Category: how to

owl ornament diy and patterns and kits are on sale!

It’s customer appreciation day! All digital patterns, booklets, kits, fantastic wool stuffing, and stitch paintings are 25% off. Orders over 50 bucks ship free in the US. It’s such a deal. Sale ends on Monday 11/30 at midnight.

And I’ve made you something!

These little owl ornaments are a perfect project for little scraps and they are quick to make. I’m making lots as gifts or to add to packaging.

They’re inspired by the little, lost Saw-whet owl who was accidentally transported to NYC with the giant tree for Rockefeller Center this year. He has since gotten some first aid and been returned to his forest.  What an ordeal for the little guy!

owl ornament sewing pattern

Let’s make little owl ornaments!

You probably already have everything you need. And they lend themselves to batch production A glue stick really helps with that – the parts are little and a glue stick is much quicker and easier than pins. You can set up a bunch of fronts so they’re all ready to stitch.  It’s easier than pins.

download the pattern

You will also need:

  • scraps – wool, cotton and linen are great
  • a basic sewing kit
  • chopstick or similar
  • gluestick
  • buttons
  • embroidery thread

1. Cut out two body pieces, two eye pieces and one head and beak and one each of the three wing pieces.

2. With the right side of the front body fabric facing you use a tiny bit of glue stick to place your pieces as shown. Leave the top wing piece off for now.

3. Use a contrasting color embroidery thread to stitch the head cover and wing pieces in place.

4. Stitch buttons to the center of the circles with embroidery thread also. Use regular sewing thread in a matching color to stitch the beak in place with tiny whip stitches around the edge.

5. Uses a contrasting embroidery thread to stitch around the eyes and add some straight stitches to his breast.

6. Create a loop of string or embroidery thread for hanging and knot the ends. Mark the 1/4 inch seam allowance on the wrong side of the back fabric.

7. Place the hanging loop on the face of the owl with the loop facing down and the tails near fabric edge.

8.  Place the back body over the front – right sides together-  pin and sew the seam leaving open along the wing side.

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chicken ornament : free sewing pattern

fabric scrap chicken ornaments

fabric scrap chicken ornaments

Let’s make minimalist chickens. They are quick and easy and the sort of thing you can make in batches. I bet you know at least a dozen people who need a chicken ornament. Stuff them with wool or something that smells good, they are a sweet and silly surprise either way.

The idea for them turned up in my sketchbook and then bounced back and forth between drawing and sewing as many things do for me in the percolation phase. As the design became increasingly simple I was more and more happy with it. The little legs especially make them expressive and animated. I used laundry starch to stiffen them so I could get just what I wanted.
You just need scraps (stay tuned for scrap swap news later this week) and a few other things to get started.

**download the pattern**

You will also need:

  • fabric scraps – light cotton or linen
  • felt (I like wool felt)
  • embroidery thread
  • glue stick
  • stuffing
  • a basic sewing kit
  • pencil

1. Pin the body pattern to 2 layers of fabric with the right sides together. Mark the seam line lightly in pencil. Cut out the three small parts from felt. Pin the body pieces – right sides together – near the tail end.

2. Fold back the front of the top body piece.

3. Add a tiny bit of glue to the edge of the beak and waddle felt pieces and place on the body fabric exactly as shown – note that there is a little empty space above the beak.

4. Fold the top body piece back down and pin in place. Stitch just the bottom curved seam. Place the felt comb piece as shown above the body.

inserting the felt comb

5. Insert the felt comb between the layers – placing it exactly as shown – note the little triangle of space between the comb and beak.

6. Stitch the top seams leaving the center open.

7. Clip little triangle notches around the curved seam and clip  off seam allowance  the corners. Be careful not to clip the seam.

8. Use your chopstick to turn the chicken right side out.

9. Stuff the body.

10. Make a loop with embroidery thread and knot.

11. Fold the edges of the body opening in and begin to whipstitch closed. As you are closing the opening insert the loop tails with the knot just inside the folded edges and stitch it in place.

embroidering details

12. You might find this method for hiding your knots helpful for embroidering the details. I added an X on each side for eyes.  Small buttons would be sweet too. Make a few stitches for the wings on each side. For the tail I stitched through both sides with straight stitches.

