Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Snapshot(Of a Button Hoarder)

Some new(vintage) button sorting.

No, I'm not obsessed. Why do you ask?


Apparently, I have a pillow person for a child...


Today is laundry day, which means that if you stop by my house, you will see this-

I air dry our laundry as much as possible, even in the winter(I just don't hang them in the porches when it's cold-I use the kitchen) because it saves not only energy, but my clothes, which experience much less shrinkage. It may seem like a small amount of savings, but can you imagine how much energy could be saved if EVERYBODY in America air dried just a quarter or half of their total laundry amounts? Amazing things could be achieved...

Snapshots-Works In Progress

What I am working on today-one very large button embroidery and one very small sewing thread embroidery.

Monday, July 30, 2012


I find the sketchbooks of other crafters and artists quite interesting(because I am NOSEY) and inspiring, so in the interest of maybe inspiring other people(since my crappy sketches are not so intimidating as many others are) I am going to start regularly(which means I might actually get around to it, like, once amonth maybe. Ha.) posting snapshots of sketchbooks here.

Sobchak. Brandy Sobchak. Because, yes, when I cannot fall asleep at night, I sometimes sketch portraits of myself as the female Walter Sobchak...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

What The Husband Made Today

But, actually, it was more like last week...

So, I did my first craft show back in March, and one of the things I learned, and it was quite the embarrassing lesson, is that you really need a good, cohesive booth display to help draw shoppers to your booth. Not knowing what the heck I was doing, I just brought all my stuff and plunked it down on a table. After perusing the market and glancing at the displays of others, I realized that I needed things like height, depth and a theme to help make my both better branded and more pleasing to the eye. I decided to go with a pretty cupcake bar(like at a nice party or pretty cupcake shop), and use vintage glass cake plates and candy dishes, along with some custom, wooden, three tier cupcake stands which would be painted white, to match the shabby, retro sweets theme.

Custom cake plates/stands can rather expensive(and for good reason!) when purchased from a professional, so I enlisted the help of The Husband, who graciously used what little free time he has had this summer(he's been working seven days a week at the plant, the past couple of months) to design and build me cupcake stands that work well not only for my booth displays, but for actual cupcakes as well. As if I needed encouragement to do more baking...

Since we weren't exactly sure just what sizes we needed to go with for my booth display, we made a few rounds of cardboard mock ups before starting the actual finished product, which looks like this...

I am completely pleased with how they turned out. They are exactly what I wanted, simple and clean, so that they are capable of blending in with many types of decor and do not steal the show from my actual products. I received many compliments on them throughout the course of the market, which was hilarious since I had no sales of the items I was actually selling. That's small town Midwest for you, though-interested in the simple, plain white cake plates which we could make millions of nearly exact copies of, but not so interested in the bright, colorful, quirky and one of a kind, upcycled handmade textile creations I put my blood(sometimes), sweat(not so much) and tears(ALL THE TIME) into...HAHAHAHAHA!

*sobs profusely*

Anyway, only one is pictured, but they look exactly alike, so you should be able to picture both together in your head...

I am so thankful to have a husband with creative abilities that compliment my own. It is pretty cool to be able to say, "Hey, I made a sketch of this thing I need, can you make it for me?" and have him actually be excited to do it.

Now if I could just get him excited about washing his own socks...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What We Made Today-Cardboard Box Monster

Recently, The Kid took to a box that my Dad had sent home with me to re-use for shipping from my etsy shop. I don't know why, but she kept insisting that it was a monster, making it growl at me and everything, so I decided to go ahead and give her an actual monster. I mean, I love her imagination and all, but it's just hard for me to feign imaginary fright at the sight of a blank white box...

The Kid had The Husband and I add a few meals for the monster while we were eating breakfast. Can you tell mine were drawn using my "wrong" hand?!?!

Ahhhhhh kids...Why can't we maintain such fabulous imaginations as adults???


I will soon begin working on a line of upcycled textile chain jewelry. This is my first prototype made only to help me remember my idea before I wrote it into a sketchbook and accidentally buried it. I foresee the actual bracelets being hand sewn so they look much more smooth and clean. This will also mean that there will be no electricity used in the physical making of these bracelets! Probably no electricity at all as long as they are made during the day when the lights and central air are off at our house...:D

What We Made Today-Like Mother Like Daughter Edition

Today I finally decided that the Kid was old enough to begin sharing my artists' acrylics with me. As much as I love to sew and embroider, illustration is my first love(I always thought that I would end up illustrating children's books someday!), and I have to make time for it or else I get a little nutty(and not in a good, fudgy brownie or Peanut Buster Parfait kind of way...). I think every type of art or craft I do helps me improve all the others, so I feel no guilt about subtracting time from my crafting to do a little pen sketching or paint sketching.

