiles

Monday, August 20th, 2012
By Twistie

This is a decahedron himmeli mobile.

Okay, a decahedron is a polyhedron with ten flat faces. A himmeli is a traditional Finnish Christmas ornament, usually made of straw, created to encourage a good harvest.

And I couldn’t have defined either of these concepts yesterday. The reason I can today is that Aunt Peaches has posted a set of instructions for making a decahedron himmeli out of not straw… but drinking straws.

How cool is that?

Me? I’m headed to the dollar store for straws!

We’re In Business

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012
By Twistie

It’s not universal by any means, but it’s not the least bit unusual to sit up one day and think ‘hey, I could make money making this crafty thing!’

And with going into business as easy as setting up an Etsy account and posting a few pics, it seems like everyone is doing it.

Frankly, I’m in favor… in general. I believe in the handmade, the homemade, and the unique. If I didn’t, I sure as shooting wouldn’t be writing this blog! I make stuff, too, and surround myself with as many handmade things as I can in my home. Why? Because it makes me happy and satisfies my urge to be an obviously unique person.

But when going into business for oneself, it’s important to remember that it’s not just a matter of churning out doilies, sewing Teddy Bears, or doing that crazy thing you do with rubber bands all day. There’s the business end, too. From determining your product line to marketing it to handling deliveries, returns, and the inevitable customer complaints, there’s a lot of work that ranges from the tedious to the frustrating.

Luckily, there are also experts out there who can help you figure out what you haven’t thought of and help steer you in a good direction.

And just to oblige, I found a few of them to read if you’re thinking of making the leap from enthusiastic amateur to small-time business owner.


Happy Father’s Day from Crafty Manolo

Sunday, June 17th, 2012
By Twistie

And remember, real men are secure enough in their manhood to do whatever they darn well please. Lace on, you wonderful man!

It Took Me Eighteen Months…

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
By Twistie

… to craft my wedding. The bulk of that time was devoted to making the eleven yards of lace for my gown, a process that closely resembled this:

(Illustration via Diane’s Lace, Knitting, and Other Crafts)

But there were other crafts involved in my wedding. One of my bridesmaids sewed the custom gown:

(Illustration via Sewing Mantra)

And then there was tying the bouquets, doing all the other flowers, making favors, decorating the site, writing the ceremony… yeah, it was pretty handmade.

What’s the point of all this blathering about making my wedding by hand?

Well, that wedding was nineteen years ago today, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. I would still do it all by hand… and I would still marry the same amazing guy.

After all, he’s the one who took how long it would take me to make the lace into account when he picked our wedding date.

Happy anniversary, Mr. Twistie! May we share many more while making our lives by hand.

Hmmm… Sounds Familiar To Me

Sunday, June 10th, 2012
By Twistie

On June 26th at 10/9C, TLC will be rolling out a new show that bears a striking resemblance to an old show that should have lived a lot longer than it did. Craft Wars will star Tori Spelling. In it, three crafters will go head to head against one another and the clock to make crafts out of items chosen by the producers. A panel of judges will then award points. The top two go on to a second round after which the winner of the episode is crowned.

Yes, this looks like a bigger budget Craft Corner Deathmatch without the Craft Lady of Steel or the gloriously grungy crafting cage. Plus there is apparently time for Spelling to mentor the crafters a la Tim Gunn.

In other words, it looks like they took the premise of a great show that was light years ahead of its time, sucked the genius right out of it, and turned it into just another reality contest show, only without giving us time to care about the contestants.

Still, I tend far more to optimism than pessimism, and I’ll give it a go at least once to see if things turn out better than I fear.

But I can tell you right now I already miss Amber.

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