13. For the legs make a knot about two inches from the end of a length of embroidery thread. Make a tiny stitch in the seam about 2 and 1/2 inches from the point of the tail and pull until the knot catches.

14. Put the needle back in and come out about 1/2 inch away in the seam towards the head.  Make a tiny knot.

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lucky fish : slow stitch project

slow stitch scrap fish diy

slow stitch scrap fish diy

Who doesn’t need some luck? Plus these very simple fish are pulling me out of slushy, stubborn stuckness.

One thing leads to another, if you let it, but first you need to start. Where I really started was ironing, ironing scraps. It went on my to do list because it was an easy win (I felt like doing it). And I had saved a couple bundles of scraps, each sent by a friend, to sort and iron pre-move.

slow stitch fabric fish diy

As I ironed and sorted by color the wheels started to turn and I felt a strong and persistent spiritual directive to slow stitch some fish.

Maybe you feel like stitching some fish too. Let it be a meandering process, try stuff. Let one thing lead to another.

** DOWNLOAD THE FISH TEMPLATE **

You will also need:

  • fabric scraps – light cotton or linen
  • little scraps, buttons lace for embellishing
  • stuffing
  • a basic sewing kit
  • pencil

cutting out fabric fish shape

1. Pin the pattern to 2 layers of light cotton fabric – right sides of the fabric together – and cut out. Be sure to clip out the little triangle notches.

2. Mark the seam line lightly in pencil.

3. Stitch the seam by hand or machine, leaving open between the notches. Find hand sewing tips here. 

4.  Clip notches around the curves and clip off the points at the nose and tail. Be careful not to clip the seam.

5. Use a chopstick to turn the fish right side out.

6.  Pro tip: use a plastic mechanical pencil to push out the corners – retract the lead first.

7. Stuff your fish.

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hand sewing tips

As chill and relaxing as hand sewing can be, something not turning out right or completely falling apart after hours and hours of work sure is frustrating. I asked the somewhat weekly newsletter subscribers a question last week – are you a beginner and if so what sorts of questions do you have? The most common answer was about basic stitching. From non beginners too. In fact most people who responded were not beginners. It has also been a question at every single workshop I’ve ever taught.

I have a strong opinion on hand sewing: small is the way to go. Really small, between 1/16th and 1/8th inch stitch length. Definitely no bigger than 1/8th. The gaps between the stitches too – smaller than 1/8th. I hope we’re still friends…

A few other tips to set yourself up for success:

*This post contains affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission if you purchase though the link. Affiliate links are marked with as asterisk.

Don’t be in a hurry – take a meditative approach. And practice helps a lot.

Have adequate light.

Mark your seam line – lightly in pencil or with a disappearing marker.

Use a good needle. I like size 9 -11 for basic sewing. *John James is a good brand and easy to find.

Thread – historically I’ve been kind of a slob about it – whatever’s around.  I think cotton is best and recently I tried  *Aurifil and it is fantastic.  And don’t use a super long length of thread – it’s tempting to avoid having to stop and rethread but it will tangle and slow you down.

Secure knots are important – more on that below.

Let’s practice on a simple shape

I’m using the heart from the free needle book pattern.  Use any simple shape you like. We will also turn and stuff the heart to demonstrate a couple more tips.

fabric heart with seam line drawn on

Before you start sewing mark the seam line clearly on your fabric, It helps immensely. Especially when you are sewing small items – the margin of error is small. Also besides large and loose stitches wandering away from the seam line is the biggest reason for hand stitching failing explosively and who wants an explosive failure?

making the knot

Solid knots are key to success! So is the thread length. Cut a length of about 16 inches. Longer thread will tangle.

1. Thread your needle and double the end of the thread.

2. Tie a knot in the doubled end.

3. Pull the ends down and clip  most of the ends – leaving just a little.

4. Bring the needle up through the fabric.  To make extra sure your stitches don’t pull out knot the first stitch – make a very tiny stitch and put your needle through the loop before you tighten it.

5. Tighten the knot. Put the needle in about 1/16th inch away to begin the next stitch.

6. Notice that I’m bringing the needle through the fabric from the top.

7. And then back up from the bottom.

multiple stitches at the same time on the needle

8. As opposed to weaving the needle through to take multiple stitches at once. This is a controversial point. The multiple stitches method goes faster. A lot faster. But the result is, in my opinion, looser and less consistent. I use it for decorative stitching but never when I’m joining layers of fabric.

