Floral desktop wallpaper from June Craft

Kayanna of June Craft is offering a free, vintage-esque floral desktop wallpaper design. Go grab it here!
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Doodled frames on envelopes

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to doodle on envelopes, this is the result. Sometimes mailing a plain envelope just won't do. Hint: laying a business card on top makes a nice template to sketch around if you have trouble with square corners. For some even better frame doodles, see here.
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Mum sewed me a travel bag!

Look what arrived in the mail yesterday! I'd begged my mom to sew me an Amy Butler Weekender Travel Bag made from the gray Tulip print in my new fabric line. I wanted the bag quite badly, but there was no way I was going to attempt that job myself. I'd read it's a doozy, and Mum concurred. But of course she did a flawless job. Look at that perfectly matched pattern on the front pocket. Oh my goodness. I'm in love.

The lining is the yellow Skiff print. She added three extra inches to the handles to make sure it would fit easily over the shoulder, which is perfect for me.

Now I just need to go somewhere.
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Quiz: Name the movie

If you like a challenge, try one of the Clockbuster movie quizzes from Veer, the stock photo company. Guess each movie title based on three visual clues. Don't try to form words from the pictures like I did—tie + man + plane = Tiemanplane? How is that a movie!? (It's not.) These aren't rebuses; just try to guess the story told by the photos. Good luck.
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Various skirt tutorials

I'm more of a jeans or shorts girl, but if you're into skirts for summer, check out these sewing tutorials. Here are options for little girls and ladies.
Left to right:
Full Skirt from Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing
Ballet Ruffle Skirt at Simply Modern Mom
5-Minute Skirt from Angry Chicken
Knot-Me Tie Skirt also by Simply Modern Mom
Socialite Skirt at Elle Apparel
Ruffled Skirt by Grand Revival Design
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Free, high res stock photos

I just came across Morguefile.com, a public image archive of free, high resolution stock photos uploaded by creative professionals. Help yourself to images for use in both personal or commercial work.
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Sometimes things don't work

See this plastic picture frame? It was going to be a cute little desk frame for wallet-size photos, made with the plastic shrink film you heat in the oven. Except it curled up like a piece of bacon. Maybe Salvador Dali would have appreciated it, but I threw it in the trash.

An inkjet printable product gave me good results once before, so I opted to try the white, non-inkjet sheets made by Graphix (purchased at a local hobby shop).

I made a quick paper template to trace, sized 200% larger than the final frame would be. I traced it onto the plastic sheet and colored it with a permanent marker. Then I cut out the front of the frame, a piece for the backing, and a stand to attach to the back.

I baked the front of the frame for three minutes on a piece of cardboard with a sheet of parchment paper on top to prevent curling, per the instructions. Here's the before and after. Boo. This is what it looks like after I flattened the hot frame with a spatula. I tried another one and it was even worse.

Here's the back piece for the frame. It used to be a rectangle. I tried placing a thin sheet of cardboard on top of the parchment layer to hold it down during baking, and the plastic went crazy.

I plan to submit it to a modern art museum where it will fit right in with the rest of the objets d'art. This thing just went from a cheapo craft project to a sculpture worth thousands. Awesome!
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Desktop wallpapers from Fossil

There goes Fossil, feeding my desktop wallpaper addiction again. A choice of seven designs in various sizes is right here. Choose "Love Our Graphics" from the Category drop-down menu. The boat is on my desktop.
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Online SLR camera simulator

On the subject of photography, did you know there's a website where you can practice using an SLR camera? Adjust lighting, ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and distance settings to see what happens to your photos. Try out CameraSim.com.
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Photography DIY: how to make your own bokeh shapes

I've seen photos created using a DIY camera trick and couldn't resist testing it myself. Bokeh is the term for the out-of-focus areas in a photo, particularly those little highlights created when photographing small points of light. Usually those highlights are circles or polygons, but it's lots of fun to make your own shapes.

You'll need a DSLR camera and a lens with a large aperture. I'm definitely no photography expert, so refer to this good article for info about lenses and settings for taking shots with bokeh. I used my Canon Digital Rebel XSi with a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens (this is my only extra lens; it's relatively cheap, lens-wise, and I love it).

You'll also need a piece of black paper, pencil, scissors, tape, and a craft knife or decorative paper punch.

