Fantastic Linens with just a Crayon?

I thought that it sounded too good to be true. I really did. How can you have awesome linens – tablecloths, napkins, placemats, pillowcases, and even bedsheets – without picking up so much as a needle and thread?

But then I read a great little how-to book called Making Paper & Fabric Rubbings by Cecily Barth Firestein. Not only did the book remind me of all those grade school classroom field trips to rub etchings off cemetery markers and gravestones, but I also had a chance to experience the ‘real’ brass rubbing first hand during a trip to Stratford, Ontario one year back in high school (since brass rubbing is apparently originally a British craft – or so they say – being able to work with brass rubbings in Stratford makes a lot of sense) and this book helped me to remember just how much fun the whole thing was. And easy.

So, as it turns out, I am a convert. It didn’t take me long to figure out that it really is easy to make great linens without any sewing required. I just needed to remember the fun art of rubbing and to think about it in a slightly different way. Instead of rubbing gravestone images onto paper, really gorgeous rubbings can be done on fabric to make great linens . (I suppose that it could make great clothes too, but I am going to have to give that a little more thought.)

All it takes is a colourfast crayon (wax based is best and if you can get your hands on some rubbing beeswax or some wax based colour fast pencil crayons, that is even better!), some textured items, and whatever linens you want to work on. (I strongly suggest trying this on a sample first… I learned from experience that there are a lot of factors that could make this project gorgeous or not-so-gorgeous. Better to be safe than sorry with this one and try a little sample first.)

And I have to say that this was really just one of those fun rainy-day activities for grown-ups and kids alike… it was kind of amusing to see just what textured items produced what kind of rubbings.

So, I started by grabbing a selection of textured items that I thought might look great on fabric. The book mentioned lace, so I started there and then went for a walk around the house to grab a picture frame and whatever else I could find. Here is a sample of what I came up with:

Then, I grabbed a selection of crayons and pencils and pastels, and anything else that I thought would make for a good rubbing, but that would also be colourfast once I found a texture I liked.

With paper in hand, I taped the textured lace to the table top (I didn’t tape anything heavy down because I didn’t find it slipped around all that much), placed my paper on top, grabbed a pencil, and started rubbing.

There were alot of things that didn’t work. But then again, I really liked the way that a couple of the lace rubbings turned out and grabbed my fabric to give it a try – before I worked on the final linen.

This is what I came up with in the end – I haven’t yet done this on the linens – I am still working on the sample pieces, but these are the rubbings that I think I will use whenever I decide what linens they should go on (please note that I used a soft pink cotton fabric and that is why the photos didn’t come out so well):

Happy Easter!

I know that this Easter wish is coming to you a little early (it is only the Tuesday before Easter), but I just wanted to take a moment before all the hectic (but fun) family time to come to wish you a very joyful and a very creative Easter with your family.

And – just in case you haven’t got your Easter weekend already crammed with fun things to do, I thought that I would share just a few recipes that are fun for the whole family to make together:

Suite101 has a really cute little recipe for bunny rolls (they look so adorable).

Have you ever thought of Easter sugar cookies? (who says sugar cookies are only for Christmas….)

And just what is Easter without chocolate?? These chocolate Easter eggs look awesome :)

So, bring out the recipes and have some fun! Or better yet, head outside with your favourite kite or try your hand at a good old fashioned bubble gum blowing contest. Whatever you do – I would love to hear about it! Comment on this blog for a chance to win a sample pack of Stockmar all natural Beeswax crayons from Daylilies. All comments (tell me something about your fun and creativity this Easter) must be in before April 6th.

On that note – I wish you again the best Easter ever (or at least an Easter filled with fun, family and great laughs). I will be on vacation until April 6th. See you then!

All This Talk of Chocolate Makes Me Think of Valentines

As I mentioned yesterday, tomorrow is National Chocolate Cake Day here in Canada. And I know that I, for one, am going to be ready to celebrate. I think that it was a genius idea – picking a non-descript, cold winter’s day in late January to celebrate something as enjoyable and smile-making as chocolate cake. But all this talk about chocolate kept bringing my mind to Valentine’s (it really isn’t all that far away).