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scrap fabric project : flower garland

scrap flower garland diy

scrap flower tutorial

*Many of you have asked about the wood thread winders – they are awesome! And you can find them at French General.

These garlands are an experiment in color, working with fabric scraps in green, lots of berry shades and  a little bit of very hot pink. I love the combination of the cooler organic shades with this one super bright (almost neon) shade. This is a project I brought to a workshop this past spring, you know, one million years ago. The idea was to provide an invitation to play and some constraints – in this case time (it was the end of the workshop) and color.

Buttons and wood beads add interest and a little weight so it hangs nicely and you’ll nee a little  stuffing for an extra special touch – more on that in a minute.

You could use ribbon, string, twill tape etc. for the base or make a fabric strip yourself. There are directions for that below but let’s make the scrap flowers first.

make a flower garland from scraps
You will need

  • fabric scraps
  • buttons
  • embroidery thread
  • wood or glass beads
  • stuffing
  • basic sewing kit
  • sewing machine – for making the strip

making the flowers

easy scrap flower tutorial

1. Start by cutting a bunch of shapes from your scraps. Don’t think too much or edit yourself at this point, just give yourself a bunch of shapes to play with – a variety of circles and leaves. Part of the value in this exercise for me is that I end up putting things together that I might not have if I made a plan first. Note – the shapes do not need to be perfect.

 scrap flower garland DIY

2. Layer the leaf and flower shapes and stitch them together with embroidery thread. I cut some circles into pinwheel shapes. Some are just layered and stitched, some edges are frayed. Try stuff. Make more flowers than you need, choices are good.

The puffy flowers in the necklace at the top of the post were added by one of the awesome workshops students – Michele Muska. They are a fantastic addition. She also added some charms and little fabric tails. I love the necklace.

3. The puffy flowers are super easy to make. Stitch around the edge of a circle – this one is about 3 inches across. Leave the needle and thread attached.

4. Gather until it’s almost closed. Add a little stuffing.

5. Pull tight and knot.

6. Bring the needle up through the center.

7. Loop around the edge and insert the needle in the bottom center. Bring the needle through the top center and pull tight.

8. Repeat this stitch around, evenly spaced, as many times as you like and then knot on the bottom. Add a button to the center if you like.

scrap flower pincushion tutorial

These flowers also make a sweet mini pin cushion. I liked it so much I interrupted my flower making to make a little needle book to add it to.

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miniature paper hens : free tutorial

dollhouse hen diy

miniature hen tutorial

Let’s make tiny chickens! So little and just the right size for tiny rag doll world. They are quick and easy to make and it’s fun to work on a bunch at once. I’m using crepe paper from a roll. Streamers work too but I think crepe paper from rolls and sheets is easier to work with. 

The hens are truly tiny, only about 2 inches from tail to beak. If you require a bigger little chicken I think it would be easy to scale them up.

lets’s make tiny paper hens!

miniature chicken tutorial

*This post contains affiliate links – meaning I get a small commission of you purchase though the links. The affiliate links are marked with an asterisk.

download the template here

You will also need:

  • one inch *styrofoam ball
  • *crepe paper – sheets or streamers – sheets are easy to work with I think
  • glue stick – I love the *uhu stick for paper
  • scissors
  • optional – manicure scissors – super helpful for making little cuts
  • acrylic paint and brushes
  • white glue – elmer’s is good
  • a fine tip black marker

1. Cut out and trace the two tiny template pieces onto cardboard.

2. Cut two triangles into the flat top of the head to make the comb.

3. Push the pointed bottom of the head piece into the ball.

4. Push it in until the bottom corners are inside the ball.

5. On the opposite side of the ball push the pointed bottom of the tail into the ball.

6. Push it in until the corners are inside the ball. Your piece should look like this. Paint a little white glue along the edge where the cardboard meets the ball. Let this dry.

7. Paint the cardboard the same color as your crepe paper.  After the base paint is dry paint the comb area with red and the beak with yellow. It’s already pretty chickeny isn’t it.

8. Stretch your crepe paper – streamers aren’t that stretchy but sheets and rolls of crepe paper are. Cut two strips – one inch wide and about nine inches long each.