 The Kid loves to watch me work, so I thought that I'd let her try a little bit of "big girl paint" today and see how it went, since she does pretty well with her watercolors. I am happy to report that she was very careful with the paints, didn't try to eat any of them, and only put her face in her painting once, which I actually thought was pretty inventive, so I didn't mind helping her clean up the little mess that followed. I have no specific hopes or dreams for my child, aside from health and happiness and responsibility, but it is kind of exciting to think that she too may gain some of the valuable life benefits that creativity has offered me, throughout my life.

Here's our paintings...

Painting on cardboard(I saved from boxes that advertising material arrived in at my old job) is a whole different beast from canvas paintings. Cardboard sucks up the paint so you have no time to really push it around and mix it, the way you can with a gessoed canvas. Thus my cardboard paintings are a slightly different style from my oil paintings or canvas acrylics. You can still tell their mine, though. I definitely have a particular style. I have a penchant for portrait painting, and I usually paint women. Those women are generally big eyed, and are small lipped, with faces that are always "off" in one way or another. I was greatly influenced by the Post Impressionists as a young artist, and I think that influence definitely shows in my work, which never seeks to be part of the worlds of realism or photorealism.

The Kid's painting is on the left, and she helped me with the painting on the right. Pay no mind to the luchador or band-aid on the floor. The Kid is going through a band-aids=stickers phase...*sigh*

Painting is such fabulous creative therapy. Whenever I feel depressed, in a rut, angry or creatively worn out, painting always help mellow me out, revive me or energize me, depending on the circumstances. It is a wonderful way to deal with issues that are difficult to honestly and openly deal with as well, much like writing in a journal is. What you may feel uncomfortable or unsafe saying in the "real" or public world, you can always feel free to say on a canvas, or cardboard or paper, because nobody ever has to see them, if you don't want them too. OR, they can view your feelings and emotions without even really understanding exactly what you are saying. You can make a statement in public, and expose people to the statement, without them even understanding what exactly they are being exposed to, aside from "good" or "bad" art. Ha.

I often find myself thinking there there are probably hundreds of dead artists who are laughing in their graves over the lengthy and detailed political, social and personal meanings that art historians have attributed to their paintings. I know I will be, should anyone ever take an interest in the body of work I shall leave behind...

Anyway, painting is awesome. If you don't do it already, you should try it. Really. Don't be afraid of sucking. Just paint for yourself and you'll be more likely to experience the joy/relief/serenity that it can bring.

I find that philosophy also holds true for most things in life...

Thursday, July 26, 2012


This turkey, who has made a habit of shredding our toilet paper, will attack anything and everything. Most especially if it belongs to The Kid.

Have it your way, tiny tiger, indeed.


Why you no like me to sharpens claws on toilet papers?

"Glamiowr Shots by Brandy"

Totes McGee

After vending at a very well loved craft show this weekend where I had dismal sales(try ZERO), I realized that there is a great disconnect between my "etsy mentality" and my "craft show mentality". On etsy, the general unwritten(though very much voiced opinion in the forums) rule of thumb is to not visually overwhelm your customers with too much merchandise, or merchandise in too many differing categories(multiple medias, or cross categories like vintage and crafts), or else they will leave your shop. Some people even claim they won't buy from a person who makes multiple types of things because they feel it shows that the person is not a "master" at their craft(oh, excuse me for thinking that a person could make more than just aprons or pot holders and still be considered a master apron or pot holder maker). Of course there are exceptions to this "rule", but there are many people who specialize in making one very specific thing and that one specific thing only.

This is very hard for a girl with multiple crafty interests to comply with. But, for the sake of my shop and the fear of overwhelming people's fragile minds, I have majorly streamlined my shop and tried to focus only on "accessories" and embroidery hoops, which honestly, I am sure some people see even that as being too confusing. I have been focusing on building up stock for the shop, but at the same time, neglecting some of the other crafts that I really enjoy participating in.

While at the craft market this weekend, I realize that the "etsy mentality" which I have adopted, may actually be biting me in the butt when it comes to the shows I attend at. You know, not everybody wants to wear a pin or hang a button collection on the wall, but they might like a bright little stuffie or tote bag, and I can definitely make those things too.

So, I've decided to return to making some of the other things I love, but rather than list them in my etsy shop, I'll just hang onto them until market days. Unless I get a really big stock built up, in which case I just might open a secondary craft shop and list those items in there.

I though I'd post a little preview of my newest endeavor today.

I'm calling them "Scrap" totes, because not only are they made from crazy assortments of scraps, but they also remind me a bit of how scrapbook pages are often laid out.