This year, I had a moment full of great thoughts about beautiful homemade Valentine’s cards and nifty paper crafts, but that moment ended when I remembered how paper crafts are just really not my strong suit. So with that out the window (I will probably still make cards, but for what ever reason, I just can’t seem to get my stamps and my cut outs and my layouts nearly as precise as all the pictures in the stamping magazines, so my cards will most likely be collage or a quick hand drawn sentiment or a copy of the funniest cartoon in the paper that week…anything but detailed paper craft) I had to think of something else.What are you doing to showcase you (or your children’s) personal creativity this Valentine’s? (this is where I get down on my knees and beg for ideas)

I did come across a really cool idea for using leftover crayon bits – you know the parts of the crayons that are crushed, broken, chewed, or nobody wants – to create decorations for cards, tags for presents or just some really cool table top decorations. offers up some great instructions for melted crayon heart valentines – a neat idea for a little creative reuse/recycle and showing your loved ones you care enough to make something just for them… could it be any more perfect? (I also think that this could be a really neat idea to make picture frames, or funky jewellery boxes or bases for pincushions or vase wrap around thingys…. oh the ideas are endless!!! And all with a few leftover crayon pieces!)

As I write this, I really might have to give this a try. I am also thinking that I have just a little organic playdough left over in the studio from pre-Christmas sales that just might turn into a little valentine’s creativity… hmmm.

Do you have any ideas yet? (If you are reading between the lines here, you’ll know that this means I am still looking for ideas… any to share?)

(all of the great heart clipart was provided by WebWeaver’s Free Clipart if you are looking for some valentine’s stuff for your creative work.)

Baskets, Baskets and More Baskets!

As soon as I made the candy apples (mmmm!) yesterday, I got to thinking about plates and platters and baskets. After all, you need to put those candy apples in (or on) something… (unless you eat them before you give them, in which case, you don’t have to think plates, platters or baskets at all).

But then, as the idea percolated (yup, it really did), I thought back to some of the most visually appealing gifts I have received, and how many of them were simple gifts presented in gorgeous baskets. (As I write this, I can’t stop thinking of the perfect Christmas combination – a gorgeous basket filled with freshly baked homemade chocolate chip cookies or shortbread…)

And in the middle of all this thinking, it dawned on me, that the heart crayon patchwork square that I posted on this blog a few weeks ago would make a great basket! So, I dug the square out of my UFO drawer and got to work. This basket is a shallow basket (perfect for those cookies!), sort of a cross between a tray and a basket with a firm bottom and sides (sturdy enough to carry a lot of cookies). I have some tweaks to do to this pattern, but I will post the pattern on the Daylilies site early next week. It is an Easy Intermediate project and took me about 2 hours to complete the basket (not including the time it took me to complete the crayon patchwork center.heart basket

If you are interested in the idea of baskets and cookies for Christmas gifts this year, but don’t want to sew, has a great pattern for a crocheted basket; has a great pattern for a mini printable paper basket; Ron Hazleton has posted a beautiful wooden basket pattern, and don’t forget the pattern for the basket featured here, on this blog, will be posted on our patterns page.

And… just in case you are looking for something a little more interesting than cookies to put in the baskets (although I don’t know why…), check out this link for great ideas for gift basket fillings.

All in all, I think that baskets are great for the holidays – whether you are just using them to carry extra food, or gifts, or whether the baskets are the gifts, baskets  are worth a second thought. Maybe this is the year to personalize those baskets in some way.  Do you have any ideas to share about your own basket making or giving experiences?

The Journey of the Rose… a path from inspiration to inspiration.

When I left yesterday I had only a pattern and an idea.

It was a good idea…. but…

My idea was that I would colour my circles to match the original cross stitch napkin. This, is a good idea. The hitch came in when I couldn’t decide what to apply colours with. Paint? Markers? Crayons?

I really didn’t feel like getting into the mess of paints, so I ruled that out. As it turns out, I don’t have any markers in my studio that don’t bleed on fabric (I am going to have to fix this), so I ruled that out. Crayons, it was.

Crayons, it shouldn’t have been.

I have mentioned before how I like the beeswax crayons here in the studio, and since I was definitely working on fabric, I figured that these would be the best choice for this project. I admit. I was wrong. But I learned from my little faux pas. Apparently these crayons are perfect for kids, perfect for large areas, and perfect for a lot of other things, but because of their larger and easier-to-hold size, they are NOT perfect for small detail work – like the dots in this project.

I also admit that I am a slow colour-er, but between the large crayons and the slowness of my colouring, this little design took me over 2 hours to colour (I know… crazy, huh?). It looks really good though – but the real question is… would I do it again?

The answer would be a categorical NO! – not with those crayons anyway ;) The project itself has definite merit. Next time, I would  definitely use markers – something like a Sharpie or a fabric marker.

So – now that I am finished colouring my design (onto a piece of  broadcloth – did I forget to mention that?), I have decided that it will make a very pretty throw cushion. The only problem? Again, my crayon choice. I like it. I really do. But the reality is, that if I had chosen to use markers to colour in the design, my edges would be crisp and clean, and I could have sewn this design into a throw pillow cushion and gone on my merry way. But I didn’t. And the crayons did not leave a clean crisp edge.