9. Fold each strip matching up the edges – the folded piece should be about two inches long.

10. Clip into one side with your scissors creating pointy fringe.

11. Unfold the strips and cut off a two inch piece.

crepe paper hen tutorial

12. Apply glue stick to the tail and wrap the two inch fringe piece around it. Use a little more glue to tack down the end of the paper.

13. Let that dry for a few minutes. While it’s drying cut 8 one inch pieces and 6 half inch pieces.

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doll overalls : a free sewing pattern

doll overalls free sewing pattern

doll overalls free sewing pattern

Of course the tiny rag doll need overalls. And they come in mr. socks size too cause I’m nice like that. They’re easy and quick to make and you could scale the pattern up for larger dolls. Sew them completely by hand or some seams can be done on machine if you like.

doll overalls free sewing pattern

You will need :

the template – get the doll overalls template here and the mr. socks overalls template here.

light weight cotton fabric

a basic sewing kit

and optional – tiny buttons and little scraps for patches

doll overalls free sewing pattern

1. Pin the strap fabric to single piece of fabric. Pin the overalls pattern to a doubled piece with the right sides together.  Pin the lining to a single piece of fabric – you can use a contrasting fabric or the same as the overalls.

Note – I’m using a print from the French General new lawn cottons. The prints are all super sweet and great for small dolls.

2. Mark the seam line lightly in pencil on the wrong side of the lining piece and both overall pieces.  It’s also helpful to mark the front and back on the overall pieces as indicated on the pattern.

3. With the right sides of the fabric together sew just the front seam of the overalls  as shown in red above – stopping at the end of the curve.

4. Clip a couple little notches in the seam allowance at the curve. Be careful not to clip the seam.

5. Press the straight part of the seam open.

6. Press the top seam allowance over – wrong sides together – on the lining and overalls.

7. Place the lining on the overalls with the right sides together and pin. Stitch only the curved seams as shown above.  Clip little notches into the seam allowance.

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how to make salt clay

making dolls and mini dishes from salt clay

salt clay diy

It’s also called Victorian Salt Clay, I even love the sound of it. The question was “ What if you want to make tiny dishes but don’t have paper clay?” I wondered if a homemade, air-dry clay could work and the answer is yes. It was a fun experiment plus I love the way it smells – I was immediately 11 again.

Salt is the main ingredient. It produces a clay that is a little more textured than paper clay. It takes a while to dry – a day or two. You shouldn’t bake it but you can put it someplace warm to speed up the process. My oven has a pilot so it’s always a little warm and I put my pieces in it overnight. The small things were dry but the larger pieces needed another day. It’s very hard when dry and can be sanded and painted – I have tips for that below. First let’s make the clay.

You will need:

1 cup of salt
⅓ cup water
½ cup cornstarch
¼ cup cold water

!. Mix 1 cup of table salt with ⅓ cup of water. Heat in a small pan over medium heat, stirring constantly for 4 minutes. Do not let it boil. Remove from heat.

2. Quickly stir the ½ cup cornstarch into ¼ cup cold water. It’s very important that you sprinkle the cornstarch a little at a time stirring constantly or it won’t mix properly.

3. Put the salt mixture back on low heat and add the cornstarch mixture stirring constantly. The mixture will begin to thicken. Keep stirring until it becomes dough like – this happens pretty quickly.

4. Scoop it out onto a plate and let it cool. When it’s cool enough to handle, knead it into a smooth ball. It’s ready to use – you can roll it like cookie dough or sculpt it. Left over clay can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container. I did find it a little crumbly when I took it out of the fridge the next day but after I kneaded it again it was sculpt-able.

making dolls and mini dishes from salt clay

salt clay miniature teacup

I tried making some plates and cups from the tiny dish tutorial and got good results. When I formed it over things it was looser than the paper clay but it still worked. And in the plate tutorial I recommend letting it dry about halfway before cutting the shapes. With the salt clay you can’t do that – it becomes too brittle. It’s a pretty stiff clay though so easy to cut.

dollhouse dish tutorial

 

Over-all I was pleased with the results – not as fine as the paper clay but still charming and I definitely value heart over perfection in tiny dish making.

Plus it’s fun to make the clay!