Here's the first two-

The base, braided handle and liner of this tote are made from a really pretty floral bed sheet. The bag is embellished with vintage lace trims, vintage grosgrain, vintage quilt squares and some flower patches from The Husband's stash. Combined together, they make a lovely little hippie chic tote for the girly who is a gardener at heart.

This bag is made with a funky little tucked floral, and also features vintage lace, vintage florals, a neat old patch of a compass and some pretty vintage rick rack. It also has a braided handle and vintage bed sheet as a liner.

I have several other styles of totes I am working on, including patchworked and plain and simple totes, but all will be made of vintage and upcycled components.

If interested, I can also customize totes, and make them out of your own personal clothing or linen remnants. I am in the process of making one for myself right now, that is composed mainly of The Husband's shirts as a base and appliques and patches clipped from The Kid's baby clothes as embellishments.

If you are interested in owning any of the specific totes I post here on the blog, from this point on, I can go ahead and list them specially for you on etsy, I just won't be listing them as regular stock, so you'll have to message me and tell me to create a "reserved" listing for you. Which I will be more than happy to do!

Also, keep a look out for creepy cute monster and animal stuffies, which should be arriving on the blog next week...

They're more cute than creepy. I promise.

*Brandy Cupcakes is a notorious liar*


Late night sewing last nigh.

No, that's not grape juice in my jelly jar...


Great, BIG things are afoot.

No, I'm not talking about me...

It's the embroidery hoop. It's really big. See? Yeah.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


$1.39 a pound.

One thing I love about summer...


I left this on the table for The Husband to come home to, a few nights ago.

He said to me,"You do realize that the 'm' is a 'w', right?"

Isn't love grand?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

What We Made Today-Cardboard Tube Toys

Our local library hosts little craft activities for kids, once or twice a week, and recently, The Husband began taking The Kid to participate in these neat little projects. Last week the theme was owls. The kids made these neat little owl babies out of regular old toilet paper rolls.

By the time she arrived back at home, The Kid had plucked her owl clean of all its glued on feathers and eyes, so we decided to redo it. I made a simple outline of an owl with Sharpies, then she and I used crayons to fill him in. She loved him so much she took him to bed with her, which is crazy considering all the plastic her room is filled with.

While she was sleeping, I spied the cardboard paper towel tube( this is the only roll of paper towels I have purchased in over five or six years! And I only bought it to use for her birthday party. That was three months ago. Clearly we aren't big on paper towels...) that had been hanging around the house for a few days as her "spotty scope"(and of course if you watch Dora the Explorer, you know exactly what I am referring to) and decided to give it a cosmetic lift and surprise her the next morning. I used Sharpies to draw and color until it resembled something that wasn't simply cardboard and cylindrical.

You might be amazed by how long a kid can play with a simple cardboard tube. If you can get them to color AND play with it, you will be securing yourself a good half hour to hour of creative and educational(perfect activity to discuss recycling/upcycling) learning.

And heck, I'll just admit it, they are awfully fun for grown ups to play with too.

Here are some things we viewed through our spotty scope!

I have to say, as an artist, the spotty scope can actually be a useful tool. A painting or drawing, when viewed spot by spot through the spotty scope, can definitely clue you in to your piece's strengths and weaknesses.

But don't take my word for it. Try it out for yourself and see.

I mean, make one with your kid(s) and teach them about upcycling!

Yeah, that's it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What Me Made Today-Vintage Pillowcase Skirt

Like many other thrift store fabric enthusiasts, I have quite the collection of oddball pillowcases hanging around my fabric stash. I don't know what it is about them that is so appealing, but I can't quit buying them. Maybe it's the price. At 10 cents to a couple of dollars a pop, they make for some pretty cheap material. Maybe it's because I feel sorry for them, as they are often alone, orphans, with no matching cases or bedding to be found. Or maybe it's because they are often in such great shape, since I think the thrift store workers automatically toss the gross ones.

Whatever the reason, they are pretty darn useful. You can use them as they are, to machine wash your bras in, to pack your kid a last minute overnight bag to Grandma's house(or camping), or as a small laundry hamper liner for your kid's dirty clothes.

You can also cut them up and use the material for patchworks, tote bag liners, new pillows, dresses for little girls, and as I recently discovered, skirts for big girls. Like me!

I bought this vintage(I'm thinking 1960's or 70's) pillowcase, for 88 cents I believe, at our local Goodwill. I was drawn to the bright circus like pattern and thought I'd make a unique tote bag out of it. But after inspecting it more closely, I decided that I couldn't cut it up too much(it's a long pillow case) because it was in such fabulous condition.