Rose in Dots

I suppose I could have ignored the fuzzy (okay, not fuzzy exactly, I might be exaggerating a little – but less than crisp for sure) edges and sewn this design up into a very nice throw pillow cushion, but I know that this little design deserves more…. and so I enter into my next folly of the project. Handstitching.

And again I say, don’t get me wrong… the handstitching looks great, but will take me forever to finish. I don’t know where I went wrong… originally, I was prepared that this project might include some final overstitching, but in my head, this was all done on the sewing machine (quick and painless). What I didn’t think through, is that these dots, at this scale, are too small for the sewing machine foot to get around without much cursing (mine). So – if you are looking for me… I will be in the studio… stitching.

.Rose in Dots Detail

One Last Minute Thanksgiving Thought…

So turkey day is fast approaching and, if you are anything like me, there is lots
to do before now and then. So where is the time for creativity?

Good question.

But I have a good answer:

All that pent up holiday energy your kids have + the time they have to wait while
the turkey is cooking = an opportunity to get the kids creative AND keep them
out from underfoot while dinner is cooking.

All you need is an old sheet (washed, of course) and some crayons (again, I am
going to recommend Stockmar’s Beeswax Crayons, but that is only because I
love them and because I know that they work fabulously on fabric).

Throw the sheet on the table and give your kids a chance to colour the
Thanksgiving tablecloth! This is a really neat heirloom project because if you
heat set the crayons (after Thanksgiving when you have more time, of course)
then you can bring this same tablecloth out again next year, and the kids can
add something to their work of art again (and again the next year, and the next.
..) This can be a free-form colouring project, or there are lots of free printable
Thanksgiving colouring pages on the internet (like here or here). As long as you
are using a light coloured sheet to colour on, just lay the printable colouring
page under the sheet and trace the lines onto your colouring surface with a
Sharpie or some other felt tip marker.

And…if you are worried about spilling gravy on the newly coloured work of art,
just use a clear plastic tablecloth (or trim the tabs off a clear plastic shower
curtain) to protect the drawing.

Or – if you are looking for something a little more interesting or different than
colouring on fabric, and the kids are older, grab some tissue paper and have
the kids colour their thanksgiving pictures on the paper (the reason that the kids
have to be older is that tissue paper can tear with pressure, so the kids need to
be able to handle this possibility). Once their pictures are all drawn, use some
of that homemade miracle glue (the recipe is here) to paste the pictures face up
against a plastic tablecloth for a funky frosted/stained glass/art style
tablecloth. If you have a piece of tempered glass, this same technique can be
used to make a gorgeous hot plate to set your turkey on!

What a great way to experience creativity as a family this turkey day :)

Ideas and Choices (Oh… and Merry Christmas Too!)

Today is one of those days that I just couldn’t seem to stop searching the
internet. Every time I thought that I would stop my search and turn off the
computer, I found another interesting something and I went on to read and
search some more. The big problem (if you can call it a problem) is that I found
a site that lists A LOT of other sites with free patterns and ideas. Every link I
hit ended at another fantastic site and… I just kept searching. (If you are looking
for good quilting and stitching ideas, you can check it out the same site at
So what drove me back to the internet for more ideas?
I just can’t decide what to do with that crayon patchwork quilt square.
It seems to me that my biggest issue with deciding what to do from here is that
I have only one lonely quilt square. I have learned that if I had more, the
decision would be an easier one.
Having said that, I have been given a few suggestions. I really like the twist on
the whole runner idea – putting the quilted square as the centre of a tablecloth
– a sort of inset hotplate, if you will. And I agree that it would make a great
wall hanging if you had the perfect place to hang it. (Since that suggestion was
made, I found a free pattern for a Christmas swag from that
could be an interesting approach to a making wallhanging from my crayon
patchwork square.)
That, and I am still working with the idea of the quilt square as a gift basket
(the free pattern is found on  But then again, my little quilt s
quare might just become a very pretty doll quilt.
I think more than finding the perfect thing to do with this particular quilt
square, the most important part of this project is finding that crayons can make
a great faux patchwork effect. And this will have great implications for my
future creative endeavours.

For instance, I can see wonderful Christmas tree skirts with handcoloured and
machine stitched scenes.  Or… if I had coloured in a board game layout instead
of a patchwork quilt square, I would have a really great travel gameboard.

