I’ve got a fever!

And the only prescription is… more Mod Podge!

notebooks decorated with magazine cutouts and other paper, via mod podge

It started with the silver notebook. I got it for free at work but it had a big ol’ vendor logo across the front. I wanted to cover it, and pulled out a magazine clipping from my stash – but my Mod Podge was nowhere to be found (it probably dried up). After procuring new Podge, I covered that, but then thought, “what other notebooks could I decorate?”

I wasn’t so keen on the tan plaid notebook to begin with; it came in a set. The chickens, from the back cover of a calendar, dress it up nicely, despite one likely being 90 degrees incorrectly positioned. The gopher-y creature was the front of a birthday card received from my parents years ago. I liked that notebook fine, but the whole back cover still has the zig-zag lines so there’s no real loss.

At that point I thought my supply had dried up – my remaining notebooks were too attractive to decoupage some random paper onto. Then I had a meeting and took the pinkish notebook – and realized I’d been using it for two years and was only maybe 1/4 through. Boring! Addition time. I do wish I’d trimmed out some of the white between the leaves near the bottom of the image, but it’s nice nonetheless.

Decoupage: highly recommended for instant gratification.


Four years in the making…..

photo of a flexagon face photo of a flexagon face

In 2012 I cut out triangles of paper to glue together into a dodecahexaflexagon (documented in a post about a smaller flexagon). I also found instructions: scanned typed instructions from David Pleacher, and instructions incorporating triangle orientation from Kathryn Huxtable.

A dodecahexaflexagon is a 12-faced (the dodeca-, as you will know if you’ve read The Phantom Tollbooth, or been a long-time reader of this blog), 6-sided (hexa-) flexagon; each face is made from 6 equilateral triangles. I had cut each face from a different scrapbook paper, and I had small squares of white paper to serve as hinges.

In the summer of 2014 I dug out the paper pieces and started gluing them together. I glued one side of the strip together in an evening, but didn’t get back to the other side until now. The second side was quite easy, since on side 1 the faces were scattered around and on side two they were much more orderly.

photo of in-progress flexagon strip, one side glued together photo of flexagon midway through folding process

There was some confusion in the folding and a length of time before I found all 12 faces. I didn’t know the trick! To flex, you’ll pinch the hexagon so that three of the lines between triangles are outward corners and three are inward corners (see photo below). Which edges are inward and which outward will change which face you see next (in some cases you’ll only be able to flex in one configuration). To see all of them, you can simply pinch out the same corner over and over again, only rotating to a neighboring corner if it is impossible to flex the first one. I found hanging on to the same pair of faces with one hand, doing the rest of the work with the other, was the best way to enact that. It is awkwardly thick and I’m glad I spaced the triangles apart a bit with the paper squares.

photo of flexagon mid-flex

Each face is connected to at least two additional faces. I haven’t explored thoroughly enough to know whether I found the full set of options, but I made a little map and had each face connected to 2, 4, or 6 others, with complicated interconnection. This lines up with a diagram on Kathryn Huxtable’s general flexagon page, where I also learned about the “pinch one corner repeatedly” method of finding all the faces.

Want more flexagons? Harold McIntosh has an interesting read about the history and theory of flexagons, and Vi Hart’s videos and more (the first of which inspired my flexagon crafting) are all on a hexaflexagon page of puzzles.com. Woolly Thoughts, a bastion of mathematics-inspired crafting, has a page of crochet and knit flexagon cushions.

On the uses of tracing paper

silver-valley-275289_640 Early this year I used tracing paper in two different ways in short order, so I thought I’d write a little post about it.

The main way was for patterns to stitch through, whether by machine or by hand. For the sample embroidered seam block I made for my second crazy quilting class, I used strips of tracing paper to make evenly-spaced repeating stitch patterns from my graph paper sketches. It was a mixed blessing – the stitching creates the perforations to tear along to remove the paper, so shorter stitches = easier removal. Mine were long and tearing the paper without stressing the stitches was a challenge. I also had trouble with the stitches getting loose when I tore away the paper and had to consciously stitch more tightly than I normally would to accommodate it. One piece of advice unrelated to my block: don’t fill areas while the tracing paper is still attached because you will never get it out.

Advice from elsewhere: Susan at Plays with Needles recommends Bienfang brand tracing paper in particular. I’ve only tried what I have – Strathmore – and it’s fine, but takes a little effort to sew through. I’ll test out Bienfang when I need a refill. If it’s easier to tear that will help a lot with avoiding stitch distortion.

monogram applique and its pattern I also printed a large letter to be used as an applique pattern. I put tracing paper through the printer by trimming it to about 8″x10.5″ and taping it across the top to a standard sheet of letter paper, an idea I got from a tutorial for decorating candles with printed tissue paper. I generally use a small piece of tape at each end of the short edge and two more equally spaced in between.

Advice here: if you’re printing large solid letters and don’t have a way to convert them to outline, change them to a nice medium gray. Then you use less ink, which means less time to dry and less distortion from soaking the paper. For my applique I straight-stitched by machine around the outline of the letter, removed the paper and trimmed the applique fabric as close as possible to the stitch line, and then made a tight, narrow zigzag all the way around. In one spot my trimming was a little too close and I had to recapture the fabric with the zigzag, but most of it went as planned.

[This pattern was for a gift for friends we see very infrequently, and in fact we passed it to a mutual friend and it may not even have made it to them yet, but I am tired of holding on to this post until the gift is given!]

Incidentally, the letter shown is Oleo Script Swash Caps, a font that’s free for commercial use. The designer also has the plainer Oleo Script, but I specifically wanted an E with loops in it. Both are thick enough that at a large size you don’t even need boldface to make a good applique letter.

tracing paper rub-on My second recent use for tracing paper was to make my own rub-on transfer. I was drawing a greeting card and had a little fuzzball character that I didn’t trust to come out as well in future versions, so I traced him with a soft pencil (4B), turned the tracing over, and rubbed with the (eraserless) back end of the pencil to transfer graphite. Then I went back with a colored pencil to finish the drawing. It worked really well, and I was even able to face him in opposite directions by turning the tracing paper over, using the first trace as an image to trace again, and rubbing the second version onto the page. In the photo, where I’ve transferred but not drawn over the image, you can see where the first version rubbed onto the scratch paper a bit, ghostly under the tracing paper (which itself is not easy to see).

By the way, as I focus less on blogging I’ve found myself using Facebook a bit more, mostly for random crafty links I come across (though the Fun With Vintage Patterns album gradually grows). I’m not regular with it, but moreso than here.