So I decided to upcycle it into a skirt, which was about as easy peasy a project as it gets. I cut the top and bottom seams(no need to cut the side seam as it becomes the side of your skirt), sewed the open sides together to create a second side seam, hemmed the top and bottom, then folded the top hem over and sewed it over the elastic(I stitched the ends together to create a loop of elastic) to create the casing that became the waistband. The whole project only took about an hour or two! Evan a lazy bum like me can handle that kind of gig!

I took these photos on our front porch, where Fanni Quinn resides, so that's why there is an annoying and garish bright light invading the frames. In case you were wondering. Hey, I run a business, cook and clean for my family and am a full time stay at home/work at home mom. I don't have time to wait around for perfect sunlight, yo!

One thing I am learning about elastic, you want to cut your waistband pieces a little smaller than you think you need them. As you sew, you'll probably stretch the elastic out a bit, and you'll probably stretch it out a bit more as you wash and wear your skirt. The cool thing about elastic waistbands is that they are super versatile. I can wear this skirt on my natural waist with a belt over leggings, or a little lower on my waist as you see in these photos. As I lose weight, I'll just wear the skirt lower on my hips. Unless I lose a crap ton of weight(rolls eyes), in which case I'll just slit the casing open and trim then re-sew the elastic. EASY PEASY I TELL YOU!

Now, if you are lucky enough to be a skinny Minnie, you can use pretty much any standard pillowcase to make your skirts. But, if you're a more voluptuous gal like me, you may need to take a tape measure with you when you go pillowcase shopping, to make sure your case will provide enough width. Also keep in mind that well worn and washed white/yellow/pale pillowcases are gorgeous and soft, but they may also be very, very transparent in the sunlight, so maybe think about adding a liner if you are concerned about modesty.

Also, when you make an elastic waistband skirt, and you're a hippy(meaning ya got big 'ole hips) girl like me, you have to be careful with how full and how short you make this type of skirt, because too much fullness and not enough length will make you look ever so much more hippy and/or bulky/awkwardly shaped. Like you've got a circus tent orbiting around your waist and butt. True story. I speak from experience.

This particular skirt is a little on the full side for how short it is, but it is easily tamed with a long tank top or a belt(when worn higher on the waist).

The best part about these skirts is that they can go many different style directions. Use a vintage Superman or Cabbage Patch case if you're the Queen of Kitsch. Use a pretty, faded, vintage floral for a sweet and demure Sunday afternoon picnic skirt. Or, pop open your findings drawer and dig out some vintage lace, rick-rac and patches to create a truly one of a kind, unique and funky, wearable art piece.

I can hardly wait to get started on my next piece!

So, if you have some pretty pillowcases in YOUR stash, or even on your bed, you better hide them next time I come over, because I am now officially a pillow case snatching fool.

But seriously, better hide that vintage Star Wars sheet set...

*These ARE the Star Wars pillow cases you are are looking for...to give to Brandy Cupcakes...*



This magical morsel on a stick, is a chocolate covered Twinkie.

Don't act like you're not impressed.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What Mom Made

My Momma has offered up another fun round of treats for The Kid and I, so I thought I'd share. I get a crap ton of inspiration from the things my mom makes, and all the free patterns she finds as she tools around the Internet, so maybe you will too!

First up-the most adorable little crocheted basket full of face scrubbies!

Mom took the liberty of sewing two scrubbies together to make one scrubbie with a pocket for fingers. This makes them soooo much easier to hang onto in the shower!

You'll recognise these from my post yesterday. This fun and amazing Thor set is actually, technically, the Kid's.

 This also belongs to The Kid.

But that doesn't mean that I can't play with it too!

This is a groovy little headband that my odd shaped head totally loves because it is soft and smooshy, which means it actually conforms to my head, with the help of a couple of bobby pins to hold it in place.

Yes, I know my shirt and head band don't match. It's a Tuesday. What can I say?

I love the vintage feel of it!

Mom also makes these big crochet flowers that I just adore. She made me a brightly colored set which I then turned into hair clips.

The necklace I am wearing was made by me. You may recognise it from an earlier post, actually!

Yes, I actually do wear the stuff I make. Why else would I make it? 

If you have never crocheted before, because you think only granny square making grannies do it(I love granny squares AND grannies, for the record) there is no time like the present to start!  There are so many free patterns online with instructions to make so many cool things, you'll never run out of project ideas.

In fact, Mom was showing me one of her next projects a couple of days ago-a crocheted hat that looks like a plucked chicken, complete with drumsticks attached to the sides! Yes, of course I'll be talking her into making one for me, are you kidding?!?!?! Life is too short to not wear a plucked chicken hat!

And pictures will follow. I'm thinking of asking her to make it pink...

I'm trying really hard to talk the woman into opening an etsy shop, but so far, no shop. She has her reasons, but all I hear is, "blab blab blabbity blab."


Parents. I tell you.