 

 

I sanded the pieces and painted with watercolor, acrylic craft paint and finished some with nail-polish. Use quick multiple coats of paint. I found if I overworked the paint it would lift.

miniature cast iron pan

The handle on the tiny cast iron frying pan broke when I sanded it but I glued it back on and painted it with black nail polish. The teacup got painted with black nail polish too. The soup kettle was made by forming the clay over a handle – similar to the process for creating the teacup in the dish tutorial.

salt clay diy - pots and pans

salt clay diy

mini doll parts made form salt clay

Parts for a little doll experiment showed up too. Such a funny little lady, I love her. I’ll post a photo when she’s finished.

magic stones made form victorian salt clay

And magic stones.

I made them, that’s how I know for sure they’re magic. They are painted with watercolor and acrylic and finished with a layer of nail polish. The clay and stones would be a fun project to do with little folks and a magic rock in your pocket can’t hurt.

I hope you make victorian salt clay!

the somewhat weekly newsletter

Do you get my free weekly-ish newsletter? There are tips and tricks, ideas, stuff to try, all the latest news and blogposts and extra stuff, just for subscribers, delivered mostly on Friday. Pretty much.


the elegant rag doll sewing pattern and a free and easy doll skirt pattern

elegant rag doll sewing pattern

elegant rag doll sewing pattern

get the elegant rag doll pattern!

Elegantly dressed, or quite nude. It’s your choice. The finished doll is 16 inches tall. The pattern includes instructions for both versions. And there are sweet details like earrings and a fancy hairdo.

elegant rag doll sewing pattern

This pattern took forever to make. You may have noticed… It was mostly because I kept changing my mind about how to make and stuff the head. I’m super happy with the solution I finally settled on, I love the result and it’s simple to do. The other good news is I’m shipping wool again – it’s the ideal stuffing for the elegant dolls. 

And I’ve included the doll skirt pattern for you below. It’s a super easy way to make a doll skirt and you could easily scale it to fit any doll.

nude rag doll sewing pattern

I hope you make elegant dolls! If you do I’d love to see – please use #annwoodpattern on instagram or send an email to info at ann wood handmade dot com.

rag doll slipper diy

There is a free tutorial for the slippers too – find it right here.

 

rag doll sewing pattern

Find the skirt pattern and directions below. And to add the bustle detail like the skirts above gather a little section in the front and add a little button.

download the skirt pattern

You will need:

  • a 16 X 9 inch piece of  cotton fabric
  • one yard ribbon or string
  • large safety pin
  • basic sewing kit

easy doll skirt diy

1. Down load the skirt pattern and pin it along the fold of your doubled fabric – right sides together – and cut out. Clip out the triangles.

2. With the wrong side of the fabric facing you fold over and press the side fabric between the triangle clips.Stitch them in place with a small, neat straight stitch.

3. Fold over the top edge at 1/4 inch and press.

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paintings to stitch, the hexie quilt and nude rag doll news

painting sampler - teacup

stitch painting embroidery

Every day starts with stitching owls and castles and swans etc. and making scrap hexies. I chose a few images from the daily paintings to print on linen and stitch and I love stitching them, I find it hypnotic. It’s a free style situation – choosing lines or details to highlight and embellish. I’ve only been using 3 stitches – back stitch, satin and french knots.

a cozy sewing situation

You can find the stitch paintings in the shop.

When I finish these I’ll keep them in the hoops and hang them in a little group –  I’ll show you how to do that soon. I’m using DMC floss – the six strand stuff – separating one, two or three strands. 

painting sampler - teacup

embroider a blue bug

I love this blue bug gentleman, where is he going? Who are those flowers for? And I love the little french knot flowers for his bouquet.  I used two strands of thread for these. 

french knots:

Bring the needle through the fabric where you would like the knot.  Hold the thread tight about and inch from the fabric with your other hand. Place your needle in front of the tight floss – be sure it’s in front – not behind. 

