A Project You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

In The Studio


There are few things in this life that squick me out more than tooth issues, but even my dental demons didn’t stop me from creating these cute tooth fairy pillows for the Helmar blog.

Just the right size to slip under a pillow

Just the right size to slip under a pillow

Growing up, I had one of those interactive board books called Bruce’s Loose Tooth, about a moose named (you guessed it) Bruce, who had a tooth that just wouldn’t come out, despite how loose it was. So there was a string running through all of the pages showing all the different ways he and his friends tried to rid him of the tooth. The most memorable involving a moving train, I seem to recall.

At any rate, like most kids in the US (a safe generalization, right?) when a tooth came loose it was placed under a pillow and magically replaced my money in the morning. Silver dollars were the big money prize, back then, but I know I’ve heard of modern day tooth fairies bringing 5 or 10 dollar bills.

Inflation is everywhere!

While it might have been cute to make one of these for Duncan’s puppy teeth, I think we’re past that stage (not to mention he’d just destuff it), it’s a cute and simple project for those with little ones of the tooth-losing ages. It uses a fray-blocking medium as well as a basting spray that would come in handy in any number of projects, so go check it out!

DIY Planner: Fabric Fauxdori Cover {video}

In The Studio


As I said in my Helmar post, I’m in full-on planner mode these days, and in addition to reformatting my Creative Days planner for 2016, I’m changing binding styles, too!

Inspired by the Midori Traveler’s Notebook as shown in Kiala Givehand’s video on the topic, I’ve joined the many Faux-dori’s out there by making my own cord-bound planner cover!  And since the first one went so well, figuring it out as I went, I decided to make another and video it so anyone who wanted to make a similar fabric planner cover could follow along!

(Direct link for the feed readers: Fabric Fauxdori Planner Cover)

Some of the Fauxdori makers have their own shorthand (like JenDori and FoxyDori), so maybe this is a ScrappyDori? Hey, a girl can try.

I’ve been using my pink cover and my new 2016 planner prototype for a little over a week, now, and I have to say I’m really happy with the changes I’ve made so far! I want to give it another week or so before I decide on the final changes for the 2016 Creative Days planner and put those out at the beginning of October.

What I Used:

  • 16″x9″ Fusible Fleece (1 piece*)
  • 17″x10″ (ish) Fabric (2 pieces*)
  • 1/4″ eyelets (6)
  • Silkies Necklace Cords (2)
  • Foldover Elastic (~12″)
  • 2″ Charm

*To fit an A5 or US Letter folded in half-sized planner or notebook.

Along with the usual sewing bits: scissors, sewing machine, iron, etc.

You know, I’m more inclined to iron for craft projects than I ever feel compelled to on laundry days!

And even though the video is almost an hour, it’s only that long because I wanted to take you guys through the different decisions I made and how I got here–it took less than an hour of actual working time to make this planner cover and it’s mostly straight seams (I rounded the corners, but that’s a personal preference thing).


Midori Traveler’s Notebook
Kiala Givehand’s Book-in-a-Day Traveler’s Notebook Tutorial

JenDori aka ChickSparrow Journals
FoxyDori Etsy Shop (currently on hiatus)

Stretch Magic Silkies Necklace Cords (affiliate link)
Jewelry Fundamentals Thick Elastic Cord (affiliate link)
2.5mm Crimp Tubes (affiliate link)
Fold Over Elastic (affiliate link)
Blue Moon Beads Shortcuts Connectors

If you give this project a go, I’d love to see how yours turns out!

Just Waiting for the Perfect Project

In The Studio

Hello, my name is Jennifer, and I hoard craft supplies.

This is not exactly news, and while it sounds like a confession at a self-help group, I have no intention of reforming this habit any time soon as my stockade of supplies has served me in good stead for many, many years. Today is no exception.

Y’all know I have a considerable fabric stash, right? Back in December I pulled out all my fabric totes and emptied the drawers from the “Bureau of Fabric” so that I could do some organizing.

December 2014 Fabric Hoard

December 2014 Fabric Hoard

Once I had everything rolled and put on top of, underneath, and beside my ironing board I did some quick calculations and determined that the above represents about 21 cubit feet of fabric. Yeah. And I have another full bolt of silver organza… somewhere.