But I think that the most interesting idea came from with her
tuturial for a quilted notecard. I can just imagine how great a crayon
handcoloured quilted notecard would look! What a wonderful way to say Merry Christmas :)

Colour – A – Quilt Square

I finished colouring. All I can say is I must be a very slow colour-er because it
took me longer to colour the 12 inch square than it did to do a little machine
quilting on top of my colouring!

In any case, I can honestly say that I am still not entirely happy with the
studio, and they like the colours. I guess it is just one of those personal taste

So what did I do?

Okay – just to back track a little bit, these instructions are based on using
beeswax crayons or fabric crayons. I have no experience with using regular
crayons with this type of work, and although they may work, I cannot speak
from any sort of experience. If you want to try this with regular crayons, you
will have to experiment a little yourself.

Here is a quick pic of my project (so far…) but please understand that this is
one of those projects where the picture does NOT do the project any justice.
This looks MUCH better in person.

Crayon Patchwork #2 - a work still in progress

Once I had finished colouring my square (to see how I got my pattern, check yesterday’s blog post), I placed the fabric face down on a piece of paper and
ironed it on the backside of the design, on med heat with the steam function
turned off. It didn’t take long (just seconds, really) to melt the wax and set
the design.

After ironing, the design seems just a little more stiff, but just ignore that. It
has no impact on the rest of the project, and will soften again as you work.

Then, I cut a piece of quilting batting (I prefer to work with a natural quilt
batting like cotton or wool – but any kind of quilt batting will work.) and another piece of the broadcloth to the same dimensions as my original piece of broadcloth. After
pinning the pieces together in a sandwich fashion – broadcloth with my design
on it, right side facing up, then the batting, then the last piece of broadcloth
as a backing – I took to the sewing machine.

Now, I decided that I wanted to sew on every line I had drawn so that it would
mimic a quilt square, but there is nothing saying that you have to do this.

You can choose how much or how little sewing you want to do. In fact, as I
started sewing, I decided that there were some areas of the square that I
wanted to have more stitching, adding rows and some decoration. And, as I
look at it again, there are still some areas that I might add some more.

But the question of the day is much the same as yesterday – Now that all of that
is done (and it only took about 30 minutes to sew), what am I going to use the
single quilt square for?

I still can’t decide. Any thoughts?

Beyond Glue… Let’s Talk Crayons!

Okay. Since I promised not to talk about glue any more, I thought that I would turn my attention to crayons.

I was working on some product development work in the studio last week, and all my spare time was devoted to finding fabric crayons. I remembered using them when I was a kid, but couldn’t seem to find them anywhere when I needed them last week. I finally found them, but not before I got a little inventive and started trying the regular crayons I have around the studio. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the child-safe beeswax crayons just new to the studio work fabulously on fabric. Not only that, but they stay on through a cold water wash whether they have been heat set or not.


But the real reason I bring this up is because when I was searching for the fabric crayons online, I came across a fabric artist, Carol Ingram, that was using crayons with quilting to do some phenomenal work. Sulky of America has posted instructions for one of her projects for free on their site, so go and check it out – it is gorgeous :)

Now that I knew I had crayons that worked well on fabric (each brand of crayons is different, so you will have to check out the crayons you want to work with before you start a project like this… make sure you test them in the wash too!), I was intrigued with the idea of using the crayons in some sort of quilting work. I liked the way Carol’s project turned out, and I wanted to give some version of it a try.

But I have never really quilted before.

So… I knew that I would be biting off way more that I should if I tried that project as is – my project needed to be simple. Something with simple sewing and lots of crayon colouring.

A basic quilting square!

I went to my trusty quilting book (yes, I have a trusty quilting book even though I don’t quilt. There is no explaining my mind sometimes…) by Better Homes and Gardens called 101 full-sized Quilt Blocks and Borders. I picked a pretty basic square, traced it onto my piece of broadcloth fabric with a regular fine marker (mine wasn’t a fabric marker, and it kind of bled a little when I left the marker on the fabric too long, but that is okay because I ended up colouring over my lines anyway).

Then I took the crayons to the fabric and started colouring. I am not done yet – really only half way through (I guess I am a slow colour-er?). I don’t love my colour choices, but I am dedicated to seeing it finished because I have learned that there are a lot of times I really don’t like the project at the half way point only to love it at the end. In any case, here is what it looks like so far:

Crayon Patchwork - a work in progress

I really don’t know what it will be when it is done – a pillow? a bag? maybe part of a larger wall hanging? – but that is a problem for tomorrow. Right now, I am going to enjoy how relaxing colouring is (I had forgotten how enjoyable the simple act of colouring can be) and the rest will have to work itself out by tomorrow at this time. I really can’t decide what it will be…