Get Your Craft On

Duck Tape #StickOrTreat Pumpkin

This post brought to you by Duck Brand provided by ShurTech Brands, LLC. All opinions are 100% mine.

Duck Tape® is hosting its annual Stick or Treat Contest! All you have to do to enter is submit an image of a Halloween pumpkin (real or fake) decorated with Duck Tape® at the Stick or Treat Contest™ website.

A Halloween contest? Any excuse to make more Halloween decorations, and I’m in!

The contest is already running and wraps up on October 31st. The winners will be announced on November 11th.

Here are the prizes up for grabs:
First Place: $1,000 and a Cricut Mini® Personal Electronic Cutter
Second Place: $500
Third Place: $300

Here’s my entry:

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I’ve been kind of obsessed with vintage Halloween decorations lately, so this is my retro Halloween cat.

This is such an easy way to decorate a pumpkin, it would be great for kids that aren’t old enough to wield a knife on their own. Continue reading…

Boring closet door no more

This post brought to you by FrogTape brand painter’s tape. All opinions are 100% mine.

Behold! The closet door in my studio. Perfectly functional (though knobless), it is boring, boring, boring. Believe it or not, this boring whiteness is an improvement on what it looked like when we moved in, but boring is boring.

My plan all along had been to go a little crazy with the closet door. (Because the lime green on the walls wasn't crazy enough, I guess.) I thought maybe stripes or zebra or chevron.

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Finishing the door got put on the back burner, but then something serendipitous happened. I got to try out some samples of the new Shape Tape. And guess what? THEY HAVE CHEVRON.

So now something that would have taken a weekend of prep and measuring and stencilling and painting only took me about an hour and a half!

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The taping and prep took the longest (and I've learned that putting in the time for prepping is often the difference between a good paint job and a bad paint job). But the time I spent taping made the painting part a breeze!

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Done! The turquoise (or Smurf blue, as Mr. Smarmy calls it) was leftover from a hallway we painted upstairs.

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After all the painting we did when we moved into this house, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the subject, so here are my tips!

  1. No matter how small the job, always always always change into old clothes. I didn't follow this advice and wound up with a glop of paint on my NEW shirt and BEST jeans 30 seconds into this project. Dumb!
  2. Invest in a few quality brushes- they make a huge difference, and if you take care of them (i.e. wash them well when you're done), they will last forever! For water based (latex and acrylic) paints, make sure you buy brushes with synthetic bristles. Natural bristles will absorb the water in water based paints, and you don't want that.
  3. Do your paint research! Buy the right paint for the right application (interior or exterior? flat or eggshell or gloss? water based or oil based?), and find a brand with good reviews before buying! In my first painting projects, I had drips like crazy! I thought I was a bad painter, but it turns out, I was using crappy paint.
  4. As I mentioned briefly above: proper prep can make or break your paint job. Make sure your surface is clean and dust free. Fill and sand any holes and allow the proper drying/curing time for the filler. Apply quality primer if necessary. Put down drop cloths to protect your furniture and the floor (YOU WILL DRIP AND SPLATTER. Trust me.). Apply tape as needed and press all tape edges with a flat edge to make sure you've got maximum adhesion.

Check out FrogTape® on Twitter.

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

This post brought to you by Dollar General. All opinions are 100% mine.

Halloweeeeeen!

In addition to being my favorite holiday and time of year, it’s also by far my busiest season. So I often wind up short changing myself on the celebration front.

Not this year! This year I promised myself I would set aside time to decorate and craft. There will be baking! And candy making! And pumpkin carving! And the crafting of spooky things! And most importantly: decorating!

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This is a little vignette I set up in my kitchen, featuring some of my All Hallow’s Eve decoration- some new and some old.

(Mr. Smarmy even said he liked the decorations- totally unsolicited. Usually he’s not one to comment much on such superfluous things, but it just goes to show: NO ONE can resist the temptation of HALLOWEEN! Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, loves Halloween.)

The jackolantern filled with xmas lights was the first faux pumpkin I carved a few years ago- I’ve decided to carve a new one each year, so eventually I’ll have a jackolantern army (which will spend most of it’s time guarding my garage, I suppose).

The owl is a vintage thrift find of my brother’s. He was brown up until a few days ago when I gave him a Halloween makeover (quickie tutorial coming soon!).

And I scored the set of metallic jackolanterns on clearance last year after Halloween.

The new additions to my collection are all decorations I snagged from the Halloween supplies at Dollar General: the glittery orange skull, jackolantern tin that I filled with pinecones, mini pumpkins, and rubber bat ($1 a bat… I seriously wanted to buy the store out and string them up in the trees outside).

Check out your local Dollar General and let me know what favorite Halloween goodies you find!

Don’t forget to check out Dollar General on Facebook and Dollar General on Twitter!

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Crafty Business Advice: Make your handmade goods truly unique.

I’ve read your article about pricing, and while I love the theory of pricing based on labor and I agree that my skills should be at least $20 or more, who in the world would pay $60 for a little scarf just because it’s handmade?

Take a look at Etsy and there are plenty of scarves selling (just check the seller’s sold items and number of sales) for $60 and more. Yes, there really are people who will pay the price of handmade simply because they appreciate the time, and they value the quality.

There are even more people who will pay a premium if it’s really something special- perhaps it’s because you use the highest quality fibers, or dye the yarn yourself in patterns and colors no one has seen before, or because the particular crochet pattern is something unique.

Rococo Knit Shawl / Wrap by ElenaRosenberg

This is where the frustration comes from when people say, “I could get that for $5 at Walmart.” Because no- there is not a single item in my shop you could get a Walmart. Yes, you can buy a dress at Walmart or a dress from me, but they are certainly not the same dress. Not even close.