Tip: A full bolt of fabric is usually 10 yards. To make a quick guesstimate of how many yards are on a partial bolt, count the folded layers wrapped around the cardboard core. Every 2 folded layers is approximately 1 yard.

What does my fabric hoard have to do with current events?

Well, this weekend a sew along began over at So Sew Easy for Deby’s Conference Tote Bag and I hopped on board as it seemed like a really useful and fun project. While I ordered the recommended fusible foam and interfacing (thank you Amazon Prime for speedy delivery), I knew my stash would yield the majority of the needed supplies like zippers and even the purse “feet” that are optional but I had actually picked up on sale who knows how long ago, thinking I’d have a use for them eventually.

Conference Tote Sew-a-Long supplies

Conference Tote Sew-a-Long supplies

But the real question that plagued me over the first few days of the project was which fabric I was going to use?!

I knew I was bound to have several suitable options in the 1-2 yard increments the pattern calls for. Even more if I were willing to use more than 2 prints and patch or piece the various elements together. But nothing was really standing out to me and I flipped through my mental fabric index.

And then, then I remembered… The Fabric.

A couple years ago, while on a trip to JoAnn Fabrics on a wedding-related errand, I happened upon a fabric that was so very perfect for me that I had to have it. Regardless of the fact that I had absolutely no idea what I’d ever make out of it. I carried it around the store as I tracked down what I was really there for. I don’t even think it was on sale.

The fabulous "Laughing Monkey Pink" print

The fabulous “Laughing Monkey Pink” print

So I bought the whole bolt.

When I remembered I had this gem in my stash, yesterday afternoon, the only thing I really had left to decide was what fabric I’d pair with it–preferably something darker colored and sturdy as it would be on the bottom of the bag, and possibly the lining (depending on how off-script I wanted to go). After pawing through the browns (I color-grouped the rolled fabric after my impromptu inventory in December), I found a narrow-wale corduroy that isn’t much heavier than the printed cottons she recommends for this pattern. (I think you could probably make a version using canvas or cotton duck and skip most of the interfacing steps, but I’ll know more after I make the first one following the instructions.)

Actual sewing didn’t start until Day 3 (so, Wednesday) but I really haven’t had a chance to do any material (hah!) work on the tote so far. I should be able to catch up this weekend. So far the parceled out instructions have been easy to follow (the sew-along components include both written and video tutorials). And, if you decide to join the sew-along today or next week or whenever, you’ll start from the beginning of the 10-day series–so you don’t have to worry about playing catch-up. Oh, and the best thing about the whole thing is that Deby made the whole thing pay-what-you-want, so if you’re strapped for cash you could totally pay nothing for the course, store the info until you can collect your supplies, and sew when you’re ready!

Anyone else going to join me in the sew-along?

(And just in case anyone was wondering, I’m in no way affiliated with So Sew Easy, nor do I get any sort of kick backs for promoting the sew along. I just think it’s a neat project and wanted to share it.)

What Else I’ve Been Up To

In The Studio

After several months under wraps (hah!) I can finally reveal my secret knitting project:

I pinch! But softly...

I pinch! But only softly…

My friend Alison is expecting her first baby soon and has created a nautical nursery for the little one to come. I don’t usually knit things like blankets (the monotony does not appeal), but baby-sized is different, right? It’s the Anchor and Hearts blanket pattern from Judy’s Knitting Page and was a great project for car trips, Friday night knitting, and keeping my mind and hands busy in waiting rooms. Big Red, there, is The Deadliest Crab courtesy of Knitty.com designer Amber Allison. He was an absolute joy to work up and I was a little sorry to see him go! I hear he was a big hit with the father to be, as well!

In less-secretive project news, I created a dolly diorama inspired by various My Froggy Stuff videos. Seriously, the things she makes out of paperboard, glue, and office paper are really impressive. This diorama is 28″x14″ and more details and in-progress pictures can be found over on the Helmar blog.

Landscaping for dolls is so much easier (and cheaper) than landscaping for myself!

Landscaping for dolls is so much easier (and cheaper) than landscaping for myself!