Wind the floss around the needle twice (or once for a tiny knot),  Don’t twirl the needle to wind the floss – wind it around the needle with your non-needle hand,

Keep the tension of the floss and put the needle back in right next to (not in the same hole – but very close to it) where you began. Keep the thread tight with your non-needle hand and pull the coil downward towards your fabric. Pull the needle through to finish the knot.

hexie update:

I add a few every day- I’m moving from the multicolor scrap area into a pale section and starting a  dark blue group too, Lots of people are making hexies! Check out #hexiesforsanity to see. And I found a printable sheet of templates here.

 making a hexie quilt from scraps

embroidering a doll face

Scandalous doll pattern update: Just about there and it is awesome. The hard part for me was the head – I changed my mind over and over but finally settled on a solution I’m super happy with.  Stay tuned.  And get some fabric – muslin or any light cotton.

What are you working on?  Come across any cool projects, recipes, awesome books  or ideas you’d like to share? Please leave them in the comments.

house for a mouse : make mini chandeliers and a bed

mouse house diy projects

doll house diy

Making a cozy house for nice mice: part 2 – the bedroom

If you haven’t checked out Part 1 find it right here.

 

doll house furniture tutorials

mouse house tutorials

mouse house diy

The Admiral escorts Mrs. Croft off to bed.

 

doll or fairy bed diy

 

 

Of course they need a bedroom too, a cozy escape from the trials of the day.  The tutorial for their dear little wire bed is here.

 

 

 

dollhouse chandelier diy

*some links are affiliate links – meaning I get a tiny commission if you purchase through the links – they are marked with an asterisk

The fancy chandeliers are made from vintage beads and buttons and *24 gauge wire. Any wire small enough to fit through your beads will work. Improvise and work with what you’ve got – that is the spirit of the mouse house. I didn’t have a ton of beads – I gave most of them away a while ago – what was I thinking… So I took apart a couple vintage earrings, found a few glass buttons and beads and some tiny plastic seed beads.

I’ve got some tips below to get you started:

dollhouse chandelier diy

Make a circle of beads on your wire – whatever size you like. Twist 3 or four wires onto the ring – with a short end and a long end.

dollhouse chandelier diy

I used four wires – spaced out pretty evenly around the circle of beads.

dollhouse chandelier diy

Add a bead or button to the short ends and curl them up.

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9 creative project ideas for big folks and little folks

terrarium

terrarium

1.

A terrarium  is an awesome project for big people or little people. There are a bunch of tutorials available in varying degrees of complexity – this one is specifically geared towards little people.   My advice would be to not get too locked in by details like the right kind of container or soil, or plants, adding charcoal etc. etc.. Improvise, work with what you’ve got and try stuff. Make a magical mini landscape.

2.

This wax paper specimen collecting journal is another great idea for backyard or park adventures. If you can’t get outside it could be for collecting words and ideas.

3.

Fabric scraps –  I love this sweet scrap bunting and  there are tons of fabric scrap ideas here and here and more here.

cardboard playhouse

4.

Cardboard castles  and playhouses – I sure do love cardboard. Use whatever you’ve got to build a ship or castle or playhouse.

5.

Fun kitchen projects for kids – the playhouse above is one of my most favorite projects of all time. I made it for Clare Crespo’s Yummy Fun Show.  So many cool kitchen projects to do with your little people. And super duper talented Clare has shared all the episodes right here.

paper mache teacups

6.

Paper mache teacups –  Have you got a cereal box and  paper? Make a sweet paper mache teacup.  And you can make your own wheat paste!

paper ship and boat installation

7.

Make an installation  – a cozy space for daydreams.  In the best of times I am obsessed with making things cozy. In the current deep uncertainty this impulse has gone into overdrive. Easy to make paper boats, simple and festive paper lanterns and scrap garland (plus twinkle lights if you’ve got them) could turn a corner into a magical space for daydreams.

8.

Homemade journals – there is a great tutorial for making a journal from brown bags here and another from junk mail envelopes here.  Besides the fun of making the journal it’s a great time to get into the habit of a small daily creative practice- maybe a journal page a day – collage, drawing, collecting – whatever you like. Showing up everyday for a small daily practice is as close to a magic formula as there is for growing creatively.

guick figure expeiments created with paper and fabric

9.

Play – You know what my most frequently asked question is lately- “ Where do you get your ideas? “ Such an interesting question.  Making a painting everyday has made a big difference in the quantity and quality of my ideas. And play is a huge part of it too. Messing around without being too concerned with the outcome. Try this 30 minute figure play session.

Check the free pattern page for even more ideas! And if you have a project or idea to share please leave it in the comments section.

onward!

ann