That being said, if you are selling something that really could be had for $5 at Walmart, then that may be a problem. It would be very difficult to compete directly with the largest retailer in the world- even other large retailers have failed at that.

The trick is to find that magic “something” that makes people go, “Oh! I really can’t get that anywhere else!” That takes the competition right out of the game.

Garden Update, Fall 2013

My busy season started a little early this year, so I haven’t been posting garden updates like I had intended.

Well, hold on to your butts, because here come some pictures of flowers and things.

The first up are nasturtiums. Usually I get whatever mix they have at the store, but then I saw this photo of the trailing nasturtiums in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum courtyard in Boston. I NEEDED trailing nasturtiums!

These are what I settled on:

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“moonlight” nasturtium

They’re called “Moonlight”. A nice creamy yellow. The foliage (which always reminds me of lily pads) is a little darker green than the nasturtiums I’ve grown before. Continue reading…

The Quest for the Dry Erase Refrigerator

This post brought to you by Duck Brand®. All opinions are 100% mine.

Once upon a time, I wanted a dry erase board for my fridge. Then I had this possibly-genius realization: Hey! My big ass white fridge kind of looks like a giant dry erase board! I bet I can just write all over it!

Luckily (and quite out of character for me, to be quite honest), I decided to test a dry erase marker in a very small spot on the side of the fridge first. This was lucky because my fridge, as it turns out, is not one big dry erase board. The marker actually wouldn’t come off! (I was later able to remove the mark with a magic eraser. Crisis averted!)

Okay, so that didn’t work. But what about this? I bet clear contact paper would work. Slap a layer of that on the fridge and use the marker on that!

Tried it. Marker didn’t wipe off.

Next idea… what about press n seal wrap? I tested the marker on it BEFORE I put it all over the fridge this time. And it worked!

So I stuck it on the fridge and discovered that the weird bumpy texture of the fridge made it very difficult to erase the writing.

ARG!

So finally I gave up on the fridge-as-giant-dry-erase-board dream and settled on this little dinky thing:

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Enter Deco Laminate. Guess what they have? GUESS?

DRY ERASE LAMINATE! (They also have rad patterns like chevron, holographic stars, zebra print, AND… CHALK BOARD!)

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I wanted to note that it lists the adhesive as being permanent, however it IS removable. I had to reposition mine a few times and it sticks really nice but doesn’t leave any sort of residue behind. Perfect if you’re renting and don’t own your appliances, walls, etc., or if you just don’t want to commit to a dry erase fridge forever. Obviously it would be a good idea to test it on a surface before plastering your entire house with it.

I cut out a sheet big enough to cover the top door and started sticking! I made sure to clean the door first and I removed the handle, though it probably would have been fine to leave the handle in place while I worked.

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I got it as smooth as I could, but there was this pesky branding doo-hickey on the door. So I smoothed right up to it and then cut around it with a craft knife (if you don’t own your fridge- or even if you do- please be very gentle with the knife or you run the risk of scratching the finish).

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MEOW!

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Continue reading…

Duck-orate Your Binder!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Walmart for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Stuck with a boring 3-ring binder?

Duck Tape® to the rescue!

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Here’s a quick tutorial that’ll help you snaz up (did I just say SNAZ UP? Oy.) your bland binder. All you need is a binder, some rad Duck Tape® (buy Duck Tape at Walmart), and a craft knife.

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1. Measure the binder. Mine is about 10″ wide and 11″ tall.

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2. Find a flat smooth surface to lay out your design on. I’m using my cutting mat because the tape easily peels off, and the craft knife won’t hurt the surface.

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3. I’m going for a zebra pattern, so I’ve laid out some alternating strips with angled ends.

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Continue reading…

Scam alert!

Heads up to customers and fellow sellers, there is yet another scam site stealing photos and listings from Etsy sellers. The scam site is: yourcosplayer.com

As a reminder, I only sell through my personal website (smarmyclothes.com) and my etsy shop (smarmyclothes.etsy.com).

If you ever see any of my items for sale on another site, proceed with suspicion. These sites aren’t even selling cheap knock-offs- they just outright steal your money and never send you anything.

New Ruffle Bustle Skirt Pattern in the Shop!

Well, so far I have not met my New Year’s Resolution goal of one new pattern a month. But I did at least meet the goal of having this pattern ready before Halloween!

The newest WhatTheCraft Pattern is the Ruffle Bustle Skirt!
This voluminous tie-on bustle skirt is the perfect accessory for any steampunk, burlesque, or Halloween costume-  complete your look with a corset and a pair of bloomers or leggings!
The skirt has an open front with three lace trimmed, ruffled layers that cascade around your hips, emphasizing your feminine curves. The satin ribbon ties at the waist allow for flexible sizing.

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The sample I made is Queen of Hearts inspired, now I’m thinking versions for Alice, the Cheshire Cat, and the Mad Hatter are in order! These bustle skirts would be so awesome for a group costume theme.

Quick Tip: What’s the difference between a ballpoint needle and a stretch needle?

Is there even a difference? The answer is yes. I tend to use them interchangeably, but the stretch needles do have some benefits for the extra stretchy fabrics like lycra/spandex.vintagepinksewingmachinekenmore

Both types have a rounded end compared to a universal needle, which prevents snags or runs in the knit fabric. But a stretch needle also allows for a longer thread loop, which is supposed to prevent skipping stitches.

So if you’re using lycra/spandex, I would go with the stretch needle. And when in doubt, take a scrap of the fabric you’ll be using for a project and test out the stitches with various needles to see what gets the best result.