Make a Scrap-topus

What’s an octopus made of scrap fabric and thread that you’ve got all over your sewing room floor?  A scrap-topus!  This is a little project I did this summer at camp, on the days we designated “scrap days”.  With 100 kids coming and going through the sewing studio, our scrap bins got really fun.  I wish I had a picture to explain how much stuff was exploding out of them.

Now, you are probably saying to yourself– why not just throw it away!  That seemed like a bad lesson for kids, and scrap day had another meaning– it was a day to get creative with the little things, or figure out how to make lots of little things one big thing.  Enter the scrap-topus.  It’s more of an octopus-jellyfish, because the sheer material lets you see all the guts inside.

We had lots (I mean LOTS) of googly eyes on hand, but you can use buttons, paint, embroidery, what have you.  What you’ll need:

  • Sheer fabric (tulle, organza, chiffon, pantyhose)
  • Fabric and thread scraps (the smaller the better)
  • Ribbon, string or rick-rack
  • Googly eyes
  • glue (hot or fabric glue is  best)
  • scissors

Read the rest of this entry »


Camp is over!


Duckface and duck faces.  One of the perks of being a camp counselor was first in line at the visiting petting zoo.

What an experience!  I just went from virtually no classroom experience to a hardened warrior.  I mean, literally, you have to develop an exoskeleton to avoid all the flailing five-year-olds with needles running at you.  We all survived, with just a few needle pokes and very few tears, and now over 100 kindergarten through seventh graders can thread a needle, do basic stitches and finish simple projects of their choosing.  They have the confidence to fix their torn teddy bears. Some can draft simple patterns or understand store-bought ones.  Some children can free-hand embroider while others are overjoyed to understand the simple mechanics of a needle and thread.

I’d highly recommend Steve & Kate’s Camp if you live in the Bay Area.  The food is good, the studios are varied and engaging and these kids came up with amazing ideas and had the time to follow through with them.  After camp, it seemed like every hour of their day was filled with lesson after lesson, so it was good that while they were with us, they did what they wanted.  They played.

But now I get to play for a little while.  Red rover, red rover, send my vacation on over!

July Photodump


New from my sky chart collection!  This is the night sky on December 21, 2012 from the viewpoint of Chichen Itza, Mexico.  THE END OF THE WORLD!  Supposedly.  People really, really want there to be a definite end point for some reason, and will mis-read all manner of things to figure it out.  This fiery piece of madness will be up on my store soon, along with other pertinent events in history.  Remember, you can order ANY day, not just a birthday.  Should I do the original upload of Keyboard Cat or Kim and Kanye’s first date?  Oh, so many decisions to make.


Pardon the blurry photo.  Camp’s theme this week was “Enchanted”, so I utilized a gorgeous black velvet cloak that my grandmother made my mother when she was a teen.  For some reason, I never asked my mom why she needed a black velvet cloak…. gonna go make a phone call.  Anyhow, I also made up a wonderfully easy wand which definitely “enchanted” the campers.  I’ll post a tutorial soon.


Sometimes I worry I’m not as good with kids as I need to be.  It’s really hard to help 15+ kids all do different projects at once, and it’s shown me I need to be a more patient and compassionate person.  Really, if you don’t have those two things (in any amount) step away from the children.  It’ll just end badly.  So I was delighted when one of my 3rd graders gave me this sweet little note!  If I have time, I want to re-create the drawing as a stuffie and give it to him before camp is over.  I think that’s the boy in the drawing, so maybe I’m the dinosaur?



Though I am somewhat loathe to post this, I am proud of my recreation of Girl Savage’s “feltidermy” jackelope.  I’ve had one of her pieces for years, and a friend recently commented on how much he’d like one for a friend’s housewarming next week.  Girl Savage is currently busy making a hand-made human being and has her shop on vacation, so I told him I’d make him one.  I felt so dirty making someone else’s creation!!  Justin assured me this isn’t the only felt jackelope-maker, but she’s the oldest one I know of and the best.  Mine is shoddy in comparison, but I did make a decent adjustment– backwards needle-felted hairs on the ears and chest.  Like it?


My campers continue to be awesome in their creations.  We’ve got a copy of the Cuter Book (which I’ve owned two of in my lifetime) in the sewing studio, and it’s probably the biggest hit.  The book has very small projects, mostly 2D stuffed animals that often include just gluing pieces on.  Most kids have been making those, but the above camper took it to another level and made adjustments of her own.  We didn’t know what she was working on and were blown away by the end result.  What a wacky duck!

The Artichoke Returns

Another artichoke was commissioned a few weeks ago, and now I’m making a new and improved globular fruit.  This is the shape that got me started, not so long ago when I was making things as a joke.    Giant stuffed fruit?  Mwhahahahaha.Image

It’s becoming quite beautiful, and I’ve discovered new techniques which may take me in a fashion direction.  On the agenda: leafy scarves and baby blankets.  


Pardon the canister of Panko in the background. No, this will not be a breaded artichoke. It’s just a perfect size for holding puppets upright!

I’m loving my new job at Steve and Kate’s, but it’s hard to get work done when I get home.  Kids are so tiring!  I may not be making a lot of my own, but I’m helping a lot of other crazy stuff get made.  Lots.  A lot of the campers have started on embroidery, and while they’re still doing basic stitches, they are prolific and think it’s the greatest thing ever.  I showed one girl how to do a satin stitch without wasting all your thread on the back end, and she looked at me like I told her the meaning of life.  Teaching kids makes you rethink the way you do and say everything, and I think I’ll come out a more articulate person afterwards.  


Dress pattern from young camper.