Cut a strip of paper long enough to wrap around your lens. I made mine 10" x 1.5". I put a strip of tape along the entire length of one edge so it would be easy to peel pieces of tape off this smooth area, just in case I wanted to switch my shape cutouts later. Wrap the paper strip around the outside of your camera lens to form a cylinder and secure it with tape.

Then set this paper tube on a piece of black paper and trace around it. Cut out the circle. This will be the cap on the paper tube that fits over your lens. Use a paper punch or Xacto knife to cut a hole in the middle of the circle. Make the shape somewhere between 1/2" and 3/4".

I used a knife to cut a cloud, asterisk, and tulip. Tape the paper circle to the tube to form a cap that will fit neatly over your lens.

To test this little project, I needed some tiny points of light, so I threw some Christmas lights on a clothes rack (in daylight, but nighttime shots are cool, too). Then I fitted my paper cap over the lens and made sure my aperture was open as far as it would go.

Focusing on my finger held right in front of my camera caused the background to go out of focus. I moved my finger away, took the photo, and got this:


Putting an object in the foreground is fun, too. I totally amused myself and recommend you try this.
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Sew a wallet that turns into a tote

Sew Mama Sew has posted a tutorial by the super clever Lorraine of Ikat Bag today—how to sew a little zippered wallet that unfolds into a bag. Like a transformer. It's an Autobag, or maybe a Recepticon. Thanks for featuring my fabrics, Lorraine!

P.S. The Needle Shop, who manufactured my latest line, is now offering Outside Oslo fat quarter bundles. Get small pieces of all the prints as a set right here.

P.P.S. Sorry to the nonsewers for all the fabric-centric posts lately. I'm always a little giddy after a new line comes out!
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Outside Oslo Flickr group

I've started a Flickr group for the Outside Oslo fabric line, so if you make something using these prints, go show it off in the gallery. I will ooh and aah over your work! There are a few photos uploaded already, but they could use some company. Above, a pillow by The Needle Shop and a basket by Ikat Bag. Fabulous.

On an unrelated note, Blogger has been experiencing wide-spread technical difficulties for the past 24 hours. Yesterday's missing post has now emerged from the Bermuda Triangle, but without yesterday's comments. Apologies!
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Make a bookshelf cover

A project by Carol Zentgraf for the Creative Home Arts Club uses fabrics from my first line, Modern Flora. Get the instructions for making this bookshelf cover right here. (The bottom of the article shows more photos and figures mentioned in the directions.) I'm not one for putting skirts on things, including on myself, but I can see how this would be useful if you need to hide a lot of unsightly junk or perhaps small children.
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Paperless Post electronic invitations

In a blog post about electronic invitations two years ago I mentioned Paperless Post. Since then, they've been adding new card designs and making their site even better. And since then, I've been using their e-cards because they're the loveliest I've seen on the internet. The invitations look letterpressed on fine paper, and you get the virtual experience of opening a pretty envelope. They'll track your guests' responses, send reminders and the whole works—like Evite, only better looking. I'm a fan!

In case your suspicious mind is wondering, Paperless Post has not sponsored this commercial from Jess, though it probably sounds like one of those posts that bloggers write when they've been paid to give a glowing review, right? They do have a promotion where you'll receive additional free stamps for every friend that joins. So here, you might as well click this referral link if you feel like giving them a try. Above are some of my favorite designs.
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DIY decorating with masking tape

I love to peel and stick things. Especially orange things. Here's an easy way to customize plain ceramics: apply decorative tape in colors that match your home, your party decorations, or your current bouquet of flowers. Dress up inexpensive vases for DIY wedding table centerpieces or showers. And when you get tired of your design, just peel it off.

Stick tape onto a piece of wax paper and slice it into thin strips to make asterisks or bunting strings. Cut the other shapes off tape rolls with a scissors.

Sources for pretty masking tape include Happy Tape, Cutetape, and Ginko Papers.
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Fabric sighting in 1,2,3 Sew

Ellen Luckett Baker of The Long Thread just sent over a copy of her new book 1,2,3 Sew which comes out next month. My Fireworks fabric is used for the craft caddy project. Love it!