Check out her Secret Garden and Water Fountain tutorials to be amazed and inspired!

It was with a heavy heart that I said farewell to the Gauche Alchemy team this month. After three years it seemed a good time to bow out and make room for some fresh faces over there, but I’ll miss the behind the scenes hi-jinks and being in the know about what’s coming next.

Walking towards what's next!

Walking towards what’s next!

The Love My Fabrics team also came to a close in May at the choice of the company owner, and my last projects over there were a quilted hot air balloon wall hanging and the outfits you see the dolls wearing, above. I hope the fabrics are still available on etsy as they really are great for sewing for dolls with!

Up Up and Away!

Up Up and Away!

Finally, I was interviewed over on Paint is Thicker Than Water yesterday. Last fall I contributed to the Monster Chores coloring book collaboration, and Jennyann is kind enough to shine the spotlight on each of the contributors over the course of this year. It was a fun project to work on (the monsters are doing the opposite of the chores they are assigned) and you can sign up for Jennyann’s mailing list to receive a copy (though I think the link for that may be down at the moment–she’s in the process of shifting some things around on her site). As part of the interview I also shared some images of commissions I’ve completed over the last little while, some that have yet to make it to my portfolio site just yet, so that was fun to share, too.

Custom holiday card illustration a friend ordered last year.

Like this custom holiday card illustration a friend ordered last year.

Well, now that I’m down to only 1 design team and the store’s not going to be taking up all my time, whatever will I do?

Like I ever have to worry about running out of projects!

Star Trek and Sewing: March 2015

In The Studio

My binge watch for March ended up being Star Trek, the Original Series. I’ve tried watching it in the past but just couldn’t get into it, finally chalking it up to the very heavy “space Western” vibe of the first season. Strangely enough, I really enjoyed Firefly, though, so it’s not like space-Westerns are all bad.. But something about TOS just wasn’t doing it for me.

But! With the passing of Leonard Nemoy, it seemed fitting to give the series another go. I’d made it through a big part of season 1, so this binge was mostly seasons 2 and 3. Season 2 was pretty awesome, so now I’m really glad to have watched it. Season 3? Todd kept asking ‘did you get to the space hippies?’ every time he’d pass my office door. So much that I wondered if it was one of those episodes I just listened too and never looked up during.

Nope. He assured me I wouldn’t be able to miss it, and he was right.

Direct link for the feed readers: Star Trek: The Way to Eden, Main Jam in Lounge

Dude, that’s trippy.

And the series finale? Seeing Kirk have an absolute hissy fit on the bridge was a bit of a treat. Though, in my head, I keep hearing him scream ‘respect my authority’ a la Cartman, which just makes it even more funny.

I’m still a Next Gen fan, but at least I can make that statement fully informed.

What was I doing while Kirk, Spock, and McCoy duked their way through the galaxies? Mostly Sewing.

Since this was the first month we had fabric in hand, I had two Love My Fabrics projects go live:


jvanderbeek_lovemyfabrics_botanicgarden_fabricbasket_fabriceggs_easterdecorFull write-ups and links to their patterns are available on the Love My Fabrics blog: Eggs, Basket I also have a pair of doll outfits going up on Tuesday, using the same fabric set (Botanic Garden, available in a fat quarter pack on etsy)

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

For Helmar, this month’s assignment fell due just before Todd’s birthday, so I used it as a kick in the pants to actually make his birthday card instead of buy it. That we’re both in accounting makes the card make more sense.

jvanderbeek_helmar_numbersbirthday_cardI also have a cute little decoupaged bunny hanging going up today!


Finally, over on Gauche Alchemy, the March challenge was to use a quote in our work, and I used the “keep moving forward” quote from the end of Meet the Robinsons for mine. I also learned how to make animated gifs so I could show a (somewhat rapid-fire) time-lapse progress of the canvas I made for the challenge. I think I’ll slow the frame rate down a bit next time.


I also have a secret knitting project in the works and, of course, have been busily “crafting” the business plan for The Crafty Branch. It’s not done yet (bother!) but it’s really coming along and I feel really good about what I do have put together so far. April’s gonna be a big month!