The book comes with pattern sheets and instructions for making accessories and projects for the home—many of which are embellished with pleats, decorative machine stitching, applique, or stenciling. I've got my eye on a pleated satchel, reversible girl's skirt, and a stenciled cosmetic bag. The book design itself is pretty adorable with its rounded corners, charming fonts, and lovely photography, too. You can order it here from Amazon.
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Tiny orange alarm clock

Alex spotted this tiny clock in a shop in Stockholm. Of course it had to come live at our house.
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More last-minute Mother's Day cards

Pauline of Mufn Inc sent over a link to her own last minute Mother's Day printable cards—choose from four free options: one for your Mum, Grandma, Mother, and a blank one to use any time. She includes instructions for sending mom a tissue paper flower kit, too.
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Printable Mother's Day cards

For free Mother's Day greetings, check out these DIY printables. I love this funny, pretty door hanger from Twig and Thistle. Give Mom a time out!

From Canon Creative Park, assemble a squirrel family who lives inside a tree stump. Get the card template here, available for printing on A4 or letter-sized paper.

Download free Mother's Day photo card templates from I Heart Faces, along with instructions for using Photoshop or Elements to insert your own picture. (Or just print out one of the cards and glue a photo on it if you prefer manual labor.)
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I managed to sew a little bag

I made a little cross-body zippered pouch with a scrap of the Tulip print from Outside Oslo. It's about 9" square. I mimicked the format of a sweet little bag sent to me by Nathalie awhile back (thank you, thank you!)—the size and shape are nice for carrying a wallet and just a couple other goodies while out running around.

I'm still a sewing dabbler and don't expect I'll ever be interested enough to be great at it. The process always makes me impatient and I have to fight the urge to quit halfway through. Usually because I've sewn something shut accidentally or didn't notice I was using basting stitches until halfway through my project. I'll leave the fancy sewing to others, like my mom who has promised to make me a travel bag from this new fabric collection. (See, Mum, I said it on my blog so there's no backing out now.)

Update: The travel bag is awesome.
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I love Stockholm

I usually forget to take photos when I'm out and about, but here's a smattering of pictures from my Stockholm excursion. This photo represents my overall impression of the city. Beautiful buildings. Lots of boats. Lots of water.

We spent five nights at Hotel Stureplan, which is located within walking distance of all sorts of shops, restaurants, and museums. Our room looked like this (photo borrowed from Historic Hotels of Sweden). Loved it. The only funny glitch occurred when we attempted to store some dirty clothes in what we assumed was a laundry bag provided in the bathroom. The next day the bag was empty and our socks were missing. We inquired, and the hotel clerk apologetically informed us that bag is for "other garbage" that doesn't go in the regular wastebasket, and our clothes had been thrown away. Oops. Silly us.

The weather was beautiful. We took a boat tour, visited the Photography Museum and the Modern Museum (which turned out to feature mostly photography as well), and the very interesting Vasa, a warship that sank in 1628 after sailing for just 20 minutes. Stockholm has 75 museums, and there were many others I'd have loved to see. Too little time.

At the Royal Palace a group of guards marched by and nearly ran us over when they suddenly did a 180 and marched up the staircase next to us.

We also visited Skansen, an outdoor museum that replicates a 19th-century Swedish town. Native Scandinavian animals also live there, eating mice and admiring their own reflections.

[Stop reading this sentence right now if you're a vegetarian: I ate reindeer at a restaurant a few days later and it was delicious. I highly recommend dining at Nalen.]

But by far my favorite part of the trip was browsing in the dozens of shops, admiring the furniture and housewares. Don't worry; I left a few things in the stores for you. But it was super painful and took enormous self control not to buy everything in sight. Though I don't know how I could have carried a sofa onto the plane anyhow. Along with a few future Christmas presents for people, here are some items that had to come home with me.

You'll notice I became obsessed with fish.

I'm going to bake stuff in this dish and eat cheese and crackers off this tray.

Here's an irresistible mug from the Marimekko shop.

And a piece of fabric purchased at Åhléns department store.

If you're headed to Stockholm, here's a list of my favorite shops:
Ohlssons fabric store
Åhléns department store (home section)
Nordiska Kompaniet department store (home section)
Nordiska Galleriet
Design Torget
Svenskt Tenn (Josef Frank galore)
Lagerhaus (affordable gifts here!)

I need to go back!
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